Earl Update

Looks like Earl is moving farther west.  That could bode ill.  He is still a Category 4, but is predicted to slow a bit as he approaches shore.  There is a Hurricane Watch in place for the Outer Banks of N.C., and the far Southeast corner of Va.  We should know by tomorrow morning if the Outer Banks will need to evacuate and how much of the Hampton Roads/Tidewater Va. area will be affected.  For today's prep work, I cleaned out my gutters, got 25 gallons of gas for the generator, and we're getting ready to go to the store to get a little more water, and a bit more non-perishable food (plus some fresh fruit, veggies and milk for the week).The nice thing about living a preparedness lifestyle is that when something like this is on the horizon, I just have a few acute needs to take care of.  Far easier than panic buying and fighting the crowds with the storm just hours away. 

I feel better prepared for this storm than previous ones.  I owe a thanks to you, my readers, for that feeling.  Having you out there, holds me accountable.  Thinking about what to write encourages me to do it, and needing to be honest and credible means I really have to do it, not just talk about it.

I have a couple more last minute things to do tomorrow, but they are really icing on the cake.  I'll stay updated on Earl throughout the day for my work, but also for you.  "Like" us on the If It Hits The Fan page on Facebook (Hey!  We passed 50 likers today! Thanks!) so you'll get any important updates I post.

More tomorrow to let you know what my last minute efforts are.  If you are along the coast from NC to Maine, and in to Canada, please be sure you are ready, and have your family evacuation planning in place.  Also, please post in the comments to let me know what you are doing and how you fared after this is over.


Disease Wrap Up and Hurricane Earl Aug. 30, 2010

Wow!  Lots going on.  I'm going to do a quick wrap up on the diseases, then move on to Hurricane Earl, which is bearing down on the East Coast.


Despite the non-event that the H1N1 Pandemic was, a severe pandemic is a threat that the epidemiologists say is not an "if," its a "when."  If an easily communicable disease that has a high mortality rate appears, one of the only effective methods of stopping it is with a large-scale quarantine.  We can prepare for that in much the same way we prepare for any major SHTF scenario.  Food, water, alternative lighting and power, extra supplies, and the ability to pay expenses with emergency savings.  Jack Spirko refers to this as "disaster commonality."  One thing to stock up on that would set pandemic apart from other scenarios is extra disinfectants, bleach, alcohol gel, etc...

Mosquito-Borne Virus

The West Nile and Equine Encephalitis, among others, seem to be spreading this year.  Since these are transferred by mosquitoes that bite infected animals, then humans, the best prevention is to avoid mosquitoes.  Use mosquito repellents such as sprays with DEET and citronella tiki torches.  Wear long sleeves and pants when outside during the early morning or at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.  Build some bat houses on your property and empty any standing water.  You can also consider some of the high-tech electronic repellents, but I don't have any experiences with those.  If these mitigation methods fail, know the symptoms of what is happening in your area and seek medical assistance if you show them.  Check with your local health department to see what, if anything, is active in your area.

Hurricane Earl

He's currently a Category 4 and bearing down on the East Coast.  The indicators are that he will skirt the Coast from the Outer Banks of North Carolina clear up to the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

If you are in that area, look at your preps and see what needs fine tuning this week.  This past weekend, I cleaned my generator's carburetor and made sure it was running at tip-top condition.  I also cleaned up a bunch of yard debris and took it to the dump.  Today I secured all of our patio and yard furniture either by putting it in the shed, or bungee cording it to the fence.

I've got a very busy week at work, but I will make a quick post each night with Earl updates and a daily prep associated with it.  Fiona is running right behind Earl, so we might get a one-two punch.  Or we might get nothing, in which case my yard is cleaner and my generator runs great.  Either way, I'm ahead.

If anything major changes with Earl during the day, I'll stick a quick post on the If It Hits The Fan Facebook page, so "like" us there and get the information as it happens.


Pandemic, Schmandemic... Is it coming or not? Aug. 22, 2010

First, some housekeeping...

Tropical Storm Danielle has formed in the Atlantic. If the track and predictions hold, she will escalate to hurricane strength by Wednesday, and may affect the mid-Atlantic region by early next week. Plenty of time to set aside a little extra water, food, lights, and generator fuel.

Our Facebook page is up to 41 "likes" - I am truly excited! Please keep spreading the word and please give me some feedback so I can keep this relevant and interesting. You can also become a "follower" of the blog and help promote it that way. I'm thinking I need to get ready for some sort of appreciation give-a-way. Some sort of prep item or book, once we reach a certain number of likers or followers. I'll think on it and make an announcement soon.

Now on to today's topic...

Pandemic Disease: What is it and what can we do?

As many of us learned about a year ago, a pandemic is when a communicable disease has begun to spread easily from person to person and has affected countries around the world. It is more widespread than an epidemic. If you are about my age or younger, you never experienced a pandemic before, although we had three influenza pandemics in the 20th Century. The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 killed over 50 million around the world, including nearly 700,000 in the US. It was an H1N1 virus related to the most recent pandemic. The Asian Flu of 1957-58 killed about 2 million globally and 70,000 in the US. In 1968-69, the Hong Kong Flu killed over 1 million in the world and 34,000 in the US. The H1N1 flu pandemic of the past year was declared over just last week.

Pandemics of plague, typhus, yellow fever, and other diseases have killed 100s upon 100s of millions of people throughout history. There are concerns about new outbreaks either of existing diseases, or mutations that society is not prepared for with vaccines or treatments.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Lassa or Ebola, are one concern. Lassa makes occasional appearances in the desert Southwest, and is spread through the inhalation of infected mouse feces. Ebola, usually found in Africa, has a terribly high mortality rate, but is actually fairly difficult to catch if basic precautions are taken against contact with infected bodily fluids. Ebola Reston is one mutation that infected a primate importation facility in Reston, Virginia several years ago. While that particular version was not a danger to humans, it showed that the Ebola virus can mutate to be spread through the air and ventilation systems. If Ebola that kills humans mutates that way, movies like Outbreak (Outbreak (Snap Case) ) could become reality.

Diseases such as Tuberculosis and Staph Infection (MRSA) are becoming "superbugs" in that they are resistant to established treatment and antibiotics. If they mutate to the point of being more virulent and easily transmittable, the results could be disastrous.

The last thing I want to bring up is some of the diseases that are typically spread by insect vectors, not human to human, but that may be more widespread because of a lack of natural prevention. Malaria, West Nile Virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are just a few diseases spread by mosquitoes to humans. EEE has a 35% mortality rate in humans, and has recently shown up in humans in Michigan, Florida, and other locations. Why are these becoming more prevalent? I think it has to do with White Nose Syndrome, a deadly fungus that is destroying bat populations. It was first seen a few years ago in the Northeast, but is rapidly spreading around the country. Its mortality rate is over 90% in the caves that it has been found in. I saw something today that said that the little brown bat may be extinct by 2014 at its current death rate. With that many bats dying off the mosquitoes are losing a natural predator that is allowing them to be more prolific.

Once again, this is running long. I'll talk about what we can do in a couple of days.


District Deluge August 12, 2010

Just a quick entry today, but first welcome to some new followers!  Hope you guys enjoy my musings and can get something out of it.  Please leave comments and add your thoughts.

Washington, D.C. Storm

This morning, DC got hammered by a horrendous storm.  Here's a link to the Washington Post story.  Over a hundred thousand people without power.  Several subway stations closed due to flooding.  Roads flooded, cars washed away, people needing rescuing from their car roofs.  Trees down, including one that went through a baby's bedroom (thankfully the sleeping baby was unhurt). 

We don't need a hurricane or a tornado to be at risk for severe weather.  A summer storm can do just as much damage.  So, what do we do?  Getting ready for storm season is much of the same no matter where you are.  A power source, lighting, food & water, sanitation & medical needs.  Depending on the time of year, a source of heat, or some sort of fan or cooling device.

I also wanted to note that living and commuting in a major city can have its own risks and preparedness needs.  If you are in one of those cities, and especially if you live or work in a high rise and use mass transportation, I encourage you to check out this book PREPAREDNESS NOW!: An Emergency Survival Guide (Expanded and Revised Edition) (Process Self-Reliance) by Aton Edwards.  I picked this book up last year at the International Spy Museum.  For those of us who are not in major cities, there is not much useful information, although I gained a few "a-ha" tidbits and thought it was worth having anyway.  But if you are in that situation, there is some great information.  It also would make a great gift for that family member in the big city who really hasn't started thinking about preparedness yet.

On a positive note, the Atlantic is currently devoid of all tropical weather activity.  Have a great weekend and do something to help get your family prepared.


Gifts for the Prepper Part 1, Water Aug. 8, 2010

First, an update...  TS Colin has disipated into a low pressure system and is off the radar (literally and figuratively).  There is a low pressure system about due east of Cuba/Miami, that seems to be strengthening and moving west/north west.  We'll keep an eye on that one.

What can you give a person who has started into the prepping mindset?

This topic came up because we are joining two other families next weekend for one of the husband's 40th birthday.  Over the past year, he has awakened to the problems in the world, and has begun to prepare for his family's safety and security.  For his birthday, I wanted to give him some items to help him get there.  I won't say what in case he reads this.

I could just list a lot of gear that would be good for a person to have, but I will break it down into several categories, with several items in each category.  Each item will be one I either own or have other hands-on experience with and will suggest based on that.  I am linking each item through Amazon.  If you can find the items at a better price elsewhere, go for it.  But, if you are going to buy it through Amazon, please use my link.  I'll get a small commission out of the deal.  If you are going to buy anything through Amazon and use my link to get to thier website, that will also benefit me.  Thanks in advance.

Let's get started on the suggestions and remember, these are not just good for birthdays, but Christmas is only 139 days away!


Water is needed for all life.  The budding prepper will probably have room in the larder for both storage and purification methods.  Let's take a look at several of both that I have worked with.

Potable Aqua Purification Iodine Tablets $6.99 These are from the same supplier that the US military uses.  They will kill Giardia and other nasty micro organisims.  They do nothing for visibly dirty water or water contaminated by chemicals.  The small bottle is great for keeping in a GHB (Get Home Bag) or 72-hour kit.

Katadyn Combi Water Microfilter  $139.90 This is a hand-pumped water filter with an activated carbon prefilter and a silver inpregnated ceramic filter.  It gets out chemicals, protazoa, chemicals and dirt.  It takes some time and effort to use, but the water comes out great.  I used mine one time when the public water had a broken line and when I turned on the faucet, got out gross, dark brown, thick water.  The Combi Filter gave me clean and crystal clear water.  If you get this, also consider the Katadyn Combi Replacement Element Carbon (2-Pack) $8.95 to keep it at tip top condition and ready to go.

Berkey Light Water Filter With 2 Black Filters & 2 Free PF-2 Fluoride Filters $209.00 This will purify 4 gallons and hour with a capacity of 2.75 gallons.The black filters are good for pond water or third world rivers.  I have a friend who keeps his on this kitchen counter and uses it for all of his drinking water.  He lives in a major US city and gets flouride-treated water.  He uses this for this drinking and cooking water to avoid the unneccessary intake of fouride (which is toxic at high levels).  A great example of something to have on hand If It Hits The Fan, but also for daily use.

Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container $21.12 OK, first of all, this can be found at Wal-Mart for about $10, so I'd suggest you go there to buy it, but you can see details on this link.  This is a fantastic way of storing water in minimal space.  These Aqua-Tainers stack neatly and are very stable.  They also have a handy spigot for getting the water out.

Olive Drab Genuine GI USA Made 1 Qt Plastic Canteen $4.95 613 GENUINE GI CANTEEN COVER - OD $12.50 There are newer and fancier water bottles, but these are proven in the toughest of environments.  The cap seals tightly and the cover will keep the water cool.  The cover even has a small pocket to hold a bottle of purification tablets.  The ad doesn't say, but the cover should have two "ALICE" clips on it to attache to your belt, pack, or other location.  Just in case, consider getting G.I. Alice Keeper Clip/belt Slides (10 Pack) $3.95 (spares are always good).  Also look at getting G I Spec Stainless Steel Canteen Cup $9.95 for use with mixing in instant coffee, kool aid, or other mixes, as well as putting it over a heat source for hot drinks or stew.

Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV 100 Oz Hydration Pack, Black/Charcoal $109.95 Camelbak is the leader in hydration systems.  There are other makes out there, including some a lot cheaper, but you get what you pay for.  The H.A.W.G. (Holds A lot of Water and Gear) was the first Camelbak I bought, back in the late '90s.  The design has been modified since then, but in positive ways.  The 100 oz reservoir will provide enough water to get you through a strenuous, hot day.  The 1,120 cubic inches of gear space will allow you to keep some extra clothes and a little food and gear, making this a great day pack for hiking or mountain biking, or keep in the car for a GHB.  It can also attach to larger packs if you need more capacity.

Siphon Pump $14.95 I'm not going to suggest a particular brand of 55 gallon water barrel, but a number of them are available on Amazon, or through local sources.  I will say, that if you are storing potable water, get a new barrel, approved for drinking water.  Don't risk it with a used drink syrup or olive importation barrel (although those are good for water you are harvesting from rain water and will use for sanitation or gardening).  Anyway, if you are going to store water in 55 gallon barrels, you need a way to get it.  These pumps are handy, easy to use, and inexpensive.  I had several with my Y2K supplies, but don't currently store water in that fashion.

Well, this has ended up being a lot longer than I expected.  I will break this up in to several categories over the next few weeks to help you fill out your Christmas shopping (or wish) list with some basic prep gear.


Disasters in the News Aug. 3, 2010

Wow! Two posts in two days...  A new record for If It Hits the Fan!  There are a couple of imminent disaster risks in the news today I wanted to comment on.

Coronal Mass Ejection

Fox News ran this article today.  Seems there was a massive solar flare yesterday, which will reach Earth tonight.  While it will provide sky watchers with much larger Northern Lights in latitudes that seldom see them, it may also put satellites at risk.  NASA released information several years ago that reported that we are heading into the most intense period of solar activity since the massive solar storms of 1958.  We did not have the electronics then that we do now.  Solar activity in 1998-99 knocked out several satellites, including one that made 45 million alpha-numeric pagers useless for a couple days.  I remember wondering where my news reports and spot metal price updates were before I found out all pagers were down.  This Washington Post article discusses several power outages and electronics failures from solar storms in the latter half of the 20th century.  This website details problems caused by solar activity dating back to the 1850's.  Consider all those problems when we weren't dependent on electronics like we are today.

I'm sure that Wednesday morning, we'll wake up and 99% of our electrical and electronic capacity will be up and running.  But I think the threat from spiked solar activity over the next couple of years is something to be aware of, and we should look at possible ways to mitigate damage that may come.

Tropical Storm Colin

He currently has degenerated back to a depression.  The projected path puts the remnants hitting North Carolina or Virginia next Tuesday or Wednesday, but at a much weaker state.  We'll keep a eye on him, but it looks right now as if we have dodged another tropical bullet.


Prepper Ponderings Aug. 2, 2010

Here we are again with some Prepper Ponderings.  Short notes about various topics.

Storms a-brewin'

Tropical Depression 4 has formed in the Atlantic.  If the projected path and duration hold true, we could see some tropical weather in my area about a week from today.  I tested the generator a couple weeks ago, but will do it again tomorrow and rotate some gas cans. 

Speaking of gas, you know it goes bad, right?  I'm sure that, like me, you always relied on Sta-Bil to keep your gas a bit longer.  A friend recently turned me on to Star Tron Fuel Treatment.  It is way better than Sta-Bil.  I had some older gas, already treated with Sta-Bil in my generator and it was running pretty rough.  Star Tron not only preserves gas, it also revitalizes.  I put a splash of Star Tron in the genny's gas tank, sloshed it around, and started it.  The thing ran like I had brand new, high octane gas in it.  Amazing. I had the same results after refreshing my lawn mower's gas.  Star Tron is now required for all my storage gas.

Another concern for an approaching storm is water.  We have enough stored water for about five days.  Also, we are on a well and the genny will run the well pump if we lose power.  My biggest concern is with excessive rain dirtying up the well water.  For that I have a filter.  Even if you are on city water, a good quality filter can be a great asset.  How many times have you heard about localities issuing "boil water" orders because of a failure in the treatment system?

The New Pioneer

This is a new annual magazine from Harris Publishing, the same folks who bring us Tactical Handguns, Guns of the Old West, et. al.  The editor is Nancy Tappan, widow of one of the early leaders in the survivalist movement, Mel Tappan.  Among the authors are specialists in a wide range of preparedness topics, including N.E. MacDougald, managing editor of Survive magazine back in the 80's.  At $9.95, this is pretty steep, but considering it is an annual, not out of line.  The articles run the gamut from guns to rural land to organic seeds to flea market treasures.  It will inform and entertain the camouflage commandos, the hemp shirt hippies, and even we regular folk.  The articles are well-written and researched.  I suggest you visit your local bookseller to find a copy.  They do not have a website and don't seem to be available through Amazon or through subscription.

Va. Disaster Prep

As part of my efforts to help people prepare for what life brings them, I have started consulting business, aimed at the concerned family, with no personal mentor available.  Please check out my website and let me know if you think this is viable.  A prepper friend who is a lawyer and an entrepreneur put the idea in my head when I was telling him about this blog and some other things I am working on.  He said a lot of people want to prepare, but don't know where to start, and don't have the time or interest to do a lot of research.  He thought there would be a market for someone to provide that guidance, so I'm giving it a try.  I don't think I'll be able to retire from this gig, but I think I can help a lot of folks and make some decent side money at the same time.

That's it for today.  I'll try not to be so long between posts, I promise!