Strong Earthquakes Hit San Francisco And Mount St. Helens And Experts Warn They May Be Foreshocks For ‘Something Larger’ It looks like its going to be a shaky year. Not just socially but physically. It would seem that the slowing rotation of the earth is triggering more seismic activity. Of course, this is going to …
Submitted By H.D.
What is it that makes a natural disaster so dangerous? Is it the fact that, we can’t prevent it from happening? Or does it have to deal with our inability to recognize the signs? The answer is neither. The reason why a natural disaster is so dangerous, evolves around preparation. To put it another way, they’re dangerous because we don’t prepare for them. A large percentage of the American population goes throughout their day-to-day lives without ever thinking of a natural disaster occurring. A beginners guide is something we all need to make us aware of what we need to do.
With that being said, ask yourself, “How can we survive something we’ve never prepared for?” it would be equivalent to taking an exam in a subject you’ve never studied for. The answer is simple, you can’t! This is why earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornado’s rip cities apart, taking thousands of lives and causes billions of dollars in damage.
According to DoSomething.org, between the years of 2000 and 2012, natural disasters caused $1.7 trillion in damage and affected 2.9 billion people. The researchers later discovered that, 2012 marked the third consecutive year worldwide natural disaster damage exceeded $100 billion.
Believe it or not, natural disasters like wildfires can strike at any time, without warning. In other words, even if we tried to recognize all the signs before a disaster hit, one could still strike unexpectedly. Those are the ones that cause the most destruction.
Here are some things to keep in mind before a natural disaster hits your home.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
- Preparing For A Flood
Like most natural disasters, flooding can affect anyone, regardless of where they live. Within the United States, it’s actually the most common type of natural disaster. As a result, flash-floods has caused about 200 deaths annually, according to LawHelp. In order to make sure you’re protected, get to higher ground. Don’t attempt to operate a motor vehicle no matter what – otherwise you risk the chance of getting stuck, or even swept away by fast moving water.
Ways To Protect Your Home
- Seal the basement walls with waterproof compounds.
- If possible, have a sump pump, as well as a backup one that operates on batteries.
- Check and make sure that all electrical components are no less than 12 inches above any assumed flood levels. This will help prevent you from getting electrocuted.
- Tornado Watch
A tornado is a combination of wind and water that can travel anywhere from 250 to 300 miles per hour. Needless to say, a tornado can destroy any and everything it comes in contact with. Turning everyday household objects into dangerous projectiles that can kill people and damage property. Before strengthening your living environment, check and make sure your home is out of harm’s way. To emphasize, make sure you live somewhere that isn’t within arm’s reach of the windstorm.
Tornado Proof Your Home
- If you live in an area that’s prone to tornado’s, make sure you cover your windows to protect them from shattering. Garage doors should also be checked and reinforced. Just because it’s one of the heaviest and most powerful pieces of machinery in your entire house doesn’t mean it can’t be blown away by a twister.
- Schedule a home inspection to have your house and roof checked.
- Make any repairs necessary in order to ensure your safety.
Despite the fact that tornado’s are commonly known to occur in the springtime in areas of the U.S. known as “Tornado Alley,” the truth is, tornadoes have been known to occur in every state and in every month.
- Hurricane Season
Anytime a hurricane is approaching the coast, you will more than likely witness people scrambling to hardware stores buying whatever they can get their hands on. Although this may sound like a good idea, the reality is if you wait until a “hurricane watch” has been issued, you’re too late. During a hurricane, homes might get damaged or even destroyed by high winds and high waves. Meaning that, windows will be shattered and homes can even fall to the ground if they’re built on a weak foundation in extreme storms, like Hurricane Katrina.
Don’t Waste Time
- First and foremost, don’t wait until a “hurricane watch” has been issued to the public before grabbing the hammer and nails.
- Remove weak and dead trees or tree limbs located on your property.
- Have a backup plan in case you have to evacuate your home. Also set aside some cash, and make a “grab” and “go” bag that has all your important paperwork, and personal information stored inside.
- Lastly, make sure you have a battery-powered radio, so you can keep up with the latest news.
- Tectonic Plates Shifting (Earthquake Preparation)
Let’s be honest, if you’ve ever experienced an earthquake you know how scary it can be. According to Ready.gov, earthquakes are defined as sudden rolling or shaking events caused by movement under the earth’s surface. These events happen along cracks within the earth’s surface called fault lines resulting in a release of energy that causes the earth to shift and move; shaking buildings, bridges, and homes. In the United States, earthquakes are more commonly known to occur throughout the western region, however, other states have been known to experience this disaster as well.
Since earthquakes are unpredictable, make sure your home is sturdy enough to withstand intense shaking, no matter where you live. In the case of an earthquake, it’s always better to assume the worst and have too much rather than not enough.
Don’t ignore the signs.
- For heavy items that can fall over, secure them to a wall or floor.
- Breakable items should also be moved closer to the floor or placed on lower shelves as well.
- Check your foundation for cracks, and any loose wires that may cause a fire. Unlike other natural disasters, earthquakes come without warning. Therefore, you should make repairs to your home immediately after inspection.
- For families, make sure your children and other loved ones know the earthquake safety drills.
- The Do’s & Don’ts For All Natural Disasters
|● Stock up on food.
● Don’t forget to purchase lots of water.
● Assemble a first-aid kit for cuts and bruises.
● Pack spare clothes in case you’re away from home longer than you expected.
● Sanitize whatever items you use properly.
|● Drink water you think might be contaminated.
● Forget to wash your hands as much as possible.
● Hold on to food items that may have come in contact with contaminated water.
● Forget to protect important documents. After all, once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!
● Store food outside.
As a final point, even if a natural disaster isn’t threatening you or your family, it’s still a good idea to stay prepared for whatever comes your way. If you live in areas that are prone to disasters, never second guess leaving your residence if you have to. A home can be replaced, but a life can’t.
Be safe out there!
Thank you again for taking the time to read my article. I would like to know, have you ever experienced a natural disaster before? Or, do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’ll be checking for comments, so feel free to express your thoughts on today’s article.
H.D. loves taking advantage of the sunny weather outside. If you can’t catch him online reading whatever he gets his hands on, you might be able to catch out playing football with friends, or cheering on the Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241.
Family Earthquake Preparedness Plan
Do you have a family earthquake preparedness plan? Are you prepared to be self sufficient for days, weeks, or even months depending upon the severity of the earthquake? Do you ignore earthquake dangers because you think you aren’t at risk? Check out the article below – you may be more at risk than you previously thought. The first half of this article talks about what is currently going on in one part of the country and is a good example of why you may be at risk where you live. The second half of the article talks about the most important items to include in a preparedness plan.
In February we posted an article about Oklahoma’s dramatic rise in earthquakes and that residents should prepare themselves for more earthquakes to come. We also touched a little on whether or not the quakes are human-induced or a result of mother nature. Well, it happened again, more earthquakes have struck this area and other areas of the country are now at high risk according to the Unites States Geological Survey (USGS). Now is the time to come up with a family earthquake preparedness plan before the “big one” hits.
Early on Easter Sunday morning (March 27th) three earthquakes shook the ground again in northern Oklahoma at a magnitude of 2.7, 3.3, & 3.6. Then on the next day, Monday the 28th, the USGS released the first-ever hazard map for human induced earthquakes. Then the day after that on Tuesday the 29th, there were two more earthquakes (4.1 & 4.2 magnitude) near Crescent that were felt in Oklahoma City & in Tulsa.
This is unprecedented. Never before in our recorded history has there been such a large scale upsurge of continuous earthquakes and never before has the USGS released a human-induced earthquake hazard map. Right now the quakes are still relatively minor in terms of the magnitude it takes to create a major disaster; however, some experts believe these quakes are the warning signs (like the rumbling before an erupting volcano) leading up to a major catastrophic event.
If a major earthquake does hit, it is likely to cause catastrophic damage to the major metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, and all areas around these cities, especially within the triangular shape that these three cities create (see the red area on Oklahoma & Kansas in the map above).
During the past couple years there has been a lot of debate on what is causing the sudden surge of quakes in Oklahoma and Kansas. According to some articles there has been enough science that suggests that the upsurge in quakes is human-induced mainly due to waste water injection wells from the sheer volume of oil & gas fracking in the area combined with high-angle faults.
If theses earthquakes are human-induced as a result of waste water injection wells from fracking then this problem could be silently growing in other parts of the country as oil & gas fracking is now the industry standard. There are shale formations all across the country that contain prime reserves of natural gas. Many of these shale formations have already been tapped into and others will be getting tapped as the years go by.
Major quakes can make country roads impassible.
City highways and overpasses collapse making travel impossible.
Lets not talk about the devastation and the doom and gloom that follows a major earthquake, but rather about how this will effect you directly and what you need to do to be prepared. If you live anywhere near an earthquake risk area, your family earthquake preparedness plan will need to include three basic but very important items – food, water, and shelter.
A major quake will make many of the roads impassable and the power will be out for a long period of time. You will not be able to travel to find supplies and stores will not be able to restock their shelves as the supply trucks can’t get through. With the road infrastructure damaged and power grid down it will be a while before stores will be able to provide basic supplies to the general public. This is why it is so important to have your own source of food, water, and shelter.
Dehydrated/Freeze Dried Food vs. Canned & Boxed Food
So, what kind of food should you have on hand? The first thing that usually comes to mind is canned food and boxed goods from the grocery store. This may be a cheaper short term fix for the time being but will end up costing you in the long run. You will want to spend a little extra money for dehydrated and/or freeze dried food as it is well worth it. Canned food and boxed goods typically expire within a few years and don’t contain much in the way of nutrition due to the canning or manufacturing process. Dehydrated & freeze dried emergency food retains most of it’s original nutritional value as only the water is removed from the food items. Dehydrated & freeze dried foods can also last up to 25 years when stored properly vs. canned or boxed goods that expire within a few years.
Water Filtration vs. Water Storage
What about water? You will need to be prepared with water filtration or water storage options. If you live within walking distance to a water source (creek, river, lake, pond, etc.) you can simply filter the water as you need it. If you are filtering your water you’ll need to use a water filtration system that effectively removes biological pathogens (giardia, cryptosporidium, etc.), chemicals (toxic chemicals, pesticides, detergents, etc.), and dissolved solids (arsenic, lead, mercury, heavy metals, radiological radon 222, etc.). If you do not have access to a body of water then you will need to either stock up on bottled water or store a supply of water in water storage containers such as in 50 gallon water storage containers. The CDC recommends 1 gallon of water needed per person per day for preparation of food, drinking, and personal hygiene. It is a good idea to have water stored away but to also having a water filtration system as a backup in case you run out of water. If water filtration is your primary water option then be sure to have a second water filtration system on hand in case the first one gets damaged or malfunctions for any reason.
If your home is severely damaged and is unsafe to live in you will need some type of temporary shelter. Chances are that if the roads are impassible you will not be able to travel to a community shelter facility and even if you did it may be full by the time you get there. So then what? Have you ever been camping? Tents are a cheap, reliable, and effective means of temporary shelter. If you haven’t been camping then pick up a tent and take your family camping to get a feel for it. You need to see what works and what doesn’t work. Your tenting accommodations need to be somewhat comfortable so you don’t end up pulling each others hair out. Be sure to camp at a site that doesn’t have running water or electricity as this will mimic a realistic survival situation. This is extremely valuable as it shows how much or little water you will really need. You can get an idea of what it is like to try to conserve water when cleaning dishes, brushing your teeth, personal hygiene, etc. During your camping trip take notes on things you need to work on or other supplies you may need to make life more comfortable for you.
So there you have it – your earthquake preparedness plan needs to include food, water, and shelter. These three key items are the most basic but also the most important in terms of survival.
About the Author: Darren Gaebel is a U.S. Army Veteran and has a decade of experience with natural disasters as a catastrophe claims adjuster. During Darren’s catastrophe experience he has seen the toll it takes on families who are unprepared. For this reason he created this blog to help educate and spread awareness for disaster preparedness. Darren also created UrgentSurvival.com to provide a way for individuals, families, and disaster relief organizations to have access to a stress free solution for getting prepared. A portion of all proceeds from the website are donated to non-profit disaster relief organizations.
The Truth About the “Triangle of Life” and Why You Should Not Follow This During Earthquakes
Back in 1985, Douglas Copp, Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International, presented an earthquake survival technique called “Triangle of Life” which challenged “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” – a long-established method recognized and supported by seismologists, governments, local emergency management experts, and first response agencies in North America. This method was conceived while Copp was watching the television coverage of a earthquakes in Mexico City. He believed there were individuals that could be hiding in triangular-shaped crevices within the collapsed buildings.
According to Copp’s survival method, going underneath objects during a strong earthquake is highly dangerous and fatal in the event that the building you are in collapses. He further stated that “everyone who gets under a doorway when a building collapses is killed.” Copp also suggests that “if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to roll out of bed next to it,” and that “if an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.”
“Triangle of Life” versus “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”
In a rebuttal made by Rocky Lopes, PhD, Community Disaster Education Manager of the American Red Cross, Lopes assured that, “the recommendation to ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On!’ is a US-based recommendation based on U.S. Building Codes and construction standards. Much research in the United States has confirmed that ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On!’ has saved lives in the United States.” Lopes further asserted that based on confirmation from engineering researchers, buildings in the United States rarely collapse or “pancake” unlike what happened in Mexico City which was the basis of Copp’s “Triangle of Life”.
What is the Best Thing to Do During an Earthquake?
According to experts, the best thing to do during an earthquake is to go under a desk. This is based on infrastructural and scientific reasons. Contrary to Copp’s approach that allegedly saves people from buildings that pancake, the American Red Cross asserted that this survival method is not universal, as not all buildings in the United States pancake.
Official rescue teams, emergency managers, researchers, and school safety advocates with the United States and other countries all agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” is the appropriate action to take in order to minimize injury and death during an earthquake. Other methods such as standing in a doorway, running outside, and “Triangle of Life” are not recommended by these experts and are considered to be dangerous.
Outside the United States, several Iranian seismology researchers compared the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” method with the “Triangle of Life” back in 2009. Their findings confirmed that the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” method is still the best universal recommendation, although the “Triangle of Life” method could be better implemented in certain situations. Such situation would be in instances where people are located in wood, steel, or concrete structures, as these materials may “pancake”.
Written by: Michelle
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