Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wildfire Driving Safety

Colorado wildfire picture
Wildfire in northern Colorado Springs,
courtesy of Kimberly Fuller

Sadly there are many wildfires around the state of Colorado right now, and with that comes increased traffic risk: more distracted drivers, traffic from evacuations, etc.  While these fires haven't hit as hard on the Western Slope, we know travel this Summer is a part of many of our friends' and customer's plans.  If you find yourself near a wildfire area please be extra cautious on the road.

The Waldo Canyon fire,
courtesy of KKTV 11 News

1.  Pay attention to road signs, and/or local news and radio broadcasts: many roads and highways may have detours or may be closed all together.  These detours have been set up to help traffic divert from dangerous areas.

Ashes from fire,
courtesy of Cindy via

2.  Make sure to watch out for distracted drivers:  if you find that you are driving close to a wildfire area, you will probably see smoke and flames.  As tempting as it may be, please do not take a picture or stare at the smoke and fire for a prolonged period while driving.  If you must, find a safe place to pull off before snapping a picture.  While this may seem like common sense, many drivers will not and have not done this, and as a result many accidents on highways and roads have occurred.

A plane near Flatirons in Boulder dropping fire retardant,
courtesy of the Daily Times Call

3.  Watch out for ash, smoke, and debris in the air.  All of these pollutants can pose a danger when driving, impairing your visibility on the road.  The smoke may also affect those in your car with (or even without) asthma and breathing problems.  Stay alert and should you or one of your passengers start to have difficulty breathing pull off into a safe area to catch your breath, administer your asthma medication, or try to find a spot with cleaner air.  Even if it is a small detour from your destination, it will be worth it in the long run.

Roadway evacuation,
courtesy of Craig T. Roberts, DVM Inc.

4.  Be aware of evacuation areas.  Along with news and radio broadcasts, you can also find evacuation areas online by a simple google search.  Make sure when planning your travels that your trip will not take you through evacuation areas where the traffic will be especially heavy from people leaving their homes.

High Park fire, 
courtesy of KKTV 11 News

5.  Lastly, make sure that above all else your family and friends are safe.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are near a fire - even if you  haven't heard of a road closure or evacuation - use your instincts.  If the situation looks unsafe to you, it probably is.  Try to find a safer route to get to your destination.

Hope you have safe travels this summer, and please send a happy thought or prayer to all those affected by Colorado's wildfires.