Good Scares: As volunteers and house haunters, firefighters deserve thanks

A certain place on Alameda Road will have the attention of firefighters this week.

It’s not a fire scene but the annual Haunted House staged by firefighters, and friends, as a benefit for Muscular Dystrophy Association.

One of the scariest things about Haunted House happened two years ago when organizer and ghoul-in-chief Paul Henke nearly decided not to stage it in 2012.

Now approaching its 10th year, it’s become an essential part of the Halloween landscape in Hood River, and through the scares that heighten with each new version, it’s important to remember that Haunted House is all about shocks for a cause. Between the Halloween event and the “Fill the Boot” campaign all summer, local firefighters have given extensive energy to raising funds, and awareness, for MDA.

Henke has help from many of his fire department compadres around the county, along with other volunteers. The firefighters’ role in the project constitutes an interesting bit of timing: Haunted House and its many preparations happens during October, which is also Fire Prevention Awareness Month.

It’s not like these folks don’t have plenty to do already. Volunteering to serve on any fire department is a commitment.

Our front page features the Haunted House (with a Kaleidoscope feature coming Oct. 30) as well as “The Slice” article on West Side training officer Josh Beckner, whose job entails training volunteers.

It’s a challenge for most volunteers, as workers, students or and parents, to devote the time for learning and developing their skills. But train they must, and train they do, and the communities owe the volunteers a note of gratitude for dedicating their time in this way.

Hood River County’s departments are fortunate to have a skilled, experienced, devoted cadre of volunteers and paid staff, but the reality for every fire department is they are always in need of more people to accept the responsibility to serve. Anyone interested can contact any fire department and find out how they might fit into the volunteer slate.

But when the alarms sound and the smoke and fire roils, citizens depend on the people who will put on the turnouts and turn hoses in the direction of danger.

Thanks, firefighters and your families, for what you do.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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