With New Jersey expecting its first winter storm of 2013 this weekend, New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd reminds residents to prepare for this weather emergency.
"Although our state has been no stranger to weather events recently, it's important to remind everyone that the best time to prepare for a storm is before it hits," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "By taking the time to prepare, we can protect the health of our families and friends."
The Department of Health recommends these tips:
- Have an emergency plan: Every family should have an emergency plan that includes up-to-date contact information such as cell-phones and a centralized meeting place if family members get split up. Plans should also include emergency phone numbers for health care providers.
- Stock up on the essentials: you should have enough food and safety supplies to last for at least three days, including drinking water, canned and non-perishable foods, prescription medicine, baby food and formula (if needed), a stocked first-aid kid, flashlights and extra batteries, battery-powered lanterns, rock-salt and cat litter or sand (to add traction on walkways).
- Stay informed: Your local television or radio news stations can keep you informed. Weather forecasts and other information changes frequently. If you are using a cell phone or smart phone, make sure you have a charger that can be used in your car, in case of power outages.
In the event of a power outage, follow these safety recommendations:
- If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 2 hours or more.
- Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
- Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords.
- Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet because of the risk of electrocution.
- Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
- Use fireplaces or wood stoves only if they are properly vented to the outside.
- Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors - the fumes can be deadly.
- Avoid using candles for light or heat. If you must use them, never leave lit candles unattended.
For more information on winter weather safety, visit: http://www.nj.gov/health/er/cdc/winterweather/index.shtml