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Residents Urged to Prepare for Winter Storms



Placer County officials are urging residents to be prepared for a series of winter storms that will arrive later this week.

Placer County Assistant Director of Emergency Services Rui Cunha emphasized residents should take steps each year to prepare for wet, windy winter weather.

 "Storms sometimes bring heavy snow, major power outages, high winds, downed trees, localized stream flooding, back-country avalanches and other challenges," he said. "The effects are tough to predict, so it is important that residents be ready for whatever happens.  Preparedness and planning also bring peace of mind."

The National Weather Service expects wet, windy weather to begin Wednesday and last through the weekend. Heavy precipitation with prolonged high rainfall rates is expected to start Thursday. 

The NWS has issued a flood watch that is scheduled to remain in effect from Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. The heaviest precipitation is expected north of Placer County over eastern Butte and western Plumas counties and in the mountains north of Redding.

In Placer County, rainfall accumulations are expected to be significant. Localized flooding is likely, including ponding on roadways, minor flooding in low-lying areas, clogged drains and backyard flooding.  Major flooding is not anticipated in Placer County, but the potential exists for streams to overtop their banks and for roadways to be overtopped.

The Placer County Office of Emergency Services advises every household to have the ability to sustain itself for at least five days without services in case of an emergency. Every family needs a readiness plan, and should teach children what to do.
 
To be prepared for major winter storms, households are advised to:

1) Store enough extra drinking water for each person to have one gallon available per day.

 2) Have a five-day supply of ready-to-eat nonperishable foods, as well as can openers, matches, knives, foil and plastic bags.  Outdoor cooking appliances such as barbecues should not be used inside homes.

3) Buy extra batteries and flashlights.

4) Before a storm hits, clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away branches that could fall on houses or other structures.

5) Have fire extinguishers on hand and make sure family members know how to use them.

6) Pack bags with medications, first-aid supplies, blankets, warm shoes and clothing, rain gear, toiletries and other personal items, household tools, list of important phone numbers, and games and toys for kids.

7) Make plans for taking care of pets and livestock during emergencies.

8) Have battery-operated televisions, radios or mobile communication devices such as smart phones on hand.

9) Check outdoors for anything that a strong wind could blow away or damage.

10) Know how to turn off water, electricity, propane and natural gas coming into houses.

11) Winterize vehicles. Keep half a tank of gasoline in vehicles, make sure tires are in good shape and have tools such as shovels and scrapers available. Keep blankets in vehicles.  When driving in the Sierra, keep plenty of warm clothing, food and water.  Check road information numbers and consider the possible consequences before heading for the Sierra in bad weather.  For updated information on road conditions on state highways, check the Caltrans website at www.dot.ca.gov or call the Caltrans road information number: 1-800-427-7623.

12) When exposed to freezing temperatures, remove wet clothing and immediately warm up with hot soup and a blanket. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

13) Recognize the symptoms of exposure. Dizziness, exhaustion and shivering are signs of hypothermia. Skin discoloration and numbness are signs of frostbite.

14) Residents who live in areas subject to localized stream or street flooding should keep an eye out for rising streams, flooded culverts and water running across roads.  Pay close attention to weather advisories.

15) Check on neighbors or family members who may need assistance, especially if they are elderly or face special challenges.

16) Stay well informed. Turn on the radio or television news or use mobile devices for storm information, instructions and warnings.  Should an emergency situation develop in which the Placer County Office of Emergency Services is involved, news media will be notified, and staff will be available to provide information.

Emergency preparedness information is available on the Placer County website at www.placer.ca.gov. When the county home page appears, hit the "Emergency" link near the top of the page to access the Office of Emergency Services website. Once its home page appears, use the "Basic Emergency Preparations" link to find tips on how to be prepared for emergencies.

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