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Keeping you safe: tips for driving on ice, snow

The wintry-mix storm expected to blow through the Miami Valley starting late tonight through early Saturday is likely to make driving treacherous, forcing drivers to dust off their dormant winter-driving skills.

The storm could dump as much as six inches of snow, and some areas, especially southeast of Dayton, will get sleet and freezing rain, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Rich Wirdzek.

The forecast was sending residents to local hardware stores this morning. “It seems like every other customer” is buying ice-melting materials, said Sue Eckert, owner of Greive Hardware in Kettering. “I think people get a little more worried this time of year, because of all the holiday parties that are planned and people coming in from out of town.”

Eckert said her two stores have plenty of de-icing materials now, “and we have more coming tomorrow (Friday).”

The Dayton office of AAA said its dispatch center will be fully staffed Thursday and Friday nights to provide roadside assistance to its customers. AAA offers these tips to drivers who choose to venture out:

• Always wear your seat belt

• Avoid distractions – don’t talk on your cell phone

• Make sure your wipers and fluids are in good condition, and check your battery if it’s three or more years old.

• Put into your car a blanket and other emergency food and first aid supplies, a shovel and kitty litter for traction if you slide off the road, especially if you’re venturing into rural areas.

• If your car door lock is frozen over, do not pour hot water over it — that will make the situation worse. Heat your car key with a hair dryer instead

• Keep a safe distance — give yourself at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you

• Brake gently to avoid skidding, and use low gears to avoid losing traction

• Avoid passing plows unless necessary

• When driving on the highway during times of limited visibility, stay out of the pack

• Use major routes that have been cleared or salted whenever possible

• Do not engage your vehicle’s cruise control. Using cruise control on wet roads or during heavy rain can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

• Keep your headlights on

• If you are involved in an accident, either stay in your vehicle, or get well away from where the traffic is approaching

Ray Keyton, senior vice president of AAA Miami Valley, said this morning that the “best advice is, if you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. Stay off those roads.”

Beyond that, “just slow down,” Keyton said.

• Staff writer Katie Wedell contributed to this report.

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