Winter storms can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, sleet, heavy snowfall, ice, and high winds. These storms can cause transportation, heat, power, and communication disruptions. They also can close schools, stores, and workplaces.
The Puget Sound Region typically enjoys mild weather and winters are getting warmer and shorter because of climate change. But, because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, heavier snowfalls are more likely to occur.
We can take action to prepare. Prepare now to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home. Winter weather preparedness consists of three simple steps.
1) Build a kit. Create an emergency preparedness kit with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for your home and office. Kits prepared for vehicle road travel and winter weather evacuation go-kits are also advised.
2) Make a plan and practice the plan with your family and those who depend on you.
3) Stay informed and know the weather approaching so you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way. Knowing winter weather hazards and where to find resources to prepare is vital to protecting your property and those you love.
Winter Storm Glossary
· WIND CHILL Temperature: How cold people and animals feel when outside. As wind increases, heat is carried away from your body at a faster rate, driving down your body temperature and making you feel much colder. The wind chill temperature is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin.
· Winter Storm OUTLOOK: Winter storm conditions possible in the next two to five days. Stay tuned to local media for updates.
· Winter Storm WATCH: Winter storm conditions possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. Review your winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
· Winter Weather ADVISORY: Winter weather conditions expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous but not life-threatening if you are cautious.
Take immediate precautions if you hear these words on the news:
· Winter Storm WARNING: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.
· Blizzard WARNING: Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.
What Should You Do Before a Winter Storm?
Gather Emergency Supplies
Gather food, water, and medicine before a winter storm. Stores might be closed, and it may be unsafe to travel.
Organize supplies into a Go-Kit and a Stay-at-Home Kit.
Go-Kit: at least three days of supplies you can carry with you if you need to go somewhere else to stay warm. Include critical backup batteries and chargers for your devices (cell phone, CPAP, wheelchair, etc.)
Stay-at-Home Kit: at least two weeks of supplies.
Ensure you have enough warm clothing, such as hats, mittens, and blankets, for everyone in your household.
You may lose access to drinking water. Set aside at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day.
Consider having emergency supplies in your vehicle, such as a blanket, warm clothing, a first aid kit, and boots.
Have a 1-month supply of needed medications and medical supplies. Consider keeping a list of your medications and dosages on a small card to carry with you.
Keep personal, financial, and medical records safe and easy to access (hard copies or securely backed up).
Have a snow shovel and ice-melting products to keep your walkways safe.
Plan to Stay Warm
Stay warm indoors to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
Before the winter season begins, make sure you can heat your home safely. Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping.
Consider using an indoor thermometer or thermostat to monitor the temperature inside.
Plan to check on loved ones and neighbors to make sure they are staying warm. This is especially important for older adults and babies.
Drink plenty of warm fluids but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Avoid travel if you can.
If you must go outside, plan to dress properly. Keep your nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes covered in warm, dry clothing. These areas are the first to be at risk for frostbite.
Wear layers of loose clothing, a coat, hat, mittens, and water-resistant boots. Use a scarf to cover your face and mouth.
Know where you will go if your home becomes too cold. You could go to a friend’s house, a public library, or a warming center.
Plan to Stay Connected
Sign up for free emergency alerts from your local government.
Plan to monitor local weather and news.
Have a backup battery or a way to charge your cell phone.
Have a battery-powered radio to use during a power outage.
Understand the alerts you may receive:
A WATCH means Be Prepared!
A WARNING means Take Action!
Create a support team to help everyone stay safe in a disaster. Plan how you can help each other.
credit: redcross.org , takewinterbystorm.org, ready.gov