Bubble, Bubble…Sun, We Might Be in Trouble

I had a post some time back about the beginning of groanings regarding solar storms (reference post: You Are My Sunshine). I’ve been doing more research and I personally believe this is worth revisiting. I know more now then I knew back then. To be sure the probability of having a catastrophic event is very low. However, the impact if it occurs would be DEVASTATING. This is a low probability, high impact event. And if you need an illustration to drive home the reality of this. Consider, hypothetically, a rare, deadly disease that occurs in a small (<5) percentage of children (or if you don’t have children, picture yourself). Now imagine that your child has that disease. Do you care anymore that <5% of kids ever get stricken? No, of course you don’t because it’s happening to you!

My point is that if the worst happens, it won’t matter that it wasn’t likely. What will matter is what did you do to prepare?

The major concern is the power grid. Imagine not having power for months or years. Imagine the level of social breakdown that will occur if this nation doesn’t have electricity for that amount of time. Did you know that grocery stores only carry a few days worth of food for the area at a time. We rely on an always moving transportation system to deliver our goods. If we don’t have electricity then we don’t have operating oil refineries and eventually we run out of gas. If we run out of gas, that next shipment of chicken breasts isn’t going to make it to Safeway. And even if it did, they won’t be able to keep it refrigerated and neither can you. Total social breakdown would be inevitable. People will get desperate, just like I’ve discussed in other posts.

Go to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) website and dig around. The government has been looking into and discussing the effect of Electromagnetic Pulses on the national power grid since the 70’s. And they are still discussing it. The problem hasn’t been solved. Check out the attached executive summary, also from ORNL. It is four pages of content and two pages of resources. Of interest are the dates of those resources because although the main paper is undated they are….2010. This paper is recent.

 

 


Hand Cannons of Choice

I’ve had a couple of requests for me to bite the bullet (LOL! Ha! Pun intended) and go ahead and discuss firearms as they relate to preparedness. I think my hesitation lies with the fact there can be so much contention regarding the whole topic. Whether or not to own firearms. Which models/calibers are best. And on and on and on.

Well let’s get the first issue out of the way right off the bat. I’m from the South, the Great State of TEXAS to be exact, and to even further declare my heritage, the piney woods of East TEXAS. And so where do I stand on firearms? Right in the middle of as many as I can afford. They are a way of life where I grew up and as a prepper, they ought to be one of yours as well. Quite frankly, you need to understand that the overwhelming majority of society think prepping and preppers are crazy. They are not preparing. They are not going to be prepared.  When the moment arrives, they are going to be possibly injured, and definitely hungry and thirsty. They are going to be desperate to survive. Their survival instincts are going to kick in and eventually they will end up at your doorstep in search of things like electricity, medicine, food, and water. If you have kept your prepping a family secret, then you will be fine until the random door-to-door pillaging starts. If you have blabbed about your prepping activities, then guess what? They are coming to your house first and they are coming in droves. And if karma keeps kicking your tail as much as it seems she is in that moment, they are coming armed. You better be armed to the hilt as well. If, no WHEN, someone shows up at your doorstep either begging or demanding to share in your preparedness bounty you had better be ready to defend your goodies. I’m not going to debate the second amendment, because I can read. And having read it, I understand it. Enough said.

Having cleared up that issue, let’s talk about firearms as they pertain to protecting your Keep. Just as there are two main areas of focus for preparedness (shelter in place verses evacuation), there are two main schools of thought on this home front. Handguns verses long guns (i.e. rifle, shotgun, etc.). Tonight all I’m going to discuss is the handgun. If you are a fan of Pulp Fiction you may affectionately refer to it as the hand cannon. But then  again I guess that may also depend on the caliber you choose, wouldn’t it. 🙂

Many, many people have asked me following my preparedness presentations, “what caliber do you recommend for home defense/preparedness?”. I’ve got to be honest if you already subscribe to firearms, you most likely have a preference and it’s just one of those “to each his own” things. If you have zero experience with handguns, then quite frankly you have some research…also known as play time :-)…ahead of you. My personal opinion? The best choice is whatever you are comfortable with. I’m not being trite here. The truth is that everyone is different as far as height, weight, strength, stamina, comfort, and experience with a firearm. All of these things make a huge difference in your handgun proficiency with regard to model/caliber. If you have a particular handgun model/caliber that you are comfortable with, then by all means, make that your weapon of choice. If you don’t know yet, because you just haven’t had the opportunity to experience any, then get yourself on down to your local gun range and try some out. Enroll in some courses. Read about the various options and features with regards to their functionality and capability and then try them out and choose. But the most important part is GET COMFORTABLE with your weapon. Get proficient. This will never happen if you don’t practice. You know what you will have if you just buy something and never practice shooting it? A hot mess. You will be dangerous as hell. Those in the law enforcement world call it “muscle memory” and you need a healthy dose of it when it comes to your sidearm. Muscle memory what is obtained when you have practiced till you are blue in the face. You have practiced under all conditions to include hot and cold weather, inside and outside, standing and proned, behind cover and exposed, with and without a boat-load of adrenaline pumping through you system. Having muscle memory means that your hair could be on fire and the world falling down around you and you would pick up that weapon with absolute confidence, draw down on your target, and release a round without so much as one inkling of hesitation, with proficient accuracy.

Now, if you are one of the uninitiated with sidearms, you may still be wondering where to begin as far as choosing. I think the best way is for you to hear other folks testimonials. I’m going to give you mine and I sure hope we will get some comments regarding others. (Let’s keep it cool though, there is no right or wrong, only preferences and experiences.)

Having spend time in law enforcement, I received an obscene amount of training with the Sig Sauer P229 (SIG .357). Because of my training with this weapon, it is in fact my fist choice for a pistol. This is for all the reasons I stated above. I have an enormous amount of confidence in my ability to use my 229. Regardless of the fact that I’ve been out of the realm of law enforcement for many years, that weapon in my hands or on my hip simply feels natural to me. I’m so comfortable with it and its operation that it feels like an extension of myself. I personally, wouldn’t carry anything else simply because of the training that I’ve had. Can you easily receive this level of training? No, probably not, but if you practice, you can achieve that level of confidence.

The point is, I personally believe that choosing a handgun is extremely personal. I would discourage taking someone else’s opinion at face value. Sure there are lots of choices even beyond model and caliber. I haven’t even gone into the realistic differences between revolvers and semiautomatic. I realize it may feel extremely inhibiting to walk into a gun range and admit you have zero experience, but unless the guy is an ass (and if that is the case, deny him your monies, get in the car  and drive to the next range), most likely he will do his job and help you. He will take your level of experience and intended use into consideration, make some recommendations, and let you send some rounds down range. After having that experience, take some time to evaluate what feels right and maneuverable to you. Guns are very personal. Take some time, do some research, and practice to figure out which one speaks to you. Did you see any of the Harry Potter movies or read the books? LOL. Harry goes to pick a magic wand and the salesman tells him that actually the wand will pick him. And that’s exactly what happens…let the gun pick you. (If you are interested, the scene is linked below. 3:25 into the video below will be the line.) Trust me, the right one in your hand can feel the same way.

We’ll talk later about long guns. Let’s take it one step at a time. A hand gun can be used for home protection as well as concealed carry, so let’s start there. For those of you also reared on the second amendment, I’m positive you’ve got a “baby” of your own. Speak up and lend your advice and experience to our prepper brothers and sisters. Gimmie some comments detailing your preferences. I’ll never betray my baby the 229, but that’s not to say I’m not in the market for brothers and sisters well :-). I’m always open to your advice.

Take care.


Don’t Forget (3)

Many of us are required at work to wear a lanyard at work in order to display our access badges or credentials. I would like to strongly recommend that you consider attaching a whistle to your lanyard. If you don’t have to wear a lanyard, consider adding a whistle to your key chain.  If you are ever in an emergency situation where you need to be heard over the deafening sound of a storm, rushing water, or an alarm, a whistle can mean the difference in life or death. A whistle can reach pitches that are noticeable where your screaming voice can simply be drowned out by those other sounds.

In addition, if you are ever trapped in a building where your chest may be compressed beneath a pylon or if you are in a location where oxygen is sparse, a whistle can be instrumental in your rescue. It takes an exorbitant amount of air and energy to scream for help. A whistle will not rob you of either.

You can spend as little as $1.00 or as much as $5.00. You can get your basic cheap plastic whistle, a metal “coach” version, or one that is tested to withstand a specific PSI (pounds per square inch). It depends on your budget. Or if you’re like me, you get a headache if your lanyard gets to heavy around your neck, so you can’t tolerate anything too big. Either way, something is better than nothing.

A whistle is also a great gift or stocking stuffer for wee ones. Consider putting one on their backpacks and explaining to them how they would be used. If they are at school or on the school bus for, God forbid, an accident, it would serve the same purpose for them as well.


Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

The following post references the previous post entitled Preparedness Periodicals (and a Contest to Boot):

Well…there were only two entries. Which at face value would seem to be disappointing. Not true though, because they were wonderful. They were both heartfelt and inspiring. And inspiration to prepare is what this blog is all about. Thank you both for your entries, for the time that you put into them, and for sharing your very personal stories with the world. My cup runneth over.  🙂

So…how should I choose between you two? I’ve been considering this for days. But let’s be honest I can’t, so I won’t. If I had many entries, I could never afford to award prizes to everyone, but there weren’t many. There were two. And two, I can do. So I will. You guys let me know your preference and very soon your preparedness periodicals will periodically show up at your door.

Your support with this endeavour has been unending and so is my gratitude.

Thanks.


Don’t Forget (2)

It occurred to me that we haven’t talked about purchasing reflective vests. These should be in your go-kits. All your go-kits, car, work, and home. Depending on the circumstances, you might not need a reflective vest; however, if you do… you REALLY need it. I can’t stress this enough. If you are forced to abandon your car at night to walk to safety on a road with no shoulder, you need to be visible. If you are hiking to safety in the woods during hunting season, better hope you have a brightly colored vest. If you are simply changing a tire on the side of a road at night, you need to be visible. And equally important is the visibility of your children or grandchildren. Keep in mind that they are even smaller and easier to miss. I am constantly amazed at people who wear dark clothing and walk along the edge of the roads at night. I scares the you know what out of me to think that I could hit one of them with my truck. Perhaps they are clueless as to the danger they are in or maybe they are in a difficult situation and at the time had no choice. But if you are prepared, that doesn’t have to be you.

You can find these for as little as $5.99 or as much as $100.00 (crazy expensive cycling version). Keep in mind that while anything is better than nothing, there is a certification available for reflective vests. There is a European standard known as  EN471. There is also an American version know as ANSI207 (American National Standards Institute).  There are differences in the two. If the issue of certification interests you, I highly recommend you read the information at the following link:

http://www.brandvis.com/customized-workwear/hi-vis-certification/

(Caveat: There is a disclaimer on the page that says this is for certification information and not intended for professional advice. And I wouldn’t detract from that, but just for informational purposes, I found this site to contain the most useful information in one place.)

Bottom line? The reflective vest is an invaluable safety item that should be considered a must for your go-kits. DO NOT overlook purchasing vests for each child in the household in an appropriate size for their little bodies.

These are great stocking stuffers or Easter basket treats for you tiny preparedness advocates. They will be as excited if you are, so make it a treat for them and then teach them why they are important. They are no different from seatbelts. Wearing these will keep them safe.

Go forth and prepare! 🙂


Prepardness Periodicals (And a Contest to Boot!)

I have a new periodical friend. Her name is Mother Earth News. She has a brother named Grit. He’s pretty cool too. I’ve just spent a cozy hour communing with both of my new friends. And may I say, I believe this is one of those relationships where I’m going to receive more than I give. (smile…I don’t find many of those!)

I do have to say that so far I prefer Mother Earth News, but Grit is still good too. If I could only subscribe to one, right now it would be her. (I think they inherently seem female and male by their names, don’t you?) But quite honestly as soon as my budget allows, I’ll be subscribing to both. Payday is Friday and other than the usual bills and the not so popular dental bill that has been following me for a few weeks, I’m going to subscribe to Mother Earth News this go round. I’ll be considering the Grit subscription thereafter.

The byline for Mother Earth is “The Original Guide to Living Wisely”. Here are some of the topics covered in my issue that I found interesting for our purposes.

  • Learn to Be Self-Sufficient: Advice From Homesteading Experts. They interviewed 9 homesteaders who have authored books about their lifestyles.
  • Small Space Gardening – This discussed how to get started with limited space and no land…i.e. container gardening.
  • Create Easy. Low-Cost Raised Garden Beds – The idea submitted by a reader was to use cinderblocks to build the raised bed area.
  • In addition their website has lots of web-exclusive articles and content that is great too. (I loved the one about growing potatoes in a barrel!)
  • I should also mention they have an app version for your I-gadgets or smart phone if you are a subscriber.

Mother Earth discusses things like off-grid living, gardening/farming, DIY solar solutions, etc.

Grit’s byline reads: Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. My favorite articles from this issue covered:

  • Ten Easy Crops Anyone Can Grow – One listed was garlic, which tickles me because that’s one of those ingredients that I always feel is overpriced!
  • A Bounty to Buzz About: The Art of Attracting Nature’s Pollinators to Your Garden – This article is all about utilizing pollination to ensure a bountiful harvest. It outlines what plants will attract the right bees to increase your crop.
  • Plant a Few Herbs: Turn Your Patio Into a Container Herb Garden and Harvest the Delicious Results. – This article simply pointed out the best herbs to start a container garden, but it included suggested uses for each herb which would be helpful when choosing.

I was able to find a description on their website regarding the goals/objectives of Grit.

  • GRIT offers practical advice, product reviews, livestock guides, gardening,  cooking and other do-it-yourself information, humor and the inspirational  stories of folks who moved to the country and love it. Each issue covers topics  related to country living, land management, wildlife, gardening, livestock or  pets, skills and techniques, seasonal food, community, machinery or tools, and  lifestyle events.

Mother Earth comes out every other month, for a total of 6 issues/year. You can get a  year for $12.95 or two years for $22.95. Grit releases at the same rate for the same one year subscription price. (No two-year price was listed.) I did quite a bit of digging to read reviews other than mine regarding the magazines. The most popular complaint that I found was that there was far too much advertising. And to be honest, yes, there is quite a bit. However, the magazine (with a subscription) costs $1.91. Give it another two years and you won’t be able to mail a letter for that. I personally enjoyed much of the advertising because it is a place to see ads for this kind of lifestyle without having to embark randomly through an interweb search.

I truly want to be a sponge and sit and read the THOUSANDS of books on self-sustained living, emergency preparedness, survival skills, etc. And when I can, I do, but those moments sure are few and far between. I work full-time and mother/wife full-time. Not much time left (hence my sporadic blogs lately…sorry guys!). But my point is that the magazines contain short concise articles that not only inspire me, but guide me to accomplishing my goals. The fact that they are articles and not entire books helps me get a big return on a small investment, time-wise and money-wise.

So go check out the websites (www.motherearthnews.com or www.grit.com) or pick up a copy and given them a try. I’d like to see if they inspire you on your journey as well. And how about this, to get you on the road to your journey, let’s have a contest. Everybody likes to win free stuff right? Post a comment in response to this and tell me your preparedness story. You can write about one or some of the following:

  • How did your preparedness interest start?
  • What inspires and motivates you to prepare?
  • What are your ultimate preparedness dreams?
  • What obstacles stand between you and your preparedness dreams?

I will give everyone two weeks for submissions. Have your entries in by midnight on  April 9th. The winner will receive a one-year subscription to either Mother Earth Magazine or Grit. Their choice. I’ll announce the winner in a future blog to be posted no later than April 16th. Good luck!


Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

If you haven’t had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending on your perspective :-)) of sitting through one of my presentations, then you haven’t yet heard me talk at length about getting in touch with your loved ones following a crisis. (See previous post The Silence will be Deafening for information regarding general communications planning).

In my previous post I mention designating an out-of-state relative or friend to contact via land line because we learned in 9/11 that using a landline to call out-of-state during a crisis is far more effective than calling in-state or using cell phones. But what if you don’t have an out-of-state relative or friend with whom you can trust such a responsibility? Are there any other ways to let the world know you have survived and are ok? We learned from Hurricane Katrina that this is one of the most important aspects of post incident response as far as families and loved ones are concerned. Quite honestly its a burden on emergency services to families pushing and pulling every which way to ascertain the status of their loved ones. But at the same time, I as a mother, wife, and daughter can understand the urgent need to find your family. So…what else can be done? Below are some websites with details on how they can help.

  • American Red Cross Registry – www.safeandwell.org – This website allows friends and family to search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well”. The results will display first name, last name and a brief message.
  • Next of Kin Registry – www.nokr.org – NOKR was established as a free emergency contact system. They operate in the United States plus 87 other countries. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging rapid emergency contact information. ***My favorite part of using this system is the free decal they will mail you if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope. It’s intended to be placed on your driver’s license and functions sort of like your organ donor’s symbol (and by the way, if you aren’t an organ donor, shame on you. What do you need those for after your time is over? Unless you have religious objections…sign up!) But anyway, the idea is that the decal would alter emergency services that you are signed up in the system. They can then use that information to announce to your loved ones that you have been found and/or reach out to your loved ones once you are found.***

definitely take some time to check out the sites and make an informed decision as to which one is right for you and yours. The next step is to actually register and then educate your friends and family regarding which system you have chosen and how they can utilize it if they are ever looking for you following a crisis.

Parting thought…don’t think that Facebook or any other form of social media is going to handle this for you. (Although Facebook is testing emergency communications alerts through their site, but it’s still in the testing phase) Those sites will be bombarded with all types of messages from the “save me” to the “what’s up” during an event. I really recommend something such as these instead. They are designed for just this use and until social media catches up, these are you best bets.