Posts from — September 2011
On Thursday, September 29th, ICE PACK Emergency Preparedness Systems hosted it’s monthly Emergency Preparedness Technology Briefing. This month’s briefing was entitled Drinking Water for Disaster Recovery: Potable Water for Individuals thru “Whole of Community”. We were pleased to host Mr. Rick Arnold, Product Development Manger of McNett Corporation, Mr. Gary Cruikshank, CEO of McNett Corporation, and Mr. Dan Ward of Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI). These gentlemen briefed our attendees on the latest technology available in the industry for storing and creating safe drinking water for use in emergency preparedness. Our technology briefings are open to anyone in emergency management, public safety, law enforcement, public works, security, NGO’s, GO’s, and OGA’s at no cost. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
September 30, 2011 2 Comments
Recently an opinion survey was produced by Cote & D’Ambrosio and Wallace and Washburn, two leading research and communications firms heavily involved in disaster safety communications. It included opinions from individuals living in 45 states across the country. This same survey was also administered to professional emergency managers, homeland security officials and health professionals. However, the resultant data of that particular version has not been made public due to obvious security concerns.
Although the survey was focused primarily on the American public’s opinion on terrorism threats, several key trends caught our eye specific to emergency preparedness.
- 54% of those surveyed strongly feel that it is the individual’s responsibility to provide food, water, medication and other supplies to sustain themselves for three days following a significant disaster. 38% only somewhat agreed with this statement. 7% didn’t agree at all.
- 34% have purchased a disaster kit in the “past couple years” and 39% have created an emergency plan. Only 15% have practiced their emergency plans.
Of particular note, out of 10 natural disasters listed in the survey (including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and severe weather events) an average of 53% of respondents indicated they were “not concerned” about such events.
Finally, and possibly most concerning, is that 63% of the public surveyed believe it is the responsibility of the United States Government to subsidize the rebuilding of their homes or provide temporary housing in the wake of a natural disaster. 21% of these, in fact, indicated they “strongly agreed” it was Uncle Sam’s job to do so. In sharp contrast, only 7% of professional emergency managers and homeland security officials agreed it was the government’s responsibility to provide such subsidies. (this according to the National Emergency Management Association who reviewed the unpublished findings)
As we have stated before, emergency sustainment on any significant scale can only produce measurable success if the essential foundation blocks are already in place. Individual, personal emergency preparation are those foundation blocks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency clearly states “FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.” (Italics added)
If you are just now climbing on the Emergency Preparedness Bus to Personal Survival – welcome aboard! Don’t be overwhelmed. Whether it’s sustaining one individual or planning for the wellbeing of hundreds – it’s one step at a time. By answering the following questions, you will be well on your way to creating an effective emergency plan.
How many are you planning for? Just yourself? A family? Employees of a small business? Staff of a large organization? Are there special dietary needs of those you are supporting? Special physical needs? Food allergies? When doing your calculations, don’t forget visitors that may be in your facility when an event occurs. By answering the “who”, you start to quantify your sustainment plan.
For what are you trying to prepare? Hurricane? Tornado? Flood? Earthquake? Severe weather? Chemical or biological events? Radiological events? An active shooter? Alien invasion? By answering the “what”, you will then be able to ascertain the scope of your provisions and the depth of your emergency equipment and supplies.
Where will you store your provisions and where will people gather during an emergency? Are these locations one and the same? Do you want to be able to shelter-in-place by sealing off ventilation? By answering the “who” and the “what” you have key information in planning the “where”.
Three days of sustainment? Or do you require more? Maybe you require less? The answers to the first four questions also can impact the “how long”.
One final thought. As we work to “build, sustain, and improve” our own individual capabilities to protect our lives and the lives for whom we are responsible, it might be prudent to take note of the following. In a recent briefing we provided to an organization of 500, we were asked how much an individual should expect to pay for their disaster preparedness solution. Obviously, the answer to such question is dependent on dozens of mitigating variables, but one thing can be said for certain. When you go to use that flashlight or expect that emergency radio to work or open that container of 5-year, shelf-stable water and need it to be drinkable, it would have been wise indeed if you did not succumb to the temptation to buy the cheapest knockoff item on the shelf when you were building out your provisions. So if you are among the seeming minority (at least as indicated by the survey mentioned earlier) that believe self-reliance is essential to surviving any significant emergency or disaster, be sure you are including only the most reliable brands in your emergency supplies.
Facta Non Verba
September 27, 2011 1 Comment
There are many people continuing the struggle of recovery from natural disasters which have recently plagued the East Coast. A rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake, Hurricane Irene’s unwelcome visit of torrential rains quickly followed by tropical depression Lee dropping by with his own load of moisture have damaged or destroyed homes and businesses along the Atlantic seaboard to the tune of 7 billion dollars. As the process of picking up the pieces continues, revisiting the following information we published in an earlier blog post seems prudent.
Certainly after, and perhaps even during a natural, man-made or terrorism related emergency or disaster you may be faced with making temporary repairs to your home, office or place of business. If you built a safe room, you can now be fairly confident in your investment as it may well save your life. Making immediate temporary structural repairs may be necessary during a disaster event, which assures your continued safety and protection, and temporary repairs can also help prevent further property damage or looting. Earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, explosions, high winds, severe storms, and minor fires can all damage structures that in many situations can be recoverable, except in catastrophic circumstances. Keep in mind that an “informed” decision must be made to do this based on planning, resources, pre-positioned supplies, know-how and a resilient mindset.
The most important first step immediately after the disaster event and perhaps even during it, is to assess your situation. What is the level of safety and security at your immediate location, and your ability or necessity to evacuate (if you have not done so already) if advisable or even possible? This is a critical calculated decision that must be made calmly, without the influence of adrenaline, BS or false bravado (read testosterone)!
Once this is accomplished you’ll need to assess the condition of the structure and any immediate hazards to life and limb. Generally this would include, but not be limited to the potential of: explosive natural/LP gas leaks, damaged exposed or downed electrical wires or power lines that can cause electrocution, severe structural damage to roofs, walls or foundations that can cause structural collapse, tree deadfalls, high or swift floodwater drowning, and/or physically dangerous animals, creatures, critters or criminals.
Homeowners should have a list of area contractors that can provide structural repairs immediately after a disaster. It’s also recommended that businesses and local governments have contracts in place with contractors and vendors to respond immediately to debris removal and infrastructure reconstruction. Here is an excellent set of post disaster guidelines from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Equipment and Supplies
Consider the following supplies essential to providing you, your family or co-workers with a temporary shelter repair or improvement capability in the event of disaster. Also, look around and be sure to position common yard maintenance tools (e.g. brooms, rakes, shovels etc.) where they can be easily located and used to clean up after a disaster event.
Your emergency shelter supplies will do you no good if they are lost in the disaster. Store these critical resources in durable water and, crush resistant container you can easily carry. The container can also be used to collect potable water or transport debris during clean up and recovery.
Personal Protective Equipment
Trying to affect a temporary repair during or after disaster can be dangerous. Gloved hands will allow you to clear debris like broken glass, or sharp ceiling grid metal preventing cuts and scrapes. Protective eye goggles can protect your vision from high winds, blowing dirt and debris that can potentially take you out of action. Disposable N95 respirators (masks) have a multitude of good uses in addition to their basic use to protect your nose, mouth and lungs from particulates. If you are wearing bunny slippers or flip flops you might want to think twice about conducting building repairs! Sturdy footwear is advised if available.
No good emergency sustainment system should be without at least one sturdy tarp! A tarp is a true multi-functional emergency device available in a multitude of sizes and materials. Consider a plastic tarp larger than 8’x10’ with grommets down each side to allow for various uses. A tarp can be used to cover a damaged home roof as well as covering a large expanse of broken windows in a commercial establishment. In a pinch you can even construct emergency shelters to protect people who have lost their homes or protect physical assets from rain, sun, wind etc.
Plastic sheeting is an essential component of your Shelter-In-Place system. Once you’ve pre-cut all the shapes needed for your designated sheltering room (e.g. HVAC ducts, power outlets, doors, windows, etc.) the remainder can be set aside for window repair or roof leak water diversion.
Rope, Bungees and Wire Ties
A long length of rope or popular and very useful 550 cord can be cut to lengths needed to tie down a tarp, secure doors or leash a pet. If you’re faced with windy conditions bungee’s can be used to secure a tarp over large roof damage areas keeping it taut. Wire ties are a good idea for securely closing and holding broken doors, gates etc.
A roll or two of Duct Tape goes a long way towards making temporary repairs and is an important component of your Shelter-In-Place program. Broken doors and window openings can also be closed with plastic sheeting Duct Taped to the frames to keep rain out. Screen tears can be repaired to prevent flies, mosquitoes, and bugs from coming into a house. As part of your mobile vehicle emergency system you can even use Duct Tape to repair a radiator hose. Let your imagination run wild on more ideas to use Duct Tape as an emergency resource.
A good basic tool kit can indeed be a lifesaver in any emergency situation. For general purpose use, think about a keeping a set of good multi-tools both in your vehicle and as part of your emergency repair kit. Gerber, Leatherman, SOG, and Victorinox all make good ones. Since multi-tools are lightweight and multi-functional, they can be indispensible in many emergency situations. There is no doubt you’ll need an actual tool kit, to handle the tough demands of disaster recovery temporary home and building repair. Here we’ve listed what research shows to be the basic essentials of a good tool kit, obviously the more tools you have the better off you are!
- Pry Bar
- Claw Hammer
- Wood Saw
- Hack Saw and spare blades
- Pliers: Standard, lock and adjustable
- Adjustable Wrench
- Screw Drivers; Flat, and Philips heads, both medium and large
- Fasteners: Wood and metal screws, fender washers and nails
- Tape Measure
- Portable Lighting: (e.g. headlamp etc.)
If you have the budget a chain saw is a must have to remove deadfalls, and downed trees from roadways. Don’t forget the 2 cycle oil-gas mix and safety gear!
While many may try to hold on to the fallacy that “it will never happen here” consider if you will this very interesting video on the potential for substantial earthquake of 6.0 or greater in the New Madrid Fault Zone that covers 5 states located in the Midwestern United States. “If” such an event were to occur, damage to structures would be significant. An intriguing full length video on the New Madrid Fault Zone can be found in the ICE PACK video resources section here.
You can go to any home improvement store and purchase these affordably priced common everyday building repair tools and supplies. During a disaster they will be nearly worth their weight in precious provisions like water, food and medical supplies. Take positive action and prepare yourself with the necessary tools and supplies to affect temporary repairs to your home, office or workplace.
Facta Non Verba
September 20, 2011 No Comments