Archive | June, 2012

Disinfecting Plumbing System

28 Jun

Prepper Life Skill (PLS). Learn to disinfect your plumbing system or well. This is a skill not every prepper will need, but it’s useful to know about. In many areas, if you do major rework or install new pipes for your plumbing system, you are expected to disinfect the piping.

Minnesota plumbing code says to flush the system with potable water until the exiting water is clear and then that “…the system or part thereof shall be filled with a water-chlorine solution containing at least 200 parts per million of chlorine and allowed to stand for three hours.” Many jurisdictions have similar code.

Wells can become contaminated because of flooding. Minnesota residents in flooded areas are being informed about this by local news. It’s the usual prepper story: Use bottled water or bring your water to a roiling boil for a few minutes if you’re not sure your water is safe to drink. After floods, local governments often provide free water testing kits to see if your well water is safe. If your water comes from a utility, after a flood, you can contact your water provider to be sure your water is safe.

If you have a well, you can learn more from the following resources:

Disinfection of Wells (pdf) (Minnesota Dept. Health)

Well Owner’s Handbook (pdf) (MN Health)

Is Your Well Flooded? Disinfect It before You Drink It! (pdf) (State of Texas)

What To Do After A Flood (pdf) (EPA)

Decontaminating Flooded Wells (pdf) (Texas A&M University)

Floods: Protecting Your Health (MN Health) (general information)

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Flood Cleanup In Duluth

27 Jun

Duluth was drenched with 10″ of rainfall. The good news is that the waters are receding and polar bears are no longer roaming the streets.

The bad news is that cleaning up after a flood is icky and many homeowners will find their insurance won’t cover flooding. The Star Tribune had a good article “Duluth Shows The Risk of Betting Against Floods.” It says only 111 homeowners of the city’s 25,485 homes had flood insurance. The article encourages people to give some thought to whether they should carry flood insurance.

A nice article about preppers and insurance can be found on tracemypreps.com  which is a great blog for preppers.

For those who want a detailed roadmap of how to clean up after a flood, FEMA provides a nice pdf (“Repairing Your Flooded Home“) you can download from the American Red Cross.

Prepping Your Response To Conflict (Lessons For CCW And Self Defense)

25 Jun

Three stories hitting the news—the story of an ex-firefighter, a SWAT police officer, and a neighborhood watch volunteer—offer important lessons for those of us learning self-defense and carrying concealed handguns.

Learning to shoot is important. Learning basic firearms’ safety is important. Knowing the law of when deadly force is appropriate is important. Too often overlooked, though, is assessing our own self-control, temper control, or self-regulation. It’s something most of us take for granted.

Wikipedia.org defines self-regulation as “…controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.” Simply put, we must learn to control our response to our own emotions. We don’t want to respond in a hot-headed fashion when it’s inappropriate.

As I wrote in The Prepper Next Door, great police officers don’t become emotionally entangled in a negative way in a situation. They remain professional. That’s difficult to do when somebody insults you. If a guy feels disrespected, he’s more likely to become aggressive.

According to news reports, one reportedly inebriated SWAT police officer was upset that a fellow patron at a bar was talking loudly on his cell phone. The officer, who wasn’t in uniform, asked the guy to pipe it down. He didn’t. The officer became enraged, and according to what was reported, the officer sucker punched the guy and fled the scene.

Being a member of SWAT, this officer is certainly far better trained in tactics and combat weaponry than the average prepper. But, if what is reported is true, it didn’t matter; his own inability to control his response to anger did him in. Because he didn’t control his temper, he’s facing a slew of problems:

► Criminal prosecution
► Possible civil lawsuit
► Attorney fees to deal with the above
► Possible job loss

That’s a serious price to pay for being annoyed by a cell phone call. The other patron endured multiple brain surgeries. There were no winners in this conflict. Either party could have mitigated the situation. Neither did.

An ex-firefighter too was troubled by noise and decided to confront his apparently drunken neighbor who was having a party. The firefighter, according to reports, had a confrontational personality. In fairness to him, he had repeatedly called police asking for them to deal with the situation, apparently to no avail. The ex-firefighter had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and brought his gun with him. He also juggled calling the police and filming the entire event.

The video, parts of which appeared on various youtube videos, shows neither party tried to mitigate the situation. The ex-firefighter, for his part, drew his gun and shouted “stay back…turn that crap down!” Rather than walking away, he claimed he was “standing his ground.” The neighbor, insinuated he’d get a gun, and said, “You pulled a gun on the wrong mother ….”

In the end, the neighbor was dead and the ex-firefighter was headed to prison. If either party hadn’t felt the need to be such a tough guy, the neighbor wouldn’t be dead and the firefighter would have far better life today.

In the most publicized event, a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, followed somebody he felt was suspicious. Zimmerman had a CCW permit. A shooting ensued. There were no witnesses to the full event. We really don’t know what happened. Whether it was a legitimate case of self-defense depends upon the actual events. At the very least, Zimmerman made a bad judgment to follow this guy. He’s facing a criminal prosecution. The $10,000 question: If Zimmerman hadn’t been armed, would he have been as willing to follow this guy?

In this last case, Zimmerman didn’t appear to have some macho hang-up. According to a news story, he began carrying his pistol after his family repeatedly encountered a loose pit bull. In fairness to the dog, the dog didn’t appear aggressive, but a loose pit bull isn’t something to be taken lightly. After the second encounter with the dog, Zimmerman decided to carry chemical defense spray. After the third encounter, he was advised to get a gun, because defense spray might not work against a dog.

The lesson from the Zimmerman case is that concealed carry permit holders should go out of their way to avoid confrontation. The lesson from the other two cases is that we should realistically assess our own ability to control our response to anger. Being the best shot in the world with significant tactical training is useless if we can’t manage our emotions.

Doomsday Preppers Survey

19 Jun

National Geographic Survey of Americans (pdf)

This survey (taken for the show “Doomsday Preppers”) has some interesting points:

► When Americans were told they could have unlimited access to any single thing after a catastrophe or disaster, 55% wisely selected water.

► “Which of the following do you think is a smarter investment?” Choices: a 401(k) or stocking up on resources. Surprisingly, 41% said stocking up on resources. I would have expected a much lower percentage, given that the survey is of general Americans

► We must take any survey with a grain of salt. You never know if people are being serious or not. When asked what movie scenarios could come to pass in the next 25 years, 7% said a Planet of The Apes scenario could happen. The participants were over 18 years old.

americanpreppersnetwork.com has a good commentary about how the new show “Doomsday Preppers” might change how people view preppers.

Prepping The PC

16 Jun

One topic I omitted from The Prepper Next Door was the topic of PC security. The subject was just too far away from what readers might expect in a book about prepping. In the modern world, being prepared means you’re alert to the risk your PC faces and you have at least some idea of how to handle these risks.

It’s been estimated that Iran’s nuclear program has been set back by 6 months to 1 year because of the Stuxnet worm and the Flame virus. We know Stuxnet was created by the U.S. government. The cyber-weapon interfered with the operation of 1,000 nuclear centrifuges. Because Stuxnet ran a bit out-of-control, it was discovered by computer security experts, who reverse engineered the worm. Flame, also courtesy of the US government, was a virus masquerading as a windows update.

If the NSA wants to infiltrate your computer and snoop on you, they’ll probably do so. There isn’t much we can do if hundreds of top programmers attack one of our computers. We can defend our PCs from lesser threats though. Hackers now have much of the code for Stuxnet and Flame and could re-purpose it to attack industrial targets. Windows has patched some of the vulnerabilities. Here’s what we should do to protect our PCs from hackers:

► Regularly update our operating system.
► Run antivirus software on our PC
► Run firewall software on our PC
► Run anti-spyware software regularly
(One popular free anti-spyware programs are MalwareBytes, http://www.malwarebytes.org)
► Regularly backup important files so if our system were damaged, we could restore them. Norton Ghost is one popular program for copying a hard drive or backing up a PC.

All PC users should devote a little time to learning more about basic computer security. While this cyber-weapon did more or less what was intended, using such weapons sets a dangerous precedence. What happens if one of these cyber-weapons runs amuck and attacks a non-targeted country? How would Russia or China respond if the US inadvertently damaged a billion dollars worth of their infrastructure? You can be sure we’d need to pay the bill or face retaliation. The careless use of cyber-weapons attacking industrial targets could inadvertently lead to a shooting war.