Emergency Preparedness - Know Your Disaster

Being prepared for a disaster is the most important factor behind your chances for survival.  A big part of being prepared is making sure you know the kinds of disasters you may face.  In our Emergency Preparedness series we are going to cover the types of disasters you may face, as well as how to prepare and what to do if and when you are faced with one.

 

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are large rotating storms that typically happen in warm tropical climates and have extremely high wind speeds. The center of a hurricane is referred to as the eye and is the one area of low air pressure in the storm. These storms typically happen between May and November as this is considered hurricane season. To keep safe during these disasters it is recommended to make sure you have the following:

  • A safe place to take shelter that is not at risk of flooding
  • A reliable weather radio
  • At least one week of food and water,
  • At least one standard first aid kit
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio
  • Charged power packs to keep vital electronics working
  • Manual crank or solar chargers
  • Extra batteries for your electronics
  • Waterproof dry bags to store important items in

 

Floods

Floods can be natural or man made, and are typically the result of prior weather systems overloading waterways and dams.  They can occur anywhere in the world and are comprised of three types:

  • Fluvial - occurs when the water level in a river, lake or stream rises and overflows onto the surrounding banks, shores and neighboring land. The water level rise could be due to excessive rain or snowmelt.
  • Pluvial - occurs when an extreme rainfall event creates a flood independent of an overflowing water body.  This type includes flash floods which don't require you to be near any major bodies of water but occur as water congregates and flows downwards, creating a destructive fast moving force.
  • Coastal - commonly caused by intense windstorm events occurring at the same time as high tide (storm surge), and tsunamis

To stay safe and prepared for a flood you should make sure to have the following on hand and ready:

  • An emergency weather radio to stay informed of shifting weather patterns
  • A pre-packed suitcase or backpack with essential toiletries and clothing for 72 hours, also known as a bug-out-bag
  • An escape plan with multiple options in case one or more routes become flooded
  • At least one standard first aid kit
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • Glow sticks or flares to signal for help if you get trapped
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio
  • Waterproof dry bags to store important items in

 

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are rapid rotating funnels of air that is in contact with the earth and a low level of clouds. There are 3 types of tornadoes, the multiple vortex, landspout, and waterspout. These often happen in the great plains of central United States (the Midwest) due to warm moist air from the gulf meeting with cold dry air from the Rocky Mountains. This is often referred to as Tornado Alley and occurs March through May when the weather is shifting from Winter to Summer seasons. To keep safe during a tornado it is recommended to go into a basement or centralized rooms without windows and using a sturdy heavy piece of protection such as a large table or mattress to prevent injury from flying debris.  To prepare for a tornado you'll want to make sure you have the following:

  • A reliable emergency weather radio
  • Flashlights
  • Food and water for 3-5 days
  • Charged power packs to keep vital electronics working
  • Manual crank or solar chargers
  • Extra batteries for your electronics
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio.

 

Blizzards

A blizzard is a severe winter storm that is determined by strong winds at least 35 mph that last for an extended period of time, typically 3 hours or more. Blizzards in the United States rte most commonly seen in the Great Plains and upper Midwest, but can also take place in the Northeast and Northwest. Since blizzards occur in the winter months and have a tendency to knock out power lines make sure you are prepared with the following:

  • A safe and warm place indoors to stay for an extended period,
  • At least one week of food and water,
  • At least one standard first aid kit
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • Charged power packs to keep vital electronics working
  • Manual crank or solar chargers
  • Extra batteries for your electronics
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio

 

Earthquake

                        An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth that is the aftermath of the tectonic plates grinding, this causes tension between the two causing the ground to shake. Earthquakes can happen anywhere but are more likely to happen along the edge of coastal or continental plates. Earthquakes can happen at any time and sometimes such small ones occur that we do not even feel them! In order to prepare for one, it is best to secure heavy appliances and shelving, move heavy items to lower levels, and find a safe place to brace yourself away from things that have potential to fall.

  • A reliable emergency weather radio
  • At least one week of food and water,
  • At least one standard first aid kit
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • Charged power packs to keep vital electronics working
  • Manual crank or solar chargers
  • Extra batteries for your electronics
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio

 

Wildfire

A wildfire is an uncontrollable fire that is located in areas with large amounts of combustible (dry) vegetation. Wildfires occur in forests and grasslands in the United States and happen during drier months because there are higher winds and more dead fuel. Experts refer to summer as wildfire season due to the higher occurrence of storms from which the lightning ignites the dry vegetation. To prepare your home for a wildfire you can rake leaves, dispose of dead plants, and remove dead tree limbs that are over the home, but it is most important to make sure you have a predetermined exit strategy in case an evacuation is needed.  Alongside your evacuation plan you should also make sure you have the following:

  • An emergency radio to stay informed of shifting fires and weather patterns
  • A pre-packed suitcase or backpack with essential toiletries and clothing for 72 hours, also known as a bug-out-bag
  • At least one week of food and water you can easily take with you
  • At least one standard first aid kit
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio
  • Government approved face masks and breathing filters to avoid damage from smoke inhalation

 

Pandemic

A pandemic is a disease epidemic that has spread to either a large region or in some cases the entire globe. Pandemics do not happen very often (less than 5 since the 1600s) but when they are around they have potential to reach an overwhelming amount of places. The best way to stay safe during a pandemic is to avoid contact with people who are sick, wash your hands often, and avoid touching you face or mouth.  It is also critical to listen to your local and national emergency management organizations and leadership since everyone will have unique criteria surrounding their location and the type of disease.  Unfortunately, pandemics are one of the most difficult disasters to forecast since they could occur literally anywhere and no two diseases behave the same.  However you can still make sure you are prepared by having the following items ready to go at the first sign of a potential pandemic situation.

  • An emergency radio to stay informed by government and emergency management agencies
  • A pre-packed suitcase or backpack with essential toiletries and clothing for 72 hours, also known as a bug-out-bag
  • At least two weeks of food and water that is shelf stable and sanitary
  • At least one standard first aid kit, though this may vary depending on the type of illness you are facing
  • Flashlights and candles in case the power goes out
  • A method of communication other than your cell phone such as a two-way or CB radio
  • Proper medical safety equipment such as face masks and medical gloves
  • A reserve stash of shelf stable medication such as ibuprofen to help manage fevers and body aches
  • Rubbing alcohol and cleaning agents such as bleach or clorox wipes to make sure you keep your environment sanitary
  • Plenty of soap and sanitizers
  • Government approved face masks and breathing filters to avoid damage from smoke inhalation

 

 

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