SIDNEY — Most Ohioans are counting the days until the first day of spring. Unfortunately, that’s more than a few days away.
“We’re in the third week of January,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “We’re not out of the woods yet. I know Mother Nature has more (winter weather) in store for us.”
Lenhart said 70 percent of the winter weather deaths occur because of weather-related crashes.
“There are 500,000 crashes annually with 2,000 people who die in auto crashes,” said Lenhart.
Weather-related falls also account for 16,000 deaths annually, he said.
Residents preparing to travel — whether it’s to work or on a family trip — should listen to the radio, television and other media for weather updates.
“Make sure you’re car is winterized,” said Lenhart. “You should have all the vehicle fluids filled and travel with your gas tank at least half full. Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.”
If you do get stranded, he said, run your vehicle for 10 minutes at a time and make sure a window is cracked so you don’t get overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. Always keep a snow shovel in your vehicle to help dig it out if you do get stuck.
Additional coats, mittens, gloves, hats and blankets should be kept in the vehicle in case of an emergency. Always have food and water in the car which could last for a 24-hour period.
“Make sure your tires are at the correct pressure,” said Lenhart. “And check your spare to make sure it has air in it. Always use your seat belt when you’re driving.”
And, said Lenhart, watch how fast you are driving the vehicle.
“Slow down when you’re driving in bad weather,” he said. “Make sure you leave additional space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
“We live in an area where black ice can form and you can be on top of it before you realize,” said Lenhart. “Never accelerate quickly or stop quickly on black ice. And don’t use your cruise control in bad weather. If you hit black ice, your tires will spin out.”
Don’t talk on the phone in bad weather and limit changing a radio station when you should be concentrating on driving.
“Everyone knows their way to work,” said Lenhart. “They know the hills and where snow will drift. You should never stop and start or speed up on a hill.
“Always decide on the route you are going to take before starting out,” he said. “And remember it will take you longer to get to work because you’ve had to clean off your vehicle.”
Lenhart said — as sheriff — he made the decision to not use snow levels for the county.
“From north to south of the county lines, you’ll find different weather,” said Lenhart. “The same goes from east to west. The weather will be much different in different parts of the county.
“The majority of Shelby County residents know when they should or should not be on the road. Each person needs to use their common sense when making the decision to go out in the snow.
“Don’t put yourself in harm’s way,”” he said. “Keep in mind the safety of yourself and others.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.