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)

Mental Health Booklets

The Health Council of the Ethiopian Community in Seattle have created booklets discussing Mental Health. They are available in Amharic/English (Ethiopian), Oromo/English, and Tigrinya/English (Eritrean).

See sidebar to download PDF booklets.

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).
Fruits and vegetable

Diabetes: Meal Plan Basics

These materials were developed at Harborview Medical Center (Seattle, WA) for use in a multicultural diabetes class for patients and family members. The materials were translated into a number of languages and each PDF includes both target language and English. Languages include: Amharic, Arabic, Khmer (Cambodian), Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. The Arabic handout has an audio narration.

PDFs and audio narration are available in sidebar.

Updates to materials were funded by .

Fruits and vegetable
Photo by Penn State (cc license).

How Foods Affect Blood Sugar: A Guide for Ethiopian & Eritrean Patients with Diabetes

This presentation is intended to be used by clinicians during discussion with patients about carbohydrates and blood glucose. It is culturally tailored to reflect foods commonly consumed by Ethiopian and Eritrean Americans and includes photos of foods, meal comparisons, portion sizes, and some information about managing diabetes during periods of fasting. 

Resources include narrated video presentations (47-50 minutes) and PDF presentations with table of contents (129 slides). Each resource is available in Amharic, Oromo and Tigrinya in the sidebar.

Amharic

Introduction 0:50
Carbohydrates: Introduction 7:10
Carbohydrates: Starches 07:39
Carbohydrates: Fruit 18:26
Carbohydrates: Dairy 19:57
Carbohydrates: Sweets 20:54
Drinks 21:33
Extras 24:05
Foods That Do Not Raise Blood Sugar: 26:16
Proteins 26:46
Fats 27:59
Non-Starchy Vegetables 29:11
Meals 31:43
Fasting 39:00
Fasting: Orthodox Christian 40:27
Fasting: Muslim 42:30
Conclusion 45:29
Additional Resources 45:55

Oromo

Introduction 0:48
Carbohydrates: Introduction 6:51
Carbohydrates: Starches 07:24
Carbohydrates: Fruit 18:02
Carbohydrates: Dairy 19:42
Carbohydrates: Sweets 20:49
Drinks 21:28
Extras 23:52
Foods That Do Not Raise Blood Sugar 26:19
Proteins 26:43
Fats 28:03
Non-Starchy Vegetables 29:12
Meals 31:24
Fasting 39:21
Fasting: Orthodox Christian 40:56
Fasting: Muslim 42:49
Conclusion 45:41
Additional Resources 46:04

Tigrinya

Introduction 0:47
Carbohydrates: Introduction 6:59
Carbohydrates: Starches 07:26
Carbohydrates: Fruit 18:36
Carbohydrates: Dairy 20:32
Carbohydrates: Sweets 21:37
Drinks 22:16
Extras 24:58
Foods That Do Not Raise Blood Sugar 27:39
Proteins 28:07
Fats 29:43
Non-Starchy Vegetables 31:00
Meals 33:54
Fasting 41:58
Fasting: Orthodox Christian 43:29
Fasting: Muslim 45:51
Conclusion 49:06
Additional Resources 49:31

Background

Harborview Medical Center (HMC) physician Dr. Carey Jackson identified a need for a culturally-tailored visual reference tool to use during conversations about diet with diabetic patients. 

Methods

Mei Yook Woo created this tool to fulfill practicum requirements for the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, Nutritional Sciences, and as part of EthnoMed’s student contribution program. Dr. Carey Jackson served as clinical advisor. Rekha Ravindran provided program support. Harborview dietitians Charlotte Neilson and Karen Conger mentored the author during the project. Meetings were held with health care providers who work with Ethiopian/Eritrean patients. Cultural guidance was provided by caseworker/cultural mediator Yodit Wongelemengist.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Agelegle Ethiopia restaurant in Seattle for allowing us to photograph many of the foods featured in this slideshow at their wonderful restaurant. Special thanks to these others who supported and contributed to this work: Mohammed Abdul-Kadir (ICHS), Dawn Corl (HMC), Bogale Demse (HMC), Tsehay Haile (HMC), Phalla Kith (HMC), Gammada Sani Abraham (HMC), Tsega Woldetatios (HMC).

Funding for this education was provided by the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority.

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).
checking pulse and blood pressure

Information about Hypertension

Information about hypertension, including explanation of symptoms, cause and treatment (with analogy encouraging medication maintenance).

2 page PDF is available in Amharic, English and Tigrinya. See sidebar.

checking pulse and blood pressure
Photo by Fotolia/TNS (cc license).

Get Help With Quitting Smoking

Handout with information about quitlines: what a quitline is and contact information for different language lines. Geared towards cancer survivors, but contains information useful to a general audience.

PDFs are available in Amharic, Khmer (Cambodian), Spanish, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. See sidebar.

Photo by Boby (cc license)
Mom and Baby wearing medical masks

Swine Flu (H1N1)

Mom and Baby wearing medical masks
No swine flu, please. Photo by Austin Keys.

In 2009 the outbreak of disease in people caused by a new influenza virus of swine origin (H1N1) became a pandemic globally.  In 2010, the World Health Organization declared an end to the pandemic, but expect that the H1N1 virus will continue to spread for years to come, like a regular seasonal influenza virus. The following resources were developed as a response to the 2009 outbreak.

Flu

Immigrant and Refugee Health Resources - CDC
CDC’s page with flu information produced in languages common among the refugee communities in the US.

Flu Resources in Multiple Languages - MedlinePlus
This site has a variety of flu resources in multiple languages.

Public Health – Seattle & King County

Influenza Fact Sheets available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.

Preparedness comic book - Pandemic Flu
Targeting readers of all ages, this story tells the tale of a family’s experience with the 1918 influenza pandemic. It also explains what to expect in a severe pandemic and offers tips to help households prepare. The comic book is available online in PDF format and free hard copies are available to order. Available in 23 languages.

Swine Flu (H1N1)

In 2009, a new influenza virus of swine origin circulated in the United States and internationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the H1N1 virus that caused that pandemic is now a regular human flu virus that continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.  The current flu vaccine provides protection against the H1N1 strain.

For more information about this flu, please see the CDC website .

Harborview Medical Center – Swine Flu Videos

In an effort to reach the immigrant and refugee populations during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, some video resources were created to provide information in languages other than English.  These videos were done by Harborview Medical Center and narrated by medical interpreters at HMC.  These videos are provided for reference purposes and they are approximately 5-7 minutes in length (see sidebar).

The following is the English translation for the Swine Flu videos:

Hello I’m ________, an interpreter here at Harborview,

Many of you are aware there is a new cough/illness that people are talking about and calling “swine-flu” and sometimes “H1N1″. You may be confused about this and we want to tell you a few key points.”

For those of you who avoid pork and pork products the name seems misleading. This flu has nothing to do with contact with pigs.  You cannot get this from eating pork. The virus normally infects pigs, but somehow changed and was able to infect people. That is why it carries that name.

The sickness is caused by a virus that is very similar to the regular flu and often difficult to distinguish. The person can have cough, sneezing, sore throat, fevers, chills, and in some case nausea and vomiting or diarrhea. If you have these symptoms it could be swine flu or it might be regular flu or even just be a bad cold. The only way to tell is to do special tests, but not everyone needs these.

The infection is passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and breathing in the virus. You could also spread it by getting it on your hands and touching your mouth or nose or eyes without realizing it.  Therefore, washing your hands and covering your cough are the most important things you can do to prevent getting sick or giving it to your family and friends.

This can not be emphasized enough. Tell your family and friends to:

  • wash hands frequently
  • cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing or cough into your elbow like this,
  • keep sputum in tissues and in the trash,
  • keep sick family in rooms away from others. Especially keep sick people away from babies, old people, and people who are chronically ill. 

Theses are the reasons to come to see the doctor:

  • If you are having trouble breathing
  • If you have a cough and a high fever
  • If you are extremely, unusually tired
  • If you are unable to eat food or liquids without throwing up or having diarrhea

These symptoms are most dangerous to people over 65 or people who have diabetes, kidney, liver or other medical problems.

It is very important that you do not come to see your doctor for an unscheduled appointment unless you are seriously ill.  If many people who are not seriously ill come to the doctor, the doctor will not have the time she needs to take care of very sick patients. 

In order to protect you and others when you come to clinic, we would ask you to do the following things:

  • If you have a cough now, identify yourself to the front desk and put on a mask.
  • You will be asked to have your temperature taken quickly. Please let the staff known if you have been feverish at home.
  • Please do not be offended if you are asked to sit in isolation until we can evaluate you thoroughly.
  • We do not treat mild cases or cases that have been ongoing for several days. In this case we may give you medicine for comfort and then ask you to go home and stay as isolated as possible to allow your body to recover. Return only if you are unable to eat or drink, are having difficulty breathing, or are very ill.
  • Make sure we have a current phone number or means of contacting you so that we can tell you your test results or other information you need to know.
  • Send family or a designated friend to get you refills and Tylenol.

Most cases of swine flu in this country have been mild, and if we are careful we can limit the spread.

Thanks for your attention.

Related Websites with Translated Swine Flu Resources

ECHO - Minnesota Department of Public Health has created video, audio, print and other resources on H1N1 and Flu in multiple languages. 

MedlinePlus
Click on Health Topics to find H1N1 – currently only have Spanish translation.

Selected Patient Information in Asian Languages (SPIRAL) - Swine Flu: This site has a some additional links to Asian language resources.

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