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Winter is coming. Here are tips to make it through safely

Cleveland Pick Up Truck Plow Gabriel Kramer February 2022.jpg
Gabriel Kramer
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland officials urged residents to be prepared for winter, including using the online snowplow tracker to check on road conditions.

Cleveland officials say they're prepared for the winter season and they want to make sure residents are prepared to stay safe.

Safety and health officials hosted an online briefing Thursday, addressing fire and road safety, airport travel and cold weather-related illnesses.

Lt. Mike Norman of the Cleveland Fire Department talked about the dangers of cooking while distracted or intoxicated during holiday gatherings.

“We know people will be coming to the door, so if you’re cooking on the stovetop take something with you if you go to answer the door, an oven mitt or a ladle,” he said, “Just something to remind you that you are cooking.”

Norman also said it is important to an eye on space heaters and anything else that produces heat. For example, he said that burning fires and running cars can produce carbon monoxide, which is a deadly gas.

“The trick is to make sure those gasses are being vented out,” Norman said. “That the vents above your hot water tank and furnace are venting directly to the outside.”

He said smoke detectors are a must: “Smoke alarms should be located on every floor of the house, and anywhere that people sleep.” Cleveland residents can call 216-361-5535 for smoke alarm installation, he said.

Frank Williams, the director of public works, said the city's online snowplow tracker will be in operation again this year on the Division of Streets’ website.

“The snowplow tracker is only active during snow events and reports information on a 15-minute delay,” he said. “It shows where we have been, but should not be an indicator that everything is in good shape already. It does take time for roads to recover after service.”

The city has 82 trucks in its snowplow fleet, with 24 supplementary trucks to help in emergencies, he said.

Route optimization will be used to clear streets in the most efficient way possible, Williams said. The division is also working on better ways to clear allies and roundabouts this season, he added.

Sgt. Dennis Lally of Cleveland's Bureau of Traffic said car maintenance is especially important in winter time. He recommended new tires if needed, using headlights when windshield wipers are in use, and making sure gas tanks are at least half full to prevent fuel line freeze-ups.

“If you do breakdown, we want the vehicle to be seen, so keep your lights on,” he said. “If you have to be suck for a while, you want to turn your car on and off to keep enough heat in your car to stay warm, and make sure you don’t have your tailpipes blocked with snow or ice.”

Michele Dynia, communications and customer service manager of Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, said travelers should always check on the status of their flight before leaving their house.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about flying is that if the weather is clear here at the airport, then your flight will take off,” she said.

Actually, inclement weather at a destination airport may cause a flight to be delayed or cancelled, Dynia said.

Christopher Chapin, Cleveland EMS interim deputy commissioner, said being prepared for cold weather is key.

“The best method to treat cold emergencies is to prevent them from happening,” he said.

Chapin said proper clothing and limiting time in cold temperatures are important to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. He also urged people to check on elderly neighbors and young children, as they are the most vulnerable to cold weather illnesses.

Jenna Bal was a news intern at Ideastream Public Media from January 2023 to May 2024.