Oswego County Emergency Management issues safety guidelines for winter storm

From Oswego County Emergency Management:

With the impending lake effect snowstorm forecast for the Tug Hill region in Oswego County Monday afternoon through Wednesday, Oswego County Director of Emergency Management Dale A. Currier reminds local residents to use extreme caution while traveling in inclement weather.

Emergency response agencies including fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement and highway are gearing up as the National Weather Service-Buffalo Forecast Office forecast indicates for heavy lake effect snow for the northern section of the county along with extreme cold and a wind chill warning. The National Weather Service indicates this is a potentially dangerous situation with up to 4 inches of snow falling an hour in the most persistent bands, compounded by winds of 20 to 30 hours an hour.

“There will be zero visibility due to the blowing snow and dangerously cold wind chills of -20 degrees F,” Currier said.

“People should be very aware of their surroundings and avoid travel in heavy snow whenever possible,” Currier continued. “The NWS is forecasting frequent whiteout conditions due to heavy lake effect snow and considerable blowing and drifting snow. If you must travel, tell someone when you’re going and when you expect to reach your destination. Carry a cellular phone. Clear your vehicle completely of snow and ice, and always match your speed to road conditions.”

People should carry a car kit in their vehicle at all times, Currier said. The kit should include blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods, and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag. “Make sure your gas tank is full to prevent gasoline freeze-up,” Currier said.

“Always check the weather forecast and road conditions before going out,” Currier stressed. “In lake effect snow the weather can vary from locally heavy snow in narrow bands to clear skies just a few miles away. Be prepared for rapid changes in road and visibility conditions.”

For anyone who must go outside in extreme winter conditions, Currier said, tips to follow include dressing for the cold and slowing down when working outside.

“Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers,” he said. “Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Always wear a hat and gloves or mittens, and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold. With the wind chills forecast over the next couple of days, frostbite can occur to exposed skin within minutes.”

Cold temperatures can put extra strain on the heart when doing heavy tasks such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car. “Stay warm, dress warm, and slow down when working outside,” Currier said. “Take frequent rests to avoid overexertion. If you feel chest pain, stop and seek help immediately.”

People should also follow common sense when operating a snow blower. “Never leave your snow blower running and unattended, and never put your hands into the discharge chute or augers to clear stuck snow and ice,” Currier stressed. “Never add fuel when the engine is running and hot. Make sure you know how to turn the machine off quickly.

“Lake effect snow and extreme cold are nothing new to Oswego County residents,” Currier said. “If people follow common sense safety precautions, they can minimize the impact on their lives.”

More information is available by visiting the Oswego County website at www.oswegocounty.com/emo. Oswego County is a NWS StormReady Community and has multiple methods of receiving and disseminating hazardous weather information.

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