By EVAN WADE
Winter weather in Indiana is a mixed blessing. While snowfall does make for striking scenery and a quiet outdoors, it can also cause wrecks, power outages, and other problems.
To combat these problems, Gov. Joe Kernan declared the week of Nov. 16-22 Winter Weather Awareness Week. An eight-page release from the National Weather Service Central Region Headquarters outlined several ways to stay safe during the holidays when travelling, working, or just lounging at home.
Preparation is the best way to avoid winter weather-related problems. According to the release, it is helpful to have a flashlight with extra batteries, a portable radio, extra food and water, first aid supplies, and an emergency heating source at home and work. It is wise to fully check and winterize a vehicle before storms hit, making sure to carry snow tires and a survival kit with matches, sand, a shovel, roadmaps, and other items that could be useful.
When driving, be sure to allow extra braking distance between you and the car ahead of you. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and any snowplows on the road. Bridges and overpasses become icy first, so take extra caution when driving on them.
Ron Chamberlain, supervisor of the County Highway Department, said that the best advice one can use when driving in adverse conditions is to use common sense. "Drive slower and more cautiously in slick conditions," he said. "We sand and salt the roads a lot in the snow, but you still have to take it kind of slow. Hopefully it won't be a severe winter, but we'll try to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us.
"Basically, just drive to the road conditions," he continued. "Pay attention. Slower driving will help a lot."
The NWS release also gives tips on how to handle being stuck in a winter storm. In a home or building, it says, keeping heat is important. To help conserve it, close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels in cracks under doors, and cover windows at night. It also says to wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
When stranded in a car or truck, stay in the vehicle as long as you can. A person walking in severe winter weather can quickly become disoriented. Run your car motor for ten minutes out of every hour in the car to keep warm, cracking the window a bit for fresh air. To make yourself visible to rescuers, turn on your dome light at night and raise your hood to indicate trouble.