Southington officials are now in full storm preparation mode.
The National Weather Service has upgraded storm warnings to a blizzard watch as an impending powerful winter storm threatens to drop between one and two feet on snow on the community and town departments are working to make sure the community is prepared in case of an emergency, Southington Town Attorney and Deputy Town Manager Mark Sciota said Thursday.
“We have our checklist to go through and have put everyone on preparation for the storm,” Sciota said. “The snow isn’t the issue, it’s power outages that are a concern. If there comes a time where residents have no power and it’s for lengthy period, we will take the next step then.”
Southington schools will be closed Friday and across town, departments are taking action to make sure the community is ready for what’s to come. At the Calendar House Senior Center, staff are preparing in case there is a need to open the shelter. The town does not currently have plans to open just yet, but emergency response teams are ready to open at a moments notice if there is a need, Sciota said.
Let Patch save you time. Get stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Public Works staff has also been alerted and many placed on standby already to be called in and used as needed to help keep roads as clear as possible. Southington police and fire officials have also been placed on standby to be called in if there is an emergency.
The impending storm could have winds of up to 60 miles per hour and with heavy snow, it could make driving nearly impossible.
At Connecticut Light & Power, staff is also gearing up for the storm, CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross said Thursday. Gross said the company has issued an "all hands on deck" alert to its workers, is holding meetings throughout the today with workers and expect to have "hundreds and hundreds" of workers on duty to deal with outages that could occur this weekend.
Gross, however, cautioned that crews will not be able to restore power during the storm or when the winds are high because of the dangers that could create.
"Our line workers and tree workers will be out there as long as it's safe," he added.
Sciota is also urging residents to prepare now rather than wait.
“Today is the day to prepare,” Sciota said. “Everyone should have food, water and batteries as well as gas and any other necessities in case power is lost for an extended period of time. Winter storms are dangerous and we are urging residents not to wait.”
It seems that many residents are taking the hint.
At stores across town, customers have been stocking up on supplies and are getting the items they need to dig out once the storm draws to a close. Staff at Superior Fence said they’ve seen “steady business” as residents have come in for shovels, rock salt and other supplies.
Grocery stores have also reported selling out of gallons of water as residents stock up in preparation for potential power outages.
If you haven’t done so yet, the Southington Police Department is asking residents to establish a “shelter in place” in their homes. The department is encouraging residents to follow their Facebook page for updates and has already provided tips in regard to storm preparations.
Citing the American Red Cross, the department has asked residents to consider putting aside the following supplies:
- Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day;
- Food—at least a 3-day supply of nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food;
- Flashlight; Battery-powered or hand-crank radio; (NOAAWeather Radio, if possible);
- Extra batteries;
- First aid kit;
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane);
- Multi-purpose tool;
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items;
- Copies of personal documents; (medication list and pertinent medical; information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies);
- Cell phone with chargers;
- Family and emergency contact information;
- Extra cash;
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby; food, diapers);
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food,carrier, bowl);
- Tools/supplies for securing your home;
- Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery;
- Warmcoats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots; and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members.
The department, in partnership with FEMA, also provided the following checklists for residents to use as they go about their business before, during and after the storm:
Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
- Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
- Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
- 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.
- 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, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- 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.
- Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
- Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
How are you handling the impending storm? Are you concerned that the winter weather could affect you? Do you have a tip for fellow residents? Tell us in the comments section below.
Make sure to like Southington Patch on Facebook and follow on Twitter for breaking news, daily updates and more!