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Winter driving safety tips

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., -- A member of the 55th Civil Engineering Squadron, clears snow on the flight line here January 12. During the winter months, Nebraska residents can experience some harsh conditions. With this in mind, members of Team Offutt are encouraged to call the Snow and Information Line at 232-COLD to get the latest news on official delayed reporting and base closures. U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., -- A member of the 55th Civil Engineering Squadron, clears snow on the flight line here January 12. During the winter months, Nebraska residents can experience some harsh conditions. With this in mind, members of Team Offutt are encouraged to call the Snow and Information Line at 232-COLD to get the latest news on official delayed reporting and base closures. U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond

OMAHA, Neb. -- Over the next couple of months, snow accumulation will be a reality for the greater Omaha metro area. The following are important tips and reminders to help keep people safe on the road.

"Winter weather can change quickly, and we want to educate everyone to be prepared to handle snow, sleet, ice and the hazardous road conditions they can pose," said Kay Farrell, president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council Greater Omaha Chapter. "Our goal is to keep the community safe, accident and injury free. We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to review these important tips."

In case of snow, ice and slick roads:

· Slow down - Even if you have four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive traction control or anti-lock brakes

· Leave a greater following distance than normal

· Be patient - Many people may also be running late like yourself

· Be prepared for sudden stops

· Finally, stagger your commute time if possible. Leave the office later to avoid the big rush

To make it safely through the winter, here are some additional suggestions from the National Safety Council to make sure you and your vehicle are prepared.

Weather

At any temperature--20 degrees below zero or 90 degrees above--weather affects road and driving conditions and can pose serious problems.
It is important to listen to forecasts on radio, television, cable weather channels or forecasts in daily papers.

Necessary equipment

An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time and you must be prepared. Following a tune-up, a full tank of gas and fresh anti-freeze, your trunk should carry:

· A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack

· A shovel

· Jumper cables

· Tow and tire chains

· A bag of salt or cat litter

· Tool kit

Essential supplies

Be prepared with a survival kit that should always remain in the car. Replenish after use. Essential supplies include:

· Working flashlight and extra batteries

· Reflective triangles or brightly-colored cloth

· Compass

· First-aid kit

· Exterior windshield cleaner

· Ice scraper and snow brush

· Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container

· Scissors, string and cord

· Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits or hard candy

In addition, if you're driving long distances in cold, snowy and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm, such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets.

If you become stranded:

· Don't leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help and are certain you will improve your situation.

· To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.

· If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe isn't blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.

· To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.

· Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
· Eat hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

For more safety tips, visit www.safenebraska.org.