Facebook & Emergency Communication

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It should come as no surprise to anybody that Facebook is rapidly becoming the most useful platform for emergency communication between friends and family during emergencies and disasters. The company first launched the feature known as “Safety Check” just over two years ago and ever since has seen a rapid expansion in the number of people using it during crisis situations.  Safety Check is a user-friendly; quick and effective way to report your personal safety as well as check on the well-being of family and friends.

One of the best examples of how quickly this feature was able to post and relay information within a network of affected or likely affected individuals in or around the scene of a major crisis was during the Orlando nightclub shooting that took place back in June of this year. The following article describes how critical this feature was to a group of people that had never heard of it prior to this tragic event https://www.wired.com/2016/11/facebook-disaster-response/    Safety Check is also widely being used at this time for the wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN http://www.wbir.com/news/local/facebook-activates-safety-check-feature-for-sevier-co-fires/357405529

Learn more about Safety Check on Facebook and become familiar with it should you ever have to use it for yourself or to verify the safety of others by visiting their FAQ page @ https://www.facebook.com/about/safetycheck/

 

Holiday Travel: Safety & Sanity Tips

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In just a couple of days from now turkeys will be served over elegant settings, footballs will be tossed around in back yards and millions of people nationwide will travel great distances to join family and friends to give thanks. It’s difficult to believe that this special time of year has “snuck” up on us once again as we head in to the holiday season.  Although enjoyable, the holidays can also bring about some unnecessary stress; particularly if you are one of the millions of people taking to the road, air or railway to celebrate these occasions.  Sometimes the logistics of our plans are out of our control and we just have to deal with it.  However, there are a number of proactive steps we can take to help make our travel as comfortable, efficient and least stressful as possible.  The following article provided by the Travel Channel provides “10 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel” that will not only increase your safety but maintain your sanity as well: http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/travel-tips/articles/top-10-survival-tips-for-holiday-travel

If you are a holiday “road warrior” you must be particularly prepared to encounter any number of situations during your travel including angry drivers, uncooperative weather patterns (snow, black ice, rain, fog, etc.), hazardous road conditions, travel fatigue, and anything else that may pose a risk to your well-being. There are a number short videos attached to the following link that will help remind you of some best practices in these situations before turning that ignition over for your long journey: http://www.drc-group.com/project/jitt.html#preparedness-drivingsafety

In an un-related topic to holiday travel, if you are joining the craze of “Black Friday” this year be smart and use common sense. Every year there are a number of unfortunate stories about violence and people being harmed over the purchase of Christmas gifts which contradicts the spirit of the season entirely.  You may want to consider “Cyber Monday” as an alternative to fulfill your gift shopping needs this year.

Lastly, the UCI Police Department extends a very Happy Thanksgiving to all students, staff and faculty this holiday weekend.

 

Critical Infrastructure Security & Resilience Month

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Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, observed in the month of November, builds awareness and appreciation of the importance of critical infrastructure and reaffirms the nationwide commitment to keep our critical infrastructure and our communities safe and secure. Securing the nation’s infrastructure, which includes both the physical facilities that supply our communities with goods and services, like water, transportation, and fuel, and the communication and cyber technology that connects people and supports the critical infrastructure systems we rely on daily, is a national priority that requires planning and coordination across the whole community.

The following link provides additional information about this federally declared month, offers tips on ways we can get involved and support this initiative and contains a link to the President’s Proclamation made at the beginning of the month: https://www.dhs.gov/cisr-month.  Additionally, it contains information about 16 specific infrastructure sectors that the nation is focused on protecting. A few of these include communications, critical manufacturing, dams, emergency services, financial, information technology, transportation and water/wastewater.

 

Fall Back: Preparedness Reminders

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As we prepare to “fall back” this weekend and get that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, remember not only your clocks but batteries too. The UCI Police Department encourages everybody to change out the batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home every six months (approx.) in accordance with the time changes (Spring & Fall).  These devices save lives and it is important that they are powered with a fresh source of energy whenever we ‘Spring forward’ & ‘Fall back’.  A comprehensive list of tips related to smoke detector preparedness can be found below:

  • Have smoke alarms on every level in your home, especially outside sleeping area and preferably inside bedrooms as well.
  • Test them at least once a month, and replace batteries when you change your clocks twice per year,
  • Replace all detectors after 10 years.
  • Place smoke alarms according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Clean the outside ONLY of a smoke alarm by gently going over the cover with the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Never paint a smoke alarm.
  • Whenever a smoke alarm beeps take it seriously. It might just be a false alarm from cooking, temperature changes, or dust-but you can’t afford to ignore the alert. Everyone in the family needs to react immediately.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan. Make sure your family knows two ways out of each room, a safe meeting place outside, how to call 9-1-1 once they’re out, and why they should NEVER go back in to a burning house.

Another ‘Fall Back’ practice we encourage of all of our students, staff & faculty is to review & update your family’s emergency plan and your emergency supplies/go kits. http://www.readyoc.org/  This is important because contact information changes and many supplies with an expiration date become perishable over time such as food, water, medication, etc.  An outdated plan or kit could defeat the purpose of preparing these items in the first place so remember to keep these items current with the time change.

 

The Future of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

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Climate change and the increasing frequency of severe weather events has become a topic for lawmakers discussing the future of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program, originally enacted in 1968, enables property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection, administered by the government, against losses from flooding and requires flood insurance for all loans for structures located within these participating communities.  The National Flood Insurance Program was designed to be a self-supporting initiative and in most “normal” weather-event years it is.  For example, in the past five years the program collected approximately $3.2 billion dollars from its policyholders and paid out $372 million in 2014 and $839 million in 2015.  Based upon this pattern, the program remains in the “green.”  However, in 2013 the program paid out $8.2 billion; most of which was the resulting impact from Superstorm Sandy.  So, in a single year, the payout exceeded ten years’ worth of premiums.  Another example is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in which the program didn’t even have enough funds to pay the claims of $25 billion to those that were insured.

Climate change is revealing that it is not uncommon to witness a 100-year flood event every five years and this changing phenomenon will undoubtedly expose the federal government to a huge financial liability moving forward without significant reform to the program that exists today. Read more at http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/FEMAs-Flood-Insurance-Program-Center-Climate-Change-Storm.html

For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program visit: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

 

Earthquake Early Warning: One Giant Step Closer to Becoming Reality for California

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Earthquake Early Warning is a system that uses earthquake science and technology monitoring systems to push notifications out to people via smart phones, internet, radio and a number of other devices when shaking is expected in a particular location. The seconds to minutes of advanced warning can allow people and systems to take actions to protect life and property from destructive shaking.  (Learn more @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsIquoIeyjs)  Similar warning systems are currently being used in Mexico, China and Japan and have stood the test of proven effectiveness.  The development of this technology began in the U.S. in 2006 as a collaborative effort amongst numerous stakeholders (i.e. USGS, CalTech, Cal OES, California Geological Survey and several universities); however, has encountered challenges getting the appropriate funding necessary to move forward with implementation to make this service available to the public, until now perhaps.

A significant breakthrough in Earthquake Early Warning becoming a reality for California residents, business owners, tourists and other visitors took place two weeks ago when Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 438 Earthquake Safety: Statewide Earthquake Early Warning System and Program. This bill repeals the ban on using the state general fund for earthquake notification and outlines the bureaucratic oversight of the program.   This legislation, combined with the allocated $10 million from the state budget, approved earlier this year, has provided the “Golden State” with all of the pieces needed to finally begin rolling out the warning system known as “ShakeAlert” over the next couple of years.  The OC Register covered this instrumental step towards statewide preparedness and outlined some specific examples of how this program will reduce the loss of life and economic impact in an article found @ http://www.ocregister.com/articles/warning-730593-earthquake-early.html

 

Seismic Swarm of Activity in Southern California: What Does It Mean?

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A swarm of small earthquakes located at the Salton Sea last week followed by an unusual prediction of an increased, yet short-term seismic risk by the State’s Earthquake Evaluation Council became a frontline story in the news last week. Typically, emergency planners in southern California welcome anything that gets earthquake risk some visibility because it allows a narrow window of opportunity to catch public interest as it relates to preparedness messaging.  However, it can also lead to “false alarm” fatigue as well, particularly when the media over exaggerates or mis-conveys the original information shared.

If you saw this story over the past week then you likely heard something that was reported differently somewhere else; both of which probably strayed from the original numbers shared by the State’s experts (see below). We witnessed a similar phenomenon just a few months ago (see article dated April 22, 2016 @ http://sites.uci.edu/emergencymanagement/page/3/) when the media was suggesting parallels between a few major earthquakes taking place along what’s known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and our own heightened risk of a major earthquake in southern California.

The truth is that southern California is “earthquake country” and, therefore, our earthquake risk really doesn’t vary from a consistent “always has been – always will be” type of hazard. The risk does not come and go with notable seismic activity, new findings in the field, enhancements to earthquake technology or even with the production of Hollywood movies such as last year’s released fiction film “San Andreas.”  Our hope is that the UCI community as well as other southern Californians understand this risk, take appropriate steps to prepare, and then are able to read these headlines with a “grain of salt”  as opposed to riding out the next seven days of anxiety and fear until this “would be” threat has “passed.”

Ensure that you are practicing the top ten tips on earthquake safety by visiting: http://www.police.uci.edu/em/EarthquakeSafetyTop10.pdf

Also, if you are interested in reading the original prediction please visit the California Office of Emergency Services website @ http://www.oesnews.com/governors-director-emergency-services-reminds-californians-prepared-earthquakes/

 

Campus Search & Rescue (CSAR) Welcomes New Graduates

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The UCI Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) Program wrapped up training series #21 last week; welcoming 27 new graduates to the team.  There are now close to 400 trained faculty and staff members prepared to help support the needs of our campus following a catastrophic earthquake or any other natural or manmade disaster. These individuals received training on disaster preparedness, hazardous material and fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism awareness and workplace violence.  In addition to now being a resource for the campus, even more importantly, these members are now better prepared to handle crisis situations they may come across in their personal lives as well.

Traditionally, the course has been held each Fall, however, it appears as though the Emergency Services Unit may be able to offer a few sessions per year. For more information on this please stay tuned to this blog and like us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/UCIrvinePD More information will become available in the New Year.  If you are interested in taking this course, please email Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager, @ awidney@uci.edu to be placed on the interest list. Again, congratulations to the new graduates and thank you for helping us make our campus a more resilient community.

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Annual Flu Vaccine Clinic

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Although the continued warm temperatures have not exactly alluded to a change in season, the fact that classes began on Monday lets us know that fall is officially here. Unfortunately, this also means that nasty virus we know as the flu is upon us as well. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination every year. We’re fortunate here at UCI in that this resource is made widely accessible to students, staff and faculty. The Student Health Center (http://www.shs.uci.edu/) is offering several options for their walk-in flu clinics this season. Please see below for the schedule and location:

  • October 7 Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm
  • October 13 Thursday 10:00am to 4:00pm
  • October 17 Monday 10:00am to 4:00pm
  • November 3 Thursday 10:00am to 4:00pm
  • November 10 Thursday 10:00am to 4:00pm

Student Health Center

501 Student Health

Irvine, CA 92697

Additionally, the SHC will also be offering a mobile flu clinic located on Ring Road between the Cross Cultural Center & Aldrich Hall from 10:00am – 2:00pm on the following dates:

  • September 22 Thursday
  • October 20 Thursday
  • November 17 Thursday

The cost of the flu vaccination is only $25. Students enrolled in the UC Student Health Insurance Plan pay nothing. For questions please call (949) 824-5301

Can’t make it to the clinic on campus? Most pharmacies including CVS, Walgreens, and Costco also offer walk-in flu shots. Or visit your primary care physician for the vaccine.

For more information on the 2016-2017 Flu Season visit the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) @ http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/

 

National Preparedness Month, September 11 – 17: Prepare Through Service

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This Sunday, September 11th will mark the 15-year anniversary of the most devastating events to ever take place on American soil and while this will certainly be a day of remembrance for the innocent lives lost it will also be a day of recognizing how we can work together to strengthen our resiliency in this country from natural and human-caused disasters.  This is why the National Preparedness Month focus of September 11 – 17 is “Preparing through Service.”  There are a number of different ways you can volunteer and a countless number of organizations you may consider joining.  All of these, including those members of the National VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters), can be found at the following link: https://www.ready.gov/volunteer

There is no better way to honor those that have fallen victim to natural or human-caused disasters than to take action and this is an excellent way to do so.

Be Smart. Take Part.  Prepare