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Now is the time to prepare your vehicle for winter weather

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While you’re out buying groceries and supplies ahead of the impending winter storm, you should also pick up a few items for your car’s winter emergency kit.

During a winter storm, the safest place to be is at home. But the timing of the late-week winter blast means harsh winds, biting cold, and heavy snow will arrive just as many Hoosiers are hitting the road for the Christmas holiday.

Before you head out, prepare your vehicle and make sure your winter emergency kit is ready to go, says Mike Pruitt, deputy chief for the Bargersville Community Fire Department.

“Make sure that vehicle is in good operational condition. If haven’t gotten it mechanically checked, get that done,” Pruitt said. “Always make sure that you’re filled up on washer fluid. Fuel is very important. Those are the main things in your car. Once our cars are in mechanical order, then we want to make sure we have the essentials for travel inside.”

Having a winter emergency kit stocked with essentials can make a big difference if you become stranded in your vehicle stranded in a winter storm, according to Pruitt.

“A lot of times, we get stranded in our car and, because the wrecker drivers are so busy, and maybe emergency responders are so busy, it may be a little bit longer response time for someone to come and help you,” Pruitt said.

Suggested items for a winter emergency kit include:

  • Bag of sand or cat litter (for better tire traction) 
  • Blankets or a sleeping bag 
  • Cash 
  • First Aid kit 
  • Flashlight and extra batteries 
  • Fully-charged cell phone and charger
  • Ice scraper and snow brush 
  • Jumper cables 
  • Maps 
  • Mittens, scarves, and hats
  • Non-perishable, high-protein food 
  • Portable phone charger 
  • Road flares 
  • Shovel 
  • Water 
  • Weather radio 

When you’re planning your trip, Pruitt suggests giving yourself extra time to get to your destination. It could take hours — not minutes — to get where you’re going.

Other winter travel safety tips include:

  • Check to see if a travel watch or warning has been issued for your area.
  • Clear all windows, mirrors, headlights, and taillights of ice and snow before and during your commute
  • Wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers are properly restrained.
  • Beware of bridges and overpasses — ice tends to form here first.
  • Avoid using your cruise control on ice- and snow-covered roads.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Decrease your travel speed for better control and reaction time.
  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Move over and slow down for emergency vehicles, snowplows, and highway service vehicles.

Looking for more winter weather travel tips? Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

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