OK, the snow never really gets this bad in Seattle, but with some frequency–at least every other year–we have enough to make travel hazardous, close schools, and threaten the health of those who live outside or need access to services. It pays to be prepared for the worst of the winter so you aren’t caught by surprise.
- Be prepared for power outages. Snow and, in particular, ice can bring down power lines. If you rely on electricity for heat or other essential services, you should have a plan to go without it or have another power source, such as a generator.
- In very cold weather the residual heat in your home can dissipate very quickly. Make sure your house in adequately insulated, that you have caulked or put weather-stripping on leaky doors or windows. If you do not have double-pane windows, consider putting up temporary plastic sheeting on the inside of your windows.
- Check on loved ones and neighbors to make sure they are safe and warm. Get to know your neighbors and in particular identify those who may be vulnerable in a winter emergency, especially the elderly.
- Make sure you are fit to shovel snow if you choose to do so. Many people every year die from heart attacks after shoveling snow. If uncertain, arrange in advance for a neighbor or a paid service to clear your walks. But it’s also important to remember that city ordinance requires that walks are cleared as soon as feasible. All sidewalks adjacent to your property are your responsibility to have cleared.
- Be prepared for winter weather by creating an emergency supply kit that includes jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks.
- Consider investing in a hand crank radio that can provide you with updates and also serve as a cell phone changer and flashlight. Most can operate with batteries or, if they run out, by cranking the dynamo to recharge.
- Drinking water may be an issue if the freeze lasts for long enough or is severe enough to burst pipes. Keep a supply of water on hand.
- See the Helpful Apps page to download apps that will be useful in a winter emergency.