8 Lessons Learned About Survival Preparedness from Japan’s Disaster

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PhD, points out in his many videos, the earth is NOT your friend.  Dropped down naked in almost any spot on earth you will survive less than 48 hours.  Accept that as a fact and then proceed to make sure you are never without the tools needed to survive.

In Japan, we see a nearly perfect storm of events (earthquake, tsunami, cold weather, rolling black outs, and atomic plant breakdowns) that is turning into a killer; not just of people but also of national economies.

The Science

japanese survival

The basic natural cause of this disaster is that the earth’s crust is divided into tremendous plates that move in various directions based on the magma currents deep in the earth’s core. Since these plates move in random directions they collide with, scrape by and spread apart from each other. Each type of boundary has its own unique geography and disaster potential. In the Atlantic, the crusts are spreading, thus the volcanoes in Iceland and the mid-Atlantic ridge. Along the western coasts of Mexico and southern California the plates are sliding next to each other, thus the many smaller  to medium quakes with small or no tsunamis. On the western side of the Pacific and in an arch from northern California through Oregon, Washington, Canada and Alaska one plate is sliding under (subduction) another; this is the Cascadia fault.

japanese nuclear crisis

These subduction zones create the most dangerous quakes in terms of tsunami generation. These quakes, called mega-thrust quakes result in massive movements of the earth (in Indonesia a thrust fault 600 miles long unzipped) with the size of the tsunami determined by the length of the fault and the magnitude of the quake. Japan was a large quake but only a small area was involved. The Cascadia fault is about the same size and shape as the Indonesian fault but it has not had any seismic activity for over a hundred years. When it lets go (as it must) it will be a huge quake over a long distance creating an event with massive tsunamis through out the Pacific.

japanese nuclear crisis

The problem for Japan is that they designed for a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Since the magnitude scale is logarithmic an 8 is 10 times worse than a 7 and a 9 is 100 times worse than a 7. This quake was 50 times stronger that was planned for.  In spite of that, it wasn’t the quake that did the worst damage, it was the tsunami.  Being prepared would not have helped many as their homes and all they had just washed away. Entire trains running along the coast are still missing. The problems with the atomic reactors revolve around damage to the cooling systems (not the reactor systems). While the reactors survived intact despite being under designed, their cooling systems were not up to the same standards.

japanese nuclear fallout

It was assumed that if any single reactor had problems, rapid repairs could be made before major issues came up.  The quake and tsunami proved that a false assumption.  Another problem is that all reactor users store spent fuel rods in large pools of cooling water. Since these are not the active fuel rods they are not in containment building like the reactors. When the cooling goes away, the water begins to boil off these “spent” rods which are still very hot in terms of both temperature and radioactivity.   Eventually these rods uncover, heat up and cause additional explosions without a containment vessel to hold in the radioactive particles.  This appears to have now happened on at least one site. Japan is on the verge of an economic disaster to go with the physical disaster already playing out.

The US is not likely to see a Japan style disaster on any of the east coasts.  The east coasts are susceptible to earthquakes and hurricanes. There are rare events that could cause a tsunami along the east coast (Volcano eruption in the Canary Islands causing a land slide there triggering a tsunami) but unlikely to be as large as Indonesia’s tsunami. The west coasts are more vulnerable. There are also possible disasters from volcanic events that could be devastating. In a disaster scenario one of the problems is always to ensure your survival preparations will survive. If you live in an earthquake zone your preparations do you no good if your house collapses and burns with your supplies inside. In a tsunami zone, what you have on you is what you have; nothing more. Running for their lives, the Japanese had no time to pack needed supplies. The Japanese are a different culture than us, more ordered and trusting of their rulers. That trust is already eroding and the entire country is beginning to panic. When a culture like theirs starts to panic and horde food, it is in a very dangerous place.

Global SHTF

japan nuclear crisis

What may well be happening in Japan now is a slow speed, global SHTF event, right in front of our eyes but unrecognized. Japan is the second largest trading partner for the US, for China and for most of the EU. The world economy is going to take a pounding from this event.  This does not bode well for economies that were already struggling to recover in difficult times.  Already companies around the world are feeling a pinch due to their global supply chain relying on Japan to produce a certain type of product or resource. Japan has stopped much of its manufacturing and exporting. Financial houses are selling foreign (US) investments to have money for the rebuilding efforts. Prices will go higher based on uncertainty and fear. Even if we are spared another geological disaster, an economic one seems almost inevitable. Already crimes like gasoline theft are becoming more common and the locking gas cap does not help as the gas tank is simply punctured. As more jobs go away people will become more desperate and society more frayed. A very uneasy time that we should take as a warning to make sure all of our preparations are as up to speed as we can get them.

Lessons Learned

Japan Nuclear Fallout

Here are some of the “lessons learned” that we have observed from the Japanese crisis.  It is worth noting that Japan is a homogeneous society with almost 99% of the population of Japanese descent.  Their culture is also based on honor and dignity which is why we have not seen wide spread riots and looting.  This makes some of the lessons learned difficult to translate over to North America because we (@ SurvivalCache) believe the fabric of our society would unravel much quicker if the same type of disaster struck a major region of the United States.

Fuel plan

This is the Achilles heel of a lot of people’s bug out and bug in plans.  They have done all this planning for a natural or man made disaster, only to find out when the disaster strikes that their vehicle’s fuel tank is on empty or they have no way to heat their home.  We have seen reports of mile long lines at Japanese gas stations, stretching for many city blocks.  Think about your gas and fuel plan today!  Think about a fuel stabilizer today!  Gasoline goes bad over time so you need to buy a fuel stabilizer and rotate your stored gas every 8 to 12 months.  It is an easy process to plan for but so many people do not do it.  Also plan to heat your home with an alternative source of fuel.  Propane heaters and wood burning stoves come to mind (if you have access to wood).

72 Hour Kit

72 hour kits

Needs to be with you at all times.  In the back of your car or stored at your work if you commute by train or bus.  Note: This is not your Bug Out Bag, this is a simple 72 kit that could sustain you for a few days.  Your Bug Out Bag should be able to sustain you for at least a week if not for perpetual survival.  Many Japanese people are left to beg and fend for themselves because they were not able to grab enough supplies before they left their homes.  The Earthquake hit at about 6:00 am local time and was followed by massive tsunami waves.  When the sirens go off, one of those packs should be on your back (72 hour kit or Bug Out Bag) as you walk out the door.  The Japanese people are probably the most prepared on earth.  They live with the threat of massive earthquakes and tsunamis everyday.  To see a nation of prepared people get overwhelmed by this event has been eye opening experience.

Bug Out Bag

Japan Nuclear Crisis

Most people keep their bags at their home.  If you don’t have one, consider this your wake up call. Japan is a 1st world country with all of the modern conveniences of the United States and maybe more.  It happened in the United States with Hurricane Katrina and it will happen here again, it is not a matter of  “If” only a matter of “When”.  The reports of the Japanese Government not reaching some of the affected areas for 3 to 4 days should concern everyone.  The best Bug Out Bag plan is one that is completely self contained and does not rely on help from Governments or other people for assistance.  Water, Food, Shelter, Fire, Clothing, Protection, Barter – you must cover all of these to ensure that you and your loved ones are ready for anything (click here to see our survival store).

Food Plan

hungry people in japan after tsunami

Reports that Japanese people have had to go without food for 2 to 3 days is shocking in a 1st world country (watch video of Japan Bug Out).  This is another example of why you cannot simply rely on the government for your family’s safety.  It took the Japanese Government days to reach affected areas of the tsunami and Japan is a relatively small country compared to the United States.  Shelf stable food should be kept in a number of places.  Your home, Bug Out Bag, 72 Hour Car Kit, and even work.  Next time you are at the grocery store pick up a few extra cans of food or some rice and store it in a separate location from the food you regularly consume.  It may come in handy down the road.

Water plan

japan tsunami

Reports from Japan of people not having fresh water for 2 to 3 days have been followed up by new scares of the tap water being contaminated with radiation, this is another eye opener.  Having a good water plan is vital to your families survivability in a crisis.  There are a lot of products we have come across SuperTanker, WaterBob, Berkey Water Filters, and a personal favorite Aquamira Water Heater Adapter and the Frontier Pro Water Filter (they work together to turn your water heater into a stored tank of drinkable water).  These products can assist you with your crisis planning.  Note: that “water” can not be radioactive unless the Tritium form of hydrogen is present (the H3 isotote – very rare on earth and of no concern here). It is the natural minerals dissolved it the water that is radioactive and makes what is commonly called ‘radioactive water’.  Adequate filtering will give good drinking water if you know how to do it.

Shelter Plan

Survival Shelter

I have heard this time and time again, “I don’t ever plan to ever bug out, I have all of my preps right here in my home.  Why should I leave?”  Everyone should look to Japan as an example, you need to have a back up portable shelter (tent, tarp, camper, etc).  There may come a time, for whatever reason, that your home becomes unlivable, meaning that if you stay in your home you will die.  Now is the time to start planning for this contingency.

Mass Evacuation Planning

The Japanese Government has asked people within 20 miles of the nuclear reactors to stay at home and seal their homes.  The US Government has told its citizens to move out past 50 miles from the reactors.  When I heard this I was thinking that if I was in Japan, I would be going much further than 50 miles from those reactors and that is exactly what happened.  People decided to bug out with many foreign nationals leaving the country all together.  The Japanese Government lost credibility much the same way the US Government lost credibility during Hurricane Katrina.  Get a good detailed map of your area and learn the back roads, old highway systems, rail road lines, high power line paths, etc.  We also recommend getting a topographical map of your area from the USGS. Use the terrain mapping of these maps or even Google Earth to find areas that will be impassible during bad weather or likely choke points to cause severe traffic issues.   Remember, in a mass evacuation the sheep will flock to the interstate system, as it will seem like the fastest way out of dodge.  With high guard rails and limited exits your car could become trapped on the interstate.  Focus on the “The Road Not Taken” and it will make all the difference.

Everyday Carry

Another lesson from Japan is to review your EDC (Everyday Carry), this disaster struck so quick that many people did not have a chance to grab their 72 Hour Kit or Bug Out Bag.  Their homes were literally washed away in an instant.  What they had on their person at the time of the tsunami are the only survival tools they would have for days.  There are many forums out there where you can get good ideas for your Everyday Carry, here are some basics (knife, watch, parachord wrist band, mobile phone, flashlight, pistol, spare mag, fire starter)

Please share other lessons you learned below.

All photos by:

Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

47 thoughts on “8 Lessons Learned About Survival Preparedness from Japan’s Disaster”

  1. This is an example of a very disciplined people who, even after the event, behaved in a manner that is unknown in our "it's all about me" entitlement society of America. The complete destruction of homes is a prime reason why one must carry their "walk out" gear with them at all times. Realize that we (America) would have faced immediate risk from questionable people taking advantage of a situation. We would face risk from the event, the environment, and predators. Everyone should plan on 72hrs on your own before resources can get mobilized to provide life-sustaining elements (food/water/shelter). I know I'm preaching to the choir on this site, but as I heard one survivalist state, "America is 9 meals away from anarchy!"

    • "Realize that we (America) would have faced immediate risk from questionable people taking advantage of a situation."

      All the more reason to live in a "gun friendly" state, get your CCW (Here in VA it's a CHP- concealed handgun permit, ONLY covers handguns!), and carry a good, stout, reliable firearm everywhere you can. Also don't forget extra mags & extra ammo (I have seen people keep extra mags but no ammo to fill them!). For my pistol, an M1911 .45ACP, which would be the primary defensive weapon (till I got home) in an emergency; I keep 6 extra mags (3 loaded), basic cleaning kit, basic repair kit (a few springs, pins, barrel (all parts which *could* possibly fail when I need it and fairly easy repairs),and tools), along with 150 rounds of ammo (50 230gr Federal Hydra-shocks, 50 185gr Hornady TAP, 50 230gr Winchester FMJ) not including what is loaded in the 3 loaded stored mags, my 2 hip carry mags and of course the mag in my 1911! I think if you are going to carry a weapon, you need to #1 know how to fix problems with it; and #2 have the tools/parts to fix common wear parts… But then again I am anal-retentive about having my firearm ready if I need it!

    • "The complete destruction of homes is a prime reason why one must carry their "walk out" gear with them at all times." – excellent observation. I saw a story of an 80-something lady who was on her bike when the quake/tsunami hit. She felt the shaking and started pedaling toward higher ground. She made it because she didn't waste time trying to pick up anything; she went with what she had. She is a survivor. Those who tried to get their stuff together often didn't make it.

  2. Wobbly-1… DEFINITELY agree with the "America is 9 meals away from anarchy!", However under most extreme circumstances I could see things getting crazy rough a hell of a lot quicker!

    As mentioned in the article, most of the Japanese people have a profound sense of honor, dignity, respect, community and duty. I have been fascinated by their cuisine/culture since I started reading about it as a kid, and one of my "must do before I die" things is to travel to Tokyo and hit as many of the traditional and trendy restaurants as possible… and then travel to Kyoto, to try Kobe beef, fresh off the steer, along with many other local delicacies that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
    But I digress…

    The Japanese had a hell of a wallop come their way! I think they are doing extremely well considering all the damage. I also believe that the afore mentioned attitude of their "average citizen" will play a key role in the reconstruction phase of this disaster. One thing that will be extremely NUTS coming out of this is during the rebuilding of structures, chances are the public will demand the structures be able to withstand higher magnitude earthquakes. The problem being, #1 there is no way to make a structure 100% earthquake safe, let alone any building that will be occupied and used by people #2 If things go really wrong with the reactor, then folks won't be able to return and an even larger swath of Japan might need to be evacuated. #3Even if everything works out and the radiation that has leached out can be contained, the reactors and their support systems are rebuilt, and the city is rebuilt like the "Bionic Man (better, stronger, faster than he was… Shannannannnanna), there will always be a stigma associated with it as the site of a nuclear accident, research how housing/population was affected by the 3-mile island incident (wasn't even remotely close to as serious as the Japan situation, which will further damage the Japanese economy and eventually the world #4 The cost of rebuilding the city to withstand heavier earthquakes will be tremendously expensive, so Japan is going to be paying through-the-nose for the supplies needed to reinforce the structures and is running the risk of not having a population to speak of returning to the city!

    I just pray that the world learns some lessons from this tragedy! I don't know what else it will take for governments to realize #1 It's better to just tell the truth, it will come out eventually whether you want it to or not! #2 Federal and State emergency organizations need to tell folks to get gear/food/supplies together for several weeks (at least) rather than 3 days! #3 Every country should re-evaluate their nuclear infrastructure, all it takes is Mr Murphy to catch you off guard (he is known for his excellent timing!) 1 good time, and your BONED! I live within 25mi (as the crow flies -OR- as the radiation floats!) of a nuclear plant, I happen to know several security guys from the plant. While they say they can't answer most of my questions about security/emergency preparedness (for security reasons), they tend to get the "deer in the headlights" look whenever I ask how likely it is that a natural disaster/terrorist attack could knock out the plant and fry everyone for 50 miles. Unfortunately, one of them, while not answering my question said that 50mi would be one of those "if you are extremely lucky, and the stars align", he said 120mi is more likely! SCARY!!!

    I also SERIOUSLY hope that individuals see this and realize that they need to look out for themselves, or at least prepare to… The worst that happens is you have stuff stocked up and don't need it because of a major event, I don't know about anyone else, but I sleep easier knowing my family is set for at least 3-5 mo (with the garden this year, hopefully we can get to 6-9 mo. prepped!), but how stupid are the nay-Sayers going to feel if something happens and they don't have "a pot to piss in"?!
    Thanks guys… I will step off my soap-box now!

  3. Whoever said that America was nine meals away from anarchy was an optimist! Look at L.A. and the Rodney King verdicts and you will realize that your area is nine minutes away from anarchy. Bright sunny afternoon one minute and total anarchy spreading across the country the next!

    Same with Japan! They are/were much more prepared then we are as a Goverment. But the Japanese FEMA did no better then ours did in Katrina. Similar double whammy disaster! Same lesson to be learned: the Goverment won’t be there to pull your chestnuts out of the fire. The people who survived Katrina basically bootstrapped themselfes out not anybody. Japan and Katrine are by definition WTSHTF events and the 72 hour rule is actually more like 7 – 12 days ( Bug In or Out). Start thnking about what that means to you and yours.

    Some commuters in Japan were 4 days getting back to home areas only to find land wipe clean of all land marks and a debris feild where their block was!

    These are some of the lessons I’m taking from Japan.

    • Several corrections.
      It was NEVER FEMAs purpose to pull any ones chestnuts out of the fire. That has always been the individuals responsibility. The local and state agencies failed. And failed big time.
      The vast majority of the people of NO got the hell out, on their own, with 5 days of notification. Those who remained behind were of two types. Those who were prepared and those, the majority, who had chestnuts laying out for the world to step on. Too many of them still live in Houston and are busy screwing Houston up.
      Look around your city or town. It is obvious who is who.
      Take the lessons from Japan and NO.
      Liberty is freedom with responsibility. It goes hand in hand. Without one the other means nothing.

      • Tejano red,
        You are absolutely correct and social security was never (and is not now) intended to be a retirement plan. Tell that to the politicians and the sheeple who listen to them. I can point out all day long that the Feds couldn't (by law) go into NO until they were asked but what's the point? "THEY" failed the sheeple and now "THEY" owe them!

        You sound like you live in Houston – you are quite correct about what is going on here. Check the crime stats for what is happening. Those who GOOD and came here have jobs and are good citizens. Those the government bussed here won't go home and don't seem interested in getting jobs either.

        Liberty is freedom with responsibility. Without responsibility, it is license and THAT is a civilization killer. And so we prepare.

        • What I was saying was that Japan was a wake up call to anybody on the fence about prepping. The the 72 hour thing that is touted by the California Goverment is a joke and that it isn’t a realistic plan. I was also stating that, as a reminder, that relaying on the “Goverment” is a recipe for being found floating face down.

          The idea of the post was to state, flat out, that you need to prepare and think it out or you are going to not make it. I am not going to make any argument about NO or FEMA and I thought that was where I was going with that thread.

          • Ben,
            I think you succeeded in your intent. For those of us still living with the aftermath of Katrina (here in Texas) we are sensitive to the failures of the government agencies. The clean trash can full of supplies that the government urges all of us civil servants to have is such a pathetic joke that it is insulting. But we learned nothing from Katrina, as Ike demonstrated. The difference was that Texans tend to do it ourselves, just like the folks hit by Katrina that were not in NO. You are never told that Katrina actually MISSED NO and they were on the WEAK side of the storm. Mississippi was hit much harder and recovered much more quickly but that is a lesson the government doesn't want the sheeple to learn.

          • Thanks Capt.

            The Goverment has, and always will, a vested in keeping the sheeple dependent on them. About the only positive is that while the sheeple wait for the permission to survive the sheepdogs (preppers) will be out front.

            Like your posts, BTW, very thoughtful and thought provoking without being snarky or condecending.
            Thanks again,

  4. Nice to see a little Robert Frost mixed in with a survival website "Focus on the “The Road Not Taken” and it will make all the difference." – Perfect

    The Road Not Taken:
    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  5. I think the problem will be that most don't take lessons from this sort of situation. Because US news outlets are over-sensationalizing the story, it looks more like a movie than something to be learned from. I think that some will see this for what it is but the vast majority will go on believing that it can't happen to them, to their town, city, whatever.

    • Ever since I was a basic trainee at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo, I've known that the only thing we learn from 'lessons learned' is that we learn absolutely nothing from 'Lessons Learned'! Humans have a bias toward the 'normal' – what usually happens is what we expect to happen. I've labeled it the 'it hasn't killed anyone yet' mindset at work – makes lots of folks uncomfortable.
      The lesson that has been missed time and time again at reactor sites is that the cooling pools for spent rods are outside the containment vessel and are not treated with the same level of care since they are not in a 'pile' and are not critical mass. The Japanese were prepared for a single event, not for multiple problems and they didn't focus on the mundane things like cooling systems that were not 'nuclear' items. They set up their own black swan – absolutely foreseeable but unforeseen. I fear we are in the same boat here in the US but we won't deal with it – the very definition of a black swan – foreseeable but unforeseen.

      • Nonsense. If Its Predictable then It Is Preventable. What may be missing is the Will.
        Thank you for your service.

        • Sorry but I must respectfully disagree with the totality of that statement. Earthquakes are very predictable ( they are going to hit certain areas) and completely un-preventable ( ain’t nothing you can do to stop them). Plan for the worst and hope for the best is all you can do about them. Most other daisater you are more right on about. JMHO


          • Ben,
            Yes and no. Anyone who wants to look, knows that there will be a major quake on the Cascadia fault. They KNOW that San Francisco will be destroyed. They know that there will be major tsunamis on America's West coast. We've seen it in Alaska and South America in my lifetime. They just don't believe it will happen to them or during their lifetime and if it does it won't be that bad and if it is 'THEY' will come in and make it all right. The expectation of quakes all less than a magnitude 7 is what bites them.

            In Phoenix they built bridges for the "100 year flood". A flood that is so big you only experience one every 100 years. The first 5 years I was in Phoenix we had four "100 year floods". No one wanted to pay for the 500 year flood because we'd just had a 100 year flood so we were solid for at least a 100 years (or 6 months, whichever came first).

            Unfortunately, Earthquake prediction is too much like weather prediction in its infancy. I can tell you there is an 85% chance of a major quake on the Cascadia fault within the next 10 years and I can tell you it will be magnitude 7 or larger but so what? Sheeple aren't going to move out of Seattle on the chance of a quake in 10 years, maybe. Hence, even with the certainty of disaster, we don't take precautions. The grasshopper KNEW winter was coming. He KNEW he would freeze and starve. But he wasn't able to delay gratification for the sake of survival. In the end, he thought 'they' (in this case the ant) owed him enough to survive the winter. He was wrong – dead wrong.

            I don't live in California because I can't see a quake coming like I can a storm. I know one is coming but not knowing when I won't put myself in that much risk. There is no SAFE place, there are only more or less dangerous places. Those living in denial won't admit that they could be killed by 'mother earth' in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. Normalcy bias may well kill them.

  6. First off I wasnt to say I have always been a fan of this site. My problem here is everyone talking about the entire nuclear situation without a full understanding of what actually happened. I have am a mechanical engineer with a minor in nuclear engineering and work at a nuclear power plant. The spent fuel was not a problem until its containment cracked and it leaked water. Spent fuel cannot be kept in primary containment due to the huge size of the spent fuel pool.

    It is personally insulting to me that someone mentioned that Japan did not care about "non nuclear" things such as cooling. LOCA are one of the most common accidents practiced in the nuclear community. The nuke community is an internation thing, with only participating countries being allowed to proliferate. The nuclear industry is very safe internationally, and I do not think people who are uneducated in the matter should be pointing fingers about things they know nothing about.

    • "… I do not think people who are uneducated in the matter should be pointing fingers about things they know nothing about."

      (1) Then obviously you are going to have to completely and totally shut down the mainstream media.

      (2) People have been doing that since Homo Sapiens Sapiens developed viable language(s). Exact date unknown but probably at least 100,000+ years ago. This is especially true in situations where people have been harmed. They may not totally understand the situation, but they realize that they've been seriously hosed and talking about it helps them deal with it.

      While your point about the vast majority of people not knowing anything about the nuclear power industry is well taken, the only real solution is for those that do have the knowledge to attempt to instruct others. Especially given that one obviously can't depend on the mainstream media to do so. So, after simply pointing out that unnecessarily insulting your "students"/audience is probably not the best way to do business, could you help us generate more light than heat on this subject?

    • Guest,
      Perhaps I've missed the post but I don't remember seeing a post that said the Japanese didn't care about cooling the spent rod pools. I believe I pointed out that the spent fuel rods are not treated with the same level of concern as the reactors. The spent fuel pools are supposed to be temporary storage until the rods can be transported to permanent storage. The 'black swan event' of multiple reactors/fuel pools losing cooling water (and as importantly – waste water disposal) could have been foreseen for a country in a quake/tsunami zone.

      You said,"The spent fuel was not a problem until its containment cracked and it leaked water." That is exactly the point. This was an event that was "foreseeable" but unforeseen. The quake alone wasn't the problem. The quake/tsunami combination causing damage to all 6 of the reactors and destroying/damaging the cooling systems of all of them was what was beyond the ability of the design to withstand. Any single reactor problem would have been safely dealt with and the news media would have had to find something else to fill their headlines.

      The question is will the rest of the world's atomic/nuclear industry learn or will we continue to ignore the plausible but unlikely events. I, too, have spent a little time with atomic plants and with nuclear weapons. I don't discuss weaknesses that are not already known as a matter of prudence. I think the Germans are making a huge mistake in trying to go non-atomic. Properly managed, the plants are safe, the power is clean and steady. We get into trouble when political expediency requires the spent rods to stay at the reactors well beyond the time they should have been transported to permanent storage for instance. Political games have killed millions around the world and continue to do so. Part of our motive for preparing is that we don't trust the politicians. I guess I don't see why you are "personally insulted" since no one accused anyone of negligence, malice, or malfeasance; only of the rather human tendency to expect that tomorrow will be very much like today.

  7. The point made about everyday carry and items one should always have on their person is well taken. I almost literally never leave home without my Victorinox "Swiss Tool" (Leatherman equivalent). Regardless of which variant made by which company you get, IMHO this is a "must have".

    While it can potentially be used as a weapon, it's more important use is to build other weapons and items that you need. Using the wood saw and the knife blade you can cut and carve reasonably sized pieces of wood to serve as clubs, canes, walking sticks, spears, etc.. It is important to remember that back in the day our ancestors were hunting things using nothing more than pointed sticks, fire and teamwork that I would be reluctant to go after with an assault rifle.

    Speaking of fire, one of the other things which I never leave home without is one of those fire starters that consist of a small block of magnesium with some flint embedded along one edge. With that plus the Swiss Tool to strike the sparks I can get a fire going if I really need one.

    • We are of like mind. The Swiss knife, Leatherman (I've had clones and won't use them anymore – I go for the archetype) and magnesium fire starter are always there. I find the can opener blade the most used. I add a survival whistle that has a compass (rough but good enough for general direction), magnifier lens, thermometer, and signal mirror. About the size of a tube of lipstick but if you think about the folks who were rescued after calling for help for several days, that whistle could be extremely valuable. The additions only increase its value.

    • I agree fully with this. I have recently been spending much more time (time=money) on my EDC. I love it and find it to help me get into a better prepper mind set on a daily basis. It has really taught me two is one and one is none. Keychain, pockets, and backpack all have a blade, flashlight, and some sort of multi tool. Been trying to get better at the EDC firestarter. Have some water/wind proof matches and a lighter in the pack and my zippo in the pocket. Need to get another firesteel for the pack i guess. Not enough room on the keychain for a split pea lighter anymore.

  8. EDC wise I keep a Swiss Army Knife and a pinch light on my keychain. I had a small compass on it as well , just enough to know that when you dial 911 from the 3rd floor of a building you can tell them you're on the NE side of the building- or what ever, but it broke. I need a new compass. I also cary a small book bag with a water bottle clipped to it, inside the book bag there's another small flashlight, some Advil, band-aides, a knife sharpened, a little bit of food, a book, maybe a pair of sunglasses or gloves. O' and a Tide Pen. I might never get stuck on the NE corner of the 3rd floor of a burning building, but I will get food on my shirt, guaranteed.

  9. the biggest problem is we don't know when it will hit or where it will hit or who it will hit. i been 9 days without power, heat and water. it was rough, but we had a plan in place. ice and snow aside,
    we stuck to the plan and kept each other warm, slept in shifts to conserve energy and hoped that the lights and water would come back on. Knowing full well we were on our own we made it. now radiation is falling all over the place from japan 's disaster turning it into everyones disaster

    • Bob,
      Having a plan and the supplies to carry it out makes all the difference. Congratulations, sir, on being prepared. It is like pilots training for an engine failure. You hope you never find out how well you will handle the emergency, but if you ever actually have to deal with the problem, it sure feels good to know you did not freeze up. We all hope our kids have to decide what to do with all of our survival stuff after we die of old age, but it is a good feeling to know you successfully dealt with a SHTF event.

      • "slept in shifts to conserve energy" Can you please elaborate? I would think everyone should huddle together and sleep while its dark.

  10. After the panic subsides a bit over the Japanese reactors it might be a good time to review your NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) plan. I carry a small, key ring mounted, detector called a 'NUK Alert' that sounds off on a somewhat gross scale about radiation levels. It works reasonably well based on experience with medical isotopes at a friendly doctors lab. Not a dosimeter but I don't plan on hanging around long enough to need one.

    The laughter at the duct tape and plastic sheets for chemical was misplaced. Turns out that properly used (you have to block all air inlets (around the power plugs for example) you can buy yourself a bit of time. Care must be taken not to get into carbon monoxide issues in a sealed room but it will keep you safe from a non-persistent chemical release. (weapons can be a different issue but I'm mainly worried about the plants on the Houston Ship Channel).

    Bio defense depends on where you live and what you perceived as the most likely threat. In general, good hygiene and staying out of crowds works reasonably well. For more detailed threats, more explicit measures need to be taken.

    There is much to be learned from the Japanese disaster. Perhaps the biggest is something we should have learned from Katrina. The government will not 'ride to the rescue' within 3 days, 3 weeks or, for some, 3 years. When they do get there, you as an individual will not be their top priority. They are there to 'contain' (short circuit the news field day) the 'situation' (you and everyone else that is making the government look bad). If they happen to help you, that is fine but the important thing for them is to appear to be doing something constructive, regardless of the real result. Ask the folks in New Orleans who had their legal firearms confiscated about how well that worked out for them individually.

    • I strongly urge everyone to take the time to understand the basics of nuclear radiation. The fact that it can be detected and even measured does not by itself constitute a danger. The media sure as hell is not helping us out. A goggle search turns up all kinds of books NOT written by or for the average person. Or web sites regurgitaing the same worng information and fear thats on the MSM every night. (Fear Sells). If they are using anything but actual measured units, Real Numbers, they should be looked at as suspect.

      • Tejano red,
        Spot on. Radiation is invisible and hence scary. What people don't know can kill them but what they THINK they know can get them just as dead. Most folks don't know the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation; the level of background radiation where they live; the amount of radiation on a jet flight; or even the fact that the effects of ionizing radiation are cumulative. They also don't know WHY they might want to use iodine tablets and when. Finally, most don't know that one of the biggest dangers to the unprotected may well be the fact that many elements like uranium and plutonium are extremely poisonous and you will likely die from toxic metal ingestion (aka heavy metal poisoning – this stuff is worse than lead) before the radiation has a chance to kill you.

        Interesting to me is the effect that media has had on our culture. The "oh, the humanity" line from the Hindenburg crash followed by film in the theaters killed the airship as a mode of transportation. Most people today don't know that of the 97 on board, 35 died. Approximately a 60% survival rate. In Tenerife the collision of two 747 aircraft killed 583 out of 583 but there was no 'film at 11' and no commentary. A 0 % survival rate but people still get on airliners.

        The videos and interviews of the bombings of Japan plus the success of the anti-nuclear movement to put images of suffering people in front of the world have given many the idea that if even one Alpha particle hits you, you are dead. Foolish, but as Morris the cartoon cat is fond of saying,"If you see it on TV, it must be true." Uninformed sheeple are easier to lead so emotion, panic, fear takes the place of fact and we accused the Soviets of propaganda. Pravda indeed!

  11. Location, situation, duration, plans. Situational awareness is the key to any survival scenario.
    Location: If you live in a coastal area that has suffered tidal surges, waves or flooding you need to be able to make it to high ground at the drop of a hat. If your area is prone to tidal waves like some coasts in Japan you will not have time to pack. You need stuff in your car or at least ready to grab and go like a 72 hour kit or Bug Out Bag. If you live in a city with a large, rude population (like LA) you should be prepared to get out of town.
    Situation: It’s really f’ing bad = Get out of Dodge. It’s not that bad = Stay in place.
    Duration: This is going to last forever = Gather everything you can. It’ll take a few days = Eat the stuff that will spoil before it spoils.

  12. Plans: All plans should be discussed with all members of the family or group. Plans for historically based, most likely scenarios. Start from one extreme and go to the other. Example: Small fire – We put it out. Fire storm – We run for the lake. Some people will die rather than change plans. No plan is perfect. Stay flexible to changing situations. Have contingencies. Starting from these plans you can adapt to other general purpose scenarios. Stay safe and stay aware… Stay aware and stay safe!

    • "No plan is perfect". Just so, however having 'no plan' is disastrous. You are quite right about plans. You must have them and then you must be willing to change to meet the changing situation. Inevitably there will be ringers in whatever happens that are unforeseen. People either survive by luck or they survive by being prepared and adaptable. I don't plan to trust to luck to get my family through a rough spot.

  13. My EDC is a Leatherman, a lockblade knife, a micro Surefire, a Brinkman 2 cell, whistle and a tiny first aid kit. The whole “one is none thing.”

    I just always carried that stuff and now I find out I have an EDC! Who knew? Now I am trying to build on to what I do: my “Get Home Kit”‘, BOB, and a place to BO to. The wife is in the “that’s nice dear” mode. But from other posts on other topics I proably not alone there.

    • No Ben, you are obviously not alone. There are plenty of like minded people out here. It's funny that you had an EDC before you even knew it. I was the same way, and I also was stocking food and water long before I found out that I am a "prepper". Like you said, "who knew?".

      My wife was pretty much the same for a while, and at first didn't like that I carry my gun with me everywhere. Fortuneately, one of her friends (who used to be married to a LEO), explained to her that it was for our family's protection and also revealed to my wife that she carries a small revolver in her purse.

      • When the tsunami hit in Japan and many reports were about the fact that so many people were without food and water and how grocery stores were wiped bare, it really reiterated to her that having the supplies you need on hand is worth the effort. It may not be TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI but a similar disaster or even unemployment.

        Glad to see that you'll be working on your GHB. I use one of the kids' old backpacks from school. It's just a plain black JanSport backpack. I like it because it blends in. I will often just carry my gun in it too and take it into work or stores and such, (I don't like to leave my gun in the car, too much can go wrong there) and nobody has a clue as to what's in it. Aside from many of the normal EDC things, I carry earplugs, rubber gloves, dust masks, four very different knives, Safety glasses, binoculars and extra ammunition.

        Good luck with getting it all together.

      • Wicker,
        a couple of posts for why I carry – http://bridgetdgms.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/why-i
        and http://www.handgunrepairshop.com/Why_do_you_carry
        I like the second one best. I explained it a long time ago to 'she who must be obeyed'. If I see a kid, woman or LEO in trouble, I'm going to help – period. No questions or doubts, I will assist. If I am armed I stand a good chance of ending the situation without anyone getting hurt and if anyone is hurt it is likely the Bad Guy.
        If I thought I was going to need my hand gun – I WOULDN'T GO! I carry a gun (or three) because I don't know when trouble might hit and I am not able to deal with a group of gang bangers with my empty hands. If it is legal for me to be armed, I am a mobile, gun rich environment. If it isn't legal for me to be armed, I do my very best to never be there.

    • Good start. What do you usually wear at work? If you do not usually wear or carry the following, suggest you add them: (1) Good raincoat or poncho (2) Good walking boots with socks (3) Map with escape routes. The first and third may not be important depending on how far you are from home. The second is critical. Any long distance walking over rough terrain (do not count on using streets) could tear up your feet. Do I need to explain the consequences of becomming imobile?

  14. If you didn't see it, watch the National Geographic 'Eyewitness' episode on Japan http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/wit
    If this set of videos taken by the survivors doesn't give you pause then I suspect you stumbled onto this site by accident and believe we are all nuts. I knew it was bad, but listening to the terror (not fear -TERROR) in the voices begging the tsunami to 'go away' hit me like a ton of bricks. The video doesn't have the current casualty numbers but it is sobering. Sometimes we tend to forget just how deadly serious what we do is. As I type this I'm watching a tornado video on the weather channel from the storm that is destroying large parts of AL and GA. If you are in the paths of these storms, hunker down and be careful.

    • Yes, from what had been shown on nightly TV news cast, it was impossible to fully wrap your head around what has happened in Japan. That program you recommended was one of the most terrifying things that I have ever seen. This disaster is truly almost too much to consciously understand without being there. Either from being on site when it happened, or through the lenses of the brave souls that recorded it. That program is a must watch. I've never seen anything like that before in my life.

  15. the problem mentioned that our country would not be able to go through a crisis without raiding and looting. well that is right. our country had raiding and looting during one of our very devasating disasters, hurricane Katrina. Also the Govt. took three days to respond, yet other country tok half that time. kinda ironic.

  16. Going through a few teotwawki events, I have learned a lot, but I didn't look at Japan in the way above. I am glad I have read this. Now I have a lot to think about with my bug out plan and a lot to practice.
    Mr. Redneck

  17. I might say that Chenical, nuke and most power plants and refineries have to be proceduraly shut down
    You cannot walk away from them it can take days to cool purge or siphon off in a series of timed events or else

    this means that in the event of a natural disaster you will have a man made one with it.
    Some areas are so dense with these "PLANTS" that a whole region will be devestated it is not a matter if you want ot bug in you won't have that option.
    Without the services like fire and hazmat it will be a deadly place rail yards and sidings as well as other stowage
    areas will be a contaminated cesspool some do not like each other and that will serve to make it worse.

    should black out happen for more than a few days chances of a out of control fire is likely some areas that are close to water will have a chance.
    I think many people do not refer to history like the San Francisco fire they blew up city blocks to make fire brakes
    as the city water lines were shattered by the earthquake.

    Many cities have been wiped out by fire and could be again not to mention failing of dams and resaviors that use earthen dams the domino priciple when one fails it can make another fail.
    I would know where high ground was and any risk in my area.
    Some lakes are man made rivers have been altered and should an earthquake occur nothing is off the table
    gas water sewer and power lines are the first to go roads and bridges and dams when it comes it will be in waves
    or all at once have a plan on what to expect where to meet up if your separated and what to try to bring get and have as each travels to your meeting point.

    Rudyard Kipling would have turned over in his grave but I twist his famous poem into this warning.
    "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then you just do not have an clue of the severity of your situation".


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