|Get your car and home ready for winter posted on 12/01/2018|
Lieutenant Phil Burks of the Hoodland Fire District (HFD)
noted that one winter, temperatures hovered around 20 below zero for a couple
weeks, putting people and their vehicles to the test.
“That was brutal,” Burks said. “We don’t get that cold most
often. It’s hard on everything.”
With this winter’s chill now on the horizon, Burks and
Senior Firefighter Evan Jarvis offered some good tips to be prepared for the
cold, snow and ice.
The first tip: check your tires and try putting chains on
them now, well ahead of when you may need to use them. Burks noted that winter
rated tires will have a snowflake embossed on the side, offering more grip in
He recommended putting chains on in a parking lot with good
lighting as a practice run, while adding that cars with front wheel drive
should have the chains on the front tires. And make sure that the number
matches the tire, as not all chains fit all tires.
“When you’re running winter tires, because of the higher
tread, sometimes the chains won’t fit,” Burks said.
He added that windshield wiper fluid can freeze in the
winter, unless it is rated for the cold weather, and to make the switch before
it becomes a problem.
“It’s easy to forget,” he said, noting that windshield
wipers might need replacing after the hot summer and radiator fluid should also
Mountain drivers and visitors should also be prepared by
carrying flares (traditional flares can go bad, electronic ones are also
available), blankets, hats, gloves, water, food, traction aids (such as kitty
litter) and any medication that might be needed if people get stranded. And a
small tarp comes in handy to use while putting on those chains.
Jarvis added that drivers should drive slower in slippery
conditions and leave more room between themselves and other cars. And even if
the road is clear, patches of black ice can form in shadowed areas and other
places, causing dangerous situations for cars going too fast.
“Go slow,” Jarvis said. “That's the one thing we find, is
that people are going way too fast.”
Burks also noted that drivers are required to slow down or
move over if a vehicle is on the side of the road.
“That’ll help keep everybody safer,” he said, adding that
drivers who fail to perform this duty could be subject to a ticket.
Jarvis added that drivers who are heading for a longer trip
should be sure to start with a full tank of gas, while owners of small cars
should check to see if their vehicle has tow points. If not, keys that can
screw into a bumper can be purchased to help pull a vehicle out of the snow if
Anybody going outside should keep an eye on the weather and
dress in layers, while travelers should also keep in mind that if conditions
warrant, they can always turn around and go back instead of continuing on in a
Meanwhile, Jarvis added that people can prepare for winter
at home by having a 72-hour kit, including enough food, water, pet food and
medication in case no assistance is available for a few days during a storm.
Keeping extra wood handy for a wood stove is also recommended, as people may
need to cook food without electricity.
For more information on driving conditions, visit the Oregon
Department of Transportation’s website, tripcheck.com.
By Garth Guibord/MT