PROVIDENCE, R.I., November 25, 2014 – While the Thanksgiving holiday brings increased traffic on the roads, this year may also bring a snowstorm that could complicate travel plans for many in 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.
While the worst of the storm is not forecast to affect Rhode Island, many people may travel to affected areas, said American Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman. “Many Rhode Islanders may find themselves on the road in the first snow of the season, so we are reminding them of some important tips, even though we may not see significant snow in much of the state.”
Shipman suggested drivers adjust their schedules if they know they will be traveling in a snow-affected area to avoid being on the road at peak travel times or during the height of the storm. “Give road crews the opportunity to do their job,” Shipman said. If you plan to travel on this snowy Thanksgiving, Shipman said, there are important tips to keep in mind.
“Allow for extra travel time,” Shipman said. “And take it slow on the roads, leaving plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you.”
Other travel tips:
- Keep up with news and weather for the latest road conditions
- Drive with your headlights on
- Keep all your windows and all lights clear of snow for visibility
- Clear all surfaces of the car. Snow and ice blowing off the hood of your car can blind you or damage your windshield. Snow and ice blowing off your roof or trunk can blind drivers behind you or damage their vehicle.
- Slow down when visibility is reduced; don't drive faster than your ability to see ahead on the road
- Leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road. All-wheel drive vehicles do not stop any better or more quickly than conventional vehicles.
- Remember bridges and overpasses usually freeze before other roads. Use caution.
- Travel with a full tank of gas in the event you are stuck in traffic or stranded due to road conditions.
- Be sure your mobile phone is fully charged when you leave home; carry a charging device in your vehicle.
- Make sure you and all passengers are wearing your safety belts.
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.
If 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 legs; 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.
Shipman 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."
A winter travel survival kit may include:
- Snow brush
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Booster cables
- Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
- First aid kit and manual
- Bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods, such as nutrition bars, raisins and peanut butter
- Compass and road maps
- Extra clothing to keep dry
- Sack of sand or cat litter (to use for tire traction)
Visit www.redcross.org/prepare for more information on preparing for cold weather.