History has shown us that normal viruses can mutate and have worldwide impact. When influenza or the flu travels the world, it is known as a pandemic event.
There have been several diseases that have almost become pandemics, such as SARS and swine flu. A new influenza virus, referred to early on as swine flu, is novel H1N1. It was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus spreads from person-to-person in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health organization signaled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway.
You can protect yourself and your family by taking simple, daily precautions:
- Cover your cough.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid droplets generated by coughing/sneezing.
- Stay home from work/school if you are sick.
For more information, contact your local county health department or the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Every day there are small earthquakes in Oregon, hardly felt by anyone. However, some scientists believe a large earthquake is (magnitude 9.0) expected to occur at some point in the future.
To help prepare, building codes have been implemented for all new construction, analysis of and retrofitting of existing buildings is being conducted, and education is occurring in many venues throughout the community.
Communities are developing response teams to help each other called Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and are being sponsored by local agencies to train citizens as volunteer rescuers during disaster events. City, county emergency management and health departments are identifying who may have special needs assistance and who has special skills and training.
To become involved or learn more, contact your county emergency management office.
Referred to as a tidal wave, this event occurs when the ocean floor shifts and causes a water bulge to be created. As it travels away from the disruption, usually caused by an earthquake or undersea avalanche, the tsunami gathers speed and power until it hits an object, usually a coast line. It will then push up onto itself until it creates a towering wall of water, which then proceeds onto land and causes damage.
This water wall will easily travel up rivers and bays that empty into the ocean and will continue to reach further inland. The wall of water could be 30 to 60 feet tall and travel hundreds of feet over the shore, washing and pushing everything in its path.
There could be little warning and in some cases, the ocean will pull back into itself, exposing coastline that hasn't been seen before. If you witness this phenomenon, immediately travel inland. When an earthquake is felt on the coast, immediately travel inland as well, in anticipation of a tsunami that may follow.
Coastal communities have developed tsunami evacuation routes, sirens, warning systems and signs. As you travel the coast, look for these areas and know where you would go to evacuate.
Flooding is commonplace between November and April in Oregon. Between the seasonal rains and melting snow packs, water systems can reach capacity quickly and push streams and rivers over their banks.
It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep a vehicle off the road and into a flooded waterway. Every year, people die because they try to drive through flood waters, never knowing how deep or how fast the water is moving. Additionally, downed power lines and other debris can be hidden by murky waters.
The majority of flood-prone areas are known to area emergency managers. However, to help prepare yourself and your family, monitor National Weather Service Web sites and the radio to track rising stream levels. Also, know if your road to travel is near a stream that is flood-prone; and, if necessary, and develop alternate travel routes.
Counties west of the Cascade Mountains are susceptible to the impacts of rain, snow, freezing temperatures and winds that accompany winter storms. At least one of these weather events occurs every year and has resulted in power outages, communication disruption, or even damage to roads and buildings in our community.
Winter storms are predicted by the National Weather Service. Watches and warnings are issued as they identify weather patterns that could lead to extreme winds, freezing temperatures or other distressing weather conditions.
As these conditions are identified, people should pay attention to the local news station and apply caution when traveling in the community. Icy roads, downed trees or power lines, or gusting winds could surprise the unprepared and unaware motorist.
To prepare for any of these emergency events, you should:
- Have an emergency supply of food and water in your house, in case you can't get out for a few days.
- Have someone who can check on you to make sure you are all right.
- Have methods for keeping warm, in the event of power failure (clothing, blankets, properly-installed/serviced stoves).
- Have a battery powered radio, tuned to a local news station, to receive the latest weather bulletins.
- Consult emergency preparedness Web sites for more information.