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Avista safety tips during National Preparedness Month

Avista safety tips during National Preparedness Month

This month marks the 11th annual National Preparedness Month and creates an opportunity for Avista to remind customers about the importance of being prepared for unexpected emergencies, like the recent storms that rolled through sections of their Washington and Idaho services area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security sponsor this national initiative and uses September to remind all Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies at home, school, work and in our communities.

As we have experienced recently, weather events like summer storms can ravage entire communities with effects lasting for days. Being prepared for severe weather like thunderstorms, wind, ice and snow storms or other natural disasters can help our residents and their families deal with the results of such events.

September is National Disaster Preparedness month

September is National Disaster Preparedness month

Disaster can strike at any time, and the American Red Cross encourages everyone to take the first step during National Preparedness Month and create a disaster plan for their household that can keep people safe in an emergency.

“Having an emergency plan is an important step so everyone in the household knows what they should do if something happens,” said Martha Reed, Regional Disaster Program Officer. “We believe people should mark National Preparedness Month by creating or updating their plan.”

As we recently saw throughout central and eastern Washington, flash floods and severe weather can strike quickly, leaving residents with only moments to evacuate in some cases. Every second counts during a disaster so the best time to prepare is before one hits.

The Spokane Regional Health District is also participating in National Preparedness Month with a different, but important message every week. They'll be providing resources online and on social media to assist families with the following themes:

Check your child's vaccinations before heading back to school

Check your child's vaccinations before heading back to school

Getting ready for back to school means getting school supplies and backpacks, but it's also the perfect time to make sure children are up-to-date on their shots. Getting all of the recommended shots is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their kids' health.

A new survey from the Washington State Department of Health shows vaccination rates are on the rise (71 percent in 2013 versus 65 percent the year before) but are still below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent, leaving many kids unprotected.

Below is a summary of shots children need:

Washington state parks free to visit Monday

Washington state parks free to visit Monday

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission wants the public to know that Monday, August 25 is a state parks “free day,” Visitors will not need a Discover Pass to visit state parks.

The free day is in honor of the birthday of the National Park Service, which was established on August 25, 1916.

State free days are part of the legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual of $10 one-day permit required on lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington departments of Natural Resources and Fish & Wildlife. The Discover Pass legislation provided that state parks could designate up to 12 free days each year when the pass would not be required. The pass is still required to access lands managed by DNR and Fish and Wildlife.

The free days apply only to day use, and not to overnight stays or rental facilities.

The next free days coming up on September 27 for National Public Lands Day and November 11 for Veterans Day.

Volunteers needed for SNAP ombudsman program

Volunteers needed for SNAP ombudsman program

SNAP is largely known for their services helping low-income individuals and families, but did you know they also offer a vital service for the elderly?

Lisa Petrie has been the regional Long Term Care Ombudsman for Eastern Washington since 1990, responsible for overseeing 284 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes across Spokane, Pend Oreille, Ferry, Stevens and Whitman counties.

“This population is so very vulnerable, and it's so hard for them to speak up for what they need. The ombudsman is that voice,” said Petrie. “The whole idea is to visit with residents and make sure that they have the quality of care and quality of life that they deserve. Residents have rights, and we make sure they know that.”

Petrie has 38 volunteers that all make weekly and monthly visits to facilities from Colville to Colfax, getting to know the staff and residents. From their official paperwork, the responsibilities of ombudsman include:

Idaho awarded grant to help low-income students take exams

Idaho awarded grant to help low-income students take exams

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Idaho $75,552 as part of its efforts to boos college and career readiness for historically under-served students. The grant will help defray the costs of taking advanced placement tests for low-income students.

“This is an opportunity for students throughout Idaho to excel. This grant, along with Advanced Opportunities programs like Fast Forward, offered through the Idaho Department of Education, give students the opportunity to earn college credits in high school,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. “It's a chance for students to excel without the worry of a financial burden.”

The grants are used to help pay for low-income students taking approved placement tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations. By subsidizing test fees for low-income students, the program is intended to encourage students to take advanced placement tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a degree.