Friday Round up – December 5

It has been a while since we brought you our end of week round up of news and events on the world wide web related to emergency preparedness.  This week brings us a short column on the use of reminders to employees to “don’t make yourself the first victim”.  A suspected Ebola patient is being treated in Boston and finally a timely article for winter climates addressing retailers on how to winterize their stores.

It is always a good idea to start news on a positive.  Regular reminders to employees and indeed to everyone to always keep supplies on hand comes from Chris Hertig at the Daily Record/Sunday News.  If we are not prepared at home, our workplaces will suffer from the absence of employees or employee focus.  It makes sense that our primary focus is on those closest to us and if there is any doubt about their safety, everything else will be pushed to the background.  Regular reminders to have “sufficient supplies on hand to survive a prolonged snowstorm, power outage or pandemic is one aspect of managing the problem.”

A more sobering article comes from the Boston Herald as “A patient possibly suffering from the deadly Ebola virus was listed in stable condition last night at Massachusetts General Hospital” The hospitals in the US have been preparing for months with specially designed Ebola units to assist suspected cases and this one from the look of it is being handled in the appropriate way.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Finally, “Avoiding the Winter Blues: 7 Cold Weather Preparedness Steps for Retailers” Great tips from winterizing your sprinkler pipes to prevent bursting to stocking up on first-aid supplies for common first-aid emergencies in any weather.  “No one wants to open their store in the morning to find that a pipe burst during the night or the roof collapsed from the weight of snow and ice,” Dave Mesko, Senior Director of Marketing, Cintas Corporation.  Read them and act on them to minimize your risk.

Stay warm and stay safe!

Friday Roundup – ‘Great Shakeout’

A big part of being prepared in the event of an earthquake is practicing what to do when one happens. The recent ‘Great Shakeout’ of October 17th was, by all accounts, a success. Approximately 700,000 B.C. residents and more than 24 million people worldwide took place in this important drill.

According to experts, the best way to minimize injury and reduce the death toll in an earthquake is to, ‘Drop – Cover – Hold’, which translates to:

  • Drop to the ground
  • Take cover under something sturdy
  • Hold on until the shaking stops

Although many of us will automatically want to run out of our home or building or stand in a doorway, these are the first two things on the “Do Not Do” list that all experts agree are the most dangerous actions we can take during an earthquake.

Schools, businesses and thousands of individuals participated in this year’s earthquake drill but there are still too many people across the country that simply are not prepared and don’t know what to do when an earthquake hits. These drills are held every year throughout the country and anyone and everyone should make a point of participating. You do not have to be part of a business, school or other organization to take part. In fact it is suggested that every household plan regular earthquake drills with their family and loved ones. By holding regular drills you are ensuring that the actions you take will be instant, automatic, and more importantly, the right ones.

Apart from making sure you have enough of the right emergency supplies in your home including a ‘Grab N Go’ kit, there are things that you can do to make sure your home is earthquake ready. The government of Canada has many tips to help you get your own home ready for just such an emergency.

While the likelihood of an earthquake happening in the near future will depend on where you live, the fact is that one can happen anytime and anywhere. In most cases the first warning sign of an earthquake will not be the sounding of sirens or news broadcasts but the feeling of the earth swaying or items in your home moving. This is certainly not the time to start wondering what you should to do. Make sure everyone in your home knows what ‘Drop – Cover – Hold’ means and that they know what to do once the ground stops shaking.

Being prepared for an earthquake involves:

  • Having an adequate supply of appropriate foods and enough water to sustain everyone in your home for at least a week; more if possible
  • Making sure your home (inside and outside) is earthquake ready
  • Everyone in your home knows what to do during an earthquake
  • Holding regular earthquake drills with family and loved ones

To make sure you know what to do in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, take some time to visit your town or city’s website for more detailed information.

Friday Round Up – Calgary, NYC and Small Businesses

Calgary continues to be in the news as the massive cleanup from the recent flooding carries on unabated.  Our next stop is in NYC and we conclude with tips for small businesses.

As Calgarians and their southern Alberta neighbours continue to recover from the recent flooding, the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association have come on record to slam the federal government for cuts to emergency preparedness. Chief Brian Cornforth didn’t mince words “The federal government, they can just stay in Ottawa. They got in the way,” Cornforth said the federal government talks a good game on public safety but hasn’t been much of a partner. He said he’s sickened by near daily reports of misspending at the “highest levels of government” when funding is being cut for things like emergency preparedness and urban search and rescue.   – That’s giving it to them!

A proactive approach is being taken by the NYC Office of Emergency Management by announcing that 1.4 million New York City households and businesses in new Hurricane Evacuation Zones 1 through 6 will receive a copy of the new “Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City” guide.  The new brochure provides a citywide map of coastal evacuation zones and evacuation centers, as well as practical advice on how New Yorkers can prepare for coastal storms.  – Great initiative!

Finally, we have a great post for small businesses to protect yourself from financial ruin after a natural disaster. If a small business can’t resume operations within 10 days following a natural disaster, the chances are it won’t survive.  The article lists 7 tips and guidelines such as an alternative location, documentation and emergency cash-flow needs.  – Great advice that could save your small business.

Another week is gone and we wish you a safe weekend!

Friday Round Up – Calgary floods, Arts groups and Social Media

It is a good Friday afternoon in Victoria, but our fellow Canadians in Calgary and the surrounding area’s are having a time of it. We will check in there first during this weeks Round Up.

Heavy rains in southern Alberta force mandatory evacuations in areas of Calgary and surroundings.    With the torrential rains causing massive flooding in Alberta, highways are being washed away breaking major supply lines between cities and affected communities.  The RCMP put out a call for help to the Canadian Armed Forces to help extract stranded people.  Reports are coming in that the Saddledome is flooded up to row 10.  The worst may not be over yet and we keep the citizens of southern Alberta in our thoughts and prayers.

From comes the following very interesting post: “ArtsReady can Help Prepare Groups for Emergencies”  By Brenda Shoffner of the Daily News, the article talks about the advice given by which is an Internet-based emergency preparedness platform designed to provide arts and cultural organizations with customized business continuity plans for post crisis sustainability.  The importance of an ICE (In case of emergency) contact list for staff and volunteers, alternative facilities for events, and signing up for a mobile alert system are just three area’s that need attention.  Good stuff!!

The final post for today fittingly is about How Social Media is Changing Disaster Response.  Instantaneous news on your twitter feed can keep you up to the minute on disasters like the Alberta flooding, tornadoes or earthquakes world wide.  The article mentions when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, Facebook was the new kid on the block. There was no Twitter for news updates, and the iPhone was not yet on the scene. By the time Hurricane Sandy slammed the eastern seaboard last year, social media had become an integral part of disaster response.  Following the Boston Marathon bombings, one quarter of Americans reportedly looked to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for information, according to The Pew Research Center.  These mediums are being integrated into the emergency management planning and I say well done!

That’s all for this week.  I leave you with the following:

It’s coming whether you believe it or not.  And it’s better to be a year, month or day early, than a minute late!

Friday Round Up – Tornadoes and Hurricanes

After the tornado that ripped through Moore OK causing widespread damage and numerous deaths, we have hurricane season fast approaching.   Depending on who you are listening to or reading, this could be another severe 6 months of weather related disasters.

Scientists warn U.S., Canada of major Atlantic hurricanes in 2013.   U.S. and Canadian climate scientists are predicting another banner season for the giant storms.  The hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts for 6 months with the scientists predicting between 13 and 20 named storms with 7 to 11 of which could become hurricanes with moderate damaging wind speed with 3 to 6 of them attaining wind speeds of 178 km/h or higher (considered major hurricanes).  Sobering statistics to say the least.  Joe Nimmich, associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned Americans (and Canadians) to prepare themselves for a difficult season.  “Preparedness today can make a big difference down the line, so update your family emergency plan and make sure your emergency kit is stocked,” he said in a statement.

Canadians advised to prepare against tornadoes despite lower risk than U.S.  Canadians face a significantly lower risk than their American neighbours of finding themselves in the path of a tornado, but should still be prepared to face the worst if mother nature decides to defy the odds, experts said Tuesday.  The Canadian Red Cross urges families to take the time to devise an emergency plan. Canadians should decide on a safe shelter area, an alternative rendezvous point out of the home and an out-of-town emergency contact and share the details with all family members. It’s also a good idea to devise an evacuation route and make sure all family members are familiar with it, the organization said in its online emergency preparedness guidelines. Another key precaution is to make an emergency preparedness kit that will see both family members and pets safely through at least 72 hours. The kit should include food, water, batteries, a radio, cash, a first-aid kit and special items such as medications.

Have a great weekend and catch you next Friday.

Friday Round Up – Focus: National Emergency Preparedness Week

Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada runs from May 5-11 and today’s Round Up looks country wide at preparations.  We start off in New Brunswick, make a stop in Ottawa, skip across to Calgary and finish in our hometown of Victoria BC.

The Sackville Tribune Post from New Brunswick runs the following article titled NB preparing for Emergency Preparedness Week.  “New Brunswickers should be prepared to care for themselves and their families for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Robert Trevors issued this reminder in advance of Emergency Preparedness Week, May 5-11.”  Although we are big supporters of the various government initiatives in their respective jurisdictions, we maintain that 72 hours in many if not most situations will not be enough.  However, good job NB!

Our nations capital is our next stop where we catch the federal government launching Canada’s National Emergency Preparedness Week  from – of all places – Dartmouth Nova Scotia (no offense intended for our maritime cousins).   Gerald Keddy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and Member of Parliament for South Shore-St. Margaret’s, today launched the 18th annual Emergency Preparedness (EP) Week on behalf of the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, at Environment Canada’s Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre.  The theme for this year is “Make a Plan”.  Public Safety Canada has developed a new Emergency Preparedness e-book to give Canadians convenient access to practical information through their mobile devices.  The new Emergency Preparedness e-book is free for download at “Having an emergency plan and preparing or purchasing a kit can help families cope in a variety of situations,” said Ancel Langille, Manager of Operations at the Canadian Red Cross. “For instance, just over 40 per cent of Canadians say they have experienced a loss of electricity for more than 72 hours. Having an emergency plan of where to go and how to connect in an emergency is an easy way to Get Prepared.”  Good on ya Canada!  And the Red Cross!

Heading west towards the Rockies we stop off in Calgary (cowtown) Alberta.  The headline screams at you: Calgary’s ‘Disaster Alley’ emergency-preparedness showcase set for Sunday.  Emergency responders and planners are inviting Calgarians of all ages to the fourth annual Disaster Alley educational showcase on Sunday.  “This is a family and a free event,” said Len MacCharles, deputy chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.  “We’ll be promoting the building of a 72-hour preparedness kit,” MacCharles said. “We’ll be handing out a basic checklist of things that people should pull together and have in advance.” Disaster Alley takes place in the east parking lot of McMahon Stadium on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Drop in and say HI!

Our journey ends in beautiful Victoria BC.  Total Prepare will be participating in the 6th Annual EP Fair and Display at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in Colwood on Sunday May 5th. The week kicks off with an afternoon of displays and demonstrations at  1767 Island Hwy. on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We want to bring awareness to the importance of emergency preparedness,” said Lt. Troy Mollin, emergency program officer. “We want to educate the public on things that they can do to be prepared for an emergency or mitigate some of the risks and hazards of their area.”

If you are in the Greater Victoria area Sunday drop by and say Hi.  We would love to meet you!  Until next week… Be Prepared.

Friday Roundup – More Zombie Apocalypse, Kids & Preparedness and a Tornado in Southern Ontario

This Friday as Emergency Preparedness Week nears in Canada, we look at a few interesting tidbits from around the world wide web.  Starting with the U of Michigan being invaded by Zombies, moving on to FEMA and their message for getting kids involved in preparedness planning and finishing with a tornado in Ontario.

You can learn a lot from a Zombie.  So says a U of Michigan professor in this Washington Post article.  It was a classroom exercise designed to get School of Public Health students thinking about what the appropriate response should be during a disaster. “’Zombie apocalypse’ sounds a bit silly, but the point of this is to show that if we’re prepared for any hazard, even the unimaginable hazards, like zombies — because we know they don’t exist — we are capable of preparing ourselves for perhaps anything that might occur,” said Dr. Eden Wells.   Good job Wolverines!

Our next post comes from the venerable FEMA via  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages families to have their children prepared for an emergency as early in their childhood as possible, making them smarter and more resilient as well as enhancing their opportunities to survive and help their communities recover faster from any type of disaster. We support any endeavour to have helps kids be involved in preparedness planning and education.  They are our future.

Finally, the tornado that touched down in Melancthon Ontario, not far north of Orangeville fortunately did little damage and was not on the ground long enough to cause any widespread destruction.  Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado touched down in Melancthon, leaving a 500 metre long and 75 metre-wide path of destruction.  However, it is a strong enough reminder to make sure you know the risks in your area and make sure you are prepared.

Until next time…. Know the risks, make a plan, get a kit!

Friday Roundup – Great Utah Shakeout, Canada & Taiwan exchange info and Emergency Preparedness Week 2013

Three news stories from around the web to share with you today.  Starting off with a great post in preparation of the Great Utah ShakeOut: If disaster strikes while you’re at work.  Face it: If you work outside the home, a third or more of your life is spent at work. That means there’s a decent chance that disaster will strike when you’re not at home.  This article goes on to list tips and information and challenges employers of their responsibilities such as “Employers should prepare to house employees at the office for an extended period of time. That means food and water, first aid and sanitation needs.”  Good stuff.

In one of these “huh” moments, I came across the following article from The China Post. Canada office discusses emergency management.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for this type of dialogue, but who were the participants what conclusions did they come up with and how will this be implemented are just a few questions I have.  Canada’s representative to Taiwan Kathleen Mackay said in the statement that she hopes the participants in the seminar “will be able to learn from the best practices and experiences of other parts of the world, and thus best prepare for the own individual challenges of each area.”

Finally on this Good Friday we leave you with this: Emergency Preparedness Week  in Canada.  May 5-11, 2013 Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces and territories and partners.  This website from the Federal Government lists some handy resources for individuals, groups and organizations to spread the word.  Have a look!

Friday Roundup – News and noteworthy

It has been a while since our last Friday roundup, but we have some good news stories to share with our readers.  First up is a passing of the emergency preparedness torch in Canada.  From there we go to two articles about how online and apps are helping spread the word and we finish with some good advice.  Let’s get started.

Canada’s “Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness (CCEP) to close” reads the headline.  Sounds like negative news doesn’t it?  Don’t fear, because all the knowledge and understanding learned over 20 years is being passed over to the Emergency Management and Public Safety Institute (EMPSI) of Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario. “CCEP has done what it set out to do,” said Sean Tracey, chair of the CCEP Board of Directors, “and now it’s time to hand over the benefits of our collective knowledge, expertise and experiences to an organization that will not only uphold CCEP’s heritage and mandate, but also build on our accomplishments for a safer and more resilient Canada.” “We are excited by the opportunity to integrate CCEP’s body of work and technical knowledge into our own curriculum, while ensuring CCEP’s legacy endures and thrives well into the future,” said EMPSI Manager Ginette Soulieres.  Sounds like a win-win in Canada!

How about an app that saves lives?  The PulsePoint app alerts users who indicate that they’re CPR trained of incidents in public places where CPR is urgently needed.  How cool is that?  After someone calls 9-1-1, the app uses location-based services to direct citizen rescuers to the exact location, and also displays where they can find the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED).  Now that is more useful than Angry Birds don’t you think?

A new online video game speaks to the younger crowd to help educate and heighten awareness of disaster preparedness.The American College of Emergency Physicians has created an online video game — called “Disaster Hero” — that aims to help children prepare for emergency situations and common disasters.  The game aims to teach children: The basics of preparedness; Danger signs; The effects of common disasters; and How to deal with certain injuries. It targets children in grades one through eight and includes three levels associated with children’s reading ability.  Another one I like!

Finishing this weeks roundup is a call from the Santa Barbara office of Emergency Management for residents both in and out of flood zones to make sure their insurance is up to date as they head into the rainy season.  From 2001-2010 floods in the United States caused nearly $2.7 billion in flood losses. Almost 40% of businesses that were flooded never reopened their doors again.  Yikes!

Hope you enjoy the information and have a great weekend.

Friday Roundup – In the aftermath of Sandy

The Governor of New York in his State of the State address says he intends to propose several recommendations from a disaster preparedness commission to help the state better cope with major storms in the future. Governor Cuomo, who has had to cope with the aftermath of two major storms in his two years in office, Irene in 2011 and Sandy in late 2012, says the state could be better prepared for climate change – something the governor has said could be the new normal. As an example, the governor says just trying to coordinate emergency supplies, like ordering tens of thousands of generators, devolved into “chaos.”  Let’s hope it gets in action sooner rather than later.

In his 5 Lessons From Hurricane Sandy For Emergency Preparedness (a guest post written by Jaime Ellertson on, Jaime outlines five strategies that companies and municipalities can implement to better prepare for crisis situations.  He says during Hurricane Sandy, organizations and municipalities delivered more than 10 million alerts; only 10% of those alerts were sent using SMS, with 20% sen via email. His lessons need to be heeded.

Finally, FEMA has come out with a Commit to Emergency Preparedness in 2013 news release.  In the aftermath of active and devastating weather events across the US; flooding in the Southeast as a result of Tropical Storm Debby and Hurricane Isaac, wildfires across the Midwest, and Hurricane Sandy which devastated parts of the Northeast and was the second-largest Atlantic storm on record, FEMA is going on the offensive with a campaign to Resolve to be Ready in 2013.  This article gives tips and links provided by FEMA on emergency preparedness and encourage us all to make this a great New Years resolution.

Looking back is a great way to prepare to look forward.