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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Staying Healthy and Safe During the Winter Storm

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     Twitter: @PGFDPIO

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Prince George's County for Wednesday evening into Thursday. The men and women of your Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department want you to help us by staying safe yourself.  Today's winter weather forecast includes heavy wet snow on Wednesday and sleet and snow on Thursday. 

FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE 


...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM WEDNESDAY EVENING
THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING...

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW AND SLEET

* ACCUMULATIONS...THE POTENTIAL FOR 5 OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW AND
  SLEET.

* TIMING...SNOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE IN FROM THE SOUTH WEDNESDAY
  EVENING. SNOW MAY MIX WITH SLEET AND RAIN LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT
  AND THURSDAY. THE SNOW COULD BE HEAVY AT TIMES WEDNESDAY NIGHT
  AND THURSDAY.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE MID TO UPPER 20S WEDNESDAY NIGHT...
  SLOWLY RISING INTO THE LOWER AND MIDDLE 30S THURSDAY AFTERNOON.

* WINDS...BECOMING NORTH 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.

* IMPACTS...ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW AND SLEET COVERED AND
  SLIPPERY. TRAVEL MAY BE DANGEROUS WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND
  THURSDAY. HEAVY WET SNOW COULD LEAD TO SOME POWER OUTAGES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO
MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.


While most roadways will be pre-treated and snow plows working to clear roads it is expected that driving conditions will deteriorate as the storm wears on. 

Some of the Fire/EMS Department's highest concerns during a winter weather event is everyone staying healthy and safe.  


Heavy wet snow presents:

Health Concerns - for those trying to clear snow from sidewalks and driveways.

Shoveling heavy wet snow has been known to cause cardiac emergencies.

  • Take your time and frequent breaks
  • Limit exertion
  • Dress warmly in layers
  • Stay hydrated - limit coffee, caffeinated drinks and alcohol 
  • Lift with your legs not your back
  • If you aren't healthy enough, have a known cardiac condition or age 50 or over, please, seek help from your friends and neighbors

Health Concerns for Dialysis patients

  • Road condition could be dangerous to travel to your appointments on Wednesday evening and through the day on Thursday.  Dialysis patients please contact your centers and discuss your access to the center on Thursday.  You might arrange for a treatment early or delay your treatment until Friday.  Consult your center as soon as possible. 

Power Outages

 Heavy wet snow accumulation on trees and on utility lines could result in power outages.
  • If you see a downed utility line - consider it LIVE.
  • Call 911 or your utility company if you see a downed utility line or a tree branch on power lines
  • Keep phones and tablets fully charged before the storm
  • A yellow caution tape on downed utility lines indicates that situation has already been checked by public safety and there is no immediate danger.  These areas should not be approached until repairs have been completed.
  • In the event of a power outage - never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage - the carbon monoxide (CO) that it generates will kill you and anyone else in the house - USE ONLY OUTDOORS
  • Test your smoke alarm and CO alarms to ensure they are working before the storm.
  • Do not use candles - use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.

Stay Informed, Stay Ready, Stay Safe

• 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 and lap top computers are fully charged now – before the storm occurs.  Sign up now for Notify Me - Prince George's for weather updates, closings and other important information right from your cell phone, laptops, desktop computers and more.

• 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 an 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.

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

• 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 and ice 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.

• 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.

• 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 texting and 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.

Finally, please keep pets indoors during the storm!!!

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Fire Department stands ready and prepared to provide the best emergency and non-emergency 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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