America’s PrepareAthon!

America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations and communities to prepare for specific hazards through drills, group discussions, and exercises. The first National Day of Action is April 30, 2014 and will focus on preparing for spring hazards. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the disasters that could happen where you live, take action to prepare your home and workplace, practice evacuation routes, and more.

Below, learn more about spring hazards and get ideas for taking action during America’s PrepareAthon! Don’t forget to register for America’s PrepareAThon! and share what activities you will be doing to get ready for spring weather.


Wildfires

Since the mid-1980s, the length of the wildfire season (the period of the year when it is dry and hot enough for fires to happen) has grown 78 days longer in the Western United States. Wildfires can occur at any time of year, but the potential for fires is higher during times with little or no rainfall, when vegetation is dry and burns more easily. High winds can spread wildfire quickly.

Many homes and buildings are adjacent to woodlands and parks, which provide beautiful views and peaceful settings.  But wildfire risk can be especially high in this “wildland-urban interface,” where the built environment blends with natural landscapes.

Protect your property from wildfire and practice how you will evacuate threatened areas on short notice. Learn more about preparing for wildfires.

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Hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. While many people think of hurricanes as coastal hazards, it’s important to remember that their effects can stretch hundreds of miles inland with strong winds, heavy rains and flooding.

Learn and practice your community’s evacuation routes, and make plans to secure your property. Learn more about preparing for hurricanes.

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Tornadoes

About 1200 tornadoes occur in the United States each year – they are one of nature’s most violent storms and can cause destruction and injury in a matter of seconds. Every state is at risk, but most tornadoes occur east of the Rocky Mountains. Tornadoes can strike in any season and at any time, but they occur most often in the spring and summer months and are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tornado warnings are issued an average of 13 minutes before an event, but warning times can vary greatly and be much shorter. It is critical to be prepared to act quickly.

Get a NOAA Weather Radio that will broadcast tornado watches and warnings, and practice with your family where to go in your home if a tornado warning is issued. Learn more about preparing for tornadoes.

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Floods

The most common natural disaster in the United States, flooding can happen anywhere, anytime. Depending on where you live, your flood risk might be greater during certain seasons. Coastal areas are at greater risk during hurricane season, the Midwest is at greater risk during in the spring and summer heavy rains, the Northeast and Northwest are at greater risk when ice jams occur in the spring, and the Southwest is at risk during the monsoon season in late summer.

Determine your flood risk and know what to do if a flood occurs where you live. Have a plan and evacuation route, and practice them before an emergency occurs. Learn more about preparing for floods.

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(Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency. “America’s PrepareAthon!” http://www.community.fema.gov/connect.ti/AmericasPrepareathon; Westerling, A.L. et al. ”Warming and Earlier Spring Influence Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity.” Science. 313 (2006): 940-943)

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