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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Surviving A Tornado

Although I currently live in earthquake country, I grew up in the Midwest and thus have experienced both a tornado watch and warning. I remember as a small girl, watching out the window for the tell-tale funnel cloud and having a blanket and one special toy to take with me to the basement. I can remember the frightening excitement you feel when it becomes eerily quiet and you’re scanning the fields for the tornado. Thankfully my family and I went unscathed, but I also remember driving through towns that were devastated by the tornado’s destructive power.

Every state has some risk for tornadoes. We’ve even had one touch down here in Southern California, a strange and unexpected surprise. Often, tornadoes develop suddenly, without much warning. They are more likely to occur between 3 pm - 9 pm, but can strike at anytime. The best way to survive a tornado is be aware of the weather around you, listen for warnings which are sightings of a tornado, and be prepared with a plan prior to the actual emergency.

If you see a funnel, hear a loud roar or notice a large, dark rotating cloud you need to seek shelter immediately. Think about where you can go in your home. A basement is the best, make sure you stay away from windows, sliding doors and any furniture or mirrors that could cause injuries. If you don’t have a basement, but have a small interior room or closet without windows, take shelter there - even the bathroom inside the tub is a good option. If you’re in a mobile home, you’ll need to get out immediately and know where you’re going for shelter. Now is the time to think about your plan, before the disaster strikes.

If you’re in the car when a tornado touches down, exit your car and take shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter. Your last resort would be to find a ditch or low piece of land and lie down flat. It’s even better if there’s something to hold onto nearby. You may or may not be able to outrun a storm in a vehicle, so it’s imperative you find a place to shelter outside of your car. Flying debris is very dangerous, so always protect your head and neck. Remember tuck and cover? If you live in a tornado prone area, you’re taught in school to tuck into yourself with your head against your knees and your hands covering your neck - if you practice regularly, you never forget these safety drills.

Practice with your kids and make sure they know the safest place to go. Practice this regularly and they won’t forget.

I’m sure you already have stores of food, water and first aid items to help you recover from a devastating tornado. Think about where you keep these stores and if they’d survive a 300 mph tornado wind. Keep items where they’re protected and accessible after the emergency. Remain vigilent during tornado season and be aware of the weather around you. If you prepare now, you’ll know what to do and that could save your life!

Original: http://survivallady.com/?p=197

Tactical Skills You Can Use

My general thought is that if you haven't been properly trained and do not have a use for tactical skills, then you shouldn't be out playing Rambo (or even pretend to play Rambo because someone is sure to call you on it). That said, there are a number of tactical skills that the general public should have. These include:
  • Leadership and team building. These are important in a tactical setting but also valuable skills in work and life. One person cannot do everything so knowing how to put a team together and lead them to work together successfully towards a goal will work whether you are putting together a business proposal or organizing a team to clean up the neighborhood after a disaster.
  • Documentation. This skill seems like it would be quite low on the tactical skill totem pole however the ability to clearly and concisely document the things you do is actually quite important. While you may never have to defend yourself via your documentation skills in front of a review board, learning how to document important information is a skill you should have. Documentation includes everything from updating your comprehensive annual home inventory to getting into the habit of writing down things that look out of place (ie: the make, model, and license plate of a car that seems out of place) to keeping up your medical and financial records.
  • Carrying a pack over a number of miles. Unless you are an avid backpacker, you probably don't have the need or desire to fill up a backpack with your gear and head out for a multi-mile hike. In a disaster, the ability to pack up critical gear quickly and efficiently and walk your way out of a disaster may be necessary so why not practice now?
  • Communications. In any event that necessitates a tactical response, communications usually come out at the top of the list as both most important and most likely to have problems. Consider ahead of time who you may need to contact, what method you will use to contact them, and what contact information you may need (ie: after a disaster that wipes out all regular communications, you want to be able to let your brother know you are OK. What is your communications plan? Do you have a list of his cell number, office number, home number, HAM call sign, pre-arranged out of state contact, etc?).
  • Firearms skills. Tactical use of firearms usually means you are taking an offensive position, however your task here is to learn how to defensively use your firearms so that in the event of an emergency you will be able to respond skillfully and effectively.
  • Hand to hand combat skills. Many people who advance through karate, tae kwon do, or boxing ranks fortunately never have to use these skills in a life or death situation. That said, all of these types of fighting skills are excellent forms of exercise and give you the confidence to know that you can fight back if necessary.
  • Navigation skills. Map, compass, GPS...these are critical items to know how to use during a disaster (think Hurricane Katrina when all landmarks were washed away) or if you get lost in the wilderness while on a day hike.
  • Tactical medical skills. Everyone should know basic first aid--CPR, how to stop bleeding, how to treat for shock, etc. These skills are useful whether you are in a disaster scenario or at the golf course (lots of heart attacks happen on the golf course).
  • Driving skills. Defensive driving skills are a must for anyone who drives. There's a lot of crazy drivers out there! You also want to practice convoy skills, how to follow someone effectively, and how to lose someone.
  • Rapid deployment. Tactical teams are known for their ability to mobilize and deploy ASAP. How quickly can your family or co-workers mobilize and deploy in the event of a fire or earthquake?
  • Tactical clothing. The clothing you choose needs to be based on your mission. Hunting? Your mission is to blend in with the scenery so camo is a good choice. Intimidation? Your mission is to visually intimidate your opponent (and identify yourself to other team members) by the type of uniform your SWAT team, soccer team, or other group wears. Doing some recon among the natives? That's why individuals who work undercover dress like the locals so as not to stand out.
  • Strategic planning. Tactical operations revolve around strategic planning (ie: the who, what, when, where, why, and how of reaching a specific goal). Strategic planning is also useful when planning your career, growing your business, or preparing for a disaster.
Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/02/tactical-skills-you-can-use.html

Facing the Zoning Monster

Over the last 50 years, food and zoning laws have worked to minimize subsistence activities in populated areas. Not only have we lost the culture of subsistence, but we’ve instituted legal requirements that make it almost impossible for many people to engage in simple subsistence activities that cut their energy use, reduce their ecological impact, improve their food security and improve their communities. In some cases, these laws were instituted for fairly good reasons, in many cases, for bad ones that associate such activities with poverty.

In fact, scratch most of the reasons for these things, and you’ll find class issues under their surface in the name of “property values.” There are ostensible reasons for these things, but generally speaking, the derive from old senses of what constituted wealth - and what constituted wealth was essentially having things that don’t do anything of economic value, but show that you can afford. It is important to remember that many things we think are ugly because of their class associations are not inherently ugly - that is, a lush garden is not inherently more ugly than a lawn (quite the contrary), nor are colorful clothes on a line inherently unattractive. What we find beautiful has to do with our culture and our training, otherwise how could anyone have ever found a 800K McMansion beautiful?

Among the basic subsistence activities legislated against by towns, cities and housing developments are:

1. Clotheslines instead of dryers. Reason: Looks poor. Might suggest you can’t afford a dryer. Plus, you might see underwear that isn’t your own. This is a major cause of sin.

2. No livestock, but large pets are acceptable. Reason: Ostensible reasons are health based, a few even broadly grounded in fact, real reason is that pets, which have no purpose other than companionship and cost money, are broadly a sign of affluence, while livestock are a sign of poverty, because they provide economic benefits.

3. No front yard gardens. Reason: The lawn is a sign of affluence - you have money, leisure and water enough to have a chunk of land, however tiny, that doesn’t produce. It creates in many neighborhoods a seemingly contiguousm, but basically sterile and safe seeming ”public” greenspace that is actually privatized and not very green. Gardens, on the other hand, have dirty wildlife and bugs in them, and might grow food, which is bad because it implies you can’t afford it - even if you can’t.

4. No rainwater collection. Reason: This is mostly in dry places in the Southwest, for fear that the tiny amount of available rainwater might not reach people who can’t afford to pay for it, or strangely believe that water that lands on their roof might belong to them, and who would like to have gardens anyway. A few other municipalities do it for fear of west nile disease because they seem never to have heard of screens or mosquito dunks. Oh, and barrels look like you can’t afford to water your lawn with sprinklers, even when it is raining.

5. No commerce of any kind. Reason: This often does not include white collar telecommuters who can make money out of their homes all they want, or upscale white collar professionals with home offices. Instead this means people who want to sell food, do hair, fix things, etc… This is deemed ugly and bad - and it is a visible reminder that people might not have enough money to keep warm burning it, and might need to earn some.

Now I realize I’m being a little bit unkind. People have real aesthetic concerns - but a law that outlaws even tasteful gardens or small tasteful signs that say “eggs” on them, or a town that tries to keep its “traditional” “colonial” or “small town” feel without actually allowing any of the characteristics of traditional, colonial or small town life is creating a sterile Disneyland as well as destroying long term environmental, economic and food security.

The reality is that clothes on the line aren’t empirically ugly. Neighborhood cats carry more diseases than backyard poultry. If you can put a political sign on your lawn, you should be able to put a sign that says “fresh baked goods” on it - hell, food security is political!

That means that these laws can’t be allowed to stand. And that means that one of the first things you or your community, your transition group or your neighbors can do is to push to change your zoning laws or your neighborhood covenants.

That means you need to get involved. Go to the town meetings. Get to know you zoning board. Talk to your neighbors. Strategize - can you find some people who want chickens to get together with? Find out what the objections are and address them - if people are afraid of bird flu, remind them that bird flu is largely a problem of industrial production. If people think that lawns are beautiful and food gardens are ugly, show them otherwise. Show them that other towns are doing it - remind them that Seattle allows chickens and that there is a national “Right to Dry” law.

If the law won’t help you, consider whether you are willing to consider civil disobedience. Unjust laws need to be overturned - you don’t have to go to jail to be Thoreau, sometimes you just need to plant some kale. But before you do that, do know the price you may have to pay - make sure you are willing to pay it. Someone with courage who is willing to pay a price may have to go first - and if you have the willingness to be the one to fight that battle, well, all honor to you.

The reality is that some of the zoning restrictions and covenants will fade as times get tougher, but we really can’t afford to wait for things to be really bad to get our chickens - because it will likely to be harder to come by diverse stock then. We can’t wait to grow food until we’re already hungry. We can’t wait to collect water until our well is dry. It is worth fighting these battles right now - particularly since many of them truly are rooted in ugly prejudice against the poor, and separation from our agrarian past.

Well, most Americans couldn’t get much more separate from our roots, so that’s sort of silly. And bit by bit, people are bringing clotheslines and front yard gardens back, and making them cool again. But we can’t wait for that to happen - because the reality is that many of us will be poor, and the utility of these activities will be needed to soften our poverty.

We can’t wait until everyone sees a garden full of food as beautiful and lush. Instead, we’ve got to make sure that even those who still think it looks old fashioned and dirty don’t get to control something so basic as our future anymore.


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/12/facing-the-zoning-monster/

The Meaning of Preparedness

Many people talk about being prepared and some may even find it hard to convince others of its value. It has a value that is shared by the majority of most people. Being prepared is really quite simple when you think about its true purpose and the value it adds to your life and the lives of others around you.

Many people go through their lives everyday being prepared to one extent or another without even realizing it. Many are, in fact, quite good at preparing even though they don’t recognize it as such. They prepare in simple but effective ways to keep order and a sense of "normal" in their everyday life.

To have a true understanding of what preparedness means, it is necessary to understand what it does. The act of being prepared does one major thing for everybody no matter who they are or where they may be or what they may be doing. It allows you the ability to return your life and the life of your family to a state of “normalcy” in the fastest and most expedient manner possible, regardless of the circumstances which have disrupted your life or the life of your family.

Many people carry a spare tire in their vehicles so that in the event of a flat they can return to “normal” vehicle operation as soon as possible. The frustration of a flat tire dissipates quickly once the spare is in place and you’re back on the road, able to continue your trip and eventually arrive safely at your destination. Unfortunately, if you’re unprepared and your spare tire is flat, you will need a lot longer time to return to a state of “normal”. This is but one simple example of the value of being prepared. The worst the crisis is, the harder it will be to return to "normal" and the more you will need to be prepared.

Everyone likes normal. Normal is a natural state for most everyone. "Normal" is a good thing. With a small dose of “routine” thrown in every so often for good measure, normal is comfortable and a lot easier to live with than being unprepared and winding up in a condition where things are less than normal. "Normal" is good for your health, your well-being and your peace of mind. Many things have a tendency to disrupt those good feelings that a sense of "normal" creates in our lives. These situations should be prepared for responsibly in order to enable you to handle these disruptions in your life as quickly and efficiently as possible. Normal is something you should be prepared to maintain in your life and the life of your family as part of an everyday routine.

Preparedness means being ready to return your life and the life of your family to a state of “normal” as quickly and expediently as possible, no matter what type of crisis or emergency.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Original: http://americanpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/02/meaning-of-preparedness.html