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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fire/EMS Department Safety Tips for the Winter Storm

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Prince George's County for a strong weather system that is currently producing snow which remains in our forecast through Wednesday, March 6. The men and women of your Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department want you to help us by staying safe yourself. We recommend that our citizens, visitors and businesses "Stay Informed, Stay Ready, Stay Safe."  Currently, roads are passable, however, are becoming hazardous.  Please stay off the roads if at all possible.

• Stay prepared by bringing out your emergency preparedness kit and having a supply of essential items (food, water, warming items, radios, batteries, flashlights, etc.) available.

• Stay informed by monitoring TV news, news radio, National Weather Service radios and the Internet. Important information may be broadcast that could affect you and your family. Ensure your cell phones, tablets and lap top computers are fully charged now – before the storm occurs.  Weather and incident updates will be posted on the Fire/EMS Departments Twitter site @PGFDPIO before, during and after the storm.

• Stay safe by keeping fire safety and injury prevention a priority in your activities. It is important to remember that fire apparatus and ambulances will be slower to respond to your emergencies due to the weather and hazardous driving conditions. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms now to ensure they are working. In the event of an emergency, have an escape plan and call 911 immediately from a safe location.

• If possible, stay indoors and off the roads at all costs. Reduced traffic on roadways will allow public works crews and opportunity to clear a path that can be used by first responders to handle emergencies. If you must venture outdoors, dress warm and in layers, wear a hat and gloves, and cover your face with a scarf.

• A winter storm always has the potential to cause power disruptions as snow will collect on power lines and tree branch’s that will then come in contact with power lines. Do not approach a downed power line – always consider downed power lines to be “live.” Restrict access to the downed lines and call 911.

• Speaking of calling 911 – please – only call 911 for emergencies. Activity for Fire and EMS service will be high during the storm. If you do not have an emergency you should call 311 for assistance.

• In the event of power outages – use flashlights and battery powered lanterns for illumination – do not use candles. Ensure you have a battery powered radio. Never operate a gasoline generator inside of your home or attached garage, keep the generator outside and away from any windows or doors as CO can find its way inside your home.

• Give space heaters space – keep space heaters at least 3-feet away from anything combustible like bedding, furniture, paper, etc.

• Use only seasoned wood products in your fireplace and use extreme caution when disposing of fireplace ashes as they can remain hot for days after the fire is out. Dispose of ashes in a metal container outside and away from the house.

• Some winter storms produce enough snow that will make it difficult to shovel, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50. Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts, and take frequent breaks.

• Neighbor Helping Neighbor - It is time to be a good neighbor – check on your senior citizen neighbors and ensure they have heat and food. Shovel their sidewalks and check on them frequently. Check on their smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector to ensure they are working.

• Clear away snow from the fire hydrant on your street. If the fire hydrant is on your property; you are required to clear away the snow.

• If you must drive – reduce your speed, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, turn on your headlights, and do not be distracted by cell phones. Keep an eye out for pedestrians as they will venture out into the streets as sidewalks disappear. This information especially applies to 4-wheel drive SUV operators.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department stands ready and prepared to provide the best services available. We ask you to help us by preventing emergencies from ever occurring to avoid the need for us to have to respond to that emergency.

Remember, Safety First Ensures Everyone Goes Home.

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