Welcome to winter! As we transition into a New Year, a blast of frigid air, snow and ice have descended upon us. So far we are not seeing the amount of snow we saw a few years ago but the extreme cold we are experiencing makes for some unique challenges.
A pre-Christmas weekend ice storm and a Christmas Day snowfall forced our DPW crews away from home and into their trucks plowing and salting roads. The freezing rain kept washing away the salt on December 30th making it hard to get rid of the ice. The Christmas Day snow made for a picture perfect holiday but it meant DPW staff spent the bulk of the day plowing and not home celebrating the holiday with family. And as the extreme cold weather continues we are dealing with frozen pipes and other breakdowns.
The DPW staff work hard to ensure the roads and sidewalks are passable. Their efforts are much appreciated, especially given the long hours and disruption to family life that the demands of the job require. Residents can help ease some of the work load by remembering not to plow driveway snow out into the roadway and by assisting with keeping sidewalks in front of your home clear. And a “thank you” is always nice to pass along if you meet one of the crew.
During these cold spells you should take extra precautions to avoid water problems. Keeping a cold faucet running a pencil thick stream can help avoid a freeze-up. Making sure cabinet doors under a sink are open to allow better heat circulation, especially for pipes on outside walls can help as well. Any extra insulation and/or heat tapes you can place on these pipes will guard against freeze-ups. These are just a few examples of what you can do to keep water flowing. A simple search on the internet will uncover more.
If winter storms take out power and the temperatures remain cold, the Town will open up the high school as an emergency shelter. A reverse 911 call will announce the opening of the school as a shelter if this becomes necessary. If you must leave your home without heat be sure to turn off the main water supply and drain pipes as best you can to prevent water pipes from bursting and causing extensive damage to your home. Again, more complete winter storm preparation tips are available on-line.
Of course, even being well prepared does not prevent incidents altogether. Last weekend a chemical feed line at the Town’s water treatment plant broke. Fortunately, the safety features at the plant include a chemical containment area thus the leaked chemical was all collected within the concrete basin where the chemical storage and feed system resides. No release to the environment occurred and there was no external damage. The water plant remained in operation and water quality remained high. It was good that the back-up safety system was in place, illustrating the value of pre-emergency planning that minimizes the impacts of an incident.
Stay warm during this cold spell and take time to ensure you guard against cold weather problems.