Friday, July 19, 2013

Natural Disasters: Understanding What They Are and How They Work

Do you know what natural disasters your home may be vulnerable to? Below are three things you may need to prepare for:

Hurricanes



Hurricane Charley 3
Image via Flickr by ShutterSparks


South America and West Africa along the South Atlantic Ocean are really the only coasts that are technically hurricane free. In the Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Western Pacific Oceans, hurricane season runs from May through November. The shores around the South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean are more vulnerable from winter to spring.

How Hurricanes Happen

Hurricanes form when warm, moist air rises rapidly from the water, hitting and affecting the cooler air above it. The result is something like a tornado over the water. A hurricane will start as a thunderstorm, heading through three storm stages before officially becoming a hurricane with winds over 74 mph.

How to Prepare

Install sturdy shutters for your windows and doors long before hurricane season comes along to be ready. This is especially important since high winds can destroy your house from within by putting pressure on the roof from the inside.

For houses located more inland, flooding is a major problem. Most cities will provide sandbagging material for you. Be sure to check your homeowner's insurance rate report to see that you have flood insurance as well.

Earthquakes

After the surprise earthquake in Japan in 2011, scientists have redefined places at a high risk of earthquakes. This includes the western coast of North and South America and the eastern coast of Asia and Australia/Oceania.

How Earthquakes Happen

Earthquakes happen as the earth's crust readjusts itself. It begins when two tectonic plates rub against each other at a fault line. One plate may begin to bend, eventually snapping to relieve the resulting tension.

How to Prepare

The best thing you can do to make your home safer in the event of an earthquake is to retrofit your home by bolting the wooden frame of the house to its concrete foundations. This will help keep the house from shifting off the foundation. You can also keep the inside of your house more secure by bolting tall and heavy furniture to the wall.

Hail Storms



Hail storm
Image via Flickr by definity_falls


A common problem in the U.S. Great Plains, hail forms during thunderstorms with high winds. Golf-ball-sized hail is common in this area and can damage roofs and break windows in addition to destroying crops.

How Hail Storms Form

Hail forms in thunderstorms with a cold front. Small ice pellets drop down from the storm and bond with liquid rain. Updrafts pull the ice pellet and attached droplets higher into the sky where the colder temperatures freeze them together.

Gravity brings the stone back down, where more rain drops attach to it before it is pulled back up to colder temperatures. Hailstones get increasingly larger as they are tossed between the warm and cold temperatures. Consequently, the higher the winds of a hail storm, the bigger the hailstones.

How to Prepare

The roof of a house is most commonly damaged by hail. Thankfully, there are standards that can help you get the roofing that is most likely withstand hail, such as Class 4 roofing or higher. To protect yourself and your indoor possessions during a hailstorm, close blinds and curtains in case a window breaks.

What natural disasters have you encountered? How did you prepare for them?



JT Ripton is a prepper, survivalist and freelance writer. He's currently prepping for the seemingly increasing amount of natural disasters and the inevitable economic collapse, that he thinks will break down the fabric of society.



Resources:

AccuWeather.com - When and Where do Hurricanes Occur?
About.com - What Causes Hurricanes?
NOAA - Hurricane Preparedness - Hazards
The Washington Post - Seismic hazards: Japan earthquake and other tectonic surprises challenge scientific assumptions
Science Daily - Great-Earthquake Hot Spots Pinpointed
The Weather Channel - Hail

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