Oswego County Legislature Chairman's Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Oct. 27, 2006

Plan Ahead for Winter Weather Emergencies

The calendar may say winter begins on Dec. 21, but here in Oswego County, we all know that it comes much earlier.

Our County Emergency Management Office works year-round to plan for emergencies of all types. In recognition of Winter Preparedness Week in New York State, Oct. 29 through Nov. 4, Emergency Management Director Patricia Egan reminds us there are several things we can do to prepare for winter weather.

First, have a professional check out your furnace, woodstove and chimney, and make certain they are in good working condition. Replace the batteries in your smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors. And to save yourself a little exertion, it's a good idea to make certain that your snow blower is ready to go to work.

Other ways to prepare:

  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one. This will help keep food cold if the power goes out.
  • Make sure your vehicles are ready for the season as well. Have a mechanic check your battery, anti-freeze, wipers and thermostat. Keep your gas tank at least half-full. Make sure your tires will deliver the traction you'll need in the snow. And make sure you have emergency supplies such as a shovel, flashlight and booster cables.

A primary concern during the winter months is the potential loss of heat, power, and telephone service during a blackout. Here's a list of items that all residents, and businesses, should have on hand:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered portable radio or television or a NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency information.
  • If you have a telephone that requires electricity to operate, plan for alternate communication such as a standard telephone handset or cellular telephone.
  • Three days' supply of food. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food that requires no cooking or refrigeration is best. An emergency supply of bottled water - one gallon per person per day.
  • An alternative cooking source, such as a camp stove or outdoor grill. Follow appropriate safety rules for use outside the home. Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
  • A one-week supply of essential medicines and baby items.
  • A list of emergency numbers.
  • First aid kit and supplies.
  • Extra blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and sleeping bags.
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm. Since most furnaces are controlled by electric thermostats, if the power goes out, residents should have some kind of emergency heating equipment, such as kerosene heater, and fuel available to keep at least one room of the house warm enough to be livable.

During a Power Outage:

  • Never operate a generator indoors.
  • Stay at home unless you absolutely have to drive. If you must go out, plan your stops, clean the vehicle completely of snow and ice, and always match your speed to road conditions.
  • Turn off major appliances to prevent damage from a possible surge when the power comes back on - keep one light turned on so you know when the power returns.
  • Check to see if your neighbors have power, and call your utility provider to notify them of an outage.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut to keep food from spoiling.
  • If you're in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building.
  • If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Don't attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.

Winter is especially challenging for the elderly and physically handicapped. Take the time to check in on your neighbor and lend them a helping hand.

More information on planning for emergencies is available from the Oswego County Emergency Management Office, (315) 591-9150, and on the Oswego County Web site at www.oswegocounty.com/emo.

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