Thursday, April 19, 2012

What to do with Neighbors?

Today's post is about neighbors.  It poses the question of what to do with your neighbors in a SHTF scenario.  Each of us will have different answers based upon our individual situation.

If there was a disaster of some sort that left the area isolated from help for any time, or even if the occurrence made it appear as if you would be isolated, what is going to happen to your neighbors?  I'll assume you have a plan (or at least an idea) of what you would do if something bad happened, but does your plan incorporate the nearby residents?  Even if you have no inclination to help them, you can't discount their effect on your plans.

There are several types of neighbors you have right now.  There are, of course, many more, but these are good for our illustration.  Here are some personalities:

1. Problem children (police are often there, frequent unfriendly behavior)
2. Needy (elderly living alone, disabled, single mom with kid(s))
3. "Normal" family (mom, dad, kids)
4. Unknown (secretive, quiet, new, just don't know them)

Problem children should never be underestimated.  Are they drug users likely to explode if they go any extended period of time without their fix?  Maybe they are just obnoxious blowhards that aren't really a threat.  Do undesirable individuals come and go constantly; maybe there are a few extras at the location when the SHTF event occurs adding to your woes.

Needy neighbors are just that, in need of extra help.  They may be very nice, but how long will they last if their routine is interrupted?  Maybe it's a mom with kids that are just old enough to stay at home alone for a couple hours.  Was mom there when SHTF?  Are the kids home alone?  Do you have an elderly or disabled neighbor that relies on electricity for medical needs (oxygen, battery charger for devices).  Do you have any plans to help them out without request or if they knock on your door?  Do you turn away your neighbor that might die without electricity when your generator is running and powering your house?

Do your "normal" neighbors have any plans or abilities to survive on their own?  Do they have anything stored up, or will they become "problem children" when dad realizes this is for real and he can't feed his kids.

Take a moment to evaluate the neighbors you know nothing about.  If at all possible, try to contact them now, just to say "hi" and have a conversation or invite them to a BBQ this summer.  Removing as much of the unknown factors as possible before there is a problem will help you a lot when making your plans.

What other types of neighbors to you have and how will they react if they are isolated from their electricity, daily grocery store trips, or any other outside world contacts?  You won't always be right in your assumptions, but if you have thought of this before hand, you will at least have some sort of plan to give them food, access to power via your generator, or something more drastic if the need arises.

So... WWYD with your neighbors in a SHTF scenario?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Social Unrest

A mindset important to survival is not just reacting to what happens, but paying attention to what is going on around you and being prepared for things that are not only possible, but are probable and predictable.  To be safe and secure you need to be aware of what is happening in your local area, your state, our nation and in the world around us. 

Here's the story behind the scenario for today's WWYD:

Last year the state welfare office in Atlanta had a glitch that caused food stamps to be issued late.  People weren't told they were getting no more assistance, they were told that there was a snafu and they would be a DAY LATE.  Many people lined up outside the office demanding THEIR benefits.  A couple of people told the news crew that they and their kids hadn't eaten all day because they didn't get their food stamp money.  For more details on this incident here's the news clip:Food Stamps Late

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding the mindset of these individuals:
-the government benefits are theirs and they didn't get their money like they deserve
-they apparently don't have one child's meal worth of extra food in their house, nor the means to buy a 50 cent Cup-O-Noodles at the grocery store.

Today's WWYD:

Your state is having financial troubles and sometime in the near future declares bankruptcy expecting the federal government to clean up behind them.  OR The state employees go on strike and don't show up to work.  In either case, the machine breaks down and state monies aren't disbursed.  The welfare/food stamp crowd from this major city shows up at the office because their debit cards aren't credited their allotted amount and now their family can't eat.  There is no one to complain to because the state office is closed.  A riot breaks out.  The office is destroyed, but the crowd is not satisfied because they still can't eat.  They head to a nearby grocery store where looting commences. The crowd grows as people see an opportunity to run off with everything from a local megamart.  The sentiment spreads throughout the city and now there are several riots in various places.

You live nearby, WWYD?
-Bug out, assuming a large mob can't be stopped as police are overwhelmed and stay away? (see Rodney King riots)  Do you have a place to go and a plan on what to take and what to leave?
-Bug in, assuming your house will be bypassed or you can fend off a large, angry crowd?  What's your plan for defense, not only from people, but also fire supression from Molotov slingers?

You work nearby, WWYD?
-At what point to you head out towards home to get away?  Do you have various routes planned in case one is blocked? Do you have a way to stay at work and keep safe?

Bonus WWYD:

You have been paying attention to the news and know that they money won't be coming, so you have a couple days notice that something might happen.  WWYD to prepare?

Road Trip

Here's the scenario: You're going to drive for about a 1000 miles through mountainous terrain. There's still snow up in them-thar hills... WWYD?

I'm getting ready to head to see my in-laws for a week. My wife and I will be driving instead of flying this year as the cost to fly is ridiculous. It's almost a thousand miles to their place and we'll be driving over two mountain ranges.

Not wanting to end up a statistic like that poor family a few years back...I've got food, water, wool blankets, extra clothing (specifically WINTER clothing), first aid supplies, fire-making supplies, shelter material (a tarp and some paracord), a hand-held GPSr, and a real honest-to-goodness road atlas. Just in case the GPSr craps out.

Mind you, I'm not planning on taking a shortcut or leaving the main road...but you never know. Like I said in the earlier post. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Her folks know we are driving down, they know when we should arrive. My neighbor who is house-sitting knows when we are supposed to return. If we don't show up on either leg of the journey...someone will know that something isn't right.  It's always good to have people know when and where you are supposed to be.

What would you do?

What would you take?

What would you say is the most important thing to have in the vehicle?

Have a great weekend. If I get a chance I'll try to update the blog while I'm on vacation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weather: Hope for the best...prepare for the worst

I live in the Pacific Northwet. Errr...sorry...I mean the Pacific Northwest. Essentially that means it can rain on you even if the weatherman says it's going to be a nice day. may even snow on you. You just never know.

With that being said, I work in an office building. We have two fire-drills a year. They take on average about 30-45 minutes to conduct. One in October, and then one in April. Those aren't the best months of the year here. People know this. It's not a secret. But you'd be amazed at how many times I've found myself outside, in the rain, with all of my coworkers who are shivering and all crowding under one umbrella. Me? I'm the 'weird' guy in the jacket with an umbrella. And my backpack. Just in case it's not a drill. If the building goes up in flames...guess what? I'm heading home with all of my stuff.

It baffles me. Seriously. I have my jacket hanging on the back of my chair. I have my backpack under my desk. As soon as I hear the alarm I grab my backpack, throw on my jacket and head down the stairs with the rest of the group. It's not rocket science. It doesn't even take me more than 30 seconds to do that. If I don't need the jacket? Guess what? I take it off! *sigh* Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox now.

What I'm getting at is that the people I work with are just not prepared. For anything.

WWYD? If the fire alarm went off in your building right now, what would you do? Take your stuff? Leave it behind? Depending on where you live it might be cold, warm, tornado season, etc. You need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Get a dollar-store poncho. Put it in your purse/backpack/briefcase. Throw in some gloves. A fleece beanie. Even a cheapo umbrella. (If you live in a warmer climate throw in a sun hat. And a bottle of water.) People may look at you weird seeing you carrying around things you aren't wearing...but they'll sure be jealous when you're standing outside in a light snow waiting for the Fire Department to let you back into your building.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book(s) Review: Deep Winter by Thomas Sherry

For a while now I have been on a reading kick of dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels.   I thought it might be a good idea to review a few of them focusing on the ones that contain useful information for survival situations.

Since I just finished reading the trio, I thought it a good idea to start with Deep Winter.  Let me preface my review by saying I enjoyed the story quite a bit.  I have several criticisms of the books, but overall I was drawn in and found myself reading the book even a few pages at a time when I had only a few minutes.

Thomas Sherry wrote a trilogy of books titled Deep Winter; the first- Deep Winter, the second- Shatter, the third- Remnant. The books deal with a family in a disaster scenario and how they survive.  The series moves progressively through a family and its neighborhood surviving, to rebuilding a devastated county, then into some country-wide structuring.   During the course of the story the protagonist and his family are put through a devastating earthquake, global pandemic, volcanic eruption, roving bands of criminals, economic collapse, rogue local and national politicians, global war, global nuclear war, and civil war.  All of that and I may have missed a calamity, I'm not sure.

Some previous reviewers have found tedium in the minutia presented by the author, especially in the first book.   Deep Winter is a book of survival instructions thinly veiled as a story.  The author walks us through how to live during hard times mainly by focusing on the "things" needed to get along in life.  He also presents some tactics for safety and defense as you try to go about your daily life without the standard infrastructure we have all become accustomed to.  The main character relies on his family, his faith, his knowledge, and his vast array of "stuff" stored on his property to get him and his neighborhood and friends through the situations.

Shatter takes place after the majority of the disasters have befallen the United States.  The main character helps the larger community drag themselves out of the situations presented.  In this book there are fewer technical details of individual survival and more of the broader "community organization" and how to get an area back on its feet.  Lots more politics dwell within as the focus in on the county more than the immediate neighborhood.  Also presented are some of the longer term possibilities without infrastructure (medical and manufacturing shortcomings as examples).

Remnant follows Shatter by seeing our hero (having moved from community survivalist into county restructuring) jump to military leader.  Most of the book focuses on a military unit as it moves across the country trying to help communities rebuild themselves in the face of civil war.  The very end is reminiscent of the "reflecting" scene from Lights Out if you have read that.  

Over all, I was happy to read the books.  The author is obviously from the Spokane, Washington area and someone from that area will probably get more out of the book as the characters interact in the climate, neighborhoods, culture and landmarks of Spokane and the surrounding communities.  There is a lot of good information to be gleaned as Mr Sherry takes the main characters through many "WWYD" type situations.

What review would be complete without a link to the author's blog: Deep Winter Blog.