Monthly Archives: December 2014

“My Town Disappeared”

large explosionThere is an ongoing crisis with train derailments that result in fiery explosions.  These explosions happen when tanker cars that are ill-equipped to withstand collisions are used to transport crude oil.  The oil usually originates in North Dakota, whose oil industry has grown so fast over the last few years that it is now second only to Texas as an oil-producing state.   North Dakota doesn’t have any oil pipelines, so in order to get the oil to the refineries, the oil companies transport it by train.  And they transport the oil in tanker cars called DOT111’s, which were not designed or built to transport hazardous material.

One such explosive derailment took place in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada on July 6, 2013.  Forty-seven people were killed in that small town and a large portion of the town was destroyed.  As one townsperson described it, “My town disappeared.”  You owe it to yourself to take ten minutes and educate yourself on this issue.  Watch this video prepared jointly by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News:

Now, don’t console yourself by thinking that this is one incident that took place in Canada.  It is, in fact, one of several incidents.  Similar incidents have taken place in Virginia, Alabama and North Dakota as well as in Alberta and New Brunswick in Canada.

In addition to the deaths that have occurred, the explosions result in environmental degradation.  Toxic fumes, destruction of property, disruption of utilities and emergency services in the town, contamination of the water supply and other hazardous consequences have occurred or could occur from accidents like these.

In light of this, you need to ask yourself what you would do if something like this happened and your town disappeared.  Do you have several alternate routes out of town, so that you always have a way to go away from the hazard?  Are you prepared with alternate destinations?  Is your bug-out bag ready, one for every member of the family?  Does your bug-out bag contain enough cash to pay for an inexpensive hotel for a couple of nights?  Is your gas tank at least half full?

These disasters are horrendous.  Although, in the big scheme of things, you can predict that these derailments will continue to happen, any particular incident comes completely out of the blue.  You can’t prevent or predict them and you probably can’t avoid them.  But you can prepare yourself in advance to be able to weather the catastrophe.

What do you think are some of the most important steps in prepping to survive a similar disaster?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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What’s Your Evacuation Plan?

Firefighters fighting fireBefore an emergency happens, develop an evacuation plan.  Or rather, develop a series of evacuation plans.

Short-Range Evacuation

The first type of plan that you need is for a short-range evacuation.  Plan this for an emergency that happens to your home, such as a fire or gas leak.  Use this plan when the emergency doesn’t extend beyond your home to your neighborhood or town.  Your plan should include a spot where all family members will gather to be able to check in with each other, assess the emergency and take further action.  A neighbor’s house can be a good option, or a local place of business that is open nights and week-ends.

Medium-Range Evacuation

The second type of emergency evacuation plan is more medium-range but with the understanding that you can reach your destination on foot.  This is your plan for a fire or other emergency that extends beyond your home to other homes on the block or possibly more of the neighborhood.  It may also be necessary in times of civil unrest.  Agree to meet your family members at a location outside of your immediate neighborhood.  Plan a couple of different routes in case streets are blocked.

Long-Range Evacuation

Then, finally, make long-range evacuation plans that will get you out of town.  Rehearse with your family every step along the way.  First, you meet at the short range or medium range meeting location.  Then, once your family is together, proceed with your long-range plan.

Consider all your options.  Even if you can and would prefer to drive, research public transportation routes.  Choose two or three possible destinations.  You want to have a couple of places pre-planned in case one of them is facing the same emergency that your town is facing.  Pick homes of out-of-town family members and friends.  When you discuss your plan with those family members and friends, encourage them to make their own emergency evacuation plans and offer to reciprocate as their safety destination.

Decide on at least two alternate routes for each of your destinations.  Again, you don’t want to be trapped when a road is closed.  And don’t forget that if your town is experiencing an emergency, roads will be crowded with other fleeing families.  You should learn the routes well enough to be able to navigate them without assistance but you should still take paper maps with you in case roads are closed or you have to improvise at the last minute.  GPS systems may not work and your cell phone may go out, so be sure to have paper maps as a back-up.

Evacuation Tips

When an emergency arises, you may need to evacuate your home and move to a close-range location, evacuate your neighborhood and move to a medium-range location or evacuate your town and hit the road.  Don’t wait until the emergency arises before you decide where to go or how to get there.  Come up with alternative destinations and routes now.

Conduct drills with your family.  Drills not only teach your family what the plan is, they also help you identify deficiencies in your plan and improve it.

Get in the habit now, before there is an emergency, of keeping your gas tank at least half full.  You don’t want to have to stop and wait in line for gas and run the risk of shortages or increased prices at the moment that you need to activate your plan.

And in each case, whether short-range, medium-range or long-range, be sure to grab your bug-out bag on the way out the door.

Make a plan and work to practice and improve it.  Knowing that you can keep your family safe in an emergency brings peace of mind.

What are your experiences with your plans?  Have you made your plans, practiced them or implemented them?  Let us learn from your experiences — share them in the comments.

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Know When You Need To Bug Out

Prepared ConceptYou’ve either bought a bug-out bag kit for each member of the family or you have built one from scratch.  You have made your evacuation plans and practiced them with your spouse, children, pets and anyone else that you consider family.  You’ve got your paper maps, compass and alternative routes ready.  You always keep your gas tank at least half full, but you know that if you need to bug out, you may have to do it on foot.

So when do you need to bug out?

It’s time to bug out when the place you are in is at risk of becoming unsafe.  Don’t wait until you are actually in danger.  Leave before the danger comes.

The danger can be due to any number of things — a severe weather event, civil unrest, a contaminate hazard, a terrorist attack, or anything else that puts you and your loved ones in harm’s way.

If you live near a chemical plant, you should be aware that both corporate and government officials can and will cover up the potential harm in the event of a discharge.  Don’t wait for their advice.  Pick up and go.  And keep alert to news events.  A tanker car on a train or truck can be damaged in transit and discharge toxic materials.  Evacuate — in the opposite direction of the accident.

Leave if there is a city-wide blackout.  Criminals love to hide under cover of darkness.  Likewise, if the 911 system goes down, you should bug out.  When there is no way to communicate with law enforcement, the entire city is at risk.  Don’t wait  it out, hoping for the best.  And don’t risk your life trying to protect your property.  Take matters into your own hands and leave.

In the case of a serious weather event, bug out before government officials tell you to.  Don’t delay until the roads are congested with people who wait until the last minute to leave.  You may end up stranded on a crowded road as the blizzard or hurricane bears down on you.

Much of what I advise you to do on this blog is to plan and prepare.  You must do that.  But you also must act resolutely and unapologetically if a bug-out-worthy event is imminent.

Have you ever bugged out?  Or didn’t and wished you had?  Leave a note in the comments and let us know your story.  Or share your thoughts about your planning and preparation.

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