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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Roads Remain Hazardous - Stay Home

For the most part, snow has stopped falling. Accumulations of about 2-feet plus are being reported throughout Prince George’s County. Firefighters and paramedics have responded to calls for service all day and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of the day. We are asking citizens and residents to remain patient and stay at home. Keeping the roadways clear of civilian traffic will allow road crews an opportunity to clear roadways of snow.

The snow has stopped; however, this does not give a green light to resume your normal activity. Public Safety officials remind citizens and residents that it is not yet safe to venture the roadways; in your car or on foot. As we enter the next phase of the storm clean-up, we remind everyone:

Stay Prepared-Stay Informed-Stay Safe-Stay Home

A Snow Emergency Plan remains in effect and will do so for days to come.
It is important for residents to stay off the roadways and remain home even though the snowfall has ended so the Department of Public Works and Transportation’s road crews can clear the roadways of snow.

As part of the snow emergency plan, all cars must be removed from snow emergency routes, which are posted with designated signs, to avoid being ticketed and/or towed.

On non-snow emergency routes, residents are asked to park off roadways in driveways or other off-street parking areas. If residents find that they can only park along the roadway, they are requested to park ONLY on the EVEN NUMBERED side of the roadways.

A large number of pedestrians are intermingling with vehicle traffic on roadways as sidewalks are unnavigable from heavy snow. Pedestrians are reminded to use extreme caution in taking this dangerous path. If you must venture outside and you are walking; wear bright colored clothing and walk in the opposite direction of traffic flow. This will enable you to see oncoming traffic and to make sure you are visible to them.

Ritchie House Fire with Civilian Injury on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

At about 1045 AM, Friday, February 5, 2010, firefighters and paramedics from Ritchie and surrounding communities were alerted to a house fire in the 2400 block of Oak Glen Way. Firefighters arrived and encountered a 1-story single family home with the basement well involved with fire. Additionally they were met in the front yard with a young female child that had sustained serious burns to her upper body. As paramedics treated the injured girl firefighters proceeded to extinguish the fire. There were 34 firefighters and paramedics on the scene. The fire was extinguished in about 15 minutes and caused an estimated $50,000 in fire loss.

The female, 8 years of age, had sustained serious burns to her upper body and was being flown to a Trauma Center by MSP Trooper 2. After taking off and heading to the hospital, Trooper 2 was forced to turn around and land at the original landing site as weather conditions rapidly deteriorated. Paramedics completed the transport by land.

An adult female sustained minor burn injuries when she helped to extinguish the fire on her grand-daughters clothing. She was treated on the scene and did not go to the hospital. The adult female and another relative will be displaced and will stay with other family members.

The fire is Under Investigation as Fire Investigators continue to search for the cause of the fire.

Flat Roof Hazards with Heavy Snow Load

Buildings and structures with flat roofs are at a greater risk of collapse since the heavy wet snow has no room to slide off. This winter storm has left anywhere from 16 to 24 inches of snow on roof tops and the as additional accumulations is expects throughout the course of today. Fire/EMS Department officials are also concerned that the risk may rise as melting and refreezing of the wet snow will occur which increases the weight.

Light metal buildings will typically have less capacity to handle a high snow load. For flat roofs, the step-down area between roof sections is a potential source of roof overload because of the tendency for ice and snow collection.

Many new structures are built to withstand higher weight loads. The total accumulated weight of four feet of snow could be as high as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which is getting toward the limits of even the best designed roof.

If there's ice, it's much heavier, with one inch equaling about a foot of fresh snow.

The men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department warn residents not to venture onto your roofs as the additional weight may cause a collapse. Do not use water from a hose in an attempt to remove the snow as this will melt and refreeze as well as causing drains to become blocked; further complicating the situation.

The Fire/EMS Department discourages home and business owners from clearing snow off of roofs themselves. This dangerous activity involves placing a ladder against the structure, ascending the ladder and using a broom or shovel to push snow off of the roof. Many performing this task are tempted to enter the roof structure. DO NOT GO ON THE ROOF. Be warned that climbing a ladder and entering a roof structure already stressed by a heavy snow load has its own inherent dangers and is not recommended.

The Fire/EMS Department highly recommends that you contact a professional roof contractor that has the experience and tools to safely clear snow off of flat roofs.

If you are in a structure with a flat roof and hear cracking, popping or stressed wood/metal noises; evacuate the structure and call 911 from a safe location.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has not experienced any roof collapses at this point.

During the Storm Safety Tips

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department continues to provide services to citizens and residents despite the challenges of impassable streets and extremely hazardous conditions. As snow removal crews continue fighting to clear roadways, Mother Nature is currently winning the battle to keeps roads blanketed in snow and in hazardous condition.

Prince George’s County firefighters and paramedics, as of 1:00 PM, Saturday, February 6, 2010, have handled 375 calls for service, which is the average number of calls handled in a normal 24-hour period. The majority of incidents involve downed power lines and arcing transformers. Other incidents include pregnancy, injuries from snow play, asthma and since midnight here have been seven incidents involving medical calls involving CPR. It is unknown if any of these incidents involve snow shoveling. Numerous large trees have fallen under the weight of the snow, some onto buildings and homes causing minimal damage.

The men and women of your Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department remind you to:

Stay Prepared, Stay Informed, Stay Safe and Stay Home!!!

Shoveling heavy and wet snow in cold temperatures is stressful and could lead to cardiac emergencies. If you must shovel; scoop up smaller amounts of snow and take frequent breaks.

Be a good neighbor – check on your senior citizen neighbors. Shovel their sidewalks, ensure they have food and check on their medical condition.

Clear snow away from your closest fire hydrant. Make sure firefighters can quickly locate this vital piece of equipment.

Clear snow away from your clothes dryer exhaust vent. This will allow for the unobstructed exhaust of possible carbon monoxide.

As the day wears on – there are more and more pedestrians venturing into the roadway and intermingling with vehicle traffic. Pedestrians should wear bright colored clothing. Both pedestrian and vehicle operators need to exercise extreme caution while on the roadways. Home and business owners should start to clear sidewalks as soon as possible after the snow stops.

Continue to exercise good common sense while trying to stay warm.

If you see a downed power line – consider it to be “live” and notify 911.

In the event of a power outage – do not use candles, use battery operated flashlights for illumination.

Citizens and residents should remain home and not venture out until public safety official and road crews have had an opportunity to clean up after this storm.