Each year, hundreds of Minnesotans find themselves stranded on the roadside.  Winter weather can kill an unprepared person who is exposed to the elements within
minutes.

With the first major winter storm of the season expected today, it's a good time to make sure our vehicles are ready to go with winter survival kits.  Keep them inside the vehicle where they will be readily accessible. From the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the kit should include:

o Three-pound coffee can, candle stubs and matches which can be used to melt
snow for additional drinking water

o Metal or plastic cup

o Red bandanna and a plastic whistle to alert rescuers to your location

o Pencil and paper

o First aid kit, including any essential medications

o Plastic flashlight with spare batteries (reverse the batteries to avoid accidental
switching and burnout, and replace batteries yearly)

o Two large plastic garbage bags, safety pins (bags are for insulation for feet,
safety pins keep the bags together)

o Snack foods for energy, such as candy bars.

• Some other items that you should carry include gloves or mittens, winter boots, a
blanket and/or sleeping bag, jumper cables, a basic toolbox, shovel, bag of sand or other
grit for traction, tow cable or chain, road flares and reflectors. You could also consider
an extra set of dry clothing or a snowmobile suit.

• Whenever traveling in winter, call ahead to your destination and tell when you intend to
leave, your travel route, and your expected time of arrival.

• If you become stranded, never leave your vehicle. Your chances of survival greatly
increase if you stay put.

• Consider carrying a cellular phone for use during emergencies. Find a safe place to pull
off the road when you need to make a call.

In southeastern Minnesota, we're dodging the big snowfall totals today....but you know they're coming.

(Getty Images)