Wind Storm Safety and Preparedness

image of a tree downed by a wind storm

In Washington, the windy season lasts from October to March and it is not uncommon for there to be High Wind Speeds. High winds are considered constant wind speeds of 40+ mph with gusts over more than 58 mph that last for over an hour. These storms often cause power outages so it is important to be prepared to be without electricity for a couple days.

Before

There are steps you can take prior to windstorm that can help you be more prepared during and after the storm.

You can:

  • Assemble a disaster supply kit
  • Know how to properly use your generator
  • Check around your house for trees and branches that could fall
  • Locate the manual overdrive for electric garage doors
  • Identify anyone in your community or neighborhood who may need assistance during an emergency event

During a windstorm it is important to not panic. If you are indoors move away from windows and items that could fall. If you are in a multi-level home move to a lower level. If you are outside move indoors. Avoid any downed powerlines, trees, and utility poles. Whenever you are driving during a windstorm, pull over away from trees and if possible move indoors. You should avoid any overpasses, bridges, and powerlines. If the power goes out while using stove or natural gas appliance ensure that you turn off the appliances.

After

When the storm ends you should check yourself for injuries. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. If you are in a damaged building, evacuate and do not re-enter until said safe to do so by emergency officials. Gas leaks can occur during windstorms from left on natural gas appliances, so if you smell gas open windows and leave the building. Then turn off the gas source and call the company. Do not use matches, candles, open flame or electric switches. This can cause an explosion and fire.

Power Outage Tips

Power outages are common occurrences with windstorms and it is possible to be left without electricity for several days. The loss of electricity can affect whole communities by disrupting communications, closing businesses, causing food spoilage, and the prevention of using electric medical devices. To prepare for a power outage you should take inventory of all your items that require electricity and plan for enough batteries and power sources to fit your needs. If you have a home phone, determine if it will work without electricity and how long the battery may last. It is important to talk to your care provider about power outage plans for medical devices that require electricity or medicines that require refrigeration. For more outage tips check out https://www.ready.gov/power-outages.

In power outage events, it is essential to have prepared non-perishable food and water as frozen and refrigerated food can spoil without electricity. During an outage keep your refrigerator and freezer door

closed. With the doors closed, food will keep cold for 4 hours in the fridge and 2 days in the freezer. If frozen or refrigerated food has a temperature higher than 40°F, throw it out as it has spoiled.

During an power outage you can use a generator to provide some power to your home but never operate within your home, in your garage or in a carport. Running a generator indoors can create a buildup of a poisonous gas called Carbon Monoxide (CO) which can lead to death. To prevent this the generator should be placed outside and away from windows. For more generator safety tips check out: https://www.energy.gov/ceser/activities/energy-security/emergency-preparedness/using-portableemergency-generators-safely

Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is a byproduct of when gas, charcoal, oil, wood, and kerosene are burned. The gas cannot be seen and has no smell making it incredibly dangerous. Without proper air circulation Carbon Monoxide can kill in a matter of minutes and does cause hundreds of accidental deaths each year. Prolonged exposure without causing death can still cause major injuries such as brain damage, chest pain, and heart attack in people with heart disease.

The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide are:

  • Headache· Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue

If you think someone is suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning take them to fresh air immediately and then take them to the emergency room. Make sure to notify the medical staff that you believe the individual is suffering from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. To prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning you should install CO warning devices with battery backups in your home. These devices will notify you when the Carbon Monoxide are at dangerous levels even during a power outage. Another action you can take to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning is check the condition of your chimney and flue. You want to make sure they are in good condition and they are not blocked.

You should:

  • NEVER use a gas oven, gas grill, propane grill, or hibachi grill to cook inside your home
  • NEVER use a gas oven, gas grill, propane grill, or hibachi grill to heat the inside of your home
  • NEVER burn charcoal indoors
  • NEVER idle a car in the garage
  • NEVER use gas powered equipment in the garage
  • NEVER sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.

These activities cause dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide in your home and can cause injury or death.