Tag Archives: preparedness

  • Why You Should Join the ShakeOut

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    On October 15, more than 19 million people across the globe are signed up to drop to the floor, duck under a solid object, and hang on in the world’s largest earthquake drill.

    Drop Cover HOLD ON, NELLY!

    The Great ShakeOut can be a yearly reminder to prepare for an earthquake – a natural disaster that affects all 50 states, according to ready.gov. The same preparations you make for earthquakes can also help you prepare for other types of natural disasters.

    Here are stories of three people who participated in ShakeOuts where they lived.

    Luke was a student at a community college. His school sent him an e-mail saying it was participating in the ShakeOut about a week before the event. He forgot about it. The next week, while he was walking to class, he received a text message saying the event was beginning.

    “I was already outside, so I didn’t do anything,” he said.

    In fact, from his perspective, the event was a dud. When he arrived at his class, only one classmate even knew about the ShakeOut.

    Now he wants to be more prepared for an earthquake. He and his wife, Stephanie, live on the third floor of a building. So they joke their preparation may need to include rappelling gear. More seriously, he said his water heater is free standing and he probably should bolt it down.

    Stephanie has more ideas, including keeping breakables off high shelves and securing bookcases to the wall. She’s from California, so she did an earthquake drill every year.

    Sarah hiding under a deskShe also participated in ShakeOut events in offices where she worked. At one, everyone had to practice crawling under their desks. Several of her coworkers had limited mobility and couldn’t get under, or got stuck under, their desks.

    “They realized, ‘I need to make some serious accommodations for me to be safe,’” she said.

    She thinks ShakeOut-style earthquake drills are useful for several reasons.

    First, they make her aware of hazards she might not otherwise consider. Like obstacles. Her current job is in a building with labs, glass equipment, and chemicals. When coworkers have sturdy furniture, like lab benches, they’ve often stuffed things under them. In an earthquake, those areas would be inaccessible as cover.

    “I think we’d be pretty much doomed,” she joked. “We have a sturdy enough building, but man, it would be scary.”

    Second, drills remind her of emergency procedures. She and her coworkers get trained every year on the individual to call if there’s a chemical spill or other accident.

    “How are we going to remember it if we don’t practice it?” she asked.

    Third, drills help her update her knowledge. For example, she was raised believing she should stand under a door frame during an earthquake. That isn’t recommended anymore.

    “In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. You are safer under a table,” according to earthquakecountry.org.

    Fourth, the drills remind her to think more about emergency preparedness at home. She believes it’s especially important to rehearse emergency meeting places and contact information. When a major earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, she was working for an organization that recruited people to teach there. They had to scramble to find all their teachers so they could let their families know they were safe.

    Next up: Judy. Judy is a budget officer for her state’s highway patrol. She has participated in four ShakeOut drills in her office. No one took the first one seriously, but each year they got a little more conscientious.

    For example, because people in her office with limited mobility couldn’t get under their desks, her office bought hardhats. Another year they bought flashlights that clip onto the hardhats so they can keep their hands free if they need to evacuate over debris.

    Each earthquake drill teaches her little ways to improve her preparation at home, too. Like this tip she shared: keep shoes by or under the bed. That way, if there’s an earthquake and there’s broken glass around, they’ll be easy to reach.

    She keeps a 72-hour emergency kit at her desk and another in her front closet at home. She also keeps blankets and a first aid kit in her car. Her emergency training taught her that, logistically, it’s impossible for outside help to arrive sooner than three days.

    “I always hear people say, ‘I get all this [emergency kits] together and never need it. Well, count yourself [lucky] that you never need it. Sometimes things happen and so many people don’t have it,” she said.



    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: Shake Out, ShakeOut, Earthquake, preparedness

  • Pandemics Aplenty: 5 Tips to Staying Healthy

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    Look what’s been in the news the last month:

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found possible mistakes in handling and shipping of diseases like plague and encephalitis in military facilities. (Including one where I used to work.)

    An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease sickened at least 45 and killed 9 at a Quincy, Ill., nursing home.

    Two cases of plague were found in Yosemite National Park.

    The first Ebola case in two weeks popped up in Sierra Leone.

    New Delhi, India, is struggling with its worst outbreak of dengue fever in five years, with 1,900 cases reported and at least 11 dead.

    Here’s the scoop, though: all of these illnesses put together don’t infect as many people or cause as much economic damage as regular, old, seasonal influenza.

    H1N1 Masks - PandemicNow, imagine that during the regular, old, influenza season, a new strain pops up that’s unexpected and particularly contagious. It spreads rapidly, with cases popping up in many countries within weeks. There’s no vaccine. Some schools and businesses close. Oh, wait, you don’t have to imagine. That happened in 2009-2010, with a strain of H1N1 influenza.

    Here are five steps to prepare for an influenza, or other, pandemic.


    Get supplies

    A pandemic can last for months. The 2009 influenza pandemic began in April. During the next year, numbers of new cases looked like a wave: rising and falling, with a peak in October 2009.

    Ready.gov recommends storing food and water for two weeks, in case you can’t get to a store because of illness or if stores run out of supplies. And, hey, you’ll be prepared for other types of emergencies too.


    Get medicines

    Pharmacy - PandemicSome of my kids take medicine for illness-induced asthma. But they only take when they’re ill. The last time my son needed it, I couldn’t find any, because we hadn’t used it for a few months.

    Check all prescriptions regularly, whether you use them regularly or not, to ensure a continuous supply during an emergency, encourages the CDC.

    Get copies of your hospital, pharmaceutical and other medical records. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an online tool, Blue Button, to help you find them.

    Also, keep nonprescription drugs and other health supplies stocked. These can include pain relievers, fluids with electrolytes, cough and cold medicines and face masks.


    Get communicating

    Ready.gov suggests you talk to family members and other loved ones about how you’ll care for each other in case of illness. Also, talk to neighbors, employers and schools about plans for staying home if family members are ill.


    Get vaccinated

    The CDC prefers you get the seasonal flu vaccine yearlyVaccine - Pandemic, before October, though you can get it any time during flu season. It takes about two weeks for a vaccine to be effective.

    Influenza vaccines last about a year and vary in effectiveness depending on a lot of factors like flu strains and age. The CDC still recommends them, though, because even if the vaccine doesn’t match well with one strain, like the 2009 H1N1, it will match well with others. Also, even a poor match may reduce flu symptoms.


    Get healthy habits

    This is the hard one. It’s not as easy to remember to get plenty of exercise and sleep, to eat healthy and drink plenty of healthy fluids when you’re feeling OK.

    It’s easier when you or a family member is ill to remember to wash your hands often and cover your mouth and nose when you cough. All these techniques might keep you from getting ill during a pandemic.

    H1N1 is still around. It’s now considered a regular seasonal virus and is included in the vaccine.

    But others are out there. And it’s time to start preparing. Peak flu season usually runs between October and May.


    - Melissa


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Pandemic

    Posted In: First Aid and Sanitation Tagged With: Ebola, pandemic, H1N1, preparedness

  • California Fears Flooding in El Niño Winter

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    In a cruel, ironic twist of fate, California fears a very wet and rainy winter season.

    El Niño is expected to bring bucketloads of water to California, but that's not necessarily a good thing. After being in an intense drought for four years, one would think the thought of rain – and a lot of it – is a wonderful thing for the water-wanting state. But that’s not how the world works, is it? According to Emergency Management, “too much rain coming down too fast could sink low-lying communities,” of which there are plenty.

    El Niño floods thingsUnfortunately, that’s what happens when it pours rain over parched ground. The soil is just too hard, too closed-off to water to allow much at all in. Water will just collect on the surface, traveling the route of least resistance. This could mean your home will get flooded, and you can almost guarantee the streets will turn to rivers. California most definitely needs rain, but this might be a little bit counterproductive when it comes to beating the drought.

    Just one wet winter won’t do the trick, either. Phys.org describes in more detail what is needed for the drought to subside. For starters, one doctoral student stated that California needs “several consecutive wet years, and specifically several where substantial snowpack persists into spring so that it can slowly replenish our groundwater aquifers and provide long-term relief from drought.”

    For that to happen, California would need to receive more than double their annual precipitation this winter. The chances of that happening? Not good. Considering it’s never happened before, that kind of tells you what the state is up against.

    Despite not curing the drought, it will at least be some sort of relief to the folks there. However, watch out for flooding.

    The best time to start preparing, of course, is now. Throughout the Bay Area, trees are being trimmed, creek beds are being shored up, and other preventative measures are being taken so that when the storms do come, things won’t be as bad as they could be.

    Likewise, today is the day you should start preparing for floods and heavy rain. This goes for you folks not living in California, too. Just because El Niño and floods are expected in California doesn’t mean you won’t get any flooding in your neck of the woods, too.

    One thing to consider going in to this wet time of year is flood insurance. The time to act for that really is now, because flood insurance doesn’t activate until 30 days after you get it. So, if a storm is forecast and then the floods rise up to your door, the time for getting insurance is well past.

    Tree Trimming for El NiñoFollowing the example of the Bay Area workers wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. They’re going around taking care of trees, gutters, storm drains, and other things before they become a problem. You can do the same. Take a look at your home. How flood proof is it? Do you have sandbags to keep the water back should your street start flooding? Are the gutters on your home cleared of leaves, twigs, and other debris? Are your trees trimmed so they won’t crack and fall on your home in a strong storm? These are just a few things to watch out for.

    Floods can also cause a danger while driving. When you come to a flooded street, the National Weather Service says “it is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.” Their motto is Turn Around Don’t Drown, and that should be your motto, too.

    It is fortunate that California will be receiving more moisture, but that will come with a cost. You know it’s coming, so act now and start preparing. You don’t want to be caught high and dry (so to speak), especially when you have the time to get ready.


    How are you prepared for El Niño?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner El Niño

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: rain, California, el Nino, flood, preparedness

  1. 1-3 of 82 items

Please wait...