Tag Archives: Prepare

  • Hurricanes: Early Arrivers Can Blow the Party

    Do you know why I like to be ready to host a party well before the guests arrive? It’s because there’s always that one person who just has to show-up super early. And, if I’m not ready by the time he shows up, he’ll make sure I’m never ready for the actual party because I’m too busy entertaining him.

    That’s what hurricane season is like. You know it’s coming, but there always seems to be that one storm that just has to be early.

    Well, folks, hurricane season is fast approaching (officially starting on June 1), and the early birds are already starting to arrive.

    Atlantic 2-Day Weather Outlook (5-8-15) Retrieved 5/8/15

    The National Hurricane Center is kind enough to provide us with a Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook of impending storms. This image was retrieved on Friday, May 08, 2015. As you can see, this looks to be quite the sub-tropical storm. Fortunately, this isn’t going to be a full-on hurricane, but it’s still going to whip your hair back and forth with a vengeance.

    This just goes to show that putting off our prep until the last moment can leave us high and dry. Er, windy and soaked? Well, you get the idea.

    trop-recent-may-storms-since-2007And this isn’t the only storm that’s wanted a head-start on the hurricane race. Since 2007, there have been three storms strong enough to be given names arrive before June 1 (only the memorable storms get names). There have been many more May storms before that, too. This particular storm we're talking about has been dubbed Ana - the first named storm of 2015.

    Now that we’re aware of these early party goers and that they can come in weeks before anticipated (which is a whole lot more rude than my hour-early party guest), we know that we’ll have to step up our A-game when it comes to preparing for hurricanes. Don’t wait, start now.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has issued a notice that, among other things, “adequate and advance preparation is one of the most significant ways Texans can help mitigate the unpredictable and dangerous nature of hurricanes.” The DPS also gave warning that hurricanes can cause massive amounts of damage even several hundred miles inland. Talk about a party crasher.

    So before a hurricane shows up, remember to take the following precautions in order to be safe and reduce damage from the storm.

     

    1. Emergency Kit

    No matter what the disaster, I will always tell you to have an emergency kit. You never know what kinds of incidents a hurricane can cause, so it’s best to be prepared. Be sure to have enough food and water to last you three days. Don’t forget flashlights (and batteries!), blankets, and a first aid kit. You’ll want to take care of any cuts and scrapes to avoid any infections. Check out our pre-built emergency kits, or go to ready.gov/build-a-kit for more details on how you can create your own.

     

    1. Secure Your Property

    Bring in any outside furniture, bicycles, or other items that aren’t secured. Cover your windows. The best option to protect your windows are permanent storm shutters. If you don’t have those, the next best option would be to use plywood, pre-cut to fit your window frame. If you have trees or shrubs, make sure they’re well-trimmed. This way they are more wind resistant and have a better chance of remaining where they were planted.

     

    1. Have a Plan

    If you don’t already know your community hurricane evacuation routes, be sure to start learning them. Teach your children these routes, and also help them know where to go to find higher ground.

     

    1. Communication

    You may not be with your family when disaster strikes. This is why it’s important to have a family communications plan. Find someone – a relative or trusted friend – that lives out of state that you can contact and notify that you’re safe. It may be easier to call out-of-town numbers than local ones. Text messages also have a better chance of going through when phone calls can’t. Have your kids memorize your number.

     

    Hurricane

    We can know a hurricane is coming many days before it hits, so we don’t have to be caught off guard when it does arrive. And even though hurricanes can surprise us by showing up early, they have the decency to let us know their intent. Of course, it’s always still best to be prepared even before we are made aware of the oncoming storm. So, don’t be upset when Mother Nature crashes your party early. Be prepared, now, to be a good host when she shows up.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: party crasher, Hurricane, Prepare

  • Can Animals Predict Earthquakes?

    When it comes to natural disasters, early warning systems are literal lifesavers. That’s why seismologists and earthquake engineers have spent decades trying to identify early predictors of earthquakes—without much luck, unfortunately. But while seismographic technology gets fancier and more expensive, one group of researchers is taking a different tack.

     

    Multicoloured cute kitty in karate style jump positionFolk wisdom has long held that animals exhibit unusual behavior prior to an earthquake. The US Geological Survey helpfully reminds us that animals do weird things for lots of unexplained reasons (why, for example, does the neighbor’s cat single me out for cuddles when I’m the only allergic person in the room?). A newly published study documents just such unusual behavior in Peru’s Yanachaga National Park the week before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Evidence of this unusual behavior came through the park's motion triggered cameras:

     

    "[It was] determined that the park's cameras traditionally see between five and 15 animals in one day. However, a whole week before the earthquake struck, that number dramatically dropped, with five or fewer animals spotted by any one camera five to seven days before the quake."

     

    Unusual indeed.

     

    The science seems sound: pressure built up before an earthquake sends an electric charge through layers of rock, which is released into the air at the surface, causing the ionization of air molecules. Ionization can affect serotonin levels in mammals, and while a little serotonin feels pretty good (that’s the chemical in our brain that contributes to feelings of happiness and relaxation), too much serotonin can have the opposite affect. Researchers hypothesize that animals suffering from nausea or restlessness associated with too much serotonin in an earthquake prone area will move to a place with less charged air—which is exactly what happened on camera in Peru.

     

    All this is fantastically exciting when it comes to earthquake prediction, but it’s not exactly practical information yet. Unless you have a convenient way to monitor your dog’s serotonin levels, you might be better off focusing on preparedness, rather than prediction—especially if you live in an area prone to earthquakes. Here are a few ways we can use our resources to plan ahead for the Big One.

     

    Have a plan. As with any disaster, the most crucial tool in our toolbox is a plan. Know the safest place to hunker down in your house. Know how to contact family members at work or school. Know where you’ll all meet when it’s over. And make sure kids practice the plan until it’s second nature.

     

    Get gear. We all know we need to have an emergency kit. If you live in earthquake country, there may be more specific items you should have handy. Consider storing things like heavy-duty work gloves and boots, dust masks, and insurance information. It’s also smart to keep shoes and a flashlight by every bed, in the event of a nighttime tremor.

     

    Secure your space. Many of the injuries sustained during an earthquake are not from collapsing structures, but from broken glass and falling objects. Heavy furniture—and especially top-heavy pieces—should be bolted to walls; items on bookshelves can be stabilized with putty; and heavy wall art or mirrors or shelves should never hang over beds and couches. Additionally, know how to shut off gas and water, and make sure any structural cracks or leaks are repaired.

     

    Be your own best resource. No early warning system is as reliable as good, old-fashioned know-how. Become an expert in earthquake protocols. Learn CPR. Head up a community response team. Practice earthquake drills. And read up on engineering codes for your area to make sure your family and neighborhood are safe.

     

    Have you experienced an earthquake? What are your best tips for earthquake prep?

     

     

     

    References:

     

    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/13766/20150330/animals-still-best-earthquake-warning-system-weve.htm

     

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007272.htm

     

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682609001837

     

    https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/earthquakes.html

     

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaqk_facts_fantasy.php

     

    http://earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps/

     

    http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

     

    http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: predict, Prepare, Earthquake, animals

  • Prepare to Prepare

    We talk a lot on this blog about current events, disasters in progress or recent emergencies. While world events serve to remind us of the importance of proper preparation, by the time catastrophe strikes, it’s too late to prepare. So, assuming you’re not under six feet of snow or facing an oncoming tidal wave at this precise moment, what can you do today to begin prepping for an emergency?

     

    In answer to that question, here are some key initial steps. Or, as we like to call it…

     

    Preparing to prepare.

     

    Time to PlanDepending on where we live and time of year, we all have specific natural disasters that could potentially affect us. And while I’d need to prep a little differently for a flood than you might for an earthquake, there is a common set of first priorities. According to experts, those first priorities boil down to 1) having a kit, 2) making a plan, and 3) informing yourself.

     

    Have a kit. No matter whether you’re cut off by a mudslide or a blizzard has taken out the power, you’re going to need to eat, drink, and stay warm. A basic stash of supplies for the whole family will get you through those crucial first 72 hours. Office organizations like FEMA, the Red Cross, Ready.gov, and even the CDC offer helpful checklists of what to include in your emergency kit, but all of them include these basics:

    Emergency Kit

    • A three-day supply of water, figuring one gallon of water per person per day
    • Three days’ worth of food for the whole family
    • First aid supplies
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Knife, can opener, wrench, or other multifunction tool
    • Extra clothing and shoes
    • Toiletries
    • Medications
    • Infant or pet needs
    • Blankets
    • Cash
    • Important documents

     

    Ideally, every member of the family should have their own pack, and packs should be stored somewhere easily accessible. We like the idea of working on these together and keeping a checklist like this one out where kids can check items off as you acquire them.

     

    Make a plan. There are all sorts of reasons your family may have to evacuate. And as FEMA puts it on the introduction to their fantastic Basic Preparedness guide, “You plan only once, and are able to apply your plan to all types of hazards.” Begin preparations for bugging out by talking about possible scenarios. And remember, circumstances may require leaving your house or leaving your town! Prep for each eventuality by determining:

    Family Disaster Plan

    • The safest place inside your home to hunker down, as in the case of an earthquake or tornado
    • Best escape routes out of the house (have at least two!)
    • Two designated meeting points: somewhere close, but clear of your home; and an out-of-town location for larger-scale evacs
    • A communication strategy—who will call whom, by what point does everyone need to check in, and how will we reach each other if cell towers are down?

     

    We really like the specific emergency plan templates available at Ready.gov, or we’ve compiled a comprehensive Emergency and Evacuation Plan template you can fill in with your specific information and plan.

     

    Inform yourself. To be truthful, this is kind of a catch-all designation. The first two steps will see your family through the initial days of a serious disaster; after that, you’ll have to depend on your knowledge, skills, and ingenuity, which is why education is such a key ingredient to preparation. Pick any one of these areas to start, and build your repertoire of personal resources over time.

     

    • Know which natural disasters are likely in your area, and learn disaster-specific preparation.
    • Learn about your community’s notification systems and protocols for emergencies, including schools and hospitals.
    • Sign up for local or national text alerts.
    • Certify in CPR.
    • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher, shut off utilities, and prepare a home for severe weather.
    • Organize a neighborhood emergency response team.
    • Beef up your survival skills—building a fire, constructing a shelter, cooking outdoors, etc.

     

    FEMA’s guide, mentioned above, is a great, basic starting point. Another treasure trove of information is the Education tab on our website, which includes a searchable archive of all our blog posts.

     

    Remember, preparedness is less a state than it is a process. And, like any endeavor, the most important step is the first. Start today with these ideas, and build on your skills and resources as you progress. And don’t forget to keep us posted along the way—what are you doing today to prepare for tomorrow?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: Prepare, Emergency plan

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