Emergency Preparedness

I'll just say this right now: I realize I'm opening myself up for ridicule here, and believe me, I don't care to be ridiculed, but I'd consider myself remiss if I didn't try to offer advice to people, leaving them open to hardship they would have suffered had I not spoken up.

As I mentioned earlier in my first post on the Tornado thread in Everything Else, I have an emergency backpack that I always have at the ready at home. I should keep another in the car, but I've been lax lately. This is a pretty comprehensive emergency pack, some of the contents are: a hatchet, strong rope, waterproof matches, a comprehensive first aid kit (I need to ratchet that up with my EMT knowledge now), iodine to purify drinking water, a folded-up rain poncho, an emergency lamp (completely sealed light that'll run for about 100-150 hours), and some other odds and ends I can't recall at the moment.

I believe in preparedness. Maybe a bit more than most people do, possibly a little on the paranoid end, but the more prepared you are the better.

I generally also keep emergency provisions on hand, roughly two weeks' worth in the event that safe food and water become unavailable (I picked that habit up after Hurricane Andrew). I've also become a bit lax on that as well.

I read up on conspiracy sites and oddball places and such, but I keep my crap-o-meter turned on to avoid jumping at every big scare that comes out of the woodwork (believe me, there are many new ones every week).

However, lately the cries of "stock up and be ready for hard times coming very soon!" have ratcheted up several big notches. We could be looking at something happening within the next few weeks or the next several months, depending on who you listen to. But it's rather eerie how unanimously those cries are becoming.

Then, this gem appears on national news: Somewhat unexpected official advise to stock up

That kinda took me off guard. Sure, we see stuff like this a lot in regard to hurricane season (especially after the last two years), but to see them coming out this blatantly kind of took me back a bit.

So I guess I'm just going to say this: I've been lax long enough, and I'm going to restock my provisions. And maybe this time I'll do it for a month's time, not just two weeks' worth. Because frankly, the world's getting a lot scarier lately, and I believe we're heading for hard times soon. Very soon. Maybe not this month, or this year, or even next year, but sooner than any of us probably realizes.

It's part of the cycle of history. Civilizations run into major crises every so often, and the US's last major crisis as a civilization was the Great Depression. My grandparents lived through that, and the stories they tell are harrowing. Hopefully it won't come to anything like that.

So here's my advice: stock up now. Those of you in Hurricane Territory know how important this is. If you wait until you NEED the stuff, you won't be able to find it, or if you do, it'll be REALLY expensive.

And really, regardless, everyone should have emergency supplies just in the event of crazy stuff happening. Every part of the world has their own disasters that can leave you on your own for weeks at a time: hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, droughts, economic crises, wars, whatever.

Stock up. Provisions for two weeks' minimum is my advice. 1 gallon of water per person per day. A fully stocked first aid kit, with anything extra you are either qualifed to use or know how to use. Waterproof matches, something to cut with like a hatchet or hacksaw, emergency light sources, a weather radio, and anything else you can think of that you could need (not want, need) in a dire emergency.

Your food provisions and water should be stored someplace secure and relatively safe; it wouldn't do you any good to put them in a spot where flooding would immediately spoil them, or something else that you could easily prevent damaging your supplies if you thought about it.

Hopefully you guys won't mock me too much; maybe rib me a bit on my paranoia, but I really am leaving solid advice for all of you. Consider how embarassing this is for me because I know that most people aren't willing to listen to this kind of stuff, and I've been mocked for my emergency-preparedness before. All I know is, when things get dicey, I feel a bit better knowing that I've done what I can to prepare as best as possible.

Someone else started a thread about buying a gun to prepare for a doomsday scenario, and I'll say this: I've thought about that a lot. I don't want a gun, I don't like having them in the house, but I know that in an anarchistic situation, that could be all that stands between me and the loss of my and my loved ones' safety. I'm still debating that step.

Everything else I can do, I intend to.

I think it's fair comment, man. Esp. for people in EUrope and bird 'flu being a scary prospect.

All of this is amusing, in a sad way, for me. I've got to have regular check ups at the hospital and, eventually, will have to have regular hospital/doctor contact and need meds/medical supplies. Come a doomsday scenario, I'm f*cked.

Given any sustained lack of water, provisions, medical supplies - I'll be one of the first wave to die. I can't retreat the mountains, wouldn't be able to survive in a forest or fend for myself. I'll be dependent on medical supplies that will be far down at the bottom of a packing list.

thx for the advice, unfortunately i live in a dinky apartment right now. so stocking up is not really an option. if major disaster strike tho, i will definitely go back to MD, since my parents have stocked up stuff. and even if they didn't, spending my last few day on earth with people i love will be worth it.

About getting a gun bit, I think it may not be necessary. I think in a catestrophy the most important thing is to not loose yourself. While keeping your loved ones safe is a important thing, I think it is more important to show them that your preserverance, and willingness to stand the storm with them. I think in those times, we all look to eachothers for guidance, so it is important to not set examples that may cause regret and pain in the future.

heh, people like me are probabaly the first to go in the event of a castrophe...

Edit: please don't take my comment as some religious preaching. I am in no way affliated to any religion. Just speaking my thoughts, honest.

Edit 2: despite my lack of space for stocking up things, I will definitely find place to stock up the "essentials" like fallout 1 & 2, and OB

I'll have to move all the plastic sheeting and duct tape from under the bed. Good news is, I only have to have about 16 hours of supplies, enough to cover me till the air in the room gives out.

Is anyone paying attention to the cumulative advice we've gotten?

Robear wrote:

I'll have to move all the plastic sheeting and duct tape from under the bed. Good news is, I only have to have about 16 hours of supplies, enough to cover me till the air in the room gives out.

Is anyone paying attention to the cumulative advice we've gotten?

Heh... the government's "advice" for emergency preparedness is generally laughable at best. Tuna and powdered milk? That's a recipe for scurvy if that's the contents of your emergency supplies.

Even if nothing big and bad happens, I still feel that my emergency preparations are perfectly reasonable and wise. You just never know. I'm not advocating anyone spend all their money, sell all their stuff, and dig themselves a concrete-and-steel reinforced emergency bunker (there have been people out there doing that, surprisingly). I just think several weeks' worth of emergency supplies is a good investment.

One very important thing: rotate your water supplies. Most of us can't afford to store water in any better of a way than in gallon jugs, and if you let those sit too long, the chemicals in the plastic start to seep into the water and make it all funky. I found that out the hard way; seems to go at different rates for some other than others. I was surprised when a case of bottled water I bought was supremely funky after only 6 months in storage. The gallon jugs from the grocery store will last at least a year, but I recommend cycling them every 6 months. Basically, stock up all the water you need, and drink from your stockpile and replace each gallon as you finish it. Keep the newest jugs in the back to ensure that none of them end up sitting and going bad from too long of a storage time.

However, lately the cries of "stock up and be ready for hard times coming very soon!" have ratcheted up several big notches. We could be looking at something happening within the next few weeks or the next several months, depending on who you listen to. But it's rather eerie how unanimously those cries are becoming.

Oh man, why did I read this thread. I'm an anxious and paranoid person in general, and after reading this thread then catching a segment on Nightline about the Bird Flu I'm starting to freak out. I mean you no offense Farscry, it is good of you to offer this advice. I'll be sure to stock up on supplies and inhalers.

This is going to sound bizarre, but you should Google "militia preparedness" and see what militia groups consider minimal for survival in a near-apocalyptic scenario. They've got some really solid information and suggestions, providing you can avoid being sucked into the conspiracy-ridden manifestos that sometimes threaten to overwhelm you. They've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this kind of thing and if it's attracted (or created) folks who are a little wonky, that's a small price to pay for getting better ideas than "stay in your home and wait for the government to save you."

Google "asteroid collision survival" if you want info on stocking up with the goal to restore humanity after the global reset button has been hit. I'm a little leery of plans that involve burying cargo containers full of seed stock, mind you. It's a great idea, certainly... but sort of difficult to get past the wife's budgetary concerns.

Boy Scouts (and possibly the Girl version as well) have a variety of manuals that demonstrate a basic level of survival skills that will be of limited use in an urban environment, but since you're likely to want to get the hell out of said environment, they should be considered a wealth of information. Plus, the original purpose of the Scouts was to use the kids as scouts in front of the regular army in a combat zone... some of that still shows in their rank requirements.

Personally, I have what friends and relatives think is an odd joke: a Zombie Action Plan. True, ZAP can be applied to pandemics, asteroid impacts and really violent social upheaval, but it's really all about the zombies. And that way, you can get ready for serious scenarios without scaring the bejeezus out of your family and/or making them think you've joined a cult. Just a little strange, which likely we all already qualify as. I even picked up zombieactionplan.com, because someday it's going to seem prophetic. Damn zombies.

When the bird flu pandemic hits (not if, when), you'll either survive or not, you have to be somewhat fatalistic about it. A few weeks of supplies might mean you'll last a bit longer, but in the end it'll come down to luck anyways.

You may be right about the imminence of it, as I'm about to finally pay off all of my credit card death. Surely that can mean aonly bad things on a global scale.

While I fully understand and respect your basic mindset, bird flu is not the danger you are preparing against.

So far, there have been less than ten known lethal cases of H5N1 on humans - and that's worldwide. The virus can not feasibly be transported via your food (unless you do not cook your chicken), which only leaves direct contact to bird carcasses - something I feel safe in assuming most of us don't have on a daily basis - or their body fluids. Kissed any cockerels lately? No? You're good, then.

Really, the whole scare is based on the possibility that H5N1 might mutate into something our immune system can not cope with. I don't deny that danger, but good god, there are several really mean plagues out there as-is. Just compare the amount of AIDS deaths in Europe to H5N1 victim numbers during the relevant timeframe. Why everyone freaks out over the latter and takes the former as a given, I do not know.

NemesisZero wrote:

While I fully understand and respect your basic mindset, bird flu is not the danger you are preparing against.

You are, indeed, correct. I personally don't believe it is the bird flu that's going to be the problem.

Any of a number of things could be the issue that pops up: massive weather disaster, major terrorist attack (especially if it targeted our food supplies), or heavy civil unrest (not that likely just yet).

Me, I'm of the mind that we have yet to deal with the real economic depression that's very possibly imminent. The biggest problem is that, in such an instance, demand will increase exponentially as people panic, prices will rise as retailers gouge customers (er, I mean, as prices rise in an attempt to control demand), and just getting enough food on the table could be problematic. Not impossible, just very difficult.

My intent is to have supplies to help with the initial survival period against any disaster that takes away my ability to go get food and water, including a depression. Certainly, this won't help against a sustained, long-term catastrophe, but at least could buy me and my loved ones time to figure out how to cope with the results of whatever happened.

Sure, you can go hog-wild like the extreme survivalists, burying tons of food, seed, and the like, but I just can't justify that (heck, I don't even have the means for that!). I figure 2-4 weeks' worth is a healthy balance between what everyone should have and enough to satisfy my paranoia.

And again, Luna in particular, I'm not here to scaremonger. I just want to make sure everyone's at least had the opportunity to think about this stuff and perhaps prepare.

I figure the government officially saying something means that they have an inkling that something bad could be coming, and are just trying to cover their backs so after the fact they can claim they warned us.

NemesisZero wrote:

While I fully understand and respect your basic mindset, bird flu is not the danger you are preparing against.

So far, there have been less than ten known lethal cases of H5N1 on humans - and that's worldwide. The virus can not feasibly be transported via your food (unless you do not cook your chicken), which only leaves direct contact to bird carcasses - something I feel safe in assuming most of us don't have on a daily basis - or their body fluids. Kissed any cockerels lately? No? You're good, then.

Really, the whole scare is based on the possibility that H5N1 might mutate into something our immune system can not cope with. I don't deny that danger, but good god, there are several really mean plagues out there as-is. Just compare the amount of AIDS deaths in Europe to H5N1 victim numbers during the relevant timeframe. Why everyone freaks out over the latter and takes the former as a given, I do not know.

Just look at the whole spin the media put on the SARS "epidemic" that occured in Toronto and you can see why people freak out about bird flu. The media blows these things out of proportion to help generate ratings. What was the actual total deaths of inviduals from SARS in Tornoto? Anywhere close to what the media had people lead to believe? Before that it was the coming of the year 2000 and every single electronic device would explode and the world was going to be plunged back into the dark ages. People were withdrawing money from their bank accounts so they did not lose it when the bank's computers internal clocks hit 2000. News stations interviewed "Y2K Survival Experts" who predicted the end of the known world and what you should do to survive it. Sensalized news designed to play up one of the baser human emotions (fear) to keep people watching.

I am not knocking being prepared for a disaster and consider it smart planning myself. I am only knocking the whole bird flu pandemic that everyone believes is coming. More people die from the normal flu, bacteral infections, and pneumonia individually every year than from bird flu.

I believe the answer lies in the virus itself. All viri are bad at copying themselves, which makes them really good at evolving... even if the act of evolution might not be such a fine plan for the viri. H5N1 seems to be particularly bad at copying itself and the world agencies who are experts at this sort of thing seem to think it's merely a matter of time before it evolves the ability to transfer via human contact. Apparently, early on in it's identified "life" bird flu couldn't jump out of birds at all, at least not in any sort of meaningful, virulent way.

The difference between HIV and bird flu is you can take steps to protect yourself from HIV and it doesn't kill you inside of a couple of weeks, meaning you might last long enough for a cure/preventative to be found. If bird flu starts spreading like influenza, that's going to make HIV seem almost petty (with all due compassion to anyone suffering HIV). You could likely go for hours as to why bird flu is scaring people more than HIV, but it seems to me like HIV is a disease that many people feel immune to, based solely on their choice of lifestyle. "Yeah, that sucks for them, but it can't rot me from the inside out!" I keep waiting for someone to make what I would consider to be a fantastic bumper sticker that says "God hates birds."

Having said that, there are certainly other scary bugs running loose, but frankly, anything that raises awareness and preparedness (not fear and panic) is worth the notice it's getting. Perhaps not a good thing if it costs research time towards other, far more lethal diseases, but I don't see anyone complaining about that yet.

SwampYankee wrote:

You may be right about the imminence of it, as I'm about to finally pay off all of my credit card death.

That's an amusing typo. I've lots of credit card death I'm trying to pay down as well!

/hijack

So far, there have been less than ten known lethal cases of H5N1 on humans - and that's worldwide. The virus can not feasibly be transported via your food (unless you do not cook your chicken), which only leaves direct contact to bird carcasses - something I feel safe in assuming most of us don't have on a daily basis - or their body fluids. Kissed any cockerels lately? No? You're good, then.
Really, the whole scare is based on the possibility that H5N1 might mutate into something our immune system can not cope with. I don't deny that danger, but good god, there are several really mean plagues out there as-is.

I wrote a long detailed post on this some time ago. Maybe I will dig it up.

The bird flu as it stands is not very dangerous to humans, because it's so hard to get. You have to have direct contact with the bird's innards or feces. There has been spreading from bird to human in some countries where they have more direct contact with their livestock. Like, their chickens live in their living rooms. Two kids in Turkey caught it from playing with a duck head like a ball, tossing it back and forth to each other.

The danger is that it will mutate to a form that can be passed from human to human. That would be bad, really bad. Because, at least in it's current form it's very deadly once you get it. It has been killing about 50% of people that get it. If it was here, it would probably be less because we have better healthcare, and we would have fewer cases. Maybe zero.

If it DID mutate into a form that was passable from person to person, there is a good chance that it would become less deadly, like the Flu of 1918 (also a mutated bird flu) that killed millions of people only killed about 5% of people that got it. The problem was that it killed heathly adults, where most flu strains only kill the young/old/weak. So it was truly like rolling the dice. Then, they weren't able to produce a vaccine, which we would have in about 6 months.

So even worst case scenario we're not looking at a doomsday scenario like The Stand. That doctor saying it's going to wipe out 50% of the population seems a bit of a crackpot to me. Where is does make sense for stockpiling stuff is that if/when the flu hits, they are going to promote social isolation. Meaning, don't leave your house. So this presents a whole list of problems. No working, which probably means no money. No gas once the tanks are dry. No one at Taco Bell to sell you a burrito, etc.

This is nightly conversation at the Dogg House, since my wife has a Masters in Public Health and she's working at our county health department. They are well prepared for this eventuality. If it goes person to person, they are expecting 35% of the population to get sick and slightly less than 5% of those people dying. So, 1.75% of the country.

But there is a pretty good chance that it won't ever jump to people. Or if it does, you might just get a runny nose or something.

Having said that, there are certainly other scary bugs running loose, but frankly, anything that raises awareness and preparedness (not fear and panic) is worth the notice it's getting. Perhaps not a good thing if it costs research time towards other, far more lethal diseases, but I don't see anyone complaining about that yet.

I think the reason that you don't hear people suffering from more lethal diseases complaining is because they are the minority.
I remember attending a Red Cross conference where a group representing people that suffer from MS came and did a talk. Appearantly there are known methods to treat MS, but because there are so few people ( "only" few 10s of thousand...) the drug companies doesn't want to put the R&D and manufacturing dollars on developing the drugs needed.

So far the mutations of the avian influenza isn't that infectious in humans yet, and no cases of human to human infection of this virus has been reported. But if the virus mutates to become highly contagious to humans then i say we need to move to Canada right a way. Why? Because they are better prepared then US is right now. ( We can spend billions on bombing people, but not millions on stock piling drugs and vaccines... sigh)

Uberstein wrote:
SwampYankee wrote:

You may be right about the imminence of it, as I'm about to finally pay off all of my credit card death.

That's an amusing typo. I've lots of credit card death I'm trying to pay down as well!

/hijack

Jesus, how Fruedian was that?!?

JimmDogg wrote:

But there is a pretty good chance that it won't ever jump to people. Or if it does, you might just get a runny nose or something.

Well researched post, thank you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the highest likeliness for successful contagious mutation is in 'underdeveloped' countries - again, because there is a higher general contact between human and lifestock there. Seeing the current state of public awareness, we'd likely see quarantine measures at any airport or other potential point of access for a vector within hours of an outbreak, so it's well possible that even the mutation would never make it out of its area of origin in any meaningful way.

I'm with Farscry on this. At least in theory. It will probably come as no surprise to some that I've maintained a disaster kit for some time. It's sometimes more well-stocked than at other times, but the essentials are always there. Right now, actually, I am way understocked, having dumped most of my water when I moved a year ago and broken into the beans when my last paycheck bounced Thanks for the reminder that I need to get to the store.

The nation's emergency response system (since we've had a national emergency response system) has been designed around a two-week timeframe. This is based on the fact that nuclear fallout has been estimated to dissipate to safe levels after two weeks. It's also about the amount of time it takes to mobilize and distribute emergency supplies over a wide area. If the area affected is large, this could take substantially longer. Planning for two - four weeks, therefore is a pretty good idea.

The thing to remember is that it's practically impossible for us modern humans to survive in modern America without the support infrastructure to which we've become accustomed. Unless you've been trained or have experience in wilderness survival, you will not outlast a complete breakdown of civilization. Planning for one, therefore, would be fruitless. Instead, plan on a far more likely scenario: a temporary breakdown in infrastructure. Take a hard look at the bare minumum of food and necessities you would need to survive for two weeks, keep in mind that your utilities may well be out, and plan accordingly. Food, water, candles, batteries a deck of cards, etc. And try not to freak out.

Great post, Fletcher; that's pretty much where I'm heading with this stuff. I'm actually rather surprised how many people here are either open or already thinking about emergency preparedness.

As I mentioned, the first time I really ever gave this stuff serious thought was after Hurricane Andrew, when we not only had no power for a week, but no plumbing for the first day (don't ask; that was nasty, but fortunately it was a local pumping station that was fixed relatively quickly) and we couldn't even get out of our immediate area for about three days due to downed trees and powerlines.

Since Katrina confirmed just how bad things can get after one disaster and how long they can stay that way, my need for emergency preparedness was rekindled.

Who knows what'll happen (if anything), but it's better to be ready than not.

With all these good information, I think we should compile a "GWJ Survival guide and Disaster FAQ" book or something. I can honestly say that I have learned a lot from reading all the posts here, and I am sure more useful stuff will come up in the future too.

My emergency preparedness kit is a Mossberg shotgun, a box of shells, and an instruction guide with the word "LOOT" written in large block letters. I'm all set!