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 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








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 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:

· 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.

· 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).

· 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.

· 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

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:


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,




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
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!