Highway Patrol stresses dangers of hazardous weather

Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, urges the public to remain aware of the hazards associated with current weather conditions.

Dangerously cold temperatures and the wind-chill factor make being outside and traveling perilous. The patrol is encouraging everyone to stay inside and off the road, according to a news release. Those who must travel in these conditions are asked to keep the following in mind:

• Before you travel, gather an ice scraper, tire chains, battery booster cables, flares/reflectors, blankets, gloves, flashlight and a bag of sand or kitty litter to place in your trunk.

Also, ensure your cellular phone is fully charged and functional. Take bottled water and a snack with you. Emergencies cannot be predicted, but planning ahead can help you if one should arise.

• Make sure your vehicle is in good condition with proper fluid levels and at least a half tank of fuel. Keeping your fuel tank at half full or higher prevents gas lines from freezing and will allow you to run the engine and keep warm while waiting for assistance should you become stranded.

Allow extra driving time for you to reach your destination at a slow, safe speed. Missouri law states if you’re using your windshield wipers, your headlights must be turned on. It takes only a second to turn on your vehicle’s headlights. That second could make you more visible to other drivers and prevent a traffic crash.

• If your vehicle slides off the road, stay with it. Other vehicles could put you in danger of being struck if you are outside your vehicle. Temperatures are frigid and walking for help could put you at risk of frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and body tissues are exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

You are more susceptible to this condition the longer you are outside. Frostbite may affect any part of the body, although the hands, feet, nose and ears are most vulnerable. Wet clothing, high winds and poor circulation can contribute to frostbite. If you must be outside, wear layers of clothing, mittens rather than gloves, wind-proof/water-resistant clothing, hat and scarf. Limit how long you are outside.

“It is dangerously cold outside,” Replogle stated in the release. “I would encourage you to stay home if at all possible. If you must drive, plan ahead and be a courteous driver. Please slow down, pay attention, and wear your seat belt.”

If you become stranded or see another vehicle stranded on the side of the road with passengers, call the Missouri State Highway Patrol emergency number at (800) 525-5555 or dial *55 on a cellular phone. These numbers ring at the nearest troop headquarters.

Missouri’s Road Condition Report at (888) 275-6636) can help you plan your route before you leave. You may also view MoDOT’s Road Condition Map by going to the Patrol’s web site

and clicking on the Road Condition icon.