Thursday, December 11, 2014 - Page updated at 12:10 a.m.

Winter storms

Preparing for a winter storm

Assemble a disaster-supply kit.

• Have a corded telephone or a charged cell phone available: Cordless phones don't work without power.

• Have an alternative heat source.

• Consider purchasing a generator. Operate it only outside in a well-ventilated place.

• Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic, insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather stripping to windows and doors.

• Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could damage your home or other structures during a storm.

• Consider purchasing a pump to remove water.

• Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. -- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

What to do if the power goes out

• Turn off lights and electrical appliances, except for the refrigerator and freezer.

• Unplug computers to protect them from possible surges when power is restored.

• Leave one lamp on so you know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.

• Never use gas ovens, barbecues or portable propane or kerosene heaters for indoor heating: They use oxygen and create carbon monoxide that can cause suffocation.

• A refrigerator freezer will keep food frozen for up to a day without power. A separate, fully loaded freezer will keep food frozen for two days.

• Use an ice chest packed with ice to keep food cold. Buy dry ice to save frozen food.

How to stay safe when the power goes out

Source: King County, Seattle Times archives

Winter driving tips

Snow in the Puget Sound region is often wet and slick. Take extra care when driving:

• Before leaving home, check traffic and weather reports on TV, radio or websites. Statewide travel alerts and road conditions:

• Clear snow and ice from car surfaces before driving. Snow on the hood can blow toward the windshield and block your view.

• Keep safety equipment, spare parts and food and water in the car. Keep your cellphone fully charged.

• Keep your fuel tank at least half full. Make sure your wiper-fluid reservoir isn't running low.

• Drive with headlights on.

• Slow down. If possible, avoid driving altogether.

• Even when roads are dry, watch out for icy bridges.

• Stay at least 15 car-lengths (200 feet) back from maintenance vehicles and plows, and don't pass them on the right.

• Don't use cruise control.

• Use brakes sparingly to avoid skidding.

• Don't pump anti-lock brakes to stop.

• If you need to pull over, the State Patrol asks you to stay with your vehicle, where you'll be safer. Call for help or hang a colorful piece of cloth from your window or antenna.

More winter driving tips at:

How to recover from a rear-wheel skid

More winter weather resources

Take Winter By Storm: Inclement weather preparedness tips and resources for Western Washington

How to protect pipes in cold weather

Snow and ice removal plan for unincorporated King County

Snowplow and sanding route plan for city of Seattle