As snow blankets a great portion of the Midwest, students need to be prepared to stay safe through another long winter.
For students who are new to U.P. winters, knowing how to prepare for the cold winter months is crucial. And for those that are traveling during the winter months, knowing how to drive safely in winter weather is important.
“Everybody seems like in the winter they are running late and in a hurry, and that is the time to do the opposite,” said Crime Prevention and Community Policing Specialist Lt. Don Peterman.
It takes much longer to stop in winter conditions. Drivers are more likely to end up in an accident when less attention is paid to speed, Peterman said.
“Almost all of the accidents we have in the winter are from people driving too fast for the weather conditions,” Peterman said.
Students should also know properly cleaning off cars in the winter helps to reduce safety risks.
By only clearing a small portion of a car windshield, visibility is reduced on both the sides and back of the car, Peterman said.
Peterman has previously stopped students driving on campus who have only a small portion of their windows cleaned off.
In addition to safe driving habits, students should also have their cars serviced before winter begins. Cars don’t handle extreme temperatures well. Getting an oil change, coolant checked regularly and having quality windshield wipers will help, Peterman said.
Students should also go and start their cars occasionally during the winter months if not driving regularly. Extreme winter temperatures wear down car batteries and letting the car run occasionally will help keep the battery working properly, Peterman said.
“Students will let their cars sit out for weeks, even months…and then they wonder why their car won’t start,” Peterman said.
In addition to having cars properly serviced, keeping winter gear in the car is just as important, Peterman said.
“Have a shovel and carry some sort of abrasive material,” Peterman said.
Materials such as kitty litter give the car more traction in the snow, Peterman said.
If a car is stuck on campus, the Motorist Assist Program through Public Safety will come to help dig out your car. The Motorist Assist Program will also bring extra gas and help change flat tires, Peterman said.
Students also have a variety of their own advice for handling the winter, including ways to keep themselves healthy through.
“Dress in layers, have a nice pair of boots that don’t let your feet freeze, wear a hat, mittens and scarf,” said Sabrina Pietila, a freshman photography major.
Rebekah Curry, a sophomore zoology major, said she takes Vitamin D supplements to stay healthy throughout the winter.
Keeping cold medicine on hand is also a good way to stay ahead of winter illness, said Rachel Miu, a sophomore pre-architecture major.
When it comes to cancelling classes for inclement weather, alerts are sent out through radio, TV, NMU webpages, mass emails and the text alert system, said Capt. Jeff Mincheff, assistant director of Police Services. Students can also call NMU’s “Brrr” hotline at (906) 227-2777 to check for closures.
“[When cancelling classes], several factors come into play, storm status, visibility, road conditions and the long and short-range forecast,” Mincheff said.
Students can register for the text alert system to stay informed on cancellations by going to myweb.nmu.edu/alerts.