On the front lines of California’s Rim Fire

August 31, 2013

rim-fire-nightfire-usfs-mike-mcmillan-smThe massive Rim Fire burning in and around California’s Yosemite National Park is now the largest U.S. wildfire in 2013 and currently the nation’s top priority as many residents remain evacuated as of Saturday morning (31-August).

As of Sat evening, Inciweb is reporting the Rim Fire is 222,777 acres and 40% contained with over 5,000 personnel battling the blazes, and officials are projecting they may have full containment by late September.

Unfortunately this beast is human-caused and, although investigators have not determined the official cause yet, a local Fire Chief has indicated it may be the result of illegal pot growers.

According to National Parks Service Fire and Aviation Mgmt, as many as 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from…

  • campfires left unattended
  • burning of debris
  • negligently discarded cigarettes
  • off-road vehicles
  • firearms + exploding targets
  • intentional acts of arson

The remaining 10% are started by lightning or lava. In addition, wildfires caused by lightning burn an average of 5.5 million acres annually.

Acreage burned comes from a variety of factors…

  • climate shift to a hotter, drier West after decades of cooler weather
  • pine beetle infestations that create more fuel to burn
  • decades of fire suppression

Even though it seems like much of the western U.S. is burning, the National Interagency Fire Center reports 34,388 fires have burned almost 3.8 million acres in the U.S. from January 1 – August 31, 2013 … which is well below the 10 year average of 54,072 fires that burned 6 million acres for this same time period.

Below are some amazing shots of the Rim Fire and the incredible Hotshots and firefighters working the front lines…


View From Pilot Peak Lookout / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan


The National Park Service (NPS) fire crew is helping to protect the Giant Sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, about 16 miles (26 km) west of Yosemite Village on Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park. Credit: USFS


Fire Crews construct fireline / Credit: USFS-Mike Mcmillan


Silver State IHC on South Flank / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan


Credit: USFS


Credit: USFS


Melted Power Meter / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

Please review and share some safety resources at Wildfire Mitigation tips

Stay safe and have a great weekend all! j & B

Creative ideas and projects for National Preparedness Month

August 26, 2013

npm2013-squareSeptember is National Preparedness Month (NPM or #NATLPREP) sponsored by the FEMA’s Ready Campaign.

Fedhealth is once again proud to be an NPM coalition member and we are encouraging businesses, organizations and families to take the pledge, join the team and help your community get better prepared for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

We’ve compiled some creative NPM projects and ideas that some other agencies and organizations are doing (or have done) in case these could benefit your preparedness campaigns.

A key goal is to come up with fun and educational ways to get kids and adults involved..!

30 Days, 30 Ways

logo-30days30ways30 Days, 30 Ways is a disaster preparedness game that started in 2010 by the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) in Vancouver, Washington.

Each September, during National Preparedness Month, they post one simple readiness task each day and a daily winner is selected from among the participants.

The CRESA team has incorporated in current trends, a variety of social media tools and some very cool themes for the Preparedness Challenge. Check out this year’s promo video below…

In the past, 30 Days, 30 Ways relied on community donated prizes which came in all shapes and sizes. This year, they want to reward players with Amazon Gift Cards which are easier to share across the globe and don’t require shipping costs to CRESA. If you’d like to help sponsor 30 Days, 30 Ways and be listed as a Game Sponsor for 2013, visit their GoFundMe campaign site between August 1-31, 2013.

Learn more about the 30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge at www.30days30ways.com or follow them on Facebook or Twitter @30days_30ways or #30days30ways.

Emergency Kit Cook-Off

logo-kitcookoffThe Emergency Kit Cook-Off is a National Preparedness Month activity inspired by the contents of the 72-hour emergency food kit; it asks you to vote on ingredients and then create a recipe using those ingredients.

In 2011, the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) partnered with the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale to design this unique cooking challenge. They have since teamed with additional partners, including the CDC Foundation and the CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Starting Monday, August 19, and during the next 2 weeks the public can vote for the Featured Ingredients for this year’s Emergency Kit Cook-Off. Help pick the 5 Featured Ingredients for this year’s Kit Cook-Off at www.emergencykitcookoff.org/ingredients

Voters select one ingredient from each of the five categories: protein; fruits and vegetables; starches, grains and nuts; beverages; and “comfort” foods. The Emergency Kit Cook-Off challenges you to:

  1. create a recipe that highlights at least one Featured Ingredient and uses only nonperishable pantry items, including (but not restricted to) seasonings, condiments, sweeteners and potable water. … AND …
  2. use manual appliances (e.g., can openers and hand whisks) instead of modern appliances (e.g., microwaves) where possible.

The KitCookOff team is not looking for gourmet cuisine, but they’re also not looking for simple peanut butter and crackers. Get creative and submit your recipes during National Preparedness Month or any time year-round. Learn more at www.emergencykitcookoff.org or follow Emergency Kit Cook-Off on Facebook or Twitter @KitCookOff or Pinterest

APHA Get Ready Preparedness Photo Contests

APHA-Thirsty CatAPHA’s Get Ready campaign helps Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.

In 2012 APHA held a Get Ready Preparedness Cats Photo Contest to coincide with National Preparedness Month as a fun to promote preparedness lessons.

They received over 200 photos and the judges selected 23 winning shots for their 2013 calendar. From cats in bathtubs and sinks to kitties hiding in boxes and under rugs, the photos show that preparedness and cats go hand in hand (or paw in paw)!

   APHA-hypnotic cat

Check out the 2012 winners in APHA’s cat photo gallery and download and print APHA’s 2013 calendar in PDF = Full size (images and months, on separate pages) .. or .. Small size (images and months on single page). And find more Get Ready Cats on Cheezburger

APHA’s 2013 Get Ready Pup Preparedness Photo Contest recently stopped taking submissions since they plan to announce winners during September National Preparedness Month. You can view some entries in their Dog Photo Gallery and check back in September when they post the winners! Learn more about APHA’s Get Ready Campaign at www.getreadyforflu.org or follow them on Twitter @GetReady

Fairfax Prepares: Prepare 30 Ways in 30 Days

logo-30-in-30-calendarFairfax County OEM‘s Prepare 30 Ways in 30 Days is utilizing a new social media tool called ThunderClap to help encourage preparedness and influence people via their social connections. Fairfax County Emergency Information’s blog explains… “while it’s often perceived as a huge effort, it’s the little things you can do that add up to being better prepared for any type of emergency. And preparedness should be year round, too! In that spirit, we offer these 30 ideas for you to consider in 30 days, 1 week or all in 1 day! Your dedication to preparing your home and family helps build a stronger, more resilient community.”

Learn more about Prepare 30 Ways in 30 Days and read a great post called “Social Pressure: Can it work for Disaster Preparedness?” on idisaster 2.0.

Disaster Kit photo contest

itunes-gift-cardSouthwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) is preparing for National Preparedness Month with a Disaster Kit photo contest. Youth (ages 8-18) in the eight-county district can participate by creating a disaster kit for their family, submitting a photo of themselves with the disaster kit, a list of supplies and an explanation of their kit. Four winners will be selected to receive a $50 iTunes gift card.

Find contest rules and entry form on www.swhealth.ne.gov and follow SWNPHD on Twitter @swpublichealth.

Use customized books as giveaways or fundraisers

IAD_custom_books-smFedHealth discounts our 266-page disaster preparedness and first aid manuals 50% to 75% off list (or as low as $3.50 US) so agencies, businesses, organizations and families can use them as gifts for employees, volunteers and local communities. And books (or CDs or flash drives) can be customized at no additional charge to include logos and special messages to recipients.

A great way for volunteers, schools and youth groups to participate in National Preparedness Month (and year-round) is to use our IT’S A DISASTER! book as a fundraiser while educating local communities.

Also, some Federal grants and budgets close out September 30th so if your agency or nonprofit has dollars that need to be spent before a deadline, consider using IT’S A DISASTER! books to commit those funds. The book qualifies as community education under most grants and provides almost a $4-to-$1 return on match.

Learn more about our book and programs or call Fedhealth at 520.907.2153.

Get Involved

If your agency, CERT, MRC, business, Church or group has not registered to be an NPM Coalition member, visit Ready.gov to learn more. Individuals are also encouraged to register since we all can make a difference by helping others get prepared. Also consider joining FEMA’s National Preparedness Community forum and download their 2013 NPM Toolkit.

Another way to support your community is to join a local Citizen Corps or CERT or Medical Reserve Corps … or call your local Emergency Management, Fire, Police, Health or Sheriff Department and ask about volunteer opportunities.

Or talk to your local Salvation Army or Red Cross office … and get involved!

Please share these ideas with others .. and .. if you’d like us to highlight your National Preparedness Month project, contest or event on our blog, email us an overview and/or link to info@fedhealth.net or call 520.907.2153. Stay safe, j & B

Cool but weird sea critters (and new Oceanographic channel coming to Wisecast TV)

August 23, 2013

Pink Sea-Through Fantasia sea cucumber Laurence Madin / Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionOur good friends at Wisecast TV are launching a new XPLORE Channel called “The Oceanographic”, a free 24-hour channel dedicated to showcasing the work and purposes of many organizations involved in oceanography and related ventures.

Wisecast TV’s new Oceanographic channel, sponsored in part by Fedhealth, will offer programming from dives and new technologies to studies of ocean dynamics that help satisfy underwater curiosities and empowers viewers to understand more about the ocean realm.

In honor of this channel, we wanted to share some cool and strange sea critters in today’s Friday Fotos segment.

lizard island octopus photo Julian Finn / Museum Victoria

Photo: Julian Finn / Museum Victoria via ScienceIllustrated

Back in 2010 scientists from 80 nations collaborated to assess the diversity and abundance of species in the world’s oceans, undertaking 540 expeditions and countless hours of research. The Census of Marine Life, which took over a decade to complete, contains observations on more than 120,000 marine species, from giant squid to 38,000 types of bacteria found in one litre of seawater. The above Lizard Island Octopus is just one striking specimen discovered at the Great Barrier Reef.

Blob sculpin Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Blobfish (Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center) via NatGeo

The blob sculpin’s name may not be flattering but it does capture a bit of the animal’s essence. The 2-foot-long (60-centimeter-long) fish is rather reclusive and not often seen, but blob sculpins have been known to dote on their young. Scientists have observed males guarding rocky seafloor nesting sites, filled with hundreds of pale pink eggs, in mile-deep waters off the California coast.

sharp-toothed pacu fish Photo: Henrik Carl

Photo: Henrik Carl via Latimes.com

A sharp-toothed pacu fish was recently caught in the Danish-Swedish strait of Oresund, putting swimmers on edge because of its resemblance to a piranha. But Scandinavian fish experts say this fish is a mostly vegetarian cousin of the piranha munching on fruits, nuts and the occasional fish or small invertebrate. But its human-like teeth are sharp enough to chomp through a fishing line or even a finger, according to a release put out by the university. They also have advised swimmers that if they do venture in the water they should “keep their pants on.”

sea critters-leafy-sea-dragon photo by DCL

Image Credit: DCL

Leafy Sea Dragon is one of the few sea creatures with its own built-in camouflage. The tiny fins that are used to propel our leafy friend forward are impossible to see, giving the illusion that you are merely watching some seaweed lazily float by. So the next time you see a chunk of seaweed … notice the beauty of it, yes. But also notice that you may just be witnessing one of the weirdest sea creatures in the world.

sea critters-banded piglet squid photo by seathos

Photo: Sea-Thos

The Banded Piglet squid swims “upside down” compared to other squid, leaving him resembling a Muppet with his tentacles as the hair, the syphon as the nose, and his patterning appearing to be a smile. These cute little guys live at least 100 m below the surface. Because of those incredible depths, it has to create its own light from the photophores underneath its eyes. Unfortunately, because it lives so far down, not much is known about its life cycle or eating habits.

See more strange sea creatures on Discovery Science, NatGeo and The Daily Green

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B

Mounting evidence shows Granite Mountain Hotshots never should have deployed

August 22, 2013

John Dougherty at InvestigativeMEDIA has written a fascinating in-depth article called “Yarnell Hill Fire: The Granite Mountain Hotshots Never Should’ve Been Deployed, Mounting Evidence Shows“. It’s a bit long but a detailed and worthy read that answers many questions about the tragic loss of our Arizona 19.

“We are going to hallowed ground,” says Jim Paxon, spokesman for the Arizona Forestry Division, moments before leading reporters and TV crews to the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in a June 30 wildfire.

“They are almost superhuman,” Paxon drawls to reporters gathered on the morning of July 23. “As we go up there, there’s a Granite Mountain Hotshots shirt on a cactus. We would ask that you touch the shirt … in reverence to the loss.”

Paxon chokes up and begins describing a fissure in a granite boulder forming a cross that flanks the site where the men were incinerated by a mammoth, manzanita-fueled blowtorch. Among wildland firefighters, the oily plant is well known for its explosive characteristics. The fire was so hot that it caused some of the granite boulders to crack. Continue reading on InvestigativeMEDIA.com

Perseid fireballs are peaking soon (esp Aug 12-13, 2013)

August 9, 2013

perseids fireball NASAWe are fortunate enough to live in a “dark skies” community so we see amazing objects in our night skies like meteors, the Milky Way, the Big and Small Dippers, International Space Station and satellite fly-bys, and much more.

This weekend stargazers will be treated to the annual Perseid (per-see’-id) meteor shower that can be seen with the naked eye (in other words, no telescope required!)

According to NASA, the Perseid meteor shower comes from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in early- to mid-August, Earth passes through a cloud of dust sputtered off the comet as it approaches the sun.

Bill Cooke and his team at of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office have been tracking fireball activity since 2008, and they have built up a database of hundreds of events to analyze. The data point to the Perseids as the ‘fireball champion’ of annual meteor showers.

Since 2008, the Perseids have produced more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The Geminids are a close second, but they are not as bright as the Perseids. "The average peak magnitude for a Perseid observed by our cameras is -2.7; for the Geminids, it is -2," explains Bill Cooke. "So on average, Geminid fireballs are about a magnitude fainter than those in the Perseids."

Since 2008, the Perseids have produced more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The Geminids are a close second, but they are not as bright as the Perseids, according to Bill Cooke at NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

Although the fireball action runs from mid-July to mid-August, Space.com reports the peak activity will be on the nights of August 12 and 13 between the hours of 10:30 PM to 4:30 AM local time.  Before midnight the meteor rate will start out low, then will increase as the night wears on, peaking before sunrise when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky.

The Perseid meteor rate from dark-sky sites could top 100 per hour during peak so get as far away from city lights as possible to enjoy the magical light show.

We hope you enjoy today’s Friday Fotos and NASA’s ScienceCast Perseid Fireballs video (also below) and check out some links at the bottom to learn more.

perseid meteor shower david kingham photography

Credit: David Kingham/DavidKinghamPhotography via Space.com

perseids nasa sciencecast

perseids nasa sciencecast

Above 2 photos are screenshots from below NASA video

Also check out a breathtaking photo of a Perseid meteor during an aurora … and learn more about meteors, astroids and other events in the night skies at http://science.nasa.gov or www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch or www.space.com .

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B

What can you get for a nickel these days… that matters?! (Fundraiser ideas + examples)

August 5, 2013

This originally appeared in our June 2013 enews but modified a bit.

iad_custom_books2.jpgWe have written about our ad / sponsorship program before but we wanted to share some numbers and examples that might just boggle your mind.

These ideas may help volunteers and groups partner with local businesses to purchase custom books … plus help them raise funds!


Fedhealth bundles bulk jobs together several times a year so agencies, businesses and groups can get customized IT’S A DISASTER! books for employees, volunteers, customers and local communities. (As fyi, we have to bundle jobs so we can print 20,000 or more at a time to offer such deep discounts.)

Keep in mind we discount our 266-page disaster preparedness and basic first aid manuals up to 75% off list (or as low as $3.50 U.S. each) … and we customize them in the print process on 1,000 unit (or larger) quantities at NO additional charge.

You can change the entire outside cover (including the book title) and the first 12 pages can be customized (in color now) with your contact information, evacuation routes, marketing data, advertisements and sponsorship messages from local partners and more. (The 266-page books are all the same after first 12 pages – see some samples.)  

And, if needed, a 16, 32 or 48-page full color glossy insert can be added in books for an upcharge (so up to 60 customizable pages) creating a very substantial reference manual that can be personalized for employees, customers or local communities.

In smaller quantities and on rush orders we can customize our “standard” red books with free peel and stick labels. It’s not as cool as a custom book, but it allows volunteer groups, nonprofits, agencies, schools and businesses to personalize books for their recipients.


Many agencies and volunteer groups want to purchase IT’S A DISASTER! books for local volunteers and citizens, but they don’t have any money in their limited budgets. Plus nonprofits, schools and First Responders are always looking for ways to raise money.

So ~ a creative way to get local businesses involved is to sell advertisements or acknowledge sponsorship inside books (or eBooks) … and Fedhealth will print the ads and other data for FREE and throw the value in as “match” on your paperwork.

Groups can collect anything you can for ads or sponsorship … take cash, lines of credit, barter or trade (whatever you can get) … and keep it all since Fedhealth prints them for free..!

We’re flexible on ad layouts since some may want to do a list of sponsors while another wants to offer quarter, half or full page ads. The below examples just use ¼-page ads for simplicity.

ad-samples-4-square-labelExample #1: Say a CERT or Scout troop wants to purchase 100 red books but has no money so collects $50 for 1/4 page ad on 3 large stickers…

Businesses buy 12 1/4-page ads: $50/ad x 4 ads/label x 3 labels = $600 collected

Cost for 100 books is $350 + freight = about $420

Total money leftover for CERT or Scouts = $180+ … and more funds could be raised by asking for more per ad or doing a 4th sticker.

NOTE: A $50 4-color ad is only 50 cents per book into 100 homes.

Example #2: Nonprofit or Agency wants 1,000 custom books but has no funds so collects $100 for 1/4 page ad…

Businesses buy 40 1/4-page color ads: $100/ad x 4 ads/pg x 10 pgs = $4,000

Cost for 1,000 books is $3,500 + freight = about $4,000

And more funds could be raised by collecting more per ad or offering premium placement on outside color covers, inside covers, etc.

NOTE: A $100 ad is only 10 cents per book that goes into 1,000 homes.

ad samples 4 square color2Example #3: A Region or nonprofit wants 20,000 custom books with a 48-page color glossy insert upgrade (total of 60 custom pages) and collects $1,000 for 1/4 page ad…

Sell 48 pgs of 1/4-pg ads: $1,000/ad x 4 ads/pg x 48 pgs = $192,000

Cost for 20,000 336-pg books @ $5.50 ea (includes freight) = $110,000

Total funds leftover for Region or nonprofit = $82,000 … and more funds could be raised by collecting more per ad or offering premium placement on outside covers, inside covers, use some more color pages for ads, etc.

NOTE: A $1,000 ad is only 5 cents per book that goes into 20,000 homes..!! 

nickel (or a dime or 5) per book is a great deal for advertisers and the ads can help generate excitement and participation in the community since it helps people save money on supplies and day-to-day goods and services. Plus the leftover funds can be used by groups doing the project to help fund their efforts!!

As always, we are completely open to ANY idea that gets this data into the public’s hands and helps our country “be aware, be prepared and have a plan”!

Please call Fedhealth at 520.907.2153 to discuss your needs or to request a free information kit … or download a free 56-page ebook portion of our book and learn more at fedhealth.net. 

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