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Being alert to Old Man Winter

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Thunderstorms then snow showers? If comedian Jeff Foxworthy saw that kind of forecast, he’d probably say, “You might live in Indiana.”

But seasoned meteorologists will tell you to make no mistake. Old Man Winter may be a bit mixed up, but he’s coming.

That’s why Ron Huffman and the Henry County Office of Emergency Management want to help local residents be prepared and informed if and when bad weather hits the area. Recently, Huffman shared information that explains how to sign up for weather alerts and road information; reminders of the local travel advisory system and the do’s and don’ts in case of downed power lines.

Community alerts

Staying informed about weather alerts, road information and areas to avoid is as easy as looking at your cell phone, according to Huffman. Simply text your zip code to 888777. And residents in New Castle, Knightstown, Lewisville, Middletown, Kennard and all of Henry County can receive important messages in times of bad weather by texting a keyword to 888777.

Current Henry County keywords include:

• Town of Knightstown – KNIGHTSTOWN

• Town of Lewisville – LEWISVILLE33

• City of New Castle – NEWCASTLE IN

• Town of Middletown – MIDDLETOWNIN

• Town of Kennard – KENNARD

• Henry County Office of Emergency Management – 33HCOEM

• Henry County Commissioners – HENRYCOUNTY

Users are encouraged to check www.henrycoema.org for new group keywords as they are added.

Local travel advisories

When the landscape is white as snow and black ice hides on the highways, the colors red, orange and yellow are important to keep in mind as local travel advisories are issued.

Red is the highest level of local travel advisory. It is a warning that means travel may be restricted to emergency management workers only. In this type of advisory, residents are to refrain from all travel and obey lawful directions of properly-identified officers if they are caught in the storm.

Orange is the middle level advisory. It is a watch that means “conditions are threatening the safety of the public.” During a “watch local travel advisory” only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended. Emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations.

Yellow is the lowest level of local travel advisory. It means routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation. Individuals should use caution or avoid those areas.

Do’s and don’ts on downed power lines

Huffman stresses that in the case of downed power lines, always assume the line is live and avoid going near it or anything in contact with it.

It’s important to remember a downed power line can energize the ground up to 35 feet away – or, to use a sports reference, just over halfway from home plate to the pitcher’s mound. Never drive over downed power lines or through water that is in contact with them. Never try to move a downed power line with another object.

If your car comes in contact with a downed power line, stay inside the vehicle. 

If your car is contact with a downed power line and you must exit due to fire or another imminent threat, do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time with any part of your body or clothing. Open the door to your vehicle without touching the metal door frame. Jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and so both feet land at the same time.

If you are outside, the safest way to move away from a downed power line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping feet together and on the ground at all times.

More information

More information about Nixle alerts is available by visiting www.nixle.com on your computer or smart phone.