(WFXR) — From Roanoke County dispatchers to Radford police officers to Drakes Branch firefighters, southwest Virginia emergency responders will be stretched thin during this weekend’s inclement winter weather, so community members are asked to keep a few simple requests in mind.

  • If you don’t have to drive — especially if you don’t have a vehicle that is capable of driving in the snow — stay home.
  • If you have to drive, use common sense:
    • Reduce your speed.
    • Give other drivers plenty of room, especially VDOT crews because they are working to make sure the roads are clear and safe.
    • Remember that driving in ice is not like driving in snow, because once you hit ice, you have very little control of your vehicle.
    • If you approach any disabled vehicles or a crash scene, slow down.
    • If you are in a crash yourself, stay in your vehicle and call for help, but keep in mind that it may take a while because local towing companies will be stretched thin as well.
  • If you don’t have a life-threatening emergency, allow first responders to focus on those who do.
  • Do not tie up 911 communications center lines asking for information that dispatchers do not have, such as road conditions, closures, weather forecast information, when your power will come back on, or when your road will be plowed.
    • If you need to know why your power is out or when it will be restored, you are asked to call your electric service provider.
    • If you need to know about the condition of the roads, check out the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT)’s online traffic map or 511 app.
    • If you need to know when a snowplow will get to your street, either contact VDOT or contact your local public works department.

“In no way are we trying to be difficult or unhelpful, we are just trying to keep our phones open for emergencies. We post this information to “cut out the middle man” and allow you to get your information in the most up to date format and get it directly from the source,” the Roanoke County E-911 Center posted on Facebook on Saturday, Jan. 30. “Please be safe and if you like snow, enjoy the event!”