Classic Movie Moments: Sometimes you Just need an RPG to solve a Problem

The Mid-Season Premiere of Season 6 of Walking Dead last night began with a Bang when Daryl Rescued the group from a gang of rogue Bikers with a RPG he had hidden under the bumper of a stolen dump truck.

Can you say Biker Bar-B-Q? ūüôā


Survival Computing: When “The Cloud” Goes Dark

By HCS Technical Staff

When you imagine the archetypal Walking Dead/Katrina/Tornado type disaster scenario, we creatures of comfort may find the thought of our electronic gadgets and gizmos being rendered useless utterly terrifying.

The truth of the matter is that hardware and software used to send, store, and receive information (‚ÄúIT‚ÄĚ or Information Technology) is even more valuable than before in a disaster scenario.

If the power goes out for an extended period of time, we may not be able to access “Cloud” (buzzword for stuff hosted on the Internet‚Ķ) services such as this blog, Google Docs, and DropBox but we can still readily retrieve the information we need to survive.

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Surviving a Tornado

With the recent outbreak and violent aftermath of F4 tornadoes in Indiana, Kentucky and the midwest, I thought it pertinent to go over the fundmanetal tornado survival basics and a few maybe you did not know. This has been one of the most violent tornado outbreaks in recent history, with a confirmed 39 dead at most recent count. The most horrifying and heroic story came out Marysville, Indiana, a small town of 2,000 that was literally flattened and swallowed up by a F4 tornado.

Stephanie Decker, wife and mother of two children was home in Marysville that fateful day. Binding herself and her children up in a blanket and huddling in the basement of their home, Stephanie shielded her kids from the falling debris. One large piece of roofing had fallen on her and pinned her body underneath. When the storm had passed, her 8 year old son Dominic, ran for help. After it all was said and done, Stephanie had lost both her legs, one above the knee and another above the ankle, but had survived, and thanks to her sacrifice, both her children had too.

Learning how to Survive and Prepare for Natural Disasters (like tornadoes) should be at the top of the Civilian Operators Training list. Before we can adequately prepare for such an event, we need to get some facts straight. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is a great resource to get such information. Here is a small snapshot of some data we need to memorize.

1. What is the difference between a tornado WATCH and WARNING?

A tornado watch defines a box-shaped area where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It means that you need to be alert, and be prepared to go to safe shelter if tornadoes happen or a warning is issued. If you have a NOAA Weather Radio and have it set up correctly it will alert you to the watch. Tune in to local TV or radio for more information. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted, or that Doppler radar shows a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for your area, seek safe shelter immediately. The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches. Your local National Weather Service offices issue tornado warnings.

2. What are some common weather “factors” that¬†can be recognized before a Tornado?

  • A sickly greenish or greenish black color to the sky.
  • If there is a watch or warning posted, then the fall of hail should be considered as a real danger sign. Hail¬†can be common in some areas, however, and usually has no tornadic activity along with it.
  • A strange quiet that occurs within or shortly after the thunderstorm.
  • Clouds moving by very fast, especially in a rotating pattern or converging toward one area of the sky.
  • A sound a little like a waterfall or rushing air at first, but turning into a roar as it comes closer. The sound of a tornado has been likened to that of both railroad trains and jets.
  • Debris dropping from the sky.
  • An obvious “funnel-shaped” cloud that is rotating, or debris such as branches or leaves being pulled upwards, even if no funnel cloud is visible.

3. WHAT causes most of the fatalities in Tornadoes? WHERE are the majority of these fatalities?

Flying or falling debris. The wind speed from a F4 tornado have been measured at over 200mph!! The Tornado funnel itself can move at speeds of 20-30 mph. Any object moving at 200mph that hits you or falls on you will kill you instantly. Most tornado deaths occur people in vehicles and mobile homes. No matter what that salesman tells you, mobile homes disintegrate in 100mph wind. Never try to outrun a tornado, no matter how fast your car is! Exit the vehicle ASAP and find the interior room of a solid structure or a semi-deep drainage ditch. Although an overpass may seem like a good spot, it still leaves you open to flying debris. Although it is thought that most Tornadoes travel on a Southwest to Northeast trajectory, that is not a scientific fact, so be prepared for them to come from any direction.

4. WHERE is the safest place at HOME to be in a Tornado?

  • In a basement, away from the west and south walls. Hiding under a heavy work-table or under the stairs will protect the family from crumbling walls, chimneys, and large airborne debris falling into the cellar. A family in the April 8th, 1998 tornado in the Birmingham, Alabama area survived because a hutch toppled and was held up by the dining room table they were under. That hutch helped deflect the debris that would have struck them. Old blankets, quilts and an unused mattress will protect against flying debris, but they should be stored in the shelter area. Precious time can be lost by trying to find these items at the last minute.
  • In a small, windowless, first floor, interior room like a closet or bathroom. The bathtub and commode are anchored directly into the ground, and sometimes are the only thing left in place after the tornado. Getting into the bathtub with a couch cushion over you gives you protection on all sides, as well as an extra anchor to the foundation. Plumbing pipes may or may not help hold the walls together, but all the extra framing that it takes to put a bathroom together may make a big difference. If there is no downstairs bathroom and the closets are all packed with “stuff,” a hall may be the best shelter. Put as many walls as you can between yourself and the tornado. In a pinch, put a metal trash over as much of you as you can. It will keep some flying debris from injuring you. Even that may make the difference between life and death.

5. WHERE is the safest place at WORK to be during a Tornado?

Interior rooms and halls are the best locations in large buildings. Central stairwells are good, but elevators are not. If the building loses power, you may be in the elevator for a long time. Stay away from glass walls and windows, no matter how small.

Despite early warning systems, the best warning you will get according to the NSSL is 11 Minutes..that is a pitiful head start, so it is imperative we plan ahead and work the plan when we get the word. Just like a fire drill, the entire family needs to know the plan and this plan needs to be drilled on frequently. We also need to¬†keep a fully stocked BOB or Disaster kit¬†in our shelter area. The Red-Cross¬†has a decent starter preparedness kit list. One item in this list that needs not be ignored is the NOAA Hand Crank/Solar Radio. These can be had for under $50 and are an absolute must have. I recently bought a¬†Kaito Solar Radio’s from Amazon and have been more than pleased; with the NOAA 7 weather bands, you can get your local forecast and any issued¬†warnings ASAP.

It is up to the individual Civilian Operator, to prepare accordingly for any disaster, not the local, state of federal government agencies to do it for you. It must be stated that FEMA and the Red-Cross are POST disaster response CANNOT depend on them to bail you out. Just like with the role of law enforcement in crime, never depend on them to intervene, only to investigate what happened after the dust has settled.

Stay Dangerous.