Emergency responders urge winter driving safety precautions

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 4:21 PM EST
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - Drivers in Virginia were stranded in their cars for more than a day after a sudden snowstorm slammed the D.C. metro area Monday. It’s a nightmare scenario that first responders in our region say everyone should be prepared for.

“I have definitely helped people who have been in that situation,” said Van Lory of Hartland. While he says he’s never been stranded personally, he agrees it’s good to be prepared.

Bad weather in our region is not uncommon and accidents can happen, including an incident Wednesday in southern New Hampshire.

“I usually keep like an extra jacket or something in the back seat. Maybe a shovel and snow brush and tow rope to pull anyone else out,” Lory said.

Hundreds of travelers on I-95 in Virginia were stranded in freezing temperatures during Monday’s storm, some without food and proper clothes for 24 hours. Kelly Short of Quechee was aware of the incident and admits an emergency supply stash in her car is not something she usually travels with. “Because we’ve got roadside assistance with both of our cars. I think back before we had that, we used to keep more things on hand,” she said.

First responders say a car safety kit is a good practice no matter what. “Christmas Day we had a pretty significant icing event here in the Upper Valley,” said Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos.

He says travelers should carry items including extra hats and gloves, a blanket, water, snacks, and roadside flares. “We tell you to be prepared in your home for 72 hours in the event of a power outage, or whatever. Think of your car as an extension of your home,” Christopoulos said.

Christopoulos recommends staying off the roads altogether in bad weather and taking it slow if you do have to travel. In some cases, he says emergency response times can also be delayed during a storm. “You got off the road -- a slide-off -- you go down a ditch, you may be unfound for hours.”

And the Chief says one thing you should not do is to solely rely on your cell phone. Batteries can die and service can be spotty, especially in our region.

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