The basics of crowd safety

With the celebrations for Montreal’s 375th birthday underway there are large numbers of cool free events on offer.  It’s also the start of the festival season!  With this in mind my thoughts have turned to crowd safety or how to stay safe in a crowd.  Fortunately there are tips and tricks you can use to try and ensure your own safety, and that of those you love when in a crowd.

Some advanced preparation can keep you safer around big crowds. Click To Tweet
Advanced preparation

As with all things some advanced preparation is necessary.  If you are going somewhere you know will be crowded, there are some things you can do to put luck on your side:

  1.  Having the right shoes is one of the most important items.  I’ve covered this before in Your style choices will kill you.  Being able to walk (or run) away can be an easy and fast way to reduce your danger.
  2. Consider avoiding loose or baggy clothing that could catch on things.
  3. If you are going to be outside make sure you factor in the elements.  Bring water and a hat if you will be in the sun, or a wind/rainproof jacket otherwise.  As always layering is key to regulating body temperature.
  4. Always bring some cash and carry it in two places.  Consider pickpockets and keep your precious goods where they are least accessible.
  5. Keep everything else you’re bringing to a minimum.
  6. If you’re going with kids, take a picture of them ahead of time and make sure they have your cellphone number in their pocket.
Going somewhere crowded? Look for exits and choke-points and keep an eye on the mood of the event. Click To Tweet
Onsite

The first thing to do is determine where your meetup spot will be if you get separated.  Make sure everyone understands this and can recognize it easily.

Next you want to check exits.  It’s important not only to know where the closest exit is but also where other exits might be in case that one is unavailable.  It’s also worth thinking about where there are potential choke-points, which have the potential to be dangerous. There are likely measures in place to deal with various  emergencies.  Keep your ears open for any warnings or instructions that might be broadcast.

Keep an eye on the mood of the event.  This is part of Situation Awareness that we have discussed previously.  As soon as people are starting to seem angry or pushy, then it’s time to leave.  But do so calmly, do not run as that can make you a target.

Dealing with Crowd Crush and Stampedes

Crowds themselves can be very dangerous, when panic or herd mentality kick in people are no longer thinking straight.  It’s important to try and stay calm and deal with the situation at hand.  According to Paul Wertheimer a leading expert on crowd safety “crowd crush” and not stampede kills the most people.  Crowd crush happens when people surge together usually to get something “important” like a deal or the attention of a celebrity.  The best way to deal with it is remove yourself from danger before it’s an issue.

If it’s already too late to get away, then crowds in either situation can be treated like a riptide.  Instead of trying to work against the crowd try and follow the flow.  Look for openings and when you see them move diagonally through the crowd.  If you are in a group then link arms, if you have kids pick them up.  If possible keep your arms at chest height, because you don’t want them to get pinned.  Make sure you stay standing and if anyone around you falls help them up immediately.  You could save their life and it will be safer for you if they aren’t there to trip over.

 

There will unfortunately always be some added danger to going anywhere with crowds.  People are unpredictable and crowds can be targets for those with malicious intent.  However for me being a Prepper means being as safe as possible and not simply avoiding everything that life has to offer.  Hopefully with the tips I’ve given above you can keep yourself and your family safer in a crowd.

If you’re interested in learning more about crowd safety I would suggest these two links.  The first talks about a stampede at the Hajj in 2015.  The second is an audio interview with Paul Wertheimer an expert in crowd safety.

Stay Safe

 

Prepper Montreal

Situational Awareness is a key prepping skill.

Most preppers understand that skills are more important that stuff.  But which skills are the important ones?  Situational Awareness specifically is one of the key skills that you can develop as a prepper that could potentially save your life.

What is situational Awareness?

For the purposes of prepping and disaster readiness you can define situational awareness as understanding of your current situation and predicting how it may change.  In scientific circles it is broken down into 3 progressing levels: Perception, Comprehension and Projection. Perception is simply being aware of your environment. Comprehension is understanding your environment and what is shaping it.  Projection is determining what happens next.  We should all aim for the highest level of situational awareness in disaster situations.

The highest level of situational awareness is predicting what will happen next. Click To Tweet

Although you’ve probably never put a name to it you are likely already using situational awareness regularly.  A good example is if you have ever been driving along and just knew another driver was going to cut you off before it happened.  This is an example of Projection and the more experience you have with driving and the more you pay attention when you drive the more likely this is to happen.

How is situational awareness useful?

The advantage of situational awareness at the highest level is that it could give you a head start on any situation.  It allows you to start reacting before a specific situation starts to play out and this can make all the difference.  Lacking situational awareness on the other hand is a primary factor in accidents attributed to human error.  Simply said people that are not paying attention or not understanding what they see are more prone to screwing things up.

This skill is not limited to observing people either.  If for example you are cutting down a tree with a chainsaw have you taken a moment to look around and be aware of your surroundings?  Are you on level ground? Is there wind and if yes in what direction? Are there other people around?  Is the tree dead or diseased?  Where will the tree fall if cut a specific way?  Taking the time to notice and understand these things can make a big difference to your safety and to the safety of people around you.

How do you improve situational awareness?
The first step to improving situational awareness is looking up from your phone. Click To Tweet

The first and most important things is to take the time to observe your environment regularly.  Become more aware of your surroundings.  If you would normally be staring at your phone take a break to look around, become aware of what is occurring around you and try and figure out what will happen next.

Always be on the lookout for things that aren’t normal or seem wrong.  Is someone’s behavior off somehow or are they acting inappropriately to the place or situation they are in?  Are they somehow uncomfortable?  Ask yourself why.

Get comfortable with your tools and how to use them.  The more comfortable you are with them the more awareness you can maintain of your surroundings while using them.  Don’t get too focused.

Understand your current head space and how it’s effecting your perception and judgement.  Are you hungry or tired?  Could this be reducing your awareness or pushing you towards incorrect assumptions?

 

Interested in learning more about situational awareness and how to improve check the links below:

Do you know of other good blogs or articles about situational awareness?  Let me know!

 

Stay Safe

Prepper Montreal

My knife (or flashlight) is better than yours

If you have spent any time in the prepper community or browsing prepper groups online it will not be long before people are asking for advice on knives.  The same applies to flashlights.  These two tools more than any other prepper items seem to be the focus of many discussion threads and in person chats.

The $200+ knife

If you look up recommendations you will quickly find that many (maybe even most) will fall north of $200+ and sometimes much much more.  There will be endless back and forth on the benefits of this type vs. that type of steel and for having or not having a specific feature.  For flashlights the discussion will hinge around batteries and the output in lumens.

My knife is better than yours and other #prepper nonsense. Click To Tweet

So is a having a knife or flashlight this expensive really that important to survival?  Of course not!  Knives (and flashlights to a more limited degree) are status symbols.  They are the item that every prepper will have and can be compared and contrasted add nauseum without any consensus.  To my mind the primary purpose for having a knife or flashlight this expensive is to provoke envy in others.

Unfortunately there is an entire industry out there eager to join and capitalize on these discussions.  It’s important to remember that preppers are big business and getting them to buy something really expensive can make a huge difference to their bottom line.

How to combat this

I won’t lie to you, I struggle with this sometimes and regularly have knife and flashlight envy, you can see below I lost once as well.  But how do I combat this now?  I keep in mind that these are simply tools and that they do very specific jobs.  Knives cut and flashlights illuminate.  That’s all!

One of my favorite mental games is to swap out the knife or flashlight with a screwdriver.  That helps bring into focus just how ridiculous these discussions can be.  Would you pay $200 for a screwdriver? I certainly hope not!

Knives and flashlights are just tools. Smart #preppers don't buy the most expensive versions. Click To Tweet
Where is the danger

The problem is that for %99.99 of us resources are limited.  This means if you are buying a $200+ knife you are not spending $200+ on other things that could save your life like food stores, water filters and training.  Simply said you’re exchanging a luxury good for something that can keep you alive.

With flashlights it can be even more dangerous as many recommendations will require special batteries that will not be readily available should things start to go wrong.

My recommendations

I want to be clear.  I don’t recommend you buy crap.  What I am saying is that you need to do your research and when it comes to buying you might want to avoid your first choice because it’s pretty and go for something more affordable and practical.

Because it’s bound to come up here is what I own:

I will put up a post in the not too distant future to explain why I’ve made some of the choices above.

Stay Safe!

PrepperMTL

Where to start with #Prepping

You’ve decided that it’s time to start prepping.  No matter how you came to this decision you require a path forward.  In this post I will outline reliable and practical starting points in your prepping journey and discuss some potential pitfalls for new preppers.

Gathering Information

There are a lot of unreliable sources of information out there when it comes to prepping.  Many have a vested interest in convincing you of something (often in order to sell you a solution).  See my thoughts on this in Avoid 2 out of 3 types of Preppers.

Given reliable source of information are hard to find where do you start?  With your government.  Why?!  Because it’s in their interest for you to be prepared in emergencies.  The more prepared you are the less strain you will be on their infrastructure when things go wrong.

The best source of information for a starting #prepper is frequently a government website. Click To Tweet

Listed below are all the government run prepping sites I’ve found for the most populous English speaking Countries.

  • Canada: https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/
  • US: https://www.ready.gov/ and https://www.fema.gov/
  • New Zealand: http://www.getthru.govt.nz/
  • India: http://www.ndma.gov.in/en/
  • Pakistan: http://www.ndma.gov.pk/
  • Ireland: https://www.emergencyplanning.ie/

The following countries unfortunately seem to have little emphasis on public education for disaster preparation and their sites are a little lackluster.

  • UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-emergencies/preparing-for-emergencies
  • Australia: https://emknowledge.org.au/
  • South Africa: http://www.ndmc.gov.za/
  • Philippines: http://www.gov.ph/aquino-administration/disaster-preparedness/

[Side note: If you have better sites or sites for other countries you think should be listed please let me know!]

Taking your next step

The sites above should provide you a general outline of what you can do to prepare for an emergency.  Follow their suggestions and begin to get yourself setup.  You will generally see an emphasis on creating a plan, storing food and water for 3 days, and ensuring you having flashlights and radios for use in a power outage.   These are all great suggestions and a good starting point.

The next step will be to think about which specific emergencies are most likely to occur in your situation.  Do you live in tornado alley?  Are you in a flood plain?  Does the power cut out all the time?  Many of the sites above have documents for dealing with more specific situations like these.  Use those documents to add to your supplies and your plan.

Time to buy a …

By this point you are probably chomping at the bit to go out and buy some cool knife, some gadget or kit that you have read will save you in every situation.  Don’t believe the hype!  They are rarely as useful as they make themselves out to be and if you don’t know what you’re doing in the first place they are unlikely to be all that useful.

“But I have all this money and it’s burning a hole in my pocket!!” That’s fantastic, time to get you some training.  The best thing you can do as a new prepper is to go out and learn some skills.

When #prepping remember skills are more important that stuff. Click To Tweet

Start with First Aid Training.  Now!  This is by far one of the most important things you can do as a prepper and as a person.  First aid training simply said is one of the most likely ways you will save someone’s life.

There are plenty of other subjects you can also get trained on: Gardening, Hunting, Trapping, Fishing, Foraging, Camping, Self Defense, Home Security, Defensive Driving, Portable Fire Extinguisher use and many others.  You may even be able to find good sources for this information out there on the internet.  Just be careful about what sources you are using, prepping has become big business and there are lots of people who want a piece of your money.

Time to buy a …?

Eventually, slowly, you can start to buy yourself gadgets.  But remember that the most important thing about having prepping stuff is knowing how to use it safely and effectively.  Don’t buy things and just stash them away.  Buy them and take the time to use them and get used to them.

If you don't know how to use your #prepping gadget it might as well be a rock. Click To Tweet

 

If you follow the simple path I have laid out above then you should already be well on your way to becoming an effective prepper.  Remember this is all about building yourself a strong base and ensuring that you can handle the emergencies that you are most likely to experience as outlined in The Prepper Pyramid.

Stay Safe!

PrepperMTL

What’s your #prepping communications plan?

Communication is a hugely important and often overlooked part of prepping.  Even for “Minor” emergencies an effective communications plan can be the difference between chaos and order or even life and death.  This post will therefore provide a framework for creating effective communication plans.

I deal with this subject in three different sections.  How to prepare before the emergency, how to find out about the emergency and how to communicate during an emergency.

Communications Preparation
A key part of communications #Prepping is actually having a plan Click To Tweet

This may seem silly but this is something you should think out and prepare ahead.  It will mean that when things go bad you know exactly what to do.  You may even want to have a list of steps that you can simply follow.  That way you don’t need to think about it or can hand this off as a task to someone else.  A few things to consider if you are starting to put together a plan:

  • Who do you contact?
  • Are you giving a heads up or expecting action?
  • What will you expect from them?
  • Do they understand your expectations?
  • How will you contact them?
    Consider text message as your go-to.  It uses less bandwidth and is more likely to get through when the cell system is likely to be strained.  Creating a text group ahead of time is a good idea.  Something online like WhatsApp might also be a good option.

In addition to having a plan there are a few others things you should do:

  • Ensure you have ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts on your phone and that they are accessible without unlocking your phone.
  • Keep your phone charged and keep a spare battery charged.
  • If you will be travelling ensure that you know what the local emergency numbers are (911 in North America, 999 in the UK, 112 in the EU, etc.)
Emergency Awareness
Ensuring you are aware of emergencies as they occur is key in #prepping Click To Tweet

Frequently overlooked this section is vitally important to ensure yourself the best possible head start should things start going wrong.  If everyone else around you knows things have suddenly gone bad and you don’t this is a huge disadvantage.

As a Canadian I cannot overemphasize the importance of installing the Weather Network App.  The reason is that this is the only app that officially supports the Alert Ready network and is the only way for you to be alerted on your smartphone.

This however should not be your only option.  You should also consider having a radio setup to broadcast any alerts as soon as they arrive.  This can either be through a dedicated alert channel or by tuning that radio into one of the official NPAS stations. In addition to those measures I also follow several local emergency twitter accounts (in a list) to ensure that I can immediately get more details as soon as I find out something is wrong.

Communication during an Emergency
Situational awareness and inter group communication are key during emergencies. Click To Tweet

Things have definitely gone wrong now.  You have sent out your first round of communication as detailed above and need to establish a more sustainable infrastructure for communications.

Keeping awareness is important.  You will need to have some form of radio which can be charged easily.  Crank and solar options are quite plentiful.  This will be a key way to keep yourself informed as things continue to evolve.

Inter group communication is also important.  Having some method of communicating with the rest of your group or team when you might be separated will be important to ensuring your mutual safety.  A portable hand-held radio can be a great option for this.  There are options out there like Firechat which will allow you to communicate without a grid in place however they are currently quite limited due to lack of adoption and technological limitations.

For longer term and great distance communication it may be a good idea to get familiar with CB Communication.  There are many resources out there who are better prepared to get you up to speed on this.

The Catastrophic or End of World level of preparation for all of this is to keep your technology stored in a Faraday cage.  It is very unlikely this will be needed but if you are storing them out of the way already then it probably won’t take much time or effort.

That’s all I have for now.  Can you see anything I’ve missed?  If so give me a shout out in the comments below!

Stay Safe!

PrepperMTL

Your style choices will kill you.

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What you wear out in winter could really hurt you. Follow one simple rule to stay safe.


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It’s undeniably and unequivocally winter here in Montreal.  On bad days there is snow halfway up to your knees or a slushy slurry of snow and near frozen water that could very quickly result in frostbite or worse.

..and yet I still see people making fashion choices that could potentially kill them.  The worst offenders are often a complete and total disaster but many others could still do a lot to keep themselves safer.

The way I see it there is one basic rule of thumb that could save your life when leaving the house in winter.

Winter Prepping: Could you walk home in that? If not then you are endangering yourself! Click To Tweet
Let’s start this discussion from the bottom up as usually that is the most frequent and blattant offense (especially for women).  Appropriate footwear is an absolute must in winter.  You never know when you may need to walk outside or how far you will need to go.  Sure the sidewalk might be fine right now but if it really starts to come down how are you going to fare with what is on your feet.  At the very least you need something that is warm and waterproof.  The higher the boot the better to keep snow out and yourself warm. Most people won’t want to wear winter boots wherever they are headed so just bring a change of shoes.  No real Montrealler will fault you and most bars will have a coat check or something similar that will accept your boots.

Next top offender is the jacket.  No matter how fashionable you think it looks, if you are shivering you look like an idiot.  The secret here is proper layering.  You don’t need a jacket good to -60 C but you do need layers that will see you through at least 10 C lower than forecast.  Take the layers off when you get where you are going and use the to moderate your body temperature on the way.  Everyone will still be able to see your expensive coat and you can stay warm and safe.  Try and remember when you first try it on you need some room to layer.  In this case something longer is also better.

Third are a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens.  Your fingers and ears are among the parts most likely to suffer frostbite.  A good hat or tuque needs to cover your ears completely.  Warm and waterproof gloves are also essential and dependant how cold it is you may want to layer here as well and keep a thin pair inside a larger outer pair. The scarf is necessary so that you can cover most of your face if the wind is blowing.

Next I would suggest a quick review of your EDC (Every Day Carry).  Personally I keep several extra things in my primary winter coat including:

  • Extra cash in case I really need a taxi
  • Hand/Foot warmers
  • Kleenex/Facial tissue
  • An extra flashlight

Although not stritly a clothing choice being informed about upcoming weather can also be key.  I never put all my faith in the weatherman knowing it’s an inexact science, but I do still check for any weather warning signs.  Freezing rain, snowstorms and extreme cold can be very dangerous and should be treated with respect.

None of this is rocket science but it is the uncommonly found ‘common sense’.  You simply never know when things could go bad so you try and make sure you are as prepared as possible.

Winter Prep: When leaving the house ask yourself. Could I walk home in this? Click To Tweet

Stay Safe!

Prepper Montreal

Avoid 2 out of 3 types of Preppers

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When you start #prepping you need to find trusted sources of information. Here are two types of preppers to avoid.


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So you’re new to prepping. You’ve had this itch in the back of your mind that something might happen.  Maybe a friend or a family member asked you what you have done to prepare for an emergency.  You weren’t sure what to answer but you want to take the first step.

As with most things you started with a search on the net. Oh Boy! a LOT of crazy stuff has come up.   If you spent any time going through the results or checking comments you will quickly find articles ranting and raving about the Illuminati, TEOTWAWKI and SHTF.  What a turn off!!  All you want to do is try to make sure that you and your family are safe.

The truth is that there is a ton of misinformation out there. There are also plenty of people who are out to exploit or convert you.

In #prepping trusted sources of information can be hard to find. Click To Tweet

From my own experience you can can divide the prepping community into three basic types of people.

  1. End of the Worlders: They talk about guns, ammo, bunkers and years of food and water storage.  They may be very wary of the government or have one too many pet conspiracies.
  2. Product Pushers: They tell you that some gadget or book will miraculously save you no matter the situation. They send links to products or tell you how great their latest book is.
  3. People like you: They  want to make their families safer the way you do but often get lost in the sea of other voices.

The first two types of peppers can be very vocal and drown out the third because they have a vested interest in getting your attention. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy filter you can just turn on.

When you start #prepping you need to build a set of trusted resources. Click To Tweet

You need to find those trusted resources and use them to start down the road to makeing you and your family safer.  My suggestion to you is avoid those first two types when you’re starting.

When you start #prepping avoid 'End of Worlders' or 'Product Pushers'. Click To Tweet

To be clear I think the first two types of preppers may have valuable information.  I just wouldn’t suggest starting there.  Personally I started by looking at recommendations from the local, state and federal authorities who have a vested interest in my well being.  They have well developed programs and a ton of resources to help you prepare for many different (and likely) situations.  If you don’t trust your own government then take a look at someone elses.  I’ll share a few ideas of where to start in a future post but would love to know what other resources you suggest either as a new or experienced prepper.  Give me a shout out in the comments below!

Stay Safe!

PrepperMTL