Gov. Tom Wolf has urged all Pennsylvanians to prepare for severe cold and winter conditions for the coming winter.
Multiple state agencies reach the public on many different aspects of winter weather including the Department of Transportation with its snow plows and road treatments, as well as the Department of Environmental Protection with its energy efficiency programs. The Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency also engage in winter-related activities.
PEMA offers many tips for handling winter storms, saving residents money and potential grief. Residents should stock up on enough food and water to last at least three days. They should prepare and maintain an emergency supply kit that includes rock salt, sand, snow shovels and snow removal equipment, alternate heat sources (like firewood), alternate lighting (like flashlights), warm clothing and blankets. Residents should also formulate an emergency plan. Visit www.pema.pa.gov for details.
PennDOT recommends that motorists prepare their cars for winter conditions and check road conditions before embarking on a trip or a commute. Information on current road conditions is available at www.511PA.com.
Cars should be serviced by a trained and certified mechanic, who should inspect the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper blades to ensure good condition and functionality. Motorists should routinely check fluid levels, lights and wiper blades throughout the season. Tires should be maintained at proper air pressure and adequate tread depth to perform on ice and snow. Motorists should carry an emergency kit, including non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and small snow shovel. Families may include baby supplies, medications, pet supplies or other specialty items as needed.
The DEP (www.dep.pa.gov) encourages residents to winterize their homes to use less energy, save money on heating bills and stay warm. The most cost-effective way to save energy is to air seal and insulate. Gaps, cracks and other air leaks around windows, doors, chimneys, fixtures, plumbing and utility lines should be sealed before the installation of insulation, which will not block leaks.
Residents should also set the thermostat at a lower temperature when not at home; clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators regularly while ensuring that they are free from furniture, carpeting or drapes; weather-strip windows and exterior doors where air is leaking; and use sunlight to heat the home by opening curtains on sunny days and closing the curtains at night.
The Health Department (www.health.pa.gov) recommends that people get a flu shot, avoid extremely cold temperatures, use proper body mechanics when shoveling snow, take plenty of breaks when shoveling snow to avoid over-exertion and to avoid using electric generators, camp stoves or other exhaust-generating devices indoors or near windows, doors or vents. ••