Staying safe in winter weather

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Friday afternoon, November 16, a Wilton plow truck makes its way up Kent Drive. The amount of snow received was much less than predicted, but still caused traveling difficulties for some. (Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal)

REGION — According to the calendar, the official start of winter is still nearly a month away. However, the season and the calendar appear to be out of sync. Area schools have already tallied at least one snow day, as well as a 2-hour delay. Another significant storm was in the forecast as of press time.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols, Sr. recently shared several safety tips for winter driving. “Have your car prepared with clothing or blankets, something to keep you warm should you become entrapped for a period of time,” he said.

It is also a good idea to travel with food; water; cell phone charger; flashlight; and reflective equipment, to help mark your vehicle in low light conditions, should you become stuck, he said.

Franklin County Emergency Management Deputy Director Amanda Simoneau added, “Make sure your car battery is ready and make sure you have an emergency kit in your car.”

When it comes to preparing for winter travel, drivers should make sure they, and their vehicles, are prepared. “Buy winter tires and ensure they have adequate tread depth and are properly inflated,” Nichols said.

Both Nichols and Simoneau stressed the importance of clearing snow from your vehicle, including front, rear, sides, and mirrors.

“Also, remove snow from the roof of the vehicle so it does not fly into approaching or following traffic,” said Nichols.

When not prepared, snow can make driving challenging. This car in Wilton had a hard time making it into a driveway that wasn’t plowed. (Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal)

Simoneau said it is a good idea to let the road crews do their jobs before heading out. “They are working hard to make the roads safer for traveling. Remember, their visibility is limited, and these trucks can not stop like passenger vehicles,” she said.

Nichols said to allow plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you and to exercise extra caution when entering traffic or turning. In the event of a skid, Nichols said to steer into the skid and remove your foot from the brake and accelerator.

“If you are being tailgated, pull over slowly after signaling and allow them to pass, he suggested. “Slow down. Pay attention and stay home if you don’t need to travel.”

For home safety, Simoneau said electric heating sources should never be plugged into power strips and extension cords should not be overloaded. “This is a very big safety hazard,” she said.

Those who heat with wood should check their chimney and have it cleaned regularly. Keeping an eye on your heating oil level so you don’t run out is also important, Simoneau added.

In the event of a power outage, Simoneau said generators should only be used outside the home. “Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when a generator is not working or vented properly,” she said.

Simoneau added a final word of caution, “Keep your exits clear of snow. You never know when your back door, basement door, or even windows will become your only lifeline for escaping during an emergency.”

For more safety tips and weather preparedness tips, follow Franklin County EMA on Facebook or visit www.franklincountyema.org.

dmenear@thefranklinjournal.com