SEATTLE, Wash. -- The National Weather Service has reported record rainfall in Portland and has issued flood watches for western Washington counties. Current projections include snow in higher elevations, switching to rain over the weekend that could well soak inland communities, and according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, emergency managers across the region are carefully monitoring weather effects.
“Our state and local governments have done solid work preparing for this year’s winter storms, updating their websites and working closely with radio, television, and print media to inform and advise the public,” said Murphy. “I urge our citizenry to heed winter warnings from local emergency managers, and to exercise extreme caution when utilizing alternative sources of heat, power and transportation.”
In commending residents to review and update emergency plans and inventory and replenish disaster kits, Murphy stressed that emergency power needs can rank right up there with food, water, first aid kits and shelter.
If the power goes out:
- Don’t call 9-1-1 for information—use your battery-powered radio for emergency bulletins.
- Plan on cell phones or corded phones for emergency calls. Cordless phones require electricity.
- Turn off major appliances to protect against surges when the power resumes.
- Turn off all lights but one (to alert you when the power comes back on).
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to prevent food spoilage.
- Be particularly careful with generators, and never operate them indoors.
- Flashlights and electric lanterns are safer than candles.
“We’re all vulnerable if disaster strikes while we are driving, and emergency kits in every car and truck can be real life savers,” continued Murphy. “Disaster driving is one part preparedness, one part common sense, and one-part learning from experience. Avoid driving in severe winter storms or heavy rains, and keep vehicle fuel tanks full, just in case.”
When driving in dangerous weather is unavoidable, Murphy offers the following safety tips:
- If caught in a storm or blizzard, and your car is immobilized, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk from the car unless you can see a definite safe haven at a reasonable distance. Turn on the auto engine for brief periods to provide heat, but always leave a down-wind window open slightly to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning (make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow). Leave the dome light on at night to signal rescuers, and exercise occasionally by clapping hands or moving around.
- Never attempt to drive through water on a road. Water can be deeper than it appears and water levels can rise quickly. Cars buoyed by flood-waters can float out of control. Wade through flood waters only if the water is not flowing rapidly and only in water no higher than the knees. If the car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground (flood waters may still be rising and the car could be swept away.
- Auto emergency kits should contain as a minimum: blankets and warm clothing, booster cables and tools, bottled water, emergency rations, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, traction mats or chains, a shovel, and emergency prescription medications.