Winter – Cold Weather and Power Outage Safety

Winter brings cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain, and high winds. When rain freezes, ice weighs down trees and power lines, this can lead to power outages (see below for multi-language fact sheets).

Photo by Brett Sayles (cc license)

During a winter storm

Washington Department of Health tips:

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens rather than gloves. Wear a warm, woolen cap.
  • Do not drive unnecessarily.
  • Reduce the temperature in your home to conserve fuel.
  • Heat only the areas of your home you are using. Close doors and curtains or cover windows and doors with blankets.
  • Use alternative heat methods safely. Never use a gas or charcoal grill, hibachi or portable propane heater to cook indoors or heat your home.
  • Never use a generator indoors or in a garage or carport.
  • Be careful when shoveling snow. Do not overexert yourself.
  • Be sure to eat regularly. Food provides calories that maintain body heat.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia — slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness and body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • If you become trapped outside, get out of the wind and stay dry. Build a lean-to or snow cave if nothing else is available. Do not eat snow; it will make you too cold.

If in your vehicle

  • Make sure someone knows where you are going. Stay on the main roads.
  • If you must stop, remain inside the vehicle. Use a bright distress flag or your hazard lights to draw attention to your vehicle.
  • If trapped in a blizzard, clear your tail pipe and run your engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour. Open your window slightly.
  • During night hours, keep the dome light on in the car so rescue crews can see your vehicle.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food that can be eaten without being cooked. Include a blanket or sleeping bag for each passenger, a flashlight, cell phone, shovel, sack of sand or kitty litter, booster cables, flare, coffee can with lid, and toilet paper.

PDF tip sheets in other languages: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

What should I do if I see damaged or downed power lines?

Department of Health Seattle & King County:

  • Don’t get near any fallen or sagging power line!
  • Call the utility company about the line
    (Seattle area residents: 206-684-7400, other King County residents: 1-888-225-5773).

If you have a power outage, safe ways to stay warm

  • Find places where you can go to get warm, such as the home of friends and family whose homes have power.
  • Wear several layers of light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and blankets indoors.
  • Close curtains and cover windows and doors with blankets. Everyone should try to stay together in one room, with the door closed, to keep in body heat.

Prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide

  • If you don’t have electricity, only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents.
  • NEVER use a generator indoors, in garages or carports
  • NEVER cook or heat indoors with a charcoal or gas grill 

Help Others

Q&A RSV, flu and COVID in King County: What should I know?

In the Fall and Winter months there is often a rise in respiratory viruses. This Fall (2022) there have been many RSV and flu cases requiring emergency room visits – especially for young children. Health clinics might also see more COVID cases and hospitalizations in the winter as people gather indoors and new COVID variants spread. These diseases can make young children, older adults, and other vulnerable people very sick, and overload hospitals and clinics.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that spreads every winter. Anyone can get RSV, but in 2022 we’re seeing a lot of cases in young children. For healthy adults and older children RSV can feel like a cold, with symptoms like runny nose, less appetite, coughing, and fever. But it can be a very serious illness for babies, older adults, and others.

The Seattle and King County Department of Public Health has put together an informative slide deck in eighteen languages. The deck Includes information about RSV, flu and COVID in King County, what to look for and how to prevent illness.

These slides can be shared in waiting rooms, at community centers, and in other places where people gather. Slides are available in the following languages:
• አማርኛ (Amharic)
• العربية (Arabic)
• 简体字 (Chinese – Simplified)
繁體字 (Chinese – Traditional)
• دری (Dari)
• English
• Français (French)
• 日本語 (Japanese)
• ភាសាខ្មែរ (Khmer)
• 한국어 (Korean)
• KajinM̧ajeļ (Marshallese)
• ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi)
• Русский (Russian)
• Af Soomaali (Somali)
• Español (Spanish)
• Wikang Tagalog/Filipino (Tagalog/Filipino)
• ትግርኛ (Tigrinya)
• Українська (Ukrainian)
• Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

How Does the American Health System Work

The American Health System is complicated. This fact sheet was produced to guide patients to where they can see a doctor. It describes the differences between a Primary Care Clinic, a Specialty Clinic, the Emergency Room, and In-Patient Care and when it is appropriate to use each service. The goal of this resource is to help improve health literacy for English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking patients.

photo by Online Marketing (cc license)
The Brain

Brain Death: What It Means

This handout offers information for families and loved ones of patients. It explains how doctors determine that a person is dead based on their brain function.

Handout PDFs are available at UW Medicine Health Online in English, Arabic, Tigrinya, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Amharic and Spanish languages.

For information for providers, see Determination of Brain Death/Death by Neurologic Criteria – The World Brain Death Project (article accessible with JAMA subscription).

The Brain
Photo by Francisco Bengoa (cc license).
Coronavirus image

COVID-19 Information

A collection of local and national online information resources regarding COVID-19, including links to translated materials.

General COVID-19 Information

Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Covid-19 Information & Resources

• King County vaccination pop-up schedule April – May 2023

Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Co-existing with Covid-19 (translated in 35 languages)

WA DOH Resources and Recommendations; Multilingual ( scroll to bottom tabs )

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) About Covid-19

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Multilingual COVID-19 Resources

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Covid-19 Projections

UW Medicine The Huddle Covid-19 Updates

Harvard Health Medicine Covid-19 Fact Sheets (translated in 35 languages)

National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM) Covid-19 and Vaccine Fact Sheets (translated in multiple languages) and Covid Guide for Newcomers (translated in multiple languages)

Information is constantly evolving. Some information below may change over time. General note about translations: when updates are made to an information resource in English, there can sometimes be a lag in updating another language version of that document or messaging. It may be helpful to compare and consider the dates on each, especially if/when you choose to print information, and check back for updated versions.

Booster Information and Resources

King County Public Health

Local Resources

City of Seattle

COVID-19: Resources for Community
The City of Seattle’s Office of the Mayor provides COVID-19 information and resources and features the latest programs to help those impacted by the pandemic.

Public Health Seattle & King County

Boosters & Testing (32 languages)
How to Care for Yourself and Others (32 languages)

Washington State

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has provided information about vaccine booster doses, translated into 40 languages.
Say Yes! Covid Test– Free Covid-19 testing kits (can be translated into over 35 languages)

Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center Helpline, 6 am – 10 pm Monday, 6 am-6 pm Tuesday-Sunday, and state observed holidays 1-800-525-0127 and press #. Call for information about Covid-19 (not a line to call for testing access or results).

Washington State’s official Covid-19 website. Includes multilingual resources in 30+ languages.

The Discussion Guide for Building Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines for Immigrants and Refugees (PDF), created by Washington State Department of Health, is a resource for partners serving immigrant/refugee communities to help build COVID-19 vaccine confidence with community members. The resource is an easy to follow discussion guide followed by common concerns, frequently asked questions and example responses. They hope the proposed talking points will help support vaccine conversations and build confidence within communities and/or clients providers may serve.

Fostering COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence in Russian- and Ukrainian-Speaking Communities: A Training for Providers  A free e-course will give healthcare providers the tools to better understand vaccine hesitancy within the Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking population, in addition to fostering vaccine confidence, identifying language and cultural barriers that may impede vaccine hesitancy, and adopting strategies to initiate conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine with Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking patients.  Click here to view a flyer for the course.

Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

COVID-19: Stay Informed! web page (15 languages) Guidance for people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness; Guidance for Everyone; If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or questions, who you can call in King County. In-language webinars (8 languages).

COVID-19 Assistance and Public Charge FAQ for Immigrants – City of Seattle (7 languages) This is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) information guide for immigrants who want to know more about how the issue of public charge might affect their ability to access healthcare and other services during this COVID-19 outbreak. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will continue updating this site as developments occur.

Food Access

Covid-19 Seattle & King County Emergency Food Resources page on EthnoMed for information about King County Emergency Food Access, SPS Student Meals Pick Up (Translated School Site Information), Food Maps and Food Banks

See also: King County Office of Equity and Social Justice Covid-19 Resource Guide for information about services and programs for:

  • Unemployement, housing, utilities
  • Cash assistance
  • Food assistance
  • Resources for undocumented immigrants
  • Small business loans & disaster assistance
  • King County in-language resources

Community Health Boards

Iraqi/Arab Health Board Facebook videos in Arabic

Somali Health Board Facebook videos and community conversations in Somali

Vietnamese Health Board – Ban Y Tế Cộng Đồng Facebook – videos and information in Vietnamese

Directories of Resources in Multiple Languages

The National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants (NRC-RIM) has a Get the Facts Campaign offering COVID-19 fact sheets, posters, videos, audio recordings and other resources in English and more than 100 languages free of charge. These materials come from organizations across the country working to communicate effectively with refugee, immigrant and migrant communities.

Covid Information in Indigenous, Endangered, and Under-Resourced Languages from governments, NGOs, and public health organizations. Compiled by Endangered Languages Project. Search by language name or country.

COVID-19 Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Language Resources This community library is a collection of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) in-language resources on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The resource links have been submitted by community members, leaders and national and community-based organizations and provided by The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF).

From States, Universities & Medical Centers

Materials and Resources for COVID-19 Response
Video PSAs, print materials, and translated documents about vaccines, boosters, testing, masks, and more from Minnesota Department of Health.

COVID-19 Printables From Ontario College of Art and Design University, The COVID-19 Printables are a collection of downloadable, multilingual, adaptable 1-page infographics collaboratively developed with medical professionals to improve access and understanding of COVID-19 information.

Learn More About Coronavirus (13 languages) Series of PDFs from LA County Department of Public Health. Information about Physical Distancing, Hand washing, Cloth Face Coverings, Cleaning in the home and group settings, risk reduction outside the home.

Covid-19 Community Resources (11+ languages) Health information resources from the Oregon Health Authority and other state agencies and partners. OHA provides materials in multiple languages as a part of an equity-centered response to COVID-19.

Trusted Messengers A diverse ensemble of health care professionals works to overcome COVID-vaccine hesitancy in at-risk communities across Minnesota. A Twin Cities PBS video.

Handwashing Poster & Videos

Minnesota Department of Health Wash Your Hands poster in 24 languages:

Minnesota Department of Health videos: How to Wash Your Hands (10 languages) approx. 1 minute and Cleaning Hands with Hand Sanitizer (9 languages) 1 minute

San Francisco Department of Public Health Wash Hands (8 languages ) 2-3 minutes.

CDC YouTube Live Handwashing Presentation (English) 9 minutes (handwashing demo at 2 min 21 sec). Created to provide hygiene education for children in schools for Global Handwashing Day 2016.

Mayo Clinic Are you washing your hands long enough to kill germs? (English) 2 minute 39 seconds. Video made in 2013, demonstrates proper hand hygiene (references flu and other illnesses, not coronavirus specifically).

Ghen Cô Vy| NIOEH x KHẮC HƯNG x MIN x ERIK | WASHING HAND SONG (Vietnamese) 3 minute 5 seconds. Fun pop song video animation from Vietnam demonstrating hand hygiene.

Mask & Vaccine Videos

COVID-19 PSA Video – Vietnamese Health Board
Public service announcement in Vietnamese (with English subtitles) that includes basic tips for helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

Covid-19 Mask Do’s and Don’ts – Minnesota Department of Health Instructions on what to do when buying, wearing, removing and reusing masks. Videos and transcripts in 14 languages.

Stigma & Bias

The Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Washington STATEMENT ON SURGE OF ANTI-ASIAN RACISM DURING COVID-19

person in rain with a blue umbrella

Emergency Preparedness

Resources and information about emergency preparedness, disaster planning, and other emergency public health alerts.

Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

Seattle-King County Disaster Preparedness Fact Sheets and Flyers
Key fact sheets with tips to help you prepare for and manage a disasters such as floods, power outages, hypothermia, and more. Many topics have additional languages.

Carbon monoxide facts in multiple languages - King County
Particularly relevant to refugee and immigrant populations is the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning when there are power outages. This is a link to carbon monoxide facts in multiple languages.

Lost In Translation - Minnesota Medicine
A short article about a Karen refugee family from Burma, and how a simple lesson about our emergency system might have saved a life.

Prepare Yourself - Seattle Office of Emergency Management
The Seattle Office of Emergency Management has prepared information to learn how to plan for personal and family safety and needs. Infographics are translated into Amharic, Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Moldavian, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities
A site developed by the Drexel University School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equality, with support from the HHS Office of Minority Health, to serve as a central clearinghouse of resources and an information exchange portal to facilitate communication, networking and collaboration to improve preparedness, build resilience and eliminate disparities for culturally diverse communities across all phases of an emergency.

ECHO - Minnesota Department of Public Health
Emergency & Community Health Outreach (ECHO) uses TV, radio, phone, print, web and DVD has resources to bridge the communication gap for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota, and makes resources accessible to others.  They provide resources about emergency preparedness, health and safety and civic engagement in multiple languages.

Fire Safety

Home Fire Safety - Seattle Fire Department
Fact sheets from the Seattle Fire Department with information about Basic Home Fire Safety in a number of languages:  English, Tigrinya, Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Hmong, Ukranian, Russian, Nepali, Lao, Thai, Cambodian.  

Community Fire Safety Advocates - Seattle Fire Department
Provides fire safety presentations in English, Chinese, Cambodian, Lao, Vietnamese, Thai, Spanish, Oromo, Somali, Amharic and Tigrinya.  Attendees learn:  The real dangers of fire; The most common home fire hazards; How to respond properly to a home fire. Use the form provided to request a Community Fire Safety Advocate presentation or participation in a community event. See also fire safety videos in Amharic, Somali and Tigrinya. 

Champion of Change

Mohamed Ali, a Seattle area Somali refugee with master’s degree in public health, has been honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his work in the Puget Sound area.  In 2012 a severe winter storm hit the area and many people lost power.  Ali did outreach in his community to warn about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from bringing generators and grills inside. Read the Seattle Times article: Federal Way man to be honored with White House’s Champion of Change award .

person in rain with a blue umbrella
Photo by Chris Yarzab (cc license).
sailboat in puget sound waters

Poor Air Quality in Puget Sound: Information and Resource Links

sailboat in puget sound waters
Photo by Michael Li (cc license).

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems including trouble breathing, coughing , headaches, chest pain. 

Children, pregnant women, older adults, those with asthma, heart disease and other chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable to these health impacts.

Precautions to Avoid Negative Health Outcomes 

These include: staying indoors (if possible), limiting outdoor physical activity (such as running, walking, bicycling, sports), closing windows at home, using an indoor air filter, keeping windows closed while driving and wearing a N95 or N100 rated filtration mask (available at hardware home repair stores). 

Smoke from wildfires increases health risks for sensitive groups, including children and babies, especially those who also have asthma or other health conditions.  Pregnant women, people over 65, and those who have heart, lung and other health conditions are also at higher risk.

Please check Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website frequently for updates on air quality. Air quality can change quickly, depending on the wind.

Breathing smoky air can cause a wide range of symptoms from watery eyes and coughing to chest pain and asthma attacks. If you or someone you know is experiencing serious symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, or call 911 if these symptoms become life-threatening. 

Recommendations from Washington State Department of Health

  • Close windows and doors as much as possible. Use fans or an air conditioner (AC) when it is hot, and set your AC to recirculate. If you do not have AC and it is too hot to stay home, go to a place with AC such as a mall, library, or community center in your city.
  • Everyone should stay indoors and avoid strenuous physical activities outside.
  • Keep indoor air clean.  
  • Don’t add to indoor air pollution. Don’t use candles, food boilers, incense, or gas stoves. 
  • Don’t vacuum as vacuuming stirs up additional particles into the air.   
  • Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter,but do not use an air cleaner that produces ozone.
  • Consider creating your own air purifier with a box fan if you cannot afford an air cleaner.
  • Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water.

Information flyers in 10 languages

Resources for everyone as well as specific information for people who are especially sensitive to smoke (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, Ukrainian, Vietnamese) 

Information Flyers in 10 Languages on Air Quality

How People with Health Conditions can Protect Themselves from Wildfire Smoke

English
Spanish Translation
Video highlighting how pregnant women and children can protect themselves from wildfire smoke.

For more Information on Health Effects from Wildfires

Frequently Asked Questions on Smoke from Fires
colonoscopy icon

Colonoscopy Test Preparation with GoLytely

UW Medicine’s Digestive Health Center has created two handouts to guide patients who are taking GoLytely to prepare for a colonoscopy.

The first handout, Colonoscopy: How to prepare with GoLytely is a timeline that tells what to do 7 days before, 5 days before, 1 day before, and on the day of the procedure.

The second handout, Colonoscopy: How to prepare with GoLytely (same-day prep), is also a timeline but is for same-day prep.

Handouts are available in Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic and Japanese.

colonoscopy icon
Photo by Giorno Brando (cc license).

Brainman Pain Management Resources

In 2011, Hunter Integrated Pain Service at John Hunter Hospital and Hunter Medicare Local in Australia developed Brainman’s first film “Understanding pain and what to do about it in less than five minutes”. The video gives people who experience chronic pain access to a self-management tool that will help them manage the impacts of chronic pain on their functioning, emotions and interpersonal relationships and will help in the adherence to pain management plans.  

Visit the Brainman Pain Management Resources, to access this video:

  • Available with and without English subtitles
  • Translated or subtitled in 9 additional languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish). 
  • Transcript (English) available for download

The University of Washington and The University of South Australia joined the team to collaborate in producing two additional and updated Brainman videos:  

Female nurse taking blood pressure of female patient in a hospital bed

Translated Nurse-to-Patient Communication Pages – Harborview

Female nurse taking blood pressure of female patient in a hospital bed
Photo by UW Medicine

Pages developed with nurses and interpreters to aid caregivers in communicating basic information to their patients. Use of the pages requires no prior knowledge of the patient’s language, but requires that a patient be able to read and point to a written response.

These pages are not meant to be a substitute for using a qualified interpreter. Rather, they are a basic communication aid for nurses providing comfort and care to patients. For more complex communication needs, always use an interpreter.

The Greek and Polish translations have not been reviewed. Thanks to Camelia Ades, RN, MSN, MPH for contributing the Romanian translation