Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

January 5, 2014

Hoosiers should prepare for dropping temperatures


The Batesville Herald-Tribune

BATESVILLE —

The Indiana State Police encourage citizens to prepare for falling temperatures. Troopers are in preparation for whatever Mother Nature has in store, according to a Nixle message. 

Extra manpower will available as needed to patrol the major roadways to ensure stranded motorists will receive assistance as soon as possible and to respond to other weather related incidents.

Citizens can keep up-to-date with the latest developments by monitoring the ISP on Facebook, Twitter (@indstatepolice) and Nixle (www.nixle.com). The ISP has created a new Web site (www.in.gov/isp/3096.htm) specifically dedicated to the upcoming winter storm. The page will be updated and run through Monday or later as needed.

Hoosiers are encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel during the winter storm and bitter cold temperatures. They are also urged to avoid calling state, county and local law enforcement dispatch centers for updates on road and weather conditions. To receive the latest road and weather information, tune into radio and TV news stations, call the statewide road and weather line at 800-261-7623 or visit the Indiana Department of Transportation Web site at www.trafficwise.in.gov.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security officials also offer suggestions. Hoosiers can take the time now to develop a plan for a potential power outage. Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission officials recommend citizens look up their electric utility's outage reporting phone number and add it to their cell phone contact list.

The IDHS recommends every household have an emergency preparedness kit. Essential supplies to gather ahead of time in case utilities are disrupted include: 

• Food and water for three days (includes three gallons of water per person, per day); 

• Battery operated or hand crank all-hazards radio;

• Flashlight; 

• Extra batteries for radio and flashlight; 

• Extra clothing, warm blankets, sleeping bags for staying warm in the home if power is lost; and

• Special items (baby formula, insulin, medications).

Families should also take the time to check with neighbors and see if there is anything they can do for each other before, during or after the storm.

With the potential for additional snow, Hoosiers should carefully consider if travel is necessary. INDOT will continue to monitor forecasts for the storm and deploy the needed personnel, equipment and materials ahead of any predicted accumulation. Motorists are encouraged to avoid travel during and after the storm as high winds are expected to reduce visibility for drivers.

Temperatures well below freezing are expected to follow the storm, reducing the effectiveness of road salt in melting the snow and ice. INDOT will be treating the salt with specialty chemicals.

Before heading out, residents should check the Indiana County Travel Advisory Map at http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/. It is updated with information from the county emergency management agencies and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory and caution.

ISP troopers encourage drivers to delay a trip if possible, but if travel is necessary, "let someone know your route, expected time of arrival and how to reach you. Charge your cell phone before leaving. Pack essential items, such as high protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, warm blankets, extra prescription medications and important documents or information you might need during an emergency.

"If you become stranded, do not leave the car unless there is shelter nearby. Call for help. If you don't have a cell phone, tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see. Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm and keep the exhaust pipe free of blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning."

Subzero temperatures and strong winds will create a potentially dangerous situation Sunday through Tuesday. Wind chills could reach -30 degrees or lower. Hoosiers should limit their exposure by staying indoors. If you must go outside, make it as brief as possible. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing and cover any exposed skin with a hat, scarf, and gloves.

Indiana Board of Animal Health officials remind pet owners to be especially sensitive to their animals' limits when outside. Most pets cannot tolerate more than 20 minutes outside when the temperature drops below zero. Be sure to provide a sheltered place for outdoor pets and make sure they have fresh water. Use a heater for water or change the supply frequently.