Sibi Totique

The latest posts from Sibi Totique



What sets Mother Earth Products apart from everyone else.....


A note from the owner.....read below and see if you feel there is a difference.
We get asked this and other questions all the time. First and foremost, I am happy to try to articulate what sets us apart, but I do not wish to be seen as trying to pick apart the other large companies by doing such. I feel everyone plays an important role in supporting this movement. There are major differences though, but no value is ever added when your emphasis is only to tear down others. This is not my intent as I go through these differences.
The pictures you see on the website and facebook are of me and my family. We want to make sure there is a face to this company. We are a real family. These are our experiences and we would love to share them with you. Mother Earth Products is our company and creation. We are the manufacturer and hand package each of these products for quality and assurance. We hope that our personal experience, great products, and excellent customer service will entice you to try us out. We hope that we can be a valuable asset in your preparedness journey; sharing our knowledge, not just selling you product.

As the owner of Mother Earth Products I surely believe we must be careful and not allow growth to get in the way of why we started this company. I personally feel that too many of the large corporations have lost the personal focus and vision that each of them may have started out with. Many of them may not even have had a background in food storage, homesteading, or self sufficient living. They may have just seen the opportunity to jump into a new emerging market and only wanted to sell product. That is ok, that is what the great American way is all about. Selling product was very secondary to why we started our company though.
I was raised in a family that taught all these skills from the earliest days of my life. My entire adult life I have then had these same interests as my hobbies and my passions. You can read more about this in the “about us” section of our website. I love homesteading and learning all the self sufficient living skills that our forefathers used 100 years ago. I don’t claim to know them all, but I do have a lot of experience in many of them; this is very valuable and I believe it is my mission to help educate as many others as I can. We believe that a lifestyle of low debt and self sufficiency is a very happy and prudent lifestyle in the greatest of successful economies, but it quickly becomes an essential lifestyle when economies falter and fail as they always do when countries go down the current path our country is on.
How many of our larger competitors can you call and speak with the owner whenever you want? Not just speak with them, but then also get counsel and training on many issues; even issues beyond the scope of the products they sell. That is my commitment. I personally handle all the Public Relations and always will….it is my knowledge that people are coming for, not someone’s employee reading out of a manual.

Many other larger Food Storage companies also only wish to focus on the expensive prepackaged entrees. Though we do provide those items, they are not our focus. There is also a huge war and many games played between all the major companies as to what a “serving size” is. Have you noticed that? I don’t know about you, but I need 3-4 of their servings just for me every meal. If the average person had to live off of any those entrees, even for a month, they would quickly learn that they will want and NEED more than just that. Those entrees may sustain life, but that is about all; the quantity and Nutritional quality of them fall very short. There is really not that much that is healthy or nutritious about them either…..and ALL the serving sizes are too small.

Why is Health and Nutrition Critical in your Prepping...... It is no different than needing the healthy fresh foods in your diet today. You should supplement all your entrees with more nutritional side dishes. I even mix many of the veggies in with the entrees; this adds great mixed flavors and nutrition. This REAL nutrition is critical for proper health and strength…….and when might you need your health and strength most; during the crisis for which you purchased these products. We provide a full line of many different fruits and vegetables; not just freeze dried either, plus high protein meat substitutes and quick cook beans. Freeze dried foods are ok, but they are very expensive and take tons more space to store. I have a lifetime of experience that shows that dehydrated products provide the same nutrition and actually store much better and longer than Freeze dried. The best thing is that you can get 2-4 times more product for your dollar; when purchasing dehydrated verses Freeze dried.
We don’t provide the expensive single serving packages of our products; we focus on trying to provide you the products in a fashion where you get the most for your money. We provide various larger pouches of products that you can use for multiple meals. We just want as much product in your hands as possible so you can have it when you need it. To even better help you with this, we discount the product even more and sell it is bulk so you can package it yourself and save the money. We offer you all the packaging supplies to make that happen also. We just want you prepared. The more people that are prepared, the better off we will all be as a prepper community when we reach that cliff.

All the comments on the website come directly to me…..so drop me a line anytime you wish.

Respectfully,
Theodore K Pope
Author: Westfalia
Posted: April 30, 2013, 6:58 pm
Exposure from Wind, Snow and Rain can cause hypothermia and kill an unprotected individual in a very short period of time. Shell Jackets provide an other layer than shields you from the elements making it an excellent piece of clothing for hiking, winter sports and Bug Out Bags. One of my personal favorites on the market is the jacket Brede from Klättermusen. The Jacket is relatively heavy, though and will last a very long time. I have personally used one of these Jackets for almost ten years and its one of my personal favorites. It very expensive but it’s a product that will perform well in extreme condition and a product that can take an extreme amount of abuse. Some of the features include



·         RECCO reflector for Search and Rescue after avalanches


·         Compass


·         Whistle attached to the zipper of the jacket
 
Author: Westfalia
Posted: November 30, 2012, 9:23 pm
Guest Article by: Allison Morris

If you're planning for the future, consider stockpiling petroleum products. There's an oil crisis coming, and it's unavoidable. Our world's oil reserves aren't as widespread as we're often led to believe. In fact, a 2009 Wikileak found that Saudi Arabia overstated their number of oil barrels by about 40%. As our oil supplies wane, gas prices skyrocket. In the last decade, they have almost doubled. High prices and low supply aren't our only problems — many consumers want to know what will happen when we can't get our oil fix. Fracking, using dirty coal, and other forms of mining are just a few of the toxic alternatives to our nation's dependence on oil and petroleum products. If fortune favors the prepared mind, consider the implications and necessary actions of a population without access to enough petroleum. It's scary! For more information about the coming oil crisis, consider the infographic by Carinsurance.org below.
 
 
Author: Westfalia
Posted: November 28, 2012, 10:32 am

Within the Survivalist and Prepper community the concept SHTF is often used in order to describe an event that will require the tools often discussed as tactics to handle a massive breakdown of the modern institutions, infrastructure, law and order. WROL or Without the Rule of Law has also started to be used in order to describe such an event.


The main problem as I see it is that this type of thinking focuses on a single event that will suddenly change everything about modern life. History shows us that many previous civilizations have collapsed; the Romans, Mayans and the people of the Easter Islands are just some examples. Modern examples are also available like the collapse of the Soviet Union, the collapse of former Yugoslavia, the Genocide in Rwanda and a number of civil wars and more or less collapsed states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo and Somalia. The difficulty of reversing this process has been demonstrated in several conflicts where comprehensive peace building and state building processes have place. So we know that countries, systems and civilizations can and have failed over the course of history. Sometimes a collapse can have absolutely devastating results, but in some cases it can also be relatively peaceful as in the case of the Soviet Union.


What if a Collapse is not an event but a Process?

Within the Survivalist and Prepper movement different types of tactics and solutions has been developed in order to be able to cope with a sudden collapse of modern society;



·         The ability to escape an area buy having kit such as Bug Out Bags, Vehicles and Plans for Escape to safer areas or alternative locations where supplies are being stored.


·         Collecting and storing equipment, supplies, water and other essentials in the home so that one can “Bug In” without having to rely on others.

This type of tactics can be effective for disasters with a fast onset like a hurricane, a nuclear plant meltdown and large scale accidents, but this does not mean that this type tactics is well suited all situations. As the Economic Crisis within the European Union progresses many choose to leave their homes and even their home countries in order to find jobs and livelihoods. For this type of situation a fully equipped Bug Out Bag is not as an effective tool as an education, skills and knowledge that makes it possible to find a job elsewhere.


 


As the situation progresses it becomes clear that the standard of living that many have experienced may become a thing of the past. Things that might be expected are


·         Higher unemployment and a tougher job market


·         Lower wages


·         Higher taxes


·         Higher prices on food, water, energy and fuel


·         Social services like schools, healthcare, law enforcement, military and other functions of states may decrease in size and function.


·         Pensions being lost or lowered and the age for retirement being raised.


These threats present a number of challenges to individuals and families; especially those how already have low marginal in their economic situation. There are no easy solutions for these types of problems but there are of course thing that can be done by individuals and families. It’s also important to say that all regions in the world may not develop the same; some regions may continue to experience economical growth while other regions may go the other way.


Some suggested steps for increasing your resilience


·         Try to reduce your level of debt and pay of any loans you might have, in a situation when the economy no longer grows it can become very hard to pay interest on loans while your salary remains the same or event get lowered.


·         Try to make some savings and put some money away every month; investing money in gold, silver, land and other type of values can also be a way to improve your situation.


·         Learn how to make do with less and save where you can.


·         Work together with your community; it is likely that many services may no longer be available in the same way as they have before. Non Governmental Organizations already provides services for Search and Rescue, Education and Social Services and other fields around the world. 


·         When buying gear try to investment in quality gear that will stand the test of time. Also try to repair and learn to repair gear instead of throwing things away and buying something new as soon as it breaks.


·         Find local opportunities and local options to ensure your basic needs.

 


Conclusion

First of all; I don’t want to pretend that I know what tomorrow will bring. There are however a number of challenges that is not being recognized either as parts or as a whole by the political and economical community. Viewing a potential collapse as a process and not as an event presents a number of problems to actually preparing for such an event. One thing that is clear however is that as things change what we regard as normal will change over time, lower wages, higher gas prices, lowered pensions and other problems will no longer be viewed as imminent disaster, but as everyday life.



The political system in the United States and within the European Union is focused on the notion of growth. This makes it very hard to recognize that there might be limitations like



·        Fossil fuels that provide over 80% of all energy used today are not an unlimited recourse and that we might reach a Peak in the world production.


·         That land is not an unlimited recourse


·         Other renewable and non renewable resource like topsoil, phosphor, fresh water and forests does not exist in an unlimited quantity.


·         That the increase of the world population might create challenges and problems


Adapting to such a situation is not easy and solutions that work in some settings for some people may not work in other settings. Solutions must be based on the local climate, terrain, population and opportunities that exist. Some change may come from the top of the political and economical system but it’s likely that challenges presented will be ignored and that adapting to the changing situation will have to be done by people themselves; you have to take responsibility for your own situation.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: November 22, 2012, 1:05 pm
For Bug Out Bags and Hiking Bags Gas Stoves provides one of the easiest and fastest ways to boil water and prepare a meal. Most Gas Stoves are built on the same principle; you have the gas bottle in the bottom of the stove; a burner on top of the gas bottle and a pot on top of the burner. There are many different type of stoves on the market that use this principle; the stoves from JetBoil, Optimus, Soto and Primus.
The Danish company Heatgear has developed a stove that does not follow this conventional approach and is instead based around a water bottle that is heated by small gas tubes. The stove called Heatstick comes in two different sizes; 0,5 liter and 1 liter. ´

The company Heatgear promise many advantages:
• High efficiency and compact, and light weight design
• Stealthy performance that does not produce much heat or light compared to gas stoves and multi fuel stoves; something that can be important for hunters and military units.
• Safe since it does not produce and open flame that can ignite surrounding materials.
• Standard wide mouth so that the water bottles are compatible with water filters from Katadyn and MSR.

Some of the aspects that makes the stove a less interesting option
• The Heatstick stove currently has a price that is more than double the regular price of a compact Gas Stove.
• Other Gas Stoves have standardized Gas Bottles making easy to find replacements at most stores that sell outdoors equipment; the special Gas Bottles for this stove called Fuelsticks can make this more complicated for owners of this stove.

Author: Westfalia
Posted: July 21, 2012, 4:00 pm
In some previous articles I have discussed some possible ways to approach the subject of Bug Out Bags from a light weight perspective. In this article I will focus on Ultra Light Weight Equipment and what type of gear you can go for if you want to build an Ultra Light Weight pack for outdoor activities or as a BOB. The Ultra Light Weight Hiking movement has become very popular and new equipment becomes available all the time. In this article I will give some examples of equipment that is available.
All Bug Out Bags must be adapted to the person that uses the setup, the local climate, seasonal variations and terrain. One Size Do Not fit All and this article is only intended to provide the reader with some inspirations for their own setups. For some of the considerations that should be included see the article Building the right Bug Out Bag for You.

Suggestion for an Ultra Light Bug Out Bag

Weight: 4,155kg without water, 7,235kg including water (around 16 pounds including 3 liter of Water)

Backpack 0,891kg
[ ] Terra Nova Voyager 55 Liter 891g

Shelter and Clothing 1,33kg
[ ] Terra Nova Ultra 1 Tarp 2,5m x 1,5m 70g
[ ] 20m (5 x 4m) meters of Dyneema cord 30g
[ ] Montane Light-Speed H20 Jacket 155g
[ ] Montane Atomic Pants 200g
[ ] Western Mountaineering Summer Light Sleeping Bag (180cm length) 525g
[ ] Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad 350g

Survival Knife 0,107kg
[ ] Mora Companion MG Fixed Blade Knife 107g

Fire 0,021kg
[ ] FireSteel Pup 7g
[ ] BIC Lighter 14 g

Light 0.082kg
[ ] Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp (Including 3 AA Batteries) 81g

Pocket Survival Kit 0,1kg
[ ] Zip Lock Bag
[ ] Fishing line, hooks and sinks
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Anti Diarrheal Tablets
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Pen
[ ] Vargo Titanium Whistle 3g
[ ] Fällkniven U-4 Folding Knife 22g

Water 3,080kg
[ ] 2 1,5 liter Soda Bottles (40g+40g + 1500g+1500g) 3080g

Food and Cooking 1,215kg
[ ] Jetboil SOL Gas Stove 300g
[ ] Jetboil Pot Support and Stabilizer 57g
[ ] 100g Gas Bottle 198g
[ ] 6 Freeze Dried Meals from DryTech 660g

First Aid and Hygiene 0,25kg
[ ] Lifesystems Light + Dry Micro 114g
[ ] Compact bottle of Soap
[ ] Tooth Brush, Dental Floss and Tooth Paste
[ ] Half a roll of Toilet Paper in a Waterproof Bag 100g

Navigation 0.123kg
[ ] Topographical Map 100g
[ ] Compass: Silva Ranger SL 23g

Other 0,036kg
[ ] Rite In The Rain 3x5 Notebook 36g

Comments

In this Ultra Light Weight setup there is still clothing and shelter included to help shield you from the elements in the form of a Ultra Light Rain clothing, a Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Matress and a Tarp. The Tarp is extremely light with a weight of only 70 grams and made from the same material as the ultra light tents from Terra Nova; it is however very expensive. A light weight tarp in the same size from a hardware store has a weight of around 200g-240g and price of only a few dollars. In this setup instead of paracord a cord made of Dyneema was included; this cord is lighter than paracord and has a strength than can hold around 300kg.

If you are looking for a light weight tent I would recommend looking at the Hillberg Akto, Helsport Ringstind Superlight and Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1. The Ultra Light model from Hennessey Hammock can be another alternative worth checking out.

The Survival Knife in this setup; The Mora Companion is a light weight alternative that does not have a full tang; but I would argue that this knife is one of the absolutely best knives that can be found for this price; cheap, very sharp and sturdy enough for most tasks in the outdoors. The knife can also be found in a number of colors; from forest green to safety orange. If you want a Mora Knife with a sturdier blade you can check out the Mora Bushcraft Triflex. As a secondary knife the super light weight folding knife Fällkniven U-4 is included in the Pocket Survival Kit; this knife is also excellent for Every Day Carry (EDC).



Two tools are included to start a fire; a compact Fire Steel from FireSteel.com and a simple lighter from BIC giving you two reliable options to get a fire going. If you want to have more options you can include some tinder like cotton balls soaked with Vaseline and some matches in waterproof bag.

The Tikka 2 Headlamp from Petzl is a headlamp with one red and one white LED; the red LED can be useful in situations when you don’t want to attract attention or preserve your night vision. A headlamp many advantages over a flashlight since they allow you to perform repairs, first aid, raise tents and other work during the night and low light conditions and still use both of your hands. If you want a compact Flashlight instead the Fenix LD-12 or 4Sevens Quark Tactical QTA provides a high amount light in a compact and light format.

Normally Pocket Survival Kits comes in a relatively heavy metal or plastic container; in order to save some weight you can simply pack a small kit by yourself in a waterproof zip lock bag like an AlokSak.

Water is one of the most critical aspects of survival in any climate and the access to water in combination with the climate must be a central aspect of your planning and setup. Water is very heavy so if the access to water is good you can get along with carrying just a little water; but if not you must adjust accordingly. For water normal Soda Bottles that can you clean carefully provides one of the lightest alternatives you can find even if they are not as sturdy as a bottle from Nalgene or Klean Kanteen. If the water in your area is relatively clean in your area you can get along with just brining Water Purification Tablets, but if the quality of the water requires more treatment a compact filter or a water bottle that has a filter included can be worth considering.

For cooking a light weight Gas Stove provides a method of cooking that is fast, effective and light weight. The JetBoil SOL is a suitable system for one person that includes the burner and a pot. All small gas stoves really benefits from having a stabilizer that is attached to bottom of the stove; this makes the stove more reliable and reduce the risk that you accidently tip the stove over and spill boiling water over yourself or lose a meal. A 100g container of gas provides enough heat to boil around 10-12 liters of water. Freeze dried food is an excellent source of food in combination with a gas stove if there is access to water in your area since its light weight and has a long shelf life. There are many different companies that make freeze dried food; find the company that you personally like the best. The rations from the Norwegian Company Drytech are used by military units in Scandinavia; they are vacuumed pack to reduce weight, increase shelf life and reduce the amount of space they take up in your kit.

The First Aid Kit is quite basic and minimalistic; just intended to deal with minor cuts and problems like blisters. For hygiene a tooth brush and some tooth paste is included; in order to save a few grams you can cut the handle of the tooth brush making it a little shorter. For hygiene a little soap can help you stay clean and avoid infections. Normal soap in the size you can find from hotels provides a light weight alternative.

The Backpack in this setup is relatively big for a light weight pack making it possible to add a little extra equipment like a few pieces of clothing, documents like and ID-Card, Immunization Card, Passport, navigation tools like a GPS, Snacks and Tea Bags etc. The lightweight packs from Osprey, the Jam 50 or Jam 70 from GoLite and the Mariposa 2012 can be alternatives to the suggested pack.

Conclusion

This setup is centered on different types of Ultra Light Equipment but still provides a comprehensive setup with a weight of around 7 kilograms including 3 liters of Water. Some personal equipment and clothing would most likely have to be included as well but the weight of the pack is still low. A Bug Out Bag does not have to consist of only Ultra Light Weight equipment as in this setup; but by incorporating some Ultra Light Items you can reduce the weight of regular setup or a regular hiking pack.

Since Ultra Light Weight Equipment does not provide the same amount of insulation and protection from the elements as thicker fabrics the clothing you carry is extra important in order to avoid hypothermia. In cold weather settings this approach is not as effective since it leaves you vulnerable to the elements; an Ultra Light Approach can however be a successful concept during the summers even in Northern Regions. The critical aspect is that you know the limitations of the gear and adapt accordingly; experience, knowledge and skills becomes extra important and you must handle the gear with more care.

Pro
• A lighter pack makes it easier to move around; especially if you are suffering from problems with your back or knees.
• You can generally move faster and longer distances with a lighter bag; something that can be crucial during an evacuation if you have to move by foot.
• Carrying as light bag helps to conserve energy and allows you to stay more alert and can thereby help avoiding dangers and injuries during travel.

Con
• Ultra Light Equipment has thinner fabrics and is less sturdy than regular equipment making them more likely to break and be affected by wear.
• High Quality Ultra Light Equipment tend to be very expensive making it a big investment; especially if you don’t intend on using the equipment for your regular outdoor activities
• Ultra light sleeping bags and sleeping mattresses tend to be less comfortable and not provide the same amount of insulation and comfort as thicker and sturdier models. Knowing your equipment, your own terrain and climate is extra important for this type of equipment; you must know how to utilize it and what limitations your gear has. In general I would not recommend the ultra light approach for settings with very cold or extreme weather.

Also see
Light Weight Bug Out Bag
Light Weight Bug Out Bags - Examples of Setups
Building the right Bug Out Bag for You
Author: Westfalia
Posted: July 17, 2012, 10:47 pm
I would like to take the opportunity and recommend an interview with the former Director of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) James R. Schlesinger on the subject of Peak Oil. Schlesinger has had a number of different high posts in the US including Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: July 14, 2012, 10:42 am
In order to understand the world around us and be able to identify potential threats Intelligence Agencies and other organizations around the world engage in the collection of information through various channels. Today the vast majority of information is gathered by intercepting electronic communications like internet traffic and radio traffic but other technical tools like satellites are also being utilized. New tools like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV:s) have been introduced and allows operators to collect information without having to risk lives and some models like the Predator and the Reaper can also engage targets directly. UAV:s have initially been used by Military Forces and Intelligence Agencies but are starting to be employed by civilian actors as well.




Information gathered from Human Sources is often referred to as HumInt. The use of HumInt varies between different actors like police, military, intelligence agencies, diplomats and businesses. Sometimes human source are treated in a way that is not in the best interest of the source. This can be the case for police informers and other more extreme cases like the massive killings in the Soviet Union in the 1930:s. Torture and other cruel treatments have been used in totalitarian regimes as a way to collect information but similar methods have also been employed by more and less democratic states. In some cases sources can be used without them being aware that the information their collecting is being used by others.



During Disasters and Crisis Situations information can often be provided by groups like


·         Refugees and Displaced People – what areas do they have firsthand knowledge about and what areas do they only know indirectly?


·         Locals; Taxi Drivers, Bus Drivers, people working in the restaurant business etc


·         Tourists and Travelers


·         Journalists

Interviewing people and asking questions


Needless to say all interviews must be adapted to the situation and context where they take place; it’s one thing to interview a high level official during in the office of this person a calm day and another trying to get information from someone that has escaped after a natural disaster in the middle of the crisis. In this article I use the term “interview”, this can be a formal process but it can also be as simple as meeting someone and starting a conversation in order to get some information. 




There are many problems with collecting information from Human Sources; one of the major problems is what an individual actually knows and how well this actually represents the situation in an area. Refugees can have lived in a small local area in a country and traveled through areas that haven’t been that affected by natural disasters or conflict. If this is the case the information may not represent the entire picture so it is important to understand what time and place specific information comes from. Rumors and contradicting information often circulate so it is important to understand


·         What has the person experienced and seen firsthand


·         What has the person heard through rumors, family members, friends, the Media etc? The more people a piece of information has passed by the larger are the chance it has been altered or misunderstood. It’s also common that specific stories can be told by many people without them actually having experienced it.


This can be particularly problematic after a natural disaster or for refugees after a civil war since the people you encounter may be very random and from different areas and different social backgrounds. Another major problem with getting information from people is that questions shape the answers. This is probably the biggest challenge for interviews; asking the right questions. The more precise the question – the more precise the answer will be. In many cases it can just as important get information about an phenomena or development as it is to know that it not there. The presence of hostile troops in a certain area can be an example.


Sensitive issues are often extra problematic. One example is unpopular activities or phenomena’s. If asked is an unpopular phenomena should be allowed or not more people tend to say it shouldn’t than if the question is formulated so that it asks if an unpopular activity should be forbidden. Words and formulations affect the answers.




It can also be problematic to interview people in a group; in this case the individuals may affect each other and the answers given. If it’s possible it can be a good idea to try to interview people separately instead of doing so in groups.



Refugees can expect to get advantages if they provide the information someone wants to hear and thereby shape their answers accordingly if they can notice a theme in the questions that is being asked. This can also be a problem for interrogators; if the subject start realizing what the interrogators is looking for they can adjust their answers accordingly.

If asking a person a serious of question regarding what they have experienced or regarding the situation in a particular area it can be a good idea to also ask follow up question like if the informant have something to add that you haven’t asked about. This opens up the possibility to get vital information that falls outside your own expectations and increase the chance you will receive unexpected answers. 



In some cases information from people can be collected face-to-face but it’s also possible to collect information using cell phones, satellite phones, text messages, radio, e-mail, written letters and other tools like social networks. Many Intelligence Agencies and Crisis Management Organizations use their own platforms in order to share and distribute information; using specific groups in Social Networks can an alternative way for people without these resources to use web-based solution to share information but also provide the option of sharing pictures and video. For sensitive information encryption can be used to protect the information or it can be passed on using method like dead drops.



Making Contact

The first step of being able to interview someone for information is making contact; if you are interviewing someone I suggest that you introduce yourself and tell them how you are and why you would like to know more about what’s going on. Often it can be advantage being introduced by someone the person you would like to interview knows if this sis possible. If you’re just asking as private individual or if you’re working for an organization managing a crisis let this be known. Be friendly and polite.




The scene of the interview

One important aspect when conducting an interview is where the interview or talk takes place. It can be good if you can find some place where you can talk privately since the presence of many people can affect the answers. The nature of the situation affects how important this is; it is one thing to interview someone after a natural disaster and very different thing to interview someone in a collapsed state if the interviewed person fears for their life. Your own appearance is also important; how you are dressed and behave can affect if someone choose to give you information or not.




Problems with conducting interviews

There are many forms of problems than limit the amount of information that can be collected from human sources; one common barrier is language. This was a big problem for Intelligence Agencies after the terrorist attacks after 9/11 when many agencies had a limited or no capacity at all to handle this problem; a problem that was also enhanced by the need for secrecy and problems with recruiting new personnel. Language can also be problematic since it might require a great knowledge in order to detect the exact meaning of phrases; especially if there are differences in culture as well.




When asking questions one thing to look out for is that many people often tend to agree with statements rather than disagree. It can therefore be wise to avoid leading questions when you ask a person if they agree with a statement or not; by using more open questions this problem can be reduced.


Another common problem is how the language is used; it can be difficult to understand a question asked in your own language if question is asked in way that makes it hard to understand what the question really is about. This includes specific terms used in professions, slang and “big” words. Another problem can be is if you use vague words when the meaning of the word can be interpreted in many ways. One way to minimize this problem is to test questions on a friend or someone you know before you use them.


·        Try to keep the questions short and precise


·        Take your time and don’t stress through and interview; it’s important to you allow the person you’re talking to finish their answers. Also avoid asking about two separate issues in the same question; it makes it hard for the interviewed person to remember the question. One question at a time.


Finding and getting access to translators is a problematic process and even if you can get a translator it’s hard to know if the translation is correct and if some points are being lost in translation. Another problem is the potential loyalty of the translators; especially for military forces working in locations they are not familiar with.


After an Interview

When you have completed an interview it can be a good idea to ask for the person’s name and contact information if you would have to get in contact with them. It can be hard time to remember all the details of an interview afterwards so when you completed an interview write down the details; if you feel that you have to write down details under the interview or record the conversation I suggest that you ask for the persons permission to do so; especially when it comes to recordings. If you record an conversation with someone without their knowledge it is serious breach of trust; especially if the person you interview discover this during or after the interview.




·         When did the interview take place and where did it take place?


·         How did you interview? If you don’t know the name what other characteristics did you notice; age, hair, clothing etc.



·         What did you ask and what did you learn?



·         Personal impressions



Collapsed States and Civil Wars

In collapsed states and civil wars some of the refugees may be fleeing for political reasons, away from ethnic cleansing or from precaution; the information you collect could possibly put someone’s life at risk if it falls into the wrong hands so make sure that you do all you can in order to protect it and the source you collect it from.




In conflict zones and collapsed states information can sometimes be acquired from

·         Different types of Militias and Resistance Groups in the country


·         Non Government Organizations (NGO:s) working in the area


·         UN Officials or Peacekeeping Forces working in the area


·         Political Groups in exile


·         Maintenance and service personnel


Source Criticism         

One question that can be very hard to determine is if a Human Source is reliable? Some aspects that can be worth thinking about is



·         Loyalty – How is the source and what motivates the source to share information?


·         What type of Knowledge, Experience and Education does the source have?


·         Psychological traits


Some human sources can prove to have great worth; some of the most important sources of information are often people; especially when it comes to understanding the motivation, goals and plans of an adversary since this information can be impossible to gather by other means.  Human sources like individual located in the top of other intelligence agencies can be ultimate sources; a singular source of this nature can often be more valuable than all other sources combined. The secrecy surrounding intelligence agencies often makes the best sources the one that is hardest to get access to since information is shared on a need to know basis and low level personnel might not even know why they perform certain tasks.  
During Crisis Situations it’s important to also take the psychological reactions of individuals into consideration; during high stress situations affects perception in different way, something that can often be referred to as tunnel vision; and it can be a factor even for experienced personal within the police or military. The change of perception does not only have to be what a person focus on; it can also be other things like the sense of time meaning that an event may have passed slower or faster than an individual think it did and they might have missed details that would have been easy to detect for a neutral observer. 


                     



Disinformation

For Intelligence Agencies and Military Actors one potential problem is disinformation. Disinformation can be used to gain advantages in military operations both on a tactical but also on a strategic level. Disinformation can be false information that is being planted or true information that has been altered to create confusion or make an adversary draw incorrect assumptions. The importance of disinformation and deception is nothing new; this is one of the central parts of Sun Tzu:s “The Art of War”. In the Soviet Union this was known as Maskirovka; something that was being utilized on all levels in order to cloak intentions and capability. Disinformation can often be particularly effective if used to reinforce the existing perception of an adversary.




Disinformation can be used to




·         Make an adversary draw the wrong conclusions regarding the capacity of an individual, military force or business.


·         Mask the intentions of an actor


·         Delay actions of an adversary


·         Create confusion or fear


·         Make it harder for an adversary to regain the initiative 


These factors are often more important to actors that are inferior to their counterparts since it can allow the focus their efforts on specific areas. One problem with disinformation campaigns is that the information can get a life of its own; one example of this is when KGB spread the rumor that the HIV/AIDS virus was invented as biological weapon in US. Even if proof that the disease could not have been produced by the US and that it existed before the belief spread still exists among some parts of the public around the world.


Lie Spotting

Knowing if what somebody tells us is the truth or not is not easy. Most adults can only detect a lie around 50% of the time; almost the same rate as if you are simply flipping a coin. If you’re working in a Business it can be vital for detecting fraud and for Intelligence Agencies to detect disinformation.




During Crisis and Disaster Situations its can be especially hard trying to verify information so your own assessment becomes extra important. Detecting lies simply by looking for signs in the person you’re talking to is often known as Lie Spotting. Pamela Mayer is one of those how have worked to develop this field and her research and tips can be found her book “Lie Spotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception”. You also view Mayer on TED where she had a talk about her research.



Conclusion

In this article I have discussed some of the aspects related to gathering information from Human Sources. There are of course much more that could be discussed regarding this field but I hope that the reader has gotten some new ideas and perspectives that can be of help.


Other Articles


Risk Assessments
The Mediain Crisis and Survival Situations
Author: Westfalia
Posted: July 10, 2012, 12:21 pm
A subject that never seems to go out of style in the Prepper movement is Bug Out Bags (BOB). These types of kits are known under many names; Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) Bags, 72 Hours Kits and I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) Bags. What these survival kits have in common is that the kits are intended to be comprehensive survival kits intended to provide you everything you need in a survival or crisis situation. Many discuss the subjects of survival kits like it’s a one size fits all concept; this however not the way that I suggest that you approach the subject. Survival is about adapting to the specific situations and challenges you face and your BOB must reflect this reality.

A Bug Out Bag is only a tool in order to make it easier for you to deal with extraordinary situations; but it is still you that will have to deal with this situation and in order to do this you must have the health and physical fitness, skills and experience, knowledge and will to survive that is required to do so.

The Clothing makes the Prepper

Before we get into the subject of what to put into the BOB lets go into the subjects of clothing. The elements present one of biggest challenges in any survival situation. It normally takes few days to die from dehydration and several weeks to die from starvation but a combination of wind, rain or snow can kill an unprotected person in a matter of hours. Every setting presents its own challenges; the terrain, topography, temperatures and seasonal variations are just some of the aspects that you have to take into consideration.

The first thing I would suggest that you get is hiking boots. There are many type of footwear to choose from but in general I would recommend hiking boots as your primary footwear. There are several types intended for the arctic, jungle and desert. The important aspect is that your footwear can deal with terrain and setting you face. In addition to your boots I suggest that you choose your socks carefully; socks made from merino wool or wool still provides some heat even if they get wet. Wools socks or not; walking around with soaking wet boots can mess up your entire day so make sure that you bring extra socks. Gaiters are an excellent complement that can help keeping water, snow and dirt from getting into your boots in the first place. Having an extra pair of light weight shoes in the pack can be very valuable if you have to dry your boots after a day’s walk. It can also be useful after you established camp; the models from Fivefingers or the Trailglove shoes from Merrell can be worth checking out.

Base Layers
Base layers is the layer of clothing that you have closest to your body; the idea is that your base layer should provide warmth and provide insulation even if it’s wet and dry easily. Normally two major materials is used; synthetic fabrics and merino wool. Synthetic fabrics are often cheaper than merino wool but have the disadvantage that they can melt if subjected to fire or extreme heat. Merino wool is a natural product with several advantages over synthetic fabrics

· Merino wool can in most cases be washed in a washing machine and does not have to be hand washed as regular wool.
· Merino wool does not irritate the skin in the same way as regular wool
· Merino wool does not melt if subjected to fire or heat
· Merino wool does not contract an odor as easily as synthetic fabrics

It is often said that “cotton kills” since it does not provide warmth if it gets wet from rain or perspiration in the same way as base layers made from synthetic fabrics or merino wool. The performance of all base layers is lowered when it gets wet, therefore I suggest that you include at least one extra base layer shirt in your pack; having an extra layer can allow you to change your layers and allow the wet one to dry and it can also be used to regulate your clothing accordingly to the temperature by simply adding an additional layer if needed. I would not recommend cotton as your primary base layer, but if you only have cotton shirts make sure that you bring an extra in order to minimize the problem. In some situations the disadvantage cotton presents can be turned into an advantage by using a base layer made from merino wool or synthetic fabrics as your first layer and then add a second layer made from cotton.. If you have to perform intense physical tasks the cotton layer will absorb the perspiration through the first layer and help keeping the first layer dry.

If you keep you extra clothing in a water proof packs sack you increase the chance it will be dry if you ever need it; this is particularly important if you would fall through thin ice and need to change your clothing immediately.

Mid Layers
Mid layers is intended to provide you with insulation between your base layer and outer shell. Fleece is a light weight synthetic material that is that provides excellent insulation. There are countless brands on the market; a model with a zipper makes it easy to get the jacket on and off as you need it. Two of my personal favorites are the Houdini Power Houdi and the Houdini Power Jacket. There are also other solutions like shirts with either down or synthetic like prima loft that provide extreme insulation during cold weather. These solutions can often be compressed just like a sleeping bag and generally take up very little space in a pack. These solutions are often to warm do wear when you’re on the move but can provide great insulation and extra security when you break for camp or have to stop.

Shell
The shell is the outer layer that provides you with a shield against wind and rain. There are many different types of shell jackets; most regular shell jackets are made with some kind of membrane like Gore-Tex, with these shell layers you can often make do without additional rain clothing. These jackets “breath” and let water vapor be transported through the membrane but stop drops of water in the form of rain from reaching your mid and base layers. Regular shell jackets than can often be somewhat uncomfortable to wear and they can sometimes also make noise while moving something than can be a problem while engaging in activities when silence is required like hunting.

Soft shell is another fabric that is softer than regular shell jackets and more comfortable to carry. It does not provide the same amount of protection as a regular shell jacket but is in my experience sufficient for most situations. The main advantage is that soft shell jacket often “breath” better and thereby keeping you drier if you engage in intense physical activities and that it is also a more quite material to move around in. Soft shell and Shell Jackets are the most common outer layers; but there are also other options like extremely densely woven cotton that provides a quite good and resistance to wind and rain and have a much higher breathing than normal shell and soft shell materials. This type of cotton has been used in survival suits for fighter pilots for its ability to keep water for some time but still let some air through.

Rain Clothing and Ponchos can also be an alternative; since they often provide an even better protection than shell jackets in extreme conditions; but since they don’t “breath” very well they will often make you wet from perspiration if used during intense physical activities. If you go for a poncho I suggest that you get a pair of rain trousers as well since a poncho does not provide a full cover for your legs. There are also excellent combination shelters that work both as a Poncho, Tarp and Bivi-Bag; the Fjellduk from Helsport and Bivanorak from Hilleberg are two examples. There is ultra-light rain clothing that has a very low weight; as an example the combination of the Atomic Jacket and Atomic Pants from Montane has a combined weight of only 525 grams.

Gloves
In cold and wind your hands is one of the most exposed parts of your body. A pair of gloves is important in order to stay warm but also in order to avoid injuries. The Montane Sabertooth Soft shell Gloves is one of my personal favorites that works well in most situations and provides good flexibility if you have to engage in tasks that require some dexterity. Thin leather working gloves is another great option, but if you want gloves that provide even more protection there are gloves especially intended to provide protection from cuts and knives from Hatch and other companies.

Your head
Having a hat or cap is extremely important in cold climates since you will lose much heat otherwise. A cap made from wool works well in most situations but in extreme condition a shell cap like the Lowe Alpin Mountain Cap can be a good alternative. In warm climate a hat or baseball cap can provide protection from the sun. There are many for of multifunction scarfs like the Buff available that can be used as a scarf, balaclava and cap and in many other configurations that can be a good complement to a hat. The Shemag is a larger scarf normally made from cotton that can also be for a number of other uses like a towel.

What’s in your Pockets?

Before we start discussing Bug Out Bags it can be a good idea to Every Day Carry (EDC). EDC is what you normally with you pockets on an everyday basis. Disaster and Crisis Situations can take place when you least expect it and what you have on your person may be all that you will have available.

I suggest that you try to carry a few basic items. A compact Folding Knife or a Swiss Army Knife is a great tool that will do most tasks that you need. The Fällkniven U-4 is one of my personal favorite for EDC, its 22 grams provides an extremely light weight knife and it has an excellent blade steel. Some type of fire starter like BIC lighter is very cheap and works well for most situations. A watch and a compact flashlight can also be good addition.


The Bug Out Bag

The Bag
What kind of bag or back-pack you should choose depends on long number of different factors. In general I would recommend that you for a backpack since it allow you to comfortably carry the equipment you need. It is however possible to use a long number of different alternatives like a Rolling Luggage Bag, Duffel bags or hard case bags like the ones from Pelican.

One of the most common recommendations for a Bug Out Bag is to use a 72 Hours Assault Pack or some type of tactical bag with MOLLE straps, extra Pouches etc like the packs from Maxpedition or Kifaru, These often have many options for arranging your equipment and the option of adding extra pouches. This packs have the advantage of providing excellent options for organizing the equipment; but they can often lack comfort; something that is critical if you ever have to carry the pack for long distances. When you choose your pack I suggest that you prioritize two things; Comfort and Function. It does not matter how your packs look, the important aspect is that it is comfortable to carry and that it provides the function you need from it. Having an Internal or External frame in your pack makes the pack more comfortable to carry, especially if you have to carry a heavy load. Make sure that the shoulder straps and waist belt fits is comfortable and that the size of the bag is the right one for the length of your back. Making sure that the equipment you carry in your pack stays dry is also important; by using waterproof pack sacks or a backpack cover can minimize these types of problems.

Shelter
If you have to leave your home you might need somewhere to take shelter for the night if you can’t find other accommodations. What type of shelter you should get depends on your situation, your climate and the local terrain.

Tents have the major advantage that they can provide a shelter in almost any location; even if there are no trees or other types of materials that can be used to provide a shelter. A tent can also keep bugs and mosquitoes out and allow you to get the best rest you can. A model with a single pole is normally the lightest model that can found; the more poles a tent have the less sensitive the tent is to extreme weather. A tent is a particularly effective solution if you have to treat a wounded or hypothermic person since it provides excellent shelter from the elements.

Tarps can be a good alternative to improvise different kinds of shelter and they can also be used to provide extra protection over a regular tent. They are often quite cheap and there are light weight models available in most hardware stores. There are also ultra light models of high quality available from Hilleberg and Exped; but these are very expensive compared to a regular tarp.

Hammocks or Hennessy Hammocks can be effective and light weight alternatives; especially in relatively warm climates where you easily find trees and other places to attach the hammock.

A Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Mattress can help you stay warm in cold climates and provide insulation from the ground. A light weight sleeping bag is often enough to keep you alive even in quite cold settings but its recommended that you try to get a bag that is specifically chosen for the temperatures you encounter. Sleeping bags with down as insullation is often very light weight and provides excellent insulation as long as they remain dry. But if a sleeping bag made from down gets wet it loses much of its insulating properties; something that can be fatal. Sleeping bags with synthetic insulation are often heavier and bulkier but on the other hand they provide a somewhat better insulation if they get wet.

Survival Knives
A knife is one of the most important tools you can carry for preparedness. Since its one of the most important tools I suggest that you carry two knives so that you have one extra if you would lose or break one of your knives. I suggest that you use your EDC knife as your backup knife and that you choose a sturdy knife for your BOB. Different types of knives have different strength and weaknesses. A multi-tool like the models from Leatherman is excellent for many types of different tasks but can often be quite heavy. If you engage in outdoor activities and bush craft I would suggest that you go for a fixed blade knife. Some recommended models for EDC;

· The Fällkniven U-2 or U-4
· Benchmade 530
· Gerber Hinderer CLS
· Emerson La Griffe
· Victorinox Climber Swiss Army Knife
· Leatherman Wave Multi Tool

The main advantage with a fixed blade knife is that it does not have any moving parts that can break; even the strongest folding knife will be damaged if you use it repeatedly for splitting firewood or other heavy duty tasks for extended periods of time. Some recommended models:

· The Fällkniven F1 or S1
· ESEE-3 or ESEE-4
· Mora 2000Swedish FireKnife or Mora Bushcraft Survival

If you live in an area where you might end up traveling through forests or similar terrain an axe or folding saw can be an excellent complement to a survival knife if you have to construct shelters or gather fire wood.

Light
During night and low light conditions having some kind of flashlight or headlamp available can be critical if you are trying to signal for help, perform first aid or build a shelter. Modern LED lights can provide much light in combination with a long battery life and they are also much more robust than older incensement bulbs. Some recommended models

· The Fenix LD-12 or LD-22
· 4Sevens Quark Tactical QTA
· ZebraLight H502d Headlamp

Fire Starter
A fire can provide you with many aspects in a survival situation; it can help you prepare food, boil water in order to disinfects it, provide you with heat if you’re cold, light so that you can signal for help and comfort. Matches is one of the easiest way to start a fire, the main disadvantage is that they often don’t work if subjected to water or dirt; therefore make sure that you keep them in a waterproof bag or container. A normal lighter like a BIC lighter last longer than many boxes of matches but have the disadvantage that they can break or stop working if subjected to rain, dirt or snow.A Fire Steel has the main advantage that it works no matter if its subjected to rain, dirt or snow; but it requires practice and that you know what type of tinder that works best in order to be used effectively. Tinder can help you to start a fire more easily; one of the most effective types of tinder is to take cotton balls and soak them in petroleum jelly, another effective but more expensive solution is WetFire from UST.

Pocket Survival Kits
A Pocket Survival Kit is a compact kit containing some basic tools that can be critical to have during a survival situation. A Pocket Survival Kit can help you keeping some extra equipment like a sewing kit, extra fire starter, button compass, a compact blade, fishing kit, snare wire and other essentials organized in your pack. A Pocket Survival Kit can also be carried on your person as a back-up in case you would loose your Bug Out Bag.

· BCB - Combat Survival Kit
· ESEE - Basic Survival Kit
· Pro Survival Kit Company – Master Pro Survival Kit

Water and Water Purification
Water is a critical part in any survival situation, an individual will only survive a few days without water and even small loses in fluid will have a large impact on the physical and mental capacity. How much water you should carry in your Bug Out Bag depends on several factors; if you live in an area where clean water is easy to find it does not make much sense to carry much water in your pack since water is very heavy to carry. But if you live in an area where water is very hard to find and the climate very hot you will have to adapt your Bug Out Bag accordingly.

I also suggest that you add some type of equipment to purify water either by disinfect the water using water purification tablets or filtering the water using a water purification filter. Water borne diseases can cause various forms of illnesses; by taking measures you can reduce the risk of contracting such disease. Water borne diseases can also spread after natural disasters like earthquakes that often break pipes so that waste water and fresh water mix resulting in a situation where water that was previously safe no longer is.

Recommended Water Containers
· Nalgene
· Klean Kanteen
· Camelbak Water Bladder

Recommended Water Purification Filters
· Katadyn Pocket
· MSR MiniWorks EX
· Aquamira Frontier

Food and Cooking
Normally it takes a few weeks for an individual to die from famine if no food of any kind is available. The lack of food is however a problem during a survival situation for a number of reasons; the lack of food reduce a person’s stamina and ability to generate heat making them more vulnerable to hypothermia but also affect the mind and the ability to reason. The psychological reactions to not having any food available can also be severe; after only a few days this often turns into an obsession

I therefore suggest that you try to include some kind of food in your BOB. Freeze dried rations have the main advantage that they take up very little room in your pack and they are also very light; normally a ration has a weight of just over 100 grams. Freeze dried rations often have a shelf life of a couple of years and should be rotated on a regular basis. The main disadvantage is that freeze dried rations require extra water (hot water), they are often expensive and your stomach might not appreciate to eat only freeze dried for over an extended period of time.

Recommended stoves
· Ebsit Pocket Stove
· Soto Micro Regulator Gas Stove
· Primus OmniLite Ti
· Trangia 27-6 UL

First Aid
Physical injuries can easily occur during outdoor activities, in your everyday life and as a result of Man-Made or Natural Disasters. In order to prepare for this learning First Aid and Disaster Medicine is very important. A First Aid Kit can provide a good tool kit that can help you to treat injuries more effectively and by having sterile bandages and other equipment available reduce the risk of infections. I also suggest that you include blister plasters, pain killers and anti-diarrheal tablets in your first aid kit in addition to any prescription medication that you might require.

Hygiene
Normally hygiene is not the most important aspect of making it through short term emergencies; but having the access to soap, a towel, toilet paper and a tooth brush can help you stay clean and reduce the risk of infections especially during long lasting emergencies. In addition to this some basic items for hygiene will help keeping your spirit up something that can be very important.

Other
Bug Out Bags is often discussed as a tool to survive in the wilderness; but for many people living in cities during an evacuation it may be much more important to have some cash and credit card available, a charger for your cell phone or your passport and ID. Having the correct medical insurance and insurance for your property is often very important to handle the economical aftermath of a disaster. There are also almost always personal needs like prescription glasses or specific medication that must be included.

Smart Phones
Modern smart phones are excellent tools that can provide you with the ability to communicate through social networks, e-mail and other digital means but can also provide tools like GPS and map so that you easily find your way around. One the main drawbacks are the capacity of the battery that is often depleted fast using the applications. A cell phone charger can be an excellent thing to have in your pack, but in many situations the electrical grid may be down or unavailable. There are excellent compact lithium-ion power packs on the market that with a capacity of around 3500-5000 ; enough to charge a modern smart phone twice or more. There are also more comprehensive solutions that combine solar charges and massive li-ion batteries like the Powermonkey Extreme. Another drawback is that these phones are sensitive to the elements and must be treated carefully; sometimes just dropping the phone on the ground is enough to break the screen. One way of minimizing this problem is to get a water proof container or a custom fitted case; especially if you use your phone while biking this type of solution can be very helpful since it allows to use navigation functions without having to hold the phone in your hand; some excellent solutions is available through the company UltimateAddons.

In most situations cell phones provides the most effective way to communicate and call for help; but there are also other tools like the SPOT that can send SOS messages using satellites that contain your exact position using GPS. Other more basic tools can include whistles, signal mirrors or strobes that can be used to attract attention.

The Practical Aspect
The Bug Out Bag is often discussed as something that has to be perfect; every single part of equipment has to be the best piece than can be bought for money – or your dead. So how important is it to have the perfect Bug Out Bag? My answer would be that the BOB itself isn’t the most critical component. The most important aspect is YOU. There are situations when a BOB can really make a difference for your chances to survive a disaster, but the majority of natural disasters and man-made disasters don’t call for an evacuation in order to survive.

What type of activities do you normally engage in?
When you build your BOB I would suggest that you try to find equipment that you need for the type of outdoor activities that you normally engage in like hiking, hunting, camping and other activities. One of the most important aspects is that you know your equipment; how to use it, its limitations and strengths so that you can utilize it in the best way.

Building a high quality Bug Out Bag can set you back literary thousands of dollars; there is basically no upper limit for the potential price. If you build a setup only intended to be used during emergencies you might end up with an extremely expensive setup that you will never enjoy or use. The equipment you choose should work just as well for your regular needs as for your need during an emergency.

Conclusion

Having a specific kit for evacuations can be critical for some type of emergencies; but far from all disasters require this capacity in order for people to survive. A Bug Out Bag can provide you with tools during other situations

· Extra warmth in form of a sleeping bag in case the electrical grid goes down
· Light in the form of a flashlight or headlamp in case of black out
· The ability to prepare food if your regular stove stops working
· The ability to store and purify water
· A first aid kit in case of accidents in your home
· Tools in the form of a knife or multi-tool

In the Prepper and Survivalist community many often discuss preparedness in terms of discussing a complete and sudden collapse of modern society; in some cases there are also references to conspiracy theories and fictional literature. I suggest that you primary focus when building a kit is the specific Natural and Man-Made disasters that you may encounter in your specific setting by making a basic Risk Assessment.


Checklist

Clothing
[ ] Long sleeve base layer shirt (I recommend Merino Wool)
[ ] Short sleeve base layer shirt
[ ] Change of underwear
[ ] Hat or Watch cap
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Buff, Scarf or Shemag
[ ] Shell Jacket (Waterproof and Wind Proof)
[ ] Warm long sleeve shirt
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants
[ ] Poncho, Rain Clothing, Bivi-Poncho, Bivanorak or Fjellduk
[ ] Hiking Boots
[ ] 2 pair of Extra socks
[ ] Watch with a button compass on the wrist band

Backpack
[ ] Backpack
[ ] Waterproof Dry Sacks or Waterproof Backpack Cover

Shelter
[ ] Sleeping bag, Sleeping bag liners helps to extend the lifetime of your sleeping bag
[ ] Sleeping mattress, Hammock or Hennessy Hammock
[ ] Tarp, Tent, Bivanorak, Fjellduk or Bivi-Bag

Light
[ ] Flashlight or/and Headlamp (LED)
[ ] Extra batteries (Lithium)

Fire
[ ] Matches in Waterproof Container
[ ] Lighter
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Tinder

Survival Knives
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife
[ ] Back Up Knife: examples could be a Folding Knife, Compact Fixed Blade Knife, Multi Tool or Swiss Army Knife
[ ] Sharpener

Pocket Survival Kit
[ ] Matches
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Button Compass
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Whistle
[ ] Candle
[ ] Compact LED lamp
[ ] Compact Knife or Razor Blade
[ ] Fishing kit
[ ] Pencil
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Painkillers
[ ] Anti Diarrhea Tablets
[ ] Antihistamines
[ ] Antibiotics
[ ] Condom or Alok Sak

Water
[ ] One or Two Water Bottles (Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Camelback or SIGG)
[ ] Water Bladder for your backpack; Camelback, Nalgene or similar system.
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Water Purification Filter

Food
[ ] Freeze Dried Rations or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE:s). Minimum 6 meals for 72 hours
[ ] Powerbars, Flapjack, Beef jerky, Trail mix or other snacks
[ ] Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Powdered milk
[ ] Salt and Pepper

[ ] Stove: Multi Fuel Stove, Kelly Kettle, Trangia, Ebsit, Optimus Crux Lite or Jetboil
[ ] Fuel for your Stove
[ ] Cooking Vessels
[ ] Spork (Or Knife, Fork and Spoon)
[ ] Cup and Plate
[ ] Steel Wool, Mop and Washing Up Liquid (I recommend Fairy)
[ ] P-38 Can Opener

[ ] Map
[ ] Waterproof container for map
[ ] Compass
[ ] Cash or Gold/Silver
[ ] Passport and Immunization Record Card
[ ] Notebook and Pen
[ ] Kwikpoint

Hygiene
[ ] Roll of Toilet Paper (in waterproof bag)
[ ] Soap
[ ] Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Dental Floss
[ ] Razor
[ ] Hand Disinfection
[ ] Insect Repellant
[ ] Sun Block or Skin Care Lotion

[ ] 550 Paracord
[ ] First Aid Kit
[ ] Blister Kit
[ ] Sunglasses
Author: Westfalia
Posted: June 24, 2012, 1:34 pm
On the 30th of March 2012 the Expert Group for Environmental Studies, a group attached to the Swedish Government presented the report “Peak Oil – An Economical Analysis”. The report is one of the most critical reports released so far and presents the perspective that the theory of Peak Oil is wrong and that it is not built upon a scientific basis.  In an article in a Swedish Newspaper the main author of the report Øystein Noreng argues that the theory of Peak Oil creates confusion and that the idea can lead to political decisions that can harm society.



Looking back

During the last 150 year human civilization has gone through an unprecedented development. The World population has from around 2 billion people to a level of 7 billion people in 2012 and is expected to rise to a level of around 10 billion in 2050. During this period of time fossil fuels has become a major part of providing the energy required to power the process of industrialization. The era started with the drilling of the first oil well by Colonel James Drake in 1859; in 1876 the US produced around 10 million barrels of oil – per year. In the beginning most of the oil was used for kerosene but oil was gradually starting to replace coal as a fuel to power ships since its much higher energy content allowed for greater range and speed. And with the introduction of the automobile the consumption increased sharply; In 1902 there was just over 20000 automobiles in the United States; a number that increased to over 1 million by the end of the First World War and today there is over 250 million passenger vehicles in the United States.



For a long period of time the United States was the world leading oil producer. At the time of the second World War the US produced around 4 million barrels of oil per day (mb/d) and the oil production continued to increase up until the 1970 when the US produced 9,5 mb/d per day, from that point the US production level has started to decrease; today the domestic US production is around 5,5 mb/d (US EIA). In order to cope with the loss of production the solution has been to import oil from other countries; in 1998 for the first time in history the US imported half of the oil it uses. This is not however not unique for the United States; in 1992 the oil imports to China became bigger than the domestic production.



Drill Baby Drill

One argument that is often presented is that exploration within the US has been stalled by environmental considerations and policies that have prevented the production of oil to increase. Some aspects can be interesting to look closer at; the World’s 20 largest oil fields currently produce around 19 million barrels of oil per day, or around 25% of the world’s total production. The majority of these fields where discovered before 1970, none of these field was discovered after 1985. In other words; most of them was discovered around the second half of the last century, and this is despite the technological advancement that has been made in this field.



So why isn’t the US Government doing anything about the situation? Why isn’t prospecting increasing in order to break the cycle and make the US energy independent? One problem here is that the numbers is rarely debated in the media. Saudi Arabia is the world largest Oil producer; in 2010 the country produced around 10 million barrels of oil per day, as previous discussed The United States produced around 5,5 million barrels per day. This clearly gives an indicator that the Saudis almost produce twice the amount oil per day compared to the US, but this is not where the story gets interesting.  In order to achieve this oil the Saudis have 2900 producing wells. The United States need 370.000 wells in order to produce half the amount of the Saudis. The Saudis employ just fewer than 100.000 people in the oil and gas sector; the United States over 2 million (IEA 2011: 139).



The drilling off shore has become a major part of the US oil production; the technology today makes it possible to reach enormous depths in order to extract oil; other technologies like hydraulic fracturing has also started being used but even this has not allowed the US to become energy independent. That there are also risks to operating under such extreme conditions became clear after the Deep Water Horizon incident in the Mexican Gulf and in the case of hydraulic fracturing there are concerns surrounding the possible effects on ground water and the amount of water required for the process.



Changing Perceptions

The Idea of Growth is of the most well rotted ideas in our modern society. We are constantly informed about the development in the stock market, the profits of corporations and the development of the Gross Domestic Product of different countries. And we expect them to increase; year after year. This has been the normal state for the last 150 years; all people how have lived through this time has experienced an unprecedented development. The idea of Growth is a fundamental part of all current political and economical institutions.  It’s a central idea preached by capitalists, socialists and even within the Green Movement. The thing that the idea of Growth does not take into consideration is however that there might be physical limitations to Growth in the form of Oil, Coal, Gas, Minerals, Fresh Water, Land, Forests and other resources.



The International Energy Agency (IEA) is one of the world’s leading organizations that have been producing forecasts for the entire energy sector since 1998 in the report series World Energy Outlook. The Outlook for oil in 2000 indicated that in the year 2020 the world would consume 115 mb/d of oil. Up until the year 2010 the IEA indicated that the production of Crude Oil would continue to increase until at least 2030. But in 2010 something changed. The IEA produced a new forecast where it concluded that the production of Crude Oil most likely peaked in 2006 with a production of around 70mb/d (IEA 2010: 125). The IEA does however believe that production will remain on a level of just under 70 mb/d until 2035 and that the production of non conventional oil sources and bio fuels will increase so that the total amount of production will increase from 85,7mb/d to 107,1 mb/d in 2035. The IEA standpoint that we have already reached the peak in crude oil production was a very sharp turn from the previous outlooks. The US Energy Information Administration (US EIA) makes a very different assessment; in the latest outlook the US EIA believes that production of Crude Oil will continue to increase until 2035 with more than 12 extra million barrels per day adding up to a level of 112 mb/d compared to the IEA prediction of 107,1 mb/d in 2035 (US EIA 2011: 26).



The IEA lifts other interesting aspect as well; those fields that produced 69 mb/d of crude oil in 2010 in expected to decrease in their production to a level of 22mb/d in 2035. The level of production is however expected to remain of a level of just under 70mb/d from Crude Oil yet to be developed and yet to be found. This new expected findings would have to be more than four times larger than the production of Saudi Arabia; any so far only one Saudi Arabia has been discovered.




Bending the Map

In the book "Deep Survival" Laurence Gonzales discuss what happens to people how get lost in the wild. Lawrence argue that getting lost is something anyone can do; no matter how well trained or experienced you are; it’s very easy going from being having a nice time in the outdoors to being a victim struggling to survive. When reality does not match the mental map we have of our surroundings it very easy to continue ahead like we still know where we are going; in orienteering this is called bending the map. “You’re trying to make to make reality conform to your expectations rather than to see what is really there” (Gonzales 2003: 158-163).




The expectations we have today created from 150 years of continual growth makes it very easy to believe that what we can expect from the future will be even more growth. The reserves in Saudi Arabia and many other OPEC countries is an issue that is often debated. After the nationalization of the oil production in Saudi Arabia and the low oil price in the 1980:s many Saudi Arabia raised their reported reserves significantly; from 107,9 billion barrels to over 260 billion barrels in 1988. And the reported reserves in have remained the same; even after 24 years of production. The IEA expects the production is Saudi Arabia to increase to 15 mb/d in 2035. If this will happen or not is impossible to answer. But in 2010 a diplomatic cable from the embassy in Riyadh discussed and interview with Dr Sadad al-Husseini the former Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production is Aramco. Al-Husseini reported that he believes that the reserves are exaggerated by around 40% and that Saudi Arabia will reach a maximum production level of 12 mb/d and then start to decline in production somewhere around 2020 (WikiLeaks 2010).




The Situation Today

The United States has twice as many cars per persons compared to Western Europe. The infrastructure is also more focused on the cars as a means of transport leaving many with no alternative to using a car. The Gas Prices are currently around 4 dollars per Gallon in the US; one of the highest levels in history. The US prices are still around half the price compared to many countries in Europe where the price is over 8 dollars a Gallon since the US taxes on fuels are comparatively low. Since so many Americans are dependent upon a motor vehicle for transportation the US is very vulnerable if the access to oil will decrease and if the prices will continue to rise. Higher oil prices might also affect other prices like food prices. Many argue that we will find technological solutions for the problems we face and an increase in price will drive the advancement of alternatives. If this will be the case or not I do not know and I will not pretend that I do. To me it’s clear that our expectations of growth are shaping the way the people of the world and its institutions are looking at the world. It’s also clear that the perception of institutions like the IEA gradually has started to shift while other institutions like the United States Energy Information Administration still has the same perception that the IEA had a few years ago. How that is right and how that is wrong only time can tell.



If the Peak becomes Reality

The lack of discussion of the subject is the largest problem in my opinion in combination with the idea of infinite Growth. Many discuss the access to oil like it will be there or it will not be there. If a Peak in the World Production of Oil is reached it does not mean that all oil will suddenly be gone; but it will mean that the total production will start to decline over time; making it a process and not an event. One can only speculate concerning the effects of such an outcome but this would mean that we would be going from a Paradigm of constant Growth to a Paradigm when we will have less and less of a commodity that we have gotten use to having widely available. Some possible effects could include;




·         If it becomes clear to nations that things are changing its possible that we will see an increased level of nationalization of the oil production in order to gain control over the oil production making it hard for countries how depend upon import of fuels to gain the access to this oil on the international market.



·         The Prices of Oil might continue to rise to unprecedented levels and we might also start to see shortages meaning that there oil will not be available in the same quantity that we have been used to.



·         Rationing of oil and fuels and other measures like reducing the speed limits



·         It’s also possible that this will have a major impact on the relations between nations leading to conflict over the resources available. It’s also possible that states where oil revenues has been a major source of income might experience social unrest, internal conflict or even state collapse if oil revenues start to decline; the Arabian Spring can be seen as a case of this development.


Conclusion

All major political parties and modern economical institutions are focused on the notion of economical growth. The forecasts regarding the availability concerning oil have for a long time had a very positive outlook. In the year 2000 it was believed that we would reach a level of 120mb/d by 2020, today some institutions believe that we will reach a level of around 107mb/d by 2035 and that the Global Peak in the production of Crude Oil already has been reached and that we will face a permanent decline while other fuels made from Coal, Gas and Unconventional Oil will continue to increase.



Peak Oil has for a long time been a subject that has not been widely discussed by political parties and international institutions; the report produced by the Swedish Expert for Environmental Studies presents a new shift directly attacking the theory and the researchers that presents it. The author of the report and well known economist presents a quite well written report focusing on the markets dynamics and the technological development as tools that will solve the problems we encounter. What the future outcome will be is impossible for me to answer; but one thing that can be seen throughout history is that experts that have been working in an old paradigm often have a very hard time adjusting when paradigms shift since the knowledge and rules from the old paradigm does not apply to the new paradigm. It’s also clear that IEA was unable to predict the Peak of Crude Oil and that it took several years after the Peak for them to realize that something had changed. In this case it seems like the IEA was “bending the map”.

Other articles:
Peak Oil and our Mental Models – The WikiLeaks Cable and the World’s Largest Oilfields
Author: Westfalia
Posted: April 1, 2012, 11:31 am
So after an extended period of writing The Free Online Survival Guide I would like to present my suggested Framework for Preparedness: The Westfalian Risk Management Model. The aim of the Framework is to provide tools for individuals to access their own situation and take measures that make sense for their individual situation and setting.

The First Part of the model regards two aspects; (1) analyzing your own particular situation and understanding what type of Risks that you face in your particular setting. (2) The Second Part is to know yourself and what resources you have available both in the form of equipment and supplies but also to understand your financial situation. (3) The Third Part is to analyze your weak points and establish what Goals that you would like to reach and how to reach them.


Part One: Understanding Your Situation
The Risk Assessment
The First Part of the Framework is intended for help you to establish what type of Risks that you face. A tool that is often used by organizations that work with Crisis Management is Risk Assessments. A Risk Assessment is a structured tool to analyze the specific Risks you faced depending on the Probability and Consequences of specific Risks. Also keep in mind that most Risks can have a large variation; most Earthquakes can only be detected by electronic instruments but some can cause enormous devastation.

The Process
1.) Identify Potential Risks
2.) Try to establish the Consequence and Probability of the Identified Risks
3.) Based on the Probability and Consequences of the calculate the Risk Factor

When you try to establish the potential consequences of Risks I suggest that you try to look at what type of impact they can have in form of Causalities; disruption or destruction of Infrastructure, Economic Impact and Other Type of Effects. For more on the effects of disasters see the article Analyzing Risks. I suggested that you don’t stare yourself blind on the specific Risk Factor of certain potential Risks; A Risk Assessment is a tool to give you a basic understanding of the potential Risks; it’s an Assessment and the reality you later face may not correspond very well with this Assessment. It’s also important to keep in mind that even when it comes to “experts” they often make very different Assessments when it comes to the potential Consequences and Probability of different Risks.

Blind Spots and Ignored Risks
A Risk Assessment gives a clear picture of how you perceive your situation and the Risks you face. Another critical aspect that is rarely discussed by Organizations within the Crisis Management Community is what risks that is not included in the Assessment or what Risks that is Ignored. Two common examples of Risks that is highly debated are Peak Oil and Man-Made Global Warming; accepted as a threat by some and ignored by others. A factor for both these Risks are that they doesn’t correspond very well with the way most economical and political institutions perceive our world and the ideal of economical growth. Other types of Risks that can fall outside Risk Assessments are Wars between Democratic Nations or Long Term Shortages of Natural Resources. The Important Aspect is that you think about your own perception of the world and what Risks that you ignore or believe are very unlikely.

The Point is that a Risk Assessment can be a valuable tool; but the events that have the highest impact tend to be Risks that falls outside what we perceive as normal. You should try to understand your own assumptions and what they are based upon. If you have the opportunity I suggest that you read the Risk Assessment made by your local or regional Crisis Management agency and keep this in mind; what type of Scenarios do they prepare for and what Scenarios don’t they prepare for?

Black Swans
There are major events taking place that has an enormous impact that is not predicated by anyone. These large deviations from the “normal” development is often called “Black Swans” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb how introduced the concept. These events can have disastrous effects like the Terrorist Attacks on 9/11 2001 but also a positive effect like the invention of the Internet. This is a very long and complicated subject and I highly recommend Talebs book on the subject; but the point is: events that have enormous consequences takes place all the time, and no one is able to predict them. There are Risks that you can know that you ignore; but there are also potential Risks that you don’t know is there.

Your Setting
A Risk Assessment identifies some of the potential Risks that you face but it is also critical to link these Risks to your specific situation. If you live in a location where the temperatures during the winter can drop to very low levels it’s critical that you can cope with these temperatures if a natural or man-made disrupts the systems you depend upon for heat, If you live in a desert city that is dependent on water that is transported long distances it’s important that you can stay cool and that you need water storage that reflects this reality etc. Other factors like your housing situation and if you live a rural or urban setting are also important. Analyze your own situation and adapt accordingly; all settings produce their own specific opportunities and challenges; a SWOT analysis can be a good tool to get a better overview of your situation.


Part Two - Your Own Capacity
Know Yourself
Knowing the Potential Risks You Face is an important aspect of preparedness but understanding your own capacity to deal with this type of situations is equally important. As a Framework to analyze your own capacity I suggest that you focus on three personal aspects; (1) your own Knowledge, health and physical fitness, (2) a deeper look at your economical and financial situation and (3) what equipment and supplies that you have available.

Individual Aspects
Preparedness starts with You. You can have the most expensive equipment available in the world; if you lack the knowledge and skill required to use the equipment is of little use. Your knowledge, skills and experience, health and physical fitness allows you to use equipment, improvise and utilize its full potential.

Knowledge is everything you ever learned; from history, to languages, mathematics, how different types of natural disasters work; symptoms of various diseases, how one navigates, knowing your local terrain etc. What type of proffesions do you know? What type of formal and informal training do you have? Start with listing what type of knowledge that you posses. During this process you will also discover something else; what you don’t know.

Skills and Experience are similar to knowledge; but often knowing how something should be done does not mean that you actually can do it. This is the case of everything from first aid, to building a fire, orienteering, swimming, driving a car etc. What types of skills do you posses and what type of relevant experience do you have that can help you deal with a Crisis or Survival Situation?

You’re Health and Physical Fitness is important for several reasons; having the strength required to carry a person or lift a heavy object can mean the difference between life and death; so can having the required endurance to walk to safety. But this aspect is also important during your everyday life; exercise reduces stress; makes you more alert and reduce the chance of contracting diseases like diabetes or having a heart attack. This area also includes other aspects like having the right immunization and a good dental health. I suggest that you start with visiting a doctor and dentist for a check-up to get a better understanding of your current situation. Health and Physical Fitness is also a long term investment that is very important since people today live longer and longer lives and thereby also has to be able to make a livelihood and work a longer period of time.

Some other question that you can ask yourself
• What is your Body Mass Index based on your Height and Weight?
• How often do you exercise?
• What is the longest distance you have ever walked?
• How long could you Swim if you had to?
• How is your Dental health?
• Do you feel Healthy?
• Do you feel Happy and what type of activities make you the most Happy?


Economical Situation
One aspect that is often not discussed when it comes to Preparedness is a person’s economical situation. Having a solid economical situation can give the person the means that a person both has a better chance of adjusting to a changing situation but this also puts up limits to what kind of equipment, housing solutions, training and housing that can be afforded. It is quite clear that disasters does not affect all people equally; people with a high income normally has safer housing that can withstand natural disasters, has better access to education, information and the ability to leave if necessary. I suggest that you start with analyzing your economical situation in-depth; what sources of income do you have? Is there any commodity that you produce for your own needs like growing food; generating energy through solar panels etc? The second part of your analyze should cover your expenses; how much do you pay for your housing, electricity, heating, gas, telephone, internet access, insurances? How much is your expenses for food each month? Do you have any kind of savings and how much? Do you have any kind of debt and how big is it?

• Income
• Fixed expenses; Rent, Electricity, Gas, Cars, Mortgages, Food, Water etc
• Other expenses; entertainment, magazines, snacks etc
• Savings
• Loans and Debt

Equipment and Supplies
Having the right equipment can often help you during different types of Crisis and Survival Situations; but there is often a tendency to have very strong focus on this area and not putting much focus on other aspects of preparedness. I would suggest that you start with making an inventory list of what equipment that you have today. This can be an easy task for some but might be a much harder task for others. When doing so I suggest that you try to organize the Equipment into different categories such as

Water and Water Purification
Food
• Cooking
Light
• Clothing and Footwear
• Sanitation and Hygiene
• Heating and Energy
• Communication
• First Aid and Medical Supplies
• Tools

Part Three - Establishing Goals and the Way Forward
When you have completed the first two steps you have a basic understanding both of the Risks that you face but also what type of tools that you have to cope with these Risks. From here it’s time to establish your personal Goals and how you’re planning to achieve them. I suggest that you start with establishing what your weak points are and what areas that is the most important for you. From you can construct a Plan for how to deal with these weaknesses.

One good point to start is to analyze how long you can support yourself in various areas; how much water to you have available? How long can your food storage support you? How long can you maintain your current expenses if you would lose your job? How much supplies do have available in the form of toilet paper, washing up liquid, washing powder, fuel and other necessities? Asking yourself this type of question can help you to establish how long you can endure different type of scenarios without external assistance and help you to balance your preparations.

After you established your Goals it’s important that you approach these Goals from a realistic perspective. If you for example would like to pay of large debts or go from being relatively unfit to a having a very high physical fitness it’s important to understand that this will take time and an effort. Getting from one point to another is a process. By dividing your analysis of your situation into different categories it’s relatively easy to see where your strong and weak points are. The point of this is also to establish balance and avoid that you put all you effort into one category like stockpiling supplies. As an example having a year’s supply of food is not going to help you in a long term emergency if you only have enough water available to make it three days or if you deplete all you’re saving so that you can’t make it a single month if you become unemployed.

Interim Goals
One method that is often used in project management is to establish interim goals in order to break down a larger task into more manageable components. For example if you have the goal of creating a food storage for one year you can break down this task into multiple steps and progress with task over time instead of buying all the supplies at once. This is often a good method since it will help you to discover what works best for you as you progress with task, no matter if it’s about figuring out what type of exercise that works best for you, what food you should store and how or to create savings.

End
Creating your plan should not only be an aspect for crisis and survival situations; it’s also about how you want to live your life. It seems to be more and more common that individuals spend all their time, resources and energy on prepping; having the ability to cope with a Crisis Situation is an important aspect that can mean the difference between life and death. The aim of this model is to help individuals get a balanced situation to help them prepare for a various forms of threats and problems; not to center their lives on preparedness.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: March 12, 2012, 5:48 pm
WikiLeaks has been one of the most controversial organizations in the world during the last year. The site has published a long number of controversial documents over the years including
• The Climate Gate E-Mails concerning the subject of Global Warming
• The Afghan War Diaries
• Secret Files from Guantanamo Bay
• The Cablegate with the publishing of secret US Diplomatic Cables

Today WikiLeaks has released around 200-emails from the Private Security Firm Stratfor. In the end of the last year Stratfor was hacked by a group that is believed to be Anonymous; in the initial media reports the event was described largely as an attempt to steal credit card numbers but it has become clear that 5 million e-mails from the company also were obtained. Today WikiLeaks made the announcement that they will start publishing some of the e-mails in cooperation with a number of different newspapers including The Rolling Stone and The Sunday Star Times.

There has been an enormous controversy surrounding WikiLeaks and its founder this year; Julian Assange is currently in Great Britain awaiting a possible extradition to Sweden for two alleged cases of Rape and Bradley Manning how is believed to have leaked information to WikiLeaks is currently being court marshaled after being under military custody since May 2010 when he was arrested in Iraq. Assange has been portrayed as terrorist by some and as a hero by others.

Iran’s Nuclear Program
One of the hottest subjects during the last period of time has been Iran’s nuclear program. It’s believed by some that Iran’s program that the country is claiming is an attempt to create a civilian program for nuclear power may also be an attempt of constructing nuclear bombs. The European Union has decided to impose sanctions against Iran and stop oil imports from Iran.

Iran currently exports just over 2 million barrels of oil per day of the around 4 mb/d they produce per day (World Energy Outlook 2011: p 134-135). Iran’s Oil Production Peak around 1970 with a production of over 5 million barrels per day and the country still has 10% of the world reported oil reserves. From this perspective Iran’s effort to invest in nuclear power seems natural since it will allow the country to export more of its declining oil production instead of using it to produce electricity for their own population. The Iranian production of electricity does not provide enough power for entire nation; it is currently estimated that 25% of the villages in Iran lack the access to electricity.

In the media there has been steady reports concerning the situation and fears that Israel might launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear program like it did against the Iraqi Osirak Reactor in 1981 and as it did in 2007 against a facility in Syria. In the recent e-mails from WikiLeaks a surprising series of e-mails has emerged.

Israeli Attacks against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?
The discussion in the media has largely circulated against the Israeli capability to carry out an airstrike against the facilities in Iran but today information has become available that suggest that attacks against facilities in Iran might already have taken place. In a series of e-mails an alleged Israeli source has provided information that suggested that

Source below was asked to clarify his remarks that the nuclear
infrastructure had been destroyed. Source response:

Israeli commandos in collaboration with Kurd forces destroyed
few underground facilities mainly used for the Iranian defense
and nuclear research projects.”
This statement can also be linked to a number of media reports; a report from BBC the 12th of November 2011 shows a satellite picture where extensive damage to buildings being explained as an explosion in an ammunition depot by officials from Iran killing 17 soldiers. In the e-mails from Stratfor the discussion regarding the implications of this information continues:

In the open media many are pushing and expecting Israel to
launch a massive attack on Iran. Even if the Israelis have the
capabilities and are ready to attack by air, sea and land, there
is no need to attack the nuclear program at this point after the
commandos destroyed a significant part of it.”
According to the e-mails the source was also asked regarding if he believed that Israel was planning a military attack against Iran and the answer was

"Source was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis
were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response:

I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed
all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks
ago. The current "let's bomb Iran" campaign was ordered by the
EU leaders to divert the public attention from their at home
financial problems. It plays also well for the US since
Pakistan, Russia and N. Korea are mentioned in the report."
The information in this series of e-mails is very interesting and raises a number of questions
• Has Iran’s Nuclear Program been damaged or destroyed by Israeli forces?
• How can it be that a non state actor can get their hands on this type of Intelligence from personnel working within state Intelligence Agencies?
• What type of implication will there be now when this information has become public?

Conclusion
It’s very hard to assess if the new information provided by WikiLeaks is real. It’s also hard to know if the source that was discussed in these e-mails were actually telling the truth. But some the information provided in the e-mails match other data and news reports adding to the credibility that it is. In my opinion this type of information is controversial since it causes trouble for public and private actors around the world; but it also provides the public and media with a rare opportunity to get insights into what might be going on behind the scene. Weapons of Mass Destruction are a very sensitive subject and were one of the main arguments supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The other trend with the Privatization of Security in the form of Private Military Companies (PMC) and Private Security Companies (PSC) is a very important trend that is not often discussed in the media. In this case the leakage of information seems to have occurred twice; first from someone working within the Israeli Intelligence Community to the private company Stratfor and later from the hacking of Stratfor.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 one of the criticisms was that the American Intelligence Agencies did not share enough information; the many report published by WikiLeaks show that opening up this type of systems can make them very vulnerable when individuals and group can get their hands on this information and make it public. It also raises the subject concerning how often this happens but never becomes public.

Also see:
Peak Oil and Our Mental Models - The WikiLeaks Cable and the Worlds Largest Oil Fields
Author: Westfalia
Posted: February 27, 2012, 10:15 pm
Within the Preppers and Survivalist Bug Out Bags (BOB) and Evacuations is a common subject that is often discussed. Different types of natural disasters like Wild Fires and Hurricanes may force people to leave their homes in order to avoid death or injury. But there are also Man-Made threats that may force people to leave their homes like Wars, Civil Wars and failing technical systems like a Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown.

Long Term Displacement
Wars have often always been a major factor forcing people to leave their homes. During the Second World War many fled the affected areas in order to avoid the fighting, bombings and occupation forces. After the end of the World War over one million people were displaced. The process to rebuild destroyed housing and infrastructure would take a very long time.

During modern civil wars and collapsed states it’s not uncommon that more than half of the entire population is displaced either within the affected country or forced to flee to other countries. The violence during civil wars often involve systematic attacks against the civilian populations in forms of artillery attacks, snipers, torture, systematic sexual violence, torture, amputating limbs, forced castrations and other abuses making the level of terror extremely high. Its often common that specific groups becomes target through ethnic cleansing; its can often be very hard for these groups to return after the conflicts end; this has been the case for different groups on the Balkan and for Palestinian refugees. The lack of state institutions and dysfunctional political leadership in collapsed states makes these settings very problematic and the road to recovery is often very long.

People do not only move when there forced; many also try to move to other countries to get away from poverty and in order to get better opportunities. This has been the case many times throughout history and is still the case today. There are also other more disturbing trends like the Trafficking of People and Slavery attached to this problem; vulnerable people after conflicts may often end up being the victims of this type of activities.

Many talk about Bug Out Bags like a tool intended to support you for 72 hours; if your forced to leave your home it might be for good. Your home may not be there when you return or other conditions may make it impossible to return. Survival for most people more than knowing how to build a fire, navigate, build a shelter, purify water and signal for help. For most people making through everyday life is about having a job and being able to have an income.

Livelihoods and an Education
Knowledge, Skills and Experience are things that are always with you. If you are ever displaced being able to find a work in a different location or country can become much more important than having traditional survival related skills. An education is a valuable tool for many reasons;

• It means that you have some kind of specialized knowledge that everyone does not have.

• Many jobs like Doctors, Nurses, Dentists and Engineers are needed everywhere and the chances of finding a job are often high.

• You get the opportunity to get to know a lot of people and expend your social network; this can be just as important as the education itself during your life.

• You get learn how to work through and analyze large quantities of information, source criticism and methodology.

Different professions have a different status over the world but some are needed no matter what. Having an education or specialized profession does not only provide a form of security in your everyday life; for many that been forced to leave their homes it has provided an opportunity to start over. I suggest that no matter what your profession is that you try to expand your knowledge and get specialized knowledge related to this field. Unskilled jobs can be hard to find and the salary can often be very low.

Language Barriers and Discrimination is problems that can often face refugees and immigrants in their new settings. Discrimination can make it hard to find a job but also cause other problems like harassments and problems with law enforcement, institutions and other officials. Learning how to speak different languages can help you to minimize these problems but also make it possible for you to practice your profession in other settings. People how are forced to flee to other nations often find themselves in a long process before they are given a citizenship and may also have to cope with other challenges like physical and emotional trauma while adjusting to a new unfamiliar setting.

Never Stop Learning
Gaining knowledge, skills and experience is a constantly ongoing process. No one knows everything; we always have new things to learn. If you have the opportunity to get an education I suggest that you take the chance. Getting an education is a privilege; don’t waste the chance if you get it. For most people there are several ways to gain new knowledge; taking evening courses; joining different organizations; studying on your own or utilizing opportunities provided by your work.

If there is professions that you would like to learn don’t let anything stop you. It’s often common that the people around us may have expectations or strong opinions regarding what ways that we should walk. Find your own way and follow it.

Conclusion
Many Survivalist and Preppers approach the subject or evacuations or “Bugging Out” from a perspective that it is a tool intended to provide you with what you need to make it through the first time after a disaster. There is also a tendency to focus heavily on equipment such as Bug Out Bags (BOB), Survival Knives, Lights, Pocket Survival Kits, Every Day Carry (EDC), Get Home Bags (GHB) and stockpiling equipment. Having the right equipment can be critical in many situations; but having the knowledge, skills, experience and physical fitness required to utilize this resources is just as important. Equipment and physical possessions can be lost in a matter of seconds from natural disasters or a fire. The knowledge, skills and experience that you have is something that you always carry with you. Survivors can find themselves in a situation when their home, their saving and their old jobs have been lost; being forced to travel to other regions or even other nations in order to find safety. Millions of people all around the world have been forced to take this step throughout history; if you ever are forced to make this transition a Bug Out Bag can be valuable tool; but having an education or a specialized profession can be much more important.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: February 19, 2012, 9:37 pm
For Many Survivalist and Preppers fictional stories are an important part of preparing for potential disasters; this article will take a quick look at these stories and suggest an alternative approach.

The End Of The World As We Know It
The World as We Know it is about to come to an end. The true reason for this can vary (economical, political, terrorism, Peak Oil, EMP etc) but the imagined end is the same. The End will come fast, very fast. It’s likely that we will experience and enormous amount of civil disturbance and violence. Everything that we have become accustomed too is likely to disappear. The Question is not if this will happen. The question is When it will happen. The signs are all around us. The state of the economy, Peak Oil, Global Warming, International Tensions, Terrorism and much more. The World System is like a House of Cards, it will only take a push and it will all come crashing down.

It’s important to stockpile food, water, weapons and ammunition. Those how haven’t will try to take what they need from those how have prepared. These “Raiders” will attack everything and everyone. Therefore it’s critical to maintain what you have an absolute secret. This is often referred to as OPSEC; if no one knows what you have they can’t steal it.

This type of Storytelling that we can see within the Prepper and Survivalist is not something that is shared by everyone, but it is relatively common. This type of stories is represented in fictional literature like James Wesley Rawles book “Patriots” and William Forstchens “One Second After” but can also be found in Hollywood movies. There are some common parts; The Belief that The World As We Know It Will Come To An End, That it will take place soon and That it can’t be stopped.

Risk Oriented Preparedness
All people face different types of Risks and Threats depending on their location. This is both affected by the Geographical location that affects what type of Natural Disasters like Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes and Tornadoes that might affect the individual. But the location is also critical for other type of potential hazards related to human activities like Human Conflict, Terrorism and Failing Technical Systems.

A Risk Assessment is a structured tool to help you create a good understanding of Risks you face but it can also create a situation of false security. It’s important that you also understand what type of events that you don’t regard as threats and why you don’t believe that this type of events poses a threat. It’s also important to realize that everyone has Blind Spots; Potential Risks that we are unaware of. There are also events that are not anticipated by almost anyone; these types of events are often referred to as Black Swans after the concept introduced by Taleb Nassim.

Building Your Capacity To Deal With Emergencies
Having the ability to Cope with Disasters not only as possessing the right tools but also having the experience and skills required to utilize these resources. Here Knowledge, Skills and Experience and Physical Fitness and Health are variables that can be more valuable than the equipment you own. Without training and skills a First Aid Kit is of little use and the same goes for all type of equipment – it can make a difference but you must be able to utilize this resource. Other Critical Factors are also External Factors like your Family, Social Network and other type of resources like First Responders that may assist you during an Emergency.


The World is Changing
The World is not a static place, the World is constantly changing and individuals are constantly changing as well. In a Risk Oriented Preparedness it is important to adapt to the changes both in your personal life but also when it comes to the situation around you. People get older, may change their location, their family situation can change and new political, economical and environmental challenges can appear. So instead of viewing the problem as a linear problem where you first make a analysis and then take action I suggest that you approach the subject from a cyclical perspective where you will always have to adapt to the ongoing reality. The same goes for skills, in order to maintain skills repeated training is required. Focus on potential disasters for what they truly are. Instead of approaching the subject from a One Size Fits all point of view where stockpiling supplies prepares you for every possible scenario actually analyze threats and risks for their specific consequences.



Two Approaches: An Analysis
There many examples throughout history when civilizations have Collapsed. There are also many contemporary examples when States have either Collapsed or Failed or various levels; Afghanistan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, The Conflict in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are some examples. But these examples do not necessary follow the storyline imagined in fictional novels.

Many reason that if they are prepared for the absolutely worst they are also prepared for less extensive disasters like Earthquakes or Hurricanes. The Problem here is that every disaster is specific in its origin and consequences. Have a year’s worth of food do not necessary prepare you for an Earthquake; in order to prepare for this type of scenario training in First Aid, having the right Insurance and choosing a building and location that has the proper resistance may be much more important.

Disaster Preparedness is big business today. Many companies make large profits selling everything from food to flashlights, survival kits and ready to go Bug Out Bags. For many bloggers and writers making the worst predictions is a way of getting the most attention. What I want to raise in this article is that preparedness should not simply be bases upon fictional fear driven stories. You should make efforts that make sense for your personal situation and setting.

One critical factor is that the Storytelling does not welcome the idea of working together with others in the name of OPSEC. This a personal choose for everyone must make, but I personally see it as problem if people disregard the idea of working together with others based upon a fictional idea. Another critical factor is that some individuals use the SHTF / TEOTWAWKI as a Mental Model, taking any information that indicates a negative development and believes that it indicates that end is near.

In this article I have criticized some of Storytelling that often can be seen within the Survivalist and Prepper Movement. This does not mean that I do not recommend people to Prepare for Potential Disasters or Crisis Situations. The aim of The Free Online Survival Guide is to provide readers with resources so that they may enhance their own ability to deal with Crisis Situations and Disasters. This article is intended to move the Focus from the Fictional Stories that motivates many to a Perspective when you put Your own Situation, Your Own Needs and Your own Analysis in Focus.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: January 27, 2012, 12:05 am
Two of the most popular acronyms within the Prepper and Survivalist Community are SHTF (Shit Hit The Fan) and TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). What these acronyms truly represent is a matter that varies heavily depending on how that does the classification. Some people can use SHTF as way to describe that they lost their job while other use it to describe a full scale breakdown of modern society. In this article I will take an alternative look at this subject and try to give some alternative suggestions concerning how one can approach and think about different type of Disasters and Risks. This article is also intended to be a complement to the article about Risk Assessments intended to provide a more comprehensive framework for assessing the potential impacts of various threats.

1.) The Scale
Disasters comes in all forms and sizes; from large scale natural disasters like Earthquakes that may affect tens thousands of people to smaller disasters like automobile accidents that may just involve a few people. A disaster may just involve a few persons a personal level, it may affect a local community, a region, an entire nation or it may affect the world on a global level.


2.) Consequences
Disasters may affect people in many kinds of ways; one of the obvious results is Casualties in the form of dead and wounded. Disasters can also affect the physical and mental health of those affected; and in many cases like the nuclear power plant meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima it can be very difficult to establish exactly what the long term effects for the affected will be.

Infrastructure is something that can often be affected resulting in a situation when roads, the electrical grid, gas pipes, electronic communications, water pipes and sewage maybe interrupted. This can be the case during wars and natural disasters but there are also other types of disasters like pandemics that may not affect infrastructure.

Property and Economical Loses is often a major problem when people can lose their homes, savings, businesses and jobs. People can get injured or disabled resulting in additional long term economical los.

Disasters often have Other direct consequences for politics especially in the form of blame games and assigning guilt. This can result in everything from political resignations, or new institutions like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

This is just a few examples of what type of consequences a disaster can have; all disasters are unique and have their own specific effects. The result of these effects is not only the disaster itself, it is also an effect by the of buildings in case of earthquakes, topography, what economical resources that is available, the resources and training of first responders and the population density of an affected area just to name a few possible factors.


3.) The Perspective of Time
Fast or Slow Onset
Disasters are often viewed as fast dramatic events like the Haiti Earthquake or The Nuclear attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is however not the case in all types of disasters, some disasters slowly gain momentum like Famine and Starvation. Two examples of other potential slow onset threats are Peak Oil and Global Warming. Other type of threats like Hurricanes can be detected days before they strike and thereby allowing an Early Warning.

The Duration
Some disasters like Earthquakes and Tsunamis can cause an enormous amount of damage during a very short period of time and then be over. Other type of disasters like Famine or an Economical Depression may last for months, years or even decades.

For individuals this aspect can indicate how much food or water storage that may appropriate for different disasters, for organizations that work with Crisis Management this can provide an insight into to what type of endurance the organization must be able to poses in order to manage emergencies with an extended duration including aspects like the rotation of man-power and how much supplies that must be available.

4.) The Origin of the Disasters: Man-Made or Natural Disasters
One very popular way to describe disasters is to split them into two categories; Man-Made and Natural Disasters. Natural Disasters involve all type of natural phenomena like Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Wild Fires, Hurricanes and Tornadoes. Man-Made disasters refer to events like Human Conflict, War, Terrorism and large scale accidents and failure of technical systems. This distinction between the origins is not perfect; many researchers emphasize that the Impact of Natural Disasters is a direct consequence of building standards, population density, access to Early Warning Systems to name a few factors. This is especially clear when it comes to number of dead in high-income countries and low income countries in various disasters. Natural Disasters can also trigger the failure of Man-Made systems like case of the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant Disaster.

Conclusion
This article is intended to provide some support for people how want to get a better understanding of Risks and Threats they may face. In this article I have discussed some of aspects of disasters but it’s important to understand that every disaster and risks presents its own specific challenges. One Size Does Not Fit All.

After you finished your Risk Assessment and Analyzed the specific Risks it’s also important to think about what Risks that you have not included into you assessments. A Risk Assessment can be of great help but it can also mask threats; especially those that does not correspond well to current trends and knowledge. What potential danger do you not view as Risks and Why? What information supports your assumptions and what information challenge them?

Also see
Risk Assessments
Author: Westfalia
Posted: January 18, 2012, 1:42 pm
I would like to wish all the people that have been reading my blog a Happy New Year! This year has been by far the most successful year since I started writing the blog with 10.000-17.500 hit per month. I would like to thank all the readers for your support and for sharing my blog through E-mail, Social Networks and on forums. A special thanks also goes out to The Survivalist Boards (SB) and the American Preppers Network (APN).

If you like the blog please vote for it at the site Survival Top 50, this is also a site where you can find many other survival related blogs and additional information.

It’s often popular to make prediction concerning what the New Year will bring; but I will try to refrain from this. I personally think that the previous Year has been very interesting with many developments like the Arabian Spring, The Occupy Wall Street Movement, The Current Economical Crisis in Europe and the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant Disaster. That Peak Oil is starting to get more and more attention is also an interesting development even if the US Energy Information Agency is not raising the subject. So to all of you out there; I wish you the best of luck with your preps and efforts for 2012.

Sibi Totique
Author: Westfalia
Posted: December 28, 2011, 5:17 pm
Bug Out Bags, Get Home Bags and Pocket Survival Kits is often focused on Natural Disasters and other types of severe Crisis Situations. An area that is often not discussed in the Prepper and Survivalist community is Travel Safety. Today a large number of people travel all over the world to meet new people and experience new places. The price of airline tickets are currently very low and even people on a low budget can afford to travel long distances. This article will address some of the measures you can take reduce risk while travelling. Travelling to areas where the comforts we are normally used to may not be available. This article will focus on travelling and what you can do to increase your own safety.

Context Matters
Just like with Bug Out Bags or Get Home Bags context matters when it comes to Travel Safety. The precautions you take must make sense for the journey you’re planning. If you are planning on a mountain expedition in an arctic region the measures taken will be very different from the measures you should take if you’re planning on going to large city for the holidays. Some of the factors that will affect what measures you should take:
• Are you going to an Urban or Wilderness Setting?
• What Kind of Activities Do You Plan To Engage In?
• How Long Are You Planning on Staying?
• Are You Travelling Alone or in a Group?
• Are you familiar with the Region your Traveling to?
• Can you Speak and Read The Local Language?

Making Your Research
In order to be able to take the right precautions it’s important that you know as much as possible about place you’re travelling to. I suggest that you start with researching the country’s political system and modern history
• What type of political system does country have? One good source for information is the site Freedom House that ranks countries depending on the Political Right and Civil Liberties. Also check the your State Departments Current Travel Warnings.
• Make a basic research on the History and Cultural of the country you’re travelling to. Are there any cultural taboos that you should be aware of?
• Are there specific hazards in the region like crime, armed conflict or natural disasters? Are there any specific regions or parts of cities that should be avoided?
• If you’re travelling to another country what has the relation between your country and this country been? Have there been any recent cases of internal conflict or terrorist attacks within the country or armed conflict with neighboring countries?
• Another good idea can be to check the current domestic development by reading news reports from the country and check the state department’s recommendations for travel to this country.
• Is the water generally safe to drink or should you be drinking bottled water?
• What type of climate and weather can you expect?

Many popular places for travel have political systems that are corrupt or they can be dictatorships. This is often not something that is noticed by tourists; but if you for some reason get involved in an accident or get charged with a crime this can become a very serious problem. There can also be political protests against regimes like during the Arabian Spring or in Thailand. Other countries may also be very hard against journalists other how try to report on the abuse from regimes. If you’re travelling to such a country make sure that you are aware about if there are any specific locations where the opposition normally meets or if they carry some type of clothing or other markers to show their support for the opposition. Knowing the geography of the place you’re going to can also be critical; what type of terrain can you expect; are there any specific landmarks etc. Today tools like Google Maps can provide a free service for making this type of research.

The Basic Precautions
Before we get into the Travel Safety Kit there are some basic safety measures that should always be taken. Do you
[ ] Have the proper insurance if you would get hurt during your trip?
[ ] Have some extra cash or money if you would get stuck in the country for an extended period of time, unexpected expenses would arise or if you would have to book a new ticket back home?
[ ] Have a good understanding of the country you’re going to and the risks you’re facing?
[ ] Have you made a general physical check-up lately to make sure that you are in good health?
[ ] Have you checked you dental health and taken care of any problems?
[ ] Checked if there is any specific diseases that may require immunizations in the region? For travel to some countries having the right immunizations and an immunization card to prove it is mandatory; make your research.

One of the most common problems for people is that a trip can turn out to be more expensive than anticipated or unexpected expenses may. Airplanes can get delayed or stopped because of severe weather or even natural disasters like volcanoes. Other more common problems can be that the airline misplaces your luggage or that it gets stolen forcing you to get new basic supplies like clothing.

The health aspect is also critical; do what you can in order to minimize the risk that you will get injured or Ill during your trip and check up on your general health and dental health before you go. If you would get hurt it’s also critical that you have the right type of insurance that will cover your expenses. If you have any specific medical conditions like asthma or diabetes make sure that you bring some extra medication with you and that you bring your prescriptions for these. If the country does not share the language of your own get prescriptions translated to this language if possible to minimize complication in the customs. Also learn the name of your medical condition and medication in this language so that you can communicate with medical personal if you have to.

Clothing
The clothing you pick must be suitable for the climate and weather you will be experiencing; dressing to warm or cold can become a serious problem. Also try to wear clothing that blends in and does not attract too much attention. Avoid designer clothing and expensive brands, jewelry and expensive watches that may attract attention and make you a target. Just like when you’re going on a hike; break in your shoes before you leave. It may be tempting to get a new pair of footwear just before you go but it can mean that you will spend your trip with blisters and feet that constantly hurts.

The Plan
When planning your travel it can be a good idea to leave the details of your plan with a friend or family member so that they know how you’re planning to travel, what routes, where you’re planning to stay, when you’re planning to go and return etc. Leaving a copy of your passport, airline tickets, insurance information etc can also be a good idea.

The Travel Safety Kit
Fire Alarm / Burglar Alarm
Fire Safety is just as important when travelling abroad as in your home. There are a number of companies that makes portable Fire Alarms that you can take with you on your travels. There is also Fire Alarm that doubles as burglar alarms that can be attached to doors warning you if someone tries to enter your room, one model is made by the company Deltronic Security. A door stopper can be a good complement to a burglar alarm since it makes it harder to enter a room and gives you more time to respond to situation if someone tries to enter your room. When entering new accommodations check out what alternative routes you can use during an evacuation.

First Aid Kit and Medicines
A small medical kit that includes some plasters and disinfection wet wipes should be a part of any travel safety kit. How comprehensive your kit depends on what type of location you will be traveling to and how available medical assistance will be. A few pain killers and anti-diarrheal tablets is another good complement.

In regions where medical facilities may lack sterile equipment it can be a good idea to bring a basic sterile kit so that medical personal can use sterile equipment. This can be very important in order to prevent that you get diseases like AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis.

Prescription Tablets and Medication
If you need some type of prescription medication remember to include your prescriptions and if possible make sure to get the prescription in the same language that is used in country your travelling to in order to minimize problems in customs. Always bring a supply for at least a few more days than you planning to stay. This is the basics that I would recommend everyone to bring with them; but if you are going on a longer trip or engage in high risk activities like extreme sports your medical kit should be adjusted accordingly.

Protection from the Sun
If the climate is warm and sunny don’t forget to bring Sun Screen along with you. This can also be a serious problem in the arctic where the white snow reflects the rays of the sun during the spring. Remember to apply the Sun Screen before you go outside; when you start feeling pain from you burns it’s generally too late. Go for a Sun Screen that’s has the Highest Protection you can find. Protecting your eyes is also critical; especially in arctic conditions when you can get “snow blindness” if you don’t protect your eyes.

Light
A compact flashlight or headlamp is a natural part of Travel Safety Kit (TSK) and especially useful in regions where black outs is a common problem. I suggest that you get compact model that use either one AA or AAA battery since this types of batteries generally are widely available. Examples of models can be the Fenix LD-10, Sunwayman M10A, 4Sevens Quark AA Tactical or ZebraLight H51. The Petzl E+Lite and Petzl Tikka XP2 are two compact headlights that can provide both white and red light.

Survival Knife
A knife can be a tool for many uses; from everything to open a wine bottle, a can of food, to cut your nails or more serious work like cutting a seatbelt after a car crash. Before you decide on what type of knife you should bring with you on your travel make your research; what types of knives are legal to carry and where are they legal to carry in the area you’re traveling to. Remember not to carry your knife on your person or hand luggage if travelling by plane; this normally means that you will lose the knife and you may also get in legal trouble.

A pocket knife can be a valuable tool for all types of situations. In general I recommend either a Swiss Army Knife because of the versatility they provide or a Folding Knife. A Swiss Army Knife can provide with all types of tool like a bottle opener, can opener, scissor, wine opener and blade just to name a few of the features that is often included. Swiss Army Knives are also known by most people and does not attract much attention. As a general rule I do not recommend tactical knives, double edged knives, knives with a one hand opening or assisted opening no matter of the laws in the areas your visiting simply because this type of knives easily can scare others and attract unwanted attention. If you want to bring a knife of this type I suggest that you bring another knife with a more peaceful look that you can use if you ever have to use your knife in public.

No matter what type of knife you decide to get make sure that you get a high quality model; a cheap copy can fail when you need it the most. It’s important that you can rely on your blade if you would ever need it.

There are more models of knives on the market than I can name here. As I stated before in general I would recommend a Swiss Army Knife; Victorinox and Wenger both make high quality models. Find a model that has the tools that you personally need. For folding knives I would recommend that you start with looking if there are any famous models from the country or region you’re travelling to; if there is choosing such a model can help you blend in among the public. The folding Knives from Opinel are relatively cheap, comes with wooden handles and a blade look that both that can secure the blade both when it’s out and folded back into the handle. These knives are not ideal for bush craft but works well for everything from cutting bread, food and other light work during travel. If you want a more reliable folding knife with a higher quality steel Folding Knives like the Fällkniven U2, U4 or TK3 can be interesting alternatives.

Fire
I also suggest that you include some type of items that you can help you start a fire like a simple BIC lighter or a small Fire Steel. For BOB or GHB I would suggest that you normally double up so that you have at least two methods for starting a fire; but if you’re going to a Urban area one items is often more than enough and will most likely just be used to light someone’s cigarette or a candle.

Translation
If you don’t know the language normally spoken in the area you’re travelling to writing down some common phrases and words in a notebook in combination with a pocket dictionary can be helpful. A Kwikpoint Translator can be very valuable tool to bring with you since it can allow you to communicate without words.

Pen and Notebook
A compact notebook and a pen should also be a part of any travel security kit. Before you leave I suggest that you write down information like where you can find the nearest embassy, the address and phone number to important locations like the place where you will be staying, people you know in the region etc. The Notebook can also be used to write down phrases and other information. The Fisher Space Pen Bullet and Fisher Space Pen Trekker is two relatively compact high quality pens that can be worth considering for TSK.

Sewing Kit and Repair
A small sewing kit is something that can be very useful to repair clothing. A few needles, safety pins and some strong thread is normally everything you need. There are several very compact credit card sized kits on the market if you want to be a preassembled sewing kit. If you are going on a longer expedition and may have to repair packs, boots or tents made from heavy duty materials a Speedy Stitcher can be an excellent addition. Some paracord, duct tape and super flue can also be good for travel when you won’t be able to replace broken equipment.

Other Items
Having a map of the area your travelling to can be a very valuable tool, when you don’t use the map try not to show its since it’s a quite strong indicator that you can find your way. A compact compass like the Suunto M-9 or Cammenga Wrist Watch can be good for keeping your direction.

A Travel Radio can be a good tool for keeping up to date; make your research in order to know if there are any local stations broadcasting news in your language.

Cell Phones work very well in most regions; there are however places where the cell phone net does not operate. There are also countries that can have different cell phone standard than you have in your own country; this can mean that your normal cell phone won’t work. The most common problem is that it can be very expensive calling using your own number, check with your operator for the prices before you go; if the prices are high and staying for a long period of time it can be better to buy a prepaid SIM-card. The prices for sending text messages are often relatively low. Note: The prices for using data traffic from Smartphone can sometimes be enormously high; there are cases when people have gotten bills for thousands of dollars: if you have a smart phone check the prices with you operator before leaving.

If you are travelling to remote areas where Cell Phones don’t work a SPOT can be a good tool in order to signal other if you require assistance. The new generation of SPOT:s can also send messages with your progress so that your friends and relatives can see how your travel or adventures progress. Satellite phones are relatively expensive but if you have the money they can be an invaluable tool in remote areas.

Money Belts and Hidden Pockets
One of the biggest risks you’re facing is losing your equipment either from simply forgetting your pack somewhere, getting pick pocketed or mugged. This happens to many people all over the world no matter what location there travelling to. I have personally traveled with people how have lost their bag containing everything from their passport; their wallet, id, driver license, credit cards, all their cash, cell phone, the keys to their home and the keys to their accommodation. This can happen to anyone.

Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Separate your gear so that you have some spare cash, ID and a credit card in a separate location like an ankle pouch or money belt. If you’re travelling through an area where robbery is common it can be good idea to carry an extra wallet containing an old ID card and a little cash can be a good idea.

Pick Pockets
No matter how careful you are its very hard to protect yourself from pick pockets. Tourist are especially vulnerable since they often don’t know the terrain, where the risks are greatest and they often stand out from general crowd and may be distracted trying to find their way to other locations.

Pick Pockets are often very skilled at what they do and they can often deploy techniques like camouflage and distractions; working either alone or in teams. In short; no matter how careful you are, you always have the disadvantage. The only thing you can do is to reduce the chance you will become a target.
• Keep your wallets and other possessions in safest location you can; the back pockets on your pants is one of worst places you can carry your wallet.
• Avoid handbags where the content can be easily accessed from the top. Backpacks can also be vulnerable since people can access them from a position where you can’t see them. Safety Pins can be used to secure zippers and make it harder to open zippers in bags and clothing.
• Be especially aware when you’re travelling with public transport like buses, subways, trains, elevators and escalators since these environments often are packed with people making it hard to notice everyone around you.
• Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, watches, hand bags and expensive clothing since this signals that you might have expensive possessions worth stealing.
• Avoid travelling alone, especially during the night or in unsafe areas.
• Keep attention. Don’t walk around with headphones so that you can’t hear what’s going on around you. In some culture physical contact is much more common when talking to others; this can be used to mask the attempt of picking your pocket and stealing your equipment.
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol or use other drugs; this makes you an especially easy victim.

End
Travelling is an activity that can be related to risk. Leaving your normal setting may mean that you will have to adapt a different culture, climate, terrain and situation that you are normally use to. Even if this article has focused largely on potential threats when travelling I still would like to emphasize that all activities life is related to risk. For many people travelling can be some of the best experience they will have their life meeting new people and making friends for life. But travel can also become a very unpleasant experience if you’re not careful. Learn to plan and do what you can to manage the risk you take.

Other Articles:
Travelling with Vehicles during a Crisis or Survival Situation
Author: Westfalia
Posted: December 22, 2011, 8:59 pm
In the two previous articles on Peak Oil I have discussed the future Outlooks concerning Oil made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In this article I will focus on two aspects in depth. The first aspect is to focus on the World’s largest Oil Fields and see what importance they play for the world oil production. The second aspect is to focus on the secret diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks from US embassy in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

In the 2011 World Energy Outlook by the IEA the Production of Crude Oil from the oil fields that produce oil in 2010 in expected to drop by over Two-Thirds by 2035. Quote: “We project that crude oil production from fields that were producing in 2010 will drop from 69mb/to 22mb/d by 2025 – a fall of over two-thirds”. But the IEA still expects the crude world production to remain at 67,9 mb/d per day 2035 from Crude Oil Yet to be found and Yet to be developed (WEO 2011: 122-123).

The WikiLeaks Cable
In 2010 WikiLeaks made the largest publication of classified material in history when a large number of US diplomatic cables were released. Among these cables one cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh from the 10th of December 2007 was released. This cable focus on an interview with Dr Sadad al-Husseini. Al-Husseini was formerly the Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production at Saudi Aramco, he also has Ph.D. in Geological Sciences. In this interview al-Hussseini warns that the Saudi Oil Reserves may be overstated by as much as 40%. Concerning the implication of this statement al-Husseini believes that:

“In al-Husseini’s view, once 50 percent depletion of original proven reserves has been reached and the 180 billion bbls threshold crossed, a slow but steady output decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it. By al-Husseini’s calculations, approximately 116 billion barrels of oil have been produced by Saudi Arabia, meaning only 64 billion barrels remain before reaching this crucial point of inflection. At 12 million b/d production, this inflection point will arrive in 14 years.”

“While al-Husseini believes that Saudi officials overstate capabilities in the interest of spurring foreign investment, he is also critical of international expectations. He stated that the IEA’s expectation that Saudi Arabia and the Middle East will lead the market in reaching global output levels of over 100 million barrels/day is unrealistic, and it is incumbent upon political leaders to begin understanding and preparing for this “inconvenient truth.””
According to the cable al-Husseini describes himself as optimistic about the future outlook of energy even if he contradicts the official Aramco line. It’s clear that al-Husseini probably is one of the people in the world with the best insight concerning the future of oil production in Saudi Arabia based both on the man’s education, experience and firsthand knowledge from leading the Exploration and Production unit in Aramco.

The World’s Largest Oil Fields
The number of producing oil fields 2007 was around 70.000; in total these fields produced around 70 million barrels oil per day (WEO 2008: 225-226). As previously noted the IEA expects that production from fields that was producing oil in 2010 is expected to drop from 65 mb/d to 22 mb/d in 2035. But the IEA still expects new finding to replace this lost production. This raises the question about what type of future findings we can expect. So let’s take a look at the World’s Largest Oil Fields.

The Top 10 Producing Oil Fields in the World 2007
1.) Ghawar 5,1mb/d
Ghawar In Saudi Arabia in undoubtedly the King of Kings. Ghawar was discovered in 1948 and has been producing enormous amount of oils ever since. Ghawar alone has historically produced somewhere between 55-65% of all oil coming from Saudi Arabia. The Fields Peaked in its production 1980 with a production of 5,58mb/d, the production was still at an amazing 5,1mb/d 2007.

2.) Cantarell 1,6mb/d
Cantarell in Mexico is the World’s Second most producing Oil Field. The Field was discovered in 1977, peaked in its production in 2003 with a production of 2,05mb/d a figure that had dropped to 1,6mb/d in 2007.

3.) Safaniyah 1,4mb/d
Safaniyah in Saudi Arabia was discovered in 1951. The field Peaked in its production 1998 with a production of 2,12mb/d, in 2007 the production has dropped to 1,4mb/d.

4.) Rumaila 1,25mb/d
Rumaila was discovered 1953 in Iraq. The field Peaked in its production in 1979 with a production 1,49 mb/d, in 2007 the production had dropped to 1,25mb/d.

5.) Greater Burgan 1,17mb/d
This oil fields in Kuwait was discovered in 1938, the production peaked in 1972 with a production of 2,415 mb/d a figure dropped to 1,17mb/d in 2007.

6.) Samotlor 0,903mb/d
This Russian Oil Field was discovered in 1960, it Peak in its production in 1980 with an enormous production of 3,435mb/d, a figure that had dropped sharply to 0,903mb/d in 2007.

7.) Akwaz 0,77mb/d
This Iranian Oil Field was discovered in 1958 and peaked in its production in 1977 with a production just over 1 million barrels and dropped to 0,77mb/d in 2007.

8.) Zakum 0,674mb/d
This oil field in Abu-Dhabiwas discovered in 1964, peaked in 1998 at 0,795mb/d and had dropped to 0,674mb/d in 2007.

9.) Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli 0,658mb/d
This oil field in Azerbaijan was discovered in 1985 and hadn’t peaked in yet in 2007 with a production of 0,658mb/d.

10.) Priobskoye 0,652mb/d
This Russian oil field was discovered in 1982 and hadn’t peaked yet in 2007 when it has a production of 0,652mb/d.

From these figures we can see several trends. The World’s Largest Oil Fields play a very important part for supplying the world’s energy demand. The Top Ten Fields produced 14,26 mb/d; around 20% of the World’s Total Oil Production. If the next ten fields were added the figure was around 25%. In total there was around 70.000 Oil Fields producing oil in 2007 and 20 of these fields produced a fifth of all the oil (WEO 2008: 225-226).

Another fact also stands out very clear; none of these fields has been discovered recently; the ones that was discovered the latest was discovered in 1982 and 1985. Only two of these fields hadn’t reached their Peak in production in 2007; the rest where on decline. During the summer of 2011 there were big headlines concerning an unusually big oil find outside the coast of Norway that is expected being able to produce up to 500-1200 million barrels of oil. Ghawar with its production of 5 million barrels of oil per day produces this amount of oil in 100-210 days. The trends of smaller and smaller findings are something often stressed by researchers within the Peak Oil movement; smaller and smaller fields of oil are being discovered even though the technological tool available to search for new fields constantly develops.

Peak Oil and Our Mental Models
If Peak Oil is truly here or not is not a question that I can answer. In this article I have lifted the trend of largest oil Fields in the World and classified information from WikiLeaks concerning the situation in Saudi Arabia. No matter what information that I present I almost always the same response; people simply agree or totally disregard the possibility of Peak Oil. One aspect that I would like to raise is mental models and mind-sets. This is one the major subjects that Richard Heuer lifts in the book Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Heuer believes that people construct their own reality based on the information that they observe. We are influenced by many factors like cultural values, education and past experiences but also by factors like the role we are expected to fill and norms within organizations or communities (Heuer 1999: 4-5).

This is a critical aspect that is not lifted enough: We do not focus upon our own mental models. There was a time when most people believed that world was flat. Economical Growth and an increase in the standard of living has been the truth for a long period time. We expect things to get better and better, we expect that the standard of living will be higher and higher. This is one of our cultures most central ideas and a message that reach us every day from multiple sources. One things that Heuer lifts is that when a paradigm change, as the end of the cold war takes place the experts how knew the most about the subject is those how have the most to unlearn when it comes to adapting to a new reality (Heuer 1999: 5). Heuer also focus on the fact that when a mental form is created and the new information is assimilated into the existing model. We continue to use models that worked well in the past long after they have become outmoded (Heuer 1999: 8-11, 73).

Analysis
If the IEA forecast concerning the fields that were producing oil 2010 turns out to be correct the production from these fields will drop by 45,9mb/d until 2035. By the same period of time Natural Gas Liquids, Unconventional Oil and Bio Fuels is expected to increase from 15,6 mb/d to 32,9mb/d, an increase with 17,3 mb/d. This would mean that we still need to bring oil fields that can produce 28,6 mb/d online just to remain on same total production that we have today of liquid fuels (WEO 2011: 122-123).

I would like to focus on some critical aspects from this information
• The positive forecast depends on two critical components
1.) The Production of alternative fuels will double during this period of time
2.) New Oil Fields will be found and developed that will able to offset the drop in 45,9mb/d in production from existing Oil Fields.
• This is assumptions that are required for this analysis to be correct.
• The analysis made by the IEA focus on a scenario when Saudi Arabia will increase their production from 10mb/d in 2010 to 13,6mb/d in 2035.

So how do the classified information from WikiLeaks and the trend concerning the World’s biggest Oil Fields fit in this projection? The IEA expects the production in Saudi Arabia to go from 10mb/d per day in 2010 to 13,9 mb/d per day in 2035. As the diplomatic cables from 2007 released by WikiLeaks even al-Husseini, the former Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production at Aramco is skeptical towards this prognosis. It’s fully possible that al-Husseini is incorrect in the assessment; but the central role within Aramco and the man’s technical expertise is hard to deny.

From looking at the World Largest Oil Fields today it’s clear that the greatest findings have taken place several decades ago. New findings have taken place but none of them have the capacity of the top 20 Oil Fields producing Oil today. The Top 20 Oil Fields in the World produce around 25% of the World’s Oil; around 19,16 mb/d. If you compare this to the 45,9mb/d required to compensate for the fall from fields producing in 2010 up until 2025 it clear that we will either have to be very lucky in our explorations or find an enormous amount of small fields.

Bloggers and researchers often tend to present dramatic forecasts that get a lot of attention. Instead I would suggest that you do something else. No matter where you stand concerning the subject of Peak Oil I would suggest that you ask yourself what your mental-model of the situations is and what assumptions this model relies upon? What data challenges your assumptions and what data confirms your assumptions? From there I suggest that you make up your own mind.

Other Articles
Is Peak Oil Already Here?
The US Energy Information Administration - No Peak in World Oil Production in another 23 years
Peak Oil
Author: Westfalia
Posted: December 12, 2011, 8:49 pm
In the previous article I discussed the International Energy Agency reports World Energy Outlook. Peak Oil is a highly debated subject and a Peak in the Global Production of Oil may seem like a bizarre scenario to many people. We have had an enormous access to cheap energy for several generations now. For a long period of time the United States was the world’s leading producer of oil, this changed however in 1972 when the US reached its Peak with a production around 9,5 million barrels per day (mb/d), today the US production of Oil is only around 5,5 mb/d. Today the US imports around 10 mb/d making it the world number one oil importer.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) also provides statistical information and forecasts just like IEA. In the most recent report International Energy Outlook 2011 the EIA provides a completely different analysis than IEA. Like you might remember from the other article IEA believed that the world production of crude oil would continue to increase by around 1% per year until 2030 up until the World Energy Outlook 2010 report. In the 2010 report the IEA assessed that the world production of crude oil peak in 2006. This was a sharp turn compared to the previous reports.

The 2011 report provides by the EIA provides a completely different forecast. The EIA believes that the World Production of Crude Oil will continue to increase by 0,7% per year up until 2035. In short: According to the IEA the Peak in Crude Production is at least 23 years away. In addition to this the EIA also believes that oil sands will increase from 1,8 to 4,8 mb/d in 2035, Coal to Liquids from 0,2 to 1,7 mb/d, Gas to Liquid from 0,1 to 0,3 mb/d, Shale oil from 0,0 to 0,1 mb/d and bio fuels from 1,5 to 4,7 mb/d (IEO 2011: 28).

The EIA discussion also lacks a serious discussion about the Oil Reserves in the Middle East. This is a subject that was raised by Matthew Simmons in the book “Twilight in the Desert”.

Simmons lifts several key notions:
• The production in Saudi Arabia is concentrated around a few giant fields; Ghawar alone produces somewhere between 55-65% of the total Oil Production in Saudi Arabia.
• The fields have been producing oil for several decades
• The Proven Reserves increased to 150 billion barrels in 1979 when the management of Aramco was taken over by nationals. The number continue to rise to 160 billion barrels in 1982 and in 1988 another 100 billion barrels was added to the proven reserves leaving Saudi Arabia with the largest oil reserves in the world; over 260 billion barrels.
• Since 1988 over 47 billion barrels has been produced just until 2005 and still the proven reserves of 260 billion barrels has not reduced.

This is also a subject that was highlighted after the WikiLeaks release of US Embassy cables when report that suggested that the reserves in Saudi Arabia may in fact be 40% less than stated was released. None of these issues is discussed by the EIA.

Analysis
The future projections Energy has been very positive for a long period of time. The IEA started to change their projections in 2010, the EIA still holds on to the same type of prognosis that the IEA presented in 2009. It’s very hard to know if the IEA or EIA got it right; only time can tell. But it’s important to understand that the analysis that the US politics is based upon relies on a much more positive outlook. If it turns out that EIA is wrong in their analysis it means that the policies and planning implemented by the US has been based upon incorrect information.

I have yet not seen any political party that has lifted Peak Oil as a potential problem. Peak Oil is a concept that challenges the expectation of growth, something that we have been used to for a very long period of time. It’s my guess that we are now starting to go from a period with a steady economical growth to period where the old truths may no longer be valid. We are now seeing a process when political and economical institutions are trying to make sense of what is going on. I do not believe that the world will run out of fossil fuels, but I do believe it’s possible that the access to these fuels may start to decrease instead of increasing. This presents a problem for all the economical and political institutions of the world since it means that they will have to adapt to a reality that does not corresponds to the situation that they have encountered in the past.

Other Articles
Peak Oil and Our Mental Models - The WikiLeaks Cable and The Worlds Largest Oil Fields
Is Peak Oil Already Here?
Things You Can Do In Order To Prepare For Peak Oil
Author: Westfalia
Posted: December 7, 2011, 7:55 pm
The International Energy Agency is the leading international agency when it comes to forecasting the world’s future energy use. In the report World Energy Outlook the international institution presents its forecast. The first report in this series was presented in 1994. From 1994 IEA has presented a very positive outlook for future energy. In the first report from 1994 the World Oil production was expected on increase to 94 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2010. From 2002 to 2009 World Energy Outlook the forecast for oil production was expected to increase to 120-105 mb/d. In the 2008 World Energy Outlook Oil Production was expected to increase with 1% per year up until 2030. In 2010 a new analysis was presented. In this report the Peak in world production of oil was believed to have taken place in 2008 with a World Production of around 70 million barrels per day. This report suggests that Peak Oil may in fact already have taken place. If this analysis is correct it means that instead of having 20 years of additional growth in Oil Production ahead of us we may now be on the other end of Hubberts Peak. Peak Oil has been a highly debated subject for a long period of time. The future forecasts have often been described as very positive with future growth in production and reserves. Many of the researchers within the Peak Oil Movement have provided a more problematic analysis.

Oil is one of the most important commodities in today’s world. It has very energy content and is crucial for many areas like transportation, agriculture and the petrochemical industry. Research has also shown that there is a strong correlation between economical development and the access to cheap energy.

Analysis
Peak Oil is only one of many complex problems that the world may face. If we have truly reached the Peak in world oil production or not can only history show. There are a number of other problems that also interact; the world population has recently reached 7 billion people and is expected to reach 10 billion in 2050. At the same time we also have a demographical development in many rich countries with low birth rates that will produce a situation when few young will have to support and aging population. Man Made Global Warming is another trend that may also interact with these problems with more severe weather and increased water shortages in some part of the world.

It’s my guess that we may have reached or is starting to reach a point when many of the resources that our current way of life depends upon will start to decline. I do not think that we have reached this point for all natural resources but it’s possible that we have started to reach this point for some of them. If this is correct we may face a future when an increasing world population will have to make do with less and less resources and that this problem will get increasingly worse over time.

Our political and economical system is today very focused on short term profits and growth. Economical growth and increased average life span has increased for a very long period of time. This is all that our political and economical institutions know and it’s also something that is deeply rooted in all of us from the stories that’s being told throughout our societies.

During the last year we have seen a series of events around throughout the world like Arabian Spring, a severe economical crisis for some of the countries within the European Union and The Occupy Wall Street Movement. It’s my belief that these developments are symptoms at least partly related to other underlying factors like Peak Oil, The Depletion of Renewable and Non Renewable Resources, The Increasing World Population, The Demographical Development and Global Warming and that these factors may continue to put an increasing press on our political and economical system.

Other Articles
Peak Oil and Our Mental Models - The WikiLeaks Cables and The Worlds Largest Oil Fields
The US Energy Information Administration - No Peak in World Oil Production in another 23 years
Peak Oil
Author: Westfalia
Posted: December 5, 2011, 1:28 pm
Navigating the market with companies that provides Survival related Equipment can be a tricky business. In this article I will list some of the companies that make Survival Related Equipment.

Clothing
5.11
66 North
Aclima
Arcteryx
Arcteryx LEAF
Bergans
Buff
Canada Goose
Chevalier
Fivefingers
Fjällräven
Haglöfs
Hatch
Hestra
Houdini
Icebreaker
Jack Wolfskin
Klättermusen
Lowe Alpin
Lundhags
Mammut
Marmot
Meindl
Merrell
Montane
Mountain Hardware
Mountain Works
Norrona
Patagonia
Peak Performance
SmartWool
Snugpak
Stetson
The North Face
Under Armour
Woolpower

Fire Starters
Firesteel.com
Light My Fire
Solo
Ultimate Survival Technologies
Wenger
Zippo

Survival Knives
Al Mar Knives
Benchmade
Brusletto
Buck Knives
Camillius
Chris Reeve
Cold Steel
Columbia River Knives (CKRT)
Dianova
Eickhorn
EKA
Emerson Knives
ESEE
Fällkniven
Fox Knives
Gerber
Helle
Ka-Bar
Leatherman
Mora
Ontario Knife Company (OKC)
Opinel
Randall Made Knives
SOG
Spyderco
TOPS Knives
Victorinox
Wenger
Zero Tolerance Knives

Axes and Saws
American Tomahawk Company
EKA
Fiskars
Gerber
Gränsfors Bruk
Sven-Saw
Trail Blazer
Wetterlings

Stoves and Cooking
Coleman
Evernew
Esbit
GSI Outdoors
Jetboil
Light My Fire
Lifeventure
MSR
Optimus
Primus
SOTO
Stanley
Trangia
Vargo

Food
Mountain House
REAL
Shelf Reliance
TreknEat

Water Containers and Water Purification
Aquamira
Big Berkey Water Filters
CamelBak
Contigo
Isosteel
Klean Kanteen
Katadyn
KlearWater
Nalgene
Nathan
MSR
SIGG
Source
WaterBob

Light
4Sevens
Dietz
Fenix
Inova
LED Lenser
Maglite
NiteCore
Olight
Petzl
Photon Light
Silva
Streamlight
Surefire
Sunwayman
UCO
ZebraLight

Backpacks and Bags
Arcteryx
Berghaus
Black Diamond
Blackhawk!
Boblbee
Exped
HPRC
Kifaru
Klättermusen
Maxpedition
Mission Workshop
Norrona
Osprey
OtterBox
Sea To Summit
Snigel Design
Snugpak
Tasmanian Tiger
Timbuk2

First Aid and Medical Equipment
Adventure Medical Kits
Combat Application Tourniquet
BCB
Lifesystems
ZMedica

Tent and Shelters
Bergans
Carinthia
Easton Mountain Products
Exped
Fjällräven
Haglöfs
Helsport
Hennessy Hammock
Hilleberg
Marmot
Ortovox
Snugpak
Surviva
Therm-a-Rest
Terra Nova
Vaude
Western Mountaineering

Navigation
Brunton
Cammenga
Garmin
Magellan
Recta
Silva
Suunto

Survival Kits
Adventure Medical Kits
BCB
ESEE
Gerber
Pro Survival Kit Company
Ultimate Survival Technologies
Author: Westfalia
Posted: November 16, 2011, 8:22 pm
Of all the natural disasters in the world tornadoes is the disaster that generates the highest wind speeds. A tornado is rotating storm that has a more destructive force than a hurricane but it affects a much smaller geographical area, it’s uncommon that a tornado is more than one kilometer wide.


The magnitude of a Tornado is often measured in the Fujita Scale ranging from 0 to 5. These are often referred to as an F0, F1, F2, F3, F4 and F5 with an F0 being the weakest Tornado causing only minor damage, an F5 the most powerful causing massive damage. There is also an updated version of this scale called the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

An F5 tornado can destroy even relatively strong buildings, deform a skyscraper, and pull asphalt from the roads and move vehicles and farm equipment with a weight of several tons over long distances. The damage potential is in short extreme. But much like a Tsunami a tornado can totally devastate an area only to leave structure only short distances away intact. The majority of all tornadoes take place in the Great Plain Area in the United States.

Timeline
1925 The Tri State Tornado caused massive devastation when it travelled 350 kilometers through three states; bringing destruction to over 20 cities resulting in the deaths of almost 700 people.

1974 The Super Outbreak was an event when almost 150 tornadoes was record in just two days. Over people 300 died in from the tornadoes.

1989 The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado in Bangladesh is the Deadliest tornado in history. The Tornado hit slums and other vulnerable areas killing around 1.300 people, injuring around 12.000 and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

1999 Its relatively rare that a Tornado hits a city but The Oklahoma City Tornado is one example of such an event. The tornado produced the highest wind speeds that have ever been recorded reaching almost 500km/h. The tornado killed over 30 people and destroyed several thousand homes.

2011 The Tornado that hit Joplin was one of the worst in US history. The tornado resulted in around 160 dead and injured almost 1.000 people. The tornado caused severe damage to building an even hit the St John Regional Medical Center causing damage to the structure and the loss of power.

Survival and Preparedness
A tornado can cause massive direct damage killing individuals and destroying buildings. A tornado can also result in severe secondary damage from Fire. Vital infrastructure can also be destroyed or damaged limiting the access to water, the power grid and electronic communications.

If you are confronted with a tornado immediately seek cover in the most solid protection you can find or try to avoid its path. Even if relatively few people die in tornadoes every year compared to other Natural Disasters the economical damage is enormous. Having the right insurance and an emergency budget is an important addition to other disaster preparedness efforts like having water, food, medical supplies, light and other necessities available.

Your Home
Mobile homes are especially vulnerable since they can’t withstand the enormous power of a tornado. Unventilated structures can explode from the differences in air pressure that a tornado generates. Those how live in mobile homes and other light structures are very vulnerable to tornadoes since they can easily destroy these structures. For those how live in mobile homes cars often provide a better shelter since they have a lower center of gravity and are often better designed to withstand an impact if they roll over.

Cellars and Safe Rooms
The destructive power of a tornado can often destroy building and homes. In order to survive a tornado one of the most common tactics is to seek cover underground in cellars. Another form of tactic is to build a safe room within the structure. A safe room is part of the building with a strong roof and solid walls often made by concrete or steel with a strong steel door. There are many companies that also can retrofit older buildings that were not originally built with a safe room.

Early Warnings
It’s possible to detect tornadoes using radar; from these readings it’s possible to warn people in affected areas. These warnings are often transmitted using radio. If you live in an area where tornadoes often strike being able to get this type of Early Warning can mean the difference between life and death. Many that die in tornadoes has simply been unable to receive these Early Warnings. Following the weather reports is also an important tool to get warning regarding storm and weather condition that can generate Tornadoes. Some areas also have sirens to provide warnings. Learn what how the Early Warning system in your area operates.

The visibility of a tornado can vary; during heavy rains or at very dry locations they can be hard to spot. The sound of a tornado is often very high if you are close to storm, but they can be hard to hear over long distances.

Conclusion
Tornadoes present a very destructive event for anyone that lives in an area where Tornadoes are common. Having a place to seek cover and knowing where shelter can be found is critical in order to avoid the potential damage from a Tornado. Learn how Early Warnings are given in your area and make sure that you can receive them.

Also see
Hurricanes
Earthquakes
Tsunami
Volcanoes
Surviving Fires and Fire Safety
Author: Westfalia
Posted: October 19, 2011, 5:13 pm
Fire is a double edged sword. In survival situations fire can provide heat, light, the ability to prepare food, disinfect water and comfort. As a disaster fire can destroy houses, large areas of forest and even entire cities. As a disaster fire can occur from natural causes like a lightning strike but it can also be a manmade disaster both by accident but also intentionally as arson or used as a weapon of war. More than one hundred accidental fires take place in the US every year. The vast majority of these fires took place in homes. In 2009 around 2500 people died and almost 15.000 were injured.


Your Home
A fire in your home can destroy everything that you own in just a couple of minutes. By taking some steps you can reduce the chance that a Fire takes place in your home. Examples of some steps that you should take:
Install Fire Alarms in Your Home
Make sure that you have at least one Fire Alarm on every floor of your home as an absolute minimum.

Evacuation
If the worst would take place what ways can you have of leave your home in a hurry? Are fire escapes available? Make sure that there is a primary and a secondary meeting point outside your home where your family can meet up.

Fire Extinguishers
A Fire Extinguisher can help you took stop a Fire before it gets out of hand if you are lucky and react fast enough. What types of Extinguisher you choose depends on several factors but it’s important that you learn how to use an extinguisher if you get one. A Fire Proof blanket can also be a good complement to a Fire Extinguisher.

Insurance
Making sure that you are properly insured can be critical in order to make it through the economical consequences of a fire. Make sure that you know what your insurance cover and if there are specific events when the insurance does not provide cover. In order to protect personal documents, cash, photographs and digital backups it can be a good idea to get either a fire proof safe in your home or a safe deposit box at a bank.

Minimizing the Risk that a Fire will take place
Taking steps in order to minimize the chance that a Fire might take place is also a very import step. There are periods of time like around Christmas when many people light candles in their homes; during this periods of times accidental fires are more common. Make sure that you don’t place candles so that they can easily fall down by accident. Smokers as a group are at a higher risk when it comes to accidental fires; especially those how smoke in their beds. If you smoke make sure that you take steps to minimize the risk of accidental fires. Many fires are also linked to the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Historical Fires - Timeline
1666 The Great Fire of London destroyed the homes of almost one hundred people living in medieval city. The number of people how died in this disaster is a debated subject.

1812 almost all of Moscow was burned so that Napoleon and the French Conquerors could not lot the city. The retreat during winter conditions would prove disastrous for the French Army.

1871 The Great Chicago Fire started on the 8th of October and would cause widespread devastation destroying homes, building and infrastructure. Almost one third to of cities inhabitants lost their homes in the disasters that were one of the worst American disasters of the century.

1871 The Great Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin devastated an enormous area, destroy several communities and is believed to have killed somewhere between 1.500 and 2.500 people. This disaster is one the deadliest fire in American history.

1902 Iroquois Theater Fire in Chicago is one the worst fires in US history leaving around 600 dead.

1906 After the major Earthquake that hit San Francisco on the 18th of April a devastating fire followed that caused even more damage than the Earthquake. Many of the devastating fires were caused by ruptured gas lines but destruction was also added by the fire department how tried to limit the spread of the fire. Almost 500 hundred city blocks and several thousands of buildings were destroyed.

1923 after the Great Kanto Earthquake a severe fire followed that turned into a Firestorm. Almost 150.000 people is believed to have died; most of them from the fire.

1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire in Boston was one of the most deadly nightclub fires in history, leaving almost 500 dead.

1945 The Allies Dropped large amounts of incendiary bombs over the German city Dresden creating a Firestorm that destroyed most of the city an killed somewhere between 25.000 and 500.000 people. A Firestorm also followed after the bombing of Hamburg in 1943.

1945 The Fire Bombings against Tokyo destroys hundreds of thousands of home and kills around 100.000 people.

1967 A fire at the LÌnovtion Department Store in Brussels resulted in the death of over 300 people.

1988 The Yellowstone National Park Fire was the largest wildfire in US history leaving an area larger than 3000 square kilometers burned. During the disaster thousands of fire fighters and military personal was fighting the flames.

1988 68 youths was killed in and over 200 was wounded after a fire in a nightclub in Gothenburg. It was later established that the cause of the fire was arson.

2003 The California Cedar Fire was the largest wild fire in Californias history. The fire resulted in the death of 15 people and over 1000 square kilometers was burned leaving thousands of buildings destroyed.

2009 The Black Saturday Bushfire was the worst bushfires in Australia’s history. The fire left 147 people dead and wounded over 400. The fires took place during a period of extreme heat and little rain had fallen in the months before, strong winds also added to the destruction of the Firestorm.

Surviving Fires
The best way to survive a fire is to make sure that the fire does not take happen in the first place. Take precaution when engaging in activities that can cause a fire. If a fire would take place it’s important that you and that you act fast. A fire can spread with a very high speed – seconds count. If you can’t stop the fire - evacuate immediately and try to save those how are in harm’s way. Many modern buildings have a very high fire safety; the buildings are often constructed so that fire will be contained within different cells of the structure. But in order for this to work it is critical that doors between different areas remain closed. If you are leaving an area where there is fire and smoke close the doors behind you. This can stop or delay the spread of the fire and smoke. After you have made your escape contact first responders at once and give medical assistance to those how might need it.

When you visit different locations make sure that you know where the fire exists are located, this is not only important for accidents such as fires. If you are about enter into a nightclub or other facilities that is overcrowded and lack proper fire escapes you might want to think twice about entering. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, don’t go.

Smoke is one of the major killers during a fire; it is most the most common cause of death during fires. If you are indoors stay low in order to avoid inhaling smoke and poisonous gas. There are several extremely dangerous phenomena’s that can take place during fires like Firestorms, Backdrafts and Flashovers.

Wearing synthetically clothing can be very dangerous during fires; these fabrics can easily catch fire, melt and leave severe burns. Wool is much more resistant to fire and can be a good fabric to use for clothing for several reasons. Merino wool is not only resistant to fire; it also provides warmth even when wet and does not carry an odor as easily as synthetic materials. For those how like Buffs there are special fire resistant models made by Nomex on the market.

Psychological Reactions
Fire is one the disasters when the reaction denial often becomes a severe problem. Fire exercises can be a great tool for creating routines for an evacuation but many simply ignore Fire Alarms or even become angry when they hear them assuming that it is just an exercise or false alarm. This denial may continue even if smoke from the fire has been visible. It has even happened that people has hidden during fires not to be disturbed. If you hear Fire Alarm take this seriously and act accordingly.

If you engage in activities that could start a Fire
Many people do repairs in their homes using tools that can accidentally start a fire. Examples of such tools can be a weld, angle grinder, heat gun or reciprocating saw. Many might also be engaged in such activities in their professional life working with construction or contracting. Taking precautions is critical since it might prevent a fire, but not taking adequate measures to prevent a fire can also result in a situation when you become legally responsible for starting a fire or that your insurance company won’t cover the damage.

Before You Get Started
By planning ahead you can reduce the chance that an accidental fire might take place and minimize the consequences if it would. These are some steps that can be worth considering before you get started.

Contacting First Responders
What is your exact address and location? What is the best ways for the Fire Department to reach your location? What is the Phone Number to First Responders and do you have a phone or cell phone available to raise the alarm if the worst would happen?

Risk Management
Can You Reduce the Risk by changing the location? As an example if you have to cut a piece of steel pipe it might be better to move outside to a place without flammable materials instead of doing so inside a barn. Another way of reducing the risk is to change the tool; instead of using an angle grinder you might use a hand saw to cut trough a piece of metal even if it might take a little bit longer time.

Clean The Place Where Your doing the work, remove dust and all types of flammable materials. If there are materials that might catch fire from sparks that can’t be moved; cover them using Fire Proof Blankets. Spraying water over flammable materials before you get started is other method of reducing the risk that a fire will spread if you can remove the material. If there is crack in the wall, floor or other locations where you’re performing the work cover them up. It’s common especially when using tools like an angle grinder that sparks can enter small crack and start fire.

If there is a risk that your work might start a fire in a location that you can’t see from where your working make sure that you get someone that can stand guard at this location. A fire can sometimes start quite some time after you are done with your work; if you have been doing work in a high risk environment it can be good to post a Fireguard for a minimum of one hour after the work has been completed. Make sure that you have equipment to extinguish a fire available.

Conclusion
As a disaster Fire can be an absolutely devastating event. It can destroy your home and everything you own in a matter of minutes. In this article I have discussed some of the steps that you can take in order to minimize the risk that you will be affected by such an event and minimize the effect if the worst would happen. This is a subject that can critical for many groups; especially those how might have much equipment for disaster preparedness stored in their homes.

Also see
Equipment and Techniques To Start a Fire
Author: Westfalia
Posted: October 11, 2011, 9:53 am
I would like to recommend a series of videos on The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter that can be seen for free on YouTube. Tainter has also written the book “The Collapse of Complex Societies". Tainter can also be seen in a number of documentaries like the National Geographic Documentary “2210 The Collapse?”, “Blind Spot” and “After Armageddon”.


Author: Westfalia
Posted: October 6, 2011, 8:24 pm
I have lately been preoccupied with other activities giving me very little time to work on new articles for the blog. During the coming month there will be some new articles regarding disaster preparedness and survival for The Free Online Survival Guide.


I have been contacted by a reader how suggested that I might take the time to help a few of the readers out by providing them with some advice and feedback on their efforts and later share this with the other readers. I do not have the time to help every reader with their efforts so I will only be able to take on a few persons. I am currently working on the framework and structure for this and hope to have the beginning ready in November. This will be a project that will take some time and range over a couple of months with several steps.

If you are interest you can contact me at contact.sibitotique@gmail.com with a short introduction about yourself, what you would like to accomplish and why you are interested in Disaster Preparedness and Survival.

If you would be interested in participating you should now that in order for me to be able to give you advice I will ask several questions about your situation, setting and much more. In order to maintain the privacy of the readers I ask that you
• Do not share your real name with me
• Do not share your exact address or geographical location, your region is enough
• Do not share any information that you would not want to become public knowledge

If you are interested in participating I also suggest that you get a specific e-mail address and do not use an e-mail address that can be traced back to you by making a Google search on your e-mail account. I will do what I can to make sure that the information you share with me stay safe but my e-mail account could get hijacked just to name one possibility. Also make sure to protect your computer with a password, that you have updated antivirus software, have a strong password for your e-mail account and don’t share the information over an unprotected wireless network or a wireless network with a weak encryption. After each step I will summarize the step that we have gone through and what advice that was given. Before any information about this is posted on the blog the article will be sent to you for approval.
Author: Westfalia
Posted: October 6, 2011, 10:10 am




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