Officials urge drivers to create emergency kit in preparation for winter weather

With snow and icy weather on its way into Georgia again, now might be a good time to look at putting together an emergency kit for your vehicle.

According to www.ready.gov, the National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to storms. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

The website www.ready.gov recommends the following:

• A shovel

• Windshield scraper and small broom

• Flashlight

• Battery powered radio

• Extra batteries

• Water

• Snack food

• Matches

• Extra hats, socks and mittens

• First aid kit with pocket knife

• Necessary medications

• Blanket(s)

• Tow chain or rope

• Road salt and sand

• Booster cables

• Emergency flares

• Fluorescent distress flag

In the event bad weather traps you in a vehicle, www.ready.gov offers this advice:

• Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.

• Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.

• Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.

• Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.

• Eat regularly and drink ample fluids to avoid dehydration, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

• Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs — the use of lights, heat, and radio — with supply.

• Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.

• If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.

• Leave the car and proceed on foot — if necessary — once the blizzard passes.