Category — Video

Unrest Abroad Emphasizes Need for Personal Safety and Travel Security

We’ve previously written on the subjects of personal safety and travel security but the recent  unrest in Egypt this past week resulting in twenty-nine deaths and 1,785 injuries, emphasizes the need for individual awareness, preparedness and security when traveling here in the United States and especially abroad. First and foremost, for those that have to work in crime prone densely populated urban areas, high risk locales or countries experiencing political unrest you “should” realize the risks going in and be prepared.

But for those who make the trip for ill advised adventure tourism purposes or who get “caught up in the moment”, well that’s another story!  In the past several days, we became aware of some American students arrested by authorities in Egypt allegedly for participating in anti-government rioting and were subsequently released this past weekend. Spending time in a foreign jail or prison is dangerous to say the least.

In the coming weeks we’ll be announcing a dynamic new series of workshops and training programs as companions to our EXODUS™ personal crisis response product offerings. Our ICE PACK® product developers and trainers are working in close collaboration with former USAF SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) Instructor Reggie Bennett, president of Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School on our High Risk Travel Safety training program. Mountain Shepherd was rated the top survival school in the country in 2008 by National Geographic Adventure Magazine and we can attest to Reggie and Dina running a first class operation! More importantly the Mountain Shepherd instructional staff has extensive training experience teaching urban and wilderness survival for multi-national corporation executives, government agency and elite military personnel. EXODUS™ escape and evacuation products were developed for individuals traveling or working in high risk environments and provides them with essential life saving survival and communications tools.

Below are some tips and hints that will help you, your colleagues or family members stay safe in high risk environments. Start with a plan, make your itinerary known to responsible persons, and register with the US Department of State’s, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you are going to travel abroad. Help in any form when you are in dire straits, is always warmly welcomed!

Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is key to your personal safety and security period! This is as applicable when traveling at home, to and from work, to cities around the United States or when traveling internationally.

  • Hotels: First things you need to make note of when entering any hotel lobby and then your specific hotel room for the first time, are emergency exits.  How do you get out of your hotel in case of an emergency? If the first route is compromised or blocked for whatever reason, what is your fall-back exit? Stay on lower floors whenever possible. Being on the lower floors of a hotel makes emergency evacuation far easier than being on the 11th floor or higher. Also be aware of room door security especially with adjoining rooms. Do not share your personal and trip information with strangers.
  • Local Events: Be aware of events happening, or about to happen, in the locale in which you are working or traveling. Are you feeling an uneasiness among the locals, is there generally a “bad vibe”? Is there civil unrest brewing as could be seen in the early days of the latest Egyptian situation? What are the typical crimes committed in the area? Are there pending extreme weather conditions you should take into consideration? Do you have your contingency plans in place to include your emergency “ex-fil”?
  • Crowds: Pay attention to the people around you – particularly when you find yourself in a crowd. Have your wallet or purse secure and not easily accessible. Prime targets for pick-pockets are immersed in crowds. We don’t feel the hand slipping into our pocket or tugging on our purse because we are being bumped and jostled by dozens of people around us. Safeguard your passport and know the location and directions to the nearest police station, American (or friendly western) Embassy or Consulate.
  • Surveillance Detection: Basic skill sets for intelligence operatives, these techniques can help you prevent petty crime, physical attack, kidnapping or worse. Pay attention to parked vehicles, especially vans and motorbikes in traffic. Is that brown van and driver you saw parked out in front of your hotel the same one you now see parked in front of the restaurant in which you are eating? Do you feel that you are being watched? Are you being surveilled, and do you know what to do if you are?

Keep in mind that you won’t have the luxury of having your ICE PACK® Disaster Sustainment System with you when you are away from home or traveling! So anything that you’ll need will have to be on your person. Meaning in your pockets, in your waist pack (fanny pack), shoulder bag or back pack. This is the reality of life during a life threatening emergency.

  • Water.  Absolutely essential no matter where you are. What’s the plan if you are traveling and find yourself in a situation where you no longer have access to clean drinking water? Consider carrying a small water filter, chlorine dioxide tablets and a collapsible 1 liter water bottle. With clean water free of Cholera, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other beasties you can survive for weeks. However, drinking dirty or contaminated water can make you very, very sick. This lightweight water solution works even if you are stranded over-night on the highway in the middle of a winter snow storm, or trapped on the second floor of a flooded home with a rapidly dehydrating infant needing formula. Equipped with these tools, no matter the austere circumstances in which you might suddenly find yourself, you’ll be able to make your own potable water.
  • Shelter: A forced evacuation from your hotel at 2am due to a fire, earthquake, flash flood or terrorist attack puts you on the mean streets subject to many dangers. If you can make your way to a safe emergency shelter do so immediately. If conditions are really bad you’ll have to find some type of shelter quickly and to make matters worse protect yourself against two and four legged predators and hypothermia. Here’s where a couple of those really inexpensive Mylar blankets could really be a great idea!
  • Fire. Now you’re on the street at two in the morning, without shelter and shivering from the cold – a fire can not only be a comfort, it can be a lifesaver. Consider carrying a simple fire starter kit. Be careful with this one. You cannot pack these devices in your carry-on luggage if you are flying commercially.
  • Medical. Incorporate some type of well thought out first aid kit into your travel preparedness supplies. In addition to planning for injuries, many travelers succumb to more common toothaches, diarrhea, severe sun burn and worse. So pay attention to including over the counter medications and pain relievers.
  • Light. A good high intensity LED flashlight with lithium batteries is indispensible for signaling for help, finding your way in the dark and blinding potential adversaries.

With concealed firearms carry laws expanding to more and more states in America, you should consider including a reliable firearm and extra ammunition in your ”bail-out bag”. It goes without saying that staying legal is critical as well as making sure you can safely handle and accurately shoot the firearm in defense of your life under high stress situations if necessary.

Carrying a weapon while traveling internationally simply isn’t an option for most people. Even traveling with pepper spray can be challenging.  It is not allowed in carry-on baggage, but 4 oz of pepper spray is allowed in checked baggage as long as it has a working safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Be aware that pepper spray is not legal in some foreign countries and restricted by certain states in the U.S. Make sure you are read-in on local and international laws on any type of weapon.

Perhaps the best thing you can carry with you (nearly everywhere) to ensure your safety when traveling anywhere is your mobile cellular or smartphone, but remember they don’t work everywhere…but they can! You’ll need to know that much of the world uses GSM cellular technology and not CDMA which is common here in the USA. We won’t assume that everyone knows that cellular networks are quickly overwhelmed during a disaster or extreme weather emergencies. When voice communications won’t work, many times SMS texting will. Now what do you do when the network is destroyed and not operational? Yes, you knew we were going there next!

Add a satellite communications device to your emergency communications plan. When you are in trouble, there is great empowerment in being able to communicate with the outside world or emergency responders! These devices provide simple pre-loaded or free text messaging, GPS location with Google Earth tie-ins, and communication independent from ground based telephone lines or cellular towers. Messages can be sent literally around the world via SMS Text and email to let your family or office know you are ok, or that you need help right away and exactly where you are! That could be pretty comforting when your family is watching events unfold in here at home during an extreme weather emergency, Cairo, Egypt or another hot spot of unrest and cannot reach you by cell phone…

Put all of these components together plus a few other important items we haven’t mentioned and you have a well-equipped personal crisis response emergency go-bag to keep you safe during your daily travails in domestic urban jungles or global international travels.

Be aware. Be prepared. Be secure. Stay alive!

Fact non Verba

November 30, 2011   1 Comment

To All American Veterans, We Thank You!

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace.  It is this very cause of peace and protection of our freedom for which so many of our fellow Americans have dedicated their lives and to which so many have sacrificed their lives.  Veterans Day, however, is not the day we only remember those who have died protecting this great Nation.  It is also very much a day we remember those dedicated men and women who are serving you and I in this capacity at this very moment… those who will continue to serve the rest of their lives from a wheelchair missing both legs, and for others bravely struggling to regain their lives through use of prosthetic limbs, and others still who no longer can see or no longer hear.  It is for all these brave soldiers, young and old, active duty or retired, alive and well or struggling against seemingly impossible physical impairments that today we say thank you.  May God bless you for your service, dedication and bravery.  May the people of the greatest nation on Earth never, ever forget the service of men and women of the greatest military on Earth.

Let us all seek to make every day “Veterans Day”. Whenever we see an American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Guardsman, may we all take just a few seconds to thank them for the sacrifices they make every single day to protect the United States of America.

On a personal note, we wish to express our gratitude to a great veteran from our own family who served this country during some of our most perilous times. We will truly miss you, Cousin Cliff.

Oct 25 2011

New Mexico, Rio Rancho

Photo of Clifford Morrow in uniform

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Clifford William Morrow, 96, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, died Thursday, October 13, 2011 in Albuquerque, NM. He was born March 11, 1915 to William Noah and Caroline Mae (Emmons) Morrow in Milan Ohio.

 Lieutenant Colonel “Cliff” Morrow graduated from Milan High School in 1933 and attended Georgetown University. Colonel Morrow entered the armed forces with the 145th Infantry of the Ohio National Guard’s 37th Division. He commanded L Company, 145th Infantry in the assault of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands and was awarded the Silver Star Medal for Gallantry in Action.

 During the defense of the American forces beach head on Bougainville, Colonel Morrow commanded G Company, 145th Infantry, in defense of Hill 700 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. Later, he left the South Pacific Theater of Operations and was assigned to the 7th Army Headquarters as an air-ground liaison officer with the 324th Fighter Bomber Wing of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

 During the Korean Police Action, Colonel Morrow commanded the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, during the action on “Pork Chop Hill” and was awarded a second Bronze Medal for Valor. Colonel Morrow also held other military decorations including the Combat Infantry Badge with Star for service as an infantryman in two wars and the Distinguished Marksman Badge for excellence in marksmanship competitions.

 For a time, Cliff served as a conservation officer with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. He was instrumental in creating the preserve known as Magee Marsh Wildlife Area near Lake Erie. He also served as a training officer for the Ohio National Guard. In 1963, Colonel Morrow began working for the National Rifle Association (NRA) as the coordinator for their national matches. He later became the director of Hunting and Conservation Activities for the NRA and organized the Hunting and Conservation Division, which was later named the Hunter Services Division. Colonel Morrow retired in 1977 and made his home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He was the published author of three books.

 Private services will be held with interment at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date is to be determined.

November 11, 2011   No Comments

Disaster Recovery: Picking up the Pieces After Significant Natural Events

There are many people continuing the struggle of recovery from natural disasters which have recently plagued the East Coast.  A rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake, Hurricane Irene’s unwelcome visit of torrential rains quickly followed by tropical depression Lee dropping by with his own load of moisture have damaged or destroyed homes and businesses along the Atlantic seaboard to the tune of 7 billion dollars.  As the process of picking up the pieces continues, revisiting the following information we published in an earlier blog post seems prudent.

Certainly after, and perhaps even during a natural, man-made or terrorism related emergency or disaster you may be faced with making temporary repairs to your home, office or place of business. If you built a safe room, you can now be fairly confident in your investment as it may well save your life. Making immediate temporary structural repairs may be necessary during a disaster event, which assures your continued safety and protection, and temporary repairs can also help prevent further property damage or looting. Earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, explosions, high winds, severe storms, and minor fires can all damage structures that in many situations can be recoverable, except in catastrophic circumstances. Keep in mind that an “informed” decision must be made to do this based on planning, resources, pre-positioned supplies, know-how and a resilient mindset.

The most important first step immediately after the disaster event and perhaps even during it, is to assess your situation. What is the level of safety and security at your immediate location, and your ability or necessity to evacuate (if you have not done so already) if advisable or even possible? This is a critical calculated decision that must be made calmly, without the influence of adrenaline, BS or false bravado (read testosterone)!

Once this is accomplished you’ll need to assess the condition of the structure and any immediate hazards to life and limb. Generally this would include, but not be limited to the potential of: explosive natural/LP gas leaks, damaged exposed or downed electrical wires or power lines that can cause electrocution, severe structural damage to roofs, walls or foundations that can cause structural collapse, tree deadfalls, high or swift floodwater drowning, and/or physically dangerous animals, creatures, critters or criminals.

Homeowners should have a list of area contractors that can provide structural repairs immediately after a disaster. It’s also recommended that businesses and local governments have contracts in place with contractors and vendors to respond immediately to debris removal and infrastructure reconstruction. Here is an excellent set of post disaster guidelines from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Equipment and Supplies
Consider the following supplies essential to providing you, your family or co-workers with a temporary shelter repair or improvement capability in the event of disaster. Also, look around and be sure to position common yard maintenance tools (e.g. brooms, rakes, shovels etc.) where they can be easily located and used to clean up after a disaster event.

Storage Container
Your emergency shelter supplies will do you no good if they are lost in the disaster. Store these critical resources in durable water and, crush resistant container you can easily carry. The container can also be used to collect potable water or transport debris during clean up and recovery.

Personal Protective Equipment
Trying to affect a temporary repair during or after disaster can be dangerous. Gloved hands will allow you to clear debris like broken glass, or sharp ceiling grid metal preventing cuts and scrapes. Protective eye goggles can protect your vision from high winds, blowing dirt and debris that can potentially take you out of action. Disposable N95 respirators (masks) have a multitude of good uses in addition to their basic use to protect your nose, mouth and lungs from particulates. If you are wearing bunny slippers or flip flops you might want to think twice about conducting building repairs! Sturdy footwear is advised if available.

No good emergency sustainment system should be without at least one sturdy tarp! A tarp is a true multi-functional emergency device available in a multitude of sizes and materials. Consider a plastic tarp larger than 8’x10’ with grommets down each side to allow for various uses. A tarp can be used to cover a damaged home roof as well as covering a large expanse of broken windows in a commercial establishment. In a pinch you can even construct emergency shelters to protect people who have lost their homes or protect physical assets from rain, sun, wind etc.

Plastic Sheeting
Plastic sheeting is an essential component of your Shelter-In-Place system. Once you’ve pre-cut all the shapes needed for your designated sheltering room (e.g. HVAC ducts, power outlets, doors, windows, etc.) the remainder can be set aside for window repair or roof leak water diversion.

Rope, Bungees and Wire Ties
A long length of rope or popular and very useful 550 cord can be cut to lengths needed to tie down a tarp, secure doors or leash a pet. If you’re faced with windy conditions bungee’s can be used to secure a tarp over large roof damage areas keeping it taut. Wire ties are a good idea for securely closing and holding broken doors, gates etc.

Duct Tape
A roll or two of Duct Tape goes a long way towards making temporary repairs and is an important component of your Shelter-In-Place program. Broken doors and window openings can also be closed with plastic sheeting Duct Taped to the frames to keep rain out. Screen tears can be repaired to prevent flies, mosquitoes, and bugs from coming into a house. As part of your mobile vehicle emergency system you can even use Duct Tape to repair a radiator hose. Let your imagination run wild on more ideas to use Duct Tape as an emergency resource.

A good basic tool kit can indeed be a lifesaver in any emergency situation. For general purpose use, think about a keeping a set of good multi-tools both in your vehicle and as part of your emergency repair kit. Gerber, Leatherman, SOG, and Victorinox all make good ones. Since multi-tools are lightweight and multi-functional, they can be indispensible in many emergency situations. There is no doubt you’ll need an actual tool kit, to handle the tough demands of disaster recovery temporary home and building repair. Here we’ve listed what research shows to be the basic essentials of a good tool kit, obviously the more tools you have the better off you are!

  1. Pry Bar
  2. Claw Hammer
  3. Wood Saw
  4. Hack Saw and spare blades
  5. Pliers: Standard, lock and adjustable
  6. Adjustable Wrench
  7. Screw Drivers; Flat, and Philips heads, both medium and large
  8. Fasteners: Wood and metal screws, fender washers and nails
  9. Tape Measure
  10. Scissors
  11. Knife
  12. Portable Lighting: (e.g. headlamp etc.)

If you have the budget a chain saw is a must have to remove deadfalls, and downed trees from roadways. Don’t forget the 2 cycle oil-gas mix and safety gear!

While many may try to hold on to the fallacy that “it will never happen here” consider if you will this very interesting video on the potential for substantial earthquake of 6.0 or greater in the New Madrid Fault Zone that covers 5 states located in the Midwestern United States. “If” such an event were to occur, damage to structures would be significant. An intriguing full length video on the New Madrid Fault Zone can be found in the ICE PACK video resources section here.

You can go to any home improvement store and purchase these affordably priced common everyday building repair tools and supplies. During a disaster they will be nearly worth their weight in precious provisions like water, food and medical supplies. Take positive action and prepare yourself with the necessary tools and supplies to affect temporary repairs to your home, office or workplace.

Facta Non Verba

September 20, 2011   No Comments