Posts Tagged ‘disaster preparedness’

How Do Tornadoes Work?

May 10, 2011

Tornadoes destroy homes and scar the earth.  They can reach speeds of up to 318 miles per hour and measure miles across.  These vicious storms are a crazy sight to see, but how do they work?  Tornadoes develop out of thunderstorms, but it takes a special type of thunderstorm to produce a tornado.  These storms are called supercell thunderstorms, which produce strong updrafts.

Given the number of tornadoes that have struck the United States months before tornado season usually begins, let's step back and understand how these storm systems work.If the updraft is strong enough, a vortex of air can develop.  When the updraft of the storm strengthens, the horizontal rotating air can be tilted into the vertical, with the help of inflow winds.  The storm cloud’s base will lower and form a wall cloud if the rotating air is strong enough.  Should the air’s rotation strengthen further, a funnel cloud can form.  If the rotation remains strong and the funnel cloud eventually reaches the ground, a tornado is born.  Tornado warnings can be scary, but you should go to a safe place immediately, particularly a basement or an underground structure built to keep you safe from a tornado.  Make sure you prepare a disaster kit for you and your family months before tornado season starts.

Watch the video below to see the different types of tornadoes that can form.

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Taylor P.

Three Storms: The Perfect Storm?

April 21, 2011

Extreme weather has affected three states in as many regions of the United States.  In the East Coast, North Carolina was hit by a tornado, while Texas wildfires scorched the Southwest, and a cold snap in the Midwest caused snow to fall in Michigan.  The tornado in North Carolina killed twenty-two people and damaged or destroyed more than 800 homes.  Meanwhile, wildfires have scorched Texas for days, consuming over a million acres and making the situation critical in the Lone Star State.  So far, 110 homes have been destroyed and hundreds more could be threatened.  In Michigan, record-breaking snow fell this April, bringing about seven to nine inches of wet, heavy snow, which has bent trees, snapped power lines and shut down schools throughout the Wolverine State.

April 2011 has been marked by extreme weather. Tornadoes ravaged North Carolina and the southeastern United States. A springtime snowfall has covered Michigan and the Midwest. Wildfires have scorched Texas. Is the country in the eye of the perfect storm?Can the tornado, wildfire and snowfall be related to one storm?  I believe that these storms could be related.  The cold front from the north can send tornadoes ripping throughout other regions.  April 2011 is said to go down as a record month for tornadoes.  The heavy drought in Texas may be due to the same cold front headed towards the east instead of the south, resulting in the spread of wildfires throughout the state.  The best thing you can do to prepare for these natural disasters is to have safety kits in your house and an emergency plan.  Don’t forget to set aside food and water that will last for at least two weeks.

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Taylor P.

 

Disaster Preparedness

March 28, 2011

There have been many disasters lately such as the recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.  Disasters such as the aforementioned are hardly predicted accurately, which means it is our responsibility to be prepared at all times.  Precautions have been taught to us when we went to school or when we go to work, but for those who might have forgotten, I hope this refreshes your memory about the things you should and should not do in the event of a disaster.

Natural disasters can happen at any times.  Here are some ways you and your family can prepare for the next disaster.Things you should do to prepare for a disaster:

  • Stay calm.
  • Have all important documents (birth certificates, passports, social security cards, etc) pre-organized in a briefcase or backpack and ready to go.  See “Simplifying Your Financial Life” for more information.
  • Organize a safety kit including band aids, non-perishable food, water, disinfectant, an extra pair of clothing, an extra set of keys, and other necessary toiletries.
  • Practice how to take cover for different types of disasters (e.g. in case of an earthquake, get under the nearest table or doorway and cover your head).
  • Come up with different safety plans for your family, including different escape routes and rendezvous points.
  • Write down any emergency numbers and keep them in your safety kit.  You might also consider purchasing an inexpensive, prepaid cell phone to keep in the kit, as well.

Things you should not do in case of a disaster:

  • DO NOT PANIC!
  • Do not call 911.  Phone lines will be jammed during a disaster.
  • Do not rely solely on your cell phones for help.
  • Do not lose focus.
  • Do not run into places where there is more danger.

Disasters can be a frightening experience but it is always important to remain calm during any difficult situation, as hard as it may be.  Although there have been some predictions of future earthquakes, predictions are nothing to stress over.  Instead, take it as a warning to be prepared.  If you are prepared, there is nothing to be worried about.

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Joie Montoya

 

Buy a Ready-Made Disaster Kit vs. Make One from Scratch

April 26, 2010

Disasters can strike at any time, arriving in the form of unannounced earthquakes, forecasted yet still destructive hurricanes and tornadoes, other acts of God and even man-made chemical spills or power plant meltdowns.  When disaster strikes, are you prepared? What does being prepared mean?  The makers of one such disaster kit breaks it down like this: Food, water, shelter, first aid, alert, and “other items”.  The first three should look familiar to you as the traditional items on an immediate “basic needs” list, while first aid deals with injury inflicted during the disaster.  Alert items help EMT or search and rescue find you sooner.  “Other items”, such as a dust mask and work gloves, help reduce further injury.

A disaster kit addresses the basic needs of food, water, and shelter for you and your family. Should you buy a ready-made kit or create one from scratch?Why do I recommend buying a ready-made disaster kit? While these kits come with everything you will need, creating a disaster kit from scratch and buying everything that comes with it takes a lot of time and effort.  The 58-item disaster kit comes with 21 unique items.  Would you like to run around a sporting goods store or department store seeking out these items?  Furthermore, you may need to make a trip to a specialty store if you can’t find some of the items.  In any event, purchasing a ready-made disaster kit will cost between $40-90.  Creating one from scratch will cost around $80 if you purchase the items in bulk, but you will be left with lots of leftovers, enough to make multiple kits.

Here are the contents of the ready-made disaster kit with all the items you need to get by until the city or state restores basic services and utilities and businesses reopen.  All the items come in a bright, safety orange backpack:

WATER
6 Emergency Drinking Pouches
FOOD
1 2400-Calorie Bar
ALERT
1 Flashlight w/batteries
2 Light Sticks
1 Whistle
SHELTER/WEATHER
1 Rain Poncho
1 Emergency Blanket
4 Hand Warmers
FIRST AID ITEMS
15 ¾” x 3″ Adhesive Bandages
5 ⅜” x 1 ½” Adhesive Bandages
1 Antibiotic Ointment Packet
3 Antiseptic Wipes
3 Alcohol Prep Pads
1 First Aid Guide
2 Acetaminophen Tablets (e.g. Tylenol)
2 Ibuprofen Tablets (e.g. Advil)
2 Antacid Tablets
OTHER
1 Pair of Work Gloves
1 Dust Mask
1 Biohazard Bag w/tie
4 Hand Sanitizer Packets

If you feel compelled to create your own disaster kit for, say, your family of four, buying the items in bulk will save you a lot of money.  Below, I will also list the number of items purchased in bulk in parentheses.  Even if you assemble four complete kits and stuff them in a single orange backpack, you will still find yourself with a lot of leftover items, as the numbers will show.

WATER
24 Emergency Drinking Pouches (pack of 60)
FOOD
4 2400-Calorie Bars (pack of 24)
ALERT
4 Flashlights w/batteries (each)
8 Light Sticks (pack of 10)
4 Whistles (each)
SHELTER/WEATHER
4 Rain Ponchos (pack of 4)
4 Emergency Blankets (pack of 4)
16 Hand Warmers (pack of 40)
FIRST AID ITEMS
60 ¾” x 3″ Adhesive Bandages (pack of 100)
20 ⅜” x 1 ½” Adhesive Bandages (pack of 100)
4 Antibiotic Ointment Packets (pack of 100)
12 Antiseptic Wipes (pack of 100)
12 Alcohol Prep Pads (pack of 200)
4 First Aid Guides (each)
8 Acetaminophen Tablets (pack of 50)
8 Ibuprofen Tablets (pack of 50)
8 Antacid Tablets (pack of 125)
OTHER
4 Pairs of Work Gloves (each)
4 Dust Masks (pack of 30)
4 Bio-hazard Bags w/tie (pack of 25)
16 Hand Sanitizer Packets (pack of 200)
1 Orange Backpack

As you can see, just four items (flashlight with batteries, whistle, First Aid guide, and work gloves) were not purchased in bulk.  In any case, unless you ran a doctor’s office, were compiling a disaster kit that complied with OSHA, or had accident-prone children, the chances of requiring so many first aid items, hand warmers, and packets of hand sanitizer are slim.

You may save a lot of money by assembling your own disaster kit but you will waste a lot of time doing so and you will have a lot of items leftover.  It is never too soon to purchase a disaster kit so that you and your family can have some peace of mind when the unexpected takes place.  Disaster kits address the most basic of human needs.  Do not wait until a disaster already takes place to think about the needs of you or your family.

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Francis M. Unson