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  • The State of the Drought: California Looking Good, but Still Not Enough

    With all the rain this country has been getting (looking at you, California), let’s take a look at the state of the drought.

    Beginning with California, it’s safe to say that things are looking up. According to the LA Times, drought conditions in California is now just over 51% of the state. Compare that to last year where most of the state looked like a sunburned lobster. Yes, things are certainly looking up.

     

    Drought Comparison State of the Drought

     

    But that doesn’t mean the drought is over. Au contraire! Nearly 25 million people still live in an area with drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But that’s just in California. There are many other areas in the country where drought is still a big issue (including California).

    The South is also in a drought. Back in November 2016, farmers and ranchers alike were having a very hard time due to the severity of the drought. Today? Things are, much like California, looking up. All the rain in the deep south has erased most of the worst bits. But drought still lingers, especially in Oklahoma and Arkansas, where extreme conditions still blight the land.

    Will all the rain we’ve been having kill the drought for good? In the South, there’s a chance. As for California, however, there’s still a long way to go. From a Wired article, we read what it means to get out of a drought. “Common drought indicators,” they say, “evaluate the balance between water that comes into the state…and water that goes out.”

    How does water come in, you ask? Rain and snow, mostly. Unless you count bottled water from Fiji (which doesn’t actually count). Water leaves the state in runoff, evaporation, and – get this – consumption. People drink and use a lot of water. The minimum amount a person needs to survive is about a gallon of water each day. With 25 million people in still in areas of drought, each day uses at least 25 million gallons of water. More when you realize people use much more than just one gallon of water a day.

    Golden Gate Gate State of the Drought If only there was some way to make all this water drinkable...

    In a 2011 study, it was average annual total water use per home was 362 gallons per day. Let’s assume that each household has cut its water usage by 20% (like they were supposed to). That’s still 289 gallons per day. Now say each household has four people. Some might have more and some might have less, but let’s just go with four. That equates to about 72 gallons of water a day per person. Now, just speaking of the area still in drought (25 million people, remember), that comes out to 1.8 billion gallons of water per day for 25 million people. Again, that’s just taking into consideration the 51% of the state still affected by drought.

    It’s no wonder some say California’s drought is never-ending.

    At any rate, we’re still very excited about how far California’s drought has come. While there will still be dry spells and hot temperatures, things really are looking up (despite that behemoth number you just saw). But just because the state is practically drowning in water (more on that in a future post) doesn’t mean it’s time to take off the restraints. The battle isn’t over yet, but at least those in California can finally see some headway.

     

    Written by Steven M.

    Drought State of the Drought

  • Prepare Your Home for an Earthquake with These 5 Easy Tips

    I'm not sure where you live, but being born and raised in Southern California - I know one thing; earthquakes can be really dangerous, and even more so than other natural disasters as they're highly unpredictable. Sometimes you need to prepare beyond a bug out bag, and in this article, I'm going to show you how to prepare your own home in case such a disaster does strike.

     

    Earthquake Rubble Prepare your home for an earthquake

     

    As you probably know, the weather department can predict and warn people against certain types of natural disasters such as:

    However, even with advanced technology, we don’t yet have a fool-proof system for determining the locations and magnitudes of upcoming earthquakes.

    Scientists do have a general idea on which areas are most prone to earthquakes – but unfortunately, they can't tell the exact time when the catastrophe will occur.

    So, the only way to minimize loss of life and property during a quake is to prepare beforehand.

    Here are 5 easy tips to prepare your property for seismic activity:

    1) Get your home insured against earthquakes:

    This step is especially crucial if your region is highly susceptible to quakes.

    Depending upon the magnitude, a quake can cause hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars’ worth of damage to a property.

    If disaster does strike (scientists suggest that someday, it sure will), your insurance can be an absolute blessing. It can help you to rebuild your home or buy a new home and continue to live life normally. Many insurance policies do not provide earthquake coverage but it may be available as an optional extra.

    If you already have a policy in place, upgrade it so that it covers earthquake damages as well. All the information mentioned in this article can't help you that much if you don't have (or don’t plan to get) earthquake insurance. Please don’t make the mistake of ignoring this step.

    Take a look at the places that have been affected by hurricane Katrina – many people have not been able to rebuild their properties due to lack of funds. Unfortunately, they are forced to live in run-down homes and temporary shelters even years after the cataclysmic event shook their world forever.

     

    2) Make sure that your home has a strong foundation:

    Most new homes are built upon a foundation but many older properties are held in place simply by their own weight. In order for your home to be able to withstand tremors, it must be fixed firmly to the ground – otherwise, it will wobble, crack, and crumble. Also, the walls and roof should be attached strongly to each other. Here are a couple of ways to reinforce the structural integrity of your house:

    1. Prepare your home for an earthquake and anchor bolts Anchor bolts

      Add anchor bolts between the house and its foundation. Steel plates will also do the job. This procedure is not as expensive as you think. Spend a few hundred dollars and prevent your home from crumbling, being overturned, or sliding off during a quake.

    2. Fix cracks in your walls or in the roof (if any).
    3. Brace the cripple wall of your home. A house’s cripple wall is usually its weakest part. (This is the wall between the foundation and the first floor.)
    4. Reinforce chimneys and other attached structures such as garages, joint sheds, etc.

     

    3) Use flexible connectors for gas and water to prevent leaks.

    Gas leaks can be several times more dangerous than the earthquake itself. Invest in an automatic shut-off device (activates upon breakage of connectors) or install a main switch to turn off gas and power supply completely. If your home has any plumbing or electrical faults, get them repaired as soon as possible.

     

    4) Many people ignore this completely – Understand that glass becomes your sworn enemy during natural disasters.

    Pieces of broken glass get strewn about and may cause serious wounds and bleeding. You can easily prevent this by installing a clear, shatterproof film over glass surfaces.

    This way, even if the glass does break – it will be held together by the film.

    Shatterproof films are not expensive at all – they can even be purchased online for a few dollars.

    Installation is quite easy and requires only a few common tools. Not only do the films prevent shattering, but they also keep out harmful UV rays. Sounds like the perfect weekend project, doesn’t it?

     

    5) Pay attention to the layout of furniture within your home:

    Heavy objects such as dressers, water heaters, etc. should not be left hanging or unsecured. Place them close to the ground and anchor them to the wall with bolts. Don’t hang paintings, glass lamps, chandeliers, and other decorative pieces directly above beds and sofas. All cupboards should have safety latches to prevent contents from spilling out. Also, don’t put pesticides, cleaning agents, and other chemicals on top of wardrobes and on high shelves. Think twice before investing in a glass-top table. You should have a sturdy piece of furniture to hide under during an earthquake – a strong wood top table or bed is ideal. A glass-top table may look nice, but in an emergency, it's pretty useless.

    If you’re buying or renting a house, make sure that it complies with the local earthquake regulations. Last but not the least, buy a battery operated radio. I know it's a bit old fashioned but it may be your only source for receiving communication during a quake as power lines and mobile networks are usually down.

     

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    About the Author: J.D. Phillips Runs SurvivalCrackas.com and lives with his family in Southern California. You can follow him on Facebook and download his Guide How to Build the Ultimate Disaster Kit free of charge from his website, linked above!

     

    Earthquake_Blog_Banner Prepare your home for an earthquake

  • Flipping the White House in 5 Hours: How Long Does Your Emergency Plan Give You?

    Inauguration day news was dominated by pomp and circumstance on the one side and protests on the other. Yet behind the scenes, all over the city, months of preparation were coming to fruition.

    It’s a lesson everyone can use in their own emergency preparation.

    The White House in Washington DC, United States

    Imagine flipping your house in five hours. It can take that long to get a kid’s room clean. On inauguration day, White House staff members had about five hours to turn the Obama White House into the Trump one, according to stories in the New York Times, USA Today, and Time.

    It’s a mad dash involving decorators, carpenters, cleaners, painters, and electricians. Although the public rooms are mostly off limits by law and tradition, the family’s private quarters are pretty much fair game, according to USA Today.

    Everything from rugs to curtains to shower heads can be replaced. Furniture can be the family’s own or taken from a warehouse of White House historical furniture. They can even add or remove walls, according to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

     

     

    The process of preparing the White House for the transition started almost 18 months ago, when the White House chief usher compiled a book of staff members and information about the building.

    Once the first family decided what they wanted, staff members choreographed the transition like a military operation, according to the New York Times.

    As soon as the old first family leaves, White House staff packs their things. Right after the new president is sworn in, two moving trucks pull up: one empty, one full.

    "The outgoing president sees the house the way he always saw it," Dean Mercer, a former Secret Service agent for President Clinton's and President George W. Bush's details, told USA Today. He added the new president "walks in and everything that is his is there."

    By the time the incoming president arrives, favorite snacks are in the fridge, toothbrushes are in the bathrooms and clothes are in the closets.

    Emergencies often involve deadlines. A fire or flood can force you out in five minutes. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it, so you can carry it out with military-like precision.

    Do you have everything you need quickly accessible? Are all your important documents stored in a safe place, or away from your home?

    As soon as President Trump was sworn in, the White House online communications – Twitter, Facebook and a web site – became active, according to Time. Do you have a communication plan and an emergency contact that everyone in your family knows?

    Also in preparation for the Inauguration, about 28,000 security officials from many agencies turned Washington, D.C. into an anti-terror fortress.

    USA Today described the efforts.

    They included closing streets and bridges, setting up barricades to limit access to the National Mall and bringing in construction equipment and Dumpsters to prevent vehicle attacks. The Secret Service planned how to deal with protesters, for both Inauguration day and the women’s march the next day.

    Jimmy Rivera works in downtown Washington, D.C. He slept on an air mattress at work on Thursday night rather than make his way home through all the barricades and closures. On Friday night, he had to travel out of his way and face numerous delays to get home.

    “I just want my bed,” he said.

    Flipping the White House - Evacuation Plan

    When making an evacuation plan, think about your family’s needs and comfort.

    Where will you sleep? Do you have something to sleep on? It’s winter. Can you keep warm? Do you have spare blankets and clothes?

    What will you do to entertain yourself? Rivera had his phone. He could communicate with family and watch movies.

    Rivera uses a CPAP machine. He took it to work with him on Thursday along with his prescription medication. If you need prescription medication or medical equipment, is it readily accessible in an emergency? He could plug his machine in. Do you have a backup power source?

    Do you have pets? Many emergency shelters and hotels won’t allow animals.

    All in all, Inauguration weekend went fairly smoothly. Although more than 200 protesters were arrested, compare that to the hundreds of thousands of protesters and visitors who showed up over the weekend. There was some damage and rioting in one part of the city, but Rivera said the most disruptive thing he saw was a woman who flashed him. And the Trump family hasn’t complained about their new housing, so it’s a reasonable supposition that they got in OK.

    Planning and putting plans to work helped continue the 200-plus year U.S. tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Think about applying it to your emergency preparedness efforts.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner White House

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