Written by The Herald-News
NOAA’s National Wea-ther Service has designated the week of Oct. 21-25 as Winter Weather Awareness Week in Montana.
Each year, winter storms claim dozens of lives and cause millions of dollars in damage. Winter Weather Awareness Week is the annual reminder that now is the time for Montana citizens to prepare themselves, their home and their vehicle before the extremely cold, windy and snowy weather grips the state.
Winter Weather Awareness Week offers information and ideas on how to prepare for the upcoming winter weather. Topics highlighted during the week include: Be Prepared Ahead of the Storm, Safety: Caught in the Storm and Weather Information Resources.
Be prepared for the next winter storm by monitoring National Weather Service outlooks, forecasts, watches and warnings through your favorite radio or television station, NOAA Weather Radio or the National Weather Service website at http://www.weather.gov.
Citizens can also follow the NWS via Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, where the service will be posting videos about traveling in Montana in the winter, putting together a winter survival kit and looking at the terms and definitions the service uses in winter.
Anyone looking for additional Winter Weather Awareness information can to go the National Weather Service Forecast in Glasgow’s website, the National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services’ website or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
Winter Survival Kit
Here are items people can throw together for a Winter Survival Kit if you are traveling in Montana during the winter: Cell phone and charger, first-aid kit, ice scraper, spare tire, water bottle, non-perishable food, paper towels, flares, whistles, flashlight with extra batteries, waterproof matches, maps, a compass and a multi-tool kit.
For those who have a larger vehicle, you should also consider taking sleeping bags, a small bag of sand or cat litter, battery booster and a small metal can.
Prior to leaving for your trip, you should fuel up your vehicle and try to stay above half a tank during the trip. You should also check road conditions and the weather forecast before leaving.
You should also tell someone where you are going, what route you are taking. You should also call that person once you have arrived safely at your destination.
If you run into problems, such as your vehicle getting stuck, you should keep the following items and methods in mind:
You can use a tow rope, not a chain to pull a vehicle that is stuck. Make sure it is no longer than 6 feet. Chains can backlash, and cause serious injuries or death. If a chain is the only available item, throw a heavy jacket or blanket over it before attempting to tow a vehicle out.
If your vehicle is stuck and it looks like you may be in the vehicle for awhile, keep these tips in mind:
•Stay with the vehicle, unless you can clearly see sturdier/warmer shelter.
•Run the engine 10 minutes each hour for heat, and crack the window just a bit.
•Keep the tailpipe clear.
•A hubcap or visor can be used as a shovel.
•Burning oil in a hubcap may allow rescuers to find you if conditions have improved.
•Distress Signal is: Honk your horn for three long blasts, 10 seconds apart. Repeat every 30 seconds.