Saturday, September 03, 2016

NatlPrep Day 3: After The Storm Safety


Note: This is day 3  of National Preparedness Month . Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NatlPrep hash tag.
This month, as part of NPM16, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.


After battering the Panhandle of Florida, and crossing Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, ex-Hurricane Hermine is looking like it will pose a threat to the United States Mid-Atlantic and New England regions over this long Labor Day weekend and into next week.

   As tropical systems move north they often expand in size, rather than strength. Even when they lose their tropical characteristics (become a post-tropical storm) their winds can remain very strong, but are less centralized.

In other words, whether Hermine regains hurricane strength when it moves back over the water or not, this storm has the potential to cause a lot damage and disruption over a wide area.

Inland flooding, coastal flooding, and power outages are likely threats, although substantial wind damage - and even tornadoes - are possible as well.

Those in the path of this storm who have extra food, water, provisions for emergency lighting, a first aid kit, an emergency weather radio, and a family emergency plan are likely to fare far better than those who fail to prepare.

For many in Hermine's path the next 12-24 hours provides an excellent opportunity for those who have not already done so to put together their family emergency plan and to lay in any last minute provisions.

Often the real danger comes after the storm has passed - during the cleanup and recovery period - when utilities and other services may be out for days.

So with that in mind, a review this morning of food safety after the power goes out, storm cleanup and chainsaw safety, and the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

First from, a long list or resources and an infographic on how to tell if your food is safe to eat after a power outage.

In an Emergency
Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency, such as a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power.
Emergency Preparedness (USDA)
Provides materials, including videos and podcasts, on ensuring food safety during emergencies.
[resources available in Spanish]

Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods (FDA)
Proper safety precautions to keep food and water safe. [available in Spanish and French]

Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency (CDC)
Includes tips for making water safe to drink and storing food.

Food, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Information for Use Before and After a Disaster or Emergency (CDC)

Chart: Refrigerated Food:
Is food in the refrigerator safe during a power outage? Use this chart to find out.

Chart: Frozen Food:
Is thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer safe to eat? Use this chart as a guide.

Chainsaw accidents are common after storms as people work under adverse conditions to clear debris.  The CDC maintains a chainsaw safety webpage.  Excerpts follow:

Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster
Be aware of the risk of chain saw injury during tree removal
Each year, approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws. The potential risk of injury increases after hurricanes and other natural disasters, when chain saws are widely used to remove fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches.

Gasoline generators, along with improvised cooking and heating facilities, can put people at risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Each year, hundreds of Americans die from exposure to this odorless and colorless gas.

With the possibility of widespread  power outages the potential for this sort of preventable tragedy in the post-storm period can’t be ignored.

In Carbon Monoxide: A Stealthy Killer I wrote in depth on the issue, but a few tips from the CDC include:

Prevention Guidelines

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Don't heat your house with a gas oven.

And as a last stop on our preparedness tour, a visit to the CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response  website, which provides advice on a variety of post-storm topics including electrical and fire hazards, mosquitoes, mold, unstable buildings and structures, and the dangers posed by wild and stray animals.

While many believe the worst will be over once the storm has passed, in truth, often the biggest challenges are found during the days and weeks that follow.

For more preparedness information I would invite you to visit:


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