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  • Hot Heat Fuels Dozens of Fires

    It’s simple. In the western United States, heat begets fire. As of June 26, 27 large fires are burning in 10 states. The worst situation is in California, where years of drought and tree death combined with temperatures above 100 degrees have contributed to six large fires. Here’s a look at some of the fires and some things we can learn from them.

     

    Active Fire Map June 27, 2016 - via someone

     

     Erskine (Calif.)

    “It was a firestorm,” one evacuee from the fire in South Lake, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times in an elementary school/evacuation center. He didn’t know if his house was still standing.

    The fire blasted into existence the afternoon of June 23. Fed by a 40 mph wind, temperatures above 90 degrees and bone-dry grass, it traveled 11 miles in 13 hours.

    It burned through power and phone lines, knocking out both landline and cell phone service. Sheriff deputies, going door-to-door to warn residents, had to run from the fire. A couple died trying to escape. Three firefighters were injured.

    So far, more than 225 buildings and almost 60 square miles have burned. Another 2,500 homes are still threatened and six communities evacuated. The fire is only 10 percent contained, and evacuees may not return home because of fears wind shifts could send the fire in different directions.

    When it comes to fire, be prepared to run for it. Have go-bags packed and in an accessible place.

    An evacuee, Magan Weid, told the Los Angeles Times, “Everything was flying into your eyes. I didn’t have time to get glasses. I literally just grabbed a bag with miscellaneous crap. I didn’t have time to get anything together.”

    Include prescription medicines and copies of prescriptions. One evacuee worried because she and her husband left without his heart medication.

    “I don’t know where to go,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

    Have copies of vital records. In her haste, one woman left behind her Social Security card and birth certificate. All she had were her pajamas and contents of her car.

    Keep a full tank of gas. One man said he and his neighbors created a mini traffic jam in their haste to leave. Another jumped into his car only to discover its tank was low. Fortunately, he made it out.

     

    Reservoir/Fish (Calif.)

    Dual fires northeast of Los Angeles have burned about 5,000 acres since June 20. 858 homes were evacuated. On June 22, residents of 534 were allowed to go home.

    When you’re preparing to evacuate, be prepared for a long stay.  Have something to do in your go bag. Have a way to recharge a phone. Make sure you’ve got a place for pets. Many shelters won’t allow pets unless they’re service animals.

     

    Dog Head (N.M.)

    Fire via AP Home burning - photo via AP

    The Dog Head fire in central New Mexico burned almost 18,000 acres and destroyed 12 homes and 44 other structures. It is 90 percent contained.

    It could have been worse if thinning out dead trees had not taken place, said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who toured the area June 24. In California, according to a report released June 22, 66 million trees have died in the last five years, and only 77,000 have been cut down.

    If you live in wildfire country, clear an area about 30 feet around your home of anything that might burn, like wood piles, dried leaves, and brush. Keep the roof and gutters clean.

     

    Saddle (Utah)

    Lightning on June 13 caused the Saddle fire in southern Utah. A voluntary evacuation is still in place for the nearby town of Pine Valley. The fire spread in part because three times in a week, drones grounded firefighting aircraft.

    Don’t be stupid. This time of year, as temperatures climb and vegetation dies, the western U.S. is a tinderbox. Fire restrictions are in place in southern Utah and Arizona. Obey them. Don’t do anything that might ignite dry vegetation. When there is a fire, be aware of emergency vehicles.

     

    Cedar (Ariz.)

    Firefighters are beginning to consider the aftermath of the Cedar fire, which has been burning since June 15. The fire, which burned 46,000 acres, was 60 percent contained Sunday.

    It burned during a period of horrendous temperatures. Six people died from heat. Temperatures exceeded 120 degrees in parts of Arizona.

    Ready.gov has several suggestions for keeping safe during extreme heat.

    Excessive heat warnings and heat alerts are still in effect in many places in the west. Be smart and be safe, especially during the holiday weekend ahead.

     

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  • La Niña Could Brew Up a Very Active Hurricane Season

    El Niño did a lot of damage this year. It stormed across California, broke heat records in Asia and killed crops, and may have even helped spread Zika virus.

    But now it’s gone.

    Dead.

    No more.

    La Niña - via NOAA The La Niña effect - via NOAA

    But just like any good story, the threat you thought posed the biggest problem was just the beginning. Following El Niño’s wake is his just as powerful sister, La Niña - the event in which the Pacific waters are cooled, as opposed to El Niño's heating of those same waters.

    OK, so may La Niña isn’t going to pose a huge threat. Actually, there will be some nice benefits, including a boost to the Southwest Monsoon over India, which will be a blessing after years of drought. La Niña could also very well reduce global temperatures, helping out with heat waves that have struck Asia and other locations.

    Sure, some good will come from La Niña, but there will also be some adverse effects. Since she has yet to come, we don’t know for certain what these effects will be. But we have some good ideas.

    According to CNN, La Niña will most likely bring about much drier conditions in the Southern Plains, the Rockies, and the Southwest. Lower temperatures and increased rainfall is expected in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.

    When it comes to the Atlantic Hurricane season, however, things could escalate. Experts expect to see 14 names storms in the Atlantic, four of which are expected to be major hurricanes. Compared to last year’s 11 named storms and just two major hurricanes, if this prediction is accurate, it will be a significant increase in powerful storms.

    If this ends up being the case (as only time will tell), then the best time to prepare is now—before any potential storm develops. Get your emergency gear together: power sources, light, warmth, food, water, first aid, and other gear you’ll need to weather whatever comes your way.

    And if a hurricane doesn’t visit your area? Then you’ll still be prepared for other unfortunate events that could come your way.

     

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  • Town of Riverhead Issues State of Emergency Due to Lack of Water

    With a name like Riverhead, you wouldn’t expect there to be a water shortage. Despite being on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, this small Canadian town is out of water. A state of emergency has been declared.

    No water for Riverhead

    Riverhead isn’t even in a drought, and yet they have practically zero access to water. People in California can at least turn on their faucets and get water. Those in Riverhead can’t even do that. Due to a faulty pump in a local pump house, water has ceased flowing since Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Five days later, they still had no water.

    And when we say they’re out of water, we mean there is absolutely none available from an open faucet.

    Drinking water has to be imported from other nearby towns or purchased from stores. But that’s just one problem. Since the pump went out, “residents have been unable to shower, water their lawns, or do their laundry.”

    Sanitation is a major issue. At least getting clean drinking water is easier. But if they plan on bathing, washing, and doing laundry, using drinking water for that could get expensive.

    Riverhead Map Riverhead, Newfoundland (via Google Maps)

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this has happened to the residents of Riverhead. A state of emergency was also declared in 2013 due to similar issues. For the folks in Riverhead, being prepared for lack of water is probably going to become a priority.

    For everyone else, this emergency in Riverhead shows us just how fragile our freely flowing water source can be.

    From broken water mains to drought conditions, there are many reasons why you might be faced with an instant shortage of usable water, be it for drinking or other activities. In order to prepare for such events, there are certain steps you can take to alleviate the problem.

     

    Water Storage

    Part of any emergency plan should include enough water to last 72 hours per person. It is strongly advised to have at least one gallon of water per day for each person, so for 72 hours, you’ll need three gallons of water for yourself. If you have the room for it, it is recommended to have at least that as a minimum – more if you can.

    Water for Riverhead!One method of water storage is in large barrels. For homes with more room, a 160 gallon water reserve could come in mighty handy. Stack another one on top for an impressive 320 gallon water supply. That would keep you going for quite some time.

    Barrels come in smaller sizes, such as 55 gallons, 30 gallons, and 15 gallons. Any of these sizes will be enough for at least 72 hours, but of course, the more you’re prepared, the less you’ll have to worry during an emergency.

    Water jugs and other alternate water storage methods can be used if space is an issue, such as in apartments or small homes. Store them under your bed, a crawl space, bathtub, or other location that is out of the way yet easy to access.

     

    Water Filters

    Water filters aren’t necessarily an alternative to stored water rather than a backup. However, if running water disappears from your faucet and your water storage is running low, you can always take your filter to a nearby river, stream, or lake and fill your containers from there. Don’t forget that water is heavy (about 8 pounds per gallon), so be careful not to overfill your containers or you might be hard pressed to tote them back to your home.

     

    Pre-Packaged Water

    If preparing your own water for storage isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always the option to go with pre-packaged water. Bottled water from the local store is always a safe option, since it is usually purified before being bottled (still, it doesn’t hurt to check the labels first). Alternately, water can come in cans, or even small pouches for convenience in emergency kits as well as hikes and outdoor activities.

     

    No matter your situation or living conditions, there is generally a way for you to have access to clean drinking water (as well as water for washing and cleaning). It may take a little bit of extra planning, but water is literally life, and by investing in water storage, you’re putting your resources towards a more comfortable experience during and after disasters and unexpected water shut offs.

    The emergency in Riverhead shows us yet another way how running water can slip between our fingers and leave us with nothing.  If this were to happen where you live, would you be prepared to go days without clean, running water?

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - River Song...er, Riverhead

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