The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Your New Year's Resolution?

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, Americans who make New Year’s resolutions are eleven times more likely to report continued success in changing a problem than individuals who have not made a resolution. This New Year’s Eve, the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management wants to encourage citizens to make being prepared for an emergency their resolution. Below are a few simple steps to get the ball rolling.

1. Create a family emergency plan
Your family may not be together when an emergency happens, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. You can download a family emergency plan template at

2. Put together an emergency supply kit
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. To find a complete checklist of the supplies your household may need in the event of an emergency, visit

3. Be informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen in your area and the appropriate responses.
Learn about the hazards that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation. Get informed and be in the know at our blog: (well, look at that, you're already here!) and be our fan on Facebook: You can learn all about emergency preparedness on our website at How about getting an emergency text on your cell phone? Just text “Follow CowlitzDEM” to the number 40404. If you have questions, please call us at 577-3130 or email

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weather Update

From Portland National Weather Service






Monday, December 26, 2011

A Series of Frontal Systems Will Affect SW Washington this Week

Below is a weather message from the National Weather Service out of Portland.







Sunday, December 18, 2011

County Phones Restored

At 10:15 p.m. this evening, the Cowlitz County department phone system was restored. Thank you for your patience.

County Department Phone Outage

Cowlitz County Departments are experiencing a phone system outage with the seven digit County lines. Technicians are working on the problem at this time. If you dial the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, the Dispatch Center (business lines), Longview Police (because their lines are transferred to County after hours) and some County Offices you will get a busy signal until the problem is corrected.


If you have an emergency please dial 9-1-1, if you are reporting a crime that is not in progress please try the business number at a later time. All in progress or urgent reports will be handled on the 9-1-1 lines.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

10 More Shopping Days Left....

Stumped for stocking stuffers? Perplexed for presents? Glassy-eyed for gifts? Flummoxed on favors? Amazed by alliteration? Give the gift of preparedness! Here are a few of my favorite sites to get some great gifts: (a great local company out of Vancouver, WA) (another local company out of Kirkland, WA)

You can also get some very useful safety supplies here in town at Bob's at 1111 Hudson in Longview. If you really want to support the local economy, check out the camping supply section there. Pick up a handy flashlight or some freeze-dried food. How about a roadside safety kit for you mom?

Any dummy can give a Starbucks giftcard, but a really awesome person gives the gift of preparedness! (However, if you DID want to leave a Starbucks giftcard on my desk, I wouldn't mind).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Suspicious Contractors Contacting Elderly

Kelso, WA-Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson is warning citizens of several suspicious calls his office has responded to Monday morning involving suspicious men claiming to be contractors. In one case, jewelry was stolen.

Initially, Woodland Police responded to a report around 9:40 this morning of two men who came to a woman's door. When she opened the door, the male put his foot in the doorway and would not allow her to close the door. He claimed to have worked for her before. She claimed he was very pushy. Eventually, he and another male left in a later model silver 4dr car.
About an hour later, the Sheriff's Office received a similar call in the area of John St. in Lexington. The victim in this case, answered the door to a man who claimed to be a contractor. Another man asked her for some water, and when she allowed him in, he went to the bedroom and stole jewelry. Both men then left in a gray Buick.

Forty minutes later, an incident similar in nature occurred in northern Lexington. No entry was made to the residence and it is not believed anything was taken. The suspects in this case were unable to provide any identification or contractor license to the reporting party.
All three callers reported that there were 2 males, ranging in age from late 20s to 40-50 years old. The callers were a little unsure of the description as some believed the suspects were reportedly Hispanic and the other believed they were white. One had facial hair and was wearing a dark baseball cap, a gray jacket, a blue shirt and blue jeans, while the other one was reported to be wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. All stated that the two men were very pushy.

Sheriff Nelson cautions homeowners about opening their door to people unknown to them, and makes the following suggestions:
1. Don't open the door if you don't know the person, are alone, or have fears or concerns. It's okay to say "No", or to have them come back when someone you trust is there with you.
2. Don't allow someone in your home for water, to use the bathroom or telephone.
3. Ask to see identification and write down the information
4. Note the description of the person at the door, and any associated vehicles. Be ready to pass the information on to 911.
5. Call law enforcement immediately if you have concerns about who is at your door.

If anyone has information on any of these reports, please call Woodland Police at 360-225-8981 or the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office at 360-577-3092, or Crime Stoppers at 360-577-1206.

Air Stagnation Advisory

The National Weather Service has issued an Air Stagnation Advisory from now until 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Air quality is expected to remain poor throughout the week due to a strong temperature inversion trapping pollutant in the lower atmosphere. There may be some improvement Wednesday as a weather disturbance passes to the north and east, but will be brief.

An Air Stagnation Advisory is issued when limited movement of an air mass is expected to allow pollution levels to increase with conditions persisting at least 72hours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thrive Away from Home Class

All over the world we are seeing people forced to leave their homes because of man made or natural disasters. Many emergencies or disasters occur while people are away from their homes. How can you be ready if you and your family had to evacuate at a moment’s notice?

Marcie Maynes from Simple Safety will be in Longview to instruct a 2-hour Evacuation Preparedness Class called “Thrive Away From Home.” The class will be held at New Life Fellowship Church at 2441 42nd Avenue in Longview from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on December 8th. This class is similar to the Cooking in the Dark class, but focuses on evacuation. For more information, click here.

The class is $5 per person. To register and pay online please click here If you have any questions, please contact our office (577.3130) or a Simple Safety rep at 360.326.8971. Join us for fun, prizes and GREAT info!

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soggy Turkey Day

We have been following the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for both the weather and river levels. It appears that while we will have a rainy Thanksgiving weekend, we should not experience any unusual weather or flooding / high water events. The Cowlitz River at Kelso was forecast to reach flood level today but that forecast now shows the river cresting below flood stage.

The DEM duty officer will be monitoring the weather forecasts and river levels over the weekend and will send out an e-mail notification should things change. We will also post a notice on our Blog and by Twitter if the need arises. You can sign up for both of these notifications by going to our website at:

For those living along the Lewis River below Merwin Dam we have been notified that as of 10:00 AM today PacifiCorp has increased flow from the dam to 16,000 cfs. This is a low level increase and should not cause any problems to residents below the dam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wind Advisory Remains in Effect

From the National Weather Service:

Strong winds will continue across portions of NW Oregon and SW Washington through early Wednesday morning. The front is expected to shift south and weaken early Wednesday bringing an end to the strong winds.

Wind advisory remains in effect until 10:00 p.m. this evening for the Willamette Valley and Lower Columbia region. Gusty south winds will persist through the evening with south winds 20 to 30 mph with occasional gusts around 40 mph.

Flood Warnings for Naselle & Willapa Rivers

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the Naselle and Willapa Rivers. The Cowlitz and Lewis Rivers are still anticipated to remain below flood stage. There is already some minor flooding in the Westover Drive area and will likely be more urban and small stream flooding throughout the day into tomorrow. Forecasters predict another windy day on Wednesday with gusts possibly reaching 60 mph in Western Washington. Keep those umbrellas and flashlights handy!

A Safety Message from William Shatner...and DEM

Captains Log: Stardate 112211. We are entering a precarious phase of heightened kitchen fire danger .....known as "Thanksgiving," a human holiday comprised of .....gratitude, gastronomic revelry and ......napping. Most concerning of all the practice of deep frying large scale poultry ....without benefit of proper technique, personal protective equipment and fire suppression devices. Be safe crew....think...before you fry.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Road Closure and River Conditions Page

Don't forget to check our road closure and river conditions page if the weather gets extra nasty this week. Go to our website and look for the tabs along the left hand side.

Storms a comin'

The Portland National Weather Service is forecasting a large storm to hit our area Tuesday morning bringing high wind and heavy rains. They anticipate it will hit the Lower Columbia area around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and lasting until Tuesday evening.

Winds are expected to be around 25 mph sustained with gusts of 40-45 at times. With the trees still heavy with leaves combined with winds of this speed, there is a higher than normal chance of downed trees, branches and clogged drains. There is the potential for two to four inches of rain which will likely cause areas of urban and small stream flooding. The storm should head south by Wednesday to annoy the residents of northern California.

As always, we urge people to check their emergency kits and be ready for power outages, localized flooding and disruption to daily routines. If you have questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Friday, November 18, 2011


The following information is the latest from the National Weather Service about the potential for lower elevation snow in Southwest Washington/Portland, OR. As you will note, the forecasters are more confident there will be snow above 1,000' and less confident about a accumulations in the valley but it is best to be prepared.

• SYNOPSIS: A large upper level low pressure system will remain over the Pacific Northwest place through the weekend. This system will usher in a significantly colder air mass with widespread rain and snow showers and quite low snow levels for this time of year. The last disturbance associated with this low will move through southwest Washington and northwest Oregon late tonight and early Saturday.

• PRIMARY AREAS IMPACTED: Coast Range, Cascade Foothills and Cascades. Snow levels 1000 to 1500 feet today, lowering to 500 to 1000 feet later tonight and Saturday morning.


  • Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 5 inches in the Coast Range today and another 2 to 5 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches in the Cascade Foothills today and another 2 to 5 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • Additional snow accumulations of 3 to 7 inches in the Cascades today and another 4 to 8 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • 1 to 2 inch accumulations are possible later tonight and Saturday morning at the higher elevations around the Willamette Valley and the southwest Washington interior valleys, such as the West Hills near Portland and the hills above Hockinson, Washington. The snow may even mix down to even lower elevations briefly early Saturday with a light dusting as the coldest air is over the area and the disturbance mentioned above moves across the area.

  • Travel may become hazardous with snow covered roads or icy conditions.

  • Hikers, hunters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts should prepare for winter weather.

• TIMING: Through early Saturday morning (Nov 18-19). Snow potential decreases by Saturday afternoon as moisture becomes limited and the last disturbance moves east.

• FORECAST CONFIDENCE: High confidence in snow in the Coast Range, Foothills and Cascades. Low to moderate confidence in precipitation type for valley locations and the Gorge. Some confidence in accumulations closer to 1000 feet.

• UNCERTAINTIES: Primary uncertainty is snow level. Brief periods of snow or rain mixed with snow may reach near the valley floor in heavier showers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weather Alert

Below is a weather bulletin from the National Weather Service (NWS) we received this morning. We have put it into synopsis form below:

Wednesday: Windy with warmer (52) temperatures and heavy rain
Thursday: Heavy rain (1”) with colder temperatures
Friday: Colder temperatures with possible snow in the mountains and foot hills. Snow levels may drop to 1,000 feet over the weekend with highs in the low 40’s.

Read the full weather statement for all the details. Keep an eye on the weather and be ready for stormy weather. Go to the NWS website for further information.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Emergency Alert System has been Tested--What Next?

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency Blog

The Emergency Alert System Has Been Tested – What Next?
By: Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs

After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We are currently collecting data about the initial results, and it will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us the full results of their tests.

As we have been explaining throughout this process, this initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It’s only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment’s notice in a time of real national emergency.

As we often say here at FEMA, we’re just one part of a much, much larger team. To prepare for this test FEMA worked closely with state and local officials, the broadcast community, as well as nongovernmental organizations including the disability and faith-based communities.

So now that the test has occurred, we know many of you may be wondering…what next?

Well, first, we’ll be spending the next few weeks gathering test result data from the test’s participants, and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Under the FCC’s rules, test participants have 45 days from the date of the test to analyze their data and provide a full report to the FCC on the scope and reach of the test. In the meantime, FEMA is also interested in hearing from any stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways we can continue to improve it. We encourage you to email us at with any tips, suggestions or input you may have.

And looking ahead, this test was just the beginning of our much larger efforts to strengthen and upgrade our nation’s public alert and warning system.

As we work to build a more modern system, we will continue to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks, such as cell phones, smart phones, the internet and social media networks.

So to all of our partners, including the public, we want to thank you for your role in helping make this test happen. We look forward to working with all of you to incorporate the lessons learned from this test as we keep working a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.

A Few Bugs to Work Out with EAS

At 11:00 a.m., we observed the national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Here inside the Emergency Operations Center, we watched the test on TV, through the NOAA radio and regular radio on a Portland station. We saw the video screen message on KGW; however, there was no audio alert as promised. It appears there was no interruption of KOIN, NW Cable News or radio for this national test.

We want to share with you that the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is tested successfully every month in this region by local emergency management agencies and the National Weather Service for weather-based incidents. We have local confidence in this system AND it is only one of the methods that we use to share information with the citizens of our community.

We use the following systems to share information regularly with the public:
Flash Alert News ( which sends our press releases to the news media (and the general public can subscribe to receive press releases directly)
Emergency Alert System (the system tested today) which targets alerts over radio and television stations
Community Notification System (which is our phone-based out-dial system for targeted geographic-based alerts).
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Blog).

Remember, we exercise and test for a reason which is to find out if systems work BEFORE the disaster strikes. So, while we may not understand why or how today’s EAS system malfunctioned, there are many lessons being learned. Please share this with your stakeholders and community members so that this message gets out.

As always, if you have any questions about emergency response plans here in Cowlitz County, we are happy to assist and share our information with you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ham Exam

Note: Walk-ins No Longer Allowed - Pre-Registration Required (See Details Below)
• LCARA Clubhouse: 966 Lone Oak Rd., Longview WA
• 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
• Exam Fee: $15.00 (Cash Only!)
• First-time license or upgrades: Technician, General and Extra class exams will be given.
• Bring original and photocopy of radio license, original and photocopies of pending CSCEs, picture ID, and a calculator
• Pre-registration required. Contact Judi, K7HRW, at for information or to register.
• Pre-exam study online:
(You have to sign up for a free account to access the practice exams.)
• Free Refreshments!

Skywarn Weather Spotter Training

Don't forget, there will be a FREE Skywarn Weather Spotter Training on November 15th. The National Weather Services teaches this class periodically to people with an interest in severe weather spotting. The Skywarn program is voluntary, you will be trained on weather events similar to those listed in the Severe Weather Spotter Guide, and you may have the opportunity to call in several times a month depending on the weather pattern in your area.

The National Weather Service may also call you for "ground truth" as to what is actually happening near your house. Most likely their call would be to confirm an element of potentially severe thunderstorms, like large hail, or damaging wind. Other calls may be to verify heavy snowfall or peak wind speed associated with large winter storms.

The class will be held in Kelso on Tuesday, November 15th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Search & Rescue Rizad Building at 1800 Western Lane.
To register for the Cowlitz County class, please call 577-3130 or email

This Is Only A Test...

This Wednesday, November 9th, at 11:00 a.m. PST, there will be a national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This is the alert & warning system which sends tones and an emergency message to radio and television stations.

Here are some key things that you should be aware of:

• This test is expected to last 30 seconds despite initial reports which indicated that it would last as long as 3.5 minutes.
• Some cable television companies expect this test to disrupt programming. Comcast customers can find helpful information at this website:
• Some people may not see a familiar banner or crawl across their television screens depending on the technology being used. Some people may only hear a voice during the test that says this is a test.
• FEMA has released a good video about this test at
• We want to remind everyone not to call 9-1-1 during this test or broadcast.

Please know that this EAS Alert & Warning system is different than our phone-based notification system. If you have not registered your VOiP or mobile phone to receive direct alerts from Cowlitz Co Emergency Management, based on your geographic address, please go to our website to sign up your phone. Look for the “Alert Cowlitz County” button on the left side of the page.

As always, Cowlitz County Emergency Management will be paying special attention during this national test to how it affects our local community. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Change Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks

Yep, it's that time of year again. When you set your clocks back on Sunday, don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detector and check the expiration dates on your stored food, water and any medications you may have in your kit.

Don't wait until after your food and water expires and then throw it away. Check on stuff before it expires and then use it! Make a family indoor camping night---turn off all the lights and actually use your emergency supplies. It's not only a good way to use up food and water that's nearing its expiration date, it's also a good time to go over emergency plans and remember how to use emergency supplies. Plus, it's free family fun! Well, if you have teenagers, the fun level might be debatable.

So, not only do you get to score another hour of sleep (woo hoo!), you get a chance to make sure your kit is ready to go. It's also a great deal of fun to sing Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" as you're changing your clocks. What? Just me? Ok.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Info on National EAS Test

For more information on the National EAS test, click here to check out this blog post from our friends at CRESA.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie Preparedness Tips

It's Halloween! What better way to say Happy Halloween than to unveil our Zombie Preparedness Tips. Please, won't you share these with your loved ones so they, too, will be prepared when the zombies invade? Although, if you don't share these tips, that ups your chances of survival doesn't it? Hmm...a Halloween moral quandary...

So, how can you best prepare yourself and your family to survive the inevitable zombie invasion? Here are recommended items to include in a basic zombie prep kit:

WATER: Did you know that zombies HATE water? Well, they do. It’s best to store at least one gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days.
FOOD: It’s not safe to roam the streets in search of Big Macs or Mocha-chip Frappacinos during a zombie invasion. Make sure you have enough food on hand (that can be prepared without electricity) to feed your family for at least three days.
LIGHT: Zombies are creatures of the night, hence, they have a great disdain for light. Have plenty of battery-powered flashlights and extra batteries on hand. It’s also a great idea to have an LED headlamp to keep your hands free to protect your brains, if needed.
FIRST AID KIT: Have a comprehensive first aid kit and guide to basic first aid procedures. Be sure to treat any zombie bites with antibacterial gel immediately….before it’s too late.
WHISTLE: This is a great way to signal for help. Also, zombie ears cannot handle the pitch of a whistle and will stay far away.
DUST MASK: Zombies smell positively putrid, this should help with the stench as well as being useful against airborne contagions, chemicals or volcanic ash.
HYGIENE SUPPLIES: towelettes or baby wipes, garbage bags, hand sanitizer and feminine hygiene supplies. Zombies hate cleanliness and sanitary conditions.
TOOLS: Leatherman tool, wrench, foldable shovel, ax….you know why.
LOCAL MAPS: If you have to exit your zombie-occupied neighborhood in a hurry, it might be nice to know alternate ways around known infestation areas. Also, learn how to read a map. Consider purchasing a compass. Also, consider learning how to use a compass, if you don’t already know.

Prescription medications, glasses, diapers, pet food, cash...anything specific to you and your family that you might need if you had to evacuate quickly or be stuck in your home for an untold amount of time.

Our recommendation is to have two kits. One “STUCK AT HOME” Kit and one “GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE” Kit. The “stuck at home kit” should have plenty of items to keep your family comfortable and safe to stay in your home for a minimum of three days, perhaps without electricity.

The “gotta go” kit should be in a backpack, easily portable and have supplies that you would need to be comfortable and safe away from home. A “gotta go” kit is perfect for keeping in the car. Most people are never far from their vehicle and, in the case of sudden zombie occupation, you can get up and go with your gear already packed. Refuse to be a tasty zombie-snack—get yourself ready TODAY!

But how will I know if the zombies have come?

There are several ways to get emergency information.
* Listen to local radio stations for emergency updates.
* Watch Portland news stations.
* Read The Daily News or check it out free online at
* Subscribe to our blog at
* Follow us on Twitter: @CowlitzDEM and @CowlitzDEMChat
* Be our fan on Facebook to get updates on your page:
* Sign up for emergency text alerts by texting Follow CowlitzDEM to the number 40404.
* Register your cell phone to receive emergency messages from our ECNS system by visiting our website at

But seriously, Cowlitz County Emergency Management encourages citizens to be prepared for any emergency event--whether it is zombies or the more likely severe winter storm, flood, chemical spill, technological interruption or earthquake. It’s a good idea for everyone to be ready for whatever disaster or emergency comes our way!

There’s one foolproof weapon that will always defeat zombies. Be sure to keep it sharp!! What is it? Your brain of course!

Further Info on EAS Test (ASL & Spanish also)

More from FEMA's Blog
Administrator Fugate and FEMA’s Neil McDevitt explain the test in American Sign language:

Embed code:

Here's a video in Spanish to share:

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FEMA has been actively engaged with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission, our state, tribal, territorial and local partners, the broadcast community, and other key stakeholders in getting ready for this test. We hope that you will help us spread the word about the Emergency Alert System test by sharing these videos on your websites – or with your communities.

Copy the above code or embed the video from our YouTube channel.

You can read our blog post when we first announced the EAS Test and visit the FCC website for more information about the test, including additional answers to some frequently asked questions.

Emergency Alert System

Help Us Spread the Word – On November 9, “This is Just a Test”
Published by: Public Affairs

Over the past few months, we have written on this blog about the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is now less than two weeks away. The test will take place on Wednesday, November 9th at 2:00 pm eastern standard time (11:00 Pacific Time), and will be the first time this system, which is often tested and used by officials at the local level, will be tested across the entire country.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system can be activated by the President, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency. It is a critical communications tool that can provide alerts, warning and information rapidly across multiple television and radio platforms.

Our top priority is to make sure that all members of the public know that this test is coming up – and that it is just a test. For most of us, this test will look and sound very similar to the local tests of the Emergency Alert System that we often see on TV or hear on the radio.

But as we always say here at FEMA, we’re just part of the team – and we’re counting on all of you to help us spread the word in your communities, with your co-coworkers, neighbors, friends and loved ones.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are Zombies and Emergency Management the Perfect Match?

Um, duh...what have I been trying to tell you all for the past 5 years?!

Check out this great article from Emergency Management Magazine about the beautiful marriage between zombies and emergency managers. Metaphorical marriage, of course, a literal zombie marriage still being illegal in most states.

Click here for the gory, brains filled details.

Text Alerts for AT&T Customers

If you have signed up to receive DEM text alerts and did NOT receive a text regarding a missing 18-month old on Tuesday or about traffic lights being out on Wednesday, you may need to opt out of the program and opt in again. We've had some AT&T customers not receive messages lately and some sort of update seems to be the issue.

So, to opt out: Text Unfollow CowlitzDEM to the number 40404. (I realize "unfollow" is not a grammatically correct word and trust me, it hurts me more than it hurts you).

Then, wait a minute and text Follow CowlitzDEM to the number 40404. You should receive a welcome text that says something about Twitter. Just delete that. You may also receive the last text that we sent out.

This seems to just be an issue for AT&T customers. If you have questions, please feel free to give us a call at 577-3130 or send an email to

Now, if you haven't signed up to receive emergency texts.... I am looking at you with a disapproving look. To stop said disapproving look, simply text Follow CowlitzDEM to the number 40404. Voila! As Ryan Seacrest constantly says on American Idol, "Standard text messaging rates, please contact your carrier for more information." And by that, Ryan means if you do not have free incoming texts with your plan, texts may cost a small fee.

Small Earthquake Reported under Mt. St. Helens

A small earthquake occurred under Mt. St. Helens early this morning. For more, click here.

Flood Fight Class

From our friends at CRESA:
On Tuesday, November 1, there will be two unique opportunities to learn or refresh your skills on being prepared to actively fight floods in Clark County. Les Miller, from the Army Corps of Engineers, will be providing classroom and hands-on instruction on how to fill, haul and properly place sandbags. Classes will be held from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Clark County Public Works facility at 4700 NE 78th ST, Vancouver, WA 98665.

This class is good for any community member, volunteer or first responder. If you plan to attend this class, we encourage you to dress in appropriate clothing for the weather, including work gloves and good footwear as you will be outside for portions of this class. It is also helpful to bring your own shovel. This event will be held RAIN or SHINE and there is no need to pre-register. Just show up and learn how to help yourself or help someone else.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Psychological First Aid II Class

The second installment of the Psychological First Aid class will be held Thursday, November 3rd from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the General Meeting Room (3rd Floor) of the Cowlitz County Administration Bldg (207 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso).

You need to have taken either Psychological First Aid Part I or CERT Disaster Psychology as a prerequisite for this class.

If you are interested, please call us at 577-3130 or email to sign up.

Cowlitz Dive Rescue looking for volunteers

The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team is taking applications between November 1st and December 20th for Rescue Divers and Line Tenders/Surface Support. Applicants must be available 24/7 and have no felonies.

If you would like to be a part of a dynamic volunteer organization, please call the Department of Emergency Management at (360) 577-3130 during business hours.

Great weather outlook....

....if you're a duck. If you're not a duck or a soggy-weather enthusiast, then you might be less than excited over the National Weather Service winter weather outlook. For all the gory details, click here.

In a nutshell:
--Wetter than average precipitation expected
--Cooler than average temperatures
--Above normal snow in the Cascades

So, to prepare for the long, soggy winter ahead, I propose making sure you have the following:

1. Well stocked disaster supply kit for staying at home in case roads are washed out. Make sure you have plenty of emergency lighting and heat options.

2. Well stocked evacuation kit if you live in a low-lying area. Make sure it's stocked with warm clothes, extra medications and anything you might need if you had to be away from home for a few days.

3. Copious amounts of hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.

4. Plane tickets to a tropical destination, preferably for February or March when YOU JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE.

5. If you can't afford the previous, pop some Vitamin D and have someone shine an LED flashlight in your face while warming you with a hair dryer and simultaneously spraying "Hawaiian Aloha" scented Febreze. It's almost like a warm, tropical breeze. Almost.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Skywarn Weather Spotter Training

There are two upcoming Skywarn Weather Spotter Training Classes in November. The National Weather Services teaches this class periodically to people with an interest in severe weather spotting. The Skywarn program is voluntary, you will be trained on weather events similar to those listed in the Severe Weather Spotter Guide, and you may have the opportunity to call in several times a month depending on the weather pattern in your area.

The National Weather Service may also call you for "ground truth" as to what is actually happening near your house. Most likely their call would be to confirm an element of potentially severe thunderstorms, like large hail, or damaging wind. Other calls may be to verify heavy snowfall or peak wind speed associated with large winter storms.

There will be a class held in Battle Ground on Wednesday, November 2nd from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Clark County Fire and Rescue Dollars Corner Station #26, 21609 NE 72nd Ave, Battle Ground.

There will also be a class held in Kelso on Tuesday, November 15th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Search & Rescue Rizad Building at 1800 Western Lane.

To register for the Cowlitz County class, please call 577-3130 or email

Both classes are FREE and are great learning opportunities. Even if you choose not to be a Weather Spotter volunteer, you still get great information about weather and meteorology and you can annoy your friends and family with scientific weather facts. Yay!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Frosty times ahead....

From the PDX National Weather Service






More Great Ideas

Well, it looks like my previous post brought out all the readers with great ideas! Here are tips from our lovely readers:

Purchase head lamps. You can get them at Home Depot - 3 to a pack. They are inexpensive and worth it. They strap on your head like a head band. Elastic. If you have to go anywhere in the dark, it frees your hands up to carry things or keep balance, and every where you look, you get light! The Home Depot head lamps also have a flashing light option on them. You can turn that on, if you need someone to locate you in the dark! I thought these were my greatest find!

For the house, I swear by Lamp Oil lamps. I have 6! One for every room and plenty of lamp oil for them. They burn nicely and bright as needed.

Here's another: These solar powered side walk lights that people get at WalMart, etc., to place along their sidewalks or driveways for a little light at night make great flash lights in an emergency.

Great and practical ideas! If you have a great idea that you've used in your emergency preparations--feel free to send us an email at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Good Ideas

Every once in awhile, a loyal reader will send in some good tips or ideas that they use in their emergency planning. Here's some great tips I thought I'd share--courtesy of Barb!

Barb has cordless phones in her house, but she keeps a corded phone in a basket on top of the dryer, right near the phone jack that she'd be using.

Miss Smarty Pants also keeps Emergency Light Packs in Ziploc bags in every room.
In it, she keeps a flashlight, several candles, and matches in a place where she could easily find it in the dark.

I'm definitely going to be using the Emergency Light Pack idea. Way to go Barb!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shred Day

Cowlitz County Credit Unions want to help you fight identity theft by offering a free shredding event! This Saturday, October 22nd, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., you can bring up to three boxes of paperwork to be shredded at the Fibre Federal Operations Center at 796 Commerce Avenue in Longview.

They will also be accepting non-perishable food items for the Nourish our Neighbors food drive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Need a Corded Phone??

As I'm sure you know, if you have a landline and only have cordless phones, you won't be able to use them when the lights go out. That's why you should have a corded phone somewhere in your house, even if you only pull it out when the lights go out.

If you don't have one and are putting off getting one because you don't want to pay $15 dollars for something you may only use every 5 years, you're in luck. I was at the Rite Aid in Kelso today and in the sale bins up front they have corded phones (sleek slim design--oh la la!!) on clearance for $2.75. Score!

PUD Senior Fair Tomorrow

Stop by the PUD Auditorium tomorrow (October 13th) between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for their Senior Fair! It's going to be a great event with lots of vendors, information and FREE CFL lightbulbs. The only thing better would be if they gave away free coffee and cookies. WHAT?! They're giving away free coffee and cookies? Count me in!

Check out the flyer here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Special Weather Statement - Cold Air Funnels

Per National Weather Service

... Unstable air mass today may produce cold core funnel clouds...

The air mass over northwest Oregon and southwest Washington is cool and unstable today due to the recent passage of a cold front. This pattern can produce cold air funnel clouds. These funnel clouds do not usually touch the ground. However... if they do touch the ground they are dangerous and can be damaging. We have seen rotation in some of the showers this morning on the National Weather Service Doppler radar. So keep an eye on the sky today and please pass on any reports of funnel clouds you may have.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Take Winter By Storm

Do you want to know everything there is to know about winter weather safety? Do you want free printable emergency prep checklists and emergency contact cards? Do you want the option to read the information in a variety of languages? Of COURSE you do!!

Well, lucky for you there is a fantastic website called Take Winter By Storm where you can do all of those things! It's even specifically for residents of Western Washington, which makes it even better since we are a special breed of American. Off topic, have you seen the new Pemco Insurance Ads about Washingtonians? If not, check them out here, they are hysterically funny and right on target. I know I fall into a few of those categories.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keep Search & Rescue Donations Local

Cowlitz County residents have reported receiving fundraising solicitation calls and mailers from a group claiming to be with Cowlitz County Search & Rescue. This report has been researched and none of the search and rescue groups that support Cowlitz County are involved in this solicitation. It appears that this group operates from outside the county even though they have a mail drop in Longview.

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson recommends that citizens support their local search and rescue groups. Donations can be made to the Cowlitz County SAR Council, c/o Cowlitz County Emergency Management, 312 SW First, Kelso, WA 98626.

If you have any questions please contact Grover Laseke at Cowlitz County Emergency Management at 360-577-3130 or by e-mail at

Monday, October 3, 2011

National Animal Safety Month

October is National Animal Safety Month! Don't let an emergency or natural disaster take you and your pet by surprise. Your pets depend on you to be ready! If you need some help, here are some tips to help get started. From the ASPCA website:

Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

•Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
•Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
•Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
•Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits

Keep an evacuation kit and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. This kit should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include:

•Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
•3-7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
•Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
•Litter or paper toweling
•Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
•Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
•Pet feeding dishes
•Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
•Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
•Bottled water, at least 7 days' worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
•A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
•Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
•Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
•Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
•Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner.

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Home Depot Safety Day

Come check out the DEM Table at Home Depot's Safety Day tomorrow from 9 am to noon. We'll be there to hand out safety information and other goodies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Psychological First Aid Class

How can you best support survivors’ well-being following a disaster? Learn tips on what to say, what not to say and how to comfort people who have experienced a major crisis. Instructor Bernadette Dominguez, who has over 30 years experience in the mental health field, will teach participants about:
Psychological resilience—
What it is
Why it's the expected response
How to foster it

An overview of psychological first aid—
How to assure people are safe, secure, comfortable
How to assess if people are functioning adequately, and how to intervene when they're not
How to help people develop a plan of action

The class will be held this Thursday, September 29th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Health Dept. at 1952 9th Ave in Longview. This is a great class for emergency responders, volunteers or anyone who works with people in crisis. To register for this free learning opportunity, please call Jennifer at Cowlitz County Emergency Management at 577-3130 or by email at

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fibre to Let Off Some Steam

From Longview Fibre

Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc. will be undergoing a normal cleaning operation on one of its boilers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, beginning at approximately 7:30 a.m. The process is expected to conclude by the end of the day, but may carry over to the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 28.

The process includes blowing steam at various intervals throughout the day. Each steam blow will be preceded by a mill whistle. It is likely that the steam blow and mill whistle could be seen and heard in locations near to the mill. Longview wants to assure its neighbors that these events are part of normal operations, and that the sequence of events could occur as often as every half hour over the course of the day. Each sequence is expected to last two to three minutes.

Are You Ready for a Power Outage?

Yep, look out the window. It's that time of year again! Here are a few tips to get your family ready for blustery weather:

* Create a kit that contains flashlights with extra batteries and a battery-powdered radio. It is important that you know where your kit is and can easily find it in the dark. Just for kicks, you should blindfold family members and see if they can find the kit and successfully get out the flashlight. For even more fun get out the stopwatch and make it a competition!

* Cordless phones do not work without electricity, so have a corded phone on hand also.

* Know how to open your electric garage door when the power is out.

If the power goes out:

* Unplug electronics like computers, TV, microwave and don't turn them on again until lights have returned to normal brightness.

* Turn down thermostats and turn off the 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 while running. Only use barbecues or propane heaters outside.

* Leave a porch light switched on, as well as a light inside your home. That will let PUD repair crews know when service is restored.

* Report power outages to (360) 423-2210 or (800) 631-1131.

Be sure to follow Cowlitz PUD on Twitter to get updates on power outages! Click here to follow them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CERT classes starting now in Clark County

From CRESA's Blog
Are you leaning forward towards preparing for disasters in your neighborhood or community?

Both Clark County Fire District 6 and Vancouver Fire have Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes starting very soon. The Fire District 6 class starts Thursday night, September 22 and there are only 3 spots open for this class. Classes are Thursdays 7-9:30 pm on 9/22, 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20 with two Saturdays, 10/1 and 10/22.

Vancouver Fire has classes on 10/1, 10/8, 10/15 and 10/22.

Both classes are $30. Hurry as the next opportunity may not come around until next spring. Call Cindy @ 360.992.6285 for more information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why we use social media and why it's not going away

I thought this was a great commentary on why emergency management officials are really pushing the use of social media (mainly through blogs, Twitter and Facebook).

From (Twenty First Century Communications)

Not long ago, the only way emergency managers could alert the public about emergency events was through sirens, radio and television. The amount of time to reach the public could often delay breaking news as events occurred. Emergency managers were not assured that everyone in affected areas had been contacted. With alerts going out only in one direction, it wasn't possible for emergency managers to be able to quickly assess and gauge the public's safety and well-being during those events.

Since the advent of the Internet and rapid adoption of mobile technologies such as smartphones, the public has adopted social media at a dizzying pace. Social media is another tool in the tool box for rapid emergency notification, giving emergency managers the capability of a real-time way to send urgent notifications through powerful 2-way interactions that facilitate a way for everyone to read, respond to and share the information with anyone, all within seconds.

The ability to quickly reach such a wide and diverse audience and establish dynamic 2-way communications during events was unimaginable only a few years ago.

Some CR Residents To Be Without Water Tomorrow

The city will be installing a new water main tomorrow that will affect the following streets in Castle Rock: Cedar Street NE, Kirby Avenue NE, Roake Avenue NE, Maple Street NE, Downey Court NE, Alder Street NE, Thompson Court NE, May Avenue NE, Mallory Street NE, Fowler Lane NE and Taylor Lane NE

For more details check out the Daily News article here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hot Link

A faithful blog reader wanted me to share the following link with everyone: This is a forum for people interested in being well prepared for disaster and has lots of great resources, vendors and tips to help you get started or to help you strengthen the plans and supplies you already have.

Some thoughts on 9/12

The attacks on September 11th are my generation's Kennedy Assassination. People in my parents' age group can usually tell me what they were doing when they found out Kennedy was assassinated and how it changed that feeling of security, that feeling that America was somehow untouchable, charmed maybe.

That is what September 12th means to me. The 11th was surreal, the 12th was very, very real. I was 20 years old, living on my own and learning the ropes as a card carrying adult. September 12th, 2001 was when I realized America wasn't what I thought it was. It was like the first time you realized your parents didn't have all the answers, when you realized the Wizard of Oz was just a guy behind a curtain. America wasn't untouchable, wars didn't just happen to other people on the other side of the world.

This was terrifying to me as a young adult. I wasn't a child that could trust that I would be taken care of by "the grown ups." I was the grown up now. I had to not only take care of myself should attacks become more widespread, this also meant I had to really think about my decisions as a voter and as an American.

I had no control over what happened on September 11th. Neither did you. But I do have control over how I will be ready should similar events happen in the future. So do you. September 12th is a day to take control. Make a plan, make a kit, be aware of your surroundings. Use September 11th as a day to reflect and to mourn what was lost. Use today as a day to become stronger and ready to take on whatever is next.

Friday, September 9, 2011

6.7 Earthquake reported near Vancouver Island, BC

For the USGS report, click here:
That's a pretty large quake, a little too close to home....

Another Red Flag Warning Issued

The Portland National Weather Service has upgraded the Fire Weather Watch to a Red Flag Warning that includes all of Cowlitz County. The Red Flag Warning will remain in effect until Sunday evening.

A Red Flag Warning means that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition and propagation. There is still a burn ban in effect until September 30th. Click this link for more information.

If you would like more information on how to prevent wildfire and what to do if you see one, click here. Remember, every time you throw a cigarette out the window or don't properly extinguish your campfire, Smokey the Bear weeps. Have you ever seen a grown bear weep? It's awkward. Only YOU can prevent this.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Does America Have a Culture of Unpreparedness?

I thought this was a great article:

America's culture of unpreparedness

By: James Carafano 09/06/11 8:05 PM
Examiner Columnist

What happens when the lights go out? It depends.
On Nov. 9, 1965, an electrical power failure plunged Northeast America into darkness. The entire city of New York went black. Despite the inconvenience, New Yorkers passed the night quietly. The most notable fallout from the evening was a spike in births nine months later.

Contrast that with July 13, 1977, when two lightning strikes overloaded some Con Edison substations. The cascading power failure produced a blackout that lasted only one day. Yet it unleashed a night of terror and looting unseen in New York since the Civil War riots.

The moral: How Americans respond to disaster can vary greatly.

In America's most recent brush with disaster, millions lost power because of Hurricane Irene. Most seemed to bear the difficulties with a stiff upper lip, patiently waiting for the lights to come back.

Overall, the East Coast weathered this storm rather well. That's due, in large part, to the upfront work of state and local officials, who took the threat seriously. Evacuation orders were issued in a timely fashion. Precautions were taken. Stores were emptied of flashlights, batteries, propane and other power supplies that people felt they ought to have on hand in case of emergency.

But will they react as prudently and with such discipline next time? It is hard to tell. Predicting how Americans will react to a disaster is a bit like playing Russian roulette.

A culture of preparedness includes both the societal norms for preparing before a disaster and behavior demonstrated during the course of the disaster response. That response is governed by a number of factors, including culture and history.

Each nation has a unique culture of preparedness that colors how it views the challenges of public safety and disaster preparations and response. Japanese preparedness culture, for example, differs significantly from that of the United States. Japan is a much smaller country. When large disasters strike, they tend to affect the nation as a whole. The country has frequent disasters and they are of uniform character.

This uniformity makes establishing a common preparedness culture less challenging than it is in the U.S. Here, diversity reigns -- not just in terms of the makeup of the population, but also in terms of the geography affected and the scope and nature of the disasters experienced.

Perhaps because of these wide variations, Americans are more prone to "mood swings" when it comes to preparedness. How we respond reflects how we feel at the time.

Research by emergency preparedness experts shows that in the United States, people prepare for natural or man-made (technological) disasters only if they have some experience that makes them believe such disasters might actually affect them. Thus, people in Oklahoma take the threat of tornadoes seriously, and people in Florida prepare for hurricane season. Yet as the event recedes in memory, preparedness levels decline. For example, in California, as time between major earthquakes lengthens, preparedness levels drop off commensurately.

The experience of Sept. 11 did little to change this dynamic. The vast majority of Americans still pay little attention to preparedness for a terrorist attack.

What we do is a product of how we feel about our families, our friends, our neighborhoods and our communities. In America, preparedness starts at home. A culture of preparedness can only be built from the bottom up.

Building strong families, caring communities and a culture of responsibility, resilience and self-reliance is the best way to build a stronger nation. These solutions don't start in Washington. Indeed, when Washington does more, the nation often does less.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Heat Stroke--Don't Let it Happen to You!

A savvy-reader sent us a suggestion to post what to watch for to avoid heat stroke. We love our readers, so we were happy to oblige--here ya go:

Heat stroke facts

Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically, it is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated. Cooling the victim is a critical step in the treatment of heat stroke. The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.

Infants, the elderly, athletes, and outdoor workers are the groups at greatest risk for heat stroke.

Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two other forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke or sun stroke. Severe hyperthermia is defined as a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher.

The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises, sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher. Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

What are heat stroke symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heat strokes.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and aches, and dizziness.
However, some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.

Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heatstroke. Common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include:

high body temperature, the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse,
difficulty breathing, strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, disorientation, seizure, and/or coma.

Be safe, be cool and NEVER leave anyone in a car on a hot day!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Prepare?

Because, in the words of Mike Brady (and others) "Wherever you go, there you are." In any disaster, it is friends and neighbors who are first there to lend a hand. Check out this great article "In Praise of Ordinary People" about the common individual, often an overlooked asset in disaster response.

Who is going to be first to respond to a disaster that affects you and your family? Well, YOU are! Have you learned something valuable from this experience? Bobby? Cindy? Be sure to re-read the entire post in Mike Brady's voice. It really adds a little authority to everything!

Prepare to Be Your Own Hero Class Tomorrow!

Register today to attend Simple Safety's "Prepare to Be Your Own Hero" class coming up on Thursday, Sept 8th.

This class is the foundation for all personal and family disaster planning.

The following topics will be addressed:

1.Building an Evacuation Kit
How do I design an evacuation kit for any age and ability?

2.Personal Evacuation Procedures
How do I evacuate with all the supplies I need?

3.Individual and Family Evacuation Planning
Where can I go and how can I get there?

4.Family Reunification Planning
How do I find my family if I am separated from them?

5.Evacuation with Pets
How do I evacuate with my pet and where can I go?
What if I have to leave them behind?

If you've attended the "Cooking in the Dark" class, you'll love "Prepare to Be Your Own Hero." Residents of Cowlitz County have many reasons to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice (flooding, major chemical releases, wildfires, oh and that little volcano in our backyard!).

"Prepare to Be Your Own Hero" class will be held at the Northlake Baptist Church at 2614 Ocean Beach Hwy in Longview from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on September 8th. This class is $5 per person and each registrant will receive a $5-off coupon to purchase preparedness supplies from Simple Safety.

To register for this class, click this link here and follow the directions to pay online. If you are unable to pay online, or have questions, please contact Simple Safety at 360-326-8971 or email Or you can always call our office at 577-3130.

Heat Advisory

Along with the “Red Flag Warning” transmitted by the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office (Portland, OR) is this corresponding Heat Advisory. Further information can be obtained through the NWS at: .

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work, schedule frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Red Flag Warning Issued

The Portland National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Cowlitz and Skamania County. Dry lightning, low humidity and wind gusts to 35 mph are possible. The warning runs from midnight tonight until midnight on Wednesday. A Red Flag Warning means that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition and propagation. There is still a burn ban in effect until September 30th.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fire Weather Watch in effect starting Saturday

From Portland National Weather Service

Fire weather watch will be in effect from Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for dry and unstable conditions in the eastern side of Cowlitz County and in the Cascade Foothills

For fire prevention tips, click here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are you Veloci-ready? I am!

Today marks the first day of a very auspicious awareness month, an awareness that, quite frankly will probably save your life. Obviously, I'm talking about Velociraptor Awareness Month. To learn all about what to do when you are faced with a giant, angry, long-extinct reptile, please click here.

Many kudos to the bloggers at the Portland Red Cross for this hilarious and yet still useful post!

Dye Release in Mill & Germany Creeks Next Week

The Department of Ecology’s Intensively Monitored Watersheds study will be conducting a fluorescent dye time-of-travel study in Germany Creek and Mill Creek in Cowlitz County during the week of September 6, 2011.

The dye, Rhodamine WT, is red-orange. It is very visible at the point of injection, but disperses as it moves downstream. This is a harmless dye at the low concentrations we use, and is commonly used for this type of study. DOE tracks the dye with fluorometers installed at the upstream end and the downstream end of the reach. The fluorometers measure the concentration of the fluorescent dye, and the difference between the upstream and downstream dye concentration tells us how long it takes for the water to travel through the reach.

Now you know! Also, please note this is a "time-of-travel" study, not a "time-travel" study, which is what I thought when I first read the press release. I just wanted to save you the disappointment that I felt.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

National Preparedness Month Starts Tomorrow

This September, our nation will mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is a participant in National Preparedness Month in September, an event founded after 9/11 to increase preparedness in the United States. This event, now in its eighth year, is a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign, encouraging households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.

One of National Preparedness Month’s key messages is: be prepared in the event an emergency causes you to be self-reliant for up to three days without electricity and utilities, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or without response from police, fire or rescue. Preparing starts with these important steps:

Make a Kit—Prepare a kit of emergency supplies that will allow you and your family to survive for at least 3 days following a major disaster. The kit should include basic items like water, food, battery-powered radio, flashlights and a first aid kit. For suggestions on making a kit, visit or

Make a Plan—Plan in advance what you and your family will do in an emergency. Your plan should include a communications plan, a meeting point, and instructions on sheltering-in-place or evacuating. Go to for more information and templates to get you started.

Be Informed—Learn more about the hazards that could affect your community and the appropriate responses to take. Visit our website at, our blog at (hey, look at that, you're already here!), follow us on Twitter @CowlitzDEM and @CowlitzDEMChat, find us on Facebook at or give us a call at 577-3130.

Get Involved—After preparing yourself and your family, take the next step: get training in first aid, CPR and emergency response or consider volunteering with the Red Cross.

Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community! This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and all communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan.

For more about the Ready Campaign, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY, in Spanish 1-888-SE-LISTO and TTY 1-800-462-7585.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene highlights importance of social media

Check out this great article from CBS News on how Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites helped spread emergency information about Hurricane Irene. As slow as I was to warm up to Twitter, now I really see it's value as a very fast, very easy way to get important information out to a lot of people. The only problem is the very limited amount of people that use Twitter in rural areas such as ours. That's why we always say it's just one of the tools in our information toolbox.

Be A Ham Radio Operator

The Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) is hosting an FCC Amateur Radio Exam Session on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. The Session will run from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at 966 Lone Oak Road in Longview at the LCARA Clubhouse. Exam fee is $15, cash.

All 3 license exams will be given—TECHNICIAN, GENERAL, and EXTRA. Pre-exam study is encouraged. Please bring your photo ID, your original Ham license and a copy, any pending CSCEs, and a calculator. Free refreshments will be provided. Pre-register by calling Judi, K7HRW at 274-3480 or by email:

I M OK....R U OK?

Repost from CRESA's Blog

Those simple little letters could make the world of difference for you and your loved ones in an emergency. What is your next step when a disaster occurs and you can’t contact your family because cell phone systems aren’t working or overwhelmed? The answer could be as easy as sending a Short Messaging Service (SMS) or “Text” message. Do you think texting is just for teenagers? Think again.

Although the east coast earthquake this week wasn’t necessarily devastating, the panic that thousands of people felt was real. Many reached for their cell phones to let their loved ones know they were safe but that service wasn’t available. Those that knew how to, probably got through with text, as it uses different technology than making a regular wireless phone call.

Hundreds of thousands of folks are gearing up right now to protect themselves from Hurricane Irene. Staying informed before and during a disaster is worth its weight in gold - but, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. What is it worth to you to know that your family is safe? According to Verizon Wireless, most phones are capable of texting even if you don’t have a texting plan. It could cost you as little as a few pennies or as much as a quarter per call.

Before disaster strikes let you loved ones know what your plans are to stay connected. Call your family today, tell them you are practicing text messaging and send them a message that says “I M OK. R U OK?”. Have them reply with those simple little letters “I M OK”. There are plenty of adults and teenagers that can help you learn to text and the internet is full of articles that will help you learn. The Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) has a webpage developed to learning texting as well as WikiHow.

We recommend taking these additional steps to stay informed and connected before any disaster.
• Establish a Family Emergency Contact outside your area (and not within your same potential earthquake zone)
• Register your address with your mobile phone or email address to receive emergency message directly relating to your neighborhood or business with Emergency Community Notification Sign-Up.
• Use other social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to stay connected to your loved ones.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Evacuations Happen

Would you be ready for this? How about this?

If the answer is either a.) I don't know b.) No or c.) Crying in the fetal position, you may want to consider attending Simple-Safety's "Prepare to Be Your Own Hero" class coming up on September 8th. Click here for all the details.

Tracking Irene

Here's a map to track the path of Irene as the massive hurricane makes landfall. Is the east coast prepared for this disaster in the making? Is anyone? Keep your eyes on the news and follow the story as it happens. For our Twitter friends out there, if you're feeling brave follow #Irene and get real time updates from people in the midst of it.

Have we learned from Katrina? Irene will be the test.

Five years out from Katrina, Irene is blowing her way ashore. Has the US taken the harsh lessons learned from the preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina? Here are a couple of articles to ponder: and also

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Civic Center Closed To Traffic for Three Weeks

Click here for article from The Daily News regarding the Civic Circle closure starting this Sunday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Preparedness Class Coming Up!!

Register today to attend Simple Safety's "Prepare to Be Your Own Hero" class coming up in a few weeks.
From the Simple Safety Website:

This class is the foundation for all personal and family disaster planning.

The following topics will be addressed:

1.Building an Evacuation Kit
How do I design an evacuation kit for any age and ability?

2.Personal Evacuation Procedures
How do I evacuate with all the supplies I need?

3.Individual and Family Evacuation Planning
Where can I go and how can I get there?

4.Family Reunification Planning
How do I find my family if I am separated from them?

5.Evacuation with Pets
How do I evacuate with my pet and where can I go?
What if I have to leave them behind?

If you've attended the "Cooking in the Dark" class, you'll love "Prepare to Be Your Own Hero." Residents of Cowlitz County have many reasons to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice (flooding, major chemical releases, wildfires, oh and that little volcano in our backyard!).

"Prepare to Be Your Own Hero" class will be held at the Northlake Baptist Church at 2614 Ocean Beach Hwy in Longview from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on September 8th. This class is $5 per person and each registrant will receive a $5-off coupon to purchase preparedness supplies from Simple Safety. To register for this class, click this link here and follow the directions to pay online. If you are unable to pay online, or have questions, please contact Simple Safety at 360-326-8971 or email Or you can always call our office at 577-3130.

What To Do If the Ground Shakes Under You!

Re-post from Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency Blog:

With today's earthquake on the east coast, CRESA would like to remind you how to respond and be prepared to face an earthquake should we experience a similar shaking feeling here.

The US Geological Service has the following guidance about earthquake response:

Q: During an Earthquake should you head for the doorway?
Only if you live in an old, unreinforced adobe house. In modern homes , doorways are no stronger than any other parts of the house and usually have doors that will swing and can injure you. YOU ARE SAFER PRACTICING THE DUCK, COVER, AND HOLD under a sturdy piece of furniture.

Q: What should I do during an Earthquake?
If you are INDOORS--STAY THERE! (Get under a desk or table and hang on to it, or move into a hallway or get against an inside wall. STAY CLEAR of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. GET OUT of the kitchen, which is a dangerous place (things can fall on you). DON'T run downstairs or rush outside while the bldg is shaking or while there is danger of falling and hurting yourself or being hit by falling glass or debris.

If you are OUTSIDE-- get into the OPEN, away from bldgs, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.

If you are DRIVING--stop, but carefully. Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. DO NOT stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. STAY INSIDE your car until the shaking stops. When you RESUME driving watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.

If you are in a MOUNTAINOUS AREA--watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quake

Q: Things NOT to do during an Earthquake?
DO NOT turn on the gas again if you turned it off; let the gas company do it
DO NOT use matches, lighters, camp stoves or barbecues, electrical equipment, appliances UNTIL you are sure there are no gas leaks. They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion and fire
DO NOT use your telephone, EXCEPT for a medical or fire emergency. You could tie up the lines needed for emergency response. If the phone doesn't work send someone for help
DO NOT expect firefighters, police or paramedics to help you. They may not be available.

Q: What do I do after an earthquake?
WEAR STURDY SHOES to avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks.
CHECK FOR INJURIES (if a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound, use clean gauze or cloth if available; If a person is not breathing administer CPR; DO NOT attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in further danger of injury; COVER injured persons with blankets to keep warm; SEEK medical help for serious injuries

CHECK FOR HAZARDS (Fire hazards--put out fires in your home or neighborhood immediately, call for help; Gas leaks--shut off main gas valve ONLY if you suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor; Damaged electrical wiring--Shut off power at the control box if there is any danger to house wiring; Downed or damaged utility lines--do not touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them;
SPILLS--clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other harmful materials such as bleach, lye, gas;
DOWNED OR DAMAGED CHIMNEYS--Approach with caution--don't use damaged chimney (it could start fire or let poisonous gases into your house;
FALLEN ITEMS--beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open doors of closets and cupboards;
CHECK FOOD AND WATER SUPPLIES--Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass; If power is off, plan meals to use up foods that will spoil quickly or frozen foods (food in the freezer should be good for at least a couple of days; Don't light your kitchen stove if you suspect a gas leak;
USE BBQ or camp stoves, outdoors only for emergency cooking; If your water is off you can drink supplies from water heaters, melted ice cubes or canned vegetables (AVOID drinking water from swimming pools or especially spas--it may have too many chemicals in it to be safe.)