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.

Disaster Planning with Pets

For many of us, our pets are truly members of the family. They aren’t employees that are only there to perform a duty. Instead, they are much more like children, albeit with fuzzy faces and a lack of a command of the English language. It stands to reason, then, that we need to consider their needs when we go about our disaster planning.

Now, I’ll warn you in advance that the information here is primarily applicable to those who own dogs and cats. For you folks with other critters, the basic topics covered below will still apply, you’ll just have to adjust accordingly based on your pet’s particular needs.

Food and Water

If you’ve had the pet for any length of time, you should already have a pretty good handle on how much food and water it consumes daily. After all, you’re probably the one filling the bowls, right? Yeah, I know the kids promised they’d do that. Kids promise a lot of things, don’t they?

Extra Cans of Dog FoodStrive to always have enough food on hand to last at least three full weeks. If need be, consider adding some cans of food to the storage in case you run out of kibble. I would strongly caution you to do away with any thoughts of just feeding the animal table scraps. First, there might not be many scraps to be had. Second, human food isn’t easily digested by many animals, leading to upset stomachs, vomiting, and other unpleasantness.

As for water storage, obviously the animals can drink the same water you do. That said, while animals can often tolerate dirty water, such as mud puddles, with no ill effects, include their hydration needs when you determine how much water you should have on hand for you and your family.

Medications

If your pet has to take certain medications on a regular basis, make sure you have extras socked away in case you can’t get to the vet for a refill. Even vitamins and supplements should be included. If need be, talk to your vet about keeping a small supply of medications at home, just in case. Many vets will be happy to help however they can.

Waste Disposal

For cats, keeping some extra kitty litter is a no brainer. Few cat owners let that supply run too low. Your dog can probably still run outside and do their business quickly in most disaster scenarios. But, should something arise where that isn’t a viable option, you might consider keeping a supply of newspapers in a box in the basement. Use these to lay out a spot where Fido can do what he needs to do. I would, of course, highly suggest the newspapers be placed on a hard surface, such as a concrete basement floor, rather than carpet, if at all possible. If you lack a bare floor, you might consider picking up an old kiddie pool at a rummage sale and keeping it in the garage. Line it with newspapers and you’re all set.

Newspaper for your Pet

You might also want to pick up an extra bottle of bleach and several rolls of paper towel to help clean up the messes as they happen, which will help reduce odors. A box of garbage bags will also help in this regard.

Health Records

While you’re at the vet talking to them about medications, ask them to print out a complete copy of your pet’s health record, including immunizations. While we would hope we’d never have to go knock on the door of a community shelter for a place to stay after a disaster, if that becomes necessary they will probably want to see proof your animal has been vaccinated against rabies and such.

Gear

Again, in the event you need to hit up a shelter of some sort for a place to stay, and you have an animal with you, you’ll likely need to keep it contained or confined in some way. For smaller animals, this means a crate. For larger ones, a leash and possibly a muzzle will be required. Be sure to have these items in or next to your home evacuation supplies. What we’ve done is use duct tape to attach a plastic bag to the back of a crate. In that bag is a leash, muzzle, and vet records for our dog. She likes to hang out in the crate from time to time so we don’t want to just leave the stuff in it.

Current Photo

Keep a photo of you with your pet on your phone or stored in some way you can easily retrieve it. Should you and Killer get separated, this is a quick and easy way to prove ownership. Plus, that way you’ll have a photo you can show people who are helping you search for the animal should it get lost.

Our pets rely upon us to provide for their needs. In return, they are there to comfort us (or, in the case of cats, to remind us constantly of their superiority). Take steps now to make sure you are able to keep them healthy and safe, no matter what happens..

Survival Kits for Pets

Emergency Planning for Your Pet

You can also pick up a prepackaged emergency kit specially designed for your pet. The commercial packs are a good start in getting your “ducks” in a row when planning out your disaster plan.

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.

Bug Out Bags vs Long-Term Storage

On one of the more popular survival-related message boards, this question was recently asked.

I’ve heard of a lot of people having two separate supplies – one kit for bug out purposes only and another for long term storage. Is it in my best interest to have both?

To my way of thinking, this is sort of like asking if you need both a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher. While they have related purposes, to keep your butt alive if there is a fire, they serve two entirely different roles.

A bug out bag is a portable collection of food and gear, designed to sustain you for a short period of time as you try to get to a safe location. This could be getting from work to home or it could be traveling from a home that is no longer safe to a secondary rallying point. For most people, the bug out bag won’t have enough space to include food to last more than perhaps a few days to a week. Some could rely upon their skills to augment that food by hunting, fishing, trapping, and wild edible plants, of course. But even so, the idea behind bugging out isn’t to go off and live in the woods forever. You should have a destination in mind and work towards getting there quickly and safely.

On the other hand, home is where you want to be if at all possible. No matter how great your bug out bag is, all it does is turn you into a well-equipped refugee for a time. Home is where you should have enough food and supplies to get you through at least a few weeks, preferably longer. Hard to take all that with you during a bug out.

Do you need both a bug out bag and separate supplies stored at home? Absolutely!

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.

Waka Waka Power Review

This little gadget, friends and neighbors, has made it on to my personal Top 10 list of items most important to have after a catastrophe. I was and still am a big fan of the original Waka Waka light and this new and improved version does not disappoint.

wakapowerchargingtablet

Not only does the Waka Waka Power have very bright LED lights, it can charge your cell phone, all just using the power of the sun. Let the built in solar panel rest in a window or outside for a day (8 hours or so) and it will store that power for about four months. At a full charge, it will take an average smartphone battery from darn near dead to almost full strength in just a few hours. There will even be enough power left over to operate the LED lights for about several hours, all off ONE 8 HOUR CHARGE!

Few people take the time to charge their cell phone batteries on a daily basis. Instead, they let them sit in their pockets until they hear a low battery alert, then scramble to find an outlet. With the Waka Waka Power, that outlet goes where you go. Not too much larger than a deck of cards, it is very convenient and portable.

It will also give you some extra power for your tablets, a couple of hours worth at least. Plenty of time to send out some emails letting folks you are ok or that you need assistance.

If you’re just looking for some extra light, the Waka Waka Power handles that too, giving you about 40 hours of good light on a single solar charge.

Not only is this device great for emergencies, you can take it hiking or camping with you so you always have a way to charge your cell and light the tent.

Hands down, this is one of the best pieces of survival and emergency gear I’ve seen in some time.