FLASH Unveils New Smartphone APP

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FLASH Unveils New Mitigation and Preparedness Smartphone App at 2013 National Hurricane Conference

App provides peril-based mitigation and preparedness tools and weather forecasting functions with the added value of NOAA weather radio technology.

As the National Hurricane Conference kicks off in New Orleans today; FLASH released “FLASH Weather Alerts” the first-ever precision, severe weather alert smartphone app that includes home mitigation and family preparedness information, videos and consumer support in English and Spanish.  The app combines bilingual preparedness and mitigation content with the powerful performance of a GPS, precision text – to – speech severe weather warnings.  Users can choose only one, or up to 100 alert options from flood, hurricane and tornado to wildfire and more.

Weather Features of FLASH Weather Alerts:

  • Local weather forecasts for seven days including hourly updates with temperature, precipitation and humidity
  • Severe weather alerts for up to six saved locations in the United States
  • Location-based alerting using smartphone GPS and local cellular towers to pinpoint locations making alerts more precise, reducing false alerts
  • Built in radar maps with animation, watch/warning boxes and hurricane cone of probability provide additional information for alerted users
  • Exclusive live video streaming from the National Hurricane Center and local television affiliates (where available) providing connectivity if cable, satellite or local TV is unavailable.
  • Devices automatically wake up when alerts are issued and text to speech feature speaks the alert to the user (preserves safety while driving)
  • Customizable alerts with more than 100 severe weather hazards including:
    • Floods and flash flood
    • Hurricane watches and warnings
    • Lightning (coming soon)
    • Marine advisories
    • Severe thunderstorm
    • Tornado
    • Wildfires
    • Winter weather alerts and more

Mitigation and Preparedness Features of FLASH Weather Alerts:

  • Mitigation resources put information to make homes stronger and families safer in the palm of the user’s hand – in English and Spanish
  • Follow disaster safety discussions on FLASH Facebook and Twitter
  • “Current News” feed provides event-driven preparedness/mitigation tips as severe events unfold
  • Season-specific mitigation/preparedness information reaches users when they need it most

All app features are included in the one-time price of $7.99 and will not require any additional in app purchases.  FLASH Weather Alerts is now available from the Apple AppStore and Google Play store for a reduced cost of $4.99 through Friday, March 29, 2013.

For more information visit  www.flashweatheralerts.org.

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.

Hurricane Irene Flood Cleanup Tips

In response to ongoing flooding from Hurricane Irene, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following cleanup and safety tips for families returning to flooded homes:

Insurance Tips

  • Damage from floods is typically only covered by flood insurance.
  • Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims.
  • If you need evidence of damaged items, remove them from the home and save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster.

Structural Considerations

  • Check for building stability before entry; sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse.
  • Take pictures of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.
  • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
  • Empty basement water at a rate of about one-third per day to avoid structural damage to foundation by rapid pressure change.
  • To avoid warping, dry all wood doors by removing from hinges, lying flat with wood shims between and allowing to air dry completely. Remove all knobs and hardware first and disinfect.
  • Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark.

Home Air Quality Considerations and Mold Prevention

  • Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores.
  • Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces.
  • Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely.
  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces including cupboard interiors, doors, walls, window sills and tracks with a solution of one-half cup of bleach or bleach alternative to two gallons of water. Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfecting the sliders and the tracks.
  • Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer’s directions and apply to entire surface.
  • Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped.

Cleanup Tips

  • Liquid cleaners can remove mud, silt and greasy deposits. Liquid detergents work on washable textiles. Use diluted bleach or bleach alternative if item is safe for bleach.
  • To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back into the house. Although the drying process can take a long time, homeowners should be patient because it is necessary to keep a home’s air quality healthy. Some household items may take longer than others to dry such as upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • The National Archives Website has information on how to clean your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage.