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Boise's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Boise, Idaho | KTVB.com

Emergency responders: 'Stay off the roads if you can'

BOISE -- Roads in our area continue to get pummeled as this snow piles up and crews are working to clear major roads that have the most traffic. Still, officials are advising you to avoid driving if you can.

BOISE -- Roads in our area continue to get pummeled as this snow piles up and crews are working to clear major roads that have the most traffic. Still, officials are advising you to avoid driving if you can.

Emergency responders are out in full force, and KTVB spoke with them on Wednesday about what you can do if you find yourself in a desperate situation.

As KTVB's Jim Duthie says, the snow is tapering off overnight tonight (Wednesday), but the area was hit with record snowfall throughout the day. That has prompted the majority of school districts in Southwest Idaho to close their doors today and tomorrow- as well as many businesses across the area.

It is dangerous out there. With that being said, law enforcement and tow truck companies say don't risk it. They have been responding to slide-offs, crashes, and stuck cars all day.

"If you don't have to go anywhere, please stay home," Boise Valley Towing Co-owner Kathi Vandermeer told KTVB. "It's been crazy for us."

"If you don't [have to] go out, don't go," Boise Police Cpl. Casey Hancuff said, "especially if you live on side streets packed with snow."

Cpl. Hancuff says there have been instances of people involved in crashes waiting quite a long time for first responders to arrive.

If you do have to leave your house, officials say be prepared.

"Make sure you've got good tires,make sure you've got gas in your car because if you get stuck it may be a while before somebody can dig you out," Cpl. Hancuff added.

Law enforcement and tow truck companies across the valley are slammed, and emergency calls are taking precedence.

RELATED: Snowy roads impacting emergency responders

"I'm not going to lie, I have told many people today if you're stuck in your driveway, I can't help you," Vandermeer said. "My priority is taking care of people who are stuck out on the road in the bad conditions."

If you get stuck, don't spin your wheels and try to get off the road as far as you can. Put your hazard lights on, and stay in or with your vehicle.

Cpl. Hancuff says to also make sure your tailpipe is clear of snow while your car is running so that exhaust fumes don't back up into your vehicle.

If you get stuck on a busy road and really need assistance, police say call non-emergency dispatch. Crews will respond as soon as they can and, if necessary, they will call a tow truck company for assistance.

"As long as you're off the road and somewhat safe you don't need to call dispatch," Cpl. Hancuff advises.

In that case, Boise Valley Towing says call roadside rescue through your insurance or motor club.

"It's taking us a long time to get around with these roads but we're trying to get there as quick as we can," Vandermeer added.

For those of you getting stuck in your neighborhood who have tried all the tips and tricks you know, you might just have to get down and dig yourself out with a shovel. Experts with NAPA Auto Parts say to dig a long ramp from the tire to the flat ground instead of a deep sudden rut.

A final plea from emergency responders: slow down and be safe out there.

A lot of tow trucks are getting stuck as well, which makes it even more dangerous for them to respond to calls. Tow truck drivers are emergency personnel- as are law enforcement officers- and state law requires you to slow down and move over for them if you can.

Here are some tips we found directly from NAPA Auto Parts on how to get your car unstuck:

- "Don’t stop: If you are sliding off the road, headed towards a drift, slush pile, etc, do not stop. Your vehicle’s momentum can carry you out of the mush.

- Don’t spin the wheels: When you are stuck and your tires are just spinning, stop.

- Apply proper power. Use your throttle sparingly and in the right way. If too much power is overpowering the tires and snow, use part throttle. You would be surprised how less power might just get you out.

- Shift to low: Make sure your automatic transmission is shifted into the lowest gear. For manual transmissions, you actually want to shift into a higher gear, such as 3rd or 4th, and use the clutch to control the spin.

- Turn off the traction control: This one might seem counter-intuitive, but when you are stuck and need power to the wheels, any slipping will cut the power right when you need it.

- The classic “unstuck” move is called rocking. This is a maneuver where you use the engine to roll the vehicle forward, put it in reverse, roll it backward, and then shift to drive and roll forward. Doing this several times builds momentum for the vehicle, often getting it out of the rut it is stuck in. Once you are over the hump and rolling in one direction, power out of the mess until you are on solid ground.

- Use traction devices: It is too late to add chains or cables to your tires, but you can use other items to enhance the grip of your tires. Rocks (quarter size and smaller), sand, even small branches and sticks can give you the grip you need to get out. It is a good idea to carry a bucket or bag of sand, pebbles, kitty litter, etc when you live in snow-prone areas.

- Go straight ahead. Make sure your tires are pointed straight.

- Let some air out: When you just can’t get the grip, try letting some air out of the tires. This makes a wider contact patch and can give you the necessary grip to get out. Just don’t forget to re-inflate the tires to the proper specification as soon as possible. Until you get the tires re-inflated, keep the speed down so you don’t ruin your tires."