Tag Archives: emergency preparedness

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.


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.

Fire Tortilla

Irony. Ain’t she grand? I’ve been trying to get this post done for a week and on the night I resolve to actually get it done…I burn myself. The irony comes in when you find out the topic of the post. Fire protection. HA! Guess I should have thought about that when I reached into the oven to retrieve my sweet and sour chicken using only my kid’s decorative pot holder for safety. (Which by the way cost me an arm and a leg but as you just heard is only marginally useful. Thank God I find it impressively beautiful!) Don’t worry, my finger will survive to type another post, just in case you were worried. I am however, a big baby about pain. I swore after childbirth, I’d never stand by idle and tolerate such ridiculousness…hence the cold beverage aiding with my healing.

Back to fire! If you have ever heard me give my preparedness presentation, you’ve sat victim to my joke about keeping my in-laws in the basement when they stay over. I always hint that I do this because there is no egress from my basement as it has no exit door or sizable windows to speak of. (If you truly know me by the way, you know that I’m actually only kidding. One, they don’t sleep here, they live ten miles away. Two, I love them with all my heart.) The point is that my basement has no viable exit and from time to time my most precious babies actually get permission to play video games in the basement. I’ve been driving myself crazy to come up with a way to mitigate the issue. If there is a fire and my little men are in the basement, how are they going to get out without running through fire?

Found it! Now this is not a cure-all for sure. Certainly the viability of this mitigation strategy is dependent upon the extent of the fire. However, I’m going to purchase a fire blanket. Now these are traditionally used to smother fires, and in particular are recommended for use to protect from/fight kitchen fires. However, an alternative use for fire blankets is to wrap oneself or one’s loved ones in the blanket to essentially run through the fire and escape. Picture yourself or your little ones wrapped up like a little protective fire tortilla!


Traditionally, these blankets have been made of wool and you can certainly still get wool versions. At this point though, you can also purchase fiberglass versions. Some are even treated with chemicals to increase their ability to retard flames. They vary in range from $45.00 (this would be a smaller size, only appropriate for a small child.) to as much as $200.00. I think this could possibly be one of your more expensive purchases; however, if this is to be used as I would be using mine, then I deem it a worthy price. If you Google fire blanket, you will find many to choose from.

If you have babies or small children that you might have to carry out through a fire, because of a similar basement situation or because you can’t navigate an escape ladder (see previous post) while carrying the infant/child, a fire blanket may not only be the difference between life and death but also between severe burns and minor injuries for the little one. This could also so help if you have any elder care responsibilities and they also cannot navigate an escape ladder.

I’ve moved this to the top of our purchasing priority list for emergency preparedness supplies. I hope that you will consider the role a fire blanket might play in your preparedness as well. Be sure to purchase one that is the appropriate size for it’s intended user. (Too small and it won’t be as sufficient as it ought to be. Too large and a small child could trip over it and prolong their exposure to the flames.) Also, these ARE NOT intended to be used to run into a fire to rescue folks. Leave that to the professionals. And most importantly, no matter what, keep it in a place that it is easily accessible. No matter which version you buy, if you or your loved ones can’t get to it quickly, it’s saved no one.

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.



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:


(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.

Nature’s Safe Deposit Box

I think we all see the rationale behind the use of a safe deposit box. However, I think most preppers find a fundamental flaw in the thought of safe deposit box usage during a catastrophic event. I certainly don’t expect a run on banks to result in easy access to go pick up the contents of my safe deposit box. I certainly believe that there are circumstances that could result in difficulty obtaining access to my safe deposit boxes.

Do you have anything that you don’t want to store in your home? Anything that you don’t want in your go-kit? Do you have a remote site you are planning to relocate to in the event of something catastrophic? If so, are there things you would like to preposition there? If that site is so far that frequent visits aren’t possible, or if it is uninhabited, then just dropping off your very expensive prepper supplies isn’t something that makes you comfortable.

Would you ever consider burying anything? Ever consider God’s good earth as nature’s safe deposit box? Some people have gone this route. It is an option. Actually, there are lots of options regarding products designed just for burying your prepper treasure. In support of full transparency, I have not tried this tactic…but I sure am thinking about it. A quick interweb search will throw lots of different products your way. Try searching “emergency burial canisters”.

My concerns would include the following:

  • moisture – are they waterproof? even if they are, consider adding some silica packs
  • prying neighbors etc. – can you reasonably get them buried without everyone on the block noticing? (Hopefully you are blessed with a parcel of land all you own, then this is not a concern for you…and I’m jealous! 🙂 ) But if you do have neighbors, you can’t just bury your prepper stuff right in plain view.
  • treasure mapping – because, seriously…how would you feel burying your most precious prepper treasure and then later having no idea where the heck you put it?

So what do you think? Will you consider burying any of your prepper parcels? Have you tried any type of product designed to facilitate nature’s safe deposit box? Have any other ideas, concerns, or suggestions? Or…shall we go digging?