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Winter survival kit
A partial list of items that Indiana Department of Transportation officials suggest all drivers keep in their vehicles during the winter months.
•Ice scraper and brush or small broom
•Tools and flashlight with batteries
•Sand or cat litter (non-clumping) for tire traction
•Jumper cables
•Coat, boots, gloves, hat
•Food, water, blanket
•”Coffee-can furnace” (large metal can, matches, candle)
•First-aid kit
•Cellphone & charger
•Flares or reflective triangle
•Prescription medicines you take regularly
•Floor mats Before you leave home
The following websites and phone numbers can be used to check weather and traffic information.
•INDOT TrafficWise:
•800-261-ROAD (7623)
Source: Indiana Department
of Transportation
Winter Driving Skills - INDOT

This video is about Winter DMary Foster of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) talks about being prepared for winter driving after giving a presentation on the topic to students of Manchester University's School of Pharmacy in Fort Wayne.

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
State transportation worker Toni Mayo shows a section of bald tire at a winter driving presentation Thursday at Manchester University’s College of Pharmacy in Fort Wayne.

Winter road warriors get course on survival

If this week’s dusting of snow is the beginning of an icy, snow-filled winter, Renee Mickens said she needs to get her winter driving kit ready to roll.

The 25-year-old Manchester University pharmacy student is from Georgia and said she’s never had the experience of driving in more than a light sprinkling of snow.

“When it snowed this week, I came out and my windows and mirrors were covered, and I didn’t have a scraper or anything. I know it was just a little snow, but I prayed the whole time I was driving here,” Mickens said.

Manchester University’s College of Pharmacy invited Indiana Department of Transportation representatives to speak Thursday with students, like Mickens, who are from out of state and haven’t experienced the snowy, icy Hoosier weather.

Several students listened and asked questions as Mary Foster and Toni Mayo of INDOT described techniques for driving in winter weather and gave tips for making sure vehicles are equipped for snow and ice.

“We wanted to offer some good tips for driving around town, but also tips that (students) can use while they are headed out on longer trips, going home for the holidays,” Foster said.

Foster explained that students should drive at reduced speeds, be sure to leave additional room for stopping and follow the same rules that INDOT encourages snowplow drivers – keep their eyes on what’s behind them, what’s around them, and what lies ahead.

She also cautioned students to drive carefully though areas that appear clear, but might have “black ice” that can’t be easily seen, or snow packed in so tightly that roads become slick.

“From now until about May, you won’t know if there’s a little section of ice until you’re right on top of it,” Mayo said.

Mayo recommended that students who haven’t driven in snow practice in a large, empty parking lot after a snowfall so they know how their vehicle will react to slippery surfaces.

And if a student becomes stuck in the snow, Foster said, having items such as a shovel, flashlight and winter weather clothing tucked away in the vehicle can be the difference between a bad day and a dangerous situation.

Foster said another helpful tip is what she calls a “coffee-can furnace,” created by a large aluminum can that has had the contents emptied and the label removed. By putting a candle in the bottom of the can and lighting the wick with matches or a lighter, the device works as a mini furnace, providing heat.

“It’s not going to be comfy, but it will keep you warm enough to survive,” Foster said.

Steven Fuentes, 25, attended Thursday’s presentation to learn more about being prepared.

Fuentes, who came to Fort Wayne from Southern California, said he’s used to 80-degree weather and although he’s seen snow before and driven in it several times, it wasn’t anything like Indiana winter weather.

“A lot of the information was common sense, but I’ll definitely be utilizing some of the tips about the kit and the technical skills for driving,” Fuentes said.