Winthrop Offers Weather Safety Tips for Residents

WINTHROP — With temperatures expected to be significantly below freezing in the forecast for this week and the chance of snow squalls Wednesday afternoon and evening, Winthrop Fire Chief Paul E. Flanagan, who serve as the town’s emergency management director, is reminding residents to review and follow several key safety tips.

Town officials are continuously monitoring the weather and receive regularly updates from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Further information will be released to the public as it becomes available.

The National Weather Service has provided the following forecast information concerning snow squalls and strong winds that may impact this afternoon’s commute, and extreme cold tonight into tomorrow.

From the National Weather Service

While the rain/snow largely ended in time for the morning rush hour, untreated roads will be snow covered and slippery across interior southern New England. In addition, temperatures falling below freezing along the Boston to Providence corridor may result in some black ice. Otherwise, the main focus will be for high impact snow squalls late this afternoon and early this evening followed by bitterly cold wind chills.

High Impact Snow Squalls Between 3 and 7 p.m. this Evening Along With Brief Strong To Perhaps Damaging Wind Gusts:

  • Scattered to numerous snow squalls cross eastern Massachusetts between 5 and 7 p.m. this evening.
  • Brief very heavy snow, near white-out conditions and strong to perhaps damaging wind gusts anticipated. Very hazardous travel for parts of the evening rush hour.
  • Snow Squalls last less than 30 minutes in most locations but drop a quick coating to 1.5 inches of snow. Very localized 2-3″ amounts can not be ruled out in the heaviest squalls.
  • Brief 40 to 60 mph wind gusts possible with the heaviest snow squalls. Localized tree damage/isolated power outages possible.
  • Wind Advisories posted for most other locations in southern New England.

Bitterly Cold Wind Chills Later Tonight into Thursday Morning:

  • Wind Chill Advisories posted along and northwest of the Boston to Providence corridor

“We are sending this advisory to all residents across all of our communications channels because we want to stress the urgency of the situation. Snow squalls can create very dangerous driving conditions with little warning, and extreme wind chills can cause frost bite to unprotected skin in a matter of minutes,” Chief Flanagan said. “Please remember to dress appropriately for the weather and watch for changing road conditions.”

The Winthrop Fire Department asks that residents follow these tips from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:

  • Minimize outdoor activities for the whole family, including pets.
  • If outside, dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs during the coldest portions of the day
  • Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure their safety.Additionally, because of the extreme cold, other areas of your home and vehicles may be affected:

Driving Safety

Avoid driving during the worst part of a storm and use extreme caution during a sudden snow squall.

  • Always clear snow and ice from windows, lights, the hood, and the roof before driving.
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping.
  • Don’t try to out drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Know the current road conditions. Call 511 from your cell phone or 617-986-5511 from either your cell phone or landline phone
  • Brake early and correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Don’t use “cruise control” driving in wintry conditions. Even roads that look clear can have sudden slippery spots. Using your brake on these spots will deactivate cruise control, possibly causing you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Many 4×4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles. This means it takes longer to stop than passenger vehicles. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle. Be wary of your 4×4 vehicle’s traction.
  • Look further ahead in traffic than normal.
  • Trucks are heavier than cars, making their brake time slower. Avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows. Stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.
  • Remember to slow down and always wear your seat belt.
  • Let others know your destination, route, and expected travel times.
  • Allow for extra travel time.
  • Drive with your headlights on at all times to see and be seen.

Other Safety Tips

Increased fire risk due to unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices.

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the area of the water pipe that might be frozen. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources.

  • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as alternate emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.
  • When utilizing alternate heating sources, including a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, make sure chimneys have been properly cleaned and devices are properly ventilated
  • Always operate generators outside and away from your home.

To view more tips from MEMA on extreme cold safety, click here.
More information on winter storm safety can be found here.
Learn additional tips on how to protect your pets here.