Snow safety: Tips for surviving this weekend’s storm

NEW YORK — A major storm is set to bury much of the tri-state area under snow over the weekend, prompting preparations and safety alerts on Friday.

After a light dusting in New York City early Friday, the tri-state should remain dry until a second storm slams the area Saturday night into Sunday.

The lowest anticipated snowfall accumulations are on Long Island, where 2 to 5 inches could collect, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. NYC should have slightly higher amounts of 3 to 6 inches, and totals only get worse the farther north you go, with as much as 25 inches collecting

The heaviest of the snowfall will be overnight Saturday through the day Sunday. Snowfall forecasts have remained the same with the majority of Upstate set to receive 14 to 20 inches and a portion of the Capital Region receiving up to 24 inches. Snow will linger into Monday with gusting winds causing blowing snow conditions.

Safe Travel

During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to see slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow over the course of the weekend. Drivers are being urged to travel only when necessary and to do so with extreme caution.

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads; turn around and go another way. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Dress for the Season

  • Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  • Always wear a hat or cap on your head since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.

Physical Exertion

Winter storm conditions and cold waves are the deadliest types of weather as cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car can increase the risk of a heart attack.

To avoid problems, remember these tips:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
  • If you feel chest pain -- STOP and seek help immediately.

Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly.

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering

If a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.

Frostbite

People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

  • First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Then get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

Safe Travel

During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to see slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow during the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes, as well as over the course of the weekend. Drivers are being urged to travel only when necessary and to do so with extreme caution.

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads; turn around and go another way. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Additionally, the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars, be extra alert, and remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It's important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 m.p.h., which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions.

Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

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