The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

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.