Tornadoes 101 (tornado basics, videos and safety resources)

March 9, 2019

Most of us have seen a tornado on the news and the Internet, but a vast majority of people have never personally witnessed the power and destruction of a twister.

The U.S. averages about 1,300 tornadoes a year and Canada is ranked #2 in volume of tornadoes (averaging about 80 per year) with several high risk areas mostly in central provinces. Nearly 3/4 of the world’s tornadoes occur in the U.S. annually with a majority of them touching down in “tornado alley” across the central U. S.

But keep in mind tornadoes can occur anywhere in the U.S. — with sightings in all 50 states — and across every continent except Antarctica.

Did you know…

  • even though the National Weather Service (formerly called the Weather Bureau) has been tracking storms since 1870 … they were not allowed to use the word tornado in its forecasts for fear of panic until 1950..?!
  • According to NOAA, 2004 had a record 1,817 tornado reports in the U.S.
  • In 1974, during a 21-hour period, 148 tornadoes ripped through 13 states and 1 province between Alabama and Ontario, Canada killing 315 people.
  • Tornadoes can last for several seconds or more than an hour, but most last less than 10 minutes.
  • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer, but tornadoes can happen at any time of the year. Also, tornadoes can also happen at any time of day or night, but most tornadoes occur between 4–9 p.m.
  • The 1925 Tri-State Tornado rode a straight-line path for 3.5 hours across 219 miles of Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, making it the longest single tornado track anywhere in the world. With a mile-wide diameter it looked wider than it was tall and caused 695 deaths — a U.S. record for a single tornado — and injured thousands.
  • A waterspout is a tornado over water but isn’t recorded until it hits land.
  • The force of a tornado can strip asphalt chunks off roads, rip clothes off people and pluck feathers off chickens.

 

Tornado basics

tornado photo by noaaAccording to the National Severe Storms Laboratory tornadoes are rare and unpredictable, but NSSL admits experts don’t fully understand how tornadoes form.

Basically a tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric storms.

The most destructive and deadly tornadoes occur from supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms with a well-defined radar circulation called a mesocyclone. (Supercells can also produce damaging hail, severe non-tornadic winds, unusually frequent lightning, and flash floods.) Tornado formation is believed to be dictated mainly by things which happen on the storm scale, in and around the mesocyclone.

Learn more in below 2 educational videos and scroll down to find some free safety information about tornadoes and other severe weather topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book and other resources.

Anatomy of a Tornado by TWC’s Jim Cantore from 2015…

 

This 2018 video by Cantore and TWC is longer but takes you inside a storm like you’ve never seen before with amazing graphics…


Safety Information

Download and share some free topics from our IT’S A DISASTER book with tips about things to do before, during and after a storm:

 

Additional Resources:

National Severe Storms Laboratory Severe Weather 101

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Tornado page)

National Geographic Tornado 101 (video)

How Tornadoes Work

Storm Prediction Center Tornado FAQ


I married a mutant (recognizing and understanding MTHFR)

February 10, 2019

Bill and I rarely do personal posts here but, since we work with so many first responders across North America, we wanted to share this data in case it can help those dealing with toxins day in and day out.

As we explained in our May 2013 Celiac Disease post, Bill has been battling major health issues since 2000. (In hindsight he’s had issues his entire life.)

Over the past 19 years he’s beat leukemia / T-cell disease and a massive parasite infestation, moved out some major heavy metals and other toxins, and continues to heal his digestive tract due to Celiac Disease — among other things.

But he continued to struggle with extreme fatigue / lack of energy, pain, chemical sensitivities, migraines and other issues. He was still living on adrenaline, sugar and caffeine (as he has most of his life), so our naturopath, Dr. Garrett Smith, ran more tests in 2013 and discovered Bill had some strange imbalances of certain vitamins and minerals.

A key thing that stood out was Bill had high levels of folic acid (folate) and B-12 (among other things) meaning his body was not absorbing those properly causing him to be anemic at the cellular level. Dr. Smith suggested he get a “MTHFR Genotype Test” done at our local lab and the results explained why Bill has imbalances and trouble absorbing certain things — he’s got a defective (mutated) MTHFR gene. So basically … I married a mutant.

What the heck is the MTHFR gene?

At first glance MTHFR looks like an acronym for a cuss phrase. However, the MTHFR gene is responsible for making a functional MTHFR enzyme called “methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase”. According to NIH.gov, this enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. MTHFR is important for a chemical reaction involving forms of the vitamin folate (also called vitamin B9). Specifically, this enzyme converts a molecule called 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to a molecule called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. This reaction is required for the multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. The body uses methionine to make proteins, utilize antioxidants and other important compounds that support your immune system, cell regeneration and more per StopTheThyroidMadness.com.

In other words — as Dr. Ben Lynch explains — “MTHFR plays a key role in a process called methylation. If you have an MTHFR gene mutation, your methylation cycles may not be working optimally.

Methylation is the MAIN factor that affects epigenetics–the body’s response to our environment. Epigenetics determines which parts of the human blueprint, our genetic code, are turned off or on.

If the MTHFR gene is slightly altered (mutated), the MTHFR enzyme’s shape becomes distorted. Enzyme function depends a lot on shape. It is similar to the grooves on a key. If the grooves on a key are slightly different than the lock, the key may fit and turn the lock a little but it does not unlock the door. The genetic code of the MTHFR enzyme must be perfect in order for it to function properly.”

So what does all this mean?

As Wellness Mama writes — “Those with a defective MTHFR gene have an impaired ability to produce the MTHFR enzyme (estimates range from 20%-70% or more). This can make it more difficult to break down and eliminate not only synthetic folic acid but other substances like heavy metals.

Since folic acid can’t be converted into the usable form, it can build up in the body, which can raise levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with a higher risk in cardiovascular disease. This also affects the conversion to glutathione, which the body needs to remove waste and which is a potent antioxidant.”

Bottom line, a defective MTHFR enzyme may lead to a variety of health problems like autism, birth defects, anxiety, depression, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, chemical sensitivities, and more.

It also means if you take supplements there are certain methylated ones (e.g. folic, B-12, riboflavin, glutathione, etc.) that someone with a mutated MTHFR gene should take so the body can absorb them properly.

And since someone with a mutated MTHFR gene may need massive methylation due to toxicity or excess of some sort (be it chemicals, stress, anxiety, overwork, etc.), then their body demands extra methylfolate – and they cannot produce it, explains Dr. Ben.

Bill’s lab results show his MTHFR enzyme activity is 50%-60% of normal activity meaning his body only produces 40%-50% of what is needed to function normally ~ and, when stressed like he has been with so many health problems, he has no extra output or reserve enzymes thus causing tremendous fatigue, depression, pain, etc.

Balancing the cellular signaling is critical for not only helping my sweet mutant to continue to detox, but it will increase energy levels and help improve other health issues since his body will be able to absorb its needed nutrients. He’s still not quite 100% yet, but since he’s been taking specific methylated B vitamins, L-glutathione, a thyroid med, D-Ribose, etc., he’s getting more energy, his body core temperatures are almost normal, and he’s not having to supplement quite as much as before.

First Responders please pay attention to your bodies

As mentioned above, one main reason we are sharing this is because we work with responders across the country and some (or most) may want to look into MTHFR stuff further – esp. if you…

  • Deal with toxic fumes or other chemicals on a regular basis;
  • Live on adrenaline, caffeine or other stimulants;
  • Have bouts of extreme tiredness or fatigue;
  • Have low body temperatures at wake-up and/or have cold hands / feet;
  • Struggle with migraines, depression, digestive issues, joint pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, etc.

An easy way to start is use 23andme.com to get your Health + Ancestry genetic testing kit (about $200) that you can do at home. You just spit in a tube and send it in to get your unique DNA genetics.

Then you can access and send your raw data for analysis using Strategene to determine if you have MTHFR and/or other genetic issues. You also may want to consider discussing the findings with a health professional trained in MTHFR and methylation.

Learn more about MTHFR at NIH.gov or MTHFR.net to see if you too are a mutant.

Stay safe and healthy, j & B


AR Sandbox makes topographic maps fun and interactive while teaching earth sciences

January 14, 2019

The Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox allows students and the public to interact with a miniature landscape, sculpting mountains, valleys, rivers and even volcanoes, with off the shelf readily available parts.

Users can create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water.

The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as how to read a topo map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees and more. Topographic maps are crucial tools used by geologists, geographers, land and floodplain managers, planners and adventurous hikers.

The AR Sandbox prototype was developed at the Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Science (KeckCAVES) at the University of California (UC), Davis), and was initially launched in museum settings in 2012.

According to EOS.org, the AR Sandbox prototype became an interactive public exhibit for science education as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)–funded project called LakeViz3D. This collaboration of scientists, science educators, evaluators, museum professionals, and media developers created 3-D visualizations to help improve public understanding and stewardship of freshwater ecosystems.

Also, land management and planning agencies can test environmental change scenarios in an AR Sandbox to inform decisions related to natural disaster planning. And it’s a cool, fun way to educate kids and the public about earth sciences as shown in below video…

The 3-D software used to create the AR Sandbox is open source and freely available online, together with the sandbox blueprints, a facilitator’s guide (support and ideas for teaching with the sandbox), and a public forum for help troubleshooting sandbox issues or to post questions and suggestions.

An AR Sandbox requires the following hardware components:

  • A computer with a high-end graphics card running Linux.
  • A Microsoft Kinect 3D camera.  
  • A digital video projector with a digital video interface, such as HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort.
  • A sandbox with a way to mount the Kinect camera and projector above sandbox.
  • Sand.

UC Davis provides detailed information, videos and forum support on what schools, organizations and others need to build your own AR Sandbox:

Currently there are over 150 exhibits around the world so use this interactive map to see if there is an AR Sandbox near you, and learn more at https://arsandbox.ucdavis.edu/.


Become more #CyberAware during October Cyber Security Awareness Month

September 30, 2018

Cyber Security Awareness Month is an internationally recognized campaign held each October to inform the public of the importance of cyber security.

America’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) campaign – under leadership from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-size businesses, corporations, educational institutions, and young people across the nation.

Fedhealth has been a proud Champion of NCSAM since 2004 promoting awareness about online safety on our blog, enews and in the U.S. First Responders Association’s Cyber news and safety tips group.

Cybersecurity begins with a simple message everyone using the Internet can adopt: STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Take security and safety precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors online, secure your IoT devices , and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.

NCSA has resources, weekly themes and social media tools to help families, businesses and educators get #CyberAware and involved at staysafeonline.org/ncsam. Follow NCSA on Facebook or on Twitter @STOPTHNKCONNECT and @StaySafeOnline and search #CyberAware for more cyber safety tips and resources.

 

Canada’s Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) was created to educate Canadians about Internet security and the simple steps individuals can take to protect themselves online.

Canada’s #CSAM campaign is divided by themes which highlight different aspects of cyber security each week. Learn more at getcybersafe.ca and follow @GetCyberSafe or #CSAM on Twitter.

 

And the European Union advocacy campaign European Cyber Security Month (ECSM) aims to raise awareness of cyber security threats, promote cyber security among citizens and organizations; and provide resources to protect themselves online, through education and sharing of good practices.

Visit http://cybersecuritymonth.eu/ to learn more and to find events in Europe and follow @CyberSecMonth and ‪#‎cybersecmonth on Twitter.

 

Whether you use one computer, a smartphone or a massive network, it is critical to keep systems protected from viruses and attacks. Some things you can do include…

  • Make sure computers and all wireless devices have current anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewalls … and schedule them to scan daily or weekly. Also set virus patterns, operating systems and browsers to update automatically. Encourage employees to protect their personal home devices too.
  • Set security preferences as high as possible on Internet browsers and anti-virus packages.
  • Use a strong password to protect your home wi-fi router and create a “Guest” password for people who visit and need internet access.
  • Be aware some flash drives may have trojans or viruses, or be used to copy sensitive data off secure systems, so consider limiting access to critical files and/or systems.
  • Although it is best to not open emails or attachments from unknown sources, that’s not feasible in the business world. But implement precautionary procedures like having employees save attached files into a temp directory and scan them before opening.
  • Discourage accessing financial institutions from mobile devices using apps or email links. Instead, visit banking and credit card sites directly using a browser window.
  • Be aware there are lots of “scareware” scams online! Do NOT download or click on a screen that says it found “X number of viruses or spyware on your system” suggesting you download their package — it will most likely be a virus.
  • Use long passwords (using both numbers and letters [and special characters if possible]) on banking, social media and other systems, change them often, and don’t share them with others.
  • Backup data often and keep a daily or weekly backup off-site.
  • Make sure someone knows how to download patches or fixes in case a computer or system gets infected. And have a backup plan in case that person (or team) is not available.
  • If your business is hacked, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
  • Stay current on cyber threats by joining DHS’s US Computer Emergency Readiness Team www.us-cert.gov and visit NCSA’s www.staysafeonline.org

Please share these resources with others and post your #CyberAware tips in comments below.

Happy, safe surfing, j & B


Florence updates and state + federal preparedness resources on USFRA

September 14, 2018

For the past week we have been posting updates and resources about Florence in the U.S. First Responders Association’s Disaster Preparedness Group for those being impacted by the storm along the east coast and inland. (And our apologies for not sharing this here sooner!)

Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC at 0715 ET on 14-Sep-2018 and moving W about 6 mph (9 km/h). A west to WSW motion expected thru Sat bringing LOTS of rain, winds + a few possible tornadoes.

Download a free 59-pg portion of IT’S A DISASTER! book (in PDF) with tips on preparing for hurricanes, floods, evacuations, assembling disaster kits, making a family plan & more courtesy of USFRA and Fedhealth.

And visit USFRA.org’s Florence Updates and resources post to find information and links about…

  • Latest updates from National Hurricane Center and others;
  • USFRA posts about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, winds, generator safety, and more;
  • State web links, apps and resources for NC, SC, GA and VA (more will be added as storm moves inland);
  • Pets and Large animals/livestock tips;
  • FEMA, National Hurricane Center & Weather resources;
  • Disaster Assistance and Recovery efforts will be added in coming days/weeks/months as things progress.

Families, business owners, responders and volunteers can find above and more about Florence here.

And consider joining USFRA.org to find & share knowledge and expertise on training, tactics, safety, education and community outreach as it pertains to first responders, EMs, active duty military, veterans, volunteers and others.

Stay safe out there, j & B


Get Ready for September 2018 National Preparedness Month

August 23, 2018

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) when Americans are encouraged to take action to prepare ~ now and throughout the year ~ for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and visit.

The Ready Campaign’s 2018 #NatlPrep theme is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

Use the month to focus on your preparedness efforts for various disasters and emergencies, and encourage others to get prepared too.

Ready‘s 2018 NPM social media toolkit provides graphics, hashtags, and content that can be customized to your needs. In addition to the theme for the month, each weekly theme highlights different preparedness actions.

Help promote preparedness using these #NatlPrep tools and themes:

  • September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan
  • September 9-15: Learn Life Saving Skills
  • September 15: National Day of Action
  • September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage
  • September 23-29: Save For an Emergency

Learn more at www.ready.gov/september.

Also consider getting our disaster preparedness and first aid manuals for your family, co-workers, customers, neighbors, events and training sessions for only $4.50 U.S. each delivered (70% off $14.99 list) on 10 copies & up and we can customize them for free!

The 266-page paperback provides quick-reference instructional bullets in 2-color format with tips on what people should think about and do before, during and after specific types of emergencies and disasters (e.g. hurricanes, hazardous material spills, nuclear incidents, active shooter scenarios, etc.), as well as how to administer basic first aid.

Fedhealth can ship red books within 24 hours of your order … plus we donate a portion of bulk book orders to the U.S. First Responders Association in support of our nation’s first responders and veterans.

Learn how to order “IT’S A DISASTER!” books (and download a free 56-page portion of it in PDF) or get our 280-page ebook in PDF for $3 U.S. at www.fedhealth.net/how-to-order.html … or call Fedhealth at 520-907-2153.

Please share these tools with others and stay safe out there, j & B


Making book text and ads interactive with Augmented Reality

June 20, 2018

We have been in the process of updating our customizable preparedness and first aid manual and plan to include Augmented Reality on some topics (e.g. CPR, Stop The Bleed, etc.) so readers can view videos and data about procedures using their smartphone or tablet.

And since our printer does AR, it would be a great complement to our custom book projects filled with ads that pay for books (and help fund our nation’s first responders.)

Augmented Reality can be used on print ads to increase engagement by…

  • Bringing a picture to life or adding video to the printed page;
  • Making content jump off the page with 3D objects and data;
  • Allowing people to interact directly with data, photos, games, shopping carts and websites;
  • Updating content, special promos, discounts and customer experiences without changing a printed trigger / ad.

Check out this short video demonstrating some AR ads:

We are exploring to determine if several topics in our book and ads would be best viewed using free apps such as Blippar, Layar, Zappar or others on smartphones or tablets … or maybe through a common AR viewer or platform that everyone could use with or without an app.

But our goal is to bridge the gap between traditional print and digital experiences to generate excitement and engagement between our readers, advertisers and whole communities.

We are soooo looking forward to stepping into tomorrow today so stay tuned and stay safe, j & B

p.s. Feel free to share your experiences with AR and printed matter below or by emailing us at info@fedhealth.net


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