Are You O.K? Where Are You?

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FEMA and NOAA are designating the week of March 3-9, 2013 as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  So over the course of this week, we want to help you with your preparation for a new season of weather perils.   Again, the goal here is to get you thinking of the Spring season and how you may be affected.   This is the fourth post in our series.

I wanted to simply point out some resources that you should look into as you look at your severe weather preparation or really disaster preparedness readiness.  Today the topic is communications.

You can think of communications in three ways:

  1. Pre-planning your information
  2. Receiving information
  3. Post event communication

Pre-planning your information covers things you tell family members ahead of time.  “If this happens, then I want you to go here.”  An example, would be your fire escape plan.  “If there’s a fire, get out of the house and meet at the telephone poll across street or at our neighbor Mrs. Smithwick.”  This communication is a plan for what to do should something happen.  It’s decided upon and discussed with family members ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

Receiving information concerns how you will receive alerts and notifications as well as family status (location of members etc) just in advance of a severe weather or other disaster event.  It would be good to include this information in a pre-planning communication plan as well.   A very simple example of a portion of this may be,  “We listen to the radio and hear that a warning has been issued.  Let’s text each other so we know where everyone is.  Also, whoever is home and has time, go across the street and tell elderly, Mrs. Smithwick about it…be sure it’s safe for you to go first.”

Lastly, post event communication.  Surely, your family members will want to hear from you.  Even those family and friends who may not live locally, but may be aware that your area just experienced a significant event.  They will try to contact you and/or you may want to contact them.  Maybe an example here is, one member of your family contacts a person who is away and then let that someone in turn inform others in their area.

All of this may sound complicated and you may not believe you have the time to create such a plan.  You don’t need to do all this thinking and coming up with ideas on your own.  Go to http://www.ready.gov/ and browse the site.  I want to specifically lift up the Make A Plan tab.  It has:

  • A Family Emergency Plan template that you can print and fill out.
  • Family Communication tips
  • A way for you to sign up to receive text messages from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  • Questions you may want to ask schools and workplaces
  • Information about utility shut offs, vital records, and more

If you select the “Plan to Protect Yourself & Your Family” link from the Make A Plan drop down menu, you will be delivered to these resources and can get going right away.  It’s a great way to begin the planning process and when it’s completed, you have a communication plan that everyone can be made aware of and that you’ll have should you find yourself in a potential disaster situation.

#severeweatherweek  #safety  #prepared

Knowing of A Potential Danger–Why Wouldn’t You Act?

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FEMA and NOAA are designating the week of March 3-9, 2013 as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  So over the course of this week, we want to help you with your preparation for a new season of weather perils.   Again, the goal here is to get you thinking of the Spring season and how you may be affected.   This is the third post in our series.

Last time, we talked about the meaning of weather Watches and Warnings issued by the National Weather Service.  As you know, these notifications are distributed over a wide range of media (TV, Radio, Internet, word of mouth, etc.)  Nowadays, it’s not that the message advising us of dangerous weather conditions isn’t being sent out or getting out, but rather the inclination of the hearer to take action.  Agreed, there’s is only so much action one can take, but that is different than not taking responsibility to make necessary preparations before anything has actually occurred.

Despite all the notification means, it is still possible that one doesn’t realize an actual Watch or Warning has been issued.  You have probably encountered a time when yourself or someone else said, “Oh, we’re in a tornado warning…I hadn’t heard, but I thought something was up because the sky looks awful!”  So even if we don’t learn of the notifications first-hand, we must pay attention to changing weather conditions and inquire about any Watches or Warnings.

Lastly for today, it is sometimes easy to take the notifications less than serious.   People, friends, colleagues, may be downplaying the likelihood of any trouble actually occurring.  Or you’ll hear, “they (forecasters) never get it right.”   Don’t let this attitude keep you from taking the proper precautions.  The real issue about being warned of potential trouble is not to wait and see if “they’re right this time.”  The issue is about knowing of a potential danger in the first place so you may take appropriate action to:

  • Remove yourself from the situation
  • Take actions to protect your life or the lives of others who may be affected
  • Take actions to protect property

To not do so enhances the risk of enduring some catastrophe.

 

#severeweatherweek  #safety  #prepared

Affecting You Where You Live, Work, and Play

As many are still enduring the blizzards and snowfalls of recent weeks, FEMA and NOAA are designating the week of March 3-9, 2013 as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  So over the course of this week, we want to help you with your preparation for a new season of weather perils and hope you are doing well with the recent ones.   Again, the goal here is to get you thinking of the Spring season and how you may be affected.

So, let’s first talk about your first step:  Which Affect You Where You Live, Work, and Play.

Spring weather brings its on list of possible weather types:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Severe Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Flash Flooding
  • Lightning
  • Fires from lightning strikes
  • High winds to include rapidly advancing storms, gusty winds, and very strong straight line winds and microbursts
  • Hail
  • Travel problems, like, hydroplaning, poor visibility, and more.
  • Even freezing rain may still be a problem in early Spring

Take a moment now and consider which events typically affect your state, county, town, and neighborhood.  If you’re living in an area you haven’t  spent much time in yet, check with a neighbor on what you may expect.  If you’ve been living in the area for a few years, this is easy to do, but it may help you to think about “where” you experience the local weather hazards.  Again the idea is to begin to think about any preparations Spring weather may require.  In other words as you think about where you spend your time, think also about the actions you may need to take should Spring weather occur.  So, think about whether:

  • You are on the road often
    • Driving and road conditions
    • Flight delays
  • You spend much time outdoors
    • Children sport leagues
    • Picnics
    • Go to professional sporting events/games, outdoor concerts
    • Entertain in backyard or in campground or parks
  • You are at home
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Gardens
    • Have any dead or rotting trees
    • Loose roofing or shingling, shutters
    • Likeliness of rising water from prolonged rain
    • Loss of power

Once you have a better idea of what you may expect and then the types of actions you’d need to take, you’ll be ready when you are warned of coming weather from weather forecasts and advisories.  We will talk about those in the next post.

 

#severeweatherweek  #safety  #prepared

 

Looking Slightly Ahead

Hurricane Season for the Atlantic begins June 1 and runs through November 30.  June 1st is  just over 1 month from today.  That means it’s time to refresh yourself with preparation needs if you live near the coast and it’s a good reminder to look at your readiness state for emergencies of all types even if you live inland and well away from any coast.

It’s particularly important to consider getting a flood policy for your home today.  Most, if not all, flood insurance policies are not in effect for the first 30 days from the time you purchase a policy.  Well, we are at that time frame (slightly over 30 days before hurricane season starts) now.

Indeed, you don’t need to live near the coast to be at risk of flooding.  Flood of the home can come from prolonged heavy rains, rivers and streams overspilling their banks, or simply broken pipes or backups of plumbing or sewerage drains.  Evaluate your risk of flooding today, and get your policy now so it will be in effect when, or rather, if you unfortunately need it.

Able to Help or Looking for Help?

Still unsure if taking the time now to plan for some crisis is worth it for you?  Then let’s consider this from a different angle.  The question comes down to this one:  In a crisis, will you be the one “able to help” others or the situation, or will you be the one “looking for help” from others?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with receiving or needing help in such situations.  Even if it were possible for you to foresee every potential issue and could plan for it, there is only so much you can do ahead of time and with the resources at your disposal.  In fact, there is a saying, attributed to Carl Von Clausewitz,  that goes “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.”  The enemy here would be the crisis situation your plan faces.  So what is all this need for planning and readiness about?  Why do I keep bugging you about it?

Your planning allows you to:

  • Not panic.  In a sense you’ve faced the situation before in your planning and you’ve accounted for the basics necessary for you to survive for some amount of time.  You have bought yourself some time.
  • Respond more effectively.  Since you’re basic needs are known and addressed to some degree, you’re free to NOT have to deal with those issues along with everything else that the situation is presenting you.  You can respond from a stronger foundation.  You’ll be better able to recognize the issues that you hadn’t planned for that now need to be addressed.  There should be fewer issues to deal with in an already stressful time.
  • Better able to help.  While those that hadn’t planned or are direct victims of the situation are looking to get immediate help for their basic survival, you may be in a position to assist them.  Because you weren’t directly hit by the situation and/or had made some plans to meet your basic needs,  you could be better situated to provide the assistance or help them find the assistance others need.

Realize you can’t account for everything.  When some crisis is upon you, your readiness state is what it is when it hits.  You may have even done all your planning and yet the crisis directly impacted you to the point where you resources and ability to enact the plan are gone.  Still, I believe there is  peace in prior planning.  Survival odds are increased.  It is very similar to why people train.

In learning to fly I had to practice many emergency situations.  I had to practice the maneuvers required for each emergency situation.  For example, how do you respond if your engine shuts down in flight?  Also, how do you respond if your airplane stalls (no more air going over the wing and all its lift is gone) and your plane begins to lose altitude?  I hated practicing this stuff.  Honestly, it frightened me to think that I might one day be in such a situation.  Planning for such events even if they may not be that likely to occur is critical to survival.  I was very grateful for that planning and training when I inadvertently caused my airplane to go into a downward spin from only 3000 ft above the ground one bright sunny day.  While I was losing over 1800 ft of altitude, I was able to stay relatively calm as I began going through the steps that I’d been trained to do that would recover the aircraft and return it to normal straight and level flight.

Flight attendants brief passengers about the safety features and emergency response actions required of each passenger on every flight before takeoff.  Schools have drills for fire, tornado, and now intruders on school premises.  You could go on and on.  All of this is to allow you to NOT panic, respond more effectively, and be able to help others.

Children and spouses will look to you for answers to “what do we do now?”  Whether the “crisis” is a storm, a need to evacuate, a job or income loss, loss of power,  you no longer have the education or training businesses are needing, etc., make your plan.

 

Today, If The Power…

Here’s a handy readiness exercise.  Ask yourself:

Today, if the power was out to my home, what would I NOT be able to do?  Make a quick list.  Your list could look similar to this one:

  • I couldn’t cook because my stove is an electric range;
  • I’d need some lighting for the kids to do homework by tonight;
  • I won’t have the TV, but not only will we not be able to watch our normal shows, we won’t be able to watch the news to stay informed either;
  • I won’t be able to charge my cell phone in the house;
  • We won’t be able to use our computer; or maybe the laptop can be used but only until the battery runs down because we won’t be able to recharge it;
  • My kids don’t have keys to the house, as they typically come in through the garage door code (via an electric opener from the outside)  when they return from school.  Many/most are battery operated, but is yours?
  • I may not have any heat for the house;
  • and so on….

For each item on your list, come up with a plan or alternative source.  Some items on your list may not be that critical and you can decide now that that wouldn’t be an issue.

Additionally, you could add a column to your list that suggests the power outage could last greater than 48-72 hrs and another column for if the entire neighborhood is out of power.  How does that change your planning?  Maybe have full fuel tanks in your vehicles becomes important as well.    It’s good to look at these things ahead of time.

Keep the list along with your planning notes.  Shop for needed items now and refer to your plan when the time comes and rest.

Readiness is about being able to wait.

Cybersecurity

We all use computers these days.  Whether it’s through gaming systems, like Xbox, smartphones, laptops, desktops, iPads, etc, we connect to the internet and conduct our lives.  We connect socially through growing social media avenues.  We go to school, conduct business, banking, and research.   The people of the National Cyber Security Alliance found at StaySafeOnline.org have a quick phrase to remind us how to prepare ourselves for this cyber world,  Stop. Think. Connect.  Check out their website and resources including tips for the safety of our kids, for college students, for teachers, and businesses.

Home Safety

Here’s a great electronic home safety checklist you can run from the Home Safety Council.  I’ve included as a link in the sidebar as well.  It allows you to select the type of home you have, age of occupants, etc to tailor the checklist so the results are more fitting for you.  Great job.

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