Of late, I keep reading more articles on the subject of Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons and how devastating they are. EMP’s for some reason have become something akin to the Boogey Man. EMP’s are great as story lines in books and movies, but from both a personal and professional stand point EMP’s are at the very bottom of my list of things I need to worry about when it comes to preparing. Why? Because it doesn’t pass the common sense test! Its not that I don’t think they work or anything of that nature, its that the juice ain’t worth the squeeze!
We are talking about one of the most sophisticated weapons on the earth. Saddam Hussein spent hundreds of millions of dollars and years trying to create a nuclear device and couldn’t. Sure, some rogue nation could sell one to a bunch of bad guys, but what do you think the price tag would be for such an item? And, you wouldn’t want it traced back to you. Or, one could be stolen, right. Yep, completely plausible. On both accounts you have to have someone or a group of people, with specialize knowledge that can set this thing up. I’m assuming its not as easy as putting the red wire into the red plug and the black wire into the black plug. Then, we have to drive it to a port and ship this thing to the states by boat. Of course we will bypass any and all security measures. Now we are in the states with this thing, so which city do we go for? New York City, the city, which has become the de facto place that represents all things American. How big is this thing anyways? To get the most bang for our buck we have to detonate this thing up high, maybe the roof of a building. Unfortunately, the other buildings would reduce the effects…a plane. We have to rent a cargo plane and a couple of pilots to fly us over the city and some poor schmuck has to be on board to set it off. The more you talk through it the less and less plausible it all sounds.
Who knows what the effects would be or if it would even work! There are so many variables. It does make for a good story line, but the facts are that the bad guys are constrained by the same things that you and I are, which is money, resources, logistics, personnel, time and so on. There are much simpler, cheaper and more effective ways to create devastation and havoc than though the use of a complicated EMP.
I understand that some individuals are concerned about nuclear war, if that’s the case then an EMP would be the last of your worries. So before you go out and spend some money to build a Faraday cage, think about it.
I was reading the paper this morning and California is again getting hit with devastating forest fires. As someone who likes to be prepared, it got me thinking. What would I do in the same situation? If I had to evacuate my home in 10 minutes or less, what would I take? And, could I grab everything I wanted in such a short time? To get a better feel for this type of situation, here is snippet from the USA Today article.
Lane Butchko, a retired resident without a car, recounted desperately fleeing a half-mile down a mountain road before a motorist picked him up.
“I grabbed my dog and we ran for our lives. I forgot my teeth,” he said. “We were going at a full gallop and halfway down I fell, tripped on the dog’s leash. When I got up, I felt the heat of the fire on my back and I saw a tree burst into flames.”
Its quite obvious that Mr. Butchko had less than 10 mins to prepare, he only had time to grab the dog. So, would you be able to walk away from your home confidently in 10 mins? I’ve provided a few examples of ways to better prepare. As always, the lists are never exhaustive, they are designed to get you thinking.
- Do you have an evacuation plan? Go over it with your family and practice.
- Is your emergency kit ready and located where you need it?
- What is your communication plan? Do the kids know who to call? Do you have an out of state contact?
- Do you have a “meet up” location? You should actually have two meet up places incase the first is inaccessible.
- Do you have your important documents in a central location?
- Are all of your personal affairs in order? Home insurance, will, etc.
- Is your vehicle prepared and does it have any emergency equipment?
The whole point is to have some type of plan so you aren’t completely caught off guard if something bad does happen. If you aren’t sure where to begin or how to start an emergency plan, go check out Ready.gov. They have both online forms and down loadable forms which will help in designing your plan.
It may be the economy, the perceive increase in natural disasters or just the overall mood of the country, but there seems to be a resurgence of interest in underground shelters. USA Today has a story about one individual in California who is selling space in his “13,000-square-foot refurbished underground shelter formerly operated by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location near Barstow, Calif., that will have room for 134 people.” Click on the link to get the full story.
Every household should have at least one first aid kit on hand. A first aid kit is just one more tool in your repertoire of emergency preparedness. Personally, I recommend creating your own first aid kit for several reasons. One, most commercial first aid kits on the market are skimpy! In an effort to keep the price down, companies put the bare minimum in a first aid kit. Two, if you create your own kit, you know exactly what’s in it, which makes it more usable when you need it. And three, no one knows your preferences, requirements or your particular situation like you do.
To help you create your own first aid kit and provide some guidance, I’ve added a recommend list of items. Make sure and modify this list to suit your particular needs.
- activated charcoal
- diarrhea medication
- hydrogen peroxide
- insect repellent
- insect sting swabs
- burn ointment
- eye drops
- medique® medi-lyte electrolyte heat relief tablets
- cough drops
- triple antibiotic ointment
- hydrocortisone cream
- medicated lip ointment
- antibiotic ointment
- antifungal cream
- alcohol prep
- antiseptic towelette
- povidone iodine wipe
- water purification tablets
- hand sanitizer
- band-aids assorted sizes
- absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- roller bandage (2 inches wide)
- roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
- sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- ace bandage
- triangular bandages
- medical tape
- steri strip
- cotton balls
- cotton swabs
- razor blades
- tongue blades
- sam splint
- space blanket
- safety pins
- needles & thread
- first aid guide
- chemical ice packs
- chemical hot packs
- flash light
A first aid kit is not one of those items you can create or buy and then just forget about. Make sure and check your first aid kit on a regular basis to ensure the contents haven’t expired. One last thing! All these items are worthless if you don’t know how to use them, training is the key element in any first aid kit. There are numerous resources to choose from, a good starting point may be the Red Cross.
Most everyone agrees that you should store “soft” copies of your important personal data on some type of portable drive in the event of an emergency. Documents such as drivers license, DD 214, insurances, birth certificate, etc all come to mind. But what type of portable drive should you get? Well, look no further! LaCie a maker external hard drives of has come out with the LaCie XtremKey. It’s described as being “constructed with zamac, a metal alloy composed of zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper that’s so strong, it can withstand the pressure of a 10-ton truck”. Not a bad way to protect your data.
The Internet is chock full of information and tools that can potentially help people in their everyday lives. Google Earth is one of those invaluable tools and quite frankly if you aren’t utilizing Google Earth for your emergency planning then you are missing the boat. Government agencies, law enforcement, and corporations used to spend large amounts of capital to obtain high quality satellite data, but now they use Google Earth and so can you, for FREE. To get an idea of how these entities utilize Google Earth, read some of the “case studies”.
Now, I don’t want to imply that I think you should throw away your national and local maps, but instead use Google Earth to compliment maps that you already have. You can plan out your entire evacuation route, a backup route and all of your Points of Interest (POI) along the way. POI’s might include places such as, ATM’s, gas stations, grocery stores, and even your cache sites. Then print out the satellite photos of your route and place them with your maps. Or if you have a GPS system that accepts coordinates, add the entire route into your GPS system.
Other ways to use Google Earth:
- Discover alternate routes
- Locate hiking trails
- Find forests to escape into
- Locate train tracks
- Find rivers, streams, lakes or ponds
- Locate alleyways
Did I mention that there is also an iphone application, which is also FREE! Now get out there and create yourself some digital maps and start planning!
The 12 Rules of Survival has been out of a couple of years now, but it never hurts to reread them. Read the whole book “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” if you get an opportunity! Also, check out his new book “Lucy” at www.laurencegonzales.com!
THE 12 RULES OF SURVIVAL
By Laurence Gonzales
As a journalist, I’ve been writing about accidents for more than thirty years. In the last 15 or so years, I’ve concentrated on accidents in outdoor recreation, in an effort to understand who lives, who dies, and why. To my surprise, I found an eerie uniformity in the way people survive seemingly impossible circumstances. Decades and sometimes centuries apart, separated by culture, geography, race, language, and tradition, the most successful survivors — those who practice what I call “deep survival” — go through the same patterns of thought and behavior, the same transformation and spiritual discovery, in the course of keeping themselves alive. Not only that but it doesn’t seem to matter whether they are surviving being lost in the wilderness or battling cancer, whether they’re struggling through divorce or facing a business catastrophe — the strategies remain the same.
Survival should be thought of as a journey, a vision quest of the sort that native Americans have had as a rite of passage for thousands of years. Once you’re past the precipitating event — you’re cast away at sea or told you have cancer — you have been enrolled in one of the oldest schools in history. Here are a few things I’ve learned that can help you pass the final exam.
1. Perceive and Believe
Don’t fall into the deadly trap of denial or of immobilizing fear. Admit it: You’re really in trouble and you’re going to have to get yourself out.
Many people who in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, died simply because they told themselves that everything was going to be all right. Others panicked. Panic doesn’t necessarily mean screaming and running around. Often it means simply doing nothing. Survivors don’t candy-coat the truth, but they also don’t give in to hopelessness in the face of it.
Survivors see opportunity, even good, in their situation, however grim. After the ordeal is over, people may be surprised to hear them say it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Viktor Frankl, who spent three years in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, describes comforting a woman who was dying. She told him, “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard. In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.”
The phases of the survival journey roughly parallel the five stages of death once described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her book On Death and Dying: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In dire circumstances, a survivor moves through those stages rapidly to acceptance of his situation, then resolves to do something to save himself. Survival depends on telling yourself, “Okay, I’m here. This is really happening. Now I’m going to do the next right thing to get myself out.” Whether you succeed or not ultimately becomes irrelevant. It is in acting well — even suffering well — that you give meaning to whatever life you have to live.
2. Stay Calm – Use Your Anger
In the initial crisis, survivors are not ruled by fear; instead, they make use of it. Their fear often feels like (and turns into) anger, which motivates them and makes them feel sharper. Aron Ralston, the hiker who had to cut off his hand to free himself from a stone that had trapped him in a slot canyon in Utah, initially panicked and began slamming himself over and over against the boulder that had caught his hand. But very quickly, he stopped himself, did some deep breathing, and began thinking about his options. He eventually spent five days progressing through the stages necessary to convince him of what decisive action he had to take to save his own life.
When Lance Armstrong, six-time winner of the Tour de France, awoke from brain surgery for his cancer, he first felt gratitude. “But then I felt a second wave, of anger… I was alive, and I was mad.” When friends asked him how he was doing, he responded, “I’m doing great… I like it like this. I like the odds stacked against me… I don’t know any other way.” That’s survivor thinking.
Survivors also manage pain well. As a bike racer, Armstrong had had long training in enduring pain, even learning to love it. James Stockdale, a fighter pilot who was shot down in Vietnam and spent eight years in the Hanoi Hilton, as his prison camp was known, advised those who would learn to survive: “One should include a course of familiarization with pain. You have to practice hurting. There is no question about it.”
3. Think, Analyze, and Plan
Survivors quickly organize, set up routines, and institute discipline.
When Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer, he organized his fight against it the way he would organize his training for a race. He read everything he could about it, put himself on a training schedule, and put together a team from among friends, family, and doctors to support his efforts. Such conscious, organized effort in the face of grave danger requires a split between reason and emotion in which reason gives direction and emotion provides the power source. Survivors often report experiencing reason as an audible “voice.”
Steve Callahan, a sailor and boat designer, was rammed by a whale and sunk while on a solo voyage in 1982. Adrift in the Atlantic for 76 days in a five-and-a-half-foot raft, he experienced his survival voyage as taking place under the command of a “captain,” who gave him his orders and kept him on his water ration, even as his own mutinous (emotional) spirit complained. His captain routinely lectured “the crew.” Thus under strict control, he was able to push away thoughts that his situation was hopeless and take the necessary first steps of the survival journey: to think clearly, analyze his situation, and formulate a plan.
4. Take Correct, Decisive Action
Survivors are willing to take risks to save themselves and others. But they are simultaneously bold and cautious in what they will do. Lauren Elder was the only survivor of a light plane crash in high sierra. Stranded on a peak above 12,000 feet, one arm broken, she could see the San Joaquin Valley in California below, but a vast wilderness and sheer and icy cliffs separated her from it. Wearing a wrap-around skirt and blouse, with two-inch heeled boots and not even wearing underwear, she crawled “on all fours, doing a kind of sideways spiderwalk,” as she put it later, “balancing myself on the ice crust, punching through it with my hands and feet.”
She had 36 hours of climbing ahead of her — a seemingly impossible task. But Elder allowed herself to think only as far as the next big rock. Survivors break down large jobs into small, manageable tasks. They set attainable goals and develop short-term plans to reach them. They are meticulous about doing those tasks well. Elder tested each hold before moving forward and stopped frequently to rest. They make very few mistakes. They handle what is within their power to deal with from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day.
5. Celebrate your success
Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. This helps keep motivation high and prevents a lethal plunge into hopelessness. It also provides relief from the unspeakable strain of a life-threatening situation. Elder said that once she had completed her descent of the first pitch, she looked up at the impossibly steep slope and thought, “Look what you’ve done…Exhilarated, I gave a whoop that echoed down the silent pass.” Even with a broken arm, joy was Elder’s constant companion. A good survivor always tells herself: count your blessings — you’re alive. Viktor Frankl wrote of how he felt at times in Auschwitz: “How content we were; happy in spite of everything.”
6. Be a Rescuer, Not a Victim
Survivors are always doing what they do for someone else, even if that someone is thousands of miles away. There are numerous strategies for doing this. When Antoine Saint-Exupery was stranded in the Lybian desert after his mail plane suffered an engine failure, he thought of how his wife would suffer if he gave up and didn’t return. Yossi Ghinsberg, a young Israeli hiker, was lost in the Bolivian jungle for more than two weeks after becoming separated from his friends. He hallucinated a beautiful companion with whom he slept each night as he traveled. Everything he did, he did for her. People cannot survive for themselves alone; their must be a higher motive.
Viktor Frankl put it this way: “Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.” He suggests taking it as “the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
7. Enjoy the Survival Journey
It may seem counterintuitive, but even in the worst circumstances, survivors find something to enjoy, some way to play and laugh. Survival can be tedious, and waiting itself is an art. Elder found herself laughing out loud when she started to worry that someone might see up her skirt as she climbed. Even as Callahan’s boat was sinking, he stopped to laugh at himself as he clutched a knife in his teeth like a pirate while trying to get into his life raft. And Viktor Frankl ordered some of his companions in Auschwitz who were threatening to give up hope to force themselves to think of one funny thing each day.
Survivors also use the intellect to stimulate, calm, and entertain the mind. While moving across a near-vertical cliff face in Peru, Joe Simpson developed a rhythmic pattern of placing his ax, plunging his other arm into the snow face, and then making a frightening little hop with his good leg. “I meticulously repeated the pattern,” he wrote later. “I began to feel detached from everything around me.”
Singing, playing mind games, reciting poetry, counting anything, and doing mathematical problems in your head can make waiting possible and even pleasant, even while heightening perception and quieting fear. Stockdale wrote, “The person who came into this experiment with reams of already memorized poetry was the bearer of great gifts.”
When Lance Armstrong was undergoing horrible chemotherapy, his mantra became his blood count: “Those numbers became the highlight of each day; they were my motivation… I would concentrate on that number, as if I could make the counts by mentally willing it.”
Lost in the Bolivian jungle, Yossi Ghinsberg reported, “When I found myself feeling hopeless, I whispered my mantra, ‘Man of action, man of action.’ I don’t know where I had gotten the phrase… I repeated it over and over: A man of action does whatever he must, isn’t afraid, and doesn’t worry.”
Survivors engage their crisis almost as an athlete engages a sport. They cling to talismans. They discover the sense of flow of the expert performer, the “zone” in which emotion and thought balance each other in producing fluid action. A playful approach to a critical situation also leads to invention, and invention may lead to a new technique, strategy, or design that could save you.
8. See the Beauty
Survivors are attuned to the wonder of their world, especially in the face of mortal danger. The appreciation of beauty, the feeling of awe, opens the senses to the environment. (When you see something beautiful, your pupils actually dilate.) Debbie Kiley and four others were adrift in the Atlantic after their boat sank in a hurricane in 1982. They had no supplies, no water, and would die without rescue. Two of the crew members drank sea water and went mad. When one of them jumped overboard and was being eaten by sharks directly under their dinghy, Kiley felt as if she, too, were going mad, and told herself, “Focus on the sky, on the beauty there.”
When Saint-Exupery’s plane went down in the Lybian Desert, he was certain that he was doomed, but he carried on in this spirit: “Here we are, condemned to death, and still the certainty of dying cannot compare with the pleasure I am feeling. The joy I take from this half an orange which I am holding in my hand is one of the greatest joys I have ever known.” At no time did he stop to bemoan his fate, or if he did, it was only to laugh at himself.
9. Believe That You Will Succeed
It is at this point, following what I call “the vision,” that the survivor’s will to live becomes firmly fixed. Fear of dying falls away, and a new strength fills them with the power to go on. “During the final two days of my entrapment,” Ralston recalled, “I felt an increasing reserve of energy, even though I had run out of food and water.” Elder said, “I felt rested and filled with a peculiar energy.” And: “It was as if I had been granted an unlimited supply of energy.”
Yes you might die. In fact, you will die — we all do. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be today. Don’t let it worry you. Forget about rescue. Everything you need is inside you already. Dougal Robertson, a sailor who was cast away at sea for thirty-eight days after his boat sank, advised thinking of survival this way: “Rescue will come as a welcome interruption of… the survival voyage.” One survival psychologist calls that “resignation without giving up. It is survival by surrender.”
Simpson reported, “I would probably die out there amid those boulders. The thought didn’t alarm me… the horror of dying no longer affected me.” The Tao Te Ching explains how this surrender leads to survival:
The rhinoceros has no place to jab its horn,
The tiger has no place to fasten its claws,
Weapons have no place to admit their blades.
What is the reason for this?
Because on him there are no mortal spots.
11. Do Whatever Is Necessary
Elder down-climbed vertical ice and rock faces with no experience and no equipment. In the black of night, Callahan dove into the flooded saloon of his sinking boat, at once risking and saving his life. Aron Ralston cut off his own arm to free himself. A cancer patient allows herself to be nearly killed by chemotherapy in order to live.
Survivors have a reason to live and are willing to bet everything on themselves. They have what psychologists call meta-knowledge: They know their abilities and do not over or underestimate them. They believe that anything is possible and act accordingly.
12. Never Give Up
When Apollo 13′s oxygen tank exploded, apparently dooming the crew, Commander Jim Lovell chose to keep on transmitting whatever data he could back to mission control, even as they burned up on re-entry. Simpson, Elder, Callahan, Kiley, Stockdale, Ghinsberg — were all equally determined and knew this final truth: If you’re still alive, there is always one more thing that you can do.
Survivors are not easily discouraged by setbacks. They accept that the environment is constantly changing and know that they must adapt. When they fall, they pick themselves up and start the entire process over again, breaking it down into manageable bits.
Survivors always have a clear reason for going on. They keep their spirits up by developing an alternate world, created from rich memories, into which they can escape. They see opportunity in adversity. In the aftermath, survivors learn from and are grateful for the experiences that they’ve had. As Elder told me once, “I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. And sometimes I even miss it. I miss the clarity of knowing exactly what you have to do next.”
Those who would survive the hazards of our world, whether at play or in business or at war, through illness or financial calamity, will do so through a journey of transformation. But that transcendent state doesn’t miraculously appear when it is needed. It wells up from a lifetime of experiences, attitudes, and practices form one’s personality, a core from which the necessary strength is drawn. A survival experience is an incomparable gift: It will tell you who you really are.
copyright (c) 2003 by Laurence Gonzales
Washington D.C. awoke to an earthquake this morning around 5:00AM. Luckily it was small as earthquakes go, only 3.6 in magnitude. It should serve as a little reminder to us that the planet we live on is in a state of constant flux. Preparing for natural disasters should make sense to everyone, just like having car insurance does. I don’t drive my car around with the fear I’m going to be in an accident, but if I am in an accident, I know I have insurance to cover the damages. The same should holds true for disasters, being prepared is like having your own personal insurance policy.
So how can you prepare for an earthquake? The Red Cross provides a few basic tips for us:
- Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
- Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
- Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
- Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
- Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
- Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy to access location.
Additionally, always have a fire extinguisher in your home and ensure everyone in the family knows how to operate it.
I was doing some research on-line and came across some pretty interesting pants. A company called Skillers makes these pants and what makes them unique are some internal pockets that flip out and lay outside of the pant. Skillers designed these pants with workers in mind to put nails and screws in, but like most things in this world you can re-purpose them for your particular needs. The first thing I thought was how great these things would be to go hunting in or to the range; you could load the pockets with ammo or mags or whatever else you can think of. Another great feature, which could also be used at the range, is the knees have pockets to put knee pads in. Just in case you need to go tactical! I think I’ll pick up a pair and test them out. If you have a pair, let me know what you think of them.
Apparently, I am a horrible prepper! We are now in the grips of hurricane season, so I tell myself I better go check out the pantry to see what we have on hand (I know, I’m already late!). To my shock we had very little in the way of can goods let alone the staples needed to survive an extended power outage. I guess even the best of us tend to slack off now and then.
After coming up with a short-term list of items and consulting with the wife, I came up with a pretty extensive list that I believe we should have in the event of an emergency. It’s definitely not an all-inclusive list, but I think it will get us through a two-week period. I’m sure all you long term preppers will get a kick out of my list.
• canned beans
• canned chicken
• canned meats
• canned seafood
• canned broths
• canned evaporated milk
• canned soups
• canned juices
• canned fruit
• canned brown bread
• canned vegetables
• pasta sauces
• canned pie fillings
• dried soup mixes
• instant potatoes
• instant oatmeal
• dried pastas
• dried vegetables
• powdered milk
• dried meat
• bouillon cubes and granules
• sauce mixes
• pesto mixes
• instant pudding mixes
• dried fruit
• dried mushrooms
Shelf Stable Food
• instance coffee
• jams and jellies
• mustard and ketchup
• boxed juices
• snack and energy bars
• peanut butter
• olive oil
• cracker bread
• shelf-stable Parmesan cheese
• cream of wheat
• baking soda
• baking powder
• corn meal