Soon it will be that time of year when we start hearing terms like “freezing rain,” “icy conditions,” and “winter storm watch” from our local weather man. These warnings shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s important to stay informed and be prepared for dangerous road conditions, freezing temperatures, and accumulation of snow.
At Panorama, our Operations Team prepares all year for winter conditions. Preparation includes replenishing supplies and repairing machinery in the warmer months, as well as monthly meetings centered on incident preparedness beginning in September. As the days get shorter and the temperature begins to drop, our most important preparation task becomes staying up-to-date on local weather forecasts. We receive weather updates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as Thurston County. Any pertinent information received is broadcast to our residents so they can stay informed and be prepared.
In the event of accumulated snow, our crew goes to work plowing and de-icing Panorama roads. Severe storms, such as we experienced this January, call for a system of triage. The number one concern, when it comes to clearing our roads, is making sure emergency vehicles can get around Panorama campus. Common walkways and building entrances are also de-iced to help prevent falls.
Depending on the severity of a snow and ice storm, the Panorama Storm Support Team may be activated to assist in ensuring the comfort and safety of fellow residents. This is especially useful when power outages are in effect, as warming centers and, in some cases, sleeping arrangements will be set up for residents who need such assistance.
During a weather emergency, our Situational Alert and Response Assistant (SARA) system will make automated phone calls to every independent household on campus, providing information on the status of the emergency and reminding residents of their on-campus assistance options. Our Social Services department and Urgent Response Aides will perform “Well Checks”, or house calls, on residents who cannot be reached by phone.
Of course every storm is different, which is why we are constantly reviewing our Storm Response plans and educating ourselves about current and near future weather conditions.
Tips and Tricks
It’s important to remember that everyday conveniences may not be accessible during a storm. Here are some tips on how to make sure you’re prepared for accumulated snow and icy conditions:
- Have plenty of salt or deicer on-hand during winter months so you can ensure your private walkway and driveway are safe
- Be very cautious of vigorous outdoor activities, such as shoveling snow. Cold weather can put an added strain on the back and heart which is why activities such as shoveling snow are not recommended for seniors.
- If you do decide to take on this task, be sure to pace yourself and take frequent breaks, keep knees slightly bent, and push the snow; do not lift it.
- Avoid doing such tasks alone.
- Dress in light layers both indoors and outside.
- Drink plenty of water, as cold, dry weather can increase dehydration
- Always have an emergency kit on-hand.
- Disconnect hoses and cover outdoor water spigots to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Avoid driving if the roads are affected.
- If you must drive, leave extra early in order to have plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Use your headlights no matter what time of day it is.
- Leave ample distance between your vehicle and those around you.
- Slow down when approaching off-ramps, corners, and shady spots.