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emergency preparedness office (epo)

Cold Weather Road Hazards

Vehicle accidents are a serious threat during extremely cold weather: icy and snowy roads cause numerous car crashes every year. If you have to drive in these conditions, be sure your vehicle's emergency kit includes the winter weather supplies listed below; plan ahead and avoid roads that may be dangerous during winter conditions. If your car vehicle becomes stranded or trapped, stay with it and wait for help.

  • If possible, tie a brightly colored cloth to the door handle as a signal to rescuers.
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and to stay warmer.
  • Do not eat snow because it will lower your body temperature.

Emergency Kit Extras for Winter Weather Driving

Travelers who will be driving in winter conditions should add the following items to their vehicle's emergency supply kit:

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Mittens, hand warmers, socks, hats and winter boots
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flashlight, plus extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Healthy snacks, such as granola or protein bars
  • Multi-function tool (such as a Swiss Army Knife)
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles
  • Windshield cleaner
  • Tire chains and tow strap
  • A bag of sand or non-clumping kitty litter to help with traction
  • Collapsible or folding snow shovel                      

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