Natural Disasters/Printable version

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Natural Disasters

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Natural_Disasters

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Flood

Preperation

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  • Build out of floodplains if possible.

During

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After

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References

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Flash Flood

Preperations

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  • Follow best practices if you must build in a floodplain.[1]
  • If there is adequate time before rainfall during a flash flood warning, evacuate to a safe area.[2]

During

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  • Flood water can be deceptive! It is difficult to determine the depth or speed of floodwater.[3]
  • Do not attempt to cross floodwater in an automobile.
    • Even shallow water can disable or carry away heavy vehicles such as trucks.[3]
    • If you do find yourself in a automobile which is being carried away by floodwater, abandon it immediately - It is a lost cause.[4]
  • Do not directly touch floodwater if possible.[4] Floodwater is rarely pure and may contain contaminants such as sewage, chemicals, electical hazards, or sharp debris.[5] Because flood water is often murky, you may not be able to truly see what hazards are in the water.

After

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References

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  1. "EGLE - Floodplain Management FAQs". www.michigan.gov. https://www.michigan.gov/egle/0,9429,7-135-3313_3684_3725-11281--,00.html#9. 
  2. "Flooding". Upper Iowa University. https://uiu.edu/experience/safety-security/emergency-preparedness/flooding/. 
  3. a b US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "Severe Weather Awareness - Flood Safety" (in EN-US). www.weather.gov. https://www.weather.gov/mob/Severe_Flood. 
  4. a b US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "Turn Around Don't Drown". www.weather.gov. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  5. "Floodwater After a Disaster or Emergency | CDC". www.cdc.gov. 17 September 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2021.


Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are a common weather event in many parts of the world. While dangerous, with proper preparation and precautions, they can be easily handled.

Preparation

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Long Term

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  • Ensure your buildings have properly installed lightning rods, and ideally a complete lightning protection system.[1]
  • Be ready for strong winds associated with thunderstorms.[2]

Just before a storm

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  • Unplug electronics prior to storm, especially if they are ungrounded.
  • Bring any animals inside, and ensure they are calmed.
  • If outside, seek shelter immediately inside a building or metal roofed car.[3]

During

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A lightning stike.

What to do

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Stay inside if possible.

Stay away from windows and avoid touching plumbing and electrical or gas appliances for the duration of the storm.[3]

Common Mistakes

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Trees

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Do not take shelter under a tree. While the tree will likely be a tall enough object to channel lightning, the resulting strike will likely harm anyone near the tree.[3]

References

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  1. "Lightning Rods". www.weather.gov. US Department of Commerce - NOAA. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  2. "Thunderstorms". Transport Canada. Transport Canada. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  3. a b c "Lightning Myths". www.weather.gov. US Department of Commerce - NOAA. Retrieved 3 October 2021.


Tornado

 
A tornado.

Preparation

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  • If you are able, build a storm shelter inside your dwelling, or identify a suitable sturdy space in the innermost lowermost portion of the structure.[1]
  • Stock your shelter with the usual emergency supplies,[2] plus the following:
    • Some suggest that wearing a helmet during a tornado may prevent head injury.[3]
    • Keep closed toe shoes in your shelter.[2] When the tornado is over, you may have to enter a debris filled landscape. Emergency services will be stressed following an event, so it's important that you don't injure yourself by stepping on a stray nail or glass shard.
    • A thick fabric sheet to cover your body and eyes.
    • Safety Goggles

During

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Watch vs. Warning

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During a Tornado Watch a tornado is possible but not yet confirmed - This is a good time to make preperations.[4] A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been confirmed - Seek shelter immediately.[4]

Finding Shelter

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When a Tornado warning is in effect, seek the nearest shelter possible and stay there until the danger has passed. Avoid windows, vehicles, and

Common Mistakes

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  • Never open windows, as this just wastes time.[5]
  • Never seek shelter in an underpass, because wind patterns increase the danger.[6]
  • Don't panic.

After

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Damage following a tornado may be significant, impacting utilities, basic infrastructure, and straining emergency services.

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References

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Derecho

Preperation

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During

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Derechos hit quickly, leaving you minimal time to react once one is inbound - you must seek shelter immediately.[1]

After

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References

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  1. US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "NWS JetStream - Derechos: Keeping Yourself Safe" (in EN-US). www.weather.gov. https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/derecho_safety. 


Wildfire

Preperation

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During

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  • Wildfires can move with surprising speed.
  • If you are ordered to evacuate, do so.

After

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References

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Very Warm Temperature

Introduction

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In instances where temperatures rise to very high levels, it is critical that you find some way to keep cool. Heatstroke can kill.

Mitigation

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  • Stay in an air conditioned location.[1][2]
  • Drink water to counter fluids lost by sweat.[1][2]
  • Do not leave people or pets locked in cars.[1][2]
  • Wear loose light clothing that keeps the sun off your body.[3]
  • Heat Waves can make wildfires more likely.

References

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Blizzard

Preperation

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  • Maintain a good stock of food and water on hand when blizzards are likely.
  • Have a way to stay warm with no power.

During

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Minimize exposure of skin to the cold.

After

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References

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  1. a b c "Extreme Heat". FEMA. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  2. a b c "Extreme Heat | Ready.gov". www.ready.gov. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  3. "Extreme heat: heat waves". www.canada.ca. Health Canada. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2021.


Hurricane

Preperation

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During

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After

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Earthquake

Severe earthquakes tend to happen in geologically active areas, though they may also occur more rarely elsewhere.[1]

In the event of an earthquake, the safest way to move is the get down and crawl.[2]

References

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Volcanic Eruption

Volcanic eruptions are incredibly dangerous phenomenon. While popular culture portrays lava as the primary concern, there are actually a number of dangers associated with volcanic activity.

  • Pyroclastic Flows
  • Ash
  • Volcanic debris
  • Toxic gas



Limnic Eruption

 
Lake Nyos in 1986.

Introduction

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A limnic eruption is a dangerous but rare event in which certain lakes suddenly release accumulated gases, which leads to asphyxiation in the surrounding area.[1]

Remediation

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It is possible to remediate the threat of a limnic eruption before one occurs through the use of degassing machinery on a lake of concern.[2]

References

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  1. Wenz, John (15 October, 2020). "The African lake with explosive power". Knowable Magazine (BBC). https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201009-lake-kivu-the-african-lake-that-could-explode-with-methane. 
  2. "The Killer Lakes of Camaroon". globalchange.umich.edu. Retrieved 16 October 2021.


Algal Bloom

An Algal Bloom can present a variety of dangers. The two primary dangers are ingestion and contact of contaminated waters.


Mitigation

Some natural disasters can be mitigated before they happen at all. While many mitigation strategies require large scale infrastructure, some do not.

Here are some general mitigation strategies which can be done on a personal level:

  • Build away from active risks.
  • Have a few days worth of emergency supplies.
    • Keeping some non perishable and non refrigerated food, water, and protective equipment suitable for your area on hand is most important.
    • Ideally, supplement this with a first aid kit, flashlight, and an emergency radio.
    • If possible, have a power supply, such as a generator, or off the grid renewable source. If you don't have the means to have these on hand, consider at least keeping spare batteries for essential equipment.
    • If you rely on a specific medication, always get it refilled at a pharmacy few days prior to running out, rather then just in time.
    • Have a schedule to take inventory. Check to make sure your stored food, water, and batteries are still good.

Figures

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Global risk level map.



Preparation

  • Have a bug out bag with all the supplies you need in one place. It should be easy to carry.
  • Have a stock of water and non perishable food at home.
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Evacuation

In advance

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In many cases, there will be ample warning before a natural disaster actually reaches an area. In such cases, it's best to evacuate before the disaster reaches you rather then when the disaster reaches you. As some warnings for disasters that never strike are inevitable, many in disaster prone regions get complacent, and stop taking warnings seriously. It is important that you at least consider what would need to be done to get out while it is still easy. If authorities tell you to leave in advance, you should listen.

Just in time

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Sometimes there will be less advance warning, or it will become apparent that staying behind is not a good idea. In these cases evacuation is more difficult, because it's likely that others have also realized a need to evacuate at the same time. Still, even though evacuation can be more difficult, if you need to evacuate, then you need to evacuate. Follow official guidance on what to do if there is any.

During

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While a natural disaster is actively taking place, it may be best to shelter in place instead of evacuating if you are currently in a suitable shelter. Conditions outside are likely dangerous, and even short trips can be perilous. However if your shelter is unsuitable or compromised, evacuation may be necessary to ensure your safety. While the goal of an evacuation before a disaster is to remove yourself from an affected area, that may not be possible or safe while a disaster is ongoing. If removing yourself from the affected area is impossible or unsafe, then the next best thing is to seek a suitable shelter.

Remember, the goal of an evacuation is to get to a safe place. If the place you are at is already safe, it's best to hunker down, even if it's not necessarily as comfortable as you would like.

Aftermath

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While sheltering in place may get you through the active disaster, the aftermath may contain unsafe conditions that you should remove yourself from. Following a natural disaster, everyday comforts and even necessities are likely to either be stretched thin or are going to be non-existent. While evacuating following a natural disaster, it is important to be on the lookout for damaged infrastructure, and to give right of way to aid workers and first responders if they are present.

If you require urgent assistance or aid following a disaster, particularly medical aid, food, or water, it is important that you make your needs known to the proper authorities, charitable organizations, or other assisting group. However understand that depending on the circumstances, they may have a limited capability to assist, especially in the area affected by the disaster.