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“Oh the weather outside is frightfull … man it doesn’t show signs of stoppin’,” the song goes, and sure enough the Chicago area got its first taste of winter with a dusting of snow on Nov. 9.

The Cook County’s Department of Transportation and Highways advises drivers to take extra precautions when driving during storms – slow down and watch for snow plows.

Also keep an emergency kit in each vehicle with basic safety items that include the following items:
• Shovel
• Windshield scraper and small broom
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Battery powered radio
• Water
• Snack food, including energy bars
• Matches and small candles
• Extra hats, socks and mittens
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Blankets or sleeping bag
• Tow chain or rope
• Road salt, sand or cat litter for traction
• Jumper cables
• Emergency flares and reflectors
• Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
• Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

Other Tips:
• Gas tanks should be kept at least half full.
• Travelers should always tell someone where they’re going and the route they’ll take.
• Always check conditions in and around your vehicle; snow can plug a vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter the car.
• If stranded for a prolonged period, only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour to conserve gas and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow.
• Stranded drivers should stay with their vehicles; walking in a storm can be very dangerous. Other vehicles may not see you or you may become lost or exhausted.
• Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine, is advised to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Emergency Kit Tips:

• Reverse batteries in flashlights to avoid accidentally switching them on and running down the battery.• Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.