News for Constituents

Pennsylvania Christmas Trees

The storied history of Pennsylvania Christmas trees finds them gracing the halls of the White House, including the 2019 Blue Room, towering over the Rockefeller Center skating rink, and adorning our grandmothers’ homes for more than a century.

Whether purchasing and preparing for your first or fiftieth Christmas tree, take note of a few healthy tree tips.  Inspect for hitchhikers, including mantises, gypsy moths, and the spotted lanternfly.

The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association interactive map and directory can help you find a convenient vendor and the Selection Guide can help you find your perfect tree.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, with more than 1,400 tree farms and nearly 31,000 acres of trees, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for Christmas tree production.

VisitPA for the Holidays and Beyond

Pennsylvania has lots to offer during the winter months and especially during the holiday season.

Bethlehem, known as Christmas City, is home to Christkindlmarkt, an open-air market recognized by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the top holiday markets in the world.  Christkindlmarkt features more than 100 artisans and is open from mid-November until the weekend before Christmas.  Once all your is shopping is done, take a break and visit one of more than a dozen dazzling holiday light displays throughout the state.

And, after all the holiday activities are complete, Pennsylvania’s state parks and state forests offer numerous winter activities for the outdoor enthusiast to fill the winter months, such as snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating.

Flu Season Precautions

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is encouraging those who have not gotten a flu vaccine yet this year to do so.  With the upcoming holiday gatherings many will be attending, it is important to get a flu vaccine to be protected throughout the flu season.  As of November 30, there were 2,667 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu and five deaths statewide.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated and taking specific preventive actions:

Wash your hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw away used tissues. Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. 
  • Keep hands away from your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Disinfect frequently-used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes, and countertops.
  • Avoid personal contact with those experiencing symptoms of the flu.
  • Remain at home until at least 24 hours after your fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Flu symptoms come on quickly and may include a fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.  Populations at particular risk include the very young, older Pennsylvanians, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.

Shoveling Tips for Your Driveway and Mailbox

In addition to providing important information about winter driving preparation and precautions, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is reminding residents about effective shoveling tips to remove snow and ice from driveways and mailboxes which will keep these areas clear following the passage of the plow trucks.

Snow should be shoveled or plowed to the right side of the driveway as you are facing the intersecting roadway.  By piling the snow away from the oncoming direction of the snow plows, the snow will not be pushed back onto the driveway.  However, do not push snow onto roadways at any time, this creates a hazardous condition for all vehicles.

Before undertaking any snow removal activity, review these shoveling safety tips.

Energy Efficiency Program Rebates

If your appliances are beginning to let you down just as the holidays approach, consider giving yourself an Energy Star rated gift eligible for a rebate.  Many electric distribution companies will also recycle your old appliances free of charge.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission highlights Residential Electric Energy Efficiency Measures including rebates available through your electric distribution company for the purchase of energy efficient appliances.  Choose from among those considered the most energy efficient appliances for 2019.

Increase your savings with qualifying replacement windows, home insulation, duct sealing, HVAC, computer monitors, televisions, pool pumps and so much more.  Energy savings are achievable with a few simple changes, including your choice of light bulbs and smart thermostats.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Homes with wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired fireplaces, appliances, grills, generators, and motor vehicles are susceptible to the release of deadly carbon monoxide as a result of the incomplete burning of combustible materials, according to the Pennsylvania Office of State Fire Commissioner (PAOSFC).

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, often mistaken for the flu, include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, and death, if undetected.  On average, carbon monoxide poisoning claimed the lives of 73 Pennsylvanians annually between 2009 and 2013.

The PAOSFC recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors and changing the batteries in the fall and spring when resetting your clocks and replacing smoke alarm batteries.

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