The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Flood Watch in Effect for NW Oregon and SW Washington

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch in effect from Saturday afternoon through Monday afternoon for SW WA and NW OR.

From National Weather Service:

Confidence continues to increase that a classic atmospheric river type precipitation event will set up over the Pacific Northwest over the weekend and continue into early Monday.  A deep and moist westerly flow is expected to develop Saturday morning and strengthen later Saturday and Sunday. 

The I-5 Corridor and Lower Columbia Valley can expect around 1-2 inches of rain on Saturday and an additional 1-3 inches on Sunday.  The Cowlitz River is projected to reach close to flood stage, but not bankfull. 

Cowlitz County DEM will update the weather/flooding status as more information becomes available.

Terms to know

FLOOD WATCH means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.  Please monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. 

FLOOD STAGE is the point at which the water level in a stream may cause damage to structures. It may be below bankfull stage if structures are located in a floodway.

BANKFULL is the point at which the water level in a stream overtops the banks and spreads out onto the floodplain.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Potential for Flooding This Weekend

Early weekend projections from the National Weather Service indicate a potential for flooding Saturday night though Monday for NW Oregon and SW Washington rivers.

A storm system developing over the Pacific is expected to bring heavy rain to the Pacific NW Saturday evening through Sunday.  As of now, it looks like the heaviest rain will be in the N. Oregon Coast Range and the N. Oregon and S. Washington Cascades, but the forecast remains uncertain.
Rainfall amounts are currently projected to be around 2 to 5 inches for our area.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the forecast, so stay tuned for more information.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Traveling for the Holidays?

If you are traveling by car this holiday season, be sure you are prepared for anything!


In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
  • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
  • Water for each person and pet in your car
  • AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
Also consider:
  • A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

High Wind Warning

The High Wind Warning for Cowlitz County will be in effect from late morning to 10pm Thursday. The winds should peak between 3pm and 8pm. Sustained winds of approximately 40 mph are expected with gusts 55-60 mph. Be prepared for power outages, trees down, etc. Periods of intense rain could happen with this storm, but overall precipitation amounts are not expected to be out of the ordinary.

Charge your cellphones and keep a flashlight handy!

Holiday Fire Safety

Did you know that 2 out of every 5 home decoration fires start with candles? Check out these winter holiday safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association and practice your family emergency plan over the holidays:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Safety Tips!

Yuletide Lighting

Hanging holiday lights can be a fun family activity and adds a festive touch to your home. But if you’re not careful, yuletide illuminations can also increase your risk of a home fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), one of every three home holiday tree fires is caused by electrical problems. As you deck the halls this season, remember to be fire smart. Here are some tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to keep your decorations from going up in smoke:  

·       Whether it’s indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Make sure your lights have a label from an independent testing laboratory;

·       Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or replace them before using;

·       Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord; and 

·       Turn off lights on trees and other decorations before going to bed.

Don’t let disaster ruin your festivities! Learn more ways to “Put a Freeze on Winter Holiday Fires” with USFA’s colorful infographic and give the gift of safety by sharing this important information with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Weather Update

Update from National Weather Service:  Confidence is higher that the Cowlitz County area will experience snow/sleet tomorrow morning beginning between 6 and 7 a.m. which will transition to snow later in the morning (up to 4 inches).  Just in time for the afternoon commute, there is a possibility of the snow transitioning into freezing rain.  For more information click here:

Winter Weather on the Way!

Who's ready for winter? We just participated in a weather briefing from the Portland National Weather Service. Their forecast for the Lower Columbia area includes possibility for up to 4 inches of snow tomorrow beginning anywhere from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. with snow possibly transitioning to freezing rain in the afternoon. They stressed that the confidence in this forecast is low right now and they should know more after updated satellite readings this afternoon so stay tuned! 

Click here for more info.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Aid and Disaster Preparedness classes coming up

Longview Parks and Rec is holding a First Aid/CPR class this Saturday, November 8th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  For cost and registration information, call 360-442-5400. 

Why not make a full day of learning useful skills?  December 6th from 9:00 a.m. to noon there will be a First Aid/CPR class and then from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. there will be a Disaster Preparedness education class.  For cost and registration information, call Longview Parks and Rec at 360-442-5400.  Take one day to learn skills for a lifetime!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Windy Weather in Store

The Portland National Weather Service advises that Cowlitz County can expect some higher winds tonight beginning at midnight and lasting through tomorrow morning.  Winds may be 15-25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tornado in Longview!

What a crazy day yesterday!  We wanted to extend a sincere thanks to all of the first responders, utility crews, business owners and bystanders that came together in the aftermath of this extremely unexpected event.  We are so glad that no one was injured!

Here are a few links to news items regarding yesterday's event:

You can follow the chronology and see people's pictures on our Facebook page:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wind and Rain on the way

Wind and rain is headed our way!  According to the Portland National Weather Service, the Lower Columbia area can expect heavy rainfall beginning late Tuesday night that will continue into Thursday morning.  There is potential for 1-3 inches of rain and winds between 30-35 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 in higher elevation areas.    

As the leaves are beginning to cover both the ground and the storm drains, there is potential for short duration street flooding and slick roadways.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Water Storage and Treatment Webinar

*This comes to us from Nitro-Pak, a disaster supply kit company.  They are offering a free water storage and treatment online webinar on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.  Click on the "Reserve Your Spot Now" link to RSVP.
News of the Ebola virus and the approaching flu season should not cause us to panic, but it should remind us of another type of emergency we need to be prepared for: a quarantine.
Would your family be prepared to be isolated to avoid the outbreak of the flu or other illness?
Water should be at the top of your quarantine prep list. To help you be prepared, I want to offer you a chance to learn from emergency water expert Glenn Meder.
Glenn's webinar on how to purify water in an emergency situation generated one of the best response rates we've ever had.  That's why I've invited Glenn back to offer his FREE one-hour class again on Wednesday, October 22nd at 8 p.m. CDT, (9 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. MDT / 6 p.m. PDT). 
We've invited Glenn back to show us how to provide safe drinking water independent of supply chains and pre-stored water supplies.  
Don't miss out on this vital education. Register now!  
Harry Weyandt
President, Nitro-Pak

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why Drop, Cover, and Hold On?

The Great Washington Shake Out is coming!  On 10/16 at 10:16 a.m. over 800,000 Washingtonians have pledged to do a Drop, Cover, Hold earthquake drill.  Will you be one?

Why is it important to do a Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill? To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, before strong shaking knocks you down--or drops something on you. Practicing helps you be ready to respond.
  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold On:
    • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
    • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
    Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in Washington you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.

  • If you in a low lying coastal area, immediately move inland and to higher ground because a tsunami could follow the earthquake. Do not return until local officials announce it is safe to reenter coastal areas.

  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.

  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

Ground shaking during an earthquake is seldom the cause of injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.
Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. An immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps to avoid injury from flying debris.

Disaster Preparedness Activities That Don't Cost a Thing!

10 Totally Free Prepping Items To Do

1. Learn to get around your house in the dark. Think about the days when you were a teenager and had to sneak in and out of your house without your parents hearing. You didn't do that? Oh. Moving on....

Learn your escape plan and be able to get around in the dark in case of no power or someone strange being in your house. This might mean you will have to clean your floors and move furniture so you can get around safely. Also, be sure your bag, purse, keys, phone, wallet, etc. is in one, logical place for you to find in the dark and get out safely.

2. Inventory your things. Do you know what you have? Where is it? What are you missing? You need to make an inventory of your prepping supplies and things with where the item is located. If the items can be easily located, you can respond to a situation or emergency much, much more quickly. This inventory should be for food, ammo, supplies, first aid supplies, etc. Everything should be inventoried.

3. Organize your food. Put your food together in logical groups: baking, vegetable, fruits, meats, spices, condiments, sauces, etc. Get even more specific than that - put all your salt together in one place, for example. Put items in plastic bags in glass jars so the food will last longer. Write the expiration dates clearly on the food items so you know to grab the oldest food first. Organize your food to have the oldest food in front and newest in the back or on the bottom. With everything organized, you can send your kids to get the food items you want without the stress of telling them 30,000 times where it is!

4. Can your meats. Look in your freezer and look at the meats that are easy to can. I like to can chicken, stew meat, ground meats, and turkey. If you lose power for multiple days, you can still have a good supply of meat to feed your family and reduce the waste of what you might lose. Meat is too expensive to waste!

5. Make a family preparedness plan. This is a good thing for the whole family can participate in. You need to decide where to go, where to meet, what to grab, how to act, and what to do. You need to make multiple plans in case that Plan A doesn't work, your family knows what to do otherwise. Make sure you also include emergency contacts, medical records, and an inventory of your household goods and keep them ALL in the same place.

6. Write out your priority/wish list. This one is my favorite to do and it keeps me focused! What do you want to get done around the property and house? What do you wish you could do or buy for your preparedness goals? Write down what you need to buy or make. Take this list shopping with you or keep it buy the computer in case you get a little money for those items. Dreaming and planning cost nothing!

7. Practice your skills! Practice those skills which you feel you need refining. Practice makes you better! If you feel your target shooting needs some practice, set up some cans on a fence post and start practicing! Fill a feed sack or a pet food bag with grass clipping or dead leaves. Get the bow and arrow out and start practicing! Need to get more comfortable with sewing? Get some material out and make a pillow while practicing making a straight seam. The possibilities are endless!

8. Complete projects! I have projects that I have all the stuff I need for the project, I just haven't done it. I have started projects and I haven't finished them. I have total confidence I am not the only one! Get your projects done!

9. Organize, clean out, put together your Every Day Carry (EDC) Bag. This can be your purse, a tote bag, backpack, or whatever you feel comfortable carrying with you in the car or everywhere you go. Everyone carries different things with them and most of what you carry depends on where you are at in life (baby, kids, no kids). I like to carry extra cash, flashlight, personal items, knife, scissors, pens/pencils, food, small first-aid kit, small sewing kit, gloves, hat, and other things I might need. This bag is what would be your go-to bag as well as your bag you grab if you need to walk anywhere due to car breakdowns, emergencies, etc.

10. Clean out your vehicles and check their fluids and tires. Anytime is a good time to vacuum out the vehicle and get the trash out of it. Wipe down the surfaces and organize what needs to stay in the vehicle. When you get down with that, check the fluid levels in the vehicles and check the tire pressure. Top off what needs to be topped off and pump up the tires if needed. Your vehicle needs to be ready to go anytime you are!

With winter and weekend coming, now is a good time to get these things done! You will not spend any money if you don't want to. If you find yourself in a position where you might, see if you have anything that might work in its place! Be creative!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

6.2 Earthquake Reported near Anchorage, AK

From Northwest Cable News

A 6.2 earthquake shook parts of southern Alaska on Thursday morning, but its depth suggested the impact on the small towns nearby could be modest.
The quake, estimated at a 6.2 magnitude, was centered 60 miles west northwest of Willow, Alaska, and 81 miles northwest of Anchorage.

The quake struck at a depth of 63 miles. In contrast, the magnitude 6 earthquake near Napa, Calif. was at a depth of 7 miles.

Alaska is the most seismically active U.S. state. Many Alaskans fear a quake along the lines of the 1964 "Good Friday" earthquake, which caused 139 deaths, mostly from a related tsunami.
The town of Willow, with a population of 2,300 people, might be familiar to some outside Alaska because it's reportedly the source of name of Willow Palin, daughter of former candidate for vice president Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It Doesn't Cost A Lot To Be Prepared!

--By Darryl J. Madden, Director of the Ready Campaign

It is no secret that many families and individuals are looking to cut back on spending.  But with the frequency of disaster, both natural and manmade, can you afford not to be prepared?  Preparedness doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

September is National Preparedness Month, and we are asking you to help your family and friends prepare for whatever may come.  Here are a few tips on how you can protect those that matter to you without spending a fortune:

Make A Plan.  Work with your family and neighbors to make an emergency plan for the types of disasters that affect your area.  Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency.  You can download Family Emergency Plan templates at

Update Contact Information.  Having accurate records for family, friends and neighbors will help you stay in contact and possibly help those in need.  Make sure updated contact information is posted in visible places throughout your house and workplace.

Check Your Policy.  Review your insurance policy annually and make any necessary changes--renters, too!  When a disaster strikes, you want to know that your coverage will get you back on your feet.

Make a Ready List.  You may not need all of the items in ready-made preparedness kits.  Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget.  Don't forget to keep supplies at work and in your car.  Sample Ready Lists can be found at, use these as inspiration.

Plan Your Purchases.  You can save money by thinking ahead.  Don't buy preparedness items just before a storm when they're expensive and supplies will be in high demand.  Buy items at the end of the season when you can get better deals.

Shop Sales.  Shop at sales and used goods stores.  Buy items throughout the year, instead of all at once, and you won't notice the cost as much.

Make Sure it Keeps.  Store water in a safe containers.  You don't need to buy bottled water, just make sure your water containers are disinfected, airtight and stored in a cool, dark place.

Request a Gift.  We all get things we just don't need.  Suggest preparedness supplies as gifts from your friends and family.  It just might save your life!

Trade a Night Out.  Trade one night out to fund your 72-hour kit.  Taking a family of 4 to the movies can cost upwards of $80.  Just one night of staying in could fund your Ready kit.

The best tip is to start now.  Take small steps toward preparedness and before you know it, you will be ready!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome Fall!

Well, Autumn sure is in a hurry!  From the National Weather Service:
The first organized storm system of the season for NW OR and SW WA arrives tonight. An early fall storm system will bring a drastic change in weather overnight into Wednesday.  The main weather impact will be widespread moderate to heavy rain that will spread inland from the coast tonight.

Rainfall totals by the end of the day Wednesday are expected to be mainly between half an inch to one and a half inches.  This may result in some ponding of water in low lying areas.

Motorists are urged to use caution on the roadways.  Given the long period of dry weather that has preceded this front, residual oil and grease on the road surfaces can become slick.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Food For Your Emergency Kit

Welcome to week three of National Preparedness Month! This week we’re zeroing in on how to build an emergency kit.  One of the most important parts of your emergency kit is food!  When packing for an emergency kit, you need to consider what kinds of food to pack and how much. Thankfully, offers a few tips on how to stock your kit with the food you will need:

·       Have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods; peanut butter, protein bars and ready-to-eat canned fruits and vegetables are a few examples;

·       Choose foods that your family will actually eat so no one goes hungry;

·       Remember to pack foods that do not conflict with anyone’s dietary needs;

·       Avoid foods that will make you thirsty; and

·       Pack salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Want to Help Out Cowlitz Dive Rescue?

Cowlitz County Dive Rescue is participating in the GiveMore 24 fundraising event today.  The funds we raise will be used for member training and the specialized gear our member use, the completion of the trailer we will use for swift water call, and having the dive gear serviced.   Please use the link below to donate.
CCDR is a non-profit, 100% volunteer-based, donation supported organization in SouthWest Washington that works with the law enforcement and fire agencies. We are called to multiple counties.  We also participate in educational activities, such as school assemblies, Kid’s Safety Days, etc.

Please use the link below to donate to our cause.   Any amount is appreciated. 
Cowlitz County Dive Rescue is participating in the GiveMore 24 fundraising event today.  The funds we raise will be used for member training and the specialized gear our member use, the completion of the trailer we will use for swift water call, and having the dive gear serviced.   Please use the link below to donate.

Safeguarding Your Savings



So, you are familiar with the hazards most likely to impact your community, and you have an emergency kit, an evacuation plan, and a family communications plan. You have even taken action to prepare your pets. But what about your finances? Pre-disaster financial planning is essential to help you and your family maintain financial stability in the event of an emergency. You should have a plan to pay your bills and access important records and accounts after a disaster, when mail services may be delayed, original documentation may be damaged or lost, or Internet access may not be available. It is also a good idea to have cash on hand to cover your expenses in case banks are also impacted by disaster. Protecting your financial records also facilitates the process of applying for income-based assistance following a disaster.

Take some time to review a few of these tips on financial preparedness:

·       Place important documents in a safe space. You can use the Safeguarding Your Valuables activity and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help get you started.  These documents provide the basics of how to identify valuables and what low-cost options are available to protect them.

·       Use the FEMA phone application to access disaster preparedness, response and recovery resources including disaster assistance.

·       Enroll in Go Direct to minimize disruptions in receiving any federal benefits you may be entitled.

·       Explore other resources to help you get started including Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit and the Disaster Recovery Log which can help your family get back on their feet after a disaster.

The Financial Literacy Education Commission can help you increase the financial preparedness of your household, workplace, and community. We encourage you to use the tools listed above or visit Start early on being financially prepared!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Safe on My Own

Safe on My Own is a fantastic class through Longview Parks and Rec that teaches 8-12 year olds how to handle being home alone, basic first aid, personal safety, internet safety, sibling care and more.  The next offering is September 20th from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Longview.  For cost and location information, contact Longview Parks and Rec at (360) 442-5400.

Free Disaster Preparedness Presentation

Do you want more information on how to be better prepared for disasters?  Join us on Tuesday, September 16th at 6:30 p.m. at Calvary Chapel, 902 Ash Street in Kelso for a FREE disaster preparedness presentation.  Topics include food and water storage, how to create a kit, what to prepare for and also enter to win disaster supplies!

For more information contact Jennifer at (360) 577-3130 or email

Monday, September 8, 2014

ABC's of School Emergency Planning

It’s September once again and that means children across the country are heading back to school!  Do you know the emergency plan at your child's school? What about the steps the school will take to share pertinent information with you? As a parent, it’s important to understand what will happen after a natural disaster or emergency at your child’s school.

Here are the ABC’s of what you should know about a school’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP):

A.    Always ensure your school has up-to-date evacuation plans, emergency kits and contact sheets. Ensure your school’s nurse has your child’s medical information and medications on hand. Ask your child’s teacher to walk you through their evacuation plan and show you their emergency kits.

B.     Be Prepared. Provide your school with your cell phone number, work phone number, and contact information for your relatives. If your child is old enough to carry a cell phone, make sure they know how to text you or a designated contact in case of an emergency. Also, be prepared to have a conversation with your child about emergencies and hazards.

C.     Coordinate with your child’s teachers and school officials to set a plan in place if there is not one. Guide them to for more resources and encourage the school to perform school wide drills and exercises as part of America’s PrepareAthon!

These ABCs, tools and resources are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your child’s at-school safety. For more information on how to get started visit

Brush up on First Aid/CPR

Learning First Aid/CPR skills is one of the best ways to be prepared! There will be a First Aid/CPR/AED class held on Saturday, Sept 13th from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Longview through the Parks and Rec department. For cost and location information, contact Longview Parks and Rec at 442-5400.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Home Hazard Hunt

To prevent injuries, take the time to secure your space.  Secure items that might fall, fly or slide in an earthquake (see  Imagine if the room was picked up and shaken up and down and side to side and then determine what items would be thrown around.  Periodically review the locations where you spend time--your home, workplace, or school--to look for potential hazards and secure them.

1.  Cabinet doors can fly open allowing contents to crash to the floor; secure them with latches.

2.  Objects such as framed photos, books, lamps, and other items you keep on shelves and tables can become flying hazards.  Secure them with hooks, adhesives, or earthquake putty to keep them in place.  Move heavy or breakable items to lower shelves.

3.  Mirrors, picture frames and other hanging items should be secured to the wall with closed hooks or earthquake putty.  Do not hang heavy objects over beds, sofas or any place you may be seated.

4.  Electronics such as computers, televisions and microwave ovens are heavy and expensive to replace.  Secure them with flexible nylon straps.

5.  Bookcases, filing cabinets, china cabinets and other tall furniture should be anchored to wall studs or masonry (not drywall).  Use flexible straps that allow them to sway without falling to the floor.

6.  Secure your water heater, refrigerator and other major appliances with the appropriate straps screwed into the wall studs or masonry to help keep them from falling over and rupturing gas or electric connections.  Gas appliances should have flexible connectors to absorb the shaking while reducing the risk of fire.

These adhesives, straps, hooks, latches and putties are available at most hardware and home improvement stores as well as online retailers. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's National Preparedness Month!

September is designated as National Disaster Preparedness Month.  Today, take a minute to make sure that you have a communications plan to reconnect with family following a disaster.  Click here for more information:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Power Outage Tips

* Practice energy conservation every day, not just to keep your bill lower, but to avoid rolling blackouts during times of high consumption.

*  Always keep your car's fuel tank at least half full--gas stations use electricity to operate pumps.

*  Know how to manually release your electric garage door.

*  Protect your computer with a surge protector.

*  If the power goes out, check your fuse box or circuit breaker, or contact neighbors to see if the outage is limited to your house.

*  Turn off computers, stereos, televisions and appliances you were using when the power went off.  Leave one light turned on so you know when the power is restored.

*  Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.  Food will remain fresh for up to four hours or more after the power goes off.  If you know a power outage may happen, freeze water in plastic bottles to keep food cool longer. 

*  If the outage is expected to last for several days or more, consider relocating to a shelter or a friend's home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ebola Q & A

From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The current Ebola outbreak is centered on four countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, although there is the potential for further spread to neighboring African countries. Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public. The CDC is surging resources by sending 50 more workers to the area to help bring the outbreak under control.

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms of Ebola include fever and additional symptoms like severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus, although 8-10 days is most common.

How is Ebola transmitted?

The virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the body fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, and other secretions) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects like needles that have been contaminated with the virus, or infected animals.

Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?

No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.

Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?

No. Ebola is not a foodborne illness. It is not a waterborne illness.

Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?

No. A person infected with Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

Are there any cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the U.S.?

No. As of August 15, no confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in the United States, with the exception of two U.S. healthcare workers who were infected with Ebola virus in Liberia were transported to a hospital in the United States. Other patients under investigation in the United States have all tested negative for Ebola.

What is being done to prevent ill passengers in West Africa from getting on a plane?

CDC is assisting with exit screening and communication efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. In addition, airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are screening outbound travelers for Ebola symptoms, including fever, and passengers are required to respond to a health questionnaire. CDC is also surging support in the region by deploying 50 additional workers to help build capacity on the ground.

What is CDC doing in the U.S.?

On the remote possibility that an ill traveler arrives the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease. These include notification to CDC of ill travelers on a plane before arrival, evaluation of ill travelers isolation and transport to a medical facility if needed. CDC, along with Customs & Border Patrol, have also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.

What about ill Americans with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. for treatment? How is CDC protecting the American public?

CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States. These procedures cover the entire process -- from patients leaving their bedside in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases. CDC’s role is to ensure that travel and hospitalization is done to minimize risk of spread of infection and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.

What does the CDC’s Travel Alert Level 3 mean to U.S. travelers?

CDC recommends that U.S. residents avoid nonessential travel to Liberia. If you must travel, such as for humanitarian aid work in response to the outbreak, protect yourself by following CDC’s advice for avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola.
For more information please see this statement from the Department of State.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Don't Go Dry This Summer!


Last week, we talked about how to conserve water outdoors since many communities are experiencing droughts, especially on the West Coast. It is critical that everyone also be mindful of indoor water maintenance and conservation. Did you know the average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year? Droughts affect everyone from farmers to those of us just trying to take a shower. Even small efforts, like being mindful of whether or not your faucet is completely off (dripping faucets alone lose 2,700 gallons of water a year!) make a huge difference.  

There are many things you can do to improve your conservation, from purchasing water-saving technologies to how you do your laundry. Test your knowledge and check out these effective conservation strategies:

·       Choose energy and water-efficient appliances;

·       Check all plumbing for leaks;

·       Avoid letting the water run while you shave or brush your teeth;

·       Only use your dishwasher when it is full and on the “light wash” setting to use less water;

·       Avoid using running water to thaw frozen meats and foods; and

·       Wash your clothes only when you have a full load.

By practicing these tips every day and making them part of your routine, you will save money and preserve this essential resource during drought season.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Columbia Heights Road Closure

Please remember that Columbia Heights Road and Maplewood are both closed for landslide repair and mitigation until the end of August.  For your safety and the safety of repair crews, do not drive around the barricades!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Travel Preparedness

Sure, if there was a disaster here at home, you'd know what to do right?  But what if you're traveling in an unfamiliar place and encounter a disaster that you're not ready for or that you've never dealt with?  Here are some tips from blogger, Thomas Francisco of the National Preparedness Community Blog.

Before you leave
  • Know your destination’s vulnerability to natural disasters (hurricanes, storm surges, earthquakes, flooding, wild fires etc) and be alert.
  • For young children, make an identification card stating the family name, hotel and phone number, including your name and cell phone number. Use a safety pin to attach it to a piece of their clothing. If they wander off, someone will be able to identify them. If you have little children who don’t know your name or your cell phone number, write your cell number on their arm with a permanent marker.  You can get really creative with magic markers for short day trips.
  • Pack a travel-size emergency supply kit with water, snacks, a first-aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, extra batteries and an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers.
  • Pack extra supplies of critical items, such as prescription medications and baby formula, in case your return is delayed by a disaster.
  • Make copies of all essential documents: passports, prescriptions (write down both the generic and the name brand names for your medications), ID’s, insurance cards, etc. Laminate if possible!
  • Let family and friends know your itinerary and how to reach you.
  • Develop a communications plan and make everyone in your traveling group aware of the plan. Make sure everyone has the cell phone numbers of the others in your group. Designate an out-of-area person to contact in case your group is separated during an emergency and unable to place local calls.
  • If traveling internationally, register with the U.S. Department of State through a free online service at The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows travelers to enter information about upcoming trips abroad so that the Department of State can better assist them in an emergency.
During your trip
  • If traveling by car, check the forecast for your entire route before and during your trip. Weather conditions can change drastically, especially if thunderstorms are expected.
  • Bring along a travel weather radio, which will automatically switch to the weather radio station closest to your travel area and will alert you to any hazardous weather.
  • Become familiar with the names of the counties you are traveling through because hazardous weather warnings are issued by county.
  • If you are in a vehicle when a tornado warning has been issued or you see a tornado approaching, seek shelter in a sturdy building until the storm passes. If you're unable to reach a sturdy building, pull over and find a low area, such as a ditch, and take cover there.
  • Familiarize yourself with emergency plans in your hotel or place you are staying as soon as you arrive.
·       Know safe shelter locations and evacuation routes at campground, hotels or resorts. Pack a travel size emergency preparedness kit that includes water, snacks, first aid kit, and hand crank flashlight and radio.
·       Have someone check on or take care of your pets in case severe weather strikes while you are away.
·       Always keep your vehicle’s fuel tank above half full. Power outages or severe weather could keep you from refueling.
·       Have a map and familiarize yourself with the area of destination. Do not rely on cell phones or computers as your only navigation source.
If disaster strikes your vacation spot, you can register on the American Red Cross’ "Safe and Well" website at so family and friends will know that you are safe.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Health Officials Help Keep Fair-Goers Healthy this Fair Season

Cowlitz Health Department Encourages Hand Washing at the County Fair and other Petting Zoo and Animal Exhibits
Contact with animals in public settings, such as petting zoos, fairs and other animal exhibits, provides opportunities for entertainment and education about animals. However each year, illnesses such as E. coli O157:H7 and cryptosporidiosis are associated with contact between people (often children) and animals on exhibit.
People get sick from these germs by swallowing them. Once the germs are on your hands, you can accidentally get them in your mouth while eating, drinking, or during other hand-to-mouth activities such as smoking or thumb sucking. These germs may end up on your hands after contact with animals or the environment they are being kept in, such as pens, hay, and hand railings. Baby animals are especially likely to have these germs because they haven’t had a chance to become immune to them.
"We encourage people to enjoy the County fair and other events that teach us about farming, livestock and other animals. Hand-washing is a simple action to practice on a regular basis to slow the spread of germs between animals and humans," said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Health Officer with the Cowlitz County Health Department. "Our best advice is to tell people to wash their hands frequently to help prevent illness."
Tips to reduce risk of getting sick from animals at a petting zoo or fair:
Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds upon exiting animal areas even if you did not touch an animal.
If no running water and soap is available, hand sanitizer may be used until you are able to wash your hands.
Wash your hands before you eat, drink, smoke, or chew (tobacco, gum, etc.).
Keep food, drinks, baby bottles, pacifiers, and toys out of animal areas.
Park strollers outside of animal areas.

Children younger than 5 years old should be supervised while interacting with the animals and during hand washing. Young children are more likely to get sick because they often touch surfaces contaminated with animal stool and are more likely to put their hands in their mouth.

The Cowlitz County Fair begins today and runs through Sunday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Grass Fire Update

Cars are being shuttled a few at a time through SR 4 between Coal Creek and Mill Creek.  If you have to travel SR 4, be patient and courteous of fire apparatus.

Grass Fire on SR 4

There is a fast moving grass fire in the area east of Stella along SR 4.  The road is closed as of 2:45 p.m. from Coal Creek Road to Mill Creek Road.

Wildfire Safety

From FEMA and Red Cross

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind.  Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.  Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.  Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees.  For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.

Create a 30 to 50 foot safety zone around your home.  Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat.  Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet.  If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice.  Contact your local fire department tor forestry office for additional information.


*  Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs.  Clear all flammable vegetation.
*  Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
*  Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
*  Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
*  Ask the power company to clear branches from powerlines.
*  Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
*  Remove vines from the walls of the home.
*  Mow grass regularly.
*  Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbeque.  Place a screen over the grill, use non-flammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
*  Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site.  Follow local burning regulations.
*  Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak it in water for two days, then bury the cold ashes in soil.
*  Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans.  Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
*  Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home.  Clear combustible material within 20 feet.  Use only UL-approved woodburning devices. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Jackets Float. Do You?

Please take a few minutes (well, 13 minutes actually) to learn the how's and why's of lifejacket safety.  This video shows exactly how lifejackets can save your life.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wildfire Tips

From the American Red Cross
Posted July 18, 2014
The American Red Cross is responding to help people affected by wildfires in Washington and Oregon where thousands of acres are burning and residents are being forced to leave their homes. Red Cross workers are also helping people in Colorado where heavy rains have caused flash flooding.

More than 200 people took refuge overnight in Red Cross shelters in the three states after being ordered to evacuate. In Washington, several fires are burning and the Red Cross is providing shelter, meals for first responders and those affected, and distributing preparedness information on evacuation procedures, Red Cross safety apps and what to do around your property if threatened by fire.

In Colorado, the Red Cross has shelters open and is distributing cleaning supplies to help people impacted by the flooding.

Critical fire conditions are expected to continue in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. The Red Cross has steps residents of woodland settings should take if their community is threatened by these fires.

Living in beautiful woodland settings is very popular. However wildfires can be a real threat to residents of these areas. They often begin unnoticed. Lightning can be a source, as well as careless use of fire in highly wooded areas. These fires can spread rapidly through dry brush and trees. Drought and dry, windy conditions can increase the fire risk.

WILDFIRE SAFETY If your home is being threatened by a wildfire, make sure the entrance to your driveway and house number are clearly marked. Other safety steps include the following:
  • If a fire is burning in the area, be ready to evacuate quickly.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it out in the open facing the direction you need to go to escape.
  • If you have pets, keep them in one room so you know where they area if you have to evacuate.
  • Clean your roof and gutter on a regular basis.
  • Identify and maintain a water source outside your home such as a small pond, well or swimming pool.
  • Have items on hand that can be used as fire tools such as a rake, axe, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood in case one is blocked.
  • Select a place for members of your household to meet away from the house in case you can’t get home or are ordered to evacuate.

  • WILDFIRE APP You can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App for preloaded content that lets users know what they should do before, during and after a wildfire.

    FIRST AID APP Folks should also download the Red Cross First Aid app to have information on hand about how to handle the most common first aid emergencies.

    Both apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.