Pre­pare for weather to worsen

First bout of win­ter weather makes for messy travel con­di­tions in Perth County

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER

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.”

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