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(From the diaries -- Plutonium Page. Very practical. Bookmark this one.)

Something bad is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.


Preparing to deal with a disaster is like going off of a ski jump.  If you put off your planning until things start happening, it's far too late to make much of a difference.  Once you're headed down that ski jump, the time for planning and preparation is over.

On the other hand, being prepared for disaster does not have to be time-consuming or expensive.  In this multi-part series of DailyKos Diaries, I will share with you, dear reader, many of the lessons I've learned regarding the most effective ways to prepare for an emergency.

This is the first installment in a multi-part series on personal disaster preparedness.  Your humble correspondent is a Silicon Valley technical executive with both professional and personal experience in risk assessment and disaster-readiness planning.  Links to reference materials, including planning guides and reference information, will be found at the end of the final Diaries in this series.

Series Index: Are YOU ready for disaster?

  1. Assess your risks!
  2. Plan to survive! (part A)
  3. Plan to survive! (part B)
  4. Emergency gear and supplies
  5. Material preparations continued; Conclusion

When disaster strikes, will you be prepared?

Despite what you may have gathered from reading guides to readiness from the government, the Red Cross, or other organizations, you should not begin with a spending spree at the local hardware store.  When you strip away all of the bureaucrat-speak, there are three basic steps you must follow to be ready for disaster:

  1. Assess
  2. Plan
  3. Prepare

In this installment, we will discuss step 1, assessment of risks.

The psychology of disaster preparedness

In order to effectively prepare for disaster without becoming overwhelmed, you must be able to make realistic judgments about risks.  On one hand, it is an effort for most people to "think the unthinkable", to contemplate scenarios which are far outside the routine of their daily lives.  It is difficult for most people to imagine a world where fresh water does not flow from the taps, electricity is something you can't take for granted, and the grocery store shelves are empty... assuming the stores are even open.

On the other hand, there's a phenomenon I think of as the "armageddon fallacy".  This is the temptation, once that our Pandora's Box of fears and concerns has been opened, to imagine extremely unlikely events as real threats.  We must be cautious to exercise good judgment when considering risks, as the "armageddon fallacy" is a surprisingly easy trap to fall into.  Keep in mind that your plan, at some point, will be shared with friends and family.  This incents most people to stay clear of the Crazy Talk Express to Armageddon Town when making a plan.

Assessing your risks: take a look around

fremdamf Each city, state, and region of the country has its own unique set of risks.  For example, your humble correspondent's home in Fremont, California is unlikely to be threatened by a hurricane -- but that home is only a few miles from the Hayward Fault, and surprisingly, is in a "dam failure inundation area".  Many homes in America are subject to hidden or unseen dangers such as this; in the Southwest, for example, the dangers of flash floods in an otherwise arid environment are well known, yet people die (surprised, in many cases) in flash floods every year.

Your first task in building a disaster-readiness plan is to assess the risks particular to the areas where you spend significant time.  In America's car-centric suburban culture, many people work 20 miles or more from their home.  The risks at work and at home may differ considerably, and should be assessed separately.

Here is a brief listing of risk categories you may find useful in putting together your list of potential emergencies in your area:

  • Domestic risks (house fire, carbon monoxide, medical emergency)
  • Industrial accident risk (refineries, chemical plants, rail lines transporting hazardous cargo such as liquified chlorine)
  • Natural disasters (heat waves, forest/grassland fires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis)
  • Secondary disaster risk due to primary natural disaster (e.g. the reservoir dam which may fail in an earthquake and flood Fremont)
  • Civil disturbance (riots, terrorist attacks, acts of war)

These risks are listed in the order in which you should consider them.  Please note the "civil disturbance" category is last -- this is because one of the principal goals of any disaster plan should be to minimize your exposure to civil-disturbance risks.  The next installment of this series will discuss the use of risk-avoidance strategies in detail.

A good source for risk information is your city or state Office Of Emergency Services website, or its equivalent.  Other good sources for detailed risk information include the following local resources:

  • building permit authority
  • fire department
  • police department and/or sheriff's office

There exists one more category of risk which you must consider: risks to your freedom of movement.  As you go about your business for the next week, consider the following:
  • Do you know of any alternate routes between work and home?
  • Does your primary route include bridges or tunnels?
  • Does your primary route pass under any high-voltage power lines?
  • Do you regularly drive past refineries, chemical plants, or rail lines carrying tank cars?
  • Does your neighborhood have above- or below-ground power distribution?
  • If you need to leave your city or region, how many routes can you think of without consulting a map?
  • Do you have reasonably current paper map of your region in each of your family vehicles?

Homework time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a list of as many disaster risks as you can think of.  Get your significant other or your kids involved, and make it a competitive event.  Be lenient, at first, when considering whether something is a likely risk.  Be sure to include all of the places where you might find yourself when disaster strikes -- home, work, school, church, shopping, and so forth.  Don't consider the list closed until you've visited each of these places and looked, with a critical eye, at the risks we all ignore on a daily basis.

NEXT TIME Phase 2 of increasing your preparedness: put together a plan for dealing with the risks you consider likely in your locale.

Update [2005-9-9 16:50:27 by AlphaGeek]: By popular demand, expanded the not-intended-to-be-comprehensive list of natural disasters. Added heat wave, forest/grassland fires, and tsunamis.

Update [2005-9-14 4:43:37 by AlphaGeek]: Added series index.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:02 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yes, I know... (4.00)
    You want to go shopping for bottled water and MREs NOW.

    Patience, Grasshopper.  You'll get your chance.


    PS: Recommends appreciated, I'd like to reach as many folks as possible with this.

    You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

    by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:14:54 PM PDT

    •  Water and MREs? (4.00)
      When do i go shopping for the AK-47?
      •  Not in California, I'll tell you that much (4.00)
        I'll give you a little preview of the personal-protection segment in Diary 3 of this series:

        For household protection, a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun with reduced-recoil shells and an inexpensive aftermarket recoil pad is the recommended choice.  The sound of a round being chambered in a pump-action shotgun is unmistakable, and the sight of it will give pause to most would-be assailants.

        For personal protection, each adult should have a contact-type electric stun device with spare batteries.

        The best strategy, however, is to avoid situations where the use or threat of force (lethal or nonlethal) is necessary.


        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:29:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  12 gauge pump (4.00)
          Also good for upland bird hunting.

          For personal protection, pepper spray is great.  It works better on people than on grizzly bears, whom seem to like it at times.

          Governor Brian Schweitzer on seeking the presidency; "I'm not half that smart and I'm none too pretty."

          by Ed in Montana on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:52:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good advice. And be sure to ... (4.00)
          ...put a sling on that shotgun. You may have to go on a long hike.

          Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:01:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Dogs (4.00)
          We use 3 big dogs as deterents. They are trained to run up barking and smack the front door when someone approaches it.
          That tends to run off anyone we don't know.
          Of course the people that do know us think nothing of it. As soon as we approach the front door and yell sit all the dogs move back and sit quietly as they are supposed to.
          Mostly though we let them bark and fuss till we look out the window to see who is there.
          •  my dog does the same thing (4.00)
            he's ridiculously ferocious behind the door.

            Of course, when a ballsy burglurar opens the door, my dog runs off to show him where the silver is kept, and helps carry the TV.

            I love that dog.

          •  Trained to run up and smack the door? (4.00)
            Wow, I never knew our dogs were trained in personal protection, but they run up barking and generally crash into the front door as they do so. And here I thought they were just clumsy balls of fur.  Of course, the terrier/chihuahua mix isn't likely to scare anybody off (although they might die laughing when they watch him try).  However, the 100-lb german shepherd more than makes up for him in the "visible deterrant" department.
            •  LOL (4.00)
              This has to be one of the easiest things to train your dog to do. Have someone stand outside and ring the door bell, most dogs react with excitement to that anyway. Encourage the running to the door and banging on it with a treat. Then after you have them doing that train them to back off on command and sit. That part is a bit harder but not much.
              •  Pet Checklist & Call to STOP SHOOTING DOGS (4.00)
                Disaster Preparation Checklist

                If at all possible, do not leave animals behind. There is no way of knowing what may happen to your home while you are away, and you may not be able to return for days or even weeks. Animal companions left behind may become malnourished, dehydrated, or crushed by collapsing walls. They may drown or escape in fear and become lost.

                All animals should have collars with identification. Make sure that you have a current photo of your animal companion for identification purposes, the same as you would for a child.
                Place an emergency window sticker near your front door in case a weather emergency or fire strikes when you are not home. This sticker will alert rescuers to animals in your home who need help. Be sure to note how many animals are in the home and where they can be found.

                Have an animal emergency kit readily available. The kit should include a harness and leash or carrier, bottled water, food and water bowls, and dry food. If you have a cat, keep litter and a small litter tray ready to go. Click here to order a PETA Rescue Kit to keep in your car that contains a collapsible carrier, leash, and towel. The kit is helpful if you must grab your animals quickly or if you encounter an animal on the road in need of help. You might also need blankets or sheets to cover carriers and help keep animals calm during transport.

                Hotels often lift their "no pets" policies during emergencies, but keep a list of hotels that always accept companion animals, just in case. (Most Motel 6s accept animals.) Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers--it might be able to provide information during a disaster.

                (Other Hotels/Motels accept Pets, which ones?)

                If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your animal companion. Most boarding kennels, veterinarians, and animal shelters require medical records to make sure that rabies vaccinations are current, so keep copies of these records with your emergency kit.

                If You Must Leave Your Animal Behind

                Never turn animals loose. Do not tie animals outside or keep them in a vehicle unattended. Leave them in a secure area inside your home.

                Leave out at least 10 days' supply of water. Fill every sink, bowl, pan, and Tupperware container with water, then set them on the floor; do not leave just one container--it may spill. If your toilet bowl is free of chemical disinfectants, leave the toilet seat up to provide animals with one more source of water, but do not let that be the only source.

                Leave out at least 10 days' supply of dry food. Canned food will go rancid quickly.

                If you can't get to your home, contact a reliable neighbor or friend to check on the animals and get them out, if possible. Provide specific instructions on care.

                Helping Wild Animals

                Wild animals may also need our help during severe storms. Strong winds and gusts generated by tropical storms and hurricanes often throw young tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and baby birds from their nests. Flooding from significant rainfall may also force small mammals from their subterranean homes.

                Following severe weather, be sure to search carefully through debris and nearby creeks and streams for animals who have been displaced from their homes. These animals may need help right away. Before inclement weather arrives, check out the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Web site and locate the nearest rehabilitator so you'll know whom to contact in the event of an emergency.

                from Peta:


                from Peta:

                The Latest News From the Gulf Coast and What You Can Do to Help

                September 9, 2005, 12 p.m.:

                Officials Shooting Dogs in Louisiana--Feds Must Hear from You Today!

                In the latest and most graphic display of our government's abandonment of animal-handling guidelines in disasters that were created with PETA's help years ago, some law enforcement agencies are now shooting dogs left stranded in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

                Revolting video footage posted on the Web site of the Dallas Morning News shows officers shooting dogs. At least one of their victims survived the gunshots and was apparently left to die a slow, agonizing death amid debris from the storm.
                Of course, shooting is not an approved, reasonable, or reliable method of animal control.

                In fact, The 2000 Report of the AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association] Panel on Euthanasia--the veterinary medical authority on euthanasia--states, "[G]unshot should not be used for routine euthanasia of animals in animal control situations." This dangerous method often fails to achieve instantaneous unconsciousness; animals can be injured by initial gunshots and suffer tremendously before dying, as seems to be happening in St. Bernard Parish. Gunshot is also categorized as an inhumane method of killing in The Humane Society of the United States' "General Statement Regarding Euthanasia Methods for Dogs and Cats."

                This horror for animals, which is but the latest of many to be seen in Katrina's wake, underscores the urgent need for you to call on those in charge, today, to end immediately their callous policies toward animals suffering and to make the plight of animals affected by these disasters a part of planned investigations and hearings.

                September 9, 2005, 10 a.m.: Ask President Bush, Senate Committee to Make Plans for Animals Affected by Future Disasters Part of Their Investigations

                September 8, 2005, 6 p.m.: Distraught Couple Reunited With Forcibly Abandoned Animals; Officials Continue Heavy-Handed Evacuations of Vulnerable Animal Guardians

                September 8, 2005, 11 a.m.: Proceeds From Auction to Support Animal Emergency Fund

                September 7, 2005, 9 p.m.: Americans Urged to Tell New Orleans Officials to Allow Animals to Be Evacuated

                September 7, 2005, 9 a.m.: PETA Dispatches Rescue Team; Rue McClanahan Asks for Compassion for Katrina's Animal Victims

                September 6, 2005, 5:30 p.m.: PETA Asks Lt. Gen. Honore to Allow Companion-Animal Rescues

                many blue, yellow and green dogs are a majority

                by Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:09:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ready preparedness for pet evacs (4.00)
                  Although we live on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, we haven't evacuated yet(never say never, but with elderly non-ambulatory parents, oxygen, many pets . . . .)  I keep a pet carrier for each pet inside the house, clean and ready to go. The dog carrier is a collapsable one that she knows and likes as a den (standard poodle). My dog will not drink water while traveling in a car or at rest stops.  However, she will lick ice cubes from her dish AFTER we attain freeway speeds and my vibe is in a relaxed state.  (I know it seems like a goofy post, but it will make you CRAZY if your dog, especially a puppy, won't drink.  If you move puppies, unflavored pedialyte is good to keep on hand, since they can crash rather quickly.)

                  Note that if cats are stressed and are very hot, and begin to PANT, you should lower their body temperature by placing a cold wet (really wet, not damp) towel in the carrier for them to lay on, and one over them.  (This I learned during fire season in Los Angeles!  I moved from earthquakes to hurricanes; go figure.) Cats can live for long periods with no food but will succumb quickly without fresh water.

                  Living on the Gulf Coast, my indoor cats' rabies tags, which they don't wear, are always on my key chain.  The certificates are folded in my credit card wallet 365 days of the year, so I don't have to search for them in an emergency with the possibility of moving interstate.

                  Many flashlights and flourescent lanterns are now available using AA batteries and are very lightweight and long lasting.  Rayovac and store brands, at Target and Walgreens,the stand up lanterns were hands down our #1 tool during Ivan, Tropical Storm Cindy ('05), and Katrina. That and a small walkman-size radio with the local television channels' audio feed are always in a basket in the den with a camera (insurance pics) and extra batteries.

                  Sorry if these are duplicative.  I'll mind the thread and add more when appropriate.

                •  La Quinta Inns (none)
                  Accept pets.  They have a limited number of "pet" rooms set aside for regular guests; don't know about emergencies.  Holiday Inn and Hampton often take animals.  None of the Marriott brands accept pets.

                  Who thought civil defense would be left to the civilians?

                  by gazingoffsouthward on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:44:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Pet accepting hotels (none)
                    Actually, that's not quite true.  The Residence Inn by Marriott hotels will take pets.  In addition to the moderately-priced hotels mentioned above, most high-end hotels will take pets if notified in advance:  Four Seasons and Fairmont for starters.  Also Kimpton Hotels (like the Hotel Monaco mini-chain) all accept pets too, but don't need any notice.

                    - The Great Skeeve

                    by Skeeve on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:43:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  If I have to walk out and sleep in the cold... (none)
                  my dogs go with me.  I'll sleep in my car before I'll go into a shelter that won't let me take my babies.  I just couldn't live with myself if I left them behind to face danger alone.  They trust me to take care of them.  And my husband feels the same way. The very first thing we take in a crisis is the dogs. Then the cat (she's a pain in the butt, but she's our pain in the butt, besides we can feed her to the dogs if we run out of food ;-)).  Then any valuables we have time to grab. But they go first.  

                  One thing that truly breaks my heart in New Orleans is the animals, and thinking about all of the animals that people had to leave behind, because they had no car and the buses and shelters don't take pets.  I had to stop reading what you wrote halfway through at the part about shooting dogs.  I won't be able to sleep tonight if I think about that.

                  The big risk in our area is fire.  My husband and I have already talked about where we would meet if the worst happened, and agreed that if there is even a remote risk of a wildfire in our area we are taking the animals to work with us.  Three dogs will cramp our style a bit, but we won't leave them if there is any known risk.

        •  Shotguns (4.00)
          are the best firearms for those untrained in their use.
          They are the best close-range weapons, and they do not require precision aiming.  Additionally, given a light enough load, say #4 or #6 shot, they can incapacitate or kill a target with lessened risk of overpenetration (projectiles passing through the target or the drywall behind him.)  20ga is suitable for a home defense shotgun for these reasons, as are the low velocity/recoil rounds that Alpha Geek mentions.

          I don't generally advocate firearms for home defense, because the primary stopper in their use is will.  That is to say that you must be willing to kill someone.  Thinking you will intimidate them or wound them generally won't work.
          I generally advocate dialling 911 from a bedside phone (or the nearest phone) and screaming like crazy.  The cops will come code 3.
          That said, if a person has experience with weapons, the easiest weapons to use are those with which one has experience.  In other words, if you shot an M-16 in the army, you should probably try to find a civilian counterpart to an M-16, and not something like an AK-47, and if your granddad taught you to shoot with a single action revolver, you probably shouldn't buy a .44 Desert Eagle.  In any event, if you are going to use a gun for home defense, you need to practice with it at a range every couple of months or so at a minimum in order that you know what to do when the time comes and you're scared out of your mind.

          Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

          by soonergrunt on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:17:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the great things about shotguns... (none)
   you can modify them to be non-lethal without anyone really KNOWING they're not lethal. Or so I've heard (rocksalt instead of buckshot).

            No one looking at a shotgun and hearing it being loaded is going to KNOW it won't kill them until it's fired so it still has that extra deterant to it. and if you did get hit with the rocksalt, if it's a direct on hit you're going to be in a little too much pain to really affectively counterattack.

            So I've heard.  ANyway it's the only time I'd even consider buying a shotgun.

            The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

            by DawnG on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:06:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If I Had A Reloader... (none)
              I always wanted to create a few 12 gauge "AP" shells consisting of rock salt and peppercorns.

              They'll get to scratch frantically for a few days...

            •  rock salt? (4.00)
              If I am in my home and the screaming doesn't make the intruder leave I want them DEAD when I pull the trigger.  Rational people don't break into occupied homes and provolk confrontation-while people strung out on Crystal Meth do fairly bizare things.  I don't think I want to rely on the rock salt method of deterring someone who is unlikely to be affected.  If you need the gun, and you point it at someone who is threatening you bodily harm, be prepared to use it to kill them-or they may just use it to bash your brains out once the rock salt is gone.
              •  The First Round's AP, The Rest Lethal (none)
                If the AP round doesn't get his attention, the other four will...

                Then again, I live in Florida; so even coming up to my doorstep screaming is not a good idea anymore.

              •  Sound advice (4.00)
                If you are going to protect yourself with a gun, understand that it is there to kill, that is what guns do.  Respect its use and know what you are doing by getting educated (gun shops have info classes), pratice and be smart about how you keep the gun at home - your own or visiting children cannot ever, ever be trusted around loose firearms. If you cannot respect the responsibilty that comes with owning a gun and accept the fact that they are there do kill, do not own one.  
                •  And use common sense. (4.00)
                  I'm bipolar.  I get moody.  There will never be a gun in any house I live in.  There is just too much chance that I will reach for an easy way out at an extreme moment.  If you have a family member with a temper, or mood problems (depression, bipolarity), or who is just irresponsible get a large dog.  It's damn hard to kill yourself or someone else with a dog, and they are a terrific deterrent against criminals.  
              •  Just be sure... (none)
       drag the body back into the house if they run after you blast them.  If they die inside, you're covered.  If they die outside, you could be charged with 2nd degree murder.  

                In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

                by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:03:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  no thank you. (none)
                I don't have anything against your argument but I have already made a choice in my life that I do not want to do the "kill or be killed" bit.  My personal belief is that there is much more to fear from killing than from dying.

                I'm going to die no matter what I do.  Spiritually, the when or the how is incosequential.  But actually taking a life...that is something I have the power to chose or not choose.  

                I'm not saying I'm against violence either.  I wouldn't mind learning a martial art for defensive purposes and have no problems harming a person to save my own life, but I won't take a life to save my own.  

                The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

                by DawnG on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 09:30:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  martial arts... (none)
                  ...nothing against them, but if you want to learn self-defense via your body, find someone that teaches real, nasty streetfighting techniques, say via a rape protection class.  Don't rely on books that purport to teach you - you need a real body for this purpose.

                  I had a friend who was a black belt in a couple of martial art techniques, and they weren't enough to prevent her being raped.

                  And do realize that we're talking about range versus battle.  You need a way to make a valid defense at a certain distance versus up close.  

                  If a shotgun is not preferred, at a closer distance (but not yet close-in fighting), I would recommend buying a six foot or so hemlock dowell from your hardware store and turning it into a quarterstaff.

                  "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

                  by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:12:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Wha??? (none)
              Jeebus, this sounds like a LGF thread.
              •  Well.... (none)
                ....we are talking extreme circumstances here.

                And at least no one is talking about the benefits of surplus MG42s yet... ;-)))

                "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

                by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:13:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Guns! AlphaGeek spawns lefty survivalist movement (4.00)
            Now all we need--for real--to take this country back--are teams of atheist missinaries. Seriously if more ex-boomers in birkenstocks are spotted at firing ranges honing their skill--the repubs will run for cover. The NRA will be turned inside out. Let's do it.

            I'm scared of guns but I'm willing to do this to survive. Just want to know if I can have a white gun with a pearl handle, like the one Nancy Reagan claimed to keep in her nightstand.

          •  They are the Polaroid of home defense... (none)
            You know, point and click!

            Jesus Christ - The original non-conformist.

            by duck on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:15:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Just make (none)
          sure there are no gas leaks (a common problem in earthquakes) before you let loose with an electric stun device. kabooooooom
          •  An essential tool is (none)
            the special "thingy" you have to own, and find, to turn off the gas in the yard.  Don't do it unless the authorities tell you to, or you smell the scent they put in it to make it detectable, because it may be days or weeks before the gas co. can get to you to turn it on.
        •  Shotgun, 45 or 357 and location (none)
          I have some friends who are convinced they need a gun, and the advice I gave them was to purchase a shotgun first, and also to learn how to use a pistol.  I prefer a higher caliber, semi-automatic like a 45, but a 357 magnum is a sight to behold too (hand cannons usually instill fear, and they're loud as hell).  As always, if you point a gun at someone, you should be prepared to kill them, end of story.  Most people who have guns know this, but many who don't understand weapons like this probably don't have that philosophy figured out.

          My third choice for a weapon, after these is a long range rifle and a scope.  Perfect for rooftops, or situations where you can shoot and displace.  I watched Hotel Rwanda on DVD, and got depressed, because that can happen to us here in America.  In fact, after seeing the Federal response to New Orleans (all those kids locked and loaded looking to shoot people, who simply wanted some water and for their baby to live), it is clear that arming oneself isn't necessarily a bad idea.

          The other thing I think needs to be said is that having all the provisions in the world won't help you if it is buried under your house.  Situations occur where you won't have access to your stuff, fire, for instance.  Not only do you need to be prepared, but your neighbors do that you don't have to fend them off when things get ugly (or they don't have to fend you off).  Worst case scenario is that the food simply doesn't come...and it takes a year to grow stuff.  Armageddon?  Ack!

          •  hunting rifles are advisable (none)
            if you're a skillful marksperson who happens to have a little land between your home and the road; a 30-30 or 30-06 slug in the engine block of an approaching vehicle will give your potential attackers pause.

            In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

            by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:07:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Hard to hold a 12 gauge (none)
          while holding a squirmy 2 year old.

          Not an option for me.

    •  LOL! (4.00)
      Funny because I was actually looking at the prices of MREs this last weekend.

      Thank you for the diary.  I honestly didn't even think of most of the possible disasters you had listed.  I was just so fixated on natural disasters I never thought about any of the others.

      BTW I can think of 6 routes out of town.  Is that good?

      The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

      by DawnG on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:27:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't buy too many MREs (4.00)
        They're luxuries, really, compared to the more cost-effective ways you can prepare to deal with nutrition.

        Rough order of priority for consuming food stores

        1. Canned food with low water content
        2. Canned food with high water content
        3. Shelf-stable prepared foods (MREs)
        4. Shelf-stable rations (ER food bars)
        5. Dehydrated/dry foods (backpacking meals, pancake mix, etc.)

        I'll go into this in more detail in part 3 -- especially the desirability of stocking ER food bars instead of MREs.


        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:39:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  MRE's (none)
          Are pretty awful stuff.  But sometimes necessary - no water or heating equipment needed.  Visit your local outdoor store or surf for some MRE alternatives.  Eating nothing but MRE's can be a drag. Dont forget about the tots, food, treats, even small toys are a good idea.

          Somebody mentioned protection: To each his own on guns, but in ALL large scale emergencies in urban areas there are scared and hungry dogs pepper spray (several cans) are a must to protect your family. Buy a good quality product,leaking pepper spray cans are a drag. Police uniform and equipment stores have them. Sorry I don't know current law on purchasing and ownership of pepper spray.

          Good Job!

        •  "Gourmet" food without electricity (none)
          A couple of months ago, I designed the book The Storm Gourmet: A Guide to Extraordinary Meals without Electricity, which contained some pretty tasty-sounding recipes based on shelf-stable ingredients. Also contains lists of how long fresh items will last without power, what thawed foodstuffs can go back in the freezer, and other helpful items. Please consider adding it as a resource in Part 2.

          It was released August 11, and is now available from Pineapple Press, the (really nice to work with) Florida publisher, or through

          AG, if you want a couple of sample pages or more info, contact me here.

          "The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone." -- Airplane

          by HooverWhoWontSuck on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:00:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Years ago I bought a (none)
          stockpile of food from the Mormans. I think it is part of their religion to have a year's supply so they had a lot of good information on how to keep bugs out of the grain, etc. That grain is still under my crawlspace but I haven't checked on it in years. If you can keep the bugs out unprocessed grain is stable and economical.
        •  GORP (none)
          Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts - the hippy backpacker's main staple - is a damn efficient way of storing and hauling nutrients without the water weight.  MREs are  waste of money, money that you're feeding to the Military Industrial Beast.  

          In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

          by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:09:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Those ER bars (none)
          Taste like graham cracker sawdust soaked in corn syrup and wrapped in condoms!
      •  you can buy MRE's? (none)
        I assumed those were designed for the military.  I'm in earthquake country and have bearing in mind everything that has transpired in NOLA.  I'm even thinking about putting together an earthquake preparedness kit for a Republican friend and his wife.  The point being that the Republican controlled government ISN'T going to take care of them.

        So where do you buy MRE's?

        I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

        by blue drop on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:05:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  MREs (none)
          Not sure about actual MREs, but there's a Canadian outfit that sells something like it.  They're pre-cooked entrees in a sealed foil pouch that you can boil for five minutes to heat.  They aren't bad, and I keep some on the boat to use - though I've been known to use them when I don't feel like cooking too.  They have great parboiled rice too.

          There's also an outfit that sells Indian and Thai food packaged the same way.  These don't stick around too long at my place.  Some of them are actually downright tasty.

          Here are some links:

          MRE-like stuff


          "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

          by baba durag on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:24:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mix it up (none)
            MRE's require no heating or water, some have a chemical self heating element but taste awful.  You may not have a way to boil water. Bring backpack food and MRE's if you can.
            •  Neither do these (none)
              Like MREs these can be eaten cold if you wish, as they are pre-cooked.  Nor do they require water to prepare - except to heat.  In NO you could use the fetid water to heat them in, since the food never encounters the water.

              Backpack food requires water if it's dehydrated.  Use the non-freeze dried stuff.

              "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

              by baba durag on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:46:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  i'm familiar with these (none)
            gotta love Trader Joe's.  the entrees are close to being as good as what i would get at an Indian restaurant for a quarter of the price. but COLD palak paneer?...ick.  i suppose if i got desperate enough.

            I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

            by blue drop on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:44:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yep (none)
              Cold ain't my idea of tasty either.  But in survival mode I think I'd be happy to have it.  They've got all the same drawbacks as MREs, and all the advantages too.  And they're tastier!

              Latitude38, a local sailing rag, once advocated the idea that survival rations ought to consist of things you actually like.  (Not just hardtack and salt pork :).  I always liked that approach, so I try to follow it.  Like you say, even Trader Joe's stocks it.  That's where I first came across it too.

              "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

              by baba durag on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:51:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  trouble is... (none)
                i don't think they would stay in the house long enough to serve as earthquake rations.  maybe i'll slip a bunch into a box and seal it.  if left in the pantry, i'll likely eat them.

                I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

                by blue drop on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 07:35:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  motivation (none)
                  if ever there was a time that a treat of something you like would be welcome it would be when the chips are really down.  that's the motivation to keep it around for me.  i eat them when I feel like it, but replenish the stocks right away.

                  a legendary British sailor/explorer, Tristan Jones, had a policy that went like this (paraphrased): "If something catastrophic happens the first thing to do is sit down and make a big mug of hot tea with milk and sugar.  1) You may not get another chance, and 2) afterward you'll feel much better, and be better able to tackle the problems you face."

                  but, as always, do what feels best to you.  you're the best judge for yourself.


                  "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

                  by baba durag on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 08:21:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Check a Military Supply Store (none)
          Not sure if they carry them, but this would be where I would look. What these stores sell is actually amazing. Also look at a site like this for camping related food:


          •  If Not MRE's, Then Try Dehydrated Instead (none)
            I stumbledd onto this site about two years ago, Walton Feed, out of Idaho.  They not only sell MRE's but also multiple types of dehydrated foods as well as survival supplies and "go" bags.

            Living here in Florida I'm seriously considering both the "go" bags and some of their dehydrated products (they even sell a one year supply of dehydrated foods for a single individual), not only for hurricane season but also to bolster my food supplies.  Right now, the only thing's stopping me is money...

          •  Careful though, (none)
            MREs will go bad.  I think their rated shelf life is five years.  Which means if you get them at a surplus store they may be at the end of their shelf lives.

            But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.

            by calipygian on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:43:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The problem... (none)
            When it comes to MRE's most of the stores are selling MREs that already have about half of their shelf-life gone...

            Stored properly they are only good for about 5 years.

            I keep them in my car for emergency food on the road.

            One nice thing about MREs...

            About 2000 calories per meal.

            Keep in mind that for the average person 1 MRE can get them through an entire day if you eat it a bit at a time. (The average American is lazy, yaknow?)

            In the Infantry some guys would eat as many as 5 or 6 per day to be able to keep warm in the winter and still be able to do a long grueling day's work.

            You have to think about what you will be doing and how much you will need to sustain yourself properly.

            IWT News
            Independent World Television

            by m16eib on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 06:30:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  MRE's are pricey (none)
          The last time I checked, it seems like they ran somewhere between $4 and $6 per meal.  You would be better off creating your own meal, in my opinion, unless you're wealthy enough to plunk down some sizeable change.

          "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

          by rangemaster on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:25:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It Ain't Hard to Prepare (none)
        There are some great comments here. I'm 35 and as a yound Boy Scout camping equipment wasn't that great. Today it is stunning. I could pick up my pack walk into the woods in southern Illinois and live for a long time. I paid a little more cause I love to hike/camp, but for $500 you could have a complete set-up.
      •  MREs (none)
        MREs are expensive.  You might want to back that up with a 25lb bag of pinto beans and a 25lb bag of rice.  Cost you about $25 altogether at Costco and feed you for quite a while (over a month).

        If not us who, if not now, when.

        by sabinspeiser on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:45:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  beans and rice... (none)
          ..require water and heat to make edible.  Depending on the disaster both might be unavailable or in short supply.  (though technically you could cook beans and rice with a solar oven but you still need water and that might not be practical in the colder northern states)

          The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

          by DawnG on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:19:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Alcohol stove (none)
            You can cook very well with a surplus alcohol stove, campers and hikers use them all the time.
          •  I kept a bag of rice as a reserve (none)
            and after a year, I started having bug problems.  I couldnt for the life of me figure out where they were coming from until I checked the rice.  The bad was bloated and there was a fetid smell coming from it.  The rice had a type of small rice weevil in it.  Nasty.

            But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.

            by calipygian on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:41:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Avoid anything that needs to be cooked (none)
              because electricity is likely to be knocked out by a hurricane.

              Most fresh fruit will last for several days
              Apples and citrus fruit will last at least a month
              Tomatoes will last about 10 days at least

              Canned goods will last a long time and are often discounted or sold at 2 for 1 deals:

              1. canned fruits and vegetables
              2. canned tuna
              3, other canned meats are available but are not part of my regular diet
              3. canned soup because you can eat it right out of the can

              Manufactured baked goods will also last at least a month in most cases.

              •  OK, you mentioned canned meat . . . (none)
                so I feel compelled to bring a little [more] levity to this thread. If you really want to look like a veteran of the hurricane wars, from Camille to Frederick up to Ophelia, the essential item which marks you is a can of Spam.  If you cannot in good conscience buy it, then beenie weenies is a distant second.  There are lots of Southerners raising their contemplated warm beers to me right now in agreement with the cultural and conversational significance of Spam.

                We forge community in the canned meat aisle before each storm, debating on whether, how much, and if the deviled ham counts.  I don't actually own any myself, but it's always the in-joke, the rallying cry, the thing that can get tense, tight shoppers to relax and laugh a little.  And take it from a survivor of the Northridge quakes, the Rodney King riots, Erin, Opal, Georges, Ivan, and Katrina, breaking the tension is often an important thing to do.

                Who thought civil defense would be left to the civilians?

                by gazingoffsouthward on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 12:08:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  rice and grain... (none)
              ....should always, always, always kept in the tightest containers you can buy, and put dry ice in the canister first.

              "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

              by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:28:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  This is terrific, AlphaGeek ... (4.00)
      ...I know you'll be talking in more detail in parts 2 and 3, but here's what we've done to be prepared for the Big One if it hits Los Angeles.

      Each car is supplied with a survival kit for three people, including for each person, a pair of sneakers, jeans, tee-shirt, a flashlight, spare batteries, a good knife, a survival blanket, a half-gallon of water, some long-lasting power bars, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene supplies.  Each car also has a first-aid kit (don't buy the ready-mades, build your own) a shovel, a gasoline siphon hose, flares, and a large crowbar and ... a can opener in case we have to loot some grocery stores. And $300 in cash.

      My wife has a smaller survival kit in a backpack in a drawer at her office.

      We have ample amounts of survival food items and 60 gallons of water stored in our backyard, a small generator, a backpack of handtools, rope, chain, tarps, and other useful items.

      We also have a procedure and a backup for meeting each other should communications go down.

      This all came about when my ex-office was retrofitted for earthquake protection and I talked with a firefighter and read predictions of what might happen if an 8.0 struck here. It's sobering. And Katrina has reinforced that for us.

      Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:46:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hey (4.00)
        I'm heading over to your house in an emergency. Can I bring something, like maybe a bottle of nice Chardonnay?
      •  Thanks, MB (4.00)
        You might consider adding water-purification supplies to your car kits.  I'll discuss water in great detail in the final installment.


        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:00:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank YOU! This is a ... (none)
          ...crucial service you've done for Kossacks. After the '94 quake, I wrote a two-page memo to my boss about the need to spend a two thousand dollars for emergency training of all employees, encouraging office survival kits, and lashing down computer monitors and CPUs.

          I did this each year for five years before surrendering. He didn't even want to spend money to save the equipment - much less the people. I wonder if he's an advisor to "Brownie" now.

          Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:07:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Live In A New York City HighRise (4.00)
            What options other than bottled water do I have, if at 78, I live on the 19th floor of a high rise  and cannot get out?  While I feel it's useful to have survival information, this country is glaringly unprepared to protect its citizens, and in fact, cannot offer the kind of ideas and  disaster plans that you are offering.

            Just imagine that in a chaotic terrorist attack my building lobby became a triage area combined with criminals knocking down apartment doors,looting,shooting,raping,or doing anything to survive?

            Perhaps we really haven't thought this all out.  We now know the Government certainly hasn't.

            Darwin looms over the Intelligent Design of denial and wishful thinking offered by our idiotically incompetent and criminally negligent administration.

            •  hot water heater (4.00)
              Does your apartment have its own hot water heater? If you know how to drain it, you can extract the potable water.
            •  Well, you live in New York ... (none)
     you'll have to buy a gun in New Jersey. Given the scenario you describe, that's something I would do. But having enough food and water and batteries (et cetera) on hand, can help in many circumstances. If a meteor or 10 kiloton nuke hits, well, it's curtains, what can I say?

              Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

              by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:18:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  you can get bottled water delivered (none)
              ... from the local supermarket (a lot of my elderly neighbors get their groceries delivered; most of the delivery people around here are from the Sudan and they're really nice, or so my neighbors say). You'll have to stock up before the disaster, but that's the case with all of the preparations.
            •  morris1030 (none)
              While your situation is a bit different from many of the other folks on here, with some relatively straightforward preparation (mental and material) you can face just about any likely scenario with confidence.

              It would be difficult to pull in a lot of material from the future Diaries in this series to give you a complete plan in this comment, so I'll give you some starting points to consider and ask you to check back on Monday to discuss this further.

              First, you have some advantages.  The 19th floor of a high-rise is an excellent tactical position.  If you take refuge in your apartment for the duration of the (undefined) emergency, then you will not be an attractive target for would-be criminals.  Note that you should plan to keep a low profile at night -- shades drawn, bright lights in emergency only, reading lights kept well away from windows.

              Your age is another advantage, believe it or not.  Older folks require fewer calories to get by due to their lower basal metabolic rates.  This means that a 3600-calorie emergency ration bar that would sustain my 34-year-old, high-metabolism carcass for 1.5 days (at most) will probably last you 3 days.  In other words, you're a cheap date.

              Your first step in fortifying your security situation is to get acquainted with your neighbors.  Agree on two code-words to use when knocking on doors -- one when everything is OK, another if the person knocking is under duress.  If you have friends or relatives out of state who should be contacted in case of emergency, please put this information onto a reference card and give it to one or two neighbors.  Offer to do the same for them.

              Next, do an honest assessment of your environmental risks.  In a high-rise, heat or cold during an extended power outage can be serious issues.  You must consider how you would deal with both situations.

              Finally, put together a plan to survive 7 days without services or rescue by sheltering in place.  For details on ways to do this, again, please check back on Monday.

              Be safe, elder brother.


              You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

              by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:47:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  locate a building with a gutter (none)
              because everytime it rains drinkable water will pour down.

              Find out how the rain water drains off the roof of your building.

              Avoid collecting rainwater for a few minutes until most of the impurities have been washed away.

            •  In most cities... (none)
              ...I think the biggest concern should not be looting, but fire.

              After having a fair number of can openers (preferably in your jump bags in your home, your car and at work), gear to remove people from collapsed houses and gear to stop or mitigate to the fullest extent possible fires is crucial.

              I have an ancient Whole Earth Review from 1990 that talked about the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, and fire was the primary emphasis in their discussion (after how clueless people could be in the midst of disaster, which is why I'm not as worried about firearms in the immediate wake of one - later, perhaps necessary...)

              "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

              by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:35:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Water distillation (4.00)
          A large plastic sheet, flexible tubing (optional), a container and a shovel can net you up to a quart of distilled water per day. Three or four of them per person can sustain you for awhile.

          Of course, you need moisture. Urine, vegetation, unclean water can all make for a refreshing glass of clean water.


          •  Outside the scope of this series (none)
            I'm trying to stick to mainstream disaster prep, but I'm sure the audience thanks you for the mental image of you drinking your distilled urine.  Heh.


            You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

            by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:38:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I saw something on this... (none)
              ...a LONG time ago on a short lived series who's name I can't recall on how to survive in various circumstance.  

              They litterally took black plastic sheeting, laid it over a hole in the ground and filled it with seawater, and then created a little tent out of another piece of black plastic sheeting.  The water evaporated and stuck to the sheeting and little drops slid down the walls of the tent into little ditches dug around the hole and that water was fresh.

              But isn't there a certain level of contamination that can't be addressed with this kind of distillation?  I'd think water contaminated with bacteria might not be deconaminated this way would it?

              The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

              by DawnG on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 09:56:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Water systems (4.00)
          Katadyne filtration systems rock. They've got both personal size, and a muscle powered neighborhood unit that'll serve 15-20 gallons an hour, depending how dirty your input is.
          Durable, we've run them 24/7 for a week at rainbow gatherings.

          Hm. Should be no suprise, the price of the big one has gone up since I last looked. $850 is the best I'm seeing.

          No-one who voted against the USAPATRIOT Act has lost an election. I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

          by ben masel on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:50:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  filtration may not be enough (none)
            if you're anywhere downstream of an urban area, you'd better learn how to improvise a still.  only distilling guarantees sanitary water.  

            In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

            by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:12:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Reverse osmosis (none)
              RO filters, like I assume Ben is talking about, have pore sizes smaller than viruses and bacteria.  So water borne disease can be pretty much eliminated.  Chemical contaminates with molecules smaller than the pore size can still be a problem, but the number of chemicals that group gets pretty small with a tight enough filter size.

              The problem with distillation is twofold:1) it requires a lot of energy to make water vaporize into steam to distill it.  That can be done fast with a stove, or slow with a solar still.  But the total quantity of energy remains the same, and to distill any quantity of water sufficient to sustain you (and others) will require lots of energy.  2) any chemical with a vaporization energy less than water ends up being carried right along with the water into the vapor and then into the distilled water.  Things like benzene fall into this category.  So distillation is no panacea.

              My opinion is that RO is a great way to go.  It's been said that an RO filter is like pumping water through an eighth inch thick piece of solid fiberglass.  Imagine how difficult it is to get anything but the tiniest molecule through that.

              "Whatever they want the answer is no. Now is not the time to fold, now is the time to up the ante." -- Charles Pierce

              by baba durag on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 08:52:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  thanks, AG! (none)
          And there are great sources for reasonably priced, small purification filters--I await your consumer report.  
      •  Just how big is your car? (none)
        Just wondering how much room all that takes up.

        I have a rather haphazard kit in my car that I have been meaning to sort out-- some of it doubles as gardening and bike tools.

        My bike lives on the back of my car now. I figure why not have a spare mode of transportation?

        Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

        by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:09:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Damn! (4.00)
        Way to be prepared!  And I thought I was doing good because I have periodic tornado drills with my two cats (not difficult - scream TORNADO, run into the bathroom and hand out treats) and have emergency supplies stashed in my bathroom.

        Everyone's left of the extreme right.

        by gnutpnut on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:11:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this reminds me (none)
          of the time we had a tornado warning in our area. My husband and I kept trying to get in the bathtub with our two Boston terriers and position a mattress over our heads. The dogs thought (reasonably enough) that we were trying to give them a bath and kept jumping out to save what they considered to be their appropriately doggy smelly hides. By the time we got all of us back into the tub at the same time, the tornado warning had expired.
        •  Love it! (none)
          Got more feline (or canine for that matter) preparedness tips and tricks to share?

          Bloom and Moo thank you - merow!

          (Brilliant diary, AG. Was just readying myself to set out the emergency preparedness journey alone)

          Is nothing secular?

          by aitchdee on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:04:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely terrific ... (4.00)
        Did you also include some superfangled minidevice that can automatically download dailykos ... I know that wouldn't be the first thing on my mind in an emergency at first, but huddled somewhere in the event of a disaster-struck area, I'd be thinking pretty quickly, "if only I had dkos, I could keep up to speed moment by moment!"

        Alpha, this may come up later in your other installments, but what about creating community-based disaster-resistance groups ... I mean, what if officials weren't available and people had only each other to turn to? It definitely sounds like some have their own personal or couples-based survival plans established already (enormously enlightening and inspiring), but do you know if this has grown to include grassroots disaster-based networks? I mean, I'm sure some of our very red neighbors would tell us to take a flying leap, but anyway, I was just thinking of the next level beyond  the immediate individuals concerned.

        Can't wait for the other installs.

        •  In response to your questions (4.00)
          Did you also include some superfangled minidevice that can automatically download dailykos ...

          While I, personally, might have Internet access in a disaster it would be technically challenging for many folks to establish and maintain that capability.  Just as a for-example, here are some of the access methods I have available:

          1. home access via DSL
          2. dialup modem access via any working phone line, with a complete list of access numbers for North America stored in a text file
          3. laptop wireless access via the Sprint CDMA network
          4. laptop wireless access via the Cingular GSM network
          5. phone-browser wireless access via the Cingular GSM network

          Oh, and I know the location of the nearest house with DirecWay two-way satellite-based Internet connectivity.

          Oh, and all of my critical files and applications are on a 2GB USB key, which can be plugged into any Windows box with Internet access.

          Alpha, this may come up later in your other installments, but what about creating community-based disaster-resistance groups ...

          This is very important, and I will be covering this in the second installment.

          Thanks for the questions.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:28:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You'd Be Suprised How Many Don't... (none)
   anything about their systems when a natural disaster is coming, mainly because most folks don't do enough on their computers to think about what would happen if they lost them.

            For my part, when Frances hit I made sure that all of my application install CD's were in a safe place; burned all my data files to DVD and then backed that up with an Archos 40GB USB pocket drive (about $200 at Circuit City, last I checked). Every application on my home PC is also on my laptop, and it has both 56K and Ethernet hookups.

            Somewhere along the line I'll probably invest in a Iomega (gag!) REV 36/72 GB removable and back up the entire partition using True Image, but that's a way down the road.

            At the very least, everyone who has data on PC's that they might want to hang on to should burn at least a set of CD's or two (after all, CD's can get unreadable).

            •  Portable Hard Drives (none)
              I recently spent about $20 or $30 at CompUSA to get a USB 2.0 case to put a bog-standard IDE-ATA hard drive in. Drop one of those 120 or 160 G Western Digitals that everyone on earth has been selling for $40 after rebate, and you have an instant humongous external backup drive, for way less than the cost of pre-built USB 2.0 external drives. You can dump a LOT of important stuff on one of those; heck, you can always put smaller bits of important data on the same CF or SD cards that your digital camera uses (and use the digital camera to take some pictures for insurance purposes, while you're at it).

              In the case of a major disaster, a single 160G external hard drive can easily contain enough vital internet porn to keep an entire family of four supplied for months.

            •  I've been thinkin around similar lines... (none)
              My current computer is also a DVR (home built)

              I have a 166gig hard drive, with about 66 gigs free.

              I've been thinking about putting in two SATA 150 250 gig drives, striped to give me a 500 gig fast hard drive.

              I'm going to partion the drive to keep the OS partion less than the size of a DVD.

              Then I can ghost to a DVD for backup.

              I'll remove the 166 gig drive, and convert it to a portable with a USB kit. I can put my data on that.

              Any one else have ideas?

              "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

              by wrights on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 06:43:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Mind you that's not survival, (none)
                But a backup strategy...

                "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

                by wrights on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 06:46:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  For Katrina, I used (none)
                  a dial-up connection (set up and tested before-hand!) with my Fujitsu LifeBook, with both its batteries pre-charged. It switched from dialup to dsl and batt to ac automatically.

                  Like all of us, I'm addicted to instant updates and visuals, and I found that being able to access NOAA, local weather, etc., even email, was an incredible means of keeping my anxiety down--worth the investment for those in tornado alley or the hurricane belt, or even those with flickery power during thunder storms.

                  I don't have a car charger yet; that's next.  Remember the car chargers for the cell phones, people!, and you can get those 11-way emergency lantern tvs which have ac/batt/rechargable batt/car charger.  Pricy, but good to throw in the car in a hurry.

              •  Speed is not essential - (none)
                - and anything'll work faster than you can think.

                Striping isn't a good idea for either reliability, or data recovery.  If one drive dies, you'll lose all your data.  Mirrored hard drives are the way to go:  if one drive dies, all your data is preserved on the other, and it requires only a jumper change to recover.

                Backup portability is crucial.  Which means small, durable, and non-magnetic if possible.  Never consider tape.  And frankly, backing up everything on your bootable (and all other) partitions, is a waste of time and money.  Just back up the data you've created.  Two backups are preferred - one to a disc media device (CD or DVD), and one to a solid-state USB device.  Stay away from magneto-optical drives and tape drives, if only because - in extremis - you're only going to be carrying your backup media, not the device you used to perform the backup.  You want to be reasonably sure you'll be able to easily find a compatible device on the next computer you use... It's kind of like choosing a firearm:  you pick disaster-scenario weapons with the idea that the easiest ammunition to find should determine what you choose - so .45's, 9mm's, .22's, .223's, .308's, 30-06's, and 12 guages are pretty much all that's on the menu.


                •  My self.. (none)
                  I like the 30.06.

                  You can buy lots of different kinds of ammo. Not sure if they still sell varmit rounds with a 22 caliber round in a "sabot"?

                  But if you just want home defense, a poster else where in the thread was right 12 guage pump.

                  If you hear that sound, it freezes you in your tracks, I know!

                  One night (before cell phones) my car broke down, and I knocked on the door of a house with the lights on.

                  Just before the door opened, I heard that sound...

                  When the door opened, I kept my hands in sight, and didn't make any quick moves.

                  The door only opened half way. I knew that someone was standing behind it.

                  After they realized that they knew who I was, they let me in.

                  Find out they had a large amount of cash on hand, and they were being cautious.....maybe paranoid..

                  "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

                  by wrights on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 05:38:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Ham radio again (none)
            If the Internet ever went down there are ham radio-to-email gateways (of course you need a computer or dedicated packet device to use them). Running Daily Kos through them is a bit of a stretch, but email lists and bulletins could be set up easily enough.
          •  OK...I hate to ask (none)
            Electricity for all this cool stuff?
            •  Chuckle, chuckle (none)
              Ah, very good point indeed!!  You've just pointed out the obvious, yet overlooked.  The posts above are evidence as to just how hard it is to imagine life without something as tenuous in a disaster, natural or otherwise, as electricity.

              "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

              by rangemaster on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:40:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I feel like I have a rhino on a leash (none)
                And it's taking me for a walk.  Folks are so excited about the topic that they're getting way ahead of this Diary's primary topic of risk assessment.

                I guarantee that energy (heat, electricity, mechanical) will be discussed at length in a later installment of this series.


                You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

                by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:09:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wool (none)
                  It can't be beat for warmth, and I can speak from much experience through some pretty damned cold winters working outside.  Wool.

                  Not that you needed an additional irrelevent comment....

                  "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

                  by rangemaster on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 10:16:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Community-based plans (4.00)
          I have been thinking about that since the whole Y2K scare. Not that I thought Y2K was going to destroy civilization, but that rampaging "me firsters" might if sufficiently alarmed. The best survival scheme in an urban setting, in my opinion, is to stick together and organize.

          So my plan is to organize a local group to tackle the following scenario: We wake up one morning with no power, phones, or communication with the outside world. There is no visible damage, but natural gas supplies have run dry. The city water still works, but there is no power to replenish the towers.

          In short we have no idea what has happened, no way to know if help is coming, or how long we will need to survive. I have chosen this scenario because it precludes microfocusing on a specific event like a flood, and instead focuses on our response as a civilization.

          Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

          by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:25:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Add a radio to your stockpile (none)
            That's where a battery-operated portable radio can come in handy.

            (I'm another San Andreas fault neighbor)

            •  better yet (none)
              a crank-operated radio requiring no batteries...

              In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

              by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:18:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  they have... (none)
                ...flashlights that are powerered from shaking.  

                And you can buy AC adapters that plug into your car for your laptop.  If you're in your car evacuating that can be a good source of power.  

                Keep a full tank though!

                The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

                by DawnG on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 10:42:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, but that's not the point (none)
              of my admittedly somewhat artificial scenario.

              I want to get beyond the specific microfocus of a particular event, and plan how the community responds to danger itself. I'm not talking about wind-up flashlights or bottled water. To understand what I mean consider that the radio spectrum is filled with static, cable is out, no TV signals, not even satellite.

              You have no communication with anyone outside the range of your voice. That is the atom of civilization-- those people you can communicate with. I believe that is where civil planning needs to start. No matter what immediate task is in front of you-- evacuating, rescuing people from a burning house, or surviving a winter-- organization on that level is crucial.

              How do you look after the elderly? Who is sick? What if a neighbor's child is missing? How many people even live in your neighborhood anyway? "Everyone for themselves" shouldn't be an acceptable plan.

              Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

              by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:23:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Community Survival (4.00)
            My local e-mail list in Oakland Ca is asking about this. The city offers workshops meant to address emergency planning by neighborhood, and more people are interested now, natch. The idea is neighborhood do-gooders get trained in all sorts of disaster preparedness so that the official emergency services folks aren't the only ones with a clue when the big one hits.

            I'm in grad school and have two small kids so I just can't deal with taking the workshop this year. However I stay in close touch with all my neighbors, and am discussing the family emergency plan with hubbie, parents and in-laws (who are all local).

            We're discussing where to go, where to meet, who to call, and putting together simple emergency supplies. I've been hearing for years that we need an earthquake kit. Assembled one once but the plastic tub I put it in out in the yard cracked, and rain spoiled the contents. (Including a very nice solar powered radio, dammit) Never got around to replacing the thing.

            Our garage is under our bedrooms and although my dad the structural engineer says it's braced properly, I'm concerned about storing the kits in the garage, because what if it pancakes? Cars are inside the garage, too. Risk of cars getting stolen out of the driveway a lot higher than risk of getting pancaked inside the garage (this is Oakalnd - my 90 Camry was stolen 2x from the driveway until I got wise and cleaned out the garage) Anyway - I want to keep the supplies in the back yard.

            Risk of my two boys finding a gun and using it is much higher than the risk of civil unrest. I'm staying unarmed. But the thought of armed leftists scaring Republicans does entice me...

            •  Yes, (none)
              this is pretty much what I was thinking about. Most of it just come down to communication with neighbors and some basic planning. [a little planning goes a long way-- a few months ago, someone posted a fascinating article on how to survive a disaster. It turns out the people most likely to survive something like a plane crash are those people that acknowledged the threat beforehand, others literally freeze up for a period of time while their brain struggles to understand what is happening.]

              As far a pancaking goes (mmm, pancakes....), it kind of depends on what your house is made of. I am guessing your garage, since it's under your house, has concrete walls. Unless you have a concrete slab above it, there should be little danger of pancaking. Still, supplies should be were you can get to them.

              If you are storing regular plastic tubs outside, the plastic is probably cracking due to sun exposure. I would store the tub in a shed or one of those rubbermaid garden boxes. Also, I would wrap the contents of the tub in individual plastic bags-- that way a burst can of corn doesn't wreck your radio or your spare shoes.

              I am with you on the firearms. Even in an emergency, there is usually not a lot of need for a gun. Besides, walking around town with a big shotgun and a bandolier of ammo is probably the best way to be mistaken for a looter.

              Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

              by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:55:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Check your kit regularly (4.00)
        My mother checked her outside kit recently, and found that one of the jugs of water had opened up, causing most of the supplies to either rust or be destroyed by water.
      •  what about clean underwear? (none)
        During many international trips (in-country I never check luggage), I've learned to pack a few spares in my hand carry bags, as well as toothbrush, toothpaste, clean wipes, and those fun feminine products.

        It's guaranteed that the time you forget 'em is the time USAir (insert carrier name here) loses your luggage!

        Handy tip for girls on the go to places with few laundry opportunities: instead of packing many pairs of underwear, stock up on space-saving ultra-thin panty liners. Switch them out every day and wear each pair of underwear longer!!!!  On second thought, they'd be handy for anyone's emergency kit.

        I live in the land of hurricanes (SE Florida) but I will send all my friends in California your preparedness suggestions, Meteor Blades.


        "It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare" --- Mark Twain

        by murfmom on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:27:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Totally off topic, but I knew someone ... (none)
          ...when I was first in college whose mother SENT him fresh underwear every month. I kid you not. She knew he wouldn't do laundry and since she lived halfway across the country, he couldn't drive home with his dirty shorts every few weeks, so she just sent him new stuff all the time.

          Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:47:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know of a similar situation... (none)
            We were on a work assignment in Singapore for many months, and his wife alloted him a specific amount of cash per week for undies and shirts for the reasons you specify.  (His cash flow was all direct deposit - she was definitely in charge of the cash flow.)

            "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

            by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:55:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  speaking of Darwin awards... (none)

            If someone can't -or won't- operate a washing machine in normal times, God help them in an emergency.  

            Those moms & wives who are sending their inept husbands & sons underwear, ought to tell them this:

            Next time you come home, you are not going to get a single scrap of food until you learn how to wash your own clothes.  

            (Okay, give 'em dinner after they get off the plane, but the next day, put the rule into effect with ferocity.)  

        •  Socks (none)
          Begging your pardon, but I consider clean, dry socks at least as important as a change of underwear.  As a certain Navy Master Chief once observed to me, you're not going to walk out of a disaster zone on your butt.  Heh.

          That perspective could change considerably if I got a bad case of diarrhea, of course.  Ewww.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:51:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sanitary napkins are not just for periods! (none)
          Stock up now.  They make very effective compresses for wounds because they are absorbent and they don't stick to the wound.  They can also be dipped in cold/ice water for an effective and not very drippy cold pack for swelling.  

          Now that the youngest is 2 years old, and fast growing, we're always finding unused small size diapers in old diaper bags, behind cabinets, etc... Hospital hint:  wet one down, toss in freezer.  Excellent cold compress.  No dripping.  Those silica gel thingies hold water quite effectively.

          •  Feminie Products (none)
            For that matter, tampons can be used as, well, surgical tampons, if need be; and many types of make-up products can be effective against windburn and other cold-weather problems.
          •  Frozen peas (none)
            make great cold compressses for swelling. When one of my grandchildren falls down and gets a boo boo I immediately ask "Should I get the frozen peas" to gage the extent of their pain.
            My son has a friend whose wife had just had a baby. She went to bed after returning home from the hospital and was suffering with pain in her breasts due to swelling.  She told her husband to go to the kitchen and bring her some Frozen Peas. He stayed and stayed in the kitchen . When he returned 20 minutes later with the "cooked peas" she knew what had taken him so long."   lol
            •  Believe it or not...the cooked peas would work (none)
              in her case, if she was trying to maintain her lactation.  Putting cold compresses on lactating breasts reduces their output.  

              But that's more than you probably wanted to know.

      •  Communications (4.00)
        One of the things in my 72-hour emergency kit is a Radio Shack model HTX-245 2-meter ham radio transceiver, a set of 3 AA batteries to power it (stored separately) and a souped-up antenna that helps to give it a little more oomph than you'd normally get from a transceiver that puts out about 300 mw.

        When I get some money ahead I'd like to replace it with something that has a little more power to it, but that particular unit is lightweight, and besides I already have it. I don't have to go out and buy one.

        Now you* may be thinking, you have a cell phone you can use in case of an emergency. Well, guess what Sparky, if it's really an emergency the cell towers will either be down or overloaded and you won't get through. The landscape is dotted with 2-meter ham radio repeaters, and in a real emergency the radio hams spring into action. You'll be able to get help unless you're out in the middle of nowhere, and maybe even then.

        You should also know that the law says you can't transmit on amateur radio frequencies without a license. In an emergency, you worry about survival first and the law later, at least where a radio like this is concerned. (Of course you will most likely have to have a sympathetic radio ham friend set it up for you, since you probably don't know about repeater offsets or which are the best frequencies to use in your area.) Or you can Do The Right Thing™ and get a Technician class ham radio license which will qualify you to use the radio. It's easier than getting a driver's license -- you don't have to get behind the wheel to get one. (Anyone interested in the details can contact me through my profile or can go to the web site of the American Radio Relay League, the national organization of radio amateurs, and click on the "Learn About Amateur Radio" link.)

        * Not you specifically, MB. Besides, I know your name isn't Sparky.

        •  Sounds like a good idea. Before ... (none)
          ...the last big earthquake here, we were told that you could make a call on your cellphone if you dialed immediately after the shaking stopped. If you waited a couple of minutes, the circuits (or whatever they're called now) would be jammed.

          How much does that Radio Shack radio you already have cost?

          Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:43:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Heh (none)
          I guess I should have posted this in one part, as everyone seems to be eager to get on to the material goods part of preparedness.

          It's not well-known, but the wireless data networks (including text messaging) are operational in situations where getting a voice call through is impossible.  I'll cover this in detail in a later installment, but in short, a fundamental part of every emergency plan is knowing how to use text messaging on your phone -- and making sure you have a list of folks in other states who can act on your messages.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:56:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Omar (none)
          Do they have an efficient crank set that works with ham frequencies?

          One of my concerns is that regular communications systems frequently break down or are disallowed.  Ham radio operaters can operate when no one else can.

        •  Thank you, thank you, thank you! (none)
          How many times do people have to be told they can't rely on cell phone service during an emergency like this?  I couldn't believe one of the excuses FEMA used about communications last week was that they couldn't understand why the cell phone networks were down. AARRGGG!

          It's so easy to get a ham license, and it's a lot of fun.  You meet a lot of really great people from all walks of life, and it's a hobby that can actually be of use during an emergency or a disaster.  If you're really wanting to be prepared for an emergent situation, I recommend getting your license.  

          Another perk is that lots of hams are police, EMT, fire, and ex-military types and are involved in Red Cross and Salvation Army efforts.  I swear to you that I could have taken a dozen of my best ham buddies to New Orleans and we could have had that place in hand in a day.  Many have worked situations such as the Murrah Building bombing and the May 1999 tornado that killed 43 people and destroyed a large part of the OKC area.  These guys have the real-deal experience, and they are incredible teachers.

          I carry my handheld everywhere with me during tornado season, along with a small portable television and lots of extra batteries.  I have a friend who was inside her home when it was destroyed by a tornado several years ago, and she's pretty gunshy when it comes to severe weather.  It helps her to hear what the weather nets and storm spotters are saying if there's a storm somewhere nearby.

          A scanner's a good thing to have, too.  You can't transmit on it, but you can listen to fire, police, etc., and that can be helpful.

          •  My main handheld is a scanner, more or less (none)
            It's a Yaesu/Vertex VX5-R which is capable of receiving most of everything from about 500 KHz up to but not including cell phone range. I have a couple of channels I listen to just for grins, like the local busses and BNSF operations (much fun when we take the train up to Vancouver). It also has a dedicated function for NOAA weather, and if you really wanted to you could probably get TV audio. (I even have the station that broadcasts the Mariners programmed in and take it with me to ball games.) I've never tried fire and police, but it should work as well as any other receiver for them.

            One of the great things about being a radio ham is you can join up with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, or ARES. They're the people who do communications when nothing else can get through, and I'll bet your ham buddies are ARES members.

      •  Wow, that's a great list MB... (none)
        ...I live in NW Indiana, near Chicago, and after that small Earthquake that struck near the Mississippi in the late 80's (The New Madrid Fault, which is overdue for another big one?) and with the combination of terrorism (Nuked Chicago- Not something I would normally worry about, but we're talking Bushco here) and seeing what happened to the people in N.O. I've been thinking about creating a list, so AG's timing is perfect.

        Of course, the first thing on my list is one of those wind up radio's that won Industrial Design awards a few years back, that was developed for impovershed areas that don't have electricity. In fact, I just went googling while writing this and noticed they have wind up flash lights now as well!

        I was also wondering if there is a fold-up solar panels. I keep thinking I saw something recently on a flexible solar panel that you could pack up and go with, but I'll have to look again. They usually have some cool stuff in the gear section of National Geographic Adventure Magazine.

        Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

        by Alumbrados on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 07:21:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here is the place that manufactured... (none)
          ..the radio I am thinking of, Freeplay

          Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

          by Alumbrados on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 07:34:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  These iSun portable chargers... (none)
          look good for small things...

          Now if we could just find one to keep the portable DVD player going to keep the kids amused... ;-)

          "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

          by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:07:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Freeplay and others (none)

          Freeplay radios are high-quality, made In South Africa for use under rugged conditions.  The crank winds up a very large spring, and as the spring unwinds, it turns a generator that powers the radio.   One of the key advantages of this is that it doesn't depend on rechargeable batteries that can lose their ability to take a charge after a few years.  One of the current standard Freeplay models also picks up shortwave.  It also has a built-in flashlight on a cord, powered by the windup unit; normally it mounts in a recess in the radio housing, but it can also be detached and hung overhead to provide some area light.

          The FreePlay radio also has built-in solar cells that will power the radio in normal daylight.  This is an incredibly useful feature because it basically lets you play the radio all day without having to think twice about it.  

          I've had a Freeplay for years (the model just prior to the one with the built-in flashlight), it works great.  

          There are other crank-driven radios that use a small magneto generator to charge up a battery.  If the batteries wear out you can still turn the generator and the radio will work while you're turning it.  That might not be so good for casual listening, but for news on the hour, you can deal with it.  Radio Snack sells one made by Grundig for about $35.  This is a fairly compact unit, smaller than the Freeplay, so it's useful for carrying in the car in case you get stuck in a situation where you want to conserve the car's battery.

          Real Goods sells various solar powered devices including battery chargers.  Use these to keep small batteries charged, for example for LED flashlights.  

      •  They'll take your food from you (none)
        I knew someone who was in Panama during the U.S. naval blockade prior to the invasion in 1989 (she was Panamanian, not foreign).  She and her family were Mormon, a religion that strongly encourages stockpiling food for one year at least, two if possible.  

        Her family's neighbors knew they were mormon and came calling during the blockade.  In essence, the family was given a choice... give up the food, or give up their lives.  Within a couple of days, their entire stored one-year food supply was gone.

        Now that's sobering.

        "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

        by rangemaster on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:35:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ooh! will we get hover crafts too? (4.00)
      You  know--like on Star Wars?  That's the way I want to get outta town.  No bumper to bumper traffic or pesky downed trees to hold us up.

      Very nice job AlphaGeek, and I'm looking forward to the next one!  

    •  thank you for doing this alphageek (4.00)
      my father-in -law is a retired fire cheif and I can't tell you the amount of voenteer hrs Fireman across the country put into efforts to prepare for things most people never think about.

      I hope this gets recommended all the way to the top and read and heeded.An ounce of prevention.......

      by ctkeith on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:24:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't have to (none)
      because my neighbor is doing it for me.  I was joking with him today because he LOVES the GOP and Bush, and yet he is out there preparing kits for all of his neighbors cars and what not, and yet there he is taking care of us when the GOP mantra is every person for themself.

      He is really a great guy, just his politics are skewed..sigh.

      "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

      by SanJoseLady on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:06:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A gentle reminder (none)
        A readiness kit is not a plan, much less a complete set of contingency plans.  It will not help you rendezvous with your family at a safe location after an earthquake makes your neighborhood unsafe to enter.  (Just as an example.)

        Thank your neighbor for the service, and spend a few minutes working through the exercises in this and the next Diary in the series.  You won't regret it.


        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:17:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I plan to (none)
          as a matter of fact I plan to do something with my entire neighborhood.

          As a side note: storing emergency supplies should be done with the idea that your house could be too damaged to enter.

          Emergency supplies should be in a shed, in a very large garbage container that has "wheels" so that you can move them to where you need to go.

          Many people in CA during the 89 quake found out that their emergency kits were trapped in closets that they couldn't get to.

          "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

          by SanJoseLady on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 07:49:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Aren't youse all jumping the gun? (none)
      Aren't we still on stage 1 -- Assess?
      •  Actually, yes (none)
        As I commented elsewhere, I feel like I have a rhino on a leash, and it's taking me for a walk.  People are definitely getting a bit ahead of the topic at hand.  :)


        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 12:07:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic idea for a diary series... (none)
    Thanks so much for putting this together!  Have a 4!

    "A time comes when silence is betrayal." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by ReddHedd on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:19:35 PM PDT

  •  damn alphageek! (4.00)
    this is a great diary!  i intend to read every one and follow your advice!


  •  Under natural disasters (4.00)
    put the #1 most deadly first, heat wave
    •  Great point (none)
      I'll add that.

      The list, BTW, is not intended to be comprehensive, but I certainly appreciate the feedback.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:30:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  DKospedia (4.00)
        When the series is over you might want to consider putting it on Dkospedia, along with some of the better ideas from the comments. I don't know what the Religious Right expects from a natural disaster -- they might be disappointed if they think it's the Rapture and they're still here when it's all over -- but I intend to live through any I get trapped in, and information like this is a great resource.
      •  Earthquakes and bad weather (none)
        After the 1994 Northridge quake, my relatives in the Carolinas called me to see if I was ok (I had just moved to Oakland, 350 miles north of Northridge). People were so worried about me living in earthquake country. But that same week the South suffered a long, horrible cold snap that killed more people than the Northridge quake.

        Again, my dad the structural engineer who goes to earthquake conferences & wrote a textbook is completely not worried about major damage in the Bay area. He lives on fill in Alameda, too. He's just not worried! And he told us not to worry. Planning is important, and it's good to have water and supplies, but he thinks a New Orleans style mess is unlikely, even in the event of an 8.

        However the levees in the Sacramento River delta are a big problem, and threaten 500,000 people. But we don't live in the delta.

    •  But the most common are fires and floods. (none)
      That's what FEMA says anyway.

      They're the experts!

      •  Didn't we do this already? (none)
      •  Absolutely... (none)
        As we learned when lightning struck our house and it burned(not a total loss but it took us 6 months to rebuild.) We were out for the evening but our dog died from smoke inhalation in the kitchen where she slept. The firemen told us had we been there and gone in to save her we would have been overcome by the smoke and passed out or died too.

        So an alternate evacuation route out of your house in case of fire is most important. Don't they say if the doorknob is really hot don't open the door. Fire extinguishers in case of smaller fires.

        The emphasis needs to be on the disasters that are most likely to happen to us.

        •  Note about saving cats (none)

          A friend of mine rushed into her burning house to save her cats and died.  The firemen told her boyfriend that the cats would probably have found hiding places within the house and survived.  

          It sounds ghoulish, but cats know how to survive dire situations better than humans, and can hide in smaller areas.  

        •  doorknobs & an explosion of fire (none)
          The reason to not open the door if the knob is hot, or if the door itself feels hot:

          If there is fire outside the door, the fire will be using up the available oxygen in the area where it is burning.  The amount of oxygen in that area will already be reduced by the fire.  

          When you open a door into that area, you are connecting a higher-oxygen area (your room) to a lower-oxygen area (the hallway or whatever where the fire is burning).  The fire gets an inrush of oxygen and suddenly burns much hotter, and it flashes into the room you're in so quickly that you don't even see it coming.  Yes, this can kill you, quickly (though not quickly enough that you won't be in terrible agony along the way).  

          So don't even open the door a tiny crack.  Any opening will let your nice fresh oxygen get sucked into the fire, and cause the fire to explode into your room with a ferocious fury.  

  •  Thanks for this and (4.00)
    I have hotlisted so I can read your series.

    Last night I decided I would work on my disaster kit and refresh all supplies so your diaries will be useful for me.

    I am truly worried about an attack on SF while our FEMA pants are down. This morning I dug up an archived article I read last year in SFGate about a nuclear bomb hitting SF and the bomb blast area.  I visited the website it referred to and couldn't find out what the radiation damage would be 25 miles south of the city where I live. It only talked about the damage within a 5 mile area so I have more research to do.

    I am safe from flooding, home on bedrock, I have 25 gallons of water stored but going out today and tomorrow to refresh/stock up on food, batteries, etc.

    Looking forward to your series AG.

    •  CA is much more on the ball than FEMA... (4.00)
      Here is some good info for you:

      CA Plans and Publications.

      but i doubt you'll find any nuclear bomb blast calculations there.

    •  FYI (4.00)
      25 miles south?  It would take a major thermonuke for you to have to worry about radiation from the detonation itself.  Most city-targetted devices are 1 megaton, IIRC, and while that'd be extremely bad news for SF, you'd probably be okay.  (Though if the wind is at all from the north, you'd want to seal your windows and doors and stay inside until the fallout settles.  Especially if it was a surface burst.)  A terrorist nuke would probably be much smaller, though potentially dirtier.

      See this PBS link for a basic intro.

      Proud member of the reality-based minority

      by Bearpaw on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:47:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The most likely west-coast nuke scenario... (4.00) not likely to affect you significantly, IMHO.

      Keep in mind that the SF Bay Area is not a probable target for an improvised or stolen nuclear bomb.  The cargo port in LA is a much more valuable and vulnerable target, and Seattle is perceived as having more symbolic value in certain ways.

      I think I'll leave it at that.  We'll talk about radiological safety in the 2nd and 3rd installments.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:56:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  why would Seattle have more symbolic value? (none)
        I mean, I love Seattle and all and its a fine city, but San Francisco is probably a better known city for a lot of things physical (Golden Gate Bridge, etc), historical (Gold Rush), political (left, very left) and more.

        and frankly... i'm happy seattle would be a better target (I live in SF).. and it would be weird to be insulted that they are :D

        but just curious why they'd be considered so.

        "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

        by wclathe on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:40:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Keep in mind that this is second-hand info (none)
          ...and that it's possibly out of date.

          My understanding is that Seattle is considered a higher-value target for a number of seemingly unrelated reasons:

          • perceived high impact on major American center of commerce (Boeing, Microsoft, etc.)
          • greater vulnerability to a single event due to geography and urban development
          • adjacency to Canadian border, with potential fallout drift (terrorize two countries with one event)

          The problem with SF Bay Area, compared to other areas, is that it's so darned spread out.

          Hope this helps explain my cryptic statement.  As I mentioned above, this threat assessment is a couple of years old and in fact may be completely wrong.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:14:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Other reasons... (none)
            I believe that the military's air transport HQ (MATS?) may still be in the Puget Sound.

            We have McChord Air Force base (where MATS would be if it's still there) near Tacoma.

            When not in Iraq, we have the Stryker Brigade (is the 9th LD still around there, or are they now just at brigade strength?).

            Not too far northwest of Seattle is the Bangor nuclear submarine base.

            Everett has an aircraft carrier base, and north of that, in Oak Harbor I think, is a naval air station.

            All over the region are major amounts of ultra-low-frequency antennas used for communication with our subs around the world.   (I suspect we have similar stuff for picking up lots of signals from various countries too, but don't tell anyone. ;-))

            Nail the Puget Sound effectively, and there isn't much of anything else that can provide for force projection anywhere in the north Pacific on a rapid basis.  (We'd have to probably use carrier groups already assigned to the Gulf and/or near Taiwan.)  That means Korea and Japan become potentially vulnerable very quickly.  (Not to mention Alaska and BC.  ;-))

            If you want a riper target, I suspect San Diego, which appears to have all their military stuff, and a lot more of it than the Puget Sound does, much more concentrated, would be it.

            But if the North Koreans wanted to show just how nasty they can be, sadly, the Puget Sound is a best bang-for-the-buck hit.

            "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

            by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:27:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  picking up signals... (none)

              Re. "(I suspect we have similar stuff for picking up lots of signals from various countries too, but don't tell anyone. ;-)"

              That stuff isn't in Seattle; we don't have to worry about an attack on Seattle putting us in the deaf & dark.  

              SIGINT infrastructure is pretty well dispersed.  And the US & certain allies back each other up very nicely in various parts of the world.  

      • a Seattleite (none)
        I'm dying to know why we have more symbolic value.

        And don't think I haven't thought about this...between the fact that our port is basically downtown, and that I-5 runs right through the city, a short drive from the Canadian border, I've had more than one post-9/11 sleepless night thinking about the possibilities.

        Bush is the Disaster President: Iraq--He Lied & People Died; Katrina--He Clowned Around While People Drowned

        by el ganador on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:00:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Does your analysis of a hit on SF include (none)
        impact of radiation drift over the Central Valley which produces 25% of the nation's food supply?  Because that is where ALL of SF's pollution goes.

        Which minority group would Jesus hate?

        by NorCalJim on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 08:15:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not my analysis, just sharing what I've heard (none)
          I'm out of my league if it comes to making public predictions of nuclear blast effects.

          You make a great point, though.  I suppose it would depend on the amount of fallout, the altitude it reached, the weather, and so forth.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:52:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hit a used bookstore (4.00)
      for a copy of Dean Ing's Pulling Through. Lotsa good nuke-survival tips, including how to make your own radiation detector for free.

      Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?

      by Xan on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:30:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds like more than a few people... (4.00)
      ...are in the midst of reviewing disaster plans or assembling / restocking emergency supply kits. I reviewed mine last week because we live in a hurricane area (east coast, southern virginia) and are also within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant and a bunch of military bases.

      Ditto on worrying about the "what ifs" for possible disasters in the area and lack of govt help if something happened.

      We got hit hard by hurricane Isabel three years ago - nothing even close to the Gulf devastation but still this region ground to a halt for nearly a week. We even had the requisite few idiots looting. No power for 6 days, no city water flow for about 3 days and then under boil alert (at least you could flush then), no way to get gas or ice or make phone calls via landline or cell, and the city was under curfew - i.e. no one on the streets at night. I went to buy ice on day 4 I think it was (1st time you could get any - nobody had any to sell even if you could find a place open) and waited 3 1/2 hours for them to run out before getting anywhere near the front.

      My estimate, you have to be able to survive without outside sources or help for a minimum 5 days. Minimum. (no electricity, gasoline, water, nothing)

      Moved to #1 on the emergency list - an axe in the attic.

      •  Were you hit by the ice storm in 1998? (none)
        Ditto all that with no heat.

        And you couldn't get into your car and drive away either.

        Big ol' fat bummer.

        That's when we realized our fireplace was poorly designed for heating.

        •  We were... (none)
          Some of my co-workers were without power for more than two weeks.

          Temperatures were below zero.

          I however was one of the lucky ones. My power was only off for 8 hours. (I live about 4 blocks from a sub station)

          "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

          by wrights on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 06:56:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ice Storms (none)
            here in OK had people out of power for weeks a couple of years ago.

            Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

            by soonergrunt on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:54:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm in northern new york. (none)
              It rain and froze on for over a week.

              Thinks started breaking eventually.

              I had a sheet of ice on top of my van that was 6 inches thick...

              "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

              by wrights on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 05:20:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, it seemed like a week at the time but (none)
                My memory might need some refreshing.

                I do remember birch trees being bent double, with the tops frozen into the ground. Power lines had about 1 inch sheaths of ice. And when that sheet of ice came off my van, it took my antennas with it..

                My workplace ran on a generator for 1 1/2 weeks.

                Hopefully we won't get one of those again for a while.

                "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

                by wrights on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 05:24:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  They are something to see (none)
                  Imagine the whole world covered in plastic shrink-wrap.  Urinating on your car door just to get the key into the lock.  Watching a car slide over a hundred yards with it's brakelights blinking frantically.  Going into a house to check on the occupants and finding hundreds of burnt down candle stubs.

                  Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

                  by soonergrunt on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 06:32:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Isn't that bad for the paint? (none)
                    Urinating on your car door just to get the key into the lock.  

                    Don't they still make the stuff you can spray into your car lock to defrost & dry it out? I live in Virginia these days, so I don't get much experience with ice storms any more. Which is good, because if I had to pee on my car door, the neighbors would look at me funny.


                    •  I was desperate that day. (none)
                      It's not something of which I make a habit.

                      Besides.  This is Oklahoma City and Norman.  One flake hits this town and everything goes to hell.  People call on the phone "hey man, didn't you grow up in Colorado?"
                      Me:"well, yeah.  Why?"
                      Them:"Can you drive me to the grocery store?  I'm out of food."

                      You could run naked through a snow storm here, and no one would see it, cause their all inside praying.  Not that I'm advocating such, mind you.

                      Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

                      by soonergrunt on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 08:28:01 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Hmmmm..... (none)
                        This could be a useful tactic to consider come the next election cycle.  Declare a snowstorm coming over Election Day...

                        But that would be wrong.  Or at least Rovian.  

                        "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

                        by Palamedes on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:34:28 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

        •  yes...I remember that was at christmas (none)
          it rained, then everything froze and was covered in a thick glaze of ice. Trees were dropping over under their own weight and our cars were entombed in it. Pipes froze, but luckily didn't burst. We lost power for two days, but the grandparents in Williamsburg were out for 8 days. Our house was absolutely freezing, no fireplace, no way to make heat. When its cold like that you can pile all the blankets you want on but you're still cold because you have to breath.
    •  we did the math... (none)
      I have a nuclear bomb effects slide-rule, and in 2001 did the calculations.  

      The most likely terrorist nuke would only be a few kilotons, maybe 5-10 kt.   If they hit the Port of Oakland, it would take out a good bit of the downtown area with blast & fire effects.  

      South Berkeley would get enough of a heat flash that outdoor accumulations of dry stuff (leaves & trash) could catch fire.  You might get pretty nasty flash burns in that area (up to 2nd degree) if you were in line-of-sight of the blast (unlikely).  Also minor damage to buildings is possible.  

      North Berkeley gets off pretty lightly, with minor flash burns if in line of sight (highly unlikely) and little or no risk of outdoor fires.  Little or no damage to buildings, with the possible exception of large areas of plate glass.

      Fallout all depends on which way the wind is blowing.  If you have a basement, stay in it for a couple of weeks and you should be fine.  But of course, the truly shitty cut-corners in construction in California (compared to New England anyway) mean few if any houses have basements, so head for any large public building with lots of good strong concrete between you and the outside world, and preferably a few stories tall or higher to put more concrete (floors) between you & the fallout that settles on the roof.  

      I agree with AG that the Port of Oakland is a less likely target than the port of Los Angeles or Seattle.  Though, good preparedness for most types of emergencies will certainly help in the event of a nuclear attack and it takes little more to add nuke-specific preparations.  

      That being said, nuclear weapons are a minor threat compared to biological agents.  Biologicals can do something nuclear weapons can't: multiply.

  •  Excellent work. (4.00)
    Can't wait to read the remaining two installments.

    Highly recommended.

    Pretzels for the Preznit! Send a bag of your favorite pretzels to the President and tell him to eat a giant handful all at once!

    by Bob Johnson on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:30:47 PM PDT

  •  reminds me of a conversation with my mother (4.00)
    When I bought a house four blocks from the Mississippi in Minneapolis, she was worried about the possibility of flooding.  I had to explain to her that near my house, the Mississippi is in a 100 foot deep canyon, and if it flooded my house, I'd be more concerned about the meteor that struck the Earth to cause it.

    Funny how people think they're safe here, though.  A couple of years ago, forest fires destroyed a number of homes in the 'burbs.  And we get tornados, of course.

    There is an unsubtle difference between breathing fire and blowing smoke.

    by Leggy Starlitz on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:31:24 PM PDT

  •  Another Add (4.00)
    For those of us in the Rocky Mountain West, you have missed one of the most important disasters, forest fires.  I recognize that this may be very different than other disasters (because all you can really do is get out)but for those of us who live in "urban interface" areas this is the only real disaster which could affect us, short of the nuclear terrorism scenario which is just too scary to think about.
    •  There is a whole lot you can do... (none)
      if you live in the urban interface.

      Hopefully we will get some links in parts II and III.

      For a preview, it is August after all, and you shouldn't have waited, go here:

    •  Forest and brush fires (none)
      While it's one of the most common disasters, forest and brush fires usually occur in remote areas and don't result in mass evacuations and refugees that overwhelm emergency services the way an earthquake, levee break or nuke would. For all the destruction in the Southern California fires in 2003, loss of life and property were pretty minimal because of the remote areas. According to this article, 13 people died as of 10/27/2003. The Oakland Hills fire from 1991 is one of the few that occured in a heavily populated area. In either case you wouldn't have had any problem finding food, water or electricity once you evacuated to the city. Disaster preparedness is basically clearing brush around your property and having an escape plan.
      •  And (none)
        where we live, having a "can't escape" plan, as there's only one way out and that could be engulfed.

        Forest fires have a lot more variability in terms of scenarios - fire direction, speed, method of attack, fuels, terrain and lots of other factors. You might have week's notice or more, or just a few minutes or anything in between.

        One other big difference, so far the Forest Service and local fire district have not been "FEMA-ized". At least where I live, I can't say enough good things about fire crews and fire management - we get protected and they keep us well informed.

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:47:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hurricane Ophelia (3.50)
    Has me straight in her cross-hairs. . .

    And we'll all die together when we die
    We'll be French Fried together by and by. . .

    --Tom Lehrer

    •  Whereat? (none)
      Last I saw at NHC they had the same odds on it hitting Savannah SC and Cocoa Beach FL.

      Of course it is never a good sign when the Discussion page there starts off with the line "Ophelia is an exceedingly peculiar cyclone." Even for Avila that's just a teensy bit dramatic. :)

      Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?

      by Xan on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:35:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No no no.... (none)
      I've got my New Orleans-purchased voo doo doll squarely pinned to St. Michaels, MD on my map.

      That way, Dick Cheney could call his old buddies at Halliburton directly and ask them to rebuild his $2.6 M mansion.

      Bypass the middleman whenever you can.

  •  Good Job, AG (none)
    I pent some time this weekend working on this very isue with the hubby. We did drop some $ at the stores, but only in context of the overall plan.

    As an SF resident down near the ocean, I get to worry about both earthquakes AND tsunamis. Wheee!

  •  Time to Start Planning (none)
    After 9/11 they sent out preparedness guides to all DC residents.  I didn't worry about it too much.  This winter I decided I should try and get together a "go" pack, but never finished the task, partly because I started adding up the cost of the recommended supplies, including things like iodine tablets in the event of a dirty bomb, I thought, the government will distribute those in the event of an emergency, why buy.  After watching the government response the past two weeks, I have decided that I do indeed need a "go" pack and to stock the recommended supplies in my office (which is one block from the White House (and my apartment isn't all that far either)) as my office is slated to go to "lockdown" in the event of any attack.    

    "What is hateful to thee, thou shalt not do unto thy neighbor. This is the whole of the Law, the rest is only commentary" Rabbi Hillel

    by modthinglet on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:57:12 PM PDT

    •  Where Would I Find That? (4.00)
      After looking at DC's evacuation plans, I decided this was something my husband and I needed to do.  However, I'm not going anywhere without my cat.
      •  Here you go (none)
        dc emergency guide

        Right there with you regarding the animals.  I was wrong when I said we had done nothing to prepare for a disaster--we used to have only one cat carrier (we have three cats) because we only needed one carrier to go to the vet. We bought two folding cardboard carriers in case we needed to evacuate with all three animals.  The DC guide also explains what you should pack in a pet "go" kit.

        "What is hateful to thee, thou shalt not do unto thy neighbor. This is the whole of the Law, the rest is only commentary" Rabbi Hillel

        by modthinglet on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:29:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sylvester (the Cat) and I Thank You (none)
          I am going to collect some of these things and put them in the trunk of the car.  Chances are that when the big one hits, my husband will have the car in Virginia, but maybe it will help him.

          Sylvester and I will fend for ourselves.

    •  Iodine Tablets (4.00)
      Specifically Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets should be very cheap.

      But that should be about the last thing you spend money on. They do not offer anything like universal protection from fallout. They are mostly good if a nuclear plant melts down in your neighborhood and are likely to be useless against a dirty bomb.

      That said, I have some. Ah well.

      Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

      by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:25:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  REI on Route Seven (none)
      I assume it is still there. Have not lived in DC for a few years. You'll pay a little more for the stuff, but it will last a lifetime.
  •  AG, what do you recommend (4.00)
    When crazed rightwing ideologues take over all branchs of the federal government, loot the national treasury, wreck the environment, and destroy most social services?

    Governor Brian Schweitzer on seeking the presidency; "I'm not half that smart and I'm none too pretty."

    by Ed in Montana on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:57:20 PM PDT

  •  it's times like these (4.00)
    i'm grudgingly grateful to live in the central valley, where aside from flooding (i'm on high enough ground), the only natural disaster we face is terminal boredom.

    crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

    by wu ming on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 01:59:17 PM PDT

    •  Don't Get Too Comfortable (none)
      In California's Central Valley. Today's SF Chronicle reminds us how dangerous those levees are on the Sacramento River Delta. As long as you know you're out of the way of that, okay.

      And I don't want to be you guys in a prolonged drought, sorry. But we're all going down together if global warming reaches a tipping point. I'm in Oakland.

      •  sac levees are a big danger (none)
        but i'm far enough away from the floodplain and on high enough ground that i'd probably just suffer secondary effects as floodwaters messed up regional transportation and trade networks. the valley is wide enough, it'd take a whole lot of water to fill it up. house fires are about the only real potential disaster, and that's usually only a problem if a) the north wind is blowing, and/or b) it's your upwind neighbor's house that's on fire.

        the real global warming threat to the valley is that rising sea levels + increased spring floods (from warmer temps and rain falling on snowmelt) could potentially lead to a failure of the delta levee system, and an infusion of salty seawater into the freshwater network of delta wetlands, leading both to environmental degredation as well as rendering a major source of drinking and irrigation water unusable.

        but of course by that time the bay area would already have serious seawall issues and the climate shift alone might very well dramatically reduce the carrying capacity of the valley. wait and see, i guess.

        crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

        by wu ming on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 12:51:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just in time for Fear of Knowing Day (none)
    excellent diary... thanks

    There ought to be a science of discontent.

    by dreamsign on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:01:06 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Geek (4.00)
    for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I'm a subscriber now and look forward to the rest of the series.

    Here in the desert Southwest the most likely disasters are power outage and floods due to monsoon storms and in the long run, the eventual loss of potable water. Living in a city with a huge airforce base, near an army base and near the Mexican border are other factors for consideration.

    Having lived in the woods like a dirty hippy ; ) for a number of years without power and on my own spring for water I feel pretty confident in my survival skills. I will say though, with the political climate in this country I am actually considering getting firearms training. While my chainsaw and samurai sword can look kinda scary, I think a shotgun just might be more practical and effective.

    Dubya, yer momma may think yer cute, but I sure don't

    by cosmic debris on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:04:10 PM PDT

  •  prolonged blackout (4.00)
    Sorry if this is mentioned elsewhere on the thread, but I'd suggest a prolonged blackout merits inclusion on the list.  In the big eastern blackout two summers ago, we were without power for almost 24 hours.  Nothing like a hurricane or tornado, of course, but I wish I'd planned better.  We had a 1.5 y.o. kid and no milk; no battery-operated radio; both our phones needed electricity...

    Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Hugo Black.

    by Pondite on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:04:32 PM PDT

    •  Related subject - ice storms (none)
      My sister lives in southern Ohio, they had a bad ice storm a couple of years ago.  She was without power for a week.  They had power crews showing up from all over the country to work on the problem, too.
    •  That outage (4.00)
      Prompted me to buy a UPS for my computer, and another for phone equipment.

      I have some compact flourescent lights plugged into them. In the event of a protracted outage there is enough power to shut down the computer, run the lights for 4-5 hours, and my wireless telephone. Also a small portable radio.

      "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines" Steven Wright

      by wrights on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 07:04:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Idea Alpha! (none)
    Will forward to my partner who is the big preparer in my family. Wisconsin has a big enough tornado problem to be concerned. Also my ex just moved back to the area but I guess that's a different story....

    "If you're going through hell, keep going". -Winston Churchill

    by One bite at a time on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:06:15 PM PDT

  •  Just wondering, where is the ski jump? (none)
    Many years ago, I visited Oslo, Norway and saw the olympic ski jumps there and the picture in this diary reminded of that trip. Same place?
  •  Husband's Plan (none)
    My husband and I have put together "grab and go" kits for ourselves and our six cats.  Just the very basics go in these kits.  We have the bulk of our stored stuff about 130 miles away.  We figure that if we can be quick about getting out of Dodge, we'll be able to get into the Appalachians with the rest of our stuff and hunker down.  Of course, getting out of the DC area quickly means that your starting point would be somewhere outside DC to begin with.  Otherwise, gridlock.
    •  Yes, gridlock (none)
      So true.  I guess the best one can do (and I'll have to do this myself depending on where I end up living in the District) is to plan a route by the ways that are less well-travelled.  Such as far NW out in the Palisades or up toward Potomac, I'd bet, I used to drive out there occasionally and the farther west you get, the less traffic.  Other option is to head through SE (there's a parkway, is it the MLK?) and take Route 4 or 5 south, that'd put you in southern MD.  Or one of those handy hidden entrances that lets you zip onto the Rock Creek Parkway, I love those.

      George W Bush puts our security in the hands of incompetents.

      by daria g on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 08:04:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cold-weather disasters (4.00)
    Don't forget the major likely natural disasters in the northern climes... blizzard and ice storm. Staying warm is a big issue during these, when power may go out.

    When your dream comes true, You're out one dream ~ Nerissa Nields

    by redlami on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:12:42 PM PDT

    •  Definitely! (none)
      And don't forget good old wind. I had my power knocked out for four days once by nothing but a wind storm. Some roads were impassable, roofs tore off, some buildings collapsed, and people died.

      Remember, a storm doesn't have to have a name to kill you.

      Somewhere around 2001, Mr. Spock grew a beard.

      by Olds88 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:36:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lovely feeding into the fear (4.00)

    You know, the idea that a terrorist is gonna take you out (hey I live in Kansas) is pretty darn slim.  So, if I'm outta duct tape, well, I guess my time is up, huh.

    We get tornadoes.  My wife gets mad because I stand on the deck and watch the sky-- my reasoning, I'd rather see it coming- and then I'll head to the basement.  

    Don't panic.  It's all gonna be fine.  My view is that we should take all the energy we are individually spending on disaster prep and put it toward getting the Republicans out of office-

    Because Bush's Presidency is the real threat to our country.  Bigger than any hurricane or Al Queda.

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:13:21 PM PDT

    •  You are mostly correct (none)
      However, Big Momma Nature would kick Bush's ass in a Hong Kong nanosecond.  

      It's never a bad idea to be prepared.  

      One thing that is not mentioned so far in this series is the critical importance of keeping a cool head.  People who freak out in emergencies are people who die.  

      In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

      by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:30:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you actually read the material? (none)
      Because it seems like you misunderstood the message.  I say this because you dwell on terrorism, yet I made a special point of putting civil disturbance last on the list of things to consider.

      While I respect your decision not to make more than minimal preparations for the risks you face, I don't agree with your approach.  Best of luck with your plan, such as it is.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:01:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  AG for FEMA Director! (none)
    I took a quiz in a magazine that asked if you should go upstairs, go downstairs, or barricade yourself in the basement in case of a nuclear, biological, or poison gas attack. The answer is different depending on the nature of the attack. Of course I didn't know the answers, and I'm guessing that not many people know such basic information either, thanks to our Security President.

    It's about time we got beyond duck tape! Recommended!


    I just now got home from the store.  I already have a supply of pretty serious stuff leftover from Y2K/9-11 such as gas masks, radiation tablets, MREs, etc.  But today, I decided to bolster that supply with some other stuff - compass, batteries, shovel/pickaxe, plus a mess of water, dried and canned food, TP, dog food, just stuff like that.  The clerk and I got to chatting and I mentioned emergency preparedness.

    The clerk at the store actually said to me "prepared for what?"  And other people in line looked at me like, "yeah... prepared for what?"  After my mouth dropped, I asked her, "have you been WATCHING the news lately?!"  She said "nothing like that could ever happen here" (Portland, Oregon) and "if something like that did happen, all the canned food in the world wouldn't help you anyway."  

    I drove home saying, "I am NOT a total idiot, I am NOT a total idiot, I am NOT a total idiot..."

    Thank you SO MUCH for confirming that I AM NOT A TOTAL IDIOT!!!!!  LOL!

    And my tombstone will read: "It Made Sense At The Time."

    by AmyVVV on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:15:57 PM PDT

    •  Never say never! (none)
      I guess these people have never heard of the Columbus Day Storm.

      The Portland area has had its share of wind, ice and  snow storms. And flooding! About ten years ago the Willamette River rose after early warm rains melted snow pack. Areas of downtown Portland flooded, including the lower levels of the building I was then working at. IIRC, Oregon City, Lake Oswego and Tualatin also flooded.

      Disasters need not be neighborhood or community wide . My family has been without power numerous times and without water once, for a few days. Going without power, well we managed, but not having clean water was another story. Just miserable.

    •  You are not an idiot! (none)
      If all else goes down the tank, if you can get a little height on them, lob those cans off the balcony.  Not as good as dogs, but less upkeep, and you can retrieve them and make dinner.

      Who thought civil defense would be left to the civilians?

      by gazingoffsouthward on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 09:55:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  La Palma (none)
    I live in New York or Boston or Portland or somewhere in there, and the biggest risk we supposedly have is the collapse of La Palma causing a huge tsunami.  I've read things that say this is an eventual sure thing but also things that have said it's a load of poopola.  Whom to believe?
  •  Earthquake Pediction... (4.00)
    If you haven't already, you might also want to link to this site.  This site provides "a time-dependent map giving the probability of strong shaking at any location in California within the next 24-hours".  This site shows recently recorded earthquake activity by location and magnitude in CA and NV, although this site provides similar information for the entire globe.  Lastly, this site provides information on the potential for a tsunami.

    Frankly, I worry more about the impact of a strong or greater 'quake on the Pacific Northwest or along the New Madrid fault in the Mississippi Valley than I do about one in California (and as a Southern California resident I've lived through my share).

    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. - T. Roosevelt

    by ranger31 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:23:16 PM PDT

    •  Aftershocks (none)
      The thing about that site is that it is mainly useful for estimating the risk of aftershock. That means that its really only useful after a major earthquake, assuming that you've got some sort of power source for your computer and communications equipment, and still have working internet access.
      •  That's true, but... (none)
        there is always the possibility that the initial shock was a foreshock to a larger seismic event.  Another thing to remember is that when we talk about faults, we should really be talking about fault systems;  therefore, the pressure released when one portion of a fault (or another fault in the system) "breaks" may increase the probability of an earthquake in another portion.  I believe that data is factored into their probability determination.

        Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. - T. Roosevelt

        by ranger31 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:51:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  so bizarre (4.00)
    just about three weekends ago, for no apparent reason, i just felt the need to sit down and think about this exact type of thing for myself--even made a list of the few things i don't have, but could need (like those current, detailed road-maps!)

    after i made my list, i realized that 90% of the stuff was already around my house someplace, i just needed to stick it all together in one spot...

    thinking about this, actually made me feel more CALM, rather than paranoid or in a panic.

    i don't think it is crazy to admit that we seem to be on our own, in case anything happens where we live--no one is coming to "save" you, you will have to be able to take care of yourself, help your neighbors, and walk out if need be.

    probably the most useful thing us urban folk can do, is establish stronger community relationships with our neighbors, so we'll be more ready to help one another if anything happens.

    •  Right on so many points (none)
      The point of having a plan is to reduce uncertainty, and therefore reduce stress and fear.  Risks are like the demons of myth; once you bring them into the light, and call them by their true names, they are weakened and controllable.

      You make important points about community and neighbors.  In a major disaster, you get to know your neighbors pretty damn quick.  Better to get to know them under less stressful conditions first.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:06:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think your topic is important! (4.00)
    I have long suspected that conceptual differences in making risk assessments plays a big role in distinguishing progressives from wingnuts.

    Humans are generally poor at making intuitive risk assessments (there is scientific evidence that bias and error may be wired into our brain), but wingnuts seem particularly afflicted.

    This leads to some rank speculations:

    1. Progressives weigh more categories of risks (including as yet unexperienced and abstract ones) and know that they should at least try to weigh them fairly.

    2. Sheeple can't perceive any risk until they actually experience it. Then it becomes the only risk they CAN see. Witness our 'fall down, go bump' president.

    3. Wingnut manipulators understand this and exploit it by serially hyping one fear after another. They herd the sheeple so they are always at least one irrational fear ahead of pursuing reason.

    Suggestion: When you finish with the primer on risk assessment, this might make an interesting diary topic.

    Maturity - Doing what you know is right even though you were told to do it.

    by grapes on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:26:55 PM PDT

    •  Interesting points (none)
      Although, I must say, emergency-management professionals are an eclectic bunch, politically speaking.

      Worth considering as a future topic.  Thanks for the comment.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:08:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question on Water (none)
    Are you all buying plastic jugs full of water? Is that safe to store for a long period of time? What are the other options?
    •  I'll cover this on Monday (none)
      The short form is that store-bought bottled water is only good for a year at most.  It's also relatively expensive compared to other alternatives.

      If you go through a lot of bottled water, then increasing your stocks so that you always have a full case on hand in addition to an open one is a good starting point.  That ensures that you're not leaving it sitting around to go bad.

      More on this Monday.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:36:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bathtubs & Sinks (none)
        If you have warnings and you plan to stay in your house, fill up every sink and bathtub with water. If I had not done this during Andrew things would have been a lot worse (I was in Baton Rouge).
        •  Your hot water tank (4.00)
          should always be full as well.  If your in an apartment or have a tankless heater you may be out of luck.  You can use the drain valve on the tank to get the water, you may want to shut off the incoming water to the tank-  incoming water may not be trustworthy.  Get to know how to do this beforehand.
      •  My wife and I fill water bottles from the tap... (none)
        for our "earthquake kits" and replace/refresh the water every 6-months or so.  We also drink a lot of bottled water, and almost always have a case (or 3) from Costco in the garage as well as each car.

        Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. - T. Roosevelt

        by ranger31 on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:54:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hunting shops sell good purification kits (none)
        When I went to Cuba, I took a small light purification kit.  It allowed us to both cook and drink without concern for 3 weeks and counting.  When I left, I left it with a Cuban family who were amazed that I was able to drink the water without getting dysentary.

        The ability to turn bad water into potable water is much more efficient than trying to carry a lot of water around and it's a lot less expensive in the long run.

  •  Hmmmmm............ (none)
    I wonder......
    Would the Bush Madministration be considered a natural or unnatural disaster?
    Either way, we sure coulda used SOME kinda preparation for it.....
  •  I wrote a diary about this last week (4.00)

    But I have NO survival experience and my husband, ex-fireman, has no concern about anything like this.  I live in a pretty safe area, generally, but there may still be things that could incapacitate us.

    The planning stages were great advice, but I am not that great a planner.  What I really need is a list of things to buy for survival.  Not just "canned foods" but specific canned foods.  I was thinking corn, tomatoes, spam (?!?), pasta, rice, which can be boiled.  I have a huge lake down the street, a brook in the back, lots of deer and animals if I had to shoot an animal to survive, I have a wood-burning stove and access to lots of wood, but I know I am missing about 1000 things.  I don't even have a working flashlight, or candles around.  I need to start stocking up on this stuff.  

    And how long should one prepare to be without food/water/supplies??  The 60 gallons someone mentioned in his/her backyard is a great start, but if one is in a hot area, that won't last long.  When you do this part, could you give specifics please??

    Thank you very, very much for doing this.

    "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

    by adigal on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:36:06 PM PDT

    •  Will do (4.00)
      I'll cover all of those topics and more.

      Regarding how long one should be self-sufficient: it depends somewhat on your personal circumstances, but my basic recommendation is 5 days of fixed-location supplies and 3 days of portable supplies.

      Assuming access to water suitable for purification, those supplies could be stretched to cover 12+ days without endangering your health.  The hard part is knowing when to go to reduced-calorie rationing.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:44:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Since you're probably onto ... (4.00) IV and V by now, might I suggest another thing to include - the value of practice drills? Even if it's just you and your significant other, running through a scenario or two can pay off when the real event occurs. For one thing, you're less likely to leave your insulin behind.

        Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:45:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, definitely (none)
          And you're right, I might need to expand this into a 4 or 5 part series.


          You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

          by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:11:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Resources (4.00)
      Based on where you live, with all the resources you have, two good books are The Sierra Club Wilderness Handbook and the Complete Walker III. In the Complete Walker there is actually a long chapter called a "House on Your Back." If I was stuck in the middle of nowhere I would want a copy of this book.
  •  Thank You, AG. (none)

    We've been "fixin' to" convert our take-and-go earthquake pack to a hurricane pack, now that we're not in California anymore. I think the time is this weekend for us.

    My girlfriend and I do notice the hurricane evacuation signs in our area, and I know that I've made mental notes about the freeway inland routes, should a hurricane or industrial accident hit our area. I know how to get to Houston or Dallas (via Lufkin), but your diary has inspired me to make more detailed plans. Thanks again. Soup for you!

    Ari Mistral

    "Nature has laid [New Orleans] waste - with a scope that brings to mind the end of Pompeii." - Anne Rice

    by Ari Mistral on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 02:37:27 PM PDT

  •  a free plug (none)
    I'm looking to start a business soon and just determined to my chagrin that has already been thought of.. owned by bailoutbags so here's a free plug for them.

    thanks for this diary, AG, I'm looking forward to the rest.

  •  might i add (4.00)
    a copy of a Boy Scout Field Guide.

    It's what the old manual used to be.  Has things like digging a shithole, knots, edible fruits, how to treat wounds, starting fires, cooking in the wilderness etc.

    The best all around wilderness survival guide for the layman I've ever seen.

    The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"

    by Love and Death on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:00:33 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (4.00)
    A couple more items for your list:

    • blizzards
    • blackouts/brownouts - powergrid failure

    Fools rush in where fools have been before.

    by Marcus Junius Brutus on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:02:33 PM PDT

  •  CNN (none)
    has filed suit in court to thwart any attempts to restrain their coverage of the recovery efforts in NOLA.

    No link; I heard it live...

  •  Disaster relief according to Bush (4.00)

    Use American taxpayers' money to rebuild our country - not Iraq.

    by Sharon Jumper on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:13:23 PM PDT

  •  AG, thanks -- this is seriously good information (none)
    4, 4, 4, 4, 4, and more 4s for you.

    I've never looked at my neighborhood, city, or region as what-if zones, but in the future I'll try to look at them from a new perspective.

    I'm also glad that you've addressed some of the psychological issues behind preparedness. When I've seen this topic brought up here recently, I've noticed two trends -- one toward fatalism (when it's time to go, it's time to go), and the other toward being labeled as crazy if you think about (or prepare for) a potential problem. For the latter, here's a thought: How much work have you put into projects in your workplace? Into planning a family gathering? Into researching a vacation, or a purchase? Okay, then. How about putting a little thought into how to save your life? As I've said in another diary, preparedness is preparedness; paranoia is preparing because you think something's out to get you. Be prepared, not paranoid.

    Will you be including a reading list, as well as a recommended purchases list? (My DH has been lurking on the survival forum at, and strange packages are beginning to come to the house.)

    AG, thank you in advance for the remainder of this series. And kudos for your clear writing and thinking.

    •  Reading list (none)
      Yes, I'll be identifying some books that could be useful.  Ditto for websites and downloadable PDF files.

      I will note here, however, that I am keeping this sharply focused on practical disaster preparedness for everyday living.  I will not be covering wilderness survival or how to build a self-sustaining commune.  :)


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 10:16:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think we need to think about (none)
    becoming very very physically fit..I used to be able to outrun anyone on a soccer field..but now...well..let's just say..I fibbed on my driver's license..
    •  it's not a "spare tire"... (none)
      ...around my belly, it's a completely portable, post-apocalypse, survical mechanism.  ;-)
    •  Quitting smoking (none)
      is the best disaster preparedness you could do.

      I was amazed at the footage of the guy wading through the oil slicked water in New Orleans, casually smoking a cigarette.

      And I thought to myself:

      How did he keep his lighter/matches and cigarettes so dry?

      What would happen if a hot ash were to hit one of those oil slicks or natural gas bubbles?

      What's he gonna do when he runs out of his nicotine source?

  •  Need to add Nuclear Accident to disaster list (4.00)
    There are many locations across America that have a Nuclear power plan where a Three Mile Island accident could be our disaster scenarios.

    This needs to be addressed as part of the scenarios.

  •  Disease (none)
    This is absolutely a great job, AG.

    I'd also add disease --- eg, avian flu or other flu pandemic, as discussed on DeminCT's Flu Wiki (which I don't have a handy link to).

    Also for some of us, we need to be prepared to protect against bugs, rodents, etc., as secondary disaster or ??? --- in times of disaster, people in buggy areas --- places with heavy tick infestations, mosquitoes, etc. (like here!) --- really need good bug repellent AND treatments. !

    For example, in addition to the usual diseases spred by these critters, other diseases are transmitted by them. My sister got a staph infection from a wasp sting last year and a friend's husband got MRSA, which they suspect was transmitted by an insect bite. For real. !

  •  I am in earthquake, fire and tsunami country (none)
    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has frequently published their survival guide poster, probably still available - it's pretty good for keeping your plan up to date.  

    Many people store their emergency water, food and clothing in the house or garage.  Just make sure your storage spot would be accessible in your most relevant situations, like structural failure, flood, etc.

    Because of our earthquake risk, we have clothing, food and water in our travel trailer outside.  Our attached garage is perhaps the most structurally weak part of the home.

    Katrina should wake people up to the fact that we are sadly on our own in the face of regional disaster.    

  •  One point of contention (4.00)
    I liked this diary a lot, but I did not like this point:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a list of as many disaster risks as you can think of.  Get your significant other or your kids involved, and make it a competitive event.  Be lenient, at first, when considering whether something is a likely risk.  Be sure to include all of the places where you might find yourself when disaster strikes -- home, work, school, church, shopping, and so forth.

    I think that's bordering on paranoia a la "duct tape and plastic sheeting."  If I'd been 10 years old and my parents had told me to make a competition of "what kind of disasters could strike us, and where?" I'd have had nightmares every night for the next year and a half.  Kids are impressionable.  I think it's smart to quietly and thoroughly go over stuff with your significant other, like "okay, we have bottled water and canned food, and here's a list of emergency phone numbers, etc., etc., etc."  Let the kids know where the canned food and water is.  Let them know where the local emergency shelter is.  But for goodness' sake, PLEASE don't have a talk with your kids about "now this is what we'll do if there's an earthquake, and this is what we'll do if terrorists strike, and this is what we'll do if there's a hurricane -- and gee, look at all these bad things that could happen!

    I wouldn't take my kids to see any of those "real-life horror" movies like The Day After Tomorrow (or especially the current wave of "airline terror" movies that seems to be all over theaters) for the same reason.  I don't think we should be raising the next generation of Democrats to be paranoiacs.  I wouldn't want my kids to be sitting at their desks at school, fearing for their lives all day.  Let kids be kids, please.  It's a lot safer to be a kid today than it used to be (just think of youth mortality rates), believe it or not.

    So, yeah, I don't accept this mission.  Sorry.  Otherwise I liked your analysis a lot, AG.

    •  You speculate as to (4.00)
      what you might have felt....and so deny your children the right to not be terrified if a disaster does encroach upon their blissful child lives.
      We live in a very different time now than ever before.
      Please, please, without upseting your children, make a plan for being together in the event of a civic or natural disaster emergency.  You don't have to give them details, you don't have to have them visualize dead bodies.  All my parents told me was that we were practicing a plan to keep us all together, if we needed to find each other in a hurry.  Of course the burden was on mom.  We went to a place, she would be there. We had an alternate place, with a different person to meet, if mom didn't show up (because she got a flat tire or ran out of gas....not because she was dead or anything like that. )
      What it did for me as a 6 year old was to give me confidance that I would be found if there was a big hurricane or something.  
      Please don't fool yourself and undermine your children by thinking that they don't know what's going on. The do. Making a plan will make their "childhood time" free from worry about what to do "if...." . They know. No matter what you think, they do. Deal with it, please.

      I'ts too wet to work. Let's buy a DVD.

      by emmasnacker on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:53:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  See, I'm one of the weird ones (none)
        We live in a very different time now than ever before.

        I'm one of the people who argues that this really isn't the case.  Yes, there is the potential for terrorist attacks, but we don't have the Soviets anymore.  Natural disasters?  I was considering being a geosciences major in college, and one of the things I learned in my "natural disasters survey course" was that in past geological epochs, there were volcanic eruption in Washington that dwarfed Mt. St. Helens, earthquakes that wiped entire species out, and I'm willing to speculate that there were hurricanes like Katrina, too.

        And think about all the risks our kids don't face.  If you were a kid in New York before 1900, you faced the risk of getting attacked by an angry pig on the streets.  Not to mention all the childhood diseases: now our kids don't even have to get chicken pox, for goodness' sake.  When my mother was younger, her biggest fear was being captured by the Mafia, since when she was growing up in New Jersey the mob had a much higher profile than it does now.  Read anything by Caleb Carr or Kevin Baker -- in years past, it was a lot more dangerous to be young.

        What I really meant in my original post is that kids do understand that there's danger out there, and that it might not be the best idea to accentuate it.  I grew up in New York in the 1980s, when you still couldn't take a kid under 10 to Times Square.  (Say what you want about Rudy Giuliani, but I give him a lot of credit for making New York a hell of a lot safer.)  I knew that it was dangerous, but things were all right.  We lived in an apartment in a safe neighborhood.  My parents never went through any "safety drills," for the precise reason that they didn't want me to be constantly living in fear.  The more important part is that they ALWAYS knew where I was.  If I was at a friend's house, they had the telephone number of the friend's parents.  If I was at school, we had set evacuation policies ("fire drills" sound so much tamer than "civic disaster drills").  Then there were smaller things, like the fact that they got to know the neighbors and even some local cops, and introduced me to them so that I knew them by name.  I was taught a few words of Spanish in the event that I'd have to use it (a lot of Dominicans in our neighborhood).  

        I think that making sure you always know where your kids are, making sure your kids always know where you are, and going over the little stuff (i.e. emergency phone numbers, "uh-oh, you swallowed that?  here's what you call," etc.) will leave a kid feeling much more secure than if there's a fancily-orchestrated "disaster drill" with specifications for a terrorist attack, a nuclear disaster, and a Category 5 hurricane.  Sesame Street videos help, too -- I wasn't allowed to watch TV when I was younger, but my younger brother was, and he thought all the fire safety stuff was so cool that he ran around telling all my friends about it, to my embarassment.  Then the kid started listening to Car Talk and ended up jump-starting my car when he was 13.  My point there is that, from a young age, kids are able to absorb this stuff on their own.

        One thing my parents did do is applied emergency preparedness techniques to "friendly" disasters -- i.e. "that canned food and bottled water is in case we get an even bigger blizzard this year," or "in case the power goes out for a while."  For some reason, kids think snowstorms and blackouts are cool, probably because they happen frequently on a smaller scale and generally all they mean is that school gets cancelled.

        On a closing note, my mother used to see all those "missing children" headlines on TV and asked my father, a former FBI/DOJ employee in the pre-Ashcroft days, why kidnapping rates were so much higher than they were.  His response: "They aren't.  We just hear about it more."  I'd have to agree; I don't think things are as different as they are.  We face different threats, and all of us are constantly at risk, but I wouldn't argue that it's any more so than it was in 1850 (pigs will attack your kids!), 1900 (serial killers!  everywhere!), or 1950 (COMMUNISTS!)

        •  Not so weird! (none)
          My brothers favorite example of "we just hear about it more" is shark attacks. Sharks have always eaten people. We just hear about it more.

          Glad to read that you indeed do have some plans with the kids.  Just got the impression from your first post that you lived in la-la land.

          Of course we don't want to scare the kids. Just make sure they feel secure.

          I'ts too wet to work. Let's buy a DVD.

          by emmasnacker on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 08:39:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Teach your children (4.00)
      When I was in school in the 1950s/60s, we spent time under our desks fearing for our lives and brought home pamphlets about building fallout shelters in our basements. Look how well my generation turned out.

      I'm kind of ambivalent - I share your attitude to some extent, but on the other hand, your kids already do fire drills at school and if they've flown they've been through the pre-flight stuff about seat belts, oxygen masks and emergency exits.

      The one thing I'd suggest is take your kids camping, or even better, backpacking. It has a host of other benefits (besides just being fun), but in the current context it teaches you skills about survival and survival technologies in a very non-threatening way. And all the camping gear is useful survival stuff in a lot of cases.

      We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

      by badger on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:12:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Risk assessment is a learned skill (none)
      I agree that there are better ways and worse ways to present children with the possibility of disaster. (My own childhood fear was that a nuclear bomb would go off, and I'd die on a school bus with people I couldn't stand.)

      But... as parents we have to address the scary stuff, from the minor to the major. Strangers offering candy. AIDS. The dangers of matches and sharp objects. Being aware of potential risks is something that can be learned and refined, but it should start early. Maybe AG's suggestions could be turned into games -- guess this route number, count the bridges, memorize phone numbers (including emergency numbers) for small prizes. Think of this as training your child to be observant rather than paranoid.

      Maybe this topic -- rearing children to be prepared and politically aware -- needs a diary.

    •  One of the things I began doing with my son (none)
      when he was two was quizzing him on who lived in what house in our neighborhood.  

      Who lives across the street?

        - Charlie and Ethyl.

      Who lives next door?

        - Jose and Maria.

      Who lives in the house with the tree in front?

        - Nancy.

      and so on.  He's met all the neighbors.

      When he was three, we began practicing how to say our address along with his name.  

      When he was four, we went over the steps for how to get out of the house, where to meet and what to do if he had to leave all by himself and get help (go to the aforementioned houses...)  We went over how to use the phone to call 9-1-1.  Etc...

      At pre-school, they went through a fire drill.  Sesame Street/Elmo puts out a very effective video on what to do in a fire.  "Elmo Goes to the Firehouse."  I believe it was produced in response to 9/11.  It featured a fire in Mr. Hooper's store while Elmo was there for lunch.

      Now that my son is five, he can take greater responsibility for his personal safety.  The electricity went out a couple of weeks ago and he helped me find the flashlight and kept his younger brother from panicking.

    •  The difference a word makes (none)
      Permit me to quote some of my text with one word emphasized:

      Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a list of as many disaster risks as you can think of.  Get your significant other OR your kids involved, and make it a competitive event.

      Note that the word is not "and".  Perhaps I could have used the construct "and/or" for clarity.

      Please keep in mind that this is a Diary, not a book.  I recognize that I could have been painfully clear regarding what is or isn't appropriate to discuss with your kids -- but that's not my call to make, it's yours.

      Only you can gauge what level of participation in this process is appropriate for your children.  I think perhaps you read a bit more into the text than was actually there, as I certainly didn't suggest that scaring the crap out of your kids was an effective planning practice.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:21:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (none)
      When I was in elementary school, and we saw a film on how to get out if our house was on fire, I got worried, not about a fire (the film told me how to get out, after all; those were easy instructions to follow) but because I thought my parents were not trained in how to act if there was a fire. They didn't want to discuss it so I assumed I would be the only one to survive...

      In my experience, kids get worried when there isn't a plan. As I recall, I wasn't scared of tornadoes (if one came, I knew I should get in this spot in the center hall, with the dog, and stay there) but I was fairly worried about being attacked by wolverines, because I had no plan to fight them off.

      •  emotions are contagious (none)

        Emotional states are conveyed among humans with a degree of speed and specificity that is truly amazing: often in an instant and entirely without conscious awareness.

        If your kids read "fear" in you, they'll pick it up.  Even if you're not aware of it.  

        If your kids read "confidence" in you, ditto.  

        Trying to convey one thing when you're actually feeling something else, only causes others to perceive that you're "not congruent," i.e. not being truthful with yourself or them.  

        So the first thing on the agenda is to develop in yourself the attitude that emergency planning is as mundane and ordinary as any other household chore.  For example, think of your attitude toward vacuuming or paying the bills, and practice putting yourself in that state of mind when you're doing emergency preparedness.  After a while it becomes routine.

  •  Wonderful. Thank you (none)
    I do worry about urban dwellers, with children.
    When I was a girl (boooooring.....) the school system had a day where we all made plans with mom, and at the sound of the bell, I met my brother at the appointed spot, and we walked the route we had made a plan with mother to walk, and she had set out from the house at bell ringing time, and we met ....where we had met the day we practiced the walk as a family, during our practice for the drill.  Dad had us pretend to throw heavy things through our bedroom windows too, Then climb out the windows, during our couple of fire drills when bro and I were about 6 and 7 too.... it! Make a plan.
    Thanks AG.

    I'ts too wet to work. Let's buy a DVD.

    by emmasnacker on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:36:59 PM PDT

  •  Next disaster is just around the corner. (4.00)
    I earlier read an article projecting a 40% increase the the price of heating oil and 16-13% increases in gas and electricity. How many low income families and seniors will be sacrificed by the current administration before someone intervenes on their behalf? Or will the DEMS take a pro-active approach before people start freezing to death? The time to intervene is now!
  •  Not to toot horns, but.... (4.00)
    Here is a spot to check out from the Flu Wiki (of which a few items are my doing, he said humbly...)

    I suspect that, at least with respect to the preparation guides, there is a fair amount of correlation with what AlphaGeek is and will be doing.

    "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

    by Palamedes on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 03:55:43 PM PDT

  •  industrial accident risks (4.00)
    I help to maintain a site called RTK Net (, that provides free access to databases about large polluters, facilities that might have toxic chemical release accidents or explosions, etc.

    We also just put together a page listing the major known industrial toxic chemical sites in New Orleans, for the use of people responding to the flood.  It's at

    •  I live close to the train tracks and the Beltway (none)
      I worry about chemical spills more than just about anything else.

      They happen suddenly and the evacuation is mandatory and immediate.  You often do not have time to take anything with you.

  •  Ecology of Fear (4.00)
    by Mike Davis is recommended reading.

    "If you're not complaining, you're not paying attention."--My grandfather

    by JackAshe on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:04:41 PM PDT

    •  comment (4.00)
      Great book.  Katrina is of terribly real, but the way this society creates imaginary fears and in general feeds its own fear monster is pretty fucking worrisome.  

      Here's a homework question:
      If your chance of dying in a car accident over the next 10 years=
      3 in 1,000 (Not to mention the risk of global warming).

      And your chance of being killed by lightning within the next year = Less than 1 in 1,000,000.

      And your chance of dying in a terrorist attack or natural disater within the next year is about the same...then...

      How do you minimize your risk in the most rational and cost effective way?  Take the bus!  

      Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho Marx

      by markymarx on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 06:55:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Information AG! (none)
    I have to say though it really is somewhat depressing. I mean, we are all yacking here on disater preparedness but also of doom and gloom violence and how to protect oneself against the bad guys. I guess I just never thought I would be living in this kind of world.

    The more understanding one posesses, the less there is to say and the more there is to do.

    by Alohaleezy on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:06:19 PM PDT

  •  risk assessmernt (4.00)
    not mentioned: COLD weather-related--like ice storms, blizzards. prolonged bitter cold, high wind chill (can you guess I'm from Minnesota?)
  •  Earthquake Country (4.00)
    I have been in two major earthquakes in the San Fernando Valley, 1971 and 1994.  In the case of the 1994 Northridge quake, we were about two miles from the epicenter, and sustained considerable damage to our home. Let me suggest some additional items you may need.

    1. A good cresent wrench.  After an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane, there is a very good chance you or your neighbor will have a gas leak.  Know where your shut-off is, and get the neighbor's gas shut off as well.

    2.  A propane gas barbeque.  Yep, we were without gas for days, but never missed a meal, because we had a gas BBQ and an extra tank of propane.

    3.  Thinking about a spa?  Do it.  It provides a great source of water for toliets that won't flush, washing clothes and bodies, ect.  If you don't own a spa, and can't afford it, try half filling up a 55 gallon trash can.  Refresh every month or so.  Note, this is not for drinking, except in dire emergency.  You should have at least 5 gallons of fresh bottled water on hand.

    4.  Get in the habit of keeping your gas tank at least half full.  It may be a pain in the ass, but in the case of an emergency evacuation, the first one out of town survives, and gas may not be readily available.  As an alternative, keep a couple of 5 gallon cans on hand.

    5.  Get to know your neighbors.  It helps a lot to know folks by first names when you are trying to shut off gas valves, check on the elerly and/or disabled, or put out a fire.

    6.  If you have pets, have an evacuation plan in place for them as well.  Cat carriers, leashes, dry food should all be readily accessible.    
    •  Alpha Geek (none)
      I learned that LA is at a much higher quake risk than I thought ( used to live in Berkeley, and thought the risk would be lower down here).

      I guess my biggest worries about a big quake in LA are the fire risk (like the 1906 quake) and dam failure (aren't there reserviors all arouind the city?)

      Any info/insight on these?

      Thanks for a great diary!

  •  another prep idea (4.00)
    I just finished reading "Deep Survival," by Gonzales.  It has no lists or advisories; it's a trip into the psyche to understand who survives and who doesn't.  It helps one understand those stories of deaths that leave us saying "What was he/she THINKING?"  They weren't, and Gonzales explains the mental reasons why not.  It left me thinking about the "emotional bookmarks" that have governed some of my actions in critical situations, and how to ensure that my children have a useful set of emotional bookmarks, positive and negative, before I send them off on their own.  The issue is a powerful one in my family, as I have an 83-year-old uncle that got lost in the woods last fall -- and survived for three days.  He's not your typical 83-year-old, obviously, but even 35-year-olds have died in similar circumstances.  Reading the book, we discovered how many things he did right, and we hope to emulate them in similar circumstances.
    •  additional info (none)
      ...for those who may see this even at this late hour or beyond.  Reading what I wrote, I see room for confusion in interpretation.  My uncle survived.  He walked out after three days, surprising his rescuers.  They weren't calling for him anymore; it was a recovery operation in their minds.  So when the clouds/mist lifted enough to let him figure out directions, he just walked out.  He had been sucking moisture off pine boughs and had slept in a burrow he dug into the roots of a tree.  He tossed pennies.  Argued and bargained with God.  Refused to accept a bad outcome.  Made plans and executed them.  May we all do half as well.
  •  Program ICE into your cellphone (4.00)
    I n
    C ase
    E mergency

    If you are incapacitated Emergency responders look for this and will call a, preferably out-of-state, relative.  

    This person should be far enough so as not to be caught up in the Disaster.  

    For most of you that would be Canada <snark>.

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.--Philip K. Dick

    by Randomizer on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:24:48 PM PDT

  •  I wanted to add... (4.00)
    ...that the SAS Survival handbooks by John 'Lofty' Wiseman are well worth purchasing. Great info and in-depth explanations and solutions to all sorts of crises.

    Image hosted by
    Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publisher.

    Fools rush in where fools have been before.

    by Marcus Junius Brutus on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:25:51 PM PDT

  •  Excellent, thank you (none)
    Looking forward to the rest.  I have to admit, after watching TV coverage last week, I went out and stockpiled bottled water.  But can only store it in my apartment, as the evil management company won't let us put anything in our garage areas.

    "We can only reach the dream if we are all together - black and white, gay and straight, man and woman." ~ Howard Dean

    by Nancy in LA on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:28:01 PM PDT

    •  it would be stolen from garage anyway (none)

      If you kept a stockpile of anything in a garage, assuming it's the usual type of apartment garage with an open floorplan, it would be stolen either routinely or in the first hours of a disaster.

      Safer & better to keep the stuff in your apartment.  

  •  Don't forget (none)
    a Chernobyl style disaster if you live near a nuclear power plant.
    •  Actually, no (none)
      The US uses Boiling Water Reactors and Pressurized Water Reactors.  These are very different from the type of nuclear reactor that melted down at Chernobyl.

      We do not use the graphite-moderated, water-cooled reactors of the type used at Chernobyl.  The failure mode of these reactors, especially when coupled with the typically half-assed Russian approach to safety, is so much worse than US reactor designs that they're not even in the same class.

      We also have a highly regulated, extremely safe nuclear power industry.  How many people died because of the emergency pressure release at TMI?  Hint: none.

      For what it's worth, the TMI incident was ultimately attributed to the user interface of the operator's console being so badly designed that it seemed intended to cause errors.

      That said, if you live within a certain radius of a nuclear power plant, they are legally obligated to provide you with information regarding emergency procedures.  It would be a good idea to pay attention to that information and plan accordingly.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:39:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Help the helpers. (none)
    I just wrote suggesting that my municipality front-page this Ottawa , Canada Emergency Preparedness stuff.  It is burried way-too-many clicks down.  Hope they don't get Kosdotted.

    I will probably send them constructive criticism based on this diary series.

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.--Philip K. Dick

    by Randomizer on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 04:30:25 PM PDT

  •  We had a mini disaster late last year (4.00)
    Just before X-mas we had the most severe ice storm there had been in most peoples memories here in Central Ohio.

    Incredible damage to power lines, trees, houses all that kind of thing due ot the weight of the ice.

    I had tress literally bent in half.

    It took fully 9 days to restore power to everyone, we got ours back in 6 days.

    During those 6 days we had no heat, even though we have gas because the blower and electronics for it require power.

    No light and it got dark very early.

    No refrigeration

    and we couldnt go anywhere because the roads where closed due ot fallen tress.

    Simply all kinds of problems you wouldn't foresee.

    We kept warm by wrapping in a million layers and sleeping in them, and we were lucky enough to have a gas stove we could light for stove top cooking and a little heating.

    We kept our food in a cooler outside to keep it frozen/fresh.

    By day 2 1/2 batteries we all dead - we had no TV or radio at this point save for the car.

    Let me tell you our local response was pathetic. SLOW. There was ZERO information on local radio stations, no clue about TV we didnt have power. It was highly disturbing.

    Eventually they cleared the roads and we got out and went to families and when we retuned the power was on.

    So i guess real bad winter weather and tornados are our biggest threat, perhaps some local river flooding.

    I live in a place with poor access, only one road - a small country road in and out.

    that is my biggest problem to be honest - if it gets real bad you simply can't drive out - and it would be a long walk to "civillization"

    Since then I bought a wind up radio and flashlight so we dont have to worry about batteries

    And before long I will be buying a portable generator so we can at least run heat and a few other things.

    We already have firearms in the house  - so i am ready for civil insurrection heh.

    But great diary for those that havent experienced a major problem to get folks to think about it a little.

    •  Small world (none)
      I was there with the wife and kids visiting my parents in the Brecksville area when all of that happened.  We got hit with a few multi-hour power outages, but nothing like what you endured.

      Thanks for the comment.  I think a lot of people are taking a sober look at just how ready they are to deal with situations like this, and hearing about experiences like yours makes it real for them.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:43:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A few more (4.00)
    I could cry already at the thought of missing the community! Here are some random ideas in haste, based on years of experience:

    Take the Red Cross free training in emergency preparedness. They do a good presentation on how to plan, how to pack a "Go Bag."

    It is a "Red Cross Fact" that in a crisis we humans can only access about 20% of our brain. Let everybody know this fact. It's why drill and repetition are needed. You cannot figure anything out on the spot. Not physically possible. You only get a moment of grace, if very lucky. In big emergency, the brain is likely to cause you and others  to be like the deer in the headlights.
    Knowing this in advance is helpful.

    If you might appear scary-looking to people who don't know you, practice smiling gently and cheerfully, saying a casual "Hi, how are you," wear something reassuring like a hat or T shirt with a good logo (university, museum, something universally recognized as good and non-threatening). Say "Sir and Ma'am" . . .

    On the other hand, if you want to ward off possible attacks by other people, start acting like a nut job, twitching, babbling nonsense, preaching about Jesus to an imaginary audience. Even the bad guys try to avoid unpredictable loonies. (Try practicing your act in advance; be prepared. And, hey, a little "Jesus saved me! We are all sinners! might even get you a choice of seats on a train as people back off)

    Make friends with local police in advance, ask how you might be of help in a disaster, try to get them to remember your face. Never argue with police or firefighters. If your intuition really forces you to go where they don't want you to, either give them a good reason politely or be matter of fact about "arrest me" "shoot me" as an option. For example, to get to where you know your kids are.

    Practice a good reflex of "Hands Up".
    Train foreigners what to do if ordered to:  FREEZE! (Stop, Stay Still, No sudden movements)

    Read up on safety, esp. home safety and fire prevention.

    I keep pack of matches and box of kitchen matches and small candle on the top shelf of the bathroom medicine cabinet. Away from kids, easy to find, even in the dark.

    Remember: in some emergencies you might have to be hosed down, so pack things in waterproof bags, baggies, and line your "go bag" with a second waterproof bag. Put waterproof identification inside your go bags. Put a spiffy personalization on the outside like a colored bow, so your bag doesn't get mixed up with someone else's. Kids get a little toy, doll to take along. Comfort object.
    (I'm not much of a drinker but I have a little mini vodka bottle in mine.)

    Keep a hand-crank flashlight next to your bed. To hell with recharging and running out of batteries.

    Have a telephone tree of who calls whom, keep duplicate lists at home and at the office. Your office mates, professional association, union, might be the first to try to find out how and where everybody is.

    At home: Always have peanut butter, crackers, canned and dried fruit, nuts, salt, sugar, instant coffee, tea, whatever your preferred staples are . . . Ditto normal first aid and sanitary supplies.
    Keep a stash at work, too.
    Pedialyte, gatorade, etc.
    You get mental confusion as you start to get dehydrated, so force yourself to keep taking in fluids.

    Keep handy: Spare eyeglasses.

    At first sign of "trouble"
    Fill the bathtub with water.
    Fill pots with water.

    Have safe places lined up in advance in case you can't get home--preferably have a key to a friend's place, for example. Let your family/friends know in advance what are the most likely places you'd flee to. Make reciprocal arrangements near place of work and with colleagues.

    Duplicate copies of your essential phone list, will and health proxy, favorite family photos and send them for safekeeping at least 25 miles away.
    (I even sent an envelope to friends overseas for safekeeping). Notecards or acid free heavyish paper last longer.

    Make sure little kids can recite name, phone number, address, plus contact information for grandma or similar. Train and rehearse (through fun play) how to call 911, how to evacuate, where to meet up, etc.

    Get a little waterproof container for essential prescription meds. I keep mine on my keychain.
    ALWAYS have a mini flashlight on your keychain, too. Wear it around your neck or clipped to your belt so you don't have to fumble in the (sudden) dark.

    In dodgy situations (like risk of power blackout on hottest day of summer when all air conditioners are running) also carry some water and a snack if you're going to be in elevators or subways or traffic.

    Always scan for exit routes wherever you go--restaurants, movies, etc. Practice figuring out how to get out in total darkness, how to find flashlight.

    Do look at the weather forecast on a regular basis.

    Windup Grundig radio/flash light. Highly recommended. Who wants to run out of batteries? Various brands of mini-size crank radios are available.

    Because ABC news did such a good report on FEMA's union speaking out about FEMA problems, I'm going to order some camping/emergency supplies from one of the sponsors on the article's website : JHL Supply ~ Fulton, NY ~ 1-800-537-1339 Ext 222~
    (I'm keen on the mini pack of duct tape!)

    Wear hidden gold and/or silver chains to use as barter.

    Wear a photographer's/bush vest with umpteen pockets to reduce the weight of what you are carrying.

    Be very nice to your neighbors and colleagues, make lots of friends around town. Keep up a good reputation. Comes in very handy.

    Use waterproof ink, laser printer, pencil for signs that are exposed to the rain. (post 9-11 many color/ink jet "Missing" posters faded in the rain).

    Keep "in case of emergency" card in your wallet and give clear information about any medical conditions you have. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

    Hold local "civil defense" and "emergency preparedness" in your community--don't wait for the officials. Have frank discussions with local stores, too. Discuss various "what if" scenarios.

    Women and children first? Chaperones to guard young women? Definitely worth discussing and planning in advance.

    To get urgent attention, yell "FIRE!" and people are more likely to come and look than if you simply yell "Help!". Use this judiciously, like if you are about to be mugged or raped.

    Don't resist attackers. Give them what they want.
    Have some large denomination bills in a handy wallet to hand over. Distribute the rest of your money/valuables in various places that are safe, not obvious, hard to get to.

    In fact, make a duplicate notecard with essential info and slip it in your shoe.

    Errrrr. Ummmmmm.....Prepare to die. Make peace with everything. Don't wait for the last minute.

    •  Heh (none)
      I did say there were more Diaries in this series, didn't I?

      Interesting comment, thanks.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:44:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question for New York (none)
    Great diary - thank you so much.

    Here's what concerns me, and maybe some fellow kossaks can help out:
    I live in Manhattan, and as far as I can remember from 9/11, in case of emergency we are just plain screwed.  
    They closed all the bridges and tunnels, essentially sealing off the island.  And of course none of us have cars, even if they were open.  
    So what do we do in case of catastrophe?  How do we get out?  Anyone have any idea?
    Because I'm afraid it's not so paranoid to think that something icky may happen here.

    •  me too (none)
      i work in manhattan and live in queens.  if disaster struck while i was at home, i think i could handle it, but i sure as hell wouldn't want to be stuck in manhattan in an "escape from new york" scenario.

      In every stage of these Oppressions...: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." DoI, TJ

      by ChuckLin on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 05:43:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  me too (none)
        I was in Manhattan for both 9-11 and the blackout.  I live in Jersey.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the only thing that helped me out was having cash on hand.  I always (when possible, of course) try to keep at least $100 with me at all times.  People tend to be very "helpful" if you offer them cash.  

        Knowing that most that read this are not in the NYC area, it may sound a little riduculous to carry this amount of money on you, but it did help me get out of the city both times.

        BTW, thanks AG.  I'm going to try to get my neighbors together for a little meeting.

    •  In that situation (none)
      Your first concern should be to minimize risk in order to keep yourself alive and intact.  Attempting movement in such a situation is not recommended.

      My short-form answer is that your risk assessment clearly indicates that you may be restricted to the vicinity of your work location for up to a week.  

      Your plan for dealing with that risk should include means for getting into a safe situation with access to sufficient resources to last at least a week.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:51:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  keep supplies at work (none)

        In which case, keep a small stash of supplies at work.  

        The usual water & high-density food bars for as long as you think you'll need 'em.  (For at least a few days, food & water aren't likely to be a big issue in NYC, but after that, it's anyone's guess.)  

        An inflatable mattress and a couple of blankets, rolled up tight and tied with cord, give you a comfortable place to sleep next to your desk for a few days.

        Some dust masks, or N95 masks, which won't save you from a chemical weapons attack but will at least keep heavy particulates out of your lungs, such as the dust from a collapsed building.  

        Etc. etc.

  •  Thank you (none)
    This is excellent.  I downloaded the first installment into a Word document and will pass the entire diary to friends and local elected representatives.
  •  San Francisco earthquake? (none)
    We already got the New York terrorist attack and the New Orleans hurricane. The only other disaster on that early 2001 FEMA report is a San Francisco earthquake. Hey, maybe we can be prepared for 1 out of 3?
  •  Been thinking like this for months (none)
    Here's what I have done so far:
    Gone to Croatoan
  •  A very useful website (none)
    is Captain Dave's Survival Center at

    The line from the front page is a better description than I could give. "We've got loads of free  preparedness tips covering specific disaster types, surviving nuclear disasters, evacuation planning, bioterrorism protection, SARS self defense, food and water preservation and storage, weapons procurement, caching, first aid and survival medicine, plus reviews of survival books and products."

    They also sell products, but I feel their well organized, free information is the more valuable aspect of their site.

    •  Useful, but use caution (none)
      Sites like this can be a slippery slope to the Armageddon Fallacy I noted in this Diary.  I do not recommend that someone contemplating disaster preparedness for the first time start out by spending a couple of hours reading the material on this site.

      That said, once you have enough knowledge and experience at evaluating risk to be able to avoid the Armageddon Fallacy, there is a lot of good material there.  The problem, IMHO, is that there's little differentiation between ultra-low-probability scenarios ("The Nuclear Threat") and high-probability disasters (e.g. hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast).


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 11:57:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot the tinfoil hat warning ;-) (none)
        And actually, I sent off an email to the webmaster, asking why the site hasn't been updated in for-absolutely-ever. Captain Dave himself wrote back within minutes, asking that I redirect people to the newer website,

        While the front page is just as incendiary as the former site, the potential disaster situations are updated to reflect current events. I agree with you about probability levels. Terrorism, Iran, Gaza, contagion/Avian flu, and inflation/gas shortage are their top 5 probable disasters affecting folks at home.

        Frankly, I don't think these are going to affect me much in my middle class midwest neighborhood, at least not in terms of needing a bug-out bag. Perhaps I shouldn't assume that everyone reads that kind of stuff with a grain of salt.

        Still, the preparations suggested fit real disasters like many of those spoken of in this diary and its comments. The comprehensive Survival Guide is organized so that the reader can adapt suggestions to their own personal situation, including storage space and financial limitations. It's a valuable resource for those who prefer the internet instead of the library.

  •  I did a disaster plan for (none)
    a corporate headquarters building in Los Angeles.  We determined that the building was located within a square delineated by 4 of the LA freeway overpasses most likely to fail in an earthquake.

    Find alternatives to your alternatives, considering surface vs. freeway.  Check your state and federal D.O.T. records and newspaper stories on these likely risks.

  •  And 'official' clothes and documents... (none)
    Recall the story about the 3 Duke college students, who used Photoshop etc. to adjust and duplicate a looted press pass in Baton Rouge, and were able to get through the check points into New Orleans (and this move around and rescue people)... the lesson? Make yourself some official-looking documentation.

    Recall the story about one of the folks staying in the Frnech Quarter, who looted a Sioux City Fire Department shirt from a nearby thrift shop, and had a much easier time dealing with the law enforcement and military folks because they thought he was 'official'... the lesson? Have some clothes that make you appear 'official'.

    Recall the story about the 'Interdictor', who had a crew keeping a server farm and other computer stuff going all through the disaster (including a live webcam), on the 11th floor of a big business building in downtown New Orleans.  When the military came around, they were able to 'talk the talk' of ex-military folk and have been exempted from being evicted, and likely will be exempt from the gun confiscation.  The lesson?  Have some understanding of military/law enforcement culture, and be able to give from 'official purpose' for whatever you are doing... even if it's 'private contract security'.

    •  Strongly disagree (none)
      In your first two points, you are suggesting that people commit criminal acts, all of which have very serious penalties if you are caught and convicted.  

      In fact, I'm reasonably sure that you are suggesting actions which could get people convicted of felonies.

      I neither support nor recommend the above course of action.


      You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

      by AlphaGeek on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 12:03:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the closest you want to get to that is... (none)

      Fill up an old wallet with those phony credit cards that the credit card companies send you in their junk mail (but NOT ones that have your name and especially your address on them), and $20 bill and a few $1 bills.  If you get mugged, toss that at the mugger, i.e. throw it up in the air so he has to make an effort to get it.  He'll think he hit the jackpot, and you have a quick moment to get the hell outta' there, with your real wallet in the other pocket.  

      Never, ever, ever fake being a rescue worker, military, etc.; not only is that illegal as hell, but the real cop or soldier who catches you will be personally pissed-off and probably go the extra distance to be sure you spend your time in a very unpleasant holding cell until your case comes up.  

      People in certain job categories have a better chance of moving around freely.  Utility workers & skilled trades occupations for example.  If that's you, good.  If it's not, you can't fake it because you don't have the skill-set and don't know the jargon.  

      If you want a press pass, check with any small local newspaper about signing on with them for occasional event reporting.  That might get you some kind of press credential, but you have to hold up your end of the deal by sending in stories and/or photos from time to time as per your agreement with them.  

  •  A sample assessment (mine) (none)

    Main threats:  

    The main threat to my suburb probably comes from the weather.  The main threat (at least once a decade) is from freezing rain, followed by blizzards/cold snaps.  Under "several times a century", flooding is a concern.  On the scale of a human lifetime would be a tornado, and an earthquake that does more than rumble here has not occured since 1817.  

    While not official disasters, the water supply here has deteriorated;  we had two boil advisories this summer.

    Under human-caused disasters, my guess is that a hazmat spill on the tracks 800 m from here would be most likely.  Civil unrest would be a possibility.  The nightmare scenario would be the catastrophic failure of nuclear plants run by Exelon about 45 and 75 miles upwind, brought about by human stupidity or terrorist attack.  

    The nice thing about assessments is that they suggest courses of action.  This assessment would militate most strongly for buying a generator, knowing how to turn the gas off, keeping a stockpile of food and water and getting a dog and a shotgun for home protection.  

    •  boil-water is an emergency (none)

      A boil-water advisory is a serious emergency in its own right.  The stuff in the water could be an antibiotic-resistant strain of some kind of intestinal bacteria that could kill you.  

      Good reason to stockpile water in advance, in large enough quantity to keep you going for a couple of weeks.  

      The nuclear plants aren't a problem.  Even a jumbo jet flown by a terrorist, won't penetrate the containment domes.  The worst case it it could crack or partially damage the domes.  But if you understand how a nuclear plant works, that's not a disaster.  The dome is there to protect the reactor, and contain radiation if the reactor has an accident.  There is ordinarily no ambient radiation hanging out inside the dome, to "escape" if the dome cracks open.  

      In the event of a terrorist jumbo jet incident, the plant staff will shut down the reactor, which they can do quickly & safely and without a radiation release.  Then what you have is a very expensive repair job on the dome, and possibly a power outage until power can be re-routed from other generating facilities, but no radiation risk.  Think of it as basically an expensive pain-in-the-ass incident rather than a life-safety threat.  

  •  berkeley, ca, has a web page detailing risks (none)
    The city of Berkeley has a web page that summarizes high-risk events and which locations in town are most at risk.  Seems to me that most city governments should have something similar online.

  •  Mountain bike also / real world training facility (none)
    I'd keep at least one mountain bike (probably per person) and maybe a baby carriage / pull behind thingy as well.  I's sure you'll cover this in future installments, but I got too excited and couldn't resist.

    Obviously, you've tapped into a timely and very important topic.  I'm renovating a historic rural theater to use as, well, a theater for live music and stage during weekends, and to use for 'high-performance leadership training' during the week.  

    The building has a bunch of commercial space that I'm converting into a mix of residential and business space for multiple use.  Think about 'Nord Ost', the first really big jihadist seige at a Moscow theater -- need to be able to react appropriately.  Think about how a small group of actors could create unique and deeply immersive learning experiences (either for corporate or first responder training).

    I'm building a 50' rock wall (again for dual purpose on weekends - leisure, and weekdays - training), and will also likely build a 4-5 story hotel/apartment facade for folks to practice climing up / down in complete darkness under a range of stress-inducing scenarios.

    I don't think of this as slipping into an Armageddon mindset.  I view it as providing very rare and essential life management services.  Where else can you realistically practice such things?  

    Oh, and since I'm a tech geek, the theater will be ultra wired/wireless, complete with podcasting, webcasting and HDTV broadcasting capabilities (for remote monitoring and evaluation of corporate training).  The point here is that the theater, which will be online in summer '07 (in time for '08 elections!) will serve as an incredible source of progressive content creation and distribution as well.

    Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Sat Sep 10, 2005 at 06:38:40 AM PDT

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