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Experts Warn Of Power Line, Generator Dangers Amid Snow And Ice

LARCHMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- This week's back-to-back snowstorms are raising some unusual issues for homeowners, but there are still few hours left to prepare.

As CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported, the snow from the storm Monday already has been weighing down on power lines and trees. And now with more snow and ice expected, officials have urged people to take more precautions.

It will be snow on top of snow on Wednesday, making this coming storm such a concern for homeowners, especially if their roofs have flat areas where snow, ice and water can collect.

"A flat roof, I would make sure the gutters where the water is exiting are clear. Clear them off and pour some ice melt on them. The water is going to puddle on top of the roof. You have to make sure it's able to run off," said Richard Merrill of Foley Hardware, adding if not, there "might be a roof collapse."

Overall, though, the experts say it's probably too late to start worrying about gutters for the entire house. They told CBS 2's Lou Young on Tuesday you can clear up some ice jams if you can get to them easily, but the most effective prep work, like heated gutter cables, would have had to have been installed already.

The good news is that plumbing problems, like a recent broken pipe in Larchmont, are not expected to be part of our worries this time around. Temperatures are not expected to drop that dramatically, Young reported.

The real vulnerability may be in your yard. Expensive plants that are weighed down with snow could end up being crushed by a new layer of sleet and ice.

Trees already feeling the weight are expected to take the brunt of the damage on Wednesday.

"Now you're going to add ice and snow. The branch starts to bend eventually to buckle and fail," arborist Michael Almstead said. "We expect a very busy day, yeah."

And considering some of trees will likely take down already sagging power lines, the advice at the hardware store was prepare to spend some time in the dark.

"Think about the possibility of losing power. I would. I have generators and know they're ready to go if I lose power," said Joe Fransca, the manager at Foley's Hardware.

As CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported, the snow from the storm Monday already has been weighing down on power lines and trees. And now with more snow and ice expected, officials have urged people to take more precautions.

And those with generators need to be ready to fire them up.

"Don't wait until you lose power to run out and get the fuel for it," said Westchester County Health Department Assistant Commissioner Peter DeLucia. "Go out and get gasoline now when you can."

DeLucia said if the power goes out and you need to run your generator, think twice before turning it on.

"You do not want to run it indoors whatsoever. Don't run it in your garage or in breezeway," he said. "It needs to be a minimum of 15 feet away from your house and well positioned downwind."

And generators aren't the only things to worry about. Experts advise that you should:

• Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting to keep food colder and edible longer;

• Keep your refrigerator door shut tight to keep the cold air inside;

• Unplug all appliances so when the power comes back, a surge won't destroy them;

• Be careful how you light and heat your home.

Also, DeLucia emphasized, "Don't use your oven as a heat source. Ventilate, and use flashlights. You don't want to be putting candles all around your house because what'll happen -- an unattended flame, candle could melt down and cause a fire."

Power companies warned if the lights go out, you should have your flashlights and battery powered radios out and ready.

"As a matter of fact, I just got a couple of flashlights because my wife is panicking, but as a true New Yorker, I'll shrug it off and we'll get through it," said Dan Jackino of Pelham Manor.

"Batteries and water, that's it, that's all I can do," said Nicole Catalano of New Rochelle.

For most of us that means the kind of preparation we'd use for any storm -- batteries, flashlights, portable lights and plenty of ice melt.

The experts caution that getting up on a ladder in these conditions is probably not a good idea. If you can't get to trouble spots in gutters easily, it's suggested you should probably make a note to get ahead of the problem next year.

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