Winter Weather Awareness Day in Iowa is next Thursday, but with snow flying across much of the state already, some folks may benefit from the reminders a week early. Jeff Johnson, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says having a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle could be a life-saver.

Johnson says, "If you get caught out in the weather, in the elements, and get stranded for a time period, you’re going to need some things: non-perishable food items, blankets, a way to communicate — a good cell phone — just some things to survive six-to-12 hours typically before help arrives." He says motorists need to keep themselves particularly aware of the weather during the winter and heed the travel advisories when they’re issued.

Johnson says: "People just drive too fast and they need to get where they need to go and they think they can make it, especially if they have four-wheel drive, but that doesn’t do any good on the ice. You need to slow down, take it easy, allow yourself a safe distance between vehicles and drive very defensively."

He says some people take it to the opposite extreme — driving over-cautiously and really slowly. That, too, can present a serious hazard. Johnson recommends the Weather Service website for more tips. "We have a lot information about what to do when we have a winter storm, blizzards, ice storms, extreme cold and wind chill." Visit the National Weather Service website .