VashonBePrepared: May is Volcano Awareness Month

The COVID risk level is assessed at basic.

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, taking fifty-seven lives, and disrupting many more.

Our state has five active volcanoes: Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mount Adams. To encourage Washingtonians to be better prepared, Governor Inslee has proclaimed May as Volcano Awareness Month.

“The people of our state should become familiar with volcano hazards in their communities, become two weeks ready for any disaster and have awareness of evacuation routes in order to prepare to respond effectively,” said Inslee in the proclamation.

A recent online question-and-answer session about Mount St. Helens, hosted by geophysicist Brian Terbush and other volcano scientists, is available here.

On Vashon, we are not threatened by lahars (concrete-like slurries of mud and debris that flow rapidly down the slopes of a volcano), but locals may remember how ash from the Mount St. Helens eruption made it harder to breathe, clogged car air filters, and made driving and outdoor life more difficult for those living downwind. Make a plan for how to seal your home against ash. Add some N95 masks, goggles, and car air filters to your emergency kit and car kit.

Learn more here.

Prep Tip: Pets and Livestock

Vashon is a haven for companion animals and livestock. When preparing for the family, remember to also plan for livestock and pets. Here’s a list:

Identification: A) Get your pet micro-chipped; B) Take a picture of yourself with your animals. Keep contact information up to date with the microchip company. Store microchip numbers in emergency documents. Record microchip information at your vet’s office.

Form a buddy system: Find a friend who can care for your animals if you can’t get home. Post information about food, medications, and care. Include a pet carrier or transportation plan, in case the animal needs to be evacuated. Practice this mutual aid before you need it.

Build a pet kit: Include food, water, medications, first aid, dishes, brush, toys and treats, extra collar with ID tag, leash, bed or blanket, carrier or crate. Collect extra items to have ready, in case you need to relocate with your pet. Store items with your own emergency supplies. Check them at least once per year.

Evacuation – to where? Where else would your pets also be welcome? If your barn and field were in the path of a wildfire, where could your livestock go? Does your carrier, crate, bag, or trailer still fit them? Does your destination have food, water, vet care, and necessary equipment? Plan to evacuate sooner than later, to allow time for problem-solving. Decide in advance on a plan A, B, and C. Will you turn your animals loose if time is too short or the road is blocked? Can you bring pets or livestock indoors or under cover in case of severe weather?

Last but not least, sanitation: Prepare an extra supply of cat litter, litter boxes, newspapers, paper towels, dog poop bags, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, and trash bags.

Long COVID: What We Know So Far

Most people who get sick from COVID recover quickly, but some people’s symptoms last much longer, or return later. Long COVID, or post-acute COVID syndrome, is characterized by long-lasting symptoms that persist for four or more weeks after a person has COVID.

Study results published in Dec. 2022 as part of the ongoing long COVID research effort called RECOVER identified four main sub-types of long COVID:

  • Heart, kidney, and circulation-related symptoms (34% of patients). Respiratory symptoms, anxiety, sleep disorders, headache, and chest pain (33% of patients)
  • Musculoskeletal and nervous system symptoms, including arthritis (23% of patients)
  • Combination of digestive and respiratory symptoms (10% of patients)
  • Long COVID affects older people more often – about one in three people over age 65 sought medical care for new or ongoing symptoms – but younger people also get long COVID. People can get long COVID from a mild case of the disease, or even if they had no symptoms of illness.

Research is ongoing to discover why some people get long COVID but others do not, how best to treat symptoms, and how to support patients. As always, the best way to avoid getting long COVID is to avoid getting COVID in the first place.

COVID Risk Level: Still Basic

VashonBePrepared’s risk level tool is based mostly on COVID hospitalization rates. Some other factors are also evaluated, including COVID virus levels in wastewater in our region.

At the Basic Risk Level, it is recommended to wear an N95 mask indoors in public if you are exposed to COVID or at risk for health or other reasons, or live with or spend time with someone at high risk.

Keep vaccinations up to date, including boosters.

Maintain good ventilation at home and at work, and avoid those with suspected or confirmed COVID.

If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with those at high risk for 10 days.

Always home-test if you have symptoms. If you test positive, isolate for at least five days and until you test negative. If immunocompromised, discuss additional prevention actions with your healthcare provider.