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  • Second Tornado Season: Autumn Tornado Rips Through the South

    Winter has arrived in many places the country, but for some Southern states, warmer weather mixed with powerful storms brought destruction and death. In Alabama, a tornado killed at least three people Wednesday morning, according to NBC News, with two more later confirmed dead in Tennessee. One of the reasons this tornado may have been so disastrous is because it happened in the early hours of the day while people were still sleeping.

    Rain and high winds continued on Wednesday, with a tornado watch that lasted until noon local time.

    Tornado season lasts through July, but according to Weather.com, autumn is an unofficial “second” tornado season. This second season begins in the latter half of October and lasts all the way through November. Throughout October and November, severe thunderstorms are more likely to occur. As such, tornadoes are also more likely.

    The severe storms and tornado that hit the South occurred on November 30, the last day of the second tornado season.

    november-tornadoes-via-weather second tornado seasonTornadoes can happen in most states in November (see map). The most active outbreak during second tornado season was in November, 1992. 105 tornadoes struck in 13 different states from Texas through to the Carolinas. 26 people were killed and 638 people were injured during this three-day outbreak.

    Because it’s not as common to see tornadoes after July, complacency is an issue that can affect anyone. However, as we’ve seen in this case, tornadoes can and do happen throughout the year, even when we least expect them.

    Being prepared for tornadoes year round is an important part of preparedness. And it’s not just tornadoes. Earthquakes can strike without warning, day or night. Hurricanes can come before or after the season officially ends. Wild fires can blow up any time of the year. Many disasters won’t give advanced warning, so make sure you have everything you need while the skies are clear.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Second tornado season

  • Daylight Saving Time: A (Dark) Reminder to Prepare

    Smoke Detector Daylight SavingIn Norfolk, Va., less than two weeks ago, a fire gutted a home and killed two pets. Yet the four people in the home all survived. The home had working smoke detectors.

    In Spokane, Wash., at the end of last month, a fire killed a 3-year-old and the child’s dog. Parents and three other children got out. The home had smoke detectors, but the batteries weren’t working and had been removed.

    Daylight Saving time ended yesterday.  But you can still take a few minutes to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and do a few other semi-annual tasks to prepare for home evacuation emergencies like fires.

    In the United States, according to the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), three out of five deaths from home fires occur in homes without smoke alarms or working smoke detectors.

    Synthetic materials now used in home construction and furniture catch fire at a lower temperature. Their smoke is also more toxic. While 30 years ago you had 14 to 17 minutes to evacuate from a house fire, you now have two to three minutes, Underwriters Laboratories Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg told This Old House. (This Old House has a great piece that breaks down the steps a fire goes through from small grease fire on a stove to a home fully engulfed.)

    “If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape,” according to ready.gov.

    Daylight Saving

    So, while you’re setting back those last few clocks you keep forgetting about, change smoke detector batteries, and do a few other things too.

    Count smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace any that are more than 10 years old, suggests the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). Also replace any that don’t go off when tested. Every level of your home should have at least one, and the USFA suggests putting a smoke alarm in every sleeping area.

    You should test detectors monthly, a brochure from Energizer and the IAFC says. But if you’re like most of us and forget, test them now. Same with cleaning dust and cobwebs off. Go ahead and do that now, too. Test them when family members are around so they can learn to recognize the sound.

    Twice per year – Daylight Saving time is a good way to remember – get with family members and review home evacuation plans.

    Ready.govFire Alarm Daylight Saving gives the following tips:

    • Find two ways to get out of each room. You’ll need a second way out if the primary route is blocked by smoke or fire.
    • Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
    • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened. Make sure all family members old enough to do so can open locked or barred doors and windows.
    • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
    • Teach children not to hide from firefighters, and teach them to stay low when trying to evacuate.
    • Also, make sure you’ve got a family meeting place away from the home.

    Change batteries in other home safety and comfort devices, like thermostats and security systems. Many smart appliances use batteries.

    Keep flashlights by each bed, the brochure from the IAFC recommends, to help family members find the way out and signal for help. Change flashlight batteries around Daylight Saving time, too, since kids will have used them for reading, searching for lost items under the bed and playing flashlight tag.

    Get out 72-hour kits, and replace products that will expire in the next six months. Remember to check non-food items – batteries have an expiration date, too. Also, be sure to keep copies of important documents in a fireproof container or, even better, offsite or in cloud storage.

    Every year, home fires kill more than 2,500 people and injure 12,600 in the U.S, according to ready.gov. Whether you like Daylight Saving time or think it should be abolished, it can be a great reminder to protect your home and family from fire.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Daylight Saving

  • Natural Disaster Seasons are Scheduled Year-Round

    When isn’t there a warning of some imminent natural disaster? It seems like some sort of devastation or disaster is scheduled each month, ready to knock us off our feet. Knowing when each disaster is more likely to strike can help us be better prepared, and with better preparedness comes greater safety.

    The following is a list of natural disasters the United States can expect on a yearly basis, along with applicable dates in which they are “scheduled.”

     

    Tornado season disaster seasonTornado Season: March – July

    Technically, tornado season differs for various regions. For example, the Southern States are in peak tornado season from March to May, whereas the Northern Plains and Midwest experience their tornado season around June and July. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that tornadoes can occur during any time and any month.

    To learn more about tornadoes, click here.

     

    Hurricane season disaster seasonHurricane Season: June – November

    Half the year is taken up with the Atlantic hurricane season, beginning June 1 and continuing through November 30, according to NOAA. Just like any of these scheduled disasters, some may arrive earlier than June or even after hurricane season has long since ended.

    To learn more about hurricanes, click here.

     

    Fire Season: October – January

    Fire Approaching House (NY Times) disaster season fire seasonFire season is a fickle thing. It depends on outside factors, such as recent precipitation and heat. But, October is generally the start of fire season and, depending on which part of the country you reside, could last through January.

    California, while still following these same guidelines, tends to be in the danger zone year round. “Where there’s drought, there’s fire,” says Slate. California has been in a state of drought for many years, making fires a likely threat.

     

    Earthquake Season: January – December

    Christchurch, New Zealand - March 12, 2011 disaster season earthquake season

    If you thought you had at least February off from any imminent disaster, this will come as bad news. Earthquakes happen every month of the year, in every state, and can happen at any time of the day or night. As of yet, earthquakes are unable to be predicted.

     

    There is no day or month that is immune from natural disasters. Because of this, being constantly prepared is vital. Sure, some natural disasters can be better predicted during certain seasons, making it easier to prepare, but remember, these disaster seasons aren’t always followed exactly. Hurricanes can come before or after hurricane season, tornadoes can form outside of tornado season, and fires can certainly happen year round. Also, there are other disasters, such as earthquakes, that simply can’t be predicted. Combined with blizzards and severe thunderstorms, there’s a full year of scheduled disasters waiting to strike.

    Fortunately, getting the basics can be quick and easy. Make sure you have what you need before disaster strikes. Prepare today for tomorrow’s emergencies.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner disaster season

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