Tag Archives: heatwave

Emergency Preparedness matters: heatwave, fire, storm and flooding – summer 2018

It’s been an amazing summer 2018, one that in the UK has been compared to the previous record-setting heatwave in 1976 such as in this BBC article . No matter how you draw the comparison (and the article has some interesting graphs) one change in the intervening 42 years is certain: global average temperatures have risen and this is set to continue.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense. They trigger serious air pollution alerts and are dangerous to human health. I’m not looking forward to this year’s figures being released but in the 2003 pan-European heatwave there were over 2000 excessive deaths in the UK alone as also mentioned in our UK preparedness awareness video. Public Health England has a useful blog on why some people suffer during heatwaves.    

Heatwaves also connect to fires and this year has been bad all around, terrifyingly illustrated in Wildfires around the world: the photos that explain the flames.

The UK also suffered massively and prevention is more than a fire service issue, research showing that informal local and national  partnerships are key.

Again, it’s about building capabilities and capacities at community and personal level and that starts with being cued in about personal fire safety preparedness. The heat eventually breaks with thunderstorms and torrential rain leading to localised flooding. This year, flooding in Europe was again common and with devastating consequences. A few examples illustrate the danger and devastation from France and my native Switzerland:

Luckily, so far the UK has gotten off relatively lightly – but then we’re only just about half way through August. The exception here is Northern Ireland. Read the next tweet slowly and let that number sink in, for it can happen anywhere with little or no warning

Thankfully, a flood relief scheme was activated for domestic properties but may not reach all affected. Small business are typically not covered either. This is why personal preparedness and insurance are so important. Most people are not adequately covered nor know enough about preparedness.And it is of course at this point I plug our emergency preparedness hub which links to lots of relevant and useful resources for you to check out. Also thankfully and as of 1st July 2018, the Met Office now issues official thunderstorm warnings, a first in its 164 year history! 

Brilliant! Early warning is key of course so make sure you are #weatheraware and tune in regularly. Another excellent way to do this is via the Met Office weather app. In addition you need a low-tech backup such as a trusty wind-up radio which should be standard kit in your emergency grab bag.  Want to know and do more? Then don’t miss this year’s September is Preparedness Month #30days30waysUK campaign.

Have a brilliant rest of August!

Monika

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Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness

What an amazingly beautiful HOT weekend we’ve just enjoyed and are promised much more to come the rest of this summer! Yet a heatwave can have quite serious consequences some of which are perhaps well less known. Mostly people talk about health effects and there is a so called Heat Health Watch, for example

 

 

With regards to national preparedness, the Heatwave plan for England kicks in every year on the 1st June and runs to mid September. But what about personal preparedness?

Heatwaves affect anyone says the British Red Cross, especially older people, children and babies and people suffering from certain chronic conditions. Yet heatwaves not only affect health.  Our Preparedness for Heatwave page explains like this tweet:

So in addition to health, you need to be better prepared for power cuts such as brownouts and blackouts. Thankfully, power is usually restored pretty quickly. However, if you suffer an extended  power cut the numbers to remember for food safety are 2 hours and 5°C. Fresh food left at above 5°C for 2 hours may spoil and in the most severe cases may lead to food poisoning. Also see guidance on refrigerated food and power outages and frozen food and power outages and check out our blog on Modern Emergency Food Storage which is ideal as preparedness measures. But enough about food! In this heat you’ll probably focus less on food but simply on how to cope in hot weather (and hopefully won’t get stuck in elevators or worse!). Dehydration symptoms can quickly sneak up on you so be aware and drink plenty of cool water even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Drinking plenty of water keeps your system going but you may still find you’re feeling uncomfortably hot, especially if like all of us you want to or have to keep active. So here is a quick cheeky fix, a bit of personal preparedness on the fly on how to stay cool

Be cool – stay cool! #prepared  🙂

Monika     .. and heatwave preparedness is for pets too:

 

 

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The Guardian 21June2017 UK heatwave brings hottest June day for 40 years

Heatwave – how to stay cool

Wow. It’s 7.45 am and the thermometer in my office is already at 28°C/83°F.
No doubt we will get to live the predicted #HeatWave in a big way today.

Listening to BBC radio two over breakfast earlier made me chuckle at some of the suggestions on how to stay cool. Putting your shoes in the freezer may not be the best way to go about it.

But what do you do, especially if you’re either running around in a scorching city as I’ll have to later or stuck in a hot office as I am now? And no, no air conditioning here in case you’re wondering. Not because our building is old. Rather it’s part of a new and ‘green’ development designed with good insulation and air flow, the balance of which today will not meet my personal sense of comfortable environment.

Well to begin with, ’running’ around is certainly out. So, dropping the usually fast city pace will be the first thing to remember and do …. starting with typing slower 😉 – keeps my sanity and that of others.

Then there are the usual heatwave preparedness tips like

  • stay in the shade
  • drink plenty of water
  • wear light and loose fitting clothes, a sun hat and apply sun protection
  • move to the coolest room and open windows only when the outside temperature is cooler than inside

However, there is one additional tip I’d like to share with you, pinched a couple of years ago from some savvy New Yorkers during one of their severe heatwaves.

Get a watertight ziploc bag and partially fill it with crushed ice

source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4a/97/f3/4a97f3d13ce8031523189dcd0742db4e.jpgEasily fits in your handbag or satchel and can be emptied/refilled as needed without much hassle. For instant cool, put it on your neck or chest, even under your feet and the crooks of your elbows.

Back when in New York that worked pretty well as lots of Deli’s have crushed ice machines. I guess I will find out just how well that method works today in London. I might pack a small rolling pin just case 😉

Oh, and if you’re at home, frozen peas work great too and you can refreeze them. Just don’t eat them!!

And finally, what am I doing at 07.45h at the office? Lots of very exciting things are in development here for Emergency Preparedness as we have just started a collaboration with the largest county in the United Kingdom.

I can’t wait to tell you more about their pilot project. I hugely look forward to showing you the amazing work they are doing for community resilience which may serve as an excellent model for all of us. But more later, I’ve got to run  – or rather NOT!

Wishing you a COOL day!

Keep an eye on your thermometer and weather app. Enjoy your ice teas and ice creams!

Monika

Also of interest: Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness


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Preparedness for Power Cuts, Brownouts and Blackouts

updated 09/10/2017

Power failures are common in the wake of storms (BBC) and disasters, man-made or natural; for example floods (Telegraph) and drought (Brazil dries up and blacks out, 2015, Bloomberg) even UK mini heatwaves (Ashbourne News Telegraph). Also see South Australia’s Blackout explained (09/2016 black start)

Power outages can also occur without warning because of faults or accidents.

You may need to shelter-in-place and wait it out or you may have to evacuate (Feb 2015: Liverpool One John Lewis evacuated after power cut as restaurants unable to serve food, Liverpool Echo)

 

Power cuts are predicted to become more frequent, not only causing damage to the economy ($180 billion in the USA) but also affect transport, security and health (Lincoln University). Concerns and discussions on the UK energy safety gap are ongoing (Guardian).

2003 – a memorable year for spectacular power cuts

Looking back, 2003 was a particularly eventful year. In the US and Canada 55 million people were affected during the Great Northeast Blackout, 14th August 2003:   Fortunately, most power cuts last only minutes, but even such short durations can have a substantial impact on you personally as well as business. The London Blackout (28 August 2003) lasted just 34 minutes (BBC) during which  

        • 400 calls were taken by the London Fire Brigade
        • 100 rescues were made
        • all main rail services stopped in London and the South East
        • 60% of London Underground was affected

 If not stranded in lifts or underground, thousands of Londoners and visitors either took to the rain soaked streets or found shelter in candle lit pubs and restaurants. Outages not only happen in summer. They happen every day (DNO live twitter list) and can affect everyone. Most spectacularly and recently again London:

 

What is a Brownout? What to do during a Brownout

source: http://m.epandl.com/0_0_0_0_295_273_csupload_46955312.jpg?u=3094454775Brownouts, the opposite of a power surge, refer to a drop in voltage that can last for minutes or hours. Brownouts  commonly occur either by accident or intentional, for example, when used for emergency load reduction to avert a full blown a blackout.     Common signs of a brownout are      

                • flickering lights
                • rapid switching on/off of appliances
                • sudden computer and internet failure

 Usually harmless, brownouts nevertheless can damage your equipment so when you notice rapidly flickering lights, act immediately and unplug your computers, routers, TV, devices being charged, all appliances etc. During a Brownout, as soon as you notice fluctuations (i.e. when the lights start flickering badly)  

            • switch off and unplug computers, TVs, printers, routers, mobile phones, tablets or any other devices that are plugged in and/or charging
            • reduce your power consumption: switch off anything you do not need
            • be ready for a blackout in case your supply fails to stabilise source: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71610000/jpg/_71610198_71610193.jpg

 

Preparedness for a Power Cut – follow these 10 top tips

Know your supplier and how to contact them. Suppliers often host a live power outage map and provide information and support also on twitter. The new emergency number for power cuts is 105 see guidance from your supplier; i.e. UK Power Networks’ Domestic and Business

          • make a checklist/map of all your electrical items that need turning OFF in case of a power cut
          • if you use crucial medical equipment requiring electricity, put yourself on your suppliers priority register
          • alternative communications: keep a plug-in cord telephone for emergencies that does not need electricity; stock spare batteries and power packs for mobile devices
          • alternative power: ranges from power generators to UPS devices (~ 1 hour), batteries and hand-crank or solar operated devices; more see generators

 

What to do during a Power Cut – NEW! CALL 105*

Is it just you? Check your fuse box to see if any have tripped – there could be a problem with your property’s wiring and you may need to call an electrician. If your neighbor is also affected, then call your local distribution company to find out if it’s a network problem. Normally, power cuts are locally or regionally based

          • switch OFF all appliances and equipment that may have been in use before the interrupt
          • leave one light switched on to know when the power is restored
          • secure your property; bells and alarms may not work during the outage (manual warning)

 

What to do when Power is restored

          • check all your equipment and appliances
          • only gradually turn your equipment and appliances back on, keeping an eye on possible fluctuations
          • check and and reset all timer switches; i.e. water heating, gas or oil central heating systems, electric clocks

Additional useful resources to understand what happens, the consequences of power cuts and what you must plan and prepare for and how to prepare for and cope with power outages:

      • list of major power outages wiki
      • electric safety HSE
      • will your landline work during a power cut? Ofcom

 Be prepared, not scared. Have a good week.

Monika | @MonikaAlMufti 

This page is also accessed by bit.ly/powercutUK   thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

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More Extreme Weather – heatwave at Australia Open, arctic deep freeze in the US, continued floods in the UK

Dancevic is treated in the extreme heat of Melbourne Park / source http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/14/tennis-player-sees-snoopy-on-court-and-then-collapses-at-australian-open-4262584/

Dancevic is treated in the extreme heat of Melbourne Park; source http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/14/

There I thought I was done talking about crazy weather for a while – not so! Extreme weather events seem to come hard and fast as we head into this new year.

While the UK flooded and the US froze, Argentina baked but ‘heat’ seemed to have slipped the limelight until the Australian Open was disrupted by record breaking temperatures.

On Monday, the average maximum temperature across the country reached a new record of 40.33C. Forecasting that temperatures might reach 54C the Bureau of Meteorology added two new shades of purple to the top of their temperature scale map, New Scientist reported. Thankfully, those predictions were not borne out; else the country would have had to deal with a lot worse than ‘just’ thousands of tennis fans suffering heat exhaustion, as a local newspaper said. As it was, it was bad enough: large numbers of EMS had to be mobilized to respond to heat-related injuries (see heatstroke info i.e. SJA). Heart attacks surged by 300%. Authorities expected an increase of 50% in mortalities caused by the extreme heat mainly affecting the vulnerable (the elderly, infirm and children). The Guardian reported: ‘Australian heat waves are getting hotter and longer says the Climate Council’.

Not a great start to 2014… however, we cannot take these events to simply predict what this summer might bring for us in the UK. We can only remember our own heat waves, how they have affected us in the past and prepare to stay cool. So, here is some context:

– the highest recorded UK temperature was 38.5C on 10/08/2003 Faversham Kent (METoffice); this is only marginally different from Australia’s record last week. Somehow I don’t think here in the UK we’re as adapted and resilient (yet) to heat as the Aussies are, although that is of course a matter of personal tolerance.

– the most recent heat wave (19 days) was last year in July 2013, 33.5C recorded in west London. On 18 July, the Telegraph reports London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine figures that the first 9 days of the heat wave had caused up to an additional 760 deaths. The heat wave ended on 23 July with heavy thunderstorms, bringing flooding and lightning strikes that caused transport disruption, power cuts and fires. One week later temperatures rose again, recording the warmest August temperature since 2003.

Let us hope for a perfectly ‘average’ spring.

Find out more about how to be prepared for a heatwave.

And of interest might be the standardised physiological heat tolerance test (HTT) which evaluates athletes’ tolerance to exercising in the heat. It differentiates between a temporary and permanent state of heat susceptibility (Journal Sport Rehabil. 2007 Aug;16(3):215-21.) HTT is also used by some armed forces to test the heat tolerance of their personnel.

Monika

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!


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