Preparing For Winter Conditions On Nebraska Roads

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - It's that four-letter word none of us want to talk aboutsnow.

Forecasters say it's just around the corner. So how can you be ready for the winter?

It's important to remember that things can change quickly, so you want to do some planning ahead of time. Steps like keeping your gas full or the tank at least half full and having the supplies necessary for an emergency.

Snow, no one wants to think about it now but the health department is encouraging drivers to get ready. Phil Rooney said, "I think it's the Midwestern attitude. It's that we think we can take it, we're tough, we're hearty Midwesterners and sometimes that can play against us."

And when we run into trouble on the snowy roads, it's most often Omaha police officers that save us. "One of the oddest things I've seen was four teenagers that weren't dressed appropriately, just wearing jeans and t-shirts. They got stuck on the side of the road and then they were underneath the vehicle trying to dig it with their hands out of the snow," Officer James Shade said.

A reminder that severe weather can be dangerous. "and even deadly in the winter time so you have to protect yourself and wear appropriate clothing," he said.

"Well it's a matter of saving your life, there are a number of little things that we can do. Fortunately most of us have a cell phone, it can be a real lifesaver. You want to make sure your car battery is good, have your car tuned up and plan ahead. Keep an extra blanket, a blanket inside your car can be very helpful and help protect you from the cold," Rooney said.

Some items people tend to forget to have in their car are a flashlight, a snack, a bottle of water just in case your stranded and clothing to keep warm. "Check your first aid kit, check your general safety bag. Do you have road flares, do you have gloves, do you have a hat, do you have jumper cables? Just general safety equipment for your vehicle you should carry at all times," Shade said.

Rooney said if you are stranded in the snow, for safety reasons, he only recommends leaving your car on for 10 minutes at a time. "No more than 10 minutes an hour to be operating your engine to keep warm, make sure the exhaust is able to clear away from the car and you'll want to keep a rear window open a little bit, you may not appreciate that but the combination will help keep you safe."

Another item people tend to forget is the ice scraper. Officer James Shade said not only is it against the law to drive with a covered windshield but it can be used as a pick to get rid of ice and frost build up.

Officials say everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in their car. In an emergency, it could save your life and the lives of your passengers. Here is what you need:

-A shovel
-Windshield scraper and small broom
-Flashlight with extra batteries
-Battery powered radio
-Snack food including energy bars
-Extra hats, socks and mittens
-First aid kit with pocket knife
-Necessary medications
-Blankets or sleeping bag
-Tow chain or rope
-Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
-Booster cables
-Emergency flares and reflectors
-Whistle to attract attention
-Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter