The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

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. 

Going for the Preparedness!

Take a minute to read this great blog post from our good friends at CRESA (Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency).

Like many of you, I have been tied to my TV watching the coverage from London for the Olympics. As I watch the events, it amazes me at the passion these athletes have in competing. I am also just as moved by and some of the stories of sacrifice families have made to help their loved ones reach for their opportunity to compete for the Gold. Here at CRESA we want to help you achieve the medal stand as you prepare for emergencies!

BRONZE: Its important to prepare and stay informed about emergencies. Do you know what the major hazards that could happen in your area? There are many things that should be considered before, during and after an event that are unique to each hazard, and its important to plan for each. Share the hazard-specific information with family members and include pertinent materials in your family disaster plan.

Find out how you will be notified for each kind of disasters, both natural and man-made. You should also inquire about alert and warning systems for workplace, schools and other locations. There are many available here in Clark County. Information about many are listed on the CRESA website Methods may vary from community to community, but there are some like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) are almost common nationwide today. This method broadcasts via emergency radio and TV. Special siren's are still used in some areas. It's important to understand what to do when you hear one of these. .


As you prepare, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Most or all individuals have both specific personal needs as well as resources to assist others. You and your household and others you help or rely on for assistance should work together.

As part of tailoring your plans, consider working with others to create networks of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers who will assist each other in an emergency. Help create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.

 Households/individuals should consider and customize their plans for individual needs and responsibilities based on the methods of communication, types of shelter and methods of transportation available to them. Other factors to keep in mind include:

 different ages of members

 responsibilities for assisting others

 locations frequented

 dietary needs

 medical needs including prescriptions and equipment

 disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment

 languages

 cultural and religious considerations

 pets or service animals

For more information on how to prepare yourself and your family for a disaster by making an emergency plan, click here and download the sample.

SILVER: Build a Kit!! A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Assembling your kit well in advance of an emergency allows you to be ready. You may not have much time to evacuate so being prepared ahead of time is essential. . You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient amount to last for at least 72 hours. Local assistance and relief workers will be on the scene soon after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. Depending on your location and proximity to the disaster, you may get help in hours or it might take days. Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Make sure your supply kit contains items to help you manage during these outages

GOLD: Get Involved!! In the face of disaster, Americans are great at coming together in unity and asking, “How can I help?” There are many ways to Get Involved especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes and communities safer from risks and threats. The formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters. Major disasters can overwhelm first responder agencies, empowering individuals to lend support.

So Get Involved before disaster strikes! Here are a few ways you can help:

 Volunteer to support disaster efforts in your community. Get trained and volunteer with a Community Emergency Response Team, Medical Reserve Corps unit and/or other Citizen Corps Partner Program or Affiliate organization. Many local faith-based and community organizations have programs active in supporting disasters too.

 Be part of the community planning process . Connect and collaborate with your local emergency planning group, Citizen Corps Council or local emergency management agency.

 Join or start a preparedness project. Find an event or identify local resources, build a team, choose a project, set goals and serve your community by improving the preparedness of your friends, colleagues and neighbors.

 Support major disasters by donating cash or goods which may help meet the needs of your community in times of disaster.

With a little work just like those representing us in the Olympics you too can be on the path of being informed and in the game to achieve your own Gold Medal... in Preparedness!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gonna Be a HOT One!

Just got an excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service for Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.  Temps will be in the mid 90's and could reach 100.  Please remember to stay hydrated, try to stay out of the sun and NEVER leave kids or pets in the car, even for a few minutes. 

When/Where Will the Next Big Earthquake Be?

Please take a minute to check out this article from KGW news about when and where scientists believe the next big earthquake will occur. 

Follow: @KeelyChalmers
by Keely Chalmers

The odds of a devastating earthquake hitting the Oregon Coast are looking more certain.  Oregon State University scientists have even pinpointed the area that's most vulnerable - the southern coast near Coos Bay.

For more than a decade Oregon State University professor Chris Goldfinger and a team of researchers have studied core samples taken from the ocean floor. By analyzing the samples, the researchers were able to track the earthquake activity over the last 10,000 years. They soon discovered there have been a lot more quakes than originally thought. Most of them rumbled along the southern end of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a massive fault roughly 70 miles off the coast.

“The probabilities for the southern part of Cascadia are double over what we thought before,” said Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.Goldfinger's research shows that from Florence south, there's about a 40 percent chance a magnitude 8 or stronger quake will happen in the next 50 years.

Goldfinger says the last large quake to strike our coast was 300 years ago. We are now overdue.
“In the north the average repeat time is every 500 years but in the south the repeat time is half that, about 250 years,” explained Goldfinger.

Goldfinger’s research shows the probability for a quake decreases as you head north. The northern Oregon coast has about a 20 percent chance of an earthquake in the next 50 years.

And when the "big one" hits, Oregon State University engineering professor Scott Ashford says we should expect damage similar to what we saw in the Japan earthquake last year. Even Portland will see severe damage.“Some structures will collapse… some will be damaged… some will be repairable, and it’s something we are now just getting a handle on here in Oregon,” said Ashford.

He expects extensive bridge damage in the quake as well as the loss of electric, water, and sewage systems and says everyone should prepare to be on their own for at least a week.

Goldfinger agrees that when it comes to earthquakes, knowledge is our best defense. “With enough preparedness and retrofitting buildings, hopefully it will be just a really bad day instead of a disaster,” he said.