November 24, 2014

Exercise safety in snowstorms

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Feb. 17, 2011

Vermont Emergency Management, the Vermont State Police, Vermont Fire Safety, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and Vermont Department of Health would like everyone to heed the following safety tips during snowstorms.

Excessive snow shoveling can cause a range of health problems, from back injuries to heart attack, if not done in moderation; take frequent breaks from shoveling.

Check snow pack on roofs and remove snow if necessary and if it can be done safely to avoid a collapse. This includes barn roofs; many agricultural buildings in Vermont are designed for “total” roof load of 50 pounds per square foot.  Call a contractor if you need assistance.

Vermonters who are able to check on and help elderly neighbors and others who need assistance in removing snow are encouraged to do so.

It is critical as snow piles up to ensure all outside heating vents are clear of snow. A blocked vent can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home and CO poisoning. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu, but without the fever and may include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.  If you suspect that you are experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately and call the fire department.

If power is lost and you run a generator, run it outdoors; an improperly vented generator can lead to CO poisoning.

Ensure your generator is installed according to manufacturers’ standards; an improperly installed generator can feed back onto power lines, creating a hazard to line workers.

If while traveling you get stuck in deep snow, do NOT let your engine idle if your exhaust pipe is buried. Idling with a buried exhaust pipe also risks carbon monoxide poisoning.

Other tips for the road

Check road and weather conditions before leaving.  You can call 511 or visit www.511vt.com for more information on roads.

Avoid traveling unless necessary and always allow yourself extra time to get to your destination.

Watch for and expect changing road conditions. Black ice, blowing snow, high winds or whiteout conditions can appear when you least expect them to.

Drive at a speed that matches road conditions. The posted speed limits are for dry, clear conditions only.

Be sure to leave yourself plenty of extra room, extend the following distance from other vehicles ahead.

Carry a cell phone and use 911 in case of an emergency, but do not become over dependent on a cell phone.

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