severe weather

Illinois Adults Invited To Enter Contest For Free Weather Alert Radios

Illinois residents 18 years and older are being offered the chance to win free weather alert radios in a contest launched yesterday by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA). From an April 22 press release posted on the Ready.Illinois.gov website:

‘Weather Alert Radios Save Lives’ contest promotes awareness; 100 radios to be awarded

SPRINGFIELD – The recent devastating tornadoes in northern Illinois were a heartbreaking reminder of the tornado risk in Illinois. To increase awareness and use of an important severe weather alerting tool, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) today launched an online quiz for a chance to win a weather alert radio.

The ‘Weather Alert Radios Save Lives’ contest is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov. The contest will run from April 22 – May 22. This is the third time IEMA and IESMA have sponsored the statewide contest.

“It’s important for people to have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings, particularly at night when most of us are sleeping,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Weather alert radios will sound a tone when a warning has been issued for your area and give you information about the approaching hazard. Similar to a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector, a weather alert radio can give you precious time to take safety precautions.”

A total of 100 weather alert radios will be awarded to participants who register after reading information about the radios and successfully completing a five-question quiz. Winners will be announced in late May. The radios were purchased by IESMA as part of an effort to increase the use of the devices in communities throughout Illinois.

“IESMA is excited to team up with IEMA for this valuable awareness contest,” said IESMA President Kevin Sargent. “Each region of the state is affected by some type of extreme weather each year. This year is no exception with the tornado outbreak in central and northern Illinois earlier this month. IESMA believes many lives are saved each year by people being able to receive severe weather warnings from NOAA weather alert radios. Please take time to participate in this contest for a chance to win one of 100 weather alert radios to be given away.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) and state and local emergency management officials encourage individuals and businesses to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards with battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, which allows the radio to be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties. When an alert is issued for that area, the device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the broadcast message.

Besides weather information, the NWS also broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural, environmental and public safety hazards, such as earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.

More information about severe weather preparedness also is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

I just completed taking the online quiz as part of this year’s “Weather Alert Radios Save Lives” contest. The five-question quiz is easy- but be sure to read and digest that information provided on the “Weather Alert Radio Contest” page first.

I’m a big fan of weather alert radios. Even if you don’t win one through this contest, I highly-recommend going out and getting one of these devices anyway if you don’t already own one.

Good luck! And Survival And Prosperity thanks the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) for holding this contest once again.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Area Threatened By Severe Weather Thursday

There was plenty of talk tonight on the local news about the prospect of severe weather Thursday in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Midwest. Jon Erdman reported tonight on the Weather Channel website:

A multi-day severe weather outbreak, including tornadoes, is underway and will continue through Thursday in parts of the South and Midwest. Some severe weather may continue into Friday along the East Coast and South. This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.

Thursday: More widespread severe thunderstorms possible from the southern Plains to the Mississippi Valley and southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Some supercells with tornadoes possible. There is some uncertainty in how unstable the atmosphere will become in the afternoon after morning thunderstorms rumble through the region. This will dictate exactly how much and where we see the most significant severe storms in the afternoon.

Thursday Threat Cities: St. Louis | Chicago | Little Rock, Arkansas…

“This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.”

Prepare accordingly. A couple of days ago I rounded up a number of items from around the house I might be using during/after a spring severe weather event:

Severe Weather Gear

I made sure this gear was in good working order, and added/replaced batteries as needed. I plan on storing most of these items within a bin in one location in the home going forward.

You can read the rest of Erdman’s piece on Weather.com here. And if you’re just beginning to prepare for severe weather events, Ready.gov is a good place to start.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Develop Post-Disaster Communications Plan With ‘Text First, Talk Second’ Approach

Severe Weather Preparedness Month is almost over here in Illinois. But the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is still passing along valuable information to state residents on what to do when a disaster occurs. From a press release on the Illinois Government News Network website yesterday:

‘Text First, Talk Second’ Often Best Way to Contact Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes

IEMA Encourages People to Have Plan for Communicating with Family Members, Friends during Emergencies

SPRINGFIELD – When disaster strikes, your first instinct probably is to call loved ones to make sure they’re OK or let them know you’re safe. It’s likely everyone else affected by the emergency is thinking the same thing. In these instances, telephone lines can quickly become overloaded, preventing not only your call from going through but also blocking critical 911 calls.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Month in March, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to develop a Family Communications Plan that includes the “Text First, Talk Second” concept.

“Communicating with family and friends immediately after a disaster is important,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “We’re encouraging people to plan now so they’ll know how to reach their contacts in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster.”

Joseph said short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through to your loved ones than a phone call when phone service is disrupted. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.

Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion during an emergency. You can also use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to post your status to let family and friends know you’re OK.

While Text-to-911 is on the horizon for emergency communications, it currently is available only in limited areas of the U.S. If you need to contact 911, do so by landline or cell phone unless your community has notified you that this service is activated in your area.

Additional emergency communications tips include:

• Keep all phone calls brief by conveying only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
• If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
• If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place, not in a garage.
• Another resource for letting friends and family know your status after a disaster is the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well Registry at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
• Your communications plan should identify an out-of-area contact and household members should carry that information with them at all times. If a disaster occurs when you are separated, it often is easier to call outside your immediate area. Family members can call the contact to provide location and coordinate reunification plans.

For more information about developing a family communications plan, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Great advice regarding that “Text First, Talk Second” strategy.

Even I can text on my vintage “dumb phone” with its Shaun of the Dead ringtone.

To find out more about IEMA, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Many Chicago-Area Residents Unprepared For Spring Snow Event

I didn’t publish any new material yesterday on Survival And Prosperity due to the fact my girlfriend and I were painting the front room most of the weekend and I shoveled half-a-foot of snow around my property and that of my neighbors (who are getting on in years) Monday here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

I did get the chance to watch some local news yesterday morning before heading out to shovel in the early afternoon.

And all I could do was shake my head.

You see, the various TV broadcasts were pointing out that many Chicago-area residents were unprepared for the wintry weather.

Despite the fact that it’s been known to snow around here as late as May.

Sadly, camera crews showed a number of people woefully under-dressed for the occasion. One woman was waiting for her ride- while wearing sandals. A Barrington resident was clearing snow from his property in shorts and sandals. Downtown, plenty of people were wearing jackets and other clothing much more appropriate for a warm spring day.

One of the reporters told viewers that most of the people she talked to who were not donning winter wear admitted they had already placed their winter clothes in storage.

Yikes!

I get it. The Chicagoland area has had some real nice weather lately- especially compared to last year.

And from time-to-time I’m guilty too of not being appropriately-dressed for the weather/seasons (I no longer use loafers without socks during the winter. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I wore loafers.)

I wouldn’t make such a big deal about the whole thing if I wasn’t concerned it’s symptomatic of something bigger affecting many Chicago-area residents.

Namely, falling into a state of unpreparedness by letting ourselves become too easily detached from reality.

Long-time area residents know darn well that winter-like weather can strike the Midwest from October through May. Yet we experience several nice spring-like days, and all of a sudden we’re rushing to put the winter gear away by mid-March.

I was driving out by St. Charles the other week when I spotted a pickup truck laden with holiday decorations and a snowblower that looked destined for storage. “Damn fool jinxed us,” I declared to my girlfriend.

Should there be any surprise that President Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign message struck a chord with so many people around these parts?

And yet here I am, with plenty of sand still clinging to the sidewalks/driveway and my Swedish military M90 parka, Norwegian military rain pants, and U.S. “Mickey Mouse” boots lying around the basement bathroom, ready to be put into civilian service.

It’s good to live for today, to embrace euphoria. But it’s no less important to remember history, pick out/understand trends, grasp the “big picture.”

Remain connected to reality.

And prepare accordingly for the not-so-nice stuff.

Your frozen butt would thank you.

I could easily suggest don’t put away winter items until Mother’s Day (May 10 this year).

But that wouldn’t have done much good last year, when snow fell on the Chicago metro area on May 16.

Oh well. All we can do is be prepared for more snow if/when it comes. And give thanks for any warm weather that heads our way.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Quote For The Week

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

-Mark Twain (American author and humorist. 1835-1910)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, March 16th, 2015 Quote For The Week, Weather No Comments

Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Prepare For Severe Weather This Spring

A reminder from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for “local” readers of Survival And Prosperity:

IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather

February 27, 2015

Tornadoes, floods and severe storms can happen any time of year

SPRINGFIELD – Believe it or not, warm weather soon will return to Illinois. As exciting as that sounds, warmer temperatures also mean an increased potential for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding.

To help people prepare for severe weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will join with the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies throughout March to increase awareness of these severe weather hazards.

“We can’t prevent dangerous storms from occurring,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “However, there are ways to prepare to help you stay safe when severe weather strikes. We encourage everyone to learn more about severe weather hazards, identify a safe place to go during storms, and assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit. These actions could help save your life or the life of your loved ones.”

Joseph said Illinois experienced 48 tornadoes in 2014, which resulted in two injuries and nearly $5 million in damage to homes and crops. In 2013, the state saw 54 tornadoes, including 25 twisters on Nov. 17, a vivid reminder that tornadoes and severe storms can happen anytime of the year.

“Although the typical peak time for severe storms in Illinois is April through June, events of the past three years have proven otherwise.” said Chris Miller, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Ill. “Nearly half of all tornadoes in Illinois since January 2012 have occurred during the fall and winter months. This underscores just how important it is to be ‘Weather Ready’ all year in Illinois.”

IEMA and the NWS developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, which provides information about tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding along with recommended actions to take before, during and after each of these weather events. It is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or by calling (217) 785-9925. Preparedness tips and information are also available through the Ready Illinois Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ReadyIllinois) and Twitter Page (twitter.com/ReadyIllinois).

Visit IEMA’s website here for more information on emergency preparedness.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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C.U.M.A. Survival School Offering Civil Unrest/Bug Out/Cold Weather Survival Training In Glenview, Illinois, This February

Here’s the latest survival training being offered by Waysun Johnny Tsai and the Chicago, Illinois-based C.U.M.A. Survival School (first blogged about here in April 2014). From the school’s Facebook page in a January 31 post:

NEXT C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL Civil Unrest/ Bug Out/ Cold weather Survival

This class will cover:

Home Prep
Home Defense
The Bug In
The Bug Out Vehicle
The Bug Out
Basic Wilderness Survival Skills
C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES Street Defense

WHEN: Sunday Feb 22nd, 2015

TIME: 10:00AM CST-4:00PM CST

WHERE: OFF THE X-TRAINING CONCEPTS CENTER
4350 Di Paolo Center, Suite H, Glenview, Illinois 60025
AND FOREST PRESERVE in Des Plaines, Illinois… Entrance to be disclosed after you register.

COST: $150.00 (New Students /$75.00 C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL Alumni)

This is a CLOSED DOOR CLASS.

Students MUST Pre-Register / Pre-Pay to attend this class:

Via PAYPAL: Send payment to sifujohnnytsai@gmail.com

By attending this class you agree to having your picture taken/ be video taped in class and allow us to use such materials for marketing purposes.

To reach me call: 773-227-1888 or email sifujohnnytsai@gmail.com

For more information about C.U.M.A. Survival School, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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East Coast: Last-Minute Snow, Ice Removal Info From Consumer Reports

“The first flakes ahead of a potentially historic blizzard began swirling through New York City on Monday morning, with forecasters predicting up to 3 feet (90cm) of snow in the coming day and millions of people facing snarled transportation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas beginning 1 p.m. EST on Monday, and warned of two days of winter storms across the East Coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine.

Airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights so far…”

-Reuters.com, January 26, 2015

Considering the ongoing warnings of severe winter weather for the East Coast, I thought I’d get the following last-minute information regarding snow and ice removal out to Survival And Prosperity readers in that area of the country. I hope a number of you find it useful. From the Consumer Reports website:

“Find the best snow shovel”
The right model can take some of the work out of winter cleanup

February 14, 2014

“All you need to know about clearing snow”
Get the most from your snow blower by working with the weather

January 21, 2015

“Snow removal shortcuts that save time and energy”
How to get the most out of your snow blower and snow shovel

March 3, 2014

“Best ice melts review: Top products for your driveway, walkways, and steps”
Use Consumer Reports’ five steps for smarter, safer deicing

February 2014

On the topic of ice melts, while I’ve got a bag in my arsenal, lately I’ve been using sand instead so as to minimize damage to the newer concrete driveway and older sidewalks at my house in the Chicago suburbs. QUIKRETE All-Purpose Sand (bought a 50-lb. bag last week for a little under $3 at the nearby Home Depot) is the brand I went with- and it works really good as traction is concerned. Just be sure to keep the stuff away from drains.

Good luck out there in the eastern United States, stay warm, and stay safe.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, January 26th, 2015 Emergencies, Essential Reading, Weather No Comments

NotifyChicago: The City Of Chicago’s Emergency Alert Program

Back when I was living in Chicago I remember reading that the city had a system in place where residents could receive alerts about emergencies going on.

I never signed up for the program, but if I were still living at my old pad on the Northwest side today, I’d give it a try.

Enter NotifyChicago. Via the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications web page, under “Notification Program Overview”:

NotifyChicago

Notification Program Overview

Welcome to NotifyChicago, the City of Chicago’s tool for providing residents with direct emergency and non-emergency information. NotifyChicago is a city service that supplies residents with text messages and/or e-mail alerts for incidents/conditions such as severe weather emergencies, hazardous materials, traffic impacts, etc. Preparedness and being informed is key in an emergency. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) urges residents to subscribe to receive alerts sent directly to mobile phones or email accounts to stay informed. Signing up for NotifyChicago is FREE. However, depending on your service plan, you may be charged for messages and data on your devices. Contact your mobile service provider for details on costs in your plan.

How Does Notify Chicago Work?

In the event of an emergency, the city’s designated personnel will send text messages and/or e-mail alerts directly to the registered phones or email accounts using this NotifyChicago system. Non-emergency alerts may be issued for traffic disruptions to keep public informed of related major street closures or events impacting traffic. Those registering for texts/emails can choose to receive both emergency and non-emergency notifications or just emergency notices. Once registered, alerts will be sent to the mobile phone/email address designated as situations arise…

NotifyChicago sounds like a terrific tool for a Chicago worker, resident, and visitor to have access to during an emergency. I tried to find out if Cook County and the State of Illinois had similar emergency alert programs, but didn’t see any advertised on their respective web sites (I plan to investigate more).

Interested in finding out more about NotifyChicago? Head on over to the program site here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Upcoming REI Survival-Related Classes In The Chicago Area

Chicago-area readers- below is information for survival-related classes being offered by outdoor adventure company REI for the next month or so:

Winter Navigation with Map & Compass, Palos Forest Preserve- Bull Frog Lake (south suburbs), January 10, 9 AM-2 PM, $75 member/$95 non-member, 10 spots left, prior snowshoeing experience recommended
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Lincoln Park REI (Chicago- Lincoln Park), January 16, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left
Wilderness Survival: Winter Skills, Palos Forest Preserve- Bull Frog Lake (south suburbs), January 18, 9 AM-2 PM, $65 member/$85 non-member, 12 spots left
Wilderness First Aid with WMI and REI, Ping Tom Memorial Park- Fieldhouse (Chicago- Chinatown), January 17-18, 9 AM-6 PM, $225 member/$255 non-member, 14 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Oakbrook REI (west suburbs- Oakbrook Terrace), January 21, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 12 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs), February 4, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left

Lifetime membership in REI costs only $20. For more information on joining REI, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 Emergencies, Health, Medicine, Preparedness, Training, Weather No Comments

In Print: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015

Speaking of farmers today, I was going through my father’s desk in search of a pad of paper while I was at my parents’ place last weekend. Opening a drawer, I spotted a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac tucked away in there. I just blogged about the Almanac in August, writing:

Back when I still lived under my parents’ roof, I’d sometimes grab my dad’s latest copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to read. Don’t know about the Almanac? From their website:

Since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don’t like the question of weather left up in the air…

Our operation is based in Dublin, New Hampshire. The words of the Almanac’s founder, Robert B. Thomas, guide us still: “Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.”

I thought the annual publication looked pretty “useful,” and figured once I grew up I’d buy my own copies.

I’ve grown up. And I recently purchased the 2015 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac from Amazon.com.

(Editor’s note: The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmers’ Almanac– in print since 1818- are not one and the same)

The latest Almanac reminds me of those copies I borrowed from my father three decades ago. With a smattering of ads throughout (a number of them are actually pretty interesting), the 304-page softcover book is divided up into the following sections:

• About This Almanac
• Amusement
• Anniversary
• Astrology
• Astronomy
• Calendar
• Food
• Gardening
• Home Remedies
• Husbandry
• Miscellany
• Outdoors
• Romance
• Special Report
• Weather

“Tabs” are provided for Calendar, Weather, and Reference information.

What compelled me to finally purchase a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac after all these years was last winter in the Chicago area. I wanted to find out if this next one was going to be as brutal. And since the Almanac claims around an 80 percent accuracy rate with its weather forecasts, I thought they might be able to provide some insight. From the “Weather” section, under “The General Weather Report and Forecast” area:

Winter is expected to be another cold one in the eastern half to two-thirds of the nation…

And from the “Region 6 Forecast (Lower Lakes)” area:

Winter will be colder than normal… Precipitation will be… near-normal in the west…

The Almanac goes on to predict when they think the coldest and snowiest periods will be for the area this winter, but I don’t want to steal their thunder here. That being said, I’m going to try and make the most out of this mild weather we’re having out here in the Chicagoland area, and finalize buttoning-up the house and prepping the property for when winter finally rears its ugly head again.

Besides the weather, the 2015 edition of the Almanac is chock-full of interesting, informative, and easy-to-read articles and other material (it would be even easier-to-read if they offered a large-print edition for people whose vision isn’t as great as it once was). I can see myself referring to the “Best Fishing Days and Times” (hopefully I’ll have the need to look this up!) and the “Reference Compendium” areas on a regular basis. And get a load of this piece in the “Amusement” section:

Solar Strokes

Yet another reason to worry.

In a review of more than 11,000 people who suffered a stroke between 1981 and 2004, researchers in New Zealand found that strokes are 19 percent more likely to occur on days with a geomagnetic storm… The storms had more effect on people under the age of 65…

E-I-E-I-Whoa! Good thing I “grew up” and got myself a copy of this resource.

All in all, The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015 is a nice addition to the home library, and I plan on acquiring the latest editions as they’re released.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, December 11th, 2014 Agriculture, Food, Gardening, In Print, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Chicago-Area Urban Survival/Bug-Out Classes In December

Any Chicago-area readers looking to learn urban survival/bug-out skills in the coming month? Back in the spring I mentioned the C.U.M.A. Survival School in a post about Chicago Reader contributor Connie Vaughn taking such training from the outfit. I blogged:

I’ve come across the C.U.M.A. Survival School website before while researching Chicago-area prepper/survival training, and I’ve made a note to blog about it down the road.

This morning seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the school again as they’re offering survival training in December. From the C.U.M.A. website:

The C.U.M.A. Survival School specializes in no-nonsense training for everyone who is interested in Combatives, Self Defense, Urban Survival or venturing into the great outdoors. It does not matter if you are 45 year old civilian “novice” or a seasoned combat/law enforcement veteran; our goal is to provide quality instruction to anyone who is interested leaning valuable skill sets that can potentially save someone’s life…

The C.U.M.A. Survival School was founded by world re-known martial artist, CQC trainer, Book/DVD author, magazine writer and knife designer “SIJO” Waysun Johnny Tsai…

I e-mailed Waysun Johnny Tsai recently about upcoming survival-related classes they might be offering. From his reply last Thursday:

The Next one day 7 hour C.U.M.A. Urban Survival / BUG OUT classes are on Saturday, Dec 13th, 2014 and Sunday, Dec 20th, 2014.

The hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on either day.

Subject matter will include:

HOME PREPARATION AND BUGGING IN / SURVIVAL GEAR REVIEW (2 Hour Lecture/Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS).

THE BUG OUT : Basic Winter Wilderness Survival at the BUSSE WOODS (Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS / 3 Hours)

C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES: SURVIVING THE FIGHT (2 hours/ NEAR Schaumburg, ILLINOIS)

The cost for one day training is $150 per person …


“CBS CHANNEL 2 News on Urban Disaster Survival & Preparedness With The C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL”
YouTube Video

The class sounds real promising. Expert, hands-on urban survival training is hard to come by around these parts for some strange reason (or maybe not, as faith in the “Nanny State” among local residents remains foolishly strong). Busse Woods is a terrific venue (I used to fish there all the time when I was a kid). And I like that part of the instruction is dedicated to wilderness survival in the winter, which can get incredibly-brutal here in the Midwest.

This “keyboard commando” is certainly interested in enrolling some day.

Interested in the Urban Survival/Bug Out course or C.U.M.A. Survival School in general? You can visit the school’s website here for more information.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Brutal Chicagoland Winter Coming?

Brrr! It’s pretty chilly out here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. But I understand Chicagoland residents are just getting a taste of the coming winter, as temperatures are expected to climb back to around 50°F by Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of chores to take care of around (outside) the house, so I’ll take any “warm” day I can get to knock those out.

A number of Chicago-area readers might be wondering- is this winter going to be as brutal as the last one? Especially as it concerns the pocketbook? Here’s something I caught in my Sunday paper the other day. From Julie Wernau for the Chicago Tribune:

The good news is that this season’s residential winter heating bills in Chicago, from November through March, are expected to fall more than $150 from last year.

A milder winter this year is expected to reduce consumption and cut heating costs even as gas prices in the Midwest tick upward.

“It’s going to be colder than average but not as persistently cold,” said Jeff Johnson, chief science officer for Schneider Electric Weather, which provides weather forecasting for utilities. “There will be intense cold shots, but we’re also looking at milder interludes in between.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wernau added that Peoples Gas is forecasting the average bill for customers this coming winter will be $912.66- down $176.84 from last winter. Nicor is expecting their average bill will drop around $125.

On the flipside, I had heard in the last couple of weeks that the winter of 2014-15 was going to be a nasty one again. That term “polar vortex” was being kicked around a lot. The boat hauler my family uses in southeast Wisconsin even warned me there would be no shortage of cold and snow in the coming months.

I really hope Schneider Electric Weather and the local gas companies are correct with their winter predictions, because I just heard my neighbor shoveling snow a few minutes ago. Time to bust out my work clothes and see what’s up…

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

ANY CHARACTER HERE

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Wernau, Julie. “Winter heating bills could drop by about $150.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-winter-heating-bills-1116-biz-20141107-story.html#page=1). 18 Nov. 2014.

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 Energy, Preparedness, Utilities, Weather No Comments

Chicago-Area Firefighters Survive Hurricane Odile, Escape SHTF Aftermath

“What we went through this weekend, the way we had to get ourselves out, the looting, the vandalism- it was like something right out of a movie.”

-Jim Kotrba, Hoffman Estates Fire Department, in a September 18, 2014, Chicago Tribune article

October 2005. I was in my office at a fire department in the northwest suburbs of Chicago when a firefighter/paramedic by the name of “Mark” stopped by. He had just returned from his honeymoon in Cancún, Mexico- early. The well-known resort had just been pummeled by Hurricane Wilma. “Mark” and his new wife paid attention to the growing number of warnings about the incoming maelstrom, and decided to pack up and leave the popular tourist destination two (?) days before it struck. I remember him saying the airport was pretty much a ghost town despite the ominous weather forecasts. In case readers don’t remember Wilma, here’s what the couple missed. From The Independent (UK) website on October 23, 2005:

Hurricane Wilma pounded the beach resorts and fishing villages of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula yesterday, whipping up 120mph winds and creating a 10ft storm surge that sent sea water racing through the lower floors of some of Cancun’s most luxurious beachfront hotels…

Cancun’s beachfront hotel district, constructed on a narrow peninsula, was completely evacuated yesterday. But in the city itself, only a small number of residents and tourists – 50,000 or so out of a local population of 700,000 – left on buses before the storm arrived. The others, including an estimated 30,000 foreign visitors, huddled in shelters and downtown hotels, where food and drink was due to run out yesterday.

With electricity cut off in advance as a safety precaution, the shelters – mostly in schools, hotels and gymnasiums – were hot, sweaty and crowded. Scott Stout, an American spending part of his honeymoon on an indoor basketball court in Cancun beneath a leaky roof, told the Associated Press: “After one more day of this, I believe people will start getting cranky.”

Weather experts in Mexico and the US said that Wilma’s unexpectedly long sojourn over the Yucatan meant that in effect local people were undergoing several hurricanes, one after another…

Fast forward to 2014. And the last several days in particular. More members of the fire service from that neck of the woods went to Mexico for a wedding-related event, and also ended up the victims of bad timing. Unlike “Mark” however, these firefighters didn’t make it out of town before a different hurricane struck. Becky Schlikerman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on September 17:

A group of 16 northwest suburban firefighters are stuck in Mexico after a hurricane ravaged the resort area of Cabo San Lucas.

The group had traveled to a beautiful oceanfront resort for the destination wedding of longtime Hoffman Estates firefighter Tom Mangiameli. About 50 friends and relatives traveled abroad, according to Mangiameli’s sister-in-law, Sharen Mangiameli.

The wedding was to be Saturday, relatives said. On Sunday, Hurricane Odile made landfall as a monster Category 3 storm.

Since then, electrical and water services have been out.

Tom Mangiameli and his group are still at the Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, said Sharen Mangiameli, 55, of Naperville.

“There’s no food, there’s no drinking water and there are looters coming into the hotel,” she said. “One of my nephews has been texting saying when they try to leave the hotel they’re being attacked by the locals who are looting.”

(Editor’s note: Bod added for emphasis)

Tourists and residents alike dealt with grave conditions in the aftermath of the hurricane. Pedro Juarez Mejia reported on the Agence France-Presse website on September 18:

Residents of Mexico’s Los Cabos resort armed themselves with guns and machetes in hurricane-battered neighborhoods to defend their homes from looters, as troops were deployed.

The government sent extra federal police and soldiers to the Baja California peninsula to counter widespread looting that erupted after Hurricane Odile tore down homes earlier this week…

Chaos took over this week as hundreds helped themselves to food, water, televisions and any goods they could grab in supermarkets and retail stores after Odile knocked out power and flattened homes.

But now residents fear their houses are next, amid reports of armed and masked gangs roaming neighborhoods.

Dressed in white and holding everything from bats to machetes, sticks and rocks, residents burned tires and wood…

Rodrigo Sanchez Villa, a lawyer for a hotel group, told local radio that masked gangs were pillaging shops, hotels and houses in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

“The situation appears to be getting worse all the time. A lack of security is being added to the problem of shortages of food and water and the lack of local authorities,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bod added for emphasis)

Sound like it’s been a nightmare down there over the past week or so. Thankfully, this group of Chicago-area firefighters eventually escaped the carnage in Cabo San Lucas. John Keilman wrote on September 18 on the Chicago Tribune website:

One person in the wedding party found a transportation company that was willing to send six buses to the resort to ferry the group to the airport, Kotrba said. The buses arrived before dawn Thursday and parked away from the resort, while the group sneaked out of the lobby to avoid attention.

“There were hundreds of people in the lobby,” Kotrba said. “If the buses had been seen, there would have been a riot.”

And upon their return to the U.S., the firefighters’ tale of survival was being shared. Becky Schlikerman and Tina Sfondeles reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on September 18:

Sandwiches were handed out, then they ran out. Generators kicked in, then died because of lack of fuel and flooding.

“We were at the point where we made rope from a life preserver that was out by the pool and basketball nets and we started to build a little system to lift buckets of water from the waste buckets to flush toilets,” [Daniel] Pearson, 43, of Carpentersville, said from a Phoenix airport Thursday night.

“We had no cellphone service, food and water,” Pearson said. “We did whatever we could make do with. I have no dignity left. I took a bath in a fountain.”

Pearson is a former U.S. Marine. He spent nine months fighting in the Gulf War. And he has fought fires for 18 years. But he wasn’t ready for this.

I was in survival mode. I don’t think I was scared. It just got to the point where we had 48 people. What am I supposed to do? When we have to cut off our ironing boards to make weapons because nobody really cared about our safety?

(Editor’s notes: Bold added for emphasis. And I think that last line should have read “What am I supposed to do when we have to cut off our ironing boards to make weapons because nobody really cared about our safety?)

In addition to using iron boards to defend themselves, that Keilman piece noted the firefighters set up their own security system, with some men sleeping in the hallway outside their rooms and confronting anyone who walked through.

All this reminds me of something the English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin once said about survival:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

I’m grateful these firefighters and the rest of their party made it back to the United States safely. And I wish all the best to the newlyweds.

After learning about their harrowing experience, I’m thinking it’s probably not a bad idea for overseas travelers to bring/put together a small emergency kit if/when it makes sense, adding emergency supplies in the event of some looming threat.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Gumbel, Andrew. “Hour after hour, Hurricane Wilma batters Cancun.” The Independent. 23 Oct. 2005. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hour-after-hour-hurricane-wilma-batters-cancun-512143.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Schlikerman, Becky, “16 suburban firefighters stranded in Mexico after hurricane.” Chicago Sun-Times. 17 Sep. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/29951882-761/16-suburban-firefighters-stranded-in-mexico-after-hurricane.html#.VB83fZV0zIV). 21 Sep. 2014.

Juarez Mejia, Pedro. “Residents grab guns to deter looters in Mexico resort.” Agence France-Presse. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://news.yahoo.com/residents-grab-guns-deter-looters-mexico-resort-230317288.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Keilman, John. “16 firefighters returning from Mexico after being stranded by hurricane.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/schaumburg-hoffman-estates/chi-16-hoffman-estates-firefighters-stranded-at-mexican-resort-20140918-story.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Schlikerman, Becky and Sfondeles, Tina. “Firefighter recounts harrowing aftermath of hurricane in Mexico.” Chicago Sun-Times. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/29970010-418/firefighter-recounts-harrowing-aftermath-of-hurricane-in-mexico.html#.VBxvp5V0zIU]). 21 Sep. 2014.

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Downtown Chicago Could Receive Resilient Electric Grid

Some good news coming out of Chicago concerning the protection of its electric grid. From area electric utility ComEd yesterday:

ComEd to Partner with AMSC on Superconductor-based Resilient Electric Grid System
Homeland Security Project Seeks to Increase the Resiliency and Security of
Chicago’s Electric Grid

Devens, MA, and Chicago, IL – July 16, 2014 – AMSC (NASDAQ: AMSC), a global energy solutions provider serving wind and power grid industry leaders, today announced that ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, has agreed to develop a deployment plan for AMSC’s high temperature superconductor technology to build a superconducting cable system that will strengthen Chicago’s electric grid. The Resilient Electric Grid (REG) effort is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s work to secure the nation’s electric power grids and improve resiliency against extreme weather, acts of terrorism, or other catastrophic events.

“Modernizing our region’s electric grid is part of ComEd’s vision to strengthen power reliability and to connect our customers and this region to the 21st century digital economy,” said Anne R. Pramaggiore, President and CEO, ComEd. “We view this project as a natural extension of the infrastructure improvements and technological upgrades that have been under way for the past two years as we develop and deploy the smart grid. Linking our critical urban infrastructure to this superconductor system would provide added reliability, resiliency and security to Chicago’s Central Business District, an essential economic engine for the state and region.”

The current design of the grid infrastructure in many U.S. cities makes restoration of power after a catastrophic event time-consuming, costly, and unpredictable. Led by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the Resilient Electric Grid is a self-healing solution that provides resiliency in the event that portions of the grid are lost for any reason. The ComEd installation would be the first commercial application of this advanced technology in the United States

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nice to hear a project protecting downtown Chicago’s grid is in the works, although to be fair, only three miles of superconductor cable is supposed to be laid.

If you’re outside the “Loop” you’ll be lumped together with the rest of us mopes in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The lights are flickering. Gotta run.

You can read the entire press release (.pdf file) on the ComEd website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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