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State officials warn citizens to plan for snow, dangerous cold

January 2, 2014

HARRISBURG — State health and emergency management officials are urging the public to pay attention to forecasts which currently call for snowfall across much of Pennsylvania into Friday morning, followed by bitterly cold temperatures.

“People who do travel should be certain to have essential items in their vehicle such as food, water and warm clothes to help contend with the potential for dangerous conditions if travel delays occur,” said Dave Holl, deputy director of operations at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. “Wind and extreme temperatures could lead to hazardous driving conditions, and dangerous wind chills will make it unsafe to be outside for any extended period of time.”

While snowfall accumulation will vary greatly across the state, bitterly cold temperatures in the teens and single digits, accompanied by below-zero wind chills, will move in after the storm and will impact the
entire state.

The Department of Health is urging Pennsylvanians to take the following commonsense steps to reduce the risk of health hazards during and after the storm:

PREVENT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING DURING POWER OUTAGES

• Never use an electric generator, camp stove or similar device indoors since they produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that builds up in closed spaces and is deadly.

• Leave your home immediately and call 911 if your carbon monoxide detector sounds. Get medical help right away if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are dizzy, light headed or nauseous.

STAY AS WARM AS POSSIBLE

• Hypothermia is a serious condition that happens when your body temperature is too low. Older Pennsylvanians and babies are most at risk and should be checked frequently. If your power is out for a long time, stay with a relative or friend, or go to a shelter if one is open in your area.

If you must venture outdoors, make trips brief and dress warmly. Cover your ears, head, mouth and face to prevent frostbite.

PREVENT SNOW REMOVAL INJURIES

• If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other symptoms of a heart attack while shoveling snow, call 911.

• When possible, push snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, bend your legs and not your back. Also avoid twisting motions that can stress your back.

• If using a snow blower, read and follow all safety instructions.

Never call 911 to request or report road conditions. When calling 911 to report an emergency, it is critical for callers to stay on the line, even if for an extended series of rings, until the operator answers.

Hang-ups due to frustration result in key minutes being lost as 911 center personal attempt to re- establish contact.

To check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads, visit www.511PA.com or simply call 511.

The commonwealth’s ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved.

More detailed information, including downloadable emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 1- 888-9-READY-PA.

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