Winter weather round-up

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

This weekend's ice storm put area road crews to work, and they are bracing for the next couple days, with more severe weather likely on the way.

In South Bend, county and city road crews say they not only got to all the main roads, but also treated many of the side roads and neighborhood roads over the weekend.

However, they say caution is still needed on county roads and some neighborhood drives, where there are still plenty of slick spots.

The South Bend Street Department says they have had their crews working since Saturday morning to salt and sand the roads.

They say they have already been through the city at least one time.

But they say, as expected, there have been a number of slide-offs and accidents caused by people driving too fast on icy roads...but fortunately, none too serious.

They say drivers need to make sure to drive slowly, and give themselves more than enough time to get from point A to point B.

They say people should keep in mind, the way they treat the roads varies by what kind of storm hits the town.

"The sand and salt mix we do use when we have the ice pack on the street prior to a snowfall, just a regular snowfall. This way we do have some stopping abrasion for residents and local traffic," said Bob Robaska with the South Bend Street Department.

Workers say that salt-sand mixture takes between a half hour and an hour to start melting the ice, so people need to be patient as it works, and just because it's down, doesn't mean the roads are ready for you to drive the way you usually might.

The county and city both have crews on call, and say they're keeping a close eye on those forecasts.

Even more dangerous than the roads after this weekend's ice storm, may be foot traffic.

Local emergency room doctors say they've been especially busy this weekend treating injuries caused by people taking a fall out on the ice.

While most of the main roads in the area were cleared quickly, doctors say there's still something to keep in mind when leaving your house - watching your step.

Many sidewalks, driveways and parking lots in the area are still coated with a sheet of ice, and doctors say they've seen injuries this weekend of anything from broken bones to head traumas.

It's important to note that even if the surface looks like it would be safe to walk on, it's still best to take your time.

Some of the ice is so thin it may not be noticeable, while other times a clump of snow that may look safe to walk on, may actually be a lot more treacherous than it seems, if it's covered with ice.

With very few serious car accidents since the storm, it appears people are taking their time out on the road, and doctors say they should do the same when they're on their feet.

“We've been very busy this weekend. The sidewalks and parking lots are extremely slippery, I’ve even almost slipped a couple times. For more of our elderly population, some of these slips like these can cause some serious injuries,” said Dr. Mark Monahan at Memorial Hospital.

Pretty much anyone is susceptible to taking a fall, but for the elderly and others who could be seriously hurt, it is even more important to be careful.

Monahan recommends the elderly just stay home when there is ice if they can, and he says if they have to go out, they should make sure to have someone with them to help keep them stable out there.

And while there's a lot to think about this time of year, making sure your car is ready for the season, should be pretty high on that list!

Who knows what your car will do when it starts getting cold out, but a good way to avoid problems later is to prevent them now.

Just by looking under the hood, you can help that by checking some of your fluid levels.

Mechanics say making sure you have enough power steering and transmission fluid can give you more control on the road, and of course checking your coolant levels can help you avoid a rough morning with a frozen engine.

And mechanics say there's plenty more to look out for.

Making sure your tires have enough tread, and if you have some all-weather tires, make sure they're on your drive axle if you don't have 4-wheel drive.

Or replacing an old battery can also lessen your chances of running into trouble on the road.

And of course, making sure to scrape your car clean in the morning, with the help of some defrost - makes it a much safer commute.

“It's OK to leave them running, it's good, especially in the cold winter, to leave the cars running, that way the fluids start to warm up, and if you have alarms or remotes you won't have to worry about your car being stolen,” said Rick Abbiehl, a technician at Midas in South Bend.

Mechanics say another important thing to keep in mind when leaving that car running is to know whether you have an exhaust leak - because that carbon monoxide could be dangerous, especially since you'll probably leave your windows up during your drive.

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