Homesteading and Survivalism

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Tag: disaster preparedness

What kind of disaster are you prepping for

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There is an interesting thread in the forum that got me to thinking; that thread is what are you truly prepping for?  What kind of disaster are you preparing for?  Are you prepping for an outbreak of a new disease, long term civil unrest, nuclear war,,, or something else?

My personal opinion, as long as you and your family are prepping, at least you are going in the right direction.  The difference is the degree of readiness.

I can not tell you what to prep for.  All I can do is tell you how my family and I are prepping.

My long term survival plans include food production, safe drinking water and property protection.

Food Production

Raising chickens for a long term survival situationDuring the Black Death of 1348 – 1350 starvation probably killed as many people as the bubonic plague.  Modern society is based on farms and modern transportation.  Where would our grocery stores be without trucks, fuel and highways?

Just like the city dwellers of the middle ages, city dwellers of today depend on farmers, roads, transportation and merchants to maintain a steady supply of food to the cities.  If just one or two items in the supply line break down, people will go hungry.  When people get hungry, society breaks down.

Lets say you went to the grocery store tomorrow and the shelves were empty, what would you do?  What is your long term food solution?

A lot of survivalist plan on bugging out to the wilderness.  I do not subscribe to that long term survival theory.

If you want to bug out somewhere, why not bug out to a rural location where you can plant crops and raise livestock?  Would you rather be scavenging acorns to make acorn flour, or picking peaches and plums off fruit trees?  Would you rather be scavenging for berries, or picking peas and snap beans?  Would you rather be digging roots, or digging potatoes?

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Disaster Preparedness Manuals

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Disaster Preparedness Manuals, also known as survival manuals are often overlooked by preppers and survivalist. There is a wealth of information out there, but you have to have the books in hand for them to do you any good.

Over the past few weeks I picked up 6 new disaster preparedness manuals:

Homeland security field guide
Quick Series guide to public health emergencies
Quick Series emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities and medical conditions
Janes Chem-bio handbook
Chickens by Dereck Hall

I also have Chickens for Dummies on the way, it should be here next week.

Homeland Security Field GuideHomeland Security Field Guide, a pocket reference for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) & terrorism response:

One thing that stands out about this manual, the different sections have tabs that you can see without having to open the book. Need information about decon, find the decon tab, open the book to that section.

102 pages

Categories include:

First in response
Command considerations
Chemical agent response
Radiological response
Biological agent response
Explosives
Decontamination procedures
Reference material

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Texas starts their Disaster Preparedness campaign

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The Texas Department of State Health Services along with state and local officials today launched this year’s Ready or Not? multilingual public education campaign to encourage Texans to prepare for emergencies.

“Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado or flood, a disaster can strike when we least expect it, and we want people to be prepared,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “We’re one month into hurricane season, but it’s not too late to put together a plan.”

Ready or Not? or ¿Estás Listo? in Spanish uses radio, television, newspaper and online advertising; community outreach events; and its websites to encourage every Texan to create an emergency plan now. The goal is to help Texans be ready to respond to, and recover from, any natural or man made disaster.

This year’s launch took place at the Island Community Center in Galveston with local officials presenting information about how to prepare. The Galveston event also marked the kickoff of the 15-city Ready of Not? community outreach tour.

The yearlong Ready or Not? campaign focuses on three key elements: family, essentials and information.

Family – Talk with everyone in your family about your emergency plan. Know where your family will meet if you have to evacuate. Include elderly neighbors and people with disabilities who may depend on you for help. Have a list of emergency contacts. And remember your pets.

Essentials. Make a shopping list of essential items you need. Store those emergency supplies in one place. Put copies of all essential documents – driver’s license or passport, insurance policies, health cards and prescriptions – in a waterproof bag.

Information – Know how to get information in an emergency. Have a battery-operated radio on hand with plenty of fresh batteries.

Ready or Not? partners include local emergency management officials, community based organizations with emergency preparedness and response/recovery roles, and other grassroots organizations.

The website at www.TexasPrepares.org or www.TexasPrepara.org offers people a way to build a custom plan step by step. Those without Internet access may dial 2-1-1 for help finding local sites that offer free Internet access.

The Ready or Not? community outreach tour will hold 18 events in 15 cities this summer beginning today in Galveston. Additional stops are planned throughout the month of July in Pasadena, Port Arthur, Beaumont, Lufkin, League City, Tyler, Houston, Bay City, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen and San Antonio. Each free event will feature a 20-foot by 20-foot tent filled with informational displays, sample disaster supply kits and an interactive kiosk where visitors can begin or continue their emergency planning.

The Ready or Not? campaign will run through August 2011.

Snow knocked out power to small town in East Texas

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jasper texas snowOn December 4th, 2009 East Texas received an early (and unexpected snowstorm).  It was not really a “snowstorm”, as compared to what the northern states get, more like some snow flurries.  But for East Texas, an area that rarely gets snow, it was more like a snow storm.  In all, may 1/4 inch of snow fell.

On the morning of December 5th, some of the residents of Kirbyville Texas woke up to no electricity.  This seems like a good time to discuss to your life revolves around electricity and being connected to the grind.

Lets do a quick self evaluation:

Can you cook without electricity? Some people are so connected to the grid that they can not even cook a simple meal without electricity.  Have a small camp stove – either propane or liquid fuel – on hand to be able to cook during power outages.  Maybe consider converting your home stove to either propane or natural gas.  Get an outdoor grill – these can be used for cooking outside during the summer time, and cooking when the electricity goes out.

jasper texas snowCan you stay warm without electricity? Some people have no way to heat their homes without electricity.  If this is your case, consider getting a kerosene space heater.  If your home stove uses propane or natural gas, the top burners can be turned on to heat part of the house – but be very, very careful with exposed flames.  Some people will turn on their oven, and then crack the door to allow the heat to escape.

Do you have a private water well? In rural areas its common for people to have their own private water well.  When the power goes off, their water supply also gets cut off.  There are several fixes to this problem – such as a hand powered water pump, solar pumps,,,,.  But one option is a type of air forced water well.  This is where the water is forced out of the well and into a holding tank using a air compressor.  When the power goes out, the holding tank has a certain amount of water in it – depending on the size of the tank.

Most people that live in the north – dealing with winter storms is probably a fact of life.  Kinda like dealing with the heat is a way of life in the south.  So if anything was skipped in this article, please post your comments in the Winter Storm Preparedness thread of the forums.

Generators and disaster preparedness

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Picking the right generator to power your house during a power outage can be a tricky job. If your serious about getting the right generator for the job, then its time to call in a professional. For this video, Billy Williford of Doug Williford & Son AC and Heating was interviewed. Billy installs Generac generators in the Jasper, Texas area. So if you need a generator, and live in Southeast Texas, give Billy a call at 409-384-5458.

Instead of having to worry about storing gasoline, consider getting a generator that runs off of Propane or Natural Gas. During power outages, gas stations do not have a way to pump gas out of the underground storage tanks. After hurricanes, uprooted trees have the chance of pulling up buried natural gas lines. But with propane, it will stay stored for years.

Post your comments in this thread of the disaster preparedness forum.

Hurricane season and disaster preparedness plans

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June 1 starts off the 2009 Hurricane season. For those of you that live in areas that might be affected by a hurricane, now is the time to make sure your plans and supplies are in place. Lets just review some basic disaster preparedness plans.

Have a primary and a backup evacuation route. This includes everything from interstate highways to country back roads. Drive these roads every once in awhile – check on construction zones and slow areas. If the traffic is slow during rush hour, its going to be at a dead stop (or barely moving) during an evacuation.

Have enough food and water for double to triple the number of people in your house right now, for at least 1 week (7 days). If you live 100+ miles inland, you might have to receive friends or family members that are evacuating from the coastal area. Do not depend on evacuees to bring their own food – most do – some don’t.

Have a way to cook without electricity. This is where a lot of people fail to plan. A simple camp stove – liquid fuel or propane – will do the job just fine. On a personal note, I prefer my pull behind bar-b-q pit with a 6 feet 9 inch long and 29 inches across grill.

Have some air mattresses on hand. These are for evacuees to bring with them and for the people receiving the evacuees. Sleeping on an air mattress is a lot better then sleeping on the floor. Be sure to have a way to inflate the air mattress.

Have some extra pillows and blankets – these go with the air mattress.

Hand crank flashlights

Hand crank flashlights

Make sure every member of the family has their own flashlight. Some of the best ones to hand out are the hand crank dynamo powered units. That way there is no need in worrying about batteries.

Hand crank battery powered lanterns could be placed in the bathrooms.  That way people do not have to have to try to hold their flashlight and do their business at the same time.  Be sure the lanterns are positioned so that the light is reflected by the bathroom mirrors.

Instead of dynamo powered flashlights, solar powered sidewalk lights work well in bathrooms. Either option will help eliminate the fire hazard posed by kerosene lanterns and candles.

Communications – be sure to have the cell phone and home phone number of everyone you might need to call. Usually, right before a hurricane makes landfall the telephone company will be overloaded – as friends and family members are calling each other.

2 days before Hurricane Rita made landfall, cell phone and home circuits were overloaded. Because the phone systems might be overloaded, its important to have some kind of backup communications – such as email, instant messenger program, posting in a forum,,,,.

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Becoming complacent with disaster preparedness

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As Hurricane Rita was making its way through the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, the projected path was towards the Houston and Galveston, Texas area. An evacuation was called for parts of Harris and Galveston counties.  Which is where the cities of Houston and Galveston are located.

The way evacuations are “supposed” to work, the areas that are nearest the Gulf of Mexico are evacuated first.  Which is Galveston, and lower Harris county.  That is how its supposed to work in theory.  In reality, how does one of the largest cities in the USA evacuate? They dont.  There were stories of people spending 18+ hours on the highway and not even going 10 miles.

There are 2 major highways going north out of Houston – HWY 59 and HWY 45.  Going east and west, there is Interstate 10, 1960, old HWY 90 and 105.  HWY 105 is north of the Houston area.  It goes from Beaumont, through Cleveland, Conroe and finally hits HWY 6.

On a typical day, its pretty much bumper to bumper on all of those roads.  But an evacuation is not a “typical” day.  Traffic ground to a dead stop as millions of people tried to flee Hurricane Rita.  Untold numbers of people gave up on the evacuation, turned around, went back home and were ready to accept whatever fate awaited them.

When Hurricane Rita neared the coast, the point of projected landfall was moved to the east – from Galveston to the Sabine Pass area.  The evacuations for Galveston and Houston were canceled and people returned to their homes.  A few months after Rita made landfall, there were questions as to why an evacuation was even called for the residents of Houston.  There seemed to be a backlash of anger towards the City Government.  People were frustrated that they were stuck in traffic for hours- and for nothing.

In August of 2008, Hurricane Ike formed in the Atlantic ocean.   Even though the projected path changed several times, Ike finally made landfall in Galveston, Texas.  This time, there was no evacuation like what had happened with Hurricane Rita.

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World Health Organization releases information on Swine Flu

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The World Health Organization has posted a Swine Flu questions and answers PDF file on their website. Some of the information that the file covers – What is swine influenza, What are the implications for human health, Where have human cases occurred,,, and several other key points.

Go on over to the Swine influenza page on the World Health Organization website and download the file.

Our fragile infrastructure

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If memory serves me right, sometime around 1998 somone in the Atlanta, Georgia was using a tractor with a post hole digger to put in a new fence.  The post hole digger cut through a major fiber optic line that provided service to Atlanta, Georgia and several outlying areas.

Estimates at the time were that about 250,000 people did not have phone or internet for about half a day.

On April 8th or 9th, Vandals cut four fiber optic lines.  Which caused a phone and internet outage for AT&T and Verizon users in the south Bay Area and Central Coast.

The infrastructure of the USA is about as fragile as it can get. When a couple of vandals can cut a fiber optic line, and shut down businesses across a whole state – something is wrong. This is a good example of how ill prepared this nation is for a real disaster.

On a side note, someone from youtube sent me this video with the following message – Government Test Run Folks!!! Meaning, that some people think that the government is doing stuff like this to see how people will respond to some kind of disaster. Or to see how people will respond to lack of communication with the outside world.

Not only has communications been shutdown, but ATM machines do not work, credit card machines do not work. Every day life has been disrupted with this one act.

Good quality ice chest

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After a disaster – such as a hurricane – part of the relief efforts usually include bottled water, MREs or canned goods and ice. The ice is supposed to help people preserve their cold or frozen foods. But, this ice is of little good if the person getting the supplies to does have a good quality ice chest.

It has been in my experience that Rubbermaid brand is almost the bottom of the bucket. I have taken a 34 quart Rubbermaid ice chest, put a couple of bags of ice in it. And the next day just about all of the ice is melted.

On the other hand, Coleman and Igloo both offer quality solutions. One of my ice chest includes a 128 quart Igloo 5 day. Your supposed to be able to be able to put ice in it, and when kept in the shade the ice is supposed to last 5 days.

Back in June of 2008 a buddy of mine got married at the beach. My wife and I loaded up the truck, hooked up the bar-b-q pit and headed to the beach to take part in the wedding. In the back of my truck was an Igloo 128 quart ice chest full of ice, drinks and a couple of frozen gallons of water. We got to the beach friday evening. The Igloo 5 day extreme ice chest was in the back of my truck all weekend, in direct sunlight and day time temps were in the mid 90’s. Sunday, when my wife and I loaded up to go home, there was still ice in the chest.

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Types of Survivalist

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After watching the types of people that join the Survivalist Forum, there seems to be at least 4 different groups:

Hoarders – the people that stock up on everything – food, water, canned goods, beans, rice, MREs,,,.  These are the people that have hundreds  or even thousands of canned or dried food products.

Some of the plans that hoarders have may include storing several years worth of food.  Some of those plans seem to go like this – vacuum seal food products, such as flour, rice, beans, wheat,,,, and then put the packages into 5 gallon buckets, or into air tight containers.

Gardeners – the people that have gardens.  People in this type of group usually stock up on seeds, garden tools, books on gardening and fertilizer.

This group includes the organic gardener and the person who uses commercial fertilizer.

Combination of the two – People that stock up on prepared foods, but also have garden.

On a personal note, I consider a combination of the hoarder and gardener to be the best prepared.  They have enough food stocks to respond to an immediate need.  And then they have access to a renewable food source – their garden and extra seeds.

Some people find comfort knowing that they have a zillion cans of spam. Others find comfort knowing they have enough seeds for at least 3 years of gardens.  And some people find comfort somewhere been the two.

And lastly, there is the militant survivalist. Their comfort is that they have an AR15 or AK47 and several cases of ammo.  This is probably the least prepared group.

Most (not all) of these people envision hordes of looters swarming the streets after society breaks down.  People  in this group may even subscribe to the “Backpack” or “Bug Out Bag” type of mind set.  If there is an outbreak of some kind of plague, some of the people in this group plan on grabbing their family, “heading to the hills” and living a primitive life style.

FEMA camp myths

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It seems that ever since Hurricane Katrina there has been a of misinformation going around as to what FEMA really does.

Lets just set the record straight right now – FEMA is here to help people, not throw them in some type of FEMA prison camp.

The law makers in congress have setup a government agency that tries to help people in areas affected by a disaster.  Most of the time, the relief efforts are composed of – food, water, and temporary shelter. After Hurricane Rita hit the Southeast Texas area I got to see “some” of what FEMA does.  There was an immediate response of MRES, donated canned foods, ice and bottled water brought into the affected areas.

After Hurricane Ike, it became very clear as to what FEMA is designed to do. Bridge City Texas was flooded by the storm surge of Hurricane Ike.

The families there lucky (or blessed) – only  got about 4, 5 or even 9 feed of saltwater, mixed with marsh mud in their houses.

The families that were not so lucky – their houses were destroyed by a combination of storm surge and wind damage.

Thousands of families in Bridge City had nowhere to go.  People were living in tents, or in RVs and some families left Bridge City to go live with relatives.  Out of several thousand homes, only about 12 had not been flooded.  FEMA has been working for months to fix that problem.

Hurricane Ike destroyed home

Hurricane Ike destroyed home

After Hurricane Ike made landfall in September of 2008, FEMA has brought in hundreds of temporary homes.  A lot of These mobile homes were setup in front of peoples houses. Open fields were turned into so called “FEMA camps”.

Here are some pictures of FEMA trailers in Bridge City, Texas.

fema camp trailers

FEMA trailer park in Bridge City, Texas

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Hand crank flashlights

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Three weeks after the power has gone out, and all of the batteries are dead, survivalist will be glad that they invested into some kind of hand crack flashlight – also called a dynamo powered flashlight. Whether its a type of lantern, or flashlight, it does not matter, these things are good to have around.

Hand crack flashlights

Hand crank lantern

The basic principle of a hand crank lantern is that it does not need batteries. Even though these devices say they do not “require batteries”, they have a couple of AA rechargeable batteries to store the charge. A few cranks of the handle is enough to charge the batteries for for several minutes of light.

Some of these flashlights / lanterns have a built in radio. However, with the radio on, the batteries can go dead rather quickly. Most of these types of combo units (lanterns with built in radios) have very limited range and may not be able to pick up even near by radio stations. So do not consider these as a primary radio.

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