Although we (thankfully) escape the threat of hurricanes, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are no strangers to strong and damaging winds. Each fall and winter, multiple Pacific low-pressure systems impact the Pacific Northwest producing strong winds up to 60 mph, and causing damage and power outages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service.
Some Facts About High Winds
- Falling trees or blowing debris cause most fatalities and cause severe damage to buildings and vehicles.
- Power pole and line damage cause widespread power outages.
- Failure of roof cover and structures can lead to additional damage and entry of wind and rain into a home or business. Garage doors are the weakest point in the outer structure of a house.
- Exterior, load-bearing walls of buildings can fail resulting in collapse of the roof.
- Weathered, loose window frames are exceptionally vulnerable during severe windstorms.
- Light metal buildings can totally collapse. Less sturdy shelters, such as bus stop shelters, are vulnerable and are probably not safe for taking cover.
- While a structure may be generally sound, broken windows can cause injures inside and outside the building and extensive damage to building contents.
Before High Winds
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit. It should be portable and prevent water and pest damage.
- If you have a home generator, be sure you know how to properly site it, operate it, and store any needed fuel. Review instructions, inspect and test your generator before storm season arrives.
- Create a family emergency preparedness kit.
- Discuss and conduct emergency drills with your family in your home.
- Complete a home safety evaluation and take steps to make your home and neighborhood safer before the storm occurs.
- Identify who in your neighborhood may need special assistance.
- Determine what your neighborhood resources may be to help each other in an emergency.
During High Winds
- Above all, don’t panic. Take quick action to protect yourself and others.
- Turn off the stove if you’re cooking when the power goes out, and turn off other gas appliances.
- If you are indoors, move away from windows or other objects that could fall, and stay on lower floors in a multi-story home.
- If you are outdoors, move into a building and away from trees, power poles and other objects that could fall. Stay away from any downed power or utility lines.
- If you are driving, pull off the road and stop away from trees or power poles. If possible, walk into a safe building.
- Listen to your car or battery powered-radio for emergency instructions.
After High Winds
- Check yourself and those around you for injuries.
- If you can do so without delay, put on a coat, sturdy shoes, leather gloves protective eyewear and a helmet (safety helmet, bicycle or motorcycle helmet). These items will help to protect you as you evacuate and if you go to help others.
- Carefully evacuate damaged buildings. Watch for dangerous broken objects and falling debris.
- Provide assistance to others if you can do so, especially the elderly, disabled or small children.
- Monitor your battery-operated radio or weather radio. Radio stations will broadcast what to do, the location of emergency shelters, medical aid stations and the extent of the damage.