Archive for March, 2010

Just as an alert to those in Maine that think it can’t happen here, it did. Minor of course, in the grand scheme of things, but we did have an earthquake to day. There have in fact been many quakes in Maine, with the largest recorded being a 4.8 in Bowmanton Township in 1973. Prior to the current magnitude rating scheme in use a level VII earthquake was felt in Eastport back in 1904, which, according to the Maine Geological Survey would have been a 5.9 magnitude today. But even further back in time, and earthquake was felt in the 1600s where the ground was visibly lifted in front of witnesses, who claimed the ground moved as a wave upon the sea. So, rememberone of  my three Ps of preparedness, anything is possible.

More news should be coming through the local sources on this evening’s news where you’ll be able to hear all about it. Until then, flooding remains the real threat from all of this rain we’ve been having. Initial reports out of Porter had Route 25 flooded over with the breaking of the Colcord Pond dam, however it turns out that while under heavy rain, Route 25 is in fact open, and it was just the side roads affected by the flash flooding cause by that dams breeching. Got your Go Bags ready?

Until the main stream media has news, here are the USGS details on the earthquake:

Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 3.0 MDate-Time

  • 30 Mar 2010 20:42:18 UTC
  • 30 Mar 2010 16:42:18 near epicenter
  • 30 Mar 2010 15:42:18 standard time in your time zone

Location

44.672N 68.752W

Depth

4 km

Distances

  • 9 km (5 miles) ENE (65 degrees) of Winterport, ME
  • 11 km (7 miles) NNE (18 degrees) of Bucksport, ME
  • 11 km (7 miles) SE (146 degrees) of Hampden, ME
  • 286 km (178 miles) NE (48 degrees) of Manchester, NH
  • 307 km (190 miles) SE (140 degrees) of Québec, Québec, Canada

Location Uncertainty

Horizontal: 0.7 km; Vertical 1.7 km

Parameters

Nph = 33; Dmin = 26.7 km; Rmss = 0.23 seconds; Gp = 154°
M-type = M; Version = a

Event ID NE 00001168 (click onto the event ID link to go to the USGS report on this quake)

As I mentioned, flooding potential remains high in Maine, and the NWS has this to say about Maine and New Hampshire;

Statement as of 3:07 PM EDT on March 30, 2010

… Flood Watch now in effect through Wednesday afternoon…

The Flood Watch is now in effect for

* portions of western Maine and New Hampshire… including the
following areas… in western Maine… Androscoggin… Central
Somerset… coastal Cumberland… coastal Waldo… coastal York…
interior Cumberland… interior Waldo… interior York…
Kennebec… Knox… Lincoln… northern Franklin… northern
Oxford… Sagadahoc… southern Franklin… southern Oxford and
southern Somerset. In New Hampshire… Belknap… coastal
Rockingham… interior Rockingham… Merrimack… northern
Carroll… northern Coos… northern Grafton… southern
Carroll… southern Coos… southern Grafton… Strafford and
Sullivan.

* Through Wednesday afternoon

* another one to two inches of rain will fall through tonight.
This will cause additional rises on rivers and streams across
the region… flooding of roads… and urban flooding.

Precautionary/preparedness actions…

A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on
current forecasts.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible
flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be
prepared to take action should flooding develop.

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A compilation of tips and how to’s on developing an emergency preparedness plan, and how to get ready for natural and man-made disasters. Also includes a comprehensive listing of state and federal agencies to contact for more help and assistance in dealing with emergency planning and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.

That’s right folks! I’ve come up with another witty way to get ready for the end times. All we have to do is learn how to add!

It’s a pretty simple formula, involving only three steps to implement it, although those three steps can be pretty huge. But the bottom line is that this formula will allow you to create an emergency preparedness plan for any situation.

How’s it work? In a nutshell, ADD is actually an abbreviated word standing for analyze, develop and deploy. If you analyze your situation, and then your resources, you can develop a plan of action that you can deploy when disaster strikes. I find that this sequence is where a lot of people get led astray in their planning, and come up short when the need to survive arises.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong today, and many (individuals and companies) are promoting not only events that are wrong, but solutions as well for your situation. That’s where my 3Ps of preparedness comes in to play in deciding how you should allocate your resources. There are two things that need to be analyzed to create your preparedness plans, #1; your situation, and #2; your resources. Not everyone can afford the same solution, so what may be great for the rich lawyer on the next block may be entirely out of your reach.

Your situation is the first thing you want to take into account when you have finally seen the light and decided to become prepared for the coming times. Your situation includes who you are, where you are, and what is happening around you. In other words, if you are a person of limited income, and you live in Oregon, you will be throwing money down the drain if you prepare for a hurricane. You may at some time experience hurricane damage, as all things are possible, but the probability is so low the danger can be called nonexistent. By the same token, a person in the same income situation who lives in Miami would be equally foolish to invest in preparing for a blizzard.

Look at where you are, and what the potential and probabilities are for any kind of disaster that you can think of happening. What is the area’s history of deadly storms and natural disasters? What is the potential for manmade disasters?

To begin this exercise, take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. In the left hand column make a list of what you believe are the more probable disaster events you may have to face for your location. List them in order of frequency and severity. In the right hand column list the current resources that you already have at the top. At the bottom you will list the resources you need to obtain in order to combat these disaster events. Your current resources include the knowledge that you now have, and the supplies and equipment at your immediate disposal. Future acquisitions should only be included in your planning as you gain them.

Analyze your threat potential and your ability to combat these threats through this double columned list. Once you have done that you can develop a plan of action to mitigate that risk, and develop a course of action in response to those risks should the come to life. You will be able to decide what you need to do, and what equipment and supplies you need to acquire, as well as what knowledge you need to obtain to meet these risks.

Once you have your plan in order, you can practice the plan and when the time comes, you will be able to deploy your plan, and if you have done your research and properly analyzed both the risks and your resources, you will come out on top as a survivor. So remember, ADD to survive means, analyze, develop and deploy. And don’t forget what Ben Franklin says, if you fail to prepare, you are only preparing to fail.

Most of the times we zip through life without paying attention to the many little details that make life easy. Then all of a sudden, one of those little details comes up missing and our world comes to a standstill because we cannot function without that little detail. Take electricity for one. It’s always there, but do we pay attention to it? Not usually. We get up in the morning, and turn the light in the bedroom on, and the little alarm clock that wakes us up runs on electricity. Then we make breakfast and brew the morning coffee, and turn the light in the kitchen on. We have an electric coffee maker, a toaster, microwave oven, electric range and an electric refrigerator to keep our foods cold.

Then we scuff off to the bathroom to take a shower. Again we turn the lights on, and the hot water that we enjoy comes from an electric water heater. And then most of the men in urban land whip out the electric shaver and shave our face. And the day continues on like that. We flip on one electrical switch after another. All day long, every day of the year, year after year, at least for most of us, anyways. There are a few brave and adventurous souls who have taken the big step of getting off of the grid, and that same electricity becomes less of a need, and less important to the daily routine.

But for the rest of us, we trudge along flipping those switches as if it were nothing. Until one day we get up in the morning, flip the lights on, and the room remains dark. Not only that, but the room is cold. And you cannot make your breakfast and coffee, nor have that piping hot shower. Your first instinct is to check the breakers and make sure something hasn’t shorted out, but everything seems ok. Looking out the window you see that the street lights are out, and so aren’t the other homes on your street. The grid is down. There is no electricity for anyone in your neighborhood. How many others have no power? You scramble around in the dark trying to find a flashlight, fervently hoping the kids didn’t play with it and wear out the batteries. Once found you then search for an old beat up pocket radio so you can get some news.

If the radio works and you get some news, you feel comforted because there are other humans outside your castle walls taking care of the problem. But what happens if you cannot get any news from the radio? The world as you know it is dark and cold. There are no lights, no heat, and no contact with the outside world. No television and no radio. So, you get dressed and make what little meal you can without having to cook it, and trudge out to the car. Ahhhh, the car starts. You clean off the windshield and turn on the radio. Nothing but dead air, so you fly through the stations to find one that is broadcasting. At last you catch an out of town news report that pretty much kills your day. The massive snowstorm has turned to rain, freezing tree and limb alike, sending both down on top of the electrical infrastructure plunging hundreds of thousands of people into the same darkness you have awoken to.

Welcome to surviving off the grid! Surviving off the grid can be a treat, or it can be a nightmare. This is why we need to develop our emergency preparedness plans now, and learn to adapt to different situations so that we can in fact survive comfortably under stressful times. The most common way for us to get around a loss of grid based power is to fire up a generator, and continue on with our regular routine, except for having to fill up the genset with fuel all too frequently. But this doesn’t get you off the grid lifestyle, it just perpetuates it.

The smart preparedness planner doesn’t rely on an external source to fulfill his or her needs in an emergency setting. They will already have an alternative way of life in the works and ready to go. Alternative cooking, heating and lighting equipment and supplies will be at the ready, and raring to go. Battery and wind-up flashlights will be all over the house, or at least in every bedroom and the kitchen. A camp stove of some sort with plenty of fuel may be waiting in a convenient closet. An emergency radio will be sitting in the kitchen or living room, fully charged and waiting to be turned on.

A kerosene heater, or possibly propane will also be handy, and filled for when the need arises to keep everyone warm and cozy. Kerosene or oil lamps are also something that may be at hand. Another handy item would be a led lamp or lamps to light up the night and keep the boogey man at bay.

The point is, if you are prepared, then there really is no problem when you awake to a home with no power. It may be a minor inconvenience, but there should be no need to go off the deep end and panic over it. Wake up, make your breakfast, then get cleaned up and if the roads are passable then you can go to work, and hopefully get there on time. Think of the chore of becoming prepared to do without as simply getting ready for an extended camping trip, if you will. Many of the things we do while camping are the same things we would do in an emergency without any power, and the general infrastructure down and in disrepair.

Get your gear in order, fill up your fuel tanks, and load up on water and food. Right now most of the nation is in flood frenzy, but very soon hurricane and tornado season will be upon us and that is definitely not the time to prepare. The biggest threat we face in general terms is the loss of the electrical grid that supplies millions of people with electricity. Make certain as you make your plans that you include the loss of the grid in mind, and plan around it.

As the economy continues to decline and we start to realize what lays ahead for us, a discussion keeps cropping up over what kind of investment should we make for the coming times. We know that we will have to buy some sort of supplies or other needs, but will we be able to simply pull out that little piece of plastic, or will hard currency be required? To be sure, only time will tell, but based on history and comparing it to what I see today, I have a couple of predictions to make regarding the question.

Before we get going down the road to buy a loaf of bread, let me clarify money, and its relationship to emergency preparedness planning. First of all, there are several different ways to look at the issue of hard money. One of them is as an investment instrument. People can trade and deal in currencies just like any other stock, and buy when a value is low, then sell when the value is high and make a profit from the sale of those holdings. It’s not a sure fire way to make an income, but if you are savvy in the ways of the market, the potential is there to make a proverbial killing in the markets.

The problem here is that if the ultimate meltdown does occur, will you be able to cash in on your investments, and use those funds to obtain needed supplies and equipment? In reality, I don’t believe so. You will most likely not be able to recoup on any of your investments, and in fact, you will not be able to get back the cash you initially invested, either. Why is that, you wonder? Because if in fact the ultimate melt down does occur, there will be no financial infrastructure available to process your request. There will be no bank to give you any of your money back to you. That’s if the ultimate meltdown occurs, that is. There are varying levels of collapse that will affect your investments to varying degrees. For that reason, I would suggest that you only deal in these sorts of investments if you can afford to lose everything you’ve invested into the game.

For purposes of emergency preparedness planning, we need to look at money a little differently. We need to look at money as it was initially developed. Money, in its basic precept is a tool for barter, and nothing more. If you need to hire a handyman to rake your yard, you trade a bit of cash in trade for his time. The handyman takes that cash and trades it for groceries or gas for his truck at the C-store. The store owner uses that cash to pay his employees and buy new gas and groceries. And the cycle continues on and on, dollar bills trading from hand to hand until you go to the bank and cash your paycheck so you can give that cash to others in exchange for what you need.

However, should this cycle become interrupted, how much value will that cash you hold have to those who possess what you desire? The so called leaders of this country are determined to implement what is called ‘smart grid’ technology in this country. That smart grid can very easily, according to some, be disrupted. Should this occur our entire financial infrastructure would come to a standstill. Banks would be unable to open. ATM would cease to function, and retailers would not be able to process credit card payments.

Your only option at this point would be cash. However, as a society we have become so entrenched in the security and convenience that little plastic card has that few of us carry much cash today. Some people I know carry just enough cash to get a couple of snacks and that’s it. Next time you are visiting a fast food joint, watch the number of people that pay for their meal with plastic. It’s amazing how many people do that. I’ve even seen people pay for a cup of coffee with a card. Granted, most of these transactions are via a debit charge rather than a credit charge, but it’s still an electronic transfer of funds. Paper checks are processed the same way today in larger chains as well. The money is taken from your account immediately rather than days later as the check goes through its processing routine.

Stores and gas stations may stay open in the event of a catastrophe, depending upon the severity and type, but if they cannot process credit and debit transactions, the only option is cash. Some may take paper checks, but that possibility is iffy at best. For the long term, you need to be prepared to live without that little piece of plastic. To do that, you’ll need to figure out an amount of ready cash you think you may need for a short duration when the infrastructure may be down. And remember that more than likely; we will see a sharp increase in the price of goods as those goods availability dwindles in the markets. Plan on at least three times what you would spend for goods today as an inflation buffer.

And then, as retailers find that their own credit lines are gone, and they cannot get any more products for their shelves, cash will become less and less meaningful. At some point we will find ourselves living in Bartertown, of which I have written on before. You’ll either need to have some product, or a skill that can be traded to get what you need.

Buffers against that time will only be what your preparedness plans have provided for you. For the most part, food will be a standard trade good, so try to have sufficient stocks of food with which to trade with. And just as a suggestion, you may want to use that as an opportunity to unload some of the shorter term foods that are either coming to their use by date or have gone past it. Desperate people won’t bother with dates, and if the food is safe, there’s nothing wrong with using it to barter.

Skills will eventually become barter tools, provided you have a marketable skill in the coming times. That being the case, I would suggest you learn how to do something that you don’t do now. Working for twenty bucks an hour in a call center may be good money, but if there is no infrastructure, as would be the case in a nationwide EMP attack, then there is no job, and no income. What will you do to provide for your family?

Remember that cash will be the only way of conducting business when the collapse finally begins, so make sure you’ve plenty on hand. But don’t flaunt it. Hide it and hide it well. There are dozens of ways of hiding what you’ve got, but I won’t describe them here as it would make for easy pickings by those with criminal intent. Pay attention to my writing and you’ll be able to pick out the clues as to what you should do.

The revolution has just begun, and it will be years before it comes to an end. We’ll have lots of distress in the meantime, and by developing your plans now, you’ll have an easier time of it later.

Winter is now decaying into spring across most of the United States, and with it comes a new season of disasters and survival situations to contend with. Last month if we ventured into the wilds we were prepared, hopefully, to survive an extended period of time in the frozen wilderness. If we got lost or injured, cold would be our greatest enemy. Fire making skills would have been an absolute essential, with or without shelter making ability. The time is at hand where the temperatures will be higher during the day, but still cold enough to kill an unsuspecting adventurer during the night and hypothermia is still a 24-7 companion.

That’s why it is so important to pay attention to the weather reports, and dress in layers according to those reports. It is still advisable to wear thermal underwear in most of the northern tier states. It is easy to control your temperature by shedding layers of over clothing such as a vest or jacket, so why take chances on freezing by not utilizing your thermals? A hat is still required, and the warmer the better. I like my old wool Filson’s cap with the earflaps. Makes me look like an old geezer, but who cares? While I’m toasty warm the young guys are freezing in their ball caps.

Another thing to watch for this time of year is the ice. Many lakes are thawing early, even in Maine. Up in Lake Auburn, the ice has made a new ice-out day record. Beat the old one by a week from what I read and hear. Ice fishing may be a lot of fun, but it’s easy to fall through the ice unexpectedly. This is an even greater danger if you are in a vehicle. Even a four wheeler or a snowmobile is heavy enough to drag you under in no time at all. While many victims are able to free themselves to be rescued, more people don’t, and succumb to the cold. Stay away from ice with a vehicle for your own good at this time of the year. And be extra careful while on foot. If you have to walk over ice, carry a long pole sideways to spread your weight and keep you from going under should the ice break.

Another spring time preparedness problem is the muddy roads. ATVs and 4-wheelers love to go mudding, and by getting too far back on the tote road you could be a long time getting out if you get stuck or worse yet, break an axle. Make sure you’ve got plenty of tools and equipment to get your rig out of the mud, and try not to go alone. Two can get a vehicle back on the road faster than one, unless of course you’ve brought a case of long necks for lunch. In that case, don’t bother crying about it because you probably deserve what you get. But either way, make sure you’ve got the tools and equipment to get the job done right.

Also make sure you have a first aid kit and plenty of food and water for you excursion off the beaten path. A good flashlight and some extra batteries are essential as well. Communications can be a tricky thing when you are away from civilization too. Just because your cell phone works great on the ride to the trailhead, it doesn’t mean it will work once you get into the woods. Let somebody know where you are going and when you plan to get back. That way, if you’re late for beddy-by time someone can send for the cavalry to bail you out. Nothing more embarrassing than not being able to take care of your own screw ups is there?

As the temps warm up a little more and the sun starts the plants a greening we’ll need to watch out for poison ivy, oak and sumac, so make sure you pay attention to where you are walking. Bring some calamine or other ointment just in case you do step where you shouldn’t. And while we’re on the subject of poison, make certain you have a good first aid kit when you head out, along with plenty of drinking water.

I know, I already said bring a first aid kit. But it is that important that it justifies mentioning it twice. Accidents happen when you least expect them, and when you are involved in outdoor activity far from home, you may need more than a Band-Aid to get you by until either help arrives or you can get to doc’s place to get fixed up. And bring bug repellant too. It’s still early, but a surprise one day heat wave can be enough to get some of those pesky blood loving insects some life.

Emergency preparedness planning isn’t just about getting ready for hurricane season. It is about being ready to survive any coming calamity, no matter how trivial it may seem in the bigger picture. Make your plan, and then carry put your plan. Develop and deploy, just like the military does when they go into a conflict. Next time I’ll get into a new formula I’ve develop for preparedness planning, called AADD and Survive!