So far, we’ve enjoyed a relatively mild winter. However, this week’s snow, along with the school delays and closures, served as a strong reminder that we are still in the thick of it, with two months to go before spring. Many thanks to our Orange County Department of Public Works staff, as well as municipal public works departments around the County, for working swiftly to get our roads and highways cleared as quickly as possible so that residents could once again travel them safely. Theirs is a huge job – I urge you to give public works employees appropriate space and clearance when you see them plowing the roadways.
For your safety, and that of our employees, Orange County Commissioner of Public Works Charles Lee and I would like to share some safety tips for driving in ice and snow this winter. The most important piece of advice when it comes to driving in bad winter weather is - don’t do it. If you can avoid going out until the roads are clear, please do so, for your own safety and that of our plow operators.
If you must drive in snowy conditions, allow yourself extra time to get where you’re going. Try to wait until the snow plows and sanding trucks have made a pass through. Make sure that you, and your car, are prepared and that you know how to properly handle your vehicle for the road conditions. Consider these tips for driving safely on icy roads:
• Decrease speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.
• Brake gently to avoid skidding.
• Turn on lights to increase your visibility.
• Keep your lights and windshield clean.
• Use low gears to maintain traction, especially on hills.
• Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first.
• Do not pass plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and the road in front of them is likely worse than it is behind.
• Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
Before heading out, be sure you have a full tank of gas and fresh anti-freeze. Other recommended equipment to ensure you’re prepared in the event of an emergency include a properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack, shovel, jumper cables, tow and tire chains, salt or cat litter, and a tool kit.
Take time as well to prepare a "survival kit" to keep in your car. Be sure to replenish it if you have to use any of the supplies and refresh it before the start of each winter. Essential supplies for your kit should include a flashlight and extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, windshield cleaner, ice scraper and snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, scissors and string/cord, non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruit and hard candy, and blankets, as well as socks, mittens, and a hat.
Hopefully, you’ll never need any of these supplies, but when it comes to winter driving it’s best to be prepared.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.