The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Are you ready for winter driving?

This month marks the start of all kinds of winter weather. Any day could bring strong winds, poor visibility, ice, and snow on the roadway. Here’s what drivers can do to prepare:

Plan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily-traveled routes such as I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 Stevens Pass, and US 12 White Pass.

Carry chains - Washington law requires commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) to carry sufficient tire chains between Nov. 1 and April 1. This includes some larger passenger trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers. The WSP will have a special chain emphasis patrol in early November, to ensure commercial drivers have the proper number of chains required. WSP troopers will strictly enforce the Nov. 1 deadline. Failing to carry chains will cost heavy-truck drivers $155.

Know traction and chain requirements - Mountain pass traction and chain requirements are available on highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio. WSDOT advises drivers to program 530AM and 1610AM on your radio. When those advisories call for chains, drivers who don’t chain up will face a $500 penalty.

For more information on WSP chain requirements, WSDOT’s winter programs, a list of frequently asked questions, car emergency kits and ways to prepare your vehicle for winter, please visit At, drivers can look at weather forecasts and road temperatures throughout the state. Plan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily-traveled routes such as I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 Stevens Pass, and US 12 White Pass.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Disaster Denial

Just because you don’t want to think about it, doesn’t mean it won’t happen… According to Eric Holdeman, former director of Emergency Management for King County, there are four stages of Emergency Preparedness Denial. “One is, it won’t happen. Two is, if it does happen, it won’t happen to me. Three: if it does happen to me, it won’t be that bad. And four: if it happens to me and it’s bad, there’s nothing I can do to stop it anyway.” Sound familiar? Don’t despair, your head is not the only one buried in the proverbial sand.

In a September 2007 poll conducted by TIME magazine, it becomes readily apparent that the majority of the American population is grossly underprepared to deal with a disaster of any sort. Half of those surveyed indicated that they had personally experienced a natural disaster or public emergency. Only 16% however, felt that they were well prepared for the next one. Of the rest, over half justified their lack of preparedness by saying that they do not reside in a high risk area.

In fact, 91% of Americans live in places at a moderate-to-high risk of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, high-wind damage or terrorism, according to an estimate by the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. Society is skating a fine line between optimism and foolishness.

For a nation so distrustful of government, we still place a great deal of faith in its ability to rescue us—a faith hardly justified by the Katrina experience. As responsible citizens we can’t sit back and expect government agencies to provide for our needs, when we are capable of taking a few small steps to care for ourselves. A quote from Dr. Seuss comes to mind, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”

So, what does it all mean? The short answer is preparedness. The resounding tenet of emergency management is to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for 72-hours. The Department of Emergency Management website,, is a great resource for tips and ideas about being better prepared. To quote Kathleen Tierney, head of the Natural Hazards Center, “We as human societies have yet to understand that nature doesn’t care. And for that reason, WE must care.”