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Disaster Preparedness

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Drought

– Almost every part of America experiences times of reduced rainfall. With proper planning and simple practices, we can enjoy the benefits of our rainier months and years, and make the times of drought a bit easier:

 

BEFORE:

Don’t Waste Water – If there’s another use for your water, be sure to use it. For example, if you have some water left over in your glass after a meal, use that water to water your plants.

Repair Dripping Faucets – Did you know that a single drip every second can cause a faucet to leak over 2,700 gallons of water per year? A simple fix it to replace the washer in the spout of your faucet, to close any gaps you may have.

Double Check Plumbing – Silent and always going, plumbing can be a major waste of water if there is a leak or a crack, which will continue to leak large amounts of water day and night.

Harvest Rainwater- If possible, a great source of clean and filtered water is directly out of the sky. Preparing for a drought by using water that literally falls out of the sky makes it much easier on your communities' irrigation systems.

Check Sprinkler Systems – Not only for leaks, but for timing and direction. Make sure your sprinkler systems aren’t on for an excessive amount of time, and make sure that all water actually hits grass and plants, and doesn’t become wasted on concrete areas.

DURING:

Avoid Flushing – Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of all tissues, insects, and other materials using the garbage rather than the toilet.

Avoid Taking Baths – Take quick showers, and only use them to get wet, lather and clean, and then to rinse off. Don’t spend excess time letting water go down the drain.

Turn the Water On and Off As Needed – For example: While brushing teeth. There’s no need to let the water run continuously while you brush your teeth. Turn it off when you are in the process of brushing, and back on to rinse your toothbrush and mouth out. This one practice adds up to 1,000’s of gallons at the end of every year.

Use Sprinklers Sparingly – During most months of the year, grass only needs 1 inch of water per week. If there is a major rainfall, you can shut the sprinklers off all together until the next week.

 

Extreme Heat

- Heat can actually be a deadly thing – by taking your body past it’s limit by asking it to run properly while dehydrated, and by causing overheating which a separate but equally dangerous issue.

 

BEFORE:

Build, and Communicate - Build an Emergency Kit, and make a Family Communications Plan Double-Check Insulation and Installation - Insulate correctly to guard against leaking air conditioning, and make sure air conditioners are installed and sealed correctly to prevent leakage.

Weather-Stripping - Use “weather-strips” to fill the gaps at the bottom of doors to keep cool air inside.

Cover up - Cover windows that get Morning or Afternoon Sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or even sheets and blankets. These types of coverings can lessen the heat entering a home by up to 80%.

Listen Up – Keep your ears on local radio and TV stations, which will go over when heat spikes are and how long they are expected to remain.

 

DURING:

Stay With Them - NEVER leave the elderly or pets alone in a closed vehicle, ever. “Cracking the Windows” is not enough to prevent overheating.

Stay In - Stay Indoors as much as possible, not only to limit exposure, but to prevent needless waste of Air conditioning being leaked outside.

Drink It Up – Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel particularly thirsty. Evaporation through skin can happen faster than you may think, and faster than your body has the ability to even recognize it’s thirsty. Stay hydrated, always.

Cover Up – Protect face and skin with hats, sunblock, and cover-ups.

 

Earthquakes

– Earthquakes are sudden and unexpected shaking or ‘rolling’ events caused by movement under the earth’s surface. Fault lines, or cracks in the earth’s surface are the cause, when pressure is placed between the two parts of the cracks, the resulting energy becomes an Earthquake. Most last less than one minute, but some can effect hundreds, even thousands of miles of land. All 50 U.S. States are labeled as “at risk” for Earthquake activity.

BEFORE:

Practice - Best advice is “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” - Which basically means to get on your hands and knees, and grab onto a stable, sturdy structure.

Secure Things Down – Before an earthquake occurs, secure any lose or dangerous items that could cause injuries – mirrors, light fixtures, glass (if possible), and bookshelves are a popular focus.

Store the Important Things – Important items such as medications, water, and other survival gear should have a safe location that everyone is familiar with so the items can be retrieved should the Earthquake be very destructive

Plan To Talk – Make a plan for communication strategies, including multiple methods for you and your loved ones to let each other know you are safe.

 

DURING:

Stay Still - Stay exactly where you are until shaking stops. Falling debris is one of the number one causes of injury during an earthquake.

Cover Up – Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris. If you are in danger of having items fall on your, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.

 

Floods

– Floods are among the most common hazards for those living in the United States. However, there are many different types of floods. Some are slower to develop and thus easier to manage, while others are considered ‘flash floods’ which can develop in minutes and cause serious damage to unaware or unprepared people and their homes. Also, floods can target very specific locations, like a neighborhood or community, while other floods can effect entire regions and multiple states.

The causes of flash floods can range from excessive rain, levee failure, failure of a working dam, or an ice jam breaking lose, releasing a sudden mass of water. Most flash floods have a ‘front’, or a wall of water at their front that usually carries debris, rocks, mud and more.

 

BEFORE:

Build a Kit – Create a kit that can help your family in the situation of flooding, which can occur anywhere. Also, create a family communications plan.

Elevate – Elevate your furnace, water heater, and your electric panel of your home if you are in a particularly high flood risk area.

Check Valves – Install “check valves” to help prevent water from backing up into the drains of your home, including your toilet bowl. These prevent backwards flow of water.

 

DURING:

Listen Up – Listen to the radio or television for localized information.

Move Up – Head directly to higher ground if possible.

Secure You Home – Bring in outdoor furniture that may be dangerous when moving around, and move essential items to upper floors if possible.

Turn Off Utilities – If instructed by emergency personnel or TV/Radio announcement, turn off main switches or valves. Unplug electrical appliances of all sizes, and do not touch or plug in electrical equipment if wet or standing in water.

 

Hurricanes

–  Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone and/or a severe tropical storm that can form over bodies of water, such as the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season being from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15th and ends November 30th.

Hurricanes have the ability to create catastrophic damage to coastline areas and also heavily effects and can damage areas that are several hundred miles inland. A hurricane can produce winds in excess of 155 miles per hour as well smaller tornadoes and things called ‘microbursts’.

Storm surges are also a possibility, which is when heavy rainfall and heavy winds make it so water doesn’t have the ability to drain, which causes serious flooding in coastal areas that are not used to dealing with heavy waters.

 

BEFORE:

Built it – Building a “Hurricane Kit” is a big help in this type of scenario, as you never know when you may have to evacuate your area, and if you everything packed already, you can focus on other things.

How High are you? - Take a special interest in the elevation of your home and find out if your area is flood-prone.

Where are They? – Make sure to find if there are any dams or levees in your area to determine if one of them malfunctioning would be a danger to you.

Let’s Leave – Find your community hurricane evacuation route and figure out how you can get to higher ground in as short of a time as possible. Determine exactly where you would go if you and your loved ones are separated and try to determine how you would get there.

Cover Up – Covering your homes windows is the best way to protect them. If you have storm shutters, use them. A second option is to board up your windows with a 5/8” exterior or marine grade plywood. Tape DOES NOT prevent windows from breaking, it prevents the shards from flying around. This is a common misconception.

Gut em - Clean out all gutters and downspouts before the storm to make your home more ready to deal with heavy rains.

Clear it Off – Make sure all outdoor furniture is stored inside, decorations are considered, and garbage cans are secured.

 

DURING:

Tune In – Keep your eyes and ears on local TV and radio for emergency announcements.

Shut it Off – Make sure to turn off propane tanks, especially if they are outside.

Fill Up - Fill your bathtub with water. This gives you a reserve of water for cleaning, flushing toilets etc, which can be vital if there is a difficulty getting sanitary water from the spout after heavy rains, or if power goes out and makes getting water difficult.

Stay Away – Be sure to steer clear of windows and other areas that outside winds can cause harm to you. Glass doors are also a concern.

 

Tornados

- Tornados are the most violent storms that nature makes. Actually created from powerful thunderstorms, tornados cause deaths and devastate entire neighborhoods in seconds. Tornados show themselves as a funnel-shaped rotating cloud extending from a thunderstorm cloud and has whirling winds that can reach over 300 MPH. The most dangerous factors about tornados is that they are very difficult to predict, and can form in seconds, leaving VERY little preparation time.

 

BEFORE:

Plan Away – Make sure you and your family are clear as to where you want to take shelter in the event of a tornado.

Listen Up – Keep your ears open for sirens, and other distress calls that the authorities around your residence may use.

 

DURING:

Take Cover – If you are caught in a Tornado (which happens very often with Tornados) seek shelter immediately! Most injuries that come from tornados are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head at all times.

If you are in:

A Structure: Go to a pre-designated area like a safe room, storm cellar, a safe room, or the lowest building level available. Stay away from all windows and glass and put as many walls between yourself and the storm as possible. Get under a strong table and protect your head and neck with your arms.

A Non-secured or manufactured home or office: Get out immediately and go to a location that is structured and anchored. Mobile homes, even if tied down, are simply not a reliable place to take shelter during a tornado.

Outside with No shelter: There is no clear, decisive recommendations for how to deal with having zero shelter in a tornado situation. Avoid bridges and overpasses, you are safe in a wide open plain. Suggestions are to get into a vehicle, buckle the seatbelt and either try to drive to a safe area or duck your head down and cover your neck and head with a blanket, coat, or other cushion.

 

Tsunami

- Seismic Sea Waves (More commonly known as Tsunamis) are a series of enormous waves that are created by underwater disturbances like landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and sometimes meteorites. Tsunami waves can reach over 100 feet tall and they can move hundreds of miles per hour.

Most of the U.S. Coastline has some sort of vulnerability to Tsunamis, as their activity can be difficult to predict. Most often it is earthquakes occurring underwater, which creates waves that go out in all directions from its original disturbance point. The waves are also usually consecutive, meaning that a second or third wave of a Tsunami is usually larger than the first.

 

BEFORE:

Build It – Get a kit together (I’m sure you’ve seen that advice somewhere before!) for your family so you can have vital supplies in a centralized location and plan a family communications plan.

Find Out – Learn the height of your street above sea level and the distance of your street from the coast or other high-risk waterways. Sometimes evacuation orders that are sent via TV or Radio are based on these numbers, and many people do not find them out beforehand, leading to confusion.

Route It – Learn your communities' emergency evacuation routes, and make sure your whole family knows and understands them as well. Include your pets in this plan as well.

 

DURING:

Move On In – Move inland to higher ground immediately. Try to find areas 100 feet above sea level or go as far as 2 miles inland, away from coastlines in all directions.

Ditch It – Keep in mind, Tsunamis are EXTREMELY dangerous, so do not worry about your possessions. Focus on getting family, friends and neighbors to safety.

 

Wildfires

- Wildfires are usually caused by lightning or human accidents. They spread quickly, by burning up dried bushes, brushes, trees, and people homes alike. Those that are looking for a ‘rural experience’ by building their homes in the middle of very wooded lands have to be concerned with the possibility that at any moment, and very quickly, their home can be surrounded by flames resulting from a forest fire.

 

BEFORE:

Prep It – Preparing for a wildfire situation can go a very long way in ensuring your safety, giving you more control than you usually have in the event of most natural disasters. If you landscape and design your home with a wildfire possibility in mind, it can help your home remain safe.

Insulate It – You can also use advance insulation chemicals around your home that will make the outside fire-resistant. This is perfect for decking, trim, siding, and roofs.

Clean It – Stay up on the maintenance of your chimney. Clean it twice a year and install a spark arrester that meets the prerequisites of the National Fire Protection Association.

Teach It – Go over how to use a fire extinguisher with everyone in your family, regardless of age.

 

DURING:

Find a Place – Arrange temporary housing at a family members or friends home outside of the threatened area, and try to get there if you can safely.

Ear to the Ground – Keep paying attention to the local TV and radio broadcasts for updates, or maybe even calls for evacuation.

Close All Openings – Be sure to close doors, windows, vents, attic holes, etc. to make sure there is no significant airflow from the outside to inside of your home, to help keep the flames from being drawn inside of your home.

Load Up – Put all Valuables and important possessions inside of your car, and make sure that there is adequate seating for your loved ones in case that authorities ask you to evacuate.

Light it Up – turn on all outside lights and at least one light in every room to make all parts of your home more visible through thick and black smoke.

 

Severe Cold Weather and Winter Storms

- Winter Storms are a major consideration for most places in the United States and depending on your location your concerns can range from slight road covering of snow and ice, to strong, multi-day blizzard with whiteout conditions. One of the major concerns for snowstorms is that they are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and strong winds, icing, sleet, and freezing rain. This can all do serious damage to infrastructure like heat, power, and communication services. And because of the difficulty to work with this type of weather, when these utilities go down, they are usually down for several days.

The two major causes of deaths during these types of storms are deaths via automobile accidents from driving around with icy conditions, and hypothermia from people who are exposed to the elements too much. It’s important to prepare yourself for this type of situation beforehand, since there is a vulnerability for the winter weather to effect things like the ability to move, communicate, or get running water.

 

BEFORE:

Pack It – Make an emergency kit that can contain: Rock salt, Sand (for traction on the road), Snow Shovels, Gloves, Adequate clothing, and blankets.

Talk It Out – Be sure to make a Family Communications Plan. It’s important to know how to contact one another if something happens where parts of your family are separated, as well as a place to meet up should an emergency strike suddenly.

Stay Put – Do NOT travel unless ABSOLUTELY vital, and even then, be sure to keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle at all times.

 

DURING:

Relax – It’s important to avoid overexertion during a snowstorm, as many people will try to shovel and do physical work while snowfall is happening to lighten the load of work that is to come afterwards. But heart attacks and injuries that occur during these types of activities are some of the most common ways people get hurt during this type of weather.

Conserve It – Fuel for heating your home can become very sparse should travel become impossible for a long period of time, so it’s important to not spend it recklessly. Keep your family and loved one warm, but try to ration the fuel you have so that it can last as long as possible.

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