Hamilton County clears away 6 inches of snow, prepares for extreme cold

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by Megan Trent

CARMEL, Ind. (January 6, 2015) - In some parts of Hamilton County, more than six inches of snow fell overnight, and now residents are preparing for a stretch of extremely cold temperatures.

The Carmel Street Department has about 5,600 tons of salt in storage, with the option to purchase an additional 6,000 tons if needed. City officials say an average of 6,000 tons of salt is used during a typical year. Last year, however, several big snowfalls led the city to use about 9,000 tons of salt.

“We put a lot of resources and time and effort into making certain that our streets are clear and passable and as safe as possible," says Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard.

He says crews were out pre-salting intersections, bridges and hills before the snow ever started. Carmel has 20 salt trucks, and there are an additional 72 trucks, mostly city employee vehicles, that have plow blades added to them.

“We put blades on them and they do our 900+ cul-de-sacs," says Brainard. "They can actually maneuver better in those cul-de-sacs than the big snow plows and salt trucks can.”

Different chemicals have to be mixed with the salt when temperatures dip below 15 degrees, says Brainard. He says the cold weather is also hard on the salt trucks and plows.

“The cold temperatures do create a lot of problems for the plows – mechanical problems. When there’s a snow event like this, we have mechanical crews who are also called in.”

Lt. Joe Bickel with the Carmel Police Department is reminding businesses and home owners to shovel their sidewalks as early as possible.

“They need to keep their sidewalks clear," says Bickel. "It allows the children to walk safely to their bus stop location, or anyone else who might be out walking.”

He is also encouraging people to put together emergency kits for their cars and homes. At home, he suggests an extra blanket, a change of clothes, gloves and a first aid kit. He says bottled water, non perishable food and batteries are also important to have on hand.

Bickel says many of those items would also be useful in an emergency kit for your vehicle. He says kitty litter can also be used to gain traction if your tires get stuck in the snow.

“Make sure you have some additional items, like an ice scraper or snow brush or even a snow shovel in case you become stranded somewhere and you could possible dig your way out.”

At home and in your vehicle, it's important to have a way to call police if necessary.

“Keep your cell phone charged at all times. If you can’t use your landline phone or maybe you only have a cell phone, keep that available in case you need additional help,” says Bickel.

If you happen to slide off the road in your car, Bickel says you shouldn't get out and try walking to get help.

“Stay in the vehicle. Keep the four-way flashers on. As long as the vehicle is running, they’re in the safest place they can be," he says.

Carmel residents can also call the police department to have an officer check on a family member or neighbor who might need some extra help.

“An officer can respond. Check on the welfare of the neighbor, especially if they’re elderly and can’t get out very often. In these conditions it’s very dangerous to be out walking, especially on the sidewalks or driveways because you could fall easily and not be seen.”

Home owners can keep their pipes from freezing by allowing their faucets to drip slowly or opening cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes, adds Bickel.

This weather is too cold for pets to be outdoors, he says, even pets that typically stay outside.

“Don’t let them outside for any extended period of time," says Bickel. "Keep them inside as much as possible. If they are outdoor pets, you may just want to keep them inside for the next few days just to keep them safe from the weather.”