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MU Expert Offers Winter Weather Tips to Stay Safe

Nov. 20, 2007

Story Contact:  Christian Basi, (573) 882-4430,

With winter weather approaching, it never hurts to be prepared. Winter storms can come in a variety of different forms. Like the snowflakes they usually bring with them, no two are exactly alike.

 “Last year’s storm (Dec. 1, 2006, 16-inch snowfall) was a once in a decade storm for us, but we’ve made some important changes to ensure even better preparation this year,” said Pete Millier, director of Campus Facilities - Landscape Services at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “Our number one priority is the safety of students, faculty and staff.”

Millier suggests the following preparation tips for the upcoming snow season:

In the Car:
 As soon as possible, take the car in for a winter check-up. Check the brake fluid, battery, engine and antifreeze (it should be a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water), exterior lights, defrost and windshield wipers.
 Ensure tires are at a proper tread depth and that there are no signs of damage or uneven wear.
 Prepare a winter emergency kit in the vehicle. Include:
 Blankets/sleeping bags/extra clothes/brightly colored cloth for “trouble” sign
 Windshield scraper/snow brush/shovel
 Matches/emergency flares/flashlight
 Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)/tow chain
 Snacks and water
 If a winter storm strands you in your vehicle, stay in the car unless help is visible within 100 yards. If stranded, display a trouble sign by hanging a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna. Turn on the vehicle’s engine for 10 minutes each hour and run the heat to keep warm. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by opening a window slightly. Do regular minor exercises to maintain circulation.

 Avoid frostbite and hypothermia by selecting proper clothing for the conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear clothes and a hat, as ears and fingertips are the most prone to frostbite.
 When walking or working outdoors, use the buddy system and take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters.
 Take short steps and walk at a slower pace.  If you must walk in the street, always walk AGAINST the traffic and as close to the curb as possible.
 Avoid sneakers and other shoes with rubber soles. Leather soles provide better traction on slippery surfaces.
 Be aware of surrounding vehicles that may have lost traction and are sliding toward you. Realize that approaching vehicles may not be able to stop at crosswalks or traffic signals.