Fun in the snow and mountains is just one of the many reasons so many choose to live, work, visit and play in Larimer County and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office offers a few tips to help everyone make their outdoor adventures as safe as possible.
Prepare written plans that include destinations, routes, and timetables. Give someone you trust a copy of your plans and instructions for contacting authorities if you do not report in by a certain time. If your plans change after leaving home, leave a note in your vehicle detailing the changes. Leave the note in a place it can be read from outside your vehicle and relay that information to the persons mentioned above.
Check CDOT, USFS, and Larimer County for road conditions before leaving. Know which roads are designated for snow and ice removal by checking the Larimer County website (http://bit.ly/1u6YxF5). Understand that your GPS, Google Maps, cellular phone, etc., may not reflect the current road conditions and may not accurately label or identify all roads. Respect all gate closures and do not drive past them.
Know the weather forecast before you go and be prepared for significant weather changes, especially in the mountains. The following are great sources for local weather conditions:
· National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.noaa.gov/)
· Local news stations: 9News – http://on9news.tv/1co1Iiq; CBS Denver – http://cbsloc.al/IqHigB; 7News – http://bit.ly/1iprnfI; and FOX31 – http://bit.ly/1xt8k8k.
Also be sure to check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for important information regarding current conditions and forecasts.
Dress appropriately for the conditions and activities you have planned, keeping in mind weather conditions where you start your trip can vary greatly from the weather at your planned destination. Dress in layers, using wool and/or synthetic materials, and avoid wearing cotton. Here is a good article from National Ski Patrol about “How to Dress for Winter Outdoor Recreation“.
Take appropriate survival gear with you and know how to use all components. Cellular telephone coverage is not available in all parts of the county. Keep your cell phone fully charged and only use it for emergencies to avoid draining the battery. If you are forced to spend the night in a remote area, your vehicle is the safest place so keep the gas tank as full as possible. Keep extra winter clothing, blankets, food and water in your vehicle.
Larimer County Search and Rescue is a great resource for mountain safety tips, avoiding back country mistakes, and other information regarding winter adventure safety.