Tulsa Officials Develop Ice Storm Plan

Sunday, January 25th 2009, 6:14 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK -- Emergency officials met Sunday afternoon in Tulsa's Emergency Operations Center, in advance of a possible wintry weather blast.

Officials from the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA), City of Tulsa, EMSA, the Tulsa Fire Department, the Tulsa Police Department, the Metropolitan Medical Response System and Public Service Company of Oklahoma gathered to review the latest National Weather Service data and discuss emergency preparations.

The latest NWS projections call for freezing rain or sleet to begin falling in the Tulsa area around noon on Monday. By 6 p.m. Monday, bridges and overpasses may be slick. Accumulation of ice on roads and other surfaces is likely.

You can track the storms with WARN Interactive Radar and get safety tips in our Storm Zone Section.

You can get the latest WARN Team forecast in the NewsOn6.com Weather section.

Officials urge everyone to spend time Sunday and early Monday planning.

Emergency officials recommend you do the following:

• Restock or obtain a home first-aid kit. Items that should be included are pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin), antihistamines, bandages in assorted sizes, gauze and adhesive tape, an elastic bandage, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, scissors, antibiotic ointment and a first-aid manual. Individuals who require daily medications should make sure they have at least one week's worth of medicine on hand, too.

• If you have a chronic health condition and require dialysis, an oxygen tank or other intensive treatment, make emergency healthcare plans now, as an ice storm could cause disruptions in electrical service. Contact your primary healthcare provider, your insurance company or your medical equipment supplier for help in planning. Also, coordinate with a neighbor who can check in on you daily.

• Check and replace, if necessary, the batteries in all household smoke detectors. Every level of the home should have at least one working smoke detector. Smoke detectors that are wired into household electrical systems should have battery back-ups installed.

• Practice and review your home escape plan. Ensure that all family members understand how to escape in case of a fire.

The Tulsa Public Works Department is preparing now to treat the city's streets. They say trucks will be ready to roll when the precipitation begins to fall. City officials say they have plenty of material on hand to treat the streets.

Significant icing and long-term, widespread power outages aren't expected in the Tulsa area. However, should they occur, Tulsa Public Works officials say you should keep in mind the following information:

• If you need referrals or information, please call the 211 community helpline for information. Do NOT call 911 unless you have a life- or limb-threatening emergency.

• Be cautious when using candles. Keep the flame at least three feet away from cardboard, wood and other combustible objects. Also, keep candles out of the reach of children and pets, and extinguish before leaving a room or falling asleep.

• Heat your home safely. Do not attempt to use your oven or a charcoal grill to heat your home. Generators and other fuel-powered devices should never be operated inside a home or an enclosed space, such as a garage. Unsafe practices could result in a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

• Know and watch for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If anyone in your home experiences these symptoms, step outdoors, ventilate the area and call 911. Anyone who even thinks they might have carbon monoxide poisoning is urged to call 911. During the December 2007 ice storm, more than 100 individuals were sickened by carbon monoxide.

• Do not touch any downed tree limbs, cables or power lines, as they may be electrically charged. Do not attempt to remove limbs yet; trees and power lines are unstable and may fall. Stay away from chain-link fences - energized power lines could activate a fence line throughout a neighborhood.

• Refrain from driving on ice-slicked roads, unless absolutely necessary. If you must travel in inclement conditions, drive slowly and increase your stopping distance. Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power fails, treat all intersections as four-way stops. Pack blankets, water, food items and a phone to take with you.

• The Tulsa Police Department may go on Operation Slick Streets if conditions warrant. Officers won't respond to non-injury accidents; instead, obtain a report form at your local QuikTrip.

• To keep food safe during a power outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Discard any potentially hazardous food, including meats, eggs, dairy products and leftovers that may have exceeded 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen foods in a freezer can normally be kept up to 48 hours without power.

Tulsa's Emergency Operations Center will be staffed with a planning team, starting at 8 a.m. Monday. A full activation will occur, should conditions warrant.