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Preparing for Winter Storms

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Winter Weather Preparedness

Winter weather in the South Sound can be very unpredictable. Some years have been more devastating than others, with record snowfall, windstorms, and flooding of historic proportions. Other years, we find ourselves amidst a typical rainy, Northwest winter. With such instability in weather patterns, winter weather preparedness is something we encourage all of our residents to partake in because the unexpected is always a possibility. 

Before the Storm Preparations

  • Keep emergency kits handy.
  • Unplug sensitive electronic equipment such as computers.
  • Know what natural gas appliances will continue to operate if there is an outage:
    • Natural gas water heaters
    • Gas log fireplaces
    • Gas ovens and ranges (if there is electric ignition, have matches nearby to light the flame)
    • Natural gas barbecues (remember to never bring a portable grill indoors)
  • If using a generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare a 72-Hour Kit

While at home during a storm, the primary concerns are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. The National Weather Service recommends that the following supplies be available for winter storm situations:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
  • Extra food and water. Have high energy food, such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra medicine and baby items.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Heating fuel. Refuel before you are empty. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm.
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove, space heater. (Be sure to use each heating item properly to prevent a fire, and make sure there is proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.)
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm. Test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of food, water and shelter.

During the Storm

  • Keep track of the storm as it develops.
  • If there is a power outage:
    • Turn off lights and appliances.
    • Leave one light switch on so you’ll know when your power is back on.
    • Use flashlights instead of candles.
    • Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed, and open them only when it is necessary.
    • Never use a gas range, indoor cooker, charcoal or gas barbecue for heating.
    • Close curtains and drapes to keep the heat indoors.
    • Wear warm clothes in layers.
    • If the indoor temperature drops to 25 degrees or below, open your faucets so there is a constant drip to prevent pipes from freezing.

Report a Power Outage

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is the electric utility provider for the Tumwater area. For 24/7 access to real-time power outage information, including estimates of when the power will come back on to your home or business, view the outage map. To report a power outage, visit or call 1-888-225-5773. 


Call Public Works Operations & Maintenance Division at (360) 754-4150.



Resource Links

The safety tips are courtesy of Puget Sound Energy. For additional information, including a checklist for multi-day survival packs, please refer to the following websites: