The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

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.)

Now THIS is what we're talking about!

Following yesterday's post about the East Coast Earthquake and my questions as to whether or not people are prepared at work, an intrepid subscriber emailed me what he keeps at work.

From his email:
Under my desk I have the following:
Stainless water bottle
1-pint water bottles (3)
Personal first aid pack
Leather gloves
Fire starting materials (jute string, fatwood, and cardboard)
Storm matches in waterproof container
LED headlamp w/ extra batteries
100 ft of paracord
Paramedic scissors
Pepper spray
Mini hack saw
Razor blade
Travel toilet paper roll and Kleenex
Folded sheet of aluminum foil
Emergency whistle
Emergency poncho (orange)
Dusk masks (8 – enough for friends?)
Emergency blanket (a.k.a. space blanket)
1 inch roll of Gorilla Tape
Compass on lanyard
P25 can opener
Leatherman multi-tool
Water purification tablets
Signal mirror
Electrical tape
Small screwdriver
Folding pocket knife
Credit-card sized survival tool
Small crow bar
Esbit fuel tablets

Work keeps anywhere from two to six 5-gal water bottles on hand at all times. So that will supplement my handful of water bottles if I need to shelter in place.

Something I need to keep at work or bring every day is a warm jacket, hat, and hiking boots. Even on days with moderately acceptable rain, I’m wearing a light coat, no hat, and dress shoes. No good, if I have to hoof it home 12 miles away.

This puts my little kit to shame! My advice today is to strive to be more like Andy. Andy is the MAN!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rattle and Roll

Colorado had the largest earthquake in 40 years yesterday, the East Coast from Virginia up to Toronto, Canada just experienced a very shallow and very violent 5.9 just now. Cell phones and landlines in the DC area are not working.

If this happened right here, right now, would you be ready? The Pentagon and numerous other buildings are being evacuated. Do you know your evacuation plan at your workplace? Do you know the emergency plan at your children's school? If you were stuck at work for a day, do you have extra food and clothes?

Time to think about these things! Check our website for more preparedness information at

Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Delays 8/21

The following roads will have spiffy new stripes starting Sunday, August 21st. Be prepared for short delays on the following roads:

Pacific Avenue N.
Holcomb Road
Pleasant Hill Road
Headquarters Road
Firlane Road
Sandy Bend Road
Hicks Road
Blauser Road
Waters Road
Cood Ferry/Hoyer Road
Beacon Hill Drive
Alpha Road
Nevada Drive
Olson Road
Inglewood Drive
W. Beacon Hill
Cedar Gates
Alpine Way
Parke Lane
Pacific Way
Coal Creek Road

The Tower Road Bridge Scour Project (which, ironically, is the name of my imaginary band) will begin Monday. One lane of traffic may be closed periodically during the term of the project, which is anticipated to be complete mid-October.

Have questions? Contact Cowlitz County Public Works at 577-3030 or visit their website at

Let's Have a SAFE Weekend

Rumor has it that this weekend is going to be hot! Hot weather is great, but it always seems to bring tragedies related to our areas lakes and rivers. Please be safe this weekend and practice good water safety habits. Wear a lifejacket, even if you're just washing your car. I wear one in the shower, just in case. Ok, I don't, but seriously, enjoy this beautiful summer weekend safely. We only get a few of them, make them count!

One More Training Burn in Longview Tomorrow

Longview Fire will be conducting one more training burn at the old Maple Terrace Apartments in Longview tomorrow. Maple Street will be closed, but access to the Longview Public Library will remain open. The training burn begins at 8:00 a.m. and will last until late afternoon.

Nearby residents, especially those with respiratory issues, may want to keep windows and doors closed to minimize smoke inhalation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drop, Cover and Hold Off on Triangle of Life

"Drop, Cover and Hold" is still the best method for earthquake safety in the United States and especially in our own quake-prone region. This recommendation comes from the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, in concurrence with the American Red Cross, FEMA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Unfortunately, e-mails have been circulating on the Internet for years incorrectly touting the "Triangle of Life" technique which allegedly use voids as a way to survive earthquakes. Simply put, the technique is not applicable for earthquake experiences in the United States. "Drop, Cover and Hold is the appropriate response to Earthquakes in the United States. We simply don't build structures the same way here as in other parts of the world." said King County Office of Emergency Management Director Robin Friedman.

The "Triangle of Life" is not appropriate for use in the United States because the research used to illustrate the method was based on earthquake response and recovery in Turkey, a country very different from the United States when it comes to building standards, construction and engineering techniques, and building codes. Earthquakes in the United States do not typically result in total building collapse or "pancake." As a result, when earthquakes strike in the U.S., the safest thing for children and adults to do is "Drop, Cover and Hold" underneath a desk, table, or other sturdy strong surface. Since there is little chance of a building collapse in the U.S., there's no need to use the "void" provided by an object like a couch.

"The Emergency Management community has worked for decades researching earthquake response and recovery throughout the world and gathering best practices," said Bill Steele, University of Washington Seismology Lab Coordinator. "Patented or not, we know what works. In the urgency of disaster, people need to instinctively know what to do. And the right message is to Drop, Cover and Hold." Added Friedman: "It is unfortunate that misinformation can spread so quickly online. I hope that people will instead use their networks to share the proper ‘Drop, Cover and Hold' procedure with the same enthusiasm to get information to the people they care most about."

To learn more about earthquake safety and mitigation, please visit For further information on flaws in the "Triangle of Life" theory, read this letter from the American Red Cross and an article from the Daily News.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do You Need an Attitude Adjustment?

I'm sure we've all asked this question of our children (or screamed it at them). The fact is, attitude and how we react to external factors is so much more important than the external factors themselves.

I was thinking this morning about a great quote by Charles Swindoll, a quote after which I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to model my life. "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes."

So, what does this have to do with emergency management or preparedness? In short, everything. Ten percent is what happens to you--a long term power outage, an evacuation due to flooding, being stuck in your home for 3 days because of a major winter storm. Ninety percent is how you respond to it. How you respond to the situation can be dependent on how well you've prepared for it--flashlights ready, evacuation kit already packed, disaster supply kit well stocked and ready. Now your bad situation is more of an adventure than a disaster.

Attitude and perception often go hand in hand. One person's perception of a "disaster" may be very different that someone else's. For example, if you ask my husband how many coats I own, he'd probably say I have a ridiculous amount. I would say I have a perfectly reasonable amount. What's reasonable to one person, may be completely ridiculous to someone else. (For the record, 4 coats is perfectly reasonable, each one has a unique function--duh!).

You can't control the fact that an earthquake leveled your house or you were without power for a week. But, the good news is you can control how it affects you and how you react to it, just by being a little proactive now. Control freaks of the world rejoice!

So, what will your attitude be?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

National Weather Service Open House

The Portland Weather Forecast Office and the Northwest River Forecast Center invite you to their Open House on Saturday, August 27th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at their headquarters located at 5241 NE 122nd Avenue in Portland. This is an exciting opportunity to check out the incredible meteorological technology that they use and a great time to learn more about weather and river level forecasting. For more information about this event, check out their webpage here.

Managing Emergency Water Supplies

Having clean water is vital in a disaster. Make sure you store bottled water and keep it in a cool, dark place.

How Much You Need--Most people need one gallon of water a day. Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill require more. Half a gallon is needed for drinking and cooking. Another half gallon may be needed for washing.

Make Sure It's Safe--During a disaster, you might not be able to drink the tap water. Listen to local radio and TV stations. Public health officials will announce whether it's safe to drink the water. Health officials may tell you to boil tap water before using it. If so, bring about a gallon of water to a boil for three minutes and then let it cool. Health officials may tell you to treat the water with chlorine bleach to kill germs. They will give instructions on how to do that on the radio or TV. If you aren't sure and need instructions, you can call your local health department.

Turning Off the Water--If your home is on a public water supply, listen to officials to find out if you can use water to flush toilets. If sewer lines break, you might have to turn off your water entirely. If you water is supplied by a well and the power is out, you will not be able to flush your toilet. You will need to store large amounts of water to fill the toilet tank for flushing.

Storing Water--If you know a major storm is coming, store as much clean water as you can. Fill your tubs and sinks. Use water in tubs and sinks for washing or flushing the toilet, but not for drinking. Wash and fill containers like empty soda bottles, pitchers and plastic storage containers with water and cover them (but not for any longer than a few days). If your water supply starts to run low, do not cut back on drinking water. Always drink the amount you need. If you keep cool and still, your body will need less water. Try not to eat salty foods or foods high in fat and protein. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine. Instead, eat canned foods that have a lot of liquid in them. If needed, you can drink water from other sources

From Home Safety Council Literacy Project

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Longview Fire Conducting Training Burns Near LCC

Don't be alarmed! The Longview Fire Department will be conducting training burns at the old Maple Terrace Apartments near LCC for the next two Saturdays. For the full story, check out the Daily News article here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mt. Solo Road Closure

Per City of Longview:

Due to construction activities, Mt. Solo Road will be closed to through traffic at Ocean Beach Highway from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 8/8 - 8/10. Detours will be in place. Local access to residents and businesses will be maintained.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Multiple Projects on Area Roads Next Week

From Cowlitz County Public Works

Multiple projects are occurring for the upcoming week. Drivers should expect delays of up to 15 minutes between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m in work zones.

Drivers will encounter slow moving paint striping trucks this weekend, August 5 – 7. Motorists encountering the lead buffer truck are asked to wait until the last truck has passed before entering the roadway. Drivers behind, or traveling opposite of, the painting operation should not cross the lane lines. If motorists do need to exit the roadway they should proceed slowly at a 90 degree angle. Paint drying times will depend on the weather, but it is generally dry within 5 minutes.

Old 99 South Beacon Hill Dr, Columbia Heights Road
North Columbia Heights Road, Lone Oak Road, Pacific Way
Cedar Gates, Monticello Drive – Montevale
Nevada Drive, Olson/Inglewood, Alpha Drive
Sunset Drive, Sunset Way, Coal Creek Road
37th ,38th, 46th
50th, Pine Street, Ohio Street
West Beacon Hill

Modrow Road, Spencer Creek Road, China Garden Road
Gore Road, Old Pacific Hwy, Vincent
Todd Road, Coverdale Road, Green Mountain Road
JE Johnson, Shirley Gordon Lane,
Sauer Road, Jaeger Road, Confer Road

Woodland/Lewis River
Frazer Road, Ham Road, Dolph Road
Shetler Road, N. Dubois Road, Merwin Village Road
Fredrickson Road, Englert Road, Old Lewis River – Hatchery
Old Lewis River – Golf Course, Niemi Road, Little Kalama River Road
Finn Hall Road, Nevala Road, Insel Road

The Tower Road Culvert Replacement Project has started at MP 2.72. One lane will be closed for up to five weeks. A temporary bridge will provide access through the site. Drivers should yield to opposing traffic.

Paving, or overlay, has began today, August 5, 2011. Overlay creates a level driving surface. Areas paved in 2011 will generally receive a chip seal surface in 2012. The following areas will be paved in the upcoming week:

Kalama River Road
Butte Hill Road
Pacific Avenue
Rocky Point

For information on projects, contact Public Works at (360) 577- 3030 or visit our website