Stay safe and prepared during winter weather

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With temperatures plummeting potentially to single digits in the coming days, it’s important to be prepared and stay safe. 

While warming centers are open in the county to provide refuge from the cold, people can take a variety of precautions during this cold stretch

Find the latest on the winter weather shelters

Overnight warming shelters are opened when the temperature is predicted to be 33 degrees or lower (including wind chill) or when other conditions (snow, wind, flooding) make sleeping outdoors especially dangerous. Daytime warming centers are also open throughout the county. Unless otherwise noted, all sites are ADA accessible, allow service animals only, and are open to the general public.

The Father’s Heart in Oregon City provides a group overnight warming center, and will be open from 6 p.m. Jan. 11 to 7 a.m. Jan. 15. The county also works with several non-profit organizations to provide overnight motel stays for people who are experiencing homelessness who are especially vulnerable. People in need of such emergency shelter should call 211. County staff will work with 211 throughout the duration of the weather event to provide overnight stays, supplies and transportation.

The Father’s Heart is also seeking volunteers to work alongside staff to set up, welcome and support shelter guests. Sign up to become a volunteer.

Clackamas County funds six organizations to conduct homeless outreach. Outreach teams have access to cold weather supplies and food, and they provide timely information on how to access overnight warming. These teams also play a key role when flooding is forecasted on Johnson Creek. The county coordinates with 211 and outreach providers to connect with unsheltered people in need of safety from the elements and to support them in accessing shelter, including motel shelter. 

Be prepared

Here are tips to help ensure you are ready for extreme winter weather:

  • Follow the latest weather forecast from the National Weather Service
  • Sign up to receive life-saving information sent directly to your phone from Public Alerts
  • Pay attention to winter storm warnings and alerts and plan accordingly.
  • Pack a two-week emergency kit in case you’re stranded at home. Make sure you have enough food and water for every person in your household and pets for two weeks. Find out more information on what items to pack
  • Pack an emergency kit for your car.
  • Plan for a long-term power outage. In recent years, some county residents experienced power outages that lasted for days, so start gathering batteries, flashlights and other battery-operated items to survive the next outage. Learn how to prepare your home for a power outage
  • Get to know your neighbors now and plan to check on them during the next storm. It takes a community to survive disasters.

Expect treacherous roads, especially in the mountains

If you must drive in snow or icy conditions, check the Oregon Department of Transportation’s TripCheck website before you travel, and be sure to take an emergency kit with all the essentials in case you do get stuck. Follow these tips for driving safely in the snow.

Also be aware that roads around Mount Hood are very narrow and our crews cannot plow them if cars are parked along the road, creating a dangerous situation for travelers and people who live in the area by blocking emergency services from getting to the people who need it most.

Snow is expected to fall faster than we can plow it, and we cannot be everywhere at once. Only drive on familiar roads to reduce the risk of getting stuck and stranded. We prioritize clearing emergency routes and the most traveled roads. Read more about our road maintenance priorities in winter weather.

If you encounter high water on roads, do not attempt to drive through it. Turn around and find another route.

When you see safety concerns on the road, please report them online. Alert our team immediately if you see evidence of landslides or debris flows in wildfire-affected areas after heavy rain.

Stay warm

When heating your home, only use heaters that are built for indoor use. Do not use outdoor heaters, BBQs or your oven to heat the inside of your home. The reason? Carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use charcoal/gas grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors and never use a gas range or oven for heating.

If you have a generator to use when power is out, be sure it’s only used outdoors and at least 25 feet from open doors and vents. 

Stay healthy

Cold weather can lead to frostbite, other health issues and even death. Many people die each year from heart attacks brought on by shoveling snow. Pace yourself and get your neighbors involved.  

And finally, limit your time outside and dress warmly.

Garbage and recycling

Snow and ice also may delay local garbage companies from picking up your trash and recycling on its normal day. You can check your company’s webpage for the latest information.

The Metro South Transfer Station/Household Hazardous Waste Facility and the county’s transfer station outside Sandy may be impacted due to winter weather this weekend. It’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm.

And finally, find more information on the Clackamas County Facebook page, follow us at @ClackamasCounty on Twitter and visit our website for updates during the upcoming winter storm.

Department Staff
Scott Anderson
Clackamas County PIO