Tow trucks getting boost in business from bitterly cold temperatures

·4 min read

The extreme cold is making it very hard to get around outside whether on foot or in a vehicle.

Tow trucks were backed up fielding calls from stranded motorists or those who couldn't get their vehicles going Monday morning in temperatures that felt like -50 with the windchill.

"[We have] 20 some trucks and our two battery assist vans are out there just doing boosts," said Raelene Purdy, office manager for Astro Towing in Saskatoon.

"We've got everyone in and it's a busy day down here."

Purdy said in this weather they have to prioritize calls to make sure they quickly get to those in need.

"We deal with anybody stranded by the side of the road as a priority. Any police call, people in accidents, anybody stranded without heat is obviously our top priority to get to," she said.

"If you're home and warm, we ask you to stay there and we'll get there as quick as we can."

She said it could take a few hours with the number of calls coming in.

Emma Kramer-Rodger
Emma Kramer-Rodger

Purdy said she expects a high volume of calls for tow trucks to continue over the next few days until people become more prepared for the cold.

"It seems like as the week progresses, people adapt to the cold temperatures and we plan ahead," Purdy said. "We make sure that we plug our vehicles in and people take extra precautions and give themselves some extra time in the morning to make sure their vehicles are started."

Christine Niemczyk with CAA Saskatchewan said wait times for roadside assistance ranges from an hour in North Battleford and Prince Albert to two hours in Saskatoon and up to three hours in Swift Current.

Niemczyk said they have received 250 calls for assistance in the last 24 hours in the province, with the majority for battery boosts.

Take precautions when going outside

On the weekend, Parkland Ambulance based in Prince Albert had six calls for exposure.

Lyle Karasiuk, Parkland's director of public affairs, said fortunately all six cases were minor in nature.

But he urged people to take precautions when going outside and to look out for one another.

"Please check on your neighbours, check on friends and family you love and your neighbours just to make sure they're doing well this morning," he said.

He said with the cold and wind, check on your furnace vents to make sure they haven't iced up.

"Even though it's cold, please venture out once in a while to just make sure that your vents are clear to prevent dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in your home."

Karasiuk said if you have to venture out, give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going and dress in layers, "even if you only think you're going to the grocery store."

He said things can go badly very quickly, something his own mother found out Monday morning.

"My mom went out to take the garbage out and she discovered that she locked herself out of the house," Karasiuk said. "Fortunately, she went quickly next door to the neighbours and let herself stay warm there. But it illustrated how a simple little action could actually cause great harm if you're not prepared."

If you see someone that looks to be in distress, don't hesitate to call emergency services to get help.

"I know that our shelters within the city are doing their very, very best to be safe under COVID circumstances and open up as many beds and warming stations as they can, but we encourage the public to help us out as well," Karasiuk said.

If you see someone at a bus shelter and know buses aren't running or at an ATM entrance or somewhere else just trying to get out of the cold, don't hesitate to call.

"We encourage folks, please dial 911. Get our emergency services, both our paramedics, our police service and our other emergency services partners involved, we can get there, find them somewhere warm and prevent them from becoming further harmed by the cold weather."

And don't forget about your pets.

"Those are vulnerable little cats and dogs as well who cannot endure this cold weather. So a quick trip if they have to be outside and a quick trip back inside where it's very warm is essential for them," said Karasiuk, adding to remember to fill your bird feeders.

The cold weather is expected to continue throughout the week.