Not a matter of chance
After reading our title, are you thinking: “It’s spring! This isn’t wildfire season. Why is this newsletter about wildfires?” Well, we are discussing wildfires for a couple of reasons. First, as has recently been evident in Colorado, wildfires can happen any time of year. Second, spring is generally a time for yard cleanup and adding new plants. Wildfire prevention can guide you in these tasks and help protect your home and family.
Fire experts have long recognized three basic components of wildfires: weather, fuel, and terrain. Together, these three items affect the likelihood of a fire starting, how fast it will move, and how difficult it will be to control.
Dry, hot, windy weather increases the likelihood of a major fire. In a wildfire, fuels are usually vegetation (trees, shrubs, brush and grass), homes and other buildings. Of all the types of terrains, the steepness of the grade is the most influential on fire behavior. The steeper the slope, the faster the fire will spread.
How to Better Protect Your Home and Family from a Wildfire
1. Creating a defensible space will help protect your property against the spread of wildfire. Use the three “Rs” of defensible space to evaluate your home’s landscaping and surroundings.
Removal – eliminate entire plants, particularly trees and shrubs, from your property. Example: cutting down a dead tree or cutting out a highly flammable shrub.
Reduction – remove plant parts, such as branches or leaves. Example: pruning dead wood from a shrub; removing low branches; mowing dried grass.
Replacement – substitute less flammable plants for more hazardous vegetation. Example: removing a dense stand of shrubs and replacing with an irrigated, well-maintained flower bed or fire resistant plants.
2. Install a non-combustible roof that meets the classification requirements of your community. Check with your building department or fire marshal for more information.
3. Use non-combustible materials for the exterior surfaces of your home. Does your home have a flammable deck, fence or staircase attached to it? If these items catch on fire, they can act as a wick, bringing fire to your home.
4. If you can, build your home away from ridge tops, canyons, and areas between high points on a ridge.
Evacuate when Instructed to Do So by Emergency Personnel
During a wildfire, evacuations are put in place to save lives. Property can be replaced, but your life cannot. Wildfire fatalities most often occur when people wait to leave their homes. Leave early enough to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion.
Preferably, don’t wait to be told by authorities to leave. In an intense wildfire, they may not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to evacuate, don’t hesitate. Remember, by evacuating early, you give your family the best chance of survival.
What to Do if You Are Trapped and Cannot Evacuate
When Trapped in Your Home:
1. Stay inside your home. It is safer than being outside or in a vehicle.
2. Close all exterior doors including the garage door after putting your car inside.
3. Call 911 and inform the dispatcher that you cannot evacuate.
4. Fill all sinks and bathtubs with water.
5. Close all interior doors, leaving them unlocked.
6. Shelter in rooms opposite the approaching fire.
7. Stay away from perimeter walls.
8. Stay as calm as you can and keep your family together.
9. Fire fronts can take 5 to 15 minutes or longer to pass.
10. As hot as it gets inside your home, it is 4 to 5 times hotter outside.
When Trapped in Your Car:
1. Try to drive to an area clear of vegetation, away from wires and trees.
2. If on a winding road, try to park where the road curves out, not in.
3. Close all windows and keep the doors unlocked.
4. Turn on the air conditioner, keeping it in the “re-circulation” or “max” mode.
5. Cover yourself with a wool or cotton blanket or natural fiber clothing. No synthetic fabrics; they melt!
6. Attempt to call 911 and inform the dispatcher of your location.
7. Wait for the front to pass. Keep in mind that there will probably be smoke in your car.
8. If you see flames in your vehicle after the fire front passes, wrap yourself in clothing/blankets and exit.
9. Do not attempt to out run a wildfire.
Staying with your property should be considered only as a last resort. Each year, professionally trained fire fighters are killed while fighting wildfires. Make educated decisions on when to evacuate. Don’t put your life or the lives of your loved ones at risk.
For all of your emergency preparedness needs, please visit http://www.SurvivalSupplies4U.com.
Last month, my family had an emergency preparedness test run. For three days, we pretended that we had no electricity, natural gas, or running water and that we could not go to the grocery store, bank or gas station. We do this every so often, so we can find the flaws are in our emergency preparedness planning.
These test runs have helped us in numerous ways. We’ve practiced using the supplies that we have; so when a real natural disaster occurs, we aren’t wasting time learning to use items we aren’t familiar with.
We’ve also discovered that some ideas we thought would be really great were actually duds. As Mark Twain said, “The tragedy of today is the comedy of tomorrow.” Many of those “dud” ideas are now some of our family’s favorite funny stories.
One of the new additions to our personal emergency supplies is the Humless Sentinel Solar Generator. This is now on our “we can’t live without it” list! The Humless kept our refrigerator running the entire three days, making our preparedness test so much easier. Ice cream is a wonderful comfort food during an emergency!
We know that not everyone is up to conducting an emergency preparedness test run. If you aren’t, we encourage you to use the following Emergency Preparedness Quiz to help you identify any weaknesses in your family’s emergency plan. A few minutes spent today will mean peace of mind for your family tomorrow.
Emergency Preparedness Quiz
1. Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?
2. Does your family know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake, natural disaster or other emergency situation?
3. Do you have heavy objects hanging over beds that could fall during an earthquake?
4. Do you have access to a working flashlight in every occupied bedroom? Do you have extra batteries if the flashlights are battery-operated?
5. Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass?
6. If a water line was ruptured during a natural disaster, do you know how to shut off the main water line to your house? Can this water valve be turned off by hand without the use of a tool? Do you have a tool if one is needed?
7. Do you know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located? If you smell gas, do you know how to shut-off this value? Gas valves usually cannot be turned off by hand. Do you have a gas shut-off tool stored near the valve?
8. Would you be able to safely restart your furnace when gas is safely available?
9. Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper places to warn you of fire?
10. In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher that you know how to use?
11. Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored away from your home?
12. Do you have a functional emergency radio to receive emergency information? Do you have extra batteries if your radio is battery-operated?
13. If your family had to evacuate your home, have you identified a meeting place?
14. If an emergency lasted for three days (72 hours) before help was available to you and your family:
• Would you have enough food?
• Would you have the means to cook that food without gas and electricity?
• Would you have enough water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs
• Do you have access to a 72 hour emergency kit?
• Would you be able to carry or transport those kits?
• Have you established an out-of-state contact that everyone in your family knows how to contact?
• Do you have first aid kits in your home and in each car?
• Do you have work gloves and some tools for minor rescue and clean up?
• Do you have emergency cash on hand? (During emergencies and especially during power outages, banks may be closed and ATMs nonfunctioning.)
• Without electricity and gas, do you have a way to heat at least part of your home?
• If you need medications, do you have a month’s supply on hand?
• Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?
These are all questions that need answers if you and your loved ones are to be safe in an emergency. If you answered “No” to any of them, it’s time to work on getting those items done. Start today!
Visit us at http://www.SurvivalSupplies4U.com for all your emergency preparedness needs.
What Can I Do To Prepare
Anyone who is a parent knows how hard it can be to raise a child. Add a stressful situation, like a natural disaster or other emergencies, and a difficult job gets harder.
• Make a plan with your family or the people you live With.
• Discuss what type of disaster is likely to happen to
you. Contact your local Red Cross, emergency
management office or health department. Ask for
advice, suggestions or information related to your
• Decide how to stay in touch with your family or
housemates if there is a disaster. Set up two meet-
ing places: right outside your home and another
location in case you are forced to leave your
neighborhood. Make sure your children can reach
both places safely and that know how to get there.
If possible, have an out – of – town family contact.
Make sure your children know this address and
telephone number. Also make sure your contact
knows your emergency plans.
• Put together a disaster supply kit.
Items to include in a 72 hour kit.
• Three gallons of water per person
• A three day supply of food
• Flashlight and batteries
• First-Aid kit
• Battery-operated radio
• Complete change of clothing for each person
• Spare set of keys and identification cards
• Cash and credit cards
• Matches in a waterproof container
• Pet supplies ( food and Medication)
If you have a baby, small child, or a senior living with you, consider any special needs they may have,
Including diapers, bottles and formula for your baby, favorite toys and belongings for your child, and prescription medications, extra eyeglasses or hearing aids for your senior or other family members who may need them.
• Lear about existing preparedness plans in your town
• If you have school-aged children, the school plans
• Plan several evacuation routes
• Plan how to take care of your pets
• Practice your plan before a disaster.
People from other states often ask us how we can live in “EarthquakeCounty”, akaCalifornia. What they don’t know is that no part of theUnited Statesis free from earthquakes. Just take a look at the list below showing where earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater have occurred since December 31, 2011, in theUSA. They are in every region!
In August of 2011, there was a 5.8 inVirginiaand a 5.3 inColorado! Fortunately, no one was killed in these earthquakes; however, there were injuries and costly property damage.
Preparing before an Earthquake
Since an earthquake can strike anywhere, everyone needs to know what to do to prepare. First, make sure you are ready with emergency preparedness basics that are needed for any type of disaster.
Do you have:
- Grab-&-go kits/72 hour kits that are stocked, ready and accessible for every member of your household, including pets?
- Emergency food storage that has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare? If you have canned food, make sure to have a manual can opener. If you have dehydrated/freeze-dried food, increase the amount of water that you store, so that you don’t deplete all your water reconstituting the food. Check the expiration dates on all stored food and replace as necessary.
- Water for drinking, personal hygiene and sanitation? Allow at least one gallon per person per day. This is the bare minimum. Store as much as you can. If you have filled water barrels, replace the water in them every five years to ensure its quality.
- A first aid kit? Be sure to go through your first aid kit and replace any medical supplies that may have expired. If you or a loved one require prescription medication, add some to your kit along with a copy of the prescription. Copies of eye glass prescriptions are also a good idea.
- An emergency communication plan? Do you have a location to meet if the members of you household were not together when the earthquake occurred? Does your family know how to get in touch with each other after the earthquake? It’s best to have a contact out of the area that all family members know to call. Remember, texting will function even if land lines and cell phones do not. Texting works like a ham radio and continues to seek a working tower until your message can be sent.
- An emergency gas/water shutoff tool. Almost as important, do you know how to use it?
Strategies specifically for earthquake preparedness include:
Securely fastening shelves and other tall pieces of furniture to the walls
- Hanging large, heavy items, such as mirrors or artwork, away from beds and seating areas
- Bracing overhead light fixtures
- Storing breakable items, such as bottled foods, glass and china, in low, closed cabinets with latches
- Placing large or heavy objects on lower shelves
- Strapping the water heater to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor
- Repairing defective electrical wiring and leaking gas connections, which are potential fire hazards
What to Do During an Earthquake
Remain calm! Think through the consequences of all your actions.
- Stop, drop, cover, and hold on to something sturdy, where you are.
- If you are indoors, stay indoors. Take cover under a heavy desk, table, bench, archway, alongside a sturdy wall or in a narrow hallway. Stay away from windows and all other forms of glass, elevators, stairwells, and doorways with doors (doors can swing closed, causing injuries).
- If you are outdoors, stay outdoors. Move away from buildings, roofs with clay tiles, antennas, or satellite dishes, large trees, signs, power lines, and any other utility wires or buildings on stilts.
- If you are in a crowded place, stay away from overhead walkways and do not rush for a doorway. Take cover and move away from display shelves holding objects that can fall.
- If you are in a high-rise building, get under a sturdy desk or table away from windows and outside walls. Stay in the building on the same floor. An evacuation may not be necessary. Be aware that the electricity may go out and that the sprinkler systems and fire alarms may go on.
After the initial quake, be prepared for aftershocks. Check for gas or water leaks, shutting utilities off if necessary. Listen to your battery-powered, Dynamo or solar radio for updates and instructions.
What You Can Do
You can manage stress by taking care of yourself while you are helping others.
Manage Your Workload:
• set your task priorities with realistic work plans.
• Recognize that “waiting” and “not having enough to do,”
alternate with being “overwhelmed.”
Balance Your Lifestyle:
• Eat healthy foods and drink water.
• Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
• Set adequate sleep and rest.
• Get physical exercise.
• Talk to your family and friends frequently.
•Reduce physical tension frequently by methods that work for
you. Take deep breathes, gentle stretching, meditation, wash
face and hands, use relaxation techniques.
• Pace yourself between low and high stress activities.
• Use time off to decompress and: re-charge batteries” – get a
good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath, and talk to
• Talk about your feelings to co-workers at appropriate times.
• Recognize and heed early warning signs of stress.
• Accept that you may not be able to self-access problem-
matic stress reactions.
• Recoginize that over identification with or feeling
overwhelmed by victims’ and families’ grief and
trauma mat signal a need for support and consultation.
• Understand the differences between professional helping
relationships and friendships to help maintain approp-
riate roles and boundaries
• Examine personal prejudices and cultural stereotypes.
• Recognize when your own experience with trauma or
your own personal history interferes with effectiveness.
• Be aware of your personal vulnerabilities and emotional
reactions and the importance of team and supervisor
Be aware of how these events can affect you personally.
SIGNS OF STRESS
• Increase or decrease in activity level.
• Increased alcohol or tobacco use.
• Difficulty expressing themselves or understanding others.
• Irritability, outbursts of anger, frequent arguments.
• Inability to rest or relax.
• Decline in job performance.
• Frequent crying.
• Excessive worry.
• Becoming accident-prone.
• Nausea or diarrhea.
• Headaches and other pains.
• Visual disturbances.
• Weight gain or loss.
• Sweating or chills.
• Tremors or muscle twitching.
• Being easily startled.
• Feeling heroic, euphoric, or invulnerable.
• Anxiety or fear.
• Memory problems.
• Disorientation and confusion.
• Slow thought processes; lack of concentration.
• Difficulty setting priorities or making decisions.
• Difficulty in giving or accepting support or help.
• Inability to experience pleasure or have fun.
Safety tips for your home
Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Never use fuel burning appliances without proper ventilation. NEVER use a fuel not intended for the type of heater you’re using.
Keep all flammables stored away from heating unit, preferably outside. NEVER fill the unit while it is on or if off while it is still hot. Fuelling should be done outside your home.
If using the unit in a bedroom, be sure the room is properly ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Wood stoves and fireplaces are common in more homes. Pay attention to the following for your health and safety.
• Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. (If you have just purchased the house, ask the realtors when the chimney was swept last) wood stoves should be a minimum of 36” from a combustible surface, with proper protection for the floor.
• Wood stoves should be of good, solid construction and design, and UL lab tested to insure it meets safety standards.
• Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessarily by a licensed agent, especially if it has not been used for some time.
• Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire, this is not your outdoor grill.
• Keep a glass or screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks or embers from igniting a fire on your carpet or woof floor to help prevent burns to you or the loss of the house.
• The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15 -30 minutes to prevent creosote buildup.
• NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. This can cause the fire to reignite and fill the house with carbon monoxide.
• Never burn charcoal in the house
• It is important to have your furnace inspected to insure it is in proper working order.
Be sure every level of your house has a working smoke and carbon alarm, and be sure to check and clean them on a monthly basis. Replace batteries twice a year wither their beeping or not, the same for your heater and A/C filters.
In the last 20 years, according to a report released by the British charity Oxfam. Oxfam The number of natural disasters around the world has increased by more than four times analyzed data from the Red Cross, United Nations and researchers at Louvain University in Belgium. It found that the earth is currently experiencing approximately 500 natural disasters per year, compared with 120 per year in the early 1980s. The number of weather-related disasters in 2006 was 240, compared with 60 in 1980. So, the question isn’t if you will experience a natural disaster; it’s really a question of when.
The recent early winter storms that occurred in the Northeastern United States left millions from Maine to Maryland without power. Even though residents had advance warning, many were unprepared for the severity of the storm. Two months ago, residents were also inadequately prepared for Hurricane Irene, which left extensive wind and flood damage along its path. Again, there was warning, but the hurricane’s severity far exceeded expectations.
Don’t be caught unprepared. Do you have the following items ready to see your family through an emergency or natural disaster?
• Grab and go kits for every member of your family, including pets
• Well-stocked first aid kit
• Emergency gas and water shut-off tool
• Emergency communications plan that instructs your loved ones regarding who to call and where to meet in case of emergency
• Enough non-perishable food to last your family for a minimum of two weeks; it may take emergency services that long to reach you in a severe disaster
• Water for drinking, cooking and hygiene – a minimum of one gallon per person per day and enough to last at least two weeks
• Alternative ways to cook and provide heat and light in case of a power outage
• Emergency kits in your car, at your workplace, and at your children’s schools
• Safety skills, such as first aid and CPR
• Fire extinguisher – be sure everyone in your home knows how to use it and where it is kept
We realize that this list may seem daunting. We encourage you to work on just one category each month. If you already have some items, take inventory to see what needs to be replaced or added. Then, follow through with replacing or adding those items. We talk to a lot of folks who know what they need but don’t take the next step to actually do it.
Take action today. Emergency planning is about preparedness, not paranoia. Knowing that your family can weather a disaster will bring you and them peace of mind.
Yes, they happen everywhere in the United States!
Flooding threatens all regions of the United States, high and low. Even the smallest waterways are susceptible. Flooding can occur on its own or accompany many different types of natural disasters. Rivers overwhelmed by rain wash out waterfront property. Slow moving hurricanes trigger flash floods and storm surges, both of which hurtle a wall of killer debris before them. Levees and dams burst in earthquakes or heavy storms, submerging entire neighborhoods or towns. In fact, floods are among the deadliest and costliest natural disasters.
Most floods in the West are triggered by snowmelt and rainstorms. In the East, hurricanes and thunderstorms are the primary culprits. Regardless of where you live, when a deluge is rushing your way, you can be certain of a few things: the water will be contaminated; it will vanquish any car; and when it reaches your front door, it won’t knock first.
They claim about 140 American lives each year, primarily due to in-car drowning. Damages to roads and structures average $6 Billion annually. Because of this, floods are the only hazard to be covered by federal insurance: FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
What’s Your Family’s Flood Plan?
Because floods can happen anywhere, every family should make advanced plans for such an emergency. Teach your family about survival techniques when stranded in water. In your plan, include which items to move to upper floors before a flood. These will include large appliances and valuable furniture. Store them in the highest place possible, away from windows and wrapped in blankets. If you have enough warning, you may want to consider a storage unit out of harm’s way.
Then, make a sandbagging plan. Sandbagged walls, which absorb incoming water, can be a life and property-saver. Decide who will build your wall and where you will obtain supplies. Even better is to store the supplies in your basement or garage at all times. A one-foot high by 20-foot long wall of 100 sandbags will take two people about an hour to construct.
Minor flooding may not lead to evacuation. In these instances, plan to sanitize bathtubs and sinks, then fill them with clean water in case the water supply is later contaminated. Finally, turn off all utilities (except natural gas) and secure outdoor items before heading to the highest level of your home. Have a portable radio, a whistle to signal, flashlight and first aid kit.
5 Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Flood
1. If you live in a floodplain, reinforce your home now to keep your property as high and dry as possible.
2. Use waterproofing compounds to seal the walls of your lowest floors, especially the basement, where most flooding occurs.
3. Be sure your sewer drains have check valves, to keep floodwater from coming into your house through sinks and tubs.
4. Raise your water heater, furnace and electricity panel above floor levels. This is common today.
5. Build physical barriers around your house such as levees and flood walls to keep waters at bay.
Why You Should Stay Out of Your Car during a Flood
· Flooding is the number one weather killer in the United States.
· More than 50 percent of flood deaths occur inside vehicles.
· A mere six-inch flood can cause a car to hydroplane.
· A foot of water can flood a car.
· Two feet of water can wash away a SUV.
What to Do if You Are Trapped at Home
· Avoid touching floodwaters, which may tainted by sewage or chemicals.
· Disconnect electrical appliances only if you are dry, never if you or the floors are wet.
· Collect drinking water.
· Turn off gas and water.
· Grab your 72-hour kit, warm clothing and first aid supplies.
· Collect flashlights, signaling devices, and emergency radio.
· Move to the highest point of your house.
· Wait for help.
· Do not try to swim to safety.
What to Do When You Return Home After a Flood
· Only return to inspect your home after local authorities give the okay.
· Wear sturdy shoes and clothing.
· Before entering, turn off outside gas lines.
· Open all windows (there may be gas fumes).
· Have an electrician inspect all wiring.
· Have a serviceman inspect and repair your septic tank, cesspool, pit, or leaching system.
· Have an engineer or mechanic check for structural damage.
· Cover broken windows or holes in the roof.
· Throw away all food touched by flood water even if it was in a sealed package, such as a can.
· Boil all drinking and cooking water for ten minutes until authorities clear your supply.
· Disinfect items that touched flood waters.
· Document and photograph all damage.
EXPERT TIP: Floods usually result from heavy or prolonged rain, rapidly melting snow, or broken dams. Flash floods can occur with little or no warning and are dangerous because their swift currents and unpredictable nature. [Girl Scouts]
See us at www.SurvivalSupplies4U.com for all your emergency preparedness needs.