PEMA Addresses Winter Hazards

In light of recent winter storms causing power outages and dangerous road conditions across the state, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) issued tips to keep drivers and residents safe.

Trees and power lines have fallen under an onslaught of freezing rain throughout much of Pennsylvania, and cold overnight temperatures may create dangerously slick road conditions as the moisture refreezes. High winds could also cause whiteouts when visibility is severely reduced by snow and diffuse lighting from overcast clouds.

PEMA Director Robert P. French warns drivers to use caution and be alert for hazardous road conditions. “Be especially careful when driving at night and watch for black ice, downed wires or debris in the roadway,” he said. “If possible, turn around to avoid such obstructions. Do not try to move fallen power lines yourself.”

PEMA advises residents without power to remain patient and contact their electric utility providers to report outages and receive an estimated repair time. Residents who experience power outages especially must be careful about using safe heating sources while waiting for electric services to be restored.

PEMA offers the following guidelines to prevent a fire or hazardous situation:

  • Fireplaces and wood stoves – Clear a space of at least 36 inches in front of fireplaces and wood stoves, and do not allow any objects, pets or people enter this range. Use a screen in the fireplace to contain embers, and be sure to open the flue before lighting a fire.
  • Ovens and ranges – Never use an oven to heat a home, and do not use gas or charcoal grills inside. Gas-fueled electric generators are meant for outdoor use to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Kerosene heaters – Never fuel a kerosene heater inside the home or garage. Only use the recommended grade of kerosene and do not replace with any other fuel, such as gasoline.
  • Carbon monoxide – Gas, wood, or kerosene-burning appliances potentially can emit dangerous levels of CO. Residents should install a CO detector in sleeping areas and order professional inspections of central heating systems, stoves and other heaters.
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