Tag Archives: emergency planning

The Final Countdown

So I’ve talked repeatedly here about the solar weather events of late resulting from the current solar maximum. Since that time, I’ve learned much more about the threat and its impact. Hopefully you and your loved ones have already begun preparing for a possible large-scale geomagnetic event. If you have, you are headed in the right direction. If you haven’t, I can only assume you have some roadblocks. Maybe you think it won’t really happen or maybe your budget won’t allow you to purchase preparedness supplies for a “just in case event”. However, given the preparatory chaos surrounding Hurricane Sandy (and let’s be honest, any pending natural disaster event), I want you to be as prepared as you can. And no notice is one of the hardest parts of the solar weather reality. Our ability to predict these things isn’t what we would like, but the truth of the matter is you can get as much as 56 hours notice that a catastrophic coronal mass ejection is headed straight for earth with a magnetic alignment that means…we’re screwed. If you are positioned to get as much notice as possible then perhaps in that amount of time you can fill in some gaps in your preparedness supplies. Unfortunately we see time and time again with natural disasters that even with pictures and accurate forecasts of devastating hurricanes, folks still don’t react appropriately. It never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, despite the fact that we are decades behind in our ability to forecast space weather, there is a government agency responsible for providing alerts for space weather activity (which depends on information relayed from satellites). Unfortunately, most people don’t know about it, can’t wade through it, or discern how to use it. I’m going to do all that for you. I’m going to tell you where to go to sign up for the alerts for geomagnetic events, which alerts to sign up for, and how to react to them. If you follow the steps below, you can have as much notice as possible for solar weather events that could affect you and your loved ones.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service, provides space weather alerts, forecasts, watches, and warnings for solar weather events. Explore this link to see their educational resources flyer. It lists education and outreach resources.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/info/Sx_101_Resources.pdf

Now, back to the alerts. Go to: https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov/LoginWebForm.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fproductsubscriptionservice%2f

On the righthand side of the page is a log-in box. Underneath the box there is link for “new user? Register Here”. Select that link. Complete the form. Yes, I’m sorry. You have to create an account complete with yet another password :-(. Now go check your email to verify the account. Then return to the link above and log in. Select the very first link on the page “Subscribe (add or change subscription preferences). Next select the link “geomagnetic storm products”.

Now lets select the alerts/warnings that are most pertinent for you. Quite honestly we experience geomagnetic events quite often, but they just don’t reach the threshold of @#$%! that means you would have been aware. What you are looking to get warned about are events that will catastrophically effect our nations electrical grids. This means that you want to be alerted/warned about Kp 8 and greater events. There are other scales that you may see such as the G scale. You can refer to the chart located here to understand the correlation between the various scales: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/#GeomagneticStorms

I suggest registering for the following alerts/warnings: (check the box to the left of…)

  • ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 8 (G4)
  • ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 9 (G5)
  • WATCH: Geomagnetic Storm Category G4 or Greater Predicted
  • Click “submit”

These are the biggies. If we see one of these headed our way, we will be very concerned. Now, what do you do if these happen? What does it really mean for you? These mean that we have an indication that there is a large coronal mass ejection (CME) headed for earth. However, even if these alerts are issued, it is possible that it will be later be determined that the magnetic field alignment turns out to not be a threat. Conceivably you could receive an alert from NOAA and then later find out that the CME is actually not as bad as expected. True enough it could turn out to be a false alarm; however, this system is the best, and other than waiting to see it on TV, the only way to know that we are at risk. NOAA will be watching to see what they learn from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite. With the earlier warnings give as much as 56 hours notice, the ACE is much closer to earth and will provide us with about an hours notice. That will serve as our final warning. However, if you aren’t prepared an hour won’t be enough. Hopefully you are preparing for all hazards for which you would be covered even for solar events, but if not, signing up for the above warnings will give you a couple of days worth of advance notice to get what you can. Just keep in mind, once the media gets the word out there, other’s will be scrambling as well. And of course, there are those who will never prepare no matter what. They will eventually be begging for the support of those of us who did prepare. Help educate those that you care about now.


Doomsday Bill

 Did you hear the buzz about the Wyoming “Doomsday Bill”? Seems that the governing folks in Wyoming created House Bill 85. It would have essentially created a government task force whose purpose would be to investigate how the state would be effected by a variety of crisis situations. The law even mentioned things such as looking into alternate currency should we lose the dollar. The bill was sponsored by Republican state Rep. David Miller, and as you can see by my use of the past tense, it didn’t pass.

I think the thing to notice here is that things have progressed to the point where even our state governments are acknowledging by their actions, things are not going well. And more importantly, the Federal Government is not necessarily going to have the ability to come in and provide some sweeping rescue operation to save states from a widespread event. And even further, the states don’t necessarily have a plan to come rescue you either.

I just think that if you look around at the mental climate regarding preparedness, things are changing. The tide is turning. We, preppers, have started to achieve enough notoriety to be mentioned in proposed state legislation and have our own reality show. Yes, I know the shore at Jersey has one too! :-). Maybe achieving a reality show is as easy as falling off a log, but you get my point. This is a clue. If you still have friends or loved ones who are hold outs, it’s not just you against them anymore. Its us! There are lots of us. We are multiplying like rabbits, and thank God for it. As this type of thinking becomes more mainstream, those of us who have been unable to convince “our people” to join us should be able to leverage the recent surge in popularity to continue to motivate folks.

Yes, there will still be those who ridicule and judge, but in what instance in life isn’t there? Things may not have panned out for the Wyoming Doomsday Bill, but don’t let that stop you from taking heart. Folks are noticing. They are noticing the same things we notice. Our once stable country is playing with fire when it comes to spending and it has been for a long, long time. Regardless of whose right about the future of our nation, there’s still mother nature to consider. She’s been stretching the limits of what we expect from her as well. I say, keep your chin up and continue to plan to reach your preparedness goals.


We’re Famous!…I Guess…

Well its happened…someone has made a TV show about preppers. Yep, the National Geographic Channel is premiering a show called Doomsday Preppers on February 7th at 9:00pm (eastern time).

Check out the Nat Geo website at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/doomsday-preppers/

According to the site, the show:

Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.

At first, when I was just seeing the on-screen pop ups (that bug the hell out of me) during whatever show I’m actually trying to watch,  I thought this might be a good thing. I’m always on the prowl for new ideas and tips (by the way thanks for your comments of late!). But then I actually saw the previews. I’ve got to say at this point, I’m a little leery that this will just end up as a comic relief series of episodes. We all know the tendencies of reality TV, and they aren’t usually good. Regardless of the message or where folks hearts/beliefs lie, show business mentality and the magic of editing have destroyed ideas for some time. For instance, the website has a section entitled: Most Memorable Prepper Quotes: Preppers Say the Darndest Things. (check out the picture)

Prepper Quotes – Doomsday Preppers – National Geographic Channel.

They also have a section with sample videos as well as a “Meet the Preppers” section. You can also see the preview and other short videos regarding the show if you search for it on youtube. I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll wait to render an official opinion. But there’s the skinny. Some of our own have decided to put their stories out there via TV which I guess is just a different method than a blog. I’m just hoping our motives are similar. Give it a look on the 7th, come back and comment and let’s let everyone know what we think. Take care.


Don’t forget! (1)

I’ve decided to add a new type of post. When something random but important (in my mind) pops into my head, I’m going to make a quick post entitled “Don’t Forget!”. It will be short, sweet and hopefully contain a great tip. So here goes the first “Don’t Forget!”

Don’t forget to purchase and store away a traditional thermometer. This would be the old school glass variety. Meaning, no batteries required and hella reliable. Try and get one that comes in a protective case. I would recommend including this in your shelter in place items. Consider that most of us these days have the fancy digital versions of some type (under the tongue, inside the ear, or over the forehead) however, what about when those little batteries die? We’ve had a post previously regarding medical supplies, but one of the first steps for lots of illnesses is taking someone’s temperature. So, get yourself a good old fashion version that will always be reliable and never need batteries!


Oh Yeah?…Prove It.

Imagine that three days ago a hurricane (or tornado depending on your location) came through and destroyed your home. Let’s say that you had time to grab your go-kit and get out of dodge. You have been at your local shelter for three days with your entire family. You are now standing in line waiting to speak to a FEMA representative about applying for emergency assistance. While you wait in line, you are also on hold with your insurance company once again trying to figure out why it is taking so long to file your claim. Imagine the types of documentation these two entities are going to request from you. Don’t you imagine they will want to see your driver’s license? What about your homeowner’s insurance policy?

Preppers call these vital records. These are the records it takes to run your life. Some of them you access almost daily (credit cards, driver’s license) and some you may not even keep track of (insurance policies, deeds). Either way, it takes a certain amount of documentation to be you and to live in your world. These are your personal vital records. Here are a few more examples:

  • social security card
  • passport
  • credit card account information
  • medical records (as applicable for emergent care)
  • medical insurance cards
  • bank account information
  • flood insurance documents (NOT included with homeowner’s policy)

These are just a few examples. What constitutes adequate vital records will vary from person to person. But it is vital that everyone consider what they will need to have on hand in their go-kit. There could be times following a widespread disaster that having these records will make the difference in you receiving emergency assistance (financial, medical, etc) right away as opposed to after significant delays. And let’s be honest some things are just hard to get again on a good day! Ever tried to get a replacement social security card or a driver’s license in a new state? Hope you brought your first-born and have picked out which kidney you will donate!

Take some time to create a list of your vital records. Then go about the process of obtaining duplicates where possible or copies if necessary. For instance, you can get a duplicate of your credit cards from most companies. However, you aren’t going to get another driver’s license. For things like that, a photo copy is much better than nothing. Keep in mind that this needs to be done for each member of the family for whom you are building your go-kit. Don’t forget to capture your spouse’s or children’s records as well.

Now for storage. I recommend that for your go-kits you either purchase a waterproof box ($5.00 at Wal-mart) or triple pack these in ziplock baggies if you are on a budget. For shelter in place kits, I recommend that you budget for a fireproof/waterproof safe for your home. Another option for go-kits or shelter in place kits as far as storage, is a thumb drive. You can certainly have paper copies; however, in today’s world don’t forget to embrace technology where you can. If you have a way of scanning and storing images on a thumb drive, that may be a great alternative. (Also consider keeping them safe from water and fire!)

Now, things change right? Your driver’s license expires, you change insurance companies, or you receive a new medical diagnosis. It is important that you keep your vital records updated. It would, of course, be ideal if you made the updates as they occur. However, let’s be realistic, sometimes the here and now gets in the way of what should be. So I recommend annual reviews of your vital records at a minimum. I personally do this every time I rotate out my winter/summer clothes. This is my reminder that “things change” and it has become part of my routine. (If you are so fortunate as to have enough closet space not to have this chore every season change, then get creative…what’s something you do annually or semi-annually?) It is also vital that you make changes to every iteration of vital records. If you maintain a waterproof copy in your go-kit and a fireproof copy in a safe with your shelter in place things, then you will need to update both. Also be sure to remember you family’s emergency contact cards (discussed in yesterday’s post). These are definitely vital records and they contain information that often changes.

Vital records are a key component of your emergency preparedness planning. They are also one of the least expensive to obtain and maintain. This makes them a perfect starting place in beginning your emergency preparedness kits. Out of all the things you may hope to one day purchase for preparedness, you can get these for little to no cost, which leaves little to no excuse. 

As always, send forth questions, concerns.


Water, Water Everywhere, but Which Drop Can You Drink?

We discussed the need for water storage as well as the complexities of “expired” water. What should you do if you didn’t store enough water? What if you didn’t purchase a WaterBOB or the like and your bathtub is a little more disgusting for drinking purposes that tolerable? Very clear guidance and multiple, inexpensive methods exist for disinfecting water.

According to the EPA, the very best way to sterilize water is to boil it. Boiling water is the most effective way to remove disease-causing microorganisms. If you are not able to boil your water, there are several other methods available to include household bleach (regular, unscented variety), iodine, and water purification tablets. Regarding the bleach, I have to point out that there is a shelf-life associated with the effectiveness of bleach. The normal shelf-life of bleach is 3-5 months (effected by the temperature of storage). After this timeframe, its potency drops below the level identified as required by the EPA to effectively disinfect the water. Dropping below this strength level negates the ratios of water to bleach as outlined by the EPA and will then essentially leave you guessing. Keep this in mind if you are counting on using bleach as a water purification option. You know this is the beginning of a new year, it is the perfect time to get yourself on an easy to remember rotation schedule for bleach. January bottles get switched up halfway through the year. The purification tablets mentioned can be purchased in the camping section of any common discount store and are extremely inexpensive. And now for our spoiled selves, there is a secondary bottle for water purification tablets that helps remove the taste/smell associated with using the traditional purification tablets.

The EPA makes a really great factsheet regarding water purification for survival needs. All the details discussed here plus more are available via this form. I’ve done quite a bit of research regarding water storage/purification for emergency preparedness and this is the most concise form of quick facts/directions I’ve found. The page can be found at:

http://water.epa.gov/aboutow/ogwdw/upload/2006_09_14_faq_fs_emergency-disinfection-drinkingwater-2006.pdf

One last reminder: These purification methods are not indicated as effective for removing chemicals in water/groundwater. If your water source has been contaminated by chemicals, there is no guarantee that these methods can remove said chemicals.

Questions, comments, or any concerns that we haven’t addressed, let me know.


Long Before You’ll Need to Eat…

We’ve discussed food for emergency preparedness planning, but honestly long before you are going to have to eat, you will have to drink. Water is of paramount importance in regard to emergency preparedness. You need to ensure you consider water storage and sterilization methods for all of your preparedness kits, be it shelter in place or go-kits.

Do some water consumption research and you will be hard pressed not to be disappointed in the H2O waste at the hands of this nation. The numbers are shocking. According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey, the United States uses 408 billion gallons of water every day.  We waste a ridiculous amount of water in this country. Pointing out how much water we use/waste is important given that habits are hard to give up. Depending on who you ask, the average America household uses 350 gallons of water per day.  The recommended ratio for water storage in emergencies is one gallon of water, per person, per day.

I hope this made you stop and think. Let’s take my family as an example. We are a family of four. If we stockpile the minimum recommended amounts of water it adds up like this: Mama, Daddy, Child A, Child B = 4 gallons per day. With the minimum three-day plan, we would have 12 gallons stockpiled for shelter in place purposes. Under an average three-day period, we would normally consume 1050 gallons. During a crisis, IF we prepared in advance according to just the minimum recommended standards, we would have to make do with 1038 less gallons per day.  If we didn’t prepare in advance, we would have to survive off of what was sitting in the pipes in the house, what was in the fridge, any random bottles of water we could find, and if we were thinking tactically what was in the hot water heater.

Have you ever been truly thirsty? And by thirsty, I mean nearing dehydration with no water in site. Most of us have not. We have not grown up in a third world country where water is a valuable commodity. We just turn on the tap and magically delicious water pours forth. It does depend on the source, but basically you can go between 3 days to a week without water before serious dehydration is followed by death. This is a much shorter timeframe than that of food deprivation. YOU ARE GOING TO NEED WATER! I can’t stress it enough.

We’ve covered what you need to store at a minimum (1 gallon, per person, per day) but remember that is for shelter in place and go-kits. “What about shelf life?” you are probably going to ask when considering water storage. We’ve all noticed by now that Aquafina and Dasani and every other company are so graciously putting expiration dates on water bottles now. For the love of God someone please tell me what happens to expired water?! Really?! As a result of my disgust at the notion of “expired” water, I’ve done a lot of research. Keep this in mind, the EPA and the FDA regulate water. (FDA specifically regulates bottled water.) It is recommended that water be rotated every 6 months. However, I’ve got to argue for some common sense. Why does it need to be rotated? What’s going to happen to bottled water? The answer is maybe something…maybe nothing. Do you remember a handful of years ago when folks started to freak out over the carcinogens that plastic was leaching into our foods (and water)? Well, there you have it, that’s what happens to your water after 6 months…maybe. I say maybe because whether or not your plastics leach anything anywhere depends on how they are stored. If you store you water in your garage, it’s going to get hot in the summer and yes, the plastics may leach. If you store it in the basement and it stays cool, then no it won’t. So take some time and do your best with planning storage. But focus on these two things primarily…1) if you are dying from dehydration or watching your children or elderly parents die from dehydration, will you care if the water they drink to save them  has had chemicals leached into it over the last five years which may give them cancer in ten more years? 2) For long-term survival purposes, have you considered all of the things you will want water for besides just drinking? Would you like to bathe? Would you like to continue to flush the toilet long after the water has stopped flowing to your house? Would you like to have water to rehydrate all that dehydrated food you stored up? Me? I want to continue to do all of those things as long as possible. So don’t throw out water that you’ve gone to the trouble to store. It has purposes. And honestly, once you’ve been out for a while and gotten to the point where you are so desperate to drink from ditch, you will wish you had disregarded expiration dates on water.

So what are you water storage options other than buying large quantities of bottled water? First, please do purchase some bottled water as it goes on sale. That is a good avenue. However, also consider that if the crisis is predicted, don’t sit there. Get up and fill every bathtub, sink, cooler, and pitcher you have ahead of time. Do make use of your hot water heater if need be. Consider purchasing a  WaterBOB or something similar. WaterBOBs are polymer bladders that store up to 100 gallons of freshwater inside of a standard bathtub. (This really helps if you can’t readily identify the last time you gave that thing a good scrub!). Consider storing the water that the good Lord sends us pretty regular…get a rain barrel for your downspout(s).

There are many, many ways and even more reasons to store water. And it is essential to your survival. Look for a follow-on post where I will discuss water purification methods during an emergency event.