Tips offered up to stay safe as winter weather hits Montana - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Tips offered up to stay safe as winter weather hits Montana

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(MTN News file photo) (MTN News file photo)

GREAT FALLS - Winter is causing for some difficult driving conditions across Western Montana and much of the Treasure State.

The snow keeps falling and much of the area in under a Winter Storm Warning, creating some dangerous driving conditions. First responders have been busy on Wednesday across Western Montana responding to numerous accidents and slide-offs.

The American Red Cross is offering up some tips on how folks can be prepared for winter driving. One big key is to plan ahead and make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and that you have extra supplies on hand in case you get stuck.

Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, shovel, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a disaster supplies kit in your trunk.

Additionally, the Red Cross advises that you put high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents in your vehicle.

Below are some additional tips to help you stay safe on Montana's roads:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you must drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open -- away from the blowing wind -- to let in air.

Remember to check the conditions before heading out in winter weather.

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