As Hurricane Sandy looms over Pennsylvania, local officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and prepare for extended emergencies.
Warren County Public Safety Director Todd Lake said staff has been making sure critical infrastructure such as major day care centers, nursing homes, and personal care homes have emergency plans in place for extended power outages or flooding.
"We've been keeping a close eye on how much rain we are getting and making sure we're in good shape for extended power outages," he said on Monday.
A storm such as Hurricane Sandy that is moving out of the south will dump rain in Warren County and then Chautauqua County, N.Y., which serves as the headwaters for streams and rivers in the area.
That means ensuring emergency vehicles in the county are prepared, but there are also a number of things residents can do to prepare.
"Make sure you're able to take care of yourself for a minimum of 72 hours," Lake said.
If there are major power outages, Lake said people should stay off the roads and if traffic lights are not working, the intersection is then a four-way stop sign.
Residents will not be able to buy a generator, he said, but residents who do own one should make sure they're not running it inside or in a garage that is attached to a house.
If there is a power outage, residents should call Penelec, not 911, Lake said. Doing so will only tie up a 911 line.
Residents should also fill up their vehicles with gasoline and make sure they have flashlights.
According to the Red Cross, there are a number of steps that residents can take to withstand a flood if they have the following items available, packed and ready to go: at least a three-day supply of water based on one gallon per person per day; food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare food; a flashlight; battery-powered or hand-crank radio with National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration weather radio if possible; extra batteries; first aid kit; a seven-day supply of medications and medical items such as hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes; a multi-purpose tool; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of personal documents such as medication lists, pertinent medical information, deed and lease to a home, birth certificates and insurance policies; cell phone with chargers; family and medical contact information; extra cash; emergency blanket; maps of the area; baby supplies such as bottles, formula, baby food, diapers; pet supplies such as collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl; tools and supplies for securing your home; extra set of car keys and house keys; extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes; rain gear; and a camera for photos of damage.
The NOAA has issued a high wind warning in effect until 2 p.m. Tuesday and a flood watch warning with three to six inches of rain possible by late afternoon.
National Fuel has advised customers whose natural gas appliances have been affected by flooding to not attempt to re-light the pilot lights on equipment such as furnances and hot water tanks.
"If furnace or hot water tank controls were submerged, the floodwater may have caused damage that could affect the safe operation of the equipment. A qualified contractor should be called to inspect the appliances," National Fuel said in a press release.