DES Reminding Public of Winter Safety
Mat-Su | Stefan Hinman | Tuesday, March 09, 2021
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is a popular destination for both residents and visitors for a wide variety of outdoor activities. As we transition from the long dark days of winter into brighter, warmer days of spring the conditions change and create new challenges for those taking advantage of the more favorable weather.
The Mat-Su Borough Department of Emergency Services (DES) is experiencing an increased number of search and rescue calls for enthusiasts being caught unprepared for the conditions they encounter. We would like to offer the following safety reminders:
- Despite warmer sunnier weather, be prepared for sudden changes in conditions and ensure you have the gear necessary to survive a cold night outdoors. Pack warm clothes, food, water, extra fuel and survival equipment, including items to make a warming or signal fire.
- Make sure you tell a friend or family member where you are riding or recreating, as well as what time you are due to return, so they can notify help if you are overdue.
- Travel with communications, such as cell phones, satellite phones or GPS units that allow for communication from the area you are traveling. Make sure they are charged or carry additional power supplies.
- Always travel in pairs or groups when possible. If spending time in areas at risk of avalanche, carry beacons, probes, shovels and other appropriate rescue equipment.
- If you require assistance, call early once the need becomes apparent and do not wait. Rescues are much easier and faster if performed during the daylight and while you are still capable of assisting our responders in your own rescue.
- Snow and ice conditions vary greatly from area to area. Always carefully assess the area where you are recreating for threat of avalanche, thin ice or deeper than expected snow. Conditions are rarely consistent in an area and can vary for many reasons. Know the area or travel with someone who does.
- Wear appropriate clothing and safety gear for your activities. Preventing injuries is a large part of surviving the unexpected. Stay well hydrated and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. It is easy to get dehydrated in even the coldest of temperatures, which increases the risk of hypothermia. Remember to check others traveling with you for preparedness before you leave.
- Check local conditions for wind, snow, ice and avalanche conditions before heading out. Beware of inclement weather.
The Mat-Su is vast and diverse with many recreational areas. Please enjoy the area safely and call 911 in the event of an emergency.
BIG CABBAGE RADIO INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN DAVIS, DES DEPUTY DIRECTOR