public safety | KUOW News and Information

public safety

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. 

Railroad industry experts are questioning the early explanation from Union Pacific for why its oil train crashed in Mosier, Ore.

Union Pacific said the preliminary indications from its investigation are “the failure of a fastener that connects the rail to the railroad tie,” according Justin Jacobs, a railroad spokesman.

Union Pacific confirmed Tuesday it won’t be sending trains of crude oil through Mosier, Ore., until derailed cars there are cleared, the crash has been investigated and the town has adequate notice.

On Monday, a Union Pacific spokeswoman said the lack of oil trains through Mosier was simply the result of railroad scheduling, not a railroad decision to halt shipments through the town.

"We don't run very many crude oil trains through here," she said. "Again, remember crude oil is 1 percent of the shipments that we carry."

If you're at the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington and there's a large wildfire -- you might want to consider missing the next set of your favorite band. Just on Sunday, a 600-acre wildfire raged about three miles from the main stage where Alabama Shakes and The Cure were playing.

Traffic accident fatalities are rising at a faster rate in Northwest states than anywhere else in the country according to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drug-impaired drivers and distracted drivers appear to be factors involved in the increase.

Seattle Dept. of Transportation tweeted this map of the area affected by the power outage.
Courtesy of SDOT

Power has been restored to downtown Seattle after a large outage earlier Wednesday. 

The utility says there was an equipment failure at substation at Massachusetts Street, but are still investigating the cause of the outage. 

Seattle Fire Department tweeted this picture of the scene of a gas leak in Ballard on Wednesday, May 18.
Seattle Fire Department

A natural gas leak in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood Wednesday forced a few people to leave their homes. Seattle firefighters handled the evacuation. 

Is your brick building at serious risk in an earthquake?
Flickr Photo/Helen Cook (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/poMYZ

Kim Malcolm speaks with Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about why Seattle still has over a thousand unreinforced masonry buildings (full list here), despite knowledge of their danger in an earthquake and the availability of technology to make them safer.

Doughton is co-author with Daniel Gilbert of the article, "Buildings that kill: The earthquake danger lawmakers have ignored for decades."  

File Photo of an old water fountain.
Flickr Photo/Paul Domenick (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dqusC4

Washington lawmakers want to step up efforts to keep lead out of school drinking water. But the state won't pay for school water quality tests until at least fall of 2017.


Rebecca Benson, a public health nurse in King County, holds up a box now being given to parents for their babies to sleep in. Benson, who shared a bed with her own babies, now believes that giving babies their own space to sleep is preferable.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

When infants die in King County, the medical examiner investigates.

One hundred babies were found to have died of SUID – sudden unexpected infant death – between 2009 and 2015, according to data obtained by KUOW.


"I will not rest, and I'm going to make sure that the leaders at every level of government don't rest until every drop of water that flows to your homes is safe to drink, and safe to cook with, and safe to bathe in," President Obama told an energetic audience in Flint, Mich. "Because that's part of the basic responsibilities of a government in the United States of America."

Chipping paint is a lead poisoning danger to kids.
Flickr Photo/Nancy Waldman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/2Unkx2

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Seattle Times health reporter JoNel Aleccia about lead risks in Washington state. Children in the state have low risks of lead poisoning, but health officials say the biggest lead risks are not in the water; they exist in lead paint in old houses and other environments like some construction sites. 

Half of the workplace deaths involved people over the age of 50 – not people who died of heart attacks, but people who fell or injured themselves on the job.
KUOW photo

Worker Memorial Day, the day Washington State honors people who lost their lives on the job, is this Thursday.

water sink tap
Flickr Photo/Alena Navarro-Whyte (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/asF1o

People in Tacoma, Washington still don't know how bad their lead problem is.

The city says 1,700 Tacoma households and small businesses could be at risk. But it's unknown how many of those customers have high lead levels in their water.

Engineers told state legislatures in 1995 that the Alaskan Way Viaduct would crumble in a major quake. The project to replace the Viaduct is underway but still incomplete.
Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When a major quake hit San Francisco in 1989, the Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed, killing 42 people.

The next day, Washington state officials saw images of the viaduct. To their horror, it looked almost identical to the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront.

Cape Kiwanda is an icon of the Oregon coast, but its jagged bluffs and towering dunes also tempt thrill-seekers to get too close to the edge.

A photo from the Seattle Fire Department's Twitter feed shows  the side of a bus ripped open after a collision with a duck amphibious vehicle on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, September 24, 2015. .
Seattle Fire Department

Ride the Ducks of Seattle has admitted to more than 460 motor safety violations.

The company also revealed a settlement plan made with the state transportation officials on Thursday. The Utilities and Transportation Commission, proposes a $222,000 fine against the company. That's after a Ride the Ducks vehicle was involved in a crash last year in Seattle that killed five students.

Northwest Hospital in the Northgate area of Seattle.
Facebook Photo/Northwest Hospital

Washington health officials are investigating a man charged with swapping syringes in Colorado who used to work in Seattle as a surgery technician.

They have also warned hundreds of patients to get tested for blood borne pathogens.

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