Public Safety

Don’t go spreading snow all over the roads. That’s the opposite of what we want. /istock

SAY NO TO SNOW Make sure you clean all the snow off your car. It can be tempting to leave with a little stack on your roof but it can fall off and cause an accident. It is now the law in Pennsylvania that you must clear all ice and snow before driving. Keep an ice scraper and snow brush in your car at all times.

RIDE SAFE It’s always a good idea to designate a driver or select a rideshare when it’s holiday party time. But take extra steps to ensure your safety when getting into an Uber or Lyft. Confirm that the driver matches the photo in the app. Ask the driver for the name of the fare they’re picking up. He or she should know your name from the app. Request the ride while you’re still inside and only go outside at the last minute in order to foil imposters.

COLD, COLDER, COLDEST It’s the 10th birthday of the Pittsburgh Polar Plunge, scheduled for Saturday, February 29 (yes, 2020 is a leap year.) As always, the Mt. Lebanon Police Department will participate. During the plunge, participants jump into a pool of water at Heinz Field to raise money for Special Olympics. It’s much better than the old days when they jumped into the river—trust us. You can join them in the deep freeze or simply donate to the cause by going to for the details.

Officer Lydia Songer uses one of the new Motorola radios.

CLEAR CHANNELS Mt. Lebanon police and fire join together on a lot of initiatives—this is one that can save lives. The departments have upgraded their radios and this time, they have purchased them all together at one time, with the same technology. The move is expected to provide more reliable communication. After demo-ing many different kinds, the departments chose Motorola radios. The $435,000 contract will provide 111 radios for personnel and 50 for vehicles, as well as all software, programming and a three-year warranty. The new system should be up and running this month. Remember to call 911 anytime you need a first responder. That means not posting it on social media and not calling someone you know who works for the department to see if he or she is in. Call 911 and dispatchers can reach someone by radio. All calls are triaged so you won’t push someone out of line with a more serious need.

COMMENDED OFFICERS Several Mt. Lebanon police officers were honored at an October ceremony for their actions during the deadly Tree of Life shooting in October 2018. The officers, who are part of the South Hills Area Council of Governments Critical Incident Response Team, responded to the incident, where 11 people were killed. Mt. Lebanon officers included: Ryan Miller, Shelby Ziskind, Sam Smolarek, Jerrod Withrow and Josh Chops, along with Medical Rescue Team South Authority medics Matt Coleman and David Terkel. Officers from Bethel Park, Baldwin Borough, Scott Township, Moon Township, Castle Shannon, Brentwood, Dormont, Peters Township, Pleasant Hills, South Fayette and Upper St. Clair, as well as St. Clair Hospital, also received commendations.

TAKE YOUR TIME The cold makes everyone want to walk fast and get where they’re going but don’t make the mistake of putting your safety at risk. Make sure you give a thorough look for vehicles when you cross the street and allow extra time if the roads are slippery. Drivers may not have the same ability to stop in winter.

Use caution with candles

BURN SMART Candles, trees and embers: ‘Tis the season for all of it. Make sure you keep a close eye on any candles or, better yet, buy the kind you can switch off. Never put wrapping paper or pine boughs in your fireplace. They get too hot and pine leaves residue that can cause a fire.

GIVE ‘EM ROOM If you’re headed to the hot neighborhood cookie exchange or eggnog festival, park with enough room to let a fire truck or ambulance through. We know it’s cold and you want to be as close to the party as you can, but if your loved one was in trouble, you would want help to get there as soon as possible.

ELIMINATE THE MIDDLEMAN Always plug appliances directly into a wall outlet. That means no extensions cords, no surge strips, no plug hubs. Only by plugging into a wall can you ensure that the appliance is getting proper power and you are not causing a fire risk by overheating cords not meant to carry such a load.

DON’T HIDE THE HYDRANTS Kids home on a snow day? Have them do a good deed by shoveling around your neighborhood’s fire hydrants. This will save precious time in the event the fire department needs access to water.

KITCHEN PATROL So many Mt. Lebanon fires are caused by unattended cooking. Keep your eyes on your feast and if something does ignite, call 911. Putting it out yourself can cause critical injury. A stove can be replaced but you can’t.

TOPS IN SCHOOL SAFETY Mt. Lebanon School District received a Safe Schools Champion designation for its innovation and excellence in developing and promoting efforts to keep kids safe, inspire learning and support families. The Center for Safe Schools and Center for Schools and Communities selected Mt. Lebanon after reviewing district-wide initiatives such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Responsive Classroom, mindfulness programming and other activities that foster a supportive, preventative and responsive whole school system that makes the students’ needs a priority. Superintendent Dr. Tim Steinhauer received the award during the 2019 Safe Schools Conference in Harrisburg.