It looks like Mother Nature finally decided to bring us some Winter conditions. Hopefully you had already prepared yourself, your home, and car for this; after all it is December! If you hadn’t, today’s weather is a great reminder for you to get things done before there are multiple days like this.
PREPARE YOURSELF & HOME
Listen to the weather forecasts as they can provide you with good notice of an approaching storm. Ensure you have easy access to your snow clearing equipment, (shovels and/or snow blower). Ensure that your heat sources at home are working and you have fuel (pellets or wood) on hand, if needed.
Have a plan in place on how you would handle a power outage. Depending on your home, this may affect food preparation and storage, heating sources, and information resources.
PREPARE YOUR CAR
If you haven’t done so already, get your car winterized and have a winter storm kit in it. According to the Pennington County Emergency Management Office the kit should contain:
“sleeping bags or blankets, matches and candles, winter clothing, food, first-aid kit, pocket knife, flashlight and radio with extra batteries for each, a bag of sand and shovel, tire chains and tools, windshield scraper, battery jumper cables, and two coffee cans. Small supplies can be kept in the coffee cans and when you are stranded, one can be used for personal sanitation needs and the other to burn the candles in for heat. When burning a candle, leave a down-wind window slightly open for air circulation and ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen without the victim being aware of it until it’s too late.”
KNOW THE ROAD CONDITIONS BEFORE YOU GO
First and foremost, if you don’t have to go, DON’T! Driving any direction out of the Rapid City area can be dangerous once you are on the plains or in the Black Hills.
If you do have to be driving, be able to see and be seen. Clean snow off all windows, mirrors, lights and reflectors. You can be ticketed if your view is obstructed by snow. know the road conditions.
Check the road conditions before you go. For South Dakota roads, you can visit http://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/ to view road conditions around the state.
For Ellsworth AFB travel, accurate and timely information about road and reporting conditions can be viewed via the official Ellsworth Facebook page or by calling (605) 385-ROAD.
Below is a breakdown of the color coded road conditions for the base from the Ellsworth AFB official web site:
Normal installation speed limits and traffic rules are in effect.
The maximum speed limit for all motor vehicles is 10 mph below the posted speed limit. The speed limit for parking areas is 5 mph. The vehicle will be operated in such a manner that ensures complete control of the vehicle at all times. Vehicle operators are cautioned to remain a safe distance away from snow removal equipment, with the understanding that the snow removal equipment operator may be operating at an increased rate of speed and with visibility limitations.
The maximum speed limit for all motor vehicles is 10 mph on general roadways, and 5 mph in military family housing areas and parking areas. Travel is restricted to essential travel only (i.e. military personnel who have not been instructed to remain away from duty, family members traveling to and from their place of employment, etc.). Persons found to be in violation of this traffic instruction (i.e. recreational driving, non-emergency visitation, etc.) are subject to being cited in accordance with this traffic code, and to points being assessed on their driving record accordingly. Travel during Road Condition Red is at the vehicle operator’s own risk. During Road Condition Red, the vehicle operator assumes all liability for vehicle damage should the vehicle become immovable due to weather or road conditions, such as damage from passing snow removal equipment, damage from exposure to severe weather, or any other damage which may occur.
Bottom line: Being stuck or stranded in a South Dakota winter storm can become a question of survival. It’s serious business and you and your vehicle must be prepared.