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Red Cross and Unitil Advise Mainers to Prepare for Severe Winter Storm


As Maine braces for yet another major winter storm this weekend, the American Red Cross and Unitil, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, are working together to plan, prepare, and assist residents who may be impacted by this weather event. Together, the American Red Cross and Unitil urge residents to prepare in advance of this potentially devastating winter storm to keep their family and loved ones safe.

The American Red Cross and Unitil strongly encourage residents to begin preparing for the possibility of blizzard-like conditions beginning late Saturday night and throughout Sunday. Current forecasts are predicting up to 24 inches of dry snow, combined with strong wind gusts.

“There’s still time to take a few simple steps to prepare for the significant snow that’s coming our way,” says Disaster Program Manager Paul Clark.

The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms by:

Assembling Emergency Preparedness Kits
Pack winter-specific supply kits for both home and your vehicle that include a flashlight, first aid supplies, warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand in case your car is stuck and to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, your home kit should have essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in the event of a power outage.

Preparing Your Home and Car
Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which helps prevent the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing.

“The incredible amount of snow we’ve received over the past few weeks is creating a dangerous situation for property owners,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager, Alec O’Meara. “Please take care to make sure your vents and meters are free of snow and ice, and if you use a rake to clear snow from your roof, please be mindful not to hit overhead power lines.”

Heavy snow and icicles can have an impact on home meters, especially natural gas meters and vents. Keeping vents and meters clear will allow for proper ventilation and can prevent carbon monoxide buildup within your home. As snow continues to accumulate, Unitil advises customers to take the following steps:
• Remove snow and ice carefully from a meter or outdoor appliance vent carefully with a broom. Do not use a shovel as it can damage the meter.  
• Avoid shoveling or plowing snow up against or covering the meter or pipe.
• Remove icicles from overhead eaves and gutters to assure dripping water does not freeze the meter or vent pipe. Contact a qualified roofing vendor if you cannot reach icicles yourself.
• Do not kick your gas meter in an attempt to break ice off, as this too can cause damage.

For additional advice on preparing for severe winter weather, please visit www.unitil.com or www.redcross.org.

About Unitil Corporation
Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil’s operating utilities serve approximately 102,700 electric customers and 77,900 natural gas customers. Other subsidiaries include Usource, Unitil’s non-regulated business segment. For more information about our people, technologies, and community involvement, please visit www.unitil.com.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit MaineRedCross.org/ or follow us on Twitter at @ARC_Maine.

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