The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

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.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Avoid Bats This Summer!

    From the Cowlitz County Department of Health & Human Services
    July 17, 2014
    Avoid Possible Exposure to Rabies by Avoiding Bats this Summer
    Cowlitz Health Department Reminds Public to Avoid Human Contact with Bats
    Bats are becoming more active with warmer weather, which means the possibility of human contact with bats is increasing. Bats play an important role in balance of nature and should not be harmed or killed needlessly. They eat insects, helping control pests; however bats can carry disease, including rabies, so it is important to avoid human contact with bats. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Washington State. Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system and it is almost always fatal.
    People can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat, but bats have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see.
    If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat in your home and are not sure if you were exposed, for example – you wake up and find a bat in your bedroom, do not release the bat before calling the Cowlitz County Health Department to help determine if you could have been possibly exposed, and if testing of the bat is needed.
    Safety Tips:
    Do not touch wild animals, including bats.
    Teach your children never to touch or handle bats, even dead ones. Have your children tell an adult if they find a bat at home, at school, or with a pet.
    Keep bats out of your living space by "bat proofing" your home; including screening windows and doors if left open, closing chimney dampers when not in use, and sealing any gaps in doors.
    Pets may get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Protect them by getting them vaccinated routinely. Dogs, cats, and ferrets are now required to be vaccinated in Washington State. Consult your veterinarian for vaccine recommendations.

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue Hiring

    Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue (701 Vine Street in Kelso) is hiring for part-time fire fighters.  Click here for more information or call (360) 575-6280.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    West Nile Virus

    Summertime means more outdoor activities and with those activities; mosquito bites. Mosquito bites can be more than just itchy and annoying; they can cause you to become sick. Mosquitos can carry West Nile virus (WNV). West Nile virus can be a serious, even fatal, illness. It can affect people, horses, certain types of birds, and other animals. In Washington, the first cases of people becoming ill from West Nile virus were reported in 2006 and Washington State Department of Health announced this week that mosquito samples in Franklin County have tested positive for West Nile virus. The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites.

    Reduce Mosquito Bites

    Make sure windows and doors are "bug tight." Repair or replace screens.

    Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, if possible, when mosquitoes are the most active.

    Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods, or if you work outdoors on a regular basis.

    Use mosquito repellent when necessary. Read the label and carefully follow instructions. Take special care when using repellent on children.

    Don't Give Mosquitoes a Home
    Empty anything that holds standing water – old tires, buckets, plastic covers, and toys.

    Change water in your birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs at least twice week.

    Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.

    Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.

    In addition, West Nile virus infects certain wild birds. Particular birds – crows, jays, ravens, magpies, hawks and owls – tend to become sick and die. Increasing numbers of dead birds may be an indication of West Nile virus in your community. You can help by reporting dead crows and other birds by calling the Cowlitz County Health Department, 360-414-5599, or using the Washington State online dead bird reporting form . To report mosquito concerns, contact the Cowlitz Mosquito Control District hotline at 360-425-5658.

    Seattle to Portland Bike Ride is this weekend!

    The Seattle to Portland (STP) Bike Ride is this weekend! Riders will cross through Cowlitz County via Westside Hwy to First Ave in Kelso and head over the Lewis & Clark Bridge on both the 12th and 13th. Please, please be patient, be courteous and be safe. Remember, it's only one weekend a year and these riders are doing something amazing and difficult!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    First Aid for Hypothermia Victims

    From Washington State Parks Boating Program:

    1.  Make sure the victim has an open airway and is able to breathe.  Then, check for respiration and pulse.  Respiration may be slow and shallow and the pulse may be very weak.  So check these vital signs very carefully.  If there is no pulse or respiration, CPR must be started immediately.

    2.  Prevent further heat loss:
         a.  Gently move the victim to shelter and warmth as rapidly as possible.
         b.  Gently remove all wet clothing, cut it away if necessary.  The small amount of heat energy        the victim has left must not be expended on warming and drying wet clothing.
         c.  Wrap the victim in blankets or a sleeping bag.  If available, place warm water bottles or other gentle sources of heat under the blanket on the victim's neck, groin, and on the sides of the chest.

    3.  Transport the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.  Only a physician should determine when a patient should be released.  Incorrect treatment of hypothermia victims may induce a condition known as After-Drop.  After-Drop is a continued fall in the victim's core temperature even after they have been rescued.  This is caused by improper rewarming, allowing cold, stagnant blood from the extremities to return to the core of the body.  When this cold blood returns to the core of the body it may drop core temperature below a level that will sustain life.  For the same reason, hypothermia patients must be handled gently and should not be allowed to walk.

    Do Not:
    1.  Place an unconscious victim in a bathtub.
    2.  Give a victim anything to drink, including hot liquids or alcohol.
    3.  Rub the victims skin

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    All About Hypothermia

    From Washington State Parks Boating Program:

    Hypothermia is a serious threat to Northwest boaters, and it takes the lives of several Washingtonians every year.  Our marine waters and most of the state's lakes and streams remain cold throughout the year, so hypothermia is a danger that knows no season.  A boater who ends up in the water may begin falling victim to hypothermia in a matter of only a few minutes, so quick action is often the key to survival.   Understanding and avoiding hypothermia can mean the difference between being alive or dead when help arrives.

    What is hypothermia?  Hypothermia is subnormal temperature within the central body.  When a person is immersed in cold water, the skin and nearby tissues cool very fast.  However, it may take 10 to 15 minutes before the temperature of the heart and brain start to drop. 

    When the core temperature drops below 90 degrees serious complications begin to develop.  Death may occur at about 80 degrees, however, a person may drown at a higher temperature due to loss of consciousness or inability to use the arms and legs.

    How can I avoid hypothermia?  Because most boaters who die in water-related accidents had no intention of going into the water, the obvious answer is to avoid those behaviors that cause accidental immersion:

    *  Do not stand or move around in a small boat
    *  Do not overload your boat or distribute the load unevenly
    *  Do not decelerate suddenly, allowing the stern wake to overtake and swamp the boat by washing over the transform
    *  Always wear a lifejacket on the water

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Burn Ban Begins July 15th

    Outdoor burning ban from Tuesday, July 15, through Sept. 30

    From Clark County Fire Marshal's Office:

    Vancouver, WA– As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 15, all land clearing and residential burning in Clark County will be restricted until further notice.

    Also, the Fire Marshal is rescinding all burning permits issued prior to the ban. Permits can be reissued or extended when the ban is lifted. The burning restrictions do not apply to federally managed lands.

    In an effort to have predictable and consistent burn bans, Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties jointly implement a policy to ban outdoor burning from July 15 through Sept. 30 each year. Designating this period was based on years of information about fuel conditions. However, in extreme fire hazard conditions, a ban can begin sooner or end later.

    “We want the public to know about the annual burn ban dates so they can plan to burn during safer times of the year,” said Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway. “After Sept. 30, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office to be sure the ban has been lifted before burning.”

    Recreational campfires on forest lands are allowed only if built in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds, such as commercial campgrounds and local, county and state parks. On private land, recreational fires are permitted when built according to the following regulations:                                        

    Recreational fires must be in a metal-, stone- or masonry-lined fire pit such as those in improved campgrounds or available at home and garden stores.

    ·         Size may not exceed 3 feet in diameter by 2 feet in height.

    ·         Fires must be at least 25 feet from a structure or other combustible material and have at least 20 feet of clearance from overhead fuels such as tree limbs, patio covers or carports.

    ·         Fires must be attended at all times by a responsible person at least 16 years old with the ability and tools to extinguish the fire. Tools include a shovel and either five gallons of water or a connected and charged water hose.

    ·         Portable outdoor fireplaces, also known as patio fireplaces, designed to burn solid fuel (wood) should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material and must always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

    ·         Completely extinguish recreational fires by covering them with water or moist soil and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.


    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Water Safety Fast Fact

    It only takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child to drown.  Almost 85% of those who drown were not wearing a life jacket.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Summertime Safety

    It's summertime and that means fun in the sun and cooling off in our area's beautiful rivers and lakes. After enduring months of rain and cold, of course the Washingtonian has a ravenous, pent-up need for sunshine! Please remember that our rivers are swift and very cold, no matter what the outside temperature.

    Swimming can be a great way to have fun while getting full body exercise. However, each year between 4,000 and 6,000 people drown in the United States. It is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 15 to 44 years old. Shockingly, it is believed that two-thirds of the people who drown are believed to never have had any intention of being in the water. Since tragic water accidents happen quickly, we have compiled the following information to help everyone have a safe and fun summer.

    By keeping these few simple things in mind, you can make your experience in the water much safer.

    *Learn to swim before you go into the water. Sounds silly, but many people think it will come naturally, and it really doesn’t.
    *Swim near a lifeguard so help is available if you need it
    *Never swim alone
    *Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present
    *Don't rely on flotation devices, such as rafts, you may lose them in the water
    *Alcohol and swimming don't mix
    *Protect your head, neck, and spine by jumping feet first into unfamiliar waters
    *As soon as you believe that you may be in trouble, call or wave for help
    *Follow regulations and lifeguard directions
    *Swim parallel to shore if you wish to swim long distances

    Swimming and playing near water are favorite summer time activities of children everywhere. Parents and guardians need to pay extra attention and make sure they protect little ones from the dangers that water presents. Here are some points to consider about water safety for children.

    *Never leave a child alone near water. Accidents happen in seconds, so if you have to leave, take your child with you.
    *Watch out for neighborhood pools. Whether it is your own or your neighbors, toys that are left around the pool can attract children to the water.
    *If you have a pool, make sure you surround it by a fence that is tall enough that children cannot climb over, and with a gate that locks.
    *Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. Lessons won't make your child "drown-proof," but they will increase their safety and prepare them for a lifetime of fun in the water.
    *Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.
    *Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
    *Parents should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Heat tips

    During the summer, one is more at risk to heat related injuries such as sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke (sun stroke). Learn the symptoms and know how to give first aid.  
        • Some groups are more at-risk to heat disorders, such as children and aging adults. Be sure to keep careful watch of their activities and reaction to the heat.
        • Always protect small children from the sun due to sensitive skin.
        • Be sure your pets have access to shade and cold, clean water.