Sunday, July 4, 2010

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


In disaster situations, plumbing may not be usable due to broken sewer or water lines, flooding, or freezing of the system. To avoid the spread of disease, it is critical that human waste be handled in a sanitary manner!

Did you know…
…one gram (0.035 oz) of human feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 parasite eggs!?

If toilet okay but lines are not…
If water or sewer lines are damaged but toilet is still intact, you should line the toilet bowl with a plastic bag to collect waste… but DO NOT flush the toilet!! After use, add a small amount of disinfectant to bag, remove and seal bag (with a twist tie if reusing), and place bag in a tightly covered container away from people to reduce smell.

If toilet is unusable…
If toilet is destroyed, a plastic bag in a bucket may be substituted. (Some companies make plastic buckets with a seat and/or snap-on lid.) You could also use the toilet seat from a commode and lay it on top of a bucket for a more comfortable experience. (Tip: separate lid from seat and set aside so you can lay seat on it when changing out bag.) After use, add a small amount of disinfectant to the bag, and seal or cover bucket.

Disinfectants - easy and effective for home use in Sanitation of Human Waste.

Chlorine Bleach - If water is available, a solution of 1 part liquid household bleach to 10 parts water is best. DO NOT use dry bleach since it can burn you, corrode or dissolve things so not safe for this kind of use.

Calcium hypochlorite - (e.g. HTH, etc.) Available in swimming pool supply or hardware stores and several large discount stores. It can be used in solution by mixing, then storing. Follow directions on the package.

Portable toilet chemicals - These come in both liquid and dry formulas and are available at recreational vehicle (RV) supply stores. Use according to package directions. These chemicals are designed especially for toilets that are not connected to sewer lines.

Powdered, chlorinated lime - Available at some building supply stores. It can be used dry and be sure to get chlorinated lime - not quick lime.

Some other alternatives are kitty litter, sawdust, etc. There are also several types of camping toilets and portable toilets that range from fairly low dollars to hundreds of dollars.

Make sure toilet is near the air-exhaust end of the shelter and keep it tightly covered when not in use. Cover with a plastic bag too to keep bugs out and help reduce smell a bit. And consider hanging a sheet or blanket in toilet area for some privacy, if possible.

Also (if possible) consider digging a waste-disposal pit about 3 feet downwind from shelter if hunkered down for weeks. (Note, if sheltering during a nuclear event, esp if fallout surrounding shelter, do NOT expose yourself to lethal radiation by digging holes to bury waste. Just pile bags several feet away from shelter and decontaminate yourself before reentering shelter.)

Puking will also be an issue. Nerves, anxiety, a change in diet, and the sight and smell of puke and poop may make others throw up. (And if a nuke event, radiation sickness can cause puking and diarrhea.) Plastic bags, placed throughout a shelter, are the best means to catch puke and keep it off the floor. Buckets, pots, or a newspaper folded into a cone also work.

Germs and diseases can create major problems and illness in confined quarters so try to reduce the spread of germs and infectious diseases

- Wash hands often using soap and water or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol in it) to reduce the spread of germs. But keep in mind sanitizers don’t work against some bugs so it’s best to wash up, if possible.
- Try to avoid exposure to others’ bodily fluids like blood, pee, poop, spittle, etc.
- Sick people should cover mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, wash hands often, and wear a face mask around others (if very ill).
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed.
- Clean counters, doorknobs, fixtures, linens, etc. often with a bleach solution.
- If possible, don’t share silverware, razors, towels, or bedding and wash objects with soap and hot water.

Some sanitation items for shelters…
- Disinfectant for human waste (see above)
- Bottles of household chlorine bleach (regular scent)
- Personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, toothpaste or baking soda, brush, comb, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, etc.)
- Plastic garbage bags with twist ties and small plastic grocery bags
- Plastic bucket with tight lid (several would be wise)
- Soap, liquid detergent, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol), moist towelettes or sanitizing wipes, hydrogen peroxide, etc.
- Toilet paper and baby wipes
- Paper towels, dish towels, rags, etc.
- Feminine supplies (tampons, pads, etc.)
- Diapers (infant, toddler and adult sizes if needed)
- Disposable gloves
- Wash cloths, hand and bath towels
- Small shovel

Some first aid items to consider for sanitation...
- Bentonite clay
- activated charcoal
- antacids
- anti-diarrhea meds
- laxatives
- diatomaceous earth
- MMS (for parasites, etc)
- a slew of vi-tees & herbs (esp immune stimulator types), etc
- hydrocortisone cream, he-mee ointment, diaper rash cream, etc

(Most of above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! book. Proceeds benefit APN.)

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spider Bites and Scorpion Stings

The black widow spider is identified by a red hourglass on its abdomen. Only the female bites, and it has a neurotoxic venom. The initial pain is not severe, but severe local pain rapidly develops. The pain gradually spreads over the entire body and settles in the abdomen and legs. Abdominal cramps and progressive nausea, vomiting, and a rash may occur. Weakness, tremors, sweating, and salivation may occur. Anaphylactic reactions can occur. Symptoms begin to regress after several hours and are usually gone in a few days. Threat for shock. Be ready to perform CPR. Clean and dress the bite area to reduce the risk of infection. An antivenin is available.

The funnelweb spider is a large brown or gray spider found in Australia. The symptoms and the treatment for its bite are as for the black widow spider.

The brown house spider or brown recluse spider is a small, light brown spider identified by a dark brown violin on its back. There is no pain, or so little pain, that usually a victim is not aware of the bite. Within a few hours a painful red area with a mottled cyanotic center appears. Necrosis does not occur in all bites, but usually in 3 to 4 days, a star-shaped, firm area of deep purple discoloration appears at the bite site. The area turns dark and mummified in a week or two. The margins separate and the scab falls off, leaving an open ulcer. Secondary infection and regional swollen lymph glands usually become visible at this stage. The outstanding characteristic of the brown recluse bite is an ulcer that does not heal but persists for weeks or months. In addition to the ulcer, there is often a systemic reaction that is serious and may lead to death. Reactions (fever, chills, joint pain, vomiting, and a generalized rash) occur chiefly in children or debilitated persons.

Tarantulas are large, hairy spiders found mainly in the tropics. Most do not inject venom, but some South American species do. They have large fangs. If bitten, pain and bleeding are certain, and infection is likely. Treat a tarantula bite as for any open wound, and try to prevent infection. If symptoms of poisoning appear, treat as for the bite of the black widow spider.

Scorpions are all poisonous to a greater or lesser degree. There are two different reactions, depending on the species:

• Severe local reaction only, with pain and swelling around the area of the sting. Possible prickly sensation around the mouth and a thick-feeling tongue.

• Severe systemic reaction, with little or no visible local reaction. Local pain may be present. Systemic reaction includes respiratory difficulties, thick-feeling tongue, body spasms, drooling, gastric distention, double vision, blindness, involuntary rapid movement of the eyeballs, involuntary urination and defecation, and heart failure. Death is rare, occurring mainly in children and adults with high blood pressure or illnesses.

Treat scorpion stings as you would a black widow bite.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Volcano

Did you know there are 169 active volcanoes in the U.S. … and 54 of them are a very high or high threat to public safety? Let’s discuss what a volcano is and why it can be dangerous to your health and belongings.

A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a reservoir of molten rock (like a huge pool of melted rocks) below the earth’s surface. Unlike mountains, which are pushed up from the earth’s crust, volcanoes are formed by their buildup of lava, ash flows, and airborne ash and dust. When pressure from gases and molten rock becomes strong enough to cause an explosion, it erupts and starts to spew gases and rocks through the opening.

Volcanic eruptions can hurl hot rocks (sometimes called tephra) for at least 20 miles (32 km) and cause sideways blasts, lava flows, hot ash flows, avalanches, landslides and mudflows (also called lahars). They can also cause earthquakes, thunderstorms, flash floods, wildfires, and tsunamis. Sometimes volcanic eruptions can drive people from their homes forever.

Fresh volcanic ash is not like soft ash in a fireplace. Volcanic ash is made of crushed or powdery rocks, crystals from different types of minerals, and glass fragments that are extremely small like dust. But it is hard, gritty, smelly, sometimes corrosive or acidic (means it can wear away or burn things) and does not dissolve in water.

The ash is hot near the volcano but is cool when it falls over great distances. Ashfall is very irritating to skin and eyes and the combination of ash and burning gas can cause lung irritation or damage to small infants, the elderly or people with breathing problems

Some tips to think about and do Before / During / After a Volcanic Eruption:

Prepare - Try to cover and protect machinery, electronic devices, downspouts, etc. from ashfall.

Learn alert levels - Ask emergency management office which volcano warnings or alert levels are used since they vary depending on where you live (can be alert levels, status levels, condition levels or color codes).

Make a plan - Develop a Family Emergency Plan and Disaster Supplies Kits / BOBs. (Note: Put in goggles or safety glasses and dust masks for each family member to protect eyes and lungs from ash.)

Be ready to evacuate - Listen to local authorities and leave if you are told to evacuate.

Watch out - Eruptions cause many other disasters:
  • flying rocks - hurled for miles at extremely fast speeds
  • mudflows, landslides or lahars - they move faster than you can walk or run
  • fires - hot rocks and hot lava will cause buildings and forests to burn
  • lava flows - burning liquid rock and nothing can stop it
  • gases and ash - try to stay upwind since winds will carry these -- they are very harmful to your lungs
  • vog - volcanic smog forms when sulfur dioxide and other pollutants react with oxygen, moisture and sunlight – can cause headaches, breathing difficulties and lung damage

IF INDOORS - Stay in, but be aware of ash, rocks, mudflows or lava!
Close all windows, doors, vents and dampers and turn off A/C and fans to keep ash fall out.
Put damp towels under doorways and drafty windows.
Bring pets inside (if time, move livestock into shelters).
Listen for creaking on your rooftop (in case ashfall gets heavy -- could cause it to collapse!)

IF OUTDOORS - Try to get indoors, if not…
Stay upwind so ash and gases are blown away from you.
Watch for falling rocks and, if you get caught in rockfall, roll into a ball to protect your head!
Get to higher ground - avoid low-lying areas since poisonous gases collect there and flash floods could happen.
Use dust-mask or damp cloth to help breathing, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and use goggles.
Ashfall can block out sunlight and may cause lightning.

IF IN A VEHICLE - Avoid driving unless absolutely required.
Slow down -- keep speed at 35 mph (56 km/h) or slower, mainly because of thick dust and low visibility.
Shut off engine and park in garage (driving stirs up ash that can clog motor and damage moving engine parts).
Look upstream before crossing a bridge in case a mudflow or landslide is coming.

Water - Check with authorities before using water, even if eruption was just ash fall (gases and ash can contaminate water reserves). Don’t wash ash into drainpipes, sewers or storm drains since wet ash can wear away metal.

What to wear - If you must be around ash fall, you should wear long sleeve shirts, pants, sturdy boots or shoes, gloves, goggles (or safety glasses) and keep your mouth and nose covered with a dust-mask or damp cloth.

Ash - Dampen ash before sweeping or shoveling buildup so it’s easier to remove and won’t fly back up in the air as much - but be careful since wet ash is slippery. Wear protective clothing and a dust mask too. Realize ash can disrupt lives of people and critters for months.

Protect - Cover machinery and electronic devices like computers.

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual (a majority of the proceeds benefit APN – learn more)

Additional Resources:

USGS Volcano Hazards Program

Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program

Volcanoes of the World map

Final thoughts: Consider including wind power (or hydro, etc) in your prepping plans since any type of major volcanic eruption could reduce sunlight for days, weeks or longer.

Courtesy of Bill and Janet Liebsch of Arizona Preppers Network

Thursday, April 22, 2010


What Is Anthrax?

Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. A bacterium is a very small organism made up of one cell. Many bacteria can cause disease. A spore is a cell that is dormant (asleep) but may come to life with the right conditions.

There are three types of anthrax:

  • skin (cutaneous)
  • lungs (inhalation)
  • digestive (gastrointestinal)

How Do You Get It?

Anthrax is not known to spread from one person to another.

Anthrax from animals. Humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products (like wool, for example). People also can become infected with gastrointestinal anthrax by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.

Anthrax as a weapon. Anthrax also can be used as a weapon. This happened in the United States in 2001. Anthrax was deliberately spread through the postal system by sending letters with powder containing anthrax. This caused 22 cases of anthrax infection.

How Dangerous Is Anthrax?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies agents with recognized bioterrorism potential into three priority areas (A, B and C). Anthrax is classified as a Category A agent. Category A agents are those that:

  • pose the greatest possible threat for a bad effect on public health
  • may spread across a large area or need public awareness
  • need a great deal of planning to protect the public’s health

In most cases, early treatment with antibiotics can cure cutaneous anthrax. Even if untreated, 80 percent of people who become infected with cutaneous anthrax do not die. Gastrointestinal anthrax is more serious because between one-fourth and more than half of cases lead to death. Inhalation anthrax is much more severe. In 2001, about half of the cases of inhalation anthrax ended in death.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms (warning signs) of anthrax are different depending on the type of the disease:

  • Cutaneous: The first symptom is a small sore that develops into a blister. The blister then develops into a skin ulcer with a black area in the center. The sore, blister and ulcer do not hurt.
  • Gastrointestinal: The first symptoms are nausea, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea, and fever, followed by bad stomach pain.
  • Inhalation: The first symptoms of inhalation anthrax are like cold or flu symptoms and can include a sore throat, mild fever and muscle aches. Later symptoms include cough, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, tiredness and muscle aches. (Caution: Do not assume that just because a person has cold or flu symptoms that they have inhalation anthrax.)

How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?

Symptoms can appear within 7 days of coming in contact with the bacterium for all three types of anthrax. For inhalation anthrax, symptoms can appear within a week or can take up to 42 days to appear.

How Is Anthrax Treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat all three types of anthrax. Early identification and treatment are important.

Prevention after exposure. Treatment is different for a person who is exposed to anthrax, but is not yet sick. Health-care providers will use antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, doxycycline, or penicillin) combined with the anthrax vaccine to prevent anthrax infection.

Treatment after infection. Treatment is usually a 60-day course of antibiotics. Success depends on the type of anthrax and how soon treatment begins.

Can Anthrax Be Prevented?

Vaccination. There is a vaccine to prevent anthrax, but it is not yet available for the general public. Anyone who may be exposed to anthrax, including certain members of the U.S. armed forces, laboratory workers, and workers who may enter or re-enter contaminated areas, may get the vaccine. Also, in the event of an attack using anthrax as a weapon, people exposed would get the vaccine.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Anthrax?

If you are showing symptoms of anthrax infection, call your health-care provider right away.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Been Exposed to Anthrax?

Contact local law enforcement immediately if you think that you may have been exposed to anthrax. This includes being exposed to a suspicious package or envelope that contains powder.

What Is CDC Doing To Prepare For a Possible Anthrax Attack?

CDC is working with state and local health authorities to prepare for an anthrax attack. Activities include:

  • Developing plans and procedures to respond to an attack using anthrax.
  • Training and equipping emergency response teams to help state and local governments control infection, gather samples, and perform tests. Educating health-care providers, media, and the general public about what to do in the event of an attack.
  • Working closely with health departments, veterinarians, and laboratories to watch for suspected cases of anthrax. Developing a national electronic database to track potential cases of anthrax.
  • Ensuring that there are enough safe laboratories for quickly testing of suspected anthrax cases.
  • Working with hospitals, laboratories, emergency response teams, and health-care providers to make sure they have the supplies they need in case of an attack.

The following is a form message for Federal, State and Local officials to send out in the event of an Anthrax Exposure or Terrorist attack, however it does offer good information, for prevention and preparedness.

Anthrax Exposure Extended Message
Health and Safety Information for the First Hours


1. What is happening?
2. What is anthrax?
3. What are the symptoms of anthrax?
4. Can it be spread from person to person?
5. What to do if you have the symptoms of anthrax
6. What to do if you were at or near the xxx area where anthrax might have been released
7. What to do if you were not near the xxx area where anthrax may have been released but are concerned about it anyway
8. How can you protect yourself?
9. What is being done and how to get more information

What is happening?
  • This is an urgent health message from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Please pay careful attention to this message to protect your health and that of others.
  • Public health officials believe that the spores that cause anthrax disease may have been deliberately released in the xxx area.
  • At this time, we do not know the extent or source of the anthrax release. Local, state, and federal officials, including HHS, FBI, and Homeland Security, are working together. Updated announcements will be made as soon as these officials know more.
  • Anthrax disease is not known to spread from person to person so people do not have to avoid contact with one another.
  • Based on what we know now, only those people who were in xxx area on xxx date are at risk for getting sick.
  • There are treatments for anthrax. Treatment should start as soon as possible after exposure to anthrax.
  • HHS is working to get treatments to the people who need them.
  • We have challenges ahead, and we are working to find out more about this outbreak. By staying informed and following instructions from health officials, you can protect yourself, your family, and the community against this public health threat.
  • For more information about anthrax, visit the HHS website at, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anthrax page at, or call the CDC Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-CDC-INFO end_of_the_skype_highlighting for the latest updates.
  • This message contains additional information that can help protect your health and the health of others.

What is anthrax?
  • Anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria that form spores. When a person comes into contact with those spores, they may become ill. The spores can infect your skin, lungs, or digestive system.
  • Some forms of anthrax bacteria exist in nature and can cause disease. It can also be spread on purpose as a powder or through the air. The spores that cause anthrax disease may have been deliberately released in the xxx area.
  • Antibiotics are used to treat all three types of anthrax in your skin, lungs, or digestive system. Early diagnosis and treatment with the right antibiotic is important.

What are the symptoms of anthrax?
  • After contact with the anthrax spores, symptoms of anthrax may appear within 7 days.
  • Depending on how a person comes into contact with the spores, three types of illness can occur.
  1. When a person breathes in the anthrax spores, this is called inhalational anthrax and is the most serious form of the disease. The first symptoms are like those of the flu; later symptoms may include severe breathing problems.
  2. When anthrax spores enter a cut on the skin, this is called cutaneous anthrax and it responds well to treatment. Symptoms include sores or blisters. Initially, these sores or blisters may look like an insect bite.
  3. When a person eats or drinks anthrax spores, this is called gastrointestinal anthrax. Symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

Can it be spread from person to person?
  • The anthrax illness does not spread from person to person.
  • People with suspected illness do not need to be quarantined or isolated.
  • Based on what we know now, only those people who were in xxx area on xxx date are at risk for getting anthrax.

What to do if you have symptoms of anthrax
  • If you have been near the xxx area and you think your symptoms might be due to exposure to anthrax, begin treatment as soon as possible.
  • Antibiotics can be used to treat all types of anthrax. However, the right antibiotic must be given quickly to help you recover.
  • Call your doctor or local public health department at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Describe your symptoms and explain that you think you might have been exposed to anthrax and also what symptoms you have.

What to do if you were at or near the xxx location where anthrax might have been released
  • If you have been near xxx location on xxx date, call your doctor or local public health department at xxx-xxx-xxxx for specific instructions on where you can go to see if you have been exposed to anthrax.
  • If contact with anthrax is suspected, antibiotics may help prevent you from getting sick or lessen the illness if it does appear. Treatment may include preventive care for a couple of months with antibiotics and may be combined with a vaccine to help prevent anthrax infection.
  • Health authorities will help determine if you need antibiotics or other medical care. Getting antibiotics or vaccine is not recommended if you have not been exposed to anthrax.

What to do if you were not near the xxx area where anthrax may have been released but are concerned about it anyway
  • It is natural to be concerned or afraid at a time like this. If you do not have any symptoms and were not near the xxx area on xxx date, you most likely have not had contact with anthrax and do not have anthrax disease.
  • By staying informed and following instructions from health officials, you can protect yourself, your family, and the community against this public health threat.
  • Stay informed by turning to the radio, television, or Internet news for updated health and safety announcements.
  • With your cooperation, we will have the best chance to protect the health and safety of our community.
  • Health authorities are working to help people who may have been exposed to anthrax, particularly those who have symptoms of anthrax.

How can you protect yourself?
  • If you see a strange package, envelope, or other container that you suspect may contain anthrax, do not open it. Leave the area and stop others from entering the area. Call 911 or the local police at xxx-xxx-xxxx for more instructions.
  • A vaccine exists to prevent anthrax, but it is not recommended for the general public since few people are normally at risk for anthrax. It may be given to people who have been exposed to anthrax in this current situation.
  • Stay informed. Listen for announcements from public health officials about what areas to avoid.

What is being done and how to get more information
  • Local, state and federal officials, including HHS, FBI, and Homeland Security, are working together. Updated announcements will be made as soon as these officials know more.
  • Public health officials will share information and give more instructions as the situation develops and they learn more.
  • Go to [insert local media information here] to hear the latest information from local officials.
  • For more information on anthrax, visit the HHS website at, visit the CDC’s anthrax page at, or call the CDC Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO for the latest updates.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Surviving The Collapse of Civilization

How to survive collapse of civilization.

Friday, April 16, 2010

River Crossings

From Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Glacial Rivers

River  Crossing Wild and silty rivers run from the park's glaciers to Alaska's coastlines. These rivers look different and act different than most rivers. Icy cold temperatures, fluctuating levels, changing channels, and heavy loads of silt and rock can challenge hikers, boaters, and anglers.

Wide Rocky Beds and Braids
Moving glacial ice scours chunks of bedrock and fine rock flour from the mountainsides. These chunks and bits of rock are mixed into glacier ice and then released in the meltwaters. Large rocks drop out of the stream flow immediately. Smaller ones roll away downstream where they lodge in the river's channels, filling them and eventually diverting the river to a new course. Glacial rivers are constantly shifting from one channel to another, forming many braids in a wide rocky bed. These uneven, shifting rocks can be difficult for a hiker to negotiate.

Silty Water
River  Crossing 2 Fine rock flour washes downstream with the glacier's meltwater. In Chugach the dominant rock is graywacke which colors the streams a muddy gray-brown. These opaque waters hide the river bottom, making crossing on foot uncertain and navigating a boat difficult.

High Water Happens When It's Hot
Most rivers drop during long hot summers. Glacial rivers rise! Glaciers melt more on hot, sunny days. Close to a glacier, river levels rise dramatically on sunny afternoons and drop during cool early morning hours. Rainstorms also increase glacial melt, as well as add their own runoff to a river. Occasionally, large rainstorms will swell glacial rivers and fill all channels from shore to shore. Evidence of these floods is seen in the piles of driftwood left high and dry on gravel islands.

Low Water Happens When It's Not
River  Crossing 3 When days shorten and temperatures drop, so do the rivers. Visitors will hardly recognize these rivers in the winter. Raging torrents become small shallow streams of clear sparkling water that is, until they freeze over!

To Cross or Not To Cross
Many trails and routes in Alaska will lead you to unbridged streams and rivers. Because the water can be cold, opaque and subject to quickly changing levels, a few tips can make your stream crossing safer and more comfortable.

Choose your site
At marked ford sites (like those on the Crow Pass Trail), cross directly between the posts on either side. It's the shallowest place. At unmarked sites, cross at the widest and most shallow place. Avoid cutbanks. Test the water depth with a walking stick or by throwing fist-sized stones ahead and listening to the splash.

River  Crossing 4 Choose your time
Glacial rivers swell under hot sun or heavy rains, and are usually lowest during early morning hours (6 a.m.). If a river looks or feels too full to cross, wait. It may drop significantly. Remember, you never have to cross. You can go back the way you came, or sit and wait for help.

Fuel your body
Adequate food and water will help your body create the necessary energy to fight hypothermia.

Loosen pack straps
Undo the waistbelt so you can drop it if you fall. Seal important items (sleeping bag, dry clothes) in plastic.

Dress Properly
The right clothing will keep you safe and a lot more comfortable. Always wear shoes or boots. Cold temperatures can cause numbness and missteps that lead to foot injuries, a disaster in the backcountry. Don't cross in bare legs. Wear quick drying wool or synthetics, never cotton. Save something warm and dry for the other side, just in case.

Use a good technique
If you are crossing alone, use a stick for extra stability and to explore the bottom. Face the opposite shore or face upstream and cross slowly, letting your feet feel their way. Don't look at the water. Keep your eyes on the far shore to prevent vertigo. Crossing as a group is safer. Stand along the shore in a line, side-by-side, facing the opposite shore. Put the largest and strongest people on the upstream end, and sandwich smaller or weaker people between others. Link arms, or link arms while sharing a stick like a handrail. Enter the water all at the same time, keeping your eyes on the far shore to prevent vertigo.

River  Crossing 1 If you fall
Ditch your gear and swim. Roll over on your back and point your feet downstream so you can fend off boulders. Keep your feet high and don't get them wedged on the bottom. Flipper with your arms toward shore. As soon as you reach shore, get warm and dry. Hypothermia can be a killer.

Kife attack to the back Don't panic! Learn how to take control of the situation and come out alive.

An Airplane Crash

Watch this video for a demonstration of "How to Survive an Airplane Crash". To complete the task, you will need:

An aisle seat, or one close to it
Long-sleeved pants and top, and flat closed-toe shoes
A smoke hood or a wet washcloth

Get started with the first step: Book a seat in the exit row or within five rows of it. People in those seats have the highest survival rates.

For the complete guide, go to

A School Shooting

Watch this video for a demonstration of "How To Survive a School or Office Shooting". To complete the task, you will need:

A cool head
Quick reflexes
A little luck

Get started with the first step: Run first; ask questions later. Dont miss your opportunity to escape by wasting time debating whether that noise was really a gunshot.

For the complete guide, go to


From Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Hypothermia, or cooling of the body's temperature, can happen any time of the year with fatal results. Most cases occur when temperatures are between 30 and 50 degrees F. Windy conditions and wet clothes can work together to chill the unaware, even on a summer day. Once chilled, the body begins to "shut down". The brain loses function, leading to poor judgment. Hypothermia victims often can't help themselves so it is important for each group member to be aware of prevention and treatment methods.

Water and  Ice Image To Prevent Hypothermia
Dress in layers. The outer layer should be wind and water resistant, and inner layers should be fabrics that are "warm when wet" (wool or synthetics, but not cotton). A hat may be your most important layer in preventing heat loss. Take layers off if you begin to sweat and put them back on when you cool down.
Stay well fueled. Snack on high carbohydrate foods and drink lots of water. Water helps your body turn calories into heat.
Watch for signs of hypothermia. If someone in your party gets cold, take a break to give them more clothes and food. Hypothermia symptoms include: intense shivering, fatigue, stumbling or poor coordination, slurred speech, and irrationality.

To Treat Hypothermia
Shelter the victim from the wind and weather. Remove any wet clothing and place victim in dry clothes or a sleeping bag. If necessary, put another warm person in the sleeping bag with them. If the victim is alert, give them warm liquids and food. In the case of advanced hypothermia, handle very gently and get medical help immediately. Rough handling can cause a heart attack.

An Avalanche

From Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Prevention is the key to avalanche safety. To minimize the risks, know the dangers and warning signs before you travel in the backcountry. Remain constantly aware of changes in the weather and temperature, especially if you are traveling the backcountry for many hours.

Several factors may affect the likelihood of an avalanche, including weather, temperature, slope steepness, slope orientation (whether the slope is facing north or south), wind direction, terrain, vegetation, and general snow pack conditions. Different combinations of these factors can create low, moderate or extreme avalanche conditions.

Avalanches occur when a snow load is so great it can no longer "stick" to a sloped mountain side. The danger is greatest just after a new storm has dropped a fresh load of snow, or high winds have overloaded slopes.

Anything steeper than 25 degrees can avalanche but most avalanches occur on slopes between 30 and 45 degrees. Be wary of steep, smooth, leeward slopes. Choose slopes on the windward side.

The snow itself can be tested on site to see how likely it is to slide. A type of snow called depth hoar (a course, grainy form of snow crystal) similar to dry sand, bonds poorly and creates a very weak layer in the snow pack. Unfortunately, the weather conditions necessary to produce depth hoar most often occur very early in the season, and these weak layers are buried under subsequent snows. Other danger signs include seeing fresh avalanche tracks in the area or hearing "whoomping" noises as you travel across the snow.

Pay attention to the terrain. Bowls and gullies increase the possibility of an avalanche. Heavily forested areas are safer than open spaces.

Before you go into the winter backcountry, take a class and learn to detect and avoid avalanche danger. The internet, library and sporting good stores offer many resources on Avalanche Safety.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snake Bite

How To Survive a Snake Bite


According to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health, about 8,000 people in the U.S. are treated for poisonous snake bites each year. Poisonous snakes have triangular heads, split-like pupils, and two long fangs which make puncture wounds at end of each row of teeth. Non-poisonous snake bites leave two rows of teeth marks but no puncture wounds, but don't use bite mark to determine type since swelling may hide wounds.

Things to watch for...

Puncture and/or bite marks
Pain and Swelling
Nausea and puking
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Possible Allergic reaction - Weakness or dizziness; redness or discoloration at bite; trouble breathing; signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)

What to do...
  • If possible, try to identify type of color of snake but don't put yourself in danger!
  • Wash bite wound with soap and water.
  • Keep bitten body part below heart level, if possible.
  • Call emergency number or animal control, if necessary.

If bite is from a Poisonous snake, also do this...
  • Remove constrictive items (like rings or watches) since swelling may occur.
  • DO NOT apply tourniquet or ice.
  • Monitor breathing and make sure airway is open.
  • Keep victim still to slow down circulation of venom.
  • DO NOT let victim eat or drink anything or take medication since it could interfere with emergency treatment.
  • If possible and safe, remove venom - esp. if help is hours away (Most snakebite kits have proper venom extractors in them.)
  • DO NOT use "cut and suck" method!
  • Get to a doctor or hospital to receive antivenin.

The worst effects may not be felt for hours after a bite from most poisonous North American snakes, but it is best if antivenin is given as quickly as possible (or at least within 12-24 hours of the bite)


Desert Survival Supplies

First Aid Kit: Mayday Outdoorsman First Aid Survival Kit
Snake Bites: The Sawyer Extractor
Water Filter: Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter
Emergency Compass: Mirrored Sighting Floating Compass
Emergency Blanket: Emergency Thermal Blankets (4 Pack)
Water Tablets:Polar Pure Water Disinfectant
Electrolyte Replacement: Ceralyte 70 Oral Rehydration Mix 50GM

How To Survive In the Desert

Desert Safety

To ensure a safe trip to the desert, follow these simple but necessary guidelines.

Drink Like a Fish

  • Carry plenty of water, even if you are only going for a drive.
  • Drink even when you do not feel thirsty.
  • When hiking, carry a gallon of water for each day plus extra in case of an emergency.
  • Store extra water in your car.
  • Carry water even if you are only planning to explore a short distance from your car.

Dress for Success

  • Wear a hat with a brim and light-colored, lightweight clothes.
  • Pack warm, wind-proof clothes in case the wind picks up or the weather cools.
  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen, lots of sunscreen.

Carry a Flare & a Spare

  • Ensure that your car is in good working order - service stations are few and far between.
  • Carry a spare, a jack, and some flares.
  • Carry boards to place under tires in case you hit a sandy trap (see below).

If You Hit a Sandy Trap...

  • Shift down and keep moving.
  • If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels; it will only dig you in deeper.
  • Try going in reverse.
  • If going in reverse does not work, place boards or carpet scraps under your tires.
  • If you cannot get out, stay with your car.
  • Do not leave your car unless you are certain that help is close by.

Know Where You're Going

  • When hiking, always carry a topographic map and compass.
  • Take a compass reading before beginning your walk, and look for landmarks to guide you back.
  • Let someone know where you will be and when you will return.
  • Pay attention when traveling back roads; they often branch and divide.

Mind the Spines

  • Stay away from spiny cactus, agave, and other plants.
  • To prevent stings and bites, be careful where you place your hands, feet, and your seat!
  • Check our Animals page for more info.

Don't Bomb Out

  • Unexploded grenades and land mines (left over from desert training during World War II) still turn up, especially after heavy rain.
  • If you see anything suspicious, stay clear; they can still explode after all these years.
  • Abandoned mines may have hidden shafts, and old buildings in ghost towns may collapse; be careful.

Don't Wash Away

  • Avoid flash floods by keeping out of narrow canyons and washes when there is a chance of rain.
  • You cannot outrun a flash flood.
  • Get to higher ground and climb to safety!
  • Watch for rapidly rising water.
  • Stay away from - and keep children from - drainage ditches and storm drains.
  • Do not walk into or near high water.
  • Do not camp along streams and washes.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canyons and washes.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing streams where water is above your ankles.
  • NEVER drive into water covering the road.
  • You do not know how deep it is or if the road is washed out.
  • Turn around and go the other way!
  • Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it's harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

And Avoid Toxic Wastes

  • Hikers and campers can be exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals as a result of historic mining, illegal dumping, wire burning, or the production of illicit drugs.
  • Suspicious sites (evidence of strange odors, piles of drums or containers, large burned areas) should be reported immediately.

Gas, Food, & Lodging

Gas, food, and lodging increase in importance the further you travel into the desert. You'd be downright uncomfortable without them and they're not easy to find out there. The desert rats know how to plan ahead so they're never caught short.

Gas: when the sign says "Next gas 50 miles," you better know you've got enough to make it before you pass the pumps!

Food & Lodging: It is a good idea to carry food and an absolute must to carry water when you venture into the desert. Motel rooms can be few and far between. Check ahead to the towns you will be visiting. Some have a special character or colorful story all their own. Or, be adventurous and plan on camping out. There are many camping opportunities available from full hook-ups for your motor home to primitive walk-in tent sites.

Desert Myths

Popular images of the desert include bleached bones lying by alkali pools or dried remains of some grizzled prospector streched out on parched sands. There are a thousand tales of danger, death, and dying in these wild lands. Heres the lowdown on seperating the myths from the real dangers.

Venomous animals
Lots of folks get the willies thinking about scorpions, tarantulas, black widows, or rattlesnakes. While it is true these creatures make their living in the desert, it is not true that they are just waiting to bite you. Poisonous animals use their venom to stun the creatures they plan to eat; the last thing they want is to waste it on inedible humans!

Even then, most bites and stings, while painful, are not fatal. Most bites happen when people place their hands or feet into crevices or when they disturb or threaten the animal. Always remember to look first before placing your hands into crevices or onto rocks. And, if the worst should happen, be safe rather than sorry and head for medical attention right away.

Heat and sunshine
The tale about Matt Riley heading out on the 4th of July with a small canteen of water (some versions say whiskey) to walk 20 miles to a party and never getting there is true. Matt planned to stop at a spring for more water but he wasn't certain where the spring was located. His tracks circled the spring, but he never found it.

This story provides a good lesson. It's true, the heat of the desert can turn you into beef jerky. Don't be fool hardy, plan your trip carefully, carry lots of water, bring good maps of the area, and know your limits.

A Bear Attack

Bear Pepper Spray: Bear Defense Spray

How To Survive A Black Bear Attack
From: U.S. Forest Service

Bears have a natural fear of humans. This fear helps them survive up to 15 years in the wild.

Our national forests are a refuge for wild animals, including dangerous animals like bears, alligators and poisonous snakes. Wild animals can be upset by human presence and can unexpectedly become aggressive. Do not give them a reason or an opportunity to attack. Always keep your distance. Your safety is your responsibility.

Avoid Attracting Bears

Backcountry Travel

Special Considerations for Bear Country. When traveling in bear country the disposal of garbage takes on a new significance.

The primary concern here is safety, both for the visitor and for the bear.

  • Personal safety is the first priority; a bear can be a very dangerous animal if provoked or habituated to humans. Habituated means the bear is comfortable or used to be being around humans.
  1. Safety of the bear is also a concern. Once a bear is habituated to people, usually because it associates people with food, it can rapidly become a problem bear and will have to be dealt with actively, sometimes at the expense of its life.
  2. Though black bears present less of a threat to the personal safety of backcountry visitors than grizzly bears, the potential for personal injury does exist and preparations should be taken.
  • Hang food and strong smelling items at least 10 feet off the ground between trees and 4 feet away from the trunks of the trees.
  • Messy kitchens and food odors can attract bears.
  1. Kitchens should be placed at least 100 feet from tent sites and, if possible, near streams or rivers. A conscientious low-impact camper always keeps a clean camp whether there are bears in the area or not.
  • If you suspect bears are in the area, all food, items with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc) and trash food must be kept at least 100 feet from tent and kitchen sites and hung at least 10 feet off the ground between trees and 4 feet away from the trunks of the tree or limbs. (Or use special food storage boxes and cable systems if available.)
  1. Even with this preparation, black bears, who are adept at climbing, may still reach your food.
  2. Bear resistant canisters can also be carried. These canisters are made from a strong ABS polymer with smooth sides and rounded edges so bears have nothing to grip onto. Stainless-steel locks are easy for humans to open with a coin or screwdriver.
  3. Food brought to your tent invites danger to your sleeping area and;
  4. Food left in your pack may result in a destroyed pack as the bear searches for the source of food odors.
  5. Do not cook or store food in or near your tent (food odors on tent or gear may attract a bear.)
  6. If a bear approaches, frighten it by yelling, banging pans together, or throwing rocks.
  7. Do respect bears and admire them from a distance.
  8. Pack out trash -- don't bury it.

At Campgrounds and Picnic Areas

  • Keep a clean site by properly disposing of:
  1. All garbage, including fruit rinds and cores.
  2. Aluminum foil (even from grills) that has been used to cook or store food.
  3. Plastic wrap and bags that have stored food.
  4. Cans and jars that are empty.
  5. Pick up food scraps around your site.
  6. Never leave food or coolers unattended (unless inside a vehicle or hard-sided camper).
  7. Wipe down table tops before vacating your site.
  8. If a bear approaches your site, pack up your food and trash. If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or even throwing rocks and sticks at it. If the bear is persistent, move away slowly to your vehicle or another secure area.
Any Time You See A Bear

  • Do not feed or toss food to a bear or any wild animal.
  • Keep children close at hand.
  • Keep pets indoors or in a vehicle or camper.
  • Do not approach a bear--they may be dangerous. If it changes its natural behavior (feeding, foraging, or movement) because of your presence, you are too close.
  • Never surround or corner a bear.
  • Never run from a bear -- back slowly away and make lots of noise.
  • Encourage others to follow these instructions.
  • In the extreme case that you are attacked by a black bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate.
Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

  • Read all signs at the trailhead.
  • Hike in a group, keep children close at hand.
  • Make your presence known (call out).
  • Hike during daylight hours and stay on the trail.
  • Avoid taking pets, they may attract bears to you.
  • Watch for bear signs: scat, claw marks, diggings, logs or stumps torn apart, etc.

Cabins and Residential Areas

  • Never leave unattended food or garbage outside.
  • Do not feed birds between April and November.
  • Do not leave pet food outside (especially overnight).
  • Bear-proof bee hives, compost piles, and gardens with electric or chain-link fence.
  • Do not leave food as bait for any animals or leave food scraps on the ground.
  • If a bear approaches, move your family and any food indoors immediately.

Bear Facts

Bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat animals and plants. Their natural diet is mainly vegetarian and includes leaves, berries, nuts, grasses, roots, insects, fish, carrion and occasionally mammals such as deer. Bears have insatiable appetites and require large quantities of food.

  • Black bears have a flat, "Roman-nosed" profile and no pronounced shoulder hump.
  • Bears generally avoid humans. However, a hungry bear will enter a backyard or campground if lured by the smells from food or trash. Bears are natural scavengers. They will remember an easy source of food and will keep returning if food is available.
  • Bears' sense of smell and hearing are far superior to humans and their eyesight is at least as good.
  • Bears are fast. A bear can run 60 percent faster than the world's fastest sprinter.
  • Bears are strong. They have been known to pry open car doors and windshields in search of food.
Bear Encounters

Although black bears rarely attack, they are powerful animals and are capable of injuring or killing humans. These steps may be helpful if you encounter a bear.

  • If you see a bear in the distance, make a wide detour or leave the area.
  • Do not feed or toss food to a bear, or any other wild animal.
  • Pick up children or put them on your shoulders.
  • Never approach bears - they are dangerous wild animals. If a bear changes its natural behavior because of your presence, you are too close.
  • Give a bear plenty of room to pass, and it usually will.

If a bear approaches you:

  • Don't run.
  • Drop your backpack and then,
  • Back away slowly.
  • Face the bear, but don't look directly into its eyes.
  • Keep it in sight.
  • Make yourself look bigger by waving your arms and yelling.
  • Make lots of noise and stomp your feet.

Remember, you can't outrun a black bear. They are extremely fast on the ground or climbing a tree. Warning signs of an attack include: a steady glare; ears laid back; smacking of the jaws and stomping of the front feet.

If the bear attacks, fight back with anything available. Act aggressively. Throwing rocks or hitting a bear with large sticks has been effective some cases.

Respect Wildlife
Learn about wildlife through quiet observation.

  • Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a "better look". Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Large groups often cause more damage to the environment and can disturb wildlife so keep your group small. If you have a larger group, divide into smaller groups if possible to minimize your impacts.
  • Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee. (One exception is in bear country where it is good to make a little noise so as not to startle the bears) In hot or cold weather, disturbance can affect an animals ability to withstand the rigorous environment.
  • Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch and send you to the hospital. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animals parents to abandon them. If you find sick animals or animal in trouble, notify a game warden.
  • Considerate campers observe wildlife from afar, give animals a wide berth, store food securely, and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals. Remember that you are a visitor to their home.
  • Allow animals free access to water sources by giving them the buffer space they need to feel secure. Ideally, camps should be located 200 feet or more from existing water sources. This will minimize disturbance to wildlife and ensure that animals have access to their precious drinking water. By avoiding water holes at night, you will be less likely to frighten animals because desert dwellers are usually most active after dark. With limited water in arid lands, desert travelers must strive to reduce their impact on the animals struggling for survival.
  • Washing and human waste disposal must be done carefully so the environment is not polluted, and animals and aquatic life are not injured. Swimming in likes or streams is OK in most instances but in desert areas, leave scarce water holes undisturbed and unpolluted so animals may drink from them.
  • Pack It In, Pack It Out.This common saying is a simple yet effective way to get backcountry visitors to take their trash home with them. There is no reason why people cannot carry out of the backcountry the extra food and packing materials which they carried in with them in the first place. Though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. Trash and litter are primarily social impacts which can greatly detract from the naturalness of an area.
  • Reduce litter at the source. Much backcountry trash and litter originates from food items. Perhaps the easiest way to practice the principle of Pack it In, Pack it Out is to plan ahead and prepare. It is possible to leave most potential trash at home if you take the time to properly prepare food supplies. Reduce the volume of trash you have to pack out and save weight by repackaging solid food into plastic bags and liquids into reusable containers.
  • Another good idea is to keep your menu simple: For short trips, consider not taking a stove and taking only food that requires no cooking. This significantly reduces backpack weight and excess food packaging taken into the backcountry.
  • Your first preference for dealing with trash should be to pack it out. Much trash is non able and not all outdoor settings are acceptable for building fires. Areas are often closed to fires due to high fire hazards or excessive campsite damage. Some areas, such as desert settings, are impractical for fires due to the scarcity of firewood.
  • Under no circumstance should food scraps be buried! Discarded or buried food scraps becomes attractive to small animal life which live in the area. It is common to see chipmunks, ground squirrels, and various species of birds gathering around camp kitchens. These camp robbers have become habituated to campers as a food source. Human food is not natural to wild animals and their natural feeding cycles and habits have become disturbed. A contentious no-trace camper always keeps a clean camp.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Hurricane

Current Storm Watch

How To Survive A Hurricane

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Consider building a safe room.
"How To" guides for protecting your property from flooding & high winds.

Evacuation Plans

When community evacuations become necessary, local officials provide information to the public through the media. In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens or telephone calls, also are used. Additionally, there may be circumstances under which you and your family feel threatened or endangered and you need to leave your home, school, or workplace to avoid these situations.

The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If the event is a weather condition, such as a hurricane that can be monitored, you might have a day or two to get ready. However, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.

Evacuation: More Common than You Realize

Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Hundreds of times each year, transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes. Fires and floods cause evacuations even more frequently. Almost every year, people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts evacuate in the face of approaching hurricanes.

Ask local authorities about emergency evacuation routes and see if maps may are available with evacuation routes marked.

Evacuation Guidelines

Always: If time permits:
Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay. Gather your disaster supplies kit.
Make transportation arrangements with friends or your local government if you do
not own a car.
Wear sturdy shoes and clothing
that provides some protection,
such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a cap.
Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions. Secure your home:

Close and lock doors and windows.

Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
Gather your family and go if you are in- structed to evacuate immediately. Let others know where you are going.
Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
Be alert for washed-out roads and bridges. Do not drive into flooded areas.
Stay away from downed power lines.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.· Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

Hurricane Hazards

Hurricane Winds

The intensity of a landfalling hurricane is expressed in terms of categories that relate wind speeds and potential damage. According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a Category 1 hurricane has lighter winds compared to storms in higher categories. A Category 4 hurricane would have winds between 131 and 155 mph and, on the average, would usually be expected to cause 100 times the damage of the Category 1 storm. Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance.

Tropical storm-force winds are dangerous to those caught in them. For this reason, emergency managers plan on having their evacuations complete and their personnel sheltered before the onset of tropical storm winds, not hurricane-force winds.

Hurricane-force winds can easily destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Debris such as signs, roofing material, and small items left outside become flying missiles in hurricanes. Extensive damage to trees, towers, water and underground utility lines (from uprooted trees), and fallen poles cause considerable disruption.

High-rise buildings are also vulnerable to hurricane-force winds, particularly at the higher levels since wind speed tends to increase with height. Recent research suggests you should stay below the tenth floor, but still above any floors at risk for flooding. It is not uncommon for high-rise buildings to suffer a great deal of damage due to windows being blown out. Consequently, the areas around these buildings can be very dangerous.

The strongest winds usually occur in the right side of the eyewall of the hurricane. Wind speed usually decreases significantly within 12 hours after landfall. Nonetheless, winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland. Hurricane Hugo (1989), for example, battered Charlotte, North Carolina (which is 175 miles inland) with wind gusts to nearly 100 mph.

Additional Resources: Rainfall And Flooding

Inland Flooding Safety Actions

Learn your vulnerability to flooding by determining the elevation of your property.

Evaluate your insurance coverage; as construction grows around areas, floodplains change. If you are in a flood area, consider what mitigation measure you can do in advance. More from the National Flood Insurance Program.

In highly flood-prone areas, keep materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves. Call your local emergency management agency to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.

Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood, so you or your evacuation routes are not cut off.
Avoid driving into water of unknown depth. Moving water can quickly sweep your vehicle away.

Restrict children from playing in flooded areas.

Test drinking water for potability; wells should be pumped out and the water tested before drinking.

Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Wash canned goods that come in contact with floodwaters with soap and hot water.

Hurricanes are capable of producing copious amounts of rainfall. During landfall, a rainfall amounts of 10 to 15 inches or more is common. If the storm is large and moving slowly, less than 10 mph, the rainfall amounts from a well-organized storm are likely to be even more excessive. This heavy rain usually occurs slightly to the right of the hurricane's track. The amount of rain depends on the size, forward speed and whether the hurricane interacts with other weather systems.

To get a generic estimate of the rainfall amount (in inches) that can be expected, divide 100 by the storm's forward motion, for example, 100/5 mph = 20 inches of rain. For specific rainfall forecasts please monitor local forecasts from the National Weather Service. Rainfall and Flooding fact: Tropical Storm Claudette (1979) brought 45 inches of rain to an area near Alvin, Texas, contributing to more than $600 million in damage.

Inland Flooding From Hurricanes

The next time you hear hurricane -- think inland flooding!

While storm surge has the highest potential to cause hurricane related deaths, more people died from inland flooding associated with tropical systems from 1970 to 1999. Since the 1970's, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half of all deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States. Flooding from hurricanes can occur hundreds of miles from the coast placing communities, which would not normally be affected by the strongest hurricane winds, in great danger.

Facts About Inland Flooding From Hurricanes

From 1970 to 1999, 78% of children killed by tropical cyclones drowned in freshwater floods.

One cubic yard of water weighs 1700lbs. The average automobile weighs 3400lbs. Many automobiles will float in just 2 feet of water.

The average person can be swept off their feet in 6 inches of moving water.

The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water.

At least 23% of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths occur to people who drown in, or attempting to abandon, their cars.

Rainfall is typically heavier with slower moving storms.

Some of the greatest rainfall amounts associated with tropical systems occurs from weaker Tropical Storms that have a slow forward speed (1 to 10mph) or stall over an area. Due to the amount of rainfall a Tropical Storm can produce, they are capable of causing as much damage as a category 2 hurricane

Links to Helpful Information
Links to River and Rainfall Forecasts

Storm Surge

The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge!

Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level to heights impacting roads, homes and other critical infrastructure. In addition, wind driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides. Because much of the United States' densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level, the danger from storm tides is tremendous.

The storm surge combined with wave action can cause extensive damage, severely erode beaches and coastal highways. With major storm like Katrina, Camille, and Hugo, complete devastation of coastal communities occurred. Many buildings withstand hurricane force winds until their foundations, undermined by erosion, are weakened and fail.

Additional Resources

Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere embedded in the rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane.

Some hurricanes seem to produce no tornadoes, while others develop multiple ones. Studies have shown that more than half of the landfalling hurricanes produce at least one tornado; Hurricane Buelah (1967) spawned 141 according to one study. In general, tornadoes associated with hurricanes are less intense than those that occur in the Great Plains (see the Fujita Intensity Scale below). Nonetheless, the effects of tornadoes, added to the larger area of hurricane-force winds, can produce substantial damage.

The National Weather Service does not have an accurate way to predict exactly which storms will spawn tornadoes or where they will touch down. The new Doppler radar systems have greatly improved the forecaster's warning capability, but the technology usually provides lead times from only a few minutes up to about 30 minutes. Consequently, preparedness is critical.

Additional Tornado Resources:
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