The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye to 2012!


"This year was characterized by extremely active and devastating weather events across the country; flooding in the Southeast as a result of Tropical Storm Debby and Hurricane Isaac, wildfires across the Midwest, and Hurricane Sandy which devastated parts of the Northeast and was the second-largest Atlantic storm on record.

As 2012 comes to a close and people make resolutions for the new year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging everyone to Resolve to be Ready in 2013 by committing to emergency preparedness.

As we have seen in 2012, including the recent severe weather affecting many parts of the country during the holidays, disasters can strike anytime, anywhere, and being prepared is one of the most effective things we can do to protect our homes, businesses and loved ones. Resolve to be Ready in 2013 is a nationwide effort to increase awareness and encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to take action and prepare for emergencies in the new year.

"Resolve to be Ready is one new year's resolution you'll want to keep," said FEMA Region IV Administrator Phil May. "There are simple steps you can take to prepare for emergencies, such as putting together an emergency supply kit and creating a family emergency plan. Taking these steps will help keep you and your family safe, and could be the most important pledge you make."

By making a resolution to take a few simple steps in advance, people can minimize the impact of an emergency on their families, homes and businesses. To take the pledge, visit which includes free information, checklists and guidelines about how to put together a kit and make a plan.

Spread the word to your loved ones and encourage them to Resolve to be Ready in 2013. Anyone can learn more by visiting or

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."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Have a Communications Plan

Since your New Year's Resolution is to be more prepared for disaster (isn't it? it is now), why not start with a "family communications plan."  Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify that they are safe.  After a major emergency, it is often easier to make a long-distance phone call than it is to call across town.

Be sure every member of your family knows vital land-line phone numbers as well as cell phone numbers.  Consider adding coins or a prepaid phone card to your emergency kit.  If you cell phone has an "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) contact function, program your contacts today.  If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you now. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Your Phone is Your Friend

Your wireless device (phone, iPad, Kindle Fire, whatever) is a great resource during an emergency.  Maintain a list of phone numbers--police, fire, power companies, insurance providers, friends, family and co-workers.  Make sure friends, family and your workplace have your cell-phone number and, if possible, forward your home phone to your cell-phone number if you have to be away from home or must evacuate.

Send brief text messages rather than voice calls.  Often text messages will get through when wireless networks are overwhelmed during a crisis.  Finally, limit non-emergency calls and texts to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for vital communications.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolve to Be Ready in 2013!

Need a good New Year's Resolution?  How about being disaster ready?  Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.  In order for you and your family to be safe, planning is important.  Check out for great disaster preparedness information.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cold and Windy

According to the latest forecast from the PDX National Weather Service, it looks like our area can expect more wind today through tomorrow with gusts around 40 mph.  The wind is bringing with it a cold front that may drive snow levels down to around 500 feet early Thursday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Low Elevation Snow 12/19/12 Morning

Excerpted information below from the National Weather Service:

Another storm system will move into the region early Wednesday morning and bring another threat of low elevation snow.  The snow in the valley will begin late tonight and persist through about 9am before turning to all rain.  Snow will persist all day in the Upper Hood River Valley and Cascades and most of the day in the Columbia River Gorge.

Tomorrow’s weather system is a little different than today’s as we expect more continuous precipitation as the front moves in off the Pacific and draws cold air through the Columbia River Gorge into the northern Willamette Valley/Lower Columbia region.    


o A storm system will move into the region from the Pacific bringing precipitation to the area and some high winds to the coast. As the storm approaches, it will initially draw cold air through the Columbia River Gorge that will support snow levels lowering to the valley floor late tonight through 9am Wednesday morning. The precipitation with this storm will overrun the cold air coming out of the Columbia River Gorge resulting in some low elevation snow in the Gorge, northern Willamette Valley and Lower Columbia region.

o Valley locations north of Wilsonville have the potential to get 1 to 2 inches of snow in the early morning hours. The Columbia River Gorge will see snow most of the day as well as the elevated terrain of the Coast Range, Foothills and Cascades.


o Northern Willamette Valley/Lower Columbia: Snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible after midnight to around 9am Wednesday from Wilsonville to the Kelso/Longview region. Some outlying areas in higher elevations may see up to 3 inches of snow. After 9am, the precipitation will turn to all rain.


o Some snow accumulation likely affecting travel in the valley areas during the morning commute, north of Wilsonville to the Kelso/Longview area.

o Snow causing slow travel across passes in the Coast Range and Cascades.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Strong Winds Tonight

Batten down the hatches!  Just wrapped up a weather briefing with Portland National Weather Service.  They are following a very active storm pattern that will be sending some strong, damaging winds our way.  The forecast predicts very heavy winds tonight, the strongest between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. They anticipate 30-45 mph sustained winds, with gusts from 45-60 mph in our area.  The coast will have even heavier winds around 70-85 mph.

They also put out a blizzard warning for the Cascades for very heavy snow and unusually strong winds.  Travel across the Cascades will be treacherous for the next 24 hours.

This is a good time to make sure you know where your flashlights and batteries are located and tie down anything that might fly away (like your giant inflatable Santa or the reindeer decorations on the roof).  We will update more if new information becomes available.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stormy days ahead

According to a National Weather Service forecast, our area can expect gusty winds and snow/rain mixed from tonight until Monday.  It may snow periodically in the higher elevations, but no accumulations are expected. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Safety Tips---You're Welcome

Have a safe and happy holiday season by following these safety tips:


· When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

· When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green; needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles (watch "A Christmas Story" for a visual demonstration).

· When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.


· Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.  Look for a label that has something along the lines of Underwriters Laboratory (UL), perhaps steer clear of things that say ACME Laberatorys of North Korea.

· Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.

· Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord (for a lesson on what not to do, I recommend viewing "Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase).

· Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. Or just return your metallic tree to 1961 where it belongs.

· Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold strings in place. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).

· Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

· For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician (not your husband's cousin-in-law Darryl from Castle Rock.  Just kidding, Castle Rock, you know I love you).


· Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.

· Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

· In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that even marginally resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.  I have a 2 year-old, things don't even have to look tempting for him to try to eat them.

· Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.


· Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from anyone who might find them tempting to ingest, like my 2-year old.

· Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

· Have your chimney inspected every year.

· Install a carbon monoxide detector as an extra precaution.

Most tips courtesy of US Consumer Products Safety Commission, others were, you know, embellished by staff.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cool Idea

A reader sent in this cool idea for an emergency stove.  Looks like all you need is a big can, a sharp knife, some foil, some charcoal briquettes and a grate.  And, if you're me, an EMT on standby to stitch up my fingers when I slice them open.  If you are unable to see the picture, go to  If you've ever made one of these, let us know how it worked in the comments!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays....

We participated in a National Weather Service briefing this afternoon regarding heavy winds and rains tonight through Wednesday.  Fortunately for us, it seems it will be concentrated mainly in Northern Oregon.  We can expect some heavy rains and gusty winds for the next few days but, according to the forecast, will not bring any of our local rivers to flood stage. The slides are attached.  We will continue to monitor the forecast and let you know if there are any major changes that will affect our area.

This is why you need a car kit!

Check out this article about a 120-mile traffic backup that has stranded travelers for days.  A kit would come in handy in this instance.  So would a jet pack...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hang On To Your Hats!

No, seriously.  Hang on to them, it's about to get windy again.  From the Portland National Weather Service:

Another series of increasingly strong Pacific weather systems are expected to begin affecting SW Washington and NW Oregon on Wednesday and continuing through at least Thursday.

The first system Wednesday is expected to bring south winds of 15-30 mph in our area and around 50 mph on the coast. 

The second stronger system is expected later Wednesday night and early Thursday.  This system could produce winds up to 35-40 mph in our area.

It's still early, so this may change as time goes on. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is Your Car Ready for Winter?

Getting stuck in a car during a winter storm can be very dangerous.  You can "winterize" your car by making sure it has the following:
  • Strong battery
  • Plenty of antifreeze
  • no-freeze wiper fluid
  • good blades
  • working heater
  • no leaks or crimps in exhaust pipe
  • snow tires and/or tire chains
  • at least half a tank of gas
  • a winter-weight oil (see car owner's manual)
Keep the following items in your car in winter months:
  • Jumper cables
  • Windshield scraper
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid kit
  • Small shovel
  • Some sand to put under tires for traction
  • Bright cloth to use as a distress flag.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cool Idea!

Want a cheap, long lasting candle in an emergency?  All you need is a can of Crisco and a wick!  Check out this great idea that a co-worker found on Pinterest:

Be sure to read the comment section, because some questions about making it are answered, like how do I get the wick through all of that grease.  According to the post, you can also make candles from old crayons and even from a fish.  I think I'll skip the fish candle.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Rain and Wind Today

According to the National Weather Service, most of the very high winds and flooding will be at the Coast and south of us.  There will be some heavy wind and rain for us later this afternoon, with high winds expected from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. tonight, with gusts up to 45 mph.  The rain will continue into tomorrow.  If there are any changes or if river levels change unexpectedly, we will send out another briefing report.

Wind, Rain and an Earthquake?

Hello to you too, Monday.  Lots of power outages last night and into this morning.  There was also a 3.1 earthquake with an epicenter in Portland early this morning.  More details here:

DEM will be participating in a National Weather Service briefing regarding high winds and flooding this afternoon and will report the forecast after that. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lots of Power Outages on this Dark and Stormy Night

Looks like lots of areas of North Kelso and Pacific Way, Mint Valley, Sunset Way and parts of Columbia Heights in Longview are without power.  This is a great time to locate all of the flashlights and make sure you have good batteries for all of them!

Potential for Flooding Coming Our Way

According to a release from the PDX National Weather Service, there are several weather systems that are impacting are area that contains both heavy rain continuing through Monday night and brisk winds of 35-45 mph in the inland valleys. Gusts of up to 50 mph may be possible. The amount of rain itself may cause some difficulties but coupled with rain saturation along with potential for winds causes a little extra concern.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has informed us that there is a Flood Watch* for some portions of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon from tonight (Sunday night) through late Monday night. This amount of rain would be enough to cause flooding issues for smaller drainages that are already clogged by autumn leaves across our area.

In addition, brisk winds of 35-45 mph with possible gusts up to 50 mph are forecasted for our area on Monday. Winds may gust to 45-55 mph over the higher elevations of the coastal mountains and 60-65 mph over the higher elevations of the cascades.

The slow moving and moisture laden frontal system that is continuing will bring us heavy rain will continue until tonight, Sunday night. There is a second stronger and wetter low pressure system that will bring even heavier rain in Monday through Monday night. Multiple inches of rain are likely even for the inland valleys.

For those traveling this holiday week the coast and coast range will see the heaviest precipitation with over ten inches possible in some locations by Tuesday. In addition, there is a high wind warning for the south coast, high wind watch in the Willipa Hills area and a Winter Storm Warning for the west slopes north and central cascades which will all make traveling very difficult. If traveling at all, please stay connect to local weather warnings for your particular area of travel as we head into the a heavy-travel holiday week.

*A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almost Instant Black Bean Chili

Here's a recipe from "Apocalypse Chow"

This hearty chili made with canned beans and a jar of salsa couldn't be easier.  Cook it over any heat source, just long enough to heat through and marry the flavors.  Serve over instant rice or noodles or eat it plain right out of the pot.

Two 15.5 ounce cans black beans, drained
One 16-oz jar salsa (hot or mild)
2-3 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP dehydrated minced onion
One 8-oz can corn, drained
One cup water

Combine ingredients in a saucepan, reserving half of the corn.  Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.  Add as much water as needed to create a sauce and to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently until heated through, long enough to cook off any raw taste from the chili powder, about 15 mins.  Garnish with the remaining corn.

So, add beans, a jar of salsa, some chili powder, dehydrated onion and a can of corn to your shopping list and you've got yourself some emergency chili.  It uses very little of your stored water and cooks quickly to save your fuel source.  I'd find low-sodium beans and corn if you can.  Also, you can get dehydrated onion and chili powder really cheap in the bulk food section of WinCo.  Make sure you have a manual can opener too.  You'd be a sad panda if you had some great emergency meal makings and no way to open them.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wind and Rain this Weekend

From our friends at the Portland National Weather Service:

SYNOPSIS: A broad Pacific trough will move over the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska this weekend bringing a series of cold fronts to our area. The first front will move onto the coast early Saturday followed by a stronger front on Monday. Unsettled weather is expected to continue through the Thanksgiving week as the trough remains in place and cold fronts continue to move through.

PRIMARY AREAS IMPACTED: At this time, it appears Western Oregon and Southwest Washington will experience the biggest impacts.


The main impacts will be areas of heavy rain with a potential to bring flooding to the area. Of particular concern is flooding of small streams and urban areas due to clogged storm drains.

The strongest winds will be confined to coastal areas and the coast range. Most impacts will be associated with the stronger cold front on Monday.

Significant snow will be confined to areas above pass level through Monday.


The first cold front will move onto the coast Saturday morning.

The second, much stronger cold front will move inland late Monday afternoon, but rain associated with this front begins late Sunday.


Heavy Rain…Confidence is high that some areas will receive heavy rain from these fronts (especially the Monday storm) but confidence is low on location and duration of that rain.

Strong Wind…Confidence is high that the first front Saturday morning will bring strong winds with gusts near 50 mph.

A much stronger storm appears to be developing for Monday with winds during the day on Monday reaching 40 mph with gusts between 70 and 80 mph. Confidence on the wind forecast for the second storm is moderate.

UNCERTAINITIES: Model forecasts vary on the location and timing of the heaviest rain, with the central coast appearing to be the hardest hit.

Tonight and Saturday: 1-2 inches along the coast and in the coast range with up to 0.5 inches inland.

Sunday afternoon through Monday: 4-6 inches along the coast , in the coast range and in the south Washington Cascades.

Be Excited About the Future, Don't Worry about the Past

I really liked this article by Adam Crowe, an emergency manager from Kansas.  It's from a great emergency management blog that I read from time to time.  Enjoy!

In the past week, I have seen several stories that reflect changes in cultural, social, and technological values within society. For example, stories have been released about the death of AM radio, elimination of cursive writing education, and the death of Twinkies. In each case, I often saw doom and gloom statements associated with each -- "Our kids will never get to experience that", "How dare they stop that?", "This is just another example of how we're on the down slide", etc.

While it is understandable that we all fondly look back on these types of components that defined how we grew up and learned about the world, I don't think their elimination is a sign of anything more than change. In most cases, these changes are a result of something new replacing it. For instance, the use of AM Radio has declined with the rise of information on the go through the internet and social media. Likewise, cursive writing has been replaced by typing emails, texts, and other digital messages. Rather than being melancholy or downtrodden about the loss of these items, these types of news stories are opportunities for us to reflect on how fantastic the future may be.

This is particularly true in emergency management and disaster response. It is exciting to me to think that through the use of new (or yet to be developed technologies) and communication systems such as social media and crowdsourcing, the needs of disaster survivors and those impacted from emergencies may ultimately be addressed more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Likewise, to know that each and every person in the community is becoming more and more empowered in the emergency management process through more openly shared information is fantastic.

So while I do reflect on my past when things change, let's all try to reorient that energy to pushing the future and the possibility that a generation (or two) from now can look back and enjoy new memories of a network of communities who embraced changed for good.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Levee Monitoring and Flood Patrol Class

Are you interested in assisting local diking districts with levee monitoring during flood events?  You're in luck!  There will be a free class on Tuesday, November 27th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Training Center at 1942 1st Ave in Longview.  This class will teach participants the following: 
  • The basic requirements, duties and equipment necessary to be an effective levee monitor.
  • Levee monitoring terminology, inspecting and reporting protocol.
  • Critical issues affecting levees during flood events.
  • How to effectively apply these skills in a hands-on field exercise.
If you are interested in signing up for this class, please call DEM at 577-3130 or email

Charcoal Grills & Beyond

Excerpt from Apocalypse Chow!

"Charcoal is as impractical and inefficient for cooking as a wood fire.  When you build a substantial enough charcoal fire for cooking, the charcoal will continue to burn long after you have eaten.  You can't conserve charcoal very well, or of course, use it again.  If you do use charcoal for boiling water, place a saucepan with the lid on atop the grill and close the cover, if possible.  Make sure you use a plan with handles that won't melt or catch fire.  Grilling would be done as you do on the Fourth of July, but if the disaster continues on for several days, unless you have a garage full of dry charcoal, you'll be out of fuel and out of luck. 

Other ways to cook

If you foolishly ignored the authorities or, worse, neglected to buy this book in time and you've found yourself in a disaster or blackout unprepared, you aren't completely out of luck.  With some Sterno (canned heat) or a chafing dish, you may not be able to boil enough water for pasta, but you will be able to warm up some soup.  You can always heat a pan with a kitchen or plumber's torch, or heat cans of food on the manifold of a car engine. 

This may not be as stupid as it sounds, once you realize that Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller wrote an entire cookbook, titled "Manifold Destiny:  The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine, for the new "mechanic's cuisine."  As temping as it might be, we don't recommend using signal flares for cooking. 

In case you aren't smart enough to figure this out on your own, you should never burn charcoal inside your house.  You also want to use the utmost caution when using an open flame indoors.  Whenever possible, take your stove outside and do your cooking in the great outdoors.  Also, never use candles indoors for light.  Instead, use a bona fide camping light or safe oil lamp or battery-operated lights.  I'm not going to mention this again."

Stay tuned for more tips and recipes from Apocalypse Chow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gas Grills & Wood Fires

Excerpt from Apocalypse Chow!:

"Another reliable heat source for cooking during an emergency is a gas grill.  A patio barbecue grill will do nicely, provided you have plenty of fuel.  It's a good idea to buy an extra cylinder of propane before a big hurricane strikes, because the roads may be impassable for days.  If the emergency is merely a blackout, for which you would have no warning, you shouldn't have trouble buying a tank of fuel anytime you need it.  The downside to relying on the patio grill for all your cooking is that it can ONLY be used outdoors.  That's okay if it's warm and sunny but not too practical when it's cold, raining, or snowing outside, or when you just want to make a hot cup of tea before bed. (Never use a gas grill inside your home or garage.)

If you happen to have a wood-burning stove that allows you to cook on top of it, you can get by with this, as long as you have plenty of wood that can last several days.  If you're only using an open campfire, however, problems abound.  It takes time to build a wood fire, and once started it doesn't heat food uniformly and much of the fuel goes up in smoke.  Whether you're outside or using an indoor fireplace, you will need to rig a way to heat a pot over the flames, so your pots and pans must have handles that won't melt or burn.  Whenever you build a fire, use extreme caution.  You would bring beaucoup heartache upon yourself if you burned down the neighborhood that had miraculously survived the hurricane.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Can I Cook with No Power?

Excerpt from Apocalypse Chow:

"Your primary necessity for eating well without power is having a reliable, efficient source of heat for emergency cooking.  If you have neither working gas appliances nor an electrical generator, you'll want to consider the following advice for buying an inexpensive alternative source of heat. 

Camping Stove

You can purchase a small, efficient, inexpensive emergency stove from your local camping supplies store.  Did you know that for about $50 you can have a tiny little stove and a canister of fuel that will last for two days?  For $80 you can practically open a backyard restaurant with takeout.  Camp stoves are great but made mostly for the adventurer.  You may never have to reconstitute a dehydrated dinner while clinging to the side of Mt. Everest or while kayaking the North Sea, but if you pay a call to your nearest sporting-goods chain or outfitter, you will discover an amazing array of portable cookstoves for the outdoors.  Some of these stoves are little more than a tiny nozzle and a frame that sit atop a canister of fuel, but you will also find the good old reliable Coleman two-burner stove.  (Coleman even makes a folding camp oven!)

For general home-based cooking, we recommend a single-burner butane unit that chefs use for demonstrations.  The recipes in Apocalypse Chow! were tested on a Glowmaster portable butane stove, 7,000 BTU, available at and elsewhere.  Similar stoves include the Burton stove, 8,400 BTU (at, and the Glowmaster stove, 7,500 BTU (, which are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. 

You can also use these stoves for camping, tailgating, boating, backyard barbecues, or for cooking during emergency power outages.  The stoves come with hard-sided carrying cases and cost $50-$100.  Fuel canisters are inexpensive and can be purchased by the case."

Check back in tomorrow for more tips!  Also, I have 2 butane stoves that I got from and they are awesome.  Give their website a try!

Apocalypse Chow

Check out my cool new book!  I got it used from Amazon, click here for the link. (If the picture doesn't show up, click on the link)  The first part is all about preparedness, food and water storage and safety tips and the rest of the book consists of fantastic recipes, all that can be cooked when the electricity is out!  The book was written by a chef and cookbook writer who, when faced with power outages decided that there had to be something better to eat than SPAM and crackers. 

The authors cover what foods to stock, different ways to cook without electricity and even a 5 day meal plan that sounds much more appetizing than canned meat and granola bars.  How about some corn chowder?  Chili? Couscous salad? How about a chicken tortilla casserole? 

I'll share some of their shopping tips and recipes throughout the week. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

4 Simple Things

This comes from the website of Ready, Set, Prepare.  The Director of Ready, Set, Prepare is James Roddey, who I was fortunate enough to get to listen to at a conference I went to last week.  I am trying to schedule him to come give a talk in Cowlitz County.  Anyway, here are 4 Simple Things You Can Do THIS WEEK to Get Prepared.

1.  Set up an out of state contact that knows how to text:  Emergency response experts tell us the only way you may be able to communicate after a big disaster is by text or Tweet, and by contacting someone out of state as local communication channels may be clogged.  Make sure everyone knows to check in with the contact person if you are separated.

2.  Turn your phone into your most important safety tool:  From emergency contact numbers to first aid/CPR instructions, your phone can be a life saver.  Download flashlight, GPS, Red Cross and I.C.E apps.  Create a list of:  rally points, prescription medications, food and medical allergies.  Keep photos of loved ones and pets handy.  Access important documents any time via Dropbox or the cloud. (if this sounds like a foreign language to you, click on each to learn more).

3.  Visit a Website:  If you house was burning, what would you take with you?  It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable, and sentimental.  It's also a good way to start a conversation with family members or co-workers about putting together an emergency plan.  Check out to learn more.

4.  Read a Book:  The Unthinkable, by Amanda Ripley.  In this engrossing and insightful book, you'll learn the science behind how your body and mind react in a crisis.  More importantly, The Unthinkable will help you understand and shape your response when the chips are down and the worst happens.  As Craig Fugate, Director of FEMA says, "It's time to get in touch with our survival instinct."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Support Local Veterans

Support Veterans by contributing to the Cowlitz County Veterans Stand Down!
Eat at Burgerville between the hours of 4:00pm and 8:00pm on Veterans Day, Sunday November 11, 2012.  10% of all proceeds will benefit the annual Cowlitz County Veterans Stand Down.  Bring your family, bring your friends! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

5th Way to Refine Your Disaster Personality

Here's tip number 5:

5.  Training:  By far, the best way to improve performance is to PRACTICE.

Make a list of your biggest risks (try to use data to do this, not just emotion).  Then think creatively about how to give yourself or your family a dress rehearsal.  The brain loves body memory.  It is much better, for example, to stop, drop, and roll than to talk about stopping, dropping and rolling.

For example, we know that fires generally kill more people than all other disasters combines.  (If you are poor or African American, you chances of being in a fire are particularly high.)  So give your brain something to work with.  Make surprise drills an annual tradition in your office or home.  Take the stairs down to the ground--don't just stare at the stairwell door.  Create incentives so that people want to do this. 

For example, have the boss tell everyone they have to go.  Have them explain why it matters (because your brain turns to mush in a real fire, and you often lose your eyesight because of the smoke).  Have them announce that the official meeting spot will be the coffee shop two blocks away, where he or she wil buy everyone coffee and donuts.  That way, you boost office morale at the same time, so you get something out of the experience even if nothing goes wrong.

So, this is the end of the tips.  Again, take the time to read The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley.  It's a great study in human behavior in response to disaster.  It sounds daunting, but it's an easy read, I promise!

Earthquakes, Earthquakes, Everywhere!

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake rattled Guatemala yesterday, there was a 4.2 off the southern Oregon coast yesterday and a 6.3 off the west coast of Canada.  Each of the articles are linked if you want to learn more.  It's rocking and rolling all around us, are you paying attention?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tip #3 & #4

So far we've had Attitude and Knowledge as two ways to refine your disaster personality according to author Amanda Ripley.  Here's number 3 & 4:

3.  Anxiety Level:  People with higher anxiety levels may have greater tendency to freeze or totally shut down in an emergency.

That is not always a bad thing, as my chapter on paralysis details.  But it's a very common reaction, and it's important to recognize this risk and override it if you need to...if, say, your house is burning down or your ferry is sinking.

As in regular life, if you can learn tricks to control your anxiety, you will probably perform better.  For example, some police officers are now trained to do rhythmic breathing whenever their guns are drawn.  Take a yoga class and learn breathing and stretching exercises that can lower stress and anxiety levels. 

4.  Get in Shape:  Once again, what helps us in regular life helps us in disasters.

The harsh truth is that out-of-shape people move more slowly, are more vulnerable to secondary injuries like heart attacks and have a harder time physically recovering from any injuries they do sustain.  On 9/11, people with low physical ability were three times as likely to be hurt while evacuating the towers.

I can definitely find truth in these tips.  Confession time, my anxiety level on basically at DEFCON 1 all the time.  Yes, I know it's a problem, but I also know how to work with it and how to mold my anxiety into something that is more practical and that looks suspiciously like preparedness.  And regarding getting in shape:  what's the first rule of survival in the movie Zombieland?  CARDIO!  Stay tuned tomorrow for the last installment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What's another way to refine your disaster personality?

Yesterday's tip was to adjust your attitude.  Here's more of author Amanda Ripley's column in Time Magazine on ways to refine your personality:

2.  Knowledge:  The brain is amazingly malleable.  We constantly underestimate it.
If you understand how you are likely to react during a disaster, you can learn to override your worst instincts.  If you learn more about your actual risks--or the risks that scare you most--you will probably be calmer should something go wrong someday.  For example, did you know that the most serious plane accidents are survivable?  Yes, it's true.  Of all passengers involved in serious accidents between 1983 and 2000, 56% survived.  (Serious, for those of you who still don't believe me, is defined by the National Transportation Safety Board as accidents involving fire, severe injury and substantial aircraft damage.)  So now that you know that, you know that your behavior can make a difference.  And now that you know that, you might have a better ATTITUDE in the extremely unlikely event that your plane goes down. 

Knowledge is power, so says Schoolhouse Rock.  But you know what's even more powerful?  SHARING knowledge.  If you know a boatload about preparedness and disaster survival, magnify that power by sharing it with others.  Just drop some knowledge to your friends and neighbors here and there, don't bombard them with grim statistics or start the conversation with, "You're going to die a slow, agonizing death if you don't have 5 years worth of disaster supplies."  That's not a good way to win friends and influence people.  I'll have another tip for you tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Five Ways to Refine Your Disaster Personality

What's your disaster personality?  Do you freeze up?  Do you take charge?  A great way to find out and learn about the body's sometimes surprising response to disaster is to read Amanda Ripley's outstanding book, "The Unthinkable."  It's one of the best books that I've read and, trust me, I've read a book or two.  The following is an excerpt from a column that the author did for Time Magazine after the book was published.  If you are interested in borrowing a copy, email me at and I will lend it to you.

Five Ways to Refine Your Disaster Personality

1.  Attitude:  It turns out attitude really does matter.

People who perform well in crises and recover well afterwards tend to have three underlying advantages:  they believe they can influence what happens to them; they find meaningful purpose in life's turmoil; they are convinced they can learn from both good and bad experiences.

If you're like me, you're thinking:  Yeah, right.  But we should probably consider these incredibly perfect and cheery outlooks as simply inspirational. Like all human behavior, they occur on a spectrum, and no one achieves all of them all of the time.  Again and again, survivors have told me that their confidence in their own ability to shape their destiny helped propel them forward.  And in any case, it makes sense to encourage this kind of outlook in yourself, in your kids--especially because this kind of burning optimism is helpful even if no disaster ever strikes. 

Stay tuned for the other 4 ways to a better disaster personality!  So, do you need an attitude adjustment?  If so, find some ways to take charge of preparedness and empower yourself!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Back

It's that time of year again. When you set your clocks back on Saturday night, don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detector and rotate your disaster supplies -- 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.

What? You don't have a disaster kit? Well, now is the perfect time to remedy that situation. Make a disaster supply check list instead of a Christmas list. Put yourself in the shoes of those in New York and think about what you would need to go days on end without electricity.  We may not have hurricanes in the Northwest but severe winter storms or an earthquake could cripple the grid just the same.

The good news is that 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.  Be prepared and be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Keep an eye on the HUGE Hurricane Sandy--Frankenstorm-Nor'easter-Stormpocalypse. THIS, people, THIS is why we say be prepared for 3 days (preferably more) to be on your own without power. There are over 1 million people on the East Coast without power and until the winds go down to well below 35 mph, crews cannot respond. Get a disaster supply kit!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nasty Weather on the Way

The Portland National Weather Service has this to say:




I'm not shouting at you, the NWS always puts their alerts in all caps and I just cut and pasted, don't be alarmed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Winter Weather Awareness Week!

Today's topic from the National Weather Service is Hypothermia!

Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia, and become life-threatening. Infants and the elderly are the most susceptible. When a winter storm approaches, stay inside, or seek shelter if caught outdoors.

Other tips to follow to better protect you and others:

  • When using an alternate heat from a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, be sure to use fire safeguards and properly ventilate. Close off unneeded rooms in the building. Stuff towels or rags in cracks and under doors.
  • Cover windows at night to minimize loss of heat through the windows.
  • Eat and drink sufficient amounts of water. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Fluids prevent dehydration.
  • Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight and warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating and perspiration and subsequent chill.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of food, water and proper shelter from the elements.
If caught outdoors:

  • Find shelter immediately.
  • Try to stay dry, and cover all exposed body parts.
  • In no shelter is available, build a lean-to, windbreak, or a snow cave to protect yourself from the wind
  • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention for rescue.
  • Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  • Melt snow for drinking water.
  • Avoid eating snow, as this will lower your body temperature.
If traveling:

  • The best way to avoid becoming stranded or stuck during a winter storm is to avoid travel during the storm.
  • Stay informed on the current weather, forecasts and warnings.
  • Obtain the latest warnings and forecasts from your NOAA Weather Radio, The National Weather Service website [ ], or your favorite media news source.
If you must travel, let someone else ( who is not traveling ) know of your travel plans.

Weatherize your vehicle now, before rough winter weather arrives. Make sure your vehicle safety set includes: adequate tires, chains, tow rope, sand or cat litter for traction, shovel, tool kit, windshield scraper and brush, battery cables, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, a blanket or sleeping bag, extra clothes, waterproof matches, high-calorie snacks and an empty can to melt snow for drinking water.

If you become stranded while traveling:

STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE, and do not panic.

  • If with other people, take turns sleeping.
  • Run the motor every hour for about 10 minutes to maintain warmth, but keep window open a bit to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.

  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.

  • Keep a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna, in order for others to find your car.

  • Exercise periodically by vigorously moving arms, legs, toes and fingers.

In the Mountains and higher Terrain:

Avalanches become a possibility during the winter, especially below steep slopes. Avalanches occasionally come down across roads, with little or no warning. Caution is advised when travelling along avalanche prone roads, especially after heavy snow has fallen or during periods of rapid snowmelt.

Roads which appear clear in the wintertime may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice, commonly called black ice. This nearly invisible ice layer can cause you to rapidly lose control of your vehicle. Black ice is most common during the nighttime hours into very early morning. If you detect black ice, reduce your speed!

Cold and its Effects on You:

Wind Chill: this is not the actual temperature, but rather how wind and cold combined feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, thus lowering your body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill, but cars, plants and other objects are not.

Frostbite: this is damage to body tissue due to exposure to extreme cold. A wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ears and even the tip of your nose. If symptons are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm the affected areas. If the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

Hypothermia: this is a condition brought on when the body temperatures drops to less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can kill. For those who survive, there are likely to be lasting kidney, liver and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person's temperature, and if it is below 95F, seek medical care immediately.

Keep your family and property safe

Cowlitz County Deputy Jordan Spencer will discuss protecting yourself and your property at a free forum at noon Wednesday at the Cowlitz County Administration Building, 207 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso on the 3rd floor in the General Meeting Room. 

The free brown bag lunch forum is sponsored by the Washington State University Extension.  For more information email Gary Fredricks at or call 577-3014 ext 3. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Did you Drop, Cover and Hold?

I did!  In an earthquake, you may only have seconds to protect yourself before strong shaking knocks you down, or something falls on you. Don't run!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are You Ready to ShakeOut?

Are You Ready to ShakeOut?

With 6.8 million people living and working in Washington, a major earthquake could cause unprecedented devastation. What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like afterwards. With earthquakes an inevitable part of Washington’s future, we must act quickly to ensure that disasters do not become catastrophes.

The Great Washington ShakeOut in October 2012 will involve hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians through a broad-based outreach program, media partnerships, and public advocacy by hundreds of partners. The drill will be held statewide annually on the third Thursday of October, and is organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance ( The 2012 Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake drill will be at 10:18 a.m. on October 18.

A key aspect of the ShakeOut is the integration of comprehensive science-based earthquake research and the lessons learned from decades of social science research about why people get prepared. The result is a “teachable moment” on par with having an actual earthquake (often followed by increased interest in getting ready for earthquakes). ShakeOut creates the sense of urgency that is needed for people, organizations, and communities to get prepared, to practice what to do to be safe, and to learn what plans need to be improved.

Not just any drill will accomplish this; it needs to be big. It must inspire communities to come together. It must involve children at school and parents at work, prompting conversations at home. It must allow every organization, city, etc., to make it their own event.

The 2012 ShakeOut drill will be the largest preparedness event in U.S. history. To participate, go to and pledge your family, school, business, or organization’s participation in the drill. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill and how to create a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness. All organizers ask is that participants register (so they can be counted and receive communications), and at the minimum practice "drop, cover, and hold on" at the specified time. It is only a five-minute commitment for something that can save your life. It all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Almost Time for the Great Washington ShakeOut!

In an earthquake, you may only have seconds to protect yourself before strong shaking knocks you down, or something falls on you. Practice quake-safe actions at 10:18 a.m. on October 18. Why? Because when the adrenaline kicks in, you may not act safely if you haven’t practiced the Drop, Cover, Hold On drill before that moment. Don’t wait until the shaking – register at

Invite everyone who matters to you to register and ShakeOut on October 18 at 10:18 a.m. Everyone is welcome to participate - individuals, families, businesses, schools, government agencies and organizations!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wind and Rain in store

The Portland National Weather Service issued a Special Weather Statement this morning regarding the wind and rain expected for this afternoon and overnight tonight.  We could possibly be seeing up to an inch of rain and gusty winds, up to 30-40 mph. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

What do we mean when we say Cascadia Subduction Zone?

From time to time you will hear newscasters, journalists and emergency management types talk about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the resulting giant earthquakes that could come as a result of moving plates.  But what does that mean to you?  Take a look at the picture of where the Cascadia Subduction Zone is located in relation to our area.  If you are a subscriber and can't see the picture, click here.

You can read more about the Cascadia Subduction Zone here.  Basically, the chances for our area to experience a very large, very damaging earthquake get greater every year.   No one knows exactly what to expect, but the good news is you can still prepare for it!  Get more info about earthquake preparedness on our website at or

Are You Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?

This Saturday the Zombie Apocalypse will descend upon Longview.  A huge game of "zombie tag" will take over downtown Longview from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

You can pre-register for the game at DIY Party Supplies at 1318 Commerce Ave for $8.50 or you can register at the event for $13.50.  ALL participants must bring two cans of food for the food bank.  You can get "zombie-fied" by a facepainter before the event! 

More info can be found from the Daily News here:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ready for Rain?

Remember that wet stuff that used to constantly fall from the sky?  Yeah, it's coming back.  We had a glorious late summer and early fall, but now it's time to get back to our Pacific Northwest reality.  The Portland National Weather Service has this to say: 

Significant weather change expected Friday and into the weekend.  Rain will return to SW Washington and NW Oregon Friday as the first in a series of fall fronts moves into the region.  The first frontal system will give light amounts of rain to the area with rain continuing at times on Saturday. 

A subtropical moisture connection will feed additional moisture across Western Washington and Oregon Sunday and Monday.  It is likely that the Pacific Northwest will see heavy rain from these systems.  However, many of the details are uncertain at this time.  The snow level will remain above all but the highest mountain peaks.
Heavy rain is most likely in Western Washington and not as likely farther south in Oregon.  There is a possibility that rainfall totals for Friday through Monday could reach as high as 5-8 inches in the south Washington Cascades and North Oregon Coast Range with around 2 inches in the valleys.  If the jet stream is a little farther north, rainfall will be much less.

So, it's probably going to rain.  Time to dust off the coat and find the umbrella.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Columbus Day Storm

Do you remember the Columbus Day Storm of 1962?  Were you not born yet, but would like to know more about it?  Have you never heard of it and want to be in the know?  Check out this great blog post from CRESA, including a documentary from the Oregonian.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Urgent Fire Weather Message from National Weather Service

From Portland National Weather Service



A Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening due to strong east winds and low relative humidity for our area.  With extremely dry forest fuels, this combination of gusty east winds and very low humidity will create extremely favorable conditions for new fire growth and for rapid fire spread.
A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will occur shortly. 

The area burn ban remains in effect until further notice, no flames with the exception of BBQ's.  Please use caution with any open flame or anything that could create a spark. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Great Washington Shake-Out!

It's almost time for the Great Washington Shake-Out--the state's largest Drop, Cover, Hold earthquake drill!  This event will be on October 18th at 10:18 a.m.  It's so easy to participate, all YOU have to do is stop whatever you are doing at 10:18 a.m. and DROP, COVER and HOLD just as you would do in an earthquake.  For more information on what to do or how to spread the word, click here:

Why should you participate? Here is what the Great Washington Shake-Out website has to say:  While earthquake hazard varies from region to region, most of Washington is prone to earthquakes. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation.

What we do now will determine our quality of life after our next big earthquake. Are you prepared to survive and recover quickly?

The Great Washington ShakeOut is a statewide opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." The ShakeOut has also been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Health and Prevention Fair

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday?  Check out the Health and Prevention Fair at Youth and Family Link from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Youth and Family Link Building on Douglas St. in Longview.  There will be lots of information booths, games and chances to win great prizes!  Come see us and enter to win a one-person 72-hour disaster supply kit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PUD Senior Fair Coming Up

Don't forget, Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is the PUD sponsored Senior Fair!  Stop by the PUD Auditorium at 961 12th Avenue to enjoy refreshments, learn about local services and opportunities for Cowlitz County seniors and enter to win great prizes.  DEM will be on hand to talk about preparedness needs for seniors. 

Friday, September 14, 2012


Are you and your pooch looking for something fun to do this weekend?  Come to the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds and check out the 5th Annual DOGAPAWLOOZA!  This event will be Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 at the Fairgrounds.  There will be a Flyball tournament, peanut butter eating contest, costume contest, wiener dog races and much, much more. 

DEM will be there with a table all about getting your pets prepared for a disaster.  You can enter to win a "Doggone It Disaster Kit" and learn all about making your own 72-hour disaster supply kit. 

This event is so much fun, we've attended for the past 3 years and have always had a blast.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some Thoughts on September 12th

Yes, this a re-run of what I wrote last year, but it's still timely. 

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 7, 2012

Fire Trucks on the Lake

Looking for something fun to do in the sun tomorrow? Come to Horseshoe Lake in Woodland and check out "Fire Trucks on the Lake," an event that brings antique fire apparatus together with local fire, police and EMS agencies. Lots of displays, demonstrations and fun. We'll be there--you should be too!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

PUD Launches Automated Outage System

Cowlitz PUD launches automated system to handle outage calls

During an electrical outage, Cowlitz PUD’s focus is to restore power as quickly as possible while providing accurate and timely information about the outage. On September 4, 2012, Cowlitz PUD launched its new Outage Alert Hotline to facilitate this process.

In the event of an electrical outage, PUD customers are encouraged to call the Outage Alert Hotline at (360) 423-1200 to provide information specific to their particular outage situation. Cowlitz PUD customers calling from outside the area may do so toll-free at 1-855-49POWER.

Customers will benefit by getting a quick response and by receiving pertinent outage information. Often an area-specific message, with information about the type and/or cause of the outage, will greet the caller. Sweeping outages may offer a broader message. The PUD will benefit by being able to concentrate on restoring power as quickly as possible, while keeping customer and employee safety as its top priority.

The new automated system—using phone numbers provided by customers—will recognize the caller, ask them to verify their address and log the caller’s information. Since the Outage Alert Hotline requires a current customer phone number to work properly, customers are asked to keep their contact information up to date with the PUD.

Customers may update their contact information by going to, or by calling a customer services representative at (360) 423-2210. To ensure data privacy, customers will be asked to verify their identity with information found on their Cowlitz PUD bill prior to making a phone number change. Information collected will ONLY be used to update PUD account information.

PUD Senior Fair is Coming!

In case the picture doesn't show up for those of you who are subscribers, the Cowlitz County PUD will hold their 2nd annual Senior Fair on September 20th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the John Searing Auditorium at 961 12th Avenue in Longview (PUD Building).  The fair is a fantastic way to learn more about opportunities for seniors in our community, ways to save money and lots, lots more.  There will be lots of prizes, including a 1 person 72-hour disaster supply kit.  Stop by and see us!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Evacuations Ordered in Louisiana

Food for thought: Over 50,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Louisiana due to an imminent dam breach today. That's one half the population of Cowlitz County. If this happened here, where would you go? What would you take? Could you locate your family and evacuate in less than 90 minutes? If the answer is no or if you just had a panic-induced stroke, check out our website at, or give us a call sometime at 577-3130--we can help!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

West Nile Virus

Mmmm...West Nile Virus.  Sounds kinda foreign and sexy, right?  Maybe not, but it is something that has been making its way into the US over the past 10 years and now there are two confirmed cases in Oregon.  The virus is carried by mosquitoes.

Most infections are mild, but Oregon health officials say the virus can cause severe symptoms such as encephalitis. It is rarely fatal.

Nationally, health officials said last week that this year's outbreak is one of the largest. Mosquito populations have had favorable weather — a mild winter, early spring and hot summer.

"Having tracked West Nile cases for many years now, we know that the number of cases typically peaks by Labor Day weekend," said Emilio DeBess, an Oregon Health Authority veterinarian.

"There are simple things people can do to protect themselves."  Oregon authorities recommend steps to ward off mosquitoes like eliminating standing water, wearing long sleeves and pants in infested areas, making sure screen doors and windows fit tightly and using repellents at dawn and dusk.

For more information on West Nile Virus and ways to protect yourself, check out Cowlitz County's Mosquito Control District webpage here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Boil Water Advisory for Kalama is Lifted

Repairs are made and water is up and running for Kalama residents.

Get Your Head in the Game!

This awesome game (30 days, 30 ways) came from the fertile imagination of Clark County's Emergency Manager Cheryl Bledsoe.  What a great way to get better prepared for emergencies and have fun at the same time!

In 4 days, you have the opportunity to prepare for emergencies in a very fun way. Are you ready?

No one wants to think about disasters, especially when they could hit close to home, right? But getting a community to prepare for emergencies is vital to ensuring that we have the ability to get back on our feet when true disaster strikes. This year, you can test your readiness to face disaster by participating in an online game called 30 Days, 30 Ways which is located at

Being prepared for emergencies should be as common as wearing your seatbelt, and yet nearly every emergency preparedness survey conducted over the past 10 years indicates that 40-80% of people are unprepared to face certain hazards.

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) created this 30-day contest in September 2010 in honor of National Preparedness Month. And over the past 2 years, participation has grown from 600 tasks completed in the first year to over 2400 tasks completed in the second. This year, we want to see even more people play, discuss the challenges and have fun.

Participants complete a daily “preparedness task” worth points. Task answers will be short and are aimed to make you think about how prepared you really are.

Each task answer can be sent in via email, comment on the website at, Facebook Fan Page ( or via Twitter to @30Days_30Ways.

Because CRESA uses its own social media pages to share response & preparedness information, we play this game on its own set of social media platforms to provide uninterrupted focus on both the mission of our agency and the effort of the game.

The person (or people, in the event of a tie) who earns the most points from the daily challenges will be identified as the winner of the game.

CRESA asks its community, both locally and online, to donate prizes to this game. This year, the prize list includes a $25 gift card to iTunes, emergency preparedness kits, autographed books and emergency response training. Each donated prize will be added to the prize list and will be redistributed to winning players in order of its estimated dollar value.

Each business that donates a prize will be listed as a “sponsor” of this game and all agencies who help promote this game will be identified as “community partners” on the main website. We challenge everyone to join us in this fun quest to become better prepared together.

Game rules and information can be found on the website at

Monday, August 27, 2012

Boil Water Advisory for Kalama Residents

The city of Kalama issued a boil-water advisory to the 1,500 homes and businesses it serves after a water line valve broke, causing about a third of the city to lose water service. The advisory affects all customers.

There were reports of water damage to some businesses. The Cowlitz County Health Department is working with local food establishments on safety precautions.

The valve break occurred at a water main construction site near Kalama High School. City crews had repaired the break and restored water service by midmorning. They issued the health advisory because potentially harmful bacteria can get into water lines when pressure is lost.

To kill bacteria, the state Department of Health recommends boiling tap water used for drinking, brushing teeth, preparing food, washing dishes, and making ice. Water should be briskly boiled for one minute and allowed to cool before use.

The state Department of Health is working closely with the city.

Customers will be notified when the water is safe to drink. Those who have questions about their water can the City of Kalama at 360-673-3706.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Active Shooter Situations: What to Do to Stay Alive

It pains me to think that we have to create preparedness videos on how to survive seemingly random acts of violence.  It's not my position to speculate why this is happening more often or what to do about it, but I can share tips on how to stay safe.  Here is a video from the Department of Homeland Security on what to do in the event of a shooting in a public place:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Save on your electric bills

Want to learn how to save some dough on your electricity bills?  Sure you do.  The Cowlitz PUD will hold community meetings to discuss ways to save on electric bills.  The conservation meetings will provide a forum for customers to learn and share concerns.  Here are the meeting times/locations:

September 4th 7 p.m. at the Castle Rock Women's Club, 206 Cowlitz Street
September 18th 7 p.m. at the Yale Elementary School, 11842 Lewis River Road, Ariel
October 16th 7 p.m. at the PUD Auditorium, 961 12th Ave in Longview
October 30th 7 p.m. at the Kalama Community Building, 216 Elm Street in Kalama
November 20th 4:30 p.m. at the Ryderwood Community Building, 301 Morse St, Ryderwood
December 4th 7 p.m. at the Woodland Intermediate School, 2250 Lewis River Road, Woodland

It's free knowledge, people! Take advantage of it!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wildfire Safety

As the Taylor Bridge wildfire east of us continues to destroy everything in its path, it's a good day to review some wildfire safety tips courtesy of the American Red Cross.

Wildfires often begin unnoticed.  They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes.  Reduce your risk by preparing now--before wildfire strikes.  Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.  Follow the steps listed in this brochure to protect your family, home and property.

People start most wildfires...find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety:

*  Make sure fire vehicles can get to your home.  Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address. 

*  Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire. 

*  Teach children about fire safety and about how and when to call 9-1-1.  Keep matches out of their reach.

*  Plan several escape routes away from your home--by car and on foot.

*  Create a grab-and-go sized emergency kit for each member of your family.  If a wildfire threatens your home, you will not have a lot of time to evacuate. 

Beat the Heat

From our friends at CRESA (Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency)

The last couple days, My mailbox has been in overdrive with alerts first of a heat and fire advisories, watches and now warnings. I wanted to take a moment to break this down and share what this really means to you.

Unless you have been living in a Cave the past few days it would be hard to miss the news of a few warm days starting today in the Greater Metro area. Today in the mid 90's and around 100 for Thursday and Friday followed up by another warm day on Saturday. The biggest concerns are for Thursday and Friday when temps are supposed to top 100 degrees. The high temps along with very low humidity, along with a few other factors tied into models have caused the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue not only and Excessive Heat Warning, but a Red Flag Warning for Thursday and Friday.

So what does an Excessive Heat Warning Mean?

This means, well, it's gonna be a little warmer here in the Pacific Northwest over the next few days than we are used to. In fact I heard them talking on the news last night, that is has been a few years since the Metro area has seen more than one consecutive day over the century mark.

Stay Hydrated: The number one thing you can do during these hotter days is drink plenty of water. As a person becomes more dehydrated, they become more susceptible to Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.

Look Out for your Neighbors: People over 65, young children, pets, and those working outside are the most susceptible to being overcome by a heat related illness. Keep an eye out for someone who may be showing signs of becoming overheated. Don't forget to check in on neighbors, especially it they fit in to one of the categories listed above.

Hang Out Where its Cool! If you do not have A/C, there are numerous places you can go to cool down. What a better way to beat the heat than a little shopping in an area shopping mall, or taking in that newest released hit movie, relaxing with a classic at your nearest library, and more. Be creative Even Jump on C-Tran! Take a bus ride to explore a new area of the city and cool down as needed.

Don't let the heat overshadow the Red Flag Warning we also have in the region. This means conditions are ideal for fire danger. High temps accompanied by low humidity and winds create conditions where even the smallest of sparks can easily ignite a wild fire that can quickly erupt. Please be safe if working with equipment or anything that can easily create a spark.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heat Wave

From National Weather Service in Portland:

SYNOPSIS: A strong upper level ridge of high pressure will build across the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday and remain over the region through Saturday. This pattern will usher very warm air into the region, especially Thursday and Friday (Aug 16-17). Inland temperatures will likely approach or exceed the 100 degree mark on Thursday and Friday. Temperatures at the coast will also be quite warm with temperatures in the 80s to lower 90s on Thursday, with some cooling at the coast on Friday. This pattern will also increase wildfire potential.


• All inland areas Thursday through at least Friday evening.

• Coastal areas Thursday and Friday. A little cooling expected at the coast Friday.


• Heat related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. People who are susceptible to heat related stress include people over 50, young children, pets and people working outdoors.

• Transportation lines to include rail and asphalt may see some impact due to extreme heat.

• People seeking refuge in area rivers should exercise caution.

• High fire danger. Check with local fire agencies for burn restrictions.


• Thursday through Saturday.



From the PDX National Weather Service:

Another round of hot weather expected later this week.  Triple digit heat may make a comeback across portions of SW Washington and NW Oregon.  A quick warming trend will begin Wednesday as offshore flow strengthens across the region.  Temperatures across the inland valleys will likely surge into the 90's on Wednesday, possibly reaching 100 degrees Thursday and Friday.  The offshore flow will initially result in a dry heat Wednesday and Thursday, but humidity is expected to increase Friday making it more uncomfortable.

Also making things more uncomfortable will be a large surge of people saying inane things like "Hot enough for you?" and a 75% increase in Facebook status updates mentioning heat.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Center Installing New UPS

From Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Communications Center

The Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Center will be installing a new UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.  The installation is predicted to be completed on the same day, August 13, 2012 at 6:00 a.m.

During that time period, the 9-1-1 lines will be forwarded to Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) and 9-1-1 dispatchers will be at the CRESA facility to handle the calls that come in.

"We anticipate a smooth transition.  Please do not call 9-1-1 unless it is an emergency.  Our business line will go unanswered during this time," relayed Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Director Laurie Masse.  "Thank you for your cooperation during this transition."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Water Safety Myths

*From Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle

Myth #5
Alcohol improves a good time on the water.

This myth has been created by alcohol advertising.  Drinking affects judgment and motor skills in a boat or by a pool just as it does in a car.  It slows reactions, making adults and teens victims of silent drowning.  It can also increase the risk of hypothermia or cardiac arrest.  When boating, a no-alcohol rule is important for both the driver and passengers.

Myth #6
I've taken first-aid and CPR, so I can rescue my child.
CPR and first-aid skills don't replace adult supervision, life vests, swimming skills and water safety awareness.  It only takes 5 minutes under water to have brain damage, a cardiac arrest or even to die.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More Water Safety Myths

*From Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle

Myth #3
Once children learn to swim, they don't need life vests.
At swimming pools and supervised swimming areas, an older child who swims well may not need to wear a life vest.  That's where judgment comes in.  Many public or resort pools have swimming test, but often, it's up to you. 

Around steep banks, rivers or docks, where the water is swift, dark, and cold, the drowning risk increases and rescue becomes much harder.  With those factors working against us, we need to use more caution.

When boating, rafting or inner-tubing, or while swimming in open water like a lake or a river, adults and children should always wear properly fitted life vests.  Water conditions change, boats capsize, and cold water makes life-saving and swimming skills difficult.  Life vests improve chances of survival and rescue.  But they ONLY work if they are worn.  You need to wear a life-vest too, so you are prepared to help a child or yourself.

Myth #4
Kids won't wear life vests.
They'll wear them if the expectation is clear and consistent.  It helps to start young.  Make life vests a part of all water activities, just like bringing sunscreen if you're going to be in the sun.  Coast Guard-approved life vests come in many shapes, sizes and colors.  Let your children pick their favorite, as long as it is the right size and type for what you need.  As children grow older, keep insisting on life vest use.  Check their life vests each year for fit, wear and tear and style. 

Myths and Facts About Water Safety

*From Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle

Myth #1
Drowning is noisy.  I'll hear my child splashing and struggling in time to help.
Maybe in the movies, but not in real life.  This myth really endangers young children.  They don't have the ability to figure out what to do, such as right themselves or stand up, even in a few inches of water.  As a result, they just "slip away" in silence. 

Toddlers and preschoolers need constant adult supervision and life vests that fit each time they play near or in the water or on a dock.  Most drownings happen during a brief lapse in supervision, when a parent becomes distracted or involved in some other activity.  A life vest is no substitute for supervision, but it can buy time.

Myth #2
I don't live or vacation near the water, so I don't need to worry.
There are water hazards in and around every home.  Toddlers have drowned in five-gallon buckets, garden ponds and toilet bowls.  Keep young children out of the bathroom, except when directly supervised and don't leave buckets or barrels where they can gather water.  Children can drown in just a few inches of water.

Stay in the bathroom with young children each minute they are in the bathtub.  Remember myth #1 and don't leave the room thinking that splashing noises or a slightly older sibling will alert you to trouble.  A baby's or toddler's bath should only be entrusted to adults. 

More myths tomorrow!

Monday, August 6, 2012

National Night Out!

Looking for something fun and free to do tomorrow night? Come visit us at Tam O'Shanter Park in Kelso for National Night Out from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be several National Night Out celebrations in Kalama, Castle Rock and Longview as well. This is the 29th Anniversary of the National Night Out program, read all about it here

Friday, August 3, 2012

Amber Alert Cancelled!

From Longview Police:

Longview Police & Fire: BABY LOCATED AND SAFE The Amber Alert for 8 month old, Jayce Hashem has been cancelled. Jayce was safely recovered in the Wilsonville, Oregon, area a little after 1:00 p.m.

According to Oregon State Police at approximately 12:59 p.m. an OSP sergeant spotted the black 2012 Nissan Altima southbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 287. At 1:02 p.m. a tra...ffic stop was initiated in a gas station parking lot west of Interstate 5 in the north Wilsonville area. With the assistance of Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, two people including the suspect were detained without incident. The child was found safe in the vehicle.

Arrangements are being made to get Jayce back to Longview with his grandparents. Longview Police detectives are still working the investigation and are in the process of getting an arrest warrant for Ismail Hashem in order to bring him back to Washington for prosecution. UPDATE

Amber Alert--Cowlitz County

Longview Police & Fire: On August 3rd, 2012 at approximately 9 a.m., Longview Police received a 9-1-1 call in the area of Park Hill Drive in Longview. The caller, a 14 year old babysitter, stated that a male named Ismail Hashem (also goes by Soma Hashem) entered the residence and abducted his 8-month old infant son - Jayce Hashem. Ismail Hashem is a non-custodial parent and a restraining order is in place barring him from contact with the child. Mr. Hashem fled on foot with the infant.

An amber alert has been issued for the missing child. The father is described as a 23 year old Egyptian male, 5'7" to 5'9", approximately 140 lbs with short black hair. The suspect is believed to be driving a rented 2012 black Nissan Altima Oregon license plate 434 FPV . Hashem has ties to Texas and Egypt.

Amber Alert Cancelled at 1:20 p.m. suspect was located and arrested in Wilsonville, baby Jayce is safe.