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, Earthquakes, Uncategorized

Shake, Rattle, and….Prepare?

Are you prepared for earthquakes?

The theme of many of our blogs is: “Are you prepared?” The reason for our keen focus on preparation is because history has shown us that the unpredictable will happen, and it probably won’t come with much advance warning. All we can do is prepare and plan. Proper planning before an earthquake can result in dramatic prevention of loss of life or property.

The Great California ShakeOut is an annual event that promotes earthquake preparedness for Californians. This year’s event is scheduled for October 21st, at 10:21 a.m. However, business and homeowners are encouraged to schedule events of their own, if timing of the official event is inconvenient.

So far, 6.5 million people and counting have registered to participate in this month’s ShakeOut. And there is still time to sign up. Encourage your team members and tenants to register and support this important event. The event is sharable via Facebook and Twitter, so encourage other business owners or managers to participate.

The scenarios and drills used in the ShakeOut are based on data from a hypothetical 7.8 magnitude quake on the San Andreas Fault. Results of the scenario are available in both a 24-page version and the full scientific 312-page version, courtesy of the USGS. You very likely won’t have time to read all 312 pages. But there is still much to glean from the main points of the exercise.

A free ShakeOut manual for business owners and managers provides suggestions for conducting drills to practice earthquake preparedness:

  • Drills cover, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” and other training that tenants can utilize in order to stay safe during a shaker.
  • The manual encourages actual interaction and discussion between tenants and drill organizers. Try to get people who actually work in the building to talk about earthquake safety. You might try to get some suggestions for improving evacuation routes or supplementing a shortage of emergency kits.
  • Go viral! Owners can share photos and stories from this year’s drill at www.ShakeOut.org
  • Advanced drills are detailed, including a “Business Operations Simulation Drill,” which can test your company’s ability to manage a disaster. The drill asks businesses to learn through simulations that involve problems such as loss of electricity, lack of cell phone service, or blocked emergency exits. Advanced drills are intended to mirror real earthquake emergencies.

Another component to the ShakeOut is “Secure Your Space.” This initiative covers not only how unsecured filing cabinets and picture frames can turn into hazards, but also why it’s necessary to retrofit buildings and adhere to proper codes

Similar to our last blog, which covered “Fire Prevention Week”, this post about the Great Shakeout is a good opportunity to raise immediate awareness about the subject. But real safety preparedness and planning involves more than information that can be covered in a single day. It’s great to promote awareness initiatives like the Shakeout to increase tenants’ exposure to safety issues, but be sure to have frequent refresher sessions and reminders about lessons learned. Knowledge about safety is useless it’s put into practice. So make sure proper procedures are followed.

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.