Be careful when traveling by car in Colorado | VailDaily.com
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Be careful when traveling by car in Colorado

Dr. Drew Werner
Vail CO, Colorado

For some, congratulations may be in order after the recent closing of Vail Pass. If you were lucky enough to get stranded on our side of the mountain, it probably left you with an extra day on the slopes and beautiful powder to enjoy with few crowds. On the other hand, many travelers were left unable to get home, stranded for hours in the bitter cold or even overnight in makeshift accommodations.

No matter where you are from, you have probable heard someone say, “If you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes, it will change.” While that is as true here as anywhere, we need to add “or just change your altitude a couple thousand feet!”

Dear Doc,

I just was stuck for five hours getting over Vail Pass. I should feel lucky to make it over safely, but I certainly wasn’t prepared. The weather was nice in Gypsum before I left. Could you write about safely traveling in the mountains?

“Just driving down the road

Dear Driving,

Prevention is one of the most important things for health, safety and piece of mind. Like the Boy Scout in me, “Always be Prepared” is a winning motto. Unfortunately however, common sense is not always common, especially when it comes to our often mundane daily routine. With the help of some excellent advice from our local Eagle Police, Sheriff’s Officers and State Patrol, here are recommendations when traveling by car in Colorado:

– Even for short trips, plan on several hours on the road.

– Carry any medication you may need to take within the next few hours.

– Make sure you have water to drink for everyone you are traveling with.

– Snacks and healthy food are a good idea.

– Keep warm blankets in the car in case you get stuck.

Carry an emergency kit in your care, which should include:

– Some signal device such as a red flag.

– Flares.

– Basic first aid kit (bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, medical tape).

– Ibuprofen and acetaminophen in children and adult doses.

– Keep warm clothes in the car, especially gloves.

– If your trip is more than 20 minutes remember your car can get pretty warm, and you may need to unzip or undress children in car seats who might overheat.

– Sand, a shovel and tow chains or a strap are a good idea.

– A cell phone (fully charged!).

Other wise advice includes:

– Remain with your car unless you can’t be seen from the road.

– If your car engine is running, keep the exhaust clear from snow and other obstructions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

– Remember to slow down, a 4-wheel drive vehicle takes as long to stop as a 2-wheel drive vehicle!

– If you are going away for an extended trip, let the police know so they can keep a watchful eye on your home.

– If you are traveling any distance, let someone know your travel plans and expected arrival time. That way, if you have trouble or are missing someone knows to send help.

– Make sure to turn off your lights so your battery does not run down. It happens to the best of us!

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing many of our truly excellent police officers, sheriffs and state patrol officers. We are very fortunate to have them here working day in and day out. The next time you see them, say thanks for being there for us, hopefully before you need them!

I want to personally wish all of you a safe, healthy and happy 2008!

Please keep your questions coming in! The only bad question is the unanswered one! Let me know what’s on your mind at cschnell@vaildaily.com. Remember your health is your responsibility! Health is our greatest asset and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered, don’t wait, call your doctor.


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