Take precautions for extreme cold weather in Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

Take precautions for extreme cold weather in Yampa Valley

Michael Schrantz

— Temperatures in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday morning could dip as low as negative 25 degrees with the wind chill. On Monday, the air temperature was a bone-chilling 24 degrees below zero.

Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth predicts temperature inversions — where cold air is trapped below warmer air — will persist in the valley into next week, and the National Weather Service forecasts below-zero overnight temperatures into the near future.

With that forecast in mind, Yampa Valley residents should take precautions for cold weather and possible emergency situations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a guide to extreme cold protection. The guide covers emergency supply lists, home and auto maintenance, outdoor safety and health emergencies.

Not only should those who will be exposed to frigid outside temperatures take precautions — such as covering exposed skin and staying well hydrated — but there are proactive measures residents and visitors can take to safeguard their homes and cars.

"The biggest thing you can do is keep up your maintenance to begin with," said Brian "Doc" Small, of Doc's Auto Clinic.

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Drivers with diesel engines should make sure they have an anti-gel fuel additive like Diesel 9•1•1 to reliquify frozen fuel, Small said. Those with gasoline engines would benefit from using a fuel additive every other full tank.

Keeping the gas tank more than a quarter full will help prevent water condensation from forming in the tank.

Make sure all fluids are at the right levels and that antifreeze is full and mixed for temperatures as low as 35 degrees below zero, Small said.

Small also said drivers should warm up their cars for at least five minutes on cold mornings. If your car is parked outside, an engine block heater is an option to ease cold morning starts.

When traveling in winter weather, blankets, a snow shovel and kitty litter are good things to keep in the car, Small said. Kitty litter can be sprinkled on icy or snow-covered roads to provide traction to get out of a tough spot.

Steve Hilley, with Yampa Valley Medical Center, suggests keeping a winter emergency kit in the car.

Hilley recommends the kit include the following:

• Extra winter clothes that can fit over your other clothes

• Snow boots

• Hand/foot warmer packets

• Blankets and/or sleeping bag

• Water stored in metal water bottles (so you can heat it)

• Candles and matches/lighter

• Nonperishable food

• Small shovel

• Flashlights and light sticks

• Batteries

• First aid kit

• Flares

• Portable radio

• Duct tape

A trip as short as 20 minutes can become perilous if the car stalls in negative 20 degree weather, Hilley said Monday.

If planning a longer trip, make sure to have fresh water and snacks, Hilley said, because water stored in the car likely will be frozen. Let friends and family know your itinerary if planning a trip, as well.

Hilley also said to plan ahead if going out in the evening in lightweight, casual clothing by keeping extra, heavier layers in the car.

"Make sure all your family members are prepared," he said, adding to keep cellphones charged and working.

Trevor Guire, a firefighter and EMT with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, recommends people identify where the water shutoff valves are in their homes.

For buildings with sprinkler systems, Guire said, heaters in riser rooms should be checked to make sure they're working.

If pipes are susceptible to freezing, open cabinets to make sure warm air is circulating around them or leave faucets dripping slightly during evenings of especially low temperatures.

"People need to stay warm and safe," Guire said, "and keep heat to those areas of their buildings that have water and services to them."

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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