By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

SWOP members offer advice for the big one

One attendee at the Southwestern Oregon Preppers’ meeting (SWOP) Saturday said she was preparing for natural disasters like local mega-fires, earthquakes and tsunamis but worried how to stop neighbors from “sharing” in her supplies.

“I am prepping,” she said, “but my neighbors are not. How can I protect myself and my supplies?”

Lyn Boniface recommended a firearm but not necessarily a concealed-carry permit. She said there were private instructors in the area who would teach people to safely shoot a gun and how to use a gun for self defense.

“You know, even if you have a shotgun, and if it’s a pump,” she said, “just the sound of cocking it might scare them away.”

Jennifer Wolf laughed and said her neighbors had planned to “just come” to her house as well.

“No you won’t,” she said, “not unless you have something to offer.”

But Wolf said she used such exchanges to recruit and teach her neighbors so they would prep as well. She said the goal in her neighborhood was to become a network in which different people with differing skills and assets joined to prep more efficiently.

Group leader Avery Horton had begun the SWOP meeting with an open period for questions and feedback, and attendees were chiming in.

Lynette McPherson, who runs a prepping Facebook page as well –– TARP - Take Action Ready Prepare –– focused her comments on food preparedness and suggested being ready to can everything in the freezers if the grid goes down. She also described growing food in greenhouses and in gardens as a way to best prepare for a disaster.

McPherson is the garden coordinator and teaches gardening in the Brookings-Harbor schools. Her Facebook group is private and membership requires you message her so she can accept you into the group.

When Horton asked participants to describe the greatest difficulties in their preparations, McPherson and others said family medical considerations and medications were the most difficult issues to address.

Horton noted that long-term survival after a disaster – such as the earthquake and tsunami likely to strike Oregon when the Cascadia Fault ruptures — requires longer-term planning and is not like wilderness survival. He said survivalist shows and articles concentrate too much on surviving in the woods after a hunting accident or similar incident and not on the realities of surviving for a long period of time in place or planning and surviving an escape from a disaster zone.

“You die in 30 seconds if your core temperature drops or rises too rapidly. You die in three minutes without air; three days without water,” he said. “And you can make it nearly three weeks without food.”

Having a place to keep warm with stored food and water and being able to stay in your house are ideal scenarios — if you are prepared – according to Horton. But he also recommended having a plan to escape to other more stable areas.

“Disaster Recovery or Relocate, “he said. “Part of preparing is being ready to leave.”

Oregon used to recommend only 72 hours of preparations, Horton said, but now recommends two weeks of preparations.

He noted that people who camp are ahead of the game because they are used to living in temporary conditions and often have a means of cooking and boiling water along with other equipment, but he cautioned to keep propane on hand.

In a New Yorker article titled “The Really Big One,” author Kathryn Schultz cites government plans for recovery after a Cascadia quake that assume “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

He and other participants emphasized the importance of maps, and several people who live in remote areas said they were looking for local maps in order to find the best routes home in case they are away when disaster strikes.

Wolf said high-quality, Bureau of Land Management maps were available through the forest service.

Horton and McPherson said the effects of other of family disasters are lessened by prepping, Horton mentioning the government shutdown, which left some families without paychecks, and McPherson pointing to business failure or job loss as cause for a financial emergency. Both said having savings is key as is having food and necessities available to get a family through a bad spell.

Horton closed the meeting by giving participants a free disaster plan.

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