Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep – Amateur Radio

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“Amateur Radio”

Ever since Marconi tinkered with wireless transmissions in the early 1900’s,  people have been fascinated with communicating via the airwaves.  Today there are over 700,000 amateur radio licenses issued to private individuals in the U.S.  In our rural county alone there are approximately 300 license holders.  Granted not all of those are active, some haven’t touched their radio in years and some are simply no longer with us.

Amateur radio operators (also known as “hams”) have played a vital role in disaster response for decades.  Groups such as A.R.E.S (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) and R.A.C.E.S. (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) are well established and have good working relationships with other disaster planners and first responders.  Many cities have ham radio stations set up at the hospital, the City Hall and the Fire Department.  In the event of an emergency this equipment is designed to operate free from the electrical grid and would be manned by personnel from A.R.E.S/R.A.C.E.S. to provide vital communication services for communities.  Emergency communications networks can keep the local responders informed of developing events, while having the capability of communicating on a global basis.

One might think with internet technology  such as Skype or Facetime making video calls to loved ones all over the planet, amateur radio would be relegated to the dustbin of “last millenium technology”.  Quite the opposite is true. Over the past five years the Federal Communication Commission reports issuing nearly 25,000 new licenses.  Digital radio equipment is less expensive and more powerful than ever before.  When an earthquake or similar event could sever fiber optic cables and bring down electrical grids and internet service, a battery powered ham radio can still transmit and receive vital messages throughout the county and around the world.  Even to outer space.

During my time in Viet Nam, every G.I. knew if he wanted to call home, he would simply go to the local M.A.R.S. (Military Amateur Radio Station).  The M.A.R.S. folks would make ham radio contact with another ham operator in the States, who would in turn initiate a collect call to your home then do a “phone-patch” and presto, you could talk to your loved one.  Of course half the planet could listen in on your call and after every phrase you had so say “over” so they would know when to key or release the microphone, but it was a touch from home.  Those calls were considered invaluable to preserve the sanity and boost morale of our guys half a world away living in unspeakable conditions.  So on behalf of a multitude of Viet Nam Veterans, I’d like to extend thanks to all those amateur radio operators we never got to meet or thank in person.

If you’d like more information on becoming a ham operator, contact your local A.R.E.S./R.A.C.E.S. club or go online and check out the Amateur Radio Relay League at www.arrl.org.

Note: Our local ham radio organization is Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association – KBARA

 As always, send your questions, comments or ham radio stories 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 also the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival Prep -“January 27th”

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“January 27”

As I sit down to write, I make note of today’s date;  January 27.  It was on this date in 1700 the last major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake unleashed its energy on the Pacific Northwest.  It was one hundred years later when Lewis and Clark arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River.  At the time of the quake, the only residents were First Nations people and they had no means of conveying events to their descendants other than storytelling.  Some native stories tell of a giant wave that put canoes in the treetops and other tales of destruction caused by a gigantic shaking.  It is believed the landmass dropped by as much as ten feet during the event.  At the mouth of the Copalis River in Southwestern Washington is a salt water swamp containing several cedar stumps.  Conventional knowledge says cedar trees don’t grow in salt water, therefore the only logical conclusion is this grove of trees was once on higher ground and when the quake struck, the high ground dropped to sea level. An analysis of the growth rings on the trees narrowed down the date of the quake and confirmed suspicions.

The reason scientists know the exact date is because an “orphan tsunami” struck the coast of Japan on that date.  An orphan tsunami is one which has no earthquake associated with it.  Several fishing villages were wiped out and thousands of lives lost.  Later scientists were able to connect the data and determined the tsunami was caused by a Cascadia Subduction quake off the coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

Seismologists have determined by taking core samples from coastal estuaries there have been some 41 large quakes in the region over the past 10,000 years.  That’s an average of one very major seismic event every 242 years.  If you do the math, we are now 319 years since the last quake making us several decades overdue.

Municipalities, county governments and state agencies are all making preparations to be able to survive the next big quake.  Private electrical utilities, along with many public entities, including the U.S. Postal Service, all have plans to quickly resume operations following a disaster.  One state agency planner I spoke with recently informs me their vehicles (and they have several) are now equipped with a disaster kit contained in a backpack.  Each pack includes items for shelter, safety, food and water.  The packs are evaluated yearly and various essential items are added.  In addition, every vehicle carries a comprehensive first-aid kit.  Most employees receive training and are certified in caring for the injured.

My point is, government agencies are taking the threat seriously.  Most communities along the coast have identified tsunami zones, escape routes and plans are in place to deal with the aftereffects of a large earthquake.  Every hospital is required to have disaster drills and most medical facilities have temporary tent-style shelters ready to erect when needed.  One hospital combines an annual drill with a free, drive-through flu shot clinic.  Not only are hospital staff trained in emergency procedures, the public is being conditioned as to where to go and what to expect.  While at the same time, getting a free flu shot.  All these things will save lives.

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.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post – Survivor Prep – Evacuation: To Go Or Not To Go

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“Evacuation:  To Go Or Not To Go”

There is a concept among preppers known as “Bugging Out.”  I remember the term from watching reruns of M.A.S.H.  Whenever Radar O’Reilly, Major Henry Blake and Hawkeye were ordered to move their Mobile And Surgical Hospital unit to a new location, they would make plans to “bug out.”  Today’s preppers use the term to describe an evacuation process to be executed when the current abode becomes too dangerous to stay put or uninhabitable.

The likelihood of evacuation in our area is usually minor.  Our weather events don’t equal the hurricanes of the East Coast and Gulf Coast states.  Nor do we get the blizzards of the northern regions of our country. Wildfires notwithstanding, those living in our region have had isolated instances of evacuation due to flooding and landslides in the past, and for those living in the tsunami inundation zone, bugging out should be a part of your action plan.

You can be assured if I lived in a major city or in the hurricane zone, my preparation plans would include how to get my family and supplies out of town on short notice.  (Or in prepper lingo, “Out of Dodge.”)  Living in rural Oregon we have several things to our advantage.  Our relatively sparse population is far more self-sufficient and more good-neighbor minded than  city folk.  If you’ve ever watched the news during a big storm or hurricane in a densely-populated area, you see looting and other outlaw behavior.  Not exactly conducive to the “come on, let’s work together to get through this” mindset so vital to community survival and workable in a small town.

There seems to be a segment of society always on the cusp of criminal behavior.  This group of potential criminals allow themselves to be drawn over the line of unacceptable behavior at the slightest provocation and loot, pillage and even worse when they know the police have their hands full with other matters.  You can bet your emergency generator this group has never laid in an extra flashlight battery or can of Spam.  Their “plan” such as it is, will be to take your supplies in the event of a disaster.  This is precisely why, if I lived in a metropolitan area, I would be planning to “get out of Dodge” if necessary.

If you have relatives or loved ones in the big cities, send them a copy of this column and suggest they make plans to ‘bug out’ if the need arises.

If you’d like to read more on the topic of bugging out, there is an excellent blog titled, “Listening To Katrina.”  The author was forced to evacuate his family in the face of Hurricane Katrina.  The blog is over 100 pages long so consider your ink supply before you hit the “print” button.  He has a very balanced and intelligent approach to preparedness and bugging out.  Another of my favorites is a book titled, “One Second After,” by William Forstchen.  This book has been cited on the floor of Congress as one all Americans should read.

As always send your questions, suggestions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  Previous columns are posted 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 | Disaster Prep | Old Storm Great Information

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Old Storm, Great Information

October 2002.  Hurricane Sandy (later downgraded to Superstorm Sandy) slammed most of the East Coast, traveling across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and north, up the Eastern Seaboard to Canada.  Sandy killed several people and left $65 billion in damages in the United States alone.  Shortly afterward, an email came my way of one man’s experience with Sandy.

Following are highlights of his observations:

  1. The excitement, novelty and “coolness” wears off after day three.
  2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without electricity, water or heat.  Never!
  3. Just because your generator is running like a top does not mean it is producing electricity.
  4. If you do not have water stored up, you are in trouble!  A couple of cases of bottled water is not water storage.
  5. Even the smallest little thing you get from the store should be stocked up.  Things like an extra spark plug for the generator, barbecue lighter, batteries or matches.
  6. It is surprising how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window.  Three people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of here.  I didn’t say three fights broke out, three people were killed!
  7. Cash is king.  All the money in your savings account does you absolutely no good.
  8. You eat a lot more food when you are cold.  You also need more food than you think when your kids are out of school for two weeks.
  9. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
  10. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to an electrical panel or you the guy whose Masters degree in accounting suddenly means nothing.
  11. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candlelight over the barbecue or an open fire is worth her weight in gold.
  12. All the stored food in the world is useless if your kids won’t eat it.
  13. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start showing up at your door?
  14. You really do not want to be the “unprepared parents,”  the kids turn on you pretty quick.
  15. There was a strange peace knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.
  16. Some people totally shut down in an emergency, there’s nothing you can do about that.
  17. Your town, no matter how small, is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.  If supply trucks stop rolling due to road damage, fuel shortages or for any reason, you could be without for a very long time.

    Food for thought.  Your questions and comments are always welcome at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com  For previous columns check out 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 | General Preparations

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“General Prep”

When the topic of disaster comes up, we tend to think in terms of earthquakes, hurricanes, and blizzards as those are the events that get all the attention  However, in reality residential fires are the most common disaster nationwide.  Every year more than 2500 people die (that’s seven people per day) and nearly 13,000 are injured in home fires across the nation.

Deaths and injuries can be minimized when families establish and practice a home fire escape plan.  The American Red Cross says on average you have only two minutes to escape a structure fire.  F.E.M.A. recommends practicing your home fire escape plan twice a year.

Here are some tips:

  1. Find two ways to get out of each room.

  2. If a primary exit is blocked, you will need an alternate escape route.  A second story room might mean using a ladder to get to safety.

  3. Make sure windows aren’t stuck and screens can be easily removed.  If security bars are in place, make sure they can be properly opened.

  4. Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.

  5. Place smoke alarms on every floor of your home.  The Red Cross recommends placing one in each bedroom.

  6. Replace your batteries every year, and replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.

Fewer and fewer households in our region are burning wood for heat anymore, but if you still enjoy the comforting warmth of a wood fire, make sure your chimney is cleaned and inspected each year.  Various kinds of wood burn in various ways.  Some burn slowly and some burn faster.  Different kinds of wood and different conditions leave various levels of creosote inside the chimney.  Every chimney should be inspected annually for safety and cleaned, if necessary.

Successfully preparing for the disaster of a home fire is no accident!  It just may save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Disaster preparedness isn’t rocket science!  Simply consider a game of “what if” and then make plans for what can go wrong.  Lay in supplies, keep your gas tank on the upper half and always have a back-up plan.  Many years ago when I was a student pilot, my flight instructor told me that a pilot always keeps an emergency landing area in mind, just in case.  This is no small feat in Western Oregon where there isn’t an abundance of flat, level farmland on which to park an airplane.  The point being, you’ve always got to have a plan in mind in the event the whole system collapses.  It helps to plan ahead.

This is never about causing fear, this is about stimulating some thought and preparing for the “just in case” events that may or may not come your way.

As always, send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.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 bookstores.

Guest Post | Survival Prep | Christmas Treasure

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“Christmas Treasure”

    Now that the winter holidays and the mystery and excitement of Christmas gift giving is behind us, it’s time to settle into the New Year and get serious about all those new “resolutions” for which we always have such great intentions.  I heard once that we judge ourselves by our intentions, but we rate others by their actions.  If that’s the case, we always give ourselves high marks, even if we don’t keep those New Year’s resolutions.

    As for the gifts, I find it humorous, preferred and altogether fitting to receive prepper-type gifts for Christmas.  Back in the day when .22 ammo was less expensive, we routinely exchanged bricks of .22 shells for stocking stuffers.  Even so,  it was almost considered ho-hum.  Then during the time when .22 ammo was completely unavailable, it lost the “ho-hum” factor and was highly prized. Although ammo is more readily available now than in the recent past, I don’t believe we had one single box of ammo given as a gift this year in our home.  There was, however, no shortage of paracord, solar collectors, solar-powered lights, multi-tools, knives, LED flashlights and all other kinds of prepper-type stuff.  Even a case of Mountain House freeze-dried food was gifted to one family member.  So, for future reference, if you’re thinking of putting together a kit, find out what item your loved one is missing and fill the need.  Can’t go wrong with prepper gear.

    Now for those New Year’s resolutions, and I can’t find anyone who still makes them anymore, so maybe I’m way out of vogue on this one.  But if you’ve been thinking about building a kit, just in case, now’s your chance.  Start small, but get a tote, cardboard box or a backpack and put in a few things, just in case.  You can park it inside your closet, beside your front door, or even in your car’s trunk.  Get a list of items and one by one, add to your kit.  If you can’t find a list, email me and I’ll send you one.  Just get started.  If you drive one vehicle and your mate drives another, then get two backpacks.  Here’s a hint:  lapolicegear.com sells a really nice 3-day backpack for $42.99.  It makes a great starter kit.  If you’d rather keep things at home, pick up a nice large tote at your local hardware store and fill it with your necessities.  That snap-on lid will keep vermin at bay.  The point is:  Do something!  As time goes on and you accumulate supplies and gear, you’ll thank me.  Not only that, your kit will grow and I predict this time next year, you’ll outgrow your backpack, or you’ll need two totes. And that’s a good thing.

    As always, send your questions, comments, or requests for a list to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.  You can check my blog for previous columns 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: Do you know where your flashlight is?

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Do You Know Where Your Flashlight Is?

    As I write this, the first notable storm of the season is blowing in off the Pacific.  A moderate amount of rain coupled with predicted wind gusts of up to 80 mph makes for that howling, drumming sound we have all learned to recognize as our regional storms.  Reports of electrical power outages in the area have already been reported, along with some flooding caused by increased runoff.

    Considering this, it’s time already to make sure you know where your flashlight is.  Do you have extra batteries?  Batteries are like duct tape, you can never have an excess.  Is your cordless drill charged up so you can screw plywood across that broken window (for your neighbor, of course)?  And naturally you have a box of screws for just that purpose.

    My wife and I are privileged to have our two grandsons live with us.  For those of us who have children in the house, there are some simple things you can do to set their minds at ease in case the electricity goes out, or worse.  Storms are naturally scary for kids because of all the racket outside.  Then when a tree goes down across a power line amidst all that noise, suddenly the house goes dark, the TV dies and the XBox quits at the worst possible time.  The sudden darkness can be upsetting to kids and if you’re prepared with emergency lighting and other readiness items, you can go a long ways toward making this a “camping in” experience rather than one that causes needless drama.

    You could even gather the kids around the table some evening and talk to them about disaster preparedness and how important it is to know where things are.  Then turn off the lights  and tell them “we’re having a drill.”  See who can find a flashlight first.  You could possibly assign other tasks such as selecting someone to stay with the baby, or have them pair up as in the Boy Scout days of using the buddy-system.  Only one rule, no turning on any lights.

We tried this at my house recently.  My adult daughter and two grandsons participated.  The 14 year old grandson provided light within 60 seconds.  One thing I hadn’t counted on was handheld mobile devices are usually equipped with an LED light.  Seems like kids are much more aware of the capabilities of their phones than most grownups.   Also the outside yard light provided some light with which to find our way about.

When your electricity fails, be sure to reassure the kids there really is nothing to worry about.  Talk to them about what may have caused the outage, and that crews are out in the storm right this minute working to restore service.  In most cases the lights come back on in a few hours and life returns to normal.

Children learn to take their cues from the adults in their lives.  If the grownups are panicked, then children will likewise be undone.  But when your attitude is, “I’ve got this,” then the kids are comforted in the understanding the grownups really do have the situation under control.  When you have made some simple preparations and are ready to handle the unexpected, it will serve well to bring stability and avoid all the drama associated with fears.  Be sure to ask the kids if they’re afraid, and what are they afraid of?  Reassure them you are there with them and nothing bad is going to happen.  Tell them you have plenty of food and supplies and remind them they are warm and dry and because you are a wise and caring parent you have already prepared for just such an emergency.  No worries.

As always send your questions, comments and suggestions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.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: Evacuation

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“Evacuation”

Reports coming out of Butte County, California, describe the drama of an entire city evacuating on the run from wildfire.  Disaster preparedness experts prioritize various levels of evacuation depending on how much time the residents have to leave.  For many in Paradise, California, there was no warning.  No casual announcements from mobile loudspeakers, no gentle urging from the authorities, just a panicked mass exodus trying to outrun a fire bent on destroying an entire region.  Stories of common folk displaying uncommon bravery saving lives and property are constantly being reported on the internet.

       Evacuation is also referred to as “bugging out.”  (You remember that from watching all those old reruns of M.A.S.H.)  Then there’s T.E.O.T.W.A.W.K.I., short for “The End Of The World As We Know It.”  Evacuation is only necessary when it is imminently likely that your humble abode will no longer be “abode-able”.  Maybe your house is on fire, maybe there is a wildfire on the way, or maybe a Category 5 tornado/supercell is bearing down on you.  Or as some in our region experience every year, rain-swollen streams have placed your home in imminent flood danger and you are ordered to evacuate.

       Some experts suggest the need for three evacuation plans.  A 60 second plan, a one hour plan and a twelve hour plan.  So let’s pretend you wake in the middle of the night with the smell of smoke in your house.  After much panic, screaming and frantic rushing about, you get your family and pets out of the house, hopefully without injury.  That’s an example of the need for a 60 second plan.  I have a theory that the panic and screaming factor will be reduced in direct correlation to how much planning (and rehearsing) you have already practiced.

Situations like the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, are extremely rare.  Almost always, residents are given ample time to evacuate.  On the other hand if the authorities tell you a wildfire is headed your way or the flood waters are rising or that tornado is developing and you have one hour to get out, you still need a plan.  More planning equals less panic and screaming, which equals less stress on the marriage. What to take, what to leave behind, who to notify and oh yes, where to go.  When deciding where to go, consider this, there is a term for someone who leaves their home with hopes of escaping to some unknown place of ‘better-ness’.  They’re called refugees.

The 12 hour plan is also known as the “Just in Case” plan.  “C’mon honey lets gas up the car, hook on to the RV and stock up on toilet paper, just in case.”  This also gives you time to sit down make a list, (if you don’t already have one) empty the fridge, unplug your flat screen TV, your computer and even flip the master breaker on your electrical panel.   But then those things should already be in your plan.  All in all, we can diminish the damage from a natural disaster and better our chances of survival by simply taking some time to “Make a Plan.”

As always if you have any questions or comments email me me at 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: Disaster Prep Just In Time

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In September 1976, Soviet Air Defense Command pilot, Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, flew his highly classified MiG 25 fighter jet to Japan, landed at an American Air Force Base, defected, and asked for asylum. Part of his acclimation to American culture was to allow him to travel randomly through the United States.  One of the observations he made was everywhere he went, the stores were full of fresh, healthy produce.  Not rotting and unappetizing as he had experienced in his native country.  He was certain American officials had predicted his moves, gone ahead of him and staged the “fake” displays just for his benefit.

Every few days we make a trip to the local grocery store.  Under normal circumstances we make our purchases and fill our shopping lists with nary a thought about how all those items came to be so plentifully available for our needs.  We want them and there they are!  Simple as that.  Unbeknownst to most of us, our grocer’s shelves are filled using a technology known as “Just In Time” inventory management.  Commonly referred to in the business as, “J.I.T.”

Excess inventory is a waste of company resources, (translated: costs go up), while too little inventory is damaging to customer confidence.  “They NEVER have what I want!”

To maintain that delicate balance of inventory, J.I.T. is maintained with a set of precise and delicate shipping schedules from a variety of vendors to keep our stores stocked so we consumers always get what we want.  At the same time, the razor-thin profit margin is protected by this oh-so-fragile system we have taken for granted.

So let’s pretend for a moment there is a glitch in the system.  A major cataclysmic event notwithstanding, say an ice storm in a major city which serves our area.  Highways are closed, trucks can’t get to the distribution points and our stores don’t get their inventory.  Most retailers know if their J.I.T. schedule is interrupted, their shelves would empty in 3 to 5 days.

Just pretend you go to the store and notice some bare shelves.  Your curiosity kicks in and you ask an employee what’s going on.  “Oh our trucks can’t get here due to the ice storm and we don’t know when we’ll get more supplies!  It may be two weeks or more.”

You, being a rational person decide stocking up right now would be a very good idea.  That is IF there’s anything left to stock up on!  As soon as word gets around, panic buying soon follows!

Past experiences show during imminent hurricanes, or major snowstorms, the stores clear out within 3 to 4 hours. Now factor in an earthquake in your region and let your imagination run.

In case you were wondering, there are no local, government warehouses stocked with emergency supplies set aside for our use during such an event. Even the food banks are dependent on donations from various sources, both public and private, but they are not equipped to provide for the needs of the general populace in an emergency.  The only sure source of feeding your family is what you have on hand.  If the J.I.T. infrastructure failed, how long before you are in deep trouble?

The best thing you can do is begin now by setting aside some of the items your family uses anyway.  Watch the sales.  “Buy one get one” or BOGO sales are great for setting aside extra groceries.  One “coupon” person emailed me several months ago and let me know she saved over $8,000.00 on their grocery bill over a year’s time by “coupon-ing”, and a by-product  was she accumulated a significant amount of groceries to be used in an emergency.  Whichever method you choose to build your food supply, just do it!  (Thanks Nike!)  Before long you will have enough extra that if there indeed is an interruption in the supply chain, it will have minimal effect on you and your family.

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.

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