Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Without the will to survive - all your preps mean nothing

I have learned that four elements must be in place for a survival situation to have the chance of a positive outcome: knowledge, ability, the will to survive, and luck. While knowledge and ability can be learned, the will to survive is hard-wired into our survival mechanism and we may not know we possess it until we're put to the test. For example, people who were fully trained and well-equipped have given up hope in survivable conditions, while others, who were less well-prepared and ill-equipped, have survived against all odds because they refused to give up.

Anyone venturing into the wilderness-whether for an overnight camping trip or a lengthy expedition-should understand the basic principles of survival. Knowing how to survive in a particular situation will allow you to carry out the correct beforehand preparation, choose the right equipment (and learn how to use it), and practice the necessary skills. While you may be able to start a fire using a lighter; for example, what would you do if it stopped working? Equally, anyone can spend a comfortable night inside a one-man bivy shelter, but what would you do if you lost your pack? The knowledge gained through learning the skills of survival will enable you to assess your situation, prioritize your needs, and improvise any items of gear that you don't have with you.

Survival knowledge and skills must be learned-and practiced-under realistic conditions. Starting a fire with dry materials on a sunny day, for example, will teach you very little. The real survival skill is in understanding why a fire won't start and working out a solution. The more you practice, the more you learn (I am yet to teach a course where I didn't learn something new from one of my students). Finding solutions and overcoming problems continually adds to your knowledge and, in most cases, will help you deal with problems should they occur again.

There are differences between teaching survival courses to civilians and teaching them to military personnel. Civilians have enrolled on (and paid for) a course to increase their knowledge and skills, not because their life may depend on it (although, should they find themselves in a life threatening situation, it may well do), but because they are interested in survival techniques in their own right. In contrast the majority of military personnel who undergo survival training may very well need to put it into practice, but they invariably complete the training simply because they are required to do so.

While no one in the military forces would underestimate the importance of survival training, it is a fact that if you want to fly a Harrier, or become a US Marine Mountain Leader, survival training is just one of the many courses you must undertake. In the military, we categorize the four basic principles of survival as protection, location, water, and food.

Protection focuses on your ability to prevent further injury and defend yourself against nature and the elements.

Location refers to the importance of helping others to rescue you by letting them know where you are.

The principle of water focuses on making sure that even in the short term, your body has the water it needs to enable you to accomplish the first two principles.

Food, while not a priority in the short term, becomes more important the longer your situation lasts.
As you read this blog and plan to put the skills and techniques covered here into practice, you will typically be equipping yourself for just one particular type of environment-but it's important that you fully understand that one environment. Make sure you research not only what the environment has to offer you as a traveler-so that you can better appreciate it-but also what it offers you as a survivor: there is sometimes a very thin line between being in awe of the beauty of an environment and being at its mercy. The more you understand both the appeal and dangers of an environment, the better informed you will be to select the right equipment and understand how best to utilize it should the need arise.

Remember, no matter how good your survival equipment, or how extensive your knowledge and skills, never underestimate the power of nature if things aren't going as planned, never hesitate to stop and re-assess your situation and priorities, and never be afraid to turn back and try again later- the challenge will always be there tomorrow.

Finally, always remember that the most effective method of dealing with a survival situation is to avoid getting into it in the first place.

Boy Scout Handbook 1911 - 2010

The Official Handbook for Boys was published in June 1911. In this edition, the American Scouting program was standardized, albeit with many omissions and mistakes. As with the Original Edition, many now-standard Scouting skills were passed over, including knife and axe use and map and compass work.  The book describes many Scout-like virtues and qualifications. After a lengthy section on what a Scout should know, including chivalry, history, and national issues, we read that "In short, to be a good Scout is to be a well-developed, well-informed boy."

The more modern Boy Scout Handbooks are great training aids.  Later editions include:

Boy Scout Handbook/2nd Edition The Official Handbook for Boys (1914-27)

Boy Scout Handbook/3rd Edition Revised Handbook for Boys (1927-40)

Boy Scout Handbook/4th Edition Revised Handbook for Boys (1940-48)

Boy Scout Handbook/5th Edition Handbook for Boys (1948-59)

Boy Scout Handbook/6th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1959-65)

Boy Scout Handbook/7th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1965-72)

Boy Scout Handbook/8th Edition Scout Handbook (1972-79)

Boy Scout Handbook/9th Edition Official Boy Scout Handbook (1979-90)

Boy Scout Handbook/10th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1990-98)

Boy Scout Handbook/11th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (1998-09)

Boy Scout Mini Handbook (#30511); an extract of the standard handbook for use as a temporary advancement record

Boy Scout Handbook/12th Edition Boy Scout Handbook (Aug. 1, 2009)

I found many copies on and ran a search by name.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The most powerful leader in the World....Really??????

Enough said.......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Price comparison of Thrive and Honeyville

This is a comparison of prices between Thrive & Honeyville
(1 year supply of food for 1 person)

I have not purchased any foods from Thrive or Honeyville; nor do I receive any money from either company for advertising; nor have I received any free products from either company; I have nothing to do with either of these company' wife and I are shopping around for canned food for storage and this is an example of our results so far...

 Thrive price    Thrive Total     Honeyville Price    Honeville Total

8 Cans of Instant White Rice (48 servings per can) each are sold in a case of 6
59.98                   59.98                  66.99              66.99  (does't sell instant rice)
10.59                   21.18 for 2 cans  12.99              25.98 for 2 cans

12 Cans of Hard White Winter Wheat (44 servings per can)
41.97                   83.94                   53.99           107.98

3 Cans of 6 Grain Pancake Mix (50 servings per can)
9.63                     28.89                    N/A             N/A  (no mix in cans)

2 Cans of Elbow Macaroni (45 servings per can)
8.00                     24.00                    N/A             N/A  (no Macaroni)

6 Cans of Dehydrated Potato Chunks (42 servings per can)
59.31                   59.31                    53.99            53.99

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn (46 servings per can)
16.82                   16.82                    15.99            15.99

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Green Peas (41 servings per can)
19.64                   19.64                    15.99            15.99

1 Cans of Dehydrated Chopped Onions (45 servings per can)
17.39                   17.39                    11.99            11.99

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Mushroom Pieces (48 servings per can)
11.52                   11.52                      N/A              N/A

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Broccoli (47 servings per can)  
15.28                   15.28                     17.99           17.99

2 Cans of Organic Apple Slices (48 servings per can)
13.86                   27.72                     19.99           39.98

2 Cans of Freeze-Dried Strawberries (45 servings per can)
21.2                     42.40                      16.99          33.98

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Blueberries (50 servings per can)
27.87                   27.87                       30.99         30.99

1 Can of Freeze-Dried Blackberries (49 servings per can)
28.51                   28.51                       19.99         19.99

2 Cans of Freeze-Dried Raspberries (48 servings per can)
28.3                     56.60                        23.99        47.98

6 Cans of Powdered Milk (43 servings per can)
71.55                   71.55                         59.99       59.99

3 Cans of Chocolate Drink Mix (48 servings per can) 
16.16                   48.48                          12.99      38.97

3 Cans of Bacon TVP (47 servings per can)
9.55                     28.65                          11.99      35.97 Ham

3 Cans of Beef TVP (44 servings per can)
10.44                   31.32                            9.99      29.97

3 Cans of Chicken TVP (45 servings per can)
10.41                   31.23                            9.99      29.97

2 Cans of Taco TVP (42 servings per can)
10.48                   31.44                            N/A         N/A

6 Cans of Pinto Beans (49 servings per can)
63.99                   63.99                         66.99       66.99

1 Can of Black Beans (49 servings per can)
14.09                   14.09                          12.99      12.99

2 Cans of Lima Beans (49 servings per can) 1
3.93                     41.79                           N/A

3 Cans of Lentils (52 servings per can)
11.07                   33.21                           N/A

6 Cans of Whole Eggs (236 servings per can) 
108.97               108.97                       89.99         89.99

2 Cans of White Sugar (46 servings per can)
10.87                  21.74                         N/A

Grand Totals  1067.51                                        854.66

Thrive is currently having a sale on their 1 year supply for 1 person for $799.99 through COSTCO, but you have to be a member of COSTCO to participate in the sale.  $200 discount is reflected in the price AND it's only valid for orders placed April 1, 2010 through April 25, 2010.

The prices shown here are from the each company's website...the actual savining if you purchased these Thrive products from COSTCO is $267.52.

OKAY....OKAY... some of you will say it's not a fair comparison becasue Honeyville doesn't sell some of the same products... So let's subtract all the stuff which are not offered by Honeyville and the othere stuff I really wouldn't purchase off either of their, everything is equal.

12 Cans of Hard White Winter Wheat (44 servings per can)
3 Cans of 6 Grain Pancake Mix (50 servings per can)
2 Cans of Elbow Macaroni (45 servings per can)
1 Can of Freeze-Dried Mushroom Pieces (48 servings per can)
2 Cans of Organic Apple Slices (48 servings per can)
2 Cans of Taco TVP (42 servings per can)
2 Cans of Lima Beans (49 servings per can)
3 Cans of Lentils (52 servings per can)

If I didn't purchase the items above or used them in the comparison...the Grand Totals would come out to be:

Thrive :                       785.00               
Honeyville Grain:       706.70      
It would be prudent to shop around, of course, that goes without saying.  From the information provided, I have determined that:

In order to take advantage of the special promotion, I have to be a member of COSTCO.

If I am not a member of COSTCO, Honeyville Grain (per item) is less expensive than Thrive.

If I miss this sale, I will just buy direct form Honeyville Grain...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting to your family after and EVENT

Not long ago, a report quoting NASA scientists was issued by the National Academy of Science, the highest scientific advisory body to the United States Congress. The report said something that used to be unthinkable: our own sun could have a temper tantrum that would unleash a tsunami of radiation from outer space, potentially wiping out our space satellites, wiping out power lines, and leaving entire continents without power.

This means that your refrigerator and freezer wouldn't have any electricity, leaving food to rot and creating food shortages around the world. Communication systems and power systems worldwide could be wiped out for months at a time. Something this large would cause not just a localized but rather a continent-wide power outage.

An event of this magnitude may seem hard to grasp, but just remember that every eleven years the sun flips with respect to its magnetic field (North becomes South and South becomes North) and releases a burst of radiation directed toward outer space, including Earth, and that this burst could endanger our communication systems.
So when ALL phone systems go down (electricity, internet, land line phones, and cell phones) do you know what your spouse or other loved ones are going to react?  Have you practed what each one of your roles are going to be...where you are going to you will leave messages for eachother?
For example; my wife and I had a plan as to what we were going to do during an EVENT if the kids were in school and she and I were at work.  My wife was going to stay at work until I reached her.  If she had to leave (riots or earthquake) to go to her friends house; she was to grab her bug out bag (Wife's Bug Out Bag posted on California Prepers Network) and head to a friends house.  She would leave me directions written on her car:
L on R-2B-L-7B-RS-89
Which reads:
Left on Roscoe
go two blocks
turn left
go seven blocks
right side of street
house number ends in 89
If she had to leave one friends house to go to anothers, she would leave me a similiar message.  I kinda know where her friends homes are...but, I'm a guy (I'd NEVER ask for directions....LOL).
If I was home or work...My good ol' Military trainging would kick in and I'd go looking for her.  She also know to leave signals for me to follow as well...writing my nickname on a street sign; stuff like that.
I'd advise that you set up a plan of action with your family and read my post How will you communicate with your family.

I know some of you will suggest long range two way radios:

I will write a seperate piece on that later...please stand by.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Prepare for your pets too!

The best time for disaster preparedness was yesterday.

The next best time is now.

There are many things you need to do to ensure that both you and your dog will be as safe as possible when trouble comes. Don't delay. Your dog depends on you to keep him safe!

An important aspect of preparing for a disaster is knowing what disasters might come your way. Determine the disaster threats in your area so you know what to be prepared for. Become familiar with the various agencies and organizations that can help you and your dog in emergencies.

Make your disaster evacuation plans, including where to stay and how you're going to get there.

Not all of them allow dogs.

Check in advance to determine if he can stay with you. There are plenty of places that allow pets, but they'll fill up fast as the threat increases.

There are two web sites that provide listings of pet-friendly accommodations. While their focus is on vacation travel, they're useful resources for quickly researching possible accommodations to add to your disaster evacuation plan.

Pets On The Go has a very extensive list of properties (30,000 plus) around the world that accept pets. You can search the US and Canada, or the rest of the world. They offer online booking for some properties, maps to them, and veterinary practices in the area. Inc. has a list of 25,000 properties that accept pets. You can search the US, Canada, Great Britain and France. They have an online reservation system as well.

They also offer a feature that allows you to enter your start and end points and receive directions and a list of pet-friendly accommodations along the way. They have a travel club for pet owners, which offers you a discount on accommodations at participating providers.

Once you've found a few places you'd like to stay at if the need arises, contact them and discuss your plans and what they'll require to keep a room available for you. Once you've found the one or two that best suit your needs, add their contact information to your disaster evacuation plan information kit.

Create a dog evacuation kit that contains everything he'll need for at least two weeks away from home. Ensure that you or a rescuer can easily find your kit and your dog when it's time to go.

You've done some planning.

Now you're working on your dog's evacuation kit.

Visit your veterinarian for help with any questions you might have about medications or keeping your dog calm during that stressful time. You might also have questions about some of the tools or supplies in your first aid kit.

Here is a list to discuss when you visit your veterinarian

Go over your disaster evacuation plan with your veterinarian. She might have ideas on what to do or bring with you for your specific circumstances.

You'll need medical information and records for your evacuation kit, including copies of all vaccination records, showing the date of the last shot. If your vet provides rabies certificates, ask for one.

You'll also need a complete medical history, including important test results (for example, heart worm) and any medical conditions your dog has.

Ensure that this information goes into your dog's evacuation kit as soon as you get home.

If your dog is on medications, ask your vet for an extra two weeks' worth so you can keep them with the evacuation kit or stored in the refrigerator. Remember to rotate through your supply, always using what's already on hand before opening what you just purchased.

If the medications require refrigeration, ask your vet how long they'll last without refrigeration, and how long they'll last in a cooler with ice or freezer packs.

If your dog frightens easily, or is generally nervous, ask your vet for advice on keeping him calm. She might suggest a certain medication, or recommend a herbal or aromatherapy treatment.

Ask any questions you might have about how to use a tool or supply in your dog first aid kit so that you know how to use it in case of an emergency.

Ask if the clinic will be evacuating as well, in case you need to board your dog somewhere. If they will be open, and you want to board him there, ask what arrangements you'll need to make and what items you'll need to bring.

You may need to visit your veterinarian if your dog needs medical attention when you return. Ask your vet if her practice will be open when you return. If not, ask her to recommend one who will be available.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Possible FALSE FLAG or Real Nuclear Attack in May?

I believe we all need to watch out this coming May 13th 2010. I think this is either going to produce an incident or an excersise, I'm not going to say that an attack (real one) will happen but we all know what the excersise on September 11, 2001 turned out to be!

Public Intelligence has received a request from FEMA to remove a “For Official Use Only” document regarding the National Level Exercise 2010 (NLE 10), which was scheduled for this coming May. The exercise was to be based on National Planning Scenario 1 which simulates a nuclear detonation in a U.S. city. However, recent political pressure has led to the exercise being “scaled back” according to the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and a variety of other publications. At the behest of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the exercise’s Nevada events have reportedly been canceled and the FEMA website now shows no mention of NLE 10.

On top of this, the Obama administration has recently been emphasizing the threat of a domestic nuclear attack. President Obama’s remarks at the Nuclear Security Summit on April 13, 2010 emphasize that the threat of terrorists using nuclear weapons inside of major metropolitan cities is one of the “greatest threats” that the world faces:

Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history — the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.

Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations. Just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it. Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world — causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability.

In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security — to our collective security.

NLE 10 concerned itself with exactly this scenario: the detonation of a nuclear device inside of a U.S. city. Las Vegas was to be the epicenter of this hypothetical attack and, if the exercise utilized the same circumstances as National Planning Scenario 1, it would have involved “hundreds of thousands” of casualties, more than 300,000 refugees and ultimately more than 1 million displaced persons.

The unpopularity of such a scenario, regardless of its security benefits, is obvious. What is strange is the attempt that is now being made by FEMA to eliminate references to the exercises and remove from circulation a document that has played an important role in drawing attention to the exercise. As the state of NLE 10 is unclear at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the request is truly motivated by security or whether there is a more dubious intention. Source: Public Intelligence

Friday, April 16, 2010

A brief history of chemical and biological weapons

The use of chemicals and diseases as weapons of war is by no means a new phenomenon. Evidence of their use dates all the way back to ancient times.  Here is a brief overview of some of the landmark events in the turbulent history of chemical and biological warfare.

Greco-Roman Period

Drinking-water wells are poisoned with rye ergot by Assyrians and Persians during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. During the same era, Assyrians catapult decaying animal carcasses over the walls of besieged cities.

During the Peloponnese War (431–404 BC) besieged cities are attacked with 'incendiary devices' and sulfur dioxides carried by the wind.

'Greek fire' (toxic smoke from an inflammatory mixture) is invented by Greek King Kallinikos. Greek fire remains the secret weapon of the Byzantine Empire against the Turks for five centuries. Later the Turks themselves use it to conquer the Greek Empire (14th century).

Roman Soldiers throw rotting animal corpses and poisons into their enemies' water supplies.

The Middle Ages and Renaissance periods

Barrels of blinding quicklime are catapulted by the English fleet on French vessels (middle of the 13th century).

A Tatar army tries to break the siege of Kissa in the Crimea by catapulting infected corpses over the city walls (14th century).

Bombs, grenades and rags containing arsenic are fired by the defenders of Belgrade against the Turks in 1456.

Weapons using sulfur, mercury, turpentine and nitrates are mentioned in military strategy books.

'Stinking Jars' and toxic bombs are used in great quantities during The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648).

Eighteenth Century

More sophisticated devices using arsenic, orpiment, lead, ceruse, minium, verdigris, antimony as well as belladonna, euphorbe, hellebore, aconite and nux vomica are manufactured and perfected. We don't know if they were ever used.

British soldiers deliberately distribute smallpox-infected blankets as 'gifts' to Native American Indian tribes who have no immunity to the disease.

Nineteenth Century

During the 19th century there was a shift away from the use of chemical weapons which, at this time, were not considered honorable.

English plans to fill the Russian garrison of Sevastopol with lethal smoke (using sulfur and coke) during the Crimean War (1854-1855) don't materialize.

Plans to use chlorine shells against the Confederates during the US War of Secession (1861-1865) are rejected.

World War I (1914-1918)

6,000 cylinders containing 180 tons of chlorine are spread across 6km of the front near Ypres, Belgium. Driven by the wind, the cloud of gas kills 5 000 soldiers and puts a further 1500 out of action (April 22, 1915).

Attacks with a chlorinate-phosgene mixture at Bsura-Rumka on the Russian front. Over 12,000 bottles of the deadly gas are used, killing 6,000 and putting a further 3,000 out of action (May 31, 1915).

100,000 'T-shells' containing benzyl bromide are fired with cannons in Argonne, France (July, 1915).

Deadly phosgene shells are fired in Verdun, France (March, 1916).

Cyanhydric acid shells are used during the Battle of the Somme, France (July, 1916).

The first world war's reputation as a chemical war reaches its peak with the use of deadly mustard gas in the Ypres region of Belgium. Over 9,000 tons of the gas are produced and its use has a huge negative psychological impact on the soldiers (July, 1917).

The last year of the war sees massive use of shells containing aggressive gases by both sides. It is estimated that around 25% of the total shells used contained deadly chemicals.

The total loss of life caused by poisonous gases - especially mustard gas - during the first world war was 1,300,000 people. Of those, only 100,000 were on the battlefield. Were it not for the introduction and refinement of gas masks, the death toll would have been significantly greater.

While this amount of casualties is difficult to comprehend, it is worth noting that other 'conventional' weapons were responsible for a total 26,700,000 deaths during the same war. Of those, just 6,800,000 died on the battlefield.

1918 - 1939

1920: Chemical weapons are used during the Russian civil war.

1925: Mustard gas is used during the War of the Rif, Morocco. Significantly, this is the same year that the Geneva Protocol was agreed.

1935-36: Mustard gas is used in massive quantities against the warriors from Abyssinie, contributing to the destruction of Ethiopia.

1937 to 1941: Japan uses toxins against China, most notably during the attack of Yichang.

World War II (1939 - 1945)

With the exception of the Far East, almost no chemical weapons were used by the warring parties during the second world war.  There are two main reasons for this:

Unlike the static nature of the trench-warfare campaigns of the first world war, the second world war's 'Blitzkrieg' style of rapidly moving campaigns made the use of chemical weapon a less feasible option.

The allies were more advanced and had greater stocks of chemicals to use as weapons which acted as a deterrent to the Nazis.

The post-war years

During the 1950s, the United States and the forces of the NATO compete against the Soviet Union in the research and production of more sophisticated and effective chemical weapons.

Between 1963 and 1968, Egypt uses mustard gas in Yemen, while the United States uses defoliants, dioxin and weed-killers in Vietnam.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-83) sees the Soviet Union experiment with new, difficult-to-detect chemicals.

Between 1975 and 1983, Vietnam uses large quantities of toxins against the Laotian rebels.

During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Iraq uses mustard gas, cyanide and tabun against the Iranian troops resulting in very heavy losses (10,000 seriously wounded and an unknown number of deaths).

In 1995, Iraq admits to the United Nations that it had loaded anthrax spores into warheads during the Gulf War (1990). That conflict proved to be a major event in the history of chemical warfare by highlighting the threat that the Iraqi chemical arsenal posed to the international community. Their chemical arsenal was found to be the third biggest in the world containing some 50,000 mustard gas, sarin and sarin cyclohexylic shells and bombs.

It's worth noting that Iraq signed up to the Geneva Protocol in 1931.

Iraq uses tabun and mustard gas in massive quantities against the Kurds and Shiites in the south, causing thousands of deaths.

In 1984, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult allegedly contaminates salad bars in 10 restaurants in The Dalles, Oregon, with Salmonella Typhimurium, causing several hundred people to become ill.

Between 1987 and 1990, the United States, after 19 years of interruption, resumes the production of chemical weapons to catch up with the Soviet Union.

Accidents and incidents

1969: Off the Belgian coast, one or two barrels of mustard gas leak into the sea killing seals and fish. Fishermen are burned as well as children on the beaches.

1979: A child is killed near Hamburg, Germany, by a stock of cartridges loaded with tabun.

1990: In the Libyan desert of Tarhunah (near Tripoli), the Rabta factory, thought to be the biggest of all chemical weapons factories, is destroyed in a mysterious fire.

1995: A terrorist attack using sarin in the Tokyo subway kills 8 and makes dozens of others seriously ill.

Other things to prepare for a survival situation

Food, Water, Shelter, and Bullets are great to have, but there are some miscellaneous supplies that you shouldn’t forget. 

Medical: First aid kit, Aspirin, Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, special medications if needed and a first aid manual.

Hygiene: Pre-moistened towelettes, all-purpose liquid soap, tooth brushes and paste, disposable razors, feminine hygiene items, latex gloves, disinfectant.

Toilet/sanitation facilities: You should include chemical toilet facilities in your safe room. Even if the room already has a toilet, there's always the risk that the water supply will be interrupted or contaminated. Don't forget to store toilet tissue rolls. For more information on this, see the page Preparing a 'safe room' at home.

Clothing: At least one complete change of clothing for each member of the family.

Baby needs: Baby formula and plastic bottles, disposable diapers, pre-moistened wet wipes, baby blanket, two or three complete change of baby clothes.

Recreation : Toys for the children, playing cards, pens and paper, books, games,...

Please, Please, Please don't keep all your supplies in one spot.  What if your house gets robbed?  What if you are away from home during an "EVENT" and you come home to find your house is being lived in by someone else who now has your guns, ammo, gas, and food?  What if you are home and have to leave IMMEDIATELY?  How much stuff can you carry in your vehicle...have you tried to stuff all your stuff in your vehicle plus additonal fuel?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Would things be "better" after an "Event"?

One must point out, however, that many who now deplore the oppression, injustice, and intrinsic ugliness of life in a technically advanced and congested society will decide that things were better when they were worse; and they will discover that to do without the functions proper to the great systems—without telephone, electric light, car, letters, telegrams—is all very well for a week or so, but that it is not amusing as a way of life.

Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Society after an "EVENT"

It is certain that free societies would have no easy time in a future dark age. The rapid return to universal penury will be accomplished by violence and cruelties of a kind now forgotten. The force of law will be scant or nil, either because of the collapse or disappearance of the machinery of state, or because of difficulties of communication and transport. It will be possible only to delegate authority to local powers who will maintain it by force alone....

There is one fact that will bring notable relief to many survivors: the grim problems facing them will at least be completely different from those that have been tormenting them in past years. The problems of an advanced civilization will be replaced by those proper to a primitive civilization, and it is probable that a majority of survivors may be made up of people particularly adapted to passing quickly from a sophisticated to a primitive type of existence....

Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gas masks and protective clothing

When we think of chemical or biological attacks, the first things that usually spring to mind are gas masks.

Some people run to the local Army-Navy surplus store and buy a mask secure in the knowledge that they will be safe in the event of an attack.

This is a mistake

Looking at the movies you get the impression that there's nothing more to gas masks than pulling it over your face and you're safe. The reality, however, is altogether different. Gas masks are complex pieces of equipment. To use them inappropriately is potentially more dangerous that the chemical they're supposed to protect you from.

Having many years experience with Chemical & Biological weapons, I'll attempt to lay aside the myth of the gas mask and put you in a position to make a reasoned decision on whether you should use them or not.

Do you need a gas mask?

This is the million dollar question. Most experts would advise that stocking up on gas masks for the whole family is not worth it. An appropriate gas mask will protect you from breathing in most chemical or biological agents, BUT there are some things to bear in mind before you run out to buy one:

A gas mask will be effective IF you're wearing it before exposure to the agent or immediately upon exposure. If you're inexperienced in the use of gas masks, or if you take to long to find it, you may be putting your life more in danger than if you simply moved quickly to escape the cloud. Of course there's every chance that you will not know what kind of poison is in the air and may not have the appropriate filter in your mask. This may lead to a false sense of security.

In the case of a biological attack masks are of little use. In most cases a biological attack will go undetected for at least several days making the gas mask virtually redundant.

It's also worth bearing in mind that gas masks are quite expensive. You can expect to spend about $200 for an effective mask. Then you need to decide if (1 you're going to carry the mask with you everywhere you go which would be uncomfortable, impractical and probably not too popular an idea with the kids or (2 you're going to have one mask for home, one for work, one for the car, and so on which would be very expensive.


In the case of a biological attack, breathing through a doubled-up t-shirt will greatly increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, this method isn't effective against most chemical agents.

I would suggest that a gas mask, used properly, would be useful in the event of an attack (provided you know how to use it and you're aware of the attack in time to put it on). However, I would not feel compelled - despite current threats - to rush out and invest large amounts of money in them.


Gas mask filters have a limited life-span. Most of them have just a few hours of active use (depending on the amount of dangerous substance being filtered and the relative air humidity). At this point the filter needs to be changed. Never buy a second-hand mask as you will not know how much life the filter has left in it.

You'll need precise instructions on using your gas mask. There's more to it than just pulling it over your face. Inappropriate use may be more dangerous than the substance you're trying to protect yourself against. Ideally you should get some training on the correct use of gas masks and both you and your family should practice using them regularly.

You should be clean-shaven when putting on your gas mask. A beard (or even stubble) may enable the poisons to infiltrate the mask.

If you've had no training in the use of gas masks, there's one important point to remember - take the plastic seal off the filter before putting the mask on. During Operation Desert Storm (1990) eight people lost their lives because they forgot to remove the seal (they thought they were being poisoned, when in fact it was the mask that was smothering them).

Some gas mask filters have larger intake openings designed for people with lung/breathing problems.

Increasingly, gas masks are available in various sizes - even for children and babies. If you're buying gas masks for your family, then be sure that each one has a perfect fit. Some masks are equipped with drinking systems, and masks that enable easier speech (via 'voice-mitter') are also available.

Don't buy masks via mail-order or over the Internet as you can't be sure that they'll fit properly. Always buy them in person from a professional who knows what he/she is talking about. Be sure to get a mask fitted for everyone in the family. To my knowledge, there are currently no gas masks available for pets...

Bear in mind that, while gas masks are effective against most chemical and biological agents, they do not assure protection against everything. Be sure to get a gas mask that is certified to be effective against chemical and biological weapons agents.

Generally, for biological agents to be effective, they need to be between 1 and 5 microns in diameter. For this reason, regular surgical masks, which are relatively cheap, would protect you against almost all biological threats. Protection against chemical agents, however, requires a gas mask.

If you have a baby or a young infant who is reluctant to put on a gas mask during an attack, then don't waste time struggling. Strive instead, to get both yourself and the child to a safe place as quickly as possible. It's for this reason also, that it's vital that you practice proper gas mask usage with your family -- particularly young children.

Buying a gas mask

There are a number of important points to bear in mind when buying a gas mask:

While there have been some advances lately in the production of gas masks for women, children and people with smaller faces, a lot of the masks on the market are designed with the adult male (military) face in mind.

Be sure to buy a mask that fits perfectly otherwise it will only give you a false sense of security (there's no point in a filter that keeps out bacteria at 0.3 microns if you've got 1mm of space between your face and the mask (which is why you have to be clean-shaven before putting on the mask). Of course, you would need to have a mask fitted individually for every member of your family.

Make sure that your gas mask is certified against chemical and biological warfare agents. But, bear in mind that no matter how good the gas mask is, the filter will not protect you against everything. You may need to get different sets of filters with your mask to have the broadest protection possible. Be sure to discuss this issue thoroughly with potential suppliers before buying.

Don't buy your gas mask from surplus 'Army-Navy' type stores. The gas masks you'll find here have most likely been used in military exercises, may be out of date and very possibly contain flaws in the structure (small cracks or holes in the rubber). If you are buying a mask, buy one from a reputable manufacturer and buy it in person with every member of your family available for a fitting.

The best masks are those with HEPA filter* (ideally coupled with chromium-free impregnated carbon, that filters both inorganic warfare agents like cyanide, chlorine and phosgene, as well as organic agents like VX, sarin, tabun, mustard gas and lewisite). Some gas masks can even protect you against acid gases and ammonia.

Protective Suits

Appropriate protective clothing can prevent exposure through the skin.

Protective suits usually come with built-in boots and hood. They can protect against liquid and vapor chemical warfare agents, as well as against biological warfare agents.

Several sizes exist, including those for children.

Protective boots are usually designed especially to accommodate the extra bulk of a protective suit, and remain relatively easy to put on even if you're wearing protective gloves. Protective boots are usually knee high and have a high chemical resistance.

Protective gloves are extremely solid, they can be as thick as 25mm and have a particularly long chemical resistance, resisting most toxic/hazardous chemicals.

Like gas masks, I would need to question the practicality of buying protective suits. Obviously, you wouldn't be able to carry one around with you everywhere you go (you're kids would definitely draw the line on that one!), and the cost of keeping a suit everywhere is prohibitive.

And, like gas masks, you would need to know about the attack in time to get the suit on. And again, you may be putting yourself in danger as you struggle to put on the suit when you could, instead, be making sensible efforts to escape the gas cloud.

Preparing Emergency Energy, Light, and Communications

The loss of electricity and communications is something we more readily associate with a nuclear attack than a chemical or biological attack.  However, in the event of a long-term, sustained crisis, then anything can happen. If the disease was on the rampage and medical treatment wasn't available, then we could (in theory at least) find ourselves in the situation where there are simply no people available to operate essential services.

Please note, however, that this scenario is unlikely. The biological agents in existence today, would not cause enough widespread devastation to stop essential services for a long period. However, we don't know what new terror tomorrow may bring, so it's best to be fully prepared.

Generating Electricity

Portable Generators

In the event of a power failure, you will need to have a portable generator. Choose one keeping in mind what really needs to be powered (the refrigerator, a few lights, a radio). A portable generator is used where the device requiring electricity is plugged directly into the generator’s power outlets using an extension cord.

Generators are available fueled by gasoline, diesel, and propane. Keep in mind that the use of a generator is a short-term solution due to the amount of gasoline or other fuel you can safely store.  Generators emit deadly carbon monoxide and so should be placed outside the house where there is sufficient ventilation.

Alternative Power Sources

Electricity can be generated using alternative sources like wind energy or water energy. However, the most efficient source of alternative energy is generated from solar power. 

Solar electricity is generated when the sun shines on solar (Photovoltaic) panels. Solar panels range in size and power capability from a very small panel, capable of charging a couple of AA size batteries or powering a small radio -- to larger panels that could power several essential appliances. 

Another approach to using solar power is to equip yourself with a number of essential appliances (radio, lighting, etc.) with their own built-in solar panels.

Emergency Lighting

In order not to find yourself in the dark, the very minimum you need is:

A supply of candles. Ordinary candles are fine, but long-burning candles are recommended. Don’t forget to also store water-proof matches and/or a few cigarette lighters.

A few flashlights (battery operated, windup or solar powered).

Emergency Plug-in Lights...Ideally, your emergency lighting should be left plugged into strategically selected outlets in your home so that it will turn on automatically when power fails. Don’t forget to also store spare batteries and bulbs. See Additional resources for suppliers of emergency lighting.


If a crisis situation occurs, you need to know what is happening around you to help you plan. The minimum you need is a radio receiver. A radio capable of receiving short-wave bands is recommended.

Of course, a mobile phone can be indispensable in this kind of situation. A CB radio can also be useful in a long-term survival situation. A police scanner can be useful to stay abreast of the developing situation.

Preparing your water supply

Air: A person can go without air for only a few minutes.
Water: A person can survive without water for up to three days.
Food: A person can go without food for up to three weeks.

Let us firstly assume that the air is not contaminated and that you can breath safely. This leaves us with water and food. Water is considerably more important than food for our ability to survive a reasonable length of time.

This means that having a supply of safe water is essential to surviving a sustained crisis situation.

When it comes to water storage, you have basically two options: 1) buy bottles of water to store or 2) store tap water. The first option is the most convenient. But, if you are to store enough water to ensure your entire families survival over a sustained period, then this will be expensive. If it's stored properly, tap water is every bit as good as bottled water and, of course, it costs a lot less.

Storing your emergency tap water supplies

Choosing the proper containers to store your water is essential. These are the main options available to you:

Buy plastic containers which can be found in most stores. Be very careful to make sure that they are appropriate for water storage: if not, there is the risk that chemicals will penetrate the container and contaminate the water.

Disposable plastic soft drink bottles

Start collecting your soda and water bottles and build up your supply. Glass bottles are also safe, but are more difficult to store and too easily broken.

Use camping thermos jugs

Prepare the container for use by carefully wash the container and let it completely dry before filling it. Add some chlorine bleach, or hydrogen peroxide (about ten drops per gallon of water). This will kill most microorganisms, without having too much impact on the taste. Fill the container completely to the top, to force out all air. Store the water off the floor, in a place where it can't freeze (frozen water will expand and break the container), away from direct sunlight, and away from chemicals.

Purifying your emergency water supplies

No matter how much water you store, in a sustained crisis, you risk running out. For this reason, it's important that you have the means to purify more water. There are some water-purification chemicals available and even simply boiling it can be effective. However, the easiest and most reliable way to make water safe to drink is by using a water filter.

About water filters

The most common filters are ceramic filters impregnated with tiny quantities of silver that kill off harmful bacteria. Some ceramic filters are operated by hand-pumping action. A hose is placed into the unfiltered water, and the purified water exits via a spout into an appropriate container.

Others rely on gravity. Two thermos jugs sit on top of each other. The dirty water is poured in the top one and the filtered water drips into the bottom one. Some filters are a combination of a ceramic filter with a carbon filter that removes dangerous chemicals.

Preparing emergency food supplies

The food currently stored in your refrigerator and in your pantry has a relatively short shelf-life. This type of food will not keep you going very long in the event of a sustained crisis. To be properly prepared, you need to store food specially formulated for survival situations.

As a minimum you should aim to store enough food to meet the needs of your entire family for a week. Again, as with water, if you can reasonably build up a supply to keep you going over a longer period, then do so.

The cost of preparing a large stock of food is inevitably quite high. Consider buying a little each week and building it up over time.

Start looking for storage space

Finding enough storage space can be a problem especially when you want to stock enough supplies for several people.  Examine each room of your house. Chances are you'll find empty spaces that you had never considered useful but that will be perfect for storing your survival stocks (for example under beds).

The different types of food you should store

Canned Goods

Ready-to-eat soups, meats, vegetables and fruit. Stock a minimum of 3 cans per person per day.

Survival Food Bars

One bar will provide you with more than the normal daily requirements for vitamins and minerals. Survival food bars are very high in protein which will help you cope with stress. A typical bar contains 400 kcal. They have a long storage life (often 5 years) and can be stored without deteriorating even in very cold or very warm environments.

Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MREs)

Meals-Ready-to-Eat are army-style rations, sealed in triple-layered foil or plastic packs. They have a long storage life (usually 5 to 7 years) if stored in a cool environment (storing MREs at normal room temperature will cause the taste and nutritional values to deteriorate).

Meals-Ready-to-Eat don’t require the addition of water (except to the drink base) and they don't need any cooking or preparation.

Camping Pouch Products

Camping pouch products are either freeze dried or dehydrated. They are packaged in an aluminized foil pouch and have a shelf life of about 2 years when stored at room temperature. Many of these products don't require any cooking and only involve adding hot (or cold) water.

Long Shelf-life Food Supplies

This is the type of food you will want to store to prepare for a long term survival situation. This food is either freeze dried or dehydrated, packaged in double-enameled cans and has an expected shelf life of 10 to 15 years.


Keep in mind that dehydrated and freeze dried survival food need the addition of water.

Keep your food up to date. If some products are approaching the end of their shelf-life, then replace them with new ones.

Don’t forget that you'll need a can-opener!

Don’t forget to also store food for your pets!

Preparing emergency survival kits

In order to be able to react quickly, and get through the crucial early hours of a crisis, you should prepare a 'family survival emergency kit'.  This kit should contain a first-aid kit and first-aid instructions, emergency food, water, water-purifying chemicals and a water filter, some source of light and the other items that you may want or need in order to survive (like duct tape to seal off the room, a radio, medicines, hygiene necessities, baby needs, candles, matches, tin opener, clothing).

You can buy ready-made survival kits or you can also take care of preparing them yourself

Ideally, you should have enough identical kits, so that each member of the family can easily access one: at home, at work or school and in the car. At a minimum, you should have at least one kit in your 'safe room'.

Everyone in your family should know where to find the kit, what it contains and how to use it.

Family emergency drills are an excellent way to familiarize everyone with use of the survival kits (they can also be fun and a great psychological help if a real crisis ever occurs). You should run a drill every three to six months.

How much water do you need to store?

The recommended quantity of water to store is one Gallon (4.5 liters) per person per day, and ideally another gallon for cooking and washing. Use your judgement when deciding how big a stock of water you can reasonably keep.

Probably the best approach is to stock enough water to keep your family going for a week or two and have a water filter ready in case this isn't enough.  If you feel that you can reasonably stock enough water to keep your family going for a longer period, then go ahead and do so. The more the better.


It's important to periodically change the food and water of the kits with fresh food and fresh water. Like food, stored water doesn't keep for ever. Rotate your stored tap water every six months. Mark the fill date on each container so that you know when it's due to be updated. Empty the containers, clean them as explained above, and refill them with fresh water.

Your family emergency drills can also be an opportunity to consume outdated supplies before they are replaced.  You should also check that all the other contents of the kit are in good shape and functional.

If you family doesn't practice with will they take care of themselves if you are not there?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Prepare a safe room in your house

In order to be fully prepared for an emergency situation, you should designate a 'safe room' or shelter in your home. This is the room that you can 'seal' yourself and your family into in the event of an emergency.  This room will be useful in the event of a sustained crisis, but should also be prepared for any kind of attack (short or long).

The room you select for this purpose should meet these criteria as closely as possible

It should contain few doors and windows to the outside.

The room should be easy to seal off in the event of an attack.

If you live in a two-story home, the room should ideally be upstairs (as gases are heavier than air and will remain closer to the ground).

The room should be big enough for you, your family and your pets to be able to live together in relative comfort.

You should keep this room in a constant state of semi-preparedness by keeping essential emergency items stored there. At the very least, you should keep an emergency survival kit (see next section) there at all times.

Here are some of the items that you'll need to store in your safe room or bring with you when you enter it

Gas masks and protective clothing if you have them.

Strong duct tape to seal off doors and windows once you're inside.

A first-aid kit and first-aid instructions. Ideally you, or someone in your family, should take first-aid lessons.

Emergency lighting (you should keep an emergency lighting system plugged in in this room at all times, so that it will come on automatically in the event of a power cut).

A radio capable of receiving AM/FM and ideally short-wave. A TV might be useful and could certainly help pass the time, but is not essential.

Comfortable seating for everyone as well as mattresses, blankets and pillows.

Food and water or other drinks. Even in the event of a relatively short stay, hunger and thirst are likely to set in, so be prepared. You can find out more about preparing food and water stocks for a sustained emergency in the next sections of this book.

Chemical toilets and other sanitation needs. Even if your safe room has bathroom facilities, there is always the risk that water supplies be interrupted or even contaminated.

A telephone, if possible, for emergency use. Be sure to include a list of important telephone numbers (police, fire department, hospital, emergency coordinator etc.)

Personal medicines for any members of your family on medication.

Cleaning tools (broom, garbage bags, etc.)

A portable fan in the event of hot weather.

A fire extinguisher.

Toys, books, games and so on.

You may also want to consider buying a room filter that has a HEPA and charcoal filter. These can be bought in most major department stores and are effective in preventing the build up in most chemical or biological agents.

It's important that everyone in your family is fully aware of the safe room and its function in an emergency. Everyone should be given pre-designated duties to perform in the event of an emergency (one person is responsible for food, one for seating, etc.). Write out a detailed list of everything you need, so that in the event of an emergency, nothing will be forgotten.

You should start preparing the items for your safe room sooner rather than later and you should conduct emergency drills with your family every three to six months.

What you can do to prepare NOW

The worst case scenario could be a situation where there is extensive spread of a contagious disease (that medical authorities aren't able to effectively treat) and where the continued spread of the disease is difficult to halt.

In this case, you may find yourself confined to a secure shelter (either at home or elsewhere), avoiding all outside human contact until the 'all clear' is given.  Depending on the nature of the situation, this could be a question of days, weeks or - in an extreme, but unlikely, case - even months.

To prepare yourself and your family for this type of situation, there are a number of steps you can take

By taking these steps now, you can ensure that yourself and your family can survive an extended crisis - even in the event of scarce access to water, food, communications, electricity, medical help, and so on.

There are a number of things you will need to consider when preparing for a worst case scenario:

Preparing a 'safe room' at home

Preparing water supplies

Preparing food supplies

Emergency energy, lighting and communication

Emergency survival kits

Gas masks and protective clothing

Medical, hygiene and baby supplies

Psychological preparation

What is the worst case scenario?

Usually, a crisis is considered an 'emergency situation' when it lasts for up to two weeks. In most cases, the situation normalizes itself in less than 72 hours, and by then emergency units are operational, assisting people with shelter, water, food, clothing, and so on. 

Crises that are longer than two weeks are considered 'survival situations'

Depending on its scale, a biological attack has the capacity to go beyond 'normal' emergency situations and turn into a survival situation.  Firstly, as we've already seen, there's every chance that the biological attack will pass by unnoticed for several days or even weeks, giving itself plenty of time to cover a wide geographical region before action begins to be taken. This already makes containment of the disease more difficult.

Then it depends on the disease itself. Is it a common strand of a disease that can be treated with antibiotics? If so, the situation can be normalized in a relatively short period of time.  However, if it's a new, more resistant strain of a disease (or a new disease altogether) then treatment may be more difficult or even impossible.  In any case, it will take at least 48 hours to determine the qualities of the disease and our ability to treat it.

Even if it's determined to be a common strain of the disease, some vaccinations have been in storage for a long time, and it's not sure that they will still be effective. If not, it can take months or, possibly, years to develop new vaccines.  It is this type of scenario that can lead to a sustained crisis and a survival situation.

It is worth noting, that the chances of a crisis escalating to the point where you'll need to spend several months in a survival situation are very slim. However, a crisis that continues for several days or even weeks is possible.

For that reason, it is worth making some preparations in advance. It will put your mind at ease and, if a worst case scenario were ever to develop, you'll greatly increase you and your family's chances of surviving.

How to decontaminate yourself after exposure

Decontamination is the reduction or the removal of chemical or biological agents that you've come into contact with

If you've been contaminated with hazardous materials, you'll greatly improve their chances of survival by conducting personal decontamination.  In most cases, taking off your clothes will remove 80-90% of the potential contamination. Then wash yourself with water (or soap and water if possible).

Here are the three primary skin decontamination methods

Physical Removal:

Scraping (with a piece of wood, for example) can remove bulk agent by physical means. Washing the skin with water or a water/soap solution will physically remove or sufficiently dilute most contamination. Be sure to scrub well (using a stiff brush, if possible).

Absorbent Materials:

These can be used to reduce the quantity of chemical agent available for uptake through the skin. In emergency situations, dry powder such as flour, detergents or even soil may be useful. Flour followed by wiping with wet tissue paper is reported to be effective against the nerve agents soman, VX, and mustard gas.

Hypochlorite solutions:

These are effective in the decontamination of skin or other materials. Disinfectants such as bleach or Lysol spray or Clorox (which contain chlorine) will destroy most biological agents and are effective against the blistering agents. For biological agent exposure, you'll need to scrub yourself well with a chlorine solution for about 15 minutes. In the case of blistering agents, about 5 minutes should be enough.


Be sure to dilute the solution in water before you use it on your skin and rinse the solution thoroughly off your skin after use. You should use a 5% solution to decontaminate equipment and objects and a 0.5% solution to decontaminate your skin. A 5% solution is, for example, Clorox straight out of the bottle. A 0.5% solution is one part Clorox with 9/10 parts water.

NEVER decontaminate you face using hypoclorite solutions. Wash instead with soap and water. If possible, use an absorbent powder with wet tissue (as described above).

Chlorine is also available in tablet form. The tablets have the advantage of being easy to transport and store, and they have a longer shelf-life than liquid chlorine.  Ordinary laundry detergent with real chlorine bleach (as opposed to the non-chlorine type) is very effective against most agents.

Decontamination is an initial reaction to exposure. Once decontaminated, you should seek immediate medical attention.

There are some products available that can help you in the event of contamination or exposure.
Prepare a decontamination kit to include in your safe room with your emergency survival kit. The decontamination kit should include Clorox (or equivalent chlorine-based bleach), scrubbing brush(es), soap, damp swipes, plastic bin liners (to isolate contaminated clothing or materials), a change of clothing, detergent, tissues or cloths (to wipe surfaces) and an aerosol to spray surfaces (a used spray container like those used for window cleaners would be enough).

You can find many links online which explains in great detail how you can decontaminate yourself after a chemical or biological attack....just look it up, practice, practice, practice.

Some basic rules to surviving an attack

These are the things you should do once you become aware that you need to protect yourself from a toxic gas attack:

If you're in a building and the attack occurs inside the building then head for the nearest exit

If you're in a building and the attack occurs outdoors, don't attempt to exit - just follow rules 2 to 5 (below). 
If you’re outside and the attack is outside, immediately enter a house or building and follow the rules below.  

If there's no safe building nearby, try to determine the direction of the wind and move cross-wind. If you move down-wind you risk remaining exposed to the gas for a longer time. If you move up-wind you risk entering a more dense cloud of the gas. By moving cross-wind you have the greatest chance of getting out of the cloud quickly as most gases will move with the wind along a relatively narrow line.

If you’re in your car stay inside and attempt to drive away from the cloud (again cross-wind if possible)

Finally, avoid moving to low areas as the gas may become trapped there.

If you're indoors, move to a room that’s as far away from the source of the gas emission as possible. Upstairs is better than downstairs because these gases tend to be heavier than air so they remain close to the ground. 

Shut and lock all doors and windows. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, ventilation systems, all electrical appliances, and close all water and gas taps. Seal ventilators with tape, and preferably do the same around the doors and windows. If possible, place damp towels at the bottom of doors.

Tune in to a local radio station that is broadcasting official emergency information.

Cooperate with official instructions and stay put until you’re given the all clear by an official authority (don't rely solely on media reports, unless they are delivered by appropriate authorities). Be prepared to evacuate if given the official order to do so.

The points above apply mainly to the event of a gas attack or an attack involving the rapid spread of a non-contagious biological agent like anthrax.   In most circumstances, as we've already seen, the consequences of a biological attack will only begin to show up days or weeks after the attack itself.

In the event that you become aware of a biological attack having taken place

Go indoors immediately. Try to seal off a safe room to shelter in (as described in point 3 above).  Try to minimize contact with other people. 

Do the same things you would do to prevent the spread of colds and flus (wash your hands often, avoid close proximity to an infected person, wash surfaces and clothing that an infected person may have touched and avoid touching your eyes). These simple hygiene practices will do wonders to decrease your chances of infection and are very effective at halting the spread of infectious diseases.

Try to get information on how contagious the disease is, and how far it has spread. Listen to your radio and try contacting you local emergency coordinator's office for details (see Additional resources to find out how to locate your local coordinator). Follow any advice you're given by the authorities and the medical profession.

If your family members are in different places you will need to use your judgement on how to proceed. If they are in a safe environment in their workplace or school, then leave them there until the situation is normalized. If you have to go outside to pick up members of your family, and you don't have protective gear, then wear a damp cloth over your mouth and nose as a minimum first line of defense. Bear in mind, any member of your family could be infected and bring the disease home with them.

Tune in to a local radio station that is broadcasting official emergency information. Avoid using the telephone. It should be used for emergency calls only.

Be prepared to evacuate if given the official order to do so

At this point, it depends largely on the nature and extent of the problem. In a worst case scenario, you may find yourself 'trapped' in your home for a considerable period of time.

Try your best to be prepared for this possibility. We will be looking at how you can prepare yourself for this scenario in the next section of this book.


If you have a baby or a young infant, don't struggle to make him/her put on a gas mask during an attack. Strive instead, to get both yourself and the child to a safe place as quickly as possible. If possible, hold a wet t-shirt over his/her mouth and nose.

You should discuss all the points on this page with your family, with your child's school, and with your work colleagues to ensure that no matter where you and your family are, you're all in a good position to protect yourselves in the event of any kind of attack.

You should also visit your local hospital and find out how well prepared they are to cope with an emergency. A recent study along the east coast by the Journal of the American Public Health Association revealed that only 20% of hospitals had adequate emergency plans.

What could happen during or after an attack?

A chemical attack

Chemical attacks are relatively easy to detect and can be spotted quickly. A number of systems are in place (or are being put in place) to alert us to the presence of toxic chemicals. Having said that, with such a huge amount of potential targets to choose from, there's every chance that a chemical attack will have done most of its damage by the time any detection system kicks in.

Chemical agents would probably be delivered in gas form (with a crop duster or aerosols) or in liquid form (with a crop duster, aerosols or contamination of water supplies).  Another feasible scenario is that a common chemical agent like phosgene would be released in the air by blowing up a tanker or chemical plant. If you live close to a chemical plant, you should already be aware of procedures in case of an emergency.

A biological attack

The situation is different when it comes to biological attack. There are few detection systems that can pick up a biological attack (although some advances are being made on this front). It is most likely that it will take several days (depending on the incubation period and the concentration of the agent) before we recognize that we've been attacked.

The most likely scenario is that we would become aware of a biological attack when doctors begin to notice an increase in patients exhibiting the same symptoms. It is hoped that our doctors will be better trained in the ways of biological agents so that they can be on the lookout for suspicious symptoms.

The exception to this is anthrax which is not contagious. In the event of an anthrax attack, the scenario would probably be closer to the description of a chemical attack (above).

In either case...

If an attack occurs outdoors - whether it be chemical or biological - the agents will travel with the wind. It will not take very long for the agents to be dispersed in the air and diluted to the point where they present no further danger. The amount of time it takes depends on a number of factors like wind-speed, humidity, the concentration of the agent, temperature, and so on.

If an attack occurs indoors (in a large building or on the subway), then the agent will be carried through the ventilation systems.  In the case of a chemical attack, once the gas has dispersed the situation is over. However, in the case of a biological attack it may be just the beginning.

In most cases the biological attack itself will pass by unnoticed and will only show up, as I've said, when people start displaying symptoms. By then, depending on the incubation period, the disease may be considerably spread - even to cities and regions well away from the initial attack.

Attacks using the biological agent anthrax or most of the chemical agents is more likely to take place indoors where sufficiently dangerous concentrations of the poison can be more easily reached.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How to recognize a Chemical or Biological attack

These are some of the indications that a chemical attack may be taking place

You may notice a strange smell in the air.

You may notice people suffering from some of the symptoms of an attack (coughing, choking, gasping for air, suffering from pain in the eyes, falling unconscious, convulsing, etc.).

You may start to suffer from some of these symptoms yourself.

It may seem to be getting dark.

You may notice a cloud of gas, hear an explosion, spot a crop duster where it shouldn't be, or something else unusual.

You will hear about the attack via radio, TV or warning sirens.

Recognizing a biological attack

Depending on the nature of the attack, there's every chance that you will not notice anything unusual.

If the attack is with anthrax (which doesn't transmit from person to person), then you may notice unusual activity like those described in point 5 above.

However, if the attack involves spreading a contagious disease, then the terrorists will probably use a subtle approach (like putting it in a water supply or simply releasing it quietly among the general population). In this scenario, it will probably be days or weeks later - when more and more people start to suffer the initial symptoms of the attack - before you realize that it happened.

At this point it will be difficult to determine if you've been affected.

If you've any reason to suspect that you've been subject to a biological attack, follow the basic procedures described later and seek immediate medical attention.

Call your doctor or local hospital before visiting. This will prevent you spreading the disease to others - especially important medical staff. Follow whatever advice they give you on how to proceed.

Note: If you know that an attack has happened in your region, be on the look-out for flu-like symptoms. If you suffer these symptoms, call your doctor or local hospital immediately.

Can I minimize my chances of being a victim of a Chemical or Biological attack?

The world is a dangerous place to live in and we all do our best to get through life without too much incident or accident. We do this by living day to day. We avoid situations that we deem to be dangerous and we react to situations as they arise.

If we were to live our lives in fear of something that might happen and base our lives on protecting ourselves against this theoretical danger, then we risk making our lives miserable for no good reason.  In a nutshell, what I'm saying is, 'yes' take measures to be prepared for an attack if it happens, but 'no' don't go changing your life in an attempt to avoid that danger.

If you really do want to take measures to avoid the chances of being in an attack, then these are some points worth considering:
Avoid large crowds both outdoors and indoors.

Avoid going to large buildings that you consider may be subject to an attack (because it is high-profile and symbolic, because it houses a lot of important people, because it houses dangerous chemicals, etc.).

Avoid large centers of population.

As I say, these are points that you can consider if you really want to make an effort to avoid a potential attack.  But you shouldn't give up going to football matches, give up your job or move home out of fear of attack. This would be giving in to the terrorist aim of intimidating and frightening you. 

We live in a world filled with uncertainty. Learn to adapt without changing your ways. Stay diligent and alert, but continue living your life.