Thursday, April 18, 2019

Prepping for People Who Don't Prep

I am assuming YOU are prepared, otherwise why would you be reading this blog, but while many of us are prepared for nearly anything that could happen, it's a good bet that we are surrounded by people who don't prepare for anything.  Are your parents prepared for disaster?  Your adult kids?  Your neighbors?  Your co-workers?  And what are your responsibilities to these people when (not if) TSHTF?

A common topic in prepper circles is how much should a well-prepared person provide to those who either can't or won't prepare for a disaster after said disaster happens.  Anecdotally, in many disasters, people tend to pull together to help each other out, yet there are also stories of long-term disaster areas where "disaster fatigue" sets in and people tend to look out more for number one rather than give away their hard-earned preps.

I've talked to many people, all adults, all seemingly intelligent and responsible people, who kinda sorta think they should prepare for disaster but "never get around to it".  Other people brush off the need to be prepared because they have never had to live through a disaster before and "there will always be emergency services to help out".

I guess it's "to each his own" and for the majority of people who aren't prepared, I won't be going out of my way to help them.  Our parents are long dead so that is a non-issue for us.  Our kids and grandkids are at varying degrees of preparedness but still ask for help on occasion which we are are generally happy to assist with.  Our siblings (of which there are many) can generally take care of themselves and/or have kids who help them out when needed.  I have no idea how well the neighbors are prepared.  We have many friends who, for the most part, are elderly and while financially set, they probably aren't as well prepared physically and materially for a major disaster.

There is no "right" answer in this situation as each person needs to decide how much and in what capacity they will help the unprepared.  Along with this decision is possibly adding to your own preps to sustain those you plan to help out and/or making additional plans for those that you know will be in need if a major disaster happens.  Our general consensus is that family and close friends are always welcome to come to our place if they need to evacuate a disaster area.  We generally give gifts of money (never loans, that's just asking for problems) to immediate family who are in need of assistance.  Whether we will help the neighbors and how this will be done has never actually come up; we will happily provide physical assistance if needed (providing information, helping to organize the neighborhood recovery efforts) but our food stockpile and material goods will probably be off limits depending on circumstances.

This is a good question to consider as part of your overall preparedness plan.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tax Day

Today is Tax Day in the US so if you haven't already done so, you can file your taxes for free online (with some limits), you can mail your taxes in (many post offices are open extra late for this), or you can file for an extension if you need more time to complete your taxes.  Here are five things to know abut filing your taxes.  And when you have completed the onerous task, you can reward yourself with these Tax Day freebies and deals.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Kidnapping and Other Income Generating Activities

If you travel off the beaten path, especially in war-torn or other high-poverty areas, you know that in addition to the myriad of things you need to be aware of (pick pockets, malaria, etc), you also need to be aware of the risk of kidnapping.  The recent kidnapping of a tourist in Uganda put this fact back on the front page of many newspapers, but it is actually a tradition as old as time.  Poor people + rich tourists = money making opportunity to ransom them back.  Not great for tourists, obviously, but many a civil war is funded this way.

The State Department issued a recent warning about countries where tourists are most likely to be kidnapped, but this topic should be top of mind for any traveler.  In order to avoid being kidnapped on your next vacation, consider these safety tips:

  • Simply don't travel to places where kidnapping tourists is considered a national sport.
  • Avoid certain areas of countries where kidnapping is common (ie: Manila is a fine place for tourists, several places in Mindanao aren't).
  • Stay in the tourist areas and avoid wandering off by yourself (the tourist areas are often heavily policed to keep the tourists safe and coming back to spend their money, when you leave these areas the danger increases exponentially).
  • Don't travel about by yourself.  Going around in a group is better, going around with a group of locals is even better.
  • Stay up-to-date on State Department and other warnings for the areas you will be traveling in (these can change quickly so check back often for updates).
  • Never flash your cash or valuables and don't talk about your work/lifestyle/assets/investments/etc.
  • If you must travel in dangerous areas, have kidnapping and extrication insurance.
  • If you work or travel in highly volatile areas, there are actually classes that teach you how to survive being kidnapped (yes, really).
  • Be wary of posting your travel plans or other travel information on social media (yes, kidnappers do use this information to target people).
  • If you are staying for a while in a volatile area, take extensive security precautions at your home and place of business (even building a "bolt hole" isn't too extreme in my book).
  • Avoid looking like an American as much as possible.
  • Be consistently inconsistent.  Vary your routine daily, don't frequent any one place all the time, etc.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Be able to speak a bit of the local language.
  • Leave your itinerary with a trusted person back home and update them as your plans change (at least this way people will know when and where to start looking for you if you appear to have disappeared).
  • Be polite to people but never trust people you don't know well.
  • Avoid being a drunk idiot in public (these are the easiest people to kidnap).
  • Always have a "plan B" and "plan C".  Nothing in these countries seem to go as planned so always be ready to pivot if needed (this includes creating a quick escape plan in your mind of how you would get away from the place you are at in an emergency, what weapons could you improvise, etc).
  • Keep your favorite PMC company on speed dial for emergency extraction services if you do end up kidnapped.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

10 Tips for Recovering from a Virus

Yours truly is sick as a dog.  Not sure if it is the flu or some sort of viral respiratory thing but now everyone in the house is sick.  Some tips for recovery:

  1. Sleep.  A lot.
  2. Antivirals may help.  They help more proactively, and with declining success after the illness has set in.  I chose to power through without them.
  3. Stay hydrated.  Boil ginger in water and add lemon and honey.  Drink this like it is a new food group.
  4. Eat when you are hungry but eat sparingly.  And avoid heavy, greasy food as well as dairy.
  5. Break out your stockpile of kleenex and meds (Tylenol, Thera Flu, NyQuil, etc).
  6. Stay home.  Don't go out and about infecting others.
  7. Don't overexert yourself (like trying to keep up with your workouts or trying to work 8 hours a day); you need to rest in order to recover.
  8. Treat the symptoms.  Tylenol to reduce fever and help with body aches, cough syrup to help with coughing, and according to the spouse, slathering yourself in Vicks cures everything else (I decided to power through without the Vicks cure).
  9. If necessary (it shouldn't actually be necessary if you have been prepping for a while), use DoorDash or other delivery services to bring you what you need to weather the illness (chicken soup from the local Chinese place, more Kleenex from Walmart, meds from your local pharmacy, etc).
  10. If you have severe symptoms--difficulty breathing, very high fever or fever that won't break, rash. vomiting to the point of dehydration--get thee to a hospital.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

10 Things Most Preppers Don't Need

When I read some prepper boards I find that some people have a "Rambo-esque" take on being prepared.  Instead of health and financial fitness that would benefit them in nearly every disaster situation, they focus mostly on gear, and expensive, probably unnecessary gear at that.  Here are the things that should be on the bottom of your prepper gear list:

  1. Gas mask.  Many people think they need a gas mask in order to be prepared.  Most people actually don't need a gas mask and don't realize that for many poison gas uses, you need to have the mask in hand when the release happens.  You will need a bunch of filters which expire, you will need to ensure your mask fits properly, and you will have to know that the release has happened (it usually takes a while to ascertain this unless you are in an enclosed area during a sarin release in which case you will probably be dead before you put your mask on).
  2. Night vision goggles.  If you absolutely need night vision goggles, you've probably already been issued them.  Other people buy them for hunting/SAR purposes.  Most people don't need them and they will sit on a shelf forever when the money could have been spent on more important things.
  3. A complete arsenal of firearms.  Do you want a collection of firearms that looks like this?  I certainly wouldn't turn it down if someone was handing out every gun ever made but is it necessary for survival?  Nope.  Having a few useful firearms is what every prepper needs.  With a few firearms for all of your preparedness needs, it makes them easier to store, easier to care for, easier to stockpile ammo for, easier to evacuate with, etc.
  4. Pounds and pounds of gold and other precious metals.  It's good to have some gold and precious metals, it probably isn't a great idea to have lots and lots of the stuff.  You need to store it, protect it, and if you evacuate, take it with you.  Plus if word gets around about your stash you will be a huge target for robbery.
  5. Enough MREs to last the next several decades.  Having a pallet of MREs in the off chance that you will eat them for years is a pretty big waste of money.  Most likely you will rarely if ever use them so stockpiling "real" food that you can rotate into your family's regular food supply makes much more financial sense.
  6. High-end (think expedition-level) gear that will only be used in the event of a disaster.  There is a lot of nice gear out there--$500 sleeping bags, $400 backpacks--but unless you absolutely need these items and use them regularly, less expensive gear will work just fine and save you a lot of money as well.
  7. A ghillie suit.  You have to buy it, you have to store it, you have to have several depending on your environment, and the chances of absolutely needing it is low to never unless you are a hard-core paintballer.
  8. Tens of thousands of dollars in cash stuffed in your mattress.  It's always good to have some cash on hand.  Too much cash, however, has the issue of needing to be safely stored, being easily stolen, could catch on fire if your house goes up in flames, may be useless depending on the fiscal/political climate of the disaster, and using it in any great quantity will put undue (federal) attention on you.
  9. A stockpile of schedule 2/2N drugs and enough PM/MD-use-only medical supplies to outfit a hospital.  If you are going to stockpile medical supplies you need to know how to use them and many supplies have expiration dates.  Stockpiling unprescribed narcotics and other controlled drugs in quantity can get you arrested--and sent to prison for quite a while--for trafficking.
  10. Other things that will get you arrested.  The movies make it look like C4 is a useful and necessary item, the news makes it sound like using plutonium for poisoning a political rival is a thing to do, in reality, having any highly controlled explosive or poisoning substance will get you a swift visit by the FBI/BATF and several other organizations as well as a swift trip to prison.  Better to improvise from legal-to-have items.
Obviously if you have more money than you now what to do with and like hard-core prepper gear, by all means, go shop to your heart's content.  For most financially average people, there are way better things to spend your hard-earned cash on than flashy but generally unnecessary stuff.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Some Upcoming Physical Challenges

Tis the season for physical challenges so if you are looking for a challenge--not a Barkley-type challenge as once again no one won last weekend's run--but something a bit similar, consider participating in these upcoming events...

Needless to say, these aren't the kind of events that people jump into on a whim but nearly anyone can start with a "couch to 5k" run and with enough dedication and training find themselves participating in these extreme physical challenges.  These are good for your health (?) and good for your prepping skill set.