Be safe in snow

Published 9:17 am Friday, January 5, 2018

Western Tidewater’s first significant snowfall of the 2017-18 winter is here, and as predicted was a significant event.

The National Weather Service’s estimates around 6 to 10 inches of snow fell across most of the region, with possible higher amounts in certain places, high wind gusts, wind chill values on Friday mornig as low as -5, and temperatures staying low enough to keep the snow hanging around until at least Monday.

Northerners might scoff, but an accumulated 10 inches is a significant snowfall for this area, and combined with the other factors, this is a very dangerous event.

Therefore, we urge all of our readers to play it safe by staying off the roads if at all possible, bundling up before going out to play in the snow and taking other steps for safety.

If you must drive during or after a storm, suggests you travel during the day, travel with a companion, keep others informed of your schedule and route and stay on main roads, which are more likely to be in better driving condition.

Those who venture outside should walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways. If you shovel snow, be very wary of the possibility of a heart attack. Take plenty of breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it and lift lighter loads when you do lift it.

When playing in the snow, wear several layers of loose-fighting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens, a hat and a scarf.

Be aware of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite symptoms include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness. Hypothermia symptoms in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. If the person’s temperature is below 95 degrees, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Bring your pets inside this week. They may be wearing fur coats, but that doesn’t keep them warm in temperatures as frigid as this.

Make sure you use safe heating devices and methods that are well ventilated and kept away from combustible materials. If you lose heat in your dwelling, this is not the week to try to tough it out; find someplace else to go until the weather warms up.

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or any other devices powered by gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or other partially enclosed area. Keep these devices at least 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents.

You can be a snow angel to your elderly and disabled neighbors, friends and relatives. Check on them and make sure they are safe and warm. If they’re not, help them find somewhere they can stay. You could be saving a life.