The Survivalist — Coming Soon!

March 27th, 2013

My new book, The Survivalist (Frontier Justice) is due out on April 13th. The novel is chalked full of adventure as well as fourteen full-page illustrations.

Pre-order now!

Book Description:The Superpox-99 virus has wiped out nearly the entire human race. Governments have collapsed. Cities have become graveyards filled with unspeakable horror. People have resorted to scavenging from the dead, or taking from the living. The entire industrialized world has become a wasteland of abandoned cars, decaying bodies, and feral animals.

To stay alive, U.S. Deputy Marshal Mason Raines must forage for food, water, and gasoline while outgunning those who seek to take advantage of the apocalyptic anarchy. Together with his giant Irish wolfhound, Bowie, he aligns with survivors of the town of Boone in a life and death struggle against a gang of violent criminals. With each deadly encounter, Mason is forced to accept his place as one of the nation’s few remaining lawmen. In a world now populated by escaped convicts, paranoid mutants, and government hit squads, his only hope to save the townspeople is to enforce his own brand of frontier justice.

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Interview by Dave Gahary on EMP and Solar Storms

November 14th, 2012

Listen to the interview conducted by Dave Gahary on the topics of EMP attacks and Solar Storms. Broadcast by the American Free Press (americanfreepress.net)

Interview

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Four Editions of Handbook

August 21st, 2011

There is quite a bit of confusion about the different editions of the “Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family.” I’ll try to clarify things with this post.

Here are the four editions:

“Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness” ISBN: 1453678875, Published on July 9, 2010 by CreateSpace. This is the original release of the book.

“Disaster Preparedness Handbook: A Guide for Families,” ISBN: 1616083875, Published on September 1, 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing. This is a color re-release of the original book with minor changes and an added section on food caches.

“Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness, 2nd Edition,” ISBN: 1463531109, Published on June 30, 2011 by CreateSpace. This edition contains hundreds of changes, corrections, and additions. New sections were added to address the financial crisis, nuclear concerns, personal protection (firearms, concealed carry, etc.), and long-term food storage options. It also includes a new chapter focused on specific preparations for the five deadliest types of natural disasters: earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis.

“Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness, 3rd Edition,” ISBN: 1475136536, Published on May 2, 2012 by CreateSpace. This is the newest release of the book. It contains numerous new topics, including Ham radios, buring dead bodies, fire starting, knot-tying, firearm self defense, bartering, and an introductory chapter on electromagnetic pulse attacks and solar storms.

All four books are currently available on Amazon. Of course, I’m very proud of all the editions. If you have any additional questions regarding the books, please send me an email or use the Contact Me button.

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Listen to Interview on Disaster Preparedness

July 8th, 2011

Listen to an interview conducted by Gary Baumgarten on the PalTalk Radio Network. Gary has seen his fair share of disasters and asks me some very relevant questions.

Interview

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Understanding Radiation Levels

March 18th, 2011

Radiation Effects

Table Conversion Note: To convert between Sieverts (discussed in the news) and Rems (shown in the table), divide the number of Rems by 100. So 100 Rems = 1 Sievert.

At the beginning of the “Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family,” I instruct everyone to raise their arms above their heads and run around shouting, “The sky is falling!” This might be a good time to do that once again. The point is to get it out of your system so that you can think rationally. The sky is NOT falling. Relax, take a breath, and assess the danger around you.

The situation in Fukushiba, Japan is certainly serious. I have friends who live in Sendai and Tokyo, and everyone there has cause to worry. They are all in harm’s way with their children’s lives at stake. However, we in the US are not likely to feel any physical effects from the events unfolding there. Sure, there will be financial impacts and personal tragedies for those with families in Japan. But the distance between our countries is considered too great to deliver dangerous levels of radiation from this type of event.

At the top of this post, I’ve copied a table from the handbook regarding the immediate and latent effects from radiation. It all looks quite frightening until we put the numbers in context (see below).

Putting the numbers in context: On average, Americans are exposed to about 300-400 milliRems (3,000-4,000 microSieverts) per year. The maximum recommended dose is 5 Rems (50,000 microSieverts) per year. It takes about 50 Rems (500,000 microSieverts) of radiation to cause noticeable symptoms (headache, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, etc).

I have no idea what levels the radiation may reach on the West Coast, but just for argument’s sake, let’s assume it is 100 microSieverts per hour. That would require at least 500,000 / 100 = 5,000 hours of constant exposure to introduce noticeable side effects. If the levels are below 100 microSieverts, then the time required is even longer. Likewise, if the levels go higher, the time required becomes shorter. Keep these numbers in mind as you calculate your family’s exposure. Your exposure levels can also be reduced by staying indoors and avoiding produce or milk that may become contaminated.

I hope that this helps to make sense of exposure levels being reported.

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Radioactive Contamination and Potassium Iodide

March 12th, 2011

IOSAT - Potassium Iodide

Witnessing the serious events in Fukushima, Japan, several people have written with questions about protecting themselves from a nuclear facility accident.

The basics of protecting from radioactive contamination are:

1. Put distance between you and the source of contamination. Most radioactive contamination occurs within miles or tens of miles of the source.
2. If evacuation is not possible, create a safe room to limit exposure to radioactive particulates – details of creating a safe room are the Handbook.
3. Equip yourself with a portable dosimeter (such as the RADStickers offered here).
4. Take potassium iodide (KI) if the threat appears imminent. Note that KI is particularly important for children.
5. After the event has passed, be cautious about consuming foods that may have been contaminated. (e.g., At Chernobyl, children became sick when they consumed milk from cows that had eaten contaminated grass and grains).

In particular, people often wonder about the use of potassium iodide (KI) as a safeguard against radioactive poisoning.

Potassium iodide (KI) is a salt of stable iodine used by your body to produce thyroid hormones. In the event of a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air, food, or water. If you ingest or inhale this iodine, it will be quickly absorbed by your thyroid gland. This can injure your thyroid, leading to cancer and death. If you take potassium iodide in advance, it essentially fills your thyroid, preventing the absorption of radioactive iodine and potentially saving your life. The effectiveness of potassium iodide depends upon three things: (1) how much time has passed between the contamination of radioactive iodine and the taking of KI, (2) how fast the KI is absorbed into your blood, and (3) the total amount of radioactive iodine to which you are exposed.

It is also important to understand what KI cannot do. Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid against ingested or inhaled radioactive iodine. It will not protect against other radioactive materials such as those released by a “dirty bomb”; neither will it protect any part of the body except the thyroid. It will also not protect against the effects of radiation exposure.

The thyroid glands of unborn fetuses, infants, and young children are particularly susceptible to radioactive iodine, making KI pre-treatment critical. Potassium iodide will protect the thyroid for 24 hours, so depending on the duration of the threat, repeat dosing may be required. Potassium iodide comes in both tablet (65 mg and 130 mg) and liquid (65 mg per mL) forms. These concentrations align well with the FDA’s recommended dosages.

Birth to 1 month – 16 mg
1 month to 3 yrs – 32 mg
3 yrs to 18 yrs – 65 mg
18+ or >150 lbs – 130 mg

Potassium iodide is generally considered very safe but can be harmful to people with certain medical conditions, so consult your doctor before taking KI. A prescription is not required to purchase KI; your pharmacist can dispense it directly to you. It is also widely available on the internet.

The product iOSAT is recommended since it is the only full-strength, FDA-approved KI tablet for radiation blocking legally sold in the United States. It is best to purchase iOSAT directly from the manufacturer at www.anbex.com to guarantee optimal freshness. The only FDA-approved KI liquid is ThyroShield, and is especially useful for administering to young children (see www.thyroshield.com). Potassium iodide is inexpensive and has a shelf life of at least five to seven years, making it a low-cost, yet potentially life-saving preparation.

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Food Storage – How Much?

September 25th, 2010

The question of how much food to store ties to the more fundamental question: What you are preparing for? The answer ultimately determines the quantity of supplies of every type that you will need. Short-term food interruptions, such as a snowstorm that prevent you from getting to the store, are unlikely to require more than a week’s supply. Whereas a terrorist attack on the food supply system might cause shortages lasting weeks or even months—albeit likely limited only to certain food types. Making preparations requires you to draw the line somewhere.

Some preppers gravitate towards extreme, “end of the world” food storage plans but fail to consider the likelihood of such events or the costs associated with that kind of preparation. When it comes to food storage, a reasonable approach is to keep a 30-day supply. Perhaps you are shaking your head in disbelief. You’re recalling the advice of numerous experts who suggest having an entire year’s supply of food stockpiled. That level of food storage is impractical, wasteful, and almost always unnecessary.

Let’s start with impractical. Consider that the average American consumes about 2,000 pounds of food per year. Now imagine a family of four storing four tons of food in a location that is both temperature and humidity controlled. Not only storing it, but rotating it, and keeping it from spoiling or being ruined by pests. A challenge indeed!

Storing such a large quantity of food would likely be very wasteful as well. You would need to master techniques to keep food from becoming contaminated— most likely using nitrogen-purged air-tight containers. Even when you did become skilled at food storage, you would still experience loss due to spoilage, rodents, and insects. This means that you would be required to regularly inspect a huge stockpile of food, discarding and replacing things that were no longer consumable. This would be a costly and time consuming process.

Finally, ask yourself which disasters would require you to have such a large food cache. Of all the disasters you could come up with, only a few truly catastrophic scenarios would require you to have more than a month’s food supply (e.g., asteroid strike, world-wide drought, global war—a truly world changing event). The bottom line is that the sacrifices incurred from storing large quantities of food would very likely be unnecessary.

Consider the impact of every family in America following this recommendation to keep a full month’s supply of food. No one would ever have to race to the store when weather threatens. Catastrophic disasters would still cause worry, but the 30-day supply would give families time: time for the nation’s emergency management services to provide relief, time for people to rally with friends and family to pool resources, and time to evacuate to areas where shortages were not as severe.

As with every aspect of preparedness, however, your food storage plan is just that—yours! If you decide that a month’s supply isn’t enough to protect your family, then by all means store more.

One very important exception to my 30-day rule is in the case of storing food for a DP network. Many networks strive to keep a sizable emergency food bank to help those who are underprepared. Emergency rations set aside by a network might not be eaten on a routine schedule, and would therefore require longer shelf life. In these cases, longer term storage options, such as freeze-dried, dehydrated, or Meals-Ready-to-Eat should be considered.

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Chemical Water Treatment Methods

September 17th, 2010

The EPA estimates that 90% of the world’s fresh water is contaminated and unsuitable for drinking. The days of kneeling down on a hike and sipping from the stream are long gone. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because water looks clear or tastes good that it is free of contaminants. That includes frozen water, which can house hepatitis A, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium for months.

There are many options for purifying the water, but this post will compare commercial products that rely on halogen chemical treatments.

Polar Pure – contains iodine crystals, has an almost indefinite shelf life if kept tightly sealed, and very inexpensive per dose cost, requires measuring the dosage using the cap (which can be imprecise).

Potable Aqua – contains iodine tablets, shelf life of up to four years if properly stored – if they’ve turned a light green don’t use, moderately expensive per dose cost, easy to administer doses (two tablets per quart of water).

Micropur MP1 – contains chlorine dioxide tablets, has a shelf life of at least four years, moderately expensive per dose cost, and comes in easy to administer doses (one tablet per quart of water).

Simple household bleach – 2 drops per quart of water (assuming a a bleach solution of 5-6% hypochlorite), may wish to double the dose for cloudy water, shelf life of bleach is only about 6 months, must use a dropper to administer dose, very inexpensive per dose cost.

Tincture of iodine – 5 drops per quart (assuming a 2% iodine solution), may wish to double the dose for cloudy water, almost indefinite shelf life if properly stored, must use a dropper to administer dose, modest per dose cost.

All of the methods are effective at killing bacteria, somewhat effective against viruses, and of limited value against protozoa cysts. Cryptosporidium in particular is resistant to halogen treatments.

Most treatments only require 30 minutes. However, very cold water (i.e., less than 40 degrees F) should be allowed to sit for 2 or more hours, or be treated with a double dose.

As far as taste, all will introduce some chemical taste into the water. In a very unscientific taste test of chemical treatment methods, my own family concluded that iodine-treated water was by far the worst smelling and tasting, bleach-treated was second, and water treated with Micropur MP1 ready-to-use tablets was the least objectionable.

Finally, you can add Kool-aid to treated water to help the taste. Not only will it help to mask the chemical taste, but the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) converts the chlorine or iodine to tasteless chloride and iodide.

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Hurricanes – Understand the Dangers

September 5th, 2010

Recognize that there are five distinct dangers associated with hurricanes:

1. Storm surge: the rising surge of can lead to severe coastal flooding

2. Marine hazards: dangers to those at sea

3. Tornadoes: more than 50% of hurricanes spawn tornadoes, usually from the right-front quadrant

4. High winds: winds can range from 74 to over 155 mph, turning anything loose into deadly projectiles

5. Inland flooding: associated storms can flood areas hundreds of miles from the coast, accounts for 60% of hurricane-related deaths

Effective preparation requires considering how each of the hazards might affect your family, and then take steps to mitigate their impact.

Preparations might include:

- double check your supplies (food, water, flashlights, weather radio, batteries, etc.)

- consolidate some basic supplies to a safe room in your home

- perform any needed weatherproofing or repairs to home

- secure wind-prone objets (garbage cans, swings sets, toys, etc.)

- stow watercraft

- check out your generator (or battery + inverter)

- have basic repair and clean up materials handy (plastic sheeting, nails, duct tape, hammer, shovel, chainsaw, etc.)

- check first aid kit and supplies

- charge all batteries

- get a little extra cash

- put important documents in a plastic bag, or on a flash drive (checklist of important papers is in the Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family)

- have a plan for your pets

- fill automobile fuel tanks, and any spare gas cans

- monitor broadcasts and be ready to evacuate

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Pets and Disasters, Part 2 (Before a Disaster Strikes)

August 30th, 2010

Your pets have the best chance of surviving if you make preparations before a disaster strikes. Consider the actions below to help ensure that your pets are properly cared for during a crisis:

- Understand your local risks. Every region faces different hazards, ranging from flooding, to extreme weather events, to wildfires. Consider how the most likely threats will affect your pets and set up safeguards to protect them.

- Take clear photos of each pet. If your animal ever becomes lost, you can use the photos to create posters or show them to shelter workers.

- Make certain that your pets have up-to-date identification tags. If you know where you will be evacuating to, put that location and a phone number on the back of your pet’s tag or on the collar using duct tape. Microchips placed under the skin can also greatly assist veterinarians or shelter workers when trying to reunite lost pets with owners.

- Locate a place to board your pet. This could be a professional boarder, veterinarian, or friend not affected by the disaster. For health and safety reasons, most emergency shelters will not accept pets. The one exception to this is service animals. By law, service animals are allowed into emergency shelters if the owner has proof of a medical need and the pet’s current vaccinations. Some hotels and motels will also allow pets, but you should confirm this ahead of time. Your local animal shelter may also be able provide information regarding available shelter and boarding locations.

- If you decide to evacuate your pets with you, take adequate pet food, water, medications, veterinary records, vaccination certificates, litter, clean up material, muzzles, tie out materials, and other supplies that might not be available during transit. Also, take pet carriers, leashes, and harnesses as appropriate. Pet carriers should be large enough to have a small water bowl and a litter pan (for cats), and must have your contact information on them.

- Supplement your first aid kit with any additional specialty supplies needed for your pets. See FEMA’s Information for Pet Owners for a complete listing of first aid supplies for various pet types and sizes.

- Don’t leave your pets unattended in your vehicle in hot weather. Temperatures can become far hotter in the car than outside and can quickly kill your animals.

- If you have livestock or other large animals, work with local and state authorities to evacuate them. During some emergencies, state authorities may not allow large animal trailers on the roadways.

- Identify a trusted neighbor or friend who will serve as the designated caregiver for your animals in case the emergency happens while you are away from home. Give him or her a spare key and simple instructions on how to care for your pets.

- Understand that it may be impossible to take any animal (except service animals) on a plane, bus, or train. Plan accordingly.

- Put pet alert decals in conspicuous places on your home (usually near the front door). If a fire breaks out while you are away, the stickers will inform firefighters of how many, and what type, pets you have in the home. It will also make it clear that you wish for them to make every effort to rescue your pets.

If you absolutely have no choice but to leave your pets behind, there are a few precautions you can take to improve their chances for survival:

1. Confine your pets to a safe area inside the home. Do not leave them chained or tied up. Do not set them loose.
2. Leave plenty of food and water.
3. Remove the toilet tank lids, raise the seats, and brace the bathroom doors so they can drink from the toilets as needed.
4. Leave a notice on your front door that details what types of pets are inside, their names, where they are located, and when you left them. Also, provide your contact information and that of your veterinarian.
5. Return to your pets as promptly as possible. If you will be delayed, have someone else check on them.

Remember, leaving a pet behind should always be considered a last resort.

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Pets and Disasters, Part 1

August 27th, 2010

This is the first part of a four part posting on Pets and Disasters. To avoid one huge post, I’ve divided it into four topics (each posted separately on subsequent days):

Part 1: Basic info, food and water
Part 2: Preparing before a disaster
Part 3: Actions to take during a disaster
Part 4: Follow up actions after a disaster

Part 1, Basic Info:
Americans have over 360 million pets, and that does not include exotic or wild animals. The simple truth is that people all over the world love their pets. A dog, cat, bird, horse, or even a turtle can feel like part of the family. Unfortunately, some disasters leave pet owners with very difficult decisions to make if prior planning was not done.

Begin by stocking the same size food supply for your pets that you do for your family. I recommend that you keep a minimum of a 30-day supply. This sized stockpile is generally enough to weather almost any disaster. For dogs and cats, stocking this amount of food isn’t usually difficult – keep a spare bag of dry food in the cupboard, or rotate the canned food to keep it fresh. Of course, if you run out of pet food, it may be possible (depending on the type of animal) to improvise by feeding your pets “scraps” from your meals. It might not be the healthiest diet, but it beats starving. Fortunately, most animals quickly adapt to scavenger mode when the need arises.

Also, don’t forget to account for your pets’ water needs. If you have a couple of cats, they probably won’t have much impact on your water consumption. However, if you have two German Shepherds, three cats, and a donkey, you should definitely determine their water usage and budget accordingly! Remember, it is recommended to store 2 gallons of potable water per person per day (one gallon for drinking, one gallon for hygiene), with a minimum of a 14-day supply – that’s 28 gallons of potable water for each person. Non-potable water needs depend greatly on how you will handle sanitation, but a reasonable budget is 5 gallons per person per day – enough to flush the toilet once a day for each person. Non-potable water can come from natural sources (rivers, lakes), swimming pools, rain barrels, etc.

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God and Preparedness

August 25th, 2010

Ten years ago, the words “church” and “disaster preparedness” were usually only in the same sentence when discussing the Mormons. Today, however, this is no longer true. There is a growing recognition among all types of ministries that churches have an obligation not only to provide safe haven for those in need, but also to guide their followers in becoming more self-sufficient and prepared. The argument for this is simple and straightforward. God, whether you believe him to be a Christian, Muslim, Bahai, or Hindu deity, does not want his people suffering.

An excellent example of the merging of faith and preparedness is the Bridges of Love Ministry’s Faith Emergency Preparedness Initiative. Widespread recognition of the importance of disaster preparedness as a part of our religious duties may well change the landscape of family preparedness across the entire world. We’ve all heard the expression, “God helps those who help themselves.” And though not explicitly found in any religious text, it does ring profoundly true in most people’s hearts and minds.

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Preparedness is a Responsibility

August 23rd, 2010

As any prepper will tell you, preparedness is not a single action that you take; it is a lifestyle. And no two people will necessarily agree on what that lifestyle consists of. For some, it means preparing for the end of days – serious preparations for serious times! Underground bunkers, MREs, guns and ammo. For others, it simply means ensuring there appropriate safety nets are in place, such as a modest food stockpile, a method of purifying water, and adequate homeowner’s insurance. Who knows for sure which end of the spectrum has it more right.

My personal view is that disaster preparedness should never distract you from meeting life’s other needs and responsibilities. Your kids will still need to go to college; your family will continue to benefit from the yearly getaway vacation; and you will undoubtedly have a better chance of advancing in your job if you remain vigilant at keeping your boss happy. People who neglect important areas of their life in order to focus on uncertain doom are losing sight of what’s important—not to mention failing to see life’s daily joys. With that said, it is still quite possible to live a full, rewarding life while preparing for hard times. Not only is it possible, but as the head of a household, I would argue that achieving this kind of balance is your responsibility.

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