Archive for Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Emergency experts offer tips to prepare for, survive in impending snow storm

February 1, 2011


Rachel Dobbs applies Ice Melt to the sidewalk in front of her home on Ohio Street. With ice and heavy snow — up to 13 inches, according to the National Weather Service — in the forecast, she was one of many residents preparing for extreme conditions.

Rachel Dobbs applies Ice Melt to the sidewalk in front of her home on Ohio Street. With ice and heavy snow — up to 13 inches, according to the National Weather Service — in the forecast, she was one of many residents preparing for extreme conditions.

Last free snow day

Next time Superintendent Rick Doll cancels classes, his bosses on the Lawrence school board will be responsible for readjusting schedules for the district’s 11,000 students.

Any future snow days would need to be made up by the end of the academic year, likely by adding a few minutes to the end of each school day, said Julie Boyle, the Lawrence school district’s communications director.

Making that decision would be the school board, which is responsible for seeing that students get their state-mandated 1,116 hours of instructional time before summer vacation begins.

All of the district’s snow days so far — Jan. 10, 11, 20 and Feb. 1 — either have makeup days built into the schedule or do not need to be made up.

Injured on the ice

Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room staff was busy Monday treating people who fell on icy sidewalks and parking lots.

Belinda Rehmer, an LMH spokeswoman, said 20 people had come to the ER by the afternoon after freezing drizzle made surfaces slippery starting in the morning.

Rehmer said all of the patients were treated and released, but most will likely have follow-up visits with orthopedic doctors. Hospital staffers were encouraging people to be careful, especially when getting out of their vehicles.

A snow storm that’s barreling through the Midwest has public safety officials advising residents to be prepared to stay at home for a few days.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for Douglas County, with heavy snowfall this morning through late tonight with total snow accumulation of 10 to 13 inches.

Having enough bottled water, nonperishable food and medication to last at least three days are among the steps Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli recommends. And here are some other ideas to help you survive:

Stay warm

• Wear several layers of loose clothing, gloves or mittens, hats and boots, says Kim Ens with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Wear a shirt that wicks away sweat underneath to keep you dry and boots with sturdy footing to avoid falls. Bundle up in a ski mask or scarf, Ens said.

• Dr. Thomas Marcellino of Lawrence cautioned that frostbite can occur rapidly when temperatures reach zero, and he said frostbite is more likely to happen if you wear tight clothing, are in a cramped position, if you smoke or drink alcohol, or have diabetes or neuropathy.

• Stay hydrated. Drinking water is just as important in winter as it is in summer, Marcellino said. Ens recommends drinking hot tea or cocoa to stay warm. But avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks.

• Check on elderly neighbors to make sure they’re warm enough and have plenty of food, water and medicine. If you can, shovel their sidewalk.

• Once temperatures get below 20 degrees, pet owners should think about bringing outdoor cats and dogs inside, said Midge Grinstead, Lawrence Humane Society director. Keep pets in garages, barns and sheds and have warm blankets and straw available. Make sure the animal’s water doesn’t freeze and your pet doesn’t lick or eat the snow.

Power outages

• Have emergency telephone numbers on hand, flashlights with fresh batteries, a battery-powered radio and clock, bottled water, first-aid kit and medications, nonelectric can opener and tool kit. And know how to open your garage door manually.

• If the power does go out, don’t assume Westar knows. Call 1-800-544-4857. If you spot a downed power line, treat it as a live line and call 911 to report it.

• Unless necessary, don’t open your refrigerator door. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if the power is out for less than two hours, food in the refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat.

• For longer periods, a freezer that is half full can hold food safely for up to 24 hours and a full freezer can hold food safely for up to 48 hours. For refrigerated food, pack food into a cooler (an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler will work) surrounded by ice. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the food right before you cook or eat it. Food should be no warmer than 40 degrees.

• Have a safe alternative heart source. If that happens to be a gasoline generator, make sure the generator has plenty of fuel.

• To keep heat in the central part of the house, close doors, use towels or rags as doorstops and close drapes and curtains.

• Don’t use propane or charcoal grills indoors. Never use a portable generator inside the house or garage.

• Run a small stream of water from your faucets to prevent pipes from freezing.


The Lawrence Police Department asks you to stay home if you don’t have to be on the road.

• Before you travel, make sure you have a full tank of gasoline, emergency kit and a fully charged cell phone. Among other items for an emergency kit: blankets, nonperishable food, first-aid kit, flashlight, candles, matches or light, and shovel.

• Avoid parking on the street. City crews will leave behind massive windrows as they plow, so cars could easily be under a couple feet of snow by the end of the storm.

• Lawrence snow plow crews expect to spend much of Tuesday and Wednesday plowing the city’s major streets. Residential neighborhoods won’t be reached until Wednesday night and Thursday morning, city spokeswoman Megan Gilliland said.

If you have to be on the road, Gilliland advises looking at the city’s snowplow plan ( to map out a route to lead you to a street that’s been plowed.

• If you get into an accident, you are legally required to exchange this information with other drivers involved: your name, address, vehicle registration, driver’s license number, insurance company’s name and insurance policy number.

In minor, noninjury accidents, drivers can just exchange information. However, they must report any accident to police that involves an injury, death or property damage of more than $1,000.

Sgt. Matt Sarna said if no one is hurt and the accident is in a high traffic area, drivers and passengers should exit the vehicle and move to a safe location. However, they should not move the vehicle until instructed by police so police can accurately document the accident.

When roads are treacherous and accidents begin to pile up, police will respond to noninjury accidents as resources allow, Sarna said.


lounger 7 years, 2 months ago

Good points here but...Dont open your freezer? Just put the contents of said freezer on the back porch in a cooler where the outdoors will be a massive freezer!

nobody1793 7 years, 2 months ago

"For longer periods, a freezer that is half full can hold food safely for up to 24 hours and a full freezer can hold food safely for up to 48 hours. For refrigerated food, pack food into a cooler (an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler will work) surrounded by ice. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the food right before you cook or eat it. Food should be no warmer than 40 degrees."

Yeah, that, or I could also just store the food in my garage which is as cold if not colder than my freezer.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 2 months ago

A good old fashioned battery operated transistor radio is always helpful.

Shardwurm 7 years, 2 months ago

Amusing to watch the scare during 'Snowmageddon 2011' - winters used to be like this all the time back in the 60s and 70s. I guess we've lost our skills in handling it.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Right you are. All the time. We are starting back into that cylce. See how that works? It doesn't have to be manmade.

parrothead8 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow...something that hasn't happened regularly in 40-50 years, and we've "lost our skills" to handle it? How did that happen?

MarcoPogo 7 years, 2 months ago

I know! Some people were totally scared to drive into work today! Obedently Impo French!!! :)

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

"...all the time back in the 60s and 70s". I lived here in the '60's and '70's and I don't recall winters being like this "all the time". We did have some good winter storms during those years. I think we handled them differently because the population was smaller and most people didn't commute out of town for work. Also, most households only had one car until the '70's, so streets usually weren't plowed or treated as fast as they are now. Less than half of KU students had cars; we walked everywhere and lived close to school. I don't think we've lost our skills, a lot of folks just haven't been taught how to handle it.

nut_case 7 years, 2 months ago

Took the words out of my mouth. Back in the old days, 12-18 inches of snow was just a storm. You shoveled, dealt with it, and moved on. Heck, I had to shovel snow for the old lady next door wearing tennis shoes and 'mittens' made from old socks - because the parents said 'it is the right thing to do'. Three hours of shoveling in the freezing cold and I think my payment was two small oatmeal cookies.

Now a foot of snow is a looming catastrophe where the government must direct us helpless citizens and suck up the appropriate tax dollars to do so.

true_patriot 7 years, 2 months ago

No one says there aren't cycles. What the science shows is that it is a superposition of natural cycles and the influence of humanity. Most things in nature are superpositions of multiple effects, there's nothing surprising about it at all. Rigid black and white thinking prevents some people from grasping the way it works.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Star shoveling snow now instead of waiting for the snow to pile up....if at home. Today may require several visits butttttttttt so what. Make it a family fun event.

We find an aluminum scoop shovel works better for us rather than a snow shovel. That and a 24"- 30" push broom. Remember to knock the snow off the broom by beating it on the concrete.

OR sometimes a leaf blower will do a decent job if doing it at intervals.

Last but not least have fun ....

oldvet 7 years, 2 months ago

With all of the severe weather we have been having this winter, the Department of Transportation issued travel warning guidelines. They suggest that anyone traveling in the current icy/snow conditions should have the following:

Shovel Blankets or sleeping bag Extra clothing including coats, hats and gloves 24 hours worth of food Rock salt Flashlight and spare batteries Road flares or reflective triangles Empty gas can Booster cables

I felt like an idiot on the bus this morning.

SnakeFist 7 years, 2 months ago

What good is an empty gas can? But I suppose they won't let you on the bus with a full gas can.

Louis White 7 years, 2 months ago

Uh...Booster Cables? How bout Jumper Cables?

Henry_the_liberal 7 years, 2 months ago

NONPERISHABLE FOOD ITEMS! I'm sorry, are we planning on being stranded for weeks? The snow ends tomorrow people, your bread will last until you can get to the stores again.

alm77 7 years, 2 months ago

Right, but if the electricity goes out, you can't cook. However you can eat peanut butter and jelly or tuna sandwiches (fairly non-perishable items). That's the way I took it anyway.

Yide 7 years, 2 months ago

If the electricity goes out and you are worried about your perishable food spoiling (meats and dairy products getting above 40 degrees for over 1 hour) don't forget that you have a gigantic freezer right outside your front door. :)

Or you could just keep resupplying a cooler with fresh snow and keep the food indoors.

I believe the current temperature outside is 13 degrees.

SnakeFist 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, we're five-and-a-half hours intro the blizzard warning and I've got half an inch (of snow). I'm beginning to think the meteorologists have once again overexaggerated the severity of the storm to boost ratings. Maybe they all own stock in snowshovels and other "survival" necessities. Fans of Katie Horner can remove their bicycle helmets now.

SnakeFist 7 years, 2 months ago

Honestly, no. Its a storm, but its not the "storm of the century", and I don't feel that my life is threatened. I'm starting to regret buying a pallet of Ramen noodles. At this point, I think the last storm was worse. But it seems to be snowing harder now, so maybe it'll reach impressive levels yet.

SnakeFist 7 years, 2 months ago

p> just said KC has 6 inches of snow, which is not a huge amount - but there are still three or four hours to go before the storm passes.

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