Saturday, October 22, 2016

A News Round Up

It's been a pretty busy week, news-wise...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

10 Lessons from Hurricane Matthew

Fortunately the direct hit to Florida from Hurricane Matthew didn't happen.  It was still a good learning experience, however.  Here are ten lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew...

  1. Prepare NOW for the next hurricane and/or natural disaster that will happen.  There is no excuse to be playing tug-o-war over the last loaf of bread at your local grocery store, a couple of hours before a hurricane is set to make landfall.  This is what stores looked like just before Hurricane Matthew was set to hit Florida last week.  By stockpiling food and supplies now, purchasing plywood to board up your windows now, and (safely) storing extra fuel for your vehicle now, you won't be one of the people left with scraps when the next disaster happens.
  2. Double up your emergency fund.  Here is what it cost one family to evacuate Hurricane Matthew.  A lot of poor people were SOL when it came to evacuating simply because they had to money to do so.  Fortunately the emergency planners in Florida were made aware of this sort of situation after Hurricane Katrina and were able to use school buses to take people to shelters who would have otherwise been unable to evacuate due to having no vehicle or having no money for gas.
  3. I can't believe people would say that since they evacuated and nothing happened this time, they won't be evacuating again.  In the world of preparedness, 'plan for the worst and hope for the best' is the attitude to have.  This was an excellent way for people to test their evacuation preps, and most people were only inconvenienced and not seriously injured or killed--that is an excellent result.  I highly recommend following government orders to evacuate, even if it seems like in the past, out of an abundance of caution, the powers that be have "cried wolf" a time or two.  The time you don't evacuate could be the time your area gets a direct hit from a Cat 5 hurricane.
  4. And realize that disaster forecasting isn't an exact science.  While disaster forecasts may be completely off (like the recent warning about a major earthquake which was to hit the southern California area) or they may be slightly off (Florida didn't sustain a direct hit from Matthew as was forecasted) at least people get some sort of warning ahead of time (which is better than the alternative).
  5. While we are fortunate to live in a large enough and rich enough country that a hurricane such as Matthew can have a nearly immediate emergency response, that infrastructure can be put back together rapidly, and that there are places to easily evacuate to for safety, other countries such as Haiti are not so fortunate.  This is the initial after action report from Haiti.  Read and learn from this.
  6. When it comes to priorities for preparedness, the lives of you are your family are paramount.  Stuff can be replaced but people can't.  There will always be some scumbags who take advantage of other people's misery, but staying home during a mandatory evacuation order just to protect your stuff isn't worth it.  This is where good insurance--and a good inventory system--comes into play.  Of course a good video surveillance system is also a way to protect your stuff (well, not so much protect as to capture photos of looters which can be used for later apprehension and prosecution).
  7. And for the love of all that's holy, DON'T DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS.  People often associate the power of a hurricane blowing people away (or blowing things into people) for deaths directly related to hurricanes but drowning actually kills the most people during and after a hurricane.
  8. After the preparedness and the evacuation, you will come home when given the all clear.  But your work isn't done yet.  Generally after any sort of disaster you will need to clean up and repair/rebuild what was destroyed (often with less that normal services available such as no power even after the disaster has passed).  Be sure to have clean up supplies and tools on hand for use when you return.
  9. And even though Hurricane Matthew focused a lot of the nation's attention on Florida, much of its damage has been felt further up the coast.  This goes to show that while the national news can give you an overview of what is happening, you really need to pay attention to local news sources (local TV news, local newspapers, local social media reports from the DEM, law enforcement, etc) and react accordingly to what is happening in your immediate area.
  10. Finally, I found this little gem of a website when keeping updated on the hurricane...marine traffic in real time.  Fascinating.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hurricane Preps

If you are in Florida at the moment you (hopefully) are either evacuating or getting ready to ride out the hurricane heading your way.  All of the major news outlets are covering the storm, and reddit is lit up with useful news and information here, here, and here.

As usual, news reports highlight the unprepared..."In Jupiter, resident Randy Jordan told CNN affiliate WPEC people were pushing and shoving their way through the local Home Depot to buy supplies ranging from batteries to flashlights.  "The vibe on the street this morning is pre-panic," Jordan said. "By tomorrow, it should just be a brawl."

Really, this shouldn't even be a thing but it takes something like looming death for some people to think that maybe they should stock up on a bit of food and maybe get a flashlight.

The bottom line is that EVERYONE should be prepared for any sort of disaster whether you live on a beach prone to hurricanes or inland where there are no real natural or man-made disasters.  There should be no reason for you to be slogging through the masses because you have no flashlights or batteries or stored water (but I'm sure most of you know that already).  It's pretty much a guarantee there will be some sort of emergency event during the course of your life which will require #1 stockpiled water, #2 stockpiled food, #3 stockpiled money, #4 stockpiled emergency supplies, #5 bugging out, and/or #6 bugging in.  And for the love of all that's holy, don't fire up your generator indoors (which you also know but I was rather surprised that many people on reddit had no idea why that was a bad thing).  

For more info on prepping for a hurricane, check here, here, and here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

In October...

...the election is coming up in November.  Are you registered to vote?  Are you as disappointed as I am that the candidates we have to choose from for the highest office in the land are appalling one and all?
...October is earthquake preparedness month.  The Great Shake Out will take place on October 20th.  Participate.  Be prepared.
...speaking of earthquakes.  A rare earthquake advisory was issued for Southern California this past weekend which was odd because earthquakes really can't be predicted with any certainty (and in fact the aforementioned earthquake didn't happen).  Cue part of the population going into freak out mode because of what they were sure would happen.  Cue runs to the store and panicked last minute preparedness tasks.  I highly recommend being prepared for anything, any time.  Whether it is a hurricane, snow storm, or possible earthquake, you should be prepared today for any of these problems with no need to run to the store for supplies should any of these things happen tomorrow.
...I was mildly disappointed that the October Surprise wasn't.  A surprise that is.  The surprise was on the people who were waiting for it to happen (at the God awful hour of 1am) when absolutely nothing happened.
...the Vice Presidential debate will take place this evening.  I hesitate to call it an actual debate when only two of the more than half dozen vice presidential contenders are invited to participate.  Ditto the presidential debates.
...and it may be October but watch out for bears...

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.