WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The City of Wichita held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the cold and snow in the forecast. The KSN Storm Track 3 forecast calls for dangerously low temperatures.
Mayor Brandon Whipple said the City is fully stocked on salt and sand and is ready to go into action to treat the roads as needed.
“This being Kansas, we could get anywhere between just a dusting of snow to up to four inches, but our snow plows and snow crews are ready for anything,” he said.
The City is also concerned about the homeless population, considering how low the temperatures could go.
“Our Homeless Outreach Team will also be working to connect unhoused residents to services and get them into winter shelters,” Whipple said.
Julie Simpson, director of Sedgwick County Emergency Management, said her office would be tracking whether there are any utility outages.
“Primarily, it looks to be more of a cold weather event versus a snow event,” she said. “With that, we may anticipate some sort of utility failure, power utility failures, and that’s what we’ll be monitoring for. We are already working with our partners. If we need to have any kind of mass sheltering due to widespread power outages, we are prepared to do that.”
Simpson said the County does not become involved in outages that only affect small pockets of homes.
“But we are prepared for any kind of widespread … especially if it’s going to be prolonged,” she said. “If we’re talking more 24 hours of power outages, we’ll work with our partners to set up shelters.”
Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Jose Ocadiz said that people should check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries before the worst of the cold arrives.
“The importance of that carbon monoxide detector is very critical … in this type of weather,” he said.
He said people should not open oven doors to heat their homes because that could let carbon monoxide in.
“Make sure that you’re looking at your furnace, you change your filter out, and also that the exhaust flue, where it’s connected to your fireplace, but also in your furnace, that ice doesn’t get built up or anything like that,” Ocadiz said. “That’s going to clog it. Not being able to exhaust, the exhaust fumes will not be able to get out of the house.”
If you have a space heater, he said to ensure there is a safe zone around it – that there are no combustible materials near it. He also said space heaters should not be plugged into extension cords.
“They require too much electricity and too much amperage to be able to use through an extension cord. So always plug them directly into an outlet,” Ocadiz said.
He also had some advice about portable generators.
“Make sure that those portable generators – that exhaust is on the outside,” he said. “Do not place them in your garage. Do not place them near a doorway. They have to be on the outside, and you’ll be able to utilize an extension cord that is rated for that type of power.”
The mayor had more information about how the City prioritizes roads for snow removal.
“This is fairly important because we get a lot of calls about how we treat the streets and why certain streets aren’t treated before other streets,” Whipple said. “We have over 5,000 lane miles and limited resources, so it’s impossible to effectively treat every street in our city.”
The City will focus snow plows on the first 1,500 miles of emergency routes and major arterials that serve hospitals, emergency facilities and public schools.
“Then we focus on the remaining secondary, main, secondary arterials and residential school access streets, which account for an additional 300 lane miles,” Whipple said.
He also said the City does not maintain state and federal highways like K-96, I-135, I-235 and Kellogg.
“If you don’t have to be out on Thursday, then we asked for folks to please stay off the roads,” Whipple said.