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

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Study: Bird Flu Biggest Current Worry

Some snippets from a summary article on the "Global Risks 2006" report ...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060126/ap_on_re_eu/world_forum_global_risks_1

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer Thu Jan 26, 5:43 PM ET

DAVOS, Switzerland - The global threat that most preoccupies the world's business leaders is the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, according to a study released Thursday at the
World Economic Forum.

Other global risks, such as terrorist attacks and the possibility of an even bigger oil price shock, were deemed just as dangerous, but less likely to happen in the coming year, said the "Global Risks 2006" report ...

... "If the avian flu H5N1 virus mutates to enable human-to-human transmission, it may disrupt our global society and economy in an unprecedented way," said the 22-page risk study, which was released by a panel of companies and experts.

While the report predicted a number of small-scale terrorist attacks in 2006, it said large-scale simultaneous attacks were less likely, primarily because the capability of terrorists to coordinate their activities had diminished. ...

... "Terrorist attacks involving aircraft and high explosives have already had a massive global impact," the study said, but added, "The capacity of terrorist organizations to act globally in a coordinated way has diminished."

The risk of a major attack will rise in coming years, however, it said.

The report warned of other possible severe shocks, such as an oil price spike to $100 a barrel or an earthquake hitting Tokyo, but said those risks had a low likelihood of occurring.

"The world suffered an oil-price spike above $70 in 2005," the study said. "The world's reliance on hydrocarbons and growing concerns about the geopolitics of supply mean that oil prices will inevitably be an issue of concern in 2006 and beyond."

But even if oil prices should rise above $100, it is "relatively unlikely" that they would remain so high for an extended period, it said. ...

... The Forum study was based primarily on contributions from Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., Merrill Lynch and Swiss Reinsurance Co. and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nabarro: "The moment the pandemic starts it's too late to get prepared"

No reason to panic, but certainly, folks should have this front and center on their radar screens if they are preparedness oriented.

Excerpt from ...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060124/hl_afp/healthfluun_060124182621

World must act as if flu pandemic imminent: UN official

GENEVA (AFP) - The world must brace for a human influenza pandemic, acting as if it will strike "tomorrow," the UN official preparing the battle said.

Many people appeared to be under the impression that they would have time to prepare for the widely feared pandemic but that was wrongheaded, said Dr. David Nabarro.

"It's very hard to get people prepared for something that is as uncertain and unclear as this problem," Nabarro told reporters.

"So many people, when I talk to them about getting prepared, seem to imply that we've got months in which to get prepared but I say to them: 'It may not be months.'

"It could be that we're going to get human-to-human transmission tomorrow so please act as though it's going to start tomorrow. Dont keep putting off the difficult issues'."

The H5N1 bird flu virus has affected poultry flocks in the Far East and Turkey, and has claimed some 80 human lives after spreading from birds to people.

But experts fear the virus could mutate almost overnight and unobserved into a new form that would spread easily between humans and spark a repeat of the global influenza pandemics that killed tens of millions of people in the past century.

"There is a sensation for all of us who are working on this of standing on the edge of a really deep precipice and not knowing how far we're going to fall," said Nabarro.

"The moment the pandemic starts it's too late to get prepared." ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Reserve Your Sense of Urgency for When It's Required

Preparedness, by nature, is about anticipating (and getting ready for) significant trials and challenges. So it's no surprise when those of us who choose to incorporate crisis planning into our lives occasionally become wrapped up in ominous threats that seem to be barreling down on us ... though their actual position and course over the horizon is much more remote than what we believe.

Put another way, there are many who, after investing some time and money into being prepared for whatever may come, actually start to overextend themselves in finding daily justification for their preparedness activities. And taken to the extreme, they even start to hope for realized doom and gloom.

Is that a problem? Well, I say that yes, it can be a problem when the quest for new urgent scenarios becomes all-consuming and balance is lost in being able to actually comprehend the more benign side of our reality equation.

"Fear Du Jour" Planted by the Media

The media sells advertising and product by trying to connect emotionally with an audience. The only way to do that with many today is via fear and violence. Thus, among all the other ramifications of that, the news media must regularly come up with scary and appalling stories--"potential" stories will do when reality falls short--but they must be made "real" if they are to touch a nerve.

So we of course, are extremely well informed today about every bad turn our world takes and could possibly take, and some of us lose a grip on the probabilites for a relatively non-eventful future vs. the various long odds out there for any of those pumped-up worst-case scenarios to actually come a calling.

As the World Turns

My point--that every single day of my life, I would bet the mortgage on the fact that the sun will rise and fall as it always does for almost all of us on the planet. Most of our lives will probably be lived out in relative peace and tranquility, and few of us will ever be seriously challenged to survive in unusual fashion by a calamity. (No, I do not at all minimize the threat of war or great disasters, and I am ready, but those threats must remain in context of the world as it is at the moment if one wants to have a healthy life reflecting some level of normalcy.)

Understanding the odds allows me to keep on keeping on with my day-to-day existence. Enjoying it. Appreciating it.

If you can keep your approach to preparedness in balance, preparing for possibilities, but not becoming consumed by them, then you'll actually be best situated for not only your day to day life, but also for any eventuality that might arise.

That is because your easy mental stance will allow you to recognize and react when a threat actually materializes as being imminent. Believe me, swinging and missing over and over again does no good in helping you to connect when the game is on the line.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nyquist Lays Out Fundamental Flaws that Make Us Vulnerable

Last essential dose of J.R. Nyquist for now ...

- "Since authority has broken down, personality takes its place."

- "The 'last man' is led by peer group pressures. He always compromises and retreats. He expertly maintains the lies put into his custody and congratulates himself on being 'practical.' As a coward and subjectivist, he secretly thrills to the notion that truth doesn't anywhere exist and that if it did exist it would remain forever unknowable."

- "American culture is 'economic' in nature. Our system of government was organized so that economic activity, perhaps at the expense of other activities, might thrive. This was a proper orientation for a developing frontier society where life was at first primitive, harsh, and unsettled. But somehow we never managed to evolve beyond these humble beginnings; and as we grew in affluence, we retained our economic fixation, failing to open up other cultural horizons. Today the growth of the economy has become the end-all and be-all. Even our basic view of man is tainted by economism. What defines us now, more than anything else, is our continuing reduction of everything to economics, which we imagine is an entirely rational thing to do. We talk in terms of supply and demand, but we forget that demand is a mystical thing, with its roots going down into the soul.

"Our economism also leads us to forget that there are human crises outside the locus of mutual profitability, in which one man's gain is amother man's loss (i.e., as the fundamental social problem). Question marks seem to mount. Can economics swallow art, religion, and politics without digestive calamity? Does the multiplication of wants through commercial advertising bring us happiness or have we merely reestablished misery by other means? What happens to the virtues of self-denial and self-control under a regime that sustains itself by breaking these virtues down and by cultivating (especially through television) a regime of self-indulgence?"

- "When 'success' became a measure of moral worth in our society, the 'honest poor' had no leg of self-esteem on which to stand. And this is the origin of our modern rabble."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More from Nyquist's "Origins of the Fourth World War"

More Chapter One excerpts from J.R. Nyquist's must-read "Origins of the Fourth World War" ...

- "Moral relativism begins with the premise that there isn't any truth. But is this really true?"

- "Today, there is no interest in conversing with one's neighbors; diversity hemmed-in and foredoomed; a flurry of unneeded face-lifts, butt-lifts, nose jobs, cheek implants, youthful images, diets, suctions, fastings, and purgings--the world falsified according to the rules of sex-appeal. This makes for a new society and a new escapism: an escapism detached from the religious impulses of old; an escapism by way of lowest common denominators. Ergo, an increase in sloth and fat; an increase in reactivity versus activity; a weakening of the moral muscle; a decline in originality coinciding with a thirst for novelty. Mind-set? Jaded. A need arises for the bizarre, the sick, the increasingly hysterical and emotional. We have come to expect a presentation of the world better than the world: more interesting, intense, and engaging--which leads to entertainment instead of church as the path to paradise; eclipsing the whole of real existence, even to the point of undercutting the human imagination. Enter television."

- "The essence of our society's connecting fabric is an idiot box. Type of shows? Comedy and drama; especially drama with 'happy' endings, non-tragic, without any sense of the inevitable--therefore, no sociological sense either. We now have an entire nation with the same vocabulary of vicarious experiences, with the same unrealistic expectations. Emphasis is on images rather than concepts; therefore, a lessening of mental agility; a shrinking of our vocabulary; the end of eloquence; a decline in reading; also an increased tendency to characterize one's adversary as evil; violence, terror, bloodshed as a stimulant suggestive of a 'snuff' movie."

- "War without loss is an immorality. That we have imagined otherwise merely demonstrates that our thinking has become inverted."

- "Today, as never before, the pariah is the only man with the chance to think for himself. Everyone else is relentlessly compelled by peer pressures. Everyone constantly blackmails everyone. The threat of ostracism easily molds the soft democratic soul into fashionable shapes.

- "The out-of-fashion individual, the outcast (perhaps the only real human being remaining) eats out of some dumpster on the edge of town."

- "Our law-abiding citizen of today--not moral, but tame, domesticated, lazy, comfortable."

- "The most commonplace psychiatric pathology of the last twenty-five years is something called 'character disorder.' This is merely another way of talking about moral decline without using the word morality."

Still a bit more next time.

"Safecastle & Son"

Just wanted to share a photo of a couple of hard-working guys in their new, personalized (note the monogrammed sleeves) Safecastle sweatshirts.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nyquist Insights on America and Decadence


I'm slowly working through J.R. Nyquist's "Origins of the Fourth Wold War" again. Chapter one is titled Decadence, and it consists of a series of separate notes that reflect his view of where America is today (actually the book was published in 1999, but they certainly still ring true).

Here and perhaps in my next post or two, I intend to provide some interesting, selected quotes from that first chapter in a fascinating book, in which he sets the stage, providing context for what is in the wings.

  • "Patriotism and paranoia are two words that have been creeping, ever so slowly, even mysteriously, toward one another. We ought to wonder why these two words are becoming one single and discreditable whole. Perhaps this shows more than anything, the indirect effects of an intellectual culture that is hostile to patriotism, and a patriotism that feels an encirclement progressing against it. It may also be something orchestrated, something induced, by play-acting paranoids rendering suspicion as a form of illness."

  • "What we need is an honest critique of Utilitarian Civilization; in other words: a critique of the rationalizing, liberal-democratic type of social order in all its aspects; especially with regard to its decadence of form, its declining standards, its contempt for traditions; and today's ultimate tendency towards a breakdown of order altogether. We must come to terms with our general and increasing rudeness, our predilection for anti-aesthetic judgments, our ignorance of history, our inability to introspect, our 'education to make stupid,' our pacifism with which to bring about our greatest wars, our careerism, our obliviousness; and last but not least, our shallow and feeble optimism."

  • "The illiberal supports of liberalism are gone. The foundations of the capitalist order have been weakened or destroyed by capitalist prosperity. Only one thing can save us from utter degradation, and that is--utter catastrophe."

  • "We live as if in a dream. Our sense of self-preservation has nearly left us. All moral limits are gone. Work and play absorb our every moment. Silent time is impossible to bear, while the music remains very loud. The new sin, of course, (besides self-restraint) is thinking. For the first time in history it is possible the 'think too much,' because thinking, if taken too far, leads to uncomfortableness; and above all, we are the Comfortable Ones."

  • "Necessity was once the backdrop of human politics. Today, a new condition has come about: sensual pleasure as backdrop. No longer do we have a government fearful of bread riots, but a government concerned with smoking, drunk driving, and drug addiction; a government involved in problems of malconsumption and over-consumption. Because of this, another ethic rises to dominance--non-fat, non-smoking, and caffeine-free ..."

More next time.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

ScramKit ChowHauls--Come and Git It!

The brand new ScramKit ChowHauls are available today for the first time ever. Initial quantities are limited, so if you want immediate delivery, act now. (Email me at jcrefuge@safecastle.net for your best deal.)


ChowHaul 14.2
(shelf life of 5 years)

list price: $675 plus $21.99 flat rate shipping

14 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 40 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 14 days, or one adult for 28 days. Contents include:

- 112 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (four Just in Case units)

- 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)

- 4 Jetboil fuel cannisters

- 120 Katadyn
MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets

- 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)

- 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade

- 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag, 36"x16"x16", includes removable shoulder strap



ChowHaul 7.2
(shelf life of 5 years)

list price: $435 plus $17.99 flat rate shipping

7 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 25 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 7 days, or one adult for 14 days. Contents include:

- 56 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (two Just in Case units)

- 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)

- 2 Jetboil fuel cannisters

- 60 Katadyn MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets

- 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)

- 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade

- 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag w/ waterproof PVC back, 30"x15"x14"

Add-on Options

A ScramKit Responder - belt-worn, comprehensive preparedness resource, normally $239 plus shipping, only $189 with the purchase of a ChowHaul

A Katadyn Mini - the lightest, most compact water filter on the market--a complementary addition to the ChowHaul contents ... fits nicely in the ChowHaul bags. Normally $89.95 plus shipping, only $79 with the purchase of a ChowHaul.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Evacuate or Defend?

There's a basic, all-important decision that often has to be made in the face of impending crisis. That is, flight or fight ... bug out or dig in ... run or stay put.

We need to be prepared for either side of that equation. It's great to have all your stored food, tools, supplies, etc. that fill up your basement, because there are plenty of scenarios where all those resources will serve you well. But there are also a myriad of cases where the smart money picks up and gets out of Dodge. In that kind of situation, it's often going to need to be done on a moment's notice, so we need to have some resources packed and ready to go.

Examples

It's not always easy to make the right decision. Some folks have a hard time leaving their homes and possessions behind if there is a danger they will be destroyed.

One memorable example was an old fellow named Harry Truman who, in 1980, refused to leave his lodge on Spirit Lake in the shadow of the building eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. He had run the lodge since 1928, and his stubborn refusal to abide by evacuation orders was given much media attention at the time. Of course he and his beloved lodge were lost in the catastrophic eruption ... his body was never found.

It's not at all unusual for stubbornness or ignorance to prevent folks from recognizing the nature of impending risks and to accurately assess their options. Paralysis is far easier to give in to than to leave it all behind. How many folks lost their lives to Hurricane Katrina because they chose not to evacuate, in spite of the most urgent warnings given by authorities? Certainly many hundreds ... perhaps thousands.

Sometimes, warnings do not leave any time for thought or regret. I suspect that immediate-threat situations leave less time for people to decide to stay put and instead demand their logical, instinctive responses to rule.

For example, there were some who recognized the coming tsunami a year ago and took immediate action that saved their lives. Wildfires or forest fires often provide some small window of opportunity for evacuation for those in their path. People who see an approaching tornado do not dally and over-think their options--they either get into their available shelters or they flee if none are available, depending upon their proximity to the funnel cloud.

The list of potential threats would be endless. Sometimes, we are given days to mull over our course of action. Sometimes only minutes.

And of course, there are plenty of events where no warning is given ... such as major earthquakes, industrial accidents, terror attacks, and on and on. In those events, survival can be affected by instantaneous reactions ... but of course in some cases, nothing can prevent the worst from happening.

The bottom line is, when we are given fair warning of impending disaster, we must be physically and mentally prepared to make the right moves.

Basic Choices

I'm going to condense and simplify our choices to try to apply them to most situations, though of course you will be best served by keeping a clear head and calm demeanor in order to think through what must be done when you are faced with a potentially life-threatening situation. In most cases, your options would fall into one of these categories:

1. Dig-in. If you are at home or work or on other familiar ground and you know your available resources and shelter will provide you with what you need, this is often the wisest choice to make (and the one we often spend the most time building up in our preparedness activities). If you have a hardened, storm-proof shelter with supplies in stock, and you do not face a flooding or fire risk, or there is not an air quality situation that makes staying put a losing proposition, then you may very well opt to "stay home." After all, if most others are having to evacuate the area, you could find yourself in a dangerous gridlock or panic situation out there secondary to the major risk, but just as dangerous. So, if you are well postioned to stay right where you are and the risk is appropriate to your preparations, then stay put.

2. Bug-out. If you have no decent shelter and supplies available where you are, or the threatening situation will overcome your position (as in fire, flood, toxic gas), then you must pick up and go. If you are adequately prepared for this kind of event, you will have some needed resources packed and ready to go--in your closet, under your desk, and/or in your vehicle. Commonly called a bug-out bag, you'll want to have at a minimum, some drinking water, food, a change of clothing, cash, credit card, ID, a contact list, flashlight, first aid kit, needed medications, a surgical mask to filter airborne particles, a multitool, and cell phone. This list can be greatly expanded depending on your situation. (In the north, smart folks have blizzard bags in their vehicles that include blankets, food, matches, hand warmers, etc. in case we are ever stranded in our cars in the cold.) Figure that everyone should have at least a 24-hour emergency bag with them wherever they are. Many have a few bags ready to go that provide care and sustenance for a week or more. The Katrina aftermath was a good example of the wisdom in that approach.

3. React. No-warning disasters or threats require some mental acuity more than anything else. If there are adequate physical preparations on hand, that can often be of great use as well. I am thinking here in terms of a violent assault, a home intrusion, or a sudden geophysical act of God. Other potential scenarios could include a major transportation or industrial accident that releases toxicity or radiation into your area ... or an act of war that would include a chemical, biological, or nuclear event. If you have previously trained or prepared or thought through your options, you will be ahead of the game. If you are surprised with a situation that you have no ability to deal with, good luck. Don't obsess, but give some thought to your potential risks and figure out now what you might be able to do.

Above all, try to stay calm and within your capabilities as you try to deal with a situation. A human's heart rate reaches a certain level usually seen in "panic situations" when normal brain activity is impossible. (Think mass crowd panic.) Do not assume that you will always think or react rationally. Preparation, mental and physical, can help and will often mean the difference between life and death.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Next ScramKit Launching--the "ChowHaul"


You may recall that a few weeks ago, the first product in the ScramKit line was unveiled--the Responder Personal. It is a comprehensive, belt-worn resource kit, helpful in just about any crisis situation you could find yourself in.

We are now about to launch the next ScramKit product that really has no peer and that most everyone ought to have on hand. We call it the ChowHaul and it will be available after the first of the year.

When it is available, product images and prices will be posted here and the store links will of course also be provided.

In the meantime, be advised that this is what is coming, and if you would like to be sure you get yours promptly, you'll want to be among the first to respond:

ChowHaul 14.2
(shelf life of 5 years)


14 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 40 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 14 days, or one adult for 28 days.

Contents include:
  • 112 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (four Just in Case units)
  • 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)
  • 4 Jetboil fuel cannisters
  • 120 Katadyn MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets
  • 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)
  • 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade
  • 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag, 36"x16"x16", includes removable shoulder strap

ChowHaul 7.2
(shelf life of 5 years)

7 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 25 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 7 days, or one adult for 14 days.

Contents include:

  • 56 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (two Just in Case units)
  • 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)
  • 2 Jetboil fuel cannisters
  • 60 Katadyn MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets
  • 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)
  • 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade
  • 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag w/ waterproof PVC back, 30"x15"x14"
Package Deals

FYI, we will be offering package deals whereby a ScramKit Responder can be purchased in addition to a ChowHaul at discounted prices. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Rumors of Wars

I'm 48 years old. From the very point of my coming of age at 18, I was trained in the military ways of waging war ... not so much in terms of venturing out with a Bowie knife between my teeth, but as in how to surreptitiously gain a decided advantage over the enemy using cutting-edge intelligence technologies and insights.

Back in the day, the enemy was clear and well-defined. We were nose to nose with the Warsaw Pact, and during the days of the Cold War, intell was the primary theater for hostilities. Engagement with the enemy was all about dealing with the knowledge that the stakes were as high as humanly possible ... daily, with every weave, duck, and feint.

Today, most say the free ideologies of western society won that war. That communism and the Soviet Union backed down and turned over a new leaf. That we the victors were able to triumphantly beat swords into ploughshares. That mankind somehow crossed over into a higher plane where major hostilities betweeen global powers and subsequent devastation are no longer to be feared.

Well ... count me a cynic on this one ... but I choose not to turn my back, even today, on those who once held me steady in the crosshairs. But my intention here is not to try to convince anyone of the ongoing threat from marxist powers, but rather to address 21st-century warfare risks of all types for Americans at home today.

We all know deep down that we are vulnerable in America, as 9/11 brought front and center. But if you are inclined to prepare for reasonable risks to your household's safety and well-being, then you ought to give credence to the possibility of modern full-scale warfare making a sudden, destructive visitation upon us right where we live--and not just in New York City and Washington, D.C.

War Happens

The nature of men and nations has remained true to form throughout history. Ambition for power drives confrontations. Occasionally, back-channel safety nets collapse and all hell breaks loose.

Today, the mostly long-distance War on Terror passes as the framework for our understanding of hostile threats to our way of life. Yet already, many have forgotten the World Trade Center and the seizing of four airliners that stunned the world. Remembered or not, the world has not quite been the same since.

There was a time in late 2001 and throughout 2002 when media discussions and public service advisories had US citizens considering how to protect themselves from biological, chemical, and radiological terror threats, particularly in large cities. Eventually, fear gave way to suspicious cynicism and political opportunism, until now when any such risk awareness has receded to the bottom of the deck for most Americans still playing the game at all.

Without going there, I will just state, it is common sense to have on hand some basic knowledge and capabilities to deal with NBC (nuclear, bio, chem) exposures to yourself or to your area of operations. Such dangers can come at the hands of terrorists, but they can just as easily be the result of industrial or transportation accidents most anywhere in the country. Consider how you can take a few simple steps to mitigate these risks--the proverbial plastic sheeting and duct tape are a good start. Gas masks, rubber suits and gloves, N95 surgical masks, radiation detectors, and potassium iodide represent next steps worth taking for many.

Combat on American Soil

I'd propose that it is not at all crazy for smart, historically aware people to make some concessions in their crisis preparedness planning for the possibility of violent conflict within our own borders.

Historically speaking, one might say it is inevitable. Whether it is or not, common sense says that we are not immune from violent conflict or from outright warfare breaking out close to home or right on our doorstep.

International strife continues to simmer in many parts of the world, stoked by those intent on creating mayhem and anarchy for their own gain. Ethnic violence rages and in fact is spreading in spite of progressive global enlightenment and liberal sophistication. The USA remains objective number one for those exporting death and fear. We also are the only obstacle in the way of another rising power from becoming top dog on the planet.

I'd suggest that the single greatest deterrent to widespread anarchy in America is our right to bear arms and the exercise of that right by millions of actively conscientious and principled Americans. Got ammo?

Nuclear Sword of Damocles

Finally, there's the everpresent ICBM nuclear weapons that have made modern existence as precarious as a spinning toy gyroscope on a wire. Think those days are history? If you actually ever thought so, you better reconsider. For only the latest eye-opener, see "Putin's Show of Strength Triggers Fear of Fresh Nuclear Arms Race."

It's the granddaddy of all threats and it remains unthinkable for many out there. But don't let that difficult-to-envision scenario stop you from taking at least remedial steps toward preparedness in this regard. Even an all-out nuclear war IS survivable, and that is what war planners in China and Russia count on in their doomsday gaming and planning--to include elaborate measures taken to ensure the protection of millions of their own citizens.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Civil Defense program is ancient history, and if you are thinking that we can intercept ANY incoming missiles, guess again.

So unless you believe slow agonizing death by massive radiation poisoning is preferable to giving you and yours a shot at pulling through in reasonable shape, then you should look into what first steps make sense for you as you start planning your family's shelter.

War Sucks

For all the ribbons and glory, all the parades and USO tours, warfare is something every one of us should be so blessed as to never have to experience firsthand. Indeed that is one of mankind's worthiest prayers to the Almighty.

However, if you fancy your crisis preparedness program to be in any way comprehensive in scope, then you must account for hostile scenarios of all kinds. You need not obsess over wars and rumors of wars, but as with any other threat, to prepare well is to aspire to greater peace of mind.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is Cynicism a Prerequisite to Preparedness?

Those on the outside looking in to the online world of preparedness-related forums, resource sites, and blogs could easily come to the conclusion that many preparedness advocates are cynical, despondent, angry, and/or bitter ... and that the rest seem to just be running scared from something.

Unfortunately, there ARE a lot of vocal and visible characters online out there who fit these descriptions.

The good news is that the healthy, happy, largely optimistic types vastly outnumber the others in reality ... bottom line, they have better things to do with their time than to outspokenly troll the web with their views of the world.

Simple Stereotyping

I'm being impossibly simple in my generalizations about people who prepare for potential disaster. But it is a pet peeve of mine that there are a relative few out there who become inordinately representative of crisis readiness. The plain and simple truth is that most of us who choose to be materially ready for crisis, are completely normal, gentle, contented folks who simply want to look out for our families the best way we can.

We understand that bad things happen to good people and that the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place. Most of us have no interest in putting our time and energy into trying to predict the unpredictable. And we know that to go very far down the path of contingency planning too fast is to risk being overtaken by obsessive behaviors. To be aware of those dangers is to be forewarned. It's easy to avoid ... one just needs to take care not to get sucked into any particular doom-of-the-month or the feeling that you must get it all done today.

Effective preparedness is just logical, systematic activity aimed at positioning your household to be able to withstand some of the likeliest crisis scenarios.

Some would characterize the goal of preparedness as being "safe and protected." I would quibble with that a bit and argue that the greatest common tangible benefit is peace of mind. IF the time comes when your preparations are called into service, then obviously we would hope the end result is your family's well-being.

Take It a Day at a Time

"Peace of mind" is an attainable goal for anyone who wants to prepare. It should be realized little by little right from the first logical action you take in that direction. You might equate contentment with that state, as well as balance and strength. It's really a worthy ambition and one that millions of good Americans partake in.

Cynicism or pessimism about the world's future, about our country, about authority figures, etc., are not productive or satisfying avenues to travel in your journey. But you must make that decision for yourself--I suggest you enjoy every day the sun shines on you.

Sure ... know that things can become suddenly bleak for anyone anywhere at anytime ... but since you are positioning yourself and your loved ones for those times, there is no point in further dwelling on the danger today beyond the planning and actions you take to reduce the danger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Be sure to click on the image of the painting shown here. You will be taken to a site where you can see a wide array of Martin Grelle's beautiful original artworks, available for sale.

For those of you who are loyal readers, I want to say thank you for your patience these last couple of weeks. I've been on travel ... a working vacation actually. We spent some time on the beach in Florida and took the kids to see Mickey's kingdom down there as well.

In the interim, we missed some significant snowfall back home here in Minnesiberia, but unfortunately, the sub-zero temps waited patiently for our return home.

Are You Alone?

While traveling, I was on the phone with a very good customer of mine. We were talking about how, for her, readiness is a difficult and lonely avocation. Her husband doesn't buy into the idea that crisis preparedness is worth their time and money and apparently they have some pretty emotional "discussions" about it. In fact, she admitted that she has wondered if divorce would be the result.

When I mentioned that most folks who are into preparing for what may come are actually in it without the support of their spouse or other loved ones, she was surprised. She believed she was somehow one of a very few out there rowing solo.

It's true ... the majority of folks who find some peace of mind in being prepared, are doing it alone. By choice, most would love to have the endorsement of those close to them, but when systematic risk management still fails to show up on the radar screen of the majority of people, odds are, a lot of the rest of us are going to need to choose--be true to oneself and do what we know is in the best interests of our families ... or give in and not rock the boat. (Or do what untold multitudes do ... find the middle ground by "prepping" in secret.)

About a month ago, I blogged, "How to Convince Others." I'd encourage any of you in this situation to read through that entry again. If you are frustrated by your inability to get the message across to those around you that crisis preparedness is smart and it is a perfectly reasonable and logical approach to modern life, then maybe a slight alteration in your "aura" would help.

Regardless, be assured that you are not truly alone. Millions of intelligent thinkers out there have understood the vulnerability of Americans who aren't personally ready to deal with personal or far-reaching catastrophe. Recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have opened the eyes of millions more across the country.

My most succinct advice would be to do what you know is necessary in a gradual, low-key way. Remove the emotion--don't argue or fight about it if you can help it. Just do what you can do, and eventually your peace of mind and satisfaction will grow, and just maybe, others will come around when they recognize your calm confidence even when things start to alarm everyone else.

Merry Christmas

I suspect I'll get another entry or two in before Christmas, but nonetheless, I want to be sure to wish you all a blessed holiday with your loved ones. Remember:


Peace on earth.
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Preparedness Books for Gift-Giving or Personal Edification

It's a busy time for all of us these days, I'm sure. So I'm going to keep this entry short and to the point ...

If you're scratching your head trying to come up with a gift for that special thinker on your list, maybe a book would fill the bill. There are some great fiction and non-fiction books out there that folks with a preparedness bent would appreciate:

Fiction

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse - an excellent, well-researched book with a strong survivalist theme, by my friend James Wesley Rawles. Many folks take notes as they read the book the first, second, or third time through. Unfortunately, this 1999 book is out of print and increasingly difficult to get a copy of. If you find one at a reasonable price--grab it!

The Last Ship - by William Brinkley ... quite simply, a great book!

Alas Babylon - a classic, must-read by Pat Frank.

Earth Abides - by George Stewart ... maybe the first in the genre, one of my personal favorites.

Non-fiction

Crisis Preparedness Handbook - a Complete Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival - by Jack Spigarelli. A great informational resource. Get a copy before you actually need it, when it will be too late.

Origins of the Fourth World War: and the Coming Wars of Mass Destruction - by J.R. Nyquist ... this may be the most important read you'll ever have. I had the opportunity to speak with J.R. at some length recently and was happy to have been able to offer him whatever support I could in his ongoing struggle to get the word out to America that there is something evil afoot. No, this isn't what you might think it is about. Our enemy is real and is deceptively strong. History, intelligence, and headlines prove that we may not be looking in the right direction anymore for the greatest threat to America.

The Pentagon's New Map - by Thomas P.M. Barnett ... an excellent and fascinating read that sheds light on how current government leaders in the west view the world and its future. Regardless of your political perspective, you need to have an understanding of what is driving America today.

We could go on and on--there certainly are a wide range of preparedness-related books out there. Please feel free to post a comment here with your own recommendations.

For a few more titles listed in my store ... stroll on in.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

ScramKit Gets 'er Done

As promised, the brand new ScramKit product line is born. The Responder Personal is the first comprehensive survival resource kit that actually allows you to have on hand all basic emergency necessities, wherever you are.

It's a full load in a little package:

  • Soft yet tough exterior - Maxpedition™ M5 waistbag in your choice of black, green, or khaki (as available)
  • Personal-size first aid kit (in separately-removable bag)
  • Pocket Survival Pack™ (in waterproof bag), from Adventure Medical Kits, which containing ...
    Rescue Howler™ whistle
    Emergency signal mirror
    Fluid-filled magnetic compass
    Firestarter kit
    Duct tape (2" x 26")
    Scalpel blade
    Stainless steel utility wire (6 feet long)
    Nylon thread
    Nylon braided "paracord"
    Fishing gear: hooks, sinkers, swivel, nylon line
    Heavy-duty aluminum foil (1 sq. yard)
    Large sewing needle & safety pins
    Waterproof paper and pencil
  • Tool Logic SL3™ folding knife with integral whistle and firestarter rod
  • Tool Logic Ice Card II™ credit-card multitool system
  • Tool Logic T1 Tech Light™ LED clip-on flashlight
  • Emergency mylar "space" blanket
  • 2 earloop face masks (surgical grade) in separate ziplock bags
  • 2 pairs of nitrile exam gloves (non-sterile) paired up into separate ziplock bags
  • GP4L digital shortwave radio with built-in regulated LED flashlight (includes earbuds) in a crush-resistant plastic case
  • 16-foot windup antenna for the GP4L radio.

Available for immediate shipping: http://scramkit.com/ (Turn up your speakers to hear the intro.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Shopping for Preparedness Products

We're into the heart of the holiday-shopping season--no, actually I shall bravely proclaim it, the "CHRISTMAS" shopping season.

For those of us involved in crisis preparedness sales, being tossed into the frothy stir of mall-churned humanity is not as scary as it could be. You see, there's a certain familiarity in the chaotic spirit of it all, since we've been slogging through our own rush of frenzied buyers for months already.

We get busy when folks out there startle to the lateness of the hour, realizing they've been letting their household readiness slip to seriously vulnerable levels. Hurricane Katrina was perhaps the biggest wake-up call of many lately.

Our sales tend to ebb and flow a bit, but they are not so much determined by the calendar as by unexpected developments piercing the collective human experience.

Hurricanes, terror strikes, disease outbreaks, geo-political upheavals ... those are the types of triggers for OUR long hours as we work to provide customers with some sorely needed peace of mind. Believe me, business has been good lately ... and unfortunately that means, a lot of folks out there have been losing sleep over their tiny place in the world.

Practical Gift-buying

Scary times or not, I'm always the guy who buys the most practical gifts under the tree. I CAN do the romantic and whimsical shopping when it's called for, but I really excell at the stuff that will actually get used ... OK, or might get used in the right situation.

Example--the Christmas of '99 is memorable for some reason by those in my family because they every year remind me that I purchased EVERYONE some top-quality long underwear that year--and heavy wool socks. I still think they were well-considered gifts, but I guess that is yet lost on some of these people. (Y2K DID have the imminent potential to invite Minnesota winter into our homes, you'll recall.)

Another family favorite was the jumpstart/emergency power units I gave those with cars a couple of years ago. OK, so the smiles and hugs were not the most enthusiastic ... but at least I'm true to myself. I tell you, I love giving "practical." And I always hope to get it in return.

At least, they all know by now not to be expecting bling and zing from me ... it's going to always be fine and solid contributions to the goal of maintaining a productive environment where "the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Seriously, if you're reading this, you're probably hoping you'll get something useful this year. You're the type who appreciates sensibility all around you, since you strive to develop that in yourself and in your household. So you might also be wanting to give sensible gifts.

I say, go for it. You never know when that gift, even if it's shoved into a drawer and almost forgotten at first, could turn out to be the most important gift ever received ... under the right circumstances.

Or what the heck, say the circumstances never warrant your genius for anticipating disaster, and life continues to deal you aces ... that can't be a bad thing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How to Convince Others

I do wish there was an easy, logical way to persuade others that crisis preparedness is worthwhile. You know ... a one-size-fits-all, three-step process guaranteed to lift the scales from the eyes of the unenlightened.

But alas ...

Common Complaint

If there is one almost-universal complaint I hear from fellow preparedness activists, it is that they are often not able to convince even those nearest and dearest to them that crisis readiness is smart.

For many sailing smoothly through life out there today, the initial, deeply embedded perspective is that only kooks and "racist survivalists" spend any time or money preparing for a disaster that might never come. It's a view that's been cultivated in the public mind by the mass media for decades now. So in spite of the obvious common sense inherent in a balanced approach to being prepped, there is a wall that needs to be breeched for some folks before they'll be able to observe the full horizon.

Indeed, how many of my friends and customers out there have mentioned that they wish they could get through to their spouse, their siblings, buddies, or coworkers, etc.?

The spouse factor alone is seemingly insurmountable for many.

I would estimate that more than half of you who are reading this blog would be hard pressed to convince your spouse or significant other to even have a look at it or at some similarly focused resource. Is that frustrating? Of course it is. In fact, I'm sure most in that boat would be satisfied with just getting a nonverbal, implied, eye-rolling "go-ahead" from their loved one to do whatever is necessary, if not a full fledged, share-the-passion, full-speed-ahead buy-in from them.

Oh, that they could stop having to sneak around, hiding their latest purchases adding to their strategic reserves and stock ... and instead be able to openly share the steadily growing peace of mind their well-considered program is building.

How-To

No, this won't work for everyone, but in my personal experience, this is your best bet. I've been involved in preparedness of various kinds, professionally as well as personally for decades, and with time, you learn that there IS a way to at least get folks to listen to what you have to say.

A few tips for anytime you are first bringing up the issue of preparedness with someone (and perhaps EVERY time you discuss it) ...

1. Lose the emotion. Fear, anger, paranoia ... those are the emotions and "danger signs" many people out there would be looking for in any "nutcase" who would approach them to talk about getting ready for disaster. Show it and the cause is already lost.

Take a calm, non-commital, intelligent tack in which you almost casually relate the view that crisis preparedness is common sense. Be dispassionate, non-threatening ... that's how you need to bring the issue forward. If there is no sign of your companion being in the least bit receptive, drop it. Maybe the next opportunity that arises will be different. Just don't make it an obvious priority in your intereactions with the person.

2. No target-lock on any one threat. This is a big problem for many. It's easy not only to inadvertently zero in on one big threat of the hour when talking about crisis preparedness, it's just as easy to allow it to become all-consuming in one's own actual approach to preparedness. When raising the issue of preparedness, be knowledgable, but not necessarily "expert." Talk about crises in general if that is appropriate, unless your partner is needing to talk over an issue that is bothering them today (i.e., perhaps the Avian Flu at the moment).

Most important, talk about solutions, not the challenges. Trying to scare someone into seeing things your way never works longer term.

3. Don't play oracle, proclaiming THE END. Want to be seen as a crank? Set a date and start telling folks that you know something ominous they don't. Throughout history, dates of doom have come and gone as have their promoters. Even if you see some risk ahead, keep it to yourself until it becomes painfully obvious to even the most obtuse.

4. Don't talk about TEOTWAWKI. See #3. "The End Of The World As We Know It" became a common acronym circa the Y2K computer-scare era. Of course, it is also widely applied to post nuclear-war exchanges, and now even to the bird flu potential. My intended points? Life goes on. And change is inevitable and continuous. To try to counter either of those axioms is to ask to be pigeon-holed into a niche where few can be taken seriously.

5. Drop the mystery about your own preparedness efforts. This is actually more of an indirect benefit to preparedness in general than usually a necessary persuasive tactic one-to-one with someone. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning here that folks are more easily persuaded by demonstrated action over hollow words. Of course this runs counter to the tendency many have to protect access to and knowledge of their preparedness resources. But to encourage someone else to embark upon a personal campaign toward greater readiness by being more open about your own efforts, is a powerful way to go about it. Use common sense deciding when it might actually prove to be wise to take this path with someone and to what extent.

Fact is, if more folks were forthcoming about their own preparedness efforts, then the public impression that normal people don't do this would be quickly laid to rest.

6. Limit the reference points you share to sources in the "moderate mainstream." There are a lot of very "enthusiastic" parties focusing on specific, peripheral preparedness-related issues. They are off the beaten path and all have their own adherents ... and they do often contribute in their way to crisis readiness in the general population. However, before you refer preparedness prospects to a website or to a book of interest, etc., be sure you consider the kind of first impression they will likely have, given all aspects of that reference work and ALL the content and themes being projected there.

It is probably going to be most effective to carefully present the preparedness mindset to the uninitiated in a measured way, coming at least initially from recognized, respected authorities. Today, federal, state, and local governments are pushing readiness, as are mainstream media outlets. It doesn't take a trip today to http://www.snakeoilforall to start folks thinking about real-world moves they can take to mitigate the risks to their family's well-being.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Peace

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I've pondered many blessings bestowed on America and our people. Choosing one, I am giving thanks this year for the positive effect of the general "peace through strength" approach, proven amazingly effective over several decades.

No, it hasn't always been easy or cost-free. Many of our own have given their lives to keep building a better world, here and abroad. But through an era when weapons of mass destruction have become prevalent, their utility has largely been held in reserve, effectively contributing to a greater global peace than would have dared to be imagined in the mid-20th century.

Personal Peace

I came across this quote, author unknown, that struck me as being especially relevant to those of us who find comfort and satisfaction in being prepared for whatever may come:

Peace.
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.
...
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Imminent Preparedness Offerings

These days, as the owner of Safecastle LLC, I've got a few exciting opportunities brewing that translate into compelling offerings for you as discerning preparedness advocates.

ScramKits

First, any day now--a joint-venture partner and I will be introducing a brand new proprietary line of top-quality "bugout bags." They are called "ScramKits"--unique, self-contained units assembled for those who aim to be serious about their disaster readiness--at home, at work, and on the go.

Can't say much more until we launch ... initial available quantities will be limited, so stay tuned.

Pushing NBC Shelters into New Markets

We are also revving up our motors to take our best-available prefabricated steel storm- and fallout-shelters into new markets nationwide. We believe we are experiencing the beginning of a new surge in demand across the country for "steel-plated peace of mind," and we are developing strategies to make our product the recognized shelter of choice for security seekers everywhere.

Our expert builder has of course been fabricating and installing these shelters for FEMA, local communities, corporations, and households for 11 years, all across the lower 48. He's known as the best out there, making a product that will last for 100 years in most conditions. Our offerings meet or exceed FEMA standards in all respects, engineered to withstand storm conditions not even seen on this planet.

One detail of note: We have testimonials in hand that we'll be employing shortly, testifying to our customers safely and comfortably enduring direct hits from destructive storms.

We even have a letter from a customer whose property was subjected to hours of the 160mph eyewall of Hurricane Katrina. His above-ground shelter, installed a few years ago, was not even scratched by the turmoil and flying debris that wreaked havoc across the area, while he and his wife watched TV in air conditioned comfort, their sheltered personal generator humming along throughout.

More details of our plans are confidential, but suffice it to say, the marketplace is ripe for mainstream growth in saferooms and shelters.

New Products, Loyal Customers

We appreciate our growing customer base out there, many of whom come back time and again for our unusual values in preparedness products of all kinds. Right now, some of the very best preparedness product lines on the market continue to experience shortages and are backlogged due to sustained, unprecedented demand. Obviously, there are a lot of folks out there who are suddenly getting on board with the disaster readiness gameplan. Manufacturing and distribution capacities are being strained. But that is not deterring our customers who know what they want and trust that we are the ones who can get it for them.

Our newer large-volume value packs of long-term-storage Mountain House food is a prime example. We offer the best prices out there on our unique extended-period household-sustaining food kits. And although Mountain House is cranking the food out as fast as they can, product demand is keeping our order fulfillment process backlogged and delayed by several weeks. Does that mean some folks are putting off ordering product? Well, if they are, I'm not aware of it, and I'm not sure why they would be. Those who have decided that Mountain House is the best available long-term storage (30+ years) food out there want to get on the shipping lists and get their food stocks in place sooner rather than later, even when that means that a bit of patience is called for.

Another product line we are about to offer our customers--the new award-winning JetBoil personal cooking systems--perfect for emergency food preparation and ideal for preparing Mountain House foods in a hurry and in any conditions. Great for outdoors enthusiasts of all persuasions, we know the JetBoil is redefining adventure cooking and our customers will see it as a must-have.

Busy Times

Those are just a few of the items on our plate these days as we strive to meet the needs of our customers and create new opportunities.

Thank you to all of you who are helping to make it possible. Please let me know of any comments, questions, or suggestions you have.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Will Be Your Emergency "Currency?"

History has shown that cash is not always king.

In the event of systemic failure on a large scale, traditional means of payment in commerce and trade often become devalued. As an example, in some communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a barter economy almost immediately sprang up, to the point where cash was not the currency of choice.

It was reported that gasoline, cigarettes, and beer became the commodities in greatest demand via barter transactions. I suspect that if those communities had been isolated long enough, some other genuine necessities would have risen in comparative value over those items. Think "supply and demand."

Trade Doesn't Halt After a Disaster

Even if you believe yourself to be fully prepared for disaster, I suspect you could still quickly find yourself in serious need of some item or service that was unanticipated. Perhaps it would be specialized medical needs, mechanical parts, or a ride to safety. No one can ever be fully prepared for all possibilities.

That means besides simply stocking up on food and water and prescription meds, the prudent preparer also considers the need to have on hand alternative forms of currency. Depending on what it is, it could serve as needed in the role of household sustenance, neighborly charity, or as a barterable commodity.

The possibilities are endless ... and it might be wise to have several options on hand--quantities based on personal preference and the amount of time you want to abide ...

1. Of course, some good old foldable U.S. currency IS advisable to have on hand in every household. For although it might become less valued in long-term scenarios, it will be far more likely that a shorter term crisis situation would call for this traditional means of payment. (Note that you probably don't want to count on credit card, cash card, or check-writing to be accepted, especially if there are power outages.) Just make sure you have your stash adequately hidden and secured.

2. At the opposite extreme, precious metals such as government-minted gold and silver coinage are seen by many as a longer term, safe store of wealth, easily recognized as a historical basis for trade, readily quantifiable and transportable, etc. If you choose to hold precious metals for the purpose of crisis preparedness, it is advisable that you literally, physically have them in your possession ... again, safely secured.

3. Practical skills and expertise in any number of areas, along with needed tools, can be a tradeable commodity in challenging times. Of course it could be difficult to control the demand on your time in some cases. For instance, medical professionals may be overwhelmed in some locations in worst-case events.

4. Water, and the means to draw it and purify it could prove to be in extreme demand in many events, as city water systems can fail or be compromised. In the massive power failure experienced in the northeastern U.S. and Canada in 2003, the municipal water supply for Cleveland, Ohio, immediately failed, putting at risk a million local residents. A short-term solution is to have pure water stored for your family. Beyond that, if you have a means for purifying water, you could find yourself well ahead of the Joneses, making new friends in the neighborhood you never even knew lived there before. Further, if you have a well with a hand pump or the ability to generate power for an electric well pump, you could find yourself in business and able to acquire whatever necessities you might require in trade.

5. Food quickly becomes a high-demand item in medium and longer-term situations since refrigerated and frozen food that so many count on today can spoil ... in addition, the means for adequately preparing those foods would often be lacking. In fact, we see in the recent hurricane aftermaths how an unbelievable number of families don't bother to have on hand a few days of food of any kind to weather a breakdown in the local grocery and restaurant supply chains. Again, if you have stored, convenient foods in quantity, you are ahead of the game.

6. I hate to mention it again, but substances that people can become addicted to will always be in extreme demand when they are not available at the local markets. Beer, booze, tobacco, and coffee are items you might consider having on hand in some reasonable quantity, even if you don't use them yourself, as commodities for trade.

7. Gasoline is a commodity that can certainly become highly valuable should local supplies become interrupted. The problem is that it is tough to store safely and for any great length of time. It's a good idea to have several gallons on hand for personal emergency usage (treat the gas with PRI-G or the equivalent, rotate it periodically, and keep it outside of your living space and away from sources of ignition). Whether you have a few gallons or you opt to store more, be sure to research and follow local laws and regulations for safety's sake.

8. Anything and everything else can become objects for trade in the right conditions. Consider the scenarios where examples such as these might be in high demand: toilet paper, over-the-counter pain medications, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, hand tools, plastic sheeting, cleaning and disinfectant products, personal hygiene items, disposable gloves and masks, firewood, lumber, ammunition, vegetable seeds, lighters, matches, and the list goes on and on.

I'm not advocating you go out and "hoard" anything with an eye toward one day making a killing in an impoverished environment. But simply use some common sense and be aware that even economies are transformed in disasters ... better you are aware and ready.

As I alluded to early on, some of these items would be in such extreme need in some cases that it would be immoral to withhold them from anyone in dire need of them. Most folks would be only too happy to help in their communities in any way possible in a true disaster. Being prepared means you are in that position to help as opposed to being one of the ones seeking someone else willing to give aid.