Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Minute Preps

winnond-freedigitalphotos.net
     Here are just a few last minute things to do before tomorrow:  

  • Recharge all rechargeable batteries. 

  • Fully charge all cell phones.

  • Have all members shower before this evening.
  • Turn up your refrigerator to a colder temperature so food will stay longer.
  • You can also turn up your AC if you don’t mind the cold.
  • Make sure all flashlights and radios function properly.
  • Have a few alternate forms of entertainment, especially if you have children (i.e. board games, cards, books, etc.)
  • Fill a few pots, pans or buckets with tap water before you go to bed tonight.
  • Fill your bathtub with water if you feel you do not have enough water stocked.
  • Prepare a slimmed down lightweight version of a B.O.B. for each family member.
  • Figure out where you would go in case you did have to bug-out from your apartment or home (i.e. shelter, friend’s home etc.)
  • Precook some essential foods like pasta and rice. Keep them in a container in the fridge until you need them. You can eat them cold if forced to. (Quick tip: If you have uncooked pasta, rice, or dehydrated beans they can be reconstituted without cooking by being soaked in cold water for at least 24 hours.)

     Remember, the storm might only last a day, but the effects can last much longer.  You and your family should be prepared to survive without basic utilities for at least a week.  Stay safe! JV

allvoices

Friday, August 26, 2011

Last Minute NYC Hurricane Preppers' Guide

     At this point, the masses have gotten wind of the seriousness of this storm.  I feel that people are much more tuned into disasters over the last few years, especially after the media has found that disasters make good TV.  Now I’m not saying everyone out there is going to turn into preppers, I’m pointing out that many have learned to listen to the warnings a bit more willingly.

     If you are not prepped for this storm yet (i.e. adequate water, food, sanitation needs, candles, and batteries) you probably won’t be.  When a disaster is upon us, people tend to mass buy supplies.  This leaves a huge gap in stocks, especially for an island who imports all of its goods on a daily basis.  This post is meant for those of you who are un- or underprepared and have decided to not “bug-out”.  If you have a good amount of supplies for your family members, you should read my previous article if you have not already.  If you are looking for more information on hurricane preps for future storms, check out this article here.  It is not perfect as it does not apply to New Yorkers directly, but it’s a nice base.  I will do a post sometime in the future on hurricane preps that will apply to New Yorkers.

     At this point, you have either said to yourself “this storm will fizzle like all the other hurricanes of our lifetimes” (if you grew up in the tri-state area) and it didn’t.  Or you’re starting to realize that this is going to be bad because it’s pretty much on top of us.  Either way, it doesn’t matter anymore because you now have to figure out how to get through it with limited supplies.  The good news is that you will most likely only have to deal with crappy conditions for a day or two.  Remember that you can live without food for three weeks.  Water, you’re not quite as lucky though, because most of us will die within three days, and the last day will be a bad one to say the least.

     Since this hurricane is happening at a very temperate time, we are fortunate enough to not have to throw exposure (the number one killer of outdoor survival scenarios) into the equation.  Even if you are forced into the water for some unforeseen reason, your chances of survival will be high due to the temperature.  Provided you can swim of course. So that leaves your water, food, and sanitation needs.

     Potable water is going to be by far the most important item for you and your family. If you do not have enough for each person (about one gallon per day) then I suggest filling your pots, pans, and anything else that can hold water before the storm arrives.  Try and fill these things up Saturday before you go to bed.  You can also fill your bathtub with water if you don’t have enough containers.  The bathtub water can be used for things like cleaning (dishes, posts, pans, or yourself.)  Remember that the water from your taps may flow after the surge, but the water can be possibly infected from cross contamination with sewage.  Make sure nothing gets in the water you will consume, and try and cover all containers.  You can purify water by boiling it (if the gas or electric stay on) or by using small amounts of bleach.  Here is an article on purifying water with bleach explaining how much bleach, and how long you should let it stand.  You can, in a pinch, stick a container in a secure spot to catch rain, as rain water can be consumed.  Just make sure to taste it first, as hurricanes can have a mix of salt and fresh water.  You also should sanitize it before you drink it to be safe.

     The next thing you should be thinking of is food.  As I mentioned earlier, a healthy human can last upwards of three weeks without food if necessary.  It won’t be fun, but it is possible.  Hopefully the disaster will only last a few days at the most, but there is no telling.  If you have a limited amount of food in the apartment, you can ration it out until you can get more.  I’m guessing you will at least have some form of food in your apartment, so get creative.  If the utilities go out, and you have no way of warming food, remember that you can eat canned foods cold.  They won’t taste great, but at least you won’t starve.  If you happen to have a portable stove like one from a camping store, remember to crack a window because they release carbon monoxide.

     Sanitation can be a little iffy for New Yorkers if we flood and or lose utilities for an extended period of time.  The water in the taps should be considered contaminated, so I would not suggest bathing or showering until you get the word that the water is safe again.  You also need to be careful with your toilets, as they will back up if the utility company’s pumps don’t run.  I recommend only flushing when you have to.  To keep yourself from feeling dirty if you don’t get to shower for a day or two, I suggest using baby wipes to wipe yourself down if you have them.  You can also use potable water and a clean wash cloth with a bit of soap to spot clean.

     I didn’t mention a lighting source, because it is not essential to survival.  Lighting is more of a luxury.  If you don’t have candles or flashlights in your home, you will have to do what the old timers did and go to bed at sundown and rise at sunup. Batteries are another luxury, so I won't get into it.  One thing I will mention here is to charge your cell phones the night before the storm and to use them sparingly if we lose electric.


     The last thing I would like to bring up is a bug-out bag, or what the media is calling a “go-bag”. You should have a bag with a few supply ready to go and easy to carry in a conveniently located spot. The bag should be filled with a few basic supplies that I go over below. The bag is a last resort, as you should not be running outside during a hurricane unless your life is in danger.
  • Clothing - Basic shirt, socks, don't worry about pants as you can use the pair you have on.
  • Cash - Try and get $100 or so out of the bank in case we lose electricity.
  • Toiletries - Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper
  • Medicine - Make sure to have any medications you take.
  • Rope - Rope has a million uses, if you have any in the apartment bring it as you will need it.
  • Water - If you have a proper water container, try and carry a liter or so.
  • Important Documents - Things like your birth certificate, marriage licenses, deeds, passport, bank records all sealed in zip lock bags if possible.

allvoices

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricanes in NYC and You


George Stojkovic-freedigitalphotos.net
     Here we go our second possible disaster of the week, right on schedule.  I guess the obvious questions are: What can happen?  What can I do?  And how will it affect my life as a New Yorker?  Well most of the answers are pretty straight forward.  Over the next few posts I plan on giving you the worst case scenario, and also offer you advice to help you and your family with your planning.

     Having grown up on a beach in NJ, and being an all around ‘beach bum’ in my youth, I definitely have a good grasp on hurricanes.  When your childhood home is located on a barrier island that has been wiped clean in the past, you tend to pay attention to hurricane preparation.  We may not have a track record of places like Florida in the city, but it is definitely a possibility and has been a reality for NYC many times in the past.  How often is besides the point right now though because it's coming.


     New York is an island, making it a wonderfully natural port and the reason it has been such a successful city for so many years.  Not only that, but we are protected from many storm surges (Quick explanation is when the wind blows the surface water hard enough, it forces large quantities to be moved to that location.) because we sit in from the coast.  As the map here shows, we are protected from the open ocean because of where Manhattan sits in relation to the outer burrows and NJ.  This is a wonderful thing for most storms, but hurricanes are not most storms.  If a storm surge is large and blowing hard enough against the shore line it causes massive flooding.  Because of where the island sits, a massive funnel effect happens as the surge blows into the channels flooding all low lying areas along the water line.  The water then recedes very slowly because of the small space it has to recede through.  So what that means for us is flooding all over the low lying areas of Manhattan as you might have guessed.  Lower Manhattan, some lower areas along the rivers, the low lying areas of Brooklyn including Dumbo, Greenpoint, and areas of Long Island City as this map here shows.  Besides the obvious flooding damage to buildings and subways, which will be a disaster in its own right, the biggest problem that can affect the city as a whole is our power grid.  Our wonderful power line free skyline is made possible by the fact that we use a ground cable system.  Great for winter snow and ice storms, not so great for flooding.  Flooding is NYC’s Achilles heel.  When salt water and electric lines mix, they don’t play nice.  In fact the salt water completely destroys the cables and they have to be replaced.  If flooding got bad enough, our entire grid would be ruined for months.


     Luckily it would have to be a very large storm surge and this is probably not the storm, but it is something to keep in mind.  What I do suggest is that if you live in lower Manhattan, the low lying areas of Queens or Brooklyn and are not prepared for a loss of electricity, and or massive flooding you should consider bugging out (go somewhere else) for the weekend.  There is no reason to ‘ride out the storm’ if you don’t have to.  If you have nowhere else to go, you need to make sure you have clean water and food in sealed containers.  Sanitation could also be a problem, I have written a post on the subject that you can read here.  I will be going over preps in the next post to help you as well. 

     The next ‘planning flaw’ the city suffers from is the way wind gets tunneled through our streets and avenues because of large buildings.  We all know that standing on certain street corners on a windy day is like standing behind a jet, many a dead umbrella can attest to that.  The problem is that the high rises have changed the wind patterns of nature, in effect causing wind to be funneled through tight spots, very similar to our water channels.  What this means is that a category 1 or 2 hurricane is in essence a 3 or 4 at certain locations all over the city.  That drastic increase in wind can cause large amounts of debris to be thrown all over the place at great speeds.  That debris can break windows, and cause chaos on a grand scale.

     If you are in an apartment that has a bunch of windows, or worse yet all windows, I suggest bugging out.  Get out of the city and go to your second home, a friend’s home, or hotel.  Anywhere but near those windows.  If you live in an apartment with just a few windows, you can tape them up with masking tape if it will make you feel a bit safer.  You can also place a few boards (or take the items off your shelves and use the shelf itself as a board) with a box of nails near the window in case it starts getting hairy outside.  If you don’t have nails and boards, then you can place large furniture in front of the window to stop glass if the window breaks.  If your bed is set up near a window, I suggest moving it to the center of your apartment and sleeping there the night the storm hits.

     Here is a CBSNews video from '06.  It is one of the many warnings we have received from experts over the last few years.  He tells of the pros and cons of our geographic location. 

     And here is another one of those Spike TV Surviving Disaster videos I always suggest on hurricane survival. 


     In my next post, I am going to explain what you can do to prepare.          

allvoices

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquakes in NYC and You

     So I wanted to put a post together for New Yorker’s who might be looking for more information on earthquake preparation.  Now many of my normal readers will know these things, and will be well on their way to having many of these preps in their everyday lives by now, so for them this post will be a refresher.

     I would like to first point out that I don’t believe that another earthquake is in our near future, but I do believe that we should prepare for the things we can, and let go of the rest.  Disasters, or narrowly averted ones, should be a wakeup call to the un- or underprepared.  I’m hoping I can guide a few new people to prepping due to this week’s dual disaster threats when they look to the internet for information.

     When we start the journey of self-reliance, we may find that it can be overwhelming.  The key is to not get lost in the hype and to realize that there is a commonality to our preps.  So if I’m prepared for a snowstorm, then my preps for a hurricane are not going to be much different.  We also start to look at what is much more likely in our area.  Earthquakes are not common, but bad thunderstorms and loss of electricity due to a heat wave are.  So if I’m prepared for those, I am most likely prepared for something less likely, but still possible (i.e. hurricanes.)  The preps that I’m suggesting below are just a few basic preps that I believe everyone should have in place for any disaster.  There is much more detail and guidance for you in many of my other posts if you are looking for more information.
 

     The first topic I will discuss when it comes to earthquake preps is what I’ll call “work preps”.  Most people that are familiar with this blog and others like it already know we suggest carrying an ECB bag (Everyday Carry Bag) during our everyday routines.  We also suggest a good EDC (Everyday Carry) system.  There are many different types of jobs in the city, too many to get into here.  So I will break it down into the most common types; on the go, and office workers.  For those of us that have “on the go jobs” (i.e. jobs where you’re not in one place all day) I suggest a well thought out ECB.  You can find a link to a previous article I’ve wrote on that here and a link to my EDC here.  For those of us that sit in the same office building all day, we can have a bit more leeway.  Not only will you be able to have a detailed EDC system, but you can also have a few preps in your office.  These would be things that you would not necessarily want to have on your person or in your ECB because of weight or size restrictions.

     The first and most important work prep is actually the same one you should have for your home, a hand-crank or solar rechargeable radio.  Being in the know can make the difference between chaos and survival.  I suggest keeping a pair of headphones attached to the radio as well in case you need to be discreet, or can’t hear over the others panic.  The below radio is one I own and suggest.  It is small, lightweight and can be left in a window to allow it to remain fully charged.


      The next prep is a rechargeable flashlight.  You can keep a higher quality battery operated one in your office if you prefer, just make sure you keep a sufficient supply of “good” batteries next to it.  I personally suggest a headlamp as it allows you to have both hands free for whatever you need.  Once again though, make sure you check the batteries every few months.



      Ever climb down 60 flights of stairs in high heels, or barefoot?  Well if you have, then you probably know about this prep already and should move on to the next.  If not, then this prep will allow you to hopefully never have to.  That prep is comfortable shoes.  These allow you to move safer, comfortably, and much faster.  Having a pair of lightweight comfortable hiking shoes, or old running sneakers can make a world of difference and is much better than high heels and or hard sole.  A few pairs of socks should be stored with them as well.  No telling when you are gonna be soaked in a rainstorm again.


      This is one of those optional ones, but they definitely won’t hurt; a cheap pair of work gloves.  They can be useful if you need to remove debris or if you unfortunately have to resort to self-defense.


      As yesterday, and other disasters before (911) have proven, our phone system can’t handle the weight of everyone using their phones at once.  Texting is the best choice as it takes the least data usage to perform, and has the best chance to go through.  But if the disaster was on a much larger scale, the system would either fail or be restricted to emergency and government use only.  To combat against cell phones false sense of security, I suggest keeping a two-way radio of some sort in your office.  The second radio should be left at your apartment, or given to your significant other to leave in their office.  Price ranges for radios can be cheap to bank breakers, so you’re going to have to figure out what kind of investment you would like to make.  The radios I suggest below are on the cheaper side, and I’m not entirely sure they would work as I have not personally tested them.  They say there range is miles, but obstructions can throw them off.  If you don’t trust radios, or you don’t want to make the investment, the next prep is a quick solution.


      Have a plan!  If there is a disaster, and you can’t reach your immediate family members make sure you have a plan on where to meet and what to do.  In fact, you should have multiple plans, for different situations.  Talk to your family now, as there is no better time like after a disaster to really get them listening and motivated.  You should also make sure that your extended family knows a few of your plans as well.


      These are just a few possible suggestions as each office and situation will be a bit different.  This list is my basic bare minimum suggestions, and you can add to it whatever you would like.  It should suffice especially if you have a well thought out ECB, as well as a good EDC system. 
In my EDC system you will notice I wear a whistle around my neck on a necklace. This is for a few reasons, but the two most important ones are self-defense and for being found if lost or trapped under rubble.

     When it comes to home preps there are many similarities.  Radio, flashlight, gloves should all be in place already.  Water and food are of course big ones as well.  I have written extensively on these topics before, and you can find much more detail on the blog.  Remember the basics of earthquake survival, if indoors find a good solid doorway, and brace yourself between it.  If outdoors, get to an open location where nothing can fall on you (easier said than done in NYC, I know.)  If there are bad aftershocks, then you will have to leave your structure and sleep in open areas like a park until they subside.  This is where a good B.O.B. and tent may come in handy.  Spike TV has a great series on disaster scenarios and they have an informative episode on earthquakes that you can find here.
  
     I won’t bore you with my personal story of “What were you doing during the earthquake?” as we’ve probably heard one too many stories, and I know we’ll hear many more.  I will mention that I was not in the city, but was off the island in one of the boroughs.  Having a well prepped ECB on me with enough water and food to last me for a few days I felt empowered and confident.  As that is the goal of disaster preparation; taking matters into our own hands as responsible New Yorkers so that we will not have to rely on others whatever the crisis may be.

allvoices

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get Outside!

     My lack of posts recently is due to the fact that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast during the warmer months of the year (or at least more so during the warmer months.)  If I’m not out on the city streets riding my bike, I’m jogging our many sidewalks and parks.  I also go on day hikes and camping trips either alone or with groups of friends often.  Choosing to enjoy my free time outdoors allows me to live the city lifestyle without getting too overwhelmed by the steel and cement of our concrete jungle.  Not to mention it helps me deal with the massive amount of people we are surrounded by on a daily basis.

     You might be saying to yourself; it must be nice to have a schedule that allows you to travel outside of the city to some of the more rural parks and campgrounds, but I don’t have the time or means of transportation.  If you read this blog, then you already know that I do not own a car, and in fact don’t condone owning a car as a New Yorker because it's a waste of money and effort.  Being free of that burden is probably one of the main reasons I have more time and money, but I will save that post for another day.

     As New Yorker’s one of our most beneficial, though occasionally flawed, perks is our mass transit systems.  With multiple options of destinations and time tables we really are very fortunate.  Most people think of mass transit as either a method of getting from home to work and vice versa, or as an unreliable annoyance.  But what we don’t attribute our massive transit system to is; freedom, which we should.  Many of our rural and suburban brethren will attest to the fact that if their cars fail them, they are forced to either ask others for rides or try and figure out if the local bus system will get them to or close to their destination.  Our trains and buses give us the option to go to all over the Tri-State area for a reasonable price, and are actually far more reasonable compared to travel by cars these days.

     Now I understand that most of us have different schedules, and going on a one or two day hiking trip seems out of the question.  I promise though, once you take the trip and get out there you will see just how easy and convenient it is.  Even a few hours will get you out of the city and into a very therapeutic forest.  We sometimes don’t realize how stressed and tightly woven the city keeps us until we get away from the hustle and bustle.

     Between all of the possible bus and train destination options the real trick is to figure out where the trails are, and how close the stop on the bus or train will take you to the trail or campsite.  Now to tell the truth, there are many many possible destinations and I have only found a handful.  You can truly go to a new destination once a week for months and not see the same trail twice, that’s how vast the options are.  I personally prefer not to travel more than two hours outside of Manhattan to my destination, and honestly with all of the options in Upstate NY and CT I don’t have to.  The following list offers just a few of the possible locations, you can click on the links to get more detail of the trails thanks to Backpacker Magazine online (great resource):

  • Long Path Loop:  This makes a great day hike location, or two to three day backpacking trip.  It is located in Harriman State Park and is about an hour long train ride from Penn Station New York.  It is such a quick ride, that you can’t get over the fact that you can get this rural while being so close to the city!  I actually spent this past weekend out here doing the trail and had a blast.  It is truly a beautiful park with many trails to explore, and it also has a few ‘hidden gem’ campsites.  You can also find some of the old mine sites.  I attached a few pictures of this trail at the bottom of this post that I took over the weekend.  You do have to walk a little bit from the station to the trail head, so make sure to do your homework before hand and bring a map as always.

  • Appalachian Trail:  I know when most of us think of the AT, we think of a really long trail that goes up most of the east coast, and that it has a bunch of ‘bush hippies’ with funny trail names that spend months on the trail.  And although that is partially true, the AT is a perfect destination for New Yorkers.  Why is it a perfect destination you ask?  Well it is actually extremely convenient for us to get to.  In fact the MTA’s Harlem Line has even been gracious enough to place a stop right on the trail on the weekends.  When you get off the train you literally have thousands of miles to hike in either direction.  It’s pretty daunting, and is actually one of the main problems of this trail.  You really just have to stop at some point and turn around leaving you feeling a bit empty because you can have no real destination.  You can choose to spend the night at the shelter located a few miles from the train stop though, giving you a great overnight trip.  You can also hike from the Harlem Line train stop to the train stops of the Port Jervis Line making it a long weekend backpacking trip.
  • Stony Brook Loop:  This is another Harriman Park trail that makes a great day hike. Taking the Port Jervis Line out of Secaucus to the Sloatsburg station is the best way to get to the trail head.
  • Breakneck Ridge:  Click on the link as the site it links to gives a great amount of information.  This is a great easy day hike.

     If you have any suggestions to a place you just love that’s close, feel free to let me and the readers know.  If you are feeling adventurous you can try and find your own favorite locations, and I suggest you do as it can be a fun adventure (something we lack in our daily modern lifestyles.)  I prefer going on moderate day hikes during the week near or after the morning commute, and try to get on the trails early in the day.  My ideal situation is to spend the night on the trail and then spend the whole day walking and exploring.  Early mornings in the bush are magical.  I like being out there without too many distractions so I can practice firecraft, woodcraft skills, and outdoor survival techniques.

     This blog often discusses disaster preparation and survivalism for New Yorkers, so you might wonder how hiking and camping really relate.  Camping, and being out in the wilderness in general, teach you and those you love many important lessons on how to live and thrive in inconvenient situations.  Truthfully that is all a disaster really is, an “inconvenient situation”.  By pushing ourselves to the limits of comfort with things like annoying bugs and poor sleeping conditions, we can gauge how well we cope.  We can also start training ourselves to let go of creature comforts such as indoor plumbing, and easily accessible potable water by getting out of our everyday comfort zones.  By pushing these limits, we are testing ourselves in a controlled manner.  We can only then truly appreciate our overly convenient lifestyles.  As anyone who has spent time in the bush can tell you, there is no better meal then your first ‘real’ meal off the trail, and you will never truly understand how amazing of an achievement running water is till your first hot shower off the trail.
     
     Here is a list of a few additional resources if you would like to do your own research:






allvoices

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

E-Mail Call

JV,
A very informative site!  Keep up the great work.  As a fellow New Yorker I often wonder about how to actually "bug out" if things really go bad.  I live in the West Village with my wife and son and can't seem to figure how we would actually leave Manhattan if there were a situation that warranted that type of departure.

I remember when the bridges and tunnels were locked down during 911.  I kept wondering what I would do in the event that things became worse.  I recall that I had the crazy notion to loot the kayak launch at the Hudson River park to head west  (not that I would ever do it).  As I indicated before we live in the West Village but keep our car in Long Island so being able to "bug out" by car is out of the question for us.  We do have bicycles but the though of going through the city during a "hostile" situation with my family scares me.

I have "prepped" but the thought of moving all of the gear without having to cache up the Henry Hudson to make my escape without a vehicle is daunting.
In any case I thought you might have suggestions on how to leave the city if it decided to shut down access.

Again, great site!
Regards,
PF

Hi PF,

     Thanks for reading.  Like you, bugging-out is a topic I have thought about on many occasions, and is something I have wanted to address on the blog.  I definitely have many suggestions and ideas on what would be my preferred course of action as I have been researching the concepts of how people living in Manhattan would deal with bugging out for my book, and for the blog.

     As there has never been a large scale disaster forcing the entire population to bug-out in our city, or any other major American city for that matter, there is no hard data.  In addition to the lack of information, there is also the issue of “what type of disaster?” changing many variables, and courses of action.  So that leaves us with educated guess work, our imaginations, and some historical accounts.  With these three things we can form a series of plans (i.e. plan A., plan B.,) and we can prepare with full knowledge that even the best laid plans are doomed to fail, forcing you to constantly reassess, and revise.

     So to answer your question about what I suggest to New Yorker’s, or anyone for that matter, considering their bugging-out options would be; plan and prepare to the best of your ability.  Gathering from your e-mail, you are already aware of this, and are well on the way.  One thing I will point out, and it is something I have talked about on the blog a bit; never underestimate a well formulated plan with multiple back-ups, making sure everyone in the family knows the plans inside and out.  A plan will allow you and your group to make precious use of something all of us won’t have much of; time.  It works great for the militaries of the world, and would serve us as well.  Now that doesn’t mean I will leave you to ponder this somewhat philosophical answer, pretty much stating “figure it out for yourself”.  I, like you it seems, have a very active imagination, and come up with many scenarios and solutions while I walk our beautiful streets.

     First and foremost, I think your idea on “borrowing” a kayak was actually brilliant, and shows me that your thinking process is already on the right track.  One of the things people need to put into a bit of perspective is that the lines of right and wrong will be blurred, and you will be forced to do things you would not normally do in order to save you and your family’s lives.  Try not to forget that this “blurring” will make many situations much more dangerous for you and your loved ones.  It is truthfully one of the main reasons why I try and raise self-reliance awareness to the masses; the more people are prepared, the more likely the loss of lives and chaos will be reduced.  If you want to take the ‘legal’ route in the above situation, consider buying an inflatable canoe that fits you and your family members.  If that is a bit ridiculous, and out of your price range, maybe consider buying a bolt cutter (those “borrowed” river boats will be locked,) saving you space and money. 

     I agree with you that the situation could become "hostile" quickly, so you should consider a way to protect yourself.  I am working on a series of posts about self-defense here.  I will be writing a post soon about my beliefs on owning a gun, and how to acquire a hand-gun, and long rifle permit in NYC.  The subject of gun ownership for New Yorker's is a touchy one, and will probably always be.  I am trying to give the people who don't beleive in our Second Amendment right to protect ourselves and our families options on how to realistically defend themselves.

     When you mention that getting to your car in Long Island is pretty much impossible, you are unfortunately correct.  The only time it could be useful to you for bugging-out, is if you were somehow able to realize before the masses that the situation required a ‘bug-out’ and you reacted before them.  I think you will agree with me that the probability of that working out is highly unlikely.  This leaves us with motorcycles, bikes, and our good old two feet.  I rode a motorcycle for a few years in my youth and can tell you that although they are agile and fast, they are dangerous.  You and your family would probably be at more risk of dying from a motorcycle accident, then from the actual disaster.  You also can’t carry that much while on them.  The next option is a bicycle.  I ride a bicycle around the city often, and believe that it is probably one of the best options as you will be able to get out pretty fast, but they are also more situational.  You won’t be able to carry much with you on a bicycle either.  You also need to have high proficiency to ride a bike around people, and obstacles quickly.  That leaves us with our legs.  By far the safest option, and you can defiantly carry a lot if you have a good B.O.B. for each family member.  Walking is unfortunately slow, and requires each person to be in fairly decent shape, especially if there packs are heavy.  Walking (and possibly biking) allows you to travel “the road less traveled” as I mention in a post here.  You can also place caches at different locations along these routes if you would like.  I personally think caches are a pretty good idea for people who can’t carry much, or for people whose B.O.L.’s (Bug-Out Location) are over a four day walk.  I personally would not cache supplies, but I can’t argue their effectiveness.   

     Each option has pros and cons and you will have to see what best fits your needs.  I don’t mention a car because it would not be a good choice in my opinion.  You will defiantly be able to ‘out walk’ any car attempting to leave the city.  There are over two million of us on this island, and grid lock would be atrocious.

     Your question asked for bug-out suggestions, and I hope I gave you a few ideas.  My personal feelings about bugging-out are a bit different.  I feel that although bugging-out is feasible, it should not be our main concern.  The survivalist community has it a bit wrong IMO when it comes to how city dwellers need to concentrate on a good bug-out plan because we live in such high population areas.  They feel that gangs, and “The Golden Horde” will clean the place out, killing everyone in their path.  They obviously don’t live in a major city, and just don’t understand the dynamic.  I believe that we need to put much more concentration on bugging-in.  By staying put we will have shelter, provisions, and will not be following the masses.  If you are stuck in the masses, you are The Golden Horde!  Just like most things in life, when you don’t follow the sheep and think outside the box, you have a much better chance of happiness, and in the case of a mass bug-out, survival.  Take for example 911; you mentioned you were thinking of ways of getting off the island, which was a good thing to be thinking because no one at the time knew what was going on.  The smartest thing to do in retrospect was to bug-in though, as it was actually a bug-in situation.  Leaving was not possible, and a bad idea at that point anyway.  I plan on talking more about this in the future on the blog, giving more examples of why I believe in forming a solid bug-in plan.

     I will also briefly mention that I hope you have a decent B.O.L. and it is as prepared, and stocked as your apartment in the city.  If you have any questions about B.O.L.’s, feel free to ask for my thoughts on that, or any other survival related topics for that matter.

     Thanks again for supporting the blog, I’m a bit long winded, but I hope I got some good points across.  Good luck to you and your family on your self-reliance journey.

allvoices

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Affiliate: White Wolf Survival Supply

     It is my pleasure to announce a new affiliate to NYC Survival; White Wolf Survival Supply.  They are a family owned and operated survival based website offering items that are handpicked by their Army Veteran proprietor/father, and tested by the family for usefulness, and practicality.  They do their best to supply items for their customers that they themselves suggest, and use as survival/emergency preps.  They are a new site, and as such are constantly updating their catalog, so check back often.

     It is my personal opinion that we should do our best to support family-owned and operated businesses either near our homes, or online.  By using your money to support them, you are doing your part to say "no" to the world-dominating...I mean, greedy.....oops, my bad...mega corporations like Wal-Mart.  Click on the link above, or on the banner in the sidebar to be sent to their website.

allvoices

Quick Pick: Super Siphon

     Keeping a few siphon's around is a very important, and useful prep.  To make a siphon all one really needs is a tube of some sort, a container placed lower then the actual liquid, and suction (typically your breath.)  This is useful in many situations to move, or remove liquid from hard to reach locations. 

     For the survivalist, realizing that a disaster can be 'long-term' is an all to real possibility.  A siphon can be paramount in helping to obtain very necessary liquids like; water, and fuel.  These two liquids will be like gold in any disaster, and difficult to obtain.

     I suggest the following siphon, not because siphon's will be hard to come by, but because anyone who has siphoned a liquid by creating a vacuum with their breath can tell you; you end up with the liquid in your mouth.  Not only is this a big problem with things like gasoline, but it can also be a problem if you try and siphon 'dirty' water.  The following siphon alleviates this problem instantly by providing the tube with an easy to use pump attached to the tube.  It sill allows the tube to be lightweight, and cheap which is an important trait in any prep.  In times like these, where the only certain thing left is uncertainty, do your best to make sure your prep's cover a wide range of possibilities.

allvoices

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pandemics & New York City

Renjith Krishnan-freedigitalphotos.net
     I came across this article recently as I was reading one of the many news sites I sift through daily.  Though I am typically not a fan of Yahoo! News, I make it a point to take in as many differing points of view as I can.  That way I can attempt to not be swayed by one side or the other, finding my own version of the truth.

     To me, this type of article does not scare me as it might some people.  Rather it serves as a quick reminder to re-check my emergency preps that deal with pandemics.  The recent nuclear disaster in Japan has proven that 90% of the population of this country prefers to wait until the last possible moment to deal with a disaster.  The whole mass iodine (KIO), and powdered milk sell off (at ridiculous prices) was a great example of that.  The funny part about the iodine is that most of the people that bought iodine pills don't know why you would need them, or even when the proper time to take the pills is.  

     I will tell you now that waiting for a plausible disaster to happen, and then preparing for it is a very bad idea.  For example; if you live in an area prone to earthquakes, make proper preparations!  It is truthfully the crux of why people like myself are preppers.  We like to use reason, and take control of our lives by not having to rely on others.  By waiting till it's too late, you will be susceptible to outlandish prices, and a complete and total lack of said supply.  You also allow yourself to be taking advantage of by others because of your desperation.  Desperation in any form is not good, and is one of the most detrimental states of being.

     Preparing ahead of time can be easy, and relatively cheap.  Most supplies, especially those supplies that don't have much demand right now can be just a few dollars, and extremely easy to acquire.  The trick is to know what would be important to the masses during a disaster.  Next is to figure out what types of disasters are most pertinent in your area.  Here in New York, there are unfortunately numerous possible scenarios that we have to contend with.  Putting your preps in order of most realistic (i.e. loss of utilities due to a strong storm.)  To possible, but less plausible (i.e. meteor strike).  One of the fundamental things to keep in mind is that certain preps would be important to everyone during any disasters.  Things like; potable water, food, and sanitation are constants, and should be your first priorities.

     A pandemic would have a dramatic effect on a major city like ours.  Worldwide, or even a regional pandemic can make its way into NYC fairly easily due to the amount of travelers we get on a daily bases.  It would shut down everything, and would almost certainly cause a mandatory quarantine.  These quarantines can last upwards of three months, or more.  Most people would assume they could bug-out, even those people who don't know what the term "bugging-out" means.  Bugging out is not very realistic, as the island would most likely be "locked down" fairly quickly leaving us to fend for ourselves.  Even if you had the foresight to bug-out before a quarantine, there are no guarantees that the pandemic won't find you.  Your best bet would be to hunker down in place with your supplies, and 'ride it out'.

     So what supplies would be important to prepare you for a pandemic, other then the obvious, and hopefully already in place fundamental supplies of long- to medium-term water procurement, and food?  Here is a list of a few of the most important items you should have as a part of your preps.  They are easily found on Amazon, or at your local Duane Reade/pharmacy as of right now:

  • N95 Mask - There are a few options of size, and grade when buying these.  It's up to you what you decide.  You don't have to break the bank in my opinion.  You also don't need to buy hundreds of them, as you hopefully will be able to bug-in for the required amount of time, limiting your contact with the outside world.  There is also no guarantees that these would work, due to no way of knowing what way the virus could be contracted.  History has proven though that the most devastating virus's are typically those that are able to be transmitted through the air (i.e. coughing, sneezing.)  Make sure to buy smaller sizes if you have children.
  • Rubber Gloves - Pretty self explanatory.  You would need these if you were to touch any contaminated liquid, or materials.  Also important if you have to deal with dead bodies, which is an unfortunate reality.

     
  • Bleach - Love it or hate it, bleach is still one of the most effective ways to kill bacteria, and viruses on surfaces.  You can put it in a spray bottle and cut it with water to sanitize all the surfaces of your apartment.  Also good for sanitizing anything you bring into your humble abode that you get from the outside world.      
  •  
  • Plastic Sheet or Contractor Bags - These would come in handy if you had to quarantine a person in your house or apartment.  It could also be used to wrap up dead bodies if someone passes due to the conditions.  You should also have a few rolls of duct tape in the apartment to seal the bags.  Duct tape has a million uses, and you should always have a good quality duct tape in your apartment.
     Another thing to remember is that if you have to quarantine in your house or apartment, you will need a way to defend you, and your family.  Most New Yorker's will not be anywhere near prepared for something this devastating.  If you are in your apartment making great smelling food, and it's lit up like Christmas, you're probably not going to make it.  Doing things like eating food cold, and keeping a low profile will be of the utmost importance.

     Spike TV has a great show on how to deal with pandemics linked here.  I definitely suggest watching it with your loved ones.

     Pandemics are a realistic threat that humanity has faced in the past, and will almost certainly face again.  When it comes to pandemics, it is not a matter of if, but when...

allvoices

Friday, March 18, 2011

Beautiful Berkey

     It’s often discussed by survivalists about how important water is.  We constantly hark on its significance, and recommend you store at least a few gallons in your home for emergency use.  Why all the fuss?  As the saying goes “water is life”.  Without water, most adults would die within three days.  To put it into a bit of perspective, you can last upwards of thirty days without food (though I know some people around these parts that may last a bit longer due to a massive amount of reserves they have accumulated around their midsections.)  Spend one day without water, and you’re in a world of hurt between headaches, and muscle cramps.  By the end of the second day, you will be in so much pain, and have so little energy that you will probably not have the drive to search for a solution by the third day.

     In Manhattan, large quantities of emergency water storage are just plain out of the question.  We can’t keep 55 gallon rain buckets, and we don’t have the space for anything but a few months worth.  The good news is that we live in a fairly wet area, seeing an average annual rainfall of anywhere from 40-50 inches.  How does that help?  Well unlike places like LA, who receive an average of about 15 inches of rainfall a year, we do OK.  We can ration said rainfall as a supplemental source of water to be used in everything from consumption to cleaning.  Granted you have to be prepared for the rain with buckets and tarps, but we are preppers after all.

     To city dwellers, rain really is the only option we have for fresh water as our rivers have salt, and any fresh water the island had, is long polluted and covered over.  Drinking salt water by the way is a quick road to death.  For people that think they can use a distilling method to get fresh water out of salt water, obviously never tried it as it takes an enormous amount of fuel.  You could technically get a desalinator, but they are expensive.  Not to mention that a desalinator require a lot of maintenance, and do not remove pollutants.

     So that leaves us with only one option: make a rain catch.  A rain catch is simply a way of using a container to catch as much water as you possibly can from a rain storm.  I will do a post in the future giving more detail, but to give you an idea, I linked a video here.  Rain is potable (for those of you who don’t know, it is pronounced “poh-tuh-buhl”, can’t tell you how many people say it wrong) out of the sky.  You start running into problems of water getting contaminated as soon as it touches things like a gutter, or a roof.  You can handle this a few ways.  The smart, and efficient way, especially if you are forced to bug-in for a long period of time, is to use a filter.

     That leads me to the point of this post; The Berkey Water Filter.  A long lead in, I know.  Berkey’s are the preferred filter by many in the survivalist/prepper community for good reason. They filter out the things in water we don’t want in there like chemicals, and harmful microorganisms.  And leave in the things we do, like minerals.  Berkey's also give you the option of attaching an additional filter to take out almost all of the fluoride our state adds to our water if you so choose.

     I have owned a Berkey System for a while now, and can honestly say it was one of the best purchases I have made since awakening to prepping.  If you are new to prepping, or have been practicing it for a while and have not yet gotten to your filter, put off some supplies and buy a filter as soon as possible.  In fact, it is my personal opinion that a water filter should be one of your first preps, especially as a New Yorker.  I say this for a few reasons.  First and foremost, as I mentioned above, water is exceptionally important to survival, and having an easy way to make water potable is ideal.  Second, our tap water in NYC is a real question for concern.  Since the main water tunnel to the city is antiquated at best, and the pipes in many of the cities pre-war buildings are old, there is a big, not often talked about problem of lead in our water.  Lead is not the only metal, but it is the most prevalent.  (I wrote an article here, giving a bit more background on the city’s water problems.)  Not to mention, people are not always told by the state when the tap water has been compromised.  Case in point linked here.  There are even more cases if you want to do your homework.  The third reason for owning a good filter is that not only will it keep your tap, and rain water potable, but it can also be used to filter your stored water.  This will allow you to not have to add chlorine to your stored water to keep it from growing things like algae if you choose.  The next, and last (though I could go on and on) reason for owning a Berkey, is that it will be a prep that you will put into use on a daily bases.  What I mean by that is; I drink a lot of water.  So I get to feel a sense of accomplishment when I pour myself a nice, clean drink of water multiple times a day.  Did I mention how good the water tastes?  Damn good.  Hard to explain, but I find it much lighter and softer in taste.  It makes tap water taste strangely polluted, and sweet in comparison.

     To get one of these amazing filters, you can either click the link here, or use the banner on the top right hand side of this blog.  I suggest buying a Berkey from LPC Survival Ltd.  They are a great company, and have always gone above and beyond for all their customers, including me.  Jeff “The Berkey Guy” is extremely professional (not to mention, nice), and is one of the exclusive authorized dealers of Berkey’s in North America.  Feel free to ask him any questions as he is quick to respond via e-mail or phone.  You can see on their site the different sized Berkey’s, and what size they suggest per the amount of people in your family.  They can be a bit expensive, but are in my opinion, relatively cheap in comparison to other filters on the market.  You can also buy a few back up filters, leaving you with the ability to filter many gallons, and years worth of clean potable water.  Which makes a Berkey an easy one stop solution for procuring life-long clean water for you and your family, and a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling feeling allover.  Stay hydrated...

allvoices

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Take:

     As many people of the world watch Japan go through this disaster, I wanted to take the time to discuss what I have learned from this extremely unfortunate event. 
  • First and foremost, my heart goes out to all the people affected by this disaster, and I truly feel for them as a fellow human being. 
  • What I believe is one of the most important lessons learned from these kinds of events, is that nature has no bias.  Old, young, rich, poor, we are all the same, and when nature changes violently, people die.
  • The Japanese are a very stoic and proud people.  The way they have handled this from the beginning has made me respect them beyond words.  They are an amazing group, and I wish American’s could be that responsible and respectful.  We are unfortunately not that evolved as a nation yet.  These people are currently teaching all of us through their example.
  • The tsunami showed a hidden secret of preparation that the survival/prepping community does not like to talk about.  Why prep, when all preps can be washed away or buried in an instant, leaving you with nothing but the clothes on your back?  I think the survival community is at a loss for words in a way.  Here many of us are, telling you to prepare for the change that is upon us and a series of disasters seems to have blindsided the most prepared country in the world.  Leaving the obvious question; what good did all those preps do?  The true answer to those questions is that their basic preps didn’t seem to do much (I’m not talking about their infrastructural preps, those saved countless lives obviously).  Does this mean don’t prepare then?  No, it should if anything broaden your horizons as a prepper.  As preppers, we know that we can only control how prepared we are for disasters.  We can’t control all other variables.  Things like if you are at home, or work, and if you’ll even survive the initial disaster need to be let go of because they are out of our control.
  • With having said that, nothing beats knowledge.  Any disaster preps you have on your person or at home are a bonus.  If you happen to have a knife, and a way of starting a fire on you when you survive the initial disaster you are way ahead of the curve.  If you are in your underwear with no shoes, you better have the knowledge and the know-how to build shelter and get a fire going as soon as you possibly can.  As the saying goes in outdoor survival; “knowledge is easy to pack as it weighs nothing, and is always with you.”
  • One thing we seem to not realize is that the Japanese people themselves were prepared, and that preparation saved countless lives.  If that quake happened anywhere else in the world with that many people living in close proximity to it, the losses would have easily been double.
  • The nuclear disaster, which was a disaster as soon as the first bit of radiation leaked, is actually not the fault of the people, but of the bureaucratic nature of their government (who is strikingly similar to ours with their smoke and mirrors.)  I’m pretty sure the people were not thrilled to live next to nuclear power plants on an island with so much seismic activity.  Like here though, they accept what they are told, as long as they can buy things and power up their many toys.  (Quick Rant: My quick fix for our many ridiculous power solutions for this planet is simple: stop using so much power.  By the time we reach an agreement about what is right or wrong, there will be nothing left to power.)
  • Redundancies and back-up plans are never a bad idea.  If you live in an area prone to flooding or earthquakes, then you need a fall back location.  Having a second or third location with supplies, and making sure to not put all your eggs in one basket are the only way to be sure that you’re covered.  Is this possible for most people?  Of course not, but it is something to consider.  Don't forget that you could always rely on close family members, and keep supplies there if they are OK with it.
  • Killing a dead horse here, but make sure to always have your ECB and BOB stocked and ready to go. 

allvoices

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update...

     I have not stopped writing, and I can assure you that I have not run for the hills… yet.  Not that there are many hills to run to around here, but I digress, already!  I have been spending the remaining days of winter planning on my spring and summer outdoor trips, and truly immersing myself in research.  Survivalism is a tricky thing.  When reading and practicing all of the things I do, I can’t help shake the feeling that we as a race have truly allowed ourselves to be placed in quite a jam.  When the picture starts to unfold, and the fog starts to lift, it is amazing to see how we have lost control of the train.  When you strip it down, and realize that the only way to feel a bit more in control is to prepare for the coming change, you start to ask yourself: how did we as a people get here?  Being a student of history, and having a very good understanding of human behavior, I have a good idea.  You the reader, could get to the bottom of that question if you so choose.  Remember though, some people believe ignorance is bliss. 

     As preppers and survivalists, the how and why need to be let go of, because our true focus surpasses it all.  Pointing fingers and playing the blame game are a waste of energy.  We need to continually remind ourselves and others that preparing for whatever disaster large or small is the only way to ensure our future and to take the little bit of control we have back from those who attempt to take it from us. I am in the process of writing a post on my thoughts of the recent disaster in Japan, and what the survivalist community in America can learn from it.  I have also read the LDS Preparedness Manual and suggest you do the same.  You can find it online here.  It is one of the best resources available to preppers of any level.

allvoices

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Page! (Suggested YouTube Channels)

Freedigitalphotos.net
     I am not much of a fan of TV these days, especially with the increasing amount of shows going towards reality.  I will keep you from a long rant on how Hollywood is breeding a generation of kids that believe what they see on "reality TV" shows is in fact "real life", and how the disconnection is growing at an alarming rate.  One thing I will say though I find it ironic that the major cause of disconnection from our humanity is named "reality TV", as that misnomer couldn't be further from the truth.  I may be a bit fuzzy on "the truth", but I'm sure as hell sure that what goes on in Hollywood is not it.

     Now that I have breathed (and ranted a little bit), I would like to share with you one way I turn mainstream media into a tool for learning.  YouTube may have started as a bunch of videos of people falling and farting, but has since grown into a shining example of how humans can use, the immensely important internet, to share our collective knowledge.  If you have not been on YouTube in a while, or have not really ever searched through its massive collection of videos, do yourself a favor and check out some of the channels I suggest above.  They touch upon a few different topics, all survival/self-reliance related.  I personally enjoy outdoor survival, and love to practice it myself, so there's a few extra channels related to that.  

Happy watching!!
JV

allvoices

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Survival Skills: Homemade Toothpaste

    This may seem a bit off topic, but I assure you it's not as learning certain skills allow you and your family to be just a bit more self-reliant.  Learning how to create your own soap, candles, and toothpaste amongst other things, can save you money in the long-term and help you to refine a very useful skill.  Not to mention that learning how to make your own supplies, and having a stock pile of the ingredients to make them, give you something to barter or an item to sell if a disaster lasted more then a few weeks.

     One of the simplest, and cost effective skills to learn is how to make homemade toothpaste.  The initial cost of making toothpaste can be a tad expensive at first as you should buy bulk.  But it can easily save your family hundreds of dollars a year as the original supplies can last a long time, much longer then a tube of store bought toothpaste.  The savings can then be applied to back-up your supplies for long-term use or to use, once again, as barter if necessary.

      The best thing, in my opinion, of making your own stuff is the fact that you can control what goes into these products.  Since I am not a fan of anything containing fluoride, and try to limit my families intake of it, I can choose to make a toothpaste completely fluoride free.  I can also choose different natural oils to enhance the taste, and get the added benefits from them.  Things like peppermint oil, or parsley neutralize bad breath.  Chamomile reduces swelling if your gum's are sensitive.  The possible combination's can be truly endless if you further your knowledge of natural herbs and oils.

     Since I am into simple solutions and have been blessed with strong healthy teeth, I choose to use a basic tooth cleaning system.  It consists of a wet toothbrush, baking soda, and grapefruit seed extract.  I keep a covered jar of baking soda and a bottle of grapefruit seed extract near my covered toothbrush on my bathroom sink.  To use these items, you simply wet the toothbrush head, stick it in the baking soda, put a drop of grapefruit seed extract on top of it all, and brush.  Simple as that.  The taste is not ideal, but it has never really been an issue.  You need to make sure to use a little amount of the grapefruit seed extract, as too much can burn your gum's.  If you have sensitive gum's you might need a different solution.  Below is a video from YouTube showing you the proper way of using this method, and I have linked baking soda, and grapefruit seed extract from Amazon below.  The big bottle of grapefruit seed extract linked below is a bit expensive, but from my research a very good deal in the 32 oz. bottle, especially because of the free shipping Amazon offers.


allvoices