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Practical Tactical BOLT Kit©: What It Is And What It’s For

You’ve probably heard of a Bug Out Bag (BOB) or a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag that can be used as a grab and go kit in case you have to leave an area during an emergency situation. At Practical Tactical, we urge our clients to build what we call a BOLT (Basic Operations for a Limited Time) Kit. This mobile kit based on the basic tenets of preparedness: shelter, water, food, fire, comms/defense and psychological…and is geared towards executing your plan that was developed based on the threats in your area and your individual circumstances and will allow you to maintain your Basic Operations for a Limited Time as you BOLT to your next location that will hopefully be your safe haven from the immediate threat.

BOLT pack

BOLT pack II

Now, what makes our BOLT Kit any different from every other Bug Out or GOOD Bag out there? A focused philosophy, that’s what. Often when people talk about emergency bags (regardless of what you call them) the idea starts out the same…put together a bag of essential items like food and water in case you have to leave in a hurry because of an emergency that will help you survive the event…simple, right? But from there, things tend to spin out and become ever more nebulous. Inevitably you end with Jack the Survivor strapping a pack to his back that contains everything from his favorite comic books to ammo for his Barrett 50 cal. which by the way, he has lovingly cradled in his arms as he treks into the wilderness to live off the land for the duration of the apocalypse, and if you don’t do that too you’re doomed to fail miserably and die immediately or be swallowed up by the very mindless hordes you were trying to escape in the first place.

Whew! Just thinking about that was exhausting.

The point is this. With so many variables involved in any possible future evacuation scenario, it is very easy to quickly become overwhelmed and intimidated simply by the thought of it all. Nobody wants to leave their home, but the SHTF every day for someone and you never know when you might be the one standing in front of the fan. So why not face reality and prepare yourself as best you can to be able to meet the challenge should it ever come knocking at your door at 4 am on some random Tuesday night by taking a focused approach to the task at hand, and that’s getting you and your family out of harms way in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

At Practical Tactical, we believe in developing a plan in advance of the chaos that will keep you from becoming a refugee should you ever have to leave your home due to an emergency. We think of it as the software to go along with the hardware (read as gear) of preparedness. If you leave your home or primary residence without a definite destination and a well thought out and practiced plan on how to get there, you have instantly become a refugee and that’s a bad spot to be in. During a time of crisis, history has shown us that the life of a refugee is cold, hard and short. Whatever you do, you do not want to become a refugee.

Now, if you have grown up in the woods and have years of experience living off the land out there and that is the plan you choose to craft, kit and employ, that’s fine. But let’s be honest, that’s not most people. And that’s okay. Developing a plan that calls for you to relocate to another more “permanent” location is just as viable an alternative, but must be crafted, kitted out and employed just the same. Where you go, what you do and how you do it are all parts to this formula that each of us must decide for ourselves. Be it another piece of land that you own or if you have planned ahead of time to go to a friend or relative’s home outside the impacted area, in our view a definite destination point is vital and that is where a thought out and well built BOLT kit comes in to play.

Read below as we further lay out what a BOLT kit is and what it’s for. Keep in mind that the list you will find below should be considered a starting point and is in no way the end-all-be-all of mobile emergency kits, nor should it be viewed that way. It is simply our goal to get you to think a little differently about what it means to have to evacuate and how to best develop your plans going forward.

BOLT Kit (72+ hrs as you go from point A to point B)

Bugging out, getting out of Dodge (GOOD), emergency evacuation….they all mean essentially the same thing. Something’s gone down in your area, it is no longer safe for you to stay there and you have to leave your home in a hurry. This is counter intuitive in every way for most of us. Your home is your safe place. None of us would make this option our first choice, but that doesn’t mean some situation might arise that will force us out and that is why we strongly suggest you have a BOLT Kit prepped and ready to go for each member of your household. This mobile kit will allow you to maintain your Basic Operations for a Limited Time as you BOLT to your next location that will hopefully be your safe haven from the immediate threat. We cannot control when, where or how disaster will strike, but we can control how prepared we are to deal with disaster. There is a fine line between order and chaos and sometimes that line can be measured in seconds. When every second counts, having a plan and the tools to see that plan through are crucial to survival. As the name implies, your BOLT Kit is the tactical advantage that will help get you through and past any emergency situation.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Natural disasters
• Hurricane
• Tornado
• Flooding
• Winter storms
• Earthquake
Fire (wildfires, neighboring buildings)
Extended power outage
Chemical spill
Infrastructure failure
Terrorist attack

Your BOLT Kit should be a backpack. This will allow you to keep you hands free to deal with any other challenges you might face as you put your emergency plan into effect. Your pack should be large enough and sturdy enough to carry all the gear you will need to sustain you for at least 72 hours of independent survival and comfortable enough to carry for long periods of time. As mentioned above, your BOLT Kit is the gear you will need, based on your plan, to get you from point A to point B and away from the immediate threat that is built by you. You can easily extend the gear in your kit to sustain you for a longer period of time if you choose to do so. Your kit should be ever-evolving and based on your needs, wants and tastes and any B.O.L.T. Kit is better than nothing at all in an emergency.

Water (1 liter/day minimum)
Water filter / purification tabs
* Three options of boiling, filtering and chemical treatment will give you flexibility in securing one of the most basic survival needs
Stainless steel water container
Energy bars and/or other packable/portable foods
* Dehydrated camping meals
* MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
* Canned goods or Soups
* Meal bars / Energy or Candy bars
Small cooking kit/Small metal pot
Spork / utensil
Metal cup
P38 Can Opener
Lightweight backpack stove with fuel
Hiking Boots / Walking Shoes / Wool Socks
Change of clothes / Weather appropriate (rotate seasonally) and Underwear
Ear plugs / Gloves / Hat / Sunglasses
Rain gear
Military poncho (can be used as shelter)
Emergency blanket (can be used as shelter)
Waterproof rip-stop tarp (can be used as shelter)
Lightweight camping tent
Lightweight (small pack) sleeping bag (30 degree)
Fire starting capabilities (lighters, tinder, etc.)
Quality Multi-tool
Quality knife and Knife sharpener
Binoculars
Flashlight / Headlamp with extra batteries / glow sticks
First Aid kit / Insect repellent
Hygiene kit (including toilet paper)
N95 face mask / bandana / shemagh / scarf / etc.
Fully charged cell phone
Emergency radio (battery or hand crank)
Maps of local areas (pre-marked with multiple routes home) / Compass
Pen and Paper
Copies of Important documents (driver’s license, social security card, account & phone numbers, medical information)
Self-Defense Items (in accordance with your local laws and personal comfort level)
Cash (stored in several places; DO NOT show all your money at one time)
Rescue signal items
200 feet Parachute cord
Duct tape
Sewing kit
Heavy duty garbage bags

So just to recap:

**Decide on a definite destination (with multiple alternatives depending on the crisis) should you ever have to leave your home
**Get a plan on how to reach those destinations
**Build a BOLT kit tailored to fit your plan and review the contents every six months
**Practice your plan before you need it

Semper Paratus!

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ZRT : the interview : II

We are headed into fall and the most popular show on television, The Walking Dead, makes its return in a few weeks. Since we ARE speaking with our friends from the Zombie Response Team, and since they ARE the experts on such things, we wanted the second part of our conversation to be a bit more zombie-centric and have some fun while (we still can!) we get educated. With this in mind, we came up with a few more questions for the brave souls that have made it their mission to “Protect and Sever”. Here we go.

ZRT Seal_Hand-300x225

What are the first signs we should watch for to tip us off that the Zombie Apocalypse (ZA) has started?

One clear indication would be mass reports of people eating other people.

Where is the one place you absolutely DO NOT want to be in the event of the ZA?

Anywhere but my home. Our home is secure and fortified and ready for action. Anywhere else is not.

If the ZA pops off tomorrow, do you believe we will be dealing with “walkers” or “sprinters”?

Honestly, it’s a toss up. It really could go either way.

It is a widely held belief that the cause of the ZA would most probably be some form of virus. Given this assumption, do you believe the virus would be able to mutate as the ZA stretched into the future creating the possibility of an “evolving” zombie? Could what starts out as a shambling undead creature somehow morph into a more mobile and aggressive type?

Depends on the type of virus. If it were something like a mutated rabies virus, then the chances of it mutating even more could be possible, but it could not be possible; just depends on how the virus was mutated to begin with and if it’s capable of continuing to mutate.

Given that death and decomposition go hand in hand, how long should we be prepared to survive before we could expect that the walking dead might decompose to the point that they are no longer a viable threat?

Another good question and this also depends on where you reside. In colder regions, it’ll take longer, but on the other hand, they could just freeze, however, once they defrost, who’s to say that they won’t simply come back to “life” and keep moving forward? As far as heat goes, it really depends on the type of virus. If it’s just a virus, then they’d still be alive and not necessarily dead and therefore, decomposition wouldn’t be a reasonable assumption. It’s all variable.

If you could choose the soundtrack to your life during the Zombie Apocalypse, what would it be? Of course, you HAVE to explain this one.

Eminem – Not Afraid
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Hollywood Undead – Undead
Matchbook Romance – You Can Run, But We’ll Find You

And a few others. But basically, any songs that make me get up off my ass and make me pumped to keep going. A song that can make me feel empowered or hopeful or simply make me shake my booty, would be a great soundtrack to the Zombie Apocalypse.

How does the average American most underestimate the foe that would be the zombie?

Many people think that because the typical zombie moves slowly, that’d they’d easily be able to escape and evade. But zombies move in hordes so once they reach you (while you sleep or eat or go to the bathroom), you’d not only be fighting off one or two, you’d be fighting off a whole horde.

When it comes to the ZA, what is the one thing you can almost guarantee that we have forgotten? What haven’t we thought about?

Hygiene. I know this sounds silly, but no matter who I talk to about the apocalypse or surviving, nobody ever brings up hygiene. Hygiene is so important, even if you can only scrub your body and teeth and hair with straight water, DO IT. Otherwise, you could get skin irritations (which could lead to infections), your teeth could begin to rot and a variety of other things.

Any member of the military, avid hiker or athlete will tell you, “You have to take care of your feet.” If you were outfitting us, what’s your number one suggestion for the appropriate footwear for the Zombie Apocalypse. Explain.

Honestly, there really is no ‘one’ specific piece of footwear that is going to be better than another. It’s all personal preference. I agree that your feet are important and you need a comfortable shoe. As long as it’s comfortable and above the ankle and you can wear it for an extended period of time without getting sore or getting blisters, then it’s all good.

What’s your self-defense weapon of choice for the ZA?

Either my compound bow or my rifle. One is silent and I’ll be able to use more often, but the other can be used at much longer distances.

We would need to be able to move around after the undead have turned our wonderful country into a rotting wasteland. Which mode of transportation would you recommend?

My feet! Seriously, feet are going to be the best mode of transportation, but a bicycle could work for a time, or even a horse. A vehicle will work for a short period of time, but once gas is no longer easily accessible, it will not be the best option, so we have to have an option that isn’t going to require any type of fuel.

With the zombie killing we’ll inevitably be forced to do in the apocalypse, contagion from blood splatter will definitely be a risk. There is one question that must be answered. Awesome, air-vented (to prevent fogging) motorcycle goggles or mirrored chrome shades?

Neither, Oakley sunglasses. 😉 Gotta look good while killing off the hordes! lol

After the first few days of the outbreak, would sports arenas prove to be a good place to set up a survival camp? If so, open air or dome?

I’d have to decide that on a case-by-case basis, but that doesn’t seem secure enough to me. It’s too open, too big and too many opportunities for someone or a zombie to break in.

Assuming you’ve got the problem of transportation covered, the now greatly depopulated American landscape would be your oyster in the zombie apocalypse. Which national landmark or tourist attraction would you most like to visit now that crowds (of the living) are no longer a deterrent?

All of ‘em! If we have unlimited amount of time and transportation is covered, then let’s do something productive with our time and see it all. Why not!

We know y’all are coffee drinkers, as are we. Given this fact, and understanding that a zombie infested post-apocalyptic America will be found wanting of an open Starbucks when we need one most, I ask you this…a coffee press: important survival item or the MOST important survival item?

Obviously, the #1 most important survival item.


Well, there you have it. Now I feel like I’m really ready for Halloween and anything else that might be headed my way…..once I get me some Oakleys.

A big thanks once again to ZRT for hanging out with us for a while.

#SemperParatus

ZRT : the interview : I

Zombies! Who doesn’t love ’em? Preparedness. I think we all agree that’s a topic worth our attention, especially these days. Well, in our continuing efforts to bring you information and perspectives you can use, we caught up with our pals with Zombie Response Team out of San Antonio, Texas to get the inside track on the best way to handle both.

group

ZRT : the interview : I

What is the Zombie Response Team and how did it come into being?

We are an organization that teaches people how to survive anything; even a zombie apocalypse. The HOW it came into being isn’t real exciting. It really just sort of…happened. We realized that we had a desire to learn survival wrapped in a zombie filling and knew others had to feel the same way. And we were right! We decided to brand ourselves differently than the others who try to be ‘militia’ or ‘we know more than you do’. We simply want to help and we try to make that known as best as we can.

What are the goals of ZRT?

We simply want to educate people on how to be prepared. It’s SO simple to get prepared for anything that may come our way, but people see shows like Doomsday Preppers or Doomsday Castles and think they need millions of dollars just to get prepared…but that’s not the case at all. We’re trying very hard to make it known that prepping isn’t necessarily EASY, but it’s not really difficult, either.

Was there any particular event, personal or otherwise, that motivated you to start prepping?

I used to find myself in situations where the lights would go out and my phone was about to die and I couldn’t find a candle or flashlight or anything and then realized I was starving and had no non-perishable foods or anyway to cook those non-perishable foods (like rice)…and so on. I just got tired of it and began to make things easier on myself, like keeping flashlights and candles near by and keeping a stove that ran on propane near by as well. I also started keeping several bottles of water around. Simple things like that that really made a difference when it mattered most.

Which came first….prepping or ZRT, the chicken or the egg?

Prepping came first. ZRT is a mix of our passion for prepping and our enjoyment of zombies.

If we take the zombie apocalypse off the table for this question, what event would you say you are most concerned could cause a large scale (national/global) emergency/SHTF/disaster situation?

On a global scale? I’d have to say something like a solar flare or EMP.

What is the hardest lesson you have learned while prepping? A mistake you made or a relationship that was changed as a result of prepping?

Honestly, the hardest lesson to learn, is that people simply don’t want to be prepared. People seem interested or they say they need or want to be prepared, but when it comes right down to learning the knowledge or skills necessary, they simply don’t want to take that step or are ‘too busy’. To this day, it’s really difficult to talk to people because you just never know who will truly want to learn or not. We have a great desire to teach people and to educate the entire world about simple tasks to be prepared and it’s falling on deaf ears, which is really difficult to come to terms with.

Other than that, we make mistakes all the time, but we learn from them and figure out better ways to go about them. It’s the process of prepping, gotta make a few mistakes before you realize what really works.

What unexpected benefit has prepping added to your life? (Lessons learned about yourself, people you’ve met, etc.)

Getting to know so many other people who share our same beliefs. We have been apart of so many events and have made so many connections and friendships with people that we would have never made before if it weren’t for our public display of prepping.

At Practical Tactical, we believe in the “software” of preparedness like planning & philosophy as much, or maybe more so, than the “hardware” of preparedness like all the gear associated w/ prepping. What’s your opinion on this and where do you fall on the spectrum?

We think it’s a good mix of software and hardware. We think the software needs to be learned and understood first before the hardware, but they essentially go hand-in-hand.

When planning for this interview, I crowd-sourced the members of our training group just to see if they had any questions for you guys and here’s what came back. Obviously, answers of “cannot divulge for proprietary or security reasons” are always acceptable. (A note from the group: “Thanks! Keep up the good work!”)

1) Members of our team come from a wide variety of backgrounds (journalism, law enforcement, medicine, landscape architecture, advertising sales/marketing, business management, etc.). What kinds of backgrounds are y’all working from?

The same, we all come from many, many different backgrounds and we all possess many different skills and knowledge, which is what makes the team really work.

2) From where does ZRT receive funding? And do you do this full-time or part-time?

All of our funding comes straight from memberships and merchandise and donations. We do not receive funding from anywhere else. We do this full-time.

3) Do you work with local/regional/State agencies at all? For example, coordinating with Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), Red Cross, Emergency Management, etc to enhance their community education initiatives.

We do on occasion, but to be honest, we like to work with independent organizations such as home owners associations and the like because we feel we can reach people on a much more personal level that way. We do enjoy working with the bigger organizations such as the Red Cross and LEPCs, but generally we try to be individualized about our training.

What would you consider to be the biggest challenge you’ve given yourself as it pertains to preparedness, resilience, etc.? What is an example of a major task you’ve undertaken that you probably would not have if you had not been into preparedness? (Example: We put in a fruit tree orchard this year.)

We bought land. Honestly, if we weren’t into preparedness as much as we are, we may not have bought so much land as we did, but we bought about 13 acres and are cultivating it for many different preparedness uses. It’s a huge task, to say the least.

How would you say prepping has helped you to grow as individuals?

Prepping really helps us see the world a lot differently. We don’t just see the world as it is at face value anymore, our eyes are open to all the possibilities of nature, disasters, emergencies, etc. When we walk into a restaurant, our eyes go immediately to the possible exits. Before, we’d just sit down and start ordering, but now, we are more focused on the ‘what ifs’ then simply going about the motions. That doesn’t mean that we’re SO focused that we forget to have a good time, but if something were to happen in that restaurant, we’d know how to escape or how to protect ourselves.

What is your favorite activity that ZRT participates in as a group?

We participate in a variety of events and we love each and every one of them. We really have no favorite, they’re all awesome and unique.

What are you most proud of when it comes to ZRT?

We are most proud when we receive messages and emails from people who tell us how our information has helped them prepare.

What is your favorite part of prepping?

Personally, I love alternative energy. I love being able to charge my cell phone without a wall outlet or being able to use a generator for our camper out on our land and so on. I love being able to find different ways to source electricity.

What is your favorite piece of gear (tool/weapon/kit)? Why? Yes, you can only pick one.

My browning knife. I can pretty much do anything with that knife.

Since it is right there in the name….Zombie Response Team….what are your thoughts on building a training/survival/mutual assistance group or team? This is an important concept, so feel free to take as much space as necessary to explain.

We constantly say how important it is to be in a team environment. We do NOT recommend the lone wolf aspect at all. Having a team means that you have people from all sorts of different backgrounds, with all sorts of different knowledge and skills and no matter what might happen, you have that one person who will come up with a great idea or be able to do a specific task that you may never have thought of. It’s also important to keep morale up and being in a team can definitely help with that. Even if it’s just having someone else to talk to, or to play cards with, humans are not meant to be alone, we do much better with personal interaction. Training and surviving in a team is extremely important.

Inside ZRT, does each member have a particular area of expertise they train the rest of the group members on or does everyone just learn new skills together?

Yes, absolutely. We all train each other on different skills on a regular basis.

What basic concept of preparedness do you feel it is most vital for people to embrace and get a handle on?

Mindset. Without the proper mindset, survival is going to be really difficult.

A big thanks to ZRT for taking some time with us. We hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as we did. With The Walking Dead returning this week, we felt like one part just wasn’t enough with ZRT, so be sure to check back next week for the second part of our interview with the zombie pros.

#SemperParatus

STILL NEED A REASON TO PREPARE? I GIVE YOU THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN / DEFAULT

When folks ask us “Why should I prepare?” one of the every day, practical examples I offer is unexpected job loss, or injury / event that would prevent you from being able to work. Any event related to this or a similar situation would absolutely constitute a personal SHTF scenario.

Even if you believe you have no fear of losing your job, the events of this week in Washington D.C. reaffirm the fact that there are numerous ways your livelihood can be impacted by forces that are completely and totally beyond your control.

Thousands of workers across this vast country have been furloughed due to the government shut down and have absolutely no idea when they will be permitted to go back to work or when they will next receive a paycheck. I would be willing to bet you a dollar to a doughnut that most of those impacted are like many of their fellow Americans, living paycheck to paycheck with very little to no buffer between themselves and a financial crisis, and they are feeling the pinch.

With no indication the federal government will get it’s act together in the next couple of weeks, the next axe poised to fall is a default on our country’s debts. Just today the Treasury Department issued a dire warning stating that a government default could cause credit markets to freeze, the value of the Dollar to plummet and interest rates to skyrocket. This could have catastrophic ramifications for our nation and the world.

By taking basic steps to be more prepared such as having a few months food supply on hand and taking every step you can to get out of debt, you can create a buffer and buy yourself some time should you ever be impacted by events that are out of your control. If you were to lose your job or be furloughed for an unknown period of time, you would still have the ability to provide the basics for yourself and your family and allow yourself the flexibility to prioritize your now limited funds towards keeping the lights and water on and a roof over your family’s head.

This is a crazy world we live in and it is getting more and more unpredictable every day. Not only must we be prepared to deal with the known threats we face daily, we must also be ready to weather unforeseen storms when they darken our skies. These threats, known and unknown, are the reasons it is only prudent to take whatever steps we can to be ready should the need ever arise.

#SemperParatus

The Quarter-Hour Kit ©

Our government (READY.GOV and EMERGENCY.CDC.GOV) recommends that every American should have at least a three days supply of food and water in case of emergency. I heartily agree with this suggestion, but I say you should take it a step further and make preparations to shelter and be self reliant for a minimum of up to two weeks.

This can be accomplished very easily and it will not cost you anything more than a few minutes out of your day with what I call a Quarter-Hour Kit©. It is my belief that you can cover the basic preparedness needs for your family using simply the items that you already have in your home. In fifteen minutes or less, or about the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you can go from a state of disorganization and unpreparedness to a condition of readiness and peace of mind that will allow you to navigate virtually any unexpected disaster situation. This will not be the final version of your home disaster kit, but rather a starting point for you on your road to personal preparedness.

To start, find a container you already have in your home. This can be a cardboard box, a plastic tote or an oversized duffle bag. Considering the Basic Tenets of Preparedness that we will look at below, just walk around your home and collect the items that cover each of the areas of preparedness and put them in your container. When you finish, you will have a well rounded, basic kit that is ready to go when you need it.

Your home is your shelter, so you’ve got that covered. Let’s move on to water, food, fire, communications/defense and psychological.

Water – Find a container to store your water in. This can be bottled water that you have already purchased and have in your home, a few two liter soda bottles that have been cleaned or a few one liter water bottles that you might take to the gym or carry with you every day. An easy way to collect water for cleaning and possibly cooking is by putting collection barrels at the corners of your house and have the rain water drain into them. This water can be purified and used as needed. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts (a half gallon) of water each day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least an additional half-gallon per person, per day for this. Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. Store at least a 3-day supply and consider storing a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can. You can reduce the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

Food – You do not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned or dry goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. The key is to pull those items out of your cupboard and designate them for your kit, then replace them on your next visit to the market. You can cook or heat your food using an outdoor grill, a small camping stove or even your fireplace.

Fire – Fire is elemental. You need it to cook your food, boil your water for purification and heat your home. Locate the fire starting materials you have like matches and personal lighters and add them to your kit.

Communications/Defense – Having a line of communications to the outside world to gather information is crucial during a time of emergency. In addition to your land line or cell phone, find a battery powered radio that you already own and the batteries that power it and add those items to your kit. Defense is an area that each of us must sort out for ourselves. If you believe as I do that it is your responsibility as the leader of your family that you must have the ability to defend your home and your family should the need ever arise, select the item(s) that you are comfortable with and store it with your final kit.

**Whatever you choose to use for self defense, it is your responsibility to become proficient with this tool and its capabilities. If this requires training, get it and TRAIN. It is your responsibility.**

Psychological – The ability to remain calm during a time of crisis is vital to the success of any disaster plan. If you have books that bring you piece of mind and help you find your center, the Bible is a great example, make sure you know where they are located or add them to your kit.
Finally, don’t forget to take your pets and service animals into account! They are members of our families, they are our friends and they cannot build their own kits, so help them out. They are depending on you.

emergency_preparedness_family

Following this simple plan you will be ready for any routine short term disruption and you will be well on your way to completing your two week kit or any higher level of preparedness you want for your family.

#SemperParatus

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

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.

#SemperParatus

Part 1/2

Part 2/2