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  • Why You Should Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse

    You peek out the window, careful not to be seen. The moon is full, but it’s still dark outside. The streetlights aren’t on – they haven’t been for days. It’s late, and all you want to do is go to sleep. But you can’t. Not now. Not ever. At least, not with those things out there.

    There is a group of them, nearby, meandering towards your home. You hear the soft sound of fleshy feet, dragging and scraping across the pavement. They hunt at night, searching for anything living to feast upon. They amble along, arms outstretched, moaning and groaning in their brainless way, searching for food.

    Ironic that brains are what they feed on.

     

    Zombie Apocalypse

     

    Our world has become mildly obsessed with the idea of a zombie apocalypse. In fact, I was looking at some emergency preparedness articles on cdc.gov (try not to act surprised), when I came across something I really didn’t expect to find on a government website – Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.

    That’s right. Zombies. The government is spending your hard-earned tax dollars to promote zombie preparedness. Here’s a snippet from their Zombie Apocalypse post:

    “There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”

    It looks as if our fictitious fantasies have finally spiraled into something that is near kin to reality.

    And that’s fantastic.

    Zombie apocalypses and “real emergencies” (as they say) actually have a lot in common. Let’s look at some of the basics of preparing for zombies. What will you need?

     

    Water

    Zombies in Water - Zombie ApocalypseIf a zombie ends up in your water supply (river, lake, etc.), you’re pretty much hosed. I don’t think I would feel comfortable drinking that water even if it was just my brother in the water. But a zombie? Forget it.

    In reality, our water supply can be cut off like an undead’s arm with a sword. If you have an alternate source of water, however, you’ll be just fine. This goes far beyond zombies, too. This goes for drought, water contamination during floods, or a broken water main in the city. Zombies are terrifying, sure, but being without water during any emergency is just as scary. Having a supply of water – or water filter – is one of the most important steps in survival.

     

    Food

    Closed Forever - Zombie ApocalypseDuring a zombie apocalypse, you might be able to get some pretty cheap food at the abandoned grocery store down the block, but you’re also walking into a trap. With only one exit and lots of places for zombies to hide, you’ll be lucky at all to get out with food. And who’s to say it hasn’t been contaminated by zombies already, or molded over or whatnot?

    Zombies. Tell ya what. They really do make a mess of things.

    But before the apocalypse comes, what are some more crises that you haven’t thought of yet where your food storage could come in handy? What about a tornado taking out your grocery store? Truck drivers going on strike could jack up food prices – or keep food from coming in at all. If you lose your job tomorrow, will you have food storage to live off until you can find something else? Accidents can also happen (not just when running from zombies) that can make you lose work for an extended period of time. Will you have food ready for those unexpected times?

     

    First Aid Kit

    Look. If you get bit by a zombie, there’s not much I can do for you. Sorry. But if you’re running from a zombie and need to be patched up, I’ve got you covered.

    First aid kits are essential to have around. They contain those all-important tools to hold you together when all your body wants to do is fall apart (but don’t worry, you’re not a zombie yet). Patching up cuts, scrapes, and other minor injuries can be a game changer in any emergency. Don’t leave home without one.

     

    Anyway, you get the picture. You can go to the CDC website for a more in-depth list of some useful items to use in a zombie apocalypse…or other emergency.

    Are you prepared for a zombie apocalypse? If you are, you’ll most likely have everything you need for anything else – earthquake, flood, power outage, job loss – you name it. So if you are prepared, I salute you.

    Now, lastly – Ow, hey! I think something just bit me! Ug. I feel funny.

    I think…

    I…

    Braaiinnss. Braaaaiiiinnnnss!

    Zombie Blogger - Zombie Apocalypse

     

    How are you prepared for a zombie apocalypse? Happy Halloween!

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Zombie Apocalypse

  • How Preparing Early Helped Against Hurricane Patricia and Typhoon Koppu

    In the last three months, hurricanes hit western Mexico and Luzon Island in the Philippines.

    Patricia - Trees Blowing - Preparing Early via LA Times

    After both hurricanes, the death toll and damage were far less than feared. Hurricane Patricia, a storm equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane in the U.S., hit western Mexico on October 24. Wind and water destroyed an estimated 3,500 buildings as well as crops. But as of October 26, only six deaths had been reported.

    Typhoon Koppu, which struck the Philippines on October 18, was the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. In the Philippines, the typhoon submerged 300 villages and caused an estimated $137 million in damage to agriculture alone. However, only about 50 people were reported killed.

    Haiyan - Preparing Early via NY Daily News

    Contrast those storms with Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013 and, until Patricia, was the most powerful hurricane recorded since accurate satellite measurements began in 1970. It left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and caused $2.8 billion in damage.

    After these October storms ended, disaster experts applauded both countries for their preparations that helped limit death and damage from the hurricanes.

    The United Nations 2014 Human Development Report listed two ways to limit vulnerability to disasters: prevent them from happening and build resilience among people and communities.

    Obviously, hurricanes aren’t preventable. However, both Mexico and the Philippines had plans in place to disseminate information and arrange for evacuation.

    After the devastation from Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the government of the Philippines and aid agencies began focusing on disaster risk reduction, according to a story in The Guardian. They emphasized early warning dissemination, clear information about evacuation centers, pre-positioning aid in remote communities and teaching safer places to build homes and plant crops.

    Two days before Typhoon Koppu struck, Filipino president Benigno Aquino III broadcast a warning to the nation. According to the U.N., that broadcast, along with close coordination with meteorological, government and aid workers, helped people concentrate their efforts.

    More than 65,000 people were evacuated, with more than 12,000 staying in 136 shelters.

    Mexico made similar preparation. About 3,000 soldiers fanned out around southwestern Mexico in the days before Hurricane Patricia hit, and more soldiers and sailors came in after, according to an Associated Press story. USA Today reported at least 50,000 people stayed in more than 2,000 shelters.

    "'The 'warning-alert-evacuate-then hunker down' combination seems to have worked to limit the human losses from the wind component of the hazard," said Richard S. Olson, director at the International Hurricane Research Center in Miami, to the AP. "Local, state, and national authorities seemed to have gotten this one right."

    It helped too that the storm grew so big so quickly it didn’t have time to build up much of a storm surge and then quickly dissipated when it hit the mountains near the coast, Olsen said.

    Hurricane Evac Sign - Preparing EarlyIndividual families can have evacuation plans ready in case of emergency. They should include escape routes and emergency meeting places outside their home and neighborhood, according to ready.gov. They should account for individual needs and responsibilities, type of shelter and methods of transportation. Disability, age, and pets should also be considered.

    Families should also have communication plans with contact information for family members and friends, including an out of town contact. Each family member should carry a contact card, available to fill out at www.redcross.org.

    Resilience, the second way to limit vulnerability to disasters, includes developing skills to weather many types of shocks, according to the U.N. report.

    One way to develop resilience is to be financially prepared. That means having a savings and getting important information organized, according to Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah.

    A short-term savings covers things like a down payment on a home. An emergency savings helps to prevent high-interest debt like credit cards or short-term loans when things come up like car repairs or doctor bills, she said.

    Equally important is to take savings out first via direct deposit. Then live off the rest. It’s an out of sight, out of mind thing.

    “I know if I keep extra money in my checking account, I will spend it until it’s gone,” she House.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit” is a great financial organization resource, House said.

    The 44-page booklet includes four sections that identify what information to collect, like social security cards, insurance policies, prescriptions and emergency contact information.

    “If there’s a natural disaster like a fire, do you know where your birth certificates are?” House asked.

     

    Hurricane_Blog_Banner - Preparing Early

  • 5-Feet Deep Mudslide Closes Interstate 5

    Last week, a major storm system dumped buckets of water on parched Los Angeles, Kern, and Santa Barbara counties: 1.81 inches in half an hour in one area; 1.18 inches in another.

    Buried Semi-truck - mudslideAbout 300,000 cubic yards of mud and debris poured off hillsides, inundating roads, and slamming into homes. A mudslide up to five feet deep closed 45 miles of Interstate 5. Another shut down State Highway 58 in Kern County, trapping 200-plus vehicles in mud six feet deep.

    The storm also damaged at least a dozen homes. One person is dead, another missing.

    Although meteorologists say this storm was not related to El Nino’s warmer-than-normal water in the western Pacific, they expect El Nino will bring heavy rain to the southern and western United States later in the year. That could bring more flooding and landslides.

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, landslides can occur in every state. Their causes include earthquakes, storms, volcanoes, fire and human mismanagement.

    Parts of California are preparing for El Nino-caused flooding and landslides by clearing debris from basins and sewers to improve flood control measures.

    Here are steps everyone can take to prepare, according to ready.gov.

    First, find out if you’re vulnerable. The USGS has a U.S. map with areas susceptible to landslides. The best source for smaller, local landslide information is state geologic offices, according to the USGS.

    If you are vulnerable, protect your property by planting ground cover plants, taking care where you build, looking into flexible pipe fittings that bend in outside pressure, and buying flood insurance.

    Buried Car - mudslideMany of the people caught in the California mudslides were just driving through. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency kit for the car as well as the home.

    If you want to make your own, use this list from ready.gov.

    • Car maintenance supplies: basic tools, jumper cables and flares or a reflective triangle.
    • Winter equipment: cat litter or sand for traction, a shovel and an ice scraper.
    • Food: canned goods – don’t forget a can opener – and protein-rich food like nuts. Also remember baby formula and pet food, if applicable.
    • Water: one gallon per person per day.
    • Powered devices: flashlight with extra batteries, radio and cell phone car charger.
    • Warm clothes and blankets or sleeping bags.

    Definitely add a tarp or blanket to the car emergency kit. After the California mudslides, rescuers laid tarps on top of the mud for stranded motorists to crawl to safety.

    Also, make a family communication plan. A communication plan includes information for family members and friends, work and school, and emergency organizations. Ready.gov and the American Red Cross have cards with blanks for contact information. Every family member should be able to access an out-of-town emergency contact because it’s often easier to make long distance calls after a disaster, according to ready.gov.

    Buried House - mudslideWatch for landslide warning signs. During a heavy storm, for example, look for widening cracks around the home. Also watch for changes to the landscape: bulging ground at the base of a slope, tilting landmarks like fences and trees and water breaking through the ground. Listen for a rumbling sound or strange noises like debris banging together and feel if the ground starts to slope and shift. If you’re near a stream or water channel, be prepared to dash to higher ground if the water flow suddenly changes speed or color.

    The USGS estimates that U.S. landslides cause more than $1 billion in damage and between 25 and 50 deaths every year. As the California mudslides showed, you don’t have to live in a landslide-prone area to be vulnerable to a landslide. So maybe toss an extra blanket in your car emergency kit.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - mudslide

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