The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Power's Out Checklist

So, yesterday's list was power outage prep.  Today we have "Power's Out Checklist."

__ Are all the pots and pans off the stove?  Are the stove range and oven turned off?

__ If you have a space heater, make sure it's at least 3 feet away from furniture or other flammable objects.  Keep it unplugged when not in use.

__ In cold weather, maximize heat coming from the sun.  Open shades, curtains or louvers so that sun may heat the glass.  Close them when the sun is no longer shining directly to hold in the heat.  In hot weather, minimize heat by closing the shades, curtains, and louvers. 

__ Unplug a few appliances (toaster, microwave, TV, etc) and turn off lights that were on so you don't overload the circuits when power is restored.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Volunteers Are Awesome!

From Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson

 Kelso, WA-“I say this every chance I get, but we have an incredibly “giving” community. Our emergency services volunteers are as good as they come.” Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson.

 Emergency Services volunteers here in Cowlitz County are some of the most giving, dedicated people anywhere. They join for a variety of reasons, but mostly, it’s the satisfaction of doing something that makes a positive difference in someone’s life. Whether it’s a search for a lost person, a diver responding to a water-related emergency, or a reserve deputy directing traffic around a crash; it’s all done on their own time, and in many cases, their own dime.

During the five days of the February 2014 snowstorm, three volunteer members of the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association, working through the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office-Department of Emergency Management, logged 138 volunteer hours shuttling patients and nursing staff to and from dialysis treatment facilities in their personal four-wheel-drive vehicles. Collectively, they logged 728 miles traveling through the ice and snow to get these folks to and from this life-saving necessity. That breaks down to:

1.     Five mission days

2.     27 mission hours per day (for three personnel)

3.     9 hours per person, per mission day

4.     145 miles driven in treacherous conditions per mission day

Figured even as low as Washington’s minimum wage of $9.32, this was a savings of $1,286.16 to the taxpayer, not including their personal fuel and vehicle use. Yet, these volunteers didn’t ask for reimbursement, they didn’t expect to be “recognized” in any way, they just did what had to be done. That’s what volunteer service is about.

 All across Cowlitz County there were hundreds of examples of people helping people. Common sights included shoveling snow off of a neighbor’s driveway, clearing sidewalks, people stopping their cars, getting out of their own warm, dry car in the cold and snow to help push another person’s vehicle to a safe location or hooking a tow-strap from their own car to pull someone else’s from wherever it was stuck.

“This is the heart of the volunteer here in Cowlitz County. We’re all so blessed to have them.” Sheriff Nelson said.

Power Outage Prep Checklist

We've had some windy days and nights lately!  Here is a checklist from FEMA to be ready for a power outage:

__  Locate and label utility shutoff.

__ Post instructions next to fuse box or circuit breaker.

__ Are there enough flashlights on hand?  At least one for each person in the house?  Are the batteries working?  (Tip:  Store batteries in the refrigerator for longer life).

__ Do not use candles, they are a fire hazard.

__ Keep ready-to-eat meals on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.

__ Freeze water in plastic water bottles or old milk containers, leaving about an inch at the top for frozen water to expand.  When placed in a refrigerator and freezer, they will keep food cold for several hours.

__Know where to get dry ice to keep food cold as necessary.

__ Are there cordless phones that need electricity?  If so, use a standard, corded telephone or cell phone as an alternative.

__ Make sure you have a battery-operated radio to get updates on information, shelters, etc.

__ Is there an alternate heating source?  Make sure it is properly vented and in good working order.  Make sure all chimneys are clean and all flues are operational.  Do you have enough wood, pellets, or heating fuel?

__ If heating system involves an electronic ignition or fan, know who to call for service/restarting assistance. 

__ If there is an electric garage door opener, where is the manual release?  Post instructions on how to use it and practice with your family.

__When possible, keep car gas tanks at least half full.  Gas stations need electricity to power the pumps. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Power of One


Power of One

Picture this—You’re stranded on the highway for hours, in the cold, with little food and no heat and your car just ran out of gas. The nearest restroom is at least three miles away and you don’t know when you’ll be in the comfort of your home again. This was the case for many metro Atlanta residents during a winter storm that recently hit the south. Out of this tragedy, however, came triumph - people took action and helped each other overcome this crisis.

There were countless stories of people opening their homes to strangers, offering food to the hungry, walking to get medication for those in need and more. Many of these citizen rescue operations were coordinated on the Facebook page, “Snowed Out Atlanta.” Within a few hours this page quickly gained 50,000 followers who not only reached out to get help, but to serve their neighbors. The woman who started this page, Michelle Sollicito, is a mother, wife and most of all an everyday community member who wanted to help. She took action and stepped up to be a community ambassador. 
You can also be a community ambassador for preparedness. Use your social media channels, email or word-of-mouth to shareactions people can do now to get prepared!

1.       Visit and familiarize yourself with steps to take before, during and after every natural disaster.

2.       Practice and implement – don’t just educate yourself on preparedness actions; practice them with family, friends and coworkers. Why wait to build an emergency kit?—do it today!

3.       Download the FEMA mobile application. It contains disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, emergency meeting location information and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.

Flood Watch Ended

The National Weather Service Flood Watch for Cowlitz County rivers and streams has ended.  While there may still be street flooding as storm drains struggle to keep up, the Cowlitz River at Kelso and Castle Rock will crest below flood stage this afternoon.

Smaller rivers and creeks will run high, but as rains dwindle this afternoon, should begin to go down. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day is Upon Us

Looking for a unique way to tell your sweetie you care this Valentine's Day?  How about a well-stocked car emergency kit!  Make sure the kit has everything your honey needs in case they get stuck on the side of the road or in the woods.  Here is a link for a really thorough list:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More timely advice from Longview Police

Police remind drivers to not leave vehicles unattended while warming them up in cold weather

Longview Police Department is issuing another reminder for drivers to not leave their vehicles unattended when warming them up during freezing temperatures.

In mid-December, police responded to three reports of vehicles being stolen on the same day when people left the engines running and then left their vehicles unattended for a few minutes.

“With this week’s below freezing temperatures, it’s tempting to start your vehicle and let it warm up while you’re inside your home away from the cold,” said LPD community service officer Cindy Lopez Werth. “But doing that increases the chances your vehicle will be stolen”

Werth said she has heard some people say that they turn on their engines, then lock their vehicles and take their spare key inside their homes. “Some people think that locking their vehicles with the engine running is smart, but a determined thief will not hesitate to bust out a window to steal a car,” she said.

If a vehicle is stolen, the victim should have the license plate number and description available when calling police. If one cannot remember the license plate number, check vehicle insurance paperwork. If it doesn’t have the license plate number, look for the vehicle identification number (VIN). The police dispatcher can determine the license plate number based on the VIN.

The non-emergency dispatch number, which operates 24-7, is 577-3098. Call 911 for emergencies and in progress crimes.


Winter Driving Tips from Longview Police Department

From LPD

Police urge drivers to stay off roads if possible


Snow is beautiful, but it can sometime bring an ugly mess if it melts and later freezes. Combine that with drivers not used to driving in winter weather conditions and it’s a recipe for disaster.


“The best advice we can give is to stay off the roads if at all possible because the fewer vehicles we have out there, the better,” said LPD Patrol Captain Deborah Johnson.


Johnson said if you absolutely must drive, it’s best to drive slower than usual and to keep a safe distance from other vehicles. “Also, don’t slam on your brakes to slow down or stop because this could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and crash it,” Johnson said.


The captain also urged parents to tell their children to not play in the snow in the streets.


The Weather Channel website offered the following winter weather driving safety tips.

Driving safely on icy roads

1.    Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

2.    Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

3.    Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

4.    Keep your lights and windshield clean.

5.    Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

6.    Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

7.    Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

8.    Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

9.    Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid...

1.    Take your foot off the accelerator.

2.    Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.

3.    If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.

4.    If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.

5.    If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse, which is normal.

 If your front wheels skid...

1.    Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.

2.    As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck...

1.      Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.

2.      Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

3.      Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.

4.      Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.

5.      Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.

6.      Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first because doing so can damage the transmission on some vehicles.)  Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.


Winter Blast!

Schools are closing early, I-5 is a mess and roads all around the county are slick.  Stay home if you can or take it slow and easy if you can't.