Use the nine “P’s of Preparedness” to get ready for major emergencies

July 29, 2014

Wildfires, floods, and other imminent hazards can lead local officials to issue evacuation orders. If you live in an area at high risk for any of these events, make sure you are prepared evacuate quickly and smoothly.

Here are the “P’s of Preparedness” to remember in case of an immediate evacuation:

  • People
  • Pets
  • Papers (important documents)
  • Phone numbers
  • Prescriptions (medications and glasses)
  • Pictures (and other mementos)
  • PCs (for the info stored on them)
  • Plastic (credit cards, cash)
  • Planning

Let’s talk about each point…    

Evacuating your family safely requires planning ahead. Know at least two routes out of your community. Know how to contact each other. Have an emergency kit with food and water. has many publications available to help you get ready for the threat of a fire. Practice evacuation drills and make sure that children know what to do in an emergency. FEMA has great guidelines to help you start your disaster plan and build an emergency preparedness kit.
 people image
Be ready to quickly transport your pets and have a plan for where they will stay if you cannot return to your house for a while.
 pets image
Keep deeds, birth certificates, vehicle titles, and other important documents in one location, and look through your papers frequently to make sure everything is up to date. Being able to grab everything important at once will make the evacuation go much smoother.
 papers image
Phone numbers
Make sure everyone in your family has access to important phone numbers. Try to keep cellphones charged and keep a backup hardcopy of all your phone numbers just in case.
 phone image
During an evacuation pharmacies and drug stores may be closed or out of the items you need. Keep extra medicine and prescriptions within easy reach as you hurry out the door. Put a special focus on any critical medications such as diabetes medication, asthma inhalers, and EpiPens.
 prescription image
Pictures and other mementos
Collect items that hold a lot of personal significance. In the unfortunate event that your house is lost or damaged in a fire, at least you won’t lose irreplaceable items, like family photos.
 pictures image
Personal computers (hard drives)
Computers store a lot of important information and personal items that you’ll want to keep. Be ready to unplug the computer box and take it with you. It also would be a good idea to make a digital copy of family photos, important documents, and business papers that can be downloaded onto an easy-to-carry flash drive or external hard drive.
 computer images
Plastic (credit cards and cash)
Keep credit cards on hand and store extra cash and checks with your evacuation kit. You may have to buy food, fill up your gas tank, or stay in a hotel.
 credit card image
Evacuating from your home and your community is stressful. If you have a clear plan for what to do (the Ps of preparation), the process will go easier for you and your family.
 Planning image
IMAGES: Pets designed by Anne Caroline Bittencourt Gonçalves, Document designed by Rob Gill, Cell Phone designed by Marwa Boukarim, Hash designed by Michael Rowe, Medicine designed by Emmanuel Mangatia, Picture designed by Ilias Ismanalijev, Computer designed by Simple Icons, Computer designed by Anton Outkine, Keyboard designed by Herbert Spencer, Credit Cards designed by Alex Auda Samora, Checklist designed by Maico Amorim. All images from


Visit the Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) Program for more information about wildfire safety and what you can do before a fire strikes to be prepared.

Check out the DNR Burn Map to view the fire danger in your area and stay connected with this year’s wildfire season on the DNR_Fire Twitter feed

Tree trouble from the wind storm in eastern Washington? 10 tips to keep you and your family safe

July 25, 2014
Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

On the evening of July 23, 2014, thunderstorms packing high winds and hail pummeled Spokane and many other areas in eastern Washington. In its wake, the storm toppled thousands of trees and damaged many more.

Here are two things homeowners may experience the days and weeks following a tree-damaging storm: residual hazards from storm-damaged trees and roving “tree cutters” who may not have the best interests of you and your trees in mind.

5 tips to stay safe around storm-damaged trees

  1. Never touch or attempt to remove fallen limbs from downed or sagging power lines.
  2. Keep away from areas where uprooted trees may have damaged underground utilities.
  3. Avoid walking underneath trees that have broken limbs dangling.
  4. If you feel the need to inspect a tree after a storm, do not walk underneath its suspended branches or leaning trunk. Approach a leaning tree from 180 degrees opposite of the direction it is leaning. Binoculars are great for inspecting trees from a safe distance.
  5. Refrain from doing tree work yourself. Pruning large limbs or removing trees is dangerous business that requires specialized equipment and training.

No matter what, always report downed lines to your local utility company.

After storms that cause heavy damage to trees, expect to see scores of poorly trained “tree cutters” come out of the woodwork, so-to-speak. These individuals may pressure homeowners into costly and unnecessary work, cause additional property damage due to lack of expertise or training, and put homeowners at risk by operating without proper licensing or insurance coverage.

5 more tips to ensure that you, your property, and your trees are cared for properly

  1. Hire a company that is licensed, bonded and insured. Look to see if it is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  2. Seek at least three estimates; ask for copies of the estimates in writing.
  3. Never put down a deposit for work without a signed contract that includes the company’s refund policy.
  4. Ask for references, and check them.
  5. Reject any company that recommends “topping” your tree. Don’t top trees!
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Recent showers didn’t douse fire danger; Statewide burn ban remains in effect

July 24, 2014

Mile Marker 28 fireEven though we’ve had rain showers in several parts of western Washington recently, a statewide ban on outdoor burning remains in effect for all lands that DNR protects from wildfire on both sides of the Cascades.

Fire officials at DNR and local fire districts say they are seeing an recent increase in outdoor burning in western counties, which is not allowed under the current statewide burn ban. Please don’t be misled by the recent, brief wet spell. Summer rains tend to be isolated events, which means that clouds may dump rain where you are but the countryside a few miles away could remain fairly dry. The thick canopy of forests on the westside can prevent much of a summer shower’s raindrops from reaching the dry needles and grasses on the ground below. Even where grasses and light brush have greened-up, the heavier fuels — trees and thick brush — are still quite dry for this time of year.

More worrisome is that we are only in the third of week of July — there are many warm summer days to go. This weekend, in fact, will bring sunnier, warmer, and drier weather to much of western Washington while the heat and fire danger continues in eastern Washington.

Please be safe as you plan your outdoor adventures. Remember to be especially careful with fire and outdoor activities.

For daily updates on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN 24 hours a day or visit DNR’s Fire Danger and Outdoor Burning webpage to view fire conditions and burning restrictions for each county in Washington state.

Information about the current statewide burn ban
Report a Forest Fire: 800-562-6010

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Stormy weather expected to bring heavy rain and dangerous lightning to eastern Washington

July 23, 2014

lightning boltsA special weather statement issued this morning by the National Weather Service in Spokane warns of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening in many areas of central and eastern Washington state. While the rainfall may help tamp down the spread of the several wildfires in the region, the heavy rains could cause flash flooding, especially on recently burned areas. Another problem could be the numerous lighting strikes expected.

Please remember that if you hear thunder, lightning is likely within striking distance — lightning threats can extend as far as 10 miles from the storm.

Please play it safe by remembering this little phrase: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The National Weather Service advises waiting 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before going back outside. Check out this collection of Lightning Facts & Myths from the National Weather Service

Even with the current wet weather, Washington remains under a statewide burn ban because wildfire danger remains high in many areas.

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Keep up-to-date with wildfire information online

July 21, 2014


Stay up to date on the wildfire situation in eastern Washington state this week with these links:

Evacuation & Road Information

Wildfire Information

  • Northwest Interagency Coordination Center – Blogspot
  • Incident Information System InciWeb

DNR Fire Resources

Report a Forest Fire: 800-562-6010
Reminder: DNR has expanded the seasonal burn ban to include all DNR-protected lands in western Washington, effective through September 30, 2014. A burn ban is already in place for eastern Washington .

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Governor Inslee urges extreme caution with rapidly growing fires

July 18, 2014
Twisp, WA

Smoke from one of the wildfires in the Carlton Complex towers over the town of Twisp in the Methow Valley of eastern Washington state..

In a news conference today, Gov. Jay Inslee called upon Washington state residents to respond quickly if requested to evacuate by authorities, as approximately 2,000 personnel from DNR and other fire agencies battle several wildfires in eastern Washington state.

“This is an extreme fire event. It requires extreme caution, and we are responding to it as rapidly as possible,” Inslee said. The governor said the rapid growth of the fires “calls for all of us to be on the highest level of alert and also on the highest level of cooperation with emergency responders. The focus is on getting people away from the fires.”

With wildfires jumping both the Okanogan and Methow rivers to threaten the town of Okanogan, Inslee said the 100 National Guard troops already deployed to wildfires will be supplemented by about 1,000 more troops in coming days as they complete DNR wildfire training.

About 50 fires are burning on the state’s eastside. Among them are the Mills Complex, which includes several wildfires covering about 35 square miles, and the Carlton Complex, which ballooned from an estimated 28 square miles on Thursday to 260 square miles by Friday morning.

Stay up-to-date on fire conditions with these important links:

Thank you Washington National Guard!

July 17, 2014
National Guard Helicopter

A National Guard helicopter aiding in the fight against a wildfire. PHOTO: Dan Boyle

Big thanks to the Washington National Guard and the efforts they are putting in to fight these wildfires! The Washington National Guard has been called in to aid wildfire responders in this very difficult and busy fire season in Washington state.

A state of emergency was declared by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen on Tuesday in 20 Eastern Washington counties because of the multiple wildfires in the region. Within less than 24 hours the Washington National Guard responded.

Guard members are aiding in the fight against wildfires. These wildfires threaten not only forests but many homes and other buildings. Already two helicopters from the National Guard are on duty and with more coming the next few days.

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Best bird’s eye views from DNR hikes

July 15, 2014

With summer comes sunny days, and what better way to enjoy them than while recreating on DNR-managed land. DNR recreation opportunities offer visitors many places to take in Washington’s vistas.

Whether viewed from a trailhead picnic bench or after a long hike, the vistas you’ll find on DNR-managed lands are sure to awe.

Read on for a list of recreation opportunities sure to leave a lasting impression.

Samish Bay Overlook

View of Samish Bay from the Samish Overlook and Day-Use Area, managed by DNR. Photo DNR.

Samish Overlook
At Blanchard Mountain you can catch a great view of the San Juan Islands and have a picnic while watching the paragliders!

Eagle Nest Vista
Located in the Ahtanum State Forest, Eagle Nest Vista is just what its name implies – a bird’s eye view over the breathtaking sub-alpine forest. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the sights.

Mount Si

Enjoy a day hike up to Mount Si NRCA for great views. Photo by Diana Lofflin/ DNR

Mount Si Trailhead
Pack a picnic lunch and expect to see views of the Snoqualmie valley and Cascades. Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) draws about 100,000 visitors each year.

Twin Falls Lake
The high cascading inlet falls of Twin Falls Lake, located in the Morning Star NRCA, provide incentives to visitors willing to hike for their view. Start at the Ashland Lakes Trailhead for a 4.5-mile hike to the site.

Discover Pass
As you plan your next vista-viewing adventure, make sure to remember to grab a Discover Pass to make the most of Washington’s sunny days.

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Statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands

July 14, 2014
Before having any campfire, check with your campground host or the local fire district to see if they are allowed. PHOTO BY: Sarah Foster

Before having any campfire, check with your campground host or the local fire district to see if they are allowed. PHOTO BY: Sarah Foster

DNR has extended the burn ban to include western Washington for all DNR-protected lands, effective through September 30, 2014. A burn ban was already in please for eastern Washington beginning July 1.

Hot and dry conditions increase the potential for wildfire over the next several weeks on both sides of the Cascades. With the current heat wave projected to last into next week, DNR is urging people to be extra vigilant.

Already this year, DNR has dealt with more than 260 wildfire starts which burned approximately 19,000 acres.

The burn ban includes all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands with the following exceptions:

  • Recreational fires in approved fire pits in designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds;
  • DNR-approved prescribed fires for ecological purposes may be permitted if expressly approved by the Commissioner of Public Lands.
  • Gas and propane self-contained stoves/barbeque grills. Charcoal briquettes are not allowed.

DNR has a Wildfire Prevention Tip Card that explains how you can prevent wildfires and keep your home and community safe.

More information

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5 Boating Safety Tips: Know before you go

July 11, 2014
Kayakers take advantage of nice weather to paddle in Puget Sound. Photo: DNR.

Kayakers take advantage of nice weather to paddle in Puget Sound. Photo: DNR.

With the arrival of hot summer days, you may be anxious to get out on the water and play! However, there have been many close calls due to cold water and the unpredictable weather in Puget Sound.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is an advocate of safe and sustainable recreation. Before you head out to play, make sure you follow these five safety tips:

  1. Dress for the occasion. On a sunny day, a dip in the cool water might not sound like such a bad thing, but hypothermia can set in after only minutes of exposure. A wetsuit is a great way to stay safe and comfortable. If a wetsuit isn’t an option, wool clothing insulates better than cotton when wet.
  2. Practice self-rescue. In the event that you end up in the water unintentionally, being able to get back into your boat in deep water is imperative. Practice self-rescue in safe water before heading out.
  3. Be aware of offshore winds. When kayaking in open water, make sure to pay attention to off-shore winds that can make the paddle back to shore difficult.
  4. Paddle with a partner. If you kayak with a buddy, you’ll always have someone there in case of an emergency… plus, it’s much more fun.
  5. Always wear your PFD (personal floatation device). The most important thing to remember is that PFDs save lives. Don’t paddle without one.

    A group of kayakers paddle in Bellingham Channel. Cypress Island and one of the Cone Islands are in the background. Photo: DNR/Jason Goldstein

    A group of kayakers paddle in Bellingham Channel. Cypress Island and one of the Cone Islands are in the background. Photo: DNR/Jason Goldstein

If you want to take your paddling safety skills to the next level, check out these resources:

FREE online paddle safety course
Washington Water Trails Association

If you operate a motor boat, you’ll need to get your Boater Education Card from State Parks.

Remember, be safe and have a great time on the water!

Do you have any water safety tips? Please send your comments to

Find waterside recreation sites for DNR-managed lands, recreation rules, opening and closure information, and more on our Recreation web page.

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