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It’s time to prepare for winter dangers

POSTED December 27, 2011 11:46 a.m.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about winter safety issues.)

Planning for an emergency is something that Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller advocates on a routine basis, and that is especially important in relation to winter storms.
In this region, we can see a spate of exceptionally nice weather, such as that approaching this week, and yet it can turn into dangerously cold, or even locked in a blizzard, over night.
Sometimes the change can come during the course of a day while we are at school or work.
This is why Miller noted it is crucial for local residents to understand how to react to dangerous winter weather.
According to Miller’s information: “There are a number of different ways that winter storms can impact a region and the people who live there.
“Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are not directly related to the storm itself.
“People could get in an automobile accident on icy roads, have a heart attack while shoveling snow, or suffer frostbite or hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold.”
There are several factors can cause danger in winter storms, Miller warned, including:
•Wind — Some winter storms have extremely strong winds that can create blizzard conditions with blinding, wind driven snow, drifting, and dangerous wind chills. These intense winds can bring down trees and poles, and can also cause damage to homes and other buildings.
• Snow — Heavy snow accumulations can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, strand
motorists, stop the flow of supplies, and disrupt emergency services. Buildings may collapse, and trees and power lines can be destroyed from heavy snow. In rural regions,
homes and farms may be isolated for days, and livestock could be lost.
• Ice — Heavy ice accumulations can bring down objects like trees, utility poles and lines, and communication towers. Power can be disrupted or lost for days while utility companies repair the damage. Even a small amount of ice can cause hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.
•Cold — Extremely cold temperatures can accompany winter storms and be left in their wake.
For some people, the winter danger is intensified, Miller’s information warned. “Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to prolonged exposure to the cold, which can cause potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite.”

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