Tag Archives: Current Events

  • Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms

    1_28_15 Weathering the Worst of Winter StormsThe torrential blizzard predicted to bury New York City turned out to be just delightful snow flurries dusting the iconic Manhattan landmarks. For Boston and the rest of New England, however, Winter Storm Juno lived up to its headliner forecast, dumping 3 feet of snow and more before moving on.

    For every American living in snow country, however, Juno served as a wake-up call, reminding us that the best time to prepare for the "big one" is while the sun is shining, before dark clouds appear on the Weather Service radar and time is running out.

    These simple tips will help you get ready for the next time the snow piles up, the power goes out, the roads are closed, and help may be days away.

    Before the Storm...

    ...Put Together a 72-Hour Kit
    The first three days after a big storm are the toughest. With roads closed and walkways buried, running to the store is dangerous, if not impossible. In addition to paralyzing snow and ice, winter storms often cause widespread power outages and broken water pipes. So, a useful 72-hour kit should contain water, heat, light and communications, as well.
    Here is a short list of the types of things you'll likely need until you can venture out after a big winter storm:

    Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate. Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate.
    •  Three days of non-perishable foods like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and freeze-dried meals
    • A manual can opener
    • Three days of water (at least three gallons per person)
    • First-aid kit, with essential prescription medicines
    • Flashlights, candles and light sticks
    • Cell phone, with hand-crank charger
    • Portable radio or NOAA weather radio
    • Extra radio and flashlight batteries
    • Baby-care items
    • Pet supplies
    • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
    • A fire extinguisher

    Keep in mind that if your workplace is a long commute from home, you'll need the same items at the office (minus baby and pet supplies, perhaps). Plus, keeping an Emergency Car Kit in your trunk will assure you're ready if weather conditions force you to wait for help along the roadside.

    Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage. Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage.

    ...Get Your House Ready

    A few regular home maintenance tasks can do more than just keep a neat home. They can also protect you and your family in the event of a big snowfall or ice storm, as well.

    Take time to see to the following:

    • Ice, snow and wind can snap tree limbs down onto the roof, windows and power lines. Trim away tree branches close to your home.
    • Keep rain gutters clean. Otherwise, snow and ice can build up and allow water to seep under the roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
    • See that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working and store fresh batteries.
    • Have your chimney flue checked and cleaned, if necessary, to lessen the risk of fire.
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep out cold air.
    • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
    • Wrap pipes in insulating foam to keep them from freezing. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
    • Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
    • Check your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

    ...Plan for Lights Out

    We all know that, even in the best of times, power outages are not uncommon. While the occasional unplanned candle-lit evening is a charming break from the routine, extended power outages particularly in stormy weather can present significant problems even dangers. These simple steps can further prepare your family for blackouts, whenever they occur:

    Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms3

    • Power sensing flashlights come on automatically when the power goes out. Plug-in a few around your home. Candles and light sticks should be a prep staple, as well.
    • Furnaces, even gas and oil-fired ones, cannot operate without electricity to power the blowers. An indoor rated kerosene or propane heater will keep living spaces livable.
    • Keep a bit of cash stashed in a safe place, since stores and other services (if they are open) will not be able to process credit and debit cards.
    • Make a practice of refilling your car's tank at the half-empty point. This assures you will have at least a tank half-full when electric gas pumps won't operate.
    • Store ice packs that can be moved into the fridge, or into a small cooler for meds.
    • Know how to release garage door openers so that you can manually open your garage.

    Juno reminds us that winter weather can be hard to forecast. But we can all predict that we'll each take our turn being caught in a dangerous storm. These few simple steps can mean the difference between frantically surviving and comfortably weathering your next winter storm.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, Survival, Winter

  • Lake Effect and Ice Storms: The Right and Left Jabs of Winter

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    Winter storm Hektor is raising heck this week, sweeping snow and ice from the Ohio Valley clear down to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, while weather-weary New Yorkers are still digging out from up to 5 feet of lake-effect snow dumped along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario last weekend. Throughout the East, Midwest, and South area officials are urging residents to prepare for extreme cold, power outages, and road closures that could last for days.

    Every winter we hear about them: lake-effect snowfall and ice storms—the one-two punch of winter weather that affects millions. But what are these brutal weather phenomena, and what destruction do they leave in their wake?

    What is a Lake-Effect Storm?

    Folks living on the eastern and southern shores of the Great Lakes are quite familiar with the dreaded “Lake Effect,” as are residents of northern Utah living east of the Great Salt Lake. In fact, wherever a large body of water meets a blast of cold air, you have the recipe for a dumping of lake-effect snow. Caused by simple physics, these uncommonly heavy snowfalls occur when warm, moist air over a lake rises into a moving front of cold air. As this moisture lifts, it cools, condenses, and then falls as snow, and lots of it…often as much as 5 inches an hour for several hours.
    Just before last Thanksgiving, Buffalo, New York was pounded by just such a lake-effect storm, receiving up to 5 feet of snow in only 24 hours. Cars were buried, roofs collapsed, and roads were closed. Life came to a standstill for everyone except the snowplow drivers.

    Lake Effect Snow: How It Works

    How are Ice Storms Different from Lake Effect Storms?

    As dramatic as lake-effect snowstorms can be, ice storms are even more destructive. Ice storms are caused by conditions almost exactly opposite those of lake-effect storms. They occur when warm, moist air above moves over a cold air mass below. As the moisture above turns to rain, it falls through the cold air, becoming super-cooled until it hits the cold ground. Immediately the rain turns to ice, coating everything including roads, trees, and power lines. Havoc on the freeway, downed power lines, and trees falling onto roads and houses are only the beginning of an ice storm’s chaos. Unable to open doors, people become trapped in their cars. Crops are severely damaged. Walking outdoors is near impossible.
    If the inconvenience of such weather events is not bad enough, these types of storms become a real health hazard. Thousands of injuries occur on the highway, as well as the result of falls on ice and snow. High winds and cold temperatures often lead to hypothermia and frostbite, particularly for those trapped in their cars, or at home without heat and power. Risk from these hazards increases as people are forced to venture into the storm to find help.

    Freezing Rain: How It Works

    So What Can You Do to Stay Safe, Fed, and Warm?

    While the health and welfare of thousands are threatened by lake-effect and ice storms every winter, many endure them well. Those who thrive best are those best prepared. A three-day store of easy-to-prepare food and water will relieve concerns about leaving home to stay fed. Emergency lighting and a heater with fuel will be warmly welcomed during extended power outages. And a portable kit filled with food, water light, and heat in the car and at the office will make both places much more pleasant until it’s safe to come home.

    For all, it’s wise to remember: wherever you are, bad weather will eventually find you, too. Be Prepared.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, Current Events, Winter

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (Jan 4 to Jan 9 2015)

    View in Amarillo Texas Feb 25 2013 - NWS-Amarillo

    View in Amarillo, Texas on Feb. 25, 2013. (Credit: NWS-Amarillo)

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of January 4 to January 9.

    1. Weather Channel Teaches Blizzard Facts and Myths

    Amidst turbulent snowstorms across the United States, the Weather Channel released an infographic explaining the true definition of the term “blizzard” (did you know we’ve all been misusing the term all this time?) and providing little known blizzard facts, such as the existence of a “blizzard alley” across the Midwest. Read more at www.weather.com.
    Don’t forget to stock up on hand warmers and blankets, and snag a portable, propane-powered heater in case of power or gas outages that knock the heat out at home.
    For more winter preparedness tips, check out these articles.

    2. California health officials link measles outbreak to Disneyland

    Officials have linked at least nine cases of measles to Disneyland and California Adventure. Three more people are suspected of also carrying the disease. Those ill visited the popular theme parks in late December. Officials are urging those who have visited either park between December 15 and 20 who have symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately. Read more at www.reuters.com.
    Protect yourself and your family from outbreaks through proper vaccinations, good sanitation practices, and knowledge of first aid skills. And be sure to keep your first aid kits well-stocked so you can deal with wounds, burns, and breaks at home or on the go.

    3. President Obama Signs Mississippi Disaster Declaration

    The president has declared a major disaster in Mississippi following a series of tornadoes and severe storms on December 23. Federal funds will be provided to state and local entities for emergency work in Marion County and hazard mitigation across the state. Read more at www.whitehouse.gov.
    For tips on tornado preparedness, look here. Think ahead of time where you’ll go in case of a tornado, hurricane, or severe storm, and check out this article for ideas on what to keep in your storm shelter or safe room.

    4. ‘Culture of preparedness’ necessary to prevent disasters before they happen in Seychelles

    The Republic of Seychelles’ President James Michel is asking the 90,000 island inhabitants to develop a culture of preparedness to help prevent disasters before they occur. Severe weather caused flooding and landslides last weekend on the country’s largest islands. The Republic of Seychelles consists of 115 islands and lies in the Indian Ocean east of Kenya and Tanzania. Read more at www.seychellesnewsagency.com.
    Learn how to prepare for floods here. An emergency kit is always a great starting point for any disaster. Work gloves, tools, and your own power supply can also be pretty crucial in the days after a flood.

    5. UCSF professor shares quake preparedness tips

    Associate Professor of Medicine Matthew Springer of UC San Francisco spoke to a group earlier this week on how to prepare for an earthquake. Springer lectured on the importance of seeking shelter from falling objects underneath something sturdy, as well as building an emergency supply kit. Read more at www.napavalleyregister.com.

    Find Earthquake preparedness tips for before, during, and after a quake here. If you have to evacuate from home after a quake because it has become unsafe, you’ll be glad to have an emergency kit in your car and an evacuation plan already in place.

     

    More Headlines From Around the Globe This Week:
    Cold weather preparedness for your home
    Hyogo to dig wells at schools designated as disaster shelters to ensure water access
    Red Cross to offer disaster preparedness training
    Wind chills so cold in Midwest they could kill
    Nine earthquakes rattle North Texas in under 24 hours

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

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