According to a recent survey conducted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, about 75 percent of Indiana respondents indicated they did not have a preparedness kit in their vehicle. Officials are encouraging Hoosiers to check their tire pressure and tread depth, the age of car batteries, anti-freeze levels and age, car heater and defroster operation, as well as windshield wipers and blades.
In addition to winter vehicle preparation, IDHS suggests creating and putting a winter weather preparedness kit in each vehicle in case of a weather-related emergency like an accident, car trouble or slide-offs. An emergency car kit is essential any time of year and should include the following items, with special emphasis this time of year on water, food and warmth:
· At least two blankets or a sleeping bag;
· Flashlight and extra batteries;
· Booster (jumper) cables;
· Emergency flares;
· Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves;
· Bottled water and non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or cheese crackers;
· First-aid kit and necessary medications;
· Sand or non-clumping kitty litter for tire traction;
· Cell phone and charger for vehicle use; and
· Ice scraper and snow brush.
Erickson says drivers who become stranded should try to stay calm, call for help if possible and keep in mind the following precautions:
· Unless there is a safe structure nearby, do not leave the car, since it is the best protection;
· Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. An idling car only uses about one gallon of gas per hour;
· Tie a brightly colored cloth to the car for rescuers to see;
· Light a flare or turn on a flashlight to let others know you are stranded;
· Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of any blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and
· Keep hydrated by drinking water from your preparedness kit. Don’t eat snow, as it will lower body temperature.
During severe winter weather or if inclement weather is approaching, IDHS recommends staying home, if possible. If the trip is absolutely necessary, Erickson says it’s a good idea to let someone know your destination, route and expected time of arrival.