Under the Weather... Literally!

Today the temperature soared over 100 degrees again, tomorrow the forecast indicates rain... and hail, tornadoes and thunderstorms.. all in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years!  We cannot get away from the weather, but we can prepare for it.

Plan ahead to stay safe. - Whether you are facing heat, wind, water or other calamities, your emergency plan should tell you where you'll go to seek shelter.  And remember that you may not be at home when disaster strikes.

Keep supplies on hand. - Maybe the lights go out. Or perhaps your pharmacy is transported to the land of Oz, you'll need a disaster kit stocked with a flashlight, food and water, and first aid and medication to get by until things get back to normal. And a kit in the car and a work may prove as useful as your home disaster kit.

Information in: Information out - When the skies (or dams, volcanoes, and other disasters) break loose, your crisis communication plan will help you know what's going on, how to get help and what to expect next.  And your friends and family will be worried; your plan will tell them (and you) who to call for status updates. Always consider that communications are more challenging with no power.

What you don't know could hurt you!

As I was traveling from St. Louis to a class in Columbia, Missouri, I took this picture out the car window. Can you see the tiny structure in the distance with vapor rising from it? It's Callaway nuclear power plant. I am reminded that anytime we travel, we are exposed to new and changing risks.

Where I live, I'm not in immediate danger of radioactive contamination from a reactor. I also have little concern for tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires. The tallest building near me is only a few stories, and the outdoor warning sirens are tested the first Monday of every month at 10:00 am. But...

When you or I travel even a couple of hours from home we face new risks, new procedures and new warning mechanisms. Although we may not (and likely cannot) be aware of and prepared for every risk we will pass by, we CAN be aware that we are unaware. We can keep our heads up and remain mindful of our surroundings. IF an emergency comes our way, we can be prepared to react in an informed fashion.

Drought + Wildfire + Heavy Rains = A Mess!

As some Colorado residents return home to sift through the remains of possessions recently consumed by wildfire, a second wave of disaster has swept though as thunderstorms douse the parched ground only days too late.  But with all of the landscape decimated by fire, the deluge flows unchecked across the land creating rivers of mud filling basements, sweeping away roadways, and burying the last remnants of the fire swept neighborhoods.

What can we learn from this?  We can't stop wildfires, thunderstorms, flash floods and mud-slides, right?
  • Disasters often cascade -- One event may create other problems that lead to additional emergencies. (A power outage leaves you without food AND without a way to pay for food, if you don't have cash on hand.)
  • Efforts to mitigate (prevent) one disaster may also thwart other impending difficulties. Plan to stop the far-reaching effects of a disaster early.
  • Preparedness can address more than just life safety.  Your peace of mind and emotional health need  protection as well.  Imagine a priority order to what you will protect in your life and plan for those priorities.
  • At our house, the family evacuation plan includes taking a small chest (located near the front door) that contains our family's most precious possessions, heirlooms and irreplaceable photographs. 
Preparing your family today with a disaster kit and an emergency plan and practicing that plan may save your life and your favorite crystal vase.


9-1-1 is down... Now what?

What will you do when you dial 9-1-1 and nothing happens?  Several years ago much of Illinois and St. Louis (where I live) experienced the smallest rumblings of an earthquake.  At the epicenter near the far side of Illinois there was little damage and few injuries with the jolt measuring 5.4.  At least one 9-1-1 call center in Indiana was completely overwhelmed with calls and was offline for about 15 minutes.  It's possible that people with serious medical emergencies couldn't get the help they needed because 9-1-1 operators were answering calls of, "What was that?"

About 11:00 am today, Madison County Illinois 9-1-1 was unreachable, possibly due to a cut fiber optic cable.  And with today recording the 9th straight day with triple digit temperatures and no relief in sight, emergency medical calls are inevitable with heat and respiratory related emergencies.

Part of your preparedness should include alternate local phone numbers for emergency services like fire, police, ambulance and hospitals.  Post these near a phone, an exit, or in a conspicuous place in your home so that you can easily access them if you need them. Store them in your cell phone as well.