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National Preparedness Month: When Natural Disasters Hit

Posted by Erin Lowry on Sep 10, 2018 2:20:25 PM

 

National Preparedness Month: When Natural Disasters Hit

September is National Preparedness Month, which is a yearly reminder of the importance of being prepared all year round.

It is important for you and your family to be prepared for situations that are common to your area, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, etc.

Being prepared and proactive, versus reactive can save lives and time.

By having an emergency list available at home, it can be easier for you to grab all items you may need in an emergency and it can help prevent you from forgetting anything important.

It is common for us to be the first to respond to our community when disasters take place, as it can take some time before first responders can get to the area and help out.

Learning more about warnings and disasters in your area can help you be prepared if anything does occur.

Natural Disasters

Many of us are fortunate enough to live in areas where multiple natural disasters do not occur, but we may still have one or two that can occur.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes are all common here in the U.S. but knowing what is specific to your areas can help you and your family prepare.

Hurricanes are common from Texas up to Maine and can move inward to states not directly near a coast, causing severe storms and rain.

Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island all suffer from hurricanes as their top natural disaster.

It is possible for the residual effects of hurricanes to reach the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

Tornadoes occur in more states across the U.S. than hurricanes, tornado alley resides in the middle of the U.S., covering part of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa.

Even if you do not reside in tornado alley, tornadoes can still occur anywhere else in the U.S. as long as weather conditions are right.

The states with tornadoes as their number one disaster are South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.

19/50 states suffer from tornadoes and their number one natural disaster, making tornadoes very important to prepare for.

Flooding is also very common throughout the U.S., affecting many states, but being the top natural disaster for 7 states.

Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, Montana, Idaho and Oregon all suffer from flooding more than any other natural disaster.

flooding near a home

Wildfires are known to affect dry states, normally in higher altitudes, such as Washington, Idaho (Idaho was tied for flooding and wildfires as its top natural disasters), Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska.

Though many of these states have snowfall at some point throughout the year, the summer months are very dry and hot, perfect conditions for a wildfire.

Earthquakes are common in almost every state, but normally do not get strong enough for us to feel the earthquake.

California, Nevada and Utah all deal with earthquakes as a top natural disaster in their state.

Less common natural disasters include blizzards, landslides, snowstorms and summer storms.

Blizzards are the top natural disaster for North Dakota, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

Landslides are the number one natural disasters for the state of Wyoming.

Snowstorms affect Delaware (like Idaho, Delaware has snowstorms and hurricanes tied for their top natural disaster), and Connecticut.

Summer storms are number one for Maine alone, though the state experiences many different types of severe weather throughout the year.

Being Prepared

When living in an area with any risk of disaster, it is important to be prepared for any event.

Starting off, having an emergency list that is easily accessible will allow you to easily gather items and leave.

The list we provided has all things you may possibly need in the event of a disaster.

We recommend going through the list and crossing off all items that may not apply to you, such as baby formula, if you do not have a baby.

Other items can be gathered before a last-minute disaster, such as a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, canned foods and local maps.

Any item that is not used every day, or that can last for a period of time (canned foods) should be packed away and put someone that anyone can access in your home.

Buying spare first aid kits for your home, car and emergency kit will prevent you from using items you may need in a natural disaster.

Some personal items may need to be grabbed last minute, such a medications, oxygen, money and family documents.

As you get older, your emergency list may change, adding in medications, and oxygen supply sources (concentrator, tank).

You may also want to inform your local fire department and electricity company that you are on oxygen and need to have your concentrator plugged in, they may try to restore your power faster and check on you and your home first.

It is also smart to be prepared with finances and insurance as well.

By having money saved up in case anything happens to your home or belongings, you will not feel a huge financial debt if something does occur.

You may also want to look into natural disaster insurance for your area, to see if there is a common purchased insurance that you may also want to get.

Natural Disaster Warnings

It is recommended to get at NOAA Weather Radio, as it continuously provides weather information and will let you know of any warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazards, such as national security, public safety and environmental warnings.

IPAWS or Integrated Pubic Alert Warning System is a national alert and warning system, provided by federal, state, local, tribal and territorial alert authorities can use IPAWS in a moment of emergency to quickly alert as many people as possible.

Here is a list of all current authority, as well as those who are in the process of becoming authorized to access the alert system.

Many of these IPAWS notifications will be via text message, through wireless providers who are a part of WEA (wireless emergency alerts).

As of  Monday, September 10th, 2018, IPAWS and WEA will be doing a test alert on Thursday, September 20th, 2018.

WEA will begin at 2:18 pm EDT and EAS (emergency alert system) will go off at 2:20 pm EDT, this will test the readiness of IPAWS and see if any improvements should be made.

EAS participants may also include radio, television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio, and television providers.

If a major weather event does occur September 20th, it will be rescheduled for Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018.

It is important to know your local warning signs and what to do in an event of a disaster, such as a tornado siren, or hiding in a doorway during an earthquake.

Look up your local civil defense siren sound and location to be fully prepared if one goes off.

If you need to evacuate your building, or hide in an interior room with no windows, you need to know what to do if a siren goes off near your home.

Make sure you listen to all local authorities and keep a weather radio on and with you at all times.

After you are okay to return to your home, make sure your neighbors, friends and family are okay and check on your home.

You may want to offer help if any home have been damaged and people are missing, but check with your local authorities to see how you can help before doing something on your own.

Hurricanes: If you are near a hurricane, or in the path of one, listen to your local emergency team and follow instructions, if you are told to evacuate, gather up everything you need and go far away from your home. If you choose to stay home, turn off electricity and make sure you are on the top floor of your home in case any flooding occurs. Wait until you get the all clear to return home.tornado

Tornadoes: If your tornado siren goes off, head to the basement or in an interior room without any windows. If you are outside, get out of your car and get into a low ditch. Wait until you hear an all clear siren or sound.

Floods: When the signs of a flood are near, start to prepare as best you can. Bring all exterior furniture in your home, keep all utilities (electricity gas) off. If you are warned to evacuate do so, but do not drive through or walk through any standing/moving water. Wait until the area has been cleared before you return or turn on any utilities.

Wildfires: When a wildfire occurs, it is important to evacuate if you can. If you are stuck in your home, keep sinks and bathtubs filled with cool water, keep all doors and windows closed but unlocked. Keep all vents closed and keep your air circulation system (air conditioner/heater) off. If you were able to evacuate wait until you are given the all clear to leave.

Earthquakes: If an earthquake occurs it is important to stay in a safe spot, either indoors or outdoors. If you are indoors, find a sturdy item to hide under, such as a table or desk, hold on until the shaking ends, if there is nothing for you to hide under, find a corner of the building and cover your head and face with your arms. If you are outside, stay away from all buildings, wires and streetlights, as the shaking stops stay away from buildings as they post a great risk after an earthquake.

Conclusion

Though a natural disaster can be terrifying, if you are prepared, it can be less terrifying, and you can feel like you have some control over the situation.

National Preparedness Month is a month for us to refresh on guidelines and update any emergency kits.

Always follow authority instruction and make sure you have a plan if any natural disaster is to occur near you and your home.

By preparing yourself for an emergency, you can make it easier on yourself and others to keep you safe and ready for anything that may happen.

 

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