Educational and fun preparedness links and resources for families & kids

March 15, 2020

With scenes of empty store shelves, fights over toilet paper and most Americans being told to stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreaks, many of us will have a lot of time on our hands in the coming days and weeks.

And, since internet access is not a problem for most (as it often is whenever there is a weather-related disaster or emergency), there are things people can do to learn more about getting themselves and their loved ones prepared for the unexpected (including a zombie apocalypse!)

The U.S. has approximately 800,000 active Law Enforcement Officials (including Police & Sheriff), 1.1 million Firefighters (over 70% are volunteers), and 210,000 EMT / paramedics meaning there are about 2.1 million first responders supporting over 327 million Americans.

And with some quarantines impacting health and public safety personnel in communities around the country (and world), you, your family and neighbors could be the “first” first responders if an emergency or disaster strikes.

Knowledge is power and can help reduce fear and anxiety. Consider taking the below online CERT course and visit some of the kid-friendly sites near the bottom to educate your family and have some fun while doing it.

Community Emergency Response Team

In the U.S. and Canada, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program helps train volunteers to assist first responders in emergency situations in their communities.

CERT members give critical support to first responders during emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.

Normally the CERT course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course, and includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, and light search and rescue operations and is usually delivered in 2-1/2 hour sessions, one evening a week over a 7 week period.

FEMA also provides an online study course called “Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams“, IS 317, for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members.

The online course takes between 6 and 8 hours to complete and includes 6 modules…

  • CERT Basics,
  • Fire Safety,
  • Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents,
  • Disaster Medical Operations,
  • Search and Rescue,
  • and Course Summary.

While IS-317 is useful as a primer or refresher for CERT training, it is not equivalent to, and cannot be used in place of, the classroom delivery of the CERT Basic Training.

But it is educational and easy to do from your home or office and is a great teaching tool for your entire family. Learn more at FEMA.gov

Also, if you have high school and/or college kids in your family, Teen CERT can give them the above mentioned skills to protect themselves, their family, and friends in case of disaster or emergency. Learn more at www.ready.gov/teen-cert and share above FEMA course link with them too.

Educational and fun preparedness resources for families & kids:

Free ebook (59-pg portion of our preparedness & first aid manual with tips + resources about floods, hurricanes, infectious diseases (e.g. flu, COVID-19, staph, etc.), wildfires, family plans, kits + more) www.fedhealth.net/look-inside-book.html

Ready Kids www.ready.gov/kids

Ready.gov (resources for families, kids, businesses + pets) www.ready.gov

CDC’s Ready Wrigley www.cdc.gov/cpr/readywrigley

CDC (tips for families, college students & kids) www.cdc.gov/family/healthypeople/  

CDC’s Zombie preparedness www.cdc.gov/cpr/zombie/

Sesame Street (Let’s Get Ready) www.sesamestreet.org/toolkits/ready


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


Google SOS Alerts can help during an emergency or crisis

July 26, 2017

Google has announced a new set of features in Google Search and Maps called SOS Alerts that activate during major natural, man-made, or humanitarian disasters.

During a crisis, people need real-time information. Whether they’re experiencing an issue on the ground or trying to understand the situation from afar, Google wants their products to give people quick access to important information—such as what is going on and where it is happening—to help them stay safe and informed.

For people using Google Search to learn more about a crisis, SOS Alerts connects them with news, maps, and whenever available, updates from local authorities, emergency resources, donation opportunities, and more—all organized in one place for easy access and sharing.

For people using Maps to find out more about a crisis, SOS Alerts provide live updates about what’s going on in the area, as well as direct access to emergency resources, such as hotline numbers.

Google Public Alerts complement SOS Alerts by helping local and public authorities communicate emergency messages specifically related to official weather, public safety, and earthquake alerts.

The tech giant developed SOS Alerts in partnership with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross and local emergency authorities.

The below image is an example of what a Google search result might look like in an area dealing with wildfires:

Sources: Google Crisis Response, Google blog and NextGov

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Hurricanes 101 (hurricane basics and resources)

May 29, 2013

hurricanes101-nhpw2013The National Weather Service launches it’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Week during the last week of May so we felt this was a good time to share some information about hurricanes in general.

The Seasons

As mentioned in our May 2013 enews, experts are predicting an active 2013 Atlantic season with 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. A typical Atlantic hurricane season averages 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes, and two major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). Some experts are even predicting a few storms may strike the northeast (like Sandy did last fall) since conditions are similar to the 1950s.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), over a typical 2-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, 1 of which is classified as a major hurricane. And, while hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depressions also can be devastating.

The Pacific Hurricane Season runs from May 15th through November 30th (with peak season being July to September), and the Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1st ending November 30th (with peak season being mid-August to late October).

However, there have been instances where tropical storms and hurricanes have formed in May and December, plus typhoons and cyclones happen during other months in different parts of the world so our planet’s oceans stay active most of the year.

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with torrential rains and winds of 74 – 155 miles per hour (120 – 250 km/h) or faster. These winds blow in a counter-clockwise direction (or clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) around a center “eye”. The “eye” is usually 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 km) wide, and the storm may be spread out as far as 400 miles (640 km)!

As the hurricane approaches the coast, a huge dome of water (called a storm surge) will crash into the coastline.

Hurricanes can also cause tornadoes, heavy rains and flooding along the impacted coastlines as well as far into the mainland states.

Did you know…

…the deadliest hurricane (cyclone) on record struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), flooding the low lying areas?! At least 500,000 deaths are blamed on the November 13, 1970 storm, with some estimates rising as high as 1 million.

hurricanes101-katrina-destruction…the deadliest U.S. hurricane was the Great Galveston category 4 hurricane on September 8, 1900 that caused at least 8,000 deaths on the Texas coast?!

…the costliest U.S. hurricane was Katrina (category 3) in 2005 that impacted Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee causing over $105 billion according to NOAA?! Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy is second costliest at about $50 billion.

…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.

…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 (6 m) high and 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km) wide!

…the northeast part (or right front quadrant) of a hurricane typically has the strongest winds and highest storm surge?! If it’s high tide when the storm slams ashore you could have serious problems.

Hurricane basics

The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.

Each year, an average of 11 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. About six of these storms become hurricanes each year.

In an average 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically “major” or “intense” hurricanes (a category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Hurricanes are classed into five categories based on wind speeds, central pressure, and damage potential. The chart below is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with sustained wind speeds and examples of damage (in italics) provided by NOAA:

Category 1   (74-95 mph / 119-153 km/h)  Dangerous winds will produce some damage (Untied mobile homes, vegetation & signs)

Category 2  (96-110 mph / 154-177 km/h )  Extremely dangerous winds / extensive damage (All mobile homes, roofs, small crafts, floods)

Category 3  (111-129 mph / 178-208 km/h)  Devastating damage will occur (Small buildings, low-lying roads cut off)

Category 4 (130-156 mph / 209-251 km/h)  Catastrophic damage will occur (Roofs and mobile homes destroyed, trees down, beach homes flooded)

Category 5 (> 156 mph / >251 km/h) Catastrophic damage will occur (Most buildings and vegetation destroyed, major roads cut off, homes flooded)

Naming a hurricane

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center and now maintained and updated by an International committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The lists featured only women’s names until 1979, when men’s and women’s names were alternated. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2001 list will be used again in 2007. The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate and the name is retired by the WMO. Retiring a name means it cannot be reused for at least 10 years. Source:WRAL.com

NatGeo vid “Hurricanes 101”

This short video further explains hurricanes, and scroll down to find more resources.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2013

As mentioned above, National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2013 runs from May 26 to June 1. The National Hurricane Center has posted 7 Public Service Announcements (both Youtube videos and audio files in English and Spanish) with a specific topic designated for each day of the week.

hurricanes 101-national hurricane preparedness week 2013

PSA topics include: Hurricane Basics, Storm Surge, Winds, Inland Flooding, Forecast Process, Get A Plan! and After the Storm. Learn more and find other resources and tools from NHC at www.hurricanes.gov to help educate your family and community.

Additional Resources:

Tips about Flooding, Tornadoes and more (from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

NOAA Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide (12 pg PDF)

Florida’s Foundation “Make Mitigation Happen” (21-pg PDF for FL but could help most everyone)

National Hurricane Center

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Hurricane page)

Bounce Energy Hurricane preparedness guide and resources page

How Stuff Works: How Hurricanes Work

Hurricane.com

USA Today Resources: Hurricanes


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