Winter Hazard Awareness Day
Fri, 12/20/2013 - 12:49pm admin
The winter weather is already upon us, and with it brings many unique hazards. The Winter Hazard Day at the Clearwater American Legion Dec. 7 brought together many organizations to educate people on the seasonal hazards and how to prepare for and protect themselves from them.
Wright County Emergency Management Director Steve Berg and City Council Member Kris Crandall were the organizers of Clearwater’s fourth Winter Hazard Day.
Many people talk about having plans and taking preventative measures, but few of us ever actually get around to putting them in place. Berg and Crandall hope residents will apply the information gained Saturday so winter can be safe and enjoyable for everyone.
When the Weather Outside is Frightful
The Ritzer family came to the Winter Hazard Day and learned about severe weather from Wright County Spotters Bob and Kris Scanlon. The Scanlons are Skywarn Instructors that train anyone interested how to be a storm spotter. The National Weather Service wants to train people to give good reports that can be used in sending out severe weather warnings.
“Minnesota has had tornadoes in every month of the year and every hour of the day. It’s rare in the winter, but if you get the right conditions, there’s no stopping it,” said Bob Scanlon.
A problem we’ve already encountered this year is wind chill. Wind chill measures effective cooling on the body. When there is a breeze, your body looses heat faster. A -26 degree wind chill means that the body is losing heat at the same rate as if it was -26, with no wind.
“Minnesotans are so used to grabbing their coat and running out the door. You need to bundle up. Cover any exposed skin. You can think you’re being hardy, but you can lose your fingers before you know it,” warned the Scanlons.
Bad winter weather lasts longer than spring and summer storms. It is important to be prepared with food, warm clothes and other necessities for winter storms that can last for long periods of time.
Amy Staudinger, a transportation generalist for MNDOT, gave tours of the “small” plow outside the Legion. She reminded everyone to give the snowplows the room they need, especially in bad weather, and to be mindful of work zones.
“If the public would be more aware, it would make everyone’s life easier and safer,” said Staudinger.
Prepare for the Worst
Representing Home Depot, Bob Gau and Jason Loberg had many gadgets and checklists for winter safety. They stressed the importance of having fresh batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, making sure furnaces are in good working order, and having supplies ready to clear walkways and prevent slipping. Visitors also could enter a drawing for a weather radio.
Frank Heino is a disaster action team member for the American Red Cross who gave insight on what to pack in emergency kits.
Heino provided lists from the Red Cross of things to have available in the event of a weather emergency. Some of the essentials are water, food, blankets, warm clothes, batteries and a First Aid kit. Have enough to be able to survive by yourself for a few days.
“It’s something that people always talk about doing, but never do,” said Heino.
Another useful resource is the Red Cross app, available at the iTunes apps store or search Google Play for American Red Cross.
For Your Health
Jason Miller, Pharm.D. of the Coborn’s Pharmacy offered $25 flu shots and information on other vaccines available such as Shingles, Pneumonia and T-Dap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough).
Although most don’t Winter Continued On Page 2
consider it a major health threat, Influenza kills people every year. While the flu shot doesn’t give 100% immunity, it is recommended for everyone six months and older.
“It’s a preventable disease and the best way to treat it is to prevent it. The flu shot isn’t perfect, but it’s the best weapon we have,” said Miller.
The Wright County Public Health booth had a plethora of resources on everything public health related.
“The more you know, the better,” said Amy Nystuen and Megan Ward, both public health nurses.
Nystuen and Ward sold Radon test kits for $3, a 50% off special for the months of December and January. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and one out of three homes in Minnesota has an elevated radon level.
Another highlight was the Wellness on Wheels Van which travels around Wright County. Among other things, the WOW Van sells Radon kits, gives health screenings, provides several food shelf resources and offers $10 immunizations for those uninsured and underinsured. The WOW Van will be at the Clearwater Coborn’s Jan. 6 from 2 to 6 p.m.
Tim Daly and Mark Lauer from Allina Health Ambulance Service gave free blood pressure testing, while Phyllis Lundeen, RN and Heart Safe coordinator from Allina Health Buffalo Hospital provided information on Heart Safe communities.
The goal of Heart Safe communities is to get as many AEDs into the community as possible and to have people know how to use them. A program is in place to loan out kits that teach hands-only CPR and AED use.
“When they see how easy [using an AED] is, they won’t be afraid of doing it wrong,” said Lundeen, pointing out that an AED is programmed not to shock a normal heart rhythm.
An AED should be utilized if a victim is unconscious, not breathing and has no signs of circulation.
Have a Safe Season
The Clearwater Fire Dept’s main concerns for the winter months are Christmas tree fires, cooking fires, carbon monoxide and thin ice. There are many ways to help prevent these issues from occurring.
If a live Christmas tree is decorating your home this holiday, make sure it is well-watered (Christmas trees can drink a gallon of water a day), and keep it away from heat sources. Also, be sure there are no broken wires on Christmas light strands and to unplug the lights when no one is home.
Carbon monoxide is a product of inefficient combustion from furnace use and is a silent killer. A carbon monoxide detector is essential. Perform regular maintenance on furnaces and be sure chimneys are clean.
Ryan Sims and Lt. Ryan Pridgeon of the CWFD also recommend changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every time you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
Be careful out on the ice this winter. Minimum ice thickness is four inches for ice fishing, five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs, 8-12 inches for cars and small trucks, and 12-15 inches for medium trucks, as recommended by the DNR.
Mike Hofmann from Wright Hennepin Electrical Cooperative had an interactive board to help remind people to be aware of electrical safety in the home and outside this winter. He reminded everyone of the hazardous risk involved in using electrical devices near water or using metal objects to rescue toast from the toaster.
New Snowmobile Regulations
Deputy Jake Hermansen from the Wright County Sheriff’s Dept. outlined the new snowmobile regulations this year.
If you are born after Dec. 31, 1976, you must have a snowmobile license, not just a driver’s license. Adults will need to take the CD portion of the course, while children will need to take a class and complete the CD training. More information can be found on the DNR website.
There will be a snowmobile class Jan. 11, 2014 at the Wright County Sheriff’s Office. All registrations must be made in person at the sheriff’s office. Class size is limited and fills up fast. Snowmobiles will be provided.