Understanding the difference between National Weather Service watches and warnings is critical to being prepared for any dangerous weather hazard, including hurricanes.
A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means "be on guard!" During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action - monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.
A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent - it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) - or it is about to occur at any moment. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.
Additional Watches and Warnings may be issued to provide detailed information on specific threats such as floods and tornadoes. Local National Weather Service offices issue Flash Flood/Flood Watches and Warnings as well as Tornado Warnings.
Reference: NWS National Hurricane Center
Everything you always wanted to know about common wildfire terms, but were afraid to ask!
Slides prepared by U.S. Forest Service - Six Rivers National Forest
Help firefighters help you by clearing nearby fire hydrants.
Snow accumulation, or the results of plowing and snow clearing can completely cover or restrict firefighter access to hydrants. This makes it difficult to extinguish fires quickly and efficiently. If a hydrant is buried firefighters have to spend time locating and clearing the hard compacted snow and depending on the incident could mean life or death.
What can you do?
Keep an eye on fire hydrants on or adjacent to your home or business and remove the snow during and after weather events. Clear a path to fire hydrants from the road and remove snow from all sides, so it is visible from the road, and easily accessible for large diameter hose. Adopt a hydrant and make it part of your snow clearing routine. It will only take a few extra minutes and is a quick and easy way to help us, help you and your neighbors.
How can I win?
Send us a photo of "you" and the fire hydrant you cleared, between now and noon Thanksgiving Day and you will be entered to win a FIREGROUND360° prize pack!
Be a Winter Hero and clear a hydrant, it could save your life.
UPDATE August 5, 2014 | 9:00AM
Fire Challenge Burning Teens–CT Fire Chiefs Speak Out
FOX CT | Manchester, Connecticut – fire chiefs are trying to get the word out about a dangerous new activity that some teens are trying out. Videos on YouTube are revealing a disturbing trend: the so-called fire challenge.
The “fire challenge” involves teenagers pouring an ignitable liquid, often rubbing alcohol, on their bare skin and then lighting themselves on fire. The photos and video taken by a witness are subsequently uploaded to various social media sites.
A safety alert originating from the New Jersey Office of the State Fire Marshal was circulated to the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association Monday.
UPDATE August 5, 2014 | 9:00AM
The Fire Challenge: What really happens when it goes wrong
Saludify – Here at Saludify we’ve reported on a number of crazy trends in the teenage world, most of them having some angle of danger and stupidity, and all of them leaving us shaking our heads wondering what today’s youth has come to. Few of them, however, sound as foolish or can compare to the new Fire Challenge.
If you haven't heard of it, the Fire Challenge presents volunteers with a simple goal: don’t get burned. Then, an individual must take off his or her shirt, douse their body in a flammable liquid and light themselves on fire. The “challenge” is to put the fire out before it burns up all the liquid ad then starts burning the skin.
FIREGROUND360° – The Fire Challenge is a disturbingly new trend that is sweeping the nation where children are literally setting themselves on fire. The victim applies copious amounts of flammable liquid to their body, igniting , and extinguishing it as quickly as they can before it burns them. A friend stands nearby and records it on a cell phone and the video is then uploaded to YouTube.
'Fire Challenge' injures teens - HLN.com
A dangerous 'Fire Challenge' trend has popped up on social media. Videos of teens dousing themselves with an accelerant, then lighting themselves on fire can be found on Facebook and YouTube.
Both male and female injury reports are coming in from all around the country of life threatening injuries. Parents, talk with your kids about the dangers of this stunt, fire in general, and the severe consequences this has.
Copyright 2014 FIREGROUND360°. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the consent of FIREGROUND360° and it's authors.
Painful Mosquito Virus Now in U.S.
NBC New York | Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 | Updated 9:48 PM EDT
A painful virus passed on by mosquitoes that has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean and Central America has made its way to the U.S., with the first reported cases in a Florida man and woman who had not recently traveled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Chikungunya has infected some 350,000 people and killed 21. There have been other U.S. cases but these are the first to appear in Americans who hadn't traveled to the affected regions. There is no vaccine or treatment for Chikungunya.
CDC: What is Chikungunya Virus?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. Symptoms of chikungunya include fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, rash, and muscle or joint pain. Symptoms usually last for a few days to a few weeks, but some people may feel tired for several weeks.
Who is at risk?
Travelers who go to Asian, African, or Caribbean countries are at risk of getting chikungunya. The mosquito that carries Chikungunya can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.
Since 2004, millions of cases have occurred in countries near the Indian Ocean. From 2004 to 2009, 105 cases of chikungunya fever were reported in travelers returning to the United States.
Reference: NBC New York News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Photo by FIREGROUND360°
A safe shelter is a building with electricity and/or plumbing or a metal-topped vehicle with windows closed. Picnic shelters, dugouts, small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe.
Key Indoor Safety Tips
Bring Your Pets Indoors
Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.
Protect Your Personal Property
Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike. The American Meteorological Society has tips for protecting your electronics from lightning. Do not unplug equipment during a thunderstorm as there is a risk you could be struck.
How Lightning Enters a Structure
There are three main ways lightning enters structures: a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground. Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
MERS Information via CDC.gov | Photo via peninsulatimes.org
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness cause by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). MERS affects the respiratory system (lungs and breathing tubes). Most MERS patients developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 30% of them died.
Health officials first reported the disease in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Through retrospective investigations, health officials later identified that the first known cases of MERS occurred in Jordan in April 2012. So far, all cases of MERS have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is no evidence of sustained spreading in community settings.
MERS can affect anyone. MERS patients have ranged in age from younger than 1 to 94 years old.
CDC continues to closely monitor the MERS situation globally and work with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented. CDC recognizes the potential for MERS-CoV to spread further and cause more cases globally and in the U.S. We have provided information for travelers and are working with health departments, hospitals, and other partners to prepare for this.
We don’t know for certain where the virus came from. However, it likely came from an animal source. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV, indicating they were previously infected with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus. However, we don’t know whether camels are the source of the virus. More information is needed to identify the possible role that camels, bats, and other animals may play in the transmission of MERS-CoV.
Listen to a 4-minute podcast about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
Symptoms & Complications
Most people confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection have had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of:
Some people also had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and nausea/vomiting. For many people with MERS, more severe complications followed, such as pneumonia and kidney failure. About 30% of people with MERS died. Most of the people who died had an underlying medical condition. Some infected people had mild symptoms (such as cold-like symptoms) or no symptoms at all; they recovered.
Based on what researchers know so far, people with pre-existing medical conditions (also called comorbidities), may be more likely to become infected with MERS, or have a severe case. Pre-existing conditions from reported cases for which we have information have included diabetes; cancer; and chronic lung, heart, and kidney disease. Individuals with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk for getting MERS or having a severe case.
Based on information we have to date, the incubation period for MERS (time between when a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when they start to have symptoms) is 2-14 days.
Stay informed about MERS via the CDC.gov
Smokey Bear banner courtesy of New Mexico True
Smokey Bear (Called Smokey the Bear until the early 1990s when a campaign was created claiming that was wrong and using a new name) is an advertising mascot created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. An advertising campaign featuring Smokey was created in 1944 with the slogan, "Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires". Smokey Bear's later slogan, "Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires", was created in 1947 by The Advertising Council. In April 2001, the message was updated to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires". According to the Ad Council, Smokey Bear and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children.
Smokey Bear vintage postage stamp images courtesy of Viewliner Ltd
Smokey's correct name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a successful song named "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. During the 1950s, that variant of the name became widespread both in popular speech and in print, including at least one standard encyclopedia. A 1955 book in the Little Golden Books series was called Smokey the Bear and Smokey calls himself by this name in the book. From the beginning, Smokey's name was intentionally spelled differently from the adjective smoky.
The fictional character Smokey Bear, created by the art critic Harold Rosenberg, is administered by three entities: the United States Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. Smokey Bear's name and image are protected by U.S. federal law, the Smokey Bear Act of 1952 (16 U.S.C. 580 (p-2); 18 U.S.C. 711).
Wikipedia Reference: Smokey Bear
With brush fire season upon us and the increase of these particular calls, we've been asked several important questions by our members about fire danger classes and fuels. We hope this helps!
"When you talk about 'fuels' and 'fuel load' what exactly do you mean?"
With forest and brush fires each fuel type plays a crucial role in the size, shape, and behavior of a fire. The types of fuel the fire burns has a direct impact on not only the makeup of the fire itself, but on how we can prepare for and fight actively burning fires. For example, large trees do not catch fire as quickly as grass or shrubs do, but they burn longer and hotter than grass. Grassland fires are easier to put out using water while large forest fires require the creation of fire lines and often times using aircraft with water and retardant to control. The types of fuels present are extremely important when determining how likely and dangerous a fire will be.
Types of fuel:
Surface Fuel (sometimes also called ground fuel) is made up all the things found on the forest floor such as leaves and pine needles, grasses, roots, and small plants and shrubs. Usually surface fuel plays an important role in starting and growing wildfires. Highly combustible materials like leaves and dead branches can catch fire easily and in turn ignite the surface fuel around them causing a surface fire. A surface fire is described as a fire that burns on or close to the ground.
Ladder Fuel is defined as combustible material that provides vertical continuity between vegetation and allows fire to climb into the crowns of trees or shrubs with relative ease. In other words, ladder fuel includes things like trees, tall shrubs, and low hanging branches that can help a fire spread not only horizontally but vertically.
Understanding these two types of fuels is important because it helps us to understand the best ways to go about preventing and combating fires.
"What is the criteria for Class 4 Day?"
Fire Danger Classes:
Class 5 Day - EXTREME - Fires start quickly, and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. Development into high intensity burning will usually be faster and occur from smaller fires than in very high fire danger class. Every fire that is started has the potential to become large. Expect extreme, erratic behavior. Outdoor burning should not take place in areas with extreme fire behavior. Fire restrictions are generally in effect on a class 5 day.
Class 4 Day - VERY HIGH - Fires start easily from all causes and immediately after ignition spread rapidly and increase quickly. Spot fires are a constant danger. Fires burning in light fuels may quickly develop high intensity characteristics such as long distance spotting and fire whirlwinds when they burn in heavier fuels. Both suppression and mop-up will require an extended and very thorough effort. Outdoor burning is not recommended during this day class. Fire restrictions may be in effect.
Class 3 Day - HIGH - All fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended brush and camp fires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small. Outdoor burning should be restricted to early and late evening hours.
Class 2 Day - MODERATE - Fires can start from most accidental causes, but with the exception of lightning fires in some areas, the number of starts is generally low. Expect moderate flame length and rate of spread. Short distance spotting may occur, but is not persistent. Fires are not likely to become serious and control is relatively easy. Although controlled burning can be done without creating a hazard, routine caution should be taken.
Class 1 Day - LOW - Fuels do not ignite readily from small firebrands although a more intense heat source, such as lightning may start fires in duff or punky wood. Weather and fuel conditions will lead to slow fire spread, low intensity and relatively easy control with light mop-up. There is little danger of spotting. Controlled burns can usually be executed with reasonable safety.
RED FLAG WARNING - A short term, temporary warning indicating the presence of dangerous combinations of temperature, wind, relative humidity, fuel or drought conditions which can contribute to new fires or rapid spread of existing fires. Can be issued at any Fire Danger level.
Photos by FIREGROUND360°
Resources: Communities For Healthy Forests, Society of American Foresters, Massachusetts Bureau of Forest Fire Control, Monson Fire + Emergency Services Department, About Geography: Wildland Fires