MAYVILLE - Any winter storm can be dangerous, but the frigid temperatures, extreme wind chills and lake effect snow associated with Winter Storm Ion can pose life-threatening dangers.
"In extremely cold weather and especially with the harsh wind chills we're facing, even the simplest outdoor activity can be very dangerous, so if you don't have to go outside don't," said Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County Executive.
For emergencies, dial 911; for other storm-related concerns or more information, contact the county's Emergency Operations Center at 753-4341.
Horrigan urges no unnecessary travel and for everyone to exercise extreme caution if they have to leave their homes or travel anywhere.
"Local and state officials in collaboration with our community partners and the Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation and Emergency Services are taking these precautions to ensure health and safety and I ask that you monitor the weather and follow any instructions issued by emergency officials," said Horrigan.
RED CROSS/PUBLIC HEALTH SAFETY TIPS
Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
Avoid unnecessary travel.
Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including: Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps, extra batteries, first-aid kit, extra medicine, and baby items.
If travel is necessary, make sure you have a full tank of gas and a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle which includes: shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, and extra batteries.
If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers and raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing).
Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe-this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
Huddle with other people for warmth.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
Don't forget your pets - bring them indoors. If they can't come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING/FIRE DANGER: SPACE HEATERS, FIREPLACES, GENERATORS
Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
Use generators correctly never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
Don't hook a generator up to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
CO detectors alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Install a CO detector and make sure batteries are fresh.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea and disorientation.
Keep grills, camp stoves and generators out of the house, basement and garage and always locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.