Winter storm expected to plow Indiana
GREENCASTLE -- Winter weather can mean treacherous travels for motorists, but a few simple precautions can mean the difference between life and death on the roadways.
"Make time for travel," noted Putnam County Sheriff Steve Fenwick. "Leave home a little earlier."
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Putnam County. The watch will be in effect until Friday morning.
A watch means significant winter weather -- heavy snow or sleet, freezing rain or a combination of events -- is expected, but not imminent.
Three inches of snow has been predicted for the area today, and the high temperature is expected to be 23 degrees. It isn't supposed to get any warmer before the weekend, with a high of 13 degrees expected Saturday.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Department has reserves and four-wheel drive vehicles on standby.
"We are ready to go if bad weather hits," Fenwick said.
Jerry Butts, owner of Jerry's Wrecker Service in Greencastle, said motorists need to remain calm should their vehicles become stuck or disabled during bad weather.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Richard Myers agreed.
"Don't panic," he said. "An idling car only uses one gallon of gas per hour."
If a stranded motorist chooses to stay with their vehicle, they should roll down a window a very small amount for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked. This will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
In addition, Butts recommended keeping high-calorie snacks, such as nuts, raisins and candy bars and a bottle of water in the vehicle.
ISP suggested carrying a winter survival kit, which should include such items as blankets, flashlights, extra batteries, brightly colored cloth, sand or a bag of cat litter, a shovel, candles and matches, a first aid kit and jumper cables.
Troy Stearley, a mechanic with Don's Garage in Greencastle, said the two most common factors for a breakdown or causes for a vehicle to not start are the battery and lack of antifreeze.
"Have them both checked out," he said.
The Putnam County Highway Department has a full supply of salt and sand mix ready for the bad weather and its 11 trucks are operational, said Clint Maddox with PCHD.
Fenwick said drivers should beware of slick county roads.
If at all possible, carry a cell phone with a fully charged battery and in case of an emergency call 911.
For road information, visit the Indiana Department of Transportation's Web site TrafficWise.IN.gov or dial (800) 261-7623. Don't call ISP or other public safety agencies to inquire about current road conditions, as those lines need to remain open for emergency calls.