Winter brings special challenges for people on—or travelling to and from—the Burnaby campus on Burnaby Mountain.
Be alert for announcements of campus closures (these are communicated in a number of ways, including via Twitter and SFU Alerts. Please visit that webpage to find out how to update your contact information so the university can contact you in an emergency and advise you of any snow closures). Closures are also announced on SFU.ca. Snow-closures could affect any of the campuses.
SFU's Severe Weather Plan provides information on the University's procedures for handling winter conditions on Burnaby Mountain.
Here are some tips on safety in the snow, and on winter driving.
They apply as well, of course, to anyone facing snow or ice on their routes to or from the Surrey and Vancouver campuses.
SAFETY IN THE SNOW
If roads on the Burnaby campus are blocked or restricted in snowy weather, do NOT try to walk down the mountain.
The weather can change in a flash, with nasty consequences.
First, you could quickly become disoriented in a whiteout and wander into traffic or get lost in very dangerous terrain.
Second, the temperature on the mountain can drop 15-20 degrees in, literally, a matter of seconds. If you’re not dressed for snow and below-zero temperatures, you could be in big trouble.
It’s safer to stay on campus until conditions and roads are clear. Be alert for announcements from the university and its Emergency Social Services team.
Heed all warnings and advice from Campus Security. The security staff have the training and expertise to help you.
Obey their traffic restrictions and road-barriers. Security may close a road because they know dangerous weather conditions are imminent, or that there is a problem on the road that you are not yet aware of. (Examples: black ice, gridlock down the hill, a police closure lower down the mountain, municipal snow plows at work.)
TransLink can shut down bus service at no notice in winter conditions. Do not assume that buses are or will be running just because the roads on the Burnaby campus appear to be clear and open.
BASIC WINTER DRIVING TIPS
From government safety agencies, and from SFU Campus Security, some tips on driving in our unpredictable Lower Mainland winters:
1. Winterize your vehicle.
- Make sure your car is properly tuned and serviced, and the exhaust system has no leaks.
- Ensure you have anti-freeze, and a de-icing solution in the windshield washer tank.
- And make sure you have good windshield wiper blades. Blades that streak should be replaced.
- Install tires appropriate for winter conditions. Regularly check the tread.
- Check your tire pressure at least once a month. As temperatures drop, tire pressure decreases. Check when the tires are cold, this will give you the most accurate pressure reading. (And check your spare tire regularly, too.)
- Installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide a greater amount of traction and control for driving in winter conditions.
- Wide, high-performance, or low-profile tires, other than those specifically designed as snow tires, are not suitable for use on snow-covered roads.
- Do not mix snow tires. Use the same make, size and type on all four tires. Different tread patterns can reduce the stability of your vehicle.
- Choose snow tires marked with a pictograph of a snowflake inside a peaked mountain. This indicates that tire has specifically been designed for use in severe snow conditions.
- Check the battery.
- Inspect the brakes.
- Check head and signal lights.
- Ensure all engine belts and hoses are in good shape.
- Make sure the heater and defroster are working properly.
- Keep your gas tank full to prevent the gas line from freezing and to maximize traction on slick roads.
2. Carry winter safety essentials
- Keep some emergency items in your car at all times, including an ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight and fresh batteries, warm gloves, a warm hat, boots, a good blanket, and some extra winter clothing.
- If you can afford to purchase snow-chains, do so.
- Traction mats (such as bits of old carpet) are also useful. So are bags of salt, sand or kitty litter.
- If you live in area where bad winter conditions are likely, your kit could also include a towing cable, flares, matches and a “survival” candle in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light). Plus non-perishable foods such as granola bars.
3. Check weather and road conditions along your route before travelling.
- At the bottom of the page on the main SFU websites, you’ll find a link to Campus road report page. (http://www.sfu.ca/roads) It is kept up to date all year around.
- Security also maintains a Road Report phone Line # 604-444-4929 (604-44-HIWAY).
- As well, TransLink offers alerts and advisories.
- Several radio stations offer regular traffic reports (such as AM730, CKNW 980, News 1130, and CBC 690).
- Environment Canada has Lower Mainland weather forecasts at:
- For those coming from or heading for Fraser Valley areas east of Burnaby, check the BC government’s DriveBC website at: http://www.drivebc.ca/
- Give yourself extra time for travel and if weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve.
- Avoid driving in poor weather conditions whenever possible.
4. Before you start the car:
- Let others know about your route and your expected arrival time.
- If you have a cell phone, make sure you have it with you, and its battery is charged.
- Be sure all windows, lights, mirrors and licence plates are free of snow and ice.
- Clear snow off the hood and roof, too.
5. And use special care when driving:
- Drive with headlights on.
- When driving on ice or snow, allow plenty of room to stop and start. And maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and others.
- Do not use cruise control on slick roads. (More on this below.)
- Stay on well travelled roads if at all possible.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Be aware that a four-wheel drive vehicle has no more traction on ice than any other type of vehicle.
- Slow down. Slow down even more before curves and corners.
- Carefully test your braking and steering at a very slow speed. Brake gently.
- Accelerate gently and steer smoothly. Be sensitive to how your vehicle is steering.
- Go down icy hills in a low gear.
- Avoid passing.
- If your wheels lock, ease off the brakes then re-apply them to maintain steering control.