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  • Majority of Puerto Rico Without Power Following Electrical Plant Fire

    puerto-rico-blackout-via-nbc - Puerto Rico Most of the island was without power - image via NBC

    On Wednesday, September 21, a huge fire at a southern Puerto Rico power plant caused a blackout in 1.5 million homes and businesses.

    "The entire island is without power," Angel Crespo, director of Puerto Rico's fire department, told the Associated Press.

    As of Thursday afternoon, more than a million were still without power, including my mother-in-law, Ruth Lezcano.

    She told her son Jimmy that her main concerns were lack of water and uncomfortable heat and humidity.

    The blackout knocked out pumps at water plants, leaving her and many others without water.

    Fortunately, she had water storage. She keeps five five-gallon buckets (like the “Homer” buckets from Home Depot) full of water in case of hurricanes. She’s been using a bucket for each activity that uses water, like washing dishes, bathing, and flushing the toilet.

    “She hasn’t been able to do laundry for a bit, other than light stuff she can wash in the sink,” her son said.

    The blackout left islanders uncomfortably hot. The temperature on Wednesday and Thursday in the suburb of San Juan where she lives was 87 degrees, according to Weather.com. At night, it fell to 77 degrees.

    The power loss created more problems than just temperature discomfort.

    During the blackout, Jimmy was worried because he couldn’t contact his mother via her cell phone.

    “She probably had it turned off to save power,” he said.

    We sell small generators and other emergency power equipment that are excellent during this type of emergency.

    Ready.gov recommends keeping cell phones charged and having an alternate power source. Also, have an emergency contact outside the immediate area that all family members can use to pass information about their safety.

    buying-ice-via-fox-news - Puerto Rico Locals had to buy ice to keep their food at a safe temperature - image via Fox News

    Lezcano, who is diabetic, also had to worry about her insulin. Insulin manufacturers recommend storing it in the refrigerator. Insulin supplies in use may be kept at room temperature (between 56°F and 80°F). High temperatures could cause her insulin supply to go bad.

    Ready.gov recommends that people with special medical needs make backup power plans and contact their power company before an outage so it can prioritize getting power to their home.

    Although one Twitter user jokingly compared the blackout to “The Purge,” a movie in which crime is legalized for 12 hours and emergency services are suspended, Lezcano said there didn’t seem to be any more crime than usual. She was concerned about running low on supplies: traffic was snarled, and lines were long at supermarkets and gas stations, according to USA Today.

    Police officers directed traffic at major intersections all day Thursday. Four were hit by cars.  One person was hospitalized after being trapped in an elevator overnight, according to USA Today. Another was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaking generator. Broken generators also caused 15 fires around the island. All the fires were extinguished, and no one was injured in the blazes.

    Lezcano was hoping the power would return Friday. In the meantime, she sat outside and people-watched, her son Jimmy said.

    “She was bored because she couldn’t have her Netflix,” he joked.


    February - Power Banner - Puerto Rico

  • 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.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Fire

  • How to Keep Your Family Safe If You are Temporarily Displaced

    IMAGE_1 - displaced

    Safety should never be viewed as a stationary concept. It should be mobile, shifting, and changing to adapt to whatever situation you throw at it, all the while, continuing to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible. However, safety does not just appear readily prepared on a silver platter. It involves meticulous planning and forethought in order to ensure that every base is covered and no stone is left unturned. When it comes to your safety, it is always best to plan far in advance, and to plan for the possibility that the worst possible outcome can occur (Murphy’s law if you will). This gives you the opportunity to always be prepared and it decreases the chances of a situation getting the better of you and your loved ones.


    In the world we live in today, events of catastrophic proportions are not necessarily uncommon. There is nothing crazy about being prepared. On the contrary, it is the best thing for you. Often times, after a life-changing disaster occurs, some families are rendered temporarily displaced. For instance, there are many families that are displaced in Southern California due to the methane leakages, and even more that were displaced up north due to wildfires. There are many people who plan for disasters, but there are not many people that have plans that keep their families adequately safe while they are temporarily displaced. The fight to continue to keep your family safe does not end once you come out unscathed. The playing field merely changes.


    Temporary displacement can pose huge challenges to families even if they plan ahead for it. There are many people who wonder what exactly you need to do in order to plan for temporary displacement, and how you can stay safe during this period. Well, take your time to read through this and we will walk you through all the steps that will help you keep your family safe in the event that you are temporarily displaced from your home.



    Crafting a Safety Plan


    The first, and most important, part of ensuring that your family remains safe while they are temporarily displaced begins with crafting a safety plan. Having a well-crafted and well thought out safety plan can go a long way to determine just how safe your family remains while you’re on the go.


    The ideal safety plan for your home should cover every facet of danger that your family could face. This ranges from fire damage, water damage, earthquakes, and a host of other possible outcomes. It is imperative that your safety plan outlines how you should evacuate your home and how to remain safe while doing so. There are a few key things that need to be taken into account while you are constructing this safety plan.


    First, you want to make sure that every room in the house has at least two viable exits since this drastically increases the chances of someone getting out alive. Also, it is important to make sure that you and your family picks a central location that is in close proximity to your home to serve as a rendezvous point. In doing so, you gain the ability to make sure that everyone is accounted for.


    In addition to the steps listed above, it is imperative that you and your family members are in constant communication about the safety plans you have in place. This is especially important for children, as there are many ways kids may undermine your security. It is also a good idea to make sure that you make emergency kits, and place them where they can be easily accessed. The emergency pack should have copies of all-important documents (health information, banking info, driver’s license etc.) so that you still have access to a semblance of your life even when you are on the go. The emergency kits that you make should be stored in a safe, dry and easily reachable location, preferably not in your home so that it is still accessible if your home is compromised. It is crucial for you to only put basic necessities in your emergency kit. These necessities should include food and water supplies as well as extra cash, medication, radio (burner phones if you can afford a few), first aid kit, and other supplies that might be more specific to your family.


    Crafting a well laid out safety plan is the first step to making sure that your family remains safe at all times while they are displaced.



    Stick Together


    IMAGE_2 - displaced


    It is easy for people to get lost and torn apart when disaster strikes and everything around you is moving at such a fast pace. This causes short-sightedness and forgetfulness, and it is easy to leave things behind and to inadvertently split up with people. In order to keep your family safe while you are temporarily displaced, it is important that you all stick together while you navigate your next move. However, life does not always hand us an ideal situation, so it is best to be prepared for the possibility that you might lose track of someone. In order to deal with this, make sure that each member of your family has some means of communicating with each other. Also, set up several rendezvous points that are all in close proximity to your home. This will allow your family members to meet at designated locations if you are ever split up or if there is a break in communication for a little while, which is highly possible.



    Find Shelter


    Once you have your family together, the next step of making sure that you all remain secure involves finding an adequate shelter that will house you for a while. The type of shelter that you are privy to is sometimes dependent on the nature of the disaster you are faced with, and how far reaching it might be. In some cases there is no form of alternative shelter close by. This can sometimes be camping out in a hotel room for a few days, or it can be living in a tent provided by the Red Cross. Regardless of what it is, make sure that you continue to keep your family safe. Safety will involve constant communication as well as being wary of strangers. It is important to keep your valuable items and your emergency resources well secured (this can be done by adding cable ties, padlocks, etc. to your emergency supplies) while you are away from your home, and most likely among other people who you do not really know.



    Emergency Kits and Survival Skills


    IMAGE_3 - displaced


    It is extremely important for every member of your family to be adequately equipped with an emergency kit and an emergency pack of their own. In the event that you are split up for a little while this will make sure that everyone has enough resources to survive independently. It is important to keep your loved ones safe when they are right by you, but it is even more important to keep them safe when they are not around you. This means that you have to equip them with the necessary tools for them to do so. Each emergency kit should have the necessary items that will help your family member last on their own for at least 3 days. The most important part of this kit should be water, food, and first aid supplies.


    In addition to this, it is best to train your family members in basic survival skills before a disaster hits so that they are not left wanting. These survival skills should include everything it will take for them to survive on their own and the means by which they can accomplish this. These include, but are not limited to:


    • Having an attitude that will help them calmly assess and evaluate situations
    • Learning how to manage water supplies and how to obtain clean, drinkable water
    • Learning how to build a fire
    • Practicing life saving skills like Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)





    Family means a lot to people, so it comes as no surprise that wanting to keep them safe is a major priority. Hopefully, you are never faced with the grim situation of being temporarily displaced. In the event that you are, the basic steps listed above should be an amazing starting point that will help you keep your family safe while you are in this transition stage.



    Author Bio


    Ralph Goodman is an expert locksmith and the resident professional writer on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to's for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - displaced

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