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Polar Vortex to Arctic Air: Extreme temperatures bring extreme risks

The first weekend of 2014 ushered in a so-called polar vortex that put much of the country in the icy grip of sub-zero temperatures. Records were shattered across the nation’s heartland as 187 million people felt the effects of the sub-zero temperatures and even colder wind chills. Not even the South was spared: Georgia, Alabama, and Maryland reported single digits. More than a foot of snow blanketed some areas, adding insult to injury. 

Fast forward a few weeks, and another winter storm packed a punch or much of the country. Snow accumulations of one to three feet, combined with gusting winds made for whiteout conditions and wind chills well below zero. Travel came to a standstill, and several states declared states of emergency, calling out the National Guard. Schools, as well as state and federal offices were closed as crews struggled to make roads passable.

Enough yet? Evidently not. Your Denver accident attorney warns that two more polar fronts are expected to follow this latest arctic blast…and don’t count on that little groundhog to go back into his hole without seeing his shadow. Whether this severe is not just inconvenient, it can be deadly (and that does not include the heart attack we may have when getting our heating bill). When temperatures and wind chills are in negative double digits, frostbite and hypothermia can happen within minutes if the skin is exposed and proper clothing is not worn. Your Denver accident attorney cautions that wind gusts can turn falling snow and/or accumulated snow into a whiteout, causing near-zero visibility. This is what led to the forty-six car pile up–including nineteen semi-trucks–in Michigan City, Indiana, January, 23. Three people died and dozens more were injured.

In addition to frostbite, hypothermia, and auto accidents, all this arctic weather can cause energy problems; power outages and a propane shortage threaten to leave some people without heat. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich declared a State of Energy Emergency in order to allow truckers to drive longer hours to reach their propane and oil suppliers and customers. Parts of Michigan and Indiana are running low on these sources of energy as well. Energy suppliers are advising customers to turn their thermostats down to conserve supplies. In some areas, huge snowfalls have brought down power lines, and with roads impassable, it has taken days for customers to have their power restored.

With possible scenarios such as these, your Denver accident attorney advises that you be prepared. If you normally heat your home with propane or oil and those energy sources are in short supply, buy or borrow a few space heaters to make sure you have an alternative heating source. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, stock up on wood. Prepare for the possibility of power outages by making sure you have flashlights with working batteries (extra batteries would be a good idea to have on hand), candles and either match or a lighter that works, extra blankets within easy reach, wood if you have a wood-burning fireplace, and all cell phones and other electronics fully charged. (Think about investing in car chargers that you may be able to use in an emergency.)

Winters like this one present a lot of challenges and risks. With planning and caution, you can avoid being the next driver caught in a whiteout that ends up in an auto accident, or the next Emergency Room patient with frostbite or hypothermia. For more information, call The Levine Law Firm today.

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