Travelers urged to stay safe during Sandy - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Travelers urged to stay safe during Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy could create issues for travelers on the road and in the air this weekend.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rain, wind, flooding and power outages. Forecasts show the storm is moving slowly, meaning the impact could last for days. As a result, experts are urging drivers to use caution.  

"The first rule of thumb is if you don't have to drive during the storm – don't," said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "If you must drive, take caution as conditions can become treacherous quickly. Nearly half of the people who die in flash floods are in automobiles because they vastly underestimate water's power or depth, or don't act quickly enough to escape."

Here's a checklist, courtesy of AAA, to use before the storm hits:

Make sure your car's gas tank is full. Service stations may not have power to run their pumps.

Clean your windshield clean and  test your wipers.

Properly inflate your tires.

Check that all lights are working properly.

Have an emergency road kit in your trunk, including a flashlight, batteries, reflective triangles, fire extinguisher, jumper cables; first aid kit, jack and spare tire, rain gear or extra clothing, and a pocket knife.

"As Sandy crashes into our region, driving can very quickly become hazardous," said Meade. "Heavy rain, high winds, and standing water on roads create some of the worst driving conditions, largely because unlike snow, drivers cannot see it as readily."

Once the storm hits, you'll want to be sure to stay off the roads. 

If you have to be out there, follow these guidelines:

Follow road closure signs and emergency warnings. Don not drive on closed roads.

Turn on your wipers and headlights at the first sign of rain. Virginia law dictates that headlights must be on when your wipers are on due to inclement weather.

If windows begin to fog, turn on the car's defroster.

Use low-beam headlights to help other drivers see your car and increase visibility.

Slow down. Rain decreases visibility and increases braking distances.

Don't follow too close. Increase your following distance to 8 seconds or more. 

Train your eyes farther down the road than normal.

Driving in other vehicle's tracks can improve traction and help you avoid hydroplaning.

Be wary of high wind conditions. Larger trucks are more affected by high winds, so give them plenty of room on the roadways.

Watch out for debris or downed wires on the roadways.

Do not attempt to cross any standing water on the road. Just six inches can make you lose control of your car. Two feet of water will carry away most cars.

Try to avoid bridges and roads that are known to flood. Cross them only if there is little standing or streaming water.

If you are forced to stop in traffic due to poor visibility, turn on emergency flashers immediately.

If you're planning to be traveling during the storm, be sure to check with your travel agent or carrier, as itineraries could have changed due to the storm. Travel insurance generally won't offer much help, as acts of God are not usually covered.

If you're going to be traveling:

Check out the local forecasts at your departure city and your destination.

Verify your airline's flight status.

Check with your hotel for any updates.

If you can, travel with only a carry-on bag for greater flexibility in your schedule.

Pack snacks, rain coats, extra clothing, flashlights, batteries and a radio.

Carry enough medication to last two to three times the length of your trip.

Arrange emergency child or pet care.

Leave a house key with a trusted friend or relative and carry their telephone number with you.

Carry a little extra money and check your credit cards limits and expiration dates, in case any emergency expenses come up.

Take care of critical items/bills which are due immediately upon your return before you go.

Carry important numbers with you.

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