Staying prepared for holiday travel

Staying prepared for holiday travel

IRON MOUNTAIN — The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division are reminding drivers to prepare for their holiday travels by making sure they have the supplies necessary in case they get in an accident or become stranded.

Troopers say that in the event of a winter emergency on the roads, help may not be immediately available. Having items in your car like a cell phone charger, windshield scraper, jumper cables, bottled water, and nonperishable foods can help keep you safe until help arrives. It’s also a good idea to keep a radio and flashlight powered by a hand crank in your vehicle.

“A hand turbine powered flashlight is something that you would crank it up for a minute, and then it gives you approximately five to ten minutes of light time,” said Trooper Douglas Cole of the Michigan State Police Iron Mountain Post. “If you have a normal flashlight, that works as well, but you have the case of batteries going dead, and if you don’t check it on a regular basis, now you don’t have a flashlight that works because the batteries are dead.”

If you do get stranded during a winter storm, troopers advise drivers not to leave a vehicle while waiting for help. Troopers also recommend keeping an eye on the weather forecast and to reschedule or postpone your trip if conditions look dangerous. If you do head out in winter weather, make sure you have enough time to reach your destination safely.

“You want to give yourself a lot of time to get where you want to go, number one, so you’re not in a hurry to get there, and number two is when you’re approaching intersections where you know you’re going to be turning or slowing down, start braking a little bit sooner to give yourself time if the road is icy for your vehicle to slow down so you don’t have to press on the brakes too hard, which could cause you to slide or skid and get into a crash or go into the ditch,” Cole added.

The Michigan State Police provide a number of ways to check on road conditions before you hit the road, including the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477, the MSP Road Conditions Website, or MDOT’s Mi Drive Interactive Map site.

The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division lists the following as essential itmes to include in a vehicle emergency preparedness kit:

  • Hand-crank radio
  • Hand-crank flashlight
  • Cell phone charger
  • Windshield scraper
  • Blanket and extra clothes
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Emergency contact list
  • De-icer and extra anti-freeze
  • “Call Police” or other “Help” sign
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Flares
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water and nonperishable, high-energy foods (e.g., granola bars, canned nuts, raisins, hard candy, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers)