PEMA Urges Winter Weather Preparedness

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ — Winter can be a beautiful time of year in Pennsylvania, but downed power lines, ice storms, frozen water pipes and blizzards can turn peaceful settings into dangerous situations at home and on the road. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency says it’s important to prepare for winter weather before it strikes.

“The recent snow, ice and cold weather events across the commonwealth this past weekend should serve as a reminder for Pennsylvanians to pack winter storm kits in their homes and vehicles in the event of an emergency,” PEMA Director James R. Joseph said.

“Motorists should prepare to travel safely, or alter travel plans as needed. Safe travel means preparing our vehicles for winter driving, staying in touch with family and loved ones, and avoiding unnecessary risks.”

At home during a winter storm, PEMA recommends having drinking water, a first-aid kit, canned/no-cook food, a non-electric can opener, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries available in an easily-accessible place. If prescription or over-the-counter medicines are needed, get an extra supply.

Also, know how public warnings are issued on radio and television and learn what each kind of broadcast weather alert means. For example:

— “Winter weather advisory” means weather conditions are expected to
cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to
motorists;
— “Winter storm watch” means be alert, a storm is likely;
— “Winter storm warning” means take action, a storm is in, or entering,
the area; and
— “Blizzard warning” means snow and strong winds will produce near-zero
visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill — seek
refuge immediately.

Keeping Warm at Home

— Dress in several layers of loosely fitting, lightweight, warm
clothing. Outer garments, like hats, mittens, scarves, and boots,
should be tightly woven and water-repellent.
— Properly insulate walls and attics. Caulk and weather-strip doors and
windows. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the
inside. Protect pipes by wrapping them in insulation and let faucets
drip to prevent freezing.
— Fireplace and wood stove chimneys should be inspected annually to
make sure the residue left by burning wood has not accumulated.
— Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood- or coal-
burning stove or kerosene heater, as a backup.
— Keep kerosene and propane heaters at least three feet away from
combustible substances, like furniture, blankets and rugs. Never
substitute one type of fuel for another.
— Run generators outside only. Open windows and fans do not provide
enough ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide.

Road Safety
— Avoid driving during a winter storm or blizzard warning. If travel is
necessary, do it in daylight and don’t travel alone.
— Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair.
— Make sure batteries, ignition systems, thermostats, lights, flashers,
exhausts, heaters, brakes, defrosters and tires of vehicles are
working. Check antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and oil levels.
— Pack a shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra
batteries, water, snacks, hats and mittens, blankets, tow chains or
ropes, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and a
fluorescent distress flag in vehicles.
— Drive only at speeds dictated by conditions and increase distances
between vehicles.
— Share travel schedules and routes and stay on main roads. Carry a
cell phone.

Motorists within Pennsylvania may call PennDOT’s 24-hour, toll-free Road Condition Hotline at 1-888-783-6783 for interstate conditions. Out-of-state motorists can call 717-783-5186. In the event of an emergency, call 911. For additional emergency preparedness and winter safety information please visit the PA Emergency Management Agency Web site at http://www.pema.state.pa.us/.

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