by Devin Chicras
With plenty of winter weather on the way, let’s take a look at all the ways you can conquer anything the cold, snow, or ice can throw at us – from checklists and handy contacts to add to your phone to automatic alerts and more. How many of these tips did you already know about?
Here’s what King County Emergency Management says:
How to Prepare:
- Store extra fuel and emergency supplies to survive several days without electricity, heat, and hot water. Consider purchasing a generator and strictly adhere to safety standards.
- Know safe alternate travel routes to/from your home, work, and school in case roads are closed.
- Learn the signs of hypothermia – a common problem during freezing temperatures – and how to treat it. Young children and older adults are especially vulnerable. To prevent hypothermia:
- Wear warm, multi-layered clothing, hats, gloves, and footwear.
- Change into dry clothes whenever clothing becomes wet.
- Limit your exposure to freezing temperatures.
- Protect your pets. If you cannot bring them indoors, provide warm and dry shelter with access to unfrozen water.
- Winterize your home. Install storm windows. Insulate walls, attics, and pipes. Apply caulk and weather-stripping to doors and windows. Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to keep pipes from freezing. Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Winterize your vehicles. Keep them in good repair and fuel tanks at least half full. Have the battery, ignition system, radiator, lights, brakes, and tires checked. Fill reservoirs for antifreeze, oil, and window washer fluids. Keep winter weather emergency supplies in your trunk.
What to do during a winter storm:
- Stay informed. Monitor local news and information on your TV, mobile device, or battery-operated radio. Follow emergency instructions.
- Stay indoors, if possible. If you go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing and avoid exertion. Cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Perform hard work, such as shoveling, slowly.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and get medical help immediately. Symptoms include:
- Uncontrolled shivering.
- Slow or unclear speech.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Stumbling, confusion, semi-consciousness, or unconsciousness.
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas, especially fallen power lines and flooded roadways. When outside, be aware of tree limbs or structures that may fall due to heavy snow or ice accumulation.
- Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by appliances that malfunction or are used improperly.
- Check on neighbors; especially anyone who might need extra help.
- Avoid travel, if possible. If you must drive, fill your fuel tank beforehand, stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule and route. Pay attention to any travel advisories and do not drive in low visibility conditions. Slow down to avoid traffic accidents.
- If you become stranded, call for help, set your vehicle’s hazard lights to flashing, and remain with your vehicle. Don’t set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can get help or take shelter.
Local, state, and federal resources:
- Take Winter By Storm – King County and City of Seattle
- Winter Storms and Extreme Cold – Ready.gov
- Prepare for a Winter Storm guide – FEMA
- Winter Storm Preparedness – American Red Cross
- Winter Driving Tips – Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
- Winter Weather Safety and Awareness – National Weather Service
- Extreme Cold: Prevention Guide – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Translated Emergency Preparedness Resources from the Washington State Department of Health are available in Español (Spanish), 中文 (Chinese), 한국의 (Korean), Русский (Russian), Soomaali (Somali), Українська (Ukrainian), Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese), and large type (English)
- 24/7 Road Helpline: 1-800-KC-ROADS – Call us for help with road maintenance and traffic safety issues in unincorporated King County, such as downed stop signs, signals that are out, or trees over the roadway — 24 hours a day
- King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) 24-hour non-emergency service: 206-296-3311 (if you need immediate help from the police, medics or fire department always call 9-1-1)
- Is the library open? Check updated location hours on the KCLS website
- Snow routes map – King County Roads (newly expanded for 2020!)
- Need shelter? From 8am-6pm Monday through Friday, King County 2-1-1 connects people to the help they need.
- KC 2-1-1 now has texting – text your zip code to 877-211-9274
- Families experiencing homelessness can call the King County Emergency Family Shelter line at any time to find family-friendly shelters with availability: 206-245-1026
- List of local shelters
- Severe Weather Shelter at Renton Human Services Division – Old Chamber of Commerce (300 Rainier Ave N, Renton, 425-430-6600) will be open 8pm-7am on Monday 1/13 and Tuesday 1/14, and when temperatures are forecasted to be below 32 degrees or when severe storms are predicted. Shelter will accept men, women, and families.
Real-time information and alerts
- Sign up for ALERT King County to stay informed about potential hazards and threats that impact your area
- Will Lakeridge Elementary, Bryn Mawr Elementary, Campbell Hill Elementary, Dimmitt Middle School, Talley High School, or Renton High School have a snow day or delay? Subscribe to school closure alerts for Renton School District
- Track where snowplows are working in realtime
- Use the bus to commute? Sign up for Metro Transit Alerts
- View Metro Transit Winter Snow Guide
- Will garbage, recycling, or yard waste be picked up in Skyway, Lakeridge, Bryn Mawr, or your neighborhood on your scheduled service day? Check Waste Management’s Service Alerts for pickup disruptions
- Lights go out? Check power outage updates on Seattle City Light’s Outage Map
- Sign up for King County Road Alerts
- Visit King County My Commute
- Visit Eye on Your Metro Commute
- Follow King County on Twitter: @KingCountyWA, @kcmetrobus, and @kcroads
- Follow King County Fire District 20 on Facebook and Twitter
- Monitor the latest weather forecasts from the National Weather Service
And don’t forget:
Connect with us and let us know if we missed any resources you find exceptionally valuable for winter weather preparedness, or maybe just share that really neat snowman you made in your backyard.
If you found this round-up of critically important tips curated especially for our neighbors in unincorporated West Hill (Skyway, Lakeridge, Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill, et al) helpful, consider joining us as a monthly donor – even $5/month goes a long way for our lean all-volunteer nonprofit, and we appreciate every single one of you.