WINTER WEATHER COULD PRODUCE MORE DOWNED TREES AND POWER OUTAGES IN VIRGINIA - Residents Urged to Prepare Now
RICHMOND, VA As the Commonwealth recovers from the widespread devastation of Hurricane Isabel, state emergency management officials advise citizens to be ready for additional power outages, fallen trees and flooding as winter approaches. "Hurricane Isabel illustrated the importance of being prepared for floods and prolonged power outages," said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "In winter, those same power outages combined with freezing temperatures could create a potentially deadly situation. All Virginians need to be prepared for severe winter weather and have some form of alternative heat source available if needed." The following tips can help you and your family prepare for the winter months:
- Stock an emergency supply of water and non-perishable foods.
- Make sure you keep the following in a convenient location: flashlight, battery-powered radio, spare batteries, first-aid kit and extra prescription medications.
- Maintain an adequate supply of fuel for your home. Have an alternate heat source such as a wood stove, fireplace or space heater in case you lose power.
- If you use a generator, make sure you connect it to the item you want to power.
Don’t connect the generator directly to your home’s circuit breaker unless you consult a certified electrician first. Remember to place the generator outside in a well-ventilated area.
To prevent hypothermia, dress warmly. Several layers of lightweight clothing or blankets are better than a single, heavy layer. Also, wear a hat when going outside. Nearly half of your body’s heat is lost through the head.
- Check on elderly neighbors and relatives. The elderly are especially susceptible to hypothermia even inside their homes.
- Icy surfaces can be slippery and dangerous. Clear walkways and sidewalks to injury.
- Winterize your car by having a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and thermostat. Make sure your tires have good traction to drive in snow.
- Keep basic items in your car such as a windshield scraper, battery booster cables, tow chain, bag of sand, blanket, flashlight, first-aid kit, road map and some non-perishable food.
- When severe winter weather threatens, stay at home unless you absolutely have to drive.
- If you get stranded in a snowstorm, stay in your car. Don’t seek shelter or a telephone unless you see one nearby. For heat, turn on the car engine for brief periods.
- To keep your home’s water pipes from freezing, wrap them in pipe insulation. During long, cold periods, allow each faucet to drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Cold weather puts a strain on the heart, even without exertion. Be careful when shoveling snow or pushing a car.
For more information about winter weather preparedness, including tips for winter travel and assembling a winter travel kit for your car, visit www.vaemergency.gov