Use caution as storm approaches

Monday, February 1, 2016

It doesn't seem like it should be necessary to remind folks what it takes to survive a winter storm, but they've been relatively rare in Southwest Nebraska in recent years.

For folks who may have moved here from warmer climes, and the rest of us who may need to have our memories refreshed, Col. Bradley Rice, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, urges everyone to keep up with the latest travel information by using 511, Nebraska's Advanced Traveler Information System.

It can always be reached by dialing 511, visiting www.511.nebraska.gov or using a Nebraska 511 app on your smartphone.

The patrol reminds drivers:

* Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when absolutely necessary. Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.

* If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

* Let others know when you are going, when you will arrive, and what route you are taking.

* If you do become stranded while traveling, stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Wind chill and freezing temperatures can be life threatening.

* If your vehicle does become stuck, run your motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.

* Carry a red flag or bandana in your car and attach it to the outside to signal you are in trouble.

Be sure to include a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle as your travel. The following are some basic items to keep in your car in case you become stranded in wintry weather.

* Emergency first aid kit

* Ice scraper, shovel, small bag of sand

* Mobile phone, charger, batteries

* High energy or dehydrated foods, bottled water

* Blankets or sleeping bag, extra set of clothing and winter accessories

* Flashlight- included extra batteries (cold weather reduces battery strength)

* Jumper cables, tow rope, tool kit

* Both large and small can

* Matches and candles

* Red flag or bandana.

Motorists in need of emergency roadside assistance can call the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline when safe to do so by dialing *55 from any cell phone or 1-800-525-5555 from any landline, report emergencies to 911.

If you do stay home, the State Farm Insurance people have some more advice:

Prevent frozen pipes:

Let faucets drip.

Open cabinet doors to get heat to pipes under sinks.

Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame.

Ice Dams:

The right conditions are usually when outside air temperatures are in the low 20s (F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof.

Snow can melt and run down the roof where it hits colder eaves and refreezes. This can form an ice dam that gathers ponding water, which can leak into the attic or along exterior walls.

Do not routinely use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow on a roof, as these can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts, and flashings.

Home Fires:

Avoid setting a space heater too close to curtains, furniture, or decorations. Don't leave a space heater unattended.

Burn wood, not trash, cardboard boxes or debris in the fireplace.

Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

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