Category Archives: Reports and Statistics

Family Relationships: A Must-Have in Your Emergency Survival Kits

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Yes, you read that title correctly. A recent study shows that relationships improve your odds of survival by a whopping 50%.  The data comes from a study of 308,849 individuals, followed for an average of 7.5 years.  Metaphorically speaking, that’s just as important as the items you choose to include in your emergency survival kits.

Of course, most of us can relate to our own families, but  relationships are not limited to family ties.  They extend to friends, colleagues, neighbors and members of our communities.  Professor Holt-Lunstad, one of the authors of the study, says “when someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks.”

To help illustrate the impact of the findings, the study listed these examples of how low social interaction compares to more commonly known risk factors:

  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • Twice as harmful as obesity

So what does this all mean for my family and I?

Reaching out and socializing more often with friends, neighbors and community members gives us:

  • more purpose to live
  • a larger physical support system when emergencies strike
  • a stronger emotional support system in the aftermath of a disaster

So, invite your close extended family members over for dinner more often,  say “hi” to that quiet neighbor across the way, and introduce yourself to another parent on your child’s soccer team.  You just might live longer.  And you’ll be thankful for the extra helping hands when you’re faced with an emergency.

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2010 Hurricane Season Prediction: 14-23 Named Storms

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Alex, Bonnie, Colin, and Danielle. Meet the first 4 predicted storms of the 2010 hurricane season.  This year the National Hurricane Center (of the NOAA) has predicted an extremely active season with an estimated 14-23 named storms to occur in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.  They predict 8 to 14 will become hurricanes, with 3-7 major hurricanes clocking wind speeds over 111 mph.

Tropical storms receive a name when wind speeds exceed 39 mph and become hurricanes when their sustained winds reach 74 mph.  Historically, the Atlantic hurricane season from June 1 through November 30 produces 11 named storms and 2 major hurricanes.

Among many variables, scientists and forecasters say there are three main factors we will see more storms this year:

  1. Weak Wind Shear
    Wind shear can dismantle storms and with El Nino dissipating this year winds are expected to be lighter.
  2. Warmer Water
    El Nino also brought warm ocean temperatures which should remain above average throughout the season.
  3. Era of Hurricanes
    Since 1995, the Atlantic has increasingly formed more storms than in previous decades.

AccuWeather, led by researchers at Colorado State University, similarly predicted 16-18 named storms in 2010, with 6 storms striking the United States.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy year for hurricanes.  Stay safe, be prepared and enjoy the summer!

Worst Natural Disasters in the World: Relative to the Population

In the last 40 years, the Haiti earthquake has been the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster, when measured by the amount of deaths per inhabitants.   The following chart ranks these disasters by the “deaths per million inhabitants” column.

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This is an interesting way to look at the damage caused by these disasters, as it highlights the overall percentage of deaths in each country.  In the case of Haiti, approximately 2% of the population was killed.   That’s a staggering number.  Surely, every Haitian knew at least one person who lost their life in this tragedy.

Another takeaway is that it’s almost split evenly between earthquakes/tsunamis (a byproduct of earthquakes) and cyclones.

This article on 5 Probable Natural Disasters to Strike the United States contains some interesting predictions for the U.S.  It’s founded in scientific data, but at the end of the day, it’s only an educated guess.  Of course, we can never accurately predict any natural disaster.  But we can be prepared for them.


    2010 World Earthquakes Relative to the San Andreas Fault in California

    haiti-japan-chile-earthquake-magnitude

    As everyone knows by now, Chile was rocked with an enormous 8.8 earthquake early this morning.  This came just one day after a 7.0 in Japan and a little over a month from the devastating 7.0 in Haiti.

    The reality is, strong earthquakes occur around the world everyday.  In fact, around 50 earthquakes above magnitude 6.5 are recorded somewhere in the world each year.  This real-time earthquake magnitude tracking tool from the USGS, shows all the earthquakes that exceeded magnitude 5.0 in the last week.  At the time of writing, over 80 earthquakes were on the list!  The majority of them in the Chile region.

    earthquake-fault-typesIt is estimated that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake is equivalent to about half a million tons of high explosives. With each increase of 1.0 in the magnitude scale, it equates to 32 times more energy!  That means the earthquake in Chile was approximately 800 times stronger than the ones that hit Haiti and Japan!

    So how can that be?  How can an earthquake of the same magnitude in Japan and Haiti result in virtually no deaths and over 230,000 deaths respectively?  Further, how can an earthquake approximately 800 times stronger result in less than 1,000 deaths?  It depends on many factors including:

    1. density of the population
    2. infrastructure and economic status of the region
    3. education of the people
    4. financial resources available in the aftermath
    5. the type of earthquake (see chart on right)

    Southern California Earthquake Simulation

    As an example of this, Southern California is an extremely dense area of the United States.  It also lies on a massive fault line known as the San Andreas Fault.  Experts predict that a 7.8 magnitude quake would result in approximately 1,800 deaths.  A stark contrast from Haiti.  But they also estimate over 255,000 would be homeless and the economic result would be a devastating 213 billion in damages.

    Relative to the density of the population, the predicted death toll is very low compared to Haiti. This is due primarily to strict building code laws that require “earthquake-proof” construction. You could also argue that the education of the people (like school drills and public awareness) and the financial resources would have a large positive impact as well.

    This video is an amazing artistic depiction of such an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault:

    Be prepared.  Consider an earthquake survival kit for you and your loved ones.

    Disaster Declarations (coming to a county near you)

    FEMA_logoDon’t misunderstand me.  I’m not a pessimist and I don’t foretell the future.  I was simply surprised to see the frequency of Major Disaster Declarations in the U.S. in 2009 as recorded by FEMA.  The list is mostly populated with severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.  But it also includes fires, mudslides, and even ice jams in Alaska.

    FEMA has supplied a fascinating map of the United States, showing all the presidential disaster declarations from 1964-2007.  It shows you the counties that have experienced the most disaster declarations and even breaks down the disasters by type for each of the 10 disaster regions.

    presidential-disaster-declarations

    This map might make you think twice about where you live.  But hopefully it encourages us all to be a little more prepared for when that next disaster strikes.