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Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Join FEMA

Hi, and thanks for reading our very first blog post. Our names are Flat Stanley and Flat Stella, and we are very excited to be two of the newest employees at FEMA. You’ll be seeing a lot of us as we help kids learn more about disasters and emergencies – a job Administrator Fugate asked us to do!

FEMA does a lot of cool things that you may not know about. By following our adventures around FEMA, we hope to share all sorts of fun facts and photos about staying safe.

So as we start our first day at FEMA, we did what any new employee does – we got our pictures taken for our official badge!

Photo of a cutout cartoon (Flat Stella) taking a picture by the FEMA Photo Badge Office

Photo of a cutout cartoon (Flat Stella) wearing a badge with FEMA personal nearby.

Here we are making our way through security and to our new offices. Our new badges work!

Photo of cutout cartoons (Flat Stella and Flat Stanley) positioned over a signboard that reads Elevated Security Condition 100% ID Check

We're so glad to be here!

Photo of cutout cartoons (Flat Stella and Flat Stanley) positioned near a keyboard and computer (with the FEMA Website webpage open)

Now that we are set up and working, we hope you will continue following our adventures as we travel around FEMA and visit with other people who help keep America safe. When we have some fun and interesting things to share, we will post them on this blog.

If you would like to suggest an adventure or ask us a question, you can comment below, find us on the Flat Stanley Facebook page, the FEMA Facebook page, or even e-mail us at our new e-mail address (StanleyandStella@fema.dhs.gov)!

We are excited about sharing our upcoming adventures!

What We're Watching: 07/13/12

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At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Severe weather outlook

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is calling for above average temperatures next week for much of the Upper Midwest, while portions of the Ohio and Tennessee Valley may experience heavy rains. And, as you can see in the predominant brown portions of the map above currently on the National Weather Service website, drought conditions will continue across much of the U.S.

The last few weeks have been relatively quiet for tropical storm and hurricane development in the Atlantic, but it’s important to remember that we are only one and a half months into hurricane season. The traditional peak of the season occurs in late August to early September. History shows that storms can develop quickly so both those in coastal and inland areas should prepare their families, homes and businesses now, before there’s a threatening storm. Ready.gov/hurricanes is a great starting place for information about getting prepared for the effects of a tropical storm or hurricane, so check it out today.

Follow your local forecast online at weather.gov or on your phone at mobile.weather.gov. Whatever the risks in your area of the country, visit Ready.gov to learn about getting prepared and lessening the impacts of a disaster.

Financially preparing before disaster strikes
The FEMA blog had several updates about our role supporting the firefighting efforts in Colorado as well as those affected by the fires. I ran across a story in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week from a reporter who experienced the wildfires firsthand. Here’s a quick section from the story:
 

The take-away from this experience is that you can't protect yourself from every disaster, but you can certainly do things to tilt the odds heavily in your favor. So what I want to talk about here is preparations that you should undertake right now to protect your financial interests in case you are ever exposed to a disaster: tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake, whatever. Did I make all these preparations myself? Not even close, which was dumb. But I've learned my lesson and now want to pass it along to you. Here goes.

Put Together a Financial Go Kit

Go to your friendly office supply store and buy one of those roomy plastic briefcases. Then put your most important financial documents (or copies of them) inside, including: homeowner and auto insurance coverage summaries; health insurance information; banking, mortgage, and credit card statements; investment and retirement account documents; tax returns for at least the last three years; your will; and a key to your safe deposit box. Add to this list as you see fit.


The rest of the article provides some useful financial preparedness tips such as putting together a “Financial Go Kit”, taking lots of pictures of your belongings, and making a “Grab-and-Go List”.

Remembering your pets
For millions of Americans, their pet is a part of their family. So it’s important to include your animals as part of your family’s emergency planning as well. This means making sure you know how you would evacuate with your pet, where a pet-friendly hotel or shelter might be located after a disaster, and including items in your family’s emergency kit to keep your pet happy and healthy.

When you get a few free minutes this week, visit Ready.gov/animals to learn more about preparing your pet for emergencies.

Faith-Based Group Rebuilds Alabama Church Following 2011 Tornadoes

Author: 
Editor's note: This was originally posted June 28, 2012, on the White House blog by David L. Myers, Director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships.


Tornadoes and fires hold more in common than being disasters: they can also make good neighbors.

This is uniquely true in Boligee, AL, a small rural town near the Mississippi border, and Hartville, OH, near Akron. It's a great story of faith communities helping each other -- and it has a beautiful twist at the end.

The story begins in and around Boligee in 1996, when four African American churches burned to the ground. Though it has never been proven, many suspect the fires were related to racial tension. Volunteers from around the world rebuilt the four churches -- including Little Zion Baptist Church -- with the assistance of Quakers and Mennonites.

Fast forward to April 27, 2011, when tornadoes tore through central Alabama, killing 139 people and destroying billions of dollars of property, including the Christian Valley Baptist Church in Boligee, home of a small African American congregation.

ROPE OF HOPE

The Rev. Tracy Giles, Christian Valley’s pastor, didn’t know what to do. Insurance would cover $165,000, but estimates to rebuild the church exceeded $500,000. Pastor Giles heard about Mennonite Disaster Service and sat down over coffee with one of its coordinators, Jerry Klassen. Pastor Giles told Klassen, “I need a thread of hope.”

Klassen responded, “I can throw you a rope of hope.”

Klassen contacted Maple Grove Mennonite Church in Hartville, and soon skilled volunteers from several Hartville churches were making regular treks to Boligee. On Sunday, June 3, 2012, six months after the start of the rebuilding, Christian Valley Baptist Church commemorated its new opening; total cost was $160,000.

“It was God reaching across the borderline,” said Deacon Willie Cain.

The Rev. David L. Myers, a Mennonite minister and director of the DHS/FEMA Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, who participated in the dedication ceremony, said it was a mutual opportunity for service. “Christian Valley Baptist cannot be itself without a church to worship in, and Mennonite churches cannot be themselves without a service project.”

And here's the beautiful twist: one of the biggest challenges faced every year by thousands of disaster volunteers is finding housing during their time of service. That wasn't the case for the volunteers rebuilding Happy Valley Baptist Church.

Remember Little Zion Baptist Church, which was burned and rebuilt in 1996? That same church provided housing for more than 80 volunteers who traveled more than 800 miles from Hartville to Boligee.

Disasters of all kinds can indeed make good neighbors. 

FEMA's Newest Private Sector Representative

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As many of you may know, almost two years ago FEMA implemented a private sector representative program to support the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC). Through its many rotations, the program has improved the way the agency works with many private sector partners across the field of emergency management. Recently, Walmart served in this unique role and was able to assist the National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies Institute and the International Association of Emergency Managers with the development of their Big Business – Small Business Emergency Management Mentorship Program (PDF). And by the way, you should check into that and join the growing list of difference-makers.

This week, we have made another significant leap in the Private Sector Representative program by incorporating a new sector – the financial community.

We are delighted to have Hilary Ward joining us from Citi. Hilary is a Director and Chief Administrative Officer to Citi Vice Chairman Lewis B. Kaden, responsible for supporting the Vice Chairman in charge of Citi’s Institutional Client Group’s Public Sector Group, the Citi Foundation, and Citi Community Development.

Here’s what Hilary had to say about being our next private sector liaison:

Citi is extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with FEMA through the Private Sector Representative role and to be the first representative from the financial services industry. Citi has a long record working with governments and non-governmental organizations to assist communities impacted by natural disasters, and we are committed to share best practices and to improve outreach to the private sector, in particular, as it relates to emergency financial management issues. I look forward to engaging and working with our peers, FEMA and others on these efforts over the next 90 days and beyond.


We at FEMA couldn’t agree more. We look forward to learning, sharing and accomplishing great things working with Hilary, Citi and the whole private sector community. While stationed at FEMA, she is a resource for all of our partners. If you need to reach out to her, feel free to email FEMA-PSR@FEMA.gov.

If you or someone you know is interested in being a candidate for the Private Sector Representative, please see this brochure (PDF) for more details on the benefits. Our private sector team is available 24/7 and ready to work with you. And please continue to share your stories and ideas about how we can continue working with the private sector to better serve our nation and communities.

What We’re Watching: 7/6/12

Author: 
At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Supporting ongoing severe storm response and recovery 
We continue to support our state, local and tribal partners affected by last week’s severe storms and resulting power outages. We’ve blogged about the federal family’s efforts several times since then, including the invaluable work of many voluntary organizations.

The thing to remember about FEMA’s role is that we are there to support state and local partners. We have staged many commodities near the affected areas, including generators (to power critical infrastructure), food, water, kits for infants and toddlers, and durable medical equipment. If these supplies are needed by the state, we continue to stand ready to meet those needs. If you live in an area impacted by last week’s severe storms, the best place to find information about available assistance is through your local emergency management office.

We will continue to support the response and recovery efforts and provide updates on this blog as needed.

Federal disaster assistance available in 11 Florida counties

Live Oak, Fla., July 4, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Julius Gibbons works with Red Cross Shelter Manager Marge Gray to better understand the needs of shelter clients and how FEMA and the Red Cross can best partner to assist storm survivors. FEMA is responding to severe flood damage and destruction across Florida caused by Tropical Storm Debby.

Live Oak, Fla., July 4, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Julius Gibbons works with Red Cross Shelter Manager Marge Gray to better understand the needs of shelter clients and how FEMA and the Red Cross can best partner to assist storm survivors. FEMA is responding to severe flood damage and destruction across Florida caused by Tropical Storm Debby.

Earlier this week, President Obama authorized federal disaster assistance for individuals affected by tropical storm Debby in 11 Florida counties (Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Franklin, Hernando, Highlands, Pasco, Pinellas, Suwannee and Wakulla). If you live in one of the designated counties and sustained losses or damages from Tropical Storm Debby, you can register with FEMA by one of the following methods:

  • Call 800-621-FEMA (3362), which is video relay service accessible. Assistance is available in most languages and lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585. 
  • Go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • By smartphone or tablet, use the FEMA app or go to m.fema.gov.

FEMA and the state currently have two disaster recovery centers open as well, in Suwannee and Wakulla counties. At a disaster recovery center, representatives from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, FEMA, the Small Business Administration and other agencies explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors apply for aid.

Visit our website for more information on Tropical Storm Debby recovery efforts.

Record heat
It’s been a hot July 4th week for millions around the country – and the National Weather Service is predicting extreme heat will continue for much of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest through the weekend. Here are a few reminders if the heat will be on in your neighborhood:

  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, especially those who spend much of their time alone. 
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. 
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. 
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available. 
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. 
  • Bookmark m.fema.gov or download the FEMA smartphone app to get extreme heat safety tips on your phone.

And if it’s hot for you, it’s also hot for your animals. So remember to give them water, shade, and rest to keep them cooled down

Continued wildfire response & flash flooding risk
While the heat has been the topic of conversation along the East Coast, wildfires remain front-and-center out west. We continue working closely with our state, local, and tribal partners in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Montana to closely monitor the fires. For several fires, we are supporting the firefighting efforts through Fire Management Assistance Grants, which provides financial assistance so firefighters and first responders can focus all their efforts on reducing the negative impacts of the fire.

Other federal partners, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior, are working through the National Interagency Fire Center to provide the necessary assets such as fire engines, helicopters, air tankers and military support to help suppress the fires. You can find more about the federal government’s role at www.nifc.gov. (For more on specifics about FEMA’s role during wildfires, check out this blog post from last week.)

Because so many areas have been affected by wildfires so far this season, it’s important to remember that the risk of flash flooding increases after a wildfire. Only a few minutes of excessive rainfall can cause a flash flood – so make sure you know how to get to higher ground if necessary. Visit Ready.gov/floods for more information on what to do before, during, and after a flood, and bookmark mobile.weather.gov on your phone so you can easily check the weather forecast in your area.

FEMA: Working Closely With State and Local Partners

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FEMA continues to work closely with our federal and state partners to meet the needs of all those that have been impacted by the severe storms that moved through much of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic. In Ohio, the President signed an emergency disaster declaration that has authorized FEMA to provide much needed resources to support state and local response and recovery, including generators to support critical infrastructure such as shelters, as well as positioning water in staging areas near the impacted areas. While those resources are critical, the state of Ohio and others of the emergency management team are taking the welfare of citizens very seriously. Here is one example:

Ohio’s “Knock and Talk” Outreach

Columbus, Ohio, July 2, 2012 -- Sgt. Jessica Cooper (left) and Pvt. Jason Geier, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 216th Engineer Battalion, talk with John Weese, 60, of Columbus, Ohio, on July 2, 2012. (Ohio National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Sadowski)

Columbus, Ohio, July 2, 2012 -- Sgt. Jessica Cooper (left) and Pvt. Jason Geier, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 216th Engineer Battalion, talk with John Weese, 60, of Columbus, Ohio, on July 2, 2012. (Ohio National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Sadowski)

On July 1, Ohio Governor John Kasich deployed more than 200 Soldiers and Airmen of the Ohio National Guard (ONG) to Franklin and Montgomery counties on a “Knock and Talk” mission. From single-story homes to 20-story high rises, team members are braving the heat and knocking on doors to chat with residents. They provide valuable information on available resources, such as cooling centers, that our local and state partners have made available. Ohioans are also coming together to check on their own, ensuring that everyone has water and knows how to stay cool during the power outages and heat wave.

On July 2, the men and women of the ONG teamed up with student volunteers from The Ohio State University and continued the “Knock and Talk” mission to ensure that senior citizens, young children and those with sensitive conditions and medical needs are being served.

As we say at FEMA, it takes each member of the emergency management team coming together to ensure the safety of the American public. The ONG and the students of OSU exemplify the responsibility that each of us has to take care of our friends, neighbors, family and loved ones.

While we continue to assist Ohio, West Virginia and all the states that have been impacted by the recent storms, we want to urge you to exercise caution if extreme heat conditions are expected in your area in the coming days. Forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for dangerous heat in parts of the U.S. for the remainder of the week, including the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit Ready.gov/heat to learn how you can keep yourself and your animals safe, or follow the example of Ohio Emergency Management and the Ohio National Guard.

Have your own “Knock and Talk” missions and check on a neighbor during this continued heat wave - make a call, send a text or better yet, walk next door to see that those around you have water, are staying cool and are able to stay in contact with loved ones.

Columbus, Ohio, July 2, 2012 -- Pvt. Jason Geier (left) and Sgt. Jessica Cooper, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 216th Engineer Battalion, talk with Gary Rowe, of Columbus, Ohio, on July 2, 2012. (Ohio National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Sadowski)

Columbus, Ohio, July 2, 2012 -- Pvt. Jason Geier (left) and Sgt. Jessica Cooper, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 216th Engineer Battalion, talk with Gary Rowe, of Columbus, Ohio, on July 2, 2012. (Ohio National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Sadowski)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our state and local partners for providing life-saving information and demonstrating care and compassion for their neighbors and fellow Ohioans. For the latest updates, please visit the Ohio Emergency Management website at http://ema.ohio.gov/.

Ohio, July 3, 2012 -- Student volunteers from The Ohio State University assist the Ohio state Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio National Guard on July 3, 2012.

Ohio, July 3, 2012 -- Student volunteers from The Ohio State University assist the Ohio state Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio National Guard on July 3, 2012.

Update 4: Recap of FEMA & Federal Partner Support to State and Local Response in Midwest and Mid-Atlantic

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The Administration, through FEMA, remains committed to providing support to Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states affected by last week’s storms. FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and regional offices in Chicago, Ill. and Philadelphia, Pa., have been in constant coordination with our federal partners as well as impacted states since the storms first struck on Friday, to make sure there are no unmet needs.

The following timeline provides an overview of federal activities, to date, in support of the impacted states, families and communities.

Thursday, July 5 

  • At the request of the State of New Jersey, FEMA personnel are on the ground working with federal, state and local officials to conduct preliminary damage assessments in New Jersey as a result of the storms. These assessments are an important step in identifying the damages, helping the governor determine whether the event is beyond state and local capabilities, and if federal support might be needed. 
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the lead agency for Emergency Support Function 12 - Energy, issues a DOE situation report. 

Wednesday, July 4 

  • FEMA continues to stage and transfer supplies such as food, water, kits for infants and toddlers, and durable medical equipment to the states as needed, and requested. 
  • Twenty-nine FEMA community relations staff work with the West Virginia National Guard Bureau, visiting residents door-to-door to help spread the word about cooling stations, to assess needs and provide situational awareness to the state. In Ohio, Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Moore, highlights the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. 
  • DOE issues a situation report. 

A timeline of federal family support before July 4 can be found on this previous blog post.

Update 3: Supporting Severe Weather and Power Outage Response

Author: 

The Administration, through FEMA, continues to provide support to Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states affected by last week’s storms.  Through FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and Regional offices in Chicago, Ill. and Philadelphia, Pa., we have been in constant coordination with our federal partners as well as impacted states since the storms first struck on Friday, to make sure there are no unmet needs. 

The following timeline provides an overview of federal activities, to date, in support of the impacted states, families and communities.

Tuesday, July 3

  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the lead agency for Emergency Support Function 12 – Energy, issued a DOE situation report
  • At the request of the State of Maryland, FEMA is deploying two Region Liaison Officers to the state Emergency Operation Center to coordinate potential federal resources requirements.
  • FEMA has deployed community relations teams to West Virginia to support state and local efforts to check on residents without power, provide informational resources, and provide situational awareness about conditions in impacted communities.

Monday, July 2

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deployed representatives to the West Virginia State EOC to assess medical needs and requirements for access and functional needs support.
  • FEMA continued to distribute water and generators to various staging areas in Ohio and West Virginia, to support state and local response efforts.
  • FEMA’s Regional Disability Integration Specialists in Philadelphia, Pa. and Chicago, Ill. send out information on Cooling Stations to the disability community, including through the National Federation for the Blind and Deaf advocacy groups, and reached out to these groups to determine needs of affected persons with disabilities.

Sunday, July 1

  • FEMA staged water and generators in Morgantown and Charleston, W.Va. as well as multiple cities in Ohio to transfer to the State to support affected communities.
  • One Mobile Communications Office Vehicle (MCOV) onsite in Morgantown, W.Va.; 2 MCOVs en route to Charleston, W.Va.
  • In coordination with FEMA, the U.S. Department of Energy deploys experts to West Virginia and FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C., and is supporting FEMA’s regional offices in Chicago, Ill. and Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) deployed personnel to Ohio to support assessments and generator installations for emergency power. 
  • A FEMA Disability Integration Specialist participated in a coordination call with West Virginia Emergency Management to support identifying the needs of affected populations with access and functional needs.

Saturday, June 30

  • President Obama issues emergency disaster declarations for the State of Ohio for all 88 counties in the state, and the State of West Virginia for all 55 counties in the state.  The declaration authorizes FEMA and its federal partners to provide direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance to protect lives and property.
  • President Obama speaks with Ohio Governor John Kasich, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to receive an update on the severe storms, and to express his condolences for the loss of life and his concern for individuals and first responders still confronting the destruction and loss of power that is impacting communities as a result.  The President tells the Governors that he has directed FEMA to ensure they continue to provide necessary support to state and local officials in impacted areas as they respond to these events.
  • The President receives an update from FEMA Administrator Fugate on impacts and response activities in states, including parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia. The President asks Administrator Fugate to stay in close contact with our partners on the ground to make sure FEMA and federal partners are providing all available support, and to keep him updated as the response and recovery continues.
  • DHS Secretary Napolitano speaks with the Governors of the affected states to express condolences for the loss of life and to ensure that federal support is provided to the states as needed.
  • FEMA Administrator Fugate contacts District of Columbia Deputy Mayor for Public Safety to provide support as needed.
  • A Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) team deploys to West Virginia to provide secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations, if needed.
  • FEMA activates the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), a multi-agency center based at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The NRCC provides overall coordination of the federal response by bringing together federal departments and agencies to assist in the preparations for and response to disasters.  Select emergency support functions are activated to support state operations.
  • FEMA activates its Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCCs) in Chicago, Ill. and Philadelphia, Pa. to support state requests for assistance.
  • FEMA deploys Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) and liaison officers to West Virginia and Ohio State Emergency Operations Centers to coordinate with state and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting disaster response.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate holds a video teleconference call to discuss the latest developments with the National Weather Service, partner agencies and regional representatives and to assess their needs or shortfalls.

Friday, June 29

  • A line of severe thunderstorms moved across parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia causing widespread wind damage and there have been reports of significant power outages and debris.
  • FEMA through its regional offices in Chicago, Ill and Philadelphia, Pa., begins constant contact with affected states’ emergency management officials.  FEMA Region III Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney and Region V Regional Administrator Andrew Valasquez III make direct contact with the Emergency Management Directors of the affected states.

Other links

For more preparedness information about extreme heat, visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to find out how you can protect your family, pets, business and property.

For information on the latest Energy situation reports, visit www.oe.netl.doe.gov/emergency_sit_rpt.aspx.

 

 

Have a Safe and Happy Independence Day

It’s hard to imagine the Fourth of July festivities without a great fireworks display. But celebrations can become tragic when someone is injured or property is damaged by fire. FEMA and the US Fire Administration remind you to prepare for a safe and memorable Independence Day by leaving the fireworks to the professionals. Even those fireworks that are sold legally can cause injuries. Also with many areas of the country under severe drought conditions, the chances of accidentally causing a fire are greatly increased, so they should be avoided in those areas.

Did you know that fireworks alone accounted for some 8,600 serious burns and injuries in 2010? And nearly 3,500 of those injuries happened to children under the age of 15. Don’t let your celebration this July Fourth end with a visit to the emergency room. If you are going to use legal and locally approved fireworks, here are some recommended safety steps:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. 
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees-hot enough to melt some metals. 
  • Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices. 
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers. 
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. 
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap. 
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away. 
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person. 
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly. 
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers. 
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire. 


For those seeking more information regarding fireworks in their area, check with local fire officials and visit the following recommended websites:

Supporting the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic States Affected by Severe Weather

Author: 

As a result of Friday’s severe weather that struck many parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, President Obama issued emergency disaster declarations for all counties within the states of West Virginia and Ohio in response to requests from Ohio Governor John Kasich and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities who suffered damage as a result of these severe storms and for those who are in areas without power.

Please remember to check on your neighbors and stay in touch with friends and family who may be impacted by the heat and loss of power and take necessary safety precautions due to extreme heat. Use the buddy system and if you don’t have air conditioning or power, contact local officials for information on cooling centers in your area.

For everyone affected by extreme heat, here’s a short video on staying cool in extreme heat:

If you don’t have power and you’re using a generator, always use it outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents; you never want to use it indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces and basements. Also, make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home and test it to ensure its working. There are additional generator safety tips available from the U.S. Fire Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In addition to the extreme heat, today’s forecast from the National Weather Service is calling for another round of scattered thunderstorms capable of producing large hail and damaging winds across parts of the Dakotas through the Midwest to the Ohio Valley and Delmarva Sunday night and Monday. We urge you to monitor weather conditions closely as weather patterns can change unexpectedly.

For those affected by the power outages, we know this is a difficult time for many of you and we remain committed to bringing in the necessary resources of the federal family to provide the support you need to recover. We will continue to support our federal, state, local and tribal partners in the areas already affected, as well as those areas that may be impacted by these additional storms.

The following are operational updates since yesterday:

  • FEMA is strategically positioning supplies closer to impacted areas of West Virginia and Ohio. Emergency generators, needed to supply critical infrastructure such as shelters, and water are positioned in staging areas in Morgantown and Charleston, West Virginia and Columbus, Ohio to support state and local response needs.
  • FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and the Regional Response Coordination Centers in Chicago, Ill., and Philadelphia, Pa., continue to be activated to support state requests for assistance.
  • FEMA has deployed incident management assistance teams and liaison officers to the state emergency operations centers in Ohio and West Virginia.
  • A Mobile Emergency Response Support team and mobile communication office vehicles are en route to West Virginia to provide secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations.
  • FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners including the U.S. Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service forecast offices.
  • In coordination with FEMA, the Department of Energy has deployed experts to West Virginia and FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C., and is supporting FEMA’s regional offices in Chicago, Ill., and Philadelphia, Pa.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed teams to Ohio to support assessments and generator installations for emergency power.
  • The West Virginia National Guard is also actively engaged in a generator mission for emergency power.

For those not impacted by the severe weather, now is a good time to make sure your emergency supply kit is ready. It should include at least a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and other items specific to your family’s needs. To help you build your kit, download the FEMA smartphone app (Android, Apple and Blackberry devices) and use the interactive checklist.

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