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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

EVENING UPDATE: Carbon monoxide poisoning and proper use of 9-1-1



King County would like residents to keep four main points in mind overnight tonight and into the morning hours:

1) Residents must avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning by keeping grills and generators outside.

2) Only call 9-1-1 if you need immediate help from police, fire, or medics. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report power outages or road conditions.

3) Stay indoors and away from ice covered trees and power lines to avoid hazards from falling debris.

4) Shelters and warming centers are available throughout the county.

Carbon monoxide warnings

You can't see or smell carbon monoxide, but carbon monoxide poisoning can kill. Follow these tips to avoid accidental injury or death from carbon monoxide during a power outage or at any other time:

  • Only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents.
  • Never use a generator or portable propane heater indoors, in garages or carports.
  • Never cook or heat inside on a charcoal or gas grill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen suddenly and without warning. Physical symptoms may include splitting headache, nausea and vomiting, and lethargy and fatigue.

If you believe you could be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Call for medical help from a neighbor's home. The Fire Department will tell you when it is safe to re-enter your home.

If you have a power outage, use safe ways to stay warm. Find places where you can go to get warm, such as the home of friends and family with power. Many cities have opened centers where people can go during the day to stay warm. Center locations can be found at

Wear several layers of light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and blankets indoors. Close curtains and cover windows and doors with blankets. Everyone should try to stay together in one room, with the door closed, to keep in body heat.

Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they are elderly or if you think their power might be out. If you know someone who has lost electricity, invite them to your home to stay warm. Warn neighbors, friends, family and community groups about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep 9-1-1 clear for emergencies

King County is currently experiencing a high volume of 9-1-1 calls that do not consist of actual emergencies. Only call 9-1-1 if you need immediate help from police, fire, or medics. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report power outages or road conditions.

King County Roads

The King County Road Services Division reports road conditions continue to be challenging as snow and freezing rain continue to grip the region. This hazardous mix has resulted in the closure of more than 20 roads just in unincorporated areas of King County alone.

A coating of ice on trees is further complicating our travel picture. Road crews report the weight of the ice on vegetation is causing trees and branches to snap and fall onto roadways. The division notes the amount of storm-related debris over roadways is the worst seen in unincorporated areas of the county in many years. Motorists should be on the lookout for falling debris as well as ice on roads and use extreme caution when traveling, especially on roads in heavily wooded areas of the county.

Residents are also being advised to check storm drains near their property to make sure they are not clogged with snow and ice. Doing so will ensure proper drainage when temperatures warm up and the ice and snow begin to melt.

The Roads Division has an additional word of caution for residents. As tempting as it may be, icy neighborhood roads are no place for sledding. Serious injury can occur when sledders or vehicles lose control. Play it safe and keep winter fun away from roadways.

Residents can monitor the latest road closures and conditions at

Food safety

If power goes out where you live, keep food safe. Keep the doors closed on your refrigerators and freezers as much as possible. This keeps the cold air inside. A full freezer can stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day.

If you think the power will be out for several days, try to find some ice to pack inside your refrigerator. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and the refrigerator/freezer doors have been kept closed. Throw away foods that spoil easily (such as meat and fish) if they warm up above 41º F.

Frozen foods that remain frozen are OK to eat. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed (such as meat and fish), but are still cold or have ice crystals on them, use them as soon as possible. If potentially hazardous foods are thawed and are warmer than 41º F, throw them away.

For more information, visit

King County Operations: Some King County agencies are reporting altered operations, and it is essential that residents call ahead or check online for the service they are seeking before they leave the house. Updated closures are posted online in real time at We will send a comprehensive list of affected operations on Friday morning. Here is a list of operations that are currently affected:

  • Factoria Transfer Station: Closed
  • Public Health Centers: All Public Health Centers that have power will open at 10 a.m. and may have limited services on Friday. If you plan to get services at a Public Health Center or other Public Health location, please call before you leave home to find out if the service is available. Contact information is available on the Public Health website at
  • Garbage collection service disruptions: Disruptions in garbage collection are being reported in several areas of King County. Customers who are missed on their regular collection day this week are asked to secure their garbage and put it out for collection on their regular day next week. There are several companies providing garbage-collection services throughout King County, and residents are urged to contact their individual hauler for information:
  • Metro Transit: King County Metro Transit will continue with chained buses and snow routing on Friday, Jan. 20. Metro plans to operate the same level of service it has used since mid-week, with up to 30 routes canceled for Friday. If travel conditions improve more than expected, service on these routes could be restored. Before traveling, riders should check for the most current status of Metro service. Bus riders should sign up for Transit Alerts to receive notification of route cancellations or major reroutes, but also check the service status online before traveling at Customers can also call Metro's Customer Information Office at 206-553-3000.
  • Online Services Available: King County residents may be able to obtain some services online, such as pet licensing, car tabs, marriage licenses by mail, property tax payments, business licensing and more.

Warming Facilities Throughout King County

As warming centers open in King County, including cities within the county, the list will be updated online at

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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