Surviving Extreme Heat and Power Outages

We’re to the part of the summer when the heat and thunder storms take center stage as big news stories. Conveniently, everyone seems to forget that it gets hot and we have thunder storms EVERY summer, so it makes good news.

Along with heat comes power outages, primarily from increased air conditioner use, but also from severe weather that happens when hot or cold weather systems move into an area. This week, the Northwest part of the country is having a heat wave and MOST of the country is forecast to have thunderstorm activity to one degree or another this weekend.

For the most part, thunderstorms are no big deal…but when they include hail, high winds, flooding, or tornadoes, it’s a different story.

The media loves this time of year. They can interview hot people, talk about where power is out and when it will come back on, and talk about all the people dying and being hospitalized from the heat.

As our population and electrical infrastructure ages, this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue. Throw in a local or regional disaster, and it’s an issue that almost everyone needs to have a plan for.

I want to start with heat related deaths and say that for the most part, they are a creation of the media. It actually makes me mad when I hear talk about people dying from the heat. It’s not only inaccurate, but it plants the idea in people’s heads that they might die simply because it’s hot out.

In the majority of cases where people die from the heat in urban areas, the deaths are completely unnecessary and avoidable.  It’s much more accurate to say that these people died from a lack of knowledge, rather than from the heat or a power outage.

Do people die when it gets hot out? Yes, but ask anyone who has deployed to the sandbox, done manual labor throughout the summer, or the millions of people who live in Africa and the Middle East without air conditioning and they’ll tell you that hot weather alone won’t kill you.

Which begs the question, why do more people die when it gets hot and air conditioning stops working? In short, the problem isn’t with the heat as much as people’s inability to control their core body temperature.

One of the first signs of heat related issues is muscle cramping, although that is more of an issue for people who are exerting themselves and not for people who the media claims “died from the heatwave.”

The next stage is heat exhaustion, which is caused by low water and salt levels. It’s exactly what it sounds like…you feel exhausted because it’s hot. In addition, it’s normal to also have headaches, confusion, and cold, clammy skin.

If it’s not treated, the body can “stroke out” and eventually die. At this stage, people don’t sweat anymore, their pulse is fast, they feel nauseous or vomit, they’re extremely confused and/or delirious, and may pass out.

It’s important to look for and recognize these signs, both in yourself and those around you. If you’re alone, you can take care of yourself if you’ve got cramps or early heat exhaustion, but if you let things go too far and get heat stroke, your survival depends on someone else finding you and helping you.

Here’s a few things you can do to influence how vulnerable you are to heat related illnesses and death during a temporary power outage:

First, we’ve got sweating. Our bodies rely, in large part, on sweat evaporating off of the skin to cool the body. You want to give the body the tools it needs to be able to sweat as it sees fit.

If you take medication that interferes with sweating or is a diuretic, then you’ll have a harder time sweating.

If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t sweat as much as you need to.

If you consume sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, you will need to drink more water or you won’t sweat as much as you need to. Caffeine and alcohol also leach minerals.

Your sweat contains salt and minerals. If you don’t replace them, your body will enter a low salt state called hyponatremia. When you’re in this state, you feel like you want to die. I would gladly have the worst flu conditions that I’ve ever had for a week than hyponatremia for a day.

All of these factors are more pronounced for the extremely young, extremely old, and people who are chronically ill.

Second, you can make yourself more resilient to heat by simply keeping your house warmer when you use AC. It may not seem like much, but your body will be able to handle 100+ degree temperatures much easier if it is used to 74, 76, or 78 degrees than if you keep it at 68 or even 72 degrees.

It takes a few days to a week for your circulatory system, breathing, and sweat glands to get used to high temperatures. If you’re constantly telling your body that “normal” is 68 degrees, then it simply won’t be able to adapt to extreme temperatures very quickly. But even if your body IS used to 68 degree weather and you get an extended power outage, keep in mind that your body will quickly adapt to the higher temperatures over a few days.

Personally, we keep our house between 74 and 76 during the summer so that we can run easier in 100+ degree weather and so that our kids can play in 100+ degree temperatures without thinking it’s too hot to play. There’s also a benefit of lower utility costs, but the biggest benefit is the freedom that it gives us by not being “prisoners” to air conditioning.

As an example, yesterday I ran when it was 97 degrees and 50% humidity. It wasn’t all that bad, simply because my body is not used to 68 degree air and I gave it the raw materials it needed (water, salts, minerals) to cool itself.

When it gets even hotter, I start wearing loose “wicking” clothes and soak myself with a hose before starting my run. I also use a camelback with me that I filled with ice and then water to sip (not drink) on my run.  Many people would call my steps of using the hose and drinking icewater “cheating”–and they’re right :) 

Heat and humidity can lower your pace by half or more, and I want to squeeze as much performance out of every beat of my heart as possible.  By taking these extra steps to cool my body while running, I’m able to run at a faster pace while maintaining my target heartrate.

Third, influence your environment. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re stuck in a 100 degree house with the electricity off that you shouldn’t wear a winter coat. Even so, many people don’t take the next logical step of wearing as few lightweight breathable clothes as possible.

If you’ve got water and lightweight breathable clothes, the next thing that you want to do is get them damp so that your body doesn’t have to sweat to get the benefits of evaporative cooling. Any time you feel uncomfortably hot and realize that your skin is dry, you should both drink water and get your skin damp.

If you’re moving around, that’s great because you will be creating airflow that will increase evaporation. If you have to sit, try to sit in a chair that exposes as much of you as possible to air. A good example of this is a wicker chair. Unless it’s a lot hotter outside than inside, open windows so that you get a breeze.

If you have access to water that’s cooler than 98 degrees, take a bath or shower. Water conducts heat away from the body 27-30 times faster than air and can help you get your core temperature down quickly. If you live in an area that gets to temperatures that you consider to be “dangerously” hot, invest in some batteries and DC fans. You can get low power 12 volt fans from Amazon or Radio Shack for $10-$60. When combined with moist skin, they can cool you off very quickly.

In an extreme condition, you can dig an 18-24″ deep, body-sized trench and lay in it to cool off faster. To improve the effectiveness of the hole, keep it shaded, line the bottom with a cotton sheet or blanket, and moisten it with water.

Powering items during power outages.

And what about powering stuff? Whether it’s power for medical equipment, for cash registers and credit card processing, for computers, or just to run fans, having power during a short term power outage can mean the difference between a minor interruption and a disaster.  I’ve written about this a few times in the past, and I go into detail on the subject in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course, but here are a few quick-n-dirty tips.

One of the simplest things, although not necessarily the cheapest, that you can do is buy a couple of 6 volt golf cart batteries and a properly sized inverter. Golf cart batteries are about the same size as car batteries, but they’re made to run things for a long time where a car battery is only designed to start your car for a few seconds and then get immediately recharged. This will allow you to run or charge both 12 volt and 120 volt items, including refrigerators (in the summer), medical items, fans, computers, well pumps, and a furnace blower (in the winter).

You can scale this up as your needs dictate and your finances allow, but I suggest buying batteries in sets of 2 and never mixing batteries of different ages.

You can also scale this up by adding a gas generator or solar, wind, or hand/foot crank generator to the mix to recharge the batteries.

And one trick on your refrigerator…if you change your light bulbs from incandescent to LED, you might just cut the size of inverter you need by 25% or more! Since LED lights are pretty expensive, you can also just remove your refrigerator lights when the power is out.

If you’re in one of the areas being impacted by the summer heat and power outages, what have you done to minimize the inconvenience? What lessons have you learned that you could apply to a medium to long term power outage? Do you have any kind of power backups in place? If so, what kind? Share your thoughts and answers by commenting below.

Until next week,

 

David Morris SurviveInPlace.com

 

Countering The Myths of Gun Violence

A quick thank you to almost 2,000 of you who completed the 30 second survey I sent out yesterday about the article topics and courses that you most want to see for the rest of this year.  I really appreciate your taking that half-minute out of your day to help.

Everyone who completed the survey is automatically entered into a giveaway for a $498 at-home pistol training package that includes a SIRT laser pistol, 3 laser-reactive targets, as well as DVDs, Books, and Training Cards.  If you didn’t have a chance to complete the survey yet, it would be a huge help if you could do so now by clicking >HERE<

As I was preparing this article, I realized that a lot of what I wanted to say had already been written…by David and me, 2 ½ years ago after the Sandy Hook murders.  That article >HERE< was reprinted on several sites.  I’ve included a few snippets from that article.

It’s sad, but people in our country keep refusing to learn lessons when bad events happen to other people and insist on waiting until bad events happen to them to accept the fact that they might need to prepare.

Ironically, the reason why MOST people don’t think that there’s a need to prepare for incidents like Sandy Hook and Charleston is because of how incredibly rare they are.

That’s also why police response times are as long as they are. Violent crime is RARE in the US. Most cities operate with 1 patrol officer for every 4,000-10,000 people on duty at any given time. As a society, we have decided that this is enough and that the additional cost of more officers and a faster response time is not justified.

The net effect of this is that it shifts the responsibility of first responder from law enforcement to individuals. People just have to accept that they’re probably going to be on their own.

“Gunfights,” muggings, and a lot of other violent crimes are over in seconds. Mass shootings are normally over in a couple of minutes. A great and admirable response time by law enforcement is 8-10 minutes…after someone at the scene has the presence of mind to call 911 and communicate what’s going on clearly and calmly enough for the dispatcher to send appropriate help—assuming they’re not in the middle of another situation when the call comes in.

In my opinion, the model of passing first responder responsibility to the individual is a healthy model to follow.

We use this model with medical and trauma emergencies. That’s why people learn the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and basic first aid. We take responsibility for helping ourselves and those around us until professionals arrive in an attempt to save lives. Sometimes mistakes are made, like breaking ribs with the Heimlich or with chest compressions, but overall, trained lay first responders save lives.

We use this model with fire emergencies. That’s why we have smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, ladders to escape the 2nd story of houses, fire drills, sprinklers, and fire escapes in public buildings. Again, we take responsibility for helping ourselves and those around us until professionals arrive. Sometimes people throw water on a grease fire or break their leg jumping out a window, but overall, trained lay first responders save lives.

In the case of Charleston, if one or more of the adults would have had a gun, knife, Taser, pepper spray, or solid empty hands combatives training, like TFT, it’s very possible that the killer could have been stopped and lives saved.

Did you know that, outside of a war zone where we’re fighting, the US has some of the best, if not THE best gunshot trauma care in the world?

Nationwide, you’ve got a 90% chance of surviving a single gunshot wound IF you receive prompt advanced medical care and you’ve got a 95% chance of surviving if you have a heartbeat when you reach the hospital.

The fact that 9 people died in Charleston tells me that it’s highly likely that none of the people there had the tools (mental or physical) to stop the killer. He had time to reload, take multiple shots per victim, and nobody was able to call for help in a timely manner.  That’s sad, and we can’t do anything about what happened in Charleston, but we can each make a decision to make forward progress at being prepared if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Part of that is individual preparation, and part of that is helping as many people as possible realize the need to prepare themselves to confront evil. With that in mind, I want to share a few things with you—arrows in your quiver—for when the topic of the Charleston shootings in particular or gun violence in general comes up.

First off, it’s important to realize that there is no such thing as “gun violence.” Guns are inanimate objects. There is only violence and violence is a product of the mind and the mind will use whatever tools it has available at the time. The term “gun violence” makes about as much sense as “fork overeating.”

  • Did you know that there was a mass killing in Austria 2 days after Charleston where the killer drove his car into a crowd. When the car stopped, he got out and started stabbing people. The driver is a radicalized Muslim who appears to have been following the directives given by the Islamic State in October 2014 on how to treat infidels, “…slaughter him with a knife or run over him with your car…”Are their deaths any less horrible because the killer didn’t use a gun? Is the killer any less evil? This incident in particular highlights the fact that the mind of the killer was the true problem and the tool didn’t matter. When the car stopped working, he transitioned to a knife and continued his evil behavior.
  • Did you know that the day before the Sandy Hook murders in 2012, a mentally unstable man stabbed an elderly woman and then went to a nearby school where he stabbed 22 children before being subdued. There were 6 knife attacks like this in a 7 month period in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. They went mostly unreported.Where did this happen? China. Why didn’t you hear about any of these mass killings? Why are “Newtown”, “Columbine”, and “Charleston” top of mind, but not the mass stabbings that happened in Brooklyn, Houston, Osaka, Calgary, Murrysville PA, China and more?
  • Did you know that while there is 1 child (under 10) death per year per 1 MILLION guns, there is 1 drowning death per year per 11,000 residential pools? That means that an individual backyard swimming pool is roughly 100 times more likely to kill a child than a given gun.
  • Roughly 1-3% of the entire population (including inmates) would be institutionalized if our mental health laws were the same as they were several decades ago. A LOT of mental health patients are now treated in jails after they commit crimes rather than in mental institutions.

While I’m not suggesting that 1-3% of the population should be institutionalized, I am saying that if/when these 1-3% go off of their meds or just plain go off the rails and take evil actions, the rest of society needs to have the tools at their disposal to protect themselves and other innocent people around them.

To be clear, most of this 1-3% number will not go off the rails in an extremely violent manner, but when you’ve got a country of over 300 million, even 1/10th of 1% is 300,000 people.

Evil has been around since Cain killed his brother Abel. Evil is with us now, and evil will be a constant, although hopefully infrequent, companion to one extent or another throughout each of our lives.

Denying evil doesn’t make it go away…it only causes paralysis due to disbelief when crashes into your life.

In fact, studies that SEALed Mindset have done shown that one of the biggest problems that law enforcement and civilians have when they’re attacked is realizing and accepting the fact that they’re under attack and responding kinetically. This lack of acceptance oftentimes takes someone who can draw and put rounds on target in under a second and paralyze them for 5, 10, or more seconds before they even start their “lightning fast” drawstroke.

  •    When cities, states, and countries institute more restrictive gun laws they experience an increase in almost all forms of violent crime. If anyone brings up Canada, England, or Australia as examples to the contrary, they are simply ignoring the reality that these countries experienced double digit increases in violent crime immediately following their most recent crackdowns.
  •    The presence of a firearm in an active shooter situation can be enough to end the killing. Take the Trolley Square killings in Salt Lake City OR the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs.
  •    The gun used in Charleston was not the problem. Was it used in a horrible way? Absolutely. Was it the fault of the firearm? No. No more than the China stabbings are the fault of knives, that chlorine gas killings are the result of chlorine, or that if I get beat over the head with a rock that the rock should get blamed for my killing. BAD people murder people and the only thing that stops them is good people.
  •    911 doesn’t have a teleport feature yet and cop cars don’t have warp drive, so you better be prepared to self-support for several minutes after dialing 911.
  •    The US isn’t the only country in the world, and we aren’t the first to face the issue of mass killings in schools and churches. Israel and South Africa both faced a similar problem and their solution to protect schools was to arm teachers and administrators. The reasoning? Hire teachers who love kids, who want to protect them, and give them the tools to do it.
  • Accurate stats on mass shootings are INCREDIBLY hard to find and most lists conveniently leave out the following:
  1. The murder of 385, including 186 children at a grade school in Beslan in 2004
  2. The murder of 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Nigeria last February
  3. Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 329 girls in Nigeria last year with an unknown number murdered (at least 2) or the 330 residents of Gamboru Nigeria who were killed by Boko Haram when Nigerian security forces left the town to look for the kidnapped girls.
  4. They also conveniently forget Anders Breivik murdering 69 participants at a kids summer camp in Norway in 2011.

These 4 incidents would be the first, second, third, and fourth most deadly school mass shootings of all time, but most of them are ignored in reports on mass murders…presumably because the people making the list are trying to paint a picture that it’s a problem unique to the US, when it’s not.

In every group of people, you’re going to have sheepdogs who are willing to stand up to evil and those who take it one step further and are willing to take the fight to the bad guy and protect the innocent.

But the will and the grit to stare evil in the face and decide to take it on doesn’t do a darn bit of good if they have the willingness to fight but don’t have the tools and/or the skills to fight effectively.

Now, since the victims in Charleston were law abiding citizens, they didn’t carry guns into the gun free zone. Of course, evil people intent on murdering innocents don’t really care.

What’s the answer then? Good people need to have the tools and skills necessary to provide tactical “first aid” for the time between when evil shows itself and when law enforcement arrives. And not the sad excuse for a plan that says to “lock your doors, pull the shades on your windows, hide in a closet or under a desk, or play dead.” That is a plan that is more interested in minimizing casualties than stopping the threat.

There’s a HUGE difference between the two mindsets. Put another way, it’s damage control vs. destroying your attacker. That defensive mindset in sports is what loses games for teams who have a big lead going into the 3rd or 4th quarter. That mindset in an active shooter situation—where you are told to run and hide and give the shooter free reign for the minutes necessary for law enforcement to arrive—gets innocent people killed.

Don’t be naive and think that taking the fight to the murderer is a “clean” option. With a firearm, you may miss the shooter and hit an innocent. You may hit the brain, but not the mid-brain and cause a shooter to fire one last round into an innocent bystander.   Heck, the NYPD had a shootout with 1 guy in front of the Empire State Building and shot 8 other people in the process. Stopping evil gets messy, and the decision to do so is sometimes a hero’s last.

So, given the fact that we can’t flip a switch and take care of the spiritual or mental health component of the equation, what do I think we should do?

  •    Encourage the warrior mindset of people who already have it. There are some sweet kindergarten teachers, pastors, and Sunday school teachers who have both an incredible nurturing nature and who excel at martial arts and a martial mindset, but they are rare.
  •    Don’t ignore training for them—just focus on people who are already predisposed to taking the fight to a bad guy. It’s similar to firecraft. If you throw a log covered with pitch on top of a match, it’ll put it out. On the other hand, if you throw that same log covered in pitch on a fire that’s already healthy, you’ll get a bigger, hotter fire. You can put the log on the fire from the match eventually, but it will take a little time and nurturing to build it up.
  •    Pick the right tools. Firearms are one of the most efficient tools for innocent people to use to project force over a distance to stop evil as quickly as possible. If guns are a possibility, then training is the next step. Once training is taken care of, the next thing is secure storage that is QUICK to get into. In a work, church, and school environment, I suggest gun safes with 5 button mechanical locks instead of electronic keypad or biometric locks, but consumer grade biometric locks are STARTING to catch up with the hype and their military grade cousins.
  •    If firearms are not a possibility, then I suggest Tasers. Tasers are MUCH better than pepper spray in an environment with young children. As a note, Tasers are NOT stun guns. Stun guns operate on the basis of pain compliance and Tasers use a pulse that interrupts the electrical impulses between the brain and muscles. In addition, civilian Tasers shoot out 15 feet.
  •    Keep in mind that the foundation for ALL martial training is empty hands training. Why? You may not always have access to a purpose built weapon like a firearm, and even if you do, you might have to fight to get to it or to buy enough time to bring it to bear on an attacker. Even without a weapon, if one of those people in Charleston would have seen an opportunity when he was reloading and known to punch the turd’s throat, jab his eye, or crush his testicles, lives could have been saved. If you’ve been following me long, you know that I am a HUGE proponent of Target Focus Training.
  •    If the Charleston shootings were the straw that broke the camel’s back for you as far as knowing you need to get serious about self defense, but you’re also concerned about pending anti-gun legislation, I would suggest that you sign up for a special package that Tim and Ralph at Target Focus Training put together for my readers. You can read more about it by going >HERE<.
  •    If you do have a situation where you’re limited to non-firearm defense against firearms, it’s important to identify people with a similar mindset who are willing to take the fight to evildoers in the event of an active shooter incident. One person going head-on with a shooter is likely to be needlessly committing suicide. They’re no doubt a hero, but the goal when confronting an evildoer is to go home at the end of the day, have as many innocents go home at the end of the day as possible, and do whatever is necessary to stop the evil party.
  •    With multiple people, though, there’s a much greater chance that at least one of you will have or acquire an angle on the shooter that they can take advantage of to rush the shooter and set up a situation where the rest can swarm the shooter and render them incapable of continuing to hurting people as efficiently as possible.

In short, YOU as an individual can’t control the morality, spirituality, mental health, or tendency towards violence of the people around you. Someone determined to be violent will ignore firearm and other weapon laws. Cain didn’t have or need a gun to kill Abel and even if you could click your heels together and make all firearms disappear, mentally disturbed people determined to kill will still kill. All you can do is equip yourself with the mental training, physical training, and tools necessary to be able to stop evil between the moment when it crashes into your life and a few minutes later when law enforcement arrives.

1 Weird 2 Cent Trick For Precision With A Pistol

Gip precision mark on my Glock front sight

Ox here with a little 2 cent trick with you that may very well completely change how well you shoot. There are several factors that impact how well you can shoot a gun. Some of them are controllable, and some you just have to deal with. And some are a combination of both. As an example, if you’ve been shooting a long time, the fundamentals that you show up to the range with will probably be the fundamentals you’re going to use. If you want to change them, the range is not the place…the … Continue reading...

DHS Is Gaming Civil War…Are You?

Awhile back, a highly respected security expert was recently approached by a DHS informant who told him that DHS is preparing for Civil War due to a collapse of the dollar, hyperinflation, and the resulting chaos that they expect to happen as a result. The thing that surprised me is, frankly, why anyone was surprised about it. One one hand, the economic collapse in one form or another has been in process for several decades and it's been the subject of novels and fiction for at least 2 … Continue reading...

Warriors vs. Praetorian Guard…which mindset fits you best?

It’s been said, and I agree, that we are in the early stages of a renaissance of the warrior mindset. This is due in part to the fact that we’re 14 years into the Global War on Terror, part due to movies, TV, and novels, and part because of the fact that computers and the internet have paved the way for the collection and analysis of large amounts of post-incident data that used to be impossible. The refinements in training, tactics, and techniques have created an unprecedented number of … Continue reading...

3 Great Lessons From Getting Disqualified at Indoor Nationals

Ox here, from Dry Fire Training Cards... A couple of months ago, I sponsored and shot in the Smith & Wesson IDPA Indoor National Championships. Many of you knew I was getting ready for it and heard rumors of what happened, and I want to share exactly what happened. It was simultaneously horrible and awesome, and hopefully you can get as much enjoyment and education from my pain and comedy of errors as my friends have.  :) The fun starts off when I’m getting ready to go out the door to … Continue reading...

4 Hacks To Improve Your Self-Defense Mindset

Ox here... The response to Tuesday’s article on the Coyote vs. Moose was great. Several of you signed up for training, commented on the article, and emailed in. One of the comments reminded me of 4 lessons that I’ve learned over the years training with Tim and Chris. The commenter said, “piss on the rules, when it’s me or you, it’s been nice knowing you” and I get the mindset 100%. I’ve been there. I’ve had the same mindset. But what I found through the years is that you can make slight … Continue reading...

Self Defense lessons from a coyote vs. moose (surprise end & pics)

IMG_2774

I want to show you a couple of pictures that I took the other day when I was trail running.  I've got kids and have changed diapers and am immune to "gross" and don't think there's anything wrong with what I'm about to show you, but here's a fair warning that you might not want to read this if you're currently eating milk duds: What they show is the ultimate in disrespect…a 40 pound coyote pooping on a pile of scat (poop) from a 1000 pound moose. Did you think, "How could the coyote DARE … Continue reading...

The BEST Pistol Shooting Technique

Glock mag release (Small)

Ox here…This article is going to blend an important life lesson with shooting in general and pistol shooting in particular and I'm sure it'll ruffle some feathers. I guarantee it’ll be entertaining and educational. There’s a school of thought in pistol training that you want to pick and use techniques that will work on several different platforms, regardless of which pistol you primarily shoot. You may not know which gun you’re going to have with you when disaster strikes and you may find … Continue reading...

Top 10 Reasons You Should Shoot Competitively

Ox here...Summer is almost here, and along with it, there will be thousands of opportunities across the country to compete in local, regional, and national shooting sports events that can make you a better defensive shooter. Specifically, IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) matches, USPSA (US Practical Shooting Association) matches, and/or 3-gun/multi-gun matches are all great opportunities to hone your skills and rapidly improve your skills with a life saving tool. If you're … Continue reading...