A technical difficulty caused me to miss getting this article in on time for the paper last week. It’s the final week of the National Preparedness Month and time for the National Day of Action or the National PrepareAthon Day. This will happen on Friday, Sept. 30 and it is the day to test your preparedness. There are seven major hazards that are focused on for the National PrepareAthon. They are Earthquake, Flood, Hurricane, Tornado, Wildfire, Winter Storm and the newest hazard, Active Shooter. Several of these hazards will make you wonder why I am writing about them. It is possible that you may be traveling and go right through or into an area that is experiencing one of these hazards and not know it. I plan on going over each one and I will explain why they all could be important to you. This may take a couple weeks due to the limited space I have to write. The first one will be an earthquake and how to prepare for one. This will be the first one you will scratch your head and ask “how could this affect me”?

Not that far south of us is the New Madrid Fault Line and in 1811 it accounted for a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. This fault line runs from Illinois to Mississippi along the Mississippi River. In relative terms, that is not far from us and although we may not see a direct impact, it would cause a regionalized disaster. As of this writing the last Midwest earthquake was Sept. 20 in Anthony, Kansas and it was a 3.9 magnitude. An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock, as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. Initial mild shaking may strengthen and become extremely violent within seconds. Additional earthquakes, called aftershocks, may occur for hours, days or even months. Most are smaller than the initial earthquake, but larger magnitude aftershocks also occur. Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning. All U.S. states and territories are at some risk for earthquakes. The risk is higher in identified seismic zones. Larger earthquakes may cause deaths, injuries and extensive property damage. Most casualties and injuries during an earthquake, occur when people fall while trying to walk or run during the shaking; when they are hit by falling, flying or sliding household items or non-structural debris; and/or when they are struck or trapped by collapsing walls or other parts of the building. Transportation, power, water, gas and other services may be disrupted. In some areas, shaking can cause liquefaction— when the ground acts more like a liquid. When this happens the ground can no longer support the weight of a building. In coastal areas, earthquakes under the sea floor can cause tsunamis. Take action now before an earthquake hits. Secure items that might fall and cause injuries (e.g., bookshelves, mirrors, light fixtures). Practice how to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Store critical supplies and documents away safely. Plan how you will communicate with family members. As soon as you feel the shaking, DROP down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. COVER your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris. If you are in danger from falling objects and you can move safely; crawl to a safer place or seek cover (e.g., under a desk or table). HOLD ON to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops. When the shaking stops, before you move, look around for things that might fall or for dangerous debris on the ground. If you are in a damaged building and there is a safe way out through the debris, leave and go to an open space outside, away from damaged areas. If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. If you have a cell phone with you, use it to call or text for help. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle (if you have one) so that rescuers can locate you. Once safe, monitor local news reports (e.g., radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts), for emergency information and instructions. Remember that at this time your “go kits” will become very important and must be easily accessible.

Next will be a flood, it has been a long time since we have seen a major flood in the Stateline area. Many of the older residents in the area can tell you stories of Turtle Creek and the Rock River going way over their banks and flooding large portions of Shopiere, Tiffany and the city of Beloit. Also hundreds of acres of crop fields became lakes and you could find fish a long way from their original hangouts. The worse flood was in April of 1973 but a serious threat did occur in June 2008. Flooding is an overflowing of water, onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. The Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water; such as a river, stream, culvert, or downstream from a dam or levee.  Flooding can occur in several ways, including the following: rivers and lakes cannot contain excessive rain or snowmelt. Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground. Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow. The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly. Flooding can occur slowly as rain continues to fall for many days. This type of flooding, sometimes called a slow-onset flood, can take a week to develop and can last for months before flood waters recede. Rapid-onset floods occur more quickly, typically developing within hours or days. These types of floods usually occur in smaller watersheds experiencing heavy rainfall and the water usually recedes within a few days. Some rapid-onset floods known as flash floods occur very quickly with little or no warning, such as during periods of extremely heavy rain or when levees, dams, ice jams, or water systems break. Densely populated areas are at a high risk for flash floods. In urban areas, flash floods can fill underpasses, viaducts, parking structures, low roads, and basements. The physical destruction caused by flooding depends on the speed and level of the water, the duration of the flood, terrain and soil conditions, and the built environment (e.g., buildings, roads, and bridges). Flooding can cause fatalities and serious injuries for people who are trapped or swept away by wading in, driving through, or boating across flood waters. Transportation routes, power, water, gas, and other services may be disrupted. Commercial supplies and government support systems may be temporarily unavailable. Drinking water supplies and wells may become polluted. Flood waters can cause erosion, which can damage roads, bridge structures, levees, and buildings with weak foundations, causing their collapse without warning. The flood waters may carry the worn-away mud, rocks, and other sediment. – Landslides and mudslides can occur. – Even a few inches of flood water in a home can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Hopefully you ran a drill on the National PrepareAthon Day Sept. 30. Next week starts Fire Prevention Week and everyone knows that then “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Until next week, stay safe!

Chief Rindfleisch