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Winter Storm Pounds Pacific Northwest

The American Red Cross is coming to the aid of people in the Pacific Northwest after a powerful winter storm dropped several feet of snow and knocked out power to thousands of residents there.

In Vernonia, Oregon, the storm took out power for the entire town of 2,300 people. The Red Cross is opening warming shelters and is ready to distribute hot meals and clean-up and comfort items to people affected by the storm.

Warmer air is expected to move into the area over the next several days, which could cause flooding as the snow pack melts. The Red Cross is working with emergency managers and is putting staff and equipment in place to help should the storm cause additional problems.

The huge winter storm is moving inland and is expected to produce heavy snow and rain into next week across the Rockies and down into northern California. The Red Cross has steps people can take to be safe during this strong storm:

Winter Storm Safety Checklist

If you must go outside, wear layered lightweight clothing which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs. Other safety tips include:

  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.
  • If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must ...
    • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
    • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
    • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If your power is out, do not use candles for lighting. Use flashlights only.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside your home, including in the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
  • Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.

More information on how to stay safe this winter is available on the Red Cross web site.