Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Hurricanes, Winter Weather Hazards

More about Severe Weather: Hurricanes

hurricane fiiredogThree weeks ago, we began a series about severe weather. We interrupted that series to discuss earthquake safety. This week, we will resume our severe weather series, focusing on a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean. And we aren’t talking about disasters of the feline variety-I’m talking hurricanes. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Unfortunately, cat disasters occur all over the globe. Each year, parts of the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.

Vital Stats about Hurricanes, which can:

  • Cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
  • Produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts.
  • Create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
  • Cause floods and flying debris which are often the deadly and destructive.
  • Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.
  • Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides.
  • Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that you and your family and business associates be ready before a storm approaches. Getting to know your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

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Ten Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane:

  1. Get to know your surroundings at home and at work. You never know when and where an emergency will strike.
  2. Build three emergency kits—for work, at home and in the trunk of your vehicle.
  3. Make family and corporate communications plans.
  4. In high-rise buildings, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  5. Consider installing an emergency generator.
  6. Cover windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
  7. Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the frame.
  8. Trim leaves and branches to make sure trees and shrubs are wind resistant.
  9. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  10. Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage cans inside.

Ten Ways to Cope During a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  2. Only evacuate if you are directed by local authorities to do so.
  3. Do not use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  4. Close all interior doors and windows – secure and brace external doors.
  5. Turn off propane tanks.
  6. If instructed to do so, turn off utilities. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
  7. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water to ensure a sufficient supply of for sanitary uses such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
  8. Stay and away from windows and glass doors.
  9. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  10. Lie on the floor under a table or sturdy, secure object.

Ten Steps to Take After a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news and updates.
  2. If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross.
  3. Stay alert for extended rainfall and associated flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  4. If you were instructed to evacuate, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  5. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  6. For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
  7. Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  8. Steer clear of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to appropriate utility.
  9. Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Never use candles.
  10. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and make sure tap water has not been contaminated. When in doubt, throw it out.

Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services can take advantage of applicable educational tutorials including instructions for power outages as well as medical emergencies. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

 

 

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The CDC, Emergency Kits, and …..Zombies?!

 

cartoon zombie
Prepare for: Zombies?!

When you think about preparing for an emergency, you likely worry about threats that occur in your area. Californians contend with fires, mudslides and the specter of big quakes. East Coasters have hurricanes, floods, and damaging thunderstorms. But one threat can affect everyone from San Francisco through Topeka and beyond to Jacksonville. Zombies. Yep, brain-eating zombies who are bent on destruction. Ummm…what? Did you think I was going to say tabby cats?

Few scary scenarios capture popular culture quite like zombies. Well, for me it would be this ranking.

#1 fear – running out of teeth-cleaning treats.

#2 – the pig ear bank has a run and a shortage.

#3 – well, ZOMBIES!!!

In real life, some individuals such as this man profiled by National Geographic Television view zombies and a possible outbreak as real scenarios that deserve proper planning. There even exists a book called “The Zombie Survival Guide.”

Wait. Isn’t this blog about disaster planning? Well, the CDC has a current campaign that warns of the coming “Zombie Apocalypse.” Citizens are encouraged to plan for “zombies” by taking certain initiatives. My main tactic would be “playing dead,” which I think would be incredibly effective. While the premise is silly, the CDC is using thoughts of a zombie takeover to get people really thinking about how to plan and manage big disasters.

For businesses that want to promote the zombie campaign, the CDC offers various images such as this one that look like the poster art for the newest zombie scare fest.

To prepare for the coming hordes of zombies, the CDC recommends some planning tips:

Create a disaster plan:

  • Discuss a disaster plan in advance to allow cooler heads to prevail (and not be eaten…) during an emergency.
  • Establish two emergency meeting places. A primary spot and a distant alternate to be used in case the first one is inaccessible.

Stock your disaster kit:

  • Include some of the basics, such as light, food, and water. You need multiple flashlights with extra batteries, some canned or dried meals, and up to one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Don’t forget such essentials as duct tape, plastic tarps, radios, and a whistle allow you to be prepared or reenact an episode of MacGyver.
  • Throw in 15 pounds of beef jerky for person. 75 pounds of dry dog food. A portable tummy scratcher.
  • Collect and organize important family documents such as passports, insurance papers, and other essentials.
  • Include land mines or bats which would truly be useful in a real zombie pandemic. Wait, zombies aren’t real? No fun!

It’s refreshing to see such a serious organization as the CDC employing some humor like “Zombie Apocalypse” to get its point across. Let’s be honest, any section of the government having a sense of humor is simply shocking. The campaign was also perfectly timed, coming days before the “end of the world” that thankfully did not come to pass. The zombie blog was so popular that it crashed the campaign’s site (not the CDC’s main site). I put a video on YouTube once called “Dog digs a hole in the yard.” Last time I checked, it had 1.2 million hits.

So what exactly is the point of the “Zombie Apocalypse?” Do those nerdy CDC folks know something we don’t? Are they stockpiling the zombie vaccine? (Sorry, I spend too much time on the interwebs looking at conspiracy forums…) For any type of disaster, preparation is the key. If you over prepare for the worst case scenario (it doesn’t get worse than flesh-eating zombies), then you will be able to handle any emergency.

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 RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Obscure Disasters Can Pose a Major Risk

fire, sky, water, earth pics
Are you prepared for each and every type of disaster?

With the Japan earthquake, frequent hurricanes, and massive tornadoes, many are wondering if we should expect more and bigger disasters. Major disasters by their very nature are unpredictable, which further enforces the need to imagine worst-case scenarios when implementing or rehearsing disaster response efforts. My worst-case scenario is when “Air Bud” came out on DVD. Worst. Movie. Ever.

The effect of some disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, can be minimized by advanced planning. For instance, governments can build levees and coastal swamp areas can be left undeveloped to provide natural flood protection. If the origins of a disaster come from beyond our planet or miles under the surface, then prevention is impossible, and preparation and planning are the only possible means of recourse.

Solar Flares are a known sun phenomena that affect communications on earth. In the past, such interruptions were temporary and were limited to certain types of devices and services. However, scientists who study solar storm patterns now contend that the severity of storms is cyclical and we are now entering an intense phase. (Let me get this straight, we can predict storms on that big glowing ball of fire, but you can’t tell me if my afternoon walk will be rained out!?).

  • NASA officials have equated a large solar storm to a “bolt of lightning” that could damage electronics and communications’ equipment around the globe.
  • Solar flares dramatically change the earth’s magnetic field, which could cause serious consequences for satellites, computers, handheld devices and myriad other items. My magnetic field gives me a great sense of direction. I was once 126 miles from home and was able to tell the limo driver exact directions to get me back.
  • If international power grids fail, potential losses are estimated to be in the trillions.
  •  Solar storms are monitored by the appropriately named Space Weather Prediction Center, which is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you’re prepared for each type.

On the west coast, scientists are concerned about what they refer to as an ARKstorm, a massive storm that dumps rain on California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada for up to two weeks straight. The storms pull so much heat and moisture, that they develop “atmospheric rivers.” Such rainfall amounts would produce massive flooding in the California central valley and in major metropolitan areas. It would simply be a case of too much water with nowhere to go.

  • Such a storm is based upon historical precedent, with winter rains in 1861 and 1862 leaving some parts of central California completely impassable. In San Francisco, nearly 30 inches of rain was reported. That’s taller than me!
  • The USGS offers a video titled “This is ARKstorm” that some might consider to be a little over the top. But it does clearly describe the possible effects.
  • Projected damage estimates are pegged at several hundred billion dollars. If my doghouse is washed away, somebody’s calling FEMA.

Yellowstone Caldera” might sound like the latest trendy micro-brew. But it actually refers to a potential “super volcano” that could erupt in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone sits on a “hotspot,” which is an area where molten mantle rock moves towards the surface over time. As it moves closer, it can become trapped, and needs release of pressure to prevent catastrophic explosions.

  •  The latest eruption occurred only 640,000 years ago, which is a very long time compared to a human or canine lifetime, but a relatively recent event geologically speaking.
  •  Half of the United States could be covered in ash.
  • Global cooling would result from atmospheric sun-blocking particles, restricting agriculture and leading to food shortages. Umm, not good.

The existence of such mega-disasters underscores the broader point of knowing there are various risks and that it is necessary to do your best to plan ahead and prepare for unforeseen contingencies. While you certainly shouldn’t live your life in a potential state of abject fear, it is important to take time to consider the unknown.

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 RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Help Children Cope Following a Disaster

Cartoon teacher reading to five children
At home or at school, use these strategies to help children cope after disasters.

Whether children personally experience trauma, watch events unfold on television or overhear adult discussions, natural and manmade disasters can leave them feeling frightened, confused and insecure. To help kids or pups cope, parents, teachers and friends should take steps so they understand how to easily identify and reduce disaster-related stress.

Identifying Risk Factors

While individual reactions to natural and manmade disasters vary, there are some common denominators in young folks who experience stress brought on by emergency situations such as fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorism and the like. To help you identify risk factors, consider these common childhood reactions to disaster:

  • Fear, especially at night
  • Sadness
  • Bedwetting or (in JR’s case), missing the puppy pad
  • Sleep disturbances and nightmares
  • Separation anxiety, clinging, dependant behavior
  • Anger
  • Acting out with whining, tantrums or (in my family’s case), excessive barking
  • Physical aggression (or, with my breed, bearing of teeth)
  • Problems in elementary or obedience school
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Although it is normal for both children and adults to react for a time to disasters near and far, for some, response to abnormal events can lead to more substantial, enduring psychological distress. Particularly at risk for this more serious, sustained negative behavior are children who have been directly exposed to physical disasters—such as those who were evacuated from their homes, have come in close contact with accident victims, witnessed deaths, suffered personal injuries or feared for their life and safety.

Also significant are secondary effects of disasters such as temporary changes in living arrangements, interruption in communication with friends and social networks, loss of personal property, parental unemployment and costs incurred during recovery to return the family to pre-disaster life and living conditions. A secondary effect for canines might be recovery from kennel cough.

In most cases, primary and secondary symptoms will diminish over time. But for those who were directly exposed to disasters, reminders may occasionally pop up such as high winds, smoke, cloudy skies, sirens, aftershocks or howling.

No matter the emergency, the ability of children to cope with disasters or emergencies is often tied to the way their parents cope. Kids and most animals are bright; so they can detect adult fears and sadness. So the best way to reduce trauma for kids is to take steps to effectively manage your own feelings as parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters.

Prior to disasters, FEMA advises the best way to establish a sense of control and to build confidence in children is to engage and involve them in preparing a family disaster plan. After a disaster, children can contribute to a family recovery plan.

After the Disaster/How to Help

  • Encourage children and adolescents to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Clarify misunderstandings about risk and danger by listening to children’s concerns.
  • Maintain a sense of calm by validating children’s concerns and perceptions.
  • Listen to what the child is saying or the dog is barking.
  • If a young child asks questions about the event, answer them.
  • If a child has difficulty expressing feelings, allow the child to draw a picture or tell a story of what happened. Since it is always difficult for puppies to explain themselves, I suggest providing plenty of treats.

Suggestions to Help Reassure Children

  • Hug your kids. Physical affection can restore feelings of security.
  • Share just enough details about the event to assuage fears without contributing to insecurity.
  • Quickly reestablish a daily routine. (For what it’s worth, I suggest the more mealtimes, the better.)
  • Involve kids in your efforts to return to normal.
  • Praise responsible behavior.
  • Monitor media exposure.
  • Take advantage of available support networks.

If, despite your efforts, your child continues to exhibit stress, and particularly if the reactions worsen over time or interfere with daily behavior at school, home, or with other relationships, it might be time to call in a professional. Seek assistance from a primary care physician, mental health professional, member of the clergy or veterinarian.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Going Green, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Identity Theft, Influenza, Swine Flu, Travel, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Winter Weather Hazards

11 Safety Tips for 2011: How to BE SAFE in the Coming Year

 

road sign with with "2010" red-lined and "2011" with an arrow
BE SAFE in 2011
  1. Be prepared…for everything and anything! At home and at work, the most important step you can take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of coworkers, employees, family and friends, is to prepare. For ideas, look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign, which features several suggestions for disaster preparedness. What’s more, our own blog posts provide food for fodder. And, as everyone knows, I love food of any kind…fodder or otherwise.
  2. Drill. A timely example of how preparation is critical for saving lives occurred at a San Antonio CPS office building which caught fire on December 20.  According to news’ reports, all 400 of the building’s occupants were forced to evacuate the building before 9 a.m., at which point the company’s emergency evacuation plans were put into effect. No doubt benefiting from the safety plan and associated regular fire drills, preparation paid off as every employee escaped without injury. I’m a big fan of drills, myself. But the guys at the firehouse didn’t appreciate the Chinese Fire Drill I started when we were on a recent call.
  3. Protect yourself from cyber-terrorism. As we rely more and more on all things electronic, we must be diligent to guard ourselves against identity theft. Four out of five victims of Identity Theft encounter serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time. So protect your Internet passwords by creating them randomly and changing them frequently. This isn’t a huge risk for me, personally, since I don’t have opposable thumbs.
  4. Guard against health risks. Although the flood of sensational news’ stories about Cholera, the Swine Flu and SARS have ebbed, you still run the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria if you fail to take precautions to remain healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands (or paws, whatever the case.) Also, take advantage of vaccinations designed to protect you against illnesses such as Influenza or Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  5. Consider your location. Since different types of disasters occur depending on your location, pay attention to geography and history when you prepare for natural or man-made disasters. If you live on the coast, for example, plan for tsunamis. If you get snow, make winterizing a priority. If you live near a fault line, make sure you are ready for earthquakes. No matter where you live, you should probably stock up on kibble and rawhide chews.
  6. Heed storm warnings. While some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, come without warning, many others are relatively easy to predict. So, if you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, follow forecasts. And when an event is anticipated, take necessary steps to ensure your own safety as well as that of emergency workers, who might be put in harm’s way if they have to brave the elements in order to rescue you. In other words, don’t sit on your roof in a flood. This is especially true if you live in a doghouse.
  7. Do the right thing. Don’t cut corners. Take a cue from the recent Shanghai Fire, which some believe resulted from contractors who cut corners. Applicable to all areas of life, doing what’s right will help keep everyone safe in 2011 and beyond.
  8. Go green. You don’t have to be a hippie to understand the importance of protecting our planet. Today, millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. This practice puts us all at risk. So do your part this year to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. You can start by sharing your leftovers instead of throwing them away. Every little bit helps! So I’ll do my part to reduce the refuse.
  9. Travel safely. Try to be patient if you fly. While it might be inconvenient to take off your belt, shoes and jewelry at the security gate, and possibly undergoing a TSA pat-down, these safety measures are in place to keep us safe.
  10. Fight fire with fire prevention. The surest way to fight fire is to prevent it. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week each year since the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago in 1871. This year’s push is to install smoke alarms. So if you haven’t installed them in your commercial property building or at home, do so today!
  11. Keep learning. Our corporate mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” The RJWestmore Training System 2.0 is a fully integrated system which allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

If you own or manage commercial property, by enrolling in the system, please consider our system, which trains occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. What’s more; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. We hope you’ll allow us to do our part to help keep you safe in 2011 and beyond.

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. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

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

Hurricanes: Prepare by Keeping Watch

If you live in a high-risk area, prepare by carefully monitoring weather conditions.

Final Post in Our Series about Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond. 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 final post in a series about preparing and recovering from tropical storms and hurricanes, we’ll examine where to turn to stay on top of forecasts and local emergency plans.

Since the best way to deal with a hurricane is to prepare for one, you should acquaint yourself with websites and notification centers as well as the terminology used to distinguish between different storm warnings. This is crucial for all those who live and/or work in a high-risk area. And that probably means you either live, work or vacation on one of the coasts. Monitor weather patterns and warnings so you will know when to take evasive action. Here are a few helpful resources, offering easily-accessible weather-related information in real time:

AccuWeather.com

American Red Cross

The Disaster Center

FEMA Storm Watch

FindLocalWeather

Intellicast.com

Local Weather Forecast Center

National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service

NOAA

NOLA

Weather Bug

The Weather Channel

WeatherForYou.com

Many of the above sites offer RSS feeds and desktop notifications and email alerts. Dogs don’t usually subscribe to email accounts, so we have some notification systems of our own. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the Twilight Bark. Another (less frenetic) free weather notification system is available via the Emergency Email and Wireless Network, which provides breaking weather alerts and an information-packed National Weather Situation Page.

Once you are set up to receive weather updates, the next step in hurricane preparedness is to be able to distinguish between the terminologies used to describe various storm systems. Where hurricanes and tropical storms are concerned, the following definitions are critical.

WATCH vs. WARNING: THE DIFFERENCE

(This distinction is also important in dog world, where we are routinely placed on watch so we can give plenty of advanced warning.)

TROPICAL STORM WATCH

Tropical storm conditions (defined by sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within a specified coastal area within 48 hours.

TROPICAL STORM WARNING

Tropical storm conditions (defined by sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within a specified coastal area within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WATCH

Hurricane conditions (defined by sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within a specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

HURRICANE WARNING

An announcement that hurricane conditions (defined by sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within a specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Once you determine that a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning is in effect, take the following steps:

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
  • Check emergency supplies.
  • Fuel car.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
  • Review your evacuation plan.
  • Find out where your dog is. Direct him or her to the family car.

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, 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.