Officials offer cold weather advice

With the area getting hit with another blast of extreme cold weather, residents need to be prepared. While forecasts call for little snow, high temperatures of five to 10 degrees with wind chill numbers reaching as low as 15 degrees below zero this morning are a cause for concern.

Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano had some advice when asked for his recommendations for people who have to go out, starting with planning on extra time being involved.

“The cold weather will tend to make the streets a little bit more slippery. Your stopping distance needs to be much more than it is if the roads are clear, especially if it’s that cold and everything will be frozen over. Start your car, let it warm up early and just proceed very carefully,” he explained. “In your vehicle probably the best thing to do that I like to recommend is keep a safety bag. Keep a couple of blankets, a couple bottles of water, maybe some energy bars, things like that just in case you end up stuck somewhere.”

Ortolano added keeping enough gas in your car is important as well.

“Make sure you have a half a tank or more of gas in your car in case you do get stuck somewhere. Make sure the tailpipe is cleared out so you can run your car on and off, on and off, if you do get stuck so you can stay warm until help gets to you,” he stated. “Keep your cell phone charged so if you need help you can call for it.”

Ortolano said the school district normally doesn’t consult with city officials, other than checking on road conditions with the Department of Public Works.

“They may call our desk at times to ask what the weather conditions are, but that is their call … whether school is open or closed,” he added. “If there was a hazard we would notify them immediately.”

Ortolano had more common-sense advice.

“Dress warm, wear gloves, hats, scarves and limit your time outdoors,” he concluded.

DPW Director Tony Gugino was asked if he had concerns heading into the stretch of extreme cold weather.

“No, other than I’m really concerned, as most people are, about people being outside exposed to the air, children, older people, even my co-workers,” he replied. “Other than that, ice, because salt doesn’t work really well after you get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. People should be very cognizant of the fact that even though you see salt trucks out, it may hopefully work, but they must drive with extreme caution because you can assume there will be black ice and that’s obviously a very dangerous scenario.”

Gugino was asked if he had concerns about water mains and lines breaking due to the extreme cold.

“No, we had enough. I don’t want to jinx the guys” he replied.

The best advice available about the extreme cold is to stay out of it if possible.

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