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SOURCE Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians without power following the latest round of dangerous winter weather, state officials are reminding affected residents to take basic precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones during and after the outage.
"People should expect power to be out for several days simply because of the sheer volume of power outages and the amount of debris that must be cleared before power crews can access the problem areas," said Glenn Cannon, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Cannon emphasized that dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning is a real concern during power outages. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is found in combustion fumes like those made by generators, lanterns and gas ranges.
Department of Health officials say individuals who remain at home without power should be aware of the serious risk of developing a very low body temperature, called hypothermia.
"Many people think of hypothermia as an outdoor danger, but it can also occur indoors in cool temperatures – particularly during power outages that occur in winter," said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf. "Hypothermia can be deadly because it affects the brain and prevents victims from thinking clearly and moving well, so they may not even know it is happening."
Wolf said babies and older adults are most at risk. Symptoms in adults include shivering and exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss or slurred speech, and drowsiness. Warning signs in infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.
If it is believed someone may have hypothermia, take their temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, get them immediate medical attention.
"During and after a power outage, it is especially important to remember key food safety tips," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "Simple steps like monitoring the temperature and condition of food can make the difference between safe food and dangerous food, and I encourage Pennsylvanians to follow basic food safety tips to ensure they remain safe."
Greig offered the following tips to help families minimize the potential for food-borne illness due to power outages:
The commonwealth's ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved. More detailed information, including downloadable emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org.
Ruth A. Miller, PEMA: 717-979-6557
Penny Ickes, Health: 717-787-1783
Samantha Elliott Krepps, Agriculture: 717-787-5085
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