MASON CITY — With a winter storm approaching our area, those traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday are being advised to be cautious when heading out on the road.

Trooper Tom Williams of the Iowa State Patrol’s Mason City post says if you do plan to travel, pack away a winter survival kit in case something happens.  “Things that are important to have in a vehicle include an ice scraper, cell phone and charger, blankets, gloves, hats, an extra coat, water, non-perishable food items, a shovel, kitty litter for traction, a set of jumper cables, any needed medication, and a tow strap.”

Williams says if you do get stranded, don’t leave your vehicle.  “Call 911 immediately and give your location. Stay in your vehicle, that’s your shelter, don’t try to walk for help. If it’s at night, keep your dome light on if possible. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear from snow. Run your engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill, so you can conserve gas. I’ll just re-emphasize, don’t delay in calling 911. If we have a severe snowstorm, law enforcement is going to be extremely busy. If the news or weather forecast says travel not advised, that’s exactly what it means.”

Williams says at any time this winter, be well prepared for your trip.  “Watch the weather report prior to your trip. If you know it’s going to be bad weather, leave early, allow yourself extra time to get your destination. Get plenty of rest the night before. Slow down to increase the control of your vehicle. You are required by law to maintain control at all times.  Allow at least five seconds of following distance from the vehicle that’s in front of you. Make sure all your lights are working, that you have good wiper blades and washer fluids, make sure that you have a good set of snow tires on.”

Williams says don’t think you are always more safe with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.  “Those of you who have four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicles, that does not improve you’re breaking ability. It allows for excellent traction, but it does not improve your ability to stop in emergency situations.”

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