Tag Archives: drought

  • Beware These 5 Common Natural Disasters

    My family used to live on the edge of Tornado Alley. Since we saw tornado warnings every year, our 72-hour kits were extremely portable.

    Now we live in an area where tornadoes are extremely unlikely, yet earthquakes are a real possibility. Our home does not stand in an area with a major flood or fire risk that could require immediate evacuation. So our 72-hour kit is less portable and in stronger containers.

    If people know what natural disasters are more likely in their location, they can better prepare, argued Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter from the Department of Geography of the University of South Carolina in a 2008 study.

    Common Natural Resources - All National Weather Service

    “Improved understanding of how to react in a hazard event will contribute to reduced deaths from hazard events in high-mortality areas,” they wrote.

    Some types of natural disasters are prevalent everywhere.

    Here’s a list of five common natural disasters with the highest mortality rates, according to the University of South Carolina study.


    Heat or Drought

    Common Natural Disasters - Drought

    In 2014, heat killed an estimated 124 people, more than any other type of natural disaster, according to the National Weather Service.

    A stagnant atmosphere and poor air quality creates prime conditions for heat-related illness, according to ready.gov. Urban areas face higher risk of heat disasters because asphalt and concrete store more heat during the day and release it more slowly at night than unpaved land does.

    Drought can contaminate water supplies and create food shortages. It can also cause other natural disasters, like the 1988 Yellowstone wildfires.


    Summer Weather

    This category includes fog, thunderstorms, wind, and hail. These types of weather can hit throughout the year.




    Common Natural Disasters - FloodsFlooding killed an average of 71 people per year in the last 10 years, according to the National Weather Service. Almost half were due to people trying to cross flooded roads or overflowing streams or rivers, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Vehicles float in only 18 inches of water. Six inches can make a person fall. Flash floods can require evacuation in minutes.



    Common Natural Disasters - Tornadoes In the last 10 years, tornadoes killed an average of 110 people per year.

    A category five tornado in May 2011 in Joplin, Mo., killed 160 people in 38 minutes. It was the costliest tornado in U.S. history, causing $2.8 billion in damages, according to 24/7 Wall Street. Another in Moore, Okla., in 2013, killed 49 people, more than 40 percent children, and caused nearly $2.5 billion in damage.


    The first four types of natural disaster – heat, storms, winter weather, and floods – are fairly frequent in every state. Tornadoes are less frequent in some states though they have touched down in every one. According to the University of South Carolina study, it’s not as important how often deaths from natural disasters occur as where.

    “Even if researchers could definitively assert the 'deadliest hazard,' a better issue to pose is where residents are more susceptible to fatalities from natural hazards within the United States,” they wrote.

    You can find out what common natural disasters your state is most prone to at Your State Perils,

    The Deep South and Mountain West have the highest mortality rates.

    Alabama led the nation in per capita deaths from all types of natural disasters during the last five years, according to 24/7 Wall Street. In 2014, 63 people there died from extreme temperatures, 54 people died from wind, 47 died from tornadoes, and 38 died from flooding. Each figure was the highest in the nation.

    The other eight states in 24/7 Wall Street’s story with high mortality rates from natural disasters include, in order from greatest to least, Missouri, Wyoming, Arkansas, Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Montana and Tennessee.

    While there are more dangers than just the aforementioned occurrences, these five common natural disasters are definitely ones to watch out for. Know the threats in the area in which you live and travel and plan accordingly.


    What are some common natural disasters in your area? Let us know how you prepare for them!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: summer weather, heat, common natural disasters, drought, winter weather, Tornado, flood

  • Greywater Can Save Water

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    Let’s face it. Most of us can’t do much of anything about where we get our municipal water.

    However, we can do quite a bit about how much we use.

    By recycling some of the water used in their homes, called greywater, some homeowners in north-central California cut their water use by an average of 26 percent, according to a 2013 study by Greywater Action.

    Greywater Washing MachineGreywater is used water from bathroom sinks, tubs and washing machines. One writer described it as gently used. Greywater recycling systems collect at least some of this water for landscape irrigation or flushing the toilet.

    Collection is as simple as sticking a bucket in the shower or as complex as the NEXtreater, an installed system that washes greywater, sends it through two filters and a UV light and stores it so it comes out looking and smelling like tap water.

    The three most common types of greywater collections systems are laundry-to-landscape, branched drain, and pumped, according to Greywater Action.

    Laundry-to-landscape is the easiest and least expensive. In fact, plans and directions are free online. It simply takes water from the washing machine and, using the washing machine pump, sends it outside. Branched drain also takes water from sinks and showers and does the same thing. Both go out to a mulch basin, basically a hole in the ground filled with wood chips, and out to plants.

    A pump system takes greywater, stores it in a tank and pumps it to where you want it.

    Greywater pipes are separate from pipes that go to sewage.

    Greywater Action’s study found that laundry-to-landscape systems can cost $250 to $2,000, depending on installation and permit costs (in some states, no permit is necessary). Branched drain systems cost from $400 to $3,000, pumped systems cost $600 to $3,000 and high-tech systems like the NEXtreater that filter and clean water can cost $5,000 to $10,000.

    Homes can be retrofitted for greywater recycling, said Ralph Petroff, Executive chairman of Nexus eWater, the company that makes the NEXtreater.

    “We think that, nationally, maybe 50 percent of the homes could do a full-house gray-water retrofit relatively inexpensively, and the other 50 percent would be either challenging or you could do a partial retrofit,” he said in an interview with Water Deeply.

    Greywater can’t be used for everything, according to greywateraction.org.

    Greywater Drip IrrigationFor example, the water shouldn’t touch the edible parts of garden plants. Therefore, a drip irrigation system is necessary and greywater isn’t for root crops like carrots.

    Greywater should not pool or create runoff and, unless it’s a high tech system, should be used the day it’s produced so it doesn’t start to stink. It shouldn’t be touched or ingested. A system needs valves so greywater can’t backwash into regular water.

    Normal laundry detergent won’t work with greywater either. It contains salts and boron that accumulate in soil. A story in Mother Earth News said boron levels in detergent should be below 0.1 mg per liter and sodium below 40 mg per liter, which is about as much as in some tap water. Detergent shouldn’t contain bleach. Most bath products are OK because they’re used in such small amounts, according to Mother Earth News.

    Greywater codes differ between states. Look for them in the state’s plumbing codes in its building department or in its environmental health department, Laura Allen wrote in “The Water Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape.”

    “Florida bans outdoor greywater use but allows it for flushing toilets. Georgia allows you to carry greywater in buckets to the plants, but you can’t get a permit to build a simple greywater irrigation system. Washington State’s code allows very small systems built without a permit (following performance guidelines), but all other systems have quite stringent requirements. Oregon requires an annual permit fee,” Allen wrote.

    Even though greywater can come with difficulty, using it could produce extraordinary water savings, according to waternow.com.

    “If just 10 percent of California’s 12 million+ households captured and reused greywater, the state could save 373,000 acre-feet annually. Just for comparison: The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir holds about 300,000 acre-feet. The proposed expansion of Shasta Reservoir would yield about 76,000 acre-feet annually,” according to its California Graywater Factsheet.


    How are you recycling your water?


    Posted In: Budgeting, Gardening, Water Storage Tagged With: sullage, graywater, greywater, water conservation, drought

  • Proof California Can Beat the Drought

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    California is losing more water than it receives. Likewise, other states are in similar drought conditions. What would it take beat the drought? To ask another question, what would it take to turn a desert into an oasis capable of providing enough food and water for millions of people?

    Beat the Drought - Israel Restoration Israel

    The answer? Ask Israel.

    The Middle Eastern country has fought for many millennia to produce a way to subsist in the desert. Now, Israel is something of a paradise.

    They didn’t reach this point overnight. It took time. Israel had to convince her population that their water wouldn’t last forever. There were sacrifices that had to be made. But, according to Alexander Kushnir, head of Israel’s Water Authority, it was their attitude towards the situation.

    They said they would beat the water shortage and dadgummit they did! It took improvising – including various water recycling methods – and developing innovative new technologies, such as drip irrigation (which is utilized all throughout North America). They have also chosen to plant crops that can succeed in an area that receives almost no rain at all throughout the year. Israel has made changes to the way they operate in regards to their water. Now, they are no longer lacking for water.

    So what can California, Nevada, and other drought-stricken states learn from Israel? For one thing, they can learn that it’s possible to beat the drought. But it might take some tough actions, sacrifices, and more innovation.

    In the case of Israel, it’s a country approximately the size of New Jersey, with just over 8 million people. California, on the other hand, boasts a population of just under 40 million. So of course, there will be differences in the way their drought is fought.

    Beat the drought - don't drink water?But one of the takeaways here is that it’s all about attitude. No matter where you live, drought may pay a visit, or maybe it’s already worn out its welcome. No matter which category you fall under, overcoming the drought may require more than just not drinking water while eating out.

    While there’s not a whole lot you can do on a national or state level, you can still do your part. And, if you play your cards right, doing your part could help you conserve and save more water for you and your family to use later on.

    Like Israel, take initiative when it comes to conserving – and storing – water. Instead of watering your lawn, perhaps you could use some of that water to fill up containers for future use. Instead of taking a long shower, just be in and out as fast as you can and use the water you would have consumed to keep filling those water containers.

    Rain barrels are another option for collecting water, so if it ever does rain, you’ll be set. Recycle water when you can. Excess shower water can be used to water plants, for example. If you live close to the ocean, desalinators could become very useful. Desalinators take salt water (like that from the sea), subtracts the salt and other unpleasantries found therein, and leaves you with good, clean drinking water. Although they are rather expensive, they could be a life saver.

    Just like how Israel found ways to be self-sufficient with water, you can too. You may not be able to beat the drought for your state, but you can at least beat the drought for your family.


    How have you beat the drought you're in?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Water Storage Tagged With: Israel, beat the drought, California, drought, water

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