Each year, the South Dakota Department of Safety puts out a pamplet for Emergency Management during the hazardous weather conditions, and it never hurts to check your vehicle emergency supplies as the weather turns chilly, and winter hovers on the edge of October or November.
According to the SD Winter Preparedness Guide, each vehicle should have in its emergency kit the following items:
Shovel and flashlight with extra batteries,
First aid kit and medications
Non-perishable food, such as granola bars and peanuts
Candles and matches
Extra clothing, sleeping bags, or blankets
Jumper cables and tire chains
Cell phone with fully charged batteries
Windshield scraper and brush
Brightly colored cloth to tie on the antenna so the vehicle can be easily located
According to the preparedness guide, this kit should be in the vehicle at all times.
Before traveling this winter season:
Listen to the forecast before departing and postpone travel if inclement weather is occurring or expected.
Avoid traveling alone. Inform others of your timetable and planned routes.
Keep your gas tank near full.
Adjust your speed to the condition and increase following distances.
If stranded in a storm, there is a protocol that will help to keep people safe, and one reason deaths can occur is because not everyone knows the protocol, or people allow impatience or fear to guide them out of their vehicles.
Here is what the preparedness guide tells people to do in case stranded in a vehicle during a winter storm:
Stay with your vehicle
Use your cell phone to call 911. Be aware of your location and situation.
Move all your emergency supplies from the vehicle’s trunk to the interior of the car as soon as you realize you may be staying for a while.
Check your supplies to see what you have available and arrange them in order for their use. This will help you ration them in case you are stranded for a long period of time.
Run the engine sparingly. Start with 15 minutes every hour and adjust if needed. While running the engine, keep a downwind window cracked to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow.
If the cold is extreme, it may be necessary to keep the engine running continuously. It may not restart if shut off.
Never go to sleep with the engine running.
Turn on the dome light at night while the engine is running. It may help others to locate you. Turn it off when you turn off the engine so you don’t run down the car’s battery.
Put on warm clothing right away, before you start to get cold. It is easier to stay warm than it is to regain lost warmth. Loosen tight clothing so body heat can circulate. Remove metal jewelry, as it can chill you.
Keep your feet off the floor if the heater is not on.
Use newspapers, maps, or even the removable car mats for added insulation
Do mild exercises to help you stay warm.
Watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
Eat a snack of high calorie food just before sleeping to stimulate your metabolism (heat production). If you awaken due to the cold, eat some more high energy food and add another layer of insulation such as more clothing or a blanket.
Tie a colorful banner on the car antenna. If you need to leave the car for any distance during the storm, tie a nylon rope to the car and yourself so you will be able to find your way back to the car.
The preparedness guide includes additional instructions about winter safety for school, pets and in case of fire.
South Dakota has a series of books for schools based on Tommy the Turtle and his best pal Buzz to help students learn about preparing for a variety of natural disasters.
Parents and teachers can access these recources for free by going online to: www.bReady.sd.gov.
For more information on how to receive printed copies, please call the office at 605-773-3231.