Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Monday, January 31, 2022

Despite Decades of Hacking Attacks, Companies Leave Vast Amounts of Sensitive Data Unprotected

Do they care?

By Cezary Podkul for ProPublica

Consider some of the episodes last year in which large quantities of personal data were stolen: 300 million customer and device records for users of a service that’s supposed to shield internet traffic from prying eyes; a 17.6-million-row database from a second organization, containing profiles of people who participated in its market research surveys; 59 million email addresses and other personal data lifted from a third company. These sorts of numbers barely raise an eyebrow these days; none of the incidents generated major press coverage.

Cybertheft conjures images of high-tech missions, with sophisticated hackers penetrating multiple layers of security systems to steal corporate data. But these breaches were far from “Ocean’s Eleven”-style operations. They were the equivalent of grabbing jewels from the seat of an unlocked car parked in a high-crime neighborhood.

In each case, the companies left the data exposed online with little or no security. So says Pompompurin, a pseudonymous hacker who posted the millions of stolen records cited above on RaidForums, a discussion board popular with cybercriminals seeking personal data. 

Pompompurin told ProPublica that he often doesn’t need to do much hacking to get his hands on sensitive personal data. Many times, it’s left in cloud storage folders available to anyone with internet access. Pompompurin said he scans the web for such unguarded material and then leaks it on RaidForums “because I can and it’s fun.”

The exposed data extends far beyond what can be found on RaidForums, ranging from the prosaic and useless to the ultravaluable. In recent years, it has included everything from names, emails and chat transcripts of users of a sex cam website to America’s secret terrorist watch list to a virtual hard drive from the federal government with sections classified as “top secret.”

Such incidents helped make 2021 a record year for data breaches, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Data exposure events, in which sensitive data is left sitting online, were responsible for cybersecurity incidents involving an estimated 164 million of the 294 million people victimized in 2021, according to the center.

For years, companies have been vowing to harden their electronic defenses as cybersecurityfirms repeatedly warned them about the pitfalls of thisformoflaxity. But to little avail. “It keeps happening because people commonly forget or they just think it’s private when it isn’t,” Pompompurin told ProPublica.

There’s another reason, one that companies don’t like to talk about: It’s often cheaper to clean up a breach than it is to avoid one in the first place. Corporate losses from a data breach typically run around $200,000, according to a recent study of 56,000 cybersecurity incidents published by the Cyentia Institute, a cybersecurity research firm.

What's the difference?


Really, all they did was beat a few cops and try to destroy democracy


Why we feel confident about decisions we make

Even when we're wrong

ETH Zurich

A team of researchers led by ETH Professor Rafael Polanía has shown for the first time that decisions feel right to us if we have compared the options as attentively as possible -- and if we are conscious of having done so. This requires a capacity for introspection.

Buying a second-​hand car at a good price feels good. But choosing a delicious-​looking doughnut in the supermarket leaves us riddled with doubt. 

After all, we resolved to eat a healthier diet this year -- so wouldn't it be better to buy an apple? We've all experienced this feeling at one time or another: some decisions intuitively feel right, while others leave us feeling doubtful and may even cause us to revise our initial choice. But where does this feeling come from?

For the first time, a team of researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich led by ETH Professor Rafael Polanía has investigated this question systematically. The authors used experimental data to develop a computer model that can predict how an individual will choose between different options and why they might subsequently feel confident or doubtful about the decision they made.

Coffee Consumption Has Stimulating Effect on Digestive Processes

How that after-eating coffee affects you

By Enrico de Lazaro

Since coffee is widely consumed worldwide, it is of critical importance to know its effects on the first organs of the body with which it comes in contact during consumption, i.e., the gastrointestinal tract. Surprisingly, research devoted to this aspect remains scarce. 

new review of previous studies, published this week in the journal Nutrients, shows that coffee intake stimulates gastric, biliary, and pancreatic secretions, seeming to favor the first steps of the digestive process.

Dr. Astrid Nehlig reviewed the state of the art on the consequences of drinking coffee at the different levels of the gastrointestinal tract. Image credit:

“The influence of coffee on digestive processes has been known for a long time, and drinking coffee after a meal has become a habit for most of us,” said study author Dr. Astrid Nehlig, a researcher of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and a scientific consultant at the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.

“Indeed, coffee is considered to favor digestion by acting on the acid production of the stomach, on bile and pancreatic secretion, and on colon motility.”

How mRNA and DNA vaccines could soon treat cancers, HIV, autoimmune disorders and genetic diseases

Just imagine how many lives could be saved

Deborah FullerUniversity of Washington

Nucleic acid vaccines use mRNA to give cells instructions on how to
produce a desired protein. Libre de Droit/iStock via Getty Images
The two most successful coronavirus vaccines developed in the U.S. – the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – are both mRNA vaccines. The idea of using genetic material to produce an immune response has opened up a world of research and potential medical uses far out of reach of traditional vaccines.

Deborah Fuller is a microbiologist at the University of Washington who has been studying genetic vaccines for more than 20 years. We spoke to her about the future of mRNA vaccines for The Conversation Weekly podcast.

Below are excerpts from that conversation which have been edited for length and clarity.

How long have gene-based vaccines been in development?

This type of vaccine has been in the works for about 30 years. Nucleic acid vaccines are based on the idea that DNA makes RNA and then RNA makes proteins. For any given protein, once we know the genetic sequence or code, we can design an mRNA or DNA molecule that prompts a person’s cells to start making it.

When we first thought about this idea of putting a genetic code into somebody’s cells, we were studying both DNA and RNA. The mRNA vaccines did not work very well at first. They were unstable and they caused pretty strong immune responses that were not necessarily desirable. For a very long time DNA vaccines took the front seat, and the very first clinical trials were with a DNA vaccine.

But about seven or eight years ago, mRNA vaccines started to take the lead. Researchers solved a lot of the problems – notably the instability – and discovered new technologies to deliver mRNA into cells and ways of modifying the coding sequence to make the vaccines a lot more safe to use in humans.

Once those problems were solved, the technology was really poised to become a revolutionary tool for medicine. This was just when COVID-19 hit.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

McKee low-balls funding to deal with opioid crisis

In his budget, ideology undermines McKee’s response to the substance use crisis

By Steve Ahlquist in UpRiseRI

“It’s about helping people that are struggling and making sure that families get the help they are looking for,” said Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee on Tuesday morning during a press conference at the Rhode Island Attorney General‘s office announcing opioid litigation settlements that will provide over $90 million in funding for state and local efforts to address Rhode Island’s opioid crisis. “We’re certainly determined to use these funds to make sure that we really make a difference.”

The governor stressed the importance of treatment, education and preventative strategies in dealing with the crisis of substance use disorder.

To help deal with the opioid crisis, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) included a request to increase Adult Substance Use Disorder (SUD) residential rates under Medicaid.

The item was included in the department’s 2022 Budget requests, sort of a wishlist each department submits to the Governor each year outlining their budget priorities. This year, of course, was special because of all the American Rescue Plan Act monies coming in. Things that in the past might not receive funding were more likely to be approved because of the large influx of federal funds.

The problem right now is that Rhode Island has a limited number of substance use disorder residential providers and long wait lists due to Rhode Island’s low Medicaid reimbursement rates.

As noted in the EOHHS request, one large Rhode Island facility is in receivership and there is “limited interest” in expanding services from other suppliers, again due to low reimbursement rates “many of which have been unchanged for numerous years [and] have not kept up with the cost-of-service delivery… Low Medicaid reimbursement rates have also prompted some providers to refuse or significantly restrict admission of Medicaid clients.”

“Without intervention,” says EOHHS in their request, “rates will continue to fall behind the amount required to ensure service delivery, nor will Rhode Island be able to attract additional [substance use disorder] providers.”

The cost to Rhode Islanders to fill this request? $679,244. This investment will unlock nearly $2million in additional federal funds that will get Rhode Island on track towards expanding quality, American Society of Addiction Medication (ASAM) services.

Let's make a deal?


Remember this...


Wood River Health Services Behavioral Health Services

Two new staff hired

Sarah Channing

Tegwyn Lacz
In response to the increased demand for behavioral health services in its community, Wood River Health Services (WRHS) has expanded its team of behavioral health providers by hiring Vicki Carter, PSYD and Tegwyn Lacz, LMFT. Behavioral health services are available to current WRHS medical or dental patients as part of their integrated care that reflects the whole of each individual’s unique health needs. 

WRHS’ behavioral health services offers integrated counseling and psychiatric services to WRHS patients experiencing issues such as chronic health conditions, anxiety, depression, life changes, relationship issues, grief and loss, substance use and medication management.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the behavioral health of our community members,” stated WRHS’ President & CEO Alison Croke, MHA. “Expanding our behavioral health team in Hope Valley and Westerly means more of our patients will be connected with the tools and support they require to improve their quality of life.” 

Vicki Carter
Vicki Carter, PSYD and Tegwyn Lacz, LMFT have recently accepted positions as Behavioral Health Clinicians at WRHS. They have joined a collaborative team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and behavioral health clinicians who work in partnership with patients, providing them with evidence-based tools and support to help them achieve their individualized recovery plans.  

To better serve its behavioral health patients, WRHS recently launched a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, an evidence-based method of treatment that aids individuals in managing their substance use. MAT is one of the safest and most effective options available for individuals living with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). Program costs are covered by Medicaid and most private insurance companies.  

“Our MAT program offers an effective approach that includes counseling and medications that focus on managing symptoms, feelings and behaviors associated with substance use,” shared WRHS’ Director of Behavioral Health Amanda Brycki, LMHC, LPC. “We provide individualized support to help our patients believe they can be successful and achieve their personal treatment goals.” 

WRHS is also a partner in the Zero Suicide Program, which is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and administered by a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. For information about WRHS’ behavioral health programs or Medication Assisted Treatment, call (401) 539-2461. 

Life’s stages are changing

We need new terms and new ideas to describe how adults develop and grow

Jeffrey ArnettClark University

These days, people in their 20s are figuring out who they are as
adults, rather than experiencing “extended adolescence.” 
Hinterhaus Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images
What image comes to mind when you think of a person in their 20s?

Do you imagine an adult stressed out by the weight of many new responsibilities in family and work roles?

Or do you envision someone who is bursting with hope and undeveloped potential, still more of a kid than an adult, struggling to define a life and making little or no money but managing to find occasional joy nevertheless? 

Perhaps your soundtrack here is Taylor Swift’s radiant “22”: “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.”

How about when you think of someone in their 60s?

Do you envision someone – or maybe a happy couple – enjoying life, living well, still vigorous but now freer than before from daily work and family duties?

Or do you see someone who is stooped over from a lifetime of carrying burdens, their health diminished, now shuffling toward no particular destination? Here the soundtrack might be the doleful Beatles song “When I’m 64”: “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64?”

The whole arc of adult development has changed over the past several decades, in ways that our psychological theories are still catching up with. In the 21st century, does it still make sense to refer to “young adulthood,” “midlife” and “late adulthood,” as psychologists have been doing for so long? If not, what are more accurate concepts?

Most of my career as a developmental psychologist has been devoted to answering these questions. My theory of emerging adulthood recognizes that the lives of younger adults have changed vastly since the 1960s. As the father of 22-year-old twins, I’m keenly aware of their journey through the new life stage I have been researching and writing about for so long. As a 64-year-old, I’m also turning my attention to how the 60s have changed from what they used to be.

Immunocompromised CAN get 4th dose

But some pharmacies are turning away immunocompromised patients seeking 4th COVID shot


Patients with weakened immune systems — who are at high risk from covid-19 — say pharmacies are turning them away when they seek additional vaccine doses recommended by federal health officials.

Alyson Smith became eligible this month for a fourth vaccine dose because her medications leave her immunocompromised.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages most adults to receive a total of three mRNA vaccines — two “primary” vaccinations and a booster — the agency now advises people with weak immune systems to receive three primary shots plus a booster, for a total of four doses.

Many people are confused about the difference between a primary vaccine series and a booster. A primary vaccine series helps people build antibodies to a new pathogen, while a booster combats waning immunity.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Why Medicare Doesn’t Pay for Rapid At-Home Covid Tests

Medicare generally (but not always) excludes over-the-counter medical needs


What group is especially vulnerable to the ravages of covid-19 even if fully vaccinated and boosted? Seniors. 

And who will have an especially tough time getting free at-home covid tests under the Biden administration’s plan? Yes, seniors.

As of Jan. 15, private insurers will cover the cost of eight at-home rapid covid tests each month for their members — for as long as the public health emergency lasts.

Finding the tests will be hard enough, but Medicare beneficiaries face an even bigger hurdle: The administration’s new rule doesn’t apply to them.

It turns out that the laws governing traditional Medicare don’t provide for coverage of self-administered diagnostic tests, which is precisely what the rapid antigen tests are and why they are an important tool for containing the pandemic.

That was nice of them to do that for you





URI announces Black History Month events

URI hosts lectures, workshops, panel discussions, art exhibits, concert 

Dawn Bergantino

Dr. Trinitia Cannon, director of Head and Neck Surgical
Oncology and division chief at Duke University Health System,
will discuss her journey from teen mom to
surgeon, Feb. 3. (Photo courtesy Dr. Trinitia Cannon)
A respected surgeon discussing the road she took from Warren, Ohio, as a teen mom to nursing school, medical school and on to become the Director of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Division Chief at Duke University Health System is just one of the impressive individuals who is scheduled to speak during Black History Month at the University of Rhode Island.

Dr. Trinitia Cannon is a head and neck and microvascular surgeon at Duke University. She is also an associate professor of head and neck surgery and communication sciences. However, her true passion is for mentoring and for the medical education of her students and residents. 

She will share her story, “Teen Mom to Surgeon, #Grit, Motivation and Determination,” on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. 

Her talk will be held in the Hope Room of the URI Welcome Center, 45 Upper College Road, Kingston. This event is free and open to the public; however, due to space limitations, registration is required. The event will also be available virtually. For more information and registration information, visit:

On Thursday, Feb. 10, N.J. Unaka, an architect based in Providence who has worked and taught across the country and overseas, will hold a workshop from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Hope Room of the Welcome Center. Unaka, who has a degree in civil engineering as well as a Ph.D. in architecture, finds his research and development work at the intersection of ecologically sensitive solutions, community participation, design and implementation. 

He is also the co-founder of ReThink Factory, a think tank dedicated to ecologically sensitive design, social justice, and appropriate technology. His workshop is intended for all students interested in environmental justice, regardless of design background. For more information and registration information, visit:

Also on Feb. 10, Unaka will deliver a lecture, “Climate Justice through Design: Using Design Tools for Community Empowerment,” discussing the impacts of design through the ages. While it is not surprising that those who have caused the least damage to the environment are often those most negatively affected by design, Unaka also notes the ability to implement design ideas in the public realm is empowering. 

His discussion will cover the impact of design as well as tools and ideas that can be used by any interested citizen to gain a better understanding of the effects of climate on buildings and vice versa. The goal of this lecture is to better understand how design can have fewer negative impacts and more positive impacts on the environment and our communities.

This event is free and open to the public and will take place in the Hope Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m. However, due to space limitations, registration is required. The event will also be available virtually. For more information and registration information, visit:

Black History Month Events

Sixth annual R.I. Food System Summit focuses on innovation

Seeks investment to build a stronger, more resilient state food system

Rhode Island’s seafood sector continues to grow with aquaculture – like this oyster farm on Narragansett Bay – experiencing a tenfold increase in the last decade. (URI photo by Ayla Fox)

By Tony LaRoche

Nearly 600 people have tuned in to watch the sixth annual Rhode Island Food System Summit hosted by the University of Rhode Island. Held Jan. 20, the virtual summit Driving Food Innovation Through Sustainable Partnerships,” brought together experts in agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries; policy experts; government leaders; and stakeholders from across Rhode Island’s food system to discuss ways to increase food production in the state and across the country in the interest of creating a more sustainable, more equitable, and more resilient food system.

The food summit was organized by the URI Business Engagement Center. “The Center is thrilled to host this event once again and help connect food partners to the university and state,” said Katharine Hazard Flynn, executive director of the BEC, who emceed the day’s events. 

“The theme for this year’s event was particularly meaningful as we welcomed the state’s new director of food strategy, Julianne Stelmaszyk, and we plan for Rhode Island’s future as it relates to the food system.”

Tonga eruption was so intense, it caused the atmosphere to ring like a bell

Fearsome wonder of nature

Kevin HamiltonUniversity of Hawaii

The volcano shortly before its eruption. Maxar via Getty Images
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption reached an explosive crescendo on Jan. 15, 2022. Its rapid release of energy powered an ocean tsunami that caused damage as far away as the U.S. West Coast, but it also generated pressure waves in the atmosphere that quickly spread around the world.

The atmospheric wave pattern close to the eruption was quite complicated, but thousands of miles away it appeared as an isolated wave front traveling horizontally at over 650 miles an hour as it spread outward.

NASA’s James Garvin, chief scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, told NPR the space agency estimated the blast was around 10 megatons of TNT equivalent, about 500 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World Word II. From satellites watching with infrared sensors above, the wave looked like a ripple produced by dropping a stone in a pond.

Animation shows the pulse moving around the world.
Satellite infrared observations captured the pulse propagating around the world. Mathew Barlow/University of Massachusetts Lowell

The pulse registered as perturbations in the atmospheric pressure lasting several minutes as it moved over North America, India, Europe and many other places around the globe. Online, people followed the progress of the pulse in real time as observers posted their barometric observations to social media. The wave propagated around the whole world and back in about 35 hours.

I am a meteorologist who has studied the oscillations of the global atmosphere for almost four decades. The expansion of the wave front from the Tonga eruption was a particularly spectacular example of the phenomenon of global propagation of atmospheric waves, which has been seen after other historic explosive events, including nuclear tests.

This eruption was so powerful it caused the atmosphere to ring like a bell, though at a frequency too low to hear. It’s a phenomenon first theorized over 200 years ago.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Governor McKee’s budget proposes interest rate cut for tax dead beats

So who exactly will Governor McKee’s tax cut help? 

By Steve Ahlquist

Classic McKee move. Many of the top dead beats don't live in RI
any more.
If you were to fall behind on, or simply not pay your taxes, the government will come after you, and in addition to collecting the money owed, the government will also assess penalties and interest on the outstanding balance. 

In Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee‘s proposed 2022 Budget, the interest rate on taxes owed to the state will be substantially lowered, from 18% to 12%. This sounds good, because oftentimes, we might imagine, poor people fall behind on their taxes and some relief would be welcomed.

You can find this tax break on pages 143 and 144 of the Governor’s tax proposal here.

But in truth, this is a tax break not for struggling families, but for rich tax delinquents. The tax break would be lowered for businesses that failed to remit sales taxes to the state: taxes the business collected when consumers purchased goods and services, but never delivered to the treasury. Also receiving a tax break will be those who have fallen behind on or refused to pay their insurance premium taxes, business taxes and state income taxes.

So who exactly will Governor McKee’s tax cut help? Fortunately, we know exactly who because the Rhode Island Division of Taxation publishes a list of the Top 100 Income Tax Delinquents and a list of the Top 100 Business Tax Delinquents.

You can also see the list of Rhode Island's Top 100 Tax deadbeats in THIS Progressive Charlestown article

Among those Governor McKee wants to give a tax break to is former candidate for Rhode Island Governor Giovanni Feroce, who owns over $1.2m, and is listed at his Newport address, a $4.4m home in Newport. Also on the list are William and Marielle Reilly whose address is listed at a nearly $600k home in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Reillys owe in excess of $2m in income tax.

Why do so many Trumplicans love Russia?


Be Prepared!


Fake fire district in Narragansett takes a big hit

Judge rules residents need not own property to vote in Bonnet Shores Fire District

By Steve Ahlquist

Last June UpriseRI covered the Bonnet Shores Fire District (BSFDelection night, an arcane, tradition-filled affair that disqualified Narragansett residents that don’t own property from voting. The BSFD election even disqualified people who do own property but whose names are not on the deed, such as Melissa Jenkins, who co-owns a house in the district with her spouse.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Charlestown has two fake fire districts, Shady Harbor and Quonochontaug Central Beach. These are home owner associations in disguise because they do not have the capacity to fight fires and serve mostly as a tax dodge.   - Will Collette 

During an election to fill 14 open positions in the Bonnet Shores government, Jenkins was forced to watch the proceedings. Jenkins’ right to vote was not only ignored, she also suffered insults from candidate Robert Anderson, who called her ignorant and a liar.

In Rhode Island, one would think that the idea of owning property to ensure suffrage would be anathema given the historic importance of the Dorr Rebellion which dealt with the very issue of a democracy owned by a small cadre of rich elite property owners and opened up the franchise to more people (while, it should be said, still ignoring the rights of Black, Indigenous and women voters.)

Aside from preventing resident non-property owners from voting, the BSFD also allows votes from non-residents. As the ACLU of Rhode Island explained in their brief, “…the 4,948 joint owners of the 930 ‘cabanas’ and ‘bathhouses’ of the Bonnet Shores Beach Club [BSFD] each have a vote, regardless of how many times — if any — they visit BSFD during the year. 

Blizzard will hit Charlestown tonight

BLIZZARD warning extends from midnight tonight to tomorrow night
Charlestown forecast: 12-18 inches
It's only 1 PM and the snow has already started to fall 
By Will Collette

Check out the NOAA/NWS winter storm tracker - CLICK HERE.

The National Weather Service has substantially upgraded its storm forecast for Rhode Island to a "Blizzard Warning" as the storm gets closer.  The National Weather Service webpage for Charlestown calls for snow to start after midnight tonight and continue for about 24 hours. It will be cold and very windy with gusts up to 55mph in the forecast. That increases the likelihood of power outages.

As the hours move by, that forecast may change - I plan to update this post at least once before showtime. And again, I include our collection of best tips for snow survival that starts right after the forecast information.

The National Weather Service has an interesting weather forecasting tool that offers their best calculation of probability. It gives you a different take than the conventional town forecast webpage. See the graphic, above, or CLICK HERE

The Tracker lets you dive deeper to see the odds the NWS puts on various snow totals. They put the odds 60% that Charlestown will get 12" or more, 31-33% that we get 18" or more. 

Whatever. We'll find out tomorrow. 

Here's a screen shot of the latest standard NWS forecast. It differs slightly from the projections in the NWS winter storm tracker most likely due to the difference in when the forecasts were published.

The forecast range on this new Weather Service tool shows the lowest possible snowfall for Charlestown at 5.2 inches and the highest (10% odds) at 23.9 inches. 

11 AM forecast from the NWS: 

To do our bit to help, I am reprinting our collection of things to do and not do to get through the storm safely.

You can read this before or after you rush to the Stop & Shop to load up on milk, white bread and Pampers, but please do read it. In a so-called "Bomb Cyclone" like this, there is always the chance of power outages or internet interruptions.

Since we all should be snugly hunkered down anyway during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider this just another way to spend the time.

In this article, we’ll review some storm basics, such as what you need to do to prepare, where you can get local emergency information and how to shovel snow without causing a heart attack or damaged back. 

Also, how to stay out of trouble for violating Charlestown's town ordinance against throwing snowballs. Violating that ordinance could land you in jail for up to 30 days.

To monitor power outages:

Make sure you check your windows and doors. Have your storm equipment (flashlights, batteries, lanterns, shovels, etc.) where you can easily find it . Check your food supply to make sure you have enough for your household, including your companion animals (and the birds)

Charge your cell phones and other electronic devices. The high winds and heavy snow are likely to knock out some power in our area. 

In Charlestown, you can count on Kevin Gallup to be working this around the clock running the Charlestown Emergency Management Agency. Click here for the CEMA webpage. 

There is a listing of emergency contact information here. If you have special needs, i.e. someone in the household with a chronic illness, click here

After the storm is over, you’re obviously going to want to dig out but please use common sense and caution to prevent injury or heart attack. 

If you’re at risk, make sure you are carrying your cell phone in case you need to call for help.

Here's more on winter driving safety, then on safe snow shoveling and then on the town's prohibition against snowball-throwing.
Winter Driving and Safety Tips

From the RI Department of Transportation

How to prepare for winter driving

Avoid unnecessary travel during winter storms.

Get your vehicle winterized. Have your anti-freeze, battery, brakes, heater, exhaust system and lights tested. Make sure your tires are in good condition, and consider replacing them if they are nearing the end of their treadlife at the start of the winter driving season. Never travel with less than a half tank of gas. Equip your vehicle with jumper cables, road flares, a shovel, salt, extra warm clothes, sleeping bag or blankets, hat, mittens, and boots, a windshield scraper and a towline.

Carry a winter survival kit. Include flashlights, blankets, hand/foot warmer packets, first aid supplies, high energy candy or snacks, bright fabric to tie on the antenna for help if stranded, candles to melt snow for drinking water, pencil, paper and cell phone or change for phone calls.

Notify others of your travel plans. Tell someone where you are going and the route. Report a safe arrival.

Slow down and stay behind the snowplows
. The road behind the plow will be the safest place to drive. Allow at least five car lengths between your vehicle and snowplows. Do not pass, especially on the right where large amounts of snow are kicked up. The plows are wide, and sometimes a group of trucks will work in tandem to clear snow quickly, especially on highways. 

Be particularly aware of black ice conditions on surfaces such as bridge decks and entrance and exit ramps. 

Turn on headlights and turn off cruise control settings.

Technology helps, but only to a point. Four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and traction control are beneficial advancements in today's cars, trucks and SUVs, but they can't take the place of good driving habits and the need to reduce speed on snowy or icy roads.

Call 511 to get current information on road conditions.

After the storm, clear all snow and ice from your windows, hood, roof and trunk of your vehicle. This is especially important for drivers of box trucks, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles. A sudden release of snow or ice on the highway can create hazardous driving conditions, cause a crash or damage a vehicle behind you. Clearing ice and snow from your vehicle is not only a good idea, it's a law. 

What to do if you are stranded in a winter storm

Jack is now a dull boy
Stay in your vehicle. Walking away in a storm is very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach and/or become exhausted. Your vehicle is your best shelter.

Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It's better to be chilly and awake than to be comfortably warm and be overcome with carbon monoxide fumes. Keep your exhaust pipe free of snow and run your engine only for short periods of time, leaving a window away from the wind slightly open.

Keep warm without fuel. Loosen tight clothing and change positions frequently. Move your arms and legs, massage fingers and toes; tuck your hands between your legs or under your armpits. Huddle together with others to share body heat. Elevate your feet to improve circulation.

Call 911 if you have a cell phone. Describe your location, the condition of those in the car and what happened. Stay on the line until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.

What RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance does to control snow and ice

RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance staff as well as private contractors will clear many miles of Rhode Island state roadway this winter. Maintenance supervisors use technology to guide drivers with updates on weather, pavement and traffic conditions. RIDOT's Roadway Weather Information Systems (RWIS) provide the Department with pavement temperature information. This helps determine when icy conditions may be present and aids in the selection and application of anti-icing and de-icing materials.

RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance uses three techniques to inhibit ice formation and improve the roadway surface for plowing. They include:

1.Anti-icing. Anti-icing prevents the formation of frost and bonding between snow and ice and pavement. Anti-icing chemicals are primarily liquids applied before or early in a snowfall.

2. Pre-wetting. Pre-wetting adds chemical solutions to the salt and sand mixture, causing the mixture to stick to the road instead of blowing off to the shoulder.

3. De-icing. De-icing uses chemical or mechanical means to separate ice and pavement.

Safe Snow Shoveling Tips
From: Andy Soos, 

When one shovels snow one thinks of back problems and slipping. Another urban legend tells of heart attacks. Urban legend warns shoveling snow causes heart attacks, and the legend seems all too accurate, especially for male wintery excavators with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease.

However, until recently this warning was based on anecdotal reports. Two of the most important cardiology associations in the US include snow -shoveling on their websites as a high risk physical activity, but all the citation references indicate that this warning was based one or two incidents.

"We thought that this evidence should not be enough to convince us that snow-shoveling is potentially dangerous, " says Adrian Baranchuk, a professor in Queen’s School of Medicine and a cardiologist atKingston General Hospital.

Dr. Baranchuk and his team retrospectively reviewed KGH patient records from the two previous winter seasons and discovered that of the 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems during this period, 7 per cent (35 patients) had started experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.

"That is a huge number," says Dr. Baranchuk. "7 per cent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion. Also, if we take into account that we may have missed some patients who did not mention that they were shoveling snow around the time that the episode occurred, that number could easily double."

A heart attack results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable portion of the wall of an artery. The resulting restriction in blood supply and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue.

Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.

The team also identified three main factors that put individuals at a high risk when shoveling snow. The number one factor was gender (31 of the 35 patients were male), the second was a family history of premature coronary artery disease (20 of the 35 patients), and the third was smoking (16 out of 35 patients). The second two factors may carry much more weight than the first, however, since the team could not correct for high rate of snow shoveling among men in their sample.

For further information:as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable portion of the artery wall.,  . The resulting restriction in blood supply and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death of heart muscle tissue.

Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue. Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, that is without chest pain or other symptoms.

EDITOR'S NOTE: if you meet some of the high-risk criteria and go out and shovel, make sure someone knows you're out there. Bring a cell phone, two-way radio or even a whistle to let people know if you are in distress. Carry aspirin or the convenient aspirin powder packs where you can easily reach them.


With this storm in the forecast, Charlestown faces a potential crime wave from persons who may openly flout Charlestown's long-standing prohibitions pertaining snow balls.

Snowball animated GIF
Namely, Chapter 162, Peace and good order, section 162-1.H., Actions unlawful: "No person acting alone or in concert with others shall: ... H. Throw any stone, snowball or other missile object upon or at any person, vehicle, building, tree , sign or other public or private property."

The penalties for throwing snow balls at at person, tree, vehicle or building can be severe:

"Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished, for each violation, by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days. The continuation of a violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute, for each day the violation is continued, a separate and distinct violation hereunder".

You could be prosecuted in Charlestown's Municipal Court and end up in one of the jail cells in the basement of the police station - one of them padded.