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Stay safe by being aware of weather conditions

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opinion Jamestown,North Dakota 58401 http://www.jamestownsun.com/sites/all/themes/jamestownsun_theme/images/social_default_image.png
Jamestown Sun
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Stay safe by being aware of weather conditions
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

With the unseasonably nice weather we’ve had, it’s been easy to think that winter isn’t coming anytime soon. Realistically, though, we know better.

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If you haven’t already, it’s time to prepare a winter survival kit, download applications for your smartphone (if you have one) and sign up for CodeRED to get notifications when the weather takes an extreme turn.

The winter season doesn’t officially start until Dec. 21, but it’s a good time to prepare a winter survival kit for your vehicle and take advantage of the tools that are available to help you stay safe this season. A winter survival kit can be assembled pretty quickly and might literally be a lifesaver if you get into trouble this winter.

It’s important to plan ahead if you have to travel in the winter. Keep abreast of weather forecasts and weather conditions. They can change quickly.

The best defense you can have against winding up in a ditch or in an accident during the winter is to be aware of your surroundings. Many people these days carry a “smartphone” or cellphone capable of receiving weather updates. In addition to receiving current weather readings and forecasts, national, state and local government agencies offer applications like CodeRED and NDRoads.

CodeRED is a system set up for Stutsman and Richland counties that sends an alert through a phone call, email or text when severe weather is expected. You can sign up by going to www.stutsmancounty.org and clicking on the CodeRED logo at the bottom of the screen. During the winter CodeRED will only send out a notice if there is a winter storm warning or blizzard warning. It doesn’t send out notices for winter storm watches.

The NDRoads app is available for a free download through iTunes or Google Play, and is accessible through the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s website www.dot.nd.gov. NDRoads is an interactive map that provides current road conditions for all the national and state roads in North Dakota. The map also shows which highways and roads are closed during severe weather conditions.

Local law enforcement officials said the best thing people can do when driving in winter weather conditions is to slow down. This is especially important during the first couple of snows of the season as drivers haven’t adjusted to the weather conditions and tend to drive too fast for road conditions.

Other driving advice includes never using cruise control on wet or icy roads, keeping a safe distance from snowplows and other vehicles, turning on your vehicle’s headlights and making sure your vehicle’s taillights are visible as well.

It’s also important to be alert for other drivers. Odds are other drivers aren’t watching out for you.

Occasionally winter storms necessitate the NDDOT closing roads because conditions are too dangerous for snowplows to be out on the road. When the gates are used to close off Interstate 94, they are intended to prevent people from getting onto those highways. Yet some people go around them. It’s never a good idea to venture out onto a closed road because you don’t know what kind of shape the road or highway is in.

Winter is coming. Being aware of weather conditions is the best way to face the worst that Mother Nature can deliver.

(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’ editorial board)

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