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People with Special Healthcare Needs and all Rhode Islanders Urged to Prepare for and Stay Healthy During Winter Storm

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) urges anyone with a special healthcare need to enroll in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER) in advance of the coming winter storm.

Enrolling in RISNER does not guarantee assistance, but it does allow local and state emergency officials to plan for, respond to, and care for Rhode Islanders with disabilities, chronic conditions, and other special healthcare needs in an emergency, such as large winter storms and hurricanes.

People who use life-sustaining equipment that need electricity should contact their electricity provider and inform them of their specific needs, if they haven't already done so.

Who should enroll? Any Rhode Islander, regardless of age, who has a chronic condition, disability, special healthcare need, or may require additional assistance during an emergency. Specific examples of people who should enroll include: • People on home oxygen, a respirator, ventilator, dialysis, pacemaker, or who are insulin dependent; • People with mobility issues (e.g., use a wheelchair, walker, or cane); • People who are visually impaired, blind, hard of hearing, or Deaf; • People who use assistive animals or prosthesis. How to enroll? Visit to enroll online. A printable form is also available on the website and can be submitted by mail. People who do not have access to computers can call 2-1-1 and a United Way representative will assist with enrollment. (Individuals can also enroll in Spanish.)

If someone cannot complete the enrollment form for him or herself, a family member or caregiver can enroll that individual. Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times and only emergency management and response agencies have access to the information in RISNER.

Additionally, all Rhode Islanders are urged to take specific steps to stay healthy and safe during the winter storm:

Snow Shoveling • Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow. • Take it slow - pace yourself and take breaks. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest. • Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel. • Push the snow as you shovel—it is easier on your back. • Protect your back. Bend from the knees, and lift with your legs bent. Stand with your feet about hip width apart for good balance, and keep the shovel close to your body. • Drink plenty of water. • Dress warmly, and dress in several layers so you can remove a layer if needed. Extreme Cold • The elderly are especially susceptible to extremely cold temperatures. Check on elderly friends, family, or neighbors frequently. • Dress warmly, even if you are just making a short trip to the mailbox. If you fall or a door locks behind you, you could be exposed for a longer period of time than you planned. • Dress warmly even when you are inside—especially if you do not move a lot. • Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia. Power outages • If the power goes out, you can store food outside safely when the outside temperature is below 45°F. Place your food in a shady spot away from direct sunlight and in a container. • Never use a gas range or oven to heat your house and do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside your house. • If you need to use a generator, make sure it is properly installed and vented.

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