11/14/12 Hints that winter is just around the corner have recently arrived, frost on the windshields, smoke billowing from chimneys and the first few snowflakes of the season have fallen.

Though we do not know how bad this winter will be, we do know cold, snow or freezing rain events will cause problems in our daily lives. Being prepared and having a plan will help minimize the impact caused by winter weather.

Remember, national weather service outlooks and watches can provide you a heads up on storm potential days in advance. Weather warnings and advisories indicate weather conditions that are likely to cause you problems, have already begun, or will begin soon.

Winter Weather Safety Tips:

Most winter weather related deaths are a result of auto accidents on slippery roads, so drive with more caution when roads are bad.  Give yourself plenty of extra travel time to reach your destination.  S-L-O-W down and adjust your following distance for the road conditions.  Bridges and overpasses become slick and icy before roads do.

Winter weather related injuries and deaths can result from slips and falls, over exertion, and exposure to cold.  Clear sidewalks and driveways of snow and ice, take frequent breaks while shoveling, and minimize skin exposure by always dressing appropriately, or limiting outdoor activities due to the frigid temperatures.

Poorly maintained heating systems also lead to deaths in fires or by carbon monoxide poisoning. Have your furnace and chimney checked by professionals for proper operation and venting.  Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, or inspect the ones you have to make sure they are functioning properly.   Make sure that alternative heating sources are kept clear of clutter.

Have adequate supplies available at home, at work, on the farm, or in your vehicle to last for several days. Always consider changing plans when the weather is expected to turn bad.

The best way to stay safe during winter is to be prepared. Use common sense and caution. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television for the latest information regarding weather conditions.  Take action when the National Weather Service issues a watch, warning or advisory.

Marshall County uses a Travel Advisory system that mirrors the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s.  The system is designed to protect the public by providing them with a standardized format that they can use as a reference to make informed decisions that could impact their safety when traveling on county roads during certain conditions.  The decision to issue a travel advisory is made by the Marshall County Commissioners based on information provided to them by the Marshall County Highway Department, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, and the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency as to the road conditions in the unincorporated areas of the county.

For additional information regarding winter weather preparedness, you can contact the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency at 936-3740. Sign up to receive alerts at NIXLE.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.