Pierce County Pulse
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Disaster preparedness materials in a blue tote

Disasters Don't Plan Ahead!

September is National Preparedness Month – we’ve prepared the following information for use on your websites, newsletters or social media feeds.  Please distribute!
September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and visit. The goal of National Preparedness Month is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness actions. Getting prepared doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Simple steps include signing up for alerts and making a communication plan with your family.

Make an emergency communication plan for your family (think about pets):

  • Identify an out of area emergency contact to coordinate information with family/friends.
  • Check on neighbors.
  • Keep an emergency kit wherever you spend time: home, car, work etc.
  • Set up local alerts.
  • Listen to local officials by radio, TV, or social media and take action.
  • Practice your preparedness plans with a drill or exercise.
  • Take a first aid class so you can help until first responders arrive.
  • Sign up for PC ALERT at https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/921/Pierce-County-ALERT

At DEM we are focusing on our employee preparedness. We are having an all staff meeting to kick off National Preparedness Month with activities to challenge us all to be better prepared, especially since we are essential employees after a disaster and required to be able to report to work.  During the month we are doing kit checks, focusing on communication plans for family. Our Managers are donating funds to purchase participation prizes.
What we will check for:
  1. Week one check: Water
  2. Week two check: Food
  3. Week three check: Household/family Communication Plan
  4. Week four check: Important Documents

If you would like details of our plan so you can do something similar, contact Sarah Foster [email protected].  Details will be available in early August.

For more information, go to http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/945/Emergency-Preparedness

time to plan

Continuity of Operations Plans

Have you ever wondered if your family is prepared for a disaster? Of course you have because they are important to you and they depend on you. But have you ever considered if your organization is prepared for a disaster? The citizens you serve also depend on you to be able to provide emergency and basic government services. Does your city or town have a plan to continue to provide these essential services for the community in the event of a man-made or natural disaster?
A Continuity of Operations plan (COOP) is an excellent way to ready your organization to fulfill its responsibilities despite disruption, lack of personnel, or resources. DEM has a COOP program for county departments focusing on training and guidance on COOP development.

Who will assume leadership and make decisions? What are our priorities? Where do you go to assume operations if your office is unsafe? How do we communicate with our employees and with the public? Developing a Continuity of Operations plan is one way to ensure that your organization can answer these questions, and that your employees and the public have a clear understanding of government operations in light of a minor disruption, such as a ruptured water main in front of your building, or a much larger disruption like an earthquake that may prevent full services from being provided.

DEM encourages you to develop COOPs for each of your departments to ensure that you are able to fulfill your responsibilities and provide for families and citizens entrusted to you. Keep an eye out for a Continuity of Operations plan template for cities and towns in the future.

If you would like more information or guidance on COOPs please contact Kelly Kiyohara at [email protected] or (253) 798-2214.

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan Update

It’s time to think of what changes you would like to see in the Pierce County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). Some of you may be asking “what is the CEMP?”

The CEMP is the overarching emergency plan that Pierce County, and those cities and towns who contract with the County, operates under during emergencies and disasters. Each political subdivision of the state must have an emergency management plan (WAC 118-30-40 (2)), however multiple jurisdictions may all combine under one plan, as is the case in Pierce County. Each plan must be based on a hazard analysis for the region covered (WAC 118-30-60 (1)). In Pierce County, the CEMP is an all hazard plan based on a Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA). The current HIRA includes a wide range of natural, technological and human caused hazards. The 19 hazards or threats covered range from abandoned mines through dam failures, earthquakes, floods and storms, hazardous chemical spills or releases, terrorism, volcanic incidents to wildland/urban interface fires.

Revisions are incorporated into the plan, as needed, due to a changing environment, the appearance of new hazards, revised regulations, or a modified understanding of the local hazards. In addition, the entire CEMP is reviewed and updated every 4 years. The next update is due in 2018. In order to ensure the plan meets the needs of communities within the County, the planning team will need the assistance of representatives from all the contract jurisdictions as well as the agencies listed in either a primary or support role.
While the CEMP covers most of the cities and towns within Pierce County, three jurisdictions who have developed their own plans stand out: Tacoma, University Place, and South Prairie. In addition Pacific and Auburn have portions of their cities in Pierce County, but do their planning through King County.

For more information on CEMP revisions, please contact Richard Schroedel at [email protected] or at (253) 798-6596.

Upcoming Training & Exercise
Joplin survey

Lessons Learned from Joplin

Guest speaker Stephanie Brady, Co-chair of the Joplin Area Long Term Recovery Committee and the Chair of the Unmet Needs Committee, will be discussing best practices in public communications, planning for unmet needs post-disaster, and developing long term recovery strategies. Join us as we hear real world examples from the tornado incident that cost more than 100 people their lives and destroyed homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure.
WHEN:  August 10, 2017
8:30 am – 11:30 am Washington Emergency Public Information Network-sponsored morning workshop –  Public communications before, during, and after a major incident https://lessons_from_joplin_fall_wepin_workshop.eventbrite.com
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm Serving people with access and functional needs during a disaster, and long term recovery
WHERE: King County Emergency Management (3511 NE 2nd Street, Renton, WA)
This event is free, but space is limited, so please register in advance. Feel free to attend one or both workshop sessions. Note: A separate registration is required for each. 
Preparedness Tip
heat graphic

Warm and Dry Weather Continues

Historically temperatures increase after the 4th of July, be ready! We've prepared the following information for use on your websites, newsletters or social media feeds. Please distribute.

The National Weather Service July/August/September Outlook: 

 National Weather Service.

Include in your planning how to help others, your family or neighbors, consider the elderly, very young, or those with health issues.  If your neighborhood has a Pierce County Neighborhood Emergency Team (PC-NET), members can work together to initiate a heat safety check:

  • Visit older adults at least twice a day—and bring along a pitcher of ice water or lemonade. 
  • Offer to help adjust fans, blinds and curtains or adjust settings on an air conditioner or furnace fan.
  • Remind folks to wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Is there any place in the neighborhood where folks can go to get cool? Or head for the local libraries, movie theaters, and malls to cool off.
  • Offer to take neighbors who may not have transportation to cooling locations.

Heat Facts
  • Some medicines can affect a persons ability to deal with heat, check with your pharmacy.
  • Never leave children, pets or elderly, who may be unable to adjust to heat in parked cars even with the windows open, even for a few minutes. 
  • On a 78 degree day,  temperatures in the vehicle can be 90 degrees in the shade—and 160 degrees in the sun!
  • The Center for Disease Control states air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day can reduce their risk of becoming ill.
  • Heat can impact a person’s ability to think clearly, take time to observe behavior.
  • Did you know that even in our northwest climate, pets can get sunburns, paw burns, and heat stroke in minutes?  Always have cool water available, walk your pet on grass or dirt when possible, and provide shade when outside. Share this information:  Please Leave Your Pet At Home

great shakeout logo

Great ShakeOut 

While earthquake hazard varies from region to region (see below), most of Washington is prone to earthquakes. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation.
What we do now will determine our quality of life after our next big earthquake. Are you prepared to survive and recover quickly?

The Great Washington ShakeOut is a statewide, county wide, city wide, and town wide opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." The ShakeOut has also been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.
Learn more below, or read answers to frequently asked questions

Our preparedness educators may be available to speak to your employees, request a talk on earthquake preparedness from Emergency Management staff.

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