severe weather

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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Project Prepper, Part 28: Buying My Parents Some Emergency Preps

A couple of years ago, my parents in the Chicago suburbs lost electricity for an extended period of time after severe weather pummeled the area. I heard from them the morning after the event, and they weren’t doing so well. Without power on an extremely hot and humid night, the two of them fumbled around in the dark and hardly got any sleep. My Mom informed me that it was especially brutal on my Dad, who is an octogenarian with all sorts of health issues- mobility being one of them. During that conversation, my mother told let me that I should be prepared to evacuate him if the electricity didn’t come back on that evening.

Evacuate meaning carrying him down from their fourth floor condo unit in a building without working elevators.

He’s kind of heavy (225 pounds), so I wasn’t really looking forward to this task. Thankfully, the electric company got the power restored to their building before I had to attempt this.

Shortly after this incident, I asked my parents if they wanted me to help them prepare for the next time this happened. Shockingly, they were actually receptive to this.

Alas, I wasn’t able to assist them right away. So the next time I brought the subject up, Mom and Dad weren’t interested.

I guess this is pretty common according to the emergency management pros. An emergency/disaster strikes, and those affected initially talk about being prepared for the next major crisis. But then they never follow through. And the next emergency/disaster happens.

Seeing that the Chicago area just wrapped up its winter of 2013-14 a couple of weeks ago (there was an unmelted snow pile still on the ground two suburbs over in early May!), and severe weather often rolls through during the transition from winter to summer, I recently purchased some basic emergency preparedness gear from Amazon.com for my parents anyway (I didn’t want them to go through another hellish night like the one they experienced a couple of years ago). This included:

Coleman Twin LED Lantern

This lantern would be their main source of emergency lighting in a blackout. From the Coleman website:

Light the night your way with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern. Extra-bright at up to 390 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. The rotating dial offers customizable light settings from low to high. Long runtimes—299 hours on ultra-low and 85 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its weather-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern.

The twin LED lantern costs $36.44 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern

For when either of my parents go to a different room from where that twin LED lantern is situated. From Amazon.com:

The Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern sheds 190 lumens of light, thanks to the super-bright Cree XLamp XR-E LED. The Lantern is Coleman XPS-compatible; it will run for up to 60 hours on High, 25 hours on Low, on 4 D-cell batteries — or use the optional 6V rechargeable battery pack (both sold separately). A diffuser tube provides a perfect beam pattern. The Lantern is weather-resistant to withstand the elements, so it’s great for camping and other outdoor use.

The personal LED lantern costs $19.98 on Amazon.com as I type this.

O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter

I bought two of these (one for each parent). From the Chicago, Illinois-based O2COOL website:

Features Include:

• Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 8 D-Cell batteries (not included).
• Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
• Convenient built-in handle.
• Stable horseshoe base.
• Tilts for directional air flow.
• Compact folding design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
• Perfect for camping and outdoor activities.
• Up to 40 hours of battery life.

Each portable dual power fan costs $26.85 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Yeah, I know these devices require a bunch of “D” batteries (which I already picked up and installed a couple of weeks ago). But my parents won’t use these lanterns or portable fans if they’re too “complicated” to power and operate.

I also picked up two 3.5-gallon WaterBrick water containers (discussed here) for my parents as well from a different vendor. I figured in addition to helping my parents cope with a blackout, I could help them deal with a boil-water advisory like the one that hit nearby Deerfield, Illinois, last summer.

A single WaterBrick costs $20.02 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Finally, my parents had some existing preps at their condo. Besides a variety of flashlights, I bought them a black Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp similar to the one I own and use (discussed here, $19.38 on Amazon.com).

And while not an emergency radio, my Mom picked my Dad up a Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio. It’s handy and I can think of a ton of uses for it- besides getting information in an emergency. Plus, the price is definitely right ($12.97 on Amazon.com).


“Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio”
YouTube Video

I’ll still be sending them over a “real” emergency radio soon.

So a little bit of a detour in my “Project Prepper” series of posts. But definitely worthwhile.

Once I get back to my parents I’ll take some photos of these preps and share them with readers.

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

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season began yesterday. And back on May 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told us what we could expect for the next six months. From the NOAA website:

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico…

While the forecast is rosy, I wouldn’t let my guard down.

Those living in potentially-affected areas should pay a visit to the National Hurricane Preparedness Week page on the National Hurricane Center website to help prepare against these severe weather events.

You can read that entire 2014 Atlantic hurricane season forecast on the NOAA website here.

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

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Monday, June 2nd, 2014 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Severe Weather, Tornadoes Predicted This Weekend

I’m rather concerned about severe weather- including tornadoes- a number of meteorologists have been warning about since yesterday. From the Weather Channel website tonight:

As is typical of spring, the threat of severe weather is ramping up from the Plains into the Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and parts of the South through early next week.

This weekend, the next weather system will begin to kick into gear and spark multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes from Saturday through at least Tuesday. In fact, we could see an outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on multiple days…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And then there’s this from Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist, on AccuWeather.com this evening:

A multiple-day outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, is set to begin this weekend. The outbreak is likely to be the worst of the season so far and may end up being one of the top severe weather events for the season

People will need to keep a close eye on the weather, watch for rapidly changing weather conditions and pay careful attention to severe weather and tornado warnings as they are issued.

Now is the time to review tornado safety measures with your family…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Not to be a worry-wart, but I think Sosnowski is on to something here. Please keep a close eye on the weather for the next couple of days. Get a weather radio (I bought a Midland WR-100 a couple of years back- and love it) if you don’t have one already.

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

(Editor’s note: The Midland WR-100 is discontinued. The Midland WR-120B looks like its replacement- and a very good one according to Amazon.com reviews .)

Sources:

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IEMA: First-Ever America’s PrepareAthon! To Be Held On April 30

There’s no better time than right now to prepare for those nasty spring-early summer storms we get on a regular basis here in the Chicago area and elsewhere in the state, in addition to other severe weather events that might descend upon us in the coming twelve months. To help spur Illinoisans into action, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency issued a press release yesterday regarding a nationwide emergency preparedness event that’s scheduled to take place a week from today. From the release:

IEMA Encourages Participation in ‘America’s PrepareAthon!’ on April 30
First National Day of Action Expected to Draw Millions of Participants

SPRINGFIELD – On April 30, millions of people are expected to take part in the first-ever America’s PrepareAthon!, a national day for preparedness actions sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout the state are encouraging individuals, families, businesses, schools, community organizations and others to be part of the event by participating in a preparedness activity related to tornadoes or floods.

For its part, IEMA will conduct a tornado drill for 120 employees in its largest workplace in Springfield. The five-story building houses more than half of the agency’s employees and was damaged when tornadoes struck Springfield on March 12, 2006. IEMA will conduct tornado drills at its other facilities at later dates to ensure employee preparedness.

“Tornadoes and floods are two hazards we know well in Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “But just recognizing these hazards isn’t enough. It’s even more important to take action to prepare for those hazards. The national day of action on April 30 provides an excellent opportunity for people, businesses, schools and others to practice their plans.”

America’s PrepareAthon! is a new nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises conducted twice a year. Nearly five million people already are registered to participate in the April 30 national day of action, which will focus on four specific hazards: floods, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Since wildfires and hurricanes aren’t major hazards in Illinois, state activities will focus on floods and tornadoes.

The fall PrepareAthon! national day of action is set for September 30 and will focus on earthquakes, hazardous materials, pandemic flu and severe winter weather.

Anyone interested in participating in America’s PrepareAthon! can register on FEMA’s website at www.fema.gov. The site includes informational resources to help plan and conduct events.

Chicago Storm

Storm rolling into my old Chicago NW side neighborhood

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

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Go-To Gear For When The Lights Go Out

Last Friday night, my girlfriend and I lost power at our place in the Chicago suburbs.

It’s not like there was a storm going on. Not even a breeze from what I could tell. The electricty just went sayonara without any warning.

Rather than freak out- this subdivision sure is dark without any lights (the same holds true even with light )- I did what I usually do when an event like this happens nowadays:

Bust out some emergency gear.

I recently realized that I’ve never really gone into detail about the items I use when the lights go out. So, I’ll talk about them this afternoon, assuming a scenario where I lose power at night.

The first item I grab in such a situation is my Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp, Black, which I picked up from the local Cabelas a few years back. From the Princeton Tec website:

When applied well, technology should be simple. Such is the case with the innovative Fuel headlamp – designed to meet the widest range of applications while remaining small, lightweight and robust. With all of the touch points of the product being considered, the Fuel’s smart design fulfills technology’s promise of actually making our lives easier.

What could be better than a light that weighs only 78g with 70 lumens of brightness and 146 hours of burn time? A light that also has an asymmetrical single arm bracket that makes directing the light effortless and reliable; a large, easy to find push button switch and a virtually bulletproof, easy access battery door that protects the 3AAAs and its electronics. Yea.. that’s pretty much it.

Simple. Perfect. Fuel.

I never owned a headlamp until I learned how handy it was for Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre during the economic collapse in Argentina. I love it. I even bought one for my Dad and the “super” at my old apartment building before I moved ($20.16 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

As soon as I get my hands on the headlamp, I grab two more “essentials” right away- a battery-powered LED lantern and dual-power (AC/batteries) portable fan.

The Coleman Twin High Power LED Lantern was another Cabelas purchase from a couple of years ago. From the Coleman website:

Enjoy the outdoors in full, bright light with the Coleman® Twin High Performance LED Lantern. Ultra-bright at 580 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree® LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. With seven brightness settings that range from high to ultra-low, you’ll have just the right amount of light. A long runtime—100 hours on ultra-low and 10 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its water-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman® Twin High Performance LED Lantern.

-Eight brightness settings ranging from high to ultra-low
-580 incredibly bright lumens on high
-52-ft. (15.85 m) beam distance on high
-Up to 10 hours runtime on high setting
-Up to 100 hours runtime on low setting
-Powered by eight D-cell batteries (sold separately)
-Four lifetime Cree® LEDs never needs replacing
-Stays cool while running
-Water resistant against rain and splashing water
-5-year limited warranty

Boy is this thing bright- even on lower settings! I had it lit in the master bedroom Friday and anyone passing by might have easily thought we didn’t lose power. I’ve run this lantern several times since it was purchased for short durations, and the “D” batteries that I installed a couple of years ago are still going strong (had to check for battery leakage as soon as I typed that- I’m good). I like it so much I’m planning on buying one for my parents ($56.99 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

Blackout Gear

“Essential”:O2COOL Portable Fan and Coleman LED Lantern

The other “essential” I grab is a dual-power (AC/batteries) portable fan from Chicago-based O2COOL. The model I picked up from a local Kmart a couple of years ago (#1071) looks to be discontinued. However, its successor, O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter (Model# FD10002A), certainly looks just as capable judging by Amazon.com reviews. From the O2COOL website:

Features Include:

Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 6 D-Cell batteries (not included)
Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
Convenient built-in handle.
Compact design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
Perfect for office and home.
Up to 40 hours of battery life.

The portable fan does a great job of cooling off an individual and circulating air around a small room for its compact size. The O2COOL comes out every time the lantern does. And like the Coleman, I’ve used it several times for short durations since its purchase, with the original 4 “D” batteries I put in it still working strong. I plan on buying more O2COOL dual-power portable fans, as Chicago summers can be brutal ($20.99 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

I usually bust out other items, like an emergency weather radio or portable DVD player- but not before that other gear.

While my girlfriend and I have managed to get by with the above, I am looking at acquiring more items for when the lights go out, such as additional emergency lighting, an emergency weather radio with more capabilities, and another portable dual-power fan. More about that in a future “Project Prepper” post though.

In the meantime, readers- care to share the “essential” gear you like to use when the lights go out?

I, for one, would love to hear what your go-to items are.

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

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Chicago-Area Lakes Hit By Bad Fish Kill

A number of Chicago-area preppers/survivalists might be planning to fish the local lakes to supplement their diet should TSHTF.

If that’s the case, be advised of the following, which I read in a weekly roundup section in my Sunday Chicago Tribune:

Fish kill worse than usual, expert says

Another legacy of the harsh winter: The fish kill in small lakes around the area was worse than what one state fisheries official said he’d seen in 34 years on the job.

Here’s hoping this won’t jeopardize my shot at landing a big pike or largemouth at my family’s place in southeastern Wisconsin this summer/fall…

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

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