Shakeout AAR

Well, as expected, the Utah Shakeout was a farce. The department with whom I was to drill, didn’t. They conducted a first aid in-service, not that the in-service was bad, but there was no drill. I checked in with the county’s EOC fifteen minutes after the “quake” (because it was during a break in the training). Dispatch wondered where we were, that is, why I didn’t check in immediately. I told her we were all dead. That concluded my involvement with the drill.

The real highlight of the day was meeting with the observer from the county. She had a long look at my 2-meter mobile rig, saying that she wanted something like that for all of the county campuses. I have no hope that it will ever happen, mostly because it should.

To summarize, after “drilling” with the county for a day, I reiterate: You’re on your own. No one is coming for you. The system can’t take care of itself. No way is it taking care of John Q. Public.

Utah gov announces earthquake preparedness week

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_78ba3218-40bb-11df-865e-001cc4c03286.html?mode=comments

The Associated Press Daily Herald | Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 7:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has designated April 4-10 as Earthquake Preparedness Week.

A Web site provides tips on what to do in preparation for an earthquake and its aftermath.

The Utah Seismic Safety Commission says about 700 earthquakes, including aftershocks, occur every year in Utah.

Roughly 80 percent of the state’s population would be affected by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment of the Wasatch Fault.

___

On the Net:

http://bereadyutah.gov

Know that this is just another effort to assuage the masses’ fears from the .gov. At best it will wake some people up to preparedness. At worst, folks that make “72-hour kits” prolong their lives by three miserable days.

The website above, http://bereadyutah.gov, is mostly garbage. Still, it might have some useful ideas.

Get that “72-hour” crap right out of your head. You’ll need a lot more than three days’ worth of food, water, toiletries, medicine, cash, etc. How much is up to you; but it should be enough to land you on your feet, without winding up at the FEMA/Red Cross camp shelter.

More craptasticness from Yahoo

So, Yahoo is saying to get your “disaster kit” in order. More pablum for the masses: “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.”

It doesn’t work that way. What did we learn from Katrina? You take care of yourself or you get an invitation to the Murderdome.

Read their tripe here: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/preparing-a-disaster-kit-2467090/

Preparing a Disaster Kit

The recent earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent fears over nuclear radiation have prompted many to turn to the Web for advice on disaster preparedness. Online lookups for “disaster kits” and “how to make a disaster kit” have both more than tripled during the past week.

In short, folks are wondering, what they should have in their kit? Opinions vary depending on what sort of disaster you happen to be preparing for. However, most experts, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross, agree that the following items are essential.

Water

This is the big one. You must have plenty of water. Just how much? FEMA, the disaster preparedness wing of the US Government, insists that you should have at least a three-day supply. A rule of thumb — have one gallon of water per person per day. If you happen to live in a hot climate, you’ll want to increase that amount. “Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed,” the site writes. Also, keep in mind that children, the elderly, nursing mothers, and people who are ill will need more water. Of course, you’ll want to store the water in non-breakable containers and keep an eye on the expiration date. Water doesn’t spoil in the traditional sense, but it can taste bad after a while.

First aid supplies

There’s no telling what you’ll be faced with in the wake of a disaster, but a few basic first aid supplies will certainly come in handy. Again, according to FEMA, you’ll want several bandages of various sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, a thermometer, antiseptic, petroleum jelly, sunscreen, safety pins, and more. You’ll also want a good supply of non-prescription medication, including aspirin, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacid, laxative, and some poison control supplies. For a full list, check here.

Food

Like water, you’re going to want a healthy supply of non-perishable food should the unexpected happen. The American Red Cross writes that you should have a three-day supply ready in case you are forced to leave your home. And you should also have a two-week supply in the event that you stay in your home. Of course, the food should be easy to open and prepare.


Clothing and sanitation supplies

This mostly applies to people in cold-weather areas. Should disaster strike, have some warm clothes at the ready. You’ll want to have at least one complete change of clothes for each person. FEMA suggests a coat, sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, gloves, hat, scarf, thermal underwear, and rain gear. You’ll also want to have plenty of blankets, sunglasses, and various sanitation supplies like soap, toilet paper, detergent, and more.

Tools and special items

Just a few things you’ll want to have on you: battery operated radio and batteries, flashlight, cash, nonelectric can opener, pliers, compass, matches, signal flare, paper and pencil, wrench to shut off household gas and water, whistle, and map of the immediate area. Important documents like IDs, birth certificates, credit card information, prescription numbers, and extra eyeglasses are also good ideas. Again, this is just a partial list. For the full list, please visit FEMA.gov.

Just-in-Time Consumerism?

“From the Wall Street Journal

Julia Robinson for The Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Seabern in her destocked pantry. She is using groceries that she already has before buying more. Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

When the economy sank two years

ago, Rebecca Seabern realized she could shrink her grocery bill just by eating into her crammed kitchen pantry.

“I had eight boxes of lasagna in there and a year’s worth of paper towels,” says Ms. Seabern, a 31-year-old accountant and married mother of two in San Antonio. Today, Ms. Seabern still has her job, but her antipathy to hoarding hasn’t changed. “I’ve stopped purchasing things just to have them on hand,” she says, preferring to make bigger mortgage payments instead.

The Great Depression replaced a spendthrift culture with a generation of frugal savers. The recent recession, too, has left in its wake a deeply changed shopper: the just-in-time consumer.

For over two decades, Americans bought big, bought more and stocked up, confident that bulk shopping, often on credit, provided the best value for their money. But the long recession—with its high unemployment, plummeting home values and depleted savings accounts—altered the way many people think about the future. Manufacturers and retailers report that people are buying less, more frequently, and are determined to keep cash on hand.

“Consumers are saying, ‘I’m going to buy what I need for a specific period of time,’ rather than loading up and buying two or three extra units just because they can get a good price on it,” says Richard Wolford, CEO of Del Monte Foods Co. He calls the phenomenon “need it now.”

Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

Food and household-product manufacturers, including Del Monte and Kimberly-Clark
Corp., are rolling out smaller package sizes for consumers who would rather buy a week’s worth of toilet paper or dog food than stock up for a month.

Grocers are trying to accommodate smaller but more frequent shopping trips. Supervalu Inc. is changing displays more often. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. is going after a new clientele of families and individuals by selling eggs and margarine in smaller lots.

Apparel makers and retailers such as Elie Tahari and Net-a-Porter.com are changing their production and selling schedules for shoppers who increasingly want to buy their clothes in season rather than ahead of time.

The new buying behavior is expected to be on full display this holiday season, which kicks into high gear the day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday.”

Shoppers are further behind in holiday shopping compared with previous years, with just 15.7% of their holiday shopping completed as of the week ended Nov. 14, compared with 20.5% completed during the same period last year and 28.3% in 2008,
according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers.

“There’s going to be a pause before purchase: Consumers will ask themselves, ‘Do I really need this, can I really afford this?'” says Thom Blischok, president of global innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm. He expects a U-shaped purchase cycle, with big sales at the start and the end of this holiday season. “If I shop on Black Friday, I’ll get a helluva deal, and if I wait a couple of weeks, I’m going to get another helluva deal.”

So far, the impact of just-in-time buying on the corporate bottom line is mixed. Smaller unit sizes, for example, generally mean higher prices—and therefore higher profit margins for manufacturers.

Still, the phenomenon is so new it hasn’t shown up broadly in
earnings. A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman notes that potentially higher profits on smaller packages can be offset by higher manufacturing costs.

[JIT_p1]

And companies are still reeling from lower sales volumes that began in 2008 with what some dub “pantry deloading.” Over the past two years, the number of items kept in American pantries has fallen about 20%, according to a recent SymphonyIRI survey. Consumers are also cutting back on the range of goods they stock.The average household had 369 unique items in its medicine cabinets, pantries and cosmetics bags this year, compared with 404 in 2006, the survey found.

Procter & Gamble
Co. has been tracking consumers’ pantries since mid-2008, believing them to be a reliable gauge of how the recession has changed shoppers’ behavior. About one-third of consumers are changing their pantry levels, P&G’s research indicates, with about 75% of those cutting back on
inventory.

P&G expects consumers’ leaner, pickier shopping habits to last. “There’s almost a confidence and pride in the ability to make tailored choices for themselves,” says Joan Lewis, P&G’s global consumer and market knowledge officer.

The new shopping behavior is having a big effect on club stores, the ultimate pantry-filling destinations, which offer low prices but require bulk purchases. Some, including Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s, have reported increased shopping-trip frequency and decreased transaction sizes. To adjust, some discounters are rethinking
their businesses.

[JIT_jmp]

BJ’s, based in Natick, Mass., began courting new customers two years ago to expand its membership, including smaller households and empty-nesters. It began shrinking its package sizes, in part to lure shoppers more interested in weekly purchases than monthly stock-ups. Now, the chain of 191 stores
sells cartons of 18 eggs, instead of only five-dozen egg packages. It offers two containers of margarine of nearly two pounds each instead of only five-pound buckets.

The margarine change alone resulted in 46% more members who bought margarine, the company says. BJ’s credits the shift to smaller package sizes with driving an increase in membership fees of 6% in the quarter ended Oct. 30.

“This concept that club stores are only for the stock-up visit—I don’t think that’s true anymore,” says Bruce Graham, BJ’s senior vice president of food.

BJ’s is trying to make its stores more attractive and change promoted items to encourage more frequent visits. For example, it is including more seasonal products into its wall of featured items at the entrance of the store, including pumpkins, fresh flowers and amaryllis bulbs.

The changes at retail are often prompted by manufacturers. This summer, Del Monte began reducing the number of canned fruits and vegetables in multi-packs sold at club stores—and advising other retailers to reduce the number of cans required to qualify for a discount. The company realized consumers were more worried about overall cost, even if it meant a higher cost per can.

“There is a much lower incidence of pantry stock-up shopping trips and a much increased incidence of quick trips,” says Del Monte’s Mr. Wolford. Del Monte won’t comment on whether smaller package sizes have boosted its bottom line. Analysts say profit margins could rise slightly over time. But the bigger advantage may be capturing a sale from an otherwise-wary consumer.

With the smaller package size, “you don’t lose sales and you stem the profit erosion,” says Bill Chappell, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “But you don’t necessarily recoup” the lost sales and profits.

Just-in-time consumption is also disrupting long-established purchase cycles, including the annual back-to-school shopping ritual. Normally, demand for school supplies begins in early July and runs through mid-August. But this year, the prime season shifted to late July through September, says Mark Ketchum, chief executive of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. He says the company’s Paper Mate and Uni-ball pens and Sharpie markers sold well, albeit three to four weeks later than normal.

Delayed purchases affected the entire pen market. “The total market waited until later in the year and seemed to shift behind a shopper desire not to make a mistake,” Mr. Ketchum says. He adds that the premium-pen category, thanks to new-product introductions, grew in sales at the expense of the low-end market.

As a result of delayed buying, Newell overhauled its manufacturing process and simplified its product portfolio. This will enable it to better handle last-minute surges in demand for popular Christmas gifts like its Irwin pliers and Calphalon cookware. “It’s better for our inventory situation and our manufacturing to be able to produce and ship in a more even pattern, rather than all at once,” Mr. Ketchum says.

Shoppers of high-end discretionary products are shifting to just-in-time buying as well.

Kathi Toll, a 49-year-old business consultant in Chicago, used to enjoy browsing beauty counters and indulging in new products as a pick-me-up. Last year she decided to use up what she already had—piles of La Mer, Clinique and Estée Lauder products—as a way to save cash while she pursues an advanced degree. “I have boatloads of this stuff, and it’s time I used it up,” she says.

Beauty brands are taking note. Before the economic downturn, loyal users of luxury skin-care line La Prairie used to buy multiple bottles of skin creams at a time, even though the products can top $500 apiece. But two years ago, “they started waiting until their jar was empty before they bought another, about every 90 to 120 days,” says Lynne Florio, president at La Prairie, owned by Beiersdorf AG.

Noting that some consumers seemed to want to buy even less at a time, last year La Prairie began selling half-sizes of moisturizers, eye creams and serums. The smaller sizes, which cost about 20% less than full-size counterparts and are only sold for limited periods each year, help draw new and longtime users to the line when they’re not ready to invest $1,000 or more on the complete regimen.

“Did we lose customers during the economic crisis? No,” says Ms. Florio. “They’re just coming more often and buying a little less
replenishment at a time.” La Prairie’s business year-to-date is up
compared with 2009, and the company says it expects to see a gain next year.

Shoppers have long groused that the clothing and shoes in stores are often out of step with the weather outside. Now, they’re protesting with their wallets. “It was around April of this year when we really started to realize that consumers are willing to spend cautiously on things they need to have, but only when they need it,” says Mike Berry, director of industry research for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a unit of MasterCard Inc.

From 2003 to 2008, women’s apparel sales tended to peak in September, Mr. Berry notes. “When the economy is sailing high…people buy new fashions as soon as they’re on the shelf, rather than buying a sweater to stay warm,” Mr. Berry says.

But this fall, that habit changed. In September, when new fall fashions hit stores, sales of women’s apparel fell 0.2% compared with the year before, while footwear was up just 0.7% according to MasterCard. By October, when cooler weather hit, apparel and footwear sales rose 5.3% and 5.9%, respectively. Markdowns didn’t play a role in the uptick, Mr. Berry says.

To better accommodate women who want to buy now, wear now, Net-a-Porter has changed tack: It stopped heavily discounting seasonal items like boots and coats a few months after they shipped—as many other retailers do—to make sure it has goods in stock to match the weather. “There’s the challenge that other retailers are marking those items down, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take,” says Holli Rogers, Net-a-Porter’s buying director.

To maintain a steady supply of new fashions throughout each season, Net-a-Porter has been inking deals with designers for exclusive collections with later delivery dates. This summer, British label Issa will offer a line of bright, summery lace dresses on Net-a-Porter in April or May, instead of the typical delivery in February. “You want to make these purchases when you need it, not way in advance,” Ms. Rogers says.

Write to Ellen Byron at ellen.byron@wsj.com

Copyright 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

There is a lot to consider here. Is this a good or bad thing, from a preparedness perspective? It’s prudent that people are hanging on to more of their money; and buying food on credit is almost never a good idea. Still, has the pendulum swung too far the other way that people are keeping no extra food on hand? Certainly if our economy holds, and barring nationwide disaster, there will be food available. Food is still relatively inexpensive, barring continued inflation. Cash at home and on-hand is a wise decision, assuming that people aren’t spending it on iphones and xBoxes.

My advice is to meet somewhere in the middle. Don’t purchase food on credit; but still have extra food. If your only extra money every month is $1.75, buy an eighty cent can of beans. Put the change in a mason jar. There is room for both saving money and prudently buying extra food.

Seventy-two hour kits, bug-out bags, and weight (Or, “How to assemble a list of ‘essentials’ so heavy it would give the Terminator a hernia”)

I’ve been reading a lot about seventy-two hour kits again lately. The lists of STUFF recommended by these so-called “authorities” (read: pointy-headed wogs that have never strapped on a pack in their lives) is astounding. There is no consideration given to weight or context. They take a one-size-fits-all approach, ending up with about two-hundred pounds of gear. Worse, these lists are copied-and-pasted throughout the blogosphere. Stop it. Stop copying and pasting without acknowledging reality. You’re going to get someone killed, hopefully just yourself.

Let’s consider weight. Yes, our military men and women routinely deploy with 120-pound rucksacks; and you know what? It’s entirely too much weight for a 20 year-old Ranger, who is so hard you could roller skate on him. If it’s too much weight for men that get paid to exercise, it’s too much weight for your average wheezing cube-dweller. Get realistic. For the last hundred years folks in the know have been advising our military (and armies throughout the world, actually) that forty pounds of gear is the extreme upper limit of what to carry for any extended period of time. Forty pounds, and that’s including your clothes, boots, rifle, and the weight of the pack itself. How much can you really carry?

Get your bag out. Now start as naked as you can get without scaring the dog and cat and step onto the scale. Add forty pounds to that weight. Boots, belts, and everyday-carry gear can really add up, can’t it? Now, go through your pack. Do you really need all of that? I am not going to begin to tell you what to carry, or to make a list for you. I hate pre-made lists. If you’re looking for that, go somewhere else. The internet is replete with asinine lists, with no context or purpose. Do not copy what you have not tested. Consider what you need to survive in the rule of threes. A person can survive:

  • 30 seconds without controlling serious bleeding
  • 3 minutes without oxygen
  • 3 hours without shelter in extreme hot/cold conditions
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

Prioritize and build your bag accordingly. It should all add up to about forty pounds (including your rifle), depending upon your physical condition.

Set limits that fit your physical fitness, age, location, companions, budget, and intentions. Where are you going? How are you getting there? This is why I say time and again, “Walking sucks”. Set your gear up in “lines”. Pre-pack everything so that you have it set up from what’s in your pockets, to what is in a pack or LBE, to boxes for the bed of your truck or trunk of your car, to a trailer or roof rack. Have plans for losing, stashing, or giving away all of it. That is, be prepared for going without the line below the one you’re currently using. If you lose your pack, use what is in your LBE. If you lose your LBE, use what is in your pockets. This is not an excuse to add weight to your person. Use what you have. If you don’t have the tool, you are. Use your skills and knowledge to make up the difference. Above all else say “And no more!” once you hit your weight limits, so every single tool is prioritized. Add the “nice-to-haves” to these other layers. Camp stoves, tents, heavy food supplies, extra first aid supplies, water, ammunition, wedding pictures, scrapbooks, whatever, it all goes here, in your car, truck, RV, pack mule, whatever. Keep your immediate-use gear light, handy, and pertinent.

I am not a fan of the “seventy-two hour kit”. First, there is no way of knowing how long you will be on your own in, or in the aftermath of, a disaster. My take is forever, or until the stores open again. You are on your own. No one is coming for you. FEMA and the Red Cross are not your friends. They will disarm you and put you at their mercy, feeding you what they feel like, when they feel like it. The ultimate goal of Survival Club is to live as close to the comfort level you are now for as long as possible. Let some other schmuck stand in line for an MRE and a cot in the corner of the Murderdome. If you are relying upon your “bug-out bag”, know what you’re doing and where you are going, in context.

The madness of wheezing, bloated consumers

This is as important to prepare for as earthquakes, fires, and pandemic. The world is falling apart, and most people are too fat, lazy, and stupid to care (did you see the flab-a-lannche of those consumers? Lay off the gravy, people).

My recommendation is that everyone get their heads and asses wired together for this eventuality.

 

Cholera in Haiti

Related to my previous post on diarrhea: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_10_26/en/index.html

Pay attention to the fact sheet at the bottom of the page. These are the things that we take for granted daily. We assume that the water that comes fro the tap will be clean. We assume that the garbage man will haul off the trash. We assume that the toilets will flush. In an emergency, these things will not work; and you will have to find ways to compensate. Remember good hygiene and sanitation. Do not eat with your fingers in the aftermath of a disaster. Wash your hands frequently. If there is no water available, use alcohol-based sanitizer often.

When it’s least expected, you’re elected.