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IN THE MAIL: Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms (Expanded Edition).

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals. Get them while they last!

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms (Expanded Edition).

IN THE MAIL: Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, 3rd Edition.

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals New deals all the time: Get them before they’re gone!

USEFUL READING: Handbook of Practical Disaster Preparedness For The Family, 3rd Edition.

NEWS I HOPE YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE: Five Essential Tips for Disaster Preparedness.

AT AMAZON, save in Disaster Preparedness.

AT AMAZON, save in Disaster Preparedness.

PREPAREDNESS: Health Care Providers Scramble to Meet New Disaster Readiness Rule. “The new rule is aimed at preventing the severe breakdown in patient care that followed disasters including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, while also strengthening the ability to provide services during other types of emergencies, such as pandemics and terrorist attacks.”

How good will the requirements be? “At least some of those provisions were significantly modified in the final version. Chief among them was a proposal that hospitals and nursing homes test their backup power systems for a minimum of four hours every year at the full load needed in an emergency, rather than the current standard of once every three years. Generators have failed catastrophically in hospitals and nursing homes around the country during prolonged power outages, endangering patients and leading to chaotic evacuations. However, the government removed the enhanced testing proposal, stating that there was not enough evidence it ‘would ensure that generators would withstand all disasters.'”

Well, nothing will ensure that. But my generator automatically self-tests for 5 minutes every week, which adds up to just over four hours a year. Why is this so hard?

YA THINK? The leader of the National Security Agency’s hackers says that putting industrial control systems online has made America less secure.

Related: How Long Could the U.S. Go Without Electricity?

Also: Disaster prep using inverters. More here. And here’s a roundup of related disaster-preparedness posts.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Is your home earthquake-ready? How to prepare for the Big One.

Thoughts on earthquake preparation, here. Plus, an earthquake preparedness list. But everyone, everywhere, should be prepared for disasters.

WHEN I MENTIONED PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DECLARATION OF NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH A WHILE BACK, A READER COMMENTED: “I need to put together a full on prep kit. I’ve got some essentials, but nothing for a long period. But looking at that Amazon page makes my head spin.”

Well, M.D. Creekmore has advice for easy disaster prep. And, as with exercise, something is better than nothing. If you’re prepared to hold out for two weeks without outside help, you’re in much, much better shape than most. If you’re prepared for a month, then you’re way ahead of the game, and, in fact, able to make it through pretty much anything that’s hit the North American continent since the last time Yellowstone let go.

Plus, was I ahead of the curve or what?

IS CALIFORNIA OVERDUE FOR A BIG EARTHQUAKE?

Thoughts on earthquake preparation, here. Plus, an earthquake preparedness list. But everyone, everywhere, should be prepared for disasters.

A PROBLEM BEYOND ANY CURRENT DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS: Collapse of the universe is closer than ever before.

FROM POPULAR MECHANICS: A Disaster Survival and Preparedness Video Course.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: So I of course have water and gas shutoff tools, but the Insta-Wife seems to always confuse them. Since she might have to shut off utilities when I’m gone, I finally got this shutoff tool that’s for both, with clear GAS and WATER labeling. Now everything’s easy and clear.

PREPAREDNESS: Top general: Feds shrug off potential EMP disaster. “Michael Hayden, the retired Air Force general who ran the National Security Agency and the CIA, revealed on Tuesday that the administration has no plan to defend against an electromagnetic pulse — and isn’t doing much to come up with one. At a conference to discuss threats to the U.S. electrical grid, especially from a cyber attack, Hayden said that there isn’t a solution to handling an EMP attack, which can come from a solar eruption or nuclear bomb.”

THE DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS ECONOMY IS BOOMING: “The wives in this area don’t want jewelry for Christmas. They want generators.”

Well, here you go.

WHAT WITH HURRICANE SANDY, ETC., several readers have asked for links to my disaster preparedness posts. Okay. Here’s a post on low-budget disaster preparation. Here’s one on bug-out bags. Also, stuff to keep in your car or SUV. Also, recommended preparedness books.

And, by the way, I just got the latest Consumer Reports and they really like the Generac GP5500 generator, which they say “performed almost as well as the top-rated portable generator for hundreds less.” But read the reviews on Amazon before you buy.

UPDATE: Reader Charles Cheek writes:

Bought one last year after losing about $500 worth of food due to a storm and the resulting power outage. Bought it online at www.generatorsonline.com for $200 less than what Home Depot was advertising at the time. Delivery was free, and the truck driver put it right where I wanted it. I had to install the wheels and put the oil (which was supplied) in it. It cranked over on the second crank and has served us incredibly well through several storms and outages since, the latest just last week ( 6 days with Hurricane Sandy), usually starting on the first crank, always by the second. It is powerful enough to provide my whole house with power. I haven’t yet installed a transfer switch, although I am considering it. It runs 14 hours on 5 gallons of gas (or less), is relatively quiet, and maintenance is easy. I highly recommend the Generac GP5500.

Not bad.

MORE: Generator advice from Popular Mechanics.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Reader Kathleen Wallace writes:

I have been an Insta-addict for three years. I appreciated, among others, the recurrent theme of disaster preparedness during Hurricane Irene, and was struck particularly by the role of inverters.

So, when we saw Sandy on the way, we finally got our inverter, set it up, and tested it here in our home in New Jersey. As predicted, our power went out.

We ran the inverter off the car periodically each day, an hour in the morning and the evening. We ran the fridge, the furnace, the modem, charged the phones, and caught up with the Instapundit. We were conservative (of course), and at the end of 5 days, we had well over half a tank left in our Ford Escape, were warm, and knew what was happening. The car ran quietly, cleanly, and safely, unlike the many loud, smelly generators in the neighborhood.

We never needed to wait hours in line with several red plastic containers. The candles and transistor radio made the evenings enjoyable.

I thank you for your blog, and especially for helping us rethink disaster preparedness.

Inverters are pretty cheap, too. You’ll want extension cords, too.

UPDATE: Say, here’s a question: How much power does a gas pump consume? Could you power one with a big (2000-3000 watt) inverter?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux writes:

I second what your reader Kathleen wrote about using inverters instead of a generator. Followed some of your links to arrive at that conclusion. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use anything yet.

One obvious reason to go this route: fridge, a big concern, doesn’t have to be on all the time to maintain, per what Kathleen is doing. I wish she had written what inverters she has.

Yeah. I assume she has her furnace wired with a pigtail connection, too. You can splice into the furnace, of course, but not everyone would want to do that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Alan Gray writes: “How about some rules of thumb on the right size inverter? And can any size be run off a car?” Pretty much — up to 2000-3000 watts pretty easily. There are bigger ones, but they’re best hardwired. Of course, you can run low-power stuff off the battery, but if you’re running more than a few hundred watts you really want the engine running. You want to keep the inverter close to the car — no 12-volt extension cables — and then run an extension cord into the house. You lose a surprising amount of power in cabling, though, so you want to keep things as short as possible.

MORE: Reader Curtis Franklin writes: “If you’re going to try to serve circuits in your house through a generator/inverter (rather than simply plugging appliances directly into the outlets on the power source), then it’s critical to have a transfer switch wired into your main breaker box. They’re not all that expensive (thought they’re a definite licensed electrician job) and they prevent power from your house from back-feeding into the local power lines — a situation that is dangerous for the people trying to restore power and can delay that restoration for hours while they track down the homeowner working so hard to kill them.” That’s true. Not many inverters big enough people would plug them into their house, but yeah.

And reader Allan Pierce writes: “A quick search on Fuel Dispenser Electrical Requirements turned up a gas pump mfr’s brochure, which suggests a gas station pump has one or two 1 horsepower pump motors. Figure about 1000 watts per motor, so the answer is yes. Big issue is safety: wiring the gas station with a power inlet and cutover switch for each pump near its electrical panel. Could be done under disaster-recovery conditions by electricians certified for hazardous area (explosion-proof) work. It’s better not to wait, but gas stations are low-margin businesses so this is unlikely to be done in advance of need unless required by law or encouraged by economic incentive for all stations in the most-vulnerable areas (hint to people doing post-disaster ‘lessons learned’ reviews).”

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: In Backup Generators We Trust? They’re handy, they’re not perfect.

On Monday, New York University’s Langone Medical Center lost power during Hurricane Sandy, and ended up having to evacuate 215 patients when the generator that was supposed to keep its charges alive and its critical systems running failed to turn on. Across the United States there are about 12 million backup generators. Most only operate during blackouts — times when a hospital, or a laboratory, or a bank, needs electricity and can’t get it from the larger electric grid.

But backup generators aren’t 100% reliable. In fact, they won’t work something like 20%-to-30% of the time, said Arshad Mansoor, Senior Vice President for Research & Development with the Electric Power Research Institute. The bad news is that there’s only so much you can do to improve on that failure rate. The good news: There are solutions that could help keep a hospital up and running in an emergency, even if the emergency power system doesn’t work.

It’s like having a car you never drive. The less you drive ’em the more they rust.

UPDATE: Reader Will Frye writes:

As one who was responsible for operation and maintenance of backup generators during my 37 year career I can assure you that emergency generation can be a LOT more reliable than a 20 to 30 percent failure rate. Of course like other electromechanical systems they require continual attention. Maintenance and training and testing on a recurring basis are essential.

They are expensive insurance policies for worst case scenarios and management has to understand their importance. If not valued and maintained they will degrade rapidly.

I don’t know what Langone Med Center did to prepare for the storm but if administrators failed to include testing the backup generators in their preparation plan they should be summarily fired. Testing doesn’t ensure the machines will come on line next time but it should make it highly likely.

And reader Billy Rawl emails:

Don’t know about others, but my 25 KW Generac has never failed when I needed it. But like a car, boat, airplane or any other piece of mechanical equipment, they have to be maintained. My worst nightmare is to lose electrical power and have a $10,000 inoperative generator, so I do everything I can to keep it in running order such as maintaining the battery, oil, coolant and make sure it runs for about 20 minutes every week. Well maybe not my worst nightmare. That would be if we get stuck for another 4 years with that charlatan in the White House.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to live normally with A/C or heat, lights, computers, TV, stereo, etc. when the rest of the neighborhood is dark and cold (or hot).

It’s probably even more wonderful to know that your ventilator will keep working. And reader Harmon Ward writes:

For dozens of engineering related reasons the vast majority of commercial backup generators run on diesel fuel. In California this has led to regulations which limit how often backup generators can be tested and how long they can be run while being tested. Even at hospitals. Hopefully our Air Quality Management District has factored in the amount of air pollution caused by an emergency evacuation.

Great. I hope that New York didn’t have similar rules.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Christopher Smith writes:

I’m a life long IT worker. I worked at a high availability data center on the weekend shift. One of my jobs was to run the backup generator once a week, take the readings on the 1000 hp diesel engine, check the fuel level, write down the power output readings every 10 minutes for an hour, etc.

A critical emergency generator should not fail to start. If it failed to start when you needed it or failed to provide the power it was meant to provide, that means you failed to properly maintain it.

One would think that a hospital’s maintenance schedule would be particularly rigorous.

MORE: An anonymous reader sends this:

The generator failed because it was flooded. No steps were taken to prevent flooding from the storm surge.

Once under water, there was no way for the thing to work.

Simple sandbagging would have prevented the failure. But no one bothered.

No supporting links, but if true it’s an egregious failure.

DISASTER PREPARATION: Can we escape the million-death earthquake? “A ‘rogue earthquake’ occurs on a fault that wasn’t identified as being particularly dangerous. That can happen in areas where earthquakes are very rare. You might get one every several thousands of years, so the last one was long before living memory.”

Here’s an earlier post on earthquake preparedness.

SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH. Okay.

Here are some bug-out bag recommendations, plus a list of things to keep in your car or SUV.

Here are some more key supplies. And you may want to visit Bill Quick’s disaster-prep discussion forum.

DAN RIEHL: “So that’s a derecho.”

Three days was enough, though. I had pretty much what I needed to get by, or you could get it by then. This was not a catastrophic event, as some homes, public buildings and stores of all stripes within driving distance were spared. Had this been truly catastrophic, say like an EMP attack? I’m fairly convinced the whole thing would have started to come apart pretty fast. You could tell by how many people reacted. . . .

An event like this does focus you, somehow – gives you a certain perspective it’s easy to lose sight of day-to-day. It also reinforced an old Clint Eastwood line from Magnum Force, believe it, or not: “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

Strange, perhaps. But I guess it was a teachable moment, or held a few of them, in some ways. I’m simply not altogether sure what else, if anything, I learned for now. I guess over time, maybe I’ll find out. It was an interesting three days.

Maybe gratitude has something to do with it. It almost sounds silly, now. But if you’re sitting there suffering somehow, large or small – and trust me, people were and still are from this …. The minute it all came back on, when you heard and felt that air conditioning kick on and you knew you could take a hot shower, again – or just go to the refrigerator for a cold drink, or something you wanted to eat? Strange as it may sound to you, there’s a gratitude, a beauty in that moment you can only hope to never forget. Imagine that? Hmm. What can I say? It was an experience. Leave it at that.

Here’s a post on low-budget disaster preparation, and some bug-out bag recommendations. Also, stuff to keep in your car or SUV. More here. And you might want to check out Bill Quick’s disaster-preparedness forum.

POPULAR MECHANICS IS AT THE Home Safety & Disaster Preparedness Show in Kenner, La.

BOB OWENS: Bunkers, Food, Armor: Disaster Prep Hits Mainstream.

I didn’t realize how mainstream it had become until Costco sent me an e-flyer: “Get Your Home And Garden Stocked For An Emergency And Save!” It promoted emergency preparedness, the top suggestions being a month of food storage supplies and emergency garden seeds.

Modern prepping has come a long way from the survivalists of the late 1990s.

As I wrote a while back, we’re all soldiers of fortune now. And if this stuff interests you, you might want to check out Bill Quick’s disaster-preparation forum. Also, here’s a list of some key supplies, and here are some bug-out bag recommendations.

CHANCE BALLEW: Disaster Preparedness For Kids.

TWELVE WAYS THE WORLD COULD REALLY END IN 2012. “Forget the Mayan nonsense. Goofy prophecies and Mesoamerican calendars won’t bring about the end of civilization, but there are at least a dozen scientifically valid ways the apocalypse could arrive before 2012 is out.”

Related: Post-Apocalyptic Disaster Preparedness.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Alabama tornadoes: Storms show limits of warning sirens.

That’s why it’s good to have a weather radio. I have this one, and it’s been good. But some readers who have both say that this one is better.

UPDATE: Reader Jenny Parker writes: “Glenn, my weather radio (neither one of your links) wasn’t being reliable the other night, so we tried the Wx Alert USA app for our phones, and it was fantastic. We just programmed it to sound for tornadoes, but it will sound or message for whatever you like (only absent zombies, really). Gives off the hideous NOAA sound, sure to wake you from anything.” Hmm. I’ll have to give that one a try. Though the reviews seem uneven.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Also, a list of pre-post-apocalyptic survival gear. More here.

SAN DIEGO BLACKOUT FOLLOWUP: Sewer, water problems highlight utility weak spots. “Thursday’s electrical outage did more than expose vulnerabilities in the region’s power system. It also highlighted the lack of backup power at some sewer and water pump stations across the county. Boil water orders were issued in several San Diego neighborhoods and more than 2 million gallons of sewage fouled the city’s coastline when key pieces of infrastructure failed.”

I’ve written about the need to harden systems against breakdowns so that they fail gracefully if they fail. Send these guys a book on resilience engineering. (I actually have this one. It’s pretty good).

Meanwhile reader Roger Bogh writes: “Finally all that Y2K yak provided some benefit. I work at a computer center and was the Y2K czar before the proliferation of czars under the current White House occupant – known as ‘The Black Swan Event President’. When I heard that power would be interrupted for 12+ hours I warned the folks to fill their tubs and buy bottled water. My friends thought I was nuts! Now, I can ask them how they like tasty organic matter traipsing about in their ‘precious bodily fluids’.”

And here’s a post on low-budget disaster preparedness.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Hurricane Irene: Some Lessons Learned.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum. And here’s a hurricane preparedness list.

Also, some bug-out bag recommendations. And some stuff to keep in your car or SUV.

UPDATE: Some preparation advice from Dr. Melissa Clouthier.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hints for boarding up your windows.

NEW MADRID REDUX: The Pentagon’s Quake Nightmare.

“Electric power would go out, not for days, but for weeks and months in the four state region,” he said. “Municipal water systems, they all run on electricity, don’t they? Well, people are gonna get thirsty. You need water for firefighting, don’t you? Second, all gasoline pumps run on electric power. Same with diesel fuel. So in terms of road mobility, of getting the relief forces in, and evacuating people out — no gasoline? The cascading failures go on and on.”

Harden the systems now. Every gas station should have a generator adequate to power at least one or two pumps. (And there’ll be plenty of gas!) Also, old gas pumps used to have a handcrank behind the panel. New ones, as far as I know, don’t. Maybe that’s a bad design?

Meanwhile, this is another reason to engage in disaster preparedness at home. The government won’t be there in a hurry.

SOME DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS THOUGHTS FROM READER KEN LIGHTCAP:

We just had major storms in the Kansas City Metro and we lost power for twenty-four hours beginning at 11:30 PM last Thursday night. Forty-eight hours later there were still over 20,000 homes without power. Here are three things I learned the hard way during this latest episode:

Grandchildren, if you are not vigilant, will find your emergency flashlights, play with them and leave them on even after they put them back in the drawer thus leaving you in the dark.

Consistency is your friend. Thursday night as I was falling asleep I realized that I had my cell phone in the bedroom and not out charging in the entry which I always do before going to bed. Just this once I said to myself, it will be OK. It wasn’t. The next day I fought a drained phone trying to find places to charge it (car, McDs etc.) I also didn’t check the weather before bed and because of that we lost our porch umbrella.

Keep a land line for phone and an old low-tech phone you can plug in when power goes out. The five station high-tech phone doesn’t work when there is no power but the old ATT princess phone still does fine. I refuse to give up my land line and even had ATT work it into my new U-Verse bundle.

Just some thoughts to add to the survival posts which have been very helpful to us as we live in severe storm country where we often lose power.

With Florida facing a hurricane threat, here are some hurricane pre-preparedness thoughts, and here’s a list of preparedness gear. Also, a roundup of more resources.

SO THE OTHER DAY I HAD A STORY ABOUT THE FBI TREATING “PREPPERS” AS POTENTIAL TERRORISTS, and then when I was in the car yesterday I heard a PSA from the Department of Homeland Security pitching . . . disaster preparedness via its Ready.gov site. So if you do what Homeland Security recommends, the FBI will wonder if you’re a terrorist. Sweet.

This isn’t really that surprising — one part of the government telling you to do things that another part of the government regards with suspicion. Each department has its own agenda, and its connection to any sort of overall strategy is largely coincidental. Treat them with the deference that this fact deserves . . . .

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Visit Bill Quick’s discussion page.

Related: Pre-Post-Apocalyptic Survival Gear. More here.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS? You might want to drop by Bill Quick’s discussion forum. And here’s a list of “must-read” survival books.

WELL, YES, IT DOES: Reader Tom DeGisi writes:

Your emergency preparedness stuff works. They said if I stocked up on bottled water I wouldn’t regret it. And they were right! Johnson County (near Kansas City) is under a boil order and all that bottled water really came in handy. Emergencies come in all sizes. Apparently a raccoon died in the wrong place.

Yes, you want some bottled water. If you’re more serious, a fancy filter. Bleach is good, too. More background here and here.

UPDATE: Reader Mary Pat Campbell sends this: The Key To Disaster Survival? Friends And Neighbors. “Aldrich’s findings show that ambulances and firetrucks and government aid are not the principal ways most people survive during — and recover after — a disaster. His data suggest that while official help is useful — in clearing the water and getting the power back on in a place such as New Orleans after Katrina, for example — government interventions cannot bring neighborhoods back, and most emergency responders take far too long to get to the scene of a disaster to save many lives. Rather, it is the personal ties among members of a community that determine survival during a disaster, and recovery in its aftermath.”

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Reader Brian Durant emails:

Professor Reynolds- I am a long time reader, but have never emailed you. Many times you have mentioned the need to be ready for disaster including having a “bug out” plan with bags ready, etc. Last THURS evening we learned the lesson the hard way. A wildfire forced us to evacuate our house in about 15 minutes- we grabbed a few valuables, a change of clothes, some toiletries, and headed out thinking we’d be gone for a couple of hours. More than 36 hours later were we were allowed to return. Fortunately thanks to God and some great volunteer firefighters, our house was spared. During the time away, I spent a lot of time trying to determine what I should have taken, would need to replace, etc. Please remind us again of the importance of being prepared (and a good list would be helpful, too.)

Happy to. Here are a bunch of my disaster preparedness posts. Here in particular is the one on low-budget preparedness.

Here are some bug-out bag recommendations, and here’s a list on survival preparedness for your car or SUV.

Here’s something from Jed Babbin, and you might also want to spend some time at Bill Quick’s survival discussion board.

And, really, just spend 15 minutes now — when you’re not distracted by having to evacuate and your head is comparatively clear — thinking about what you’d take, and where it is in your house, and then make a list. Then look at the list in a day or two and add what you forgot. Do that a time or two and you’ll be much better off.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

And here’s a disaster-preparation list. Here’s another.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? You might want to check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum if you haven’t already. And here’s a list of disaster-survival gear.

IN LIGHT OF SEVERAL TORNADO-RELATED EMAILS I’VE GOTTEN, here’s a link back to my post on low-budget disaster preparedness.

POPULAR MECHANICS: Portraits Of Devastation: Japan After The Tsunami.

Related: Is The U.S. Ready For The Next Big Quake? No.

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

IF YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY, my Sunday Washington Examiner column is on lessons from the Japanese disaster: From “Just In Time” To “Just In Case” — Disaster Preparedness And Resilience.

MY SUNDAY WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMN: From “Just In Time” To “Just In Case” — Disaster Preparedness And Resilience. (Bumped).

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS LESSONS FROM JAPAN: “Shops across Tokyo began rationing goods — milk, toilet paper, rice and water — as a run on bottled water coupled with delivery disruptions left shelves bare Thursday nearly two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami to the north.”

So one argument you see among prepper types is the importance of storing water vs. the importance of having a filter. Here, I’m pretty sure that storage wins — will even the fanciest Katadyn filter take out iodine? And, more generally, this supports the notion of having at least a couple of weeks worth of food stored as the U.S. government, et al., recommend.. (For the Japanese, with their cramped living spaces, that kind of preparedness would be much more difficult, of course.)

Anyway, if this kind of thing interests you, there’s lots of discussion over at Bill Quick’s forum, and here’s a list of disaster-preparation gear.

UPDATE: Reader Sean Neves writes:

On iodine in water, I just figured I’d ring to point out that “activated carbon” is the terminology to look for on a water filter. Usually, they are a post-filter element designed to remove iodine and chlorine from filtered water. Iodine and Chlorine are used to kill viruses and bacteria, while the filter removes cysts, protozoa and other nastiness that don’t get killed quickly by the chemicals. Perhaps it’s time for a water treatment thread? Lots of useful technology out there including various filtration and shortwave UV-C light technologies.

My knowledge of water treatment originates in my outdoor recreation pursuits, but has bled over into survival and emergency preparedness. Alas, there is a lot of shared technology between those fields.

Interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

WHY THE U.S. MAY BE AHEAD OF JAPAN in disaster preparedness. I’d say we’re somewhat less well-prepared on a government level, but somewhat better prepared on an individual level.

LIST: Basic Disaster Survival Items.

Plus, recommended preparedness books.

DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS APPS FOR THE IPHONE. And Android.

There’s also CiviGuard, but I didn’t see that in the App Store yet.

SOME PICTURES from that Japanese earthquake/tsunami.

And reader Kim Sommer writes: “Time to repost your links for disaster preparedness and resiliency. And you just did that last week. …watching the New Madrid fault with more suspicion…” Well, you can find most of my coverage of the subject here.

UPDATE: More from The Anchoress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A roundup of video and other thoughts at The Belmont Club.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? You might want to check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Related: A list of recommended supplies.

SCIENTISTS WARN OF $2 TRILLION “SOLAR KATRINA:”

The sun is waking up from a long quiet spell. Last week it sent out the strongest flare for four years – and scientists are warning that earth should prepare for an intense electromagnetic storm that, in the worst case, could be a “global Katrina” costing the world economy $2,000bn.

Senior officials responsible for policy on solar storms – also known as space weather – in the US, UK and Sweden urged more preparedness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington. . . .

The most intense solar storm on record, which ruined much of the world’s newly installed telegraph network in 1859, took place during an otherwise weak cycle. An 1859-type storm today could knock out the world’s information, communications and electricity distribution systems, at a cost estimated by the US government at $2,000bn.

In terms of terrestrial vulnerability, the biggest change since the 2000 peak is that the world has become more dependent on global positioning system satellites – and not just for navigation. The world’s mobile phone networks depend on ultra-precise GPS time signals for their co-ordination.

Read the whole thing. One problem with our fiscal profligacy is that it makes us less able to prepare for, or recover from, major disasters.

DUCK AND COVER (CONT’D): A Legal Manual For An Apocalyptic New York.

Major disasters like terrorist attacks and mass epidemics raise confounding issues for rescuers, doctors and government officials. They also pose bewildering legal questions, including some that may be painful to consider, like how the courts would decide who gets life-saving medicine if there are more victims than supplies. But courts, like fire departments and homicide detectives, exist in part for gruesome what-ifs. So this month, an official state legal manual was published in New York to serve as a guide for judges and lawyers who could face grim questions in another terrorist attack, a major radiological or chemical contamination or a widespread epidemic.

Hmm. I’m all for preparedness, but I do wonder what’s spurring this flowering of interest among the authorities. If there were a Republican in the White House it would all be put down to paranoia. So if it’s not paranoia, then what is it?

UPDATE: Reader Roland Mar emails:

Dr. Reynolds:

I am not totally out of the loop on matters of defense and terrorism. I am a retired Peace Officer who has had a sideline as a writer in the field, both in print and online under a pseudonym. This manual is another of many signs that disturb me. Consider:

1) the interview with the Deputy Director of the Port of San Diego who apparently admits that WMD [or Weapons of Mass Effect, the latest PC iteration of the concept] have been caught entering the country.

2) Obama’s statement that we could ride out a WMD attack.

3) Obama’s statement that if we are hit with a WMD strike, we would go to the UN first, and not retaliate.

4) The large numbers of Other Than Mexican/Central Americans caught crossing the border [and the knowledge that we only catch a small fraction of the illegals who make it in].

5) Now public planning for the imposition of Emergency Powers. I don’t deny the need for such powers, or consider them intrinsically evil. But they are coming to the fore in an interesting context; including an administration that demonstrates fecklessness and utter incompetence at a time of international turmoil.

I would add some knowledge of the subject gained during my career.

Something bad is about to happen. I am quite glad I live in a small town in the mountains.

Well, that’s encouraging.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Related: List: Recommended survival gear for your car or SUV.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

And here are some disaster-prep supplies, and — following up on the Jed Babbin item below — some bug-out-bag recommendations.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Balkenhol says that this tool should be part of your emergency preparation. Yes, and know where your water and gas shutoff valves are, and make sure the tool fits.

SOME DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS ADVICE from Jed Babbin.

MORE ON THAT CALIFORNIA SUPERSTORM SCENARIO, including this: “The 1861 and 1862 storms show what is possible. The 19th century featured much more drastic disasters than the 20th. In my previous post about the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes (Mississppi river changed course), the 1815 Mount Tambora VEI 7 volcanic eruption, the 1859 solar Carrington event and other awesome displays of nature’s power I made the argument that if the 21st century features disasters more like the 19th century then we are in some some tough times. But I missed out on the California storms of the early 1860s. With nearly 40 million people now such a storm would do far greater damage. Picture a 300 mile long lake in the Central Valley and hurricane-force winds.”

Given all the human-made disasters of the 20th Century, I suppose we should be glad that it was a period of comparative calm in other ways, but I think it did produce a false impression of what constitutes “normal.”

Meanwhile, you may want to check out Bill Quick’s disaster-preparedness forum. And here’s a disaster-preparedness list.

A LOOK AT DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN KNOX COUNTY:

Among the findings:

42 percent of Knox County adults said they have a three-day supply of water for each household member.

85 percent have a three-day supply of non-perishable food for each household member.

95 percent have a working flashlight and batteries.

11 percent have a written evacuation plan.

All in all, more than 17 percent of Knox Countians considered their household “well-prepared for a large-scale disaster or emergency,” while about a quarter said they’re “not prepared at all.”

Emergency response coordinator Larry Hutsell said he was “pleasantly surprised” that so many people were, at least, thinking about what they’d do in the event of a disaster – something the Health Department and other county and city agencies, working together, have gotten down to a science over the past several years.

Read the whole thing. Not bad, considering. If you’re interested, there’s more info at Bill Quick’s disaster-preparedness forum. And here’s a disaster-preparedness list too.

SO YESTERDAY’S POST ON LOW-BUDGET DISASTER PREP has produced still more email. Mostly it’s suggestions for what more people can do. That, of course, goes all the way up to a custom bomb-shelter / retreat in the mountains somewhere. But for most people, resources are limited. What are some things you can do that go beyond just keeping some extra groceries and bottled water? But not too far beyond?

You can keep a case or two of self-heating MREs around. They last a long time, they aren’t bad, and they’re more portable than canned foods if you have to leave home, but they don’t need separate water to prepare them like freeze-dried foods.

You might invest in a water filter, which will let you turn iffy water into drinkable water.

You should stock first-aid supplies and extra needed medications, in case you can’t get prescriptions refilled.

You might want some sort of backup power, ranging from a big uninterruptible power supply (keeps laptops and internet going for a long time, recharges cellphones, etc.) to a generator. Generators take annoying degrees of maintenance; a UPS can back up your computer or modem/wireless router until needed for more. But they put out a lot less power than a generator, and won’t keep your freezer from thawing. But generators cross the line into “more serious” as opposed to “slightly serious” preparedness, which is what this post is about.

Some additional source of heat. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you know how to start it without an electric igniter. If you have a woodburning fireplace or stove, make sure you have plenty of wood, and matches and kindling, etc. (Woodburning fireplaces aren’t much good for heat, really; stoves on the other hand put out a lot). A backup kerosene or propane heater is good, too. Propane is easier to store than kerosene, and there are some propane heaters that are supposed to be safe for indoor use — though I’d invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to go with any kind of backup indoor heat. Also, extra blankets. And wool socks! Maybe even a Snuggie or two. In case the power goes out in the summer, make sure you have screens on your windows so that you can open them without filling your house with bugs. A small battery-powered fan is nice, too — clip it on to the headboard of your bed and it’ll be easier to sleep on a sticky night. Keep plenty of batteries, too.

Backup lamps and lanterns. One nice thing I have are plug-in nightlights that turn on when the power goes off, so that stairs, etc., remain navigable. I have them at the top and bottom of stairs, and in parts of the house that would be really dark if the power went off. They double as flashlights. These look good, too.

A list of phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and various services — plumbers, doctors, etc. — that you won’t be able to look up on the Internet if the power’s out.

A shovel, a crowbar, a water shutoff tool that fits your hookup — make sure you know that it works, how to use it, and where your hookup is in advance — and other simple tools.

A couple of tarps. During the Great Water Incident of a couple of years ago, one of these saved my basement carpet when water started coming out of the ceiling. . . .

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape. And extra plastic garbage bags. Very versatile.

Any other reader suggestions for things that don’t cost too much, but would take disaster-prep up a level from yesterday’s post?

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Leahy writes: “Don’t forget a little extra food for the pets.” Good point.

Reader Peter Gookins emails:

This goes a bit beyond “prep on the cheap,” but you asked…

Generators-most people get one that’s much bigger than they actually need. Back north, I needed a large 240 volt generator (Honda ES 6500) to power the well pump, fridge and freezer when power went out (“locked rotor current,” which is the technical name for the high amperage required to start an electric motor from rest, on a 1 HP deep well pump is a LOT higher than the 8-12 amps (which, at 240 volts, is 1/2 the amperage it would be at 120; figure starting draw on most motors will be about 4X-5X running current; the 6500 puts out 52 amps and at pump start you could tell it picker up a lot of load) it takes to run the pump, and don’t forget that some stuff – like most -but not all- deep well pumps – are 240 volt only); here in Florida I’m on county water. During the 2004 hurricanes I loaned the big one to a neighbor, and it wound up feeding three houses for refrigerators, fans and TVs. I ran off a portable 120 volt 3K watt portable Honda RV generator (EU 3000) just fine, which powered the fridge, fans, lights and and a window AC at night for sleeping. Since then I’ve picked up a 2K watt Honda to use as “an infinite extension cord” at the gun club – it’ll power ONE saw, or a couple of floodlights and a fan, run cordless drill battery chargers, etc, and it weights 47 lbs. so it’s portable. Turns out it will run my fridge, some lights and a fan OR my window AC and some lights, all on less gas than the 3K watt Honda used. The fuel tank is small, but the RV crowd has solutions for that, just Google “EU2000+fuel tank.” And, Honda sells kits (but it’s cheaper to make your own) that allow tying two EU2000s together to get 3200 watts at 120 volts (about 26 amps) steady output. RVers do it all the time.

Remember, the smaller the generator the less fuel it uses. You can get aftermarket propane conversion kits for the Hondas, which I’ve considered doing with the 6500 when I move back north next year, because even with wheels under it it’s not very portable. I haven’t considered doing it with the 3K or the 2000 because having to drag around a propane tank reduces the portability, but if one expected a semi-stationary use, a propane conversion kit and a couple of 70 lb propane tanks would be a good investment. If I were staying in Florida I’d convert from electric water heater to propane tankless, and replace the electric range with a dual-fuel range, and stick a 250 gallon propane tank in the back corner of the yard. All the propane dealers here brag about how their trucks are propane-powered and they never missed a delivery during the hurricanes.

Speaking of well pumps…there is a great advantage to replacing the small well tank ( about 3.5 gallon draw down – one flush with old style toilets, so your pump is starting up a lot) builders always put in because it’s cheap with multiple large tanks. Well-X-Trol makes one that has a 46 gallon draw down from full before the pump needs to start and refill it. I put in two back north; in daily use the pump starts fewer times and runs longer, which extends its life, and when the power went out I ran the pump on generator until the tanks were full, which gave us 92 gallons before we needed the pump again. With water saving shower heads and minimal flushing we could get through an entire day (BTW, with a little judicious circuit breaker adjusting, one can power only one of the heating elements in an electric water heater with one’s generator, preferably the bottom element; takes a little while, but in 30 minutes or so you have a tank full of hot water. Check what wattage the elements are and replace the bottom one with a 4500 watt or 3800 watt (assuming the original is a 5500 watt) to ease the load on the generator. During normal use you won’t notice the difference.

If I were building my house from scratch, I’d consider putting in an underground propane tank and running everything off propane instead of natural gas, with a propane-powered generator thrown into the mix. A couple of deliveries a year and you’re semi self-sufficient.

Reader Anthony Swenson writes with a low-budget point that’s more in the spirit I meant for this post:

One of the cheapest things you can do – it won’t cost you anything but a nice smell in your laundry – is to make sure you always buy plain, unscented, unflavored chlorine bleach.

“In an emergency, think of this (one gallon of Regular Clorox Bleach) as 3,800 gallons of drinking water.”

Yeah, bleach is good for sanitizing stuff, too. I keep extra around — but it’s harder and harder to find plain old Clorox bleach anymore amid all the scented, splash-resistant, etc. stuff on the shelf. Read the label carefully. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Henry Bowman writes:

Another item to consider if you have a hybrid vehicle: a large inverter. I read an article a couple of years ago about a fellow in Connecticut who ran many of his electric appliances in his house for three days off his Prius, with inverter. He claimed it cost him 5 gallons of fuel. Seems like an inexpensive backup, and one for which you don’t need to worry about starting often, as is the case with a portable generator.

My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Houston vicinity, were without power for 13 days after Hurricane Ike. They have two Priuses: they could have used a couple of inverters.

A big inverter is a lot cheaper than a comparable generator, and probably safer, too. And you can use it to recharge your UPS. But the hybrid thing isn’t as easy as it sounds. The guy you mention modded his Prius, because the big honking battery that drives the electric motors doesn’t put out 12v DC, and the 12v power system that starts the motor in the Prius (or in my Highlander) is separate. So I’m not sure there’s any special benefit to having a hybrid unless it’s modified, but correct me if I’m missing something.

Speaking of cars, think about when you’re not at home. Reader Mike von Cannon writes:

A note about disaster kits: I work for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and starting the morning of Dec 26 our dispatch center was flooded with calls from tourists in rental cabins who were stranded and running out of food (it was even worse during the blizzard in 93, which also hit on a weekend), so even on vacation it would pay to buy extra in case we get more snow than you expect. many tourists who thought they’d be going home sunday were stranded til Wed or Thur.

Good advice. And you should travel with at least a bit of helpful stuff. I keep some emergency stuff in the back of the car — some food bars, water, a spare pair of shoes in case mine get nasty while changing a tire, etc., and assorted minor toiletries and hygiene products and, very important, a roll of toilet paper — which helps. (And if you can produce tampons in a pinch, you can be a hero to women everywhere.)

I use these food bars, because they stand up to the heat in the summer better and they’re not appetizing enough that people will snitch ’em just for a quick snack, and these water packets because they don’t burst if they freeze. Most of this stuff never gets used, but being stuck by the side of the road for an extended period just once makes it worth having.

Also: Some survival blankets, some basic tools, and a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. (Make sure it’s one with a can opener/bottle opener). And a roll of duct tape! I keep all of this in a small pack that takes up very little room in the back; there’s one in Helen’s car, too.

Reader Gary Saffer writes:

A couple of things that I didn’t notice in your disaster preparedness posts.

Chemical light sticks. A friend of mine suggested these for general use. They’re cheap, they provide enough light to move around, and they save batteries for more light intensive tasks. And of course, you can get them at Amazon.

Consider that under most circumstances, it’s going to be 48-72 hours before rescue or relief shows up. If you are planning for much longer periods of being off the grid, consider moving to a rural area where you can build you entire house around being off the grid for long periods of time.

Firearms. You don’t mention them, but everyone should have a means of self defense. The veneer of civilization is thin at the best of times, it vaporizes in a real emergency. The predators will be out fairly quickly because their disaster plan is to use your prepared material to survive on. They don’t know specifically who you are, but they’ll keep looking until they find someone who has the stuff they want. Or a firearm they want no part of.

Yeah, light sticks are cool, even if Joe Biden thinks they’re drug paraphernalia. The gun issue is a whole separate post, but a gun (or several) is important disaster-prep, but that moves beyond the “easy steps” focus of this post. And the rural retreat approach goes way beyond it.

Reader Tina Howard writes:

For those who actually have a landline: an old-fashioned, non-electric telephone that plugs into the phone jack & has the handset attached to the phone. Easy to identify because there is no electric cord with it. Our phone lines worked after 2003’s Hurricane Claudette but the cordless phones wouldn’t. Very cheap at Salvation Army Thrift shops.

In the same vein, keep the necessary cords to plug a computer directly into the phone modem, because the wireless router is also electric. We were able to get online and check weather and news reports, as well as make posts to update others.

Good advice. Yeah, an old-fashioned landline phone that uses line power is good to have. Cellphone batteries die. Phone company line power is more reliable than utility power. Some multi-handset wireless phone setups or answering machines have a handset at the base that still works when the power is out. (Mine does). Most don’t. You can also hook the base into a big UPS — they don’t draw much power so they’ll work for days that way if you do. Ditto your cable/DSL modem and wireless router.

Reader J.R. Ott writes:

Three lengths of sturdy rope,5/8 climbing rope,inexpensive clothesline type,for bundling up stuff,para chute chord,All three are handy for bug out 50′ min and a few short hunks.Each bundle of rope has a snap knife taped to it (about a dollar each from the paint dept) . . . . Lastly if folks can afford it a Westie dog or a Shepard,good alarm and a Westie will shred an attacker as they are very possessive Terriers and if the dogs women folk are attacked you would not believe how damaging the dog can be.

Dogs are good to have around. More advice on low-cost preparation here, from a reader.

I should also note that while having extra stuff is handy — if the roads are blocked, and you don’t have enough food, there’s not much you can do — it’s also important to have skills. Most of the survival books are aimed at somebody lost in the woods, but, again, a low-budget approach means being able to deal with home-based small-scale disasters. This book, When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, is a good focus. My own skillset is nothing to brag about: I can do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry stuff, but I don’t really like it because I’m a perfectionist, but not skilled enough to make it perfect very fast so I get frustrated. (Plus, I’ve usually got an article I should be writing, or something) However, it suffices for quick-and-dirty solutions to problems like clogged or burst pipes, etc. Being able to deal with that sort of thing is a big leg-up, and that’s the kind of thing this book addresses.

FINALLY: Good advice from reader Spencer Reiss: Keep some cash around. Preferably in relatively small denominations: “The universal solvent–gets anything else you need. and no power, no phone=no ATM, no credit cards. Post-Andrew desperate Miamians were driving halfway to Orlando to get some (and in some areas systems were down for up to two weeks). Much easier/smarter to keep $1000 stashed somewhere.”

DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS LESSONS FROM THE BLIZZARD:

The recent blizzard has shown once again the importance of having at least a basic short-term food store. Intentional slowdown or otherwise, people found themselves trapped in their home or apartment unable to go out for sustenance. Even if not technically trapped, many were in a position where they did not want to be forced out to face the elements or on to the dangerous roads.

The importance of having enough to eat and drink for a few days is matched by the ease of preparation. On your next trip to the supermarket, buy a few bags of beef-jerky, a jar of honey, and a mini-keg of beer and/or a few gallons of water. When you get home, put them away together in a cool dark place. That’s it.

Add some canned goods (with a mechanical can opener, and/or easy-open cans), a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and lantern, and a few extra blankets. (I don’t think the mini-keg of beer will really keep for a year, though.) You can do a lot more to prepare, but if you do this much you’ll be prepared for most reasonably-probable eventualities.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Rafton emails: “Never been much interested in your disaster-preparedness blogging until you mention this morning that one should stock a small keg of beer. You’ve now won me over.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Richard Dean writes: “Excellent advice on the storing essentials in case of a disaster, even a minor one. One word of caution: beware of the thin plastic gallon jugs of water sold at most grocery stores. They will keep for maybe a year before the plastic breaks down and they spring leaks. I found this out the hard way one time when I checked my emergency kit and found that my water had leaked and I had lost several cans of food, 100 rounds of premium handgun ammunition, a roll of duct tape, and a hand-crank emergency radio into a soupy mess. Luckily, it wasn’t during an emergency that I found this out.” Yeah, and if you store plastic containers directly on a concrete floor they break down faster. Canned goods shouldn’t be hurt by wetting, though, except for the labels.

MORE: Reader Paul Carlson writes: “For metal cans of food, write down the contents on the lid with a magic marker. Thus, if the labels do come off, you still know what you have before you open it.”

Meanwhile, Rick Lee emails:

After 9/11 I stored a bunch of emergency materials and had the nasty experience of plastic water jugs going bad and ruining a bunch of stuff in the garage.’ve never replaced those things… How SHOULD one store water?

And the response comes from reader Kevin Menard:

We buy the five gallon carboys that you normally stick in a water cooler. It’s a bit more expensive but the plastic holds up for years and we haven’t had a break or leak yet. I date them and use the oldest first. We opened a three year old one last year and the water was okay. Needed aeration but other wise fine. Since most of our emergency food is freeze dried, our expected emergency water usage will be higher. A forty pound propane tank and a propane stove help too. If you lived up north, you could run a camping heater off that too.

Yes, my sister-in-law — no prepper, but a poet — keeps those because her water comes from a well and she has to be ready for when the power goes off. Seems to work, er, well. And reader Marica Bernstein writes:

One thought about food preps. Canned goods, etc. are just common sense. But if you’re used to “real” food, I imagine it would be something of a shock to the system to switch abruptly to several days of the canned stuff. Making a weekly menu, and shopping for what you need on a designated grocery day (as opposed to stopping in at the store after work each day), wouldn’t solve all your problems, but at least you’d have on hand the items you’d need to carry on as usual– meal-wise (well, unless the disaster hits the day before grocery day).

We woke this morning after serious storm threats last night to discover we have no running water! No problem. We’re prepared.

Well, that’s always a comfort. And note that none of this requires Omega-Man style apocalypse planning — just maintaining a bit of a reserve. And when people do that, it helps things upstream, as everyone who does so is one less person trying to navigate jammed grocery stores, or calling 911 or whatever.

MORE: Bill Quick emails:

1. Crystal Geyser sells one gallon jugs of water made of the same long-lasting plastic as their smaller bottles.

2. Free: Rinse and reuse the two-liter bottles you get your soda pop in. They last forever, too, and have the added bonus that the water inside can be disinfected by letting them rest in direct sunlight. According to the medical doc posting here, the heat will kill all living organisms inside.

3. Those 2.5 gallon jugs with handles available at most drug and grocery stores will last forever, too.

All this and more, for those who read the “Water Storage at Home” thread at Survival-Preps.com!

I’ll just note that if you want to go a step farther, you might want a Katadyn (or similar) water filter, too. That lets you turn iffy water into drinkable water without having to store mass quantities. Also note that your hot water heater will contain many gallons of clean water, and your toilet tanks will, too — though you might want to treat or filter the latter, as much for your own peace of mind as anything else.

Plus, try-before-you-buy advice from reader Joseph Dorsett:

When deciding whether we wanted to go with freeze dried we got a “free sample” from e-foods direct. It actually cost the $14.95 shipping and handling. It was really pretty good though we decided to stick with canned goods and true individual meals for our boogie bags. We have friends who went with freeze dried because of the longer shelf life and variety of food. Readers may want to do this before investing in large lots. It will certainly give you a good idea of what the options are.

Yes, “large lots” go beyond the advice above, but if you’re storing food you should be sure it’s stuff people will want to eat. Even lousy food will keep you from starving, of course, but if you’re stuck at home for days because of an ice storm, food will be one of the few things that alleviates the boredom and it’s better if it’s good.

And reader Ken Lightcap writes:

Having been through several ice storms in Kansas City, once without power for four days and only partial power for another five, I was greatful beyond words for a gas hot water heater and a gas range and oven. It was forty-seven degrees in the house but we had hot water for showers (feeling clean is a huge morale boost) and always fire to cook and bake. Also, don’t over-look the old K-1 kerosene heaters popular in the 70s and 80s. I was glad I never threw mine away. It kept pipes from freezing for nine days.

I keep one of those kerosene heaters, and an indoor-rated propane heater. When I was a little kid, we got through the Great Northeastern Blackout fairly well because we had a gas stove. It would have been much worse if we’d had all-electric.

And reader Peter Gookins offers this advice for canned goods: “Don’t forget to write the purchase date on the tops of canned goods so you can use the oldest first.”

EVEN MORE: Reader Tom Anderson writes:

One easy thing to do to prepare for an emergency is to keep an extra full tank of propane for your gas grill. Not only will you never run out of propane in the middle of a barbecue, but if you lose electric power for your stove/range you will be able to cook for days using your grill.

In addition, troll Craigslist for a lightly used generator; people buy them after a storm or hurricane, then sell them after they sit for a few years. I bought one in excellent condition for $50 that would not run because an oil pressure sensor went bad from sitting too long. $20 in repairs plus a siphon line so I can use the 25 gallon gas tank in my SUV as a gas reserve of fresh gasoline and I’m good to go.

Combine the generator, the mini-keg of beer, and the gas grill, and I’m almost looking forward to an ice storm.

Heh. Meanwhile, reader Drew Kelley wonders why I’m not talking about MREs. Well, no reason — you can keep a case handy for fairly cheap, with heaters even. But they kind of go beyond the sort of incidental-effort preparedness that was the theme of this post.

FINALLY: Reader Alan Colon writes:

I am the Emergency Manager for my city, and you hit almost all of the high points in your posts on preparedness.
The most important things are the simple things. Have food and water, have medications and essential supplies (baby food, diapers, etc) for 96 hours.

That said, here’s a couple of things people should know about their homes:

Heat:
– Modern homes are very tightly insulated and wrapped with vapor barrier. Using any kind of fuel based heater (propane, etc) inside the house is an invitation to carbon monoxide poisoning.
– If your house has a gas fireplace, find the instructions and learn how to light it without the electrical igniter (wall switch) normally used.
– If your house has gas heat, it usually takes relatively few amps to run the fan the the electronic controls. With a power connector wired in and a small generator, you can keep your furnace running for a long period of time.

Phone:
– Make sure you have an old-fashioned plug-in phone in the house (less than $10 at your local big box). If power goes out your cordless phones are dead. A cheapie analog phone is powered from the phone line and will continue to function of the power is out.
– If you have gone all cellphone or VOIP, consider keeping a landline phone line on the cheapest plan your phone company will give you. With power outages, cell sites are quickly overloaded with calls, then they go offline after their backup batteries quit. Without power, DSL and cable lines will fail, then knocking out your VOIP service.

Backup Power: This is not cheap, but it provides definitive standby capacity:
– If your home or business has gas service, companies make relatively inexpensive natural-gas-powered standby generators which will auto-start and run off gas pressure (which is not dependent on the electrical grid being up).
– These will provide power for critical circuits such as heat, hot water, cooking, basic lighting, etc.
– Installed prices can be under $3000

Thanks for helping get the word out!

Happy to. I should note that you can get tri-fuel generators that will run on natural gas, propane, or gasoline, though they’re pricier. That’s kind of beyond the scope of this post.

AN INTERVIEW with longtime blogger Heather Havrilesky about her new book, Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir.

AT AMAZON, it’s the holiday toy list. I ordered my six-year-old nephew the Snap Circuits SC-750 electronic project kit. I’ve ordered him the junior versions in the past, but he seems to be such a prodigy that this year I’m taking him up to the big version.

UPDATE: Science fiction writer Sarah Hoyt (author of Darkship Thieves) emails:

On the snap-circuits toy — not only did my younger son love it, but shortly after we moved to this house (when he was eight) we had a power outage and couldn’t find our battery radio to figure out what was going on and if there was any real danger/need to evacuate. The kid assembled us a “radio” in minutes. Okay, you had to put your finger on it and serve as a living antenna to hear it, but it served its purpose. So, it’s a toy AND disaster preparedness equipment. :)

Great story, and I’ll bet he’ll remember that he did that for the rest of his life.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS UPDATE: A free downloadable guide to surviving radiological disasters.

WORRIED ABOUT DISASTERS? You might want to check out Bill Quick’s disaster-preparedness forum, where that’s what they talk about.

Also, a list of disaster-preparedness supplies, and some “bug-out bag” recommendations.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Related: List: Disaster-Preparedness Supplies.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Related: List: Disaster Preparedness gear.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.

Related: Some recommended hurricane-prep supplies.

When Bill wrote to thank me for plugging his forum a while back, I explained that I want to make sure that any post-apocalyptic world contains a disproportionate number of InstaPundit readers. This is probably more sensible than my old plan involving bikini models.

SERIOUS DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Planetary Defense Coordination Office Proposed to Fight Asteroids.

WORRIED ABOUT DISASTERS? Check out Bill Quick’s disaster-preparedness forum, where that’s what they talk about.

Also, a list of disaster-preparedness supplies, and some “bug-out bag” recommendations.

INTERESTED IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s new online forum.

Related: Post-Apocalyptic survival gear.

BILL QUICK HAS SET UP A discussion forum on disaster preparedness.

IN RESPONSE TO LAST NIGHT’S DISASTER-PREP POST, a reader emails:

Sorry for the late night mail but my Wife and I are thinking about the coming Earthquake in Southern California, it will come ,no doubt. We just restocked with 2 five gallon water jugs and 20$ worth of Campbells soup, as well as Lots of ammo and batteries, the biggest question, and I know the 4×4 roads is, how do we get out? I fear the GOV won’t help us and we will be left to our own devices. That said, what do I do about my neighbors? They will come “calling”,…. any thoughts?

If you can afford it, I recommend stockpiling enough for them, too. Food can be pretty cheap, and while it’s hard to store a lot of water, you can have an extra filter and/or some jugs of bleach. When things go bad, it’s good to have friends.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Food can be very cheap. The local grocery store often has 25 lb sacks of rice on sale for less than $10. That and a sack of dried beans (maybe $15) can keep a couple people going for several days, probably long enough for basic transport services to be restored, all for the cost of a few fast food meals, or a family night out at the movies. It can keep for a long time–years, if stored correctly.

And it beats looting for food during a disaster, or trusting to government efficiency for organizing disaster relief.

25 pounds of rice is a lot of rice.

UPDATE: Reader Ray Dawson writes:

Growing up living in Utah, I’ve always been concerned with keeping at least a 72 kit, after Katrina, my personal kit went to a week.
Now after reading my fair share of “apocalyptic porn” like “One Second After” I’m going to a months supply in my house. Last year a transformer blew and we were with out power for 2 days. I was actually embarrassed how well off we were compared to out neighbors.

But the most interesting thing is how many people open talk about preparedness, it used to be just Mormons and militia members. Now it’s pretty common. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a waitress who told me her and her friends were preparing for Zombies, storing food, making bugout plans. She couldn’t bring herself to worry about EMPs or solar flares, earthquakes, etc. but she could, (and was!) preparing for zombies.

I wonder if people talking about zombies are subconsciously preparing for the next Katrina.

P.S. Killer site on how to buy a years worth of food for $225 a person.

For the zombies…

Yeah, the Zombie Squad folks capitalize on this. And you can never be too prepared for the zombies.

And I’ve noted the mainstreaming of survivalism before.

THOUGHTS ON SURVIVING KATRINA.

Plus some earlier disaster-preparation posts, here and here.

Related: We’re Still Not Ready For Another Katrina.

And here are some Katrina lessons.

A DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS REMINDER: Los Angeles ‘Big One’ Could Come Sooner Than Expected: Study. More on earthquake preparedness, here. Also here. Remember, when disasters strike, it’s usually “unexpectedly.”

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Is The United States Ready for the Next Big Quake? In a word, no. Lots of disaster-preparedness resources here, plus danger for the midwest. Also, some disaster preparedness lessons from Haiti.

Related: List: Survival Essentials.

UPDATE: Chuck Simmins writes:

Disaster planners overlook some of the dangers of the New Madrid fault that would endanger the entire northeast and probably the entire eastern seaboard.

What happens to all the oil and gas pipelines that cross the Mississippi in the probably quake zone? What happens to the major electrical power lines?

Imagine the Northeast without natural gas and the electrical grid down due to the loss of the high tension power lines. Imagine that in January.

I’d rather not.

FROM READER BRUCE WEBSTER, a one-page disaster preparedness checklist.

LIST: Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. More important zombie-prepping advice here.

UPDATE: Reader Joseph Dorsett writes: “Whether or not the Zombie horde comes the second link you provided is very good if a disaster breaks. Enough food and water in a backpack for three days. Everyone should throw something like that in the back of the vehicle. Lately evidence has shown that it takes that long for the Government to get ready to help.” Yes, at best. And it’s amazing how much zombie-prep has in common with disaster-preparation in general . . . .

UPDATE: Professor Stephen Clark emails:

Robert Dorsett writes that it seems to take the federal government three days to respond with relief in the wake of a disaster. What you and your readers need to understand is that, in the wake of 9/11 and Katrina, FEMA has been pressing state and county officials charged with managing first responders to have plans in place to fend for themselves for up to three days without federal assistance.

My wife works for a regional planning commission and has had to deal with some aspects of the planning process here in our region. This is something that has been ongoing nationwide for a couple years. While FEMA and the federal government would try to bring relief the moment it is needed, the bottom line is that you need to be prepared to tough it out for three days before relief arrives. It may take that long.

Or longer, judging from the Gulf experience.

MORE: Apocalypse thoughts from War Nerd. “If there was a mass of zombies swarming the streets, I’d feel pretty good about it. Remember that scene in Dawn of the Dead when they’re on the roof of the mall picking off zombies to pass the time? It’d be that easy. Being braindead is not an advantage in war, believe it or not.”

STILL MORE: A reader emails:

Now, I’m in Earthquake country, so it’s more a shelter-in-place then get-outta-dodge situation here, but it seems to me that apart from the *need* to be prepared to handle yourself for three days, the last thing you want to be doing three days — a week — ten days into an emergency is spending your entire day in the bread-line, even if there is a bread-line to be had. I have enough food (and fuel, and water, and beer, and scotch, and hand tools) to take care of my family for a solid 14 days. You don’t want to burn your gasoline to go hang out for ten hours to get a day’s worth of food. So I’ll be in a position to help folks on my street, or for the unexpected house guest, if the wait is longer than the expected three days. (I also have the advantage that, despite being in suburban San Francisco, have a decent open space behind me with turkey, deer, and some other edible things which I’ll kill in short order (and a damned sight sooner than my neighbors) to stretch my supplies, “unlawful discharge” ordinances notwithstanding).

Good point. (Bumped). Especially about the beer and scotch. I need to add to my stockpiles. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Richard Egan emails:

I do some work with emergency management groups and the general consensus is that prep for a minimum of 3 days should be on hand per person. Key is clean drinkable water, at a minimum of 64 oz per day and you need to think of pets also. In our area it would be stay in place so planning for two weeks is appropriate. If you are in an area where you probably have to leave then 3-5 days in a bug out bag per person is good. The food should be stuff that could be eaten without adding water or heating, vacuum sealed for weight considerations.

Some general links for water.

FEMA tips.

All good advice. And Rachel Pereira emails:

You may want to mention to your minions that cash is important in their disaster preparedness pack.

In 2004, when we got slapped with 3 back-to-back hurricanes (in Orlando, which is in the middle of the state), my husband and I learned the hard way, after the first ‘cane (Charlie), that our Visa check card was useless since most of the city had no power for days and days. And we never have cash on us. So even if we wanted to go stand in a three hour line to buy ice, we could only do so if the company was compassionate enough to accept a check. (happily, they took our check)

Cash is key. And now we have a couple bucks stashed away, just in case.

Also, for those who still have a home phone, a cordless phone does not work with no power. Best Buy had the funniest signs on their door after Charlie: we sell Corded phones! And cell phones die quickly when cell
towers are knocked down, and the cell phone is searching for a signal.

Yes, keep some cash (plenty of small bills!) handy. Some of the hand-cranked emergency radios will charge a cellphone, too.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Choosing to be a victim.

I’VE WRITTEN REPEATEDLY on the importance of disaster-preparedness. Boston’s water problems are just another example of why it matters. You should keep at least a few gallons of water stored against emergencies. Also, remember that hot-water heaters and toilet tanks store many gallons and can be accessed in a pinch. But it’s not a bad idea to have some bottled water handy to avoid that. Also, a high-quality filter might be nice.

UPDATE: Here’s a post on water filters and other sources of emergency water.

THINGS WEREN’T AS BAD IN CHILE AS IN HAITI, but it’s still worth reprising this piece on disaster-preparedness lessons.

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND: AlfonZo Rachel reports from Boston. And likes it so much, he does it again.

Scott Brown’s rally in Worcester.

Your Homeland Security tax dollars at work.

Lady Gaga Barbie. (Not as cool as SpongeBob Barbie).

I defend President Obama over Haiti relief complaints. Plus, the importance of disaster preparedness.

Anti-ObamaCare rallies in Troy, Michigan and Racine, Wisconsin.

Peter Orszag and responsible fatherhood.

Taking a gold in the Dumb Vice-Principal Olympics.

So that 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was a miserable sham, or something.

It’s okay to lock up innocent people if your politics are correct.

Sanjay Gupta is a hero. The Belgians, not so much.

More on the Visclosky / PMA scandal.

HAITI UPDATE: London Times: Haiti earthquake: a few more rescues, but aid still slow. “Nobody can go anywhere without security in the city. No aid workers can go anywhere without taking risks with security. That adds to the difficulty of delivering the aid because you not only have to have transport – which is rare – you also have to have some sort of security with you, or you are taking a risk. People are getting angry, people are getting hungry and thirsty.” This is sounding kind of familiar.

As I mentioned before, disaster relief isn’t like ordering a pizza. It’s hard to get aid into a place where the infrastructure has been wrecked and ordinary social order broken down. I’m seeing some people start to go after Obama on this in an obvious echo of the Katrina-based criticism of Bush. I understand the appeal of payback, but I don’t see any evidence that Obama has blown it here; this stuff is just hard. Of course, the press won’t go after him the way they went after Bush, but that’s a given.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Greene writes:

Glenn I hope your readers are paying attention.

Granted, Haiti didn’t have a very robust infrastructure to begin with, nevertheless its experience should be an object lesson for every American: In a natural disaster, aid is probably not coming nearly as fast as you think it should. It isn’t coming as fast as you think it will. And aid isn’t coming as fast as you’re going to need it.

If you’re not prepared to go it on your own for at least a couple of weeks, with your own supplies of food and especially water and emergency medical supplies, then you probably deserve your fate. Those of us who survive will be all the better off in a significantly cleansed gene pool.

Might be a good time to link people to this … just as a reminder that the United States is also due some natural disasters of epic proportions.

Well, if the Yellowstone Caldera really blows, the only good preparation will be a trip to Australia — taken before it lets go. But this Haiti earthquake has had me thinking about the New Madrid fault, which could wreck things across a very large part of the United States. And, yeah, you need to be ready to look after yourself for at least a week, preferably two or three at a minimum.

Lots of disaster-preparedness resources here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some readers think Kevin Greene’s comments are a bit harsh. Well, yeah, but I think they were meant to get your attention. Did they?

Meanwhile, reader Jeff Cook writes:

What I haven’t seen posted, and know from personal experience, is that there is almost nothing worse than a flood (i.e. New Orleans).

When the fire burns out, when the tornado moves on, when the earth stops wobbling, you’re left with a mess and a bunch of bodies. With a flood, your left with a mess, a bunch of bodies and ten feet of water on top of them, and almost nowhere to even land a helicopter, not to mention drive a Humvee or park a generator.

I’ve been through one, (Texas Medical Center 2001) and worked in the aftermath of Katrina. Pure misery and helplessness. No excuse for having a quarter horse association president as your FEMA director, but some perspective of the relative difficulty of response is appropriate.

Yeah, and the damage extended over a very large area, blocking roads, railroads, etc.

MORE: Another reader emails:

You are very correct to be thinking of the New Madrid Fault at times like this. The New Madrid when it goes off will make Haiti look like a garden party.

There is a sort of sneering that goes on at times like this. Look at at that backward country down there. The question is does anyone think Memphis and St Louis would fare any better? Memphis despite knowing better built a huge glass pyramid on a sandbar. Those brick homes and office buildings will come tumbling down with perhaps much more devastation

The death and destruction would have world wide consequences. The Mississippi River would likely change course after the levees break and wipe out critical parts of the United States and indeed the world’s food supply in the Delta. The nation’s most critical Highway would be out of use for some time. In fact the Mississippi River might be coming through your home. What about the critical pipelines that take all that critical oil and gas up north.

There would massive food disruptions and yes rationing on a nationwide basis.

The massive death and disease would be something else.

Here is the frightening thought. Haitians are used to have no support and largely having to get by on their own. In my view the average American might not have the survival skill that the people of that Island do. It might not pretty.

So while look at poor Haiti perhaps we need to be preparing here.

This is not some DOOM and GLOOM History Channel scenario. The Madrid Fault will go off and it is very overdue

One would think the media would make the connection and might mention this all this.

Last time it happened, there was damage in Knoxville — and there wasn’t much of Knoxville to damage. There have been some efforts to prepare for this, particularly in the Memphis / St. Louis corridor, but not enough. Here’s an earlier post on that.

And another reader emails: “When one adds in the looming San Andreas fault catastrophe and the cataclysmic danger to the east cost from the megatsunami that a Cumbre Vieja eruption-caused collapse of the La Palma mountainside in the Canary Islands would most likely cause, there isn’t much of the US that ISN’T under some Sword of Damocles or other.” Carpe Diem, and all that. But also be prepared. . . .

STILL MORE: Reader Ben White emails that people are being too gloomy:

You can look back at any number of disasters that have hit different parts of the US. Remember the disastrous Mississippi River flooding? No widespread deaths. No panicking. No anarchy. Remember the hurricane after Katrina that hit Texas? You probably don’t, because there was no widespread media-hyped chaos. It was hurricane Rita.

The difference is the people. Midwesterners won’t have the problems that New Orleans residents have. Living in a neighborhood with smart, capable people of good character is, by itself, an effective disaster preparedness measure. New Madrid is a threat, but it threatens us where we are the most resilient.

Your readers should try to remember what country they live in. America may be in decline, but every town is not Detroit (or New Orleans, or Washington DC) yet.

Well, people tend to do better than expected in disasters, but a major New Madrid quake would be awfully bad.

“MONEY IS WORTH NOTHING NOW, water is the currency.”

This is something that’s come up in past disaster preparedness posts. If you’re keeping emergency supplies, it’s a good idea to stock a water filter, along with bottled water, etc. And don’t forget that toilet tanks, hot water heaters, and pipes trap clean water.

ADVICE ON DISASTER PREPAREDNESS from Popular Mechanics.

Unaccountably, however, they’ve omitted the zombie threat.

UH OH: “A series of small earthquakes that rattled central Arkansas in recent weeks could be a sign of something much bigger to come.” Just a little disaster-preparedness reminder . . . .

THIS SEEMS LIKE A GOOD, AND CHEAP, DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS IDEA: Distributing weather-warning radios to local schools, nursing homes, etc. By “cheap,” though, I mean comparatively so. There’s a $321,000 grant to distribute “over 300” of these radios. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got one and it works fine, but it sells for under fifty bucks. Can the ones they’re distributing be that much better? Even with overhead, you’d think you could distribute a lot more of these for $321,000. Heck, if you use Amazon with free shipping, all you need is a list of addresses — no overhead for distribution, just pay a flunky to type them in. At that price you should be able to distribute over 6,000 even allowing for paying the flunky . . . .

IN LIGHT OF THE CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES, some disaster preparedness reading: Amanda Ripley’s The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why.

Ripley also has a blog.

UPDATE: Reader Debbie Eberts writes:

Glenn, I’ve read Amanda Ripley’s book. It’s interesting, but a little dry. I also recommend “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why” by Laurence Gonzalez. In it, he looks at more individual cases. For example, 4 people trapped on a raft in the middle of the ocean, why only two survive. Gonzalez’ theory is how your brain responds to severe stress will determine your likelihood of survival. The people best able to endure are those that can bifurcate between their logic and their emotion and not let the emotion overcome the logic. I’m not doing the book justice – it’s a fascinating look at survival and also why seemingly intelligent people do seemingly stupid things when they are in a crisis. (Hint: from their vantage point, it does not seem stupid at all). Thanks for all your great work!

Thanks! I think I posted something on that a while back.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ah, yes, here.

A “KATRINA-STYLE” CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE DISASTER is overdue. Actually, I’d say a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area would be a lot worse than Katrina.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I analyze disasters for a living, and while your comment about a San Francisco quake being a bigger disaster than Katrina might well be true, I believe of even bigger concern is a Midwest quake.

We know that the San Francisco area can generate quakes around magnitude 8.0. But the region is very active, and building codes and response procedures are well tested; also, quakes in California tend to be
relatively localized.

The New Madrid region, centered around New Madrid, Missouri, has generated some of the largest quakes to hit the U.S. back in 1811 – 1812. Since the region has been so stable in the meantime, building code enforcement is largely unknown, and response procedures are poorly developed and largely untested. In addition, the nature of the area produces much lower rates of attenuation, so the area affected by high severity shaking would be much larger.

I agree. I believe I’ve blogged on that before. As I’ve noted before, the last big New Madrid earthquake actually damaged buildings here in Knoxville, many hundreds of miles away. A reason to take building codes and disaster preparedness more seriously wherever you live.

OKAY, THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL LIST that I linked earlier is a bit over-the-top. Here are some more realistic disaster preparedness lists. But remember, buying stuff is nice, but you also need skills, and a plan, in advance of bad things happening. Those don’t come from a store. You might consider training through the Red Cross, or CERT.

IF YOU’RE IN GUSTAV’S PATH, IT’S TOO LATE for this stuff, but here’s a roundup on disaster preparedness. It’s not like Gustav will be the last hurricane.

PHOTO: Why you should do your disaster preparedness in advance.

POLITICO: McCain: I may postpone convention.

Instead of doing that, how about having delegates on the floor putting together relief packages, and sending a group of volunteers down afterward, with Sarah Palin in charge?

UPDATE: Reader Brian Gates emails:

Make it a telethon. Show up on Tuesday and say, “The normal festive atmosphere certainly isn’t appropriate right now, but we wanted to take this opportunity to demonstrate how people can work together to solve problems without government. We think there’s too much money in politics anyway, so for convention week we’re not accepting donations. If you find yourself agreeing with the kinds of things we talk about on this stage, call in and make a donation to one of these fine, nonpartisan charitable organizations.”

Intersperse the political speeches with little how-tos on disaster preparedness. Have live feeds from civic groups throughout the South who are hosting people fleeing the storm, saying what they need. By the end of the week, the storm should be past, and McCain’s speech can be a celebration not of his candidacy, but of what people accomplished to help each other without a single dime being shuffled through Washington (and getting transmuted into a nickel en route).

If the Democrats are smart, they’ll take the same approach, and immediately distance themselves from Michael Moore’s comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Apparently, McCain’s way ahead on this: “John McCain and the GOP are considering scrapping political speeches and turning their St. Paul/Minneapolis convention into a ‘service’ program to help victims of Storm Gustav, The Post has learned. . . . The contingency plan – a worst case scenario if the storm devastates coastal areas – would turn Republicans into Red Cross-type volunteers who would help collect donations, food and goods to help storm victims.”

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS — PRUDENCE, OR PARANOIA? The latest Ask Dr. Helen column is up!

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: In the wake of the L.A. earthquake — minor, but a reminder — here’s a big roundup on disaster preparedness and survival. And here’s a link to the LAFD earthquake-preparedness manual (PDF) which has lots of useful stuff going beyond just earthquake issues. More on disaster-preparedness here.

THOMAS MADDEN: America’s Days Aren’t Numbered.

Nonsense. America is doomed to go down any day now, and it has been ever since I was a kid. At least if you judge by bestselling books . . . . Some earlier thoughts on this subject here.

UPDATE: Of course, if you disagree with me, you could always be bringing your child up to survive the next World War.

But following one of his recommended links I get this customer review: “A ‘MUST-READ’ to prepare for Y2K Transition!” I wonder what that guy thinks now. Hey, just because all the earlier apocalyptic predictions have been wrong doesn’t mean the new ones have to be. And I’m all for disaster preparedness. Just with, you know, a little perspective.

APPEALING TO BUDGET VACATIONERS AND DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS ENTHUSIASTS ALIKE: A camping equipment sale.

HO HUM, A GOVERNMENT SUCCESS STORY:

Much of the Mississippi River Valley is now underwater, and the Associated Press reports from East St. Louis, Ill., that FEMA’s performance has been exemplary . . . . Now, we’d like to see some investigative reporting into the differences between the Gulf Coast in 2005 and the Upper Midwest in ’08. We’re not prepared to accept on FEMA’s say-so that its leaders learned the lessons of Katrina and everything works now. It’s possible that Katrina was simply a harder-to-manage challenge because it was such a massive storm and because it hit an area (especially New Orleans and Louisiana) with weak social structures and poor government.

Either way, though, the claims that Bush deliberately neglected disaster preparedness have been disproved. If the Katrina-era problems have been remedied, then the Bush administration’s shortcomings were real but inadvertent. If not, then FEMA always was up to the task of an ordinary-scale disaster, and those who expected better of it in Katrina were unrealistic.

Or, possibly, things in New Orleans weren’t as bad as the media claimed at the time.

SPIKE LEE ON making Washington, D.C. a “chocolate city.”

UPDATE: More thoughts from Juliette Ochieng: “Obama’s chronic dissembling has some of my white brethren nervous about everything. But if you want to pick on something Lee said, pick on the idea that more black people in DC would mean better management of disaster preparedness. If that concept were true, there would be no whining about Katrina in the first place.”

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.:

Last Friday’s power outage forced the White House to go to backup generators and left a 30-block section of downtown Washington darkened for nearly three hours. The blackout raises anew worries that the nation’s capital still isn’t prepared to respond to an unexpected crisis nearly seven years after 9/11. At the heart of the problem are sluggish responses from public officials and an alert system that can be all but paralyzed by indecision and inaction. This must be fixed now — before there’s a real emergency. . . . Heaven help us if there’s ever a natural catastrophe or major terrorist attack.

Read the whole thing.