REFUGE BY SAFECASTLE

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

Monday, October 02, 2006

Are YOU Prepared for Terror Attacks? - Chemical

One of my favorite authoritative resources for terror-attack preparedness is a Rand Corporation book entitled "Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks." The author/researchers are Lynn Davis, Tom LaTourrette, David E. Mosher, Lois M. Davis, and David R. Howell.

It's an unusually well-researched, to-the-point monograph focused on the steps individual citizens can take to improve their ability to survive a catastrophic terrorist attack. A scenario-driven approach identifies preparedness and response actions that enhance survivability in chemical, radiological, nuclear, and biological attacks.

I have several copies of the book on order for resale that I will be making available for $23, shipping included. In the meantime, the book is available in pdf format online at http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1731/index.html .

Excerpt - Chemical Attack

"Chemical attacks entail the dispersal of chemical vapors, aerosols, liquids, or solids that have hazardous effects on people, animals, or plants. Chemical agents can be released by a variety of methods, including by bombs or by spraying from vehicles. They affect individuals through inhalation or exposure to eyes and skin. Their impact may be immediate (a few seconds) or delayed (several hours to several days), and some chemical agents are odorless and tasteless (FEMA, 2002).

"Numerous chemical agents could be used in a terrorist attack, including both industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents. A large number of industrial chemicals might be used, including various acids, ammonia, chlorine, hydrogen cyanide, pesticides, or phosgene. The main chemical warfare agents include nerve agents (e.g., sarin, tabun, soman, VX) and blister agents (e.g., lewisite, mustard) (CDC, 2000). Chemical attacks can occur outdoors or indoors, with this distinction having significant ramifications for the best response actions. The area affected by a chemical attack is likely to be fairly small, on the order of a square kilometer (0.4 square mile).


"Support from Officials/Governments. Because of the localized nature of chemical weapons and the lack of detectors, the government is not likely to play a role until after the dangers have largely subsided. At that point, it will provide emergency services to casualties and tell individuals when it is safe to go outside (if the attack was outdoors) or inside (if the attack was in a building)."
...

"Individual’s Primary Needs. Fundamentally, in a chemical attack, an individual needs access to clean air within a few minutes or less. If exposed, individuals will also need access to medical care and may need to decontaminate themselves. Because official guidance will not be available until after the attack, individuals must act by themselves to minimize exposure."
...

Recommended Actions

"If the attack is outdoors and you are outdoors, take shelter quickly in the closest building, close all windows/doors, and shut off the flow of air. If inside, stay inside. Then, to the extent possible, move upstairs, find an interior room, and seal the room. Remain inside until told it is safe to leave and then ventilate and vacate the shelter immediately.

"If the chemical attack is outdoors, finding shelter inside is the most critical action an individual should take. Individuals already inside should stay inside. Individuals outside should get inside the closest building as quickly as possible.

"Such sheltering provides protection by blocking the chemical agent out of a space that contains uncontaminated air. It is an attractive action for a number of reasons. First, it can be implemented very quickly. In an urban environment, an individual can probably move indoors in less than one minute.

"Second, it requires very little information. There is no need to determine the location of the source or direction or speed of the chemical cloud. Third, and most important, it provides very good protection. Technical evaluations indicate that such basic sheltering can reduce chemical exposure by 75 percent or more compared to the exposure outside the shelter. These results are consistent with the outcomes of the aerosolized sarin attack by the Aum Shinrikyo group in a residential area in Matsumoto, Japan, in June 1994. In that incident, all seven people who died had their windows open. All of those individuals who had closed their windows—including many people closer to the source, those in units adjacent to buildings in which fatalities occurred, and those on the lower floors of these buildings—survived the attack (Yanagisawa, 1995).

"Because of the variability and uncertainties in the barrier capacity of shelters, individuals should always attempt additional expedient measures. These include moving upstairs, into an interior room, and sealing windows, doors, vents, and other openings with duct tape and plastic sheeting or any other available materials. These steps reduce the infiltration rate of the outside agent into a shelter. Because most chemical agents are heavier than air, they will sink, and the highest concentrations will form at the lowest points. Thus, moving upstairs will take a person into an area where the outside concentration is lower, thereby reducing the infiltration rate into the shelter. Moving to an interior room puts more doors and walls between a person and the outside, which also reduces the infiltration rate. Finally, taping and sealing a room, as detailed in Rogers et al. (1990) and Sorensen and Vogt (2001a), will improve the barrier capacity of the shelter and reduce infiltration.

"Because shelters do not provide perfect protection, the chemical agent will leak into the shelter. After some time, the chemical agent outside the shelter will dissipate and the concentration will drop to a level below that inside the shelter."


More Excerpts to Come

There is a wealth of practical preparedness and response strategy in this book. I will be posting more insightful excerpts regarding radiological, nuclear, and biological terrorist attacks soon.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New "Safecastle Royal" Buyers Club to Launch Soon

Those of you who are regular Safecastle customers are fully aware of the significantly discounted prices we always offer our friends. Fact is, on a few of the popular product lines where we have been doing that, we have aggravated competitors and thus even some of our suppliers, since they have to put up with complaints from those other sellers who aren't able or willing to match our prices.

SO, we are in the process of adapting our sales model a bit to try to keep at least our suppliers mollified (and of course, those suppliers have no complaints about the volume of orders we bring in when we are out there promoting our always low prices).

In a few short weeks, we will be launching a new website for the members of our new buyers club--Safecastle Royal. It will be a fully functional store (non-eBay) in which we offer members our very best product prices. By making these prices available only privately to friends and members of our group, we are able to sidestep Minimum Advertised Pricing agreements of all kinds and on all products.

Moreover, our loyal buyers will be able to clearly determine for themselves what our best prices are at any time without having to get quotes from us. AND, they will be able to make their purchase online or over the phone, using our new toll-free number.

So, stay tuned. Safecastle Royal will be going live soon. In the meantime, we continue to offer our best discounted pricing on everything we sell if you simply contact us for a quote.

Email me with any questions or comments or to get a quote at any time: jcrefuge@safecastle.net

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Time is Short for the Few Holding Off the Barbarians

Five years after the 9/11 atrocities on American innocents, public consciousness is predictably refocused once again on egotistical pursuits, maximizing prosperity, and absorbing as much entertainment as possible. After all, apart from a few remote attacks in England, Spain, and of course in the sado-masochistic Middle East, things at home have pretty much remained normal and safe.

Let's face it, it took less time to fully throttle the mega-war machines of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan 60 years ago than it has to this point to nominally negate an idea about how terror can change the world for the better. Today's selfless enemy is largely invisible and relatively few in numbers, so can we really be expected to keep a laser focus on the tiny target when the rest of the world keeps on feeding and breeding?

It's sad, but true--we are, as modern animals in a fast-paced world, ill-equipped to discipline ourselves to sacrifice anything of our own for a long-term collective goal, no matter how necessary it may be. The only sophisticated tool with the capability of enhancing our potential for a unified, well-harnessed approach to stay on track is the combined news and entertainment industry. And of course there are few players in that business today who are thinking big picture in a positive way. Most are clearly and actively working to counter the efforts of those battling an insidious and blood-thirsty opponent.

Strategic Thinkers are in the Crosshairs

It's always an immense burden to bear to have to be a leading decision-maker in times of major crisis. Evidence of progress versus the problem has to be substantial, regular, and emotionally captivating in order to maintain the public's support over time.

Failure to accomplish miracles brings out the nay-sayers in droves and small-thinkers are easily persuaded to abandon those few in position to see with any clarity the full range of risks and rewards in play.

When the crisis is personified in a cunning enemy with the capacity for patience, their tack is obvious but almost indefensible today ... thrust savagely into defenseless weak points, retreat, wait, and play to the media's distaste for the consistent "party line." Then just keep on waiting till our own impatience reverses any inroads we may have made.

Today, the strategic leaders in the West are having their legs taken out from under them. It is not a proactive enemy accomplishing this. Passive patience on their part, and occasionally displayed outrage are enough ... not to mention a faith in our inability as free individuals to hold to an ideal beyond personal self-interest.

George Bush, Tony Blair, Ehud Olmert, Pope Benedict, various evangelicals and conservative voices, and I think we could also throw in groups such as intelligence agencies and military leaders ... these are the people and the ideals and offices we are in the process of emasculating. Fewer and fewer are holding the line against progressive and liberal assimilation and compromise.

We, as ones who have gorged at the trough of plenty, are largely incapable of recognizing the real risk of cultural defeat and subsequent material famine. Now, time is running out for those few who toil at holding off the barbarians. Next, comes the time of appeasement, when we shall attempt to embrace the enemy and his ambitions.

What are the odds of that working out well for us? I think I have a pretty good idea.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Credibility Crucial for Preppers

Here's a topic that's worth a book … or at least a whole chapter in a behavioral self-help volume. But time is money and no one's paying here, so I'll try to spare us too many of the embellishments and get down to the basics.

Context example in the military/intell community


Long ago and far away, a young intelligence analyst in the field was slaving away at collating and analyzing info collected from all available sources for the weekly general staff briefing. The Warsaw Pact forces across the border were in a definite upswing in exercise activity (which always had an NBC focus). This particular point in time found an unusual massing of East German, Czech, and Russian tank and motorized rifle divisions within several clicks of the border with West Germany. Soviet missile forces were also geared up and hauling their missiles to and fro’ in the countryside. The young analyst sensed that this might be something truly out of the ordinary, given some of his superiors’ obviously increased tension. This was soon confirmed when the Intel Center's full-bird commander took it upon himself to calmly commit his opinion to the general staff that this was the real deal coming down the autobahn … that the proverbial balloon was poised to launch. Interestingly, the general staff seemed concerned, but not at all panicked like a few of their underlings. Nonetheless, they reacted by placing their divisions on an elevated alert status.

The young analyst, through the process of regularly changing his shorts, learned much that week about the games played by the superpowers during the Cold War.

But most enduring of all was the lesson delivered on credibility--how important it is to have it when you need it, and how easily it can be frittered away. The aforementioned full-bird held the respect of the generals and they followed his advice, taking steps to increase defensive preparations for West Germany in case the colonel was right.

Obviously, though, he was wrong. And shortly thereafter, the colonel retired to his spread in Virginia. Be assured … no tears were shed. The colonel was aged beyond his years and had performed his duties well through his accomplished career. In the end, he took responsibility for a move that he felt someone had to make. He had the stuff it took to make things happen, and people would listen to him, so he made the call. Yes, it unfairly cost him some small measure of his accumulated credibility with the general staff, and perhaps hastened the end of his career somewhat, but what good is credibility when you don’t use it when needed?

Or worse yet, what good are you if you don't have any credibility built up to draw from when you come to that point in time when you need people to listen?

Why is YOUR credibility important as a prepper?


OK, so the fate of the free world does not depend on your reading of the signs. And we can all be thankful for that. ;) But by golly, if you have friends and family whom you’d like to be able to influence, either now or later, then your credibility is key. Do you have it with them now? Will they listen and trust you when it's most important that they do? For some of them, the best gift you could give may be reason to respect what you have to tell them.

If your credibility with those closest to you is shot or could use improvement, don’t despair. You’re in the company of thousands of other preppers who could use a credibility boost. It comes with the territory … just like it does in the intelligence business. The good news is that, what you do from this moment forward can serve to begin repairing and managing that credibility so that it’s there when you decide you really, really need it.

If you build it they will come


Credibility is people measuring how deserving you are of their confidence … how capable you are of being believed.

In other words, it's about how you present yourself and your opinions. Yes, you are responsible for how others view you. Take responsibility for it and work on it and you might be surprised at how persuasive you can be with those around you.

Nine real-world tips


... many readily apparent, and maybe a few that aren't for some …

1. Don’t lie. Don’t exaggerate. It will be noted and remembered.

2. Manage your emotions. Even when feeling stressed and feeling an urgency about a situation, stay calm and present your point of view rationally and as matter-of-factly as possible. Don’t be drawn into emotional arguments.

3. Cultivate the belief within yourself that the world is open to many interpretations and outcomes. Respect that and then gracefully grant the right for others to disagree with you.

4. Restrict yourself to sharing info and views that fall within the realm of conventional wisdom. Few “trailblazers” or “out of the box thinkers” ever score credibility points for sharing unconventional thought processes, and those that do often are credited for those points only long after they are dead.

5. Do not “invest in” or commit yourself to any one outcome or analysis. More often than not, it will be wrong. Always couch your presentations in terms like “possible,” “potential for,” “something to consider,” etc.

6a. Present even “important facts” as being interesting to consider, but not critical to embrace, even when you might think otherwise.

6b. Present your analyses/forecasts as being a possible read or outcome; not the only read or outcome.

7. Admit your humanity. When the facts change, openly adjust your thinking.

8. Don't take yourself too seriously. Confidently exhibit a sense of humor about your perspectives.

9. Assume a wise and stoic personna, even when others are expressing views counter to your own. Choose very carefully your opportunities for getting across the most important points. “Evangelists” rarely are seen as credible by most people.

The old-fashioned way


Respect and credibility are closely related … they are both earned with discipline and commitment. You can get by without it, but be aware that you'll be traveling alone.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Large Mountain House Orders Shipping Promptly!

Wow. I just have to gush a bit about the service we're getting from Mountain House right now on our orders ...

Our large special orders are shipping at the moment within three days! Contrast that with about three months over much of the past year and you can see how far we have come and how ideal the time is right now for ordering emergency storage food that is the best available anywhere and that will keep for 30 years!

I'm not able to promise that turnaround--I am still advising buyers it may take up to three weeks, but right now, our orders are in the front door and out the back door.

For more on the current big sale, see my previous post.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Special Mountain House Buy Opportunity till September 13

Many readers here are familiar with our very popular Mountain House group buys. These periodic opportunites to stock up on the BEST emergency storage food ANYWHERE come through periodically, and the prices are virtually unbeatable. We blew away sales records last time around and socked in the factory with months worth of backorders. This time, having expanded production capacity, Mountain House (Oregon Freeze Dry) is better equipped to handle a big spike in demand.

No Delay--No Backlog

This time around, the deal offers you the option of three unique Mountain House packages, not available elsewhere, all featuring cases of six #10 cans, with a shelf life rated at 30 years--

  • a 3-case/18 variety package (228 servings)
  • an 8-case/8 variety package (522 servings)
  • a 25 case/25 variety package (nearly 1800 servings)

The 8-case and 25-case kits are available from us anytime and your order on either of those two is processed as soon as payment is received (expect shipment within about 3 weeks).

The 3-case/18-can kit is available only when we do these special group buys and you can expect your order to deliver within about 6 weeks, as we need to special order the needed food and re-sort the cases.

This buy is good till September 13, at which point the 18-can orders will be submitted. Prices are good to the lower 48 (please inquire about shipping to AK or HI).

Take Advantage, Build Your Capability to Withstand Catastrophe

This is one of those deals where I am unable to advertise the low sales prices due to supplier agreements. Email me for complete special pricing info jcrefuge@safecastle.net

Payment options include credit card, Paypal, money order or cashiers check.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Whose "Larger than Me" Attitude Will Win the Coming War?

Mulling the BIG picture the other day ... as in world history, major milestones, societal and cultural transitions, what it all means ... I found an old profound truth worth dusting off for presentation here.

I was reminded that, focusing a remote lens back through time, it is clear there are very few significant transitional moments that define subsequent changes of direction for civilization as noteworthy as when outright warfare is waged between or among motivated powers. In fact, in plotting world history, some would say that periods of peace are merely featureless straightaways between the push-pins marking history's violent intersections. It is those inevitable painful pile-ups that redirect mankind's long-term future, for better or for worse.

Is it just historians and other scholarly minds who keep such a high-level perspective on things today? Frightfully, in America, that may be the reality. However, we must come to grips with the fact that there are countless major interests in other cultures today that are not bound by the constraints of a self-absorbed consciousness. And in fact, it is not only "corporate" interests, but individuals out there who naturally embrace the long-view as being the only thing that really matters.

The point to be retained is that few among us can fathom such a different perspective from our own. It is that collective inability on our part to come to terms with how those "larger than me" movements do matter here and now out there in the world, and that it is our ignorance of the significance of that really big picture that ultimately makes us vulnerable.

War is Unavoidable

In historical retrospect, when one is totally removed from the emotional issues populating a place in time, most everything but the final score and a few of the resulting statistics are all that are left to mark the course of mankind's progression. What is clear is that in this earthly plane of existence, in the long-run, war is the only real means to change the course of history. A war also becomes the marker in history that defines a generation.

Yes, advances in technology also warrant careful historical tracking, but since technology often becomes a subset to reporting on the progression of wars and how well new capabilities can be brought to bear against an enemy, then we are best served to keep in mind that time is ultimately measured by major conflict, rather than by invention or innovation.

As for diplomatic milestones, failures are what history records ... human nature ensures that significant diplomatic activity is little more than strategic positioning for conflict.

In the end, the social or political power in place remains there for as long as that power proves to be the most motivated, worthy, and aware. There are always rivals and competitors, and they who are the most selfless in their pursuit of the goal of overtaking "number one" are the ones who have the capacity to pull off the next big upset in the schedule.

Eventually every power resting at the top becomes sanguine, soft, and self-destructive. The ripeness of the moment becomes evident to those who would topple them, and war to the death erupts to take survivors in a new direction, even if the challengers are defeated, as there is nothing like a major war to recast reality in every corner.

Is It Time?

I strongy suspect we are almost upon another intersection of fates. The result is not predetermined (with all due respect to those who believe their understanding of Biblical prophecy ordains a specific result), only the redefining clash that is now unavoidable, and indeed already underway.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why We Don't Prepare

A couple of brief excerpts are included here from the latest TIME magazine cover story. The main point is that in spite of repeated hard lessons, most people do not take them to heart and get around to getting ready for the next major crisis. And, as government is "by the people," neither do the authorities do well in adequately positioning Uncle Sam to take care of those who won't take care of themselves.

View the whole article:


Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, Earthquakes ... Why We Don't Prepare
By AMANDA RIPLEY/ BOULDER

... the real challenge in the U.S. today is not predicting catastrophes. That we can do. The challenge that apparently lies beyond our grasp is to prepare for them. Dennis Mileti ran the Natural Hazards Center for 10 years, and is the country's leading expert on how to warn people so that they will pay attention. Today he is semiretired, but he comes back to the workshop each year to preach his gospel. This July, standing before the crowd in a Hawaiian shirt, Mileti was direct: "How many citizens must die? How many people do you need to see pounding through their roofs?" Like most people there, Mileti was heartbroken by Katrina, and he knows he'll be heartbroken again. "We know exactly--exactly--where the major disasters will occur," he told me later. "But individuals underperceive risk."Historically, humans get serious about avoiding disasters only after one has just smacked them across the face. Well, then, by that logic, 2006 should have been a breakthrough year for rational behavior. With the memory of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, still fresh in their minds, Americans watched Katrina, the most expensive disaster in U.S. history, on live TV. Anyone who didn't know it before should have learned that bad things can happen. And they are made much worse by our own lack of ambition--our willful blindness to risk as much as our reluctance to work together before everything goes to hell.

...

In this month's TIME poll, about half of those surveyed said they had personally experienced a natural disaster or public emergency. But only 16% said they were "very well prepared" for the next one. Of the rest, about half explained their lack of preparedness by saying they don't live in a high-risk area.

In fact, 91% of Americans live in places at a moderate-to-high risk of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, high-wind damage or terrorism, according to an estimate calculated for TIME by the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. But Americans have a tendency to be die-hard optimists, literally. It is part of what makes the country great--and vincible. "There are four stages of denial," says Eric Holdeman, director of emergency management for Seattle's King County, which faces a significant earthquake threat. "One is, it won't happen. Two is, if it does happen, it won't happen to me. Three: if it does happen to me, it won't be that bad. And four: if it happens to me and it's bad, there's nothing I can do to stop it anyway."

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Get Ready to Withstand the Pain

The Refuge is a moderate blog where we try to avoid shrill political, religious, or alarmist rhetoric. We focus on trying to raise awareness of the general need for crisis preparedness in every household, in the face of a wide range of potential natural and manmade disasters, through the long-term.

Historically speaking, bad stuff happens regularly and often to good people in this world. Our mantra is that there's no need to wait till the panic ensues to have to react and compete with everyone else for limited available emergency resources. Smart folks offset their vulnerability to disaster by thinking and planning ahead for reasonable contingencies.

Signals are Ominous

That said, we need to be straightforward now about what we see as a gathering, snowballing threat to our comfortable way of life in the West.

There is little need, we hope, to recount for you the recent and ongoing headlines about genocidal threats; murderous plots; and building, open warfare flaring in global hotspots. In a nutshell, international alliances for and against are clearly established; frantic diplomatic efforts are obligatory but doomed to ultimately fail.

Those in the know clearly see that the light now at the end of the tunnel is a glowing crimson.

The question for too many Americans remains, "So that's too bad, but what does it mean to me? Surely, little will change here at home, right?"

Well, for those who have hoped only for the best to this point, there is perhaps nothing to be done to effect a rapid adjustment in perspective. Optimism is great, but in times of unusual peril, realism saves lives.

There are far too many red flags whipping in the winds today to be able to forecast a pleasant tomorrow. Please do for your own now what many powerful and knowledgable people are indeed doing for themselves ... complete your preparations for some serious disruptions to our way of life.

Expect local transportation capabilities to severely diminish. Look for food and supplies of every type to become more difficult to find. Plan for social and economic order to become a memory. And all of this does not even account for the possibility that open, violent warfare could become a reality on the American mainland.

Be Alert

Palpable danger is now appearing on the short-range radar screen. Medium term, the blip pulsates and resonates with almost unavoidable impact. The world is rife with international groups and nations intent on rearranging the status quo. It isn't happening peacefully.

The earth is now a tightly compressed bundle of nerves. Pain is easily transmitted around the globe. Are you braced to withstand the inevitable?

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Prepare for the Adventure of a Lifetime

What is life, if not an adventure? What is an adventure without unexpected trials and rewards? Life itself, for most people, is a winding road with sometimes precipitous ups and downs.

Face it--it's not just a life, it's an adventure.

Smoothing Out the Bumps

After experiencing a sudden downturn in fortune or watching it happen to others, many realize the wisdom in putting away supplies and resources during good times in case they are needed during challenging times.

Preparing for the unscripted life-adventures is what we at Safecastle call "crisis preparedness" and it is what we aim to help you with.

Adventure planning today is big business in the travel industry. It's serious business. Outfitters who plan and furnish trips and expeditions into the wilds have to account for most potential misadventures that could be encountered. Experience is the best teacher in that regard, but common sense and a cautious bent are what tend to bring clients home safely. Adventure is the sales pitch, but survival is always the bottom line.

In everyday life, adventure is not always the ambition, but of course survival IS the consistent objective. Unfortunately, in an age when comfort, security, and convenience are the norm, anticipating disaster does not come naturally.

Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, major earthquakes and tsunamis, and escalating wars reaching into new lands are enough for some to realize that the odds do not guarantee security for all of us throughout our lifetimes. Crisis happens--whether you're ready for it or not.

The good news is that most disasters are survivable and are temporary in scope if one is adequately positioned to deal with the sudden challenges.

Perhaps what many have trouble grasping, at least here in America, is that our system is not equipped to operate through or after a serious disaster. Over-reliance on that system kills. We've seen it many times, but none so dramatically as in the Katrina aftermath, that for some still drags on.

The Survival Attitude

When push comes to shove, you're best served understanding that you're on your own. Don't just plan to wait for someone to come and rescue you or bail you out ... that help may never arrive.

In a large-scale disaster, the odds are against you receiving the aid you need when you need it. The odds are also against you being able to purchase your way out of trouble when you are most at risk, since the system of supply and transport is almost assuredly going to be a major casualty.

Play the odds all you want, but you should understand those facts right now, before the worst case becomes personal. Take steps now to prepare for unplanned adventures. After all, the world is not getting any safer.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sadly, Iran Holds the Key to a Pending Global Conflict

At the moment, our world is poised at a crossroads. Straight ahead lies a steep, paved incline into a dark valley of global warfare. Alternatively, we can yet turn aside to navigate the dangerous paths following the contours of the valley's rim.

We seem to have come upon this momentous time rather suddenly, though of course, the signposts warning of the approaching peril have been numerous and plainly apparent to those not asleep.

Those of us in the West who would prefer to continue to talk things out have been skillfully nudged and negotiated into the precarious position we now find ourselves. And we no longer have the proper balance or leverage to be able to make the choices that must now be made. Our biggest decisions will be made for us.

Across the global playing field, diverse alliances and political and cultural interests have come together to a point where, if there is one who now stands at the fulcrum and who has the power in hand to push the world forward into the shadowy terrors, it is Iran, and presumably its president, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad. His apocalyptic views and intentions are well-known, so it does not bode well for what comes next.

Do not doubt that Iran now holds the key. Rock-solid intelligence has Hezbollah and Syria beholden to Iran. Russia and China continue to provide aid and support to Iran. North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba are firmly allied with them. Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey as well as most of the Middle Eastern countries have cultural as well as economic and religious ties that bind. And of course, Iran has strong influence on global oil markets and firm control over the world's most powerful and capable terrorist organizations, in addition to Hezbollah, with members in place across the globe.

There is no Western consensus over what must now happen in the Middle East. And even if there was, the situation in Lebanon would not be resolved without the buy-in of Iran. It is clear the Iranian nuclear standoff with the West will not be settled via negotiation. Most telling, there are many indications that Ahmadi Nejad, over the last two months, has been in the process of privately and personally rallying his allies to a point and purpose that could go a long way toward defining the near-term future for everyone around the globe.

Revolutionary Jihad

The bottom line for Iran is nonnegotiable. Iran is a Muslim theocracy, ruled and controlled by people who live for one purpose--to dethrone the "Great Satan." The first aim is to bring about the destruction of Israel. And second, to wage a bloodthirsty campaign against all nonbelievers in order to establish a global caliphate. "Choice" is not an option--either for individuals or for Iran and its underlings

Not all of Iran's allies subscribe to the religious goals driving the Islamist movement, but they do embrace the power made manifest in this current phenomenon. They surely share the ambition of dethroning America as a superpower and as the yet predominant influence on global culture.

Clearly, the enemy feels the power of the present alignment of circumstance, and they are not likely to abandon the opportunity.

What to Do

History shows that most wars take time to grow and fully involve those who will be pulled in. There is still time, and perhaps plenty of time yet to prepare your household, physically and spiritually for the battles ahead. Do what you know needs to be done now. To hesitate any longer is to very possibly choose severe hardships for you and your loved ones in the not too distant future.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For Thou art with me ..." Psalm 23, v4

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Plan A: Bug-Out or Dig-In?

There are generally three plans of action one can lay out in preparation for possible local disaster. Most folks actually seriously consider only two of the three for reasons that are obvious.

1. Rare, but Effective: There are some who decide to change their life in total and move to a location that they deem is safe and secure from almost all threats. To do this often requires a full-household life-transformation, from career and home moves to lifestyle choices and standard of living alterations. This kind of plan is quite simply not realistic for most people today. But for those who do this, preparedness obviously becomes a prime driver in life, for better or worse.

2. Be Careful and Think Through This One: Some folks, for reasons reasonable or occasionally unreasonable, plan to deal with most or all disasters by "bugging out." If there is an attainable destination within a short drive, this may be OK. But much thought must be devoted to whether there is actually a necessity to leave your home and to make yourself vulnerable on the road--whether there may be gridlock along the route of your escape, or whether there may be elevated danger in a potentially chaotic evacuation scenario. Weigh the risks against the benefits. Is your planned bugout location truly that much safer and better equipped to sustain you in a time of crisis? Will you enjoy the familiarity and community support system in place in that other location that you would naturally have in place back at home? Are you willing to spend the time and money to prepare that location adequately (perhaps doubling your preparedness expenditures if you are also prepping your normal homestead for staying put through a period of difficulty)? The list of considerations is long if one really wants to seriously assess ramifications.

3. If Possible, Dig-in: For most people and for most disasters, the best "Plan A" is to stay put ... hopefully where you live, perhaps where you work. For planning purposes, minimizing your vulnerability to social chaos in an evacuation scenario and capitalizing on your home-neighborhood and community support system makes staying-put your best option. Of course, you must look at the exact situation and decide if that actually makes sense. For instance, exceptions to the rule might include a major hurricane bearing down on you, threatening to flood you out, or an industrial accident upwind that threatens air quality in your locale if you stay where you are.

Best to Be Ready Either Way

For everyone, the ideal approach to preparedness is to try to cover as many bases as possible. Be ready to stay home and fortify your position in the place you know best ... but also be prepared to pick up and get out of Dodge in an instant if you absolutely need to.

For many years my own plan was to be able to adequately anticipate whatever major danger might require "Plan A" to be put into action. That very optimistically meant being ahead of the curve, hitting the road before everyone else would be out on the highway, for a drive with my family and vehicles loaded to the roof with whatever necessities we could fit in. The destination was two-and-a-half hours away in ideal conditions ... our secluded cabin off the grid in the middle of the woods, far from even the closest rural neighbors. The place was fully stocked and squared away for a nice little rendevous with TEOTWAWKI.

But after years of spending the money and time to keep it at full readiness, it dawned on me that we could be more realistically applying my available resources to a solution with better odds.

It was, in itself, a big move for us after becoming so much a part of that piece of remote and beautiful property and the idea that we could play northwoods-pioneer-survivor whenever we needed to ... IF we could actually get there when the time came.

But the logic was undeniable and we did ultimately arrive at the decision to reformulate Plan A.

In a few words, that meant that we sold that property. We applied the money to building onto our outer-suburban home in the form of an addition. AND most significantly, the project included the installation of an indestructible steel fallout shelter under the addition. In short order, we greatly enhanced our chances of surviving most anything, and made our refuge more immediate, convenient, and certainly more robust. It proved less costly in the long run as well, since we no longer need to try to maintain and prepare two different locations for whatever may come.

So do we still have a Plan B? Of course. We know where we'll go if we need to bug-out. It's three-and-a-half hours away in ideal conditions and there is a nice community support system in place for us (family ties, etc.) But that Plan B is really Plan Z for us, as that is what we will do only when all else fails.

Staying put, putting money and work into fortifying one's homebase, developing community ties ... it all makes sense in more ways than just preparing for doomsday. It's almost a straightforward business decision--after looking at the risks, assessing the actual payback opportunities for various options, ascertaining core holdings and committing to the plan that holds the most promise based on available resources ... you almost always dig in and stick to what you know best, defending your current marketshare.

For us, it took years of working through other ideas and plans and alternative realities. But in the end, common sense prevailed--there's no place like home if you want to maximize your chances of survival across the spectrum of potential risks.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Time to Dial-Up the Adrenaline Feed a Notch

Calm, moderated awareness is always preferable to worry or panic. But when there is obvious potential danger over the horizon, it is time to let your natural defensive instincts kick in.

International tensions are reaching new heights and there is a reasonable chance that any manner of outcomes could seriously impact your way of life in the near to medium term.

What that should mean to anyone with a mind toward being prepared for crises is, do what you know needs to be done. Don't put it off any longer. Hopefully, we are just talking about topping off your supplies--food, storage gasoline, maybe picking up that needed piece of gear that you've been putting off.

Already, you will note that gas stations are doing a brisk business. Plenty of folks recognize that at the very least, gas prices could sky-rocket at any time, so they are filling up. Present $3 per gallon prices might soon seem to be a bargain.

If the flames do proceed to engulf more nations, including the U.S., drawing open hostile actions from all directions ... well, of course all bets are off, and we could quickly find even local food supplies being impacted here at home as well as experience a serious economic downturn.

Beat the rush and finalize your preps now. But again, there is no need to panic. Just do your thing as this is what logic dictates at the moment.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Monday, July 10, 2006

Probabilistic Risk Assessment - What are YOUR Chances for Coming Out on Top?

Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) is a field that is increasingly relevant in organizations that must mitigate their chances of catastrophic losses. PRA experts, including mathemeticians, engineers, and insurance technicians, use very sophisticated conceptual and computing resources to assess the risk of "low probability, high-consequence" events.

Companies and government agencies use such calculations to decide whether they are prepared to accept involved risk in a venture.

Examples: Vice President Dick Cheney was reported to have said, in reference to the war on terror, that as long as there was a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, we should act as if it is a certainty. In other words, in at least Cheney's mind, a 1 percent risk factor in terms of attack probabilities is a reasonable threshold for taking defensive measures to protect the population.

Another well-known example: Several years ago, NASA determined the risk of a catastrophic space shuttle failure was 1 in 145, or about .7 percent. NASA accepted that risk of failure as being reasonable, given the importance of their overall mission.

Couple the Risk with the Objective to Arrive at a Decision

Simply stated, risk is a measure of probability and magnitude of an adverse effect. (Note that probability is a function of time.)

Here are a few other examples of risk as assessed by William Allman in "Staying Alive in the Twentieth Century" (1985).



Activities Estimated to Increase Your Chances of Dying in any Given Year by
1 in 1 Million
Activity - Resulting Death Risk
Smoking 1.4 cigarettes - Cancer, heart disease
Drinking 0.5 liter of wine - Cirrhosis of the liver
Spending 1 hour in a coal mine - Black lung disease
Living 2 days in New York or Boston - Air pollution
Traveling 6 minutes by canoe - Accident
Traveling 10 miles by bicycle - Accident
Traveling 150 miles by car- Accident
Flying 1000 miles by jet- Accident
Flying 6000 miles by jet- Cancer caused by cosmic radiation
Living 2 months in Denver - Cancer caused by cosmic radiation
Living 2 months in a stone or brick building - Cancer caused by natural radioactivity
One chest X ray - Cancer caused by radiation
Living 2 months with a cigarette smoker - Cancer, heart disease
Eating 40 tablespoons of peanut butter- Cancer from aflatoxin
Living 5 years at the site boundary of a typical nuclear power plant - Cancer caused by radiation from routine leaks
Living 50 years 5 miles from a nuclear power plant - Cancer caused by accidental radiation release
Eating 100 charcoal-broiled steaks - Cancer from benzopyrene

It's very important to note that ALL behavior contains some inherent level of risk. Even behavior required to sustain life, such as eating, is inherently risky to some degree.

Traditionally, and still in the vast majority of households, risk perception is quite simply an emotional judgment. But there are a number of non-scientific factors that enter into one's risk perception ... and indeed to some degree, these factors must often be considered even within groups that rely upon the latest mathematical tools.

How we perceive a given risk involves such things as how much we enjoy an activity, how much experience we have with an activity, and whether we are able to discern that news media accounts of risk are often exaggerated. The bottom line is that emotion is a far more persuasive element in a risk/reward decision than statistics.

Virtually every decision we make can be boiled down to a risk/reward quotient. If we cared to go that far, we could easily become bogged down in the numbers for everything from which side of the bed to get out of, to what to have for breakfast, to where to invest that $4.52 in change you'll receive at the convenience store after paying for your milk, bologna, and latest issue of Monster Trucks Illustrated.

What's the Point?

Someday soon, I expect some of those proprietary actuarial formulas that are today helping the big guys make the big bucks for their big decisions will be available on the internet to the average Joe. In other words, we'll all be able to instantly calculate our personal exposure to risk--at least for the greatest risks out there--given our personal circumstances and habits. Of course, for many risks, location is the number one factor to feed into the grinder.

But until that time, most of us need to simply realize that mitigating household risk has to be about common sense and keeping an anchored and well-balanced perspective on reality and probabilities.

Personal Preparedness Should Not Be Emotional

Crisis preparedness is all about being ready for the likeliest worst-case scenarios that can impact you and your household. Some scenarios are within your control to mitigate. Others are well beyond any mortal man's control. All are capable of causing fear and over-reaction before they ever actually occur.

Although most of us are not about to attempt to work out the personalized risk-reward ratios for preparations for hurricanes or tornadoes or a local terror attack, it's worth keeping in mind that the risks are always going to be minutely fractional. So although it makes all the sense in the world to be prepared, just in case, no risk is worth losing sight of your greater objectives in this life--whatever they may be.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Don't Worry ... Be Ready

At the foundation of every preparedness outpost is some deeply held perspective on what the future may hold. With that in mind, I see this linked and excerpted opinion piece to be a worthwhile and entertaining test of the shaky dynamic on which some presumptions rest ...

http://www.slate.com/id/2144775/

The Future of Futurism
Down with the techno-utopians! Up with the techno-realists!
By Reihan Salam
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006, at 12:12 PM ET

It's easy to make futurists look silly. For every prediction that comes true (or that sort of comes true—Nostradamus predicted that someone named "Hister" would do something terrible one day), about 20,000 more do not. Just take a look at some of these forecasts from the 1970s: an economically vibrant Soviet Union will put America to shame, a new Ice Age will cause mass starvation, and a single eight-track cassette will hold all human knowledge.

Even so, it's not fair to say that all futurism is misguided. Just most of it. In his 1976 Time essay "Is There Any Future in Futurism?" Stefan Kanfer wrote that you could divide futurists into neo-Malthusians and Cornucopians. Neo-Malthusians are convinced that the world is going to hell. Some, like The Population Bomb's Paul Ehrlich, blamed population growth; others, like the Club of Rome, blamed economic growth. Either way, the prescription remained the same: You've got to change your evil ways, Earthlings.

The Cornucopians, in contrast, promise vast riches. Growth is the solution, not the problem. According to the 1976 Hudson Institute report The Next 200 Years, the coming decades would see declining population growth (true), a rising standard of living (also true), superintelligent robots in every home (do you own an Xbox?), and vast undersea cities (glub glub). Over the last few decades, it's safe to say that the Cornucopians generally got things right and that the neo-Malthusians generally got things wrong.

...

The best futurists take present-day trends in technology and extrapolate from them based on a few fundamentals: that large-scale institutions will keep being slow-witted, that small groups of people are good at learning and adapting to new circumstances, and that death and taxes will always be with us. Reynolds partisans can sit back and wait for "the comfy chair revolution" to come. Meanwhile, I'll be stockpiling enough ammunition, Cipro, and NewsRadio DVDs to last me through the coming robot wars.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Our Complacent Comfort Zone

Americans are once again settling back into that well-insulated nest of self-awareness we are so renowned for.

It's been "forever" since we've been effectively attacked on our own soil, and since our military forces have taken the fight to the aggressors' stomping grounds, it seems we no longer have anything to fear back in the good old USA.

Well, maybe other than just an occasional dose of mother nature ...

Yes, we're back into hurricane season, but Katrina last year wasn't so bad, was it?

We all saw the recent reports suggesting Southern California's San Andreas fault may be in position now for a cataclysmic snap-back that would dwarf other modern era quakes. But that's been looming over SoCal heads for so long now, it's mostly urban legend, isn't it? Just more of the same blah-blah-blah.

Oh, and we can't deny there's that rather ominous background buzz about a potential flu pandemic that could kill off more people around the world in a year or two than all history's wars combined. But other than that ...

Heck, one thing we've got under control is the economy. It's down to a science for those Greenspan/Bernanke types, so THAT variable of uncertainty is passe ... even though admittedly, more and more economists are alarmed about key indicators that suggest a major correction is around the corner if not a global economic collapse. Bottom line is, U.S. stock markets still offer rosy opportunities for short-term investment gains, so things can't be too bad out there, right?

There IS some interesting public discourse out there about illegal immigration, peak oil, Iranian and North Korean nuclear weaponry, and the like these days, and the subsequent seasonal political posturing taking place that makes for compelling election campaigning. So along with our ever-more finely tuned/chemically engineered athletic-cycle productions coming to us in High Definition and Surround Sound to keep us mildly entertained, America is back to normal.

Comfortably Numb

America's security blanket is of course woven from the finest pure fibers spun in our media industries.

Knowledge and information ... or manufactured ambivalence and disinformation ... in this age of competitive abundance of versions of the truth, it leaves all of us at some point wiping the spittle from our chins after periodically coming-to, when the microwave timer reminds us that we can always ingest a little more convenience and satisfaction.

The fact of the matter is, throughout our nation's history, our people have always shown that we do not have the stomach for major, long-term initiatives that require ongoing sacrifice. Yes, we certainly do step up to the plate and we'll get inspired to kick some butt when required, but after a few years of putting off our collective tendency toward complete self-indulgence, we lose interest ... and by golly, that time has come again, hasn't it?

That, more than anything else these days, does have me wondering what is in the wind. The smoke and alarming scents that were recently so easy to discern seem to have become nothing more than the environmental norm.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.net

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kim Jong-il Needs Attention from Time to Time

So once again, it seems for the moment, North Korea has taken center position on the global threat matrix.

A couple of excerpts from worthwhile BBC informational pieces follow (recommend reading them in full) ...


Tracking N Korea's missile intent
by Rob Watson Defence and security correspondent, BBC News

Like most things about North Korea, little is known for certain about the Taepodong 2 missile.
But there is no doubt North Korea does have a very long standing and pretty sophisticated missile programme.

In 1998, before it began observing a moratorium on tests, North Korea launched a Taepodong 1 missile which passed over northern Japan and surprised Western intelligence agencies by the use of three stages in the missile's propulsion system.


What is striking about the Taepodong 2 is that it could well be North Korea's first genuine intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) - a missile with a range of more than 5,500km (3,400 miles).

Just how far it might be able to travel and with what weight and type of warhead and level of accuracy is uncertain. But it has been suggested it could have a range up to 15,000km.

That would put Alaska or Hawaii within its reach and even the continental US if a lighter warhead were used.

(More ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5103394.stm )


Profile: Kim Jong-il

The little that is known about Kim Jong-il, North Korea's leader, conjures up a caricature of a diminutive playboy, a comic picture at odds with his brutal regime.

Diplomats and escaped dissidents talk of a vain, paranoid, cognac-guzzling hypochondriac.

He is said to wear platform shoes and favour a bouffant hairstyle in order to appear taller than his 5 feet 3 inches.
But analysts are undecided whether his eccentricities mask the cunning mind of a master manipulator or betray an irrational madman.

I know I'm an object of criticism in the world, but if I am being talked about, I must be doing the right things
Kim Jong-il Mr Kim may well encourage the myth-making surrounding him precisely in order to keep the Western world guessing. North Korea has little to bargain with, and ignorance breeds fear.

Film buff

The analysis of him as a mercurial fantasist is certainly beguiling.

He is said to have a library of 20,000 Hollywood movies and to have even written a book on the cinema. He even went so far as to engineer the kidnapping, in 1978, of a South Korean film director and his girlfriend.
This taste for the exotic apparently extends to gastronomy.

Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian emissary who travelled with Mr Kim by train across Russia in reported that the North Korean leader had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day which he ate with silver chopsticks.
The two men shared champagne with a bevy of female companions of "utmost beauty and intelligence", according to Mr Pulikovsky.

Mr Kim also has a reputation as a drinker. He was seen draining 10 glasses of wine during his 2000 summit with the South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and is known to have a taste for Hennessy VSOP cognac.

Strategist

As head of North Korea's special forces for much of the 70s and 80s, he has been linked by defectors to international terrorist activities, including the 1986 bombing of a Korean Airlines jet in which 115 people died.

(More ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1907197.stm )



Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Calm Before the Storm

The year's first hurricanes are doubtlessly germinating in the tropics at this point ... perhaps as yet little more than a breathy wisp off the edge of the proverbial butterfly's wing.

But have no doubt, the bell has sounded and the folks on the Gulf Coast and on the Atlantic seaboard have to be alert for the next killer storm warnings, wherever they may need to be issued.

You Know the Drill

The household storm-preparation drill remains the same, but the big-picture stakes continue to increase every year.

Unabated urban development inflates the potential for disaster all up and down the coasts. It also clogs escape paths for residents if they need to take flight. Meanwhile, insurance companies continue to amend their homeowners policies to minimize company potential for catastrophic loss ... and to of course increase the exposure of their policyholders to disaster.

There are many things beyond one's control in this situation. We can bemoan the fates of nature; the moves of city planners, government regulators and emergency management bureaucracies; and the ethics and motivations of corporate insurers. But it does still all come down to what is it YOU are doing to optimize your household's position in the struggle to overcome.

Your Options

Moving away from the danger is out of the question for most.

Building hurricane-proof homes and/or shelters are also unrealistic for most.

What does that leave? A need for a well-thought-out plan of action, that's what. Have on hand plenty of provisions that are portable and ready to move inland. By now, you should know well what you ought to be ready to take with you--the media has done a fine job of educating us on how to bug-out effectively. The key is, are you actually ready to throw it all in the car and move quickly? Yes, quickly--if at all possible, you want to be ahead of the surge--the flood of evacuees.

Initially, many will linger to see if indeed the hurricane track will change or if the storm will be downgraded. Others will simply wrestle with the decision to leave their homes till it is almost too late.

If you are ahead of the curve, you know what you will do to board-up, having the materials already on hand. You know what you will take with you, where you are going to go, and what routes are possible. And most importantly, you will have made up your mind to be decisive and not second-guess yourself if you want to avoid the gridlock and emergency-shelter shortage you will encounter with any delay in your reactions.

Take Advantage of the Opportunity

Now, before the storm appears on your horizon, is the time to do the prep work and to think it all through logically, calmly. Being prepared leaves you only that final decision to take action ... potentially life-saving action.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Montague Paratrooper Folding Bike


I just listed the ultimate prepper bike in my store--the Montague Paratrooper--developed in conjunction with DARPA for the military, and only recently made available in the civilian marketplace.

The bike comes in either an 18 inch or 20 inch frame. The one you want is based on your height--see the bottom of the listing. I could go on and on about this bike, but I suggest if you are interested, you have a look at the listing and do more research. This bike was designed and built to be dropped out of airplanes on a man's back, to be unfolded and to be ridden away in 30 seconds. Yep--tough and lite!

See my listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7246333712&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

Needless to say, a very nice preparedness / "bug-out" option to have.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scaring Up Preparedness

A good article here. Interesting to me that those finally embracing readiness in the last year have totally swamped existing preparedness supply lines ... and yet so very many more need to still wake up. The guy whose response was that he'll wait to get whatever he needs till the storm is on the horizon is typical. Most folks don't understand about our "Just in Time" supply-line limitations.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/31/us/31prepare.html?ei=5090&en=467e4e2eb6fdbce3&ex=1306728000&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

May 31, 2006
As Hurricane Season Looms, States Aim to Scare
By ABBY GOODNOUGH

MIAMI, May 30 — Convinced that tough tactics are needed, officials in hurricane-prone states are trumpeting dire warnings about the storm season that starts on Thursday, preaching self-reliance and prodding the public to prepare early and well.

Cities are circulating storm-preparation checklists, counties are holding hurricane expositions at shopping malls and states are dangling carrots like free home inspections and tax-free storm supplies in hopes of conquering complacency.

But the main strategy, it seems, is to scare the multitudes of people who emergency officials say remain blasé even after last year's record-breaking storm season.

To persuade residents to heed evacuation orders, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is broadcasting public service announcements with recordings of 911 calls placed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

"The roof has completely caved in on us," a woman cries as chilling music swells, only to be told that rescuers cannot come out during the storm.

Speaking of the tactics, Craig Fugate, Florida's emergency management director, said last week at a news conference in Tallahassee, "We're going to use a sledgehammer."

This save-yourselves approach comes after government agencies were overwhelmed by pleas for help after last year's storms and strongly criticized as not responding swiftly or thoroughly enough to the public need. Now, officials have said repeatedly, only the elderly, the poor and the disabled should count on the government to help them escape a hurricane or endure its immediate aftermath.

Mississippi, where more than 200 residents died in Hurricane Katrina, unrolled a "Stay Alert. Stay Alive" hurricane awareness campaign in April. State officials told residents what to pack in a "go-kit" for evacuating (flashlight, radio, nonelectric can opener) and, like many others, commanded them to stockpile at least three days' worth of water and food.

Horry County, S.C., home to Myrtle Beach, held a hurricane exposition last month and is giving similar presentations at Kiwanis clubs and homeowners associations.

"The big shortfall is complacency with the community," said Randall Webster, director of Horry County Emergency Management. "Our main theme is, take interest as an individual and make preparations."

But will it work? Emergency management officials groaned this month at a poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., which found that of 1,100 adults along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, 83 percent had taken no steps to fortify their homes this year, 68 percent had no hurricane survival kits and 60 percent had no family disaster plan.

"I can't rightfully say I see any increased sense of people getting ready," said Larry Gispert, emergency management director in Hillsborough County, Fla., home to Tampa. "It's like a psychological issue — 'If I don't think about bad things, bad things won't happen.' "

In Nags Head, N.C., Jimmy Austin, a former commercial fisherman who now operates his own seafood market, said he was unfazed by this year's predictions, some of which suggest that the Carolinas will be especially hard hit. He keeps his insurance current, Mr. Austin said, but sees no need for special precautions.

"I don't pay these things a whole lot of mind," said Mr. Austin, 69, a native of the Outer Banks. "Because they say so doesn't mean it's going to happen that way."

In Galveston, Tex., Keith Patterson, a resident there for 30 years, dismissed the urgency of a hurricane survival kit on Thursday. No use worrying about a hurricane until it is near, he said.
"When one is coming, I'll make preparations," said Mr. Patterson, 68, a retired purchasing clerk. "I'll get what I have to get then."

In Florida, the second annual tax holiday on hurricane supplies, from May 21 through June 1, has not drawn an overwhelming response, several store representatives said. But at least one store, the Lowe's in South Fort Myers, was selling more generators than barbecue grills last week, said John Sandford, operations manager there.

At a Home Depot, Brenda and Jerry Dyche of South Fort Myers were shopping for a generator last Wednesday. With that and a new roof, they said, they had no reason to flee.

"We'd just as soon be in our house," Mr. Dyche said. "Where are we going to go? I-75 is a parking lot by the time they evacuate everybody."

Likewise, Ronda Burke, who did not go inland last year to avoid Hurricane Rita but stayed on South Padre Island, Tex., to watch over her new health food cafe, Naturally's, said she would probably do the same this year if necessary.

"We feel about our store like you feel about a person," said Ms. Burke, whose husband took their two young children to higher ground as Hurricane Rita neared the Texas coast (and eventually came ashore far from South Padre Island). "We'd probably ride it out again."

Meanwhile, government agencies are preparing more thoroughly than ever, stockpiling water and food, improving communication technology and outfitting supply trucks with global positioning systems.

Hattiesburg, Miss., is buying $4 million worth of generators for its public buildings and water system. Broward County, Fla., bought a $500,000 command post vehicle to shuttle emergency managers among crisis spots. Many areas will offer more hurricane shelters this year, though officials like Herminio Lorenzo, the Miami-Dade County fire chief, are portraying them bleakly to encourage people to make their own plans.

"The very last place you would want to go is a Red Cross shelter," Mr. Lorenzo said last week at a community hurricane preparation meeting. "You're so close to the people sleeping next to you that you can feel the hair of their mustache on the side of your head."

Some communities are coaxing the public to prepare in a piecemeal way, like saving old milk jugs as emergency water containers and buying one extra can of food on every grocery trip. Escambia County, Fla., is publishing weekly shopping lists to try to get residents to stock up little by little. Martiza Vazquez of Miami said that approach had made preparing more manageable.

"Every time I go to the supermarket I buy four or five cans of tuna or soup or whatever," Ms. Vazquez, 37, said. "I have a checklist that came with the paper the other day, and I am using that to figure out how much is enough."

Waiting for a taxi to take her to her job at McDonald's, Chanavia Williams of Galveston, who makes $5.75 an hour, laughed at the notion of buying provisions to sock away.

"We got food, but I got none saved," said Ms. Williams, 17, the single parent of a 2-year-old, who lives in public housing.

Ms. Williams said she would have to sacrifice buying diapers and baby clothes to afford a hurricane survival kit.

Still, Ms. Williams, who evacuated on a bus as Hurricane Rita neared, said she wanted to prepare, echoing others who had frightening experiences last year. Wayne P. Sallade, emergency management director in Charlotte County, Fla., which was devastated by Hurricane Charley in 2004, said the Mason-Dixon poll numbers on hurricane preparation were skewed by people in states that had not had hurricanes recently.

"You talk to people in cities here, and there's an absolute fever for information," Mr. Sallade said.

That is also true in New Orleans and along the Mississippi coast, where post-Hurricane Katrina anxiety has compelled many to prepare diligently this year.

But in Houston, Joe Laud, spokesman for the city's emergency center, said only 1,000 people with special needs had registered for public transportation to pick them up in an evacuation. During Hurricane Rita, Mr. Laud said, 25,000 such residents needed help evacuating.
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, at his annual hurricane conference this month in Fort Lauderdale, sourly recalled the chaos after Hurricane Wilma last year, where throngs of residents lined up for free emergency supplies that quickly ran out.

"It makes it a lot harder when people line up in their Lexuses or Mercedeses to get ice and water at a public distribution site when the Publix is open a block away," Mr. Bush said.
As his audience of emergency workers applauded, he added, "I don't know about you, but it sure made me feel better to get that off my chest."

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastle.com