As Winter Storms Approach, Oregon OEM Calls For Risk Reduction, Offers Safety Best Practices

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Winter storms are expected to move across the Pacific Northwest over the next 7-10 days, bringing freezing temperatures, snow to mountains and valleys, and gusty winds.

The Office of Emergency Management urges Oregon residents to reduce their risk by taking preparedness measures and following safety best practices – staying informed, being aware of the environment, and being prepared with a plan and a emergency kit.

“Our state has already experienced a number of weather-related emergencies this year, which underscores the importance of taking action now to prepare for the future,” said Matt Marheine, deputy director of the OEM. “Winter storms mean an increased risk for those who travel as well as those who stay home for vacations. It is essential that all people in Oregon are empowered to do their part for themselves, their families and their communities to stay safe. “

Extremely cold temperatures are forecast for next week. The OEM emphasizes the need to monitor family, friends, neighbors and vulnerable populations, especially in the event of a power outage or ice on the roads. Oregon residents need to know where to call for help and save 911 just for life-threatening emergencies.

  • For non-emergency assistance, dial 677 from a cell phone or call 800-442-0776 in the northern counties of the state and 800-442-2068 in the southern counties. If you’re not sure what the Oregon State Police are calling for, call one or the other and they’ll help you out.
  • Dial or text 211 – or visit 211info.org for health and social service help and general information.
  • Dial 511 or visit tripcheck.com for travel updates.
  • Text-to-911 helps people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech abilities, as well as anyone unable to speak due to an emergency, and should only be used in an emergency.

“We need to look out for each other and share information to help educate people on how to access resources and stay safe. Make sure you, your family, and neighbors know where to go to warm shelters or how to stay warm and safe in the event of a power outage. Well-connected communities are more resilient, ”said Marheine.

OEM shares additional safety tips and resources to help Oregon residents reduce risk:

Be ready for 2 weeks

Individuals should proactively prepare to be self-sufficient for at least two weeks in the event of an emergency or disaster. Being ready for 2 weeks means having a plan and enough supplies so that you and your household can survive on your own for a full two weeks in an emergency like a severe ice storm. Visit oregon.gov to learn more.

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

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

Limit exposure and know where to find warming centers

  • Many counties in the state are implementing heated shelters – locations vary by jurisdiction.
  • Dial 211 or visit 211info.org/em-shelters to find the 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 ahead of time at tripcheck.com or call 511.
  • Share your itinerary before you travel, and be sure to pack water, food, warm clothing, and an emergency kit.
  • Be patient and allow extra travel time – check out ODOT’s winter travel tips.

Be aware of the dangers of electricity – heat your home safely

  • Carbon Monoxide Kills: Never use a generator, grill, camping stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal appliance inside a home, a garage, a basement, a crawl space or any partially enclosed space. Locate the unit away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to get inside.
  • The main dangers to avoid when using alternative sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fires.

Communicate during outages

  • Snow, ice and wind can damage cell towers, to challenge communications via cell phones and the Internet; use a battery-powered radio to listen to public broadcast stations for updates.
  • Blackouts can be generalized and power may not be restored for some time; consult with family and neighbors to ask who needs help and get them the help they need.

Be aware of flood and landslide warnings

  • Accumulation of snow and ice can trigger debris flows and landslides on steep terrain, and the risk is higher in burn areas. Be vigilant when driving; embankments along roads can fail, sending trees and drought-stricken debris onto the road.

Protect pets – as family members, emergency plans should include measures to keep pets safe

  • Keep animals indoors when the temperature drops. If they are outside for some reason, make sure they are protected in a dry, draft-free shelter and regularly check the water bowl to make sure the water is cool and not jelly.
  • Eliminate common poisons like antifreeze and de-icing salt.

Additional winter safety tips and resources

“We want to help ensure that people have the resources and information they need to do what they can to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe,” said Marheine. “We can all do our part to make sure the memories created throughout the vacation are lasting for the right reasons. ”

Martin E. Berry