Thursday, January 23, 2020

20 Things About the Coronavirus

News of a mystery virus out of China has certainly grabbed the attention of the prepper community.  Is this a pandemic?  Is this the pandemic?  The virus has been identified as a type of coronavirus which could possibly cause millions of deaths depending on how it spreads and how severe it becomes.  Here's some things to know...

  1. For a bit of insight into pandemics in general, check out the Netflix docuseries called 'Pandemic'.  I just watched the first episode last night and it gives a general overview of how viruses spread and mutate.
  2. Here's a general overview of the coronavirus.
  3. Note that the WHO hasn't determined that this is a public health emergency (yet).
  4. A researcher created a coronavirus simulation a few months back and determined that such an outbreak could possibly kill 65 million people.  If this could actually happen is currently anyone's guess.
  5. If you really want to delve into virology to understand how viruses work, check out this site.
  6. And if you want to see what others are saying about this outbreak, you can check here, here, and here.  Take everything you read in these links with a grain of salt.
  7. The thing with viruses, whether the coronavirus/H1N1 virus/other type of contagious virus, is that you won't know you have it, until you have it.  By the time you are showing symptoms, you've already had the virus for a while.  Since we are in the middle of flu season anyway, determining if you have a bad cold, the flu, or the coronavirus, is something only a doctor could tell you after doing a blood/mucus test.
  8. Apparently antivirals don't work on the coronavirus.
  9. Here's what the CDC is doing in regards to the coronavirus.  And here is the CDC's Twitter feed for their most recent updates.
  10. Here's a short explanation of how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other respiratory viruses.
  11. I probably don't have to tell preppers this, but when the authorities decide to shut down a city to prevent the spread of a viral contagion, the first thing people are going to do is rush out and stock up on supplies.  For most preppers, their supplies are already socked away in their home; if your's aren't, prepare accordingly.
  12. The most important thing to know about this or other severe respiratory viruses, if your symptoms are deteriorating, get to a doctor quickly.  The time between "I'm sick and feel like I've been hit by a truck" to "I seriously can't catch my breath" to death can be pretty fast.
  13. Usually the flu kills (or severely debilitates) those who are very young, very old, or those who were already very sick before they caught the virus.  On the other hand, sometimes the flu virus can target otherwise young, healthy adults.
  14. The "granddaddy" of flu pandemics was the 1918 (Spanish) Flu which killed over 50 million people; thus the general panic whenever a flu pandemic is mentioned these days.  Note, however, this was before antibiotics and before ventilators were invented; both of which can greatly impact survival rates of the flu.
  15. My "top 10" stockpile items for the flu: kleenex, Thera flu, Sudafed (the stuff you have to buy from a pharmacist not the OTC stuff), Tylenol, easy-to-prepare comfort foods, fresh ginger/turmeric/lemons/honey (I boil these in water and stay hydrated with this brew), Vicks (I don't use it but the spouse swears by it), Vitamin C, face masks (if you absolutely have to be around other people), and alcohol-based hand sanitizer (antibacterial wipes don't kill viruses!). 
  16. I've had the actual flu three times in my life.  My "treatment plan" mostly involved sleeping (a lot!), staying hydrated, eating minimally, and treating symptoms as they came up.  
  17. Should you get a flu shot?  Obviously this is a decision best made by your physician.  Some years the flu vaccine is more effective than others, and it won't work for the coronavirus; also, there is currently no vaccine for the coronaviruses.
  18. Obviously the media is going to play up this virus as much as possible (if it bleeds, it leads sort of thing).
  19. The very best way to avoid getting the coronavirus and other contagious viruses?  Isolation and quarantine--which is easier said than done but is a very effective barrier against the spread of disease (more info here, here, and here).
  20. Everyone who could come in contact with people who have the coronavirus should prepare accordingly (examples here, here, and here).

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

20 Items You Need for an Urban Post-SHTF Situation

In an urban post-SHTF situation, be sure to have the following items on hand...
  1. Silcock key.  When looking for water in an urban environment, opening the water valves in commercial and industrial buildings can be an option.
  2. Crowbar.  Lots of uses from searching for victims to escaping your own destroyed home to breaking into commercial buildings to borrow needed supplies.
  3. N95 masks.  Don't want to be inhaling dust and debris so use a mask when outside (buy some white ones for normal use and black ones for night ops).
  4. Lockpicking kit.  Learn how to use this kit before you need it.
  5. Headlamp.  Better than a flashlight in many cases; bring a flashlight too, however.
  6. Gloves.  Leather work gloves, nitrile gloves, black nitrile gloves for night ops, and Mechanix-type grippy gloves.
  7. HAM radio.  This may be the only way to communicate if all other communication systems are down.
  8. Fixed-blade knife.  Cutting bloody things is slippery business, make sure your fixed blade knife has a hilt.  Carry it in a sheath.
  9. Goggles.  To keep the dirt, smoke, and particulate matter in the air out of your eyes.
  10. Drone.  Get the quietest one you can find.
  11. Bolt cutters.  Best option for cutting things that would otherwise be difficult to access (locks, heavy gauge wire, chain link fences, etc).
  12. Firearms (pistol, shotgun, rifle) and lots of ammo.  
  13. Bottle of bleach (or two or three).  There are lots of uses for bleach in a SHTF situation.
  14. Matches/lighters/magnesium fire starter.  The ability to make fire is always necessary.
  15. Duct tape/paracord/zip ties/bungie cords.  There are a multitude of uses for items that can bind/tie/secure stuff in a SHTF event.
  16. Multi tool.  Always useful.
  17. Medical kit.  The more comprehensive the better.
  18. Food, water.
  19. Solar charger.  For all of your gear with rechargeable batteries such as HAM radio, headlamp, flashlight, etc.
  20. Stuff specific to your area and circumstance: hot weather gear, cold weather gear, bicycle or motorcycle, etc. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

20 Things to Do to Live Under the Radar

It's no secret that you (and me and everyone else) are being tracked, nearly every minute of every day these days.  Here are 20 simple things you can do to be "less trackable" in today's world.

  1. Live in a very rural area where you are less likely to be tracked via things like toll collection systems, traffic cam/license plate readers, publicly placed camera surveillance systems, etc.
  2. Pay for everything in cash, preferably in stores with little if any, video surveillance system (these places are becoming as rare as hen's teeth).
  3. Drive a pre-1990s vehicle.  Black boxes were first put into high end cars in 1994 and are nearly ubiquitous today.  Better yet, don't drive; walking or riding a bicycle are pretty much untraceable.
  4. Don't have a cell phone.  Even burner phones can leave markers of your presence when collated with other data.  No cell phone at all means no GPS tracking/Facebook tracking/etc.
  5. Don't wear a GPS-enabled watch or fitness tracker which can obviously track your location and many other things about you (like your blood pressure, your every action, etc).
  6. Earn your living via the barter/cash economy.
  7. Don't use social media.  At all.  Ever.  And don't allow your photos or other information to be posted on other people's social media accounts.
  8. Don't have "smart TVs" in your home and don't have cable TV or internet either.  Everything you do online can be easily tracked via your ISP, and smart TVs as well as streaming media services like Netflix collect a lot of data on you.
  9. Don't have credit cards, loans or other traceable debts.
  10. Live off-grid by having your own solar electric system (don't be hooked up to the electric grid), your own well, your own septic system, and processing your own garbage.
  11. Don't travel.  Your passport activity can be easily tracked and if you think we live in a surveillance state in the US, you should see how surveillance is done in London.
  12. Don't use any service that can track you or provide info on your activities: library, store apps, Apple pay, etc.
  13. Keep your biometric info to yourself (don't do fingerprints, iris scans, DNA tests, etc).
  14. Don't get into a legal situation where law enforcement may be compelled to track you down: custody/child support dispute, legal dispute, criminal activity, not complying with court orders or warrants, etc.
  15. Learn how to use trusts and LLCs to protect your assets and your privacy.
  16. If you must do things online, do so with the utmost effort towards your privacy and security.
  17. Don't do anything where others would be compelled to record your activities: calling a tow truck, calling a plumber or electrician, calling 911, making large cash transactions at a bank, using the post office, etc.
  18. Don't do things that draw attention to yourself (people will note if you are a regular at a bar, if you are buying or selling drugs, even something as simple as "acting weird" can get you on someone's radar).
  19. Be aware of the unusual ways you could be tracked: RFID tags in items you buy, GPS locations embedded in the photos you take, the secret code on every paper you get from a copy machine, etc.
  20. Never have any account in your name: no real estate transactions, no utility accounts, no Amazon account, no medical bills, email accounts, etc.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

20 Lessons from the Puget Sound Snowstorm

Today it was pouring snow in the Seattle/Western Washington area (as well as in many other parts of the country).  But while New England and the upper Midwest see these kinds of snow storms often, they are fairly uncommon in the Seattle area, happening once every few years or so.  So while friends and relatives endure the snow and ice, I am relaxing in the balmy Southwestern desert (and with time and distance, remembering semi-fondly such storms in the past).  Here are some lessons learned from this and other snow storms...

  1. Stay home if you can.  No sense driving on the icy roads if you don't have to (unless you are mandated to report to work, in which case, drive safely and allow plenty of time to get there).
  2. Prepare your vehicle in the fall for such a weather event.  Have chains on hand, four-wheel drive if it commonly snows where you live, and a fully-stocked vehicle emergency kit.
  3. If you do happen to end up in an ice/snow-related car accident, remain in your vehicle until help arrives if possible, call 911, and prepare to wait as first responders will be helping many other people because of the weather.
  4. Prepare your home ahead of possible winter storms so that you and your family will remain safe and warm, even in the worst weather.
  5. Have appropriate winter clothing if you will be braving the elements during a winter storm.
  6. If you are unfamiliar with driving in the snow and ice, find an empty parking lot to practice in before you hit the roads.  Never drive during a blizzard which is even more hazardous than driving in ice and snow.
  7. Similarly, if you will be walking or working outside either in your yard or elsewhere, prepare accordingly.  On a side note, I am a big fan of YakTrax if you need to be walking outside in the ice or snow.
  8. Some news reports today said that communities needed to improvise ways to get food to people who had been snowed in for five days.  Everyone should have enough food stockpiled to last at least two to four weeks without any outside assistance.
  9. Likewise, everyone should have enough water stocked for at least a couple weeks as well.  Melting snow can be used in an emergency and anyone who has an electric well pump should have an alternative, non-electric way, to access their well water if possible.
  10. Consider what you would do if the power went out for a week or longer.  A wood stove and a few cords of dried wood would be optimal for both heating and cooking.  A generator would be useful for as long as you have fuel for it.  A propane heater and extra fuel for warmth and a patio gas grill with extra fuel for cooking would be other options to consider.
  11. Have a plan to take care of your pets and livestock during extremely adverse weather conditions.
  12. Be aware of things falling from above during a snow/ice storm, including trees and power lines which are prone to collapse under the weight of snow and ice.  Falling snow and ice by itself can also be a hazard.
  13. If possible, have the means to remove downed trees that block roadways/your yard including having a chainsaw and other useful tools.  Note, save the big tree removal projects for the professionals!
  14. Follow your local emergency response agencies (police department, fire department, roads department, city hall/mayor, department of emergency management, local news stations, etc) on social media so you will be kept up to date on storm conditions, alerts, and warnings.
  15. Know what your work/children's schools' weather emergency plans are.  Optimally, you would be able to work from home and not be required to show up at work if the roads are bad and most school districts are pretty good about declaring snow days if it is unsafe for kids to get to and from school.  On the other hand, have a back-up childcare plan if the kids get a snow day but you need to be at work.
  16. When the opportunity arises, read about how others have survived in snow storms, like this guy whose cabin recently burned down in Alaska leaving him to fend for himself in winter weather for a few weeks until help arrived.  These kinds of stories will stick in the back of your mind and the knowledge may be helpful if you find yourself in a similar situation in the future.
  17. Have cash on hand.  You may live close enough to work to a store for supplies but if the power is out and all you have is a credit card, you may be unable to buy needed supplies; cash can be very useful in this situation.
  18. Consider canceling your travel plans if forecasters are saying a big winter storm will happen either where you live or at your destination.  Few things are worse than being stranded on the side of the road or in an airport for days until the weather clears.
  19. Know what your home and auto insurance will cover in relation to winter storms.  It's better to know this information before an event than afterwards.  Also, keep an updated home and vehicle video inventory on hand to use if you need to make an insurance claim.
  20. As with any other emergency, be prepared to take care of yourself for an extended period of time as help may not be quick in responding.  Have enough medications to last until you can get back to the pharmacy, if you or a family member requires regular emergent healthcare (are on a vent, need dialysis, etc) consider leaving the area entirely if possible, know that if you call 911, help that would usually arrive within minutes may not be able to respond for hours.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What Are the Odds...

...that the US kills Iran's top general...
...then Iran retaliates with a missile attack on US troop locations in Iraq...
...then a Ukrainian plane crashes in Iran killing all aboard...
...followed by an earthquake near an Iranian nuclear power plant...
...in the middle of this Trump secretly met with Saudi Arabia's bin Salmon...

On a side note, our city's government computer system was hacked today as well.  And a US government website was hacked yesterday.

Either this was an extraordinarily coincidental string of events or several of these things were no coincidence.

Some YouTube Videos to Check Out

YouTube is a font of information on every topic under the sun.  I've used YouTube to repair everything from vehicles to appliances and have learned several new skills compliments of this social media service.  It's a great resource, generally, and endlessly entertaining.  Here are some recent videos I've found there that you may find useful...

Sunday, January 5, 2020

20 Things To Do While We Wait for the Iran Stuff to Shake Out

The US-Iran situation is a shit show (no surprise there), and the Iraq situation is quickly devolving as well.  Needless to say, the powder-keg that is the Middle East is hitting a high boil as I type this.  So while we wait and see how all of this will shake out, here are 20 things you may want to do...

  1. Get your HAM radio license.
  2. After you have a HAM radio license, pick up a HAM radio and practice using it.
  3. Get a concealed carry license if you don't already have one.
  4. Buy a firearm and practice with it.  Often.
  5. Buy ammo, and plenty of it.
  6. Take a first aid class.
  7. Stock up on food (a case lot sale is a great opportunity to do this).
  8. And of course, stock up on bottled water as well.
  9. Keep plenty of cash on hand (securely) in the event that our online banking system goes down.
  10. Stockpile things you need and use everyday at home (medications, toilet paper, soap, baby diapers, etc).
  11. Review your home security and make any needed improvements.
  12. Consider what you would do if the power grid goes down (and prepare for this possibility now).
  13. Learn from others about how to survive civil unrest and other SHTF situations (examples here and here...there are lots of websites and YouTube videos on the topic).
  14. Learn how to cook from scratch.
  15. Learn about what would happen during a cyber attack and prepare accordingly.
  16. Be wary of what you believe (disinformation can be a form of cyber attack).
  17. Buy seeds and start planning this year's garden.
  18. Be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
  19. Get into excellent physical shape.
  20. Put together a preparedness library (PDF and hard copy).