Darlin’ I’ll Be Home Soon

Good artists borrow and great artists steal they say.  We’ll I’m stealing from Jim Cobb who has written a shelf full of books on emergency preparedness. Start where you like.  I started with Countdown to Preparedness The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness.  Oddly, there’s more clear and useful information in this little paperback than there is in most urban emergency plans.  

Everybody needs an emergency plan, especially in tornado alley, on all coasts, in Alberta and Saskatchewan during recent forest fires and evacuations, and even people around the bog fire in Delta, and the recent earthquake in Vancouver.  Then there are ice storms, power outages and regular winter weather.

It’s remarkable how poor our urban emergency plans are.  There’s some good advice on personal preparedness.  I like the first aid kit checklists in Guelph, with honourable mention to Birmingham, UK, Jacksonville, and Orlando.  The “Go Bag” concept involves what to take with you and I like the thinking in St. Catharines, with honourable mentions for Windsor, Milwaukee, Long Beach, Washington, and Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.  St. Catharines and Guelph also have advice on a car kit—a little different kettle of fish.  

Author Jim Cobb is not just a guy who wants to be able to reach for a few band aids or have some supplies in the car for a trip out of the danger zone.  He’s getting ready to survive for a long, long time by growing food, using solar power, having no sewage system, getting by without medical care, and on and on.  He’s not kidding.  The fact that he goes deeper and farther than even the good plans I’ve cited is to his credit, and a bit of an embarrassment for urban emergency planners.  

Cobb’s idea is to do a little each week to get really, really prepared.  He suggests saving cash, stocking up on water, what food to buy, and how often to replace supplies.  That’s not a unique idea. Surrey, British Columbia links to a document providing “26 steps” to preparedness.  This gives family members some tasks and breaks down what seems like a daunting job into manageable bites.  Long Beach has a 21 week plan to achieve much the same.  These are all good ideas.

But here are a few things that Cobb may be able to call his own.  First it’s when to use your stored drinking water in the bath—every six months.  It’s also how to rotate food supplies in and out so that you’re not eating something that’s five years old with no nutritional value, just when you need nutrition during an emergency.  He also advocates for “Get Home Bags.”  There was once a reference on Charlotte’s website about how some folks might go home to assemble family members before evacuating, or they all might meet at work, or in the middle.  But I don’t think anyone has done anything about this phenomenon.  Cobb has.  

The simple idea is that when an emergency is declared or an evacuation ordered, many of us, tens of thousands of us in cities, may have to get home safely before going anywhere else.  We’ll need a bag of supplies in case we have to walk, stay warm, keep dry, eat, drink, and so on.  These are different needs than for long stays at home, or car trips to safety.  So, we need supplies at the office, home, and car.  If that Get Home Bag is what you have to take out of town because you can’t get home, you still have something useful that may save your life.  

And you will have me to thank, because I stole the idea from Jim Cobb.     

Today in History: July 16th

1992: Statistics Canada says inflation dropped to an annual rate of 1.1% in June, which is the lowest in 30 years, since John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister in 1962.

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1990: More than 1,000 people are killed when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake strikes Luzon Island in the Philippines. Heroic rescue efforts saved many, but some victims who did not die as buildings collapsed were found dead later from dehydration because they were not pulled out in time.

For more on crisis management: Buy ‘An Ounce of Prevention’

1969: Apollo 11, the spaceflight which first landed humans on the Moon, takes off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, crewed by commander Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins.

See also Canada in Space

Today in History: June 16th

1984: John Turner is chosen as Liberal Party leader on second ballot, with 1,862 votes, to Jean Chretien’s 1,368. Turner is sworn in to replace retiring Pierre Trudeau as Prime Minister on June 30, but loses the September election to Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives.

1963: For the first time, a woman travels in space. She’s Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. After 48 orbits and 71 hours, she returned to earth, having spent more time in space than all U.S. astronauts combined to that date. The first American woman in space was Sally Ride on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.

1896: A tsunami in Japan overnight leaves about 25,000 people dead. Entire villages all along the coast are washed away. Fishermen who were working at sea and people living several miles inland, though, had no clue about the destruction until the following morning, when they arrived at the shore to find miles of the coast lined with wreckage and corpses.

Today in History: June 12th

1987: US President Ronald Reagan delivers a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, West Germany, near the Berlin Wall, in which he famously said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, addressing the leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Political Conventions – Let Them Come to Berlin
Political Conventions – The CV Generation

1924: George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, is born.

1897:  A powerful earthquake in India triggers deadly landslides and waves, killing more than 1,500 people. For hundreds of miles near the epicenter, nearly every building collapses. Hundreds of aftershocks in the following months delay the rebuilding efforts.

Today in History: June 7th

2010: Seven former employees of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary, including the former chairman, are convicted in India of causing death by negligence in the Bhopal Disaster, and are sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of about $2000 each, the maximum under the law.

An Ounce of Prevention – Bhopal

1999: Bernard Lord, at the age of 33, leads his New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party to a surprise landslide victory in the provincial election, winning 44 of 55 seats in the legislature.

1962: A massive earthquake devastates the town of Port Royal in Jamaica, killing about 3,000 people. Many of the buildings where the 6,500 residents lived and worked were constructed right over the water. Thousands more died in the following weeks due to sickness and injury. Aftershocks discouraged the survivors from rebuilding Port Royal. Instead, the city of Kingston was built.

Today in History: May 30th

2010: BP’s then-CEO Tony Hayward apologizes for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest in US history, then says: “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” The statement is widely condemned, especially in the United States, as insensitive and selfish.

An Ounce of Prevention – Appendix 7 – Apologies

1998: An earthquake measuring 6.9 hits northern Afghanistan, killing an estimated 4,500 people, and about 45,000 people are left homeless. Relief efforts are hampered for several reasons.  The remote region lacks modern telecommunications, and there are no accurate maps of the area. Local culture does not allow male physicians to examine or speak to women.

1997: CBC Morningside host Peter Gzowski signs off on his last show in Moose Jaw, where he got his start as a journalist. Gzowski conducted 27,000 interviews for Morningside over 15 years.

Today in History: April 19th

2001: Space Shuttle Endeavour launches, bearing Canadarm2. A robotic system, it’s used in station assembly and maintenance and moves equipment and supplies around the station. The Canadarm2 also supports astronauts working in space.

1904: A fire in Toronto rages for two days fed by high winds. The city’s 200 firefighters call on crews from nearby cities. Bitter cold and a lack of adequate water pressure makes the fire hoses almost ineffective. No people or horses perish, but the fire does an estimated $12 million damage and destroys 104 buildings.

1902: The last in a series of earthquakes rocks Western Guatemala. More than 2,000 people are killed and 50,000 left homeless. Fleeing to the streets was dangerous because of flooding and mudslides.

See also Canada in Space

Today in History: April 18th

1963: Lester B. Pearson returns the Liberals to power with a minority government with 129 seats, to 95 by the Progressive Conservatives, 24 Social Credit and 17 for the CCF-NDP.

1906: An earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, killing an estimated 3,000 people.Almost 30,000 buildings are destroyed, including most of the city’s homes and nearly all the central business district. Fires immediately broke out and, because broken water mains prevented firefighters from stopping them, firestorms soon developed citywide.

1876: John Ross Robertson starts the Toronto Evening Telegram newspaper, a conservative newspaper, to challenge the Toronto Daily Star. The Telegram folds in 1971, and some former employees start the Toronto Sun newspaper.

Today in History: April 1st

1970: President Richard Nixon signs legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio.

1949: Newfoundland becomes Canada’s tenth province, and Joey Smallwood, leader of the pro-Confederation movement, is sworn in as the first Premier of Newfoundland.

1946: An undersea earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggers a massive tsunami that kills 159 people in Hawaii. This tsunami prompts the U.S. to establish the Seismic SeaWave Warning System two years later.