The National Weather Service has issued Winter Weather Watches and Warnings in and around New York State, with heavy and drifting snow predicted to move south to north beginning early Wednesday and continue through Thanksgiving on Thursday. While the storm is not predicted to become severe at this time, the State is actively monitoring the storm and taking all precautions necessary to prepare.
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The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- Keep vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving.
- Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:
- Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations.
- Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered.
- Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces.
- Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing.
- Have a cell phone handy and charged.
- Equip your car with emergency supplies.
- Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival.
- Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.
- Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
Trapped in a Car
- Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.
- Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
- Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.
- Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Preparing your vehicle for winter weather travel will help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most.
- Have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Oil level
- Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. You may also want to carry a set of tire chains in your vehicle for heavy snow conditions.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal and maintain at least a half tank of gas throughout the winter season.
- Finally, plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.
- When removing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks, stay clear of electric and natural gas meters to avoid damaging them, inadvertently disrupting service or putting yourself in danger. Snow and ice can damage electric and natural gas meters, natural gas pipes and natural gas regulators, so never bury any of this equipment when shoveling, using a snowblower or plowing.
- When removing snow or ice from a roof, never let it fall on electric or natural gas meters or related equipment.
- Clear dryer vents of snow. If blocked it can cause fires. Furnace vents should also be cleared to prevent carbon monoxide backing up.
- Natural gas appliance chimneys and vents should be kept free of snow and ice to prevent the build-up of potentially-deadly carbon monoxide.
- Be prepared if you smell natural gas. If you smell that distinctive sulfur-like odor – like the smell of rotten eggs – get up, get out and call your utility immediately from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.
Tips for removing snow from roofs:
- Do not climb on roofs to remove snow
- When possible, use long-handled snow rakes or poles.
- If you must use a ladder, make certain that the base is securely anchored. Ask a friend, neighbor or adult family member to hold the ladder while you climb.
- Know where the snow is going to fall before clearing the area.
- Make certain not to contact electrical wires.
- If possible, do not attempt to clear the roof alone.
- If you are afraid of heights or think the job is too big for you, hire help.
Heavy exertion such as shoveling snow, clearing debris, or pushing a car can increase the risk of a heart attack. To avoid problems:
- Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
- Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
- If you feel chest pain—STOP and seek help immediately.
Home Emergency Supplies
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Emergency non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration
- Non-electric can opener
- Bottled water
- One week supply of essential medicines
- Extra blankets and sleeping bags
- First aid kit and manual
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency heating equipment, used properly
If You Lose Power:
- First, call your utility company to determine area repair schedules.
- Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
- If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
- To help prevent freezing pipes, turn on faucets slightly. Running water will not freeze as quickly.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage.
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- DO NOT operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use your gas oven to heat your home. Prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
- Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
Alternative Heating Safety Tips
Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions.
When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace or woodstove, always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces. Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and make sure they work.