Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Refugees are also People

Anonymous said…
Thank you for showing these people are human beings. Are some of them terrorist? Maybe, just like some people born here are terrorists. Are some of them criminals? Maybe, just like some born here are criminals.
Fernando, you are putting a human face on these refugees. Many preppers are right wing and will disagree with you. Thanks for your effort.

Thanks. Your messages gives me hope. Lately I’ve been bombarded by some pretty hateful comments about refugees and immigrants in general. It seems that many of those commenting don’t understand that I’m also an immigrant and I have exactly zero tolerance for those displaying any degree of racism and xenophobia. Plenty of other websites where that poorly veiled racism is accepted and even encouraged but this would not be one of them.
Not sure how many immigrants and refugees people that call for their extermination have actually met, but I’ve met several these last few days. It was just yesterday that I was waiting in line with my wife for her ID here at a local police station in Spain. Syrian people were waiting in line there as well among other immigrants from all over, everywhere from Germany to Africa and Ukraine. Everyone was waiting patiently, very polite. One Syrian man was right next to us, pretty cheerful guy. I was there holding an umbrella for my wife and I. We had been waiting in line for several hours and I had the idea of bringing the umbrella for shade given that well, costa Del Sol can be pretty sunny. Sure enough a few hours after waiting everyone was desperate for a bit of shade. So I bring out my umbrella and my wife and I take to the shade under it. I look back and to my surprise see that the Syrian guy was smiling right back at me: a bit of shade got to him as well, which he was obviously thankful for. I just wish some of the people out there full of hate could have seen that moment. I couldn’t help but to smile and the guy said out loud with his so/so Spanish “thank you, brother!”. I’m not kidding it sent shivers down my spine. This guy was truly thankful for nothing but a bit of shade that by chance fell on him.
Refugees are people, some better educated, some with more money than others. Are some of them bad? Probably a small minority are, just like with any other group of people but the majority are good people escaping an awful reality. As for the comment I’ve seen a few times about many of them being young, fighting are men that should stay and fight, well , its easy enough to say that while sitting in your la-Z-boy sipping a cold beer or can of coke. First, whenever you have widespread war and destruction, you will always have millions of refugees from that given country. Happened in Syria, happens in Ukraine and happens in any other war torn country. If these men could have their families in some safe location while they go off to train, get well armed and organized and later shipped overseas to fight they probably would. But its different when all of a sudden your house is blown up and you have to run for your lives along with whatever family you still have alive, all while having no way of effectively fighting back at that moment.
You have two kinds of people.

And these:

No, I’m not some “bleeding heart liberal”. I’ve simply been on the other side of the fence enough time to know better than many folks out there on the interwebs that have answers for everything, talk pretty big, and probably would bring ISIS down all by themselves if they weren’t so busy posting online.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cord End Whistle

I really like the whistle in the video but didn't catch the name.
Can't seem to find it online.

I get asked often about those. It’s called a Cord End Whistle.
Not many people keep a whistle as part of their EDC but it is pretty much Disaster & Emergency Preparedness 101. A whistle is much better than just shouting for help. It’s particularly useful for signalling outdoors but I also believe it has a place for signalling in urban scenarios, such as caught under rubble after a structure collapses, caught in a broken elevator, lost in subway tunnels or dragged by the current during floods.
It’s just good practice to keep one handy. Some people like having bigger ones around the neck or in their keychains, I like to keep it with my flashlight, sort of a signalling combo both audible and visual.


These small Cord End Whistles are the ones I use. They aren’t perfect but they are loud enough. They sell them in bulk and it takes a bit of practice putting them together. I’ll try doing a video showing how it’s done. Once you put together a couple it’s easy enough. If using 550 paracord you have to remove the inner strands in the end that goes into the whistle. Melting it a bit with a lighter and quickly pressing it where it goes in the whistle makes for a near perfect fit.
Take care and good luck!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Does a Refugee Carry in his Bag?

 The following article is reposted from International Rescue Committee. Please, do check their website and consider making a donation so as to help men, women and children that desperately need it.

What refugees bring when they run for their lives

This year, nearly 100,000 men, women and children from war-torn countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have fled their homes and traveled by rubber dinghies across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos, Greece.
Refugees travel light, for their trek is as dangerous as it is arduous. They are detained, shot at, hungry. Smugglers routinely exploit them, promising safety for a price, only to squeeze them like sardines into tiny boats. Most have no option but to shed whatever meager belongings they may have salvaged from their journeys. Those allowed to bring extra baggage aboard often toss it overboard, frantically dumping extra weight as the leaky boats take on water.
Few arrive at their destinations with anything but the necessities of life. The International Rescue Committee asked a mother, a child, a teenager, a pharmacist, an artist, and a family of 31 to share the contents of their bags and show us what they managed to hold on to from their homes. Their possessions tell stories about their past and their hopes for the future.
“You will feel that you are a human. You are not just a number.”

A mother

Name: Aboessa*
Age: 20
From: Damascus, Syria
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
When vicious fighting erupted in Yarmouk, an unofficial camp for Palestinians just south of the Syrian capital, Aboessa managed to escape with her husband and their 10-month-old daughter, Doua. After crossing the border to Turkey, they spent one week sheltering in another forlorn camp before jumping into a rubber raft bound for the safe shores of Europe.
The Turkish police patrolling the coast stopped them and detached the boat’s motor in order to force them to turn back, but the refugees kept going, steering the boat through the sea’s strong currents with makeshift paddles.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Hat for the baby
An assortment of medication, a bottle of sterile water, and a jar of baby food
A small supply of napkins for diaper changes
A hat and a pair of socks for the baby
Assortment of pain relievers, sunscreen and sunburn ointment, toothpaste
Personal documents (including the baby’s vaccination history)
Wallet (with photo ID and money)
Cell phone charger
Yellow headband
“Everything is for my daughter to protect her against sickness. When we arrived in Greece, a kind man gave me two jars of food. Another man gave us biscuits and water when he saw my baby.”

A child

Name: Omran*
Age: 6
From: Damascus, Syria
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Little Omran, sporting a cheerful blue shirt, is on his way to Germany with his extended family of five to live with relatives. Because his parents knew they would travel through forests to avoid detection, they made sure to pack bandages for scrapes and cuts.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
1 pair of pants, 1 shirt
A syringe for emergencies
Marshmallows and sweet cream (Omran’s favorite snacks)
Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste

A teenager

Name: Iqbal*
Age: 17
From: Kunduz, Afghanistan
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Iqbal dragged his weary body out of the boat with only a backpack. The teenager had traveled hundreds of miles and dodged bullets to escape from the warring province of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, fleeing east to Iran, then traveling by foot to Turkey. Now in Lesbos, he’s uncertain of where to go next. He has kept in touch with a friend who already made the journey to Germany. He has a brother studying in Florida.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
1 pair of pants, 1 shirt, 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of socks
Shampoo and hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, face whitening cream
Comb, nail clipper
100 U.S. dollars
130 Turkish liras
Smart phone and back-up cell phone
SIM cards for Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey
“I want my skin to be white and hair to be spiked — I don’t want them to know I’m a refugee. I think that someone will spot me and call the police because I’m illegal.”

A pharmacist

Name: Anonymous
Age: 34
From: Syria
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
When war broke out in Syria, the pharmacist’s father would recall fond memories of Germany, where he lived for eight years while practicing medicine there. The pharmacist wanted a similar life of peace and hope. He fled with his family to Turkey, where he met a smuggler who arranged his trip to Europe.
With one bag strapped across his chest, the pharmacist climbed into an overcrowded dinghy with 53 others, including a handful of young children. Miraculously, the group made the crossing safely until, near the shores of Greece, they were met by the coast guard, shouting at them to stop the boat.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Money (wrapped to protect it from water)
Old phone (wet and unusable) and new smart phone
Phone chargers and headphones (plus extra battery charger)
16GB flash drive (containing family photos)
“We didn’t realize it was the police. We were told by friends not to stop because they will take you back to Turkey. We didn’t know the Greek language. We couldn’t understand what they were saying. We held the children. I thought to myself, ‘Let me reach the beach and anything you say I will do.’”
Their boat was punctured and everyone ended up in the sea. The pharmacist treaded water for 45 minutes before he was rescued.
[Read about the pharmacist’s full journey from Aleppo to Germany]
“I had to leave behind my parents and sister in Turkey. I thought, if I die on this boat, at least I will die with the photos of my family near me.”

An artist

Name: Nour*
Age: 20
From: Syria
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Nour has a passion for music and art. He played guitar in Syria for seven years and painted. As bombs and gunfire echoed in the distance, Nour grabbed the items closest to his heart before leaving for Turkey — things that today evoke bittersweet memories of home.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Small bag of personal documents
A rosary (gift from his friend; Nour doesn’t let it touch the floor)
A watch (from his girlfriend; it broke during the journey)
Syrian flag, Palestinian charm, silver and wooden bracelets (gifts from friends)
Guitar picks (one also a gift from a friend)
Cell phone and Syrian SIM card
Photo ID
1 shirt
“I left Syria with two bags, but the smugglers told me I could only take one. The other bag had all of my clothes. This is all I have left.”

A family

From: Aleppo, Syria
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
This family lost everything. When they left Syria, each member took one to two bags. During the course of the journey to Turkey and then Greece, their boat began to sink. There were seven women, four men and 20 children. They managed to salvage just one bag among them.
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
1 shirt, 1 pair of jeans,
1 pair of shoes
1 diaper, 2 small cartons of milk and some biscuits
Personal documents and money
Sanitary pads
A comb
“I hope we die. This life is not worth to live anymore. Everyone closed the door in our face, there is no future.”
What refugees bring when they run for their lives
Name: Hassan*
Age: 25
From: Syria
“This is all I have. They told us we could only bring two things, one extra shirt and pants.”
Learn more about the IRC’s work in Lesbos where we provide clean water, sanitation, trash removal and protection and information services to refugees staying in the Kara Tepe camp and other locations on the island.
*Last names omitted to protect the privacy of those interviewed
The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. At work in nearly 40 countries and in 25 U.S. cities, the IRC restores safety, dignity, and hope to millions of families in need.
You can help them with their work and donate here
Photos by Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pocket EDC for Spain: New country, new items

Friday, September 18, 2015

Earthquakes, wildfires, Floods and Draughts

This week has been a particularly intense one regarding natural disasters.
Wildfires keep burning across western U.S., with over 700,000 acres affected in California. This is 200.000 more than the typical 500.000 acre from previous years.
With a serious draught problem, vegetation quickly turns into kindling which catches and spreads fire easier. Given the climate change temperatures are expected to increase 2 degrees in years to come, escalating the draught problem as well. At the same time, more rain is expected in areas where precipitations are already a problem.
Climate models predict that the addition of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere will shift precipitation in two main ways. The first shift is in a strengthening of existing precipitation patterns. This is commonly called "wet get wetter, dry get drier."
Warmer air traps more water vapor, and scientists expect that additional water to fall in already wet parts of the Earth.
"But because precipitation has to be balanced by evaporation, we expect a [corresponding] increase in dry regions," Marvel said.
The second shift is a change in storm tracks, which should move away from the equator and toward the poles as atmospheric circulation changes.
Incidents such as the flood that killed seven people in Utah's Zion National Park are likely to occur with more frequency and even start affecting areas where they didn’t occur before. This can be particularly dangerous because it means people that simply aren’t used to dealing with these kind of natural disasters will get caught off guard.
At the other end of the American continent in Chile, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake killed 11 and forced the evacuation of a million people.

So folks, a couple quick points come to mind.
1)     Be prepared. Natural, and yes, manmade disasters are nothing new. They happen all the time so you need to be well aware of the potential threats in your area.
2)     Stay informed! Know what’s going on around you. In many cases people get into trouble because they simply didn’t know any better.
3)     Have your kit ready. Everything from your car kit, everyday carry bag, EDC and even the clothes you wear should all be geared towards preparing for the most likely events in your area.