Officials urge drivers to pack emergency kits for cold weather

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging drivers to pack emergency kits as bitter cold temperatures settle into the region.

Spokesperson Paul Wappel says the kit should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Reflectors
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Small ice scraper
  • Traction material
  • Blankets
  • Non-perishable food
  • First-aid kit
  • Phone and charger

“You always want to ask yourself, do I have to make this trip?” Wappel says. “If you do, okay, then do those things.”

He says you should also let someone know where you’re planning to drive and check the forecast and conditions ahead of time.

“Watch for black ice,” he says. “A road may appear clear, but it could be treacherous, could be really slick. It could be very deceptive because with the cold temperatures, the low temperatures, the roads are freezing earlier or faster. Be especially careful when you’re approaching intersections, ramp, bridges, shaded areas, all of them are prone to icing quicker than anything else.”

You can check Getting Around Illinois for the latest on road conditions.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is also warning people to know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.

Frostbite
Parts of the body most commonly affected by frostbite due to exposed skin include the face, ears, hands, and feet. Frostbitten skin is whitish and stiff, and the area will feel numb rather than painful. To treat frostbite, warm the affected part of the body gradually. Wrap the frostbitten area in blankets, sweaters, coats, etc. and seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub frostbitten areas because the friction can damage the tissue.

Hypothermia
Hypothermia is caused by a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or less and can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk of hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, weak pulse, slow heartbeat. Infants may experience bright red, cold skin.

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