It could snow any day, and Keene State needs to be ready. Everyone needs to prepare, from the plant and grounds team, to the infirmary, to the students.
The Physical Plant and Grounds team is concerned about keeping the college walkways, parking lots and drives clear of snow and ice. To do that, they need to be ready now and ensure all their equipment is in good condition and ready for the weather. “We try to have all the plows ready as well as the sanders, and our materials ready to go now. The salt we use is stored at the city garage for us to use as we need it,” Assistant Director of Physical Plant and Grounds Bud Winsor said.
Winsor stressed the need to keep the sidewalks safe and clear.
“For walkways, we use a small plow that doubles as mowers during the summer time. Before a big snow event, we pretreat the walkways, so the snow doesn’t stick and so ice doesn’t form a bond to the pavement. Ice is always a issue here. We do try to use treated salt which reduces ice from building up, we stay on it and melt it. We don’t use sand for traction because the whole idea is to get rid of the ice as quickly as we can. We try to eliminate ice as much as we possibly can,” Winsor said.
One of the ways to prepare for bad weather is to listen to the weather forecast. Everyone, including students, needs to pay attention to the weather forecast. “We have two weather services that we monitor to get the most accurate forecast. Our weather forecasting has gotten much better in the last few years. We have a good handle on when we should start operations. If a storm comes overnight, we start operating around 4 a.m. to clean up the campus and try to keep the campus open. If it’s a bad storm and we need more time to clean up, we communicate that to the president or vice president of finance. They decide if the school is either closed or delayed for that day,” Winsor said.
According to KSC’s Inclement weather webpage, if the college is closed, it is for the safety of the students and the staff. The school will keep on essential personnel such as dining hall staff, student center staff, library, medical, housing, physical plant and grounds on campus to provide services. Students should review with their professors’ absentee policy related to inclement weather.
Windsor said of the region’s harsh winters: “There have been so many bad winters I can’t tell you which one was the worst. I can tell you thought that the worst storms have freezing rain. It’s the worst thing to deal with. It’s almost impossible to drive in and it happens quick. The entire campus ices up right away and you can’t get out there fast enough to try to deal with it and rain on top of freezing rain is the worst-case scenario. Snow is manageable as long as it’s not like a three-foot storm but, freezing rain is a nightmare.”
Michael Comey, a sophomore, said in preparation for winter he is going to buy jumper cables, a shovel for his car, get the flu shot, and start wearing warmer clothing.
“Plants and grounds do a decent job. It is pretty safe here all year round,” Comey said.
Even though Keene State College Physical Plant and Grounds team works to keep the walkways clear, ice can still be present at times.
“Safety is always a concern for winter, no matter how well you prepare there will always be slips, trips and falls we try to let people know that they should have proper footwear on in the winter,” Winsor cautioned.
Students also need to prepare for being indoors more, as when you are living indoors with a larger number of people, your risk to catch a cold or the flu increases as noted by Tiffany Mathews, Coordinator for Wellness Education. She explained that this is due to our heating systems recirculating the same air throughout the facilities. Mathews stressed, “People should definitely do more cleaning during the winter time as more germs are transferred to surfaces. Cleaning rooms is very important as well as getting enough sleep for their immune system. The varying weather conditions can lessen the immune system, and it is very important that students clean their rooms as well as their laptops, phones or hands especially before eating.” Mathews insisted that students need to get their flu shot.
The cleanup is not over when the weather stops. Students should also be concerned about parking, and making the clean up easier. Winsor emphasised, “When students return to campus after it snows, take a clean spot. Winchester lot is particularly hard to take care of because it is a residential, so if you leave, take a clean spot so we can clear the lot. Residential lots are the most difficult to to clean. We will do them one parking space at a time if we have to.” This ensures that the Physical Plant and Grounds crews can clean the lots and keep them safe.
As stated on the KSC’s inclement weather policy webpage, students need to be aware and vigilant regarding the approach of any storm. Each student should create an account through the Emergency Notification System in order to receive phone calls and text messages regarding delays or cancellations directly. Students can also tune into WMUR, the college TV station, or the Keene State College webpage. Students can also call 603-352-1909 directly for information.
Austin Cook can be contacted at email@example.com