The PA Emergency Management Agency is urging the public to pay close attention to local weather forecasts in anticipation of severe weather that is possible across Pennsylvania over the weekend. The most significant storms could hit southern and eastern Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon and evening.
“This storm system could bring anything from damaging winds and hail, to dangerous lightning, flooding and even tornadoes,” said Richard D. Flinn Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. “Conditions can change quickly, so it’s important for people to stay alert to the weather where they work and live, particularly if they’re planning any outdoor activities.”
It’s important for people to understand the difference between a weather watch and a weather warning:
-- A watch means conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to develop;
-- A warning means dangerous weather is imminent or currently happening; and
Make sure you have more than one method to receive severe weather alerts, which can include text messages, smartphone apps, television, and a weather radio, which sounds an alarm like a smoke detector when severe weather is in your county.
“We’re in the heart of our severe weather season and Pennsylvanians should be prepared to take action,” said Flinn.
Flinn also encourages citizens to be aware of the types of severe weather they’ve vulnerable to in their communities. For example, some parts of the state are more likely to see flash flooding than others.
Before severe weather, take a few minutes to:
-- Write down, print or save toll-free “outage reporting hotlines” to your cell phone – that’s the number you need to call if you lose power.
-- Save the Internet address for your utility’s outage reporting system, which can provide an interactive picture of ongoing repair efforts.
-- Charge your cell phone.
Should you lose power during a storm, the PUC offers the following tips:
-- Call your utility. Do not assume that the utility already knows about your outage or that others in your neighborhood have already called.
-- Use a phone that does not require electricity to work. A cellular phone or corded phone will work. Remember a cordless phone won’t work without electricity.
-- Do NOT call 9-1-1 to report power outages. Those calls take dispatchers away from other emergencies and can also slow a storm response because you're not talking directly to the utility.
-- Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment. After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
-- Only use a flashlight or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.
-- If you are going to use a generator, do not run it inside a home or garage. Also, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, not your home's electrical system, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearly power lines.
-- Do NOT touch or get near any fallen lines, and stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
-- If you have a downed power line or another hazardous situation, call 9-1-1 and contact your utility.
-- Do NOT try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
-- Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.
No matter what you may face in your community, Flinn said everyone should have disaster supplies on hand at home, including:
-- Flashlights and extra batteries;
-- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries;
-- First aid kit and manual;
-- Bottled water and non-perishable food;
-- Manual can opener;
-- Essential medicines/prescriptions; and
-- Cash, credit cards and important legal documents.
Flinn also recommended that families develop an emergency communication plan in the event that family members are separated from one another during severe weather - a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school - and have a plan for getting back together.
Free emergency preparedness information, including templates for family emergency plans and checklists for emergency kit supplies, is available at www.ReadyPA.org.Follow @ReadyPA on Twitter and like ReadyPA on www.facebook.com/BeReadyPA for more emergency preparedness information. The free ReadyPA app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.