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 West Virginians Urged to Stay Safe, Warm During Extreme Cold

2/18/2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Bitterly cold temperatures and dangerously low wind chills are forecasted for throughout the state over the next 24 hours. West Virginians are urged to take precautions.

The severe winter conditions bring the threat of hypothermia and frostbite from prolonged exposure. Unsafe efforts to stay warm, meanwhile, can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Experts advise the following:

- Stay indoors during such extreme winter weather. When venturing outside, dress in layers and limit skin exposure.
- Make sure you have an emergency kit and a plan for your family in case of a power outage.
- Be sure to have at least 72 hours’ worth of food, water and needed prescription medicines.
- When shoveling snow, take your time and plenty of breaks.
- If required to travel, make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Bring along blankets, extra warm clothing and such gear as a flashlight and ice scraper.
- Check on loved ones and neighbors who are older or disabled. Bring all pets indoors, and make sure animals have both a warm space and ice-free water.
- Stay tuned to local radio, TV or other media for weather updates, or a NOAA weather radio if available.
- Avoid frozen or broken pipes by ensuring plumbing is weatherproofed. Consider turning on a faucet to a trickle – but NEVER leave a faucet running in an empty house. If a pipe bursts, shut off the water supply. Use hot water or a hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes – NEVER an open flame.
- Only rely on space heaters designed for indoor use and that meet the latest safety requirements. Keep a 3-foot space around heaters, and store any fuel properly.
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- If you are using unvented fuel-fired space heaters, crack open a window for a fresh supply of air.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.
- If you are left without heat, contact your local Office of Emergency Services or health department for the location of the nearest warming station or shelter.

For more information and resources, please visit http://www.ready.wv.gov, a joint effort of the W.Va. Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Volunteer West Virginia.

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Contact: Lawrence Messina | (304) 558-2930 | Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov

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