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Beltrami County Emergency Management Participating in 2011 Minnesota Winter Hazard Awareness Week


The week of November 7th-11th, 2011 is Minnesota Winter Hazard Awareness Week, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Each day of the week will feature a different winter weather hazard topic, Beltrami County Emergency Management urges our residents to take a moment to familiarize themselves with the hazards presented on each day.

Monday, November 7th, 2011 – Winter Storms: Minnesota sees a wide range of weather elements, especially in the seasonal transition months. There are a number of extreme winter weather events that can be dangerous, ranging from bitterly cold temperatures to heavy snowfall. Heavy snowfall or ice accumulations can cause travel to become difficult to impossible. Add in some gusty winds, reduced visibility and drifting snow can immobilize cities and isolate rural areas. The worst of winter storms are blizzards, and Minnesota normally experiences several of these storms each season. Pay attention to weather forecasts, if inclement weather is expected, take preparations by stocking up on food to last your household for several days. Have plans for back up heating sources and medical supplies, such as oxygen and medications.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 – Outdoor Winter Safety: Spend one winter in Minnesota and it doesn’t take long to realize it gets cold! Whether you are out enjoying the cold weather, or dreading working in it… keep your safety in mind when outdoors this winter. You should never venture onto thin ice on area lakes until you are certain it is safe to. The Minnesota DNR recommends at minimum four inches of new, clear ice before venturing out on foot. Twelve to fifteen inches of ice is recommended before taking a small truck or car on the ice. Remember to keep the young ones bundled up for the cold temperatures. Be aware of the possibility of hypothermia and frostbite and familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms, start treatment immediately.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 – Winter Fire Safety: The weather may be frightful and the fire delightful, but don’t let your heating source become your national debt. Whether it’s a utility outage or trying to avoid high energy costs, many people attempt heating their homes with alternate heating sources. This can be dangerous if done improperly. Never use an outdoor grill to heat your home, the gases can be poisonous and dangerous to your health. Cooking remains the leading cause of unreported fires and related injuries. Decorative holiday lights can also be a fire hazard. Don’t try to outdo Clark Griswold’s holiday lights, but if you do make sure you don’t overload your power outlets and safely string your lights. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to keep it watered and don’t let it dry out. It takes only a few moments for a dry tree to be completely engulfed with flames.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 – Indoor Winter Safety: Each year as the cooler air moves in, we try to seal off our houses the best we can to avoid letting the heat out. During that process, we are insulating our homes so well that we are reducing the air exchange and could be making indoor hazards like mold and gas build ups worse. Make sure you monitor your air quality in your home. Especially important is to make sure you have your furnace inspected to make sure it is working properly. Many people are killed each year by Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas starts by affecting the body with flu-like symptoms, but doesn’t take long to produce fatal results. Investing in a Carbon Monoxide detector can be a life safer.

Friday, November 11th, 2011 – Winter Driving: Having a good set of snow tires on your vehicle or four wheel drive may give you a little advantage on the road, but don’t over drive your ability to handle your vehicle. A number of roadway hazards can cause you to lose control in an instant. Be alert for black ice, blowing and drifting snow, and other vehicles. Travel with a winter survival kit. Several examples are available online, simply search “winter survival kit”. If you plan to travel in winter weather, make sure your cell phone is charged. Familiarize yourself with your location at all times if you ever have to call for help. Call your destination ahead and let them know your expected arrival time. Listen to and comply with travel restrictions and advisories. Those big yellow and orange snowplow trucks with bright flashing lights aren’t that hard to miss, but each year dozens of accidents occur with snow removal equipment. Stay back and give them room to work.

Christopher Muller

Assistant Emergency Management Director/911 Communications Team Leader

Beltrami County Sheriff's Office

613 Minnesota Ave NW

Bemidji, MN 56601



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