Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
- Water (one gallon, per person, per day for at least 3 days, more if you have pets)
- Granola bars with a long shelf life (Nature Valley ones are good)
- Canned fruit (enough for each person in your family for 3 days)
- Canned vegetables (something that you and your family will eat, no need to torture yourself with lima beans if you know you'd rather starve than eat them)
- 4-5 cans of meat (doesn't have to be unidentifiable mystery meat, there are some very tasty varieties of canned white-meat chicken)
And that's it. Put all these new treasures into the large plastic tote that you bought last week and you're on your way. Now, you may be tempted to grab some cheap canned food at an outlet or liquidator. While I love shopping for bargains at places like Prospector Liquidator, I would caution using those canned food items for your kit. There is a reason they are discounted and it's generally because their "use-by" date is rapidly approaching, which is counter-productive for long-term storage. Take a minute to look at the date and make sure you can store it for 6-months to a year. Happy shopping!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Also, these are a lot easier and more durable to carry around in an evacuation kit than a gallon jug of water. I keep these things everywhere--a dozen in my freezer as ice packs, plus they could help keep freezer food cold longer following a power outage. I keep a bunch in my car, in my evacuation pack, in my shelter-in-place kit and in my desk drawer in my office. I have also taken about 6 straws from Capri-Sun juice pouches and taped them to the pouches in my 4-year old's emergency kit because then he could just stab the straw in and drink the water like a juice pouch. I can't imagine him attempting to drink from a bag, it would probably result in a secondary disaster....
These are also great because they have a 5-year shelf life. I bought a few boxes last December and they are good until May of 2015. It's nice not to have to worry about rotating water until 2015, by which time I will have been elected intergalactic supreme ruler and will have minions to take care of my preparedness needs.
So, where do you get these cool things? You can order them from Simple-Safety, on Amazon, from PrepareSmart or you could try The Survival Bunker in Kalama. I don't know if they carry the pouches in their store at 447 N. First Street in Kalama, but I bet if you called 830-822-1210, they could help you out. Also, an instructor from Simple-Safety will be leading a preparedness class on April 21st in Kalama and you can purchase a box at that time and not pay shipping. If you are interested in this option, send us an email at DEM@co.cowlitz.wa.us and we'll talk.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Putting together a well-stocked disaster supply kit doesn't have to be an overwhelming and costly task! If you just put a few extra items in your shopping cart over the next 12 weeks, you will find yourself with an amazing resource to help you withstand whatever disaster is thrown your way. It may be sunny today, but that dismal weather will return---it always does. Remember our motto--the only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness! Example: the electricity is out for two days and you're stuck at home. Disaster would be if you had no emergency lighting, blankets, water or ready-to-eat food. Major catastrophe. Adventure would be to light some candles, eat some camping food and tell ghost stories. Wholesome fun for the whole family, right?! A day at Disneyland, it's not, but it's better than sitting in the dark, while hungry and cold. Make sure that dreary image stays with you on your next trip to the grocery store.
So, here is "Week 1" of your 12-week shopping guide. Just toss in these extra goodies each week, you'll barely notice the extra cost and one day you might be very glad to have them. You can thank me later, I accept cash.
* 2 boxes of large plastic zip bags (to keep things organized and waterproof)
* 2 rolls aluminum foil (for emergency cooking)
* 2 boxes heavy duty garbage bags (for sanitation, garbage, shelter, whatever)
* Large portable plastic tote with lid (to store everything in)
See that wasn't so bad! Check us out next Wednesday to see your next mission...
Monday, March 21, 2011
The single most important item in your disaster supply kit is water. The human body can generally survive for 30 days or more without food, granted those 30 days would suck big time. However, a body can only survive without water for about 3 days. I've heard people say that they don't need to store a bunch of water because they can drink out of their water heater or the tank of their toilet. In theory, yes, you can do this. In reality, do you really want to? Have you looked in your toilet tank? Do you know what kind of gnarly floaties live in your water heater? Do you really hate yourself and your family that much that you feel they need to drink out of the toilet? Maybe you do, and that's okay, I'm not here to judge. But--if you value yourself and your family, you'll set aside a few bucks to buy yourself some decent emergency water. Here are a few tips:
•Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day in a cool, dark place. The average individual must drink at least two quarts of water every day. Children, nursing mothers, the elderly and people in warmer climates need more. Additional water should be reserved for personal hygiene and food preparation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourages individuals to store enough water to last a minimum of three days - bearing in mind that water is needed for drinking as well as for personal hygiene.
•Choose appropriate containers for water storage; disinfect before use. Personally, I wouldn't store water in any plastic containers that have ever stored juice, milk or soda (or antifreeze or lighter fluid). Seriously, there is nothing that will remove the taste of what has previously been in there. Also, milk jugs are very, very low quality plastic. Not only will they leach chemicals into your water, after about 3 months they'll start to seep and leak and eventually crumble altogether. Honestly, it's much less hassle to just buy water already sealed in a gallon size or more. Make sure to check the label and rotate it as needed. There's no need to waste it once it's beyond its date. Just use it to water flowers or to clean something. The reason that there is a "use by" date is not because the water itself expires, it's that after a year or so the plastic begins breaking down. Those chemicals that are leaching into the water are NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Trust me. Rotate it.
•Another good option is to buy three or five-gallon polycarbonate bottles (#7) and fill them with tap water. The #7 in the triangle on the bottom of the bottle means that it is a much higher quality plastic and will last longer without leaching. You can fill up these bad boys and not worry about rotating them for 5 years. Most municipal water is already treated with a variety of chlorine and fluoride, so there isn't a need add additional bleach. If you get your water from a well, you might consider adding a few drops of unscented bleach. The standard formula is about 10 drops per gallon of water. (Drops, like from an eye dropper, not 10 pours). Then seal the container and put a piece of tape on it with the date so you know when to rotate it. Also, you don't need to throw out the bottle after 5 years, just replace the water so it's fresh. The bottles are good for about 20 years.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Radiation from the nuclear power plants in Japan is not a health risk for Washington. Since the failure of the power plants in Japan, radiation levels in Washington have not climbed above normal background levels and we do not expect they will.
Several factors play a role in protecting us from the release of radiation occurring at the damaged reactors in Japan:
• Most of the radioactive material is contained at the damaged plants; even if radioactive material reaches the upper atmosphere, it would not reach Washington in concentrations high enough to cause a health risk.
• The radioactive material that was released did not reach the upper atmosphere where it could be carried toward North America by the jet stream in amounts that would cause public health impact
• The fires and explosions at the Japanese reactors have not been as intense as the Chernobyl accident. Radioactive material ejected into the jet stream from Chernobyl did reach Washington in small amounts. Even after the Chernobyl disaster, protective action was not needed in our state, and the Japan incident is much smaller than Chernobyl.
• Even if radioactive material is released in Japan and reaches the jet stream, it would take several days to get here because the nuclear plants are about 5,000 miles from our state. In the time it would take to cross the Pacific, it would mix with lots of air as it’s blown in the wind (thus diluted); rain would wash some of the material from the air into the ocean.
• Radioactive decay, especially for short half-life radioactive materials such as iodine-131, would substantially reduce the amount of the radioactive material that could reach here.
For these reasons, it’s unlikely that we will see an increase in background levels of radiation in Washington. Even if a small amount of radiation did reach us, it would be well below levels that would pose public health concerns.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
On health-specific situations, the Cowlitz County Public Health department has a more specific public health emergency plan because health emergency situation are often slower-developing and involve additional laws beyond RCW 38.52 (which is the law which pertains to most emergency situations).
What Would You Expect to See Happen During a Radiological Hazard Situation?
Atmospheric Monitoring occurs by the State Department of Health (this is occurring now).
Monitoring provides data that suggests there is a possible threat to human health.
State Health Departments notify Local Health Departments & Emergency Management agencies.
State and/or CDC provide protective action guidelines for the general public.
Local Public Health and Emergency Management agencies work with stakeholders to conduct notifications to policy officials and community and implement any recommendations or guidelines.
Depending on the nature of the missions & personnel need to complete key tasks, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) may be activated to coordinate these issues.
Where Are We At Right Now?
Atmospheric Monitoring is underway. And, to date, there is no evidence to believe that a local threat exists in this situation. As with any potential emergency, the best thing you can arm yourself with is knowledge. Also, make sure that you are reading and watching credible sources, don't believe everything that every basement blogger says (What's that? Irony, party of one?). For a list of websites to learn more about radiological emergencies, click here and scroll to the bottom. The more you learn about something that scares you, the less intimidating it becomes. The only exception being spiders, the more I learn about spiders the more they freak me out.
How does the state measure radiation in the environment (air and water)?
We collect air samples on filter paper (for particles) and charcoal cartridges (for iodine); we also collect rain water. We send the samples to our Public Health Laboratories or to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lab for analysis. Samples from the RadNet system go to the EPA lab. Samples we independently collect go to our labs in Shoreline.
How do you know the measurements are accurate?
The EPA lab is nationally recognized for its expertise in radiation analysis. The samples we send them include blind air samples with known concentrations of radioactive elements so we can be sure we’re getting accurate results from our tests. Our Public Health Laboratories undergo the same rigorous testing.
Will the radiation from Japan affect our drinking water in Washington?
No. We do not expect contamination to be detectable in our water supplies.
How much radiation is naturally found in Washington’s environment?
It varies around the state. At sea level, the total average annual radiation dose is about 620 millirem per year from all sources. That includes natural radiation in soil, radiation from outer space, the amount found in foods we eat, medical X-rays, etc. In Spokane, higher levels of natural radium in the soil raise that to about 1,600 millirem per year.
How dangerous are these radiation levels?
Radiation is found naturally in the environment, and while it can be higher in some places than others, it generally is not a health risk at background (normal) levels. Exposure to higher levels of radiation can be harmful to health, though. Elevated radon, for example, has been shown to cause excess lung cancer, according to EPA; however, we do not see elevated cancer rates as a result of this in Washington.
How does that compare to a dental X-ray?
A dental X-ray is about 20 to 25 millirem to the tooth. Dental X-rays are included in the numbers reported above.
Are radiation levels the same in all parts of the state?
No. Because of naturally-occurring radon levels, the east side of our state has higher radiation levels than the west side. Elevation is also a factor. At sea level we pick up an average of about 20 millirem per year due to cosmic radiation. That increases about 1 millirem per year for every 100 feet above sea level, so someone living at a 1,000 foot elevation would pick up an average of 30 millirem per year from cosmic radiation.
What about Hanford: are radiation levels higher there?
Hanford is a unique site with high radiation levels in certain places onsite, but there’s little chance of an impact offsite. Hanford was once a source of potential offsite radiological problems, but with efforts under way to clean it up, those problems are becoming less and less each year.
Should cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy take special precautions?
Are there other sensitive populations that should take precautions in our state?
No, because we do not expect concentrated radiation from Japan to reach Washington.
Some of the fuel in one of the reactors has plutonium in it. Isn’t that more dangerous?
Not in this situation. When we estimate plumes from our own commercial reactors, it’s the lighter elements such as iodine isotopes that turn to a gas or are such light particles that they escape the reactors. We do not see uranium, which is the predominant radioactive element in the fuel. Nor would we see plutonium, another radioactive element. Heavier elements such as uranium and plutonium settle out quickly, and would not reach the upper atmosphere and travel thousands of miles from Japan to Washington.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
227 PM PDT TUE MAR 15 2011
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PORTLAND HAS ISSUED A
* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL COWLITZ COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON...
* UNTIL 300 PM PDT.
* AT 225 PM PDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
CASTLE ROCK...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25 MPH.
* OTHER LOCATIONS THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR INCLUDE...
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING MEANS LARGE HAIL AND/OR DAMAGING WINDS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. THOSE IN THE PATH OF THE STORM SHOULD SEEK SAFETY IN A STURDY BUILDING...AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.
How much radioactivity do you expect to come to Washington from Japan’s reactors?
We don’t expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and there’s no health risk. Japan is thousands of miles from our state, and if radioactivity from the reactors there is released to the upper atmosphere it would be thinned-out by the winds before it could reach us. We could see a very small increase in radiation levels — well below levels that would be a health concern. We’re working with federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated effort to monitor radiation levels in the air and rain water.
Would increased radiation levels cause health effects?
It’s not possible for enough radioactive material to cross the ocean to cause any health effects to our residents. There’s no need for people here to take protective action.
Does the State stockpile Potassium Iodide (KI)?
The events in Japan do not indicate a need for anyone in Washington to take protective action like using KI. The state does not stockpile KI; there are federal stockpiles of medical supplies including KI for distribution to all states if an emergency made that necessary. There are no conditions at the plants in Japan that would require people in the U.S. to take KI.
How can I buy KI on my own?
The state doesn’t monitor or track private inventories of such products, and there’s no indication of a need to use KI based on the nuclear events in Japan. KI is available over the counter; some pharmacies carry it in stock or will order it. KI can also be purchased online. We do not advise the public to purchase KI. It’s not an “anti-radiation pill;” it’s only helpful in very specific conditions, and protects only against radioactive iodine. More information on KI is available online from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why don’t you think KI will be necessary in Washington in the wake of Japan’s nuclear problems?
KI protects the thyroid against high concentrations of radioactive iodine, which is a type of radioactive material that is very unlikely to make it to the upper atmosphere. If it were to get in to the upper atmosphere, by the time the winds blew it from Japan to other parts of the world such as Washington, it would be at such low levels that it would pose no health threat to people. Levels would be diluted by wind and distance. Potassium iodide is typically given to people who are very near the source of high levels of radioactive iodine, such as nuclear plant workers or residents near the plant who may not be able to get out of the area soon enough after a nuclear incident. In Japan, for example, the evacuation zone is within 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, of the plant. We’re thousands of miles away. The state Department of Health recommends against KI for people in this state concerned about radiation from the Japanese nuclear event.
With many pharmacies out of potassium iodide (KI), Internet sources suggest taking large doses of iodine water purification tablets. Is that a good alternative?
NO. In fact, state health officials counsel against taking anything to prevent against radiation exposure when there’s no unusual radiation source. There’s no scenario involving the nuclear plants in Japan that would lead to a recommendation for people in Washington to take KI.
Other sources of information on the implications of the Japanese reactor accident:
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
International Atomic Energy Agency
Environmental Protection Agency
World Health Organization
American Nuclear Society
International Radiation Protection Association
National Academy of Sciences
Nuclear Energy Agency
Also, just to dispel a common misconception, funnel clouds do not produce funnel cakes. This is unfortunate, as funnel cakes are delicious. Funnel clouds do, however, produce concentrated high winds and are basically a weak tornado that does not have a visible portion that reaches the ground. If you spot a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately. For more info on this weather phenomenon, click here.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Nuclear event in Japan poses no health risk in Washington; state monitoring
OLYMPIA: The state Department of Health is conducting ongoing air monitoring for radiation to see if the nuclear plant incident in Japan has affected radiation levels in Washington. There have been no elevated readings.
The agency’s Radiation Protection staff expects no public health risk in Washington, and the monitoring is precautionary. If the situation changes in Washington, the Department of Health will inform the public.
State health officials are monitoring the events in Japan, and are in contact with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency. An explosion took place at the Japan reactor site Saturday.
The nuclear plant incident in the wake of the earthquake in Japan has raised concerns among some people in Washington about windblown radiation coming to our state. Air sample readings in our state remain normal. The Department of Health Radiation Protection Program doesn't expect any change in environmental measurements taken in Washington.
Even in the event of a significant release from the reactor, radiation would be diluted before reaching our state and levels would be so low no protective action would be necessary. The state health department will continue its monitoring work as the situation in Japan develops and changes.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
This is the first time I truly understood what does 'Japan has a rigorous earthquake building code' means. Our office was shaken up quite a bit - books, papers and everything from shelves had fallen to the ground and piled on desks. Shelves that were screwed to the floor were also uprooted and toppled over during the tremours. Basically, a mess everywhere. Everyone told me that there will be lots of cleaning to do at home. However, I was hugely surprised when I walked into my apartment (a tall high rise of 36 floors built just last year and touted to have superior earthquake proof technology)...everything looked fine. A few books were scattered on the floor but everything else was pretty much OK. I was needless to say VERY impressed.
While waiting outside near the moat after evacuation, I was getting a bit hysterical at some point when the aftershocks hit...cars were shaking, buildings swaying and a tiny piece of a building apparently going to tear off. The motions were just beneath my feet and all the while thinking there is absolutely nothing anyone can do. That was frightening. And must say was calmed down when I noticed that everyone around there was calm. There were people and cars everywhere but no real chaos. People were rushing to the convenient stores (or combini) to buy up food but everyone was civilized...putting things in shopping baskets and lining up to pay for the goods. The shelves were emptied very very rapidly and that was scary to see...I was a bit late and so did not have bread for tomorrow's breakfast. But did get onigiri (rice balls).
Some companies seem to have also prepared helmets for their employees...
There is still swaying as I type this but much less aggressive...
Ai Lin Chun
If you watch some of the video footage coming out of Japan you can see for yourself how well the buildings withstood the immense shaking. The earthquake was listed as a magnitude 8.9 from the USGS, making it the 5th largest earthquake in recorded history.
Click here for a great article from the New York Times on how Japan's strict building codes saved an untold number of residents following last night's earthquake.
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, usually an ocean, but can occur in large lakes. Owing to the immense volumes of water and the high energy involved, tsunamis can devastate coastal regions.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides and other mass movements, meteorite ocean impacts or similar impact events, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
When the wave enters shallow water, it slows down and its amplitude (height) increases. The wave further slows and amplifies as it hits land. Only the largest waves crest.While everyday wind waves have a wavelength (from crest to crest) of about 100 metres (330 ft) and a height of roughly 2 metres (6.6 ft), a tsunami in the deep ocean has a wavelength of about 200 kilometres (120 mi). Such a wave travels at well over 800 kilometres per hour (500 mph), but owing to the enormous wavelength the wave oscillation at any given point takes 20 or 30 minutes to complete a cycle and has an amplitude of only about 1 metre (3.3 ft). This makes tsunamis difficult to detect over deep water. Ships rarely notice their passage.
As the tsunami approaches the coast and the waters become shallow, wave shoaling compresses the wave and its velocity slows below 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph). Its wavelength diminishes to less than 20 kilometres (12 mi) and its amplitude grows enormously, producing a distinctly visible wave. Since the wave still has such a long wavelength, the tsunami may take minutes to reach full height. Except for the very largest tsunamis, the approaching wave does not break (like a surf break), but rather appears like a fast moving tidal bore. Open bays and coastlines adjacent to very deep water may shape the tsunami further into a step-like wave with a steep-breaking front.
When the tsunami's wave peak reaches the shore, the resulting temporary rise in sea level is termed 'run up'. Run up is measured in metres above a reference sea level. A large tsunami may feature multiple waves arriving over a period of hours, with significant time between the wave crests. The first wave to reach the shore may not have the highest run up.
About 80% of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean, but are possible wherever there are large bodies of water, including lakes. They are caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic explosions, and bolides.
Hydrologic river models indicate that if a tsunami wave enters the
mouth of the Columbia River there may be a small increase in water
level and wave energy that could travel up the Columbia River
later today. The increase in wave energy may cause some
disruptions to floating homes and/or commercial shipping moored in
Please stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio or your local media source
for additional information.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
They aren't the only couple that had to be rescued after getting stuck in the snow. A Vancouver couple missing for four days were able to flag down campers near Cougar last week. More on that story here.
Fortunately, both couples had no serious injuries, but the consequences could have been much worse, especially where a young child is involved. The moral of both stories is to make sure to tell a friend, neighbor or family member where you are going if you plan to travel in inclement weather. Even if you are just going for a Sunday drive to look at the pretty snow, make sure you have adequate food, water, blankets and other preparedness supplies.
No one intends to get lost or stuck, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared for it. In fact, it hurts not to.
SEATTLE -- March is American Red Cross Month, a great opportunity for citizens, families and businesses to review disaster plans and build or restock emergency kits. According to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, the American Red Cross not only provides help, hope and healing when disaster strikes, but also offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, disaster response and emergency preparedness training.
"The Red Cross is FEMA's major partner coordinating food and shelter during catastrophic disasters, but the key to any successful emergency response, regardless of the nature of the event, is personal preparedness," said Murphy. "Red Cross classes and resources help people prepare with a few simple steps: build an emergency supply kit, make an emergency plan, and stay informed of the hazards in your area. These resources can go a long way towards empowering our communities to make a real difference when the chips are down."
American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap Counties in Washington State CEO Randy Hutson certainly agrees. "We know that any steps you take today to prepare will help mitigate damage when disaster occurs," said Hutson. "We encourage people to evaluate their own personal preparedness, and this month serves as a great reminder."
Each year the American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap Counties brings together 2,500 people to care for their neighbors, train 100,000 people in life-saving skills and respond to a disaster about once every other day. To find your local SW Washington American Red Cross chapter, visit: http://www.swwredcross.org/
Resolve to be Ready in 2011 is led by FEMA's Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and The Advertising Council. For more information on the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, visit Ready.gov and CitizenCorps.gov. Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema. Social media links are provided for reference only. FEMA does not endorse non-government websites, companies or applications.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.