The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Speed of social media evident in Norway violence

Click here for a great article from Emergency Management Crisis Comms blog regarding social media, emergency information and the need for instant, accurate information during an emergency.

National Night Out

National Night Out is coming up on August 2nd! To read more about what National Night Out is and where it originated, click here. We will be at Tam O'Shanter Park in Kelso from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. handing out FREE KNOWLEDGE about disaster preparedness, emergency information and more! Come see us!

If Longview parties are more your style, head over to Archie Anderson Park (Alabama Street at 21st and 22nd Ave), from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. for music and fun activities. Disney's Tangled will be playing in the park from 9:30 to 11:00 p.m. Nachos, candy and pop will be available for purchase.

The 100 block of 16th Avenue will be having their 12th Annual block celebration. The block will have the street closed off from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. City officials - City Council, LPD, etc. - will be stopping by to visit the celebration. If you have never had a party for National Night Out, this is a GREAT opportunity to have one and get to know your neighbors. Its never to late to have a party and give Crime and Drugs a going away party!

If you want some great National Night Out ideas, please feel free to contact Block Watch extraordinaire Linda Brigham at

If your neighborhood is having a celebration, please let us know and we'll help publicize it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Earthquake Info

According to the Cascadia Regional Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) earthquake study, there is an estimated 84% chance that the Pacific Northwest "will experience a serious, damaging earthquake within the next 50 years."

Check out the CREW website to learn more about historic earthquakes, risk reduction and learn how to protect your business.

We're living on borrowed time here people! Get prepared and get educated, it's not rocket science--it's common sense.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How's Your Disaster Memory?

When I talk to people about hazards in our area, I often get either blank stares or an eyeroll. Unless you were directly impacted, it's easy to forget the nasty stuff that can happen in our corner of the world (Mt. St. Helens, Aldercrest Landslide, Flood of 1996, Columbus Day Storm and all the minor emergencies in between).

Here's a great article from the New York Times on society's lackluster "Disaster Memory" and how we fail to listen to the lessons of our ancestors. The article directly addresses the Pacific NW and the large, dangerous subduction zone that we live on. Check it out here.

Five Tips for Emergency Preparedness at Work

I found this great article on Personal Preparedness Daily, Inc and though I should share it! The pictures you see are my actual work kit that lives under my desk (along with crumbs, dropped paper clips and an occasional pizza crust, this is true, ask Lori). The items shown are some food, water, deodorant, toothbrush with toothpaste, dust mask, radio/flashlight and a whistle. I also have a spare set of clothes, more food and water and first aid supplies inside. The possibility that I might have to be at my desk for 24 hours or more might be higher than yours, but in a disaster we might all be in the same situation! It never hurts to be prepared for anything, even if it's just a day that you forgot to put on deodorant. Your co-workers will thank you!

July 7th, 2011 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

When you’re headed into the office for another day behind your desk, emergency preparedness is probably the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, disasters can strike at any time, and you always need to be ready. Places of business are required to have some emergency procedures in place - an evacuation plan, a first aid kit - but there are many ways to be prepared that companies ignore… and things you can do for yourself at work to make sure you’re ready.

Red Cross training courses.

If your company doesn’t already have a program set up for you to learn first aid/CPR/AED, talk to your HR representative about setting one up. Your local chapter of the Red Cross should have a wealth of options for different programs and training courses like the Red Cross Ready Rating Program, which is free to businesses, schools, and organizations!

Your other disaster supply kit.

Everyone knows you should have one at home, but if you don’t have one for work, get one. It needs to be kept in a single container, and small enough that you can just grab it and go in case you need to evacuate the building. The kit should include three days worth of essential food, water, and emergency supplies like Band-aids, pain relievers, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a blanket. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a supply kit in the car as well, which should also include flares, jumper cables, and any weather-related supplies you might need for the car.

The evacuation plan is your friend.

Read it, learn it, know it. Take special note of the exit routes for your building and where fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and stairways are located along the path. If your company somehow doesn’t have an evacuation plan, offer to make one. The best way to know it is to create it yourself.

Carry an emergency card at all times.

This should include your name and list of important contact numbers in case of emergency. Let’s face it, with cell phones many of us don’t know more than a few phone numbers anymore, and we don’t know if cells will work in an emergency, so a written list has taken on even more importance.

Above all, be practical.

Women who wear high-heeled shoes to work should keep a pair of comfortable flat shoes at their desk. Don’t let your water rations run low and expect that you’ll just be able to fill up at sinks and water fountains. Don’t prepare anything that’s even close to being perishable. And absolutely be mindful of the season and create your emergency kits and plans accordingly.

Read more:

This is a picture of my unquestionably fabulous footwear today! However fabulous they may be, they are not practical for running or walking long distances. Really, they are not practical or necessary for anything except making me happy, that's why I ALWAYS have a pair of tennis shoes nearby!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Caution for VoIP Users

The FCC defines VoIP thusly: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some VoIP services may only allow you to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number - including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers. Also, while some VoIP services only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone, other services allow you to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter.

Sounds good, right? People like VoIP services because they can have one phone number where they can always be reached (cell, home, etc), bills are often lower than traditional landlines and long distance calls are free. While a VoIP phone looks like a traditional phone, it connects to the Internet, NOT a telephone line. So, what does that mean for you?

It means that some VoIP providers do not provide enhanced 9-1-1 information to dispatchers (name, address, callback number) and no VoIP numbers are automatically in the ECNS reverse calling system. This is easy enough to fix by registering your phone number with the ECNS system, click here more information.

Even if a VoIP phone is programmed to call 9-1-1, the call may not route to your local 9-1-1 Communications Center or you may hear this message, "You must dial 9-1-1 from another telephone. Nine-one-one is not available from this telephone line. No emergency personnel will be dispatched. Please hang up and dial 9-1-1 from a different phone."

The call might also be directed to a non-emergency number and not given the same priority as a 9-1-1 call. Additionally, your name, address and the number you are calling from may not be provided to the answering center. If you are unable to speak, help cannot be sent to you. VoIP phones generally do not work during a power outage, so this is another aspect to think about when signing up for a VoIP plan.

Comcast Digital Voice is similar to VoIP, but does not have the same drawbacks. Click here for technical jargon that explains why it's different.

This is not to say that no one should use VoIP services. We just want people to be informed consumers and always have a backup plan! Before you sign up for a VoIP service, take the time to ask the provider if 9-1-1 will work, if your name and information will automatically be provided to the 9-1-1 Communications Center and if the call will automatically be routed to your local center.

So, in summary, if you have VoIP or are looking to switch to a VoIP system, great, go for it. But, know what you are getting into and adjust accordingly!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why 72-hours?

If you know anything about preparedness or emergency management, you'll know that we are constantly saying to be prepared to be on your own for 72-hours (at a minimum). Why do we say that? Why 72-hours?

If we had our way, we'd say to be prepared to take care of yourself without any sort of resources or intervention for 72 YEARS, but we can't all grow our own food, perform our own surgeries or live purely on solar power, now can we? I know I sure can't!

Seventy-two hours is, commonly, the amount of time it takes following a major disaster for first responders, government agencies, Red Cross, etc. to get mobilized, get a handle on the situation and get a solid game plan. That may seem like an eternity to someone stuck in their house with no electricity following an earthquake, but to people charged with responding and maintaining order, it can feel like a split second.

There are a lot of moving parts to an effective emergency response. I would encourage anyone who would like to see firsthand how to manage and respond to a major disaster to volunteer for the Red Cross. You will see why it takes time and how much planning goes into opening and then maintaining an emergency shelter. Or volunteer as a fire fighter or a reserve police officer. You will see why the initial response takes time and coordination to be effective.

We all get annoyed at bureaucratic red-tape and endless procedures and protocols that only slow down actual progress. Trust me, I feel your pain. But in some instances, the protocols for disaster response are there for a reason. When we don't take time to coordinate what resources respond where, we end up with 300 gloves, when we needed 300 cots or responding to a school where a few people were hurt when more urgent help was needed at a nursing home.

There are other issues that can slow response, especially following an earthquake. In most plans, after an earthquake of 5.7 or greater, bridges must be inspected by a certified engineer to determine if they are safe for use. If a shelter needed to be opened, it too must be inspected to ensure it's structural integrity was not comprised by the earthquake. This takes time, but is a better alternative than opening a shelter, a safe-haven for people that are frightened and displaced from their homes and having it collapse and create a secondary disaster.

I'm not saying that every emergency response is perfect. In fact, following every disaster from something as small as a few homes engulfed in flames to an unthinkable scenario like Hurricane Katrina, there can be examples of inadequate, inefficient, downright inept decisions. But again, in every disaster response, there are examples of clear thinking, proactive measures and heroism, it's just harder to spot them because when things move along as they should, you don't stop to think about why they're moving.

So, yes, it may seem like we're asking a lot when we suggest you spend your hard-earned money on an 72-hour supply of clean water, non-perishable food, flashlights and first aid supplies that you may never use in your lifetime. But, if the time comes, you'll understand why 72-hours on your own and a good helping of patience, is not too much to expect.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Free Boat Inspections

The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office will be providing free boat safety inspections Saturday, July 16th at Willow Grove Boat Launch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is welcome to bring their boats and personal watercraft. There will be free handouts and other boating safety information available.

Once inspected, each boat that passes the inspection will receive a 2011 Marine Safety Inspection Decal.

The boating inspection checklist includes:
* Registration Numbers: Properly displayed.
* Current Decal: Properly displayed.
* Certificate of Numbers (Registration): On board the vessel.
* Mandatory Education Card: For operators 35 years old and younger.
* Motor Vessel Checklist: For rentals.
* Personal Flotation Device (PFD): USCG approved and proper size.
* Personal Flotation Device: Adequate number and in good condition.
* Personal Flotation Device: Type IV for vessels 16' and over.
* Personal Flotation Device: Worn by children 12 and under.
* Fire Extinguisher: Approved and charged.
* Muffler: Adequate condition.
* Lights: Properly displayed (night only).
* Distress Signals: Adequate working order.
* Flame Arrestor: Clean and adequate.
* Sound Device: Horn/Whistle/Bell.
* Ventilation/Blower: Adequate and operable.
* Ski Flag: Properly displayed.
* Carbon Monoxide Decal: (Gas only; no PWC)
* Personal Watercraft (PWC): Lanyard and operators 14 and older.
* Aquatic Invasive Species: Clean hull.

Power Outages

Lots of power outages this morning. 750 PUD customers near Beech Street and Oregon Way in Longview are out of power and 185 customers along Westside Hwy, Casey Road, Chapman Road, Barnes and Imboden are also without power this morning. Estimated timeline for repair is 2-4 hours.

--Update--Gotta love our PUD, both outages were fixed well before estimated timelines. Thanks for keeping us "electrified!"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pet Prep!

Don't forget your pets when you're working on your Disaster Plan! Click here to sign up for a free "Pet Rescue Alert" sticker from the ASPCA. This sticker lets first responders or rescuers know that there are pets inside. Also, take a moment to read over the ASPCA's pet disaster preparedness tips. Fluffy will thank you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Burn Ban Begins this Friday

An outdoor burn ban begins this Friday. All land clearing, residential and tree burning will be restricted. For all the details check the SW WA Clean Air Agency website here or call the Fire Marshal's office at 577-3052.

Longview Fibre to test mill evacuation sirens

Longview Fibre will be testing its evacuation alarm at 7:10 p.m. on the following dates: July 15, 17, 19 and 21. The alarm will be tested at 7:10 a.m. on July 22nd. These sirens can be heard quite a few miles away from the mill in all directions.

Eat pancakes--help kids!

Sounds like a win-win to me! The Safe Kids Applebee's fundraiser breakfast is this Saturday, July 16th. Safe Kids volunteers will begin serving pancakes and sausage at 8:00 a.m. and end at 10:00 a.m. $5.00 tickets are being sold at the Kelso Police Department, Longview Fire Department & Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Safe Kids mission is to prevent unintentional injury to children. The money that is raised through donations and fundraisers is used to purchase bicycle helmets, car seats and life jackets that are distributed in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties.

Is Your Vehicle Prepared?

Please take a moment to check out this blog post and accompanying video from our friends at CRESA (Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency). The video is from a dash-mounted camera during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Click here for the post. If that happened to you---would you be prepared?

Friday, July 8, 2011

STP Bike Ride This Weekend

Expect long delays on Westside Hwy and Industrial Way this weekend, the STP'ers are coming to town! The Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic is one of the 10 biggest recreational bike rides in the country. Crazy folks...oops, I mean brave souls, start their adventure at the crack of dawn in Seattle and ride approximately 202 miles to end up exhausted in Portland.

The route map can be found here, so adjust your weekend plans accordingly and remember, yes, you might be inconvenienced but it's only two days out of your life so be cautious, be patient and be considerate. Feel free to apply this advice to all areas of your life, I won't even charge you a cent.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Help Meals on Wheels Win a Van!

From Lower Columbia CAP Meals on Wheels:
Attention Volunteers and Friends (especially Facebook friends)!

Dear Volunteers and Community Supporters,

At Lower Columbia CAP, we have a chance of winning a new van for our Meals on Wheels Program and we’re asking for your help to get the word out.

We are one of 500 nonprofits in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest. Each day for 100 days, 5 nonprofits compete to see who can get the most votes on

Our day is next Wednesday, July 13. We are a smaller community up against four nonprofits in larger metropolitan areas, so we are appealing to our families, friends and professional colleagues to help us get the votes to win.

It’s very easy: Please forward this message to your family and friends, asking those who have Facebook accounts to go to

If you click on this link, Facebook will remind you to vote next Wednesday, July 13.

The only way we have a chance of winning the new van is through our supporters getting the word out to their networks of friends and families.

Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summertime Safety

It's summertime and that means fun in the sun and cooling off in our area's beautiful rivers and lakes. After enduring months of rain and cold, of course the Washingtonian has a ravenous, pent-up need for sunshine! Please remember that our rivers are swift and very cold, no matter what the outside temperature.

Swimming can be a great way to have fun while getting full body exercise. However, each year between 4,000 and 6,000 people drown in the United States. It is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 15 to 44 years old. Shockingly, it is believed that two-thirds of the people who drown are believed to never have had any intention of being in the water. Since tragic water accidents happen quickly, we have compiled the following information to help everyone have a safe and fun summer.

By keeping these few simple things in mind, you can make your experience in the water much safer.

*Learn to swim before you go into the water. Sounds silly, but many people think it will come naturally, and it really doesn’t.
*Swim near a lifeguard so help is available if you need it
*Never swim alone
*Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present
*Don't rely on flotation devices, such as rafts, you may lose them in the water
*Alcohol and swimming don't mix
*Protect your head, neck, and spine by jumping feet first into unfamiliar waters
*As soon as you believe that you may be in trouble, call or wave for help
*Follow regulations and lifeguard directions
*Swim parallel to shore if you wish to swim long distances

Swimming and playing near water are favorite summer time activities of children everywhere. Parents and guardians need to pay extra attention and make sure they protect little ones from the dangers that water presents. Here are some points to consider about water safety for children.

*Never leave a child alone near water. Accidents happen in seconds, so if you have to leave, take your child with you.
*Watch out for neighborhood pools. Whether it is your own or your neighbors, toys that are left around the pool can attract children to the water.
*If you have a pool, make sure you surround it by a fence that is tall enough that children cannot climb over, and with a gate that locks.
*Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. Lessons won't make your child "drown-proof," but they will increase their safety and prepare them for a lifetime of fun in the water.
*Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.
*Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
*Parents should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Friday, July 1, 2011

What does DOTT want now?

Behold DOTT with her snazzy purple cellphone. Good thing she has unlimited nights and weekends to call her boyfriend R2D2! DOTT no longer has a landline phone, she's a busy robot on the go, who needs it?! She still wants to receive emergency information and alerts from the Department of Emergency Management. What's a robot to do?

Simple! Your Do One Thing Today is actually two things. If it's too much to handle, pace yourself and break it into two days. First, register your cell phone with the Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS). Landlines are already in the system, but VOIP and cellphones are not. To register your cellphone, look for the Alert Cowlitz County icon on the righthand side of the blog. You may have to scroll down. See it? Click it, follow the directions and go from there.

See, that wasn't so hard. Next, sign up to get emergency texts. You don't have to have a fancy cellphone to get these emergency texts, any cellphone with text capabilities can do it. All you have to do is text the words Follow CowlitzDEM to the number 40404 and you will get any emergency alerts from our Twitter feed. After you sign up, you will get a return text that says something about Twitter, just delete it, you don't have to join Twitter to get our alerts. You won't be inundated with texts, we only use this account for important information. Should you tire of receiving emergency alerts, simply text Unfollow Cowlitz DEM to 40404 and it will remove you.

If you have questions about either of these alerts, please email us at or give us a call at 577-3130, we're happy to help!