Eric Brown is President of the Homeland Security Foundation of America (HSFA) and a certified Emergency Manager. HSFA is a non-Federal, non-profit public agency for public safety, energy security and health and human services, established to advance homeland security while preserving Americans’ civil liberties. For more information, please visit http://www.hsfamerica.org.
‘TIS THE SEASON
Hurricane Season officially kicks off June 1 and runs through November 30. NOAA forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year and there is a 70 percent chance of having 9 to 14 named storms, of which 4 to 7 could become hurricanes, including 1 to 3 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).
Some things to think about and do before hurricane season gets active…
- Make a plan and disaster supplies kits for your home and vehicles. (And consider making kits for your office too.) And get some Weather radios with battery backup and tone-alert feature.
- Consider getting flood insurance (and keep in mind it may take 30+ days to take effect). Learn more at www.floodsmart.gov
- Think about where you would go if you had to evacuate and learn evacuation routes in your area. (And if you are traveling into hurricane territory this summer, take time to ask and learn procedures, evac routes, etc.)
Learn more at National Hurricane Center
Summer months also mean more wildfires in many parts of the country. Pay attention to officials’ warnings about campfires and burn bans … and please don’t throw your cigarette out the window when driving!
Some things to think about and do at all times…
- Make a family plan and disaster supplies kits for your home, vehicles and office. And get some Weather radios.
- Create a 30-100 foot safety (or defensible) zone around your home.
- Explain to kids that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys … and if they see someone playing with fire they should tell an adult right away!
- Think about where you would go if you had to evacuate and learn area evacuation routes.
Learn more about Firewise Communities at www.firewise.org and a few cool sites for young kids are www.sparky.org and www.smokeybear.com
Going to print: We’re committing to print queue very soon so let us know if you’re interested in doing custom books on this job by calling 1-888-999-4325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Customizable booklets: Remember we can develop customized booklets in bulk using pages out of our 284-page paperback (e.g. hurricane booklets, Pan flu brochures, etc) and incorporate any additional local data you want in them. Call 1-888-999-4325 to learn more.
Call for pictures / videos: If you have pictures or videos of how you use our books at events or trainings please email them to email@example.com.
DID YOU KNOW…
…since 1989, the federal government has spent over $96.1 billion for disaster assistance provided by FEMA but only $4.4 billion of the disaster assistance was for hazard mitigation?! Source: FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program: Overview and Issues. Washington, DC: CRS Report for Congress R40471 (26-page report in PDF)
… U.S. banks have lost hundreds of millions of dollars to cyberthieves who have electronically broken into ATMs and forged electronic transfers?! The FBI knows of one bank whose security system was breached and which lost $10 million in cash in a day, while another lost $5 million, enough to put it out of business. Source: Reuters
COOL LINKS / IDEAS
Check out this cool video demonstration! The TouchTable is an advanced system where multiple users can visualize, navigate and analyze large amounts of information. Two or more TouchTables can be networked, allowing people in different locations to work together in a common virtual space. The applications for this technology in the First Responder world are mind-boggling..! Watch video on YouTube
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Emergency Preparedness and Response Guide is over 400+ pages of disaster resource information designed for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, emergency managers, and others interested in planning for animals in disasters. Available on CD or download Guide in PDF. www.avma.org/disaster/
Got a cool link or idea? Email it to Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT’S A DISASTER! e-news 4/28/2009
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
An interview with Howard Pierpont, Board Chair - DERA
Howard Pierpont's earliest memory of a disaster was being carried on his father's shoulders up the stairs of the family summer home to view the flooding after a hurricane. The son of a meteorologist, he learned that nature was to be respected not feared. Part of this respect included not putting oneself in harms way and paying attention to the warning signs when bad situations were about to occur.
Mr. Pierpont has spent most of his life in preparation for whatever might happen. He became a Business Continuity professional and worked for Intel Corporation as a world wide BC coach. This involved identifying possible and probable threats and hazards, developing processes and actions to mitigate the issues and minimize the need for recovery of impacted organizations.
He joined the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association DERA www.disasters.org in 2002. Originally founded in 1962 to assist communities worldwide in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and to serve as a professional association DERA evolved through linking professionals, volunteers, and organizations active in all phases of emergency preparedness and management. DERA currently has active members around the world, representing national governments, non-profit associations, official agencies and departments, educational institutions, corporations, small business concerns, emergency management professionals, researchers, and volunteers. Pierpont assumed the Board Chairman position in mid 2008.
Howard has been affiliated with "It's a Disaster!" since 2008 and has traveled the United States promoting preparedness and the use of the book. "I wish I had known about "It's a Disaster!" when I was still in private industry," said Chairman Pierpont. "It is such a great guide for individuals, communities and companies on common sense preparedness." He continues to weave the book into multiple fabrics when dealing with business continuity issues in the communities.
Learn more about DERA and how to become a member by visiting www.disasters.org
COMMON SENSE TIPS ON SWINE FLU
Last week a new variation of swine flu surfaced that has countries scrambling to prepare for a potential pandemic. Although this type-A flu virus is the common H1N1 version that causes regular outbreaks in pigs, it doesn't normally affect people but human infections can and do happen.
This strain is disturbing the medical profession since it contains genetic pieces from 4 different virus sources: 2 swine, 1 avian and 1 human therefore it can spread and mutate easily. Another unknown is how mild or virulent this strain will potentially become.
Swine flu symptoms include high fever, lack of appetite, body aches and coughing ... and possibly runny nose, sore throat, nausea, puking and diarrhea.
But keep in mind ... the flu virus affects millions of people each year causing an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide annually. So, although this swine flu does have the potential of spreading rapidly, people can and should take precautions to help reduce the spread of germs.
Some common sense tips about ANY flu outbreak include:
-- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or shirtsleeve) when you cough or sneeze.
-- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol) are also effective.
-- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and reduce or restrict handshaking.
-- Boost your immune system.
-- If you (or others in your home) get sick with the flu, STAY HOME from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
-- Avoid crowded places if you live in an area with a known cluster or outbreak.
-- Remember ... you will not get swine flu from eating pork and you won't get avian flu from eating chicken. Cook both to their proper internal temperatures (at least 160F for pork and 170F for chicken).
(More tips on Infectious Diseases are covered in our 4th Edition on pages 188 - 190. Also check out Business Continuity tips on pages 220 - 228.)
Customizable booklets update: Remember we can develop customized booklets in bulk using pages out of our 284-page paperback (e.g. pandemic flu booklets, hurricane booklets, etc) and incorporate any additional data you want in them. We'll have a price matrix online soon but call 1-888-999-4325 to learn more!
Call for pictures / videos: If you have pictures or videos of how you use our books at events or trainings please email them to email@example.com for a new page we're designing. And check out a new video developed by our friends at The Griffith Corp on our Home page.
Going to print soon: We'll be committing to the print queue soon (i.e. we print a minimum of 25,000 books at a time by bundling 1,000 unit & up custom orders several times a year) so please let us know if you are interested in jumping in on this job. Next print might be late summer but we always keep thousands of "standard" books on-hand and can ship those with custom labels within 24 hours. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-999-4325 for more information.
DID YOU KNOW...
...a stack of 104 blank birth certificates has been stolen from the New York City Health Department's offices, leading investigators to worry that they may have fallen into the hands of terrorists?! The NYPD and the city's Department of Investigation are investigating. Source: New York Post
... Chinese cyber spies have penetrated so deep into the US system -- ranging from its secure defence network banking system, electricity grid to putting spy chips into its defence planes -- that it can cause serious damage to the US any time?! [National Counterintelligence Executive, Joel Brenner] said: "...You don't sneak counterfeit chips into another nation's aircraft to steal data. When it's done intentionally, it's done to degrade systems, or to have the ability to do so at a time of one's choosing." Source: The Times of India
...Security firm Finjan has uncovered a large bot network with 1.9 million infected zombie computers?! The botnet is hosted in the Ukraine and controlled by a gang of six people who are instructing the machines to copy files, record keystrokes, send spam, and take screenshots. The criminals operating the botnet can make as much as $190,000 in one day renting out the zombies to others. Source: CNET
COOL LINKS / IDEAS
The CDC has posted a new skills training video: Screening People for External Contamination: How to Use Hand-held Radiation Survey Equipment. This 18-minute video demonstrates how to screen people for external contamination using a handheld Geiger Mueller Detector. The program is designed for individuals assigned to conduct mass screening for contamination from radioactive materials following a large-scale incident. http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/screeningvideos/
FEMA, the Ad Council and Discovery Education have an online educational program called Ready Classroom. The site provides teachers with grade-specific activities, lesson plans and multimedia tools that teach students how natural disasters develop and inspires them to build their own emergency preparedness plans with their families.
IT’S A DISASTER! e-news 3/31/2009
NOTE: This month's e-news is a bit longer than normal but there are some new funding opportunities and important news items on cyber security included below.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The following was contributed by Patty Brooks, President - Strawberry Park Neighborhood Association, CERT member with San Jose Prepared, and (most importantly) wife and mother of 5 boys.
Do you know where to start when it comes to getting your neighborhood prepared?
by Patty Brooks
After my employer sent me to Life Safety Associates to be trained as an Emergency Response Team member I was hooked. I went home and began a regimen to prepare my family. I found CERT and completed the course with my husband. My husband went to the local fire station first aid & CPR class offered once a month in our community. I had my children train through Boy Scouts for first aid & CPR. I taught them through home drills and mock emergencies.
Yet still I worried about my neighbors and my community. I wanted to do more for them so I started a Neighborhood Association within my neighborhood. During our second quarterly meeting we had our local OES program come teach a 2-hour course on Home & Family Disaster Preparedness. 37 neighbors attended - this was a great start. Six month later we held an Emergency Preparedness Awareness Fair & Blood Drive and 327 more neighbors attended, 120 signed up to learn more. I received many emails from attendees following the event letting me know how they went home and built a family emergency kit.
Contact your Neighborhood Association and promote Emergency Preparedness in your neighborhood. Contact your council member's office in your district since they can tell you who to contact to learn how to join if one exists.
If your neighborhood does not have one, it is very simple to start one. Your council member's office can help you plus they can tell you how to get funding and put you in touch with others who are seasoned.
What do you need?
-- A few people to create a Board i.e. President, Vice President, Secretary & Treasurer. (No worries, I've seen them start with less)
-- Meet with your local council member's office.
-- Pick your boundaries, (what area of your neighborhood do you wish to represent)
-- As a Board, Create your Bylaws. (What is your purpose? What is the definition of a member? What are the names and positions of your board? What are your rules for voting, passing a motions?)
-- A bank account.
-- An EIN (employee identification number) number to open your bank account under the association's name. (This can be done online and at no cost.)
-- Your Council member's office will inform you of funding opportunities (if any) to pay for fliers and events. There are other ways such as charging a small yearly fee to join (i.e. $15 or whatever amount your board decides) or hold fundraising events (which are free). These are all great ways to raise awareness of your new association.
-- Hold Blood Drives and awareness events, take the local CERT course together, invite speakers to speak at your meeting such as your council member, police officers, firemen. This will help bring people in to your meeting and association as well.
-- Find out who in your neighborhood are elderly or disabled and who need checking on after a disaster.
I have a template for awareness fairs and great ideas on free events that not only raise awareness of your Neighborhood Association but will also benefit the community as well. Learn more at www.gobag.org
Note from Bill & j: Thank you Patty for your commitment to your community and for reminding all of us how one citizen CAN make a difference! Please read Patty's article called Donating blood is a part of Disaster Preparedness on above site too.
PRICE CHANGES = MORE MONEY FOR VOLUNTEERS, etc.
On March 20, 2009 we revamped our site to reflect new pricing for businesses and consumers. This was a really tough decision, but it allows us to focus more on our fundraiser and grant programs for First Responders and others.
Government agencies, nonprofits, volunteer groups (like CERTs, etc), churches and faith-based organizations, civic clubs, Associations, schools and other groups will continue to receive the 75% off list price in support of our grant and funding programs. And all our funding ideas are the same as before with one exception... we're offering MORE cash back on business referrals - keep reading!
Consumer paperback orders will be redirected to nonprofits or resellers like Amazon, etc (as was done from 1999 through late-2007). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but it helps establish the retail value of the book for matching grants programs, plus we'll stop undercutting nonprofits and schools using our book as a fundraiser item.(Although we DO encourage citizens to consider pooling orders together with their local church, Neighborhood or Homeowner's Association, volunteer groups, civic clubs, schools or nonprofits to get the Gov't/nonprofit pricing.)
Consumers (or anyone) can still purchase our eBook (in PDF) for only $2.50 through our site.
Business bulk pricing now starts at 50% off list since we just formed a new relationship with a large corporate sales force and this discount supports the normal book industry pricing. (Note: we will grandfather existing business customers with the old price on any future orders.)
Now for the COOL part ~ how this means more $$$ for nonprofits and volunteers...
If volunteer groups, nonprofits, schools, churches, civic clubs, etc want to refer business contacts directly to us, we're upping the donation back on business referrals to 30% of the gross order!
For example... say a CERT refers a local company to us who wants 200 books
Cost to business for books (200 @ $7.50): $1,500
TOTAL amount earned for CERT (30%): $ 450
Or a Volunteer Fire Dept refers a company to us who needs 1,000 custom books
Cost to business for books (1000 @ $7.50): $7,500
TOTAL amount earned for VFD (30%): $2,250
And remember... these amounts are non-dedicated, matchable dollars! And ... if groups cannot take a cash donation ... we can purchase needed equipment or provide that value in books.
Referred government agencies, nonprofits, schools, civic clubs and other groups will still earn the referring entity 10% of the gross sale as before.
Just remember to please refer your business, agency or other contacts directly to Fedhealth so we can handle them for you. (If referrals contact the outside sales force we won't be able to track them.)
DID YOU KNOW...
... Baxter sent the deadly bird flu virus to European Labs by error?! The company admits that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses somehow co-mingled in an Austrian facility. While H5N1 doesn't easily infect people, H3N2 viruses do. Sources: Bloomberg
... Computers already infected by the Conficker worm [which has been spreading globally since late 2008] are supposed to be automatically updated with some unknown software component on April 1st?! BUT ... according to InformationWeek, it's more of a threat to Web sites, corporate networks, and other Internet-networked services than individual PCs. "These botnets are designed, generally, to spew Spam or shoot so much traffic as to interrupt the availability of networks or Web sites in distributed denial of service (or DDOS) attacks."
Update Monday 3/30/09 4p: Researchers just discovered a detection tool! Dan Kaminsky, director at IOActive who worked with The Honeynet Project writes "... Conficker actually changes what Windows looks like on the network, and this change can be detected ... very, very quickly. You can literally ask a server if it's infected with Conficker, and it will tell you." A quick way to tell if your computer is infected is to try to access the Web site of a major antivirus vendor (like Symantec, Trend, McAfee, etc), which the worm blocks.
Note from Bill & j ... Don't panic -- but be aware a threat exists and this may impact the web going forward. Make sure you have an anti-virus package on all PCs (and hand-held devices if you do email on them), keep pkg current with updates (including Windows updates) and scan your devices OFTEN! And we suggest you NOT use browser-based sites to run a scan ~ purchase a well-known anti-virus package from a respected company and install it yourself!
... an electronic spying operation dubbed "GhostNet" has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as private offices of the Dalai Lama?! Researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved. Source: New York Times
COOL LINKS / IDEAS
The HOMELAND TV Network is owned and operated by The Griffith Corporation. The mission of the network is to provide the American people with information and programming on issues of homeland security, the military, local, state and federal law enforcement topics and the work of our counter-terrorism and intelligence communities. The Griffith Corporation believes that each American has an obligation to do his or her part to keep our nation safe.
Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium's 87-page "Flood Recovery Booklet" posted on the Northeast Iowa Library Service Area's site has great Flood Safety tips including a section on how to dry materials and heirlooms like artwork, books, photographs, CDs/DVDs, etc. Read more
The CDC has launched RSS feeds for two of the most popular sections of the emergency.CDC.gov website: 1) Recent Outbreaks and Incidents, which provides information on selected public health emergency topics of recent public interest, ranging from Salmonella outbreaks to hurricanes to terrorism, and 2) Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA), which reaches out to the nation's clinicians with weekly updates and monthly conference calls. http://emergency.cdc.gov/rss/
IT’S A DISASTER! e-news 2/26/2009
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
(Starting this month we’ll highlight customers and new ideas in this section.)
The Delaware Citizen Corps was recently awarded two of the five awards designated for FEMA Region III. The "Bridge Builder Award" was for exemplary collaboration with key preparedness partners, specifically with the Delaware State Police and the effort in getting the Disaster Preparedness DVD in the state school systems by using the DSP Resource Officers. And the "Together We Succeed Award" was for hosting an exemplary "National Preparedness Month" event and the combined efforts of over 40 agencies and private sector partners, training, displays and activities and events for the planning of the 4th Annual DE Family Emergency Preparedness Day.
The number one priority of the Delaware Citizen Corps Council is to establish local and county councils, assist them with the development of a community outreach program for their town, city or county, and provide them the support required to start and maintain their outreach programs.
Since 2004 Bob George and Marny (Mac) McLee (State Citizen Corps and CERT Coordinators) have been ordering copies of IT’S A DISASTER! using Citizen Corps grant dollars. Some ways they use our books include giving a customized copy to every CERT trainee plus copies are brought to all Disaster Preparedness, CERT, and Citizen Corps briefings throughout the state. And Rosanne Pack (DEMA Community Relation/PIO) provides books and other educational materials at community events and DEMA functions statewide.
Over the years several companies and agencies have ordered books after learning about it from the Delaware Citizen Corps’ efforts and we set aside 10% of those orders as a thank you for sharing the word. DE Citizen Corps elects to use those amounts as a credit towards future purchases and they’ve received over $1,800.00 worth of credit from referrals to date!
Learn more about Delaware Citizen Corps and check out their five part video series on disaster preparedness at www.delawarecitizencorps.org
NEW FEMA SITE
On December 31, 2008 FEMA launched the first phase of DisasterAssistance.gov, a new, easy-to-use website that consolidates disaster information in one place. Currently, 17 U.S. Government agencies, which sponsor more than 50 forms of disaster assistance, contribute to the site.
Individuals can apply for many forms of assistance with a single, online application. According to FEMA the application information is shared only with those agencies that a user identifies and is protected by the highest levels of security. Users can:
- apply for FEMA assistance and U.S. Small Business Administration loans through a single online application
-- check the status of their online application(s)
-- choose to have their Social Security benefits redirected to a new address
-- have access to their federal student loan account information.
To learn more visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov
PREPAREDNESS REMINDER (a.k.a. shameless plug)
During these tough economic times, many states and cities are facing major cutbacks to First Responders so it is more important than ever for businesses and consumers to know what they should plan for and do during an emergency situation.
One way to help is to get copies of IT'S A DISASTER! for your family, friends, employees and customers. Our 284-page manual is available direct to agencies, businesses, organizations and citizens at 75% to 89% off the $14.99 U.S. list. And we customize books (or CDs) at no charge so groups can personalize them with logos and local information. Plus we have creative programs to help volunteers and groups raise funds while educating local communities.
Learn more about our book and programs or call 1-888-999-4325 (7a-4p Pacific).
DID YOU KNOW…
… last month State Farm pulled the plug on its 1.2 million homeowner policies in Florida, citing the state's punishing price controls?! The state's largest insurer joins a raft of competitors that have already reduced or dumped their property and casualty business in the Sunshine State, including Prudential, Allstate, Nationwide and USAA. Source: Wall Street Journal
… online theft costs about $1 trillion a year, the number of attacks is rising sharply, and too many people do not know how to protect themselves?! And since the Internet is now part of society's central nervous system, attacks could threaten whole economies. Source: BBC News
COOL LINKS / IDEAS
Deaf Link has produced some short preparedness videos using American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for the State of Texas. While much of the information contained in each video is generic, there may be an occasional reference to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Some topics include Flood cleanup, Hurricane Preparedness and Evacuation, and Special Needs planning. www.accessibleemergencyinfo.com
Johns Hopkins’ Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) offers a Web-based tool that calculates and predicts the impact on individual hospitals of a flu epidemic, bioterrorist attack, flood or plane crash, accounting for such elements as numbers of victims, germ-carrying wind patterns, available medical resources, bacterial incubation periods and bomb size. Called EMCAPS (Electronic Mass Casualty Assessment & Planning Scenarios), the software program is believed to be the first that generates the anticipated outcomes of disaster planning scenarios developed by the Department of Homeland Security. The program is available for download (no charge) from Johns Hopkins’ CEPAR Web site at www.hopkins-cepar.org/
Got a cool link or idea? Email it to Janet at email@example.com
IT’S A DISASTER! e-news 1/26/2009
THE BIG CHILL
The past month has brought frigid temperatures to many North Americans and unfortunately there’s more to come. Here are some tips from several sources in case you’d like to share them with others.
The leading cause of death during winter storms is automobile or other transportation accidents, and the second leading cause of death is heart attacks often caused by overexertion from working or playing in extreme cold conditions. Another risk is hypothermia which is very common with the elderly who sometimes die inside their homes because it’s so cold. Carbon monoxide poisoning is another major concern since some people improperly use generators, ovens or charcoal.
The CDC has a great Emergency Preparedness and Response Winter Weather page with some fact sheets, PSAs and podcasts on carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, frostbite and other safety issues.
There’s also a 15-page PDF called "Extreme Cold A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety".
And a good 6-minute video on Generator Safety is viewable on Washington State Military Department Emergency Management Division’s site.
Ready.gov also has some helpful tips on their Winter Storms and Extreme Cold page … or visit your city or county Emergency Management, Fire or Health Department sites since most agencies provide tips, text alert systems, and emergency contacts and plans.