Tag Archives: emergency preparedness

All the Preps…..Jonas

If you have been following our bathroom remodel, sorry to say that it was put on hold for the last week. Although I do have at least one post to do about it, this week has been spent preparing for the inevitable Jonas Storm hitting the east coast. I am not a doomsday prepper, but I do seriously believe in prepping for the eventuality-nay reality-of natural disasters; like winter storm Jonas.

It is not just about going to the local big box and buying up all the necessities: water, milk, bread, toilet paper, etc. Although these are good items to make sure you have on hand.  There are a lot of other preparing depending on the disaster that is going to hit. It our case in Baltimore-Blizzard Jonas.

Since our chicken coop is a mile from our house (due to local 0123 2440123 245regulations), I went and took the time to wrap the entire coop in a heavy mil plastic to keep the majority of the snow at least outside. But with 60-70 mph wind gusts, I hope it will hold up.

I did make it to the coop yesterday morning and it seemed to be fine, but the worst of the storm did not really hit until yesterday afternoon. I am stuck this morning-even 4-wheel drives are not moving for a while because of the 4-5ft snow drifts surrounding them.

0123 240Next I concerned myself with the rabbits. Although rabbits handle cold well, I really did not want to worry about trudging through the snow to take care of them. So we decided to move them into the greenhouse.

There is not really much room in the greenhouse, but I nestled them into the back corner, covering the rear entrance. We use this entrance very little and with snow piled outside, the likelihood of needing it was less.

Yeti 1200 w/ two solar panels (in case)
Yeti 1250 w/ two solar panels (in case)
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Yeti 1200 and 150
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Full charge on Yeti 1250

 

 

 

 

You can never have enough good batteries, especially if you get into a grid down situation. So on my stock up trip to Costco, I did buy extra batteries. I also made sure that my solar powered generators, batteries, and lights were fully charged. I love Goal Zero’s products, so I have most of their product line and solar panels. We do have a Honda gas fired generator, which I fueled and started just to make sure there were no issues.

So in comes Jonas! I did everything I could to be ready, but it seems, there could always be more. I forgot to dig out my heavy hat, gloves, boots and scarves. It was not too bad rounding them up, but I could have had them out and ready.

Spent most of yesterday transporting essential personnel. My wife is a nurse, so not going to work is not an option! I was hoping she would not get stuck there all weekend, but that all depended on transport picking up the personnel that could not drive in. They were able to get fully staffed so my wife was able to leave at the end of her regularly scheduled shift. But she did have to get a ride in this morning since my 4wd is plowed in!

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I did take a little time to dig out the greenhouse entrance so I could feed the rabbits and fish, as well as check on the aquaponics operation. Although it was nice and toasty in the greenhouse, I was a little concerned about the amount of snow laying on our windows. Since we used conservatory windows, they are not built to withstand holding that much weight. I thought starting a fire in the Rocket Mass Heater might help to melt it off a little quicker.

The rest of my day was spent, shoveling and snow-blowing to insure that emergency personnel could get on our street if need be. The majority of my neighbors are either elderly or disabled, so it falls on the few of us able bodied to keep the road and driveways open to essential personnel.

My neighbors son-in-law, my brother-in-law, and I dug out most houses on the street. We live on a short section of one-way street, so there are only 10 houses on the block. Out of the 10, we dug out 6 before the worst of the storm hit.  At this point we had already had about 15-18 inches, so I thought it would make it easier on us this morning.

Most of the work we did yesterday was gone! The winds, gusting up to 70mph, re-covered everything and pretty much buried any vehicle.  There are a few people out shoveling, blowing now and I will join them soon, even though I am still trying to recover from yesterday.

I do love snow but Baltimore ended in a new single snowfall record of 29.3 inches. Add the wind to the mix and this was definitely one of the worst storms to hit our area in my lifetime. We are looking at cloudy skies and sun for the next week, so we should be able to recover quickly and get Baltimore “open for business” again!

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Two Months….

It has been two months since I have shared anything. I thought it was only a few weeks, but regardless, not good for anyone blogging. These last two months have been so eventful and packed full of activities that it is hard to determine where to start.

Of course, trying to get ready for winter has been a priority. Cleaning the little homestead, pulling up the garden beds, pruning trees and arbor, laying new wood chips around the garden paths, mulching trees to protect roots from winter, cleaning out aquaponics tanks, setting up greenhouse, readying the animals (rabbits, chickens, bees) etc, etc, etc. I have pictures and will post more later….

Fortunately so far this year it has been very mild for us. We have stayed pretty consistently in the 50’s and 60’s-a good 15-20 degrees above normal for the Mid-Atlantic Region. They are even calling for 72 degrees on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Day in the 60’s! It has given me some extra time at least to get our gardens and yard together.

We have had a few health scares as well, both myself and my wife. My Melanoma keeps spreading, so keeping on top of it with my doctor has to be a priority. I was also diagnosed with C.O.P.D. not bad enough yet for oxygen, but fatigue and shortness of breath set in quickly.

My wife ended up with the hospital with what they determined a cardiac “episode” I guess they determine an episode when they cannot truly find anything, but all symptoms seemed like a heart attack to me. AT least enough to transport by ambulance instead of taking a chance driving her. She is back to normal, just have to be sure to see a heart specialist after Christmas to, if nothing else, get baseline readings.

We moved into our little homestead in 2005, with a plan to remodel the bathrooms and kitchen within a short time. We did do our guest bathroom about 4 years ago when my brother-in-law became disabled and moved in with us, but have not made progress on the other bath or kitchen. The beginning of November came and we made the determined decision to gut our primary bathroom. This is currently a work in progress, which was hoping to have done by Christmas, but things happen. We should be done early in the new year and I will do a post on the rehab as well as having a lot of pictures. Stay tuned…

Well, for now, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I will start posting more regularly again very soon!

Emergency Readiness in the Neighborhood

Emergency responseThe last few weeks I have been writing about the classes we undertook sponsored by the Maryland Department of Emergency Management(MEMA): Neighbors Helping Neighbors. (Previous posts:Sustainable & Resilient Communities, Disaster Readiness) Our final class was this past week and I am really thrilled that I took the time to be involved.

Since we moved to Maryland (August 2003) most of our natural disasters have only caused service interruptions of a week or less. If you remember the date, Hurricane Isabel hit us 2 weeks after we moved in to our nice little row home just across the street from waterfront. We quickly became educated in the need for preparing for these eventualities. Maybe it is 12 years later but the class was our next step in being ready and further educating us on areas where we may be weak.

The class information was well prepared and very well presented for anyone who is interested in not only being prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster, but those concerned about others within a community.

The overall takeaway from the class was getting oneself ready for eventual disasters or emergencies that may come along. Living on the east coast, our potential for hurricanes and flooding put us in a category of not if but when they will occur.

Although important to have a good mental attitude for any situation,Hurricane-Sandy but having a few supplies carefully crafted and stored is key to being in a position to survive AND to help others that are in need during a crisis.

FEMA & MEMA both recommend 3-7 days of necessary supplies, while our instructors think a 10 day supply is more adequate. I tend to lean in the more category, being somewhere between 10 and 30 days.

The basics of any emergency stock:

  • Water-The suggested amount of water is 1 gal per person per day. With only 3 people in our household now (I sure this number will triple in case of real emergency-kids and their families) That means for a 14 day supply, we would need at minimum 42 gallons of fresh water.  (# people X # days = absolute minimum gallons needed)
  • Food-This is a gray area as to the amount needed, but having a good stock of foods on hand will be important to any survival plan.  Be sure that it is shelf stable, long term storage. Don’t depend on fresh or frozen since during a heavy disaster there will most likely be no way to store these foods.  If storing up canned foods (store bought) be sure to pack a can opener! Enter the homesteader: someone who grows and maintains a constant stream of food through gardening, aquaponics, or small animal husbandry. (rabbits, chickens, etc) Although as a suburban homesteader, we have home canned and dehydrated foods, we also have the ability with our greenhouse and aquaponics to refresh our food supply.
  • Radio & flashlight-Needless to say these need to be battery operated and you will not be able to just plug and play in a grid down emergency. This could be supplemented with the use of portable solar power. Having a rechargeable battery pack through the use of solar panels makes life a little easier in the worst of disasters. I personally like Goal Zero products.
  • Basic first aid-Bandages, compresses, eye wash, topical creams, scissors, tweezers, etc. During a disaster there is always the potential for some minor medical needs. Along with first aid, do you have anyone in your care that takes prescription medications on a regular basis? Having at least an extra month of those meds on hand could make the difference in that person surviving.
  • Extra clothes, blankets, and compact emergency tools-I am talking an emergency supply bag, many may call it a bug-out bag, but no matter what you call it, it is a part of necessary preparedness.

If you are not able to maintain yourself and family, how are you going to be a benefit to those in need in your community?

For more in depth information I invite you to visit one of my favorite websites. A. H. Trimble , instructor, teacher, author in the art of being prepared for any emergency situation.

 

Positive Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness

Have you been reading our friends’ guest posts about Emergency Readiness?  Now here are some suggestions to developing a Positive Mental Attitude to insure your readiness for any emergency or disaster!

hoose your attitude
Your main concern as someone dealing with an emergency situation is your safety and the safety of your fellow human beings . As you can see; from the previous series of posts, ( Important mental attitude in an emergency ) you are going to experience an assortment of thoughts and emotions. These can work against you or they can work for you if you develop a positive mental attitude that’s ready for emergencies!
Fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, depression , loneliness, boredom, and guilt, are all possible reactions to the many stresses common in a emergency. These reactions, when managed in a healthy way, help to increase the  likelihood of successfully handling an emergency. They can prompt you to pay more attention in training, to fight back when scared, to take actions that ensure sustenance and security, to keep faith with others involved in the situation, and to strive to succeed no matter the odds.
When you cannot control these reactions in a healthy way, they can bring you to a standstill. Instead of rallying your internal resources, you begin to listen to your internal fears and experience  psychological defeat long before you physically succumb. Remember, desire for survival is natural to everyone; being unexpectedly thrust into the life and death struggle of survival is not. Don’t be afraid of your “natural reactions to this unnatural situation.” Prepare yourself to manage these reactions so they serve your interest of staying safe and alive with your honor and dignity intact. This involves preparation to ensure that your reactions in a emergency setting are productive, not destructive.
Emergencies  have produced countless examples of heroism, courage, and self-sacrifice. These are the qualities emergencies  can bring out in you if you have prepared yourself. In the following posts in this series are a few tips to help prepare yourself psychologically for emergencies. Through reading these posts, personal study and attending training you can develop a positive mental attitude that’s ready for emergencies!

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 7

Humans are social. This means, as human beings, we enjoy the company of others. Very few people want to be alone all the time.lonliness With this in mind, there is a distinct chance of isolation in an emergency setting. This is not necessarily  always bad. Loneliness and boredom can bring to the surface qualities you thought only others had. The extent of your imagination and creativity may surprise you. When required to do so, you may discover some hidden talents and abilities. Most of all, you may tap into a reservoir of inner strength and fortitude you never knew you had. Conversely, loneliness and boredom can be another source of depression. As someone dealing with an emergency alone, or with others, you must find ways to keep your mind productively occupied. Additionally, you must develop a degree of self-sufficiency. You must have confidence  in your capability to “go it alone.”
This brings us to the possible feeling of Guilt.
The circumstances leading to your being in an emergency situation are sometimes dramatic and tragic. It may be the result of an accident, a poor choice, unwise decision, or even a natural or manmade disaster where there was a loss of life. Perhaps you were the only one, or one of a few, to survive. While naturally relieved to be alive, you simultaneously may be mourning the deaths of others who were less fortunate. It is not uncommon for survivors to feel guilt about being spared from death while others were not. This feeling, when used in a positive way, has encouraged people to try harder to survive with the belief they were allowed to live for some greater purpose in life. Sometimes, survivors tried to stay alive so that they could carry on the work of those who didn’t  make it. Whatever reason you give yourself, do not let guilt feelings prevent you from living. The living who abandon their chance to survive accomplish nothing. Such an act would be a great tragedy and does not honor those who have passed away!

Did you miss any of the series? Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5part 6

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 6

Frustration arises when a person is continually thwarted in their  attempts to reach a goal. The goal in an emergency is to staydepression safe and alive until you can reach help or until help can reach you. To achieve this goal, the you may have to complete some tasks with minimal resources. It is inevitable, in trying to do these tasks, that something will go wrong that is beyond the your control; and with one’s life at stake, every mistake is magnified in terms of its importance. Thus, sooner or later, we will have to cope with frustration when a few of our plans run into added difficulty.
One outgrowth of this frustration is anger. There are many events in a emergency situation that can frustrate or anger a person. Getting lost, damaged or forgotten equipment, the weather, inhospitable terrain, hostile people, and physical limitations are just a few sources of frustration and anger. Frustration and anger encourage impulsive reactions, irrational behavior, poorly thought out decisions, and, in some instances, an “I quit” attitude (people sometimes avoid doing something they can’t master). If the person can harness and properly channel the emotional intensity associated with anger and frustration, they can productively act as they answer the challenges of the situation. If the person does not properly focus their angry feelings, they can waste much needed energy in activities that do little to further either their chances of success  or the chances of those around them.
Depression; it would be a rare person indeed who would not get sad, at least momentarily , when faced with the deprivations of a life or death situation. As this sadness deepens we label the feeling “depression.” Depression is closely linked with frustration and anger. The frustrated person becomes more and more angry as they fail to reach their goals. If the anger does not help the person to succeed, then the frustration level goes even higher. A destructive cycle between anger and frustration continues until the person becomes worn down physically, emotionally, and mentally. When a person reaches this point, they start to give up, and their focus shifts from “What can I do” to “There is nothing I can do.” Depression is an expression of this hopeless, helpless feeling. There is nothing wrong with being sad as you temporarily think about your loved ones and remember what life was like back in “normal times” . Such thoughts, in fact, can give you the desire to try harder and live. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to sink into a depressed state, then it can sap all your energy and, more important, your will to live. It is imperative that each person resist succumbing to depression.
Did you miss the first parts of the series? Catch up now.

Read the final installment of the series: part 7

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 5

People have been able to survive many shifts in the environment throughout the centuries. Their ability to adapt physically andLincoln Quote mentally to a changing world have kept them alive while other species gradually died off. The same mechanisms that kept our forefathers alive can help keep us alive as well! However, these same mechanisms that can help us can also work against us if we don’t understand and anticipate their presence.

It is not surprising that the average person will have some psychological reactions in an emergency situation. We will now examine some of the major internal reactions we might experience with the stressors addressed in the earlier posts. Let’s begin by examining fear and anxiety. Fear is our emotional response to dangerous circumstances that we believe have the potential to cause harm such as illness, injury, or death. This harm is not just limited to physical damage; the threat to one’s emotional and mental well-being can generate fear as well. For the person trying to deal with an emergency situation , fear can have a positive function if it encourages them to be cautious in situations where recklessness could result in injury.

Unfortunately, fear can also immobilize a person. It can cause them to become so frightened that they fail to perform activities essential for survival. Most people will have some degree of fear when placed in unfamiliar surroundings under adverse conditions. There is no shame in this! Each person must train themselves  not to be overcome by fear. Ideally, through realistic training, we can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to increase our confidence and thereby manage our fears. Associated with fear is anxiety. Because it is natural for us to be afraid, it is also natural for us to experience anxiety. Anxiety can be an uneasy, apprehensive feeling we get when faced with dangerous situations (physical, mental, and emotional). When used in a healthy way, anxiety urges us to act to end, or at least manage, the dangers that threaten our existence. If we were never anxious, there would be little motivation to make changes in our lives. The person in an emergency setting reduces their  anxiety by performing those tasks that will ensure coming through the ordeal alive. As they reduce anxiety, they  also bring under control the source of that anxiety–their fears. In this form, anxiety is good; however, anxiety can also have a devastating impact. Anxiety can overwhelm a person to the point where they become easily confused and have difficulty thinking. Once this happens, it becomes more and more difficult for them to make good judgments and sound decisions. To effectively deal with an emergency, we must learn techniques to calm our anxieties and keep them in the range where they help, not hurt us.
In our next post we will get right to the point and look at frustration, anger, and depression.

Did you miss Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4?

Read the rest of the series: part 6, part 7

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 4

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Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities in an emergency situation one may have to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from hostile activity, an accident, or from eating something deadly. Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to move, get drink or food, find shelter, or defend yourself. Even if illness and injury don’t lead to death, they add to stress through the pain and discomfort they generate. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that a person  can have the courage to take the risks associated with tasks needed in an emergency situation .

Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear cut. The only guarantee in a emergency situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings. This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, or injured.

Even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In an emergency , a person will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges awaiting the person striving to survive the emergency situation. Depending on how a person handles the stress of their environment, their surroundings can be either a source of important resources such as  food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death.

Without water and food, a person will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving water and food takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a emergency situation  increases. For a person used to having their groceries available at a store, foraging can be a big source of stress. Forcing yourself to continue living  is not as easy as you grow more tired. It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself.

There are some advantages to facing adversity with others. As Individuals we learn different  skills, but as part of a society we actually learn (sometimes unknowingly) to function as part of a team. Although we, as individuals sometimes may complain about authority and government, we become used to the information and guidance it provides, especially during times of confusion. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling that someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in emergency situations  is that often a person or family  has to rely solely on its own resources.

The stressors mentioned in this post are by no means the only ones you may face. Remember, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Your experiences, training, personal outlook on life, physical and mental conditioning, and level of self-confidence contribute to what you will find stressful in a emergency environment. The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors you face and make them work for you.

We now have a general knowledge of stress and the stressors common to emergencies ; the next step is to examine our reactions to the stressors we may face.

Did you miss earlier posts?

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Read the rest of the series: part 5, part 6, part 7

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 3

attitude2Any event can lead to stress, as everyone has experienced, events don’t always come one at a time. Often multiple stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called stressors. Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response. Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself.

In response to a stressor, the body prepares either a   “fight or flight.” response. This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, several actions take place. The body releases stored fuels (sugar and fats) to provide quick energy; breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood; muscle tension increases to prepare for action; blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts; senses become more acute (hearing becomes more sensitive, eyes become big, smell becomes sharper) so that you are more aware of your surrounding and heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles. This protective posture lets a person cope with potential dangers; however, a person cannot maintain such a level of alertness indefinitely.

Stressors are not courteous; one stressor does not leave because another one arrives. Stressors add up. The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together. As the body’s resistance to stress wears down and the sources of stress continue (or increase), eventually a state of exhaustion arrives. At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. It is therefore essential that the person in an emergency setting be aware of the types of stressors they will encounter. Let’s take a look at a few of these in part 4.

Did you miss Part 1 or part 2?

Read the rest of the series: part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7

Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness-Part 2

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As strange as it may seem, we need stress because it has many positive benefits. Stress provides us with challenges; it gives us a chance to learn about our values and strengths. Stress can demonstrate our ability to handle pressure without breaking, it tests our flexibility and adaptability, it can stimulate us to do our best. Because we usually do not consider unimportant events stressful, stress can also be an excellent indicator of the significance we attach to an event. In other words, it highlights what is important to us.

Some stress, in our lives can be a positive thing, but too much of almost anything can be bad. The goal is to have some stress, but not an excess of it. Too much stress can take its toll on a person. Too much stress leads to distress. Distress causes an uncomfortable tension that we try to escape and preferably avoid. Listed below are a few of the common signs of stress you may find yourself, your family members or coworkers when faced with too much stress;

Difficulty making decisions

Angry outbursts

Forgetfulness

Low energy level

Constant worrying

Propensity for mistakes

Thoughts about death our suicide

Trouble getting along with others

Withdrawing from others,

Hiding from responsibilities

Carelessness,

Stress can be constructive or destructive, encouraging or discouraging, it can move us along or stop us in our tracks, make life meaningful or meaningless. Stress can inspire you to operate successfully and perform at your maximum efficiency in an emergency situation. It can also cause you to panic and forget all your training. The key to your success is your ability to manage the inevitable stresses you encounter. The person who overcomes stress in an emergency situation is the one who works WITH their stress instead of letting their stress work on them.

In the next post we will discuss stressors that may be encountered in an emergency and touch on some of our physical responses to them.

Did you miss Part 1?

Read the rest of the series: part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7