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Cody Lundin

Cody Lundin

Survival expert and author of When All Hell Breaks Loose

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Dr. William  Waugh Jr.

Dr. William Waugh Jr.

Professor of public administration and urban studies at Georgia...

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James Lee Witt

James Lee Witt

Former FEMA director and author of Stronger in the Broken...

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Cody Lundin on Emergency Preparedness

Cody Lundin on Emergency Preparedness

If you ever got lost in the woods, Cody Lundin is the man you would want with you to help you survive and guide you to safety. He’s an expert at survival, whether it’s surviving a terrorist attack in a major city or a natural event in the wilderness. He’s the author of two best-selling books, When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes, and 98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, and is the founder of the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, AZ. In this interview, Lundin touches on a few important things to know to survive after a natural disaster strikes.

What should people not do during a natural disaster?

Try not to panic. That’s probably not going to happen, but one way not to panic is to prepare beforehand. If someone prepares for a flood, even if they get flooded out, by the act of preparing they are less liable to freak out after a disaster. You will literally be psychologically better equipped to handle it.

What about the people who don’t prepare for a natural disaster? What can they do?

What I teach is self-reliance. If someone refuses to prepare, then they’re at the fate of whoever wants to come help. Hurricane Katrina is a case in point. There’s no fancy way around it—you’re either prepared or you’re not. Choosing not to be prepared and instead to wait for the cleanup crew has always been a bad idea. The federal and state government—it’s really not their job to help you recover. It’s up to you.

I would like to see every community prepared for disaster. If the government is late, it doesn’t matter because you have the situation under control. People’s lives are on the line. What is a plan like this worth?

What are the five most important pieces of advice you have for people in a natural disaster?

1. Assume a disaster can happen to you. Don’t assume that it won’t.

2. Prepare accordingly for whatever natural disaster is likely to affect your area.

3. ACT. Physically prepare and act upon your preparedness plan. Talk is cheap.

4. Do the neighborhood thing. Once your family is prepared, get the rest of your neighborhood on the same page, similar to a neighborhood block watch.

5. After all of the preparation work, live your life. Some people get paranoid. Once you’ve done everything you possibly can, go on vacation and live your life. Preparedness training that breeds fear is not preparedness.

What are some insider tips for surviving a natural disaster?

1. Fire. In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, what will kill a lot of people is their lack of experience in using fire. Picture your house in cold country if the grid goes down in the winter. How will you heat your home? Many people don’t have wood stoves, or have fake ones. When they try to get warm using fire, they accidentally torch their home and burn down neighborhoods. Any fuel that’s burned produces carbon monoxide, and carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of
poisoning deaths each year. If it’s cold, un-trained people drag in a barbecue grill into the house. BAD IDEA. Learn how to properly use fire.

2. Waste. If your sewage system doesn’t work—well, just imagine New York City if no one took the poop away. That’s the reality of what could happen after a disaster. There could be an epidemic of disease because few people are educated in how to deal with human waste. If this happens to you, and if you have backyard, dig a hole in the backyard-away from water sources-and put your waste there. Bury it over when you’re done, a good several inches from the top. If you don’t have a backyard—five-gallon
buckets (with lids!) or waste baskets will work. Double line them with plastic trash bags with crumpled up newspaper between the bags to absorb liquids. When you’re done, tie it up, and store it in a safe place until things normalize and it can be disposed of properly.

3. Water. People take water for granted. If water has been contaminated after a disaster, there should be radio bulletin warnings from your local government. If this happens, don’t drink the water coming into the house. Homes that have water heaters can use this stored water, usually about 40 gallons. Open the highest faucet in the house, then go to the lowest faucet and drain as needed. If there’s no contamination, fill every container you can with fresh water—even your bathtub if necessary—but use
caution so the kids don’t drown.

4. Communication. Ninety percent of survival is psychology, and communicating with family members is important. Talk and implement a preparedness plan with your family BEFORE a disaster strikes. When chaos happens, there’s additional fear because the possibility was never discussed beforehand. With kids, make preparation fun. Make it into a game. Quiz your child about what to do, at home and at school. Emphasize that preparation is important.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

I try to remember that we’re all one. Everything comes into order—there’s a divine order, and there are no accidents. I’m responsible for the stuff, good or bad, that happens in my world. This is the essence of true self-reliance.

The best thing about change is…

…you get to try a new flavor.

What is the best change you have ever made in your life?

I quit doing drugs and alcohol and that led to true happiness.

For more information on Cody Lundin, visit www.alssadventures.com.

Posted: 9/23/08

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When our community was grazed by Hurricane Ike, most of the grocery stores lost power and were closed for several days. Those that remained open were stripped pretty quickly. The lesson: always make sure that you have enough food stockpiled @ home to make it through at least one week.


We weren't prepared for 9 days without electricity. Fortunately, we had clean water and the weather was excellent so living at home was pretty much like camping, but with porcelain. We got lucky and we know it.

But my wife and I have started the discussion on what to do next.

We're going to get a bigger generator. The one we have was to support her show dog kennel. It was sized to be portable and power a small dryer. It would not power the pump in our septic tank meaning that we'd have eventually lost the use of our toilets. Our needs have changed and this superb little generator has got to go.

We're also going to make a survival kit which will include matches, batteries, flashlights, glow-sticks, a small propane bottle, a one-burner gas grill, candles, water purification tablets, and a first aid kit. Basically, anything we can think of to get us through the first day of being without power or water. Basically, if you took this kit into the woods you could live ok for a while.

Then, as finances permit, we're going to expand our breaker box to include a separate box and a transfer switch. Critical circuits would be moved from the main breaker box to the new one. These circuits would include the septic tank pump, furnace blower, sump pump, hot water heater, and the refrigerator. Then we'll size a generator to run all these things.