Tuesday, September 19, 2017

7 Things I learned from Hurricane Erma

Dear Fernando,

I live in a condo on the Pinellas County peninsula, west from Tampa across the bay. I have endured three tropical storms and an earth quake since moving here 11 years ago. This was the first storm I had been preparing for since reading your blog. There is no replacement for actual storm conditions to test preparedness so here is what I learned.

1. Do NOT believe the Weather Channel

    They ALWAYS exaggerate their predictions to sow fear and terror. Knowing that once the hurricane hit dry land its force would diminish, so I rode the storm out at my condo unit with no fear and knowing I was prepared. So by the time it hit Tampa it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. Still fierce and dangerous but no 100 mph winds and no storm surge to flood us. Note; I live 50 ft. above sea level and am not in a flood zone.

Which leads me to the following…

2. Do NOT buy the Crane CC Solar Observer for your emergency radio

    They must have a great copy writer because they sound like the be all end all of portable emergency weather radios. I bought this used for the NOAA Weather broadcasts and solar power and crank power extras and found it almost totally useless! 7 separate channels to find a local broadcast of current NOAA weather info and all I could get was an indiscernible murmur! The AM/FM radio was fair, the solar cells useless in cloud cover and I used the flash light mostly to conserve my iPhone battery as its light was far brighter. I need to do further research on what would be useful in this situation when I’m toally out of power.
    As a side note, I got ALL my storm and weather info from a web site; VentuSky.com. I saw this on a friends cell phone and dialed it in immediately before the storm. It gave me a visual and number read-out by location of wind speed, storm track, temp, waves and just about anything else climate wise. This site really refutes Weather Channel in up-to-the-minute weather data and I use it almost daily. I saw and confirmed my understanding that the storm would die down as it got onto land and decided to stay put and not evacuate.

3. ALWAYS leave some windows open, even a crack, during a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

    This I learned from being an Insurance Adjuster in the aftermath of Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii in 1992. Many homes had roofs totally blown off into the neighboring yards due to keeping all the doors and windows shut. The storm is a low pressure weather phenomena and locking up a building tight creates a high pressure in the dwelling. The roof can’t hold the pressure and it pops off. I am on the bottom floor so I told my upstairs neighbors to kept their kitchen door window open a bit and one of the back bedrooms open a bit. Our building had no problems, but one of the other buildings had the roof blown off and onto the cars parked in front.

4. Just because you had power during the worst of the storm, don’t expect it to be on after
    I had power all through the storm and up until late the next morning Monday the 11th. I am assuming the power company had all the power turned off then to check all the lines before resuming power. Then we got power back in 24 hours but all the other units and surrounding homes and business didn’t get power back until Friday the 15th. I was told that since our building was on a main road that power came on to all the street lights, homes and business first before other areas.
    And it follows that …

5. … with power down, don’t drive at night unless you have to.

    With power down there were no street lights nor traffic signals. In other countries that is standard every-day life but here in the US when you can’t see anything due to pitch black accidents can occur. I had to slow down at intersections as many people ‘assumed’ it was natural to just go through, like they had a green light. The next morning I saw broken glass and plastic at almost every intersection, by then the police had put up temporary stop signs and had traffic officers directing traffic at main intersections.

6. Be smart where you park your car

    Tropical Storms can have 40-50 mph winds with gusts up to 80 mph. That can blow down trees, fences, telephone poles, street lights and communication antenna. I had my car in the condo parking and I somehow lost a head lamp cover! The lamp works fine but is now exposed to the elements. Other condo dwellers are snow birds that come for the Fall-Winter-Spring and leave for summer. They usually have cars wrapped in some canvas and wheels on boards (the summer heat can melt the asphalt and melt the tires and ruin the wheel). Most had the covers were blown off and one under a tree had branches knocking dents in them. The city parking structures were open during the storm and next time that happens is where I’ll keep my vehicle.

7. ALWAYS check your supplies and equipment well before the storm hits

    This goes to most of the above but here is what I did wrong and right.
    As my cell phone battery ran down I tried to charge it with a cigarette lighter charger. IT DIDN’T WORK! It had worked in other cars but Apple can be finicky when it comes to non-standard adaptors.
    My food and water were adequate for a storm like this but I will check if there is anything past its expiration date. I had quart containers of frozen distilled water in my fridge freezer and that kept my perishables quite fresh when the power went off. I would like the 3 months standard you have but with the small space I have getting 90 gallons of water stored will be a challenge.
    I found that the stores and gas stations closed up within 3-6 hours once the state authorities said to evacuate. So once the storm is headed your way you should have already stocked up if you are going to. And we had plenty of warning but I noticed the shelves of water and canned goods went fast a day before the store closed. I shrugged and got what dry food others missed as far as that goes.
    I found I also needed more flash lights. I used to have two small Cree flashes and because they were so small I tended to loose them unless I kept them in my EDC. My near useless radio had at least had some utility.
    Medical supplies, I had enough to get me through but I have a prescription to self catheter 3-4 times a day and if I don’t I can’t control my bladder. I have been slowly increasing my supply every month so that I have 4 weeks in back stock but my target now is   now 3 months. As for anti-bacterial I have one gallon of distilled vinegar and one quart of raw apple cider vinegar. That will kill most pathogens and for the rest I have lots of soap and that with hard scrubbing will handle anything else. I also found small tubes of antibiotic ointment that I carry around in my EDC that has been quite useful.
    The Tampa Bay area is in the sub-topics and one must be aware of that at all times. On top of my regular supplements and cell salts for heat exhaustion I always have some sort of Vitamin C with me for urinary infections . What with cathetering I find that no matter how careful I am cleaning myself before hand, I can sometimes get those urinary infection symptoms and I have found ANY vitamin C taken will clear up symptoms within 30 minutes.

I’m sure some other things will pop up as I get on with my life but I made out Ok and will be better prepared for whatever comes next.
 
Best,
Mark

Thursday, September 14, 2017

EDC: Shoelace caught in an escalator this morning



This morning, right in front of my wife and I, a teen had his loose shoelace caught by the escalator we were on. His mother was next to him and reacted like a champ. Instead of panicking and pulling on the shoe she went immediately for the red button to stop the escalator.
She then pulled on her son’s leg trying to break it free. I gave it a quick pull myself but wasted no more time and just pulled out my Leatherman Charge and cut it. Mom was grateful as if I had saved the kid’s life. She was the one that did the most important part which was stopping the escalator.
But still folks, yet again an example of how important it is to have a cutting tool with you at all times. I’ll never forget a friend of mine from school who got the skin of his leg caught by some heavy machinery… he was lucky to not lose the leg, but the skin was peeled like a banana. The scar was terrible.
This is just a big reminder: carry a knife, better yet, carry this multitool, the Leatherman Charge Tti. I shamelessly promote it because I’ve carried mine for years (nearly two decades now!) and it’s the last tool I’d part with. Almost as good for much less, consider the Leatherman Wave as well.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

$100,000 in "preps"… and having to evacuate and leave it all behind.



I was reading about this in a forum. The guy lives in South Carolina, spent a lot of his money over the years prepping his home yet when evacuating because of Irma all he actually ended up putting to use was the gas (and vehicle). He mentioned that he felt he failed at prepping because he didn’t build his house of reinforced concrete.

I don’t know all the details of this particular case, or even if it’s true at all, but I do understand what it means to put all your eggs in one basket and see it disappear right in front of you. I’ve never suffering such a thing myself, but I get emails often enough, mostly from people that lost everything due to fire or floods. Sometimes it personal financial or family disasters (divorce).
My point is, yes, your home is important. It’s your shelter, it’s your castle. It may even be what puts food on the table, at times literally speaking. And this is indeed a great asset. To produce at least some of your food, to have a workshop for projects, to run a business. I get it.
I also get it that SHTF and worst case scenarios are precisely about what isn’t convenient and what’s uncomfortable to even think of. Loosing it all to a flood, yup, that’s not the kind of thing anyone looks forward too. Yet thousands have gone through just that these last few days. For others it was fires. For someone else, in some other parts of the world, it was war or social unrest.

You need to plan for what’s likely, but you also need to think about those worst case scenarios. A worst case scenario isn’t bugging in in your retreat just in time, full of supplies, in some idyllic location along with your best buds (who also happen to be Navy SEALS, all of them) and all of them married to hot models that are also brain surgeons and homesteaders (wait, isn’t the divorce rate among military kinda high?) and everyone happens to get along just perfect without personal interests getting in the way of the finely tuned harmony of the survival retreat. Oh, you also beat the UN which happened to invade your county for some reason.
Seriously. SHTF is about when things DON’T go as planned. When that you’d rather not even think of ends up happening. Losing your farm sucks? Many have gone through just that these last few days alone.

This needs to be planned for. As I say in the cover of my second book “Bugging Out and Relocating”. You need to know “what to do when staying is not an option”.
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Handgun/Carbine Combo: 6 pistol caliber combo advantages


Handgun rifle combos in the same caliber aren’t anything new. They’ve been around for many years. Back in the wild west cowboys and frontiersmen saw the logistic advantage of having both their guns in the same caliber. Lets go through some of the advantages of this set up.

The advantages are valid for the Winchester 94 and Manurhin MR73 pictured above, but are also valid for other combos such as Glock 9mm and Keltec sub2000, Beretta Storm carbine and handgun, or other pistol caliber subguns such as H&KMP5. Keltec Sub2000 can use the same magazines as your Glock pistol, making it particularly handy.


1)Obvious enough, logistics. You buy and stock up on just one caliber. Whatever ammo you have with you can be used on either gun, something you wouldn’t be able to do if you had different ammo for each one. If you end up using either gun more than the other, either way your grand total supply of ammo can be run through both indistinctively.

2) Weight. Pistol caliber ammo is usually smaller and more compact than rifle ammo.
Pistol caliber firearms themselves are usually more lightweight and compact than their rifle caliber counterparts.

3)Cost of ammo. Pistol ammo is usually affordable and easy to come by. Granted some surplus rifle ammo can be dirt cheap, but in general handgun ammo is more affordable, especially 9mm.

4)Low recoil. Pistol caliber carbines and sub guns have little recoil. They are easier to handle for small framed people, women or people particularly sensitive to recoil.

5)Accuracy and Power. Some shooters believe that a pistol caliber long arm is just a heavy, bulky handgun. Not so. A long arm with a stock has a third point of contact with the body in the stock (4th is counting cheek weld) this makes accurate long range shots easier and faster.
Some people don’t realize the power advantage in having more barrel to burn the ammunition’s powder. In 9mm the advantage can be an extra 150 to 200 fps. This is considerable more speed and power. In bigger, more powerful calibers the advantage ca be even greater.

6)Supressing. Pistol caliber carbines and sub guns are easily suppressed. They usually have shorter barrels that lend themselves nicely to sound suppressors. A subsonic variation can often be found for most pistol calibers.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Got gas? Shortages in Florida

With Hurricane Irma just around the corner( to hit Florida as early as Sunday morning), Gas is becoming harder to come by as prices go up. Meanwhile Florida’s Governor is warning. “We can’t save you”.


Plywood and bottled water are also in short supply and highly sought after.

FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”