Home » Community » Winter Travel Safety Tips From the Sierra National Forest
Image of a snowy road going through a forest.
Forest Service, County, State and private crews continue to work very hard to mitigate tree hazards across the Forest, as well as address damage from previous storms. Read on for important tips on how to stay safe!

Winter Travel Safety Tips From the Sierra National Forest

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES — With the latest inclement weather inbound to the Sierra National Forest and expanded region, the Forest Service encourages visitors’ and residents to exercise extreme caution when traveling through the Forest.

Image of the United States Forest Service logo.Wind and snow accumulation increases the risk of trees falling, both those that have experienced recent tree mortality as well as green trees. These falling trees can impact roadways, picnic areas, trails and camping spots and parking areas.

The following tips should be followed to enhance the safety and enjoyment of a trip to your National Forest
  • Image of trees in the snow.

    Image by Moni Quayle.

    Keep informed on the latest weather conditions, particularly predictions of strong winds and heavy snow.

  • Consider postponing your trip until conditions have stabilized
  • Carry snow/ice chains and pack a winter survival kit with water, food, blankets, and collapsible shovel.
  • Be mindful of rapidly changing road conditions; washouts can and have occurred on a moment’s notice.
  • Be aware that trees can fall behind you potentially blocking your exit route; research alternate routes that are available.
  • Let family/friends know your travel plans and expected return time. Cell phone coverage is limited across the Forest.
Image of Dean Gould.

Forest Supervisor Dean Gould.

Forest Supervisor Dean Gould states, “Our top priority is the safety of forest visitors, residents, and employees. When traveling on the Forest, please travel at a speed safe for the conditions – you never know what’s around a blind curve; there might be rocks, debris, or a tree in the middle of the road. Until this latest weather system has passed, please limit travel on the Forest to only that which is truly essential.”

Click here for more information regarding the Sierra National Forest. You may also visit them on Facebook.

What to do if trapped in a snowstorm
Image of trees in the snow.

Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer.

Being trapped in a snowstorm can be a terrifying and potentially life-threatening experience. It’s important to know what to do in this situation to increase your chances of survival. Here are some steps to follow if you find yourself trapped in a snowstorm:

Stay Calm and Assess Your Situation
The first thing you need to do is remain calm and assess your situation. Try to determine how much food, water, and warm clothing you have. Look for any shelter nearby, such as a cave or a stand of trees, to protect you from the wind and snow.

Build a Shelter
If you cannot find a shelter, you will need to build one. You can construct a snow shelter by digging a hole in a snowbank or by building a snow cave. Make sure the shelter is well-insulated, and avoid digging too deep as the snow can collapse on you. It’s important to stay dry and warm, so make sure you have a layer of dry clothing or insulation between you and the snow.

Image of a snow-covered road. Start a Fire
If you have matches or a lighter, start a fire. A fire can provide warmth and light, and can also be used to melt snow for drinking water. Make sure you have a good supply of wood or other combustibles, and that you keep the fire contained and under control.

Signal for Help
If you are in a location where rescuers may be looking for you, it’s important to make yourself visible. Use a signal mirror or any other reflective surface to flash sunlight or moonlight in the direction of the rescue team. If you have a whistle, blow it to draw attention to yourself.

Stay Hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Snow can be melted and purified for drinking water. Boiling snow for a few minutes can kill any bacteria that may be present.

Image of a corgi dog in the snow.

Image by Sigmund.

Conserve Your Energy
Surviving in a snowstorm requires a lot of energy, so it’s important to conserve it. Avoid any unnecessary physical activity, and try to stay as warm and comfortable as possible. Huddle together with others if you are with a group to share body heat.

Wait for Help
If you have notified someone of your situation, wait for help to arrive. Rescuers will be looking for you, and they will have the skills and equipment needed to extract you safely from the snowstorm.

In conclusion, being trapped in a snowstorm can be a terrifying and dangerous experience. However, by following these steps, you can increase your chances of survival. Remember to stay calm, assess your situation, build a shelter, start a fire, signal for help, stay hydrated, conserve your energy, and wait for help to arrive. By doing so, you can make it through a snowstorm and return home safely.

Check out this video on what to do if stranded in your car in a snowstorm!

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online