LUMBERTON — Roads throughout Robeson County were brined and grocery store shelves cleared Friday in preparation of hazardous freezing rain expected to hit Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch at 3:06 p.m. Friday that will remain in effect until Sunday at 1 p.m.
Meteorologist say that small accumulations of freezing rain possible and ice accumulations from one-tenth of an inch to one quarter of an inch are possible. The best chance for accumulating ice will exist west of Interstate-95, according to the National Weather Service.
“Small accumulations of freezing rain are possible on elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses which could create hazardous travel condition,” the National Weather Service stated.
Maintenance crews and contractors with the N.C. Department of Transportation applied 13,000 gallons of brine over Robeson County roads Thursday, and finished brining Friday ahead of the storm.
Brine, a cost efficient mixture of salt and water, lowers the freezing temperatures on pavement and helps prevent ice from forming on roads.
NCDOT officials urged motorists to get any food or other supplies they may need, because travel could be dangerous during the storm.
“Our crews and contractors are doing all we can to get ready for this storm and we ask North Carolinians to prepare as well,” said J. Eric Boyette, State Transportation Secretary. “Please make sure to plan ahead because this storm could impact travel around the state.”
Other crews are preparing chainsaws and other tools that will remove any downed trees.
After pre-treating the roads, crews will rest, then switch out brining equipment for plowing equipment to clear the roads of snow and ice for post-storm response.
“After the storm hits, please stay home and off the roads,” said NCDOT Chief Operating Officer Beau Memory. “NCDOT and contractor crews will do the best they can to clear roads as quickly as possible, but we ask everyone to be safe and stay patient.”
Similar to many industries nationwide, NCDOT staff and its contracting crews have been impacted by labor shortages and response times will likely not be as quick as in the past.
NCDOT and the State Highway Patrol plan from Saturday to Monday to tow any abandoned or disabled vehicles, as those could be dangerous for emergency responders and road clearing crews.
The Red Cross urges residents to stay safe and warm by following basic safety and travel tips.
“The best way to stay safe in winter weather is to prepare your home, family and pets before temperatures drop, and snow and ice start to fall,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina. “The Red Cross encourages families to be mindful when heating their homes with space heaters, to dress in layers before going outside, and bring pets indoors.”
HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard, and fatal fires peak in the early morning hours when most people are sleeping. Since Dec. 1, Red Cross volunteers in Eastern North Carolina have responded to 159 home fires and assisted 433 individuals who lost their homes to fire. That’s nearly four families, on average, every night across 53 counties.
Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):
All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
Never use a cooking range, oven, charcoal or gas grill to heat your home.
Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
STAY SAFE OUTSIDE
If you must go outside, protect yourself from winter storm hazards:
Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.
Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.
Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.
If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. About 70 percent of winter deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY
Stay off the road if possible, during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:
Keep in your vehicle:
A windshield scraper and small broom. A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats. Matches in a waterproof container. A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna
An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
Don’t pass snowplows.
Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
If you become stranded:
Stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.
Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.
Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour (or five minutes every half hour). Running the engine for only short periods reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and conserves fuel. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
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