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Ask a Trooper: How to prepare for traveling in subzero temps

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Trooper

Question: With the recent temperatures below zero in the area, can you give some tips on what should be in your vehicle and what to do if your car stalls or gets stuck?

Answer: When the temperatures are well below zero, it can result in a life threatening situation if you are not prepared. Having a safety plan and emergency kit in your vehicle can save your life.

If stranded, stay in the vehicle, call 911. Provide the dispatcher with the following information:

• Problem you're experiencing;

• Your location (Get in the habit of looking for mile markers and cross streets/roadways);

• Any injuries to yourself or passengers; and

• Preferred tow company, otherwise the closest approved tow company will be dispatched

At night, keep your dome light on and activate the vehicle's emergency flashers.

Be aware that snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car so make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow and keep a window slightly open while the engine is running.

Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and that you have at least a half-tank of fuel.

Slow down and use winter driving skills to avoid crashing or going off the road.

Be patient, as law enforcement and the towing companies may be busy with other calls. We will get there as soon as possible.

We recommend the following items be in your vehicle, especially in the winter:

• Cellphone and car charger

• Snow shovel

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• Window washer solvent

• Ice scraper with brush

• Jumper cables

• Tow chain or rope

• Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves) and blankets

• Warning devices (flares or triangles)

• Drinking water

• Nonperishable snacks for both human and pet passengers

• First aid kit

• Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

• Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.

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