By Cpl Jacob JOSLIN, Valemount RCMP

Robson Valley first responders headed to the Tete Jeune Cache area on October 1st to spread the word on “Shift into Winter”. /SUBMITTED BY RCMP

Robson Valley first responders headed to the Tete Jaune Cache area on October 1st to spread the word on “Shift into Winter.”  The annual road safety campaign aims to remind drivers of the need to switch to winter tires and driving to the conditions now that temperatures have dropped.  Representatives from Lakes District Maintenance, Robson Valley RCMP, Valemount and District Volunteer Fire Department, BC Ambulance Service, and Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement spoke with drivers and handed out information packages.  On our local highways winter tires are required from October 1st to April 30 each year.  “All Season” or tires marked with a “M+S” are also allowed, although actual winter tires are preferred for stopping and handling of vehicles in snow and ice.  In all cases, a winter tire must be in good condition, with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm (5/32”).  “We are trying to keep people out of the ditches this year, and prevent the serious collisions that we get every year on our winter roads,” said Corporal Jake Joslin of the Valemount RCMP.

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Winter Car Care Tips

Winter car care should start in the fall, giving you plenty of time to prepare for the snow hits the ground. Here are a few suggestions to get your car ready for the winter months:

  • Test your battery, fully charged automotive batteries should measure at 12.6 volts or above. When the engine is running, this measurement should be 13.7 to 14.7 volts. CAA memberships offer a battery service that will come test, replace, and recycle your battery.
  • If the temperarure drops below -15°C consider using a block heater.  This reduces stress on your vehicle’s engine and heats up the cabin quicker.
  • Use winter tires
  • Take your car in for a checkup, especially if you plan on taking long road-trips.
  • Top up your windshield washer fluid and carry extra in your car.  Make sure it is rated for -40°C.
  • Check your vehicle’s manual to ensure you are adhering to the winter maintenance recommendations.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.  This helps prevent your gas line from freezing and allows you to run your car for short periods for warmth if you ever get stuck.

Tips If You Get Stuck

  • Call CAA or your roadside service
  • Stay with your car.  It’s safer than standing at the side of the road and makes it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Use common sense and assess if your vehicle is in a dangerous position and you are in more danger in your car. Ex. Hidden behind a bend, in traffic, poorly visible, etc.
  • Use your hazards.
  • Run the engine for long enough to keep the car from getting too cold.  Ensure the tail pipe isn’t blocked with snow or ice and check the exhaust system for leaks to prevent carbon monoxide from leaking into the car.
  • To get fresh air crack a window on the side of the car away from the wind.
  • Don’t over exert yourself by trying to push your car out.
  • Moving your arms and legs and deep breathing occasionally helps with circulation.

What to pack in an emergency kit?

Here is a list of items we recommend including in your emergency kit:

  • Flashlight (preferably crank-type, because batteries don’t last long in extreme cold)
  • Reflective safety triangles or flares
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Snow brush and scraper
  • Traction aids
  • Small shovel with long handle
  • Bag of abrasive material: sand, kitty litter (avoid road salt, which can cause your vehicle to rust)
  • Plenty of windshield washer fluid
  • Booster cables
  • Gas-line antifreeze
  • Lock de-icer (in extreme cold, keep it with you, rather than in your vehicle!)
  • Paper towels
  • Small tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, etc.)
  • Extra fuses (for the vehicle’s electrical system)
  • Warm blanket
  • Extra socks, boots and gloves
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Bottles of water
  • Granola bars