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.