Winter Safety Advisory

Season’s Greetings, all!

Winter is upon us and the roads are starting to get bad.  Nothing injures or kills Border Patrol Agents more than traffic accidents. So, we want to extend some very important safety tips to all of you for this cold and slippery season.

  • With freezing temperatures and a lot of moisture in the air, black ice can form on roads in the blink of an eye.  Remember, you can’t see black ice.  All you can see is the temperature, so be aware of the weather while you’re out there.  Check out the forecast before you head out into the field.  If the temperature is hovering around 32°, you can count on ice on the road.
  •  Check your tires!!!  Make sure you have sufficient tread and appropriate traction on your tires.  Based on your state, there are regulations dictating how much tread depth must be present on the tire in order for it to be used:
  • In Washington State the minimum tread depth required is 1/16th of an inch of tread depth, measured from the base of the tread to the outer edge.
  • Both Idaho and Montana do not have legal standards on tread depth but they advise drivers to make sure there is sufficient tread.
  • Rule of thumb – if the tread is worn out, DO NOT DRIVE THE VEHICLE!  You cannot be forced to drive a vehicle you determine to be unsafe.  Take another ride.
  •  Make sure your vehicle has properly fitting chains, if you anticipate snow in your AOR.  You should have chains in your vehicle ALL the time between October and April, if you have any zones in your AOR that could accumulate snow. Make sure you know how to put them on!!
  •  If road conditions are icy or slippery, four-wheel drive can be both your friend and your enemy.  Academy Driving Instructors warn that once you exceed 45mph, four-wheel drive is just as dangerous (if not more so) than two-wheel drive on icy or snowy roads.
  • SLOW DOWN!  Get home after shift!  There’s nothing you need to get to so quickly that would justify endangering yourself.  Brake before your turns, and don’t make sudden steering motions.
  • Slips and falls can put you out of service for a long time. When walking around icy parking lots and sidewalks, consider using traction devices on your boots, i.e. – YakTrax, STABILicers, etc.  Many stations have pre-purchased these for agents.  Get some.
  • Have a winter survival kit in your ride.  If you’re going out in the middle of nowhere, it can sometimes take hours for help to arrive.  You should consider:
  • a gallon of fresh water
  • non-perishable, high-calorie, low-sugar food (jerky, protein bars, etc.)
  • a synthetic fiber or wool blanket.  Avoid cotton!
  • a dry change of clothes – i.e. extra gloves and a warm hat, long underwear, etc.
  • hand-warmers
  • a flashlight with extra batteries
  • Watch out for your fellow agents!  If you are aware of dangerous road conditions out in the field, let your co-workers know so they are prepared!
  • Report any safety concerns to your station CDSO or a supervisor.

And, as always, if you believe your safety concerns are not being addressed adequately, you should contact your station steward.  If they don’t have answers for you, please feel free to contact me any time!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Marty Aguilar

Local 2913 Health and Safety Officer

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