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Stranded in the cold: Are you prepared?

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A plow truck plows snow from the road January 1, 2011. When winter weather hits Buckley AFB the 460th 460th Civil Engineering Squadron are one of the first  ones on base to make sure we arrive safely. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Paul Labbe.)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A plow truck plows snow from the road January 1, 2011. When winter weather hits Buckley AFB the 460th 460th Civil Engineering Squadron are one of the first ones on base to make sure we arrive safely. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Paul Labbe.)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Shown here is a snow packed tire. Equipping your vehicles with snow tires is a great way to help with the added danger of driving through the snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class Paul Labbe.)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Shown here is a snow packed tire. Equipping your vehicles with snow tires is a great way to help with the added danger of driving through the snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class Paul Labbe.)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Consider this scenario: you're taking a ski trip into the mountains and while on some of Colorado's back roads, dark immense clouds roll in out of nowhere. Moments later, the wind picks up and snow starts hailing down, destroying visibility. You flip to the weather station on the radio and the forecaster says the storm may last for about 24 hours. Main roads won't be cleared for another day while back roads could take up to two days to clear.

Are you prepared for an extended stay in your car?

September is National Preparedness Month and now is as good of a time as any to start thinking about the upcoming winter.

People shouldn't only be prepared for blizzards as there are several natural disasters or predicaments that are possibilities. According to Stephen McMillan, 460th Space Wing Safety office, people can find themselves in extreme cold temperatures, thunder storms, snow storms, tornadoes and avalanches situations.

"The number-one thing to pay attention to is the weather forecast," said McMillan. "Not just for your local area but the areas you may be traveling through to get to your destination."

McMillan said people should have an emergency kit in case they are stuck in a car for a long period of time in a cold-weather situation. The kit should include non-perishable food, such as protein bars or meals ready to eat, which are found in the commissary.

Other things to include are extra clothes, shoes, blankets, some type of thermal heat without flame, a flashlight, extra batteries and whatever else they may find necessary.

When a blizzard hits and visibility is low, people should pull off at the road as far as possible or into a parking lot with their hazard lights on, until visibility improves. During these snowy months, some areas require tire chains or studs, McMillan said, so people should check the areas they're traveling through to see if these accessories are needed.
Aside from needing chains or studs, McMillan said a vehicle tune up or inspection wouldn't be a bad idea before the winter months. Having someone check the tire pressure, fluids, belts and other things can go a long way to ensure vehicles are ready for the cold months ahead. He also recommends drivers carry extra windshield wiper fluid with them.

Law enforcement also highly encourages people stranded in their car not to wander from their vehicle, according to James Wright, 460th SW Safety Office. If they have to exit their vehicle for any reason, they should tie themselves to the vehicle in case they become disoriented or lose visibility.

Another thing to keep in mind is accountability when leaving for a solo trip.
"It's really important if you're going out alone that you tell someone where you're going and when you're expected back," said Wright.

Carrying some type of communication device and finding shelter can play a crucial part in staying alive and being rescued. Wright said cell phones, beacons or flares are some of the best devices to have on hand.

"[They] should [also] always be thinking about shelter well before it gets dusk. If it looks like you're not going to be able to walk out of a situation, start looking at way of sheltering yourself," Wright said.

For more information about road conditions, visit http://www.coloradodot.info/.
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