Montgomery County, MD- - Fire and Rescue officials are reminding residents coping with power outages to make sure their homes are ready to safely receive electricity once power has been restored. Residents should ensure there are no flammable items on or near the stove, turn off any major appliances that were operating when the power went out (i.e., ovens, stoves, dryers, etc.) and to turn off or unplug items such as computers, irons or space heaters that may have been in use prior to the outage. Turn off as many appliances as possible that require electricity and turn them on, one by one, after power is restored. This will cause less stress to the power system and prevent or minimize damage to sensitive equipment when power is restored. Residents may want to leave a porch light on so they will know when power is restored.
Additionally, Fire Chief Steve Lohr is asking residents to please check on any elderly, disabled or special needs neighbors who may need a helping hand and to continue to clear snow from fire hydrants. This season’s record-breaking snow accumulation, combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots, have left many fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. By keeping fire hydrants clear of snow, the public can help firefighters easily locate them and access water quickly. Other important safety reminders:
• Be a good neighbor. Make sure you clear a path for first responders, mail carriers and delivery workers. They go through rain, sleet and freezing temperatures, but snow and ice can be particularly hazardous. Maintaining a clear path including steps, porches, walkways and driveways will help make it as safe as possible for them to do their job.
• Make sure your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Many smoke alarms may be dependent on your home’s electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Make sure your alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery annually or as directed by the manufacturer. Call 311 for information on Montgomery County’s free smoke alarm program.
• Make sure your vehicle is cleared of all snow and ice before driving. This ensures maximum visibility and makes the road safer for others traveling behind you.
• Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Push snow rather than lift it. Use proper lifting techniques and always follow the advice of your doctor before engaging in any strenuous winter activities.
• Pedestrians should wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see them, especially in times of poor visibility, and use reflective clothing or stickers for maximum visibility.
• Never go out on frozen ponds, lakes or creeks. It's impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance, thickness, daily temperature, or snow cover alone. Ice strength is also dependent on water depth under the ice, the size of the water and water chemistry, currents and distribution of the load on the ice. Remind children of this, again and again.
• Choose a safe place to sled. When everything is covered in snow, all hills may look like great places to sled. Choose a location that is free of obstacles such as trees, fences, rocks and doesn’t end near a street, pond or any other hazards. Sled in the daylight when visibility is best and choose a snowy rather than icy hill to avoid hard and dangerous landings.
• If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Please bring your pets inside during the cold weather.
• Winter weather conditions require different driving techniques. If you have a new driver in your household, take time to remind them to slow down, monitor weather conditions closely and follow the advice of authorities. Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Just two seconds of distraction doubles the chance for an accident. Eyes on the road!