Winter Weather Safety
Stay warm, stay calm, and most importantly, stay safe
The Pacific Northwest is no stranger to ice and snow. In Happy Valley specifically, we usually get at least a taste of the cold and icy weather, but storms run the gamut when it comes to their tenacity and duration. Regardless, it’s always best to be prepared and know what to do should snow and ice cause disruption. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind.
Stay informed and be prepared. If a winter storm is predicted, please be sure to stock up on home essentials, medications, pet food and any additional necessities that you may need throughout the duration of the storm. Having your home properly stocked ensures that you can stay home and avoid winter driving.
Ensure your vehicle is prepared for emergencies. If the need arises to leave home during a storm, be sure to have equipment for any situation. Always carry a cell phone and portable charger, windshield scraper, collapsible shovel, warm shoes with traction, emergency flares, traction devices, a bag of road salt or sand, rope or chain, booster cables, flashlight, blankets, water and snack food, extra hats, coats and gloves.
Install tire chains. It’s important to learn how to mount your chains BEFORE bad weather strikes, and it’s a lot easier to put chains on for the first time when you don’t have to struggle to read the instructions alongside a snowy road. Practice installing your chains at home when the weather is fair. Then, when road conditions require chains, you’ll already know how to use them.
Check your tires. Don’t wait until it’s too late, experts agree they are the single most important safety item on our car. Checking to see if tires are too worn is simple. The bare minimum for your treads should be 2/32nds of an inch, which you can measure with a penny. Tire treads should at least come up to the imprint of Abraham Lincoln’s head.
Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on roads covered with ice and snow.
Give yourself enough time and give yourself enough space. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
Clear off and turn on your headlights, even in the middle of the day. They make it much easier for other drivers to see you, particularly when visibility is poor.
Allow snow plows enough room to do their jobs safely. Don’t follow too closely behind and please don’t pass a snowplow. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
If you must abandon your car during a storm, please pull as far off the road as possible to allow for snowplows and emergency vehicles to pass.
Helping to keep you safe
The City’s Public Works and Public Safety teams often work 24/7 to keep established snow routes plowed and sanded. The City of Happy Valley has developed a Snow Removal Priority System due to specialized equipment needs, timing, and employee resources. These priorities were established to provide the greatest benefit to the traveling public. The priority is to clear the roadways most used by emergency responders. This means clearing high traffic, high volume roadways. Next, the city crews will focus on collector roads, which distribute traffic between local roads and first priority roads. Last, and not always a guarantee, are local and residential roads.
The map of snow removal and plow routes can be found at www.happyvalleyor.gov/inclementweather.
What is the best way to stay notified? The City’s Facebook page and website are great resources for staying updated with current information regarding bad weather and local road closures. If you haven’t signed up to receive City alerts yet, please take a moment to do so on the City website at www.happyvalleyor.gov.
As a city, we try our best to predict what the weather will do, and plan accordingly. Sometimes we are spot on and other times we choose to error on the side of caution. In either case, it’s not always an easy decision, and safety remains the top priority. The best advice for ensuring your safety during a winter storm is to plan, stay informed, and keep off the roads if you can avoid it.