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Reviews: "When All Hell Breaks Loose" and "Organize for Disaster"

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes.
Cody Lundin
6x9 inch, soft bound, 450 pgs,
100 illustrations, 55 color photos,
2007
ISBN-13: 978-1-4236-0105-0
$19.99

This is not so much a disaster book as a how to book on reconstructing the world after one of those hyper scary and rather unlikely scenarios of complete collapse that many in the peak oil movement were so fond of early on. I like Cody's version because of his highly practical information and personal experimentation with this material. There are lots of craft type emergency prep instructions for making your own lighting, cooking gear and water sterilization set-ups.

He is also on the liberal side of the survivalist spectrum so leans towards self-examination and psychological readiness rather than xenophobic, gun toting, strike first, answer questions later attitude. His chapter on self-defense is thankfully gun free. He interviews a martial art teacher to explain the approaches and techniques useful in real world scenarios that begins with tips on avoiding conflict in the first place.

Given this non-conflict approach, Cody devotes his first few chapters to a rather spiritual, self-assessment of one's own ego, attitude and level of self-sufficiency. He addresses personal responsibility in terms of "creative cooperation" which is heartening and gives instructions on how to reach a consensus decision. He then gives parameters on how to determine what you actually physically need in life to survive.

Taking up where his first book on wilderness survival leaves off, Cody's book goes all out on setting up a post survival homesteading operation. Although he mentions options for apartment dwellers, the really hairy and fun stuff requires a more rural or large suburban size property, but it is why this book is more interesting in a non-survival setting. A lot of survival craft is simply a nostalgia for a simpler life.

His historical recap of what people attempted to eat during times of severe starvation scared me more than anything. He has pictures of roasted rat served on a bed of lettuce. This too was scary though I may try his falling book method of killing them. So besides the usual 6 months rotating food storage he also talks about the Mormon Four—whole wheat, powdered milk, honey and salt. He recommended the book "Passport to Survival" written by Esther Dickey in the 70s, for recipes. This simpler option is appealing for needing less inventory management.

An illuminating note on spoiled food. It's not the critters that kill you, it's their toxic poop. You can kill critters, but you can't clean the poop out.

Speaking of poop there is a complete instruction on making your own composting toilets with wonderful graphic illustrations on how to compost the contents or how to store poop for later disposal if you cannot compost it. And illustrations of rain water harvesting and lots of methods for sterilization of water. Also the more grim task of safely disposing of dead bodies.

As survival reading this book just about covers it and is worth having for all the practical information. He imparts details that often pester my mind when thinking about emergency scenarios and in so doing makes me far less cavalier about the more grim possibilities. A great deal of this information would be useful right now for my family in Thailand as they suffer through the flood. Indeed there is a very third world flavor to Cody's frugal, homemade approaches that speaks to me. And though I rather enjoyed his technique of bathing with only a small towel immersed in a pot of boiling water, I would be quite happy not to live through any emergency after reading his book.


Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Your Home for Any Natural Or Unnatural Disaster
Judith Kolberg
Squall Press
149 pages
2005
ISBN: 978-0-9667970-4-6
$16.99

My colleague Judith Kolberg wrote this very sensible book about planning for disasters. It was a relief to read it after perusing Cody Lundin's severe scenarios of starvation and all hell breaking loose, leading to general mayhem and deteriorations of systems.

The much more likely disasters of storms, earthquakes, floods and even terrorist attacks and industrial chemical spills are the parameters that outline Judith's perspective on disaster planning. It has been recommended on Amazon, by a self-described expert, as a different take on disaster since it takes into account the aftermath when you will want to put your life back together via your insurance policy, possible state funds and the logistics of rebuilding.

It was also reassuring in that I've got a good start on much of what Judith recommends in the way of document organization and preparing the home as well as viable means of communication during a disaster. She interviewed lots of people who have gone through these commonplace disasters so gives a feel for what most stresses people out. She also includes government information, what their role is in a disaster and what you'll need to expect from those departments once you go to them for help.

Her organizing tips on how to assemble important papers, access codes and vital contacts are very calming and she includes forms in the appendix. She also covers packing a bug out bag (called a grap and go bag here), useful first aid to know and provisions for sheltering in place. Plus lists on what family members need to know to do during an actual disaster and step by step instructions to take in case of evacuation. Laid out in clear bite size sections; it is a quick read with little extraneous philosophical material. So not an armchair read, but a motivator.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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