Safe winter travel tips for the Vail Valley |

Safe winter travel tips for the Vail Valley

Dr. Drew Werner
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The December chill always seems to bring an especially cold blast of air where single digit mornings are relieved only by the Vail Valley’s warm sun and blue skies. I recently received a safe care travel booklet from The United States Air Force Academy. Unlike most of us who might dread waiting out a few cold hours, they are serious about being prepared. In addition to my usual tips, I thought I would include some good ones from them as well.

Dear Doc,

Could you remind people what to bring in their cars during travel in our unpredictable weather?

Driving through the snow!

Dear Driving,

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Staying healthy is something we need to do wherever we are and whenever we travel. Even a short drive can turn into a long journey. Have you ever spent a few hours trying to cross Vail Pass or driving through Glenwood Canyon? It is the unexpected that we need to expect. Even a few hours stranded in a cold car can be a life threatening proposition.

It’s a good idea to keep these items in your car, with the hope that you won’t ever need them.

Safe travel advice tips

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

Carry any medication you may need to take within the next 48 hours.

Make sure you have at least 1 gallon of 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.

Have extra warm clothes in the car, especially gloves and boots.

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

A cell phone (fully charged!) and spare battery charger.

Have an emergency kit, which includes:

• Some signal device such as a red flag

• A heat source such as candles or sterno

• Matches or a lighter

• A small can to melt snow

• Whistle

• Signal flares

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

• Ibuprofen and acetaminophen in children and adult doses.

Other advice includes:

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

Attach a red flag or other signal to the most visible part of your car.

Move anything you may need from the trunk to the passenger compartment of the car.

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

Run the engine 5 minutes each 30 minutes or 10 minutes each hour.

Listen for radio broadcasts while running the engine.

Assure adequate ventilation in the car if snow is covering the car.

If you need water, melt snow rather than eat it, again making sure ventilation is clear.

Do not fall asleep with the engine running.

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

This advice comes from many sources. I especially want to thank our terrific local police, sheriffs and state troopers. Please join me in wishing them, and all our fire, rescue and emergency response personnel a wonderful holiday season. They are the ones who will be on duty keeping us safe and healthy!

Dr. Drew Werner is the vice chief of staff at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and the Eagle County Health Officer. He lives in Eagle with his family. E-mail comments about this column to

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