Extreme cold is heading to Fayette County this Christmas weekend, and Melissa Havens, director of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency, spoke with the Record-Herald about precautions locals can take to prepare for the storm.
“In general, we recommend that our citizens be prepared for a minimum of 72 hours,” explained Havens. “This includes having a backup heat source for this particular time of the year as well.”
Havens also warned citizens to be cautious of the wind speeds this weekend, and mentioned we could expect wind bursts up to 45 miles per hour.
“I have already been in touch with our partners locally, as well as Ohio EMA and the American Red Cross. We will be ready to respond if the need arises, however, I cannot stress enough for folks to be prepared at home,” added Havens.
When storms of this caliber come through the area, emergency response crews receive double the calls they usually do, if not more. While it is their duty to care for and assist citizens, responders request to please make sure it is an actual emergency before calling for assistance in order to create a better chance of them being able to respond to crucial calls in a timely manner.
Havens is asking the community to not tie up dispatch lines with questions that could be found online instead.
“Look to social media, local radio, and websites to find out this kind of information instead of tying up emergency lines,” she said. “You can also subscribe to our county warning texts, Nixle, by texting your Fayette County zip code to 888-777. We will regularly use this text to update snow emergency levels.”
If you do have to be out and about during or immediately after the storm, please ensure that you leave yourself extra stopping distance in front of your vehicle on the roads. Also, Havens asks citizens not to crowd the snow plows that are out so that they can effectively do their jobs.
“If you become stranded in your vehicle, don’t leave it. Stay in the car and turn on your hazard lights, or try to mark your car somehow to show that you are stranded,” added Havens. “Also, if you are using a car seat, please be sure to remove the child’s outer layer before buckling them in. You can always place a blanket over them after they are buckled in for warmth.”
Havens also advised the community to stock your car with the appropriate essentials if you plan to travel for Christmas. This includes items like a snow shovel, ice scraper, an abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices such as flares or emergency markers, blankets, a cell phone charger, food and water, and any necessary medication in case you are stranded for an extended amount of time.
“One last thing to remember, avoid any risky driving behavior such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving,” concluded Havens.
The Fayette County EMA hopes everyone can enjoy their Christmas in a safe and cautious manner.