As I sit at my desk pouring over weather reports from around the country, I can’t help but think back to my days as a tower. As I sip my warm coffee, I get a slight chill up the back of my neck looking at temperatures dropping and snow totals starting to pile up. That old familiar feeling, “business is about to pick up.” While 2020 has not been a normal year by any stretch of the imagination, there’s still a few things that are certain, one of those things being when there’s winter weather, towers are going to be busy. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for staying safe during the winter months, and I’d like to share them with you, our Service Provider network. Some of these pearls of wisdom were handed down from the “old-timers,” others I learned from my own mistakes.
For your reading pleasure, here they are:
Whether it’s rain, snow, sleet, or hail, towers are out there, rescuing stranded motorists regardless of the weather, which means we have to protect our feet! A wise man once told me, “take care of your feet, and they’ll take care of you.” We all know the value of a good pair of boots, and there will always be discussions as to which brand is better, to steel toe or not, but just as important as your boots are what’s inside those boots. That’s right, socks! A good pair of socks can help insulate your feet from the bitter cold and keep your feet warm, even if the rest of your body is freezing.
It’s always good to have a few extra pairs on hand. I personally used to keep at least five or six extra pairs in my work bag. You never know when you (or one of your coworkers) are going to end up with your feet soaked, and nobody likes riding around all day with wet feet.
While most of us know how important it is to use the proper ANSI-class gear on the side of the road, sometimes, we sacrifice that visibility for warmth in the winter. But you shouldn’t ever sacrifice safety for comfort or warmth. Make sure to carry a vest 2-3 sizes larger than you typically wear so that you can throw it over that heavy-duty Carhart or Dickies jacket.
If your company supplies uniforms with reflective stripes, request a pair of pants or two that are a size up from what you wear normally to allow yourself room to wear a pair of thermals underneath. These will also come in handy after those big holiday meals!
This is one I cannot stress enough. Which toolboxes you keep your stuff in, and how you organize, can save countless minutes per job, and in those danger-zone scenarios, might just save your life. Start your day by organizing your toolboxes for what you think you’re going to need today.
On bad snow days where I knew I would be doing mostly winch-outs, I would keep things like short endless loops, rim slings, and a small cluster with a T/R hook combination on it in the toolbox that I would use most frequently. Usually the one closest to the passenger controls. Organize your truck in a way that requires you to take the fewest amount of steps to get what you need and get the job done quickly and safely.
This one sounds easy enough, but it’s something we all take for granted. Remember, your truck needs longer to stop when the roads are wet or slippery. If you’re in tow, your truck is even heavier, and the load isn’t always evenly distributed on your brakes. Make sure you’re travelling at speeds that give you enough time to stop safely. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and make sure you’re using your lights properly, as designated by your local and state regulations.
Most importantly, make sure you’re taking the extra precautions necessary to protect yourself while you’re working. This means keeping your head on a swivel when out of the truck working a scene, taking extra precautions when exiting or entering your truck to prevent slips and falls, making sure that you and your customers are safe at all times. Accidents happen much faster when there’s snow or ice on the ground, so always ensure your personal safety is the first priority at all times.
At HONK, our Service Provider Network of tow truck professionals is our biggest asset and we want to do everything we can to keep them safe.
For more information and updates about HONK be sure to follow us at facebook.com/honk4help and on Instagram @honkforhelp. If you are interested in becoming a HONK Partner, visit www.joinhonk.com and sign up for free today!