CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Preparations are in full force from emergency responders getting ready to tackle the ice and snow and holiday travelers getting ready to head to family gatherings.
The days leading up to Christmas are usually used for travel. Many cars and carry-ons are stuffed with gifts. This year, a winter storm is requiring travelers to save some room.
“You know you want to make sure you keep things in your vehicle that’s going to help you,” said Champaign Police Officer Danielle Griffet.
Along with the storm comes tough news for travelers, especially people who fly. Flights are expected to be delayed or canceled around the state. While that might not be the case at Willard in Savoy, Fire Marshal John Cumbee has advice if you’re headed out of town.
“If it looks like maybe you’re going to be stuck here and your flight is not going to be canceled or is going to be canceled, I would say maybe don’t come to the airport,” said Cumbee.
I spoke with a woman who already plans to take that advice.
“If we get the snow we can’t get out,” said Kathleen Booth. “We live in a cul-de-sac. So, we have canceled travel plans and are just bunkering down at home.”
Others who are determined to drive to their destination should keep an eye out for emergency crews and long stops.
“First responders will be out working, and we will come to help those who need us, but it could be a while before we can reach those stranded individuals,” said Griffet.
Griffet said it’s smart to travel with a winter safety kit. Items like blankets, food, and medications should be kept on hand just in case the weather puts a damper on your plans.
“So, to have those items, it’ll help you out,” said Griffet. “Because we will come, it’s just that we have higher calls for service generally during the bad weather.”
But before stocking the inside, she also said to check that your car is up for the trip. She added checking your fluids, tires, and battery are the best ways to ensure you make it to your destination. Above all, she advises if the weather is too severe, stay home and off the roads.
Champaign Police Department shared the following tips:
- Slow down, break early, and arrive safe.
- Don’t just pack presents! Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter drive-related tasks, and supplies you might need in an emergency including:
- a snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper
- sand or kitty litter, in case you get stuck in the snow
- jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices (flares and emergency markers)
- blankets for protection from the cold
- a cell phone charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine
- Keep your cell phone charged.
Before you leave, give your car a winter weather inspection. This includes:
- Checking all fluids, and make sure your windshield wiper fluid is rated for extreme cold
- Replacing wiper blades
- Checking that your car battery is holding a charge in the cold
- Examining the tread on tires to make sure they’re up to the trip
If you have a little one, practice good car seat safety.
- Remove bulky coats before tying them in
- Check that the car seat is securely fastened, and all straps are tight
- Bring extra blankets to provide warmth in the car