TIPS: Staying safe as remnants from Ida push into Northeastern, Central PA

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — As remnants of Hurricane Ida move into Pennsylvania, it brings the threat of heavy rains, high winds and potential flooding.

There are several ways to prepare your home and your family for major weather events:

File image of a tree on top of a vehicle after storms in Kingston, Luzerne County

With the threat of heavy rains that could cause flooding, West Berwick Hose Company No. 1 advises homeowners clear downspouts and storm drains. If you are prone to basement flooding, they suggest having an operational sump pump.

If your basement floods, the Pennsylvania Utility Commission says not to enter unless you are sure the water is not in contact with a source of electricity. They say to call a qualified electrician to disconnect the power before you enter a flooded basement.

If your home floods, evacuate immediately, FEMA says. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.

FEMA says to get to the highest level if trapped in a building and it is flooding, and not to get into a closed attic to avoid getting trapped by rising floodwater.

FEMA says to stay off bridges over fast-moving water. The water can wash away bridges without warning.

The anticipated high winds can bring down power and utility lines:

“Severe weather can bring down trees, branches and wires, disrupting utility service,” said PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “Time spent on planning and preparing before a storm can go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe when severe weather hits.”

Image courtesy of PA Public Utility Commission

PUC recommends having a plan for power outages. Plans include keeping necessary supplies such as food, medicine, batteries and flashlights on hand. Have a flashlight for every family member, FMA says. Keep your cellphone charged, know your utility hotlines to report outages and save utility web addresses to receive updates on power restoration.

FEMA suggests taking an inventory of items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources for if and when the power goes out.

The PUC says to stay away from downed wires and any objects that are in contact with a downed power line.

While you wait for power to be restored to your home if it is lost, the PUC says to turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with surges or spikes that can damage equipment.

Generator usage and safety:

If you are using a generator, do not run it inside a home, garage or anywhere close to a window or vent, PUC says. Don’t overload your generator, PUC suggests. A generator should only be used when necessary and power a limited number of appliances or equipment.

Also, be sure the generator is properly grounded to avoid electrical shocks. FEMA suggests installing a carbon monoxide detector with battery backup in central location, on every level of your home.

For natural gas customers:

Those using natural gas appliances can also be affected by storms and outages, PUC says. They suggest checking your gas appliances. If they do not function properly when power is restored, call a professional for service.

Natural gas appliances can also be affected by flooding. Contact a licensed professional to clean, repair and test all the appliance’s and pipes if the home gets flooded, PUC says. They also say not to attempt to restart natural gas appliances yourself – contact a professional.

FEMA says not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home if power is lost.

If you smell natural gas, PUC says to evacuate the home immediately.

FEMA suggests listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions regarding flooding.

September is National Preparedness Month which aims to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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