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Community Health Needs Assessment

Storm Preparedness Tips

Release Date: 01/04/2018

As we welcome our first major snowstorm, here are some great tips from the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Those in danger of running out of heating fuel should contact their fuel company as soon as possible and be sure to clear a path to the fuel pipes and tank to expedite the delivery process. Lowering the temperature can help conserve fuel, but the temperature should not be set below 55 degrees to avoid frozen pipes.

To prevent frozen pipes:

• Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic. Use insulation made especially for this purpose.
• Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL-approved).
• Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
• Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
• Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
• Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
• If you plan to be away, have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or perhaps drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If pipes freeze:

• Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water in case pipes burst. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
• Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Those using alternate heat sources should be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generators should not be used inside or in an enclosed space such as a porch or garage. They must be properly installed and situated at least 15 feet away from a home or business. Those using generators or alternate heat sources should also have working Carbon Monoxide detectors.

Citizens should plan for the possibility that they may have to shelter in place at home or an identified location and should have the following essential items.

• Three-day supply of nonperishable food that does not require cooking
• Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day)
• Portable, battery powered radio with extra batteries
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Cash (enough for at least three-days' worth of expenses)
• Telephone that works without electricity
• A safe way to heat food and water such as a camp stove, etc.
• Sleeping bags, extra blankets, and warm clothing to stay warm if you have no heat or electricity
• Three-day supply of medication (never let your supply run below three days' worth)
• Items for infants: formula, diapers, etc.
• Food and water for pets

Those who must seek shelter elsewhere should have a plan in place to identify where they will go and how they will get there if they don’t have transportation. Those with accessibility challenges should contact family, neighbors or emergency services to ensure their needs will be met.

If you must travel during the storm, please consider the following:

• Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area such as a garage to avoid Carbon Monoxide poisoning
• Make sure tires are properly inflated and in good condition
• Check windshield wiper fluid
• Ensure the vehicle is clear of all ice and snow
• Never mix radial tires with other types of tires
• Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid the gas line freezing up or running out of gas and becoming stranded
• Bring a fully-charged cell phone and program roadside assistance numbers
• If you become stranded in your vehicle, stay with the vehicle and tie a brightly-colored cloth to the antenna or use other distress signal
• Run the engine and heater just long enough to remove chill to conserve gas

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with the items below and be sure to let someone know when and where you will be traveling and when you expect to arrive at your destination.

• A shovel
• Windshield scraper and small broom
• Flashlight
• Battery powered radio
• Extra batteries
• Water
• Snack food
• Matches
• Extra hats, socks and mittens
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Blanket(s)
• Tow chain or rope
• Road salt and sand
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares
• Fluorescent distress flag

To prevent hypothermia:

• Dress in layers.
• Wear a warm hat – 30% of heat loss is through the head.
• Wear a scarf and gloves.
• Infants should be in a room in which the temperature is 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Drink plenty of fluids and warm/hot drinks.
• Eat regular balanced meals to give you energy – good nutrition is important.
• Keep active when it’s cold, but not to the point where you’re sweating.
• Keep dry and change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
• Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, since all three cause heat loss.
• Try to keep one room in the house warm.
• Ask your doctor if you are on any medications that affect your ability to maintain a steady body temperature (such as neuroleptic medications and sedative hypnotics).

For additional preparedness, shelter and safety information, please visit MainePrepares.com, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter. Shelter information is also available by calling 2-1-1 or contacting your local town office, fire or police department.