W.Pa. residents take precautions against severe cold
By Craig Smith
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
When temperatures drop below zero, mail carrier Lisa Frisco stuffs chemically activated hand warmers into her boots.
It's not in her nature to call off work, she said during a break on her Allegheny West route Tuesday as wind buffeted the North Side neighborhood.
“If I keep moving, it's better,” said Frisco, 50, of Emsworth, who has delivered mail for 18 years. “I try to put my head down and keep going.”
On a day when the mercury failed to climb much above 10 degrees, Frisco remained positive.
“This is the first really brutal day we've had and it's Jan. 22,” she said.
For Frisco and others whose work takes them outside despite the forecast, plunging temperatures usually mean getting creative with clothing. The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill advisory through Wednesday morning, forecasting wind chills of 10 to 20 degrees below zero. It urged people to take care to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
Frisco took dressing in layers to a new level. She said she wore leggings, thermals, work pants, an undershirt, turtleneck, work shirt, sweater, coat, headband, hood, gloves and the boots.
“I'll be fine,” she said. “I've been doing this for a long time.”
Tad Kelley, spokesman for the Postal Service in Pittsburgh, said carriers can use their discretion. “If they think their safety is in jeopardy, they should get out of the cold and notify their supervisor,” Kelley said.
Ralph Slate, chief of the Southmoreland School District security force, directs bus traffic and shepherds students. “It's no picnic,” he said of the cold, adding, “You just bear with it, get done and go home. And look forward to tomorrow.”
For Tom Leech, the secret to working in brutal conditions is a good hat.
“Something to keep your ears warm,” said Leech, 57, of Crafton Heights, supervisor of sewer operations for Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
Leech, who has worked outside for 29 years, prefers the cold to a snowy day.
“A couple of cold days aren't going to kill you,” he said. “It is winter.”
Yet extreme cold can be deadly.
Duquesne Light sends its workers out on “dangerously cold days” only for emergencies, spokesman Brian Knavish said. They work indoors or on maintenance projects instead.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl cautioned residents to stay safe.
“Extreme cold can have a serious impact on our residents and their homes,” Ravenstahl said. “I urge all residents to ... stay indoors as much as possible and check on their elderly loved ones and neighbors.”
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or email@example.com.
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