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  • Wake-up Call: Mild Earthquake Spurs Unprecedented Demand for Emergency Kits

    Hurricane Katrina Seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina helped many people start preparing for emergencies.

    For Shelly Robertson, of American Fork, Utah, seeing people on TV during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath caused her to begin preparing an emergency kit. For Tina Koeven, from Pleasant Grove, Utah, a practice earthquake evacuation taught her she needed to make an emergency kit portable. For people in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a mild earthquake December 29 prompted enough demand for emergency kits that one store temporarily sold out.

    All these people learned to be prepared from their experiences.

    “To be effective learners we must (1) perceive information, (2) reflect on how it will impact some aspect of our life, (3) compare how it fits into our own experiences, and (4) think about how this information offers new ways for us to act,” wrote Marcia L. Conner, who trains organizations about how to help their employees be effective

    BC Earthquake - via CityNews The 4.3 magnitude earthquake in BC reminded folks how close they are to impending disaster. - via CityNews

    Let’s use her model of learning to break down the case of the British Columbia earthquake as a wake-up call. The earthquake was moderate: Natural Resources Canada measured it at 4.3 and there were no injuries or damage. One man said it felt like a truck passing by. It took place late at night about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the city of Victoria, just over the northern border of Washington State.

    So, some people in British Columbia perceived information: there was an earthquake. They reflected about how it would impact them: What damage could a large earthquake cause? They compared how it fit into their experiences: they might need to leave their homes or be without resources. And they thought about how to act: We might need an emergency kit.

    The result: a British Columbia emergency preparedness company, 72 Hours, had to backorder personal emergency kits because so many people bought them, reported CTV News, a Canadian TV news network.

    "We hear people say they've been meaning to get prepared and they've procrastinated, and this was the wake-up call," 72 Hours employee Brian Fong told CTV.

    Tina Koeven had a wake-up call from a mistake. Her church held an earthquake drill. Congregation members pretended an earthquake hit and evacuated to the church building with their emergency supplies. Koeven, who lives next door to the building, had her emergency kit in a large duffel bag.

    “By the time I’d dragged the bag to the church … I wanted to lay down and die because I couldn’t go anywhere else,” she said. “Or be like the [early American] pioneers and throw stuff out along the trail.”

    She’s considering other ways to carry her emergency kit.

    It’s possible to learn from others’ mistakes too. In fact, a brain imaging study published in 2010 in the online journal NeourImage suggested it might be more effective.

    Brain Our neural activity tends to be stimulated by our competitor's errors (as in the example shown here) rather than their successes. Credit: Dr. Paul Howard-Jones and Dr. Rafal Bogacz

    Researchers had study subjects play a simple game. They found that when a player’s computer opponent was taking a turn, the player’s own brain was activated as if they were performing the action. The study found players’ brains were more active when their opponent made a mistake.

    “This suggests that we benefit from our competitors' failures by learning to inhibit the actions that lead to them,” the study authors said.

    Shelly Robertson decided to build an emergency kit after seeing TV accounts of people stranded during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A cascade of mistakes kept them from getting assistance for days.

    “There wasn’t any way to get people help, and we live in the U.S.,” she said. “It really unnerved me.”

    She built an emergency kit containing things like food, emergency blankets, cooking and heating gear, and a radio. She also included candy and toys for her children.

    “You don’t want to just survive,” she said. “You’ve got to give them something to do while you wait for help to arrive.”




    What events have given you a wake-up call to start preparing for emergencies? Let us know in the comments!



    Marcia L. Conner, "Learning from Experience." Ageless Learner, 1997-2007.




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  • Christmas Shopping for Emergencies

    It’s possible to build an emergency kit on a budget, said Maralin Hoff, nicknamed the “Earthquake Lady,” from the Division of Emergency Management in the Utah Department of Public Safety

    “We think an emergency kit is going to cost an arm and a leg. No. It’s a shoestring. It’s that easy,” she said.

    Stockings - Christmas ShoppingIf you’re looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, emergency kit supplies can make great stocking stuffers.

    “I’ve started a new tradition. Every Christmas, I give my children and grandchildren … something new to add to their emergency kit,” Hoff said at a 2010 emergency preparedness expo shown on YouTube.

    That’s how Shelly Robertson, of American Fork, Utah, built her emergency kit.

    “Really, it’s all about having a budget,” she said, adding that she asks for emergency supplies for Christmas gifts.

    At the emergency preparedness expo, Hoff showed emergency kits built almost entirely of items from dollar stores.

    Robertson found small bottles of medicines like acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, glow sticks, trash bags, hand sanitizer, and travel size toiletries at the dollar store.

    Dollar whistles are useful gifts, Hoff said. They’re louder than shouting.

    “Every [emergency] kit should have a whistle,” she said.

    Trekker II-  Christmas ShoppingRobertson looked for Christmas sales for more expensive items. For example, she found mess kits on sale at a recreation outlet store. She found many items discounted during Emergency Essentials’ Black Friday and December sales. There, she bought an emergency radio that she loves at a discount.

    “I highly recommend it,” she said. “The most expensive thing was the radio. Everything else was $5 or less.”

    Among her $5 or less purchases:

    Emergency reflective sleeping bags. She prefers them to emergency blankets because there aren’t edges to deal with.

    She also loves our New Millennium energy bars because she wants lightweight emergency food her children will eat.

    “They taste kind of like cookies,” she said.

    Hard candies: she says they’re nice for when children are sick.

    Flashlights and batteries. She puts fresh batteries in every year and uses the old ones.

    A $5 cook stove with heating tablets. She thinks that was a gift.

    “Mostly, just take a look around at what you already own, then buy a few specialty items,” she said. “There’s a lot you can pick up for very cheap, on a very limited budget. Think about what you need, and what you can substitute for it, and just go for it.”


    What emergency items are you getting (or hoping to get) for Christmas?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Christmas Shopping

  • 7 Things Every New Prepper Needs to Know

    This is a guest post by J.D. Phillips of SurvivalCrackas.com


    I want you imagine a few things before we get going:

    1. Imagine if you had to learn everything about math, physics or any other subject for that matter – all on your own.
    2. Imagine if you had to do it by reading articles, watching TV shows and YouTube videos.

    It's safe that assume that you'd feel overwhelmed, right?

    These subjects are so exhaustive and extensive that you wouldn't have the faintest idea of where to start. You might click on a video about astrophysics but it would sound like Chinese to you as you're not even acquainted with basic concepts such as the law of gravity. You would feel baffled and might even feel a little....dumb!

    Three hikers watching the mapWell, that is exactly how new preppers might feel when confronted with the idea of preparing for survival. Unfortunately, schools and colleges teach us absolutely nothing about survival. Moreover, mainstream society is totally blind to the problems of the future. They are most concerned about the newest in celebrity relationships. They think that people who plan and prepare for survival are silly!

    Thankfully, there are a few resources (like this website) that educate people about survival and prepping without constantly trying to shove products down their throats.


    Here are the 7 most important things that every prepper should know.


    1) Understand that Rome was not built in a day!

    Don't try to do it all at once. No matter how hard you try – you cannot prepare for survival over the coming weekend. Prepping is not an event; it is a process – a lifestyle.

    Of course, you should try to learn as much you can, as quickly as you can. But try to build a strong foundation first. Work on your fitness, learn about survival knots, learn how to build shelters and fires, create a bug out bag, start accumulating food and water.

    Once you do this, then you can move to advanced concepts such as shooting techniques, chemical warfare survival, nuclear war survival, stealth, code language, tactical operations, and so on.


    2) Don’t forget to practice what you learn:

    The last step...For many people, learning about survival simply means watching hours of videos or TV shows. However, they never actually practice the techniques that they learn about. If things do get crazy, then you cannot rely solely on theory to help you out.

    For example: It's fine and dandy to say that if you're stranded in the wilderness, you'd just build a fire to signal for rescue.

    But have you actually tried to start a fire in uncontrollable conditions?

    Do you know the basic ground to air communication signals?

    What if people do see your fire but they assume that you're just having fun camping out in the woods?


    3) Start saving money:

    Survival does not come cheap! So you better start saving for it right now. You can easily avoid excessive expenses such as cigarettes, alcohol, etc.

    Do you really need a thousand dollar cell phone, or are you buying it just to impress your friends?

    If the idea of cutting down on expenses seems restricting, start your own home-based business or work an extra shift each week. Maybe try growing your own food!

    Look for great deals on survival goods (first aid kids, candles etc.) at garage sales and thrift shops. Buy a firearm or a GPS instead of spending money on designer clothes and electronics. Spend conservatively but don't skimp on essentials such as proper footwear, clothing, water filtration systems, etc.


    4) Try to predict the type the catastrophe that is most likely to affect you and plan accordingly.

    River FloodFor example, if you live in Texas, you are bound to experience at least one major natural disaster every year.

    • The most common mishaps in Texas are coastal hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.
    • Florida is highly prone to flooding and hurricanes.
    • California is almost an earthquake waiting to happen.
    • New York is a major target for terrorists.
    • Detroit and St Louis have the highest crime rates in the country.

    If you're wondering where to begin, this is your answer.

    Begin by preparing for the most probable disaster in your region.


    5) Mingle with other preppers:

    Prepping is much more fun if you make friends with other people who share the same views and interests as you. If you prep alone, you'll probably become bored in a matter of days.

    Join a local group or start your own. Many groups organize educational and recreational events such as boot camps, seminars, conventions etc. These ensure that you stay interested and informed. Also, it is great to have a community or other prepared individuals to fall back upon in a survival scenario.


    6) Slow and steady wins the race:

    New preppers are very enthusiastic in the beginning. They buy stuff, talk to everybody they meet about the importance of prepping, they watch loads of Bear Grylls shows, etc.

    However, after a while – they run out of steam and lose interest.

    Like in any other field of life, you cannot accomplish much in terms of survival if you lack consistency. Develop habits that make you a better prepper.

    Buy an extra can of food every time you go out shopping. Don't just throw away empty bottles, fill them up with water and store them in your basement.

    Spend your weekends practicing survival techniques with friends – go camping instead of sitting in front of the TV or going to the mall and buying things that you really don't need.


    7) Don't live in fear.

    You're probably thinking about getting into prepping because you realize that we live in a dangerous world. However, there's really no point in being paranoid all the time.

    Do what you can and stop worrying about that what you cannot control. If anything, you should learn to treasure and savor the present even more.

    Create your own survival manual and keep updating it constantly. Throw in a copy of this manual into your bug out bag. There is no way you're going to remember everything that you've ever read.

    Good luck – enjoy your next adventure responsibly.

    OH - and Merry Christmas!

    About the Author: J.D. Phillips Runs SurvivalCrackas.com and lives with his family in Southern California. You can follow him on Facebook and download his Guide How to Build the Ultimate Disaster Kit free of charge!



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