Be Prepared: 1st Winter Storm Of Season Threatens Indiana (VIDEO)

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

December 5, 2013 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM EDT

INDIANA (21Alive) -- With a significant winter weather system expected to make its way to Indiana on Thursday evening, state officials are warning Hoosiers to prepare in advance.

The National Weather Service is predicting sleet and significant snowfall beginning Thursday evening. These conditions, in addition to low temperatures, may cause roads to be extremely icy and travel conditions dangerous. Anyone in the path of the storm is strongly encouraged to make alternate plans in case weather conditions disrupt daily routines.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) plans to mobilize salt trucks and snow plows ahead of the advancing winter storm – with the worst conditions predicted to track from southwestern Indiana to the I-70 corridor across the central portion of the state. In northeastern Indiana, INDOT is pre-treating I-69 with brine on bridges, underpasses and ramps, which are critical areas that tend to ice up more quickly than the rest of the roadway. INDOT is prepared to combat icy surfaces on state and interstate highways with treated salt to accelerate melting. Plow trucks will repeatedly clear lanes of snow until the weather event subsides.

Preparations include charging cell phones and other items in case power is interrupted, evaluating whether driving is necessary, taking your time if you decide to drive, and gathering items for your car and home in case they are needed.

Go to GetPrepared.in.gov and click on “Indiana Travel Advisory Map” at the top of the page. The map is updated with information from counties and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory, and caution.

The page also has links to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Traffic Wise information.

A travel "advisory" is notification that travel may be restricted in some areas. Under a "watch" level, only essential travel is recommended. A travel advisory at a "warning" level means travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only.

DO NOT call city, county or state police to check on road conditions – police agencies across the state want to keep phone lines open for emergency phone calls. Dial toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, crashes and other traffic alerts.

Winter Driving Safety

Those considering going out onto the roads are advised to check the weather forecast and travel conditions prior to leaving, and allow for extra travel time. If driving during the storm is necessary, make sure you have a fully charged and functioning cell phone. A vehicle preparedness kit is also strongly encouraged. Items in a vehicle preparedness kit include:

-At least two blankets or a sleeping bag;
-Flashlight and extra batteries;
-Booster (jumper) cables;
-Emergency flares;
-Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves;
-Bottled water and non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or cheese crackers;
-First-aid kit and necessary medications;
-Sand or non-clumping kitty litter for tire traction;
-Cell phone and charger for vehicle use; and
-Ice scraper and snow brush.
-When traveling, always move over or pull to the side of the road for first responders.

If You Become Stranded

Unless there is a safe structure nearby, do not leave the car, since it is the best protection;
-Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. An idling car only uses about one gallon of gas per hour;
-Tie a brightly colored cloth to the car for rescuers to see;
-Light a flare or turn on a flashlight to let others know you are stranded;
-Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of any blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and
-Keep hydrated by drinking water from your preparedness kit. Don’t eat snow, as it will lower body temperature.

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