She's a tough one to figure out, that La Niña. The climate phenomenon that historically brings wetter- and cooler-than-normal winter conditions to the Northwest was initially forecast early this year. Then last September, climatologists backed off that prediction. Now, they say, it looks like she may indeed be on her way, although in a weakened, short-lived form.
So what's all that mean to you and your home? Even if we do end up with a mostly "neutral" winter, it doesn't necessarily mean "calm," particularly when it comes to windstorms. Both the ferocious 1993 Inauguration Day and 2006 Hanukkah Eve windstorms happened during neutral years.
To help keep your home and family safe when the wind howls, check out this
windstorm prep video plus our top tips (below) from our Claims team.
Before the windstorm hits:
- Cut dead or rotting tree branches to prevent them from falling on your property or your neighbor's property.
- Secure awnings, canopies (including truck canopies), garbage cans, barbecues, and other items that could blow away.
- If you rely on a well (and an electric pump) for your water, store some water beforehand in gallon containers.
- Make sure you have an old-school corded landline phone somewhere in the house. Cordless phones won't work if the power goes out, and without power to charge it, your cell phone battery soon will run low.
- Replace batteries in flashlights, portable radios, and other important devices.
- Make sure your family has a three- or four-day emergency supply of nonperishable food, water, medication, and other essentials.
- Try this clever hack to see if your frozen food could be spoiled after a power outage. Freeze an open can of water, then set a quarter on the top. If you return home after a suspected power outage, check to see if the quarter is sitting at the bottom of the can. If so, it means the power was out long enough that your food thawed, and it should be thrown out. If the quarter is still on top of the ice or made it only to the middle of the can, it means the power did not go out long enough to completely thaw the food.
- Consider buying a generator and learn how to use it properly.
If you lose power:
- Never use a camp stove, barbecue, or gas lantern inside the house. You risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Throw away food in your refrigerator if the temperature inside climbs above 40 degrees for more than two hours. A full, unopened freezer will keep contents safe for 48 hours. (See
foodsafety.gov for details.)
- Unplug TVs, computers, and appliances to prevent surges when power is restored.
- Choose battery or crank lanterns instead of candles for light. Candles, even under normal circumstances, are a leading cause of house fires. If you must use a candle, be sure to burn it only in a stable, noncombustible container.
- If you're driving and encounter a traffic light that's lost power, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
If your home suffers damage:
- Don't attempt to make any repairs during the storm. Wait for the winds to die down, and use extreme caution.
- If a tree falls on your home, avoid entering the area if the roof appears unstable. Don't risk injury to salvage belongings from a damaged room.
- During severe weather events, PEMCO stands ready to handle customer claims and answer calls all day and all night. If you need help, call