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Front Page » November 2, 2006 » Local News » Agencies caution Carbon residents to prepare for winter c...
Published 2,825 days ago

Agencies caution Carbon residents to prepare for winter conditions


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By LES BOWEN
Sun Advocate reporter


A semi-truck loses it haul as it comes around a corner near Ford Falls on U.S. Highway 6. October 29 through Nov. 4 has been declared Winter Weather Preparedness Week by Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. The governor's office as well as local officials would like to remind residents to make sure and prepare in advance for winter weather conditions. Robert Hull, UDOT director of traffic and safety warns, "Snow, sleet and ice on the road require drivers to be more diligent, attentive and cautious. Winter weather conditions can turn small mistakes into serious problems." Officials request that travelers check weather forecasts from the National Weather Service and plan accordingly before traveling this winter.

In recent weeks, winter weather has hit higher elevations, leaving mountains around the Castle Calley capped with snow.

As cold weather conditions begin to affect lower elevations, state and local officials remind Carbon County residents to prepare in advance for adverse weather conditions.

Gov. Jon Huntsman recently declared Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week. Agencies supporting the declaration included the Utah Department of Public Safety, United States Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, the department of transportation, Utah's four chapters of the American Red Cross,state parks and the Utah Board of Education.

As residents receive weather forecasts and storm warnings issued by the National Weather Service, officials encourage that members of the public become familiar with weather terminology.

Nationally, 70 percent of the winter fatalities related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.

Another 25 percent are people who are caught outdoors in a storm.

The majority of those killed due to ice and snow are males older than 40 years old.

Frequently, the affects of cold weather indirectly contribute to deaths.

Many of thes fatalities occur in motor vehicle accidents on icy roads. Heart attacks while shoveling snow and hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures are also major contributors to the wintertime fatalities.

For deaths related to the exposure to the cold, 50 percent are more than 60 years old and 75 percent are males.

And surprisingly, 20 percent of cold weather deaths occur inside the home.

State officials urge local residents to get prepared early and to be ready before a storm strikes.

At home and at work, residents are encouraged to have the following items available or installed:

•Flashlight and extra batteries.

•Battery-powered NOAA weather radio receiver and portable radio.

•Extra food and water.

•Extra medicine and baby items.

•First-aid supplies.

•Heating fuel.

•Emergency heating source.

•Fire extinguisher.

Livestock transported from summer rangelands down into the valley compound the winter traffic hazards faced by Carbon County motorists. In addition to livestock and icy highway conditions, local drivers should remain alert for wildlife migrating after the snow falls in the mountains.

•Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

For drivers and travelers, officials recommend that local residents:

•Fully check and winterize motor vehicles.

•Carry a winter storm survival kit in automobiles.

The survival kits should contatin blankets/sleeping bags; a flashlight; first-aid kit; a knife; non-perishable food; extra clothing; a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes; a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water; sand; shovel; windshield scraper; repair tools; a tow rope; booster cables; water container; and road maps.

•Keep gas tanks near full.

•Carry a cell phone.

•Let someone know trip itinerary.

As Carbon County drivers head out onto winter roads, UDOT encourages local motorists to be cautious.

The transportation department has established four strategic goals that govern departmental operation. One of those goals is to improve safety.

Included in the goal UDOT's website states that roadway safety includes "public awareness campaigns, improved design, high-visibility signs, rumble strips, new paint striping technologies, intersection improvements and maintenance safety activities."

In addition, UDOT pledges to continue to focus on the efforts to deliver people safely to destinations.

The safety and mobility of motorists during the winter months is a primary concern at UDOT.

"When the first snowstorms hit the valley, we typically see a high number of crashes, because people just aren't used to adjusting their driving behaviors for winter conditions," said Robert Hull, director of traffic and safety for UDOT. "Snow, sleet and ice on the road require drivers to be more diligent, attentive and cautious. Winter weather conditions can turn small mistakes into serious problems."

Transportation officials provide the following tips to help motorists stay safe on the roads this winter:

•Never attempt to pass a snowplow.

Let snowplows go ahead while the equipment clears the road for motorists.

•Don't get between snowplows when the operators are removing snow in tandem.

•Stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow.

When salt from the plow hits a vehicle, the driver is following too closely.

•Slow down and be courteous.

•Remove snow and ice from all of your windows before you get on the road.

•Increase your following distance behind other vehicles. On slick roads extra braking distance can help avoid a collision.

•Minimize lane changes.

•Check CommuterLink.utah.gov to see road conditions via real-time traffic cameras.

•Call 511 to hear about road conditions on your route.

When calling from outside the area and on certain cellular providers, residents should dial (866) 511-UTAH or visit UDOT's website at http://www.udot.utah.gov/.

•Remember that bridges and overpasses become icy first and that falling or blowing snow can often restrict visibility.

In the event that snow forces residents to take shelter, state officials remind the public to stay inside.

When relying on alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater or other indoor heating devices, people should use safeguards and ventilate the rooms properly.

If residents are without heat, the following suggestions are provided by state and local safety officials:

•Close off unneeded rooms.

•Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.

•Cover windows at night.

People who are forced indoors in a storm are encouraged to maintain proper food and water consumption.

Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.

To conserve body heat, residents should wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing.

People should remove layers of clothing to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.

If residents are forced to take shelter in a motor vehicle, state officials recommend that travelers:

•Stay in the vehicle.

Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.

•Run the motor about 10 minutes per hour for heat.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, people should open a window in the vehicle a little for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.

•Take steps to be visible to rescuers.

People should turn on the vehicle's dome light at night when running the engine.

Stranded travelers should tie colored cloths (preferably red) to the vehicle antenna and door handles.

The vehicle's hood should be raised to indicate trouble after the snow stops falling.

•Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

At times, a storm can catch individuals while they are away from their homes and out of their vehicles.

When a storm hits while Carbon County residents are outdoors, the following tips are provided:

•First, people should find shelter.

People should also stay dry and cover all exposed parts of the body.

When shelter is not available, residents should prepare a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the elements.

Building a fire will provide heat and attract attention. People should place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.



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