Mineral County SAR gives tips on winter preparedness


MINERAL COUNTY — Mineral County Search and Rescue Director Terry Wetherill looks out his window as he considers the coming winter and what it may mean for the team.

“As I am thinking about this article the first snowstorm of the season looms with an anticipated foot of snow possible on Wolf Creek Pass which leads me to wonder how many of us are ready for winter travel and winter recreation," Wetherill said. "I learned some time ago a person who is properly prepared for an emergency can end up just having a difficult camping experience instead of a life-or-death situation.”

Wetherill is a seasoned Colorado local who deals with the repercussions of non-preparedness in the wintertime and for that matter, throughout the year. Colorado, unlike other states, can be difficult to navigate in the wintertime and those who are new to the area should consider some of his tips and tricks to stay safe either just while out on icy roads or heading to the backcountry to recreate in the snow.

“The cold weather makes small issues become big problems. To verify your vehicles are ready for winter, inspect the battery and inspect and clean connections, if necessary," Wetherill said. "Have the anti-freeze tested. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water should equate to about minus-35 F° before it starts to freeze which is adequate for Mineral County. Keep your fuel tank above ½ full. This will be very important to you if you slide off the road and need to wait an extended amount of time for help to arrive. You will only need to crack a window and ensure your exhaust is clear of snow while running your vehicle to stay warm.”

In times of emergency, especially during winter, it is important to carry extra supplies such as blankets, water and warm clothes. Snowstorms can come on suddenly at high altitudes and mountain passes. Being prepared before heading out on the road can save a life or those of others.

“Equipment to always keep in your vehicle should consist of a snow shovel, chains, ice scraper, jumper cables, coat, gloves, blanket, flashlight, water, food and multiple ways to start a fire,” explained Wetherill.

When considering traveling into the backcountry to recreate in the winter Wetherill suggests these tips before heading out.

“Before traveling and getting into the backcountry, check the weather and avalanche forecast," he said. "Let a responsible party know your expected travel plans and the best method to get ahold of you. Ensure your phone is fully charged and you know how to determine your GPS coordinates on your phone.”

There are many beautiful places to see around the San Luis Valley and Mineral County during the winter but always remember to be prepared when leaving a vehicle and heading out for an extended period of time.

“Anytime you depart your vehicle to explore in the backcountry it’s vital to have a hat, coat, gloves, emergency blanket, flashlight, water, food and multiple ways to start a fire and a fully charged phone," Wetherill said. "Hypothermia and dehydration can set in quick if you are not prepared. Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list but it’s certainly representing the minimum preparations you will want to do, to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience this winter in Mineral County.”

Below are some helpful links with good information on winter preparedness provided by Wetherill:

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