I agree to Idea Issue Chem Sticks to homeowners before Hurricanes
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Issue Chem Sticks to homeowners before Hurricanes

For those residents that refuse to leave: Give Chem Sticks to homeowners before a hurricane. Red ones are to be used if they need help. Green ones are to be used to show they are okay. They simply tie it on a string outside their door and visible from the sky if possible.

Submitted by in Nov 2012

Comments (16)

  1. This item should be discussed with site participants: Mandatory vs. voluntary evacuation.
    in Nov 2012
  2. Sticks might work in certain situations, spray paint on curbs if people were prepared ahead. The problem is most people are not prepared for everything. I wouldn't want to try to be prepared for everything that might happen. Living in fear of the what if might be more damaging to people than notbeing prepared. I'm wondering how we can be prepared for things? It would be ideal to have one thing for everything. But what is it?
    in Nov 2012
  3. jc
    I have been a proponent of utilizing lights to signal the location, make-up and condition of survivors in the aftermath of a disaster for quite some time now. I think it is a great way of turning the night in a friend. In fact I recently came across a video that confirmed first responders respond to lights and recognized them as survivors in need of assistance during Katrina. Here is the link:

    In the past many responders and responding agencies have stated that it would be too burdensome and time consuming to go door to door handing out lights to everyone that did not evacuate. Some have even stated, handing out lights before a disaster would encourage citizens to remain and not evacuate (give them a false sense of security). I disagree because it would give the responders one last chance to convey the fact that just because they have been issued a light does not mean they will be rescued immediately. It gives them a chance to personally tell the citizen “EVACUATE!!!!” because it could take weeks before we can help you, please don’t put us in danger. The problem that I do agree with is, the logistics of handing out lights to folks who chose or are unable to evacuate would be a nightmare and not suitable for all emergencies. For example earth quakes or tornadoes.
    To address these issues I have proposed that instead of handing out lights before a disaster that the government officially recognize and promote that illuminated color coded signals coming from lights in a disaster stricken area are indicators of human beings location and condition. I do not promote SAR teams going in at night to do rescues but I do propose that SAR teams go to high ground or do manned or unmanned flyovers and make note of those locations where they spotted lights and use that information to preplan first light rescue operation or future rescue operations.
    To address the issue of Earthquakes and Tornadoes, disasters that give little or no warning. I have proposed that the government encourage citizens to include different colored signaling LED lights in their preparedness kits via a public campaign, this way citizens are educated/prepared and the government does not have to go door to door issuing lights when a disaster is about to strike. The government has informed the people of the signaling method and responders/neighbors now keep an eye out for the lights at night. In fact people could use the cellular phone screens to convey the color green or the color red in cases where they are not at home when a disaster strikes. Almost 90% of adults carry phones, so in a way we are pre-equipped for illuminated color coded signaling. A program similar to the TV Convertor box program could be utilized to equip the poor, elderly and disabled with good quality signaling lights (capable of withstanding abuse and lasting for over a week ), especially if they live in disaster prone areas. Tax credits/deductions could also serve to encourage the purchase of the signaling lights and weather radios as part of the illuminated signaling education campaign.
    I disagree with the choice of chemical lights as the illuminated signals and believe LED lights are a better option for the following reasons:
    1. Chemical lights freeze and do function very effectively in cold weather.
    2. Chemical lights only glow for a few hours and then have to be replaced over and over again. I have tested the red chemical lights and in my opinion they only give off from 2 to 3 hours of usable illumination. That means you would need (~12 daylight and 12 night time hours in a day) about six red chemical lights to effectively signal for one night. Now multiply that by the potential of it being one week before help arrives which means 6 chemical lights per night, times 7 nights, gives you 42 chemical lights to be prepared for one extended event. Way to many chemical lights.
    2. Chemical lights diminish in brightness from the moment you crack them and as the minutes go by they get dimmer and dimmer. They do not provide a reliable constant form of illumination which is what you need for effective long term signaling especially after a disaster.
    3. In my experience, many times chemical lights will already be cracked when you open the package and do not work.
    4. LED lights can last up to two weeks without having to change a battery.
    5. Good quality LED lights are durable and can stand up to wide temperature ranges.
    6. Good quality LED lights such as the E/T Light can take a lot of abuse – See this report, from being dragged by a car to being frozen in dry ice to being dropped in a river for three days –
    7.One good quality LED light that contains four colors in each signaling light (Red/ Yellow/Green/Blue) is the E/T Light and this allows you to use one light for multiple signaling purposes. In the post above you mentioned green would mean OK and red would mean help. You could signal both with this one light and use the other colors for other purposes such as general illumination at night, during extended blackouts.
    Please take some time and view my posting here at the FEMA Think Tank and learn how my proposed illuminated Disaster ID signaling system works. It is very similar but adds a few more details. Here is the link: http://fema.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Empowering-citizens-to-help-first-responders-help-them-in-afterm/319321-14692

    I look forward to your feedback.
    in Nov 2012
  4. My suggestion is a fast and dirty substitute for those that haven't listened up to the point of the disaster have them collect solar powered yard lights to cut down background light clutter and use those to illuminate and mark location and status with colored wrap.
    in Nov 2012
    1. jc
      Good thinking, use what you have already available in your home. The important thing is that responders look for the illuminated signals at night as part of standard SAR operations and citizens know their illuminated signals will be searched for so they are encouraged to utilize the illuminated displays to convey their location and condition at minimum.
      in Nov 2012
  5. Actually, during a wildland fire the crews requesting families to evacuate (and who refuse) will ask for the family's Next of Kin in case they do not survive.
    in Jul 2013
  6. kitchener.harding Idea Submitter
    Soldiers occasionally hold ‘chem’ light vigils for fallen comrades. Passing this information along with the chem light sticks may help to play on the psychology of evacuee holdouts that choose to remain in harm’s way. A simple reminder; “these may be held at your funeral –time is running out.” A campaign slogan saying as much could help inform the public.
    in Aug 2013
  7. This idea is like the Help/OK signs you put in your window at home/work.
    in Aug 2013
    1. jc
      Yes, except it is more visible at night and from a distance.
      in Aug 2013
  8. jc
    You could turn your cellular phone screen, Ipad screen, laptop screen into a visual signaling device and not have a need for issued chemical lights. Simply download an app like f-Ready. It works like this:
    1. Download the app from Itunes (Android will be out in a few weeks) - Here is the Itunes link - https://itunes.apple.com/app/f-ready/id478367053?mt=8
    2. The first time you activate the f-Ready app you enter your name, your phone number and three emails of friends/family (lifelines). The app is now ready to use.
    3. The idea is that you activate the app any time you find yourself in a disaster situation. Let's say your lost while hiking, or your suddenly caught in a tornado warning area or maybe simply you just have a flat tire on the road. When you activate the app you push the appropriate button. Red button is for children, green button is for women, blue button is for men and the yellow button is for pets. The app will now do the following:
    a. The app transmits an email to the three lifelines stating you have activated the app and it gives them your GPS coordinates.
    b. The app turns the screen into a visual signal device by turning the screen on to a color to help you signal at night.
    4. Your three lifelines now know you are in trouble and they know your location and time that you sent the message. They can now do the following:
    a. Go look for you themselves and when they arrive at the GPS location they can try to pinpoint you by looking for the visual signal coming from your phone screen.
    b. They can contact authorities and share your GPS location and request for assistance. The authorities now know your last known location and to look for the visual signal coming from your phone screen.

    Actually you can have it on your computer by bookmarking the following page -

    When you go to the above link read the screen, allow the "share your location" pop up and scroll to the bottom of the page to start entering your information. Once you enter your information it will take you to the main app screen. Now select and click on the button that is appropriate and see what happens.

    In cases where the cell phone towers are not available at least your phone screen or computer screen can be used as a night time signaling device.

    A simpler version of the f-Ready is called the "Disaster ID" app and is available on Android and Itunes. This app simply turns your screen on to a color that can be steady or flashing. Available signaling colors are red/green/blue/yellow

    Since over 90% of the adult population carries cellular phones we are pretty much pre-equipped with a visual signaling device that we carry with us most of the time.
    in Aug 2013
  9. jc
    Here is a link showing an image of how this visual signaling may look like - http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-864751
    in Aug 2013
  10. I believe this gives non-evacuees a false sense of security. What does the light signal do? No one is going to be there to respond to a red light. Individuals who do not evacuate need to know they will have to self sustain themselves for 72 hours, that EMS will not operate to respond to any emergency situation, and that police and fire will not dispatch during the storm event, and perhaps beyond the storm. The solution also fails to deal with a status of "evacuated". Any signalling system would have to include this response.
    GPS cell based signalling devices assume that the network will be functional- a dangerous assumption. The functionality for non-disaster situations seems excellent, but cell systems are either knocked out or overloaded during disaster situations, based on personal experience in several hurricanes and Haiti post-earhtquake.
    in Aug 2013
    1. jc
      Hello MKELLEY, I agree that issuing chem sticks to homeowners prior to a hurricane is not practical. Responders have much more important things to do before a Hurricane strikes and folks should follow evacuation orders. For those that remain they should be very aware that they need to be able to self sustain themselves for at least 72 hours and in actuality they should be prepared for much more than that.

      The idea of utilizing an illuminated signaling device to help responders zone in on your location is a good one. It worked during Katrina and it was not standardized, see video-

      The good thing about cellular phones, Ipads, laptops, kindles, etc... is that the screens do not need the cellular towers to be functioning in order to work as illuminated signaling devices at night. The illuminated screens will stick out like sore thumbs at night with or without GPS and cellular networks. Apps on those devices also store survival tips and general preparedness information.

      Recognizing a standard for a survivor night time visual signaling system is a good idea that could even be utilized in the aftermath of disasters with no warnings, like earthquakes.
      in Aug 2013
  11. 100% agreement with MKELLEY. In fact, if minors are present during an evacuation order CPS can forcible remove them from their parents care. Social Darwinism takes over for those that wish to remain. They remain at their own peril. If a jurisdiction hands out Chem Sticks you are communicating the message that you will return and attempt a rescue. Negative. Remain at your own risk. Jurisdiction should provide nothing as it sets up litigation for affirmative messages and implied rescue. Warn residents that no attempts at rescue will be made. Katrina was different as many low income residents had no transportation and could not evacuate. Besides, try and get a public safety union to sign off on high risk rescues in flood waters for hundreds of people that were given an implied hope of rescue. Give them nothing. Only way to avoid billions in liability lawsuits.
    in Aug 2013
    1. jc
      I agree, give them nothing but I also agree that a night time visual signaling system should be adopted for survivors to utilize in the aftermath of any disaster, including those with no warning, like earthquakes. Do you see anything wrong with citizens having a recognized (standardized) way of visually signaling and responders knowing what those signals mean (survivors locations and conditions)?
      in Aug 2013
  12. SECOND THE MOTION: Of dgsweigert.
    in Aug 2013

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