Before I begin this week’s blog, I feel the need to make something clear. Since last week’s blog I was talking to a friend and mentioned that I wrote this survival blog, and her response was “you mean like those people on Doomsday Preppers?” Here’s a fun fact about me - I don’t really watch much television, so I didn’t know what she was talking about. The majority of television that I watch these days consists of Dora the Explorer, Yo Gabba Gabba, Blue’s Clues, and the old 80’s cartoons that I have gotten my almost 3 year-old daughter to watch with me. But I had never heard of this show. So, like any descent journalist, I did some research and discovered that it was on National Geographic. I found a few full episodes on YouTube and watched them, hoping that it would help enhance my own blog. All I can say about these people is wow! I try to not thing of myself as better or superior to others, but I do worry that I may be grouped in with these people. I consider myself a sensible person, and I try to uphold those same ideals when it comes to survivalism. My take on the show is that those displayed are extremists, and like with anything, their compulsion has become an obsession, and any obsession may become a negative on your life.
I believe that there are threats out there, and that having knowledge about these situations and being prepared to respond is important, but I do not intend to let it control my life or the lives of those around me. I also believe that another area where i differ from the people on Doomsday Preppers is that they believe that impending apocalypse is right around the corner that will completely destroy our current way of life. I on the other hand believe that there are disaster situations possible that could be a detriment to our way of life in the short term. Think more post 9/11, and less zombie apocalypse.
And that brings us to today’s article. Today I’m going to cover disaster situations that I think could happen, and how a combination of survival skills and disaster preparedness can help to ensure your safety. While most people think there are many different types of disaster scenarios, I try to look at it at its most basic. There are two types of disasters: Natural and Man-Made. Everything else just dictates how the situation plays out, and how to best react to it.
Let’s start with Natural disasters:
In the 21st century alone we have seen numerous hurricanes making landfall in the US, many of which have reached wind speeds in excess of 100mph. While the occasional storm develops off the Western coast of Mexico and impacts Hawaii or California, the vast majority of storms come from the Atlantic Ocean, and may hit an area anywhere from Belize to Canada. Hurricanes not only have strong winds, but also produce a storm surge that raises the water level that hits the shore, large quantities or rain, but also tornadoes. As these storms push inland, they begin to weaken but they are still potentially dangerous. While hurricanes are dangerous, they take considerable time to develop, and meteorologists can predict their movement. This frequently gives people time to determine the need to either hold in place (bug in) or evacuate (bug out) based on their situation and the storm’s strength.
The ground shakes without warning. Building collapse, fires rage all around. An earthquake has just struck. The destruction of an earthquake radiates from the fault line from which it came, and thankfully this allows us to know areas that are at risk. Earthquakes however come without warning, and so preparing for them is difficult other than designing structures that resist collapsing during an earthquake. If you live in a earthquake prone area, having a Bug Out Bag (BOB) at the ready may allow you exit a dangerous situation after shaking ends if your area is unsafe, and gives you the supplies to survive in the short term while emergency services help those more in need.
We all have seen the videos of the tsunami waves that hit Sumatra, Indonesia and Thailand in December of 2004, as well as the destructive wave after the earthquake that struck Japan last year. These tidal waves more wipe the landscape clean than cause damage. While the destruction of anything that stands in the way of these tsunamis is almost certain, they do give us warning signs. Tsunamis are created by a vast release of energy into the ocean, most likely an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption. This is a perfect example of when a BOB comes in handy. With just minutes to escape with their lives, a person could grab their BOB and head for high ground.
I find it amusing that one of our iconic vacation destinations is a set of islands created by, and still being reformed by volcanic eruptions. While the eruptions in Hawaii continue to be smooth flowing, other eruptions are far more explosive. Pyroclastic flows from volcanoes can create havoc over enormous areas. The blast from Mount Saint Helens dropped ash as far away as Oklahoma, while the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (yes I had to look up the spelling) in Iceland in 2010 downed all air traffic over Europe for over a week, costing billions. While volcanoes are scattered around the world, these kinds of explosive eruptions are uncommon. If one does occur in your area, a BOB would be a helpful tool in case an evacuation is necessary.
Similar to the earthquake, there is little warning of an impending tornado. Most commonly forming in an area of America’s midland known as “tornado alley”, these spinning columns of wind leave a path of destruction in their wake, with often only minutes of warning. With such little warning bugging out is not likely, but having supplies on hand may make it easier to maintain as close to a normal lifestyle if such amenities as the power or water goes out.
Like many others, wildfires come on swiftly and cause massive destruction. It seems like wildfires have become an annual thing in the US, and while firefighting techniques are in place to fight these blazes, that does not ensure safety. Having a BOB to grab and go if a wildfire occurs in your area, while it won’t protect your property, will give you the chance to evacuate as quickly as possible.
Either a slower flooding type - monsoon - or a flash flood may become a risk to those living in low lying areas. I currently live in Las Vegas, where we lack a good drainage system. If we have a quick heavy rain, flash flooding becomes a serious problem around the valley. If flooding became a serious enough risk there is always the option to bug out and find higher ground until the water recedes.
In my opinion, man-made disasters are the more frightening. There is science to natural disasters. They can be predicted. Their causes can be studied to better understand why these things happen the way they do. Mankind however is unpredictable and emotional. This leads humans to do some crazy things for whatever reason, be that race, nationality, religion, or what have you.
Even a basic power outage can disrupt our normal routine. Before I joined the Air Force, I lived in Arkansas. While living there we had a series of severe ice storms that knocked out our power for nearly a month, so I’ve experience what it’s like losing power for an extended period of time. Our society has become so dependent on electricity that any sort of power outage seems like it lasts a lifetime. But what if there is a more long term power outage? An outage that lasts week, a month, or even longer. Take into account that much of the country uses electric heaters, and electric stoves/ovens. I’m not saying that bugging out is the best course of action, but having stores of supplies for a bug in scenario could help to survive while the grid is being reconnected
We’ve seen a lot of upheaval lately around the world. Thankfully Occupy Wall Street has been peaceful in this country, but the riots last year in England weren’t so peaceful. Then the revolution in Libya, and now Syria. I’m not saying that this would happen here, but in the unlikely situation that people lose their minds, I’d rather be able to walk away from the situation before it gets out of hand.
There are two ways that a radiological terror could affect us: either a disaster at a nuclear power plant, or by attack - i.e. “dirty bomb” or nuclear weapon. I highly doubt that a nuclear weapon detonating over American soil is extremely unlikely. We came closer than most can imagine on more than one occasion during the Cold War, but America’s nuclear powered enemies lack the technology to send a missile our way. The alternative is a disaster at a nuclear power facility. I would like to point out that this also is highly unlikely. Nuclear facilities are built do stand up to severe assault. Nuclear One, the plant in Russleville Arkansas is designed to withstand an F-4 tornado. The plant in Japan took a 9.0 earthquake and then a tsunami before its core was breached! The two other well known nuclear incidents were Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. The Three Mile Island disaster occurred because of a combination of human incompetence and mechanical failure. Chernobyl occurred because of a severe mechanical failure due to failure to uphold safety standards by Soviet management. So that says to me it takes an awful lot to cause this sort of disaster.
We finally make it to the elephant in the room. Just over ten years ago everything changed. Before 9/11 we didn’t consider a terrorist threat at home a possibility, but now our national security planning centers around it. We have seen other attempts since then, such as the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, and the Time Square bombing attempt. Thankfully none of these have been successful, but they are still trying. One important point to note is that terrorists will always look for a weakness and exploit it. There is little way to predict just what their next attack will be, but the ability to bug in or out to find safety is not a bad idea.
So that’s it in a nutshell. I know that this wasn’t every situation that could be covered, but these are the ones that I felt would best work as examples for this article. That’s it for another week. I’d like to thank all of the new followers of the Survival Blog for signing up. Hopefully this article made sense and gave you even more to think about (kind of a running theme).
I have been receiving questions about this, so…
Next Week: Ways to build a Bug Out Bag with little money
- Animal out