Prepare to weather any winter storm

As beautiful as new fallen snow can be, it can also be disruptive, destructive, and deadly. Winter storms are common in the Northwest, which means it is always best to be prepared for any and all winter conditions. Here are our top tips to safely navigate this winter.

Before a blizzard

Heavy snow on roadways can make for dangerous driving. Make sure your car is ready for winter conditions before venturing out in inclement weather.

  • Check your tires and make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm and check tire pressure during cold weather. Remember, tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms.

  • Get a vehicle winter maintenance check-up. Don't wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers.

  • Keep your fuel tank full — don't let it fall below half a tank on winter trips.

  • Program your radio for traffic reports and emergency messages (for WSDOT radio: 530 and 1610 AM).

Snow doesn't only affect the roadways - it can wreak havoc at home as well. Heavy snow on power lines can cause power outages that last for days. Being prepared for heavy snowfall and having extra emergency supplies on hand is the best way to make sure your family stays safe both during and after the storm.

  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. 
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order.

  • When temperatures drop, bring your companion animals inside and ensure that your horses and livestock have blankets if appropriate and unimpeded access to shelter, food, and non-frozen water.

Build an emergency car kit

Before you hit the road, make sure your car is stocked with some winter travel essentials:

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Blanket
  • Snacks and bottled water
  • Gloves and boots
  • First-aid kit
  • Tire chains
  • Ice scraper, snowbrush, or mini shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares

Create a family communication plan

  • Your family may not be together when a winter storm strikes. Plan how you will contact one another in advance. 
  • Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  • Check emergency plans with your children’s day care or school. If your child rides the school bus home, check to see if the schedule or drop-off locations will change in case of a winter storm emergency.
  • If you have a cell phone, designate at least one person in your contacts as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get ahold of someone you know.

Here are some useful links to help you prepare and stay safe

Please take care, heed the winter storm warnings, and stay safe!