Public agencies have been getting the word out that people need to take precautions. Among their suggestions:
Homes should be prepared for power failures with a flashlight, fresh batteries, candles, matches and a manual can opener. A wind-up clock is smart, too. Never use fuel-powered energy or heat in an enclosed space or indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.
Have a fully charged cell phone. Know how to open garage doors manually. Assist or check on others who may be vulnerable.
Clear your sidewalks and driveways, but don’t put snow into alleys and streets. It just moves the problem from one spot to another and is considered unneighborly. Help the elderly and people with disabilities.
Water pipes can freeze. Make sure they are insulated in cold spaces. Leave a faucet dripping to prevent ice buildup. Never thaw pipes with an open flame. Know where the main shutoff is in case of a break. Seal off cracks and air leakage along the foundation and into the basement.
Bring pets and other animals indoors, or make sure they have adequate shelter and unfrozen food and water if left outside.
Motorists are advised to slow down and carry winter supplies such as emergency food, water, sand, a shovel and flares or reflectors.
Know the current conditions and weather before leaving.
Call 511 in Washington or Idaho, or (800) 695-ROAD in Washington and (888) 432-7623 in Idaho, for travel information.
On the Web, go to wsdot.wa.gov or itd.idaho.gov and follow the links. For mobile Web browsers in Idaho, go to 511.idaho.gov.
Washington and Idaho have networks of traffic cameras. Real-time traffic information is available in the Spokane area at www.srtmc.org.
Customized weather forecasts are available from the National Weather Service at www.wrh.noaa.gov/otx. Point your cursor at your location on the map and click.
Be equipped with adequate traction devices.
Make sure your vehicle has adequate coolant protection and the battery is in working order.
Clear snow and ice from all windows before you drive.
Slow down – don’t try to out-drive the conditions.
Leave plenty of room for stopping.
Don’t follow too closely, and leave at least 200 feet of room for maintenance vehicles and plows. Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally would.
Never pass a snowplow on the right. (There may be a blade extension or compressed, rolling snow.)
Don’t get overconfident in your four-wheel-drive vehicle or with studded tires.
Watch out for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the road is in good condition.
Don’t use cruise control.
Compiled by Mike Prager, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 459-5454.