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  • Town of Riverhead Issues State of Emergency Due to Lack of Water

    With a name like Riverhead, you wouldn’t expect there to be a water shortage. Despite being on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, this small Canadian town is out of water. A state of emergency has been declared.

    No water for Riverhead

    Riverhead isn’t even in a drought, and yet they have practically zero access to water. People in California can at least turn on their faucets and get water. Those in Riverhead can’t even do that. Due to a faulty pump in a local pump house, water has ceased flowing since Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Five days later, they still had no water.

    And when we say they’re out of water, we mean there is absolutely none available from an open faucet.

    Drinking water has to be imported from other nearby towns or purchased from stores. But that’s just one problem. Since the pump went out, “residents have been unable to shower, water their lawns, or do their laundry.”

    Sanitation is a major issue. At least getting clean drinking water is easier. But if they plan on bathing, washing, and doing laundry, using drinking water for that could get expensive.

    Riverhead Map Riverhead, Newfoundland (via Google Maps)

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this has happened to the residents of Riverhead. A state of emergency was also declared in 2013 due to similar issues. For the folks in Riverhead, being prepared for lack of water is probably going to become a priority.

    For everyone else, this emergency in Riverhead shows us just how fragile our freely flowing water source can be.

    From broken water mains to drought conditions, there are many reasons why you might be faced with an instant shortage of usable water, be it for drinking or other activities. In order to prepare for such events, there are certain steps you can take to alleviate the problem.

     

    Water Storage

    Part of any emergency plan should include enough water to last 72 hours per person. It is strongly advised to have at least one gallon of water per day for each person, so for 72 hours, you’ll need three gallons of water for yourself. If you have the room for it, it is recommended to have at least that as a minimum – more if you can.

    Water for Riverhead!One method of water storage is in large barrels. For homes with more room, a 160 gallon water reserve could come in mighty handy. Stack another one on top for an impressive 320 gallon water supply. That would keep you going for quite some time.

    Barrels come in smaller sizes, such as 55 gallons, 30 gallons, and 15 gallons. Any of these sizes will be enough for at least 72 hours, but of course, the more you’re prepared, the less you’ll have to worry during an emergency.

    Water jugs and other alternate water storage methods can be used if space is an issue, such as in apartments or small homes. Store them under your bed, a crawl space, bathtub, or other location that is out of the way yet easy to access.

     

    Water Filters

    Water filters aren’t necessarily an alternative to stored water rather than a backup. However, if running water disappears from your faucet and your water storage is running low, you can always take your filter to a nearby river, stream, or lake and fill your containers from there. Don’t forget that water is heavy (about 8 pounds per gallon), so be careful not to overfill your containers or you might be hard pressed to tote them back to your home.

     

    Pre-Packaged Water

    If preparing your own water for storage isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always the option to go with pre-packaged water. Bottled water from the local store is always a safe option, since it is usually purified before being bottled (still, it doesn’t hurt to check the labels first). Alternately, water can come in cans, or even small pouches for convenience in emergency kits as well as hikes and outdoor activities.

     

    No matter your situation or living conditions, there is generally a way for you to have access to clean drinking water (as well as water for washing and cleaning). It may take a little bit of extra planning, but water is literally life, and by investing in water storage, you’re putting your resources towards a more comfortable experience during and after disasters and unexpected water shut offs.

    The emergency in Riverhead shows us yet another way how running water can slip between our fingers and leave us with nothing.  If this were to happen where you live, would you be prepared to go days without clean, running water?

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - River Song...er, Riverhead

  • Financial Preparedness 101: Why Does Money Matter?

    Destroyed House - financial preparednessDid you know that even if your home is destroyed in a natural disaster, you still have to pay your mortgage? Did you know that even if you’re using your credit card to pay for a hotel because you’ve been evacuated, you still have to pay your bill on time?

    “Failing to remain current with your payments could negatively affect your credit at a time when you need credit the most,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.

    When most of us think about disaster, we think about what we’re going to do physically: how to make sure we’ve got food, water, clothing, and shelter. We don’t think about the financial aftermath.

    For that matter, an individual financial crisis is far more likely than a natural disaster. Job loss, divorce, death or illness, retirement … even a home purchase can cause significant problems if unprepared financially, said Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah.

    House suggested three ways to financial preparedness.

     

    Save and Save Some More

    First, have a short- and long-term savings and an emergency fund.

    Shopping Bill - financial preparednessKayleen Chen, a peer mentor at the University of Utah’s Personal Money Management Center, suggested the 50/30/20 rule. Fifty percent of a paycheck should go toward fixed expenses, like house payments and utilities. Discretionary expenses that can be adjusted, like grocery bills and fuel, should take up about 30 percent. Twenty percent should go toward short-term savings, an emergency fund and retirement.

    The short-term savings fund is for future expenses like holidays or a down payment. An emergency fund helps when things come up like car repairs or doctor bills, to avoid paying for them with high-interest debt like credit cards or short-term loans.

    Women should put 12 percent of their salary toward retirement; men 10 percent, Chen said.

    “The reality is that women live longer and make less income than men,” she wrote in an e-mail.

    House suggested people who want to save 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 said.

     

    Get Organized

    Second, get organized. Know where important information is.

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

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit is a great organizational resource, she 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.

    In case of emergency, House said, “Most of us run for family pictures or a kid’s favorite toys. If we knew where (vital information) all was, if it was organized into folders and files and boxes, we could just grab it.

     

    Emergency Storage

    Third, have an emergency storage, including cash in small bills.

    “If you were out of water, and somebody came by with a water selling wagon, you might be giving the person a $100 bill for water. It’s $1 bills that are going to come in handy for emergencies,” House said.

    Other ways to prepare financially include getting out of debt and getting a credit score in order. More than 60 percent of prospective employers check credit scores so a good one could mean the difference between getting and missing out on a job. All three credit bureaus must give one free credit report per year.

    House’s father-in-law lived through the Great Depression. After his death, she said, his family found $150,000 in paper bags while cleaning out his home. She does not recommend that approach to saving.

    Life happens. To keep from being traumatized by a disaster, it’s vital to be mentally prepared. And one great way to do that is to be physically prepared.

    “The key is to keep in mind that anything can happen. Therefore, always prepare for any possible emergency! It's never too late!” Chen wrote.

     

    Do you have a financial preparedness plan in place?

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - financial preparedness

  • Earthquakes Swarm Under Mount Saint Helens

    The Force Volcano Awakens

    Mount Saint Helens SmokingMount Saint Helens – the volcano that blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and darkened the skies with its ash in 1980 – is reportedly ripe with earthquakes. According to reports from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there have been over 130 earthquake around Mount Saint Helens since March 14, 2016. That’s a lot of seismic activity!

    Fortunately, most of the earthquakes have magnitudes of 0.5 or less. The strongest recorded quake in this time period was a magnitude 1.3. Even standing directly above these tiny tremors, we still wouldn’t be able to feel them.

    These miniature earthquakes remind us that Mount Saint Helens is very much an alive and active volcano. These tremors are caused by the magma recharging and entering the volcano’s chamber, putting stress on the earth’s crust. So it’s not the shifting of tectonic plates after all; it’s the gathering of magma.

    Worried yet?

    Don’t be. Well, not yet, at least. Before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, there were over 10,000 earthquakes leading up to that event. The USGS released a statement in that they believe “there is absolutely no sigh that it will erupt anytime soon.”

    Basically, Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, and an eruption will come. Scientists just don’t know when. They say it could be years – or decades – away.

     

    The 1980 Eruption

    Mount Saint Helens Eruption - USGS Mount Saint Helens eruption, May 18, 1980 - Image courtesy of USGS

    On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and, according to Tech Times, “unleashed massive quantities of rock, ash and debris into the air.” The blast cause 150,000 acres of fir trees to become flattened, and “triggered one of the largest landslides ever witnessed in recorded history.”

    About 540 million tons of ash was ejected into the sky during the nine hours of violent eruptions. Two days after the eruption, ash from the blast was found in the central United States. Within two weeks, ash from the eruption had made its way around the globe. Because of all the ash, crops in Eastern Washington had an estimated $100 million in loss. Despite the losses, however, the ash was at least somewhat beneficial in the long term, due to the trace elements and minerals contained in the ash that support plant growth.

     

    Prepare for Eruption

    Still, considering the power of the blast, it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. When Mount Saint Helens erupts again, however, there will still be problems, and being prepared is something we could all take seriously.

    How does one prepare for a volcano eruption, you ask?

    Car After Eruption Photographer Reid Blackburn's car after the eruption.

    Well, just like any disaster, you will want at least a 72 hour kit. This kit should have clean water, food, gear for warmth and sanitation, and other necessities that can keep you supported and safe for three or more days. Directly following a disaster, power could be out, water could be contaminated, and food could be scarce.  As we saw from the 1980 eruption, millions of dollars’ worth of food was lost. Likewise, many roads were closed and flights were cancelled due to dangerously low visibility. These conditions could affect your local markets, making it harder to get food. That’s why having an emergency supply of food and water is always a good idea.

    Mount Saint Helens is active, and it’s setting off lots of little earthquakes underneath the ground. While it could still be decades before we have to worry about it blowing its top (again), the key to staying safe is by being prepared, and the way to be prepared is to start today.

    No matter what major event you’re preparing for, you can use that prep for anything. And by being prepared in advance, you can save yourself a lot of discomfort in the future.

     

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