Archive for February 7th, 2013

VT DEM Storm: Please Don’t Asphyxiate in Snowbanks


Mark Bosma
Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Public Information Officer
(800) 347-0488
3:30 p.m.

Snow on the way in Vermont

WATERBURY, VT – The National Weather Service is predicting several inches of snow for all of Vermont starting Thursday night and continuing into Saturday. At this point, NWS says northern sections can expect 5-8 inches and those in southern Vermont could see 8-14 inches.

NWS says the snow should be light and fluffy – a good old fashioned Vermont snowfall. The new snow cover is surely a welcome development for skiers and other winter outdoor enthusiasts; but there are always some things to remember when it snows. Drive safe, check on your neighbors, and otherwise keep yourself from the health hazards that present themselves in even the tamest of storms.

Health and safety

Residents should use caution when digging out. Excessive snow shoveling can cause a range of health problems, from back injuries to heart attack, if not done in moderation. Vermonters should not over exert themselves and should take frequent breaks from shoveling.
Vermonters who are able to help elderly neighbors and others who need assistance in removing snow are encouraged to do so. Residents are also asked to check on the welfare of elderly neighbors and those with special needs during the storm.
The elderly and those with special needs should contact their local power company and local community officials prior to the storm to alert them of those needs in the event of a power outage.
As always, it is advisable to have an emergency preparedness kit on hand with some or all of the following items:
Flashlights and batteries in your home and car;
A battery-powered radio or NOAA weather radio to listen for advisories;
Bottled water; 1 gallon per person, per day is advised;
Non-perishable food for the home and car;
A first aid kit.

Carbon Monoxide risks

It is critical as snow piles up to ensure all outside heating vents are clear of snow. A blocked vent can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home and CO poisoning. Prolonged carbon monoxide exposure can be fatal, so it is imperative that vents be cleared as a blocked vent can create the danger of CO poisoning. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu, but without the fever and may include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. If you suspect that you are experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department for assistance from a safe location.
If power is lost and you run a generator, it is important that the generator is outdoors; an improperly operated generator can lead to CO poisoning; check your owner’s manual before operating a generator.
Also ensure your generator is installed according to manufacturers’ standards; an improperly installed generator can feed back onto power lines, creating a hazard to line workers.

Travel safety

If while traveling you get stuck in deep snow, do NOT let your engine idle if your exhaust pipe is buried. Idling with a buried exhaust pipe also risks carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect that you are experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately.

Other tips for the road
Check road and weather conditions before leaving.
The single most important rule is to drive at a speed that matches the prevailing visibility, traffic and road conditions. The posted speed limits are for dry, clear conditions only.
Be sure to leave yourself plenty of extra room, extend the following distance from other vehicles ahead.
Carry a cell phone and use 911 in case of an emergency, but do not become over dependent on a cell phone.

For road conditions call 511 or visit For other resources call 211.