Winter Weather – Personal Preparedness

Image courtesy of the Seattle Fire Department

According to the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, snow and ice are identified as Seattle’s second top hazards. We know winter weather in Western Washington can be unpredictable. In December 2021, 4”-9” inches of snow fell in the Seattle Metro area followed by several consecutive days of low temps. This caused dangerous road conditions, delays to or cancellation of services, downed powerlines, business closures and more.

We also experienced many days of subsequent heavy rain resulting in urban flooding and landslides. Read about Seattle Fire Departments’ response to the Jan. 7, 2022 landslide in Magnolia: https://fireline.seattle.gov/2022/01/07/landslide-in-magnolia-neighborhood/.

Early Preparation is Key!

Image courtesy of the Seattle OEM

It is important to start to prepare for winter weather well in advance to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Here are some basic emergency preparedness tips to keep in mind:

Pet Safety (tips from King County)

Image courtesy of the Seattle Fire Department
  • During cold, wet weather, keep pets inside or limit the time that pets stay outside.
  • Provide outdoor pets with a dry, warm, secure shelter out of the wind such as a garage or insulated pet house. Even dogs that normally spend most of their time outside need good shelter in cold weather, even if it is only a garage.
  • Cats and kittens often nap on warm car engines and hoods. Knock on the hood or honk the car horn before starting the engine.
  • Always have fresh, clean, unfrozen water available for pets.
  • Do not leave your pet alone in a car. It gets too cold and carbon monoxide from a running engine is dangerous.

More tips from Seattle Animal Shelter: https://thescoop.seattle.gov/2021/12/16/cold-weather-alert/

Getting Around in Snow and Ice

If you are not able to stay home and off the roads, consider these tips for increasing your safety.

Public Transportation:

If you rely on public transportation to get around the city, it is important to plan for alternative routes and other transportation options during snow and icy weather. Winter weather can cause public transportation delays or cancellations. King County Metro keeps you up to date through their transit alerts: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/alerts-updates.aspx

Driving and Road Safety:

  • Drive for the conditions. Assume roads are icy and take extra precaution. Leave space between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Keep your fuel tank more than half-full.`
  • Pack an emergency “go kit” in case you become stuck in your car.
  • Keep an ice scraper/brush and small snow shovel in your vehicle.
  • Roof tiles, sand or kitty litter can give your tires traction in icy conditions.
  • Tire cables, chains and four-wheel drive are recommended for traveling in the snow.

Watch for downed power lines:

Calls to 911 about downed power lines increase during snow and windstorms. If you see one, follow these safety tips.

The following agencies will provide essential information and service updates during winter weather: