Search results for: 'drought'

  • How to Not Burn Down America With Fireworks

    “It's going to be pretty tender fire conditions out there.”

    This fireworks season, that’s the fear not just for this Bozeman, MT fire chief, but for many more officials throughout the country. In many states, extended periods of heat and drought have made conditions very unfavorable for Fourth of July fireworks. With fireworks, there’s always a risk of starting a fire. Because of the heat and lack of moisture, that threat is even worse.

    Family FireworksAlthough you may have a tradition of having your own firework show, that may not be the best idea this year. According to one fire prevention specialist, “the best way to avoid the risk of starting a wildfire this holiday weekend is to attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.”

    I know, I know. Where’s the fun in that, right? Well, part of the fun could come in not burning down your entire state (or at least your neighborhood). Even fireworks that you might think are safe can be a huge danger to the dry grass and trees. For example, did you know that sparklers can burn at 2,000°F? That’s hot enough to melt gold! So uh…try and keep those away from dry tinder, OK? Thanks.

    Fireworks BanIn order to prevent wide-spread devastation, many counties – and even a few states – have imposed a ban on fireworks. Some Oregon towns have decided to do away with their municipality firework shows altogether. If that thought saddens you (which it very well could), you can take solace in the fact that by foregoing such activities, you are saying “Thanks, America” by not burning it up. And America thanks you, too. If you don’t think that’s a very good reason, then let’s go back to Oregon for a moment.

    The spokesman for Portland Fire & Rescue gives a very compelling reason for these bans. In the case of Oregon, “on the weekend before the Fourth of July last year, Portland firefighters battled three fires. This past weekend, the count was 80.”

    Yeah…that’s quite a jump in number there. So instead of adding to that number, be prepared to cut back on your firework usage this Fourth of July. Even though it may seem like this Independence Day restricts your independence in the use of explosives, it’s for a good cause. However, if you are able to still use fireworks (hooray!), please take precautions to avoid setting fire to your city.

    Some good rules to follow are:

    • Always soak your fireworks before tossing them in the trash
    • Store exhausted fireworks in a bucket of water
    • Keep a source of water nearby (see above)
    • Don’t point or aim fireworks at homes
    • Keep fireworks away from grass, brush, leaves, and anything else that could potentially catch fire (such as your home – see above)

    Another good rule of thumb is to always use common sense. Before you start lighting off fireworks, ask yourself, “Is there anything within close proximity that could potentially start a fire if this firework goes off in an unexpected direction?”.

    Because that happens, too.

    Fireworks SafetyAnd while you’re at it, practice firework safety for yourself, too. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of things blowing up and making loud noises and spewing out pretty colors and stuff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do that and still be safe.

    I say this because my sister had the unfortunate experience of having a firework fly into her face. Fortunately, it was a small one and it didn’t explode on impact. Unfortunately, it still exploded just after it ricocheted off, damaging her teeth and burning her face somewhat. That was about seven years ago, and after getting braces (for the second time in her life), she’s back to normal.

    Do you think she expected that to ever happen? I doubt it. And yet it did. So while you’re keeping the grass and trees safe, keep yourselves safe as well.

    And on that fun note, I hope you all have a wonderfully exciting Fourth of July and enjoy the festivities wherever you are! Go out and have a blast (literally)!

     

    'Murica & Fireworks

     

    How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: wildfires, fireworks, 4th of July, Independance Day, America

  • 5 Uses for Rain Water - No Butts About It

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    No Rain WaterIf you’re one of the millions living in a drought-stricken area this summer, you’re in for a doozy. The lakes are low, the sprinklers are off (or at least, they should be), and water restrictions are disrupting our casual regard for that precious liquid we call water. We are more aware than ever that we should be taking a more responsible look at how we turn on the tap, run the sprinklers, and even channel the little rain that falls on our yards and rooftops. And so I ask, “What should we be doing, now and in the future, to best use and conserve water?”

    Enter the water butt.

    Rain BarrelWhile doing some research about rain barrels, I was amused to find that our good neighbors across the pond (ie. the United Kingdom) describe them as “water butts.” Now I don’t know why they call them water butts, and I’m not going down that road to the obvious one-liners. But with a very dry summer on fast approach, in barrels or butts, it’s a good time to consider ways to collect every precious raindrop that may fall our way.

    Water butts are actually quite common in the UK, and like barrels, they collect rain from rooftops for future use. But once you have a butt-load (sorry) of water, or your barrel is full…what are you supposed to do with it? Let’s use the UK as an example we all can follow.

    The United Kingdom can be a rainy place, but they are also used to drought on a regular basis. That’s why, for centuries, the Brits have made it a regular practice to capture and use rainwater. By using their heads and their butts (sorry, again), they are able to channel rainwater for variety of different things, many for which we often use fresh tap water, in fact. It’s this blatant disregard for clean tap water, and the precious rain falling around us, that may soon send us up a dry river without a paddle. And so, using those Limies as our example, I give you…

    Five uses for your rain water!

     

    1. Drink It

    I hate to be Captain Obvious, but one of the most important roles water plays is giving us life. However, before you drink it, you’ll want to filter and treat it first. After all, most of that water is coming straight off your roof, which has who-knows-how-much dirt, pollution, and whatever-it-is-that-birds-leave-behind on it. But fear not, for once the water has been treated, it’ll be safe to drink. Boiling, chemical treatment, and water filters are all good methods for making your water drinkable. And you can keep on living.

     

    1. Cook With It

    This is pretty much the same as #1, except this relates to preparing food instead of straight-up drinking it. The same principles apply here. Even though you’re cooking your food, you’ll want to make sure you treat and filter rainwater before use. See the previous option for methods in making your water clean.

     

    1. Water Your Plants

    If you have a garden – flowers, vegetables…weeds – use the contents of your rain barrel to water them. Don’t waste precious potable water on plants that don’t care if it’s filtered or not. Since rain barrel water can become pretty dirty from just sitting there, be sure to avoid watering the tops of your vegetables. This prevents contaminating the edible, above ground portion of the veggie that’s hard to clean. This is especially true for leafy greens. And, as always, make sure you wash your vegetables thoroughly with clean water before eating them.

     

    1. Wash Cars and Windows

    Because rain water is free of calcium, chlorine, and lime, water from your rain barrel is a great option for washing your car. Since it’s soft water, it won’t hurt your car’s paint or damage windows. And, you’ll be saving some of that precious tap water for more practical uses, like drinking.

     

    1. Flush the Toilet

    This might not work as well in areas where rain doesn’t fill up your large rain barrel every week, but in places like Seattle, using your rain barrel to flush your toilet can save a ton on water. Actually, it can save closer to 9 tons of water, per person, per year. And that is when you use high efficiency, low-flow toilets. As it turns out, there are a number of places in Seattle already using this tactic. So if you live in a rainy state, this could be a unique alternative to literally flushing away your good, clean water and can also cut back on your water expenses.

     

    If those ideas don’t suit your fancy, you can always do what I did as a kid; collect pollywogs and keep them in your water barrel. Of course, you’ll soon have a large infestation of toads to deal with (see my future blog about all-natural garden pest control).

    The drought has had a positive impact on how we value and conserve water. If we do more like our English cousins and put tap water where our mouth is, and rainwater where our butt is (last one, I promise), we can help make sure there will be plenty of the precious liquid to go around. No buts about it, rain barrels can be a real life, and water, saver.

     

    What other things do you use your rain water for? Let us know in comments!

     

    Drought Click Bait 2

    Posted In: Gardening, Insight, Water Storage Tagged With: rain water, water butt, drought, water barrel

  • Hurricane Hazards

    Have you heard the one about hurricanes in the middle of a drought? They’re called “The Carolina Hurricanes,” and their 6-year playoff drought is a real disaster. But hurricane (and hockey) jokes aside, let’s get down to business: hurricane hazards.

    Famous for torrential rain and lashing winds, do you know where most hurricane damage occurs? If you say flooding, you’re right! You rocked it, as they say, like a hurricane! Most hurricane damage is caused by flooding, and not generally from the rainfall, but from rising ocean levels called “storm surge.” This storm surge affects more than those on the coast, too; storm surges can penetrate many miles inland, as we recently witnessed in New Jersey during hurricane Sandy.

    Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge National Hurricane Center

    A storm surge is a huge wave of water caused by a storm’s strong winds. They can reach as high as 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. Storm surges can damage buildings, erode and cause damage to beaches, and are one of the leading causes of death during hurricanes.

    A prime example of the devastation a surge can cause is in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. According to the National Hurricane Center, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.” This is one reason those ordered by government officials to evacuate should do so without delay. Staying behind could be disastrous.

    Because it’s easier to visualize a storm surge with, well, visuals, I have two videos that will help you understand what they are and how you can prepare. This first video comes to you from the U.S. National Weather Service will help you learn more about storm surges and where to go for more information regarding this hazard:

    Ready.gov and the National Weather Service have some great information on hurricanes, their hazards, and how we can be ready.

    This next video is an animation retrieved from the National Hurricane Center shows an example of the destruction a storm surge can do when a hurricane comes in:

     

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/animations/hurricane_stormsurge.swf

     

    Besides storm surges, there are many other hazards associated with hurricanes. As if being in a hurricane isn’t disaster enough, tornadoes are also a common inland occurrence that accompany hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service claims that “in recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado.”

    Hurrican Hazards - Rip Current NOAA.gov

    Another hurricane hazard are rip currents. Rip currents aren’t your ordinary ocean shoreline current. Strong winds can almost reverse the natural shoreline waves that, instead of pulling water towards shore, actually pull away from shore. These currents are deadly, and hurricanes can produce these currents at our shores from hundreds of miles away. For example, the National Hurricane Center reported that “in 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.”

    Even 1,000 miles offshore, Bertha produced strong rip currents that effected swimmers on the shores for over a week! That right there is a great reason to always check the water conditions before you hit the beach. After all, rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

    Hurricane Hazards - Winds The Telegraph

    This article on hurricane hazards just wouldn’t be complete without talking about the high winds that accompany hurricanes. A category 1 hurricane starts with wind speeds of 74-95mph. As the wind speeds increase, so does the category number, until it reaches category 5, which is 157 mph and higher. Even a category 1 hurricane will have dangerous winds that will produce damage. As the category number rises, so will the damage it causes. Check out this link here for more information on hurricane categories, their wind speeds, and what to expect from the damage they will cause.

    Hurricanes do have something of a bright side. Unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, this natural disaster tends to give us several days’ notice, so there should be time to board up, alert the family and evacuate if need be. However, don’t expect to be able to stock-up once news of a hurricane hits; stores will be picked bare within an hour of when ground zero is identified.

    Know the hazards hurricanes bring so you can keep yourself safe.

     

    How do you prepare for these hazards? Let us know your thoughts in comments!

     

    Hurricane Hazards - Main Page

    Posted In: Additional Reading, Disaster Scenarios, Insight Tagged With: storm surge, winds, rip current, hurricane hazards, Hurricane

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