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What a cat burglar learned about preparedness

In the early 1970’s in North Vancouver BC, the Vancouver Province newspaper published an edition with a special section that was dedicated to Bruce, a local man who was a well known and an accomplished martial artist.

Bruce lived on the fifth storey of a luxury apartment building.

One night Bruce awoke to unfamiliar sounds in his living room. He grabbed his training katana (sword) which was made of bamboo.

There was no need for Bruce to get dressed because he slept in his Gi (martial artist uniform).

Bruce peered into the living room and discovered a cat burglar on his knees rifling through the entertainment center cabinet.

Bruce sprang into action. The cat burglar, who was unaware that anyone was up, startled so badly at the sound of Bruce’s kiyup (loud yell) and the sight of a man in full martial arts dress swinging a bamboo sword down on him, that he soiled himself. His bowel and bladder both had the good sense to get out of there.

Bruce’s movements were rapid. Smack! Smack, smack, smack! The blows were meant to hurt, but not knock out the burglar.

Bruce told the burglar not to move while he exchanged his training katana for one of his actual Samurai swords. He now held that sword over the burglar.

There was a telephone on the entertainment center cabinet. 

“Call the police and tell them what you have done and for them to come and get you,” Bruce ordered the burglar.

There was no argument from the burglar. He wanted out of that apartment. So he called the local police station (this was in pre 911 days). The conversation went something like this:

Burglar: “I’m at ____________. I tried to rob the place. There’s a man with a sword standing over me. He told me to call you. Please come and get me!”

Police: “Yeah, right buddy. Go sleep it off.” Click. That was the sound of the phone hanging up.

Burglar to Bruce: “They hung up on me!”

Bruce: Smack. “Call them back.”

Again, the terrified cat burglar called the police station.

Burglar: “I’m not drunk. Please pick me up.”

Police: “Stop calling here or we’ll charge you for making crank calls to us.”

Click. Smack.

The cat burglar didn’t wait for Bruce to tell him. He dialed the police station again.

Burglar: “Please, come and arrest me. This isn’t a crank call.”

By now the cat burglar was openly weeping into the phone. He wanted out of that apartment and away from Bruce, who was standing over him like a big avenging white clad statue. He also wanted to get away from the very sharp and shiny Samurai sword held by the angry statue. He had seen what he could do with the wooden sword. He didn’t want to find out what he could do with the metal one now in his hands.

This time, the policeman who answered was fed up with the burglar’s calls. The police traced the call despite being given the address because they were convinced it was a crank call.

An officer arrived and knocked on the door.

“Come in.” Bruce’s girlfriend, who had remained out of sight in the bedroom, opened the door.

The officer entered a bizarre scene in a nicely appointed suite that smelled like a toilet due to the burglar who was on his knees and sobbing into an entertainment center while a man in a white gi stood over him with a big sword.

The hapless cat burglar was arrested. Finally.

I wonder if he was scared straight by his encounter with Bruce?

Bruce took preparedness to a whole other level.

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6

Home invasion

*Warning – the following scenario deals with scenes of extreme violence. If you are sensitive to such scenes, please do not read further. Thank you.*

Come with me for a moment. There. Stand right there. Now look and observe the scene in front of you:

It’s 4:00 p.m. on a quiet Sunday afternoon and you are lounging in your favorite chair, feet up, and softly snoring.

Both children are in their rooms upstairs. The oldest, your fourteen year old daughter, is listening to music on her headphones and sketching. Your ten year old son is immersed in his gaming world.

The smell and sounds of this evening’s dinner preparation mingle with the late afternoon rays of sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window.

The family German Shepherd is stretched out on his side in the kitchen, his space at this evening’s dinner table reserved. His soft snoring blends with yours in a counter point rhythm.

It is a typical lazy Sunday afternoon at home in a quiet family-oriented neighborhood.

Suddenly, the front door jamb and door are breached, while the back door is opened at the same time and in the same way.

Two men enter through each door. You now have four unmasked men in your home. They have not concealed their identity and they have just invaded your home with the full knowledge that you and your family were at home.

Your dog jumps to his feet and runs toward the two men in the kitchen. One of the men grabs your dog by his front legs and splits his chest cavity as he lunges to attack him. He falls dead.

In the living room, you awaken to the sound of the breached front door.

Your drowsiness and weak core muscles prevent you from rapidly rising to deal with the intruders. It happens so fast that you can’t react quick enough to draw your side arm. You are further subdued with a knife to your throat while your hands are zip tied with both hands in front of your body. You are gagged and thrown onto the sofa.

Your wife is dragged from the kitchen into the living room and thrown onto a chair behind you. As she passes by, you can see that she is also zip tied, gagged and her head is bleeding. You are unable to communicate with her non-verbally, nor her with you, because you are no longer able to see each other.

Three of the men go upstairs to your children’s rooms while one remains behind to watch you and your wife. 

The children have not reacted because they were both on noise cancelling headphones at the time of the invasion. They never heard or saw the three men coming until they were each attacked.

You ten year old son dies first, zip tied, gagged and his jugular vein cut.

Your fourteen year old daughter doesn’t die immediately. She is gagged and gang raped by the three men. Her face is almost unrecognizable from the beating they have inflicted upon her. After they decide that they have had enough, she dies the same way as her brother did, zip tied, gagged and jugular vein slashed.

Then the three men come downstairs and join the fourth man who is watching you and your wife. You don’t see your children with them.

They have your wallet and your wife’s purse, both of which were taken from your bedroom upstairs. Your hands were deliberately zip tied in front of your body so that you could write down your passwords for them. Within minutes they have emptied your bank accounts and all your available credit.

Your wife is then dragged upstairs where she meets the same fate as your daughter did. As she is moved to the master bedroom, your wife desperately looks toward your children’s rooms, only to see glimpses of their bloodied bodies as she is dragged past each room.

When they have finished beating and raping your wife, and ensured that your wife and two children are dead, the three men descend the stairs to kill you.

As you bleed out, you think, “they never said one word, never fired a shot.”

You realize that no one saw anything because of the privacy hedges around your home. You think of your wife and children.

You think “I should have”…then you lose consciousness and die.

Now, let’s rewind the scene and take a step back.

What could have been done to prevent or change the outcome of this scene?

Were there things that the family could have done once the invasion began?

 

   

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How to prep for new and emerging diseases

I just read a Canadian article in today’s news that got me thinking about new and emerging diseases and what we will need to learn or have in our preps in order to prepare for them.

Here’s the article I read today. It appears to be a new disease, so far more than 40 cases have been reported in the province of New Brunswick, which is situated on the Atlantic coast.

Quote from linked article begins: In an internal memo obtained by Radio-Canada, sent on March 5 by the office of the chief medical officer of health to the New Brunswick Medical Society and to associations of doctors and nurses, the department notes the existence of a cluster of 42 cases of a progressive neurological syndrome of unknown origin. End Quote

This internal memo was dated March 5, 2021. When were they planning on telling the public?

Read the article carefully. It is “not genetic and could be contracted from food, water or air.” There is concern that this could be a new disease.

New Brunswick monitoring 40+ cases of unknown neurological disease

This news reminded me of a January 2021 article which was part of a BBC News series called “Stopping the Next One” which refers to emerging infectious disease.

This link is to the BBC article from the series BBC Nipah Virus

New and emergent diseases are going to impact how we prep.

These infectious diseases will also impact travel and the work place as Covid-19 did. They could also impact what we eat, where we live, how we live and on a much larger scale our economies and the global economy.

Is it travel, climate or both causing these diseases to emerge?

How do we prep for this kind of scenario?

This is a level of prepping that will require an understanding and respect for how infectious disease spreads.

The stakes are very high considering the death rate for Nipah Virus, or the long term effects of the neurological disease described in the New Brunswick article.

I have seen too many people disregard health protocols during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

This is nothing new so it shouldn’t surprise any of us. Think back to the HIV/Aids epidemic. How many people played Russian roulette with their own life or someone else’s life instead of doing what they were told to prevent the spread of a virus that was killing people?

If we experience more of these kinds of events, then the message that these are deadly, infectious diseases needs to get hammered home. If people in remote villages in Africa can be taught the protocols for Ebola, what on Earth is wrong with us? How can we set ourselves up to die from stupidity?

Does prepping now include evasive techniques for protection against people who are not taking precautions to spread disease? 

The New Brunswick article stated the neurological disease could be contracted from food, water or air. How do we prep for that? Is livestock going to become a distant memory in the face of more diseases originating from this source?

Bats may be the transmitters in the case of Nipah and other viruses, but they are also an important part of how insect populations are controlled, including insects that spread disease.

How do we get ahead of the curve on this scenario?

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Good first-aid kits make good neighbors

The other day I had an experience that made me feel great about building an Individual First-Aid Kit last year. That morning, my 76-year-old neighbor pulled up and told me he wanted help removing an old bathtub. I said sure and didn’t think much more about it.

That afternoon, my wife runs into my office and tells me his wife called, he had hurt himself and needed help. I grabbed my IFAK on my bug out bag and ran next door.

He had fallen into the old cast-iron tub and his forearm was bleeding profusely (he takes blood thinners). He had cut off a big section of the tub, so a slab of iron was in the floor between me and him in this tiny bathroom.

It took me a minute to think about how to go about this. I grabbed some gauze from the IFAK, wrapped his arm, moved the iron out of the way, and his wife and I pulled him out of the tub. He was still bleeding through the gauze a bit so I put an Israeli bandage over it and told his wife to remove it every so often and check on it.

Anyway, despite not really having a clue about what I was doing (medic training is near the top of the list when the pandemic is over) and my IFAK being an overstuffed mess (also on the to-do list), I was able to help my neighbor out. We often like to say that skills matter more than tools, but sometimes just having the tools makes the difference.

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Antibiotic resistance: Prepping for a world without effective antibiotics

My Background: I have an undergraduate degree in Biology and Society with a concentration in Infectious Disease Biology and I worked as a researcher in a microbiology lab focusing on Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera. I’m a fellow of the Cornell Institute for Host-Microbe Interactions and Disease. I am currently a COVID-19 contact tracer and part of the COVID-19 vaccine effort in my hometown. I will be beginning my PhD in the emerging infectious disease field in August.

 

This thread arose as a continuation of a post I made in the ‘How to prep for new and emerging diseases’ thread. Here is an excerpt from my original post about why antibiotic resistance is something we should be concerned about: “We must focus on what we can truly prepare for. A concern I have that should be on preppers radars is how  bacteria pick up new genetic material (here’s a link explaining the process) which can confer antibiotic resistance to bacterial species. An estimated two million people are infected with antibiotic resistant infections annually in the United States alone. The World Health Organization has expressed concerns that the world is running out of effective antibiotics and this could present serious challenges to the standards of health we currently have in many countries. I stumbled upon an edition of The Economist’s July 2019 “The World If” series. Basically, it’s a fictional take on what happens if [insert event here]. This one focused on what would happen if we no longer had effective antibiotics. I stress that this is a link to FICTION (and everything else I’ve linked is to non-fiction), but it is chilling to read the authors take on what the world may look like with no access or severely reduced access to effective antibiotics. It definitely got me thinking about how and why to prep for a future without antibiotics.”

 

Legitimacy/Transparency: Most links are peer-reviewed publications from journals, universities, or from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the United Nations. Feel free to not take my word for it and read the linked publications!

 

Reasons a Future Without Effective Antibiotics Is a Possibility: The problem is not so much a lack of supply of currently approved antibiotics, but the fact that current antibiotics are becoming obsolete due to overuse and we currently have a lack of incentives for companies to do research that brings new antimicrobials to market. Furthermore, the cost of bringing new antibiotics to market is a barrier and the profitability of antibiotics is lower than other drugs. Cancer drugs took precedence over bringing antibiotics to market, and this will likely come back to bite us: the United Nations antimicrobial resistance group estimates that 10 million drug-resistant related disease deaths will occur annually by 2050 if no action is taken to shift our current trajectory, which is “more than the number of people who currently die of cancer worldwide every year”. We have also stagnated on introducing new antibiotics to the market, as “the last entirely original class of antibiotic was discovered in the late 1980’s.” If this doesn’t shift soon it is not far-fetched to say we may end up in a world in the not-to -distant future with no access to effective antibiotics (potentially returning us to the ‘Pre-Antibiotic Age’). Medical care before antibiotics were first discovered and used, looked like lots of now-preventable deaths from infection, see this article from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly for more information.

 

What Antibiotic Resistance Is: Antibiotic resistance naturally develops after use of an antibiotic  treatment in a population over time (and this is why there are so many types of antibiotics with different targets that exist in the first place) however we have accelerated the rate of resistance development to the antibiotics we have due to overuse. Many anti-microbial compounds were  isolated from bacterial species in our soil which live in close contact with each other, thus necessitating the development of something deadly with which to kill off their competition: antibiotics. The caveat being the antibiotic is only effective if it didn’t also kill off the bacterial species producing it. It makes sense then that “antibiotic resistance genes in soil are tightly linked to specific bacteria, suggesting little sharing between species, in infectious bacteria though, more frequent sharing of genes creates antibiotic-resistance portfolios that differ greatly among related bacteria.”

 

Current Prepping (Gathering Information, Pushing for Changes): Preparing now could look like questioning the trend of over-prescribing of antibiotics, encouraging better infection control practices in hospitals and in agriculture so antibiotic use could be avoided and encouraging lab testing that confirms an illness is treatable with antibiotics (if it’s not bacterial in nature, it should not be treated with antibiotics and even then different antibiotics are used for different infections). Talking about it and bringing awareness is also important, which is what I’m trying to do with this thread-put lots of information in the same place where it’s easily accessed. The Prepared had an article about the WHO’s 2019 Antibiotic Awareness Week with suggestions for reducing risk of infection so you don’t need antibiotics in the first place which is worth checking out. This article suggests how government entities could set us up for success in bringing new antibiotics to market. The authors wisely point out that: “Even a limited return to the pre-antibiotic age is a fate best avoided. It need not happen.” As with most emerging infectious disease issues, avoiding continuing on our current trajectory requires changes to our behavior and that of our communities, a difficult undertaking. A return to a pre-antibiotic age certainly need not happen, but it might anyway.

 

Five Major Sources of Bacterial Pathogens:

1.     Water

2.     Food

3.     Arthropods (like ticks)

4.     Wounds (bites, wounds contaminated with debris, surgeries that introduce foreign bodies etc.)

5.     Other Humans (respiratory/sexually-transmitted/enteric/etc.)

 

Potential Non-Antibiotic ‘Solutions’ (none of which are perfect):

1.     Vaccines: Often toxoid vaccines are used to prevent bacterial disease, the DTaP or diptheria & tetanus vaccine is a toxoid vaccine, it also contains subunits of pertussis. We can’t vaccinate for everything however. Vaccines are also not a magic-bullet. You can still get infected after being vaccinated, usually vaccines just lessen the severity and duration of the potential infection.

2.     Bacteriophage Cocktail Therapies: Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacterial species. A bacteriophage cocktail is a clinical treatment that can theoretically be tailored to the exact infection (just takes money, lots of research and time, which can be in short supply…always) and thus far in the US this therapy has only been used in compassionate use cases as it is experimental. Phage therapy is fascinating but we still have a long way to go before it’s mainstream and effective. Bacteriophages have been described as bacteria’s natural predator, however interestingly enough, in some cases bacterial species can pick up antibiotic resistance genes from phages. 

 

How Life Could Change in a World With No Effective Antibiotics:

1.     Would we wear masks to protect ourselves from bacterial respiratory infections due to the health stakes of getting such an illness without access to effective antibiotics? Without antibiotics (and even now, with antibiotics, in the case of multi-drug or total-drug resistant tuberculosis) these infections could cause high mortality rates. The CDC estimated in 2018 that about 23% of the global population was infected with tuberculosis.

 

2.     Without effective antibiotics I doubt elective surgeries like knee and hip replacements (which we often use prophylactic antibiotics for), or even Cesarean sections would be common (or advisable) because of the potential for introducing infection that couldn’t be treated. This could impact quality of life for many people. Would we still remove our ‘wisdom’ teeth?

 

3.     Cleaning wounds regardless of severity, and caring for them in a way that minimizes infection risk would likely be more of a major concern than it already is if we didn’t have effective antibiotics available.

 

4.     There would likely be deep concerns about food safety and inspection processes and cooking to safe temperatures. I could see stricter requirements being enforced by food safety and inspection entities in order to quell fear about concerns over food being contaminated through irrigated water, poor packaging or unclean processing equipment. This publication on the Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illness suggests that annually, one in six Americans will experience a food borne illness. Not all food borne illnesses are deadly or require treatment with antibiotics. Not all food borne illnesses are bacterial in nature either, but some of note are including: Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Listeria.

 

5.     Tick checks, proper clothing and anti-tick products could be vital depending on where you live and what bacterial pathogens are endemic in the tick populations near you. Here is a list of tick-borne disease from the CDC. Again, not all diseases carried by ticks are bacterial in nature, but enough are to cause concern such as: the causative agents of Lyme disease, multiple spotted fevers and tularemia .

 

6.     Those without access to clean drinking water could suffer even more without access to effective antibiotics. Antibiotics are not considered a life-saving treatment for diseases like cholera, but antimicrobial resistance has developing in this water-borne pathogen which is concerning because without antibiotic treatment the “illness will persist for about twice as long, lengthening the hospital stay and increasing the resources used”. No effective antibiotics could be deadly in a real-world cholera epidemic scenario as  even “antibiotic resistance means higher costs, a greater need for supplies and more deaths.” For some reason the document these two quotes are from won’t link-if you want to look it up I found this information in a WHO publication titled  “Antimicrobial resistance in shigellosis, cholera and campylobacteriosis” by Sack, Lyke, McLaughlin and Suwanvanichchkij. 

 

7.     Any bacterial disease impacting humans, be it: Lyme, syphilis, cholera, E. coli, MRSA, diptheria, tuberculosis, Y. pestis (plague) or listeria would carry far higher risks of mortality and disability without effective antibiotics.

 How would consider prepping for a world in which there are no effective antibiotics?

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“It can’t happen to me” – A tale of two FEMA studies, statistics and Normalcy Bias

My notes from the early hours this morning:

2012 FEMA study – Almost 1/2 of all Americans don’t believe that a disaster will hurt their community.

2015 FEMA study – Less than 1/2 of American households had an Emergency Preparedness plan or discussed one with their family.

I remember thinking “denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, honey.”

But denial is also not normalcy bias. Normalcy bias aka Ostrich Effect is a cognitive bias that occurs when people facing imminent disaster are warned and either disbelieve the warning or minimize the threat.

We need to know about and factor in denial and normalcy bias into our preparedness, for ourselves and family members.

The time it takes to process denial and normalcy bias can put people in grave danger. I believe part of the solution is to be aware of the potential for a problem and formulate how you will deal with it before it happens.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalcy_bias#:~:text=Normalcy%20bias%2C%20or%20normality%20bias,and%20its%20potential%20adverse%20effects.

Begin Quote

The normalcy bias may be caused in part by the way the brain processes new data. Research suggests that even when the brain is calm, it takes 8–10 seconds to process new information. Stress slows the process, and when the brain cannot find an acceptable response to a situation, it fixates on a single and sometimes default solution that may or may not be correct. An evolutionary reason for this response could be that paralysis gives an animal a better chance of surviving an attack and predators are less likely to see prey that is not moving.”[10]

Effects

About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias in disasters.[3] Normalcy bias has been described as “one of the most dangerous biases we have”. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans. Even when all these things are in place, individuals with a normalcy bias often refuse to leave their homes.[17][better source needed]”

Normalcy bias can cause people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, people think that they will be safe even though information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reasons to believe there is a risk. The normalcy bias creates a cognitive dissonance that people then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the danger. The possibility that some people may refuse to evacuate causes significant problems in disaster planning.[18]

End Quote

https://community.fema.gov/story/2020-NHS-Data-Digest-Summary-Results What the data indicates:

Begin quote:

The percentage of the adult population that have no intent to prepare (stage 1) has decreased substantially since 2013 (21% in 2013 to 9% in 2020).The percentage of the adult population that is not prepared but understands the importance of preparing and intends to do so within the next year (stages 2 and 3) has increased by 12 percentage points since 2013 (28% in 2013 to 40% in 2020) supporting the notion that there is an increased social awareness of the importance of preparing.”

“The percentage of the population that perceives themselves as prepared (stages 4 and 5) increased only slightly from 2013 (49% in 2013 to 51% in 2020), implying that the rate at which the adult population becomes prepared or maintains preparedness has stalled over the years, despite any year to year (e.g., 2020 versus 2019) fluctuations. This suggests a critical need to encourage, guide, and assist individuals and communities progress from intent-to-prepare to engagement in preparedness action and activities.”

And from same data:

“Overall, the estimated number of preparedness actions taken has increased from 2019.

68% of NHS respondents have taken 3 or more of the 6 basic preparedness actions; an increase of 6% from 2019.

For the second year in a row, the percentage of people reporting four of the six basic actions increased.

The number of people who indicated that they talked to others about getting prepared increased from 45% to 48%.

The number of people who indicated they participated in an emergency drill increased from 49% to 56%.”

NHS data shows that, when individuals indicate that they’ve taken one preparedness action, we can expect that they will take additional preparedness actions.

NHS data shows that preparedness actions can vary by stage of preparedness, hazard areas, and even demographics. As such, customizing preparedness messaging based on these factors will likely result in more effective messaging.

End Quote    https://www.aicpa.org/press/pressreleases/2020/few-americans-are-prepared-for-natural-disaster.html#:~:text=The%20good%20news%20is%20nearly,in%20a%20safe%20place%20(31

Begin Quote

The good news is nearly three-quarters of Americans (73 percent) have taken at least one step to prepare for a natural disaster, most commonly assembling a disaster supplies kit (34 percent), creating an evacuation plan (32 percent), or backing up and storing personal medical and financial records in a safe place (31 percent). The bad news is only 15 percent have created a disaster plan to protect their finances. And concerningly, a little more than a quarter of Americans (27 percent) have not taken any steps at all to prepare for a natural disaster.

Steps Americans Have Taken to Prepare for Natural Disaster

34% Assembled a disaster supplies kit (first-aid kit, food, water, tools, etc.)

32% Created an evacuation plan

31% Backed up & stored personal, medical & financial records in a safe,          accessible place

27% Evaluated insurance needs to assure adequate coverage

26% Taken an inventory of assets & possessions for insurance purposes

24% Contributed to an emergency saving account

19% Created or updated an estate plan and/or will

19% Purchased additional insurance (e.g., flood insurance, hurricane          insurance, etc.)

15% Created a disaster plan to protect finances

2%  Other

27% I have not taken any steps to prepare for a natural disaster

End Quote

After I finished wading through the articles, I wondered how can we help others understand the need for emergency preparedness without jeopardizing our own preparedness? Is there a way to do improve these numbers?

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Does your prepping include a worst case scenario and if so, how?

This isn’t about worst case scenario bias in which people overreact to small deviations from normalcy and treat those incidents as signs of impending catastrophe.

This is about worst case scenario. No bias. It is about how our concept of worst case scenario can change because of life events and life cycles.

Yesterday, while working on the “Prepping around the world – how other cultures use their natural resources” thread, I realized the Dutch are doing everything possible to stay ahead of their worst case scenario which is being overtaken by rising sea levels.

One definition of scenario is a suggested sequence or development of events. Add “worst case” and the phrase means the worst possible sequence or development of events.

My preparedness is spread over the usual areas of disaster, but the idea of worst case scenario is one I hadn’t considered before.

I wondered, “Am I preparing for my worst case scenario and if so, what is it? What would be the worst case scenario for me?”

After sleeping on it, I still feel like I have never considered that issue, not consciously at least. My worst case scenario. What does that mean to me?

We lost our family farm to a fire. At the time I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen. Then that concept shifted when other crises happened as my life unfolded.

My current geographic area could experience flash flooding, fires, power outages, blizzards, killing cold or any number of natural or man-made disasters. Yet none of them, including the pandemic happening now doesn’t feel like my worst case scenario. A problem, yes. My worst case, no.

Is it because I have prepared well, or is it because I have already been to the brink of my worst case scenario and the pandemic isn’t it for me? Or, could it be a bit of both?
 
Some people prepare to avoid discomfort or starvation. The aspects of preparedness that are foremost and sharpest in my mind are protecting myself against violence and crime.

It is borne of my history and experience. When your life hangs in the balance between the hope of rescue and another day of torture, between escaping while drugged and injured or dying where you were left, to be finished off later, or between the choice of submission to a blade over death, you choose survival every time if you want to live. 

At a baseline level, my focus is always on avoiding two-legged danger and staying alive. It is impossible to ignore and governs every aspect of how I live and prepare.

When I planned the changes to my garden, I factored site lines for the security cameras and construction methods to ensure that no one can hide behind the planters. I have ensured that the design is free of any elements or objects that could be used against me or employed as a tool to break in to my home.

When I bring in prep items, I have a transfer method that keeps them private from any prying eyes. Labels are removed from any shipments and shredded. There is nothing that would distinguish me as a prepper either in my garbage or recycling. 

Inside my home, anything that can be used to restrain or injure me is hidden away out of sight and easy access. You won’t find a knife block in my home. My knives are convenient for me to access, but out of sight. There are items throughout my home that can be deployed as improvised weapons if needed.

Every time I am in a vehicle my doors are locked. I scan each time I enter and exit my vehicle. I scan parking lots and vehicles around me. No one exits my vehicle in a parking lot until I give the go ahead to leave the vehicle.

The list goes on. I live and prep with every instinct and scrap of experience I have garnered. 

I don’t like the consequences of being vulnerable so there is no off switch for me. I wasn’t born to prep. I was made to prep.
 
The safety and security aspect of preparedness is where I become like the Dutch mentioned above.

I am doing everything possible to stay ahead of time, the enemy that steals physical strength, and chance, the variable that can trigger a dangerous event.

Time and chance happen to us all. I know my strength now, in this moment, and I can’t picture a future self where I am decrepit and vulnerable. Now my preparedness factors ageing and it’s associated imagined issues, as much as I loathe doing it. 

There are degrees of extremity within a particular worst case scenario and I have already experienced a broad range of severity that is possible for mine. 

I have not however, experienced the worst case scenario, which for me is, not to survive because I didn’t crawl until I could get up, didn’t keep going until I found a way out. The worst case scenario for me, regardless of the disaster, is to just give up and not survive.

The idea of the worst case scenario is different for each of us. Have you ever considered what your worst case scenario is? If so, how has it affected the way you prep? 

Has your worst case scenario changed as your life has unfolded? If so, has it also changed the way you prep?

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How to build community before and after a crisis

I woke up this morning thinking about my great-grandmother. She was a feisty woman, slight of physical stature and an Amazon warrior in attitude. She was a crack shot, could butcher a hog and negotiate with a Sioux war party, among many other attributes on her pioneers’ prairie resume.

It could be why my great-grandfather kept leaving their homestead to travel far across the prairies to another province breed his prize Clydesdale stallion and train horses. He didn’t have to worry about leaving her alone. Anyone who ran afoul of her would quickly beat a hasty retreat.

She was busy with six children, the homestead, and acting as the area’s only midwife. If you were a labouring woman in trouble, you knew you were in good hands when she launched herself through your doorway.

She was 92 when her last call for help came on a cold, winter night. She travelled by horse team and then delivered a baby boy. She died at 104, still vital and feisty to the end.

Part of the legacy she left were the children she helped enter this world. She had a role in the community, as did my great-grandfather.

People came together and created communities. The idea of surviving or thriving in isolation was unthinkable. One person can’t do everything. Even if one could, who would want to? It would be incredibly difficult and exhausting.

Sometimes, our need for community can come in the form of making pre-arrangements for our horses with other horse owners in case of disaster.

Community can be created online, and assistance provided during a disaster, provided that form of communication is still viable.

Community is borne out of necessity, defined by proximity and made viable by the respective skills and abilities of its members, as it has been through the ages.

How do we build community now as part of our prepping? 

What if electronic communication was inaccessible. How would we build community under those conditions?

If we were displaced out of our existing community, how do we go about building community in a new environment under disaster conditions?

Is community about compatibility or mutual need?

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And when that ammo runs out?

I notice that new laws are coming in from some….. and more regulations on the books for restricting or proposed eliminating the 2nd amendment…… which would restrict supplies.

Currently I see that primers are in very short supply in some places and slowly and surely some are going to make it as difficult as possible in the future to obtain crucial items.

So what would you do as the ammo runs out? Reloading is an option….. but where will you get that Sulfur,, Shot, KNO3…. etc…..or is your bolt hole full enough to last an extended period?

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Armchair quarterback time: War zone in a condo

https://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/surveillance-video-shows-brawls-vandalism-inside-beleaguered-saskatoon-condo-building-1.5360878This post is about a different type of crisis and disaster. From a prepping perspective, this is the deterioration that becomes the crisis.

I wish I could tell you that the videos and related stories were part of a movie set and plot, but they are not.

First the news link which is 4 days old.

https://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/surveillance-video-shows-brawls-vandalism-inside-beleaguered-saskatoon-condo-building-1.5360878

To better understand the back story, watch both videos and also read the first related story on that news page titled “Living in a war zone….”

If you look at the footage of the exterior of the condo building, I can see how someone would have purchased a condo there 12 years ago, as was the case for Geoff Wilkie who was interviewed in the related article “Living in a war zone…”

The panned shot of the neighborhood in one of the videos shows a fairly clean area and there appears to be a church on the corner. It looks like a glimpse of a neighborhood in a typical small prairie city, who like Dog River in the fictional tv program Corner Gas, doesn’t appear to have a whole lot going on.

There is always the risk of the neighborhood deteriorating into unsafe living conditions. Regardless of whether we live in a condo or a detached home, or whether we own or rent, we all face the same risk of change to our neighborhoods and communities.

I have rented apartments and houses, and I have owned homes, so this is not to slam renters. I relate what I have witnessed first hand in urban and rural areas and after living in several provinces.

Absentee landlords are a big problem because they have no interest in the community, other than through renting their house(s) and the profits they make. 

There are landlords with multiple rental properties who barely maintain them and who rent properties which are outright fire traps due to old and faulty wiring. 

The problem is further compounded by the “guarantee of rent” provided through govt.-sponsored income assistance. The landlord no longer has to worry that his tenant(s) will lose a job or be laid off. The rent is paid in full every month like clockwork by the income assistance program and not the tenant.

There are those tenant(s) who are responsible people or parents and who require this assistance through no fault of their own. For many of them, it is a temporary situation. They are a boon to the community.

Unfortunately, there are others in these programs who have no desire to better themselves or at the least attempt to parent their children more responsibly instead of being preoccupied with their drugs of choice.

Their children roam the streets and start packing up with older youth who are gang or “wannabe” gang members. The crime goes up and before you know it, you have a war zone situation like the people in that condo.

I have owned a home in a neighborhood where there was a nice mix of people – young, old, single working and couples with and without children. 

One day, I got off the bus and began my usual walk home. I glanced over and saw several young men that either should have been in school or working, who instead were hanging out in the front a house. This house was located several blocks away from where I lived.

After I saw them, I noted the deterioration on that first block. I hadn’t really noticed before, until I saw the loitering and attitude of the young men gathered at that one home. 

I paid attention on subsequent walks to and from the bus stop and noted the lack of work traffic from that block in the morning. I also noted the party atmosphere that had set into certain homes in the first block in the evenings.

I keep my house in ready to sell condition. The for sale sign went up and it sold before it could appear on the MLS listings. I was lucky to have noticed the change and got out before others began the stampede out of the neighborhood.

For the people in the above condo story, what could they have done differently? To me, it looks like they waited way too long. 

Fighting a condo board to change things when you already have let the raging bull into the barn is pointless. That condo building was supposed to be a owner occupied building only, no rentals. Rentals in a condo building and owners with multiple units don’t always bode well. As soon as the rentals started, Mr Wilkie should have baled. 

How would you know the difference between “a bit of trouble” happening in your neighborhood and “wait a minute, this is turning into SHTF and it’s time to get out of Dodge and find a new home?”

Do you think you would be able to get out fast enough if all your other neighbors have come to the same realization?

Are there any ways to avoid or reduce the risk of buying or renting in a problem neighborhood? 

What if, for some reason, you were unable to get out and find a new place to live? How would you survive in such a situation as portrayed in the video above?

I pay attention. Keep my home ready to sell. Review the MLS and private sales so I have a finger on the pulse of the real estate market at all times.

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Fire and ice – Lessons learned through a wildfire evacuation and an epic ice storm

In less than six months we’ve had both.  It clarified a lot of questions about how to prepare for what scenario.  Last summer we were involved in a wildfire evacuation.  Fortunately we had plenty of time to pack (two people, two horses, a dog and a cat) before we got the call to leave, and we packed very well, I think.  I drew up an inventory of what we need to have “staged” in the event of another wildfire evacuation, but I need to seriously tweak that list before the coming fire season. 

They attempted to funnel virtually an entire large county onto two lane roads to go…somewhere. We burned a half tank of gas in the truck, idling at ONE stoplight.  Our Cars never go lower than half tank, and the truck has two tanks.  But we should have taken another can of gas because of the insane traffic jams.  And where to go?  To the West, mountains on fire, to the east, mountains on fire, north and south, very hard to know where to go with horses.  We stayed with friends who could have been called to evacuate themselves.  Fortunately we weren’t directly affected by the fire.  Many others lost everything when they were told to evacuate when the flames were licking at their doors.

The evacuation was historic, it’s never happened here before.  I think the authorities made horrible decisions.  The cops were racing up and down the jammed road, but there wasn’t a single cruiser directing traffic at the clogged stoplight.

Looting was rampant during the evacuation. A lot of people just decided to make a stand. We came home days before the all clear. Everything pointed to some unprecedented idiocy among the authorities.

In February we had an epic ice storm (Oregon, not Texas) that had about 250,000 power customers without electricity.  We were out for 8 days, and 12 days without phone or internet. THAT emergency we handled with flying colors.  But we learned a tremendous amount about streamlining our daily existence.

We learned that we could run most essentials on a gas sipping 2000 watt Honda Generator.  We learned that refrigerators are useless, because they warm up too quickly and cool down too slowly.  I was able to fill three ice chests with ice that fell from the trees, covered them with heavy horse blankets and they long outlasted the power failure.

The freezer remained solidly frozen (it’s in an unheated building), running the generator about 4 hours am and pm.  We used less than five gallons of gas during the 8 day outage. I took enough food out for three days’ meals at a time to avoid opening it unnecessarily.  We are going to put additional rigid insulation around the outside of the freezer.

Normally, our water comes from a 320 ft deep well.  We have never had a generator large enough to operate it, but we just bought one, based on recommendations from the blog here.  Of course, everyone’s out of stock so we have to wait for it.  But the biggest message was that we can run nearly everything that’s really essential with the small generator, while the big generator guzzles gas (or propane) at a much higher rate. Score for the small generator.

During this outage we relied on the 3000 gallon rainwater tank and the 120v pump that delivers the water.  This works great for an emergency outage in our rainy winter, but would only last about 100 days without rain.  Hence the big generator. Plus our expectation is that we will soon begin to experience California style deliberate blackouts as Oregon dismantles its energy producing infrastructure and becomes more susceptible to wildfire.

In 41 years of living here, we’ve never experienced either emergency scenario before.  It was enlightening, exhausting, and educational.  It has also eroded our sense of complacency, if we are guilty of that.

In terms of food, we’re trying to draw down the freezer and have more shelf stable food, but it’s a balancing act between what takes up space (canned) versus what takes up resources (as in water for rehydrating dried food, particularly pasta/rice/beans, and fuel for long cooking time of beans).  That’s a real balancing act I need to address.  We ate like normal people in both situations, not deprived, but canned goods take up a lot of space for evacuating (heh, how about hundred pound bales of hay!)

Anyway, I’m rambling, sorry.  It’s been an eventful six or so months!

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Prepare for a disaster and know the risks

I posted yesterday about a case of a nasty emergent syndrome that is in New Brunswick.

We prep and cover various gear and necessary for life items like water, food, clothing, and shelter.

Has anyone considered the risk factors for the scenarios/disasters for which you prep?

If so, have you considered changes to any of those risks and changed how you prep or plan to prep going forward?

After what I read yesterday, for how long it took to make this progressive and deadly neurological syndrome public, after an internal memo was leaked and for the additional information that I posted on that thread today, that my prepping is never going to be the same.

I am prepping now for risk as well as scenario. I am also prepping for what is not being released to the public and will continue my habit of medical research reading. It is how I got ahead on shoring up preps before Covid-19 was front and center in the media.

New and emergent diseases, viruses and syndromes. Contaminated food, water and air.

The risk has always been there and just got worse because we aren’t always the first to know. I am prepping accordingly. 

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Today in history – March 18 – The New London School explosion and why natural gas has added odors

Today is the anniversary of one of the worse disasters in US history that happened in Texas in 1937. Sadly, most people have never heard of it. It’s the reason you can now smell when there’s a gas leak. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_London_School_explosion

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The future of prepping

This morning I sifted through World War II lessons about preparedness and thought about how often I look to the lessons of the past for guidance as I plan and prep.

Then my mind drifted back to yesterday when I walked into the living room and happened to catch part of an episode of Battlebots. I stopped and was transfixed by the robots whirring around the arena battling each other with an assortment of weaponry.

I thought, hmm, we have restrictive gun laws here. I wonder if a couple of those could be good for exterior security and defence? I could just turn them loose in the yard like a couple of deranged Roomba’s on steroids. Those flame throwers would put more than one intruder on the run if the SHTF.

I must have thought out loud, because my husband said: “you’ve been prepping for too long.”

So, apparently my prepping mind isn’t all Grandmother stories and history. Why would it be when I love science fiction and would seriously learn Klingon as a second language?

I like thinking about the future. And why not, when much of prepping concerns the future and preparing for future crises and disasters?

I wondered what preparedness will look like in five, ten, or even a couple of years from now.

New products are being developed as technology evolves which could change how we prepare.

There are environmental changes that will affect how we prepare. For example, we might have to prioritize water conservation and storage if our area becomes drought prone. It follows that with more arid conditions, the threat of fires could increase. How we garden and the types of crops we grow would also change.

Our future needs will change as we age. Those changes will also affect how we prepare whether we are starting a family, or living in our middle or twilight years.

What will our prepping look like in the future? The basics will still be there, but how do you think it could change?

If environmental disasters worsen, do you see a more expanded concept of  preparedness for yourself? Will you store more items and of greater variety? Or will it be better to be more mobile in order to evade disasters?

Will more people prepare or will disaster overload cause people to become fatalistic and weary of prepping?

Take a walk into the future with me this morning and imagine what the future of prepping might look like for you and for the world.

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How to prevent injury, illness or death while cleaning up after a disaster

On the thread “The second survival – How to go on after the crisis is over“, hikermor made a significant comment regarding the fatalities and serious accidents that can occur after the disaster during the clean up and recovery process.

What hikermor introduced on that thread warrants it’s own topic and thanks to Gideon who suggested the new topic title above, we now have a new topic started.

This is the quote from hikermor: ”Perhaps it is worth mentioning that fatalities and serious accidents resulting from clean up efforts following a hurricane, etc. typically are equal to the total rug up during the storm.”

The second survival thread deals with the emotional/psychological aspects of recovery after crisis.

This thread is so we can examine safety issues of recovery after the crisis.

What kind of safety issues could we potentially face?

How do you safely deal with matters of downed power lines or other electrical hazards? How do you prevent a fall from a roof when attempting to repair it?

What kind of tools or gear can help keep us safe?

What should we do with wet damaged debris? What about mould? How do we prevent infections or waterborne disease because of contaminated surfaces or sewage infested water?

This could be an excellent way to share first hand information on how we coped safely in the aftermath of a disaster, or what lessons we learned when we didn’t cope safely.

The following is my post from the second survival thread which deals with how to stay safe around electrical hazards.

Begin Quote:

hikermor and Bob – Excellent points. 

One should also know how to deal safely with electrical hazards such as downed power lines. Or, if trapped in vehicle and a fire starts, how to safely exit a vehicle where there is risk of electrical hazard. 

Electrical Safety

Also, keep contaminated footwear and gloves out of the house. End Quote

Bob also made several excellent comments on safety issues on the second survival thread.

I was going to wait longer for hikermor to start this thread, but wasn’t sure how long that would be, so with credit to hikermor for introducing the topic, Bob for his comments on the other thread and to Gideon for the title, I’d like to offer it now.

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Best considerations for an evacuation or bug-out vehicle

With recent discussion of evacuation events, I realized we could be evacuated despite our plans to SIP. In that scenario we would need shelter and accomodations which may not be available or affordable if prices go up. We would also need to consider a range of time frames.

I can see the wisdom of modifying my existing Chev Astro van into a BOV that can handle all season events. It still must function for normal use. The van sits on a truck chassis so it sits higher and can handle certain terrain that a lower vehicle might not fare so well upon.

Seasonal studded tires alread in place.  I need to add a set of cable tire chains to carry in the vehicle to handle a winter event. We always have a full tank of fuel plus extra jerry cans.

The known gas mileage can be used to calculate the radius that we can travel. It is possible then to pinpoint areas that could be safe to stay until it is safe to return home. I want to calculate a radius as the evacuation event could come from any direction.

Currently the van has front bucket seats and two removable bench seats plus floor space behind the last bench seat. I want to set up items in a way that won’t draw attention as a target for a break in. Under the bench seats would work for some of the items.

I want to equip a rudimentary sleep area (rolled up foam or sleeping bags). Pail (already in van) and toilet seat ready to use. Kelly kettle and camp gear. Food items/MRE’s in sturdy bags ready to grab and go with BOB. Fishing gear in case it goes longer.

Currently the van is white, but if I am not mistaken are there not tarps or nets that can be thrown over a parked vehicle to disguise it? Anything shiny needs to be covered as well. I am looking to keep costs down.

I want to be very low key if on the move.

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Practice, simulations and drills

When we actually practice with our preps, or run drills and simulations, we take the visualization component out of prepping. There is a lot of mental work in prepping. This creates a shift into real time, hands on practice. For simulations and drills, there is still some imagination required, but you are still in engaged in doing rather than planning or acquiring.

Practice with our preps can build confidence and take some of the stress out of preparing.

Familiarity with our gear and preps becomes a new skill acquired, and more than just putting items into storage or onto a shelf.

Running a drill or simulation is also a way to know that you can handle certain items comfortably and with skill. Is the knife you bought right for you after repeated use? Or, do you need a different one that you can handle better? Do your boots cause discomfort? Do you remember how to purify water safely? Can you bake a loaf of bread?

What about various scenarios as drills? How about a no tech weekend challenge in your home or apartment? Survive with manual or non powered items only. Candles. Navigate with a map. Cook as if there is no power. Try to do everything as if you are off grid.

Take it outdoors, whether you live in the city or a rural area, and practice your covert skills. Challenge yourself to find the most undetectable ways to navigate to certain areas or places that you might need to get to.

Drill down on survival. Earthquake. Now. Go. Get to a designated point. How long did it take you? Did you discover any challenges on the way? 

You can make that challenge more difficult by throwing yourself a curved ball in the form of a route closure or other obstacle necessitating the need to navigate differently. Some preppers have items that were purchased long ago. Are those items still relevant? Or, are there better items now available?

Try running a health impaired simulation. Eye injury and vision impaired. Someone was careless and broke a leg. First aid required. Now you have to manoeuver on crutches or you are one person down. 

Or, someone is ill with the flu complete with all the symptoms. You have to care safely for them. You need to set up a clean room to prevent the rest of the household contracting the flu. You have your duct tape, plastic and zip strips to create a door in the plastic ready, right?

I knew people who practised that scenario for a weekend. It was an eye opener for the caregiver and for the person in the role of patient. We are lay people. Nurses are trained to care for the many needs of patients. It’s not as easy as they make it look because of their training.

Ease of use is not just the realm of the aged. People of any age can develop tendon, joint or muscle conditions or injury like carpal tunnel or arthritis. 

I developed osteoarthritis young, as did some other family members. All of us had to learn how to adapt to living with it. What if you suddenly developed arthritis in your hands? How are you going to get that pail of rice open? Carry water? Imagine severe pain in your hands and wrist, now how are you going to accomplish your goal?

Even strained, sore muscles, from activities from chopping wood or other physical labour can affect how well you can use other items in your preps. The right tools can help you during those times.

There are longer types of practice such as grow a small raised bed garden in your back yard. Or, if you are in an apartment, challenge yourself to grow some food items. 

I grew tomatoes on my balcony in BC. I wanted to see how much I could grow and if it would be successful with the light conditions. It worked great, except for the neighbours calling the police because they thought my tomato plants were something else.

Do you have your local edible plant book yet? Scenario: long term disaster. You now have to forage for food. Where do you go? How do know what to pick? Twinkies at 7-11 don’t count for this one.

Then journal or make notes about your experiences. What did you learn from it? Are there red flags about your preps or skill sets that need to be addressed? How did you fare in non physical ways? Do you need items or training to manage issues like stress or anxiety?

I enjoy doing drills and practice because I learn something valuable each time. How about you? Do you do regular drills and practice or run simulations? What has your experience(s) been like? What did you learn?

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An introduction to threat modeling

Preface

This isn’t an ‘ultimate guide’ -not by any stretch of the imagination. It is a work in progress and, as I see it, the concept of threat modeling underpins all we discuss here on The Prepared’s forums. I welcome any and all comments and constructive criticisms. Okay, here we go. Here’s my conversation starter about threat modeling.

An Introduction to Threat Modeling

Although it has its roots in IT security, threat modeling is, at its core, the foundation for the mindset that you and I call prepping.

The purpose of a threat model is to examine your preparedness by identifying assets, threats, defenses, and vulnerabilities. In short, the process answers the questions, “What am I preparing for?”, “What do I have?”, “How can I protect it? “, “What could go wrong?”, and “What am I missing, overlooking, or not seeing?”.

As we identify the various aspects of threat modeling -this way of thinking and prepping- use this opportunity to re-examine your planned scenario and responses. Take this opportunity to correct any potential issues, shortcomings, or vulnerabilities.

Identifying Assets

Assets are people, places, property, equipment, skills, and other resources you have access to or at your disposal. An asset might the med kit you have in your GO bag; it could be the pistol you keep at your side; an asset can be a person with a specialized set of skills (eg., medical training, combat experience -who can be a member of your team or can train you); an asset could also be place such as a bug-out location, a series of fallback positions; egress routes and transportation; or assets can be your significant stockpile of rations, water, weapons, ammunition, skills; or, items for trade and barter.

Identifying Threats

Threats are people, places, events, or conditions that have the very real potential to impact, disrupt, obstruct, impede, undermine, injure, maim, damage, or destroy assets and objectives. Below are some sample categories and their corresponding threats, which I’ve drawn from a few of my personal models. By specifically identifying threats, we can better bolster our defenses while help us to prepare smarter, not harder.

Natural: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, fire, flooding, landslide, blizzard, stellar flare, etc. Biological: injury, illness, disease, outbreak, pandemic, abuse, rape, murder Environmental: polluted resources, water scarcity, breathable air Infrastructure: electricity, water, gas, cellular communications, gps Chemical: pollution from manufacturing, plant accident/failure Socio-Economic: financial collapse, civil unrest, theft Radiological: fallout, power plant accident/failure Political: discrimination, inequity, inequality, polarization, radicalized ideologies Wartime/Insurrection: biological, chemical, & nuclear weapons, munitions, artillery, unexploded ordinance, terrorism, dirty bombs

Threats EVERYWHERE

Thinking about threats can be especially easy if you have a low threshold for what you might consider a threat. It can also be downright daunting -almost to the point of paralysis- if you’re not careful. Threats can be found everywhere, if you look hard enough. The trick, as it were, is to abide by the sane prepper mantra and be sane and rational. Prioritizing is additional way to mitigate a runaway list of threats.

Prioritizing Threats

Probably the simplest way to keep yourself sane and from being overwhelmed by all these threats is to put them into one of two basic categories: low-risk or high-risk. Some of you may decide to go with risk levels that resemble something like our current Terror Threat Levels. How you prioritize is ultimately up to you, just do it. Doing so will force you to closely examine situational reality versus possibility and probability.

For example, those living on the west coast of the US (or along the ring of fire) are right to consider earthquakes, tsunami, or volcanic activity (along with the threats to life, safety, and infrastructure that come with those events) high risk threats. Although it’s not out of the realm of possibility, someone living in the middle of the US (for example) might not consider these high-risk threats. Instead, they’d likely list tornadoes.

By prioritizing threats you can prioritize your preparedness and, when that threat appears, you can prioritize your response(s).

What does a threat model look like?

A threat model can be as simple as simple as a Word document, as complex as spreadsheet, or as visual as an illustration. In creating an actual model, not only do you get it out of your head, but you can share this information with members of your household, trusted team, or community.

Below are a few examples of threat models to help familiarize you with the concept of threat modeling:


[See? Even Batman has a threat model. Classic IT security threat modeling. A sample of my consolidated threat modeling spreadsheet (a perpetual work-in-progress).]

That’s All I’ve Got

The time you invest in developing, understanding, and evaluating your threat model(s) is time you’re investing in your own preparedness and, ultimately, your success.

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batman-threat-model

Can you make a better BOB than those cheap pre-made ones on Amazon?

My sister sent me a link to a 72 hour kit on Amazon by Ready America, asking me if that is a good emergency bug out bag for her and her husband.

My first reaction was NO! Those cheap pre-made emergency kits are made with subpar materials, are easily marked up more than double, and you can easily make a cheaper bag with higher quality items on your own. Right?

Well, I tried to piece together a cheaper bug out bag for them, and it was actually pretty hard. Click on the “View Full Kit” button below to read more about what I learned while trying to copy this 72 hour bag.

My challenge for you guys is: Can you make a cheaper bug out bag with similar items? 

Also, what other cheap items would you add to this? Sure you can easily put in a solar panel, stove, and many other expensive items. But try and keep it cheap and very very beginner to prepper or not a prepper at all friendly.

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Urban Prepper Planning

Urban Prepper Planning 

What sort of planning issues and threat subjects that urban preppers or ordinary preppers need to consider if stuck within a large town or city after TSHTF.

Avoiding Detection by gangs or criminals and avoiding being rounded up by authorities (NEVER BECOME A REFUGEE)

Identifying and Recovering water sources and materials to purify water*

Identifying and recovering food sources ( primarily this will be tinned, freeze dried, dehydrated etc)

Locating and foraging for wild growing NON POLLUTED foods

Developing transit routes to and from place of safety (BOL)

Collecting specialist access keys like storm drain keys, subway maintenance access doors etc

Finding safe places to shelter and cook that won’t give away your position

Mapping CCTV and other surveillance equipment (and plotting ways to avoid it)

Finding B O routes not likely to be used by refugees and displaced persons

Noting where unsafe and unstable building are and unstable or collapse prone paved areas are.

Identify choke points where desperate refugees may congregate

Identify likely locations for official check points and unofficial ambushs

Identify URBAN specific threats such as local gang territory or places with live rail lines, places likely to face flooding

Identify safe locations for shelter if civil unrest triggers large scale riots or out of control arson triggered fire storms

Identifying useable Elevated and Subterranean travel routes (Ariel walkways and underground passages)

Identifying suitable places to set up OP and LPs

Identifying suitable urban locations to hide caches of supplies securely and safely

Identifying areas for future planting of food stuffs

Setting up suitable URBAN comms short range SECURE systems (and concealing antennae)

WATER specific concerns

Urban preppers will need methods of testing water sources in urban locations to see if they have been treated with rust inhibitors, anti-bacterial agents, anti-fungal agents, excess dissolved lead or copper levels, antifreeze agents (alcohol and / or glycol based), excess sodium hypo levels, build ups of explosive hydrogen sulphide gases in water systems, faecal matter levels, typhus or other nasty’s etc””” Boiling does not remove chemical additives or metallic additives.

Understanding how the water network operates

Locating Underground service reservoirs

Sourcing a gate Key (for closing/opening valves on the water network)

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Short sighted, myopic or smart? – the need to carry eye protection and particulate masks

Short Sighted, Myopic or just Smart?

When California decided to go up in flames one of the commonest scenes was people fleeing the fires many of these victims found themselves struggling to SEE as they fled, Soot, Smoke, Red hot cinders, Volatile organics from burning fuel and melting plastics all contributed to leave people struggling to SEE.

When the same scenario unfolded in Australia torching homes and millions of eucalyptus trees which in turn released huge amounts of hot vaporized oil that burnt everything.

Equally many of these very same people found themselves struggling to breath as dust, soot, embers, smoke, particulates etc that entered their airways from the conflagration that was everywhere around and above them..

Lets move to 911, The Towers burned then collapsed throwing tens of thousands of tons of FILTH, debris, particulates, smoke, burning oils, plastics, insulation, concrete dust, powdered glass, toxic materials etc blinding and choking the fleeing survivors of that tragedy

When multiple bombs ( be they car, truck, rucksack or other) are detonated in our towns or cities throwing toxic debris into the air as people try to escape., 

When that freight train carrying volatiles derails and explodes launching up to 15 thousands tons of burning heavy oil into the air in your community.

When the hotel or tower block you are in bursts into flames and the corridors fill with smoke and soot.

When 500,000 tons of abandoned fertilizer exploded in Beirut vaporizing concrete buildings for ½ a mile and converting thousands of glass windows into supersonic abrasive powdered grit.

When a massive drought triggers dust storms in the US, Australia or the Middle east lifting millions of tons of soil or sand into the air turning day to night with choking particles that sweeps through your township.

When your local volcano belches a few million tons of ASH, Sulphers, C02 and other nasties 30,000 ft into the air only for it to fall and blanket your town with 2 ft of ash.

When the air stops circulating over cities like Beijing and the pollution levels rocket to a point you cannot see 500 yards and the air stings your throat.

Dont you honestly think that carrying Eye protection and particulate masks in your kit makes sense??

Come on folks FIND the space in your gear, your life could depend on it.

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Scenario: Crime and break-ins are increasing in your neighborhood. What do you do to really lock down your assets and preps?

Through multiple sources of friends, social media, and new reports you realize that household break-ins have just exploded in your area. They are happening at all times of the day, happen when people are there or not, and there isn’t any pattern to things that are taken. Even your neighbors with the top of the line home security system, cameras, and beefed up door lock has had their homes broken into. This band of thieves just really doesn’t care, and it looks like there is no stopping them. And the worst thing about this all is that since there has been so many break-ins in your area, all insurance companies have stopped covering burglary claims to your area! So you really are on your own to keep your stuff safe.

You talk it over with your family and they are extremely concerned about it as well and want you to go full out and go Fort Knox on your house. (for those unfamiliar, this is known as one of the most secure US Army forts)

Really place yourself in this situation. What are the steps you would take to deter people from even entering your property, prevent them from getting into your house, and how to hide items from people if they do manage to get in? 

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Family emergency plans?

I just finished reading a new preparedness book* that, like all preparedness how-to books, talks about family emergency plans— you know, the whole, “Have a meeting place outside the neighborhood” advice. And you know what? I’ve never done that prep. Moreover, I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because my household is small (fewer people to scatter), or because my house is very small (it’s not like we’d flee a structure fire from separate wings and then lose one another on the expansive grounds, ffs), or because Covid has broken my brain (“We are always together. There is nothing other than together.”), but I just can’t envision a meet-up plan that is simple enough to actually remember but also versatile enough to serve 80% of scenarios in which we would need it. In the most likely 80% of scenarios, we are bugging in, so the house is our meeting place. In any case where we have to bug out, well, which direction we go and how far we can go depends entirely on the nature of the threat. 

Can anyone articulate for me how they’ve approached or operationalized this (presumably good) guidance? What does your family emergency plan look like? Which scenarios do you use it for? Do I not get it because of where I live and the kinds of things it makes sense to prep for here? For example, if you live in the WUI in the Western U.S., it seems clear to me that you should figure out multiple driving and walking routes out of your neighborhood in the event of a wildfire; there are probably limited options, memorizing all of them is both possible and sensible, and it makes sense to come up with a place out of harm’s way to which all routes lead. But I live in the middle of a city, the odds of a wildfire sweeping through are vanishingly small, and there are literally a gazillion ways out of the neighborhood. If you live in hurricane country I can see trying to figure out a way out of your neighborhood that doesn’t direct your through low-lying, flood-prone areas, but our big disaster threat here is an earthquake, and I don’t really see an analog there.

Anyway, any thoughts or anecdotes to help me make this practice make sense for my household would be much appreciated.

* The book was David Pogue’s How to Prepare for Climate Change, and I really only skimmed it, since I’ve read a lot about both preparedness and climate change. Most of the information wasn’t new to me, but it was really interesting to have see those two subjects woven together. The book seems like a particularly valuable resource for anyone in flood-, hurricane-, or wildfire-prone areas, since it goes into how to understand your insurance policy and get assistance from your insurer and the federal government post-disaster— a very unsexy, bureaucratic side of prepping that probably characterizes the reality of post-disaster life better than what we see in apocalypse and survival movies!

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Beginning the journey

I live and work in the SW corner of AZ. My work area can range from the Colorado river west and the Gila River north about 50 miles each way. It’s a 30-ish mile drive one way from home to work. The area is low-elevation desert, with huge tracts of agriculture in between chunks of barrenness. The ag means the areas closer to town and the rivers are criss-crossed with canals. Farther away, though, there’s just the dirt, sagebrush, and cholla.

I’m just starting my “preparedness” journey, where I’m actually thinking about how vulnerable I am if my comfort zones collapsed. I bought my first gun a year ago (M&P full-size 9mm), and recently a second one (Ruger PC Charger), and had security screens installed on my house. Anticipating a possible grocery shortage, I also bought two 3-day boxes of Mountain House from Amazon. I almost feel foolish thinking like this – but I have seat belts, fire extinguishers, and AAA towing for the same reason: just in case! (AAA has saved my bacon a few times!)

Now I’m starting to think about scenarios where I can’t drive down the highway to get home for more than 24 hours. It’s the only main road between the city and any point north. It would probably be one of three scenarios:

— One of the ag chemical plants had a blowout, contaminating the region – including the road – for an extended period of time

— A military exercise (we have two bases in the area, and both utilize live explosives and various weapon systems) went awry and has rendered the highway unsafe to travel

— The most likely is a weather event – probably a heavier-than-anticipated storm with high winds and heavy rain. Flash floods are uncommon, but we do have some washes that will fill quickly and run for more than 12 hours, leaving the roads either washed out or covered in dirt and debris. There are alternate routes home from some points, but they would become unpassable before the highway did.

In any case, I’m banking on being able to at least shelter in my vehicle overnight – perhaps two nights if I get caught farther up north. If I’m working (which is the only reason I’d be up there), I’ll have my lunch box and water cooler. But those are only good for that work day. So what I’m thinking of is a shelter-in-place bag with essentials that anticipate a maximum 48-hour ordeal. So far, my list includes:

— Fire-making

— Food rations

— Water purification

— Keeping warm

— Emergency first aid

— Comms other than cell phone

— Maps of the vicinity (area and topographical)

— Defense (Firearms not allowed: work policies will not let me have one in my personal vehicle on company property, and 30 years long into the job and 3 years short of retirement, it’s not worth it to sneak around it.)

Anything else y’all might recommend?

Ed

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Prep for fume event?

Hi all,

This is my first post to the TP forum, though I’ve been diving into all the great resources since I discovered the site earlier this year. 

Stephanie Arnold brought up in her update for December 17 the notion of “fume events” in which faulty seals result in toxic fumes entering into the main cabin. The article to which she referenced described pilots passing out and passengers/crew complaining of long-lasting side effects. I had no idea 1) that air was drawn from engine exhaust into the cabin after being scrubbed for toxins or that 2) this air could turn toxic with equipment malfunction. According to the article she references, 2019 saw 362 “fume events” although there are likely more that go unreported.

My question is as follows: would you all consider it a reasonable prep to invest in face masks with the potential to filter out carbon monoxide and other potential toxins? Would bringing such an item as a carry-on even be allowed? More practically, with 3 young children traveling in tow, has anyone looked into functioning masks (or hoods) for kids that would provide a sufficient seal to keep them from breathing all that nasty stuff in?

Thanks all!

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