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University, government officials give tips for staying safe during a winter storm

University, government officials give tips for staying safe during a winter storm

University, government officials give tips for staying safe during a winter storm
February 02
11:38 2022

As Texas approaches the one-year anniversary of Winter Storm Uri, which resulted in 246 deaths, the University of North Texas staff and National Weather Service representatives recommend that North Texas residents stay aware of the forecast.

A repeat of last year is unlikely, said Jennifer Dunn, a warning coordinating meteorologist for the NWS.

“We are in a La Niña pattern, and that tends to favor above-normal conditions for the winter,” Dunn said.

Dunn stressed the importance of taking weather-related precautions.

“It is better to be prepared than to be caught behind,” Dunn said. “If [meteorologists] are talking about another high impact storm, don’t downplay the severity of it.”

The most important thing to do is follow any safety guidelines that local officials release, said Ronald Timmons, a principal lecturer in the College of Health and Public Service’s Emergency Administration and Planning program.

“Have awareness of the relative risk that’s present,” Timmons said. “Follow forecasts and have a notion of how likely it is going to last.”

Winter weather guidelines can be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, the city of Denton’s social media pages, and UNT’s Emergency Management social media. These guidelines include a glossary of terms and instructions to limit time outside as much as possible.

Emergency Management Specialist Andrew Neikirk said that the university was stocking up on bottled water and food to distribute in anticipation of Wednesday’s below-freezing temperatures and rain. Neikirk does not believe food and water will be an issue for students and said the dining halls on campus are equipped to feed students in an emergency.

“During last year’s storm, Eagle Landing was able to serve meals to the student population, and that became the centralized location for people to get materials to take back to their rooms,” Neikirk said.

For students who do not live on campus, it was recommended by both Dunn and Timmons to keep enough non-perishable food and bottled water to last a minimum of four days.

A Twitter post from the Student Government Association on Monday urged students to gather warm clothes and blankets and to charge all electronics.

Timmons said the best source of lighting during a winter storm is LED battery-powered flashlights and lamps.

“Whether you are using a candle or a temporary heater, such as propane or gasoline anything that gives off fumes, it needs to be handled carefully and never used inside,” Timmons said.

If a heater is necessary inside the residence halls, students can request permission to bring one into their dorm room by completing the space heating request form. UNT mandates that it be 250 watts maximum and electric-only. It must also have a tip-over cut-off, an internal sensor in the heater that will turn it off in the case it is knocked over, and a seal of approval from an independent testing laboratory. More information on UNT’s policy on space heaters can be found here.

The most dangerous activity someone could do during a winter storm is making an unnecessary car ride, Dunn said.

“Don’t travel if you don’t have to,” Dunn said. “Plan to stay off the roads because emergency services and emergency personnel are already going to be busy enough with calls from residents and businesses.”

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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John Phillip Arney

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