After Disaster – Surviving The Urban Wilderness

After the Disaster of hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, mud slides and other disasters, those who survived the original event found themselves faced with another disaster: an urban “wilderness” without running water, sanitation, electricity, groceries, and in many cases without their normal shelter from the elements of sun and rain, heat and cold. This article is far from a full discussion, but offers some ways you can help yourself and others when the unthinkable happens. In California we’re overdue for a massive earthquake that will run through the most populated areas of major cities. There’s no more “IF” Just “when.”

In the days after the Katrina hurricane, the damage was not over. Broken levees did unimaginable destruction to many cities, and people were literally tossed out into the floodplain unprepared. Perhaps what shocked me the most was the fact that several hundred people died needlessly from dehydration and related problems, simply because they did not have enough clean water to drink. There was plenty of water in every home before the storm hit, and there were several full days of warning that the storm was coming. They could have prepared by drawing up drinking water into bottles, buckets, and other containers; it would have been easy to do. But they didn’t.

They died because they didn’t know what to do, and because they expected plenty of outside help to come and save everybody. Tragically, we now know that didn’t happen, and even if it had, the sheer numbers and logistics (no way to get in except by boat, for example) would have made it impossible to do enough, fast enough, to save everybody.
The saddest part of this is that even though many people would have been lost no matter what, these few hundreds didn’t have to be. They could have saved themselves with just a very small amount of effort, if only they had known.

Where I work we take disaster and human suffering very seriously. We believe that whatever can be done, should be done, to prevent it whenever possible. In this article we will not be looking at what went right or wrong in Katrina, or any other disasters that have already passed – we will look at what we all can do to help ourselves survive not only the next disaster, but also its aftermath. We will look at simple, basic needs, and ways to meet them in the “Emergency Urban Wilderness.” These ideas are by no means complete; just the barest essentials of information and do-able actions that all of us need to know in order to survive not just the disaster, but also the difficult and dangerous days that will follow.

1.Water. The number one, most important physical need to sustain life is plain clean water. The human body is made up of about 80% water, and every single cell of the body must have enough of it at all times. Through natural things like sweating, breathing, and passing off the body’s waste products, some water is being lost all the time. It must be replaced and replenished by more water, usually by drinking liquids. However, liquids like fruit juices, colas, and sport drinks don’t do the same job that water does, and may actually worsen heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

When body fluid levels get too low (called dehydration) a whole variety of problems can be set in motion – decreasing the amount & consistency of your blood, and unbalancing essential nutrients and electrolytes. This can cause weakness, dizziness, rising body temperatures, and may even set off some types of heart dysrhythmias. Water is life-giving.

It must be CLEAN. Dirty water carries diseases that cause diarrhea and vomiting, which cause or worsen dehydration and over time can eventually bring on severe weakness and even death. What to do instead: Put up and store clean water in sturdy plastic (not glass) containers in your home, car, workplace. Use 2 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon to disinfect tap water for storage. Later on if you do have to use some water you’re not sure of, you should boil it first before drinking it or using it on any open cut or scrape, since infection can enter that way too.

2.Shelter. Having some protection from cold, heat, and wetness helps prevent many problems associated with post-disaster conditions, such as hypothermia (loss of essential body-core heat) and hyperthermia (heat exhaustion and heat stroke). Shelter location should be an open area away from tall buildings with glass windows, or any structure or large tree that may fall onto you. When you look for a location, remember to look up. Perhaps a parking lot, or an open park with only small trees, and cooking grills. NEVER light any fire, stove, or grill INSIDE a closed space, tent, or shelter! There is the danger of fire, suffocation, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kinds of Shelters: Tents are great if you have one, but you can also make a simple shelter out of a tarp, blanket, or plastic garden sheeting thrown over low shrubs or bushes, then crawl in underneath. Living plants have heat of their own, which helps you stay warm. You can buy “tube tents” for yourself and each of your family members. They are simply a plastic tube about 6 feet long, just wide enough for one person and a sleeping bag. Most surplus stores have them. Or you could make a “clothesline tent” by tying a rope between two objects (the “clothesline”) and then throwing a tarp, space blanket, or heavy plastic sheeting over it and staking the corners to the ground. Just like you did in the back yard when you were 10 years old. An excellent source of ideas for more emergency shelters can be found in the Boy Scout Handbook, available for free at your local public library.

3.Personal Protection. In cold or cool weather, keep warm and dry. Wear layers, Cover your head, hands, and feet. Wool is best if possible, because it still keeps you warm even if wet. If you don’t have gloves, put socks on your hands. If you don’t have a hat, cover your head with a heavyweight paper bag or thick plastic granny scarf (NO PLASTIC ON CHILDREN! – because it is a suffocation hazard). To sleep – dog-piling, invented by our caveman ancestors, is an effective way to share warmth. Make a mat of dry leaves, newspapers, or branches UNDER you to insulate you from the ground cold.

Rain protection: If you don’t have a raincoat but you do have heavy plastic garden sheeting (a roll should be kept in your First Aid kit) Just cut a piece about 8 to 10 feet long (twice the height from your neck to your knees) and about 6 to 8 feet wide (twice the length from your neck to your hand). Then cut a hole right in the middle and stick your head through. Instant Parka!

In very hot weather, try to work in the coolest time of the morning and evening, and rest in the hottest part of the day as much as possible. Use light colors for your clothes and tents, because they reflect light and so don’t absorb heat. In cold weather, just the opposite. A dark-colored tent will gather some heat to last after sunset.

4.Food. This is the least important thing the first few days. Though uncomfortable, a normally healthy person can survive for up to 3 weeks without food, and still fully recover with no permanent damage. (But remember you can only go 2 or 3 days without water.) So when you put aside your emergency drinking water supply, also put aside some canned and packaged foods that can be eaten without cooking. Canned beans, vegetables, meats and fish are good, and powdered milk too, especially if you have kids. Great are mylar-wrapped nutrition bars like granola bars and “Cliff” bars. Make sure you’re not just getting candy or cookies with an athletic-sounding name. Read the labels. Date everything with a magic-marker, and every few months, replace your stashed food with new, and then of course, eat the older ones you take out.

5.Keep well, Keep safe. It’s extremely important to get enough rest and sleep, even in a disaster, to keep your strength going. Drink water, and eat at natural times if possible. You may be tempted to just keep working, but if you do, you will inevitably burn out, and fatigue will greatly increase your risk of accidents and injury. Work with a group, and tag-team frequent time-outs for everyone for rest and water. Watch for signs of fatigue or heat exhaustion in each other.
Keep yourself as well and as safe as you can; that is an important responsibility. You can’t help anyone else very much if you get injured or weakened by dehydration yourself. Always put your own safety FIRST, and that’s how you will be most able to help others.

For more information read “The Days That Follow: Environmental Hazards of Heat and Cold, and Infection Control and Sanitation” in the book: Disaster First Aid – What To Do When 911 Can’t Come. For other practical ideas about wilderness survival, read The Boy Scout Handbook and similar resources in your public library.

Street Fighting, Martial Arts and The Urban Warrior!

How do you break the trance of what is and what is not perceived as 21st century self-defence?

As a teacher of both karate and military combative type training I know better than to take myself too seriously. But I am very serious when I’m training myself or others to survive a vicious violent attack because that is the ultimate aim of self-defence, survival right?

However, for most people outside the martial arts the name represents a great mysterious violent art that involves punching and kicking each other. On the inside it is known as the ultimate way and for some the start of a great adventure along a lifelong path of hard work and dedication.

You see, by following the martial way you not only grow physically but also expand your mind as well. It grows like a great tree from a tiny seed gradually drawing limitless energy and liberating all your strength.

Let me put it this way, if you were to visualise in your mind an event such as: a sudden vicious attack on your person in a way that it actually makes you believe it’s happening and to do this you have to give yourself commands from deep inside the centre of your mind until you feel focused and powerful. Yes, you do have to practise a few times to make it work sorry.

Then manifest it into realty by bringing it into your consciousness and the centre of your mind. Actually see the person who wants to hurt you, the surroundings, the smells everything to make it seem real. Then deal with the situation using techniques you have learned see a picture of yourself like a movie beating the attacker and then you walking away victorious.

What you have just done is taught yourself to visualise a situation or scenario and how to deal with it without making any actual physical body movement. It’s called visualisation.

Best of all, if you keep practising visualisation you’ll become relaxed and harmonious master of your own mind in other words, become one both physically and mentally. Remember this imagination is your best tool. I know I’ve mentioned this before but believe me it works.

In short, the range of situations you can imagine yourself in is only governed by your own imagination not only that but it allows you to be able to train anywhere you like, your mind can find you in the street the dojo you can train even if your sick and lying in bed.

But you are not just going to learn to us e your mind for visualising your also going to find out exactly how you can use it in your daily 21st century life to become an urban warrior?

You’re going to discover about real self-defence and how by flowing and flying with its power you can go beyond mind imaging. Over the last 40 years I have been extremely fortunate to study several different martial arts under some of the world’s top people.

As a result I’m bursting with information I want to share with you so you operate with maximum effectiveness in this violent modern world. A generation ago most of what you are learning today was kept absolutely secret and passed on strictly to the chosen few. But know the time for security is past.

It’s been no secret among experienced people involved in combat of any kind that simple techniques are the only ones that have any chance of working in a real fight. By simple, I do mean basic gross motor moves no flashy Hollywood type actions at all.

Moreover, it’s the same with your thoughts and actions simple works, reaction time is quicker when you have less choice. For example, if you have only one way to walk from A to B you will do it much faster than if I gave you three different ways of doing the same thing.

Because your minds database will search for an answer thus, delaying your decision it will say OOh! Which way should I go this or that way this delay in combat can cost you dear. With only one way to go you have no choice to make. Get my point?

If you combine this principle called Hicks law by way, with simple combative techniques then your whole body and mind will move and act as one unit mind, body and spirit making you utterly unstoppable. Understand these principles of combat and you’ll understand the basis of self-defence.

To emphasis my point, in combat what is the single most damaging and dangerous thing you can do? Hesitate.

As an urban warrior if attacked you must use your flinch reflexes and counter attack immediately in order to reverse the situation form prey to predator otherwise your demise end, may be closer than you think.

That’s why I advocate using simple self-defence tactics so much.

Having 100s of different techniques in your database is not necessarily going to help you because as I have pointed out earlier it will actually slow your reaction time down as your mind trawls through to find the right response to the attack.

So if there is a secret to surviving a physical attack it is to learn only what you need to know to ward of trouble. Briefly, when your mind is focused it becomes all-powerful allowing you to move easily and effortlessly and that’s what works best in self-defence you’ll feel invincible.

For the modern martial arts is synthesiser of east and west pre-modern and post-modern seemingly able to encompass strands of combative and martial knowledge but one thing they all agree on is this? Visualisation combined with the physical training is increasingly important in achieving combat success.

All this is provided with a guiding emphasis on visualisation and meditation which increasingly is being held by western psychology as the key to understanding the type of attacks being used and how the body reacts to fear of the same, adrenalin dump fight or flight syndrome to name just a few.

I use the above techniques and principles outlined in this article. It’s kept me safe and head level.

Now all you have to do is just close your eyes and connect with your inner Urban Warrior.

Stay safe.

Buzz Campion.

Herb Gardening For the Urban Cultivator

When we think of starting a garden, the first location to plant that come to mind is the great out doors, usually in a back yard a small plot of land close to where we live. Surprisingly, gardens can also be cultivated indoors in pots or containers of various sizes. Window boxes or hanging baskets provide an excellent place to grow herbs indoors. Growing herbs in this way is just as comfortable as growing them in an outdoor garden.

The same requirements are needed for growing an indoor garden as is for an outdoor garden.

When you get right down to it, all plants need three basic requirements to grow successfully; and they are sunlight, soil and water. Herbs are no different. Sunlight is important to growing any kind of plant, not withstanding herbs, whether they are grown indoors or in an outside garden. When growing herbs indoors, whether in your kitchen or other room, you should place them in a south or west facing window to get the best type of sunlight. Reasonably, various types of herbs will require different lighting, but, for the most part, the sunny location is needed by all. Many home growers make up for the lack of sunlight in their homes by supplementing the source of light with “grow lamps” or fluorescent lamps. This is a must for the city dweller, growing an indoor garden. When planting herbs indoors, you also need soil that is a well drained, but not too rich, to grow in. Blend two parts of sterilized potting soil along with one part coarse sand or perlite for herbs grown in containers. Also, you will need an inch of gravel at the bottom of each pot to make sure the plant has ample drainage. Growing indoors, in pots, also can be supplemented with one teaspoon or 5 milligrams of lime per 5-inch pot to make certain the soil is sweet enough for the herbs. Herbs grown in pots, or “potted” herbs need water as well. Misting the plants with sprayers and moistening the pebbles will assist in keeping the crop in good humid conditions. Herbs grown in containers, will need to have more water then the same type herbs that are grown in an outdoor garden, however, it is important to avoid getting their roots drenched or soggy.

You will find all herbs can be grown in containers, making it convenient to do your gardening indoors or outdoors, like with anything else, some herbs do better then others. An herb that needs to be contained is mint, or it will overtake the garden. It is over all fairly easy to take care of an indoor herb garden. Growing herbs indoors keep the herbs ready and within reach anytime you want them for cooking. With these tips, you will be able to maintain your herbs and ensure a healthy garden whether you choose to plant your herb garden indoors or out. It is recommended you include also periodic light feeding and repot yearly for optimum health of your herbs. Also, don’t forget to replant annuals each year and take perennials outdoors when needed. Use your herbs as much as you like as well as harvest them from time to time. It is no secret, pruning plants promotes new growth. The same also applies to herbs. Use your herbs in your recipes, store them for future use and remember to give some away to friends.