Monday, May 21, 2018

A Few Notes About the Hawaii Volcano Eruption

I was talking to a guy from Hilo, Hawaii yesterday and he brought up some good points that preppers may want to note about the Kilauea volcano:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Preparing for An Influx of Refugees

I came across this article about how our neighboring state of Arizona is preparing for an influx of 400,000+ refugees from California in the event of a major earthquake in that state.  Personally I just don't see how that would work due to extreme heat (should the earthquake happen during the summer), the lack of water (it isn't like the state has a lot of water to start with), the very small roads (it's mostly all four lane highways all the way to Phoenix, other areas only have two lane highways), and the mostly tiny towns (aside from Phoenix) that can't support such a large population even if only temporarily.

But it does give one something to think about.  I have no doubt that if something major happens to make a large swath of California unlivable the people would no doubt migrate east.  Already the traffic is astoundingly heavy on an average Friday heading towards Las Vegas and on Sunday evenings heading back to California.  Multiply that times 100s and there will be miles of gridlock and desperation.

Then once they get to the city (Las Vegas or Phoenix), or I should say "if" they make it to the city as gas stations are few and far between between LA and Vegas/Phoenix and sitting in miles and miles of traffic in the searing heat won't bode well for them, then what will happen?  Fortunately Las Vegas has the ability to house hundreds of thousands of people in its hotels, Phoenix not so much.  And even if taking care of these people for a weekend is easy for a city Las Vegas, having hundreds of thousands of displaced people for months on end is a whole other issue.

So the bottom line is to give some thought to either being the refugee (what situation in your area would make you flee and how would you do this) and/or being the person in the city/town that could become overwhelmed by people fleeing a disaster (there's no doubt that 400,000 people suddenly showing up in Phoenix would have a huge impact on the population that already lives there).

Saturday, May 19, 2018

10 Steps to Basic Preparedness

A lot of new preppers have no idea how to actually begin preparing.  While there is no "right" way to be a prepper, here are ten steps to take to get started:

  1. Put seven gallons of water away to use in case of emergency (this is one gallon of water for one person for a week).
  2. Put $1000 cash aside at your home (hidden/in a safe) to use in case of emergency.
  3. Put aside a week's worth of non-refrigerated, easy to cook food for use in case of an emergency (this could literally be 21 cans of soup--three meals a day for seven days--but you may want a bit more variety in your meals).  Don't forget to have a non-electric can opener.
  4. Pack an overnight bag and keep it in your closet.  You need a change of clothes, toiletries, a bit of food and water...basically if you needed to leave your home in a hurry and camp out at a shelter/hospital/local campground what stuff would you need?  Pack this stuff up and have it on hand to grab in an emergency.
  5. Create a comprehensive first aid kit.  If you don't know anything about first aid, take a class or read a book so you will know how to use the stuff in your kit.  Don't forget to include some back-up prescription meds if you rely on these things.
  6. Contact your department of emergency management and ask about the most common types of emergencies likely to occur in your area and how to prepare for these emergencies.  People who staff this office live for this sort of thing and are usually more than happy to provide you resources to help ensure the public is prepared for the most common local disasters.
  7. Make a daily carry bag.  What sort of stuff do you need everyday?  Make a list of the stuff you need then ensure your bag contains all of these items (be sure to refine this list as you go, including stuff you use as your needs change).  You will probably need sunglasses, a cell phone charger, a couple of sets of prescription meds, a granola bar or two, a water bottle or insulated coffee mug, a pocket knife, pens, etc.
  8. Ensure your home is safe for you and your family.  Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand, that there are new batteries in all of your smoke detectors and CO2 detector, that your front door deadbolt is reinforced and "kick proof", that everyone knows how to exit the house quickly in case of fire, that all of the windows have solid locks, that you have a home security system, etc.
  9. Create a family emergency communication plan.  Give everyone contact numbers for each family member plus someone everyone can call who lives a distance away in case of emergency.  Put these numbers on paper in each person's wallet in case their phone is dead (most people don't memorize phone numbers these days).
  10. Buy a NOAA weather radio if you live in an area prone to weather emergencies.  This will alert you ahead of time in case of hurricane/tornado/etc.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Using Social Media During an Active Shooter Event

I was already thinking about writing this post last night when we had an active shooter event at a local mall here in Las Vegas yesterday evening.  Fortunately it turned out to be a non-event, as the guy was carrying a fake rifle and left the mall before he could be apprehended, although they did catch him later.

Fast forward to today when there was yet another mass shooting at a high school in Texas.  Unfortunately this was not a non-event and ten people were killed with several more injured.  I'll comment more on this event in a future post but for now, here are several rules to follow when using social media during an active shooter event:

  • Don't post anything about law enforcement activity.  You will see people post to Twitter "five SWAT members just went in the front door of the mall" and it makes me shake my head.  Law enforcement needs the element of surprise when approaching an active shooter so helping the shooter by giving away their activities is a really bad idea.
  • Don't post your own activity.  "I'm hiding in the restroom at the back of ____ store" is just plain dumb.  Active shooters also use social media to see what's happening during their siege so don't help them find you.  Similarly, put your cell on silent if you are in such a situation so a ring won't give away your location.
  • Only post information that you can confirm, not rumors.  During last night's event someone posted to Twitter that the shooting was at a completely different mall.  Way to scare the bejesus out of the public.
  • For the love of all that's holy don't post personal information on social media.  "I just saw my friend Jane Doe shot right in front of me!!!"  Unfortunately Jane Doe's parents may be following your social media posts and this is not the way for them to find out about their kid's demise.  Ditto naming a shooter on social media, even if you know them.  Such information should be released by law enforcement after an investigation (people on social media have been proven wrong many times when they name a person who actually turns out to be innocent).
  • Don't rush towards the active shooter situation just to play citizen journalist in order to score some video of the situation.  As soon as info about last night's event went out on social media, a lot of people headed towards the scene, cell cameras in hand.  They were in the way of the police and in the way of each other and if the shooter would have came out blazing these people would have been right in the line of fire.
  • Do post useful information you can verify.  Someone on scene last night posted that they saw the guy and gave a good description of him and his firearm.  That is useful to both law enforcement as well as anyone else on scene who needs to know who to look out for.
  • Evaluate where the information is coming from before giving any credence to its accuracy.  Anyone can post to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit but their information is quite often inaccurate, incomplete, or straight up wrong.  Things posted to a law enforcement agency's social media account is usually very accurate, things posted to your local newspaper/news station's social media is probably accurate (they are getting better about actually confirming information before they post it as posting rumors has come back to bite them too many times).
  • If you have information that needs to be shared with law enforcement, use text to 911 if it is available (calling 911 is better of course but if you can't talk, texting is the next best thing).
  • Be careful about posting photos of an event on social media.  Misidentifying people in photos, showing things in the background that shouldn't be shared with the public (like dead bodies), and inadvertently giving away the positions of law enforcement personnel are just some of the issues with this.
  • Don't believe everything you see/read on social media.  There was a lot of incorrect information posted for hours on social media during last night's event.  People said there was two shooters (there was one), people said two people were shot (no one was shot), people said the event was over (even before the mall was cleared and no shooter was found) went on and on like that.
  • Avoid the media.  Today's media circus at the Texas high school was appalling.  I don't know who thought it was a good idea to thrust a microphone in a traumatized child's face and start asking them questions about their friends being massacred but someone should smack those reporters upside the head when they do that.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Why You Need to Be Knowledgeable About All Kinds of Disasters

The first step to being prepared is to know what kinds of disasters are common to the area you live and then prepare to avoid/respond to/mitigate such disasters.  But even if you live a thousand miles from the coast or a long flight away from tornado alley, you still should be knowledgeable about hurricanes and tornadoes...and every other common (and uncommon) type of disaster that could happen in order to prepare for the unlikely event of finding yourself in the midst of such an occurrence.

For as often as I have been to Connecticut, I would never expect to see a tornado there, let alone four in one day as happened yesterday.  I've also been to Hawaii several times, including a couple trips to Kilauea, but would never have expected the huge eruptions that are currently taking place there.  A similar thing was noted by survivors of the Banda Ache tsunami, many of them tourists, who had no idea what a tsunami even looked like let alone how to respond to one.

While you may never encounter a winter blizzard, an earthquake, or other sort of natural or man-made disaster, it pays to at least study up on all of the various types of disasters so that if you happen to be on vacation or away on business and run into such a disaster, you will know how to react and respond.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

10 "Treats" to Add to Your BOB

You can find all kinds of lists of stuff you should put in your bug out bag.  Nearly all of these lists cover the basics (socks, extra ammo), and some cover beyond the basics (tactical gear, night vision goggles).  When you are in a survival situation, however, you sometimes need a few treats to see you through difficult and stressful times.  So called "comfort items", these things will make your bad day a bit better...

  1. Candy.  Preferably chocolate if it won't melt all over your bag (and if you like chocolate).  Otherwise just toss in some of your favorites.
  2. Alcohol.  Tiny bottles of alcohol can be purchased at your local liquor store and again, pack a few bottles of your favorites (Scotch, brandy, etc).
  3. Books.  A book, if that is all you have room for or, better yet, a Kindle (and solar charger) with many books on it.
  4. Journal and pen.  If you like to write or journal, a small notebook can help you decompress (or better yet record useful information about your situation).
  5. Playing cards.  This is a great way to pass the time, either alone (Solitaire), with a group (poker), or with the grandkids (Go Fish).
  6. Something to alleviate stress.  A fidget spinner, bubble wrap, stress ball, a Rubik's Cube, yarn and knitting needles, etc.
  7. Ear plugs and eye mask.  In case you want to tune out the world and get some peace and quiet.
  8. Bag Balm.  Fixes dry, cracked skin on face/hands/feet/etc.
  9. Movies/video games.  This is another way to take your attention off the situation at hand and kill some time.  Instead of a Kindle, you can just bring a tablet which can contain books, movies, and video games.  Be sure to include ear buds.
  10. Personal item.  Something important to you--family photos on your tablet, handwritten notes from a SO, etc.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Daily Preparedness Tip: Know What Your Homeowners Insurance Covers

As the volcano in Hawaii continues to erupt, there have been questions about homeowner's insurance covering volcano damage to homes, up to and including the hot lava burning the homes to the ground.  Obviously the best time to figure out what your homeowner's insurance covers, and what additional riders you can purchase to cover such things as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc, is before you need it.  Take a few minutes today to figure out if your homeowner's insurance covers the most common types of natural disasters where you live and/or if you need to buy an additional special coverage for disasters unique to your area.