VashonBePrepared: As season’s first freeze arrives, stay safe

Tips to stay safe in colder wet weather, tips for turkey roasting, current COVID advice from local experts.

Editor’s note: This public health report by VashonBePrepared is available in Spanish here.

Overnight freezing temperatures arrived on Vashon for the first time this season, following that very windy and wet atmospheric-river event.

VashonBePrepared has a collection of cold-snap pointers to help you stay safe and comfortable.

People: Dress warmly in layers. Check on family members and neighbors who may be vulnerable to cold temperatures — especially if households include people who are very young, very old, or mobility-impaired.

Pets: Bring pets inside during cold snaps. Provide weather shelters for livestock. Keep water troughs full and break surface ice so livestock will have access to the water.

Pipes: 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. Drain and put away garden hoses. If your water heater is in a colder space like the garage, wrap it with a blanket of insulation.

Plants: To stave off frost damage, cover sensitive plants with straw, mulch, or frost-protective covers. Bring plants in pots or baskets into the garage or shed. 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 the flammable build-up of creosote. Check that the air vents are open. Change or clean furnace filters. Look for drafts and seal them with caulk, foam outlet gaskets, weather-stripping, and draft stoppers.

Vehicles: Give your car its seasonal winter checkup before snow and ice arrive. Get your car battery tested to make sure it holds a full charge. Check and fill the radiator coolant. Inspect 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 plus extra batteries, reflective triangles and/or road flares, and traction mat, sand, or cat litter. Make sure your spare tire is fully inflated, and double-check that you can find your jack and lug wrench.

Car kit: You never know when you might need to shelter in place in your car because of a breakdown on the road, or need to use your car to stay warm during a ferry delay. Of course, never run the vehicle in an enclosed space. Do check your car “go bag” to make sure you’ve got a set of warm clothes, boots, hand warmers, first-aid kit, blankets, water and snacks. Don’t forget a phone charger and cord to keep your cell phone battery topped up.

Same-day COVID Vaccination Appointments

Vashon Pharmacy now has same-day appointments for COVID and flu vaccinations. Patients 12 and older can get same-day service as long as slots are still open on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Appointments for children younger than 12 are available on Fridays, a measure to make the most efficient use of COVID vaccine supplies. You can also drop in without an appointment and fill out a paper information sheet, but that may mean waiting longer for your inoculation. Appointments save time – for you and the pharmacy. Make your vaccination appointment online, including same-day appointments, at

This Week’s Tip: Keep Your Turkey Safe

Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella are not just weird germ rarities that escaped from the TV show “House.” They pose real risks for illness if food isn’t handled correctly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say one in six Americans will get some type of food-borne illness during the year. Here’s a CDC guide to being safe with turkey (and other traditional holiday foods):

COVID Risk Level: Holding Stead at Basic

In our tri-county area, the hospitalization rate continues to hold steady. The level remains well below the Elevated Risk benchmark 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 been holding steady or even trending down.

That’s good because those metrics have been rising in other regions of the country as our local public health experts monitor for signs of the predicted annual winter COVID surge. There are some early signs of a coming spike based on rising cases in some areas of the country. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported a 10% increase in cases in one week, reversing a months-long trend of declining case rates.

Tri-County Methodology

This Basic Risk Level assessment is based on data from the state Department of Health’s COVID dashboard.

The risk estimate has been customized to Vashon’s particular situation because it takes into account that Vashon is in a three-county COVID exposure pool —King, Pierce, and Kitsap. One-third of the island population takes a round-trip ferry ride to the mainland each day. Therefore, the metrics from the three counties are blended to take into account the island’s regional COVID exposure risk. For more information on the methodology behind Vashon’s COVID Risk Advice Tool, please visit online.

Basic Risk Level Advice

  • Wear an N95 mask indoors in public if exposed to COVID, and/or at risk for health or other reasons, and/or live or spend time with someone at high risk.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date, including boosters.
  • Maintain good ventilation at home and at work.
  • Avoid those with suspected or confirmed COVID.
  • If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with those at high risk for 10 days.
  • Always home-test if you have symptoms.
  • If you test positive, isolate for at least 5 days and until you test negative.
  • If immunocompromised, discuss additional prevention actions with your healthcare provider.

For more information, visit VashonBePrepared’s Facebook page, or visit its website at