RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Northam is urging Virginia residents to plan ahead as a winter storm is approaching the area.
He said he has placed state agencies including the Virginia Departments of Transportation and Emergency Management, and State Police, on alert. Preparations have been made to have crews in place on extended shifts and in larger numbers due to expected slippery roads, power outages, and other public safety concerns.
“Our state agencies are taking necessary precautions to keep everyone safe—I urge all Virginians to take this winter weather threat seriously and make sure your homes, businesses, and families are prepared for this storm and other events ahead this winter,” Governor Northam said.
VDOT has started taking measures to pre-treat roads and prepare equipment, crews, and materials ahead of the storm. The have more than 2,500 crew members and more than 11,700 pieces of equipment prepared to respond to the upcoming storm on each 12 hour shift.
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According to Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, safety is top priority.
"Driving conditions are expected to be hazardous, and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes and road conditions are improved,” she said.
Here are tips for residents to stay as prepared as possible:
- Keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed, and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
- If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
- Download the VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp, or dial 5-1-1 from any phone.
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper, and phone charger.
- Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
- Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
- Bring pets inside from the cold.
- While you’re using heating equipment, make sure you keep a three-foot zone around open fires and space heaters, and remember to turn those space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. This goes for the furnace, fireplace, and wood stove, as well.
- If using your fireplace, make sure it has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
- Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
- If you need help, information, or resources during the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out-of-state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
- If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
- Remember, you should NEVER touch a downed power line. If you see lines down, call 911 or contact your local power company.
- High winds and rain can cause trees and branches to fall, which may bring down power lines. Beware of any lines that may have fallen or come into contact with trees, debris, or water. Stay at least 30 feet away and make sure your family, pets, and neighbors also avoid the downed wire.