EAU CLAIRE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – November 14th through the 18th is Winter Weather Awareness Week, and Rod Eslinger with Eau Claire County Emergency Management says now is the time to prepare for the cold weather.

“There’re multiple messages that we’re trying to convey. First and foremost is preparing people for the weather that we’re getting today, for that matter. Making sure that your vehicles are prepared for that. You have your kit in case, that you have the situation where you go off the road.”

Eslinger also encourages people to store blankets and a shovel in their vehicles if they would somehow go off the road. A sergeant with the Wisconsin State Patrol in Eau Claire is sharing a similar message ahead of the winter road conditions.

“We want everybody to slow down. We want everybody to get to their destination as safely as they can. Just remember, slow down. Give yourself lots of distance between you and the car in front of you. And it’s not a bad idea this time of year to have like an emergency kit packed in your car in case something does happen.”

An emergency kit with things like:

“Blankets, extra clothing, flares, if possible, or a flashlight, a fully charged cell phone, and maybe a charger if you have something like that.”

Although driving in the snow is a big factor in winter safety, Eslinger says there are other factors to think about as well; like making sure your home is ready for the cold.

“If you haven’t had your furnace tuned up, it would probably be a good idea to call your furnace and the person that you have to, you know, to maintain them and make sure that it’s functioning properly.”

Because winter weather can be unpredictable.

“And if you’re not prepared, then all of a sudden the situation can happen. And, you know, you don’t want to have your furnace not working on the coldest day of the year.”

A sergeant with the State Patrol says it generally takes a couple of storms for people to remember how to drive properly in the winter, and because of that, it’s smart to be careful and drive defensively.