VashonBePrepared: Stay sane as the first frost of the season arrives
Tips for staying safe in colder, wet weather, turkey roasting tips, up-to-date COVID advice from local experts.
Editor’s Note: This VashonBePrepared public health report is available in Spanish here.
After that very windy and wet atmospheric flow event, Vashon reached freezing temperatures overnight for the first time this season.
VashonBePrepared has a collection of cold snap hints to help you stay safe and comfortable.
Persons: Dress warm in layers. Check family members and neighbors who may be vulnerable to cold temperatures — especially if there are households with the very young, very old, or those with mobility challenges.
Pets: Bring pets indoors during cold snaps. Provide weather shelters for livestock. Keep the water troughs full and break the surface ice so the livestock have access to the water.
Tube: Turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and your irrigation system. Drain the water by opening a faucet at the lowest point in the system. Empty and put away garden hoses. If your water heater is in a colder space like the garage, wrap it with an insulating blanket.
Plant: To ward off frost damage, cover delicate plants with straw, mulch, or antifreeze covers. Bring plants into the garage or shed in pots or baskets. Add a heat lamp to greenhouses or cold frames.
Heat: If you haven’t already done so, perform annual maintenance on your home’s heat sources. Inspect chimneys and wood stoves and have them cleaned of combustible creosote deposits. Check if the ventilation openings are open. Change or clean oven filter. Be aware of drafts and seal them with caulk, foam outlet gaskets, weatherstripping, and draft stoppers.
Vehicles: Give your car the seasonal winter check before the snow and ice arrive. Have your car battery tested to make sure it is fully charged. Check and top up radiator coolant. Check and tighten belts and hoses. Change the wiper blades. Pack jumper cables, a shovel, an ice scraper, chains, a tarp, a safety vest, work gloves, a flashlight or headlamp, as well as extra batteries, reflective triangles and/or road flares, and a traction mat, sand, or cat litter. Make sure your spare tire is fully inflated and check if you can locate your jack and wheel wrench.
Car kit: You never know when you might need to shelter in your car because of a breakdown on the road or use your car to keep warm during a ferry delay. Of course, never drive the vehicle in an enclosed space. Check your car bag to make sure you have warm clothing, boots, hand warmers, first aid kit, blankets, water and snacks. Don’t forget a phone charger and cable to charge your phone’s battery.
Same day COVID vaccination appointments
Vashon Pharmacy now has same day appointments for COVID and flu vaccinations. Patients 12 years and older can be treated on the same day as long as the time slots are still open from Tuesday to Saturday. Appointments for children under 12 are available on Fridays, a measure to make the most efficient use of COVID vaccine supplies. You can come by without an appointment and fill out a paper information sheet, but you may have to wait longer for your vaccination. Appointments save time – for you and the pharmacy. Schedule your vaccination appointment online, including same-day appointments, at VashonPharmacy.com/COVID-vaccine.
This week’s tip: keep your turkey safe
Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella aren’t just weird germ rarities that escaped from the TV show House. They pose a real risk of disease if food is not handled properly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that one in six Americans will get some type of foodborne illness during the year. Here’s a CDC guide on how to safely handle turkey (and other traditional holiday foods): bit.ly/CDCholidayTurkey.
COVID Risk Level: Stick to Basic
In our border triangle, the hospitalization rate remains stable. The level remains well below the increased risk guideline of three to five COVID hospitalizations per week per 100,000 population. In each of the three counties, the case rate and test positivity rate have remained stable or even declined.
That’s good, because those metrics have been rising in other regions of the country as our local public health experts watch for signs of the projected annual COVID spike over the winter. There are some early signs of an impending surge based on rising cases in some areas of the country. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Health reported a 10% increase in cases in one week, reversing a month-long trend of falling case numbers.
This basic risk assessment is based on data from the State Department of Health’s COVID Dashboard.
The risk estimate has been adjusted for Vashon’s particular situation as it takes into account that Vashon is in a three-county COVID exposure pool – King, Pierce and Kitsap. A third of the island’s population takes a daily round trip ferry trip to the mainland. Therefore, the metrics from the three counties are blended to account for the island’s regional COVID exposure risk. More information on the methodology behind Vashon’s COVID Risk Advice Tool is available online.
Basic risk level advice
- Wear an N95 mask in public if you are exposed to COVID and/or at risk for health or other reasons and/or live or spend time with someone at high risk.
- Keep immunizations up to date, including booster shots.
- Ensure good ventilation at home and at work.
- Avoid people with suspected or confirmed COVID.
- If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with high-risk individuals for 10 days.
- Always do a home test if you have symptoms.
- If your test is positive, isolate for at least 5 days and until you get a negative test.
- If you are immunocompromised, discuss additional preventive measures with your doctor.
For more information, visit VashonBePrepared’s Facebook page or visit the website at vashonbeprepared.org.