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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Children and Disasters

(originally posted at the OPN by Scarecrow)

While reading this article from a US source, Canadians should substitute their appropriate local authorities and agencies as required...

It's called prepping for a reason. Being prepared requires you to takes steps before trouble arrives, not during or after an emergency. There are 24 hours in a day, please consider devoting one hour each day to your preparedness efforts until they are complete.


A recent survey suggests children's first instinct in an emergency might not be the safest:

Underwriters Laboratories urges parents to take advantage of teachable moments and sharpen their family's skills in disaster planning during National Preparedness Month this September

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Darkened skies, emergency warning sirens or smoke creeping under the bedroom door in the middle of the night -would your family react safely? Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time,and often without warning. Therefore, it is critical to discuss - and practice - emergency and disaster preparedness plans, such as a home fire escape route and severe weather safety plan.

A national survey released by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent product safety organization, reveals that children's initial reactions might actually put them in danger during an emergency. While more than 90 percent of children said they would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency like a fire, only 47 percent chose the safest option - get out of the building immediately. As part of National Preparedness Month, UL encourages parents to prepare children for a variety of unexpected situations like home fires, severe weather and natural disasters. "It's natural to get confused when sudden danger demands quick action," says John Drengenberg, director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories. "Children may say they know what to do, but as parents we need to be diligent and provide them with the guidance, resources and skills to make the right choices." UL urges families to consider the following safety tips before, during and after any type of emergency situation.

Preparing for the unexpected families that have discussed where they'll meet and what to do in different situations are always better prepared when disaster strikes. Preparation is key to keeping your family safe; here are some crucial safety tips from UL:

-- Make sure children can spell their name, parents' names and know their phone number and address. Children should know their full name, parents' full names, address (including city and state), home phone number (including area code) and parents' work phone numbers or cell phones before leaving the home.

-- Designate an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's emergency contact and keep their information with you at all times.

-- Prepare an emergency kit, including: five days worth of non-perishable food and water, a can opener, flashlight, portable emergency radio (hand-crank, solar-powered or battery-operated), batteries, any prescription medication needed by family members, a first aid kit, list of phone numbers for relatives, neighbors and utility companies, and pictures and descriptions of your family. If you have pets, include five days worth of canned pet food and water, sturdy leashes, harnesses or carriers, current photos and descriptions and a litter box.

-- Develop and practice several disaster preparedness plans. Make sure your child knows the first thing he/she should do in the event of a storm or other disaster, regardless of their location.

-- Practice a fire escape route by drawing out a floor plan and mapping out each family member's route of escape making sure each room has two exit options. Designate a meeting place where your family will reunite if separated. Consider posting the fire escape route on refrigerators and in each family member's bedroom.

-- Make sure your children know how to respond to an emergency in the environments they frequent, including schools, friends' houses and public buildings like grocery stores. Point out exit signs in public buildings, ensure they actively participate in school fire drills and talk to their friends' parents about their individual escape plans.

Stay Connected:

While it might prove challenging to stay connected with family during a disaster, parents can use the following to help them stay connected and re-connect with their family.

-- Keep your child connected. If you're not with your child, make sure they have your family's emergency contact information on-hand. Additionally, whether your child is at school, at a friend's house or participating in an extracurricular activity, make sure you have the appropriate contact information should an emergency occur.

-- Identify your family's "ICE" (in case of emergency contact). If you have a cell phone, program your emergency contact as ICE - in case of emergency. ICE is recognized by police and first responders across the nation. In addition, identify an out-of-town contact. In a disaster situation they may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

-- Subscribe to alert services. Check with your local Office of Emergency Management to see if your community has an alert system that will send instant text or e-mail alerts to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. If listening to an emergency radio, make sure you know the most appropriate station for your community.

-- If separated from family members, call your designated out-of-town contact. It is often easier to make a long distance phone call than a local call from a disaster area. Keep in mind, telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations, so try to keep regular telephone use to a minimum.


Don't Take Safety For Granted While the winds may have calmed or fire debris has been cleaned up, it's not a time to let down your guard when it comes to keeping your family safe.

-- Watch animals closely after returning home. Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their homes. Be aware of hazards at nose and paw level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans.

-- Stay clear of downed wires and power lines and be extremely cautious of floodwater - it is frequently contaminated with septic waste, oil and/or dangerous debris. If appliances are water damaged have them inspected by a qualified technician and then either refurbish or replace.

-- Keep generators outside of the home and garage and away from doorways and ventilation systems. A potential post-storm danger is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, especially if generators are being used as an alternative source of electricity. "The first step towards safely handling an emergency is planning ahead," says Drengenberg. "Take the time to ensure your child is Safety Smart(R) in emergency situations and know how to empower them to respond safely."

"The first step towards safely handling an emergency is planning ahead," says Drengenberg. "Take the time to ensure your child is Safety Smart(R) in emergency situations and know how to empower them to respond safely."

For more information on disaster preparedness, please visithttp://www.ul.com/

[What have you done today to prepare?]


Weather Radios in Canada

(originally posted at the MPN by Frazer)

Most of us are aware of the NOAA radios that work through the National Weather Service (NWS) in the USA. A while ago I was wondering how effective these radios are in Canada. So I went on a crusade for information. (The internet made this really easy, I can't imagine trying it back in the 50s or something!)

Environment Canada's Weather Radio page is a good source for information. 92% of Canadians live within the range of a transmitter. You can find your frequency here.

Weatheradio is what we call it in Canada. It's a national network of radio stations broadcasting weather and environmental information 24 hours a day in both english and french directly from Environment Canada's storm prediction centres.

Formed in 1977 there are now 183 sites across Canada continually transmitting weather information through 7 VHF frequencies on the public service band. The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) operates the Weatheradio Canada network.

Canada does have SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology so your radio will kick on early in and alert you when a warning comes out so you don't need the radio playing all day and night. However I found this to be a pain in the neck while your sleeping if it's not an emergency that requires immediate action. However it can save your life so I deal with it. Here is a Q&A for the SAME system. Here is more info on SAME in Canada

I've got one of these on my kitchen counter and it is loud enough for me to hear from my bedroom in the next room. It has SAME and gives me weather alerts when they come out. Yes it's a pain to be pulled out of a deep sleep to hear a weather alerts but it's better than being unaware! I also carry one of these Sangean DT400w radios in my EDC bag so that I can listen to further information once I get the text message stating there is a weather emergency. I also keep a Kaito KA500 radio in my work gear bag for in the guard shack (I'm currently a security guard but looking for better employment) so that I can get weather alerts in case I need to alert the factory manager which is part of my job. Unfortunately they wont let us put the WeatherEye widget on our computer to get alerts and weather much easier.

Weather radios are turning into "all hazard" radio systems for example soon Amber alerts and terrorist threats will be broadcast over the Weatherradio system

Here is the F.A.Q. on the entire Weather Radio system in Canada. Some notables are...

What makes Weatheradio different than commercial radio broadcasts?
Two things -- it provides continuous weather information 24 hours a day and, more importantly, a Weatheradio receiver in standby mode can turn itself on to notify you of impending severe weather. You don't have to be tuned in to a particular commercial station at the precise moment they air the weather bulletin to be informed of weather hazards.

Will the receiver I bought a few years ago still work?
An older style of receiver will still pick up the audio Weatheradio broadcast. However some older models have only the original 3 frequencies rather than the current 7. While the older models will continue to work, only a newer receiver with digital SAME capabilities will allow the choice of which alerts to receive.

How can I find out if my location is covered by Weatheradio service?
Follow the link to Find A Transmitter and select your region. The signal is normally received for approximately a 60 km radius around the transmitter location.

Where can I get a Weatheradio receiver?
Weatheradio receivers can be found in many electronics stores. A partial list of suppliers can be found on the Weatheradio receivers page.

Will my Weatheradio bought in Canada work in the U.S.?
Yes. Canada and the U.S. use the same VHF frequencies to transmit Weatheradio broadcasts. The tone alert and SAME code features will also work in the U.S. as these are standard across all of North America. There are over 900 NOAA Weather Radio stations in the U.S. For a complete listing, check out the U.S. National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio website.

Check the full F.A.Q. to see all the info available.

Here is a PDF of the Weather Radio pamphlet.

Now I think a radio that receives the Weather Radio system and has SAME (So that you don't need to listen 24/7) is essential preps for your home. Like my last post said "Information is power" and sometimes older technology like radio is a good backup and good to have around to get this information. You may not hear your cellular phone receive the text message but your weather radio will wake you up for sure! You also want to make sure that the radio you use has battery backup so that if the power goes out you've still got the radio running! You can't be without information just because you lost power!

Again Information is power, it will give you the information to get ready for weather emergencies!