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)

Sscreenshot from FIT Instructional Video

FIT Instructional Videos

Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, but it is preventable with screening. The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is the most used stool test for colon cancer screening. These videos demonstrate how to properly use a FIT kit to collect a stool sample for colon cancer screening. They are available in Arabic, Cantonese, English, Khmer (Cambodian), Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.
* It is recommended that adults begin screening for colon cancer age 45 (previously age 50).

A PDF document containing QR Codes that link directly to each video is provided in the sidebar.

Demonstration: Dr. Rachel Issaka
Videography: Dr. Carey Jackson
Arabic Interpreter: Joseph Tawadros
Cantonese & Vietnamese Interpreter: Lien T. La
Khmer Interpreter: Jeniffer Huong
Russian Interpreter: Oleg Gouts
Somali Interpreter: Mohamed Hashi
Spanish Interpreter: Araceli Gonzalez-Medel


Screenshot from Viral Swab Instructional Video

Viral Swab Instructional Videos

These instructional videos were created to help explain the viral swab procedure to patients presenting with coronavirus symptoms at Harborview Medical Center. The videos were created with interpreters and hospital staff who walk the patients through the nose-swab testing, and offer post-visit information. The videos are available in 7 languages: English interpreted into Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, Oromo, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Each video has an accompanying easy-to-scan QR code. If the patient wants to review the video once they are back home, they can scan the QR code which will automatically take them to the video on YouTube. QR code pdfs are available for download under each video, and are also found in the sidebar.

Download Amharic QR code PDF
Download Arabic QR code PDF
Download Cantonese QR code PDF
Download Oromo QR code PDF
Download Somali QR code PDF
Download Spanish QR code PDF
Download Vietnamese QR code PDF

2024 Diabetes Calendars

These are thirteen and fifteen month calendars with photos and information about healthy eating and diabetes.

They are provided in Amharic (Ethiopian), Arabic, Dari, Khmer (Cambodian), Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. All calendars also include English. See sidebar for PDFs for FREE downloadable files.

We encourage you to download and share with your communities!

Print on both sides of paper (flip paper on long edge) and fold to make calendar.

Video promotion for the 2024 Diabetes Calendars
The FITO Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine

Using Traditional Medicines

This handout created by Harborview Medical Center addresses the use of traditional medicines, encouraging patients to discuss them with their doctor and pharmacist. It goes on to explain reasons why this is important.

The handout translated into a number of languages and each PDF includes both target language and English. Languages include: Arabic, Khmer (Cambodian), Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. Audio narration is also available in each language.

PDFs and audio files are accessible in the sidebar.

These materials were funded by .

The FITO Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine
The FITO Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine. Photo by Anthony Tong Lee (cc license).