It’s Winter Weather Awareness Day in Oklahoma and a good time to work on your pre-winter preparedness. It won’t be long until the consistent freezing weather, snow and ice will be in the forecast, so make plans now on how to survive them.
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a governor’s proclaimed naming the day. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, National Weather Service and other state and local agencies are sharing information to help the public prepare for the winter season.
State officials said last winter’s blizzards were strong reminders that we need to have our homes and vehicles, as well as our families and pets, ready to meet cold-weather challenges.
Weather officials said that “during the Christmas blizzard, record snowfall required stranded motorists to be rescued by the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local first responders.
“The experience of those stuck in the cold for long hours during the blizzard last winter should drive home the need to always prepare,” OEM Director Albert Ashwood said. “Having a blanket, emergency food and water, a flashlight, a well charged cell phone and a full tank of gas would have made a big difference for many of those awaiting rescue on Oklahoma roadways.”
The state officials remind you that if you have to travel in heavy snow or ice, you should allow extra time and “be particularly cautious on bridges and overpasses as they will be the first to freeze.”
Remember that “travel conditions can rapidly change. Drivers who must travel in these conditions are urged to drive slowly during snow or ice storms and to plan extra time for their travel. ODOT crews report they are ready for this upcoming winter season.
“Statewide, our salt and sand supplies are fully stocked, and more than 500 trucks are available to clear snow and ice from highways and interstates,” ODOT Director of Operations Casey Shell said. “During our clearance operations, we ask that drivers stay at least 200 feet behind our equipment, for both their safety and the safety of our crews.”
At home, be sure you have adequate weather stripping and insulation. Keep your furnace clean and ready to use. Make sure your pipes are protected against freezing temperatures.
“By following some simple tips and monitoring your local weather during times of severe weather, Oklahomans stand their best chance at not becoming a victim,” said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS office in Norman.
He also reminds everyone that information regarding hazardous winter weather, including watches and warnings, is available on the NWS website at http://www.weather.gov, on NOAA Weather All Hazards Radio and on local radio and television stations.
You can sign up to receive OEM’s weather alerts and receive NWS watches and warnings on your cell phone or other email address at http://www.ok.gov/OEM/.
Go to knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma to find more ways to get ready for winter.
The countdown is on to Halloween, which brings to mind some “costume ground rules” for trick-or-treating … in our neighborhood, at least, next Monday.
More specifically, at our door.
* First and foremost, no politician costumes, please. We get enough political calls at home (despite being on the no-call list for years) and see enough of those who have announced, or are still deciding on whether to run for office. They get their air time, paid and/or free. Don’t expect any handouts at our house.
Kids who want treats while we have them (providing an above-mentioned politician doesn’t clean out the bowl before the rest of the crowd gets there) just need remove their masks at the door.
* No resemblances to terrorists, please. The guy down the street will be glad to “visit” with anyone who is dressed as a member of a terrorist group. He dishes out more than candy, by the way. Be prepared.
* No Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M uniforms, please. (Might want to add Missouri to that list.) There’s a definite pro-Big 12 Conference flavor to our neighborhood, except for the one LSU fan who hasn’t figured it out yet. A&M costumes will be appreciated at his house.
* No NBA owners, please. You should be giving out the treats rather than taking them. That’s what the guy with the season tickets to Thunder games tells me.
* No aliens, please. This one is kind of tough and might be negotiable. We love to make contact with intelligent lifeforms … no matter where they’re from.
Meanwhile, check http://knowit.newsok.com/edmond, http://knowit.newsok.com/midwest-city, http://knowit.newsok.com/norman, http://knowit.newsok.com/oklahoma-city and http://knowit.newsok.com/yukon for ways you can make this a safer Halloween for the little ones.
There are some visitors you just don’t want. Especially when they are green, with four long legs, antennae and bulging eyes.
Before you think I’ve lost it entirely and am seeing aliens … let me assure you, I’m not.
I haven’t been hitting the bottle, I’m not smoking something funny, I don’t shoot up and I don’t snort … other than in my sleep, or if I get real tickled.
I’m talking about grasshoppers. Big, fat, juicy ones. The kind that leap off the lawn furniture, flutter their wings, then land on you and attach to your clothing. They can grasp the material so tightly that they become very difficult to remove.
They can be quite a nuisance. A plague. It says so in the Bible. I’ve read it.
When I heard and read recently that the current drought was causing these generally rural creatures to change their addresses and move into the cities, looking for food, I wasn’t all that concerned. We live far enough in, I thought, that it wouldn’t be a problem. Besides, I hadn’t seen a grasshopper at our house in, well, I couldn’t remember when.
That all changed this morning.
Around dawn, I went out onto our patio and deck to get a feel for the weather conditions as I got ready for work. It was still a bit dark, with only the slightest of light in the east, so I turned on the patio light before I walked outside.
I took three or four steps out onto the deck, then spotted something on the corner of the swing. When I got closer, I noticed the eye and the movement of the antennae. Then, the whole body turned … toward me.
I checked around, but didn’t see others. One grasshopper an army does not make. It’s not time to head to the local lawn and garden store to purchase a spray. No need to break out the flamethrower. They’re not filling the air as they assault my lawn or outdoor plants.
But I’m going to keep an eye on the situation. I just hope I don’t dream about grasshopper invasions.
Read more about the grasshopper situation, and about Oklahoma’s weather conditions, by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma
It has become one of the most feared words of the summer in our state: wildfire.
Thousands of acres of dry Oklahoma landscape have burned the past three months, including the parched vegetation that was destroyed or damaged last weekend. Forecasters say precipitation possibilities don’t look much more favorable — if at all — for the next two or three months.
There may be rain, but don’t expect there to be enough of it to end the severe drought conditions that have turned much of the state into a disaster area, weather officials say.
That’s not good news, and it requires all of us to exercise more caution when handling anything that could spark or accelerate a fire outside.
At least one of three wildfires last weekend likely originated with cigarettes, investigators say. A fire north and east of Edmond that began Thursday and rekindled a couple of times was almost certainly due to discarded smoking materials. That blaze destroyed seven homes and heavily damaged several others, as well as outbuildings and other items.
Fortunately, there were no deaths or serious injuries.
Firefighters also battled blazes near Asher, Mannford and Cleveland, OK, that required assistance from the Oklahoma National Guard, which provided water drops.
The fire near Asher burned several hundred acress, while a large blaze near Mannford spread through more than 2,000 acres.
Drought conditions and excessive heat have combined to put Oklahoma in this danger zone, weather officials said. The National Weather Service on Monday issued a fire weather watch for 47 counties in western, central and easter Oklahoma. This includes four of the state’s most populous counties: Cleveland and Oklahoma (Oklahoma City metro area), Tulsa (Tulsa metro), Comanche (Lawton and surrounding area) and Garfield (Enid area). It also included Jackson (Altus area), Kay (Ponca City area) and Pittsburg (McAlester area).
The weather service says the fire weather watch was issued because southwest winds of 20 mph with gusts of up to 30 mph were possible. These conditions can help a fire spread rapidly. Meanwhile, all of the state remains under a burn ban, barring outdoor burning that is not in a contained fixture.
Many cities and towns also are under water use guidelines, such as those around central Oklahoma that use Oklahoma City water. These locations are on an even-odd system — watering allowed on even days for even-number house addresses; odd days for odd-number addresses.
But fire prevention remains a need for all. A casually discarded cigarette can cause a massive, destructive fire. A spark from an outdoor fire torch or pit can start a large blaze.
We all can help avoid these situations by doing our parts.
See more on the fire problem and Oklahoma’s severe weather situation by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma
We thought we had seen her for the last time. Our son’s aging golden retriever was missing. Her arthritic hip, poor hearing and bad eyesight certainly weren’t in her favor. Plus, with temperatures consistently at or above 105 degrees, we knew she was going to have to have water to survive.
It didn’t look good when we learned she and her much-younger playmate — a sleek, black, lab mix — had made their escape from our vacationing son’s backyard. How they got out remains a mystery. There was no sign of digging, no boards gapped wide enough they could get through, no short fences to jump over, and the latch on the side gate was closed. The only thing for certain was that they were gone.
The golden had been a part of our lives for 12 years. Our son got her as a pup, and I can still remember when he brought her home. She was a long-legged, active, slobbering but incredibly friendly puppy that loved to be right up against you and wagged her tail rapidly at any sign of attention.
Early on, she had a tick problem, resulting from the rural setting in which she was born. But repeated treatments and baths, which she actually never seemed to mind, did their job. Our granddaughter, little more than a toddler at that point, named her. The reddish-blond, golden retriever became “Blue.”
If you’ve ever had a golden, you know that they love people. Blue was no exception. And as she grew bigger, she became even more so. If you were on the floor, or anywhere she could get near you, you could count on her being there. And a dog that large puts off lots of heat. No problem in colder weather, but in the summer months, she could be quite warm.
She loved attention, loved to play. She loved to mother smaller dogs, letting them crawl over her as she laid on her side and using her big paws to playfully knock them around or cuddle them.
It wasn’t long after son and his family moved to their new house that they got the lab mix. This pup was more active than Blue, who was beginning to show signs of her age. The “newcomer” — Micco — also was very curious. It may have been that curiosity, years later, that led to the disappearance.
A friend who had been feeding and watering them, noticed that they were missing. Throughout the day and into the night, we searched unsuccessfully. We made signs describing the pair and giving our phone number, placing them with other such notices in the area. But we feared the heat would take its toll, particularly on the older Blue.
The next morning, the phone rang. It was a man named Bennie, who lived about a half-mile from our son’s home, who had seen one of our signs. He asked if one of the dogs was named Blue, which he had seen on her collar. He said he had found them about 36 hours earlier, wandering down the street.
After getting the pertinent information, I drove over and got the story from Bennie and his wife, Suzie, two wonderful people who love animals. They had cared for the dogs, cleaned them up, fed and watered them, while repeatedly calling the owner’s number. Bennie said that when he saw the sign, he knew it had to be the two dogs they had found.
When they opened their side gate and we called their names, the “escapees” came running. They were ready to go home and I think they realized this “adventure” was over.
We’re very thankful Bennie and Suzy found Blue and Micco. It was our good fortune to have people who care about animals find them. And, as I told them, it made some people very happy to know their pets were safe.
You sure can get attached to a pet, even if it isn’t yours.
Learn more about pets and how to take care of them at http://knowit.newsok.com/pets-Oklahoma
I’m beginning to think I don’t ever want to retire. Seriously. Life may be more enjoyable — and safer — if I keep working.
I’m heading back to work Monday, and none too soon. This vacation has been anything but relaxing.
It began peaceful enough. At least, for the first seven hours. That ended with a sales call I knew I shouldn’t have answered. But when it’s shortly after dawn and you are still groggy from sleep, you don’t always make the right decision … like picking up the phone.
Oh, well. That got me up and moving. I actually got a few inside chores done that day and the next while trying to limit outside activities to cooler times of the day … or, night, when temperatures dropped to the mid- to high 90s.
But then things began to happen.
Early on day three, I decided to do some trimming outside along the fence and around the walk and driveway. It only took a couple of hours. But that afternoon, whether due to the heat or some bug I picked up, I began feeling bad. And it got worse, and worse.
By nightfall, I was unable to stay up any length of time. Lying or sitting down with glass of iced tea and a good fan was my favorite activity.
That carried into the next day, when I could only get out of bed long enough to get a drink of water or head to the restroom.
Next came a plumbing problem, necessitating a trip to the hardware store to get a new flush kit. Meanwhile, the lid on the toilet tank fell onto the floor and shattered into about five large pieces, with several chips and shards, of course.
We had talked about possibly using some of my time off to visit family, maybe even those in Kansas City. But the high temperatures have been making life miserable there, too. Plus, I’m a firm believer in not spreading your sickness to those you care about.
Scratch one trip.
The next day, while feeling a bit better, I tried to move a couple of things in the garage and strained my back. One of those strains that makes you sick to your stomach, which I already was. Oh, joy.
I gave it until the following day, when I felt like I finally might get a break. I did — a break in the windshield on my pickup. Apparently, it took a small rock that hit it just hard enough to start a crack.
I tried to arrange for a service job, but could do no better than two days later. Time to park it and wait. I wasn’t exactly feeling like going anywhere anyway.
Trying to take it easy and not do anything to cause more problems, I figured a short trip to the store wouldn’t cause any more damage … other than to the bank account.
As we were checking out, my little finger got caught in the metal basket on the grocery cart.
On my last day off, the service man came out to look at the windshield and hopefully stop the crack from advancing. His verdict? Nope. Couldn’t fix it. The crack was now too long. A windshield replacement is ahead.
So, with sore back and stomach, a cracked windshield, a topless toilet tank and a discolored little finger, I’m ending this vacation. I need to get back to work to get some rest.
There’s more to our “know it” communities than news about Edmond, Midwest City, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon, and there’s an open invitation to you to become part of it.
Each of these communities has other cities and towns nearby. Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and another begins, and.or there is overlap. We set up the online communities to include them.
“Why didn’t you just use north, south, east and west?” a reader once asked me.
We needed a focal point, a center for each coverage area. Problem was, we still had some equally (or nearly as) large cities close enough in some areas that it almost required a double-emphasis name. For instance, Edmond and Guthrie; Midwest City and Del City; Norman and Moore; or Yukon and Mustang.
There also are those who believe that Bricktown is almost a city within itself … and within Oklahoma City.
So why didn’t we put together separate “know it” communities for each of them? For now, it’s more manageable, more functional to do it this way. Will that change in the future? We’ll see. Just about anything is possible.
We do have a “play position,” or key story on the page for each community. That allows us to emphasize a story from any of the cities and towns in that area. You might have a big event occurring in Guthrie or Piedmont in the lead position in “know it: Edmond.” Or, it might be a critical city council meeting in Moore that leads “know it: Norman.” The top story for “know it: Yukon” might be something big in Mustang.
You see how it works.
But there’s more. You can contribute to the coverage for your area.
If you’re looking for a way to get the news out about an upcoming event, deliver a word of praise, or perhaps an update or follow-up is needed to those in your community. Here’s a possibility for you. Our “know it” geographical communities can help.
Need some help getting the word out about your upcoming event? Maybe you want to say “thanks” to an individual or group. Or, it could be that you need to send an update or reminder about a community happening.
Our “know it” geographical communities can help.
Readers can use Twitter feeds to get their messages out in the five “know it” online communities — Edmond, Mid-Del, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon. These include the surrounding area for each city.
Each community has a specific hashtag, similar to other web tags, that helps add personal messages, or “tweets,” to a category. Hashtags have the “hash” or “pound” sign preceding them.
The specific hashtags for the “know it” communities are:
- Edmond area — #knowedmond
- Mid-Del area — #knowmwc
- Norman area — #knownorman
- Oklahoma City area — #knowokc
- Yukon area — #knowyukon
The tags also can be added to other hash tags, such as #NewsOK or #okpreps.
Each “know it” community features a special area titled “NEWS SUBMITTED BY YOU,” where information such as news releases can be added.
To use that area, the reader creates an e-mail with a document or photo attached, then sends it to the address for the particular community:
Here are some tips for using this feature:
- Add the e-mail address to your list of those who normally receive your news. (The other e-mail addresses will not appear online.)
- Send your information and/or photos as a SINGLE ATTACHMENT to your e-mail. (PLEASE NOTE: Text from the e-mail will not appear online. An attachment may be a WORD document [.doc], a text file [.txt], a portable document [.pdf], or a jpeg picture [.jpg].)
- The subject line will be your headline, so be specific about what is most important that you want to emphasize. Example: Cross Timbers Elementary plans open house on Tuesday.
- Avoid punctuation and ALL CAPS in your subject line, but do capitalize the first letter of the first word and all formal titles.
- Remember to tell others about this service!
All sites can be accessed by going to http://knowit.newsok.com.
Editors and reporters consider information submitted for possible use in other sections.
Each community link is a “window” into that city and area, its offerings, its people. These are living, growing communities online, just as they are in real life. We continuously look for new information to add to them, in addition to the items that flow there from The Oklahoman reports.
The design is such that readers can glean a wealth of information about their community, quickly and efficiently, by simply clicking on the topic, ranging from stories to facts and figures on people, services and locations.
It’s all here for you.
A couple of days before the long Fourth of July holiday weekend and a few reminders that just might help you have a safe time and save some time.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, along with county and municipal law enforcement, will be watching closely for those who have been drinking and are driving. That extends past the highways and into Oklahoma lakes as well. So, boaters beware.
Also, on the roadways, you had better have your seat belt on, and, in the water, have your life preserver.
As far as travel, check The Oklahoman and NewsOK for roadwork sites to be aware of, and be especially patient on south Interstate 35 north of the Red River.
In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said: “Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation report significant weekend traffic backups on I-35 this summer at Marietta near the Texas border, particularly Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Tie-ups are much less frequent during non-peak times, such as mornings and weekdays.
”In addition to the caution normally expected of drivers in and near work zones, motorists are asked to expect delays of at least one-half hour during peak travel times in this area. Delays are often longer in the event of collisions.
“The construction zone can be avoided by using an alternate route such as U.S. 77, which runs parallel to I-35 throughout most of the state. Other possible alternates include U.S. 69/U.S. 75, U.S. 81 and U.S. 377.
“A six-mile stretch of highway is being reconstructed in the area. The $13 million project is expected to continue until mid-October. However, incentives are being offered for early completion. All ramps remain open.”
ODOT is not kidding, folks. I traveled through that area a couple of weeks ago and it was just as described.
Weatherwise, it should be hot, so have plenty of water and plenty of sunscreen. You’re going to need it.
And lastly, be careful, with fireworks or any other activity. Make it a happy, safe celebration.
For a list of holiday activities, go to wimgo.com and entered a date and/or location. For additional information, go to:
Have a great holiday.
Having GOOD neighbors can sure make life better. But having GREAT neighbors makes it downright enjoyable.
We’re fortunate in that we have some GREAT neighbors, and we try to be the same for them. They’ve been there for us when things have been tough and we’ve helped them when times were tough as well.
We’ve all pitched in when we there has been a need, large or small. Sometimes it’s something as small as helping move a heavy piece of furniture, while other times it might be car repairs.
It’s even enjoyable taking turns mowing each other’s front lawn, though we do limit the patterns of the mowing to reasonable and acceptable ones.
We’ve taken turns preparing meals to share, or gone together to reduce the load. I can’t remember a one of them that wasn’t delicious. Sometimes we go to a restaurant together and we’ve treated each other on occasion.
We’ve taken turns being driver and passenger on excursions together. Sometimes, we have a backseat driver, who usually is reminded — with respect, of course — that he or she fails to signal from time to time, too.
We’ve attended events together through the year, from recitals to sports events to concerts and beyond. Sometimes they are close to home; sometimes they require a drive (see taking turns being driver and passenger above).
Sharing lives is definitely a key part of the relationship.
We’ve shared special memories with our neighbors, particularly when they involved our children. We’ve watched the children grow and reach various milestones. Only parents, family and close friends know just how important it is when a little one can “go poddy” on their own.
We’ve had holiday get-togethers for years, from block parties to family events that we are invited to, because we’re considered family. We know we are.
There have been sad times, particularly when one family of the other has lost a loved one. Great neighbors give support when it’s needed.
But there have been good times. Many of them. There’s a comfort, a warmth, a secure feeling that comes from knowing you’re with those who want to be with you.
Rain or shine, cold or hot … makes no difference when you have family and friends … and great neighbors.
When the heat is on, it can be downright dangerous.
High temperatures and directly sunlight can cause extreme health problems, especially for those who aren’t used to them.
Here is a collection of tips from various health agencies that can help you survive during hot weather:
Cool down: Remember to close curtains and windows in the morning to keep the sun and heat out of your home. Opening windows and doors at night can help cool inside temperatures. Turning off electric lights, or turning them down, will save money, as well as reduce the heat. In extreme heat, if you don’t have air-conditioning, leave your home and go to a cool, safe place, such as a senior center or shopping mall.
Avoid the heat: If any way possible, stay out of direct sun and heat. Try to spend as many hours as you can in a cool location. Minimize your physical activity. Cool baths or showers can bring body temperature down. Use cool towels. Whenever possible, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and/or natural juices. Health officials advise that cool drinks help to replenish fluid losses due to increased perspiration in high temperature. You should drink at least six to eight glasses of fluids daily. But avoid alcohol and caffeine, which cause the body to lose more water. Health officials advise keeping a few bottles of water in your freezer or freezer compartment. If you should lose power, move them to the refrigerator and keep the doors shut.
Eat right: When preparing food, fix easy, cool, light meals. Health officials recommend fresh vegetable salads, tuna and meat salads, fresh fruit mixtures, whole-grain products and cheeses, all of which can produce cool, nutritious summer meals. Remember that hot foods, such as soups, casseroles and other products served hot, can make you warmer. You should avoid using your oven during high heat, if any way possible.
Buddy up: Family, friends, or neighbors can be life-savers in high heat. Develop a personal support network, a buddy system of people who will check in with you at least twice a day during extreme heat periods. Work with them on how you can help each other in an emergency.
Be prepared: Most medicine will be OK in a closed refrigerator for at least three hours, so ask your doctor about any prescription medicine you keep refrigerated. Avoid using salt tablets, unless directed to do so by a physician.
Pet help: Dogs, cats and other pets affected by high temperatures need shelter and water. They also should have proper food.
Other items: Keep a battery-operated radio on hand to hear news reports. Have a flashlight handy for lighting and con’t forget extra batteries. Don’t use candles. They are fire hazards. Also remember that cordless phones may not work during power outages. Keep a corded phone nearby or plugged in to another jack.
Watch for signs: Heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion can come on quickly. Call 911 if you or anyone you know needs medical attention.