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National Flood Safety Awareness Week

Next week, March 17 – 23, is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. You may not give flooding a lot of though, but if you get rain, you can get floods. That means you must be prepared for them.

FEMA will be offering lots of tips all week to help you get ready for the possibility of floods. I thought we’d kick things off early by showing you how devastating floods can really be.

Never drive on flooded roads. The water may not look deep, but that may be deceptive. And even just a few inches of water and carry your car into much deeper water.

And make sure you have an emergency kit for yourself and your pets.

photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey via photopin cc

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How Strong Is a Tornado?

Joplin tornado

After reading an article about the likelihood of a tornado taking Dorothy’s house to Oz, I started wondering how strong the average tornado really is.

The article concluded that, in order to move Dorothy’s house, the tornado would need to produce winds at least 334 miles per hour. A tornado like this would top the Enhanced Fujita Scale used to measure wind speeds of tornadoes.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale is as follows:

  • EF0 65-85 mph
  • EF1 86-110
  • EF2 111-135
  • EF3 136-165
  • EF4 166-200
  • EF5 more than 200 mph

According to an article in USA Today, the fastest wind speed ever recorded was 318 mph, from a tornado that hit Oklahoma City in 1999. The tornado that carried Dorothy away would have had to be inconceivably intense. After seeing how tornadoes of that strength devastated Joplin, Missouri in 2011, the idea of a house landing safely in one piece is far fetched to be sure. Still, it makes for a great story.

In an article on USTornadoes.com, it is stated that 20 states have experienced tornadoes in the EF5 category. They have a chart of strongest tornadoes by state from 1950 to 2011. Kansas, where Dorothy is from, has had 8 EF5 tornadoes in that time-frame.

The US sees around 1300 tornadoes a year, but the majority of them seem to be EF0 – EF2. And that is relatively good news, but still a concern. Tornadoes do a great deal of damage, even when they are “weak.”

Are tornadoes a big concern where you live? Even if an EF5 isn’t likely, 96% of the US has experienced strong tornadoes that are EF2 or higher, so it makes sense to be prepared for them. If you don’t have a suitable room in your home, or if you don’t have a basement, have you considered building a storm shelter?

Make sure you have an emergency survival bag and first aid kit close by so you are as prepared as possible for a tornado, no matter how strong it is. A search and rescue kit may be wise to have on hand as well. People are likely to need help after the dust settles.

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Spring Is Almost Here. Are you Ready for Floods?

spring flooding

While many of us are happily anticipating the arrival of spring, it is also important to be aware of the possibility of flooding. Flooding is one hazard that can occur anywhere and is the most common one across the country.

Heavy rains and melting snow saturate the ground until the water just can’t be absorbed anymore. Rivers, lakes and creeks are filled to overflowing, and the result is areas getting flooded. Sometimes flooding is minor, but often the results are devastating. Loss of life and property, sadly, are common.

There are a few things you can do to prepare for this type of disaster. Elevating the furnace and water heater may protect them from getting wet in a flood. Check valves can prevent floodwater from backing up into your home plumbing. Basement walls should be sealed with waterproofing materials.

If you know you live in a flood prone area, consider building barriers to keep floodwater out of your home. While this may not always be possible, if you are able to do it, it may help save your property from extensive damage.

Flood insurance is also a smart investment. Check out FloodSmart.gov to see how affordable it really is, as well as learning how much a flood could actually cost you with the Cost of Flooding tool.

Of course, as when you prepare for any type of disaster, you should have an emergency survival kit and a family emergency plan so everyone knows what to do when disaster strikes. The more prepared you are, the less you need to worry about the safety of your family.

photo credit: WalterPro4755 via photopin cc

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What Can You Do for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week?

severe weather preparedness

FEMA and NOAA have declared March 3-9 2013 to be National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Last year, severe weather resulted in over 450 deaths and 2600 injuries. Being prepared can help reduce these numbers.

What can you do?

First, know your risk. Learn what types of severe weather are possibilities where you live so you know what you need to prepare for.

Second, take action by creating a family emergency plan and having an emergency survival kit.

Finally, share what you have done with others including friends, family and coworkers. Spread the word about preparedness. It could save a life.

Are you prepared for the severe weather where you live?

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Winter Storms Bury the Midwest (video)

winter storm survival

Winter storms are still going strong, and we are again reminded how important it is to keep basic supplies on hand.

Check the batteries in all of your flashlights to be sure they will work when you need them. Better yet, get a solar/hand crank light so you don’t have to worry about batteries.

Also, be sure you have plenty of emergency food and water. If you are snowed in or stores are shut down because of the weather, you’ll be glad you have a back up.

photo credit: fatherspoon via photopin cc

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