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  • 5 Tips to Stay Safe During Civil Unrest

    Stay Safe During Civil Unrest

    Germany is encouraging her citizens to get their emergency prep together, just in case of more civil unrest and other catastrophes. Venezuela is running out of food, and residents are taking to the streets.  We’ve even seen riots in our own streets here in the United States. Political demonstrations have a more threatening feeling than they have in the past. These are just a few examples of the unrest happening throughout the world, and if things continue how they’ve been going, things might get even worse.

    When your streets turn ugly, there are certain steps to take that can help you stay safe. Hopefully you will never be in such a dangerous situation, but since things like demonstrations, riots, and civil unrest can happen abruptly, knowing what to do before it happens is crucial. These 5 steps can help you stay safe during civil unrest.


    1. Stay Tuned

    Literally. Information will be your best friend before and during a crisis situation such as civil unrest. Stay aware of any local situations that could escalate into riots. Know where the danger zones are and steer clear of them before unrest even hits its peak. The Survival Mom even suggests following rabble-rousers on Facebook or Twitter so when they publicize their events, you’ll know exactly where not to go. While a crisis is ongoing, keep your television and/or radio tuned to your local news station. Should the power be out, make sure you have an emergency radio (battery operated of hand-crank) so you will still have a way of gathering information.


    1. Collect Resources

    Pantry Stay Safe During Civil UnrestJust like any natural disaster or emergency, having the resources already on hand will be a tremendous help during times of civil unrest. Since there’s a good chance you will be confined to your home during these times, you will want to make sure you have enough food to get you through.

    Civil unrest is often associated with looting and riots. As such, grocery stores may be emptied or, if they’re not, they may be difficult to get to due to blocked streets and dangerous situations. Having an emergency food storage will allow you to stay inside until things blow over.

    Aside from food, collect alternate power and light sources, along with things to keep you warm, including sleeping bags and portable heaters. Power might get shut off due to demonstrations or riots, leaving you in the dark. Depending on the time of year, things could get uncomfortably cold. If you own a firearm, having sufficient ammunition to defend your home might also be in order. Be prepared for any situation.


    1. Stay Home

    One of the most important strategies in staying safe during civil unrest is to stay home. Home is generally the safest place to be during civil unrest. If you’re inside when riots or other unrest begins, don’t go out to get a better look. The last thing you want is to be involved in the chaos. However, should you find yourself outside of your house when unrest breaks out, stay away from the active areas and make your way back home as quickly as possible.


    1. Have a Safe Room

    Safe rooms are an important thing to have in your home, especially if you live in a high tornado or hurricane area. These disaster specific safe rooms can also be used to help protect you from not just natural disasters, but fire and looters as well. FEMA’s guidelines for safe rooms are mainly for natural disasters, but they can easily be upgraded for fireproofing and bulletproofing.


    1. Situational Awareness

    Being aware of your surroundings is important on a day to day level, but crucial during times of unrest. Keep your wits about you and your eyes and ears open. This means stay focused on getting out of a potentially bad situation. Keep your phone in your pocket (unless absolutely necessary), as focusing on a text or call can distract you from what’s really going on. Keep your focus on the present, at what is happening around you. This way, you can spot trouble before it escalates to an obvious level.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Stay Safe During Civil Unrest

  • Importance of Preparedness: Remembering September 11, 2001

    A month before the September 11, 2001 attack, I snapped a photo in the restaurant atop World Trade Center 2. It was a sign by the elevator, indicating the floor we were on and a notice: “In case of fire, use stairs.”

    I was there celebrating the end of an internship in the World Financial Center building directly across the street. My fellow intern and I found the sign hilarious. If something went wrong and we were that high, we agreed, there was no point in obeying. We’d be dead anyway.

    trade-center september 11A month later, I watched on TV from my new job in a rural U.S. Army base while planes hit both World Trade Center buildings.

    I emailed my former employer. Everyone was fine. The company had an evacuation plan, and as soon as the first plane hit, all but essential personnel left and caught a ferry to the company’s New Jersey headquarters. Everyone made it safely out of the area, though the building sustained heavy damage. (I saw a picture. My former desk was covered in grime, and the windows were blown in.)

    On the other hand, if a terrorist had attacked the rural base where I was on September 11, we could have been in trouble. The front gate had a toll booth-style guard building that was wide open. It might as well have been. Barbed wire fences marked the base’s perimeter in the sparse shrub and dirt wilderness. They kept cows out, but not much else. Admittedly, any attacker would have had to travel a long way to find anyone to attack.

    When we left the base that day, we followed directions through a ditch, past the newly-closed gate and newly-armed guards. An enormous machine gun now pointed menacingly outward, except … it was mounted on what looked like a folding card table. My absurd mental image of what would have happened if they’d fired it was the one funny part of a terrible day.

    That day, an emergency plan protected my former coworkers. At my new job, well, we were remote.

    September is National Preparedness Month. This, in conjunction with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, is a great time to remember why to be prepared.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency gives two reasons to be prepared.

    First, “being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters,” a FEMA brochure said.

    september 11 Flooding from Hurricane Irene

    A study by Rice University educators showed that people who prepared for Hurricane Ike, which hit Houston in 2008, were calmer and less likely to evacuate in advance of the storm. Those who lived outside the recommended evacuation zone stayed off the road, allowing those at greater risk to leave more quickly and reducing auto accidents, the study’s authors wrote.

    For older adults, families with young children and people with special needs, preparation is vital to survival. More than half the people who died in Hurricane Katrina were age 65 and older, according to a New York Times story about disaster preparedness for older people.

    “They can’t get out of harm’s way fast enough,” Jenny Campbell, a nonprofit consultant who deals with age-related issues told the New York Times. “And sometimes they may not even have a way to flee. Or they may lack a larger social system, and so they may not be warned in time.”

    Second, being prepared reduces the destruction from disasters, according to FEMA. The Rice University study called this type of preparedness hazard mitigation.

    Hazard mitigation includes trimming branches and making repairs before a disaster to reduce damage. It also means making copies of important documents. Helene Dressendofer was in her late 70s when Hurricane Sandy destroyed her home in 2012, according to the New York Times. Her documents were stored in cardboard folders and were destroyed. As of January 2016, she was still waiting for insurance reimbursement.

    She recommended scanning photographs, making a list of possessions and putting the list and other important documents in sealed waterproof boxes, according to the story.

    FEMA provides a free, 204-page, step-by-step guide to help individuals and families prepare for many types of disasters, called Are You Ready.

    When I returned to the military base several days after September 11, it was transformed. My carpool van had to zigzag through concrete barriers to enter, and U.S. Army soldiers scrutinized identification of every person in the vehicle. When I went out jogging, I passed new sentry boxes and soldiers on patrol in the scrub. It was comforting in a way.

    Being prepared provides peace of mind. And it may save your property and life. On September 11, 2001, one of my employers was ready. The other was lucky. Which would you rather be?


    september 11

  • Venezuela Food Crisis: A Warning to the World

    venezuela-empty-shelves-via-abc-news Empty shelves in Venezuela - via ABC News

    Venezuela is on the brink of collapse. With food prices skyrocketing, people are struggling to feed their families. Crime is on the rise. Long lines of people wind endlessly around the supermarket in the hopes of securing just the bare necessities. Oftentimes they go home empty handed.

    Citizens are now revolting against the leaders that brought them into this mess.

    This report by the Washington Post shows just how delicate the situation is in Venezuela. Led by President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s socialist-inspired revolution used to provide plenty of government funding to “create a more equal society.”

    Looking at what’s happening in Venezuela now, that didn’t work so well.

    For a while, things were fine. People thrived, and much of that success was due to their strong oil economy. During the Chávez era, governments helped subsidize mothers in extreme poverty, helped people finish construction on their houses, and even help youth receive scholarships – all great things.

    Then the money dried up.

    venezuela-fridge-via-the-washington-post With high prices, food is hard to come by - via Washington Post

    Oil prices tanked, and the government-run supermarkets that provided the basics at subsidized prices are practically empty, and due to 700% inflation, even these subsidized supermarkets are forced to sell their goods at exorbitant prices. Food is scarce, many children don’t have the energy to even attend school. One Venezuelan journalist eats only one meal a day which consists of one egg. With empty supermarkets and no hope on the horizon, things are certainly not what the people of Venezuela had expected from their government.

    “We’re tired,” said one woman as reported by NBC News, “tired of hunger and humiliation.”

    Thousands of people from all across the country gathered in Caracas to protests against the worsening economic crisis. A coup was even attempted, but failed. People want change, because with change comes more access to food. PBS reported that Venezuelans are “losing hope that their government-controlled system will supply key items.”

    The situation in Venezuela is a warning to the United States – and every other developed nation. While the U.S. may not be in the same dire straits as they are, a look back can show just how gradual it was. Venezuela prospered for many years. Then, slowly, things worsened, until the food crisis arrived in full swing, increasing its intensity until food was nowhere to be found.

    How does one prepare for such a crisis? It can be difficult to predict something like this happening, especially during the good times. But it’s during the good times that we as a people must prepare for the difficult times.

    Food prices have soared in Venezuela. A dozen eggs now costs $150 on the black market, not much more than the official government pricing. This is where emergency food storage comes into play. No matter what the prices jump to in the future, your food storage maintains its value. In fact, it’s like an investment in that when food prices rise, you’re already prepared so you don’t have to spend $150 on twelve eggs.


    Likewise, only eating a few eggs a day will get old fast. By stocking up with food, you can ensure you have the food you actually want to eat, rather than rely on the supermarket to provide you with the very basics, assuming the shelves haven’t been stripped bare by the time you arrive.

    Food prices spiking and many different stages of civil unrest can make acquiring food not just difficult, but nearly impossible. Take the time now – before a crisis – to prepare for any emergency scenario.


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