Friday, February 27, 2015

Are You Cyber-Prepared?

Nearly every day, there is another news story about a business that fell victim to a cyber-attack.  Recently, security experts revealed that cyber criminals stole up to one billion dollars in a single organized attack on 50 banks. In 2014, the total number of information security incidents increased by 48% from 2013 and the FBI predicts that the number of attacks will grow exponentially in coming years.  They now consider cyber threats to be among their top priorities.

Most cyber attacks take advantage of computer users doing mundane, day-to-day tasks such as reading emails, clicking links, and downloading files.  So, at home and in the work place, we each need to be vigilant and we need to see ourselves as the first line of defense against these attacks.

Take steps now to prevent cyber attacks and be prepared to deal with the consequences.  Here are some basic tips.

1.   Update.  Update your passwords.  Update your security settings.  Update your software.  This might be another thing to add to your to-do list when we change our clocks in the spring and fall.

2.   Backup.  Make electronic backups of, at least, your most critical information.  Make hard copy backups of essential documents and other media.

3.   Practice safe surfing.  For example:

·     Only connect to the Internet over secure, password-protected networks.
  • Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
  • Do not respond to online requests for personal information.  Most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
  • Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.
Those are the very basics.  There may be other steps you need to take depending on the type of computer user you are.  For example, do you use social media a lot?  Do you use mobile devices?  Do you do a lot of shopping or banking on the Internet?  You should research additional steps based on the specific ways that you use computers.  

Here are some additional resources:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pretend Your Power Goes Out...

Pretending that our power has gone out is not a stretch; recently this has happened twice for wind storms.  When normal frames of reference are gone and it's nighttime, it’s hard to move around without light.  That lamp that always stays on is out, the porch light and your neighbors lights are out.  That lack of sound from your refrigerator adds to the eerie feeling now to be replaced with scary howling wind.  The TV isn’t there to provide comfort, let alone if you’re watching the World Series, Seahawks or American Idol.  Eating cold Beany Weenies out of a can is not our idea of good dinner, but that’s for another blog post.   If you are on a well that is reliant on electricity or have medically fragile family members you are more vulnerable than others.  Power outage is simply very dark and unsettling.

What did you swear that you were going to do to prepare for the next event and haven’t gotten around to doing?  What’s stopping you?  Perhaps a little encouragement (wink, wink), a reminder of what it’s like to be dark and cold or perhaps its ideas on how to break it down.  Perhaps a reminder that your children, spouse, senior parent and pets depend on you to be prepared.  Like the song says “We Can Help” with encouragement and suggestions, but the truth is that no one is going to make it happen for you but you. 
Imagine how that uneasiness would settle down if you have a plan and you and your family members know where your immediate supplies are for power outages.  Or, if you need motivation, imagine the opposite.  Lets get started. 

Immediate Emergency Lighting. 
Flashlights should be available to grab when the power goes out, kept close by and always in the same place.  At home this might be plug in emergency flashlights/nightlights that illuminate when the power goes out.  You can pick up the previously plugged in, charged (and lightweight) flashlight to maneuver the dark hallways.  This should be enough to take you to your power outage supplies.  (You have these, right?)

Headlamps are favorite choices for hands free and inexpensive emergency lighting.  The one caveat is that they are battery dependent.  Keep the batteries fresh and have spares.  Secure your headlamp to your bed (think about earthquake shaking) and other important places just inside your home entry (might be the front door, could be the door from/to the garage).  Most of these types have built-in tilting heads – keep it tilted down out of others eyesight.    

STOP HERE – If you accept the challenge to improve your preparedness the first part of is up to you.  Start coming up with your own plan and evaluate where you stand on these issues.   We will continue this blog post the on February 6.  You have three weeks – GO!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Good News on this AMBER Alert Awareness Day

January 13th is AMBER Alert Awareness Day.  Facebook and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children announced an exciting new partnership that will take AMBER Alerts to the next level.  

As of Tuesday morning,  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be able to issue Amber alerts via the giant social media site. If a child goes missing in your area, Facebook will put a notice on your News Feed with all relevant information, including a photo of the missing child and location of the possible abduction. It will look like this:
Under a new program, the social-networking service will send out Amber Alerts, which police and other authorities send out in an area where they may be searching for a minor. Alerts will now be active by default, rather than requiring users to sign up for notifications, according to Emily Vacher, Facebook’s trust and safety manager.
“People are interested in this already,” Vacher said in an interview. “We're just really amplifying what people are doing in hopes the right information gets to the right person at the right time so that a child can be reunited safely with their family.”
Under the new system, a bulletin be will be issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and then pushed through the Facebook system after local or state police determine the case qualifies for an Amber Alert. The alerts will include photographs and other details about the missing child -- and will be shown on mobile devices and desktop computers.
The alerts will appear in the News Feed, the main hub for information for Facebook users. Law enforcement will decide on the range of the target area for the bulletins, Facebook said.

Sources:  Huffington Post  and Bloomberg News

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency to be Testing Emergency Notification System


9-1-1 Dispatch Center
Regional Communications System - Emergency Management - Emergency Medical Services
Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt


Emergency Management to be testing Emergency Notification System

Residents in the Lewis River Drainage and areas of Woodland WA will receive a test call from CRESA Emergency Management as part of the Southwest Washington Region IV Emergency Notification System on November 20th between 10:00 AM and 2:00 P.M.  The test will call all landlines, registered cellular and VoIP (Voice over Internet Phones) from Merwin Dam to Woodland.  

CRESA Emergency Management in partnership with Skamania, Wahkiakum and Cowlitz Counties have been working with Hyper-Reach, the emergency notification system provider, to ensure residents are provided warning and could be notified in the case of an emergency.

The Regional Emergency Notification System allows Emergency Management to send a targeted message to a geographic location in times of emergency.  These alerts can be used for anything from Missing Persons, Criminal Threats, and Evacuation notices.  Traditional land-line phone numbers are automatically included in the system.  Mobile numbers, e-mail addresses and VoIP need to be registered to be part of the system.  

There is a misconception about what is a “Traditional Land-line.”  Just because you have a phone that plugs into the wall does not mean you still have a traditional land-line.  If you have bundled your phone with your cable television and Internet, you no longer have a traditional landline.  To be sure you are in the system, residents are encouraged to visit to register their cellular or VoIP phones to receive these notifications.  Notifications may also be received via text message, email, and or TDD depending on preferences selected during registration.  

By preforming these test drills, the system can be evaluated to ensure the data is correct, identifies any problems which allows them to be corrected prior to an actual emergency.

Residents with questions or requiring additional information should contact  Eric Frank at 360-992-6289 or 360-601-8962

Contact:  Eric Frank
CRESA Public Information Officer
360-992-6289 Desk
360-601-8962 Cell

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm Able to Bundle Up... Not Everyone Is As Fortunate....

For many of us, a dip in temperatures is an inconvenience and something we take for granted.  For most of us, when temperatures drop, we may throw on an extra layer, turn up the thermostat, or stoke the fireplace, but for many in our community, even a modest drop in temperature can lead something more severe and potentially death.

Over the weekend with the bitter cold here in the Vancouver area, (something we do not see regularly), I found myself thinking a bit more about those who are less fortunate and do not have the simple luxuries of turning up the heat, or an extra jacket, hat and gloves, or even that roof over their head to turn up the heat in.   As an emergency manager I was aware of some of the shelter programs within the city and county, but were these enough to handle the need during a cold snap like what we are currently in the middle of?

I went to to find more on locations throughout the region.  As I got to Clark County, I found one phone number, 360-695-9677  that directed me to a live person to help match up my need if I did need help.  The Council for the Homeless is behind the number, which helps organize and find temporary housing for those in need.  The Winter Hospitality Overflow or WHO operates from November 1st - March 31st of each year.  It is a team effort between the Council and several partners within the faith community and volunteers from throughout the community that come together to help provide additional shelter space during the coldest months when the need increases.

Need Assistance?

WHO beds are available on a first-call, first-serve basis through the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline. To access these beds, call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677. Families, couples and single females can call anytime from 9 am – 5 pm Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and 9 am – 7 pm on Tuesday and Thursdays, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 12 pm; single males can call Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 11am – 5 pm and Tuesday and Thursday 11 am – 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 12 pm.

Quick Facts

  • St. Andrew has a bed capacity of 42 for single women, couples and families, plus 8 additional emergency family spots, for a total of 50 beds.
  • St. Paul has a bed capacity of 24 for single men.
  • Each WHO shelter is staffed with professional Share case managers who help guests work toward self-sufficiency.
  • More than 50 faith congregations and community organizations have donated time and talent to ensure each WHO site is open for five full months!

The Council for the Homeless can also be found on Facebook.  They have been involved in many area bazaars recently and have been selling their Good Deeds with Beads.  They will also be in the lobby of the Kiggins Theater Wednesday,  November 19th during Hello Vancouver selling their bracelets.

Please join me in supporting this non-profit providing emergency shelter to those in need.Demand for services far exceeds available funding.  If you are able to help support through donations or would like to learn more about how to volunteer, please contact Kevin Hiebert.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween, Keep your Little Ghosts and Goblins Safe

We want to make help your prepare for a fun and safe Halloween.  Here are some easy tips for you and your family for the trick-or-treat festivities. 

  • Check your local newspaper, municipality’s website, or social media feed to get updates on times for trick-or-treating (many locations offer indoor options).
  • Make sure you have several working flashlights and so that everyone can see and be seen, glow sticks and other self illuminated products are widely available. 
  • Only visit houses with porch lights that are turned on!
  • Be vigilant while crossing streets, look both ways before you cross and try to cross only at corners.
  • Stay in groups and keep an eye out for each other while trick-or-treating.
  • Consider costumes that are bright and reflective.
  • Your costumes accessories should be made from soft pliable materials.
  • Do not eat any candy until you return home to your parents.
  • All parents should inspect and review all candy collected before allowing children to consume.  (feel free to collect a candy inspection tax).
  • Discard any candy that show signs of tampering and throw away any candy that is not sealed or in the original packaging.
  • After eating candy don’t forget to brush your teeth (consider a new fun Halloween themed toothbrush).

If you are driving this Halloween season, DRIVE SLOWLY! Never text while driving – it is a distraction and likely illegal in many cities. Children will be out and about – so keep a sharp eye for everyone on the street.
 We've also included the Official Halloween Safety Game below.  Take a turn and let your little ones also test their Halloween Safety Knowledge.  
Hope you have a fun yet safe Halloween this year!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Significant Weather Advisory for SE Clark County / Washougal until 3:15 PM Today

National Weather Services has issued the following urgent weather advisory:

At 236 pm PDT...national weather service doppler radar was tracking a Strong thunderstorm over boring...or 8 miles west of sandy...moving Northeast at 35 mph. Wind gusts up to 50 mph will be possible with this storm.

Locations impacted include...
Valley...Damascus...Eagle Creek...Bull Run and Shortys Corner.

This includes the following highways in Oregon...interstate 84 between mile markers 19 and 22.US highway 26 east of Portland between mile markers 15 and 27.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Rotation has been observed on radar in this storm. This storm may be Capable of producing a funnel cloud. If you observe a funnel cloud or tornado take cover. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

CRESA Participated in the Great ShakeOut... Did You

At 10:16 this morning, CRESA took part in the Great ShakeOut, in an effort to promote Earthquake Preparedness Awareness.    As you can tell from the pictures, we had some fun taking part in the Great ShakeOut,  This fun approach in reminding everyone the importance to Drop, Cover and Hold On in an Earthquake.   Southwest Washington and the Portland Metro Area lie in what is known as the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake Zone  


Even though this years ShakeOut is officially over, being prepared for an earthquake in something we all need to take seriously.  If you weren't able to take part this year, we challenge you to take a few moments to practice Earthquake Safety for you and your  family.  As a bonus, we would love to see your photos!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's Fire Prevention Week... But Do You Know Why?

The first week of October just happens to be Fire Prevention week.  In Fact, Oct 9th is actually referred to as Fire Prevention Day...  But do you know why?

Well, according to legend... It all goes back to 1871 and Mrs. O'Leary was in her milk barn, milking her milk cow.  The cow kicked over a lamp, which started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The fire burned for over 27 hours killing over 300 people, and leaving over 100,000 homeless.  Over 17,000 structures were destroyed!!

Over the next forty years, efforts ignited to improve fire prevention leading to the first Fire Prevention Day proclaimed by the Fire Marshall's Association of North America.   In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week!!

During this Fire Prevention Week, many of our Fire Agencies throughout the region will be holding events to recognize the importance of fire safety and some tidbits on prevention.  Even if you are unable to attend one of these events in your neighborhood, there are a couple easy things you can do at home that will only take a few moments.

We want to encourage everyone to test your smoke alarm.  In fact we encourage they be tested monthly.  Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives!!  The National Fire Protection Association has created a great Fire Prevention Quiz for you and your family.

We also encourage everyone to Remember "EDITH", which stands for "Exit Drills In The Home." Sometime this week would be a good time to have a practice fire drill with your family!!   The three leading causes of residential fires in Vancouver and Clark County are; 
  • Candles
  • Cooking
  • Smoking 

 Take a look at this video from Vancouver Fire Marshal's office about how you can make your home safer from residential fires, and as Smokey would say... "Only You Can Prevent Fires!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

County Technical Services Outage Not impacting CRESA Priority Services

   UPDATE:  3:15 pm  All Non-critical systems at CRESA are slowly coming back online.  
                     Contact:  Eric Frank

Date  10/08/2014                                                        Information Officer
Time 1:00 pm                                                     (360) 992-6289 ext. 3940

The flooding incident at the County Server room on Wednesday afternoon has not affected CRESA priority 9-1-1 services.  This is what we know regarding CRESA:
  • ·        Dispatchers are using alternate protocols in which they practice regularly. 
  • ·        To Callers, service should be seamless and those needing 9-1-1 should not see any difference.
  • ·        We will be updating information as we receive it. 
  • ·        Please follow CRESA at @CRESAtalk on Twitter and us on Facebook for more information.
  • ·        Concerns regarding the County Technical Services outage should be directed to the Clark County Public Information  and Outreach Office at 360-397-6012

Eric Frank
CRESA Public Information Officer