TVF&R’s business is a 24-hour operation and emergencies don’t stop because of winter weather like we are experiencing today. In fact, it’s just the opposite - calls increase. With the forecast calling for winter weather this afternoon and into the weekend, TVF&R crews have prepared their stations to respond.
Since snow began falling in the District around noon today, firefighter medics have responded to 19 motor vehicle accidents on area roads and highways, as well as a host of fire and medical calls.
The current cold weather doesn’t change TVF&R’s mission, but adds to the steps taken to provide effective and reliable emergency response. To help crews safely navigate snowy and/or icy roads, every station has an ample supply of tire chains. The District, with over 100 emergency response units in its 210 square mile service area, has over 400 sets of chains in service – this includes a set for both front and back tires, as well as back-up sets for each engine.
The Fire District also has incident management teams available to help coordinate resources or activate a fire operations center if a significant weather event or other disaster affects the region.
TVF&R urges citizens to use caution on the roads, outside, and at home and follow these winter safety tips:
Allow extra time for travel or avoid it entirely if possible.
- Ensure your vehicle has plenty of fuel.
- Ensure that your vehicle’s brakes, defroster, lights, tires, radiator, and windshield wipers are in good working condition.
- Defrost and remove ice and snow from all windows before driving.
- Adjust—and reduce if necessary—your speed for road conditions. Four-wheel drive does not mean four-wheel braking.
- Increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead and allow more time for stopping at intersections and stop signs. Stopping distances increase when roads are wet with snow and/or ice.
- Keep your attention on the road and be aware of other vehicles. Avoid distractions including cell phones, food, and music.
- Drive with your headlights on, so other drivers can see you.
Slippery walkways tend to generate falls resulting in broken bones and head injuries.
- Stay indoors if possible and avoid slippery sidewalks and steps.
- If you must go out, walk gingerly (sliding feet along icy sidewalks or steps).
- Wear shoes with a thick rugged sole.
- Use handrails, whenever available, on steps.
Prepare for power outages. Gather necessary supplies for your family including flashlights, extra batteries, water, food, blankets, cell phone (vehicle) charger, manual can opener, battery-operated clock, etc. Remember that candles are a fire hazard and should not be used as a light source. Stock up on food and water, as well as necessary medications.
Space Heaters and Fireplace Ashes:
- Space heaters need space. Keep all heaters at least 3 feet away from combustible materials.
- If using your fireplace to heat your home, remember that fireplace ashes can remain warm enough (to re-ignite and start a fire) for several days. To ensure they are completely extinguished, leave ashes in your fireplace for several days or dispose of them in a metal container with a lid, outside your home. Never place ashes in a paper sack or other combustible container.
With extremely cold temperatures, pipes and faucets near or in exterior walls may be at risk of freezing and bursting, resulting in a water problem when warmer temperatures return. TVF&R advises individuals to prepare now by knowing how to shut-off the water to your home in case of emergency and taking the following preventative measures:
- In your home you may have pipes located in the exterior wall because they serve a fixture that is placed against that wall. It may be helpful to open the cabinet doors under the sink to allow warm interior air to warm the wall. You can also leave a trickle of water running from the faucet.
- Exposed pipes in the attic, basement, or crawl space can also be at risk of freezing. Leaving a trickle of water running from a faucet farthest away from the water meter can be helpful. You can also wrap insulating material or electrical wire heating wrap around the pipes. This can be purchased at any home improvement store.
- Never use a propane torch or an open flame to thaw a pipe due to the risk of igniting wood beams, flooring, and other combustible materials around pipes. Hair dryers should also be avoided due to the risk of electrocution.
- In the case of a broken pipe, shut off the water valve and contact a professional plumber or restoration company. They are equipped and skilled to remedy any water damage.
To learn more about ways to prepare your family for a weather event or other disaster, visit http://www.tvfr.com/index.aspx?nid=182