Library to host informational event as polar vortex hits continental U.S.

Maryann Owen did not even see the ice on the road before she hit it while driving down Gap Creek Road. Immediately losing control, she spun out towards the downhill riverbank.

“That moment when you realize you just lost control, you just close your eyes,” Owen said.

The polar vortex currently slamming most of the U.S. this week has brought severe winter all around, bringing with it dangers many people are simply not prepared for.

It is with this in mind the library is planning to host an awareness event on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 2 to 3 p.m.

The event will feature the Carter County Emergency Management Agency to speak about the dangers of severe winter weather and how best to handle a variety of icy situations.

While the library and agency are still working out the specific details of the information event itself, Owen said she wants the event to cover many different scenarios, including how to and when not to travel down roads, how to keep traction on snowy or icy roads by reducing speed and what to do if you hit black ice.

“You see cars constantly spinning out in this kind of weather,” she said. “If I do not need to be out, I stay at home.”

She said driving in dangerous conditions does not just affect the one driver, but it also endangers those around them and the deputies who have to respond to the wreck afterward.

She said she hopes a professional organization like this will put weight behind what she believes to be common sense.

“If someone with authority talks about common sense stuff like this, people will listen,” Owen said.

She said they also plan to discuss how to properly use space heaters and propane tanks.

“People often do not hook up heaters and generators to the fuse box correctly, so when the power comes back on, it catches fire,” Owen said.

She recalled an experience where she set the pressure on the propane tank too low, and she did not realize the error until she returned from a friend’s house to find the house covered in a horrible smell.

“Even the animals were starting to get sick,” Owen said.

When Owen hit that patch of black ice, she said she panicked and hit the brakes, causing her to spin out. The passenger side of her car took the brunt of the damage as it collided with a tree. The vehicle then fell into the nearby ditch.

She said emergency personnel had to cut her out of her car. She did not receive any serious injuries, but she said she is still paying for the scans they had to do, and the car was completely totaled.

“It was horrifying,” Owen said. “To this day, I will not drive on that road, even if it is a shortcut.”

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