Winter Weather Survival tips from the Coconino County Sheriff's Office
FLAGSTAFF-According to recent news reports, James Kim, a 35-year old father and husband, was found dead in the Oregon wilderness wearing only street clothes. It had been more than a week since Kim and his family had begun the drive home after a vacation in Oregon. Kim took a wrong turn and found himself stranded in snow and lost with his wife and young daughters on one of Oregon's treacherous back roads, which was rarely plowed during the winter. After nine days, Kim left his family to seek help, promising to return if he did not find anyone.
In light of this terrible tragedy Sheriff Bill Pribil and the men and women of the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and Coconino County Search and Rescue would like to remind Northern Arizona Community Members of some basic winter weather survival tips.
When planning an out-of-town or out-of-state trip, inform friends or relatives of your intended route, destination and estimated travel and arrival times.
Assemble a Vehicle Disaster Supplies Kit Containing: first aid kit and essential medications; battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries; canned food and can opener. bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days); extra warm clothing, including boots, gloves and a hat; have your car winterized before winter season; fill your fuel tank whenever possible; carry a cellular phone with extra batteries and signaling devices such as a mirror, road flares and brightly colored flags that are visible from the air; properly fitting tire chains; jumper cables; plastic bags; wooden matches (sealed in waterproof container) duct tape; snack food (high calorie, non-perishable); paper towels; an empty can with cover and tissues for sanitary purpose; a sack of sand (or kitty litter) for traction; basic tool kit; tow rope; compass and or GPS; road maps; snow scraper.
Stay tuned for storm warnings by listening to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area. A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area. A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately! Be alert to changing weather conditions. Avoid unnecessary travel.
If You Do Get Stuck: stay with your car. It provides excellent temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to find you. Do not try to walk to safety.
Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see. Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm. Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in fresh air. Don't overexert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.