Category Archives: Families and Communities

Seven Reasons to be Prepared for Disaster

7reasonsDo you think a disaster won’t happen to you? Or, do you think it might, but there’s nothing you can do? This article is for you and anyone else needing a reason to be prepared for disaster! Would you like to print this list? Here you go!

 

1. Save Money

Save moneyYes, you can save money by being prepared. If you understand your community’s greatest risks, you can take steps to make your home and property more resistant. For example, you may qualify for a reduced insurance rate if your home and property are resistant to damage from weather-related or other types of disasters. You may also have fewer damages to repair if disaster does strike. What risks do you face? Enter your ZIP code to find out on DisasterSafety.org (scroll down to Discover the risks you face).   Check with your county or parish Emergency Management Agency for local specifics, and then take action to save money by being prepared.


2. Recover Faster

asterThinking through what you’ll do and recording those steps in your family disaster plan (see reason # 7) make it easier for you to recover after a disaster hits. For example, does everyone in your household know what to do if a flash flood is about to affect your home and property?

3. Avoid or Reduce Damage

3Look around your home and property. What can you do to reduce potential damage from a disaster? You can strengthen your house structure to protect against a shift from flood or wind forces, develop a firewise landscape, take steps to prevent home fires, and take other actions to make your home and property more secure.

4. Keep in Touch with Family

4Be sure that each family member’s cell phone includes emergency and family phone numbers. Teach everyone to text message. During an emergency, it may be easier to contact others via text message than it is via a call. Also keep an up-to-date paper list of key phone numbers. If power is out and your cell phone is not charged, you will still be able to locate a needed phone number. It’s easier to contact relatives during a disaster if you’ve created a contact list before the disaster. They’ll want to know that you’re okay, so have a plan for notifying them. That plan may include contacting a designated out-of-state relative or friend who will let others know your status. You might also use the American Red Cross Safe and  Well website.


5. Survive on your Own

5This is where emergency kits come in handy. No matter where you are, it may be a while before emergency responders can reach you. Here’s a starting list for your household supply kit.

6. Retain Important Papers

6Financial records, property records, legal records, and family records are important to you and your family. But are they filed and stored so you can easily find the important papers after a disaster—or when you’re evacuating? These papers will make it easier for you to recover. Here are some tips on organizing, managing, and accessing your papers.

7. Avoid Panic

7Create a family disaster plan. Having a plan can help your family make it through any disaster with minimal stress. A comprehensive family disaster plan includes information about each family member, household pets, insurance and finances, and the home itself and its contents. Most important, the plan outlines what each family member should do during an emergency and identifies safe places inside and outside the home. Here’s a family disaster plan template from the University of Missouri Extension.

What are some reasons you have found for being prepared for disaster?


 

And here’s a pin for you, too.

7disaster_long

Growing the EDEN Resource Catalog and Youth Programs

 Pat Skinner, EDEN web manager, is blog post author.

CLIMB HIGH (2)

The networking support team at LSU is pleased to have Debbie Hurlbert putting her energy into these two important growth areas, working primarily with the Information Clearinghouse Committee and the youth-focused members of EDEN’s Family and Consumer Science/4-H Youth PAWG. If you’ve been to either of the last two EDEN Annual Meetings you’ll remember Debbie as the person behind the 4-H youth
themselves presenting their mitigation program in Alabama (a first youth presence at an EDEN Annual meeting), and helping to convene a small youth programs group in Las Cruces, to see if the recent surge in youth programs is sustainable, and warrants a separate PAWG. As a result of that meeting EDEN now has a Youth and Disasters Pinterest board. The board can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/edenpins/youth-and-disasters/.

What YOU can do to help EDEN work better for you

Here are two things you can do!

The first thing you can do.

If you have youth-audience programs and educational/exercise/training materials, make sure Debbie knows about them. She has already scoured the past annual meeting agendas and found quite a bit, but we know there’s more going on than we hear about at these meetings. She reached out to Lynette Black, Ryan Akers and Susan Kerr, who have submitted a proposal for PILD. She’s even started posting in EDEN’s Youth and Disasters Pinterest channel. You can make simple entries here, and Debbie will get back to you for the details!
Screenshot 2016-01-12 10.34.29

And now for the second.

If you have educational resources (all audiences) you’d like to recommend to other delegates, help Debbie get them into the Resource Catalog.  Start by seeing if they’re already IN the catalog.  From the Resource Catalog home page,  http://public.eden.lsuagcenter.com/ResourceCatalog , search for your state name. Find your Institution on the left “Filter List.”  For example, the search for Louisiana returns 29 items, of which 28 are for the LSU Institution and one is for Louisiana Sea Grant. Click on your institution name for a list of your institution’s resources.  Send Debbie your catalog suggestions here.

Screenshot 2016-01-12 10.32.45

 

 

What Kinds of Resources is EDEN Looking For?

Access to shared state resources was very high on the list of benefits of EDEN in the recent delegate survey, and the catalog is a primary means of doing that. As you have time, explore the tags, and see how the filters use tags to refine search results. The more you know, the more we’ll grow!

If you’re wondering what resources can be cataloged, here are the resource types:

  • Audio Production
  • Book-Handbook – Manual
  • Course – Curriculum
  • Demo – Showcase Facility
  • Disaster Plan
  • Disaster Report
  • Display – Exhibit – Poster
  • Fact Sheet – Small Brochure
  • Image Collection
  • Memorandum – Agreement
  • News Release
  • Newsletter-Bulletin
  • Presentation Materials
  • Program – Initiative
  • Promotional Items
  • PSA
  • Published Paper – Article
  • Resource – Data Collection
  • Tool – Application (Interactive)
  • Training – Exercise Materials
  • Video Footage
  • Video Production
  • Webinar
  • Website – Blog
  • White Paper
  • Worksheets – Guidebook

NEW Free Guides for Restoring Disaster Damaged Homes

Post by Claudette Hanks Reichel, Ed.D., LSU AgCenter Professor, Extension Housing Specialist and Director, LaHouse Resource Center
www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse  |  creichel@agcenter.lsu.edu  |  (225) 578-2378

healthy homes

With the spreading floods and other disasters, I want to alert EDENites to a set of new, free educational materials from HUD for dealing with damaged homes. These differ from many other materials I’ve seen in that the core thread is “health”, both during and after recovery.

When homes are damaged, disaster survivors face the daunting and dangerous task of clean-up and repairs – often with little or no professional help. All are eager to restore their homes and lives quickly, yet many are not aware of all the hazards that can be worsened by the process.

To alleviate that, various educational resources were recently developed through the U.S. Dept. of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes working with Cooperative Extension Service and others. They’re now available from www.hud.gov/healthyhomes web site’s Post Disaster Recovery and Resources link under Popular Topics.

The flagship “how-to” guide is Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy HomeIt’s a detailed, highly-illustrated reference to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers safely restore homes damaged by any type of natural disaster – from floods and storms, to wildfire and earthquakes – to end up with more than just a livable home, but to protect the future wellbeing of their families.

Screenshot 2016-01-08 14.11.51
Content includes the Top 10 Tips; personal protective gear; assessing structural and health hazards; work preparation; best practices for clean-out, gutting, decontamination and repair; ways to “restore for more than before” with resilient, energy-saving and healthy home improvements; and, other resources. Content conforms to new federal interagency recommendations for dealing with mold, lead, asbestos and radon after disasters.

This 72-page guidebook was extensively reviewed and refined by disaster survivors and stakeholders from across the nation, including Extension housing specialists; I was primary author. It’s available as a free online pdf file that can be printed in whole or part, as well as a free mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices (search Rebuild Healthy Homes in the app stores).

Other Disaster Resources

Don’t forget about the app!

Screenshot 2016-01-12 10.56.21

Winter Preparedness
(There’s an App for That)

Rick Atterberry is blog post author.

appforthat

We’re almost three weeks into meteorological Winter and just a few days from the start of the season in the astronomical calendar.  And, while much of the country has experienced record setting warmth in the last three months, snow, ice, sleet, wind and cold are inevitable for many of us.

With that in mind, Extension colleagues at North Dakota State University have created a Winter Survival Kit Phone App for both Android and IOS phones.  This app helps users find their location if they become stranded, call 911, notify friends and family and calculate how lo9ng they can run their vehicle to stay warm before running out of fuel.

Capture NDSU“The Winter Survival Kit app can be as critical as a physical winter survival kit if you find yourself stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions,” says Bob Bertsch, NDSU Agriculture Communication Web technology specialist.

Users can store important phone numbers, insurance information, motor club contacts and more within the app.  The app includes a timer function which reminds motorists to check the exhaust pipe for snow buildup so as to avoid a high concentration of carbon monoxide.

The app features a large “I’m Stranded!” button which can be easily accessed in an emergency situation.  Parents may find the app a useful tool for young drivers who are very familiar with their smart phones, but less familiar with winter driving.

The kit app was developed by Myriad Devices, a company founded by students and faculty at NDSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and College of Business in the school’s Research and Technology Park Incubator.  The NDSU Extension Service provided design and content input.  Funding was via a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Smith-Lever Special Needs grant.

 

New and Updated Resources

Searching for new and updated resources? Here are a few that have recently come to our attention.

Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools

The U.S. Department of Education offers technical assistance for Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS). The site offers resources for kindergarten through 12th grade schools and districts, and for institutions of higher education. You will find interactive templates for emergency operations plans, checklists, drills, virtual trainings, and much more.

Evacuation Plans for Veterinarians 

Steve Pearson, DVM, in Veterinary Practice News describes why and how veterinarians should write an emergency action plan for a natural disaster. Very practical.

Winter Survival Kit

Now is the time to download NDSU Extension’s Winter Survival Kit. The app will help you find your current location, call 911, notify friends and family, calculate how long you can run your engine to keep warm and stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning. The free app is available on Google Play and in the iTunes App Store.

The El Niño Effect

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has regional impact fact sheets on the current El Niño effect and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) provides resources needed to be ready for weather that can be associated with the event. Be prepared for anything from floods and droughts to land slides and other severe weather this winter.

Derecho — Weather Wednesday

Julyderecho
July 13, 2015 derecho radar image from NOAA.

Early this week, on July 13, a possible derecho, or at least what the National Weather Service is currently calling “a Derecho-like event,” raced across the middle of the country. It began in Minnesota and swept mostly southward through Wisconsin, Illinois, parts of Indiana and into Kentucky.

The Weather Service describes a derecho as “a widespread, long-lived storm. Derechos are associated with bands of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms variously known as bow echoes, squall lines or quasi-linear convective systems.”

The “bow echo” refers to the characteristic appearance of a linear storm on weather radar when that storm bows out due to high wind. Storms represented by bow echoes are not always derechos unless they last for a long time which is rarely the case. In fact, large derechos are relatively unusual. Generally there are only one or two a year in most of the country.

The Weather Service has an extensive derecho page.

Weather Underground
Weather Underground

Derechos can be extremely damaging. By definition a derecho must travel 240 miles and include wind gusts of at least 58mph along much of its length and several gusts of over 75mph. Many are much stronger. A derecho that crossed Illinois from northwest to southeast in the late 1990’s included winds measured at over 100mph at the Clinton nuclear power plant and caused extensive damage to a marina at the associated cooling lake.

Effects can be long lasting. On July 4th and 5th in 1999 a derecho crossed the Boundary Waters Canoe area in northern Minnesota/southern Ontario. It devastated a forest there. Wildfires in more recent years have been fueled by the debris from that storm.

Because of their length and the intensity of the straight line winds, derechos can be an extremely costly event. Casualties are rare, but do occur, usually caused by falling trees or other debris and occasionally by watercraft caught by the rapidly moving storms.

Weather Wednesday – Killer Heat

NOAA Archives
NOAA Archives

The July issue of Chicago Magazine serves as the inspiration for today’s post on killer heat. It features a recap, told in the words of residents, first responders, morgue workers and politicians of the July 1995 heatwave in the City of Chicago…twenty years ago next week. I recommend it.

Heat remains consistently the deadliest natural disaster in most years in the United States. The National Weather Service estimates that about 175 people die of heat related causes during an average year. Some years are much worse. The official total of dead attributed to the 1995 event in Chicago stands at 739. Officials argued about which deaths belonged in the count at the time and continue to do so today, but in any event the extent of the disaster cannot be denied.

On Wednesday, July 12, 1995, the temperature in Chicago reached 95-degrees. Certainly not uncommon. But on Thursday the 13th, the high was 104 at O’Hare Airport and 106 at the more urban Midway Airport. To compound the stress, the dewpoint at times exceeded 80-degrees which is rare. That would make the heat index between 120 and 130-degrees.

chi-95heatbody20120706072407
Chicago Tribune

By Friday, July 14, with a high of 102, paramedics and police officers knew there was a major problem. The number of fatalities rose to the point that the system was overwhelmed. Refrigerated trucks were brought to the morgue and mortuary students worked non-stop for two days assisting the morgue staff in handling the bodies of victims.

 

chi-95heattruck20120706072404
Chicago Tribune

The urban heat island effect was in full operation. Buildings and pavement held the heat at night, especially in the humid air so there was no relief. Many of the victims were elderly, young and those with existing medical issues. The situation was especially dire in poorer neighborhoods where residents either had no fans or air conditioners or were reluctant to use them given the cost of electricity. In addition, some victims were fearful for their safety and kept windows closed and locked. One of the city’s major hospitals lacked air conditioning in most of the building even in 1995! Surgical staffs were rotated frequently.

Since the effects of extreme heat tend to be cumulative, people continued to succumb for days after the heat began to subside on Saturday when the high was “only” 98.

heat_1The Chicago Heatwave of 1995 was a well-documented event, but similar heatwaves are common. Just this past week much of Western Europe had unusually high temperatures and in June perhaps as many as 1,500 people died of the heat in Pakistan. In May of 2015, 2,500 people died in a heatwave in India.

 

The National Weather Service has a number of safety tips, including:
Avoid the Heat. Stay indoors and in air conditioning as much as possible
Check on neighbors and the elderly.
Wear loose fitting clothing. Light colors reflect heat and sun.
Drink plenty of water and natural juices. The body loses water faster than it can absorb it. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Avoid large meals. Eat smaller portions and more frequently.
NEVER leave children or pets in a vehicle even for a few minutes.

In addition, the weather service has a heatwave brochure available for download.

Washington Wildfires Wreaking Woe

The Sleepy Hollow fire near the north-central Washington State city of Wenatchee started in the afternoon of June 28, 2015. The cause is unknown but natural causes have been ruled out, leaving intentional or accidental human-origin causes to blame. Unseasonably high temperatures, early drought conditions, and high fuel loads have elevated fire risk in the area much earlier in the summer than normal. The fire started outside the city, but wind drove it into residential areas of this city of 33,000. Hundreds of residents were evacuated. It has burned 2950 acres and has destroyed 29 primary residences. Embers blew into the commercial business district and subsequent fires destroyed four businesses; some were large agricultural processing or storage warehouses, raising concerns about hazardous material involvement. Those areas have been secured and hazardous materials contained.

The Chelan WA County Commissioners have issued an emergency declaration of the area as a high danger area, banning all outdoor burning and the use of fireworks. Some roads are restricted to local resident and emergency use only. The evacuation center has been moved from a high school to a church.  The BNSF rail line (a major NW transportation corridor) was closed but has been re-opened.

The number of firefighting personnel involved with this fire is 336; they are primarily volunteers. They have incurred a few injuries including heat exhaustion; no injuries to the public have been reported. With limited numbers of firefighters available, four days of firefighting already, and new fires reported in the area, firefighting personnel is stretched to the limit. With the Sleepy Hollow fire 47% contained as of the evening of June 30 evening, some are being re-deployed to other emerging fire situations.

The majority of efforts have switched from response to recovery, assisting those who have lost their homes and businesses. A local footwear business is offering free shoes to all fire victims. A fruit packing business offered its facilities to a competitor whose fruit packing facility was destroyed, thereby helping the business continue operating during fruit harvest season. These responses demonstrate that even during periods of drought and wildfires, human hearts can contain bottomless wellsprings of compassion and hope.

–Submitted by Susan Kerr, WA State EDEN Delegate

 

Weather Wednesday – When the Smoke Gets in your Skies

-- NOAA
— NOAA

For the past several days the media has been showing images of a smoke plume reaching from wildfires in Saskatchewan  across the Midwest and farther south.   From the ground the smoke appears as a haze high in the sky and may filter the sun.   Sunrises and sunsets in the areas where there is smoke in the atmosphere have been more colorful than usual.

While such events occur fairly frequently, this one has garnered additional attention because of the vast area that is reporting at least some smoke.  It is expected the area will shift to the east as the weather pattern changes over the holiday weekend.

IMG_1097Here’s what the sky looked like in central Illinois at about 11AM on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.  The darker parts of the image are clouds, put the sun is seen filtered in part by the smokey haze.

At the current time most of the smoke is high in the atmosphere and is not likely to be able to be smelled nor is it a particular threat to those with breathing difficulties.   However, the situation is different in parts of Alaska where a Dense Smoke Advisory has been issued near some wildfires. There people have been cautioned not only about limited visibility but the possibility of health impacts.

Nearly all of the wildfires have been caused by lightning.

As we approach the July 4th holiday, please keep those fireworks under control and don’t contribute to any new wildfires.

Weather Wednesday — Lightning Safety — Special Monday Edition

We’ll keep things short this week as your author needs to hit the road for visits to our Chicago-area Extension offices.

In some parts of the country, this is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.  The following passage is from the Peoria Journal Star on Monday, June 22, 2015:  … the motorcyclists were traveling side-by-side when lightning hit a taxi van and then the motorcyclists. The driver of the van was injured, but survived, after going into a ditch, but the motorcyclists, who were burnt and suffered heart attacks, died at the scene.  This freak accident occurred in Decatur, Illinois and points to just how unpredictable and dangerous lightning can be.

berryd4
–Douglas Berry via NOAA

Severe storms are forecast in a large part of the Great Lakes region and points east early in the week, so I’d like to share a National Weather Service link that tells you just about everything you need to know about lightning safety.