Saturday, September 3, 2011

Three must-read books to help you prepare your family for disaster

We all know we should be better prepared for a disaster, but once we've put together our "disaster kit" and know how to switch off the gas supply, what comes next? Well these three books will help you take the next step in three different ways - through understanding the psychology of disaster survival, through a highly practical guide to disaster organization, and through understanding how you can make your life more self-sufficient - and thus more robust.

1. The Unthinkable - Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why. This book sets the stage for your whole approach to disasters and reveals some of the basic instincts that can affect your chances of survival. Through a series of stories, and interviews with experts in neurology and psychology, it gives you an understanding of what your brain thinks you need to do, what you really need to do, and how two switch from the former to the latter in a disaster (for example, our natural instinct is to freeze and look to see what others are doing,  rather than to lead and take action). Very readable and very helpful.

2. Organize for Disaster: Prepare your Family and your Home for Any Natural or Unnatural Disaster. This highly practical book written by a professional organizer is packed with useful tips on everything from where to keep your documents, preparing your house for disaster, what food supplies to have in and how to evacuate safely. For those who like checklists, the appendix has a pack of templates for things like a family communications plan and a home inventory.

3. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Lead it. This book is to prepare you for the really big disasters - e.g. the ones that might knock out your power for months, or change our very way of life. But the gem of this book is in both dusting off some of the pearls of wisdom built up over generations (how to grow potatoes in a small space in your yard) and in some really innovative things that come from an author that has been doing this kind of thing all his life (like how to build an outdoor toilet that also makes compost!). Whether you want to set up a 1-acre farm or just learn how to grow a few vegetables on your deck, this nicely illustrated book is the one to go for.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Katia Resources

Here are some resources for tracking Hurricane Katia. I will keep this page updated as the storm develops. Please also check out the dashboard and resources tabs on this site for more resources.

For those in the path of Katia, you can get official general forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, and local information from the NWS Hurricane Local Statements. You can also find twitter feeds of your local emergency management officials on the excellent Map of reliable twitter feeds which was originally set up for Hurricane Irene. General preparation advice can be found on the FEMA blog.

Check out this book and this book to help you prepare for the next disaster!

Tracking tools and general information sources
National Hurricane Center - official watches, warnings, advisories, probability cones, etc
Hurricane Local Statements - for specific areas
Stormpulse - Hurricane Katia - high quality maps and tracking tools
Weather Underground Katia Tracking Page - nice tracking resources Irene Tracking Page
VueToo Katia Situation Page - multiple concurrent maps of Katia's status
FEMA blog (weather updates) - updates and preparation information.
Hurricane Katia Wikipedia Page
Central Florida Hurricane Center (aggregates information relating to Florida)
Tampa Bay Online Hurricane Guide - with local resources for Florida
Florida Sun-Sentinel Hurricane Page

Social media tools
Google News on Irene- hits for Katia on Google News
Irene Twitter/Weather Map - shows radar image plus markers linking to twitter hashtags for locations
Map of reliable twitter feeds - shows feeds of local emergency management agencies, etc (originally for Irene)
Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker - blog with updates and discussion
ESRI Tweet Map - map with hurricane track and tweets
Red Cross Shelters on map

Other tools and information
Hurricane Watch Net - streaming audio during active events
Radio Reference Wiki Major Events - radio frequencies and such like for major disasters (should they happen)