Wolf Administration Urges Public to Use Caution, Put Safety First for Travel

February 08, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – With widespread winter weather predicted for much of Pennsylvania and impacts to Thursday’s morning rush hour in the eastern and south-central regions, Governor Tom Wolf reminds motorists to be mindful during winter weather conditions.

“Pennsylvania agencies are working together to closely monitor the storm and we strongly encourage you to do the same,” said Governor Wolf. “You should prepare for the worst and make sure you have appropriate supplies for your loved ones before the snow arrives.”

“Generally speaking, most of the state hasn’t seen a lot of snow this winter,” said Richard D. Flinn Jr., Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). “The Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA will be activated early tomorrow morning, and staff from multiple state agencies will be working there and ready to respond as needed for the duration of this storm.”

During a storm, PennDOT’s primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. In some instances to enhance safety, PennDOT may temporarily reduce speed limits on expressways and interstates. PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear. Also, higher volume roads take priority.

“PennDOT’s 4,800 on-the-road workers are ready and will be on duty throughout tomorrow’s storm to keep roads passable,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “But we count on drivers to do their part by following some simple guidelines:”

  • Monitor weather forecasts and postpone travel if necessary, especially over long distances during the storm.
  • Slow down while driving when snow is falling and always wear your seat belt. Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicles you are following.
  • During squalls or whiteouts, do not stop on the roadway. Come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
  • When encountering plows, stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • When a plow is approaching you, move as far from the center of the road as is safely possible and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles by visiting www.511PA.com. PennDOT’s Automated Vehicle Locator plow tracking tool is being expanded to all of the more than 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks, with vehicle locations viewable on 511PA.

Families should check to make sure their home emergency kits are fully stocked with essential items. A home emergency kit should contain:

  • Non-perishable food;
  • Bottled water (one gallon per person per day. A family of four needs a minimum of 12 gallons);
  • Medications;
  • Flashlight with spare batteries;
  • First aid kit;
  • Warm clothing; and
  • Any specialized items such as baby supplies or pet food.

PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly. Free emergency kit checklists for your vehicle or home and family emergency plan templates are available online at www.ReadyPA.org.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is advising residents that heavy, wet snow is harder to shovel, which can put extra stress on the body and heart. While shoveling snow, everyone should take plenty of breaks and listen to their body.

“This storm will blanket much of Pennsylvania with heavy, wet snow,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Shoveling any type of snow can be dangerous for individuals with underlying health conditions or those who don’t normally perform strenuous duties. Heavy, wet snow increases the amount of exertion that is required when shoveling. We are urging everyone to stay safe by following commonsense tips when removing snow after this storm.”

Follow these additional tips to make removing snow safer:

  • If you have any heart attack symptoms, like pain in your chest or shortness of breath, stop shoveling and call 9-1-1;
  • Consider shoveling in shifts instead of all at once;
  • Take breaks and drink water to prevent dehydration;
  • Push snow instead of lifting it – if you must lift, bend your legs and not your back;
  • Avoid twisting motions that can stress your back; and
  • If using a snow blower, follow all safety instructions and stay aware of others who may be nearby.

For additional health and safety information, follow the departments of Health and Transportation as well as PEMA, on social media.

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