The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unseasonable Cold

Unseasonably cold low temperatures for the next few nights.

 A cold and dry air mass will settle over the region for the next few days. Very cold sub-freezing overnight temperatures are expected the next several nights. Temperatures may approach or break record lows for the date. Low temperatures in the urban centers will likely fall below freezing each night and have the potential to fall deep into the 20s. Outside the urban centers, low temperatures will approach 20 degrees each night. Daytime temperatures in warmest areas will struggle to reach much above 40 degrees.

PRIMARY AREAS IMPACTED: Valley locations will see the coldest temperatures and near record values, particularly in outlying areas nearer the Cascades. Locations off the valley floor and closer to the coast will not be quite as cold but still near record values.

TIMING: Tonight through at least Saturday morning. Cold conditions may continue into early next week. Clear evening skies will allow temperatures to rapidly drop. Overnight inversions will make for slow rises during the day.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE: High confidence that temperatures well below freezing will occur across a widespread area.

UNCERTAINITIES: Specific temperatures values are somewhat in question given the unusual early-season timing. Temperatures have potential to be colder than forecasted. Tonight’s temperatures will serve as a benchmark for the next several nights.

Back It Up!


Businesses create and manage a large amount of data and electronic information. Some of that data is essential to daily operations and business survival. Vital information can be lost due to hacking, human error or hardware failure resulting in significant business disruption. Would you know what to do if your information technology stopped working?

This is when having a plan for data backup and recovery will come in handy. To develop your data backup plan, you should: • Identify what data to backup; • Implement hardware and software procedures; • Schedule and conduct backups; and • Periodically check data to ensure it has been accurately backed up.

Data backup and recovery is an integral part of the business continuity plan for IT disaster preparedness. Data on network servers, wireless devices, laptop and desktop computers should be backed up along with hard copy records and other information. Tapes, cartridges and large capacity USB drives with integrated data backup software are effective means for business backup. Taking steps to secure your business’ vital information is also a great way to support the America’s PrepareAthon! campaign to increase community resilience in times of disaster. Follow @PrepareAthon on Twitter for all things disaster preparedness!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Month is This?

Well, yes, obviously it's November. But it's also Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month (CISRM)! I can't believe not one of you sent me a Happy CISRM card.

November is designated by the federal government as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month to recognize the importance of strengthening our nation’s infrastructure and enhancing our homeland security and resilience. Our nation's critical infrastructure provides the essential services that support American society. It provides the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that gets us from place to place, the bridges that connect us and the communication systems on which we rely to stay in touch with friends and family.

Safeguarding critical infrastructure against growing and evolving threats – both physical and cyber – requires a whole community effort. Read the President’s proclamation and find out what you can do to make your home, business and community more resilient here. Americans can do their part at home, at work and in their local communities by being prepared for all hazards, reporting suspicious activities, and learning more about critical infrastructure security and resilience.

Are You "Tech" Ready?


Keep your contacts updated across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list serve of your top contacts.

 •Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the internet often have the ability to work in the event of a phone service disruption.

•Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.

•Program "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.

•If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.

•If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.

•If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.

•Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.

•Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or television available (with spare batteries).

The following are additional tips when making phone calls and using your smartphone during or after a disaster:

 •Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.

•If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.

•Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.

•If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.

•If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a call. Do not text on a cell phone, talk, or "tweet" without a hands free device while driving.

•Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.

•For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross's Safe and Well program.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Alternative Water Sources

From FEMA'S "Are You Ready--An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness"

Turn off the main water valves. You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, located the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and other family members know how to perform this important procedure.

* To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small about of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.

* To use the water in your hot water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot-water furnace. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.

Safe water sources include:
* Melted ice (like from the freezer, not from the driveway)
* Water drained from the water heater
* Liquids from canned goods such as fruits or vegetables (hmm....I'd take issue with this. The liquid from canned vegetables is FULL of sodium and the liquid from fruit is full of sugar. I'd use this as a last resort)

* Water drained from pipes

Unsafe water sources include:

* Radiators

* Water beds

* Water from the toilet bowl or tank

* Swimming pools and spas (chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but could be used for personal hygiene)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members how to shut off the water at the main house valve.

* Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

* The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve (NOT the street valve in the cement box at the curb--this valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool).

Preparing to Shut Off Water

* Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.

* Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace if necessary.

* Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Read a Book

I know that Halloween is over, but if you're still looking for something scary to keep you keep you up all night, give "Five Days at Memorial" by Sheri Fink a try. The book follows the staff and patients of New Orleans Memorial Hospital in the harrowing days after Hurricane Katrina. If you are in the medical, first response or emergency management field, this book is a MUST read. It's also a great read for anyone who wants to know the true impacts of not being adequately prepared or trained for a disaster. Heart wrenching decisions had to be made in the wake of the storm and, whether or not you agree with them, it's fascinating to see how people react and respond.

Evacuation Guidelines

From FEMA'S "Are You Ready--An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness"

Evacuations are more common than people realize. People living in coastal areas and in the Gulf states are old pro's at evacuation, but here in SW Washington we don't have the constant threat of tsunami or hurricane issues. However, that's no reason to get complacent.

We have our fair share of potential hazards that might require evacuation: flood (remember 96 and 08?), wildfire (residents in the Ostrander area had to evacuate during the Ball Park Fire in 98), landslide (Aldercrest), major chemical release (hello large industrial area, how are you today?), pipeline hazards, etc. 

Here are some helpful tips for evacuation preparation:

* Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. (most of our events are fairly fast moving, so I'd say don't let your tank get below a 1/4. I'm guilty of running on fumes, but I'm resolving to stop doing that right now! Gas stations may be closed during emergencies or unable to pump gas during an electrical outage.

* Make transportation arrangements with friends or neighbors if you do not own a car.

* Listen to a radio and follow local evacuation instructions.

* Gather your family and go if you are instructed to evacuate immediately.

* Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.

* Be alert for washed out roads and bridges. Do NOT drive in flooded areas.

* Stay away from downed power lines.

* If there is a risk of flooding or power outage, unplug electrical equipment and small appliances.

* Let others know where you are going.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Disaster Preparedness Tips from the Alzheimer's Association

Advance preparations
• If your loved one lives in a residential facility, find out about its disaster and evacuation plans. Ask if you will be responsible for evacuating your loved one.
• Whether your loved one lives with you, or you are a long-distance caregiver, make sure evacuation plans include his or her specific needs. Check your local Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations that provide services for the elderly to see if help is available.
• Prepare an emergency kit (see below for suggestions).
• Enroll in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia that wander or who have a medical emergency. Call toll-free at 1.888.572.8566 or visit • If you are already enrolled in MedicAlert + Safe Return, make sure your information is up to date.

If you know a pending disaster is about to occur:
• Get yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s to a safe place.
• If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Try to leave as early as possible to minimize long delays in heavy traffic.
• Alert others (family, friends, medical personnel) that you are changing locations, and give them your contact information. Contact them regularly as you move.
• Be sure there are people other than the primary caregiver who have copies of the person with dementia’s medical history, medications, physician information and family contacts.
• Purchase extra medications.
• If your loved one uses oxygen, be sure to obtain portable tanks.

Emergency kit 

Consider preparing an emergency kit in advance. Keep it in a watertight container and store it in an easily accessible location. Your emergency kit might include:

• Easy on/off clothes (a couple of sets).
• Supplies of medication (or minimally, a list of medications with dosages).
• Velcro shoes/sneakers.
• A spare pair of eyeglasses.
• Incontinence products.
• Extra identification items for the person, such as an ID bracelet and clothing tags.
• Copies of legal documents, such as a power of attorney.
• Copies of medical documents that indicate the individual’s condition and current medications.
• Copies of insurance and Social Security cards.
• Use waterproof bags to hold medications and documents.
• Physician’s name, address and phone numbers (including cell phone).
• Recent picture of the person with dementia.
• Hand lotion or other items to promote comfort.
• Bottled water.
• Favorite items or foods. Liquid meals.
• Pillow, toy or something else to hug.
• Alzheimer’s Association and MedicAlert + Safe Return phone numbers.

During an evacuation people with dementia are especially vulnerable to chaos and emotional trauma. They have a limited ability to understand what is happening, and they may forget what they have been told about the disaster. Be alert to potential reactions that may result from changes in routine, traveling or new environments.

• When appropriate, inform others (hotel or shelter staff, family members, airline attendants) that your loved one has dementia and may not understand what is happening.
• Do not leave the person alone. It only takes a few minutes to wander away and get lost.
• Changes in routine, traveling and new environments can cause: o Agitation o Wandering o Increase in behavioral symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions and sleep disturbance.
• Do your best to remain calm. The person with dementia will respond to the emotional tone you set. Tips for preventing agitation Reassure the person. Hold hands or put your arm on his or her shoulder. Say things are going to be fine.
• Find outlets for anxious energy. Take a walk together or engage the person in simple tasks. • Redirect the person’s attention if he or she becomes upset.
• Move the person to a safer or quieter place, if possible. Limit stimulation.
• Make sure the person takes medications as scheduled.
• Try to schedule regular meals and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
• Avoid elaborate or detailed explanations. Provide information using concrete terms. Follow brief explanations with reassurance.
• Be prepared to provide additional assistance with all activities of daily living.
• Pay attention to cues that the person may be overwhelmed (fidgeting, pacing).
• Remind the person that he or she is in the right place. Helpful hints during an episode of agitation
• Approach the person from the front and use his or her name.
• Use calm, positive statements and a patient, low-pitched voice. Reassure.
• Respond to the emotions being expressed rather than the content of the words. For example, say, “You’re frightened and want to go home. It’s ok. I’m right here with you.”
• Don’t argue with the person or try to correct. Instead, affirm his or her experience, reassure and try to divert attention. For example, “The noise in this shelter is frightening. Let’s see if we can find a quieter spot. Let’s look at your photo book together.”
• Take care of yourself by finding a good listener to hear your thoughts and feelings about the event.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preparedness for Dialysis Patients

It is critical that people receiving dialysis treatment are prepared for severe weather and disaster. The following link is a great resource for disaster preparedness information specifically for people on dialysis: