Tag Archives: safety

  • Tornadoes Don't Just Hang Out in the Alley

    Tornado Alley Tornado Alley

    My family used to live in eastern Colorado, on the western edge of Tornado Alley. Every year we’d get many tornado watches and a few tornado warnings. So we were prepared. We had emergency supplies ready to grab and go, a NOAA radio on the counter and shelter plans with our children. Both my husband and I were trained EMTs and participated in a community-wide disaster exercise.

    None of that helped on the day I cowered in the basement of the hospital, an hour after giving birth to my daughter, while a tornado passed nearby. Or when the same thing happened right after my son was born. I’m choosing to not consider those events omens.

    Every state and nearly every county in the United States has seen tornadoes. Texas sees the most tornadoes per year, mostly due to the state’s sheer size, while Florida sees the most per area, according to NOAA. Even Alaska gets them.

    Not Tornado Alley The Delta Center (home of the Utah Jazz) was hit by a tornado in Salt Lake City in 1999.

    Tornadoes can cross rivers, hills and cities. Numerous tornadoes have crossed the Mississippi River. An August 11, 1999 tornado in Salt Lake City crossed a canyon and hit the basketball arena for the Utah Jazz. Fortunately, no one was there.

    Elevation doesn’t matter. A hiker photographed a tornado at 12,000 feet in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on July 7, 2004. Tall buildings won’t stop tornadoes, either. Downtown St. Louis has seen at least four tornadoes, according to NOAA. The Los Angeles Basin sees as many weak tornadoes per tens of square miles as the Great Plains.

    Tornadoes mostly occur in the spring and summer. However, they hit every month of the year. “Tornadoes are like snowbirds — they winter in the South,” according to an April 22 article in U.S. Tornadoes.

    Parts of southern California and Arizona see more tornadoes in the autumn and winter because of the seasonal monsoon. Florida gets many, in part because hurricanes can bring tornadoes. Mississippi holds the sad distinction of hosting the most deadly tornadoes in each winter month: December, January and February, according to U.S. Tornadoes.

    The most important way to prepare for a tornado is to learn when one is coming. A NOAA weather radio can post updates on all kinds of weather. If you're looking for a good emergency weather radio, the Kaito Voyager Pro is an excellent choice.

    On average, the National Weather Service issues tornado warnings 13 minutes prior to a hit, but warning times vary greatly. Therefore, the NWS emphasizes knowing the signs of a tornado. The following signs are taken directly from the NWS.

    • Tornado Alley Warning SirensStrong, persistent rotation in a cloud base. (A cloud base looks like a rotating cylinder of clouds that descends below a storm.)
    • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no funnel.
    • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
    • Day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
    • Night – Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
    • Night – persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning – especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

    Know how to take shelter. Indoors, avoid windows, get to the lowest, most central part of a building like a bathroom or closet, crouch down and cover up with a mattress or sleeping bag. Glass and flying debris are the major causes of injuries in tornadoes. Don’t take time to open windows. As the National Weather Service pointed out, the tornado will do that for you. Get out of a mobile home and go to the nearest permanent structure.

    In a vehicle, if a tornado is visible, far away and traffic is light, drive at right angles to the tornado and look for shelter. If you get caught, park the car – out of traffic lanes, stay seated with the seat belt on, put your head down below the windows and cover your head with whatever you can. Don’t park under a bridge – it’s not safer than the open road and can create a traffic hazard.

    Beyond that, preparation for a tornado is the same as for any other disaster: have emergency supplies for a few days, have important documents on hand, and have a family plan. Then hope a tornado takes place where all of that can do you any good and when you’re not doing something like having a baby.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: tornado signs, tornado alley, Tornado preparation, safety

  • Fun in the Sun: Keeping Summer Safe

    Fun in the Sun: Keeping Summer Safe

    This is an actual photo of my two-year-old’s legs after only one month of summer. I’m finding that with kids, “summer legs” has almost nothing to do with the shape or shade of my own appendages, and lots more to do with the bruises, bumps, and bug bites that decorate the little legs at our house as soon as the weather’s warm enough to wear shorts.

    We know that summertime holds its own particular hazards: incidents of drowning spike in the summer, and almost nobody loses a finger to fireworks in March. But even the little things—like a nasty sunburn from a fun day on the beach, or getting mosquito bites on your favorite hike—can add up to a seriously unpleasant season, both for you and your little people’s legs.

    Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have you covered, and we’re right there with them! Each organization releases an annual tip list to help families focus on summer safety. Both are organized by category (bugs, fireworks, water, heat, and sun), and the AAP’s list even includes things that might not first jump to mind when we think of summer, like bicycle, skateboard, ATV, and lawnmower safety.

    You can find their respective lists at the links below.

    While a whole lot of this is common sense, a few of these tips were news to me. Like the fact that sparklers can reach past 1,000 degrees F bright or floral prints can attract bees and wasps, and children under 12 shouldn’t operate walk-behind mowers (there goes my four-year-old’s summer job!).

    I like lists like these that give me quick, handy reminders. But if I need more in-depth information on summer-specific solutions, I go to articles, like these

    Whatever your summer plans, please build in some safety prep! We want those little legs in working order come fall!

    What do you do to stay safe in the summer?

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: summer, safety

  • How to Prevent Electrical Fires and Burns in Your Home

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    Protect yourself and your loved ones from electrical shocks and burns

    Many of us have experienced the shocking jolt that comes from sticking a paperclip, fork, or other metal object into an exposed power outlet—I know I did when I was a kid, ‘cause it just seemed like a good idea.

    There are plenty of other ways to get electrocuted, however, than just sticking something into a power socket. And, unfortunately, kids (and sometimes adults) don’t often see the dangers that sit right in front of them.

    On average, electrocutions kill 400 people each year, and another 4,400 are injured due to electrical hazards. Needless to say, there’s more we could be doing to protect ourselves and loved ones from the harmful effects of electricity.

    How Electrical Shocks Happen

    Electricity always seeks a path to the ground. Electrical injuries occur when a person accidentally becomes a part of the pathway that gets the electricity to its destination. When this happens, a person is acting as a conductor—a material that attracts electricity and will allow it to flow quickly. Other conductors include metal, water, wet objects, and trees (because of their moisture). Materials used for insulation such as rubber, glass, plastic, and porcelain do not allow electricity to flow freely.

    As the use of electrical power grows, electrical hazards do, too. Electricity is almost in constant use, what with laptops, toasters, lamps, etc. staying plugged in when not in use. This, along with aging wiring systems put electrocutions and home fires at a higher risk. Fire hazards are also greater when surge suppressors, power strips, and extension cords are misused.

    Protect your Children

    When you know how to prevent electrical shocks and burns, you can more easily protect yourself and your loved ones. Check out the following tips from the American Burn Association:

    • Avoid letting children play with or near electrical appliances. Keep them a safe distance away from space heaters, irons, hair dryers, etc.
    • Use plug covers on any power outlets accessible to small children. Outlet caps that attach to the outlet plate with screws are better protectors than those that simply plug in.
    • Make sure plug in caps are a similar color to the outlet so they aren’t easily recognized and pulled out.
    • Make sure such caps are not small enough to be a choking hazard.
    • Make sure any night lights used in a child’s room do not resemble toys.
    • Teach children to respect electricity as soon as they are old enough (usually around age 3). Two thirds of electrical burn injuries happen to children 12 and under.

    Children aren’t the only ones at risk, though. Many adults also suffer injuries from electrical shocks each year, whether at home or at work.

    Other General Safety Tips

    • Unplug appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
    • Only use appliances with a three-prong plug in a three-slot outlet. Never force it or remove a prong to make it fit a two-slot outlet. You can find outlet adapters, however, that allow you to use three-prong plugs in two-prong outlets.
    • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If a cord is frayed or cracked, replace it. Replace any tool that causes even the smallest of shocks, or overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke.
    • Never use electrical appliances near water
    • Unplug appliances before performing any repairs
    • Attach extension cords to appliances/tools before plugging them into outlets
    • Keep clothes, curtains, and other possibly flammable items at least 3 feet away from all heaters, whether electric, gas, or kerosene-fueled
    • If an electric power line is down on or near your home, keep everyone out of the area and call 9-1-1 or your local electric company.

    As a society, we depend on electricity. It works 24/7 to provide us with heat, to keep our security systems working, to keep our unpreserved food cold, and more. While you enjoy the positive results of electricity, don’t abuse or misuse it. Remember, it can have painful—even deadly—effects if you’re not careful.

    What do you do in your home to keep your loved ones safe from electrical shocks and burns? Have you ever experienced a major electric shock?

    --Kim

    Sources:

    http://ameriburn.org/Preven/ElectricalSafetyEducator'sGuide.pdf

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Electrical Burns, National Burn Week, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, safety

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