Every year, 11,000 people suffer injury from snow shoveling alone. With more snow, ice and colder temperatures comes a higher risk for drivers, pedestrians and pets. The Four Corners region has unique conditions that can increase certain risks. The Local News Network with the help of Visit Durango has gathered some tips to keep you safe, from the high desert to the high alpine. By Connor Shreve This story is sponsored by Tafoya Barrett & Associates and Happy Pappy’s Pizza & Wings
Many of us who call the Four Corners home enjoy playing in this winter wonderland. But the area has a unique set of conditions that can make for dangerous winter conditions. Simply being aware and using caution can help keep you and your family safe this winter. You're watching the "Local News Network," brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates, and Happy Pappy's Pizza and Wings. I'm Connor Shreve. Our area spans a wide variety of elevations, temperatures, conditions, and of course, lots of sun, which can create rapidly changing conditions on the road. Driving more conservatively can help increase your margin of error in the event of a slide. It is also important to be ready for a scenario in which you get stuck.
If you have four-wheel drive, I suggest you use it. The conditions can change drastically throughout the Four Corners region. So it's good to always be prepared for when a snowstorm might hit. Also, it's good to have an emergency kit in your car. That includes like a blanket, some snacks, a bag of sand if you do get stuck, or maybe some snow melt is also super helpful, and even a shovel.
Something that often gets overlooked in a winter driving checklist is tire pressure. PSI decreases with the temperature. Keep in mind, tire pressure is intended to be measured cold, meaning the tire is the same temp as the outside air. Generally, 30 to 35 PSI is ideal for winter, though some manufacturer's owner's manuals recommend operating winter tires three to five pounds higher than their recommended pressures for summer and all-season tires. If you're measuring in a warm garage, the extra PSI can help offset the temperature difference. Outside air temperatures can drop three to five degrees every thousand feet in elevation, meaning that it can be 20 degrees colder at the top of Purgatory as it is in Durango, or even 30 degrees difference at the top of Telluride compared to the temperature in Dolores. Visit Durango communications manager, Rachel Welsh, urges you not to take too much stock in the weather out your window before a day of recreation.
Yeah, so one of the things that's special about living in the high deserts and in the San Juan Mountains is it can be beautiful and sunny, and there can be no snow on the ground. And then you drive for 15 minutes, like say, on your way to Purg, and it will be like a foot of snow. So you never know what's going to happen. Make sure you pack layers, that your car's ready to go and that you're safe out there.
Also, be aware of what you're walking under. As we saw here last season, waves of snowstorms can accumulate on roofs faster than crews can remove it. That increases the risk of a slab slide, which can be deadly when falling from multiple stories, or it can trap a person leading to asphyxia. Never walk under a snow-loaded roof ledge. Our freeze-melt cycle can also make for slippery sidewalk ice. So shovel sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm. Over 11,000 people suffer injuries while shoveling snow every winter. To reduce risk, avoid shoveling to overexertion. Push the snow rather than lift it. And if possible, shovel with a partner. If you use a snowblower, refuel it only once it's off and cooled down. Fuel landing on a hot engine or exhaust might ignite. And finally, keep your pets comfortable. Bring 'em inside during cold winter. A cold car can be just as dangerous as a hot one for dogs and cats. The Humane Society recommends a dry, draft-free enclosure for pets that can't come inside. It should be large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, small enough to hold in the pet's body heat. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with a waterproof material. De-icer irritates their paws, and antifreeze is deadly if ingested. And just like with your car, officials recommend an emergency kit for your home in case of a power outage. Include pets in the plan. Include enough food, water, and medicine to last five days. Stay safe and enjoy your winter adventures from the "Local News Network." For more information about this and other stories, visit durangolocal.news. Thanks for watching this edition of the "Local News Network." I'm Connor Shreve.