SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
As winter approaches, it’s important drivers start taking precautions to ensure they are ready for traveling in inclement weather.
Tyler Rich, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, recommends preparing vehicles for winter by scheduling a complete maintenance check. Regular checks should include oil, brake fluid, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid checks.
“Where we are specifically, when the wind is blowing you can’t see much,” he said. “Having a good defrost and making sure that everything is working great is key.”
James Giddens, 50th CES assistant fire chief, said clearing off windows, mirrors and lights prior to getting on the road is important to ensure good visibility.
“If you can’t see, [do not] continue driving,” said Giddens. “Find a safe spot, pull to the side [of the road] with your flashers on and be safe. [Leadership] is not going to write you up for being late to work if you can’t see, safety is important.”
Storms and harsh weather can be unpredictable and headlights help make vehicles more visible. Many vehicles have automatic lights that don’t always turn on during snow storms because it’s still bright outside, drivers may have to manually turn on lights.
“If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on, too,” said Thomas Obenchain, 50th CES firefighter.
Extra caution is extra important in this area because the roads are prone to black ice. Black ice is especially dangerous because the road only looks wet, not icy. When forecasted temperatures are near freezing, drivers should expect it.
Turning, accelerating and braking are dangerous on ice. When traveling, scheduling extra time will allow for safe, slow, and cautious maneuvers, decreasing the likelihood of an accident.
“No matter how well you take care of your car, nothing’s going to help you stop on ice,” said Giddens. “Always leave plenty of extra time to stop and be aware of your circumstance. Even if you think it’s only snow, when you hit those breaks, the next thing you know, you’re sliding.”
When traveling in inclement weather, plan for accidents and emergencies. Drivers should consider making a plan for unexpected changes in weather. Additionally, keeping others informed of planned travel routes and final destinations will help speed up rescue times, should an accident happen.
“Everyone living in this area should have an emergency kit in their car,” said Rich. “Last year during the bomb cyclone, a lot of people were left stranded on the side of the road with nothing. Kits can be as simple as having water, blankets, hand warmers and a flashlight.”
A winter safety briefing by the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron also recommends the following items:
- Non-perishable, high energy foods
- First-aid kits
- Booster cables
Should road conditions get too dangerous, drivers should consider options and choose the safest one. Unless the vehicle is on fire or has another serious problem, it is always safest to stay inside and wait for help.
Though following these tips can help keep drivers safe, it’s important drivers remember staying home is an option and to stay updated on anticipated weather changes during travel. The day might start out clear and sunny but end like the bomb cyclone.
“If [leadership] tells you not to come into work, don’t ‘man up’ and come in anyway,” said Giddens. “It’s best to take care of yourself; don’t take the risk.”
For additional information and road condition updates, check the Schriever Air Force Base website, Facebook page or call the base SNOW line at 567-SNOW (7669).