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There are two ways to sleep well at night ... be ignorant or be prepared.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Check-in

Just a quick mind-set check today ...

Feeling good. No great worries.

As always, I'm keeping an eye on the horizon. But with my household's crisis preparations in order, I'm comfortable enough with current global, national, local, and personal situations.

On the longer-term radar screen, I've flagged the H5N1 avian flu threat as one to keep an eye on. But again, we're squared away for having on hand what our family would need if the worst happens in that regard, so all we can do is wait to see if anything comes of it ... and if it does, we're about as ready for it as we can be.

Farther down the list of potential threats ... winter is right around the bend here in Minnesota. It's not normally anything to whimper about, but this year we do have some interest in how high heating costs will be. We have some alternatives in that regard at our place so we'll be OK, but of course we're hoping natural gas prices will be lower than projections for the sake of all in the northern climes ... so it doesn't become a back-breaker for too many.

And oh yes ... on a personal level, my dear wife has some issues, as do all employees there, with her longtime employer--Northwest Airlines. I won't start spewing in that direction here. But of course, the economic outlook / personal financial stability is a key focus for most of us. We'll be needing to make some adjustments here one way or the other, but God willing, we'll be fine. I have a few different income streams, but the one that is of most interest and holds my greatest focus is my crisis preparedness business--Safecastle LLC. Preparedness in general out there in the US population is gaining momentum, and it's rewarding to be able to play some tiny part in it.

Is it time for one of your own situational self-assessments?

Stay safe. Be prepared. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"People Had Ample Time to Prepare"

Once again we see how, in spite of the best "parental" FEMA intentions and the reasonable extent to which logistical prepositioning was done, folks in a disaster area are left sucking wind if they were ill-prepared to take care of themselves for a time. (Yes, "reasonable" prework AND post-storm efforts ... how much should people out there really expect to be babied anyway? -- Sincere apologies to those who indeed suffered losses of all their preps in Hurricane Wilma ... but I suspect much of the current demand is by folks who have no business seeking governmental assistance at this point.)

Certainly the downwind recovery efforts from any major hurricane are always going to be tough. But the lesson to be learned over and over again is that a little personal preparation can go a long way.

Even "minor" hurricanes demand that folks in affected areas be situated under the assumption that for a few days at least, they will be without power and/or a means of getting food and water.

How much is it to ask of folks to have a few days worth of food and water in their homes? That should be a minimal threshold of readiness for all of us wherever we live, at any given time. But in the crosshairs of a hurricane, it's criminally insane to blow off the logic in getting yourself squared away if you're not already.

Check out this short news article ... Miami: Emergency Supplies are Dwindling.

Governor Jeb Bush said that people waiting in line for hours seeking relief should have done more to prepare for the storm. "People had ample time to prepare. It isn't that hard to get 72 hours worth of food and water."

Emergency-Food-Provider Capabilities are Again (or still) Straining to Respond

Still another lesson for all of us ... how quickly our just-in-time supply lines are emptied of capacity of the most urgently needed items when a surge in demand is realized.

Emergency foods of all makes and models out there in the U.S. have been on backorder since Katrina. Wilma will once again tax our capability to provide buyers of emergency foods what they need in the short term. And if another disaster strikes soon, we'll be heading into a period that I would characterize as a longer-term supply crisis.

If you are in need of bolstering your own emergency food stores, I'd advise you get on someone's waiting list now. Don't wait. It's possible the list will get longer yet before it shrinks back to normal.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Modulating the Cycles of Anxiety

First, to our friends, relatives, and all the rest in Florida--our prayers are being offered up for your safe passage through Hurricane Wilma and the aftermath. Certainly you are encouraged to contact me for any assistance I might be able to give in your recovery efforts.

Folks who are fairly new to crisis preparedness are susceptible to potential-threat-immersive breakdown. It's not an insignificant danger, as anxiety always takes a toll, and if you fail to manage your exposure and/or learn to cope, you can easily lose control.

This much is a given ... there are ALWAYS many risks and threats to your safety out there to be aware of. The news media and government authorities will often elevate one or more into clear focus at any given time in ways that are necessary to provoke desired (and occasionally unanticipated) reactions in public opinion and in organizational or legislative activity.

Sometimes, Mother Nature plays headline editor, as we have seen this fall with the record hurricane season that is still not finished. Major earthquakes periodically jolt us into being reminded of the seismic activity continuously underfoot. Of course, last year the tsunami in the Asia Pacific region raised our awareness of another natural danger to those living near the planet's coastal shorelines. And let us not ignore the current fearsome threat soaring through the highest echelons--a potential Avian Flu pandemic.

One of the worst everpresent dangers out there is mankind itself. Among such consequences of living together in a progressive society, we deal with the specter of technological/industrial accidents, terrorism, ethnic and cultural strife, international arms proliferation, and growing gang-related crime, to name just a few.

No Telling WHAT Could Ruin Your Whole Day

Of course those are just some of the big-picture disasters one might be concerned with. There are a whole range of personal-level eventualities that could one day touch our lives and cause grief or hardship.

The thing is, it's quite possible that one who is vulnerable to anxiety (isn't that really all of us?) can easily be sucked into the vortex of fear, as the latest elements of danger swirl about our consciousness, to then be added to the growing pile of worries accumulating at our feet.

Voracious newshounds are particularly vulnerable--the news industry is all about bad news. If there isn't a terrifying story happening, then there's always one to be manufactured about what COULD happen.

It's not easy to walk the line of being aware and prepared while keeping it all from becoming an internal driver in your life that will one day eat you from the inside out. You need to be able to erect a wall within that will allow you to keep an eye on the world, and make responsible, informed decisions that can mitigate your household's future risk ... while isolating it all from your emotional center of being.

Ideally, it should be like business. Business is business, preparedness is preparedness. Nothing personal, but we want to simply do what needs to be done, then go home at the end of the day to our real life--the one that is already in motion, occuring all around us in real time.

For many of us, crisis preparedness is a necessary evil. We know bad things happen and it's actually an effective therapy to have adequate gear, knowledge, and plans in the backroom should they ever be needed. But just like many other "feel-good" choices out there, it can be overdone and can potentially take control of our lives.

We don't want to live in the backroom with our gear and our fear. Keep it in its place and then go do what you've always done before--enjoy life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Future Revolutions

Preparedness is all about anticipating future possibilities. You don't need to determine whether events or developments are probabilities or longshots, you just want to know that there is a reasonable chance of their occurence, thereby justifying in your own mind a logic in positioning yourself appropriately. In this blog entry, I depart a bit from the standard disaster-planning angle. Instead, I offer up a different view of the future that might be worth considering. The way to prepare for that potential future is to commit to a personal principle of open-mindedness; fighting the urge to pre-conceive the world as you want it to be (while maintaining the ability and willingness to stand up for what is right).

You ever wake-up to one of those "aha" revelations that suddenly put things into a whole new perspective for you?

This morning was one of those moments for me, though admittedly at the time, it seemed a bit more clarifying than it does now. Still, it is worth addressing here. I figure this personal realization was largely the result of two things that I had been exposed to in the previous 24 hours, somehow bringing about a bit of a subconscious convergence of information ...

First--I had read (or at least scanned) the current Time magazine issue's, "The Road Ahead," one of those panel-of-geniuses-discussing-future-trends kinds of articles. I found it particularly obtuse and unsatisfying. But nonetheless, it got me once again stewing over our global direction.

Second--last night I was able to watch much of a PBS program, "Three Presidents, East of the Blue Ridge" on how Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, "enlightened" Virginia neighbors and friends, had become core founding fathers to ideas that changed the course of history. Interesting points addressed included the fact that they embraced the newest technologies of the time to run their plantations. So also, they together actively endeavored to combine classical insights with the latest range of knowledge, creating a degree of higher awareness that brought about the birth of a new nation.

Continuing Revolutions

As much as many of us would like to believe that we can hold fast to the ideals that over 230 years ago created the United States of America, time itself proves otherwise. I mean to emphasize that we are no longer a nation in and of ourselves ... and popular ideas and practices are not the same as what they were 20 years ago, let alone what they were over 200 years ago.

We are today inextricably interconnected among global cultures everywhere via commercial technologies. Of course, most significantly it is the global economy that is spreading and solidifying that connectivity more everyday (for an excellent look at where we stand today, see "The Pentagon's New Map").

Personally, I've never been a fan of globalization, but by now there's no turning back. To deny that we are global citizens on the fast track to erasing all types of nationalistic boundaries is to put oneself at a serious disadvantage in dealing with reality. It's not coming; it's here, and we're getting in deeper as we speak.

A World Without Borders?

International boundaries will remain on our maps for a while. Maybe for a long while. But the reasons for their being there are diminishing and their practicality will one day be universally challenged.

Perhaps we can still prevent the United Nations from becoming anymore of an albatross to our existence than it already is, but one way or the other, we're finding our way into a whole 'nother understanding of our time and place. (Heck, you need look no further today than how wars are not even about nations at odds with each other anymore. Assymetetrical warfare of the 21st century is about enemies confronting each other over ideas via economic and cultural tactics, confrontations in neighborhoods some of them share, and attacks in cyberspace.)

Let's face it--technologies, maps, cultures, and governments are historically ever-changing. Today, technologies are enabling an exponential acceleration in our societal evolution, and ultimately national boundaries are obstacles that will be fully overwhelmed and erased. Most people in America today still get bogged down in the nationalistic aspect of globalization, as there ARE supremely important issues of self preservation and self determination at stake. But unfortunately, denial is not an adequate strategy or defense.

United "States of Awareness"

This is where my light bulb was illuminated. Maybe the following new context for life has already been obvious to others, but to me, it's become an imminent possibility that opens up a whole different way of anticipating what our tomorrows may be like--or at least our children's tomorrows. And given current realities, I do see it as being a very real revolution.

Let's assume that life goes on for a few years uninterrupted by any MAJOR international conflict, or by a global pandemic that totally reshuffles the deck, or by a major asteroid strike, or a deep economic depression, etc. Corporate interests and investor profits continue to dominate governmental agendas. The economy and the environment make periodic demands of us to make adjustments in how we deal with day-to-day life. We as people are motivated by self-serving causes.

In other words, "the business of big business" continues to fuel the global economy, while the people of the planet buy into all the latest technological marvels. Apart from occasional limited-attention-span diversions, the global population becomes more and more self-absorbed, often enabled by the technologies out there that they can plug into.

In a sense, consumerism and technological advances often centered on the entertainment industries become unifying experiences for the peoples of the world. Inevitably, as they already have been, traditional cultural barriers continue to blur. "Crossover" relationships between people of various backgrounds are increasingly enabled by the internet and similar connections, and markets and constituencies become less about geography and more about common interests.

Think about that. It's already evident that one of the most powerful results coming about out of the internet's discussion forum and blogging cultures is that people of similar beliefs and interests find each other, sometimes magnifying their individual power to accomplish things by more than a factor of two, just by virtue of the connection between them. When larger groups bound by a shared passion come together online, potential for dynamic action becomes significant, even across artificial borders.

But while there are obvious unifying possibilities in technology, so too are there possibilites, even tendencies, for inflating the inevitable clashes ... with the chance for conflicts of epic proportions.

Bottom line, I'm talking about influence over the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Are we susceptible to purposeful mind control through our media? Yes. Unquestionably, that will always be a risk. But we may be most vulnerable to our own viewpoints, if that makes any sense.

Wars of Words and Ideas

I suspect that a reasonable conclusion is that this coming together of minds from around the world will not result in a single homogenized perspective. Indeed, I believe the greater potential is toward a proliferation of fervent special interests and a subsequent empowerment and enflamed wars of words and ideas ... wars that can erupt anywhere and everywhere, flashing across traditional borders.

It's a human trait ... we naturally are attracted to other people who think much like we do. We tend to congregate and reinforce those common viewpoints, often to the exclusion of strong counterpoints, or at least straining our capacity to tolerate them.

Talk politics or religion or ethnicity or even money and taxes--these are the kinds of topics that can spell trouble. Interest groups of this ilk naturally find inspired passions among participants. It doesn't take much to stoke the fires of discontent within a like-minded group if there is adequate fuel to pour.

Does it matter if the group is not a physically gathered mob? I believe there are many folks who can draw energy from online associations, for good or for bad. In the right situations, if a cause is justifiable in the minds of those who support it, the power of online suggestion and reinforcement can be considerable. The end result? Potentially, widely scattered unrest that can, if prevalent enough and focused enough, quickly bring about system failures throughout society and perhaps even pockets of anarchy. I suspect the greatest danger from something like this would come about as a follow-on to some other event that previously weakens the society's infrastructure.

Unify or Divide?

My main point is that as physical, geographic boundaries become less relevant, and national loyalties fade away, people will find common bonds with others who share interests and passions and viewpoints. As they develop those personalized bonds, they naturally become more exposed to emotional manipulation on various levels.

Potential for the development of countless, interspersed "nations" of special interests mainlining specialized information designed to incite discord creates a dynamic for the future that is worth thinking about.

Is it farfetched? I think not.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Why Survive?

There are a good many people out there who, when faced with the option of preparing for major calamity, literally ask, "Why would I want to survive something like that?"

Indeed, it's a fair question that all of us ought to periodically give some attention to because I think it just might help some folks regain a more balanced footing in their approach to preparedness.

Survivalist Caricature Issues

I tend to avoid use of the word "survivalist" because in the group mind of the general public, it conjures images of extremist behavior and attitudes. I even hate using the word "extremist" because it too carries unfair connotations which, in some cases at least, do good people serious injustice.

Still, on a sidenote--today our world IS all about imagery, reputation, and popular acceptance. Not that everyone admits that or gives in to play by those rules. But if any person, product, movement, or viewpoint is going to get any traction out there today, they're going to need some positive media coverage, a well-organized lobby or PR campaign, and maybe an advertising budget.

The closest thing to any of that the crisis preparedness or survivalist movement has had going for it has probably been the NRA. And obviously, the guns and hunting rights movement is at best a second cousin, twice-removed, from the far wider ranging issues that relate to disaster readiness.

So it's no wonder that up until recently, positive press for "survivalism" has been non-existent. If I would cast any blame for that it would be toward liberal media and education-policy powers who seized the initiative back in the '80s when racist militia groups were an easy target for left-wing anti-gun movements. Since then, the rap largely stuck and even expanded and became more deeply rooted. As an example, Marxist-based factions have gone so far as to become strongly focused on destroying one of the great original preparedness organizations--the Boy Scouts of America.

Like many other traditional, conservative targets out there, crisis-preparedness adherents passively endured (or not, as certainly many shied away from being part of anything controversial) the cheap shots.

But now, recent catastrophes have unavoidably shown the uncommon wisdom in being ready for hell or high water. And at last, we have none other than Uncle Sam footing the bill for disaster readiness PR campaigns. The times they are a changin'.

Still

Some of those in recent years who have maintained the readiness way of life have often, unfortunately, fit the bill in terms of reflecting the image the press has portrayed us all with. You know the stereotype--right-wing, "fundamentalist Christian," white male, reclusive gun-toting conspiracy nut living for the day when society collapses so they can at long last shake their fists and cry "I told you so."

Yes, there are many such characters out there, though I'd have to say that a strong majority of those integrating preparedness into their lives today are NONE of the above.

Thankfully, most folks are able to maintain a healthy balance in their approach to readiness and not go off the deep end. They "blend." They are the guy or girl next door. They are you.

Back to the Question

Why would most people who are striving to be ready for a disaster want to survive it? Seems like a dumb question, but it really is a core issue for many.

Some would say they are survivors. They are tough and bound to fight through whatever life dishes out.

Many do it for love of family.

Others hope to show themselves as being ahead of the curve, somehow smarter than most people, and are ready and anxious to show those others up.

A few quite simply are afraid to die or suffer, and see terrible risks out there all around.

There are a lot of reasons for wanting to survive whatever is coming down the pike. I want to suggest that folks periodically truly look at their own reasons and determine whether they are comfortable with them.

For instance ...

Do you secretly look forward to a collapse of the system, when the slate will be wiped clean and you'll get a fresh start?

Do you trust no one and fearfully guard your mindset and your preparations so that you will not ever have to share of what you believe or the supplies you have stored?

Have you become fearful or suspicious of any type of authority to the point of coming close to filling someone's definition of being a closet anarchist?

Ninety percent of the folks out there will not even have gotten to this point in this blog post before moving on because this all is so far off their reality screen. And that's good. But for the few who feel a twinge--of anger or confusion or sadness--give it some more thought.

My point is that preparing for crisis should not be about selfishness. Or vindictiveness. Or even about fear.

Surviving just to continue breathing seems like such a pointless exercise if we plan on doing it to the exclusion or expense of others. In fact, I have to believe it still means a lot to be an American. We are Americans together, not apart.

So much better it would be on the other side, wouldn't it, if we are able to have done what was needed for all we are in a position to help, while maintaining a high order of principle, just allegiance, personal honor, and faithful conscience?

No?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

CFR Discussion Transcript on the Threat of Global Pandemics

If you are looking for one document out there that effectively gets its arms around most of the seismic details surrounding the potential H5N1 pandemic--this is it.

In mid-June of this year, a panel discussion sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations was conducted involving some of the topmost medical minds on the planet. These folks are responsible for bringing the flu front and center on global agendas, and they are making it happen with an urgency that speaks volumes.

Take the time to read this transcript, top to bottom, and you will know just about as much about the risks and dangers we face from a global pandemic as anybody out there who is fighting on the front lines to make sure the world does its best to get prepared for it.

Bottom line ... we need time ... several years in fact before the worst-case pandemic occurs if we are to have any chance of allowing our way of life to emerge unchanged. Failing that, all bets are off.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/8198/threat_of_global_pandemics.htm

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What Would Be an Overreaction at this Point to H5N1?

For the last few years, there have been credible voices in the wilderness, sounding warnings about a coming flu pandemic. Dr. Michael Osterholm has famously used the apt analogy of being in Iowa, watching a tornado touch down 35 miles away, and then having to watch it keep coming ever closer, mile by mile.

The danger in this approaching storm, according to Osterholm, is that one simply cannot imagine a force with a capability of doing more damage to modern society than what a worst-case pandemic could unleash upon us.

The destructive power of the H5N1 supercell bearing down on us is potentially immense--and we're not just talking in terms of human lives lost.

Yes, there's still room for prayer and realistic hope that this "bird flu" virus will not make the final genetic adaptations to allow for rapid human to human communicability ... or that even if it does, it will lose some of it's lethality, which right now is off the charts in terms of being over 50% fatal to those infected, even with the best medical care available.

Dr. Osterholm has been warning of a viral storm sweeping across the planet that not only kills, but just as callously collapses the economic pillars of society in its wake.

Some folks HAVE been watching the stormcells approaching, since even before H5N1 first appeared on the radar screens in 1997 in Asia. We've been due and now overdue for the next great global flu pandemic, and this particular flu strain is looking very much like it is about to assume that mantle. It is possible it will become the most deadly flu strain to strike mankind in history, unless it suddenly, somehow, weakens as it mutates into the human scourge it seems destined to become.

Presidential Mention Draws Public Attention

At President Bush's October 4 press conference, he spoke at some length about the "important" topic of how we must plan and be proactive in anticipation of the H5N1 virus now. Subsequently, the media has embraced the subject with the usual fervent stampede afforded any "story of the hour" more relevant than, say, a Brittney Spears brassiere auction or a Michael Jackson facial suction.

For once, the public attention being drawn to H5N1 is warranted in my view, and not at all overdone as a few pundits are now moaning. Of course, in short order, the media WILL shift en masse and move viewers' attention away to whatever is next on the playbill. But folks will be well-advised to accept that this flu story will not disappear until one way or the other, the virus is rendered a "has-been."

So can we overreact to the threat? I suppose we can--particularly as individuals if we allow ourselves to become too focused on the pandemic possibility, at the expense of giving proper due to our normal day-to-day obligations and to our loved ones. Balance and calm is always key.

I need to be clear--there certainly are things we should all be doing now to prepare our households for a pandemic (see previous posts), should it actually occur. Moreover, governmental (federal, state, and especially local) and corporate authorities should be swarming all over this for as long as it takes to be fully prepared ... and we would all be wise to make sure they know about their constituents' expectations in this area. Lastly, the major media need to do the responsible thing and keep the heat on this story to make sure everything IS done that CAN be done to minimize risks before all we are left with is forced reactive measures that are never going to be as effective as they could have been.

Are YOU Overreacting?

It seems that even with the media's saturation/infatuation with the glorious gloom and doom of H5N1 for over a week now, there are still relatively few naysayers among them standing up. That is another indicator of how preparedness in general is becoming more widely accepted. Yes, there are plenty of efforts underway to try to properly downgrade the doom factor, and that's understandable since no one wants the scare to prematurely deflate the already shaky economy ... which by the way will ultimately be the most significant and impactful victim of a deadly pandemic--possibly killing as many in the end with its collapse as the virus would accomplish all by itself.

So are we overreacting?

No, not as a nation or as communities within that nation. A pandemic of the magnitude that is potentially on the doorstep is a bonafide threat to our way of life. And to this point, we are woefully unprepared to endure it. It would be very difficult to imagine how we could collectively overreact to the threat (although the folks who gleefully accused Y2K preventive efforts as being a "cry wolf" boondoggle would no doubt be quick to point fingers if this disaster is averted).

Individually, we need to keep a close eye on things and be sure we are taking the prudent steps to give our families a fighting chance should the virus make that fateful leap into the human population. But realize, just as with most other threats worth taking steps to mitigate, a pandemic is not at all a sure thing yet. And we are each best-served if we remind ourselves that we are limited in how much control we can ever actually exert over our futures.

Live today, prepare for tomorrow, but never obsess over what MIGHT be down the road.

If you can do no more than to simply embrace life and love today, then you are ahead of the game.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Personal Pandemic Preparedness Plan

A rather convincing, fairly succinct overview on the potential avian flu pandemic and a basic plan for dealing with it was posted at http://www.curevents.com/ by "Snowy Owl."

For those who may be at a loss for what to do in the face of such an ominous threat, read it (see link below), print it out, and start a systematic approach to preparing your family--today.

(Important note: there are a few things I would add or change in the plan, but the most urgent point would be to try now to acquire Tamiflu from an international pharmacy while it is still available. Be advised that some professionals are now saying 16 capsules per person may be necessary for H5N1--not the 10 most flus require.)

The article was compiled/authored by "Shaman", (dragonfly3@msn.com), and originally made available by request in August 2005, on the "WorldChanging" blog.

It can now be seen in it's fully formatted version at http://www.geftakysassembly.com/Articles/NewDirections/Pandemic.htm

One snippet:

ASSUME A PANDEMIC WILL OCCUR IN THE NEAR FUTURE

The time to begin planning is NOW. Conditions are right for H5N1 to emerge as a pandemic, and the spread of this virus among humans could begin at any time. Waiting for the World Health Organization to announce the pandemic has begun may not leave you enough time to accomplish many of the items outlined in this plan. When people do begin to take the threat seriously, there is apt to be panic and frenzied buying as worried individuals rush to stores to begin their own stockpile purchases. Avoid panicked crowds and stockpile necessities NOW. Additionally, once the virus does reach America, standing in a grocery line with dozens of other people increases your risk of potentially coming into close contact with infected individuals.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Pandemic Could Require Three Years Worth of Preps

One of the nation's foremost epidemiologists is Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Associate Director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Center for Food Protection and Defense, and Professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.

He has for years been leading the battle for public awareness of the imminent pandemic.

Dr. Osterholm has many times been quoted as saying that a pandemic could result in a collapse of the global economy and absolutely devastate our modern way of life. He estimates one to three years of preparations on governmental and organizational levels will be required to weather the storm. His learned warnings are quoted on media sites everywhere and one need only search "Osterholm, pandemic" to quickly amass more than enough insight into the situation the world is faced with.

"Preparing for the Next Pandemic" is one recent essay of his that is a particularly insightful look at how things could suddenly go south around the globe ...

Executive Summary: If an influenza pandemic struck today, borders would close, the global economy would shut down, international vaccine supplies and health-care systems would be overwhelmed, and panic would reign. To limit the fallout, the industrialized world must create a detailed response strategy involving the public and private sectors.

For the complete eye-opening essay by Dr. Osterholm, see it here, published late this summer in Foreign Affairs.

Do It Now

Needless to say, households are as needy for such preparedness levels as organizations, if not more so.

Please consider the immediate need to assess your family's ability to survive a collapse of "the system" --a collapse that could very well be of unimaginable historical proportions. The world is suddenly sitting up and taking notice--you need to do the same.

Three initial, main steps you need to take, among many others that should follow:

1. Acquire some Tamiflu for your family--find an online source now and pay the money. It will soon not be available at any price. Also, stock up on Sambucol. These represent our best bets at this point to survive an H5N1 pandemic.

2. Have on hand enough stored food (and the ability to provide your family with drinking water) to be able to survive at least a year. According to Dr. Osterholm, THREE years might be the prudent baseline. Here is an excellent Food Storage Calculator that can help you assess what you need to sustain your household for up to 36 months (Thank you to "Doctor Fungcool" for the link).

3. Give some long, serious thought to whatever other specifics your family would need to endure three years of what might be something akin to isolation at best, and at worst, basic subsistence in a world much more dangerous and unstructured than it is now.

This is not about losing one's sense of balance. Quite the opposite. This is right now an opportunity to take advantage of a loud warning we are being given, though it is still somewhat muted due to the need to prevent widespread chaos and panic. The time WILL come when anarchy becomes the rule, if this pandemic comes calling. Your goal should be to avoid that mess by doing the necessary legwork right now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

President Bush on the Possibility of Military-Enforced H5N1 Regional Quarantines

I would judge the potential for a global flu pandemic to be the most pressing risk we face at this point in time. It's telling that today in President Bush's press conference, he spoke at some length on the matter. He even acknowledged that outbreaks in the American population could call for military-enforced regional quarantines ... scary stuff when you think about it.

My hat's off to him for helping to bring this to the fore while folks still have some time to prepare.

Below are his comments with regard to the danger of H5N1 breaking out into the human population. The full
transcript can be read at the washingtonpost.com.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've been thinking a lot about pandemic flu and the risks in the United States if that should occur. I was wondering, Secretary Leavitt has said that first responders in the states and local governments are not prepared for something like that. To what extent are you concerned about that after Katrina and Rita? And is that one of the reasons you're interested in the idea of using defense assets to respond to something as broad and long-lasting as a flu might be?

BUSH: Yes. Thank you for the question. I am concerned about avian flu. I'm concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world.

I have thought through the scenarios of what an avian flu outbreak could mean. I tried to get a better handle on what the decision-making process would be by reading Mr. Barry's book on the influenza outbreak in 1918. I would recommend it.

The policy decisions for a president in dealing with an avian flu outbreak are difficult.

One example: If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?

It's one thing to shut down airplanes. It's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu.

And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have.

I noticed the other day, evidently, some governors didn't like it. I understand that. I was the commander in chief of the National Guard and proudly so. And, frankly, I didn't want the president telling me how to be the commander in chief of the Texas Guard.

But Congress needs to take a look at circumstances that may need to vest the capacity of the president to move beyond that debate. And one such catastrophe or one such challenge could be an avian flu outbreak.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Wait a minute, this is an important subject.

Secondly, during my meetings at the United Nations, not only did I speak about it publicly, I spoke about it privately to as many leaders as I could find, about the need for there to be awareness, one, of the issue and two, reporting -- rapid reporting to WHO, so that we can deal with a potential pandemic.

The reporting needs to be not only on the birds that have fallen ill, but also on tracing the capacity of the virus to go from bird to person to person. That's when it gets dangerous: when it goes bird, person, person.

And we need to know on a real-time basis as quickly as possible the facts so that the world scientific community can analyze the facts and begin to deal with it. Obviously, the best way to deal with a pandemic is to isolate it and keep it isolated in the region in which it begins.
As you know, there's been a lot of reporting of different flocks that have fallen ill with the H5N1 virus. And we've also got some cases of the virus being transmitted to a person, and we're watching very carefully.

Thirdly, the development of a vaccine. I've spent time with Tony Fauci on the subject.

Obviously, it would be helpful if we had a breakthrough in the capacity to develop a vaccine that would enable us to feel comfortable here at home, that not only would first responders be able to be vaccinated, but as many Americans as possible, and people around the world.

But, unfortunately, we're just not that far down the manufacturing process. And there's a spray, as you know, that can maybe help arrest the spread of the disease, which is in relatively limited supply.

So one of the issues is how do we encourage the manufacturing capacity of the country, and maybe the world, to be prepared to deal with the outbreak of a pandemic?

In other words, can we surge enough production to be able to help deal with the issue?
I take this issue very seriously, and I appreciate you bringing it to our attention.

The people of the country ought to rest assured that we're doing everything we can. We're watching it. We're careful. We're in communications with the world.

I'm not predicting an outbreak. I'm just suggesting to you that we better be thinking about it. And we are. And we're more than thinking about it, we're trying to put plans in place.

And one of the plans -- back to where your original question came -- was, you know, if we need to take some significant action, how best to do so. And I think the president ought to have all options on the table to understand what the consequences are -- all assets on the table, not options -- assets on the table to be able to deal with something this significant.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Top 10 U.S. Natural Disaster Threats

Hurricane Katrina was the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. in history, as measured by financial damage estimates. As a result, many Americans realized that crisis preparedness makes a lot of sense.

So is it possible that more tough lessons are around the corner? LiveScience.com has a fascinating countdown of the top 10 U.S. natural disaster threats posted on their site.

A quick rundown with links to their applicable explanations ...

10. Pacific Northwest Megathrust Earthquake (think BIG earthquake, huge tsunami)

9. New York City Hurricane (only a few hours to evacuate the city?)

8. Asteroid impact (ouch)

7. Los Angeles Tsunami (Katrina, but with no time to evacuate)

6. Supervolcano (Yellowstone caldera)

5. Midwest Earthquake (New Madrid devastation)

4. Heat Waves (danger is extreme but underrated)

3. East Coast Tsunami (remember "Deep Impact?")

2. Gulf Coast Tsunami (maybe mountaintop property is undervalued?)

1. Total Destruction of Earth (a whole 'nother top 10 list of how to destroy the planet!)

So if this list doesn't keep you up at night, perhaps it's at least a brain-goosing menu for your next screenplay disaster (as opposed to disaster screenplay ... wink-wink).

Personally, I'm waiting for the manmade disaster list (anybody have one?). Either way ...


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ramadan Terror Attacks

Terror attacks by radical Islamists are an everpresent danger for Americans today. American citizens are particularly vulnerable overseas; whereas at home here, increased security measures have seemingly deterred substantial follow-up attacks to the 9-11 hijackings.

Still, as time passes, we must fight the urge to grow complacent and overconfident in the United States. After all, our borders remain relatively unguarded and it is quite clear that any foreign national with the commitment to do so can enter the U.S. and find haven from suspicion almost anywhere there are related ethnic groups. It is a certainty that there are cells of terror operatives here and they are biding their time toward whatever their ultimate purpose.

Ramadan Attack Fears

The annual muslim Ramadan observance is now imminent. This holy month for adherents throughout the world will run for about a month starting on or about October 4.

The Jewish celebration Rosh Hashannah begins at approximately the same time.

Thus, this is a period of the year when observers are aware that the risk for teror is increased. Indeed, Al Qaeda has already been linked to last night's Bali bomb blasts that killed dozens, including many westerners. There's a real possibility it was simply the opening salvo to a series of attacks this season.

To mitigate your own risks here or abroad, avoid large crowds as often as possible. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for suspicious activity or behavior by those around you. Be particularly cognizant of unnatural bulges around the midsection that might indicate the presence of a bomb belt.

Beyond such common-sense approaches, there is not a lot one can do, short of giving in to unreasonable, paralyzing fear. Find the prudent middle ground between compacency and fear, and you'll be where you should be.

Nuclear Attack Rumors

There are some rumors circulating on the internet about an Al Qaeda offensive called an "American Hiroshima," said to be planned for seven American cities in the month of October. The main source for these stories is Journalist Paul Williams who, in the last couple of years, has written a couple of books on the Al Qaeda threat and has been on the book-signing trails ever since.

No doubt, Al Qaeda has been actively seeking nuclear weapons for years. The unknown is whether they have to any extent succeeded in acquiring any functional warheads or the technology to build their own. If they have, they would clearly attempt to bring the bombs into this country. However, there are a number of reasons to remain skeptical and unconvinced of the imminent danger.

After all, if you were to take this nuclear-terror development as a matter of faith, what would that mean to you and how you would go forward? There's only so much you can do, and once you've done it, you do need to carry on with your life ... until the danger becomes manifest.

J.R. Nyquist is a scholar and analyst worthy of immense respect. He has posted a fair and even-handed treatment of this nuclear terror issue that is well-worth reading:

Friday, September 30, 2005

Prepare for Economic Disaster

Every household SHOULD already be perfectly aware of the need to have some savings put aside for a rainy day. Sure ... to actually get it done is more challenging for some than others, so if you are not able to find the money for saving or investing beyond meeting your monthly budgetary needs (and perhaps for your extra crisis-preparedness investments), that's OK. You only do what you can do.

But if at all possible, we should all be trying to lay up a little something to fall back on. Why? ... common sense says, for personal setbacks such as job loss, income reduction due to injury or illness, divorce, etc.

But then, there is also the possibility of broader economic disaster. That is what I will primarily outline a plan for here, though to have a fallback financial plan of any kind is going to likely be a safety-net for you in whatever actual economic crisis you might one day face.

System Failure

First, let me be clear. I am not a financial adviser. I do not sell any kinds of investments or commodities. To tell you the truth, I'm barely qualified to keep my business's financial records from becoming a Quickbooks case-study in categorized chaos.

That warning out of the way, what I CAN impart here is some standard, basic conventional wisdom that most preparedness adherents would concur would be a reasonable approach for those looking to weather a recession or even a depression. Some of it is financially related, and some goes beyond that. You'll need to determine the wisest approach for your given situation, but I offer the following points to provoke some thought toward a world gone suddenly poor.

One other caveat--there are those who would say, any practical physical preparations would be superior to monetary assets on hand in a worst-case scenario.

Indeed, in the recent Hurricane Katrina aftermath, there were news reports of at least local pockets where a barter economy quickly superseded the normal system of trade. Gasoline, cigarettes, and beer replaced cash as the most effective units of trade. So if it's one or the other, physical preparedness or financial preparedness, you might consider getting your physical stores in place first.

So the big question is--Is it feasible that our economic system in America could be dealt a serious blow in today's world, to the effect of bringing the system to its knees? And in fact, would such an event not also disable the global economy and effectively leave us to our own devices to recover?

Yes, of course it's possible. Our economic system, increasingly dependent upon electronic security and viability, global political stability, and substantive interconnectivity among international entities of all stripes and principles, is constructed as a house of cards upon shifting sands. It seems only to be a matter of WHEN sudden gusts will take down the towers of blind, misguided trust we have built.

The global price of oil is just one obvious linchpin that is obscenely vulnerable to a range of issues beyond America's real control. Major acts of terror can also bring down our markets of trade in an instant, especially if targeted to do so as we saw on September 11, four years ago (do not forget that our economy's destruction is the ultimate stated objective of the Islamic terrorists we are at war with).

Could we withstand another major natural disaster anytime soon without breaking the back of this country's economic system?

And what about the expected avian flu pandemic that by all accounts will literally shut the world down for an unknown, prolonged period of time?

Yes. Economic disaster should be on your radar screen. Consider it possible and mitigate your risks.

Begin to Offset Your Risks

1. Do not have all your financial assets tied up in one place--especially not in the stock market. Within the last five years, that lesson was brought home to this generation of investors and it should not be forgotten. Neither should you count on a home or property that is bought and paid for as being "money in the bank."

2. Speaking of which, do not keep all or even most of your money in one bank. Wherever you do have your savings, be sure your money is easily and quickly accessible in the event you see indications of a potential banking collapse. It's happened before--here, and elsewhere in the world, so don't dismiss that as being too far-fetched.

3. Consider putting some of your money in precious metals and physically holding them (safely) in your possession. Gold and silver are traditional, historical ways of protecting wealth. If currencies become moot, it is logical to assume that many will see these metals (in the form of minted, recognizable coinage) as being worthy commodities for trade of all kinds.

4. Do have some cash on hand as well for emergency uses in the event of trouble of any kind.

5. Consider having on hand quantities of other items or materials of value that would be of universal practical appeal in a system-failure scenario. Almost anything is possible to barter, but some things will of course become more coveted than others in worst-case events ... use your imagination and determine whether it would make sense for you to put some of your excess available resources into commodities of potential worth. Think of things that everyone uses and needs but that would quickly disappear if the "Just in Time" supply system grinds to a halt.

6. I have to suggest that you give some serious thought to what you would do if you somehow lost your current home. How you would lose the home is irrelevant, as there are many ways it could happen. If it does happen, you would be well-served to have thought through your options at least preliminarily and have some options to pursue.

7. Finally, be sure you have a diverse array of skillsets within your toolbox. Be willing and ready to work in fields or in jobs that you are not involved in today. There may be more of a market for people able to engage in strong physical labor than in the predominantly managerial/administrative fields wherein America currently employs its people. Certainly, "necessary" physical trade skills and knowledge will be more in demand if global trade flows are interrupted. Knowledge and abilities will be king, so the more you have to offer in terms of practical, life-sustaining capabilities, the better off you will be. Now would be the time to start embracing those types of learning opportunities.


In summary, we are talking about preparing for the possibility of a wide-scale change in the landscape of American and global lifestyles. We hope it doesn't happen, but it could. So, if you want to be prepared for a disasters--this one is a fundamental threat that needs some attention.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

General NBC Threats - and Perhaps an Imminent Pandemic

I'm going to resume our on-again, off-again series on threats a family might want to consider in their preparedness planning. For similar posts on other threat possibilities, click on the August 2005 archives link in the right column.

Right up front, I want to point out the importance of an imminent pandemic threat that I will address shortly, so if you are not aware of it yet, please be sure to read on through to that section here.

NBC stands for nuclear, biological, chemical. The term is often used in military or law enforcement circles, referring to such purposeful attacks on a population or a locale. However, NBC also encompasses accidents that would release one of these types of harmful, toxic substances. So too, we will throw in naturally occurring virus or disease outbreaks in the human population--which, again, I will address later in this post.

However the "NBC" happens, we are talking serious, potentially life-threatening situations that you want to be at least minimally prepared for.

What to Do

Your course of action will obviously depend upon the exact set of circumstances in any NBC event.

I'm going to avoid backtracking on the nuclear/radiological situations since we addressed that type of threat in late August. Certainly, a situation involving radiation carries with it a unique set of solutions that one must be prepared to enact. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with that possibility and prepare accordingly.

In a real or suspected biological or chemical event environment, there are some basic, common objectives (to many bio/chem situations) one should pursue:

1. Though you will probably not be able determine the EXACT nature of a threat, try to quickly assess your immediate situation and calmly take action. Judge whether there might be an immediate local threat to your health. If there is, calmly determine to evade the threat.

2. Depending upon the nature of the threat, protect your eyes and cover your nose and mouth with a mask (try to keep a gas mask or surgical mask and duct tape handy) or at least breathe through some cloth to help filter out dangerous particles in the air. Note that a chemical threat is only going to be filtered out by an appropriate, fitted gas mask.

3. If you and the threat are inside, get outside ... or if that is not possible, move away from the source and open windows to minimize the danger and let in fresh air. Try not to touch any surfaces against your skin.

4. If you are outside, determine the position of the threat's origination and the prevailing wind direction. Move with haste away from the point of origin AND from the areas the air currents are carrying the toxicity ... most likely in a direction perpendicular to that lengthening, developing "fallout" area.

5. At the earliest opportunity, if you were possibly exposed to a chemical or biological substance, remove the clothing you were wearing, thoroughly wash yourself down head to toe, and seek medical attention.

As I've said repeatedly here before, it is key to remain calm so that you can make wise choices. But in many cases it will also be beneficial to control your respiration rate, avoiding additional air intake into your lungs that could prove to be contaminated.

Preventive Moves

  • You could find yourself exposed to or at risk for biological or chemical anywhere you go. Therefore, if at all possible, have at least some minimal protective gear handy--such as an N95 surgical mask and rubber/vinyl gloves. Carry a new (not outdated) top-quality gas mask in your car and have one fitted for each person in your household that is readily accessible. Make sure everyone knows how to put theirs on and how to use it and when.
  • At home, the ridiculed plastic and duct tape measures can indeed be useful in some cases, so it's a very cheap preparedness measure to have at the ready should the need arise. If there is a widespread contamination event taking place outside (that would preclude an effective evacuation), first, put on your mask, then close up your house, turn off your air conditioner or furnace, put out any fires in your fireplace or wood stove and turn off any gas appliances (which can create a negative air environment and serve to pull air into your home from outside). Then tape up a room and cover ALL openings to prevent contamination from seeping into your expedient shelter. Tip--in some cases, a HEPA vacuum cleaner can serve as a decent air-filtration/positive-air-pressure device should you need to stay in the taped up shelter for any length of time. Simply place the hose of the vacuum outside the plastic sheeting and tape around it to again secure your environment. Assuming you have electrical power, you can run the vacuum at least periodically to bring in filtered air. Note that you do not want to do this in the event of a chemical threat, since the HEPA filter will not remove chemical toxins.
  • It is worth mentioning (especially for people who live in proximity to chemical factories or toxic storage facilities or even near actively utilized railroad tracks) that there are NBC shelters available at varying costs. Our full-fledged steel shelter that is made to withstand a whole range of threats, including NBC environments with an integral NBC positive air pressure and filtration system, can be had for as little as under $15,000. We also have access to inflatable Anti-Bacteriological Chemical Home kit tents with integral positive air pressure and filtration system for under $700.

A Pandemic Threat

Now this is one where I must depart from my usual effort to avoid "scare-mongering." It's not that I am aiming to do that here, but there is now a real and imminent threat out there of which no one should be ignorant.

Generally, there is always a possibility of an emerging fast-spreading disease that could potentially sweep through an unprotected population.

But today in fact, there is currently a great deal of fear regarding the pending development of a disastrously deadly avian flu that could breakout of Asia and become human-transmissable. They say it could happen as soon as this winter and that we have little protection from if it happens.

It would sweep the globe. Right now, the fatality rate from the yet isolated cases of the H5N1 virus is approximately 55%. Contrast that with the catastrophic effect of the Spanish Flu pandemic in the early 20th century which had an estimated 2-3% fatality rate, and one gets the sense of how serious such an event could be.

Some of the same basic preventive measures used in the previously outlined NBC preps could be applied if it becomes apparent that a deadly flu or other communicable disease outbreak is occuring. The main difference may be that the danger from a pandemic could be extant for a very prolonged period of time. So it would be especially important to be well-prepared in all areas to sustain your family through whatever period is necessary.

1. Obviously, in a pandemic situation, you're going to want to isolate you family members from the rest of the world as much as possible. Stay away from crowds at the very least and away from other people indoors as much as you can.

2. Most other people will be doing the same thing so you could expect the wheels of the economy and society itself to come off for at least a period of weeks or months.

3. Have on hand a good supply of surgical masks of at least an N95 quality rating (when worn in public, duct tape a good seal to your face). Masks with eye shields are a plus. When going out, wear disposable gloves. Have on hand antibacterial hand soaps and cleaners and use them thoroughly when you may have been exposed to someone sick or to an area that might have been so contaminated within the previous several hours.

4. At the very least, practice good, common-sense hygiene after interacting with others. Good nutrition is also important.

5. Attempt TODAY to secure your family an adequate supply of Tamiflu, the only antiviral authorities today believe may minimize the deadly impact of the avian flu. There is not enough on hand in the world to protect even a small segment of the overall population, but in the U.S. supplies stand at a level that will help less than 1% of the population.

Once an outbreak occurs, Tamiflu will be strictly controlled and exceedingly expensive if it is available at all. In the U.S., a prescription is required. Be advised, it CAN still be had from online pharmacies elsewhere in the world at the moment. It is not a preventive medication--you will need to strictly follow dosage protocols AFTER you are exposed and show symptoms of the flu. Note that you will need to plan to perhaps extend the daily dosages from the normal 5 days to 8 days according to preliminary research on this particular virus strain--a very tough bug to overcome.

6. There are those who put a great deal of faith in the anti-viral capabilities of blackberry extract, particularly the brand Sambucol. At the very least, order substantial quantities of that as soon as possible and use it when exposure becomes probable.

7. Prepare as best you can to be able to allow for your family to endure long periods of isolation within your home. The objective is obviously to minimize family members' exposure to the flu virus. The bad news is, the virus may remain in the population for a long period of time so that the only way you will be able to overcome it is to become infected and somehow survive it ... hence the need for the Tamiflu and Sambucol. Still, avoidance for as long as possible is common sense, as with time, a vaccine or an effective antiviral might become available. Have plenty of food and needed medications on hand. Have quantities of cash available. Be able to transact as much business as possible online or by phone. Arrange to be able to work from home if possible. Have needed quantities of gasoline stored.

Of course, more common sense measures will occur to you as you think this through.

As always, these blog posts are not meant to be comprehensive documents that would be anyone's sole source of information. They are meant as primers, intended to initiate thought processes, prompting a reader to do more searching and learning, and ultimately take appropriate actions to prepare for potential crises that could impact their own families.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Take the Quiz: How Panic-Proof Are You?

Prayers are continuing to be offered for the folks enduring Hurricane Rita on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast and inland. The winds and rain will take their toll, but at this point, it appears the impact will not be a worst-case event.

Nonetheless, those who evacuated the coastal regions did the right thing, given the potential of the storm as it was assessed a few days ago. All in all, the people of Texas in particular have again showed themselves to be some of the most resilient and resourceful Americans anywhere.

Now, it seems the worst of Rita in the end will be the criminal element taking advantage of the situation ... and perhaps the ripple effect of national gas prices going up and the subsequent impact on prices throughout the economy.

Fear and Panic are Never a Positive

In any crisis or expected crisis, or even in merely possible problem situations, there are going to be people who are going to lose "it" ... that is, their ability to think rationally and react accordingly in a timely fashion to the conditions they find themselves presented with. In a truly life-threatening situation, that can mean the difference between survival and terminal failure.

Obvious relevant example: a panicking person in the water is not only a probable drowning victim, but is a danger to any potential rescuers as well.

Panic is a real, worst-case result of a major event both in terms of an individual's reaction and a population's mass disposition. On a recent preparedness news program, an expert mentioned that the human brain stops functioning normally when the heart rate hits the 110-130 level. That is a medical milestone for actually measuring panic.

If you can control your heart rate and your emotions, you're a strong candidate for surviving any crisis. If you're prone to overreacting, then take steps now to learn how to remain calm.

In theory at least, being physically and materially prepared should provide an edge to anyone in terms of knowing they have done what they can to mitigate their own risks. It works for many, but for some, a key preparedness action will be to gain better control over their emotions.

Test Yourself

Here's an interesting page on pbs.org where you can take a 1950s era test that measures a person's susceptibility to panic. It may not meet psychoanalytical standards today, but at the very least, it's a way for you to get yourself thinking about how important self control is and how you might be able to improve your "score" in that regard.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Houston's Rita Evacuation

Here we go again. The good news for Houston area residents is that the massive Katrina disaster was recent enough and impactful enough to have made a serious impression on everyone on the Gulf ... and throughout the country for that matter.

So Houston is benefitting from all those tough lessons learned, by individuals and by the involved authorities.

Here's a report that reflects the uncommon and welcome wisdom being exhibited with regard to this pending crisis: "Houston Residents Scrambling Out of the City." The freeways are in gridlock for 100 miles, gasoline is running out along the routes away from the coast, and of course tensions are high. But with Rita's expected landfall 48 hours away, there will be plenty of time for these folks to be well out of danger.

I have to wonder if there are not decent alternative routes to be taking, other than the eight lanes of freeway (in some parts) being made available to evacuees? There have to be some folks who have their back-up routes mapped out and are using them to their advantage. The freeway gridlock scenario is not a good situation in any event, but at least right now, imminent danger and panic is not a part of the mix.

Once again, prayers are being said here at the Refuge for those who will be struck by a major hurricane along the Gulf Coast. May there be far fewer people who end up, for whatever reason, staying home to foolishly do battle with nature's greatest fury.

Interesting perspective: Hurricane Rita - to stay or go - which one is the right move?
(My 2 cents again: Folks who have previously given this all some thought and preparation are three steps ahead of everyone else and are not having to agonize over the logistics.)

Deja vu all over again?: Previously run hurricane models depict massive devastation in Houston area.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Down Into the Bunker We Go

As I thought might happen with this Bunker series, traffic is heavy. (See Part 1: Welcome to My Underground Bunker; Part 2: How to Hide a Fallout Shelter in the Middle of Suburbia, Part 3: Is There Good Reason to Hide Your Shelter?) So as you're passing through, don't linger too long at any one post, out of consideration for the tourists lining up behind you. ;-)

Today, we actually get to go down the ladder into the bunker, so watch your step. It's 10 feet down from the lip of the hatch to the carpeted steel floor. I HAVE built in a landing at the bottom to allow for some storage space underneath as well as to help break your fall in case you slip on the way down. But actually, the ladder rungs are of a non-slip variety, so there's little danger of taking a tumble.

Now I do hope you're not expecting something like the Greenbrier Bunker. After all, I'm not planning on housing any congress critters or executive branch royalty, and I don't even have any local government yokels on my guest list, so what you're about to see is but a humble one-family disaster lifeboat. Snug, but outfitted to do the job.

And you'll have to forgive me if I don't give you the FULL classified briefing on the facilities here. Quite simply, you are not cleared and do not have a need to know all that lies within.

The Rundown

This custom-built, made-to-order fallout shelter is constructed of steel plate up to 7/16" thick. The dimensions of this particular shelter are 7' tall, 8' wide, 16' long.

The construction is fully double-sealed and coated against moisture seepage. Magnesium anodes on the outside deliver corrosion protection in most conditions for up to 90 years or more.

The several-hundred-pound blast door/hatch is 32" x 32" with heavy duty latches, hinges, and lift cylinders to ease the lifting and lowering of the door. It easily snaps/locks from within to keep out everything from F-5 winds to no-good zeros who would dare to try to enter. I have hooked up a half-ton manual hoist onto the underside of the hatch that allows us to easily maneuver heavy loads into and out of the shelter.


The shelter comes standard with a state-of-the-art NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) air filtration system rated to support 12 people for an indefinite period of time. The filtration unit itself is powered electrically or manually in the event of power failure. The system is designed to maintain a clean, safe, positive air pressured environment within the shelter and includes steel blast valves to prevent explosive air pressures outside from compromising the internal air quality.

The shelter is ducted into the home's HVAC system but is easily sealed off from the external system from within when the need arises.

The bunker is wired with two circuits (120 and 220) for power. A generator plugged into the home's transfer switch also accommodates the power needs below in the event of a blackout. Further, there are stored, chargeable electrical power sources within the shelter.

A landline telephone, external cell phone antenna with various adapters, DSL, external broadcast TV antenna, and satellite TV are also wired in.

Hardwired, hidden external video cameras are powered via the circuits inside and a monitor within keeps occupants apprised of what is going on above ground.

There are three fold-out steel-framed bunks engineered to support up to 1000 pounds each. The floor is fully carpeted. A fold-out table is mounted on the wall. There are wire shelves along the walls and a tool bench in the corner.

On one wall is a colorful, photographic wallpaper mural of a mountain lake scene, to sooth any claustrophobic tendencies someone might have inside.

Of course, there is a fair quantity of water, food, tools, books, games, a laptop, supplies, and miscellaneous equipment taking up much of the available space ... but not TOO much space to preclude us from quickly shoehorning our entire family down there if that time comes unheralded.

Miscellanea

A good friend, Scrapman, asked what one could do if trapped inside and heavy debris fell over and blocked the hatch door. Actually, there WOULD be a few options ...

1. We'd deploy the 10-ton hydraulic jack mounted under the hatch specifically for that purpose. If a few cranks on that thing fails to move the blockage ...

2. We'd get to work on opening up the back door. Actually it's an emergency exit that requires loosening something like 32 or 36 bolts that hold that exit plate onto the ceiling. Above it is a quantity of gravel and a waterproof barrier (selected to head off winter-frost freezing solid the ground above that is part of that outside escape route).

3. We would also have the possibility of dialing out for help if all is well with one of the phone or radio options in place.

Next point--Earlier in this series, I mentioned the gentleman last year who aided tremendously in determining how I should best approach my bunker plans. He came at it from a concrete contractor's perspective and I learned a great deal about concrete bunkers and their utility. I spoke again with him last night and he gave me his permission to name him here in case anyone in the Twin Cities area is interested in a concrete bunker. His name is Bud Borglund, and he's got his own prominent contracting business. If you'd like to get a hold of him, email me and I'll put you in touch.

Do You Want One?

So what do you think? The world can be a pretty scary place, and there are times all of us start wondering about what direction our future is taking. But to be frank with you, I have never felt quite so good about the world and its prospects.

Why? Well, OK, I'm a bound and determined optimist who looks for the positive and tries to build on those opportunities. But on a real personal level--my gut is thanking me for putting in the shelter ... and so too is my wife who had a reservation or two last year. Having the bunker as a safe, secure, convenient retreat for a wide range of threats sure does make the world seem a bit rosier. Laugh if you will--it sounds like a sales pitch--but it's true. And other bunker owners will tell you the same thing. What a well-built bunker buys you is unparallelled peace of mind.

Easier Than You Think

Now HERE is the sales pitch ... if you're interested in one of these for your own family, email me. This year, I was so pleased with my shelter experience I agreed to help the builder/installer market his product online.

Not that he needs me or anything ... he's been building and installing these shelters all over the US for more than 10 years ... for government agencies (to include FEMA), large and small corporations, and households across the country. His shelters are designed by a structural engineer certified in all 48 of the continental US states to far exceed FEMA standards. And he builds each shelter from a menu of sizes and options so that it is exactly what you want and need. Storm shelters start from as little as $3700 (5x5x8). Well-equipped fallout shelters start at $14,600 (6x6x12). We also offer above-ground saferoom installations.

We are continuously backlogged and the business is growing. Imagine that. Why would demand be so strong? Well, that's perhaps what all the other posts we've made in this Refuge blog can provide clues to.

But does that increasing demand mean if you want one NOW, you have to wait for long before you could have some of your own deeply rooted peace of mind? Nope, it doesn't. You can have your own installation completed (installations normally are done in one day by the builder) in a matter of 2-4 months.

Get on the short list. You never know when something could happen that would make it a very long list.