Midwest, East dig out

Disaster responders were seeing the sunny side of the weekend blizzard by Monday afternoon.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | January 24, 2005

Disaster responders were seeing the sunny side of the weekend blizzard by Monday afternoon.

The massive winter storm struck on a weekend, when many people could be off the roads - and the snow was light and powdery, leading to less power outages, roof cave-ins, and other snow-related disasters.

"If this had brought wet and heavy snow, it would have been crippling," said Peter Judge, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

During a blizzard that will go down in history as one of the top five snowstorms for eastern New England, Massachusetts saw the most snow. The heaviest snow fell across southeastern Massachusetts to Cape Cod and the north shore of Boston, where totals ranged from 30 to 38 inches.

Two communities in Massachusetts - Salem and Plymouth - tied for the deepest snow with 38 inches each, according to the National Weather Service.

Winds gusted to 84 mph on the island of Nantucket, and the entire island - off the southeast coast of Massachusetts - lost power on Sunday. By Monday, power outages were down to about 5,000 people in Cape Cod, said Judge. Several shelters were still open in the state.

Some New England coastal communities were told to be alert for flooding.

In New York, both Long Island and New York City saw 28 inches of snow.

New York Disaster Interfaith Services sent an alert reminding people and houses of worship to prepare and to ensure the health and safety of people with special needs.

Elderly people, children, homeless people, persons with disabilities, and others may be especially vulnerable during cold weather.

Parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and northern Ohio tallied a foot of snow.

At least 15 deaths were blamed on the weather: three in Connecticut, three in Ohio, three in Wisconsin, two in Pennsylvania, and one each in Maryland, Delaware, Iowa and Massachusetts. Thousands of airline flights were canceled across several states over the weekend.

The storm's side effects were seen as far south as Florida, which saw its chilliest weather of the season. In the western Panhandle - where hundreds of people are still recovering from hurricane damage - a hard freeze warning was issued, meaning temperatures are expected to fall below 26 degrees for at least five hours.

Keeping warm...safely

House fires and carbon monoxide poisoning occur more frequently in winter, particularly during blizzards when people are using more heating equipment.

Below, some heating and winter safety tips adapted from the New York Office of Emergency Management.

Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use.

Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry.

Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.

Be careful not to overload electrical circuits.

Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every room. Check and change batteries often.

Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Test all detectors at least once a month. Replace batteries twice a year, in the spring and in the fall when clocks are changed for daylight savings time.

Make sure your heating system is kept clean and properly vented; have worn or defective parts replaced.

Have your fireplace, chimney and flue cleaned every year to remove soot deposits, leaves, etc.

Don't heat your home with a gas stove or oven.

Do not use any gas-powered appliance, such as a generator, indoors.

Never use a charcoal grill or a hibachi inside your home.

Automobile exhaust contains carbon monoxide. Open your garage door before starting your car and do not leave the motor running in an enclosed area. Clear exhaust pipes before starting a car or truck after it snows.

Recognize signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. The most common symptom is headache. However, symptoms may also include dizziness, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, people can become increasingly irritable, agitated and confused, eventually becoming lethargic and lapsing into unconsciousness.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, and get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.

What to do if you lose heat

Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while power is out.

If you have a working fireplace, use it for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation.

If the cold persists and your heat is not restored, call family, neighbors or friends to see if you can stay with them.

Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.

Finally...3 simplest tips to stay warm

Hundreds of people get frostbite and hypothermia each year. These may sound like the simplest tips in the world, but are you doing them? And are you ensuring those with special needs are, too?

Wear a hat, hood or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.

Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.

Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.

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More links on Winter Storms


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