Use Harvey as springboard for family discussions

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Explosions in a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, are an example of unexpected complications that can arise during a natural disaster such as the flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey.

It’s not that operators of the Arkema Inc. plant weren’t prepared. They knew that without refrigeration, the organic peroxides they manufactured would quickly become explosive, which they did early this morning.

We’re all familiar with the sting of that peroxide we use to disinfect minor wounds, but that’s typically a 3 percent solution. Higher concentrations make a dandy rocket fuel.

The chemical plant manufactured just such higher concentrations, used in a wide variety of products including pharmaceuticals and construction materials.

Once the chemical begins to warm up, it begins to break down into flammable, volatile gases, which is what happened this morning after floods knocked out the primary source of power for refrigeration, plus two backup systems.

Everyone within a 1.5-mile radius was told to evacuate Tuesday, but a deputy was taken to the hospital after being exposed to the fumes and other officers got checked out as a precaution.

Some of us may look down our noses at alarmist “preppers” investing in underground homes and stockpiling ammunition, but the truth is, individuals and families are on their own, at least for a time, when a disaster strikes.

Nebraskans are most likely to face a tornado, flooding or blizzard than any other natural disaster, but it’s important to at least think about what we would do in any given situation.

While Hurricane Harvey is still fresh in everyone’s mind, talk with your friends and family about emergencies and make a plan to be able to go it alone for at least a few days until more help arrives.

Make a plan covering things like who you would contact during an emergency and how you would reach them.

Make an emergency supply kit with things like clothes (especially shoes), TV or radio, flashlights, first aid supplies, food and especially, water.

Keep informed, monitor broadcasts and online sources, as long as they are available, to find out what’s really going on.

For much more specific information and planning ideas, visit www.ready.gov, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov or the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services here.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: