The following information was compiled by the King County and Seattle Department of Public Health:
The National Weather Service is reporting that we could be in for the coldest 3 days in a row since 1998. This is a good time to remind clients and community members how to stay safe in cold weather.
Many refugee and immigrant communities may be less familiar with staying safe in cold weather (i.e. snow safety, fall prevention and preparedness information). Please refer to the information on the ECHO website, which includes audio, video, and written translations in multiple languages that can be referenced and shared with staff and clients.
King County officials said in a statement: “This winter will bring new challenges for transportation to unincorporated King County. In a countywide snow and ice event this winter, fewer roads will be plowed than in past seasons. County leaders are working to find temporary measures to get us through this winter, but residents should still be preparing in case communities become snowbound or disconnected from the road network.”
Know the outside conditions
The weather may affect your ability to leave your home or others’ ability to safely get to your home. Know where to get current local information on weather, road conditions, public facility closures, public and para-transit changes, changes in snow routes.
· The National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov/
· Metro alerts online: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/alerts/adverse-weather.html
· Sign up for Metro email and/or text alerts: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/signup/
Prepare to stay in your home for long periods of time (7-10 days).
If you are advised to stay indoors, do not leave your home unless absolutely necessary or in the event of an emergency. Stock up on emergency supplies, know and activate your emergency plan, and prepare your home for winter weather.
Stock up on supplies
· Stay healthy: Nutritious, higher calorie meals, water, non-perishable food, can opener, formula for infants, medication supply, personal hygiene items, and first aid kit. Don’t forget food and items for pets and service animals.
· Keep warm: Blankets, coats, hats, snow boots, gloves, wool socks, and scarves (remember extra blankets for service animals or pets)
· Stay informed: Radio, extra batteries, extra chargers and/or low-tech backups of any devices that you rely on that require electricity.
· Stay safe: A snow shovel, table salt or cat litter to clear walkways and ramps of snow and ice (rock salt can harm service animals and pets). Also have a good source of light such as battery flashlights and light sticks. Avoid candles.
· Be ready: Print or write your updated list of emergency support contacts and medical information including medications and doctors’ contact information.
Have an emergency plan
· Be ready to help each other. Check in with emergency support contacts (neighbors, caregivers, family, friends, and personal assistance providers) before bad weather happens. If severe weather is expected, should someone stay the night?
· If power outages occur, find places where you can go to get warm. Friends and family may have power and warm homes you can visit.
· If you have clients who are living as homeless, updated severe weather shelter locations will be posted here.
· If you rely on electricity powered devices to stay healthy and independent, sign up for the priority power list with your power company. If you rely on oxygen, talk to your vendor about emergency replacements. If you rely on dialysis or other types of specialized medical treatments, talk to your health provider about what to do in the event of severe winter weather.
· If it is necessary to go outside, be prepared. If conditions are too cold or unsafe, do not go out. Instead, seek shelter with friends, family members, or at a community shelter. However, if you do need to go outside, here are some safety tips!
· Wear several loose, warm layers to keep in body heat. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and natural wool, if possible.
· Wear a hat. More than half of body heat is lost through the top of the head.
· Wear mittens that are snug at the wrist. Mittens offer better protection than gloves which allow your fingers to cool much faster.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to help protect lungs from cold air.
· Keep yourself and your clothes dry. Change wet socks and all other wet clothing as quickly as possible to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses its insulation value and transmits heat rapidly.
· Wear good shoes/boots to avoid falls.
· Pack a light weight travel bag unique to your individual needs and that you are able to carry: Include items such as a water, nonperishable high caloric snacks, medications, and emergency contacts.
· Traveling through snow can be very strenuous and cold can put extra stress on the heart and respiratory systems. Avoid overexertion by limiting or omitting activities like shoveling or traveling through snow.
· Watch yourself and others for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and take appropriate action. If you suspect that someone is suffering from hypothermia, wrap them in a blanket and call 911 immediately.
· Wipe down assistive devices when returning home to avoid rust.
· Freezing rain and snow can stick to adaptive equipment (canes, walker, wheelchairs, scooters). Wear gloves to provide better grip on devices.