Governor Ralph Northam warns Virginians to prepare for winter storm

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Governor Ralph Northam urges Virginians to prepare for the winter storm this weekend.

With a strong storm front on the horizon for this weekend, Governor Ralph Northam in a press release urged Virginians to prepare for the winter storm.

Northam confirmed the Virginia Departments of Transportation and Emergency Management, and State Police, are on alert.

Motorists are strongly encouraged off stay off the road.

“The forecast for this weekend calls for winter weather, which could result in widespread power outages and dangerous road conditions,” said Governor Northam. “Our state agencies are taking necessary precautions to keep everyone safe—I urge all Virginians to take this winter weather threat seriously and make sure your homes, businesses, and families are prepared for this storm and other events ahead this winter.”

In the press release, Northam provides a list of what citizens should do:

• Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed, and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.

• If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.

• Download the VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp, or dial 5-1-1 from any phone.

• Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper, and phone charger.

• Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.

• Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.

• Bring pets inside from the cold.

• While you’re using heating equipment, make sure you keep a three-foot zone around open fires and space heaters, and remember to turn those space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. This goes for the furnace, fireplace, and wood stove, as well.

• If using your fireplace, make sure it has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

• Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.

• Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.

• If you need help, information, or resources during the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out-of-state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.

• If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.

• Remember, you should NEVER touch a downed power line. If you see lines down, call 911 or contact your local power company.

• High winds and rain can cause trees and branches to fall, which may bring down power lines. Beware of any lines that may have fallen or come into contact with trees, debris, or water. Stay at least 30 feet away and make sure your family, pets, and neighbors also avoid the downed wire.

• To report power outages to Dominion Energy, visit DominionEnergy.com and check the map for updates. Stay clear of downed lines and call 866-366-4357 to report them.

• You can report power outages to Appalachian Power at https://appalachianpower.com/outages/report/ or call 1-800-956-4237.

• Cooperatives have links on their websites for power outage reporting.