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Disaster Preparedness Month, night 11: Got pets? Get ’em ready

thecats.jpgIf disaster hits and you have to get out in a hurry, you’re going to gather your loved ones. And “loved ones” means pets too. So on this 11th night of our Disaster Preparedness Month reports, we look at what you need to know to protect them too. The city has a flyer you can check out here; among the first tips is one we hadn’t heard before:

During an earthquake: If the ground starts shaking, do not try to hold onto your pet during the shaking. Animals will instinctively protect themselves and hide where they are safe.

From the must-bookmark West Seattle Be Prepared site, there’s a list of pet-related links on this page. One of those links takes you to this page from the Seattle Humane Society, which reminds you to put a sticker on your home to let rescuers know about any pets that normally are inside. (Also from that page, we learned that the Humane Society’s big yellow MaxMobile, best known for bringing adoptable pets to mobile adopt-a-thons around the city, is also used for pet rescue/evacuation situations!) And three more tips provided by West Seattle Be Prepared co-webmaster Karen Berge:

For dogs, general obedience classes before a disaster could be very helpful. A dog with some training will (or should) be looking for direction from the “leader of the pack”, especially in unfamiliar situation. Some basic commands will help with keeping pets calm.

· An animal that is hurt or scared may bite or lash out, even at loved ones; so it’s helpful to include a muzzle or some soft cloth strips that can be used to prevent bites/scratches. Dogs & cats that typically get along, may need to be separated from each other if they are really stressed out.

· People that keep aquariums probably know this already, but they should look for alternative ways to keep their tank temperatures from dropping below safe levels during a lengthy power outage. One tip is that hot water tanks retain heat for quite awhile & they can be a source of warm water. It’s also helpful to immediately take steps to prevent heat loss.

Your editor here can speak to the last point from personal experience – after the December 2006 windstorm, our home was out of power for 4 days, and that claimed the life of a large, cherished fish (similar to the one at left) who had outlasted many tankmates. (We wrote about the loss here.) So whether you have fish, dogs, cats, turtles, whatever – don’t make the mistake we did; be prepared.

Our nightly reminders: Joined the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook yet? Got your nearest Emergency Communication Hub memorized yet? Taken the city’s 3 to Get Ready Challenge (WSB sponsor) yet?

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 10: Communications Academy

April 10, 2010 11:56 pm
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 |   Preparedness | Safety | West Seattle news

Photo and story by Cindi Barker, local preparedness volunteer/organizer

The WSB Disaster Preparedness Month series so far has been focused on highlighting things you can do to prepare yourself for an emergency, and what our community has been doing as well. But today and tomorrow, there is an event held here in West Seattle that serves as a reminder of the many volunteers and broader organizations that are part of emergency preparedness.

The multi-state Communications Academy is being held this weekend at South Seattle Community College. These volunteer HAM radio operators spend their weekend acquiring new skills and better preparing themselves to respond in a disaster. This skill is seeing a resurgence of interest; in the past year, more than 640 new HAMs were licensed in Western Washington, including a good number of youth.

If you (or your teenager) have an interest in HAM radio here are a couple of ways to get involved:

*The national organization supporting HAM radio is ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League):

*Locally, the most active service branch is the Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS), part of a larger grouping called ARES/RACES. This group provides HAM radio support in the Seattle Emergency Operations Center; information at

*HAMs also support the Western Washington Medical Services group,

Even more locally, there’s been talk of revitalizing the West Seattle HAM Radio Club; we’ll report more when that happens.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Cindi for the report! Our nightly reminders: Join the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook if you haven’t already; browse the West Seattle Be Prepared website make sure everyone in your family knows about your nearest Emergency Communication Hub; and take the city’s 3 to Get Ready Challenge (WSB sponsor) – 3 preparedness steps, to share with 3 people (with prizes!).

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 9: Helping kids understand

April 9, 2010 11:56 pm
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 |   Preparedness | Safety | West Seattle news

Each and every one of the 30 nights of April, we are marking Disaster Preparedness Month with a suggestion of something you can do – in some cases a simple step, maybe just something to read – to achieve another bit of progress toward being prepared, albeit for things we hope never will happen. You can catch up with the archive by going here – each of our nightly items is tagged for the WSB Preparedness archive. Tonight, it’s about the youngest members of the family – how do you bring kids into the preparedness loop without scaring them? Both FEMA and have kids’ sections – here’s FEMA For Kids, including the “Kids to Kids” section with artwork and letters created by students (hurricanes, tornadoes and 9/11 are represented), and then there’s the slightly higher-tech Ready Kids, starring a family of mountain lions. And for parents, teachers and others who live/work with kids, here are resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That page, in turn, points to this one that reminds parents they should ask their children’s care providers what plan they have in place, should disaster strike while the kids are in child care – that “check-in number” we talked about back on Night 3 also applies here – if you cannot directly reach the provider, she/he may be able to get word to the out-of-area contact. One last note – remember that as noted on Night 6, a statewide earthquake drill is coming up April 21 – might be a good idea to make a note to talk to your child(ren) before and after. Now, our nightly reminders: Join the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook if you haven’t already; set aside some time to browse the West Seattle Be Prepared website and know your nearest Emergency Communication Hub; and check in with the city’s 3 to Get Ready Challenge (WSB sponsor) – where you can register for fun freebies (yes, preparedness can be fun).

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 8: The myths

April 8, 2010 11:56 pm
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 |   Preparedness | Safety | West Seattle news

As we roll on with nightly Disaster Preparedness Month spotlights – tonight it’s about unlearning, instead of learning. We found an expert who’s written about the “5 Myths of Earthquake Survival.” Worth a look – they include helpful advice on a thing or two you SHOULD do, as well as what you should NOT do (#4, regarding how to signal to rescuers that you’re trapped, is a point we’d never heard before). Again, read the list here. Now, the nightly reminders: Browse and bookmark the West Seattle Be Prepared website, and make sure you know your Hub by heart; join the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook to directly connect with other local folks working to be sure they’re ready; and jump into the “3 To Get Ready” city promotion (which is advertising on WSB this month to help make sure the word gets out) – there are freebies to be had, and simple steps to be taken. Anything you’ve done regarding preparedness that you’re particularly proud of, no matter how small or how big? Let us know about it so we can share your story!

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 7: Hardhat under your bed

April is Disaster Preparedness Month, and with the help of West Seattle preparedness volunteers/advocates, we are gathering and sharing information every night so that by the time we get to May, you are READY FOR ANYTHING. Tonight: Another dose of practical advice – what to have under your bed in case disaster (particularly a big quake) strikes in the middle of the night. Excerpted from government sources, provided by the folks behind West Seattle Be Prepared:

When disaster strikes, it may be difficult to think as rationally and as quickly as you would like. The more procedures you have in place, and the easier they are to remember and implement, the more effective and efficient will be your response. We recommend that you keep these basic response supplies under the bed. That way, day or night, you’ll know where to go to get the essentials.

Store these items under the bed
• sturdy shoes – to protect your feet from broken glass, each member of the family should have shoes under their bed.
• work gloves, preferably leather – to protect your hands from broken glass
• hardhat – to protect you from falling objects like chimney bricks, and downed trees and branches
• flashlight & light sticks – essential for a nighttime response
• an OK / Help card, available from your local office of Emergency Management, or one that you prepare yourself.
• a few bandaids – to hang the OK / Help card in the window or on the front door

If you are an all-or-nothing personality type like we are – just remind yourself, you don’t have to get ALL of those items before you can store ANY of them – the shoes, for starters, you can do right now (unless you’re currently wearing the ones you’re thinking of). The others, get them as you can, and stow them. Meantime, our nightly reminders: Sign up for the 3 To Get Ready (WSB sponsor) freebies; know your Emergency Communication Hub; join the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook. (Our archive of nightly preparedness features is here.)

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 6: Dates to remember

Our goal for April is a bite-size chunk of Disaster Preparedness Month information every night (all archived here) – and this time, it’s all about dates: A few to remember, for this month. First and foremost, if you’d like some hands-on instruction in emergency preparedness, the Fauntleroy Community Association, Fauntleroy Church and Fauntleroy YMCA (WSB sponsor) are co-sponsoring a workshop next Monday night (April 12), 7 pm at the church Fellowship Hall (9140 Fauntleroy SW). Here’s the event listing on Facebook. Next official opportunity after that is at Delridge Library on June 8, 6:30 pm, when SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare) will present a preparedness class. The city also has an Earthquake Retrofitting workshop in West Seattle in June – 11 am June 1 at the West Seattle (Admiral) Library. And – jumping back to this month – one more date for your calendar: April 21, 9:45 am, it’s a statewide earthquake-preparedness drill. Whether you’ll be at home, work or school at that moment, this state webpage has info on what to do to be part of the drill. Got those dates? Great! Also remember the 3 To Get Ready” campaign, which we introduced last night, and join the West Seattle Be Prepared group on Facebook.

Disaster Preparedness Month, night five: “3 to Get Ready”

Each night in April, we’re marking Disaster Preparedness Month with info on one more step you can take to increase your chances of getting yourself and your family through the unthinkable – just in case. Tonight, it’s actually 3 steps, but we’ve mentioned two of them already: It’s the City of Seattle’s “3 to Get Ready” Preparedness Challenge, during which the city Office of Emergency Management is sponsoring WSB and other media outlets to promote a campaign to take those 3 steps and get 3 people you know to do the same thing. Step 1Store emergency water. Step 2 (we highlighted this Saturday night) – Set up an out-of-area phone contact. Step 3 (mentioned here Sunday night) – “Drop, cover, hold” in case of earthquake. Got all those? Follow the link on this city page to sign up for a special prize package between now and May 7. We’ll mention it again as the month rolls on – and you can find it again by looking for the “3 to Get Ready” ad in the WSB sidebar. ALSO: For WSB, we’d love to share preparedness pix, to inspire others – For starters, once you have your water stored, send us a pic of yourself/your family/any or all of the above with the big container(s)! (Here’s how to get us that pic.) Final note – our nightly reminders: Know your Hub; and join The Group!

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 4: In case of earthquake

On this 4th night of Disaster Preparedness Month, yet another big quake reminds us that we’re in Quake Country too: The 7.2 quake that rocked northern Mexico and Southern California (Twitpic at left). You’ve heard a lot about what you should do to prepare for quakes – and we’ll take a closer look at some of those specifics later in the month – but you don’t always hear a lot about “what to do WHEN one hits.” OK, maybe you’ve heard “go stand in a doorway” – what if there’s not one nearby? And what if you’re outside, or in a car? FEMA has a short four-part list of tips – take two minutes and read it right now. (You can even scroll down and take a pop quiz afterward.) Next step, the one we’re going to mention every one of this month’s 30 nights: Know your nearest Emergency Communication Hub. If a major quake (or other type of disaster) takes out communication/utility infrastructure, that’s where you’d go to find out what’s going on and how to get help. (The Hubs map is part of the West Seattle Be Prepared website, the subject of our DPM Night 1 advice; on Night 2, the important docs to store safely; on Night 3, picking an out-of-state relative/friend whose number is carried by everyone in your family, for check-in purposes.) Any particular preparedness topic you feel confused/under-informed about? Just mention it so we can be sure to hit it as the month goes on – local volunteers are plugged into an amazing wealth of information and resources. Oh, and join the West Seattle Be Prepared Facebook group too – you’ll find an interesting quake-info link there, just a few updates down the page!)

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 3: Pick a number

April 3, 2010 11:56 pm
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 |   Preparedness | Safety | West Seattle news

Every night in April, in honor of Disaster Preparedness Month, we’re spotlighting something you can do to be ready in case of the unthinkable – simple steps, in many cases. And this one really is simple: Since it’s Easter and Passover, you may well have been seeing, or at least talking to, more of your out-of-the-area family and friends than usual. And they are the key to this hint: In case of a localized disaster – like an earthquake – you may be able to reach someone outside the area more easily than someone close by, so it’s important to pick a distant relative/friend who will agree to be your check-in point, then make sure everyone in your family has their phone number handy – so you can at least coordinate messages through that person, if you can get a call through to another area but not someplace locally. Put this person in your cell speed-dial, and in case land lines work but mobiles don’t, have their number in your wallet or something else you carry with you. Meantime, an option for checking in locally is to arrange to rendezvous at your nearest Emergency Communication Hub – there are now nine in West Seattle, chosen as part of a volunteer coordination/planning effort that’s been in the works more than two years, and it’s vital to know which one to go to if ALL lines of communication are down and you need to get information and/or help. They’re all on this map, which is part of the thorough West Seattle Be Prepared website, which was the subject of our Disaster Preparedness Month Night 1 report, while “getting important documents together and putting them in a safe place” was the topic for DPM Night 2.

Disaster Preparedness Month, night 2: Docs in the freezer?

All month long, we’re planning a nightly spotlight on Disaster Preparedness Month, and steps you can take – not just the same old ones you’ve heard over and over again and maybe even tuned out – to be sure you have the best chance at “getting through it” should something big happen. Tonight, expert advice forwarded by the local folks behind the Emergency Communication Hubs around West Seattle – at the heart of this excellent web resource – something particularly timely if you are still working on your taxes and have some of these docs out already: The documents you need to compile and set aside ahead of time, so you wouldn’t lose precious time in recovery mode.

After a major disaster, you may need financial assistance and will want to document any property loss for insurance and income tax purposes. Having ready access to the documents necessary for completing application forms, as well as those which could be difficult to replace, will help reduce delay and frustration.

At A Minimum:
1. Gather property insurance papers (home, auto, boat, etc.) and make copies.
2. Gather health insurance papers (medical provider, dental provider, life, extended disability, etc.) and make copies.
3. Gather financial papers (bank, investment, retirement, etc.) and make copies.
4. Gather wills, powers of attorney, and estate papers and make copies.
5. Take photos or videos of all valuables as documentation for insurance claims.

• Store these copies and photos in a safe deposit box, or in a ziplock bag in your freezer (you may want to disguise these documents by putting them in a clean box like a frozen pizza box).

The latter advice is frequently offered by police, too, in case you become a theft/burglary victim. Even if you can’t do all this right now, find a few of the documents that are handy and start – get those to the safe-deposit box or freezer – add to it as you are able. Meantime, our nightly spotlights continue Saturday night; if you missed Night 1 on Thursday, it was simple advice – Know your hub, which you can do by browsing the West Seattle Be Prepared website (and joining its Facebook group too – check out the quake info posted today).

Disaster Preparedness Month: Get ready to … get ready

April 1, 2010 11:58 pm
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 |   Preparedness | Safety | West Seattle news

With windstorm concern stirring tonight, perfect time to kick off a series of special updates you’ll see here during April – Disaster Preparedness Month. Again, nobody’s expecting a disaster, but a little readiness never hurt anyone. First thing we want to spotlight is the easiest thing to point you to: The West Seattle Be Prepared website. It’s showcased in our right sidebar, and we talked about it during the Chile aftermath. But that’s been a while! First and foremost, this site shows you the Emergency Communication Hubs (here’s the map) – 9 places designated around the peninsula where you can go in case something disastrous shuts down all the regular lines of communication – places where you can get information and find out how to get help, places chosen in coordination with neighborhood-group leaders and volunteers who have been working for more than 2 years now on the readiness plan. (If you have checked the Hubs map before, take note there’s now a Hub in Highland Park – might be new since the last time you looked.) Then take a spin around the website in general. The “What’s New” page might be a good place to start. And join the Facebook group for West Seattle Be Prepared, while you’re at it. Coming up, some key dates to mark on your calendar for this month – including a statewide drill, neighborhood workshop, and more. Then next week, after the holiday, we’ll get down to some practical advice – and a request for you to show others what you’ve done to get ready.