Prepare for weather to worsen
First bout of winter weather makes for messy travel conditions in Perth County
Drivers throughout Perth County had to break out their ice scrapers and brush the snow off their cars in the wake of this season’s first bout of winter weather, which hit the region overnight Thursday and early Friday morning.
Although snow squall warnings had been in effect for all of Perth County since Wednesday, and most Ontarians know very well that winter can arrive at any time from the end of October on, a few Perth County drivers were caught unprepared Thursday night as road conditions quickly deteriorated.
“We had a few minor incidents, where vehicles lost control and went into the ditch due to the weather and road conditions, and we had one minor collision,” said Insp. Rob Scott, the detachment commander for the Perth County OPP.
“Nothing serious, but certainly I would encourage everyone to slow down now that the winter’s here. Take your time, ensure you have safety equipment in your vehicles, and I would certainly encourage everybody to have their snow tires put on.”
In fact, given that winter weather has been known to set in as early as the end of the October in this part of the province, Scott suggested drivers, as a rule of thumb, should have their winter tires installed in October every year, regardless of how pleasant the weather may be at the time.
On top of having winter tires, the OPP suggested drivers also keep an ice scraper/snow brush, as well as a well-stocked emergency supply kit containing jumper cables, a first-aid kit, blankets, snacks, a shovel, and a flashlight, in their vehicles at all times.
In addition, Scott recommended drivers ensure their cellphone batteries are fully charged before driving anywhere when there is potential for bad weather.
“Especially if you live in areas that experience a lot of snow – like Perth, Huron County, those areas–make sure you’ve got a blanket in your car, some protein bars, ensure that you have your cellphone charged – but obviously not using it while you’re driving … (Police) have to drive on the same roads, as well, so we may or may not be able to get to you right away, depending on the severity of the snowstorm,” Scott said.
“We had that happen last year where we had to wait for the snow to clear and we had to make other arrangements using our snowmobiles to go and locate people. So it’s really important drivers have their cellphones charged so we can stay in contact with them.”
Whenever there is a possibility of bad weather, the Perth County OPP works closely with Perth County emergency management, municipal roads departments and local tow truck companies to ensure they can respond to calls for service as quickly and as safely as possible.
But the biggest thing drivers can do to keep themselves safe on the roads this winter is to be aware of the potential for changing weather by checking local media and weather outlets, and monitoring road conditions through the Ministry of Transportation’s website (www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/conditions) or by calling 511, before driving anywhere, even if it’s just down the road.
“Prepare prior to the impending snowstorms,” Scott said. “There are lots of resources on www.OPP. ca and other automotive outlets like CAA for winterization of your car. Go see your mechanic to make sure everything’s in working order, and then just use common sense. If the road’s closed, the road’s closed.
“… And if you have to, stay home. Err on the side of caution. We all have jobs to do, but if the weather’s too bad, you should make arrangements with your boss to work from home.”