Winter Storm Warning; what to do if you’re stuck in snow, safety kit list

Dots denote affected area at 10:30 a.m. Southern Utah, Nov. 22, 2013 | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News
Dots denote affected area at 10:30 a.m. Southern Utah, Nov. 22, 2013 | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

SOUTHERN UTAH – The National Weather Service has issued a “Winter Storm Warning” for heavy snow in the San Rafael Swell and Southern Utah mountains in effect until 4 a.m. Sunday.

Affected areas – The San Rafael Swell and the Southern Utah mountains, including the cities of Green River, Hanksville, Loa, Panguitch and Bryce Canyon.

Snow accumulations – Generally 6-12 inches of snow in the valleys and mountain valleys, with 20-30 inches along southeast-facing mountains.

Timing – Snow will continue to overspread Southern and southeast Utah today. Snow will be heavy at times and will continue through Saturday. The combination of rising snow levels and the storm tapering off will end impacts late Saturday or Saturday night.

Impacts – Winter driving conditions can be expected, including along U.S. Highway 89 and Interstate 70.

Precautionary/preparedness actions

A winter storm warning means that significant accumulations of snow are expected or occurring.  Driving conditions may be hazardous Use caution. Keep a winter storm survival kit in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

A 2012 incident in Washington County, in which a couple became stuck and stranded in a remote area in the snow with grim consequences, serves as a reminder of the dangers attendant to becoming stuck in inclement weather.

Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather

Stay in your vehicle

  • Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
  • Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
  • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Exercise from time to time, by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
  • Wear a hat, half your body heat loss can be from the head.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
  • Loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers is best, trapped air insulates and layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chills.
  • Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  • Safely removing tires and upholstery from your vehicle and lighting them on fire in a cleared area will create smoke to facilitate your being located.

Supplies recommended to be kept in your vehicle in case of emergencies

  • Cell phone; portable charger and extra batteries
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio, extra batteries
  • Flashlights, extra batteries
  • Snack food
  • Extra hats, coats, mittens, change of clothes
  • Blankets
  • Chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Spare gas
  • Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair)
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster / jumper cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Bright colored flag; help signs
  • Lighter / Matches (waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water)
  • First Aid kit – (Basic First Aid courses are recommended)
  • Spare water
  • Hi-lift jack
  • Spare tire with keys for locking lug nuts
  • Spare keys
  • Shovel
  • Tow strap
  • Tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Trash bags
  • Road maps
  • Compass
  • Towels, paper towels

These recommendations have been assimilated from the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue website, the Center for Disease Control’s emergency winter weather checklist, the U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force’s website on blizzard preparedness. This is a list of suggestions, in no particular order of priority, and should not be presumed exhaustive.

Printable / savable pdf: Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather

For winter road conditions from the Utah Department of Transportation:

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Bob Vosper November 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Perhaps to add to the list of items to have in the vehicle emergency kit would be to have an Amateur Radio. Cell sites might not be available but Ham repeaters might be available.

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