Corianne Nielson and Patrick Donaghy
Special to the Gazette
Living on the North Island brings inescapable challenges along with the many benefits we enjoy. Most of these challenges can be summed up as being isolation- and weather-based. With a few simple actions, though, risks can be mitigated for both you and your family.
When driving on our highways, it is vital you respect the weather and its impact on road conditions.
Always be aware that portions of the driving surface get greater wear and tear, leaving noticeable ruts that collect water creating hydro-planing risks. If water is collecting on the road, slow down and try and favour drier portions to maximize tire traction. Avoid the use of cruise control during wet or slushy road conditions as it could cause your vehicle to veer off the highway should some tires have traction while others slip on a watery surface.
Other safety practices are as follows:
• Check in with someone prior to driving along extended isolated portions of the highway and again when you have completed that section. If something goes wrong it is good to have someone know where you are.
• Always be extra cautious driving in the morning, as black ice often forms in the early hours. That said, black ice can occur at any time of the day.
• Keep track of where you are on your route. If you come across an emergency, giving a detailed reference for the location (such as road intersections, kilometre marker, point of interest, etc.) will speed up emergency response time.
• Check the DriveBC website (www.drivebc.ca) for the latest road condition information. If you see any hazard on Highway 19, report it to EMCON at 1-800-550-4997.
• Always carry an emergency kit in your car, including blankets to keep you warm should be you become stranded.
• Ministry of Transportation recommends carrying chains during the winter when driving between Port McNeill and Campbell River unless you have winter tires. ALL-SEASON TIRES ARE NOT WINTER TIRES.
Regarding the occasional power failures, some good practices are as follows:
• Always turn off you stove or oven. When the power returns, you may not be home to notice if something is burning in the kitchen.
• Never plug a generator into a regular household electrical outlet as it could charge an outside line that a BC Hydro worker is repairing.
• Never run a gas powered generator inside of your home as toxic combustion gasses could endanger your family
• Turn your front door light on as it will signal to BC Hydro workers whether they have restored power to your home.
If you have any other questions, check out the following websites:
• BC Hydro under power outages
• Ministry of Transportation website “Seasonal Driving Tips” which is located via the Highway Travellers link;
• DriveBC website
Have a safe winter!
Cori Nielson is the regional coordinator of the Provincial Emergency Program. Patrick Donaghy is operations manager for the Regional District of Mount Waddington.