By Robert Lucke
Are you prepared for a blizzard hitting Havre and surroundings while you are driving to Great Falls or Billings? Is your winter survival box up to snuff?
Heidi Bischoff of the Hill County Health Department has some timely tips for winter's approach.
Prepare your car's cooling system for below zero, and check heater, defroster, wipers and repair or replace as needed. Replace fuel and air filters. Check the battery system and clean battery terminals. Replace any burnedout lights. Repair leaks and crimps to the exhaust system to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure your tires have good tread and proper air pressure. Check the brake system on your auto.
When leaving on a trip, long or short, let someone know you are leaving, your route and expected arrival time. Travel in convoy with someone if possible. Listen to weather and travel information before and during the trip. Always maintain a full tank of fuel before trips. Use light-weight or multi-weight viscosity oil. Clean headlights and taillights. Travel on major roads to avoid being stranded.
Your winter survival car pack should contain the following to allow survival from 12 to 24 hours without a car heater:
Sleeping bag or two blankets per person in the car.
Three-pound coffee can to be used to melt snow for drinking.
Matches and candles, flashlight with extra batteries.
Winter clothing cap, gloves, heavy socks, coveralls, etc.
Food with high energy such as candy, nuts, raisins, hot chocolate mix, bouillon cubes, packaged condensed soups and granola.
Small bag of kitty litter or sand for traction, shovel.
Basic tool kit with pliers, screwdriver, wrench, tape, rope and wire.
Paper towels or tissue.
Ax or saw.
Tow chain or strap.
Gas line deicer.
Should you be trapped in an auto, do not panic. Stay in the car. Indicate you are in trouble by tying a bright-colored piece of material onto the antenna, turn on flash signals or hazards, raise hood of auto, etc. Run the engine sparingly to keep warm and open a window to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn't blocked with snow. Exercise by clapping hands, moving arms and legs to keep your circulation going. Take turns sleeping if you aren't alone. If alone, do not sleep. Stay awake. Use your horn sparingly. If you have a gun, shoot three shots into the air, 10 seconds between shots and 30 minutes between sets to indicate distress to outdoors people.