01/06/18 — Minimal injuries reported due to weather, but officials warn further caution as ice remains

View Archive

Minimal injuries reported due to weather, but officials warn further caution as ice remains

By Steve Herring and Ethan Smith
Published in News on January 6, 2018 2:51 PM


An SUV sits partially blocking the roadway on south John Street Friday as drivers take their time navigating the icy conditions around it to prevent their cars from also getting stuck.

As of noon Friday there had been no reports of cold weather-related health issues at the Wayne UNC Health Care Emergency Department or at Mount Olive Family Medicine Center.

However, 8 to 10 patients had been treated in the emergency department for weather-related falls.

Information was not available on the severity of the falls or how they occurred.

In 2016, there were 1,173 emergency department visits in North Carolina for cold weather-related illnesses, according to the N.C. Department of Health an Human Services.

Populations at highest risk of these health problems include people 65 and older, infants, children, people who spend time outdoors for long periods of time and people who drink alcohol in excess or use illicit drugs.

Wayne County Office of Emergency Services Director Mel Powers said EMS had seen an average call volume with no out of the ordinary calls.

"Yesterday and the night before was very quiet," Powers said. "We really haven't ran a whole lot of unusual calls, it's been basically average, nothing out of the ordinary."

Sections of central and eastern North Carolina were under a wind chill advisory Friday and then and again today.

Over that time cold air and the wind combined to create low wind chills that ranged from five below zero to five above zero.

Powers urged Wayne County residents to not get complacent over the weekend, as the sun would melt some of what was covering the roadways, but it would not evaporate -- that won't happen until next week's warmer weather hits.

"Don't get complacent," Powers said. "The sun's going to melt this stuff but it's not going to evaporate, so when the sun goes down this moisture is going to freeze back up. The biggest thing is if you don't have to go out this evening, stay in."

Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release roads are improving statewide, but the cold temperatures mean drivers must be cautious.

"Road crews are making great progress clearing ice and snow, but we could use a little help from Mother Nature with some warmer temperatures," Cooper said. "Drivers and even pedestrians need to continue to be careful. Even roads that look clear have slick spots."

Pedestrians should also be careful, as there are health risks to being out in the bitter cold.

Frostbite and hypothermia can occur in as little as 20 to 30 minutes if precautions are not taken so North Carolina health officials are encouraging residents to take health and safety precautions during the winter months.

Today's high will be near 30 with a low of around 19 Sunday night.

The high temperature will finally get above freezing on Monday when the high will be near 45 with a chance of rain. Tuesday will be mostly sunny with a high near 51.

To protect against cold-weather health problems:

• Wear warm, dry clothing and make sure your nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin, fingers -- the body parts most often affected by frostbite -- are covered.

• Limit time outside during cold temperatures and seek shelter in a warm, dry place.

• Check on others who might be at risk for cold weather-related illness.

• Seek care if hypothermia or frostbite is suspected.

A state of emergency that Gov. Roy Cooper signed Wednesday will remain in effect through the weekend, along with an executive order waiving truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions to ease movement of heating fuel, supplies and equipment and to allow restoration of utility services.