The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nasty Weather Ahead

According to the Portland office of the National Weather Service, our area is in for some more ugly Spring Break weather. Snow is beginning to accumulate in the Coastal Mountains and in the Cascade Foothills. Very cool air has lowered snow levels to around 2000 feet this morning. Heavy rain showers will continue tonight and on into Wednesday. There remains a good chance of isolated thunderstorms throughout the day today. The snow level may drop to 1500 feet tonight before climbing back up to 2000 tomorrow. In other words, it's a good day to stay inside and watch a great movie.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preparing for Chemical Emergencies

*From Preparing for Hazardous Chemical Emergencies in Your Community, from the Washington State Emergency Management Division

Communities throughout the Pacific Northwest are subject to a number of chemical-related disasters. While we all hope that such occurrences never happen, it has been shown time and time again that being prepared for disaster is always the best bet.

One hazard that many people forget to prepare for is a major chemical emergency. Our own community has many industrial facilities that produce or maintain a variety of hazardous chemicals. Cowlitz County also has major railways and a freeway that often are used to transport chemicals.

What to do during a major chemical emergency:
  • You can be notified of a major chemical emergency by authorities. If you hear a siren or other warning signal, turn on a radio or television for information.

  • To get your attention, a siren could sound, you could be called from the county's Emergency Community Notification System, or emergency personnel may drive by and give instructions over a loudspeaker.
One of the basic instructions you may be given in a chemical emergency is to shelter-in-place. This is a basic precaution to keep you and your family safe while remaining in your home.

Steps to Shelter-in-Place
  • Go indoors immediately

  • Go into a room with the fewest doors and windows (bathrooms are usually safe bets)

  • Take your disaster supply kit with you (you have one, right?)

  • Seal gaps and cracks under doorways and windows with wet towels and duct tape

  • Listen to local radio or television stations, or a NOAA Weather Radio for further instructions

  • If time permits, close off nonessential rooms such as storage areas, laundry rooms, and extra bedrooms

  • Seal gaps around air conditioning units, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and stove and dryer vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting, wax paper, or aluminum foil.

  • Stay in the room and listen to your radio or television until you are told all is safe, or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community. Following the advice of local authorities is your safest choice.

  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains. To avoid injury, stay away from the windows.

  • You can provide a minimal amount of breathing protection by covering your mouth and nose with a damp cloth. Many chemicals can cause damage to breathing passages.

  • Immediately after the shelter-in-place announcement, fill bathtubs or large containers for an additional water supply, and turn off the intake valve to the house. Water supplies may become contaminated. Preserve the water you have available.

  • Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may be contaminated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Flood Safety Awareness Week

The National Weather Service has deemed March 15-19 as Flood Safety Awareness Week. Flooding is a threat in most areas, ours included. We're looking pretty good right now, but areas of the midwest, east and south are experiencing some heavy flooding at this time. Let's hope we stay nice and dry this spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

US Census 2010

April 1st is fast approaching for the 2010 U.S. Census. In 2000, Cowlitz County had a response rate between 69%-74% and Wahkiakum County rate was between 63%-68% compared to the national rate of 74%.
The U.S. Census Bureau began mailing advance letters to about 120 million addresses nationwide, notifying households that 2010 Census forms will be arriving March 15-17. The one-page letter urges households to complete the 10-question census form when it arrives and to return it in the accompanying prepaid envelope as soon as possible.
Census Bureau research shows that reaching out to respondents with an advance letter and reminder postcard if necessary can boost census mail-back rates and save money. For every 1% increase in households that respond by mail, taxpayers save about $85 million in operational costs associated with census takers going door to door to follow up with households that did not mail back the form.
Need to know why you should care? Check out this link. It is important and it does matter. Please take the take to fill out the forms and return them.

Set your clocks, check your stocks

No, not your Microsoft stocks, your emergency stockpiles!

When it’s time to change your clocks because of daylight saving time, remember to check your preparedness kit to make sure your emergency stockpile isn’t missing any items and that the food hasn’t expired. APHA’s Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign is reminding people to refresh their emergency supplies before a disaster occurs.

If you haven’t created a stockpile yet, now is the time to create one! (And as always, don’t forget to check the batteries in your smoke alarms.) This information is good year-round: You don't have to wait for the clock change to update your stockpile.

I checked my emergency kit yesterday and was I ever glad that I did! I had a handful of hard candy on the bottom that somehow turned to sticky goo and got all over some of my emergency food and first aid kit. I was able to get that cleaned up (and by I, I mean my husband) and then go through and rotate out the water that was getting ready to expire and swap out some canned foods. I feel all warm and fuzzy now and I know if an emergency were to hit and I needed my kit, it wouldn't be covered in cinnamon goo and infested with ants. Good times!

Monday, March 8, 2010

And You Thought Winter Was Over.....

Just when you thought it was safe to put away the gloves and scarves....Mother Nature has a way of reminding us who is in charge. According to the National Weather Service, some *snow* (dare we say it!) is on the way, so don't be surprised if the lawn you mowed this Saturday is sprinkled with some little white stuff. Now for the official info straight from NWS Portland:

Dramatically colder air spreading into southwest Washington
and northwest Oregon this morning...

After January and February brought one of the mildest starts to
the year in much of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon...
the lowest snow levels since last December were already spreading
into southwest Washington and northwest Oregon early this morning.

Snow levels had already fallen below 2000 feet across southwest
Washington and parts of northwest Oregon early this morning. A
cold front was moving through the Cascades but was weakening and
precipitation was decreasing. The snow level will continue to fall
today... to around 1000 feet this afternoon. However... snow amounts
will be limited as showers will not be very numerous. Only a
couple of inches of snow are expected during the day today in the
mountains... and just light amounts at lower elevations.

Snow levels will continue to fall tonight and will likely go below
1000 feet... however showers will continue to decrease tonight and
early Tuesday... so amounts will be limited.

Snow levels will remain very low as the next, more moist
and organized frontal system, moves in later Tuesday and Tuesday
evening. Snow levels could start out as low as 1000 feet... and
possibly even a bit lower.

Snow levels will likely rise for the following system expected
late in the week.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

6.4 Earthquake Hits Taiwan

Sixty-four people were injured today as a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan. For more on this story, click here. What do all these earthquakes mean? Who knows for sure, but it might be a good time to go over your emergency plans with your family. Just sayin'....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March is Red Cross Month!

Red Cross Press Release, Monday, March 01, 2010 — President Barack Obama has proclaimed March as Red Cross Month across the United States, a tradition upheld by every U.S. President dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943.
“The American Red Cross is there when people need us most. During March, we thank those whose support enables us to continue our work,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “Their generosity helps us continue to serve those who need us every day – whether they are down the street, across the country, or around the world.”


The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network – 97 million volunteers helping in 186 countries. In this country, the Red Cross helps change lives seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
• 200 times a day, American Red Cross volunteers help a family who has lost everything in a house fire or other disaster.
• 475 times a day, the American Red Cross connects deployed service members with their families.
• 21,000 times a day, a patient receives blood through the American Red Cross blood program.
• 43,000 times a day, someone receives life-saving American Red Cross health, safety and preparedness training.

Through its network of 34,000 employees and more than 600,000 volunteers in more than 2,000 locations across the United States and more than 30 countries around the world, the Red Cross touches the lives of millions of people every year.

The help of the American Red Cross extends around the world to those in need. In just a little over a month since the earthquake devastated Haiti, the Red Cross has helped more than one million people in the region. Relief efforts include providing clean water and sanitation, food and relief supplies, and health care. It will take many years for the people of Haiti to recover and the American Red Cross will work in close coordination with other organizations to support longer-term assistance projects.


Each year, the president of the United States proclaims March "Red Cross Month." How did this tradition come about?

Since Clara Barton created the American Red Cross in 1881, it was largely dependent for publicity and funds on the spontaneous support of people who learned of catastrophic events and the Red Cross response to them. News of an event broke. The American Red Cross rushed to the scene with help. People around the country came forth with outpourings of volunteer assistance and donations of funds and supplies.

A change occurred in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. After declaring war, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the American Red Cross to raise funds to support its aid to the military and civilians affected by war, as Congress had mandated. In response, the Red Cross held its first national War Fund drive in June 1917 and set as its goal $100 million, an astoundingly large sum at the time. The public response was immediate and overwhelming.

After the War, the Red Cross decided to make the Roll Call an annual membership and fundraising drive. In addition, it conducted special appeals from time to time in response to major disasters.

In November 1941, with war in Europe, the Red Cross conducted a highly successful 25th Annual Roll Call. A few days later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. The American Red Cross responded immediately by declaring a War Fund campaign. By June 1942, it had raised more than $66 million.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the month of March 1943 as “Red Cross Month.” The Red Cross set a goal of $125 million, the largest amount ever requested in one campaign by any American organization. Again, the response was overwhelming. It took less than six weeks to reach the target. By June 1943, donations totaled nearly $146 million. Roosevelt called it "the greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history."

This success compelled the Red Cross to repeat the March drive during the remaining years of the war and to make it the occasion of its annual membership and fund-raising efforts ever since. As part of the tradition, the President customarily issues a proclamation each year declaring March as Red Cross Month.


The Red Cross is thanking our supporters and urging people in America to continue to be involved with their local Red Cross. The Red Cross works tirelessly to be there with help and hope when people need it most, and we are grateful for the public support that enables us to continue our work, here at home and abroad.

We’re proud of our history and appreciative of the volunteers, employees and supporters who have given time, blood or contributions to enable the Red Cross to perform its life-saving mission.
Red Cross Month is a great time for people to get involved with the Red Cross by:
• Donating blood;
• Signing up for a CPR, first aid or another Red Cross course;
• Giving a financial gift that can really save the day when the next disaster strikes;
• Getting involved as a volunteer.

To contact your local Southwest Washington Red Cross please visit our website: or call us Toll Free: (888) 436-1966.


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit our website at or join our Facebook fan page at

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Like I Was Saying....

Check out this interesting article from The Daily News regarding the possibility of a Chile-esque earthquake in our future. (That's Chile, the country, not an earthquake caused from ingesting massive amounts of chili. Although, the latter is entirely possible as well).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cowlitz County Loses Former Sheriff Les Nelson

Former Cowlitz County Sheriff Les Nelson passed away on Saturday. He is the father of current Sheriff, Mark Nelson and a bit of a local legend.

Les Nelson began his work at the Sheriff’s Office in 1950 and retired after three terms as Cowlitz County Sheriff in 1986. He is most well known for saving the lives of several prisoners during a jailhouse fire in the early 1960’s and for the many other lives he saved for his common-sense decisions prior to, and after, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

For more information, click here to see the Daily News article.

Red Cross Response to Chilean Earthquake

The American Red Cross has made an initial $50,000 available for relief operations in Chile following Saturday’s massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake; and we stand ready to mobilize additional support, including relief supplies, trained personnel and additional financial assistance.
• Chilean Red Cross volunteers are providing limited search and rescue services, administering first aid and distributing pre-positioned supplies in close coordination with the Chilean National Emergency Office.
• A regional Red Cross disaster expert is now in Chile working with the local Red Cross to assess the situation, while an American Red Cross representative and a team of other Red Cross emergency workers are enroute.
• Some neighboring countries’ Red Cross leaders have been in contact with the Chilean Red Cross to offer their support, if requested. In addition to the $50,000 USD released by the American Red Cross the British Red Cross has offered another $50,000 GBP.
Our hearts go out to the people of Chile as they cope with the immediate aftermath of this devastating earthquake and its aftershocks.
• Chilean officials report that more than 2 million people have been affected by the earthquake and approximately 1.5 million houses may have sustained damage. Water and electricity have been severely restricted or cut off and communications systems are down.
• In Santiago, the country’s capital, the international airport is reported to have sustained damages, but has reopened. Major ports have also been damaged and bridges connecting the central regions of the country have collapsed limiting access to the affected regions.
• Volunteers in the affected region have been asked to report to their nearest branch office to support the response. The Chilean Red Cross has 29 branches in Bio Bio and 14 in Maule.
All tsunami warnings as a result of Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Chile have been cancelled. The American Red Cross will continue to closely monitor the situation and is prepared to help the people of Hawaii and the U.S. territories in the Pacific if needed.
• The American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C. has worked in close coordination with chapters in Hawaii, California, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas since tsunami warnings were issued early Saturday morning. As of Sunday afternoon, there are no reports of significant damage.
• The threat of yesterday’s tsunami serves as an important reminder that disasters can happen anywhere at anytime. The best way to make you and your family safer is to be prepared before disaster strikes.
• For more information of tsunami or earthquake preparedness visit

The American Red Cross is monitoring the situation in Chile while continuing to support the massive relief operations in Haiti, where more than 1.3 million people have been helped since the January 12th earthquake in that country..

• Over 600 Red Cross/Red Crescent workers from more than 30 national societies have been deployed to Haiti and are working alongside an estimated 13,000 Haitian National Red Cross Society volunteers.
• More than six weeks since the earthquake struck, the immense needs in Haiti continue. All humanitarian organizations, including the Red Cross, are racing against the clock to provide safe, waterproof shelter before the rainy season beings in April.
• As the largest global humanitarian network, the Red Cross has both the experience and the capacity to respond simultaneously to multiple disasters. Today, we are supporting the Chilean Red Cross in their response to the earthquake while relief operations continue in Haiti. Last fall the Red Cross responded to a series of major disasters that hit the Asia and Pacific region within a week: back-to-back typhoons in Southeast Asia, an earthquake in Indonesia and a tsunami in America Samoa and Samoa.