Enter for Your Chance to Win a Kohler Generator in ‘Great Hurricane Blowout’ Sweepstakes

One lucky family will win a Kohler standby generator and professional installation, a prize totaling nearly $8,000, in the Great Hurricane Blowout Sweepstakes sponsored by Kohler Power Systems and FLASH.

Now through November 30, 2011, FLASH is accepting sweepstakes entries through its Great Hurricane Blowout Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/ghblowout, or by mail at Kohler Power Systems, Great Hurricane Blowout Sweepstakes, MS 072, 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI  53044 (for full sweepstakes rules and eligibility requirements, visit www.facebook.com/ghblowout).

The Great Hurricane Blowout is a FLASH initiative that encourages the use of proven hurricane preparedness tools such as family plans, hurricane emergency kits and tips for making structurally stronger homes. The program is sponsored by Kohler Power Systems and State Farm®.

From tornadoes to floods and hurricanes, this year’s dramatic weather has demonstrated how power outages can further complicate an already challenging situation. Power outages resulting from a hurricane or other severe weather event can leave residents without power for hours and even days. More people than ever are turning to generators not only to protect their homes and families, but to ensure access to the many technologies, including cell phones and computers, that play increasingly important roles in our lives today.

Generators, such as those offered by Kohler Power Systems, provide all of the emergency backup power necessary to keep homes running smoothly and protect them from damage such as failed sump pumps, lack of heat or air conditioning and loss of refrigerated foods.  A reliable back-up power source allows us to stay in our homes during a power outage, placing less stress on our families and leaving emergency responders free to help others in need.

For more information about staying safe and stress free during a power outage, visit No Power, No Problem at the Great Hurricane Blowout website

If You See Something, Say Something™

It was in July 2010 that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the national “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign. When originally created by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the slogan was thought to be a simple and effective way to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to proper law enforcement authorities.

Now, 10 years following the 9/11 tragedy, “If You See Something, Say Something” has grown to underscore the idea that homeland security begins with hometown security, where an alert public plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe – not only in manmade disasters like 9/11 but also in natural disasters. And it is our observation that the notion that safety, security and even survival are byproducts of intentional, advance activities is slowly taking hold.

Luck never hurts, but when people survive a disaster, when homes don’t break apart in a hurricane or tornado, it is because someone did something purposely beforehand to increase their odds.

With overnight news of increased threats to New York and Washington D.C., as we confront the somber occasion of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and in a year that has seen some of the most devastating natural disasters in history, FLASH salutes the heroics of first responders everywhere — and all of our partners in the disaster safety movement — for their unyielding efforts and dedication to make America a safer place to live. They “see,” “say” and “do” something for us all — every day.

Reduce Flood Risk with Better Building Options

As the northeast continues to recover from the devastating flooding from Hurricane Irene and rains from Tropical Storm Lee causing significant flooding across the southeast, FLASH encourages families to consider building options to keep dangerous floodwaters out of homes.

Flooding is the most common and deadly natural disaster in the U.S., however, there are options for reducing flood risk.  Those looking to reduce their flood risk should know their options for making their homes flood resistant.

Wet floodproofing and dry floodproofing are two methods for mitigating against flood.  Both provide families with long-term security and peace of mind that can come with implementing measures that protect their homes and keep their families safe.  However, it’s important to remember that “floodproofing” does not mean that damage is not going to happen.  It means the damage may be reduced and that the structure is made more flood or water-resistant.

Wet Floodproofing

Wet floodproofing makes uninhabited parts of your home resistant to flood damage when water is allowed to enter during flooding.  If your property is being remodeled or repaired, consider having a veneer added as part of the remodeling or repair work.  It will probably be less expensive to complete these projects at the same time rather than having them done separately.  The advantage of wet floodproofing is that it is less costly than other retrofits, no additional land is required and it does not affect the appearance of the house.   An example of wet floodproofing is to:

  • Install flood vents to create permanent openings in the foundation walls. This retrofit requires at least two vents on different walls. The size of the vents must be one square inch per square feet of enclosed floor area.  For example, a 1,000 square-foot house would require seven square feet of flood vents.
  • Add a waterproof veneer to the exterior walls and seal all openings including doors to prevent the entry of water.  The veneer can consist of a layer of brick backed by a waterproof membrane.

Dry Floodproofing

One way to protect a structure and its contents from flood damage is to seal the building so that flood waters cannot enter keeping the home interior and its contents dry.  This method is referred to as dry floodproofing.  Dry floodproofing is appropriate primarily for slab-on-grade buildings with concrete or solid masonry walls.  Concrete and masonry are easier to seal, more resistant to flood damage and stronger than other conventional construction materials.  Some examples of dry floodproofing include:

  • Applying a waterproof coating or membrane to the exterior walls of the building
  • Installing backflow valves in sanitary and storm sewer lines
  • Raising utility system components, machinery and other pieces of equipment above the flood level
  • Anchoring fuel tanks and other storage tanks to prevent flotation
  • Installing a sump pump and foundation drain system

In addition to floodproofing options, anyone at risk for flooding should also consider purchasing flood insurance.  Flood damage is typically not covered by traditional homeowners insurance.  Families interested in learning more should visit www.floodsmart.gov.

For more flood and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at www.flash.org.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown

In anticipation of heavy rains and potential flooding due to Tropical Storm Lee, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH) and the National Weather Service reminds families to Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

More deaths occur due to flooding each year than from any other thunderstorm or hurricane related hazard. Many of these casualties are a result of careless or unsuspecting motorists who attempt to navigate flooded roads. Follow these safety rules

  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
  • Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.
  • Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. NEVER drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Water only two feet deep can float away most automobiles.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather related information.

More information on flood safety is available through the National Weather Service, http://www.noaa.gov/floods.htm, or the Federal Alliance For Safe Homes, http://www.flash.org.

Debunking the Five Most Dangerous Hurricane Preparedness Myths

As 2011 hurricane season peaks with the passing of Hurricane Irene and the looming threat of Tropical Storm Katia, FLASH is stepping up its efforts to stamp out the top five most dangerous hurricane preparedness myths.

MYTH #1:  Masking tape, duct tape or window film prevents damage and protects families.

FACT:  Placing tape on glass is a waste of time.  Masking tape does not protect windows from wind-borne debris.  Some believe tape or film may help keep broken glass shards from dispersing.  This is wrong.  When high winds or projectiles hit windows, masking tape can and has caused large, taped segments of glass to blow into homes causing injury to those in the path.  Also, taping windows wastes precious time that could be used for more effective storm preparations, never mind how much of a mess tape is to clean up.  To provide effective protection, all windows and openings such as entry doors, garage doors, and gable end vents should be covered with tested and approved panels or shutters, or be built of impact-resistant materials.  Homes without permanent hurricane protection can be adequately protected on a temporary basis with properly placed 5/8” plywood in an emergency.

MYTH #2:  Light candles if power goes out.

FACT:  NEVER use candles or gas or oil lanterns during a storm; they increase risk of fire or ignition of damaged, leaking gas lines.  If a fire starts in your home during the storm, firefighters may not be able to respond.  Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns and canned heat.  Never use a barbecue grill indoors.

MYTH #3:  Crack or open windows to allow wind pressure inside the house thus equalizing the pressure outside and preventing damage.

FACT:  Opening windows simply allows the wind, debris and rain to enter the home.  It’s a myth that has perpetuated because of the way buildings appear to fail in high winds. Today, experts and wind scientists agree that the most important thing to do is keep all windows and doors closed to prevent wind from entering and causing internal pressurization.

MYTH #4:  Protect only windows and doors facing the ocean.

FACT:  Wind can come from any direction or angle and may change direction quickly.  Don’t play the prediction game.  Instead, use approved panels or shutters.  Impact-resistant windows, shutters and doors should have a proof of compliance identified on a sticker or label, or imprinted into the product. Check to be sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely.

MYTH #5:  Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home.

FACT:  Sandbags may channel or direct water away from a home, but only if they are properly filled, placed and maintained.  Fill sandbags only half full, tap into place and limit placement to three layers.

For more hurricane and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at www.flash.org.