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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Water, the good, the bad and the ugly.


Water, we all need it. Every single one of us, does not matter where you live or how you live, you need water. We can only go a few days without water before the body starts to turn on it's self and shuts down. Depending on the weather, what you are doing or how much water you had on board before a situation arose this can take only a couple of hours.

Being in sunny Southern California we learn to deal with droughts, especially over the last few years. For some of us out there the idea of not having water near by must seem alien. When I travel outside of the area I always marvel at the "real" streams, rivers and lakes some of us are blessed with. Southern California is basically a desert, even if most of us living here do not understand this.

Where does the water come from to bath, wash cars and simply drink for all of the people in Southern California? The dam in Oroville California has been in the news and I know people this far south have a "Whatever, glad it ain't me living near that thing!" attitude. Well some of us might want to reconsider our attitude. See the dam in the news is part of the system which provides water to Southern California! In fact the city of Los Angeles receives water from four sources and this dam is the start of one of the sources.


Found this cool website for learning about the water system in California.
http://www.watereducation.org/general-information/state-water-project

"In 1960, California voters approved financing for construction of the initial features of the State Water Project (SWP). The project includes some 22 dams and reservoirs, a Delta pumping plant, a 444-mile-long aqueduct that carries water from the Delta through the San Joaquin Valley to southern California. The project begins at Oroville Dam on the Feather River and ends at Lake Perris near Riverside. At the Tehachapi Mountains, giant pumps lift the water from the California Aqueduct some 2,000 feet over the mountains and into southern California."

The other three sources of water for the Los Angles area are The Colorado River, the Owens River and ground water sources. Right now there is a chance the Oroville Dam could have problems which would have a greater effect to the state and not just to the people living under the threat of flooding. 

An overview of what the issue is.
Looks kind of cool.
Won't be so cool if this gives way.

Just think if this dam fails...... How would this affect the Los Angeles area and surrounding areas? For sake of argument let's say LA suddenly had to deal with 25% loss of water? How soon would people panic if they turned on the TV and learned they might have to cut down their water usage even more than they are used to? This situation is a really good example of why we need to prepare prior to an event. 

If you live in the California area go to the link below and see where your water comes from. 

http://www.watereducation.org/all-california-water-sources 

According to this site the water I use every day comes from one sources. Kind of scary to realize if this one method of water delivery fails we have to go without. I also know there are wells here which could be used but the powers that be have decided to rely on the state water...... something I have no control over. 

While reading up on this situation and the California water system, I was again reminded how with the exception of one aqueduct the majority of the water being brought into the LA area needs to be pumped over the hills leading into the area. Loss of power would also mean a significant loss of water to the area. 

Of course most of us living in Southern California do not have access to rivers, streams or even a creek. We do have lots of dry rain gutters, dry creeks and cement lined rivers which are also dry most the time. This means in the event of an emergency we have no external sources of water. External sources of water would be water gained by another means then through our taps. (stop giggling everyone who lives elsewhere! it is not nice and hurts our feelings) This means we should have a minimum amount of water on hand to deal with situations. 

Something like this could be a really good idea........ but, most of us do not live in a home or apartment which would allow for a tank this big. Why? Because all those people who were laughing a minute ago want to live here which makes the property values so high we can not afford the space! (that made me feel a little better) If you are in an area with this kind of space installing something like this is a really good idea. Of course you might not want it right outside the backdoor. 

This might be a better idea for most of us. Something which we could install along the side of the house or apartment. Along the side we never use. Plus this gives us a project we could do and do it yourself projects are always fun, once you are done with them. Keep in mind water collected off the roof is not safe to drink and must be filtered. Why? Think of all the bird poop on your roof!!! For some roofs the water might not be safe even after you filter it using most commercial filters. This is due to the chemicals used in the construction of the roof.

For most of us something like this water brick system would work. We all have spaces under sinks or in closets we could use to store these bricks. In fact I personally know of one family who found this worked for them in their condo. Here is a link to the water bricks. You should check amazon or other websites to see about getting them on sale.

http://www.waterbrick.org 

If nothing else having a small supply of these in the closet, fridge or under the sink would be better than nothing. Plus these are more portable than the other storage methods. 

Maybe you have a pool at the house or there is one in the condo complex? Your thinking "Heck I do not need to worry about any of this. There is hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water right there to use." Yes there is water to use, how often do you drink the water from your pool? Most of us do not just go to the pool and fill a pitcher of water for drinking. The chemicals in the water can make you sick. causing cramps, diarrhea and other symptoms similar to food poisoning. 


Living in a condom or apartment complex with a pool you might think you have access to a supply of water just the same as someone who has a pool in their back yard. Only thing is you have a few more problems than they do if an emergency comes up. Not only do you have to deal with the chemicals in the pool you have to deal with all the people in the pool.

Do you really think no one is peeing in the pool? How many babies or others have had an accident in the pool. How many of your neighbors have decided to have "sexy time" in the pool late at night? Yes I am trying to be gross here but there is a point to this. Chlorine only kills so many germs. Would you want to drink someone else's bath water? Hopefully not! 

Having a pool or other open source of water near by does not mean you are covered during an emergency. Utilizing these sources of water could add to your issues and we do to want to add any more negatives to our situation. How do you utilize these sources and others safely? We have to clean the water and filter the water to give us the biggest chance we do not get ourselves sick. Anyone who has ever been to Mexico and did not watch where the water came from knows why this is a very important issue. 

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/tc/travelers-diarrhea-topic-overview#1 

Now you may think "I'll just boil the water and it will be good." Yes boiling water will kill the germs. The catch is how many people know how to do this? Ok your thinking "What is he saying? Everyone knows how to do this!" I can tell you first hand this is not the case. A fella I know was caught in a typhoon and in the aftermath he became sick from contaminated water! Remember common sense is not that common and not everyone thinks about dealing with emergencies. This issue is extremely important if you live in an area where your body is used to drinking clean water. Your body is not equip to deal with anything other than clean water!! Even cleaning your hands with untreated water can cause you to get sick. The fella I know was not sure if he drank, cleaned with or had food prepared with contaminated water. No he had no idea he would need to boil water or how to do it...... 

Well where do we start? Planning and part of planning is knowledge. Let's back up for a moment. The beginning of having clean water comes when you decide to gather water. Where you collect the water from will determine how you have to deal with the water. This is where common sense comes in. Do you collect water from a mud puddle or river?

Or maybe here

  Do animals pee in the pool?

Our first step is to pick as clean a source of water as we can find. Second step is to start filtering the water. Easiest first step is to use cloth or some other barrier to keep out the big stuff. 

I know this seems like common sense but it isn't. The more you filter the better your chances are of having clean water. Filter out the big parts with a piece of cloth, a bandanna, wash cloth or any other thing which will let the water come through will work. Make sure you are filtering the water into a clean container! 

Boiling water;

Fill a pot with water
Heat water until bubbles are rising from the bottom of the pot

Let the water boil for a minute
Turn off heat and let cool down

If your doing this over an open fire it is going to take longer than you think. have some patience and build a good fire. 

Alright, so you are think this is simple. Yes it is! What do you put the water in after you boiling it?

Do you put the clean water back in the pitcher you just used to collect the water? "Well yeah the water is clean now!" NNNOOOOOO!!!! THERE IS STILL UNCLEAN WATER IN THE PITCHER!! Any water not cleaned will contaminate the clean water!!! You have to think about this before you start cleaning the water. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! This includes the water on your hands and the cloth you used. Do you wash your face with the cloth you used to filter the water?

A first level system we all should invest in is a simple filter you can use almost anywhere. The same rules still apply to these tools. Pick a good source of water, filter the water if you can first, then use these commercial filters. 




Both of these systems are portable and easy to use. Even with these simple looking systems the directions say you have to watch out for unclean water contaminating your system. They all say they do not kill all the germs you might be faced with. Again, location of water collection and pre filtering are important. 


A good system for anyone having to care for several people is one of these camping filter systems. 



Here is a really good system which has tons of real world use behind it. Of course pre filtering the water still applies. Yes, this is an investment but one well worth the price! Especially if you have a group to care for. Filtering the water this way gives you time to handle other issues and not be tied down to boiling water all day. Here is a link to the website


This is getting long so we will try to wrap this up. Yes we could discuss making DIY water filters. Talk about solar stills etc etc BUT let's not go to far into the weeds right now. 

When planning for emergencies or dealing with one we need to take water into account. When thinking about water we need to think about where we will collect water from. When collecting water we need to think about how the collection point affects the cleaning method. When thinking about cleaning water we need to think we can not take shortcuts! 

Choose the cleanest water you can to draw from.
Pre filter at the point of collection.
Have a dirty area and tools.
Have a cleaning area and tools.
Have a clean area and tools. 
Consider using multiple methods to clean your water. (boil then use commercial filter)  

As with anything we should plan on having multiple layers to our water planning. Knowledge on how to collect and boil water is step one. Commercial filters inside of our Get Home Bags or 72 Hour Bags is the next step. Large camping filter systems inside of our Bug Out Bag or at the house is another step up. Berkey filter system at the house is as far as some of us need to go. Learning how to build gravity feed filter systems using sand, charcoal and other items might be a bit more than most of use need to know (we will talk about those later). 

As always,

Stay Safe!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Doing!

Reading the internet, magazines and a book or two lately something struck me. Most of these things geared toward emergency planning talk about what stuff you need. You need so much water per day, you need so much food per day, you need this and you need that and we got the best thing you can ever need. Of course you want the best thing ever so you go and buy thing one.....
 But then you realize Thing 1 is not the best thing ever because your 'what if' is very specific!
Of course someone has the best thing ever, specifically made for your "What if Marvin the Martian really does try to take over the world?" And you have to have Thing 2 because Thing 2 fits your need!
Now you have Thing 1 and you have Thing 2 and now you do not have to think about any-thing!
But now that you have Thing 1 and now that you have Thing 2, have you ever tried to use either thing? Maybe Thing 2 is cheaply made and in your time of need is not the thing you need? But you have Thing 1 as back up and even if Thing 2 is cheaply made you have Thing 1 to take Thing 2's place. (and that as good as my Doctor Seuss gets!)

Have you ever used either thing? Prior to having to use or do something under the pressure of an emergency? Have you tried them? Having things is not enough! You have to DO!

Take fire, you need it to cook, for heat and to keep the darkness at bay. So you stuff a lighter in your bag and of course you have a bow drill set stashed in there also. Because if the lighter doesn't work you have redundency and somewhere you read redundancy is a good thing.
Some of you my not know this, it is a secret only us evil smokers know...... these things run out of gas! Either by use, being stored in a position the button is pressed down, letting the gas out or they just get old and the gas leaks. But if Thing 1 doesn't fit you have Thing 2 and you have watched enough TV you are sure you can use Thing 2. It looks easy enough on TV!
If you look at that picture and did not almost immediately know what you were looking at we have an issue. Having Things is great, not knowing how to use them is just dangerous....

Your fun hike with the family could easily turn into a very bad day. One missed turn or moment of distraction could lead to you and the family being lost. You suddenly could find yourself without cell phone reception and night closing in fast. When the lighter does not work, you realize you have never used the a bow drill.

 This not an option.........
Neither is this........
Especially when things like to creep up in the dark.............

We must practice things before we need to use things. Now you are saying "Well I do not have time to hike fifty pounds of gear into the woods just to practice! The kids have soccer, people are coming over to watch the Super Bowl and we have church on Sunday." Yes you do. We just have to look at practice differently..........

Take soccer practice, yes soccer practice, how much stuff do you haul to the practice field? I know on game day we seem to have to move a ton of stuff. There is the basics, kids, ball, cleats, water, sunscreen, shoes to wear other than cleats, jackets and oh yeah we got to get the kids dressed!

This is just the basics! Now if you want to do anything besides sit on the ground you have to have the intermediate kit. This includes a sun shade, chairs and maybe a cooler. Of course we haven't even factored in maintaining your fashion sense!!

Point here is think of this as practice for having to abandoning your house. What if you had to leave? How would you haul the stuff you need? What do you need? How long would you be able to maintain some level of normal and comfort? If you set up camp at the park because the kids teams play at different times, use the time to plan and work on 'What If's' in the back of your mind. Then take a look at the other people around you...........
Got people coming over for the big game? Ever tried cooking everything on the BBQ? You know how you plan to cook if the gas ever stops coming into the house? Give it a try this week end. (yes I started writing this before the big game) Maybe not everything but break out the Dutch oven and cook a thing or two you normally cook inside the house. Things do not work the same on the BBQ as in the kitchen!
Heck break out that flint and steel. Bring along the char cloth or Vaseline covered cotton balls, maybe even just use stuff in the backyard to start the BBQ? Now do not delay the BBQ till you figure this out. You might end up with some annoyed and hungry guest. Take five or ten minutes and try to start the fire the "hard" way. If after ten minutes put the tools away and break out the lighter fluid!!
You might find out these things are harder to use then you thought. Also you might see why cheaper on the wallet is not always the way to go........
Maybe use your fitbit to see how long it would take you to walk home. Practicing or training is anywhere and way you can. Can you really walk ten miles? How long does it take you to walk ten miles?
How heavy is your Bail Out Bag? Can you carry it further than just from the house to the car? What about your Get Home Bag all crammed full of Things Numbered One and Things Numbered Two, can you really shoulder it and carry it any distance worth discussing? Let us not even discuss Bug Out Bags at the moment...............
During an emergency is not the time to find out how Things work or to find out they do not work. There is a big difference from what you think you can do and what you can do. Needing to get to higher ground when the water is rising is not the time to find out you can not make it further than the distance between the fridge and the couch............ 

Do two things this week. When was the last time you started a fire without a match or lighter? Start one this week. Maybe it is the BBQ, fireplace or bonfire out back this weekend. Take a walk, do something physical. Maybe you just walk for a block or two. Instead of thinking of it as exercise think of it as learning about resources are located in your neighborhood. How many fruit trees are there? 

Find time to practice. Find time to prepare. Find time to gain knowledge and skills. Life is about learning and doing. If you are done learning and doing, well..............

As Always,

Stay Safe!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Conflicted Card Game - Review


While scrolling along on the internet I came across this card game, Conflicted. Always looking for items which can be useful I went ahead and ordered the first deck of cards. Using Amazon the cards came a few days later.


Below is the 'about' section from their website

"Conflicted: The Survival Card Game was born from friends debating why the world is the way it is. Discover where you will draw the line between your morals and your humanity.
Know Your Self
Conflicted was designed to help you think about life in a post apocalyptic world. After playing it, you'll be more aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and areas needing improvement. How far are you willing to go in order to survive, when the choice is life versus your own morals?
Know  Your Friends
When you play Conflicted: The Survival Card Game with your friends and family, their answers will tell you all about their philosophy on prepping and survival. What they say or don't say, their body language - it all matters.  You will probably re-think who you'll bugout with after the first game.
Know  Your Enemies
By playing Conflicted: The Survival Card Game you'll realize that the thin veil of civilized behavior our current modern society portrays is easily torn apart. We all have a breaking point where our will to live speaks louder than our own morals. That breaking point is at a different place for everyone."
I thought this could be interesting and went through each card to see what the questions were like. To be honest the questions, for the most part, are extreme. They set up situations which almost no one will find themselves in, hopefully! Of course the entire idea of the game is these situations take place after an extraordinary incident has happened, a post apocalyptic situation. Which gives them the setting and ability to ask some of these extreme questions. Even in this setting some of the questions are........ just ........ heck I do not know the word, extreme doesn't seem to fit right.

People are asked to make life or death decisions.  On first read it appears they could simply give an answer, with no reference point to make the decision in their life to draw from. A lot of the questions ask about helping others but helping others would cause your family to starve. It is easy to say you would turn children away who are starving to allow your family to survive longer when the kids are not in front of you. Especially if you have never seen starving children or been to places where people are going hungry. Other questions ask about killing people for one reason or another. Again it is easy to say you would kill someone who is a threat to your family or group. Especially if you have never hurt someone else or had to use deadly force against another person. Some of the questions seem to give you only one way to answer the question but leave out other options. Here is an example;

"The airplane you stole lost 30% of it's power in mid air and is about to crash" The question goes on to say you have dumped everything you can to lighten the load and are now faced with two of your six person group having to "...... leave the plane... suffer an excruciating fall to their deaths." Did I forget to mention there are no parachutes? Your supposed to decide who is sacrificed for the greater good............

Here is an issue with this question, if you have a pilot in the group wouldn't they know how to land the plane? Why would you dump supplies, fuel and other items you stole? Why would you then sacrifice two of your group?


Completely understanding the concept here is to start a conversation with people and to get an idea of how they think. The question would seem to lead people into thinking the only answer was to have two of your group willingly or unwillingly sacrifice themselves. Which seems to guide people into a thought pattern where they are preprogramming themselves to think death is the only answer in a apocalyptic situation. Seems to embed what some folks call "training scars" into people which could lead someone to make what could be interpreted as poor decisions under pressure.

My personal answer is to land the plane as soon as the pilot thinks they can no longer stay airborne. What was the point if you lose all the supplies and people? Of course there could be other variables but given the question as it is written, landing the plane seems to be the one answer you are not lead toward. Once on the ground you could see about repairing the plane or lightening the load by having some of your group walk. Maybe they can take enough supplies with them the flight can be completed and the plane might even be able to come back to get them somewhere along the line?

Some questions are really good ones;

".... What do you think you could offer any community in exchange for food, water and shelter?" They narrow down the answers nicely by saying the community "...already have enough security and caretakers." The best part of this question states "This must be a skill you currently have."

Think about that question for a minute................. What skills do you have which would REALLY be needed after a total collapse? Think of the situation as they have framed it. The world is closer to all out Mad Max than Sex In The City..............

Well these sound like good skills to have at work tomorrow! How would they help if people are struggling to feed themselves?


We all know people who would believe this is the right answer!!!!


What can you do? Most of us have become specialist in our daily lives. You are a lawyer, how is that going to work out if people are reduced to scavenging for food? Maybe you do odd jobs, manual labor kind of stuff, a few times a week, then spend the rest of your time surfing and smoking as much dope as you can? How is that going to translate over?

Let's not even start discussing Human Resource types or folks with jobs like Life Coach...... And if I just made you mad because you are one of these, do not fear there are lots and lots of people out there who have less useful skill sets.

If the community has enough guys dressed like this I personally had to stop and think about my answer to the question. My go to thing is security, weapons, military and stuff like that. If the billet is already filled I would be hard pressed to make myself useful!! Sure I got some skills but not enough to sell myself as an expert farmer, healer or wizard! If the community needs male strippers I might be able to pull that one off!!!!!


What could you function as if the world went south? Be realistic about your answer since you are only answering the question to yourself!

Alright, last question from the deck of cards. This is a good question with multiple answers due to the open ended way the question is asked. This might be the best question in the deck to figure out how someone thinks they will respond.

"You are behind on rent and now that the Electromagnetic Pulse went off and the banks aren't open, your landlord came trying to collect. He said either pay up in cash or in goods, or he will evict your family and put them on the street in three days with the help of armed security. You were not prepared to bug out at all..... in three days he will bring armed men to take you out of the house, but right now he is standing in front of you, alone. How would you handle this situation?"

The parts in the question which just repeat the same situational information were cut out.

Let's start the answer with some thoughts about avoiding the question. Preparing for a bad day does not focus solely on the actions you take after something has happened. You shouldn't only focus on having gear, food and solar panels for after something happens. What you do before an event directly affects how you can respond during and after an event. This is one reason I think this question is one of the better ones in the deck.

If we square away our finances and put some cash away inside a safe in the house we have avoided this question for a moment. A moment which might buy us time to better our position. Having our finances squared away could allow us to buy a house. A house which would allow us to not be living under the rule of a LAND LORD. Taking these actions before an event would help us cover several problems at once and we try to cover as many issues with the least amount of resources. Moving back to the situation laid out by the question.

For these of this discussion let's say we are in the position the question has us in. Your options seem to be 1) find a way to pay the Landlord, 2) leave your home, and 3) do something to the Landlord? Going in reverse order to answer this question.

3) Do you assault or even kill the Landlord? He is threatening to put your family in a position of grave danger? If so how? Do you threaten him back? Can you threaten him? Do you have the ability to put 'the fear of god' into him? Do you have the ability to back up any threats you make? No really do you? If he comes back with armed men do you have the ability to resist? Are you willing to take the chance with your families safety you will be able to deal with him and others later, still keeping your family safe?



Do you assault or kill her now? Right now, when she has no back up? Is the situation so bad you need to end this threat right now to protect your family? Do you have the ability to killer her? Put your ego aside........ no really take an honest look at your life experience and skill set. Someone is at your door right now, can you kill them where they stand? I'll answer the question for you, no. Most people are not prepared for this kind of action. Nothing wrong with this! Most of us are not programed to be able to do this and not being able to easily kill another human is a GOOD THING! While your yelling at me insisting you could do this to protect your family I'll ask another question. You start to take action against the Landlord.... did you check to see if there are any witnesses to report your actions? If you kill the Landlord in the doorway are you going to get away with it? Are others going to come looking for her? Did you think about any of that before you thought of killing the Landlord in the doorway? Remember, life is more complicated than black and white answers.......

2) Leaving, could you? How would you pack up? Are you walking or driving? Where are you going? Can you get there in the situation the question is asked? Let's take the worst case and say you have to walk. Where is the closest place you could go? Are you and the family prepared to walk that far? No really (I keep repeating this on purpose)? Five miles to grandma's house is nothing in the car. Could you and the family make that walk carrying, pulling or pushing everything you could take from the house? What would you take from the house? When was the last time you walked a mile under weight?



1) Coming up with money or goods to pay the Landlord. Do you have money or goods on hand to do this? If you do this are you just delaying the time until your family is starving? Once you pay how too till they come back for more? If you pay are you letting them know or think they know you have enough to pay and have more inside? Do you have another way to pay? Are you skilled at negotiating or sweet talking your way out of things?

If you go into a situation with nothing you have greatly limited your options......

Take a moment and seriously consider your options in this situation. The situation does not have to be after an EMP, this can occur if someone loses their job tomorrow! Remember we are not just planning for the end of the world we are planning for everyday emergencies also!

At the end of the day I find myself really neutral about the deck of cards. I understand what they were trying to do and commend them for trying it! I feel some of the questions are to extreme. They lead people to much especially if people are new to preparedness. Will I be spending any more resources or time on this deck of cards, no.

I realize they have made other decks of cards with other questions. Maybe someone has read other decks? I would love to hear about what you thought about the other decks. As for me I can go without investing any more in these.

https://www.conflictedthegame.com


As always,

Stay Safe!!