MCESDA Disaster Digest2020-12-04T17:51:55+00:00

MCESDA Disaster Digest

Addressing Storm Stress and Anxiety

Storm stress and anxiety is completely normal, we see a potentially dangerous event and know that there is nothing that you can do to stop it, and it can sometimes make you feel powerless. On the bright side, there are so many ways to empower yourself through knowledge and preparation that can remind you that you do have a say in how the storm affects you. Here are some things that you can do to empower yourself and take control over your weather fears:

  • Prepare in advance: Think about where you can take shelter, how you will get weather information, and have a plan in place with your family and friends. Pack a go-bag that will make transportation to either your designated home shelter or a public shelter easy and quick. Knowing that you are prepared for what the weather may bring can make the storms seem less intimidating. 
  • Learn about the storms: If you understand how they develop, what to look for, and what the forecasts mean, you can also use your own knowledge to ease your concerns. Although it is critical to get updates from credible sources, being able to use your own knowledge as well and not be “in the dark” can give you a feeling of control and calm in the situation. 
    • The National Weather Service offers a free storm spotter class online that can help you learn both storm identifiers as well as look-alikes that appear far more scary than they really are. Check it out here!
  • Familiarize yourself with local storm warning systems in your community and how they work. McDonough county is partnered with the alerting service Everbridge which provides a free alerting subscription service that is customizable to your needs. You can receive these alerts for up to five addresses, choose up to 10 contact methods including cell phone, home phone, email, text messaging, and more, as well as two-way conversations with emergency managers in your area.  
    • If you are interested in this service, you can go to this link and sign up! It is 100% free of charge. 
  • Learn the local geography, this will make it easier to track the storms as they move through the area. If you are able to understand where the storms are and where they are going, the threat of severe weather can be far less stressful. 
  • Do not rely on outdoor warning systems for your alerts. Tornado sirens are designed to be heard by people who are outside, and if you rely on hearing the sirens you are putting yourself through unnecessary tension and stress. Make sure that you have at least three ways to receive a warning. For some ways to receive weather alerts, see our post for day 1 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week: receiving weather information. 
  • No questions are bad questions, if you feel unsure about specific aspects of storms and it is causing you distress, reach out to your local emergency managers and ask questions! McDonough County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency is available to answer your questions at this link
  • Reach out for help: If none of these options helped to ease your storm anxiety, you can always call the Disaster Distress Hotline for confidential counseling and support 24/7 at  1-(800)-985-5990. For more information, visit this link.

“We cannot stop natural disasters, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge”

By |March 9th, 2024|

Daylight Saving Time Begins March 10

As we enter Spring, we are also entering daylight saving time as the clocks “spring” forward. On March 10, 2024, the clocks will spring forward at 02:00 AM. With this moving forward of the clocks, we can expect nearly 12 hours of sunlight per day with the Spring Equinox right around the corner on March 19, 2024. With this in mind, what can you do to make this shift easier on your body?
  • Try to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before and the night after the time change to keep consistency.
  • Gradually adjust your sleep and wake times as we lead up to March 10. Fall asleep and wake up 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night leading up. For example, if you typically fall asleep at 10:00 PM standard time, try to sleep tonight at 9:40PM, then the next night at 9:20PM and so on. Apply this same mindset to waking up, waking up 15-20 minutes earlier each day to gradually adjust. 
  • Adjust other parts of your daily routine prior to the time change. This includes meal times and other dedicated times in your day-to-day life. 
  • Set your clocks ahead Saturday evening before going to bed.
  • Head outside to get some sunlight on Sunday morning after the time change, as this will help to also adjust your circadian rhythm to the new time. Light and dark cycles have the biggest impact on circadian rhythm/your sleep cycle. 
  • Try to not take any naps during the day Sunday so that your body and brain can fully adjust to the time change. Taking a nap risks throwing off your sleep cycle even more.

 

By |March 8th, 2024|

Day 5 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Flooding Safety

Flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other weather-related event, causing an average nationwide total of $8 billion per year in damages. Flooding has caused a total of $390,000 in property damage in McDonough county alone, and so below are some of the best ways to protect yourselves, your family, and your property from its effects. 

Preparing for a Flood:

  • Create a plan: How will you and your family stay in touch? Where will you go if you need to evacuate? Do you have a list of contacts in case of an emergency? 
  • Know your risk: McDonough County has experienced 80 flooding occurrences between 1997 – 2020. Four of these occurrences contributed to two separate federally-declared disasters for the county. To further understand the risk for your area, click here and view page 68. 
  • Understand your insurance coverage, does it cover flood damage?
  • Subscribe to alerts: Click “Get Informed” at the top of the mcesda.com webpage and subscribe to be notified of public safety and weather events via text, call, or email. 
  • Storing valuables and sensitive information: Ensure that your important documents and valuable or sentimental items are stored in a safe deposit box to prevent damage or loss. 

During a Flood:

  • Stay Informed: Check in with TV, radio, or internet-based broadcasts to receive updates
  • TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN: If you are in your vehicle and you approach flooded roadways, stop, turn around, and go the other way. 
    • As little as 6 inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle or cause a stall.
    • 12 inches of water will float most vehicles
    • 24 inches of water will carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups. 
  • Never try to traverse flood waters: Never walk or swim through flood water. Keep children from playing in flood waters or near culverts. Not only do you not know how fast the water is moving, you also do not know what debris might be within it. 

After a Flood:

  • Pay attention to authorities for instructions and information.
  • Boil drinking water before use.
  • Wear proper protective clothing and equipment during clean up.
  • Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas.
  • Be aware of debris, potential spillage of chemicals, and other hazards left behind by the flood. 

Other helpful resources:

NWS AHPS: https://water.weather.gov/ahps/

Flood Safety Awareness: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood

TADD: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood-turn-around-dont-drown

NWS: https://www.weather.gov

Be a force of nature: https://www.weather.gov/wrn/force

By |March 8th, 2024|

Day 4 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Wind and Hail Safety

For day 4 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, we are discussing how to prepare for wind and hail. McDonough County is expected to experience a minimum of three thunderstorms per year that produce damaging winds and one per year that produces damaging hail, with every part of the county being vulnerable to these events. To help you prepare, below are some fast facts on the impact that these events have had on the county:

  • June is the month with the most storms that produce damaging winds.
  • April is the month when severe hail is the most likely to occur.
  • The highest recorded wind speed in McDonough County is 95 knots (109 mph).
  • Thunderstorms and damaging winds have caused over $5,000,000 in crop damages between 1970-2020. 
  • Macomb has had the most verified high wind and hail events when compared to the rest of McDonough County – 79 thunderstorm and high wind events and 31 hail events. 
    • The next closest municipality is Bushnell, with 27 thunderstorms, high winds, and four hail events. 

On June 29th, 2023, McDonough County experienced a Derecho or straight-line winds, causing over $600,000 in damages.

Now that we have those facts, how can you stay safe and prepared for these events?

 

High Winds:

  • Trim tree branches away from your house and power lines.
  • Secure loose gutters and shutters.
  • Identify an interior room in your home that you can shelter in.
  • If you live in a mobile home, identify a sturdy building that you can go to if a high wind warning is issued.
  • Charge batteries of all essential items in case of a power outage.
  • Make a list of items outside your home that you will need to tie down or put away in the event of a high wind warning. 

Hail:

    • If possible, get your vehicle into a garage or other sheltered area to prevent damage.
    • Keep pets indoors.
    • If you are driving- pull into a gas station or other covered structure.
      • If this is not possible, angle your vehicle so that hail hits the reinforced windshield and not the side or back windows.
    • Close and secure curtains to prevent broken glass from being blown into the home if a window breaks.
    • Consider investing in impact-resistant shingles or storm shutters to protect glass surfaces.

 

By |March 7th, 2024|

Day 3 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Tornadoes

Information adapted from weather.gov
McDonough County has a 49% chance for a tornado to touch down during any given year, with a 10% chance that more than one tornado will touch down in one year. Although we see most tornadoes during late Spring and early Summer, it is important to remember that tornadoes can take place at any time during the year. To stay prepared, keep the following information in mind:
  • How to Prepare:
      • Check the forecast regularly and listen for local tornado sirens. To keep updated, you can sign up for notifications here
      • Understand your risk: The peak tornado months for the county are May and June. 
      • Create a communications plan! For guidance, see our day 1 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week post. 
      • Prepare your home. If you don’t have a safe room, identify which room in the home will give you the most protection. It should be an interior room with no windows, on a lower level if possible. 
      • Practice your plan: It is important to practice getting to these designated safe areas. This helps with knowing how pets will respond, if young children know where to go, or even how long it will take you and your family to get there. 
  • Safety during the tornado: 
      • If you are at work or school, go to the designated tornado safe rooms. Do not go into a large open space like a cafeteria, gymnasium, or auditorium. 
      • If you are outside, seek shelter inside of a sturdy building. Sheds and storage facilities will not offer safety. 
      • If you are in your vehicle, drive to the closest shelter. If this is not possible, get down in your car and cover your head or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area like a ditch. 
  • Safety after a tornado:
    • Stay informed through the local news or a weather radio to stay updated about any other upcoming weather.
    • Connect with your family and loved ones. Text messages and social media may connect and send more easily than phone calls. 
    • Assess the damage of your property after the threat of tornadoes has ended. Contact local authorities if you see downed power lines and stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
       
By |March 6th, 2024|

Day 2 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Lightning Safety

“When thunder roars, go indoors”

For the second day of Severe Weather Preparedness week we will be discussing how to stay safe when lightning occurs, and debunking some common lightning myths. 

 

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice

Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if the object is tall, pointy, or isolated

Myth: If you are outside, seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.

Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning-related deaths.

Myth: My car’s rubber tires will keep me safe if lightning strikes my car or near my car!

Fact: The tires have nothing to do with keeping you safe from the shock, it is actually the metal shell around your car that disperses the shock. Because of this, you are safest in a hard-topped vehicle!

 

Some safety tips surrounding lightning include:

  • Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder. 
  • Shelter in a sturdy building
  • Water acts as a conductor, so if you are on a beach or boat leave immediately.
  • If you feel your hair standing up, this means that lightning is about to strike you. Drop to your knees and bend forward, but do NOT lie flat on the ground. 
  • Protect your pets, dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable. 

For more information, visit weather.gov

By |March 5th, 2024|
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