Editorial: Always practice common sense on snowy roads

Published 7:10 pm Thursday, November 29, 2018

If the weather forecast holds true, this weekend could be Albert Lea’s first major snowstorm of the winter.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Albert Lea and the surrounding area and has stated we could receive 8 inches from the storm that is expected to start Saturday morning.

Before you go out on the roads, check www.mn511.org to get an idea of the conditions, and adjust your plans accordingly.

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The Minnesota Department of Public Safety advises people to keep essential items in their car, such as paper road maps, a cell phone charger, a shovel, a windshield scraper, a tow rope, booster cables, a reflector or brightly covered cloth to use as a distress signal, sand or cat litter and a pencil and paper. It also would be wise to pack things such as boots, jackets, gloves, blankets, bottled water and snacks.

If you have to venture out in the snow, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you arrive at your destination. Stay on designated roads and avoid shortcuts off main highways. Make sure you have a full gas tank.

The Department of Public Safety advises people to always wear your seat belt when driving, along with the following additional tips:

• If driving on snow or ice, start braking slowly and gently. Begin braking extra early when approaching an intersection.

• If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you regain traction. Then straighten your vehicle.

• Decrease speed and increase following distance on hazardous roads. Adjust speed for conditions without becoming an impediment to traffic flow.

• Watch for slick spots on bridges and overpasses. Be prepared to react.

• Never try to pass in blowing snow.

• Be alert for snowplows.

• If you break down, pull as far off the road as possible and turn on emergency flashers.

If you become stranded, stay in the car and call 911. Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn on the engine for 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater during this time, and recharge your cell phone.

Be aware of carbon monoxide accumulation. Clear snow away from the exhaust pipe and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Stay off the roads if recommended to do so by law enforcement authorities, and give yourself additional time to arrive at your destination.