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  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: Why Preparing for Emergencies Makes Sense

    Have you ever been in a situation where a little extra preparation could have made your life a lot more comfortable? These scenarios can range anywhere from the mundane to the extreme. While mundane moments such as short-lived power failure and an inconvenient tornado might happen frequently in the United States, the television and movie industries tend to depict extreme emergency situations. Most likely we won’t ever have to experience these extreme emergencies, but they sure are exciting and, most importantly, can teach important lessons in preparing.

    10 Cloverfield Lane Poster Via Wikipedia

    On March 11th, 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane was released in theaters starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, the story has a loose connection to the 2008 surprise hit Cloverfield.

    The initial movie trailer first aired during Super Bowl 50 and the movie features a small group of people trapped in a bunker underground waiting out whatever apocalyptic event may or may not be happening above.  Inside the bunker are loads of emergency food storage items, water, gear, and other necessities. They looked like they could live quite comfortably (as comfortably as a bunker can be with people and intentions you don’t know, anyway) for quite some time.

    10 Cloverfield Lane is very entertaining if you are into movies with intense drama and lightning fast turns in the story line. From a preparedness perspective, the movie makes it evident that regardless of your motivations you can be prepared for almost anything. So, thanks to producer JJ Abrams for entertaining us and giving us food for thought on preparedness!

     

    Did you see 10 Cloverfield Lane? Let us know your thoughts on the movie in the comments below!

     

    Along with the release of the movie, an interview video was released in which the actors of 10 Cloverfield Lane discussed what they would like to take with them in a bunker in real life. See the video here.

     

     

    Put yourself in their shoes. If you knew you were being forced to live in a bunker for who knows how long…what would you take? Personally, I’d make sure I had a load of board game. After all, things could get boring really fast. But what else? What are the necessities in your life that you just couldn’t imagine living without?

    And why, then, would a big film company make a movie about living in a bunker if it’s so boring?

    And that got us thinking: what is it about prepping that makes for such great entertainment? One reason could be because there are plenty of real threats that most people aren’t prepared for, so that adds an extra sense of drama. Or perhaps it’s about seeing if all that preparation was really worth it. Whatever the reason, producers of mainstream media have realized that this whole “prepping” or “survivalist” thing touches a nerve with the cultural sentiments and realities of our day.  They then grow the story to levels they feel will trigger feelings or emotions that make the experience memorable.

    As we rehash 10 Cloverfield Lane’s scenario over and over in our minds, we started thinking about other movies and TV shows that had a similar theme of emergency preparedness. Here are a few we came up with.

     

    You, Me, and the Apocalypse

    You, Me, and the Apocalypse first aired as a TV series in the fall of 2015. While not so much focused on the prepping aspect for the end of the world, You, Me, and the Apocalypse is a comedy-drama that follows different people during the last month before a massive comet – supposedly on an unavoidable collision course with Earth – ends all life as they know it. Even though the “stock up on food and gear” mentality isn’t entrenched in the show, the fact that they’re dealing with the end of the world shows us that it’s at least strong enough on their minds that they would make an entire TV series out of it. That being said, if a comet the size of Manhattan was going to hit Earth in 30 days, how would you prepare?

     

    The Walking Dead

    Zombies seem just about as likely to infiltrate our world as a super-massive comet striking our planet, but at least with The Walking Dead, the characters are in a survival setting. Civilization has all but collapsed, and those remaining must use their survival skills and instincts to keep from falling to the mindless zombies.

    The entertainment factor is definitely there judging by the popularity and longevity of the show.  There are also a number of things preppers find useful in this series, including survival techniques. The Walking Dead first aired in 2010 and as of this writing in 2016 is still going strong.

     

    Falling Skies

    Similar to The Walking Dead, Falling Skies follows a group of survivors following an alien invasion that basically ruined Earth. The same survival instincts and techniques apply to aliens as they do to zombies, so it’s worth a watch if survival shows are your cup of tea.

     

    Contagion

    Released in theaters in 2011, Contagion depicts the swift outbreak of a disease. As opposed to disaster survival and zombie shows, this movie makes viewers realize that we should be prepared for anything – including an epidemic.  Catching a bad bug can be devastating to an individual, but If many people contract the same illness at once a society’s infrastructure can’t help but suffer.   Taking note that not all emergencies are due to otherworldly influences it’s good to keep some balance in mind as we plan and prepare for the future.

     

    The Hunger Games

    A popular young adult dystopian novel, The Hunger Games films became box office hits. Following a young woman struggling to stay alive in a kill-or-be-killed arena designed to be a large, outdoor world, there are tons of prepping and survival tips. One thing that sticks out in particular is the main character’s realization that they need to stick close to a source of water. There’s a lot to be learned about survival when you’re running for your life in a game designed to kill.

     

    Man Vs Wild

    Why is it so entertaining to see one man, alone in the wild, showing off his survival tricks? We generally watch it from our comfy couch cushions because we can.  If ever there was an irony in watching these prepper shows, this might be it.  But again, this is a widely popular reality TV show, something both survivalists and non-survivalists alike tune into on a regular basis. There’s definitely something enthralling about emergency situations and the skills used to survive.

     

    Doomsday Peppers

    Perhaps the most direct in topic, Doomsday Preppers highlights different survivalists and their preparations should civilization as we know it come to an end. While some prepare for economic collapse, others prepare for a polar shift, while others still prepare for urban survival. If preparing for an emergency is your thing, you might very well be interested in how these preppers go about their business.

     

    These are just a few examples of a host of preparedness-related movies and television programs, many of which can be viewed on Hulu or Netflix. These programs may be entertaining and exciting, but perhaps that’s because they’re designed to be that way. By showing us extreme cases in which preparing is crucial (like fending off zombies), we are much more invested in what’s going on in the show.

    However, in all my years on Earth, I have yet to meet a zombie, get lost in the wild with just a pocket knife and a will to live, or flee from a super-massive alien intent on obliterating everything in its path. These scenarios are exciting, yes, but real life just isn’t like that (for most of us, anyway).

    The world is a relatively safe place. We have modern amenities that make life easier. When disaster does come, we’re usually able to rebuild quickly. But it’s the mindset behind these programs that stick with us. What if severe weather rolls in and knocks out your power for a few days? What if you unexpectedly lose your job? These less-apocalyptic situations are more apt to happen, and when they do, being prepared with extra food and gear can help life continue on as normal.

     

     

    10 Cloverfield Lane

  • Following Emergency Robots? Better Get Prepared

    C-3PO - emergency robotImagine being given a guided tour of an unfamiliar building by a robot. Pretty darned neat, right? The robot escorts you from room to room. This all part of an experiment to learn more about robots. The only problem is, the robot is a wee bit unreliable. It gets lost. It leads you to the wrong room multiple times. It’s fairly confusing, but it’s for research, so why not.

    And then the fire alarms go off.

    Once again, the robot takes charge, illuminating its LED lights to show the words “Emergency Robot Guide.” Considering its track record…do you follow the less-than-reliable robot?

    In this study, 100% of participants followed the robot, putting their trust into a machine (albeit secretly controlled by one of the researchers) that they knew wasn’t entirely trustworthy in simple matters, such as going from room to room. How would the robot do leading them out?

    While this study was to test the 24 participants on their level of trust in the robot, there’s a lesson here regarding emergency preparedness and our own preparations.

    In case of an emergency, would you be content to rely on following someone that is hit and miss in their emergency preparations? Or would you rather have everything you need to survive, including emergency prep, gear, and know-how?

    Droids emergency robotThat’s what happened in the robot scenario. Because nobody knew the layout of the building, they were forced to rely on a droid with a sub-par success rate. Personally, if I were in that situation, I would have felt a lot better if the robot had been more like R2-D2, and less like C-3PO.

    In an event of an emergency, you either know what to do, or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re more likely to follow the crowd. But what if the crowd is just as clueless? If you do know what to do, then you’ll be much more prepared to take care of yourself and your family, as well as help those who aren’t as savvy as you are.

    So, what do you need to do to take charge of a situation, rather than relying on an uncertain leader?

    The first step is to plan. Know the disasters – both natural and man-made – that are prominent in your area. What will you do if the tornado sirens sound, an earthquake strikes, or it rains so hard it floods your neighborhood? Each scenario will require many similar tools, gear, and other emergency prep, but there will also be specific differences for each, too.

    The second step is to go out start putting your plan in motion. If you decided you need an emergency kit (or two or three), then make sure you have a date by which you should have those. The same applies to emergency food, shelter, and anything else you need. For floods, be sure to get insurance well in advance of flood season, since it takes 30 days for your insurance policy to become active.

    HydroHeat by Water - emergency robot Flameless cookers are good for anywhere!

    Third, practice. Once you have your gear and prep, take it for a spin. Learn how to prepare freeze-dried meals by cooking some up for dinner in your flameless cooker, simulating cooking without access to power. Go camping to see how well your tent works for your family, and how well you can start a fire in the wilderness. Having emergency gear is a necessary step, but knowing how to use it properly will get you even further.

    Lastly, stay up to date on your emergency preparations. If you already have emergency food storage or emergency kits, make sure the food isn’t too old. Rotate your storage, and update the food and other supplies in your kits. Continue to get the things you need once you have the bare necessities. Having more than the minimum can help you live more comfortably in an emergency, and can help prolong the time before a disaster becomes a real emergency.

     

    While you may not be able to stop a disaster from happening, your preparations can definitely help make things more comfortable during the aftermath.

  • Flint Followup: Unsafe Drinking Water is More Widespread Than You Think

    Flint Water Tower - unsafe drinking waterThe water emergency in Flint, Mich., where lead was found in unsafe amounts in the drinking water, has served one positive purpose. It’s brought attention to a widely neglected safety issue: unsafe drinking water. Here’s a rundown of stories just within the last month that discuss unsafe drinking water, and some ideas for how to protect your family.

     

    Chemistry in the Water

    Three drinking water systems near Colorado Springs, Colo., shut down wells after they found traces of man-made chemicals once used in things like nonstick cookware and firefighting foam.

    The chemicals are unregulated but can cause problems in laboratory animals. Water experts don’t know how the chemicals got into the water: leaking from landfills, maybe, or possibly even from airport firefighting foam.

     

    Unsafe Pipes

    Lead Pipe Lead pipes haven't been used in decades, but many old pipes haven't been replaced and can put out unsafe drinking water.

    Although lead pipes have been banned for 30 years, anywhere from 3.3 to 10 million older ones remain. And since it costs an estimated $5,000 per pipe to replace them, most will probably stay put. The trouble is, changes in water chemistry can cause lead pipes to leach lead into the drinking water.

    The school district of Sebring, Ohio, a town about 60 miles southeast of Cleveland, canceled school January 22-26 because of high levels of lead in two schools’ drinking fountains. The water system that serves about 8,100 homes around the town of Sebring, Ohio, tested the water over the summer and found high levels of lead in seven out of 20 homes tested. However, the system’s manager didn’t tell residents until January. As of February 6, after Sebring changed its water’s chemistry to reduce corrosion, about 30 homes, 4 percent of homes tested, still had lead levels above allowable amounts. Sebring’s water district blames lead pipes in homes.

    Lead can lead to digestive problems, muscle weakness, decreased IQ, attention problems and behavior changes. Lead poisoning affects young children first.

     

    Spills

    Remember last August, when the accidental spill of contaminants from a Colorado mine dyed the Animas River orange? On February 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report saying the 3-million-gallon spill dumped more than 880,000 pounds of metals into the river. The metals included cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Arsenic levels also tested high. Some of the metals reached the San Juan River in New Mexico, and Utah officials said some reached that state too.

    At the time, officials briefly closed the river to recreation and encouraged people with wells to get their water tested.

    However, the mountains in that area have dozens of idle mines that release contaminated wastewater every day. In fact, the EPA’s report estimated the amount of metals released during the accident is similar to that released on a spring day with high runoff from melting snow.

    The EPA had previously tried to declare the area a Superfund site, but local leaders refused because they were afraid that, among other things, it would discourage tourists.

     

    What to Do

    Most of the country’s drinking water is safe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you decide you want to filter drinking water at home, the CDC recommends four steps to choosing a filter.

    First, know your water source. If it’s a private well, you should get it tested yearly. If it’s a public system, the system is required to send an annual report about the water’s quality and contaminants.

    Second, think about why you want a filter. The main function of the activated carbon filters found in fridges and pitchers is to change the water’s taste. They may not fully protect against contaminants. If a test to your water system shows the presence of volatile organic contaminants, you may want a full-house or point-of-entry filter system so you can use the water for bathing and cleaning as well as cooking and drinking.

    Third, consider how the filter fits your home, lifestyle and budget. All water filters should be NSF-certified. Also, check the labels on filters, because no water filter removes everything. Often, filters that remove chemicals don’t remove organic contaminants. Consider things like cost of the filter system, how much filtered water you need and how a system might fit into your home.

    Fourth, maintain your filters. Change them on schedule.

    “Filters that are not well maintained can do more harm than good,” the CDC wrote.

    If you decide you only need a water filter for drinking and cooking, Emergency Essentials sells several. Also, water storage can be a great help if your water gets contaminated for a short period, like the Animas river spill.

     

    - Melissa

     

    February - Power Banner - unsafe drinking water

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