News for the week of 2023-06-05

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  • Comments (10)

    • 2

      Game Night is next Wednesday, June 14, at 6pm Pacific / 9pm Eastern. Seth has created a survival scenario for us to play in the form of a tabletop role playing game. No previous experience needed to join us. Follow the link to join Discord so that you’ll be ready later when the game starts.


    • 3

      Wildfires have sent smoke over much of Canada and the United States. For those in the United States, here’s a map to see how badly the air is poisoned in your area.


      If you’re concerned about long-term health risks (raises hand) you can start taking precautions if your area is yellow or worse or if you smell smoke. EPA recommends that high-risk people (children, elderly, medical conditions) start taking precautions for orange or worse and that everyone else start taking precautions for red or worse.

      Here are some precautions to consider if your area is smoky.

      1. Stay indoors as much as you can.
      2. Keep smoke out by closing windows.
      3. Remove smoke that enters your home or offices by running air purifiers.
      4. Wear a well-fitted N95 if you need to go outdoors or if you have difficulty keeping the smoke out.
      5. Skip exercise, which can make you more vulnerable to smoke.

      Here’s an article for more details about how to protect yourself.


      • 1

        Is a P100 better than an N95 for this?

      • 3

        “Is a P100 better than an N95 for this?”

        P100 will provide stronger protection. That’s partly because P100 is a stronger filter and partly because P100 are usually attached to an elastomeric “full face mask” or “half face mask” that are very good for sealing to your face.

        The most important part is the seal. I like N95s that have a little rubber around the edge to seal better. And those are good enough for my yellow area. If I were in a red or brown area, I’d break out my P100 full face mask or just stay home.

      • 3

        “Remove smoke that enters your home or offices by running air purifiers.”

        In case anyone needs an air purifier this week and can’t find them in stores…

        Corsi-Rosenthal boxes can be built quickly using inexpensive and readily available materials. One of these should be enough to get you through this situation.


      • 2

        Excellent idea and I just built mine!

      • 2

        I asked ChatGPT about using an N95 vs. a P100 and got a thoughtful response:

        N100 masks are a type of filtering facepiece respirator that, when properly fitted, are designed to filter out 99.97% of airborne particles. This is the same filtration level as a P100 mask, but like the N95 mask, the “N” in N100 stands for “Not resistant to oil.”

        This means that N100 masks are not intended to protect against oil-based particulates, but they can provide excellent protection against non-oil based particulates, such as those found in wildfire smoke. The effectiveness of an N100 mask, like all masks, depends on getting a proper fit on the face.

        Here are some factors to consider when comparing N100 masks to N95 and P100 masks:

        1. Filtration Efficiency: N100 and P100 masks filter out the same percentage of particles, and both offer a higher level of filtration compared to N95 masks.
        2. Oil Resistance: Like N95 masks, N100 masks are not resistant to oil. This is mainly a concern in certain industrial settings, and is less relevant for protection from wildfire smoke, which primarily consists of non-oil based particles.
        3. Breathing Difficulty: As N100 masks filter out more particles than N95 masks, they typically offer more resistance to breathing. This resistance can make it more uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
        4. Fit: As with all masks, a proper fit is crucial for effectiveness. Because N100 masks may be larger or heavier than N95 masks, they might be more difficult to fit properly.
        5. Availability and Cost: N100 masks are generally less common and more expensive than N95 masks.

        In summary, while N100 masks can provide a higher level of filtration than N95 masks, they can also be more uncomfortable, more difficult to fit properly, and more expensive. For most people, an N95 mask will be sufficient for protection against wildfire smoke when used properly. As always, it’s important to use masks in conjunction with other protective measures, such as staying indoors and using air purifiers. And remember, masks do not protect against harmful gases that may be present in wildfire smoke.

    • 2

      Canada on pace for a record-setting fire season

      This week has been a real wakeup call for a half-arsed prepper. We’ve had the largest-ever wildfire in the province of Nova Scotia, and another also struck the suburbs of the capital city, forcing some people I knew to evacuate.

      I’ve been discovering some of my mistakes, and how I hadn’t accounted for some of the climate change risks that are sort of “new” rather than just “more likely”. I focused on a BOB (imagining a house fire, gas leak nearby, whatever) and a bug-in situation (winter storm, hurricane, extended power outage). I admittedly haven’t done a great job for the food side of that one.

      I hadn’t really given any thought to the “what if you have a few hours to prepare” kind of scenario that might be involved in something like a wildfire or a chemical spill where you’re waiting for an official order or you have an inkling you may need to leave, but haven’t made the call yet. That’s basically what some friends of mine (whose family and property is thankfully fine) encountered. They did a really good job packing efficiently for the kids and dogs, but after they had evacuated and the status of the house was up in the air, they were kind of agonizing over some of the sentimental/irreplaceable items that were left behind, or ‘why didn’t I think to grab the external drive…’

      I had always loosely thought “grab your camera gear and your laptop and throw as much clothes and food in a spare bag as possible”, but it’s probably a case where a list would be helpful, especially since most of us don’t think best in times of stress or crisis.

      Also, documentation can fall out of date, and if you think ‘I’m sure that’s in the cloud somewhere’, you should probably make sure it’s on the cloud and that you know whether you left said documents on your Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud…That’s obviously pretty self-evident, but following through with recommendations like the annual prep check would have caught some of these things.

      • 3

        Those are some great thoughts on how to better prepare for evacuation. Even if you only have 30 minutes it’s probably worth grabbing some sentimental items, but only if you already know what you’re bringing and where to find it.

        The smoke must also have made evacuation difficult, due both to visibility and breathing. And evacuation of a large city probably means that hotels are all booked. Have you heard about any problems with the evacuation process?

      • 3

        Thanks. The evacuation zone is more of a suburb of the city proper. Except for a few people who scrambled out late (and produced some terrifying dashcam footage that felt very much like California wildfires, not the East Coast) it seemed to go reasonably orderly, at least in the initial phases, and as the fire came under control, they allowed people back into the largely unimpacted areas in successive phases. The aftermath is being compounded by our extremely tight housing market and small base of tradespeople. CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/displaced-residents-struggle-to-find-rentals-wildfires-1.6869678

        There’s also been some chatter about the SMS emergency alert system, and whether some of the alerts were a little later than they should have been, or whether others were too repetitive and caused people to tune out, etc. Emergency alerts are a big sore sport in the province after the Portapique mass shooting, in which the RCMP basically only communicated via Twitter.