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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 9

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

FEMA PARTNERS WITH THE AD COUNCIL TO LAUNCH PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH

Release date: August 30, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Ad Council kick off National Preparedness Month with new public service announcements for the Ready Campaign. While a high percentage of people are taking at least one action to prepare, only 46 percent take three actions. The new campaign provides simple actions that lead to life-saving, self-reliance and resilience in times of unexpected emergencies.

“National Preparedness Month serves as a springboard for building a culture of preparedness,” says FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “Now is the time to expand our preparedness planning beyond having a communication plan, to include becoming financially ready for the unexpected costs associated with disasters. Make sure to have adequate insurance coverage, and learn a life-saving skill like CPR.”

The campaign this year encourages families to create and communicate an emergency plan, learn life-saving skills, check their insurance coverage and save for emergencies. Ad agency Wordsworth and Booth created pro bono radio spots, print and out-of-home ads. The TV and digital component of the campaign will feature videos with disaster preparedness tips to run on broadcast TV and Facebook.

“These videos instill an emotional connection to the importance of preparedness by featuring sentimental objects left behind after disasters,” says Ad Council CEO, Lisa Sherman. “Knowing what my family and I would do in a disaster gives me peace-of-mind, and I believe this campaign will equip families across America with the resources and encouragement to plan ahead.”

This round of creative work for the Ready Campaign follows 15 years of educating the American public about disaster and emergency preparedness. In that time, $1.6 billion in donated media enabled the campaign to reach millions of Americans, and encouraged more than 100 million visits to the campaign’s website (Ready.gov) by people taking proactive steps to prepare.

Each week of National Preparedness Month, the Ready Campaign will emphasize a unique aspect of preparedness:

  • September 1—8: Make and Practice Your Plan
  • September 9—15: Learn Life Saving Skills
  • September 16—22: Check Your Coverage
  • September 23—29: Save for an Emergency

Join the National Day of Action on September 15.

Source: FEMA

KIDS: AN IMPORTANT PART OF A FAMILY DISASTER PLAN

Release date: August 9, 2018

As September looms, children are looking forward to a new school year. September is also National Preparedness Month, a fine opportunity for parents to involve kids in creating a family disaster plan in case of emergency.

Youngsters can be directly involved in putting together a family emergency preparedness kit and in making plans for the care of pets in case of disaster.

Talking with kids about the dangers that families can face is an important first step toward preparedness. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods or acts of terrorism are frightening to children and adults alike. Talking about such hazards with children can ease their anxiety. 

When children have a sense of being directly involved and doing something positive and constructive, everyone gains energy and confidence. Here are some basic steps all families should follow to prepare for emergencies:

  • Put together a family emergency kit, or Go Bag.
  • Make a family disaster plan.
  • Stay informed about potential emergencies by signing up for emergency alert systems/apps such as reverse 9-1-1 provided by your state or county emergency-management offices. Download the official FEMA app at Google Play or the Apple App Store. Or visit fema.gov/mobile-app.
  • Learn what emergency plans have been established in your area by your state and local government, and share that information with the youngsters.

Helping their parents assemble an emergency kit is an ideal activity for children. (Visit Ready website.) Explain to kids that the family might need to survive on its own for a little while after an emergency. This means having food, water, and other supplies to last at least three days.

What to include in a family Go Bag:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation.
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Battery-powered AM/FM radio and/or a NOAA Weather Radio receiver.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and whistle.
  • A dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties.
  • Wrench, pliers, matches, can opener and Swiss Army knife.
  • Local maps or rechargeable GPS.
  • Cellphones with chargers.

Include prescription medications, eyeglasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food and water, and extra cash.  For more information about assembling a family emergency kit, visit FEMA.

Draw up a family disaster plan:

  • Identify an out-of-town contact who may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. If you have kids, the contact should be someone they know and trust.
  • Be sure every member of the family has a cell phone to reach the emergency contact or designated “In Case of Emergency” number in your phone. Make sure to identify and inform them that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
  • Text messages can often get around cell network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  • Practice the disaster plan with the family.

Ask about emergency plans at work, daycare and school.
As is often said: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Source: FEMA

HURRICANE SEASON REACHING ITS PEAK; NO MAJOR STORMS CURRENTLY THREATEN THE EAST COAST

By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will soon reach its peak, but forecasters see no major disturbances heading toward the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. East Coast.

“At the moment, there are no named storms and the National Hurricane Center is only tracking a minor disturbance over west Africa which has a slim chance to develop once it emerges over the Atlantic waters,” The Washington Post said. Last year, the Post noted, “Seven hurricanes would wreak havoc in the Atlantic Ocean basin over the course of seven weeks.”

In the latter half of August 2017, Hurricane Harvey was churning in the Gulf of Mexico and taking aim at Houston, Texas. Hurricane Irma was moving off the west coast of Africa on its path to strike the Florida Gulf Coast. They were soon followed by Hurricane Maria, whose Category 5 winds in excess of 155 mph nearly destroyed Puerto Rico when the storm came ashore on September 20.

In November 2017, CNN said the three storms accounted for at least 650 fatalities.

However, a July 2018 comprehensive study by the New England Journal of Medicine put the death toll on Puerto Rico alone at 4,645 fatalities. That study counted deaths on the island between September 20 and December 31, 2017. “The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care,” the Journal explained.

2017 Was the Most Expensive Hurricane Season in US History
The U.S. suffered more than $200 billion in damages from the 17 named storms during the 2017 season, which began on June 1 and ended November 30.
It was the most expensive hurricane season in U.S. history, according to National Geographic. “That easily eclipses the previous record of about $159 billion, set during the summer of 2005, when Hurricane Katrina inflicted massive devastation on New Orleans. A record 28 named storms formed that year,” the magazine said.

Meteorologists Are Not Surprised by Few Hurricanes This Season
This season’s dearth of hurricanes is no surprise to meteorologists.
Water temperature between Africa and the Lesser Antilles – Puerto Rico and the smaller islands along the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea – has been cooler than average. “So when the disturbances exit the [African] continent, they are immediately greeted with more stable air and less fuel than they would in a typical season,” the Post explained.

UA Forecasting Model Also Predicts Fewer Hurricanes in 2018
As early as July 2, the usually reliable University of Arizona’s forecasting model was predicting fewer Atlantic hurricanes this year.

”A main factor in this year’s prediction is the low sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic, where little warming occurred from April to May,” UA scientists said. The sea surface temperatures are the lowest they have seen since 2014, but similar to long-term average temperatures.

Second, despite the abnormally heavy rainfall in the East and Midwest during August, further west in the Atlantic “dry air has been in place for much of August, which is also inhospitable for storm development,” the Post said.

El Niño-Type Storm Likely to Form
A third reason for the calm hurricane season is El Niño. Accuweather meteorologists predict an El Niño will form during August and September, reducing the likelihood of tropical development.

El Niño is a weather pattern that occurs when warmer-than-normal sea surface waters develop in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. They then move east across the United States and can affect winter weather in North America.

As AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Dan Kottlowski explained, “The more frequently upper-level westerly winds penetrate into the deep tropics, the less likely we are to see tropical development.”
Still, we can’t completely count on Mother Nature and King Neptune to behave. They may still have a surprise or two in store. After all, the 2018 hurricane season is only half over.

Source: Emergency and Disaster Management Digest

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