EATON — The bi-annual Winter Preparedness Meeting was held on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Preble County Educational Service Center.
There, County Engineer Kyle Cross and Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson discussed how Preble County citizens should prepare for the upcoming months.
While the meeting used to be annual, and might be held again next year according to Cross, they decided to switch to a bi-annual schedule, due to feeling like the information being shared each year was too similar to warrant annual meetings.
“The intent of the meeting is not to tell anybody how to run their operations or how to plow snow. It is more of a collaborative effort, that we get everybody in the same room and think about winter. The roads are going to get bad, we’re not sure of how much snow or when. This is just to get everybody in the mindset,” Cross said.
“This is really so we have the most current contact information and so we know who to reach with the different organizations.”
Cross then turned the mic over to Kevin Nelson with the Preble County Engineers Office.
“We work closely with the Sheriff in a snow and ice event. Of course, they have deputies out over night. If we have an event, they’ll call me and we have four rovers in the county, one in every corner. They will assess the roads and call back to me. Then we decide how we’re going to handle it. We have nine routes that we take care of, then the four rovers that takes care of all the intersections,” Nelson said.
He added, the salt supply is well stocked this year, due to not using a lot last year. He then referred to the handout at the meeting, which provided a lot of valuable information.
It covered what to wear during winter when you work outside or on the road. According to the handout, it is recommended to wear long underwear in two-piece style in either wool or thermal material, high wool content or thermal socks, Carhartt-type trousers, boots that are felt-lined, have rubber bottoms, or leather topped with a removable insole, a wool shirt with long tails, or a sweater over cotton shirt, or a blend shirt under a wool shirt, a coat and parka, snowmobile outfit, insulated coveralls, an insulated jumpsuit, or arctic trousers, hoods or ski-masks, one pair of mittens over one pair of gloves, and a ski-mask that does not block side vision.
The handout also recommended everybody carry a Winter Survival Kit. Inside should be: a shovel, windshield scraper and small broom, flashlight with extra batteries, battery powered radio, water, snack food including energy bars, raisins and mini candy bars, matches and small candles, extra hats, socks, and mittens, first aid kit with pocket knife, necessary medications, blankets or sleeping bag, tow chain or rope, road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction, booster cables, emergency flares and reflectors, fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention, and a cell phone adapter to plug into lighter.
As for kit tips:
•Reverse the batteries in your flashlight to avoid accidental switching and burnout.
•Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
•Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.
9-1-1 tips include:
•Call 9-1-1 on your cellphone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle, and the problem you’re experiencing.
•Follow instructions. You may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
•Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
•If you must leave the vehicle write down your name, address, phone number, and destination. Place the piece of paper inside the front windshield for someone to see.
The handout also recommended the following survival tips;
•Prepare your vehicle: make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
•Be easy to find: tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
•If stuck: tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light one. rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
•Stay in your vehicle: walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
•Avoid overexertion: shoveling snow or pushing your care takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Do not risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
•Fresh air: it is better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicles exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a widow open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
•Don’t expect to be comfortable: you want to survive until you’re found.
Sheriff Simpson shared his feelings on snow levels and why people should follow them.
“I like them to mean something to people. A lot of times counties are putting them out after a few snow flakes. People tend to not pay attention to that, but I like them to mean something,” he said. “We always check with the engineer [Cross] about road conditions.
“It has to get really bad for us to put out a level three. That is when the ODOT guys are shutting it down and we’re calling factories to close. People get bent out of shape and I like to not be responsible for that, if possible. Car towing for the road crews, as always if you’re trying to open up the road and you have a car sitting in your way, or whatever you need, we will get a deputy out there or at least a tow truck to you. We will get that car out of the way.
“For nursing facilities, if your nurses or anybody cannot get in, we will make sure they can get in. We will not cite them in a level three, because they are trying to take care of people. If you have an issue getting in, just call us and we will get you where you need to be.
“Keep your cellphone charged. If you’re in your truck and things turn to crap, make sure it is charged. We need to be able to find you.”
He added, he hopes there won’t be more snow this year, but everybody has to be prepared.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH