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NYT article on PNW tsunami threat

Hi all,

Just wanted to share this article from yesterday’s New York Times re: the tsunami aspect of the seismic hazard in the PNW and how communities are trying to prepare:

The article actually does a good job of explaining why a tsunami triggered by a Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake would be so destructive, touching not only on the oft-mentioned aspects of the hazard (e.g., the height of the wave; the arrival time) but also the fact that 12-20 minutes of lead time for evacuation does not get you as far (literally) on buckled, undriveable roads, and the fact that the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington have a lot of huge bays fronted by multi-mile-long, extremely low-lying sand spits that have been heavily developed and will literally be overtopped by the wave. (The article has tons of maps that illustrate this effectively.)

We’ll have to wait and see what happens after the votes on the various evacuation-tower-financing bond measures are cast, but it seems like there are some real signs that people in the affected communities are taking the threat seriously. It’s one thing when geologists at DOGAMI and the major research universities in the region offer journalists quotes about the number of thousands of people who will die; it’s another thing when a school superintendent says, “The fact of the matter is that if a tsunami occurs tomorrow, we are going to lose all of our children.” At least we’re (maybe) past the point where nobody in these communities is willing to confront the reality that they will not be able to evacuate.

I also read (too many of) the comments. It was interesting to see what wasn’t getting across/what people were confused about. For example, a lot of folks seemed to have a “these towers will never work!” reaction, but the Japanese have been building them for a while and there are engineering design guidelines for this type of structure. I’d really prefer a managed retreat strategy for a place like Ocean Shores than a bunch of expensive, ugly evacuation towers (especially since sea level rise will come for that town even if the tsunami holds off for a couple more centuries), but the former is so legally fraught and so much more costly that I just don’t see Washington, let alone Oregon, getting to it in a timely fashion. I suspect they’re going to let California figure it out first (with respect to climate change, i.e., not tsunamis), since California has money. That’s moving really slowly, though, so I feel like Oregon and Washington should maybe just invest in some towers in the meantime, you know?

Also, a lot of people were getting in “people shouldn’t live there!” arguments, and many of the people on Team People Shouldn’t Live There seemed to have the impression “there” consists of super wealthy communities where people with options have chosen to live because they “want an ocean view.” But a lot of the PNW coast is pretty economically depressed, and it’s less that people have chosen to live there than that they’re from there and it would be super challenging for them to relocate. Also, scientists didn’t really understand that these tsunami-generating mega-quakes could happen here until the 1990s, so of course people settled and built in dangerous places— they didn’t know they were dangerous!

The other interesting thing in the comments is just seeing the range of reactions. Some people were like, “So much for visiting Oregon and Washington ever in my life!” While some PNW commenters’ reactions were more along the lines of, “I’m figuring I’ll probably just die when it hits and I’m okay with that.” Personally, I visit the coast all the time, but don’t like being out on those spits. My husband has wanted to explore a couple of them (at Tillamook Bay and the mouth of the Columbia) and I was totally jittery the whole time. I also haven’t spent a night in the tsunami inundation zone since 1996 and have no intention of ever doing so again. 

So, I’m curious: Any PNWers out there have thoughts on any of this? (Or people from BC or Japan?) For those who aren’t PNWers, do you think we’re nuts to live here? 😀

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Summary Report: Our power went out

Last night our power went out for four hours. Everything was fine. I sat by the fire and read a garden seed catalog by candle light. This is dangerous: now I want to buy everything! Everything looks good in the catalog!

This was a good opportunity to review what worked and what needs fixing. Sharing here in case it is useful. I find it good practice to write up a review for myself. Suggestions are welcome.



Power outage started around 7pm Power back on around 11pm (4 hours)

What went well:

Having a keychain flashlight. I carry three mini flashlights on my keychain, which I have on me at all times. As soon as the power went off it was pitch-black dark, and of course – one of the flashlights was out of battery. Thankfully I have two spare. I was able to calmly and easily find my way around the house, to gather the family and go get the LED candles. LED candle lights. These are just the cheap pick from ikea – they glow like a candle and take two AAA batteries. They give off a nice soft glow. We had enough we could hand one to each person, and leave one on a table or at the top of the stairwell if needed. Once everyone has their own light, everything is calm. Natural gas fireplace. With no power, the main furnace won’t run. That’s why we have this. I keep the pilot lit all winter for exactly this reason. It costs me a few dollars per month to keep it lit, but you’re sure glad for it when you really need it. We flipped the switch and got heat and light. Left the fire on during the whole outage. Everyone stayed calm. The fireplace is on, so we just gathered nearby and relaxed. Have a nap. Read a book. Whatever suits you. Group text chat with our neighbours. We use Signal, because its the only app I trust for security. We are lucky to have two great sets of neighbours, with similar mindset (and they are much more skilled than I am at e.g. shooting, gardening, and other skills. I learn a lot from them). We’ve spent a long time building a relationship for our group. The app was useful – we could gather and share info. It helped to stay informed. Data connection. We were able to text lots of other neighbours and check on them, to see if everyone was okay. Luckily: yes. We do have a backup emergency phone on a different network, with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ card. Didn’t need to use it. Pantry food. We were able to easily open crackers, canned peaches, etc. And eat dinner without cooking. I enjoy intermittent fasting, and considered making it a ‘challenge’ for myself to get through the situation without eating. But I figured if I had to go help someone, or the situation got worse, it would be better to have energy. So I ate. Curtains and blinds. As soon as everyone was safe and cozy by the fire, I went around the house and closed everything to keep the heat in. DIY home repair. I have spent many months fixing leaks to try and make our home more passive and efficient. Installing vapor barrier. Taping and sealing. Installing gaskets and covers on electrical sockets. Weather stripping. etc. I have no direct measurements but I like to hope this helped. Friendly backup location. If worst comes to worst, we have a family member within driving distance that is in our covid cohort. We could load up the go bag and go there instead. Didn’t need to. But glad to have the option. Got to have a conversation about being prepared. After the power came on one of our neighbours texted us, discussing how we were doing. Their fireplace does not work, and has been broken for a long while. Discussing our steps and situation with them got them thinking, making comments like “huh, that’s a good idea. Maybe I should look into fixing our fireplace for next time…”. Great! That’s the kind of self-assessment and improvement I love to see.

What could improve:

Fix my power outage alerts to be text messages, not email. I had alerts configured with the power company to notify me if the power went out. It was pretty obvious it went out. But setting them to email was dumb – I couldn’t access my email over the data connection; it was too hammered and slow. So I didn’t get any updates. Luckily our neighbour in the group chat was smarter than me, and had his set to text. So we could still get updates on the ETA to restore power. Wind-up hand crank flashlights. These did not work. I always thought these would be useful because they don’t require batteries. But the lights don’t give off much light. Also if you had young kids – the cranks take a certain amount of manual dexterity to wind them correctly. I won’t use these again. Much better to have simple LED candles. Stored water containers: empty out some of the water. I have several 7 gallon jugs. If it was seriously cold, they might freeze, expand, and burst. I should drain some water to store them 90% full, or down to 6 gallons per container. Keep doing house improvements. Long term, I want to add more attic insulation. Short-term, we have one very leaky window that needs to be fixed or replaced. My next summer projects may include installing a better exhaust vent for our bathroom fan that doesn’t let in cold air; and putting spray foam behind (but not inside) electrical boxes.

Where we got lucky:

It was warm! Two weeks ago was -35C (-31F). Last night was -5C (23F) instead. Big difference. Much easier to deal with. We were very lucky this outage happened after it warmed up. The whole family was safe at home when it happened, not out driving or doing anything. Data connections and text messages still worked. If they hadn’t I would have gone by foot to check on one of our closest neighbours, who is elderly.

Overall, pretty happy.
Now I need to budget for garden seeds.

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7 things to prepare before it’s too late

I’ve been thinking about TEOTWAWKI or The End of the World as We Know It. To be clear, I believe that there are many other more likely scenarios to happen before this, but if you plan for the worst you will be prepared for the rest. 

As part of my family’s plan I wanted to make a list of the things we need to get in order before it’s too late. They are in no particular order and is just a very short list of things we need to do. I am planning on expanding my description of and notes for each point once I finalize the list. What do all you preparedness experts think of this list and what would you add or change?

1) Have ways to collect, treat, and store water

Water is life, we all need a lot of it not only for drinking but cleaning, cooking, and hygiene. Not having it will quickly lead to disease, dehydration, and death. Not only is storing clean water important, but have ways to collect and clean more.

2) Store food and ways to cook it

Start with a week of food, then a month, then three, then six if possible. Have ways to cook and prepare multiple recipes with the food we store and don’t just do beans and rice every day. 

3) Learn basic first aid and have a supply of medical supplies

Be able to treat wounds, sprains, cuts, and breaks. Store medications and don’t forget about dental and eye health. Store more than we think we will need.

4) Have backup sources of energy

Have alternative ways to stay warm, cool down, modes of transportation, and power the various devices and appliances in our home.

5) Fortify our homes and self

Secure our home against nature, humans, and animals. Learn personal self defense and carry some defense tool with us at all times if possible. No use preparing if we get our stuff stolen or die.

6) Create a reference library and practice various skills

The internet may not always be available, have some paper reference material and practice skills so we aren’t trying new things during the disaster.

7) Work with other preppers

We want to create a network of other like minded individuals and have goods and skills ready that can be used for trade and bartering.

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I had to pepper spray a couple of dogs. Here’s how that went

Today, I had to pepper spray a couple of dogs to protect my chickens (and to protect the dogs from the roosters). Long story short, it was effective and there’s a mostly happy ending. It was definitely a happier ending than if I had to shoot them or if a rooster had clawed them.

Check out our guide to the best pepper spray.

I was in my office working on an upcoming guide when my wife burst in and told me there were dogs outside messing with our beagle. I grabbed a gun and ran outside to find two nearly identical, very large dogs looking down at my beagle as she barked her head off at them. They looked like some kind of Collie mix.

I walked up to them and started yelling at them to “git.” They just stood there staring at me. I had the gun trained on them in case they were aggressive, but I saw collars on them and soon realized that they were harmless. Regardless, I still didn’t want them around my dog, and I definitely didn’t want them getting near my chickens.

I kept yelling at them until they finally got the message and took off down the road. But a few minutes they were back, in the woods across from our house.

I was worried they would come around to the other side of my yard and go after the chickens, so I parked my oldest son at the window to stand watch. Having written our guide to pepper spray, I decided that if they came back for the chickens, my can of POM would be a better deterrent than shooting them, and they clearly didn’t respond to verbal commands, so I slipped a can in my pocket.

Sure enough, after a few minutes he started yelling that they were near the chickens. I was sort of prepared, but not enough, slipping my bare feet into my Crocs and taking off running in the snow without a hat or jacket.

I have two chicken tractors, which are just movable wire cages. One has my old ISA Brown hens while the other has my Australorps, including two roosters. The dogs were circling the Australorp tractor and the birds were panicking. They’d knocked their waterer and feeder off their hangers and the hens were bunched up behind the roosters. If the dogs had breached the tractor, I’m not sure which would have had the worst of it: the dogs or the chickens. Those roosters frequently peck and claw at me, and I’m the one who feeds them (and yes, Napoleon, the chickens DO have large talons).

I already had the can of POM in my hand, so when one of the dogs approached me I sprayed it directly in the eyes. Or at least tried to: the wind was blowing a bit so not all of it connected. The dog didn’t seem to respond so I sprayed it again. It apparently took a second to register. After that, the dog’s nose started to twitch and it ran off to just over my neighbor’s property line.

The other dog had hid behind the tractor with the ISA Browns and it was looking for a way into the tractor. I gave it a good spray as well, because I had to make it clear that the chickens are not to be messed with. It learned a bit faster than its sibling and ran off to join it. With both dogs rubbing their noses in the snow, I was satisfied that they would leave the chickens alone.

To cut a long story short, we got in touch with the owner, who understood why I had to spray them, and they brought the dogs home. At least for a minute, before they got away again. I hope they don’t get around the chickens again, because I may have to take more drastic action.

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

1. If you keep a gun for self defense, you should also carry pepper spray. If I didn’t have pepper spray, I would have had to shoot them or hit them with sticks or something, because they clearly weren’t listening to me. I might could have lured them away with treats or meat, but that risked making them return customers.

2. The pepper spray was surprisingly silent. The can made no noise and the dogs didn’t either. I expected yelping or barking or something.

3. I should definitely get a belt holster for the pepper spray so I can keep it at the ready. The can has a pocket clip, but I’m not crazy about carrying it that way.

4. I also should invest in some bear spray. The fog would be more effective against dogs, and we do have the occasional bear sighting now. (Bears are more of an East Tennessee thing, but some have migrated to Middle Tennessee.)

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Item scarcity with the emergence of a war with Russia

Hypothetically, if the USA were to go to war with Russia what would that mean for us as individuals and how can we prepare now?

If the war were to drag on for some time, would ammo and gun manufacturers not make things for civilians and those resources would be used for the government and war effort? Would we see limits on clothing and food in order to support the troops with car manufacturers  making planes like during WWII and driving up the prices for cars here even more?

One more question. From my history classes I vaguely remember that war=increase spending and work for the economy. Correct me if I’m wrong here but if many new jobs were created for a war effort would that help the economy and change the direction we are heading with inflation and all that or would it only drive us more in debt? I never took an economics class…

What do you predict we should do now to prepare?

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How to defend against marauders after a disaster

After a significant disaster occurs, those who are unprepared or less prepared will start to get hungry, thirsty, or cold. If there isn’t relief provided in enough time they will go into that survival mindset and think that the only option is to take from others or die. 

We try and prevent ourselves from ever getting in that mindset ourselves by stockpiling food, water, and other supplies. Maybe we even stock more than we need so that we can give to others and prevent them from getting desperate. 

But take a minute to think about your situation and what you would do if you started to hear about marauders raiding houses in your neighborhood. What are some of the steps you would take to fortify your home, defend your possessions and family, and deter them from coming around? Try saying more than “got my guns n’ ammo, I’m good…”. 

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What if history really isn’t any guide?

In a past life, I used to be a historian. Or at least, a historian-in-training (I bailed on a PhD). I spent ten years at two good schools reading dead languages and writing papers, and in one of my seminars a professor said something that has stuck with me ever since (I’m paraphrasing): “there are two types of thinkers: lumpers and dividers.”

What she meant was, some people (lumpers) spend most of their time arguing that two seemingly disparate things are actually alike, while others (dividers) tend to argue that these two things that look alike are actually very different.

This insight isn’t all that novel — in Plato’s Timaeus, the universe is laid out on the axes of “same” and “different.” But it is useful, and I recall it every time I get into a lumper vs. divider fight with a practicing historian over a current political issue — the historian is usually trying to win an argument by analogy with the past (lumping), while I’m on the other side of the table pounding my fist that this new thing is very different from that old thing and the attempted historical analogy is just plain wrong.

I’m now having more and more of these arguments around the topic of the pandemic, as different kinds of thinkers begin to tackle it with the tools they have at hand. For historians, the main tool is the historical analogy. And the results are a kind of master class in how to royally screw this up.

Here’s an example of an historian-in-training (at an institution I spent five years at, no less!) doing some misguided lumping:

people are losing sight of the distinction between "things are going to be weird for a year or two" and "things are going to be weird for a year or two, therefore they will stay that way forever"

— Jake Anbinder (@JakeAnbinder) May 13, 2020

I did a short Twitter thread ( in response to the above, but I’d like to come at it from a different angle, here.

There’s a trap that historical lumpers so often fall into, not just with the pandemic, but whenever they try to bigfoot everyone in a current events debate by jumping in with their 10,000-foot historical perspective.

Lumping together two historical events/groups/trends that are both in the past can work because there are agreed-upon boundaries for the two historical things. In other words, because in the process of writing a “history” of things X and Y, historians have drawn some temporal and social boundaries around X and Y in order to “construct” (*gag*) them as objects of historical inquiry. (I can’t believe I just wrote that but whatever.)

Where historians get into trouble is when they try to lump together an historical event with an event that’s still unfolding and is open-ended, where it’s impossible to draw the necessary hindsight boundaries needed to make the analogy truly work. This is especially treacherous when historians undertake to make predictions about the future based on a historical analogy.

But as fraught as the practice of predicting the future based on analogy with the past is, the whole thing comes completely and hopelessly unglued when you’re trying to do the historical analogy thing with a pandemic.


The act of constructing an object of historical study out of events of the past — of drawing a circle around a collection of things that happened, and saying “this is all connected, and I’m giving it a name and telling you how it worked” (i.e. “lumping”) is what the kids these days would call a powermove (

And the act of taking someone else’s historical object and whacking it until it cracks apart and then reassembling the pieces into two or more different historical objects (i.e. “dividing”) is also a powermove.

The sport of making an historical object, and then rallying your camp to defend it, king-of-the-hill-style, while some other faction within your guild tries to smash it to pieces in order to create their own object out of the same material, is “history.”

When historians bring these powermoves into the area of a live political debate, they’re deliberately trying to shape the debate and the eventual historical outcome. It’s an overt attempt to intervene and steer the unfolding of events by means of analogy. In this respect, they’re taking a strategy that works for the status game they’re playing inside their guild, and trying to juke current events with it. Sometimes that works really effectively, and sometimes it doesn’t.

But a pandemic is not a purely political issue that you can intervene in and steer. Sure, it has massive political ramifications, and politics definitely affect how it unfolds in a particular geography. But in between the forces of political cause and political effect is a novel pathogen with a mind of its own, and that novel pathogen gets the final say in how the pandemic unfolds.

So while the pandemic comes wrapped in a thick cloud of politics, the novel pathogen at its heart is a force of nature, and that force of nature does not even see any of the human social constructions that are so real to you and I, much less respect them. It just burns through every clan and faction and border and popular movement and historical moment, with zero regard for what came before or what will come after. Your rhetorical powermoves have no effect on it. It doesn’t know they’re there.

It’s also important to remember that the novel pathogen is novel. We have never faced this particular threat before, which means that “long-lasting changes to important aspects of the human condition” are very much out there in the unmapped space of possible futures that will unfold from what’s happening right now.


There is actually a family of useful historical analogies that can help guide our response to the novel pathogen. That family of analogies is the very epidemiological models that are the subject of so much present debate.

But these models-as-analogies don’t function quite the same way as the analogies that even politically engaged historians make. They aren’t powermoves in either an intra-guild status contest or a current political fight — or at least, they’re not supposed to be such.

When used properly, epidemiological models are tools for exploring and reasoning about the space of possibilities by testing different input parameters. Like all good historical analogies the best ones are deeply rooted in a high-quality grasp of the details and minutia of historical precedent — in this case, R values, fatality rates of various flavors, test positivity rates, curves, and all the other parameters underlie each model.

But to take these models as straight-forward predictions, or even worse to mistake them for political interventions or to make them stakes in a tribal political fight, to abuse and misuse them.

It’s also wrong to do the opposite — to take your facility with creating forward-looking historical analogies that only really work as powermoves in a present political debate, and turn it to the task of actually modeling out the space of possibilities for the epidemic.

Let me put all this a different way:

The point of an epidemiological model is to act as a sandbox where we can test different input parameters and visuals what their effects might be on the next few weeks’ development of the pandemic. The point of a historical analogy is that it’s a powermove that’s meant to influence a present social dynamic.

So if you are trying to predict what will happen with the SARS-COV-2 pandemic based on a historical analogy with the 1918 Spanish Flu, or the Great Depression, or the Great Recession of 2008, you’ve gotten the above all twisted and are just going to end up playing yourself. This is not that, and your attempt to lump this with that is far more likely to confuse more than it is to clarify.

First, just look around at the vastly different outcomes that different countries are seeing with this pandemic, and then think about that the US of 1918 is a different country than the US of 2020. “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” goes the quote.

Second, and more importantly, SARS-COV-2 is a brand new virus from a totally different family than the 1918 influenza. Again, the qualities of this novel pathogen — both the qualties it has right now and the qualities it will develop as it moves in and sets up shop in the human population — will govern the course of this event. The virus gets a vote in all this, and we have no idea what it will do next.

A properly used epidemiological model takes full account of the virus’s agency — to plug in different parameters for R0 and IFR and see what happens is to account for the fact that the virus can behave in different ways in different places. The strength of modeling as an exercise is that it gives you a framework for exploring the question of “what if the virus does, or what if it does that?”. It does not predict what the virus will do next, because that is impossible.

I think historians, investors, and everyone else who’s trying to answer the question of “what’s next” in a systematic way can learn from epidemiologists: don’t predict, just model.

Predicting is saying what’s about to happen. Modeling is constructing a little device that lets you play with different inputs and explore what might happen if the virus + human system does this or that thing.

So don’t get honeypotted into lumping a past even with the present outbreak in order to make a prediction. Just stick to a plain old model, where you can fiddle with the inputs and watch the outputs change.

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Does anybody have a game plan for rare/refrigerated medication?

Hi everyone. I’m a long time lurker but a first time poster. In January I got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and “failed” a couple of the first line treatments, so I have recently started a super-expensive, refrigerated, injectable medication. I’m not new to the chronic pain game; I had an experience similar to the one Ubique has described a few months back. I got mono in college, had a mysterious post-viral syndrome, developed some auto-immune stuff, including pre-clinical RA. Luckily, and nobody has been able to explain this to me, a lot of the symptoms went away after about two years. My experiences with health are part of the reason I got into emergency preparedness. 

Anyway, I’ve known since 2015 that I was going to eventually get full-blown RA, and now it’s here. Last year my shoulders got gradually stiffer, then it quickly moved to my hands, feet, ankles, knees… you name it, it hurt. It was aggressive, and debilitating. Thankfully I was still mostly working from home, so I didn’t have to take too much time off. Now, thanks to a medicine with a $15k/month sticker price (I pay $5 a month due to my income) I am back to normal. It feels good, and once again I feel pretty lucky. 

I used to feel powerful when I was able to keep living despite chronic pain, through a combination of rationing my energy and just keeping going, but RA is another beast. I couldn’t move the fingers on my right hand for all of April. I couldn’t do most daily life tasks without this medicine. I am getting my PhD in biological engineering, and making decentralized, disaster-resilient biopharmaceutical manufacturing tools is something I’m hoping to eventually tackle in my research. But for now… I’m doing a lot of yoga to build more strength and flexibility. I’m learning all I can about the disease and what people did before treatments existed (which mostly sounds like suffering). I have some great people in my life who took care of me during my flares earlier this year and would do it again. I can’t buy myself an emergency stock of this stuff, but I’m looking into stocking up on the other medicines I take (an NSAID and a more traditional RA med that just didn’t do enough). Do you or your loved ones rely on refrigerated medicine? What do your plans look like? 

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Foodmageddon Youtube series

I’m not a big YouTube user but stumbled across this and thought it was cool:
Foodmageddon Playlist

The scenario is basically a peak oil related fast crash knocks us back to muscle power overnight and how this guy thinks he might try to feed his family on a small plot. Right up my alley! Regardless of the peak oil part this is hard core prepper-stuff.

I came in on episode 20, harvesting wheat. I dig how this guy tries to remake some old equipment, then experiments and revises his method.

Give it a look if deep prep are your thing and report back if you care to.

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What to do if you are lost while hiking?

You all probably have seen the recent news headline about a lost hiker that didn’t answer calls from Search and Rescue because he didn’t recognize the phone number. I take it he wasn’t desperately lost otherwise he would call for help if he has service and is receiving calls from unknown numbers right? Anyways, it got me thinking about what we should do if we are lost while hiking.

The number one thing you should always do when hiking is give an itinerary to loved ones at home and if you don’t keep by it let them know, otherwise you will have Search and Rescue out looking for you. Also, bring a small survival kit with you, even if it’s just a day hike. 

What are some actual things you should do though if you are out in the middle of the woods and have no idea where you are because you got distracted by the beautiful scenery?

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Scenario – Stranded, how do you use your vehicle to survive?

Here’s a hypothetical disaster scenario that we can think about and bounce ideas off of each other on what to do and not to do.

While driving on a road trip with your spouse and dog, your car gets stranded. Lets say you wreck and damage the car badly that it no longer runs. Battery is still charged and the electrical system of your car still works but the engine just won’t start from too much damage.

You have no cell service, are on a back road, and are not expecting anyone to drive by for the next few days. You are at least 30 miles away from where you can reliably find another driver.

Luckily you told your family at home your route and estimated time of arrival so they will be sending out a search party to find you soon, but who knows how long that can take?

You have two granola bars and a small Dasani bottle of water. You smack yourself on the head for not being better prepared, but too late now. 

What do you do to maximize the amount of time you can survive? How do you use the various components of your vehicle to aid in your survival, and rescue? Do you eat the dog? (just kidding, that’s not allowed)

Best of luck! I hope you survive this situation and are rescued. 

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New and looking for constructive criticism on my bug out plan

Hey, some recent life situations have made me have to rethink my entire bug out plan and I just want you guys to poke as many holes in my plan as you can so I can make it as airtight as possible. Any help is incredibly appreciated.

Some background: We recently moved my husband’s ailing parents in with us and then I was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. My family now consists of me, my husband, my toddler, and my in-laws. I am currently undergoing chemo; my father in law has dementia, mobility issues and parkinsons; my mother in law also has mobility issues and must be attached to an oxygen tank all day. Neither of them can get very far without a walker or motorized scooter. We are not going to be hiking miles to a destination and will most likely be sheltering at home. My home is ready for this and it is not what I’m worried about.

What I need help with: I like the tiered system that was discussed and have tweaked it to what I think may fit my needs. Level 1 bags will be what I need to get to a friend or relatives house. Each person’s bag will have a boo boo kit instead of a full FAK, a couple basic snacks, water, toothbrush, important documents, clothes, cash, charging cords and plugs, a multi tool, paracord, maps, personal medications/oxygen/dentures/diapers (for the toddler and in-laws), and will look more like a heavy EDC rather than a proper BOB. Level 2 will be for hotels and will include all level 1 plus a flat of water, security/defense items, some food, a real FAK, radio, can opener, eating utensils, paper plates and cups, and kid friendly distractions. Level 3 would be for shelters if we couldn’t get anywhere else and would be level 2 plus personal care and hygiene items, sleeping bags, power banks, ear plugs, eye masks, garbage bags and locks to keep our crap safe. These are not the full lists, as adding every tiny item would be really long, but it’s a decent representation.

I am aware that all of this requires a car to get to these destinations and that a car may experience situations that would make us have to abandon it. My car is ready with more food, water, ways to procure more water, ways to make that water potable, ways to make fire, ways to make shelter, ways to signal for help, ways to defend, kid distractions, and additional first aid supplies. The plan is that either my husband or I would use the car’s GHB to find help while the other sets up a camp and tends to the rest of the family. It’s not ideal, and would really suck, but we wouldn’t die. As I stated earlier, sheltering in place looks like my family’s best option and will most likely be what we do for as long as we safely can.

Please let me know what you think and if there is anything I should consider adding, removing, or if there is anything I hadn’t even thought of. If anyone has experience in bugging out with the elderly and disabled, I would appreciate any feedback or ideas you might have. I’m really not sure what to do to keep them safe if we were to have to go anywhere on foot. Should I keep a type of generator in my car so that we can power the portable oxygen tank? Should I bring their walkers or just craft a badass walking stick from zombie skulls and tears of the unicorns? I truly have no clue how to do this with them.

Thank you in advance for all your help!

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Avoiding a Halloween disaster

With Halloween right around the corner, I wanted to share some of the safety tips that I have used over the years. Maybe it’s a bit overkill, but I haven’t lost a child to Halloween yet. There are tips that all can benefit from, those with children and those who will just stay home.

Take your children trick or treating to known houses of people you trust. Check the sex offender registry and avoid those houses when trick or treating. Download the NSOPW app from your app store to see a map of houses to avoid wherever you go. Go out early and go home early. As the night goes on, people get drunk, it gets darker, and the older kids are out and about pulling tricks. Tell people which routes you will be walking and when you will be home. Inspect candy for any that have been tampered with by squeezing the packaging. If there isn’t a little bubble of air, it might have been opened. Look for any candy that your child may have a food allergy. One of the biggest dangers during Halloween is cars. If your three year old is running around in a black gorilla suit, it will be hard for a car to see them. Make safety fun for them by buying glow in the dark paint, using reflective tape, create a costume with LED lights, or a cheap option is buying packs of glow stick bracelets and necklaces from the dollar store. Make your children as visible as possible. If possible, avoid wearing masks that can obscure your vision. Drive slow and have your lights on as you are going around the next few days. Charge up and bring a headlight or flashlight when going around with your children. Print off your contact information and pin it to the inside of your child’s treat bag and costume. If they get lost, they can show that to someone to help reunite you. Before going out, make sure your and your child’s cell phones are completely charged and you have settings like Find My iPhone turned on. Take pictures of your children with and without their costumes on right before they go out, this can be used to show people or the police a description of your child if they get lost. Don’t make it scary for them and tell them it’s in case they get lost, just mention how you want it as memory. Do the same for your teenagers, no matter how much they complain and whine. Things happen unfortunately. If you are handing out candy, have some pepper spray close by the door in case you have some drunk teenagers come by that try and cause trouble and enter your house. Again, things happen, be prepared. Pull the jack o lanterns in when you are done handing out candy for the night and you turn your porch light off. Unless you want to pick up pumpkin guts from teenagers going around pumpkin smashing. Make sure any security cameras and home alarm systems are armed are working properly a couple days before and after Halloween. Do an extra security sweep around your property and house. Make sure all windows, doors, and padlocks are secured. People are just out and about looking for trouble. Bring a small first aid kit with you when trick or treating, running around in the dark can lead to some injuries. Have it nearby as well when carving pumpkins. If you are sick or think you have COVID, please do not go out trick or treating or hand out candy. There will be many more holidays you can enjoy, take it easy and watch a scary movie at home. Read More

Washing machine broken, might want to try something non-electric

What would you use to wring out clothes, that *does not hurt your hands*? The washing machine just broke. Maybe I can get it fixed, maybe not, but it occurs to me to have something for backup. My hands can’t really do the wringing on their own at all any more, although I have done it in the past. I see some hand wringers (mangles) online, and would like to avoid something that is going to break.

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What creative ways do you manage your trash when city services are falling behind

If your city is having waste removal problems, what creative ways are you managing your trash? I have adapted in many ways but since this community is very resourceful I would like to hear what others have done as well.

My city and surrounding counties has been having waste removal issues as well. Lawn debris has been stacking up on streets for months and garbage pickup is unpredictable, leading to garbage in the streets and an increase in the rat population. This is also a hazard if we had a hurricane which thankfully this year we didn’t. Our mayor decided to suspend recycling pickup so that workers can focus on the backlog of waste pickup complaints. On Nextdoor there is a huge amount of complaining and arguing about this which I find pointless. I have adapted in several ways, mostly through changing how I compost.

Because of the rats I tried several methods and found the ONLY method I found that doesn’t feed them is Bokashi composting which is fermenting the food first. I tried making the fermenting the compound myself and that experiment didn’t work but I know what I did wrong and could try again but got lazy and bought the granular mix online. I’m impressed at how the granular keeps the smell down and with a seal tight bucket you can’t even smell it in the house. 

On recycling I educated myself on what can and cannot be recycled so that I’m not adding garbage to the mix and keeping less in our recycle bin. We have drop of locations to take the recycling, you just have to time when to go and not find it full.

Since these very large rats can chew through any plastic no matter how thick I had to go on a shopping hunt for the old fashioned galvanized steal can for the rest of the garbage.

Regarding the lawn debris I need to explain that I live in a semi-tropical area where anything and everything grows prolifically and some of it you don’t want to compost in your yard to have it grow back. What I do is let it compost in the bins first until it is half its size, then spread it in our alleyway then mow it.  Our alleyways are all green and look more like hiking trails and already have everything growing there. Anything larger like limbs I keep for weekend backyard fires for a safer way of hanging out with friends.

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Going vegetarian after an event – would you?

After reading the thread How to desensitise myself to be able to kill and process and animal by Pizza Ninja, it got me thinking.

I was born and raised in a farming community and regularly helped my parents processing animals we had raised. I also did a lot of shooting and beating at drives. It was a big part of my life.

Spool on 30 years and I can now barely bring myself to kill a bug and I know I would really struggle to kill an animal, the exception possibly being if it were suffering and it was the humane thing to do.

To this end, I have turned away from meat production/procurement for after an event and have instead decided to become vegetarian. As it is I don’t eat a lot of meat, I would probably miss it, but I know the alternative would be hard for me to deal with.

I have, over the years found a number of plants that do well in my area and I save the seed from these year on year, I still trial new varieties of things, just in case I find one that does better. I have a number of perennial plants that I not only have in my garden, but I have planted out in the local area, a kind of guerilla gardening if you will. It’s insurance against any catastrophic loss in my own garden patch. 

I don’t intend going full vegan, as I want to keep some fowl for eggs and I do like milk in my tea and there is the whole B12 issue. 

So, has anyone else given this idea some thought? 


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Urban preps for the concrete jungle: what are your hacks?

NYC prepper here, wanting to open up some space for those of us who don’t have rural, off-grid locations or New Zealand villas in which to ride out ailments of the universe. What preps are you most proud of or what are some cool hacks you’ve figured out in dealing with small-space prepping? How have you adapted some of the standard prepping protocols for your own unique situation? Would be nice to have ongoing sharing and discussion.

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Realities of living underground

A lot of preppers fantasize about underground shelters, whether as an emergency-only bunker or a daily home that is both safe and more eco friendly. But it seems that, like most things, fantasy is different from reality.

Found this interesting post where a family moved into their dream underground home, but turned out not to like it. Here’s their reasons why:

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Preprogramming ham radios with emergencies in mind

I have two HT radios — the sum total of my radio equipment. One of these is in my BOB and the other in my house, principally for in-home use. I would like to preprogram these radios as much as possible in advance, so that in case of emergency or evacuation I don’t have to fiddle with programming them manually — particularly if I’m out of the area and am not familiar with the local stations.

As a baby ham without many connections in the community, I don’t have default stations, repeaters or organizations that I would be a part of in an emergency. I have a very minimal connection to my local ARES group — I’ve participated in some of their weekly checkins and I know the closest accessible repeater in my area, run by the local ham radio club, of which I’m not a member. That’s about it.

I was thinking to lookup and program a bunch of repeaters in the surrounding larger area, maybe as far as an hour’s drive away, so that a repeater may be reachable even if I’m out of my immediate area. But I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort since I hear that many registered repeaters are inactive for all intents and purposes. Is there something better I can do?

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Scenario run-through – Hurricane Ida, let’s learn from each other

The Earth has been doing some out of character (but not unexpected by climatologists) behavior in the last few years and is likely to continue. I that vein, I think it is a good idea to “test run” our preps for scenarios both likely to hit us and unlikely to occur in our area. My suggestion is to use a real and developing storm to learn from each other, both from the members that will possibly be impacted by this storm, from others that have experienced previous storms, and those that want to test their preps against a storm of this magnitude hitting them.

For anyone that is actually threatened by this storm, I hope you will chime in if time allows. I truly would like to learn from this and I hope the storm does change course and lose intensity.

Hurricane Ida’s current forecast puts it hitting the Louisiana Gulf coast near New Orleans as a category 3 on Sunday. However, they are saying there’s still plenty of time for this forecast to change. 

Scenario: You and your family have all of your current preps in place, but this storm is predicted to hit you in approx. 48 hours. For the sake of the scenario, this storm will cause a surge of water (waves, flash flood, dam break or something along those lines) at your location and for 200 miles around. However, it’s still not a certainty at this point and it could brush to the left or right of your location, they just don’t know yet. What is your plan of action? Remember, you only have your current preps to draw from. Oh, and hotels are already filling up outside the 200 mile area. 

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🏠 Home buying with preparedness in mind

Put yourself in my shoes. You’re currently renting, but eventually want to buy a home for the sake of financial and physical security? What traits do you look for in the home itself?

My general thinking is we’re heading towards some sort of climate apocalypse (and maybe with some broad state repression too). Not soon, but perhaps decades down the road, which is very pertinent to me as a twenty something.

Here’s some examples I can think of, but I’m very curious to hear what y’all have to recommend!

Roof conducive to solar panels. Ideally South-facing and in a shape that’s easy to cover in panels. A basement, for passive insulation during heatwaves, among other reasons I’m sure. A location with multiple exit routes, so like not an island (like Mercer Island in Seattle) or the tip of a peninsula (like Alki in Seattle). I figure a standalone house is ideal, rather than a condo or townhouse. Perhaps some minimum distance between the home and property line on all sides.  Elevation above sea level, and perhaps even relative elevation to avoid flooding.  Read More

♨️ How much cooking fuel for 2 weeks?

Having 2 weeks of food & water at home is a basic preparedness tenet.

If the grid is out while I’m going through these reserves, I’d need enough fuel for my Jetboil to boil all the water for my emergency food supply.

Based on my calculations, a single 450g canister ($10) would be enough to boil all the water I’d need for my partner and I to eat 14 days of Mountain House meals. Does that sound right to y’all? Have I made an error in my calculations?


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Screenshot 2021-08-15 3.03.12 PM 

A fevered planet & the rise of fungal pathogens

This information seemed relevant for other preppers to be aware of, and the scientific article linked is fairly new as it was published in April 2021:

A professor of mine recently brought up how in the past, fungal pathogens have not been major health concerns for humans the way viral and bacterial pathogens have been. She spoke about how this was due to the fact that the majority of (although certainly not all) fungal pathogens don’t thrive at the temperature the typical human body is at, because it is much too warm for them. Essentially: “For the vast majority of fungal species, the capacity to grow at elevated temperatures limits their ability to infect and establish in mammals. However, fungi can be trained to evolve thermotolerance” (Nnadi et al).


As the planet is essentially fevered and we see global warming (IPCC Report) the freedom we have previously enjoyed from the threat of fungal pathogens may be coming to an end as “gradual adaptation to increasing temperature caused by climate change could lead to an increase of organisms that can cause disease.” (Nnadi et al.) Warming the planet means that fungal pathogens are adapting to survive and thrive at higher temperatures, temperatures that are far closer to a human’s body temperature than we should be comfortable with. “In addition, climate change can increase the geographic range of pathogenic species or their vectors, leading to the emergence of diseases in areas where they have not previously been reported.” (Nnadi et al.)


This is a major cause for concern because “fungi can arguably pose equal or even greater threats [than viruses and bacteria]: There are no vaccines available yet for fungal pathogens, the arsenal of antifungal agents is extremely limited, and fungi can live saprotrophically, producing large quantities of infectious spores and do not require host-to-host contact to establish infection. Indeed, fungi seem to be uniquely capable of causing complete host extinction.” (Nnadi et al.)


 Figure from Climate change and the emergence of fungal pathogens (Nnandi et al.)

Official Citations of the Linked Sources:

 Nnadi NE, Carter DA (2021) Climate change and the emergence of fungal pathogens. PLOS Pathogens 17(4): e1009503.

 IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press. 

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Gamifying preparedness for children

I recently went on a binge and ordered a bunch of materials from FEMA via I plan to distribute the printed materials to loved ones, family, and neighbors. I’m also making moves toward my own CERT certification and I’m simultaneously refreshing First Aid training, so, I view these materials as a refresher to my own preparedness.

Among these materials, I ordered Ready 2 Help – a card game geared toward developing skills in younger ones when facing a crisis or disaster.

Of course, since this is geared toward children, they’re not going to be presented with the sort of gruesome, SHTF stuff that you or I might consider, but this will get that essential part of the brain thinking. And thinking is an important skill! I’ll spare you anything seeming like a hard sell and will just push on with the images so you can decide for yourself. Links after the break.

Ready 2 Help Playing Card Deck

Players are presented with an EMERGENCY scenario.

Each player responds by throwing appropriate skill cards at the scenario. There are 5 types of skills cards (4 shown here). Each is color coded to help players learn what skills are appropriate to the scenario.

Game play also includes Wild Cards and Work Together Cards to enhance game play and build cooperation.

Oh, and there are a lot of EMERGENCY (scenario) cards.

FEMA also produces a companion book to the card game.


You can find Ready 2 Help on’s order page:


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