The possibility of inclement weather throughout our area has led to the state Department of Transportation going into overdrive to prepare the roadways.
Mark Mueller is the Communication Officer for the division of the DOT that oversees Orange County, and he says they have been watching the forecast to most efficiently prepare.
“It’s looking like .01 – .12” of accumulation,” he says. “The potential for down tree lines usually happens at .25 – .5” – so it does not look like that’s going to be happening.”
Mueller adds crews have been preparing all day to ensure the equipment will be up to the task for a long night’s work.
“We’re looking to have crews start around 7 o’clock [Tuesday] evening,” he says. “And we’re expecting 30 – 35 people on hand.”
Mueller says the lingering rain has caused a change of plans for how they typically prepare thoroughfares.
“They’re not planning, at this point, to put down any salt brine, since there’s rain in the forecast,” he says. “But they’re likely going to be putting down the hard salt.
“[It will be put down] at a minimum on the bridges, likely on the roads – depending on how the forecast comes.”
Mueller says the DOT is advising commuters to stay off the roadways, if at all possible, and to exercise caution if you are traveling.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/dot-preparing-long-night-inclement-weather-looms/
Another incident involving a vehicle striking a pedestrian – two pedestrians, in this case – occurred late Thursday night in downtown Chapel Hill.
According to Chapel Hill police, the incident took place on West Franklin Street at about 11 p.m. Two pedestrians, one male and one female, were struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk by SunTrust Bank.
The driver remained on scene, and both pedestrians were transported to UNC Hospitals with minor injuries.
The full statement from Chapel Hill Police is below:
“On Thursday at approximately 11 p.m., the Chapel Hill Police Department responded to a reported traffic accident involving two pedestrians on W. Franklin St. Upon officers arrival they found a male and female that had reportedly been struck by a vehicle while in the crosswalk in front of SunTrust Bank. Both the male and female were transported to UNC Hospital with what appeared to be only minor injuries. Both driver and vehicle were still on scene. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be forthcoming.”
The Town of Chapel Hill has stepped up its efforts to promote bike and pedestrian safety this month – including targeted enforcement and electronic signs in high-traffic areas. Read more about it here.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/two-hit-car-thurs-night-franklin-st/
Chapel Hill Fire Marshal Todd Iaeger says roughly half of home fire deaths result from nighttime fires when people are asleep, and the number one key for reducing those deaths is to have a working smoke detector.
“It’s the number one way to keep people safe and notify them,” Marshal Iaeger says. “Your chances dramatically drop of being killed or injured in a fire if you have proper smoke detection.”
Marshal Iaeger is currently promoting Fire Prevention Week with this year’s campaign slogan of “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives, Test Yours Every Month”.
The US Fire Administration reports that fires involving laundry equipment are reported approximately 2,900 times per year, and on Sunday, a home in the Finley Forrest Neighborhood near the Friday Center caught fire due to an overheating of the dryer vent piping.
Marshal Iaeger says when winterizing your home, it’s also a good time to have your equipment maintained by a professional in order to assure it’s working properly and safely.
“You always want to make sure, on a regular basis, every month, that your lint filters or your lint exhaust areas of your building are clean,” Marshal Iaeger says. “Checking your dryer and cleaning the lint filter every use is the practical and appropriate thing to do. Anything else around the house when it comes to heating equipment—we’re getting into that season—you want to make sure that your utilizing a qualified and trained technician from an appropriate and respectable company that can come out and service your equipment.”
Fire Prevention Week runs through Saturday.
This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign includes:
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each bedroom and on every level of the home, including the basement.
• Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all sound.
• Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
• Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.
• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
For more information, visit firepreventionweek.org.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/check-smoke-alarm/
3:55 p.m. update: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesperson Jeff Nash confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the school was placed on lockdown due to an altercation between students. He said one student apparently pepper sprayed another student.
It took approximately ten minutes to locate the pepper spray and confirm the incident was controlled, according to Nash. He said the student said it was an accident.
Story originally posted September 23, 2014, 3:45 p.m.
A receptionist at Chapel Hill High School confirmed Tuesday at around 2:45 p.m. that the school was locked down as a precaution Tuesday but that the lockdown was no longer active.
The receptionist couldn’t give further details about why the school was placed on lockdown or when it occurred. She said Assistant Principal Kevin Kay could provide more information, but when forwarded to his extension, he did not answer.
News of the lockdown was initially shared by the parent of a student on Facebook. She posted that neither she nor her student knew why the school was locked down.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/chhs-precautionary-lockdown-lifted/
A flick of the wrist might keep you from falling victim to one of Chapel Hill’s most common crimes.
Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says many larcenies and burglaries happen because citizens leave doors unlocked, making it easy for thieves to steal.
“We had a number of break-ins that involved either unlocked vehicles or people going into garages and taking items where the garage was left open overnight,” says Mecimore.
Chapel Hill police say thieves will often walk through yards, driveways and parking lots trying door handles until they find an unlocked car or garage. Mecimore reminds residents to lock up everything, including cars, houses, windows and garages.
“What we encourage people to do is make your house, your vehicle, your property a harder target than someone else’s, so that you’re not the person that a criminal chooses to victimize.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, there were 3,500 property crimes reported in Orange County in 2012, the last year for which statistics were available.
If you’re interested in more safety tips from Chapel Hill Police, you can contact the Community Services Unit at (919) 932-2929.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/chapel-hill-police-remind-residents-lock/
Another medical professional with ties to Chapel Hill may be heading to Africa to help in the fight against the Ebola virus.
Chapel Hill native Anna Freeman is a nurse with Doctors Without Borders, which says its mission is to serve areas where there is the greatest need.
Freeman was a nurse at UNC Hospitals before applying to work with DWB. She worked in post-surgical care of children with heart defects.
“One thing that I find very rewarding about nursing work—working as a bedside nurse—is working with somebody who finds themselves in a situation often out of their control that can be very difficult to deal with either physically or emotionally, or often both,” Freeman says.
Freeman says she felt drawn to areas known as conflict, post-conflict, and intermittent-conflict zones, or areas struggling with epidemic diseases. She says there was an urge to help those who couldn’t always help themselves.
“Very often, people who find themselves in these circumstances are civilians, are women and children who live in very poor areas,” Freeman says. “I find that very unjust that people don’t have access to health care as a result or have very poor health care. There’s a lot of suffering that goes along with that.”
She says working to help alleviate suffering is very rewarding and that she’s fascinated experiencing new things in places that, when you first arrive, you might not know what awaits you.
Freeman may be heading to Africa in the next few weeks to help in the fight against Ebola. This is the largest outbreak of the disease on record. As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control reported the suspected and confirmed case count was nearing 1,900; the suspected number of deaths had just surpassed 1,000.
WCHL spoke with UNC physician William Fischer upon his return to the states from Africa where he treated people who had contracted Ebola. He said he left feeling like there was more he could do, and that he would certainly be willing to return.
Freeman’s comments were made on a recent edition of Who’s Talking with D.G. Martin, heard weekends on WCHL. Click here to listen (August 2, 2014 edition).http://chapelboro.com/news/health/another-chapel-hillian-help-fight-ebola/
Orange County Animal Services has released a media advisory about what citizens can do to stay safe and stay smart when it comes to coexisting with wild coyotes in the county and throughout North Carolina.
The Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, says that while advisories about coexisting with coyotes have been issued for several years now, what prompted the latest alert was the recent surge in reports from the Hillsborough area involving missing outside cats and other small pets that are kept outdoors, which Animal Services has connected to the presence of coyotes preying on these pets.
“They are virtually everywhere,” says Marotto, “not only in all 100 counties in North Carolina, but in all of the different areas of Orange County as well.”
He says there has been a rise in coyote presence in more urban areas as well, such as one case earlier this summer in which Animal Services impounded a coyote that was found in an alley on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Marotto says that the three greatest “attractants” for coyotes to invade areas in which they normally are not found are food, water, and shelter, which he says can come from a number of different sources.
Food sources can come from spills when feeding dogs or wild birds.
Marotto suggests that in order to prevent coyotes from becoming too habituated, or generally comfortable around human populated areas, people need to give the coyotes reasons to stay far away.
“People should haze coyotes if and when there is contact,” says Marotto. “People should make loud noises and do things that make the coyote turn around and go away from us. If we don’t do that, what happens is that coyotes become more and more comfortable or tolerant and habituated, and eventually then we do have some incidents that we really don’t want to have.”
In addition to likely food sources for coyotes coming from loose pet food, Marotto says that local wildlife biologists are certain that some cats and even small dogs have become part of the food chain for coyotes. In order to prevent outdoor pets from being taken by coyotes, Marotto offers a few recommendations as to what pet owners can do when it comes to allowing their beloved pets outdoors.
“One of them is not just leaving your cat or your dog outside, and leaving it outside, because in those circumstances there is not a person present to fend off or haze and deflect any approaches by a coyote,” says Marotto. “In addition to being present with our dogs or cats when they are outside, if there is some consideration of leaving them outside unattended, they must really be in a secure enclosure.”
Citizens are encouraged to contact Orange County Animal Services if they encounter coyotes engaging in threatening behavior or becoming habituated in residential areas, they can access the Coyote Incident Reporting Form here, or call Animal Services at (919) 942-7387.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/orange-county-animal-services-advise-coyote-safety/
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue says he wants to assure all citizens that the police officers are constantly monitoring the community for suspicious activity to help keep the town as safe as possible.
“We’re proud of the nature of our community’s safety,” Chief Blue says. “It’s something that we all work very hard on as community members. In fact, we all have a responsibility for it, and I’m proud of the way our community rises to that challenge. I will say that this one is particularly troubling because it’s so random—in the middle of the day. All of our sense of safety as community members takes a hit when something so random and unexplained happens, as was the case here. Immediately our reaction as a police department is to increase presence in the neighborhoods and knock on doors and reassure folks. But, we also recognize that grieving and dealing with this kind of shocking circumstance takes some time. We’re scratching our heads a little bit just like everyone else in the community is about just why and how this could happen.”
WCHL’s Ran Northam spoke with Chief Blue
The incident took place just a couple blocks west of the UNC School of Public Health and split of Pittsboro and South Columbia streets. Fifty-nine-year-old Feng Liu, of Greyfield Boulevard in Durham and a professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was known to take a walk through the community during his lunch break, according to multiple media outlets. Colleagues said it was a way he reenergized himself daily.
Chief Blue says he can’t release any additional information because the investigation is ongoing, however, he says it was a town employee that first arrived to find Liu in need of medical attention. According to the News and Observer, prosecutors said Liu was hit in the head with a rock. He died at UNC Hospitals.
Public Information Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the list of items stolen from Liu has not yet been released.
UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken was out of town Friday and unable to be reached.
In a statement released through Alert Carolina, Chief McCracken emphasized how important it is to always be prepared.
“People should have a plan in mind about how to respond in an emergency because it’s very difficult to plan for an emergency when you’re in the middle of one,” he said. “It’s important for people to know beforehand where the exits are, where the fire escapes are, the safest place in the building to be if a tornado is spotted, that kind of thing. Planning decreases panic and increases the chance for a better outcome in an emergency situation.”http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/ch-police-chief-robberymurder-random-act/
This July 4th, Chapel Hill is offering a variety of ways to celebrate, notably the fireworks display at Kenan Stadium. The Chapel Hill Fire Department is reminding citizens that the best way to practice good firework safety this summer is leave it to the professionals.
Fire Marshall for the Chapel Hill Fire Department, Todd Iaeger, says that the best way to be safe with fireworks this Independence Day is simply not to use them.
“The obvious answer is not to use them at all,” says Iaeger. “If you are going to use consumer fireworks, people have to be cognizant of the fact that these things emit significant temperatures, and anything around those things can easily ignite. People have to remember too that the statute of North Carolina states that if it leaves the ground, if it moves, if it makes a big bang, it’s illegal.”
Iaeger also says that the use of sparklers is something that might be safest to avoid altogether, especially for child safety.
“To me, it’s a bit counterintuitive,” says Iaeger. “We give small children sparklers and tell them to wave them around. What people don’t understand is that patterned material on those sparklers has the ability to reach to 1,200 plus degrees. So, we’re putting 1,200 plus degrees of a little wire in the hand of a child. If you are going to use those, you’ve got to make sure there is an extreme amount of adult supervision. I believe, and I think statistics prove, that sparklers alone are very dangerous, particularly for smaller children.”
With the celebration events that Chapel Hill has to offer this July 4th, Iaeger says that there is essentially no reason to risk your own fireworks show, when you have one of the best in the country right at your backdoor.
“I want to stress significantly, please, forgo the consumer fireworks, forgo the homemade fireworks. Go to the professional display at Kenan Stadium. It’s ranked as one of the top ten best displays in the country. Take advantage of that. Please leave it in the hands of the professionals.”
For more tips on fire safety, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/safe-fireworks/
With the recent number of black bear sightings throughout Hillsborough, it is important to understand what is causing these bears to behave this way, and what you can do in response.
Head of the Camouflage Coalition Program of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Richard Hamilton, has experience in black bear management from his 37 years working with the Wildlife Resource Commission. He says that while these black bears popping up in these areas are strange, it is a normal part of black bear biology.
“What you are seeing here in Orange County is a fairly normal occurrence, although it is an unusual place,” says Hamilton. “About the middle of July, the females run off the two-year-old cubs that they have, they finish nursing them. They run them off in preparation to start another family. It is not unusual for these young bears to move long distances in search of a new home range where they can set up a territory.”
Hamilton also cautions that while these bears are not generally dangerous, they need to be left alone, and they will not become permanent residents of the Hillsborough area.
Bears are not inherently dangerous, especially these young bears,” says Hamilton. “The best advice is not to bother these bears, but to be aware of them. Don’t go up to them, try to pet them, take a picture with them, or anything like that. They are not going to attack you or your pets, and they will move on. They are not going to take up residence in Orange County.”
Hillsborough Police has informed WCHL that there have not yet been any further black bear sightings since the last report.
Anyone who sees a bear should still call 911 immediately.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/black-bear-safety-hillsborough/