NEWS: Red Cross will keep shelters open until power restored


WPRO Newsroom

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders spent time in shelters across the state after Friday's severe winter storm.

According to the Red Cross, more than 140 people spent Sunday night in the five Red Cross shelters throughout Rhode Island.

Paul Shipman, spokesman for the American Red Cross, said shelters will remain open until power is restored and people can return home. 

“Locations may change as needs evolve," he said in a statement. "Call 211 for latest shelter information.”

The Red Cross is also urging people to use caution when traveling today, as light rain and ice may contribute to dangerous roadway conditions.

For those working on clean-up efforts at their homes, Red Cross offered these safety tips:

  • If shoveling, consider your physical condition, the weather and the nature of the task. Get help from a neighbor or friend and take frequent breaks and stay hydrated while working to avoid overexertion.
  • When outdoors, protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Avoid prolonged time outdoors in very cold or windy conditions.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Also seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of frostbite: these include numbness; flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration; and waxy-feeling skin.

If you are using a snow blower to clear your property, the Red Cross reminds residents that snow blowers are powerful tools and dangerous if used improperly. Remember to always shut down the snow blower if it becomes jammed and NEVER use your hands to clear the chute or the augers; use a broom or shovel handle instead.

Use caution due to high snow banks and reduced visibility. Be aware of traffic as you clear driveways near the street. If you are walking, be sure to pay attention to drivers that may have less time to spot you and may not be able to stop or avoid you as easily due to slippery roads as you walk around snow banks.

Reduce the risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Clear vents and intakes of combustion equipment that vents outside, such as furnaces, gas fireplaces or dryers and other similar equipment that might be blocked by drifting snow. Blocked vents can lead to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning, which is deadly. Be sure your vehicle’s exhaust pipe and radiator grilles are clear if running your vehicle while clearing the driveway. If running a generator, never operate it in your home, basement or garage, even with doors and windows open. Operate generators in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and with local electrical codes.

Other power outage safety tips from the Red Cross:

  • Running water from a faucet at a slight trickle can help prevent frozen pipes in a cold house.
  • Use flashlights or battery powered lanterns to light your way; candles are a fire hazard.

For those traveling on the roads, conditions may still be difficult in places; the Red Cross also offers reminders for safe travel:

  • If you are planning to travel, let someone know your destination and when you plan to arrive.
  • Carry a cell phone and phone charger.
  • Keep your gas tank filled to avoid development of condensation in cold weather and to offer a measure of safety if you are stranded.
  • If you become stranded, try to call for help and remain with your vehicle. It is safer to wait for help than to attempt to find it, especially in poor weather or at night.
  • If stranded, tie a piece of brightly colored fabric to your antenna or a door handle; run your vehicle’s engine 10 minutes every hour to provide heat, keep a window slightly open to allow fresh air in the vehicle; and keep moving legs and arms to stay warm.

Keep a Winter Travel Kit in your vehicle, including:

·         Snow brush

·         Battery-powered radio and extra batteries

·         Flashlight and extra batteries

·         Blankets or sleeping bags

·         Booster cables

·         Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)

·         First aid kit and manual

·         Bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods, such as nutrition bars, raisins and peanut butter

·         Shovel 

·         Flares

·         Extra clothing to keep dry

·         Sack of sand or cat litter (to use for tire traction)

Visit for more information on preparing for cold weather and other emergencies.