Disaster Preparedness

Public Advisory: Avoiding Overheating and Heat Stroke During the Summer Months

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Heat stroke, overheating and heat exhaustion are some of the common side effects of excessive heat during the summer months. Overheating and dehydration of the body is caused mainly by heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs mainly due to the body losing water or salt to a point where the normal body functioning is altered. Extended periods of strenuous physical exercises in hot and humid areas worsen the condition due to excessive loss of body fluids via sweating.

Heat StrokeHeat stroke on the hand is a serious health condition which affects the body’s cooling system. This condition is also referred to as “sunstroke” and is caused by the body temperature elevating to a point where some parts of the brain and other internal organs are damaged. At this point, the part of the brain that controls the cooling system of the body stops working and the body is not able to cool itself. This may result in strain on the lungs, liver, heart and even the kidney. Heat exhaustion causes overheating which in turn may lead to heatstroke if not spotted and treated early.

How to avoid overheating and heat stroke

These health conditions can be mild and transient in most cases; however, engaging in some strenuous physical activities worsen the condition and may lead to hospitalization. While you are out in the hot and humid environments or during the summer months make sure you have the following in place:

  • Put on loose-fitting, light-colored and light weight clothing. Excessively tight or dark clothing holds unnecessary heat and this won’t let your body to cool as it inhibits sweat evaporation.
  • Avoid direct contact with the sun- when going outdoors; wear wide-brimmed hat or work around with an umbrella to avoid sunburn. You can also choose to apply sunscreen to the exposed parts of the body.
  • Make sure Air Conditioning is maintained – In the off season consider getting an technician to check out the AC units in your home or business.  One example is air conditioning repair Manassas VA, which has a special program for checking the function of AC units as the weather starts to turn hot.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids- staying hydrated in one way of keeping your body cool and maintaining a normal body functioning . In case you have a limit to the intake of fluids, be sure to check this with your doctor to avoid inconveniencies. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages and take extra precautions with some medications.
  • Avoid hot spots- these include some crowded places or even your parked car. During summer, the car temperature can rise up to about 20 F in just ten minutes. Before you can ride your car, let it cool off and if possible, don’t leave anyone else in a parked car. Instead, seek a cooler place with an air-conditioning or proper ventilation. A well- shaded place from direct sunlight can also be a good option to avoid that excessive heating.
  • Allow your body to acclimate to the heat- if you travel somewhere and the temperature suddenly jumps higher, take some time before trying out some exercise in the area. Ideally, it’ll take up to some weeks before the body get used to the high temperatures and this time is enough for your body to adjust to the new environment.

In the case of adverse side effects such as lack of sweating, rapid breathing, racing heart or muscle cramps; seek medical assistance as soon as possible to avoid serious health problems.

Recovering from Natural Disasters – Tips in Choosing a Contractor

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Washington Guard is dedicated to safeguarding the people and property of the State of Washington, and we have put together a series of resources on disaster preparedness.  In this guide we will go through some of the recovery methods after a disaster has hit, in particular how to choose a contractor that will help to restore damaged property after a disaster.

Disasters create a lot of market for contractors. In most cases, whether you have a repair project such as a roof replacement, driveway replacement or repaving, finding a reliable and efficient contractor with the right tools and resources to complete your project on time with the highest quality workmanship can be challenging. There is a sheer volume of contracting companies that are available for you to choose from.

1. Ask for quotes.

Contractor for Natural DisastersWhen hiring a contractor, the first thing you need to be sure about is your budget. So, when you are meeting a contractor, ask for the quotes. Most of the contractors come to your home, inspect what has to be done and give a quote based on this. You can get to know if they are professional and know about the work from this. You can speak to them to get to know how long the work takes, and what happens during the course of work at what stage during the first meeting. This will tell you if they have the right work sequence in the mind, and the duration to complete the task can be got. You can meet a couple of them, and compare the price, quality of work, duration and professionalism before you come to a conclusion.

2. Look for experience. 

When hiring the contractor, check how long he or his company has been into the industry. Experience matters a lot, for they know how to do the best work for amazing costs. They know the quality of different materials and can come up with best ideas. Experience is a proof for the reliability. The payment terms too should be discussed. Put the same in the contract. A few companies ask for a specific percentage of amounts on completing the task. You have a hold, for the entire amount is not paid till the work is completed.

3. Check the license of the company. 

Having a license for the company is the most important thing that one has to pay attention to while hiring the experts for doing the work. When one is indulging in a conversation with various contractors who will do the Carpentry or any other task of construction, check for the license. A quality company will always have the license or any legal agreement for the work they are doing.

4. Bonding and insurance. 

If a contractor is undertaking the work of rebuilding or renovating the home, make sure that they are bonded and insured, particular for roofing contractors and other specialized companies. Specific states also play a big role and have different regulations, for instance a California contractor bond has different regulations than one in Washington state, so make sure your company follows the respective regulations of the region.  Any company, that offers flooring as a part of the home repair, should be well aware of all the legal liabilities that come along. They should also offer an insurance for any damage caused during the work that is being undertaken.

If the company does not take responsibility for the damage, then they might not be insured. If the damaged goods are not properly recovered, chances are that you will have to pay for the project entirely.

5. Get feedback or reviews from previous clients. 

You can use the internet to find out the views of other people or rather clients who have previously hired the company’s services. A good contracting company that offers good services will definitely attract positive remarks.

Additionally, your friends, relatives, and colleagues can provide you references to avail quality services for the kind of work you need. Word of mouth marketing is great in helping you find services suiting your requirements. Doing so would also allow you to analyze the kind of work the contractor performs and the end results. It will help you take the right decision.

The process of recovering from a disaster can be easy and efficient if you look and hire the best contractor to do the job. So to lessen the stress, make sure you find the right contractor to help you.

 

Cleaning Up After Floods or Renovations

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When it comes to handling Disaster Preparedness in Washington State there are many things to be prepared for, but one of those things is floods.  When flooding happens it can have a large impact on both community resources and personal property.  It’s one of our missions at Washington Guard to safe guard the person and property of the State of Washington.  Today we will focus on the property, and how to restore and recover from a disaster should one happen.

Recovering from a flood, minor or major, can be very, very difficult.  Often times the damage done cannot be easily recovered from, and may require significant renovations.  Some of the damage done can include the follow:

Flooring/Drywall Damage

Rented Dumpster

A rolloff dumpster can be rented and used to fill with the trash from a renovation.

When a home floods the first thing to get damaged is, obviously, the floor.  Water that saturates the floor fanels can cause it to warp, which even after it dries can cause significant problems and may need to be fully replaced.  The best effort should obviously be taken to stop water from getting to an area where flooring is isntalled (i.e. places other than the basement), but if damage is done, it may be permanent.

Similarly drywall can be significantly damaged and require removal and repair.  Drywall is not made to withstand any real moisture or flooding, so the damage can be very quick.  When needing to renovate and remove drywall, it’s not an easy task, and may require a dumpster rental in order to collect and dispose of all the rubbish.

Mold and Bacterial Damage

When left unattended and untreated a flooded home can quickly lead to problems with mold and other harsh bacteria.  One of the most dangerous of these is the black mold, which can cause respiratory problems for residents if left untreated.

In addition to the medical problems there is also problems with the odor generated by moldy materials.  It can be quite a problem to get the stench out of a home once it becomes entrenched, hence it’s important to nip it in the bud as early as possible.

Basement Flooding

The most common type of flooding is basement flooding.  Many people deal with regular flooding of the basement and do not consider it a big deal or a significant occurrence.  In these cases a simple submersible pump is usually sufficient to get the excess water pumps out of the home and into the nearest sewer system.

When flooding becomes extreme a simple, small sump pump is not sufficient and professional water removal and flood damage experts may be necessary.  Excess water left in the basement for a prolonged period can have a dramatic impact on any wood or non-brick/metal portions of the home.

We hope this little bit of information can help you to recover from some damage done to your home from an unfortunate weather event like a flood or a storm.  For other repairs, such as damaged roofs, consider contacting a local roofer or handyman.  If you aren’t familiar with fixing these areas, don’t try it at home (consult a professional).  If you are in need of any emergency help please reach out to your local authorities and only worry about home damage after your family is safe and secure.

 

 

 

Preparation for Winter in Washington

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Winter in Washington State is a beautiful thing, but heavy storms and adventurous mountain goers have potential for disaster.

Winter in Washington State is a beautiful thing, but heavy storms and adventurous mountain goers have potential for disaster.

While everyone has already gone through a series of heavy winter months in Washington State, we are still preparing for some final weeks.  February is always the most brutal month of winter and as such we’d like to give a few tips as to how to prepare your home, your family and your person.

When and What to Prepare

We have an ongoing program of Disaster Preparedness in Washington State, and one aspect of that is dealing with winter problems.  Taking the right precautions is key for anybody, but especially crucial for anybody that fits any of the following roles:

  • Has a Mountain Home
  • Goes Hiking/Skiing
  • Any Offtrail 4-Wheeling or Other Activities
  • Livings More than 30 Minutes from a City Center

In any of these sitatuions it can become dangerous if a winter storm separates you from civilization.  Food, water, and heating can become problematic in those sitatuions, which makes proper preparation absolutely crucial.  Let’s cover a few of the these in moderate detail:

Food Stocks

While food isn’t as crucial as water or heating, it’s still important in order to maintain a positive attitude.  Having canned foods that are easily opened and eaten can be the difference between a miserable time and a moderately enjoyable time.  Canned and dried foods, while not luxury cuisine, can actually make for some enjoyable snacks and meals.  Consider some of the following:

Dried Fruits and Nuts (Mango and Peaches dry very well)
Canned Soups
Canned Beans (Good source of protein)

Water

Besides heating, water is probably the most important element for holing out a snow storm/loss of power.  Each person should have at least 1/2 gallon of drinking water for each day, and you should add onto that for use in hygiene/etc.

Using that simple math can make preparation easy, just take the number of people in your home, multiple it by the number of days to prepare for (say 7 for good measure) and multiple that by 1/2 gallon.

For a 3 person home, that would be equal to:

3 Persons X 7 days X 0.5 Gallons = 1o.5 Gallons

To be adequately prepared for a week long drought of water supply you should have 10.5 gallons stocked in your home.  This may seem like a lot, but it’s really just 2 five gallon drums, which are available in many supermarkets.

Heating

For winter, problems such as hypothermia are much more pressing issues than dehydration or starvation.  Hence taking precautions with your heating situation is crucial.  This usually comes in two forms, proper clothing and proper backup heat sources.

Being prepared with proper clothes is crucial. While many people think they are prepared, actually surviving in the clothes they have is not often ideal (womens winter coats, for example, are often light, these should be supplemented by additional layers or a more winter-ready coat would be on hand).  Making sure you have clothing that is made specifically for prolonged outdoors wear is a necessity.

Trying to heat your home when the power goes out can often be the cause for tragedy if not done correctly.  Carbon monoxide poisoning and a killer during the winter months, as people make the mistake of either blocks a cars exhaust as they sit in it, or having a generator too close to a home (letting fumes into it).  Be sure you take care to not let any fumes accumulate in your home.

References:

C.G. Newman

 

Branch and Tree Removal is Important for Disaster Preparedness

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That are many different important elements to preparing for potential disaster, and as part of Washington State Disaster Preparedness, Washington Guard has put together some guides on how to best handle preparedness for potential hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes and other disasters.  In this guide we will speak about one element that many homeowners and citizens neglect to account for, and that is the potential for fallen trees and branches ones a storm or disaster occurs.

There is no way to fully insure that trees won’t come down in the event of a hurricane or earthquake, perfectly healthy and sturdy trees can still fall victim in the event of a large natural disaster, but there are ways to avoid damage and potential injury during moderate storms or winds via the use of diligent tree removal and branch pruning.

Fallen Tree on Long Island, NY

Fallen Trees present a real danger to person and property. Diligent tree trimming and removal is strongly recommended by citizens.

A common source of injury and property damage is fallen tree limbs and branches.  High winds, rain and snow, or other events like earthquakes, can topple trees at a moments notice.  One way to mitigate some of this damage is to practice diligent tree removal and branch removal on your property and surrounding areas.  There are many experts that will handle tree removal for your private property, as well as many government agencies that are meant to handle it for public parks, streets and areas that affect power lines and other public utilities.

One tree expert from Tree Removal Long Island spoke with us about the importance of homeowner diligence, especially with the risk that hurricanes and other natural disasters pose on the live and property of citizens:

“We saw it in with Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene, Long Island was a disaster area.  Even healthy trees came down all over the place.  Weaker trees that should have been taken down and removed years back were sure goners.  Even moderate storms can bring down weak trees and branches, so it’s really important to keep them trimming and pruned back as much as possible”.

Some of the common mistakes that homeowners make:

  • Assuming a tree is healthy.
  • Not servicing overgrown limbs.
  • Not reporting trees that are impinging on power lines.
  • Letting Tree Disease spread throughout the property.

These common mistakes might not have immediate repercussions, but overtime the health and stability of trees and large plant life on your property could be adversely affected by elements such as “tree disease, rot and general weakness/death of the tree”, according to Rhode Island Tree Removal.  Some trees can remain standing for years after they have blossomed their last leaves, and each passing year means they will come closer and closer to collapse.

It is recommended that property and homeowners survey their lands at least once a year to account for any weakened, overgrown or diseases trees and plant life.  You can contract with a professional licensed tree service to get this done on a regular basis.

In addition, citizens are strongly encourages to call in any instances of downed trees, hanging limbs, impinged power lines or any other potentially dangerous situation to the local authorities.

Keeping Peace of Mind Living Near Nuclear Power Plants

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Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear Power generates 1/5th of the energy used in the USA today.

Nuclear power is one of the main sources of electrical power generation in use today, and by all accounts it is also some of the safest and most environmental friendly.  Coal, for example, producing the majority of electrical power we use today, but it also producing carbon emissions as dramatically high rates.  Wind and solar power, while on the rise, don’t come near to producing the amount of energy necessary to support our large nation.

Even with the safety record of nuclear power in the United States, one doesn’t have to go far to see examples of disastrous outcomes following meltdowns and other disasters across the world.  It is important to keep a level head when approaching the topic of nuclear safety and not choose one side staunchly over another.  Opponents will site the disasters that have occurred throughout the world, such as Chernobyl and, more recently, Fukushima, but may not offer viable options to producing the amount of energy necessary to support the general public.  Proponents will likely claim it is the safest form of energy in use today, while not giving credence or voice to the legitimate concerns around disaster.

Washington State is home to Columbia Generating Plant (formerly known as WNP-2) which is the last surviving of 5 power plants originally planned for use within the state.  It is licensed to operate through 2023, and the use of it’s energy has grown steadily over the past decade to now approaching 10 Million Mega-Watt Hours.  It’s obvious that this is a large part of the states energy infrastructure and it isn’t going away anytime soon, so residents need to be aware and comfortable with its presence as well as it’s safety concerns.

There are many ways in which the safety of the workers, employees and general public is insured when it comes to nuclear power facilities.  There are many different nuclear power outfitters that provide safety equipment and high grade tools to help handle the radiation levels that are present when dealing directly with the reactor core, in addition to providing safety throughout the premises in order to avoid potential problems with overheating, etc.

It’s important to realize the Fukushima was the result of a natural disaster, and while this isn’t a comforting thought to most, the reaction from the professional community has been a good one.  More preparation for potential outlier events such as earthquakes, tidal waves or other acts of God have started to make their way into the standard operating procedures for nuclear power facilities.  This provides much needed peace of mind with regard to the safety and security of the nuclear reactors in our State and throughout the USA.

While the presense of nuclear reactors and the use of nuclear energy is still occuring throughout the US, the rise of alternative energies such as solar and wind is also on the rise.  This will likely surmount nuclear, coal and other fossil fuel energy sources in the coming decades.