The Top Ten Emergencies in North America
September is National Preparedness Month so every year at this time we put a special focus on building awareness of the potential for disasters and the wisdom of preparedness & planning. It would be nice if certain events would happen on schedule too. But, of course, emergencies occur when we least expect them and their power is magnified by this element of surprise.
Every year in the US, millions of Americans suffer from all sorts of emergencies. In fact, most of these emergencies are unavoidable. From weather disasters to fire, civil unrest to epidemics, emergencies of this nature can be devastating. But there is a lot that everyone can do to prepare to survive and thrive in these types of incidents.
As an emergency preparedness company, DTC Lifetools is always on the watch for solutions to potential problems. We offer solutions to some of life’s worries with our line of DTC LifeTools. Below we present a list of the ten most frequent and devastating natural and man-made disasters and emergencies in the US:
- Chemical spill – Unfortunately, this seems to have become more prevalent recently. Huge spills of toxic chemicals, either directly in the water supply or on to nearby ground can be a massive problem. Not only can these chemicals have devastating effects in the short term, causing respiratory and digestive issues, but they can also cause problems for decades to come. Anyone who remembers Love Canal knows that entire towns can be destroyed by chemicals in the ground. Picher, Oklahoma was abandoned when the heavy metals drawn up by mining made the area too toxic for humans
- Civil unrest – In the last few months it seems that there have been a huge number of riots and uprisings in the streets. Often, like the LA Riots in 1992, they are caused by police and authority activities. More recently, Ferguson, Missouri has made the news for a long series of riots and looting that all stemmed from a police shooting. While many of these events seem unavoidable, hindsight can often provide us with an understanding of how our leaders can avoid similar situations. For the average citizen, though, they can often simply appear as a huge emergency that needs to be dealt with.
- Earthquake – Every year, there are more than 10 earthquakes in the US over 5.5 on the Richter scale. These events are generally restricted to the Western United States, but even the East Coast and Midwest are vulnerable. Buildings collapsing, power outages, massive traffic snarls and loss of public services are all possibilities. Even if one’s home is not damaged by the earthquake, the after effects of the event and its effects on the surrounding area can still cause huge damage. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 had more damage caused by fire than by the earthquake itself.
- Winter weather – You might not think about this as a disaster, but every year, thousands of people lose their lives or find themselves in dangerous situations. The Stolpa family was caught in a remote area of Nevada in 1993 for an entire week. Jennifer, the mom, and her 5-month old son, Clayton, sought shelter in a cave, while her husband, James Daniel Stolpa, hiked 40 miles in the snow to find an outpost where help could be found. That wasn’t 1893; it was in 1993. All three lived, but it highlights how important it is to plan ahead for the winter weather that will come every year.
- Tornadoes – Most famously taking place in the Midwest, tornadoes can strike and have struck nearly everywhere in the United States. Although often tornadoes seem to strike without warning, the technology for surviving them goes back hundreds of years. The largest tornado in history is called the Tri-State Tornado. It struck Missouri, Indiana and Illinois in its 219 mile long path. While that was a massive storm, days like the Super Outbreak of April 25-28, 2011 can be far more terrifying. Over those days, over 355 tornadoes from Arkansas to Virginia, Texas to southern Canada touched down causing the most widespread devastation in history.
- Wildfire – While this might not seem like a threat to you, a wildfire can have an effect on your life even if the fire is thousands of miles away. The Yellowstone Fire of 1988 sent smoke all the way to New York City causing people with respiratory concerns to have to take precautions. If you live in an area where wildfires are possible or likely, there are preparations that you have to do to survive. A wildfire can start as a lightning strike, a careless cigarette or an abandoned campfire and can spread over hundreds of thousands of acres in just hours.
- Heat waves – When you ask people to list natural disasters, heat waves are rarely at the top of the list, but heat and long periods of extreme weather can have an effect on you, even if you don’t know it. In 1936, there was a devastating heat wave that compounded the problems of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. It was followed by one of the coldest winters in history. Many of the records set then stood until 2012, when another heat wave caused 82 deaths in the US and Canada. The past decade has been the hottest on human record, which might mean that heat waves will become a frequent part of our lives as the climate undergoes a change.
- Droughts – Not always associated with a heat wave, a drought can wreak havoc on everything. Crops to the drinking water supply can all be affected. The hardest part of a drought is that there is not always something that one can do long-term. Water is difficult and expensive to transfer long distances. The nation’s drought sensitivities have been compounded by high concentrations of population in naturally hot, dry place, like Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Droughts are not a thing of the past. Recent reports indicate that California is in the worst drought since 1895. Still not sure that drought can affect you: California is responsible for 15% of the nation’s produce and 7% of the nation’s livestock. This will affect food costs worldwide if it continues too long.
- Floods – It seems that every spring brings floods around the US. From the Upper Mississippi to the rivers of Appalachia, from the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South, floods affect thousands every year. Sometimes there are entire states flooded, but very often a flood takes place in a single neighborhood. Floods can strike at any time of the year and almost everywhere. Even high up on a mountain, flood waters can strike on their way into the valleys. Thousands of people and even entire towns have been wiped out by floods.
- Superstorms – Because they are so common, most people don’t think of them as emergencies. The high winds, massive amounts of water, lightning and often hail can do an amazing amount of damage. Nearly every day, particularly in the Midwest, there are violent and damaging thunderstorms. The damage done to crops by hail and winds costs consumers millions every year. Then, of course, there is the lightning. Between 1990 and 2003, there were 756 deaths from lightning.
Now that we have sufficiently scared you, we have lots of ways to help you avoid problems. Stay with us right here over the next several weeks when we will present an article for each of these potential disasters. We will give you hints and suggestions that will help you keep your family safe.