Winter weather in northern New York can be very unpredictable. Sunny skies can turn to snowstorms in a very short period of time, and Fort Drum has experienced this phenomenon several times this winter.
In order to better prepare for inclement winter weather, Fort Drum officials have some safety tips for Soldiers, Family Members and Civilians to follow.
Fort Drum Directorate of Emergency Services Watch Commander Michael McCormick said that the first step to ensuring your personal safety is heeding weather warnings and travel advisories put out by the state and county.
“If there is something that is put out by either the state or the county, that is what people driving their personally owned vehicle should heed,” McCormick said.
If motorists must travel in snowy weather, they should be sure to proceed with caution, pay attention to road conditions and remember they may need to drive slower than posted speed limits.
“If you’re driving 15 miles per hour on a day where it’s really snowing, even that might be too fast for the road conditions,” McCormick said.
Motorists should be sure to keep an adequate amount of gas in their vehicle’s tank, especially during the winter.
Emergency Management Officer Terry Byard recommends keeping vehicle gas tanks at least half full. If your vehicle becomes disabled, you should remain inside and call for assistance. Hang a colorful flag from your vehicle’s antennae, and use your emergency four-way flashers only when you hear approaching vehicles in order to preserve the vehicle’s battery.
Motorists should run their vehicle for heat only when absolutely necessary, he said.
“When stranded, snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle,” Byard said. “If the vehicle’s radiator is covered in snow, the vehicle can overheat. It’s best to keep fresh air in the vehicle, and stay warm with loose-fitting clothing and blankets or sleeping bags from your emergency kit.”
“If you must use the vehicle’s heater, ensure the tail pipe is clear of snow and use it about 10 minutes per hour,” he continued. “When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.”
Byard also advised motorists to keep an emergency preparedness kit in their vehicle at all times.
Officials recommend the following items be included:
*Windshield scraper / small broom
*Flashlight with extra batteries
*Matches / small candle
*Extra hats, socks, mittens
*First aid kit with pocket knife
*Blankets and / or sleeping bag
*Tow chain or rope
*Road salt, sand or cat litter
*Fluorescent distress flag
*Cell phone charger
For more information about preparing your vehicle for inclement weather, visit www.ready