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WSU Vancouver students can take several simple precautions to combat the “Snowpocalypse.”

Campus got its first taste of dangerous winter weather last week when the first snowfall of the year was quickly followed by icy roads and a freezing rain warning. With winter fast approaching, Washington State University Vancouver students will find themselves faced with the possibility of inclement weather suddenly and adversely affecting their schedule and plans. Although winter brings uncertainty, there are several resources that students can take advantage of to reduce the impact of sudden winter weather.

Winter weather in Southwest Washington is notoriously unpredictable. The area may be greatly affected by snow and ice, as in the storm that hit campus Feb. 2014. The snowstorm presented serious challenges to students such as David McNichol, a junior. “The path to the neighborhood I park in was covered with ice… it was very slippery,” McNichol said.

Students at WSU Vancouver are especially susceptible to inclement weather because the school is a commuter campus. If winter weather threatens, WSU Vancouver students not only have to concern themselves with whether classes are in session but also with whether it is safe to drive on the roads.

According to the campus Department of Public Safety’s website, WSU Vancouver rarely closes campus fully except under the most severe weather circumstances. However, if the Chancellor determines that there is great risk to safety or property in the event of a weather emergency, the campus can be closed.

In the event of a campus closure, the information will be relayed to local media outlets for broadcast. Also, WSU Vancouver has a campus specific emergency notification system that can be used to notify students and staff of closures. This system connects directly with students and staff of the university to bring them emergency notifications via text messages, automated phone calls and email. The messages will relay the nature of the emergency or closure as well as the appropriate response. Students are encouraged to register for the service through the myWSU site.

It is possible that winter weather may strike and the campus may not close, or only partially close. In such a situation, it is up to students to decide whether it is safe enough to come to campus. Because WSU Vancouver is a commuter campus, students must be prepared to deal with the challenges of winter driving if they decide to come to campus during inclement weather. Students and faculty are expected to communicate with each other about the safety of travel and come to arrangements in light of driving conditions.

One of the best ways students can prepare for winter weather when out and about, whether going to classes or commuting to work, is to keep a winter survival kit in their vehicle. There are many different resources available detailing what to keep in your car during the winter. These items range from items for personal comfort and safety to automotive repair.

A shovel is a recommended tool for winter driving to help remove a vehicle stuck in snow. A tow chain or rope is also a good thing to carry. Drivers should also carry a windshield ice scraper to remove ice from a frozen windshield. A flashlight and extra batteries are also recommended. Cat litter or sand can also be the difference between getting on the road or just spinning your wheels. The sand or litter can be placed on the ground in front of a slipping tire to help the car gain traction and drive out of a slippery road surface. Finally, jumper cables to start a dead battery are a recommended addition to a winter survival kit.

To help keep away the cold and maintain comfort should one become stranded, it is recommended to keep a blanket in the car, along with snacks and bottled water. Winter weather is, as previously mentioned, unpredictable, so having extra clothes such as an extra coat, hat, scarf and gloves is a necessary part of a winter survival kit. Drivers are also encouraged to keep a first aid kit in the car. Finally, to prevent a dead cell phone battery, a charger that can plug into the car’s cigarette lighter can be a helpful addition to the kit.

Winter can be an uncertain time for WSU Vancouver students. However, a little preparedness is all it takes to prevent one from becoming a victim of the “Snowpocalypse.” Further information regarding campus safety can be found on the Department of Public Safety website at http://admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/public-safety/emergency-closure-suspended-operations-procedure.

More details about the campus emergency notification system, as well a link for students to sign up for the service, are available at http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/safety-plan/emergency-communications-vancouver-campus-and-public.

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