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April Showers Bring May Flowers…and Spring Flooding

Flooded Road

Spring is finally here which means warmer temperatures, green grass and colorful flowers.  It also means changing weather conditions and in some areas of the country, rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is advising Americans to prepare this spring for another round of potentially disastrous flooding of the kind that devastated much of Louisiana, Missouri and Texas late December/early January.

Individuals and families are advised take certain precautions in flood prone areas.  These precautions are simple, but they are steps that could save your life.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the terms weather forecasters use to describe your area’s risk for flooding. A “Flood Watch” means a flood or flash flood is a possibility for your area.  A “Flood Warning” means a flash flood or flooding has already occurred or is imminent for your location.
  2. Ensure your house is stocked with emergency supplies such as a Home Survival Kit that contains a 72 hour supply of non-perishable food and water, emergency lighting, Mylar blankets, first aid items, and a hand-crank/solar powered weather radio in the likely event the power is out. Maintaining communication during a flood event is crucial in ensuring you and your family can safely evacuate to higher ground without encountering closed roads or other deterrents.  Your kit should also contain an emergency gas/water shut-off utility tool, medications, food/water for your pets and an extra set of weather appropriate clothing.
  3. Once a Flood Watch has been issued for your area, monitor changing weather conditions by tuning into your local news station or a NOAA weather band radio. Get yours here
  4. If a Flood Warning is issued in your area, don’t delay, head to higher ground via the safest evacuation route.
  5. Don’t travel through flooded roadways. According to Tom Graziano of NOAA, “flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.”  Standing water on roadsides can be deceptive.  A car can be quickly carried away in only 2 feet of water.   Don’t succumb to this avoidable dilemma.  Turn around, don’t drown!
  6. Ensure your home is adequately covered for flood damage. Check out FloodSmart.gov for more information.

Parts of Texas and the Midwest are already experiencing torrential flooding.  Houston, TX declared a State of Emergency this weekend after a foot of rain fell on the city in a matter of hours.  Evacuations are currently taking place and search and rescue operations are in effect.

Communities along the Mississippi and Missouri River basins, parts of the southeastern U.S. from Alabama to North Carolina and low-lying areas in the Ohio River basin and the Tennessee and Cumberland River Valleys are also at risk.

NOAA announced a precipitation outlook for April through June warning of above-average precipitation for these additional areas:

  • Most of California
  • Southwest
  • Gulf Coast
  • Southeast

It is going to be a wet spring.  Prepare, be vigilant and stay safe.

 

Credits: Red Cross Flood Safety

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National Weather Service Already Has Chosen Names for 2014 Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Hurricane-photo-forwebFirst responders in coastal regions will help people prepare for the worst during National Hurricane Preparedness Week May 25 through June 3.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1st through November 30. The Eastern Pacific season is May 15th through November 30. The National Weather Service has already compiled a list of names for hurricanes and tropical storms anticipated for this season.

Based on records dating to 1950, a typical season has 12 tropical storms; about seven of those become raging hurricanes. Tropical storms have sustained winds of 39 mph or higher, becoming hurricanes when those winds reach 74 mph, producing enough power to wreck houses and flood neighborhoods.
USA Today reports that even the best forecasts can be wrong. In 2012, more than twice as many hurricanes formed than were predicted. The results were devastating for many U.S. homes and businesses.

The National Weather Service says prepare early for hurricane season,and prepare well:
“Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Your friends and family may not be together when disaster strikes. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children or parents are safe? You may have to evacuate or be confined to your home. What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off?”
The best advice includes acquiring an emergency preparedness kit containing items to help you and your family during a hurricane or tropical storm. Consider having more than one kit and storing those in different locations at your home or office. In addition, the National Weather Service advises:

Emergency Plans
• Protect yourself and family with a Family Emergency Plan for your residence
• Consider an Emergency Plan if you are away from home, such as at work
• Business owners should create a Workplace Emergency Plan
• Make sure that schools and daycare centers your children attend have School Emergency Plans
• Pet owners should plan to care for their animals with a special pet survival kit
• If you own a boat, prepare it for a coming storm or move it away from the coastal area

Be alert for evacuation guidelines from local authorities. It’s smart to keep a contact list of local resources including emergency management agencies, law enforcement, local hospitals and the American Red Cross.

The first ten names that the National Weather Service has chosen for 2014 hurricanes and tropical storms are: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias and Josephine.

Be prepared for any of them!

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Top Ten U.S. States for Tornadoes That Damage Homes, People and Property

Tornado-Destruction

March through August is tornado season in the United States, where some 1,000 tornadoes hit every year. Be prepared. Tornadoes are more powerful than any other storm: They can toss freight trains like toys and throw your house down the block.
If you live in one of the top ten tornado states identified in order below, be smart and prepare yourself and your family for unexpected disaster:

  1. Florida is hit by more tornadoes than any other state in the U.S. and, also, also by more severe thunderstorms than any state.
  2. Oklahoma is the heart of what meteorologists call Tornado Alley. Its weather patterns often make warm and cool air collide — ideal for creating tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms.
  3. Kansas is where a mammoth twister whisked Dorothy and her little dog Toto to Oz, but it’s also where thousands of people are caught unprepared for damaging storms every year.
  4. Iowa was clobbered by 28 tornadoes in 2013 and averages of about 50 damaging thunderstorms every year.
  5. Illinois experienced one of its deadliest years on record for tornadoes in 2013. Storms generated widespread flooding and cut power in more than 160,000 homes and businesses.
  6. Indiana ranks second in the nation for the costs of tornado damage, sixth for the number of deaths and seventh for the number of personal injuries.
  7. Mississippi averages 29 tornadoes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its coastal regions are hit by devastating hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
  8. Maryland ranks in the Tornado Top Ten because of its mid-south and Atlantic Ocean weather patterns generate many twisters and serious thunderstorms.
  9. Louisiana ranks second in the U.S. for the most thunderstorms annually and as a result, and averages 37 tornadoes per year.
  10. Texas averages 155 tornadoes per year – the most of any state — but its land mass is so large it ranks 10th in the U.S. per tornadoes every 10,000 square miles.
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Wild Weather Means Being Prepared for Anything

This is a funny time of year. From one day to the next, you aren’t sure if you will get rain, sunny skies, snow or tornadoes. Or all of the above.

Keeping up with the weather forecast can be exhausting in the early spring when it seems like a new season every few hours. The best way to go is to prepare for anything and everything.

Instead of preparing for a specific weather event, consider being prepared for severe weather in general. Create a basic survival kit and then add items for more specific weather events. You may find that most of the things you need will be useful no matter what kind of weather disaster you encounter.

For example, having water and food bars for your family is important no matter what happens. Have a supply in your home, in each vehicle and in your boat, as well as packed in with your camping gear.

Emergency lights, shelter and an emergency radio will serve you well in nearly any situation.

Some people shy away from the hurricane kit because they don’t live in an area prone to hurricanes. However, the supplies in that kit are useful in severe winter weather as well as in the case of a tornado. Personally, I feel everyone should own a hurricane kit as well as a survival kit.

When you browse the kits available, don’t just look at the name of the kit. Look at what that kit contains and how it can be put to use in a variety of situations.

photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via photopin cc

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Tornado Readiness Resources

It’s spring and that means we will probably be seeing an increase in tornado activity. Are you prepared to take shelter if a tornado is coming your way?

Go through the items in your emergency kit to be sure nothing is outdated and everything works properly. Make copies of important documents and put them in a zipper bag to keep in your emergency kit.

Be sure you have a weather radio in your home and in your vehicle so you can stay aware of weather alerts.

Brush up on safety procedures with your family. Here are some links with useful information:

Discovery.com shows us 5 Tornado Safety Myths Debunked. Knowing what is fact and what is fiction is essential to staying safe during a tornado.

Iowa State University has Tornado Safety Rules so you’ll know what to do if you’re at home, in a car, in a motel or in a mobile home.

Emergency preparedness organizations offer a Tornado Safety Checklist PDF that you can print off and keep handy. They also offer a Tornado Warning & Alert app for Android and iPhone. It provides you with step-by-step instructions, quizzes, and everything you need to know about tornado safety and preparedness.

The following video is great to share with the family so everyone understands Tornado Safety.

photo credit: therangonagin via photopin cc

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