By Franklin Fisher (USAG Red Cloud Public Affairs)December 27, 2015
CAMP RED CLOUD -- Should a big snowfall hit Warrior Country this winter, Area I's salt-and-sand trucks, snow plows, and bucket loaders are ready to rev into action to get the roads safe and clear early on.
And meanwhile, Area I officials are reminding the Warrior Country community that because of the snow and ice hazards a storm can bring, good winter safety practices -- at home, at work and on the roads -- should be a day-to-day focus.
Clearing roads and other key on-post areas would be mainly the job of the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I's Directorate of Public Works.
"We like to hit the roads before the snow gets heavy, and get the salt down," said Marshall D. Downs, DPW's Operations and Maintenance chief.
Snow removal teams would fan out across Area I's installations, including those of the Casey Enclave in Dongducheon -- Camp Casey, Camp Hovey; and the Camp Red Cloud enclave in Uijeongbu -- Camp Red Cloud, Camp Stanley and Camp Jackson.
There's been no big snowstorm this winter so far, but Area I's bigger snowfalls typically hit in January and February, said Senior Airman Cedric Cortinas, a weather forecaster with Detachment 1 of the U.S. Air Force's 607th Weather Squadron at Camp Red Cloud.
Typically, January brings to Area I on average about six inches of snow and about an inch of rain, with the average high temperature of 34 degrees and average low of 16.
"January is typically the coldest month of the year for us," Cortinas said.
February in Area I brings, on average, about 3.6 inches of snow and about an inch of rain, with the temperatures on average at a high of 40 degrees and low of 22.
A big snow storm would trigger a robust response, said Downs.
Rolling out of DPW's equipment yards would be dozens of snow-removal vehicles including 15-ton and eight-ton salt-and-sand spreaders, graders, and bucket loaders, among other types.
"And we have 30 to 50 people that move out with that equipment -- mechanics, operators and just straight-up shovelers," Downs said.
When DPW gets official word that a big storm's a sure thing, they go hot.
Depending on the time the snow's expected to start, they may hold crews past normal close of business, said Downs. Other workers are called in from home.
"Once they get there they start collecting their tools, pull out the salt, getting the trucks started," he said.
Trucks can need extra time to be warmed up, depending upon how cold the weather is.
"Sometimes you gotta warm the hydraulics up 30 to 40 minutes to make sure you don't tear stuff up when you take off," Downs said.
"Plus we have to load the salt into the sand-and-salt spreaders, which takes time," he said.
So, he said, "There's probably two hours' worth of prep work before we hit it. That's why we like to come in early and get the snow before it gets heavy, so we can stay ahead of it."
In the response to a big storm, DPW crews first target main roads, school and shuttle bus routes, and roads leading to medical and dental clinics, among others.
Next in priority come such community facilities as Exchanges, child care and USO facilities, Downs said.
But building managers and individual military units also have an important role to play in keeping snow and ice from hampering operations, he said.
Sometime each fall, DPW crews set out salt boxes at key garrison facilities. In each box is a bag of rock salt.
When it snows, building managers are expected to shovel the snow from within their areas of responsibility, including walkways and entrances, and to spread salt to reduce the risk of people slipping.
If the salt runs out it's the responsibility of the building manager to go to the nearest on-post self-help store for a refill, Downs said.
Quick action is the key to beating a snowstorm, said Downs.
"The biggest thing we gotta do is we gotta get right on the snow," Downs said. "If we don't start shoveling the snow right away and cleaning up our footprints, and we wait two days later, it's gonna be ice.
"So, the biggest, safest thing is, when it snows," said Downs, "building managers, get out there with your people, start shoveling and putting the rock salt and the sand down, and get your areas cleaned up."
Military units and others having a tough time clearing a heavy snowfall can phone DPW for help, said Downs.
The number to call is DSN 730-4131.
"Once we finish our priorities and if there's units out there and they're in bad shape and they can't move in their motor pools," said Downs, "that's when we go in there and we spread some salt, sand, whatever is needed to get them back on their feet so they can operate and perform their mission."
But even with a robust snow removal effort, Area I community members still need to guard against winter's hazards, said Yang Chae-ho, safety specialist with the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I Safety Office.
That holds especially for winter driving, he said.
"Because many accidents happen in winter time," said Yang.
Following are tips on keeping safe in winter weather.
• If you have a car and haven't done so already, have it tuned up, check the level of antifreeze, make sure the battery is good, and check your tire tread or put on snow tires.
• Keep emergency gear in your car for everyday trips.
• Avoid driving in snow or ice storms. If you must travel in bad weather, drive slowly. Let someone know what route you're taking and when you plan to arrive so they can alert authorities if you don't get there.
• If your car is parked outside, make sure the exhaust pipe and the area around it are free of snow before you start the car. Snow packed in or around the exhaust pipe can cause high levels of carbon monoxide in the car.
• Don't sit in a parked car with the engine running unless a window is open. Do not let your car run while parked in a garage.
• If your car stalls or gets stuck in snow, light two flares and place one at each end of the car, a safe distance away. Make sure snow has not blocked the exhaust pipe. Then stay in your vehicle and open a window slightly to let in fresh air. Wrap yourself in blankets and run your vehicle's heater for a few minutes every hour to keep warm.
Walking on Snow and Ice
• Footwear with rubber treads or rubber tread overshoes will provide the best traction and stability.
• Walk only on cleared sidewalks if possible.
• If sidewalks are covered by snow or ice, walk along the grassy edges for better traction.
• Maintain balance while you walk by using short steps and keeping hands out of pockets.
• Consciously walk with your body weight forward.
• Anticipate a fall and decide in advance which way you will try to control the fall.
• If you do fall, tuck your arms close to your body with hands over your face and roll with the fall (this will reduce the probability of hand/wrist and arm fractures).
• If you must walk in the street, walk facing the traffic flow and as close to the curb as possible.
• Taking shortcuts through areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible will increase fall risks.
• Wear sunglasses when the sun is bright to reduce reflection/glare from snow.
• Wear brightly colored (or reflective) clothing when walking near a roadway at night.
• When entering buildings, remove snow and water from footwear to prevent wet slippery conditions indoors.
Heating Your Home
• Keep portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Never drape clothing over a space heater to dry.
• Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Never leave children in a room alone when a space heater is in use.
• Never use your range or oven to heat your home, even for a short time.