Tag Archives: loved ones

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.


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.


You Wanna Do What?!

Today I was thinking about some of the discussions I’ve had following my preparedness presentations. Then it hit me…I’ve been asked more times than I can count, “How do I convince my spouse that this is worthwhile?” or “How do I get my wife on board?”. (Ladies, forgive me but truth be told while I’ve had the question from a woman or two, it is most often asked by men.) You can rephrase this question any sort of manner and I’ve heard it, but the message is always the same. For those of us who become preppers, when we announce to our “other halves” that we not only want to devote time and storage space, but actually money to this cause…well, we are met with a resounding, “Are you crazy?!” 

This goes past our spouses as well. Let’s be honest, if this is real to you, then you are worried about more than just your immediate family. It’s quite honestly no different than religion from a motivational perspective. If you are a Christian (and I”m sure other religions as well, but I can only speak for myself), then you don’t just worry about your spouse’s salvation, but that of anyone that you love and care about.  Well, we also care about their safety and well-being here on earth…so we want them to prepare.

So how do we convince our spouses (who we must share financial decisions etc. with) and those that we love to follow the prepper’s creed? How do to transfer our concern and resulting motivation to them? My husband just asked me what I was writing about today. When I told him, he laughed and responded, “Oh, like exhibit A?” He of course being exhibit A, who had to be convinced and motivated from scratch. He’s not from my neck of the woods and the notion of preparedness, off-the-grid, compound/commune type plans were  not a part of his mindset when we met. So…how did I manage to bring him into the fold?

For the non-believer the first thing to accomplish is getting them to understand that you are not (only 🙂 ) preparing for total and complete destruction or Armageddon. Yes, there are those of us that do consider that as well, but you don’t want to make that your first point when pitching this idea to your average nay-sayer. It is important to get them to realize that preparedness is for things as simple as a severe snow storm where you cannot leave your home for days. There are dozens of scenarios just surrounding weather and natural tragedies that can occur. Any of these occasions could rob you of your “normal” infrastructure dependent lifestyle. I believe this is the most important message to convey. They need to understand that tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like do happen. They are at risk. Emergency preparedness is pertinent to us all. Don’t forget to pull out all the stops. If you are trying to convince a Mama who currently has little ones at home…use it. Quite frankly my personal preparedness skyrocketed once I had little ones. My motherly instinct won’t allow me to watch my children suffer or starve all because I didn’t have my priorities straight.

Now consider social media and publications. Take some time and search the interweb for other preparedness sites. Point out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) actually has an entire website devoted to motivating our nation to prepare. Ease them in, don’t show them the scary over the top stuff (just yet). Also consider the CDC, FDA, American Red Cross, etc. Lastly, there are some excellent books available on survival, both fiction and non-fiction. The non-fiction are really prevalent. If your spouse or loved one is a reader, and they have been warmed up by the preceding methods, then maybe a trip to the books store (online works but let’s be honest, holding them in your hand drives the point home) would make it more real. These books exist because preppers are out there. We are sharing and growing all the time! As for fiction two of my favorites are One Second After and Patriots.  There are both excellent for information and inspiration, and they are just good reads. I’d really recommend starting them off with One Second After first and then send them on to Patriots.

Most importantly, be prepared to start small. Don’t overwhelm them with far out craziness from the get go. If this is not their thing, they need to ease into the water. Don’t shove them into the deep end and expect them to respond well. This is a different way of thinking and the evolution of becoming a prepper most likely happen overnight. Start by encouraging a home go-kit with the basics (extra clothes, first aid kit, vital records). By doing this, you get them used to preparing but you aren’t asking for a lot of money up front. After that activity is complete and you receive that buy-in, you can work slowly up to stockpiling food. Take it slowly, and let them know that this is realistic and that its important to you. It is borne out of love and concern for your family. Appeal to their inner need to provide for themselves and their loved ones.

Good luck! If you get stuck with a particularly hard nut-to crack, leave a comment and we can talk about individual strategies for your circumstances.