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Red Cross Shelters Hundreds as Severe Weather Hits Northeast
Date:12/15/2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross sheltered hundreds of people over the weekend who were affected by ice storms in the Northeast. Working with local partners, Red Cross chapters opened shelters in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

"Unfortunately, ice storms are par for the course during the New England winter. But the Red Cross is always ready to give people a safe and warm place to go when there are widespread power outages like this," said Joe Becker, senior vice president of Disaster Services.

Severe winter weather also threatens other parts of the country this week, including states in the Midwest and West. The Red Cross encourages everyone to be prepared:

  • If a winter storm WATCH is issued in your area, it means a winter storm is possible. Pay attention to updates from local radio and TV stations, and avoid any unnecessary travel.
  • If a winter storm WARNING is issued, it means a winter storm is headed for your area. Stay indoors during the storm if possible. If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.
  • A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately.

Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must, make sure you have a disaster supplies kit in the trunk. Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If you get stuck while driving:

  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

About the American Red CrossThe American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.


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SOURCE American Red Cross
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