State warns about coming cold weather, snow

Winter storms are projected to move into the Pacific Northwest over the next seven to 10 days, bringing freezing temperatures, mountain and valley snow, and gusty winds. The Office of Emergency Management is urging Oregonians to reduce their risk by taking preparedness actions and following safety best practices — staying informed, being aware of surroundings, and being ready with a plan and emergency kit.

“Our state has already experienced a number of weather-related emergencies this year, emphasizing the importance of taking action now to be prepared for what’s next,” said OEM Deputy Director Matt Marheine. “Winter storms mean increased risk for those traveling as well as those staying home for the holiday. It’s critical all Oregonians are empowered to do their part for themselves, their family and their community to stay safe.”

Extremely cold temperatures are predicted for next week. OEM is highlighting the need to check in on family, friends, neighbors and vulnerable populations, especially if the power goes out or roads turn icy. Oregonians should know where to call for help and save 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.

For non-emergency assistance, dial *677 from a mobile phone or call 800-442-0776 in the state’s northern counties and 800-442-2068 in southern counties. If you are unsure what Oregon State Police dispatch to dial, call either one and they will assist.
Dial or text 211 – or visit 211info.org for health and social service assistance and general information.
Dial 511 or visit tripcheck.com for travel updates.
Text-to-911 helps those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities, as well as anyone unable to talk due to an emergency, and should only be used for emergencies.

“We need to look out for one another and share information to help raise awareness of ways to access resources and stay safe. Make sure you, your family and neighbors know where to go for warming shelters or how to safely stay warm if the power fails. Well-connected communities are more resilient,” said Marheine.

OEM is sharing additional safety tips and resources to help Oregonians reduce risk:

Be Two Weeks Ready

Individuals should proactively prepare to be self-sufficient for at least two weeks during an emergency or disaster. Being 2 Weeks Ready means having a plan and enough supplies for you and your household to survive on your own for a full two weeks should an emergency — like a severe ice storm — occur. Visit oregon.gov to learn more.

Stay informed – the more information you have, the better you can prepare!

Monitor the weather forecast for watches, warnings or advisories at weather.gov.
Sign up for local emergency alerts at oralert.gov.

Limit exposure and know where to find warming centers

Many counties across the state are setting up warming shelters – locations vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Dial 211 or visit 211info.org/em-shelters to find warming centers listed by county and updated as information is shared.
When necessary to be outdoors, limit exposure time and wear warm layers. Know the signs to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Travel safely – know before you go

Check weather and road conditions in advance at tripcheck.com or call 511.
Share your travel route before you travel and be sure to pack water, food, warm clothes and an emergency kit.
Be patient and allow for extra travel time – review winter weather travel tips from ODOT.

Be aware of power hazards – heat the home safely

Carbon monoxide kills: Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

Communicating during outages

Snow, ice and wind can damage cell towers, making for challenging communications via mobile phones and the Internet; use a battery-operated radio to listen to public broadcast stations for updates.
Outages may be widespread and power may not be back up for some time; check in on family and neighbors to ask who needs assistance and get them the help they need.

Be aware of flood and landslide warnings

Snow and ice accumulation can trigger debris flows and landslides in steep terrain, and the risk is higher in wildfire burn areas. Be alert when driving; embankments along roadsides may fail, sending drought-stricken trees and debris onto the road.

Protect pets – as members of the family, emergency plans should include actions to keep pets safe

Keep pets inside when the temperature drops. If they are outdoors for any reason, make sure they’re protected by a dry, draft-free shelter and routinely check the water dish to make sure the water is fresh and unfrozen.
Remove common poisons like antifreeze and de-icing salt.

Additional winter weather safety tips and resources

Oregon Office of Emergency Management
American Red Cross Winter Weather Checklist
Oregon Department of Transportation
Humane Society – Protect Pets in Winter
Oregon Health Authority – Preparing for Winter Storms

“We want to help ensure folks have the resources and information needed to do what they can to keep themselves, their families and communities safe,” said Marheine. “We can all do our part to make sure the memories made throughout the holidays are memorable for the right reasons.”