Archive for the 'Emergency Management' Category

Community readiness

First of all, I apologize to all my readers for the lack of posts.  Since I have gone back to school, life has been crazy.

One of the many things I have been busy with was the flooding that took place in Northern Illinois a week ago.  I work part time for a county Office of Emergency Management, and I think most of the towns in our county handled the disaster as best as they could.  Others, however, I think did a dis-service to the people who live in their towns.  My mother’s basement was taking on water through a window well on the side of her house.  She contacted multiple departments in her village and was not able to get a simple resource as sand bags.  Other municipalities near her were coming to the county to get more sand bags for their residents, and my mom’s town simply said “Not our problem.”  She would have been fine with as few as ten sand bags, but instead, now has thousands of dollars in damages.

I would just like to remind everyone that September is National Prepardness Month, and you should check with your municiplaity to se what they will help you with and what they won’t.  My mother didn’t, and could have helped herself had she kept 10 sandbags in her garage.  Also, even though your not by a body of water, doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by flooding.

“If a door is closed, karate chop it open”

So, using StumbleUpon, I came across this site which does a great job in explaining all of the Homeland Security warning pictures. My favorite, “If your intended destination is suddenly vaporized, consider pulling over and watching the cool light show.”

Sever Weather Preparedness Week

This week is Sever Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois and Indiana. I know many Ham radio operators use this week to get their radios working for when the first storm hits. Many weather spotters get out to training classes (mine is actually in two weeks). I hope that most families will do something, even if it’s going out a buying a NOAA Weather Radio or buying some extra batteries and flash lights for when the power gets knocked out. You never know when the weather might effect you. Last year, in my county, we got hit by both a micro burst and a tornado. Many of them effected some of the same people, as they hit only a few towns away from each other. Near my work (the next county over) another micro burst hit during yet another storm. That one knocked down power lines for nearly an mile and a half down a major road. The worst part is, I’m hearing from many weather experts that this year has the potential to be even worse than last. The norther Illinois/souther Wisconsin area has already seen their first sever weather of the year (early January). Emergencies always remind my of my Boy Scout days, “Always be prepared.”

Patriot Day

Patriot DayToday is Patriot Day in honor of all of the public safety personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, especially those on September 11th, 2001. Like everyone else in America, I remember the moment I found out like it was yesterday. I was away at collage at the time. During the beginning of the attack, I was in a Chemistry lecture, and when I arrived at my Art Appreciation class, the teacher made the announcement that planes had crashed into the twin towers and the Pentagon. She then had the audacity to state “While other teachers have chosen to cancel their class, I have chosen to go ahead as planed,” at which point almost 75% of the class, including myself, got up and left the lecture hall. For the first few hours, I kept thinking that it was all some sort of bad dream, that I would wake up and everything would go back to normal. I never did awake from that “dream” and finally came to the realization that the world had changed forever.

Every other blog I have looked at has asked where you were, but my question is how do you plan to remember that dreadful day. I will be taking part in my county’s annual ceremony today, in my dress uniform (oh, how I hate wearing the hat and tie!!), at the county’s Fire and Police Memorial.

Go Kits

As I had stated in a previous post, the month of August is National Preparedness month and I planed on writing quite a few posts on the subject. I haven’t had time to write much, though. Any ways, I digress.

What would you and your family do in the event of a serious emergency. Imagine that your town was hit by a (fill in the appropriate natural disaster for your area); what would you do? Do you have the necessary supplies to survive and a way to get the information you need? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests that you have all the necessary supplies to survive for 3 days in a “Go Kit.” But what would you put in a Go Kit you ask? Essentials!

Food and Water

You should have enough food and water for 3 days. When packing food, remember that you have to be able to open and cook what you pack. I suggest going to a sporting goods store and purchasing a backpacking propane stove, small can opener, and freeze dried food. You should also have 1 gallon of water per person per day. So, a husband, wife and child should have 9 gallons of water. This is enough water form drinking, preparing food, and cleaning, although should be used sparingly. If you are in an extremely warm area, more water should be added to your go kit. Also, don’t forget to pack a small pot and utensils. Nothings worse then having food and no fork or spoon!!

Clothing

Make sure you pack cloths in your go kit, or have some ready at all times. To keep your kit lighter, I suggest packing cloths in backpacks and keeping the backpack in your closet. In the event that you have to evacuate, you can through the backpack on, and then have both hands to grab your go kit or small children. You should also make sure that the cloths in the bag are season appropriate. Yes, I know. This means you have to CHANGE the cloths in the bag. Nothings worse that having to grab it in the winter, leave your house in a panic, and then find out all you have in the bag is shorts and tank tops. A pair of sturdy shoes you can walk a long distance in is a good idea to have, as well. When your packing your bag, think about what you would pack on a trip. Don’t forget things like sock and underwear.

Hygiene

Don’t spend money on some of this stuff. Remember, this would be used in a major emergency. Pack your old tooth brush when you go to retire it. Get travel sized soap and tooth paste. My big suggestion here is waterless shampoo. You can find this at most drugstores. It’s not the best thing to use, but it beats using all of your water to wash your hair!! Also, pack some sort of hand sanitizer. You should also have a first-aid kit with enough supplies for three days. If you get banged up in a tornado and have a bad cut or burn, you will need to be able to change the dressing on it.

Tools

If I haven’t stressed this enough during the post, the goal here is to survive self sufficiently for three days. Pack tools that you my need to build a shelter or get a fire going. A hatchet is a necessity. You can use it to cut wood or use it as a hammer. A multi-tool comes in handy as well. I recommend either a Gerber or Letherman, as both of them stand up well with a lot of use. Depending on where you live, a camp shovel may be nice to have as well. If you live in an urban area, though, it probably won’t help too much. Pack what you think you may need, but don’t go overboard. Tools get heavy, and you my have to carry your go kit with you for quite a ways.

Other Essentials
No, not your notebook or Ipod. I’m talking about other things you need to survive. Medication that you have to take daily is a big one that is often over looked. If it is a prescription medication, tell your doctor that you would like a few days or a weeks worth to pack in your go kit. Most will write you the small amount. Make sure you rotate it with your normal medication, though, so it doesn’t expire. People with young children should pack dippers, wipes, and formula.

For more information, you can check you Ready.org which is run by FEMA. What would you pack that I might have forgotten? What other tips might you have? People who have back packed before should have an easy time with this, as you need to pack the essentials, but keep it light. I also hope none of you that read this will ever need to use it, but don’t count on it never happening to you. Think like the Boy Scouts and “Always be Prepared.”

National Emergency Prepardness Month

August is National Emergency Prepardness Month.  I will have a slight Emergency Prepardness theam this month, which works out because I’ve had some major writers block the last few days.  Today is also National Night Out.  Many communities will be holding events tonight all over the US.  I encurage all of you with kids to contact your town hall and get out tonight.  If nothing else, it will be something free to do with the kids!!

Security at Home Tip of the Week: Family First-Aid Kit

This is the first edition of The Peon’s Security at Home Tip of the Week. I will do my best to publish the Tip of the Week on Tuesdays for now, although I may move it to Sunday’s.

This week is the Family First-Aid Kit. I personally keep 2 first-aid kits: one at home and one in my car. The one at home is not really a kit, but more the necessary supplies in our medicine cabinet. Your home first-aid kit should include adhesive bandages (Band-Aids(tm)), anti-bacterial spray or ointment, gauze pads, roller bandages (AKA a roll of gauze), medical tape, eye bandages, and a pair of rubber gloves. You should also have your pain reliever of choice (Tylenol ™ or aspirin) and at least 3 days worth of any medications you take. You should also have any other quick relief over the counter medications you may use (for heartburn, re-occurring injuries, etc.) You should keep all of these items close together if you don’t have them in a kit. You should keep at least 3 days worth of every thing, so in the event of a major disaster (tornado, flood, hurricane, earth quake, man made disaster), your family can be self sufficient for some time in case emergency crews can’t get to you right away.

The first-aid kit in my car consists of many of the same things as above, but in smaller amounts. I do carry more in my car than most people would need, but I was an EMT and have lots of accident prone people I play sports with. Just with my church group, I have treated a torn nose (he got it caught on another person’s glasses playing Ultimate Frisbee), a severely cut lip (football injury), and a concussion (he just didn’t see the tree he ran into). But I digress. I also keep a tea candle and lighter in the kit. In the winter, you can light the candle and (if it’s not too cold), it should help keep your car just above freezing if you break down. I also keep an emergency blanket (AKA a space blanket) for the same reason as the candle. I personally use more first-aid supplies out of my car than my home, but, as I said before, I know a lot of accident prone people.

The basics of your first aid-kit can be bought as a kit on-line or at a drug store of your choice.  Your kit will evolve over time, but that’s OK, as long as you re-stock what you use, and add what you find out you need.

Look for future editions of the Security at Home Tip of the Week. The tips will be both physical security and emergency management in nature. If you have any questions or suggestions for the Tip of the week, please comment with them. I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge (or research ability).

Going to a wake

Going to a wake has to be one of the most awkward things anyone has to do in their life. You walk up to the family members and don’t to know what to say other than all the cliches like “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and “How are you holding up.” No matter what you say, if you didn’t know the deceased that well or at all, nothing you say sounds right at the time. Last night, I had to go to a wake with my department. The deceased was my Captain’s father who I had never met. Looking at my Captain, I was just lost for words. He did point out, though, that for him and his family, they are some what glad that his dad finally passed, as he had been suffering his final months of life. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to say at a wake for someone that you don’t know all that well, because I hate using cliches at moments like that?

I also ask for you all to keep Robert Miller Sr. and his family in your payers.

Field Day

As I had posted earlier, this weekend was Field Day. I ended up putting in a lot of hours and I’m still not fully with it. I started set up at 7 a.m. on Saturday and didn’t leave for home until 6 p.m. on Sunday. I only got about three hours of sleep in the back of truck, and got soaking wet trying to set up, but over all, the weekend was worth it. I got to get on the radio some and was able to contact people all over the country, from southern Florida to western Washington. I also got to talk to a hand full people from Canadialand (VE’s in ham lingo, referring to it being the prefix for Canadian Ham’s call signs). We were set up on the top of an old garbage dump which put us up about 200 feet above the average terrain of flat Illinois, which was great for our radio signals. We also had lots of problems during the event. We had two vehicles lose mechanical power on the way out to the site, it was raining the entire morning, someone forgot to connect one of the antennas on top of a fifty foot radio tower (it was funny watching my chief climb the tower when it was half the way down), another on of our antennas wasn’t working right, and we ran out of fuel on one of our generators. After participating in Field Day, I can’t wait until next year!!

Field Day 2007

March 23 -24 is field day in the amateur radio community. Field day is a time for amateur radio operators (hams) to set up and operate their emergency power stations. Many hams take pride in the fact that they can set up their radios and relay communications to other parts of the country and the world with little more than their radio, an antenna, and a battery or other source of emergency power if they ever had to. Field day is there chance to practice and show off, as the main draw to field day is the contest that most ham clubs participate in. Field day is a 24 hour endurance to make as many contacts (contacting another ham) as possible on as many different modes (type of communication, i.e. AM voice, FM voice, Morris code, and many others) as possible. The contest starts at 1 pm CDT on March 23rd and will end at 1pm CDT on the 24th.

For all of you that are not hams, it is a different hobby. I got into the hobby within the last year, but have been interested in it since high school. I have always loved electronics, and ham radio lets me use electronics and problem solving to produce the best signal I can. I also have met many interesting people from all walks of life and all age groups on the air waves. I would like to eventually get into some of the digital modes of operation which include digital voice, data transfer, and instant messaging type communication. To become licenced, one must study for and take a short test. Help studying and where to take the test can best be found at a local radio club. To find a club near you, see the ARRL link on my main page.

To any one that is even remotely interested in amateur radio, emergency preparedness, or electronics, I challenge you to find a club near you and find out were they will be setting up for field day. Most clubs (there my be a few bad apples) would be more than happy to have you come visit and they could show you around and explain the different types of communications that they are using.

I have not been to a field day before, but I’m anxiously waiting and don’t think it will be a disappointment!!