Environmental Health, Injury Prevention, Prevention, Public Health


Public Health Insider
Public Health – Seattle & King County

En español: Clima invernal: planificación para necesidades médicas

After a few weeks of relatively mild winter weather in King County, things are set to change this week.

We’re expecting high winds and gusts starting in the early morning on Tuesday, January 9 and continuing through the day, which could take down power lines and cause outages. This weekend, January 12-14, light snow might cover roads and disrupt travel.

King County will post updates to King County Emergency News (kcemergency.com) if there is a winter weather emergency, including information about cold weather shelters and road closures. In the meantime, you can take steps now to stay safe as the weather turns.

Stay safe and warm when the power is out

High winds and power outages can bring several health and safety risks. If you see damaged or downed power lines, don’t go near them and avoid any standing water, and call the utility company about the line.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning—never use generators, charcoal or gas grills, or propane heaters indoors. More information, including links to translated posters and information: kingcounty.gov/carbonmonoxide.

Wear several layers of light weight, warm clothing instead of one layer of heavy clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and blankets indoors, stay together in one room with the door closed, and close curtains and cover windows and doors with blankets. Have a backup plan of places to go to stay warm during a long outage, like a friend’s home that has power, the library, a community center, or a shopping mall.

Cold temperatures can make your body’s temperature drop dangerously low. Learn how to recognize this condition (hypothermia) and what to do.

This blog post from last winter has more information and tips about safety if your home is without electricity: Brrrr! How to stay warm and safe when the power is out – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

Plan ahead for road closures if you have medical needs

Even small amounts of snow can disrupt traffic and close roads, and make it hard for people to get to medical appointments or get the medical supplies they need.

Things to consider if you depend on:

  • Oxygen tanks, medication prescriptions, or other medical supplies: Plan with your doctor, pharmacist, or medical service provider about what to do if they can’t be delivered or if you can’t get to the pharmacy. Ask your doctor and/or pharmacist if you can have a 3-day emergency supply.
  • Medical equipment powered by electricity (beds, breathing equipment or infusion pumps): Check with your medical supply company and get information about a back-up power source such as a battery or generator.
  • Intravenous and feeding tube equipment: Know if your infusion pump has battery back-up, and how long it would last in an emergency. Ask your home care provider about manual infusion techniques in case of a power outage.
  • Dialysis: Make back-up arrangements for transportation, like asking a friend with an all-wheel drive vehicle to help you get to your dialysis appointment. Get information about other dialysis facilities in your area, and find out if they provide the type of treatment you need. Contact the facility to be sure they can treat you in an emergency. Know what diet to follow if your dialysis must be delayed.

As always, please share this information with friends, loved ones, and neighbors to help them stay safe, and check up on people who may need help during severe weather.

And remember to stay home if you are feeling sick to avoid spreading flu, RSV, and COVID this winter!

Visit our Winter weather safety and preparation page for additional resources.