The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wildfire Season

It's hard to think about the threat of wildfires when the rain is pouring down, but believe it or not, wildfire season is quickly approaching.  Here are some wildfire tips from "The Guide to Emergency Management and Homeland Security."

Wildfires can be classified by the fuel they burn:

Crown fires burn through treetops and forest canopy.
Ladder fires burn between the ground and canopies, involving vines, small trees and ferns, etc.
Surface fires burn leaves, grasses, fallen limbs and other material along a forest floor.
Ground fires burn subterranean roots and other buried matter.  A ground fire smolders rather than burns, and sometimes can go on for months.

Note:  a single wildfire can have more than one of these types of fires burning at the same time. 

What We Can Do
Only start an open fire, such as a campfire or leaf fire, at times and places where it is legal.  Check with local authorities if you are not sure.  Never burn a fire where it could spread to trees or other vegetation.  Never leave a fire unattended.

If you have a home in a wooded area, particularly one prone to wildfires, make sure to follow local building codes.  Use fire resistant materials such as non-wood roofing, brick and metal siding.  Create a safe-zone around the home, free of highly combustible vegetation.  Stone walls and swimming pools can help.  Keep the gutters free of dead vegetation and trees clear of dead wood and moss.

When a Wildfire is Approaching
Wildfire are very dangerous to both property and people in their path.  A hot, dry wind can propel a fire rapidly through a forest, with flames even jumping across roadways.  If you live near where a wildfire is burning, keep abreast of news reports.  Evacuate when advised to by authorities.

You can help protect your home by removing any combustible items around the house.  Take down flammable drapes and curtains.  Close blinds and other non-combustible window coverings.  Shut all doors and windows to prevent drafts.  Wet down your home and, if possible, put a sprinkler on the roof and leave it running.  Seal attic and other vents with plywood or other material.  Valuables that won't be damage by water might be put in a pool or pond until the danger has passed.

If you are caught outside in a wildfire, try to find a body of water or open or rocky area to crouch or lie in.  Wet down your clothes or cover them with soil.  Breathe air close to the ground with a wet cloth over your face.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paper Crane Project

From:  David Freece, Cowlitz County Historical Museum Director

For eight years Patty Wood has been folding paper cranes in memory of American troops killed in the Iraq War. The wings of the nearly 4,500 cranes each bear the name, age and rank of an American military service member. Fifty cranes to a string, they hung in her Kelso home. The project was a way to remind her three daughters about the ongoing war. She wanted to pay homage, pay tribute to the men and women serving in Iraq. Now that the war has ended she is taking the cranes down. They will be displayed at the museum beginning May 24th through the summer.

The museum is both honored and humbled to display these cranes. Cowlitz County has a long history of recognizing the military. Patty Wood’s memory crane project is one of the most recent along with the memorial being planned to honor Longview’s Mikayla Bragg who died in Afghanistan on December 20, 2011.

A short program has been planned at the museum on Thursday May 24 at 7:00 p.m. Patty Wood will talk about the memory cranes she created, and museum staff will add information about how Cowlitz County has paid tribute to the military in the past.

On Saturday, May 26 all families are welcome to stop by the museum between 12pm and 4pm for Memorial Day crafts and actives. Learn how to make paper cranes to remember our fallen troops, as well as flags and flowers to place on the grave of our solders on Memorial Day. The event is free but children must be accompanies by an adult.

We hope you can join us for one or both of these events.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Map Your Neighborhood Training

Building and Strengthening Disaster Readiness Among Neighbors

"Map Your Neighborhood" (MYN) is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disaster.  Working together as a team and contributing as an individual helps develop stronger communities.

MYN training will be held on Thursday, June 14th from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the PUD Auditorium at 961 12th Ave in Longview.  To take advantage of this FREE learning opportunity, contact Jennifer Engkraf, Emergency Management Coordinator, at 577-3130 or by email at

You will learn:
  • The 9 steps to take following a disaster
  • How to develp a neighborhood skills and equipment inventory
  • How to map your neighborhood and identify areas of concern
  • How to work together as a team to evaluate your neighborhood after a disaster
  • How to set up your own neighborhood meeting to discuss disaster response including all materials needed
Come join us!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Has it really been 32 years?

Ahhh....spring. When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of....volcano awareness. The catastrophic eruptions of Mt. St. Helens thirty two years ago are a reminder that Cascade volcaoes hold potential to disrupt our communities. Eruptions and lahars at Mt. St. Helens took the lives of 57 people and caused billions of dollars in property damage. Here's a breakdown of our five active volcano neighbors.

Mt. Baker, located in Whatcom County erupted last in the mid-1880s. River valleys are prone to landslides and lahars. Small stream plumes near the summit are observed frequently.

Glacier Peak, is located in Snohomish County. This volcano last erupted in the 18th or 19th century. Large explosive eruptions in the past spewed ash to the east into Montana. Lahars threaten river valleys to the west.

Mt. Rainier, located in Pierce County, produced small eruptions in the 19th century. Numerous large landslides flowed down the volcano's flanks into river valleys over the past 6,000 years. More than 150,000 people live on lahar deposits in river valleys around the volcano.

Mt. St. Helens, is technically located in Skamania County. It is one of the most explosive and active volcanoes in the Cascades. The eruption on May 18th, 1980, was the most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history.

Mt. Adams, located in Yakima County, is referred to as the "quiet giant." Mt. Adams produces lava flows, and is also prone to large landslides and lahars in the river valleys to the south, west, and north.

How can you prepare for volcano-related disasters, minor emergencies or slight shenanigans?

•Get a NOAA Weather Radio

•Develop an emergency plan with your family. For tips on how to create a plan, visit the DEM website.

•Prepare for ashfall with goggles and dust masks for all family members.
•Follow authorities' instructions

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Free Canning Classes

Want to inexpensively boost your long term food storage supply?  Learn how to can!

June 5 – July 17 (Tuesdays)

5:00 – 7:00 PM

Bob’s Sporting Goods Home World

1111 Hudson Street, Longview

June 5 Canning Fruits and General Boiling Water Bath Canning

Find out about processing procedures in canning fruits. Discussion will be on the proper canning methods and how to avoid common problems.

June 12 Jams and Jellies

Learn about the general procedures in making jams and jellies. Discussion will include equipment and supplies, various fruit spreads and low sugar jams. Procedures in making juices and syrups will also be covered.

June 19 Pickling Vegetables and Fish

Discover the types of pickled or fermented foods. Discussion will include equipment, ingredients and pickle and relish problems and solutions.

June 26 Canning Tomatoes and Salsas

Find out about processing procedures in canning salsas and tomatoes. Determine the correct canning method and what causes problems in canning these foods.

July 10 Pressure Canning Meats, Fish and Vegetables

Learn about canning vegetables and meats. Discussion will focus on equipment and supplies, using a pressure canner and solving problems in canning low-acid products.

July 17 Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables and Making Jerky

Classes are sponsored by WSU Extension and Bob’s Sporting Goods.
WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office.

National Child Abuse Prevention Campaign

From Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office

SEATTLE -- As millions of Americans recognized National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, one hundred and sixty law enforcement leaders from across Washington, including five from Cowlitz County, joined a nationwide letter calling on Congress to support proven child abuse prevention strategies.

At least 6,500 Washington children suffered abuse or neglect in 2010—nearly 18 children every day and 125 every week, on average. Child abuse and neglect also claimed the lives of at least 1,560 children nationwide in 2010, including 12 Washington children. More than 1,560 law enforcement leaders and survivors—one for every child who lost their life to abuse or neglect—have signed the letter urging Congress to protect and expand funding for evidence-based home visiting services (see a list of all Washington law enforcement leaders who signed the letter).

Cowlitz County law enforcement leaders who signed the letter are Sheriff Mark Nelson, Prosecuting Attorney Sue Baur, Kelso Chief Andrew Hamilton, Castle Rock Chief Bob Heuer and Longview Chief Jim Duscha.

The letter emphasized the benefits of voluntary home visiting services, which help new parents cope with the stresses of raising a young child. Research shows quality, voluntary home visiting programs can cut child abuse and neglect by up to 50 percent, significantly reduce later crime and save taxpayers money. They say that evidence-based home visiting can save as much as $21,000 for each family served by reducing abuse, neglect, juvenile crime and other negative outcomes. Washington recently received a multi-year, $25 million dollar federal grant to expand home visiting services statewide. And the 2012 supplemental budget signed by Governor Gregoire includes nearly $1 million dollars per year in state general funds for home visiting.

The signatories, members of the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, pointed to hundreds of thousands of cases of abuse or neglect that occur every year and said that the scope of the problem should “shock the conscience of every American.”

“From a fiscal, moral and public safety perspective, we have an obligation to invest in home visiting and protect children from the harm caused by abuse and neglect,” the leaders agreed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

West Side Hwy Closure Next Week


West Side Highway south of Castle Rock will be closed in both directions during business hours next week while Cowlitz PUD crews clear brush hanging over power lines and the highway.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the highway will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Detour signs will guide motorists on a roughly two mile-long detour on Hazel Dell and Delameter roads. Drivers can also use Interstate 5 as an alternate route.

Sun Safety Tips

We see the sun so rarely around these parts that it's easy to forget some general safety rules.  One of the most important safety rules is to NEVER leave children or pets in the car on a hot day.  On a 70 degree day, even with the windows cracked, your car can exceed 120 degrees within 20 minutes.  Please check out this link and forward it to any parents

Fun in the Sun!

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

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

By keeping these few simple things in mind, you can make your experience in the water much safer.
*Learn to swim before you go into the water. Sounds silly, but many people think it will come naturally, and it really doesn’t.

*Swim near a lifeguard so help is available if you need it

*Never swim alone

*Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present

*Don't rely on flotation devices, such as rafts, you may lose them in the water

*Alcohol and swimming don't mix

*Protect your head, neck, and spine by jumping feet first into unfamiliar waters

*As soon as you believe that you may be in trouble, call or wave for help

*Follow regulations and lifeguard directions

*Swim parallel to shore if you wish to swim long distances

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

*Never leave a child alone near water. Accidents happen in seconds, so if you have to leave, take your child with you.

*Watch out for neighborhood pools. Whether it is your own or your neighbors, toys that are left around the pool can attract children to the water.

*If you have a pool, make sure you surround it by a fence that is tall enough that children cannot climb over, and with a gate that locks.

*Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. Lessons won't make your child "drown-proof," but they will increase their safety and prepare them for a lifetime of fun in the water.

*Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.

*Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.

*Parents should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What the Frost?

Yes, it's true.  The National Weather Service has issued a frost advisory for our area.  Here are details:











Are you in the Loop?

Are you one of the many Cowlitz County residents that no longer has a landline phone?  If so, you may be missing out on important emergency information.  Here is an example of our Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS) in action in Clark County.  (We have the same system)

To opt your cell phone into the Cowlitz County ECNS system, visit our website, click on the "Click Here" button and follow the directions to get your cell phone number registered.  If you have any questions, please contact our office at 577-3130 or by email at

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Help AmeriCorps and Longview Housing Help Veterans

The Cowlitz AmeriCorps team and Longview Housing Authority are holding a drive this month to help veterans who are moving into living facilities. There are always things that are needed when moving into an apartment or living facility. These are previously homeless or low income veterans.

Longview Housing Authority’s Veteran Integration Program (VIP) is partnering with Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network for a Veteran's Needs Drive.

When: armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 19, 2012

Drop off days
May 14th – May 18th, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday, May 19th, 9:00 am – 4:00 PM
Where: 1312 Hemlock Street #22, Longview, WA 98632

We are in desperate need of your help to provide Veterans with the items listed below:

Move in kits, must be new items



(2) bath towels

(2) wash clothes

Body wash

Tooth brushes

Tooth paste


Shaving cream




Move out kits, new or gently used items

Basic cookware set

Dinnerware set for 4

Glassware set for 4

Silverware set for 4

Kitchen utensils

13 gallon trashcan/bags

Shower curtain/hooks

Can opener

Kitchen knife/cutting board

Measuring cups/spoons


Mop/utility bucket

For More Information about the VIP Program or the Veteran Needs Drive,

Please Call (360)423-0140 ext. 43

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office Memorial Candlelight Vigil

The public is invited to this second annual memorial service on Thursday, May 17th in honor of National Police Week.

It will be in the parking lot of the Kelso-Longview Adventist Church, 77 Solomon Rd. Kelso, beginning at 8:30 p.m. At approximately 9:00 p.m. all emergency vehicles will turn on their spotlights and shine them directly into the air above. The vigil will end at roughly 9:30 p.m.

Directions to the facility are: From I-5 north or south, take exit 42 and turn west across the Lexington bridge. Turn south on SR-411, go approximately one mile, and the church is on the right. Patrol vehicles park on the main portion of the parking lot. Civilian cars park in the north lot.

Sheriff Warns of Cold Water Dangers


Kelso, WA-There are many things that warn us of danger; alarms, sirens, flashing lights, even someone yelling to get our attention. Consider this letter a warning; a way to avoid danger, even tragedy.

Hi! I'm Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson. The increased frequency of nice late spring weather, as well as the oncoming summer, brings out boaters, fishermen, and people anxious to enjoy the beautiful lakes and rivers that help make Cowlitz County such a beautiful place to live. However, along with the fun of our waters, come the associated dangers. Within the past few weeks, we have seen boats capsize; people fall overboard and a couple of neighboring counties have experienced drownings. WARNING! The glacier-fed waters are cold, really cold, and they can cause even a strong swimmer to become quickly incapacitated.

Over my career, I have had to pull far too many bodies out of our lakes and rivers. These were the bodies of folks who came to enjoy a relaxing, fun filled day at the beach, or on the water, and lost their lives; leaving devastated families and friends to deal with the aftermath of a pleasant day gone very, very wrong. Just this past weekend, three boaters were tossed into the icy-cold waters of Yale Lake when their boat capsized. Fortunate for them, since none of them were wearing personal floatation devices, nearby boaters were able to get to them before they succumbed to the debilitating cold water.

It works like this: you hit the water. The shock of the cold causes you to take a sharp, but shallow breath. The blood in your extremities immediately begins moving away from your limbs and into your body's core to help keep your internal organs warm. But that causes you to struggle to force your arms or legs to work. The shallow breath that you took in when you hit the water is not sufficient to provide adequate oxygen to your brain, much less the rest of your body, and you begin to flounder. Breathing is nearly impossible, except sharp, short gasps. In moments you find yourself slipping under the water, and there's nothing you can do about it.

WARNING! Please wear a life jacket. Be responsible, not regretful. Set an example, and not statistics. Make sure young people with you wear a life jacket. Make sure you have a floatable ring or cushion to throw to someone who may be in the water and is in trouble. Have a lifeline with a loop on the end for someone to get at least an arm through, that they might be pulled to safety.

There won't likely be anyone to shout a warning to you before a disaster may strike, so please heed my WARNING and prepare. Our waters are beautiful, but can be very unfriendly to the unprepared.

Be safe. Enjoy the beautiful recreation afforded us by the good Lord's creation, and let's all enjoy our waters without injury or loss of life this year.

Contact Info: Sheriff Mark Nelson 360-577-3092

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May is Volcano Awareness Month

Welcome to May, also known as "Volcano Awareness Month."  Click here for all the details on what to do in case of volcanic eruption.  If you truly want to make the most of Volcano Awareness Month, take a trip up to Mt. St. Helens and appreciate the fact that you have a front row seat to watch as nature repairs the damage done from 1980. 

Also, while you're there, please remind Mt. St. Helens to keep sleeping, nothing to see here, shhhhh.....