Natural Disasters

Articles focused on planning for, responding to and recovery from the devastating effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, tornadoes, Winter storms and other natural disasters.


 

Extreme Heat: An Introductory Guide To Surviving Hot Weather

Extreme Heat: An Introductory Guide To Surviving Hot Weather

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines extreme heat as “summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year”.  The year 2014 was the hottest in modern history and more hot weather may well be on the way.   Extreme heat and high temperatures can lead to health issues and eventually death if not properly addressed.  Young children, older adults, those who are sick and/or overweight are even more likely to succumb to the effects of extreme heat and temperature.  There are things one can do now, however, to mitigate against the effects of extreme heat.  The following is an introductory guide to doing just that. Extreme Heat: General Preparation Having air conditioning installed at home or place of business is a good starting point.  The system must be in good repair and installed properly. All air-conditioning ducts should be inspected for proper insulation. Do not rely upon fans as a primary source of cooling. On a temporary basis, window reflectors can be installed to reflect heat back outside. Be sure to cover windows that receive sun with drapes, shades, or other coverings. Outdoor awnings or louvers can also reduce the heat significantly. Weather-stripping can be installed on doors and window sills to keep cool air in the building. During a heat emergency, limit your exposure to the sun as much as possible. Cooling showers or baths may be taken to reduce body heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water.  Hydration is key to survival.  For those with medical conditions that require a fluid-restricted diet, consult with your family...
The Winter Storm: Preparing for and Surviving a Blizzard

The Winter Storm: Preparing for and Surviving a Blizzard

A blizzard is an extreme form of winter storm.  It is categorized by massive snowfall and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour.  In addition to these parameters, the National Weather Service (NWS) also adds that it is a snow storm lasting three or more hours. As a blizzard is marked by extreme cold, high winds, and reduced visibility, they can present unique challenges and dangers.  Heavy snowfall can result in vehicle accidents, collapsed roofs, disrupted distribution systems, damaged power and communication systems, the death of pets and livestock, and serious injury or death to those caught outside.  The following guide will assist the reader in being prepared for blizzards and related winter weather. Be Informed about Winter Storms First and foremost, one must be aware that such a weather pattern is on the way.  Serious winter storm conditions are generally known days in advance, so one can prepare and adjust plans accordingly.  Governmental authorities, as well as members of the scientific community often provide guidance in the days before a blizzard occurs.  Be sure to tune in your radio or television for regular updates.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also broadcasts information on a continual basis.  These broadcasts may be listened to on the Internet or with a radio receiver. Preparing for Blizzards There are steps that can be taken today to reduce the risk of injury or loss of property due to severe winter weather.  These include: Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.  The American Red Cross has information on these life threatening condition. Consider installing or obtaining a generator for emergency electricity....
Fire Safety and Wildfire Preparedness

Fire Safety and Wildfire Preparedness

Wildfires (also known as a brush fire, forest fire, desert fire, or vegetation fire) are uncontrolled fires in areas in which combustible vegetation can be found.  Practicing good fire safety is paramount when wildfires may be imminent. These fires can be started by natural occurrences, such as lightning and volcanic eruptions, or by man-made sources, such as accidents, carelessness, military action, terrorist activity, or arson.  Droughts, heat waves, and climate changes can impact the behavior of wildfires. According to a recent study, wildfires, and related burns, kill 339,000 people worldwide every year.  The majority of the recorded deaths are in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by southeast Asia.  The death toll is lower in the United States and Canada, but property damage is in the multiple billions annually.  Millions of acres are consumed each year by wildfires. The largest, though not deadliest, wildfire in American history was Great Fire of 1910.  It was dubbed the Big Burn and approximately three million acres in Idaho, Montana, and Washington state.  Eighty-seven individuals, mostly firefighters, lost their life in the event.  The largest wildfire in North America was the 1950 Chinchaga fire in British Columbia and Alberta, which destroyed around 3.5 million acres. While a fearsome force of nature, there are preparations that private citizens and home owners can take today to help mitigate against the ravages of wildfires.  The following are some steps to take before and during a wildfire event. Fire Safety – Preparing for a Wildfire Read up on the the dangers of wildfires and how to be prepared.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state level organizations, the American Red Cross, and citizen-initiated groups all publish...
Cyclone Pam: A Story of Surviving a Category 5 Hurricane

Cyclone Pam: A Story of Surviving a Category 5 Hurricane

(Picture Above is Looking across Efate, Vanuatu before Cyclone Pam hit) Please Note: This is a firsthand experience of Cyclone Pam slamming into Vanuatu from the perspective of a couple living on Efate, the third largest island of the chain. Cyclones, Hurricanes and Typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon, but which word is used is based upon where the event occurs – Cyclones in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, Hurricane in the North Atlantic and Pacific, and Typhoon in the Northwest Pacific. Preparing for Cyclone Pam We had plenty of warning from Internet based forecast services of a seriously big tropical storm heading for us. The Vanuatu Meteorological Service (VMS) refused to acknowledge the threat this system posed as it hadn’t entered their area of responsibility. Public pressure on social media eventually led to them issuing warnings before it did enter their area. This was such a large and ferocious system that many, including myself, got on to social media to warn people. This earned us insults and threats from people using the VMS Facebook name. I can’t recall what I was feeling in the build up to the arrival of Cyclone Pam as my business is boat orientated so we obviously had a lot to do to prepare, including craning our own boat out of the water. Preparing for such a big storm took up all of my mental capacity and I really had no time to feel anything. I guess, in retrospect, I was functioning on autopilot – some natural instinct directing me to do what I was doing. Sort of like a flight or fight...
Flood Survival Tips:  Knowing the Facts

Flood Survival Tips: Knowing the Facts

A flood is a large overflow of water beyond its normal confines that covers normally dry areas.  Flooding occurs in every state in the U.S. and in every region of Canada.  According to the National Weather Service, the average loss of life to flooding is 89 individuals a year and an astounding $8.2 Billion in damages.  Steps can be taken now to lessen the danger and damage posed by flooding.  The following is an introductory guide, resource directory and survival tips to assist the reader in being ready. Survival Tips for Before Flooding Occurs Some things one can do before a flood are: Prepare you home before hand. Modifications to the home can be done to reduce the damage caused by flooding.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publishes a free guide entitled Protecting Your Home And Property From Flood Damage that will help a homeowner make decisions on how best to avoid property damage and personal risk posed by flooding.  Some state level agencies also publish similar guides. Avoid building new homes in floodplains.  If the building is situated in a floodplain, it must be elevated and reinforced. Construct barriers (e.g., beams, floodwalls, etc.) to stop waters from entering your home. Research and know the areas prone to flooding in your area. Seal basement walls with waterproofing material. Make sure gutters and drains are always clear. Be sure to elevate electrical panels, switches, sockets, furnaces, fuel tanks, etc. if the area is susceptible to flooding. Note that flood losses are not normally covered under homeowner’s insurance polices, so have proper flood insurance for your home or business.  Flood insurance is available...
Tornado Preparedness: The Essentials

Tornado Preparedness: The Essentials

The tornado, also known as twisters and cyclones, is the most violent storm in nature, and tornado preparedness in regions prone to them is essential.  It is a rotating column of air that is in contact with the ground and a cumulonimbus cloud.  The majority of tornadoes have wind speeds of under 110 miles per hour, but some can reach 300 miles per hour.  Very extreme tornadoes can stretch to more than two miles wide, though most are smaller.  Tornadoes may accompany hurricanes and other tropical storms as they move inland.  Most tornadoes move Southwest to Northeast, but they can move in any direction.  Tornadoes can develop quickly so they may strike with little or no warning.  Most twisters occur east of the Rocky Mountains, though every state has some risk.  Every year, on average, twisters kill around 60 people and cause $400 million dollars in damage.  The risk to life, limb, and property can be mitigated against with proper tornado readiness though.  The following guide offers some tips for doing just that. Tornado Preparedness – Know the Signs of an Impending Tornado Tornadoes may gather and strike with little or no advanced warning which highlights the need for advance tornado preparedness.  However, before a tornado hits: An unusual black or green color to the sky may indicate a tornado is coming. The wind may quiet down and the air may become very still.  The calm may be preceded by hail or heavy rainfall. A loud roaring sound may be heard.  Tornadoes have been described as sounding like a jet engine, a locomotive, or a strong waterfall. A debris cloud...
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