Posted on September 2nd, 2014 in EDEN Newsletter
In this Issue
From the Chair
Taking Care of Our Own: Evacuation/Sheltering Plans for Extension Offices
Do your local Extension offices have emergency plans? They should. And an important part of those plans are the procedures for sheltering-in-place or evacuation.
There are several components to creating the shelter-in-place elements. More than one threat may be considered. The plan for severe thunderstorms/tornadoes may be very different from one toxic smoke from a nearby fire or for an active shooter. Consider the types of threats you face and plan accordingly. It is always best if the plan can be simplified so one set of instructions works for all threats if possible.
For severe weather, assess facilities to locate a suitable shelter. Look for an interior space on the lowest floor with an opportunity to get under a heavy piece of furniture for protection from falling objects. At a minimum, the space should have a noisemaker, such as an air horn or whistle, to help anyone who is trapped be heard. Hard hats are also a possibility and keeping a kit containing basic first aid supplies, water, etc. nearby is a good idea. Employees should be encouraged to keep a pair of sturdy shoes in the office and wear those when the situation becomes threatening. There have been many unnecessary injuries from people wearing rubber sandals or other soft soled shoes in a debris field.
A shelter location for noxious fumes or dangerous smoke may be the same as for storms. An interior room, away from windows, which could be quickly sealed by duct tape and/or wet towels can serve in such circumstances. Always follow the advice of first responders, but shutting down air conditioning and heating systems if one has time, is usually a good idea. Again, a kit with basic supplies including water and some non-perishable snacks is a necessity. This kind of shelter-in-place could last considerably longer than for severe weather, so keep that in mind.
Sheltering for an active shooter or similar threat should also be considered. Consult with law enforcement in advance to identify a location and procedures. At a minimum, secure all outside entrances, move to a room away from windows and doors, and lock as many doors between the shelter space and the outside as possible.
As for evacuation, establish at least a basic plan so it is easy to account for all employees and guests. Remember when your grade school teacher took the attendance book outside during fire drills? Think of your planning in the same way. Someone should be designated to know which employees are in or away from the office and how many guests are in the building at a given time. Sign in sheets or portable magnetic in/out boards are helpful. Choose a nearby landmark to serve as a gathering place. It may be a tree, a mailbox, sign, etc. Avoid fire hydrants because they might be the center of the action. Get far enough away from your building to be safe.
Report to first responders any employees or guests who are unaccounted for or the fact that everyone is present. If you are in a building with multiple tenants, work with the others to choose unique gathering spots for each business or organization if possible. Review your plans at the start of any larger meeting with guests who are unfamiliar with your space. Explain the location of the exits, shelter locations and evacuation procedures.
The procedures outlined above are very basic and general. It’s always a good idea to seek the advice of emergency planners, police and other first responders when creating plans specific to each location. — Rick Atterberry, Marketing/Communications Specialist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, EDEN Chair top
Wondering If You Should Worry about Ebola?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state, “Ebola poses no significant risk in the United States.” It is spread through direct contact and not through air, food or water. Ebola hemorraghic fever is a severe, often fatal disease of humans and non-human primates caused by a virus. The natural reservoir host of the virus is unknown but bats are a likely reservoir (as they are for several other zoonotic viruses such as rabies). Ebola was first identified in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sporadic outbreaks since then have been limited to central and western Africa. This year’s outbreak is unusual in that it infected people in densely populated areas of several countries in west Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Spread is generally limited to family members of infected individuals and to health care workers, including foreign aid workers, who have extensive direct contact with patients. Unlike flu, this virus is not spread well by aerosol. The virus is excreted in blood, bodily secretions and fluids including urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen and can infect another through contact with mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth, cuts in the skin or sexual contact. Health care and aid workers are being trained on proper use of personal protective equipment to avoid infection and spread of the disease. In addition to the CDC, you can visit the World Health Organization’s website for current information about the disease. — Julie Smith, Extension Dairy Specialist, University of Vermont Extension, EDEN Point of Contact (POC)top
Preparing for a Volcano
Image from http://volcanoes.usgs.gov
Have a volcano nearby, even a quiet one? EDEN delegate Ashley Stokes, University of Hawaii Extension and Research Veterinarian talks about volcanoes and preparations for volcanic activity.
Aloha from the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii where our land mass is growing every day through the deposition of lava from the Kilauea Volcano. It is a magnificent and spectacular process, but one that also poses many dangers. Volcanoes are found in numerous places in the U.S. and can lie quietly for years before they release built up pressure from gasses, steam, and/or lava. Just because the volcano in your area is dormant or quiet, doesn’t mean it can’t erupt. Mauna Loa, also found on the Big Island of Hawaii, has been quiet since 1984 but is well overdue for an eruption based on closely-monitored data. Our island residents are always aware of its activity and must be prepared at all times. The image above from the USGS shows the location and information for every volcano found in the US. Take note if you live, do business, have loved ones, or travel in these areas. Remember, volcanoes can impact communities hundreds of miles away.
One of the best ways to prepare is to get to know your local authorities and their methods of communication for current or future volcanic activity. They monitor seismic activity, pressure, lava levels and caps, gas composition, and steam emissions that can inform these volcanologists of impending danger. When authorities notify you of warnings, take them seriously and follow their recommendations because there is no guarantee when, where, and how severe the volcanic activity will be. Dangers from eruption include earthquakes, landslides, mudslides, ash accumulation and inhalation, release of dangerous gases, steam vent openings, devastating lava flows that quickly change direction, flying debris and rocks, intense heat, flash floods, and tsunamis. As an example of the dangers, volcanic gases can contain high levels of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and even fluorine gas that can cause short and long-term health risks to people, animals, and plants. These gases can fall out of the air on their own or in the form of acid rain.
The areas within 20 miles of a volcano are considered the most vulnerable to volcanic dangers; however, eruptions often significantly impact communities more than 100 kilometers away. During the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens there was only a 15 second delay between a 5.1 magnitude earthquake and the catastrophic eruption that sent ash over 22,000 square miles and lava with mudslides that moved more than 50 miles an hour down the mountain. Local authorities had been closely monitoring the mountain and were convinced an eruption was imminent. Regular communications with nearby communities thankfully reduced the numbers of people on or near the mountain during the eruption.
Make sure your family and business are ready with an evacuation plan and a disaster preparedness kit. If an eruption occurs, follow evacuation orders right away and stay tuned in to your local authorities for updates. Local authorities may recommend you shelter-in-place so make sure you have a means to listen to local announcements (i.e. have a working battery-powered radio if cell service and power are lost). If you are to evacuate the area, avoid low-lying areas because these are most prone to dangerous slides, floods, lava, and tsunamis. Be aware of air quality concerns and protect those most likely to have respiratory challenges. Don’t forget your pets and livestock during these events and make arrangements in advance for needed transportation and a place to shelter animals.
Here are some resources with excellent information about volcanoes and how to best prepare and respond to volcanic events. Stay safe and be prepared!
Food Safety at Tailgate Parties
Weather is getting cooler and this means tailgate season is here. Although tailgate gatherings and sports events can be great fun for family and friends, you need to make plans to keep your food safe during these events. Because refrigerators and running water are not always available for outdoor events, you should become familiar with the safe food handling practices for these events and plan ahead so you will have enough coolers and all the tools you need to cook food safely.
Packing foods for tailgating and sports events
- Be sure to have enough insulated coolers packed with ice or frozen gel packs to hold all your food and beverages.
- Pack cold perishable food, both raw and cooked, in a cooler and keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods by either using separate coolers or wrapping them securely to prevent cross-contamination.
- Bring a food thermometer to test food temperature during cooking, and place another one in the cooler so you can check if the food inside cooler stays at 40 degrees F or below.
- Bring water, soap, and wet disposable towels for handwashing and cleaning in case none are available at the site.
- If you bring hot take-out food, eat it within 2 hours of purchase, or within 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F.
- Bring only the amount of food that will be eaten to avoid having too much left over.
Cooking foods at tailgating and sports events
- Wash your hands with warm running water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful pathogens. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb steaks, chops and roasts to 145 degrees F or higher, all raw ground meats to 160 degrees F or higher, and all poultry to 165 degrees F or higher as measured with a food thermometer. Using a thermometer is the only way to confirm the internal temperature of meat.
- Meat should be either cooked completely at home and then reheated at the game, or cooked completely at the game. Partially cooking meat or poultry ahead of time without reaching a safe temperature will allow harmful pathogens to survive and grow.
- When taking cooked food off the grill, use a clean platter and utensils. You should not use the platter or utensils that were used for raw meat or poultry.
- Cooked food should be consumed within 2 hours or within 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F.
Discard any leftovers that are not properly chilled and any food that was left out of the cooler or off grill more than 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees F).
Enjoying food at a tailgate party can be a great fun. By following safe food handling practices, you will keep your food safe! More information can be found at USDA Tailgating Food Safety. — Soohyoun Ahn, assistant professor in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Studies, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0370top
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