Search results for: 'fires'

  • 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

  • Preparing With Disaster Apps

    Your smartphone can save your life.

    It’s true! Now, it probably won’t jump in the ocean and pull you safely from a rip tide, and it more than likely won’t put out the wild fire that’s coming dangerously close to your home. Instead, it can save your life by providing you with all sorts of disaster apps dedicated to helping you be prepared in the event of a crisis.

    Red Cross Disaster AppsVector Button - Canada Flag IconAnd, because it's Canada Day, and the Red Cross' logo is red and white (is that too big of a stretch? Nah, it's good)... I want to take today to talk about what the Red Cross is doing to help people use their phones to be prepared. They have put out a host of apps all dedicated to helping you be safe, even without a wireless or data connection.

    For example, the Emergency App monitors 35 different types of severe weather and emergency alerts, such as floods, tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat, earthquakes, and more. So no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you will be alerted if there’s a disaster that could affect you and your area. Aside from just alerting you to issues, it also includes tips to make disaster prep plans, where to find shelters in your area, and a “Family Safe” function to allow you to see if your loved ones are safe if an alert is issued for their area.

    More specific disaster apps focus on a particular disaster, such as hurricanes or tornadoes. In these specific disaster apps, you can monitor and track hurricanes and other storms, find shelters, and earn badges by taking interactive quizzes about that particular disaster. These apps also provide you with information on what to do before, during, and after a disaster.

    Monster Guard Disaster App Red Cross

    There’s even an app for kids, called Monster Guard. Monster Guard is a game that teaches kids aged 7-11 how to prepare for real-life emergencies, whether you're at or away from home. Throughout the game, kids are able to practice what they learn within the levels, thus helping them instill that knowledge in their minds.

    So not only does it give you information you need, but actually helps teach you that knowledge so you don’t have to rely on it in the moment. Because in the moment, you might not even remember you have that app. And if you do, you’re probably going to want your hands free.

    Preparing for disasters isn’t what it used to be. Technology has made it easy to learn about disasters, and therefore be ready for them. Just a few quick taps on your phone or tablet will open up a wide world of information, utilities, and aids that will help you and your family be ready for pretty much anything.

    Now all you have to do is actually use them.

    It’s one thing to have the app on your phone or tablet, but it’s something else entirely to actually utilize it. How many apps do you have on your mobile device that you never use? I’ll be honest, my phone is packed full of apps, and I only use a handful of them. I think I’ll use them eventually, but really, they just sit there gathering digi-dust.

    When you download these Red Cross apps, make sure they don’t get lost in some folder titled “May Use Eventually.” Use them frequently so you can always have that all-important knowledge in your mind, so when the time comes to actually use that information, you won’t have to worry about knowing the right thing to do. While these apps are designed to help us during and after a disaster, they also have important information to help you prepare before one shows up, so the aftermath won’t be so bad.

    With this kind of media easily accessible, it is my hope that you take the time to download and familiarize yourselves with these apps. Preparedness fits in the palm of your hand. Don’t forget to look down at it once in a while.

     

    p.s. Happy Canada Day!

     

    How do you use media to be prepared? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning, Practice Your Prep Tagged With: Canada day, red cross, disaster app

  • What Should You Do During a Wildfire?

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    “It was so frightening that I couldn’t even cry.”

    Santa Clarita Fire (AP) Associated Press

    That was one woman’s reaction to the brushfire in Santa Clarita, California earlier this week. As of yesterday afternoon, the fire was 95% contained. Firefighters are currently working to extinguish the remainder of the flames.

    We’re not even into July, and already there have been 2,486 wildfires in California in this year. The report from NBC Los Angeles says that number is “up from 1,654 the state has averaged over the last five years.” So far 8,600 acres have burned.

    Wildfires can happen anywhere. And, more often than not (try 90% more often), these fires are started by humans. Nature plays her part in starting fires, too, such as lightning strikes or super-duper hot weather. Whether it’s intentional (ie. arson), from lack of caution and fire safety (such as while out camping), humans are a big contributor to the roughly 1.2 million acres burned each year in the United States. To put that into contrast, 1.2 million acres burning up is like the entire state of Delaware being torched. Sure, it’s not a huge state, but with a population nearing 1 million people, that's a lot of livelihood. Southern California alone has over 22 million people, and its dry, hot climate makes it extremely prone to wildfires.

    Wildfires are fast. They can travel at speeds of 14 miles an hour (without wind), engulfing everything in its path. 14 miles an hour might not seem fast when you’re driving in your car, but when you're running...that's quite a pace to keep up. 14 miles an hour just got very, very tiring. That’s one reason wildfires are so dangerous. They can catch up to you without much warning.

    How are you supposed to prepare for a wildfire? First off, you should plan ahead so you know what to do when one does come. If you don’t, you could end up like this family:

     

     

    As seen in this video, not planning can result in a very scary, dangerous situation. So please, plan ahead!

    You should also do things aside from just putting your plan on paper. Make sure the surrounding area of your home is free of debris and dead grass, trees, and anything else that can be used as fire fodder. Having well-watered grass can slow the approach of fire, too.

    Fire Approaching House (NY Times) New York Times

    Once the fire gets too close and evacuation warnings are issued, strongly consider leaving your home. As per your plan you just made in regards to wildfires, grab your most important documents and belongings, hop in your car, and get out of there. Your own safety is far more important than your possessions.

    That being said, you may have the desire to stick around and defend your home. You can do that, but beware: it was very dangerous, especially if you don’t know exactly what you need to do. Perhaps I’ll write up a “How to Defend Your Home from Invading Forest Fires” blog in the near future, but until you know what to do, it’s better to be safe.

    Now, before we get too carried away in our loathing of these wildfires, there is a bit more information you might want to be made aware of. Although wildfires can be quite dangerous and destructive to us humans, they actually play a very important role in nature. National Geographic teaches us that

    “[Wildfires] return nutrients to the soil by burning dead or decaying matter. They also act as a disinfectant, removing disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from a forest ecosystem. And by burning through thick canopies and brushy undergrowth, wildfires allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, enabling a new generation of seedlings to grow.”

    That’s not to say we should be starting fires all over the place. Au contraire, we should do all we can to avoid igniting wildfires in the first place. After all, Smokey the Bear believes that “only you can prevent wildfires.” And, while natural fires benefit nature, man-made fires do not.

     

    Have you been threatened by a wildfire? What did you do to prepare?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning Tagged With: forest fire, brushfire, California, wildfire, Prepare

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