Purdue officials encourage students to be prepared for winter

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As the chill of winter weather begins settling into Indiana, bringing often frigid temperatures along with the threat of snow and ice, Purdue officials are urging the university community to adequately prepare.

"Winter in Indiana can be beautiful, but it also has inherent dangers, many of which some of our students might not have experienced before," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "I encourage everyone to make some simple preparations that will help keep winter fun and safe."

January is typically the coldest month in Indiana, with an average temperature of 26.5 degrees in the Lafayette area, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis. The December average is 30.4 degrees and the February average is 30.5. Wind chills can push those averages to around 20 degrees.

Last winter, according to the Weather Service, the Indianapolis area had 37.4 inches of snow, which is 11.5 inches above normal. Forecasters are predicting above average snowfall again this year, though perhaps not as much as last winter.

Being ready for winter is key, said Ron Wright, director of Purdue emergency preparedness.

Wright suggests:

* Make sure you have winter footwear with excellent treads. A slip on the ice can cause serious injury. Black ice is virtually invisible and can be extremely hazardous both while walking and driving.

* Wear several layers of lightweight, warm clothing.

* Wear a scarf to cover your mouth.

* Mittens that fit snugly at the wrists are better than gloves.

* Sport a hat to prevent body heat loss from your head.

* Take the Purdue pedestrian tunnels and enclosed walkways. A map is available at https://www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/travel/purdue_tunnel_system.pdf

* Ride CityBus, which is free to everyone with a Purdue student, faculty, staff or retiree identification card.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and others also recommend:

* During very cold weather, those living off campus should let their faucets drip to avoid freezing pipes. Also know how to shut off water valves should a pipe burst.

* Check your car brakes, tires, heater, defroster, battery, antifreeze levels, oil levels, windshield wipers, exhaust system, lights and flashing hazard lights. Allow more time when traveling by car, and for those unfamiliar with driving on snow and ice, practice on an open lot. Be particularly cautious on bridges and overpasses, which can be extremely slick.

Tips and advice about what to do when a car loses traction and begins to skid are available online. Those with cars also should consider carrying jumper cables; extra warm, brightly colored clothing; blankets; a small shovel, tow chain, pocket knife and small tools; non-clumping kitty litter, road salt or sand to aid traction; emergency flares; water and energy bars; a flashlight and batteries; and other related supplies.

Students should talk to their professors before bad weather occurs about procedures and expectations that professors have in the event of class suspension. Class assignments can often be submitted by email, and some instructors may provide instruction or assignments online.

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Sources:  France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                  Ron Wright, 765-494-0446, rdwright@purdue.edu