Area bracing for winter mix.
City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County road crews have salt and sand trucks “ready to roll” and have plenty of supplies on hand should a forecasted winter storm with the possibility of snow or freezing rain leave a mark on the area.
A strong cold front is expected to hit central Oklahoma sometime Thursday evening, which could bring some severe weather in areas of southwestern Oklahoma followed by much colder temperatures as the front moves through the state.
Forecasts call for rain that could turn into a freezing rain or sleet mix Friday, depending on the line of dropping temperatures. With the unpredictability of what will affect this area, city and county crews were preparing Wednesday.
Don Lynch, Shawnee’s emergency management director, said they are hoping to better pinpoint areas of rain versus freezing precipitation.
“We will be watching a relatively new data program from the National Weather Service called dual polarization which will help show us the difference between rain, freezing rain, and snow,” Lynch said. “We will be passing this information on to our road crews.
Frank Loman, streets superintendent for the city of Shawnee, said they’ll follow normal procedures and are waiting to see what develops with the storm.
Loman said crews have salt and sand trucks read and a crew if needed.
“We’re playing it by ear,” Loman said.
Eddie Stackhouse, chairman of the Pottawatomie County commissioners, said all three districts were ready and have supplies stacked up, include three loads of salt delivered in his area just last week.
“We’re ready to roll,” Stackhouse said.
Depending on the storm, portions of Oklahoma could see a brief period of sleet or freezing rain Friday after the front passes.
Because of the pending storm, the Red Cross on Wednesday offered several cold weather safety tips.
• Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.
• Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
• Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-¬fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
• Check on your animals. If possible, bring them indoors.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening.
Preventing cold-related emergencies includes not starting an activity in, on, or around cold water unless you know you can get help quickly in an emergency.
Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Stay active to maintain body heat. Take frequent breaks from the cold. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold. Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.
Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or earlobes Signals of frostbite include a
lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).
Hypothermia is another cold-related emergencies. Hypothermia may quickly become life threatening. Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body’s warming system. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel.
Signals of hypothermia include— shivering, numbness, glassy stare; apathy, weakness, impaired judgment; loss of consciousness.
The Red Cross wants the number of house fires not to rise as the temperatures drop, so it offers the following fire prevention tips:
• All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
• Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.