Another Sandbag Alternative

While writing the previous post on Floodsax, I saw this Quickdams product line on Amazon.  Depending on your personal home/business situation, it may be a better choice.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 5.11.03 PM.png



Sandless Sandbags Available at Red Cross

I saw these while surfing the web and wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention.  These sandbags are lightweight (1 pound), compact, easy to store, and water activated.  With a ten-year storage life, these bags are vacuum sealed until time of use.  $62/pack of five from Red Cross, $156 pack/five from Amazon.

Link for more information.


Belmont Sandbag Stations

Sandbag stations are available in Belmont for the wet weather. img_2428

CERT Response to Tubbs Fire

I found this article on Sebastopol CERT response to the Tubbs fire:
“Elsewhere throughout the city, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members provided extra eyes on the neighborhoods, looking for any floating embers from the fires blowing smoke and ash from north Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, according to CERT member and former mayor Craig Litwin.  “It was rewarding to see people gather together,” Litwin said. “It restored my faith in humanity.”

According to Braga, roughly 300 CERT members were emailed at 3:30 a.m., five hours after the Tubbs fire first broke out. Fifteen minutes later, CERT members began to show up at the fire station, ready to help.  “It was just an incredible response,” Braga said.

CERT filled in the gaps as emergency responders since many members of the volunteer Sebastopol Fire Department crew were called out to fight the fires. According to Braga, over the course of 12 days, 22 Sebastopol firefighters fought for 1,700 hours.”

Redwood Shores Exercise Nov 18

Date: Saturday, November 18
Time: 9:00am to 1:00pm
Location: 303 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, 94065

As part of an emergency drill, CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) and other local emergency personnel will complete a neighborhood damage assessment, documenting via geocode the number location of Disaster Signal Cards displayed.  (For the purposes of this drill, residents were asked to display the GREEN ‘OK’ side.)  This exercise tests an innovative approach to surveying a large area quickly and reducing response times following a disaster and providing important information to the City of Redwood City Emergency Operations Center.

This is our 6th year conducting this drill and we appreciate the assistance of the community and the trained CERT members.  This is one more opportunity to encourage people to start thinking about disaster preparedness. Thank you for your help with this important emergency drill.

Gear Tip: LED “Slap Lights”


Just got a few of these lights from Amazon, they are lights that you can slap on your wrist or ankles for extra illumination after dark when out running or just walking the dog.  I saw them and thought it would be handy to have on your CERT backpack or gear bag for extra visibility during emergencies.   Affordable at $14 for a set of four, runtime with the battery is approx 60 hours.

Free Flu Shots

Looking for a Flu clinic? This Saturday, November 4th, the Health System is hosting four FREE walk-in #flu clinics throughout San Mateo County:

Coastside Senior Housing
925 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, California
8:30am – 10:30am

Ravenswood Family Health Center
1885 Bay Road
City of East Palo Alto
8:30am – 12:00pm

Fair Oaks Community Center
2600 Middlefield Road
City of Redwood City
10:00am – 1:00pm

Belmont Library
1110 Alameda de las Pulgas
City of Belmont CA
10:00am – 1:00pm

Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall

I want to make sure everyone is aware of a fire extinguisher recall that was announced today (November 2, 2017).  The recall is aimed at plastic handle fire extinguishers,  involving 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973 and August 15, 2017.  Link to recall details.

I just inspected our home extinguishers and fortunately none are on the list, even though one has a plastic handle.  When shopping for extinguishers, I have been advised to buy those with metal components.


Landlines or Cellular During a Disaster?

For some time now, the conventional wisdom has been to recommend to people that they have at least one hardwired landline phone in your house (we still do) for post-disaster communications.  Well, that may have to be updated.  In 2016 a milestone was reached when surveys indicated that only 45.9 percent of U.S. homes still have landline phones.

Evidence show that cell networks did relatively well after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thanks in part to the lessons the carriers have learned from dealing with past disasters. Per an article: “For instance, AT&T and Verizon made sure to top off fuel in backup generators at cell sites. They staged refueling trucks in predetermined sites near the affected area to ensure they could get out after the storm passed to refuel those generators in case commercial power was lost. This was a major issue in previous storms, like Katrina, where cell sites that had backup power ran out of fuel.”

Sideline: Houston emergency services utilized satellite phones after Harvey which worked okay until Irma hit Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico.  Now you have three communities trying to use satellite phones and apparently there were some issues with the network due to the amount of traffic.

For the most part, a landline should still function without power compared to a local cellular network.  However, should a landline system be physically damaged in a disaster, the repair effort is considerable compared to a cell network where they just hang new equipment on the tower and be back in business rather quickly.  Lack of power is one of the primary reasons cellular systems go down, Puerto Rico is one example.

With so many folks using cellular as their only phone service, what emergency preparedness advice should we be giving now?  If we assume that wireless networks are going to recover faster than landline, power will be a driving factor.  A cellphone with a dead battery is not going to help anyone. I recommend that folks get an external battery pack (left photo, below), they are readily available nowadays and have become fairly inexpensive. Depending on the size of the pack, you might get 2-4 smartphone charges out of one.  I have many battery packs around the house, but also have a portable solar panel charger (middle photo).  I also have larger solar panels that charge a larger portable power unit that can keep our phones and ham radio charged up.

Disaster Response Teams in Sonoma County

I was talking to my brother about the Santa Rosa fire and he asked if their CERT had been employed. I wasn’t sure so I just decided to look into it and I found this interesting article. A real pity that the CERT program hasn’t been able to succeed in that area   considering the threats they face especially in light of what has happened with the fire. I’m very glad our San Mateo County teams are active and engaged.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.19.30 PM.png to share this article I found regarding the state of CERT teams in Sonoma County