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County preparing for region’s first snowstorm

Pictured is one of the snowplows operated by the Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities.

MAYVILLE — With Chautauqua County expected to receive heavy snow and ice today and Tuesday, Chautauqua County officials are reminding residents to use caution.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has a Winter Storm Warning in effect through morning. Mixed precipitation is expected with total snow accumulations of six to 10 inches in northern areas and three to six inches near the Pennsylvania state line. Ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch are also expected.

“Drivers should slow down and use caution when traveling on slick or snow-covered roads during the winter,” said Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone. “It is always best to plan ahead and account for extra travel time if you absolutely must drive during adverse weather conditions.”

Drivers are reminded to:

• Postpone or cancel non-essential trips if travel conditions are hazardous and obey travel bans;

• Clean off all snow and ice from their vehicles by making sure snow and frost is removed from the windshield, windows and side mirrors; compacted snow is removed from the wheel wells; and snow is removed from the headlights and taillights so other drivers can see you.

• Reduce their speeds when roads are slick or visibility is reduced, and turn on their headlights so other drivers can see you;

• Keep parked vehicles off the roadways and shoulders of the road;

• Update the emergency kit in their vehicles so it includes a shovel, snowbrush, windshield scraper, reflective vest, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, cell phone charger or battery pack, water, snack food, matches, first aid kit with a pocket knife, necessary medications, blankets, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares, florescent distress flag, and extra hats, socks and mittens;

• Remember to bring a cell phone when travelling so it can be used in case of an emergency;

• Call the Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement agencies to notify them if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road; and

• Keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.

The Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Division of Transportation will also be out plowing and salting county-owned roads.

“While county plow operators are attempting to make our roadways safe, I encourage drivers to please not add to the hazards of wintertime driving,” said Brad Bentley, Department of Public Facilities Director. “Drivers should always use extra caution near snowplows by reducing their speed and keeping a safe distance.”

Drivers are required to stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow. If drivers must pass a snowplow, they should use caution as snowplows can create a cloud of snow that can obscure vision and the road conditions in front of the plow will likely be worse.

The Department of Public Facilities also encourages residents to clear snow from around their mailboxes and inspect and, if necessary, replace their mailbox posts to ensure they can withstand winter conditions. Mailboxes physically hit and damaged by snowplows will be repaired, but mailboxes that break from the force of the snow coming off the plow will not be fixed.

In addition, when clearing your driveway, it is unlawful to push or brush snow into the roadway. This creates a dangerous situation for motorists.

“By giving our area plow drivers room to clear the roads, being respectful and patient when we are travelling behind a plow, and using caution during adverse travel conditions, we can all help create a safe winter driving season,” said George Borrello, Chautauqua County executive. “I also urge residents to check in on neighbors, especially the elderly, who may be more at risk during heavy snow events and frigid temperatures.”

Significant snowfall and the potential for blowing and drifting snow can also increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is referred to as the silent killer because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating. If snow blocks furnace or hot water tank vents, it can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate indoors. At high levels, this gas can cause suffocation, loss of consciousness, brain damage or death.

“It is important that individuals protect themselves and their families from carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure they have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes and by ensuring furnace and hot water tank vents are not blocked by snow,” said John Griffith, Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services Director.

Portable generators can also be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a portable generator inside a home, basement or any enclosed or semi-enclosed structure. It should be placed outside and away from windows and doors of any nearby building.

The Office of Emergency Services also reminds residents to keep their house numbers visible so first responders can quickly locate a home in the event of an emergency. Residents should remove snow from around the numbers in both directions and be sure to use reflective numbers that show up at night.

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