The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm a Prepper, He's a Prepper

Wouldn't you like to be a prepper too? I just noticed that the Newsweek article I referenced yesterday was featured on MSN's homepage this afternoon. I just wanted to point out that you saw it here FIRST. (Well, technically you would have seen it on Newsweek first, but still...we're cutting edge here!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Rise of the Preppers

Here is a link to an interesting article about preparedness that I found on Newsweek.com regarding the new age of preparedness. Being prepared for disaster isn't just for weird gun- enthusiasts that live off the grid---it's for everyone! I found the article interesting and I hope you do as well. I don't necessarily like the label "Prepper" as it gives me a visual of tucked-in polo shirts and pleated shorts, but I like what it represents.

Snow Update

From National Weather Service PDX
..WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM PST THIS EVENING FOR THE GREATER PORTLAND AND VANCOUVER METRO AREA...THE LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER VALLEY...THE INTERSTATE 5 CORRIDOR IN COWLITZ COUNTY...AND THE CENTRAL WILLAMETTE VALLEY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PORTLAND HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM PST THIS EVENING.

* TIMING...SNOW WILL CONTINUE INTO THE EARLY EVENING HOURS BEFORE
TAPERING OFF OR CHANGING TO RAIN BY 8 PM THIS EVENING.

* SNOW WILL BE THE PRIMARY TYPE OF PRECIPITATION INITIALLY...
POSSIBLY CHANGING TO SLEET...FREEZING OR RAIN BEFORE TAPERING TO
RAIN SHOWERS LATER THIS EVENING.

* ACCUMULATIONS...WILL GENERALLY RANGE FROM 1 TO 4 INCHES ACROSS
THE ADVISORY AREA. THE BEST CHANCE FOR GREATER THAN 2 INCHES OF
ACCUMULATION WILL GENERALLY BE WEST OF THE INTERSTATE 5
CORRIDOR.

* THE SNOW WILL IMPACT THE EVENING RUSH HOUR COMMUTE...RESULTING
IN SLICK ROADWAYS AND REDUCED VISIBILITY UNTIL PRECIPITATION
TAPERS OFF OR CHANGES TO RAIN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

Make Preparedness Your Resolution


Ahhh...the end of the year. A time to reflect on the past 365 days and gauge your progress as a successful contributor to the human race. If you are reading this blog, then you are already pretty awesome (yay you!). If, however, you are reading this blog and wondering how you can be an even better prepared citizen, you're in luck. One of the best things that you can do for yourself, your family, and your community is to be prepared for emergencies. Taking a few simple steps today, can set off a butterfly effect of safety and efficiency tomorrow. Just think, if every citizen was prepared for storms, earthquakes, power outages etc, events such as these would be more like an adventure, not a disaster. Check out our website here for preparedness info and don't forget to spread the word. Setting a good example is, much like pink eye, highly contagious (but in a good way, not a gross way, like pink eye). That may have been a poor metaphor. At any rate, rather than making a resolution that will end in failure, tears and/or large helpings of ice cream, resolve to be better prepared in 2010. I know you can do it!

Weather Alert


According to the National Weather Service Portland, our area may receive some wintry precipitation later this afternoon. They anticipate that the precipitation will begin as snow and may transition to sleet or freezing rain in the late afternoon, then transition back into just rain in the early evening. For more information check out the National Weather Service website.

Being Prepared Saves Lives

Just a timely reminder to make sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit in your car. And also....be wary of computers, they're just biding their time until they overthrow the humans. I'm just kidding. Or am I?

Nevada couple stranded 3 days after GPS leads them astray
Associated Press / December 29, 2009

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - A Nevada couple letting their sport utility vehicle’s navigation system guide them through the high desert of eastern Oregon got stuck in snow for three days when the GPS unit sent them down a remote forest road.

On Sunday, atmospheric conditions apparently changed enough for their GPS-enabled cellphone to get a weak signal and relay coordinates to a dispatcher, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said. “GPS almost did ’em in and GPS saved ’em,’’ Evinger said. “It will give you options to pick the shortest route. You certainly get the shortest route. But it may not be a safe route.’’
Evinger said a Lake County deputy found the couple in the Winema-Fremont National Forest outside the small town of Silver Lake on Sunday afternoon and pulled their four-wheel-drive Toyota Sequoia out of the snow with a winch.

John Rhodes, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhodes, 67, made it home safely to Reno, Evinger said. The couple was well-equipped for winter travel, carrying food, water, and warm clothes, the sheriff said. “Their statement was being prepared saved their life,’’ Evinger said.

The couple had been in Portland and followed their GPS as it directed them south on US Highway 97 to Oregon Highway 31, which goes through Silver Lake and Lakeview before connecting with US Highway 395 to Reno, Evinger said.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from DEM


We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a SAFE and PREPARED New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Safety Tips


Have a safe and happy holiday season by following these safety tips:

TREES
· When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
· When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green; needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles (watch "A Christmas Story" for a visual demonstration).
· When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

LIGHTS
· Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
· Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
· Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord (for a lesson on what not to do, I recommend viewing "Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase).
· Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. Or just return your metallic tree to 1961 where it belongs.
· Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold strings in place. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
· Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
· For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician (not your cousin-in-law Darryl).

DECORATIONS
· Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
· Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
· In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
· Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

FIREPLACES
· Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from anyone who might find them tempting to ingest.
· Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
· Have your chimney inspected every year.
· Install a carbon monoxide detector as an extra precaution.

Most tips courtesy of US Consumer Products Safety Commission, others were embellished by staff.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kalama Boil-Water Order Lifted

The Boil-Water Order issued for Kalama residents has now been lifted. Please visit the City of Kalama website for more details.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carbon Monoxide Dangers



Hundreds of people accidentally die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide gas is produced whenever any fuel, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned.

Currently, there is a toddler in critical condition in Lynnwood, WA due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The story can be found here. The family brought a BBQ grill inside to try to keep warm.

Most carbon monoxide deaths in the U.S occur during the winter months with the highest numbers occurring during January with an average of 70 deaths and 2,500 non-fatal exposures. Although males and females are equally likely to visit the ER for CO exposure, males are 2.3 times more likely to die from CO exposure. The CO poisoning death rate was highest among people over 65 and likely attributed to their being at higher risk for undetected exposure.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can produce flu-like symptoms such as:
  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Fainting

At higher levels, carbon monoxide exposure can cause:

  • Unconsciousness

  • Death
If you suspect carbon monoxide exposure:
  • Get out of the house and into fresh air

  • Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house

  • If you have symptoms, seek medical help immediately
If appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can result. Have a qualified service technician inspect your appliances yearly, before the heating season.
  • Check vent pipes, flues and chimneys for leaks or blockages.

  • Do not use un-vented kerosene heaters.

  • NEVER use a charcoal or propane grill indoors.

  • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home.

  • Do not leave a vehicle running inside a garage, even if the door is open, fumes will build up quickly inside the house.

  • Never use gasoline-powered engines (generators, chain saws, blowers, weed trimmers, mowers or snow blowers) indoors.

  • Consider purchasing carbon monoxide detectors and installing them on each floor of your home. Carbon monoxide is COLORLESS, ODORLESS and TASTELESS. That is what makes it so incredibly dangerous. Locate detectors near bedrooms so alarms can be heard at night.



Cowlitz County Burn Ban Lifted

From The Daily News:

Due to overnight wind and improving air quality, clean air officials have lifted a ban on use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves as of 10 a.m. Monday.

The ban had been in effect for most of the recent cold snap due to stagnant wind conditions. In lifting the ban Monday morning, the Southwest Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) reported that long-term forecasts call for good air ventilation in the region.

"We encourage the public to always utilize good combustion practices when using wood (burning) devices," according to a SWCAA statement. "Outdoor burning is again allowed in areas where burning has not been permanently banned provided that you have a burn permit. Please check with SWCAA or your local Fire Department for allowed locations and fire danger conditions prior to burning."

Boil Water Advisory Issued for Kalama Residents

The City of Kalama is advising all water customers to boil their drinking water after a major water main break drained the City’s main water storage reservoir. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has been notified and the City of Kalama is working closely with the Office of Drinking Water to repair the main break. The boil water advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

The boil water advisory includes several precautionary steps that customers should take. These include using purchased treated bottled water or boiled water for any water that might be consumed: drinking, brushing teeth, dishwashing, preparing food and making ice. Water should come to a rolling boil for one minute, then allowed to cool before using.

The advisory will remain in effect until the City is able to restore service pressure and obtain satisfactory water quality samples. Once satisfactory results are reported to the City and DOH, customers will be notified that the advisory has been lifted. For updates, please check the City’s website at www.cityofkalama.com.

If you have any questions, please call Kalama Public Works at 360-673-3706.

City of Kalama Water Problems

Overnight mechanical problems at the City of Kalama Drinking Water Treatment Plant, and water line breaks, have reduced the water storage reservoir to empty. Many water customer are out of water. The city is asking everyone to conserve what water is still available for emergency use only.

This problem is compounded by maintenance issues which required the city to take their two-million gallon reservoir off line. Most customers will be out of water most of the day. The Kalama schools, fire department, health department and local industries have been notified of the problem. Public Works crews are working to get the problem fixed.

Customers of the City of Kalama water system should immediately turn off the breaker to their hot water tank to prevent damage. Customers are asked to conserve water when water service is restored. Additional information will be issued as the day progresses.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Weather Update

The National Weather Service in Portland is anticipating snow accumulations from 2 to 4 inches beginning after 10:00 pm this evening. There is a possibility of up to ¼ inch of freezing rain late Saturday night and early Sunday morning as the snow transitions to rain. The weather conditions will be worse farther south in Clark County and Portland, with more snow and freezing rain likely to make travel treacherous.

Winter Tips:
  • Do not drive unnecessarily
  • Prepare your home for cold weather by installing storm windows, insulating outside walls and repairing leaks in the roof, around the doors and in the windows.
  • If you have a kerosene heater, refuel it outdoors and keep it away from flammable materials. Do not use propane or a portable generator indoors. Opening windows and doors or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
  • Be sure your gas tank is full before the snow starts falling and ensure vehicle has adequate antifreeze.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food that can be eaten without cooking. Include a blanket or sleeping bag, a flashlight, shovel, tire chains, sack of sand or kitty litter, booster cables, flares and toilet paper.
  • Please remember to only call 9-1-1 if you have a police, fire or medical emergency.
  • Don’t forget your pets! Animals are affected by the cold too. Move animals to sheltered areas, provide extra food and ensure availability of unfrozen water.
  • Don't be a dummy and walk on frozen bodies of water. I'm lookin' at YOU teenagers interviewed in the Daily News. You have NO WAY of determining how thick the ice is and if it will hold you. Have you not read Little Women? You crazy kids think you are invincible, but you're not. Also, get a hair cut, get a job, pull up your pants and get off my lawn. Yes, there is a curmudgeonly octogenarian that lives in my head, how did you know?

Winter Weather Advisory


From the National Weather Service-Portland:

..WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM THIS EVENING TO
6 PM PST SATURDAY FOR THE PORTLAND AND VANCOUVER METRO AREAS...AND THE LOWER COLUMBIA AND I-5 CORRIDOR IN COWLITZ COUNTY...

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for freezing rain, sleet and snow which is in effect from 8:00 p.m. this evening to 6:00 p.m. Saturday.

* Spotty precipitation will begin late this evening and become more widespread around midnight.

* Precipitation will start as a mix of snow or sleet in the Portland and Vancouver metro area and as snow farther north in Cowlitz County.

* Snow accumulations up to 3 inches can be expected. Ice accumulations generally expected to be less than one quarter of an inch.

A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibility and use caution while driving. Make sure you have a well-stocked 72-hour kit in your car at all times. For more winter storm preparedness tips, click here.

In other news, I find sleet to be a very unattractive-sounding word. I think it should be re-branded as "Sparkle Rain" to make a bad situation sound more positive and even exciting. There could be a merchandise line, cross-promotions with cold weather gear and a variety show. Perhaps I should consider a career in marketing...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Freezing Rain May Be Coming Our Way...

The National Weather Service-Portland has issued a Winter Storm Watch for freezing rain, sleet, and snow for our area. The watch is in effect from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. The Department of Emergency Management just completed a weather briefing with forecasters from the Portland National Weather Service and they are following a storm system off the Pacific Ocean with a heavy band of precipitation. They are anticipating that the precipitation will begin in the form of snow late Friday evening and transition into freezing rain on Saturday morning with a possibility of ½ inch of ice. As temperatures rise, the ice should mix into regular rain by Saturday evening. So in summary,

* PRECIPITATION MAY BEGIN AS EARLY AS LATE FRIDAY EVENING.

* PRECIPITATION IS LIKELY TO START AS SNOW ON FRIDAY AND TRANSITION TO FREEZING RAIN ON SATURDAY.

* THERE IS A GREATER THAN NORMAL DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY WITH THIS
FORECAST...SO CHECK WITH LATER FORECASTS FOR MORE DETAILS.

Warming Shelter Needs

The warming shelter set up at the Kelso First Assembly of God Church has been put to good use by people seeking shelter from the bitter cold. Around 20 people have found a warm place to sleep each night that the shelter has been open. I spoke to a shelter volunteer this morning to see how things were going and she said that they are in need of eggs, coffee, coffee cups, paper plates and bowls and individually wrapped food. If you are interested in donating these items, they can be dropped off at the shelter located in the Activity Center of the church at 300 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso beginning at 7:00 pm or at the Bridgegate Apartment main office at 825 32nd Avenue. If you have questions, call Liz Haeck at 442-0612.

H1N1 Vaccine Restrictions Lifted

From CRESA Blog
H1N1 vaccine restrictions lifted in Southwest Washington - Vaccine now available for everyone

Region IV Public Health released the following news release yesterday afternoon:

Washington State public health agency administrators and health officers decided yesterday to lift priority group restrictions and make H1N1 vaccine available to anyone who wants it. Although some Washington counties may still decide to offer vaccine to priority groups only, restrictions have been lifted in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.
“As more vaccine has arrived in the region, we are meeting vaccine demand among the priority groups to the extent that we can now make the vaccine available to everyone,” said Marni Storey, Region IV Incident Commander. “Even so, we are focusing our outreach efforts on people in priority groups and encouraging those at greatest risk to get vaccinated as soon as they can.”
Priority groups include:
 Pregnant women because they are at much higher risk of complications from H1N1.
 Healthcare workers because they can potentially infect vulnerable patients and also because increased absenteeism could reduce healthcare system capacity.
 Children ages 6 months through age 24
 Parents and caregivers of children younger than 6 months, so they don’t pass the virus to their infants.
 Persons ages 6 months to 64 years with chronic medical conditions that could worsen with influenza, such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, immunosuppression and others.

For information about where to get vaccinated, call your healthcare provider or pharmacy or visit http://www.flunewsswwashington.org/Vaccines.html.
People without health insurance can receive free H1N1 vaccine at the following locations. Please call first.
Clark County
 Free Clinic of SW Washington, (360) 313-1390
 New Heights Clinic, (360) 694-0355
Cowlitz County
 Cowlitz Free Medical Clinic, (360) 414-2852
 Cowlitz Family Health Center, (360) 636-3892.

Although the number of H1N1 influenza cases is declining nationally, health officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated for several reasons:
 H1N1 influenza is a very contagious and potentially serious disease. The best way to prevent catching or spreading H1N1 influenza is to get vaccinated.
 Because H1N1 is a new virus, we can’t predict the course of the outbreak. Although the number of cases is dropping, we could still experience additional outbreaks of H1N1 influenza later this season.
 The more people who get vaccinated, the more protection we have in the community. Even if you get a mild case of influenza, someone you infect may develop a much more severe illness with complications.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weather Updates



Very cold weather will continue this week over the Pacific Northwest with a possibility of light wintry precipitation this weekend. A modified arctic air mass over SW Washington and NW Oregon will continue this week. Daytime highs are expected to be near freezing while nighttime lows will be in the teens with a gradual warming trend through the end of the week. A Pacific system is expected around Saturday and may bring a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain (wintry mix---that sounds festive) to our area before temperatures warm above freezing. Sounds like time for cocoa and a good book (but not in front of the fire, see previous post).

Burn Ban for Cowlitz County Starts Tonight


From the SW Washington Clean Air Agency Website

Stage 1 Burn Ban for Cowlitz County Tonight
Outdoor burning and the use of fireplaces and uncertified woodstoves is prohibited until air quality improves. Households without an alternative heat source are exempted.

VANCOUVER, Wash. - The Southwest Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) is issuing a Stage 1 Burn Ban effective at 5 p.m. today, December 8, 2009 for all of Cowlitz County due to rising levels of fine particulate pollution, a consequence of stagnant weather conditions that allows air pollution to accumulate at ground level. This means that the use of all fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves and inserts is prohibited until air quality improves and the Stage 1 Burn Ban is lifted. If wood burning is your only source of heat, you are exempt and we ask that you burn as cleanly as possible. All outdoor burning is also prohibited during this Stage 1 Burn Ban.

Due to Cowlitz County’s varying topography, some localized areas may experience windy conditions while others remain stagnant and inundated with smoke. This countywide Stage 1 Burn Ban will remain in effect until our monitors show demonstrated improvement in our air quality and weather forecasts indicate improved ventilation.

If air quality continues to deteriorate, SWCAA may have to issue a Stage 2 Burn Ban which would prohibit all wood burning, including fireplaces, certified wood stoves, inserts and pellet stoves. This does exclude homes where wood burning is the sole source of heat.

“We are hopeful that calling this Stage 1 curtailment will prevent us from exceeding the federal health-based standard for fine particle pollution,” said Bob Elliott, executive director of the agency. “Wood smoke is a nuisance and a public health hazard,” Elliott continued, “so reducing wood smoke where feasible benefits everyone. We are not asking anyone to go without heat, but to use an alternative source of heat if possible until our air quality improves.”

On cold nights with little or no wind, wood smoke pollution can accumulate to levels that are considered unhealthy. Fine particles released by smoke from wood stoves, fireplaces and other burning are of concern because they can reach deep into the lungs. Episodes of high fine particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing and make lung and heart problems worse.

These curtailments will likely come in two progressive stages:

Stage 1:The use of all fireplaces and uncertified woodstoves and inserts is banned when pollution is forecasted to reach unhealthy levels. Uncertified units are typically older than 1990 and lack a certification label on the back of the unit. Certified woodstoves and inserts are allowed during a Stage 1 Burn Ban.

Stage 2: All wood heating is prohibited, including certified units, when the Stage 1 curtailment has not reversed the increasing pollution trend and weather conditions still indicate a high risk for exceeding air quality health standards.
These curtailments will not apply to homes with no other source of adequate heat. All outdoor burning is also banned during these burn bans.

Tips for Cleaner Burning:

The most complete and effective way to reduce wood smoke pollution is to use another form of heat. If you must use wood, or choose to do so when local rules permit, the following recommendations can help diminish the emissions from your woodstove, fireplace or fireplace insert:
* Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Be sure your firewood has been split and dried for at least one year.
* Never burn wet, painted, stained or treated wood, color newsprint, plastic, garbage, diapers or magazines. Items such as these produce high amounts of odor, smoke and toxic fumes. Burning these materials is illegal and also an excellent way to start a chimney fire.
* Store your firewood under cover. A shed or shelter is best. If you use a plastic tarp, allow ventilation to prevent condensation.
* Burn small, hot fires. This helps the wood burn completely and cleanly.
* Never allow the fire to smolder. Smoldering fires are the worst polluters because they burn at a temperature too low for efficient combustion. The result is more smoke—unburned wood going up the chimney, wasted.
* Do not damper too much. Allow enough air for the wood to burn fully, without smoldering. * * Never try to keep the fire going overnight by cutting back the air supply. This wastes wood, produces much smoke and creosote and produces little heat.
* Step outside and look at the plume from your chimney. You should see only heat waves. If you can see smoke, your wood is not burning completely. Increase the air supply to your fire.
* Size your woodstove properly. A stove that is too large for the space to be heated will have to be damped down, causing much smoke and wasting wood.
* Do not burn in moderate temperatures. Your stove will tend to overheat your house. You will want to close the dampers to cut back on the heat, which cuts oxygen to the fire, wastes wood and increases pollution.
* Do not install a woodstove until you have considered other ways to cut heating costs. Insulating and weather stripping can cost less than a woodstove and will reduce your heating requirements, whether your heat source is wood, oil, gas or electricity.
* Do not install an uncertified stove—installation of uncertified stoves is illegal. These stoves are more polluting.
Founded in 1968, the mission of the Southwest Clean Air Agency is to preserve and enhance the air quality in southwest Washington. Serving the counties of Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum, SWCAA is responsible for protecting the public’s health through the enforcement of federal, state and local air quality standards and regulations.

Psssst...we're kind of awesome....

I know that sometimes Cowlitz County can seem like a backwoods, behind-the-times county. I know that we aren't the biggest, the brightest or the richest county in the state, but here's a little article that should make you feel at least a little safer and little more proud to live in Cow Co. The article, found here is from the Portland Oregonian on November 30th of this year. It details how the city of Portland administration is looking for an emergency notification system after the recent E.coli contamination problems. Many metropolitan areas have some form of landline notification system (Portland does not) but have no way to reach residents via cell phone, VOIP phone or email. You know who has all of that (and a bag of chips)? Cowlitz County! If you have not registered your cell phone with our Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS), I would encourage you to do so TODAY! Just click the "Alert Cowlitz County" icon on the blog home page (the icon just to your right) and follow the prompts. If you have a landline phone, no worries, you're automatically in the system. If you have questions about the ECNS system, please feel free to call or email us, we're happy to help. So, while we may not be able to boast a book store the size of a city block or even an Olive Garden, sleep soundly knowing that we are on the cutting edge of emergency notification technology. (Plus, we have a way cool blog and they don't)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Address Correction

The correct address of the First Assembly of God Church where will warming shelter will be located is 300 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso on the corner of N. 4th and Cowlitz Way.

Warming Shelter Opening

There will be a warming shelter opening this evening at the Kelso First Assembly of God Church located at 1517 N. 4th Avenue (at the corner of 4th and Academy Street). The shelter will be open from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. for the next few nights in the Activity Center on the upper floor of the church. Plans are being worked up to provide soup or a warm meal for those who come to the shelter. We would appreciate it if you would distribute information about the warming shelter to those persons who may be homeless or living in a place that is too cold to safely occupy. The shelter is being organized and sponsored by several of the church groups in Cowlitz County. Organizers are looking for help with blankets and snacks. If you have questions, please contact Liz Haeck at 442-0612 or Cindy Helms-Jarrell 442-8774.

Cold Spell to Stick Around


Keep those sweaters out (unless it looks like that one), the cold weather is here to stay. According to the National Weather Service, a modified arctic air mass will linger over Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon this week. Daytime high temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing today or tomorrow and nighttime lows will be in the teens and twenties. Slow warming is expected by Wednesday, but temperatures will remain much lower than normal through Friday. Gusty winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected to continue throughout the morning. For information on staying safe in cold weather, click here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby, it's COLD outside!


According to the National Weather Service, an arctic blast is headed toward Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon late Saturday night and Sunday. A series of cold weather systems will move across the Pacific Northwest over the next several days. The first cold front is expected to move down from British Columbia and across Washington and Oregon tonight. This system will not contain much moisture but a few snow flurries are possible in the northern valleys with a slight chance of measurable snow in the Cascades.

Very cold arctic air is expected to move in late Saturday night and Sunday behind an arctic front that will sweep across the Cascades westward into Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. Daytime temperatures may remain below freezing in some areas. Overnight temperatures will fall into the teens and twenties along with increasing easterly winds. Some scattered snow showers are possible in the Cascades and there is a slight chance this system could bring some light snow to the valleys. This will depend on how the system develops and how much moisture is available. It appears that low level cold air will remain in place over Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon on Monday and into Tuesday.
Cold Weather Safety Tips:
* Have appropriate cold weather clothing available and keep your head covered. Wear several layers of light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
* Heat only the areas of your home that you are using. Close doors and curtains to keep in the heat.
* Don’t forget your outside pets! If possible, bring them inside. If not, be sure to provide them with shelter away from the wind and ensure there is enough food and unfrozen water available.
* Do not drive unnecessarily.
* Listen to your radio or television for winter storm forecasts and other information.

Red Balloon Challenge


DARPA (a federal agency charged with the development of new innovative technologies) is sponsoring the DARPA Network Challenge, which is a prize competition for exploring the roles the internet and social media play in real-time communications, wide-area collaborations, and practical actions required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems. Specifically, this Saturday (December 5th), ten large red weather balloons will be moored throughout the United States along non-disclosed roadways.The first team to identify all ten locations will be awarded a prize of $40,000. Because we value the importance and engagement of social media and wide-area collaboration, we have partnered with emergency management offices throughout the Country (Kansas, Texas, etc.). Johnson County Emergency Management in Kansas contacted us to see if we would like to participate in this contest. If the associated emergency management agencies win, we are going to divide the money to support various emergency preparedness efforts in the areas that participated! But to win...we need you! Keep your eyes peeled this weekend for any red balloons. If you see one let us know the cross streets where you saw them. We'll take care of the rest! You can post the location to any of Johnson County's various social media sites, and they have also created a new Facebook page to collect all the locations.This is an easy way to help prepare communities across America to be better prepared for emergencies. Help us reach out and connect!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This is only a test....

Yesterday, the Department of Emergency Management conducted a routine test of our Emergency Community Notification System. This year's test was conducted in Ryderwood at 2:00 p.m. A test call to 252 residents was made with the following message:
This is the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. Please do not hang up. We are conducting a test of the Emergency Community Notification System for residents of the Ryderwood area. In the event of an emergency, this system of reverse calling could be used to alert you to take action or evacuate. Thank you for your cooperation. If you have questions or comments about this test please call Emergency Management at (360) 577-3130.
Seventy-five percent of the calls were successful (meaning someone answered or it went to an answering machine), the 25% of unsuccessful calls were either unanswered, received busy signals, were fax lines or were no longer in service. So, in theory, if there had been an actual emergency, 75% of Ryderwood residents would have been informed. We count that as a big success! If you have questions about our Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS) please give us a call at 577-3130.

Email Virus


FYI-- There is a bogus email going around that looks like it is coming from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). The email has a subject of “Creation of your personal Vaccination Profile.” This email instructs the user to create a profile for a H1N1 vaccination program. DO NOT click the link that is in this email, it contains a virus. Immediately delete the email from your mailbox. I don't know why or how people can create a virus, but I really wish they'd use those skills for good instead of evil!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Emergency Notifications...Your Thoughts?

Below is a news article out of the News Tribune in Tacoma. Our own county has a very similar system of "reverse 911" called Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS). This system has been in place in Cowlitz County for several years and has been used primarily to evacuate neighborhoods in flooding situations. We test this system every winter to make sure that it is still viable and running properly. We will be conducting a test this Monday, November 30th, in the Ryderwood area. At any rate, here is the article:

County's emergency robo-calls annoy, confuse Lakewood residents
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 7:17 AM PST
By Brent Champaco
The News Tribune

TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce County’s emergency call system sent an automated plea for help to about 11,000 Lakewood homes when a disabled man went missing last week.But it appears the system might have prompted more questions and complaints than assistance from residents annoyed by the late-night and early-morning robo-calls.It all started when a 50-year-old man who recently moved to Lakewood went missing from his health care facility Thursday night. Authorities were concerned because he is deaf, has serious medical issues and has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old.Police enlisted the help of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and its automated, reverse-911 call system, the Intrado Notification System.At the request of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the system called 11,000 homes in the city’s southeast corner about 11:30 p.m. Thursday. A recorded voice asked residents to call police if they spotted the missing man. Those same residents got another call around 6 a.m. Friday.The good news was someone spotted the man in Federal Way early Friday. Police eventually found him at a bus stop, and he was taken back to his home.But the incident marked the first time Lakewood residents got calls via Pierce County’s emergency system, and some people weren’t too happy with the technology.“We certainly got quite a few calls Monday,” said Sheri Badger, spokeswoman for the Department of Emergency Management.Someone with the screen name “karlveek” wrote about the inconvenience on The News Tribune’s Web site.“I’m glad they found him,” the person wrote. “But did the Lakewood Police have to robo-call me at 6:30 a.m. today to inform me that he was missing(?) I don’t mind the computer-generated calls, but 6:30 in the morning is a little too early.”Badger said despite the complaints, the reverse-911 system works.The county’s emergency management department has relied on the system since 2003. It can geographically identify, warn and provide instructions to residents during an emergency, according to Intrado’s Web site.Up until this year, the county used the system primarily for evacuations and other emergencies. For example, Fife requested thousands of calls to warn people to evacuate during the region’s heavy flooding this year.Now, the county is also using the system to help find missing people. In October, it sent calls to Spanaway residents when a 75-year-old Alzheimer’s patient went missing. The system notified residents in South Hill of a missing 16-year-old girl this month.In both cases, the system helped police find the missing person safely, Badger said.Lakewood’s instance marked the third time the county used the system for missing persons.In every case, an incident commander decides whether to notify residents by phone and how many people the system should call. It’s capable of placing 41,600 calls per minute.Last week, an incident commander with the Sheriff’s Department decided to place calls to southeast Lakewood, Badger said.The system isn’t perfect. Someone with the county typed last week’s message into system incorrectly, so the voice told residents to dial “nine hundred eleven” rather than “9-1-1.” Badger said that won’t be an ongoing problem.Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary was one of the 11,000 residents who got last week’s calls.But instead of needing help, he assumed the missing man might be dangerous. The recorded voice didn’t make it clear.Neary said he appreciates how the system can help authorities.“I just think we need to educate people on what the plan should be,” he said.

I want YOUR thoughts. What do you think of using this type of notification system in a missing person situation? Please vote in the poll on the right-hand margin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Travel Tips


Ahhhh…Thanksgiving…a time to gather ‘round the table and participate in ritualistic gluttony with your extended family. For some people, this also means travelling over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. If you are one of the many Washington drivers that will be travelling this holiday season, check out these tips from the Washington State Department of Transportation website.
If you do not already have a car emergency kit, now would be a good time to consider getting one. You can purchase ready-made car emergency kits at local retailers (camping supply stores, automotive stores, etc) or you can make your own. Good items to keep in your car include:
*Water
*Non-perishable foods that can be eaten without cooking
*Blankets or sleeping bags
*Flashlight with extra batteries
*Shovel
*Jumper cables
*Flare
*Toilet Paper

Be sure to remember to rotate the food and water at least once a year. It will be more than a minor inconvenience if you need your kit and all you have is a stale Tab soda and a Snickers bar from last century. So, in conclusion, pack smart, be patient and have a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Flooding Video

This is a real-life flooding video, shot by Marcie Maynes, owner of Simple-Safety. Scenes such as these serve as a friendly reminder to BE PREPARED for anything! To learn more about flood preparedness, visit our website at www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/DEM.

Insulation, Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Presentation

There will be an informative presentation on preparing your home for winter weather, learning energy saving tips and discussion about indoor air quality on Monday, December 14th at 6:00 pm at St. Helens Elementary School. BPI Certified Energy Auditor Steve Mott from Lower Columbia CAP will be on hand to discuss how to make your home more energy efficient and safe for winter months. Indoor air quality is also an important topic that will be discussed. According to the local Health Department's Healthy Homes Program Cowlitz County has twice the rate of asthma as the state and nation. Because children have unique vulnerabilities, they account for a disproportionate share of asthma sufferers. 22% of local children have been told by a medical professional that they have asthma.

The Healthy Homes Program is dedicated to helping families identify and reduce asthma triggers in their homes. Many people, and often children, spend a lot of time in their home. There are irritants or triggers in the home that can lead to asthma development and cause asthma attacks. Irritants in the home include tobacco smoke, dust mites, pets, mold, and cleaning products. The Healthy Homes Program, staffed with trained community volunteers, offers free home assessments and easy, no-cost, or low cost recommendations to reduce or eliminate those asthma triggers and improve indoor air quality.

To find out more information on the Healthy Homes Program, or to schedule a home evaluation, please call 414-5881 or click here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Boil Water Order Issued for Vader residents

There has been a "Boil Water" order issued for residents of Vader and Enchanted Valley. The city of Vader's water system has not been working properly and the system has had several water line breaks. Click here to see The Daily News for more information.

Weather Updates

Cowlitz County appears to be in the clear for flooding issues so far. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the Grays, Nehalem and Willapa Rivers, but not for any of the rivers in our county. The storm system will weaken by late tonight and weather conditions should even out tomorrow and for the weekend. Stay tuned for any changes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We've Only Just Begun...


....to raaaaain...Yes, two Carpenters song references in one week. Anyway, the hard working folks in the Department of Emergency Management participated in both the Portland and Seattle National Weather Service (NWS) briefings this morning. The NWS is following a developing weather front off the coast that will move in tonight and another front that will arrive tomorrow morning. High winds are expected on the Oregon and Washington coasts, but will dissipate as they reach Cowlitz County. The wind is not expected to be as strong as the storm that we experienced on Monday. The Lower Columbia/Cowlitz Valley area can expect 10 mph-15 mph sustained winds with 25-30 mph gusts. There will be intermittent heavy rain with this storm but not in amounts expected to cause flooding for our area. There have been no high wind or flood warnings issued for Cowlitz County. The NWS forecasts another storm system will arrive in our area over the weekend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Windy Days and Mondays....


...or something like that. At any rate, hold on to your figurative hats because it's about to get windy! The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 7:00 pm this evening until 4:00 am tomorrow for the Lower Columbia region and the I-5 corridor of Southwest Washington. South winds are expected to increase to 25-35 mph with gusts of 45 mph during the evening and continuing overnight. The winds are being produced ahead of a strong Pacific cold front and will decrease by sunrise on Tuesday morning as the cold front moves in. Sounds like a good night to stay inside and play Monopoly. I get to be the top hat!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hazard Mitigation Open Houses


Do you need information about how to prepare for winter storms? Do you want information about how your local government and emergency responders plan to minimize the effects of natural hazards such as flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and winter storms? The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management is holding three meetings on November 19th at the following locations throughout Cowlitz County:

10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.---Castle Rock Exhibit Hall (147 Front Street)

2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.---Woodland City Hall (230 Davidson Street)

7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.---Cowlitz County PUD Auditorium (961 12th Ave, Longview)

Attendees will learn how to prepare for a winter storm and receive advice on what actions to take during a storm event. Additionally, staff from the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Governments will present information about the current planning process for the county's Hazard Mitigation Plan. This important plan includes specific actions and programs necessary to minimize the losses during future natural disasters. The discussion will include a proposed scope of work for completing the federal update requirements and information on how the public can participate in the planning process.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting to learn about the hazards affecting our county and the Hazard Mitigation Plan update process. For more information, please contact Matt Hermen or T.J. Keiran at (360) 577-3041.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spring Ahead, Fall Back


Daylight saving time was last weekend, did you change your smoke detector batteries? I know I'm a little late to the party, story of my life, but daylight saving time is not only a great time to change out your smoke detector batteries, but also to rotate out some of the stored food and water that you have in your emergency kits. Some dried, canned and otherwise non-perishable foods are ok to consume a little past their prime, but if you have granola bars in your kit that were made when Clinton was in office, you may want to consider tossing them. Also, pay attention to the dates on your bottled water. It may seem like water should last forever (which it does) but the plastic containers do not. Eventually plastics (especially PET, PETE, and HDPE types, generally 1's and 2's in the little recycling triangle) begin to degrade and leach chemicals into the water. After the plastic is beyond its "use by" date, it's best just to dump it out and recycle the container. On a slightly related note, does anyone else find daylight saving time vaguely disturbing? The fact that someone can just say, "ok, now it's 6:00, not 7:00", and that's just the way it is? It's not only that, it's the fact that "time" i.e. hours, minutes, seconds, is merely a concept constructed by own minds in order to attempt to quantify infinity. Ok, no more coffee today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cooking in the Dark, An Additional Class

Response to the "Cooking in the Dark" classes have been overwhelming and we are now full! I have added a third class on December 1st, 6:00 pm, General Meeting Room of the Cowlitz County Administration Building (third floor), 207 N. 4th Ave. If you are interested in this hands-on learning opportunity and have not signed up yet, please send me an email at DEM@co.cowlitz.wa.us or call the office at 577-3130 to sign up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 Info Line

An H1N1 information line has been established. For more information on the H1N1 virus and vaccine information you can call the H1N1 Info Line at 1-877-510-2772.

How Will You Cook When the Lights Go Out?

Rough winter weather is on its way and with it, comes the threat of a long-term power outage. The Department of Emergency Management is excited to offer an exciting new class called Cooking in the Dark. This class offers a hands-on chance to learn how to plan for, and prepare, two-weeks worth of meals with NO electricity.

You will learn:
· How to prepare food without power for up to two weeks
· How long food can last in a fridge or freezer following power outage
· Proper long-term water storage
· What non-food items are necessary for survival

The class will be held on November 19th at 6:00 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Training Center, 1942 1st Avenue, Longview (building just south of the Hall of Justice). Marcie Maynes of Simple-Safety will teach you the basics of power outage survival and will be assisting you in preparing actual recipes, so come hungry and leave full of ideas! Prepare to be your own hero! If you are interested in attending this FREE class, please click here to send an email to register.

How Prepared Are YOU?

From Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA)
Let’s test your personal preparedness level for H1N1 (Swine Flu). Answer the following questions with a "yes" or "no":

  • Have you received your seasonal flu vaccine?

  • Will you receive your H1N1 vaccine as it becomes available to your priority group?

  • When you cough, do you cover your nose and mouth with your elbow, shoulder or use a tissue that is immediately thrown in the garbage?

  • Do you regularly avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth?

  • Do you wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze? Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly?

  • When you wash your hands, do you sing your ABC’s or "happy birthday" twice?

  • Do you try to avoid contact with people who are exhibiting signs of being sick?

  • Do you stay home from work or community events when you are sick (even if you have important things to do for our community)?

  • If you or your family member has a fever, do you stay home for at least 24 hours AFTER the fever has gone away?

  • Is your home stocked with enough food, hand sanitizer, over-the-counter medications, tissues and other related items so that you can stay home for several days and minimize contact with others?

If you can answer "yes" to 8-10 of these questions, you are very prepared for this flu season. If you only answered "yes" to a few of these questions, consider becoming more prepared because as you prepare, you help your whole community.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Information on H1N1

The Health Departments in Region IV (Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties) are working together under Incident Command to manage the H1N1 virus. Instead of posting information on various blogs and websites for each county, the Command Post has now established a central website for consistency. Please visit http://www.flunewsswwashington.org/ for the latest information.

Cowlitz County DEM will continue to provide emergency information as necessary, but updates specific to H1N1 will be posted by Region IV Incident Command at the above website.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winter Weather Awareness Week


Next week begins "Winter Weather Awareness Week," an annual campaign from the National Weather Service. It's time once again to break out the emergency lighting, heavy boots and umbrellas. Power outages are also common this time of year. If your water supply could be affected by a power outage (a well-water pump system), fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet. Click here to visit the National Weather Service website and learn more about Winter Weather.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Begins to Arrive in SW Washington

From CRESA blog
The first shipment of H1N1 vaccine arrived today in Southwest Washington. The 2,890 doses arrived at Clark County Public Health in intra-nasal form and were shared with health jurisdictions in Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.Vaccine will first be made available to two priority groups, including healthcare workers and emergency responders who provide direct patient care, and to children in childcare or other group settings. Intra-nasal vaccine is suitable for healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49. It cannot be given to pregnant women.Hospitals in the four-county region will receive vaccine directly from the vaccine distributor, and will use the vaccine for staff who provide direct care.More intra-nasal H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive in the region next week. Injectable vaccine is expected to arrive later in the month. Public health officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against seasonal flu now and H1N1 (swine flu) as supplies allow. Because supplies may be limited initially, the vaccine will first be offered to those at highest risk of complications from H1N1. These include:
  • Pregnant women (injectable vaccine only)
  • Persons who live with or provide care for infants younger than 6 months (e.g., parents, siblings, and daycare providers)
  • Health-care and emergency medical services personnel
  • Persons ages 6 months--24 years
  • Persons ages 25--64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications

More information about the response to H1N1 (swine flu) in Southwest Washington is available at www.flunewsswwashington.org.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's National Fire Prevention Week


October 4-10th is National Fire Prevention Week. In recognition of National Fire Prevention week, we encourage you to follow these simple steps to protect yourselves and your loved ones from fire and burn injuries.

• Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.

• Have a 3-foot "kid-free" zone around the stove.

• Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.

• Be careful when using things that get hot such as curling irons, oven, irons, lamps, heaters.

• Install tamper-resistant receptacles to prevent a child from sticking an object in the outlet.

• Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle, portable heater, lit fireplace or stove, or where a hot appliance might be in use.

• Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.

• Set your hot water temperature no higher than 120 degrees.

• Install anti-scald valves on shower heads and faucets.

Be sure to come check out the DEM table at the Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue Open House this Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. See you there!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is Your Emergency Kit Complete?


Well, it looks like the last segment of Emergency Preparedness Shopping Tips is upon us. I’m sure that these past 12 Tuesdays have been nothing short of awe-inspiring, mind-expanding and full of untold glory. I know they have been for me. Perhaps, that’s a slight stretch, but if nothing else, I hope I have at least brought about some awareness of the importance of keeping a well-stocked disaster supply kit on hand. Even if you are just a little better prepared than you were before, I feel like I’ve done my job. So, what do you need this week to round out your emergency kit? How about some games or books to pass the time and keep the kiddies entertained? What better time to finish that classic tome that you started in college and swore you’d finish? You can trust that the only time I’d ever delve into some Thoreau or Faulkner again would be in a desperate emergency. Just think, if you had to shelter in place in your house for a week, you could finish all those classics and begin conversations with “Well, Tolstoy always said…” or “Don’t you find Hemingway’s stories rife with psychological manipulation and hedonism in post World War I America?” Then you can laugh pompously and adjust your monocle. But I digress; also make sure you have local road maps in case you have to come up with a secondary exit from your current location. Lastly….the crème de la crème of emergency supplies….the item so versatile that it can be used for makeshift first aid supplies, repairs, restraints, the list goes on and on….you know what I’m talking about…DUCT TAPE! It is useful in so many capacities that there are entire websites devoted to counting its virtues. I like this one. And never forget, in the words of some guy named Carl, “Duct tape is like the force. It has a dark side and light side and it holds the universe together.” True that, Carl, true that.

HAM Radio testing coming up!

American Radio Relay League (ARRL) review and testing for Technician, General and Extra amateur radio licenses will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, October 17th at the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) Clubhouse on Lone Oak Road in Longview. PRE-REGISTRATION is required. The exam fee this year is $15, cash. Free refreshments will be provided.
The exams are for first-time licenses or upgrades. Attendees are asked to bring their original radio license and a copy; pending Certificates of Successful Completion of Exam (CSCEs); a picture ID; and a calculator.
Pre-exam study online is encouraged at the Web site: www.qrz.com/ham/
For details, contact Judi-K7HRW by e-mail: k7hrw.judi@gmail.com or phone: 274-3480 (or) contact JR-NW7S by email: nw7s.73@gmail.com.
HAM Radio is an essential part of emergency operations. If you want to be part of an important team and have FUN in the process, HAM radio is for you!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are You Ready If the Lights Go Out?



As any Granny worth her salt would say, "The frost is on the pumpkin." And, by that, I mean fall is here. Time for potato soup, candles and cozy sweaters! Also, it's time to be thinking about some some back-up plans in case the power goes out. Here are some basic power outage preparation tips courtesy of our Cowlitz PUD.

  • Create a kit that contains flashlights with extra batteries and a battery powered radio. Know where to find it in a dark house!

  • Cordless phones do NOT work without electricity, so make sure you have an old-school corded phone.

  • Know how to open your electric garage door if the power is out.

If the power goes out:

  • Unplug electronics--computer, TV, microwave--and don't turn them on again until the lights have returned to normal brightness.

  • Turn down thermostats and turn off water heater circuit breaker to help reduce initial electric demand when power is restored.

  • Do not open refrigerators or freezers.

  • If you use a generator, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Place it outside for proper ventilation. NEVER use barbeques or propane heaters indoors.

  • Leave a porch light switched on to let PUD repair crews know when service is restored.

  • To report a power outage, call the PUD at 423-2210 or (800) 631-1131.

Short power outages are a part of life in this area, but imagine what it would be like to have to deal with it for a week or more, like some of our neighbors to the north did last year. On a related note, later this fall, the Department of Emergency Management will be hosting a "Cooking in the Dark" seminar to teach people how to survive and thrive during an extended power outage. Keep checking the blog for more information!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 11 Shopping List Items



We're almost to the end of our 12 week emergency preparedness shopping extravaganza. It's hard to believe only a mere 11 weeks ago you were totally unprepared for a disaster, but just look at you now! (Right? You've followed all of my advice? You have an awesome disaster kit? Right?---this is a guilt trip, in case you haven't caught on). Anyway, here we are at week 11 and the theme of the week is "Special Items As Needed." So, you may need some of these items, you may not need others. Here goes:
  • Food for special diets (i.e. food allergies, religious preferences, diabetic)

  • Baby food, bottles or infant formula

  • Diapers (make sure to update sizes as needed, a size 1 diaper isn't much help when your kid now wears size 5)

  • Pet food (you might begin to look pretty tasty to your hungry Rottweiler after awhile)

  • Leash and pet carrier

  • Spare eyeglasses or contact supplies

  • Items for denture care

  • Extra hearing aids and batteries

  • Feminine hygiene supplies

  • Any other medical or mobility supplies you or a family member might require

I'll catch you next Tuesday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Drive & Survive


Click here to check out an interesting article that I found on MSN about how to safely navigate during emergencies such as earthquakes, floods and fire. Remember, being in a car doesn't magically keep you safe during a flood or an earthquake, in fact, sometimes it can be even worse. Most people get a false sense of security behind the wheel, especially (for some reason) if they are in a jacked-up truck.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lowe's Safety Day

Be sure to visit Lowe's this Saturday for their Safety Day event. In conjunction with the Home Safety Council, Lowe's is dedicated to helping their customers prevent accidents in the home and be prepared for emergencies. The event is from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at our local Lowe's---check it out!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 10 Shopping Tips


We’re coming to the home stretch of our preparedness shopping tips. There are only four items to get this week and you may already have them. If you already are in possession of these items, don’t strain your arm patting yourself on the back, you still need to know right where they are and if they are in operable condition. So what are these 4 mystery items? Here ya go:
*Battery powered camping lantern (handy for long term power outage)
*Extra batteries for aforementioned lantern
*Portable grill or stove with fuel (NEVER use inside)
*Disposable camera (to document losses for insurance purposes)
And that’s it. Be sure to check in next Tuesday to see what’s next!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prepare Fair was AWESOME!










Thanks to everyone involved for making Prepare Fair '09 a success. Games were played, faces were painted, prizes were won, lessons were learned and a great time was had by ALL!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dogapalooza


Come see us this Saturday at the 2nd Annual DOGAPALOOZA Event! There will be Wiener Dog races, costume contests, demos, a pet psychic and much more. The Department of Emergency Management will be on hand to discuss pet preparedness and give out some prizes, all with the help of Grant, the DEM Wonder Dog. This event will be held on the large, grassy field in the SW corner of the fairgrounds along 7th Avenue on Saturday, September 19th beginning at 10:00 a.m. The event will wrap up with the famous Wiener Dog races at 5:30 p.m. Admission is FREE!! There will be a $5 charge to enter the races and costume contest. All funds raised will go to the Cowlitz County Humane Society. For more information on Pet Preparedness click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preparedness Shopping Guide--Week 9


We are now at week 9 in our Preparedness Shopping Guide challenge. I skipped out last week, but since no one complained or even noticed, I’m not going to feel bad. So, what do you need to toss in your cart this week? Well, you may not be able to find these items in a grocery store, at least not any grocery stores in this area. If you don’t already have these items, take a trip to your local hardware store and check out your options. You need to make sure you have:

*A handsaw or chainsaw with fuel
*A tarp or large canvas
*A crowbar
*Hammer and nails

These items are handy to have following an earthquake. You may need to remove rubble or do a quick repair job to make an area safe. You just never know and these are all useful items to have in order to be prepared for any situation from a downed tree to a full-scale zombie attack (aim for the head). Now you know, and like G.I. Joe always said, “Knowing is half the battle.” I never knew what the other half of the battle was, but then again I rarely take action figures at their word.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Prepare Fair is Coming!!!


Are you ready for an emergency? Learn how to be better prepared for personal or community disasters at Prepare Fair ’09. This free event, hosted by the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, will be at Kessler Elementary School in Longview on Saturday, September 12th from 10am-2pm. Participants include local fire departments, law enforcement, search and rescue, Coast Guard Auxiliary, American Red Cross and MANY more! Come join us for hourly prize drawings, informational booths, activities, free face painting and interactive demonstrations. Bring the whole family for a day of learning and fun! For more information, contact the Department of Emergency Management at 577-3130.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Preparedness, Not Panic is the Perfect Prescription


Even if you roll your eyes at the mere mention of Swine Flu (you know who you are) please check out this article from Rob Lovitt at MSNBC. H1N1 may seem as "last season" as those unfortunate Crocs that you bought, but it's really nothing to sneeze at. It's also nothing to panic over. As the article mentions, proper hygiene and a little preparedness should help you sail right through flu season.

It's Tool Time!


Welcome to September! The kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter and Christmas items are inexplicably creeping into stores. It’s also Tuesday, time for week 8 of your shopping tips. If you’ve been diligently reading each week and following my sage advice, you probably have yourself a pretty sweet emergency kit. So, what do we need for Week 8? It’s time for small tools to help you manage a disaster situation. Here goes:

*Scissors
*Safety Glasses
*Utility Knife/Leatherman multi-tool
*Battery operated/hand crank radio. (Don’t skimp on this. I’ve purchased a cheap one from a discount mail-order catalog that shall remain nameless and it’s a pile of junk. Don’t waste your money. You may think you’re a smart cookie for saving a few bucks now, but you’ll be more than peeved when you actually need it and it doesn’t work)
*Extra batteries
*Flashlights (Again, buy a decent flashlight. Don’t rely on the freebie that you got when you signed up for a checking account. I speak from experience.)
*Heavy work gloves
*Disposable dust mask (these are super cheap and will be handy if Mt. St. Helens spews some ash your way)
*Fire extinguisher (It’s best to have one on every floor of your house and a small one in your kit---also…know how to use it. It’s not really useful to have one if all you do is throw it at the fire and run away screaming)

So, this week is a little harder on the wallet. Seriously though, it will be a lot cheaper to have these all on hand now rather than trying to beat up people at Wal-Mart when the shelves are empty after some major catastrophe.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shopping Tips, Pet Kits and Tornadoes....Oh My!


Did you know that 70 years ago on this very day, the cinematic masterpiece The Wizard of Oz premiered? Since a major thematic element of this film is a tornado, obviously it has many ties to the field of emergency management. Right? Let’s recap the emergency management failings:

*Uncle Henry and Aunty Em’s house did not have proper foundation. If it was up-to-code, it would have weathered the tornado much better. Since it was their house that killed the Wicked Witch of the West, they could have very easily been charged with manslaughter or sued for negligence.

*Had Dorothy received proper disaster training, she would have known to stay away from the window and thusly, would not have been knocked unconscious.

*Uncle Henry and Aunty Em should have been consulting their NOAA weather radio and monitoring updates on weather conditions and warnings in their area. Had tornado sirens been in place, they would have had more warning.

*If Dorothy had had a portable 72-hour kit ready for evacuation situations, she would have been much better prepared for her journey down the yellow brick road. Also, since she obviously loved Toto, she should have had a pet emergency kit as well.

Let’s all learn from Dorothy and be better prepared citizens. I’m sure that I have now ruined a childhood classic for you, but there’s no excuse not to be prepared for emergencies!

So, with that segue, let’s get to your weekly 72-hour kit shopping mission! This is a light week, so your wallet will thank you. On your next jaunt to the market, toss in some pain-reliever (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, whatever works for you), some anti-diarrhea medicine (seriously, a disaster situation is not a good time for this particular ailment) and an extra supply of any important prescription medications. This last part can be tricky, as most insurance providers and pharmacies are reluctant to give any extra than what you need. The best thing to do is talk to your pharmacist and tell them your situation and that you want to be prepared in the event you can’t get to the pharmacy to refill your prescription. Even if the best that they can do is give you 3 or 4 days worth, it’s better than nothing! That’s all you need to add this week. I bet that kit is looking pretty awesome by now. You’ll be the envy of all your neighbors and their little dog too!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Woodland Phone Service Restored

Phone service to Woodland residents has been restored. Thank you for your patience.

Disruptions such as this are very problematic at the time, but please use this as an opportunity to consider phone outages in your family emergency plan. Email and/or phone service can be compromised in a variety of disasters, or as in this case, it can be the disaster. More information on a Family Communications Plan can be found here.

Woodland Area Telephone Outage

WOODLAND (WA.) AREA TELEPHONE SERVICE OUTAGE..EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION

Posted: August 24th, 2009 3:34 PM
August 24, 2009 @ 3:30 p.m.

911 calls in the Woodland area are now being routed to the Woodland Fire Department. A Cowlitz County 911 emergency dispatcher is on duty at the fire department to handle emergency fire, police, and medical calls.

If you are in the Woodland, Wa., area and need emergency assistance, Dial 911. However, if you receive a constant busy signal or no answer to your call, the alternate emergency number is 360-225-7076.

If neither of these options works for you, go to your nearest police or fire station to seek help.
The Woodland area is experiencing a mass telephone outage event today. While sometimes sporadic and intermittent, it appears that calls cannot be made from Woodland prefix phones to locations outside of Woodland. In some cases, some Woodland phones cannot call out at all. This outage also appears to be affecting some cellular phone service as well as some internet service.
Time estimates to repair the problem have been reported as anywhere between a few hours to sometime tomorrow. We are attempting to narrow down a projected repair timeline…however this outage is affecting several different telephone companies and cellular carriers.

All fire stations in the City of Woodland and Cowlitz County Fire District 1 are being manned by volunteers in the event of walk-in traffic seeking help.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Emergency Community Notification System

Emergency Community Notification Public Sign-Up Page

Cowlitz County has implemented an emergency community warning system that is able to send emergency messages via telephone, cellular phone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and email to residents and businesses within the county. This system may be used by emergency response personnel to notify specific homes and businesses at risk with specific information about the emergency event. You will only be called when the associated address will be impacted by an emergency.

The system is already programmed with landline phone numbers (both listed and unlisted) from phone company records. HOWEVER, unless you take the actions described below, it cannot contact your cellular phone, VoIP phone or email address. To ensure that you receive these warnings you will need to register the telephone numbers for your cellular phone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone, and email address.

If the call is picked up by an answering machine it will leave a message and not retry the call. If the number is busy or does not answer, the system will make two additional attempts. Also, this system can contact TTY/TDD devices used by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Common reasons to sign up:
  • Receive emergency information affecting your home
  • Receive emergency information for locations other than your home (like your business or another family member that you care for)

Type of information you may receive:
  • Police needing your help to solve crimes or find missing persons
  • Knowledge about a hazardous situation near your home (fire, hazardous materials release, or police response activities)
  • Emergency protective measures during a disaster
To register your cellular phone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone, and e-mail address create an account by visiting www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/dem .

By creating an account, I consent to the terms and conditions as listed here:

The Cowlitz County Emergency Community Notification System is provided by Twenty First Century Communications of Columbus, Ohio. By signing up for this service, I am giving Twenty First Century Communications express consent to contact me for the purposes of emergency notification on any of the devices I am registering.

Creating an account allows me to update my contact information if I move or my phone numbers or e-mail address changes. I understand at this time, a maximum of one cellular phone number and one VoIP phone number can be associated with each e-mail address. I understand to add additional phone numbers I need to set up another account with a different email address.

The information is being submitted over a secure, encrypted connection. Cowlitz County and Twenty First Century Communications will not share or distribute personal information gathered by the form and will use it solely for the purpose of providing emergency notifications. Neither Cowlitz County, nor any of its agencies and affiliates, or their employees, makes any assurances, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information provided by submittal of this form.

NOTICE: ALL NEW ACCOUNT INFORMATION IS LOADED INTO THE SECURE DATABASE ONLY ONCE PER MONTH. THIS MAY RESULT IN A DELAY (of up to 31 days) IN RECEIVING EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS.