Category Archives: Guest Posts

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


“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  Previous columns are posted on my blog at  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post | Disaster Prep | Old Storm Great Information


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  For previous columns check out my blog at  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post | Survival Prep |General Preparations


“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  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor, and freelance writer.  He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores.

Guest Post | Survival Prep | Christmas Treasure

disaster prep

“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: 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  You can check my blog for previous columns at  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor, and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, barnesandnoble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post | Survival Prep: Do you know where your flashlight is?

disaster prep

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  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, barnesandnoble, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post Disaster Prep: Evacuation

disaster prep


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  Previous columns are on my blog at  Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep Just In Time

disaster prep

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  Previous columns can be found on my blog at

Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster preparation recent Alaska earthquakes

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Earthquake Wakeup

Last week’s 7.0 earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, should serve as a wake-up call.  Those of us living on Oregon’s Coast know about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the threat posed by it.  Two tectonic plates, the Juan de Fuca and the Continental Plate are locked in a Sumo match about 60 to 90 miles off the coast of Vancouver Island, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.  The experts say when those two plates finally slip, we will see an earthquake of the likes not seen in recent times.  Predictions of 9.0 or better are common when the seismologists speak of the anticipated Cascadia quake.

Friends in the Anchorage area sent photos of their workshop.  It looked like a hardware store dumped a truckload of merchandise on the floor.  Other news photos show busted roads, store goods scattered and videos of teeth-rattling action.  Consider the Anchorage quake registered 7.0 on the Richter scale and the amount of damage experienced was significant.

The most recent Cascadia quake occurred on January 26, 1700.  At the time, there were  no written records kept. There was, however an orphan tsunami in Japan which wiped out several fishing villages.  The Japanese called it an orphan tsunami as there was no earthquake, hence no warning preceding the damage.  Experts surmised an earthquake occurred elsewhere on the planet. Later they connected the dots and coupled with First-Nations lore handed down from one generation to the next, concluded the two were connected.

Core samples taken from estuaries up and down the Pacific Northwest coast tell a story of multiple earthquakes over the past thousands of years.  Over that period of time, the Pacific Northwest has experienced 41 subduction zone earthquakes.  Divide 10,000 by 41 and the answer is 243.  Two hundred forty-three years average between subduction zone earthquakes.  With the most recent in January 1700, we’re due.  Overdue in fact!  We are now nearly 319 years into a 243-year cycle.

According to Kathryn Schulz writing for New Yorker Magazine, “Twenty-two per cent of Oregon’s coastal population is sixty-five or older. Twenty-nine per cent of the state’s population is disabled, and that figure rises in many coastal counties.”

Local authorities are quoted “We can’t save them, I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll go around and check on the elderly.’ No. We won’t.” Nor will anyone save the tourists. Washington State Park properties within the inundation zone see an average of seventeen thousand and twenty-nine guests a day. Oregon authorities estimate up to a hundred and fifty thousand people visit Oregon’s beaches on summer weekends. “Most of them won’t have a clue as to how to evacuate, and the beaches are the hardest place to evacuate from.”

Schulz continues, “There are estimates that in the I-5 corridor it will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service, six months to a year to restore major highways, and eighteen months to restore health-care facilities. On the coast, those numbers go up. Whoever chooses or has no choice but to stay there will spend three to six months without electricity, one to three years without drinking water and sewage systems, and three or more years without hospitals. Those estimates do not apply to the tsunami-inundation zone, which will remain all but uninhabitable for years.”

I never write to cause concern or fear, but to motivate folks to awareness and action.  If a shocking analysis brings action, so be it.

As always send your questions and comments to  Previous columns can be found on my blog at

Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Survival prep -Rechargeables

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The evolution of technology has brought us from the age of the gas-pumping Coleman lantern, to the battery-powered emergency lights to rechargeables to solar powered gadgets.  Companies like Goal Zero have raised the bar for emergency lighting when the grid is breached.

Rechargeables are one of my favorites because there are no worries about keeping fresh batteries on hand.  Still there is a weakness.

I have a Black and Decker “Storm Station”.  The rechargeable battery powers emergency lighting and even has a built-in inverter to provide 110 volt AC for small appliances (for a short time).  The instructions said to plug it in, and when the need arises, you’ve got emergency power, light, even a built in AM/FM radio.  Now to be fair, the radio runs off D cell batteries.  The rest of the unit is powered by a rechargeable 12 volt battery.  The problem is this;  you plug it in and leave it for say, three or four years.  Come time to use it, the battery is toast.  The reason you bought it was to light your unlighted abode.  And you’re still in the dark.  Fortunately the problem is an easy fix.  You take the unit apart, get the battery number, match it to one on Amazon and bingo, problem solved. Trouble is, that doesn’t help you in mid-disaster.

Here’s what I propose.  Plug in your rechargeable unit.  Once fully charged, unplug it.  After that, plug it in for a day or two at a time every 30 days.  That will keep it topped off without burning out the battery.  Then when the grid goes down, you’re golden.

I even rescued a new-looking rechargeable lantern from a trash can once, took it home, ordered a new battery and voila, it worked like new.  Someone had bought it, plugged it in for a couple of years and tossed it when they thought it was somehow defective.

Earlier I mentioned Goal Zero.  If you’re interested in buying your prepper a great, high quality gift, check out Goal Zero.  From a solar-powered “crush light” ($19.95) to a 3000 watt portable power station, the Goal Zero Yeti is capable for powering up your refrigerator (for a limited time) and sells for a mere $2,399.99.  Powered by A/C or solar panel, the rechargeable battery is rated at 3075 watt hours of storage and has no fewer than ten outlets including USB, 12-volt and 110 volt plug-ins,  Goal Zero also offers a wide range of solar panels, both portable and stationary.  There is a great selection of lighting items along with high-quality power banks and phone chargers.  I have found their products to be well thought out and nicely designed for the prepper/survivalist.

The holiday season is upon us and between slick roads, winter weather and increased fire hazards in the home, it is your responsibility to stay safe and yet be prepared for any disaster.  Now is a great time to check your battery supply and make sure your rechargeables are functioning.

As always send your comments and questions to  Previous columns can be found on my blog at

Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep Holiday Planning

Holiday Preparedness

My mother had a saying, “Christmas comes the same time every year, two weeks too early!” She was an elementary teacher and there were always parties, programs, pageants and presents for which to prepare.  This year seems no different.  December’s calendar fills up pretty quickly and the Big Day will be upon us in no time.  

For thousands of folks living in the Chico/Paradise, California, area, this Christmas will be especially difficult.  Thousands have lost their homes, hundreds are missing and the death toll is nearing the 100 mark.  For many there can be no real celebration at a time when the rest of the world is making merry.  Disaster has a way of ruining celebrations.

Every year we read reports of holiday tragedy in the form of house fires.  Make sure your home and family are safe this season by following a few simple safety rules.   Inspect your Christmas tree lighting for worn wiring, overloaded circuits and and if you are still using those screw-in bulbs, make sure there are no broken bulbs or exposed filaments.  One of every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. 

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious.  On average one of every 40 reported home Christmas tree structure fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported structure fires.  A heat source too close to the tree causes one of six reported Christmas tree fires. 

More than half (56%) of home candle fires are a result of something flammable situated too close to the flame.  There are a significant higher percentage of candle-related fires in December than other months of the year.

If you’re still putting up a “real” tree every year, make sure you keep it well-watered.  If you’ve ever burned your tree after Christmas, you know how fast it can go up in flames.  

Here are a few more tips from the experts: Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.  Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents.  Get rid of your Christmas tree immediately after the holiday.  Connect no more than three strings of mini lights, or no more than 50 lights of the screw-in variety.  

Oh and one more thing, keep your fire extinguisher handy.  It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to explode in flames.  No time to run out to the garage and grab your extinguisher. 

Winter is statistically the worst for home fires.  Cold weather coupled with holiday decorations and over-burdened heating and electrical systems boost the danger-factor significantly.  Take care of your family this year and walk through your home with “fresh eyes” looking for anything that may cause a fire.  Let’s keep our families and homes safe this holiday season.  Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

As always send your questions and suggestions to Previous columns can be found on my blog at Dave Robinson is the author of Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us .” He is an author, pastor and freelance writer.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep Tips For Seniors

Tips for seniors

The topic of Disaster Preparedness seems to resonate more with Seniors than with the younger set, partly because of vulnerability due to special age-related issues.  Many Seniors live alone and some are dealing with health or mobility issues.  Yet most have developed a level of wisdom often accompanied by gray hair.  A wisdom that says something bad can really happen because they have lived through at least one disastrous event in their lives.

The mantra of “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, and Be Informed” still applies to the mature crowd and there are many low cost-things Seniors can buy and no-cost plans they can make to avoid that feeling of helplessness and despair.

In my humble opinion, the single most important thing anyone can do to prepare for a disaster is to organize their neighborhood.  And it doesn’t cost a cent!  Contacting your neighbors, especially fellow Seniors can build a sense of community and camaraderie along with an assurance no one need to face adversity alone.  Introduce the topic at the Senior Center, your church group or the quilting club.  Collaborating on projects can not only bring some peace of mind, but just may bring some new friends into your life.

According to the American Red Cross it is still your responsibility to know what to do when disaster strikes.  Remember, the first responders are going to be overwhelmed and Y.O.Y.O.  (You’re On Your Own).

First thing to do is gather enough supplies to get by for several days without going to the store.  In the event of an earthquake, or any impending disaster, the stores will sell out within hours and there will be nothing to buy anyway.  If you live in a location that requires evacuation, you will want to store your supplies in totes that have wheels.  Easier to move that way.

If you require a cane, walker or wheelchair, be sure to label it with your name, address and phone number just in case you and your equipment get separated.  Either that or store your supplies with a friend out of the danger zone.

Remember to rotate your supplies.  Keep an eye on the “best if used by” dates.  Then simply rotate your stored supplies into everyday use.  Also shift your batteries, medications and other perishable items before they expire.  Keep in mind you may want to stock up on certain medications.  Most doctors are sympathetic to your needs regarding planning for disaster and are willing to cooperate by prescribing most maintenance medications in advance.  The difficult thing here is to get your insurance to get on board with that concept. So any advance preparations you make in that regard may have to come out of your own pocket.  Then be sure to take special care to mind the expiration dates on your meds. 

I’m told that most medication doesn’t actually “go bad” but it does tend to lose its potency and effectiveness over time.  Also try to see your way clear to pick up an extra pair of eyeglasses.  Some of us have enough trouble keeping track of our glasses even without a disaster, so adding a pair of drugstore “cheaters” to your kit just might not be a bad idea either.

As always send your questions and comments to  Previous columns can be found on my blog at  Dave Robinson is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Guest Blog Post: Disaster Prep Food Part II

Jump Start Your Food Supply Part II

    Last week we began a shopping list of groceries to get started with your food storage plan.  These are everyday items you can buy at any grocery store.  All the experts recommend storing food with which your body is already familiar.  In the event of a disaster, everyone’s system is under stress and introducing strange food into your diet will only serve to sideline you at a time when you need to be 100%.  

    Don’t try to do this all at once.  Watch the sales, shop the bargains and buy what you know.  You can get the dehydrated meals if you like, and they will keep you alive, and they do look good stacked in your pantry, but I’m willing to wager that you’ve never tasted them.

    If you missed last week’s column, you can check my blog (see below)  for a complete list.

11. 10 lbs of pancake mix.  Buy the “just add water” variety, such as Krusteaz. Simple to make, easy to fix and everybody’s familiar with hotcakes.  Don’t forget a jug of syrup

12.  2 lbs of honey and 2 jars of jam.  Everybody needs a little sweetness.

13.  10 lbs of pasta. Again, easy to fix, familiar to everyone and a great comfort food.

14.  10 cans or jars of spaghetti sauce.  Goes great with the pasta.  Cheap and satisfying. It’s not homemade, but it does dress up the pasta.

15.  20 cans of soup or broth or soup mixes.   The beauty of soup is that they are a budget friendly, all-in-one meal solution and most require only water for preparation.

16.  1 large jug of cooking oil. Olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut or some other cooking oil, but definitely get some.

17.  Spices and condiments.  “Spice” up your pasta and oatmeal with some of the spices you already have in your cupboard and are accustomed to using, but lay in some extra.  Garlic, pepper, tabasco, all your favorites.

18.  5 lbs of coffee and 100 tea bags.  For some of us life just isn’t life without our coffee.  Tea can be therapeutic and soothing as well.

19.  2 large bags of hard candies.  Peppermints, butterscotch and lemon drops can go a long way toward making a hard situation bearable.

20.  Flashlight and extra batteries.  Lots of extra batteries.  Ok, I know, this isn’t edible.  But you can never have enough flashlights and batteries. 

    Now I know what you’re saying.  There are a lot of essentials I forgot.  Remember this is a “starter” list.  Some might say we need flour, wheat, yeast, and other baking necessities.   Quite frankly a whole lot of folks today don’t have a clue what to do with flour, nor do they have an oven that works without electricity.  Those things, and others, are important and should be a part of every food plan so don’t pass them up for your comprehensive plan.

    As always, send your questions and comments to  Check my blog for previous columns at  Dave Robinson is  the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers.

Survival Info: Jump Starting Your Food Supply

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Whenever a person thinks of prepping, the first thing to come to mind is food.  What to store, how much to store, how to store, and which store to go to?  There are all kinds of food packages you can purchase.  You can get a year’s supply of dehydrated or freeze-dried fare for $4,000 (Costco) or a 72 hour kit for one person at Wal-Mart for $64.00.

This week I’m going to give you a list of items you can buy at your local grocery store, things you would probably have on hand anyway.  The dehydrated kits you buy generally tout a 25-year shelf life.  So the normal things you purchase, should be rotated out every few months or so.  One rule of thumb when it comes to storing up food;  buy food your body is accustomed to eating!  During a disaster, your system will be on overload anyway, and there is no benefit to introducing a whole new menu to your gastric system in a time of crisis.

Some people lay in backpacking freeze-dried food to be eaten when the time comes.  That is all well and good, unless you have never tried those entrees and you experience a revolt of sorts when you’re already stressed out anyway.  Store up food to which your body is already accustomed!  Or at least you know the kids will eat.

Here’s the beginning of a shopping list:  (The second half will come next week.)

1.  20 lbs of rice.  Rice seems pretty boring, but it is filling, nutritious and adaptable to a wide variety of entrees.

2.  20 lbs of pinto beans.  Beans are also a valuable part of every storage plan.  Combined with rice they fulfill a protein need in your menu.

3.  20 cans of vegetables.  Green beans, peas, corn and canned tomatoes are a good start.  Buy what you already eat and enjoy.

4.  20 cans of fruit.  Peaches, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail, all to your taste.

5.  20 cans of meat.  Chicken, tuna, shrimp, salmon, vienna sausages, beef stew and don’t forget Spam.  Those square cans fit really well on the shelf and if it’s fried, you can make the kids believe it is “camping bacon.”  It worked for my kids anyway.  I even recently found some canned roast beef.

6.  4 lbs of oats.  A warm bowl of oatmeal can be a welcome meal any time of day.  Topped with some canned fruit, it makes a refreshing treat.

7. 2 (or more) large jars of peanut butter.  A good source of protein and surprisingly filling.  Tastes good too!

8.  Pick up a supply of powdered drink mix.  Tang, Crystal Light or similar product.  Make sure it’s loaded with vitamin C.

9.  5 lbs of powdered milk.  It’s great protein and is loaded with other nutrients.  It’s filling and can be used on that oatmeal as well.

10.  5 lbs of salt.  Salt is an essential for survival as well as a food enhancer.  Our bodies need salt to survive.

 You don’t need to fill this shopping list all at once.  Watch for sales.  Pay attention to the “buy one, get one” promotions.  Use coupons.  One reader told me she saved several thousand dollars in just one year by using coupons.  At the same time she built a substantial pantry for use in a disaster.

As always, send your comments and questions to  Previous columns can be found on my blog at  Dave Robinson is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers.

Emergency Prep Guest Column 10-19-18

In This Segment: Financial Readiness

Disaster victims at all levels face the same challenges when it’s time to rebuild after a disaster or emergency.  Sooner or later the dealing with the issue of finances and managing your personal affairs will need to be addressed.  Having your personal financial, medical, and insurance records organized before disaster strikes will  take off a load of stress when you rebuild after the big event.

FEMA’s website,, offers the following tips for dealing with the business end of a disaster:

Gather all your crucial financial, legal, personal and medical information.  This can mean scanning copies of your insurance policies, vehicle titles, divorce or child custody papers and storing the copies electronically to a flash drive or on on the cloud in an environment you can access from a different computer.  Sometimes it’s just important (and simple) to be able to provide a policy number.

Put aside some cash at home.  Disasters routinely disable ATMs or any means of using a debit or credit card.  Having cash on hand in the form of small bills can help make those necessary fuel, food or supply purchases.  How much cash you tuck away depends on your personal situation.  If you can manage more, tuck away more.  Make sure you save small bills and (I shouldn’t have to mention this, but) keep it confidential.

If you don’t have it, get insurance.  Homeowners, renters, health and life insurance will all help with the process of recovery.  If you already have insurance, be sure to review your policies so you are comfortable with the amount and extent of coverage you have in place.  If you have trouble understanding your policy, go see your insurance agent.  It’s his job to make sure you understand your policies.  That’s one reason you pay those premiums every month.  Also note most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage, so you may need to purchase additional flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program if you live in a potential flood zone.

Here are a few random items you may want to consider.  Veterans, make sure you have a copy (originals are better) of your DD214.  Photos or scanned copies of social security cards, birth certificates, passports, car titles, photo IDs for family members and mortgage information.  The list goes on and on.  Just ask anyone who has lost everything in a house fire how many things there are to replace and you’ll understand your life will be so much easier if you have planned ahead and followed this advice.

If you receive retirement checks through the mail, now would be a good time to have those deposited directly.  If the U.S. Mail isn’t running and you can’t get your check, at least it will be in your bank account on a hassle-free basis.  If you are one of those that doesn’t trust direct deposit, get over it.  I have been having my paychecks and now social security checks directly deposited for 35 years and I have never missed a beat.  It makes things really simple when you’re out of town or can’t get to the bank for some reason.  The deposit has already been made for you.  I can remember delaying travel plans for the simple reason I had to wait for the check to come so I could get it in the bank.  No more.  The twenty-first century is upon us folks, might as well get updated.

Planning your financial well-being isn’t as exciting as buying supplies or even a new gun, but having your stuff together will make you a real hero when the time comes to rebuild after a disaster.

As always email your questions and comments to  Older columns can be found on my blog at  Dave Robinson is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.