Community

Safety officials in the Louisville area are asking residents to prepare for a potentially dangerous ice storm. The expected ice and snow could mean power outages, impassable roads and other problems.

Kent Barrow, Emergency Management Director in Floyd County, Ind., said people should charge their cell phones, locate blankets and flashlights, and stock up on necessities in case they have to spend a few days without power.

“They should have plenty of food that they don’t have to prepare or anything like that,” Barrow said. “Make sure their medication or prescriptions are filled and they’ve got plenty of medication. If they’re on oxygen or O2, things like that they need to have, make sure they have extra spare bottles of oxygen. Plenty of drinking water.”

Barrow urged residents to take precautions when using a generator in the event of a prolonged power outage. Improper generator use can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Residents should set up generators at a safe distance outside their homes and monitor carbon monoxide levels.

Barrow said ensuring generators are connected properly is critical for the safety of residents and emergency workers alike.

“A lot of times, those generators are hooked up incorrectly and they backfeed the lines, which causes an issue to the power company when they go to reconnect the power,” he said. “They think it’s off or dead, and it’s not, which could cause injuries to the power company employees. So people need to make sure they’re doing things the right way.”

The wintry weather could lead to dangerous conditions outside and on the roadways. Once the storm clears the area, residents should avoid going near trees and power lines, since the accumulated ice could cause them to fall.

Brian Smith, a safety and risk manager for the City of Jeffersonville, asked residents to stay off roads to avoid accidents and clear the way for emergency crews.

“If the forecast holds up and we get the amount of ice that we’re going to get, it’s going to be very, very difficult for our emergency road crews to stay on top of it and clear the ice as fast as it’s going to be coming down,” he said. “We need to give them an opportunity to do their work and get to all the areas they need to. The ice is going to slow them down anyways, so the less traffic on the road, the fewer people that have to weave in and out of, the better.”

Temperatures are expected to drop late Wednesday night, with ice accumulations starting Thursday.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.