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Survival Skills

Winter Safety Driving Tips For Icy Roads

Winter Safety Driving Tips For Icy Roads

Winter Driving Safety: This information comes from the La Pine (OR) Rural Fire Protection District. Thanks Chief Supkis, and thanks to all the emergency responders and personnel in South Deschutes County!

Winter weather presents challenges to drivers. Make sure you have a winter survival kit in your car! (SurvivalCommonSense.com photo)

With the season’s first significant snowfall in mid-November, the  LaPine Fire District Fire-Medics responded to five serious motor vehicles accidents in just the first two days, due to winter roads! There were many more slide-offs (fortunately no- injury).

Here are 10 very important winter safety driving tips – starting from the easiest and least costly. Note the first six cost little or nothing and you can start doing them immediately and improve your winter travel greatly!

#1 Slow Down – simple enough, but really – leave earlier and give your self time to deal with the additional hazards of slick roads and others who have not heeded this advice.

#2 Clear off ALL windows of snow and ice – yes, it’s a pain but it’s not going to blow or melt off quickly. Keeping a broom near your parking spot makes the job much more palatable.

#3 Headlights on at all times – This helps others see you so they don’t pull out in front of you.

#4 Adjust your travel time if you can – Fortunately here in Central Oregon the sun can quickly help our DOT folks improve road conditions by mid day. Check the Oregon Department Of Transportation’s road condition website and cameras for the latest.

#5 Add weight (a few sand bags) – this is more for balance rather than for traction. Most vehicles are lighter in the rear, even 4x4s. Balancing weight greatly improves handling and predictability in slick environments. (Think what NASCAR racers do to their vehicles.)

#6 Have winter survival gear in your car (flashlight, snow boots, gloves, hat). Be prepared to walk a mile if you need to.

#7 Sipe your tires – those extra little edges cut into the tread  really help, especially on pack snow and ice. These  are the conditions when vehicles most often loose control.

#8 Tire chains – for traction when going over the passes and in extreme conditions. They also force you to slow down –go figure.

#9 Snow tires on all four wheels – Helps in deeper snow and slush. Put on all four wheels – again for balance, steering, and braking.

#10 Studded tires – Adding studs can help on hard packed snow and ice, especially if it is glazed with water on top.

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Survival Skills

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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