Winter Weather: Staying Safe in Green Country

TULSA, Okla. — Quick Facts:

  • Green Country saw dangerously cold temps mid-December
  • DOWNLOAD the FOX23 Weather App for breaking weather and the latest data for your area
  • FOX23 talked to EMSA about things you need to know to stay safe

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A cold front brought the wind chill into the single digits starting Saturday morning. The FOX23 Severe Weather Team also tracked light snowfall across Green Country.

The conditions can leave people at risk for hypothermia, exposure and other problems.

Health Risks in Cold Weather

EMSA talked to FOX23 about ways to stay safe as the temps drop. They suggest wearing several layers when people have to go out in the cold. The outer layer should be wind-breaking. Gloves, scarves and hats are also important.

With rain and snow, waterproof and warm shoes are key. If clothing gets wet, it should be changed immediately. EMSA told FOX23 hypothermia can set in even if a person is outside only briefly.

WATCH: EMSA talked to FOX23 about cold weather safety

Signs of hypothermia include: shivering, inability to focus and unconsciousness.

Patients with special medical needs or treatment should make bad road transportation arrangements ahead of time, so treatments are not missed. Staying on top of prescription refills is also an important task.

Tulsa, Broken Arrow Prepare for Winter Weather

City of Tulsa officials told FOX23 the city is responsible for clearing snow and ice from certain segments of the Tulsa expressway system and all main streets.

The goal of the program is to make expressways and main streets safe and passable as soon as possible after snowfall or ice begins.

These resources are available to attain this goal:

67 truck-mounted salt spreaders

47 truck-mounted snow plows (Of the 67 trucks with spreaders, 47 have plows.)

7 4x4 pick-up trucks equipped with snow plows

3 motor graders for use as plows

Approximately 12,500 tons of salt on hand

170 employees (including drivers and support staff)

The spreaders are assigned to 35 specific routes totaling 1,770 lane-miles. Spreading and plowing routes are prioritized based on traffic counts. Once the main streets are cleared and conditions permit, selected residential streets may be treated based upon traffic and steepness.

During winter weather response, the first focus is to clear city arterial streets for emergency responders. After arterial streets are clear, the second focus then moves to residential or collector streets near hospitals, schools and areas with steep hills.

WATCH: Most Tulsa streets in good condition Saturday

CLICK  for every map and route the city uses for arterial streets, collector streets, schools and steep hills.

Broken Arrow officials told FOX23 they will have people on standby and have been preparing for potential winter weather for months.

Salvation Army Prepares for Cold

The Salvation Army delivered more than 4,000 food boxes. They are also taking care of 1,500 seniors and distributing toys and gifts to 10,000 children. Nearly 200 volunteers are participating in the effort.

They brought in extra staff, food and blankets for the cold. They say no one will be turned away.

Officials expect close to 400 people, compared to their average 325 a night.

SEE MORE: Info on Tulsa shelters

The Salvation Army plans to feed seven meals Saturday.

  • Breakfast starts at 7 a.m.
  • Lunches start at 11 a.m.
  • Dinners start at 4 p.m.

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Some are passing out gloves, hats and more at the Salvation Army's Day Center. The 15 family members said they baked 400 cookies for their first year handing out items. They say they want to make it a yearly tradition. Walmart reportedly donated $100 for supplies, but family members said they paid for everything else on their own.

Once the temperature is below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, officials plan to leave the shelters open all day.

Meals are open to anyone who needs to eat.

WATCH: Volunteers hand out cold weather clothes to Tulsa homeless

Staying Safe on the Roads

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Highway Patrol is working to keep the roads safe for any precipitation that falls as the temperatures drop.

They announced new maps available so drivers can check conditions of the roads BEFORE heading out in the winter weather. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE MAP- you may want to bookmark it.

The map allows the user to view current delays, road closings, weather conditions and more. Roadway information for adjoining states is also available by clicking on those states and selecting “more info.”
“We are happy to have this new and improved resource online,” said OHP Capt. Paul Timmons. “With winter weather arriving, we encourage everyone to take advantage of this user-friendly map and prepare for travel accordingly.”
The city of Broken Arrow has 1,500 tons of salt and 900 tons of sand ready for winter weather response.
Avoiding Pipe Problems

Plumbers say nonstop calls have given them issues since temperatures dropped. They say people are not covering their crawl spaces and using poor insulation They said most people don't notice their frozen pipes until there is already a problem.

The American Red Cross has things that residents can do to prevent frozen pipes during the winter cold.

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼" of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

During Cold weather, take preventative action:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Thaw frozen pipes:

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Future protection:

  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.
Stay on Top of Alerts

Did you know the FOX23 Weather app will send you National Weather Service Alerts based on your location?! And you can set favorite locations to track conditions when you travel or where your loved ones may live?

What about possible closings? Some schools, businesses or churches could be impacted by the drop in temperatures and the potential for snow. FOX23 can send you text alerts for closings based on your preferences.