The UK has fairly mild weather in contrast with many other countries; however, occasionally we do fall foul to extreme weather conditions.
Earthquakes in the UK
Earthquakes are caused by energy that is created when the tectonic plates that lie under the ground rub together; earthquakes are usually felt on land that sits close to the edges of the plates. The UK is not prone to earthquakes because we are not close to the edges of any tectonic plates, also known as fault lines; however, there are around 200 earthquakes in this region each year; most of them are not strong enough to be felt by people. The last significant earthquake to hit the UK was an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, which hit Lincolnshire in February 2008.
Effects of earthquakes
Earthquakes can have devastating effects; the recent quake in Haiti exemplifies this, with thousands of people left homeless, thousands of people killed and thousands of children orphaned. The effects of the earthquake were horrifying, with the country more or less brought to a stand-still and whole towns and villages brought to the ground; the clean-up programme and aid efforts will go on for months, maybe years.
If an earthquake occurs near the coast, it can cause a tsunami. A tsunami is an extremely powerful series of tidal waves which can bring devastation to low lying countries; the most famous tsunami was the one that hit countries in and around the Indian Ocean back in 2004; over 200,000 people were killed and thousands were left homeless and injured.
It is impossible to prevent earthquakes but technology can be used to detect early warning signs which can be used to warn people; in severe cases, people may be asked to evacuate the area. It is important to build homes on strong foundation and to use hard-wearing building materials; this will make homes more resistant to the tremors generated by earthquakes.
Tornadoes in the UK
Tornadoes are not usually associated with the UK, but we have experienced a few tornadoes over the course of the last decade. Birmingham has recently been hit by a tornado and in 2006, London was also hit by a tornado; nobody was killed but 10 million pounds worth of damage was caused.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is an extremely powerful windstorm that often accompanies tropical thunderstorms and hurricanes; most tornadoes are clearly visible as a revolving column of wind; they are also known as twisters.
What causes tornadoes?
Tornadoes are formed when different air temperatures combine to form thunder clouds; they are most common to the east of the Rocky Mountains in America.
Effects of tornadoes
Tornadoes can cause widespread destruction and can flatten buildings in a matter of minutes; mild tornadoes usually produce very strong winds but don’t usually cause much damage, while more severe tornadoes can cause extensive damage and can result in loss of life. Tornadoes may also contribute to flooding, which can cause further devastation.
It is impossible to prevent tornadoes but it is possible to make your home more resistant to damage by ensuring the foundations are solid and the materials the house was built with are strong and durable. Early warning signs can be detected by weather experts so people can be evacuated in the event of a serious tornado.
Winter weather emergencies
The British winter
In the last few years Britain has been battered by heavy snowfall in the winter months, which has brought the country to a stand-still. Heavy snow hit most parts of the UK at the end of last year and in the first few weeks of 2010, with many people being forced to abandon travel arrangements, take time off work and stay at home. Thousands of schools shut, hundreds of roads closed and millions of pounds were lost in people taking time off work.
Effects of heavy snowfall
For many people, snow means a day off school and an afternoon spent sledging in place of lessons, but for others it can be much more serious; it is estimated that around 20 people died as a direct result of cold weather this winter and thousands of people were left without electricity and were stranded in their homes. Heavy snow means road and rail networks have to be temporarily closed down and air travel is suspended; without transport links people are unable to get out and about and have to alter their plans; when children are off school parents have to find alternative childcare and may have to take time off work.
Weather also affects power lines, which means that thousands of people may be left without heating and the ability to cook food and have hot showers at the coldest time of the year; for vulnerable people such as the elderly and young children this can be extremely dangerous; these problems are compounded by the lack of transport links which make it very difficult for people to come and repair damaged power lines.
Extreme weather conditions also cause a significant increase in the number of road accidents and accidents like falls and trips; hospital accident and emergency departments are often full of people that have slipped and suffered a sprain or a fracture. Illness is also very common in the winter months, with viral and bacterial infections, like coughs, colds and flu flying around. Difficult driving conditions mean that road accidents are very common; agencies often encourage people to avoid driving unless they absolutely have to if the weather is particularly bad.
Coping with weather emergencies
If bad weather is predicted, make sure you have plenty of food supplies in the house, stock up on duvets and blankets and buy candles; this will help you to keep warm and enable you to see if there is a power cut. If the weather is really bad, don’t try and drive.
In order to keep healthy in the winter, make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of your daily diet, exercise regularly and keep warm; if you are going out wrap up warm and keep your heating at a suitable level.