-If you can, see what car maintenance you can do.
-Try to put together a winter weather kit for your car in case you do get stuck and/or stranded in the bad weather. At the very least, try to put extra clothes (gloves, extra socks, extra shirt layers, etc. and bring that heavy coat you never bother to wear with you) and blankets in the car.
-Keep your cell phone charged at all times so if you get into an accident or stuck alongside the road, you have a better chance of being able to call for help.
-Before leaving the house, check the weather forecast and road condition reports.
-Let someone know where you are going, what route you are taking, and when you expect to arrive and return.
-Give your car extra time to warm up.
-Drive slowly. The posted speed limit is for good weather conditions, poor weather conditions require slower speeds. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. It is more important for you to arrive at your destination than it is for you to arrive there quickly!
-Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Cars react differently on the slick roads.
-Increase the distance between you and the car ahead of you. It gives you more time to stop and more time react if something happens!
-If you become stranded, put something brightly colored on the antenna to help other drivers see you. Only go for help if they are within 100 yards. Make sure that the exhaust pipe is not covered. Only run your engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour.
-Wear multiple loose, light layers. Wear gloves, hats and scarves. Wear water resistant boots and coats.
-Walk slowly outside. You can also scatter kitty litter on pathways to help keep you from slipping.
-Stock up on necessary supplies to limit how often you need to go out on the roads. Extreme winter weather can also knock out the power so make sure that you have supplies on hand in case of that scenario as well.
-Check on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors.
-Bring pets inside. If you cannot bring them in, make sure that they have fresh, unfrozen water and some place warm and dry to go.
-To help keep pipes from freezing, turn water on a trickle and leave it running. Keep cupboard doors open to let the warmer house air circulate around the pipes (but be sure and move any household cleaners that children might get into!).
-Stoves, ovens, grills, camper stoves, and generators are not for heating houses. It is incredible dangerous to try to use any of these indoors for prolonged periods. They lead to a build up in carbon monoxide and they will kill you.
-Keep anything flammable three feet away from fire places, space heaters, etc. Turn them off or put them out before you leave or go to bed.
With lots of snow and ice, people also need to be on the look out for downed wires and trees, as well as street signs, utility poles, and cars possibly involved in accidents. If you see downed utility poles and/or wires or down trees that have become a hazard, call 9-1-1. Be careful driving and be aware in your homes and places of work.
If you see a downed wire, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Not with your hands or anything else. Just assume that it is still live and call 9-1-1 and stay away from it. If a wire falls on your car while you are inside it, STAY INSIDE THE CAR. Call 9-1-1 and wait for help to arrive. We will help you safely get out of your vehicle.
Between the winter weather itself and all of the accidents and downed poles, wires, and trees it causes, there is also a risk of power outages. Sometimes that will mean a little bit of flickering lights and sometimes that will mean a full power outage. Outages can last from a few minutes to even a few days depending on the exact cause and the extent of the damage both locally and in the greater area for larger and more severe storms.
In order to be prepared for a power outage, make sure that your family has extra batteries and flashlights, candles are not recommended during severe weather due to fire hazard. Make sure that you have fresh water and food that does not need to be kept cold or need to be heated in order to eat. A battery operated radio tuned to a local station with news and weather updates can let you know if you need to evacuate your home or the area for any reason. Also make sure that you have plenty of blankets ready to go. DO NOT USE OUTDOOR PROPANE GRILLS/HEATERS INSIDE THE HOME. A spark could set them off or you could pass out and eventually die in your sleep from the fumes. Please find other ways of getting and staying warm.
Maintaining communication is key even when the power is out – here are some tips to help keep your cell phone up and running even after the power is out. Another option for some would be to use a car charger. Be careful not to kill your car battery though! Always unplug your car charger when you are not actively charging your phone. If you are able, limit the time you charge your phone to the time you are on the road anyway.
If your power has been out for more than a few minutes, you might want to report the outage to the power company just to make sure they are aware of the problem. Depending on what has caused the outage, they may not have been alerted yet or they may not realize the extent of the problem. Below is the contact information for Falls City and some of our neighboring communities.
Pacific Power allows you to report outages and receive updates online and over the phone.
-To report an outage online, go here.
-To report an outage over the phone, call 1-877-508-5088.
-To check on outage locations, go here.
Portland General Electric (PGE) makes it easy to report an outage and get updates! You can report online, via a phone call, or even through text!
-To report online, go here.
-To report an outage by phone, call 1-800-544-1795.
-To enroll your cell phone to be eligible for reporting and updates via text, go here.
-To see the outage map, go here.
Make sure you take down the information before you need it! My favorite is to take a screencap and keep it in an emergency folder on my laptop since I always keep it fully charged and at the ready but good old pen and paper works well too!