Be Bear Aware (black and grizzly bear safety tips)

July 15, 2017

A recent bear encounter story reminded us of an article we contributed to PREPARE Magazine years ago with black and grizzly bear safety tips using data from the U.S. Forest Service and a great organization called Be Bear Aware.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, black bears can be found across most of North America, whereas grizzly / brown bears are found in the northwestern states, Alaska and western Canada.

Both black and grizzly/brown bears may visit areas of human use because they find or smell food. Food can include unsecured garbage, birdseed, pet food, fruit trees and some gardens.

Drought, wildfire and urban development can cause bears to roam farther in search of new food sources. Young bears sometimes travel long distances in search of an area not already occupied by another bear.

Black bear versus The Grizzly

Black bears are the smallest of the North American bears and live in almost every part of the continent. But don’t let their name fool you since their fur can be black, various shades of brown, or blond. There is even one race that is smoky-blue and another race is pure white. But most black bears have long, black hair over most of its body with a splash of white on their chests.

BeBearAware.org explains Alaskan brown bear and the grizzly bear are recognized as separate species although mammologists generally agree they are one and the same animal. Bear experts admit they are unable to tell the animals apart, but one distinct difference is Alaskan brown bears are huge, formidable animals that may weigh as much as 1,500 pounds while large grizzlies can tip the scales at a top weight of about 800 pounds.

 

Black bear:

  • Colors include black, brown, blond, cinnamon, and rust. The most common snout color is light brown and some rare face colors are blue and white.
  • Average weight in the West is 100 – 300 pounds, with males usually larger than females. Males may weigh up to 400 or more pounds, with some as large as 800 pounds!
  • Height is 2.5 – 3 feet at the shoulder when standing on all fours and 5 feet standing upright.
  • Rump is higher than front shoulders; it does not have a shoulder hump/muscle.
  • Face profile is straight; muzzle is long.
  • Ears may be long and prominent.
  • Front claws are less than 2 inches long, dark colored, sharp, curved, and good for climbing. Claw marks do not always show in tracks.

 

Grizzly Bear:

  • Color varies from blond to black. Often medium- to dark-brown legs, hump, and underparts with light-tipped (grizzled) fur on head and upper body.
  • Average weight is 500 pounds for males and 350 for females. Males may weigh up to 800 pounds. (Note: Alaskan brown bears may weigh as much as 1,500 pounds.)
  • Average height is 3.5 – 4 feet at shoulder when on all fours, and 6 –7 feet when standing upright.
  • Distinctive shoulder hump is actually muscle mass that enables powerful digging.
  • Rump is lower than shoulder hump.
  • A dished-in profile between eyes and end of snout helps distinguish grizzlies from black bears.
  • Ears are round and proportionately small.
  • Front claws are 2 – 4 inches long, usually light colored.

 

Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets

Most conflicts with black bears are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage or bird feeders. They raid dumpsters, garbage cans and grills looking for an easy meal. They might enter a building by walking on automatic doormats or breaking screen doors and windows to look for food they smell.

Although uncommon, black bear attacks on humans occasionally occur, especially in areas where they come into frequent contact with hunters or people and their game or food. Grizzly attacks (although rare) happen but usually it is because humans wander into their territories while hiking, bear watching, camping or hunting.

If you are camping, hiking, fishing or hunting in bear country it is critical to store your food, toiletries, bait, fish or game, and garbage properly at all times. And make sure you learn the local regulations for the area you visiting.

 

What Should I Do If I See a Bear?

  • Remain calm and avoid sudden movements.
  • If you see a bear but the bear doesn’t see you, detour quickly and quietly.
  • Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. If you are far enough and a safe distance away, enjoy the view but stay aware. If a bear changes its behavior, it is warning you so back away immediately.
  • If a bear spots you, you want it to know you’re human so talk in a normal voice, group together and back away. Try not to show fear. Bears use all their senses to try to identify what you are.
  • Remember that a standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many times, bears will stand to get a better view of what it smells and hears.
  • Do not turn around and try to run from it. This will excite the bear. It can easily outrun you since they can run faster than 30 mph.
  • If a bear starts to approach, and you have bear spray, prepare to use it, if necessary, preferably before the bear is within twenty-five feet. Direct spray downwards (using one or both hands) since the cloud will billow up.

 

If a Black Bear Charges…

  • Throw something onto the ground (like a camera or a hat, bandanna or handkerchief) if the bear pursues you, as it may be distracted by this and allow you to escape.
  • Be loud, group together, stand your ground and, if necessary, use your bear spray creating a barrier between you and the bear.
  • If it makes or is about to make contact, fight back vigorously using any object you have like rocks, sticks, hiking poles, binoculars or bare hands or use your bear spray.

 

If a Grizzly Bear Charges and Makes Contact…

  • Play dead, lying on your stomach, clasp your hands behind your neck, and use your elbows and toes to avoid being rolled over. If the bear does roll you over, try to keep rolling until you land back on your stomach.
  • Remain still and try not to struggle or scream.
  • Once the bear backs off, stay quiet and still for as long as you can. Do not move until you are absolutely sure the bear has left the area.

 

To prevent further problems: 

If you live in bear country, take responsibility for not attracting them. Always work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem situation, and keep in mind that doing a combination of things is better than doing just one.

  • Be aware that human behaviors, such as feeding other animals, can attract bears.
  • Feed your pets inside or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
  • Remove garbage regularly or keep in secure buildings.
  • Remove other enticing food sources, such as birdseed, hummingbird feed (sweet liquid), fruit from trees or shrubs located near buildings.
  • Remove brush and cover around homes and corrals, creating a 50-yard barrier.
  • Fences, lighting and dogs have not been found to be effective, long-term deterrents. Bears are good climbers, so to reduce a bear’s ability to get over a fence, it should be at least 6 feet tall and constructed of non-climbable material.

To learn more visit www.bebearaware.org

 

Our above article originally appeared in PREPARE Magazine’s Oct 2013 digital issue. Learn how to subscribe to PREPARE Magazine’s digital and print magazine at www.preparemag.com.

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Join REMS TA Center #PrepareAthonForSchools Twitter Chats July 27 and August 31, 2017

July 11, 2017

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center (REMS TA Center) will be hosting 2 preparedness Twitter chats featuring stories, lessons learned, and key resources from states, localities, and additional Federal partners.

The 2017 topics include:

  • July 27: Engaging Family and Community in Back to School Preparedness
  • August 31: National Preparedness Month Preview

Here is how you can participate:

  • Follow @remstacenter on Twitter. They will start posting chat questions at 3:00 p.m. ET on each of the dates listed above.
  • Tweet your responses to questions live on Twitter using the 140-character count format.
  • Share information about the #PrepareAthonForSchools Twitter chats with your followers in advance. REMS TA Center suggests using the following tweet:  Join @remstacenter for monthly #PrepareAthonForSchools chat series through August to discuss #emergencypreparedness .
  • If you cannot participate live, read and contribute anytime on Twitter by searching #PrepareAthonForSchools.

Both July and August Twitter chats will be held from 3p to 4p EDT and share this post with others to help spread the word.


Need to spend FY2017 dollars by June 30? Buy custom (or red) preparedness books

June 1, 2017

If you or any agencies, businesses or nonprofits you know would like a customized version of our 266page disaster preparedness and first aid manual, we are doing a large bundled print late June 2017 for July delivery.

Our IT’S A DISASTER! bulk price is only $4.50 U.S. each (70% off list) and we customize them for free either in the print process on 1,000 units & up or with peel & stick labels on 10 copies & up.

We bundle 1,000 unit & up custom jobs together and the entire cover and title can be changed, and the first 12 pages can be personalized with local data, maps, reporting-in procedures, etc. in full color on glossy paper.

You can also add 48 to 288 extra full color glossy customizable pages for an upcharge and FSC can help manage a revenue sharing project for your agency, group and community.

Please note, if you have limited (or year-end) funds and just need a small quantity of books (10 copies & up), we can supply you with our standard red books and free labels. And we can ship red books within 24 hours of your order anytime so you don’t have to wait for a custom print.

Learn how to order books (or our ebook in PDF) or call Fedhealth at 520-907-2153


Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips (excerpt from our It’s A Disaster! book)

May 18, 2017

Did you know fire kills more Americans every year than all natural disasters combined? At least 80% of all fire deaths occur in residences — and careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. And cooking fires (leaving food unattended or human error) is the leading cause of home fires.

Fire spreads so quickly there is NO time to grab valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes a fire can become life threatening! In five minutes a house can be engulfed in flames.

A fire’s heat and smoke are more dangerous than the actual flames since you can burn your lungs by inhaling the super-hot air. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you drowsy and disoriented (confused). Instead of being awakened by a fire, you could fall into a deeper sleep.

 

BEFORE A FIRE (FIRE SAFETY TIPS):

Install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors! – Test alarms 1-4 times a month, replace batteries once a year, and get new units every 10 years.

Make a plan – Create an Escape Plan that includes two escape routes from every room in the house and walk through the routes with your entire family. Also…

  • Make sure your windows are not nailed or painted shut.
  • Make sure security bars on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside…and teach everyone how to open them!
  • Teach everyone how to stay LOW to floor (air is safer).
  • Pick a spot to meet after escaping fire (meeting place).

Clean up – Keep storage areas clean – don’t stack up newspapers & trash.

Check power sources – Check electrical wiring and extension cords — don’t overload cords or outlets. Make sure there are no exposed wires anywhere and make sure wiring doesn’t touch home insulation.

Use caution – Never use gasoline or similar liquids indoors and never smoke around flammable liquids!

Check heat sources – Check furnaces, stoves, cracked or rusty furnace parts, and chimneys. Always be careful with space heaters and keep them at least 3 feet (1 m) away from flammable materials.

Know how to shut off power – Know where the circuit breaker box and gas valve is and how to turn them off, if necessary. (And always have a gas company rep turn on a main gas line.)

Install A-B-Cs and remember P-A-S-S – Install A-B-C fire extinguishers in the home since they work on all types of fires, and teach family members how to use them. Remember P-A-S-S = Pull the pin; Aim at the base of the fire; Squeeze the trigger; Sweep side to side.

Call local fire – Ask local fire department if they will inspect your home or business for fire safety and prevention.

Teach kids – Explain to children that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys… and if they see someone playing with fire they should tell an adult right away! And teach them how to report a fire and when to call 9-1-1.

Prevent common fires – Pay attention when cooking & don’t smoke in bed!

 

DURING A FIRE:

If only a small fire that’s not spreading too fast…

Try to put out…? – Use a fire extinguisher or water (unless it’s an electrical or grease fire) … and never try to put out a fire that’s getting out of control!

  • electrical fire – never use water… use a fire extinguisher approved for electrical fires
  • oil or grease fire in kitchen – smother fire with baking soda or salt (or, if burning in pan or skillet, carefully put a lid over it — but don’t try to carry pan outside!)

If fire is spreading…

GET OUT – DO NOT take time to try to grab anything except your family members! Once outside, do NOT try to go back in (even for pets) – let the firemen do it! Ask a neighbor to call fire department if not already called.

GET DOWN – Stay low to the ground under smoke by crawling on your hands and knees or squat down and walk like a duck… but keep moving to find a way out!

Closed door – Using the back of your hand (not your palm) always feel the top of the door, doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame before you open a closed door!

  • if door is cool – leave quickly, close door behind you and crawl to an exit
  • if door is hot – DO NOT open it … find another way out

No way out – If you can’t find a way out of the room you’re trapped in (door is hot and too high to jump) then hang a white or light-colored sheet, towel or shirt outside a window to alert firemen.

Use stairs – Never take the elevator during a fire … always use stairs!

If YOU are on fire – If your clothes ever catch fire, STOP what you’re doing, DROP to the ground, cover your face and ROLL until the fire goes out. Running only makes the fire burn faster!

Toxic gas – Plastics in household goods create deadly fumes when burned.

 

AFTER A FIRE:

Don’t go in there – Never enter a fire-damaged building until officials say it’s okay and watch for signs of smoke in case the fire isn’t totally out. Even if a fire’s out, hydrogen cyanide and other toxic fumes can remain.

Utilities – Have an electrician check your household wiring before you turn the power back on and DO NOT try to reconnect any utilities yourself!

Damage – Look for structural damage (roof, walls, floors, etc.) since they may be weak.

Call for help – Local disaster relief service (Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) can help provide shelter, food, or personal items that were destroyed.

Insurance – Call your insurance agent or representative and…

  • Keep receipts of all clean-up and repair costs (for both insurance and income taxes).
  • Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken by your insurance company.

If you rent – Contact your landlord since it is the owner’s responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.

Move your stuff – Secure your personal belongings or move them to another location, if possible.

Above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book ~ learn how to order our paperback and/or ebook for 70% to 80% off list

And learn more about fire safety and fire prevention visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s site www.usfa.fema.gov or contact your local fire department, emergency official, or your insurance agent / representative.


Learn about Building a Safe Room (FEMA Webinar 22-May-2017 2p EDT)

May 16, 2017

FEMA’s Building Science Branch is hosting a one-hour webinar on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 2 p.m. EDT to provide consumer and construction guidance for residential and small business safe rooms.

Participants will use the 2014 publication, “FEMA P-320 Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business,” as resource to learn about background on FEMA safe rooms, new guidance, and revised construction plans.

Those interested in participating in the webinar can register online.

The following topics will be addressed:

  • assessing the need for safe rooms;
  • planning for safe rooms;
  • consumer guidance;
  • how to use the FEMA P-320 construction plans;
  • and safe room tools and resources.

Webinar participants will receive a Certificate of Completion indicating one Professional Development Hour for those who wish to self-report for professional licensure. Register for FEMA’s webinar

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Drug Safety for First Responders (new USFRA group shares safety data about carfentanil, fentanyl, etc)

May 7, 2017

by Janet Liebsch – USFRA Executive VP and Fedhealth VP

In 2016 the U.S. First Responders Association shared a few safety posts and warnings to members and the public about carfentanil and fentanyl, however we recently shared a photo (seen here) with a warning to responders about carfentanil on a USFRA facebook post and it reached over 4 million people in less than a week!

Thousands of replies on the post were all over the map, and unfortunately many commenters went off topic since it was a public post with over 33,000+ shares, so people (a vast majority were not first responders) were arguing and debating overdoses, the war on drugs, rehab and more. There were also some great questions and posts from professionals in the field.

The main point of the post is warning medics, police and firefighters if they find drugs on a patient to be extremely careful when handling them since carfentanil recently landed 2 first responders in the hospital from inhaling dust while closing a ziploc bag a patient had. And the vials compare the potential lethal amounts of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.

Responders have been dealing with fentanyl for years, and carfentanil–a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals–started appearing in OD cases last summer. But carfentanil is really spreading across the country now since it is being cut into street drugs and/or sold as heroin creating a deadly nightmare for public safety, first responder, medical, treatment, and laboratory personnel.

For those not familiar with carfentanil, it is a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin.

The lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is unknown; however, since it is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, it could be lethal at the 200-microgram to 2-milligram range, depending on route of administration and other factors. Some U.S. and Canadian officials even say just 20 micrograms of carfentanil could be lethal.

With overdose cases increasing exponentially and so many questions and concerns from responders to our 4/30 post, USFRA setup a new group called “Drug Safety for First Responders” where we are sharing information and safety data about fentanyl, carfentanil and other drugs ~ especially as it relates to scene and personal safety.

Many fentanyl-related compounds are lethal and could be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Law enforcement, Fire/EMS, health professionals and volunteers on-scene and at receiving facilities (e.g. hospitals, jails, etc.) should learn about these dangers and carefully follow safety protocols to avoid accidental exposure.

Some examples of articles posted the first week include:

DEA warnings to first responders about carfentanil and fentanyl (Post includes information from DEA’s official alert from late 2016 about the lethal dangers of these synthetic opioids plus has some on-scene safety tips for responding personnel)

K9s teams be on alert for fentanyl and carfentanil during searches (Article discusses how K-9 teams must be vigilant anytime they arrive on scene of a drug related and/or overdose call (and even when searching suspects) ~ esp. since deadly synthetic opioids are being cut into heroin, cocaine, etc. Drug dogs could be exposed to fentanyl and carfentanil by inhalation or absorbed through their paw pads. Agencies are starting to carry Narcan to treat a suffering K-9 before symptoms get out of control.)

“Gray death” combo drug includes heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700 … and Columbus first responders prepare for new drug called Gray Death (These 2 posts discuss a new and dangerous drug combination called “gray death” found so far in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. It’s a combination of several opioids including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700, it looks like concrete mix, and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.) and

Please use this Drug Safety for First Responders group (and other USFRA networks and forums) to share safety tips, protocols, articles and other discussions and experiences from the field. Members and visitors are welcome to read and share articles, events, classifieds and more on our site, and follow USFRA on Facebook and Twitter.

Bill and I encourage all responders and volunteers to join the U.S. First Responders Association at www.usfra.org and invite your friends and colleagues too.

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CDC Blast Injury mobile application (free iPhone or iPad app for first responders)

April 29, 2017

The CDC Blast Injury app supports pre-hospital and hospital healthcare providers and public health professionals in preparing for and responding to terrorist bombings and other mass casualty explosive events.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can use the application to:

  • Quickly review critical steps to take from the moment an event happens.
  • Learn blast injury patterns and treatment considerations.
  • Scan information efficiently with minimal effort on the way to or at a scene and grasp clinical guidance to support key job functions.
  • Access medical surge capacity guidance including information on facilitating health systems emergency communication.
  • Find special populations treatment considerations (e.g., women who are pregnant, children)
  • Link to the full breadth of CDC’s resources on blast injuries and mass casualty explosive events.

The CDC Blast Injury app for iPhone or iPad is available for free on iTunes


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