Archive for emergency preparedness

31 Things Learned From “The Blackout” Movie

I watched a movie called “The Blackout” a few days ago. It’s streaming free on Amazon Prime, which you can watch for free with the 30-day free Amazon Prime trial.

The description says “A young expecting couple, four rebellious teenagers and a lone survival expert are confronted by a worldwide blackout that forces them to survive as society breaks apart around them. “The Blackout” is a riveting ensemble thriller that illustrates the strength of human endurance and the worst of human nature.” It’s a B movie, but not a bad one. It’s not terribly cheesy and has pretty good graphics.

I thought it would be interesting to list what kind of prepper lessons I learned from the movie. Here we go!

  1. People can get ugly fast. People in the small town highlighted in the movie were having fistfights over supplies within three days.
  2. DO NOT keep long-term food (e.g. expected to last the entire winter, such as entire deer or hogs) in the freezer. Can or dehydrate it as soon as possible!
  3. Have solar and wind backup. Regular generators make too much noise, attracting attention, and potentially inviting trouble.
  4. Knowing your neighbors is good, but does not guarantee that they won’t be royal jerks.
  5. Get as in-shape as you can. If you can’t get up a couple of flights of steps without panting, get to work fixing that. If you can’t lift a 50 lb bag of dog food or feed, get to work fixing that.
  6. Have enough pre-cut plywood to board up all of your windows. Use a sharpie to label each board as to which window it goes on. You should already have a battery-powered drill and a way to recharge it (see #3). I also recommend you apply BurglarGARD Glass Protection Film to the outside of your windows (preferably ahead of time) to slow down anyone trying to break the glass to get in.
  7. I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t get drunk or high.
  8. Have enough food and water that you don’t have to go get in ration lines right away. This is one instance where bad things can happen to those who wait.
  9. If the entire nation has gone into a tailspin, maybe it’s not the best time to stop on the road to help people whose vehicles are broke down. Maybe they are, but maybe they’re hunting.
  10. Your car is a weapon if you are surrounded by rioters or in danger. 3000 lbs plus momentum gets through an awful lot.
  11. Be armed. Always. Best if you can carry all the time, but at least have the gear to carry in an emergency. Take the time to train on whatever firearm you own.
  12. Have backup communications–FRS for around the house, Ham (requires a license but can potentially communicate internationally) or CB (no license required, goes farther than FRS, but not as far as Ham) for longer distances.
  13. Have a way to secure your livestock. Unsecured livestock may very well be stolen.
  14. Have extra gas stored with Sta-bil or Pri-G added. Sorry, I don’t know anything about storing diesel.
  15. Run-flat tires are awesome.
  16. Don’t leave large rocks or tools near doors or windows. You don’t want to give anyone any ideas.
  17. Know first aid and CPR.
  18. Do not go into other people’s houses or campsites without doing some recon first. Only fools rush in.
  19. Ladies, for the love of all that’s holy, learn some self defense!!! I was definitely reminded that it’s time to get my daughter some classes.
  20. If body armor’s in the budget, get some.
  21. Have backup lighting at home–candles, flashlights, kerosene lamps, oil lamps (can burn vegetable oil). Also have rechargeable batteries and a way to charge them. See #3.

I watched this movie after I saw it on a forum I frequently go to. Viking Preparedness (Pastor Joe) on Youtube saw the same movie and listed 20 things he learned in two separate videos (here and here). Items he had that I did not include:

  1. Having some type of organization ahead of time will be useful for after TSHTF. Pastor Joe uses even a bridge club as an example; you get to know people and get some idea of their personal strengths and weaknesses as well as what items they may have that can help the group/community survive.
  2. Have a security plan for your property. For example, chain your driveway gate to the fence so no one can pop it off the hinges (P.S. have a gate on your driveway).
  3. Shoot when it’s time to shoot. Have your firearm already loaded and be ready to use it. Remember, only point a gun at what you’re willing to kill (thanks, Dad!). Keep your finger OFF the trigger until ready to fire.
  4. Share what and when you can. Help when you can. Consider having preset limits to make sure you don’t give so much away that it causes problems for your own family.
  5. Keep tar paper/roofing felt on-hand to temporarily repair home damage. Heavier weight is better. Attach using a staple gun or hammer stapler. Also get heavy duty plastic (4, 5, or 6 mm) in case a window breaks and you want to be able to see through.
  6. Pickup trucks are very useful, especially 4-wheel drive.
  7. Check your body after a physical fight of any kind. You want to find wounds that might need treatment as soon as possible, and adrenaline can mask the pain even if something’s bleeding or broken.
  8. Cultivate humor as a way of dealing with stress. I remember finding out from an urgent care doctor that, just before I turned 33, I needed to have emergency surgery for diverticulitis. It was bad enough that the surgeon was going to meet me at the emergency room and that I either had to go by ambulance or have someone drive me to the hospital because the doctor was literally afraid I would die on the drive there. He found it a little disconcerting that I kept making jokes until I told him that that’s how we deal with bad stress in my family (laugh or cry, you choose).
  9. Practice security at all times. If you have other adults in your group, have somebody on watch. Never all sleep at once. Never let your guard down (really tiring mentally).
  10. Do not defend your house from your house. The enemy can surround you and the walls are usually not bulletproof (my note: unless you build an earthbag home; 1.25-1.5′ of packed earth should stop most anything a civilian can launch in your direction!).

Snow Storm Emergency Preparedness Tips

 

snowstorm

 

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow during the winter months, you know how important it is to prepare for big snow storms ahead of time. You may find yourself stuck at home, or worse in your car for long periods of time during a snow storm. The heavy snow can cause trees or large branches to fall and cut power lines. Here’s what you should do to make sure you’re not caught unaware by a blizzard.

Winterize Your Home And Car

At the beginning of the cold season make sure both your home and your car are ready for winter. Put on winter tires, fill up the antifreeze, and stock your car with a shovel, sand, snow chains, a warm blanket, and a bit of water and food. If you’d just like to buy a kit instead of making your own, this kit by GetReadyNow is pretty good. It does need a shovel and a blanket.

Make sure your home is well-insulated, your heating is in good working order, and you have an ample supply of heating fuel or firewood. Keeping some emergency water and food rations along with a battery operated weather radio and plenty of ways to stay warm is also a good idea (but you already knew that).

Pay Attention To Weather Forecasts

The good thing about winter storms these days is that meteorologists have gotten pretty good at predicting them well in advance. This gives you plenty of time to stock up on some supplies, get home safely, and hunker down to wait out the storm. Watch weather forecasts regularly throughout the colder months and set up storm alerts on your phone to give you plenty of time to prepare. You can download the ping4alerts! app to make this easier, but it does require location services to be enabled. I have an email in to them about just adding an address and running the app without location services turned on; I’ll update here when I hear back from them.

Minimize Travel

If you know a storm is coming, avoid traveling, particularly on the road. Waiting out a blizzard in your car is not a lotsnowstormdriving of fun and you may be stuck and trapped for hours if not days. Cancel travel plans and do what you can to get home before conditions get too bad.

If you do have to travel during a storm, make sure you gas tank is full and your car is well stocked with winter emergency supplies. Check on road conditions before you head out and pull over if things get too bad. You should also have a charged phone with you to call for help if you get stuck in a storm drift.

Stock Up On Food, Water, Heating Fuel, and Firewood

When there’s a lot of snow or an ice storm in the forecast, stock up on food, drinking water, and heating fuel and/or firewood. Have a plan for heating and preparing food if the power goes out. Having plenty of flashlights and candles is also a good idea. You may also want to make sure you have something non-tech for the kids to play with in case their (or your) phone/tablet/computer runs out of battery.

Wait out the storm and don’t be tempted to head out to clear off the roof. Should you fall and get hurt, emergency services may have no way of reaching you.

Take Care Of Your Animals

Remember to provide for the animals in your care as well. Dogs, cats, goats, poultry, cattle, horses – doesn’t matter; they all need a solid shelter to block the wind and keep at least some of the snow off of them during the storm. Remember to stock the shelter with hay (if appropriate) and some warm water. I use 5-gallon buckets with omega lids (love these lids!) to carry warm water from the house to the outside animals.

Creating A Basic Starter Emergency Kit

Do you have a basic emergency kit? Governments around the world are encouraging their citizens to be prepared in light of more frequent disasters, both natural and man-made (Germany, Russia). Your basic kit should include everything you need to ensure your survival for several days or until help arrives.

Drinking Water

One of the first things that will get you into trouble in any type of disaster or emergency is sawyerwaterfilterdehydration. Make sure you have safe drinking water for several days stored. A good alternative or addition is a small water filtration system you can use on unsafe water sources to extend drinking water. I have the Sawyer portable water filter. It can filter up to a 100,000 gallons of water and includes a cleaning plunger to periodically clean off the filter.

Food and Accessories

Next, it’s good to have at least some emergency food rations. This is particularly important if you have small children, pregnant or nursing women, elderly, or anyone with diabetes or low blood sugar in your family. They can make it even fewer days or hours with food than you can. Keep some easy, ready to eat food on hand like granola bars, nuts, and canned foods. Make sure you have any tools or accessories you need to open the food containers and utensils to eat with. Manual can openers can be super cheap. I suggest keeping 2 of the really cheap ones in your evacuation bin just in case one breaks.sosrationsemergencybars

Focus on food items that won’t perish quickly and that can be eaten cold in a pinch. Chances are power will be out and you’ll have no way to cook or heat the food you’ll be eating. Something like these S.O.S. Rations emergency bars would be good. They’re compact, have a lot of calories, and will help keep you alive until you can get to something better (note: doesn’t taste like candy, if you know what I mean).

Radio, Flash Light, and Cellphone

Next, let’s talk about small electronics, or electric, hand-cranked devices. You want to be able to get the information you need and see where you’re going. A good flashlight with long battery life is aacuriteweatherradio must, as is a small weather radio. This can be battery operated or hand-cranked. I previously mentioned this battery- and ac-powered weather radio that we have. We’ve had it since 2012 and have not had any problems with it. If you’re using battery operated devices having a spare set of batteries in your kit is always a good idea.

Last but not least, when disaster strikes, grab your phone and charger, if possible. You want to be able to get in touch with loved once as soon as possible. I recommend also keeping a paper copy of your contact list in your evacuation bin.

First Aid Kit

Afirstaidkit small first aid kit that includes bandages, alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, scissors, and some basic pain medicine is another must have. Make sure it also includes any medication you take regularly. If you have family members with severe allergies, antihistamines or even an epi-pen may be an important and potentially life-saving addition. You can start with a commercial kit and then build on it according to your family’s needs.

Assorted Tools

There are various tools that may come in handy in an emergency. A good knife is a must and can come in handy in a variety of different ways. A wrench or pair of pliers is handy if you need to turn of utilities in an emergency. A multi-tool can have myriad uses. Last but not least, consider adding a whistle and flashing light or emergency flares to your tool kit so you are able to alert rescuers to your location.

Also include a few days worth of clothes and basic hygiene items for each family member. Remember to change these clothes out seasonally and as sizes change!

You may not be able to get everything right away, but getting anything is better than getting nothing!

PS. I have the bin in the featured image. It’s 27 gallons, professional grade and you can find it here.

Preparing Children For Evacuation – Link Love!

childhiking

I saw a blog post called “How to Prepare your Children for an Evacuation” by itsamystery. In it she talks about introducing children to the ideas and practicalities of evacuating. She has a great idea–impromptu camping!

Impromptu camping is a great way to test out your evacuation box or tote as well as get the kids a little more prepared to be able to leave the house in a timely fashion if the need arose.

Another thing she brings up is important for the kids as well as the adults–exercise. She points out that kids (I’ll add adults, too) may not used to hiking or walking around for long distances with a backpack on. In both camping and evacuating, that’s not the time for the parents to be the pack-mules. Everyone needs to be ready and able to help out.

Overall, several good tips and a nice, quick read. Check it out!

Be Prepared For Local Natural Disasters

naturaldisasterfeaturedNatural disasters appear in all parts of the world, and no matter where you live, chances are that you will encounter several of them throughout your lifetime. Depending on where you live, they may happen, or at least threaten your home much more frequently. It’s easy to see why it is important to be prepared for them.

The first thing you need to know is what type of emergencies and disasters you can expect in your area. We can all be affected by fire and winter storms that shut down roads and power are likely across the country as well. From there it depends on where you live. Where we live, the worst I’ve seen is a couple feet of snow and flooding (separately). Your town may be prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoon, earth quakes and the likes. Do floodyour homework, watch the news, talk to your neighbors and figure out what natural disasters you should prepare for. A great source for information is your local government, particularly emergency services. Many will not only be able to make you aware of any dangers, but also have brochures, plans, and other resources that will help you prepare for any eventuality.

Once you know what natural disasters you can expect where you live, it’s time to learn how to best respond to them. Will you likely wait things out in your home, or will you be required to evacuate? Are there emergency shelters or evacuation routes you should be aware of? I know it’s man-made, but while you’re at it, it may be a good idea to try to find out if there are fallout shelters nearby and their capacity (check out the news about Russia, folks!).

Once you have the basics down, figure out a plan for securing your home, yard, and vehicles depending on the disaster. What can you do to make sure your property has the best possible chance to come out of the disaster undamaged? If you’re in an area prone to flooding, having sand bags on hand can be invaluable. Again, what you need will greatly depend on where you live and what natural disaster you can expect.

Having a good emergency kit that includes food, water, medication, first aid kit, flash light, radio, and a few tools is a good idea. Every household should have a kit that’s kept in good order and is easyemergencytote to reach in an emergency. Our local EMS recommended a large plastic tote to hold the emergency kit during a talk they gave. I bought one that was similar in size to what they had; mine is a 27-gallon “professional box” that has places you can put a padlock through.

Make sure you are aware of the potential threats as early as possible so you can prepare. Set up alerts on your phone (ping4alerts for iPhone here), sign up for local emergency preparedness emails (check with your local EMS or fire department), and keep an eye on the news and social media if you think there is a potential for a disaster. The earlier you know the better you can react and prepare. Listen to local authorities and don’t hesitate to evacuate should the need arise. Things can be replaced, people can’t.