FONDA — Montgomery County Public Health has issued the following safety advice during winter storms.
Winter may leave a beautiful wonderland, but it also creates a dangerous and hazardous environment. Winter storms can immobilize a region and disrupt power and emergency/medical services. Roofs and buildings can collapse; trees, power lines and communication towers can come down; farms can be isolated and livestock lost; essentials can be in short supply. Being prepared for severe winter weather that includes heavy snow, ice, strong winds, extreme cold and even flooding if a thaw follows is very important.
Before the storm
You can protect yourself and your family and plan for possible emergencies before the storm:
∫ Stay informed of the weather. Set up your phone to receive alerts for your area.
∫ Have a family storm readiness plan in place. You may not all be together, so know how you will contact one another.
∫ Purchase a weather radio or a radio with a battery backup. Have battery-powered flashlights and lanterns available as well as extra replacement batteries.
∫ Make sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly.
∫ Maintain an emergency pack in your home and in your car. Include ready-to-eat food, water, first aid kit, necessary medications, blankets or sleeping bags, and extra clothing for everyone in the family.
∫ Winterize your vehicle, maintain it in good repair (battery, lights, wipers and fluid, brakes) and keep your gas tank full.
∫ Have cash on hand in case bank machines and electronic payment methods are not available.
∫ Make sure pets and animals have sheltered areas and plenty of water and food.
On the road
During the storm, there are important decisions to make if you have to travel.Seventy percent of winter storm-related injuries and fatalities are the result of vehicle accidents.
∫ Don’t drive unless it is truly necessary. If you have to be out, make sure someone knows your route and timetable. If you are out when a storm begins, get off the road as soon as possible to avoid being stranded.
∫ Remove snow and ice from your vehicle as it helps to see and to be seen.
∫ Warm up your vehicle to reduce moisture condensing on the inside of the windows.
∫ Use extra care due to a possible reduction in tire traction from snow and ice as well as poor visibility.
∫ Stay buckled and slow down. Lengthen the following distance; slippery roads may double stop time. Steel and concrete bridges are likely to be icy first as they cool down faster.
∫ Be alert for black ice: it appears as shiny new asphalt; pavement should look gray-white in winter.
∫ Do not use cruise control — you must be in full control at all times.
∫ Dress appropriately in multiple thin layers of clothing and warm, waterproof footwear.
∫ Account for possible delays. Include in your winter driving kit bags of sand or kitty litter, snow brush and ice scraper, booster cables, warning devices, warm clothing and blankets, and emergency food and water.
∫ Attempting to walk in a severe winter storm can be deadly. If you become trapped in your vehicle, stay in the vehicle. Run the motor about ten minutes each hour. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
During the storm, stay indoors. Twenty-five percent of injuries and fatalities occur to people out on foot in a storm.
∫ If you are using alternate heat from a fireplace, woodstove or kerosene space heater, make sure you have proper ventilation and fire protections in place. Never use a generator, gas grill, camp stove or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage or basement.
∫ Run water, even at a trickle, to prevent pipes from freezing.
∫ Dress warmly in multiple layers of loose fitting clothing. Outer clothing should be hooded and water repellant if you have to go outside. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Always wear a hat. Cover your mouth and exposed skin with a scarf, neck tube or face mask if it is extremely cold.
∫ If you have to shovel, avoid overexertion especially if you have prior medical conditions. Blood vessels are constricted by the cold and the heart has to work harder. The added stress of shoveling snow or walking in deep snow could trigger a heart attack or stroke.
∫ Keep dry and change wet clothing frequently.
∫ Be alert for frostbite by checking for numbness or white areas on your face and extremities.
∫ Help your neighbors who are elderly, people living alone, or who require special assistance.
∫ Check on your animals and pets and bring them indoors, if possible.
For more information, call Suzanne Stench, community health worker, at (518) 853-3531.