Jul 21

New Earthquake Risk Maps Recognize Greater Risk for Quakes in Alabama

The U.S. Geological Survey released last week new earthquake hazard maps for the United States. Certain areas of the US experienced an upgrade, downgrade or no change in the earthquake risk. Areas of North and Central Alabama were upgraded for a greater earthquake risk than previously depicted. The maps below from National Geographic (using USGS data) show the highest earthquake hazards and areas with a change in hazard assessments.  

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CLICK HERE FOR AL.COM STORY ON EARTHQUAKE RISK

CLICK HERE FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STORY ON EARTHQUAKE RISK

Jun 27

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Friday

…Lightning Safety Around the Home… 

Although houses and other substantial building offer the best protection from lightning, each year many homes across the United States are struck by lightning.  In fact, on average, lightning causes about 4400 house fires and 1800 other structural fires each year, some of which are deadly. All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.


There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: (1) a direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and (3) through the ground.  Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the electrical and phone wires, the plumbing, and/or radio and television reception systems.

Indoor safety depends on avoiding contact with items that could conduct lightning within the home.  Here are some indoor safety tips to follow when a thunderstorm is in the area:

1.  Don’t touch electrical equipment or cords.  If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so

     WELL BEFORE the storm arrives.
2.  Stay off corded phones.
3.  Avoid contact with plumbing.  Do not wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes, or do laundry.
4.  Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

In case your home is struck by lightning:


Lightning Question of the Day:
  What are lightning rods and how do they work?

Lightning rods protect a home from a direct lightning strike, but they do not prevent a home from being struck.  They are designed to intercept lightning, to provide a conductive path for the harmful electrical discharge to follow, and to disperse the energy safely into the ground. While lightning rods help protect a structure from a direct lightning strike, a complete lightning protection system is needed to help prevent harmful electrical surges and possible fires caused by lightning entering a structure via wires and pipes. Lightning protection systems should be purchased from and installed by a certified lightning protection specialist.

Jun 26

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Thursday

…Lightning Safety at Work… 

For those who work outside during the summer, lightning is a potentially deadly threat.  While summer is a good time to complete outside work, it is very important to work in a safe environment.  Any time a thunderstorm is in the area, no place outside is safe.  Between 2006 and 2013, 38 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States while at work. About two-thirds of those killed were farmers, ranchers, roofers, lawn care workers, or construction workers.  Many of those killed were seeking shelter at the time of the deadly strike, but just hadn’t started soon enough.

For more statistics and charts, see Lightning Fatality Statistics: By the Charts


Many work activities require extra time to shut down.  In these cases, it is important to monitor weather conditions so that the work activities can end and workers can get to a safe place before the lightning threat arrives.  Similar to all outdoor activities, workers need to stop what they are doing immediately and get to a safe place if they hear thunder. WHEN THUNDER ROARS…GO INDOORS!

Lightning question of the day: What do I do if someone is struck by lightning?

Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and may need immediate medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die.  Some deaths can be prevented with proper first aid.  Call 911 and then give first aid.  CPR and use of an AED (Automatic External Defribrillator) may be needed.

For additional information about lightning or lightning safety, visit NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness web site at: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov

Jun 25

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Wednesday

…Lightning Safety and Sports Activities… 

Whether you’re out kicking a ball around with a friend, or at a major sports event, you should be prepared to get to a safe place in case a thunderstorm threatens.  Since 2006, sports activities (golf, soccer, running, baseball, football) contributed to 29 lightning deaths in the United States.  In many cases, those involved in the activities failed to realize the developing danger. 

For anyone outside, whether you’re involved in sports or some other activity, keep an eye on the sky and head to safety at the first sign of a developing or approaching storm.  If you hear thunder, you’re already in danger and should head inside a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle immediately.

Officials in charge of organized sports should have a lightning safety plan, and those involved in the sport (and their parents) should understand the plan and know what to do.  The plan should include where the participants and spectators go for safety, when the event should be stopped, when the event should be resumed, and who is in charge of making weather-related safety decisions. It’s also important to designate a person to monitor conditions and to keep those in charge informed of weather-related threats. The plan should also account for the time required to get everyone to safety.

For stadiums and larger venues, the National Weather Service has toolkits which provide templates to help design a safety plan.  Those toolkits can be found at:  http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/more.htm

Whether you’re out for a run, watching your child’s game, or attending a major sports event, remember that there’s no safe place outside in a thunderstorm.  WHEN THUNDER ROARS…GO INDOORS!

Question of the day…Are there more golfers killed by lightning than by any other activity?

While golfing is very dangerous when a thunderstorm is in the area, during the past eight years, soccer has contributed to more sports-related lightning fatalities than golf.  During that time, golf led to 8 fatalities.  This compares with 12 for soccer, 5 for running, 3 for baseball, and 1 for football.

For additional information about lightning or lightning safety, visit NOAA’s Lightning Safety Awareness web site at:  http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov

Jun 24

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Tuesday

…Lightning’s Most Deadly Activities… 

If you’re outside when a thunderstorm is in the area, you’re at risk of being struck and potentially killed or seriously injured by lightning.  However, there are some activities that lead to more lightning deaths and injuries than others.

In the past eight years, leisure activities led to almost two thirds of the lightning fatalities in the United States. Water-related activities, and particularly fishing, contributed most to the fatalities. Since 2006, 30 people who had been fishing died as a result of lightning.  Boating and beach activities also contributed significantly to the death toll.  In most cases, victims simply waited far too long before starting to seek shelter.

 For more statistics and charts, see Lightning Fatality Statistics: By the Charts


When it comes to water-related activities, there are several important things to remember.

Question of the day – If water activities are so dangerous, why don’t all the fish in a pond or lake get killed when lightning strikes the water?

When lightning strikes water, most of the discharge occurs along the surface of the water.  Since most fish swim well below the water surface, they are safe.  However, people normally swim along the surface of the water and can easily killed by a lightning discharge.

Jun 23

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Monday

…Lightning and Lightning Safety - An Introduction…


This week is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

In the United States each year, there are between 20 and 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it is extremely dangerous. Based on data for the last 30 years (1984 to 2013), lightning has killed more than 1500 people in the United States, an average of 51 people per year based on documented cases.  In addition, during this same period, lightning has injured an estimated 15,000 people, some left with life-long neurological damage.

In addition to the deaths and injuries, lightning causes considerable damage across the nation.  Each year, lightning is the cause of about 25,000 fires, including about 4400 house fires, 1800 other structural fires, and numerous forest fires.  Those fires are responsible for an additional estimated 12 deaths per year.  All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.

During the next several days, we’ll provide additional information on lightning and lightning safety.  We’ll cover what you can do to protect yourself from this dangerous killer.  Most importantly, we want you to remember that there is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm.  WHEN THUNDER ROARS…GO INDOORS!

Lightning Fact for Today:

The best protection from lightning is a substantial building.  If you can’t get inside a substantial building, a hard-topped metal vehicle will protect you from lightning. If the vehicle is struck, the lightning will follow the outer metal shell of the vehicle to the ground.  It’s important to make sure that you’re fully inside the vehicle with the windows rolled up. Note that the rubber tires do not prevent the vehicle from being struck, nor do they provide any protection.

Jun 04

Rip Current Awareness Week

Break The Grip of The Rip!

NOAA, the National Sea Grant Program, the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service want you to have a safe and enjoyable time at the beach or seashore. In an effort to heighten public awareness of rip currents at surf beaches, each year NOAA designates the first full week of June as national Rip Current Awareness Week, coinciding with the traditional start of the summer vacation season.

Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks or lightning. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/week.shtml

May 22

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May 21

Critical Document Protection during a Disaster

When disaster strikes, your immediate concern will be your safety and the safety of those you care about. Once the immediate danger passes, however, having your families’ financial, medical records and important contact information protected and available will be critical in helping you start the recovery process. According to the 2013 Preparedness in America report, only 34 percent of participants reported having stored these critical documents. It is time to increase this percent and prepare more Americans!

Take the time now to think about the priceless personal items you would want to protect from damage or take with you if you had to suddenly evacuate your home. The first step is to take an inventory of your household documents, contacts and valuables. This includes items like:

Once you have gathered your financial, legal and contact information, it is essential to safeguard this information. Consider storing paper copies of important documents at home in a fireproof and waterproof box or safe, in a bank safe deposit box or with a trusted friend or relative. Additionally, store electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected format on a removable flash or external hard drive in your fireproof and waterproof box or safe, or consider using a secure cloud-based service.

Next week we’ll follow up on this topic with how to protect yourself and family from identity theft during a disaster, stay tuned! Be Smart! Protect your critical documents and valuables during a disaster!

2014 National Climate Assessment Notes Severe Weather Increase

On Tuesday May 6 the White House released the 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA).  The assessment highlights climate changes that impact every corner of the country, from oyster growers in Washington State to maple syrup producers in Vermont.  One of the key findings in the assessment shows that the past decade was the country’s warmest on record, and that extreme weather events have increased in recent years.

According to the NCA, the changes in the climate could help fuel wildfires across the Southwest or cause heat waves and coastal flooding in the Northeast.  The NCA calls for quick action to mitigate the effects of climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for the next generation.

There are some quick and easy actions American citizens can take themselves to combat the threats from climate change.

For more specific information on your region, the NCA breaks down the country by region and identifies specific threats should climate change continue.  To learn more about how to prepare for a disaster visit http://www.ready.gov/.