We had hail on the UConn campus in Storrs during last night’s storm, as did many other towns in the state. It serves as a reminder to prepare for storms and other events ahead of time. Visit the UConn EDEN and Ready.Gov websites for resources and information.
UConn EDEN is part of the nationwide EDEN system located at all the land-grant institutions, and is based-on four strategic goals:
(1) Enhance the abilities of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, businesses, and institutions prepare for, prevent, mitigate, and recover from disasters and emergencies.
(2) Serve as a statewide resource for university research-based disaster outreach education.
(3) Strengthen Extension’s capacity and commitment to address disaster and emergency preparedness issues.
(4) Strengthen Extension’s capacity to provide research-based disaster education and scholarship.
UConn Extension Educators from diverse disciplines respond to four program areas:
- agricultural disasters and security
- human health and emergency preparedness
- community preparedness and resiliency
- workplace emergency preparedness
Article by Mary Ellen Welch
Emergency preparedness is an issue for an increasing number of people and families. No matter the season, take steps in advance, and be ready for storms or other natural disasters. Personal experiences with storms – Tropical Storm Irene (2011), Sandy (2012) – and conditions that produce snow, winds, flooding and storm surge, serve as reminders. Weather events can impair your health and safety, limit access to roads, cause property and tree damage and loss of electricity.
At the Universities of Connecticut and Rhode Island, a team of Extension and Sea Grant educators is addressing coastal preparedness through a USDA-NIFA Special Needs grant. UConn Extension has created a preparedness education program to help people, including those with pets and livestock, prepare for storm emergencies. UConn Extension’s EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network) website contains a compilation of emergency preparedness resources designed by experts.
The collaborative team includes Mary Ellen Welch, disaster preparedness team leader; Robert Ricard, UConn EDEN team leader; Juliana Barrett, coastal preparedness; Karen Filchak, family and community development; Diane Wright Hirsch, food safety; Joyce Meader, dairy and livestock; Jenifer Nadeau, equine specialist; Faye Griffiths-Smith, family economics and resource management; and Pamela Rubinoff, University of Rhode Island, coastal resilience specialist.
Pamela Rubinoff is developing Rapid PACE (rapid Property Assessment of Coastal Exposure), a storm mapping, assessment and planning tool, so municipal officials, coastal communities and residents can assess potential storm hazards. The tool aggregates existing high resolution map data from multiple sources and will generate user friendly reports that summarize the potential impacts of storms upon specific parcels of land in coastal Rhode Island.
In Connecticut, focus groups met in four coastal communities – East Lyme, Old Lyme, Groton and Stonington. A diverse group of community representatives participated – fire marshals, emergency/health managers, social services, school and library personnel, housing/senior center directors and beach association members. Their knowledge about local residents and resources is guiding the team to reach audiences with functional needs; people living alone without family nearby; people with limited English proficiency; part-time residents or visitors; the large and mobile military service population; seniors and families.
Juliana Barrett is assisting communities with finding new ways to reach both their year round residents and transient populations who might be on vacation for a weekend or a couple of weeks. By developing flyers for rental units with pertinent information, she hopes to engage people in what to do and where to go should an emergency occur.
“Prepare your family now so they will feel in control when severe weather arises,” affirms Faye Griffiths-Smith. “Have emergency kits as well as a plan for communicating if you are separated. A pre-determined place you will go can make dealing with a stressful situation more manageable. Review these plans and your emergency supplies periodically.”
Karen Filchak recommends, “Think about and prepare for situations where property may be damaged, lost or destroyed. Do you have insurance information for repairs, records to prove ownership of a vehicle that floated away or documents to prove the value of the contents of your home? Having the appropriate documents and financial information will help in recovery from the impacts of a destructive event.”
Food and water safety/provisions is a health issue during and after storms. The UConn Extension Food Safety website has publications on: pre-storm shopping, whether you should keep or discard food during a power outage and what to do if garden produce becomes flooded. Interior and exterior household preparation may limit loss and can impact your health and comfort during storms.
The UConn EDEN website contains pet friendly advice about necessary pet provisions whether staying at home or away. “Livestock typically are housed in their barns during storms,” indicates Joyce Meader. “Keep barns in good structural condition so they will protect animals and keep them safe.”
“It is never too early to begin planning for the possibility of a disaster,” advocates Jenifer Nadeau. “Hopefully you never have to experience one, but being prepared is half the battle.” A microchipping clinic is being offered this fall as an additional way to help identify horses.
UConn Extension has received a two-year grant from USDA-NIFA to work with residents in four Southeastern Connecticut coastal communities promoting storm (coastal or heavy precipitation event) preparedness. The coastal communities of Connecticut and Rhode Island are impacted by flooding, storm surge, and wind causing property damage during major storm events such as nor’easters and hurricanes. The Universities of Connecticut and Rhode Island are collaborating to provide preparedness education and planning support for select communities including town officials, commissions and residents. The multistate team will target densely populated coastal towns and will conduct assessments of vulnerability, determine risks, and identify how the risks can be mitigated through preparatory actions. One of the primary goals is to educate citizens, towns, and businesses to make sound decisions in advance of storms.
assess and protect vulnerable properties, including residential, common community, business and agricultural properties. Extension and Sea Grant Educators will offer workshops on community preparedness, family preparedness, assembling a family emergency kit and go pack, family financial emergency records preparation, and household preparation. Another goal is to introduce Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) materials to these populations to make them familiar with these online resources and those available through land grant universities and agencies such as NIFA/HUD, FEMA and Red Cross. We will identify and market existing on-line resources and apps to deal with property impacts before and after storms in the selected communities. Stonington has been identified as the 2016 pilot community for the project.
The UConn Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) website is live. Check it out and discover the resources available for families, communities, workplaces and agriculture.
Would you know what to do if someone in your office, meeting, class, program, or even your home became unconscious and had no pulse? Five more members of UConn Hartford Extension Center would. Weston Forbes, Diane LaBonia, Marilyn Diaz, Mary-Margaret Gaudio, and Christine Smith, participated in a training course on December 14th and are now certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) in the HeartSaver® program in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator).
CPR is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The AHA recommends that everyone — lay people and medical personnel alike — begin CPR with chest compressions and to be trained in effective CPR. Knowledge and effective use of an AED increases good outcomes in the chain of survival of a victim in cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The five hour class was conducted by Cindy Tuttle, RN, a nurse educator at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire,
and a certified AHA instructor, and assisted by Bob Ricard, Senior Extension Educator, and an AHA instructor-in-training. The course was part of required training for staff from the CYFAR Tools for Healthy Living after school program.
Conducting this course for other Extension staff is also a goal of the UConn EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network) to increase workplace disaster and emergency preparedness.
For further information and details, contact Bob. (firstname.lastname@example.org)