Lightning Strikes

Protecting Your Home From Lightning Strikes

Lightning Strikes: Are You Protected and Can You Do More

First, let’s talk about your home. If you have a lightning protection system, it must be designed to provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the current generated from the lightning strike.

If installed correctly a protection system neither attracts nor repels, it merely protects in the event of a lightning strike. A proper system will route the charge into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical current.

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Tornado Season

Springtime Means Dangerous Weather Is a Possibility

Spring arrives every year and along with the warmer weather comes the possibility of dangerous weather to include flooding.

A Few Facts

Floods are one of the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, and more than half of all flood victims were in a vehicle that was swept away by floodwaters.

Being Prepared

If you have moved to another state or even to another area of your state, make sure you know what natural disasters you can expect. Do your research so you can prepare, because being prepared and staying informed can save your life.

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wildfire

Preparing For and Escaping From a Wildfire

People are building homes now in very remote areas that in many cases are woodland settings. This is particularly true of those people that want to live off grid or homestead away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas.

However, while you are enjoying your solitude and living a self-reliant life a very real danger is lurking. That danger is a wildfire. Often time’s the fires go unnoticed at first, and thus are allowed to spread quickly. A wildfire is not something you prepare for as it is happening. You have to be prepared well in advance to protect yourself and home and to escape the inferno if necessary.

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Earthquake Preparedness: It Is Never Too Late To Start

Earthquake Preparedness

According to the United States Geological Society (USGS), close to 2 million earthquakes occur every year in the world. However, some of the quakes are so slight that they are not detectable without sophisticated equipment.

It may seem like earthquakes are occurring more often, but better detection equipment and the fact people are living in more remote areas may create this belief. Earthquakes of course occur in regions that are not populated and so they do go undetected, unless there is seismic detection equipment located in the area (USGS, 2014).

Typically, earthquakes will occur along the edge of the oceanic and continental plates but of course, they can essentially occur anywhere. They strike without notice, and depending on the magnitude, the destruction can be devastating resulting in loss of life and extensive property damage.

Those living near a coastal region can also experience a tsunami because of an earthquake. Large tidal waves caused by earthquakes can destroy entire towns and cities creating untold damage to the coastal regions. Normally there is some notice of a pending tsunami but you cannot rely on being notified.

  • Stay inside the home or building when an earthquake occurs. People are killed and injured by falling debris from buildings, from downed live power lines and from sinkholes in the streets. People also become injured from trying to evacuate buildings during an earthquake.
  • Never enter any damaged building with a lit candle because of possible gas leaks.
  • Monitor for tsunami warnings and evacuate as soon as the possibility of one becomes clear

To determine your risk for an earthquake visit the following: https://www.fema.gov/earthquake/earthquake-hazard-maps

Prepping Your Home for an Earthquake

Hazards from an earthquake can include mud/landslides, tsunamis, collapsing structures, falling trees and light poles/street signs, collapsing tunnels and overpasses, sinkholes in streets and from fires and explosions because of ruptured gas lines and from damage to electrical wiring. These mentioned of course are not the only hazards but they are the typical ones.

Inside your home, you can be hurt from the structure collapsing, from falling dressers, mirrors wall mounted televisions, brick or stone fireplaces, appliances that tip over, falling dishes/pots and pans out of cupboards and from falling canned goods, and from fires occurring because of gas leaks or from damaged wiring.

In areas where earthquakes occur in this country, commercial and private structures must meet certain standards so the structure can withstand a certain magnitude earthquake. This does not mean however that your home or commercial structure will not receive damage but the likelihood of the entire structure collapsing down upon you is dramatically lessened.

In countries where the infrastructure is poor or non-existent and there are no building codes the death toll from earthquakes is considerably higher.

Check with the local code enforcement and/or city-building inspectors to determine if your home is up to code. Even though it may not seem like it, inside of your home during and immediately after an earthquake is the safest place.

Getting Started

First, you need a safe room that everyone gathers in when an earthquake occurs. The room should have a load-bearing wall (s). What is a load-bearing wall? A load-bearing wall (or bearing wall) is a wall that bears a load resting upon it by conducting its weight to a foundation structure.

You will need a stout table to get under for protection from falling debris, and the table can be pushed up against the load-bearing wall. The room should be big enough so if there is a fireplace you can be far enough away from it so any falling brick or stone would not pose a threat.

Televisions should be anchored to the wall if they are on a stand and in many cases, they will come with a strap so you can anchor them to a stud. Wall mounted televisions are not recommended nor are hanging chandeliers. Emergency supplies should be kept in the room for immediate use. You can also store football or bicycle helmets for children and adults for head protection.

1.) It is important that you know how to shut off the main supply of gas to the home. If an earthquake occurs, you want to stop the gas from flowing into the home and leaking through ruptured gas lines running to the appliances.

You can also have special gas valves installed on your meter that will automatically shut off if there is a tremor. The shut off valves are sometimes called “earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves” and in some counties or cities, the valves may be required.

If you do not have an automatic shutoff valve, you can use a pipe wrench or adjustable Crescent Wrench.

2.) Shut off the main breaker that supplies electricity to the entire home.

3.) Use metal or suitable nylon straps to anchor your hot water tank to wall studs to prevent tip over which can cause injury and water damage. Additionally the hot water tank could be a source of emergency water so protect the source.

4.) Upright refrigerator/freezers must be strapped to the wall studs to prevent tip over. Washers, dryers, and dishwashers typically would not pose a threat. However, stackable washers and dryers would pose a threat so make sure they are anchored properly. Microwaves mounted over the stove as well as wall-mounted ovens could pose a threat, so make sure they are anchored to the studs as well.

5.) Dish cupboards should have solid doors with latches that would prevent the dishes from spilling out. Pot and pan racks must be anchored properly as well.

6.) Pay particular attention to bedrooms. You do not want any object falling on a sleeping person. Bureaus/dressers and armoires must be far enough away from the bed or anchored properly. Televisions must be anchored and any wall-mounted televisions must be far enough way so if they do fall they do not strike the bed. The same applies to any brick or stone fireplaces.

7.) Sideboards or curio cabinets must be anchored to wall studs, and the cabinets should have latches that prevent the doors from falling open.

9.) Surprising enough even builders will at times only anchor overhead lights to the sheetrock if it is ½ sheetrock. You need to make sure any overhead lighting is anchored to the ceiling joists and this means you will have to get into the attic to check. You can nail a 2×4 between the joists to anchor any ceiling lights to or use metal banding designed specifically for this purpose.

10.) Keep all hazardous/toxic chemical on the lowest shelf in the home.  In the garage at floor, level inside a metal cabinet with a latch on the door is the recommended storage method. Spilled chemicals can cause death or injury to those inside the home.

Emergency Supplies

As with any crisis there are certain items you will need regardless of the calamity so your home preparedness kit will have what you need, with possibly a few exceptions.

  • You may need crowbars, firefighter axes, handsaws and sledgehammers for extraction from damaged building or for rescue operations
  • Head mounted battery operated lights and remember any flame can cause an explosion from leaking gas
  • Heavy rope such as climbing rope for extraction and rescue
  • Heavy brooms and shovels for cleanup as well as large rubbish barrels
  • Quality respirators because there will be airborne contaminates in the air from insulation, plaster, sheetrock and so on, as well as, contaminates from spilled chemicals

Sources:

USGS. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/eqstats.php

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Flood Street

Stay or Evacuate When Flooding Is Likely

Deciding to evacuate or “flee” as some call it or to stay and “weather the storm” may be one of the more difficult decisions you make during a crisis.

Fleeing to some may be akin to surrendering but fleeing is evacuating from a dangerous situation to save your life and it must be planned for otherwise you will not be ready when it is necessary. Not knowing how and when to decide can have dire consequences, because at some point it may be too late to leave.

Convincing yourself, you would never leave your home and possessions during a flood means you probably have not prepared for the possibility. According to a U.S. National Weather Service study using a national 30-year average, more people die yearly in floods, which is 127 on average, than by lightning (73), tornadoes (65), or hurricanes (16) (National Weather Service, n.d.).

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Tornado Season

Tornado Season You Should Already Be Prepared

The facts are tornadoes cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries in the U.S. each year.  Tornadoes can have rotating winds of more than 250 mph. Tornadoes can be a mile wide in some instances and some have stayed on the ground for over 50 miles (Missouri Storm Aware).

  • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction
  • “Tornado Alley” is a nickname given to an area in the southern plains of the central U.S. that regularly experiences a high number of tornadoes each year
  • Tornadoes in this area typically happen in late spring and sporadically in the early fall
  • Tornados typically follow a severe thunderstorm
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Winter Freeze Can Lead To Springtime Floods

Frozen river

Winter Warms Ups Can Cause Serious Water Damage and Flooding

Warmer weather can bring flooding to some areas of the country because of rapidly melting snows and ice jams on local rivers. Melting snow piled up along roadways will also cause the water to pool on the highway creating a driving hazard. Additionally, colder temperatures at night will create ice on the highways.

Winters always create hazards to life and limb but it appears that this year the hazards are compounded by heavier snows, colder than normal temperature and then rapid changes in the temperature.

You may not have received a significant amount of snow in your area but local rivers and waterways are affected by events miles upstream. Even if the local rivers are not frozen over, they can be frozen upstream.

The ice can jam at any point along its journey as it thaws and breaks up and begins floating loose. Ice jams at narrower points in the river can cause significant overland flooding in some areas. It is important to stay informed so you can react before rising floodwaters reach your community. Flooding can of course wash away bridges and highways leaving you stranded in your own neighborhood.

Things You Can Do Now

Make sure any storm drains or culverts that you have access to or are on your property are kept free of debris. Piled up leaves, sticks and gravel can cause storm drains/culverts to back up and flood the surrounding area.

Make sure your sump pumps are in working order because even if the local rivers do not rise the ground water can rise from melting snow and rains and this can flood your basement.

Be careful of accumulated snow on your roof. Accumulation of snow over the season can cause a roof to collapse and then there is the danger of snow and ice sliding off the roof and striking people or damaging vehicles. Snow guards designed to prevent snow/ice slides can easily be overwhelmed by heavier than expected snowfalls.

Use caution when using snow racks to remove snow from roofs because of overhead power lines. It is not recommend that you climb onto your roof to remove snow because of the additional weight and the possibility of falling.

Melting snow will cause water runoff and if gutters and drain spouts are clogged the water can backup under the roofing material and cause damage to your roof decking and ultimately the interior of your home. Water backed up in gutters that freezes can cause damage to your roof that may not be evident until the ice thaws.

Rising Rivers

Have a plan before you need one. Once you see water rising along the streets is not the time to begin planning for evacuation or to begin preparing your home.

Water can rise rapidly with little warning, especially if ice and water overwhelms a levee or dam causing either one to rupture. Slowly rising water is of course easier to deal with than a burst dam or levee. In either scenario however, thinking ahead can save your life.

If you live near a dam or levee, know what is happening upstream so you can make informed decisions and evacuate early. It is better to evacuate and not have any thing happen then to stay and face an onslaught of rushing water.

Make sure you have emergency supplies packed and ready. If you evacuate you should take your supplies with you because it may be several days before emergency shelters and disaster relief are operational. Local shelters may not have any supplies at the ready and because of the flooding; they may not be operational at all.

Your supplies must be packed so they can be easily carried and you can even place them in your vehicle well before the thought of evacuation arises. Water, food, medicines, blankets and clothing will be priorities as well as a means of communication.

Have all your important paper work packed so it can be easily carried with you. You will need this paperwork to file for any disaster relief or even to re-enter your neighborhood because of curfews. The local authorities in some cases verify the identity of people before allowing them back into certain areas to help prevent looting.

A life jacket for each family member is also recommended. If you have pets make sure, you have prepared an evacuation kit for them as well, that includes food, blankets/bedding, medicines and water.

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Sleep Deprivation in a Survival Situation

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation simply put is a condition where you do not receive enough sleep. Many of you may naturally believe you never get enough sleep, but sleep deprivation in the extreme can mean the difference between surviving and not in some situations. Poor sleeping habits are not the same as being totally deprived of sleep however.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

  • Hallucinations,
  • Confusion
  • Loss of memory
  • Hand tremors
  • Headaches
  • Increases in blood pressure
  • Elevated stress hormone levels
  • Extreme irritability

The complete absence of sleep over an extended period is impossible for humans. People will fall asleep while driving, working with dangerous machinery and at other times where attentiveness is paramount to your survival.

Your body will simply cause you to fall asleep unless there is a medical condition that prevents you from sleeping. You will essentially “pass out” once you have been deprived of sleep for an extended period.

Lack of sleep will affect the brain and cognitive functions making it impossible to make rational decisions if you can make any at all.

Depriving a person of sleep has been used as an interrogation method and is considered torture by many. Typically, a person is kept awake for days by playing loud music, with random and constant interruptions, harsh lighting and forcing a person to stand, sit or kneel in positions not conducive to sleeping.

Sleep Deprivation While Lost or Stranded

The darkness is made for sleeping and you as a human have an internal clock that tells you when it is time to sleep based on the position of the sun. It does not matter whether the sun is visible or not, you could be in a sealed room and your body still tracks the cycle.

Along with the darkness come dangers, colder temperatures and possibly worst of all, fear of the unknown. This causes some not to be able to sleep, especially if you find yourself lost or stranded in the wilderness. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors took to the trees and caves when it became dark as a way of protecting themselves from predators that call the night their own.

This is one-reason humans feel an overwhelming desire for shelter at night and even with shelter, many find they cannot sleep because of real or perceived dangers. Our mind tells us danger lurks in the dark and even though well sheltered, the fear keeps people awake.

If you are not sleeping at night in a survival situation this means you will be sleeping during the day when you should be performing life sustaining tasks like hunting, shelter building or maintenance and collecting safe water, none of these tasks can be performed at night safely or effectively.

Some medical experts claim that a lack of sleep (between 17 and 22 hours) can have the same effect on the body as having an alcohol level of .05 to .08 percent. This adds new meaning to the term “drunken stupor” (BMJ).

Lack of sleep means you may be making bad decisions that can have life altering consequences. You can develop hypothermia or become dehydrated and not be aware of it because of your lack of mental acuity. Not knowing something is wrong or dangerous means you are not taking actions to correct the situation.

You are likely to become incapable of putting things into the proper perspective and you will lack the ability to take appropriate actions that will save your life.

Using an axe or knife or working around water or near cliffs or drop offs can cause you serious harm if you are fighting sleep.

Sleep Is an Important Survival Skill

If you cannot master sleep, you may not survive. The reasons why you cannot sleep are complex but as stated earlier it may have much to do with fear of what is there in the darkness, or simply very uncomfortable sleeping conditions. The reasons for lack of sleep when it is dark out can be reduced if not eliminated with a little common sense and some sensible preparations before setting out on your outdoor adventure.

The need for shelter is not only instinctive it is vital, and thus the location is important to help reduce the fear of predators and those dangerous and not so dangerous creatures that crawl along the ground. Humans simply cannot rest peacefully when they imagine things may begin crawling all over them. Some things that crawl can be dangerous, so it is important to address these issues before sleeping.

Elevated sleeping platforms can reduce the fear and the reality of crawling insects or reptiles invading your sleeping space. It will not eliminate them but knowing you are somewhat shielded has a great psychological effect. Make your shelter predator proof by using stout saplings or thorn bushes or thistles.

Predators want the easy meals and humans have never been an easy or even a desirable meal for most predators. People are killed by predators but rarely because the animal wanted to dine. Mostly people are in the way of the predator, have invaded their hunting grounds or the animal fears a person is a threat to their offspring. Make it difficult for the predators and they may very well look elsewhere.

Fire is a savior not only for practical reasons but for psychological ones as well. Knowing fire will repel insects and predators alike will go along ways toward a better night’s sleep than you normally would expect.

Adequate shelter is why being prepared for any situation is important. You must have good shelter material with you and the tools to build one from materials in your environment.

Stay hydrated and nourished for a better night’s sleep as well. Food is not always available even if you think the woods is teeming with game, so it is important that your survival pack have at least a 72-hour supply. If you think you have three days worth, you can ration it to last up to six or seven days, never ration your water though.

Sleep deprivation can be fatal in a survival situation so it is important you are aware of the effects. You need to be prepared by having the knowledge and skill sets along with the supplies and materials needed to ensure you can get a good night’s sleep in any environment.

As some of you may already know in today’s world a good night sleep can be anything but natural and you may actually have to work at it to achieve the much-needed sleep.

 

BMJ. (n.d.). Retrieved 2014, from http://www.bmj.com/

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Hurricane Eye

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricanes can be tracked by satellite and experts can predict when and where they will make landfall with a great deal of accuracy. This means you have time to evacuate, but it does not necessarily mean you have time to prepare so you can “ride out the storm”. Preparations should be an ongoing endeavor in the months leading up to hurricane season.

In the days, leading up to the disaster is not the time to try to stockpile enough food and water, and to get your home ready.

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Surviving a Blizzard in a Car

Blizzards are usually forecasted well in advance but actual snowfall amounts and the impact the storm cannot be predicted with any accuracy. The experts are not able to predict precise snowfall amounts because a slight wind change or temperature increase can move the storm or alter the storms severity. This can cause an area to be blanketed in snow where the prediction was only for a mere dusting. The area where the storm was predicted to be the heaviest may receive the dusting. After this happens a few times, people tend to not believe and sometimes outright ignore the warnings, and thus do not properly prepare. Being prepared is especially important when you have to commute by vehicle in the winter months and preparations become even more important if you are planning an extended road trip.

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