This is an article from LNP's archives. 

As if winter didn't already seem endless, the coldest air of the season may be on its way to test even the most cold-weather tolerant.

Unfortunately we can't control the weather.

But these simple steps can help you prepare and stay safe at home, behind the wheel and - if you're truly lucky - out of town, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way next.

 

AT HOME

People who are snowed in for an extended period of time have two major concerns: food and heat.

Lancaster County emergency management coordinator Randy Gockley offers tips for making sure your family has plenty of both.

♦ Create a backup plan. Think about what your family would do in case of a power outage or furnace trouble, whether it's bunking with a relative or huddling around a neighbor's fireplace.

♦ When winter weather is predicted, assess your arsenal of basic supplies. Have a two-day supply of food and water, flashlights and lanterns, and extra blankets. Add prescription drugs, baby or pet supplies, based on your family's specific needs.

♦ Homes with a coal or wood stove also should have a carbon monoxide detector. If the alarm goes off or you feel ill, carbon monoxide may be the cause; go outside and call 911.

♦ Pay attention to your home's pipes. Broken pipes can cause serious damage, and repeated freezing and thawing makes them vulnerable. If you see signs of trouble, call a plumber right away.

♦ Check on elderly or disabled neighbors, who can easily end up trapped at home after a storm. Offer help with shoveling and other tasks.

♦ For more information on disaster planning and preparedness, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's ready.gov.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

It's best to stay off the roads when bad weather hits. But if you must travel, PennDOT offers these safety tips.

♦ Visit 511PA.com or call 511, a free 24-hour source of information on winter road conditions, crashes, delays and weather forecasts that affect roadways statewide.

♦ Keep the gas tank at least half-full.

♦ Clear ice and snow from windows, mirrors and vehicle lights as often as needed.

♦ Remove snow and ice from the vehicle's hood and roof. According to state law, a driver can be ticketed if snow or ice from a vehicle hits a vehicle or person, causing death or injury.

♦ Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Then if you run into an emergency and need help, someone will know where to look for you.

TAKE ALONG

♦ Cellphone and charger

♦ Flashlight and batteries

♦ Battery-operated radio

♦ Jumper cables

♦ Snow shovel

♦ Matches and candles

♦ First-aid supplies

♦ Extra warm clothing and gloves

♦ Blanket

♦ Ice scraper

♦ Sand

♦ Bottled water

♦ Nonperishable food

ON THE ROAD

♦ Slow down and increase following distance. Avoid sudden stops and starts.

♦ Beware of roads that look wet but are actually frozen, often referred to as "black ice."

♦ Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can form without warning.

♦ Do not use cruise control when driving on snow-covered roads.

♦ State law requires drivers to turn on headlights when wipers are on. Use low beams in bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.

♦ Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).

IF YOU BECOME STRANDED

♦ Stay with the vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep a downwind window cracked open.

♦ Do not park or abandon a vehicle on snow emergency routes.

IN VACATION MODE

Winter is a great time to get away, but sometimes bad weather threatens those carefully made travel plans. Dorie Weik, public affairs coordinator for AAA Central Penn, offers some advice.

♦ Pay attention to the weather reports - not just for where you live, but for your destination and points in-between. Airport delays elsewhere can cause a domino effect hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

♦ Know your airline's weather-related cancellation policy. If an airline cancels a flight due to bad weather, you generally have more options than if you simply decide to stay home.

♦ Check in with your airline regularly beginning the day before your scheduled departure. Call or visit online for an early heads-up on delays or schedule changes, and ask when you should check in again.

♦ Don't forget your cellphone and charger. Most airports offer spots to recharge phones, so you can stay connected - and entertained - during a delay.

♦ If you're heading to the airport in bad weather, plan to get stuck. Stock carry-on bags with clothing, toiletries, snacks and entertainment options.

♦ Take along a list of phone numbers for your airline, hotel and travel agent. If you are delayed, call your destination right away to find out what will happen if you arrive late or not at all.

♦ Weather also can affect cruises and train travel. Trains can offer an alternative for the hordes of people whose flights are grounded. And what happens if you don't make it in time to board your cruise ship in Miami?

♦ Don't go it alone. Contact your travel agent for advice and alternatives.

♦ Know when to wave the white flag. Recognize and accept that winter travel plans sometimes must be scrapped.

"You have to focus on your priorities," Weik says. "There are times when it's just not a good idea to move forward with your travel plans."