The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What if 9-1-1 could call you?

It can! Cowlitz County has expanded its ability to provide emergency messages to the public. Using the Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS), local public safety officials can now call YOU directly with detailed instructions about what you should do during an emergency.

This technology allows our department to send an emergency message to land-line telephones in a specified geographic area using a recorded message. If no one answers at your home, the system is able to leave a message on your land-line telephone's voicemail.

Hazards that may result in the use of this system could include volcanic activity, chemical or biological hazards, nearby criminal activity or any event that poses an imminent danger to the health or safety of local citizens.

If you receive a call:

1.) DO NOT HANG UP. Some people mistake this warning call for a telemarketing call because it is automatically dialed and is a recorded message.

2.) LISTEN to the full alert and follow the instructions given.

3.) DO NOT CALL 9-1-1 unless you have an actual emergency at your location.

4.) STAY OFF THE PHONE during the emergency except to pass the message on to others who do not have a land-line telephone.

5.) TUNE INTO LOCAL RADIO OR TV to get more information, unless the order is to evacuate.

The Emergency Notification System does have limitations and may not reach everyone within its target audience.

The system cannot communicate with:

*Cell phones.

*Land-line telephone systems that require the caller to press a number, begin speaking or interact in any other way.

*TTY or TTD telephones for the deal or hard-of-hearing.

*Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service.

If you have any questions regarding the ECNS program, please feel free to call our office at (360) 577-3130.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Drop, Cover and Hold off on Triangle of Life

"Drop, Cover and Hold" is still the best method for earthquake safety in the United States and especially in our own quake-prone region. This recommendation comes from the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, in concurrence with the American Red Cross, FEMA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Unfortunately, e-mails have been circulating on the Internet incorrectly touting the "Triangle of Life" technique which allegedly use voids as a way to survive earthquakes. Simply put, the technique is not applicable for earthquake experiences in the United States. "Drop, Cover and Hold is the appropriate response to Earthquakes in the United States. We simply don't build structures the same way here as in other parts of the world." said King County Office of Emergency Management Director Robin Friedman. The "Triangle of Life" is not appropriate for use in the United States because the research used to illustrate the method was based on earthquake response and recovery in Turkey, a country very different from the United States when it comes to building standards, construction and engineering techniques, and building codes. Earthquakes in the United States do not typically result in total building collapse or "pancake." As a result, when earthquakes strike in the U.S., the safest thing for children and adults to do is "Drop, Cover and Hold" underneath a desk, table, or other sturdy strong surface. Since there is little chance of a building collapse in the U.S., there's no need to use the "void" provided by an object like a couch. "The Emergency Management community has worked for decades researching earthquake response and recovery throughout the world and gathering best practices," said Bill Steele, University of Washington Seismology Lab Coordinator. "Patented or not, we know what works. In the urgency of disaster, people need to instinctively know what to do. And the right message is to Drop, Cover and Hold." Added Friedman: "It is unfortunate that misinformation can spread so quickly online. I hope that people will instead use their networks to share the proper ‘Drop, Cover and Hold' procedure with the same enthusiasm to get information to the people they care most about."
To learn more about earthquake safety and mitigation, please visit For further information on flaws in the "Triangle of Life" theory, read this letter from the American Red Cross and an article from the Daily News.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A day to reflect...

Seven years have passed since the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many of us can recall exactly what we were doing on that day and how we felt. Though time heals the wounds, we must remain vigilant about being prepared for whatever emergencies we may face, both natural and man-made. On this day of remembrance, take a moment not only to remember those that lost their lives in the attacks, but to assess your readiness to handle such an event in your life. Does your family have an emergency plan? Do your children know who to call if they can't reach you? Taking a small measure of preparatory action today can reassure you and your family that you can exert a measure of control even in the face of disastrous events.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's a Weather Radio?

Weather Radios enable you to monitor weather-related forecasts,watches, and warnings 24-hours a day direct from the National Weather Service. Weather Radios can have a warning alarm feature, instantly alerting the listener to fast-breaking warning information specifically related to our region. The warning alarm operates in a muted mode and is activated by the local National Weather Service when a warning message is transmitted. Some models activate serial warning features for the impaired, and have a battery backup system in case of power outage.

The system is part of the Cowlitz County Emergency Alert "all-hazards" warning system (EAS), that is used not only for immediate flood and weather related events, but also hazards like volcanic activity, hazardous chemical accidents, AMBER child abduction alerts and secondary hazards from terrorism and earthquakes.

Under a 1975 White House policy statement, NOAA Weather Radio was designated the sole government operated radio system to provide hazard warning information direct to the American people. NOAA Weather Radio is the perfect complement to local broadcast weather news, as well as the Internet and other weather information sources. Weather radios are available at most radio electronic retailers and internet outlets. For additional information on NOAA Weather Radios please contact Cowlitz County Emergency Management at (360)577-3130 or visit

Monday, September 8, 2008

National Preparedness Month

September is….


Are you ready? September has been designated by the Homeland Security Department as National Preparedness Month. This is a nationwide coordinated effort held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management encourages you and your family to be prepared for disasters that may occur locally, nationally or globally. The following is a tip sheet to help families take the necessary steps to become more disaster resilient.

Get a Kit—Get a kit of emergency supplies that will allow you and your family to survive for at least 3 days following a major disaster. The kit should include basic items like water, food, battery-powered radio, flashlights and a first aid kit. For suggestions on making a kit, contact the Department of Emergency Management at (360) 577-3130 or go to

Make a Plan—Plan in advance what you and your family will do in an emergency. Your plan should include a communications plan, a meeting point, and instructions on sheltering-in-place or evacuating. Go to for more information and templates to get you started.

Be Informed—Learn more about the hazards that could affect your community and the appropriate responses to take. For more information on local hazards and emergency plans that have been established in the area, contact the Department of Emergency Management.

Get Involved—After preparing yourself and your family, take the next step: get training in first aid, CPR and emergency response. Contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.