Category Archives: Guest Posts

“Disaster Prep For The Rest of Us” Guest Blog Post Ending Due To Death Of Author

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Klamath Alerts Guest Author Dave Robinson Passes Away Suddenly From Heart Condition

For those of you who followed our weekly segment on disaster prep for the rest of us by Dave Robinson the series has come to an end. We were recently informed by Dave’s family that he has suddenly passed away due to complication from a heart condition. Read more

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep “Suicide Mission”

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“Suicide Mission”

I once read of a particular combat unit assigned a difficult mission during World War II.  Their commander called the men together and announced this mission could be very dangerous with the possibility of only one survivor.  Then he called for volunteers, preferably orphans or those who had no known next of kin. At that, the men looked around the room, then every hand went up.  Upon completion of the mission, (there was more than one survivor) the troops were debriefed. When asked why they would volunteer for such a dangerous assignment, many replied, “I looked around the room and thought to myself, “I sure am gonna miss these guys.””

It is human nature to think we are exempt from disaster, or at least some of the inevitable consequences of disaster.  But in reality, that train of thought is a bit of a fool’s errand. To be in denial regarding the outcome of pending disaster is to experience the phenomenon of Normalcy Bias.

Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why, identifies common response patterns of people in disasters and explains there are three phases of response: Denial, Deliberation and the Decisive Moment. With regard to the first phase, described as Denial, Ripley found that people were likely to deny that a disaster was happening. It takes time for the brain to process information and recognize that a disaster is a threat. In the Deliberation phase, people have to decide what to do. If the person does not have a plan in place, this creates a serious problem because the effects of life-threatening stress on the body (e.g. tunnel vision, audio exclusion, time dilations, out-of-body experiences, or reduced motor skills) limit an individual’s ability to perceive information and make plans. Ripley asserts that in the third and final phase, described as the Decisive Moment, a person must act quickly and decisively. Failure to do so can result in injury or death. She explains that the faster someone can get through the Denial and Deliberation phase, the quicker they will reach the Decisive Moment and begin to take action.

Stress has a way of slowing the way the brain processes information.  When the brain cannot find an acceptable response to a situation, it will sometimes focus on a singular and sometimes default solution that may or may not be correct.

Perhaps the very first survival skill that someone could build is to eliminate their normalcy bias or at least make a plan to direct their actions during an emergency.  All first responders have plans to direct their behavior during emergencies. The realization that your comfort zone can change, and change rapidly, is the first step towards being adaptable. It is impossible to think about or plan for disaster if your mind cannot accept that it could actually happen.


As always, send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”, available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Food Storage”

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“Food Storage”

As everyone is, I’m sure, diligently building their food pantry, the matter of storage often comes up.  This is not about food preservation, as I will leave that to the experts. Plenty of information is available both online and there are classes available in most communities through an extension office or similar service.

One of the best options I have discovered for storing bulk food is the plastic bucket.  They are generally inexpensive and unlike plastic totes, are water, air, dust and bug proof.  Most totes leave something to be desired as vermin can somehow find their way inside.

Storing food in plastic buckets can be helpful in a number of ways.  Plastic buckets allow you to store large amounts of bulk foods like grains, pasta and dried beans in lightweight containers to be used in the event of a disaster.  They stack easily and are readily portable. While all plastic does come from petroleum or natural gas, the processes involved vary and affect the purity level of the finished product. That fire truck you just tripped over for the eighth time varies significantly from the plastic in your garbage can, and, more importantly, from the plastic in your water bottle. It is important to be able to identify what the industry calls “food grade” plastic.

Some plastics leach harmful compounds into their contents. To avoid this problem, flip the bucket over and look for the recycling symbol on the bottom. There should be a triangle of arrows with a number stamped in the middle. The numbers considered safe with food are 1, 2, 4, and 5. The best type of plastic is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is indicated by the “2” symbol. HDPE is one of the most stable and inert forms of plastic and all buckets sold specifically for food storage are made from this material.  Other types of plastic acceptable for food storage are PETE, LDPE, and polypropylene (PP). These plastics are represented by the numbers 1, 4, and 5 respectively.  Their symbols also indicate food-related uses.  A symbol depicting a cup and fork verifies “food grade” plastic, as well as radiating waves means “microwave-safe”, a snowflake indicates “freezer-safe” and dishes in water signify compatibility with a dishwasher.

Food grade buckets can be found in most hardware stores and come in various sizes from two gallon to five gallon.  Be sure to pick up lids and a lid lifter for opening. To help keep the bucket air tight, put a couple of layers of plastic wrap across the top of the bucket before snapping the lid in place. Better yet, check out gamma-seal lids.  A gamma-seal lid snaps onto the bucket, then the entire center screws out, making access that much easier.


As always, direct your questions and comments to me at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found at my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep “Storage Solutions”

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“Storage Solutions”

Every self-respecting prepper has the same problem.  Storage. Preppers, by nature have stocked up on all manner of usable goods.  Whether it’s First Aid supplies or food or gasoline or medication, storage solutions must be found for all of your supplies.  Some food items can be canned, frozen or dehydrated. Food must be kept safe from freezing, (unless, of course you want it frozen), dry, free from mice, bugs and other vermin.  One of the best things I have discovered for general purpose storage is a five-gallon bucket (food-grade plastic, of course) with a gamma-seal lid.

A gamma-seal lid is one that snaps onto the bucket, then the main part of the lid is removed by unscrewing.  The whole affair creates an airtight, waterproof seal capable of protecting your stored supplies. Gamma-seal lids can be ordered through several outlets online. Standard lids are fine, but they create a problem when you try to open them (especially without tools) and then reseal the container.  Buckets stack neatly and are easily portable. For more ideas check out www.fivegallonideas.com.

Another tool that comes in handy is a food vacuum sealer.  You know that thing that sucks out all the air and moisture from your salmon, elk and venison steaks.  When you’re putting together your get-home bag, use the vacuum sealer to store items you don’t want to get wet and also to save space.  Not only are food items protected, but so are matches, batteries, ammo and countless other items. Vacuum sealers can be expensive, costing as much as $500, but I actually picked one up for $15.00 at a garage sale recently.  They usually require special bags, but are really quite handy for storing some your essentials.

Then there is first aid gear.  First aid kits are self-contained and usually are designed more for successful marketing than for actual use.  (Sorry, it’s the cynic in me!) Imagine showing up at an accident scene and jumping out of your car to help with first aid kit in hand.  Popping open the lid you find various band-aids, some gauze pads and a small roll of bandage tape. Oh, and maybe a mini-packet of Tylenol.  It’s then you discover the accident victims have injuries of the life-threatening kind and even if you combined all the stuff in your kit, it wouldn’t begin to help.

I carry a kit in the toolbox on my ATV. It is marketed as an “Off Road” kit. I was pretty proud of it until I realized that any accident involving an ATV or hunting accident was going to be way above the paygrade of that little first aid kit.  Having said that, I began accumulating bandages, suture kits and various other over-the-counter remedies to the point I ultimately created my own storage crisis. I finally wound up with a tool box that seems to fill the bill. It’s a plastic one made by Husky with a cantilever-style top and carries a massive amount of gear.  Trouble is, now it’s full.


As always, send your comments, questions and storage solution ideas to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us” is available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

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Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep – Mindsets

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“Mindsets

Astronaut Jim Lovell once said, “There are people who make things happen, people who watch what happens and then there are people who wonder what happened.”  I find a similar set of breakdowns when it comes to disaster preparedness.  

The first group is convinced the sky will fall in at any moment.  Society will collapse, electrical power will be cut off, and gangs of lawless marauders will be running free in the streets.  But this group has it covered, they have planned ahead.  Their “bug out location” is hidden in the mountains, well fortified and stocked with beans, bullets and band aids.  Their “bug out vehicle” is fully capable of carrying all their bug out gear and is ready to spirit them and their family to safety. These people are gung-ho and fully committed to their cause.  For them, disaster preparedness is almost a form of religion to be preached and practiced to a level of high fanaticism. At the other end of the spectrum is the guy who, for whatever reason, has no intention of making any kind of preparations.  When the topic comes up in conversation his response goes something like this:  “Well if anything happens, I’ll just come to your house.” That’s the best way I know of to irritate a prepper.  To which one person answered, “Why would you take food out of the mouths of my children when you had ample warning to prepare?”

No matter where a person finds themselves in this discussion, sooner or later you will be required to rely on what you have on hand.  Whether you have prepared or not.  Your disaster may be nothing more than a wind storm that takes down the power lines between you and the grocery store, or it could be a 9.0 megaquake that devastates an entire region for weeks.  Either way you will fare better with just a bit of foresight, a few of the basics on your shelves and an attitude that says, “We’ll get through this, and hopefully help out our neighbors along the way.”

Most of us, I’m sure, fall somewhere in the middle of the debate.  Not quite fanatical, but not quite complacent either.  So now is the time to get started.  On your next trip to the grocery store, watch for sales, pick up some non-perishable foods strictly for the purpose of setting them aside.  Then the following time, do the same.  Search your closets and drawers for old candles.  You know the ones that are either broken or just don’t match your decor this month.  Presto, emergency lighting.  Dig out your old Coleman stove and fire it up just to make sure it still works.  See how easy this is?  You’re well on your way to being prepared.

For other suggestions check out www.ready.gov or www.redcross.org.  You can review previous disaster preparedness columns at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Comments or questions can always be sent to me at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.   Dave Robinson is an author, pastor, freelance writer and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Building Your Kit”

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Disaster Dave Guest Blog Series “Building Your Kit”

Periodically ,whenever a major storm takes aim at civilization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) reminds us what to put in our basic emergency kits.  Here on the Oregon Coast we have few hurricanes to worry about although we do get some pretty energetic winter storms off the Pacific.  Unlike the Gulf Coast, evacuations are rare because of the storms themselves, but the ensuing floods and landslides are often and reason to get out until things calm down.  Wildfires and chemical spills are also reasons why coastal Oregonians could find themselves bugging out on short notice.  Keeping a well-stocked kit on hand just makes good sense.  Even if you never need to use it, it provides a comforting sense of well-being just having it ready.

Everyone knows they should have a basic kit, but here are a few additional items you may want to consider getting ready:

-Prescription medications.  Check with your doctor and explain why you may need extras.  Many doctors are sympathetic to the cause of disaster preparedness and are willing to prescribe extra meds.  (Depending on the prescription.) The problem is your insurance company probably isn’t quite so sympathetic so you can expect to pay for the extra pills out-of- pocket.  Also don’t forget to rotate your supplies as some medications lose their potency over time.

-Eyeglasses.  Keeping an extra pair of glasses on hand is another example of good planning.  Your optometrist will be happy to sell you an extra pair, but again, if you have vision coverage as a part of your health insurance plan, they usually offer very limited coverage anyway, so plan to pay for the additional cost out-of-pocket.  I have noticed that some optical providers offer 2-for-1 deals from time to time so keep an “eye” out for those.  (Sorry.)

-Pets and pet supplies.  Don’t forget your faithful companions when making preparations.  If they are on some type of medication, ask your vet for additional supplies and explain why.  I keep an extra sack of dog food on hand and continuously rotate it when needed.

For more suggestions, check out  www.ready.gov and spend some time there.  You will find lots of useful information.

Now would be a good time to give the starter rope on your generator a good pull.  I gave mine a couple of dozen good pulls last week with no results.  (Well I was worn out, but that’s not exactly the result I was seeking!) After changing the spark plug, the gasoline and cleaning the carburetor, it now starts on the first pull. Ten minutes after the power goes out is not when you want to learn your standby generator is just going to keep on standing by.  A spare spark plug, some Stabil (gasoline stabilizer) and a spare starter rope are inexpensive insurance for any small engine you may be relying on for an emergency.

As always send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns are on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Supplies List”

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Disaster Dave | Survival For The Rest Of Us | “Supplies List”

Every so often when a major storm is reminding Gulf Coast residents why they should consider relocating, you will find F.E.M.A. reminding people how to stock up.  Here’s what F.E.M.A. says people should have on hand, in addition to a manual can opener, camp stove and sufficient water supply:  (Even for those of us living in comfort on the Oregon Coast, or anywhere else for that matter!)

In the past experts recommended we store at least a three day supply of non-perishable food.  Now those same experts are recommending folks have a fourteen day food supply on hand.  Select foods that require no refrigeration, little preparation and little or no water.  Choose food items that are compact and lightweight. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.

-Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables

– Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)

– Staples–sugar, salt, pepper

– High energy foods–peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix

– Vitamins

– Don’t forget food for infants, elderly persons or persons with special dietary needs

– Comfort/stress foods–cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags

Keeping Food Safe During Power Outages

If your power goes out for more than a few hours, here are some recommendations for keeping your food safe as long as possible:

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full, chest freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.

Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power. Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer.

If the power has been out several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe to refreeze. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved.

Liberal doses of common sense are your best commodity, but staying informed, having your plan in place and getting your kit together can turn a potential disaster into “just another fire drill.”

As always send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com. Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  Previous columns are on his blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep – “What To Do With Poo”

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Waste?  What to do with Poo

One of the newspapers that carries this column sponsors a yearly “Be Ready Expo.”  A well organized and well attended forum that invites vendors, authors, first responders, and all manner of prepper-type folks.

This year’s event was held on a recent Saturday and yours truly was invited to be one of the speakers.  After my presentation, I left time open for a question and answer session.  Not often do I get stumped but a member of this year’s audience asked, “What are we supposed to do with poo?”  I live out in the country, the waste from our family is handled quite nicely by a septic tank system.  It requires no electricity, just gravity, a few million enzymes who break down the unmentionables and then the liquids leech out into the soil.  I might suggest several thousand rural folk throughout the country have a similar setup.  Some setups do require electricity as a pump is involved, but mine is old-school before some engineer decided to improve things.

City dwellers, even those in very small towns, generally drain their waste into the city sewer system with nary a second thought about the end result.  So let’s consider this:  Following a major earthquake, not only will underground fresh water supply lines suffer possible compromise, but equally as devastating, those sewer lines, pumps and transfer points will likely suffer the same breakdowns.  Every sewer treatment (sorry, wastewater treatment) plant runs on electricity.  With a prolonged lapse in electrical power, coupled with fractured pipes, things will eventually begin to back up.

Failure to properly treat human waste will always result in risk of disease outbreak and at the very least, a stinky situation.  When pressing the handle on your toilet no longer rids your home of poo, what will you do?  The experts call this a secondary disaster.  Having survived the first attack, now folks are facing a health hazard of runaway bacteria, stench and overall nastiness.

I am attaching a link (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/article/447707) which offers solutions to the problem.  It seems Haiti and New Zealand both used a similar guide to help with human waste disposal when earthquakes struck their countries.  This printable guide offers solutions by way of building compost (not for gardening) bins.  Mixing sawdust with both poo and pee (in separate buckets) will reduce your “waste impact footprint” and minimize that secondary disaster I spoke of earlier.

I realize I probably just spoiled your appetite, but despite the many comparisons, surviving a disaster isn’t exactly a camping trip.  People will die, some from the cataclysmic event, some from heart attack and some from secondary disasters caused by lack of being prepared for what to do with poo.  Every step of preparation increases your chance of survival. Stay prepared my friends.

As always, send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor, and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Ready Kids”

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“Ready Kids”

None of us would consider going on any kind of road trip without a spare tire.  Few women would entertain leaving the house without their purse.  Just in case.  If you are low on Band-Aids at your house, you stock up, just in case.  Yet often the same people can’t see the need to prepare for a disaster, just in case.  Go figure.

A really great resource is FEMA’s  “Fun For Kids” link.  Go to www.ready.gov/kids. There are games, exercises, puzzles and even a scavenger hunt to get the kids involved in being prepared.  Even a section for parents and another for teachers.  The section for educators has age-appropriate exercises for Elementary level students.  Every child needs their own kit and this will serve to include them in the conversation.  Kids like to be a part of what’s going on with preparations.  To them it’s like getting ready to go camping.  In fact, when you do go camping, take their kit along as a sort of shake-down cruise to see whether or not you’ve missed anything.

Back to the FEMA page, a couple of games will have your kiddos sharpening their skills in no time.  “Disaster Master” takes your kids through several different types of disaster with an interactive approach to learning about preparing for wildfires, tornados, blackouts, earthquakes and more.  Then the “Build a Kit” game provides the kids with choices of what to put in their kit. After selecting items to put in their kit, they print out a checklist with their chosen items.  Lots of fun and very educational for the kids.

Each child should have their own backpack with extra clothes, whistle, flashlight, games, and other items they would need in the event of a disaster.  Use your judgement in supplying age-appropriate items such as a pocket knife, hatchet or fire-starting implements.  And remember to keep it positive!  Do your best to keep out the fear-factor. Keep in mind you don’t have a spare tire because you’re afraid, you have it “just in case.”

Finally there is a bit on WEAs.  Wireless Emergency Alerts are emergency messages sent to cell phones by authorized government agencies to let you know about dangerous weather conditions, emergencies, and other local hazards. Check out this fun and very informative website. Stay prepared my friends.

As always contact me with your questions or comments at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  He is author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

 

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Paperwork Paperwork”

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Paperwork Paperwork

A very big part of disaster preparedness has nothing to do with food, water, ammunition or first aid supplies.  Some years back Hurricane Katrina blew in off the Gulf of Mexico forcing the hasty evacuation of New Orleans.  Never before in history had it been necessary to evacuate an entire major city in the United States.

After the wind died down and the flood waters receded, the population returned to their city.  Some returned to their homes, some returned to where their homes had been.  In many cases all that remained was a foundation, a concrete slab or a set of front porch steps.

When we think of evacuation, we usually have a list that includes clothes, food, tent, sleeping bags, medication and other items needed for survival.  (I didn’t mention the kids or pets, I just assumed they’d be a part of your plan.)  Because the ultimate goal of evacuation is to eventually return home and resume living, it is important that you are able to re-establish yourself in your former life.  Re-establishing is a whole lot easier if your vital documents are intact.  Things like your passport, birth certificate, home insurance policy, the title to your family car, the deed to your home and even college transcripts.

One account I read described the intention of one evacuee to seek employment in his city of refuge until it dawned on him he couldn’t prove his credentials.  He had failed to make copies of his vital papers therefore was unable to prove his qualifications for the job he sought.

Even if the disaster is confined to your home in the form of a house fire, it is possible you could lose all your important papers.  Home fire safes are better than nothing, but the best way is to store copies somewhere off-site.  Banks offer safe deposit boxes just for that purpose.  Another, more high-tech method is to scan your documents and store them electronically.  Documents can be stored on-line in “cloud” technology, placed on a flash drive, or you can simply keep copies at a trusted friend’s house.  Although there is really no substitute for original copies, you can still recover policy numbers, passport numbers and other identifying information from the copies.  When you explain your plight to that guy at DMV, the process is expedited when you can show copies along with your explanation.  So plan right now to sit down and organize your important papers.  Get them scanned or copied and placed in safe location.

Many in my generation have struggled to come up to speed with computer technology and terms like “flash drive” or “stored in the cloud” may seem like gibberish and confusing.  That’s what kids and especially grandkids are for.  They love to prove what they know.  For less than $10.00 you can purchase a flash drive that will easily hold all your important papers and make them easily accessible when needed.

I realize this process of preserving your documents isn’t as exciting as buying a new generator or a hand-crank can opener, but it is still important when trying to pick up the pieces after a disaster.  Stay prepared my friends.

As always send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” can be found on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Gear Check”

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“Gear Check” 

Two weeks ago, a snow storm swept through our region leaving stranded motorists, downed trees and power lines in its wake.  Traffic was at a standstill in some areas for up to sixteen hours waiting for crews to clear the highways.  Stories of communities opening their hearts, homes and churches fill the local newspapers.

Motorists who were stranded tell stories of starting their car every hour for a few minutes to warm up.  Some were more prepared than others.  Some reported having snack food while others had nothing.  One story told of a man who survived on packets of Taco Bell hot sauce for five days while awaiting rescue.

By now most folks are convinced to have at least started a kit at home.  Setting aside some soup mixes, extra water, making sure there is something to cook with if the electricity goes out and all the rest.  Not everyone, however has something in their car.  Because disasters don’t always have the good manners to happen while you’re home, maybe it’s time you started building a kit for your car.  Begin with warm socks, a sweatshirt and maybe an extra coat.  A blanket or sleeping bag is always nice to have along.  Snack food, jerky, crackers, protein bars, and other non-perishables will make you a hero in the eyes of your family.  If you’re on any kind of maintenance medication, start setting aside a few days worth of your meds just in case.  A nice, sturdy tote will usually hold all the necessities.  Human nature being what it is, once you begin a kit, the thing will grow as you can always find more essentials you can’t live without.

For those who already have a kit in your car, now’s a good time to take inventory.  Empty everything out on your kitchen table and toss the crushed crackers. Check the dates on your jerky and give everything a tune-up,  This is also a good time to replace the batteries in your flashlight.  Another reason for going through your kit is to refresh your memory as to what exactly is in there.  How about that disposable lighter?  Does it still work?  Are your matches damp?  Maybe now is a good time to replace matches with dry or maybe waterproof ones. An extra toothbrush and some disposable wipes can make life better in the event you do an overnighter.  Also do you have a way to charge your cell phone away from home.  Most of us carry a plug-in gizmo that goes into the cigarette lighter.  Also those little rechargeable external battery banks can be a lifesaver if your phone goes dead.  I’m partial to Goal Zero, but there are several good brands on the market.

If you aren’t sure what all should go in your kit, go online and check out websites that offer kits.  See what’s in the list of contents.  I’m sure you’ll find things you don’t need, and maybe get ideas for new items.  Your “get home” bag will look different than your kit at home, but no less important if you find yourself stranded far from home.  Stay prepared my friends!

As always, send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is an author, pastor, and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Late Winter Storm”

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Late Winter Storm

Usually this time of year the Southwestern corner of Oregon is brushing off the last of winter, settling in for a few more weeks of coastal rains and looking ahead to some springtime.  A few gardeners will get their peas in the ground and wait for Mother Nature to bring the harvest.  Not so this past week in our region.  Torrential rains closed most schools in the area because of flooding.  Inland and higher elevations received one to two feet of wet snowfall.  Heavy, wet snowfall that brought down huge trees across many roads along with power lines which knocked out electricity to thousands of customers, including entire cities.  More than one small town was entirely isolated for four or five days while rescue crews worked to clear a path so at least gasoline could be delivered for generators.

One acquaintance found herself stranded behind a combination of downed trees and snow along with a Deputy Sheriff, an Oregon State Trooper and a Department of Transportation truck.  She was stranded for thirteen hours while waiting for the road to be cleared.  She reports she was reasonably well prepared as she had some furniture blanket pads, some protein drinks and snacks.  Her van had three-fourths of a tank of gas and she ran the engine only when needed to warm up for fifteen minutes at a time.  She also had some extra clothing which she put on, including warm dry socks.  Regarding the socks, in her words, “Very important!”

On Thursday, I had occasion to call a nearby Home Depot to inquire about a new appliance I needed.  The lady answered the phone, “Roseburg Home Depot, we are out of generators and propane.”  I needed neither but many in the area were without power and generators and fuel was in short supply.

I was able to loan a generator to a relative living in the area.  Their home was without heat or electricity.  The generator gave them their first coffee in four days along with a hot breakfast.

We become complacent when the power company supplies us faithfully with reliable service.  But when weather events provide us with the poster child for disaster preparedness, we are sometimes caught with our proverbial pants down.  Only those who are truly prepared will endure the worst without hardship.

Here are some quick reminders:  If you have a generator, make sure it will start.  Ethanol-infused fuel attracts moisture and over time the gasoline is rendered useless or will turn to jelly, clogging your carburetor.  Then the thing won’t start when you need it most.  Either drain the gas or use a product like Sta-bil to stabilize the fuel.  Starting the it once a month will also help.  When it’s time to shut off the motor, close the fuel valve instead and let the motor burn off the gasoline in the fuel line.  That will help in keeping the carburetor clean.

Maintain your car’s gas tank above the “half” mark.  Keep some snack food in the car, or some jerky, or some Spam, or some……..(fill in the blank).  Extra clothes, including warm socks are always a good idea.  Fresh batteries for your flashlight, Coleman lantern, camp stove, reliable supply of drinking water and some cash on hand.  For a complete list, you can buy my book or check my blog.    Stay prepared my friends.

As always send your questions or comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns are on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep “Before The Lights Go Out”

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“What to do When  Before The Lights Go Out”

Ok, admit it.  You promise yourself every year you’re going to put together a few extra supplies, just in case.  Everybody from the Red Cross to the government, to the local newspaper suggests that you “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, and Be Prepared.”  And every year, you mean to, you really do.  And the next thing you know, there’s an earthquake off in some far away place, or a hurricane on the other end of the country and you think, “I’ve really got to do this thing!”

But where to start?  What to do first?  Which kit to buy?  What will my friends think?  Here’s my approach, “Just pretend that the power goes out all over the area, and you can’t get to the store for at least three days or longer.  (The State of Oregon  is now recommending two weeks.) What are you going to need to get by?”

In the event of a disaster and depending on your priorities, you’re going to need to eat, drink and find your way around in the dark.  And that’s just for starters.  So here’s what you do…Haul out that old camping stove and see if it still works.  Clean it up, put some fresh fuel in it and try it out.  While you’re at it, dig out your lantern and do the same with it.  If you don’t own either and you are solely dependent on electricity for all your energy needs, then you need to at least pick up  a stove.  (Watch garage sales or the classifieds for some real bargains.)  Then make sure you have fresh batteries for your flashlight.  There are lots of battery-powered lanterns on the market.  Kerosene lanterns and candles are just fine, but bear in mind they produce a flame.  Always a fire hazard.

Now, see how easy that was, and you’re on your way to getting your kit together.  And oh, by the way, I don’t recommend folks buy a kit.  There are hundreds on the market, they usually have stuff in them you will never use, items that don’t fit your needs, and, believe it or not, some kits even have low quality components.  It is always best to assemble your own kit.  That way you will know what you have and exactly what you don’t have.  Besides you can go online and see what the commercially available kits have in them, and get ideas for your own.  Just remember, survival is not a kit, but it does help to have a few things together.  Skills and information are more important than stuff.

Disaster preparedness doesn’t have to break your budget, but with a little careful planning, you can, over time, accumulate a few things that will make life a whole lot easier the next time the lights go out.  And if this prompts you to go out and buy fresh batteries for that flashlight in your kitchen drawer, or an extra bag of soup mix,  then it has served a good purpose.

As always, send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep – Maps

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“Maps”

One sure way to get a blank stare from a young person these days is to hand them an old fashioned road map and ask them to navigate for you.  On a recent road trip to Northern California, I asked my twelve year old grandson to do just that.  He is, mind you, “Siri-literate” and can handle an iPhone as well as anyone, by getting computerized directions from a voice on his phone.  But that multi-fold road map was way out of his league.   So here’s something to consider adding to your “get home” bag.  Maps.

I have lived in this area since the early 1970’s and the positions I have held have given me a better-than-average familiarity of the local roads.  If an earthquake occurs while I am away from home, I have a fairly good idea which areas are going to experience tsunami inundation.  I also have multiple routes laid out for a get-home plan. Still I can’t draw an accurate tsunami inundation zone map from memory.  Therefore having an up-to-date map in your kit could prove to be invaluable.  The same goes for those living in flood-prone areas. The same roads tend to flood first and knowing the patterns in your area can be a lifesaver.

Now a word or two of caution.  Although today’s mapping technology is usually linked with GPS satellite-mapping software.  Maps can still be inaccurate, so take a drive and check out alternative routes in your area.  Are the roads actually open?  Are any of the roads blocked by gates?  Now is the time to discover whether or not they are for sure passable, rather than when you’re on the run from a tsunami.  Everyone’s plan is unique, so make sure your plan actually has merit and will get you to safety when the time comes.

Here in Oregon, the  Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) maintains a helpful website (www.oregongeology.org).  Part of their service includes a free app for smartphones. Not only are accurate downloadable/printable maps available, but the app includes inundation zones for the entire coast.  The website also carries a caution regarding the operational capability of cell phone towers after a major seismic event.  Even if you have the app and are familiar with it, download some maps.  And while you’re at it, download maps for any area you are likely to visit.  A good topographic map is another valuable asset.  While most GPS receivers will give a topographic rendering, it’s hard to beat a good quality paper map.

Most of us can find our way to and from major cities without a map.  The question is if you are 100 miles from home and the freeway is closed because of some catastrophic event, do you know your way around well enough to take secondary roads to get home?  Me either.  Make maps a part of your preps.  And yes, I know there’s an app on your phone for Google maps, but will it work when the cell phone towers don’t?  The safety of your family could depend on the answer.

As always, send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep – What’s In Your Trunk?

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What’s In Your Trunk?

A well-known TV ad always asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  Every year we get reports of motorists stranded along the road because of weather conditions.  All across the nation,  reports of icy roads, blizzard conditions and just plain nasty weather are bringing cars to a standstill.  Everybody knows someone who has spent an unscheduled stop either at roadside, in the ditch or a prolonged “rest” stop.  I’m sure this story is repeated dozens of times every year all across the nation.

Some folks fare better than others.  Some are prepared, many are not.  I have had occasion to discuss being “travel prepared” with a few folks.  Invariably they ask me for a list of items to carry.

Here are ten items I recommend:

  1. A blanket.  Try to find one that has its own carry bag.  That will help keep it clean and in some cases, dry.  Remember wool retains its insulating properties even when wet.

  2. Warm clothes.  Sweatshirt, heavy socks, maybe a pair of long johns.

  3. Snack food.  Protein/granola bars, a jar of peanut butter, a few bottles of water.

  4. First aid kit.  Band-aids are always in style, along with some vaseline, and antibiotic ointment.

  5. Cell phone charging cable.  Get the kind that plugs into your cigarette lighter or USB charge port.  Then leave it in your car.

  6. Flashlight/headlamp.  Spare batteries are always a good idea.  I find if you leave batteries in a flashlight for several months corrosion happens.

  7. Tow strap.  If you simply slide off the pavement and need a little assistance, a tow strap will come in very handy.  Now all you need is a good Samaritan with a four wheel drive pickup. Or if you are a good Samaritan with a four wheel drive, you can be a hero.

  8. A deck of cards or an activity book to keep the kids occupied.   Maybe even a book of crossword puzzles to keep yourself occupied.

  9. Jumper cables.  Everyone should have a set anyway.  Again, you can be someone’s hero.

  10. Small, folding shovel.  Maybe you need to toss a few shovelfuls of sand under your tires or move a bit of snow.

I’m sure you can think of more, or for your particular situation your needs may differ.  There are always the fire-starting items, candles, matches, cookpot to heat water for those Mountain House meals, diapers and the list can go on until your trunk is full.

One very good rule is to keep your gas tank above the “half” mark.  It costs no more to run on the top half of your tank than the bottom half.  And when you’re sitting in sub-freezing weather along the road awaiting rescue, it’s nice to know you’re not going to run out of gas. In fact, it’s a good plan to run your engine for ten minutes every hour with the heater on.  Then shut off the engine to conserve fuel.  Remember it is usually best to stay with your car.  FEMA’s website (www.ready.gov) recommends staying with your car unless you can see shelter or a safe location nearby.  If you must travel, remember to let someone know your destination and your planned route.  Then when you arrive, be sure to notify your friends of your safe arrival.  That’s what pilots call a flight plan.

As always send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.  Dave Robinson is author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

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