eXtension’s New Direction a Benefit to EDEN

Photograph poles with of a lot of telephone wires rolled up and overlappingSometimes it feels as though eXtension, Extension, and EDEN do things in a willy-nilly fashion. But if we look at the big picture, we can see that there is a pattern and that the shifting is in response to clients’ changing needs in a manner that reflects where they are looking for information. That used to happen on paper and in person. Now it’s more online and virtual.

The 2015 EDEN annual meeting, held in Las Cruces, NM, provided opportunity for committees to develop goals for the upcoming year. The Professional Development committee is committed to supporting EDEN’s strategic plan, specifically through its goal to strengthen Extension’s capacity and commitment to address disaster issues. During our session in Las Cruces, we agreed that we should identify and develop training opportunities that will help all Extension professionals be personally better prepared for disaster and as a result, be prepared to help their communities be more disaster resilient.

In other words, we are seeking to create a systems approach which can be endorsed by Program Leaders towards eventual inclusion in institutional programs of work across the country. This system will facilitate more meaningful collaborations between state organizations and land grant institutions to guide emergency management planning and training. This approach will be particularly effective in rural communities and may enrich existing programs at the state level.

Two big questions surfaced during the committee meeting.

  • What are the basic disaster-related skills every Extension educator ought to have?
  • How can the committee provide training opportunities to Extension educators?

Let us know what you think here.

Coincidentally, eXtension has a new direction – help Extension professionals do their work more effectively. The new mission and brand reflect the new focus. For EDEN and the Professional Development committee, that can translate to increased opportunity provide training and resources through tools available to CES Professionals and increased reach and impact through participation in and with the new i-Three Corps on the 2016 focus issues climate and food systems.

Many EDEN delegates are aware that we’ve been involved in eXtension for at least a decade. We’ve contributed significant content to the website and the learning management system (Campus), and we support the Ask an Expert system. The content on the web site will continue to be available and, with your help, we will continue to respond to clients’ questions through the Ask an Expert system.

You may wonder how clients will access our content when you see the new web site design. “The content currently on www.extension.org will be seamlessly moved to a new subdomain and available using the Find Resources button,” according to Terry Meisenbach, eXtension Communication & Marketing Leader.

CEO Christine Geith recently presented the new strategy to the eXtension Board of Directors.

Weather Wednesday – Killer Heat

NOAA Archives
NOAA Archives

The July issue of Chicago Magazine serves as the inspiration for today’s post on killer heat. It features a recap, told in the words of residents, first responders, morgue workers and politicians of the July 1995 heatwave in the City of Chicago…twenty years ago next week. I recommend it.

Heat remains consistently the deadliest natural disaster in most years in the United States. The National Weather Service estimates that about 175 people die of heat related causes during an average year. Some years are much worse. The official total of dead attributed to the 1995 event in Chicago stands at 739. Officials argued about which deaths belonged in the count at the time and continue to do so today, but in any event the extent of the disaster cannot be denied.

On Wednesday, July 12, 1995, the temperature in Chicago reached 95-degrees. Certainly not uncommon. But on Thursday the 13th, the high was 104 at O’Hare Airport and 106 at the more urban Midway Airport. To compound the stress, the dewpoint at times exceeded 80-degrees which is rare. That would make the heat index between 120 and 130-degrees.

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Chicago Tribune

By Friday, July 14, with a high of 102, paramedics and police officers knew there was a major problem. The number of fatalities rose to the point that the system was overwhelmed. Refrigerated trucks were brought to the morgue and mortuary students worked non-stop for two days assisting the morgue staff in handling the bodies of victims.

 

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Chicago Tribune

The urban heat island effect was in full operation. Buildings and pavement held the heat at night, especially in the humid air so there was no relief. Many of the victims were elderly, young and those with existing medical issues. The situation was especially dire in poorer neighborhoods where residents either had no fans or air conditioners or were reluctant to use them given the cost of electricity. In addition, some victims were fearful for their safety and kept windows closed and locked. One of the city’s major hospitals lacked air conditioning in most of the building even in 1995! Surgical staffs were rotated frequently.

Since the effects of extreme heat tend to be cumulative, people continued to succumb for days after the heat began to subside on Saturday when the high was “only” 98.

heat_1The Chicago Heatwave of 1995 was a well-documented event, but similar heatwaves are common. Just this past week much of Western Europe had unusually high temperatures and in June perhaps as many as 1,500 people died of the heat in Pakistan. In May of 2015, 2,500 people died in a heatwave in India.

 

The National Weather Service has a number of safety tips, including:
Avoid the Heat. Stay indoors and in air conditioning as much as possible
Check on neighbors and the elderly.
Wear loose fitting clothing. Light colors reflect heat and sun.
Drink plenty of water and natural juices. The body loses water faster than it can absorb it. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Avoid large meals. Eat smaller portions and more frequently.
NEVER leave children or pets in a vehicle even for a few minutes.

In addition, the weather service has a heatwave brochure available for download.

Weather Wednesday — Lightning Safety — Special Monday Edition

We’ll keep things short this week as your author needs to hit the road for visits to our Chicago-area Extension offices.

In some parts of the country, this is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.  The following passage is from the Peoria Journal Star on Monday, June 22, 2015:  … the motorcyclists were traveling side-by-side when lightning hit a taxi van and then the motorcyclists. The driver of the van was injured, but survived, after going into a ditch, but the motorcyclists, who were burnt and suffered heart attacks, died at the scene.  This freak accident occurred in Decatur, Illinois and points to just how unpredictable and dangerous lightning can be.

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–Douglas Berry via NOAA

Severe storms are forecast in a large part of the Great Lakes region and points east early in the week, so I’d like to share a National Weather Service link that tells you just about everything you need to know about lightning safety.