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  • Winter Survival on the Side of the Road

    5-miles-from-the-north-rim-via-stephen-krieg-photographics Winter Survival 45 miles from the North Rim - Photo via Stephen Krieg Photographics

    A sheriff’s official called it a “Christmas miracle.” On December 23 and 24, rescuers found a family that got stuck and then separated while trying to drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which was closed for the winter.

    The Klein family, of New Jersey, did some winter survival things well to survive their adventure, according to news coverage. They also made some mistakes that could have caused a tragic ending.

    The Kleins were willing to take an alternate route to get to their destination on December 22 when the primary route was closed. That, and the way father Eric Klein and 10-year-old son Isaac spent the night in the car, suggests they had enough fuel in the vehicle.

    “Never let your gas tank get below half,” said AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough. “In winter weather, if you’re detoured, you’ll have some flexibility, and you don’t have to worry about running out of gas.”

    The Forest Service road on which the Klein family got stuck didn’t have cell coverage. So the family agreed to have mother Karen Klein, a marathoner and triathlete who’d had some survival training, walk to the main road and get help. A few hours after she didn’t return, Eric walked the other way and found a high spot with enough cell coverage to call for help. That suggests they kept a cell phone charged.

    “Have a cell phone charger system so you have communications,” Fairclough said.

    “Don’t fail to signal for help, often and vigorously. Fire, smoke, and mirrors are good signals. Having a charged cell phone is a better one. Time is precious in a survival ordeal, so use it wisely to provide for your basic needs and be sure to signal at every opportunity,” wrote Tim MacWelch, a survival instructor, in a story for Outdoor Life.

    Karen Klein told “Good Morning America” she put snow in her cheek to keep hydrated.  At least she didn’t swallow it frozen.

    “Don’t eat ice or snow,” MacWelch warned. It can cause hypothermia. MacWelch suggested filling a bottle with snow or ice and putting it close to, but not next to, your skin, so body heat can melt it.

    Karen also stayed awake.

    "I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm," she told reporters.

    Car Stuck in Snow off a Road Winter SurvivalEven if you’re in a car, stay awake, especially when the engine is running, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

    If you run the car engine, only run it 15 minutes every hour and keep the tailpipe clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, keep windows cracked to avoid running out of oxygen.

    Karen Klein admitted they could have avoided this ordeal if they’d planned better.

    "As far as places being closed, we just didn't realize that these roads were closed and these visitor centers were closed," she told NBC News. "We didn't investigate that deeply."

    The main road to the North Rim, State Route 67, was closed.

    "Google Maps shows there's a way -- but it's impassable," Jim Driscoll, chief deputy for Coconino County, told the Associated Press, adding, "This is a problem we've had numerous times."

    During winter travel, stay on main roads, urges Ready.gov.

    “Avoid back road shortcuts,” the site urges. Tell someone where you’re going, your route, and expected arrival time.

    “If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route,” Ready.gov said.

    Stay near your car Winter Survival

    When you’re stranded, stay close to your vehicle. The North Dakota Department of Transportation even suggests if you need to leave your vehicle, tie yourself to it with rope.

    Karen told NBC News she set out with only Cheerios to eat.

    Make sure you’ve got an emergency kit, Fairclough said.

    Keep cold weather gear like blankets or a sleeping bag, boots, a coat and gloves in the car, she said. Aluminum “space blankets” can fit in a glove compartment.

    Bring a power source for cell phones, a radio and a flashlight with extra batteries.

    Believe it or not, a candle can heat a whole car’s cabin, she said. Keep matches too, because extreme cold can freeze some lighters.

    Add water and high-energy food like candy, raisins, nuts, dehydrated and freeze-dried fruit, and jerky. Remember toilet paper.

    Finally, take tools and equipment for the car: signaling equipment like bright cloth or flares, chains, booster cables, a nylon rope and a shovel, sand or kitty litter for traction.

    In a pinch, you can use the car’s floor mats for traction, Fairclough said.

    “A lot of people just don’t put a shovel in their cars,” she admitted.

    The Kleins’ trip could have ended in disaster. Coconino County, Ariz., Sheriff Jim Driscoll told the Los Angeles Times that in the last month, three people in the county died from exposure.

    The family did some things right, and emergency responders from many agencies responded quickly. They survived. But their errors could have cost them their lives.

    “It can be a pretty hostile environment,” Driscoll told the Times.


    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image2 Winter Survival

  • Are You Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?

    Zombie Apocalypse

    When the zombie apocalypse comes, ok, you’ll probably be running for your life. And estate and inheritance issues will be a mess.

    But at least you’ll be able to use Amazon’s game developing software, Lumberyard, to write code for medical equipment, nuclear reactors, and military operations. Under Lumberyard’s terms of service, you’re not allowed do so unless the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (or its successor body) declares a zombie apocalypse.

    Also on the bright side, the CDC has prepared instructions about how to prepare for such a disaster. Five years ago in May, the organization published “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” a blog post by Rear Admiral Ali Khan, the head of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Several months later, the organization produced a graphic novel with similar tips.

    By some strange coincidence, those same preparedness tips are useful for more mundane types of emergencies, like a hurricane or influenza pandemic.

    Khan’s blog recommended you start to prepare for a zombie apocalypse by building an emergency kit.

    “This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp,” he joked.

    It also recommended you add maps of the area, a radio and tools like a utility knife and duct tape.  Keep money and copies of important papers with the kit too.

    Next, the blog said, make a plan.

    It’s a four-step process. First, identify the types of emergencies that might hit your area. Second, pick meeting places for your family. There should be one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

    Third, identify emergency contacts, including local authorities and one out of state person you can call to let your family know you’re safe (and haven’t been infected by a zombie bite).

    Finally, plan an evacuation route. Make sure you have alternate routes.

    “When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e. brains),” Khan wrote.  “Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance!”

    By the way, according to the graphic novel, anti-zombie vaccines would first be sent to centralized evacuation points. So make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full so you can get there without having to take the time to siphon gas from abandoned vehicles. And keep a first-aid kit in your car too, so you don’t have to improvise basic health care with unclean supplies.

    The CDC does not recommend weapons because, hey, it’s a public health organization, not a law enforcement one. For other ideas about how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, consider “The Zombie Survival Guide,” by Max Brooks.

    And, uh, if you want more information about how to prepare for a slightly more likely emergency, consider the CDC’s emergency preparedness site or the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency preparedness site, ready.gov.

    And of course, check out Emergency Essentials at beprepared.com for our wide array of zombie-survival paraphernalia.


    How are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse (or other emergency)? Let us know in the comments!


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Zombie Apocalypse

  • Is Your Brain Prepped for Survival?

    BrushfireAn Australian family’s home was threatened by a bushfire a few years back. Bushfires can move very quickly and become very dangerous very fast. When the warning came via TV broadcast, the family moved quickly to prepare their home. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a plan, and their preparations were scattered, jumbled, and rather ineffective. The fire blocked their evacuation, thus trapping them inside their home. They bunkered down in the bathroom, hoping for the best.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but that is definitely not the situation in which I’d like to find myself. Fortunately, this was all part of an ABC Emergency simulation in the form of reality TV. You can watch the 10 minute video right here:



    What happened when this family discovered there was a threat quickly approaching their home? They went to work preparing, but as we saw in the video, they didn’t know how to properly prepare. Their brains shut off, as it were, making it difficult to find simple household objects, or even finish a sentence.

    This is due to adrenaline. According to Ian Mannix – ABC Local's manager of Emergency Coverage – the brain gets overwhelmed by this adrenaline, making it nearly impossible to think clearly. There is a way to counter that, however. Mannix said that “in order to behave habitually, people must also practice the plan under as near to real conditions as possible."

    The brain is an interesting thing. You may have talked about what you can do during an emergency, but until you actually practice it, that information probably won’t be there when you need it.

    BrainPopular Mechanics spoke with John Leach, a former Royal Air Force combat survival instructor. Leach explains why you can’t rely on your brain if you haven’t trained it for an emergency situation: “We cope by taking in information about our environment, and then building a model of that environment. We don't respond to our environment, but to the model of our environment.” Popular Mechanics explains further that “if there's no model, the brain tries to create one, but there's not enough time for that during an emergency.” That’s where things get sketchy.

    When faced with disaster, most people do not act with a clear head. This is what is known as the 10-80-10 theory of survival. In an article by the Daily Mail entitled Is Your Brain Wired to Survive a Disaster?, author Jo Carlowe explains this theory of survival. He points out that, “in a disaster, 10 per cent of people pull themselves together quickly; the majority, 80 per cent, remain stunned and bewildered, while 10 per cent simply freak out.”

    From those three groups, who do you suspect will be most likely to survive during a disaster? Chances are it will be the 10 percent who pull themselves together. Fortunately for everybody, if we don’t already think like a survivor – like that 10 percent who can pull themselves together – we can learn to think like one. And that’s what matters here.

    Under pressure, your brain may just freeze up. One way to avoid this is to increase your situational and self-awareness. Pay attention to what’s around you. Know where the nearest tornado shelter is, or where a good place to stand would be should an earthquake occur. That kind of stuff.

    But one of the best thing you can do is practice.

    Just like that Australian family from the video above, if you don’t have a plan – if you don’t practice – then your brain will have nothing to fall back on when the adrenaline starts pumping and overrides all clear thoughts. If you want to be safe during a disaster, you need to train your brain. Practice isn’t just for sports teams and musicians. It’s for every single one of us.

    Have you taken the time this month to practice using your emergency preparations? If not, now’s the time to do it. Simulate a disaster with your family. What would happen in the event of, say, an earthquake or tornado? Perhaps the power will be out. So, cut off your power and only use your emergency backup power. What else could happen? With the power off, you might need some other way to cook your dinner. Time to bust out that portable stove and a can of grub from your emergency food storage!

    There are so many things that could happen during a disaster. The more you practice, the better prepared you’ll be, the quicker your brain will react to what’s going on, and the safer you’ll be.

    Practicing your prep may take additional time, but you’ll be glad you did it when your brain keeps working in the moment you need it.


    Practice Your Prep


    Additional information:


    Go Dark for a Day [blog post]: http://beprepared.com/blog/18288/go-dark-for-a-day/


    Trauma Psychologist Rob Gordon Talks About Disaster Preparedness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb10DYRKzT8


    How have you practiced your prep? Share with us in comments!

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