Saturday, December 3, 2011

Register Your Favorite Resources with KateNation

Do you have a favorite organization or resource you would like to include in the KateNation Disaster Resource Finder?  Help us help disaster survivors by adding your own resource!   The first step is to register as a KateNation Scout.  After registering as a Scout, all you have to do is click the “Add your own resource” link on the home page.  From there you will be asked to complete a simple registration form.   The final step is to hit submit. 
Before adding a resource, please be sure to have the following information:
1.       Resource Name
2.       Address
3.       Phone
4.       Web Address
5.       Description
If you are a first time user, you will need to register as a KateNation Scout.  Registering is easy;  just follow the simple steps below:
1.       Click “Add your own resource”
2.       Select “Create New Account”
3.       Enter a user name and an email address
4.       Check your email for a welcome message
5.       Follow the link in your email to create a password.  
Thank you for helping people affected by disasters in your hometown and throughout the Nation! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The KateNation Disaster Resource Application

KateNation is working with TerpSys to develop a disaster resource application.  The one of a kind application will allow users to quickly and easily find disaster services based on their geographical location.  By simply entering a zip code, an individual’s location will be cross-referenced with a database of disaster service providers.  From food to shelter, debris removal to legal advice, the KateNation Disaster Resource Application will link users to available resources. 

This exciting new application will also allow retailers and individuals who are donating goods or services to upload their donation items in real time.  This interactive function will help KateNation to quickly map available recovery assistance and resources following a disaster.  The KateNation Disaster Resource Application will help to expedite the recovery process by connecting individuals and communities to resources and donors following a disaster of any size. 

KateNation is currently working to launch the new Disaster Resource Application by the end of October.  At KateNation, we believe that this tool will help to transform the disaster recovery process.  If you would to help us launch the application, KateNation is actively recruiting volunteers to assist with database population.  If you prefer to make a financial contribution, KateNation is thankful for your support.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The KateNation Disaster Supply Kit Building Contest

This September KateNation is celebrating the eighth annual National Preparedness Month by hosting a Disaster Supply Kit Building Contest!  At the end of the month, one randomly selected winner will receive a Kaito Voyager Solo KA650 Solar/Dynamo AM/FM//SW & NOAA Weather Emergency Radio with Alert & Cell Phone Charger.  This month you can join the preparedness campaign by focusing on home readiness and entering the KateNation contest.  To participate, simply follow the steps below:

Kaito Voyager Solo KA650

  1. Build or update your disaster supply kit. 
  2. Send a picture and a summary of your finished kit to

If you are building a disaster supply kit for the first time, check out this list of essential disaster supply kit items.  If you are working to update your disaster supply kit, please review this checklist.  Please note that all entries must be received by midnight on September 30, 2011.  One winner will be randomly selected and announced on the KateNation Blog on October 1, 2011.  For more information, see the official rules. 
Have fun and good luck!

Congratulations to our winner, David Riddy!  Thank you for updating your disaster supply kit and entering the KateNation contest. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Danger, Fallen Power Lines

This weekend Hurricane Irene took down power lines next to our house.  The power lines were live, wet, and dangerous.  To keep our neighborhood safe, Arlington Police blocked off the road with caution tape and a police vehicle until Dominion Power could make the repairs.  As there are millions of people without power in Virginia, the process took over five hours.  In total, Arlington Police made three shift changes before the lines were repaired.  Thankfully, all is well this morning.
Fallen Line Outside Our House
Down power lines are extraordinarily dangerous.  If you find one you should always assume they are live; direct contact with an active wire could severely injure or kill you.  To stay safe, I have listed important safety tips below.  For detailed information, please see the CDC’s flyer on electrical hazards.
  • Stay at least ten feet away from fallen power lines and NEVER touch the power line.
  • Immediately call the power company to report the incident.
  • Do not drive through water if there is a fallen power line in the water.
  • If a power line falls on your car and stalls the engine, do not turn off the engine or get out of your car.  Call 911 and the utility company to get help.  Warn people to not touch your car and wait for help to arrive. 
  • Do not remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire.  Electricity can travel through tree limbs making them unsafe to touch. 
Written By Kate Schweigart

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Family Disaster Plan and the Virginia Earthquake of 2011

I learned a thing or two about the importance of maintaining a family disaster plan during the “Great” Virginia Earthquake of 2011.  As I make my living in emergency planning, I like to think that I am prepared.  However, there is nothing like an actual event to test the validity of your plan.  

This is how the day unfolded; I was at work in Washington, DC on the tenth floor of a twelve story building when the earthquake started.  When I felt the first shake, I thought a crane struck my building - there is currently construction next door.  Then my tea spilled, the building started to sway, and I quickly realized that the shaking was not construction.  At that point, I made my way down the stairs and into a sea of people.  

As I walked to the office assembly area, I tried to call my husband, but the lines were congested.  I then tried to send him a text…no data.   It took me fifteen minutes to get a text message through.  He was safe, I was safe, but we had no way to contact our daughter’s daycare.  The lines were still overcrowded and at three, she does not know how to text. To make the situation a bit more interesting, we did not have access to our cars to pick her up.  Stranded in different cities, my husband and I had to wait for an all clear before we could retrieve our vehicles from underground parking garages.  

Thankfully, my husband’s building was soon temporarily reopened so that employees could get their personal items and vehicles.  When my building reopened, I made a landline phone call to our daycare and discovered that the kids were fine.  The teachers had been instructed to keep the children outside for the remainder of the day as they worked to assess the integrity of the building.  About 45 minutes later, my husband picked up our happy daughter who told him about the fun she had running outside without shoes!

Gratefully, at the end of the day, everyone was safe and I learned a lot.  Here are some of the lessons I walked away with:

  1. Prearranged Non-Family Daycare Pick-up:  In an emergency, if my husband and I are unavailable, I have made arrangements to have a local friend pick-up my daughter.  I have her name registered with the front office and I have signed paperwork that will allow her release. If my husband and I are stuck somewhere, we will at least have peace of mind knowing she is safe and in a comfortable home.
  2. Transportation Options Are Important: Driving home is not always an option.  I now know the combination of Metro and bus routes I would have to take home. The journey would be long but doable.  
  3. An Extra Pair of Shoes at the Office is Invaluable:  While Metro and bus are an important option, the reality is it might be faster to walk out of the District.  While I keep a disaster supply kit with an extra pair of shoes in my car, I now understand that my car may be off limits.  This week, I added a pair of shoes to my shelter-in-place kit at work (yes, the kit does include chocolate).
  4. Prearranged Family Agreements:  It took fifteen minutes for me to make contact with my husband.  That time span is relatively insignificant but it could have taken much longer. To simplify the on the spot decision making, we now have a default pick-up option for our daughter: if my husband is safe, he will always pick her up.  It makes sense for us as I work in the District and crossing the bridge could take hours. 
  5. Earthquake Safety:  Living in Arlington, earthquakes have not been on my radar.  I now know that in an earthquake you should take cover, hold on, and stay in your building until it stops shaking.  If you run outside, you have a greater chance of getting hit by falling debris.  When the building stops shaking, go outside.  Also, if you are outside when an earthquake starts, stay outside and move away from large structures.  

The Great Tea Spill

Written by Kate Schweigart

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mark the 9/11 Anniversary by Improving Your Emergency Preparedness

As we near the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the media’s coverage of the event is beginning to intensify.  It’s hard not to relive the memories of that terrible day:  where we were…how we responded…who we contacted…and how we got ourselves and our families through the day.  

What is perhaps most resounding, and what I hope gets significant focus on this important anniversary, is the perseverance displayed by the American people in the face of such terrible tragedy.   Despite unspeakable loss, Americans found a way to get through: to take care of themselves and to provide support and emergency assistance to their fellow countrymen. 

My family and I are striving to focus on this aspect of the September 11th anniversary.   We’re honoring those who were lost by pledging to enhance our own family’s fundamentally American traits of self reliance and preparedness.  Here are just a few things you can do mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks and prepare yourself and your family:

·          Develop a Family Emergency Plan.   I’m a big fan of thinking “outside the box” with this particular recommendation.  Written plans are great…and there’s a wealth of resources available to assist you with pulling together a really comprehensive emergency plan for your family ( is one).  But once your basic emergency information is recorded, I don’t think there is any substitute for sitting down and talking through a game plan with your family.  Really try to discuss things like meeting places, emergency contacts, and responsibilities (i.e., who will pick up the kids, arrange for pets, etc.).  This type of dialogue reinforces the plan as a “living document,” not just a collection of important information that sits on a shelf.

·          Make Emergency Supply Kits.  There are plenty of guidance documents out there on the importance of creating and maintaining an emergency supply kits.  Your local emergency management agency can oftentimes provide detailed guidance on the types of supplies best suited for disaster preparedness in your area.  But here’s another concept to think about:  in addition to preparing your home/office/car, spend some time creating a simple “kit” for your person.   Think about compiling important contacts, information on medical conditions/needs, maps of meeting points on a small wallet card or in the notes portion of your smart phone.  If you can (i.e., tote a  large purse, like me) carry a mini flashlight, first aid kit, and any medications you regularly take.  Having key contacts and supplies at your finger tips dramatically increases your level of preparedness.

·          Invest in Training.  CPR/first-aid training is not just important for the first responder community:  everyone should have these basic life-saving skills.  Let’s face it, even in jurisdictions with incredibly fast first response times, in the first few minutes after an emergency, we have to rely on ourselves and/or bystanders to provide that critical urgent care.  Regularly attending community-sponsored CPR and first-aid training classes is one way to ensure we can provide the best and most immediate assistance. 

·          Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Muscle Memory.  Seriously.  Walk an evacuation route.   Take a moment to track down the closest Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) at your grocery/gym/office. Practice sheltering in place or using the contents of your emergency supply kit.  During an emergency event, that “muscle memory” gained through practice and repetitive action will help get you through the initial fog of activity.   Spending several moments working through emergency procedures will pay dividends during a real event. 

Written by Guest Blogger: Kate Summers

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home Fire Drills, an Activity the Whole Family Can Love!

A workforce fire drill is a common practice but when was the last time you conducted a fire drill at home? Practicing evacuation routes with your family will help them react in an emergency. To prepare you should identify at least two ways out of every room. This might mean using a secondary route like a window or an escape ladder. The first time you pop off a screen or climb down the ladder should not be during an emergency.

At a minimum, families should conduct fire drills every six months. While the topic is serious, the process does not have to be scary. Make each fire drill part of a family activity. Start by bringing your family together in one room of your house. While you are all together, collectively discuss the possible escape routes from that room. Then add something to the scenario like smoke and ask your family how they would react. Finally, lead by example and crawl to the nearest door, making sure to check it for heat before you open it and exit.

At the end of each drill, ask your family to gather at the designated outdoor meeting area. From there you can continue your family activity by practicing the evacuation route to the nearest ice cream parlor. While there, your family can discuss the drill over a well deserved tasty treat.

For more information on how to plan escape routes, please print a copy of the National Fire Protection Association’s
Tip Sheet.

Written by Kate Schweigart