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The threat of snow and icy roads may be over for now, but road crews are ready.
On Friday, the County road crew was getting ready for the winter storm that was expected to hit the area over the weekend.
"We're putting our salters on, and we've got 300 tons of salt," said County Road Foreman Brian Smothers.
On average, the road crew uses 200 to 300 tons of salt a year, he said.
Because the road department uses salt, Smothers said, it must wait until the weather has hit before they can take action. Routes are broken down into magisterial districts, with main roads being salted first.
"We'll get the hills and curves first," Smothers said. "It takes us about 8 hours to get all the roads."
There are almost 400 miles of road maintained by the county, Smothers said.
City and state road crews are gearing up to fight slick roads as well.
State road crews began pre-treating major roads about two weeks ago, based on weather forecasts. The pre-treatment of a saltwater type treatment referred to as "salt brine" helps to melt snow and ice from the roadway. The "salt brine" also combats snow and ice buildup on driving surfaces.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has nearly 1,000 snowplows and more than 175 additional pieces of equipment to combat snow and ice. In addition, the Cabinet has more than 300 contractors who help to clear state highways during winter weather.
The state salt supply stands at 320,000 tons. More than 27,000 road miles are maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
For those who must travel when the roads are slick, Taylor County Emergency Management Public Information Coordinator Ronnie Dooley suggests motorists always check the local forecast or call 511.
Condition reports on major routes are available by calling 511 or logging onto the 511 travel and traffic information Web site at www.511.ky.gov. Road conditions are described in the following manner:
u Wet Pavement - The roadway is wet. Ice could form as temperatures drop.
u Partly Covered - The roadway is partly covered with snow, slush or ice. Markings may be obscured.
u Mostly Covered - The roadway is mostly covered with snow, slush or ice. Roadway markers may be difficult to see because of packed snow and rutting conditions.
u Completely Covered - The roadway is completely covered with snow, slush or ice and markings are obscured.
u Impassable - Roadway conditions are not suitable for travel unless required by an emergency.
When driving on slick roads, caution is key, Dooley said.
"Drive at a reduced speed and maintain plenty of stopping distance."
This applies to four-wheel drive vehicles as well, Dooley said.
Taylor County Sheriff John Shipp said paying attention to the road is the most important thing. Avoid distractions such as talking on cell phones.
"If you're going down a slick hill, put your vehicle in neutral and use your brake," Shipp said. "Always take more time to stop."
Make sure tires are in good condition and properly inflated, Dooley said. Carry sand or salt and a shovel in case you do get stuck. Sand or salt can provide traction when placed beneath tires.
Carry a blanket, non-perishable food items and a cell phone in case you do get stuck and are stranded for a while.
And always make sure your gas tank is full, Dooley said.
If you get stuck, don't run the vehicle continuously. Start the vehicle periodically to maintain warmth, but leave a window cracked while the engine is running. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.
- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The following winter driving tips are provided by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet:
- Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads if at all possible.
- If you must travel, let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Ask them to notify police if you are late.
- Check and restock the winter emergency supplies in your car before you leave.
- Never pour water on your windshield to remove ice or snow; shattering may occur.
- Never rely on your car to provide sufficient heat; the car may break down. Always dress warmly.
- Always carry clothing appropriate for winter conditions.
- Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed.
- Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
- Replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.
- During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
What to do if you get stranded
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
- Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
- Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets or newspapers.
- Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
- Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let air in. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe; this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
- Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature.
Winter survival kit for your vehicle:
- Cell phone and charger.
- First-aid kit.
- A can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water).
- Windshield scraper.
- Booster cables.
- Road maps.
- Tool kit.
- Paper towels.
- Bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction).
- Tire chains (in areas with heavy snow).
- Collapsible shovel.
- High-calorie canned or dried foods and a can opener.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Canned compressed air with sealant (for emergency tire repair).
- Brightly colored cloth.