How to stay safe and warm during cold weather

With temperatures dropping and a forecast for continued cold weather in the region, county officials are urging residents to prepare their families, pets, homes and vehicles for the ongoing freezing conditions.

There are practical steps everyone can take to stay safe and warm during winter weather, officials say.

“Personal preparedness is important year round, but especially during storm season,” stated Robin Friedman, Director of King County Emergency Management. He practices what he preaches. “I carry warm clothing and extra blankets in the trunk of my vehicle for road side emergencies and have a 3-day emergency supply kit at home for my family. I encourage others to do the same.”

Here are some simple steps to prepare for cold weather conditions:

Keep cold weather clothing in your vehicle for road emergencies and extra blankets in your car and home for staying warm.

Fill your car’s gas tank and keep it at least half full at all times to avoid running out of gas due to unexpected weather-related traffic conditions.

When going outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear a warm, woolen cap.

Wrap or insulate pipes and outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing.

Assemble an emergency supply kit for your home, car and work or school, with water and non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, first aid and hygiene supplies. Don’t forget about your pet’s needs too.

King County Animal Care and Control would like to remind pet owners to check outdoor water bowls, because they may freeze and prevent pets from having drinkable water. Sheltering pets from wind and moisture is very important. Wind chill affects pets just like people, animal control officials say. Very young and older pets are most susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. When the temperature drops, make sure pets can go to a warm space, out of the elements.

Public Health reminds residents to never use a gas or charcoal grill, hibachi or portable propane heater to cook indoors or heat a home. They can cause carbon monoxide poisoning that can be fatal. Keep portable heaters away from furniture, draperies and other flammable materials to prevent a fire.

If residents are able, they are advised to check in on vulnerable family members or elderly relatives and friends to make sure they are warm and safe.

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