How To Prepare For Storm Season | episode 145

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How To Prepare For Storm Season | episode 145
How To Prepare For Storm Season | episode 145

How To Prepare For Storm Season | episode 145

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This week is a solo episode on preparing for Storm Season. Spring and summer means thunderstorms and tornados to many. 

Unlike the zombie, apocalypse storms are real and kill people every year. Either directly or indirectly. 

One of the biggest issues they storms bring are power outages. 

 

 

  • Thunderstorms and tornados. 
  • Have a plan And try it
  • Blackout kit
  • Check your back up power.
  • My battery charger died.  
  • Backup ways to cook
  • Phone aps and weather radios
  • Leave when you have to and be prepared to Stay When its best
 

 

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The post How To Prepare For Storm Season | episode 145 appeared first on Survival Punk.

Blizzard Safety Tips

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carsinsnow

The March Blizzard

 

 

I find myself a little surprised to be writing about blizzard survival with Spring just around the corner, but weather forecasts are predicting a particularly nasty blizzard for the East Coast. Strong winds and a foot of snow are possible from Maryland to Maine. March came in like a lamb, but it’s acting like a lion for those in the Northeast.

Winter storms (this one is named “Stella”) occur every year in the United States, and cause fatalities among the unprepared. 70% of deaths occur due to traffic accidents and 25% from hypothermia from being caught outside during the blizzard. With Stella’s strong winds, trees and power lines burdened with heavy snowfall may topple, causing additional hazards.

If a blizzard knocks you off the grid but you’re still in your home (a great place to be), keep everyone in an inside room, preferably without windows. The heat from several bodies will make a small space warmer.

Heat in the home can be conserved by shutting the doors of unused rooms and drawing blinds and curtains to add insulation.  Stuff towels under the door to prevent loss of warmth from the room you’re using. If you’re using some form of alternative heat, however, make certain that there is reasonable ventilation. Prepare for mishaps by having a fire extinguisher handy.

Staying hydrated is important. You’d be surprised how much a family uses, so fill the bathtub with water. Plumbing might be kept from freezing by allowing faucets to drip. Stock up on non-perishable food.

Winter conditions don’t just affect people; they affect cars as well. Cold affects rubber and metal; it even decreases the battery’s efficiency. Tires become stiff and flat for the first few hundred yards. Motor oil and other lubricants become thicker at cold temperatures. This makes the engine work harder.

Therefore, vehicles that will be doing duty in extreme cold should be “winterized”. This involves switching to a lighter viscosity oil, changing to snow tires, and choosing the right (anti-freeze) ratio of coolant to water. Gas tanks should be full if at all possible.

blizzard

Not the best time to be outside (image courtesy of pixabay.com)

 

OUTSIDE IN A BLIZZARD

You’re not a bear, so you can’t hibernate through the cold weather; you’ll have to take measures to avoid getting stranded out in the cold. Many deaths from exposure are avoidable if simple precautions are taken

The first thing that you should do before planning a day outdoors in snowy weather is consult your weather radio for the forecast. If a storm is on the way, postpone your outing until the weather improves.

Dress appropriately and in layers. Each successive layer of clothing traps warm air near your body. Wool is the best material for staying warm. Unlike cotton, wool will stay warm even if somewhat wet, and wicks perspiration away from the skin. Wet clothing will cause you to lose body core temperature faster. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.

SEEK SHELTER

tree well

A Tree Well Shelter

Some people might be caught by surprise when a winter storm hits the backcountry. If you’re in the wilderness, seek some form of shelter immediately to get out of the wind. There are many types of shelters, but one can be made in a “tree well”. A tree well is the sunken area around the trunk in very deep snow. This area is relatively easy to excavate and, if the tree has low-hanging branches, should provide some protection from falling snow. Look for natural barriers nearby that may serve as windbreaks, but beware of slopes where you may be exposed to drifting snow or avalanches.

The space you dig out should be small, as small shelters take less effort to keep warm than large ones. Pack your snow “walls” well, which retains heat better and can support a makeshift roof. Place evergreen boughs and debris on the floor to protect you from the cold ground. Then add some on top to make a roof. Tarps or solar blankets may also be used for this purpose, but winds might easily blow them off. Tie rocks to the corners as weights.

If a tree well is not an option, digging a “cave” out of deep snow can serve to insulate you from the wind (think igloo). If you make a fire, be sure to have ventilation holes in your shelter. Entrances and ventilation holes should open at a 90 degree angle to the prevailing winds.

Stay hydrated but don’t eat snow. Your body must first melt it and loses heat as a result. If you don’t have fire to melt snow, put a container with it in your clothes, but not next to the skin. Hypothermia and other cold-related medical issues are covered here.

STRANDED IN THE CAR

caraccidentwinter

You won’t always be stranded on a busy highway

The first question you should ask before you get in the car in cold weather is “Is this trip necessary?”. If you don’t have to leave the house in a snowstorm, don’t. Period. If you do, drive as if your life depended on it, because it does. Don’t speed, tailgate, or weave from lane to lane. Make turns slowly and deliberately, and be careful to avoid quick stops and starts

Let’s say that, despite your best efforts, you’re stuck on the road in a blizzard. Help may be on the way, but what if it isn’t? It’s important to stay calm and don’t leave the car. It’s warmer there than outside and you’re protected from the wind.

Wet snow can block up your exhaust pipes and cause carbon monoxide gas to enter the passenger compartment. You’ll need fresh air, but don’t crack a window on the side where the wind is coming from. If you’re in a group, huddle together as best you can to create a warm pocket in the car. Rub your hands, put them in your armpits, or otherwise keep moving; this will help your muscles produce heat.

Maybe you can dig yourself out, but beware of overexertion in extreme cold. You’ll sweat, and wet clothes are a main cause of hypothermia. If you have flares, use them to let others know you need help.

THE WINTER SURVIVAL CAR KIT

There are a number of items that you should always have in your car, especially in cold weather. These are meant to keep you safe if the unthinkable happens and you’re stranded without hope of rescue. Your blizzard survival car kit should contain:

  • Wool blankets (for warmth; wool can stay warm even if wet)
  • Spare sets of dry clothes, especially socks, hats, and mittens.
  • Hard warmers or other instant heat packs (activated by shak- ing, they’ll last for hours)
  • Matches, lighters, and fire starters to manufacture heat Flashlights and candles (keep batteries in backwards until you need them to extend life).
  • Small multi-tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
  • Larger combination tool like a foldable military surplus shovel (some are multipurpose and can be used as an axe or saw)
  • Sand or rock salt (to give traction where needed)
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Flares
  • Starter cables (for jump starts)
  • Water and food (energy bars, MREs, dehydrated soups, candies)
  • Baby wipes (for hygiene purposes)
  • A medical kit and medications
  • Tarp and duct tape (brightly colored ones will be more visible and aid rescue)
  • Metal cup or thermos (to melt snow, make soup, etc.) Noisemaker (whistle) to signal for help
  • Cell phone and charger, weather radio

A March storm can be as deadly as one in January. With a plan of action, a few supplies, and a little luck, you’ll survive even in the worst blizzard.

 

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about cold weather, hot weather, and many other issues in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, The Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way!

Survival Medicine Hour: Dental Supplies, Tornadoes

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tornado1

Tornado in the Midwest

 

The Survival Medicine Hour is hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones, and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, of https://www.doomandbloom.net/, where you can find over 900 posts, videos and podcasts on disaster and survival strategies.

 

In this episode, we’re on the road speaking in places like Memphis and New Orleans! Tornadoes have hit the area as well as the Midwest, so we discuss keeping your family safe in a twister. Plus, a rundown of what you’d need in the line of dental supplies for long term disaster preparedness.

 

dental_extraction_forcep

dental extractor

To listen in, click below:

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/03/03/survival-medicine-hour-tornados-dental-supplies

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

LabCoatsBonesAmy1

The Altons

Check out our latest 700 page edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available on Amazon!

Tornado Preparedness

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tornado

Tornadoes

 

There are many natural disasters that might befall a community, but a tornado is one of the most unpredictable. Several people were killed in the last few days as a rash of storms wreaked havoc in the South and Midwest. Indeed, hundreds of people are killed yearly by tornadoes, but many injuries and deaths may be avoided with sound preparation.

 

 

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and the thunderstorm (sometimes called a “supercell”) that spawned it. From a distance, tornadoes usually appear in the form of a visible dark funnel with all sorts of flying debris in and around it. Because of rainfall, they may be difficult to see when close up.

 

 

A tornado (also called a “twister”) may have winds of up to 300 miles per hour, and can travel for a number of miles before petering out. They may be accompanied by hail and emit a distinctive roaring sound that will remind you of a passing train. We have personally experienced this at our own home some years ago, and it is terrifying.

 

 

There are almost a thousand tornadoes in the United States every year, more than are reported in any other country. Most of these occur in “Tornado Alley”, an area that encompasses parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and neighboring states. Spring and early summer are the peak seasons.

 

 

Injuries from tornadoes usually come as a result of trauma from the flying debris that is carried along with it. Strong winds can carry large objects and fling them around in a manner that is hard to believe. Indeed, there is a report that, in 1931, an 83 ton train was lifted and thrown 80 feet from the tracks.

 

 

Tornadoes are categorized as level 0-5 by the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is based on wind speeds and the amount of damage caused:

 

 

F0 Light: Winds 40-72 miles per hour; smaller trees uprooted or branches broken, mild structural damage.
F1 Moderate: winds 73–112 miles per hour; Broken windows, small tree trunks broken, overturned mobile homes, destruction of carports or toolsheds, roof tiles missing.
F2 Considerable: winds 113–157 miles per hour; Mobile homes destroyed, major structural damage to frame homes due to flying debris, some large trees snapped in half or uprooted.
F3 Severe: winds 158–206 miles per hour; Roofs torn from homes, small frame homes destroyed, most trees snapped and uprooted.
F4 Devastating: winds 207–260 miles per hour; Strong- structure buildings damaged or destroyed or lifted from foundations, cars lifted and blown away, even large debris airborne.

F5 Incredible: winds 261–318 miles per hour; Larger buildings lifted from foundations, trees snapped, uprooted and debarked, objects weighing more than a ton become airborne missiles.

 

 

Although some places may have sirens or other methods of warning you of an approaching twister, it is important to plan for your family to weather the storm. Having a plan before a tornado touches down is the most likely way you will survive the event. Children should be taught where to find the medical kits, and how to use a fire extinguisher. If appropriate, teach everyone how to safely turn off the gas and electricity. For a more complete supply list of items before, during, and after the storm, follow this link on tornado safety from the Red Cross:

 

 

http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340177_Tornado.pdf

 

 

When you are in the path of a tornado, take shelter immediately unless you live in a mobile home. These are especially vulnerable to damage from the winds. If there is time, get to the nearest building that has a tornado shelter or is, at least, solidly constructed; underground shelters are best.

 

 

If you live in Tornado Alley, consider putting together your own underground shelter. Unlike bunkers and other structures built for long-term use, a tornado shelter only has to provide safety for a short period of time. As such, it doesn’t have to be very large; 8-10 square feet per person would be acceptable. Despite this, be sure to consider ventilation and the comfort or special needs of those using the shelter.

 

 

If you don’t have a shelter, find the safest place in the house where family members can gather. Basements, bathrooms, closets or inside rooms without windows are the best options. Windows can easily shatter from impact due to flying debris.

 

 

For added protection, get under a heavy object such as a sturdy table. Covering your body with a sleeping bag or mattress will provide an additional shield. Discuss this plan of action with every member of your family regularly, so that they will know this process by heart.

 

 

If you’re in a car and can drive to a shelter, do so. Although you may be hesitant to leave your vehicle, remember that they can be easily tossed around by high winds; you may be safer if there is a culvert or other area lower than the roadway. It is not safe to hide under a bridge or overpass, however, as the winds can easily reach you.

 

 

In town, leaving the car to enter a sturdy building is appropriate. If there is no other shelter, however, staying in your car will protect you from some of the flying debris (it should be noted that even a car can be sent flying in a powerful tornado). Keep your seat belt on, put your head down below the level of the windows, and cover yourself if at all possible.

 

 

If you’re out hiking when a tornado hits, get away from heavily wooded areas. Torn branches and other debris become missiles, so an open field or ditch may be safer. Lying face down flat in a ditch or other low spot in the ground may give you some protection. Make sure to cover your head if at all possible, even if it’s just with your hands.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

 

JoeAltonLibrary3

Fill those holes in your medical preparedness supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net!

 

Car Survival in Winter

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carsinsnow

It’s predicted to be another harsh winter and, for most in the U.S., this means trouble if someone gets stuck out on the road during a blizzard or other extreme conditions. Hypothermia (the effects on the body from exposure to cold) may occur on the wilderness trail, but also right in the driver’s seat of the family car. It’s important to have a plan in case you are stranded in your vehicle.

 

Your Car

 

Winter conditions don’t just affect people, they affect cars as well. Cold affects rubber and metal; it even decreases the battery’s efficiency. Tires become stiff and flat for the first few hundred yards. Your oil and other lubricants become thicker at cold temperatures. This makes the engine work harder.

 

Therefore, vehicles that will be doing duty in extreme cold should be “winterized”. This involves switching to a lighter viscosity oil, changing to snow tires, and choosing the right (anti-freeze) ratio of coolant to water. Gas tanks should never be less than half full.

 

Your Life 

 

You’re not a bear, so you can’t hibernate through the cold weather; you’ll have to live in it, so take measures to avoid becoming a victim of it. Many deaths from exposure are avoidable if simple precautions are taken.

 

The first question you should ask before you get in the car in cold weather is: What’s the forecast? Is it possible that you’re driving straight into trouble? Checking the weather beforehand is a lot better than finding out about it on the road.

 

The second question should be: “Is this trip necessary?” If the answer is “no”, you should stay home. For most people that work, however, the answer is “yes”. If you have no choice but to hit the road during a winter storm, drive as if your life depends on it (because it does). Brush ice and snow off windshields, side mirrors, or anywhere your view might be blocked. Don’t speed, tailgate, or weave in and out of traffic. Make turns slowly and deliberately; avoid quick stops and starts.

 

Notify someone of your travel plans before you head out, especially if you’re in rural areas. Take your cell phone with you but save it for emergencies. Your focus has to be on the road, not on texts from your friends.

 

Stranded!

 

If you live in an area that routinely has very cold winters, you may not be able to avoid being stranded in your car one day. Your level of preparedness will improve your chances of staying healthy and getting back home. So what should your plan of action be?

 

  1. Stay calm and don’t leave the car. It’s warmer there than outside and you have protection from the wind. Having adequate shelter is one of the keys to success, whether it’s in the wilderness or on a snow-covered highway.
  2. Ventilation is preferable to asphyxiation. Crack a window on the side away from the wind for some fresh air. People talk about water and food being necessary for survival but, first, you’ll need air to breathe. Wet snow can block up your exhaust system, which causes carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Colorless and odorless, it’s a deadly gas that kills in enclosed spaces without ventilation. Clearing the exhaust pipe of snow and running the engine only ten minutes or so an hour will help prevent monoxide poisoning.
  3. Group Hug. If you’re in a group, huddle together as best you can to create a warm pocket in the car.
  4. Keep Moving. Rub your hands, put them in your armpits, or otherwise keep moving to make your muscles produce heat.
  5. Don’t overexert yourself. If your car is stuck in the snow, you’ll want to dig yourself out. A lot of sweat, however, will cause clothing to become wet. Wet clothing loses its value as insulation and leads to hypothermia.
  6. Let others know you’re there. If you have flares, use them. Flashing emergency lights on your vehicle will drain battery power, so use them only if you think someone might see them.

The Winter Car Kit 

caraccidentwinter

If you’re going to travel in very cold conditions, there are a certain number of items that you should keep in your vehicle. This is what an effective winter survival car kit contains:

 

  • Wool Blankets. Wool can stay warm even when wet.
  • Spare sets of dry clothes, including socks, hats, and mittens.
  • Hard warmers or other instant heat packs (activated, usually, by shaking, they’ll last for hours)
  • Matches, lighters and/or firestarters in case you need to manufacture heat.
  • Candles, flashlights (keep batteries in backwards until you need them).
  • Small multi-tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
  • Larger combination tool like a foldable shovel (acts as a shovel but also an axe, saw, etc.)
  • Sand or rock salt in plastic container (to give traction where needed.)
  • Tow chain or rope.
  • Flares.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Water, Food (energy bars, MREs, dehydrated soups, candies).
  • Baby wipes for hygiene purposes.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Medications as needed.
  • Tarp and duct tape (brightly colored ones will be more visible and aid rescue.)
  • Metal cup, thermos, heat source (to melt snow, make soup, etc.)
  • Noisemaker (whistle)
  • Cell phone and charger

The items above will give you a head start in keeping safe and sound even if stranded. With a plan of action, a few supplies, and a little luck, you’ll survive even in the worst blizzard.

 

Joe Alton MD

AuthorJoe

Video: Hurricane Tips (With Winds in the Background)

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hurricanepalms2

Hurricane Safety Tips

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD goes into his own backyard while Hurricane Matthew’s winds start coming in, and describes 28 different safety tips regarding food, water, shelter, evacuation, and much more for any major storm. One of Dr. Alton’s most comprehensive videos on storm preparedness so far.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

 

28 Sensible Tips To Get Through A Hurricane

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storm surge

Hurricane Matthew is slowly churning it way towards the U.S. with sustained winds of 140 mph or more, and the potential for major damage and loss of life exists for many coastal areas.

Hurricanes can certainly be dangerous, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad the situation might be and how much time we have to get ready.

Even before it’s clear that your area is in danger of being hit by the storm, you should have considered factors like food, water, power, and shelter. By having a plan of action beforehand, you’ll decrease the risk to your family significantly.

Here are a few (actually, 28!) tips to help those preparing for the worst, while hoping for the best:

HITTING THE ROAD

1.Make a G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) decision: Rugged individualists may want to ride out the storm, but some coastal residents would be best served by hitting the road. When the authorities say it’s time to evacuate, you should be ready to go. Don’t forget to turn off the power, gas, and water before you leave.

2.Head inland: Hurricanes gain their strength by warm ocean waters, and lose strength quickly as they get further into the interior. If you’re escaping the storm, the further inland you go, the safer you’ll be. If there isn’t time, most coastal municipalities will have designated a sturdy building as a hurricane shelter.

3.Have a “GO” bag: Always have a set of supplies ready to take with you on short notice. Non-perishable food, bottled water, extra clothing, flashlights and batteries, a NOAA weather radio, medicines, and a first aid kit are just a few of the items that will ensure your survival. Although you’ll see recommendations to have a 72 hour supply, this figure is arbitrary, and a week’s worth would be even better.

4.Have a cell phone charger: Communication is key. Many cell phone chargers can be plugged into the car where the cigarette lighter used to be.

5.Have cash on hand: Power for credit card verification could be down after a hurricane; if you don’t keep some cash on hand, you’ll have a power shortage: Purchasing power.

Let’s say you haven’t received an evacuation order, and you’re going to ride out the storm in place. Here are some considerations you want to take into account:

FOOD

6.Keep it Cold: Have the refrigerator and freezer down to their coldest settings so that food will take longer to spoil.

7.Collect Ice: Collect ice in plastic bags and place them throughout to prolong freshness. If there are open spots, fill Tupperware containers or plastic soda bottles/milk jugs with water, freeze them, and place them in the spaces. The fuller the fridge is, the longer the items in it will stay cool.

8.Wrap It in Foil: Wrap food items in aluminum foil, eliminating air pockets, and cram the foil packs together as closely as possible.

9.Cook ‘Em and Freeze ‘Em: Cook meats before the hurricane gets close and freeze them. As cooking requires fuel, have some full propane tanks or charcoal briquettes in your supplies for when the power goes out.

10.Eat the Perishables Now: Eat the perishables first, canned foods later.

11.Keep It Closed: Don’t leave the refrigerator door open while deciding what food to take out. Visualize where a particular item is and then open the door. Close it as quickly as possible.

WATER

12.Water, Water everywhere: Have a stockpile of 5 gallon bottles of water or a plentiful supply of smaller bottles.

13.Fill the Tub: Fill all bathtubs with water. You might think this is overkill, but every member of your family needs 1 gallon of water per day. It goes fast.

14.Drink the Melted Ice: As refrigerated ice in containers melts, don’t waste it. Use it as an additional source of drinking water.

15.Hot Water Heaters Hold….Water!: Hot water heaters have gallons and gallons of drinkable water; don’t hesitate to raid them if you get low. First, turn off the electricity or gas. Attach a hose to the drain valve and release the vacuum in the tank by opening a hot water faucet. There might be some sediment at the bottom that should be drained out first.

16.Sterilize it: Have some household bleach available to sterilize questionable water (like from the water heater). 12-16 drops per gallon should do the job. Wait 30 minutes before drinking.

17.Have a water filter: handheld filters like the Lifestraw or Sawyer Mini, or larger ones like the Berkey can be useful to deal with cloudy water.

SHELTER

18.Put Up The Shutters:  If you have hurricane shutters, put them up at least 24 hours before hurricane landfall. It’s no fun to have to stand on a ladder in gale force winds and pouring rain to install them. Been there, done that.

19.Move Furniture/Plants Inside: Move the patio furniture and potted plants indoors. If you can’t for some reason, chain them together against an outer wall downwind from the direction of the storm.

20.Prune Trees: Prune all trees near your home so that wind can easily flow through the crowns. Otherwise, expect some to be downed by the storm. Branches, fruit (in South Florida, coconuts!), and other debris can act as missiles in high winds.

21.Pick a “Safe Room”: Choose a room in the interior of the home, preferably one without unshuttered windows.

22.Place candles in pans: Candles can be knocked over by winds and cause fires. If you must use them, stick them in a pan with shiny sides that would be deep enough to cover the flame.

23.Have Tarps at the Ready: Large tarps can be used to cover windows and, after the storm, to cover any areas of the roof that might have been damaged.

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

24.The Kids: Have board games, toys, and books to keep the children’s minds off scary winds. If you’re evacuating, let kids bring their favorite stuffed animals, blanket, or pillow to keep them calm.

25.Your Other Kids: Don’t forget to take into account the needs of your pets. Have food, water, and their favorite toy available, whether you leave or stay at home.

26.Your Other, Other Kid: Make sure your car is in good working order and filled with gas. Having some spare gas cans will be useful in case of a shortage at the pumps, and can be used to run generators (although never inside).

27.Your documents: Place important papers like birth certificates, passports, insurance documents, and others in waterproof containers. Scan them and send them in an email to yourself.

28.Keep your radio on: A NOAA weather radio, battery-powered or hand-cranked, will be an important source of information on the progress of the storm, and for community updates.

Being prepared for a hurricane can make sure that the storm will be just a bump in the road, and not the end of the road for you and your family. Have a plan of action, get some supplies, and you’ll join the ranks of the few, the proud, the prepared!

Joe Alton, MD

 

joealtonlibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

 

Find out more about hurricane preparedness and many other natural disasters in the new Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Help is Not on the Way, available on this website or at amazon.com.

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Would You Survive A Hurricane?

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hurricane satellite image pixabay

The “eye” of a hurricane

After more than a decade without a major hurricane, South Florida faces the possibility of a glancing blow from powerful Hurricane Matthew. Are you ready, Floridians and East Coasters? Matthew was downgraded to a very strong category 4 storm recently but is thought to still pack winds of 150 mph.

It doesn’t take very long for people to forget the devastation that previous hurricanes have caused in the United States. Hurricanes are one of the few disasters that advanced weather forecasting can predict well ahead of its arrival. The National Weather Service puts out regular advisories for upcoming storms. Despite this, few are prepared to handle the dangers to life and property that can occur.

Hurricane Matthew is a high level storm with winds of up to 150 mph. Hurricanes are graded into 5 categories by the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The scale uses maximum sustained winds as a measure:
Category 1: 74-95 mph winds

Category 2:  96-110 mph winds

Category 3:  111-130 mph winds

Category 4:  131-155 mph winds

Category 5:  >155 mph winds

Although hurricane season starts in June, most major storms in the Atlantic seem to hit in August, September, and October. Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore in late October. Category five hurricanes Katrina and Andrew (2005, 1992) hit in late August.

hurricanepalms2

Coconuts? You mean missiles…

Are You Ready?

Hurricanes can be dangerous, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad it might get and how much time we have to get ready.

An effective plan of action takes into account factors like shelter, clean water, food, power, and other important issues.  By planning before a hurricane threatens your area, you’ll avoid the mad rush for supplies that leaves supermarket shelves empty.

Perhaps your most important decision might be:  Should you get out of Dodge? You can actually outrun one of these storms if you get enough of a head start. At present, for example, Hurricane Matthew is plodding along at about 7 mph.  If you live on the coast or in an area that floods often, there will be rising tide waters (known as the “storm surge”) that might cause impressive flooding. Indeed, flooding is the leading cause of deaths due to hurricanes.

The National Weather Service keeps a close eye on hurricanes and issues two types of warnings:

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within a specified area.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within a specified area.

In many cases, the authorities will issue an order to evacuate areas that will be hardest hit. If such an order is broadcast, you should leave. If you live near the coast in pre-fabricated housing, such as a trailer, it’s wisest to hit the road before the storm makes landfall. Alternatively, many municipalities will designate a hurricane-resistant public building nearby as an official shelter.

If you do choose to leave town, plan to go as far inland as possible.   Hurricanes get their strength from the warm water temperatures over the tropical ocean; they lose strength quickly as they travel over land.  It might be a wise move to make reservations at a hotel early if you don’t have a place to go; there will be little room at the inn for the latecomers.

A good idea is to always have a set of supplies ready to go for any emergency. This kit is called a “Bug-Out”, “Go”, or “GOOD” (Get Out Of Dodge) bag. Although most survivalists recommend packing for 72 hours off the grid in case of a disaster, that number is arbitrary; be prepared to at least have a week’s supply of food and drinking water, as well as extra clothing and medical supplies.

storm surge

storm surge

Riding Out The Storm

If you decide to weather the storm at home, have an idea of what your home’s weak spots are.  What amount of sustained wind your structure can withstand?  Most homes are built to withstand 90 mph winds, but when South Florida was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new homes in South Florida were mandated to be able to withstand 125 mph winds. If the coming storm has sustained winds over that level, you may not be able to depend on the structural integrity of older homes.

Where is the best place in the home to serve as a “safe room”?  It should be in the part of the home most downwind of the direction from which the hurricane is hitting you. Be certain to plan for any special needs that family members (and pets) may have.  You may wind up taking care of more people that you expect, so have more water and non-perishable food than you think you’ll need (1 gallon/day per person minimum). Filling bathtubs with fresh water would give you a reasonable supply.

Outdoors

Unsecured objects can become missiles in a hurricane. Outdoors, move all patio furniture and potted plants either inside the house or up against the outside wall, preferably secured with chains. Put up hurricane shutters if you have them.

One special issue for South Floridians is coconuts:  They turn into cannonballs in a hurricane.  Cut them off the tree before the winds come.  Interestingly, the palm trees themselves, as they don’t have a dense crown, seem to weather most high winds without a problem.  Trees with dense crowns, however, should be pruned to allow wind through and all dead branches removed.

Roof shingles are often casualties of the storm, so have some waterproof tarps available. Roofers are going to be pretty busy after a major storm and might not get to you right away.  In South Florida after Wilma (2005), there were still tarps on roofs more than a year later.

Indoors

Indoor planning is important as well.  Communications may be out in a major storm, so have a NOAA weather radio and lots of fresh batteries. Turn refrigerators and freezers down to their coldest settings, so that food won’t spoil right away if the power fails.  Coolers filled with ice or dry ice will extend the life of some of your more perishable items. Don’t forget a hand-operated can opener.

Fill up gas and propane tanks early in every hurricane season. Make sure that you know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water, if necessary, and perhaps consider getting a generator and some extra gas cans. Never use gas grills or generators indoors, though, as the fumes may be life-threatening.

There’s another kind of power you should be concerned about. In the aftermath of a storm, credit card verification may be down; without cash, you may have no purchasing power at all.

What About The Kids?

If you’ve hunkered down in your home during the storm, make sure that you’ve got books, board games, and light sources for when the power goes down. Kids (and most adults) go stir crazy when stuck inside, especially if they don’t have TVs or computers in service.

Take time to discuss the coming storm in advance with the whole family; this will give everyone an idea of what to expect, and keep fear down to a minimum.  Give the kids some responsibility, as well.  Give them the opportunity to pack their own bag or select games to play.  This will keep their minds busy and their nerves calm.

Be Smart

It’s amazing how thrill-seekers will go out in the middle of a storm; people seem to be enthralled with hurricanes, and will go out in dangerous winds to take selfies or do other foolish things. This is a recipe for a bad outcome, and some avoidable deaths will occur as a result. Several were killed during Hurricane Sandy because of their zeal to go out during the worst part of the storm. Take hurricanes seriously; there’s danger from flooding, flying debris, falling trees, and much more.

After the Storm

Some items will be useful in the cleanup after the storm.  You’ll need work gloves, plastic garbage bags, duct tape, insect repellent, and even tweezers to deal with the splinters that inevitably are part and parcel of moving a lot of debris.  A chain saw might be needed as well.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, cell phone service may be down due to the huge volume of calls. Texts may be possible, however, even if voice calls aren’t.

By planning early to get your home and family prepared for a hurricane, you’ll have the best chance of .

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

 

always have some medical supplies available for your GO bag to deal with injuries caused by violent storms, and what better place to find kits and supplies than by checking out Nurse Amy’s often-imitated but never-equaled entire line specifically meant for disaster and homestead settings. Find them at store.doomandbloom.net!

Survival Medicine Hour: Epipens, Hurricanes, Kratom, Chamomile

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epi-pen
The Survival Medicine Hour hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, are bringing you another episode of exciting and thrilling (well very entertaining and useful at least) survival information. Don’t miss out! Folks we have another hurricane on the horizon, Matthew is churning up the seas and is now a level 3 Hurricane with the possibility of hitting the USA in a few days time. Get prepared and learn what you need to do now to stay safe. Storm safety for all kinds of storms is vital knowledge.
What’s up with the Epipen crisis? What will you do if you don’t have or can’t afford the epipen, or even the still expensive ($606 for 2 pack) generic version? Dr. Bones shares a method of administering an alternative in the face of an emergency.
Kratom is being made into a schedule 1 drug, which is the same level as Heroin. This herb is blamed for 15 deaths, but only one of those deaths was the person found with only Kratom onboard. Many Kratom users herald it as the reason they were able to stop using other drugs, like heroin and pain meds. The users and their families contacted their congress members and a call to delay the change of Kratom to a schedule 1 drug has been made by the supportive congress members. More research should be done to accurately determine the effects of Kratom before a hastily decision is made. We discuss this issue and give you the 411.
Chamomile is a wonderful herbal medicine. It has been used safely for thousands of years. It is know to calm digestive issues and calm nervous disorders. Nurse Amy discusses this awesome herbal remedy and how to use it.
To listen in, click below:
Joe and Amy Alton
Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600

Amy Alton, MD

 

Find out how to deal with medical issues in disaster/survival settings with the brand new 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The essential guide for when medical help is not on the way.

Survival Medicine Hour: Hurricanes, Zika Update, Bee Deaths

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zika virus

Zika Virus

In this episode of the Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, a Florida landfall occurs for a hurricane for the first time in more than a decade. Were you ready? What should you do to prepare for the next one? Plus, Dr. Bones discusses new tragedies for the native bee population in the U.S. What will be the straw that break’s the bee’s, I mean, camel’s back? With every third bite of food you put in your mouth coming as a result of some bee pollinating a plant, you should be invested in this topic!

storm surge

A hurricane’s storm surge

Plus, we haven’t talked about Zika for a while, but that’s not because there hasn’t been a lot of news about it. Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones follow the globetrotting pandemic to a new outbreak in Singapore, talk about outbreaks that might not be reported due to lack of testing, and the effects that could occur on zika-infected newborns that are born looking perfectly normal.

bee1

More bad news for bees

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy!

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/09/04/survival-medicine-hour-more-bad-news-for-bees-hurricanes-and-a-zika-update

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

The Altons

Are You Ready For A Hurricane?

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hurricane satellite image pixabay

image by pixabay.com

As Hurricane Hermine makes landfall in the Florida panhandle, I realized that I haven’t written an article on hurricane preparedness since Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey coast in 2012. Florida, usually considered the most hurricane-prone state, has been extraordinarily lucky until now, with Hurricane Wilma in 2005 (the same year as Katrina) hit South Florida.

It doesn’t take very long for people to forget the devastation that previous hurricanes have caused in the United States. Hurricanes are one of the few disasters that advanced weather forecasting can predict well ahead of its arrival. The National Weather Service puts out regular advisories for upcoming storms. Despite this, few are prepared to handle the dangers to life and property that can occur.

Hurricane Hermine is, as hurricanes go, a lower level storm known as a “Category 1” with winds of 74-95 mph. Hurricanes are graded into 5 categories by the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The scale uses maximum sustained winds as a measure; stronger storms are categorized as follows:
Category 2:  96-110 mph winds

Category 3:  111-130 mph winds

Category 4:  131-155 mph winds

Category 5:  >155 mph winds

 

Hurricane season starts in June, but most major storms seem to hit in August, September, and October. Sandy hit the U.S. in late October. Category five hurricanes Katrina and Andrew (1992) hit in late August.

Are You Ready for a Hurricane?

Certainly, hurricanes can be severe, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad it might get and how much time we have to get ready.  An effective plan of action takes into account factors like shelter, clean water, food, power, and other important issues.  By planning before a hurricane threatens your area, you’ll avoid the mad rush for supplies that leaves supermarket shelves empty.

storm surge

the “storm surge” is responsible for many hurricane-related deaths

You can outrun one of these storms if you get enough of a head start. That’s actually one of your most important decisions:  Should you get out of Dodge?  If you live on the coast or in an area that floods often, there will be rising tide waters (known as the “storm surge”) that might reason enough to leave. The storm surge, combined with heavy rains, can cause impressive flooding, and is the leading cause of deaths due to hurricanes.

The National Weather Service keeps a close eye on hurricanes and issues two types of warnings:

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within a specified area.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within a specified area.

In many cases, the authorities will issue an order to evacuate areas that will be hardest hit. If such an order is broadcast, you should leave. If you live in pre-fabricated housing, such as a trailer, or near the coast, it’s wisest to hit the road before the storm makes landfall. Alternatively, many municipalities will designate a hurricane-resistant public building in your own community as an official shelter.

If you do choose to leave town, plan to go as far inland as possible.   Hurricanes get their strength from the warm water temperatures over the tropical ocean; they lose strength quickly as they travel over land.  It might be a wise move to make reservations at a hotel early; there will be little room at the inn for the latecomers.

A good idea is to always have a “GO” bag ready for any emergency. Although most people pack for 72 hours off the grid in case of a disaster, that number is relatively arbitrary; be prepared to at least have a week’s supply of food and drinking water, as well as extra clothing and medical supplies.

You should have an idea of what your home’s weak spots are.  Do you know what amount of sustained wind your structure can withstand?  Most homes are built to withstand 90 mph winds, but when South Florida was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new homes in South Florida were mandated to be able to withstand 125 mph winds. If the coming storm has sustained winds over that level, you may not be able to depend on the structural integrity of your home.

Riding Out The Storm

If you decide to weather the storm at home, designate a safe room somewhere in the interior of the house.  It should be in a part of the home most downwind from the direction the hurricane is hitting you. Be certain to plan for any special needs that family members (and pets) may have.  You may wind up taking care of more people that you expect, so have more water and non-perishable food than you think you’ll need (1 gallon/day per person minimum). Filling bathtubs with fresh water would give you a reasonable supply.

Outdoors

Unsecured objects can become missiles in a hurricane. Outdoors, move all patio furniture and potted plants either inside the house or up against the outside wall, preferably secured with chains. Put up hurricane shutters if you have them.

One special issue for South Floridians is coconuts:  They turn into cannonballs in a hurricane.  Cut them off the tree before the winds come.  Interestingly, the palm trees themselves, as they don’t have a dense crown, seem to weather most high winds without a problem.  Trees with dense crowns, however, should be pruned to allow wind through and all dead branches removed.

Roof shingles are often casualties of the storm, so have some waterproof tarps available. Roofers are going to be pretty busy after a major storm and might not get to you right away.  In South Florida after Wilma (2005), there were still tarps on roofs more than a year later.

Indoors

Indoor planning is important as well.  Communications may be out in a major storm, so have a NOAA weather radio and lots of fresh batteries. Turn refrigerators and freezers down to their coldest settings, so that food won’t spoil right away if the power fails.  Coolers filled with ice or dry ice will extend the life of some of your more perishable items. Don’t forget a hand-operated can opener.

Fill up gas and propane tanks early in every hurricane season. Make sure that you know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water, if necessary, and perhaps consider getting a generator and some extra gas cans. Never use gas grills or generators indoors, though, as the fumes may be life-threatening.

There’s another kind of power you should be concerned about. In the aftermath of a storm, credit card verification may be down; without cash, you may have no purchasing power at all.

What About The Kids?

If you’ve hunkered down in your home during the storm, make sure that you’ve got books, board games, and light sources for when the power goes down. Kids (and most adults) go stir crazy when stuck inside, especially if they don’t have TVs or computers in service.

Take time to discuss the coming storm in advance with the whole family; this will give everyone an idea of what to expect, and keep fear down to a minimum.  Give the kids some responsibility, as well.  Give them the opportunity to pack their own bag or select games to play.  This will keep their minds busy and their nerves calm.

People are enthralled with hurricanes, and will go out in dangerous winds to take selfies or do other foolish things. This is a recipe for a bad outcome, and some avoidable deaths will occur as a result.

Some items will be useful in the cleanup after the storm.  You’ll need work gloves, plastic garbage bags, duct tape, insect repellent, and even tweezers to deal with the splinters that inevitably are part and parcel of moving a lot of debris.  A chain saw might be needed as well.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, cell phone service may be down due to the huge volume of calls. Texts may be possible, however, even if voice calls aren’t.

By planning early to get your home and family prepared for a hurricane, you’ll get through the storm in the best shape possible.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Dr. Alton

13 Safety Tips For Floods

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Mid Atlantic Coast Prepares For Hurricane Sandy

Storms often bring flooding

The recent Louisiana floods which claimed 11 lives and damaged 40,000 homes show how easily low-lying areas can be devastated by bad weather. Floods can occur even in normally dry areas and are so common that they represent 75% of presidential disaster proclamations. They are often seen in conjunction with other disasters like hurricanes and other storms.

 

You’d have to live on a mountaintop to avoid a flood but, even then, you’re still at risk for mudslides as a result of heavy rains. In view of this, we recently added flood and mudslide preparedness as chapters to the new Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook”. Clearly, floods are a disaster that can happen, and you should know how to keep your family safe.

 

TYPES OF FLOODING

 

A flood is defined as an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry. In the United States, there are various causes for flooding, including:

 
Flash Floods: Flash floods usually develop shortly after a nearby heavy rain. I say nearby because it doesn’t have to be raining at your location for rising water to endanger you. These floods create a rapid rise of water, especially in low-lying areas like floodplains. Causes of flash flooding include heavy rain, ice jams, and levee or dam failures. This is especially common in the western United States where normally dry areas next to steep terrain might fill with rushing water.

River Flooding: River flooding can be caused by heavy rainfall, dam failures, rapid snowmelt and ice jams. Normally flow can become turbulent rapidly as in a flash flood. In other cases, water levels may rise slowly but steadily. Either way, the result threatens structures and populations along its course.

Storm Surges: Tropical (or even non-tropical) storm systems can bring heavy winds, but most damage occurs as a result of flooding due to the storm surge. Storm surge is the rise in water generated by the storm above normal tide levels. When the storm approaches the coast, high winds cause large waves that can inundate structures, damage foundations, and cause significant loss of life.

Burn Scars: The Western U.S. has had significant wildfire activity, most recently in California. After a fire, the bare ground can become so hardened that water can’t be absorbed into the ground. This is known as a “burn scar”. Burn scars are less able to absorb moisture, leading heavy rains to accumulate water wherever gravity takes it.

Ice Jams: Northern areas of the continental U.S. and Alaska may have flooding as a result of ice jams. When moving ice and debris are blocked by an obstruction, water is held back. This causes flooding upstream. When the obstruction is finally breached, flash flooding occurs downstream. Many ice jams occur at bends in a river.

Snowmelt: Snowmelt flooding is common in mountainous Northern U.S. states. Snow is, until temperatures rise above freezing, just stored water. When it gets warmer, the snowmelt acts as if it were rain and flooding can occur.

Barrier Failures: When a dam or levee breaks, it can be due to excessive rainfall, erosion, landslides, earthquakes, and many other natural causes. Some dams fail as a result of man-made issues, such as negligence, improper maintenance, and even sabotage. As a result, water level can overflow the barrier or water can seep through the ground.

 

 

FLOOD PREPAREDNESS



Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area.

 
If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

 

FLOOD SAFETY TIPS

floods_02

Flood water may not recede quickly

 

To make it safely through a flood, consider the following recommendations:

 
Hit The Road Early
Make the decision to leave for higher ground before flooding occurs and roads are blocked. Having a NOAA weather radio will keep you up to date on the latest advisories. When the authorities tell you to leave, don’t hesitate to get out of Dodge.
Be Careful Walking Through Flowing Water
Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet even if less than a foot deep. Most vehicles can be carried away by water just two foot deep.
Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area
In a flood, many people drown in their cars as they stall out in moving water. Road and bridges could easily be washed out if you waited too long to leave the area. Plan before a flood occurs to see if there is a “high road” to safety.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines
Watch for downed power lines; electrical current is easily conducted through water. You don’t have to touch the downed line to be electrocuted, only step in the water nearby. There are numerous instances of electrocutions occurring as a result of rescuers jumping into the water to try to save victims of a shock.
Don’t Drink The Water
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink: Flood water is not clean water. It is contaminated by debris and water treatment plants may even have been compromised by the disaster. Have a reliable way to purify water and a good supply of clean water stored away. 12-16 drops of household bleach will sterilize a gallon of water (a teaspoon for 5 gallons), but a filter might also be needed to eliminate debris. Wait 30 minutes after sterilization to drink.
Have Supplies Handy
Flood waters may not recede quickly. Besides water as mentioned above, have non-perishable food, bottled water, heat and light sources, batteries, tools, extra clothing, a medical kit, a cell phone, and a NOAA weather radio among your supplies.
Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. If you don’t and the water reaches the level of the electric outlets, you could easily get electrocuted. Some warning signs might be sparks or strange sounds like crackling, popping, or buzzing.

Beware of Intruders
Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, insects, and other refugees may decide your residence is now their territory. Human intruders may also be interested to see what valuables you left behind.
Watch Your Step
After a flood, watch where you step when you enter your home; there will, likely, be debris everywhere. The floors may also be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.
Check for Gas Leaks
Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area is well-ventilated.
Avoid Exhaust Fumes
Only use generators, camping stoves, or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.
Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

If cans of food got wet in the flood, their surfaces may be covered with mud or otherwise contaminated. Thoroughly wash food containers, utensils, and personal items before using.

 

Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

 

Use Waterproof Containers for Important Stuff

Waterproof containers can protect food, personal items, documents, and more.  If your area is at risk for flooding, have the important stuff protected by storing them correctly.

 
Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family and turn your home into a ruin. With planning and some supplies, however, you’ll be able to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Dr. Alton

Flood and mudslide survival are just some of the new chapters in the 700 page new Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Help Is Not On The Way. Get a copy for your survival library!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Survival Radio #6

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Would NATO defend if provoked?

 

American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour. If you’re interested in Survival, you’ll like both!

On American Survival Radio #6, Joe and Amy Alton explore what would happen if Russia uses its ingenious brand of hybrid warfare on a Baltic state like Estonia. Estonia’s a member of NATO, but would the North Atlantic Treaty Organization come to the defense of a member state? The answer isn’t that clear. Also, a new prediction system for tornadoes may give a little more warning and save some lives…if it works. How can you survive if you find yourself in the crosshairs of a twister? Plus, why don’t people with admirable characters run for President or other high office anymore, leaving us with candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?  All this and more on American Survival Radio!

To listen in, Click below:

podcast.gcnlive.com/podcast/americanSurvivalRadio/pcast.php

 

Joe and Amy Alton

American Survival Radio

More Notice For Tornado Events?

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tornado

Disasters happen, and a tornado is one of the classic ones that can cause damage and death. Will a new computer-driven warning system give citizens more time to get out of the way of the path of destruction?

 

A tornado’s a violently rotating column of air in contact with both the surface of the earth and the thunderstorm (sometimes called a “supercell”) that spawned it. Although they’re difficult to see close up, from a distance, tornadoes usually appear in the form of a visible dark funnel with all sorts of flying debris in and around it.

 

A tornado (also called a “twister”) may have winds of up to 300 miles per hour, and can travel quite a ways, miles and miles, before petering out.  They may be accompanied by hail and will emit a roaring sound that will remind you of a passing train. When I say a passing train, I mean a roaring locomotive passing by 3 inches before your nose. We have personally experienced this at our own home, and we can tell you that it is terrifying even though it only caused minor damage.

tornado alley

Tornado Alley

 

Tornadoes can come anytime, but most often right about now in the part of the country known as Tornado Alley. That’s a group of tornado-prone areas located between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains that experiences more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world. It is not an official weather term; it was primarily a phrase popularized by the media.

 

Now, the first multi-state tornado outbreak of the spring season is being forecast, with weather experts at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma sounding the alarm by issuing a “moderate risk” outlook. Sounds pretty boring, but a moderate risk designation is the fourth-highest on the organization’s five-point scale. About 4 million people live within the risk area, which encompasses Oklahoma City as well as Wichita, Kansas.

 

Not uncommonly, the tornadoes that are spawned in this situation will cause a lot of damage, as well as possible injuries and deaths. Making them more predictable is the Storm Prediction Center’s mission. Although it uses computer models to issue the latest warnings with more notice than ever before, it’s not certain if they’ll actually help.

 

It’s possible that, with 15 minutes’ notice, that the only action might be heading to a (hopefully) underground shelter. With an hour, though, would people hide in a shelter or get in the car and hit the road?  If they do, is it safer or will they be caught in the path of the twister? Now, we might be able to give some days’ notice, but will it make a difference?

 

It’s possible that giving people several days’ notice of a potentially stormy day won’t significantly alter their behavior, unlike those who receive similar hurricane warnings. It’s not certain why that is, but I think that these tornado warnings are for an event that doesn’t yet exist, while a hurricane warning is for a storm that’s there: you can see it on the radar heading in your direction and it carries a sense of urgency.

 

But ignoring tornado warnings isn’t a good idea. Every year, hundreds of people are killed by tornadoes, but many injuries and deaths could have been avoided with some planning.

 

Injuries from tornadoes usually come as a result of trauma from the flying debris that is carried along with it.  Strong winds can carry large objects and fling them around in a manner that is hard to believe. Indeed, there’s a report that, in 1931, an 83 ton train was lifted and thrown 80 feet from the tracks.

 

Tornadoes are categorized as level 0-5 by the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is based on wind speeds and the amount of damage caused:

 

  • F0 Light: Winds 40-72 miles per hour; smaller trees uprooted or branches broken, mild structural damage
  • F1 Moderate: winds 73–112 miles per hour; Broken windows, small tree trunks broken, overturned mobile homes, destruction of carports or toolsheds, roof tiles missing
  • F2 Considerable: winds 113–157 miles per hour; Mobile homes destroyed, major structural damage to frame homes due to flying debris, some large trees snapped in half or uprooted
  • F3 Severe: winds 158–206 miles per hour; Roofs torn from homes, small frame homes destroyed, most trees snapped and uprooted
  • F4 Devastating: winds 207–260 miles per hour; Strong-structure buildings damaged or destroyed or lifted from foundations, cars lifted and blown away, even large debris airborne
  • F5 Incredible: winds 261–318 miles per hour; Larger buildings lifted from foundations, trees snapped, uprooted and debarked, objects weighing more than a ton become airborne missiles

 

Although some places may have sirens or other methods to warn you of an approaching twister, it’s important to have a weather radio and plan for your family to weather the storm.  Having a plan before a tornado touches down is the most likely way you’ll survive the event. Children should be taught where to find the medical kits and how to use a fire extinguisher.  If appropriate, teach everyone how to safely turn off the gas and electricity.

 

If you’re in the path of a tornado, take shelter immediately unless you live in a mobile home. These are especially vulnerable to damage from the winds.  If there is time, get to the nearest building that has a tornado shelter, preferably underground.

 

If you live in Tornado Alley, consider putting together your own underground shelter. Unlike bunkers and other structures built for long-term use, a tornado shelter only has to provide safety for a short period of time.  As such, it doesn’t have to be very large; 8-10 square feet per person is perfectly acceptable.  Despite this, be sure to consider ventilation and the comfort or special needs of those using the shelter.

 

If you don’t have a shelter, find the safest place in the house where family members can gather. Basements, bathrooms, closets or inside rooms without windows are the best options. Windows can easily shatter from impact due to flying debris.

 

For added protection, get under a heavy object such as a sturdy table.  Covering your body with a sleeping bag or mattress will provide an additional shield.  Discuss this plan of action with every member of your family often, so that they will know this process by heart.

 

If you’re in a car and can drive to a shelter, do so. Although you may be hesitant to leave your vehicle, remember that they can be easily tossed around by high winds; you may be safer if there is a culvert or other area lower than the roadway. It is not safe to hide under a bridge or overpass, however, as the winds can easily reach you.

 

In town, leaving the car to enter a sturdy building may be appropriate. If there is no other shelter, however, staying in your car will protect you from some of the flying debris.  Keep your seat beat on, put your head down below the level of the windows, and cover yourself if at all possible.

 

If you’re out hiking when the tornado hits, get away from heavily wooded areas.  Torn branches and other debris become missiles, so an open field or ditch may be safer. Lying down flat in a ditch or other low spot in the ground will give you some protection.  Make sure to cover your head if at all possible, even if it’s just with your hands.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Get those medical supplies to weather the storm at store.doomandbloom.net, and follow us on Twitter @preppershow and on YouTube at drbones nurseamy.

Survival Medicine Hour: Tornadoes, Lice, Dental Issues

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More deaths from late season tornadoes in Texas makes us ask this question: Do you know how to keep your family safe if you were in the path of a twister? Find out what to do to decrease the risk of injury. Also what part does hygiene play in survival success. Dr. Alton talks about a common issue in good times or bad: LICE. Plus, some thoughts on the part dental hygiene plays in the duties and responsibilities of the survival medic, all in this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.

 

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2015/12/28/survival-medicine-hour-tornadoes-lice-dental-hygiene-in-austere-settings

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Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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dr. bones and nurse amy