Be Prepared for Winter Travel

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
November 23, 2016

Every local Kansan knows the weather here can turn on a dime. Because you just never know, everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in their vehicle. If you do encounter an emergency, it could be the difference in helping you get back on the road or at least keep you safe until help arrives.

Here’s what an expert climatologist says you need: windshield scraper with a broom, flashlight with extra batteries, battery powered radio, first aid kit with a pocket knife, blankets, extra mittens, hats and socks, matches and small candles, water bottles, snacks – including energy bars, raisins and mini candy bars – and necessary medications.

A tow chain or rope, shovel, road salt, sand or kitty litter for traction, booster cables, emergency flares and reflectors, fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention, and cell phone adapter to plug into the lighter should also be in the kit.

Climatologist Mary Knapp is with the K-State Research and Extension office. She also recommends keeping the gas tank as full as possible in case you encounter delays.

“It may not be you that has difficulty,” she said.  “But if you encounter an accident on the freeway, you may be delayed for a considerable time as that is being cleared away.”

Also, tell someone where you’re going, the route you’ll be taking, and when you expect to arrive. If the roads become snow-packed or icy, Knapp warns against driving too close to the vehicle in front of you -- although no one likes a tailgater no matter what the weather’s doing.

“Even if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle that allows you to move through those snow-packed areas, it’s not going to improve your ability to stop on a icy or slick surface,” said Knapp.

If you do get stuck, tie a fluorescent flag on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep the dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. And, stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm is just asking for trouble.