Information and tips about NOAA Weather Radios

August 28, 2012

NOAA Weather RadioA critical tool every family and business should have in the home, kits and office are battery (or hand crank) radios so you can receive news and updates during an emergency. But another tool to consider is a weather radio.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts, and other non-weather related hazard information 24 hours a day.

During an emergency, NWS sends a special tone that activates weather radios in the listening area. Weather radios equipped with a special alarm tone feature can sound an alert and give you immediate information about a life-threatening situation.

NOAA Weather RadioNOAA Weather Radios are found in most electronics stores and departments and cost about $25 – $100. Some features to consider are alarm tone, battery backup, and “Specific Area Message Encoding” (SAME) programming.

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards – weather (blizzards, thunderstorms, etc.), natural (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes), technological (chemical or oil spills, nuclear power plant emergencies, etc.), and national emergencies.

NOAA collaborates with other Federal agencies and the FCC’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) to issue non-weather related emergency messages including the issuance of “AmberAlerts”.

Options for those with Special Needs

NOAA Weather Radio offers nonverbal information imbedded in its broadcasts to provide timely, critical warnings of life threatening events to the hearing impaired. Some receivers are equipped with special output connectors that activate alerting devices such as vibrators, bed shakers, pillow vibrators, strobe lights and other alerting systems. Visit www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/info/shhh.html for more information.

Programming Your NOAA Weather Radio

If you purchase a Weather Radio receiver with “Specific Area Message Encoding”, you should program it with coding for your area. By doing so, you can limit the alerts which will trigger your weather radio to only those affecting your warning area.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions to program your receiver using the six-digit SAME code(s) for the warning areas of interest to you.

For more about NOAA Weather Radios visit www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/


Hurricane Preparedness tips (Before the storm hits)

August 23, 2012

By now you’ve probably heard Tropical Storm Isaac is churning in the Caribbean and may strengthen into a hurricane that could impact Florida and other Gulf coast states in the coming days.

Although 2012 has been a fairly quiet hurricane season so far, the Atlantic basin has seen 9 named storms, including 3 hurricanes, and the Pacific basin has seen 5 storms, 4 of which became hurricanes.

Keep in mind the storm season officially starts June 1 and runs through November 30, but August and September historically have been the peak activity months. For example, in 2010 and 2011, 12 named storms occurred in August and September both years. And it doesn’t take a hurricane to create havoc since tropical storms and depressions can bring torrential rains, tornadoes and flooding to coastlines and hundreds of miles inland.

Hurricane Ike

Did you know…

…according to IBHS, more than half of the nation’s population now lives within 50 miles of the coast and the majority of properties there are exposed to the threat of hurricanes?!

…the 2005 U.S. season broke records with 27 named storms (previous record was 21 in 1933) and 15 hurricanes (previous record was 12 in 1969)?! The National Hurricane Center states this cycle could last 10-20 more years similar to the above-average activity from the 1940s through the 1960s.

…Hurricane Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first one to do so since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008?!

9 out of 10 hurricane deaths are due to storm surge (a rise in the sea level caused by strong winds). Storm surges can get up to 20 feet high and 50 to 100 miles wide!

Some things to think about and do to prepare for the storms…

  • Have a plan, map out several evacuation routes, and make disaster supplies kits for your home and vehicles. (And consider making kits for your office too.) And get some Weather radios with battery backup and tone-alert feature.
  • Make arrangements for pets since shelters may not allow them. If you have horses or livestock, make a plan for an alternate site in case they must be evacuated.
  • Videotape or take pictures of home and personal belongings and store chips/cards/drives with important papers in a secure, safe place offsite.
  • Consider getting flood insurance (and keep in mind it may take 30+ days to take effect). Learn more at www.floodsmart.gov
  • Strengthen weak spots on home — Roof: Install truss bracing or gable end bracing; anchors, clips and straps, etc. Windows & Doors: Get storm shutters or keep plywood on hand; install reinforced bolt kitsor doors, etc. Garage doors: Some retrofit kits install horizontal bracing onto each panel.
  • wind damage from Hurricane AndrewSecure / anchor mobile homes with tie-down systems.
  • Secure or tie down loose stuff like patio furniture, barbeque grills, water heaters, garbage cans, bookcases and shelving, etc. Loose items can become like missiles during high winds or tornadoes.
  • Keep materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves. Call your local emergency management agency to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves — ask local utilities for instructions.
  • Listen to local authorities for warnings, evacuation tips and instructions, etc.

Download some FREE topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book about Evacuations, Flooding, Hurricanes and more … and please share the information with others.

Additional Resources:

National Hurricane Center

Ready.gov Hurricanes page

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Hurricane page

FEMA’s mobile Web  or  free app


West Nile Virus: Signs, symptoms and prevention tips

August 21, 2012

West Nile Virus signs, symptoms and prevention tipsWest Nile virus (WNV) is making headlines again due to recent outbreaks around the country.

WNV is primarily spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds. But realize, out of 700+ species of mosquitoes in the U.S.(and 74 species in Canada), very few – less than 1% – become infected with WNV.

A vast majority of people (4 out of 5) infected with WNV won’t show any symptoms at all. For those that do, the virus usually causes fever, aches and general discomfort.

Severe cases can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis), inflammation of the brain itself (encephalitis) or a polio-like syndrome that can result in loss of function of one or more limbs (WN poliomyelitis or acute flaccid paralysis). These conditions can be life-altering or fatal.

People of all ages could develop serious health effects, but seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

Things to watch for…

(Most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)

Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache, sick to stomach (nausea) and body aches

Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands

Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • There is no “cure” other than a body fighting off the virus naturally – mainly just watch symptoms.
  • Consider boosting immune system to help fight virus (like taking astragalus, Vitamin C, garlic, mushrooms, zinc, good multiple vitamin + mineral supplement, etc. – but check with doctor if taking prescription medications).
  • If mild symptoms appear, keep watching person for a few weeks in case symptoms get worse.
  • If severe symptoms appear, get medical attention quickly since it could become deadly.

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active but realize mosquitoes can bite anytime (including throughout the night).
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) — the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around your yard and home since they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. For example, drill a hole in tire swings so water drains out and dump water out of kiddie pools, buckets, flower pots and other items esp. after rainstorms. And change out water in pet dishes often and bird baths weekly.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Download more first aid and disaster preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER!… book here

Additional Resources:

CDC’s West Nile page  www.cdc.gov/westnile

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases  www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Diseases  www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/

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