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  • The Power’s Out…Now What? 5 Steps to a Better Blackout

    Your town is landlocked, so there’s no threat of hurricanes. Tornadoes tend to avoid your state, and earthquakes just don’t happen. So what’s to worry about?

    Blackout ManhattanChances are you use electricity in your home. No matter where you live, there is always a threat that your power will go out. In fact, the United States experiences “more blackouts than any other developed nation,” according to International Business Times. They went on to say that the number of power losses along the U.S. grid have escalated 285% since 1984. And, with the demand for power still growing, those numbers will just get higher.

    So hopefully you’re preparing for the inevitable blackout. But once it does come, what then?

     

    1. Light It Up

    Power Outage with Candles BlackoutFirst of all, know where your backup lights are (flashlights, emergency candles, etc.), and keep them in an easy-to-reach place. This way, you’ll be able to find everything else you need quickly – without having to stumble through the dark. When using candles, it is important to exercise caution, as they have the potential to start fires. While a larger fire will provide more light, it will also cost you a lot more in damages. Pros and cons, I guess.

     

    1. Power to the People

    Now that you have light, the next step is to give yourself power. You can’t always have a super-generator on hand to keep your entire home up and running for the duration of the blackout (although that would be nice), but you can prepare with power packs, batteries, and chargers that will keep your electronic devices working despite the lack of electricity. This way, your phone will always have a charge, just in case you need to make an emergency call – or play an emergency game of Angry Birds. That being said, try and keep the games and movies to a minimum so as to not run down your power sources before you need them for actual emergency purposes (not that Angry Birds isn’t an emergency, but…you know what I mean).

    20121026-_MG_2503_ccs blackout Generators like this Goal Zero Yeti are safe to use indoors because they don't run off gas. It can also be hooked up to solar panels!

    A note about generators: Most generators should never be used inside, no matter how safe you think it is. You may be able to find some indoor-safe generators, but unless stated as such (and certified), don’t risk it. Carbon monoxide is deadly and you may not even realize you’re being poisoned by it. The same goes for grills, camp stoves, and other gas-powered cookers and heaters. Basically, if it’s portable, chances are it’s not safe to use indoors (this includes the garage and carports. There is danger even if there is ventilation). There are, however, generators you can have charged well in advance that will last you many hours. Because these run off stored electricity, they are safe to use inside.

     

    1. Stay Safe

    If it’s cold outside, keep to a higher level if possible, as warm air rises. Wrap yourself up in blankets and layer up your clothing to keep in that body heat. Alternately, if it’s really hot outside and your power goes out, make your way to the basement or other cool area. Wear light, loose clothing as well. Regulating your body temperature is vital during a blackout.

    If it is dark, don’t try and venture around your home without a light. Falling down stairs or knocking your head on an open cupboard can make things a lot worse. Likewise, if the power's out, the streets will most likely be dark as well, so it might be best to just avoid going out into the blackness of night.

     

    1. Keep Your Food Safe

    According to Ready.gov, food in your refrigerator should stay cold for about 4 hours, so long as you keep the door shut. A freezer full of frozen food will maintain its temperature for up to 48 hours.

     

    1. Know When to Call it Quits

    Sometimes, the best thing to do is admit defeat. If the blackout is going to last longer than you’re prepared for, you might need to check in to a hotel or stay with a family member nearby. Doing so is not showing weakness – it’s showing wisdom. If you’re having troubles preparing food, staying warm or keeping cool, finding another location to spend the night or next few days would be a wise move indeed.

     

     What are some other important steps to take during a power outage? Let us know in the comments below!

     

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  • Keeping a Temperate Temperature

    One of the best parts about modern conveniences is that we have the luxury of controlling the temperatures where we live! I’m talking thermostats and air conditioning. If you have ever lived on the top floor of an apartment building in the summer or the bottom floor of anywhere in the winter, then you know how tough it can be to regulate the temperature within your home to a manageable, comfortable level.

    Cold Thermostat - temperature controlUnfortunately, we can’t always have that luxury. Natural disasters can come out of seemingly nowhere and relieve us of our modern conveniences, such as our ability to control the temperature inside our own home. Winter storms, earthquakes, and many other events could knock out the power, and next thing you know, you’re freezing in your own home.

    It’s important to stay warm during disasters and emergencies. Not only would it be unpleasant otherwise, but you could also face some serious health issues. During emergencies, use your resources to make sure your temperature is properly regulated.

    temperature control Portable propane heaters like this Big Buddy can keep you very warm during a winter power outage.

    Being prepared for these circumstances can make a huge difference in how these disasters effect your family. For instance, having winter-specific sleeping bags to sleep in can keep you from a long night of shivering. But winter days can also be colder than you would like. What then? Going about your day wrapped up in a sleeping bag would be less than productive. Generators can be useful tools to plug your space heater into, allowing you to shed the blankets and get on with your day.

    So before that next winter storm or other disaster comes your way, make a plan for how you'll have temperature control around you and your family during an emergency.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Temperature control

  • Wake-up Call: Mild Earthquake Spurs Unprecedented Demand for Emergency Kits

    Hurricane Katrina Seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina helped many people start preparing for emergencies.

    For Shelly Robertson, of American Fork, Utah, seeing people on TV during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath caused her to begin preparing an emergency kit. For Tina Koeven, from Pleasant Grove, Utah, a practice earthquake evacuation taught her she needed to make an emergency kit portable. For people in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a mild earthquake December 29 prompted enough demand for emergency kits that one store temporarily sold out.

    All these people learned to be prepared from their experiences.

    “To be effective learners we must (1) perceive information, (2) reflect on how it will impact some aspect of our life, (3) compare how it fits into our own experiences, and (4) think about how this information offers new ways for us to act,” wrote Marcia L. Conner, who trains organizations about how to help their employees be effective

    BC Earthquake - via CityNews The 4.3 magnitude earthquake in BC reminded folks how close they are to impending disaster. - via CityNews

    Let’s use her model of learning to break down the case of the British Columbia earthquake as a wake-up call. The earthquake was moderate: Natural Resources Canada measured it at 4.3 and there were no injuries or damage. One man said it felt like a truck passing by. It took place late at night about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the city of Victoria, just over the northern border of Washington State.

    So, some people in British Columbia perceived information: there was an earthquake. They reflected about how it would impact them: What damage could a large earthquake cause? They compared how it fit into their experiences: they might need to leave their homes or be without resources. And they thought about how to act: We might need an emergency kit.

    The result: a British Columbia emergency preparedness company, 72 Hours, had to backorder personal emergency kits because so many people bought them, reported CTV News, a Canadian TV news network.

    "We hear people say they've been meaning to get prepared and they've procrastinated, and this was the wake-up call," 72 Hours employee Brian Fong told CTV.

    Tina Koeven had a wake-up call from a mistake. Her church held an earthquake drill. Congregation members pretended an earthquake hit and evacuated to the church building with their emergency supplies. Koeven, who lives next door to the building, had her emergency kit in a large duffel bag.

    “By the time I’d dragged the bag to the church … I wanted to lay down and die because I couldn’t go anywhere else,” she said. “Or be like the [early American] pioneers and throw stuff out along the trail.”

    She’s considering other ways to carry her emergency kit.

    It’s possible to learn from others’ mistakes too. In fact, a brain imaging study published in 2010 in the online journal NeourImage suggested it might be more effective.

    Brain Our neural activity tends to be stimulated by our competitor's errors (as in the example shown here) rather than their successes. Credit: Dr. Paul Howard-Jones and Dr. Rafal Bogacz

    Researchers had study subjects play a simple game. They found that when a player’s computer opponent was taking a turn, the player’s own brain was activated as if they were performing the action. The study found players’ brains were more active when their opponent made a mistake.

    “This suggests that we benefit from our competitors' failures by learning to inhibit the actions that lead to them,” the study authors said.

    Shelly Robertson decided to build an emergency kit after seeing TV accounts of people stranded during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A cascade of mistakes kept them from getting assistance for days.

    “There wasn’t any way to get people help, and we live in the U.S.,” she said. “It really unnerved me.”

    She built an emergency kit containing things like food, emergency blankets, cooking and heating gear, and a radio. She also included candy and toys for her children.

    “You don’t want to just survive,” she said. “You’ve got to give them something to do while you wait for help to arrive.”

     

    --Melissa

     

    What events have given you a wake-up call to start preparing for emergencies? Let us know in the comments!

     

    Source:

    Marcia L. Conner, "Learning from Experience." Ageless Learner, 1997-2007.

    http://agelesslearner.com/intros/experiential.html

     

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