BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Emergency Management and the American Red Cross are warning people to be prepared for heavy rains over the next few days.
Never walk or drive through flooded areas. Even a few inches on the road can cause your vehicle to hydroplane and crash. The power of rushing water can quickly erode and wash out roadways, making them hazardous.
Prepare for power outages. Fill water containers now in case the power goes out and you lose the use of safe running water for drinking or cooking. Power up your cell phones and flashlights now, just in case. If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep foods safe.
Stay well away from downed power lines and trees even if if looks like there’s clearance. With current conditions, a tree halfway down can come crashing down without warning. Electricity can travel through water and hurt or kill you.
Beware of high waters: When it floods, rivers, streams and roads may carry harmful bacteria and chemicals. High waters mean that favorite swimming areas may be too dangerous for boating, swimming and recreation at this time.
Private drinking water wells may be affected by flooding. If there is a change in quality - odor or taste of well water -- assume that it is contaminated, take all precautions and get it tested to make sure it is safe to drink.
The American Red Cross of Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley is urging people to be alert and take steps in advance of heavy rain. A few steps taken before, during and after potential flooding will help ensure people weather the storm safely.
Red Cross volunteers have been asked to advise of their availability through the weekend; more than 60 have already responded. Vehicles and equipment are being readied. Outreach has begun to potential shelter sites. Lines of communication are open with state and local emergency planners. And Red Cross disaster services workers are being lined up to staff the State Emergency Operations Center
As conditions warrant, the Red Cross will consider opening shelters to serve communities that may be hard hit by the anticipated severe weather. Additional services to affected towns will be assessed in consultation with local and state officials.
The Red Cross suggests before a storm, ensure you have available and ready to go items that you may need if you must evacuate your home. This includes everything from a flashlight, to a fully-charged cell phone, baby and pet supplies, medications and more.
During a storm, stay informed and safe during a flooding event by ensuring you have a crank or battery-powered radio; head to higher ground as warranted; stay away from flooded roads while driving; and keep curious children away from flood waters. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep a person off their feet and a car can be swept away in less than two feet of water.
After a storm, only return home after it has been declared safe; look for and avoid downed power lines; wear protective gear (gloves, boots, mask) during clean up; and ensure your water supply is safe.
A great deal more preparedness information is available at www.redcross.org.
The Red Cross strongly encourages people to go to this site, take the time to review their safety plan, create an emergency kit for their home and car and to stay informed before, during and after storms. To put much of this helpful information right at your fingertips, the Red Cross also encourages people to download its free First Aid and other preparedness apps from the iTunes Store or Google Play for Android users.