Thursday, March 29, 2012


More Facts About Tornadoes

Everyone in the family be properly informed about what to do in case of severe weather, including young children.  Here is a link to Owlie Skywarn's Weather Book, located on the National Weather Service website: .  Download it, print it off, and give it to a young friend or relative.

In addition, here are some more information that you and your family should know about tornadoes, courtesy of FEMA.

(Source:  FEMA


Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Tornado Facts

Quick facts you should know about tornadoes:
  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
  • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
  • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm, but can occur at any time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Here in the Midwest, where we have been blessed by a very mild winter, many of you are already mowing your lawns, trimming and pruning trees and shrubs; in general, thinking of about anything you can to spend some time outdoors in this great weather.  But before you fire up that lawn mower, garden tractor, chainsaw, or leaf blower, make sure you know about the fuel you may have been storing all winter long, or are getting ready to replace this spring.

How to store fuel properly

Fuel is one of the most important things that you can use in an emergency. Whether it powers a car, generator, or stove; you’ll need to make sure that your fuel is ready for when you need it.

Handle all fuels with care. Remember that all of these could light at a moment’s notice.

We’ve collected a few tips on how to properly store different types of fuels, where you should store them, and how long they can store.
Fuel red tank 
Containers for liquid fuel
When storing fuel, or other fire-starting material, you’ll want to make sure to put them in a different colored container. Most of the time, liquid fuels are stored in red containers. At a minimum, containers should be obviously labeled.

Make sure that containers are sturdy, reliable and have a good seal on them. You want to make sure that the fuel won’t leak. You should also consider a container that isn’t clear or translucent.

The American Petroleum Institute recommends that you only store gasoline for up to two years. This recommendation does not include gasoline that has been treated with a stabilizer.

There are many types of stabilizers on the shelf that can get your gasoline to store for a few years.

While I’ve used gasoline that has been stored for years on my lawn mower, using “stale” gasoline that has been stored for an long time can have some diverse effects on your motor. The recommendation for 1-2 years of shelf-life would provide optimal gasoline.

Diesel Fuel
Surprisingly, diesel doesn’t have a very long shelf-life. It can only last for 6-12 months.

The problem with storing diesel is that it begins to oxidize as soon as it leaves the refinery. Sediments begin to form that would clog the motor. This reaction can be slowed by keeping the fuel cooler and by adding stabilizers. The condensation from the gasoline can also form algae.

Some people who store diesel for a long time (the Navy, gas companies) use methods to stabilize their supply. These methods can be pretty expensive though.

We recommend that you store only a maximum of two-month’s worth of diesel at a time and empty the canisters into your car or generator when you rotate. (Thanks to Oblio13’s blog for the insight.)

Kerosene is one of the easiest fuels to store, and is more versatile than most people think. It does not evaporate as readily as gasoline and will remain stable in storage with no special treatment.
 kerosene lampKerosene has a shelf-life of about three months. Storing kerosene for longer than that can result in bacteria and mold forming in the container.

When you store the kerosene, be sure to label the container properly. You want to make sure that it doesn’t mix with gasoline or another type of fuel. You should store your kerosene in a different color container than gas to ensure that they are not mistakenly mixed.

Be sure to store the kerosene outdoors but protected from direct sunlight. Prolonged sunlight can degrade the kerosene.

Butane isn’t as popular of a fuel as gasoline or kerosene but many people use the fuel for lighters or other small fire starters. Many backpacking kits use butane fuel.
Butane canistersButane comes in pressurized containers and the canisters are required, by law, to have instructions on the label regarding storage and usage of the product. Following the instructions will ensure that you keep your butane supply safe.
Proper storage is the first element in butane safety. Keep it in a safe place at home that is out of any children’s reach. Many containers can withstand even high temperatures. Even if you live in a climate that is rather warm, your butane should still store well … find a dry and cool place, out of the direct sunlight and away from any other sources of extreme heat.
Additionally, also make sure that the tip of the butane container is not damaged or clogged. If the tip is damaged or is clogged through use, remove the clog or throw away the container and buy a new one. (Read the Ebay article.)
propane tankPropane
You’ll obviously want to store your propane in a well-ventilated area outdoors. Make sure that your propane tank is stored upright – probably on a concrete slab.

Don’t store the propane tank next to anything flammable. Also ensure that it is stored in an area where a large amount of water will not fall on the tank – for example, next to a gutter or in the open under the rainfall.

Never store the propane in a house or garage. Click here to read Propane 101’s article about proper propane safety.
Charcoal is a great option for cooking fuel. They might get your hands a little bit messier but that’s not always a bad thing. The good thing is that you can store this dry fuel inside your home! However, never cook with charcoal indoors!

You can store charcoal in a dry location – like a bin or metal canister. You can also make a waterproof container by placing the charcoal in a bucket and use a gamma lid to seal the top. This should keep the briquets by not letting moisture into the bucket!

According to the Fireplace Supplier Register, coal can be stored in damp places without harming it. It can also be retained in areas that have little or no protection from the rain and snow. If you choose, so you don’t have to handle wet coal, you can cover it outside with tarps to keep it dry.

Store bagged coal inside the bags until you’re ready to use it. It will be easier to store it and carry it to the stove. Coal either comes by the bag or by the truckload (if you order several tons). Loose coal is easier to contain if it’s stored in wooden bins, but it’s not necessary. (Reference to the eHow article.)

firewood rack Firewood
Avoid the temptation to keep a lot of firewood in your home. You can obviously carry in a few logs, but the best location to store firewood is outdoors. It’s recommended that you keep your firewood at least 30 feet away from your house – not leaning against the house, next to the door. Ideally, wood should be kept off the ground too.

You can make a simple firewood holder out of two-by-fours in order to stack the wood properly. Be sure to stack the larger pieces of wood on the bottom of the pile. This will help the pile from leaning or falling over. Here is an article on how to build a firewood caddy.

You’ll want to use a cover to protect the wood from getting wet. You can purchase a specific log rack cover or a simple tarp will do. Make sure that the cover is secured so it doesn’t blow away in the wind.

You may notice that there are some bugs in your firewood. Do not spray your wood is insecticide! This can seep into the wood and fume in your house when you burn the log. Instead, the best thing to do is dry out the wood as quickly as possible. This will encourage most of the bugs to leave the wood.
match canister 
There are a variety of matches out there. Avoid placing cheap matchbooks in your kits and emergency supplies. They can absorb moisture a lot easier.

Instead, focus on matches that are waterproof and have longer stems. This will allow you to light things from a safe distance and make sure that your matches are safe from moisture.

If you don’t have waterproof matches, you can place your matches in a waterproof container. Make sure that the container is a thick plastic and isn’t stored in direct sunlight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Before Building a Man Cave, Consider a Safe Room

Build a Safe Room

Source: FEMA

Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Your residence may be built "to code" but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your family can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home.
  • Your basement
  • Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
  • An interior room on the first floor.
Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection, but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room also can provide the necessary protection. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms.

To protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged or destroyed. Consider the following when building a safe room:
  • The safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and uplift.
  • The walls, ceiling and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist penetration by windborne objects and falling debris.
  • The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist the wind.
  • Sections of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as walls of the safe room must be separated from the structure of the residence so that damage to the residence will not cause damage to the safe room.
Additional information about Safe Rooms available from FEMA:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hopefully You Live In a "No-Spin" Zone

Source: National Fire Protection Association

Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are more frequent in the
United States. On average, 1,200 tornadoes cause 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries
nationwide each year.

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year and most often strike between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm. In the southern states, peak tornado season is March through May. In the northern states, peak tornado season is June through August.

Safety basics
A tornado's path of destruction can be more than one mile wide and 50 miles long and can devastate a neighborhood in seconds. You may have little warning, so preparation and planning are key to reducing injuries. It's important to know what to do before, during, and after a tornado:
Know a safe place: Know the safe places at home, work and at school. Locate local shelters and be aware of the tornado risk in your county or parish.
  • Practice tornado drills at home and school. 
  • Have a plan for how family members will contact one another during an emergency. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or family friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans. 
  • Prepare a family disaster supplies kit. Families with children should have each child create their own personal pack.
During a tornado watch:
  • Remain inside, away from windows and doors. 
  • Listen to the radio or TV. Keep a battery-operated radio or a NOAA Weather Radio. 
  • Make sure your family disaster supplies kit is complete. 
  • Be alert during a thunderstorm watch. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes. Being prepared will give you more time should the weather turn severe.
During a tornado warning:
Listen to the radio or TV for weather updates and instructions from local officials. Quick action and planning ahead can save your life! If you get caught in a tornado, know what to do: take shelter immediately; stay away from windows, corners, doors and outside walls; be aware of flying debris. Crouch on the floor near an interior wall or under a heavy object, such as a table. Bend over and place your arms on the back of your head and neck (which are injured more easily than other parts of your body).

Continue to listen to the news and weather updates. Stay away from power lines and broken glass. Be aware of the possibility of broken gas lines and chemical spills. If you smell gas or chemical fumes, immediately evacuate the area and contact authorities. Stay out of damaged buildings and return home only after authorities have issued an all-clear signal.
Source: FEMA, NWS

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012

Calling for Nominations for National Youth Preparedness Council

Posted by: Paulette Aniskoff, Director, Individual and Community Preparedness Division

FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division is looking for youth leaders dedicated to public service and making a difference in their community to serve on FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council.

Bringing youth to the table provides a clear and true picture of the thoughts, needs, and capabilities of nearly 25% of our nation’s population. It is critical to listen to them and their peers, align our youth strategies as an agency to the message we hear, and to build up our nation’s future leaders in emergency preparedness.

The National Youth Preparedness Council is an opportunity for select youth leaders interested in expanding their impact as a national advocate for youth preparedness to serve on this highly distinguished national council. Members of the council will participate in a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington, D.C., and voice their opinions, experiences, ideas, solutions and questions on youth
disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on youth preparedness.

Who is Eligible?

Young men and women from 12 to 17 years of age who want to make a difference in their community, have contributed to youth disaster preparedness in their community or have lived through a disaster and want to share their experiences are eligible to
apply for the council.

Youth Preparedness Council nominees will represent a variety of young people: current and former students, youth members of a local Citizen Corps Council, a youth club or a member of a faith-based organization that is vocal and
active in preparing peers, family, and neighborhoods for potential emergencies are encouraged to apply.

Similarly, if you know of a young person with any of these qualities, you may nominate him or her to serve on the council.

Interested in Applying?

Interested candidates or nominations should emphasize youth disaster preparedness activities that the candidate/nominee has participated in or can be related to a disaster the candidate/nominee has lived through. Nominations should describe a specific emergency situation and/or examples of youth disaster preparedness activities that would qualify the nominee to serve on the Council.

Some examples of preparedness activities include:

  • Teen CERT in Action
  • Citizen Corps Council Activities
  • After School Activities
  • Faith-based Youth Preparedness Activities
  • Increasing Local Disaster Awareness
  • Youth Club Activities (e.g., Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts)
If you are nominating yourself, you must submit a letter of recommendation from any adult parent, guardian, community first responder, teacher or community leader that can attest to your community preparedness activities. If you are an adult nominating a young person to serve on the council, you do not have to include an additional letter unless you choose to do so.

Nominations must be
received by April 6, 11:59 p.m. EDT. For complete instructions on applying, visit our website.
Youth Preparedness Council Participants will be announced in May 2012, and will be FEMA’s honored guests at a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington, D.C. on June 28 and 29.

our website for more information on the National Youth Preparedness Council or to apply. 

Source: FEMA Blog post on March 19, 2012