Thursday, December 7, 2017

Strong Winds on Thursday Fuel LA Fires

Ventura County Fire Department

Over 110,000 people have evacuation orders in LA. Fires continue to spread and grow in the Ventura, Bel-Air and Kagel Canyon areas. Hundreds of Schools have been shut down and many homes are at risk.

The Bel-Air fire continues to grow right next to a densely populated area. With Firefighters already dealing with two large fires, the Creek fire and Thomas fire, one more adds even more strain.

The Thomas fire, burning near Ventura, has already scorched 96,000 acres. While there was a small respite from the winds yesterday, the winds picked up again last night fueling the fire even further.  

Garo, Kuradjian, Ventura County Sheriff's captain stated "It's definitely moving... forecasters were correct in terms of wind forecast for tonight - it's much windier than it was yesterday."

With winds like this evacuation has become the priority. "These winds will be where there is no ability to fight these fires" stated Ken Pimlott, fire protection official of Cal Fire "This will be about evacuations and getting people out from in front of any fires that start."

As the Fires continue to spread, so do the evacuation orders. Many homes have already been lost, with heartbreaking stories of loss. As the Christmas Holidays approach this loss can feel even more intense.

The LA Times reports about Geoff Marcus who was one of those who has already lost his home in the Thomas fire. 

"I feel a loss but my family is safe, and, well that's all I care about. These are all possessions that can be replaced,' he said, walking through piles of burned wood and appliances. 'This was a happy place where we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything my mom has collected and cherished is gone,' he said"

While these fires are still small compared to the Napa Valley fires that burned 128,000 acres, there is worry that they will continue to spread today. The National Weather Service said Thursday will be the worst day for firefighting, as the forecast is indicating high winds and dry weather.

Extreme winds, which area predicted to reach 40 to 60 miles per hour through the county, are helping the fire move quickly and knocking down power lines and trees.

There is a grade in which fire experts grade fire danger. They measure moisture in dead vegetation, temperature, assess historical weather information, and wind speed and direction. 48 is considered high. 162 is considered extreme. Thursday is scored at 296, a record.

In weather like this fires behave unpredictably. Experts are saying to expect the fire to continue to grow drastically today. Ken Pimlott advised "At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is that 'watch the news and go about your day.' This is pay attention minute-by-minute ... keep your head on a swivel."

In any disaster that's what it comes down to. Stay alert, and stay ready, ready to get you and your loved ones to safety. 

The fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes we have seen this year are great reminders that no one is immune, not matter the location. We each are responsible to prepare ourselves and our families before disaster strikes. Have a plan in place, and build up your emergency supplies.

Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Making Sense of North Korea

North Korea History

North Korea has been a consistently trending topic on search engines and social media during Donald Trump's presidency. There are plenty of articles poking fun at the DPRK, and then those that paint a more disturbing picture.

With all the tension and unease surrounding our current relationship with the North Korean government, and with Kim Jong Un, it's a good idea to piece together what's really going on, and what, if any, threats there are to our national security.

Let's recap what's been going on with North Korea/US relations:

1800's to 1994

North Korea and the United States have been at odds with each other for sometime. The earliest contemporary dispute dates as far back as 1866, known widely as the General Sherman incident.

An armed trade schooner failed to head officials and follow protocol as it sailed towards Pyongyang. The ship came under fire with North Korea, the entire crew was killed.

The US later established trade relations in 1882, but that was not the last of the two nations' disagreements.

The current status of our North Korean relations can mostly be traced back to the end of World War II. In the book Two Koreas: A Contemporary History the author explains the division and animosity of north Korea towards the United States.

In short the USSR began to occupy North Korea. To avoid them occupying the whole of it, US soldiers divided North Korea and South Korea. This was meant to be a temporary measure. As the cold war began and Russian-US Relations worsened the divide became permanent.


In 1994 President Bill Clinton suspected North Korea of creating plutonium for nuclear weapons. North Korea denied permission to International Inspectors to verify the Regime's adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. December of that year a US Helicopter was shot down over North Korea.

This was the start of continued strain between the US and North Korea. While steps were made to normalize relations between the two nations in 2007, this did not last. 

In 2009 American Journalists were arrested and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to the country when the release was secured for the journalists, and they came home with him.

In 2010 a ship in the South Korean Navy was sunk, evidence pointed to North Korea although the cause remains in dispute. As a direct response the US set plans to participate in New Military excursuses with South Korea.

Following the death of Kim Jong-Il and under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un North Korea launched their first satellite into space in 2012. This caused concern as this meant that North Korea could have their own guidance systems for missiles.

2012 marked the year the world began watching the missile program of North Korea very closely. They had their first successful launch in December of that year.

A threat was made against the US in 2013 stating that "rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the pacific, it was also noted this year that North Korea began renovating a nuclear reactor plant that had previously been suspended of activity in 2007.

This caused concern and worry about a missile strike from North Korea, and if that were to happen, the inevitable war that would follow.

In 2016 a North Korean diplomat declared that the US had declared war with North Korea by putting Kim Jong-Un on a list of sanctioned individuals.

Tensions have been high with North Korea over the past few years. But tensions have never been higher that this year as words and threats have been exchanged between President Trump and the North Korean government.

In addition to potential threats to our nations's security it's also important to point out that the nation itself has had many civil rights issues and complaints. In a testimony given in 2002 Lee Soon-ok said "I testify that most of the 6,000 prisoners who were there when I arrived in 1987 had quietly perished under the harsh prison conditions by the time I was released in 1992."

Another prisoner captured in 2016 was an American named Otto Warmbier. He was captured, and sentenced to prison. Later he was released and sent home in a Comma only to later die as a result of his injuries.


The administration of Donald Trump has seen several instances in the past year when tensions have been high between both countries, Sometimes referred to as the North Korean Crisis.

2017 started with a speech from Kim Jong-Un stating that the country was in its last stages of preparing to test an intercontinental missile.

Through out this year North Korea has continued to launch missile tests despite sanctions and warnings from other countries including the US, including a scheduled launch on July 4th, American Independence day. They have demonstrated that their missile and nuclear program have developed further than previously expected.

This lead up to August of 2017 when harsh rhetoric began to build between the US and North Korea after a US Intelligence assessment noted that North Korea had successfully created a nuclear warhead capable of fitting inside a intercontinental missile.

This means could mean that North Korea can build a nuclear missile capable of striking US mainland.

In response President Trump warned North Korea that any nuclear threat would be met with "fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before"

This statement was met with much speculation as to what kind of force the president was referring to, and if he was suggesting at a future war with North Korea.

President Trump later stated about Kim Jong-Un "he has been very threatening, beyond a normal state."

Tensions built as North Korea responded by stating that they were considering launching an attack against US Military bases in Guam.

It appears that this threat was empty words, as an attack did not come, with North Korean officials stating that they were waiting for Trump's next move.

Late August another missile was launched, this time over Japan, as an apparent show of power.

Retaliations through September included more sanctions from the US and a speech from President Trump where he stated that the united states "if it is forced to defend itself or it's allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. This again let to speculation of a potential war with North Korea.

The most recent threat has raised tension once again. On November 28th North Korea launched another test missile. Initial Pentagon assessments have drawn the conclusion that it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It appears that the reentry vehicle failed to survive reentry. While not a total success, it has shown that North Korea is continuing to test and improve on their missiles.

In regards to the launch, President Trump simply stated "we'll handle it"

Potential Threats to National Security

There are many who are concerned right now, including General Thurman a former General in charge of US forces in South Korea. He has stated "the last thing we need over there is a military conflict, because it will be very bloody." He also stated it's critical that US leaders are "steady in the saddle" referring to the rhetoric between the White House and Kim Jong-Un.

Some, including Senator Lindsey Graham have suggested that US personnel should be evacuated from South Korea due to threat of war.

Right now there is no sure sign of whether or not the US will end up becoming engaged in a war with South Korea as of yet. We do however know that they do not have any intentions of stopping their missile testing. Launches have continued. In addition the heated rhetoric has continued, even to the point of name calling.

Currently no evidence shows that North Korea has even developed a guidance system accurate enough for a missile to actually be able to hit mainland US.

While that may be the case there is still cause for concern. Targeting Japan or South Korea would be much easier targets, and would still drag America into the war, but it would bring America to their territory as opposed to them attacking us directly. There is still high potential far casualties.
The United States is obligated to help Japan in defense from a treaty that was signed at the end of World War II. And as Senator Graham pointed out, there are still many troops stationed in South Korea.

A larger concern is whether or not North Korea's allies will back the country in case of war. China is one ally that has that potential. It has hinted at the possibility that it will back North Korea if the US were to stick first.

More recently the Chinese air force has performed drills and exercises in routes and areas it has never flown before. The South China Morning Post quotes one military expert name Li Jie as stating "The timing of this high-profile announcement by the [People's Liberation Army] is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further."
It seems that if the current rhetoric and strategy from our White House don't change, we are heading into a potentially bloody war with North Korea. A country which is developing technology that could target the US mainland with a nuclear warhead. 

A potential war seems likely to be perhaps a few years in the future yet, but that makes the now all the more important. For our leaders and officials and for us as individuals.

While a strike here in the US is less likely than one of our allies, we still can use this time to ready ourselves and our families. Wars can be trying, and it's best to have our own supplies. Food, water and a good savings will be very helpful if war were to break out.

Right now the best option seems to prepare for what may come. Stay Safe!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The aftermath of Typhoon Lan makes way for another Typhoon

Last week a large typhoon made landfall in Japan last week resulting in at least seven recorded deaths and one hundred injuries. The storm reached a massive size with it's gale winds reaching a diameter of 1,380 miles.

A gale is defined as sustained surface winds of 39-54 mph.  This makes Lan the second largest recorded typhoon in history, and the largest of 2017.

The deaths were caused be debris blown around and landslides from the intense storm. While the death toll is relatively few compared to other natural disasters faced this year, the flooding and power outages can cause damage to property and people's livelihoods in farms and transportation.

Japan isn't out of troubled water yet,  Tropical Storm Saola is developing into a typhoon, and it predicted to become such before it makes landfall in Japan.

While not expected to be as powerful as Typhoon Lan, Tropical Storm Saola will bring locally damaging winds, more flooding, and dangerous seas to Japan after already facing one typhoon this season.

It continues to develop through Friday and is taking a very similar course to Typhoon Lan. It could make landfall Saturday or Sunday. One thing is certain, nature doesn't take a break or become complacent, and neither should we! Keep wary, and be prepared.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

11 Dead as Fires Continue to Ravage California

11 Dead as Fires Continue to Ravage California

The governor of California has declared a state of emergency as fires continue to destroy upwards of 1,500  homes and businesses. The National Guard joins the thousands of fire fighters who are already on the front lines of the fire fight.

The 15 fires in Northern California have burned more than 100,000 acres. The images of destroyed homes and neighborhoods is heart breaking. 11 lives lost so far, in addition to the priceless photos and documents destroyed.

One can only imagine the scenes of chaos and fear as people escape on foot and car. More than a hundred people have been taken to hospitals and it is expected that the death toll will continue to rise.

It will take several more days if not weeks for these fires to be contained. Many people are still being evacuated including some in hospitals where patients were evacuated to other facilities. A large portion of the city Santa Rosa has also been evacuated.

There is hope that weather conditions will improve as today continues on and that the fire fighters will be able to make progress on the fires. Winds of up to 50 mph had pushed the fires in an unpredictable manner and have died down.

Meanwhile as Northern California has its own struggles, pictures of disneyland show the orange haze covering Anaheim as the Orange County fire storm burns 7,500 acres as of Tuesday morning. Fires up to 40mph have helped to spread the blaze quickly.

More than 5,000 evacuations in orange county are in place since the fire broke out on Monday morning, already burning 24 structures.

In the midst of this battle, containment crews are working to stop the fire by bulldozing trees, brush and other flammable material. We hope that as they starve the fire of fuel it will die down.

While one corner of the United States is concerned with massive rain and flooding, another corner fears for the destruction of thousands of acres ablaze.

This year has had more than it's share of heart break and lives lost. If there is one thing that I have been reminded of it's that no matter where you live the unexpected can happen and disaster can strike.

We want to help people create life choices that will help them and their families to be prepared for the unexpected disasters. That's why we don't just encourage creating emergency kits, but creating plans and a lifestyle that supports emergency preparedness.

The first two steps to being ready for any emergency are

  • Stay up to date! Know what's going on around you, be aware of possible disasters in your area.

  • Start a grab and go plan and kit! Know what you and your family need to do if you have to leave. Have important photos and documents easy and handy in case you do have to leave. Build more supplies as you go along to have in your kit.

Be ready and stay safe.

Author: Todd Norman

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mexico: The Aftermath

In just two weeks, Mexico has been hit by two major earthquakes. The first was a magnitude 8.1 off the coast of Chiapas. Most recently, a 7.1 magnitude, happened in Mexico City on September 19th.

The earthquake was a dark reminder of a previous quake that shook Mexico city on the same day in 1985. It killed more than 10,000 people and left many other injured and homeless.

This recent earthquake has been the largest and possibly deadliest earthquake since 1985. At around 1pm violent and prolonged shaking caused buildings to shake and crumble. The earthquake struck without warning despite a system set in place designed to send out an alert before hand.

Disaster Relief and Rescue

The current death toll has reached 245, with desperate rescue attempts throughout the city underway. Of the dozens of buildings that collapsed, one has really shown the resilience and determination of the people in Mexico City.

A four story elementary school collapsed Tuesday afternoon during the earthquake. Search teams made up of firemen, paramedics, and even local residents came together to comb through the rubble looking for survivors.

Here's a first hand account of the scene from NPR's Carrie Khan:

"It is a heartbreaking scene. Hundreds of volunteers and rescue personnel have flooded to this neighborhood around the school... all are emotionally drained, tired, but just holding on to the hope they can reach some of the children alive... under all that rubble.

"One wing of the school, three stories just pancakes in the powerful quake. One right on top of the other, making the rescue and chances of survival very difficult. 

 "But the volunteers keep coming... with hard hats and fluorescent vests, They're removing the rubble with picks, shovels, their hands... whatever they can. And dozens more are taking donations, feeding the rescuers, just wanting to be there and do something for those children either dead or trapped in the building.

Reports came through Thursday afternoon that several days after the event all children were at last accounted for with at least 21 children having died from the collapse.

The united efforts of emergency services and civilians lending a hand are paying off, just as we have seen the efforts help many in Texas and Florida during the natural disasters we have seen there.

Why were only certain buildings affected?

From reports we receive from Mexico, it seems that there were fewer buildings affected and a very different type of building that was affected than the previous earthquake. Why is this?

While structural integrity is of course crucial any buildings ability to outlast an earthquake. The type of earthquake and location can have an important impact as well. Just because a building survives one earthquake does not mean it will last another.

In 1985 buildings that were 5-20 stories tall suffered more damage than shorter buildings. In this earthquake, the shorter buildings saw more damage, with many of them crumbling.

The reason for this is similar to why a wine glass will shatter with certain frequencies and survive others. An earthquake creates vibrations and frequencies that can play off of a building causing more damage. 

If the epicenter is close then small buildings will see more damage than taller buildings, whereas typically if the epicenter is farther away, the taller buildings may face more damage.

Always be prepared

While the two major earthquakes have aleviated much of the stress on that fault line, we should still keep an eye out, and by that I mean, be prepared! Earthquakes are nigh impossible to accurately predict when, where, and how one will strike.

If you live in an area with an active fault line, it's best to be prepared. Even if you have survived a previous earthquake with little to no damage. That can lead to a false sense of security.

Take time to prepare your homes for an earthquake, and most importantly prepare yourself, and your families! 

Here are some quick tips:
  • Have an emergency plan for your family, where to meet if you are separated, how to evacuate your house, and an outside contact incase phone lines in the city are busy.
  • Have extra food and water supplies at your house
  • Have an emergency grab and go bug-out bag for your family with appropriate supplies
  • Have an emergency kit with food and water at your work locations, and small kits for your children to have at their school.

This is a great starter list to build off of, what are some other preparation ideas you have?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The next apocalypse? September 23rd

The literal interpretation of Revelation is that the constellations align on September 23.
The word apocalypse is derived from Greek meaning uncovering; or, as the book How Jesus Became God explains, "a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities". In other words, it is knowledge of things that help us make sense of the world around us.

In modern vernacular, the term apocalypse has come to mean an "end of the world" event, especially having to do with a religious belief. This comes from the book of John's Revelation, originally called Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου, Apokalypsis Ioannou. The book talks about prophecies of an end of the world event.

For years, humans have been fascinated with things they can't control; for example, an end of the world event— an apocalypse. 

In the book of Revelations and a few other parts of the Bible, there are signs that will appear to warn the faithful of the coming apocalyptical disaster. These signs have been watched for closely by faithful believers.

According to some religious scholars and believers, the signs will be coming to pass on September 23rd 2017, and following will be the Apocalypse. 

Their theory: 

The sign is based off of a verse in Revelation 12:1-2 which in the ESV reads: 

1. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  2. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 

This month, the sun, moon, and Jupiter will be in the constellation Virgo.  While this is claimed to be a rare occurrence, in actuality this occurs every twelve years. There is, in addition, a more rare occurrence. The constellation Leo (which is being associated with the Lion of the tribe of Judah) is also in alignment with Virgo.

Virgo represents the woman in heaven (the starry sky). Jupiter is the child which will be leaving from what they claim is the womb of Virgo. They say that Leo has nine stars, and that three planets— Venus, Mars, and Mercury— count as the other three stars, making up the crown of twelve stars.

Its fairly easy to follow along with this so far, but this is where it gets interesting. Later in the verse it talks about a red dragon, waiting to devour the infant. This dragon is claimed to be Planet X.

Have you heard of planet X? Chances are, probably not, scientists have shown that a planet X doesn't actually exist in our solar system, but there are some that claim that Planet X is a planet that orbits the sun 90 times more distant than earth. 

As it supposedly comes around, it can cause havoc on earth. Biblical Literalists believe this planet has caused some of the events in the bible. According to them, this red dragon, Planet X, may be the cause of the apocalypse that is set for September 23rd.

Our View

There are some important facts to be taken into account though, when looking at the signs for the supposed date.

This event isn't that unusual of an event, nor can it be taken word for word from the biblical literalists. Jupiter passes Virgo about once every twelve years. In addition there is Leo, which is claimed to have 9 stars, in most astrological maps it is connected by either 13 or 10 stars, which rules out the perfect alignment of the 3 planets. 

And then there is Planet X. If there really was such a planet, it would have knocked earth out of orbit a long time ago, so it is unlikely the red dragon will be coming around. 

So is the world really ending on the 23rd? Probably not; we should be okay for the foreseeable future. But that's the point isn't it? We always seem to be okay for the foreseeable future, but what about unforeseeable events? Things in our lives we aren't expecting.

It's the unforeseeable future that reminds us to be prepared. 

It's the unforeseeable future that reminds us to always live in a way we can be ready for any disaster. 

It's always a good time to start  working an emergency kit or continue your preparations for any potential disaster or problem!

Interested in reading more about the upcoming date for the apocalypse? Here's our sources:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

1.5 Million Acres Ablaze in the US

Yesterday evening as I was driving home, I glanced up at the sky. It was hard not to notice the gray haze that had blocked the view of our towering mountains. What I noticed for the first time was how red and dull the sun looked. The Salt Lake Valley where I live has been covered in the haze of wildfires for near a week now.

In the wake of the devistation of Hurricane Harvey and the impending threat of Hurricane Irma, other areas of the US are fighting a very different kind of threat. 

As of today there are 51 uncontrolled large fires in the unites states according to today's incident management situation report. Most notably are the fires ablaze in the Montana area, near Oregon and Washington, and in Southern California near Burbank. 

The effects of the wildfires range far past the near 1.5 million acres in the US that are directly affected by the wildfires. The fires burn land, and structures causing severe devastation to families and communities and then the smoke from those fires carries across the US.

Where I live, there is a fire around an hour from my house. Even though I am an hour away from that fire and many more hours away from the Washington and Oregon fires, I am still affected. The air in our valley is very polluted. And many people especially older and sick people are the main affected ones. The poor air can cause issues with breathing.

I say this not to take away from the tragedy of homes lost, but to show just how far reaching any natural disaster can be. As unfortunate as it is disasters are often the best calls to action. 

Where are you at on your emergency preparations? Do you have a bug-out bag ready to go? 

Think about some of these basics to have handy just in case.
  • Food
  • Water
  • Extra clothing
  • Important documents
  • Extra cash
  • N95 masks (Prevents you from breathing in harmful smoke)
  • Full tanks of gas in your cars
  • Extra cans of gas (one of the first resources to come into short supply)
Remember, preparation is a lifestyle choice. When you are prepared you can worry less about those you love. Keep Safe!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Week in Review: What You Need to Know About North Korea

By: Todd Norman, Emergency Zone

North Korea and Donald Trump are buzzwords that have been hitting top searches over the past several weeks. So what's the story? What's going on? Most of all, what is it that we need to be ready for?

In the last several days, things have simmered down just a bit in the news. There has still been talk about war with North Korea, and talk of nuclear attacks, but so far its been just that. Talk.

Up to this point most of the hype around North Korea has focused around a few statements and actions made from and by the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, and from President Donald Trump.

This war of words, so to speak, began with a threat from the North Korean Government when they announced that plans were in the works to launch several nuclear missiles near Guam if there was any US provocation.

In response President Trump responded stating that North Korea would be met with "fire, fury, and frankly power".

Both sides continued to escalate in words, sending warnings back and forth. China also got involved, with sources there stating that North Korea would be on its own if it attacked the US. Being an official ally, though, they would almost certainly take their side in other circumstances.

This became a week long banter, back and forth, between two countries who didn't really want to go to war. The one thing we are fairly certain of is that Kim Jong-un does want to protect himself and if he feels threatened he would be capable of trying an attack.

In the end North Korea backed off of their threats (or at least felt they made a strong enough statement), and the tides have more or less settled for the time being. That doesn't mean we should put our guard down though.

As individuals it may seem at times that there isn't much we can do in situations like this, we can however take care of ourselves and those close to us.

Being ready and prepared is a lifestyle choice. Preparing for an emergency can't effectively happen during an emergency. What could we do now to prepare for future concerns and threats from other countries?

This all starts with preparation now. Here are a few ideas of things to help you be more prepared now.

#1 Stay up to date on national and international news; know what could affect you.

#2 Build up a food and water storage. In an emergency food and water may come into short supply.

#3 Have a first aid kit on hand, it may be hard to run to the store to get anything you need.

#4 Have a grab and go bag, AKA, a "bug out bag." This should have essential supplies and a change of clothes in case you need to leave your home.

The great thing about preparation is it can be an ongoing process. Start now by picking up some extra food when you go shopping. Begin setting aside money to have on hand. Being able to be independent is a good way to be prepared in an emergency situation.

Listening to the news and hearing stories like the one we heard this week about North Korea gives us reminders that we live in a volatile world at times, and should take time to prepare.

What to Know About Hurricane Harvey

By: Todd Norman, Emergency Zone

It's Hurricane season, and Hurricanes are not an uncommon threat along the coasts. It is more rare for a hurricane to actually make landfall. The average of is 1.73 a year over the past 165 years.

On occasion though there are hurricanes that can leave a more lasting impression. Some of us may recall Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana; and then Hurricane Rita, which hit the same region only one month later.

A new hurricane threat is looming over the Gulf Coast, and here's what you should know...

1. As in any emergency remember people tend to panic and rumors abound. Make sure to look for  
    accurate news and news updates.

2. Hurricane Harvey is major hurricane that is sweeping towards the Texas gulf coastline as of Friday.

3. According to the New York Times and CNN, the Hurricane has developed into a category 2* and
    could hit landfall as a category 3, the first to hit the nation in 12 years.

4. In a recent report by the Weather Channel Hurricane Harvey will reach landfall either late tonight
    or early Saturday morning.

5. There are two major threats currently. They have catastrophic amounts of rainfall and flooding, and the already strong tropical storm strength winds and speeds of 110mph.

What you need to do if you are affected...

1. If your home lies dangerously in the path of Hurricane Harvey, local authorities would have already issued a warning of evacuation. It is important to listen to these warnings. Here is a link to the warnings current to the time of this posting.

2. If an evacuation is not necessary, and you haven't been prompted to evacuate, it is best to stay in your home. You have your supplies and necessities there. It also frees up the roads for emergency responders.

3. If evacuating, take essentials with you: food, extra water, extra clothing, toiletries, and cash if you have some handy.

4. If remaining in place but in an effected area keep a radio or news station playing. Keep up to date on the path of the storm.

5. There are a few things you can do to that recommends prepare yourself and your home if you are staying put during the hurricane.

  • Trim or remove damaged tree limbs from around your yard.
  • Secure and reinforce windows, doors, and roofs. If you don't have time to go out and buy anything, use what you have. Plastic sheets and blankets can protect against shattering glass and rain seeping in.
  • Review items you might have in a disaster kit: First Aid, Food, Water, Hygiene Supplies.
  • Review escape routes in case an evacuation becomes necessary.
  • Make sure you have gas in your car.
The most important thing in an emergency is to keep a cool head. If you listen to the local authorities, keep an eye on the storm, and have basic supplies; you will be okay.

An additional resource in an emergency is knowing where safe houses are. Here is a link to the Hurricane Harvey crisis map. It has useful information about the warning areas and safe houses. Crisis Map

*Hurricanes are categorized on a scale from 1-5 with 5 being the strongest.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Take Landslides Seriously

Today, in Sierra Leone, a catastrophic mudslide is ravaging the outskirts of Freetown. One mortuary alone reported 300 dead so far, and the final count is likely to be much higher. With the continuing rains, the danger is not over. The high level of death and destruction is due primarily to all of the poor not being able to afford to legally construct housing that is up to safety and engineering code.

But if you think it is only a problem for impoverished lands, you'd be wrong.

No region with uneven terrain is immune. In 2014, the same year hapless Sierra Leone was under threat of the Ebola virus, the deadliest landslide in U.S. history occurred in Washington state in the infamous Oso mudslide. 43 people were killed. This year, landslides have caused a number of long-term closures in California.

So what is a landslide, and what can you do to prepare for one?

A landslide is a geological event that includes mudslides and debris flows. They can be caused by earthquakes, severe weather, man-made alterations to the landscape, or poor civil engineering. Landslides globally cause massive damage in lives and property.

Before a Landslide

• Warning signs of shifting terrain in a community can sometimes be spotted early; sudden increase of cracks in foundations and pavement, doors and windows sticking, etc.
• Take note of the paths excess water in storms take, or where flows of debris or water would converge.
• Landscape your yard with concrete, trees, bushes, etc. to prevent erosion.
• As always, have emergency supplies and an emergency plan in place.

During a Landslide

• Many landslide deaths occur at night when people are sleeping. If you are awake, wake your family and neighbors.
• Evacuate if possible.
• Landslides can be fast and fierce. If you can’t outrun it, take cover as you would on p. 20.
• Watch for signs that the slide or flooding may be catching up to you, such as strange noises like cracking tree branches, stream water turning form clear to muddy, etc.

After a Landslide

• While searching for survivors, avoid the main slide zone. Landslides are still possible.
• When it is safe to return, repair landscaping as soon as possible to stop further erosion.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The What, Where, and How of Ebola

You've probably heard of the Ebola virus disease, you may have even heard about the recent outbreak in Bas Uélé, DRC, but what do you know about it? What do doctors and scientists know about it? Could it affect your health and well being? How can you prevent it? If someone is infected, is it curable?

Do we know where it came from?

The answer to that question is yes... and no. We generally know how the disease is transmitted to humans; what we don't know for certain is where the disease originates.

While we are uncertain of a specific origin to the disease, it is thought that a certain breed of fruit bats are the natural Ebola virus host. The disease can then be spread to other animals.

Ebola is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals' blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids. It can be an animal that is still alive or dead. The disease can then be transmitted to other humans the same way through contact with open wounds, blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids.

When did it first become noticed, and where has it affected people?

The Ebola Virus was discovered in 1976, when two simultaneous outbreaks occurred. One was in what is now South Sudan, and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The disease derives its name from the Ebola River near where the latter outbreak occurred. Since then, there have been sporadic outbreaks throughout Africa.

The recent outbreak from 2014-2016 has been the largest and most complex outbreak since it was originally discovered. There were more than cases and deaths than all other outbreaks combined. There were 28,616 reported cases and 11,310 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Previously reported cases had been in mostly rural areas. In 2014 it broke out in urban areas; and, therefore, spread more quickly.

Since then, there has only been an isolated case in Italy and a small outbreak of 8 reported cases and 4 deaths in northern DRC. Except the 2015 Italy case (likely contracted in Sierra Leone), all cases of Ebola to date have been reported only on the African continent.

Can it be prevented?

The best prevention, obviously, is to avoid traveling to those areas that have reported cases of the Ebola virus disease. The U.S. Embassy or consulate can provide specific information on areas and facilities to avoid.

If traveling to areas with the disease, reduce contact with wildlife: especially fruit bats, monkeys/apes, and raw meat. Practice careful hygiene, wash your hands with soap and water regularly.

Avoid touching anything that may have come in contact with a diseased persons blood, or bodily fluids. Don't participate in funeral rituals which involve handling in any way the body of someone who was infected with the Virus.

What are the symptoms?

It takes about 2 - 21 days after being infected by the disease to start showing symptoms. A person is not infections until they start exhibiting symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization, the first onset of symptoms includes: a fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and a sore throat. There are additional symptoms; diarrhea, vomiting, abominable pain, and unexplained bleeding and bruising.

How is it treated?

Ultimately, the Ebola virus disease can be fatal. There is currently no FDA approved vaccine or medicine available to treat Ebola. There are experimental treatments under development but have not yet been fully tested.

A patient's survival is dependent on their own immune system response and their health care. Symptoms are treated as they are exhibited. A patient who overcomes Ebola develops antibodies that are effective for at least ten years. 

It takes time even after recovery for the Ebola Virus to leave certain bodily fluids, for example, semen. And the amount of time it takes for Ebola to leave varies for each man.

For now, scientists continue to work to understand Ebola better and to help better treat the disease..

For more resources and information on the Ebola Virus, we recommend looking at the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pregnant? Why you still can't go to Cancun

Ten things you actually need to know about the Zika Virus today

Yep, you read that right, if you are pregnant or wanting to get pregnant you should not be traveling to Cancun. Cancun isn’t the only one being singled out, there are over 45 countries you should avoid traveling to according to the latest reports from the CDC (Center for Disease Control). For the most up to date list click here. So, what’s the reason behind it all?

The reason is a disease called the Zika Virus. Have you heard about it yet? If you have heard of it do you know how to keep yourself safe and most importantly anybody in your life who may be pregnant or wanting to become pregnant in the near future?

There are a lot of questions, rumors, and concerns out there concerning the Zika Virus. We did our homework to sift through all of that to find the ten things you actually need to know about the Zika virus today.

What is the Zika Virus? The Zika virus, which is very new to the western hemisphere, is related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus. The Virus can cause infection and disease and is primarily transmitted through infected mosquitoes.

What are health risks of the Zika Virus? For most adults who are infected the symptoms are very mild if you notice them at all. There has been recent studies into the correlation between the Zika virus and a rare sickness of the nervous system called Guillain-Bare syndrome (GBS). This is highly uncommon, 1 in 100,000 report having this in the US. Some of the mild symptoms are a low fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Although it may not sound that bad, the Zika virus was named a World Health Emergency in 2016 by the World Health Organization. This is because the Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect during pregnancy.  

How can it affect a pregnancy? The Zika virus while for most adults may be a mild nuisance it can severely affect an unborn child during a pregnancy. During a pregnancy the Zika virus can be passed from the mother to the fetus which can develop into a disease called microcephaly. This disease causes the brain to not fully develop. This causes the baby to have a head smaller than expected and can result in further brain damage.

What are the chances of the virus affecting a pregnancy? In a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, they estimate that the risk of the baby developing microcephaly when a pregnant mother has been infected with the Zika virus during the first trimester can be as high as 13%. The CDC does not currently know if there is a safe time to travel to areas at risk of the Zika virus during a pregnancy. The best option is of course is to avoid becoming infected.

If I do get infected with Zika will future pregnancies be at risk? There is no current evidence that a woman who has recovered from Zika will have Zika related pregnancy complications in the future. Based on similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika and has cleared the virus from the body, they will likely be protected from future Zika infections.

How can someone become infected?The virus is primarily spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. The virus can also be spread through unprotected sex and if a pregnant mother is infected there is a chance it could spread to the fetus and cause the baby to have microcephaly.

Is the Virus spreading? The virus is spreading, it can spread from one country to another as people travel and become infected, those people may then transmit the disease through mosquitoes, without evening knowing they are carriers. There have been two areas where local mosquito-borne viruses have been reported, Brownsville, Texas and South Florida. While this may seem alarming, there is work being done to create vaccines and if you are smart in your travels and stay up to date on the areas of risk you needn’t overly worry about yourself and anyone you know who may be pregnant.

How is Zika diagnosed? Watch for the mild symptoms, especially if you or someone you know has recently traveled to an infected area. A doctor can diagnose the disease if you are worried you may have been infected. Your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you have been having, as well as collect blood or urine samples.

Is there a cure for Zika? Currently there is no cure or vaccine for Zika, if you are infected the best thing to do is get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluid to prevent dehydration, as well as taking medicine to reduce any fever.

What can I do to prevent getting the Zika virus? The best way to prevent becoming infected is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. First and most important is to avoid traveling to places the CDC has listed to avoid. Second use insect repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, try to remain indoors where there is air conditioning, and if you camp outside sleep inside a tent and use a mosquito net. In addition avoid having unprotected sex during the pregnancy as it can be sexually transmitted as well.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mothers: The Original Preppers

We love to spend Mother’s Day to celebrate all the amazing moms out there, and all the things they do for us. Because let’s face it, moms are definitely the glue that holds most of us together. As a mom I know we have some tough jobs we sometimes have to face, one of the biggest challenges I think we face daily is leaving the house with our babies/children and trying to figure out how much we have to take with us in a diaper bag. There are some days where I think I’ve packed the whole house, and I’m still not prepared.
With babies, we always have to expect the unexpected— they just love to surprise us with something new everyday. Whether that be filling up their diapers in what feels like every five minutes, or throwing up all over us at the worst possible times. But we are supermoms and we handle it with such grace because we come prepared all the time (okay, maybe not all the time but we try our best.)  
But that can bring up a big question:  How many of us moms are prepared for an emergency and could we leave the house with enough items for our kids? Most of us may have a 72 hour kit for ourselves but have you ever thought about having a 72 hour diaper bag? Something we could make for just our babies.
So then comes the question, what would we need and how much of it? Obviously all babies are different and have different needs and quantities. But I think for the most part we are all on the same page about things that are essential to have in a diaper bag. So what should we be putting in a 72 hour diaper bag?

#1: A Sturdy Bag/Diaper Bag- You don’t necessarily need a diaper bag, you are going to want to have something that is sturdy and easy to carry. So even if you end up putting it in a backpack that would be fine. An important reason you want to make the baby his or her own bag is because you don’t want to waste time unpacking your whole bag while you’re looking for the baby items.

#2: Bottles and Formula- Formula is a definite must, even if you are breastfeeding. The reasoning behind that is breast milk can dry up due to stress and an emotional state, and in an emergency there can be a lot of high stress situations and you want to be prepared if that were to happen.
So how much formula should you pack? Again I think over doing it is something I would do. I would at least pack 3-4 cans of 12 oz. formula, which means you would have to pack extra water as well. So keep in mind that with the formula you want to pack as much water as you can. And if you are still breastfeeding should you still pack formula? I would definitely say yes, breastfeeding can be a great thing. But consider when on the go there might be times where it’s difficult to breastfeed and always having a back up plan could save your life.

#3: Diapers and Wipes- Babies poop a lot, especially newborns. So packing a ton of diapers is definitely necessary. If able to travel by car I would just put a whole case in the back. If that isn’t an option then I would pack as many as I could fit maybe even fitting some in my bag. The question comes up about cloth diapers, they are reusable and you wouldn’t have to pack a ton. The reason I think this could become a problem is not having somewhere to wash them and packing more water could make the bag heavier and harder to carry. Another concern is having poor sanitation, which is the number one killer in most emergency situations.

#4: Blankets- You want to make sure you have a good blanket packed, wool is always a better choice because it’s warm whether it’s wet or dry. But other blankets are fine too. There is a chance your baby also has a favorite so it’s great to pack one just like it to make the baby as comfortable as possible.

#5: Toys- Depending on the age of the baby it’s good to include something that they are use to having around so it can bring some comfort to them as well as keep them occupied. Anything small will do, a rattle, a stuffed animal or even a book they are use to. If your baby uses a pacifier make sure and pack one and a spare one in case.

#6:Change of Clothes- Again, babies love to make messes anywhere from poop to throw up. So we want to bring more than just 3 days of clothing, as well as packing some short sleeve and long sleeve and even a jacket. You want them to be as comfortable as possible and not too hot or too cold. Make sure to pack enough socks as well.

#7: Medicines- If your baby takes something daily make sure you have some packed, and even if they don’t it’s always smart to have some packed. Something in case of fever, teething, or even for a cold.

#8 Hygiene Supplies- You want to pack things like nail clippers, thermometers, nasal aspirator for the boogers, toothbrush if baby has teeth etc.

This would be a very good place to start if you are just beginning, and you can always put different things in based on the baby’s age. But I’m sure all the mommy’s out there have this covered. I hope all of you have an amazing Mother’s Day because you definitely deserve it.