Civil Unrest Preparedness

It has become increasingly common to see and hear news reports of riots, looting, and other forms of civil unrest in our cities. The causes are varied but the fact is, if you live or work in an urban area, you are at risk of getting caught in the middle of a potentially violent situation.

Preparing for Civil Unrest

Civil Unrest

Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to do if you find yourself in a bad spot is to get out of the area as quickly as possible. If you are on foot, don’t try to go “upstream” through the moving crowd but instead move perpendicular to the forward motion, pushing to one side of the crowd. Once you are out of the thick of things, keep moving away from the area, cutting down side streets if possible. Link hands with those who are with you so no one gets left behind.

If you are in a vehicle, you may find it a bit tougher to keep moving. Keep your windows rolled up and your doors locked. Do the best you can to keep going forward until you can turn down a side street. However, if you’re not familiar with the area, watch for signs that indicate the side street is a dead end so you don’t trap yourself.

For those who live in urban areas, civil unrest can be a two-fold dilemma. Not only might you get caught up in the thick of things when you’re out and about, the riots and looting could make it unsafe to even leave your home.

This is one of the many reasons why I encourage people to have enough food, water, and other necessities in their homes, sufficient to last at least a couple of weeks. That said, impending rioting and looting in your immediate area would be one of the rare occasions where I’d suggest you give serious thought to bugging out to a safer location until things settle down.

There is a documented psychological effect at work in large groups. Often, it is called mob mentality. It is actually pretty scary when it happens to you. Without any real thought, you’ll find yourself mimicking the actions of those around you.

Their emotion becomes your emotion. The issue at hand might have originally had absolutely no bearing on your life but suddenly it has become your passion. You’re angry, you’re upset, and you want to do some decidedly nasty things.

Later, you’ll be at a loss if asked to explain what happened. It’ll all just seem to be a blur. If you find yourself getting caught up in the moment, try to remember to take a step back and breathe for a moment or two. Clear your head, calm yourself down, and give just a second or two of thought to the situation. Doing so might help keep you from doing something you’ll regret later.

Offgrid Cooking Solutions

As you journey down the path of disaster readiness, you’ll no doubt amass some sort of food storage. This might be special freeze-dried and/or dehydrated foods or perhaps just simply stocking up on some extra canned goods and other “normal” foods your family eats regularly. Whether you take one particular approach or maybe a combination of the two, you should also plan for various methods of cooking food in the wake of a disaster.

One of the first things to go when a crisis hits is power. Suddenly, that microwave oven is just one more bit of clutter on the kitchen counter. Many people have electric ovens and stove tops too, which won’t be working. Fortunately, there are many possible options for offgrid cooking.

Offgrid Cooking Options

Cooking with a CampfireThe simplest, at least in terms of advance preparation, is a campfire. After all, mankind has been cooking over an open flame for thousands of years. If this is an option for you, I would suggest you lay in a supply of branches and split wood and practice cooking in this way from time to time.

There is just as much art as there is science to campfire cooking. Keep in mind, you’ll typically get more heat, as well as a more constant temperature, cooking over glowing coals than you’ll get cooking over the actual flames.

Of course, many of us already have charcoal and/or gas grills on our decks and patios. These work very well for cooking just about anything you’d prepare over a regular stove burner, provided you have fuel for the grill. If you have a charcoal grill but run out of briquettes, you can always just use sticks and branches, making sort of a contained campfire.

Patio fire pits are also very common and serve as portable campfires. Again, be sure you have fuel for them. If you want to explore this option, what I suggest is you hunt around for an old grill grate and place that over your patio fire pit. This will make things much easier when it comes time to warm up water for coffee or hot chocolate.

Folding Camp StovesFolding camp stoves are great to have on hand for emergencies. Very small and compact, they won’t take up much space on a shelf in the garage.

While you won’t be preparing any elaborate, five course meals on these nifty little gadgets, they work great for a can of soup or stew as well as boiling some water to purify it.

Larger gas camp stoves are also excellent additions to the home preparedness gear. Again, you’ll need to stock up on fuel for them.

You could go with the small propane tanks they sell for camping or invest in a converter so you can use the larger tanks you’d have for a patio gas grill.

Moving one more step up in the chain brings us to rocket stoves. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The basic idea is you’ll have a combustion chamber at the bottom of the stove, where you’ll burn biomass like sticks and branches. Rising up from that chamber is a chimney, carrying the heat to the top where you’ll have your cook pot. Because of the way these rocket stoves are designed and insulated, it doesn’t take much fuel to create quite a bit of heat.

My suggestion is to plan for at least three different ways to prepare food during an offgrid emergency. For example, have a gas grill on your deck, plus a patio fire pit and a spot in the yard for a campfire. Always be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand for each method, too. A great addition, as well, is a tripod grill. You can find these at any camping store. They consist of three metal poles that are set up like a teepee, with a chain running down from the top to a circular grill. These work tremendously well if you’re cooking over a campfire or patio fire pit.

Emergency Food Storage for Home

How much food do you have in your home right now? If you had no way to buy more, for how long could you feed your family using only what you have at this moment?

What’s in Your Pantry?

What's in Your Pantry?If it is anything less than a couple of weeks, you really need to consider stocking up. Sure, you could subsist on bagged popcorn and nachos for a day or two, if you really had to do so. But, there are many relatively common types of disasters that could strand you and your family at home for several days. A few years ago, this happened to a friend of mine. A huge ice storm hit her area. It caused widespread power outages that lasted for weeks. While roads were relatively save to travel after a couple of days, there just wasn’t anyplace to go as stores weren’t open due to the lack of electricity.

Storing Food for Home Emergencies

I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a couple of pallets of freeze-dried food to squirrel away down in the basement. In fact, I would caution you against any action like that. Instead, follow a couple of proven caveats when it comes to food storage.

Store what you eat, eat what you store

Instead of purchasing a ton of stuff you’ve never had before, stick with the foods you and your family enjoy, just keep more of it on hand. That said, concentrate your long-term food storage on items that, well, last a long time on the shelf. Things like rice, pasta, and canned goods like veggies, fruit, and soups.

Look, the fact is that our bodies grow accustomed to eating certain foods. Toss in something new and our digestive system sometimes gets…confused. Often, the result is we feel sick, sometimes only mildly so but other times it can get pretty bad. If the power is out and the water pressure is sketchy at best, do you really want to add stomach upset to the mix?

Rotation, rotation, rotation

Rotate Your Food SuppliesStoring the foods you regularly eat helps with rotating the supply so things don’t go bad before they’re used. There are various systems people use to keep their long-term food storage up to date. Some create massive spreadsheets on the computer and religiously change the quantities as items are purchased or consumed. Others just have a notebook kept in the pantry and pencil in changes as necessary. Another tactic is to use a marker to date every item put into the pantry so they can be sure to always use the oldest stuff first.

However you accomplish it, the important thing here is to use and replace food before it gets stale or goes bad in some way. Having a massive pantry won’t do you much good if the food is only marginally edible by the time you need it.

Can you cook without a nuke machine?

Bear in mind that if the power is out, your microwave oven, as well as your electric stove top, won’t be options for cooking your emergency food supplies. With that in mind, there are several options available, from charcoal or propane grills to camp stoves. If you have a spot to make one, even a campfire will work. Whichever methods you plan to utilize, and note the plural there, as you shouldn’t rely on just one single solution, be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand. Personally, I keep a minimum of two propane tanks for my grill filled at all times, rotating them out and refilling them as needed. I also have several bags of charcoal for my kettle grill. On top of that, I have a camp stove and a patio fire pit.

Pocket Stove with Fuel

Emergency food storage is important, as is having plenty of water, first aid supplies, and other gear on hand in the event of a crisis. Even the U.S. Federal government is requesting citizens to have enough supplies on hand to meet their own needs for up to three days, at a minimum. As we’ve seen in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, that three days can stretch out to several weeks rather easily.

Preparing for ISIS

With the recent beheadings by the terrorist group calling themselves ISIS, the world has received a wake up call to the most extreme of extremists. Their ultimate goal is to create a caliphate in the middle east and then to spread its reach to the entire world.

These are not cave dwellers with a half baked plan and delusions of grandeur. They’ve already militarily taken over a large portion of Syria and a large swath of neighboring Iraq. The humanitarian bombings of the US to help stranded civilians has done little to nothing in stopping their advances. Indeed, they are holding major cities and towns within Iraq and have kept them for some time now.

ISIS terrorists

Given the world’s timidity in doing any actual fighting, these brutal religious nuts see nothing that is going to stop them from achieving their goals. An insider who defected from ISIS, but still holds their beliefs, has told us in no uncertain terms that their ultimate goal is conquest. His plain and simple statement gives clear intentions of their goals:

“The main and principal goal of the Islamic State that they tell their new members is to establish an Islamic state that will encompass the Arab world,” the man said in Turkey. “And after that, we go to other countries.” Source: CNN

Other countries, including Britain and Australia, have stated they have credible information on impending threats of attack. The US, thus far, has not raised it’s threat level stating they have no specific information on any imminent attacks.

With the southern border easily infiltrated, it won’t be any surprise when an attack occurs on US soil either by someone who has gotten through the border or by a cell already inside the country. Large scale targets can be mass casualties in any major city or by simply disrupting the electrical grid system causing massive power outages across the country.

Experts have been saying for years how vulnerable our country is to this kind of attack. A major impact would be its disruption of the distribution of food and water. Grocery stores would not get restocked, thus preventing people from getting their nutrition in the only way they know how. If there is a large scale power outage that affects a large portion of the country, the food in people’s refrigerators and freezers would not last and citizens would have no way of getting more food to eat. They would literally starve.

While nice to think and try to believe that things like this can never happen, it has already happened.  It’s happening right now in Syria and in Iraq. And if the terrorists get their way, it will happen in other parts of the world as well.

Food Emergency - Wise Company Gourmet MealsStocking up on food and water doesn’t seem so crazy when real threats like this exist. Many of our readers here and those akin to preparing for contingencies such as hurricanes and other forms of natural disaster have most likely already started a food storage program for themselves and their family. It’s like an insurance policy that pays you in food to eat when enacted.

Freeze dried food purchased beforehand gives you that insurance policy that you don’t have to cash in for up to 25 years. That’s how long it lasts and can be there for you when you really need it. Our recommendation is Wise Food Company Gourmet Meals. They are chef designed and pre-prepared. All you need to do is add water.

Preparing for Hurricane Season

It’s hurricane season again and time to make sure we’re prepared to get through what Mother Nature dishes out. From June 1st through November 30th of each year, there is higher chance of one forming in the Atlantic basin and reaching the US.

Preparing for Hurricane SeasonNow that we’re relocated in Florida, the hurricane season takes on a bit more significance. It’s more than just a slight possibility that we’ll be affected by a tempest now, than it was when we were further up the east coast and more inland.

Even during regular rain storms here, power goes out. Usually it comes right back on but it’s already went out for over an hour one day this year. So I can predict with near certainty that if a hurricane were to hit this area, we’ll be out of power for who knows how long.

Getting Ready for a Hurricane

Hurricanes bring torrential rainfall and extremely dangerous high winds. The combination can be damaging to homes and businesses yet they don’t come without warning.

With today’s technology, we know when they transform from a tropical storm into the real McCoy and even the projected path they’ll follow with relative confidence. Knowing all this beforehand lets us know its coming and to get ready to either evacuate or hunker down and ride the storm out.

Preparing for either option is best and it goes without saying that you should already have a survival or emergency kit inside your vehicle at all times. Your home should also have some things on hand to help make life easier when Mamma Earth comes a knocking.

Assuming your home is structurally sound enough to withstand the abuse of the gale force winds (or else you’d evacuate, right?), you can pretty much expect to be without power. Without electricity, you can’t flip a switch and have the lights come on. You can’t cook on your electric stove or use your microwave to heat up food. Your freezer and refrigerator won’t have the power to keep your food from spoiling for very long.

These things will happen. If it’s only for a short period of time, it’s not a big deal. But as time goes on, the longer it takes to get the power restored, the more life will be more difficult. There won’t be hot water to take a shower and there may not be any running water at all for toilets to even flush.

Think about how you’ll adapt to these conditions beyond the having extra batteries for your flashlight. If your refrigerated food goes bad, what will you eat? How will you heat up your canned goods that you have in the cupboard? You may not need to heat it up, but a warm meal is a major comfort in a situation like this.

Above all, a clean source of water is necessary. Having a supply stored for such a “rainy” day is a good idea so you’ll be set when you need it. In the case of a hurricane, you’ll have warning so you can fill up your bathtub and as many containers as you can before it hits. Just be sure to have thought this out so you can get into gear as soon as you know it’s coming.

Emergency Radios are Important

Every home should have at least one if not a few portable radios that can be used in the event of a power outage due to severe weather. Of course, there are many different types available — wind up, solar, battery.

At the minimum, you want an emergency radio that will pull in AM/FM signals as well as weather bands.

wind-up-radio

What I suggest is having one emergency radio in the kitchen or other common area of the home. The idea is to have it out in the open, where you can easily grab it and turn it on if you hear a weather siren or something.

Then, have a second radio stashed in your basement or storm shelter. This way, you’ll always have at least one with you in an emergency.

These radios are very important as they will help keep you informed as the situation develops. Tornadoes in particular can crop up very quickly and learning of their existence and location is critical. You can’t just rely on TV or news broadcasts on your smartphone because there likely will be at least a short delay between when they receive the information and when it gets transmitted out.

You’ll get the information faster from weather spotters who report directly to your local weather service. Minutes, even seconds, count!

Tip for Emergency Communications

I’ve lately been watching a new DVD called Surviving Civil Unrest by Chance Sanders. A full review is coming shortly but suffice to say, I’m blown away by how much great information is presented.

I don’t want to give it all away but I did want to share one tip I’ve gleaned that y’all might find useful.

It should go without saying that being able to stay in communication with separated family members or people in your survival group is very important.

Having some sort of formal plan to cover this will be very beneficial. Given that no one may know ahead of time exactly what the crisis might be or what limitations there may be on the ability to communicate freely, here is one way to plan ahead.

In your survival plans, have it set up such that after a member of your team or family has made initial contact, they will attempt further contact during a designated time window, say the first ten minutes of each hour. It should be understood that those at home should not attempt to contact the individual but that he or she will make contact, if able, during that time frame. This allows the individual the freedom to turn off their cell phone or whatever in case they find it necessary to go “radio silent” as they make their way home. Those at home should concentrate on monitoring for received communications during that time window and spend the rest of the time implementing any other survival plans that may be necessary.

The Prepper Continuum

I’ve been doing this prepper thing for a long time now, roughly thirty years and counting. While I missed the heyday of people like Kurt Saxon and Mel Tappan, I did get started right around the time Ragnar Benson’s books became wildly popular. We’re talking the mid 1980s or so.

This was back when the Cold War was still at its height and survivalists near and far were concerned about the Soviets finally pushing the button. There was a lot of talk about underground bunkers and fallout protection.

Flash forward a little less than two decades and the concern became Y2K. Oh no! All the computers are going to crash because some nitwit forgot to account for the year 2000 in the electronics and programs.

Today, the threats have changed a little. Now, for end of the world type threats, we talk about EMP, the Yellowstone caldera, increasingly severe weather, the New Madrid fault, and yes, even nuclear war, primarily thanks to the window licker currently in charge of North Korea.

At the same time these threats have morphed into other concerns, my own prepping style has changed. In talking to other preppers and survivalists, I’ve learned many of them have gone through the same developmental process, at least to one degree or another.

We’ll call it the Prepping Continuum.

It all starts with building a survival kit. Call it a bug out bag, a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) kit, or an I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) bag, it all amounts to the same basic thing — a collection of gear and supplies to keep you alive. From there, the plan becomes focused on bugging out. Head for the hills and live in a debris hut, eating food you’ve caught or hunted.

As the prepper gets older, and hopefully wiser, he begins to think, Y’know, I’m not 20 years old anymore. Living in a grass hut just doesn’t appeal, at least not as a long-term solution. By this time, the survivalist may have a wife and children in tow as well, which obviously complicates things. So, the focus shifts to more of a shelter in place plan. After all, that’s where all the gear is, right? Better to be ensconced at home than become a well-equipped refugee.

Go a little further down the Prepper Continuum and you’ll see things change even more. Now, instead of just thinking about hunkering down at home, the prepper is looking to connect with others and maybe set up a group of sorts. Many hands make light work, y’know? By coming together, the group may be better able to meet everyone’s needs, especially when it comes to someone watching your six while you zonk out for a few hours.

Eventually, at the far end, opposite the bugging out forever stage, you come to the idea of living in a settled and established village or small town. One that already has a doctor’s office or two, a dentist, and a whole ton of rural folks who know how to do more with less and make do or do without. In other words, a community of preppers, though they might think of themselves as homesteaders if anything at all.

Where are you in the Prepper Continuum?

Prepping For Lockdowns

What with almost all of Boston being placed on lockdown as authorities hunt for the second bomber, as well as countless lockdown situations occurring recently from coast to coast, I thought it might be a good idea to review preps you want in place in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

There are several types of incidents that can cause a lockdown. Most commonly though, it is due to some sort of manhunt. Could be someone with a possible firearm was seen walking near a school, for example, which has happened at least a couple times locally. (Turned out, in one case it was a pellet gun and in the other it was an Airsoft pistol, with neither incident involving any sort of malicious intent.) Often, these lockdowns last maybe an hour or two, but obviously there is no way to reliably predict how long it could go on. Therefore, it is a great idea to prepare ahead of time. After all, if I were a betting man, I’d lay pretty good money that as we go forward, we’re going to see more rather than less lockdowns.

There are only a few real priorities you should keep in mind when prepping for a lockdown.

Food and water top the list. While you probably won’t be hunkered down for a day or two, it could be that it happens just as you were planning to go out for lunch, you missed breakfast, and the vending machines at work are too far away to get to easily. Keep a bottle or two of water in your cubicle or workspace, as well as a couple granola bars or something similar. If you feel particularly generous, keep enough on hand to feed your co-workers as well.

Another priority is a way to communicate, or at least get information. For most people, they count on their cell phones more than they probably should. As we saw in the aftermath of the bombings in Boston, as well as in previous disasters, cell towers get overwhelmed and the service becomes unreliable at best. A simple battery operated radio will help you keep abreast of developments in the area.

lockdown

A lockdown kit is something I also suggest parents put together to send with their kids to school. Just some snacks and a couple bottles of water in a plastic bag will suffice. The child should keep this in their desk or locker. While many elementary school teachers often try to keep a stash of snacks, Murphy’s Law says the day they forgot to stock up will be the day they need them the most.

Lockdowns can be very stressful but by planning ahead you can mitigate the anxiety at least a little.

Keeping Clothes Clean Without Power

While doing laundry would seem to fall pretty far down the list of priorities after a disaster, it is actually fairly important. Wearing clean clothes is not only hygienic but a great morale boost. But washing clothes without the assistance of a washing machine, or even running water, is labor intensive.

Post-disaster laundry can be done much easier if you plan ahead.

You’ll need a five gallon plastic pail with lid, a plunger, a hacksaw, and a drill for this simple project.

Start by cutting out a small hole in the center of the bucket lid. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use your drill to make a hole large enough to accommodate the hacksaw blade, then saw around in a circle. The resulting hole should be just large enough for the plunger handle to fit though easily.

Then, drill 5-7 holes in the plunger, like so:

plunger

At this point, you are essentially done building your new washing machine. To use, fill the bucket about 1/3 with clothes, then pour in just enough water to cover them. Add a little detergent. Thread the plunger handle through the lid, then snap the lid onto the bucket so the rubber part of the plunger is inside. Agitate the clothes by plunging up and down.

You don’t need to pump that plunger like you’re using a manual railroad car either. Just smooth and steady motions will do the job. Incidentally, this is a great chore for the kids in the house.

How long you need to agitate will depend on just how dirty the clothes are, of course. For lightly soiled clothing, 5 minutes or so might be enough.

Once the clothes are clean, you’ll need to rinse them in another bucket. Then, hang them on the line to dry.

Due to the small size of the bucket, you aren’t going to do a ton clothes at a time, of course. But you should be able to do several pair of socks, some underwear, and a couple shirts at a time.