Archive for February, 2010

Chile shakes, rattles and rolls while New England quakes under another blanket of heavy snow and high winds……

It has been a busy time for preparedness and emergency folks over the last week of February, hasn’t it? What with the big snow storm, which really wasn’t so big and the earthquakes down in Chile, there wasn’t much time to dream of preparing for the big one. For many, the big one can in style.

The snowstorms dumped a lot of snow in some places, relatively speaking, but the reality is that 20″ of snow isn’t actually that bad for most folks. You can still drive around if you have experience and decent tires, and a yearning for adventure. The problem is, most people don’t have the capacity to drive in snow with the vehicles produced today.

Lightweight bodies and all season radials may be good for everyday driving, and work ok when it is slick with light snowfall, but the cars are not heavy enough, and the tread on today’s tires isn’t aggressive enough to get the traction one needs to drive safely in a snowstorm.

The storm’s damage crept through the northeast and northward Friday, after closing the schools in New York city for only the ninth time since 1982. Imagine that? And outages increased in New Hampshire as the storm traveled on. Approximately 265,000 customers of Public Service of New Hampshire were without power by Friday night, — an increase of more than 40,000 homes and businesses from when the day started. As areas still grappled with fallen trees, damaged lines and impassable roads the scene continued to deteriorate. Conditions were similar in Maine, which reported 138,000 customers without power. But with more than 70 roads closed or impassable (some 30 inches fell in the western mountains), according to Lynette Miller of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, repairs were slow and often treacherous for employees.

Here in Maine, thousands were still without power Saturday night, with many not expected to be returned to service for several days.

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Perhaps a bigger news story was the major earthquakes reported from Chile. Starting with a reported 8.8 magnitude quake on early Saturday morning, eastern time, the weekend rock and rolled around the world with one quake after another rattling the South American country. Chile has seen at least magnitude 6.0 or above quakes along with dozens of smaller ones in the 5.0 to 6.0 magnitude range, according to the USGS. Also, we can add to the concern the areas of Ryuku Islands, off of Japan, where they’ve had three or more, Eastern Honsu, Japan; Northern Sumatra, Indonesia,; off the coast of Ecuador; Mendosa, Argentina; the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan; the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge; and Salta, Argentina, who’ve all had one or more 5.0 0r above earthquake during this same time frame.

I might be wrong here, but this seems to be out of the norm, at least for everyday earthquake activity. Especially considering the magnitude. Earthquakes occur all over the world on a daily basis, bit this is a lot for any one region, no matter how you look at it. Why is that?

The US and Canada felt at least ten earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or above, with none over 4.0. many were in California and Alaska, but there were some in Canada a few hundred miles to the northwest of Lake Champlain. There was also one(4.4 Magnitude) centered in Oklahoma, near Sparks.

Just goes to show that these things can show up at a party like an unwanted relative. There’s no way to predict when or where an earthquake will strike, but how many of us are prepared for the moment when one does strike?

I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that there may well be a 7.0 magnitude or above in the wings for Los Angeles in the very near future. With the South American Tectonic Plate obviously on the move, it can’t bide well for the San Andreas fault line.

If an earthquake does occur where you are at, what should you do? Here’s what FEMA suggests you do during an earthquake:

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

If outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

 

Let’s hope I’m wrong that we won’t see the San Andreas throw a hissy fit and create havoc with a quake to shake LA in the next two weeks.

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You know, some things in life are just too stupid to comprehend, and not being prepared is one of those things. Why’s that you ask? Because we are not a nation of morons, and yet we so often act like a moron, especially when it comes to emergencies or disasters. Take the stormy weather we’ve had over the last three day’s for instance. It’s had rained for the last three days straight, ending sometime over the wee hours of this morning.

The result of all that rain and accompanying high winds only led to the inevitable, and should have been expected power outages and downing of trees across the roadways. So what happened? People panicked in the wake of last night’s final deluge and this morning’s lack of electricity. I lost no power, I usually don’t where I live, but many people had lost it. The result was pandemonium and a bunch of people screwing up my breakfast because they couldn’t fend for themselves. Which only demonstrated to me once again that it isn’t going to be the asteroid falling from the sky that gets us, but our own lack of good sense. Many areas of the part of Maine I’m received over five inches of rain, and I heard tales of there being over two feet of snow dropping from the sky above in the western and northern parts of the state.

So it should have come as no surprise that there would be locations without power this morning. It’s Maine, it’s February, and it’s stormy. What else should w expect? I normally eat at fast food joint in the morning because it’s across the street from where I work. Not exceptional food by any definition, but it’s convenient. Imagine my surprise when the doors were locked to the lobby. They were locked not because they had no power, but because they were serving drive through traffic only this morning. I don’t like eating in my car, by the way. Apparently, the power had been out, but came back about an hour before I showed up. There were so many people coming to get breakfast because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t fend for themselves at home that they were overwhelmed by the business.

So, I got back in my car and went to another fast food joint. They were serving eat in, but the place was packed. There were so many people there that a business that was normally pretty empty had standing room only. And all I kept hearing was complaints about how shocking it was, how bad it was, how nobody had power and on and on and on….

Makes me want to puke, really. My normal routine was mucked up because none of these people were prepared to deal with a minor inconvenience. They think it’s bad for a bitty storm like this one, wait until the infrastructure really starts to crumble in a few years. Once the Obamanation really gets settled in and the raping of the public treasuries begins in full force these events will become standard operating procedure for us all.

There are a few things we should have on hand for these occasions.

Lighting;

Lighting is a simple chore and can be accomplished with either flashlights, or flames. Get some flashlights, preferably the crank kind so you needn’t fumble for batteries. And you should also have some candles stored in a convenient location, with a box of matches for lighting them. And an oil lamp is a good idea as well. Keep a container of oil standing by, with some matches as well. These lamps can be purchased at most mass market department stores for just a few dollars, and a quart of fuel will last for a good long time if you are careful of your usage. Keep the wick trimmed and low enough so you don’t see any soot building on the chimney and you’ll be fine.

Cooking;

Cooking can also be easily done, simply by picking up a camp stove. There are some that burn liquid fuel by way of alcohol or unleaded gas(Coleman fuel) and come in single or multiple burner sizes. There are also some that utilize the one pound propane canisters as well. Keep the stove handy, not buried in the garage or basement, and a supply of fuel as well. You can cook a fine meal on one of these stoves, and no one will ever know the difference between a meal cooked on one of those stoves or a big kitchen range.

Heating;

Get one of those kerosene heaters and keep it full of fuel, and make sure you keep a few extra gallons handy as well. I like the top hat convection heaters, like the Kerosun or Omni brands. They are easy to light, easy to fuel and easy to maintain. Make sure you dry burn the filter after every few days of use to keep carbon and wax from building up and clogging the wick. In a pinch, you can also burn #2 heating oil in these things as well, though the manufacturers don’t recommend it. Diesel fuel is the same as #2, it just has more taxes added to it for the excise agents. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you need to be cold because no one sells kerosene. It’s out there and these other fuels are acceptable substitutes when it can’t be readily found.

Get some tree working tools as well, for when that big one falls across your driveway. Just make sure there are no downed power lines nearby that may want to leap up and bite you in the hind end. If there are, stay away and call the pros. But if not, there is no reason you need to be trapped in your yard because of a downed tree. Drive around it if you can. Cut it down to size with a chain saw and use it for firewood if you can. No fireplace or wood stove? Use it in a fire pit on those romantic summer nights when you want to laze around the back yard with the family.

Not being prepare in today’s world is just plain stupidity. We know these things are going to happen, and we have the wherewithal to be ready for when they do happen. What’s your excuse for not being prepared?

This one is a fairly cheap buy for the amount of info it contains, considering the fact that this is actually a public domain document under a private publishing company. The Model #21-76 has been published by a good many printers, and this one comes from Ulysses Press. I picked it up from a local bookseller for the low price of $11.95.

The book is paper back, printed on mass pulp so the pages are not something that will hold up over a long time very well, especially under heavy use, but it should be a good addition to your survival and preparedness library. Coming in at 280 pages, there are over 230 line drawings showing various items of interest such as structures, various foods such as plants and fish, snares and trapping, survival and rescue situations and more.

Seven chapters of varied information make up the main body of the book and cover; 1,Introduction; 2, Orientation and Traveling; 3, Water; 4, Food; 5, Fire making and Cooking; 6, Survival in Special Areas; and 7, Hazards to Survival.

One important point made early in the book is an anagram for the word ‘survival which goes:

    Size up the situation

    Undue haste makes waste

    Remember where you are

    Vanquish fear and panic

    Improvise

    Value Living

    Act like the natives

    Learn basic skills

This anagram simply portrays some good advice for how to act in any situation that may arise. Not stopping and thinking through your situation can cause a lot of problems that you really don’t need to deal with, and by taking the time to think, you won’t have these problems.

As you read through this book, you have to keep in mind that this is a military field manual, not a guidebook for civilians, so some of the information may seem as though it is totally irrelevant. However, it’s still good knowledge to have, and there may come a time when you may need it. As per the usual survival guide info, there is some good info on obtaining and filtering water, as well as some of the different types of wild food you can eat by foraging. It seems funny, but there aren’t many books out there in the preparedness genre that actually delve into the fine art of eating what’s around you. That being the case, these survival manuals have great value in that area of skill building. There are some books dealing with edible wild plants, and we’ll look at some of them later, though.

This book also goes into great detail on the harvesting and preparation of wild game, with plenty of tips and construction details of many types of snares and traps. There are also many illustrations of shelter types as well. One thing to look at is the section dealing with specific location survival. It would be a good idea to read over some of this info if you are planning a trip to any of these areas and pick up some good tips on survival should anything go wrong.

All in all, this book was all right, but not exceptional. The line drawings were good, but not necessarily clear, and I would have rather seen color plates of some of the edible and poisonous plants to be able to make better identification. However, at the $11.95 price, it’s worth picking up if you are developing an preparedness and survival library.

This book is the second choice I made for a go pack library. Small in stature, but packed with a wealth of information. Well worth the $7.00 I paid for it at a local bookstore.

The book is primarily a pocket sized version of the American College of Emergency Physicians larger version, the complete first aid book, if you will. At 128 pages long and small enough to slip into your pants pocket it will fit very nicely into most first aid kits or a easy access pocket on your own go packs. The illustrations are actual photographs of various procedures and steps, which I found refreshing after pouring through pages and pages of crudely done line drawings that didn’t show things as clearly as this little gem of a book does.

Divided into nine sections, you can easily find a chapter for whatever types of medical emergency you may encounter.

Section 1, Techniques and Equipment talks about some of the basic medical supplies you should have and how to use them. It also goes into the way you should apply bandages and slings, which will be some of the more common things you may have to address in the moments after an accident. Especially if blood is present.

Section 2,Life Saving Procedures, addresses various ways to deal with resuscitation of a victim, life saving priorities and choking incidents. There are some interesting flow charts that take you step by step through some of the situations. It even includes a chart on the usage of a portable defibrillator. Not that we all carry one in our first aid kit, but it’s good information to have available. Many businesses now keep and emergency defibrillator on hand for just such emergencies. The prices keep coming down as the technology and demand for the units increase, so I would expect there to be a growing availability of these units as time goes by.

Section 3, Circulatory and Respiratory Problems deals with things like shock, heart attacks and problems, fainting, asthma, drowning and penetrating wounds to the chest. In a disaster, any one of these situation can come upon a member of your party with absolutely no prior warning, so it is important to familiarize yourself with this information. One of the points you should keep in mind that when it comes to heart problems, giving the victim a 325mg aspirin helps to thin the blood and may be the key a rapid recovery, or at the very least provide the victim some time until professional help and an ambulance arrives. Make sure you keep a small bottle in your medical kits, and keep the date current on the bottle.

Section 4 deals with Wounds and Bleeding, and covers everything from a simple nosebleed up to severe bleeding. A couple of points to remember here is that wounds should be cleaned with clean running water or a non-alcohol cleaning wipe. Objects that may have become embedded in the wound may need to be removed as well, to prevent infection and further irritation.

Bone, Joint, and Muscle injuries are covered in section 5. This is a head to toe look at possible bone injuries, as well as muscular sprains and other problems related to the two. The first couple of pages describe some of the different types of fractures as well as muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. The section also goes into some splinting procedures.

Section 6 goes into Disorders of Consciousness. These disorders deal with concussion, cerebral compression, skull fractures for starters. The section also covers hypo- and hyperglycemia, various seizures, strokes and diabetes.

Environmental Injuries are covered in section 7. These include incidents such as burns and scalding, electrical and chemical burns, heatstroke and exhaustion and cold related emergencies such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Section 8 considers Foreign Objects, such as splinters and fishhooks, inhaled and swallowed objects, and things that get stuck in your eye, ear and nose. Probably should be a must read section if you have little ones along, from what I have heard about the kiddies.

Lastly, section 9 deals with Poisoning, Bites and Stings. It’s amazing at how many things exist in this world that can harm you, especially from unseen sources, such as little bugs and the neighbor’s dog. Like the rest of the book, this section also covers a great deal in a small space, and is also important info you need. As a bonus, I would suggest you photocopy the last page of the book, make several copies and have them on hand in your medical kit for emergencies. It will help you through the incident and provide some much needed information to any first responders that may be called.

The ISBN for this book is 978-0-7894-9265-4 and can be purchased at leading booksellers. Many will have them in stock in their medical section, and can also be ordered from many sources as well. I find it to be a great companion book to the Collins Gem version of the SAS Pocket Survival Guide, and I keep both of them in my go-pack or bug out bag. Pick up a copy and read it thoroughly. Just remember that this book, or any other book for that matter is no substitute for proper first aid training. I would also recommend that you get a full featured first aid manual as well, just to have an even greater collection of knowledge on hand.

Everyone should have a good library, and those of us who practice the fine art of preparedness are no exception. I have a growing collection of works that I thought I would share. Probably the best place to start is with one of the two books that I keep in my bug-out bag, the SAS Survival Guide pocket version put out by Collins Gem.

John “Lofty” Wiseman is well known for his survival acumen, and has some great titles under his name. Too bad he isn’t an American. This little gem of a book is small enough to fit into practically any pocket, but still contains nearly 400 pages of good survival information that can help you out in nearly all situations. Not as in depth as some of his bigger versions of course, but this book is a great alternative to lugging a few pounds of info around.

It is divided into ten sections; 1. Essentials, 2. Climate and Terrain, 3. Food, 4. Camp Craft, 5. Reading the Signs, 6. On the Move, 7. Survival at Sea, 8. Rescue, 9. Health, and 10. Disaster Strategies.

The Essentials section deals with basic preparedness facts and ideas and discusses some of the things we can do to get ready for any emergency or disaster. This section is a must read for all situations, and is best read before you need the information it contains. Don’t risk failure by waiting to the last minute to learn skills for survival. Do it now before it becomes too late and you end up being herded away in a truck with the rest of the sheeple.

The nest section, Climate and Terrain, deals with the different areas or zones around the world and what we can expect to encounter if we are caught in a survival situation without much to go on. Wiseman goes into the general climate of these regions and gives some area specific tips, such as making solar stills in the desert and snowshoes in the winter wonderlands of the tundra.

In section 3, Food, the various types of plants and animals that can be harvested and eaten are discussed, as well as how to hunt and fish with found and made in the field items. A lot of good information is packed into this section. It’s well worth paying extra attention to these pages. Also included are several pages of color pictures to identify foods that are safe to eat, as well as poisonous plants as well. Even if you can’t take the entire book along for the ride, you should at least tear out of copy page 73, where a good piece of info on plants to avoid and how to detect the two most common poisons can be found.

Camp Craft, section 4, goes into the various aspects of building emergency structures, fires and cooking, and other tools and equipment you may need and can create on the fly with not much more than your hands and a good knife. John also goes into rarely discussed topics such as sanitation and making stone tools in this section. Flint knapping is an ancient skill, but it is easy to learn, and the same process used by the Indians to make arrowheads can be utilized to make cutting, stabbing and scraping tools out of other stones as well. Information worth learning, if you ask me.

Reading the Signs deals with the skills of map reading and orienteering, while section 56, On the Move, goes into the aspects of traveling while in survival mode. Survival at Sea is all about water survival, in case your boat decides to pull a SS Minnow and strand you far from civilization, along with Gilligan and the gang. Hopefully you’ll have better comrades along for the ride. Rescue of course deals with the hoped for ultimate end of any survival situation and your rescue from your conundrum. Signaling and rescue symbols are discussed as well as search and rescue and helicopter rescues.

Health is naturally a long section dealing with not only the common first aid tips, but your general health and well being while in any survival situation, and Disaster Strategies winds the book up with a discussion over plans and strategies to cope with most disasters that may come your way in different parts of the world.

I bought this book for a mere $7.99, and it was worth every penny as I look at the wealth of information contained in these pages. You can get it through most books stores through special order if they haven’t got it in stock. The ISBN is 0-06-084982-7, and was first published in 2006.