Friday, February 5, 2010

Montgomery County Offers Winter Storm Tips for This Weekend

With predictions for significant snowfall accumulations on Friday and Saturday, Montgomery County officials offer the following tips about preparing for the upcoming storm, and what to do during and after the storm. Planning ahead and following safety tips will help ease frustration and reduce dangerous situations.
Residents are urged to subscribe to Alert Montgomery at to stay updated on the latest important information. Alerts can be sent to one or more electronic devices, including cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, and home and work emails.

Preparing for the Storm

Emergency preparations should include having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last two to three days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Keep a fresh supply of extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit and a non-electric can opener.

Check with neighbors who may require special assistance to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm.

Roads labeled with red and white signs serve as snow emergency routes. If a snow emergency is declared, it is illegal to park vehicles on snow emergency routes or drive without snow tires, mud/snow radials or chains.

Park vehicles in driveways or off the street, if possible. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even numbered side of the street to clear the way for snowplows.

Be sure your car(s) are ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working properly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.

If driving during the storm is unavoidable, put together a separate disaster supply kit for the trunk of the car that includes:

• Flashlight with extra batteries.
• Flares.
• Blankets or sleeping bags.
• Dry clothing, mittens, socks, and a wool cap.
• Newspapers for insulation.
• Plastic bags.
• Canned fruit, nuts, or high energy “munchies.”
• Bottles of water.
• A small shovel, a pocket knife, and small tools, such as pliers, a wrench, and screwdriver.
• Jumper cables.
• First aid kit and necessary medications.
• Brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna.

During the Storm

During the storm, residents are urged to travel only if absolutely necessary, and stay indoors.

Residents concerned about the safety and well-being of children, elderly individuals or adults with disabilities should call the County’s Crisis Center at 240-777-4000.

Should there be a power outage, avoid using candles to prevent the risk of a fire.

For downed trees on public property, residents should call the County’s Department of Transportation at 240-777-6000. To report trees that have fallen on utility lines, contact local utility companies. Contact information is available on the county’s website at “Hot” wires or sparking wires, especially those across roadways, may be reported by calling 9-1-1.

After the Storm

Within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm, all residential and commercial property owners are required by county law to clear their sidewalks. Residents are encouraged to help elderly or ill neighbors with this task.

Exercise caution when shoveling snow. Try to shovel snow into the yard rather than into the street, and remember to uncover any fire hydrants so that they are visible from the street. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the body. Individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.

When going outdoors, dress warmly and stay dry. Adults and children should wear a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth; sleeves that are snug at the wrists, mittens (they are warmer than gloves), a water-resistant coat and boots, and several layers of loose-fitting clothes.

Serious health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite can be caused by prolonged exposure to the cold. Watch for loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In both cases, residents should get medical attention immediately if symptoms are present.

Do not attempt to drive if you are not comfortable driving on snowy roads. When preparing to drive, be sure to thoroughly clear the snow from the entire car – including roofs, windshields trunks and hoods – to ensure visibility and prevent snow from blowing onto surrounding cars. When driving, do not speed and be sure to leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. Avoid pulling out in front of other vehicles and do not slow down before going up a hill.

Plowing of roads occurs when three or more inches of snow accumulates with a temperature below freezing. The County’s Department of Transportation completely clears emergency and primary routes before beginning clearing of neighborhood streets. Neighborhood streets are not cleared to bare pavement, but are made passable.

For more information about snow removal operations call 240-777-6000, or visit the county’s website at

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