The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

This September--YOU can be the hero!

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management has committed to participate in National Preparedness Month to increase preparedness throughout the U.S. The event, now in its ninth year, is a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, encouraging households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.

One of NPM’s key messages is: be prepared in the event an emergency causes you to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or maybe even without response from police, fire or rescue.

Preparing can start with four important steps:
 1. Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community, and identify sources of information in your community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency
2. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency
3. Build an emergency supply kit
4. Get involved. Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community.

This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and all communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Countdown to Preparedness Month!

Only a few more days until National Preparedness Month! How are you celebrating this year? Trimming the ol' preparedness tree with flashlights and batteries? Singing disaster carols while you rotate the supplies in your preparedness kit? Dressing up in a HazMat suit and going door to door asking neighbors for canned food and bottled water? Maybe not everyone celebrates like emergency managers do, but everyone can do their part to be prepared! Check out to learn about things you can do to get better prepared for a winter storm, power outage or earthquake.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Email Scam

Spear-Phishing E-mail with Missing Children Theme 

The FBI has become aware of a spear-phishing e-mail made to appear as if it were from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The subject of the e-mail is “Search for Missing Children,” and a zip file containing 3 malicious files is attached. E-mail recipients should never open attachments or click links in suspicious e-mails. Spear-phishing attacks are often used by individuals conducting targeted, rather than opportunistic, attacks.

Those responsible for the attack may be seeking precise information stored on an organization’s network or systems rather than monetary gain. Every organization is at risk of being the target of a spear-phishing attack. This type of activity can best be mitigated with increased cyber security.

When weighing available options pertaining to the implementation of appropriate mitigation strategies, organizations must begin by asking themselves the following:
 If proprietary data, personally identifiable information (PII), research and development related data, e-mail, or other critical information were stolen, what would the current and future consequences be?
 Has my organization evaluated data criticality based on risk? What must be protected in the organization? To mitigate the threat of spear-phishing and other targeted attacks, DHS’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends the following actions:
 Always treat unsolicited or unexpected e-mail containing attachments or links with caution, even (and perhaps especially) when the e-mail appears related to known events or projects.
 Monitor for and report on suspicious activity, such as spear phishing e-mails, leading up to significant events and meetings.
 Educate users about social engineering and e-mail phishing related to high-level events and meetings.
 Measure expected network activity levels so that changes in patterns can be more easily identified.

If you have received a suspicious e-mail at work, please report it to your organization in accordance with your organization’s security policy. You may also report this activity to the FBI by filing a complaint at US-CERT can be reached by telephone at 888-282-0870 or by e-mail at US-CERT’s web site can be found online at When available, each report submitted should include the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people, and type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Safety

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelled and can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by appliances that are not used properly or that are malfunctioning. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help.
Once inhaled, carbon monoxide:
* Can cause permanent brain damage.
* Can cause chest pains or heart attacks in people with heart disease.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
* Headache
* Weakness
* Dizziness
* Confusion
* Fatigue
* Nausea

What should be done with you suspect someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide?
* Move the person to a place with fresh air immediately.
* Take the person to an emergency room and tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
* Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages or mobile homes. Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in the home.
* Never use gasoline powered equipment indoors.
* Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
* Never sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.
* Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
* Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.
* Carbon monoxide warning devices may provide additional protection, but should not replace the other prevention steps.

30 Days, 30 Ways

It's time once again for the CRESA 30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge in honor of National Preparedness Month.

The game is simple, each day one preparedness task will be posted on the website and YOU submit your completion of the task.  Pics or it didn't happen. :)

To learn more visit  You can also find the challenge on Facebook at

The countdown is on, are you ready?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Local Business and Local Teacher Partner to Improve Health

From the Cowlitz County Health Department The Cowlitz County Health Department has partnered with the St. Helen’s Shopping Center and Patrick Carrico, an art teacher at Wahkiakum High School, to revitalize the local store’s appearance. A mural designed by Mr. Carrico will be painted on the side of the building facing 30th Avenue in Longview, WA on Saturday, August 17th, 2013.

The mural will depict the history of food in Cowlitz County beginning with Native American food gathering and advancing to modern times. The purpose of this project is to highlight the store’s dedication to providing healthy options for shoppers and improving the overall health of the community. St. Helen’s Shopping Center was specifically chosen for this project due to its commitment to being a Healthy Neighborhood Store.

The creation and maintenance of healthy neighborhood stores is a national initiative geared towards encouraging local shopping centers to provide fresh produce and other healthy food items for community members. “This project is about relationships and making small, simple changes to improve healthy options,” said Jenn Schapman, Health Educator with Cowlitz Health Department. In addition to Mr. Carrico and St. Helen’s Shopping Center, a number of local coalitions have been instrumental in making the mural a reality. The Highlands Neighborhood Association, Cowlitz Tribe, and City of Longview have been especially supportive of efforts to improve community wellness.

Cowlitz County Contact: PIO (360) 414-5599 x6450 community members are encouraged to help paint the mural! Everyone is welcome to grab a brush and help revitalize the local store; supplies will be provided. 

Please Join Us! DATE: Saturday, August 17th, 2013 TIMES: 10am-3pm LOCATION: St. Helen’s Shopping Center 236 30th Ave, Longview, WA 98632 For more information about the mural or to learn about how to become a Healthy Neighborhood Store in Cowlitz County, please contact Jennifer Schapman at 360.414.5599, ext. 6433 or # # #

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Phone Scam

FYI from A Longview woman says that someone claiming to be from the “Longview Police Fraud Division” called her at home last night, and tried to obtain personal information from the woman. The woman called the Sheriff’s Office from her home on the west end of Longview shortly before 9 pm; she was immediately suspicious about the call, and did not give any information to the caller. The woman also says that she was able to get the caller’s phone number from her caller ID, saying that the call apparently originated from the 509 area code. Followup is being planned.

Friday, August 9, 2013


NWS has now upgraded the RED FLAG WARNING to include the entire state of Washington through 11 pm Sunday. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions exist. Abundant lightning is forecasted. Also, be extremely cautious with cigarettes or other flammables.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wireless Emergency Alerts

From our friends at Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency 
The Skinny on Wireless Emergency Alerts

Emergency officials now have a new way to send warnings directly to cell phones in affected areas - Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA's). Here is the Skinny on these new alerts. These short messages that may look like a text message, can be sent to all phones within range of designated cell towers through the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS). The alerts will tell you the type of warning, the affected area, and the duration. You'll need to turn to other sources, such as television or your NOAA All-Hazard radio, to get more detailed information about what is happening and what actions you should take.

 ** Please Note - Currently CMAS alerts are set up to alert an entire county if there is an emergency within that area. At this time, there is no way to just select the area that may be affected. The Three Types of Wireless Emergency Alerts: The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) can be used to broadcast three types of emergency alerts:
PRESIDENTIAL ALERTS - Issued by the U.S. President in the event of a nationwide emergency. IMMINENT THREAT ALERTS - Typically issued by the National Weather Service; in the Portland/Vancouver Metro area, these would include tornado, flooding, volcano, ice storm and blizzard warnings.
 AMBER ALERTS - Issued by law enforcement to share information about child abduction. Is Your Phone

Ready for WEA? If you have an older model phone, you may not receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts. Most newer model phones of the iPhone and Android models are currently coming with this added feature. Check with your service provider to find out if your phone is WEA-capable. AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have information about the new alert system on their websites.

Key Things to Know: WEA messages may look like a text, or appear over your home screen. The alert message will include a unique ringtone and vibration. You will never be charged for WEA messages. Emergency alerts will not interrupt any calls or downloads in progress. If you’re on the phone when the alert goes out, you’ll get the message when you end your call. You need not have GPS or any other special features turned on to receive the alerts. The system does not identify your location or phone number — it simply sends the message to all devices in a given area. If you’re on the road and enter an area with an active warning, you’ll receive a WEA message as soon as you come within range of one of the affected cell towers.
Cell Tower Geography May Lead to Over-Warning:
Because cell towers broadcast in a radius or circle, their coverage areas don't line up neatly with county boundaries. This means you may receive warnings for an adjacent county if you are within a few miles of the border. The alerts are delivered directly from cell tower to cell phone through a one-way broadcast. The Commercial Mobile Alert System does not track or locate individual cell phones or phone numbers - it simply broadcasts to all phones within range. 

Unfortunately in some cases, this may result in over-warning. For example, if a weather warning is issued for a particular county, it will go to all towers that serve that county. Towers in urban areas generally serve a radius of two to five miles, and in rural areas up to 10 miles, so the warning message may reach a little beyond the warning boundaries. We have seen issues with this locally with snow alerts this season. Because of the reporting and issuing area covered, areas that really are not affected received snow alerts because they were within areas cell towers that broadcast also to areas that would be affected. Eventually these alerts will get to where we can pin point much more just the affected areas instead of the entire county. Until then this is a small hiccup we will have to deal with

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Avoiding Crime and Fraud Following Disaster

Unscrupulous contractors and others often target areas where disasters cause damage and destruction. Use extra caution to avoid being scammed.

* Check the identification of anyone claiming to be a government official, property inspector, or loss verifier. * Be sure that any contractor you contact is licensed and insured, and has a good reputation.
* Be cautious about any door-to-door salesmen, charity representatives, or contractors asking for cash up front.
* Carefully read all applications for disaster assistance and contracts for home repairs.
* Verify the identity of anyone who asks you for your personal information.
From FEMA Disaster Recovery Guide

Disasters often bring out the best in people, but in a few cases it brings out the ugly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blue Green Algae Bloom in Silver Lake

Longview, WA – Cowlitz County Public Health officials are advising the public to avoid direct contact with water at Silver Lake due to a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom. Because exposure to cyanobacteria can cause disease, public health officials are recommending:
  No swimming, wading or activities that involve water contact
  No wind surfing or sail boarding
  No water contact for animals
  Precautions against contact with water while boating or fishing

 “It is important that when there is a visible algae bloom that people not come into contact with the water to protect their health and avoid possible illness. We have posted signage around the lake for awareness purposes. As long as the signs are posted, people are encouraged to avoid contact with the water. Please do not swim in or drink the lake water at this time until further notice,” said Audrey Shaver, Environmental Health Services Lead.

Silver Lake is not closed to recreational activities but the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where the algae bloom is visibly present. The public water supply and private wells around the lake are not affected by the blue green algae bloom. Eating fish out of the lake is considered safe as long as organs like liver and kidney, where toxins can build up, are carefully removed and that people always wash hands after cleaning fish. The Cowlitz County Health Department is actively monitoring the lake, but conditions that promote algae growth and toxin release can change quickly. Monitoring and testing of the lake cannot ensure that all areas of the lake are safe.

About cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) A blue-green algal bloom is a rapid and massive buildup that gives the water a scummy texture and a green color. It may also appear bluish, brownish or reddish green. A bloom may appear during warm weather, usually between May and October. Warm, sunny weather and pollutants can cause algal blooms. Possible sources of pollutants include phosphorus and nitrogen, found in fertilizers and in agricultural, human and animal waste. Some algae may contain toxins that can lead to liver injury, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, the toxins can damage the nervous system and lead to muscle tremors, paralysis and respiratory distress. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters also are possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes or appear hours or days later following exposure. If you have had contact with the water and experience any of these symptoms, you may wish to contact your health care provider. Because warm- blooded animals, such as cats, dogs and livestock are at risk from exposure, please keep pets out of the lake. To report an algae bloom or symptoms of illness that may be related to algae exposure, please call the Cowlitz County Health Department Environmental Health Services at 360-414-5599, press 1, x6441. Additional information on blue-green is also available online at

Monday, August 5, 2013

Being Prepared is A Bright Idea Drawing Contest!

The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management and Cowlitz PUD is excited to announce our Prepare Fair “Being Prepared is a Bright Idea” Drawing Contest! The contest invites kids ages 5 to 12 to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters such as earthquakes, floods, wildfires, etc. The contest also encourages kids and their families to take action to prepare!

 We are looking for a creative drawing or design that shows how kids and their families can either prepare for a disaster or how they could help others after a disaster. The picture could represent an idea such as creating an emergency plan or an action such as “drop, cover and hold.” One winner will be chosen out of each age group. The contest is for kids ages 5 to 12.

There will be two age groups: ages 5 to 8 and ages 9 to 12. The Grand Prize Winner from each age group will have their drawing featured on the advertising for Prepare Fair and will win a gift bag. The runner-up from each age group will receive a gift bag. The top ten drawings from each age group will be prominently displayed at the Fair. All drawing submissions must be received by August 31st to be considered for selection. Contest winners will be announced on September 3rd and Prepare Fair flyers will be printed shortly after. To receive an application packet with all of the information, please email Jennifer at