Highway Patrol Office reminds drivers of Winter Weather safety tips

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AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) urges Texans in all regions of the state to make preparations for winter weather as Texas enters into the cold weather season. Texans should stay informed about weather conditions in their area and remain prepared for possible winter weather, which could impact the state during the coming months.

“Ensuring the safety of Texans is paramount for the department and our law enforcement partners, and DPS is urging individuals to do their part by preparing now, staying alert about weather reports and heeding warnings by their local officials during severe winter weather,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.

Inclement weather over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – when parts of the state experienced wintery precipitation – highlights the importance of being prepared and the need for extra caution during hazardous winter weather.

“As the busy holiday season continues, it is crucial that Texans stop to remember that significant weather threats can emerge at any time and bring the potential for heavy rains, low temperatures and freezing precipitation,” said DPS Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. “Individuals should make preparations now to ensure their homes and vehicles are adequately equipped and maintained to handle storms or hazardous conditions.”

Last weekend Texas experienced rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow that created hazardous travel conditions in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, which led to swift water rescues in areas of North Texas. While the heavy rains have subsided and temperatures continue to rebound, more rainfall, flooding and below average temperatures that aid wintry precipitation will persist through the winter months with an El Niño weather pattern in place according to the National Weather Service. Additionally, river flooding is still ongoing along several Texas rivers and creeks from previous rain events.

DPS offers the following tips for staying safe during possible winter weather:

  • Monitor local weather broadcasts and follow up-to-the-minute weather conditions, at http://www.weather.gov/.
  • Purchase an all-hazards weather radio for up-to-date warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information.
  • Sign up for your local emergency notification system.
  • On icy roads, drive slowly and increase distance required for stopping, and avoid using cruise control.
  • Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power is out, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before any trip.
  • Keep your gas tank full.
  • Avoid traveling when sleet, freezing rain or snow is predicted, and monitor road conditions by visiting www.drivetexas.org.

Winterize your vehicle by checking the battery, windshield wipers (including appropriate freeze resistant-fluid), tire pressure, tire tread, fluid levels, and lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent freezing. In addition, here is a list of emergency supplies drivers can keep in their vehicle:

  • Blankets/sleeping bags, extra clothing, gloves and a hat.
  • Cell phone, radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First-aid kit and pocket knife.
  • High calorie, non-perishable food and bottled water.
  • Bag of sand or cat litter to provide traction for tires.
  • Windshield scraper, tool kit, booster cables, tow rope and a shovel.

Here are some additional steps to prepare for winter weather:

  • Insulate outside faucets and pipes near outer walls.
  • Make sure that furnaces, heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves are clean, well-ventilated and in good working condition.
  • Make arrangements for proper shelter and an emergency supply of food and water for your pets and livestock.
  • Stock up on firewood and supplies, including canned goods and bottled water.
  • If you will be away from home for a long period of time, set your thermostat to 55 degrees or higher and open cabinets under sinks.
  • Make sure you have inclement weather contact numbers for schools and work.
  • Check on friends and family members whose health or age may put them at greater risk from cold weather.

Visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/ThreatAwareness/winterstorm.htm for additional information and tips regarding winter weather preparedness.

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