The following are tips from East Pierce Fire and Rescue to help prepare for cold weather emergencies and possible power outages.
• Keep fuel in your vehicle.
Without electricity, gas stations are closed and those stations with power have long lines of people waiting for fuel. Whenever possible, keep the tank in at least one vehicle no less than half full.
• Keep enough food, water and cash on hand to last three days.
Every family should have at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, be sure to have cans of Sterno on hand.
• Ask your physician or pharmacist about stocking up and storing prescription medications.
• Without power, the cash machines don’t work and merchants cannot take credit cards. Be sure you have enough cash available to purchase additional food, water and fuel.
• Establish an emergency support program in your neighborhood.
Citizens with special needs are particularly vulnerable during power outages. The elderly, those confined to bed or a wheelchair and those who rely on medical equipment that requires electricity to operate may need extra assistance during an emergency.
Neighbors who do not speak English may also need your help.
Find out if there are neighbors who have special needs and have a plan to check on them.
More information on establishing a neighborhood program is available through Pierce County Neighborhood Emergency Teams (PC-NET) at 253-798-2751.
• Expect slower response times.
During a disaster, residents should be prepared in case it takes longer than usual for emergency crews to respond to calls. For all major events, East Pierce Fire and Rescue establishes an emergency command center that prioritizes calls, sending crews to those in the most need. However, even with all personnel and volunteers on duty, crews can be swamped.
In addition, emergency units responding to calls during severe weather are sometimes forced to take alternative routes because of road conditions, downed trees and power lines, effecting response times.
All residents should be prepared with a first aid kit, a first aid manual and extra medicine for family members.
The firefighters recommend all citizens learn first aid and CPR. Monthly classes are offered by the fire department free of charge to East Pierce residents. Call 253-863-1800 for a schedule or visit the East Pierce Web site at www.eastpiercefire.org.
For more information on how to prepare for any kind of emergency, visit these Web sites: Red Cross at www.redcross.org and the Pierce County Emergency Management at www.co.pierce.wa.us.
If you have additional questions, call East Pierce Fire and Rescue at 253-863-1800.