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DPS offers winter weather safety tips

Special to the Courier

Law enforcement administrators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) urge Texans in all regions of the state to make preparations for winter weather as Texas enters into the cold weather season. Texans are advised to stay informed about weather conditions in their area and remain prepared for possible winter weather, which could impact the state during the coming months.
"Ensuring the safety of Texans is paramount for the department and our law enforcement partners, and DPS is urging individuals to do their part by preparing now, staying alert about weather reports and heeding warnings by their local officials during severe winter weather," said DPS Director Steven McCraw.
Inclement weather over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend - when parts of the state experienced wintery precipitation - highlights the importance of being prepared and the need for extra caution during hazardous winter weather.
"As the busy holiday season continues, it is crucial that Texans stop to remember that significant weather threats can emerge at any time and bring the potential for heavy rains, low temperatures and freezing precipitation," said DPS Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.
"Individuals should make preparations now to ensure their homes and vehicles are adequately equipped and maintained to handle storms or hazardous conditions."
Last weekend, Texas experienced rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow that created hazardous travel conditions in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, which led to swift water rescues in areas of North Texas.
While the heavy rains have subsided and temperatures continue to rebound, more rainfall, flooding and below average temperatures that aid wintry precipitation will persist through the winter months with an El Niño weather pattern in place, according to the National Weather Service. Additionally, river flooding is still ongoing along several Texas rivers and creeks from previous rain events.
DPS offers the following tips for staying safe during possible winter weather:
• Monitor local weather broadcasts and follow up-to-the-minute weather conditions, at http://www.weather.gov/.
• Purchase an all-hazards weather radio for up-to-date warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information.
• Sign up for your local emergency notification system.
• On icy roads, drive slowly and increase distance required for stopping, and avoid using cruise control.
• Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power is out, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
• Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before any trip.
• Keep your gas tank full.
• Avoid traveling when sleet, freezing rain or snow is predicted, and monitor road conditions by visiting www.drivetexas.org.
Winterize vehicles by checking the battery; windshield wipers, including appropriate freeze resistant-fluid; tire pressure; tire tread; and fluid levels, and lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent freezing.
In addition, drivers should keep these emergency supplies drivers in their vehicles that include blankets or sleeping bags, extra clothing, gloves and a hat; cell phone, radio, flashlight and extra batteries; first-aid kit and pocket knife; high calorie, non-perishable food and bottled water; bag of sand or cat litter to provide traction for tires; and windshield scraper, tool kit, booster cables, tow rope and a shovel.
For additional information and tips regarding winter weather preparedness, visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/ThreatAwareness/winterstorm.htm.