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  • Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms

    1_28_15 Weathering the Worst of Winter StormsThe torrential blizzard predicted to bury New York City turned out to be just delightful snow flurries dusting the iconic Manhattan landmarks. For Boston and the rest of New England, however, Winter Storm Juno lived up to its headliner forecast, dumping 3 feet of snow and more before moving on.

    For every American living in snow country, however, Juno served as a wake-up call, reminding us that the best time to prepare for the "big one" is while the sun is shining, before dark clouds appear on the Weather Service radar and time is running out.

    These simple tips will help you get ready for the next time the snow piles up, the power goes out, the roads are closed, and help may be days away.

    Before the Storm...

    ...Put Together a 72-Hour Kit
    The first three days after a big storm are the toughest. With roads closed and walkways buried, running to the store is dangerous, if not impossible. In addition to paralyzing snow and ice, winter storms often cause widespread power outages and broken water pipes. So, a useful 72-hour kit should contain water, heat, light and communications, as well.
    Here is a short list of the types of things you'll likely need until you can venture out after a big winter storm:

    Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate. Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate.
    •  Three days of non-perishable foods like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and freeze-dried meals
    • A manual can opener
    • Three days of water (at least three gallons per person)
    • First-aid kit, with essential prescription medicines
    • Flashlights, candles and light sticks
    • Cell phone, with hand-crank charger
    • Portable radio or NOAA weather radio
    • Extra radio and flashlight batteries
    • Baby-care items
    • Pet supplies
    • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
    • A fire extinguisher

    Keep in mind that if your workplace is a long commute from home, you'll need the same items at the office (minus baby and pet supplies, perhaps). Plus, keeping an Emergency Car Kit in your trunk will assure you're ready if weather conditions force you to wait for help along the roadside.

    Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage. Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage.

    ...Get Your House Ready

    A few regular home maintenance tasks can do more than just keep a neat home. They can also protect you and your family in the event of a big snowfall or ice storm, as well.

    Take time to see to the following:

    • Ice, snow and wind can snap tree limbs down onto the roof, windows and power lines. Trim away tree branches close to your home.
    • Keep rain gutters clean. Otherwise, snow and ice can build up and allow water to seep under the roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
    • See that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working and store fresh batteries.
    • Have your chimney flue checked and cleaned, if necessary, to lessen the risk of fire.
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep out cold air.
    • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
    • Wrap pipes in insulating foam to keep them from freezing. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
    • Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
    • Check your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

    ...Plan for Lights Out

    We all know that, even in the best of times, power outages are not uncommon. While the occasional unplanned candle-lit evening is a charming break from the routine, extended power outages particularly in stormy weather can present significant problems even dangers. These simple steps can further prepare your family for blackouts, whenever they occur:

    Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms3

    • Power sensing flashlights come on automatically when the power goes out. Plug-in a few around your home. Candles and light sticks should be a prep staple, as well.
    • Furnaces, even gas and oil-fired ones, cannot operate without electricity to power the blowers. An indoor rated kerosene or propane heater will keep living spaces livable.
    • Keep a bit of cash stashed in a safe place, since stores and other services (if they are open) will not be able to process credit and debit cards.
    • Make a practice of refilling your car's tank at the half-empty point. This assures you will have at least a tank half-full when electric gas pumps won't operate.
    • Store ice packs that can be moved into the fridge, or into a small cooler for meds.
    • Know how to release garage door openers so that you can manually open your garage.

    Juno reminds us that winter weather can be hard to forecast. But we can all predict that we'll each take our turn being caught in a dangerous storm. These few simple steps can mean the difference between frantically surviving and comfortably weathering your next winter storm.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, Survival, Winter

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12/12/14)

    Los Angeles Retrofit for Earthquakes - Monica Almeida - NYT

    If approved, the required safety measures in Los Angeles would cost billions in the

    private and public sectors,the mayor said. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of December 7 to December 12.

    1. Earthquake Plan Would Require Retrofitting Thousands of Los Angeles Buildings

    If approved by the Los Angeles City Council, an earthquake plan will require thousands of apartment buildings and offices to be retrofitted for earthquakes. They are the most sweeping earthquake safety changes ever seen by the state and, if passed, they will come with a hefty price tag: $5,000 per apartment unit and $15 per square foot of office space. Read more at www.nytimes.com.

    Learn how to prepare your home for an earthquake here.

     

    2. Study: Offshore Fault Where The 'Big One' Originates Eerily Quiet

    The Pacific Northwest Coastline is eerily quiet, according to earthquake scientists. They attribute the silence to a probable locking of the tectonic plates. Unfortunately, this likely means, they conclude, that the plates are increasingly storing energy, which will eventually need to be released. Read the latest at www.kplu.org.

     

    3. 'San Andreas' Movie Trailer: Could The Earthquake In Dwayne Johnson's Latest Film Actually Happen?

    An earthquake disaster movie staring “The Rock” will be released in theaters May 29, 2015. Trailers are already out, with depictions of buildings crumbling and people panicking. The movie is called “San Andreas” and likely refers to the famous fault line running through California. The question is, how “Hollywoodized” is the movie or could similar take place when the “Big One” strikes? Read more at www.ibtimes.com.

     

    4. Virginia Scores High on Health Emergency Preparedness

    Virginia recently received a top score among states on a national emergency preparedness competition. The state scored 8.2 out of 10, with the national average being 7.4. The readiness index gauges public readiness to respond to a variety of emergencies, such as hurricanes, terrorism, food-borne disease outbreaks, radiological events and earthquakes. Read more at www.timesdispatch.com.

     

    5. Centre for Buildings Under Govt Schemes to be Earthquake-Resistant

    The Indian Home Ministry wants all new national and state buildings to be earthquake resistant and to set up 78 digital seismograph stations by 2016. They currently maintain a network of 42 digital seismograph stations. Read more at www.zeenews.india.com.

     

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    The Path to Zero Ebola Cases
    Emergency preparedness is ongoing for local group
    How to Effectively Layer Up and Stay Warm This Winter
    10 Tips for Safe Driving in Winter Weather
    Destructive Winter Moth Has Maine Bug Experts Asking For Help
    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12-6-14)

    Super Typhoon Hagupit_6Dec2014 Super Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Phillippines. 650,000 evacuated.

     

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of November 30-December 5.

    1. Super Typhoon Hagupit makes landfall in the Philippines

    Super Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) is considered a "very strong" typhoon, equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Over 650,000 have been evacuated. Read the latest at www.weather.com.

    For information on Hurricane (Typhoon) Preparedness, check out our 5-part mini series on the subject:

     

    2. American possibly exposed to Ebola being transferred to Atlanta hospital

    A U.S. healthcare worker working in West Africa who was possibly exposed to the Ebola virus is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which treated the first two Americans who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. Read the latest at www.reuters.com.

    Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from Ebola from the CDC.

     

    3. Winter crisis in Far East Russia causes state of emergency

    Russia’s Far East has received the heaviest snowfall in decades, causing a state of emergency and the need for military aid to dig its citizens out of trouble, which includes heavy traffic, slide-offs, power outages and food shortages. On the bright side, the storms cleared pollution in Moscow. Read more at www.rt.com.

    Be ready for winter storms by brushing up on your winter driving skills, reviewing these winter survival tips, and snagging any gear you may need to stay warm.

     

    4. It finally rained in California – but not enough

    After months of drought conditions, Tuesday’s rainstorm brought hope to Californians. 24 hours brought 1.5 inches of rain to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, breaking rainfall records in Southern California. Unfortunately, the storm was not enough to end the 3-season deficit. Read more at www.mashable.com.

    Be as prepared for a drought as possible. Store water before the crisis hits, and practice conservation both before and during a drought to get the most out of the water that is available.

     

    5. Michigan provides emergency preparedness app

    The Michigan Department of Community Health has developed a smart phone app to help residents to plan for emergencies. The app provides emergency contact and health information, and gives users the ability to create, manage and export emergency plans right from their mobile devices. Read more at www.detroit.cbslocal.com.

     

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    One critically injured in West Jordan car fire
    Chile: Mega volcano field 'could trigger eruption 100 times larger than Mt St Helens'
    Evacuations in Cape Verde after volcano erupts
    'Emergency repair' reported at Ukraine nuclear power plant
    Plane makes emergency landing on I-575 in Canton

     

    Some of these stories are scary realities, and some of them are hypotheticals (like the Chile mega volcano). We share them to help you think of possible scenarios that you may need to prepare for based on your location and your family's needs. We hope they help in your efforts to prepare.

    Any additional stories from this week you think others should know about?

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

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