Mayor Jason L. McCoy today is urging residents without power to use extreme caution and to take necessary measures to ensure safety while the town and utility companies work to uphold public safety and restore power to Vernon.
“As the power outage persists, it is imperative that residents take necessary precautions to avoid any unnecessary accidents or fatalities,” said Mayor McCoy. “Public safety is the town’s top priority, and we are taking every step necessary to ensure that residents without power have a safe, dry place to seek refuge and receive a meal.”
On Saturday, October 29, 2011, Vernon opened a shelter at Vernon Center Middle School (VCMS) in anticipation of Winter Storm Alfred. On Monday, the shelter served approximately 400 lunch time meals and afforded approximately 220 residents with overnight refuge. In addition, the shelter is pet friendly and serves as a charging station for cell phones and other electronic devices. A shuttle bus is available until 9:00 p.m. for residents in need of transportation to the shelter.
The town also opened a warming and charging station on Monday at the Vernon Senior Center, located at 26 Park Place. The Senior Center is open to all residents in need of power from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Residents are reminded that the Senior Center is not being used as an overnight shelter.
Mayor McCoy is also urging residents to closely monitor their water supply, as public and private water supplies may not be safe to drink. Water that is discolored, cloudy, has an odor, small particles floating in it, or otherwise tainted should not be used. Residents should remain cognizant of potential boil water advisories and other public safety information issued by their respective water company or news station. Residents can obtain more information about drinking water by visiting the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s website at www.ct.gov/dph.
Members of the community in need of potable water can obtain it at Henry Park (120 South Street) next to the Lottie Fisk Building. Residents can access the park from both McLean Street and Kevin Drive. Water will be available on a daily basis from sunrise until sunset.
Food safety is also a concern given the loss of refrigeration resulting from the severity of the power outage. Residents should be aware that an unopened refrigerator can keep food cold for up to four hours and a freezer for roughly twenty four to forty eight hours. In the event of a power outage in excess of twenty four hours, food can be preserved through the use of coolers and ice and monitored with the use of a thermometer.
“It is important that residents do not eat food that has spoiled as a result of temperature loss in their refrigerator or freezer,” said Mayor McCoy. “Residents should check for odors, as well as visible spoil signs to ensure that perishables are safe to eat. If food has been determined as not edible, it should be properly disposed of.”
Residents should throw away any unsafe food, including food that has been exposed to temperatures of forty degrees Fahrenheit for two or more hours that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Food that is determined unsafe should never be tasted and disposed of immediately. More information on food safety can be obtained at www.redcross.org.
On Monday, Mayor McCoy announced that regular refuse and recycling would be cancelled through Friday, November 4, 2011, as a result of the impact from Winter Storm Alfred. To help assist residents with food disposal, the town will make available a dumpster at the Transfer Station on Hockanum Boulevard beginning tomorrow, November 2, 2011. Residents will be able to dispose of only perishable items and household food waste from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Bulk items will not be accepted for disposal.
Mayor McCoy is also reminding residents to remain cognizant of the potential for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Mayor McCoy is urging residents to ensure proper installation and use of gas powered generators and other carbon monoxide producing utilities, such as charcoal grills, gas ovens and fireplaces/wood stoves. CO is a deadly gas that cannot be seen or smelled and can kill very quickly.
“Generators that are powered by gasoline release carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can kill very quickly,” said Mayor McCoy. “Residents should ensure that portable generators are installed properly and used in an open, well ventilated space. Members of the community should not use portable generators, gas grills, gas lanterns, or camping stoves indoors, and they should be kept at a safe distance from residencies.”
The Town of Vernon urges residents to never use portable generators inside a home, garage, carport, crawlspace, shed or other partially enclosed space, regardless of ventilation. Portable generators should only be used outside and kept at a minimum distance of ten feet from the home, to ensure that the generator is away from doors, windows, vents and air conditioning units. Residents should consult the units’ user manual for more information, or visit DPH’s website at http://www.ct.gov/dph.
In addition to CO poisoning, Mayor McCoy is urging residents to take the following safety steps:
- Do not touch any downed wires; assume all wires are live and call 9-1-1
- Turnoff and unplug electronic appliances to avoid complications during power restoration
- Avoid downed tree limbs with wires tangled around them; call 9-1-1 to report the wires
- Use eye/face protection, and other safety equipment when using a chainsaw
- Refrain from leaving lit candles unattended and place them in safe holders
- Do not use a fireplace unless it has recently been cleaned out and is serviceable
- Septic systems that utilize electric pumps should be monitored for possible sewage backup. Contact the Department of Public Health for septic questions: (860) 509-7296
Additional precautionary measures can be obtained at www.ct.gov/demhs or www.ct.gov/dph. Residents can also get further information about Winter Storm Alfred cleanup at www.vernon-ct.gov/alfred or by calling Vernon’s Emergency Operations Center at (860) 871-7468. Residents are reminded to avoid downed power lines and to contact their utility providers to report any unreported power outages by calling 1-800-286-2000 or 1-860-947-2000. In the event of an emergency, residents in need should call 911.
Residents who utilize social media can also follow @MayorMcCoy on Twitter for live updates regarding Hurricane Irene and other town alerts.