Firefighters with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue are gearing up for a blast of winter weather expected to bring unusually cold temperatures, snow, and ice to the region. At the same time, residents are encouraged to do their part by preparing themselves and their families for the changing conditions.
Winter weather can create dangerous situations, bringing heavy winds, freezing temperatures, power failures, and icy or flooded roadways. TVF&R is prepared for an increase in calls for service including motor vehicle crashes, falls, medical events, and home-heating related fires during inclement weather. In the event of exceedingly high call volumes, emergency calls may be prioritized, and response times may fluctuate depending on available resources.
TVF&R is prepared to respond by taking the following actions:
- Staffing additional ambulance units to respond to calls for service
- Ensuring all engines, trucks, and emergency vehicles are equipped with tire chains
- Ensuring firefighters have access to snow shovels, ice melt, ice scrapers, deicing spray, and boot chains
- Preparing to switch from large fire engines and trucks to more maneuverable vehicles such as brush rigs and other four-wheel drive vehicles
- Assisting Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (9-1-1 dispatch center) with prioritizing calls in TVF&R’s service area if high call volume occurs
This is also a good time to prepare for power outages and other problems that happen during the winter months:
- Gather necessary supplies including flashlights, extra batteries, water, food, blankets, cell phone (vehicle) charger, manual can opener, battery-operated clock, as well as necessary medications.
- Use flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and light sticks as emergency lighting in your home instead of candles to reduce fire risk.
- If using your fireplace to heat your home, remember that fireplace ashes can remain warm enough to re-ignite and start a fire for several days. Leave ashes in your fireplace for several days or dispose of them in a metal container with a lid outside your home and wet them down before disposal. Never place ashes in a grocery sack or other combustible container.
- Prepare your vehicle. Inspect and change fluids (oil, antifreeze, wiper washer, etc.) and ensure your tire tread and brakes are in good working order. Keep your fuel tank at least half-filled and have emergency supplies (flares, blanket, water, cell phone) on hand in case you're stranded. Avoid driving when roads are treacherous.
- Never use outdoor equipment including propane or kerosene heaters or charcoal barbecues inside a home due to the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that claims hundreds of lives every year.
- Gas-fueled generators must be used outside in a well-ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully before using a generator.
- Exposed pipes in an attic, basement or crawl space can also be at risk of freezing. Leaving a trickle of water running from a faucet farthest away from the water meter can be helpful. You can also wrap insulating material or electrical wire heating wrap around the pipes.