Smallpox – A Biological Agent

Biological agents are pathogens and toxins derived from nature that target living organisms (humans, animals or vegetation) to kill or incapacitate.  Some biological perils are also suitable for weaponization and use in biological warfare, biological terrorism or economic attacks in the case of pathogens targeting agricultural industries.  Today’s hyper-connected world is particularly vulnerable to the spread of natural or man-made (or assisted) biological risks.  Knowing a pathogen or toxin’s capabilities, symptoms and possible treatments can give you the edge in preventing or knowing when there’s been exposure and should help you seek early treatment from a trained medical professional.  Today we look a little more in depth at smallpox.

What is Smallpox: (more…)

Risk Management for Preparedness

This article will provide a brief introduction to Risk Management for Preparedness, but it’s techniques can be applied to every aspect of your life.

We each do Risk Management every day of our lives, often without even being consciously aware of the process.  Some examples of day-to-day Risk Management are:

  • Deciding if it’s safe to pull out into traffic
  • Deciding if your child can go over to a new friend’s house
  • Deciding if it’s safe to walk through an empty parking lot
  • Deciding if you need to get help before you lift that piece of equipment
  • Even deciding if it’s safe to tell your spouse about the bet you lost in the office football pool

The above are some examples of informal Risk Management.  Risk Management can also be performed as a deliberate process.  The deliberate process is better suited to riskier, more complex activities and operations and is a relatively easy process to learn if you take the time to practice it.  In this article I’m going to  discuss the U.S. Army’s way of doing Risk Management but simplify it a little and show you how this process can aid you in your preparedness planning and execution.

Note:  For those of you familiar with  the Army’s Composite Risk Management Process (CRM) I’ve modified the model to better support preparedness planning and survival situations.  Also, I’m going to stop short of discussing the CRM Matrix.  If there’s enough interest in this topic I’ll do a more advanced article explaining the use of that tool and perhaps tailoring a Risk Matrix specifically to help Prepography readers focus their preparedness efforts and keep safe in disasters, post collapse or survival situations.

As mentioned above the U.S. Army calls their program Composite Risk Management and applies the process to every operation and activity.  The Army describes Composite Risk Management as “a decision-making process used to mitigate risks associated with all hazards that have the potential to injure or kill personnel, damage or destroy equipment, or otherwise impact mission effectiveness.”

As a prepper you can use this same tool, apply this same process to your preparedness efforts.  This process can help the prepper with decisions as simple as deciding what type of backup heating to install in your home or to a decision as big and complex as deciding how long of a time period you need to prepare your family for. (more…)

A Brief Introduction to EMP

Prepography reader BlueShark recently wrote me to ask what an EMP is.  What follows is a very brief introduction to EMP and here’s a hint…it’s not the name of the latest rap star to make it big.

Simply put an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an immense charge of electricity created by a nuclear detonation exploding just above the earth’s atmosphere.  This electrical pulse will have an effect similar to a lightning strike on all electronics within a line of sight (LOS) that are not specifically shielded from EMP.  A single weapon high detonated high enough above the Earth would have LOS to most of the continental U.S. and two weapons launchable from container ships off our shores  (Atlantic & Pacific) could easily create an EMP big enough to cover the continental U.S. as well as sizable portions of Canada and Mexico.  Think of an EMP as a single event that could send the entire U.S. over a hundred years into our past…no electricity (except batteries), no electronics, no modern communications, possibly (almost) no motorized transportation.

Things to know about an EMP: (more…)

EMP Commission on EMP Vulnerability – Today’s Quote

Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.

EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.

The common element that can produce such an impact from EMP is primarily electronics, so pervasive in all aspects of our society and military, coupled through critical infrastructures. Our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow. The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential protagonists who are not as dependent on modern electronics.
The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected. Correction is feasible and well within the Nation’s means and resources to accomplish.

Abstract from Executive Summary of the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack 2004

News to Know

Situational awareness is a key element of survival and today, situational awareness must be global.  Today we present news to know from the past week with a dab of commentary:

Security Threat News:

DHS Admits It Is Unprepared for EMP Threat:  The Department of Homeland Security says that our electrical grid is even more vulnerable to an Electromagnetic Pulse attack than we were a few years ago.

Al-Qaeda blamed for Europe-wide forest fires:  If true, Al-Qaeda has found an extremely efficient and low risk way damage Western society.

‘Killing Is The Solution,’ Gang Member Tells Walter Jacobson:  A disturbing look inside the thought process of a street gang member.  Give some thought to what’s between your family and people like this…then take appropriate steps.

Communication News:

Britain in talks on cybersecurity hotline with China and Russia:  In all the old movies the nuclear hotline phones are red…what color will the cyberhotline phone be…hope it’s not an IP phone.

Financial News: (more…)

Top 10 Names for Winter Storms, Suggestions for the Weather Channel

You may have read earlier this week that the Weather Channel has decided to begin naming winter storms.  As you may be aware, the National Hurricane Center names tropical storms and hurricanes but this is the first time a private media company in the U.S. will name weather events.  Their thinking is that “a storm with a name is easier to follow, which means fewer surprises and more preparation.”  We thought we’d get a jump on the competition and suggest our Top 10 Names for Winter Storms (really 19 but who’s counting):

  1. The Big Chill:  Good name for either a Nor’Easter or Hillary Clinton’s next layover at the home she shares with Bill
  2. Frosty:  For obvious reasons
  3. S.H.O.E.:  An acronym for Stay Home Or Else.  This would be a good name for any storm that drops snow South of the Mason Dixon line.
  4. Vanilla Ice:  Sure to be a quick storm that unexpectedly shows up for another 15 minutes (of fame) every few years
  5. Ice-T:  Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time that Ice-T has graced the pages on Prepography.  Check out what Ice (as I presume his friends call him) said in an interview a few months back about not wanting to be the only one without a gun. (more…)

3 Steps to Banish Fear of Preparedness

I’ve had several conversations with some of my closest confidants recently that have opened my eyes and eliminated a blind spot in my understanding of (some) other people’s preparedness paradigms…or lack thereof.  It seems that some people fear thinking about preparedness.  These people avoid the thought or discussion of perils and preparedness topics.  Some people go so far as to avoid entertainment that deals with preparedness or the consequences from a lack of preparedness.

You may be chuckling too yourself at my former ignorance, but as a lifelong prepper (in mindset if not always in actuality) I never stopped to consider that someone would willing chose ignorance.  I get it now, though.  As a business owner I receive phone calls all the time from sales professionals wanting to sell me the next great thing to make my business grow.  If they get through my well trained staff they rarely get past the first sentence of their sales pitch before I politely thank them for calling and tell them I’m not interested.  At that point I don’t know the details of their pitch but I do know there are only so many hours in the day and I can’t spend them all listening to every telemarketer that calls.  The bottom line is that I’m not open to whatever new information and knowledge (with the resulting price tag) that those telemarketers wish to ‘bless’ me with.  By choosing ignorance of their ‘pitch’ I don’t have to deal with the potential discomfort of living without a product or service I might need or the discomfort of living without the money that I just spent on that product or service.

My prepper-shy friends are no different than I am with the telemarketer’s sales pitches except that missing this opportunity will potentially affect more than just the bottom line.  These friends have expressed to me that the potential discomfort that they are avoiding is fear but they are already operating on a fear of the unknown.   These people believe that the study of and actions necessary to become better prepared are attributable to and result from fear.  By not entertaining the idea of preparedness they are avoiding living in fear.  Unfortunately, this reaction is based on a half-formed thought. (more…)

Why Prep, Part 4 Individual & Family Disasters

Note from Andrew: The complete Why Prep Series has now been consolidated HERE.

Today we present the fourth and final article in our series on why prepare for disasters.  In today’s installment we’re going to talk about the personal tragedies that are all too familiar for anyone who survives to adulthood.  These are the types of individual and family disasters that affect each and every one of us eventually.  These personal disasters are no less capable of causing The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) or more appropriately, The End Of The War As You Know It (TEOTWAYKI) than the dramatic political, environmental or societal changes that we have discussed to date.

In the first article of this series, ‘Why Prep, The Introduction’ we asked and answered the following question:

Question:  Why Prep…why become more self-reliant?

Answer:  Because it’s the only reasonable and logical response to an unknown future and even a cursory study of history.

In the second article, ‘Why Prep, Historical and Current Examples’ we discussed examples of places and periods where preparedness could have made the difference between survival and suffering (or worse) for you and your family.

In the most recent article of this series, ‘Why Prep, Triggers & Stressors’ we discussed stressor events and individual triggers that have the potential to dramatically change life as we know it on a societal level.  These were the big perils that could affect us on regional, national and even an international basis.

Individual and Family Disasters

Think back on your life.  If you’re like me your life has very defined stages.  The transition between these stages was likely stressful even if the transition wasn’t due to a traumatic event.  While we’re only going to focus on potentially traumatic TEOTWAYKI events in most of this article, the phases of your life may look something like this: (more…)

Why Prep, Part 3 Triggers & Stressors

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Why Prep

Note from Andrew: The complete Why Prep Series has now been consolidated HERE.

Today we present the third article in our series on why to prepare for disaster.  In the first article, ‘Why Prep, The Introduction’ we asked and answered the following question:

Question:  Why Prep…why become more self-reliant?

Answer:  Because it’s the only reasonable and logical response to an unknown future and even a cursory study of history.

In the second article, ‘Why Prep, Historical and Current Examples’ we discussed examples of places and periods where preparedness could have made the difference between survival and suffering (or worse) for you and your family.  In this third installment we’ll discuss stressors and triggers for potential The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) situations.

Today we’re going to talk about stressor events and triggers.  A stressor event is an occurrence that has the potential to change a system or society.  Stressor events happen all the time and can vary dramatically in the amount of stress or influence they place on a system.  Some examples of stressor events are election outcomes, legislation, trade wars, disease outbreaks, government spending programs, wars, acts of terror, social movements, development or loss of key infrastructure (like the internet you’re browsing), information releases (like the Watergate scandal) or changes to the physical environment (like drought or natural disasters).  From a societal standpoint, stressors often manifest themselves in multiples and if significant enough disruption occurs…they can create a situation that cascades out of control.  While it’s an overly simplified model think of these stressors from the last century:

  1. Germany loses World War I and a large percentage of its reproductive age males
  2. War damage and reparations create severe economic hardship
  3. Rise of the National Socialism in Germany bringing Adolf Hitler and his Brownshirts to power (were the Brownshirts easier to recruit due to a lack of fatherly guidance?)
  4. Election of 1933 gives Hitler enough power in the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act and assume dictatorial powers

This example from history led to TEOTWAWKI for much of the world from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1940’s and eventually ushered in the atomic age.


Beware the Fair!

With county fair season in full swing there’s evidence of a outbreak of an H1N1 related swine flu that’s transmissible to humans.  While this particular flu is currently a relatively mild strain this is a reminder that the flu is a threat year round.

US health officials on Friday warned the public to be careful around pigs after an outbreak of flu among visitors to county fairs.

The virus does not appear to have evolved to the point where it spreads easily among humans, but it does contain a gene from the pandemic H1N1 flu that sickened millions worldwide in 2009 and 2010.

“We are concerned that… may confer the potential for the virus to infect or spread among humans to a greater extent,” said Joseph Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

…Bresee urged people to go to the doctor if they feel flu symptoms after coming into contact with pigs so that public health officials can better track the outbreak.”What we’re really going to be looking for is evidence that the virus has made that change to spread efficiently among humans,” he explained. “So far we haven’t seen that.”

via US officials warn of swine flu outbreak at fairs – Yahoo! News Canada.

…and remember that the any flu is only few mutations away from becoming a pandemic monster like the world experienced in  1918-1919, (~675,000 deaths in the U.S. and up to 50 million deaths worldwide), 1957-1958 (69,800 deaths just in the U.S.), 1968-1969 (~33,800 deaths), 2009-2010 (~8,870 and 18,300 deaths)…just to name a few.  Estimates per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

To read more about cross species flu transmission and mutation read this recent article Flu That Leapt From Birds to Seals is Studied for Human Threat from the New York Times

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