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  • Winter Storm Niko Pounds the Northeast

    Just yesterday, the Northeast was experiencing spring-like weather with temperatures ranging from 50 to 60 degrees. Today, they’re bracing for enormous amounts of snow. According to the New York Times, up to 18 inches is expected through the end of the day.

    That’s a lot of snow in a very short amount of time.

    winter storm niko via BRG Winter Storm Niko - via BRG

    In preparation for Winter Storm Niko, schools have shut down and over 2,700 flights have been cancelled. Some employees have been told not to come in for work. It’s a good day to curl up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book.

    Of course, weathering a winter storm is all fun and games until the power goes out. If you’re in the region being blasted by Winter Storm Niko, then it may be too late to gather the necessary goods. However, just because you’re not being bombarded by snow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still prepare.

    After all, milk sandwiches don’t live up to the hype.

    So what do you do? Easy. Get blankets for warmth. If you can, invest in an indoor generator to power your indoor-safe heater. Get your preparations together early, before the storm.

    My wife lived through the Kentucky ice storm of 2009. Living with her family at the time (I didn’t know her then), her family (along with 100,000 other homes) were left without power. No power meant no cooking on the stove, no warming food in the microwave, and no heater for warmth. Luckily, they had a portable propane stove to cook meals, and they wrapped themselves up in blankets to stay warm. They were stuck in their home for a few days until the roads were drivable and they could finally leave and stay somewhere with power.

    A generator certainly would have been useful in that instance. Of course, a generator isn’t always a viable option for many. Candles, flashlights, heat packs, and indoor-safe cooking devices will always be handy in a pinch. But perhaps one of the most overlooked essentials for being cooped up for a day or more is a good book and excellent board games. There’s nothing worse than being trapped inside with nothing to do.

    Winter storm Niko

    There’s a lot to be said about preparing early. Even if you’re not in an area that’s a hot bed for certain disasters (like Kentucky and snow storms), it can still happen. And if one specific disaster doesn’t, another one most likely will take its place. Your preparations for a winter storm can pave the way to weathering any threat that comes your way, including job loss, accident, or other disasters and emergencies.

    So while you watch the snow pile up on the Northeast, take some time to think about your prep and how you would fare if you were faced with a similar challenge. Then, update what needs to be updated, restock low quantities of food, batteries, books, board games, et al., and smile with the peace and comfort that comes with being prepared.

    Written by Steven M.

     

    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image2

  • 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

  • Flipping the White House in 5 Hours: How Long Does Your Emergency Plan Give You?

    Inauguration day news was dominated by pomp and circumstance on the one side and protests on the other. Yet behind the scenes, all over the city, months of preparation were coming to fruition.

    It’s a lesson everyone can use in their own emergency preparation.

    The White House in Washington DC, United States

    Imagine flipping your house in five hours. It can take that long to get a kid’s room clean. On inauguration day, White House staff members had about five hours to turn the Obama White House into the Trump one, according to stories in the New York Times, USA Today, and Time.

    It’s a mad dash involving decorators, carpenters, cleaners, painters, and electricians. Although the public rooms are mostly off limits by law and tradition, the family’s private quarters are pretty much fair game, according to USA Today.

    Everything from rugs to curtains to shower heads can be replaced. Furniture can be the family’s own or taken from a warehouse of White House historical furniture. They can even add or remove walls, according to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

     

     

    The process of preparing the White House for the transition started almost 18 months ago, when the White House chief usher compiled a book of staff members and information about the building.

    Once the first family decided what they wanted, staff members choreographed the transition like a military operation, according to the New York Times.

    As soon as the old first family leaves, White House staff packs their things. Right after the new president is sworn in, two moving trucks pull up: one empty, one full.

    "The outgoing president sees the house the way he always saw it," Dean Mercer, a former Secret Service agent for President Clinton's and President George W. Bush's details, told USA Today. He added the new president "walks in and everything that is his is there."

    By the time the incoming president arrives, favorite snacks are in the fridge, toothbrushes are in the bathrooms and clothes are in the closets.

    Emergencies often involve deadlines. A fire or flood can force you out in five minutes. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it, so you can carry it out with military-like precision.

    Do you have everything you need quickly accessible? Are all your important documents stored in a safe place, or away from your home?

    As soon as President Trump was sworn in, the White House online communications – Twitter, Facebook and a web site – became active, according to Time. Do you have a communication plan and an emergency contact that everyone in your family knows?

    Also in preparation for the Inauguration, about 28,000 security officials from many agencies turned Washington, D.C. into an anti-terror fortress.

    USA Today described the efforts.

    They included closing streets and bridges, setting up barricades to limit access to the National Mall and bringing in construction equipment and Dumpsters to prevent vehicle attacks. The Secret Service planned how to deal with protesters, for both Inauguration day and the women’s march the next day.

    Jimmy Rivera works in downtown Washington, D.C. He slept on an air mattress at work on Thursday night rather than make his way home through all the barricades and closures. On Friday night, he had to travel out of his way and face numerous delays to get home.

    “I just want my bed,” he said.

    Flipping the White House - Evacuation Plan

    When making an evacuation plan, think about your family’s needs and comfort.

    Where will you sleep? Do you have something to sleep on? It’s winter. Can you keep warm? Do you have spare blankets and clothes?

    What will you do to entertain yourself? Rivera had his phone. He could communicate with family and watch movies.

    Rivera uses a CPAP machine. He took it to work with him on Thursday along with his prescription medication. If you need prescription medication or medical equipment, is it readily accessible in an emergency? He could plug his machine in. Do you have a backup power source?

    Do you have pets? Many emergency shelters and hotels won’t allow animals.

    All in all, Inauguration weekend went fairly smoothly. Although more than 200 protesters were arrested, compare that to the hundreds of thousands of protesters and visitors who showed up over the weekend. There was some damage and rioting in one part of the city, but Rivera said the most disruptive thing he saw was a woman who flashed him. And the Trump family hasn’t complained about their new housing, so it’s a reasonable supposition that they got in OK.

    Planning and putting plans to work helped continue the 200-plus year U.S. tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Think about applying it to your emergency preparedness efforts.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner White House

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