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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A Tsunami

Always heed the advice of local officials over these suggestions / tips.

A tsunami [soo-nah´-mee] is a series of huge, destructive waves caused by an undersea disturbance from an earthquake, volcano, landslide, or even a meteorite. As the waves approach the shallow coastal waters, they appear normal and the speed decreases. Then, as the tsunami nears the coastline, it turns into a gigantic, forceful wall of water that smashes into the shore with speeds exceeding 600 miles per hour (965 km/h)! Usually tsunamis are about 20 feet (6 m) high, but extreme ones can get as high as 100 feet (30 m) or more!

A tsunami is a series of waves and the first wave may not be the largest one, plus the danger can last for many hours after the first wave hits. During the past 100 years, more than 200 tsunamis have been recorded in the Pacific Ocean due to earthquakes and Japan has suffered a majority of them.

The Pacific Ocean tsunami warning system was put in place back in 1949. As of June 2006, the Indian Ocean has a tsunami warning system, and NOAA expanded the Pacific system to include the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and areas of the Atlantic around the U.S. coast as of mid-2007.

Did you know…

… a tsunami is not a tidal wave - it has nothing to do with the tide?!

… another name used to describe a tsunami is “harbor wave” - “tsu” means harbor and “nami” means wave in Japanese?!

… sometimes the ocean floor is exposed near the shore since a tsunami can cause the water to recede or move back before slamming in to shore?!

… tsunamis can travel up streams and rivers that lead to the ocean?!



Learn the buzzwords - Learn words used by both the West Coast / Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC - for AK, BC, CA, OR, and WA) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC - for international authorities, HI and all U.S. territories within Pacific basin) for tsunami threats...

  • Advisory - an earthquake has occurred in the Pacific basin\which might generate a tsunami
  • Watch - a tsunami was or may have been generated, but is at least 2 hours travel time from Watch area
  • Warning - a tsunami was / may have been generated and could cause damage to Warning area - should evacuate
Learn risks - If new to area, call local emergency management office and ask what the warning signals are and what to do when you hear them. Coastal areas less than 25 feet above sea level and within a mile of shoreline along coasts are at greatest risk. Or visit

Make a plan - Review Section 1 to develop a Family Emergency Plan and Disaster Supplies Kit.

Listen - Make sure you have a battery-operated radio (with spare batteries) for weather forecasts and updates. (Radios like Environment Canada’s Weatheradio and NOAA’s Weather Radio have a tone-alert feature that automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning has been issued.)

Water signs - If near water or shore, watch for a noticeable rise or fall in the normal depth of coastal water - that’s advance warning of a tsunami so get to high ground. Also - if water pulls away from shoreline and exposes sea floor - run to higher ground ASAP!!

Feeling shaky...? - If you feel an earthquake in the Pacific Coast area (from Alaska down to Baja), listen to the radio for tsunami warnings.

Is that it...? - Don’t be fooled by the size of one wave - more will follow and they could get bigger … and a small tsunami at one beach can be a giant wave a few miles away!

Be ready to evacuate - Listen to local authorities and leave if you are told to evacuate. (see EVACUATION)


Leave - If you are told to evacuate, DO IT! Remember - a tsunami is a series of waves - the first one may be small but who knows what the rest will bring. Grab your Disaster Supplies Kit and GO!

IF ON OR NEAR SHORE - Get off the shore and get to higher ground quickly! Stay away from rivers and streams that lead to the ocean since tsunamis can travel up them too. You cannot outrun a tsunami ... if you see the wave it’s too late!

IF ON A BOAT - It depends where you are -- either get to land or go further out to sea ...
  • In port - May not have time to get out of port or harbor and out to sea - check with authorities to see what you should do. Smaller boats may want to dock and get passengers and crew to land quickly.
  • In open ocean - DO NOT return to port if a tsunami warning has been issued since wave action is barely noticeable in the open ocean! Stay out in open sea or ocean until authorities advise danger has passed.
Don’t go there - Do NOT try to go down to the shoreline to watch and don’t be fooled by size of one wave - more will follow and they could get bigger so continue listening to radio and TV.


Listen - Whether on land or at sea, local authorities will advise when it is safe to return to the area -- keep listening to radio and TV updates.

Watch out - Look for downed power lines, flooded areas and other damage caused by the waves.

Don’t go in there - Try to stay out of buildings or homes that are damaged until it is safe to enter and wear sturdy work boots and gloves when working in the rubble.

Strange critters – Be aware that the waves may bring in many critters from the ocean (marine life) so watch out for pinchers and stingers!

RED or GREEN sign in window – After a disaster, Volunteers and Emergency Service personnel may go door-to-door to check on people. By placing a sign in your window that faces the street near the door, you can let them know if you need them to STOP HERE or MOVE ON.

Either use a piece of RED or GREEN construction paper or draw a big RED or GREEN “X” (using a crayon or marker) on a piece of paper and tape it in the window.
  • RED means STOP HERE!
  • Nothing in the window would also mean STOP HERE!

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Extreme Heat

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."

How can I protect myself from extreme heat?

Extreme Heat: Know the Terms

Heat Wave
Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

Heat Index
A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

Heat Cramps
Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion
Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke
A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Sun Stroke
Another term for heat stroke.

Before Extreme Heat

To prepare for extreme heat, you should:

  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.

During a Heat Emergency

What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

Additional Information

An emergency water shortage can be caused by prolonged drought, poor water supply management, or contamination of a surface water supply source or aquifer.

Drought can affect vast territorial regions and large population numbers. Drought also creates environmental conditions that increase the risk of other hazards such as fire, flash flood, and possible landslides and debris flow.

Conserving water means more water available for critical needs for everyone. Appendix A contains detailed suggestions for conserving water both indoors and outdoors. Make these practices a part of your daily life and help preserve this essential resource.

First Aid for Heat-Induced Illnesses

Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. The following table lists these illnesses, their symptoms, and the first aid treatment.

Condition Symptoms First Aid
Sunburn Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.

Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
Heat Cramps Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating Get the victim to a cooler location.

Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.

Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)

Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
Heat Exhaustion Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible. Get victim to lie down in a cool place.

Loosen or remove clothing.

Apply cool, wet clothes.

Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.

Give sips of water if victim is conscious.

Be sure water is consumed slowly.

Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.

Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke
( a severe medical emergency)
High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness. Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.

Move victim to a cooler environment.

Removing clothing

Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.

Watch for breathing problems.

Use extreme caution.

Use fans and air conditioners.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Blizzard

Storm Map

How To Survive Blizzards and Other Winter Storms:


Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snowstorm or extreme cold. Winter storms can result in flooding, storm surge, closed highways, blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.

How can I protect myself from winter storms and extreme cold?

Know Your Winter Storm and Extreme Cold Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:

Freezing Rain
Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.

Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

Winter Storm Watch
A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.

Winter Storm Warning
A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.

Blizzard Warning
Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

Frost/Freeze Warning
Below freezing temperatures are expected.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Prepare your home and family

  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Prepare your car

  • Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
  1. Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  2. Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  3. Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
  4. Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes andrepair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  5. Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
  6. Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
  7. Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
  8. Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  9. Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
  10. Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
  1. a shovel
  2. windshield scraper and small broom
  3. flashlight
  4. battery powered radioextra batteries
  5. water
  6. snack food
  7. matches
  8. extra hats, socks and mittens
  9. First aid kit with pocket knife
  10. Necessary medications
  11. blanket(s)
  12. tow chain or rope
  13. road salt and sand
  14. booster cables
  15. emergency flares
  16. fluorescent distress flag

Dress for the Weather

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

During a Winter Storm


  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

If you are outdoors

  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected:
  1. get the victim to a warm location
  2. remove wet clothing
  3. put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket
  4. warm the center of the body first
  5. give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious
  6. get medical help as soon as possible.

If you are driving

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
  1. Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
  2. Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.

  • If a blizzard traps you in the car:
  1. Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  2. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
  3. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  4. Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  5. Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  6. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  7. Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat, and radio - with supply.
  8. Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
  9. If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
  10. Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.

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A Flood

How To Survive A Flood


Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry stream beds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.

What is the flood risk where I live?

Flood: Know Your Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:

Flood Watch:
Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flash Flood Watch:
Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flood Warning:
Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flash Flood Warning:
A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Before a Flood

To prepare for a flood, you should:
  • Avoid building in a flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
  • Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, beams, flood-walls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

During a Flood

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

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

Driving Flood Facts

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

After a Flood

The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.

Recovering from and coping with flood damaged property

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A Fire

See Also: Wildfire

Since fire spreads so quickly, there is NO time to grab valuables or make a phone call! In just two minutes a fire can become life threatening! In five minutes a house can be engulfed in flames.

A fire's heat and smoke are more dangerous than the actual flames since you can burn your lungs by inhaling the super-hot air. fire produces a poisonous gas that makes you drowsy and disoriented (confused). Instead of being awakened by a fire, you could fall into a deeper sleep.

Before A Fire (Fire Safety Tips):

Install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors! - Test alarms 1-4 times a month, replace batteries once a year, and get new units every 10 years.

Make a plan - create an Escape Plan that includes two escape routes from every room in the house and walk through the routes with your entire family. Also...

  • Make sure your window are not nailed or painted shut.
  • Make sure security bars on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside...and teach everyone how to open them!
  • Teach everyone how to stay LOW to floor (air is safer).
  • Pick a spot to meet after escaping fire (meeting place).

Clean up - Keep storage areas clean - don't stack up newspapers and trash.

Check power sources - Check electrical wiring and extension cords -- don't overload cords or outlets. Make sure there are no exposed wires anywhere and make sure wiring doesn't touch home insulation.

Use caution - Never use gasoline or similar liquids indoors and never smoke around flammable liquids!

Check heat sources - Check furnaces, stoves, cracked or rusty furnace parts, and chimneys. Always be careful with space heaters and keep them at level 3 feet ( 1 m) away from flammable materials.

Know how to shut off power - Know where the circuit breaker box and gas valve is and how to turn them off, if necessary. (And always have a gas company rep turn on a main gas line. )

Install & learn A-B-C - Install A-B-C fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them. (A-B-C works on all types of fires and recommended for home - please read label.)

Call local fire - Ask local fire department if they will inspect your home or business for fire safety and prevention.

Teach kids - Explain to children that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys...and if they see someone playing with fire they should tell and adult right away! And teach them how to report a fire and when to call 911.

Prevent common fires - Pay attention when cooking and don't smoke in bed!

During a fire:

If only a small fire that's not spreading too fast....

Try to put out...? Use a fire extinguisher or water (unless it's an electrical or grease fire) ...and never try to put out a fire that's getting out of control!
  • electrical fire - never use water...use a fire extinguisher approved for electrical fires
  • oil or grease fire in kitchen - smother fire with baking soda or salt (or, if burning in pan or skillet, carefully put a lid over it -- but don't try to carry pan outside!)
If fire is spreading...

GET OUT - DO NOT take time to try to grab anything except your family members! Once outside, do NOT try to go back in (even for pets) - let the firemen do it! Ask a neighbor to call fire department if not already called.

GET DOWN - Stay low to the ground under smoke by crawling on your hands and knees or squat down and walk like a duck... but keep moving to find a way out!

Closed door - Using the back of your hand (not your palm) always feel the top of the door, doorknob and the crack between the door and door frame before you open a closed door!

  • If door is cool - leave quickly, close door behind you and crawl to an exit
  • If door is hot - DO NOT open it... find another way out.
Now way out - If you can't find a way out of the room you're trapped in (door is hot and too high to jump) then hang a white or light-colored sheet, towel or shirt outside a window to alert firemen.

Use stairs - Never take the elevator during a fire ... always uses stairs!

IF YOU are on fire - If your clothes ever catch fire, STOP what you're doing, DROP to the ground, cover your face and ROLL until the fire goes out, Running only makes the fire burn faster!

Toxic gas - Plastics in household goods create deadly fumes when burned.

After A Fire:

Don't go in there - Never enter a fire-damaged building until officials say it's okay and watch for signs of smoke in case the fire isn't totally out. Even if a fire's out, hydrogen cyanide and other toxic fumes can remain.

Utilities - Have an electrician check your household wiring before you turn the power back on and DO NOT try to reconnect any utilities yourself!

Damage - Look for structural damage (roof, walls, floors, etc. ) since they may be weak.

Call for help - Local disaster relief service ( Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) can help provide shelter, food, or personal items that were destroyed.

Insurance - Call your insurance agent or representative and..
  • Keep receipts of all clean-up and repair costs (for both insurance and income taxes).
  • Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken by your insurance company.
If you rent - Contact your landlord since it is the owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.

Move your stuff - Secure your personal belongings or move them to another location, if possible.

To learn more about fire safety and fire prevention visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website or contact your local fire department, emergency official, or your insurance agent / representative.

A Wildfire

For house fires, see also: Fire

Prepare - Wildfire Mitigation:

As our population continues to grow, more and more people are building homes in places that were once pristine wilderness areas. Homeowners who build in remote and wooded areas must take responsibility for the way their buildings are constructed and the way they landscape around them.

Use Fire Resistant Building Materials

The roof and exterior structure of your home and other buildings should be consgtructed of non-combustible or fire-resistant materials. If wood siding cedar shakes or any other highly combustible materials are used they should be treated with fire retardant chemicals.

Landscape wisely

Plant fire resistant shrubs and trees to minimize the spread of fire and space your landscaping so fire is not carried to your home or other surrounding vegetation. Remove vines from teh walls of your home.

Create a "safety zone" around the house
  • Mow grass regularly
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet (30 m) away and uphill from home
  • Keep roof and gutters free of pine needles, leaves and branches and clear away flammable vegetation at least 30 to 100 feet (9 to 30 m) from around structures
  • thin a 15-foot (4.5m) space between trea crowns and remove limbs within 10-15 feet (3-4.5 m) of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof. Prune tree branches and shrubs within 10 feet (3m) of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures. Ask power company to clear branches from power lines. Keep combustibles away from structures and clear a 10-foot (3 m) area around propane tanks, boats, etc.

Protect your home
  • Install smoke detectors, test them each month and change batteries once a year.
  • Install protective shutters or fire-resistant drapes.
  • Inspect chimneys twice a year and clean every year.
  • Cover chimney and stovepipe flue openings with 1/2 inch (1 cm) or smaller non-flammable mesh screen.
  • Use same mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and home itself. Also screen openings to attic and roof.
  • Soak ashes and charcoal briquettes in water for two days in a metal bucket.
  • Keep a garden hose connected to an outlet.
  • Have fire tools handy (ladder, shovel, rake, ax, etc.)
  • Put address on all structures so it can bee seen from road.
Learn Fire Laws - Ask fire authorities or the forestry office for information on fire laws ( like techniques, safest times to burn in your area, etc.)

Could they find & reach you? - Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your property and that your address is clearly marked.

Teach Kids - Explain to children that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys...and if they see someone playing with fire tell and adult right away! And teach kids how to report a fire and when to call 9-1-1.

Tell authorities - Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.

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

During A Wilde Fire

Listen - Have a radio and keep up on news, weather and evacuation routes.

Evacuate? - if you are told to leave - do so ... and IF you have time also...
  • Secure your home - close windows, vents, all doors, etc..
  • Turn off utilities and tanks at main switches or valves.
  • Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
Head downhill - Fire climbs uphill 16 times faster than on level terrain (since heat rises) so always head down when evacuating the area.

Food and water - If you prepared ahead, you'll have your Disaster Supplies Kit (Bug Out Bag) handy to Grab and Go...if not, gather up enough food and water for each family member for at least 3 days or longer!

Be understanding - Please realize the firefighters main objective is getting wildfires under control and they may not be able to save every home. Try to understand and respect the firefighters' and local officials' decisions.

After a Wildfire:

Don't go there - Never enter fire-damaged areas until authorities say it's okay and watch for signs of smoke or heat in case the fire isn't totally out.

Critters - Don't try to care for a wounded critter -- call Animal Control.

Utilities - Have an electrician check your household wiring before you turn the power back on and DO NOT try to reconnect any utilities yourself!

Damage - Look for structural damage (roof, walls, floors) -- may be weak.

Call for help - Local disaster relief services ( Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) can help provide shelter, food, or personal items that were destroyed.

Insurance - Call your insurance agent or representative and...
  • Keep receipts of all clean-up and repair costs
  • Do Not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken by your insurance company.
If you rent - Contact your landlord since it is the owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.

Move your stuff - Secure belongings or move them to another location.

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