How to prepare for the Northwest’s weekend snow

Feb 7, 2019, 1:39 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2019, 10:14 am

Seattle snow...

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Northwest was treated to its first snow of winter on Monday, and as it turns out, there’s a good chance that was just a hint of what’s to come.

RELATED: More Western Washington snow this weekend
Bookmark: School closures

Forecasts for the region are calling for anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow depending on where you are, making it that much more important to prepare before that first snowflake hits the ground Friday afternoon.

With that in mind, here’s how you can get equipped for the impending snow.

The basics

As with most emergencies, it’s good to have a few days worth of food and water stored away, just in case. Hopefully, you have stocked up ahead of time. In addition to that:

  • Keep a battery-powered radio on hand, and tune into stations like KIRO Radio for updates about storm conditions.
  • Have batteries, flashlights, and plenty of candles in case the power goes out. Always be sure to closely monitor any open flame.
  • Charge phones and any other batteries ahead of time.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Eat perishable food first.
  • Know where your home’s main water shut off valve is, in case pipes burst. Also, let cold water slowly drip from faucets to help prevent pipes breaking. Use foam covers for spigots.
  • Run power generators outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use BBQs, a gas stove, or ovens to heat indoors. Again, that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • FEMA recommends keeping fire extinguishers on hand. Candles, etc. can cause fires.
  • Have a portable and/or solar battery to charge phones.

Check other advice from FEMA.

Staying warm, power

Just to emphasize this point: Never use BBQs, a gas stove, or ovens to heat indoors. That can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If you’re running a power generator, make sure it’s outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Kerosine heaters are among the safest to use to keep warm if power goes out. Some propane heaters can be used if they use the small one-pound container. Large propane tanks can leak gas indoors. In any case, it’s a good idea to keep air moving and rooms ventilated.
  • lace towels in window cracks and at the bottom of doors to keep warm air in. Duct tape can also be used.
  • Try to center activity in one room that you keep warm. If you have a working fireplace, use that room. Hang sheets or blankets — away from any open flames — to keep warm air in an area.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Of course, layer up. Wear warm clothing and keep blankets handy.
  • Use a tent inside and keep that space warm.

Your car

  • Fuel your car up before the storm. Check antifreeze levels.
  • Northwest snow can be among the worst to drive in because of the ice that almost immediately forms. Be prepared for slick roads just about everywhere.
  • If you haven’t used chains on your tires before, look up instructions, and test them out on an open stretch first, if possible. Only use chains on the tires that are powered. For example, if your car is front-wheel drive, install them on the front tires.
  • Do not drive fast when using chains on tires.
  • Only use chains on icy, snowy roads. Once on dry pavement, take them off. Chains can affect handling, fuel consumption, and they’re really loud.
  • If your car slides off the road and you are stuck, stay with your car. Keep an emergency kit with blankets, food, and water in your car.
  • Be sure you have a snow and ice scraper in your car, especially if you have uncovered parking.

If you live in Seattle, you can check the city’s plow map to see which roads have been treated during a snow storm, and how long ago they were treated.

Salt and ice

Table salt, like what you eat, can “melt” ice on the sidewalk or steps just fine (salt actually lowers the freezing point of water). It may help ice to melt faster than rock salt but it doesn’t last as long. Rock salts or the pellet variety used for walkways and roads dissolves much slower.

You may want to use salt sparingly. Many types of ice-melting salts can be bad for concrete, causing it to break up. It also can harm plants. If you don’t want to use salt, there are other methods out there, such as rubbing alcohol solutions.

Be prepared for cabin fever

Perhaps the best way to approach a winter storm is to create a base in your home and wait the storm out. Be prepared for cabin fever, especially if the snow and wind knocks out power. It can take a while for crews to repair electrical lines when there aren’t sheets of ice on the road. So it could take a bit for the lights to come back on during a snow storm.

Before the age of the internet, Netflix, and video games, electricity was not needed for entertainment. And no, during this time, recreation did not consist of rocks, sticks, and more rocks.

Keep some books on hand — from that best-selling novel you keep telling yourself you are going to read, to a graphic novel (you can read it before it inevitably is made into a movie).

There has been a dramatic rise in the popularity of tabletop games in recent years. Things have evolved since “Life” and “Monopoly.” Dust off an old board game, or pick up a new one to learn. Also, fun fact: The game of solitaire doesn’t have to be played on a computer; it can also be played using a physical card deck made of paper. Puzzles also aren’t a bad idea.

Or, fine. Just charge your Kindle or iPad and call it good.

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How to prepare for the Northwest’s weekend snow