Road conditions, as we all know, can quickly change during the winter months.
As the holiday travel season continues, citizens are encouraged to place emergency preparedness kits in their vehicles. Upper Midwest winters can produce extremely cold temperatures, large amounts of snow and bursts of freezing rain. In the event of an emergency, help may not be immediately available.
By having an emergency preparedness kit in a vehicle, a person can survive until help arrives.
"A vehicle emergency preparedness kit adds a sense of safety and security when traveling to destinations this holiday season. If an incident does happen, you will be prepared and ready," said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, commander of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division at Michigan State Police.
If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.
Items to include in a vehicle emergency preparedness kit include:
- Hand-crank radio.
- Hand-crank flashlight.
- Cell phone charger.
- Windshield scraper.
- Blanket and extra clothes.
- Tire repair kit and pump.
- Emergency contact list.
- De-icer and extra anti-freeze.
- "Call Police" or other "Help" sign.
- Jumper cables.
- Tow chain or rope.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction.
- First aid kit.
- Bottled water and nonperishable, high-energy foods (e.g., granola bars, canned nuts, raisins, hard candy, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers).
In addition to having a vehicle emergency preparedness kit, motorists are reminded to take extra precautions when stopping and driving in the winter weather.
Remember to do all of your braking before the turn is made and take proper line of travel through the turn to reduce the potential for a skid to occur. If your car begins to skid, let off the throttle and brakes and use a quick hand-over-hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.
"A vehicle's handling capability is drastically reduced in winter weather, so take it slow on ice and snow," Kelenske said. "Be sure to leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Always keep your focus on the road and avoid cell phone use while driving."
Safe winter driving tips:
- Keep tires at the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.
- Keep windshield solvent at full strength and make sure the reservoir is full, and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.
- Wash your vehicle for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.
- Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.
- Have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic before making long-distance trips.
Travelers may visit www.michigan.gov/roadconditions and www.michigan.gov/drive to check road conditions before traveling. Weather and road conditions are also available by calling the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477. Please view these websites or call the Travel Hotline rather than calling your local state police or 911.
The Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is responsible for coordinating state and federal resources to assist local government in response and relief activities in the event of an emergency or disaster, as well as coordinating homeland security initiatives and various federal grants.