December Hazard: Winter Storms

December is the traditional start of winter, and past years have shown that this month is no stranger to seasonal severe weather. One of the worst ice storms in northeastern Oklahoma occurred in December 2007, with difficult travel conditions, downed trees and powerlines, and long-term power outages. The 2009 Christmas Eve Blizzard and Winter Storm brought to Tulsa County our first blizzard warning. Given that it is also a holiday season, many people are on the roads, potentially at risk. Are you ready?

A severe winter storm is one that drops more than two inches of snow or a quarter inch of ice. Winter weather is a tough forecast. If the temperature stays 39 F or less in the atmosphere or above, snow tends to occur. If temperature anywhere in the column of sky above exceeds 39 F, the snow melts. Then this could be rain, sleet, or glaze depending on the temperature near the ground.

An ice storm occurs when freezing rain falls and freezes immediately upon contact. Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers. Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.

What to do?

Home and Work

Your primary concerns at home or work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. Review your emergency plans and the supplies in your emergency kit. The National Weather Service recommends that you should have available a flashlight and extra batteries; a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information; extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration; extra prescription medicine; first-aid supplies; baby items such as diaper and formula; and adequate shelter and extra food for your pets.

Home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are common each winter. Be sure any alternate heat source such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater is properly vented to prevent a fire. Never use a gas cooking stove or any outside heater or cooking equipment inside the home, to avoid fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Never run a generator in an enclosed space or inside your home. Make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

On the Road

If you need to drive in snow or cold conditions, TAKE IT SLOW IN THE SNOW. Black ice can be difficult to see. If the temperature is near freezing, drive like you’re on ice–you may be!

Before you leave the house, especially before a longer trip in winter, make sure all fluid levels are full and ensure that the lights, heater, and windshield wipers in proper condition. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes. Then call 511 for the latest traffic and road incidents, including construction and weather conditions and restrictions. Every state offers this Department of Transportation service. Call before you leave, it might change your plans! Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins. Carry a Winter Storm Survival Kit with blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, high-calorie / non-perishable food and other supplies.

A complete list of items for a Winter Storm Survival Kit and other recommendations about what to do before, during and after winter weather can be found at the National Weather Service website: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/ . Tulsa County / City of Tulsa residents can also download the Tulsa Ready App: http://readydl.com/tulsa-ready. In addition to providing emergency warnings and assisting with the development of emergency plans, the Tulsa Ready App has an information guide on winter preparedness.

The Disaster Resilience Network is providing these hazards of the month in conjunction with the City of Tulsa’s Storm Water Drainage and Hazard Mitigation Advisory Board. These hazards are identified in the 2014 City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. This month’s information was compiled from the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, the National Weather Service and the Tulsa County Health Department.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

December Key Message: You Can Protect Your Property From Flooding

You can protect your property from flooding!

Flooding can happen anywhere in Tulsa. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live or work in a low-lying area near a river, stream, or culvert, downstream from a dam or near a levee. Per the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), more than 25 percent of all flood claims each year come from properties outside of areas at high-risk for flooding. You can protect your property from flooding by being aware of your property’s risk and by improving some of the flood-prone parts of your property.

Learn if you live or work in an area that is prone to flooding. To help communities understand their risk of flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) creates flood maps (Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) to show the locations of high-risk, moderate-to-low risk and undetermined risk areas. To check your flood risk, enter your address at this FEMA website https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search or see the City of Tulsa Floodplain Map Atlas. Contact Tulsa’s Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or at (918) 596-7777 to request a Flood Zone Determination.

Protect your property and manage your risk. Take these steps to protect your property from flood damage:

– Purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is available for all homeowners, renters, and business owners within the City of Tulsa. Typical insurance policies do not cover flood losses, so you will need to purchase separate flood insurance if your property is at risk for flooding. Visit Floodsmart.gov for an estimate of what flood insurance may cost for your property. A policy purchased today will take effect in 30 days, so act now.

– Elevate the heating/cooling system (furnace/air conditioner), water heater and electric panel if the current location is susceptible to flooding.

– Install “check valves” in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains.

– Seal foundation cracks and waterproof the basement with waterproofing compounds.

– Install sump pumps with battery backup.

– Stockpile emergency building materials (e.g., plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber nails, a hammer and saw, a pry bar, shovels, and sandbags) to construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your property.

– In areas with repetitive flooding, consider elevating or relocating the building.

– Keep gutters and drains free of debris and check your foundation to ensure that the landscaping slopes away from the building.

For questions about flood-resistant construction or flood insurance, request to speak to a Certified Floodplain Manager at the City of Tulsa by calling Tulsa’s Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or at (918) 596-7777

In partnership with the City of Tulsa, the Disaster Resilience Network shares these monthly key messages from the Program for Public Information (PPI) as part of the National Flood Insurance Program – Community Rating System. This outreach assists our community in keeping low flood insurance rates. Tulsa property owners and renters are eligible to receive up to a 40 percent discount on flood insurance rates.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

November: Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are chemical substances that, if released or misused, can pose a threat to the environment or human health. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. These substances are often released as a result of chemical accidents at plant sites, from structure fires, or transportation accidents. (Definition from 2014 City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.)

Hazardous materials, for regulatory purposes, are divided into two general categories: fixed sites, and transportation.

Fixed sites (Tier II) include buildings or property where hazardous materials are manufactured or stored, and are regulated nationally under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in Oklahoma by the Department of Environmental Quality. The federal government has established detailed systems for keeping track of Tier II hazardous materials sites. The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 defines a Tier II site as any location that has, for any 24 hour period, either 1) specified threshold amounts of defined Extremely Hazardous Substances, or 2) any other substance requiring a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for amounts greater than 10,000 pounds.

Those who live near these hazardous materials sites are vulnerable, but specifically those with mobility or severe health issues that would limit their ability to evacuate quickly, those who speak a language other than English, limiting their ability to receive warning messages, and the homeless who may not receive warnings in a timely fashion.

Transportation of hazardous materials includes the use of aviation, highway, railroad, pipeline, and marine systems to convey movement of objects and people. When in transport, hazardous materials are characterized by nine separate classes of hazards: 1) explosives, 2) gases, 3) flammable liquids, 4) flammable solids, 5) oxidizers and organic peroxides, 6) toxics, 7) radioactive materials, 8) corrosive materials, and 9) miscellaneous dangerous goods. By far the greatest percentage of any hazard shipment (72%) falls under the flammable liquids category. (Definition from 2014 City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.) Transportation of hazardous materials is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, 49 CFR 119 for natural and other gases transported by pipeline, and 49 CFR 195 for liquids transported by pipeline. For intrastate commerce, the transportation of hazardous materials is regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Anyone who lives near one of these transportation corridors is vulnerable.

Resources: There is a local emergency planning committee in each county whose role is to work together to develop plans to educate, communicate, and protect our local community in case of a chemical release. The Tulsa County Local Emergency Planning Committee (TCLEPC) is composed of police and fire emergency response personnel, industry and environmental representatives, news media, and interested citizens of Tulsa County. For more information, visit their website at this link. You can also call their 24 hour message line at 918-596-2033 or email them at taema@tulsacounty.org.

To report a spill, first call 911. Other numbers to contact would be Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Hotline: 1-800-522-0206, and the Environmental Protection Agency National Reporting Center: 1-800-424-8802.

The Disaster Resilience Network is providing these hazards of the month in conjunction with the City of Tulsa’s Storm Water Drainage and Hazard Mitigation Advisory Board. These hazards are identified in the 2014 City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

November Key Message: Protect Your Business

#NovemberKeyMessage – Have a plan to protect your business from flooding or other disasters.

All businesses need to have a plan to continue operations in case of a disruption, such as in the case of a flood, ice storm, or power outage. When disasters strike, small businesses are uniquely vulnerable, and at least 25 percent of businesses that close after such events never reopen. Having a business continuity plan can make all the difference. For more information and access to numerous resources, visit the DRN Disaster Resilient Business Council webpage or the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety .

Commercial Coverage for Flood Insurance: From 2010 to 2014, the average commercial flood claim amounted to nearly $89,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect you from devastating financial loss. Take the first step in researching flood insurance by determining your flood risk. For information on flood insurance for your business, visit the Commercial Coverage section of the Floodsmart website.

Please note that flood insurance does not supply business interruption coverage that compensates you for your lost income due to floods. Nor will your business owner’s insurance policy, since floods are not a covered loss. Options to add business interruption coverage for flooding such as a Difference In Conditions (DIC) policy may be too expensive for a small business. Check with your insurance provider on your coverage and be sure to have a business continuity plan in place to quickly resume operations if you are in a flood-prone area.

To learn more about your risk of flooding and how to be prepared call the City of Tulsa Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or (918) 596-7777, or visit https://www.cityoftulsa.org/government/departments/engineering-services/flood-control/.

In partnership with the City of Tulsa, the Disaster Resilience Network shares these monthly key messages from the Program for Public Information (PPI) as part of the National Flood Insurance Program – Community Rating System. This outreach assists our community in keeping low flood insurance rates. Tulsa property owners and renters are eligible to receive up to a 40 percent discount on flood insurance rates.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

Urban Fires and Wildfires: October Hazards of the Month

URBAN FIRES AND WILDFIRES

October 8-14, 2017 is National Fire Prevention Week. For this reason our hazards for October are Urban Fires and Wildfires.

Urban Fire

An urban (structure) fire is one that burns a home or other improved structure. Fire generates a black, impenetrable smoke that blocks vision and stings the eyes, making it often impossible to navigate and evacuate. On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day. According to the Tulsa Fire Department, urban fires caused 72 deaths and 1,166 injuries in the jurisdiction from 2000 to 2011.

Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Approximately 80% of all fire deaths occur where people sleep, such as in homes, dormitories, barracks, or hotels. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most victims of urban fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns as one might expect.

Smoke Detectors and Escape Plans

How to protect yourselves? Smoke detectors save lives. Three out of five home fire deaths in 2010-2014 were caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.

Every Second Counts, Plan two ways out! According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half ever practiced it. One-third of survey respondents who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out. Develop a fire escape plan with you family and be sure to practice a fire drill twice a year. To download this year’s infographic (see above) or for more information in English and Spanish visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

Wildfires

2012 Mannford, Oklahoma Wildfire, Teri Hartman


As more people make their homes in wild land settings in close proximity to large tracts of grasslands or forests, the number of citizens and structural improvements at risk to the impacts of wildfire increases. Wildfires often begin unnoticed and spread quickly, igniting grass, brush, trees, and homes.

Within the Tulsa City/County jurisdiction, development in more remote and wooded areas, also referred to as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), continues to take place. Because more people are choosing to build expensive homes on acreage in rural settings, surrounded by grasslands and forest, the WUI has increased enormously. This is particularly true of Tulsa, with its growing suburban population and upscale economy. While most grasslands of the U.S. have a fuel load of 1,000 to 2,000 lb. per acre, around Tulsa it is between 6,000 and 10,000 lbs. per acre.

If you live in a WUI, creating a defensible space around your property is an important component to dealing with the potential threat of wildfire. Firewise, a community program that is also available to neighborhoods and businesses, can provide guidance on how to work on these issues. For more information, visit http://www.forestry.ok.gov/firewise-communities.

On any aspect related to fire, the Tulsa Fire Department has an excellent public education program. To ask a question or request a speaker from their public education office, call the City of Tulsa Customer Care Center at 3-1-1 or if calling outside Tulsa, dial (918) 596-7777.

The Disaster Resilience Network is providing these hazards of the month in conjunction with the City of Tulsa’s Storm Water Drainage and Hazard Mitigation Advisory Board. These hazards are identified in the 2014 City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

October Key Message: Storm Drains Are For Rain


#OctoberKeyMessage With this season’s abundance of falling leaves, now is a good time to remember that STORM DRAINS ARE FOR RAIN. Pouring or disposing of anything other than storm water into a storm drain is illegal, pollutes local waterways and can cause localized flooding. Never pour or place anything into storm drains. Tulsa’s storm drains convey water to local waterways. Pouring motor oil or other chemicals down the drain can kill fish and wildlife living downstream. Putting leaves, grass clippings or other waste down drains clogs storm drains and requires the city to spend more money to clean them out – which is an added expense to taxpayers. If leaves or debris are blocking a storm drain or if you witness illegal dumping, please call the City of Tulsa Customer Care Center at 311 (in Tulsa) or (918) 596-7777 to report it, because it can be dangerous and damaging. Let’s keep our local waterways clean and free flowing. For more information, go to City of Tulsa Stormwater Quality.

In partnership with the City of Tulsa, the Disaster Resilience Network shares these monthly key messages from the Program for Public Information (PPI) as part of the National Flood Insurance Program – Community Rating System. This outreach assists our community in keeping low flood insurance rates. Tulsa property owners and renters are eligible to receive up to a 40 percent discount on flood insurance rates.

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

Disaster Resilient Cross-Cultural Council invited to MITA’s Foundation Annual Banquet

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

Congratulations to DRBC Member Kathy Duck!

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

WestFest 2017

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment

FORTIFIED in Oklahoma: A Memory from 2 Years Ago

Posted in About Us | Leave a comment