Are You Ready For The Next Influenza Epidemic? How Will You Survive The Next Pandemic?

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In doing some research about influenza, I came across the great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919. This happened during World War I and affected everyone on both sides of the ocean as well as across the world. It affected soldiers as well as citizens. It is estimated that 50 million people died during this epidemic. That is compared to the 16 million people who died during World War I.

One of the things that was missing from this epidemic was antibiotics. They simply did not exist as a medicine during this time. Antibiotics in an usable form was discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. However, antibiotics are rarely used for any influenza viruses. We do have some medications now that will treat influenza.

It is unlikely though that antibiotics would have been effective anyway during the epidemic of 1918. The influenza epidemic came in two phases. The first phase was less severe and most people recovered from it. It came in back a few months later and killed people within hours to a few days. Most people died from the fever and fluid filling their lungs which suffocated them. The disease affected people ages 20-40 the most.

Doctors and scientists were at a loss at how to treat this influenza. They could not control or stop the disease. Remember, there was no Center for Disease Control at the time. That was not established until 1946.

Don’t remember learning this in history class? I didn’t remember learning it either. However, what can we take away from this?

1. It was not treatable. They believe the strain during this epidemic was the H1N1. Influenza strains can be mild or develop a variant that can make them deadly. Since very little was known about influenza then, it was almost impossible to treat. Today’s influenza strains are proving harder to treat. Flu shots do not cover all strains of influenza. A strain or a variant in the strain of influenza could be strong enough to not be treatable or controllable.

2. It affected strong, healthy adults the most. The age group that was affected the most was 20-40 years old. This is a group of people who are at the peak of life in terms of health and vitality. The problem with that is this is also the group of people who would be the most social group especially in 1918. Even today, people in that age range rarely stay home. The disease would be able to spread very quickly because people are constantly going. They go to work, kids’ activities, social gatherings, and college.

3. It was not controllable. This influenza strain spread very, very quickly. People were given poor advice on how to not catch the disease and how to treat the disease. We now have the Center for Disease Control who would hopefully be on top of the disease. We also now know the best way to treat the symptoms of influenza. We also know that we need rest and to stay home to keep influenza from other people.

Do you think this could happen again? Many people do. Are you ready for the next influenza epidemic? An influenza epidemic of the proportions that occurred in 1918 would be considered a pandemic now.  We hear threats of pandemics now that could happen. How would you survive the next pandemic? What do you need to do to get ready?

1. Get a sick room ready. You should have a room, preferably a bedroom, ready to be a sick room. You should have some medical supplies ready in that room like a thermometer, ibuprofen, hot water bottle, instant cold packs, face tissues, disinfectant spray cleaner, trash bags, face masks, and disposable gloves. You may also want a pandemic flu kit in that room for the people treating the sick.

2. Have white towels, wash cloths, and white bedding ready to use. You want linens you can wash in very hot water or even put in boiling water to disinfect. You can also use bleach on white linens without issues. You want to have extra linens so you can change the sick beds quickly and wash the infected bodies without worry.

3. Have rolls of heavy plastic to cover surfaces like the bed, the floor, the windows,and the doorways. You have to think about disease control going in and out of the house. You are trying just as hard to keep the disease out as well as keeping it controlled in your home.

4. Keep some chem suits on hand. You may want to completely cover up to deal with a sick patient or having to go into infected areas. A chem suit with boots and gloves would be the ideal solution. You will also want a face mask and eye protection to keep safe.

5. Have one person who would be dedicated to taking care of the sick. The less people exposed to the sick person, the better the chances for everyone to stay healthy. Having one person designated to taking of the sick will keep everyone healthier. Having a designated respite person for the caretaker would be a good idea too.

6. Have a plan in place for death. In a pandemic, death is inevitable. What will you do if someone dies? As morbid as it seems, you may want to have a body bag on hand. You also want to have a plan for disposal of the body. Where will it be buried? Will you bury the body? Those are your decisions alone, but having a plan will make those decisions easier.

7. Do not go anywhere if you don’t have to. During a pandemic, being a homebody is your best bet for not catching the disease. Having a good food storage, water storage, and a disinfected home will be wise.

No one wants to think about getting sick much less think about a lot of people getting sick. We like to think with all the technological and medical advances we have now, another influenza pandemic will not happen again. However, new strains of diseases are being developed all the time in nature and in labs. We can not be sure this will not happen again. In fact, it is likely to happen again.

What will you do to protect yourself during a pandemic? Do you think we could have another influenza pandemic?

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What To Do When SHTF In Your City: 5 Urban Survival Skills That Could Save Your Life

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In cities where buildings can collapse, drainage systems can go out of hand, and desperate populations are vying for limited resources, the only way to get through it all seems to be in getting out. It may sound easier said than done, because getting out of an urban jungle requires ultimate survival skills and a will that will never give up.

Staying put in your house, if by some miracle it still stands after a horrific hurricane or a terrible earthquake, is simply out of the question.

Yes, you may be prepared for that extent of disaster. There may be enough food in your pantry to last you and your family for a month. But you should never forget that, in urban disasters, the number one danger is not running out of food and starving, but the fact that misery and shock can force humans to take desperate measures – and this will definitely involve looting and killing.

To get out, you will need to learn essential urban skills that will help you every step of the way.

5 Urban Survival Skills to Learn

1. Adaptability

The primary skill you need to develop in order to survive an apocalyptic aftermath is the art of adapting. Disasters will throw you so far off your comfort zone that the initial shock of waking up to a whole new world will take time to wear off. But you cannot give in to self-pity or misery.

The skill of adaptability can be learned even in peaceful times. It only takes deliberate action from you. Try to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, like moving to a different city and trying the career you’ve always wanted. Take time to eschew your comfort, the way the stoics of the old do.

Finding the balance between pain and pleasure can take you a long way. You can indulge in pleasurable things like good food and wine, but you cannot let those control your life.

You can let pain course through your system, but you cannot let it dictate your actions. By finding the middle ground between the two, you can easily adapt to any changes around you.

2. Physical Skills

Walking long distances, running, jumping, and being physically fit are needed. After all, if you have to escape an urban area, you really need the physical power to go on and on for miles just in case fuel has run out and cars are rendered useless. Staying fit is not just part of a healthy lifestyle; it can also be a preparation for what’s to come.

Try long-distance walking and running to build your endurance over time and help you withstand strenuous physical exertions. Aside from that, weightlifting is also a must if you want to be able to last long on the road with eighty pounds on your back. Doing this regularly will not only improve your blood circulation but will also make sure that your body can cope when the time comes for you to walk and run great distances.

These will help you keep your strength up at all times

There are easy ways to keep up with your strength without machinery: run, do squats, planks, etc. But there are also ways to build up muscles that necessitate some help. Use the accessories below to stay in top shape (they take up very little space and work well)

3. Scavenging

Unlike in the wild, where you need to learn how to hunt for food and other resources, urban areas will be a different challenge altogether. There will be factories and homes that may retain anything useful, from scrap materials you can use to fashion a tool or canned goods that you can add to your depleting supply.

Since most people will normally focus on looting, you should be smart enough to get out of their way and use your brains to scavenge for things that you will really need. That means skipping the appliances and going for the materials you can make use of later, like newspapers and spare parts.

If food supplies come close to dwindling, that’s when you resort to hunting for food in the form of ducks and fish in the pond or even pigeons.

4. Creativity and resourcefulness

Resourcefulness is an ability that many people should acquire. This will be valuable in situations where you run out of supplies or simply need to make do with what you have. Being resourceful can lead you to materials that you can re-purpose to achieve your goals. They don’t have to be found in the obvious places.

5. Preparing a handy survival backpack

Preparation is a life skill you cannot do without. It won’t hurt to be prepared. After all, catastrophes are never predictable. Your top priority is preparing a survival kit that will comprise of tools, medicines, and other necessities that can aid you later on.

This includes a handy knife that can help you cut objects, open cans, clear a path, defend yourself from bad elements, and split woods for fuel. A multitool is ideal, especially when it contains pliers and a wrench. A well-stocked medicine kit will ensure your well-being if you have injuries or sudden illness.

For individuals who consider every possibility during a disaster, they’ll think of ways to make their way to safety. If it means navigating through alleys and walkways, then a compass and a copy of your city maps will do the trick.

If you want to break through a house that can keep you safe for the night, then stocking lockpicking tools will help a lot. Of course, you can always improvise with whatever it is in hand, but if you want a convenient way of doing this particular trick, you can invest in functional lockpick guns for a simpler method of opening locks.

Practice how they work, and master the tension tool, where you use minimal amount of pressure.

Your survival backpack must be sturdy enough to hold all the things you put in it but also not too heavy to carry around the whole time.

Now you’re ready to meet and survive disaster

The above skills are essential: it’s imperative you diligently cultivate them on a regular basis.

It is not enough that you learn; you should also make sure to practice constantly and prepare not just physically but also mentally and psychologically. These 5 urban survival skills could save your life!

Your will and courage can go a long way if you’re facing danger and you need a way out.

The Reality Of U.S. Economic Slowdown: The Longer This Shutdown Has Continued, The More Evidence We Have Seen That The Government Employees Are Facing Severe Hardships

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Average Americans Struggling Says Economic Growth May Not Be Real

At the time of this writing, the U.S. government is in a partial shutdown, and it has been going on for several weeks. The shutdown has revealed something significant about the U.S. economy: there isn’t much economic growth.

You see, economic growth occurs when the general standard of living improves—when average Americans have savings, better-paying jobs, optimism about the future, and so on and so forth.

This, however, is not the case these days.

The partial U.S. government shutdown means that close to a million government employees have been furloughed.

What happens to furloughed workers? They are not working and are not getting paid. However, they are still promised back pay.

The longer this shutdown has continued, the more evidence we have seen that the government employees are facing severe hardships.

The Brookings Institutes states, “Furloughed workers have already started taking steps all too common to families living paycheck to paycheck: curtailing spending, increasing credit card debt, delaying paying bills, and seeking short-term, small dollar credit.” (Source: “Furloughed workers are facing an all-too-common problem for many Americans—living paycheck to paycheck,” Brookings Institute, January 17, 2019.)

What does this say? Americans are strapped for cash.

Mind you, federal government workers get paid relatively higher wages compared to workers doing similar jobs in the private sector. So, imagine what would happen if Americans in the private sector were told that they would not be getting their paychecks for a few weeks. Would they be able to sustain themselves for long?

55% of Americans Face Volatility in Their Paychecks

Don’t think it’s only the furloughed government workers who are facing hardships in the U.S. economy. It’s important that you also look at the overall conditions of workers’ paychecks.

According to a study by the JPMorgan & Chase Co. Institute, 55% of American workers experienced volatility in their paychecks of 30% on a month-to-month basis. (Source: “Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy,” JPMorgan & Chase Co. Institute, last accessed January 21, 2019.)

Where’s the U.S. Economy Headed Next?

Dear reader, looking at all this, I am just going to ask one question: If this is what economic growth looks like, how dire will the economic slowdown be?

I believe that things in the past few years have been taken out of context. Everyone looked at the stock market as an indicator of economic growth in the U.S. economy. The thinking has been, “if the stock market is rising, the average American is doing alright.”

This, however, is not true.

Stock markets were boosted due to low interest rates and all the easy money that was around. Average Americans weren’t buying a lot of stocks, though.

Mind you, in every economic growth period in the U.S. economy, there was one factor that played a major role: average Americans spending money.

In the coming quarters, I will continue to watch the U.S. economic data closely. This data is making a strong case that an economic slowdown is ahead.

In A Long Term Grid Down Situation Where Society Breaks Down, Many People Would Die And Those That Hold The Keys To Our Technology Would Be Among Them

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When technology fails society is suddenly limited to the resources it needs that are already produced and on hand for immediate use. If water suddenly stops being purified and pumped through the lines, you are limited to what you now have in the lines or storage tanks. Gas stations are limited to the fuel they have in storage tanks. Stores are limited to the food and clothing they have on hand. The failure of technology will stop water from being replaced, sewage from being removed, refrigeration from keeping foods edible, light from illuminating dark areas that must be traversed, elevators from getting people to upper floors, gas and electric for heating and cooking, water for fighting fires, communications for calling for help and medical devices to keep people alive.

The reason everything will stop is because of another word to remember, infrastructure. Without infrastructure nothing gets done, even on a simple basis. You cannot cook food without some type of infrastructure to produce heat, you cannot store food without some type of storage to keep it cold or some type of container to keep it protected from rodents and the environment. You cannot process or store food without equipment to cut, grind, dry, smoke, can or root cellar it. You cannot harvest, plant or grow food without some type of equipment to do those jobs.

The original definition of an acre was the amount of ground a farmer could plow in a full day. Farmers now plant hundreds of acres a day to keep Americans fed. With no modern equipment, how many acres can a farmer plant even if he had a trained team of horses and the equipment to pull behind them? Let us not forget that 2 percent of the population now grows the food for the whole country. How much would they now be able to produce even if they had the necessary equipment to do it manually? Let us also not forget that farmers need to buy their seed every year to plant. Very few individuals raise heritage seeds that they can plant every year from their own production. Where would these seeds now come from? Farmers also need lots of fertilizer to make these plants grow, where would that fertilizer come from? Many farms need irrigation to grow plants, so where would the power come from to pump that water? The age old practice of utilizing animal manure to fertilize fields only works if the farmer has livestock to produce that manure. Once harvested, how will that food now get transported to distant markets? How will farmers know where to send it without communications? A telegraph system is simple but must be built before it can be used.

Many people think that if technology fails we will simply live as past generations have but they conveniently neglect the fact that regardless of what systems you use you must have the infrastructure to provide for that system. If you go from mail to telegraphs or from analog to digital technology the problems are the same, you must have the infrastructure in place to switch to first. It is true we know how to build the older technology but where will the resources come from to actually build it? Remember, once technology fails you are somewhat limited to what you have on hand to work with.

If we had to return to 1880’s living, how many people have a team of horses, a wagon to hook them to, a butter churn, a grain mill, cheese making supplies, candles, oil lamps, matches, wood cook stoves, blacksmith supplies, hand pumps or dug wells? People were able to live back then because they had the infrastructure to do so. This is what many people do not understand. How hard would it be for us to go back to vacuum tube technology now without the infrastructure to support it, even if we do know how to build it?

In 1776 America, about 40% of men worked their own farm. Another 30% worked as laborers on farms. About 20% owned large commercial farms or plantations. The remaining 10% or so who were professional businessmen frequently owned modest farms where they might raise a cow, some chickens and have a garden to provide for the home table. Even those town people that had no farm usually had a cow, some chickens and a kitchen garden for home use. To go back to this model would be difficult if not impossible for many reasons only one of which is the fact that city dwellers have no room for gardens or the infrastructure to maintain cows and chickens on the large scale that would be needed.

The other thing that many people ignore are the skills required to live in a different system. Most people cannot simply plant seeds and suddenly become a great gardener. They do not know how to make cheese or how to improvise cheese making supplies from items now in the home. They do not know how to make soap or candles or something as simple as toilet paper. A roll of paper seems simple in design but how many know how to process wood pulp or other fibers to make paper? It does not matter if you are making ten thousand rolls in a factory or one roll at home, you need the skills and infrastructure to do it.

Skills come in many forms but the skills that society depends on the most are the craftsmen and engineers that design and build the technology we depend on. Without their knowledge, it would be difficult to replace the technology we now use. How many people know how to rebuild and maintain the phone system we now use? How many people know how to build and repair refrigeration units or make electric motors? How many people know how to refine oil into gasoline and diesel and make plastics and all the other things from petroleum?

In a long term grid down situation where society breaks down, many people would die and those that hold the keys to our technology would be among them. The longer the duration of disruption, the less likely it would be that those who could rebuild the systems would be able to do so. It is a situation where society’s capabilities decrease as time goes on.

Many people talk of hunting and fishing to fulfill their dietary needs but if even ten percent of the nation decides to do the same due to necessity, how long will the game and fish last before it is all gone? Even if you have some food and seeds to plant, it will take time to grow new supplies. In the days following an event, those that are not prepared will seek out supplies from those that have them, including those that have gardens. It is for this reason that it will be difficult to grow replacement supplies for the first one or two years following an event in most places. This would necessitate those that have supplies be able to support themselves and their families until new crops could be produced. The less prepared the population is the longer your initial supplies will need to last.

Once you take into account these things it becomes evident that it would not be easy to revert to an earlier type of system without major disruptions. It is for these reasons that it becomes necessary for the population in general to have the necessary resources to tide them over until infrastructure and skills can adjust to the new reality people find themselves in.

During the cold war the government maintained three years worth of grain in reserve to feed the population until agriculture could recover after a major attack. Today the government keeps little in the way of food for the entire nation. If something happens they depend on resources coming from unaffected areas of the country to help. In a nationwide disaster, there may not be any help to send. This is the reason individuals need to keep the necessary resources on hand to tide them over until the system can be stabilized in some way and some technology can come back on line.

Unfortunately in a worse case disaster, this would only buy some of the population a little time. If the technology we depend on is offline for longer than the resources that are available to the population last, then a mass die-off would ,occur. It is important to remember that only 2% of the nation farms today. Without the modern systems to farm large tracts of land, it would be impossible for any small percentage of the population to feed the whole nation utilizing older, manual techniques. The population would decrease until technology was sufficient to support the population. This would hold true for other parts of the system such as clothing production and healthcare as well.

Because of the high impact this scenario would have on the population, that is the reason people need to resolve to store supplies and resources to care for themselves in the unlikely event this happens. The possession of basic food supplies, medicines, toiletries, energy supplies and alternative transportation and communication systems can provide society the room it needs to extract itself from the worst of the situation. The lack of preparedness will only insure a higher casualty rate and more destruction of surviving infrastructure in the aftermath of an event. The lower the preparedness level of society, the less likely society will be able to survive and rebuild itself.

The “Top Secret” Brookings Report And Alien Life

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Just a few weeks ago, I did a radio show on UFOs that started off on the Men in Black, but which later became focused on the well-known document titled Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs, a part of which was focused on alien life. It was a document written by an employee of the Brookings Institution named Donald N. Michael. The report was contracted by the Committee on Long Range Studies, which was an arm of NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The document was completed and provided to the House of Representatives in the 87th United States Congress on April 18, 1961.

The host of the show referred, on several occasions, to the “top secret” nature of the document. I pointed out that the document had not been top secret at all. “Yes, it was,” was the reply. “No, it was not,” I hit back. Other people who phoned in said the document had a high classification. One caller stated it had “been classified above top secret.” There is no “above top secret” category, by the way. Matters went on like this for around fifteen minutes. Afterwards, and for a few days, I decided to run a little experiment. I spoke to a few people in Ufology about the Brookings report and deliberately steered the conversation in the direction of the supposedly secret document. I was amazed at the number of other people who had assumed the document had been highly classified. One was sure there was a “top secret” stamp on his copy of the report, which is complete crap. All of this demonstrates just how unreliable our memories can be. How do we know this? Well, consider the following:

Do You Feel Something Is Wrong With Our Society? Then You Need To Read This …“

The devil’s finest trick was to persuade you that he doesn’t exist.

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In the December 1960 / January 1961 edition of the NICAP UFO Investigator magazine, a feature appeared under the banner of Space-Life Report Could be Shock. It tells us this: “The discovery of intelligent space beings could have a severe effect on the public, according to a research report released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The report warned that America should prepare to meet the psychological impact of such a revelation. The 190-page report was the result of a $96,000 one-year study conducted by the Brookings Institution for NASA’s long-range study committee.”

As the above extract from NICAP (the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) makes abundantly clear, the ufologists of the day – late 1960 / early 1961 – knew all aboutthe Brookings report. It was not a hidden report. In other words, there was nothing secret about it at all. NICAP added: “Public realization that intelligent beings live on other planets could bring about profound changes, or even the collapse of our civilization, the research report stated. ‘Societies sure of their own place have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society,’ said the NASA report. ‘Others have survived even though changed. Clearly, the better we can come to understand the factors involved in responding to such crises the better prepared we may be. Although the research group did not expect any immediate contact with other planet beings, it said that the discovery of intelligent space races ‘could nevertheless happen at any time.”

NICAP had more to say: “Even though the UFO problem was not indicated as a reason for the study, it undoubtedly was an important factor. Fear of public reaction to an admission of UFO reality was cited as the main reason for secrecy in the early years of the AF [Air Force] investigation. Radio communication probably would be the first proof of other intelligent life, says the NASA report. It adds: ‘Evidences of its existence might also be found in artifacts left on the moon or other planets.’”

And then there was this from NICAP: “…previous thinking by scholars who have suggested that the earth already may be under close scrutiny by advanced space races. In 1958, Prof. Harold D. Lasswell of the Yale Law School stated: ‘The implications of the UFOs may be that we are already viewed with suspicion by more advanced civilizations and that our attempts to gain a foothold elsewhere may be rebuffed as a threat to other systems of public order.’ The NASA warning of a possible shock to the public, from the revelation of more advanced civilizations, support’s NICAP’s previous arguments against AF [Air Force] secrecy about UFOs. All available information about UFOs should be given to the public now, so that we will be prepared for any eventuality.”

Even when I brought all of this to the attentions of friends and colleagues, some were still sure it had been a highly classified document, with one claiming it had remained classified until the 1990s. Garbage! This may have far more to do with the human mind and our memories, rather than sloppy research. I’m reminded of other similar situations and memories of the Fortean kind, such as those concerning the “missing Thunderbird photo,” a subject I’ll get to on another day.

If you’re interested in learning more old remedies, you should read The Lost Book Of Remedies.

The physical book has 300 pages, with 3 colored pictures for every plant and for every medicine.

Lost Book of Remedies pages

It was written by Claude Davis, whose grandfather was one of the greatest healers in America. Claude took his grandfather’s lifelong plant journal, which he used to treat thousands of people, and adapted it into this book.

Learn More…

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A Different Scenario – A Nuclear Power Plan: Defending Against Radiation and Fallout From a Nuclear Nightmare

One of the classic doomsday scenarios, often inappropriately given way more prominence than it deserves, is some type of nuclear event that results in a massive release of radiation.

Let’s understand the nature of radiation and fallout risks – from that understanding can follow a better appreciation of what one needs to protect against and how to do so.  The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are importantly different.

What is Radiation

The term ‘radiation’ covers a lot of different things.  Light is a form of radiation.  So are radio waves.  But for our purposes, radiation can be split into two types.  The first type is relatively safe, and is termed ‘non-ionizing’ radiation, and this includes radio and light waves, plus heat, sound, and various other things.  Non-ionizing radiation is a type of radiation that isn’t thought to make changes to the atomic structure of things it comes into contact with, but it may cause other sorts of changes or side-effects (as you’ll know any time you stick something in a microwave oven, which uses non-ionizing radiation to cook the food you placed in it), so it is not necessarily completely safe.

Our discussion in this article however is about ionizing radiation.  This is radiation that can change the make up of the individual atoms in things it comes into contact with.  That is almost always a bad thing, and in particular, it can break up DNA in living tissues, which can lead to the formation of cancers.

There are five major and relevant types of ionizing radiation, termed alpha, beta, gamma, neutron and X-ray.  Cosmic rays (primarily protons) are also ionizing, but they are a constant thing that does not change with a nuclear explosion, and so we can ignore them for this article’s purposes.

Let’s consider the main properties of these five types of radiation (and for the nuclear physicists reading, yes, we have simplified things somewhat, but hopefully have not compromised the overall accuracy of the article).

Alpha radiation

Alpha particles are the same as Helium-4 nuclei.  They comprise two protons and two neutrons.  They travel at about 5% of the speed of light (ie at a speed of about 10,000 miles in a second) but they are very short range – they typically only travel a couple of inches in air, and can be stopped by a single sheet of paper.

Because of their short-range and low penetration, alpha particles are not much of a problem.

Beta radiation

Beta particles are typically electrons (if you wanted to be fastidious you could say there may be some anti-matter positrons briefly present too, but let’s not dwell on that).  They are typically very fast-moving, and can travel greater distances than alpha particles, and will penetrate further as well (which is sort of implied by their greater range, of course).  They will be blocked by about 1/10th of an inch of aluminum or other metal, or by an inch or more of plastic.

Gamma radiation

Gamma rays are ‘highly energetic photons’.  In case that doesn’t explain much to you, they are fast-moving things (they travel at almost the speed of light) with no mass and no electric charge.  This makes them hard to block, and they can penetrate a considerable distance through most materials.  As a simplification, the more mass of material between you and the gamma rays, the better the material will act to attenuate (ie reduce) the amount of gamma radiation passing through it.

Gamma rays have an effective danger range of only a few miles, by which stage so few will remain as to no longer be harmful.  Depending on the magnitude of the original explosion and the amount of gamma rays released, this danger range is anywhere from under one mile to perhaps three miles.

Neutron radiation

Neutron radiation is – as its name implies – a stream of the sub-atomic particles we call neutrons.  It is also fast-moving, at a similar speed to that of alpha particles.

This type of radiation is nasty.  When a neutron hits an atom, it can change the atom into a different substance, and it can change a stable substance into an unstable (and therefore radioactive) substance.  Neutron radiation of a given level is generally said to be ten times more damaging than gamma or beta radiation.  Oh – and did we mention that they also penetrate very well, requiring a substantial thickness of material to block them.

Water and concrete are good blocking materials.

Neutron radiation has slightly less range than gamma radiation.

X-rays

X-rays are similar to gamma rays and are sometimes released as secondary radiation as part of a radiation event, but are not a primary product released by radioactive material, and so can be ignored for the purpose of this article.

The Shared and Relevant Characteristics of Radiation

The previous section looked at five different types of ionizing radiation, all of which is harmful to living creatures.  They share a couple of important properties – they are all very fast-moving (even the slowest moves at a rate of about 10,000 miles per second) and they are all very small – some are so small as to have no mass or size at all (yes, we know that doesn’t sound sensible, but it is what it is).

They also have moderately short ranges – generally less than 5 miles, and sometimes less than 5 inches.

A nuclear explosion will almost instantly release lots of radiation, and in only a second or so, not only will this radiation have been released, but it will have also traveled as far as it is going to go.  In other words, if you see a nuclear explosion, by the time your eyes have blinked from the bright flash, you’ve already received all the radiation you’re going to get from the immediate explosion itself.

Depending on where you are, that is either a good thing or a bad thing.

What is Fallout

So, what is fallout?  Fallout is all the ‘stuff’ that was in and around the bomb.  Some of this was radioactive to start with – by which we mean, it was emitting ionizing radiation.  Some of the rest of it has become radioactive, as a result of neutron radiation changing the properties of the elements and making them into new radioactive elements.  To be pedantic, you could term this ‘radioactive fallout’ but it seems to often be referred to merely as ‘fallout’, even though not all fallout is necessarily radioactive (but, to a greater or lesser extent, most of it is).

In the case of a bomb that is exploded in the air, most of this fallout material is simply the remains of the bomb itself.  But if a bomb is exploded close to, on, or in the ground, then the neutrons from the initial explosion will react with the soil and any other materials close at hand (buildings, cars, people, whatever) and will make some of that material radioactive, and the force of the explosion will blow all this material up into the air as well, massively increasing the amount of radioactive stuff up in the air.

So far so good.  Now for the ‘fall’ part of the word fallout.  All that stuff in the air is going to gradually settle back down to earth.  An air explosion will typically blow its remaining ‘stuff’ way up into the upper atmosphere, and it will spread perhaps all around the world and gradually settle, more or less evenly, over a huge portion of the earth’s surface.  This is actually a good thing – there is unlikely to be any massive concentration of radioactive fallout in any one place as a result.

But the ground and near ground bursts are very different.  Some of the material will be hurled up into the upper atmosphere, and will slowly fall down over the weeks and months that follow, all around the world, the same as air burst type fallout.  But some of it will only go up a relatively small distance and will fall back to earth more quickly (usually within 24 hours), and more intensely.  Depending on things like wind and rain, this material is likely to come back down to earth in the area downwind of the explosion, and perhaps spread out over 50 – 300 miles.

A ground burst not only creates a massively greater amount of radioactive fallout, but it deposits it more quickly and in a more concentrated pattern.  This is all bad.

Fallout particles range in size from less than 0.1 microns in diameter up to many microns in diameter.  They are dangerous because wherever they land, they are emitting whatever type of radiation it is they will emit.  They can potentially be breathed in to your lungs, and – for example – if you then have an alpha radiation emitter in your lungs, it doesn’t matter that the alpha particles only travel an inch or two and are stopped even by a sheet of paper, because wherever it is they stop, and whatever damage they then do, it will be inside you and to part of you.

Not only can you breathe fallout particles in, you can ingest them from the water you drink, and the food you eat.  Plus, the vegetables and animals you in turn eat or take milk from are doing the same things, and so your food may not only have surface contamination, but may have internal contamination too.  You can reasonably wash fallout off the outside of some food, but you can’t get rid of it once it has become a part of the thing, itself.

How Long is Fallout Dangerous For?

There’s no exact answer to this, any more than there’s an answer to the question ‘How high is up?’.  The danger life of fallout depends on several things – the level of radiation being emitted, and the half-life of the radioactive materials in the fallout.  Fall-out has a veritable soup of different radioactive substances in it, all with different properties.

The ‘half-life’ of something is the time it takes to reduce in activity by 50%.  Half-lives can range in duration from the tiniest fraction of a second at one extreme, to thousands of years at the other extreme.

To give an example of how half-lives work, let’s say there is a product with a 10 day half-life.  If it is emitting 1024 units of radiation a second at the start of the measuring period, then in 10 days it will be emitting half that rate, 512 units/second.  Now for the trick.  In another ten days time, it doesn’t use up the other half, and drop to zero.  Instead, it uses up half of what remains, so it loses half of the 512 units, and at the end of the 20 days, it will be emitting 256 units of radiation/second.

In another 10 days (30 days total), it will be down to 128 units of activity per second.  At the 40 day point it is down to 64 units, at 50 days it is 32 units, and at 60 days – two months – it is now down to 16 units.

So the rate of reduction of radioactivity slows down.  The first 10 days saw a drop from 1024 units of radiation a second down to 512 units/second.  But the ten days from 60 days to 70 days sees a reduction from 16 down to 8 units – not really much of a change at all.  Furthermore, it sort of never ever gets all the way to zero.  When it is down to 1 unit, the next half-life period takes it to 0.5 units, then to 0.25, and so on down and down but never quite reaching zero.

If the acceptable level of radiation is, say, 10 units/second, then at the 70 day point, when it is down to 8 units a second, it has become relatively ‘safe’, and at the 80 day point and only 4 units a second, it is even safer still, and at 100 days (1 unit/second) you sort of forget about it entirely.

The good news is that many of the most radioactive substances have relatively short half-lives – their half-lives are short because they are so radioactive.  So while you read about radioactive contaminated materials with half-lives of thousands of years, it is usually the case that these very long-lived substances only emit low levels of radiation.

Defending Against Radiation and Fallout From a Nuclear Explosion

Your best defense against the initial release of radiation is to choose your location carefully, so you’re not within range of any likely targets.  If you’re a ‘glass half full’ kinda guy, the ‘good news’ is that if you are within range of the initial radiation release from a nuclear explosion, that is probably the least of your worries.  You’ll probably be toasted to death from the heat, or crushed by the blast, long before the radiation kills you.

The bigger risk is the fallout from the blast.  Again, you should choose your location as wisely as you can.  As long as you can keep at least 20 miles from all air-burst targets, you’re probably going to be okay from air burst effects.  Unfortunately, the ground bursts are much more troublesome, because who is to really know which direction for sure will be downwind on the day?  You don’t want to be within several hundred miles of targets that are likely to receive ground bursts.

What types of targets will qualify for ground bursts?  Only specialized targets, because for general effect and damage, air bursts are much more effective.  But things like missile silos will definitely get ground bursts, and depending on their nature, other ‘hardened targets’ may also get ground bursts.

There’s another factor at play, too.  Fratricide and general errors, failures and mistake.  Not all missiles that are sent in our direction are guaranteed to explode exactly on their designated targets, and at the heights programmed into their warheads.  Some may explode high, others low, and some might go way off target.  Not only are ICBMs a little-tested technology, but routes over the North Pole are difficult to navigate, and with the very high re-entry speeds, even  a slight second of delay can mean a missile is way off course or too high or too low.  Add to that possible distortions caused by anti-missile events, and also what is termed ‘fratricide’ – the result of one missile’s detonation impacting on other missiles close to it, and a high intensity exchange of warheads could well end up with explosions going off hundreds of miles from where they were planned.

So the further away you are from anywhere that might receive any type of attack, the better you’ll be.

Now, for the fallout protection.  If you end up getting a bucket load of high intensity fall-out dumped on you, and survive the initial experience, then you’re just plain completely out of luck for the next some decades, possibly even hundreds of years.  Your only strategy will be to shelter until the fallout has all settled, and then to evacuate to a safer area, probably tens or even hundreds of miles away.

If you however get only a mild level of fallout, you’d be well advised to stay inside and to filter your air supply until the fall-out has done its thing and settled.

Your initial forays outside (ie to sample the area for radioactivity levels) should involve you wearing protective clothing (ideally exposing no skin at all), a breathing mask and goggles, and a decontamination process outside your dwelling prior to re-entering it, so you don’t bring in any radioactive material upon your return.

Opinions differ as to how long to expect radiation levels in fallout to subside – perhaps because different types of nuclear weapons, and different scenarios for their use, result in different mixes of radioactive materials, with different levels of radiation being emitted and different half-lives..  It seems that using three to five weeks as a prudent period to allow for levels to appreciably drop might be appropriate, and so you should factor the ability to survive, entirely inside, for at least twice that period of time, so as to be reasonably well prepared for such situations.

You should also be measuring radioactivity levels yourself, and keeping a record of them so you can try to see what the trend lines suggest (although this is difficult because there are a mix of different materials with differing half-lives, so there is no simple curve that you can plot and extrapolate).

Note also that radiation will probably not be evenly distributed everywhere on your property.  You’ll want to survey the property, and to map out ‘hot spots’ and safe zones, and to then keep away from the hot spots (and/or take steps to mitigate the dangers they pose) while concentrating your ongoing activities in the safer areas.

Beyond that point, practical considerations also intrude.  If it is winter, and there’s no need to be outside, then of course you can play it safer and stay inside more.  But if it is summer and there is work to be done outside, you need to decide what to do, and maybe rotate outside assignments between different people in your community, spreading the exposure more widely.

A Different Scenario – A Nuclear Power Plant Problem

The good thing about a bomb is that it does its work all in a fraction of a second, and after that fraction of a second, it is done and finished.  Sure, you might have to live with the consequences for a long time, but at least the initial event that created the problem has ceased.

But a nuclear power plant problem can be an ongoing issue, that releases nuclear material not just for a split second, but for hours or even days or weeks.  You may have ongoing releases of new material for an extended time.

Perhaps the best (worst?) example of such a scenario occurred in Japan in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daichii power plant in Japan.  An earthquake caused the working reactors at the multi-reactor site to shut down, and emergency diesel power generators started up to keep the cooling pumps circulating water through the power plant cores.  The subsequent tsunami flooded the generator rooms, causing the generators to fail, and without power, the cooling pumps stopped, allowing temperatures in the reactor cores to go dangerously high, with three reactors melting down.

The problems started on 11 March, and significant releases of nuclear materials continued for two weeks or longer (depending on where you draw the line on ‘significant’ releases), and material was still being released a month after the event started.  Here’s a great timeline.

It is probable that less radioactive material, in total, was released at Fukishima than at Chernobyl, but it occurred more recently, over a longer time line, and in full real-time view of the world’s news programs, making it a higher-profile event.

Furthermore, the Chernobyl disaster was relatively short-lived (pretty much all over and done with in less than a day), and we in the west only got wind of it (almost literally so) some time after the problem had been controlled, so there was less opportunity for angst and anguish.

There are a lot of variables at play with a nuclear power plant release of radioactive material.  It could involve any or all types of radiation, and it might be released into the upper atmosphere or instead have a short ride up and a fast ride down again, pooling in concentrated area.  Have a look at this map of contamination levels that were still in place in 1996, ten years after the event, to get a visual feeling for how strange the pattern of radiation concentration can be.

Try and locate up wind of nuclear power plants, and the further away you can be from them, the less risk you’ll run (although note the distribution pattern from Chernobyl where there was a relatively safe zone in the middle distance, with more dangerous areas both closer to the power plant, as you’d expect, but also further away, too).

A Depression Era Economics Lesson – When this system fails it will cause much discomfort and even death for some that are not able to adapt to the changing times

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When the great depression hit in the 1930’s, many people had a difficult time surviving. When the system they depended on ceased to function properly, they no longer had the ability to earn a living wage and care for their families. Even at a time when you could get a meal for a nickel, many people struggled to feed themselves.

In many rural areas, farmers faced the difficulty of being able to even grow enough to feed themselves. The drought that accompanied the depression left many no choice but to move to more hospitable locations where jobs could be found.

Some people were in a much better position to weather the national problems than others. They were not rich in monetary terms but they had a stable living condition that enabled them to get by as always.

In the rural community that my family had called home for over 100 years, my family got by better than most. The fact that many of the people were watermen, that made their living on the Chesapeake Bay catching various types of seafood throughout the year, made the depression different for them. As my father related to me, they really didn’t know there was a depression going on most of the time.

The men went to work every morning catching what they could. Anything they couldn’t sell was taken home for dinner. Everyone had a garden and maybe some chickens and a hog out back providing meat for the winter. The area was also surrounded by many small farms producing many things they could trade for. Nobody had much money but the area teemed with the things that were needed to get by and barter was the norm.

Electricity was not seen in the community until the late 1940’s and few people had a car. These people really did live off the grid. That was the norm for them and they got by very well even with the national economy in a state of hard times. They could not buy many of the things they needed so those things had to be made out of whatever materials they had.

There are many stories like this that have been told and they are worth listening to once again. These stories provide the foundation people will need when the economy fails again in spectacular fashion leaving many in dire straits. When everything fails you have to go back to what works. That is a lesson that our ancestors have left for us to follow if we have the sense to learn from their hardships.

The current generation has known nothing but excess and prosperity. When the system turns down again they will be lost without all of the creature comforts and gadgets they are used to getting with great ease. They have been raised with the notion that everything is easy and when that paradigm fails they will not know how to cope with reality. This is the problem we face and must deal with in the months to come.

There are two lessons that can be taken from this story. When hard times come your location and creativity can make up for many shortfalls in life. Those things can make the difference between suffering and having a decent standard of living. Living in an area rich with resources allows you to produce many of the things you need locally with little money and can even provide you with a stream of income. The lack of resources in your area can make things very difficult over the long term.

The current generation has lost the ability to trouble shoot the problems they are faced with and come up with simple solutions. Creativity is something many people no longer possess and that is one of the things that will make life hard on them. The greatest generation knew how to devise creative solutions to their problems that allowed them to get by and even prosper. That is a lesson we need to take away from the last depression.

It is good for people to plan for hard times by stocking up, learning to produce food and storing real money for times of need but that will not be enough when the time comes. Your location and the ability to be creative and solve the many problems you will face will be necessary ingredients to surviving the coming hard times. Keeping your plans simple and learning the ways of our grandparents will help in ways we cannot even contemplate at this time but their wisdom will be as critical as your other supplies. One of the many slogans that came from that time is worth remembering.

When the economy as we know it fails, the only thing you can do is to return to an earlier point in time that depended on a simpler more functional system and utilize the available resources. When mechanized farming fails it may be necessary to return to less mechanized methods and cheaper alternatives to grow the food and fibers we need for survival. The thought of having to go backwards to get to the future is not pretty and will likely be difficult but sometimes that is the only way to move forward.

Surviving during a collapsing economy where systems we depend on cease to function requires individual actions to reduce the hardship that will ultimately overwhelm society and cause societal breakdown on most levels. Skills to lessen the hardships are critical to stabilization and recovery. These skills are the only way to utilize available resources to provide the necessities of society. The first things individuals strive to produce are food, shelter and clothing. These are the very basic things people need to survive over time. Later, other things such as security, medicine, communication and transportation become necessary to form a more cohesive community.

The skills to grow and store food, purify water, build shelter, make clothing, produce heat and light, produce energy to power machines, produce medicines and administer healthcare, harvest and move raw materials and communicate over long distances are skills necessary today and will continue to be vital in times of economic distress.

The skills and resources to provide these things are the foundation of a functional society. The lack of these things results in chaos and anarchy that prevents the construction of sustainable systems that a functional society needs to grow. The special skills needed to utilize available resources depends on the location of the person and the natural resources available for development. Because of this, different locations may develop along somewhat different lines but the destination is the same.

The need to know or learn these skills is necessary now while the social situation is stable enough to enable persons to plan and prepare for the hardships we will ultimately face as the economy fails due to fraud and mismanagement. Those with a lack of skills and resources will be a detracting factor on society as hardships increase and constitute an ever present danger for those with the resources to survive the times. These are the things that everyone must prepare for now while the system is still intact. There are no guarantees for tomorrow.