State officials Thursday said citizens should monitor weekend forecasts in anticipation of the coldest weather of the season so far. Cold temperatures combined with strong winds will create wind chills at or below zero on Friday and Saturday nights.
'This will be a fairly short cold snap, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous," said Richard D. Flinn Jr., director of the PA Emergency Management Agency. "People need to be aware of the dangers that cold weather poses to themselves and their loved ones."
Flinn said PEMA is already working with county and local partners as well as charity organizations to identify vulnerable populations and unmet needs to provide any necessary assistance as early as possible.
State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay said citizens need to be very careful if they decide to use supplementary heating sources to stay warm in their homes.
"House fires are common in the winter, so people need to be extra vigilant in making sure any action they take doesn't put them and their loved ones at risk," Solobay said. "Carbon monoxide is another threat that claims lives every year, even though prevention is fairly simple. If you haven't done so recently, test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors now and make it a habit to do so every month."
Solobay said people should never try to heat their home using a generator, stove, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window.
Carbon monoxide is created when combustible materials burn incompletely and can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.
Often called "the silent killer," it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they're aware they've been exposed. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.
If you suspect you've been exposed to carbon monoxide, leave the home or building immediately and call 9-1-1 or seek medical attention.
The Commonwealth's ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved.More detailed information, including free downloadable emergency home and car kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org. The free ReadyPA app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.
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