Placer County is pleased with the abundant snowfall this season and encourages Lake Tahoe visitors and residents to enjoy the wide array of winter recreational activities available at the lake. The County is also reminding residents and visitors about winter safety. While this season's snowfall has brought excellent conditions for outdoor activities, it also serves as a reminder to take precautions.
- Snow Plows: Conventional snow plows push large amounts of snow onto road shoulders with great force. Anyone standing on or behind a snow berm, especially during limited visibility conditions, may not be visible to the plow operator and risks injury from the plow or the moving snow. Stay away from snow removal operations.
- Snow Berm Tunnels: Plow operators on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe have uncovered tunnels dug in snow. In addition to the suffocation danger posed by collapsing tunnels, people under several feet of snow in a berm tunnel can be injured by snow plows or other vehicles.
- Rotary Snow Removal Equipment: When rotary plows (also called snow blowers) are in operation, they hurl snow, ice, rocks and other debris at a high speed. While the "snow shower" from a rotary plow may look inviting, it is inherently dangerous and should be avoided. Also, by leaving a light on outside your residence, the plow driver is better able to place the blown snow.
- Large Snow Loads: Excessive amounts of snow piled on roofs can compromise the structural integrity of the building. The snow should be removed regularly. If there is difficulty in opening windows and doors in a building with a large amount of snow on the roof, it could mean the snow load it too high for the building.
- Carbon Monoxide: Carbon Monoxide is a clear, odorless deadly gas. A recent case of carbon monoxide poisoning on the North Shore is a reminder that residents and visitors should make sure vents, chimneys and flues are not blocked or clogged and that there are working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in the building.
- Unsafe Home Heating Methods: Placer County also reminds residents and visitors that the use of portable kerosene or gas heaters or charcoal briquettes for heating within an enclosed area is dangerous and should be avoided. If these methods are used, make certain that there is adequate ventilation. These methods create carbon monoxide.
- Electric Heaters: While electric space heaters can be used for heating small areas, they pose a fire danger when covered, knocked over or come in contact with flammable materials. Keep the area around them clear.
- Gas Lines: Regulators, meters and gas supply lines should be kept free of snow and ice. Use a broom to remove snow and ice. Shovels or other tools can cause damage.
- Ashes: Be careful with ashes. Don't put them in containers that can melt or burn. Unless they are completely cold, don't store ashes on decks, in dumpsters or in trash cans; they can start fires.
Placer County reminds residents and visitors alike that living or traveling in snow country isn't like living and traveling in California's valleys or along the coast. The snowfall and the cold weather that bring good skiing and other winter activities require a greater level of safety preparedness from visitors. Travel during winter storms can be unpredictable and should be done with caution.
- Check weather reports before traveling, and ensure that your vehicle is in good operating condition.
- Pack cold weather clothing and blankets and have a flashlight and food and water in your vehicle.
- Drive slowly and cautiously and make sure you have tire chains and that they fit the tires on the vehicle you're driving.
Have an emergency plan; tell someone where you are going and give them your itinerary.
Do not travel alone, if at all possible.
Keep your vehicle full of fuel and windshield washer fluid that does not freeze.
The abundance of winter recreation activities available in Placer County can be enjoyed with some awareness and a few easy precautions. Remember to allow additional time for travel during winter storms and realize that some roadways do close during severe weather. However, they are reopened as soon as road officials determine that travel is safe.