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  • Preparing for Your Super Bowl Party is Just Like Preparing for an Emergency

    Hosting a Super Bowl party this Sunday? There’s lot to prepare for, so if you haven’t started preparing, you’d best get on that! Speaking of preparing (like that segue?), getting ready for emergencies is a lot like hosting a great party.

     

    Step One: Planning

    Super Bowl Party

    First of all, do you even want to host a Super Bowl party? Personally, I’ve never even a Super Bowl before (the travesty!), so I don’t think I’d be too interested in hosting a shin dig for it. However, what if I told you the guests were coming anyway, whether you like it or not? Welp, might as well make the best of things!

    I’m no party planner, but I do know a thing or two about preparing for emergencies. And in this scenario, it is most certainly an emergency. So here’s what you do:

    Make a list of everything you need.

    Got it? Good.

    This list should include food, drinks, and other necessary supplies. Football props? You betcha. Red party cups? Better believe it. A backup power generator? Hey. If the Super Bowl venue can lose power, then so can yours.

    Living through an emergency situation is very similar to living through a party. You need food, drinks (preferably water in this case), and other gear to help keep you comfortable. If you’re stuck without power in the winter, how will you stay warm? Make sure these are some of the things you think about.

     

    Step Two: Acquire

    Empty Shelves Super Bowl This guy didn't make it to the store in time and now can't have his favorite disaster snack: milk sandwiches.

    Making a plan to feed your guests is all fine and good, but if you forget to do the shopping, there will be a lot of people wondering where the seven-layered dip is hiding (not to mention the chips). In order to avoid any potential embarrassments, make sure you get to the store before the day of the event. Better yet, go a week early. Otherwise, all the other party planners will scoop up the best snacks, leaving you with a tray full of chocolate chips (which are delicious, unless that’s all there is to eat for the duration of the game).

    The same thing applies for emergencies. Get the food, water, and gear you need well before the first warning signs of an imminent disaster. Leaving it too long may lead to not just empty shelves, but empty stomachs as well.

    Of course, most emergencies don’t give warning before they come. Without the proper preparations n place, any day could spell disaster. Just like that one guy who’s always more than a little early to the party, disasters can also show up well before you expect them. This is why preparing as early as possible is one of the best things you can do.

     

    Step Three: Practice

    Nothing kills a party quite like not knowing what channel the big game is on. Likewise, if you don’t know how to prepare your freeze-dried meals, work your generator, or know how you other gear functions, you might be in for a rough first night during an emergency. Get to know your gear. Learn how to prepare those freeze-dried and dehydrated meals. Walk through your home evacuations so you’ll know what to do when the time comes. And, perhaps most importantly, make sure you practice your best touchdown dance for maximum approval.

     

    Step Four: Enjoy the Show

    Sure, disasters and emergencies aren’t always the most pleasant of experiences, but the enjoyability of them can be increased through proper preparations. Ice storm knock out your power for three days? At least you’ll have emergency lights, heat, and the ability to prepare delicious meals. Car break down on a back road? Fortunately, you have blankets, food, and water to get you through until help finds you.

    Football game dragging on? At least there’s good food to keep you occupied.

     

    Written by Steven M.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Super Bowl

  • 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

  • When Hurricanes Go Inland

    Map Inland Hurricanes

    Take a look at this map from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It shows how often U.S. counties have experienced a hurricane or tropical storm. Colored areas represent hurricane impacts. Notice how far inland the map goes: counties in Utah and Nebraska have experienced the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes.

    Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a great example of the broad reach of a hurricane. It affected 24 states – half the continental U.S. It was the second-most devastating hurricane in U.S. history, killing 157 people and causing $71.4 billion in damage.

    Even if you live inland, it’s useful to find out if you might be susceptible to a hurricane’s reach.

    Your risk from hurricanes is based on where you live, the structure of your home, and your personal circumstances,” said FEMA’s How to Prepare for a Hurricane.

    Flooding is the greatest problem when hurricanes head inland.

    To prepare, check your flood risk with FEMA’s flood mapping tool. Buy flood insurance in addition to regular insurance. Regular insurance will usually cover water damage from precipitation and wind. It won’t usually cover flooding. Buy it early. Flood insurance doesn’t take effect until 30 days after its purchase.

    If you live in an area that can be flooded, have an evacuation plan with a place to go and alternate routes to get there. Make sure animals are provided for. Many shelters won’t take pets. FEMA recommends you plan to evacuate the “5 P’s”: People (and pets), Prescriptions, Papers, Personal items and Priceless items.

    Hurricanes can create snowstorms. Hurricane Sandy combined with polar air to dump at least a foot of snow in more than half of West Virginia’s counties. The heavy snow collapsed buildings and toppled trees.

    tropical storm - Inland Hurricanes

    Hurricanes can create thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes thousands of miles from landfall. Hurricane Patricia, the largest tropical cyclone in the western hemisphere, hit western Mexico in October 2015. Although it dissipated quickly, storm remnants crossed Mexico and whacked Texas. Houston got 9.4 inches of rain in 24 hours, and a tornado touched down near the city.

    Hurricanes can bring wind far inland. Wind gusts from Hurricane Sandy measured 60-70 miles per hour around the Great Lakes. Flying debris hit killed a Toronto, Canada woman.

    It’s possible to prepare a home for all these weather events. Clean gutters and drains and waterproof a basement. Prepare for wind by removing diseased and damaged tree limbs.

    When hurricane remnants are in the forecast, store or tie down outdoor furniture, decorations, trash cans and anything else that wind can turn into a projectile. Also, close curtains or blinds. If windows do get broken, this will prevent shattered glass from scattering in the home.

    Finally, be prepared for power outages. Hurricane Sandy left more than 9 million utility customers without power. Two weeks later, more than 6 million in 15 states and the District of Columbia were still without electricity.

    “Depending on the strength of the hurricane and its impact on your community, you could be in your home with no power or other basic services for several weeks,” FEMA wrote.

    Ready.gov suggests ways to prepare for power outages.

    Have a fully stocked emergency kit including food and water, a flashlight, batteries, cash in small bills and first aid supplies. Keep a cell phone and other battery-powered devices charged and have an alternative charging method. Those who use a power-dependent or battery-operated medical device should have a backup power plan and tell their local utility so it can prioritize their home.

    Keep the car’s gas tank full and know how to manually release an electric garage door opener. A vehicle can be a power source, but not in an enclosed space.

    Before a major storm, buy dry ice. Fifty pounds will keep a fully stocked fridge cold for two days. Without it, an unopened fridge will keep food cold for only about four hours.

    Finally, prepare for price increases. Hurricane Ike, the third-most costly storm in U.S. history, brought an “Ike Spike” in gas prices all the way into Canada.

    In July 2015, former Hurricane Dolores caused record rainfall and flooding in southern California and Arizona. Yet the closest the center of the storm got to California was 300 miles west of Baja. At the time, it too weak to even be considered a tropical storm. What was left of Dolores caused flash flood watches in Nevada and farther inland.

    It just goes to show that coastal areas aren’t the only places that should prepare for hurricanes.

     

    Hurricane_prep_03 - Inland Hurricanes

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