Friday, November 9, 2012

Testing Your Emergency Plan

This is a guest post by Tom from  http://www.campingsurvival.com/ who is a blog sponsor (ads on the right) Check out the website and keep them in mind, they have neat stuff! Thanks

If you read my column regularly, you know the importance of an emergency plan as an integral component of your overall urban survival skills. Yes, it’s great if you keep a first aid kit, MRE and water on-hand, but unless you’ve mapped out how you plan to use your supplies, you’ll be a lot less effective in helping yourself, your family or your neighbors to get through a natural disaster or civil emergency. An emergency plan is vital, and testing that plan is equally critical.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast last week, we were within the projected path, giving us a chance to really test our emergency plan. We went through all the details that I’ve mentioned to you in previous blogs, and guess what? We found holes in our own emergency plan! Thankfully, we didn’t get hit by the storm directly, and this valuable experience has helped us identify the changes that needed to be made.
How concerned should you be about an emergency plan run-through? I’ll give you some examples of situations that people have found themselves in, and let you be the judge:
  • During a power outage, the homeowner retrieves a flashlights, only to discover that the batteries, which were stored inside the flashlight, have gone dead. (Tip: To keep batteries from discharging, don’t insert them into your flashlight until you need them.)
  • Emergency supplies were stored in different areas of the house, making it difficult to find them during a power outage, slowing evacuation.
  • The backup generator has been stored for years without being used, causing the fuel inside to spoil and making it impossible to start.
  • Critical emergency supplies were storied in the basement and were flooded before they could be used.
Testing your emergency plan doesn’t require you to wait for a massive storm. Simply set up scenarios that you could likely face in a real emergency. I’ll give you three possible drills you could test against your emergency plan, and think about others that match situations you could
  • High winds snap a tree branches, plunging your town into darkness. You need to be able to find your generator in the dark, get it started and run the appropriate extension cords to critical appliances.
  • A tanker truck crashes on a nearby road, emitting a toxic cloud. You need to have your go-bag (including food water, spare clothes, insurance papers, ID, prescriptions and any other items) and your family in the car within five minutes, ready to evacuate.
  • You’re alerted to a surprise snowstorm while at work. You need to plan out an effective route home, both by your normal route and by a secondary route in case the roads are clogged. You also need to contact all family members, arrange transportation home, and ensure that there’s enough food in the house to endure multiple days stuck inside.
If you have kids, you certainly don’t want to scare them with doomsday scenarios, but teaching them age-appropriate preparedness skills will make them better equipped to face the realities of life. Many stories have been told of children who saved the family from harm by knowing what to do in an emergency. And instilling your family members with the idea that you’re all a responsible for each others well being is never a bad thing.
Be safe and stay alert,


Anonymous said...

I met a guy the other day who lives on the 25th floor overlooking Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. That's pretty classy. So when the power went out he didn't have running water or an elevator. So he had to walk down 25 flights to first find a store open with water and then haul it up the 25. So he's ready to be prepared. On the other hand, I met a woman with the same situation up off of Park Ave in the 20's. When I asked her if she struggled like he did and she responded. "No, we have building staff for that." She was happy with that. Irene missed us in Manhattan. Sandy glanced us and made perimeter of lower Manhattan a devastation. What most of Manhattan Island got with Sandy was 20-30 mph winds with a few 40 to 80 mph gusts. If a 60mph sustained wind storm with regular 80mph or more gusts ever hit midtown Manhattan, it would be over here forever. Best to just prep to get out.

Don Williams said...

1) People think of Manhattan as a trap --but from a sailor's viewpoint it has a lot of escape routes except possibly in January.

2) You can cross the Hudson and enter the Intercoastal Waterway at New Jersey --giving you protected passage to Florida, although vessels on the Waterway would be vulnerable to ambush if SRHTF (Really Hit the Fan).

The Hudson is really broad all the way up to Newburgh (except for that pesky West Point Fortress) and at Newburgh you have a straight shot through rural countryside to northern Pennsylvania, Canada, northern New York or northern New England.

To the east, you have Long Island Sound and protected waters all the way to New London.

In contrast, it seems to me that if you have to schlep a 150 lb backpack from James Wesley Rawles' Montana Mountain Redoubt across dry deserts, frozen plains, and steep mountains, you are kinda screwed.

Anonymous said...

That's AWESOME! I'm going to go ahead and get a used Klepper folding kayak I've wanted!
I had one years ago in Maui and crowds would gather when we would carry it to the beach in two backpacks and assemble it in 20 minutes. 2 man with a mainsail and jib. Any good links re: those waterways? There is a real cool kayaking culture here in NYC. There is also a place on the westside where you can even use free kayaks. That's how I will get my wife started. She wont tolerate the escape route plan so quickly. So by the time the SRHTF; she'll be trained up, and we'll take a cab with bugout bags and the Klepper to the Hudson! If there are no cabs then she can pull her half of the Klepper in her sturdy vintage shopping cart. Walk it in 20 minutes!

Steve said...

Hi Ferndando, not exactly bug out vehicles, but interesting recommendations.
What struck me is how many needed new suspensions to qualify. Maybe someone should start a biz making bug out suspensions for CRV and Rav4.

Steve said...

I forgot the link

Don Williams said...

Re Anon's question at 6:02 am

1) Wikipedia's article on the Intercoastal Waterway is here --with references to more info:

2) Some people do the Great Loop -- go across the Great Lakes on the northern US-Canadian border, down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, along the coast of Florida to the southern entrance of the Intercoastal Waterway, then up the Waterway to the Hudson River at New York City and up the Hudson to the Great Lakes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Loop

Most trade goods had to be transported by water in the USA before the arrival of railroads circa 1850 AD. Many of the old canals are still there.

3) Google's Maps lets you zoom in and follow the details of the Intercoastal Waterway --
e.g, the canals on the New Jersey coast that link the bays into one continuous passage.
The Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey is pretty dangerous to small sailboats in the winter months
(gales, hurricanes, northeasters,etc) and hence the value of the Waterway from
early in our history.

4) To travel some of these areas, you will need to buy -- or at least examine -- the marine
charts put out by the US government (NOAA). There are defense facilities in a few places
with exclusion zones around them. Those zones are not major obstacles, you just need
to know where they are. The three that come to mind are

a) Edgewood Arsenal on the Chesapeake Bay around Aberdeen Maryland,

b) a huge 3 mile long pier that juts into Sandy Hook Bay about 10 miles across from New York City's
Coney Island (pier is about 2 miles northwest of Atlantic Highlands, NJ and is sheltered
by the Gateway National Recreational Area.) This pier is where huge Navy ships
load up with massive ammunition stores -- it goes out so far into the bay to limit the
damage if the ship blows up during loading. It is connected by
a 15 mile long closed highway/railroad to a major Navy ammunition depot (Called US Naval
Weapons Station Earle) about 3 miles southwest of Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

You definitely do NOT want to wander around that pier in your kayak. You might look at it with
Google Maps Satellite view --it is kinda cool.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Weapons_Station_Earle

c) The major port for the US Atlantic Fleet is Norfolk , Virginia at the outlet of the Chesapeake Bay.

Don Williams said...

1) Update for Anon: I just remembered that the NOAA nautical charts are available
online now --as are charts for European and Asian waters put out by the US military's
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. See

2) NOAA's charts for the US Atlantic Coast --including the Intercoastal Waterway and
New York harbor -- are available here:

(scroll down)
3) Paper copies of the charts should be for sale at one of New York's marinas --
sailboat owners can probably give you directions.

4) You might also want to look into a basic boating course or the American Sailing Association's introductory course to learn about
how navigational lights/buoys are marked, channels laid out, rules of the road,etc.

Don Williams said...

1) Hmmm. I notice that Denmark's version of the Navy Seals use camouflaged Klepper kayaks.



Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Here is a history of the Klepper and notable people who utilized them.


Anonymous said...

This guy paddled all over the South Pacific in a folding kayak. Kind of cynical about his travels, but was entertaining and informative. What it's really like and how hard it is. Adventurous. He finally splurged at the end in Hawaii by recuperating in the A-ist list resort on the planet.


Don Williams said...

1) I always thought of kayaks as short range craft (20-50 miles) but it appears that some people have actually crossed the Atlantic Ocean with them --and others have paddled from Australia to New Zealand (1400 miles.)


2) Still, I think I prefer an Island Packet --more room for the beer.