AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: Winter Weather Preparedness Week

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 6, 2021: Fully cooked ham and pepperoni products were recalled due to potential listeria monocytogenes contamination; a wildfire that broke out in Idaho Springs prompted mandatory evacuation orders; Navy officials confirm the presence of petroleum in Red Hill well water; new technology offers homeowners some options to help protect wildland-urban interface homes at risk of wildfires; taxpayers will ultimately foot the bill for two regional insurance companies that tanked after Hurricane Ida; CISA is hosting a webinar on emergency communications planning; a new bill will help protect first responders injured in the line of duty; and provides resources and tips on how to ensure safety at home and on the road during Winter Weather Preparedness Week.

1. Alexander and Hornung is recalling nearly 234,400 pounds of fully cooked meat products due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. A total of 17 products are listed in the recall and include fully cooked ham and pepperoni sold under various brand names, such as Wellshire, Food Club, and Garrett Valley Farms. The items being recalled were shipped to retail outlets nationwide and bear the establishment number EST M10125.

2. A wildfire that broke out near Idaho Springs, Colorado, prompted mandatory evacuations in at least three communities. The fire sparked in an occupied structure on Miners Candle, spread to a vacant structure and rapidly moved into the adjacent wildland area, due to high winds. Eastbound lanes of I-70 were closed at Exit 238 for a brief time due to wildfire smoke. Although the fire was roughly 50% contained as of Sunday evening, the Office of Emergency Management kept evacuation orders in place overnight.

3. Navy officials confirmed that petroleum (oil) contaminated the Red Hill well that provides water to military housing residents in Hawaii. Residents were reporting a foul smell and oily film in their water along with unusual health ailments, prompting naval officials to send samples of the water to the mainland for testing. Tests confirmed the presence of petroleum in the well water, which may be related to a fuel and water spill on the weekend of November 20-21 near the Red Hill water facility.

4. Encroachment by humans on the wildland-urban interface (WUI) places more homes and families at risk of wildfires. CalFire, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and offer tips on how to create defensible space around homes and harden homes to prevent them from catching fire. Several start-ups are offering homeowners some options that may help prevent homes from catching fire, including rooftop sprinklers that can spray water and foam up to 30 feet in any direction. This particular system, developed by Frontline, can be activated via Wi-Fi or cell connection. If those technologies fail, customers are able to access a satellite for sprinkler system activation.

5. Two insurance companies that provided home insurance for about 28,000 homeowners in Louisiana have failed. Regional home insurers Access Home Insurance Company and State National Fire Insurance Company both failed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The state insurance department took control of the two regional insurers in mid-November after their finances tanked. The Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association (LIGA) will fill a fund to help pay for claims filed with the two failed insurance companies.

6. Surveys reveal that despite the need for continuity and recovery of critical communications, less than half of public service agencies have planned for these needs in out-of-the ordinary emergencies or disasters. A webinar that addresses these issues and includes emergency communications planning will take place on December 9. The webinar is being hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Emergency and Customer Communications in Alexandria, Virginia.

7. A new bill signed into law will help cover gaps in order to protect first responders injured in the line of duty. The Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021 will provide prompt access to benefits for law enforcement and first responders who are disabled in the line of duty, as it more broadly defines what it means to be disabled. The new legislation was also designed to speed claims processing and provide faster benefit payments.

8. Winter weather is upon the U.S., and is a resource that can help families and organizations prepare for the coming months. Winter storms, including blizzards and other severe weather, may last for extended periods. They can disable communication systems and cause power outages. These power outages place the elderly, sick, and pets at greater risk, and having a plan in place can help prevent unnecessary injuries or death. Be sure to know what each of the winter advisories mean (advisory, watch and warning), prepare homes for winter weather, and be prepared to stay at home for several days without power. Ideally, ensuring there is enough food, water, and medication on hand for each household member and a way to generate heat or stay warm.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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