Friday, September 23, 2016

They Call It Protesting, I Call It a Reason to Get Free Stuff

If you've watched the news during the last few days you will know that Charlotte has been a hot bed of violent unrest since the police shooting of Keith Scott.  Never mind that he was a criminal who pulled a gun on a (black) cop who responded the way any cop would when someone is pointing a weapon at them, never mind that the protesters seem more intent on looting stuff from local businesses than getting a message of protest across...but I digress...  Here's some tips if you find yourself in the middle of a civil unrest situation:

  • Don't put yourself in the situation in the first place.  Sometimes scheduled protests will be noted on the news.  In other situations you can pretty much guess that if a (black) person is shot by a cop there is going to be protesting in whatever city the incident happened in (even though the person was a criminal, even though the person was armed...but I am digressing again).  Ditto the end of a big football or soccer game where the home team wins, etc.  Many of these protests you can follow on social media so you will know where NOT to be.
  • If you see a situation getting out of hand, leave.  I'm not a fan of crowds anyway because they can go from stable to unstable rather quickly, but if you happen to be in a place (generally an urban area) and the crowd starts getting agitated, that's your cue to leave.  Note that this can be because of protesting over a police shooting or because a local team won a football game.  Lots of stuff can set off large groups of people (and often the majority of people have no idea what set them off, they just want to join in on the mayhem!).
  • Leave the area in the most discreet way possible.  Yes it is your right to walk right down the middle of the street but it also a stupid thing to do if you value your hide.  Walk away from the crowd, take a side street, cut through a business, blend in if necessary (do the yelling and sign waving as you back your way out of the crowd if needed).  Get out of the middle of the crowd and edge your way down vacant side streets as much as possible.
  • Be aware of who's who in the zoo.  Where are the cops?  Note that they aren't there to see to your safety so don't expect them to help you if a riot is taking place.  Who seem to be the leaders of the protesters and what are they doing/saying ('death to all whites' and you are white? You are definitely in the wrong place.)  What direction is the crowd going?  Where is the media (the media can sometimes become a target for violence so you probably don't want to be around them if you can help it).  Are there people helping to keep others safe like business owners letting people hole up in their shops?  This may be your only option at some point.
  • Know where you are going.  If people are chasing you, you don't want to get cornered in a dead end street.  Be familiar enough with the local streets/alleys/businesses/etc so that you will have multiple options for escape.  If you can't escape, look for places to hide (dumpsters, old buildings, etc).
  • Try to look as boring and non-target-like and non-threatening as possible.  Is everyone in black--protesters and law enforcement alike?  Toss your Burberry coat and let your black button down and slacks be your camouflage while you are in the problem area.  Put your Rolex in your pocket, keep you weapon concealed, take off any jewelry.  Don't try to reason with the protesters or voice your opinion on the situation, it won't help.
  • Plan on extricating yourself from the area.  Cabs and Uber and your best friend aren't going to drive into the area to rescue you.  The cops will be busy and public transit may be bringing more trouble makers to the area.  Be ready to walk your way out of the area.
  • If you have a business in a protest area that the looters are eyeing, well I hope you have insurance.  Besides your standard security measures (metal window and door gates and the like) think twice about trying to hold off looters with just yourself and a shotgun (a bunch of material goods is not worth your life).  
  • If you are driving through an area when all hell breaks loose, keep driving.  You are usually (depending on the jurisdiction) well within your rights to drive over people if your life is in danger (obviously this would be a last resort).  On the other hand, if you are able to leave your vehicle and blend into the crowd before the crowd swells around you, consider that option as well (it may make you less of a target depending on the situation and your life is worth more than a car).
  • It's always a good idea to carry a concealed firearm.  It was useful in this situation.  But there are many drawbacks to doing this including being overpowered by the crowd and having your weapon taken away from you, having the police think you are one of the agitators, and, well actually killing someone or many someones (always a problem even if you are in the right).
  • Gather with others who are trying to leave the area if possible.  The random idiot protester won't think twice about attacking a single person on the streets; he will think twice if it is a group of random guys (who can all be watching each other's backs as you make your escape).  The ideal is to de escalate the situation and escape but you may be pushed into using a show of force for your own safety.
So basically, your best response to civil unrest is the avoid it if at all possible.  Next, get away from it as soon as possible.  Finally, be prepared to fight for your life if need be.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

In Case You Need More Things to Worry About...

It's been a worrying few days for news...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 Basics When Teaching New Shooters

This article came across my news feed a couple weeks ago.  While the situation was sad all the way around, and I have no idea what the range's protocols and procedures are, there appeared to be many things that weren't done correctly when it came to instructing new shooters at the range.  Here's some tips if you are working with new shooters:

  1. Explain everything.  After being a shooter for many years, we often forget to explain the basics because they are such ingrained habits.  How to stand, how to hold the gun, repeated reminders to keep the business end of the weapon pointed down range, what a hot range is, how to safely un-jam a weapon, keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, ascertaining what is behind your target each and every time you shoot, etc.  New shooters don't know these things yet every bit of this knowledge is critical for the safety of the shooter and everyone else at the range.
  2. Always insist on safety.  Eye and ear protection anytime a shooter is on a hot line is a no-brainer.  Showing new shooters how to safely bring their weapon to the line, going over the four rules of gun safety, showing how (and when) to safely reload their weapon and how to correct their aim if they are shooting over the berm, not allowing people to shoot if they appear to be intoxicated or under the influence, not allowing any horse-play at the range, etc.  There is no excuse to not take safety extremely seriously when deadly weapons are involved.
  3. When instructing new shooters the instructor should always be within arm's length of the person's body/shooting arm.  I've seen some people give new shooters a gun then wonder off while they are shooting.  I've also seen plenty of new shooters get so excited about hitting the target they swing around with their firearm, covering everyone on the firing line, saying "see what I did!" as everyone else is ducking and weaving to get out of range of the weapon.  The instructor should be able to firmly and carefully re-point the shooter's arm (and weapon) down range immediately if this should happen.  This is also effective if there should be recoil which startles the shooter or knocks them backwards.
  4. Start small.  You wouldn't give a chainsaw to someone who had zero knowledge of even the most basic tools, likewise you shouldn't give big guns to someone who has never held a weapon before.  Whether the new shooter is a nine year old girl or a 29 year old linebacker, everyone should start with a firearm that is "fun", easy to shoot, and easy to control.  This may mean a BB gun for a five year old or a .22 rifle for most other shooters.  Save the Desert Eagle .50 for more experienced shooters and for God's sake, if you are teaching a new shooter to use a full auto rifle, DO NOT give them a full 30-round magazine and tell them to have fun.  Mostly it is a waste of ammo, but, as shown in the article, it causes the weapon's recoil to be quite different than what people who have never shot a full-auto weapon expect.  Three or four rounds in the magazine to start is a better way to do it.
  5. Pay attention.  When you take a new shooter to the range, your entire focus should be on them.  When you do shoot, it will only be to show the person what they should be doing (how to load the weapon, how to hold it, how to fire, etc).  An experienced shooter will be paying attention to everything that is happening and is more likely to see (and stop) problems or potential safety risks immediately (which won't happen if you are also on the line concentrating on your own shooting).
The school of hard knocks teaches us quite a few things but when deadly weapons are involved, this is not the way to learn.  For more tips on working with new shooters, check out this and this.

Friday, September 2, 2016

10 Weapons to Carry

It seems the world is getting more dangerous by the day (statistically this isn't so, anecdotally--whether due to social media or news stations needing something to fill up their broadcasts--it seems so).  Here are ten weapons you may want to consider carrying on a daily basis:

  1. Pepper Spray (pepper spray laws)
  2. A knife (knife laws by state)
  3. A tactical pen (a short discussion on tactical pen carry here)
  4. A taser (stun gun laws vary by state, check here to see if this is legal in your state)
  5. A self defense key chain (examples here)
  6. A cane, umbrella, or collapsible baton (video of how to use this here)
  7. Hand-to-hand combat (one of the last options for self defense but it is good to have these skills anyway)
  8. Personal safety alarm (example of how to use one here)
  9. Other self defense carry items (some legal, some not so legal)
  10. A gun (provided you are licensed and well trained with such a weapon.  Gun laws by state here).

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Power Outage

The power went out at my house today.  While where we used to live it was no big deal if the power went out (common, especially during winter storms) this was the first time we have had a power outage since moving to Las Vegas.  Here’s what happened…
  • Power zapped off then on then off.  And it stayed that way.
  • No power means no internet at the house so used my cell phone to access the internet.
  • Checked the energy company’s website for power outages (none were immediately reported) so I went ahead and reported my address as an outage.
  • Checked back about ten minutes later and an outage of about 2000 customers was reported in my area.
  • Checked the local emergency incidents page on Facebook and noted others were having the same problem.
  • Enjoyed the absolute silence in the neighborhood (unusual in Vegas, especially in the summer when everyone has their AC on).
  • Decided to write out a draft of this post (my laptop was still charged).
  • Picked up the phone to get some more info and the internet wasn’t working on it (either the battery packs on the internet data antennas in the area were dying or too many neighbors were trying to use the same internet connection).
  • Tried to call the spouse who was out to lunch with friends and calls wouldn’t go through.  The message said there was no cellular network available.  This situation is going to require a redundancy plan.
  • Moved upstairs to my office and “ta da” got a signal for my phone.
  • Was able to get online on my phone and got an email from the energy company saying the outage would last another few hours.
  • Broke out the emergency radio.  Half of the AM stations (where most local talk radio resides) are in Spanish.  Good thing I speak Spanish?  It isn’t a big outage so no info on the radio about it.
  • Not too worried about not having AC (it’s less than a hundred degrees today which is good).  Plus if it gets too hot I can always remove myself to a casino.
  • Am slightly worried about the fish.  Their air pump isn’t working and I’m wondering how long it will be until they become hypoxic. 
  • Sat on the deck and read a book that I had on my tablet (I charge it each morning as well).
  • Power came on two hours earlier than expected.

What worked:
  • Making a habit of keeping my electronics (cell, tablet, laptop) charged.  I also have a power inverter for my vehicle that I can use to charge electronics if needed.
  • Using my cell data to access information.  Very useful.
  • Water (no problem), food (plenty of no-cook and easy to cook food, no problem), cooking (multiple redundancies, no problem)
  • Could have easily evacuated if needed (have vehicle at the ready and the outage was in a limited area)
  • Being able to report a power outage online was good (I wouldn’t have wasted my time waiting on hold to talk to an actual person about it)

What didn’t work:
  • We don’t have a generator which, during a long-term outage would have been nice (the fish survived anyway).
  • Cell service was iffy (in an emergency like needing to call 911 this would have been a problem)
  • I don’t get bored by myself but for a family, a long-term outage would have led to dire boredom without access to the internet.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

When Your Country Tells You to Prepare, It's a Good Time to Listen

This was an interesting article about the German government warning its citizens that they need to be prepared with a stockpile of ten day's worth of food and five day's worth of water.  It states that "people need to prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence."  Pretty strong wording that.

So while I am glad that I am not in Germany (their recent immigration policy or lack thereof was a complete disaster), the message in this article is appropriate for everyone on the planet and should be heeded.

After a disaster of any sort (natural or man made) the government probably won't be getting to you any time soon if the disaster is larger than a small incident.  They are still just barely starting to clean up after the massive flooding that hit Louisiana two weeks ago, and individual help (aside from emergency care and the emergency shelter system) is a long way off.

This means that you need to be prepared to take care of yourself for a period of days to weeks should a disaster happen.  The more you can do for yourself the less you will need to rely on a system that may or may not be able to help you (and certainly not quickly).

This means:

  • stockpile bottled water
  • stockpile easy to cook food
  • have alternatives for shelter, cooking, and heating
  • be in as good health as possible
  • have insurances (of all kinds)
  • keep good records (a home inventory, all financial and insurance records, etc)
  • be prepared to defend yourself and your family
  • keep cash on hand in the event ATMs don't work
  • stockpile critical medications
  • develop alternative communication plans to reach friends and loved ones
  • develop an evacuation plan
  • have basic medical and survival skills
  • know which friends and neighbors you can depend upon during a disaster
  • know which friends and neighbors may need help during a disaster 
  • teach your kids all of the skills you have learned (they may need to help YOU during a disaster)
  • make connections in your community (there is an advantage during a disaster to being on a first-name basis with the fire chief, police chief, local doctors, governor, etc)
  • be able to stay home for a month if necessary (note this is harder to do than it sounds as people are so unused to doing this sort of thing)
  • know what resources are available in your community (water sources, food sources, in addition to emergency shelters, etc)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Are You Ready to Evacuate? 10 Tips

Within the last week, thousands of people have had to suddenly evacuate their homes.  At least 20,000 had to evacuate in Louisiana due to flooding, and 82,000 people were forced to evacuate from a wildfire that went from a small fire at the side of the road at the Nevada-California state line to closing a major interstate highway and burning 25,000+ acres (it is still not contained).  Scary stuff.  To make sure you are ready to evacuate at a moment's notice, consider these tips:

  1. See if your home owners insurance will cover the most likely natural disasters in your area.  If not, you may need a special rider for such events.
  2. Pre-plan for a variety of locations to evacuate to (hotel, friend's house, vacation cabin, etc).
  3. Put money aside for an emergency evacuation.  You will need to pay for gas, hotel costs, food costs, and possibly an extended stay away from your home in the event it is destroyed by the disaster that is causing you to evacuate in the first place.
  4. Have your evacuation kit ready to grab within minutes.  This should include your bug out bag as well as a box of your most important items (family mementos, important documents, anything that can't be replaced should your place burn to the ground).  Extra water and food should also be tossed into your vehicle on the way out as well.
  5. Have a (paper) map of multiple evacuation routes away from your home.
  6. Have the local news pre-set on your vehicle's radio so you can listen for evacuation news while you are leaving.  Of course if you see a possible disaster coming your way, stay informed with up-to-the-minute news via TV, internet, social media, and/or radio.
  7. Have an evacuation plan for your pets and livestock as well.  You should have leashes and crates for smaller critters (dogs, cats, etc) as well as food and water pre-packed for them.  If you are unable to evacuate your livestock, at least set them free and let them seek their own shelter from the disaster.  More info on the topic here.
  8. Evacuate earlier than needed, if possible, if you have a family member that is ill, infirm, or immobile.  Also, anyone who would be medically impacted by the impending disaster should leave as soon as possible (ie: someone with severe asthma should be nowhere near a wildfire).  Be sure to bring the person's meds and seek help by calling 911 if you are unable to transport a loved one due to their medical condition or immobility.
  9. Check on your neighbors on the way out if you have time.  Make sure they know about the impending need for evacuation and assist them in any way possible without putting your own life at risk.  The elderly may especially need help or advice on evacuating.
  10. The last thing to do before you leave should be to close and lock all doors and windows in your home, turn off utilities if appropriate, and put a sign on your door with large lettering saying them home is evacuated at date and time.  Add your cell number at the bottom of the sign in case anyone needs to get a hold of you. 
More info on evacuating can be found here, here, and here.