Following are 10 natural disaster myths you should know about. These disaster myths are taken directly from FEMA’s online Fact Sheets, which I would encourage you to read. In fact, you should read as much of the natural disaster information I have compiled as you can… it will be worth your time. The information goes well beyond disaster myths.
- Earthquake Myth - During an earthquake, head for the doorway.
The Facts: Doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house and usually have doors that will swing and can injure you. You are safer under a table.
- Hurricane Myth – Tape your windows when a hurricane threatens.
The Facts: Taping your windows is a waste of time and energy. It provides little strength to the glass and no protection against flying debris. Once a Hurricane Warning has been issued you should shutter your doors and windows for protection.
- Lightning Myth – People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
The Facts: Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR/AED and first-aid.
- Tornado Myth – Open windows equalize pressure and minimize damage.
The Facts: Opening windows does not affect wind pressure but will allow damaging winds to enter the structure. The best course of action is to close the windows and immediately go to a safe place.
- Winter Storm Myth – In severe cold, it is best to stay warm by wearing a very heavy coat.
The Facts: Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothes in layers. Trapped air insulates. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Remove layers to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
- Extreme Heat Myth – If someone is suffering from heat stroke, it is enough to give them water and get them to a cool place.
The Facts: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms could include: high body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. If you think someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
- Nuclear Attack Myth – You can tell what is contaminated by radioactive material because it glows.
The Facts: Radiation cannot be seen, smelled, or otherwise detected by human senses. Radiation can only be detected by radiation monitoring devices. Listen to radio and television for news about what to do, where to go, and places to avoid.
- Landslide Myth - Most landslides move quite slowly, making it easy to anticipate their path and rate of progress.
The Facts: Landslide speed and potential destructiveness can vary widely. Some landslides move slowly, traveling only a few inches in many days. Other landslides can transform suddenly into mud or debris flows that travel thousands of feet in a matter of minutes. Let officials and neighbors know if you suspect imminent landslide danger and evacuate for safety.
- Tsunami Myth - A tsunami is a single wave. A tsunami is a series of waves. Often the initial wave is not the largest.
The Facts: The largest wave may occur several hours after the initial activity starts at a coastal location. There may also be more than one series of tsunami waves if a very large earthquake triggers local landslides.
- Wildfire Myth - When the ground is damp from recent snow melt, there is no concern about spring wildfires.
The Facts: Dead leaves and brush can dry out and ignite even if the ground underneath is damp. These “fine fuels” are also referred to by wildfire experts as “1-hour fuels” because they need only about an hour of sunlight and breeze to dry them out to a point where they are combustible.
Again, please spend at least a few minutes reading the natural disaster information I have compiled. Information is separated by disaster and with brief descriptions for each title.