The Western Mountain region of the United States composes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. According to the Red Cross, residents of the Pacific West Coast are most susceptible to earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, and landslides.
As is the case with all weather emergencies, you’ll want to begin gathering supplies to create an emergency preparedness kit. Keep essentials on hand year round like water, non-perishable foods, and a first-aid kit. If you are in a drought-prone region, stock up on extra water when possible. Weather emergencies also always come with the risk of a power outage. Think about the last time you lost power, and decide if your household could benefit from a backup battery power source. The HomePower ONE is compatible with a wide range of household appliances, like the refrigerator and lighting, and can charge your electronic devices to keep you in communication with family and the community.
Here are some more tips to help you prepare for each type of weather event that can hit your area.
An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the ground caused by the shifting of rocks deep underneath the earth’s surface. The National Earthquake Information Center locates about 12,000-14,000 earthquakes each year, with magnitude 2 and smaller earthquakes occurring several hundred times a day world wide. Major earthquakes, greater than magnitude 7, happen more than once per month.
Assess the structural soundness of your home and consider making improvements sooner rather than later. Similarly, identify any objects inside your home that could become a hazard, like heavy bookshelves or glass objects, and secure them. Next, evaluate which room of your house would be safest to shelter in, or the safest part of each room of your home. The safest area of your home would be away from glass, hanging objects, heavy cabinets, and other large furniture. A room without ceiling light fixtures like chandeliers and exposed shelving is also safest. Contrary to popular belief, do not stand in doorways. If driving, pull over and set your emergency parking brake.
Each year since 2000 has seen an average of 71,300 wildfires. These fires burn an average acreage of 6.9 million. Wildfires are unplanned and burn in areas like forests, grasslands, and prairies. Like any fire, wildfires spread quickly and can destroy not only natural areas, but residential homes and communities, as well.
There are some key terminologies that you should be aware of if you live in a wildfire-prone area of the country. A Fire Weather Watch means you should start preparing for the event of a wildfire. A watch signifies that critical weather conditions are possible, though not imminent. Extreme Fire Behavior alerts you that fires are likely to rage out of control. These types of fires are difficult to predict because they can be erratic and dangerous. A Red Flag Warning means you need to take action, like being extremely careful with open flames. This alert would signify that wildfires are ongoing or imminent.
Consider using fire-resistant materials wherever possible in your home. Be sure to have an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property, in the case you need to prevent or put out flames. Within at least 30 feet of your home, remove any debris or combustible materials like dead branches or fallen leaves. Make sure your roof and gutters are clean and branches are not hanging over the roof or chimney. Since wildfires are so unpredictable, learn and practice all your evacuation zones.
Hurricanes are more than just a rain storm; by combining storm surges, wind damage, and flooding, hurricanes can be extremely dangerous. Hurricanes are rated by their intensity of sustained winds. The 1-5 scale estimates the potential for the storm to cause damage to property. Every major hurricane receives a name in alphabetical order, with 2020 breaking records for the most Atlantic hurricanes in history, quickly making its way through the English and Greek alphabets. As of November 30, the final day of hurricane season, 12 storms had made landfall in the US. With hurricane seasons only intensifying each year, it is best to stay prepared before the storm is even called, giving you plenty of time to evacuate or secure your home.
Hurricane season begins on May 15 in the Eastern Pacific and June 1 in the Central Pacific, ending on November 30. Begin your preparation by assessing the risk a hurricane poses to your home and community. Evaluate what on your property could cause damage and remove risks like dead trees and be sure to have plenty of room inside to store lightweight yard furniture that could blow around in the wind. Learn the best routes of evacuation and practice them now, so you’ll be confident when the time comes to actually need to drive them.
Landslides occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope. A common type of fast-moving landslides are mudslides, or debris flows, that tend to flow in channels. These can flow at avalanche speeds, meaning you cannot out-run them.They also can travel many miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.
A landslide is most deadly when it occurs quickly without any notice. Each year, landslides are responsible for 25-50 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.To avoid being caught off guard, sign up for local emergency notifications that will alert you of unusual weather conditions or provide evacuation and shelter warnings. It is important to take action immediately following an evacuation notice, as every minute allows the landslide time to become faster and more dangerous.
Consult a geotechnical professional if you’re worried your home or business may be in a path of or improperly prepared for a landslide or mudslide.Since you cannot change the path once a debris flow has started, you may be able to protect your property from mud or floodwaters with sandbags, retaining walls, or k-rails.
Educating yourself on how to react to weather emergencies can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when an emergency strikes. Begin preparing an emergency supply kit, identify potential hazards in or around your home, and learn evacuation routes and places of shelter. Practice all safety plans with your whole household so you’re all prepared, no matter when you’re affected. Since power outages are common with these types of weather events, consider purchasing an emergency generator like the HomePower ONE or SolarPower ONE.
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