Welcome to our new Magazine format! All new content will now be brought to you in this easy, new format. All our older content can still be found by scrolling below. Simply click the ">" to start the magazine and navigate via your arrow keys.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 10% Solution...

No one is perfect. In fact, most of us as a result of our upbringing and the way we have chosen to live our lives are riddled with inadequacies and personal shortcomings. A sizable part of becoming prepared to face adversity is mental preparation. Long before the power goes out or the taps run dry, we need to have thought about how we should best respond to hypothetical scenarios that we perceive as being possible if not probable.

About 10% of people who unexpectedly find themselves in dire straights be it from a natural disaster, infrastructure disruption, social unrest or other such serious lifestyle setback will immediately make the wrong decision and set about making their personal situation worse. I suspect that because most people never consider the possibility of finding themselves in a life altering predicament they do not have the basics of survival stored in the back of their brains for just such an event. As such, the first decisions they make tend to focus on their immediate comfort rather than their immediate needs. Whatever the situation, 1 in 10 will undertake a course of action that will leave them worse off than if they did nothing, sometimes, these decisions will kill them outright, such as stepping into a flooded basement without turning the electricity off.

About 80% of people in a disaster will mill about waiting for someone in authority to tell them what to do. The operative words in this statement are "in authority". Meaningful advice for some tends to have more of an effect if it comes from a politician, police officer or some such elevated person in the community. A good example of this is a weather related event. You are told that a serious storm is coming. You see your neighbour next door packing up his car and head out to see what's up. Your neighbour has lived in the area a lot longer than you, he says he's leaving because in the past, storms of similar magnitude have resulted in power problems, flooding or blown down roofs. No one else on the street seems to be getting out, so its easy to dismiss your neighbour as over reacting. He may well be, but he is choosing not to take a chance on calamity by staying. Most people presented with a similar situation will not choose to accept a course of action based on causal advice even from a well known friend. It will take an evacuation order to be get most people heading for a safer place. Even then there will be some who for whatever misguided reason will simply refuse to act in their own best interest and choose to remain in harms way. 8 out of 10 people will wait to be told what do do next even when what is eventually conveyed to them is common sense advice.

The final 10% are people who are strong willed independent thinkers who are prone to act after some careful consideration. We also call this type of person "a leader". These are the people to shout out to the 80% and say, "follow me, we're out of here." These are the people who after assessing the situation can and do look after themselves without needing reassurance and encouragement from others. These people act and react quickly and decisively without tending make matters worse for themselves in the process.

Statistics show that the majority of you reading this post fall squarely into that middle 80%. It is time for you to begin to learn what you need to do and to have on hand in order to survive adversity. You need to change they way you make decisions so that you are not waiting around for the nod of approval from the authorities before you begin to look after yourself. While we all can make bad decisions when it comes to choosing a particular course of action, having thought about what to do before you need to make those types of decisions for real, is a big advantage that will save you time and prevent you from making tactical errors during times of heightened stress and pressure.

Deciding today to practice being more decisive is a good start.

[What have you done today to prepare?]

Lesson from the Past

Every disaster has its own unique characteristics that separate it from the many different types that may occur. Some disasters have longer lasting effects than others that are more severe while others can happen slowly over a long period of time with equally devastating effects and consequences. The lesson we can all learn from the past is that panic and fear can sometimes make a bad situation even worse.
If your emotions are allowed to take the place of a properly thought out plan for your survival, you will quite possibly find yourself in a place you may not want to be. A rational reaction to a disaster will always overcome the effects of irrational behavior that can lead to an improper or irrational response. Without a well-defined strategy to help keep your emotions in check, you may be headed for a survival disaster.
A disaster or crisis can sometimes be avoided and its effects lessened by knowing what to do and having a plan to put that knowledge into action. Remember, panic is not a very effective survival strategy. During an emergency or a crisis, your survival depends on your ability to stay calm and focus on the things that you can control.
As Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.”
A good preparedness plan can help you master that fear.
Staying above the water line!


Not Enough Sleep!

Please turn on your magic beam
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.
- lyrics: Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes
Did you know....
· Almost 74% of all Americans do not get enough sleep each night.
· We sleep on average 6.9 hours/day, almost an hour less than a few decades ago; an hour and half less than a century ago. (Eight hours and fifteen minutes is considered ideal.)
· Parents of young children lose an extra hour of sleep each night. (NSF 2004.)
· Sleep problems are reaching epidemic proportions, estimated to be the #1 health related problem in America - (CNN, May 1997.)
· Fatigue's consequences include higher instances of motor vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, decreased productivity and adverse health effects.
· Sleep deprivation can reduce attention and vigilance by 50 percent, decision-making ability by 5 0percent, communication skills by 30 percent, and memory by 20 percent.
· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “drowsy driving” causes 100,000 automobile wrecks, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year.
Adults needs about 8 hours of sleep each night to refuel the body, especially the brain. (9-10 hours for children and teenagers.) Certain parts of the body, like muscles, can rejuvenate on just rest alone. However the regeneration of neurons and the formation of lasting memories within the brain required a deep sleep called REM (rapid eye movement).
A person who loses one night’s sleep will generally be irritable and clumsy during the next day and will either become tired easily or speed up because of adrenalin. After missing two night’s sleep, a person will have problems concentrating and will begin to make mistakes on normal tasks. Three missed nights and a person will start to hallucinate and lose grasp of reality. Someone who gets just a few hours of sleep each night occurs a large “sleep debt” and can begin to experience many of the same problems over time. A 1997 study found that people whose sleep was restricted to four to five hours per night for one week needed two full nights of sleep to recover performance, alertness and normal mood. - http://www.sleepdex.org/deficit.htm
Sleep debt weakens the immune system leaving one more susceptible to other diseases and disorders like diabetes, cancer and even the common cold. Sleep debt also causes much stress and, again, stress weakens the immune system - a double whammy.
Bottom Line
Suggestions on how to get more sleep include:
· Purposefully go to bed earlier each night.
· Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the hours before bedtime.
· Improve your sleeping environment in any way you can – for example, keep it dark and sound-proof, turn off lights and wear earplugs if you have noisy neighbours.
· Don’t have any distractions in the bedroom such as TV or a computer.
· Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep quickly.
· Seek professional assistance for sleep disorders such as snoring.

Cache and Carry

No matter how carefully you prepare, how nifty and comprehensive your everyday carry gear might be, there may come a time when you cannot get to your primary supplies, or are separated from your EDC equipment. You may find yourself in a situation in which you are left with nothing more than the clothes on your back. What then?

I’m a big fan of small emergency caches as a solution. Generally you needn’t spend a lot to create them, they are relatively easy to make, and have ancillary benefits to making and emplacing them. They shouldn’t be your primary preparations, or plan B or even C, but they can have their place.

Myself, I have several caches located on the routes leading away from where I live. I also have caches emplaced in areas I often frequent, such as some of the provincial parks in Manitoba. They are small, well hidden but easily found by me (WITHOUT a GPS!!!), and contain materials that I feel will benefit me should I be without gear.

My favorite container for caching is a large metal coffee can with plastic lid. It has a generous amount of room, but is still easily prepped and buried. The materials in the cache can vary, but it should be noted that most of them are every day things from around the house, or dollar store or garage sale finds.

Here are the contents (so far) of my next cache:

Large zip-loc bag
Large field dressing (free from a military friend)
Tape, gauze, band-aids, triangular dressing (rotated out of old first aid kit, but still good)
2 ‘space’ blankets (yard sale, .25 cents each)
Small folding knife (promo item, free)
Matches, cotton balls (I’ve got lots of both)
2 compressed camp towels (3/$1.00)
2 emergency ponchos ($1.00 each)
Hooks, baits, weights and a float (All from a HUGE box of fishing gear I got at a yard sale, for $5!)
2 small candles (Yard sale, I think .05 each?)
Pencil with a LOT of fishing line wrapped around it

There is more to add, such a food in the form of a small amount of beans and/or rice and some other things, as the can is far from full. No two of my caches are exactly the same, although there are commonalities such as fire making materials and first aid supplies.

To get it ready for emplacement, I line the can with the large Zip-loc. This will protect the contents somewhat if the outer coverings are breached, and will serve as an expedient water carrier, among other things. The contents are placed in the Ziploc, and closed up then the plastic lid is put on. The can then goes into a heavy duty-garbage bag, which is tied shut then another of the same except that the opening is opposite to the first. It’s a little tricky folding the bags around the cans, but with a little practice, you can make a pretty neat package, and you will have enough plastic to make shelter building easier. I then do two more bags (small kitchen sized ones this time) in the same manner as the first, and it is ready to go.

The contents are now protected by four outer layers of plastic (two of which can be used as shelter material if they survive) a layer of metal, and an inner layer of plastic. I’ve used this method for many years, and have only seen one cache fail, and part of that was due to a tree root growing through it.

The benefits to this are several: You are thinking about preparedness, you are doing something about preparedness, and you’re having fun. That’s right. You’ll have a blast, putting these together, scouting locations, and secretly emplacing your caches.

Now of course there are many other ways to create caches, and I urge you to explore the possibilities. They can be larger, include more gear, or use a different method of weather proofing. Think about how caching might fit in to your overall preparedness scheme, and create a few if you feel it might make surviving a crisis a bit more comfortable.

Me, I’m off to scout locations!!

A. Dragon.

Plentiful Water, Right at Your Feet, by Matt H. in Washington State

I want to bring up a topic that should be critical to those trying to prepare. I am one of the folks that wants to survive in place in a suburban environment. The serious weak link in any survival program is that of water. We have all read the endless articles about finding and preparing potable (drinkable) water. The endless stories of filtering, boiling, bleach-treating. I believe one area has been overlooked. Proviso: The following is presented for educational purposes only, and should only be considered in life and death situations!

Can I tell you all a little about my background? I was one of the many starving college kids in the 1970s while trying to make my way through college to earn a degree in engineering I took many jobs. One of the jobs I took was that of a "Street flushers helper". What a street flusher does is go out in the small hours of the morning and flush the streets in a large truck filled with water. The irony of all this is that it was in Seattle, where we normally get 40 inches of rainfall a year. I know, I know it sounds crazy but they were willing to pay for it and I needed the money. So where does a street flusher get all that water? That’s where the story gets interesting.

The lowly hydrant, you know those red, white and yellow things you can’t park in front of. They are everywhere and no one gives a thought about them. If you are a street flusher they were very dear indeed. I had my favorites, because it was part of my job to keep the truck full of water. I always wanted to find the high flowing hydrants. That’s when I was taught the laws of gravity for the very first time. We had a hydrant that we used over and over again because it was the lowest hydrant on the system. And boy did it put out water, I could fill a 1,500 gallon water truck in just under 12 minutes. We had at least 115 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). On those very cold nights you want to be out of the truck just as short as time as possible.

So how do you get access to all that water at the hydrant? Remember folks we are talking about grid down and people are suffering from dehydration and you need water now. Well, that’s where the hydrant wrench comes in. Please don't confuse this with a pipe wrench a plumber would use. The nuts on a hydrant are Pentagon shape so you need a special wrench. If you use a pipe wrench you will permanently mar the nuts and I want to strongly discourage that. This is a special wrench that you can buy online, they are not cheap. A new wrench would run you about $50. I bought mine through eBay many years ago for 24 dollars. I prefer the stout two piece wrench I do recommend the heavier wrenches, the lowest hydrant on your system may not have been opened in years. The cheap heads can break and need to be replaced. I also recommend getting a [wrench handle extension] "cheater" pipe. We used a six-foot piece of one inch galvanized pipe we called "The Staff". Any hydrant will yield with a long enough lever arm. This is specially important for the female preppers (The longer the lever arm the less physical strength needed). If the cost of the wrench seems a bit steep remember the cost of all that bottled water stashed in your garage.

When I would go out and crack open the hydrant at o-dark-thirty in the morning, I would appreciate having a stout hydrant wrench in my hands. Between rust and way too many coats of paint some hydrants will still refuse to yield. One trick I would do would try to close the nut slightly tighter to try and break the rust free. If any hydrant gave us too much grief we would notify the water purveyor that they had a problem hydrant.
You could be a real lifesaver with this resource. Remember Charlton Heston playing Moses in a Cecil B DeMille movie, where he struck the rock with his staff and out poured the water? Well, with your wrench and your staff you too could save hundreds of lives if you pre-locate the lowest hydrant on your system. This could bring a whole new meaning to finding your favorite watering hole.

Grid up or grid down water will always seek the lowest point in the system. If you’re local water tower is empty so what? There are still millions of gallons of fresh water in the system. All you need to know is how to find it. Here is a bonus that most folks forget: Most meters do not have a backflow valve (A one way check valve). So as long as some one in any house or apartment leaves a tap open that water loses its vacuum and returns to the main line and the lowest hydrant on the system. In undulating country side there will be pockets of trapped water everywhere. So you live in a dead flat area? Well, the water is still there--all you have to do is go and get it. Most hydrants are held down with 8 to 12 3/4 quarter inch diameter bolts. Some are meant to break away in case of a crash but most are not. It will take some work and you will be breaching a closed system, so you had better not do this on a whim. Remember folks: do this in life and death situations only! It would subsequently take a chlorine shock to restore the integrity of the line. [And of course ithe hydrant would have to be re-assembled for the system to ever be capable of being used in its normally intended manner.]

So just how much water are we talking about? Well if we do some rough math together you can find millions of gallons of unused water. If you’re concerned about stealing the water please make a five dollar donation now to your water supplier, that would allow you to take 1,000 gallons of fresh water with a clear conscience. Most water lines are 8 to 12 inches in diameter. An 8 inch line holds about 2 gallons per lineal foot. A 12 inch line holds 6 gallons per lineal foot. So if each hydrant is a 1,000 feet apart plus you have all the secondary lines flowing back into the main line you have thousands of gallons of fresh water ready for harvesting.
Back to the math, if you have a water tower 100 feet in the air the head pressure will give you 44 PSI at ground level. Do you need 44 PSI to wet your whistle? No, you need 3 PSI like you get from a drinking fountain. So you need about 18 feet of head pressure on the line. Hence the search for the lowest hydrant on the system. And yes I did account for the water line being below the frost line at 4 feet and the outlet being 2 feet off the ground. This means water in the system will flow even in sub freezing Conditions.

I used to love the hydrants in industrial areas. These hummers were on 12 to 18 inch lines, talk about volume. If you live in an industrial area you are in luck. First who in their right mind would seek out water in an industrial park? Second the volumes are there. One word of hydrant caution if the hydrant is purple or the piping or the meter is purple that is industrial water and can never be used for human consumption. Sometimes the hydrant would have a sign on it “non potable water“. Steer clear of all things purple. Another source is some old buildings had water towers on the roof. These towers were used to flood the stand pipes and sprinklers in case of fire. This could be a valuable resource.

The hydrant itself is just a large cast iron spigot with its frost free valve below the frost line. The older ones did not have the enamel coating on the inside so your first drink will be a bit rusty tasting. Worried about Fido and his aim? First Fido aims for the base of the hydrant not the top. Second if your concerned about it spray the hydrant down with a 5% bleach solution before you start. I dare say that hydrant being out in the direct sun is far cleaner than the company water cooler.

So you don't have a 1,500 gallon water truck to locate and transport the water back to your location? I can think of some ways on harvesting the water. I used a four mile radius on Google Earth around my house. Once I found my location I asked for a terrain map. Just 2,000 feet south of me is a low spot in the terrain. After a short walk I found that there was a hydrant there. This is certainly not the lowest on the system but it is close by. I do know that the hydrant will still have water long after all the neighboring houses have gone dry. When that hydrant goes dry I will have to increase my search radius to another lower hydrant. So you found your low hydrant and you have hydrant wrench. Remember you only need the cheater pipe on very stubborn rusty hydrants. To capture the water I would bring two 5-gallon food grade buckets. You might be able to stash these buckets in a near by location. I would fill one bucket at a time by drizzling water in than I would transfer the water into 10 one gallon milk jugs. I plan on riding my bicycle down to the hydrant then walking it back by wiring the 70 pounds of water to its frame. Is it the most safe and efficient means of transporting water? Probably not but this will work for me.

In closing 5,000 people die each day because of water-related illnesses. I watched thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims walk right past hydrants in their search for water. While many in desperation will drink from the city duck pond, all the while millions of gallons of fresh water will go unharvested right beneath their feet. You and your family should never be the one straining muck through your teeth hoping the diarrhea that follows won’t kill you. There must be a small group of leaders that will show the people the way. I hope and pray that you will be one of them. Again, the preceding is for life and death situations only!