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Winter Storm Impacts Indiana Travel

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Indiana Department of Homeland Security News Release (Dec 26 2012):
INDIANAPOLIS - With high winds and significant amounts of snow in the forecast for much of Indiana, state officials are warning Hoosiers to prepare now.

Preparations include charging cell phones and other items in case power is interrupted, evaluating whether driving is necessary, taking your time if you decide to drive, and gathering items for your car and home in case they're needed.

State of Indiana agencies, including the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission have been monitoring impending weather and are increasing staffing levels as needed.

The National Weather Service expects snow to begin falling early Wednesday morning and to continue through Wednesday evening. High velocity winds, with some significant gusts, are also expected. Residents are advised to stay tuned to local weather sources for conditions in their areas.

Expected snow and ice in some parts of the state may make travel conditions extremely dangerous. All individuals in the path of this storm are strongly encouraged to have alternate plans in case hazardous weather conditions disrupt daily routines.

Travel Advisories
Go to getprepared.in.gov and click on "Indiana Travel Advisory Map" at the top of the page. The map is updated with information from counties and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory and caution.

The page also has links to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Traffic Wise information.

A travel "advisory" is notification that travel may be restricted in some areas.  Under a "watch" level, only essential travel is recommended. A travel advisory at a "warning" level means travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only.

DO NOT call city, county or state police to check on road conditions – police agencies across the state want to keep phone lines open for emergency phone calls.  Dial toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, crashes and other traffic alerts.

Winter Driving Safety
ISP and INDOT advise those considering going out onto the roads to check the weather forecast and traffic information before leaving, and allow extra time if you decide driving is necessary. If you must drive during any period of the storm, make sure you have a fully charged and functioning cell phone.  IDHS also recommends carrying blankets, extra water, a small shovel and other items which may be helpful if you find yourself in trouble on the road.

If you become stranded:

Make sure you have at least a quarter tank of gas in your vehicle before you leave.  This will help prevent the fuel line from freezing.
Unless there is immediately accessible, better shelter such as a building, do not leave your car.
Keep the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen (remember to keep the windows cracked).
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see.
Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. Remember, an idling car uses only one gallon of gas per hour.
Keep the exhaust pipe free of blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
If involved in a crash and no one is injured and the involved vehicles are still drivable, move to a safe area to exchange names, vehicle and license plate information, along with driver license number and insurance agent name and phone number with the other driver
During severe weather conditions law enforcement will be busy responding to emergency calls and will not be able to take reports of crashes where there is only damage to property
Vehicles left abandoned along interstate and state road right-of-ways are subject to immediate removal during inclement weather events
Power Outages
With weather systems like this it's not uncommon to see widespread power outages. While utility companies will be working to quickly repair any outages, storms of this size and magnitude often make it very difficult to restore power immediately.

Essential supplies to gather ahead of time in case utilities are disrupted:

Food and water for three days (includes three (3) gallons of water per person, per day)
Battery operated or hand crank all hazards radio
Flashlight
Extra batteries for radio and flashlight
Extra clothing, warm blankets, sleeping bags for staying warm in your home if you lose power
Special items (baby formula, insulin, medications)
 If you can’t stay in your home due to cold temperatures, call your local authorities to find the location of a shelter. Charge cell phones, laptops and other devices now so that if power goes out, you will have a maximum charge on electronic devices.

For more information on winter travel safety, visit www.Getprepared.in.gov  .

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