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August, 2012:

Hurricane Season, Again!

Hurricane season is here! And a Hurricane is heading towards the US as I write. Hurricane Isaac is expected to make its way into the Gulf of Mexico and send rain, winds and high surf up the West Coast of Florida, the Florida pan-handle and the Alabama coast. Depending on how long the storm is over the warm Gulf waters, the storm could increase in intensity before landfall. So now is the time to get ready!

And are you prepared? Just what does “prepared” mean when we talk about hurricanes and other severe weather during the summer and early fall? Can we truly prepare for a disaster? Well, yes we can and it is that preparation that often makes a difference in how we survive the storm and then cope the following days.

Severe storms come in different forms all over the world. From Hurricanes to Tornadoes to Severe Thunder Storms to Ice Storms and Blizzards, severe weather affects everyone at some time in the year. And let us not forget wild fires and forest fires along with earthquakes. All of these are catalysts for changes in our behavior and lifestyle for a few days to months. How well you are prepared for these changes ahead of time affects how well you manage after the event.

Every Severe Weather Event is different.Having been through 4 Hurricanes in a row, each 3 weeks apart, in 2004, I can tell you from experience that each storm was very different.Starting with Charley, who banged on my home with 100+ MPH winds for over 30 minutes and dumped more rain than I can imagine in the two days of him being around the state. Each storm hit from a different direction, bring winds at different speeds and angles, hitting the house. Rain came in at unusual places, like down drainpipes and air vents.

I was not as prepared as I should have been, but I had the basics down even then:

My vehicle was fueled and ready to roll should I have to evacuate. Back into your garage so exiting will be easier should you need to leave.

I had cat carriers ready for the trip along with cat food, litter and their Vet papers.

My important papers were together in a water proof box in my safe place (interior powder room on the ground floor).

Food and water were ready as were clothing should we need to move quickly.  Protein Shakes, snack bars, peanut butter, crackers, apples, bananas and utensils were packed. I also had cleaning supplies in small quantities.

I even had plastic buckets for putting the furniture up high off the floor should flooding become an issue. Soft goods were moved to the top floor in plastic Space Bags when possible.

Doors and windows were covered as much as I could by myself, and the garage door was secured and braced.

I had a portable battery operated TV (now useless since the Digital Revolution has taken over, so much for progress!) along with flash lights and extra batteries. Now I even have a wind-up radio with weather band and AM/FM channels.

Cell phones were charged since you can text if voice is down.  Have a car charger too, just in case the power is off for more than a few days.  Solar charges are great to have, more expensive, but very useful in an emergency.

NOAA radios are a must. You need to know the changes in the path of the storm, since they do wobble around, not on a straight path.

Have tarps, plastic sheeting, ropes, duck tape, hammer and nails, ladder and anything else that might help you secure your home after the storm has passed. Be Careful.

So my main message is to be prepared for those coming storms whether they are cold weather or hot weather storms, fires or earthquakes. It takes a few hours each year to update your food and water supply, refresh your clothing, add paperwork as necessary and refresh your plan!

Be Smart: Get ready and be safe. You can survive if you think and act ahead of the storm.

SPF and Sun Exposure

Summer is here and we are in the midst of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games where the majority of the sports are held outside.  Even some of those that are inside sports have training options that are outside.  The increase in skin cancer of the past 30+ years has been attributed to many things.

The first questions to ask are What is SPF? and how do I use SPF  to my advantage?

WHAT IS SPF? SPF means sun protection factor. If you wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, you have 15 times the protection from the sun than you’d have if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen at all.   In other words,if you would burn after 10 minutes in the sun with no protection, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun for two and a half hours (10 minutes times SPF 15 = 150 minutes or two and a half hours) before burning.

Keep in mind that you would still receive a burn! Sunscreens don’t give you license to stay forever in the sun. Also remember that sunscreens aren’t cumulative: if you combine a moisturizer with SPF 15 with a sunscreen product with SPF 15, your sun protection factor is still 15, not 30. Virtually all sunscreens protect against UVB radiation — in addition, some products screen out a small part of the UVA spectrum.

Apply UVA/UVB protection every day, indoors and out. Statistics prove that most UV exposure occurs when we’re not even thinking about it. Be sure to cover ALL areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun: remember the top of ears and forehead, bald spot, tops of feet when wearing sandals, and the back of neck and hands. The recommended daily precaution is SPF 15; use a higher SPF if you’ll be outdoors for two hours or longer.

How do I Minimize UV Exposure Risks?

1.  Avoid exposure between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. when the sun is most intense.

2.  Count time spent in the water or out on hazy days as time in the sun. Water lets nearly all UV rays through, and even on cloudy days nearly 80% of the sun’s rays can reach you.

3.  Don’t depend on clothing or shade for protection. Wet and light-colored clothing offer little or no UV protection. Also remember that light reflects: sitting under a beach umbrella can create the same UV exposure as direct sun.

What can I do daily to help my skin?

Apply UVA/UVB protection every day, indoors and out. Statistics prove that most UV exposure occurs when we’re not even thinking about it. Be sure to cover ALL areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun: remember the top of ears and forehead, bald spot, tops of feet when wearing sandals, and the back of neck and hands. The recommended daily precaution is SPF 15; use a higher SPF if you’ll be outdoors for two hours or longer.

Boost your skin’s natural defenses against environmental pollutants. Researchers agree that the same nutrients which protect your health also play a vital role in the vitality and appearance of your skin. Look for products that provide nutrients for the skin to help reverse the effects of sun damage.

So enjoy the sun and be aware of the ways to stay safe while having fun in the sun!

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