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Involve kids in winter driving preparation

Published 5:17pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

QUESTION: Any ideas for really practical gift-giving that gets the kids involved?

ANSWER: It is winter in Minnesota, so how about engaging the kids in making Weather Emergency Kits for every car in your extended family?

The Department of Public Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has an excellent list of items that should be in every vehicle in case drivers and passengers become stranded.

Kids would enjoy putting together the following items, with instruction notes included:

1. A coffee can and small candles and matches to use to melt snow for drinking water.

2. A brightly colored bandanna or cloth to hang from the vehicle window to signal for help.

3. Large plastic garbage bags to tie around feet to keep them warm.

4. Safety pins to secure the garbage bags.

5. A whistle to alert anyone nearby.

6. Snacks.

7. Cell phone adapter to plug into the cigarette lighter.

8. Plastic flashlight and spare batteries.

9. Extra hats, mittens, boots and blankets.

10. A reminder note to warn people to remain in their car and call 911 for help.

You might include a Keep the Holidays Happy! card with the following safe winter driving tips:

1. Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.

2. Buckle up and make sure child restraints are secured. Use blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath.

3. Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions and provide plenty of travel time.

4. Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.

5. If skidding, remain calm, ease foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

6. Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional lights.

7. Headlights must be turned on when it is snowing or sleeting.

8. Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.

9. Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.

10. Remember that as temperatures drop, ice may form and create slippery spots and bridges also become slippery.

11. Don’t drive if you have been drinking alcohol; if you spot a drunk driver pull over and use your cell phone to call 911 to provide the location and the license number of the vehicle. Drive sober or get pulled over!

For child-raising support, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528 . Check out

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