Summer and the dry season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down about preparing for emergencies, the Washington State Department of Health says.
September is National Preparedness Month. The cooler months bring their own seasonal challenges and risks. Take stock of your emergency supplies, plans, and behaviors now to ensure you have a safe, healthy, and productive fall and winter.
Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare:
Fires and smoke: Washington state forests and wild areas spent the summer drying out. Until fall rains arrive, there is still the risk of wildfires. Keep up with the weather and smoke conditions, and prepare your home to minimize damage. In areas with high wildfire risk, keep an emergency go bag with clothes, medicines, and essential documents handy in case you need to evacuate your home.
Floods: Floods are the most common and widespread natural disasters. Washington’s fall months bring persistent rains and powerful windstorms that can quickly raise water levels and flood river valleys and plains. At home, clear leaves and debris from gutters and street drains. Do not try to walk or drive through flooded areas. Water can be deeper than it looks, and water levels rise quickly. Keep enough food, water, medicine, and key supplies to be self-sufficient for two weeks.
Power outages: Windstorms can knock out power to large areas of our state, sometimes for long periods of time. As with floods and other seasonal events, make sure you have the batteries, medicines, food, and supplies you need to be self-sufficient for two weeks. DO NOT use charcoal grills indoors for warmth – these produce deadly carbon monoxide gas that builds up in enclosed areas. If you have a medical condition that requires electrically powered equipment, register with your local utility so they can help you maintain or quickly restore your power. Visit this page for more tips for people with special medical needs.
Peak season for viruses: Respiratory viruses like influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 typically peak in fall and winter. Reduce the risk of spreading diseases by ensuring you and your loved ones are up to date with your vaccines, washing your hands often, and staying home if you’re sick.
For more tips and information about emergency preparedness, visit the Washington State Department of Health’s Get Ready for an Emergency web page.