Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Earthquake safety revisited

Watching the amateur and CCTV footage from the Nepal earthquake, I thought it was a good idea to revisit some safety concepts:

NZ, Wikimedia Commons

If you live or travel in an earthquake-prone area, don't be in a brick building if you can possibly help it. California legislates against building with brick, and its historical brick buildings are retrofitted, but in places like Memphis and St. Louis and Seattle, which could experience a terrible earthquake, there are unreinforced brick buildings that will kill thousands in a bad quake.

If an earthquake hits, the correct behavior is: STOP. DROP. COVER. HOLD ON. This will give you the best chance of surviving without injury.

Immediately drop and crawl under the heaviest piece of furniture you are near, hang on with one hand, and keep your head protected with the other arm. Again and again, in videos of every earthquake, I see people running toward glass doors and walls. That's the very stupidest thing you could do and results in many serious cuts. One of these days, you'll see someone beheaded that way on film--please don't be that person. In Nepal, people were running for doors in such a panic, there were surely more injuries from the crush there than there would have been had they dropped under a table, or even just stayed where they were. Outside, windows, bricks, and gargoyles from buildings can rain down on you, so in a city, outside is less safe than inside.

Even in a brick home, unless you're right at the door, you likely won't have time to get out. If you grab your kid or your purse and head out, by the time you're on the lawn, the shaking will likely have stopped. It's still better to crawl under the desk or dining room table and wait out the seconds of the quake.

This is worth practicing with your family or office, too. Set aside a time for a drill, or use the worldwide Shakeout  (http://www.shakeout.org/) on October 15. Drop, cover, and hold on. If you're practiced, you'll be less likely to panic.

I like my readers! Please, all of you, stay safe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tornado emergency preparation

In North America, it's tornado season, and it will be for six more months.

Wikipedia Commons

Some reminders on preparation for these killer storms:
  • Make your emergency plan now and discuss it with your family
  • Find your "safe room," the best place in your home to survive a tornado
  • Know where the designated shelter is at work or school
  • Have a contact person and meeting place for your family at least a few miles away from home, should your home be destroyed and the cell phone towers taken down, too, preventing phone calls
  • Prepare your emergency kit: a gallon of water per person and per pet, a battery-operated radio (a NOAA weather radio is ideal), canned food with pop tops and crackers and peanut butter (or equivalent), life-saving medicines, plastic bags for waste, work gloves, and a flashlight. This is the very minimum you should have, and you can google for more information on tornado emergency kits
  • Keep photocopies of driver's licenses, insurance information, birth certificates, and other important information either at a relative's house, in a safety deposit box, or scanned and in the cloud
  • Listen to the broadcast warnings and obey them
  • Don't risk your life getting a video for youtube of a funnel cloud bearing down on you
  • Obey police and fire when they tell you not to enter an area or structure, no matter how panicked you are about loved ones or how curious
  • Don't be a tornado tourist if there's destruction near you. It's rude at best, dangerous to you and others, and places unnecessary strain on first responders who might be saving lives instead of trying to police you
  • If you loot tornado victims, expect to be shot, and prosecuted, and shunned by decent people thereafter

Stay safe!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Natural Disaster History: Mt. Tambora

Mt. Tambora, Gialiang Gao, from Wikipedia Commons

The largest volcanic event in recorded history happened 200 years ago April 10, at Mt. Tambora, in Indonesia. 11,000 died directly as a result of the eruption, and over 100,000 eventually died from effects of the eruption.

175 cubic kilometers of volcanic debris spewed out of the mountain, mostly over just 3 days. The ash plume was, at its most impressive, 33-43 km tall. The energy released was 2.2 million times that of the Hiroshima atom bomb. The eruption was similar in force to the one that created Crater Lake

By Arcataroger from Wikipedia Commons
The mountain was about the size of Mt. Rainier before the eruption.

Cullen328 from Wikipedia Commons
The aerosols stayed around for two years, causing lower global temperatures, creating famine that killed many thousands of people, and creating spectacular sunsets, some of which have been preserved in paintings like this:

Will Tamboro erupt again? You can bank on that. Will there be another volcano as powerful, another VEI-7 eruption? You can bank on that, too, and one may well happen within your lifetime, though probably with another mountain.

You can read much more about this eruption in Gillen D'Arcy Wood, Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Proofreading news

Hello, fans!

Because of the success of Gray this past month, I can now afford better proofreading services. Thank you to my readers for helping me get to this point. If I could shake every one of your hands in thanks, I would. I'm getting Quake and Erupt proofread this week and next, and by the first of May they should be as error-free as human effort can make them.

If you keep your updates turned on when you buy indie books (and not just mine), you can always have the best, current version of those books. Not every indie author has the money in hand to pay what can be thousands for developmental editing or hundreds for proofing or hundreds or thousands for a professional cover. My budget certainly did not allow for any of that, except for a few pre-made covers.

A friend of mine joked with me a few years ago that we looked up at the poverty line with great longing, even awe: wow, maybe we can be up there one day! I'm still laughing, not whining, about that. I made the choice to be poor, and I made the choice not to seek any governmental assistance when I was. But a decade of living on very little (often only $350 US per month), while it left me with time to write, did not leave me with a big pile of loot to pay for the launch of the books I had written during that time. Now, I can return my profits into the business and offer readers a better product. (Getting a phone can wait, right? I've lived without for many years, so it must not be that important.) Maybe I'll even be able to afford a real website by the end of 2015.

I thank you for your patience, and I thank you for your patronage. And a grateful shout-out to my family and friends who did my proofing these past six months. (No one proofs the blog but me--we'll all have to live with the occasional typo here.) Now...back to drafting the last chapters of Gray II, which I hope to have out in June.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Madrid Quake

4.0 earthquake yesterday evening in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

It is still an active fault. And look at that shake map, for only a 4.0. People in the NMSZ, please let it shake you into putting together your earthquake survival kit.