Winter weather poses hazards at home, on roads

Take safety measures...

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Village of Homer Department of Public Works crewman Devin Moore checks on the load in a salt truck on Friday at the village garage. Maintaining roads is one of the keys to winter safety.

While wetter, warmer weather is expected for the Northeast, that could spell “icy” and “really dangerous” conditions for January.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that for most of the winter — December through February — precipitation will be greater than average across most of the northern United States. Along the East Coast, warmer than normal conditions are expected as well.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton reports temperatures in the mid-40s for today and chance of rain showers. For Sunday, expect a high of 34 degrees with the chance of snow. Next week temperatures vary from the 30s to the 40s with anywhere from sunny skies to snow showers and even rain.

A mild winter still has its own unique dangers, said William Knickerbocker, deputy city fire chief and director of city code enforcement. The threat of in-between storms could make things icy. “That is worse than flooding I think,” he said. “Before you know it we’ve got wires down everywhere.”

People need to prepare for the change in the weather.

Before firing up any heating system, homeowners should have a professional come in and check things out to make sure everything is working properly, Knickerbocker said. Working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed.

“People need to remember a change in the environment brings a change in the house,” Knickerbocker said.

Living History director Luke Biondi spreads salt on the main entry to the museum on Wednesday to prevent icy walkways.

The American Red Cross also had tips for people to stay safe as temperatures drop and winter strikes, including:

• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm.

• Keep space heaters at least three feet from flammable material.

• Protect pipes from freezing by running water. Open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.

• The kitchen is for cooking, never use a stove or oven to heat a home.

• Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

If snow does strike, Knickerbocker said make sure walkways are clear whether in front of the home or business.

People should also take care when driving in the winter as well.

AAA also had some tips for winter driving safety. Warming a vehicle not in the garage, properly inflate tires, avoid using the parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather and don’t use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.

Knickerbocker said people should equip vehicles with snow tires. “Most people do, now with it spitting snow,” he said.

Winter safety tips

Homer Police Chief Robert Pitman gave some tips for people to stay safe and keep their homes safe for the winter season:

• When the snow starts to fall, he urges drivers to slow down and drive with caution. It is also good to have proper wipers and snow tires.

• Snow can be the biggest indicator of when people go away on vacation, as the snow builds up, indicating no one is home. Pitman said the department will do home checks for residents when they go away.

• He also stated people should be wary of “Porch Pirates” — people who steal packages off porches. Have packages delivered while you are home, or have a neighbor pick them up for you so they are not outside all day.

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