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Archive for July, 2013

Are You Paying Attention? : The Wild North Edition

A while back I wrote to you asking the infinitely crucial question, “Are you paying attention?”. In that moment, I was referring to the hellish events that were taking place in Japan in the immediate aftermath of a record setting earthquake that had shifted the Earth’s axis, had triggered a devastating tsunami and subsequently a nuclear disaster at the Fukashima nuclear power plant. Since then the world has turned several times and the disasters just keep coming…devastating floods, tornadoes and SuperStorm Sandy to name just a few.

Today I wanted to bring the focus down a level or two and focus on why we need to be prepared to respond to an emergency every day, out and about or at home, at any hour of the day. Currently we find ourselves witnesses to another week of disaster as we’ve seen Canada get ravaged as Toronto was thrown into chaos after four hours of intense rains led to incredible flash flooding, cutting power to up to 400,000 in Canada’s largest city. A small town in Quebec, Lac-Megantic, was eviscerated when the night exploded just after midnight as a train derailment involving more than seventy tanker cars carrying crude oil sparked an incredible fireball THAT COULD BE SEEN FROM SPACE!BOOM For the record, a rail car can carry roughly 700 barrels of oil, with 42 gallons per barrel. That’s a lot of crude. Some victims were likely vaporized by the intense blaze, which burned for 36 hours after the crash. Back here in the States a line of severe thunderstorms raced through the Ohio River Valley yesterday, causing numerous power outages due to downed trees and power lines. The damage and duration of the storms were enough to qualify the system as a derecho. An area in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys from eastern Illinois and Indiana into Ohio, western Pennsylvania, southwest New York, and northern West Virginia were impacted by the July 10 storms.

All of this happened to my north as the crow flies as I sit here in Georgia, but that does not mean it cannot happen here tomorrow…or later today.

The flooding in Toronto comes on the heels of recent flooding in Calgary that forced up to 100,000 Albertans from there homes. The downpour of 3.5 inches of rain in less than four hours forced subway closures and left almost 1,500 people stranded on a commuter train filled with gushing water, while countless motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles to flee the rising waters.FLOOD Subway passengers spilled out of the train cars and fled to the upper decks, where they waited for almost seven hours to be rescued.

The sleepy Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, located about 160 miles east of Montreal and close to the border with Maine and Vermont, was rocked in the middle of the night on July 6 when a train carrying crude oil jumped the tracks and careened into the town of 6,000 residents unleashing hell on earth. In a town that small, most everyone is affected by the deaths and destruction. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has described the scene as a “war zone” while others have referred to the landscape of the aftermath as a crematorium. From a CNN report, “Notices were placed on doors instructing residents how to clean and air out their homes. Officials suggested throwing out any food and boiling all water because the city’s water treatment plant is not operational.” In what is Canada’s worst railway catastrophe in almost 150 years, the death toll has risen to 50 as a result of the fiery crash of the runaway oil train.

This incident forces us to focus on the safety of future rail shipments of oil (as well as proposals such as the XL Pipeline and other fossil fuel transportation methods) as demand for such services is certainly increasing. Check this out for a more thorough look at these issues.

In a “does this sound familiar” moment, a destructive derecho ripped its way across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys yesterday. Though not as destructive as the storm that plowed all the way to the east coast and decimated parts of Washington D.C. in 2012, this derecho produced roughly 300 reports of either wind damage or high winds that knocked out power to thousands across seven states.

Just in case you needed some more motivation to get your preparedness house in order, I hope this fits the bill. Disaster does not stick to our daily schedules and can kick down your door any time of day or night. Do you have a plan? Will you be ready? If you’re unsure, today is the perfect time to get started and figure it out.

#SemperParatus

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Neighbor : Friend : Threat

Neighbor. Friend. Threat?

So you’re into personal preparedness, you may even call yourself a prepper. You recognize that there are very real threats in this world in which we live and you have taken and are taking the steps that you deem necessary to help your family survive and make it through any disaster or emergency situation, short or long term. That’s fantastic. Keep up the good work.

What I want to discuss today is the potential threat that you may not have yet considered…your neighbors. The people you live next to every day for years, some of which you may know quite well, a few you may even count among your close friends.

You may think I’m totally off base for even bringing this up, but you might want to think again. Starting at the beginning, do you even know your neighbors? In today’s world, it seems that we don’t more often than not. If you do know them, do you consider them friends or are they more like acquaintances? If you do count them as friends, have you ever discussed your preparedness lifestyle with them? Do you know their level of preparedness? In a time of upheaval, this could prove to be a gaping hole in your security preparedness, a glaring weakness in your plan and it could quite possibly lead to failure of your primary mission: to keep you and your family safe.

Over the fence

Just because you’re squared away with your preps, that does not mean that all is well in your world, in your neighborhood or on your street. If your neighbors are not likewise squared away in their preparedness, you could very well end up becoming the target of the people that you have known for years and probably would never have suspected to act in a threatening way towards you or your family. Even if you have practiced air tight operational security (OPSEC) about your family’s preparedness plans, it won’t take more than a few days of your neighbors being in a stressful situation where they begin to run low on food and water for them to realize that you aren’t in the sinking boat with them and they will want to know why and expect you to help them out. Come on, I mean it is the neighborly thing to do, right?

There is a middle ground on this topic. You can pursue the level of preparedness that you feel is appropriate for your family and help your friends and neighbors become more educated about preparedness without compromising all your details and putting you and your family at risk (at least at any more risk than if you do nothing). Talk to your neighbors about local and national current events and figure out who is interested in learning more about how to prepare in case some threat comes closer to home. At the very least, this will you help you further detail your own preparedness plan because you will find out potential future threats should a disaster scenario unfold.

We like to think we know and understand our fellow man, but the truth is most of the general public do not. I would venture to say that most people do not even have a full understanding of how they will react should they find themselves in an emergency situation. The veneer of our polite society is very thin. We are polite because, as a nation, we are fat and happy. When we are not fat and happy anymore, we will not be so polite.

To drive the point home with a visual example I wanted to share this classic episode from the Twilight Zone, The Shelter. It is a cautionary tale that you may find a bit shocking, but it is in no way beyond the realm of possibility. Enjoy.

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Part 1/2

Part 2/2


Preparedness Life vs. Amazing Life: You can have both!

We just passed the fourth of July and for most of us, that is a day we spend with family and friends exercising our freedoms and celebrating the independence of our great nation as we also remember the people that have paid the ultimate price to earn it. We hope everyone out there enjoyed theirs as much as we enjoyed ours.

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This year, we were fortunate enough to have a long time friend come to town to spend a couple of days with us around the holiday and join in our celebration. While having a conversation as we walked through the house, we found ourselves in our music room. My friend asked me when was the last time I had picked up my guitar and played a little, recognizing that my wife and I have been more than a little busy this year working on various projects here around our home with putting in the fruit tree orchard, getting our hens and building the chicken coop, not to mention our ever-growing vegetable garden and with me working on my new business as well as both of us working out full time jobs. He asked because he just knows how much I enjoy it. With my friend also being of a preparedness mind and us having discussed such issues many times before, I knew where he was coming from as he said he just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t becoming consumed with our journey towards preparedness. Deep down I believe he already knew the answer, but he was just making sure. I quickly reassured him that I had been playing occasionally and that I absolutely had an ample supply of extra guitar strings put back for a rainy day! This brought an easy smile to his face because he knew I meant what I had said and we moved along.

Too often it seems that once people become aware of the reality that surrounds us every day and educate themselves on the advantages of becoming more prepared, they allow themselves to become overwhelmed. The thoughts that there is just so much to get done and that it needs to happen as soon as possible begin to dominate their conscience and they unwittingly become obsessed and begin to lose focus on the better things in life and (in most cases) the very things that motivated them to take steps to begin to prepare in the first place…their families and their friends and the other activities in life that bring them joy. What starts out as a well-intentioned activity becomes a burdening weight that can lead to such extreme disorders as paranoia and depression. This is not the case in every instance, but it does happen and more often than we may like to acknowledge. What’s worse is that there are people in the preparedness community that will tell you that if you’re not working on your readiness every day…that if you’re “wasting” your time, money and efforts on anything that isn’t preparedness related…that you are doing it wrong and (yes) that there is even something wrong with you.

We at Practical Tactical absolutely reject this notion and I am here to tell you that you don’t have to choose and that you can absolutely practice a preparedness lifestyle and still lead an amazing life. All it takes is developing a plan, setting priorities and taking your journey one day at a time.

As I mentioned above, we have been extremely busy this year and we have been very productive as a result, but we have also had a fantastic year full of fun, memory making experiences that we will cherish forever that we have been able to share with each other as well as our family and friends. We love sports = we ticked off a bucket list item and attended the NCAA Final Four basketball weekend, live music = we catch a concert out virtually every time one of our favorite artists comes around, being outdoors = we take walks and dust off our “athlete-selves” that we used to be whenever we feel like it, spending time with family and making time for ourselves = a week’s vacation with my brother and his family making memories with my six year old nephew and hanging out with my best friend on the planet and the greatest gift of my life, my wife Alice. Like I mentioned earlier referencing our plans over the 4th of July holiday, we have friends over all the time and they share in our lives abundantly. We live, laugh and love out loud for the world to see and we don’t apologize for it as we cherish every moment. We are grateful. So far in 2013, when it comes to enjoying life doing the things that make you happy, I think it’s safe to say we have accomplished those things in spades!

We have had an amazing year so far and we have still managed to make great strides in our preparedness. Best part is, the year is only half over!!! I really can’t wait to see what we get accomplished next…on both fronts! We have done it and you can too. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.

1. Develop a personal preparedness plan for your situation
2. Set priorities within your plan and work towards them consistently
3. Preparedness is not a destination, it’s a journey. Make sure you take time to smell the roses along the way.

We know that there are real threats and challenges out there in this old world that we all must face every day, both in our personal lives and as a nation. We have accepted that fact and I would say we have even embraced it. We recognize that there is a very good chance that the next 20 years will not be the same as the last few decades, but we have decided to throw off the paralytic shackles of cognitive dissonance and lean into the coming change. That is why we work as hard as we do in our preparedness life. We are passionate about our relationships and our happiness. We live the life we love and we love the life we live and we take practical steps every day to strengthen our ability to carry that notion forward. We are readying ourselves for whatever may come, teaching and sharing what we know with others along the way. We do not live under a cloud of despair and we are not drowning in fear. We swim in the strengthening sunshine that is hope and are buoyed by a sense of purpose and accomplishment that we share as we build the life we choose going forward. We are free and we are happy.

You can absolutely practice a preparedness lifestyle and still lead an amazing life. We are proof of that. It is our hope that you will choose to make the effort required to join us in the pursuit, just remember to take some time to enjoy the journey.

#SemperParatus