This is a brief summary of the second in the ten part series on personal disaster planning available in the September 2016 issue of e-ACCESS.
Pre-planning for disaster events is critical as the planning time required for almost all of these events will take many, many times longer than the actual warning time you’ll get that the event is coming. When it comes to any of those disasters, whether natural and man-made, do you know how much warning time you’ll really have and how you will receive that warning? Knowing and understanding the answers to these two questions may well be critical to your safety and survival. Have you ever thought about these questions or the answers? The answers clearly emphasize why you need to take some responsibility for your own safety and make your preparations now, long before any event takes place.
You’ll be surprised, if not shocked, at the typical warning times:
- Fire – Building: 1-5 minutes depending on the alarm system or lack thereof
- Fire –Wildland: Normally, fire danger rating systems provide a 4- to 6-hour early warning of the highest fire danger for any particular day that the weather data is supplied. Earthquake: Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds, depending on the distance to the epicenter of the earthquake.
- Flood: Flood watches, which are the first level are issued when conditions suggest a possibility of flooding, or if flooding is anticipated within 12-48 hours.
- Tornado: 13 Minutes is the average warning time before a tornado hits
- Hurricane: The warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds to allow for important preparation.
- Tsunami: Simulations from the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off our coast show that an initial tsunami wave can reach the coast in 20 to 30 minutes - so time is limited. Geologic history showed waves can be as high as 30 feet. So you must get at least that high above sea level.
- Lightening: You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Because light travels so much faster than sound, lightning flashes can sometimes be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. When the lightning and thunder occur very close to one another, the lightning is striking nearby. To estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm, count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.
- Volcanic eruption: It is impossible to predict the date of an eruption. Volcano warning systems are based on a probability of an eruption or hazard. There are two main volcano warning systems - color codes, and alert levels. Warning systems are specific for each volcano.
- Attack: (Active shooter, etc.) – None
- Man-made: (Chemical spill, etc) - None
We need to think hard about these warning times. Could you develop a plan to get you and your family to safety between the time you get the warning and the time the event occurs? I know I couldn’t. This is why pre-planning is so important.
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