Wolf Point Herald

Winter Weather Awareness Week A Good Time To Prepare

The week of Oct. 15-19 is "Winter Weather Awareness Week" in Montana.
Each year in the United States, there are an average of 7,100 weather related vehicle fatalities, accounting for 24 percent of all vehicle fatalities. This is more than all other weather related deaths combined. Winter storms also claim dozens of lives in non-vehicle related accidents, and cause hundreds of millions in damages and resources to handle the snow event. In Montana, cold weather exposure and automobile accidents are the main causes of winter weather related deaths.
Now is the time to make sure you are ready for winter weather. Check things around your home. Remove dead branches, clean out the gutters, clean the fireplace or wood stove chimney and stockpile enough water for everyone in your household (at least one gallon/person/day) for at least three days, including your pets. Don’t forget to dig out that snow shovel from behind the summer garden tools, and have it ready to go as well, and make sure the flashlights have good batteries in them.
Have your tires checked, and make sure your car is ready. Do you need new windshield wipers? Is your wiper fluid low? How are your brakes? Do you have an engine block heater for your car? Are all your headlights and taillights working? Have the exhaust and battery checked as well. A good mechanic can check all of these things for you and provide recommendations and fixes. And most importantly, put together a survival kit and keep it in your vehicle.
When driving in the winter, remember the following:
•Bridges can be icy, even if roads are just wet. Slow down when approaching a bridge.
•Sharp turns/curves on roads are potential accident areas. Slow down before approaching them.
•Do not use cruise control on icy roads.
•Always wear your seatbelt, even in town.
•Don’t Crowd the Plow! They can’t see you very well, and sometimes not at all. Make sure you stay far enough back. If you can’t see their mirrors you are too close.
•Wear winter weather clothing while driving. If you are in an accident it may take a while for someone to find you and responders to get there. You don’t want frostbite or hypothermia while waiting for help.
•Spend time with teen drivers to show them how to steer through a skid, and discuss the safety rules above.
Additional winter weather awareness and preparedness information is also available at:
http://www.mdt.mt.gov/publications/docs/brochures/winter_maint/winter_survival.pdf (for a hard copy, contact the NWS Glasgow office at 406-228-2850).