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Super Bowl

  • Avoiding a Royal Flush: Recent Water Shortages in Areas Just Like Yours

    During the Super Bowl, water conservation efforts in Macomb County, Mich., kept crappers from coming a cropper. (OR helped a broken sewer pipe avoid a royal dump. OR prevented a royal flush that could have further damaged a broken sewer pipe and sinkhole.)

    Sinkhole - via AP water shortage Good news: flushing toilets didn't make the sinkhole worse - via AP

    On February 2, the county public works chief warned that halftime flushing during the Super Bowl could overwhelm a broken 11-foot-wide sewer pipe and send sewage into neighborhood basements. The broken line had already created a 250-foot by 100-foot sinkhole that ate three homes. But she said on February 6 that actions like people flushing less (when they did, would that be a royal flush?) and restaurants serving food on paper plates prevented the disaster.

    At any time, you might have to reduce water use or use bottled water. The same week Macomb County public works officials worried about sewer overflow, water managers in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Chapel Hill, N.C., told residents to boil or avoid tap water.

    In Pittsburgh on January 31, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority issued a boil water advisory for 100,000 customers, including schools, restaurants and hospitals. Tests of the city’s water supply showed there wasn’t enough chlorine in the water at a treatment plant. The advisory ended February 2.

    In Chapel Hill, a broken water main February 2 immediately followed by a water treatment plant shutdown February 3 caused the boil water notice and, later, a water shortage.  Students at the University of North Carolina and businesses around the school were most affected. A basketball game between UNC and Notre Dame had to be postponed and moved. The school canceled classes the afternoon of February 3. Although the boil water notice ended February 5, Orange County, N.C. officials asked people to keep conserving water because the broken pipe caused a water shortage.

    Ready.gov says a person needs an average of a gallon of water per day. Here are three ways to make sure you’ve got clean water handy when you need it.

    First, assume you won’t be able to buy water. The water emergency in Chapel Hill lasted two days. Residents could still use tap water for many things. Trucks could easily resupply stores. Yet stores reported runs on water and empty shelves.

    Ready.gov recommendsMan_Standing_Updated water shortage you store a gallon of water per person per day for three days.  Commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable water for storage, according to ready.gov. It’s easy to store and lasts longer than home-bottled water. Just don’t open it and be aware of the expiration dates on the bottles. Food-grade water storage containers are also available here. When filling them, if your water comes from a well or if your utility doesn’t treat water with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach to each gallon of water. Check the water after a half hour. If it doesn’t have a slight bleach smell, re-treat it and wait 15 minutes. Ready.gov recommends you replace home-bottled water every six months.

    Second, think about all the ways you use water – like washing dishes – and plan substitutes.

    In Macomb County, Mich., some restaurants used paper plates on Super Bowl Sunday to reduce their water use.

    Do you have enough disposable dishes on hand that you could minimize dish washing for a few days? Even reusable water bottles should be washed daily.

    Third, be prepared for long-term water shortages. Consider buying a water filter for your home or water taps.

    After three years of lead-laced water in Flint, Mich., the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality finally found that lead concentrations in Flint tap water were below the federal limit. The DEQ didn’t recommend Flint residents start using unfiltered tap water, though. As pipes get replaced and flushed throughout the city, lead concentration could spike in individual homes.

    If you’re considering a home water filter, first think about why you want one, suggests the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main function of the activated carbon filters found in fridges and pitchers is to change the water’s taste. They may not fully protect against contaminants. If a test to your water system shows organic contaminants, you may want a full-house or point-of-entry filter system so you can use the water for bathing and cleaning as well as cooking and drinking.

    Second, all water filters should be NSF-certified. NSF-certified filters can remove lead. Check the labels on filters, because no water filter removes everything. Consider things like cost of the filter system, how much filtered water you need and how a system might fit into your home.

    Third, maintain your filters. Change them on schedule.

    “Filters that are not well maintained can do more harm than good,” the CDC wrote.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner water shortage

  • 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

  • QB Sneak is Easier in the Dark: Lessons from the 2013 Super Bowl Power Outage

    Super Bowl 50 is coming up Sunday. So it’s a good a time as any to remember the 2013 Super Bowl, when a power outage left half the Superdome dark.

    Before the lights went out, the Super Bowl was humming along. The second-half kickoff had just produced the longest play in Super Bowl history when the Baltimore Ravens’ Jacoby Jones returned the kick 108 yards. Baltimore was leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 and the 49ers had the ball when, suddenly, half the stadium went dark. CBS, which was broadcasting the game, lost power to its main booth and some of its cameras, and had to broadcast from its secondary area.

    "Everything shut down," Carl Trinchero, a 49ers fan from Napa, Calif., who was in the Superdome, told the Associated Press. "No credit cards, vending machines shut down, everything shut down."

    Power goes out in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII  between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Raven on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, at the Superdome in New Orleans. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group) Fortunately, the Super Bowl only went half-dark - Image via Mercury News

    Later investigation showed that a recently-installed electrical relay device designed to prevent a power outage actually triggered one. It wasn’t set to handle the amount of power needed at the Superdome, so signaled a surge when there wasn’t one and tripped, just like a circuit breaker in a home. It took 22 minutes to turn the power back on and 34 minutes before the game began again.

    However, because several safeguards were in place, what could have been a tragedy became more of a joke. Facebook even got a new community: “I survived the Super Bowl 47 power outage.”

    First, backup power immediately kicked in. The outage only affected half the building and auxiliary power kept the field from going completely dark.

    "People like me looked at that and were like, 'That's awesome that it only went half-dark,'" Juliette Kayyem, a board member of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), told Vice.com.

    In a power outage at home, light can be your best friend to prevent panic. Make sure you’ve got easily accessible backup lighting.

    Even with backup power, many systems didn’t work. Concourses were lit only by small emergency lights. One elevator got stuck with people inside, and firefighters had to rescue them. Credit card machines shut down.

    Have you thought about what else you might lose during a power outage?

    out-of-service-atm - Super Bowl Image via Real World Survivor

    If you live in a high-rise building, for example, water most likely is pumped to your floor. Lose power, and the pumps won’t work. Also, do you keep emergency cash in small bills? In a power outage, you won’t be able to access an ATM, and your credit card won’t work.

    Communication proved vital to keeping people calm. The public address announcer immediately came on and encouraged fans to stay in their seats. Social media went crazy: AT&T reported that in the Superdome, cell data use was almost doubled from the same time the year before. In fact, the NFL’s security chief said fans were calm because of their preoccupation with their electronic devices.

    Do you have a way to receive communication during a power outage? Do you have a way to charge your phones? Be aware that during a disaster, cell phone service will likely be jammed, so try to use text messaging to communicate.

    Although authorities haven’t found any credible security threats to Super Bowl 50, they are concerned about a recent spate of attacks on fiber optic cables.  Since July 2014, vandals in northern California have cut at least 16 fiber optic lines, which carry Internet, TV, and phone information. Tens of thousands of people have been affected, but so have banks, stores, and anyone else that uses broadband services to communicate information. Hypothetically speaking, it would be bad enough if a person can’t access their (expensive) e-ticket to get into the event; it’d be worse if, say, a hospital can’t access a person’s medical records.

    So this weekend, be prepared. Be safe. Have fun. And go Broncos.

    - Melissa

     

    February - Power Banner - Super Bowl

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