• How to Escape a Sinking Car

    A Massachusetts woman made an unexpected 9-1-1 call on December 14th when she swerved to avoid a head-on collision and her car careened into a river.

    Debora Wrigley Dooley called for help when she realized the water was too fast and deep for her to save herself. The water was high enough to partially fill the car, but not high enough that Debora was in immediate danger of drowning. Rescue crews arrived within 4 minutes, and the current had already swept the car 150 yards downstream. Rescuers were able to quickly retrieve Debora from the car without serious injury.

    An average of 300 Americans die each year in submerged cars. In her particular situation, Debora did the right thing by staying where she was and calling 9-1-1. But what if she had driven into a deep lake, instead, and started to sink?

    In water deep enough to engulf a car, experts suggest leaving your phone behind and saving yourself. And you may be surprised to hear that the previously popular method of waiting for the water pressure to equalize, then opening the door, is no longer the suggested escape method. So, would you know what to do? If not, read on, because a few simple tips can make a world of difference.

     

    How to Escape a Sinking Car

    You have about one minute to escape a car that has fallen or driven into deep water. Dr. Gordon Geisbrecht of the University of Manitoba has performed over 80 test vehicle submersions. He says performing these four steps in quick succession gives you the best chance of escape:

    How to Escape a Sinking Car

    Let’s look at each step in more detail:

    Seatbelt – Once your car hits the water, remove your seatbelt as quickly as possible—just don’t remove it before hitting the water. According to the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands, around half of the injuries in car submersion accidents are due to injury, not drowning. Give yourself the best chances of survival by always wearing a seatbelt, then unbuckling quickly once you hit the water.

    Window – There are two potential options here:

    Roll down your window. The back window is ideal, but side windows will work fine if the back window doesn’t or won’t go down. If there are multiple people in the car, have everyone roll down and escape via their own window if possible.

    Break the window. If your window won’t roll down, you’ll need to break it. Have a center punch or window spike in the car for this purpose, and keep it easily and immediately accessible.

    Children – If there are kids in the car not old enough to unbuckle themselves or who can’t swim, help them get out first by pushing them out the windows (they may not be strong enough to push against the flow of water without help). If there’s another adult or an older child, hand kids who can’t swim out the window to them.

    Out – Get out of the car as fast as you can. Don’t reach for your phone or other valuables, and be ready to push against the current that’s rushing in through the window.

     

    See the steps in action:

     

    And check out Richard Hammond from Top Gear testing “get out fast” versus the outdated “wait for the pressure to equalize” course of action:

    So, next time someone shares the “wait for the pressure to equalize” bit, go ahead and correct them using Dr. Geisbrecht’s tips and these videos. Knowing the info can save your own life. Sharing the info can save even more.

    Here’s to knowing what to do, but hoping you never have to put it to use.

    --Sarah

     

    Sources:

    https://gma.yahoo.com/massachusetts-woman-rescued-car-plunges-river-153438485--abc-news-topstories.html. Accessed 12-16-14.
    http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/about/giesbrecht_faqs.html#sinking. Accessed 12-16-14.
    http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/UK/FS_Cars_in_water.pdf. Accessed 12/16/14.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: survival skills, Current Events, Car Preparedness

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know This Week (Dec 14-19, 2014)

    Justin Sullivan_Getty Images_Almond Farmer_CA Drought

    A tractor plows a field in Firebaugh, California, on February 25. Almond farmer Barry Baker had 1,000 acres — 20% — of his almond trees removed because he didn't have access to enough water to keep them alive. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

     

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of December 14–19.

     

    1. 11 trillion gallons of rain still needed to end California drought

    Recent rainstorms have brought hope to Californians, but the state still needs 11 trillion gallons of rain, or about 17 million Olympic-size swimming pools full of water, to end its extreme drought, according to NASA. More rain is in the forecast this week, but from gentle storms, not the torrential storms needed to make headway towards filling California’s parched reservoirs. Get your fill of the story at www.cnn.com.

    2. Potential Christmas week storms may bring snow, travel headaches

    Preliminary forecast conditions for holiday weather show rain and snowstorms across the lower 48 states, indicating travel conditions could be hairy. A cold front is expected to drive into the East Coast and significant flight delays may impair the Chicago area. Many areas may experience a white Christmas, though with the holiday several days away, forecasted conditions could change. Chill out with the whole story at www.weather.com.

    3. American Red Cross teaches children about emergency preparedness through game app

    Seven to eleven year-old children can learn emergency preparedness skills the fun way through a new app released by the American Red Cross. A game helps children learn to identify hazards and to use emergency supplies. The app works on both IOS and Android. Learn more at www.wday.com.

    4. Survival kits being ordered for every major bank in the U.S.

    Every major bank across the United States will soon have emergency preparedness survival kits. The kits will include everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets in preparation for potential terrorist attacks, and may cost the government up to $200,000. Order up the full story at www.freebeacon.com.

    5. FEMA hosts third emergency-preparedness symposium

    The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) recently held its third training symposium to train state and local agencies in hazard response, including counterterrorism; explosives; and chemical, biological, and radiological attacks. Learn more at www.bioprepwatch.com.

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas
    Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet of Snow, Kills 11; Hundreds of Flights Canceled
    California Storms Bring More Flooding; Mudslide Closes Portion of Interstate 91 in Orange County
    China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials
    Concerns Over Flu Outbreak and Vaccine

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    It’s been a tough water year for California. We’ve talked about the drought pretty extensively here on the blog, as well as some surprising effects it has had, like increasing rattlesnake populations in residential areas—in addition to the expected effects, like increasing food costs, more frequent and damaging wildfires (see here and here), and skyrocketing prices at water auctions.

    California started getting much-needed water last week, but it’s coming in a series of downpours that have flooded streets, caused mudslides that overtook homes and stranded motorists on the Pacific Coast Highway (a portion of the PCH is even shut down completely for 3-4 weeks because of the damage), and temporarily cut power to around 100,000 customers in the Bay Area. There was even a small tornado in south L.A. that blew the roof off one home.

    Just this month (1st-15th) it has rained 9.14 inches in San Francisco—compared to 2.08 inches that fell in almost six months last year (July 1 to Dec 15th). The ground just can’t absorb the water at the rate it’s falling, which leads to the mudslides and severe flooding that happened this week. Evacuations have taken place in several Southern California communities, and more will happen if the rain continues at these rates.

    A heavy storm is expected to come into Southern California Tuesday afternoon, leading to concern over more possible mudslides and flood damage. Northern California can expect rain and snow until Wednesday.

    Many California residents are unprepared for power outages, evacuations, and flooding—while others are ready, having prepared in advance for just these types of emergencies, with survival kits, family evacuation plans, and emergency gear they can rely on during the storms.

    Instagram user @annettecardwell posted this photo on December 10th with the caption “House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm”

     

     

    House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm

     

    A photo posted by Annette Cardwell (@annettecardwell) on

    Google brought their sense of humor—and a raft—along for the ride… because you never know.

    Twitter user @dwnydaisy seemed all set to go the day the storms hit.

    Unfortunately, there were also a lot of messages like this one from Twitter user @krisellelaran, who thinks Californians aren’t well prepared.

    Some California residents even had to evacuate because the storm downed power lines onto their homes.

    Being prepared doesn't always mean you get to stay home, or that there isn't damage to your property, but it does mean there’s less to worry about in a crisis.

    To prepare for heavy storms that cause power outages and evacuations:

    • Get an emergency kit for everyone in your household.
    • Buy or build a power outage kit for your home—you’ll appreciate having it during short outages where you get to stay home, as well as serious storms that require evacuation.
    • Develop a household or family emergency and evacuation plan.
    • Build up a supply of food storage and water storage you can rely on in long-term emergencies as well as short-term crises that last just a few days or weeks.
    • Research and develop important skills you can rely on for communication or survival.

    Prepare in advance, and you'll be ready for the next #rainpocalyspe or #hellastorm that comes your way.

    --Sarah

     

    Sources:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/waterlogged-northern-california-rain-27626164

    http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/12/13/pineapple-express-storm-system-pounds-california/

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-first-storm-of-three-southern-california-20141216-story.html

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-portion-of-pch-to-be-closed-20141215-story.html

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, rainstorm, Current Events, flood

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