Officials suggest stocking up on food and water and prepare for possible power outages.

The National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on a Lake Effect storm that could last a few days and could dump more than a foot snow. Where it falls depends on the wind, and officials are encouraging you to prepare now. Diane Ward, CHN of the Herkimer County Public Health, strongly advises residents to “winterize” their family before the storm hits.

“At home, make certain that you have extra water and food and know how you will manage during a power outage. A family’s winter emergency plan should address how to keep people warm and dry if a winter storm knocks out power and electricity,” [Diane Ward]

Remember, NEVER use a generator indoors to produce electricity because carbon monoxide fumes can poison your family. When using a non-electric heater or wood stove to warm your house, you must have adequate ventilation to the outside to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, poisonous gas that can kill you. Symptoms of exposure are similar to the flu but without a fever. Symptoms of a lower level of exposure can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting,
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath.

Exposure to very high levels of carbon monoxide can result in loss of consciousness and even death.

Hypothermia can occur unexpectedly, even in rooms in which temperatures are set at 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. People who are 65 and older should set their home thermostat no lower than 65 F. Those who are 75 and older should maintain home temperatures of 70 degrees F.

Cold weather also puts an extra burden on the heart.

“If you have cardiac problems or high blood pressure, check with your doctor before shoveling or performing any strenuous exercise outside. Healthy adults, too, should dress warmly when working outside. You should go indoors if you begin to feel cold, and remember that the body is working overtime to keep warm,” Ms. Ward said.

For more information on staying healthy and safe during severe winter weather, call the Herkimer County Public Health at 315-867-1176 or visit the New York State Department of Health web site at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency.

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Winter Weather Preparation:

  • Keep your cell phone charged and make sure you know where your backup power supply is.
  • Make sure all your flashlights have fresh batteries.
  • Fill your gas tank. You can use your car to keep warm and recharge devices.
  • Have some food available that you don’t need to cook.