Keep warm and safe; make sure your neighbors are, too

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By Becky Barnes

I am an addicted weather watcher. I’m not real sure why or how this happened, but when the first inkling of a weather threat of any kind is predicted, I begin a satellite-to-front-window vigil.
As early as last Thursday, I began telling co-workers that meteorologists were forecasting a winter storm for this week.
And, at this writing, whether it hits or not remains to be seen. However, the set up is there. In the mets’ technical lingo, the NAM and GFS are in agreement that there will be varied precipitation Wednesday into Thursday, some will see ice, some will see snow, some will see rain.
Location, location, location.
By the time this paper reaches our mail subscribers, it’s highly likely that snow... or the dreaded ice, will be falling from the sky.
While I don’t believe meteorologists expect the ice to be on the same scale as those severe ice storms from last winter or the one in 2003, ice can always be wild card.
I know we all joke about making bread and milk runs to the grocery as soon as a dusting of snow is in the forecast, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. Be prepared. In addition to bread and milk, stock up on foods that don’t have to be heated in case you lose power.
And, don’t forget the batteries.
Cynthiana’s emergency management director, Michael Palmer, sent out an e-mail yesterday to remind residents to not only be prepared, but to be cautious as well.
It was just two years ago that Harrison County recorded the tragic deaths of two of its residents during an ice storm that left hundreds of homes without power.
Palmer said there is a degree of risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires with the use of alternate heating sources. Being outside or even in a home without a heat source can cause hypothermia.
He offered the following information to keep residents safe.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
•Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or even near a window.
•Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
•Don’t burn anything in an improperly vented stove or fireplace.
•Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
•Seek prompt medical attention by calling 911 or the Kentucky Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, have a headache, chest pain or are feeling nauseous.
Hypothermia can result when the body’s temperature drops below what is necessary to maintain normal bodily functions. In severe cases or when the body is not warmed properly, death can result.
•To prevent hypothermia, wear appropriate clothing and limit the time you spend outdoors. Layer clothes made of synthetic and wool fabrics, which are best for keeping warm. Remember to wear hats, coats, scarves and gloves.
•Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, altered speech pattern, abnormally slow rate of breathing, cold pale skin and lethargy. Seek medical attention if you experiences signs of hypothermia. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
Armed with Michael’s precautions, hopefully Cynthiana and Harrison County will get through this wintry weather unscathed.
I want to add that residents need to keep an eye on their neighbors.
While the ground is ice-covered, just walking to the mailbox can be treacherous. One winter, within days of one another, my in-laws each suffered broken bones. My mother-in-law broke her ankle coming in from getting the newspaper and Floyd broke his leg in the driveway.
It can happen in the blink of an eye.
If you know your neighbors or family are home alone, give them a call. And, don’t be afraid to ask local officials to make a welfare check if no one answers your call. It could save their life.