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Friday, November 19, 2010

OES: Cal EMA Urges Californians to Prepare for First Significant Storm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Winter weather is fast approaching. The first significant storm of the season will bring cold temperatures, wind and the possibility of snow in the higher elevations. With the weather comes potential hazards’ ranging from mudslides in areas affected by wildfires, to flash flood watches and dangerous driving conditions. With storm watches in effect throughout the state this weekend, Cal EMA urges all Californians to be proactive.

 The National Weather Service has advised us that over the next few days many areas of the state will experience rainfall and high winds capable of causing urban and small stream flooding, hazardous road conditions and power outages, said Matthew Bettenhausen, Secretary of Cal EMA. ―I urge every Californian to prepare for the coming winter weather and will help ensure their safety and that of their loved ones.

Officials recommend everyone develop an emergency plan that includes a place to reunite and an out-of-town contact with which family members can provide their locations and conditions if they are unable to join their loved ones at their predetermined relocation site.

Californians should also prepare for all potential disasters by assembling an emergency supply kit that includes food, drinking water, first aid supplies, a battery operated radio and flashlight. Residents should identify what important items to take if an evacuation of an area is necessary such as computers, photos, important documents, medications, and other important items for your family and pets.
 Having a battery operated radio is critical because it will ensure you have access to the latest information about the weather and instructions from local officials, said Bettenhausen. ―Having a flashlight will enable you to have light if power goes out.

The following are tips to help you prepare for winter weather:
  • Learn the signs of hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Review and update their emergency plans, including out-of-town contact information
  • Store plenty of drinking water, food and medications
  • Store plenty of blankets
  • Obtain a sufficient supply of heating oil
  • Make sure portable radios and flashlights are operable and there’s an adequate supply of extra batteries
  • Regularly charge devices and have back up options available if you are dependent on equipment needing power
  • Supplement emergency supplies by adding
  • Rock salt
  • Sand
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
  • Learn first aid and CPR
  • Learn how to shut off water valves
  • Teach relatives or neighbors to operate life-safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, breathing machines, oxygen, suction or home dialysis equipment
  • Establish support teams of people who can assist you at home, work, school, etc. if you are a person with a disability or elderly and may need assistance,
  • Prepare to survive if you are stranded
  • Store plenty of heating fuel or dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove
  • Hire a contractor to check the ability of your roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from accumulated snow or rain
Winterize your house, barn, shed or other structure that could be used for shelter
  • Insulate walls and attics
  • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows
  • Consider installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic
  • Clear rain gutters
  • Repair roof leaks
  • Cut away tree branches that could fall on your house or another structure
  • Use insulation or newspapers and plastic to insulate pipes
  • Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to prevent pipes from freezing
Prepare your car
  • Replenish antifreeze
  • Check your battery and ignition system
  • Make sure battery terminals are clean
  • Check your brakes for wear and your level of brake fluid
  • Replace fuel and air filters
  • Use additives and maintain a full tank to keep water out of the system
  • Check your heater and defroster
  • Check your lights and flashing hazard lights
  • Check your oil level and weight
  • Check your thermostat
  • Check your windshield wiper blades and windshield wiper fluid
  • Install good winter tires
  • Maintain at least a half-tank full of gas
  • Supplement the emergency supply kit for your car by adding:
  • 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 and pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag

Prepare Your Pets
  • Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed
  • Outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hood of cars during cold weather. Before starting your engine, check under the hood
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost
  • Make sure your pet always wears an ID tag
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Increase your pets supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
  • Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep
Travelers should check with Caltrans for t
he latest conditions before heading out onto the roadways by calling the Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) at 800.427.7623 for automated information.
More information and resources, please visit Cal EMA home page at

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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