The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is it me or is the Earth acting up lately?

Here is a link to a very interesting article from MSNBC regarding the massive earthquake in Chile that occurred earlier today. Though the article's title makes me laugh, "Big Quake Question: Is Nature Out of Control," (um, hello, when could we EVER control nature?) it does raise some significant questions about the many natural disasters of late. It seems that the Ring of Fire is becoming a bit more active. Guess who that affects....yep, the Pacific Northwest. Please take a minute to read the article and make your own conclusion. Is Nature out of control? Maybe. Is it a good time to make an emergency plan, get an emergency kit and learn more about disasters in your area? You bet your sweet bippy it is. For more information on earthquake preparedness, click here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Does Your Business Recovery Plan Look Like This?

Don't forget: a“meet and greet” for area business owners will be held February 22, 2010 at 5:30 PM at the Cowlitz PUD auditorium, Longview. It is being hosted by the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, Cowlitz Economic Development Council, American Red Cross and Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, in partnership with the Cowlitz-Lewis Economic Development District. Refreshments and a door prize will be available. If you are a business owner and would like more information on disaster resiliency, this is event for you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Map Your Neighborhood

Map Your Neighborhood is a simple program that greatly increases your safety immediately following a disaster. “Map Your Neighborhood” (MYN) is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters.

A single disaster causes many individual emergencies at one time. Unfortunately, the police or fire department may not be able to respond to your call for help in a timely manner. Fire departments are mandated to perform Damage Assessments of their entire districts and then to respond to the situations where crews can do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Professional emergency response to your situation may be delayed for hours, even days. Of necessity, you and your neighbors become the first responders to your emergencies.

Preparing your neighborhood is vital. Neighbors that are prepared are more effective in their response to a disaster and have an increased capacity to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours after a disaster. Neighborhoods that are prepared for emergencies and disaster situations save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and trauma, and reduce property damage. In addition, working together as a team and contributing as an individual develops stronger communities.

There will be a FREE Map Your Neighborhood class offered on March 4th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the LifeWorks Building at 906 New York Avenue in Longview. You will receive all the information and materials to help get your neighborhood prepared for a disaster. Participants will learn:

* The 9 steps to take immediately following a disaster
* How to develop invitations and an agenda for a neighborhood meeting
* How to develop a neighborhood skills and equipment inventory
* How to map your neighborhood and identify areas of concern
* Plus much, much more!

To take advantage of this FREE learning opportunity, please email or call Jennifer at 577-3130.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Preparedness Comes In Many Forms....

Wilderness First Aid Basics

March 2nd there will be a FREE Wilderness First Aid Basics class offered at REI in Hillsboro. For all the details, click here. While this class is geared toward backpackers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts, first aid skills are good for everyone to know. Even if you don't see yourself ever trudging around the woods on purpose, first aid skills can be used in a variety of situations, especially following a disaster when first responder resources are overwhelmed. And, as the Schoolhouse Rock theme song says, "It's great to learn, 'cause knowledge is power!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Disaster Resiliency for Businesses

A Federal Way consulting firm, Pearce Global Partners, will hold a series of meetings with local business owners who have experienced natural and man-made disasters that disrupted their business. Pearce Global is seeking information regarding possible stumbling blocks or frustrations they’ve had with recovery processes. They will also be surveying businesses regarding their experiences. The goal is to identify opportunities to better coordinate and assist businesses with disaster preparedness and mitigation.

A “meet and greet” for area businesses will be held February 22, 2010 at 5:30 PM at the Cowlitz PUD auditorium, Longview. It is being hosted by the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, Cowlitz Economic Development Council, American Red Cross and Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, in partnership with the Cowlitz-Lewis Economic Development District. Refreshments and a door prize will be available.

Pearce Global will be meeting with local businesses through the chambers of commerce throughout the month of February to discuss the project. The schedule is as follows:

February 9- Woodland Chamber of Commerce
February 11- Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce
February 23- Kalama Chamber of Commerce

The chambers and staff will assist businesses in preparedness measures, ranging from protecting inventory, documentation security, updating insurance and business continuity planning. The Cowlitz-Lewis Economic Development District hired Pearce Global Partners to assist with the Business Disaster Resiliency Project with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

If you are a business owner and are interested in more information, please contact Jennifer Keene, assistant planner for the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments at 577-3041.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Be Left Out in the Cold!

Picture this: it's dark, it's rainy (go figure), you're in your car alone and you unwittingly run over a giant nail. After the string of expletives dies down, you realize that your cell phone is in your other purse (or pants, or bag, or whatever). Now what? Does this sound like the beginning of a B-list horror movie? It doesn't have to be. Check out this article from about the 10 things you should keep in your car (stale french fries and Legos did not make the list or else I'd be set!) It is not only a great idea to have the tools and the know-how to change a tire, but also to be ready to spend some quality time in your car in case of an emergency. You never know if you'll be stranded due to an earthquake, flood or any other disaster that we may have. Be sure to check out the article and see how many of the 10 essential items that you have. If you don't have any, it may be time to do some shopping.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sifting Through the Rubble: Facts and Myths in Earthquake Safety

What is the right thing to do when the ground starts shaking? Ask this question to a room full of people and you’ll get a variety of answers. “Stand in the doorway” is a common one. That option is easily debunked if the room has one doorway and you do a quick test of how many people in the group can fit in that doorway. If there are engineers or architects in the room they might point to certain structural strong points in the building and make a case for heading towards those. Some might also mention the Triangle of Life theory. This comes from a viral e-mail/internet message that recommends a complicated system for identifying where the void spaces will be in a structural collapse.

Here are the problems with all these ideas. First, they are based on the assumption of structural collapse. While there are no guarantees, building codes in the United States, especially in earthquake-prone areas like the Pacific Northwest, go a long way to minimize the potential for building collapse. Second, these theories fail to recognize that most injuries and deaths in U.S. earthquakes result from falling or flying furniture, equipment, lighting fixtures, and so on. Lastly and most importantly, none of these are quick solutions. When the ground starts shaking, all of that furniture and equipment could start flying in seconds. You won’t have time think, let alone call your engineer friend and ask him to recommend the choicest spot.

Emergency managers, public safety officials, and earthquake experts are unanimous in their recommendation for what to do: when the ground starts shaking (don’t wait for the official earthquake announcement!) drop, cover, and hold. Dropping, covering your head under a table, desk, or other sturdy furniture, and holding onto the furniture offers the best protection in most situations. Visit for more information.

Sadly, even after discussing this topic, if the ground actually starts shaking our room full of people are likely to follow their instincts. They’ll make a run for it. We’ve seen it time and again. Just look at Youtube videos of just about any earthquake. Unless you make a decision now to drop, cover, and hold and, better yet, you actually practice it, the fight or flight reaction is going to take over and you may get hurt.

I.D. Cards for kids, elderly parents or anyone

Last week, in my post, "Are your kids ready for an emergency?" I mentioned that it is a good idea to have I.D. cards for each of your children in the event of an emergency. While you probably agree that creating an I.D. card is a good idea, does the thought of actually making one seem a bit overwhelming? Don't stress, there are directions and templates for making these. Emergency preparedness enthusiast and home-school extraordinaire Barb Shelton just happens to make I.D. cards, and has created instructions for anyone to use in making these for yourself! You do need to have a basic knowledge of Word, but even if you've never made a table (which is what she uses), a tutorial on that is linked from within the instructions. But if even THAT seems over-the-top to you, Barb also makes and sells these cards. The order form is on the last page of the instructions. Here's the link to get you started:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

6 More Weeks of Winter

I'm not sure how much stock I put in the weather prognostications of a rodent, however, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow so it looks like we're in for more winter. How does this tie into Emergency Management? Well, just take this time to make sure you still have a well-stocked emergency kit in your car because there is still a chance of snow or ice. Also, from personal experience over the weekend, make sure you have jumper cables and know how to use them. It's really not fun to sit at Costco, in the dark, wondering if you can find a nice person to help you.

Prepare to Be Your Own Hero

The Prepare to Be Your Own Hero class scheduled for tonight was so popular that it is now full! If you wanted to take this class but procrastinated in signing up, you are in luck. Another class will be held next Tuesday, February 9th at 6:00 p.m. at the Todd Road Fire Station (415 Todd Road) in Kalama. I anticipate this class will fill up quickly also, so PLEASE call 577-3130 or email to register. For more information on what the class entails, click here. Take advantage of this free learning opportunity sponsored by your very own Department of Emergency Management.

Monday, February 1, 2010

As If To Illustrate My Point....

The Dive Team was busy early Sunday morning fishing a truck out of the Kalama River. Wasn't I just talking about all the work they do? For the whole story, click here. And for a story about what the Sheriff's Office, DEM and other public service agencies are working on for the coming summer, click here. Just for fun, click here.