Les Sinclair

Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Prepare for Winter Weather
Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Prepare for Winter Weather

County of Albemarle and Emergency Management have released the follow:

Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Should Prepare Now for Winter Weather

Charlottesville, Va. – Our area is likely to experience winter weather Wednesday evening into Thursday, and people should take actions now to be ready for possible power outages and challenging road conditions. The forecast includes possible 8 to 14 inches of accumulating heavy, wet snow. With these types of conditions we encourage all citizens to gather and update emergency supplies and pay close attention to weather forecast.  We suggest citizens stay home and travel only when necessary. If you have medical needs that require electricity, double check your backup plans to make sure you are safe at home. Follow these safety tips for winter weather:

Be prepared at Home

Heavy snowfall and ice can isolate you in your home, sometimes for long periods of time. Your primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, phone, and a shortage of supplies if the storm conditions continue for more than a day. Here are some tips to help out at home during severe winter weather

  • Have supplies at home to take care of yourself and your family for at least three days.
  • A three-day supply of food includes a gallon of water per person per day and food that does not require electricity to prepare it.
  • A battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries will provide emergency information.  Be sure to listen to local stations for weather and emergency information.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.  Don’t use candles when the power is out.
  • Stay inside where it is warm and dry.
  • If there is no heat, close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels, rags or extra clothes in cracks under doors, and cover windows at night to reduce heat loss.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Remove layers as needed to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
  • Get more details and an emergency supply checklist at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or on the Ready Virginia mobile app.

Be prepared on the Road

Roads can become very hazardous very quickly.  Only travel if absolutely necessary, and if you do be prepared.

  • Plan your trip and know road conditions before you leave.  Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to www.511Virginia.org.
  • Put emergency supplies in your car.  Use an old backpack or small container.  If you become stranded, you will need water and non-perishable food; blankets, hats and mittens; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a whistle to blow to get attention.  Other items to include are an ice scraper, can of deicer spray, jumper cables and road flares or a bright LED light that attaches to the vehicle, a bright colored cloth to use as a flag, hand wipes and paper towels, and a small first aid kit.  Add a bag of kitty litter or sand for extra weight in your vehicle and also to use for traction in case you get stuck.
  • Keep your gas tank full. This provides extra weight for traction and helps prevent ice from forming in your fuel line.
  • Even after roads have been treated with salt and/or sand, drivers should reduce speed and keep a safe driving distance from other vehicles on the road.
  • Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F.  If the road is wet, ice is likely, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses.
  • If you get stuck, stay in your car. The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends running the car engine for heat for 10 minutes and then turning off the engine for 20 minutes.

Emergency heat

  • If you use space heaters, plug them directly into wall sockets – don’t use extension cords.  Keep space heaters at least three feet from furniture, bedding and draperies.  Don’t leave space heaters unattended, and turn them off when you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Generators should always be run outside, in well-ventilated areas.  Follow manufacturer’s directions exactly. Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy.
  • Kerosene and propane heaters can cause fires if left unsupervised.  If you use one, use only the recommended fuel.  Always refuel outdoors safely away from your home.
  • Have your fireplace and wood stove chimneys inspected and cleaned.  These often build up creosote, which is the residue left behind by burning wood.  Creosote is flammable and must be professionally removed.
  • Dress for the Weather

    • 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 mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
    • Wear a hat.
    • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs


    • Listen to your radio, television, for weather reports and emergency information.
    • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
    • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
    • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
    • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

    If you are outdoors

    • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
    • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
    • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
    • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
    • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
    • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected:
      • get the victim to a warm location
      • remove wet clothing
      • put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket
      • warm the center of the body first
      • give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious
      • get medical help as soon as possible.

    Downed Power Lines Safety

  • The Charlottesville Fire Department reminds citizens that severe snow storms are now possible with winter weather. These storms can bring strong winds and ice. This weather can also bring down trees and power lines.

                    Be aware of hazards presented by downed power lines.

    • Consider all wires ENERGIZED and dangerous. Even lines that are de-energized may become energized at any time.
    • Stay at least 10 feet away from the wire.
    • Electricity can travel through the ground. Therefore, a live wire touching the ground can harm you even if you don’t touch the wire.
    • Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire.
    • Never use any object to move a downed wire.
    • If a broken power line should fall on your vehicle:
      • Stay inside the vehicle until help arrives, as your car may be energized.
      • Warn others not to touch the vehicle and have them call for help.
      • If you must leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible with both feet landing on the ground at the same time.  DO NOT touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
    • If someone makes contact with a downed power line, don’t try to rescue them because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 911 immediately.

    For other safety tips, you can call the Charlottesville Fire Department at 434-970-3328.  You can also visit us at www.cfdonline.org or on Facebook and Twitter.

  • PETA Offers Albemarle County Residents Urgent Information for Safeguarding Animals During Winter WeatherGroup Warns Against Leaving Animals Outside in Freezing TemperaturesAlbemarle County, Va. — Every year, PETA receives thousands of complaints about people who leave dogs and cats outside in the cold. Although they are equipped with fur coats, dogs, cats, and other animals can still suffer from frostbite and exposure, and they can become dehydrated when water sources freeze. Cold weather spells extra hardship for “backyard dogs,” who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, and it can also pose challenges for wildlife.With snow and low temperatures predicted for your area, will you please consider sharing the following information with your audience now and throughout the winter in order to help protect animals?Keep animals indoors. This is absolutely critical when it comes to puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman pinschers. Short-haired animals will also benefit from a warm sweater or a coat on walks.
    • Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam outdoors. During winter, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started.
    • Wipe off your dogs’ or cats’ legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make your animals sick if they ingest them. You should also increase animals’ food rations during the winter because they burn more calories in an effort to stay warm.
    • Keep an eye out for stray animals. Take unidentified animals indoors until you can find their guardians or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are skittish or otherwise unapproachable, provide food and water and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.
    • If you see animals left outside without shelter from the elements, please notify authorities. For information on what constitutes adequate shelter, click here.
    • During extreme winter weather, birds and other animals may have trouble finding food and water. Offer rations to wildlife who are caught in storms or white-outs by spreading birdseed on the ground. Provide access to liquid water by filling a heavy water bowl and breaking the surface ice twice a day. Remember to remove the food once the weather improves to encourage the animals to move on to warmer areas.
  • WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states affected by severe winter weather moving across the country.
    Weather forecasts predict power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.
    FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.
    FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @GA_FSISAlert@NC_FSISAlert and@SC_FSISAlert.
    Steps to follow if the power goes out:
    • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
    • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit in around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
    • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
    • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
    • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
    • Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
    • Avoid putting food outside in ice or snow, because it attracts wild animals or could thaw when the sun comes out.
    • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
    • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
    • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
    • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
    Steps to follow after a weather emergency:
    • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
    • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
    • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
    • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
    • When in doubt, throw it out.
    Videos detailing food safety information are available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language on FSIS’ YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/USDAFoodSafety.  An FSIS Public Service Announcement (PSA) illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/videos-psas/food-safety-public-service-announcements. News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757.
    Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.

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