On-the-Road Tips for Safe Travel in Snow

ANYWHERE IT'S SNOWING -- Driving on area roadways in the kind of weather we're looking at could be difficult -- and lead to unexpected dangers.

A mechanical failure, for example, could leave you stranded -- and help could take a while to reach you. News 11's Shelley Brown found some tips on what you should have in your car -- just in case you have a winter emergency on the road.

You never know when you're going to run into an emergency. Experts say it's better to be prepared, especially if you're traveling long distances. Besides a car tune-up, experts say you'll want to have a full tank of gas and keep a survival kit, including a blanket, in the trunk before you start up your car and hit the road in wintry conditions.

You may want to stock up your trunk with emergency supplies, experts say.

"I think a lot of people should have a little bit of food. Something that's non-perishable. Granola bars, trail mix, things like that," said Mark Hetrick, assistant manager at The Andersons.

In addition to food, Hetrick says it's a good idea to have an auto safety kit "just-in case."

A 92-piece safety kit has a flashlight, rope, road hazard indicator, tools to change a tire and jumper cables. If you're on your own with a dead battery, jumper cables won't help. But a portable "jump start" will.

"It's a combination of a very bright light and an actual 12-volt power station with jumper cable. It's like having the other car with its battery there for you," Hetrick said.

Also, a de-icer spray and scraper all in one can come in handy. And stocking up on de-icer windshield washer fluid is a good idea, too.

An extender snow shovel -- small enough for any trunk -- is also a good idea. And salt. Or even better, cat litter. Experts say it's a nice alternative that gives you an instant grip in snow or ice.

The idea behind all of this is: Be prepared.

Here's a list of phone numbers and links you can use when winter weather strikes:

Preparing for Safe Winter Travel:

Extreme Cold Safety Guide from the Centers for Disease Control
Cold Weather Fact Sheet from the American Red Cross
Staying Safe in Cold Weather from the American Red Cross
Winter Storms: The Silent Killers from the NOAA

Road Conditions:

Ohio             1-888-264-7623
Michigan       1-800-381-8477
ODOT Transportation System Snow Information
ODOT District 2 Headquarters

Snow Emergency Levels:

According to Ohio Attorney General Opinion 86-023, the Sheriff of a county may declare a snow emergency and temporarily close county and township roads within his jurisdiction for the preservation of the public peace.

Sheriffs in Ohio have established the following guidelines:

  • LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads are also icy. Drive very cautiously.
  • LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
  • LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to arrest.

County sheriffs also have the ability to close all roads in the county, which includes any city road in their jurisdiction.

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