• Tropical Storm Erika is Coming. Are You Complacent?

    After 10 years without a hurricane in Florida, residents have lost interest in preparing. With tropical storm Erika traveling up towards Southern Florida, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - Path Tropical storm Erika's projected path

    Just yesterday it was thought that tropical storm Erika was expected to become a category 1 hurricane when it reached Florida, which means it would have wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. That’s definitely enough to do quite a bit of damage. Today, however, the storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength. But that doesn't mean it won't bring strong winds and a lot of rain. As Erika passed the small Caribbean island of Dominica, it left over two dozen people dead in the wake of severe floods.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that tropical storm Erika could find its way to South Florida by Monday morning, and if that happens, it “will be too late to start planning.”

    The lack of hurricanes for the last decade has instilled an air of “it can’t happen here, it will happen to someone else” within many of the people, according to Orlando Sentinel. For folks in Florida, the time to prepare is almost past. But there is still time.

    True, tropical storm Erika could still miss Florida and hit somewhere else, but if you were living there, would you want to wait and find out? By then it will be too late.

    Floridians, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - FloodingFor the rest of you readers out there, what have you become complacent about? Florida isn’t the only state to be effected by natural disasters. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and even winter storms can really make a mess of things. And then there’s job loss, stock market crash, and other economical disasters. These can be just as bad – or worse – than the natural ones.

    According to an in-depth study in regards to people’s emergency prep, a 2012 public safety survey suggested that “despite an increase in the number of disasters, too many Americans remain disturbingly complacent.” This complacency causes a failure to act in time to sufficiently prepare.

    Now it’s time to look deep into your soul and ask yourself, “Am I too complacent?” If you are, you can start preparing now. Turn over a new leaf, if you will. If you aren’t, then congratulations! You’re an inspiration to us all. If you’re not sure, then you may need to check your emergency preparations and make sure you have what you need. Even if you aren’t complacent, it’s still wise to check over your emergency prep every so often to make sure everything is still in good condition and ready to go should a disaster happen.

    In the past, perhaps you were able to “ride out” a storm or disaster. According to the University of Buffalo, this “can lead people to feel complacent when receiving emergency warnings.” Maybe the disaster wasn’t as bad as it was broadcast to be, or maybe you were just on the outskirts of the storm. Or, perhaps the local emergency services came in to save the day. A University of Newcastle scholar is afraid that people have become too reliant on emergency services. Such overreliance “leads to a disempowered society.”

    When disasters head our way, the last thing we want to be is disempowered. Take the steps now to be prepared, so when a stronger storm than you’ve seen comes, you will be the one in power, not the disaster.

    Tropical storm Erika - Vigilance Be vigilant to disasters, both seen and unseen

    Florida may not have had a hurricane in a decade, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Just because you haven’t been in the path of a tornado doesn’t mean you won’t. As the saying goes, we’re sitting on a railroad track and the train is coming. We just don’t know when it will reach us.

    Likewise, we’re all in the path of all sorts of disasters. We just don’t know when they will hit us. National Weather Service meteorologist Will Ulrich hopes that, “regardless of [Erika] or any tropical system, people already have a plan in place.”

    And that’s our hope, too. Regardless of the disasters approaching – now or in the future – we hope you will already be prepared.

     

    Have you ever wished you were more prepared than you were for a disaster? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below!

     

     

    Tropical storm Erika - Hurricane Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: economic, erika, tropical storm, preparation, Hurricane, disaster

  • Blood Moon Science...and Why You Should Still Prepare

    In ancient times, blood moons were looked upon in many different ways, depending on the culture of the people. The ancient Inca, for example, believed that during a lunar eclipse, the moon was being attacked by a jaguar. That’s why the moon appeared to turn a blood-red.

    If something happened that they didn't understand, people would come up with stories to explain these celestial phenomenon. Even natural disasters were explained using stories and were thought to occur because of a displeased god or goddess. Today, we’re pretty sure a jaguar in the sky has nothing to do with the lunar eclipse or the moon turning red. In fact, a lunar eclipse – and the resulting blood moon – can be explained by science. And so can all the other natural disasters we see happening around us.

    Blood moon science via WonderHowTo

    The way a blood moon happens is this. The sun casts her light at the earth, which then in turn gives Earth a shadow that extends far into space. Normally, we would have no idea, because outer space is dark, shadows are dark…we’d just never see it! But when the moon passes behind the earth – and therefore into the earth’s shadow – we can see the moon start to darken. This is a lunar eclipse, and is quite common.

    The red color comes from the earth’s atmosphere. According to space.com, “sunlight is scattered by passing through Earth’s atmosphere, [and] the other colors of the spectrum are removed.” But the moon has to be in the right place at the right time for this effect to happen, which is why it’s rare to have a full, blood-moon eclipse.

    So that pretty much debunks the ghost jaguar in the sky myth (although it’s still a fun story).

    Blood Moon Science - Hurricane Science Inner workings of a hurricane (via NASA)

    A lunar eclipse isn’t the only scientific event we face on Earth. Disasters happen all the time, and each one happens for a reason. The difference between blood moon science and other disasters is that natural disasters are a physical danger. The blood moon, while it is theorized that it will bring about disasters, cannot hurt us in and of itself. Hurricanes come about by warm, moist air, and wind, and progress from there according to laws of nature. Earthquakes occur due to the release of energy in the Earth’s crust, which then creates seismic waves. Floods can take over the land because – among other reasons – the ground is already fully saturated and rain water has nowhere else to go.

    The list goes on, and the scientific reasoning behind it does, too. We live in a world bound by rules, and we know they are. At least, there are people who do (ie. scientists) and they let us know what to watch for. When we talk about preparedness, we do it from a standpoint that we know something is going to happen. The only thing difficult to predict is when.

    PBS recently interviewed Judith Rodin, president of the Rockerfeller Foundation, about what it means to be resilient in the face of disaster. One of the first things she said was that no matter what the emergency – disaster, health scare, cyber-attack, financial crisis, etc. – “communities and institutions bounce back only if they can prepare for the unpredictable.”

    Being prepared for the unpredictable - whether it’s a disaster, economic crisis, or a blood moon - means being prepared now. Rodin spoke about how we focus on disaster relief, which, of course, is a good thing. However, she fears we just aren’t very focused on preparedness and readiness for disasters. According to Rodin, emergency preparedness is an investment, and this investment is something that “pays off whether or not something goes wrong. And that’s the ambition.”

    Blood Moon Science - Be prepared today

    So what does this mean for you? Well, it means that if you are prepared, you won’t need to fear the future. It means that if a hurricane or tornado blows through your neighborhood, you will have the resources to “bounce back.” It means that if the blood moon ushers in devastation and destruction, you’ll be prepared to take the calamities of the earth in stride.

    It also means that if none of those things happen, then you’ll still be ready for the next major event, because one most certainly will come.

    In the end, emergency preparedness is more than just avoiding catastrophe – that will happen no matter what. Instead, being prepared and being resilient “is learning how to fail safely, and not catastrophically, whether you’re a person or a city or a business.”

    We don’t have to be afraid of disasters, celestial events, and other happenings. We know what causes them, and we know how to prepare. It’s hard not to be effected by disaster, but we can at least lessen the damage done when one does come, as well as build back better, faster, and more effectively once it passes.

     

     

    How are you preparing for disaster, the blood moon, and other events? Let us know in the comments below!

     

    Blood moon science - Disaster Page

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: resilience, science, economic crisis, blood moon, disaster

  • A Little Water Can Go a Long Way

    You'll want more than just a little water here. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico (The Telegraph)

    Dehydration kills, fast. A French couple died this month in hours in White Sands National Monument because they ran out of water. They and their son only took two half-liter water bottles on their hike in the 100-plus degree desert, instead of the four liters per person recommended. Their son survived because his parents gave him two sips for every one they took, according to news reports.

    It just goes to show that a little water can go a long way.

    On average, people need about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily according to ready.gov. Some need more: children, nursing mothers, sick people, those who are exercising, and people in a warm climate. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.

    If you keep your head, you can get water in many ways. Here are some of them, from easiest to hardest.

     

    Store water

    The easiest way to have water after an emergency is to store it before an emergency. The Red Cross recommends a gallon per person, per day, for at least three days.

    Commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable water for storage. It’s easy to obtain, easy to store and lasts longer than home-bottled water. Just don’t open it and be aware of the expiration dates on the bottles.

    More than just a little water! More than just a little water!

    Home-bottled water can be less expensive and perhaps provide a way to recycle old soft drink bottles. We even have food-grade water storage containers, which makes storing water easy. If you want to re-use old bottles, the Red Cross says don’t use milk or fruit juice containers. Milk proteins and fruit sugars can’t be completely removed. Don’t use cardboard or glass containers.

    To bottle water at home, first clean bottles with dish soap and rinse completely. Sanitize soft drink bottles by swishing around a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water. After sanitizing the bottles, rinse them completely.

    Second, fill each bottle with tap water. If your water comes from a well or if your utility doesn’t treat it with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach to each gallon of water. Check the water after a half hour. If it doesn’t have a slight bleach smell, re-treat it and wait 15 minutes.

    Or, you can use water purification tablets, such as the Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets. They work best when water is at least 68 degrees, so leave very cold water out to warm, according to WikiHow.

    Use the original cap on the container. Close it tightly, and write the date on the outside of the container. Store it in a cool, dry place. Replace home-bottled water every six months.

     

    Use hidden water sources in the home

    If a disaster takes place while you’re at home, you have some hidden safe water sources: melted ice cubes and water drained from pipes and the hot water heater, according to ready.gov.

    Do not drink water from toilet flush tanks or bowls, radiators, water beds or swimming pools.

    First, know how to turn off water mains. Broken water and sewage lines can contaminate water coming into your home.

    To drain pipes, turn on your faucet to the highest level to let air into pipes then get water from the lowest faucet in the home.

    To get water from the water heater, make sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Turn off the water intake valve in the tank and turn on the hot water faucet. Once clean water is restored, refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity on.

     

    Purify water from impure sources

    A little water to purify and filter

    If you’re out of clean water, the Red Cross says you can treat water from precipitation, streams, or rivers, ponds, lakes, and underground springs. Don’t use untreated water. It can contain deadly germs. Don’t use flood water or water with floating material, an odor, or a dark color. Only use salt water if you distill it first. For those of you on the coast, this could be a good source of water if you have a desalinator.

    First, let suspended particles settle to the bottom of a container or strain water through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth. Then use whatever method you choose: boiling, purification tablets or bleach, filters, UV pens, distiller, or a combination of methods. For a wide range of purification tools, check out our water purification options.

    If you’re concerned about being short of water, follow these rules from survival expert Tom Brown, Jr. in Mother Earth News. Don’t drink carbonated beverages or alcohol. They cause dehydration. So do urine and salt water unless they’ve been distilled. Don’t eat if you don’t have water to drink with it. Limit activity to limit perspiration.

    However, drink what water you have. People have died of thirst with full canteens.

    “Try to store as much water as you can in your stomach,” Brown wrote.

    Because, as we’ve seen from the story about the French family, a little water can still go a long way.

     

    - Melissa

     

    What does your water preparedness look like? Let us know in the comments below!

    Posted In: Water Storage Tagged With: little water, thirst, emergency preparations, Dessert, water

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