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public safety

Big earthquakes happen infrequently enough in the Northwest that people can be lulled into complacency. That’s not the case in Japan.

Most large Japanese cities have at least one disaster training center, where people can learn in realistic simulators what to do in an earthquake, typhoon or fire. Leaders from the Pacific Northwest who have seen these centers say it’s a concept worth copying.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it illegal to check your social media feeds while you're behind the wheel. A House panel takes up the bill Monday afternoon.

Several Jewish community centers across the U.S. were targeted by bomb threats on Monday, according to the JCC Association of North America, in the fourth wave of such threats in the past two months.

In total, there have been 69 threats at 54 JCCs, in 27 states and a Canadian province, the organization reports — including previous threats on Jan. 9, 18 and 31, as well as 11 threats by telephone on Monday.

Northwest residents are surrounded by thousands of dams, some in disrepair. And now the emergency at California’s Oroville Dam has sharpened interest in dam safety.

Multiple destructive storm systems damaged property and killed at least 19 people over the weekend, and continued to batter much of the U.S. with rain, snow and wind today.

All 19 reported deaths were in the South, where apparent tornadoes ripped through towns over the weekend, damaging and destroying buildings in multiple states.

"Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people," Debbie Van Brackel, a volunteer EMT in Adel, Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. "You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down."

A new tsunami survival option has come to the Pacific Northwest coast. It involves climbing into a spherical aluminum pod for what is sure to be the ride of your life.

Long Beach, Washington, has an earthquake and tsunami preparedness problem shared with some other low-lying coastal Northwest places such as Seaside, Oregon, and Ocean Shores, Washington. Many townspeople and visitors likely couldn’t reach high ground in time to escape a tsunami.

White River starts on Mount Rainier where it picks up a lot of sediment that can lead to flooding downstream.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ajniMm

Heavy rainfall puts stress on Seattle area rivers, especially White River between Auburn and Buckley.

The riverbed is gradually rising, and it can't hold as much water as it used to. That has county and weather officials taking extra steps to prepare for flooding.

Gabriella Garrett, Colleen Andersonn Marci Oliveri went for a ride on the earthquake simulator Tuesday afternoon.
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

The city of Seattle invited the public to a "Big Shaker" event Tuesday at Westlake Park to be part of an earthquake simulation and nudge people to prepare for the inevitable.

KUOW's Katherine Banwell went along for the ride and sent us this audio postcard featuring Dean Reese, CEO of Ready America; simulator participants Gabriella Garrett, Colleen Anderson and Marci Oliveri; and Matt Auflick of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.

A Winchester Safes representative sets the lock on one of several gun safes on display at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Joseph Simonetti about the public health implications of safe firearm storage. His research finds that adolescents with risk factors for suicide are often easily able to access guns in their homes. Simonetti is Instructor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.

To millions of people in New York on Monday morning, the first word of a suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings arrived at 8 a.m. with a jarring, screeching sound of their mobile phones.

Screens lit up across New York City with an emergency alert: "WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-year-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen."

The recent police shootings of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota have reignited the debate over use of deadly force. That was on the mind of a black community leader in Washington state as she strapped on a gun belt and took aim inside a state-of-the-art training simulator for police.

At the Washington State Patrol Academy in Shelton, Corporal Lori Hinds guides a pair of visitors into what looks like a walk-in video game. Inside five, large video screens form a 300-degree computer-generated environment.

Not a single school district has told the state of Oregon how it plans to test for radon gas. Every district in the state is required to do so by September 1.

Planes and parachutes might be the best bet for getting supplies to cut-off areas in the event of a subduction zone earthquake. National Guard pilots and paratroopers practiced supply drops and parachute jumps Thursday.

Bill Radke shows off the emergency kits we have for everyone at KUOW (but that's not enough to last us in a major catastrophe).
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Tom Martin, founding member of the American Preppers Network, about why he has an emergency supply of food and water. Martin also talks about why people need to be prepared for any natural disaster. 

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