Mother Nature helps Posey celebrate 2014

By Dave Pearce
Just five days into the new year, Posey County was reminded again of the fury that can be associated with Mother Nature.
According to the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., Posey County was under a wind chill warning until 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
The combination of snow and cold led to the advisory. The wind chill warning means that it will feel like 15 to 35 degrees below zero at times. Bitter cold of this magnitude can lead to frostbite in 15 minutes or less. Prolonged exposure may lead to hypothermia or death.
As of late Sunday evening, Posey County was in a area expected to receive from 4 to 6 inches of snow but more seriously, the wind chill advisory.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence directed the Indiana National Guard to stage additional Highway Assistance Teams in response to the heavy snow and low temperatures forecasted across the state.
In addition to the 24 Highway Assistance Teams deployed earlier, 24 more teams are being deployed. These additional teams will go to armories in Fort Wayne, Bluffton, Winchester, Muncie, Kokomo, Evansville, Gary, Valparaiso, Plymouth, Elkhart, and Remington. The teams were to be mission-ready by 10 p.m. on Sunday. Four teams are going to Ft. Wayne. All other locations will have two teams each.
Highway Assistance Teams assist local agencies with life-saving measures. Tasks include rescuing stranded motorists, moving individuals to shelters, and assisting local emergency medical services in reaching individuals who need medical attention. Teams consist of two vehicles, with two guardsmen in each.
With the extra deployments, 48 Highway Assistance Teams are deployed across the state, consisting of nearly 200 Guardsmen and 96 vehicles.
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced the emergency closure of I-94, both eastbound and westbound, between the Illinois state line and the U.S. 421 exit (Michigan City) at around 7 p.m. Sunday evening. Also I-65 is closed, both northbound and southbound, between U.S. 12/20 (Gary) and mile marker 172 (Lafayette). These roadways are closed to all traffic due to severe winter weather that has made some areas and ramps impassable. There is no time frame for when these roadways will reopen.
A full call-out of INDOT plow crews remain on the roads, but conditions are so severe that crews cannot stay ahead of the storm.
According to INDOT officials, all other interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes in the majority of the state are extremely hazardous and most counties have declared red travel warnings advising emergency travel only. Heavy snow, blowing and drifting snow, and white-out conditions should be expected on all roadways. This is a dangerous situation and all are advised to stay home until roadways can be safely cleared.
The early morning snow that continued into the afternoon and evening caused havoc for travelers as the Indiana State Police answered numerous calls for service throughout the Indianapolis District. The Indianapolis District is comprised of Marion, Johnson, Shelby, Hendricks, Hancock, Hamilton and Boone counties.
Beginning Sunday morning at 6 a.m. until 1 p.m., troopers responded to four personal injury and 29 property damage crashes. Troopers assisted with 28 reported slide-offs that did not result in damage. Troopers also responded to 22 calls for service during this time period that were not weather related.
None of the personal injury crashes were serious and no life-threatening injuries were reported.
With the snow accumulation, the Indiana State Fire Marshal is requesting citizens to clear snow from fire hydrants as part of the snow removal for their properties.
“As you’re clearing your driveway and sidewalks, it’s always appreciated when fire hydrants are kept clear of snow,” said Jim Greeson, Indiana State Fire Marshal. “It saves a lot of time when it comes to locating and using a fire hydrant in time of a fire.”
Greeson adds that snow accumulation or the results of plowing and snow clearing can completely cover or restrict access to fire hydrants.
“A blocked hydrant can mean slower response to extinguishing fires and only takes a few minutes,” said Greeson. “Help your neighbors and your local firefighters. A fire hydrant blocked or covered by snow can result in time lost fighting fire and dire consequences to a homeowner or business owner.”
Greeson adds that snow accumulation or the results of plowing and snow clearing can completely cover or restrict access to fire hydrants.
Snow removal tips
• Adopt a fire hyrdrant to keep an eye on.
• Make it a regular part of a snow clearing routing.
• Clear a path to fire hydrants from the road.
• Remove snow from all sides so it is visible from the road, and easily accessible for a fire hose.
Greeson also reminds those removing snow to take frequent breaks and to avoid snow removal until conditions are safe.

State health officials are urging Hoosiers to stay safe in extremely cold temperatures by becoming familiar with the risks and taking precautions. Very cold temperatures, ice and snow can pose hazards both indoors and out. Health officials particularly encourage Hoosiers to stay indoors if at all possible.

“Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause life-threatening health conditions, such as frostbite or hypothermia,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “All Hoosiers should stay indoors now. If you must go outside, be sure to dress in layers, cover your head, face and mouth, and wear a water-resistant coat and snow boots. Never ignore shivering as it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.”

Hypothermia, which is the condition of having an abnormally low body temperature, occurs when a person’s body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to the cold will ultimately use up a body’s stored energy. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well.

Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include:
• Shivering, exhaustion
• Confusion, fumbling hands
• Memory loss, slurred speech
• Drowsiness

If you notice signs of hypothermia, take a person’s temperature. If his/her temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of hypothermia in infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy. Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults and unlike adults, they cannot make enough body heat by shivering. Adults age 65 and older may make less body heat because of slower metabolism and less physical activity. Hoosiers are encouraged to check on older adult neighbors and relatives.

“Babies and older adults are especially vulnerable in these extremely cold temperatures,” said VanNess. ”It’s important for these groups to stay in rooms with adequate heat. I ask that everyone please be mindful of elderly friends and neighbors and check on them periodically to make sure they are safe.”

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and in severe cases, can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

Warning signs of frostbite include:
• White or grayish-yellow skin
• Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
• Numbness

At the first signs of redness or pain, get out of the cold. Seek care from a health care professional immediately if you detect symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite.

For individuals who must go outdoors, Health officials recommend wearing the following items:
• A hat or hood (as most heat is lost through the head)
• A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
• Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
• Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
• Water-resistant coat and boots
• Several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Indoors, take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely and that you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

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