Tow trucks were busy boosting people on Tuesday morning when the temperature for morning commuters was about -37 C. Plugging in your vehicle is a must when it gets this cold, especially if your batter is a few yers old. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Tow trucks were busy boosting people on Tuesday morning when the temperature for morning commuters was about -37 C. Plugging in your vehicle is a must when it gets this cold, especially if your batter is a few yers old. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Tow truck calls soar as temperature plummets

AMA says boosting calls were five times higher than normal

At Red Deer’s Trio Towing Professionals Ltd. the phones started ringing at 7 a.m. and didn’t stop all day Tuesday.

“Hundreds of calls,” estimates a company employee.

“We have a full fleet. They’ve all been working today non-stop.”

Engine boosts and people locked out of their vehicles were among the most common troubles people faced. Fortunately, Trio’s drivers were not called to too many collisions despite the icy conditions, she said.

The temperature was -37 C when most people were getting ready to hit the road this morning to go to work, according to Environment Canada. The temperature only warmed to about -32 C all day and it felt like -41 C with the wind chill.

Wednesday and Thursday are only mildly more merciful with highs of -26 C and -25 C forecast. Friday’s high is -20 C and then the cold snap is expected to break in time for Christmas Eve with a high of -5 C on the way followed by -4 C on Christmas.

Trio Towing’s advice to everyone is to plug in your vehicle. You won’t regret it.

Another tip is to watch your gas gauge. Your tank should be about three-quarters full to avoid the risk of gas line freezes.

Alberta Motor Association’s Misty Harris said Red Deer’s towing calls were three times above normal on Tuesday and boosting calls were five times higher.

“The extreme cold has resulted in a staggering number of calls for roadside assistance,” said Harris.

According to AMA’s website at ama.ab.ca, there was a 10-hour wait on Tuesday afternoon for those needing a tow or winching out. The wait times for boosts, lockouts, flats or gas deliveries was about six hours.

“When it comes to roadside assistance, we will always prioritize the people in the most dangerous situations. The first question we ask if people call is whether or not they’re in a safe location.”

For those facing long waits for a tow, it is worth remembering that tow trucks may be busy helping someone stuck on Highway 2 or some other risky spot.

AMA’s advice is what we all know but sometimes forget in our rush to get home and out of the cold. Slow down, keep y0ur distance from other vehicles and pay attention to what is further up the road.

To avoid the dreaded dead vehicle, the block heater should be plugged in three to four hours before you hit the road.

“That could be the difference between an engine that starts and engine that doesn’t. That’s always our number one tip.

“Our vehicles, like us, do not like the cold when it is this bad.”

If you are in the office all day, plug it in there if you can or start it up occasionally. “Especially if the battery is older than four or five years you definitely want to use that block heater.

“The other thing we recommend is just keep an emergency kit in your car because you just never know what’s going to happen.”

A blanket, warm clothes, caution triangles, flashlight, gloves and a folding shovel are key components of a good kit.



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