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NWS Snow

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for parts of Eastern PA through Thursday morning as a major coastal storm is forecast to produce significant impacts: heavy/wet snow, gusty winds, power outages, ice and hazardous travel.

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

The Red Cross has steps people should follow to stay safe during severe winter weather:

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you have to drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • 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 snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

PREVENT HOME FIRES

With the cold temperatures there is often a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs – at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.

Tuesday, March 6

The impacts of last week’s Nor’easter continue to be felt across Eastern Pennsylvania even as another major winter is moving in. Heavy snow is expected region-wide on Wednesday, impacting travel and power restoration efforts.

Tens of thousands are still without power across Eastern Pennsylvania. The American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region is in the midst of its largest response since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The Red Cross has staffed or supported more than a dozen shelters in Eastern PA since Friday evening.

A couple of Red Cross shelters remain open, providing warm meals, a safe place to sleep and emotional support for those with immediate, disaster-caused needs. Hot showers and charging stations are also available. These shelters are expected to remain open through the upcoming winter storm. Current Red Cross shelters are located at:

Monroe County: Stroudsburg High School, 1100 W. Main St., Stroudsburg, PA

Pike County: Dingman Township V.F.D., 680 Log Tavern Rd., Milford, PA

Anyone coming to a Red Cross shelter should bring essential items for each member of the family:

  • Prescriptions and emergency medications
  • Foods that meet unusual dietary requirements
  • Extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items
  • Supplies needed for children and infants, such as diapers, formula and toys
  • Special items for family members who are elderly or disabled
  • Chargers for any electronic devices you bring with you
  • Books, games and other ways to entertain your family and yourself
  • Food, crate, and other supplies to care for your pet

In addition, the Red Cross is also supporting several partner-run shelters and daytime warming centers throughout the Poconos. For warming center locations near you, contact your municipality or county emergency management agency.

Power outages are expected to last for at least a few more days in some places. And with the next winter storm moving in, the Red Cross has some important safety tips to keep you and your family safe. The Red Cross encourages everyone to have at least a two-week supply of emergency supplies at home. A complete list can be found here:  http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit

DRIVING IN WINTER
While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. 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 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.
  • 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 snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • 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 slightly open – away from the blowing wind – to let in air.

POWER OUTAGE

  • Use flash lights in the dark, not candles. Candles can start fires.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how touse generators safely. Never use a generator indoors or in a garage. It must be kept outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

SPACE HEATERS

  • If using a space heater powered by a generator, place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains 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 leaving home.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS

People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for the upcoming winter storm. The Emergency app can also be used to locate an official Red Cross shelter near you. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case you encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

Sunday, March 4

The impacts of Friday’s Nor’easter continue to be felt across Eastern Pennsylvania. More than 100,000 are still without power. In response, the American Red Cross has opened several shelters across the region.

Monroe County: Shelter open at Stroudsburg High School, 1100 W. Main St., Stroudsburg, PA

 Montgomery County: Pottstown YMCA, 724 N. Adams. St. Pottstown, PA

 Pike County:    Shelter open at Dingman Township V.F.D., 680 Log Tavern Rd., Milford, PA

Shelter open at Central Volunteer Fire Department, 574 Westcolang Rd., Hawley, PA

 In addition, the Red Cross is also supporting several partner-run shelters and warming centers, including several in Northampton County. Many other communities have also announced the opening of warming centers and charging stations for those without power. For warming center locations near you, contact your municipality or county emergency management agency.

 Power outages are expected to last for a couple of more days in some places. The Red Cross has these important safety tips to keep you and your family safe in the aftermath of the Nor’easter.

POWER OUTAGE

  • Use flash lights in the dark, not candles. Candles can start fires.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely. Never use a generator indoors or in a garage. It must be kept outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

SPACE HEATERS

  • If using a space heater powered by a generator, place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains 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 leaving home.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

 

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UPDATE
As of 2/11 at 12pm all Red Cross shelters in Southeastern Pennsylvania in response to the ice storm have closed.

Supplies and resources remain in place throughout the region and volunteers are on stand-by to respond if needed following the next storm.

rco_blog_img_LionvilleShelter

Follow @redcrossphilly@dcschrader@telesara for immediate updates for all Red Cross activities in Southeastern PA.

Always an option: If people don’t wish to go to a Red Cross shelter and prefer a hotel and they have pets, we encourage them to download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid app. It includes a feature that will locate the nearest pet friendly hotels to them.

They can find it at redcross.org/mobileapps or by searching Red Cross on the iPhone App and Google Play stores.

The Red Cross asks that you do NOT drop off supplies at the shelters. It creates major logistical problems. If folks wish to help, they can make a financial donation at redcrossphilly.org

As power is restored, please take a moment to read these tips, or print this handy sheet to make sure you know what food is safe and more about how to safely get back to normal following a power outage.

CLICK HERE to learn more about what you will find at a Red Cross Shelter.

CLICK HERE for VIDEO about the Red Cross response as of 5PM 2/5.

VOLUNTEER ICE STORM

An American Red Cross volunteer meets with two people at the Lionville Middle School shelter in Chester County. photo credit: Sara Smith/American Red Cross

You hear us all the time talking about the importance of being prepared for an emergency. We pound that message into your head just about every opportunity we get. I realize, it may seem excessive. Maybe, maybe not. But let me tell you, being the person who helps deliver those messages, repetition sure came in handy for me last night.

You see in the midst of a three day heat wave, the power in my house went out. A transformer down the street blew and our entire block was without any power. No lights. No TV. No A/C on the hottest night of the year. But other than it being an inconvenience, there wasn’t much concern. We knew what to do. I had my trusty Red Cross preparedness kit right by the door. I put it there so I knew exactly where I could find it so I wouldn’t be wandering around in the dark looking for the flashlight that was inside.

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I also knew where we would go if the power was out for a long time and it got too hot to stay in the house. Having a plan for where to go is critical to every emergency plan.

I was lucky enough to have my smartphone and a laptop with lots of battery power. So I did what any Red Cross communicator does in a situation like that, I tweeted and recorded a video (below). I figured, this was a good chance to put into practice what the Red Cross preaches.

In the end, it wasn’t a major emergency. It was barely even a minor one. Thankfully, by midnight, the power was back on and we never had to leave the house. The whole matter turned out to be a drill of sorts in case there is a major emergency, like the tornado warnings that had my family huddled in a corner in the dark during the height of Hurricane Irene last summer. Or the blizzard two years ago that also knocked out power and we couldn’t go anywhere.

You just never know when the advice the Red Cross gives you about being prepared will be useful. So take a few minutes to review Red Cross preparedness information when you’re safe and sound. And be sure to refresh yourself every few months. That way, if there is an emergency, you’ll be ready.