Don’t Be A “Seismic Statistic”

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This past weekend over a million people in northern California received a “wake up call” (literally) on how important emergency preparedness really is. As the rest of us logged on to the internet and turned on the T.V, in the hours to follow, we were reminded of why this great state has been labeled “earthquake country.” A 6.0 magnitude earthquake ruptured near Napa, CA; a historic city known for its gorgeous scenery and fine wine, at 3:20am Sunday morning. Although there have been no reported fatalities caused by this natural disaster, hospitals treated over 150 injured and the initial estimates of damage exceed 1 billion dollars. Nearly 100 residences and businesses are deemed uninhabitable and many of these home and business owners had not purchased earthquake insurance. Wineries and other businesses alike have reported losing significant amounts of product that will not only need to be cleaned up and recovered from physically but financially as well. The following link delivers a pretty good aerial perspective of the damage shot by a drone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQhYbfIz0n4

For more information about the earthquake please see the following article:

http://www.kcra.com/news/usgs-60-earthquake-shakes-northern-california/27703718#!bJZLfN

The occurrence of this earthquake is, without a doubt, a catastrophe that couldn’t have been prevented or predicted. But now that it’s happened and us Californian’s have been “re-awakened” to the risks of living here there should be no excuse to taking, at minimum, those basic preparedness steps recommended by experts. Unfortunately however, statistics prove that the majority of people considering earthquake preparedness today (two days following the 6.0 quake) will take little to no steps preparing for the next occurrence. Over the next several weeks and months as news headlines change and social media finds new interest the reality of our risk here in California will, once again, fade in to the backdrop just as it always has before. So, we want to strongly encourage you to avoid becoming a “Seismic Statistic.” The risks are real and there are real strategies you can take to mitigate these risks for you and your family. The longer you wait to follow through on these good intentions the less likely you will be to ever do so. It’s just a reality of the busy culture we live in. Please visit the following links to get started:

http://www.readyoc.org/

http://www.ready.gov/

If you’ve already taken the basic personal preparedness steps then now is the time to increase your supplies, review your plans, explore purchasing earthquake insurance, or speak with your loved ones about the importance of preparedness. Having earthquakes as our primary major disaster risk in California acts as a double-edged sword in that while a devastating earthquake occurs very infrequently, compared to tornados in the Midwest or hurricanes in the southeast, they tend to make us forget that they ever existed to begin with. Their consequences are grave and we should approach our preparedness efforts with this in mind.

Back to School Safety

School Safety

Back to school time is an exciting time of year for some kids and a drag for others. It usually means no more staying up late playing video games, sleeping in, or lounging around the house barefoot all day. However, many children look forward to new classes, meeting new friends, and a fresh start. Whether the summer is spent vacationing or staycationing, most kids experience a routine shift during those few summer months that they will inevitably have to transition back out of come the beginning of the school year. As a part of this transition back into a structured routine, therein lies an excellent opportunity to sit down with your child, dependent, or loved one and help them “sharpen” those ever so important school safety practices to ensure their protection and well-being.

The National Safety Council provides some helpful tips and checklists that should be reviewed with children regarding their travels to & from school as well as their time spent at school. Some of these topics include: distracted walking, bus safety, pedestrian safety, school bullying, playground safety, and ergonomic-related issues with heavy backpacks, books, etc. To view these safety tips and more please visit: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/SafetyObservances/Pages/BackToSchoolSafety.aspx A new school year lends itself to new opportunities for kids and it is important that we lay the foundation of safety in order for them to pursue a successful year.

Fall = Leaves, School, Football, & Wildfires

Fire Danger Sign

It is that time of year again when the leaves begin to turn, children return to school, and pre-season face painters prepare for yet another hopeful pigskin season. Unfortunately, it is also that time of year; particularly for us southern Californians, when the Santa Ana winds erupt and fire fuel levels peak. We caught an early glimpse of the 2014 wildfire season potential earlier this year in May when multiple fires broke out in San Diego County. And, more recently, we have been watching CAL Fire battle several fires up in northern California for the past few weeks. The experts agree that the prognosis for this wildfire season is not a good one; however, there is consensus that what you do in order to make your home more resilient from this threat matters significantly. Cal Fire explains what these resilience-building measures are in their “Ready, Set, Go” campaign that can be watched in a public service announcement at the following link: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/  The PSA goes in to greater detail but below are some key points of the “Ready, Set, Go” campaign:

Ready:

  • Creating defensible space around your home.
  • Hardening your home by using fire resistant construction materials on the exterior walls, roofing, and rain gutters.
  • Cleaning up leaf-litter and brush in and around the plants and shrubs next to your home.

Set:

  • Create a Wildfire Action Plan with your family identifying escape routes, meeting locations, & what you will bring with you when you evacuate, etc.

Go:

  • Stay informed by watching the news/listening to the radio.
  • Evacuate and evacuate early once warning has come from fire/law enforcement officials.

Because Orange County’s geography is so diverse, many of us do not live in an area that is necessarily prone to wildfire danger; however, the majority of us probably know somebody that does. So, take a moment to educate yourself on wildfire resilience at the website above so you can provide some safety tips to that friend or relative the next time you speak with them. The website also provides recommendations for creating a Wildfire Action Plan Checklist. Like all natural disasters, wildfires are an inevitable part of life; however, it’s what we choose to do (or neglect to do) that influences how we may be impacted.

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

What’s In Your Suitcase?

vacation preparedness

As many of our UCI faculty, staff and students head in to the final stages of summer, many of us are preparing for that much needed vacation. This can include securing pet-sitters, setting out-of-office replies, choosing which clothes/items to bring and making those logistical arrangements for when you arrive. All of these things take time and you are willing to invest this time to ensure that your homes and lives are prepared for your departure and to lay the groundwork for an enjoyable trip. But how many of these arrangements are made under the assumption that your vacation will be “Sunny and 75” with little to no disruption or cause for contingencies?

Whether traveling to another part of the state, country, or outside the U.S. there are many possibilities for disasters, both natural and manmade, that you should be aware of and prepare for before you leave. A few travel preparedness tips include:

  • Make photocopies of essential documents (i.e. identification card/passport, prescriptions, insurance card, etc.) and consider laminating, if possible.
  • Communicating itineraries with non-traveling family members as well as how and where to contact you.
  • Develop a communications plan within the group you are traveling with.
  • Pack a travel-size emergency supply kit with snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, etc.
  • Check the weather of your destination before you leave.
  • Become aware of your destination’s vulnerability to natural disasters as well as any volatile political or social issues currently taking place there.

These are just a few examples of things you may consider. For a complete list of travel preparedness tips please visit FEMA’s website at: http://www.community.fema.gov/connect.ti/readynpm/messageshowthread?threadid=47950

Also, please see the Department of State Travel Warning page at the following link as a great resource to reference when you are planning on traveling abroad: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html

Many of these simple travel preparedness plans can be easily adopted as they align with what you’re already doing in preparation for your trip. Also, these tips can help reduce the inherent stress that develops when preparing to leave. Remember that although you may be on vacation, the looming threat of disasters and emergencies never take a break.

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

Enjoy The Beach, Be Safe

Beach Safety

Last month you may recall a post titled “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” promoting Lightening Safety Awareness Week (June 23-27). Unfortunately, for many southern California beach goers’, the seriousness of this threat became too real this weekend when a powerful lightning bolt struck the water in Venice Beach taking the life of one young man and injuring thirteen other people. The details of this event can be found at the following link: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/27/us/lightning-strike-venice-beach/

Our takeaway from this terrible event extends beyond knowing what precautions to take if you get caught in a thunderstorm at the beach but rather beach safety in general. The beaches in southern California provide an excellent outdoor recreational resource that many come from all over the country to enjoy. And with our consistently pleasant weather this is a resource that can be enjoyed year-round. However, as with anything, the beach has its own set of natural risks associated with it and it is not uncommon to hear stories about injuries and deaths caused by heat-related illnesses, drowning, sea life (shark bites, jellyfish, etc.), or shore breaks. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has classified 7 Dangers at the Beach and provides information on each of these so you can be well-informed and enjoy your afternoons on the “Golden Coast” safely this summer. http://www.noaa.gov/features/protecting_0808/beachdangers.html

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

California’s Drought: A Disaster That Everybody Can Respond To

Drought

When you think of a disaster or emergency what typically comes to mind? Earthquakes, flooding, high wind events, landslides?   All of these depict a fairly consistent theme: the occurrence of a significant event over a period of minutes or days which leaves a detrimental footprint on the quality of life for those impacted by the event for years to come. For each of these, there are usually a number of preparedness tips that one can take prior to the occurrence to mitigate its impact on themselves, their family, their business, etc. However, rarely do we find ourselves in the middle of a disaster where we, as individuals, have the power to dictate how deeply this footprint will impact the economy, availability of natural resources, and society as a whole.

California’s drought has been a declared State of Emergency since January 17, 2014 and is only getting worse as we continue in to these hot summer months. However, this declared emergency is unique in a number of ways. First, its occurrence has and will continue to last much longer than a few moments of violent shaking or days of torrential rains. But secondly, this drought differs from those events referenced above in that each day that passes every resident of California can impact the footprint left behind by this disaster. As a result, the Save Our Water campaign, through the state’s drought awareness program, has provided some simple yet important tips for recommended water usage by all of California’s residents. Some of these water conservation measures include:

  • Shutoff nozzles on hoses
  • Shorter wash cycles for laundry
  • Recycling indoor/outdoor water
  • Efficient dishwashing tips
  • Reducing lawn watering

(Please visit http://saveourwater.com/ for a full list of tips and more information on how you can help)

This campaign is partnering with big name celebrities like Lady Gaga to promote Public Service Announcements (PSA) to help disseminate these water conservation messages to the public (to see this PSA also visit link above). Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown is calling on all Californian’s to engage in this unified effort through means of extraordinary individual water conservation measures. So please, join in this effort and help California conserve this precious resource.

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

What Don’t You Know About Where You Live, Work & Play? Map Your Hazard Today!

CaliforniaWhether you’re a UCI student, visitor, staff or faculty member the UCIPD Emergency Services Division wants you to be well-informed about the hazards that exist in the areas where you spend your time. The truth is that in today’s fast-paced society many of us travel out of the cities, counties, and even states in which we live to go to work, school, visit family/friends, attend meetings, events, etc. without actually understanding the natural hazards that these areas may be susceptible to. The California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) offers a “My Hazards” Awareness Map for California that can pinpoint, down to the specific address of your home or building, which natural hazards may be a threat as well as their likelihood of occurring. Based upon the results of your search, the “My Hazards” tool will then provide checklists for recommended mitigation strategies to reduce the risk that each of these hazards may pose. To map your hazard today visit http://myhazards.calema.ca.gov/ and remember that preparedness begins with awareness.

 

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

Lightning Safety Awareness Week – June 23 – 27, 2014

Thunder Roars
Stay safe. Especially if you are traveling over the summer to the South or the Midwest where thunderstorms are the norm! June 23 – 27 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Summer thunderstorms in Southern California can mean lightning, blackouts, fire and more. Do you know your lightning safety? When thunder roars, go indoors. For more information visit: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/safety.htm

Stay Connected – Where To Get Information Before, During, and After an Emergency

emergency message

The UC Irvine Police Department, in partnership with Strategic Communications, Transportation and Distribution Services, OIT, and other campus departments, maintains a number of different platforms for you to receive emergency preparedness information, safety tips, community and crime alerts, and other important information. Each of these platforms will also be used to push out up-to-date information during and after an emergency situation on campus. Make sure to bookmark each of the following websites, sign up for zotALERT text messaging, and program your phones and radios with the additional resources.

Online

PD Website     http://police.uci.edu/

EM Page     http://snap.uci.edu/viewXmlFile.jsp?cmsUri=public/MainMenuEmergencyManagement.xml

Facebook     http://facebook.com/UCIrvinePD

Twitter     http://twitter.com/UCIrvinePD

Nixle     http://nixle.com/University-of-California-Irvine-Police-Department

Phone

zotALERT Texts     http://www.oit.uci.edu/zotalert/

Emergency Hotline     866-IRV-NEWS (866-478-6397)

Radio

Zot Radio     WQTB 1690 AM (Traffic, Road Closures, Safety Updates, Emergency Information)

 

Additional information will be provided on the www.uci.edu homepage, campus email (ZotMail), electronic message boards, KUCI 88.9 FM, Smart Classrooms, ZotPortal, 800 MHz radios, and other mediums throughout the campus.

For more information on emergency management at UC Irvine, please contact Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager at awidney@uci.edu.

Stay Cool – High Temps Bring Risk of Heat Related Illness

therm 3

Temperatures in many inland Orange County communities are expected to reach high temperatures above 95 degrees this week, increasing the risk of heat related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke for those who are more sensitive to heat.

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures may cause serious conditions like heat exhaustion or heat stroke and can even be fatal. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting and dizziness. At the first sign of heat exhaustion, move to a cool location, rest and drink fluids.  Warning signs of heat stroke may include an extremely high body temperature, unconsciousness, confusion, hot and dry skin (no sweating), a rapid, strong pulse, and a throbbing headache. If symptoms of heat stroke occur, immediately call for medical assistance. Move the person to a shady area and begin cooling their body with water.

Recommended precautions to prevent heat related illnesses include:

• Drink plenty of water; don’t wait until you are thirsty.

• Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.

•Stay out of the sun if possible, and when in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim, and use sunscreen.

• Avoid strenuous activities if you are outside or in non-air conditioned buildings. If you are working outdoors, take frequent rest and refreshment breaks in a shaded area.

• Never leave children, elderly people or pets unattended in closed cars or other vehicles.

• Check on those who are at high risk to make sure they are staying cool – including seniors who live alone, people with heart or lung disease, and young children.

• Stay cool indoors – if your home is not air conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls and libraries to stay cool.

For more information on heat related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/.