Attend Saturday’s “Global CrisisCamp Day” In DC, London, Toronto, Calgary Or Virtually

On Saturday, the first-ever “Global CrisisCamp Day” will be hosted in London, Toronto, Washington D.C., Calgary, and virtually to encourage people to lead CrisisCamps and volunteer their expertise and skills to create innovative approaches, resources and tools for crisis response and global development. I would be attending the event in Washington but have a medical appointment, and therefore I will be following it remotely.

According to the Washington EventBrite webpage:

Global CrisisCamp Day activities will include training new volunteers on open tools such as Ushahidi (including Crowdmap), OpenStreetMap, Sahana and CrisisWiki as well as inventorying existing resources and the development of training tools to build the first CrisisCamp-In-A-Box toolkit to be released in early January 2011.

The CrisisCamp community aims to provide new CrisisCamp organizers with mentorship, tools and tips on how to organize a CrisisCamp, training materials on open technology tools, lessons learned from past CrisisCamp events and a toolkit for the development of technology prototypes.

Also, on the CrisisCommons website, you can check the post, “What To Expect — CrisisCamp Day.”

CrisisCamp is a global network of hybrid barcamp/hackathon events which bring together people and communities who innovate crisis response and global development through technology tools, expertise and problem solving. Since 2009, CrisisCamp volunteers have created crisis response and learning events in over 10 countries with volunteers of all backgrounds who collaborate in an open environment to aggregate crisis data, develop prototype tools and train people on how to use technology tools and problem solving to aid in crisis response and global development.

I was lucky enough to attend the first CrisisCamp last year in Washington. It has already had enormous impact on disaster preparedness/response policy and practice. CrisisCamp communities have been active in the response to the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes and the Pakistan Floods. CrisisCamp events have provided surge capacity and training for existing organizations such as Ushahidi and OpenStreetMap as well as the development of new tools such as Tradui, a mobile Kreyol translation or problem solving such as a solution to extend of long distance Wi-Fi in Port au Prince to crisis response organizations operating on the ground.

If you are interested in becoming a CrisisCamp organizer or are interested in the development of a CrisisCamp in your area, contact Heather Leson at heatherleson (at)

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Topographic Map Contour

Be Aware and Be Prepared December 26, 2012, Submitted by: Ken (MSB)


A topographic map is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional surface of the land. A topographic map enables you to visualize the hills and valleys of the land itself, and provides specific details as to the elevation of the surface. Topography is the shape of the land surface, and topographic maps represent the land surface.

Lines snake their way around a topographic map and are called contour lines. All points along the same contour line are at the same elevation above sea level. Think of a contour line as a closed loop. By following a contour line, you would travel flat, not uphill or downhill, and would eventually end up back around at your starting point if you went all the way around it. Contour lines are used to determine elevations (referred to in feet, or meters, above sea level).

Contour lines allow you to figure out general terrain characteristics from their patterns. For example, contour lines that are crowded close together mean steep sections. Contour lines spaced widely apart indicate more gentle slopes. Contour lines trend up valleys and form a “V” or a “U” where they cross a stream.

You’ll notice both thin and thick contour lines on a topo map. The thick lines are known as “index lines” and are typically labeled with a number indicating the elevation. The thinner, unmarked contour lines between the index lines are called “interval lines.” The distance represented between each of the interval lines is known as the contour interval. The contour interval is stated on every topographic map and is usually located near the scale.

For example, if a topographic map scale indicates a contour interval of 6 meters (nearly 20 feet), and a particular thick ‘index’ contour line on the map is labeled ’1040′, this means that everything along that contour line is at 1040 meters elevation above sea level (the newer USGS topo maps are in meters), and each thin line above or below that index line is a difference of 6 meters.

iOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets

The beauty of a topographic map is its ability to infer a picture in your mind of the lay of the land. Once you allow your eyes to observe the overall pattern of the thick and thin contour lines, it becomes fairly easy to imagine the hills and valleys.

The topo map becomes one very important tool in locating where you are. For example, if you know that you are within the confines of a given map, you could potentially look around and identify several (3 is good) points such as hilltops, valleys, etc. and then look at your map with that frame of reference in your mind while searching for the same identifiers on the contour of the map itself. By using triangulation you could discover your current position on the map.

The unique “V” or “U” shapes along lines of contour will indicate where rivers and streams will likely be (which themselves are typically drawn on the map in blue).

There are countless uses for topographic maps. It may be a good idea to have several which cover the geography of the land near where you live, or other areas of interest where you may travel. I have found a source of free downloads of USGS topographic maps where you can select or enter an address or location (select the TOPO option). The resulting surrounding available topo map grids for that area will be displayed. Clicking the map at any location will place a red pin. Then click on the pin to retrieve the choices underneath the download button and column.

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Caching Your Goods

Of concern to many survivalists is long term storage of supplies in a safe
location protected from both accidental exposure and those aggressively
searching for your stash. For this reason, creating a cache (rhymes with stash)
of items you believe you will need in a survival situation is a good plan for
any serious survivalist.

For most survivalists, creating a cache of emergency goods is not much of a
challenge, as you will see below:

There are two types of caches:


These caches can be in a closet, basement, local storage company or other,
relatively easy-to-access location. They are normally protected by locks or
other traditional security measures and some discretion on your part (you know
– keeping your mouth shut.) The basic stash should include all your survival
items (covered in chapters three, four and five). Because these caches are
accessible, you can rotate items in and out as necessary.

Basic caches can simply be food, water and other necessities on shelves, in boxes and bags or in cupboards set aside just for that purpose. A lock on the door can keep family members from rifling supplies (when the portable stereo needs batteries, for example) and nosy neighbors or guests from uncovering your preparedness stash.

On-site caches in basements or closets (for those areas such as Florida, where basements are as rare as snowballs in April) are convenient, available in most emergencies and facilitate adding new items and rotating out canned goods, water and other perishables.

Off-site caches, as discussed briefly in Chapter Two, allows you to stash items near your survival retreat. Should you choose a commercial mini-storage unit near your residence, it gives you more room for goods than you might have at home. In this manner, you could keep two weeks worth of food at home, and store several months worth or more in a rented storage unit.

The danger inherent in off-site storage is that you will not be able to
protect your stash from marauders (should our system of law and order break
down) or natural disasters, such as an earthquake. You must also consider
transportation concerns. How easy will it be to reach the 20 cases of MREs you
have squirreled away in that storage unit 15 miles outside of town? If the
disaster is of such a magnitude that you need them, can you get to them?


Like buried treasure, these caches are protected from discovery by burial, creating secret compartments in walls and floors, etc. To preserve the secrecy,
you shouldn’t visit these caches more than annually, so there is little or no
opportunity for adding or removing items. This means items stored in hidden
cache must be suitable for long-term storage, possibly 10 or more years.

One of the key benefits of a hidden cache is that you can store items that may be – or may become – illegal to own. You may not wish to give up your fully automatic weapon or that high-capacity assault rifle, but future legislation may be such that you don’t want to be caught with it in your home. While Sarge does not advocate the breaking of laws, he is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to own a gun, even one with a magazine capacity that exceeds most gun control advocates IQs.

Coincidentally guns and ammunition are one of the most popular items to be
stored in a hidden cache. And why not, when imported SKS rifles can be had for
not much more than $100? When specially prepared for long term storage (usually packed in cosmoline or grease) guns can and have been successfully stored for decades. Ammo should be packed in sealed surplus military ammo boxes or sealed in tins. A dab a sealant around the primer is a good idea for those who reload. You can further increase the seal of steel ammo cans by spray painting the sealed can with primer and or paint. If you use colors, these can serve to identify food, ammo and first aid supplies so when you dig them up, you can grab what you really need.

Other items for long-term storage include gold and silver. It is commonly
held that paper money will have little or no value after a cataclysmic disaster
(plague, revolution, nuclear event, etc.) but that silver and gold will always
have some value. Other items with a possible barter value, such as knives or
hand tools, may also be stored.

Evaluate your personal needs, cache location and long term survival plan to
determine what you need to store. Perhaps a good knife, hatchet, frying pan and tin cup are your choices. Maybe a box of fish hooks, lead sinkers and line is on your list. Use the information presented in this guide to develop your list, but
keep in mind that not everything is suitable for long-term storage.


The ideal cache is one that is buried off the beaten path in a location you
can remember. There are a number of items sold today specifically for burial.
These include sonar buoy tubes and PVC pipes six or more inches in diameter. But it is also possible to build your own storage device our of plywood or other
lumber. The tubular design is intended to be buried in a vertical position, to
minimize the signature should someone with a metal detector try to locate it,
but manually digging a hole two feet in diameter and eight feet deep is easier
said than done.

There’s nothing wrong with a cube or rectangular box built out of 2x4s and
treated plywood. Of course, the box must be strong enough to keep the walls from collapsing, as well as supporting the weight of at least 18 inches of dirt on
top. Because a plywood box – even one lined with plastic – will not prevent
moisture from penetrating, items inside the box must be stored in sealed ammo
boxes, plastic buckets or other waterproof containers.

Once you have built your box or purchased your tube, assembled and packed
your items for long-term storage, you will need to transport everything to the
cache location. While you may be able to make most of the trip by car, you will
probably have to trek everything to the site on foot, perhaps under the guise of
a backpacking trip (if you are caching your material on public land). Of course,
if you have your own retreat, the entire process becomes much simpler. While
many would recommend digging your cache in the middle of night, if you pick a
secluded enough site, this may not be necessary. Clever camouflage or
misdirection can be used to allow you to bury your material without attracting
undue attention.

For long term, secret storage, caches should be buried in secluded areas, on
ground high enough to avoid flooding, in open areas where tree roots won’t be an immediate problem. If you are choosing to bury your goods near your retreat, pick an area where there are metal scrap or junk around that would hide a your stash from a metal detector or an area scan. They have radar and sonar that can identify buried minerals.

If you are using tubes or caches with limited capacity and need multiple
caches to accommodate all your goods, bury them in a geometrical pattern. If
your caches are buried in a line, 50 feet apart, or a square, finding one cache
will allow you to quickly locate the others.


There’s nothing worse than realizing you can’t remember the exact location of
your cache, filled with more than $1,500 worth of supplies.

To prevent your cache becoming a brain twister for future archaeologists, you must not only pick your spots very carefully, but draw or mark a map of the location. While you should obviously memorize the location, storing partial directions in your home survival stash is not a bad idea. Unless you are hiding contraband, a complete map should be stored in your safe deposit box. This will allow your family or loved ones to benefit from your advanced planning (or at least recover your goods) should you meet an untimely demise.

While Sarge recommends marking a tree or bolder in the areas, painted
blazes on trees are likely to attract unwanted attention, and can fade over the
years. Carving a set of fictitious initials on a tree, however, will help you
confirm you are in the correct location without giving away the store.

To test your ability to find your cache, return to the site two years after
burying it and try to locate your loot. You don’t need to dig it up, just dig
enough to confirm you are in the correct spot.

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Sarges Disaster List

Disasters are events that affect a large number of people and can overwhelm the normal emergency services. Most people are quite familiar with the fires; the wrath of mother nature – severe storms, such as tornados, ice storms, hail, severe rain, leading to floods; power outages, blizzards; earthquakes. We have heard of train derailments, major spills, and chemical fires. Any of these types of disasters can necessitate measures to be taken either individually, as a family or as a group. These measures may include sheltering or evacuation out of the affected area.

Natural Disasters


High Winds



Heavy Thunder Storms


Flash Flooding

Mud Or Rock Slides

Severe Winter Weather


Extreme Heat




Volcano Eruption

Tidal Wave





Toxic Material Emission Or Spills (From a nearby plant, train or truck accident)

Riot Or Civil Disorder

Nuclear Plant Melt Down



Government Action (Marshal Law)

Stock Market Crash

Economic Depression



Mugging, Robbery Or Criminal Attack

Random Act Of Violence Against You Or A Family Member


Financial Disaster

Home Forclosure

Death In The Family

Home Destroyed By Fire


Plague Or Disease Outbreak

Comet Or Meteor Strike

Alien Invasion

Zombie Apocalypse

Did Sarge forget something? Send us your suggestions and we may just add them to the list!

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Guest Post: How to Build a Survival Cache in Case of an Emergency

A survival cache is a container of items that will be useful for survival in the midst of an emergency situation. It is a good idea to build one ahead of time in case of a natural disaster or other emergency that would force you to evacuate your home or apartment. Including enough supplies for you and your family is important to ensure that everyone will be able to survive in case of an emergency. Even more important is making sure everyone in your family knows how to use these tools.

What should you include in a survival cache?

There are many different items that people choose to set aside in case of an emergency, and you can never be too prepared. Some common items include: food, medical supplies, water, weapons, spare clothes and a small fire-starting kit. A well-constructed cache should be able to get you through several weeks – even months – of survival before you are able to stock up on additional supplies. If you have infants or small children in your family, you may also want to pack a baby-carrier or sling, cloth diapers and medicine, since young children are more susceptible to disease or illness.

What container should you use to store your emergency supplies?

You can use any container to build a cache, as long as the supplies are able to fit. Most people use PVC pipe to make enclosed tubes. You can buy the supplies from any local home improvement store, and you’ll want to make sure the container is completely sealed and waterproof. These containers are relatively inexpensive and easy to make. Proper food storage is essential to ensuring that your supply of food lasts until you are able to find more.

Canned goods are perishable, but they do last a long time and their lifespan doubles when stored in a cool place. Pickling food also allows normally perishable items to be preserved. Dehydrated foods are probably the best way to go, as dried foods can safely be eaten for up to a year after they are dried, and this method of food preservation allows for a lot of food to be stored in a smaller space.

Where should you store your emergency supplies?

It is best to store your survival cache away from your home, because if your home is destroyed, and you must evacuate quickly, you won’t lose everything. Most people choose to bury their container in the ground somewhere along a route that may be easily accessed when traveling. Doing this provides you with an opportunity to enact a mock disaster event, during which you and your family members can spend some time learning how to use all of the tools in your survival kit.

Everyone in your party should know how to start a fire and how to disperse food and water evenly so that it lasts as long as possible while still allowing everyone to be adequately nourished. Knowing how to use weapons, hunt and fish for meat is also essential. Both adults and children should be schooled in basic first aid procedures in case someone gets hurt. If only one person knows what to do in an emergency situation and something happens to that person, the rest of the group will be left scrambling. Remember, there is solidarity in numbers.

Guest Post is written by Sam Peters – blogger, freelance writer, and manager of

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Civil Unrest In Urban Areas

Looters Will Be Shot!Shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana coast, reports out of New Orleans on September 1st stated that victims of the disaster were being raped and beaten and that fights and fires were out of control, leaving corpses laying out in the open as the city descended into anarchy.

Emergency responders in the New Orleans area were overwhelmed, and as a result their response time was lapsed.

A “Stay Put” scenario may be your only choice after a disaster strikes and you must prepare not only for your basic needs, but also for your safety.

Since the grid may go down during a disaster, each household should prepare for crime. Looting and home invasions will more than likely be at the forefront of these crime waves and a defensible home will help your family stay safe.

Many easily relate to the idea that their home security needs to be beefed up. In fact, some of the homes that people live in are defensive nightmares given the location, structural design, neighborhood or city where they live. Because the home will be more vulnerable when the grid goes down (due to electrical alarm systems not working, lapsed emergency response time, etc), consider having some alternative security features inside your home. A barking dog would be a great detection system for anyone trying to break in. And, if the pet is trained properly, could assist in protecting the family. Wireless alarm systems (battery operated) are great for power outage emergencies, as well as being completely portable.

Strobe Wireless Security System

In an emergency where civil unrest can be a problematic issue, criminals look for accessible targets. They will concentrate on vulnerable “easy-pickings” and bypass more secured areas. This was proven during the Rodney King Trial Verdict riots in Los Angeles and its suburbs, the only structures that were spared from active looting by large gangs were properties owned by armed Korean Americans.

Security is an important preparedness measure to keep in mind when investing in your emergency supplies. Bulking up your home security features for the outside can be your first line of defense in preventing any criminals from trying to enter your home.

Given that our financial situations are each unique, Sarge is not suggesting that you go out and purchase every item on this list. However, if you are able to invest in some security items for the home, Sarge suggests that you invest in as much as you can.

Preps you can get:

Reinforced doors and locksBarred windows or security/storm shuttersPlace thorny bushes or plants around windows or near vulnerable areas of the homeIf possible, create a barrier from approaching vehiclesPut a peep hole in the doorAdd a bolt and chain to the doorFloodlights to illuminate the property (These should be motion-sensor activated)Solar garden lighting can also be an inexpensive way to illuminate areas outside the homeFence the entire propertyA gate at the front of the driveway that has spikes at the top to prevent someone from climbing or jumping over the fenceInstall a Security Camera SystemCreate a safe room or vault to where a family can go to evade their attackersBuy a firearm and know how to use it

Colt 1911

Action Items:

Walk the perimeter of your home and locate vulnerable areasMake necessary changes to your home by bulking up on security layersContact a security expert or friend in the police department and see if they can provide additional adviceStart a neighborhood watch programIf it is a good fit with your family, look into purchasing a firearm or going to a concealed handgun course. If not, invest in non-lethal self defense weapons, such as:

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Top 10 Reasons America Depends On Survivalists And Preppers

This article was originally posted at Personal Liberty Digest

There has been a lot of derogatory talk lately about “preppers” and “survivalists.” Here are 10 reasons why preppers and survivalists have always been vital to the United States and why it is essential that we have as many as possible to survive future disasters.

To start with, the titles “survivalist” and “prepper” would have seemed redundant a couple of generations ago. When the Greatest Generation was growing up, preparedness was simply a way of life. Before the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other Federal aid programs were around, people knew that they had to be able to take care of themselves in the event of natural and man made disasters.

At the core, that’s what survivalists and preppers are. They are people who are aware that life is full of uncertainty and who have decided to put things into place for when bad times happen.

With that, here is the top 10 list of why America depends on survivalists and preppers:

1. FEMA: The cost for local, state and Federal agencies to plan, equip and staff for every disaster that might happen is cost-prohibitive. When disasters strike, government is quick to talk and quick to “ramp up,” but government help is slow to come and inefficient when it arrives. The irony is how often highly qualified and motivated front-line first responders are prevented from doing as much as they could by top-heavy bureaucracies.

Survivalists and preppers, on the other hand, are able to act quickly and efficiently to take care of their own houses and provide stability, structure and assistance for their streets, neighborhoods and beyond. Because they know the terrain and the players in the areas where they live and operate, they can quickly establish stable micro-environments for recovery to grow from.

2. Stable base: An organization (or nation) of people with narrowly focused, specialized skills may accomplish great things when everything is going smoothly, but it quickly falls apart when trouble comes and key people are knocked out.

The survivalist and prepper mind-set of jack-of-all-trades makes for a stable organization (or nation). If the specialist falls or needs help, others can help pick up the slack — even if it means they’re doing it at a slower speed or lower level of proficiency.

3. Joseph in the Bible: Preppers and survivalists have been around saving the day since the beginning of time. In Genesis 37-50, Joseph sees trouble coming and prepares for seven years. At the end of seven years, a severe drought and famine hit that last for the next seven years. Because of Joseph’s preparations, Egypt survived the drought and famine and was able to help the surrounding nations.

4. Founding Fathers: With the Constitution and Bill of Rights, our Founding Fathers pushed responsibility from the Federal government down to the individual citizen and promoted a survivalist/prepper mentality. They did it with the 2nd and 4th Amendments, they did it by example (Washington leading a mostly barefoot army across the Delaware), and they did it throughout their writing.

5. Siege warfare: Many of the things that happened after Hurricane Katrina are textbook examples of why siege warfare is so effective. The normal city has a three-day supply of food. The normal prepper has a six- to 24-month supply of food.

Which do you think is more stable in the event of a siege that is due to disasters or war?

If you focus only on food and water supplies, a city, county, region or country with many preppers will be much more resilient to being cut off from outside help than one with few preppers.

6. Independent from the government: How much leverage does an energy tax (or most other taxes) have on a family that’s living partially or completely off the grid? The more self-reliant you are, the less control the government can exert over your life through taxes.

7. Criminals fear the aware and prepared: This is fairly straightforward. Preppers and survivalists gradually become more aware and prepared than the average person. This will show itself in your walk, in your eyes and how you carry yourself. In short, you stop looking like a wounded gazelle and more like a badger… cute and cuddly, but ready to do anything necessary to stop a threat to himself or his loved ones.

8. Tyrants fear survivalists and preppers: In addition to living a lifestyle that insulates them from siege, some taxes and being nannied, survivalists and preppers are usually well-armed and seek advanced training. Good men have nothing to fear from an armed populace, but tyrants who seek to control the lives of others will always try to disarm them first through confiscation, taxation or pressure through media and the education system.

It worked for Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and many more narcissistic, mass murders throughout the ages. It worked so far back, in fact, that Aristotle spoke extensively about how, in any society, those who control the arms control the state.

9. More preppers means fewer refugees and faster recovery from disasters: After a local, regional or national disaster, the number of refugees will be inversely proportional to the number of preppers and survivalists in the area. In other words, the more preppers you have in an area, the less strain the hospitals, volunteer organizations and government-run refugee centers will have.

10. More able to help their fellow man: After a disaster, you’re not going to see very many refugees donating their food, supplies or time. It’s not that they don’t want to, but rather it’s because they are in a fight for their lives and may be dehydrated, hungry and tired.

Preppers and survivalists who have food storage, water or water-treatment tools and who have prepared themselves psychologically for disasters will be able to help in several ways. First, they are less likely to become refugees or use the time and resources of first responders. Second, since they are prepared for disasters, they can help the people in their immediate area, which will lessen the load on first responders and reduce the number of refugees. Third, by helping themselves and their neighbors, preppers will increase the quality of care for people who do need first responder care or who need to relocate to a refugee center.

In short, the more survivalists and preppers we have, the more stable our families, cities and the country as a whole are.

This article was originally posted at Personal Liberty Digest

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