Tsunami Preparedness Week: March 22 – 28, 2015

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Tsunamis are among Earth’s rarest hazards. But, even though tsunamis do not occur very often, and most are small and nondestructive, they pose a major threat to coastal communities, particularly in the Pacific. A tsunami can strike any ocean coast at any time. There is no season for tsunamis. We cannot predict where, when or how destructive the next tsunami will be. However, while tsunamis cannot be prevented, there are things you can do before, during and after a tsunami that could save your life and the lives of your family and friends. The National Weather Service provides some excellent educational material on tsunamis and what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the event of a tsunami. Visit them at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/Tsunami/

We have a lot of coastline here in Orange County and not that far from our UC Irvine community. So, in the event that our coast was struck by a fairly significant tsunami we would, without a doubt, be impacted here on campus. Many of our community members live or have family/friends who reside in Newport Beach and neighboring jurisdictions. The rest of us probably visit one of these coastal communities from time to time so it is extremely important to heed the warning and immediately move inland or to high ground following an earthquake. Every coastal city in Orange County is “Tsunami Ready,” as designated by NOAA/NWS (http://www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov/) which is why you will see the Tsunami Hazard Zone signs near the beaches (image attached). Do not take this instruction lightly. Tsunamis travel quickly and gain strength with each set of waves so it is no exaggeration to state that “every second counts.”

There have been hundreds of videos uploaded to YouTube with raw footage from the 2004 Sri Lankan Tsunami as well as the 2011 Tsunami that struck Japan after their devastating 9.0 earthquake. While these clips are sad to view, they provide us with a better understanding of the sheer magnitude and force carried by these types of disasters.

 

Campus Responds Effectively to “Formidable Flood” Exercise

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UC Irvine emergency management stakeholders convened in multiple capacities earlier this week to conduct annual exercising of emergency operation plans. Two exercises were conducted back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday in which participants responded to a common scenario dubbed the “Formidable Flood.” This scenario, which mirrored the impact of the ‘real world’ water main break at UCLA last year, prompted the UCI campus Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and several Department Operations Centers (DOC’s – Housing, Facilities Management & EH&S) to activate on Monday in an effort to exercise how such a coordinated response would occur. Then, on the following day, the UCI Care & Shelter Team (CAST) engaged in part II of this exercise scenario by opening, operating & closing a mock shelter at the Anteater Recreational Center (ARC) for those campus residents fictitiously displaced by the flood.

The two exercises rendered positive feedback from both participants and evaluators and there were some excellent observations voiced in the “hotwash” (after-exercise review) which followed both exercises. One of the common observational themes from the EOC/DOC exercise was “practice makes perfect and we get better with each exercise.” Participants agreed that the more opportunities they have to work within these EOC roles and collaborate with their cross-disciplinary counterparts in the EOC the more confident and effective they become. As with any good “hotwash,” the Emergency Services Unit took away some good documentation for improvement planning as well.

The consensus from the Care & Shelter Team was that “hands-on application of classroom training is invaluable.” This was the first exercise specifically designed to test the skills of the Care & Shelter Team since the group’s inception last year. All participants provided insightful feedback from their perspective on ways in which the team can improve moving forward as well as ways that future exercise design processes can be enhanced. The UCIPD would like to extend its gratitude, on behalf of the campus community, to all EOC/DOC participants and CAST members that participated in these exercises making UCI a more resilient campus. Additionally, this exercise could not have been such a success without the help of our campus CSAR & Zone Crew members, UCIPD volunteers and the American Red Cross. A warm recognition goes out to all of these individuals as well.

Shelter Ex-March 2015

 

Weather Safety Spring

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Aside from last week’s headline hailstorm, when was the last time you saw a SoCal beach look like this? The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently kicked off a “Weather Safety Spring” campaign across America and SoCal is no exception. Between the snowy shores of last Monday followed by the 80 degree temperatures that followed a few days later, we can’t be sure what to expect next. As stated by NOAA, “spring is three months of danger that can imperil the unprepared. It roars in like a lion and continues to roar across the United States throughout March, April and May.”

For the next 3 months various regions of the country will take specific preparedness measures that pertain to their greatest weather-related projected events. Residents on the east coast will continue shoveling their driveways and hope that they have seen the worst of this record-breaking winter. The Midwest will prepare for their inevitable seasonal tornadoes and here in SoCal we should be looking at all of the weather-related risks that pose a threat to this region of the country. What’s scary, however, is that although we by-and-large enjoy our year-round weather here we have experienced and are at risk for every common Springtime hazard cited by NOAA including tornadoes, floods, thunderstorm winds, hail, lightning, heat, wildfires, rip currents and tsunamis. Please visit the following website for helpful preparedness tips on these weather-related hazards and for more information on NOAA’s “Weather Safety Spring” campaign:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/spring_safety.html#.VQDKFZ3n-ie

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Even if you are not particularly worried about tornados in southern California you may have friends or relatives in the Midwest that you can remind about these seasonal risks. If so, talk to them about it. Be an agent for awareness and share your knowledge with others. You may be surprised just how little your friends or family members understand about personal preparedness. Maybe you travel to different parts of the country that do experience these hazards. Do you make this a regular piece of your trip planning? If not, it should be on your checklist along with the packing, airfare ticket, rental car reservation and hotel accommodations.

Lastly, with the time change occurring over the weekend it is that time of year again. If you haven’t already done so, test your smoke alarms and change out the batteries if necessary. Be sure to go through your disaster supplies as well, discard all expired items and replenish as necessary.

 

Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

March – Emergency Food

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The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of March is on emergency food. This area of preparedness should be given some serious consideration as hunger can exacerbate an already difficult emotional state-of-being following a disaster in addition to requiring it as a basic physical need. This planning process doesn’t have to be difficult; however, it could be a little more complex depending on the needs of the individuals in a family. Some of these factors could include restrictive dietary needs, food allergies, available resources to prepare food and the identification of specific comfort foods.

In addition to some of the considerations identified above, the UCIPD would like to offer some best practices and appropriate guidance for the selection, maintenance and rotation of your emergency food supply:

  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
  • Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. You may already have many of these on hand. (Note: Be sure to include a manual can opener.)
  • Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is cool.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect against pests and to extend its shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned goods that become swollen, dented, or corroded.
  • Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies.
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
  • Change stored items every six months.
  • Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
  • Taking dietary requirements in to consideration, the following items are some of the more common and recommended food selections: Ready-to-eat meats, fruits and vegetables — Canned or boxed juices, milk and soup—High energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, low-sodium crackers, granola bars & trail mix—Vitamins—Special foods for infants or persons on special diets—Cookies—Instant coffee—Cereals—Powdered milk

The goal, similar to that of water which we discussed last month, is to store enough food for every member in your household (including pets) for a minimum of 72 hours. If you can manage 7-10 days of supplies this is even better as this will be a more likely scenario following a significant earthquake here in southern California.

 

The Clery Act and UCI Campus Notifications

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The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to provide prospective and current students and employees with crime statistic information at UCI. It also requires a report with statements of UCI policy regarding safety and security procedures that are published in UCI’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report on or before October 1st of each year. In compliance with the Clery Act, colleges and universities must issue “Immediate Notifications” (known as “zotALERTS” at UCI) and “Timely Warnings” (known as “Crime Alerts” at UCI).

zotALERTS are issued upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students/employees occurring on the campus. Examples of situations in which a zotALERT may be sent include in-progress crimes, earthquakes, bomb threats, an armed intruder, gas leaks, explosions, or severe weather, among other situations. When UCI issues a zotALERT, a mass email is sent to all individuals with a UCI email address and a text message is sent to cell phone devices for those individuals who opt-in. Students, staff and faculty should visit http://www.oit.uci.edu/zotalert/ to register and opt-in for this service or to update zotALERT contact information.

Crime Alerts are issued for any reported Clery Act crime if the crime is determined to represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees. The goal of a Crime Alert is to aid in the prevention of similar crimes from occurring and to help prevent others from becoming potential victims. Crime Alerts include information and tips that promote safety. When UCI issues a Crime Alert, a mass email is sent to all individuals with a UCI email address utilizing the ZotMail system.

The UCI Police Department would like to remind the community that in emergency situations or during crimes in progress, dial 9-1-1 or use an emergency phone available on campus. Emergency phone locations are marked on the campus map available at http://communications.uci.edu//documents/pdf/UCI_14_map_campus.pdf. The UCI Police Department Safety Escort program is available to anyone at (949) 824-SAFE (7233). For non-emergency situations, the UCI Police Department can be reached 24/7 at (949) 824-5223.

 

National Burn Awareness Week Feb 3 – 9

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Last week was National Burn Awareness Week which seeks to bring attention to the unprecedented number of burn injuries that take place in America each year. Burns come in all shapes, sizes and colors and can be caused by a wide range of sources. Most adults understand common sense safety precautions while working with or around sources of heat whether this is a stove, fireplace, engine, faucet, etc. Children, on the other hand, don’t always understand these safety practices nor have the capacity to make informed decisions about the consequences. In fact, they not only have a lack of understanding and/or awareness but are actually drawn to these heat sources out of their natural sense of curiosity.

Every day, 352 children ages 19 and under are injured as a result of a fire or burn-related cause. Additionally, among children under 5 years of age, scalds or contact burns are responsible for 90% of all burn injuries and the most common places children experience these injuries are in the kitchen, dining room and bathroom. In an effort to prevent or respond to the number of household burn threats posed to children there are some excellent tips that you should be aware of:

  • Cool a burn under cold running water for 10-15 minutes and call 9-1-1 for serious burns.
  • Always supervise children in the kitchen and dining areas.
  • Create a “No Child Zone” while preparing and serving hot foods and beverages.
  • Don’t carry or hold a child while cooking on the stove. Instead, place the child into a high chair or other safe area while cooking.
  • Children love to reach, so to prevent hot food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from its edge; also, keep hot foods away from the edge of your counters. You can also purchase child safe locks for your oven, stove knob covers and a stove guard.
  • Keep clothing from coming in contact with flames or heating elements.
  • A small adjustment to your water heater can give you one less thing to worry about. To prevent accidental scalding, set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or the manufacturer’s recommended setting.
  • Make a habit of placing matches, gasoline, and lighters in a safe place out of children’s reach and avoid novelty lighters as they may look like toys in a child’s eyes.
  • When filling a bathtub turn on cold water first then mix in warmer water carefully.

Even if you don’t have children, this information may be valuable to a friend or family member you know who has or cares for children. For more information about burn awareness please visit the American Burn Association @ http://www.ameriburn.org/preventionBurnAwareness.php

 

Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

February – Emergency Water

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The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign is already in its 2nd month now with February focusing on emergency drinking water. Water is, “hands-down,” the single most valuable resource in the days and weeks following a major disaster. Clean potable water will be needed for hydration but may also be used for attending to injuries, personal hygiene, meal preparation and many other purposes.

One of the most common questions asked regarding emergency water is “How much is enough?” The transparent answer to this is that following a major disaster such as a 7.8 earthquake in southern California; a very plausible scenario, it is realistic to anticipate that much of our infrastructure will fail for multiple days or weeks. With that said, it is understandable that many people do not have the space or resources to support this level of emergency preparedness and, therefore, a minimum threshold recommendation has been established as follows: 1 gallon of water per person/per pet; per day for 72 hours taking the following in to account:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers and ill people require more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.

If you are one that is limited to, for whatever reason, the 72-hour-minimum recommendation, then you are highly encouraged to speak with friends, family, support systems, etc. to have them include you in their emergency water planning efforts. This will, at least, provide you a contingency plan if/when your 3-day supply runs dry.

Lastly, let’s discuss where to get & how to manage emergency drinking water. There are a number of different ways you can store & treat emergency water. Some store water loosely in bulk bottles and/or drums that are treated and refilled every six months. See page 9 on the following link for instructions on this approach offered by the American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4440181_Food_and_Water-English.revised_7-09.pdf Other people stock up on water bottles found at your local grocery store and discard once the expiration date has expired. Either of the aforementioned approaches is fine, however, the UCI Police Department would like to encourage you to consider another approach: 50-year shelf life canned emergency water. It’s called “Blue Can Water” and comes in what’s comparable to your average 12oz soda can. More information on this product can be found at their website @ http://www.bluecanwater.com/ The following are just a couple benefits of going this direction with your emergency water planning efforts:

  • You can take it if/when you need to evacuate your home.
  • It can be divided and stored in various locations around your home.
  • You only have to purchase is once or maybe twice (if you’re lucky ;-) in your lifetime.
  • It actually tastes very good.

Ultimately, whatever method works best for you this month, go with that! The bottom line is that you have enough emergency water to support yourself, your family & your pets for a sufficient amount of time following a major event.

Immunization Preparedness: Review Your Vaccination Records

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If you are a UCI student, staff or faculty member you should’ve received a Zotmail on January 10th regarding the presence of measles in Orange County and specifically identifying the UCI Ayala Science Library as one possible point of exposure here on campus. Since then, the numbers have grown and it is gaining a lot more media attention. According to the latest update by the Orange County Health Care Agency, there are now 22 confirmed cases of measles here in Orange County; all of which trace back to the initial identification at Disneyland Parks in mid-December. What you need to know about measles:

  • Measles spreads by air and by direct contact with an infected person.
  • Measles causes high fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes and symptoms generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.
  • People are contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears.
  • Anyone suspected they have measles should call their medical provider before arriving at the medical office to avoid exposing other to the measles virus.
  • For additional questions regarding measles (not covered above) students, staff & faculty are encouraged to contact the UCI Student Health Center @ http://www.shs.uci.edu/

Although the risk of contracting the disease in Orange County is still relatively low, measles is incredibly contagious and people can be exposed to it simply by being in the same room as a measles case during their infectious period. Vaccination is critical to prevent the ongoing spread of this disease. Many of us received the vaccination for measles (MMR) when we were too young to remember. Others, perhaps, aren’t sure if this is something they ever received. You may be a person that never received it as a child but are open to it now as an adult. In any event, the UCI Police Department encourages our community to use this current situation as an excellent reason to review your vaccination history and immunization records. For more information regarding infection prevention, please see the following article in the OC Register by one of our own doctors up at the UCI Medical Center. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/measles-648810-health-vaccine.html

Staying Safe During Public Chaos

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The recent riots and chaos in Ferguson, MO remind us that public demonstrations and protests can spiral out of control almost instantaneously. Civil unrest is sometimes a taboo subject in emergency management because it’s unsettling, to some extent, to believe that a peaceful and functioning society and its people operating under a set of laws and principals can change so drastically. The term “mob mentality” is often used to describe this shift in behavior of the public when an overwhelming influence is present, whether good or bad. Many people that would normally not engage in illegal or unethical behaviors do simply because everybody around them is and there is a perceived lack of order and a temporary “new normal.”

Civil unrest/disturbance has been seen on both a local and national scale throughout history. Some of these events occur in isolated bubbles while others pose a chain reaction in other parts of the country. They can be organized or unorganized; planned or impulsive. It’s not uncommon for groups with a common purpose to use high profile trial verdicts, Supreme Court rulings and new laws as a means to initiate riots. However, we’ve also witnessed civil unrest following victories in professional sports, during parades/celebrations, at concerts and other events that are intended to be enjoyable for the public. Civil unrest has taken place outside of government buildings in large metropolitan areas, through the streets of small towns and even on the grounds of colleges and universities.

The UCI Police Department has managed many protests here on campus over the years and has policies and procedures for responding to these types of incidents. However, with each one it is recognized that no two events are the same and that anytime you have a large group of individuals in this type of a situation there is a potential for high volatility. As such, civil unrest has been ranked third on the campus Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) which examines the risk, impact and vulnerability of a variety of events. Therefore, we believe it is important for our community to understand what to do if/when they find themselves at the scene of such an event whether it is on campus or in their home community. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Use common sense.
  • Understand that these situations are volatile and can change quickly.
  • Do not get involved, add to the size of the group, or go near the event out of curiosity.
  • Leave the scene and find a safe place for you and your loved ones until the event is over.
  • If there is no law enforcement presence, dial 9-1-1.
  • Follow the instructions of law enforcement.
  • Stay informed by watching the news, social media, etc.
  • If you decide to evacuate, take your “go bag” and valued possessions. Then, lock your doors and windows before you leave.

12th Annual Zone Crew/CSAR Meeting

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On Monday, January 12th the UCI Emergency Services Division hosted the 12th Annual Zone Crew/CSAR Meeting in Pacific Ballroom D of the Student Center. This meeting, however, was much different than those in the past as 140+ participants took their seats to engage in a multi-scenario tabletop exercise. This exercise was a discussion-based exercise which prompted all participants to work with their counterparts at tables to talk through what actions would be necessary in response to an earthquake, release of hazardous materials and an armed intruder scenario. Following each scenario, zone representatives would stand up and share with the larger group some of the issues, questions and processes identified during their group’s discussion.

Prior to beginning the tabletop exercise, Associate Vice Chancellor Paige Macias and Police Chief Paul Henisey each welcomed the group and thanked them for being there and contributing to the safety and security of the UCI campus community.   Anne Widney, the campus Emergency Services Manager, reviewed some of the major accomplishments of Emergency Services Division over the past year. Anne also introduced the emergency management initiatives that will be taken in 2015 and how Zone Crew and CSAR members can continue to stay involved and support these efforts.

Overall, the feedback received is that this was a successful meeting and a positive and fun way to engage our members. Training and education is vital, however, exercises help us understand our strengths and areas for improvement. This exercise, hopefully, provided this feedback to all that participated and we are looking forward to continuing to provide these opportunities to Zone Crew and CSAR members as we move forward. These two groups play an incredible role in our campus emergency management program and our mission could not be accomplished without them.

For additional information on Zone Crew and/or Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) please contact Anne Widney at awidney@uci.edu or 949-824-7147.