Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has issued a release urging the public to be aware of the hazards associated with current weather conditions.

Dangerously cold temperatures and the wind chill factor make being outside and traveling perilous, the patrol says. Replogle says the patrol encourages everyone to stay inside and off the road, and says if you must travel in these conditions, please keep the following in mind:

Before you travel, gather an ice scraper, tire chains, battery booster cables, flares/reflectors, blankets, gloves, flashlight, and a bag of sand or kitty litter to place in your trunk. Also, ensure your cellular phone is fully charged and functional. Take bottled water and a snack with you. Emergencies cannot be predicted, but planning ahead can help you if one should arise.

Make sure your vehicle is in good condition with proper fluid levels and at least a half tank of fuel. Keeping your fuel tank at half full or higher prevents gas lines from freezing and will allow you to run the engine and keep warm while waiting for assistance should you become stranded. Allow extra driving time for you to reach your destination at a slow, safe speed. Remember: Missouri law states if you’re using your windshield wipers, your headlights must be turned on. It takes only a second to turn on your vehicle’s headlights. That second could make you more visible to other drivers and prevent a traffic crash.

If your vehicle slides off the road, stay with it. Other vehicles could put you in danger of being struck if you are outside your vehicle. Temperatures are frigid and walking for help could put you at risk of frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and body tissues are exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. You are more susceptible to this condition the longer you are outside. Frostbite may affect any part of the body, although the hands, feet, nose, and ears are most vulnerable. Wet clothing, high winds, and poor circulation can contribute to frostbite. If you must be outside, wear layers of clothing, mittens rather than gloves, wind-proof/water-resistant clothing, hat, scarf, etc. Limit how long you are outside.

“If you must drive, plan ahead and be a courteous driver,” Replogle says. “Please slow down, pay attention, and wear your seat belt.”