If you're going to survive any contingency scenario you need to be resilient, excruciatingly innovative and mentally tough. Think more like MacGyver and less like Dr Strangelove.
Be minimal, learn how to forage and scavenge, learn how to blend in and get along and take nothing for granted.
The most successful trait I've seen in survivors it's to know when to stay put and when to move. Whether it's hiding from a mob or a bear, or finding a different county or state to go to.
Take risk when necessary but not unnecessarily.
Again, having the right mindset, through intentional training is the key. There are all kinds of survival schools and the best ones will teach you this. I suggest adventure traveling as a start. That means you go someplace with no plans and the most minimal of supplies.
Edit to add: The key problem with most prepper folks and this article is that they take an approach of "alone and unafraid." Things like stocking up for months and having all kinds of weapons. In practice this is just a great way to get your cache raided by a group of scavengers. In reality you need to find or create a small community of survival minded people that can work together successfully over a long period with a variety of skills. As humans we need groups for survival, so the best bet in a crisis is to build a resilient flexible community until things settle down.
The mindset is actually a large component of this guide, and it intentionally delays any discussion of "prepper gear" until it gets through a long laundry list of lifestyle tips and discussing the need to plan ahead, figure out what is likely, what can go wrong, what the decisions points may be, etc. In contrast to most other prepping docs, weapons are literally the last thing discussed, and only in a perfunctory way.
That said, I think that your view of emergency preparedness is far more narrow than what I aimed for in the guide. A significant focus of the doc is dealing with small-scale but common adversities, such as recessions / unemployment, house fires, backed-up sewage, and other "boring" but life-altering contingencies. Basically, the stuff that almost everybody will need to face at some point in their lives.
I'd wager that for 90%+ of the events that a typical person in the US is likely to experience, heading into the woods to forage on berries and hunt wildebeest is not the way to go.
begin by shopping for ballistic vests and night vision goggles; they would be better served by grabbing a fire extinguisher, some bottled water, and then putting the rest of their money in a rainy-day fund.
is right on point, but IMO that just says - hey don't be insane.
Literally right now, my good friends are being rescued from a rooftop in Houston. No number of bottles of water in their basement or generators are going to help them. They are lucky in that they have some discretionary funds and Flood insurance, but more likely than not (if history repeats itself) they wont get fully paid out for what they lost.
What they should have done is learned when to move or when to stay by: 1. Not buying a house in Houston and then 2. Gotten out well before it was imminent.
Small scale common adversities like you are talking about can get critical really quickly. All those preparations, other than just having savings, is just making you slightly more comfortable and buy you a little bit of time so that you can make a bigger plan. Good, but insufficient and gives you a false sense of security. Again, these are things I've seen over and over.
Planning for the range of disasters from a month of unemployment and TEOTWAWKI is the same basic mental change, not just a full basement and bank account.
I thought of them reading about Harvey and I am wondering if they will show up on the news at some point.
I compared it a bit to my efforts to insure my house remains intact and upright in the event of an earthquake (the 'likely' disaster where I live).
People's aversion to moving, especially after a major disaster, boggles my mind.
I bolted as soon as I could to gain employment and the resources of a bigger city. It still boggles my mind that more people my age don't, as things seem to be getting worse rather than better. But it's home, it's familiar, it's comforting, no matter what issues may loom. I had cousins refuse to leave post-Katrina New Orleans for similar reasons.
Sorry, just a comparison to your line of thinking from a different angle, slightly related.
AndrewKemendo says: "People's aversion to moving, especially after a major disaster, boggles my mind."
But where do you go to be safe from disasters?
California - earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires, torrential rains, rip currents, and even volcanoes
Gulf Coast - hurricanes
Midwest - tornadoes
Slate Magazine set out to find where you could live free of potential disasters. See:
"Where To Hide From Mother Nature"
"Slate's "America's Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster": the area in and around Storrs, Conn., home to the University of Connecticut..."
Read the article to see if you're ready to make the move.
There are plenty of places to go.
For some reason we seem to love to build massive cities on disaster areas. I'm looking at you SF, LA and NYC.
But hey fuck it, lets just continue being bad at statistics and assume that because a natural disaster happened recently it won't happen again for a long time (the idea of a "500 year" storm is insane).
You can't just name three places in a very large country and then say 'etc'.
There are plenty of places with much lower risks of natural disasters. That's a big part of the reason my family lives in central New York.
Probably just the tip of the iceberg in a state that sees a lot of annual rainfall.
I live in the hills southeast of Syracuse.
Snow? A minor inconvenience, at worst. It's a frequent enough occurrence that municipalities are we set up to deal with it. If you don't have snow tires, there will be maybe 24-48 hours per year that you won't want to go driving (with snow tires, that timeframe is an order of magnitude less).
There were at least four times in the twenty years that I lived in upstate NY that snowstorms caused power outages and impassable roads at the same time.
You can't just name one place as safe from natural disasters and then explain that the two natural disasters that they get there don't count.
We can actually build structures that can withstand [the most common] tornadoes, without adding too much to the cost of construction. Basically, monolithic concrete shell structures over inflatable forms are effectively "tornado proof", without additional engineering.
The nasty natural disasters in the Midwest are not just blizzards, but freezing rain storms. A coating of ice an inch thick on everything is guaranteed to take down trees and power lines, and make all roads completely impassable. You get up to a week without civilization. For example, if your furnace catches fire, you can call 911, and later find out that the first fire truck they sent out slid off the road into a ditch on the way to your house, and the guys that finally showed up two hours later were the second truck, sent over from the next township (true story). On the Great Plains, it's drought and brushfires. You get to spend a season watching everything turn brown, and then your town burns because some jackoff threw a cigarette butt out of his window on the highway, or because lightning struck the wrong spot.
Thanks to modern meteorology, tornadoes are just much less a threat than they used to be. They might pick off a person here or there every season, but when they do, there will always be neighbors around ready to help. They just don't wipe out an entire city, leaving everyone essentially on their own, because they are all (sometimes literally) in exactly the same boat.
And that's exactly why I am comfortable living in an area where the major natural disaster threats are tornadoes and flash floods.
Social connections, networks that enable employment, and a lack of serious financial reserves (which will always be true for ~50% of people) are the main reasons.
And no area is immune to disaster and lacks challenges.
The "low natural disaster" areas have a total lack of warning before disaster strikes, heavy snowfall that can cripple normal services, deserts with poisonous creatures, or some combination of those three.
For the most part, to be perfectly honest, as long as you are capable of picking up and moving on short notice...hurricane country is actually safer due to the amount of warning you get.
Natural disasters, perhaps.
That region doesn't have a great record in terms of political stability, and often has the bad luck of being in the middle of a warzone though.
There's about 1/10th of the region that was in a war zone in the last 70 years (Yugoslavia, Eastern Ukraine), and those wars didn't really concern neighboring countries.
Regarding political stability, I'd argue that a huge part of the region was very stable for 40 years, under the Communist yoke :p
That 70 years (which is debatable!) maybe the longest period of peace in the area in recorded history. Possibly the peace of 1871 to 1914 is the only other alternative.
Here's a list of conflicts in Europe since 1945. Even before the fall of the Soviet Union there were some conflicts. For example, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was in 1968 and was a reasonable major conflict.
(Note that I'm not claiming that Eastern/Central Europe is unique in this! Mostly densely populated areas are similar, and Western Europe scores only slightly better if you don't count revolutionary movements within the counties).
Regarding political stability, I'd argue that a huge part of the region was very stable for 40 years, under the Communist yoke
Yes, indeed this is true. As I note above the 1945-1990 period was very stable except for Czechoslovakia invasion of course. They were pretty lucky in Poland in the 1980s too.
You can never predict the future but I'm willing to bet that the following countries will be peaceful for at least the next 20 years:
- Czech Republic
Places like the Czech Republic will probably be among the safest places on Earth, both regarding economic, political stability and possible outside aggression, for the next half a century, in my opinion.
On the other hand, people were saying similar things before WW1 :D
Hmm. I'm not sure that is a great way of looking at it while Russia is still there.
I'm not sure about that. The Kaliningrad Oblast is a real problem - historically oblasts haven't been very stable politically.
Generally speaking though, I think most of those countries are NATO members (not sure about Albania?). That means that if any NATO member country is attacked they will all be dragged in.
If the US got dragged into a war on the Korean peninsular then I'm not sure Putin could resist the temptation of Estonia or Latvia. And I'm not sure what would happen then.
Or who knows what will happen in (NATO Member) Turkey. Three years ago they nearly got in a shooting war with Russia. Now they are good friends.. at the moment.
I've spent some great times in Central Europe, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the area. But that doesn't mean there aren't real, significant risks.
There was a period where the banking regulator for New Zealand was going to force all the major banks to move their IT shops from Wellington to Christchurch because Wellington was at too high a risk of a natural disaster.
A couple of years later, an earthquake on a hitherto-unknown fault flattened Christchurch.
Let alone moving means you need to convince your Family and their other family and their other family's family to move etc. Or go it alone but ties like that are strong.
Is everyone on HN moving to their optimal place regardless of friends or family considerations?
Most people are not going to have to worry about a hurricane or a flood. Most people have more mundane problems, that are still potentially life altering.
I live in a place where other than a 3-4 days of average annual disruption due to snow, the only real natural disaster risks are associated by poorly engineered and maintained sewers backing up.
I find it bizarre that I've spent millions over the years providing disaster recovery and resiliency for relatively unimportant things, but the combo of a devastating hurricane in Texas and major earthquake in Northern California could essentially trigger a economic calamity.
its sewer connection was just the house pipe inset
into the city pipe
Some of this outcome is a direct result of conforming to commercially-fabricated social pressure. In this particular case, floodplain maps are publicly and freely available, so anyone can build structures that rise well above the highest-projected floods.
Except that developers don't want to have to build on top of stilts or as tethered floating structures. It decreases the available pool of customers looking for a pre-packaged vision of what they "should" buy, and it's more expensive than "conventional" building designs.
This illustrates that for some, a preparedness mindset can include thinking for oneself and outside social norms, with the aim of avoiding placing themselves in a situation that calls for preparedness to begin with. Teaching youngsters how to deconstruct the marketing that militates against this kind of mindset to externalize a future cost upon them in order to lift an immediate profit into the commercial entities standing behind those forces, can passively preempt many preparedness scenarios.
They tend to not do very well in cyclones unless the builder has been very careful about tying the stumps to the floor to the walls to the roof.
They're also supposed to have hurricane-rated glazing. One thing that destroys homes is when an opening gets made, allowing the wind inside. So having strong glass (or boarding-up) is a big deal.
I'm not sure what degree of freedom you're supposing they have, but not everyone is able to uproot their life on some survivalist kick. Plenty of people have their roots and networks where they are, so "just don't live there" isn't a universally applicable "fix".
I've been fortunate enough to be able to move to a place ideally suited to my needs (and as I don't need much I suppose I could move on relatively short notice if needed) but even I recognize that not everyone can afford to follow suit.
Note that he included as an option leaving well before the storm hit. And there was plenty of warning on this storm.
It's not as simple a decision as you're making it out to be.
Probably what should have happened (I'm using my perfect hindsight here..) is they should have told people living in low-lying areas to either go live with relatives or friends who were on high ground, or leave town altogether. And everyone else to stay. This would have prevented the mass exodus that clogged roads during previous storms, but gotten more people to safety.
Despite what I said before, I agree it's a really tricky call, especially for authorities considering a mass evacuation, which is often not the best thing. Houston has a lot of people, that changes everything.
The reports I've seen are describing the Houston situation as a 1 in a 1000 year flood. Does it really make sense to avoid a place based on the possibility of such rare events?
All within 12 years. I think we should stop measuring against data from a different global climate.
Calling it a '100 year flood' makes people think 'oh, good, now we shouldn't have one of those for another ~100 years'. In reality, the odds of a flood of the same magnitude occurring next year are exactly the same as they were this year.
Grady (of the Practical Engineering YouTube channel) has a great video on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EACkiMRT0pc
(Grady is in the Austin area, so hopefully he hasn't too much 'practical' experience from this storm...)
And the risk may be higher than 1/1000 per year given how much motivation is out there to understate the risk and say that nobody could have seen this coming.
Some bottles of water on the rooftop could allow them to stay a little more comfortable until help arrives.
Because a lot of the times going to your farmland cottage is the best option you have. Especially if you know basic farming, a range of macgyverisk skills and how to genuinely become friendly with anyone. (Pandemics, climate change disasters, local riots, social break downs).
Then you have a thing like war or civil war, where you're best option is fleeing to another country as early as possible. Both to get a head start on the other refugees but more importantly, fast enough to beat the eventual border wall.
Which is really the problem with your "guide". You need three things, knowing when to get out and when to hide. Knowing how to live without being dependent on scavaging/stored food/modern society. Knowing how to get along with other people.
If you're an oddball with a lot of guns, food and what not, people are going to murder you to take your shit or they are going to burn you on a pyre for being weird/unliked/different.
I remember reading a few prepper forums and most members there were more focused on homesteading and preparing for social collapse than a more probable (and manageable) natural disaster or unemployment. The former is more exciting and allows them to escape the everyday drudgeries of life, which is probably why people easily lean in that direction.
btw I skimmed your guide and it seems very thorough, but is also super lengthy. I noticed you clearly broke information into distinct sections--perhaps including and outline with those links at the top may help readability? Thanks for writing this.
I think a better question is to what extent having the skills to forage, hunt, and survive in the woods will improve your life quality/expectancy. Of course that's not going to be your #1 plan most of the time, but that seems orthogonal to the value of having those skills.
Eisenhower said it best: Plans are worthless, but planning is priceless.
The author explores a bunch of real-life disaster/survival stories and gets into the mindset qualities displayed by the individuals who survive vs. those that don't.
Towards the end he lists the 10 major mental attitudes that will greatly contribute to a successful outcome.
It is one of my all-time favorite books, I have read it 10+ times.
The idea being that the process of planning makes you more easily able to react when everything goes to shit. Eg don't treat a plan like a recipe for success.
It's a false dichotomy though to say mindset is the only thing that's important, it's the most important but not a panacea.
Also, it's going to suck if there's a massive/gradual increase in prices of food over 10-50 years plus for people whom haven't stockpiled calories, lipids and protein when it was cheap. That's something that can't be fixed without a little preparation:
not going crazy with a bunker and a bunch of crap, just getting the major things right.
Finally, when the food runs out, if you don't have an AR and a defensible homestead, you're gonna be preyed upon by strangers and/or neighbors because that's just human nature.
edit: photo -- http://www.blogto.com/upload/2015/04/20150415-Robarts-Side.j...
The place is a massive, brutalist compound. And the knowledge it contains would be invaluable! Especially for people like me with limited biological or medical knowledge. The practical resources they knowledge would open up would make a massive difference.
That said, I'd probably still carry a proverbial stick.
Anyway, top rate insights.
1400 pages of small print, plenty enough information relative to the time you would have to reference it in an urgent situation.
Slightly more focused on pediatrics, but super useful resource when other literature says "At this point, head to the emergency room or call 911".
Beyond that, there would be a ton of information on mechanics and ecology that I couldn't possibly keep in my head. Books on mycology, and other resources that would help in foraging would allow long walks through the countryside to be feasible. As long as one had some way to transport a small library of such materials!
Neil Strauss (the Rolling Stone writer) wrote Emergency where he documents his tour through prepper-dom. Slight spoiler here, but he ends up coming to the same conclusion you do in your last sentence. He took CERT (community emergency response team) training and that is what he ultimately found to be most satisfying.
@andrewkemendo, can you say more about this? Is there a framework for making that decision based on situation on the ground, etc?
Then on the other hand, if you're in a civil unrest situation outside of your home, moving is better than not.
In scenarios where you're out of municipal water a few days like is happening right now in Houston (Myself and my family have been through Allison, Rita, Ike and now Harvey) then having a water cache for a week is reasonable, though really hard to do, but that's really not what we're talking about.
It really isn't a prepper mentality. It's just how I prefer to live. Quite a bit could happen and my life would remain fairly unchanged.
I don't have these things so much for what people picture as emergencies. I have them because they are pretty necessary to live here. We have fairly high winds and blizzards that mean mains power is not very reliable. We have ice storms that shut things down for a while.
It's a bit of work, but it is enjoyable labor.
I wonder if there are more in garages or more in basements. Hmm.
Definitely an outlier but I would suggest purifying all water you consumer if possible.
But I feel bad for people in places like Las Vegas and much of Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, etc. where foraging for water means death.
I know it's fun to rag on preppers, but in what way is keeping a year of food stocked and rotated through a bad idea? How is having solar panels a bad idea?
Food for a month? Maybe if you live in a region that could easily be cut off in the event of disasters.
Food for a year? Listen, if things turn so badly to shit you need a year of food, food is going to be the least of your worries.
I don't see why this is the case -- saying "doing X is going to be the least of your worries" seems to imply that there are going to be other priorities and "X" will be ignored -- i.e. "charging your phone is going to be the least of your worries." But food... you _need_ food, even if there are other crazy things happening all around you. If that's the case, I can't help thinking it would be better to do the things you CAN do to prepare. One less thing, etc.
Seriously, if the ability to get food to people has been down for a full year, you won't have medicine. You almost certainly won't have fuel, electricity, public order, sanitation, or clean water.
Food for a month doesn't really exist as a need. Either emergency supplies from around the world arrive in less than two weeks, and you are safe, or they don't and you need food for a year.
It's "not a bad idea, just a pointless one" when times are good, and a distraction from better options if something does happen.
However, I can only get lucky like that so many times.
So now I keep the following at home:
* 5 gallons drinking water
* Canned food for a week
* First aid kit
* Matches, lighter, Sterno cans
* Solar USB charger
* Many flashlights with spare batteries, plus a battery-powered lantern
* Hand-crank radio
* Solid liquor collection ;)
* Equipment to make a fresh cup of coffee with no electricity (Sterno, hand-crank coffee grinder, French press)
* A big bucket for, well, sanitation
I've also got my camping supplies, which includes a Coleman stove and a few small propane canisters. Having been in a few floods I will also never live in a ground-floor apartment. I also keep all this stuff boxed up in plastic crates, so if I needed to evacuate I could load up my car with all this gear in about 20 minutes and be on my way. My goal is to be able to survive a week trapped in my apartment with no utilities, or living out of my car for the same amount of time.
I bike to work and in my pannier I keep a Leatherman multitool, pocket knife, latex gloves (mostly for fixing my bike chain, but also useful in other emergencies), 3M N99 mask, flashlight, poncho, a garbage bag and a small thing of duct tape. In most of the kinds of disasters that hit Colorado, I would be able to get home, either walking or by bike. I only live about three miles from work.
One of the things I added was a 'suture kit'. This is a sealed set of supplies (the mechanics) that would let anyone trained in emergency medical care to address a fairly major laceration. I don't have those skills but as we have observed in disasters people with those skills tend to be fairly evenly distributed through the affected population but supplies for them to anything about it are impossible to get. As a result I've encouraged people to carry one "part" of a complete medical load out so that when they converge post disaster they will be able to assemble the necessary supplies for any doctors, nurses, or PAs in the group to work with. It also keeps peoples earthquake supplies from being a 'target' by looters who would look for drugs. No single individual has anything really 'loot worthy' for those people.
Twitch Plays Medical Monopoly
The cell network went down south of us during the eclipse but repeaters were still running just fine. Even if you don't have a license you're allowed to transmit in emergency situations.
Bah, a 2m radio is useful for more than EOW scenarios. I used mine just this past week during the eclipse thingy. No cell connection where we were at, but I could hear the local repeater and could make simplex contacts. Found out that Madras, OR was just as much of a goat rodeo as predicted, and just general chat. Had we had an emergency, I would have used the DeLorme (now Garmin) InReach satellite communicator, but probably would have tried to raise someone on the radio as well. And the InReach still relies on some infrastructure being in place (so I assume). Even if it all goes to hell, one radio will always be able to talk to another that's in range (which won't be but a few miles with a handheld, prolly 20 max).
For other camping scenarios, I've found the radio handy for getting the local lay of the land from time to time.
If one wants to purchase a radio, take the minimal time and effort to get a license. Sure, you can transmit in emergency situations, but that won't do you a damned bit of good if you don't know how to get the repeater to retransmit your signal, or what the calling frequencies are, or what all those buttons on the radio do. Take a class or read a book, get the license, know what the hell you're doing. There's a reason amateur radio operation is licensed, and it's not just to get $50 out of you every ten years.
It took me weeks to get my radio set up exactly how I like it, but now I can tune into emergency services, GMRS/FRS, Marine VHF, and hundreds of ham repeaters throughout the NYC metro area.
My two key takeaways so far are A: you will not be able to look up what frequencies are used by which services if you don't plan ahead of time. RadioReference and RepeaterBook are useless if you can't get online. Your radio will be useless if you don't take the time to program it for your needs ahead of time. B: If you expect to lean on your radio for communication, there is simply no way to assess it's capabilities unless you put it to use, and for this you really ought to get a license. The technician class license only requires a passing score on a 35 question test. It should be well within reach for many of the technically minded folks who read this forum.
As far as general emergency preparedness goes for myself, what I like to do is take on hobbies with an emergency/survival aspect to them. I go hiking and camping and have the bare necessities to survive in the wilderness for a while. I do ham radio so I can figure out what the hell is going on if the cell network or internet becomes inaccessible, and I play Airsoft with my buddies every once in a while, which affords me some gear and a skill I'll hopefully never need to use off the field. I do all these things because they are interesting to me. The survival/preparedness aspect is just an additional benefit / excuse.
That depends on how you do it. I have a friend in the AirSoft industry. He has described to me events that simulate urban combat. They are held on military bases using military training equipment -- realistic smells (gunpowder, sewage, gangrene), sounds, and scenery. I believe the term for such things is MilSim. They attract both retired and active military personnel. The tactics they use at such events are the tactics that work in the real world.
That's how I passed my General test, using a flashcard app. I studied the theory and practice as well, but for passing the test I just flat out memorized the answers.
The reason I don't do that with the Extra test is because there's a lot of that stuff I truly need to study up on, and I don't want to "pass" a test for material I have little clue about.
True, but I'd say get a license anyway so that you can at least practice live with the radio before an emergency.
All that is needed for 2 meters in the US is a Technician class ham license, which requires getting 26 questions right on a 35 question multiple choice exam.
I'm confident that most people on HN could learn enough to pass in a weekend of casual preparation, assuming they have had high school physics or equivalent.
The test is divided into several subsections, with only a handful of questions from each subsection, so even if you are weak on some particular area the impact is limited.
The question pool is available to the public and there are excellent apps and websites that will drill you with the actual questions. After a weekend of that many people find that they have accidentally memorized the answers.
There are no FCC fees for the test or license. Third parties actually conduct the test, and they are allowed to charge. The largest organization giving tests, the ARRL, charges $15 I believe. There are smaller groups that don't cover the whole US that are cheaper, or even free.
The license is good for 10 years, renewal is free, and does not require any additional testing. (The only time you need additional testing is to upgrade to a higher class of license, which gives you access to more frequency bands and/or more power and/or more operating modes).
You can get a handheld 2 meter transceiver for $30ish.
So...under $50 to get licensed AND get a radio!
(Of course you CAN spend a lot more on a radio if you wish. I have a Kenwood handheld that transmits on 2 meters, 1.5 meters, and 70 cm, and can receive everything from 10 KHz to 1.3 GHz minus cell phone frequencies, and can receive on two frequencies at once. It was around $300).
Two recommendations for those who decide to do this:
1. Before you apply for a license create an account at the FCC site. That will assign you an FCC ID number, which you can give to the testing organization when you take the test.
If you don't have an FCC ID number you have to give the testing organization your Social Security number.
2. Once you have your license, people can look you up by call sign at the FCC site. The information available includes your name and address. If you don't want your home address published that way, you can register with a PO box.
For the cheapest, almost "disposable" radio it's hard to beat the Baofeng UV-5R at $30. However they aren't the most reliable and they tend to be pretty spotty in terms of how clean they are(broadcasting on frequencies other than you're transmitting). They're also a total PITA to program, but for emergencies you can put them on 146.520(national calling frequency) and leave it there.
A little step up from that is Yaesu's FT-60R. It's a lot more robust, easier to program and generally much more solid. It also costs a fair bit more($180).
I usually carry a Yaesu VX-8DR however it's overkill for most people. I mostly have it because you can drop it into a few feet of water without issue and it does APRS so I can send "text" messages and see status of other APRS beacons near me. It's also pretty darn expensive at $370.
All of these will also receive FM radio, NOAA radio and any of the un-encrypted Fire/EMS/Police bands so that's handy as well.
With a handheld tranciever the best you can look for is 2-5mi depend on terrain between who's receiving you. If you've got a repeater nearby, those tend to be ~100W(as opposed to 5W HTs usually do) and positioned well. Usually they cover anywhere from 30-100mi(we've got one in Centralia that I can pick up from Portland to Seattle).
Regular radios start in the 25-100W range and get out 10-30mi depending on terrain but those are usually a lot more involved to setup. One nifty thing is most dual band radios these days will do cross-band receiving so you can put your HT on 70cm and have it retransmit via the larger radio on 2m. If you have it setup in your car that's a nice setup for a quick an dirty repeater.
They certainly aren't a match for Yaesu/Icom/Kenwood, it's pretty well known that most transmit well above the FCC rules for interference  .
It would often make sense to have two units, by the way. (Oh, and by all means get a licence - it is not difficult, and it gives you opportunity to learn how to use the device before you need it...
The FT-60 can also be modified to transmit on other radio service bands (like FRS/GMRS/Marine VHF), though it is only legal to transmit on those bands with non-type-approved hardware in honest-to-god emergencies.
I always cringe at the prepper types who boast about how much they spend on their arsenal, but cheap out on radio gear. Realistically, cooperation ensures the best chance of survival. A good radio and an aftermarket whip antenna will be more useful in all situations besides the end of the world.
You only need a license to transmit.
Getting ourselves through a week might not be bad, but throw in family and [young?] children to the mix, and things get dicey and really complex.
Earthquakes though, are unpredicatable and they arrive with zero notice. And should the worst happen in an earthquake, you would not need many of the supplies in the list above.
Water, canned food, first aid kit, radio, a megaphone and a flashlight in a backpack. Packed, ready, and placed in your potential escape route.
I've experienced earthquakes, cyclones/hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfire, flooding, blizzards, and all kinds of severe weather - they're all awful in their own way but being caught in a tornado outbreak (30 in 90mins, some over a mile wide) was by far the worst I've experienced - sheltering for hours while sirens scream, drains howl as tornadoes go past, and the roof peels off is up there with the helplessness of being stuck in a violently shaking building for a few minutes (I've experienced a few 7+ shakes and also lost friends and family to earthquakes that destroyed my home town so know how intense that can be).
I have a Primus Omnifuel, which can burn propane, white gas, gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel. It needs preheat using alcohol or to burn the latter two though.
I'd say you were UNlucky so far to have been involved in all of those incidents in the first place. Or was it not by accident?
No one I met at this time — doctors, nurses, practicantes, or fellow-patients — failed to assure me that a man who is hit through the neck and survives it is the luckiest creature alive. I could not help thinking that it would be even luckier not to be hit at all.
Two, you're assuming that I also don't have a firearm. I actually don't, but you're still making a big assumption that whoever you try to steal from can't fight back. How much overlap do you think there is between emergency preparedness and firearm possession? Certainly in Colorado, even Boulder, that's not a bet I would be willing to take.
This is a situation where you get one shot, since emergency services likely won't be able to save you if you get shot. If you've got a handgun but I've got a pump-action shotgun packing buckshot, I would have a decent shot since I only need to aim in your general direction but you have to aim pretty well, in a stressful situation that you've probably never been in. Ever shot someone?
Three, consider what you're honestly suggesting here. I'm not anti-firearm, but I am against the the disgusting sentiment you espouse in that post.
It never really gets talked about much, but if the people who like to brag about their guns somehow think they're the only ones who own guns, they're going to be very surprised in an actual emergency situation. Plenty of people quietly own a gun and would be willing to use it to defend their property again criminals.
I mean if you think about it, how many people own a bicycle? Now how many people are dressed in spandex in public bragging about their VO2 max? There are a lot more quiet, casual bikers than there are braggadocios bikers. You just only hear/see the ones out bragging about it.
(edit: people keep responding to me as if I have left myself vulnerable...uh sure, you know the LTE tower I connected to HN from)
Still, you cannot separate emergency preparedness and self-protection. Anyone who questions this should look back at Hurricane Katrina or the LA riots.
You should expect some of those people living under onramps in SF will attempt to upgrade to Pac Heights in the event of an absence of civil order...
> And I have a Glock 17 and a years' worth of ammo, so I don't need to stockpile the other stuff, you are doing it for me.
Maybe I'm just bad at trap/skeet but in my experience you still have to aim with a shotgun! ;)
Because if one of them hits you, you're a goner. It's not a rational option to try to steal shit because someone out there will shoot you, and then you'll die. It won't matter that you shot fifteen people before you got shot because life doesn't have a K-D ratio.
my original reply was more a play on words as to what one can expect from others...you should assume desperation and access to weapons...this is America not Lichtenstein
Do you think it would be worthwhile to go so far?
I'm being really sarcastic, but it's kind of hilarious to post such an abrasive comment while not even noticing that they aren't in California.
Great, you have a sidearm that presumably fires 9mm ammunition that you are qualified to shoot downrange. I stock pile not only food, water, and medical supplies, but carry a 9mm of my own and have far more useful home defense weaponry in the form of a Mossberg 500 Flex (as well as various rifles that I don't expect to be all that handy if things really do go down). I also own ballistic vests.
If you wanted to be edgy about looting people, you could have picked something besides a sidearm.
What's more, I'm more than happy to use my skills and equipment to equip and train neighbors in the event it were necessary. I have lots of guns and ammo because I enjoy them, not because I see them as magical talismans or because I intend to use them against the innocent during civil unrest.
The stereotype of a slightly-unhinged and heavily-armed prepper is just that - a stereotype. In truth most people who the general public would call "preppers" are like me; I have enough "stuff" to get my family through reasonable hard times and the rest of my capital is spent trying to build a foundation for retirement.
One family like mine in a small community with a few other families all pitching in, given basic training and loaned arms would be handily deter the opportunistic during a Katrina-scale "event".
IMO if you don't have a case of water, a road map, and a change of walking-around clothes in your car around here, you're asking for smiting. Fortunately that's about $10 in total, and you can drink the water even if there's not an earthquake.
Additionally, near everything that would be handy in case of an earthquake (gloves, pry bar, basic trauma supplies, etc) is useful in case of a car crash, which actually is far more likely.
However, Just In Time doesn't just permeate our supply chains, but many people's personal lives. So the lists of what it takes to ride out life's inevitable curve balls grow ever longer.
During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, citizens banded together and helped each other other because emergency services were overwhelmed. Afterwards, they reached out to the fire department to ask for formal training and thus NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Team) was born.
When the next big earthquake hits California, we still won't be ready. However if neighbors pitch in and can put out small fires and shut off gas leaks before they turn into anything more serious, then that's one less neighborhood the fire department has on their to-do list.
I highly recommend anyone in earthquake country to take a NERT/CERT class to help out their neighborhood.
From talking to other medics, I see that most of us carry simple useful tools, such as a cloth triangle, everywhere we go. And we're well-versed in improvising.
Virginia's Good Samaritan law: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter3/secti...
Do note that the licensing is done at the state level, so there are 50+ similar standards, not just one.
Most first-world countries are not obsessed with self-elevation and interest resulting from their own infrastructure breaking down
Third-world countries might be more the incubator you're hoping for but they generally don't care what happens to the non wealthy (and the wealthy's FO plans there as with everywhere don't involve looting cars on interstates)
So if I were to guess, I'd go with no, no "other countries have tried this out".
E.g. in much of Europe you're not getting a driving licence without passing a first aid+CPR course, and every car must have a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
Also, I recall that USSR had mandatory civil defence courses in universities - so everyone with a college degree, no matter if it's medicine or math, will have had a full semester of disaster followup & related issues; didn't USA have something similar during the cold war?
Medical training varies from team to team, but a minimum of wilderness first aid is pretty typical. EMT is pretty popular too.
you should rotate stock like that anyway to prevent it from unknowingly going bad
So it isn't as though it "goes bad" like food does, but the safety factor against unsafe handling goes away.
The other problem is that materials from an unsuitable storage container could slowly leach into the water, like plasticizers or metals. If you store water in mason jars and seal them as though it were food to be preserved, that water will not "go bad" until the lid rusts through, and depending on the possible contaminants, you can probably still drink it after bringing it back up to a boil.
As for myself, I keep much of my water stockpile frozen in plastic 2L bottles, because it keeps the freezer temperature more stable under normal circumstances, and keeps the rest of the stuff in the freezer frozen longer in case of power outages. You can always pull one out and drop it into a cooler for short outings, to keep the drinks and egg salad cold. And then, after it melts, you can still drink it. The only tradeoff is that it takes up space in there.
Stuff like BPA is not acutely toxic. There are some concerns about long-term ("subchronic") exposures spanning a decade or more, and even there, there is basically no clear evidence of adverse effects on humans.
Besides, BPA and its ilk are a concern chiefly with a variety of fancier, transparent plastics. Food-grade HDPE and polypropylene jugs are of relatively little concern. They are just not particularly pretty, so they don't sell.
Steel and glass are two other options, although many steel bottles are lined with epoxy or other coatings. Plus, in a car accident, I'd rather have a soft HDPE jug flying around...
Probably still OK in an emergency though.
Plastic also has the advantage that you can use it to sterilize water. Glass blocks too much UV, but a couple of days in the sun will disinfect water in a clear plastic container. You can have safe water indefinitely just by rotating containers (at least here in the Pacific Northwet, where availability of some kind of fresh water is more or less assured).
I honestly think this another example of the huge class divide in America causing such a negative outlook on other people, similar to how slave owners lived in comfort, but also constant paranoia. Perhaps we should work on improving conditions for the bottom of society, so we can have an expectation of helping each other when the shit goes down.
Lots of preppers do it because they want to be able to help their community in a crisis. They also actively work to prevent the disasters from happening in the first place. Being prepared in case they do is just a smart hedge.
Here are two quotes from one of our posts about why people prep:
Debbie W. from Liberal Preppers says, “I want to develop — and share — skills that are useful to the community at large, that increase the likelihood of the community as a whole prospering in adversity.”
Kevin R. told us that he believes “the movement is expanding from the traditional stereotypical prepper to non-white, non-cisgendered people taking more responsibility for their self sufficiency, taking control of their lives, learning skills and obtaining tools to take care of neighbors as well as their immediate family.”
> Rather than assuming that society will come together in a crisis and help each other out
I grew up in an area where during good weather and normal times, police and EMS response could be an hour or more. If you're cutting a field on a tractor and manage to crush your hand in the PTO, having a tourniquet and medical supplies is the difference between life and death. Likewise, if there is a half inch of ice on the ground and you slide off the road on your way home, having warm clothing, blankets, food, and water can keep you from dying of exposure before someone happens by.
For my daily life "back home", there is no "society" to pull together. For immediate emergencies, it's often just you. For the short-term events described in the article it's you, your family, and perhaps a neighboring family or two.
> armed to the teeth against dangerous others who are undoubtedly coming to take our shit.
Again, police response is an hour away - crime happens even in rural areas. If you don't take measures to protect yourself, you're simply unprotected.
That's not even considering that there are uses for firearms other than defense against human beings. I've dispatched many injured animals on the side of the road; I can't imagine having to leave them in agony to die of exposure, or waiting that aforementioned hour for someone else with a gun to arrive and do what I could have done in seconds for pennies. It's cruel.
> It's sad.
No, it's _different_. Incomprehensibly different, if living in close proximity to others is all you know.
> I honestly think this another example of the huge class divide in America
This is a cultural thing, not a class thing. It may appear to be based on economic factors because rural areas are typically much poorer than urban ones, and because the urban poor are far more at risk of being a victim of violent crime, but in my experience it's clearly a rural/urban difference.
If they didn't, they died.
But seriously, you seem to imply it's bad that people plan ahead, for when shit hits the fan, and somehow those people are the bad guys? Maybe that's not what you intended, but it's what you seem to imply.
No one's arguing that anyone has been entirely self-reliant, let alone that preppers today are. That's just a straw man you're bringing into the conversation. The prepper mindset is simply to be as self-reliant as they can be, even if they can't be entirely self reliant.
Have been prepping in the SF / startup community for almost 10 years and teaching other techies how to prep for a long time, but historically was face to face because of stigma, etc.
We started The Prepared because prepping is very rational and it's gone mainstream enough to have threads like this on HN.
Beginners checklist here: https://theprepared.com/guides/emergency-preparedness-checkl...
Post on reasons why liberals should be preppers: https://theprepared.com/blog/five-reasons-why-liberals-shoul...
Happy to help anyone in their journey.
(long time personal HN members but this is a new account)
As someone else said, very sane people like Musk, Hawkings, and Gates are warning of AI CRISPR.
It's not the cliche SkyNet or Ghost in the Shell stuff per se. For example, automation and how it's effecting the economy really does matter, regardless of how much we in the valley would like to avoid that narrative.
Ehhhh... those folks are smart but none of them would make a top 10 list of the sanest people according to me.
> It's not the cliche SkyNet or Ghost in the Shell stuff per se. For example, automation and how it's effecting the economy really does matter
Sure, but this sounds like a cop-out in context.
Why does that sound like a cop out? Economic decline, the U.S. erosion of the fundamentals of a quality life, overpopulation / too many dependents and not enough young workers, etc... those are all valid reasons to prepare.
As is preparing for car accidents, sudden layoffs, floods, and so on.
And maybe this is silly and unfair, but to me "AI" in the context of prepping suggests very particular things. What you're describing should probably be called "social unrest" or "revolution" caused by displacement of labor.
That being said, I'm personally not sure if one should put too much weight on his opinions regarding that matter.
I'm still more of a prepper lurker that's reading up on this stuff while friends are starting to take it more seriously. I personally don't know if prepping is a fad like cold war-era nuclear bunkers, a potential lifesaver like a beefed up version of the red cross emergency kits, or somewhere in between as a useful hobby like hiking and camping, but my inner research nerd is having a great time learning more.
It helps that my YC team was a product review website and there's a lot of gear junkies in the survivalist crowd, so that's been my entry point into it, not so much the angle on being freaked out about the news.
Our URL redirects are for our analytics.
Here is my own list of concerns from 1999 (I'd add supervolcanoes and Cascadia subduction zone to that list now -- and of course replace Y2K with the Year 2038 problem):
Here is a picture of what happened to my mother's home city in the Netherlands when she was a teenager -- her family's house burned during the initial invasion -- and then she saw people including an elderly relative starve to death a couple years later -- so disasters do happen and sometimes seemingly out of the blue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_bombing_of_Rotterdam#/m...
Most US Americans may ignore this fact, but our lives in the USA are completely dependent on the continual error-free functioning of decades-old Soviet missile-launch computers built with computer chips we tried to sabotage:
"To deter the possibility of a U.S. nuclear first-strike, the Soviets created a system called Perimeter, also known as "Dead Hand." The Dead Hand was a computer system that could autonomously launch all of the USSR's nuclear weapons once it was activated, across the entirety of the Soviet Union."
Let's hope those 1970s-era Soviet computer engineers knew how to build reliable systems from unreliable components! But, it still may be prudent to prepare for the situation where those Soviet computers eventually fail in some unexpected way.
Example: "99 red ballons - Nena" (but failing from a large earthquake misinterpreted as a nuclear strike may be more likely):
Humans have become a geological force with all our technologies of abundance -- including control of nuclear energy as well as massive use of fossil fuels. But then we ignore the implications of all that technology because dealing with the implications requires thinking differently -- and thinking differently can be hard, expensive, and sometimes painful. Related humor on the difficulty of thinking differently: "Star Wars: The Death Star Cantina | WDR" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yl_reBjVqU
As Albert Einstein said, "The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking ... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. (1945)".
Of course, any Apple watch these days has more power than the computers used to design the first atomic weapons.
"[N]o other book has engaged so intelligently and disconcertingly with the digital age's relationship to nuclear weapons research, not just as a moral quandary to do with funding, but as an indispensable developmental influence, producing the conceptual tools that would unlock the intellectual power of the computer."
I generalized Einstein's theme for our new century to: "The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."