Tag Archives: prepare

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.

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! 🙂

“Keep”-ing Secrets

Speaking of castle laws (see yesterday’s post), its time to talk about what you should and should not discuss regarding your emergency preparedness planning. This is a fine line to walk, though. Personally, I think we have a moral obligation to try to help educate folks on the need for personal preparedness. However, the obligation to help your fellow friends and neighbors must be tempered with the need to protect yourself, your family, and your Keep.

Most preppers are passionate about what they do. We really believe in preparedness and it means we can sometimes be eager to share our ideas, strategies, and plans with others. I believe this is a good thing. Like the motivation for this blog, I want others to know. I want others to be ready and feel the peace of mind that I feel. And let’s be honest the more prepared people who exist in a crisis, the less stress on emergency services and those of us who are prepared. We don’t only want others to prepare, we need them to prepare. It is a worthy cause to educate those that you can. For anyone who will listen, this is a lifesaving initiative. I think the more you start to prepare, the more you will want to share with others.

But how much sharing is too much? How much of your Keep details should be secret? Why wouldn’t you want to plunge ahead and shout far and wide, “PREPARE…I am, you should too!”

Go back to our first scenario from the maiden voyage of this blog, imagine that you have been snowed into your home with no electricity or running water. This time, however, imagine that it has been over two weeks. Two days ago you gave your children your last bit of food. They are hungry. They’ve been crying and lethargic all morning. They are begging you for something to eat, begging for food you can’t provide. A neighbor comes over and knocks on your door. He tells you that he heard that the family on the corner have enough food for a year. He and another neighbor went over there last night and asked for help. They begged for food. The family turned them away. Overnight they decided that today they would go back and forcibly take whatever they can so that they can provide for their family. They want you to go with them and promise you a cut of the take, if you will help them by standing guard while they go inside. Most likely, you would go. Even if you think you wouldn’t, you probably would. Having your children beg for food and starve before your very eyes would be more than any human could take. It would force you to do things you wouldn’t believe. And it will do that to everyone who isn’t prepared. At some point an animal-type instinct to survive would inevitably kick in.

The point is, if you are not careful about who to tell regarding your preparedness planning, it will be you they come to when they are cold, hungry, thirsty, or sick. Of course you want to talk about preparedness with those you love and care for. You may be so motivated that you want to shout it from the rooftops, but share very carefully. Share with your eyes open. Know that for everyone you motivate to prepare, you are saving lives, assisting emergency services, and decreasing the number of folks who will need to be “saved” during a crisis. But also know, that if you describe in detail what you have and the extent to which you are prepared, you are might be making yourself a target for those who didn’t prepare.

I consider there to be three groups of people to consider. 1) my family and very close friends. These people know all about what I do to prepare, and I do my dead level best to get them to do the same because they are important to me. 2) complete strangers. They have no idea where I live or exactly what all I have done to prepare. I tell them with the same fervor that I tell my loved ones. 3) my actual neighbors. There are about 200 homes in this community. Much to my personal heartache, I don’t have the luxury of living in a secluded area on a large tract of land. Instead there are 200 homes and countless mouths to feed. They are completely unaware of my beliefs. I do sometimes have the urge to talk with the neighbors that I know and respect. I want them to learn about preparedness and get on board. I can’t disclose this to them though. It would put my family at risk. Nothing is worth that cost.

You have to make your own decisions about what to share and what to keep close hold. Can you just send a friend, neighbor or co-worker a preparedness link and say, “I was looking at this and thinking maybe its a good idea.”? Sure. At least then you have pointed them in the right direction and planted the seed. Either way, do what is right in your heart. But most importantly, know that this topic of sharing is reality for all preppers. Approach it with caution.