Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prepare: Protection from Swine Flu Pandemic

An entire school district in Texas shut down for the next week it was announced last night. That is a district in a city of about half a million people. And they are not alone..

Other districts and schools are shutting down as well. The fear is that one student will infect others who in turn will take it home and the whole cart goes downhill from there. No surprise, just the surprise is that is has happened so fast. It was only over the past weekend the whole "swine flu" thing exploded into the main stream press.

Are there ways to protect yourself from viruses, flu and pandemic? There are ways to increase your chances of NOT getting a flu or virus, but remember, nothing is guaranteed besides avoiding sick people to begin with.

First, the obvious. Stay away from infected people. Don't drink or eat after them. Avoid public places. Don't use public water fountains. Keep kids away from playground equipment, water parks, and indoor play areas found at restaurants.

But having some protection is wise as well. I already told you that I purchased a box of masks for my family and it is the smartest precaution you can take. There are a number of masks available.

The Disposable EARLOOP Face MASK is familiar from hospitals. Many experts recommend these as they are lightweight, inexpensive and due to their widespread use, may not frighten small children.

My favorite however is the Influenza N95 Mask which I purchased. I keep three in my work bag, one in each of my childrens school bag and one by the front door ready to put on when strangers come by.

I saw this particular mask online but I have no idea if it is good or not, but it is pretty interesting. Wein N99 Pandemic Flu Protection ViraMask With Viraseal It might be scary to small children though.

Hands and fingers are how most illnesses get into our system. Touch a surface that a sick person has been near, put a finger in the mouth, nose or eye and bingo: You have been exposed.

Two things. Gloves and hand sanitizer (and the obvious - keep fingers out of face. I have to tell my kids that a couple of hundred times a day!). I think you are going to start seeing more people out and about wearing Medical Exam Gloves for the same reason hospitals do: they keep germs away from hands.

And sanitizer, like washing your hands cannot be stressed more. You can make sanitizer yourself.
- Aloe Vera gel (one cup)
- Rubbing alcohol (two teaspoons)
- Some lavender oil for a pleasant smell
- Tea tree oil and oregano oil (optional) for additional anti-viral protection.

My wife whipped up a big batch of this yesterday and filled several pump bottles for around the house use. And it smells nicer than the store bought product.

Taking vitamins helps, but you should have done this some time ago to build your immune system. Vitamins A, C, E along with zinc, selenium, and herbs echinacea and golden seal. We take an elderberry extract called Sambucol as well. My kids take a teaspoon before school and another when they get home. Herbalists swear this stuff can knock an infection off its socks before it takes hold. My wife swears by it when she starts to get a cold.

Finally, get plenty of rest. Try to not get so stressed; stress lowers your immune system. Drink lots of fluids like water, juice and plenty of green tea. Stay fit; a healthy body can fight off infection better than a sick one. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. All things your grandmother would have done fifty years ago.

But the best advice of all is stay away from sick people. Like the schools, we may have to shut down most public gatherings until this thing burns itself out.

Swine Flu Guide Available Online

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prepare: How To Prepare For Swine Flu

Or for any other pandemic.

Good news about the swine flu, it is not passed at random. You have to be exposed to someone who has the virus (or a pig who does, but most of us won't have that problem).

The old advice is the best advice:

- Stay away from sick people! If someone is sneezing and blowing their nose, get away from them. This is not a joke but a fact of life.

- Don't eat or drink after another. You never know if they have the virus in dormant stages.

- If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with something like a handkerchief or kleenex. (I hate those idiots who sneeze with their head stuck out, face uncovered as loud as they possibly can in a crowded room). After using the kleenex, throw it away. If it is a handkerchief put it away. Then wash your hands very well. (And then go home and get away from other people).

- Stay away from crowded public places. Sick people seem to love to congregate in churches, big retail stores, hospital emergency rooms, and schools. If you can work from home - do. If you can pull your kids from school, pull them. Only shop in the early morning or late night hours. Wear gloves or carry sanitizing wipes to wipe down grocery cart handles or baskets. Don't eat the samples in the grocery store for crying out loud!

- Use common sense. Wash hands frequently. Avoid touching eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Get plenty of rest. Eat properly.

OK, now MY list of preparedness advice the mass media and government don't want to talk about.

- Get some N95 masks today. They are far better than the surgical type masks (the blue ones) you see everyone wearing. The big box hardware stores generally carry them in the tool section or near paint. Word to the wise: They have been selling like hotcakes but Amazon has them in stock. 3M - N95 Respirator/Flu Mask, 20 Pack It is not adviseable to wear these multiple times. If you have one on for a short time, it can be reused. After exertion i.e. sweat and spittle (sorry to be gross, but the flu is worse!), the effectiveness of the mask goes down.

- Stock up on food, water and gasoline. Go fill the car up and at least one five gallon can. Buy several weeks of real food like canned and packaged foods, rice, beans, and so on. Get as many cases of bottled water as you can afford. Get a good quality water filter and some large containers.

Why? Well what happens when this swine flu gets out of hand and the grocers close? Or the truckers start getting sick? Also, this just another reason to have a garden for some additional food.

- Stock up on cash at home. Pay bills online. What happens when the banks close? So pay some of those bills in advance just in case.

- Get plenty of bleach and cleaning products. Clean your home and clothing very well now. Wipe surfaces constantly with anti-bacterial wipes. Keep Lysol spray handy and spray toys and eating surfaces as well as beds daily. Keep an N95 mask next to the front door. You may have to start wearing them whenever someone comes to the house.

- Have over the counter medicines, but stock up on alternative products as well. Like elderberry supplements marketed as Sambucol. You should have been taking regular supplements like vitamins and herbs already. If not, stock up on some as well as herbs like goldenseal and echinacea.

If you think you are getting the flu, remember to hydrate. Dehydration is a symptom of diarrhea, so get lots of gatorade and make rehydration drinks with sugar, salt and filtered water.

- If anyone does get sick in the family, quarantine them from the rest. Have a room designated as a sick room. Have clean sheets and bedding ready. Thoroughly clean the infected person's room, bedding and clothing. Keep them comfortable and well dosed with plenty of fluids.

Stay in contact with your health care provider and let them know of all symptoms as they occur.

You and your family can survive a pandemic, but you have to use common sense and courtesy. Most of all, stay away from others if you are sick and take all steps to get well as soon as possible. If you have not been exposed, do all possible to avoid being around other sick people. And no matter what anyone else says, get prepared now.

Swine Flu Guide Available Online

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SHTF: Swine Flu Scenarios

The news headlines are clear: Swine Flu Spreading

No questions there. Cases are popping up all over the U.S., in Israel, New Zealand, Scotland and many other places. So far, the fatalities have been limited to Mexico.

In 1918, the world saw the first flu virus pandemic with the Spanish Influenza breakout that year. The virus first manifested itself in the spring of 1918, went nearly dormant in the summer and then exploded in the autumn.

Could it happen again?

Some say what happened in 1918 could not happen in 2009 because we have a better healthcare system, instant communication, a nationwide health apparatus (the CDC) designed to deal with communicable diseases, and improved hygene practices.

It is for these reasons and others, I think that a 1918 type viral outbreak could be worse.

First, the U.S. healthcare system is already overtaxed. With so many people using the emergency room for primary care, an outbreak would quickly overwhelm the system. In addition, costs have closed several hospitals and clinics already.

Yes, we have instant communication, but that same medium propagates rumors that much faster. Some joker could spread a story on the Internet that the virus is being spread at a certain location, or city or through a product and watch the people panic.

The CDC may have good doctors and workers on staff, but since it is in the best interest of the nation not to have panic, what is to prevent them from burying the story about what is really happening? Ever read the Stand by Stephen King?

And what about hygiene? A friend reports that nearly every illness gets spread through his children's elementary school like wildfire partially due to poor hygiene practices. Both natives and new immigrants to our country all have different ideas about "clean" constitutes. One may bathe every day and another once a week and so on. And despite the governments warnings the flu is spreading faster every day.

Here is something else to consider. In 1918, a large portion of the country lived in rural and semi-rural areas. Many were never effected by the Spanish Influenza due to their proximity from the virus. Compare that to today where millions are sequestered in packed cities, housed in massive apartment buildings, are packed like sardines in overcrowded schools and occupying high rise building offices sharing each others germs passed conveniently through central air and heating systems.

Imagine this scenario:
Child goes to inner city school where another child has been exposed to the virus and left at school by parents who both have to work. Infected child spreads the flu to one hundred other children who take it back to their apartment buildings and city homes. Within twenty four hours, thousands have been exposed who then take the flu onto mass transit buses and trains spreading the illness around even more. Office and factory workers share the virus and the ripples grow larger and larger.

As workers and children get sick, critical care and public safety workers succumb to the flu and start missing work. City services like garbage and traffic go unattended. Electricity and water service become spotty which further exaserbates the problem. Within a week, thousands pack cars and suitcases and head out of the city "until things blow over". The roads and interstates are packed. Cars full of the sick began flooding into smaller nearby towns and quickly overwhelm health care facilities.

Small towns begin to quarantine themselves. The government declares curfews and looting begins in unprotected areas. Things start to unravel..

Could it happen? It has before. Look at Medieval Europe when the Black Death spread across the continent. Whole towns and villages were emptied in a few months.

Best get prepared and think of the worse case scenario before things go downhill. Do you have food and water stocked? Cash on hand? Gasoline in the car? Plenty of OTC medicines, disinfectants, and cleaning products?

Hopefully, this flu bug will move on and never become anything more than an annoying spring bug. But is best to have a pandemic plan ready just in case.

Swine Flu Guide Available Online

Monday, April 27, 2009

Prepare: Dealing with Swine Flu and Pandemics

Yikes! This time its not Avian (bird) flu, its the pig version - swine flu.

Swine flu is a virus which pigs get and is like the flu humans get. One very big problem - it can be transferred to other pigs and humans. That's not very nice.

What's worse, is humans can transfer it to other humans and it is very contagious.

The final note; Swine is flu is potentially fatal and has proven so in several cases in Mexico.

Apparently, the flu broke out in Mexico, infected at the very least several hundred people before moving across the border into the United States. [Note: some sources are saying the real estimate is thousands of cases in Mexico where it is overwhelming the health care system and being hushed up by the government].

Swine flu has some of the typical symptoms of other flu bugs. From the CDC website:

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Let's get serious: The swine flu could get out of control just like any other pandemic could. Unlike raiders or looters or riots, viruses can't be stopped with firepower and threats. Only with quarantines, personal protection equipment and dillegence can we avoid catching a bug.

First, avoid sick people. It sounds easy, but is harder than we think. For instance, avoid places with potential sick people like mega stores, sports events, school, work and travel. Airplanes are my particular nemesis during an outbreak. Sick people have a tendancy to think everyone else wants their bug and they board up stuffy nose, fever and all.

The same type of person sends their child to school with a runny nose, mile fever and aches so Mom can have her "time off". If the flu comes to your kids school, pull them as soon as possible. By the way, ask your school what the policy is regarding outbreaks. What do they do about sick children? Do they let them stay?

Next, do you have personal protection equipment? Go to the hardware store and pick up a big ole box of N95 masks. I did some time ago and keep them in my work bag, in the car and in my kids backpacks. In other countries people routinely wear masks to avoid sickness in public places. We might want to start doing the same thing in the U.S. before long.

Also get some hand sanitizer. Get the big size and some of the smaller hand sizes too. You can make hand sanitizer out of alcohol, aloe vera gel and vegetable glycerin. Wash hands frequently with soap and water especially when out in public.

It would be nice to have a doctor friend and stock up on Tamiflu, but some viruses are not affected by Tamiflu or other drugs. It is better to get some elderberry extract and supplements from the health food store. I picked up Sambucol, vitamins C, D, E and other antioxidants, echinacea and zinc. I nave been dosing myself regularly since this whole thing broke out.

Keep your home clean too. Routinely use disinfectant and bleach on all surfaces to kill viruses if they get in the house. We also strip the beds at least twice a week, wash bedding in hot water and detergent and spray the mattresses with Lysol. My wife has covers and pads for all the pillows and mattresses as well.

My kids have been trained to blow their nose with tissues and wash immediately afterward. We never use handkerchiefs but tissues which can be thrown away and disposed of. We also have the kids change their clothes and wash school clothing after they come home from school. No reason to bring anything home and into the house.

This morning before school, we told the kids to do what we do; avoid anyone with cold symptoms. Don't play with them or sit next to them in the cafeteria. Sounds harsh but its not my problem that some thoughtless mom sent her kids to school sick.

Finally, there is quarantine. If its swine flu or bird flu or whatever, are you ready to quarantine at home? What is the government declares a state of emergency and puts in place a curfew. Schools closed, non-essential businesses shut down, workers told to stay home.. Do you have cash on hand? The ability to pay bills for an extended time? What about a stockpile of food and water? Better get stocked up now if you have not already.

Here are a few great resources I found online during the avian flu scare. They are still pertinent for swine flu.
Swine Flu Guide Online

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Prepare: Bulk Buying Assault Rifles

I mentioned on a recent post about the new availability of AR15 rifles on several gun sale sites. Since last summer or so, the AR15 and AK platforms have been next to impossible to get online or in person.

The prices are still high, but AR and Ak rifles are slowly coming back in stock. Blame good old greed for the sudden increase in supply. There is money to be made when the shelves have something available to sell. Up until recently, gun stores, both online and in the brick and mortar world have had nothing to offer save paint guns, air soft, holsters and 12 gauge shells.

I generally check Impact and Classic Arms (because I like the owners and their philosophy) for the latest news on what's really available. Both companies feature new and surplus AR and AK rifles on their sites.

The latest twist has come from investors getting in on the American firearm buying rage which is sweeping the land. If you are a collector of anything, coins, comic books, art, Beanie Babies, you know that when an object attracts attention and a potential high rate of financial return, the "speculators" come out of the woodwork to get a piece of the action. The Wall Street Journal put up a story about assault rifles as an investment recently so that means more deep pocket buyers will be checking potential market returns soon.

Then I found how the suppliers are reacting to this development. Check out what Impact is doing.. Those are some fine looking rifles! And why stop at one when you can get a great price on ten. Keep one AR15 for yourself, one for the wife, a couple for the kiddos and sell the rest for a handsome profit.

That's right. A 10 pack of Colt M4 rifles for the discriminating buyer. And specifically marketing to the investor seeking a safe place for his hard earned FRN's in our tumultuous financial times. Perish the thought of investing in beach front condos, fine art or blue chips, the practical and savvy investor is putting his money in the bang bang market. Hey, Colt is one of the best blue chips I can think of.

Some of these AR's might even get shot once in a while, but most likely will sit in their "original packaging" for even better returns.

For the rest of us, this may mean something else down the line to consider. Imagine going to the estate sales of the formerly rich and famous and coming across a rack of Colts finest available to the highest bidder? Strange times indeed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prepare: Guns SHTF Which Gun

The headlines scream about the numbers of AR this an AK that which are "flying" off the shelves at the gun stores nationwide. It's true, there have been a lot of semi's being sold in the past 9 months.

Next, the gun stores are reporting high sales in every other type of rifle and handgun as well. One could estimate that millions of weapons have been sold in the past year alone. All of those firearms are going home to first time buyers as well as several into the hands of savvy investors too.

Then comes the kicker: Ammo. There is none to be had say the arms merchants. Stories abound of Walmart stocks being bought out on the loading docks by greedy gun store owners. Of whole cases being auctioned off in secret sales before a single round makes it to the shelves.

True or not, ammo is indeed hard to get and only small amounts have been available when at all.

Since last year, I have been keeping tabs on the best locations, due to sheer number of stores and volume, in my area - Walmart. Walmart typically carries in the glass case any number of caliber desired and generally, the prices are good on most major manufacturers.

Starting last fall, the shelves started getting some holes in the stock. First went 5.56 (they kind fired by semi rifles like the AR15) and 7.62 x 39, the kind used by AK rifles.

Then the handgun calibers ran low. .380 and 9MM went first followed by .38, .357 and later .45. All this occured slowly, over a 6-8 month period by my calculations.

Over this past weekend, I stopped off at two Walmarts in my area. Let me temper this by saying, I live in one of the top gun-friendly states in the Union so firearm support i.e. retail availability has never been a problem.

At both Walmart locations, here was the scene. The glass ammunition case was stocked on each shelf, except for the top shelf and one of the middle shelves, with 12 gauge shells. Bird shot, slugs and buckshot.

There were three boxes each of 30-30, 30-06 and 270. There were about five boxes of 7MM. The top shelf had about ten boxes of 22 magnums. That was it. Everything else was 12 gauge.

Need a box of 9's? 38's? Forget it. Judging by the stocking, this was the case at most Walmarts and will probably remain this way for several months.

So what's the verdict? In all seriousness, if you have not purchased a firearm for preparedness, my advice is to pick up a pump action 12 gauge shotgun in short order. Not only is the shotty a versatile and handy firearm, there is plenty of ammo to feed it obviously.

Now, you can still purchase several types of handguns and other long guns, but there simply is not enough ammo to feed it beyond range time. Which means either your practice takes the hit or your stocks for post-SHTF. Not a fun place to be.

So consider getting a shotgun and take advantage of the plethora of ammo for that particular beast while it is available.

An interesting side note: There are more AR and AK available from the big online retailers once again. Before, places like Impact and Classic were reduced to only having Mosin Nagants, an odd Mauser and some knock off accessories. Not the case now. In fact, Classic has CETME's in stock again! Wow.

However, most of the ammo and nearly all the surplus ammo is gone and I hate to say it, it won't be back any time soon. Forget about South African and Lake City leftovers. It is not coming back.

So stock up on what you can get now and keep your eyes open for extras when it comes available. Ammo is definitely coming to be, as Col. Jeff Cooper calls it, ballistic wampum for the new world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prepare: Nuclear War

I watched this clip on You Tube this morning. There are several others related and like it on their so there is plenty of depressing footage available if you are so inclined.

What struck me are the people either standing around with their mouths open or panicking like morons. Yes, I have never been in a nuclear war, but these are actors and the directors/producers obviously wanted to create an image of how people would react in this scenario.

I know a bunch of people who would go into "ready mode"; that never gets portrayed in films though.

For instance, I have my computer up most of the time. The TV is almost always on and I carry a Blackberry 20 hours a day. If something happens news wise, I am usually on it. Example: During Sunday's Easter Egg hunt, I was the one who informed the other party goers of the rescue of the Maersk Alabama's captain moments after it was announced.

So, I find out that nuclear missiles are being launched. The internal clock in my head says "twenty minutes max" until something lands nearby. Let's get started!

Where is everyone?
Locate the wife and kids. If kids are at school, my butt is on the way to get them now. School is on speed dial. Call school, get my kids into the front office now.
Kids at home? Good. Get them in the house and get ready to go.
Wife not at home? Call her cell, tell her to get her butt home now.

Start loading water
Water is the most important product we will need. Start filling the bathtubs after throwing a splash of bleach in the bottom. Two tubs in the house, both will get filled.
Next, grab the jugs and bottles kept in the kitchen and put the kids to filling them up. Do the same with any and all tupperware and other type containers in the cabinets as well.

Start getting the food together
We keep food all over the house. Canned goods, pasta, buckets, you know like the rest of you. I am going to be stock piling all of it in my shelter in place (we will address that in a second).
Most will come as it is in plastic covered cartons, but loose cans and other stuff will be thrown into laundry baskets and storage containers.
And the contents of the fridge will be put into that giant ice chest sitting under the shelf in the kitchen along with all the ice and some of the frozen foods too.

Get the cars into the garage
And disconnect the batteries and ground the vehicle. I want this thing to start afterward if possible.

Close the windows and shutters. Lock up the house.

Get the family into the home shelter. Pile as much additional stuff around us as possible for mass. You can never have enough mass protection from fallout.

Get radios, gloves, masks, tools and other stuff. Most of it is already pre-positioned inside the home shelter, but I have a tendency to borrow stuff and use elsewhere.

Bring in the phone. Call anyone one last time.
This is crucial. Let's say you have friends or family away from the zone of damage, but close enough to drive too. If they know you are prepared and sheltered, they may be in a position to come to you afterward or expect you once the radiation levels have tapered off.

Now, what is the home shelter and shelter in place? It would be swell if we all had a swanky underground shelter with twelve months of supplies, blast door, filtration systems and multi entrance/exit hatches and room for forty. But let's face it - who has a couple of million around to buy one of those?

However, any of us can build an expedient fallout shelter in our home with enough time. The best bet is to have it laid out now and have the necessary materials on hand. First, google Nuclear War Survival Skills. Second, go to RadMeters4U and read this whole piece on What To When Nuclear War Is Imminent.

Our home shelter is in the center of the house where the most mass is located (We do not have a basement). The attic above the space has several large full storage containers. The surrounding walls comprise with bathrooms, closets or other inner walls.

Heavy materials such as storage containers, full drawers, boxes and other stuff will be put along the walls. I have several doors and pieces of plywood for the over head. These will be layered with additional storage containers, clothing and other stuff for mass protection.

The hallway has a right angle which will serve as the air flow port. Another is designed on one side.

I have already purchased dosimeters and KI for additional protection and detection. After the radiation levels have dropped off a couple of things will happen. We will leave and go to friend away from here or we will try and make a go of it here.

Is this plan fool proof? Of course not. If it were up to me I would have 15 acres one hundred miles from the nearest 7-11 complete with an underground shelter and storeroom. I would also have wings, could read minds and could shoot like Alvin York. Wishes and fishes. I have to work with what I have and where I am. Adapt and overcome.

A few more things...

The chances of an onslaught of nuclear warheads raining down from Russia are far slimmer than they were in 1982. Times have changed. So have our adversaries. Those nuclear weapons may arrive in rented u-Hauls or shipping containers today.

Why did I not mention running to the grocery store? You have to do that now. All of us should have food and water stored. Last minute water can and should be obtained because you can never have enough.

What will the world look like after a nuclear attack? Who knows. It will stink come to think of it. But I would rather prepare for my kids than sit at home watching them starve and wishing I had done something now.

Good luck and get off your computer and get some fresh air.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

SHTF Review: Alas Babylon

In high school, I think sophomore year, I was in American Lit or some similar named course. We were given a reading list of 7 or 8 books which during the year we would read and discuss (and write papers!) about in class.

During those wonderful, non-PC, heady days of the 1970's and 1980's, reading lists would invariably include "Alas Babylon" and/or "On the Beach", both post-nuclear war fiction accounts.

I don't know what encouraged the reading expert to high schools in that era to add those titles to the required reading list, but I appreciated it. I was always a fan of science fiction and gravitated towards end of the world stories in particular. I would gaze over the paperbacks in B Dalton or Walden Books at the mall and search for covers with nuclear bombs or pictures of a ruined city or something.

I had never heard of Pat Frank's "Alas Babylon" before I was handed my reading list in high school and probably because the cover of that book often featured a) no picture or b) a group of mismatched people staring at what looked like a sun on the horizon. Nope, I probably thought it was some "literature book" like "East of Eden" or "Grapes of Wrath" and promptly ignored it at the time.

"Alas Babylon" takes place in late 1950's Florida and follows one Randy Bragg, a playboy middle aged attorney minding the aging family home and orange groves and keeping the local bourbon and scotch trade going briskly. Bragg's big brother, the responsible one, is an officer at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha and sends Randy a cryptic telegram - Alas Babylon. Turns out this is their code word for "The big one is about to happen".

Fortunately, along with the telegram comes a check for five grand for "preps" and after a humorous run in with the local banker cashing the check, Randy starts stocking up. The problem is three fold.

First, Randy lives in Fort Repose, a town of only about ten thousand and with it the limited resources available such as only one grocery store, gas station and (yikes!) liquor store. Randy's ten full grocery carts attract some attention.

Second, Randy only has about twenty four hours to get ready. Part of which he devotes to a nap!

Third, with the check and the warning comes big brother's wife and two kids who need to be collected at the airport in Orlando before the bombs go off.

Top things off with Randy forgetting some important things like laundry detergent but remembering some decent 1950's trade goods later like lots of coffee and booze.

Family arrives, bombs go off and chaos ensues. Randy is transformed from mildly alcoholic recluse to head of household, militia leader and the face of law and order in Central Florida. He collects a motley crew at his rambling home including a humane doctor, a crusty old admiral, jack of all trades Air Force sergeant, a successful retired business man and his lovely daughter.

Besides having to figure out where water comes from, food production, the value of salt and how to perform surgery with steak knives and fishing line, Randy takes on highway men, edgy neighbors, lonely housewives, radioactive jewelry and a dangerous black marketer lady with eyes for him.

"Alas Babylon" was penned during a crucial time for atomic America. The Russians had launched Sputnik and were going toe to toe with the U.S. in the development of ballistic submarines and transcontinental bombers. Most of the actual war described in the book takes place over months, not hours as it would happen today. There were no satellite communications in this time, so radio and TV were line of site and once gone, leave the residents of Fort Repose in the dark information wise.

However, the characters in "Alas Babylon" still had useful skills reflective of the time period, such as Malachi and his family next door who raise their own crops, livestock, make moonshine and keep the Model T running. Also, seems everyone knows how to can, hunt, fish and keep a household running without a microwave, refrigerator or working air conditioner.

"Alas Babylon" has one thing over much other survival fiction these days; its a good story. The characters are real, the events range from frightening to hum drum. Maybe it was the way people conducted themselves in the 1950's, but there is no need for long blab fests or group meetings symptomatic in survival stories online. Responsibility is thrust upon individuals and they accept it with stoic silence and resolve. The characters are modeled after the same people who fought and won World War II; life is tough and getting tougher.

"Alas Babylon" is a great story and belongs on everyone's survival bookshelf. I have seen a copy available for reading online for free, but Alas, Babylon is available in paperback still. Hopefully, for the high school reader, though I doubt it. It might be too relevant.

Good luck,

Monday, April 06, 2009

SHTF: EMP, One Second After, Gingrich

Newt Gingrich on the Dangers of EMP Attacks and a new book, One Second After by William Forstchen.

Checking the news this AM, I see that Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House from Georgia, has raised the alarm about the dangers of rogue nuclear states and the threat of an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) attack.

An EMP attack takes advantage of the massive amount of electro magnetic energy released by a nuclear device. Theoretically, an EMP blast would render inoperable sensitive digital circuits such as those found in computers, cars, telephones and other pieces of our nation's infrastructure.

Like the nuclear blast, the higher in the altitude the pulse takes place, the further it reaches. Again, in theory, a single EMP explosion, or chain of similar releases using nuclear weapons, could knock out most post 1950's technology in its path.

An EMP attack would give an enemy a decisive advantage. Their target would have no modern communications or weapons systems available to prepare and counterattack. Further, the damage to the civilian infrastructure would tax and possibly destroy a country's ability to recover. Moreover, because an EMP attack does not leave radiation or widespread damage often associated with a nuclear weapon, the land and much of its facilities would be ready and waiting for an invading army to take advantage of.

The affect on our society would be irreversible and unimaginable. Planes would drop from the sky. Automobiles, immobile, would clog the highways and streets. Communication, energy and food production would ground to a halt. All modern medicine would revert to the Dark Ages as diagnostic equipment goes offline. Law enforcement would be overwhelmed and quickly non-existent.

The question is could we survive?

First, anyone dependent upon technology or modern medicine for their daily survival is a near goner. I hate to sound gloomy, but if there is no power than all those machines aren't going to be functioning. Further, modern medicines will no longer be produced or available at the local Walmart any longer.

Next, my opinion is that the cities are the worse place to be simply because of the concentration of people, the sheer numbers of mouths to feed and the lack of space to grow anything to eat more than a Chia pet. However, most souls in the U.S. are clustered in and around cities.

So there is a good chance that a die off around 90% of the population would not be too far off. Quite frankly, between starvation, resurgent illnesses, crime and lawlessness, most of us don't stand a chance.

Preppers, however, have long prepared for an "post-EMP America" scenario. Unlike the uphill difficulties of radiation or pandemic, being ready means focusing on low tech solutions and storing enough basics for survival.

Because the ground and air are not contaminated and people are not walking pestilence carriers, a working survival community can be designed and prepared in most locations.

Having a remote location such as a farm or ranch is ideal. Food means having several acres of land for grain and vegetable crops, an orchard for fruit and enough space for chickens, goats, rabbits and cattle for meat, dairy and egg production. As important, is the knowledge and ability to produce food without modern machinery and having enough fuel on hand for a pre-1950's tractor and truck.

Stocking medical supplies helps, but having a trained doctor, dentist and nurse would do wonders. Also having skilled mechanics, carpenters and electricians around to build and repair older, pre-computer equipment would go a long way.

Finally, being in the best location and having the tools to defend the community would be the final piece determing whether or not we survived or not.

I think Gingrich speaking out on this subject comes in relation to his part of the release of One Second After by William Forstchen. One Second After is a new book written in the same style as the classic Alas Babylon (and Lights Out for us online fans!).

A father with two small daughters living in rural North Carolina faces a new, dark future after an EMP device is exploded of the U.S. sending the country and most of the world back to the dark ages.

This sounds like a great book as it deals with the aftermath of the attack for some months afterwards and tackles, as the review says, "some obvious and some not so obvious questions"

I love stories like these and am happy to see them in published form and with the press attention to go with it. I hope it wakes some people up and unlike zombies or lizard men from Mars, nuclear attacks are a very real end of the world scenario. I can't wait to get this book either online or at the store.

I don't know if I agree with Mr. Gingrich that one nuclear bomb could destroy the U.S. - at least not in the situation described in his article and built upon in the related book.

However, I do know that one nuclear weapon exploded in a major American city would cause a long term shock to the American people and a short term wave of panic like none of us have scene since 1962.

Best case is to be prepared for any eventuality and you know what that means.

Good luck,

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