Winter Weather Awareness Week, November 11–15

Posted on 11/8/2019 12:44:02 PM

The first day of winter will be here before we know it—it’s just a little over a month away! Winter can be an especially challenging time in Pennsylvania, as cold weather brings its own unique concerns and dangers. That is why it’s important to prepare now. The IUP Emergency Management Office recommends you start taking steps to ensure you’re prepared to stay safe and warm throughout the winter months.

Driving on snow or ice-covered roads can be extremely hazardous. Before starting a trip when the weather is bad, be sure to check road conditions on 511PA, Pennsylvania's official travel information service, which provides travelers with reliable and current traffic and weather information.

Drivers should be sure to stock their vehicles with an emergency supply kit, in the event they are stranded on the roadside and need to wait for assistance. It is also encouraged to keep at least a half tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.

The emergency supply kit should include:

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snack food
  • Water
  • Sand or cat litter
  • A shovel
  • Booster cables
  • A cell phone charger
  • car

Tips for Driving in the Snow

  • Stay home. Only go out if necessary. 
  • Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry, and take time to slow down for a stoplight. 
  • Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

Tips for Long-Distance Winter Trips

  • Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route and, when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.
  • Stay Connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination, and estimated time of arrival.

If you get stuck in the snow:

  • Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t overexert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
  • Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice, or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
  • Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. 
  • Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.