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Dinolfo Urges Residents to Stay Safe and Warm as Extreme Cold, Lake Effect Snow Arrives

Dinolfo Urges Residents to Stay Safe and Warm as Extreme Cold, Lake Effect Snow Arrives

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo is urging residents to prepare for the extreme winter weather soon expected to impact our area. Forecasts indicate wind chills will likely fall to 20 to 30 degrees below zero, along with heavy bands of lake effect snow. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Monroe County in effect through Saturday and a Wind Chill Warning for Monroe County in effect from 8:00 p.m. today until Sunday.

“The people of Monroe County are as winter-ready as they come, but this blast of cold and snow could present some challenges for our community,” said Dinolfo. “Monroe County will be doing its part by monitoring local conditions through our Office of Emergency Management, while remaining in close contact with officials on the ground in our towns and villages. I encourage residents to also take simple steps to prepare for the cold, such as reducing time spent outside, checking in on elderly neighbors, and always following fire safety and prevention tips. Please bundle up and stay safe as the cold and snow arrives!”

To stay safe during these extreme winter weather conditions, Dinolfo and the Monroe County Office of Emergency Management offer these tips:

1. Remember to keep all heat sources (space heaters) at least three feet away from clothing, furniture and drapes.
2. Bring pets inside.
3. Check on elderly/disabled relatives and neighbors.
4. Frostbite/Hypothermia can occur in minutes, cover up or stay inside.
5. Please check the batteries in your smoke and CO detectors, and make sure the exterior vents are free of snow and ice.

During Snowstorms and Extreme Cold
· Stay indoors during the storm.
· While Health Departments have no legal authority to close schools due to weather conditions, our Monroe County Department of Public Health makes recommendations to the School Districts which indicate when schools should consider closing under wind chill conditions. To lessen the risk of cold injury to students, the County’s Commissioner of Public Health would recommend schools consider closing at a wind chill of about -25F.
· Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
· If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
· Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
· Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
· Keep space heater safety in mind: Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
· Plan to check on elderly/disabled relatives and neighbors.
· Plan to bring pets inside.
· Monroe County’s Department of Human Services will conduct “Homeless Street Outreach” to offer homeless individuals rides to shelters. If anyone is in need of shelter or knows someone who is, call the 211 Life Line or dial 911 who can patch in to 211 in order to get assistance.

Fire Safety
· Be careful not to place combustibles around heat sources (like space heaters).
· Do not discard your fireplace ashes in a garbage pail or recycling bin, even if you think they’re completely out. The same applies for any smoking materials. Generally speaking, we see several garage fires each year in Monroe County due to these fire causes.
· Please keep your fire hydrant visible to responding units by keeping it clear of snow.
· Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Keep vents free of snow and ice.
· In the event of fire, close the door behind you.

Prepare your Home
· Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
· People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.

Prepare your Vehicle
· Keep an extra emergency kit specifically created for your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
· Keep enough gas in your tank to ensure you can safely get to and from your intended destination.