Campaign urges readiness for winter's trials
A local coalition is campaigning to persuade residents to become more prepared for storms — rain, wind, snow — and other extreme weather and natural events this fall and winter.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Wet-weather driving tips
• Check your brakes, window defogger, wipers, lights and tires.
• Give yourself extra time. Slow down and allow plenty of room between you and the next vehicle.
• Brake more gently and give yourself a longer stopping distance.
• Use your headlights any time conditions make it difficult to see people or other vehicles.
• Anticipate standing water, and streets made slick as engine oil and grease mix with rainfall early in a storm. Plan alternative routes around Seattle's hills.
• Be vigilant about other roadway users — especially pedestrians and bicyclists — during periods of low visibility.
• Don't blind other motorists by splashing standing water.
Source: Seattle Department of Transportation
Keep in your vehicle:
Bottled or stored water and high-protein, high-energy food; first-aid kit; blankets; flashlight and radio with batteries; basic sanitation supplies; warm clothing and sturdy shoes or boots; rain gear, hat and gloves.
Jumper cables; ice scraper and lock de-icer; flares; small tool kit; maps; shovel and sand.
Source: Seattle Office of Emergency Management
Dealing with outages at home
Before an outage:
• Keep a preparedness kit with light sticks, flashlights, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and a windup clock.
• Have a corded telephone available: Cordless phones will not work when the power is out.
• Have an alternative heat source and supply of fuel.
During an outage:
• Turn off lights and electrical appliances, except for the refrigerator and freezer. Even if it is dark, turn light switches and buttons on lamps or appliances to "off."
• Unplug computers to protect them from possible surges when the power is restored.
• Leave one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
• Conserve water, especially if you use well water.
• Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues or portable or propane heaters for indoor heating: They use oxygen and create carbon monoxide that can cause suffocation.
• Avoid using candles.
• Using a kerosene heater, gas lantern or stove inside the house can be dangerous. Maintain proper ventilation to avoid a buildup of toxic fumes.
Keep food safe:
• Eat foods first that can spoil quickest.
• Your refrigerator's freezer will keep food frozen for up to a day. A separate, fully loaded freezer will keep food frozen for two days.
• Use an ice chest packed with ice or snow to keep food cold. Buy dry ice to save frozen food. Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands.
Source: Seattle Office of Emergency Management
King County flood preparedness: www.kingcounty.gov/safety/FloodPlan.aspx
County's Green River page: www.kingcounty.gov/safety/FloodPlan/GreenRiverValley.aspx
Seattle's Green River page: www.seattle.gov/emergency/prepare/#greenriver
FEMA flood-protection tips: www.fema.gov/rebuild/mat/rfit.shtm
NOAA river forecast center: www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/
A day of record rainMeteorologist Carl Cerniglia of the National Weather Service said Seattle-Tacoma International Airport got 1.1 inches of rain on Saturday, a record for Oct. 17. The Sand Point station had a record for the day as well, 0.85 inches.
After last winter's massive snowfall paralyzed the city, we all should have learned the value of being more self-reliant.
With that in mind, a coalition is campaigning to persuade residents to become more prepared for storms — rain, wind, snow — and other extreme weather and natural events this fall and winter.
The partnership includes agencies within King County and Seattle governments, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and State Farm Insurance. The campaign is called Take Winter By Storm, and the partnership maintains a Web site, www.takewinterbystorm.org, that lists precautions to take, supplies to store and adjustments to keep in mind.
The campaign's catchphrase is, "We're ready. Are you?"
"We've been hit hard with wind- and snowstorms the past couple of years, and our agencies have put plans in place," said Scott Thomsen, a Seattle City Light spokesman. "But the public needs to know it has a role, too. Citizens should make plans to take care of themselves for three days in those extreme cases."
In the winter of 2006, vicious windstorms left many residents without power for a week. No Seattle resident will soon forget the frustration of last winter's prolonged snow-induced standstill. And King County is particularly concerned this year about how the Green River Valley will handle the threat of flooding.
Residents, businesses and farms below leaky Howard Hanson Dam in the Green River Valley have been warned about higher flood risk when heavy and prolonged rain occurs from now until about spring. Authorities warn that evacuations in some communities may be necessary, key transportation routes and transit service could be disrupted, and power outages and sewage backups could occur even outside the immediate flood zone.
Three years ago, Cornell Amaya, strategic adviser in external communications at Seattle Public Utilities, led an effort to focus energy and resources of the various groups on helping businesses and residents to get prepared. The group sought regional partners, from utilities to businesses, and its budget has tripled since.
Former KIRO-TV chief meteorologist Andy Wappler, now manager of corporate communications for PSE, appears in the television, radio and Web spots for the Take Winter by Storm campaign.
"In following Puget Sound weather patterns for 15 years I can tell you storms are always a 'surprise,' " he said. "And in that time, I think I learned as much about psychology as meteorology. It's hard to gear up for winter when the beautiful, sunny October days were just here, but then all of a sudden here came the weather, the winds and rain."
A recent survey found that only 38 percent of respondents believed they were more prepared than the previous winter.
Five percent of those respondents didn't know that using charcoal or gas grills indoors can cause carbon-monoxide poisoning. About 14 percent said they seldom avoid driving through standing water. And 38 percent seldom rake leaves and debris away from storm drains near their home when it rains.
The coalition hopes to spread information about small steps that could go a long way.
One of the early TV spots features Wappler raking leaves off a storm-drain grate and encouraging residents to do the same. A combination of rain, wind and falling leaves creates an opportunity for flooding as storm drains get clogged and impede runoff.
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) promotes an "adopt a drain" program. Volunteers are asked to help remove dirt, silt and debris from the top of the drains.
Residents can pick up free cleanup supplies at SPU's warehouse at 3633 E. Marginal Way S. from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 24 and 31, and at Seattle Municipal Tower on Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle on Oct. 28 and 29. For more information, call 206-233-7187 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Seven: 206-464-2241 or email@example.com
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