For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Merrimac Police Department Offers Cold Weather and Ice Safety Tips
Guidelines for Heat, Water Pipes, and Elderly Residents as Days Grow Shorter and Temperatures Drop
Ice is NOT Safe for Walking or Skating
MERRIMAC — Police Chief Eric M. Shears and the Merrimac Police Department are committed to the safety, security, and good health of all of its residents, business owners, and visitors.
As the dangerously cold temperatures are upon us, the department would like to remind everyone to stay safe, while offering some useful tips for keeping your home and vehicle in good shape during the cold season.
“First and foremost, we are a public safety agency, and we offer these tips so that all of our residents, visitors, students, and business owners stay safe and warm during this dangerous bout of weather,” Chief Shears said. “Additionally, we ask our residents to please do their part and look out for each other. It’s always a good idea to check on your elderly or ill neighbors, and maybe even shovel their walkways. Together, we can all get through another long New England winter!”
The Departments offer the following tips:
- Never use your oven as a heat source
- Do not use electric or space heaters while sleeping.
- Keep electric or space heaters at least three feet away from bedding or combustible materials.
- Keep stocks of batteries on hand for radios and flashlights in case of a power outage.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Beware of carbon monoxide and stay safe by: never warming up your car in the garage, serving your heating system at least once per year, and making sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
- Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and change batteries twice per year. Make sure smoke detectors are working on every floor of your home.
- During the coldest days, parents are reminded to dress students warmly, in layers, with hats on and exposed skin covered. However, make sure the clothing does not obstruct your child’s visibility as they are crossing the street.
When the snow falls, you can help the Merrimac Fire Department by shoveling out your nearest fire hydrants. Also ensure that your home or business sidewalks are properly shoveled, and place salt or ice melt to prevent people from falling.
When shoveling snow or walking outside for more than a few minutes, dress appropriately, with exposed skin covered, and wear a hat and gloves. Frostbite and strike quickly when temperatures are this low. Also, Do not consume too much caffeine before or during shoveling, avoid getting wet, and take frequent breaks.
ALWAYS clear the tailpipe of a vehicle that is buried in snow BEFORE you start or warm up the vehicle. Failure to do so can be fatal for those inside the vehicle.
Utilities in Town
Merrimac Light & Water Department:
National Grid (Gas) — 800-233-5325
If you live in a rental unit, heat should be set at a minimum of 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees overnight. Residents should attempt to resolve any heating problems with their landlords, but may call Merrimac Inspectional Services at 978-346-0525 if there are unresolvable problems,
To avoid frozen pipes, allow warm water to drip overnight in faucets, ideally from a faucet that is on exterior wall. You may also want to leave cabinet doors open to allow heat to reach pipes that are not insulated.
The Merrimac Police and Fire Departments report that town waterways are NOT yet frozen enough to the point where they would be considered safe for walking or skating, and the departments warn that residents should NOT venture out on the ice.
Lake Attitash, Walker’s Pond, and the Merrimack River have seen scattered icing, but the ice is certainly not thick enough to walk on at this time.
General Ice and Cold Water Safety
• Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.
• Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt to rescue your pet, go for help.
• New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.
• Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weak, or open ice.
• Slush is a danger sign, indicating that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
• Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally 15 percent weaker.
• Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only one inch thick 10 feet away
What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice
• Reach-Throw-Go. If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
• If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.
If you have any questions, feel free to call Merrimac Police at 978-346-8321. If you fear that a neighbor or resident may be in danger, call the police department or dial 911.