Frigid weather moves into area

The weather outside was frigid along West Caroga Lake Tuesday morning where the thermometer reads a single digit at 8 degrees. Colder weather is expected over the next several days with single digit and minus temperatures. (Photo courtesy of Richard Nilsen)

Anyone living in upstate New York knows just how bipolar the weather can be, especially during the winter. There could be a snowstorm giving 12 inches of snow within a day, and then the sun comes out melting all of it. Or there could be freezing rain with high winds following the snowstorm making driving conditions worse than what they were.

However, no matter what the weather conditions are, there are precautions and safety tips that can be taken to help avoid accidents and hospitalization whether it be driving, walking or staying home during the winter weather.

“The most important thing if you’re going out by foot or vehicle is to be prepared and know the forecast,” said Jeff Smith, director of Montgomery County Emergency Management. “This week alone we had snow, wind, now frigid cold.”

Whether it be several inches of snow, heavy winds that cause snow drifts or black ice, Smith said anyone driving should plan ahead, leave early and take their time.

Smith said travelers should be prepared by having a phone charger in the car, a blanket, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, hat, gloves, scarf, extra layers of clothing and food.

He said at home, residents should make sure generators have gas and to not run them inside, clean the chimney, use care to avoid house fires, check vent pipes and make sure the furnace is in good shape.

High winds can be dangerous because it can cause snow to drift, trees or power lines to fall, can affect the way vehicles handle and can cause someone walking to fall.

Smith said people should take roads they are familiar with and avoid roads where snow is known to drift.

He said when a tree or powerline is down and blocking the road and if someone doesn’t want to get hurt they should stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency assistance or turn around and get to their destination a different way.

When there is freezing rain and temperatures are below or slightly above freezing, there can be black ice, which can sometimes be hard to detect. Roads and sidewalks get treated with dirt or salt, but people should look out for the untreated spots in driveways and on sidewalks.

“It’s always important to pay attention to the temperature,” Smith said.

When it comes to other vehicles that are driving recklessly behind you, Smith said it is best to turn on the blinkers, pull over and let them go by.

“The key is finding a safe spot to do that,” Smith said.

Smith said if anyone were to ever get stuck, or have their car break down during a snowstorm, he advises they put their four-ways on; and when calling 911, to always know where they are by paying attention to surroundings, knowing which county, town and road they are on. Smith also suggested keeping flares and using one or two of those to help stay visible in the snowstorm.

Commuters can keep up with the weather conditions and more ways to stay safe during the winter by downloading Montgomery County New York Emergency Management application on either the android of iPhone or by visiting its Facebook page.