WESTERN NEW YORK – The return of winter weather after a very brief hiatus has officials warning drivers to take caution on area roadways.
Chautauqua County Director of Public Facilities Brad Bentley told WNYNewsNow Tuesday morning his crews were out early preparing to deal with freezing rain.
“We have the snow, sleet, ice rain mix that you’ve shown on the weather forecast,” said Bentley. “We’ve been out all night either plowing or putting out salt to make sure the roads are in the best condition we can get them.”
Bentley said as temperatures rise throughout the day road conditions should improve. He said ice produces a unique challenge for his crews.
“The moment that is does freeze we try to be in all spots and all places at that time,” Bentley said. “We rely on reports from other county officials, the sheriff’s office to help us report on road conditions throughout the county.”
Bentley urges drivers to keep an eye out for his drivers and drive for the road conditions at hand.
National Grid also offered safety tips that could leave consumers more prepared and a little less worried about what nature may throw at them.
The accumulation of ice and snow around or over natural gas meters, regulators and pipes can pose a serious safety risk. Ice and snow falling from a roof can damage gas meters or service connections to customers’ homes or businesses, resulting in potential gas leaks. Customers should take immediate action if a natural gas leak is suspected:
Get Out – All occupants should leave the house immediately. Do not use the telephone, light switches or automatic garage door openers for any reason.
Call Us – After leaving the house and reaching a safe environment, call National Grid’s 24-hour gas emergency number: 1-800-892-2345.
Stay Out – Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.
Cleared snow should never be piled around vents. A blocked vent can lead to the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu, and can include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, heart fluttering or loss of muscle control. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, immediately go outside and breathe deeply; then call 911.
When clearing snow, customers and snow removal contractors should be aware of the location of natural gas equipment to avoid coming into contact with meters, hitting outside gas risers, or piling snow around vents mounted on the outside of buildings, which can cause the dilemma illustrated below.
National Grid urges home and building owners to be especially cautious as they work to clear snow and ice by following these safety recommendations:
Keep all ladders, shovels, roof rakes and other devices well clear of any lines coming from the street to the structure, regardless of material. In extremely wet conditions, even wood can be a conductor of electricity.
Start clearing snow from the opposite end of the roof from the service point where electricity is delivered.
If you are unsure of how to go about clearing snow and ice, or if your roof is particularly steep, contact a qualified roofing contractor. As snow is removed from the roof, be aware of what is below that could become buried as snow hits the ground. Be especially mindful of the location of your electricity and gas meters, as they could be damaged by falling snow and ice.
If a power outage occurs, customers can notify National Grid online to expedite restoration. Never touch downed power lines; always assume they are carrying live electricity. Downed lines should be immediately reported to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222 or to your local
emergency response organization.
Generators used to supply power during an outage must be operated outdoors to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. Before operating a generator, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker, located in your home’s electric service panel. Failure to do this could endanger our crews and your neighbors.
Customers who depend on electrically powered life support equipment, such as a respirator, should register as a life support customer by calling National Grid at 1-800-642-4272. (In a medical emergency, always dial 911.) Keep a number of working flashlights and an extra supply of batteries in your home and be sure to charge all electronic devices.
Please drive carefully and use caution when driving near any crews working to restore power. Be sure to check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage.