The City of Mason City reminds people of safety precautions in extreme cold

Winter Weather Safety
Winter Weather Safety(MGN/Canva)
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 12:29 PM CST
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MASON CITY, Minn. (KTTC) – The City of Mason City is urging residents to take precautions over the next couple of days as life-threatening cold temperatures impact the area.

People are encouraged to stay indoors if possible. If you must be outside, wear several layers of warm clothing and limit your time outside.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia as they can occur in just a few minutes. Keep all skin, including ears and face, covered.

Due to the extreme winter weather, some disruption of city operations may occur over the next few days. Currently, all city departments will be open during normal operating hours and city services and functions will continue to operate as normal with the exception of the MacNider Museum which will be closed at 12 p.m. Thursday.

The following items remind residents of general information and safety precautions to take during this extreme cold weather:

Monitor Water Service Lines

Precautions should be taken to prevent water lines inside homes and businesses from freezing. Residents are reminded to monitor the water coming into the building by measuring the temperature of the water from an inside cold faucet nearest to the meter. Allow water to flow from the faucet a minute or two before checking to assure you are recording a good measured temperature. If the measured temperature is below 40 degrees you should monitor more frequent and if the temperature continues to drop then consider opening a cold water faucet to allow a slow continuous stream of water to flow. The standard recommendation is to adjust the water flow to a stream approximately the size of a pencil. Allowing the water to flow should prevent the service line from freezing.

The information provided here should be used only as a guideline. Additional judgment should be used for each individual situation. If or when reports are received of water service lines freezing underground outside of buildings, the city will provide additional public notices.

Contact the Mason City Engineering Department at (641) 421-3605 with any questions regarding this notice. You may also contact the Water Department at (641) 421-3683 to report water related concerns.

Portable Heater Safety Inside the Home

Space Heater Use- Do not use space heater when sleeping or leave the room when space heater is in use. Keep 3-foot minimum clearance to space heater or what owner’s manual requires. Plug unit directly into outlet, DO NOT use extension cords. If the space heater trips an electrical breaker or fuse, discontinue use. Use only electric UL listed space heaters, DO NOT use gas fired units inside a building. DO NOT use ovens for supplemental heat.

Keep a minimum of 3-foot clearance around heating appliance and replace furnace filter regularly. Clean filter to assist with proper operation of unit and help save in energy bills.

Check fresh air intakes and exhaust vents to gas fired furnaces and water heaters. Make sure the vents are clear of snow or ice formation.

Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and test to make sure they are operating properly.

Use caution with fireplaces and wood burning stoves. (Clear combustible away from units.)

Contact the Mason City Fire Department at (641) 421-3640 with any questions.

Power Outages

If you experience a power outage at your home, do NOT call 9-1-1 to report it. Please notify your electrical utility (Alliant Energy at 1-800-255-4268) immediately.

Pet Safety

When your animal is outside in this frigid weather, it is important to provide them with extra for warmth and comfort. Do not leave them outside without shelter while you are not there. Weather can turn quickly in northern Iowa. If you keep your animal in your unheated garage, then you should provide a doghouse in there so that they can curl up and use their own body heat. If they are taken in and out, then it is most important to keep them in most of the time as our temps drop. Adequate shelter is minimum of 3 walls, top and flooring. In addition, added, dry bedding such as straw to replace as needed, and clean, unfrozen water. They have heated buckets and mats for animal that will be outside for long periods of time. Do not use blankets outside because it will collect water and freeze.

Never leave your cat or dog in a vehicle in cold weather.

Towel dry your dog’s paws, legs and stomach when bringing them inside. Chemical agents used to melt ice can be dangerous for your dog to ingest. Snow and encrusted ice may also cause your dog’s paws to bleed.

Your animals can still get fleas in the winter, so check them often and treat as needed. Check with your vet when in doubt.

Alternate Side Parking Ordinance and Emergency Snow Route

Just a reminder: the Alternate Side Parking Ordinance and Emergency Snow Route are in effect and will remain in effect until further notice. Park your vehicle on the even numbered side of the street on even numbered days and on the odd numbered side of the street on odd numbered days and no parking is allowed on 1st Street NW from Monroe Avenue to Pierce Avenue during the Emergency Snow Route designation to avoid getting a ticket or towed.

Snow and Streets

Residents are asked to make sure snow is not pushed from the driveway in front of residences into the City right of way. The piles of snow create an obstacle in the street which does not allow full use by vehicles. This also does not allow for the removal of the street snow and violates the City Code.

Please keep a safe distance from City snow removal equipment and trucks. During their operation, they occasionally have to stop and back up.

Snow and Sidewalks

Citizens are reminded to make sure all snow and ice is cleared from sidewalks within 48 hours after a snowfall. Do not move snow or ice into the street when clearing driveways and sidewalks. To report a property that has not removed snow from the sidewalk after 48 hours, contact the Development Services Department at (641) 421-3380.

Free Sand Available

Sand is available for Mason City residents to use for ice control on sidewalks during the winter. The pile is located across the street from the Water Treatment Plant on the east side of Elm Drive in the vacant lot.

Emergency Numbers

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation during these cold temperatures and need help, call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance or (641) 421-3636 for non-emergency issues outside of business hours.