HARRISBURG, Pa. - With freezing rain causing downed trees and power lines over large portions of the state, officials in affected areas -- that includes much of the northeast US -- are urging motorists to be cautious on the roads and to not drive over downed wires or branches. "Be especially careful when driving at night and watch for black ice, downed wires or debris in the roadway," said PEMA Director Robert P. French. "If possible, turn around to avoid such obstructions. Do not try to move fallen power lines yourself."
HARRISBURG, Pa. - With freezing rain causing downed trees and power lines over large portions of the state, officials in affected areas -- that includes much of the northeast US -- are urging motorists and homeowners to be cautious, both on the roads and in the home.
For starters officials advise not to drive over downed wires or branches. "Be especially careful when driving at night and watch for black ice, downed wires or debris in the roadway," said PEMA Director Robert P. French. "If possible, turn around to avoid such obstructions. Do not try to move fallen power lines yourself."
Wind chills overnight will approach zero degrees and the very cold conditions could create treacherous situations on the roads as moisture refreezes. Additionally, strong wind could blow snowfall already on the ground leading to white out conditions in higher elevations.
As electric utilities continue to restore power, it is critical that citizens safely use alternative heating sources. According to the State Fire Commissioner, carefully read the instructions on your heating source before turning it on so you'll avoid a potentially dangerous misuse of the heating device.
Here are some tips on the safe use of alternative heating sources:
-- Keep all people and flammable materials, including kindling, furniture, clothing and pets, at least 36 inches away from fire places and wood stoves.
-- Never use an oven or range to heat your home. Never use a gas or charcoal grill inside the home. And gas-fueled portable electric generators must be used outside, never indoors or in an area that allows carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that claims hundreds of lives every year, to collect.
-- Open flues before using the fireplace. Fireplaces need screens or doors to keep embers inside. Keep young children away from wood stoves to avoid contact burn injuries.
-- Kerosene heaters must never be fueled inside the home or garage; use the recommended grade kerosene and never use an alternative fuel, such as gasoline. Also, supervise children and pets when heaters are used.
-- Fuel-burning appliances, such as gas, wood, or kerosene, can emit dangerous levels of CO. Install at least one CO alarm to protect sleeping areas. Have trained professionals inspect and service central heating systems, cook stoves, water heaters and space heaters to prevent CO leaks.
-- Candle use presents an increasingly dangerous fire hazard. Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Keep candles away from flammable materials, like furniture and curtains. Do not permit children to keep or use candles in their rooms. Place candles where pets won't knock them over.
Residents who are without power are urged to call their electric utility to report their outage and not 9-1-1. Most utilities can provide an estimate of when power will be restored to your area. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is working with utilities to have power back as quickly as possible and urges patience as the work takes place.
For additional information on fire safety, visit www.osfc.state.pa.us
Source: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania