With a ‘bomb cyclone’ barreling down on New England and up to 6 inches of snow possible in the Hudson Valley, there are things to do and things to remember. Here are some tips from utility companies reminding folks about dealing with downed wires and power outages, and some safety tips from the Red Cross.
“We want people to be safe,” said Mary Young , CEO, American Red Cross Metro New York North.
Remember, when temperatures drop and winter storms roll in, check on your elderly neighbors and help those who may need special assistance, including people with disabilities and children.
To prep your home:
- Keep your thermostat at the same setting day and night. If there’s a power outage, go to a designated public shelter to stay warm.
- Bring pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- Run water, even at a trickle, to help stop pipes from freezing.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
- Before taking on tasks such as shoveling snow, consider your physical condition.
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Check that smoke alarms are working and that families have practiced fire safety escape plan
If you’re headed outside:
- Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
- Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin
- Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat
- Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.
To stay safe in the car:
- The safest thing to do during a winter storm is stay off the roads if possible
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Clean the lights and windows to help you see.
- If you can, avoid driving in sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog. If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- If you have to travel, keep a disaster supplies kit in the car.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
- Don’t pass the snow plow truck.
- Find out what the weather is where you are traveling. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route
If you’re stuck in the car:
- If someone does get stuck, stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety. (Unless, of course, you can see a heated building that you can safely get to
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
If the power goes out:
- If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Never attempt to move them or touch them with any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by snow, tree limbs, leaves or water.
- Report downed wires to your utility and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
- If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
- Make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are working. Have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on electrical service can be heard on local radio and television stations.
Con Edison and Orange and Rockland Utilities are making emergency preparations to crews deal with outages or other service problems resulting from the combination of winds and snow forecast to hit the frigid New York area starting overnight. Con Ed and O&R are in close contact with state and local officials to coordinate storm response if needed.
The weather could affect both overhead and underground electric wires. That’s because the snow and winds could knock down power lines; then a mixture of road salt and melting snow could infiltrate manholes.
As always, crews will give priority to restoring service lines that will provide power to the most customers quickly, then restore smaller groups and individual customers who are without power.