Planning

Articles about planning and preparing for a disaster or crisis, from both a citizen and a responder perspective.


 

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...
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...
Preparing Children for a Disaster: A Primer

Preparing Children for a Disaster: A Primer

Growing up in a prepared household these are a few of the tips I learned from my parents about preparing children for a disaster.  I have started to teach my daughter these as well, even though she is 18 months. #1 – Start teaching them now. It is never too early to start teaching kids how to be prepared and survive.  My father worked in several types of emergency services and my mother worked with emergency support services as a volunteer.  One of their favorite stories is that by the time I was three, I knew how to use a two-way radio.  When I was five, I could tie a sling to a wounded arm, better than most of the adult students in their first aid classes.  By eight, I could build a snow shelter and make a shelter in the forest.  There are many cases where a small child saved an adult’s life because they were taught what to do at a very early age. #2 – Practice with your family. Kids need to have things repeated, and repeated, and repeated, and repeated.  Think about how many times they hear the ABCs.  The reason I could do first aid at such a young age was because my parents had to take me with them when they taught classes.  In school, we practice fire drills each month.  The reason is that with practice, it becomes automatic.  Do the same at home when preparing children for a disaster.  Yes, my family had home fire drills, including when friends stayed over.  I even had pop quizzes on emergency information.  Give rewards,...
Are Emergency Response Assessments Missing the Mark?

Are Emergency Response Assessments Missing the Mark?

No long term business endeavor can successfully be sustained without regular structured assessment. Emergency response is no different. In fact it may be more important to accurately assess emergency response programs. Emergency response does not generate income, nor is generating income a goal of emergency response programs. Therefore it differs from private business in that a simple bottom line fiscal evaluation does not exist. It is quite possible that a private business can generate profit while not being run at its most efficient levels. The goal is often to make money, not provide the absolute best product. An emergency response organization has a goal of doing their best. They are evaluated by not only what they do, but also on their capabilities to provide expertise and care that may never be needed. How do you assess an organization’s ability to do something they don’t do regularly, if at all? How do you assess an organization’s ability to do something they have never done? Capability Assessment for Readiness and Emergency Response The answer to those questions is in what the Federal Emergency Management Agency calls Capability Assessment for Readiness or CAR. While it may be called by different names, the emergency response community uses capability assessments as the standard for determining the readiness of responders. Most people will say that our responders are doing their best. This is true, in that they are doing their best given the systems they are given to operate within. Would they do better if they used systems that were more accurately assessed, that were modernized regularly, and that used the latest technology had to offer to make them more...
The Essentials of Hurricane Preparedness

The Essentials of Hurricane Preparedness

“Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy.” — Max Mayfield, Director National Hurricane Center Hurricane is a generic term for a type of tropical cyclone.  Such a cyclone is characterized by very strong wind, a low-pressure center, and a counterclockwise circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.  Wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour have been recorded in Category 5 hurricanes.  Tropical cyclones in the North Pacific are generally called Typhoons, while similar storms in the North Atlantic are called Hurricanes.  The most intense Atlantic hurricane was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 with sustained winds of over 180 mph.  The largest recorded hurricane was the 1979 Supertyphoon Tip with a radius of 683 miles. In modern history, hurricanes have caused the death of thousands of people and resulted in billions of dollars of damage.  The States of Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, as well as the island territories of Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, have all sustained direct hits from hurricanes. If one lives or visits an area prone to hurricanes, it pays to be prepared for this eventually.  While a fearsome force of nature, practical steps taken ahead of time can lessen the risk to one’s life, limb, and property.  Also by being prepared, one strengthens his or her community’s resilience.  The following guide is presented by Disaster.com to help one get organized and ready for a hurricane. Hurricane Preparedness for Your Home and Business “Oh, a storm is threat’ning, My very life today, If I don’t get some...
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