Thursday, January 21, 2016

Power Outage

Most of the time, power outages are momentary. The lights flicker and go off for a few minutes, and if we're patient they come back on before too long. But then, every once in a while, something like last night happens.

Last night, the lights went dark at 8:30 p.m., and they didn't come back on. I looked out the window, and our city was like a black hole in space. There wasn't a light to be seen anywhere.

We were happy to have an emergency light plugged into outlets in every room, so we could at least see to safely maneuver around the house. In the laundry room, we have a couple of LED lanterns stowed, so we grabbed them and put them to work. The furnace was disabled by the power outage, so we started a fire in the fireplace insert. That added a bit to ambient illumination and warmth. Then we settled in for a game of cribbage and our conversation swung to speculation about what might have caused the outage. And we waited for the lights to come back on. And we waited, and we waited. Sometime in the middle of the night, power was restored, but we were in bed by then.

So why do I tell this story? Because, in the middle of all this, I started thinking about all the people who were sitting around in the dark and the cold because they haven't prepared for situations like this. Like us, those folks were probably wondering what caused the power to disappear, and wondering when it would return. But I could imagine many of them scrambling around to find flashlights and other items they would need.

And that's the point I want to make. It is so much easier to go through a power outage if you don't have to go hunting for your emergency equipment. Honestly, it doesn't matter what caused the power failure. That is only important if your job is to restore the power. But for the rest of us mortals, the only thing that matters is being able to take care of your own immediate needs — enough light to be able to move around the house safely, enough warmth to stay well, an emergency supply of water (in case the city water pumps are down, or your own well pump is out of action), and an emergency supply of foods that don't need electricity for preparation.

My recommendations:

  • Prepare each room with an emergency light that automatically comes on when the power fails. 
  • Get a couple of battery-powered LED lanterns, because these units will really light up an entire room. They're safe, from a fire standpoint, but keep a supply of replacement batteries on hand. 
  • Have flashlights or headlamps available in every room, and periodically check the batteries to make sure the lights are always operational. Headlamps are more convenient than flashlights because they free up your hand. But if you used flashlights, I recommend units with an adjustable lens that can provide a range of beam width. 
  • Prepare your pantry with bottled water sufficient to last several days, in case there's a prolonged power failure. 
  • Stock up on high-energy emergency foods that can be eaten without the need for cooking. 
  • Have manual can openers in your kitchen utensil drawer, so you can open canned foods. 
  • Know where your camp stove is, and have a supply of fuel for it. It's okay to cook indoors with a propane or white gas camp stove, but don't waste the fuel trying to heat the house with it. DO NOT cook indoors with a hibachi or other type of charcoal grill, because that is a recipe for CO poisoning. 
  • Don't open the refrigerator or freezer until you're really in need, because the cold will escape. 
  • If it's cold enough outside (below 40 degrees F.) use the great outdoors as an auxiliary refrigerator. 
  • Stock up on blankets and/or sleeping bags to use when the furnace is dead. 
  • Have books to read and games to play when all the electronics are out of action. 
  • In most cases, a power failure will last only a few hours, so don't panic. But if you have reason to believe something catastrophic has happened, and the power is going to be offline for a long time, consider evacuating to a safe location that is not affected. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

John Sain was alone, bow hunting for elk in a remote wilderness of central Idaho when his foot slipped between two downed trees and he fell, breaking his lower leg.

It's the kind of accident that can happen in a heartbeat. But it's also the kind of accident that can end your life.

In Sain's case, the fact that he was alone, with no cell phone or any other means of communication with the outside world, miles from nowhere, and with a badly broken leg almost brought him to the point of ending his own life.

For four days, Sain crawled painfully toward a trail where he hoped someone would find him. But eventually, he got to the point that he almost gave up hope. "It's just the bottom line," he said. "Do I want to suffer or do I just want to get it done with. And at one point, I was reaching for my pistol, asking the Lord for forgiveness."

After thinking about it, Sain gave up on the idea of suicide. Instead, he fashioned a splint out of sticks and strips of ripped cloth. He had a little food, a water filter, and a small survival kit, so he was able to build a fire each night to stay warm.

Each day, he crawled, dragging his mangled leg behind him. On the second day, after crawling three miles, he reached a trail. He scrawled the word "Help" in the dirt, and hoped someone would come along and find him. As luck would have it, some motorcyclists took a wrong turn and ended up on the trail where John Sain lay in agony. One of the riders used a cell phone to call for help, then cut down some trees so a rescue helicopter would be able to land nearby.

Sain ended up in the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and dehydration — the conditions commonly listed as "exposure" that kill most casualties of outdoor accidents.

When asked, Sain said that he will hunt alone again, but next time he will take a satellite phone or GPS tracking device so he can call for help if necessary.

Those devices are good to carry, but what if the accident were to render him unconscious so he couldn't use the satellite phone or even press the rescue button on the GPS locator beacon? Here's my advice:

  • Never go into the wilderness alone. Always hunt or fish or hike or whatever with someone else who would be capable of rendering assistance in case of an accident. 
  • Always file a plan with loved ones or trusted friends back home. The plan should include information about where you're going, how long you're going to be there, and when you should be expected to return. That way, if you don't show up on schedule, a rescue effort can be launched. 
  • Carry communication devices appropriate for the location you're going to be in. Cell coverage might not exist, so a sat phone or GPS tracker might save your life. 
  • Always be prepared to stay longer than you think the trip will take. A small stumble can instantly change your plans, extending your stay in the wilds by days or longer. 
  • Prepare for unexpected changes in the weather. Carry overnight shelter even if you think you're only going to be out there for a day hike or single day hunt. 
  • Watch where you put your feet, always expecting that bark might slip off the log you're stepping on, or the rocks might roll beneath your feet. Don't put yourself in a position to become trapped and injured. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Deadly Cargo

People are asking me what my new novel Deadly Cargo is all about.

Well, first of all, it’s a modern-day thriller. This is no ponderous tome that puts you to sleep. Deadly Cargo is an absolute page-turner that will keep you excited and wondering what’s going to happen next. The plot is taken right out of today’s headlines, dealing with a terrorist attack on America. My only warning is that once you start reading, you're not going to want to put the book down.

But it’s more than just a book about terrorism. It’s about cultural ideology, philosophy, and eternal perspective. Here, let me give a taste of that — an excerpt from a confrontation between Husam al Din, a jihadist who wants to die in the act of bringing death to Americans, and Josh Adams (an undercover intelligence agent) who tracked down Husam al Din and faces a life and death struggle with him. This is part of that scene:

Husam al Din grinned wickedly, as he circled to the right. “I am ready to die. I have been ready all my life.”

Josh took another step to his right. “That’s the difference between us. To me, life is a gift from God. Something to be protected as a way of honoring him.”

“And to me,” Husam al Din said, “life is a gift to give back to Allah, as I do his work. That is how I will honor him.”

Obvious these two men have different viewpoints about the purpose of life. But the book is about a lot more than just that. It’s about eternal love (there are two romance sub-plots), raging hatred, greed and struggle for power, murder and desperate self-defense. And it's about a family adventure that gets caught up in the deadly chaos.

It’s about good and evil. But best of all, there is no bad language, no sexual scenes, no gratuitous violence and bloodshed except what is necessary to do away with the bad guys. It’s a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And the ending will be a surprise.

Here’s a link to Deadly Cargo on Amazon:…/…/ref=sr_1_2…

Also available in Kindle version at this link:

Read it, then post a review on Amazon and please send this to all your friends.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Off The Grid

generatorPeople interested in survival often talk about living "off the grid." That means living without outside support by utility companies, municipal water systems, etc.

Depending on advance preparation, life off the grid would range from living caveman style to living like Little House on The Prairie. If you're doing it voluntarily, that's one thing. But if life off the grid is suddenly forced upon you, that's an entirely different situation.

In an escalating scale of life off the grid conditions, the situation would look like this: No electricity (heating, refrigeration, cooking, lights). No running water. No toilet facilities. No communication devices (radio, TV, phone, computer). No transportation (gas stations unable to pump fuel). No commercially available food supply (stores closed due to no electricity and no transportation). No pharmaceuticals. No hospitals. No police and fire departments.

In a worst-case scenario, after a short time you would be pretty much on your own.

But assuming you're not anticipating a volunteer life off the grid … should you be concerned about any of this?

Well, if we can believe the leader of the National Security Agency (NSA), maybe we all need to start taking a closer look at our own personal preparation for living off the grid. In a recent meeting of the House Intelligence Committee, Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the NSA and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, told lawmakers that he believes China (and one or two other countries) have the ability to launch a cyber attack that could disable the electric grid in the U.S.

Further, Rogers stated that if the U.S. remains on the defensive, it would be what he called "a losing strategy." He went on to describe the threat as "so real."

Rumors about the disastrous impact of a cyber attack have circulated freely in the past, but never before has such a threat been publicly confirmed by the nation's head of national security.

At the hearing, Rogers confirmed that U.S. adversaries perform electronic "reconnaissance," on a regular basis so they can be in a position to attack the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.

This suggests that it's time to take stock of our own personal preparation to survive off the grid. If the country is hit, there will be general chaos at all levels. There won't be anybody coming around to your neighborhood offering to keep you warm, to cook your food, to flush your toilet, or to calm your fears.

It's time to ask yourself the "what if" questions about how you would carry on with your personal survival needs if the grid suddenly ceased to exist.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Survive Kidnapping

The man came out of nowhere, grabbed Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, and dragged her into his car. She'd been kidnapped.

It's the kind of story that happens all too often, sometimes in broad daylight and in public places. Most of the victims are women, sometimes grabbed from a parking lot and dragged into a vehicle adjacent to the victim's car. And most of the time the victim ends up dead.

But this time there was a happy outcome — Carlesha was found alive, and her kidnapper was taken into custody. So we should take a look at what Carlesha did that helped her survive.

A spokesman from the Philadelphia police department reported that Carlesha's fighting spirit was probably what kept her alive. "My understanding is, even after she was in the car and bound, she continued to struggle with this guy."

When authorities located the car used in the abduction, the rear window had been kicked out. Indeed, a witness to the kidnapping told police that Carlesha kicked out some of the car's windows before it sped away. Her glasses and cell phone were found at the site of the abduction, along with a pile of broken auto glass. That gave law enforcement something to look for — a car with the windows broken out. That was a clue that led to her eventual rescue.

There's a survival principle at work here. Fight for your life, and be creative in the ways you can attract attention to your plight. In my book, The Ultimate Survival Manual, I include this piece of advice:

To signal other drivers that you’ve been abducted and are in the trunk of a car, defeat the taillights altogether or use them to send an SOS. To gain access to the taillights, you might have to remove or break through a lightweight panel. Once through the panel you’ll probably be able to see the light operating. Find the wiring harness. Best solution is to cut one of the wires and strip back the insulation so you can alternately make and break contact to make the light flash. Dit, dit, dit, dah, dah, dah, dit, dit, dit for SOS.

Do whatever it takes, but by all means never give up. Fight as if your life depends on it — because it probably does.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola — The Hard Reality

Hasmat SuitOne of the biggest survival issues to come along in nearly a century is the Ebola virus outbreak.

There hasn't been a potentially global threat to survival as serious as this one since the Spanish Flu pandemic that ran from January 1918 to December 1920, and is estimated to have killed up to 100 million people worldwide. That amounted to a death toll claiming up to 5% of the world's population.

Of the Spanish Flu, it has been said that it was "the greatest medical holocaust in history. It may have killed more people than the Black Death. It killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years, and more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century."

Some might say that comparing the current Ebola outbreak to the Spanish Flu pandemic is not a fair comparison. So far, only 4,000 ebola patients have died, so the numbers aren't even close. But what, in my estimation, makes it fair to compare these two diseases is the fact that:
  • They are both virus-based, so antibiotics won't work
  • They both originated in primitive locations (the Spanish Flu in rural China, ebola in rural West Africa)
  • They both spread human-to-human, crossing national borders easily via modern transportation
  • They both exhibit extremely high mortality rates — Spanish Flu killed up to 20% of those who were infected — Ebola kills up to 70%. 
  • Both caught the medical community unprepared to properly diagnose or treat the illness.
  • Both begin with flu-like symptoms that are not extremely alarming, but then escalate rapidly into death-dealing complications.
  • Both diseases escalate rapidly, spreading exponentially as carriers transmit the virus to other people. With the Spanish Flu, it was detected by a doctor at Fort Riley Kansas treating a soldier on October 4th. Within a week, over 100 soldiers were sick. Days later, 522 were sick. With the latest Ebola outbreak, it began with a 2-year-old child in December 2013 who is suspected of contracting the virus through contact with an animal. In the 10 months since that time, the disease has spread across West Africa, to Europe, and to the United States. Although there have been only 4,000+ deaths so far, the World Health Organization predicts that within the next two months, there may be as many as 10,000 new Ebola cases PER WEEK. 
The Centers For Disease Control has gone to great lengths to downplay the risks to the public, but here is the official information from the CDC website.
No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) is available for Ebola.
  • Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
  • Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
  • Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
  • Treating other infections if they occur
Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. It isn't known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems.

Already, there are active cases of Ebola being spread to health care workers who were wearing full protective clothing while treating patients. Nevertheless, the CDC insists that Ebola is difficult to catch and can only be contracted through direct contact with bodily fluids. That does not seem to be the case, and I expect that we will see the CDC release more honest information in days to come.

For now, we know that there is no treatment for Ebola. We know that if you become sick with Ebola, you will likely die. There are indication that, contrary to official propaganda, it is easily transmitted from person to person.

All of those realities give me reason enough to say that the Ebola outbreak has to potential to rival the Spanish Flu as a global pandemic.

Survival advice:
  • Avoid personal contact with anyone who exhibits flu-like symptoms; fever, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • When out in public, be careful what you touch. Disease can be left behind by others, and picked up by you. Use hand wipes or wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth (the easiest entry points for Ebola). 
  • If you have symptoms, call the hospital at once. Let them come and get you — don't go wandering around in public, because you may transmit the disease to others.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Life In A Disaster Zone

Forest fireI recently received a letter that was written by a smoke jumper who is describing conditions of life in an area of Washington State where a disastrous wildfire has turned life upside-down. There are vital lessons to be learned from this information, and I urge everyone to take stock of where you stand in your preparation to survive a disaster. Here's the letter:

Hello All,

We have had many inquires as to how things are going here in the Methow Valley of Washington State in reference to the fires, so I am writing a quick letter to all.

For the last couple of weeks it has been very hot. About 100 degrees every day. Nearly two weeks ago we had an intense lighting storm and multiple fires were started, mostly on public lands. A few days later, VERY strong winds arrived and ultimately all the fires became three large ones, and eventually one large one. The largest in the history of the State of Washington. The fires burned about 200 homes, many outbuildings, vehicles, cattle, horses, etc., and destroyed the electrical distribution system. The fire burned down the valley for a distance of nearly 70 miles, all the way into the Columbia River Valley east of us. We found ourselves without power, telephones, cell phones, or internet service. All the stores and gas stations were closed except for Hanks in Twisp, about 13 miles down the road. It is a large store and the owner had installed back up power years ago.

Needless to say, many people today depend on credit cards and debit cards. Most people do not keep any cash at home. The results were that people could not carry on any transactions.... CASH WAS KING! ....Cars were lined up more than 3 city blocks in Twisp that had the only working gas station. Cash and no out-of-town checks!

It took on the average several hours to get fuel for cars and generators. Gas cans were in high demand! People were trying to borrow cash from those that had it. The local bank was swamped with demands for cash loans and they were working without power. Frustration was everywhere! Not even potable water to drink. People started stealing gas, generators and food.

Several friends lost their homes and I ended up with four additional people living here for the last week. Most only had the clothes they had on their bodies. No identification, drivers licenses, nothing! It is literally a scene from a war zone!

We were very lucky because our portion of the valley is west of where the fires started and the upper of the valley did not burn. Wolf Creek, adjacent to our property, provided water for everything and we had plenty of stored potable water. We also make it a point to have stored fuels, food and cash put away. After a couple of days I pulled the electrical meter from the service and wired our generator into the main panel. We now had well water and things got a lot easier.

Yesterday afternoon, after 8 days, the power was restored with help from throughout the Northwest and the internet was up a couple of hours later. People returned to other places and we found ourselves very tired, but thankful we could offer the support to those less fortunate.

Lessons learned. Be prepared! One never knows what the future will bring. Check your insurance; many had none! We are purchasing a larger generator to keep the house and everything running. By this experience we learned where our weaknesses are and what to do to make life easier for the future if need be.

We are very thank full our blessings, considering many families will have months, maybe years, for their lives to return to normal.