October 29, 2008

State Emergency Operations Center Activated for Northwest PA Snow

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Director Robert P. French today directed an enhanced activation of the state emergency operations center in Harrisburg. This activation will support county emergency services and coordinate state resources in anticipation of the additional snow forecasted for the northwest region of the Commonwealth today through Thursday.

"Weather conditions in the northwest part of the Commonwealth could deteriorate into the evening and continue into late Thursday, and it is important to be proactive in responding to emergency needs that may arise," said Director French. "Additional snow accumulations of one to two inches are predicted on top of what is already on the ground. We are in contact with county emergency management officials and will continue to coordinate state efforts."

Another concern is the weight of snow on trees that still have leaves. The weight could cause trees to topple which may result in power outages.

Director French enhanced staffing at the state's emergency operations center to assist PennDOT, the Pennsylvania State Police, county and local officials in the affected areas and to coordinate information on the storm.

Director French said that traveling during winter storms should be avoided if possible. During winter storms motorists are urged to remain off the highways at hotels or restaurants to allow snowplows to remove snow from highways.

Emergency-management officials urge residents to take the following precautions when outside driving or shoveling snow:

   --  Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are       usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some       jurisdictions require that vehicles be equipped with chains or snow       tires with studs to drive on their roads.   --  Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.   --  Winter car kit, which could include: flashlights with extra batteries,       first aid kit with pocket knife, necessary medications, several       blankets, matches, extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap, small       shovel, small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver), brightly colored       cloth to use as a flag.   --  Keep a full tank of gas during the winter season.   --  Travel during daylight and don't travel alone.   --  Make sure someone knows your arrival times and routes.   --  Store a supply of high-energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.   --  If outdoors dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, layered clothing. Layers       can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments       should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than       gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.   --  Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few       stretching exercises to warm up. Also take frequent breaks.   --  Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart.       Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can       bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be       aware of symptoms of dehydration.   --  Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Keep dry.  Change wet       clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses       all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.   

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance -- infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

People needing assistance should call their local or county emergency management office, located in the "Blue Pages" section of the phone book, or if they have an emergency call 911 or their local police or fire department.

If you must travel, interstate road conditions are updated on PennDOT's 24-hour road hotline at 1-888-783-6783 for in-state callers; out-of-state callers should call 717-783-5186. The hotline provides weather-related road condition information for all Pennsylvania interstates.

Information regarding the PA Emergency Management Agency can be found at http://www.pema.state.pa.us/. For information about winter preparedness or to sign up as a volunteer, visit http://www.readypa.org/.

CONTACT: Maria A. Finn, (717) 346-3125

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

CONTACT: Maria A. Finn of the PA Emergency Management Agency,+1-717-346-3125

Web Site: http://www.pema.state.pa.us/http://www.readypa.org/