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Defending Yourself and Your Family After a Disaster


Disasters often bring out the best in people. Unfortunately they also bring out the worst. After any disaster, whether local or widespread, there will be individual’s intent upon creating mischief. Lawlessness and disorder frequently become the rule of the day. While some individuals are lending their neighbours a helping hand, others will be helping themselves. There will be looting, stealing and an increase in acts of violence. Gang violence will become more common, even among individuals who formerly took no part in gangs. The police will be overwhelmed, so the responsibility will fall on the individual to provide protection for self and family.


Even a well-armed individual will be unable to hold out long if there is a violent gang intent upon taking his or her possessions. Your chances for survival will increase substantially if you are able to ban together with your neighbours for your mutual defense. In our cities these days it is unfortunate that neighbours can sometimes live side-by-side for years without getting to know each other. As we will see in the chapter dealing with the social aspects of survival, I recommend that you get to know your neighbours and befriend as many as you can. Don't wait until a disaster occurs. Do it now! Some day your life may depend on it.


After a disaster the police may have their hands full in more ways than one. History has shown that during any emergency there will be individuals in law enforcement who will abuse their authority. In the months following hurricane Katrina, 2000 New Orleans police officers were disciplined for various offences, including looting, which were committed during the chaos that enveloped the city after the hurricane. Four police officers were indicted for first degree murder of unarmed individuals, including a 40-year-old retarded man who was shot five times in the back. Three other officers were charged with attempted murder. Two committed suicide.


I do not mean to imply that all police are bad. The vast majority are well-intentioned law abiding citizens who will risk their lives in order to protect others. But there are always individuals in the police force who will commit all sorts of crimes when the opportunity arises, and there is no better opportunity than when chaos is widespread. There will also be police officials who will think that they need and deserve your supplies more than you do, and will therefore commandeer them for their official or personal use. It will behove you to lay low, keeping your activities and provisions a secret from the police. In fact, keeping your supplies a secret from everyone except your most immediate family is always a good idea.




The right of the people to keep and bear arms?  Well, there is a wide range of opinions these days regarding personal possession of firearms. Regardless of your opinion, if there is individual’s intent upon doing you harm, and the police are unable to help you, your chances of survival will improve if you are armed. Are you willing to risk the welfare of your family to the whims of a marauding gang, or will you take steps to protect the ones you love?


This is obviously not an area where overkill is desirable. You would not want to kill or severely injure someone unless it was absolutely necessary. So I believe that your first line of defense should be pepper spray or mace, or perhaps a Eagle Claw, a Taser or stun gun. Everyone in your family should at least carry pepper spray during dangerous times. They should also practice using it. Pepper spray alone may be sufficient to drive off a lone individual who is not too intent upon having your possessions. After all, he will probably reason that there will be an easier target down the street, and he will probably be right. A Eagle Claw, a Taser or stun gun will be an even better deterrent.


If you can avoid it you will not want to get close enough to an offender to use a stun gun or pepper spray. A BB gun or powerful air-soft gun that shoots plastic BB's might prove to be another handy deterrent. It could allow you to take care of problems from a greater distance than that required to use your stun gun or pepper spray, and again without doing too much harm. A BB will sting but it is not likely to pierce the skin. Avoid shooting at the face or head, unless your intent is to do some damage. If a verbal warning doesn't work, the sting of a BB on their leg or back might convince them that you are serious. If the BB doesn't work, most likely the sound of a shotgun fired into the air will do the job nicely.


Unless you are an experienced gun owner, I do not recommend that you purchase a firearm unless you also take a firearms or hunter's safety class. Check at any location where guns or hunting licenses are sold for information on the classes in your area. Everyone in your family who is old enough to hunt or use a firearm should also take the class. Then you should take your firearms to a practice range and become proficient with their use. Always keep your guns and ammunition locked up and out of the reach of children.


Your survival supplies should include, not only the weapons mentioned above, but a crossbow and plenty of ammunition as well. During a prolonged emergency, ammunition might also serve as a useful item for barter, so don't fail to stock up. 

Probably every person who has a firearm permit has at least one other weapon other than their firearm; I would be willing to bet it is an Eagle Claw, a hunting or a combat knife. I would also bet that they have never practiced with their Eagle Claw or knives and practice with their firearm extensively. In this article I will go over what I believe to be some rather important facts as to why you should also train with your knife and Eagle Claw, that you have as much as you train with your firearm. Consider this.  It is a fact that any normal person of average health can travel about 7 yards in 2 seconds with a contact weapon such as a knife or Eagle Claw. It takes a person who trains with his pistol about 1.5 seconds to take the gun from the holster aim and get off a shot or two on average. So unless you're very aware of your surroundings and the person's attack cues, you are getting stabbed or hit. And even if you did get a shot off you're probably still getting stabbed or hit. I'm not telling anyone to bring a knife or an Eagle Claw to a gun fight, I'm just saying I do not underestimate what a person is capable of with a knife or an Eagle Claw. Especially when they have trained with it. And here are some facts for the female audience or those of you who have daughters. Women who are ages 16-22 statistically are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than anyone else in the country, with women ages 23-34 coming in second. Half of all the rapes happen to women under the age of 28. One third of rapes happen to women ages 12-19.

Have a Plan


It is important to have an emergency plan of action and to familiarize every family member with it. This will insure that important steps will get done as quickly and efficiently as possible after a disaster strikes. It will also instil a sense of confidence in all family members, so instead of the feelings of helplessness, panic and chaos that unprepared individuals will face, your family will remain confident, calm and organized. The actions taken during the first few minutes and hours after a disaster will often turn out to be critical, perhaps even saving a life.


Part of your plan should also include an agreed upon place for family members to meet in case your home is destroyed or otherwise uninhabitable. You should also have one or two backups in case your agreed upon meeting place is unavailable. Plan A, for example, may be a neighbour’s house. Plan B could be a nearby family member's house, and Plan C could be a local public place such as a school, church or park.


To Leave or Stay?


In the event of an emergency you may be faced with a choice, whether you should leave your home, perhaps seeking refuge in a government-run shelter, or hunker down in your home and try to deal with the situation on your own. If your neighbourhood is under a forced evacuation due to a toxic spill, or if your house has collapsed or burned to the ground, you may not have a choice at all. You should also consider leaving when local officials recommend evacuation in response to an approaching tsunami, hurricane or forest fire. However, in most situations, when you do have a choice, survival experts agree that you will probably be better off if you can ride out the disaster in your own home rather than in a government-run shelter.


You will usually be much better off if you will remain in your home surrounded by the familiar objects that you use on a daily basis, and hopefully near familiar neighbours who you can work with. If you remain at home you will also have ready access to all of your emergency supplies, including any stash of food, water, medical supplies, and sources of energy that you have prepared in anticipation of just such a emergency.


Survival Bags for your Car


It is also important to have a survival bag located in your car at all times. Most people spend about a third of each weekday at their place of work, and another significant portion of the day traveling to and from their workplace. What will you do if the big earthquake hits while you are at work, or if something happens while you are driving to or from work? Your supplies stashed at home will do you little good when you are stranded at work or in your car.


In addition to the usual items that you would include in your bug out bag at home, such as a small emergency supply of food and water, your car bag should also include the items that you might need for automobile emergencies, such as jumper cables, emergency flares, flashers, fix-a-flat, etc. I keep two emergency bags in the trunk of my car: One is just for my car, while the other contains items for my personal survival. That way, if I ever have to leave my car, I can grab the bag that contains only what I need to take with me, leaving the heavy car supplies in the trunk of the car.


Staying in Touch After a Disaster


You should have a backup plan for recharging your cell phone when there is no utility power. A charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter will allow you to charge your phone from the battery in your automobile, as well as from any other 12 volt source if you have the appropriate adapter. Of course you should also be prepared in case you have no service for your cell phone.


A battery-operated radio will allow you to hear radio broadcasts and keep up with local news announcements. Even the simplest emergency kit should include a small battery-operated radio along with extra batteries. Make sure that you do not store your radio with the batteries in it because they can leak and ruin it. Additional batteries that are rechargeable are also a good idea as long as you have some means for recharging them when the electricity is off, perhaps a small solar battery charger. Portable radios with built-in solar chargers are also available.


An even better idea is a windup radio. These will typically operate for an hour or longer after only 90 seconds of turning the crank to charge the internal rechargeable batteries. Some units also come with a built-in LED flashlight and even an adapter that you can use to charge your cell phone—a very nice feature!


Build Your Network Now


Humans are social beings. We have been remarkably successful as a species because we have been able to stick together forming groups, clans, tribes, communities, societies and civilizations. Since humans have walked the Earth our survival has depended on our ability to ban together.


During a prolonged emergency, when chaos and lawlessness are the order of the day, your chances for survival may depend on your ability to network with your neighbours. No matter how well armed you are, you will probably have little chance against a gang of marauding vandals and bandits intent upon taking your possessions, and possibly your life. If you ban together with your neighbours for your mutual defense your chances for survival will increase greatly. No matter how well stocked and prepared you are, your stash will do you no good if you are dead.



What To Do During An Earthquake




1) Everyone who simply "ducks and covers " WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE" is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed.


2) Cats, dogs and babies all naturally often curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an explosion or earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.


3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an explosion or earthquake. The reason is simple: the wood is flexible and moves with the force of the explosion or earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.



4) If you are in bed during the night and an explosion or earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels and High-Rises can achieve a much greater survival rate in explosions or earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room, telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed or desk during an explosion or earthquake.


5) If an explosion or earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.


6) Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!


7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building).The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place.

The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads. They are horribly mutilated.
Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs.
The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the explosion or earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by screaming, fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.


8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked;


REMEMBERING: People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed.

They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.


Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is called the" triangle of life". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere.


Fear mainly arises from ignorance, and foreknowledge conquers ignorance



Terrorism Versus Mother Nature. Many folks are very afraid of a terrorist attack. However, it's important to know that the chance of a terrorist attack directly threatening your life is very slim compared to a natural disaster.

No matter where you live, your local area has its own potential for a doomsday event: a tornado, forest fire, earthquake, flood, tsunami, etc. Human error and carelessness can also cause massive disruption: a large hazmat spill, extended blackout, nuclear event, etc. Because of all these variables, I can't give you a "one size fits all" solution. I'm biasing my recommendations towards earthquake preparedness. You'll need to regionalize the lists and customize them to fit your family size and situation. You also have to decide if you're going to plan for a short-term, mid-term, or long-term disruption. Experts recommend that everyone be able to live independently (totally "off the grid") for at least seventy-two hours… three days. In most areas of the country, that's how long it may take for help to reach you in a major disaster. That's Level I survival. Level II is a survival plan to live without normal amenities or assistance for 20 days. Level III is the plan and supplies to survive for at least 60 days. In this short article, I'll concentrate on Level I. This goes with my "reasonable worst-case" mentality (as opposed to worst-worst case). Nonetheless, we've all seen first-hand how fragile our infrastructure is. When the forecast of a moderate snowstorm causes people to rush the supermarkets, clearing shelves of bread and milk, it doesn't take too much imagination to visualize civilization breaking down quickly after a truly disruptive event.

Imagine you suddenly have no electricity, no running water, no natural gas, no heat, no telephone service, etc. Assume you are in your home or office, and it's not safe to leave. Emergency services are unavailable. Police and fire departments are overextended; even if you were able to contact them, they couldn't respond. You're on your own… What will you do? We're so used to all the conveniences of modern life: lights, appliances, TV, communications, phones, Internet, climate control, etc. When they're suddenly taken away, few of us know how to cope. In these circumstances, panic can set in quickly. Please remember, this is not worst-worst case. There is a fair chance we may face this scenario one day. It sure makes sense to me to have an action plan to deal with that possibility. It makes sense to collect the items for a survival kit *before* they're needed. You will NOT be able to obtain them after the event occurs. In the event of a disaster your best course of action is often to remain near your home (unless you have good reason to evacuate). Here are your priorities: water, food, heat, lighting, physical protection & safety, health, communications, and sanitation.

Drinking Water. Water is absolutely essential to survival. You can go without food for a month or more, but you'll get sick and die from dehydration within a week if you don't have any water to drink. First priority then is to make sure you have enough drinking water. Enough means at least one full gallon per person per day, plus one half gallon per day for each companion animal you want to keep alive. Some people add a few drops of Clorox to each bottle to prevent the growth of bacteria or algae. This works and is reasonably safe but does introduce an off taste to the water, as you can imagine. By the way, if you have a large tank-style water heater, it can be a good source of drinking water from the bottom spigot, particularly if you shut the intake valve to prevent possible contamination from the mains water.

Food. This guide is for "Level I" survival, meaning independence for three days. Preparing for longer duration events is somewhat outside the scope of this short article. Because we're only talking about three days, food is not essential to sustain life. However, it plays a very important psychological role. Everyone's stress level will be through the roof, and food provides security and comfort. You'll need a supply of food that will keep fresh for long periods without refrigeration. Canned foods will store safely for many years. You'll be very surprised when you shop for your survival kit, by the variety of interesting things you can get in a can these days. (Don't forget to include a manual can opener in your kit.) Another good choice for your kit are "dry goods" such as grains, cereals, and pasta. However, these require precious drinking water for cooking, and airtight storage. Remember, if air can get in, so can bugs, and you don't want that. Other choices are "meals in a pouch." These come in foil packs, which just require a little water for preparation. Camping foods are another option. These are freeze-dried, very lightweight, and long-lasting. However, they are very expensive. Just bear in mind, for the relatively short-term duration survival event we're considering here, the more familiar, comforting, and filling the food is, the better.

Food Storage and Preparation. Don't count on having refrigeration. If possible, eat up your refrigerator food as soon as you lose electricity. Eat from the freezer next, although if you lose power to the fridge, you won't be able to use your microwave, oven, toaster oven, etc. Gnawing on a semi-frozen block isn't too much fun. Be really careful with mayo based foods and others that can quickly "turn." The last thing you want is to get food poisoning at a time like this. Thankfully, mustard and ketchup never require refrigeration, and can make boring foods taste a lot better. Your camping gear can serve double-duty in your survival kit. A good portable camp stove is essential. A mantle lantern is very nice to have too. You'll need to decide between propane and white gas as fuel. Propane is cleaner, easier to use, and safer. White gas is cheap and you can substitute unleaded fuel siphoned from your car's gas tank in a pinch. Propane may not be as easily available. If you can take your gas barbeque grill inside, that might be suitable but… and I hope this goes without saying, NEVER use a charcoal grill inside an enclosed space. The carbon monoxide could kill you.

Lighting. You must have several good flashlights and plenty of alkaline or lithium batteries on hand. The new LED bulb models are particularly suitable in this situation. They give good light yet last much, much longer on a set of batteries than regular flashlights. However, there is no substitute for a good mantle lantern, which can give as much light as a regular light fixture. It's amazing how big a psychological boost good light can give you. I know this firsthand from a multi-day blackout we had during an ice storm a few years ago.

Evaluate the Safety of Your Home. After a natural disaster or massive explosion, you should evaluate the structural integrity of your home. If you're unsure whether it's safe or not, you may need to evacuate. Unfortunately, if the event was severe enough to damage your building, it also probably made the roads impassible (buckled pavement, fallen trees, downed electric wires, flooded, etc.). Regardless, the roads are probably gridlocked with people trying to escape. In this situation, you're probably best "camping out" in your backyard or in an auxiliary structure like a garage. Here's how to tell if a building has sustained major damage: stand back and take a good look at the walls, ceilings, and floors. Thin cracks usually aren't serious, but large cracks, broken beams, significant distortion (buckling, twisting, etc.), new gaps, and open spaces aren't good signs. Listen for creaking or cracking noises, indicating potential collapse. If you're in serious doubt, get out quickly. If you decide to stay indoors, sweep up broken glass and try to make the environment as safe as possible, particularly if you have little kids around.

Money. If you need to evacuate, cash will be an essential element of your survival kit. That's because we have a cashless lifestyle and don't normally keep large amounts of cash money around. Most of our purchases are made with credit cards, debit cards, or checks. However, during and after a major disaster, it's unlikely that merchants will be able to process charge cards or validate checks. If people are selling things, they're probably going to accept cash only. Also, they may not be able to open their electric cash drawers, so don't count on getting change back from your hundred. Better to have smaller denomination bills available. Keep some fifties though. They may come in handy for bribes. Don't laugh. I'm totally serious.

Communications. In a major disaster, wired phone service will almost certainly be disrupted; lines may be cut or the circuits jammed. Your cell phone service will probably remain operational, although it will likely be overloaded. You'll have to keep trying to get an open cell. If landline phones are down, then cable TV is probably off the air, although broadcast stations will most likely still transmit. However, unless you have a pair of "rabbit ears" lying around, and know how to hook them up, you're not going to receive those signals. A totally essential survival item then is a working AM/FM radio. That means a battery-operated one with fresh batteries available. It may be your sole link to the outside world. Even better, get my Cool Thing of the Month: The FreePlay GSW self-powered AM/FM Shortwave radio. In this age of global Internet access, the concept of getting all your information through a transistor radio seems awfully quaint. However, you'll be very happy you have that little device. With it, you'll be able to find out what's happening in your local area and statewide. You'll hear how widespread the destruction is, and whether you can expect help to arrive anytime soon. Most importantly, you'll hear evacuation orders if they're announced. Other important information may concern whether the water supply is safe to drink or not, and whether civil disturbances like rioting or looting are taking place. (Unfortunately, disaster situations bring out the worst as well as the best in human nature.) Bottom line: you'll only be able to protect yourself and your family if you know what's happening. Some people consider a firearm or other weapon an essential part of their survival kit. This goes along with the survivalist fantasy of being threatened by people desperate for food and water. In good conscience, I cannot advise you in this area. You should know the chance of a horrible accidental discharge far outweighs that of needing a gun to fend off marauders. To me, having a cudgel or baseball bat makes more sense..

Health. You can't count on anyone coming to help you. If there are injured people around, you're going to have to help them by yourself. However, if you have the supplies, and a little knowledge of what to do, you'll be able to render good emergency care, even to yourself. The most important thing is to remain calm so you can think clearly. If people in your household take medicines on a regular basis, you'll need to have access to them. The best is an extra supply in the emergency kit, but you need to make sure they don't go out of date.

Health  (Physical  and  Psychological).  The survivor must be the doctor, nurse, corpsman, psychologist, and cheerleader.  Self-aid is the survivor’s sole recourse.

Prevention.  The need for preventive medicine and safety cannot be overemphasized.  Attention  to  sanitation  and  personal  hygiene  is a major  factor  in  preventing  physical,  morale,  and  attitudinal  problems. (a)  The need for cleanliness in the treatment of injuries and illness is self-evident.  The  prisoners  of  war  (PW)  who  used  maggots  to  eat  away  rotting  flesh  caused by  infection  is  a  dramatic  example.  Prevention is much more preferred than such drastic procedures.

Safety  must  be  foremost  in  the  mind  of  the survivor;  carelessness  is  caused  by  ignorance  and (or) poor  judgment  or  bad  luck.  One  miscalculation  with  a knife  or  ax  can  result  in  self-inflicted  injury  or  death. 






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