Search results for: 'tornadoes'

  • Tornadoes in Tennesse

    Tornadoes in Tennessee

    In the West we’re no strangers to summer storms. But we prefer the kind that pelt us with cool rain on a hot afternoon, and then peter out when it’s time to light the barbecue. Not the kind that knock houses down. That’s what Tennessee had to deal with recently. Fortunately, no one was injured, but emerging from your basement to find a pile of debris where your home once stood is not exactly a pleasant way to pass a summer evening.

    While this particular storm affected several states in the region, one county in Tennessee bore the brunt of the devastation, as high winds ripped up trees and structures. Fox News reports that ten homes and one grocery store were completely destroyed in the community of Speedwell, including the town sheriff’s home.

    NBC News speculated that one of the numerous reported tornadoes associated with a storm system raging across areas of New England and into the South could have been responsible for the destruction in Tennessee. Elsewhere, flights were canceled, cities lost power, and New York saw some flooding. Between the heavy rain, whipping winds, tornadoes, and lightning, this storm was a force to be reckoned with.

    As a reminder, we posted this little article (“Staying Safe as Severe Storms Head for the Midwest”) in June, which serves as a helpful reminder regarding preparation for storms of all kinds and also contains some great links to other articles and resources. We’ve also found some useful tips for road safety during summer storms at weather.com; and our friendly northern neighbors at Environment Canada have a fantastically comprehensive list of safety instructions, categorized by the threat (e.g., lightning, tornadoes, hail, etc.).

    If the weather in your area is cooperating nicely, however, enjoy your summer and use the downtime to educate yourself.

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Tornado, tornadoes

  • Deadly Twisters in New York

    Tornados are in the news again. This time it’s the Northeast that’s getting the worst of it. Just this month, four people were killed in upstate New York as a twister whipped through the small town of Smithfield. NBC news is calling it the “state’s second deadliest” tornado since the 1950s—truly off the charts for a state that typically sees smaller category tornados and rarely sustains this kind of damage from them.

    According to the AP, Smithfield’s tornados were actually part of a larger storm system battering the region and  leaving more than 350,000 homes without power. You can see a slideshow of the damage to New York and even some parts of Pennsylvania here.

    Apparently, storm and tornado season varies from region to region, with twisters showing up most frequently in the spring down South, and moving up to the Midwest and Northeast through the summer. I’ll let the smart people at weather.com explain why. The same smart people also have a super cool map of tornado risk by month and region, in case you want to check on your area or nail down vacation plans.

    Anyhow, we’re keeping a weather eye on the storms with NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, reading back up on “Preparing for a Tornado,” and hoping everyone’s staying safe!

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Tornado, tornadoes, natural disasters

  • 30 High-Tech Ways to Survive any Disaster

    I can always count on Popular Mechanics when I need my mind blown on a weekday afternoon. And how can you go wrong with a headline like “30 Ways to Survive Absolutely Any Disaster”? Sure enough, PM has come up with 30 of the most recent—and most awesome—tech innovations to revolutionize disaster preparedness on an individual, national, and global level. I defy Mother Nature to get past all 30 of these!

    Author Sarah Fecht divides the list into four categories, involving areas of prediction, protection, response, and personal preparedness. Definitely read the article (at four pages, you’ll be in full emergency prep geek-out mode), but here’s a quick tour.

    Prediction – The newest and coolest early warning systems use  established technology in new places (seismometers and accelerometers in the ocean, for example);fancy-pants newer technology (GPS, sensors, drones) to detect flash flooding; and a particularly thrilling combination of new and old technology: underwater drones! (I’m not lying!). And between them, experts can give us ample lead time on earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions, storm surge, tornadoes, tsunamis, and even asteroids. ‘Cause if the Earth is about to be pummeled by pick-up sized space rocks, I need time to pack.

    Protection – Companies have been working for generations on bigger and better barriers against the elements, and current technology has taken the effort miles forward. My favorite innovations, however, build protection right into the infrastructure, making things like streets, buildings, and power lines more absorptive, flexible, and resistant.

    Response – In an effort to get the right people to the right place at the crucial time, researchers are pulling out all the innovative stops. In particular, first responders now have the aid of solar, microwave, drone, cell network, radio, and medical technology. They can even use  sensors to detect a human heartbeat under 30 feet of rubble and a tiny, injectable, antimicrobial sponge to stop bleeding.

    Personal – The most immediate and most basic needs of disaster victims have not changed with the times. We still need shelter, water, food, and life-saving information. Under this heading, PM’s article mostly reports cool new gadgets that do what the old ones did, only faster and better—a water purifier that works in 15 seconds, for example, or a solar generator that will run your fridge for a full 24 hours. The standout here is the Survival Capsule, a former Boeing engineer’s response to the 2011 tsunami that battered Japan. Think Life Cube or the All-In-Four Emergency Supply plus Noah’s ark, all in miniature and with seatbelts.

    I don’t know about you, but I love seeing all this energetic innovation going toward making us safer in a crisis. I’m not going to stop storing wheat and Band-Aids, but if there’s an app for emergency prep, you better believe I’m going to download it!

     

    What are your favorite high-tech preparedness solutions?

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: disaster, technology, survival technology, disaster technology

  • Tornadoes In Gold Country

    California can’t seem to catch a break this year! From droughts to floods, the Golden State and Mother Nature are going through an especially rocky patch… but tornadoes?!

    Believe it or not, the last days of March saw a handful of tornadoes touch down in Northern California, damaging as many as 20 homes, according to an AP report. Thankfully, no injuries or displacements were reported, but residents are learning hard lessons about expecting the unexpected.

    According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, and their super-cool maps, tornadoes are relatively uncommon along the West Coast. "The tornadoes which do occur,” explains a lead meteorologist from the Weather Channel in the report above, “are created by systems coming off the Pacific and are generally much weaker than those experienced by the Plains.”

    While California’s twisters may not be the same caliber as those that plagued the Midwest last year, residents whose roofs and fences will have to be replaced—or those who watched barbeque grills and other debris rain down on their property!—are still feeling the shake-up of disaster narrowly avoided.

    At the beginning of March, we re-posted an article from the archives--“How to Prepare for a Tornado”--which includes a fantastic video tutorial series from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for preparedness “before,” “during,” and “after” tornado. The article also includes links to other helpful resources, like our blog post “Tornado Preparedness” and FEMA’s “Developing an Emergency Response Plan for Tornadoes.”

    The lesson we keep learning over and over again is there’s no perfectly safe set of circumstances—no region and no season is free from the threat of natural disasters. However we may classify our risk, we’re all better off if we’re prepared.

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Did you know tornadoes can come in pairs?

    The Instagram photo below shows the devastation that occurred on Monday, June 16th when twin tornadoes touched down in Pilger, Nebraska. At least 70% of the town was heavily damaged or destroyed. Twin tornadoes are very rare and very dangerous.

    twin tornadoes touch down in Nebraska

    Photo Courtesy of WeatherChannel.com

    According to the Weather Channel’s severe weather expert Dr. Greg Postel, “the twister was on the ground for more than an hour . . . And storm chasers in the area described the damage as ‘catastrophic.’” Two people died as a result of the storm—one a 5-year-old girl, and the other a resident from a nearby county four miles east of Pilger. At least 19 people were injured.

    Officials evacuated residents and took them to a Red Cross shelter in Omaha, Nebraska. Once evacuated, Governor Dave Henieman declared a state of emergency, calling the National Guard into the area to begin recovery efforts.

    To learn more about the recent twin twisters in Nebraska, check out these articles from the Weather Channel and CNN:

    Pilger, Nebraska takes Heavy Hit from Tornado . . .

    Twin Tornadoes Tear through Nebraska Town . . .

    To learn more about tornado preparedness and what you can do before, during, and after a tornado, check out our Insight article, Preparing for a Tornado.

    We send heartfelt wishes of recovery to the residents of Pilger, Nebraska, and the surrounding areas.

    --Angela

     

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster

  • Even if tornadoes don't pass through, high winds can be just as damaging

    If you call anywhere along the Midwest home, now is a great time to prepare yourself for some bad weather. According to the Weather Channel, severe storms are building across the Midwest putting “35 million Americans in the risk zone” June 3 and 4th.

    Although only a portion of those at risk will see tornadoes, many will still face the damaging results of high speed winds reaching 58 mph with possible gusts bursting between 70-80 mph. That’s enough power to flip a motor home or uproot trees.

    For details about the approaching storm, and to find out whether you’re at risk, check out the Weather Channel’s article, “Severe Weather Forecast: Tornadoes, Derecho Possible Tuesday and Wednesday”.

    But before the storm hits, learn what you can do to prepare:

    --Kim

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster, Tornado, Midwest Tornados, midwest

  • Beat the Heat: Staying Safe when Temperatures Rise

    May 23rd is National Heat Awareness Day. Here are our tips for staying cool and healthy during spring and summer.

    When we think about weather-related emergencies, we tend to concentrate on the big and obvious ones. Specifically, we concern ourselves with staying warm and dry in the midst of storms, power outages, excursions gone wrong, and other situations where the cold and wet become threats.

    Don’t mistake us—exposure to the elements is a big deal. Cold, however, isn’t the only element around. It isn’t even the most dangerous. Did you know that heat, not cold, is responsible for the most deaths in an average year ? The chart below depicts a side-by-side comparison of weather-related fatalities. Heat even causes more fatalities than tornadoes, floods, and rip currents.

     

    NOAA weather fatalies chart

    Photo Courtesy of NOAA.gov

     

    There are a lot of ways to warm up when a power failure cuts off your heat supply. But what if power is your first line of defense against heat stroke? Here are some measures you can take to beat the dangerous heat in an emergency situation.

    1. Make water your best friend. First and foremost, stay hydrated. In severe heat, experts recommend drinking not just copiously, but frequently in order to replace fluids lost through sweat. In addition to drinking it, we can maximize water’s cooling properties in other ingenious ways. Wetted towels hung near open windows will cool a breeze; a lukewarm bath or shower can lower body temp; and a cold compress, especially on the body’s pulse points (wrist, armpit, and groin) can do the same job more efficiently.

    2. Unconditioned air can still be controlled. Keep the atmosphere from reaching the stifling point and find the cool where it’s hiding by being air-wise. Use heavy fabric to block heat-generating light coming through windows. Cook outside in order to keep smoke, steam, and other hot vapors from invading your living space.

    Besides keeping hot air at bay, it’s important to find ways to invite cool air in. Open windows at night to create a cool cross breeze, remembering to close them before the sun heats that breeze up again. And if you can’t keep the main living area cool enough to be comfortable, go lower—dark basements stay cooler, and even a downstairs family room floor will be a few degrees better than a bed upstairs.

    3. Work with, not against, your body’s cooling mechanisms. A nice tall drink may sound perfect, but caffeine, alcohol, and excessive sugar actually increase your body’s need for water. Even worse, caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will cause your body to lose more water. Skip the soda and opt for water.

    Counterintuitively, spicy food may actually help your body cool down. The capsaicin in certain peppers and spices induces sweating, which cools the body down. Just be sure to replace the sweat with plenty of fluids.

    Other ways to regulate your body’s temperature include avoiding unnecessary exertion; wearing light, loose, cotton clothes; and minimizing insulation when you sleep (floor is better than bed, alone is better than cuddling, etc.).

    4. Be stingy (and creative!) with power. Don’t open refrigerators and freezers unnecessarily. Use coolers and buy ice to keep cold food handy day to day. An additional perk might be the functional air conditioning in a grocery store or other public building. And don’t forget to keep batteries stored for handheld fans.

    Sunshine is pleasant, but if the bulk of our warm weather preparations have to do with fitting into our swimsuit or getting a nice base tan, we could end up in more danger than we anticipate. Stay safe and cool as the weather warms up!

     

    -Stacey and Angela

     

    Sources:

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=63080

    http://greatist.com/happiness/tricks-to-sleep-in-the-heat

    http://www.murfreesboroelectric.com/information/emergplan6.shtml

    http://www.safeelectricity.org/information-center/library-of-articles/63-storm-recovery-springsummer/315-keep-your-cool-while-the-powers-out

    http://www.accem.org/pointers/eppjul11.pdf

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Flooding isn’t the only problem caused by torrential downpours that happen on their own or in tandem with tornadoes and hurricanes. Sinkholes can form when the ground is over-saturated, like this street in Baltimore. It looks like the ground became so wet it “burst” the retaining wall, sending cars, dirt, and asphalt down onto the train tracks below. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

    I’ve never seen anything like this. Watch it for yourself:

    --Urban Girl

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster, sinkhole, rainstorm

  • Severe Flooding Follows Tornadoes in the Southeast

    Natural disasters can sometimes cause a domino effect of other disasters: an earthquake can cause a long-term power outage, a drought can cause a wildfire, and the high-speed winds of a tornado can quickly turn into a raging flood.

    Many in the Southeast are learning that one storm can cause another as the tornadoes that sprawled across over a dozen states this week have not only left behind twisted cars and destroyed homes, but also brought on severe floods.

    Florida was one of hardest-hit states, where Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency after 20 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, killing at least one and leaving others stranded, according to Fox News

    “There’s a lot of water on the ground,” the governor said to Yahoo News. He also anticipates that more flash flooding is still a real threat.

    In some areas, flooding reached up to four feet, other locations flooded more. Across numerous states, floods trapped people in homes, vehicles, and other buildings. Yahoo News reports one elderly woman dying in Escambia County after being unable to escape as the high waters surrounded her vehicle.

    "We were rescuing people out of cars, out of ditches, out of homes," said Mitchell Sims, the emergency management director for Baldwin County. "We are still getting reports of people trapped."

    When preparing for an emergency, it’s common to overlook the fact that one disaster can trigger another. It’s important to prepare as well as you can for all types of disasters. Are you prepared for a tornado and a lightning storm? Do you have duct tape for your windows for a hurricane and sandbags for flooding? As you stock your supply, are you thinking of how to prepare for multiple disasters?

    As you work on your preparedness, check out the following Insight Articles for some helpful tips for staying safe in a variety of disasters:

    Have you ever been caught in a “secondary” disaster triggered by a first? What happened? Share your story and expertise in the comments

     

    --Kim

     

    Sources:

    http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/04/30/forecasters-downplay-tornado-predictions-as-storm-system-weakens-in-south/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-tornadoes-kill-34-threaten-more-damage-south-043914845--sector.html

    Photo Courtesy of Fox News

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, natural disasters

  • If tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters struck your hometown, would you be prepared to weather the rough days that follow until emergency response teams set up?

    Unfortunately, many people aren’t.

    A little while ago, we reported on an innovative idea of an inflatable shelter called the Life Cube. Responses to this survival shelter ranged from “awesome” to “too pricey”. After our initial article, we were interested in the background of the company and the idea of the Life Cube. We called up founders Michael Conner and Nick Pedersen to get additional details about this new way to survive in an emergency. We thought you might be interested in hearing what we found out.

    What is the Life Cube?

    Conner and Pedersen have created the Life Cube to ultimately provide relief within 24 hours to disaster victims.

    Life Cube

    The Life Cube inflates into a 12 ft. x 12 ft. “home” fully stocked with food, water, power, a means of communication, and furniture for a family of five to survive for 72 hours. Once set up, the Life Cube is weather-resistant against 40 mph winds without external tie downs, and against 55 mph winds with external tie downs. It can also withstand heavy snow loads—10 lbs. per square inch.

    And this fully stocked survival shelter only takes about 10-20 minutes to set up. If you’re really fast, it could take you as little as five.

    Check out this video of Conner and Pedersen setting up the Life Cube:

    Life Cube LC12 5 Minute Deployment from Nick Pedersen on Vimeo.

    Why Would I Need the Life Cube?

    The first 72 hours can be the hardest to survive as response teams work to set up. “That’s the time you’re on your own. The Life Cube is to help you in that time,” said Pedersen. Take note, however, that it can take much longer than 72 hours for help and supplies to arrive—three days is a minimum.

    Pedersen recommends that although the Life Cube comes fully stocked, it’s never a bad idea to add extra preparedness supplies of your own. Life Cube, Inc. may add supplies such as the Yeti 1250 and premade food kits for five. But Pedersen’s suggestion of storing extra supplies extends beyond adding more preparedness gear to the Life Cube.

    If you or anyone in your family use medications, wear glasses, or have other specific needs, adding those items to your bug-out-bag will personalize your supplies and provide you with vital items for survival.

    What’s New?

    Over the past few years, Conner and Pedersen have been working to upgrade the quality of the Life Cube.

    Why you need a Life Cube...

    “This year,” Pedersen said, “We are introducing a new foam floor with a special coating to make the Life Cube lighter. It’ll be about the same price, but cold-weather temperate and even buoyant so it can float.”

    These Life Cubes have been designed to be airdropped anywhere on Earth, so even in the most remote locations, disaster victims won’t have to wait for relief. Although the Life Cube is not the end solution, it is a viable option to consider when thinking about disaster relief.

    So how did it all begin?

    The concept of the Life Cube started in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina and the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan. The survivors of these disasters were dying because they couldn’t get the food, water, and equipment they needed to survive. Michael Conner knew something needed to be done; a few napkin sketches were drawn up and the Life Cube was born.

    Each Life Cube is premade for a particular use, according to Pedersen. They can each be configured to respond to issues ranging from Command and Control/Communications Security to Medical to Decontamination and more.

    As of now, everything about the Life Cube is Military spec. For consumer products, Pedersen and Conner are working on a “Life Cube Every Man” which works more like a tent. This Life Cube would have the same features as the military-grade one, but at a lower price ($5000-$6000 each rather than $9,000-$15,000).

    The Life Cube is just in its beginning stages, but Conner and Pedersen have big goals for the future.

    “Our ultimate goal is to build a cache of units [and] have inventories in strategic locations in the country—and eventually around the world—so we can deploy within 24 hours of a disaster. Having caches would help us deploy in hours instead of days,” said Pedersen.

    In the past, Life Cube, Inc. has deployed for FEMA, the military, and the Joplin tornado. Today, Life Cube, Inc. is pursuing partnerships with FEMA, the Red Cross, and the U.S. Army to deploy Life Cubes where needed. They also are looking into pursuing municipalities. If caches of Life Cubes were placed in various cities, then local officials could deploy them immediately after a disaster strikes—without waiting for Federal Aid approvals or third-party organizations.

    What do you think about the Life Cube? Would you ever buy one? Do you think it’s a realistic solution?

    Not quite your style? Learn how to  put together your own all-in-one portable shelter solution by reading our article, "How to Build your Own All-in-Four Portable Shelter."

    --Kim

    Sources:

    “Life Cube Sheltered Delivery System Brochure.pdf”

    Interview with Nick Pedersen

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: shelter, Survival

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