Winter Safety in the Parks
Winter provides us with amazing scenery, gentle snowflakes, ice kissed trees and a good reason for hot chocolate. It can also spell disaster if the beauty is not balanced with safety. As the temperatures drop, follow a few basic safety tips to stay safe in the colder temperatures:
- Keep your cell phone charged and with you at all times. Make sure you have a cell phone charger in your car.
- Dress for the weather, even if riding in the car. Mechanical breakdowns occur when least expected. Consider keeping an emergency kit in your car that includes extra clothes, boots, hats and gloves.
- Allow extra travel time to your destination if precipitation is predicted. A little bit of sleet creates a lot of slow traffic.
- Keep your vehicle’s windows clear of snow and ice. Also clean headlights, tail lights and brake lights for visibility.
- If using your windshield wipers, remember to turn your headlights on. Ohio law requires drivers to turn on vehicle headlights when using windshield wipers due to any precipitation (O.R.C. 4513.03).
- Fuel line freeze up can happen when fuel level is low. Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank at a half-tank or more throughout the winter to reduce this risk.
- Exercise patience, especially in traffic. It’s a good opportunity to enjoy the scenery.
The Ranger department receives a frequent question when the weather gets bad, and that is, “If there’s a snow emergency declared, are the parks open?” The answer is dependent on two factors.
The first factor is Snow Emergency Classification, which is determined by the County Sheriff. Level 1 Emergency means roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Motorists should use caution. Level 2 Emergency means roads are very icy and unnecessary driving should be avoided. A Level 3 Emergency means all roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel.
The second factor is the road conditions at each park, independent of county classification. Road conditions are assessed and monitored by on-duty Ranger personnel who make the decision for park opening and/or closing. The Operations department works hard to get the roads cleared for opening as quick as safely possible. You can check for closures and updates at greatparks.org/current-park-conditions.
For more winter weather tips and information about Snow Emergency Classification, visit http://www.weathersafety.ohio.gov. In case of any winter weather emergencies while in the parks, contact Great Parks of Hamilton County Rangers at 513-521-3980 or for urgent matters, call 911.
Sheli McDonough, Ranger Sergeant