Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Uncategorized

National Get Organized Month to Be Safe

Hand Holding Get Organized Sticky NoteStudies show that individuals waste up to an hour each day searching for misplaced items. But disorganization sucks more than just valuable time if disaster strikes. When chaos breaks loose, every second matters, leaving you with precious little time to search for important stuff. I always forget where I buried my bones. I guess I should work on that. Organizing today will enable you quickly locate what you need at critical times, leading to more satisfactory outcomes during a crisis.

Studies show that individuals waste up to an hour each day searching for misplaced items. But disorganization sucks more than just valuable time if disaster strikes. When chaos breaks loose, every second matters, leaving you with precious little time to search for important stuff. Organizing today will enable you quickly locate what you need at critical times, leading to more satisfactory outcomes during a crisis.dog-2744223__480

The Association of Professional Coordinators (APC) founded National Get Organized Month in 2005 in an effort to increase awareness about the significance of organization. As the leader in training commercial building tenants for fire safety and emergency certification, we use this month-long observance to focus on providing best practices and organization strategies that improve outcomes for building occupants in the event of an emergency.

While no one wants to think about disaster, being prepared helps to reduce negative outcomes.  Preparing “Go Bags” and emergency kits in advance of an emergency sets you up to respond efficiently and keep a cool head during an emergency. For 2019, to help you stay safe and be prepared, we have put together guidelines to prepping and organizing Go Bags and emergency kits. I don’t have much room for storage space in my doghouse. Maybe a fanny pack?

go bagGo Bag Ideas

A Go Bag is filled with personal emergency items which are self-contained and easy to grab-on-the-go in the event a fireman, police officer or other first responder instructs you to evacuate. Bags usually include items such as prescriptions, food, water and extra clothing to get you through the first few critical days following a disaster.

A backpack or other easy-to-carry case or bags make an ideal a Go Bag since there is the potential you might have to carry it. Keep “portable” and “lightweight” in mind and when selecting the necessary contents. Additionally, remember to label your bag with your name and address in case you and your necessities get separated.

Go Bag

  • Flashlight
  • Extra batterieswhistle in go bag
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Cellphone with chargers
  • Whistle, to signal for help
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations (quarters for phone calls and a prepaid phone card in case cell towers are down)
  • Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes for different weather contingencies and a warm hat
  • Local and regional maps (you may not have access to online versions)
  • Water and food (snacks and a few bottles of water) Don’t forget pet food!
  • Recent photos of each family member for identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to drugs (especially antibiotics) and/or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aids or other vital health-related itemspuppy-476800__480
  • Prescription medications
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and car
  • Special-needs items for children, seniors or disabled family members

cat-24477__480Don’t forget about your pets! They need a Go Bag too.

  • Sturdy leashes and pet carriers
  • One-week supply of their food
  • Potable water and medicine for at least one week
  • Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid
  • Plastic bags, litter box and litter
  • Recent photo of each pet
  • Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
  • Copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical history

Emergency Supplies Kit Ideas

While a Go Bag is typically meant for you if you need to “bug out,” an emergency kit is designed to use while you are on the scene of a disaster and in the event you need to Shelter in Place (SIP). Although many of the recommended items overlap, an emergency kit is not necessarily as portable. Designed to sustain you until help can arrive, an emergency kit will typically include more first-aid related items as well as larger quantities of food and water. Since a first-aid kit is so much larger than a Go Bag, contents should be stored in a large, clean, unused trash can or covered plastic container. I also recommend keeping dog food in these.

The following are recommended items to include in your emergency kit:

  • Nonperishable food
  • If you have an infant or young child (or puppy), be sure to include diapers, formula and child-specific medication.
  • Water, enough to sustain your family for at least three days.
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape for using during certain types of SIP contingencies.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties and personal toiletries
  • Permanent marker, paper, pencils or pens and tape
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

    clothes-2041864__480
    Don’t forget about a change of clothes!
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Butane lighter and matches (stored in a waterproof container)
  • A well-stocked first-aid kit. At a minimum you need wound cleansing and dressing supplies, eyewash and burn treatment bandages.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first-aid book or information
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person and appropriate to your climate.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Identification and bank account records kept in a waterproof, portable container
  • Bacon (I admit it won’t store well. But what could be better in an emergency?)

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

All year long we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

National PrepareAthon Day

Graphic: Be Smart. Take Part. Prepare.President Obama officially proclaimed September National Preparedness Month, establishing September 30, 2016 as a “national day of action,” aka “America’s PrepareAthon.” Managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the campaign is designed to spark awareness and preparedness among the general public. In my book, preparedness is always a good thing!

America’s PrepareAthon

The emphasis on awareness and active participation in safety-related exercises is especially timely in light of the recent terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey. Also, in a separate and apparently unrelated incident in Minnesota, a terrorist attack was thwarted by a trained firearms expert, whose quick thinking and ready action saved the lives of innocent people.

Graphic: Be Prepared

In each of these incidents, well-prepared Americans, first-responders and members of the general public worked together to lessen the severity of incidents relative to attacks and/or helped the injured while simultaneously staying alert to additional threats. Way to go, people!

America’s PrepareAthon encourages alertness in several types of incidents:

  • FEMA provides free materials such as badges and posters to promote preparedness for floods, earthquakes, winter storms, etc.
  • A compelling video showcases the way bystanders helped victims.
  • Disaster preparedness-related news is announced through the #PrepareAthon Twitter feed.
  • Concerned members of the public can conduct drills, test communication plans, safeguard documents, and make plans with neighbors for post-disaster actions.
  • Common steps to follow after a disaster such as tornadoes, hurricanes, active shooter incidents, winter storms, wildfires, and earthquakes alert the public.

America’s PrepareAthon could potentially save lives:

Active Shooter Scenarios

America’s PrepareAthon offers useful advice for active shooter incidents. Here is what you can learn:

  • Find active shooter training classes, which are held at various locations throughout the country.
  • Discern the importance of quickly running, hiding, or fighting (if necessary).
  • Take first aid classes which instruct students in emergency procedures, such as how to tie a tourniquet.
  • Determine when to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Winter Storms

fema-emergency-supplies-kitSevere winter storms bring ice, freezing rain, and potentially crippling quantities of snow, posing risks to first responders as well as the general public.

How to properly manage a major winter storm:

  • Prepare by stocking up on valuable supplies, such as food and water. I also suggest stockpiling cans of food for pets.
  • Create a backup heat source in case electrical or gas power are compromised.
  • Understand the potential dangers of fallen power lines, which can be pulled down by ice accumulating on trees.
  • Prepare your car by keeping the tank full to prevent the gas line from freezing. Also, pack extra blankets and water in your car as well as chains.
  • Set outside faucets to trickle to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Create a travel bag containing several layers of clothing, a first aid kid, and signaling devices.
  • Prepare a “Go Bag.”
  • Grow fur. It works for me!

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just on September 30th during America’s PrepareAthon. Take advantage of the resources offered through FEMA and other agencies, which can provide you and building occupants with lifesaving tips. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, Disaster Preparedness

Have you packed your “Go-Bag?”

Fotolia_44516466_XSSeptember marks National Preparedness Month, an annual awareness campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The event is intended to encourage individuals and businesses to take steps to proactively plan for disasters. The need for such awareness is great, since 60 percent of American adults say they have yet to put together and/or practice an emergency plan. I’m just a simple pup, but even I know that 60 percent is a majority. That’s a lot of unprepared people!

This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Plan Today.”

The campaign also features a sub-theme for each week of the month

  • Week 1: Kick-off to National Preparedness Month
  • Week 2: Preparing Family and Friends
  • Week 3: Preparing through Service
  • Week 4: Individual Preparedness
  • Week 5: Lead-up to National Day of Action on September 30

Since a well-made emergency kit or “go-bag” (AKA a Bug-Out Bag) is the epitome of preparedness, we thought it fitting to focus this week’s post on how to prepare your own kit. With the right “go-bag,” you will be ready for any type of emergency and able to take care of yourself and possibly help others.

Survival GearInclude These Items in Your Disaster Kit

  • A container for storage. If the kit will be stored in your home or office, you could use a new 33-gallon trash can. If you plan to stow the bag in the trunk of your car, consider using a large backpack or duffel.
  • A fixed-blade knife
  • A paper map of the immediate area
  • A portable, hand-crank radio or a battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Books to read, games for kids to play
  • Can opener
  • Cash, preferably in small denominations
  • Copies of personal documents such as birth certificates, passports, deeds, proof of address, insurance policies, etc.
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency contact information (Don’t rely on the information contained in your cell phone, as cell service could be temporarily disrupted depending on the type of emergency.)
  • Enough food for up to three days, per person if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home. Don’t forget about your pets! We need food, too!
  • Enough water for one gallon per day, per person, for three days if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home. Remember to include pets in this calculation, as well. We drink a lot of water.
  • Extra clothing and a spare set of shoes (If packing for children, remember to swap out sizes as they grow.)
  • Extra set of house and car keys
  • First-aid kit with adhesive bandages, cold packs, sanitizer, gauze, tweezers, and antibiotic ointment
  • Latex-free disposable gloves
  • LED flashlights – especially valuable for building occupants who might need to spend the night in the dark following a major disaster
  • Liquid bleach
  • Matches
  • Multi-purpose tool, such as a Leatherman
  • Mylar-coated space blankets, which conserve heat and serve as signals
  • N-95 or surgical masks (in case air quality is compromised)
  • Pay-per-use cell phone and chargers, in case yours is damaged during the disaster
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Pet supplies including water and food as well as bowls and medication (Hear, hear.)
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Portable water containers, ideally in non-breakable containers
  • Prescription drugs, especially insulin, inhalers, or other life-dependent medicines (seven-day supply)
  • Prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses, and/or contact lenses
  • Rain gear
  • Scissors
  • Stainless steel water bottle that can withstand boiling water, if necessary (to purify drinking water)
  • Towels
  • Whistle
  • Work gloves

doodle first aid bag illustrationWhen preparing a go-bag, consider the types of disasters you’re likely to encounter in your area. For example, if you live in a hurricane zone, pack dry clothes, ponchos, waterproof containers, and water purification tools. In wildfire country, pack breathing masks and extra water. If you live in Tornado Alley, add bike helmets to your kit, to keep your head safe from flying debris and add sturdy shoes to keep your feet safe while walking around devastated areas. Just a suggestion; avoid buying those goofy boots for dogs. The indignity!
For home or business, consider these additional items for managing a disaster that won’t fit into a traditional go-bag:

  • A portable generator, along with extra gasoline
  • Large LED lamps
  • Long-term food storage containers should be on hand and should be stocked to feed everyone in the home for at least two weeks
  • Water barrels and various accessories to purify and periodically clean the water

Develop a Communication Plan

As part of National Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) agency offers tips for creating a family communication plan for usage during an emergency. Such a plan is as important as food or water because it provides a guide for staying connected with loved ones when disaster strikes. Our family emergency plan includes use of the Twilight Bark.

To create the plan:

  • Collect information about each family member including health history, as well as contact information for their physicians. And don’t forget to include information about your pets!
  • Print the contact information and ensure every member of the family has a copy in their bag. Also, consider posting a copy in a central area of the home.
  • Make sure that contact and communication information expressly details meeting places after disaster.
  • Practice following directions in the communication plan, including drilling children so they will memorize phone numbers and necessary safety steps to take following an emergency.

Maintaining a state of preparedness is essential for every month of the year, not just during September. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Happy National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared?

On 9/11/2010, our nation was transfixed while 3,000 of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and family members perished in violent terrorist attacks. So, it is fitting that we pay homage every September to the Americans who lost their lives nine years ago with an entire month dedicated to emergency and disaster preparedness. And so we do—September is National Preparedness Month.

Furthering our corporate mission to “Save Lives Through Training,” we at RJWestmore, Inc. make it a point to provide emergency and disaster preparedness information to our clients as well as the public at large. So we would like to commemorate National Preparedness Month by sharing tips about disaster preparation and recovery relative to emergency situations in business.

Action Plan to Help You Stay in Business

Stay Informed:

Risk assessment is a sophisticated area of expertise that can range from self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. Whenever I do self-assessments, I discover new black spots on my coat. The specific industry, size and scope of your individual company will determine the risk assessment needs of your organization.

  1. Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally. In both cases, as a Dalmatian, internally or externally, it’s all about the nose. Find out which natural disasters are most common in the areas where you operate. You may be aware of some of your community’s risks; others may surprise you.
  2. Learn about what to do during disasters as diverse as biological, chemical, explosive, nuclear radiological or feline attack.

Plan for Business Continuity: Carefully assess how your company functions. How quickly your company resumes business following a terrorist attack, tornado, fire or flood depends on the extent of the emergency planning you do today. Start planning now to improve the likelihood that your company will survive and recover.

Initiate Emergency Planning: Your employees and co-workers are your business’s most important and valuable assets. Make sure your plans protect them. There are some procedures you can put in place before a disaster. So make sure you learn about the resources usually people need in order to recover after a disaster.

It is possible that your staff will need time to ensure the well-being of their family members. But getting back to work is also important in the personal recovery of people and animals who endure disasters. Re-establish routines whenever possible. If that doesn’t work, adding another bowl of chow might help.

Collect and Stow Emergency Supplies: Think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. When preparing for emergency situations, it’s best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Encourage everyone to have a portable kit customized to meet personal needs, such as essential medications. For more about this, check out the blog post in our recent Go-bag blog.

Decide to Stay or Go: (And, just to clarify, by “go,” I’m not talking about marking your territory.) Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, the first important decision you will need to make following an incident is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. Understand and plan for both possibilities in advance by developing clear, well thought-out plans. Make contingency plans, so you can act quickly no matter the condition of your physical surroundings or your own mental health.

Allow for Fire Safety: Fire is the most common of all business disasters. In fact, each year, fires cause thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in damage. The actual R.J. Westmore of RJWestmore, Inc. (or Bob as he is commonly known), has featured prominently in the development of national standards for fire safety for many years. Our mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” So, be sure to check out our website regularly for fire safety resources. Better yet, enroll your employees and tenants in the RJWestmore Training System. And follow me on Twitter for lots of helpful tweets.

Prepare for Medical Emergencies: Workplace medical emergencies vary greatly depending on the disaster, type of job and the worksite. For example, heavy equipment operators face different safety risks than do office workers or food service personnel. Regardless of the type of work, there are steps which can give you the upper hand in responding to a medical emergency.  So take steps to gain the upper hand (or upper paw) in medical emergency response.

Influenza Pandemic: A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population and the virus begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily from person-to-person. The federal government, individual states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. So make sure your organization is prepared. The best defense against any communicable disease is to regularly wash your paws.

RJWestmore can provide a site-specific Risk Exposure Analysis via our online assessment tool, which ranks the following:

Hazards:

  • Criminal Activity
  • Earthquake
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hurricane
  • Infrastructure Loss
  • Terrorism
  • Tornado
  • Winter Storm

It also rates and ranks the Consequence possibility of:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Mission Loss
  • Property Loss
  • Contents Loss
  • Use Loss
  • First Responder

All of these resources culminate in an easy- to-read-and-interpret color-coded report. For more information about a Risk Exposure Analysis Report for your property, contact us today.

For more, check out the FEMA website, which outlines preparation for nearly every imaginable emergency that may arise. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. And in the meantime, BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Hurricanes, Version 2.0

Is Your Go-Bag Good to Go?

Is Your Go-Bag Good to Go?

Part 3 in a Series about Hurricanes

Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready.  This week, in our continuing series about hurricanes, we’ll look at one of the best ways to prepare for and recover after tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as other emergencies—putting together a Go-Bag. And by “Go,” I am not talking about the first thing I need to do every morning at the fire station.

A “Go Bag” is a bag you pack today and hope you will never need. You pack it in case there is a situation which necessitates an extremely hasty evacuation which makes it impossible to get to your complete emergency supply kit, or in circumstances that prevent you from carrying your emergency supply kit with you. There are a number of reasons why you would need to move in such a hurry including the one we’ll focus on today…preparing for a tropical storm or hurricane.

A component of your disaster kit, a Go-Bag should be prepared for each member of your family. Also, make sure each bag has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes. So keep additional supplies in the trunk of your car and at work. Or, bury them in the backyard, if you prefer.

1.)    Purchase a sturdy backpack or messenger bag.

2.)    Add the following (as your geographic, financial and physical situation allow):

  • First Aid Kit—a small but efficient kit, which should include a 2-week supply of prescription medications as well as pharmaceutical grade crazy (skin) glue.
  • Sewing Kit—non-waxed floss and u-shaped leather needle, which can be used to stitch up skin in an emergency
  • Feminine Napkins—since they absorb blood and can be used as a bandage in a pinch.
  • Cash—as much as you can spare. Remember that credit cards may not be useful for necessary supplies immediately following a natural or manmade disaster. Try to include small denominations and rolls of quarters which will be useful for phone calls. If you need somewhere to store that extra cash, give me a call. I’ll guard it for you.
  • Clothing—cotton is useless once it gets wet. So try to include thermal underwear and a warm hat. That is unless you prefer to go au natural, like my family and I.
  • Blankets—Mylar emergency blankets are lightweight and easy to stow. Fur is even easier to take with you.
  • Crank-style Flashlight and Snap Lights such as Glow-Sticks
  • Whistle—on a lanyard, so you can wear it around your neck. This is good for locating people in a crowd, at night, or in low visibility conditions.
  • Crank-style NOAA weather/AM-FM Radio. This is a good choice so you won’t have to search for batteries in an emergency situation.
  • Batteries—in case you have to power a battery-operated appliance such as a radio or flashlight.
  • Food—including protein bars and other non-perishable items such as K-rations, for three days per person. And don’t forget to include rations for your pet.  Please remember any food allergies and daily calorie/protein in the food you choose.
  • Drinking Water—most emergency agencies suggest storage of at least three days worth of water per person.  It’s also advisable to have a backpacking type water purifier, water purification tablets and know how to purify water with regular Clorox Bleach (8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water).  Bringing water to a rolling boil for several minutes is also a reliable method of killing most microbes and parasites.  Here is a link that explains the process.
  • Goggles—protect your eyes! Buy heavy-duty “soft side” vinyl glasses with ventilation, fogless lenses and adjustable strap.
  • Lighter—don’t rely on matches, which can get wet. (Or, find waterproof matches, which are sold at camping stores.)
  • Other Fire-Starting Aids, such as a magnifying glass and magnesium “fire starters.”
  • Hand and feet warmers—if possible, purchase the type of warmers that are carbon-activated
  • Rope—has endless uses. Include various sizes.
  • Crow Bar—in case emergency pathways are blocked.
  • Big Trash Bags or Plastic Sheeting— use these to stow garbage, haul materials, fashion a poncho or cut open to build a makeshift tent.
  • Multi-Use Knife—such as a Leatherman, Gerber, Swiss Army knife, preferably with a saw blade.
  • Dust masks (2 per person)—with built-in respirator systems.  Use at least an N95-rated mask.
  • Duct tape—uses too numerous to list
  • Copies of your passport, driver’s license, insurance and any other important documents
  • A sticky pad, marker and a pen in case you need to leave a note for family or friends
  • A wallet-size photo of every member of your immediate family including children and pets. This is crucial in case you get separated and need to enlist others to help locate loved ones.
  • Antibacterial Hand Wash (non rinse), available at most pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores. These can be used to clean hands and sanitize wounds.
  • Comfortable, sturdy shoes and warm, thick socks.
  • Thick leather work gloves.
  • Local map
  • List of emergency contact numbers
  • List of known allergies including medications and food
  • Extra prescription glasses, hearing aids or other vital personal items
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (or extra rawhide bones, which control tartar, too).
  • Extra keys to your home, vehicle and office
  • Special items required for children, seniors or people with disabilities
  • Your Go-Bag will be as individual as you are. Only you know the items you can’t live without. Whatever they are, make sure you include them so you are prepared for hurricanes, tropical storms and more.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Check back next week, when we will continue our series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON PREDICTED

First in a Series about Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery

In their latest forecast, the National Weather Service reaffirmed their May forecast of a heavy Atlantic hurricane season. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encouraged Americans living in coastal states to take steps to ensure their families are prepared for hurricanes. And the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center recently announced that all the factors are coming together for a stormy season.

What does all of this mean? If you live on the coast, get ready for a rough ride. And when I say, “rough,” I don’t mean “ruff.”

Since before hurricane season started, FEMA personnel have been actively engaged with state and local officials in coastal states to ensure they have the support and resources necessary to prepare for and respond to a tropical storm or hurricane. This season has been particularly taxing for emergency management professionals who have to weigh the potential effects of the BP oil spill on response capabilities and recovery scenarios. I haven’t seen so many people affected by a “spill” since JR was paper-trained.

“FEMA continues to work across the administration and with our state and local partners to ensure they’re ready should a hurricane make landfall,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “But we can only be as prepared as the public, so it’s important that families and businesses take steps now to be ready.”

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond with decisive action. Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready.  In the coming weeks, we’ll look at the various ways you can prepare for and recover after tropical storms and hurricanes, including:

But first, let’s examine the nature and history of hurricanes so we know what to prepare for. A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, which is a generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. According to the National Hurricane Center, the ingredients for a hurricane include:

  1. A pre-existing weather disturbance
  2. Warm tropical oceans
  3. Moisture (Not canine-derived)
  4. Relatively light winds aloft

If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon. Each year, approximately 11 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. An average six of these storms become hurricanes each year.

Hurricane Hit Parade (Hurricane Trivia)

The deadliest hurricane on record (prior to the practice of naming tropical storms in 1953) is reported to have slammed into Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing 8,000 people. A Category 4 hurricane, it struck the island with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

The costliest hurricane on record, as most of Florida will remember, was Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992 and cost an estimated $26.5 billion. I don’t know about you. But I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this much money. Suffice to say it’s a whole lot of rawhide treats…at least several bags.

The most intense hurricane to strike the U.S. hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day weekend in 1935. The Labor Day Hurricane sustained winds are estimated to have reached almost 200 miles per hour. Although it hit a tiny, low-populated area, 390 died in the event.

The busiest month in the U.S. for major hurricane hits is September, with an average 36 of 64 annual such storms. August is the second busiest month, with an average of 15 out of 64 annual strikes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Check back next week, when we will continue our series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE.