Safety advocates urge drivers to prepare for winter

Daily Herald File Photo

Despite there being no snow on the ground on Nov. 1, Parkland Ambulance is reminding everyone to be ready for winter.

Lyle Karasiuk, Director of Public Affairs for Parkland Ambulance explained that once the month changes to November they like to remind people to be prepared, because winter is just around the corner.

“I know that we don’t want to think about snow, but snow is inevitable,” Karasiuk said. “Snow is going to happen in our part of the country sooner rather than later, and that means you should be by now considering winter tires for your vehicle.

“We always start promoting winter safety as soon as we get past Halloween. Obviously, we haven’t had any snow yet except for a few fluttering flakes yesterday in the city. But it is going to snow sooner than later, so let’s get ready now rather than wait.”

Karasiuk said most tire manufacturers recommend that you put on winter tires when temperatures are consistently seven degrees or below.

“So now, while the snow is not on the ground, make an appointment with your local tire shop and get them on because if you wait until the snow flies, you will be stuck in line and be rather upset,” he said.

Karasiuk himself said he was not a fan of winter tires himself until eight years ago when he noticed that they really do make a difference especially when you are braking and turning and trying to keep good traction on a roadway.

“That is what winter tires do they give you that extra added traction. We do it all the time for every one of our vehicles here at Parkland Ambulance and so we recommend that people do that themselves,” Karasiuk said.

Another important aspect of being winter ready is preparing a winter kit with a snow shovel, booster cables, tow rope, candles, boots, a spare winter jacket and other things.

“Some people, like myself, take it out in the spring and store it on the shelf in the garage,” he said. “Bring it back out and put it in for the winter because I just don’t want to have it laying around.”

Karasiuk also reminded everyone to store the winter kit in something secure which is important as people drive more SUVs without a secure trunk or a box like a truck. He suggested storing them in an old hockey bag or large Rubbermaid container.

“If you are ever stopping or braking quickly those items could be projectiles and heaven forbid you don’t want to get hit in the back of the head by a flying shovel,” Karasiuk said.

“Now is the time to get the winter gear out of the garage, or dust it off, or if you haven’t got a winter kit visit one of our local stores and grab some items that you might need to make sure that you have it,”

He also reminded people to add boots, extra blankets and a candle and container to melt snow when we go out traveling. Another item he recommended adding to your kit was high energy snacks like granola bars.

“But often many of us we go get into our vehicles and we have some, let’s say we are going shopping in Saskatoon or visiting friends and family and we don’t think about bringing an extra winter coat or some heavy boots because we are driving, the roads are good, my car works fine. All of a sudden weather changes, car breaks down now what. So we need to make sure we have these winter items and store it safely always for ourselves and for our families,”

Most of these things are common sense but Karasiuk thinks it is often a great idea to remind people.

“We want to remind folks that good common sense practices are going to make a world of difference. You better have the stuff now and then when we start to get into storm weather,” Karasiuk said.

Once there is lots of snow on the ground they will switch gears to talking about being safe in vehicles he explained.

According to SGI, nearly half of all crashes on Saskatchewan roads happen at intersections. To help reduce those numbers, SGI teamed up with the Saskatchewan Safety Council (SSC) and law enforcement agencies to put the focus on intersections safety during winter.

“Ice and snowy conditions are a part of driving in Saskatchewan during the winter,” (SSC) Skid Smart Driver Instructor Al Gall said in a media release. “We want to show drivers the situations that can cause skids and teach the kind of skills you need to get your car back under control.”

Gall urged drivers to be patient and avoid rushing to get through a yellow light. He also urged drivers to keep their headlights and taillights clear of snow, and to accelerate and break gently to avoid sliding on slippery roads.

“Driving on ice and snow isn’t easy, but drivers adjust to driving on Saskatchewan roads every year,” Auto Fund CEO Penny McCune said. “We’re challenging drivers to put in a bit more effort early on this winter to prevent collisions as a result of slick road conditions.”