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"In the first 48 to 72 hours of an emergency, many Americans will have to look after themselves." - David Paulison, FEMA Director Nominee

Preparedness for emergency situations is not a solitary pursuit.

Each of us lives in the context of a larger society.  Few among us could survive for long without the support of myriad other people and institutions we depend upon for our daily needs.  A realistic disaster plan must balance these dependencies against the stark truth that you are likely to be required to survive outside this system for days or weeks at a time at some point in your life.

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 third 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.

WARNING: This Diary series discusses a wide range of disaster-related subjects in a straightforward, honest fashion.  Some people may experience a strong emotional reaction to reading about or discussing situations which are normally avoided in polite conversation.  You have been warned.

Previous Diaries in this series have addressed the basic principles underlying preparedness, including some elementary disaster psychology.  The remaining installments, beginning with this one, are sharply focused on the practical aspects of planning and preparation to survive a disaster.

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 complete our discussion of step 2, planning to address risks.  As mentioned above, today's installment is sharply focused on the practical aspects of preparedness planning.

The AlphaGeek approach to disaster preparedness

The field of preparedness planning is an interesting one, full of colorful characters and hair-raising tales.  Your humble correspondent is not an ex-Special-Forces badass, nor is he a buckskin-clad outdoor survival specialist.  My "specialty", if you will, is preparedness planning for suburban and exurban environments.  Above all, I focus on pragmatic, sustainable plans which recognize the common failure modes for family- and community-level crisis management.

In a nutshell, I believe that family-level preparedness plans (and material support for those plans) should meet the following criteria:

  • Any critical element of each plan must have at least one clearly explained alternate solution
  • All plans must be in written form, ready to be executed by anyone entrusted with the safety of your family
  • A written copy of your plan must be available in any context in which you might need to execute said plan (e.g. home, work, vehicles)
  • Everyone involved in your preparedness plans (e.g. out-of-state relatives) must review their part of the plan and understand their role
  • Material preparations must not require inspection more than once per year, and must still be capable of meeting minimum requirements if left unattended for 4 years

The fact is, folks, that people are lazy, your correspondent included.  If your disaster plan depends on dumping and refilling bottles of water every 3 months, let's face it -- at some point, you ARE going to get slack and lose the motivation to keep to the schedule.  It takes a pretty deep-seated insecurity complex to consistently maintain your preparedness materials every 90 days over a span of years, and most people just can't sustain that level of effort.  Having bad bottled water and canned food three years past its expiration date isn't an inconvenience in a crisis -- it's dangerous, because in extremis you might be tempted to use it anyway.

A realistic preparedness plan, in your author's estimation, should address the following objectives.  Remember, tomorrow we will discuss all of the tips and tricks needed to implement a preparedness plan centered on emphasizes practicality and cost-efficiency.  The fifth and final installment in this series will detail your correspondent's preparations for each of these situations, but keep in mind that your preparedness package must address your risks, not those of some guy in California earthquake country.

Communications and rendezvous plan

In a crisis, you are likely to be separated from at least one member of your family.  Start with the assumption that your family is at its most vulnerable, i.e. at maximum separation in your daily routines.  Your rendezvous plan should address the possibility that family members at work and/or may need to evacuate quickly.

Your communications plan should have two priorities: advise concerned parties on your situation (safe, injured, etc.) and propagate information between people in the disaster zone who may not be able to communicate directly.

House fire: evacuation, response, and aftermath

No explanation needed.  If you don't know what you're going to do in case of a house fire, you are at significant risk of dying in one.  If, after failing to plan, you get out alive the aftermath is likely to be extremely difficult.

Any number of organizations offer complete guides on how to prepare for a home fire emergency, including the Red Cross.  Download and use one of these guides today.

Home refuge with no services: Ten (10) days self-sufficiency

Yes, that's right, folks: 10 days with no running water, no grid electricity, and no natural gas and/or propane delivery.  This is most likely to occur during inclement weather (see: natural disasters) so assume that you will need to deal with extremes of heat/humidity or cold.  Sanitation and medical requirements for high-needs individuals will both be challenging; plan accordingly.

Open-space refuge with no services: Five (5) days self-sufficiency

If your house is unfit to occupy, you may still be able to set up camp nearby.  For this situation, assume that you can recover a significant fraction of your home preparedness package.  Identify several likely locations near your home where you might set up a temporary refuge.  (NOTE: This is primarily applicable in communities at risk of severe earthquake damage.)

Refuge in/near vehicle: Three (3) days self-sufficiency

Can you live in your vehicle for 3 days?  Principal concerns are food, water, clothing and sanitation.  Fuel: you either have it or you don't, and most people won't/can't carry an emergency supply large enough to make a significant difference.

Work refuge with no services: Three (3) days self-sufficiency

Assume that the preparedness kit in your vehicle is inaccessible, e.g. the parking garage fell down on your car when the quake hit.  How will you get through three days at your place of employment, assuming that movement outside the premises is too hazardous to attempt?

Evacuation to community shelter: Three (3) days self-sufficiency

Relocation to a community shelter is not the end of your worries.  (Exhibit A: New Orleans Superdome.  Exhibit B: New Orleans Convention Center.)  Are you prepared to be self-sufficient within this environment for up to 3 days with minimal/no access to services?

Evacuation from disaster zone: by vehicle

Similar to the refuge in/near vehicle requirement above, but with the added requirements of routing, fuel supply, and so forth.  How will you evacuate when the gas stations are closed and/or sold out and the fuel gauge is on 'E'?

Evacuation from disaster zone: on foot

In dire circumstances, it may be more dangerous to stay in your community than it is to attempt evacuation without the benefit of car.  You should have a plan to walk/bike/sled/swim 30 miles over the course of 72 hours to reach safety.  This is generally a plan of last resort.

Key planning considerations for your preparedness plan

As you put together your plan for each element in your risk-assessment list, consider how you will address the following needs:

Environment (heat/AC)
Electricity
Water (Stored & portable)
Nutrition (Stored & portable)
Food preparation
Food preservation
Lighting
Active communications (cellphone/payphone/radio/Internet)
Passive communications (radio/TV)
Entertainment (books/games)
Clothing
Transportation
Shelter (Permanent & portable)
Medical needs (maintenance medication)
Medical needs (first-aid/trauma)
Sanitation (personal hygiene, human wastes, trash/garbage)

Risks, training, and community

In Part 1 of this series, you were asked to consider the risks you face where you live.  If you did your homework, you now have a prioritized list of risks that you should plan to address.

In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the psychology of disaster preparedness, and the relationship between FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and effective crisis response.  The prescription for avoiding FUD or shock-induced catatonia is simple: training and practice.

In addition to dry-run rehearsals of the preparedness plans you assemble to address your risks, you should plan to rehearse your fire response plan on a regular basis -- at least once per year.  Pick a holiday which you normally spend at home, and make that "drill day".

You've heard this before, but please listen anyway: every adult should take a combination First Aid/CPR course at least once every 10 years.  Yes, you need to take CPR more often to maintain your certification, but at a minimum everyone should take the combo course every 10 years.

In any disaster, community plays a huge role.  The time to forge the bonds that hold a community together is not in the aftermath of a disaster.  Fortunately, many communities in the US already have programs in place which encourage outreach and relationship-building.

In your correspondent's experience, the most useful program is CERT, short for Community Emergency Response Team.  The CERT program provides a free 16-20 hour training course which covers disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations, light search-and-rescue, and disaster psychology.

Beyond CERT, however, strong community organizations are needed to provide mutual support in a crisis.  Many cities with significant disaster risks support and encourage the formation of neighborhood associations.  These organizations both raise awareness of the need for preparedness planning and encourage neighbors to get acquainted instead of keeping to themselves.

Urban dwellers, particularly those in high-density housing such as high-rise apartment buildings, are strongly encouraged to reach out to neighbors and openly discuss the need for preparedness.

Scenarios

Scenario 2 - Heat wave

Description: An unrelenting summer heat wave spreads across the Southwest. Daytime temperatures of over 110F are common. The electric power generation and distribution systems, strained by the load, suffer widespread failures.

Scenario profile:
Family separated: NO
Immediate evacuation required: NO
Post-event evacuation required: POSSIBLE
Services interrupted: YES (electricity)
Mean time to restoration of services: 3 days
Period of initial isolation: not applicable
Communications: minimal disruption
Secondary risks: Medical services overwhelmed by heat-related casualties

Requirements for survival:
Environment: YES, daytime environmental cooling
Electricity: YES, food preservation and environmental control
Water (stored): NO
Water (portable): YES, required in case of relocation
Nutrition (stored): YES, fresh food may spoil
Nutrition (portable): YES, required in case of relocation
Food preparation: YES, if kitchen is all-electric
Food preservation: YES
Lighting: YES, but minimal - night-time use only Alternate active communications: NO, phone/cell network functional
Passive communications: YES, need to stay informed
Entertainment: YES, can't go outside
Clothing: NO
Transportation: YES, in case of relocation or medical emergency
Shelter (permanent): NO
Shelter (portable): NO
Medical needs (maintenance medication): YES, 1-week supply
Medical care (first-aid/trauma): NO
Sanitation: NO

This one is a double whammy -- a major heat wave leading to electricity outages. Heat waves are likely to be accompanies by a drought, greatly increasing the risk of fire danger in outlying areas.

One assumes that you will have the sense to stay out of the sun as much as possible during this crisis. Your author is no expert on heat wave survival, so a bit of Googling found this great city-government page titled Drought & Extreme Heat Survival. Here's what they have to say:

Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun, or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. To avoid developing these illnesses, learn the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment.

Before the extreme heat:

To keep cool air inside and warm air outside...

  • Install air conditioning.
  • Insulate around window air conditioners, ducts, and doors. Weatherstrip doors and window sills.
  • Consider leaving storm windows up all year. They can help keep heat out during the summer months as well as keeping the cold out in the winter.
  • Install reflective film or shades on windows. Outdoor louvers or awnings can reduce the heat entering a house by as much as 80 percent.
  • Use fans to keep the cool air circulating.
  • Plant deciduous trees around your house that block the heat in summer and let the sun shine through in winter.

During periods of extreme heat:

To avoid the effects of heat waves, observe the following Heat Wave Safety Rules:

  • Slow down. Your body can't do its best in high temperatures and humidities, and might do its worst.
  • Heed your body's early warnings that heat syndrome is on the way. Reduce your level of activity immediately and get to a cooler environment.
  • Dress for summer. Lightweight, light colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your thermoregulatory system maintain normal body temperature.
  • Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Don't dry out. Heat wave weather can wring you out before you know it. Drink plenty of water while the hot spell lasts.
  • Stay salty. Unless you're on a salt-restricted diet, take an occasional salt tablet or some salt solution when you've worked up a sweat.
  • Avoid thermal shock. Acclimatize yourself gradually to warmer weather. Treat yourself extra gently for those first critical two or three hot days.
  • Vary your thermal environment. Physical stress increases with exposure time in heat wave weather. Try to get out of the heat for at least a few hours each day. If you can't do this at home, drop in on a cool store, restaurant, or theater - anything to keep your exposure time down.
  • Don't get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

Scenario 3 - Earthquake

Description: A magnitude 7.4 earthquake centered on the Hayward fault strikes the San Francisco Bay Area at 1630PDT (4:30pm) on a weekday in October. One adult from the household is at work on the Peninsula, 20 miles away, when the quake occurs. The other adult is at home in Fremont. One child is at the elementary school walking distance from the house. The other is at preschool 10 miles from home.

The home suffers minor structural damage, but appears fit to occupy. Bay Area bridges are declared unsafe pending inspection; extensive damage to overpasses and roadway make highway travel hazardous or impossible.

Within 4 hours of the quake, 7,000 Bay Area residents are dead and 27,000 require medical attention. The vast majority of these are in East Bay cities within 5 miles (8 km) of the Hayward Fault. Emergency plans go into effect across California, and within 24 hours, martial law is declared in Fremont, Union City, and Oakland.

Scenario profile:
Family separated: YES, worst-case scenario
Immediate evacuation required: NO
Post-event evacuation required: POSSIBLE
Services interrupted: YES (all municipal services including sewer)
Mean time to restoration of services: 10+ days
Period of initial isolation: 7 days
Communications: wireline phone network down hard; mobile voice network extremely unreliable for outdial, indial impossible; mobile data network mostly functional
Secondary risks: Numerous, and all bad.

Requirements for survival:
Environment: YES, night-time lows of ~45F
Electricity: YES
Water (stored): YES
Water (portable): YES
Nutrition (stored): YES
Nutrition (portable): YES
Food preparation: YES
Food preservation: YES, short-term (until fresh/frozen food consumed)
Lighting: YES, but minimal - night-time use only Alternate active communications: YES
Passive communications: YES, need to stay informed
Entertainment: YES
Clothing: YES, replacements for contaminated/damaged clothes
Transportation: YES, local and/or evac
Shelter (permanent): NO
Shelter (portable): YES
Medical needs (maintenance medication): YES, 2-week supply
Medical care (first-aid/trauma): YES
Sanitation: YES

As the observant reader might gather, this is a scenario your correspondent has listed as a primary risk in his preparedness plan. Unfortunately, the death and injury toll numbers aren't made up or exaggerated. They're drawn directly from a FEMA study used in CERT training, and they're not even the worst-case scenario. What follows isn't the complete response plan, but enough of it to give you a good understanding.

After the quake hits, each adult moves immediately to a safe location. If mobile-network voice calling is down (very likely) SMS text messaging is used to notify spouse and out-of-state relatives of event and status. If mobile-network data services are functional, email is sent from mobile devices as a backup to SMS messaging. If mobile network is down hard, proceed immediately to nearest pay phone with phone card and call out-of-state contacts with event and status. (Multiple pay phone locations marked on emergency maps in all preparedness kits.)

Each adult then moves quickly to secure their location and ensure access to disaster supplies. The person at home immediately performs a rapid structural assessment. (Assume that both adults have self-treatable minor injuries, at worst.) If the house looks safe for the moment, homebody executes the following tasks:

  • NatGas to OFF (wrench and/or emergency tool in multiple locations)
  • Water to OFF at master valve (mandatory) and curbside valve (optional)
  • Master power breaker to OFF, individual circuit breakers to OFF
  • Pull emergency release on garage door and open manually if possible; move car out of garage into driveway
  • Relocate containerized camping gear (incl. clothing duffel), go-packs and bicycles to back yard
  • Relocate documents container and firearms to secure location
  • Relocate fire extinguishers to back yard
  • Relocate ice, frozen and refrigerated goods to 5-day coolers in back yard
  • Relocate certain kitchen appliances, canned and dry food supplies from kitchen cupboards to back yard
  • Advise contacts of status, and intent to retrieve older child from school
  • Retrieve older child from elementary school, return home
  • Advise contacts of successful retrieval of older child from school, status of child at preschool (unknown/unretrieved, etc.), advise other adult of any aid needed at school
  • Enlist older child in setting up temporary camp, kitchen, sanitation station in back yard

The adult at work on the Peninsula secures the work location and activates the company disaster plan. If the parking structure is intact, relocate vehicle to secure location. For safety and security reasons, travel is deferred until at least 0100PDT/day2. "Combat nap" time after setting up overnight watch schedule. Relocate to Fremont, taking at least one other Fremont-bound employee as a passenger. Note: do not issue firearms to unqualified passengers. Drop passenger at safe point near destination, review emergency-contact procedures in case retrieval is required.

Three of four family members rendezvous at home by 0400PDT/day2. "Combat naps" for adults. Refuel vehicle from emergency reserve, assess situation in Fremont using all available info sources, plan retrieval of fourth family member to start at first light (0630PDT/day2). Execute retrieval op, verify that disaster plan is being executed correctly at preschool for remaining kids. Provide first aid as needed, leave emergency food/water supplies if required. Return to home.

I'm going to truncate the explanation of this plan at this point, as it then goes into plenty more detail not necessarily useful to this conversation, such as CERT operations and camp management. If anyone has further questions regarding this scenario, please ask in the Comments and I'll be sure to respond as best I can.

TO BE CONCLUDED TOMORROW

Phase 3 of preparedness planning: MREs, guns, and radios, oh my!

Update [2005-9-14 4:19:56 by AlphaGeek]: Added heat wave and earthquake scenarios, as promised. Enjoy. -AG

Update [2005-9-14 4:45:54 by AlphaGeek]: Added series index.

Originally posted to AlphaGeek on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 02:44 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That pesky work thing, I tell ya... (4.00)
    ...it keeps getting in the way of important stuff like writing this Diary series.

    The promised 3-4 additional example scenarios will be posted late tonight, so be sure to stop by tomorrow morning if you're interested.

    And yes, I promise: MREs, guns, and radios tomorrow.

    -AG

    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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 02:47:07 PM PDT

    •  A request (4.00)
      Please edit the diary to include links to the previous two diaries so that anyone who missed them won't have to go hunting for them.

      Also, please make a short note in the gear section about licenses, legal issues, and such.  Particularly as regards firearms, many states have fairly strict licensing requirements.  Thanks.

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

      by soonergrunt on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:01:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roger that (4.00)
        Intra-series links coming soon.

        No discussion of firearms is complete without mention of legal issues.  I intend to say a few words about permissible use of force, with the usual I'm-not-a-lawyer disclaimers.

        Great comment yesterday, BTW.  You clearly have your family plan squared away.

        -AG

        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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:09:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks. (4.00)
          The best planning process is called 'backwards planning' in the army, or 'beginning with the end in mind' in business schools.
          It's about thinking about where you want to end up, and then working backwards from there.  Doing it this way will allow one to plan for what needs to be planned for, and blow away all of the chaff around what can be planned for.

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

          by soonergrunt on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:19:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Second or Third installment? (none)
  •  You have made lots of us think (4.00)
    well beyond the box.

    I work for a small university and am now paying more attention since we are a local area designated shelter. The winter D.A.R.T. program is on my to do list.

    Questions I've been asking myself -
    -Do I have shoes so that I can walk the 3+ miles home? (instead of high heels)

    -Do we have jackets in the car / office that are warmer than a woman's business suit?

    -What about a wild fire in the hills here in Marin? Effectively one questionable way out if the hills go.

    -What if the earthquake hits and it's wet and rainy? Waterproof bags for emergency supplies...

    I want to sincerely thank you for making me really take my preparedness level way up.

    And I'm already making lists and rotation schedules for supplies for 5 separate locations (office - 2 cars - home - cabin).

    Spending is good for the economy after a disaster snark...

    Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you..... Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by SallyCat on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:02:05 PM PDT

    •  Waterproof, yes (4.00)
      One night a few years ago, lightning struck our thermostat and there was charring on the top of the wall which made me afraid we might have an electrical fire about to start inside the wall or already going on.

      It was POURING outside...buckets.  Even if we had backed our truck up outside the window to rescue things...much damage would have occurred.

      After that I bought the Rubbermaid boxes for photos and documents.  A town near us flooded the bank and the bank boxes a few years ago.  One man walked out days later unworried about his documents.  He had put them in a plastic ziplock.

      KEYS needed...extra copies !!  

      Because of illness in my extended family, I have kept a gym bag packed and ready to grab.  It has come in handy several times.  I have a checklist near my bed, but I am going to re do it in bold letters.  

      Thanks for this discussion!!!

      "The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries." Kurt Vonnegut

      by cfk on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 10:39:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another excellent installment... (4.00)
    Tomorrow: Phase 3 of preparedness planning: MREs, guns, and radios, oh my!

    MREs? I'm there! :o)

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

    by ilona on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:07:33 PM PDT

  •  High-density offices (4.00)
    AlphaGeek wrote:
    Urban dwellers, particularly those in high-density housing such as high-rise apartment buildings, are strongly encouraged to reach out to neighbors and openly discuss the need for preparedness.
    I'm going to assume that the same applies to those who work in offices, factories, or other group workspaces where food and water isn't normally found, and for the same reason: you don't want to be the only one with food and water.
    •  Ideally, my readers will take charge... (4.00)
      ...not in a disaster, but ahead of one.  Being prepared in the workplace doesn't have to mean planning only for your own survival.

      After I'm done with my current project, my next priority is going to be getting a better disaster preparedness plan instituted at work.  Simple things like a few barrels of water, a couple cases of emergency rations, and some chemical toilets make a huge difference if you're stuck at work for a few days.

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:34:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  12v inverter (4.00)
    one thing I found particularly useful during the 11 days I was without power during Hurricane Isabel ( home refuge with no services) was a cheap 12volt-to-120VAC inverter.

    I had it hooked up to an extra car battery that I could recharge at a friend's and with the inverter I could run the cell phone charger an a couple CFL lights.  I need to buy a solar cell to make that solution more robust.

  •  I spent a good chunk of time yesterday (4.00)
    looking over the new USGS Earthquake Preparedness Handbook and the ABAG website.  But I have a question that I'm still not sure of the answer to.  They say that if you're in bed when an earthquake hits, stay there and cover yourself w/ a pillow.   Does this apply to bunk beds and loft beds too?  My elder daughter sleeps in a loft bed from Ikea, and my younger daughter sleeps in a free-standing bed underneath.  I have visions of it collapsing (though there's no reason to believe it's particularly unstable) and my elder daughter taking a big fall and/or my younger daughter being crushed underneath.  I want to get a plan together and be able to tell them what to do (and practice it), but I want to make sure I give them the right advice.  Should they stay put, or try to get away and get under the desk in their room?
    •  Earthquake straps (4.00)
      You don't mention whether the loft bed is against one wall or two, but the key thing you need to do to avoid collapse is to minimize movement.  A pair of earthquake straps, available at any hardware store (in California, at least) will stabilize the upper bed nicely.

      Making the beds safe is a much better plan than advising them to climb out of bed during an earthquake.  Seems to me that getting down from a loft bed during a 6.0 or stronger quake is a recipe for a broken leg -- or worse.

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:46:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And... (4.00)
      where the top and bottom bunks are connected: strengthen that joint so that it can't come apart if the floor starts bucking up and down.

      "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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:00:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Worry less about collapse... (4.00)
      ..than about tipping over. Anyone who lives in quakeville should take the time to STRAP tall furniture into the wall studs.

      Paintings and photographs mounted to the wall are another concern. In a big shaker, you'll need hard mounts or plan on losing most of them and MAKE DEAD SURE THERE IS NOTHING HANGING ON THE WALLS ABOVE YOUR CHILDREN'S BEDS.

  •  Going to Nert training and communication idea.... (4.00)
    well, i've signed up and ready for NERT (SF calls it nert :/ ) and really looking forward to it.

    Our family is spread out in California (SF, PaloAlto), S. Carolina,  Denver and Seattle. We kept trying to figure out some type of 'calling tree' or communication plan to contact each other but couldn't figure out the best (if emergency here call this person etc)

    then we came up with Ringcentral, its a 800 number service for individuals and business. It takes calls and forwards them to any number of real phone numbers and email addresses and takes messages, etc. It was perfect for us.

    In case of emergency we can call the 800 number and leave one message that will then go out to every single family member by phone messsage and email. They can also call in and leave a message for us and others, or call one person specifically.

    It's a bit of a cost ($10/month) but spread between 5 families that was pretty minimal. (and we decided to use it on rare non-emergency cases like when we have birth or other such announcements)

    We have a back up one too in case the 800 number doesn't work for some reason (unfortunately they are in San Mateo.. so if we are hit by a earthquake in SF not sure where the bulk of their servers and hardware is.. and it could have been hit too.. looking for another instead unless we find their servers are somewhere else).

    anyway. a thought.

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

    by wclathe on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:34:56 PM PDT

    •  Also signed up (4.00)
      Well that's it, AlphaGeek, you've done it now.  You've forced me to get off my butt and sign up for CERT training down here in Los Angeles.  

      I figure since we're trying to start a family, the least I can do is take a CPR class.  This way, I'll get that training, plus I'll be a better community member too!

      I am a Reform Democrat

      by FaeryWalsh on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:10:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting synchronicity (4.00)
        The CERT program was pioneered by the LA Fire Department in 1985.  I'm sure their training courses will be up to standards.  :)

        Good call on the CPR class.  Make sure you enroll in one which covers infant/child CPR.  If you're feeling ambitious, approach your employer about sponsoring a CPR class at your workplace.

        -AG

        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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:16:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Guilt (4.00)
    Alpha, I think you and Katrina are finally going to push me to prepare.  The guilt is terrible.  Mostly I'm cheap.  I just need to commit some funds to this issue.

    "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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:11:37 PM PDT

    •  More your time than your funds (4.00)
      look around your house.  There are plenty of things there that you can and should use.

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

      by soonergrunt on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Doesn't have to be expensive (4.00)
      Any good disaster plan will both complete and frugal.  The final Diary in the series, dealing with material preparations, will include many, many ideas for preparedness on the cheap.

      In some cases (nutrition, in particular) you can get prepared very cost-effectively if you accept that your standard of living will be considerably different in a crisis.

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:24:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question for you, AlphaGeek (4.00)
    Are you Mormon? Your preparedness reminds me so much of my Latter Day Saint neighbors back in Colorado Springs- those folks were set for any emergency, particularly with all the food and water stashed away. And in good order, too.
      This is a great series.  It brought up some things I hadn't considered before.  Having evacuated from fires, been through two earthquakes and evacuated from a hurricane (we're retired military so we got the chance to experience all sorts of things around the US), it pays follow the Scout motto, Be Prepared.
        I've always kept photo albums/small treasured items in a Rubbermaid tote, along with The File of Important Papers. Pet kit is in a plastic bin- food, litter,dishes,etc. Grab and go.  Gear is always in my minivan, stashed in pockets.  My husband was surprised when we were on a river trip and needed bungee cords when we arrived.  Pulled them out of the seat pocket.
      To be ready for any problem is to mean to not be dependent on others.  Maybe that's why this diary is such a satisfying read- one can learn and apply the information you have so carefully presented and one is thus more empowered.  Helplessness is a dreadful state of affairs.  
       

    You can teach creationism in our school if we can teach calculus in your church.

    by offred on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:34:46 PM PDT

    •  don't know about alphageek... (4.00)
      but both me and my partner come from Mormon backgrounds (he was born Mormon, i converted at 18/excommunted at 38)...

      and we've always have been interested in food storage (have a bout a month of dry/can goods always rotated) because of that foundation.

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

      by wclathe on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:41:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Naw, not a Mormon (4.00)
      Since there's a Mormon fatwa which says they must store a year's supply of food, they certainly know a few things about preparedness.  It's part of their culture, as you clearly understand.

      While I haven't explicitly said so in the Diary series, my philosophy is to assume that you must be self-sufficient in a crisis, and if you end up receiving assistance, it's a pleasant surprise.  Many liberals, I've found, are so community-aware that they have trouble with this mindset.

      If resources are limited, and you are self-sufficient, those who need help are more likely to get what they need.  On the other hand, you can't plan to support everyone, and I think that bothers a lot of people.

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 04:57:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  self-sufficiency (4.00)
        Many liberals, I've found, are so community-aware that they have trouble with this mindset.

        Maybe because they tend to be from urban centers.  If you're from a place like NYC where you can get Chinese food at 3 a.m., and even the smallest convenience stores carry exotic items, it's easy to think that everything will be readily available at all times.  

        However, in a big city you can't expect people to be "neighborly" and helpful, either.  So maybe my theory needs work...

        On the other hand, you can't plan to support everyone, and I think that bothers a lot of people.

        Yeah, this is a big issue, actually.  I thought about it a lot during the Katrina aftermath - the idea of "What if I had a couple of bottles of water and a candy bar to supply my whole family for an indefinite period of time, and we were surrounded by people who had nothing?  And what if they had weapons?"  It's not a pleasant thought.

        It reminds me of the Cold War stuff about fallout shelters and how you had to be well-supplied with food and water, and also have a big gun and a lot of ammunition to fight off your neighbors who hadn't spent the time and money preparing.

        I mentioned this to some younger people I know, and they had no idea what I was talking about.  I guess I must be old.

        New Orleans will never die

        by hrh on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:26:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting - while my family was Mormon (4.00)
      the basics of food storage and preparedness came from the fact that they were all farm / ranch families. They were all depression era families and do-it-yourself types. There concerns were winter storms in Utah - 30 miles from town...

      The best food storage / preparedness practices that I learned came from camping and backpacking.
      -What can you carry-in / carry-out?
      -What are nutritious foods that you really like?
      -What are you basic survival needs in the back country in case of injury or freak storms?

      Our emergency basics are 1/2 camping gear and 1/2 stuff just for emergency preparedness.

      There are a lot of good ideas in the Mormon food storage teachings - but there are some big presumptions - like using up large quantities of flour or sugar or other dry goods every 6 months. Me - it takes 6 months to use up 2 pounds of flour (except when baking holiday cookies!).

      Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you..... Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by SallyCat on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:05:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  flour and sugar (none)
        Perhaps part of the Mormons' emergency preparedness plan is to make huge wagonloads of sugar cookies.

        Maybe they know something we don't know.

        New Orleans will never die

        by hrh on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:30:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a practicing Pagan now (none)
          I'm packing up the wine and chocolate...to heck with sugar cookies!

          A nice white port and dark chocolate...yummy!

          Seriously, on our list of supplies to 'evacuate' is the wine cabinet and liquor cabinet. From watching way too many movies we can use the alcohol for disinfectant of a variety of things.

          But then again - if I'm not going to make it...I'm going out oblivious....

          Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you..... Ralph Waldo Emerson

          by SallyCat on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:08:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  NEVER let gas tank get below 1/4 full .... (4.00)
    yeah, this is a good idea when traveling on a long road trip...but it's even MORE important now for two main reasons:

    1. gas supplies may simply run out very quickly and you will not be able to refill at all (spot shortages more likely, but you should still be at least partially prepared from a petroleum perspective)

    2. even if there are no gas shortages, you may not be able to physically drive anywhere (roads impassable). But you could use the fuel in your car to stay warm, recharge cell phone / laptop or run other appliances / devices from a DC-AC inverter (highly recommended).

    Oh, and I also strongly recommend a mountain bike per family member, having a pull-behind thingy is even better if you have to evacuate on foot.

    Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:00:35 PM PDT

    •  about inverters... (none)

      Your car's cigarette lighter socket can provide a maximum of 140 watts to a plug-in inverter.  Larger inverters, e.g. 300 watts, require alligator clips to attach directly to the car battery terminals.  You can get all of this stuff at Radio Snack.

      If you are going to use an inverter, don't just use it to recharge the cellphone battery, that is incredibly wasteful of gasoline which will be in short supply.  

      Use it to its maximum rating as far as possible.  The car engine is producing a lot more horsepower than it takes to run the inverter anyway.  Run everything that needs to be run at the same time, up to the limit of the inverter.  

      If all you have to do is charge batteries, get a solar recharger and a suitable set of small PV cells.  Batteries take a good long time to recharge under any conditions; running the car that long to run the inverter to charge batteries is really wasteful to the point of stupid.  

      Refrigerators often draw more power than an inverter can provide.  However you could look around for a small fridge for items such as milk & eggs, and see about running that only as long each day as needed to cool it down, and then let it stay cool and not open the door except for a couple of times a day.  

      Useful tool for monitoring power consumption for this purpose and for general conservation awareness:  a little plug-in power monitor called "Kill A Watt," typically available for less than $40 via the internet.  This will show you wattage in realtime, and cumulative KWH of usage (e.g. how much juice your fridge uses in an entire day).  

  •  not to complain (4.00)
    but this series is basically useless for many city dwellers, including myself.

    a) no space outside the house, except perhaps a small yard

    b) more importantly, no vehicle. if I have to flee the city, it's going to be in a friends car. if my apartment burns down, i'll have to go stay with a friend, for that matter. in any purely personal disaster, the only supply I "need" is my atm card and my credit card.

    c) no storage. i have no place to put an extra case of beer, let alone a year's supply of food.

    •  A year (4.00)
      I can understand why somebody might stockpile a year worth of food, but for most of us, I think that's dramatically overdoing it. What kind of reasonably likely event can you think of which would keep you stuck in your home or office for more than a week or two?
    •  ouch (none)
      While I've been pretty clear that the principal focus is suburban/exurban households, there's an awful lot of material in this series that's applicable to city life.

      Take another look at the list of key elements in any survival plan.  I strongly recommend thinking about each of these whether you live in an NYC studio or a Marin County farmhouse.  Try to focus on the strategies relevant to your situation, instead of the few that don't fit.

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:18:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't assume you can leave in your friends' car (4.00)
      I wouldn't be so quick to think that handy transportation awaits you.  Even if it does, roads may be impassable or gridlock may keep you from going anywhere.  Mountain bike with backpack is a very good approach for city dwellers.

      Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

      by Doolittle Sothere on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:35:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ATM/credit cards (4.00)
      You should NEVER rely on ATM or credit cards in the event of an emergency.  Their usefulness relies on technology.  Have you ever experienced a credit card mysteriously malfunctioning?  Can you imagine standing in line at an ATM machine when all hell is breaking loose?  

      Instead, have a healthy chunk of cash stashed away in a place where you can grab it easily in case you have to get out fast.  Make sure you have some big bills in there - you may need to wave them in someone's face in a life-or-death situation.

      New Orleans will never die

      by hrh on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:41:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cash in a disaster... (none)
        Unless you can keep a BIG wad, recognize that cash depreciates VERY rapidly in an emergency.

        Note also that being able to have a big hunk of cash on hand is outside the abilities of a lot of families.

        True story - I once was talking to a guy who was hoarding gold against the collapse of civilization.  Metalic gold, in his home.  He asked me what I was doing to prepare.  I told him that I was going to buy guns and ammunition.  He asked me why I thought that was a better investment than what he was doing.  My reply - "I now know where to get gold if I need it."

        He actually looked offended at the idea that after civilization collapsed there might be a breakdown of, um, civilized behavior.

        •  you're right (none)
          in everything you say.  I think that, when the shit hits the fan, food and water will turn out to be much more valuable than either cash or credit.  Guns will be good too.

          My point was that ATMs and credit cards should not be relied upon in an emergency.  And forget checks.

          New Orleans will never die

          by hrh on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:34:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmm... (none)
            The two most valuable trade items in a disaster, IMHO, would be ready-to-eat food in a pop-top or tear-open container, or a Katadyn water bottle with built-in filter.

            Guns are useful for keeping what you own and ensuring personal safety.  You never, ever trade firearms or ammunition.  Word gets around.

            All kidding aside, using guns to appropriate other people's property is likely to result in your death.

            -AG

            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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:06:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Breakdown of civilized behavior. (none)
          That's my biggest worry by far.

          The Superdome and the Convention Center illustrated how perfectly good people can behave when desperation sets in. Surround someone with thousands of other people and deprive him of food and water for 48 hours...only a select few will be able to remain calm.

          Now imagine the number of people in your neighborhood who haven't read this series and who aren't prepared. If the water goes out and the grocery stores are empty, they'll come knocking. How will you react?

          How much water do you give your neighbor? How much do you give an agressive stranger with two thirsty kids? What kind of pre-set boundaries does each of us put between being a human being and making sure our own families are taken care of?

          I suppose, that's part of the "mental preparation" AlphaGeek mentioned in an earlier installment.

          •  Resource management (none)
            I've been surprised by how well we've avoided the unpleasant topics by now, but I guess it's time to justify the warning at the top of the Diary.

            If you are taking refuge at a prepared location (home, work, etc.) and things get ugly, you must have a plan for dealing with this situation.  You must also have the will to execute your plan, which could be quite a challenge if you are non-confrontational by nature.

            How much water do you give your neighbor? How much do you give an agressive stranger with two thirsty kids? What kind of pre-set boundaries does each of us put between being a human being and making sure our own families are taken care of?

            I'll share my own thoughts on this, but please understand that this is what I've decided works for me.  Everyone needs to work this issue out for themselves.

            If my neighbor comes knocking, the first thing he's going to get from me is a couple of questions to determine whether he's made use of all of the water resources available to him.  Odds are that he isn't aware of tricks like draining the hot-water tank, which I will be glad to show him.  If he has water, but it's not usable, I will assist him in correcting that situation.  After all, when your water filtration system can handle a couple thousand gallons per cartridge, what's 30 more?

            However...

            If the hypothetical group of one adult with two children shows up at my door in bad shape, with no resources to draw on, I will supply them with one 500mL or 750mL bottle of water per person.  I will also supply them with the location of and directions to the nearest disaster aid station.

            At this point, I will also make it unmistakably clear that returning to my household in search of additional aid is not welcome.  By unmistakably clear, I mean up to and including the warning that I will shoot people who threaten the safety of my family.

            If they require transport to the aid station, and it is absolutely necessary to do so, I will offer them transport in the enclosed cargo section of my truck.  More likely, though I will call my CERT district command post for a casualty pickup and evac to a triage area.

            Note that you must know the location of your community's functioning aid stations in order to get rid of the supplicants in good conscience.

            -AG

            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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:59:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  personal disaster (none)
        as I indicated, credit/ATM cards are perfectly workable in an emergency that is purely personal in scale. (apartment fire/flood/meteor)

        for larger scale issues, as others have pointed out, money isn't going to buy you much.

    •  There are things you can do (4.00)
      It might help you to check the earlier installments, assess what risks are worth preparing for (or as I used to say in the Y2K wars, "fasten your seatbelt, don't buy a freeking tank").

      You can boil down situations to two kinds: those that you can ride out at home (e.g. blackout), and those where you have to leave (e.g. fire). Seriously, you probably already have most of the ingredients of an emergency kit for either situation — you just have to recognize those items and be ready to put them together at a moment's notice.

      As far as storage goes, the non-everyday essentials can probably fit into one of those soft-sided coolers about the size of a six-pack (don't need a whole case). Keep copies of essential records in a different location... a manila envelope left with a trusted relative, for example. For a "bug-out" situation, think about where you would go and figure out how you'd get there — and maybe you can leave some stuff there that will help you get through the aftermath.

      These are fairly simple ideas that apply equally well to your urban home or my rural one.

      Hatred is murder (1 John 3:15)
      You can take a break from politics, but life just keeps a-comin’.

      by dirtroad on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:16:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  documents (none)
        I'm going to stick with my assertion that all you "need" (paperwork-wise) as someone who doesn't own a home, is your driver's license.

        Here's my city scale disaster plan: get out. The people in NO would have been relatively ok if the NG hadn't kept them from walking out. So walk/hitch/use friends.

        When I get to someplace that has working transportation, get on it. Get off in a part of the country far away and with friends who have a couch.

        Sure, this doesn't work if I'm injured in the process, or have kids. But then I have other problems.

  •  Adding to the Disaster List (4.00)
    In addition to the disasters in AlphaGeek's superb preparedness diary(posted in Part 1 of 4), here are some further considerations:
    Natural disasters: Could also include human epidemic (such as avian flu), animal epidemic, insect infestation, windstorms, severe ice/snowstorms, mudflows, volcanic activity
    Civil disturbance: Terrorist attack could also include cyber attack (think communications or banking system down for days), bioterrorism, power supply disruption
    Industrial accident risk: Could also include human and technological failures such as cyber failure (similar to cyber attack)

    For more information on disaster events and taxonomy, see the Disaster Database project, the Emergency Disasters Database or the Canadian Disaster Database

  •  72 hours or likely more! (4.00)
    "In the first 48 to 72 hours of an emergency, many Americans will have to look after themselves." - David Paulison, FEMA Director Nominee

    No kidding, Pauli!!! I think we figured that out! We noticed!

    "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

    by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:25:23 PM PDT

    •  Trimmed from the original draft... (4.00)
      ...to fit in the max size limit for the top part of the Diary:

      Mr. Paulison, a highly qualified emergency-response professional and now the heir apparent to Michael Brown as head of FEMA, made this statement in February 2003.  Recent events have proven him to be an optimist, despite criticism at the time that he was being unduly alarmist.  (As noted in other Diaries at DailyKos.com, this is the same David Paulison who suggested that duct tape and plastic sheeting should be key parts of your preparedness planning, leading to the unfortunate moniker "Duct Tape Man".)

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:35:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, thank you, AG. (4.00)
        Changes it somewhat. :)

        BTW, AG, I am taking your diaries very seriously; I'm just in that kind of mood tonight. I am reading, and paying attention, and really appreciate the advice and attention to this subject.

        "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

        by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:44:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  camping (4.00)
          Also, this diary has made me want to go camping! This self sufficiency stuff is great and it is how we should live. Wouldn't it be great to not depend on the utility companies, etc.  Live like the unibomber except without the bombing part. ;)

          "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

          by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:48:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oh Noooooooo! (4.00)
    How will you get through three days at your place of employment, assuming that movement outside the premises is too hazardous to attempt?

    Don't have to worry about this one much. It's a very small office. If I have to stay cooped up with my boss for 3 days and nights, I'll kill myself anyway.

    Maybe I should just make sure I have razor blades tucked away in case of emergency.

    "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

    by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 05:31:50 PM PDT

  •  canned heat (4.00)
    AlphaGeek, wondered if you're familiar with this - canned heat I think it is called. Wanted to mention it in case you can address it in the shopping part. Not now, but later.

    It came to my attention when everyone and their brother was selling things for Y2K.  Supposedly, you can light it and use it indoors! I bought some, but then eventually got nervous about storing it in my apartment and got rid of it.

    Never did actually test it or try it out. But, if it works it sounded perfect for Denver weather, if there is a blizzard, it's 30 below and the power and heat goes out. Of course, you can use it outdoors too.

    Are you familiar with it? It was a small can about the size of a soup can, but with a lid like a paint can.

    "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

    by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 06:03:55 PM PDT

    •  They use that in chafing dishes at buffets... (4.00)
      It's wood alcohol in a gel.

      Sealed in a can.

      Should be really safe to store.

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

      by wrights on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 06:37:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I used to use it (4.00)
        camping. "Sterno" is the brand name. You used to be able to get little foldup stoves that the can fit in that you could set a pan or kettle on.

        I also have an old stove about the same size as a Coleman stove that takes two cans, but it looks like it's from the 30s or 40s - probably not made any more.

        The cans produce enough heat to cook burgers or a steak or boil noodles, etc.if shielded from the wind.

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:09:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  stove (4.00)
          Now a little stove sounds great. I thought all of them could only be used outdoors though.  That was the good feature with these canned heat things. That you could use them indoors.

          I am mostly concerned with staying warm if the heat goes out. But, coffee and cooking would be nice!

          Thank you everyone for your replies to my original comment.

          "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

          by OLinda on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:28:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  stove (4.00)
            Here's a link or here is a better picture. The guy at the second link tried to heat a quart of water and didn't get it to boil, but a cup or two in a pot with a lid works OK. You can find cheap, small cooksets at K-Mart or similar places in the camping section.

            They are slower than liquid-fueled stoves, but are much cheaper and lighter and take very little space (and you don't have to keep gasoline or Coleman fuel around). Outdoors they need some kind of windbreak or they're really slow to heat something.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 10:24:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Pretty low heat (4.00)
      Those don't give off a lot of heat, so they'd take a long time to cook with.  It'd be all but impossible to boil water I think.  But useful in a pinch, and they'll get/keep things hot.

      "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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:06:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Parafin and sawdust in coffee cans (4.00)
      Somewhere in the back of my recovering Mormon memory banks is a recipe for making similar items for cooking using coffee cans, wicks, and parafin wax(sp?). We made a bunch for my Mom's storage plan...shelf life is like forever....

      I'll dig around and see if I can find it for tomorrow night's 'hardware' and supplies diary.

      Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you..... Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by SallyCat on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:12:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  a tin can, some cotton balls (4.00)
      and some rubbing alcohol .... it'll burn for hours and boils water for coffee fantastic .... heard it from Hattiesburg, MS - coffee on the grill anyone!
  •  Excellent (4.00)
    looking forward to the next Diary- I've been making plans for Fire, Medical Emergency, Burglary,Kidnap,Blizzard,Hurricane , Car Accident, & Just General power outage. I'm really thinking about it instead of just generally worrying. Thanks AlphaGeek!

    A Conservative government is an organized hypocrisy- Benjamin Disraeli

    by vcmvo2 on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:34:03 PM PDT

  •  Three down, four to go... (4.00)
    Or, if you're keeping track of FEMA's predictions, two down, one to go...

    ...ick.  Bad joke, given current circumstances and their current track record in terms of both prediction (good) and response (horrendous).

    Anywho - thanks!  Looking for part 4...

  •  AG, thanks for another great diary (4.00)
    Finally put an ICE number on my cell -- a small step, but a step. We've also started clearing an area in the basement for gear, cat carriers, etc.

    Any plans for a follow up diary, say in a month or so, to see what changes/preparations readers have made?

    •  Sure, why not? (none)
      I'm giving a preparedness seminar for my UU congregation next month, and the plan is to hold a second get-together two weeks after the main event to review plans and discuss results.

      Makes sense that I should do the same thing here.  Great suggestion!

      -AG

      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 Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:11:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  another great tip from Hattiesburg, MS (4.00)
    turkey spam on the grill .... its utterly fantastic when the stores are out, no electricity, no ice ...
  •  What about travel? (none)
    vacation or business--many of us travel a lot, usually by air (and won't have much room in the baggage allotment for emergency gear).  I usually carry a cell phone, small flashlight and a few spare meds, and always travel in comfortable clothes with walking shoes. What else do you recommend travellers think about carrying?

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Fri Sep 16, 2005 at 09:34:36 PM PDT

    •  Travel (none)
      Good question.  Despite the fact that I travel semi-regularly, I don't have a canned answer for this one.  (Sorry, bad play on words.)

      I encourage you to post your question in the Comments following Part 5, which will be up on Monday.  I'm sure you'll get some great suggestions, and hopefully I'll have a more satisfying response by then.

      -AG

      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 17, 2005 at 12:17:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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