News roundup for Tue, Sep 20, 2022

In short:
  • Hurricane Fiona might strengthen, hitting Turk and Caicos and continuing towards the Bahamas.
  • Germany’s natural gas storage is nearly at 90% but will be enough for one winter only.
  • Almost one in five US households has medical debt.
National Preparedness Month Challenge

Each Tuesday and Friday throughout September, the news roundups will feature a section of TP’s beginner’s checklist and introduce a conversation topic or a challenge to work on. After reading the highlighted section in the roundup, follow the instructions, and join us on Discord to discuss and get support. Read the introductory post and the previous topic here.

Today’s topic: Get Home Bags, Everyday Carry, and vehicle supplies

What happens if an emergency strikes while you’re away from home?

You clearly can’t walk around with a heavy bag all of the time, so the key is to keep the right kinds of supplies where they naturally fit within your life pattern — most people’s daily patterns tend to be pretty consistent and predictable, so use that to your advantage.

Example scenarios:

  • A badly bleeding and clearly drunk student is stumbling around an alley alone on a cold Friday night — a real scenario handled by a The Prepared reader who used the info learned in this guide!
  • Your subway car loses power in between stations.
  • You witness a serious car accident while driving home in rush-hour traffic. It might take emergency services 10 to 15 minutes to arrive.
  • You’re cornered by two muggers while walking home from your friend’s apartment at night.
  • A shooter attacks random people while you’re in the shopping mall.
  • An earthquake strikes while you’re at work. Your car is in the parking garage and you work in the city about 30 minutes away from your suburban home.
  • Kim Jong Un decides to interrupt your well-deserved spa day by sending an ICBM to the neighboring city.

For most people in modern societies, that means a combination of:

  • A Get Home Bag (GHB) in your vehicle trunk, work locker, office, or wherever else it can be safely stored in a way that’s near you for as much of a typical day as possible.
  • Everyday carry (EDC) items you keep on your person at all times, either on your body or in a daily-use pack, such as a school backpack or purse.
  • Car supplies. Even if you keep a GHB in your trunk, it’s a good idea to keep additional gear specifically for vehicle problems.

Bonus reading: Confused by SHTF, BOB, EDC, VEDC, and all other acronyms? Here’s a guide to the most common prepping words.

For the challenge:

1. Finish reading the section about EDCs and GHBs.

2. For the next couple of days, pick one or two of the following to work on:

  • Go through your EDC, GHB, or VEDC: What needs to be replaced (dead batteries, expired food, seasonal clothing, etc.)? What needs to be tuned up (sharpen and oil a knife, etc)?
  • Build a GHB or VEDC for a family member or friend. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; whatever you put together is more likely than not going to be better than what they currently have.
  • Read the EDC checklists. What you can change with your current setup?

2. Join us on Discord anytime after 12 pm ET in the #national-preperadeness-month channel for discussions and support. If you’re not on Discord, feel free to comment below.

Economy, supply chain, energy

The Fed is likely going to hike interest rates this week. Here’s a breakdown of how that may impact your credit card, car loan, mortgage, student debt, and savings.

Inflation is forcing more Americans to pile up credit card debt. The report shows that 59% of Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year carry a credit card balance from month to month. Americans owed $887 billion in credit card debt as of June 2022.

Study: Almost one in 10 Americans and one in five US households are in medical debt. Medical debt doubles your chances of being unable to afford food, rent, mortgage, or utilities. Medical debt was just as common among middle-class Americans as those with low incomes. Medical debt was the lowest among military health insurance, at just under 7%. The average medical debt was about $2,000 for an adult and about $4,600 per household.

Could you or your family afford an unexpected medical bill (or any other unexpected bill)? One of the rational reasons to be prepared is to be able to deal with common emergency situations, such as an unexpected medical bill. Here is a guide on how to build an emergency fund.

Ukraine is in short supply of glass panes for windows. Explosions have shattered so many windows in Ukraine, and glass is in short supply. After its biggest glass factory was bombed in 2014, Ukraine has relied on Russian and Belarussian imports. But since this war started, those trade links are gone. According to the UN, millions of Ukrainians are living in homes “ill-suited to provide sufficient protection from harsh winter conditions.” Ukraine has a long winter, nearly half the year, with wintry weather from mid-October to mid-March, and temperatures can go down to 10 below zero.

Europe’s energy crisis is forcing factories to cut production and furloughing workers. Industrial production in the euro area fell 2.3% in July from a year ago, the biggest drop in more than two years. Half of Europe’s aluminum and zinc production has been taken offline.

Report: Germany’s economy minister says natural gas storage is nearly at 90% but will be enough for one winter. The challenge for Europe will be to re-establish the storage come spring of 2023.

Electric vehicles could rescue the (US) power grid with V2G charging. By 2035, the batteries in California’s zero-emission cars could power every home in the state for three days and rescue the grid when necessary. V2G (Vehicle-to-grid charging, or bidirectional charging) is still in its early days but is an exciting use case for EVs. The article focuses on California likely because it pledged to sell zero-emission cars quite soon, but the concept is applicable to EVs in general.

FWIW, EV Adoption in the US is happening faster than predicted, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Climate change, extreme weather

Cat. 1 Hurricane Fiona left most of Puerto Rico without power. About 1.3 million residents were impacted, and power was restored initially for about 100,000. Full power restoration could take several days. Click the link in the tweet for the latest forecast:

Do you know how to deal with a blackout? If you’re thinking of either going fully off-grid or just want to know how to power your electronics during a blackout, here’s a handy off-grid power 101 for beginners.

Typhoon Merbok pounded Alaska, pushing homes off their foundations and tearing away protective berms. It’s not unusual for storms to form here, but Merbok built up over unusually warm water. Waves reached 50 feet over the Bering Sea, and storm surges sent water levels into communities at near record highs. Merbok hit just when indigenous communities in the region were stocking up on food for the winter.

Typhoon Nanmadol slammed into Japan, killing at least two. Nanmadol is one of the strongest typhoons to ever make landfall in Japan. Officials have ordered 9 million people to evacuate.

Tips on how to survive a hurricane:

  • Even if you already have your home supplies organized and/or the car is packed, pay special attention to keeping your bug out bag nearby. If you have to run away quickly, like if the house blows over, your BOB is the one thing you should grab.
  • Stay on the bottom floor unless water is rising.
  • Keep away from windows, glass doors, and skylights.
  • Try to surround yourself with strong walls and/or multiple walls that can shield you from shrapnel.
  • Don’t take a bath or shower, you can get electrocuted.
  • If you expect flooding or see it approaching, kill your electricity at the main breaker before water gets in — this can reduce the risk of electrocution.
  • Don’t go outside in the eye of the storm. It’s tempting, but the back wall can come up suddenly, taking winds from 0 to 200 mph in a flash.

Here is how to prepare for a hurricane that is hours away.

Here’s how to prepare for a hurricane that is days away.

Taiwan was hit by a 6.9 earthquake. Just a reminder that things can fall over your head. This is why one of the first things you can do to prepare your home for an earthquake is to reduce dangerous things that will fall.

A 7.6 earthquake also struck Mexico‘s Pacific coast. At least one dead. Mexico had just finished a nationwide earthquake drill an hour before the shaking started. Mexico had more than 50 earthquakes larger than M6 in the past forty years. Here’s a good explainer of why:

2022’s supercharged summer of climate extremes: How global warming and La Niña fueled disasters on top of disasters.

Another year of La Niña means the world is hurtling toward $1 trillion in weather-disaster damages by 2023. The floods, droughts, storms, and fires will destroy more homes, ruin more crops, further disrupt shipping, hobble energy supplies, and, ultimately, end lives. Read the report from Bloomberg, which also looks at La Nina’s recent impact across the globe.

Repeated El Niño events could spark big ecological shifts. Five major El Niño events per century could lead to fewer fishes that thrive in cold water and more terrestrial birds in eastern coastal ecosystems.

Via The Scientist

Biden said that the pandemic is over.  Maybe it might be over in some people’s minds, but Covid is still killing hundreds a day in the US alone.

Few children under five have received Covid shots, worrying health experts as fall and winter approach.

US survey: Scheduling times for new patients have increased by 8% since 2017. The number of days a patient has to wait for an appointment in four specialties — ob/gyn, cardiology, orthopedic surgery, and dermatology — continues to rise. In cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle, people had to wait an average of 26 days for a new patient appointment. By 2034, primary care physicians are expected to fall short of demand by up to 48,000 physicians. In 2034, the US population over 65 is expected to grow by 42%.

Opinion: The uncomfortable nexus between poop and privacy. Wastewater surveillance is a valuable tool in the fight against infectious disease, but it carries risks of its own, including the potential for undermining privacy and for being put to use for purposes outside of public health, such as in law enforcement.

All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.Winston Churchill


    • Eric

      “Cat. 1 Hurricane Fiona left most of Puerto Rico without power.”

      As a Floridian, I’ve experienced lots of hurricanes. My rule of thumb is to take them seriously at CAT 3 or higher. This one was only CAT 1, yet dumped a ridiculous amount of rain that flooded much of Puerto Rico.

      Time to revise that rule of thumb? The hurricane CAT ratings are based only on wind speed. But hurricanes actually do more damage by flooding than by wind. Severity ratings need to reflect the expected rainfall as well.

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      • xyz Eric

        I would suggest folks take all hurricanes seriously.  Even a Cat 1 can cause significant damage.  Plus, it’s becoming more common for multiple storm systems to pass through a large area of the country during the hurricane season.  If you’re in the middle of rebuilding when that happens, it can ruin your life and the lives of those in your community.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Good luck this week.

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    • Greg P

      COVID – apparently government/society has come to the conclusion that allowing a death toll  of somewhere between 110K-145K per year from COVID is “acceptable” because we don’t want to wear masks and/or take time off work when we are sick.  Has there been some calculation that we are thinning/improving the herd by killing off those who are older and/or medically vulnerable?  I didn’t get that memo.  All snarky remarks aside – I’m deeply saddened that we have CHOSEN to sacrifice some of our citizens just to avoid a little inconvenience.

      In my mind another domino has fallen on our way to the collapse of civilization.  Keep prepping my friends, it’s only going to get worse.

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      • Eric Greg P

        “Has there been some calculation that we are thinning/improving the herd by killing off those who are older and/or medically vulnerable?”

        I’ve heard that argument made, and not as a joke. Aside from the obvious ethical issue with that, it’s also just terrible strategy.

        This is not just selectively killing off already sick people. It’s also making healthy people sicker. If you were healthy at the beginning of this mess, then COVID is unlikely to kill you directly, but it will still damage you long term and lead to a variety of other problems later.

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      • Hardened Greg P

        Has there been some calculation that we are thinning/improving the herd by killing off those who are older and/or medically vulnerable?

        I’m just as cynical as the next guy but entertaining this calculation would require more thought than anyone is putting into the pandemic (other than “I don’t want to deal with it any more”).

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      • Greg P

        What is left? What can be done that hasn’t been tried?

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    • TraceContributor

      Under the topic of: “What happens if an emergency strikes while you’re away from home?”

      The place I’ve always been concerned about are airports, especially layovers (admittedly I give this too much headspace because I don’t fly all that much). But there you are, in your comfortable shoes that are easy to take off (flip flops anyone?), the only items you have are the few comfort items you like to fly with plus some extra clothes and <fill in your scenario> disaster happens. You know no one in the area, you’re in an airport with a ton of unprepared strangers, many airports are not in walking distance of much — what’s your plan?

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      • Henry Tubbs Trace

        Reminds me of Tom Hanks in The Terminal. 

        Comfortable clothing. Jacket for the cold. Assume your checked bag is going to get lost because it happens, have what you need in your carry on bag to live for a day or two. Pack some snacks because airport food is expensive. 

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