Vigilence, preparation key says EMS dir.

Wednesday night, a cluster of severe thunderstorms, possibly in the form of a squall line with damaging straight-line winds, could sweep through western Pennsylvania, according to the Weather Channel.

The National Weather Service is calling for a significant risk of strong storms containing damaging winds, hail and the possibility of a few tornadoes.

Accuweather is predicting a more southerly course for the storms, which will be riding along a line of humid warm air from the southwest, and the jet stream.

Todd Lake, director for the Warren County Department of Public Safety said, “The biggest thing people can do is be vigilant of storms and watch the forecasts. You should have a good flashlight and a good supply of water. Also, make sure your car is full of gas in case of an extended power outage when it might be difficult to find a gas station that can pump gas.”

He added that a generator can be very helpful, but a qualified electrician should hook up a whole-house generator. Portable generators can power a few appliances, but can be dangerous if improperly used. Jury-rigging a generator to household lines is illegal because it could backfeed electricity to utility lines and kill someone working on restoring power. Generators should never be used inside or enclosed spaces because they produce deadly carbon monoxide.

Lake noted that the Federal and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agencies (FEMA and PEMA) have websites ready.gov and readypa.org that have tips on emergency preparedness.