The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

3.6 magnitude EQ in Clark County

A moderate earthquake shook up Clark County at 5:30 p.m. today.  Here's KGW's write-up:

Soooo.....are you interested in learning more about earthquake preparedness?  Lucky for you there is an amazing opportunity coming your way on February 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the PUD Auditorium in Longview (961 12th Avenue).  Come listen to earthquake expert James Roddey talk about how to be prepared and what our area is facing with regard to earthquake threats.

If you are interested in attending, PLEASE RSVP as space is limited.  Email to RSVP.

Caution for VoIP Users

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

May the Savings be With You

Just found a $10 of a $50 purchase at Safeway in today's Daily News.  A gallon of water is generally about a dollar, so for no extra money out of my pocket, there's 10 gallons of water for my disaster supply kit, in addition to the groceries that I already need (why do the children demand to eat every day?!).  That alone is almost enough to satisfy the proverbial "one gallon, per person, per day for three days" rule of thumb for a family of four. 

Don't need water?  Please, you always need water.  But if you really don't, how about a flashlight? Or some canned food?  Batteries?  Now, go forth and SAVE!

New Strain of Norovirus is Particularly Nasty

Check out this MSNBC article called, "Why Washing Your Hands isn't Enough" about the new strain of Norovirus (the Sydney Strain).  The virus is apparently also called "Winter Vomiting Disease."  There's a cheery name.

Be sure to take extra precautions this winter to avoid illness.  Here are some tips from the CDC to prevent Norovirus:

If anyone needs me, I'll be in a plastic bubble filled with hand sanitizer and Vitamin C.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Siren Testing in Cougar

This info comes from our friends at PacifiCorp Energy:

PacifiCorp Energy intends to test its park evacuation sirens at Beaver Bay and Cougar Campgrounds near Cougar, Washington on Wednesday, January 30th at approximately 11:30 AM. The test should only last a couple of minutes if all is working properly.
Testing is being performed in order to check the operation of the devices should they be needed for an emergency. Residents of the Cougar area were sent notices about this test a few weeks ago and were previously informed that these sirens are only intended for the before-mentioned parks. Additional testing will be required in the future and we will inform you and residents prior to testing.

Communications Academy 2013

Are you a HAM radio operator?  Do you want to be?  The 2013 Communications Academy is open to anyone with an interest in emergency communications, volunteer or professional. 

The academy will be held on April 13th and 14th at the South Seattle Community College Campus in Seattle.  To read more about it click here:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blogs Gone Wild

Somehow the blog post that I scheduled to go out Monday went out Friday (making me a liar in saying that it was National Blueberry Pancake Day when clearly it was not) and also an old post from December 3rd was sent out again yesterday.  I think I have all the settings back to normal, so disregard the last few days postings and hopefully things will be back on track on Monday when it is, indeed, National Blueberry Pancake Day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why Prepare?

Because, in the words of Mike Brady (and others) "Wherever you go, there you are." In any disaster, it is friends and neighbors who are first there to lend a hand. Check out this great article "In Praise of Ordinary People" about the common individual, often an overlooked asset in disaster response.

Who is going to be first to respond to a disaster that affects you and your family? Well, YOU are! Have you learned something valuable from this experience? Bobby? Cindy? Be sure to re-read the entire post in Mike Brady's voice. It really adds a little authority to everything.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Yet another reason to Be Prepared!

Click here for an interesting article from MSNBC on the probability of a "Cyber 9/11" attack.  How long do you think our nation could function without water, electricity and gas?  Considering this study says that 58% of Americans check their mobile devices hourly, I'd say it would be about 3 hours before total chaos ensues...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On a Tight Budget?

Aren't we all?  The other day I received a $10 off a $50 purchase coupon from WinCo.  Sweet!  We all get coupons from time to time from WinCo, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc.  Since it's money that you weren't anticipating, why not put it toward a few items for your disaster supply kit. 

I already needed groceries that would far exceed $50 at WinCo, so I used my extra $10 for AA batteries ($7.99 and a gallon of water $.99).  The water has a shelf life of one year and the batteries claim they will be good until March of 2017, so for no additional money out of my pocket, I added two useful items to my disaster kit.

Did I want to use my "free" $10 for disaster supplies?  Not really.  I would have rather bought $10 worth of buttered popcorn flavor Jelly Bellies from the bulk food section.  But, alas, I wanted to be a role model of fiscal prudence and bought the disaster supplies instead.  They won't rot my teeth or gross out my family like the aforementioned Jelly Bellies. 

Chance of Freezing Rain Tonight

From the Portland National Weather Service:

Freezing rain is possible Tuesday night and Wednesday for much of the interior lowlands. The stagnant weather pattern is expected to end as a cold front moves through the area Tuesday night into Wednesday. Currently much of the interior lowlands are under a strong temperature inversion with freezing temperatures at the surface and above freezing temperatures above ~1000 to ~1500 feet. As the front moves through, precipitation could fall as freezing rain for the interior lowlands. The main forecast challenge is when the surface temperatures go above freezing to end the freezing rain potential. A secondary challenge is the amount of freezing rain accumulation.


• Willamette Valley

• Southwest Washington interior

• Columbia River Gorge

• Upper Hood River Valley

• The lower valleys in the Coast Range and Cascade Foothills may also be affected.

Light freezing rain is possible with accumulations generally a tenth of an inch or less. Main impact is slippery roads and walkways.

If the current forecast timing of the event plays out, the greatest impact will be during the morning commute Wednesday morning and extended through Wednesday afternoon for the Columbia River Gorge.

TIMING: Tuesday night (after midnight) and Wednesday.

Willamette Valley and Southwest Washington interior – Late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Columbia River Gorge – The west end will likely have similar conditions as the Willamette Valley with perhaps a longer duration.

The east end will likely start as light snow then transition to period of freezing rain Wednesday, and finally to rain Wednesday evening.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Important - SR411 Closure 1/19 and 1/20

The following press release from Washington State Department of Transportation:

Washington State Department of Transportation
Southwest Region - PO Box 1709 - Vancouver, WA 98668-1709 - (360) 905-2000

Jan. 16, 2013

Emergency repair work closes SR 411 near Longview

LONGVIEW – An emergency project to temporarily repair State Route 411 will shut down all lanes of the highway, Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20.

Crews with the Washington State Department of Transportation will close SR 411 from Beacon Hill Road to Solomon Road, starting at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Crews plan to reopen the roadway by 6 p.m. Sunday evening.

Drivers can take an alternate route by using Allen Street and Sparks Drive.

Water from a leaking culvert has saturated the soil that supports SR 411. Crews will drill through the highway, excavate the waterlogged soil and replace it with rock to support the weight of the roadway and its traffic.

Temporary repairs will stabilize the road until crews are able to determine the extent of damage and plan for permanent repairs.

Cowlitz Health Improvement Forum

The Cowlitz County Health Department is conducting a forum to share the results of three months of public input regarding improving health outcomes in Cowlitz County.  You are invited to attend this public forum on January 31, 2013 at the Cowlitz County Regional Expo Center, 1900 7th Avenue, Longview, WA, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.  At this forum you can:

*Learn about County health priorities
*Discuss how we can create a healthier County together

Dinner is provided and child care is available upon request.  Registration is required.  Please click on the invitaton for more information.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1-17-13 Water Outage Castle Rock

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 17, 2013, water service will be turned off in the areas specified below for emergency water system repairs.

The City of Castle Rock and a local contractor are repairing a leaking water main under the Powell Road overpass on I-5 between Exits 48 and 49. Due to extenuating circumstances we will need to continue this repair tomorrow on Thursday morning beginning at 8:00 a.m. This will necessitate that some residences will be without water in these areas west of I-5:

400 to 600 blocks of Buland Drive,
Mets Road,
Appleman Road,
300 and 400 blocks of Cowlitz Street E and
100 block of Powell Road

These streets may also be affected:

100 block Allen Avenue SE,
100 block Roake Avenue SE,
Joann Drive NE,
Pioneer Avenue NE,
Helton Street NE,
Green Street NE and
LaRue Street NE

Please be prepared for this water outage to last the entire day. We will restore your service as soon as we can, but please take necessary precautions to account for a disruption in service during the time it takes to complete this emergency repair. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the
Public Works Department at 274-7478.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Flu Season

From our friends at the Cowlitz County Health Department:
It is officially flu season in Cowlitz County. The Daily News did a story today on how we are seeing an uptick in seasonal flu locally, as well as state-wide, and nationally (Boston and New York have declared emergencies because of how many people are sick and the surge on healthcare). Below are some facts about seasonal flu and websites for reference. The Health and Human Services Department would like all employees to know these facts about seasonal flu.

Seasonal Flu Facts:
• Seasonal Influenza (flu) spreads easily from person-to-person thru uncovered coughs and sneezes. The flu can spread to others before a person knows they're sick.

• It is important to cover all coughs and sneezes and to wash your hands with hot water and soap and/or use hand sanitizer on a regular basis.

o Tip: Covering coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow instead of your hands limits the amount of potential virus on your hands. Practicing good “respiratory etiquette” can help limit transmission of the flu from person to person.

o If you do have symptoms of the flu it is important to stay home until your symptoms have passed and call your doctor if needed. Staying home while sick limits you sharing your illness with others and limits your exposure to other illness while your body is trying to recover.

• Getting the seasonal flu vaccine not only helps protect you against getting the seasonal flu but also helps protect those around you. The more people who get vaccinated the harder it is for the flu to spread within our communities from person to person.

o Fact: The best protection for those people who cannot get the vaccine because of pre-existing medical conditions or allergies to vaccine is for those they come in contact with to have been vaccinated.

• Flu vaccine is safe for the majority of people to receive. The seasonal flu shot can be given to anyone six months and older and you are encouraged to do so if you have not already this fall/winter season.

• The flu shot contains inactivated (killed) viruses. You can not get the flu from the flu shot because the virus is not alive. Your arm might be a little sore afterward but you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

• It’s not too late to get vaccinated. You can get flu vaccine from your local healthcare provider and/or through a local pharmacy. Contact your doctor’s office or a local pharmacy to see when they offer flu vaccine.

Check out the Washington State's Department of Health Flu Overview:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So You Survived the Mayan Apocalypse...Now What?

Come join us for a GREAT presentation about preparing for disasters, specifically earthquakes, from speaker James Roddey.  Roddey is an award winning author, director and natural hazards expert.  He has discussed natural disasters and preparedness on CNN, The CBS Evening News, NPR and more.  He is currently the Director of ReadySetPrepare, which offers consultation services and motivational presentations on building resilient communities, and disaster readiness for businesses and families.

Cowlitz County DEM has booked Mr. Roddey for a presentation on February 7th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the PUD Auditorium (961 12th Avenue in Longview).  Admission is FREE!  There will be door prizes, information booths and tons of great information.

Space is limited, so RSVP's are appreciated.  For more information or to reserve your seat, please email Jennifer Engkraf at

Monday, January 7, 2013

Surviving an Active Shooter

It seems like every time we turn on the news, there is another random act of violence somewhere in the world. Whether unprovoked mass shootings are a new reality or not—we need to proactively respond to it in a smart way. We’ve all been taught to park in well-lit areas, be aware of our surroundings and have keys ready for quick entry in the car and this behavior for most of us has become routine.

We must develop a similar automatic response mechanism if we hear shots fired. Training is the best way to make this happen. There are a number of good videos like the one above from the City of Houston's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Here is a link to another:  There is even a free online FEMA training course to familiarize yourself with a variety of response scenarios.

Be alert, be aware and know what to do!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cold and Rainy Weather Ahead...

From the PDX National Weather Service.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Memorial Vigil for Chief Ralph Painter

A fundraiser and memorial vigil for Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter will be held on Saturday at El Tapatio Restaurant in Rainier.  It marks the second anniversary of his shooting death on January 5, 2011. 

From noon until 8:00 p.m., the restaurant will donate half of its proceeds to the Ralph Painter Memorial Scholarship Fund and the local Backpacks for Kids program, a charity close to Painter's heart.

At 7:00 p.m. a candlelight vigil will be held for Painter on the restaurant's patio. 

El Tapatio is located at 117 West A Street in Rainier.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Get to Know Your Phone

An intrepid blog readers shared this cool article with me about how to turn your SmartPhone into a virtual survival kit:  If you have a SmartPhone, make sure you are using it to its full capability. 

Learn Something

Was your New Year's Resolution to get more prepared?  Or to learn more?  If so, or even if not, take advantage of Longview Parks and Rec's First Aid/CPR classes.  There are two coming up, one on January 12th and another on February 23rd, both 9:00 a.m. to noon.  They are reasonably priced at $50, but really, isn't the cost of saving a life priceless? 

To learn more or to sign up, go to or call 442-5400.