In Case of Emergency Form for Drivers

Do your drivers have an ICE form in their vehicle? ICE, of course, stands for In Case of Emergency and the form in question is a form that outlines any and all important information about the driver; information that emergency personnel might need and which, depending on the emergency, the driver might not be able to provide.

You can download a driver’s ICE form here. Have each driver fill one out and keep it in a prominent place in the vehicle. It just might save their life in case of emergency.


Ice, Snow and Sleet Safety

beware-of-ice_2697306

With winter on the way, here are a few reminders concerning safely walking in ice, snow and sleet…

Walking on Ice… and other slippery surfaces

  • No matter how well the ice & snow are removed from campus streets & sidewalks, people will encounter slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter.
  • Many cold weather injuries are the result of falls on ice-covered streets and sidewalks.
  • Getting around in icy conditions calls for planning, caution, and a little common sense.

What to Wear

  • Dress warmly and wear boots with non-skid soles. (Avoid plastic and leather soles.)
  • Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it hard for you to hear traffic.
  • During the day, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.

How to Walk

  • Plan ahead and give yourself enough time.
  • When walking on steps, always use the handrailings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
  • Bending your knees a little and taking slower and shorter steps increases traction and can greatly reduce your chances of falling.
  • It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.
  • Approach cleared streets & sidewalks with caution. Look out for “black ice.”
  • Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • It can happen early in the morning or in areas shaded from the sun.
  • A heavy backpack or other load can challenge your sense of balance.
  • Try not to carry too much—you need to leave your hands and arms free to better balance yourself.
  • Be prepared to fall and try to avoid using your arms to break your fall.
  • If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head won’t hit the ground with full force.
  • When entering a building, remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can.
  • Notice that floors and stairs may be wet & slippery—walk carefully.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support.

Where to Walk

  • Walk on sidewalks if possible.
  • If sidewalks are covered with snow & ice, one option is to walk along their grassy edges for traction.
  • If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
  • Taking shortcuts through areas where snow & ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous.

Avoid Areas with Falling Ice

  • As if there wasn’t enough danger of falling on ice, you must be aware of ice that might fall on YOU!
  • Watch out for: Icicles hanging from eaves, sheets of ice on sloping roofs, and tree branches covered with ice.
  • They can fall quickly and silently.

Dealing with Traffic

  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure all cars and trucks have come to a complete stop.
  • Due to poor road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop or slow down for pedestrians.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles sliding in your direction.
  • Vehicles should yield to snow removal equipment in streets and parking lots.

 

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald (koswald@dfamilk.com)


ICE your cell phone- In Case of Emergency

ICE – In Case of Emergency

Programming of Emergency Contact Numbers in your PLATEAU Cell Phones

ICE – In Case of Emergency – programming of your cell phones with ICE is a concept that was developed by a paramedic in England. It was realized that most of his victims did not carry emergency contact information but did carry cell phones. So the campaign started was to get people who carry cell phones to put in a listing of ICE in their cell phone directory with a number that should be called In Case of an Emergency.

There are over 300 million cell phone users in the United States today. Industry experts expect over 350 million users by end of 2013. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2012 that 1,800,000 emergency room patients could not provide contact information because they were incapacitated. So many individuals, including teenagers, leave the home each day without any identification or emergency contact information, yet carry a cell phone. Ice your phone could be very valuable to a lot of people in times of an emergency.

It is simple to do. First type the acronym ICE in your contact directory of your PLATEAU cell phone then the phone number of the person to be contacted in an emergency.

It has also been suggested that you add a period at the beginning of the acronym. This puts the listing first on the directory list. Thus .ice this also makes it quick for you to call this number since on most cell phones – after you push the Phonebook button the first entry is highlighted and ready for you to push the send button to make the call.

Some individuals like to add the name of the person after the ICE acronym. Thus, if someone wanted Bob to be called in an emergency, the contact listing might look like: ice-bob

A number of public safety agencies here in the United States are training their first responders to look for the ICE acronym in the cell phones of those that are not able to tell the first responder who to call In Case of an Emergency.

It has been proven that the ability to get vital health and medical information about a victim can be very important in how paramedics may treat someone who is unconscious.

The use of ICE for children can be very important because most do not carry wallets that would provide other important contact information. An ICE-mom or ICE-dad could be very important in providing this emergency contact.

Additionally, include ICE Poison Control phone numbers into your Plateau cell phone in case a family member, friend, pet or someone ingests some form of Poison. The Poison control phone number is 1-800-222-1222 or for your pet it is 1-888-426-4435.

ICE Advice
* ICE is not a substitute to keeping written emergency information in a wallet or purse. Emergency response teams first look to identify you before trying to contact next of kin.

* Cell phones are personal items that must remain with the victim. Written information can be photocopied. Keep ICE information limited – as this is accessible to anyone finding your cell phone.

* The person whose name and number you are giving has agreed to be your ICE contact.

* Your ICE contact(s) should have a list of people they should contact on your behalf, including your place of work.

* Your ICE contact should know about any medical conditions that could affect your emergency treatment – for example allergies or current medications

* If you are under 18, your ICE contact is either your mother or father or an immediate member of your family authorized to make decisions on your behalf

DO NOT password-protect your contact list.


Walking on Snow and Ice

Most slips and falls occur the following days after a winter storm. Below are tips for walking on the snow and ice. Take care and have a safe day.

Walking Safely on Snow and Ice

Walking to and from parking lots or between buildings at work during the winter requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Slips and falls are some of the most frequent types of injuries that the Safety Department sees especially during the winter months.

No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, pedestrians will still encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It is important for everyone to be constantly aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces.

Reminders

§ Wear appropriate shoes.

§ Walk in designated walkways.

§ Watch where you are walking.

§ Walk slowly and don’t rush!

§ Plan ahead and give yourself enough time.

It is recommended to keep these important safety tips in mind:

Choosing Appropriate Clothing

  • During bad weather, avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels, such as plastic and leather soles. Instead, wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice; boots made of non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles are best.
  • Wear a heavy, bulky coat that will cushion you if you should fall.
  • Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • During the day, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it hard for you to hear traffic.

Walking Over Ice

Walk like a penguin

  • In cold temperatures, approach with caution and assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk or driveway, especially if on a hill, may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
  • Taking shortcuts through areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous. Try to avoid straying from the beaten path.

Point your feet out slightly like a penguin! Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.

  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Beware if you are carrying a heavy backpack or other loadyour sense of balance will be off.
    • If you must carry a load, try not to carry too much; leave your hands and arms free to balance yourself.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets. Hands in your pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
  • Watch where you are stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y !! This will help your reaction time to changes in traction.
  • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support.
  • Take short steps or shuffle for stability. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.

Dealing with Traffic

Another hazard of walking on icy ground is dealing with poor road conditions. Keep these safety tips in mind if you’re going to be crossing the street:

  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure all cars and trucks have come to a complete stop. Motorists sometimes underestimate the time it takes to stop, often unintentionally sliding into the crosswalk.
  • Due to poor road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop or slow down for pedestrians. Avoid crossing in areas where driver visibility is lowthe cross traffic may not be able to stop in time.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles sliding in your direction.
  • Vehicles should yield to snow removal equipment in streets and parking lots.

Indoor Safety

Walking over slippery floor can be just as dangerous as walking over ice! Keep these tips in mind if you are entering a building:

  • Remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can. Water from melting ice on the floor can lead to slippery conditions.
  • Notice that floors and stairs may be wet and slipperywalk carefully especially by outer doors.

If You Should Fall

  • Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body, such as your side. Wearing thick clothing can help prevent injury to the bony parts of your body.
  • Try to relax your muscles if you fall. You’ll injure yourself less if you are relaxed.

If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head won’t hit the ground with full force.

Safety First, Safety Always!

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald@plateautel.com


Dangers of Falling Ice

Icicle danger: BEWARE OF Death by Icicle!

Icicles and rooftop snow are the latest danger facing the public this winter. Freezing temperatures across the country have led to the build-up of ice and snow on cell towers, buildings and roofs – with emergency services called into action to deal with some of the dangers.

More people than ever are being killed by icicles. It’s official. Winter is here and is dangerous!!

The numbers of people injured or killed this year by falling icicles is still going up and the news isn’t good.

The fact that icicles are dangerous shouldn’t come as a surprise–they’re essentially little frozen missiles, usually falling from great heights–but the number of people harmed this year is surprisingly high. In fact, injury rates are the highest on record. Don’t be complacent next time we are outside near a cell tower, house or buildings with icicles.

That piece of ice can kill!!

Ice bridges are in place like the one below but we still have to watch out from the sky above for those falling pieces of ice that can be up to over 1000 lbs falling toward you at a high rate of speed. Yes that is the size of a refrigerator falling from the tower above. It can kill and severely damage vehicles and equipment.

How do icicles form?? The heat emanating from homes, cause snow or ice to melt and then refreeze into icicles hanging from gutters, the edges of roofs, windows, or any place water is able to drip. Continued cold temperatures with period of slight warming trends also create icicles that “grow” and become larger, longer, and exponentially more dangerous to those who pass below them.

Icicles may become several feet long, with an extensively large diameter at the top, and if they fall from as little as one floor height, can cause property damage, injury and possibly even death. Back in the mid 1990’s we had a huge icicle at my house, it is at least 10 foot long and I am sure longer ones exist.

Ice can form quickly on the cold metal of the towers and metal roofs of buildings even with no rain, snow or much moisture. When ice coats an antenna, which is likely from 50 or hundred feet up to a thousand feet up even in mild winter weather, it becomes a serious hazard. Ice forms around the cold metal and builds while temperatures remain below freezing. When that ice warms and falls from the tower, it becomes a hazard not only to antennas lower on the tower but also to the transmitter buildings, vehicles, and people on the ground. One winter, a huge ice chunk knocked a hole in the thick reinforced concrete ceiling reported by one provided. As you can imagine, dripping water and high voltage didn’t mix very well. Innumerable technicians or engineers working at sites have returned to their vehicles during winter weather to find their pickups smashed by refrigerator-sized chunks of ice. That is how dangerous these pieces of ice can be.

The dangers are worldwide. They do look pretty with the sunlight and hanging from the roof as a winter wonderland scene but they are like sharp weapons. Ice daggers: They are potentially lethal icicles hanging from a rooftops and towers around the world.

In one episode of the popular show known as “Mythbusters” shown (on the Discovery Channel), proved that falling ice could kill. Causing ice to fall several feet provided compelling evidence when penetration of a piece of meat was sufficiently deep to have caused serious injuries if not worse.

In fact, hundreds of people are injured or killed each year, in not only the United States but also any country that has similar weather, from spear-like icicles or large chunks of ice falling from several stories in height. A worker from Wisconsin died instantly in February 2010 when a microwave sized piece of ice fell, crushing his skull and vertebras in his neck and back. A 7-year-old boy from Springfield, Vermont, suffered traumatic brain injuries when an icicle fell and hit him while he was playing. The young boy suffered two skull fractures and brain damage and has to learn how to walk again. There are numerous other sad stories from ice, heavy snow, falling ice  and these deadly icicles.

SAFETY TIPS FOR FALLING ICE:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch the sky above if you are close to a building, house or cell tower for falling ice. Don’t let the complacency bug bite you and end up injured or even worse.
  • Be aware most ice falls within 5-10 ft of domestic buildings but can travel as far out as 50-100 ft from a cell tower.
    • 80 TO 90 MPH That is the rate at which a half-pound icicle three inches in diameter falls from a 30-story building, according to terminal-velocity calculations by Andreas Schroeder, a physics professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
    • 1,000 LBS. The force with which the half-pound icicle hits. “That is the rough equivalent of a couple of people on a stiletto-shoe heel on top of your head,” UIC’s Schroeder says. “Roughly the same as a five-ounce baseball thrown by a Major League pitcher hitting you in the head.”
    • Wear a hard hat when entering any cell site.
      • You should not stand under areas with icicles above.
      • Never place a ladder directly against a gutter covered with ice or icicles the pressure of the ladder against the gutter may cause the ice or icicles to dislodge, falling on the person or property below

Information from OSHA.gov, Discovery Channel, University of Chicago, North News and Pictures Ltd and National Telecommunications Safety.

 

Today’s Blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau
koswald@plateautel.com

 


Winter Weather Awareness


During the winter season, it is important to keep up with the latest forecasts and warnings.  In these pages devoted to winter weather, we review winter safety information (in English and Spanish), describe the products used to convey winter threats, discuss the various types of precipitation that occur in the cold season, and present the climatology of various snow amounts for several locations across New Mexico.

The complex terrain of New Mexico, ranging from the eastern plains, high mountains across the northern and western regions, to the Rio Grande Valley, combines to create weather regimes that change quickly over relatively short distances. Highway travelers may find themselves first in light snow or rain then suddenly in heavy snow as the highway climbs through a mountain pass. The weather may be relatively mild and sunny along the Rio Grande valley from Socorro to Albuquerque, with near blizzard conditions found across the high plains east of the central mountain chain. Winter weather can be deadly if you fail to take proper precautions. Be sure to check out the information available on our web site to become familiar with winter weather safety facts, products, and climate.


How do the various forms of winter precipitation develop when when temperatures at or above the surface dip below freezing?

Snow

Sleet

Freezing Rain

  • Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
    • Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
    • Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant.
    • Blowing Snow: Wind driven-snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the
      ground that is picked up by the wind.
    • Blizzard: Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
  • Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.
  • Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

Why should I worry about winter weather?
Changes in elevation can be subtle or dramatic, but often a slight increase in elevation can mean big changes in travel and trail conditions. The weather may be tranquil in the valley areas, while motorists are being stranded in areas like Clines Corners, Tijeras Canyon, the Continental Divide, Raton Pass, or near Ruidoso. On the less traveled highways, there are numerous and often remote spots where motorists may become stranded. Use the 511 phone number and internet traveler information service provided by the New Mexico Department of Transportation for weather-related road conditions and road closures.


Photo by Paula Valentine

Who suffers most?
  • Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms, but statistics show that males and the elderly suffer death and injury most frequently, whether it is accidents related to ice and snow or exposure to the cold.
    • Sudden weather changes also threaten the unprepared hiker, hunter, or cross country skier. You might find yourself in mild and sunny weather at the start of your outdoor adventure then face falling temperatures, wind chill, and cold rain or snow as a storm front moves in quickly.

    • Tragically, alcohol is related to many winter weather deaths and injuries each year in New Mexico due to prolonged exposure to the cold.

    • Prolonged outbreaks of cold weather, especially following heavy snows and ice storms, can create risks at home if utility service is lost or conditions prevent travel for medical care and food. Alternative heat sources may become deadly without fire safeguards or proper ventilation.
hat rules or winter weather skills will help keep me safe?
  • Be prepared. Take action before the first winter storm to winterize automobiles and prepare emergency survival kits. At home, stock up on food, fuels, first-aid an medical items and other supplies such as batteries for flashlights and radios. Don’t forget to check fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

    • Keep up with the latest forecasts and statements from the National Weather Service. Always check the latest forecast before going into mountain areas and don’t leave that radio or portable TV behind which could provide weather forecast updates.


Photo by Seth Bullinton

  • If possible, avoid travel during winter storms. If you must travel immediately before or during a storm, try not to travel alone. Let someone know your travel schedule and routes. If stranded while traveling, it is best to stay with your vehicle. You can be more at risk trying to walk through the storm for help. In some instances, New Mexicans have died trying to go less than 1/2 mile for help. Make your vehicle as visible as possible for easier rescue.  You can periodically run the motor for short periods each hour, but remember to allow fresh air and ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  When hiking, hunting, skiing, or if your job takes you into mountainous areas, know the weather forecast! Take along extra clothes, food or supplies that could save your life.  If stranded overnight, learn survival techniques for shelter and fire making. A fire will provide heat and can attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat. melt snow for drinking water. Do not eat snow! It will lower the body temperature. Eat and drink sufficient amounts of water. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.

    Remember, be prepared in advanced and ready to handle sudden changes during any wintertime travel or outdoor activity.

Around the Home
  • Keep ahead of advancing winter weather by listening to NOAA Weather Radio. 

    • A powerful winter storm will take down power lines knocking out electricity. Check battery powered equipment before the storm arrives.
    • Check your food and stock an extra supply. Include food that requires no cooking in case of power failure. If there are infants or people who need special medication at home, make sure you have a supply of the proper food and medicine. Make sure pets and animals have shelter and a water supply.

Photo by Neal Pederson

  • If appropriate, check your supply of propane. Fuel carriers may not be able to reach you due to closed roads.
  • Be careful when using fireplace, stoves, or space heaters. Proper ventilation is essential to avoid a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. Don’t use charcoal inside as it gives off large amounts of carbon monoxide. Keep flammable material away from space heaters and do not overload electric circuits. Close off any unneeded rooms in the house. Stuff towels or rags under doors. Cover windows at night.

  • Dress for the conditions when outdoors. Wear several layers of light-weight, warm clothing: Layers can be removed to prevent overheating, perspiring and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, waterproof and hooded. For the hands, mittens, snub at the wrists, offer better protection than fingered gloves.

  • Don’t kill yourself shoveling snow. It is extremely hard work for anyone in less than prime physical condition. It can bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death during and after winter storms.
Automobiles
  • Your automobile can be your best friend or worst enemy during winter storms. Get your car winterized before winter arrives. The following items should be checked; ignition system, cooling system, fuel system, battery, lights, tires, heater, brakes, wipers, defroster, oil and exhaust. Keep water out of your fuel tank by keeping it full. 

    • If you travel often during winter, carry a winter storm kit in you car. It should include flashlight, windshield scraper, paper towels, extra clothes, matches/candles, booster cables, compass, maps, sand, chains, blankets and high calorie non-perishable food. 

    • Winter travel by car is serious business. If the storm exceeds or tests your driving ability, seek available shelter immediately. If unable to find shelter, stay in your vehicle. Run the motor ten minutes each hour to maintain warmth, but keep your windows open a little to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide. Make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. keep the car visible with brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna. Exercise periodically in your car by vigorously moving your arms, legs, toes and fingers.
  • Plan your travel. Try not to travel alone and drive in convoy when possible.

  • Drive carefully and defensively. Pump your breaks when trying to stop on snow or ice covered roads. Roads which may appear clear in the wintertime may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice, commonly called black ice. This thin layer of can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Reduce your speed if you detect black.

     

 

Photo by Brent Wachter

Winter Safety for Schools
  • Children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather. Their youthful enthusiasm often takes over when common sense should prevail.

    • School administrators and principals need to be sensitive to the dangers winter weather can pose to children and be prepared. Winter weather procedures and practices need to be established before the onset of winter cold. The following items should be considered when formulating a winter weather safety plan:

    •  All schools should have ready access to current weather information. If the school is in a county covered by NOAA Weather Radio, that would be the best source. Commercial media can also be monitored. Arrangements can also be made with local law enforcement agencies to have critical winter weather forecasts relayed to the school.

    • All schools need to have a functional plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold.
    • During the winter months, guidelines need to be established regarding outside recess. Temperatures and wind chills need to be monitored and criteria set as to when outside recess will be allowed.

    • School bus drivers should receive extra training on driving during winter weather. Snow and ice can often accumulate quickly and unexpectedly on roads creating dangerous driving conditions.

    • With many households having two working parents today, it may be necessary for some children to be brought to school early. Schools should make provisions to allow children inside school buildings as early as possible during cold weather.

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Albuquerque issues winter weather products with a “Ready-Set-Go” concept. The “Ready” stage is anywhere from 24 to 72 hours before the impending weather event. During this stage, forecasters may highlight expected adverse winter weather conditions.

 
Winter Storm Watch: A watch is issued to give advance notice when a significant winter storm may affect your area within 12 to 48 hours.  This would include any combination of significant snow or sleet accumulation, significant ice accretion, strong winds, extreme cold, low wind chills, or low visibilities in snow or blowing snow. A winter storm watch is issued when there is at least a 50/50 chance that warning criteria will be met.  Usually the winter storm watch will be upgraded to a warning when the nature and location of the weather event become more apparent. In any case, when a watch is issued for your area, it is time to prepare for severe winter weather.
 
Winter Weather Advisory: When a combination of snow, blowing snow, sleet, freezing rain or freezing drizzle is expected to cause localized disruption of travel and result in a significant inconvenience, a winter weather advisory will be issued.  A winter weather advisory can address multiple winter weather hazards.
 
Winter Storm Warning: When conditions that can quickly become life threatening and are more serious than an inconvenience are  imminent or already occurring, a winter storm warning will be issued.  Heavy snows, or a combination of snow, freezing rain or extreme wind chill due to strong wind, may bring widespread or lengthy road closures and hazardous travel conditions, plus threaten temporary loss of community services such as power and water. Deep snow and additional strong wind chill or frostbite may be a threat to even the well dressed individual or to even the strongest person exposed to the frigid weather for only a short period.


Photo by David Thornburg

 Other winter weather products: Blizzard Warning: The most dangerous of all winter storms is the blizzard. In New Mexico,  the northeast highlands and northeast plains are the most blizzard-prone areas where the deadly combination of fierce winds and snow can reduce visibility to near zero and create wind chills well below zero. A blizzard warning is issued when winds of 35 miles an hour will occur in combination with considerable falling and/or blowing snow for at least 3 hours. Visibilities will frequently be reduced to less than 1/4 mile and temperatures are usually 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Ice Storm Warning: A dangerous coating of ice, usually 1/4 inch or more. Ice storms are rare if not unheard of west of the Rio Grande Valley.  However, across eastern New Mexico  a mixture of freezing drizzle,  freezing rain and light snow is not uncommon whenever arctic air masses invade the plains.  In most cases, ice accumulations are less than 1/4 inch and a winter weather advisory is issued.


Photo by Ginger Brick

 Wind Chill Warning: Issued when the wind chill temperatures at or colder than minus 50 degrees F.  At this level, frostbite can occur on exposed flesh within minutes.   As the wind chill temperature drops, the frostbite time decreases, especially with higher wind speeds. Note: Strong winds, usually blowing from the northwest or north, often develop in the wake of winter storms that cross New Mexico.  This is especially true along the east slopes of the Central Mountain Chain and high plains of central and northeast New Mexico. These strong and gusty winds can persist hours after the precipitation has ended creating areas of reduced visibilities in blowing snow. Now that we’ve covered all of the details, the important thing to understand about watches, warnings, and advisories, is that:

  • a WATCH means it’s time to get ready,
  • an ADVISORY means inconvenience,
  • and a WARNING means the situation is life-threatening.

How much snow can we expect at sites in New Mexico in an average year? Frequency of Snow Events Across New Mexico

 

> 1 inch snow in the last:

> 2 inches snow in the last:

> 3 inches snow in the last:

> 4 inches snow in the last:

Location

10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

ABQ Sunport

16

46

83

8

24

44

6

11

17

5

6

11

ABQ Foothills

78

NA

NA

36

NA

NA

20

NA

NA

9

NA

NA

ABQ Valley

15

NA

NA

9

NA

NA

8

NA

NA

5

NA

NA

Chama

206

408

651

145

286

464

94

196

320

58

135

220

Deming

2

9

19

2

6

14

0

1

6

0

1

5

Tucumcari

56

96

147

33

54

85

19

34

52

13

25

35

Clovis

29

61

98

18

35

63

11

21

39

9

15

21

Roswell

18

32

71

11

18

44

9

13

26

6

8

14

Hobbs

0

7

31

0

3

21

0

1

17

0

0

9

Des Moines

118

NA

NA

69

NA

NA

39

NA

NA

32

NA

NA

Ruidoso

72

117

178

51

85

127

33

53

85

21

34

54

 

Information provided by Kerry Jones from the Albq National Weather Service and

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=prepwinterwxawareness

I’m on vacation this week so all blog posts this week come to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald@plateautel.com



Safe Winter Driving

Safe Winter Driving

As winter weather creates poor driving conditions, improved visibility on the road is an important factor to enhance driver safety.

Poor visibility, especially at night, is a serious driving hazard. According to the National Safety Council, poor visibility is cited as a factor in an estimated 2 million accidents, 23,000 fatal crashes and 2,300 pedestrian deaths every year in the United States.

Automotive headlights are key part of safe winter driving; they provide lighting for better peripheral vision and viewing of the road ahead. Preparing your vehicle for winter is critical for safe driving throughout the season. It’s important to make sure headlights are a part of seasonal maintenance.

For drivers of any age, follow these National Safety Council recommended tips to help maintain safety and improve visibility on the road this winter:

  • Winterize your vehicle – Change the engine lubricant to synthetic oil, change to winter wiper blades, flush your cooling system with fresh coolant/antifreeze, fill the washer fluid reservoir with de-icier washer fluid and carry an emergency safety kit. See the below list for some of your vehicle preparation winter safety checks:

    Vehicle Preparation

    Winter time is the harshest season for vehicles. Prepare your vehicle for winter by scheduling a  complete maintenance check in the fall.

    Battery: Cold weather starts require a battery that is fully charged. Recharge or replace weak batteries. Have your charging system checked, too.

    Ignition system: Damaged ignition wires or a cracked distributor cap may cause a sudden breakdown.

    Lights: Regularly check that all lights are functioning properly and that headlights are properly aimed.

    Brakes: Brakes should be checked and, if needed, serviced to ensure even braking.

    Tires: The traction between the tires and the road surface determines how well your vehicle starts, turns and stops. Make certain your snow tires or all-season radials are properly inflated and in good condition. Ensure all four tires have the same tread pattern for even traction.

    Exhaust system: Have the exhaust system fully checked for leaks that could send carbon monoxide into your vehicle.

    Heating and cooling system: Check your radiator and hoses for cracks and leaks. Make sure the radiator cap, water pump and thermostat work properly. Test the strength of the anti-freeze, and test the functioning of the heater and defroster.

  • Windshield: Make sure wipers are in good condition and fill up on winter washer fluid.


  • Drive with your lights on – If daytime visibility is limited, turn on your headlights to be seen by other drivers. When traveling in snowy weather, remember to brush off your taillights, turn signals and headlamps.
  • Change headlights in pairs before they burn out – Most headlights dim up to 20 percent over time so evaluate yours every year for optimum performance. The end of daylight savings time is a perfect yearly reminder to check them.
  • Upgrade to high performance halogen lighting – Studies have shown that whiter, brighter halogen lighting can improve reaction time, increase nighttime visibility and provide better roadside viewing.
  • Clear your windows- Make sure you windows are defrosted and clear of snow and ice before you venture out on the roadways.

  • Check headlight alignment – Misaligned headlights can be distracting and dangerous. Ask your auto service technician to align them for you.
  • Clean headlight lenses regularly – Wash headlight lenses when you wash your windshield. You’ll see better at night and in poor weather conditions.
  • Make sure all vehicle lights are working – Have a friend turn on your headlights and signal lights while you walk around the outside of your vehicle.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly – Whether you park inside or outside, you will lose a pound of tire pressure for every 10 degrees of outside temperature change.
  • Adjust your speed – By decreasing your speed, you allow yourself more time to respond in bad weather.

  • Brake carefully – When roads are slippery, brake in a straight line before a curve in the road. Lift your foot from the brake before you steer into a corner. This allows you to steer and not slide through the corner. Don’t accelerate away from the corner until the steering wheel is again straight.

  • Winter Car Survival Kit items:

     Shovel

     Sand, salt or kitty litter

     Tow chain

     Compass

     Cloth or roll of paper towels

     Warning light or road flares

     Extra clothing and footwear

     Emergency food pack

     Booster cables

     Knife

     Plateau Cell phone w/battery charger

     Ice scraper and brush

     Water-proof matches or lighter(Save a small baggy of dryer lint it makes a great fire starter)

     Road maps

     A ‘survival’ candle in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light)

     Methyl hydrate (for fuel line and windshield de -icing)

    The following items should be kept in the cab of your truck or car:

     Flashlight with extra batteries

     First-aid kit

     Blanket (special ‘survival’ blankets are best)/sleeping bags

     Non-perishable, high energy foods(nuts, peanut butter, etc….)

     Water

    Prevent Your Car Skidding – How To Cope with A Skid

     

    Skidding is more likely to occur when there is ice, snow or water on the road. However it is important to remember that most skidding is a result of bad driving. A car will only skid if it is being driven at an inappropriate speed or if provoked to do so by aggressive steering, braking or acceleration.

    To prevent skidding you should never ask your car to do more than it can do with the grip available. As a result, in poor weather conditions you should:

    • Slow down


    • Increase your stopping distance, so if the vehicle in front stops unexpectedly you have enough space to brake to a stop without skidding.

    • Take extra care when approaching a bend.

    • Be gentle and progressive when steering, accelerating and braking.

    Your car is more likely to skid when the road is icy or covered in snow. In such conditions to avoid skidding you should slow right down. You should also steer and brake very gently. Your stopping distance should also be increased by up to ten times greater than in normal conditions.

    When driving in winter, and especially on a winters evening when the sky is clear you should look out for ice forming on the road. For early warning signs look to see if ice is forming on the windows of parked cars.

    You should be extra careful when travelling on an exposed road such as a motorway bridge. Ice will often form here first. If your car has an outside temperature meter then keep a close eye on it.

    In freezing conditions beware of rain. This can form black ice, which lies invisible on the road. Black ice isn’t actually black it is transparent. Hence it’s notoriety as a driver hazard.

    In icy conditions your steering may start to feel lighter. Tire noise may also decrease. If this happens then you are likely to be driving on ice. To prevent a dangerous skid lift your foot gently off the accelerator. This will allow your car to slow smoothly and gently. If you need to continue driving then do so slowly using a high gear. This will help you avoid hard acceleration, which could spin the wheels.

    Accelerating too hard can also cause skidding. If you accelerate too hard when moving off on a slippery road then the driven wheels will spin without propelling the car forward. In icy conditions some wheel spin may be inevitable. To minimize the spin try engaging a higher gear.

    Braking hard on a slippery road can also cause your car to skid. Your wheels can lock up and you will continue onwards with little or no braking effect. The locked wheels will also prevent you from steering. If this happens you should release the brake pedal to free the wheels then reapply the brake less harshly. If your car has ABS fitted then your wheels won’t lock. However don’t think ABS eases all problems when driving on a slippery road. It doesn’t.

    On a slippery road if you approach a corner too quickly there is a good possibility that your car will skid. This is even more likely if you also brake harshly whilst taking the corner. You turn the steering wheel to corner but there is no response and the car continues on ahead. This is a classic front wheel skid. If this happens then remove your foot from the accelerator. This throws the weight balance of the car forwards and helps the tires find grip. Do not use the brake. As the tires find grip carefully steer the car into the direction of the skid. For example if the rear of the car skids to the left, steer quickly and smoothly to the left.

    If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

If You Become Stranded…

  • Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.

  • If you are sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.

  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.

  • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.

  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

Lastly, if you do travel find out the weather conditions of the interstates and roads you will be traveling on. You can call for NM Road Conditions call 1-800-432-4269, CO Road Conditions 1-303-639-1111 or TX Road Conditions call 1-800-452-9292.

Don’t be a traffic accident, hazard, statistic or fatality this holiday season. Take a few extra minutes enjoy the drive, be defensive and arrive safely to celebrate this holiday season.


I’m on vacation this week so the blog posts this week comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald@plateautel.com