By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer
When wintry conditions strike, it can make for treacherous travel. Follow these suggestions for staying safe so you can get over the river and through the woods this winter.
If you do not HAVE to go out, stay home.
– many employers have flexible options for poor weather days – speak with your supervisor and work out a proactive plan that involves Skype, email and instant messages so you can still get the job done.
⁃ generally, meteorologists give plenty of notice when winter storms are on their way. That’s your cue to stock your pantry and tackle any errands that may need to get done prior to being snowed-in.
If you truly need to go out, here’s how to stay safe:
Vehicle: make sure your car has plenty of fuel, windshield washer fluid, a snow brush and a safety kit. The best kits contain: flares, a bright safety vest, a blanket, tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, flashlight and minor first aid supplies. Your vehicle should be equipped with quality tires, working wipers and heat as well as a working defrost system. You’ll also want to make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
Bring enough of the following for each person:
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats
- Newspapers for insulation
- Plastic bags for sanitation
- Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy snacks (Include a non-electric can opener if necessary)
- Warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water
- Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you. Make sure the battery is charged.
- Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person with you.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
- Be on the lookout for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog, which can make driving very hazardous
The drive: Prior to hitting the road, be sure to have your preferred route and a back-up route in-case the weather gets to be too severe. You’ll need to make sure all snow, frost and ice is removed from your vehicle, including the roof.
Once you are behind the wheel, it’s important to maintain proper distance from the vehicles ahead of you. The slick roads could cause breaking to be a challenge so give yourself plenty of space. Additionally, the snow plows on the roads are there for your safety – please be generous with the space you give them, too. The plows generally travel well below the speed limit, so be patient.
As pretty as Northern Ohio winters can be, they can be even more frustrating to navigate. Remember to take your time and take precautions to travel safely. And if it can wait, just enjoy a cup of hot cocoa from the comfort of your warm home!