An arctic front is moving into the Inland Northwest and bringing with it frigid temperatures. Those living in the unincorporated areas of Spokane County should be prepared for the extreme cold and take appropriate steps to protect themselves, their property, and their pets/livestock.
According to the American Red Cross, you should have the basic supplies listed below (additional supplies will be needed for pets/livestock):
• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
• Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
• Extra batteries
• First aid kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
• Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Map(s) of the area
Animals need shelter as much as we do during extremely cold weather. Make sure your pets/livestock have protected shelter and check their food/water frequently to make sure they have plenty and it’s not frozen. The Spokane County Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) may have gently used dog houses available. Contact them at (509) 477-2532 or go to www.spokanecounty.org/scraps.
Avoid Frozen Pipes:
• Inform all household members of where the main water shutoff valve is located in case of emergency.
• Hoses should be disconnected from outside faucets.
• Water pipes in unheated parts of your home should be insulated.
• Seal all openings in the basement around the foundation, windows, and doors.
• Insulate all pipes in your basement that are near windows.
• Drain all underground irrigation systems.
During freezing weather:
• Make sure you heat all rooms of your house that have plumbing fixtures. Water pipes in unheated rooms are subject to freezing and could cause extensive damage.
• Leave the cabinet doors open to allow the heat from the room to enter if you have pipes that are located on an outside wall.
• Keep meter box lids closed during winter months to prevent cold air from freezing the meter. Don’t remove snow if you don’t have to. It helps insulate the meter.
• If you have experienced problems in the past during freezing periods and you have exhausted all other solutions, you can leave a trickle of water running from the faucet highest in the house. This trickle should be a steady stream slightly larger than the lead of a pencil.
If you have a frozen pipe:
• NEVER thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame!
• Use hot air from a hair dryer, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner, heat lamps, heat tape, or electric heaters to thaw a frozen pipe.
• Also consider using a light bulb to thaw pipes slowly, by placing it next to pipes that are frozen. Be sure to keep the bulb away from combustible material to avoid starting a fire.
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