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Experts Predict Extreme Winter for Much of U.S. – “Prepare for the Worst”

Snow covered neighborhood

Snow covered neighborhood

Forecasters predict that ice and snow in winter 2015-16 will hit hard across much of the United States dumping blizzards down upon major U.S. cities, including areas normally not impacted by icy cold. Weather experts are advising people to prepare for the worst that nature can deliver this winter season. These predictions are surely sending shivers through those who survived one of the worst winters to ever hit the East Coast last year.

Few people can forget winter’s icy bombshell totaling 100 inches of snow in Boston in early 2015, or the seven feet of snow that crippled Buffalo, New York in December 2014. Thousands of homeowners and motorists feared for their lives when they were stranded, and hundreds of thousands were without power for days. For those of us last year who only experienced the snow and extreme cold via our television sets, we might not be so lucky this year. Forecasters are predicting ice and snow will impact much of the United States this winter.

What signs are pointing towards this being one of the worst recorded winters in history? The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a venerable publication founded in 1792 and North America’s oldest continuously published periodical, has traditionally been used by farmers and forecasters to determine a baseline for the year’s weather. This winter’s predictions call for above-normal snow and below-normal temperatures for New England, icy conditions in parts of the South and frigid weather in the Midwest. Snowiest periods in the Pacific Northwest will begin as early as mid-December.

The presence of El Niño is also causing forecasters to prompt warnings of a colder than usual winter season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that this year’s El Niño is among the strongest on record. El Niño will influence this winter’s weather and climate patterns by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player,” NOAA reports. “Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.” Unpredictability until a few days before a really bad blizzard hits is one reason why experts are advising people to prepare for the worst and the potential of being stranded in their homes or vehicles.

How do you plan for the worst?

The American Red Cross and Quake Kare recommend that preparing for severe winter weather (snow, ice and extreme cold), at a minimum, should include having at hand the basic supplies below. These should be kept both in your home and your vehicle.

Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Flashlights
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radios
• Extra batteries
• First aid kits
• Baby supplies, including food and diapers
• Pet supplies, including food and water
• Basic medications and medical items
Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Emergency blanket
• Maps of the area

Remember, the best way to stay safe in severe winter weather is to monitor your local forecast, stock your home with emergency supplies and stay home when the roads are slick. Only go out if absolutely necessary and make sure you have a basic car survival kit with you. Stay safe and warm this winter season!

For expert advice, contact Quake Kare toll-free at 1 800 2Prepare (1-800-277-3727).

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Earthquakes are No Laughing Matter, but People keep Joking

earthquake

• What do cows produce in an earthquake? A milkshake!
• What did the ground say to the earthquake? You crack me up!
• What’s the status of a nuclear reactor after an earthquake? Not cool.
• What is an earthquake’s favorite song? “Shake, Rattle and Roll!”
• What do people say when a building collapses in San Francisco? “It’s San Andreas’ Fault!”

Jokes like those have been around since the San Francisco earthquake killed more than 3,000 people on April 16, 1906 — or perhaps even since 1769, when the California’s first earthquake was recorded by the expedition led by Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Spanish colonial province. But earthquakes are no laughing matter.
California experiences more quakes than in any other state. Yet many Californians don’t feel at risk unless they live near the state’s well-known San Andreas Fault or the Hayward Fault.

That misconception gives millions of Californians a false sense of security. The truth is most people in California live within 20 miles of a major fault. Earthquakes affecting people and property can occur at any time, anywhere.

Southern California alone has about 10,000 earthquakes a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to be felt. Hundreds are greater than magnitude 3.0, and about 20 a year are greater than magnitude 4.0. A big earthquake and its aftershock can produce more earthquakes of all magnitudes for months.
That’s why authorities in California are taking steps to ensure that citizens are educated and prepared for any earthquake disaster. April is “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.” Municipal agencies, schools and businesses are conducting readiness seminars, earthquake drills and other activities for “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.”
The state’s most recent big earthquake – 6.0 in magnitude — occurred in the Napa Valley of northern California on August 24, 2014, just eight months ago. It injured hundreds of people, wrecked homes and commercial property, disabled utility power for tens of thousands of residents and, overall, impacted more than 175,000 people. The estimated economic loss: More than $1 billion, according to the USGS.

Major earthquakes with magnitudes between 6.3 and 8.3 have occurred in California every 5.4 years on average for the last 200 years. Where will the next one strike? Nobody knows.

That’s why the American Red Cross and other agencies advise Californians and people in any at-risk earthquake zone, such as Missouri, Alaska, Nevada and Washington, to prepare with these precautions:

  • Keep an earthquake survival kit in your home, car and place of work with food, portable lights, emergency radio, packaged food, water and medical supplies.
  • Brace bookshelves and filing cabinets at work and home against the wall.
  • Be aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all buildings you occupy regularly.
  • Pick safe places in your home, workplace or school, such as under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid basements.
  • Practice “drop, cover and hold” to protect yourself. Kids and seniors should do the same.
  • If you don’t have something sturdy to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench for that purpose.
  • If you are in bed during an earthquake, stay there. Curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
  • Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit.
  • Use stairs rather than an elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
  • If you are outside when the earth starts shaking:
  • Drop to the ground. Stay put until the shaking stops — away from buildings, power lines, trees and streetlights.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines. Stay inside with your seatbelt on until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes!

 

Brian Houser of Quake Kare Points out, ““A recent earthquake in La Habra in Los Angeles County measured a magnitude of 5.1 and caused more than 100 aftershocks that were felt for days.
“California is a leader in disaster response and recovery capabilities, but firemen, police and other first responders can’t do everything by themselves to help ensure public safety in an earthquake or other emergency.
“Every citizen, every business and every organization needs to take steps to be prepared when disaster hits and not just for earthquakes but for floods, tornadoes and potential acts of terrorism,” Houser says.
“In today’s world, we must be prepared for any unexpected disaster. No matter where we live, there’s potential for catastrophe, whether natural or manmade. The best advice is to prepare yourself and your family with the best tools and precautionary procedures to stay as safe as possible.
“Have a survival kit, make a plan and stay informed. Being prepared can save your life!”

For tips on building your own earthquake survival kit, visit  http://www.quakekare.com/earthquake.html

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With Her Car Trapped in Blizzard: It felt like I was underground, buried in a casket

Driving at night in a blizzard, a woman accidentally slid her small car into a snow bank. Then a passing snowplow totally buried her vehicle. She couldn’t open the doors. No one could see her. Trapped, she thought she would die.  Hours ticked by silently. Frantically, she rolled down a window and pushed a snow brush upward. She cleared a space to wave it.  Time and again she waved the brush, paused for a few minutes, and then waved it again hoping someone would see it. After 13 hours, someone finally did.

Every winter, hundreds of people are trapped in their cars by blizzards. Many die alone. Tens of thousands are trapped in homes, apartments or offices with no power.
New England’s blizzard of December 2015 affected 28 million people. In Boston, at least 30,000 people were trapped in homes or offices without heat or electricity for days.
What can you do? Here’s expert advice:

When Trapped in a Vehicle:

  • Always drive with a nearly full gas tank in case road travel slows or you get stranded.
  • Keep a survival kit in your vehicle: Blankets, non-perishable food, water, flashlight with spare batteries, doses of any essential medications, a first aid kit, hand-warmers, whistle, snow shovel, ice scraper and jumper cables.
  • Keep your cell phone charged to call for help, but use minimally to conserve batteries.
  • If stuck in snow, tie something brightly colored to your antenna to signal that you need help. Blow the whistle from your emergency kit.
  • Stay in the car. Although cold and claustrophobic, it’s safer than being outside.
  • Avoid deadly buildup of carbon monoxide by cracking windows to let fresh air in and prevent poisoning.
  • Run the engine for 15 minutes every hour to keep the vehicle warm and help melt ice and snow.
  • Leave on the dome light to see inside the vehicle and help people find you.
  • Avoid frostbite. Keep your circulation up by moving fingers, toes and wiggling in your seat.
  • Share body heat. If stranded with other passengers, huddle to keep warm.

When Trapped in Home or Office with No Power:

  • Turn off all light and appliances, especially anything with a heat element such as an electric range, an iron or toaster oven to prevent a fire when power is restored.
  • Keep one light on to know when power returns.
  • Don’t plug a portable generator into a wall outlet. The generator will feed electricity through the meter and out into the neighborhood, causing severe safety hazards.
  • Operate any portable generators outdoors, but before operating disconnect from the local power company system.
  • If using a portable generator, make sure appliances are plugged directly into the generator.
  • Choose a small room with few windows as your emergency living quarters. Keep windows, drapes and doors closed. Wear several layers of clothes and a hat.
  • Conserve water.
  • If you use a portable heater that burns liquid fuel, open a window for safe ventilation.
  • Keep an eye on elderly family members or children who may need assistance.

Wishing everyone a safe and warm winter season.

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Blizzard Alert: Can You Survive Being Trapped In Your Car or Home This Winter?

 

Snow covered neighborhood

Snow covered neighborhood

 

Being trapped at home or stranded in a car without food, water or heat during a blizzard affects thousands of people every winter. It is a frightening, life-threatening experience.

The blizzard that dumped seven feet of snow in 24 hours on Buffalo, New York, in November 2014, causing at least 13 deaths, including people trapped in homes and cars, is a reminder that it is time to prepare for winter’s cruelty. Frigid temperatures and severe snowstorms are forecasted for many parts of the U.S.

The Buffalo storm caused thousands of power outages and trapped people inside homes as heavy snow buildup overwhelmed houses and wiped out utility services. It also stranded more than150 cars and trucks for nearly two days in frigid conditions. Hundreds more drivers were stranded on local streets as snowfall rates of 3-5 inches per hour made roads impassable, media reported.

The death toll of people who died in cars included a man trapped in his car more than 24 hours under a 15-foot snowdrift. He was driving home from work but pulled over in “white-out” driving conditions. When he called 911, dispatchers told him authorities couldn’t help.

Above-Normal Snowfalls Expected
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a traditionally 80 percent accurate winter forecast record and predicts that the winter of 2014-2015 will feature another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall across much of the U.S. and that extreme weather will continue into summer, 2015.  “Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” said Editor Janice Stillman. “Think of it as refriger-nation.”  Other forecasters predict that the South will see ice again this winter, including Atlanta, Birmingham and Memphis. An active jet stream is expected to create severe weather events in January and February.

WSI, a unit of The Weather Company that owns The Weather Channel, predicts that winter’s chill will be more focused on the East Coast and Gulf Coast. The forecast through February, 2015, is based on an analysis of large-scale factors in the land-ocean-atmosphere system.

One factor is the presence or absence of El Nino — an area of warmer-than-average water in the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator. WSI expects a weak to moderate El Nino to emerge over the winter months and potentially persist into the spring. This means that extreme weather and storm conditions will prevail.

Prepare to Survive the Worst
Authorities advise citizens, motorists, schools, businesses, churches and shelters to prepare for potential winter emergencies including entrapment by a blizzard or power outages.
The American Red Cross recommends that preparing for a blizzard, at minimum, should include having these basic supplies at hand. These should be kept at home, in a car, or both:
• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Flashlights
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radios
• Extra batteries
• First aid kits
• Baby supplies, including food and diapers
• Pet supplies, including food and water
• Basic medications and medical items
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Emergency blanket
• Maps of the area

Quake Kare offers custom-packed and pre-packed emergency survival kits for cars, homes, offices, schools and other applications including choices of hundreds of supplies shipped in self-contained portable containers for easy access.  These include non-perishable food, water, first aid kits, hand-crank power radios, light sticks, candles, waterproof matches, ponchos, multi-purpose knives, portable toilets, blankets, tissue packs and emergency tents and other items to help people survive virtually any disaster.  http://www.quakekare.com/car-survival-kits-c-1_3.html 

For expert advice, contact Quake Kare toll-free at 1 800 2Prepare (1-800-277-3727).

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Is Your Child’s School or College Prepared for Disaster Lockdown?

SCHOOL LOCKERSIf child or loved one is heading for school this year, can you really be confident they’ll be safe in their classroom or dorm room if a deranged gunman appears or other disaster occurs?  At least 74 school shootings have occurred since December 2012, when an assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut left 20 children and six school staff dead, along with the shooter, Adam Lanza, and his mother.

The sad fact is that unexpected school shootings average about once a week in the U.S.  No school is totally safe. Shootings have occurred at elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, universities and trade schools in every type of neighborhood.  In many cases the schools were locked-down by authorities for the duration of the disaster, trapping students in classrooms without protection, communications, provisions or restroom access.

When a Los Angeles Unified School District officer was shot by his car near a school, authorities sealed off a seven mile radius and nearby schools locked-down, trapping 9,000 students and teachers in classrooms for hours without relief until the all-clear finally occurred.

More than 20 states today require lockdown or similar types of drills and 30 states require schools to have broader emergency plans, according to a recent New York Times article.
While many colleges and schools are prepared for unforeseen disaster, including shootings, tornadoes and earthquakes with emergency plans and disaster supplies in place, most schools are not, or not as prepared as they want to be.

Put simply: Every school should do their best to keep students as safe as possible. The American Red Cross recommends that schools be prepared for disaster with, at a minimum, the basic supplies listed below:
• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Flashlights
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radios
• Extra batteries
• First aid kits
• Basic medications and medical items
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Emergency blanket
• Maps of the area

If your child or a loved one is heading for college or attending school this year, can you really be confident they’ll be safe in their classroom or dorm room or apartment if a deranged shooter tries to take control, or other disaster occurs?

Are you assured that emergency preparedness kits that include portable toilets, medical supplies, water and provisions will be available in every classroom and dorm room to help your loved one endure any disaster?

If not, it may be best to provide your loved one with a “back to school” emergency survival kit equipped with everything they need to help ensure their safety. It is better to be prepared than not when disaster arises .

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