Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oregon amateur radio operators ready for disasters: An enthusiast who established a Douglas County communication system is recognized | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon

ROSEBURG — Jerry Eifert and his band of amateur radio operators are good guys to have around in a sticky situation. When other communication systems fail, they’re the only ones who can send out an SOS.

“These guys are nuts, and I say that affectionately,” Douglas County’s emergency services director Wayne Stinson said. “They’ve taken an interest in public radio and have gone above and beyond.”

For the past 17 years, Eifert, 65, has overseen about 40 volunteers who are trained to broadcast reports in the event of emergencies such as floods, earthquakes, blizzards or windstorms.

“I love radio,” said Eifert, a retired Veterans Affairs hospital nurse. “I love the fact that I can serve my community.”

News: Last Seven Days | Oregon amateur radio operators ready for disasters: An enthusiast who established a Douglas County communication system is recognized | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Epidemic - the other disaster

Has anyone in your company been sick this year? Have employees had to stay home with sick children? Have employees come to work sick and spread germs to others just because you didn’t have any other way to stay in business?

When we think of disasters, we usually think of flooding or winter storms. The recent flu scare was a bit of a wake up call to some. Sick employees can be a disaster that will cause businesses to suffer, and in this economy most can’t afford to be closed even one day.

Previously we have discussed what small businesses can do to stay in business immediately following a big storm stressing the importance of having a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). If your business does not have a COOP you may find yourself floundering when your employees call in sick.

To make sure your business continues running smoothing with fewer employees, include a section of information in your COOP that addresses this issue. When you write your epidemic COOP, a few questions that need to be answered are:

• Who will be in charge and who will take over if that person is not available?
• Who can work from home?
• Which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating?
• Do you have an emergency fund to get through tough times?
• How can you provide good customer service and meet deadlines with fewer employees?

More information about COOP plans is available on the Internet and Oregon Emergency Management would also be happy to assist. Planning ahead can save you money.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What to do when the power goes out

Loss of electric power is very common in some areas of Oregon especially during winter storms. When the power goes out in the winter there are a few things you need to remember.

If the power is out all over the neighborhood or there are downed power lines, call the utility company to report the danger. Do NOT go near downed power lines and only call 9-1-1 if there is an emergency.

Listen to your battery-powered or car radio for news to find out when power might be restored and to get any other weather related instructions. Do not run your car in a closed garage.

Dress in layers and don’t forget that you lose heat through your hands and the top of your head. Wear gloves and a warm hat.

If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. However, DO NOT USE kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any outdoor type heater inside. Such devices create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion and could kill.

To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off major appliances, computers, TVs, stereos and other electronic equipment at the power source. Leave a light switch in the on position so you'll know when the power is restored.

If you have a generator, do not connect it to your home's power system unless it has been properly installed and disconnects you from the main power grid when it is operating. If you do not disconnect from the power grid, you can be sending electricity back down the lines; not just to your home. That could be deadly for power company workers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don’t forget your pets

Surviving an emergency such as a fire, flood, earthquake or terrorist attack depends on what you plan for your family today. Hopefully you have a family plan and a 72 hour emergency kit. Now, how about Fido?

Believe it or not, more people in the United States have pets, than have children. Many people consider their pets to be part of the family and wouldn’t dream of leaving them behind. I confess I fall into that category.

Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you need to make plans in advance for your pets. Assembling an animal emergency supply kit is one of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected. Include your veterinarian in your planning as they may have good ideas and suggestions specific to your pet.

Your pet kit should contain basically the same items as your family kit. They will need enough food and water for three days, medicines and medical records (in a waterproof plastic bag) and a first aid kit. Injured animals may need antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, and isopropyl alcohol. A pet first aid reference book would be handy too.

Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Your kit should include a backup leash and ID tag. You might also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as micro-chipping.

Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, puppy pads, paper towels, plastic trash bags and chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. Nine parts water to one part bleach is a good disinfectant or you can use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water to purify it for drinking.

Don’t forget favorite toys, treats or bedding in you pet kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress, theirs and yours.

If you become separated from your pets, a photo of you together will help document ownership and help others to identify your pet when found.

Develop a pet care buddy system. Know who will evacuate the pet and where the pet will stay. Some shelters are now accepting pets with their owners or you can find pet friendly hotels outside your immediate area. There are boarding kennels and some veterinary hospitals will take pets during an emergency. Contact these places ahead of time.

Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency. You will need a crate or other pet carrier if it is practical for you to take your animals with you. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

As in all planning, be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort t to follow instructions from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Take time now to get yourself and your pet ready.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Flooding predicted for Oregon this year

Since flooding is so common throughout Oregon, Oregon Emergency Management has decided to help get the word out. Whether flooding is from the flowing waters of state rivers, creeks, and streams, or from all too often coastal storms, being aware of your own flood risk and what you can do about it is very important.

To find out your flood risk, fill in your address on the form on the one-step flood risk profile at All Oregon counties participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can get flood insurance through most insurance agencies; however remember that floods are not covered under regular business, home owners, or renters insurance.

Knowing the reach of the highest flood on record is a good way of knowing what may flood again. Property within 100 feet of moving water such as a stream or river is at risk of flooding, particularly if the moving water is prone to debris jamming that can cause flooding. Coastal Oregon communities are subject to severe storms and erosion causing flooding of low or susceptible areas. More than 25% of all flood claims are from outside the flood zone Property that is flat is likely to flood.

Flood insurance, building smart, and taking protective measures are the best way to avoid the impact of Oregon flooding. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, destroying homes, businesses, and wiping out personal savings should a resident NOT have flood insurance.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Key Insurance Tips for Emergency Preparedness

Salem, Oregon – National Preparedness Month in September is a good time to assemble an emergency supply kit or make a family plan for communicating after a disaster. It is also a great time to take stock of insurance coverage, which is intended to protect you against financial disaster.

“Step one is to simply understand what your insurance policy covers so you can make sound decisions about whether you are adequately protected,” said Teresa Miller, Insurance Division administrator for the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

To see the rest of the news release from the Oregon Insurance Division so to

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taft to pilot strobe lights

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 4:30 pm

PATRICK ALEXANDER The News Guard | 0 comments

The Taft beach access has been chosen as the site of a federally funded pilot program to use strobe lights as a tsunami warning.

Althea Rizzo, geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management said the super-bright blue strobe light is a good addition to an area where wind and wave noise can drown out tsunami sirens.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

75 Years of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)

Yesterday the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) put out a press release detailing the events of their annual leadership conference in Southern Oregon last week. Excerpts from the press release:

...The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) is celebrating its 75thanniversary from September through December 2010. This program of the ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio – has provided “ham radio” emergency communications for agencies such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, countless Emergency Operations Centers and other responders in the worst of times.

In Oregon ARES was honored by Governor Kulongoski for their emergency communication work during the 2007/2008 winter storms. For more information on Oregon ARES please visit

Visit the site for more information about amateur radio and how they provide emergency communications when everything else fails!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why prepare if you’re not going to evacuate?

Evacuation becomes necessary when your home is being made unlivable. However, if you are not going to evacuate, why bother with an emergency kit or family plan?

Even the most minor of disasters can be very inconvenient and being at home does not guarantee you will have everything you need. For example if you are staying home because of a severe winter storm, it is possible that you will not have power and will need a flashlight, you may not have communication and will need a radio to hear what is going on, you may not have food if you can’t get to a store, and you may not have heat and will need blankets or sleeping bags.

If you are staying at home because of a chemical spill or other air borne hazard, you will need plastic sheeting and tape to seal up a room to protect yourself and your family from outside contaminants. If you are sealed in a room, you will need personal sanitation items along with the items listed above and more.

If you have pets, they will need food and water, toys, leash, bed, etc. too.

The point is that in an emergency you don’t want to be looking all over the house for the basic items you need to make your stay more comfortable. You don’t want to have to go out in bad weather to pick up items at the store. You want everything you need to be in one place and ready for use and you want every member of your family to know where it is.

This is National Preparedness Month – don’t wait any longer. Check out and get READY!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Community Preparedness: The Facts

When I ask people if they are prepared for an emergency, I hear something like “we’ve got extra food in the cupboards and there’s a flashlight somewhere. We could get it all together if we needed to.” Nothing is said about a family plan or other emergency preparations.

I’m glad these people have supplies but what they don’t seem to understand is that there may not be time to “get it all together”. Recent research conducted by FEMA on preparedness showed forty percent of survey respondents did not have household plans, 80 percent had not conducted home evacuation drills, and nearly 60 percent did not know their community’s evacuation routes.

Nearly 20 percent reported having a disability that would affect their capacity to respond to an emergency situation, but shockingly only one out of four of them had made arrangements specific to their disability to help them respond safely in the event of an emergency. Go to this website for details -

In Oregon, I have found that approximately 1 out of 10 people I talk to have an emergency kit put together and stored where family members can get to it. And we haven’t even covered the necessity of preparing for our pets.

Our nation’s emergency responders do an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they can’t do it alone. For example, Marion County has 826 firefighters. 252 are paid and 574 are volunteers. That’s 826 firefighters for 314,606 people. It is our responsibility to be prepared and to prepare our families – in doing so; we contribute to the safety and security of the state and the nation as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What if you threw a Preparedness Event and no one came?

As the U.S. kicks off National Preparedness Month today, I thought I would reprint a letter to the editor from a newspaper in Canada during that nation’s Emergency Preparedness Week. I think anyone involved in public preparedness will empathize with the challenge of engaging the public on this issue. The letter:

To the editor:

I guess everyone in Scugog Township is prepared for any emergency that may arise.

They must be, because at the end of Emergency Preparedness Week, on Saturday May 8, the No. 1 fire hall in Port Perry was open to everyone to learn about numerous ways to prepare for emergencies, and no one came.

I know my wife and I were not the only ones disappointed with the turnout. Five speakers were lined up to discuss anything and everything needed to prepare for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

Some of the emergency situations noted in the past that have affected residents of Scugog were H1N1, increasing windstorms and severe summer weather numerous times, resulting in downed trees and other damage as well as the blackout of 2003.

Do you remember what you and your family went through during that blackout? Were you prepared? It could happen again. Will you be ready? Have you ever considered what could happen if flooding were to occur here? Think about broken dams, torrential rain and backed-up storm drains and septics.

At the seminar, tables were set up with giveaway information and supplies. Volunteers were on hand to inform and assist with information and to answer questions. Enbridge set up and prepared hot dogs, hamburgers and pop for visitors.

We want to thank the chief, the mayor and councillors and all the volunteers that were on hand for this event.

Bruno and Darlene Gauweiler, Caesarea

I am also posting the letter for those organizing events this month to show that no matter how difficult things are to do, it always could be worse! I wish everyone the best — and great attendance — with all their activities during Preparedness Month.