DELAWARE COUNTY – Some forecasters are predicting that the area will be hit with yet another ice storm Monday.
With that dreary possibility looming, Delaware County residents need to be prepared.
County residents are becoming old hands at dealing with disastrous ice events, and many may already be as ready as they can be.
However, it is always best in such situations to do as much as possible to ensure the safety of family and friends.
According to disaster relief volunteers, besides preparing your home for the weather, one of the most important things you can do is to check on your neighbors and family members and give assistance whenever possible until help arrives.
The following information was obtained from the American Red Cross’s website: http://www.redcross.org/index.html.
Prepare a Winter Storm Plan
* Have extra blankets on hand.
* Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing—
* First aid kit and essential medications.
* Battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
* Canned food and can opener.
* Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days).
* Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens, and a hat.
* Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit for your car, too.
* Have your car winterized before winter storm season.
Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings. . .
* Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
Know What Winter Storm WATCHES and WARNINGS Mean
* A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area.
* A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area.
* A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!
When a Winter Storm WATCH is Issued…
* Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, and TV stations, or cable TV such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
* Be alert to changing weather conditions.
* Avoid unnecessary travel.
When a Winter Storm WARNING is Issued…
* Stay indoors during the storm.
* If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
* Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin.
* As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rated, driving down the body temperature.
* Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
* After the storm, if you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.
* Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must…
* Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
* Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
* Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If You Do Get Stuck…
* Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
* Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
* Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
* Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
* As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
* Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
What to Do After a Winter Storm
* Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked.
* Help a neighbor who may require special assistance—infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
* Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved. Roads may be blocked by snow or emergency vehicles.
* Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.
* Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by even colder conditions.
Top Safety Tips for a Blackout
* Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles!
* Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.
* Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
* Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
* If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.
* Listen to local radio and television for updated information.
How Can I Prepare Before a Blackout Happens?
Assemble essential supplies, including:
* Portable radio
* At least one gallon of water
* A small supply of food.
* Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power outage.
If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water). Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
If you use a computer, keep files and operating systems backed up regularly. Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer. A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle. Also, turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they're not being used. That way, if the power goes out, this equipment will have already been safely shut down. Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment. If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment dealer about available equipment and costs.
If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.
If you have a telephone instrument or system at home or at work that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication, including having a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio, or pager. Remember, too, that some voice mail systems and remote dial-up servers for computer networks may not operate when the power is out where these systems are located. So even if you have power, your access to remote technology may be interrupted if the power that serves those areas is disrupted. Check with remote service providers to see if they have backup power systems, and how long those systems will operate.
Keep your car fuel tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts.
Specific Information for People With Disabilities
If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system, or other power-dependent equipment, call your power company before rolling blackouts happen. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Ask them what alternatives are available in your area. Contact the customer service department of your local utility company(ies) to learn if this service is available in your community.
If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.
If you are Blind or have a visual disability, store a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.
If you are Deaf or have a hearing loss, consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
Using a Generator
If you are considering obtaining a generator, get advice from a licensed professional, such as an electrician. Make sure the generator is listed with Underwriter's Laboratories or a similar organization. Some municipalities, Air Quality Districts, or states have "air quality permit" requirements. A licensed electrician will be able to give you more information on these matters. Always plan to keep the generator outdoors — never operate it inside, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and back feeding power to your home is an unsafe method to supply a building during a power outage.
For more information about using generators safely, see the Generator fact sheet.
What Do I Do During A Blackout?
Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace.
Leave one light turned on so you'll know when your power returns.
Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage. See the Red Cross brochure called, "Help The Power Is Out" for more information.
Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information — only call to report a life-threatening emergency.
Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage.
Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.
If it is cold outside, put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (relative, friend, or public facility) that has heat to keep warm.