Old 05-16-2006, 22:00   #1
The Reaper
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Be Prepared

The intent of this thread is to discuss Disaster Preparedness and assist members of PS.com with their personal disaster planning.

We do not specifically teach disaster preparedness or urban/suburban survival in the SF Qualification Course or SERE. Having said that, with a few exceptions, the survival needs are the same.

Last year, I was asked to prepare a briefing on Terrorism preparedness for corporate managers. One of the first things I noted was that the preparations were very similar to those for natural disasters, and that the disasters were much more likely at any given location than a terrorist act. I would say that any significant disruption of basic services to a large number of people qualifies as a disaster. The Department of Transportation defines it as any occurrence that causes damage, ecological destruction, loss of human lives, or deterioration of health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community area.

Regardless of how you define it, the disaster preparation process looks something like this:

Disaster Preparation

1. Identify/prioritize likely threats or disasters.
2. ID resources (internal and external)
3. Develop Courses of Action using a decision making process
4. Initiate disaster preparation; acquire skills, materials, etc.
5. Establish responsibilities, conduct rehearsals, conduct internal and external quality assurance checks, document, revise and repeat.

How you prepare for disasters will depend on the threats you face and the remaining social structure you anticipate during and after a catastrophe. A disaster can be natural, or manmade. It could be pandemic, a hurricane, a wildfire, an earthquake, a flood, or a war. It is likely that sometime in your life, no matter where you live, you will be without normal amenities for an extended period of days, weeks, or even more. A facility based analysis of disaster threats would look as follows.

Disaster Analysis

Frequency of Occurrence:

• Highly likely (Near 100% probability in the next year)
• Likely (Between 10% and 100% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 10 years)
• Possible (Between 1% and 10% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 100 years)
• Unlikely (Less than 1% probability in the next 100 years)

Seasonal pattern?

• No
• Yes. Specify season(s) when hazard occurs:

Potential Impact:

• Catastrophic (Multiple deaths; shutdown of critical facilities for 1 month or more; more than 50% of property severely damaged)
• Critical (Injuries or illness resulting in permanent disability; shutdown of critical facilities for at least 2 weeks; 25% to 50% of property severely damaged)
• Limited (Temporary injuries; shutdown of critical facilities for 1-2 weeks; 10% to 25% of property severely damaged)
• Negligible (Injuries treatable with first aid; shutdown of critical facilities for 24 hours or less; less than 10% of property severely damaged)

Are any areas or facilities more likely to be affected (e.g., air, water, or land; infrastructure)? If so, which?

Speed of Onset:

• Minimal or no warning
• 6 to 12 hours warning
• 12 to 24 hours warning
• More than 24 hours warning

Potential for Cascading Effects?

• No
• Yes. Specify effects:

After living in Hawaii, Central America, the Caribbean, and the US on the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf coasts, I can tell you that when the hurricane is a few days out is no time to prepare a plan and to try to buy your necessities. Given the projections, when Phase V of a pandemic occurs, you will be unlikely to be able to acquire sufficient quantities of supplies to make survival somewhat more comfortable. You need to identify required resources, determine what you have on hand and what you will require, prioritize them according to relative importance, likelihood of need, and consequences, and develop an acquisition plan to meet your needs in a logical fashion (in accordance with your means).

The survival saw goes that you can survive six minutes without air, six days without water, and six weeks without food. While that is generally true, in each of those cases, you will not be doing much effectively after the first third of the respective period expires. It is up to you to see that you and any dependents have their needs (not necessarily wants) taken care of. It is not the government’s responsibility to take care of you, regardless of what our entitlement society's members believe. Those who expect the government to take care of them, review the Katrina tapes. Do you want to be airlifted off your roof to move to the Super Dome? Even well-meaning citizens will scramble and loot when they think they are going to run out of food and water and they see others getting away with it. You saw the looting of stores. If you are going to be the only one on the block with lights on and a generator humming away, once the stores are empty, guess where they are headed?

Thanks to modern transportation and economic efficiencies, your local box store or grocery has no attached warehouse. Everything they have is on the shelf, and to save money and space, it is normally only a few days of merchandise. If you live in an area that occasionally gets snow or hurricanes, you know what happens to the perishables and common necessities like bread, milk, eggs, batteries, bottled water, etc. There will not be more stuff appearing on the shelf until the trucks (and drivers) can get from the warehouse to the stores, and the stores have enough workers to open for business. There will be no more coming to the warehouse till the trucks (and drivers) get it from the distributors and wholesalers. Due to “Just in Time” manufacturing, there will be no more for them until the manufacturers (or growers, in the case of food) get their workers back on the jobs and their parts and components from the sub contractors, or increasingly today, the ports where they are brought in. The component makers will need labor and raw materials. You can see where this is headed. In the US, we live about 48 hours from a disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you saw what is likely to happen in the event of a localized catastrophe, with the rest of the country outside of the few affected states available to respond. Society imploded. Imagine what it would be like if the region, the country, the continent, or the world, are all experiencing their own disasters and are not available to help. The mobs looting and roaming the streets looking for food, booze, drugs, guns, or victims could be your neighbors. You need to decide now if you are going to be a sheep, a wolf, or a sheepdog, and prepare accordingly.

Next, you need to analyze your most likely courses of action. Will you stay where you are or move elsewhere to unite with others or to get away from them? This is an important consideration. If you live in NYC, any disaster of more than a few days is going to be difficult to survive and will require a lot of planning and preparation. If you saw New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, you might want to reconsider planning to remain in an urban area during a catastrophe of any duration. There will be little food and clean water, and the wolves will be taking what they need from the sheep. If you are going to relocate, you need to prepare in case you are stuck where you are, and for your destination as well. This means that you will need to ensure that you have the ability to relocate, to include reliable transportation, adequate fuel, a plan to pack what you need to take and secure your home in a certain amount of time, a route (and timeline) that will not leave you stuck on the highway when disaster occurs, and that your destination will be ready when you arrive. If you saw the highways outside of New Orleans and Houston just prior to their anticipated disasters last year, you can see the fallacy of waiting too late to initiate your plan or of not having reliable transportation. This decision can have a number of branches and sequels, depending on the nature of the disaster, prep/warning time, etc. The time to work all of that out is now. If you live in East Nowhere, Oklahoma, you will also need to prepare, but you may not need to travel. Now is the time to sit down and war game what could happen, starting with the most likely/most dangerous contingencies. If you live in the Rockies, a hurricane may be unlikely and relatively less important to you than someone in Florida, who will not be very concerned with an avalanche or blizzard. Work your way down to the lesser events. Plan your fight, then fight your plan, but remain flexible. You always want to have a contingency plan or two. That hurricane may zig, rather than zag. The epidemic may start next month, rather than next year. You may be hundreds of miles from home when the disaster strikes and you may be in a completely different situation at that location, better or worse.
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Old 05-16-2006, 22:01   #2
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Having spent some time in third world cultures, the average American takes far too much comfort and convenience in their lives for granted. NDD and I have shared some time in places where electric power, potable water, flush toilets, hot water, climate control, sanitary nutritious meals, personal transportation, medical and dental care, and even law enforcement were precious commodities in short supply, if available at all. You may or may not be able to flip a switch and get light, to turn on a tap and get water, or to push some buttons and contact someone you want to communicate with. Those of us who were driving in the early 70s remember waiting in long lines to buy small quantities of gas, you know what I mean. If you value these services, you have to do some planning and some preparation. The planning and development of courses of action costs noting but a little time, why not start today, before throwing money at potentially unnecessary products?

Base your plan on what services you consider vital, how long it will be before help, rescue, or normal conditions return, and how many people you will be providing for. Consider if you have additional people depending on you, whether they are family members, or you are the sort who wants to share with the entire neighborhood. As we have seen in the Pandemic Flu thread, if it mutates to a HTH strain, there are expected to be several waves of 4-6 weeks each, over a period of 18 months. There will be widespread absenteeism from work and school. When the truck driver who delivers the gas or groceries is sick (or his wife or kids), the tank or shelves are going to stay empty. The mortality rate is expected to be anywhere from .5% to 50%. Even if the lesser mortality rates occur, some of these people will be in critical positions in the manufacturing and distribution system, and consequences will follow. If the higher rate applies, there are going to be serious long-term implications. This will affect your ability to do everything from having electric power, to clean water, to gasoline, to fire and police protection, to food, to medical care. The experts are saying to have a plan for up to 90 days of essentials on hand. Full restoration of normalcy and amenities as we know them could take significantly longer. Take a clue from the Boy Scouts and be prepared.

You do not need to order a year’s supply of freeze-dried food for your family and stock up on a dozen cases of 5.56 ammo today. That is not planning, that is just stockpiling. First, as noted, you need to develop an appropriate, workable plan. Then, you need to prioritize your needs and develop a plan to acquire them in accordance with a realistic time line. You don’t have to get everything at once, but some will be high priorities and are more important to sustaining life than others. There are a number of needs and they need to be dealt with in a logical manner. As noted above, some will be a priority. You could start by taking a look at your plan and adding 10% or so to your weekly grocery buy of non-perishables. If you live in Death Valley and have your water trucked in weekly, you will have a different set of priorities than someone who lives on Lake Michigan. Figure it out and plan accordingly. The following is a sort of laundry list of requirements in a semi-prioritized fashion. We can cover each of them in more detail later.

Breathable Air
First Aid/Medicine/Escape gear
Defense
Shelter/Warmth/Light
Water
Food/cooking
Sanitation
Commo
Power/Fuel
Tools
Transportation/Mobility
Entertainment

After you have determined the necessities to support your courses of action, you need to develop the supporting plan to acquire them.

The plan has to take into consideration the type of disaster, relative importance of the items, available budget for acquisition, and last but not least, available storage space. Get the most important items first, but not necessarily to the exclusion of other items. That year’s supply of 5 gallon buckets of hard red wheat may be a comfort to have stacked in your garage, but without a grain mill, the other ingredients, and a means to bake bread, they are not really much good except as barter to someone else who has those items. The ammo is useless without the weapon, and vice versa. Make sure that you consider those related needs before initiating your plan.

If you need skills or training, get it now. You need to know that you can bake bread before the shelves go empty. If you do not know how to do CPR, there is no time like the present. In many places, classes are free. Make sure that you know how to operate and maintain that shiny new generator before the lights go out. How long before it needs maintenance? Do you know how to do it, have the tools and supplies? If you are not sure which way the pointy things go in your new pistol, get some training. Can you really use that water purification device and provide enough potable water for the people you are trying to care for? Are you going to do it all by yourself? What if you are the first victim or are away from home when the disaster occurs? Does everyone know where the supplies are and how to use them? Get the skills, inventory, assign responsibilities, rehearse, make notes of deficiencies (human or material), correct them, make changes as needed to the plans, develop additional contingencies as required, and reevaluate periodically to ensure that you are ready. Only then will you really be prepared for a disaster. And fortune truly favors the prepared.
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Old 05-17-2006, 10:40   #3
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Excellent post, Thank you Sir.
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Old 05-17-2006, 14:52   #4
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Quote:
We can cover each of them in more detail later.

Please do. Your efforts to educate us are greatly appreciated, TR.
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I will cede that we frequently have to associate with people we may not respect. - The Reaper
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Old 05-17-2006, 15:31   #5
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Originally Posted by Roycroft201
Please do. Your efforts to educate us are greatly appreciated, TR.
I appreciate the kind words, but this topic does not appear to be of much interest.

Maybe I should have made it an installment, and judged interest before I wrote more than the first chapter. I do not intend to waste any more time on it if it is not of value.

We can let it run a few more days and see what happens.

TR
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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

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Old 05-17-2006, 15:35   #6
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Sir, I'm interested in it for it's face value. It's easy to digest and very informative.

If this thread shuts out I'll buy you a beer and talk it over, deal?
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Old 05-17-2006, 16:39   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper
I appreciate the kind words, but this topic does not appear to be of much interest.

Maybe I should have made it an installment, and judged interest before I wrote more than the first chapter. I do not intend to waste any more time on it if it is not of value.

We can let it run a few more days and see what happens.

TR
Sir this topic is of great interest to me. From the pandemic thread and others here I have begun assembling the things that I need for disaster planning. Any information you would provide would be a great asset.

Funny I had spent a great deal of time working on planning for disasters and mass casualties locally from the patient care side, owever until now never gave home planning much thought. I suppose I always figured I would be out there anyway.
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Old 05-17-2006, 19:31   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper
I appreciate the kind words, but this topic does not appear to be of much interest.

Maybe I should have made it an installment, and judged interest before I wrote more than the first chapter. I do not intend to waste any more time on it if it is not of value.

We can let it run a few more days and see what happens.

TR
TR, Excellent Read --- Please continue

SnT
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Old 05-17-2006, 19:35   #9
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Originally Posted by The Reaper
I appreciate the kind words, but this topic does not appear to be of much interest.
not very patient, are we...?

it's a good topic...one that folks haven't thought much about after Y2K and before Katrina...
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Old 05-18-2006, 08:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper

Frequency of Occurrence:

• Highly likely (Near 100% probability in the next year)
• Likely (Between 10% and 100% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 10 years)
• Possible (Between 1% and 10% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 100 years)
• Unlikely (Less than 1% probability in the next 100 years)
TR-great thread as always.

I see the above to be the key issue as it relates to getting the public, or in my case, CINC House, to take this stuff serious. In fact, most folks are totally clueless about risk management. They think the risk of something bad happening to them to be nil, thus there is no need for preparation.

Professionally, I'm involved in risk management as it relates to fraud. Some very so called sophisticated and intelligent folks live in their own little world of self-denial and are dismissive of developing any type of scientific approach to managing risk. They think it’s a waste of resources or view anyone thinking along these lines as “Chicken Little," part of the “Tin Foil Crowd” or worse, profiteers. Granted there is a growing movement in both the corporate and government community to take risk management seriously, but there is a long way to go!

Last edited by FILO; 05-18-2006 at 08:54.
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Old 05-18-2006, 09:08   #11
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The way we do risk assessment in the Army is to compare the likelihood to the potential severity to obtain a level of risk and then in the case of higher risk activities, attempt to mitigate it.

I strongly suspect that this was a civilian industry practice we adopted, it has its pros and cons. To me, the key point is risk awareness. Outside of airborne operations, many people had never before looked at what they were doing and what could happen with a good thorough review. The issue beyond that is organizations that become risk averse, failing to adequately prepare their soldiers due to the possibility that someone could be hurt.

In the case of a hurricane, we have pretty good models and predictions to help with our analysis. With a potential avian flu pandemic, as mugwump has pointed out, we have a lot of fluctuations in both the probability of HTH transmission occuring, and the potential mortaility rate. This may be a case where you have to review your normal preparations and plan to add what you can use in any disaster anyway now, and to pick up a few more items or make changes in our activity as we see which way this may break. The key is going to be identifying a critical point, and acting quickly once that is reached, before the supply system is cleared out and good social order breaks down. For example, it is a bit late to be shopping for Tamiflu, and it would not have a lot of potential use other than in a flu pandemic. OTOH, buying a generator could be a good move for a number of contingencies. You have to make your plan with the best available knowledge and resources, make changes as necessary, and act on it at the appropriate times.

TR
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:57   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper
To me, the key point is risk awareness. TR
We are in agreement with but minor additional comments. The risk awareness has to be accompanied by:

1) realistic and achievable plans or options, and
2) a commitment, focus and follow through on the part of the decision-makers to incorporate the plan or option in the presence of an event, and
3) a regular assessment of the plans because things change.

If you don't have 1-3 risk management becomes an academic exercise and is of little practical use.
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:59   #13
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Originally Posted by The Reaper
The way we do risk assessment in the Army is to compare the likelihood to the potential severity to obtain a level of risk and then in the case of higher risk activities, attempt to mitigate it.

I strongly suspect that this was a civilian industry practice we adopted, it has its pros and cons. TR
Yes, the civilian equivalent with respect to risk management uses a formula based on ALE:

ANNUAL LOSS EXPECTANCY. ALE is the foundation of risk assessment. It is what it sounds like: how much money you expect to lose per year due to some sort of security incident. Note that this is different than the raw cost of an incident (which, remember, you should always keep as a baseline). It's actually the raw cost times the probability of an event in the next year. So the ALE of a security breach that costs $1 million and has a 40 percent chance of happening is:

Incident cost X Probability of incident = ALE
$1,000,000 X 0.4 = $400,000

From a military or non-corporate setting the "incident cost" is replaced by some other measurable variable of value.

This is the simplistic version and you can get into more complex equations, but, at least its the begining process of evaluating risk from a scientific perspective. IMHO, risk management is another tool in the box and is a process which allows you to be better prepared to function as a result of unforeen occurences. However, I've seen folks get so caught up in the process they fail to see the forest. For example, the cost of measuring the process outweighs the actual cost posed by the risk.
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Old 05-18-2006, 12:17   #14
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Sir-

I am not sure if we want to get into the manusia of preparations on this thread or keep the discussion at 10,000 ft. If this post is inappropriate please tell me and I will edit it immeaditaly.

After talking with a friend I am going to buy a second (perhaps a third too) propane tank for my grill. The grill will provide a great back up to our indoor kitchen and we will not have to cook over wood or on my backpacking stove for a longer period of time.

We have been increasing our in pantry stocks of bulk pasta, rice, tuna fish, long life cheese, soup mixes and assorted beans. We are up to about a four week supply. The time the food is going to last could easily be doubled by going to half rations early. All of this food can be packed and will fit in our car. We are cooking with the food so we are automatically rotating it for freshness. I need to add "full fat" powdered milk for my daughter and to make my "world class" wilderness mac and cheese.

We have our own well so water is not a problem for us if we have power. We need save up to get either a hand pump or a generator for the well. I need a few kerosene lamps and a gallon of kero for some old school lighting.

I am not overly worried about combat, we can defend ourselves from small unorganized threats. I have the "run like hell" plan for an organized threats but I do not see that as a big possibility.
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Old 05-18-2006, 14:00   #15
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TR --

Back home now -- whirlwind trip -- I'll update the pandemic thread when I get everything I heard clear in my mind after I sleep. I'm a bit scattered - apologies if this is stream-of-consciousness blathering.

Great thread -- the disaster analysis algorithm really focused my thoughts. The "Frequency of Occurrence" scale seems spot on.

I got a quick peek at this, must have been the 16th? and it's been in the back of my mind since. What I thought then was you should hand out tasks surrounding your list:

Breathable Air
First Aid/Medicine/Escape gear
Defense
Shelter/Warmth/Light
Water
Food/cooking
Sanitation
Commo
Power/Fuel
Tools
Transportation/Mobility
Entertainment

I have specific unresearched concerns re: warmth (it can get -20F here), fuel storage (kerosene? storage life? I have propane tanks -- 3 of those barbecue-sized jobs and a few cases of 1-pound cylinders -- how long will that last for cooking, or w/ a catalytic heater?), commo (know nothing), defense (I'm all alone, suburban location, tactically naive), sanitation (no real plan), etc.

I agree that the focus should be general preparedness, but let me give an example in the pandemic realm as that's on my mind. I've seen stats that up to 15% might die from an otherwise survivable case of the flu because of dehydration (could be saved by a simple oral rehydration solution). I spent about 4 hours on the internet and came up with "use this", "no, that's obsolete, it'll kill you", "sucrose bad, glucose good", "sucrose and Morton's Lite salt is perfectly acceptable", "only use the UNESCO packets", "dilute Gatorade 3:1 with water". If you ask them, physicians are product oriented ("use Pedialyte"). Who has the space or $$$ for the several cases of Pedialyte that might be required for a family when a simple formula would suffice.

I'd like to see us split up the load, carefully research solutions, and present options somehow -- for good/better/best, short/medium/long term, urban/suburban/rural?

I'd like to see these topics researched and presented as I did with the HTH water purification post -- a "show all your work" presentation that can be peer-reviewed by PS.com and then given a seal of approval as a prudent, non-over-the-top, inexpensive, and safe/effective option to employ. Nobody has the time to do this stuff alone. There are places on the net that try to gather this information -- some could be used as resources -- but lack of discipline and general asshattery lead to chaos and just more conflicting opinions that aren't backed up.

Nobody can do your planning for you, but some of this stuff could be doled out I'd think.

Something I saw in the airport:

“Despite Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of Louisiana and Mississippi, coastal residents have not taken steps to protect their families if a hurricane were to threaten their homes, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Sixty percent of those questioned have no disaster plan, 68 percent don’t have a hurricane survival kit and 83 percent have not taken steps to make their homes stronger, the poll said.

Also, 48 percent of people living within 30 miles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts said they don’t feel vulnerable to a hurricane, according to the survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said he is baffled by the apparent lack of concern.”


http://abcnews.go.com/US/HurricaneKa...ory?id=1970314
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