Welcoming Wyoming winter wonderland: how to stay safe

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Anyone who has spent much time in Wyoming knows the recent cold nights are a sign of what is to come. Many skiers, snow boarders, sledders and snow plow companies eagerly await their favorite season.

However, for those unfamiliar with the Wyoming winter and those who have grown too complacent with extreme weather, here are a few tips to avoid mishaps this fall and winter.

One daily routine that proves especially dangerous in the cold is driving, said Troy Weaver, 90th Missile Wing traffic safety manager

"Driving on snow and ice is serious business," Weaver said. "Winter storms can strand drivers for hours before help can arrive."

Weaver recommends slowing down, using lower gears and putting extra distance between other vehicles because stopping on snow and ice requires much greater distance than in dry conditions.

He also warns against using cruise control on slippery roads because it becomes difficult to react appropriately. Normally, releasing pressure on the gas pedal and turning into the skid is the safest response.

Drivers of vehicles with anti-lock brake systems should apply firm, steady pressure to stop, Weaver said. In vehicles without ABS, drivers should apply pressure, but release if the breaks lock up before applying pressure again.

Temperature can unknowingly affect road conditions since ice can act differently at different levels of cold, Weaver said.

"At 30 degrees Fahrenheit, ice is twice as slippery as it is at 0 degrees Fahrenheit," Weaver said. "[Ice] forms first and lasts longer on bridges, overpasses and shady areas."

Aside from these techniques driving in the cold, there are more measures to take to ensure safe traveling.

"Let someone know the specific details of your travel plans," Weaver said.

The possibility of being stranded is very real, and informing a contact in advance will help alert authorities where to respond. Preparedness also means having a survival kit and blankets to stay warm in case of being stranded, Weaver said.

In addition to these driving tips, Melissa Fertig, Balfour Beatty Communities community manager, offers the following tips to prepare homes for the winter:

- Disconnect hoses from exterior water spigots.
- Close garage doors when not in use.
- Check your furnace filter. For base residents, they are available at self-help for free!
- Check your heating system is functional now before the weather turns cold.
- Make sure the hose bib or water line to the exterior of the home is turned off.
- Residents of homes without adequate heating or insulation for water pipes can leave a small stream of water running from faucets to prevent pipes from freezing. Residents of new base houses do not need to do this.

"Don't forget -- [base residents] need to keep [their] side walk and driveway clear of snow for the safety of everybody," she said. "You can pick up your 'non-slip mix' at the self-help starting in October."

Base residents who do not feel comfortable performing preventative maintenance on their homes can call the 24-hour BBC maintenance team at 637-6102.

Fertig also said base residents who go on leave for more than three days this winter should stop by the Community Management Office to fill out a temporary vacancy notice to ensure their home is cared for properly.

Winter can be an enjoyable time of the year, but it is much more enjoyable when prudent safety measures are taken.