Tag Archives: 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.

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.


Space Cowboys

Recently I attended the Space Weather Enterprise Forum (SWEF) in Washington DC. This year the conference, organized by the National Space Weather Program (NSWP) Council,  was entitled “Solar Maximum 2013 – How Space Weather Will Affect You!” So what I’m thinking is that I’m not crazy and even that the larger Space Weather scientific community believes this will affect you!

So I spent the day with representatives from various stakeholders including providers, users, and researchers from government, academia, and the private sector. This year’s focus was on  two aspects of our Nation’s critical infrastructure:  electrical power distribution networks and precision navigation and timing provided by Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Please check out the detailed information at the below link:

http://www.nswp.gov/swef/swef_program.html

So as I sat there amongst all of those scientific types, I have to say, I kept thinking I’m just a continuity planner. How can I possibly keep up with their knowledge base and learn all there is to absorb? These are the real Space Cowboys! (Oh, I can hear Steve Miller Band right now…wish I was clever enough to make it play during this post 🙂 ).  And they are, but they all share one trait. They are more than willing to share their knowledge. As a matter of fact, they are dying to communicate with us “regulars” about what all we need to know. So how best can I plug you directly into their knowledge base?

One of our freebies at the conference was an issue of Space Weather Quarterly: The International Journal of Research and Applications. This is a free publication, and I’ve got to say, it is outstanding. The articles are at a level where even us regular folks can understand the information. If you are at all interested in my previous posts regarding space weather, I really recommend you consider visiting the below site and registering for a subscription.

http://www.agu.org/journals/spaceweather/   (Look for the Space Weather Quarterly link on the left-hand side of the page, last link under the box labeled “Journal Details”).

Not only is the current edition exceptional, but you can also access back issues via the website as well. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to review as many of the back articles as I would like, but they are on my list of to do’s. Get yourself a subscription, I’m going to want to talk soon about some of these articles in particular.

This solar weather topic is not going away because the risk is not going away. As many meetings as I’m attending professionally on this topic, the one thing that keeps popping up is PREPAREDNESS, not just for our government, but for FAMILIES. Take advantage of this resource. You’ll be glad you did.


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.


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.


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.


Gold Rushes and Silver Linings

I once received an inquiry centered around alternative forms of currency for personal preparedness. I received the following set of questions (paraphrased):

What do you think of gold and silver for bartering purposes? Gold is far to expensive for our budget; however, silver is an option. I feel leery however having witnessed several other “hype” induced fads that burst (dot.coms, real estate, etc.) Once purchased, what about storage? I would doubt easy access to safe deposit boxes would exist in a crisis and storage within the home seems risky (burglary, vandals, etc.).

So…here’s what I wrote back…maybe it will be helpful to you too.

 “As far as precious metals for currency, I usually don’t discuss them [during the presentation] (unless asked 🙂 ) simply because they can be such “hot buttons” for some folks. However, having said that, I am personally a huge proponent of considering alternative forms of currency in case we lose the dollar someday for any number of reasons. I see this as leaving a couple of currency options that I believe could be realistic based on the scenario. 1) precious metals and 2) ammunition. I find myself in the same boat as you with thoughts on gold. And quite honestly, I wouldn’t buy gold (or much gold) even if I could and here’s why. Consider this, if things are so bad that you can’t get to your bank monies or that the dollar has lost its value, only things with inherent value will be feasible for bartering, i.e. precious metals. So…if you REALLY need a loaf of bread to survive but all you bought was gold pieces for hundreds of dollars apiece, guess what you just did…bought a $400.00 loaf of bread. What you really want would be precious metals but in what would be considered “small bills”. Don’t give the guy a fifty for that bread, give him a five!

SILVER. Now, problem is silver is also pretty expensive right now. So what can you do? Junk silver is one answer. I can’t guess what your knowledge base is here so hopefully this won’t bore you, but junk silver has no numismatic value. Which simply means that given it’s “banged up” or “junk” quality, there is no extra value for things like condition, year, rarity, type of coin, etc. The good thing is though, that it does have inherent value based on its silver content. There were coins produced way back when that have .999 percent pure silver content. These are worth money based on the price of silver per ounce. And in terms of money in a crisis, they will spend based off of their content instead of their numismatic value (which by the way, during a crisis wouldn’t matter anyway, no one would care that it was a really rare coin, just what it is worth.) So there are those of use who are stockpiling (as our budgets allow) in small batches at a time, junk silver. If you Google it, you will find more information than you can possibly consume. I don’t have as much as I would like, but we are working on getting more as our budget allows.

The only problem is that you and I aren’t the only ones thinking this way…so junk silver is getting harder and harder to find or afford. What I recommend is you do a little research into the cost of silver per ounce (again, internet), find your local coin shop, and stop in and ask if they have any “bulk” or “bagged” junk silver. If they do, ask how much they are selling it for. Do the math. Keep in mind, there is NO value in the junk silver other than the silver content, so if the broken down by ounce price is very inflated, leave because it’s not a good buy. Most of the time, it is marked up just enough for the guy to make some sort of profit, but not that much at all. Expect to be told by at least a few shops that they are “fresh out”. There’s been a run on this stuff lately. (And its been going on for months!)

Now where do you keep it??? This ties into home/self-protection. Start pricing guns safes, the big kind that will hold long guns. You should have one large enough that no one idiot-crew of thieves could possibly get it physically out of your home and well made enough that they also cannot break into it. If you shop around, you can find something good on the day after Thanksgiving sales for example. They are sometimes marked for clearance as well because they were an old floor model or they were scratch and dent (but what do you care what it looks like?). If you can get it to also be fireproof, I’d see about that as well. Make sure the wife can actually open it for sure. She needs to be able to ge into that thing in a hurry and under stress (muscle memory). Also, consider approaching your home owner’s insurance company about whether or not they insure precious metals. You could add it to yourcoverage via a floater policy.

As always, I hope this helps. Take care.


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.