Winter weather is expected, with predictions of heavy snowfall beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Thursday. The best way for residents to receive timely severe weather and emergency notifications directly to cell phones and/or email addresses is from Alert Montgomery.
Montgomery County officials offer residents the following tips for preparing for and dealing with severe weather:
Preparing for the Storm
Emergency preparations should include having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last two to three days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Keep a fresh supply of extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit and a non-electric can opener.
Check with neighbors who may require special assistance to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm.
If possible, park vehicles in driveways or off the street. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even numbered side of the street to clear the way for snowplows.
Be sure your vehicle is ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working properly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.
If driving during the storm is unavoidable, put together a separate disaster supply kit for the trunk of the car that includes:
• Flashlight with extra batteries.
• Blankets or sleeping bags.
• Dry clothing, mittens, socks, and a wool cap.
• Newspapers for insulation.
• Plastic bags.
• Canned fruit, nuts or high energy “munchies.”
• Bottles of water.
• A small shovel, a pocket knife, and small tools --pliers, a wrench and screwdriver.
• Jumper cables.
• First aid kit and necessary medications.
• Brightly colored cloth to tie to the vehicle antenna.
During the Storm
During the storm, residents are urged to travel only if absolutely necessary and to stay indoors. If traveling is hazardous, residents should be prepared to shelter in place.
Residents concerned about the safety and well-being of children, elderly individuals or adults with disabilities should call the County’s Crisis Center at 240-777-4000.
In the event of a power outage, avoid using candles or outdoor grills indoors, to prevent the risk of a fire.
For downed trees on public property, residents should call 3-1-1 (or 240-777-0311 from a cell phone). To report trees that have fallen on utility lines, contact local utility companies. Contact information is available on the County’s website. “Hot” or sparking wires, especially those across roadways, should be reported by calling 9-1-1.
After the Storm
In the event of power outages, treat intersections with non-working traffic signals as four-way stops. If your home is without power, contact your utility company: PEPCO, 877-737-2662; BG&E, 877-778-2222; or FirstEnergy/Potomac Edison, 1-800-255-3443.
Exercise caution when shoveling snow. Try to shovel snow into the yard rather than into the street. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the body. Individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.
When going outdoors, dress warmly and stay dry. Adults and children should wear a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth; sleeves that are snug at the wrists, mittens (warmer than gloves), a water-resistant coat and boots, and several layers of loose-fitting clothes.
Serious health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. Watch for loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Residents should get medical attention immediately if symptoms are present.
Do not attempt to drive if you are not comfortable driving on icy or snowy roads. When preparing to drive, be sure to thoroughly clear the snow from the entire car – including roofs, windshields, trunks and hoods – to ensure visibility and prevent snow from blowing onto surrounding cars. When driving, do not speed and be sure to leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. Avoid pulling out in front of other vehicles, and do not slow down before going up a hill.
For timely severe weather and emergency notifications, go to https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov and sign up for Alert Montgomery. Warnings and emergency updates will be sent directly to your cell phone and/or email address. The service is free, but text charges may apply, so check with your cell phone carrier before selecting text alerts. Information is also available on the County’s website at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/snow.
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