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  • Hurricane Hazards

    Have you heard the one about hurricanes in the middle of a drought? They’re called “The Carolina Hurricanes,” and their 6-year playoff drought is a real disaster. But hurricane (and hockey) jokes aside, let’s get down to business: hurricane hazards.

    Famous for torrential rain and lashing winds, do you know where most hurricane damage occurs? If you say flooding, you’re right! You rocked it, as they say, like a hurricane! Most hurricane damage is caused by flooding, and not generally from the rainfall, but from rising ocean levels called “storm surge.” This storm surge affects more than those on the coast, too; storm surges can penetrate many miles inland, as we recently witnessed in New Jersey during hurricane Sandy.

    Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge National Hurricane Center

    A storm surge is a huge wave of water caused by a storm’s strong winds. They can reach as high as 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. Storm surges can damage buildings, erode and cause damage to beaches, and are one of the leading causes of death during hurricanes.

    A prime example of the devastation a surge can cause is in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. According to the National Hurricane Center, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.” This is one reason those ordered by government officials to evacuate should do so without delay. Staying behind could be disastrous.

    Because it’s easier to visualize a storm surge with, well, visuals, I have two videos that will help you understand what they are and how you can prepare. This first video comes to you from the U.S. National Weather Service will help you learn more about storm surges and where to go for more information regarding this hazard:

    Ready.gov and the National Weather Service have some great information on hurricanes, their hazards, and how we can be ready.

    This next video is an animation retrieved from the National Hurricane Center shows an example of the destruction a storm surge can do when a hurricane comes in:

     

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/animations/hurricane_stormsurge.swf

     

    Besides storm surges, there are many other hazards associated with hurricanes. As if being in a hurricane isn’t disaster enough, tornadoes are also a common inland occurrence that accompany hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service claims that “in recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado.”

    Hurrican Hazards - Rip Current NOAA.gov

    Another hurricane hazard are rip currents. Rip currents aren’t your ordinary ocean shoreline current. Strong winds can almost reverse the natural shoreline waves that, instead of pulling water towards shore, actually pull away from shore. These currents are deadly, and hurricanes can produce these currents at our shores from hundreds of miles away. For example, the National Hurricane Center reported that “in 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.”

    Even 1,000 miles offshore, Bertha produced strong rip currents that effected swimmers on the shores for over a week! That right there is a great reason to always check the water conditions before you hit the beach. After all, rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

    Hurricane Hazards - Winds The Telegraph

    This article on hurricane hazards just wouldn’t be complete without talking about the high winds that accompany hurricanes. A category 1 hurricane starts with wind speeds of 74-95mph. As the wind speeds increase, so does the category number, until it reaches category 5, which is 157 mph and higher. Even a category 1 hurricane will have dangerous winds that will produce damage. As the category number rises, so will the damage it causes. Check out this link here for more information on hurricane categories, their wind speeds, and what to expect from the damage they will cause.

    Hurricanes do have something of a bright side. Unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, this natural disaster tends to give us several days’ notice, so there should be time to board up, alert the family and evacuate if need be. However, don’t expect to be able to stock-up once news of a hurricane hits; stores will be picked bare within an hour of when ground zero is identified.

    Know the hazards hurricanes bring so you can keep yourself safe.

     

    How do you prepare for these hazards? Let us know your thoughts in comments!

     

    Hurricane Hazards - Main Page

    Posted In: Additional Reading, Disaster Scenarios, Insight Tagged With: storm surge, winds, rip current, hurricane hazards, Hurricane

  • Procrastination: A Recipe For Disaster(s)

    Why aren’t you prepared for a major emergency?

    According to a recent survey of 3,000 people, the majority claim they just keep putting off getting prepared. These people have even taken First Aid courses, so we know they’re interested and even want to be ready. Procrastination is keeping us from being prepared.

    Procrastination and emergency shelter does not mix.We all know disasters like to make an appearance when it’s least convenient for us, and when we least expect it. The recent 7.8 magnitude Nepal earthquake should be a smack back to reality. One moment life is good, the next…, well, it’s quite literally in shambles. This earthquake is just one reason we should not just be thinking about preparing, but actually doing it. And if you don’t think such a disaster can happen to you, just remember the earthquake that struck Michigan earlier this month. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that "It's rare for Michigan to experience earthquakes, but as we were reminded today, it does happen.”

    And if it does happen, why do we still procrastinate?

    Mike Lloyd of News 1130 thinks that starting to prepare can be a little overwhelming, and he may be right. That’s why St. John Ambulance is providing people with 15 Easy Steps to Emergency Preparedness. St. John Ambulance is trying to remind people about the basics and also other things that people tend to forget about.

     

    1. Make An Emergency Plan

    It all starts here, folks. As Ben Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Does anybody ever really want to fail? And yet we plan on it – all the time – when we don’t plan ahead for disaster. Make a plan. To get you started, here are some things you should think about when planning:

    • Exits and evacuation routes
    • Family meeting place
    • Emergency contact
    • Plan for pets
    • Important documents (Social Security cards, birth certificates, insurance, photos of family members and pets, passports, health information, prescriptions, etc.).

     

    1. Emergency Kit

    This is pretty much the go-to for every disaster. Make sure you have a kit, because when disaster strikes, hospitals could very likely only be taking in those that are most seriously injured. Your emergency kit should help you survive the next three days after the disaster. But you might not even be home when the disaster hits, to the people at St. John Ambulance suggest to plan ahead for that, too.

     

    “You may be in a vehicle, so you need a kit for on the road or at work. You may have high-heeled shoes on at work – how are you going to walk? You may not get home for many days.”

     

    If you’re unsure where to start in building your emergency kit, ready.gov has some good resources to look through. Or, if you’d prefer getting a kit already packed and prepared by experts, check out our wide-range of emergency kits.

     

    1. Emergency Food and Water Storage

    We are all encouraged to be able to sustain ourselves for at least three days following a disaster. Having an emergency kit will definitely help with that, but without food and water (especially water), it’s going to be most unpleasant.

    Water storage doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by filling up 2-litre bottles from your kitchen sink and storing them out of direct sunlight. Each person should have about a gallon of water per day, so if you’re planning on using 2-litre bottles, that’s going to be about 6 bottles per person per day. If you have more room, consider investing in some water jugs, or even water barrels. These will help provide you with more water, so if you do need more than just three-days’ worth of water, you’ll be prepared. At the very least, make sure you have enough water for 72-hours. Every six to 12 months, you should get out your water storage and switch out the water so it always tastes fresh.

    Food is also fairly simple to store these days. Freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years, so if you get a can or two of your favorite meal to keep on hand, you’ll have a three-day supply of food without any hassle on your end. Best of all, freeze-dried meals are delicious and easy to prepare – just add hot water, wait about 10 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a full-on meal!

     

    Procrastination is unpreparedness.So you see, preparing for disaster doesn’t have to be hard. You can even start today by filling water containers and stashing them in your storage room. That will take about five minutes.

    Now’s the time to start preparing. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Even if nothing happens, there is peace of mind that comes in knowing that if a disaster did strike, you would be ready for it. Don't let procrastination get the best of you. Prepare today!

     

     

    What strategies have you found that help you get motivated to prepare?

     

     

    Drought Procrastination - Dont' Do It

     

    Posted In: Emergency Cooking, Emergency Kits, First Aid and Sanitation, Food Storage, Insight, Planning Tagged With: procrastination, disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness, water, First Aid, Emergency plan, food storage

  • How Good Sanitation Can Save Your Life

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    "The conditions are certainly right for cholera to take hold"

    That’s how an aid worker described the sanitation conditions in Kathmandu, as reported by NBC. In the same report, a health professional described cholera bluntly. “It kills you within 10 hours…,” he said, “and it’s a disease that affects the poorest of the poor.”

    Sanitation issues in Nepal Chicago Tribune

    And, with 8 million people effected, “the poorest of the poor” have grown dramatically in number. But if it were just cholera the people had to be concerned about, things wouldn’t be as bad. However, there are threats of e.coli, typhoid, and other illnesses. And with the approaching rainy (monsoon) season, things may only get worse. Nepal really is in the most dire of circumstances.

    Following a major disaster, disease and infections tend to spread quickly. According to Medical News Today,

     

    “Diseases and infections are not started in rotting bodies that have been killed by the immediate disaster trauma. In fact, survivors are the source of infection, as their own sanitary conditions deteriorate and sources of clean water are disrupted.”

     

    The Disasters Emergency Committee showed evidence of this from the recent Nepal earthquake: “People are defecating out in the open and there are already reports of diarrheal disease outbreaks and chest infections.”

    Sanitation is a critical part of emergency prep. Without the proper sanitation, not only will you be more likely to get sick, but you’ll be helping to spread that sickness to many others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified five areas of sanitation preparedness that will help you – and others – keep diseases and infections at bay following a disaster.

     

    Disaster Kit

    Your disaster kit should supply you with the basics to stay sanitary. Items could include moist towelettes, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and garbage bags with plastic ties. Fecal matter has a tendency to carry diseases, so be sure to contain it and dispose of it properly (hence the garbage bags with plastic ties). One suggestion for containing your unwanted bodily waste is a portable toilet and privacy shelter. The portable toilet will give you a place to sit and go, and the privacy shelter…well, it will let you do so while still maintaining your dignity.

     

    Wash Your Hands

    Washing hands is good a sanitation practice.If kids have to wash their hands after they cough and sneeze, then we as adults should, too. Washing our hands can eliminate many of the harmful diseases before they have a chance to spread. Remember to wash your hands with clean water. If your tap water isn’t safe, then be sure to boil or sanitize your water before washing with it. If possible, wash with running water as well.

    You should wash your hands for more than just coughing and sneezing, however. If you have kids, just think about when you tell them to wash. Before eating, after using the toilet…that kind of thing. The CDC website has a long list of when to wash up. Make sure you keep your hands clean!

     

    Bathing

    Washing your body is a good health practice to follow. Not only does bathing remove dirt and odors, but also protect us from illness and infections. Finding a bathtub with clean water might not be as easy as before a disaster, but there are other options. For example, you can give yourself a nice, hot shower with the Zodi Extreme Portable Hot Shower. Or, you can turn your water filter into a portable shower with a shower adapter. Pretty handy if you can’t use your own home!

     

    Dental Hygene SanitationDental Hygiene

    Of course, we still need to keep our teeth nice and healthy. When brushing your teeth, make sure you only use water that is safe and clean. Using unclean water will just defeat the purpose.

     

    Wound Care

    A dirty wound can lead to infection and disease. Make sure wounds are clean and covered to keep other infectious microbes from entering. Wash your wounds with soap and clean water. Seek medical attention if the wound starts to swell or if it starts becoming red.

     

     

    Food and water will help you stay alive following a disaster, but if your sanitary situation is sub-par, that food and water can only do so much good. Sickness and disease can be avoided, but it will take planning beforehand to make sure you have the supplies you need to keep you and your family healthy. Are you ready with sanitation?

     

    How have you prepared to stay healthy and sanitary? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, First Aid and Sanitation, Insight, Planning Tagged With: hygene, emergency sanitation, health, Sanitation

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