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MU Expert Offers Winter Weather Safety Tips

Dec. 9, 2008

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

With winter weather approaching, it never hurts to be prepared. There are various types of winter storms; and like the snowflakes they usually bring with them, no two storms are exactly alike.

 “During the winter season, our number one priority is the safety of students, faculty and staff,” said Pete Millier, director of Campus Facilities - Landscape Services at the University of Missouri.

Millier suggests the following preparation tips for the upcoming winter months:

In the Car:
• Take the car in for a winter checkup. Check the brake fluid, battery, engine and antifreeze (it should be a proper mixture of equal parts 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 to keep in the vehicle. Include:
     o Blankets, sleeping bags, extra clothes, brightly colored cloth to use for “trouble” sign if needed
     o Windshield scraper, snow brush/shovel
     o Matches, emergency flares, flashlight
     o Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter), tow chain
     o Snacks and water
• If stranded in your vehicle by a winter storm, stay in the car unless help is visible within 100 yards. 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 down-wind window slightly. Perform regular minor exercises to maintain circulation.
• Maintain at least a half tank of gas at all times.

• Avoid frostbite and hypothermia by selecting proper clothing for the conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, and a hat. Fingertips and ears are the most prone to frostbite, and half of your body heat is lost through an uncovered head.
• When walking or working outdoors, use the buddy system and take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters.
• Take shorter steps and walk at a slower pace.  If walking 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. Realize that approaching vehicles may not be able to stop at crosswalks or traffic signals.

Traveling to or on Campus:
• Plan a travel route on the campus.  Visit the Campus Facilities Web site at for the latest information on campus conditions as well as links to city, county and state Web sites for off-campus conditions and travel.
• Allow additional time for traveling on campus since walking and driving routes and parking availability might be affected by changing weather conditions.
• WEAR THE PROPER FOOTWEAR FOR SNOW OR ICE. Slick- or smooth-soled shoes are designed for dry conditions and may contribute to slipping. Footwear to avoid includes flip flops, sandals, tennis shoes or any smoothed-soled shoe.
• Dress warmly if going outside on campus. Layer clothing and remember to protect the head, hands and feet against exposure to the cold.