As a major storm bears down on the region, the American Red Cross reminds people to take precautions when driving in inclement weather. According to the National Weather Service, about 70 percent of winter deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.
“The best thing to do is to avoid travel at all during the storm,” said Maria White, CEO of New Hampshire Region. “Stay safe, stay home and give road crews the opportunity to do their job.” If you must travel, White said, there are important tips to keep in mind.
The National Weather Service reports that many people die each year when they attempt to leave their vehicle during a storm to walk to safety. Stranded drivers should stay with their car, tie a bright piece of cloth to the car’s antenna or door handle and try to contact emergency personnel by mobile phone.
While stranded, drivers should start and run their car for 10 minutes every hour, using the heater. Be sure that your exhaust pipe and radiator are clear of packed snow before running your engine. While the engine is running, partially open a down-wind window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and to get fresh air into the vehicle. Keep the vehicle’s interior lights on while the engine is running. Avoid hypothermia by constantly moving your arms and leg; clapping hands will help keep you warm as well. Warning signs of hypothermia are memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion and uncontrollable shivering.
White reminded people to carry essential supplies. “You should have some basics on hand – such as a flashlight, extra batteries and bottled water – in case you do get stuck somewhere. Also, be sure to carry a cell phone and car charger.”
A winter travel survival kit may include:
Other travel tips:
Visit www.redcross.org/prepare for more information on preparing for cold weather.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/nh or call us at 1-800-464-6692. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross in New Hampshire at P.O. Box 2528, Concord, NH 03302-2528. Please consider joining us as we empower others to prepare, prevent and respond to emergencies.