ALBANY, N.Y. -- In light of the pending inclement weather conditions, here are a few winter weather commuter safety tips.
"The best thing to do is to avoid travel, if at all possible, during the storm," said American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region spokesperson Caroline Boardman. "Stay safe, stay home and give road crews the opportunity to do their job." If you must travel, Boardman said, there are important tips to keep in mind.
If you are stranded:
According to the National Weather Service, one of the most dangerous decisions to make is the choice to leave your vehicle and attempt to walk to safety. Try to avoid this when possible. Instead, tie a bright piece of cloth to the car's antenna or door handle. If possible, use your cell phone to contact emergency personnel immediately.
While stranded, a driver should run their car for 10 minutes every hour, using the heater during that time. Before starting the engine, be sure the exhaust pipe and radiator are clear of packed snow. While the engine is running, crack a down-wind window open slightly. This helps to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and also circulates fresh air into the vehicle. Be sure to keep the interior lights on while the engine is running. The American Red Cross advises constantly moving your arms and leg, clapping your hands to help keep you warm and avoid hypothermia. Warning signs of hypothermia are memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion and uncontrollable shivering.
Boardman reminds people to carry essential supplies. "You should have some basics on hand - such as a flashlight, extra batteries and bottled water - in case you do get stuck somewhere. Also, be sure to carry a cell phone and car charger."
Pre-pack a winter travel emergency kit:
• Snow brush
• Battery-powered radio
• Extra batteries
• Booster cables
• First aid kit
• Bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods (nutrition bars, raisins, peanut butter, etc.)
• Sack of sand or cat litter (to use for tire traction)
Other travel tips:
• Clear all surfaces of the car. Snow and ice blowing off the hood or roof of your car can damage your windshield, affect visibility for you and drivers behind you.
• Use caution while driving over bridges and overpasses. They tend to freeze before other roads.
• Keep tuned to the radio for the latest road conditions.
• Drive with your headlights on.
• Keep all your windows and all lights clear of snow for visibility.
• Slow down when visibility is reduced; don't drive faster than your ability to see ahead on the road.
• Leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road. All-wheel drive vehicles do not stop any better or more quickly than conventional vehicles.