"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
January 06, 2016
Preparing for Civil Unrest Part 2
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

We have the choice to prepare for the worst, or to pretend that we are somehow immune from the violence.

During the past several months I have thought more and more about those who live in large cities and how their preparations need to differ from those living in a suburban or country setting. Events in Paris on November 13th have caused me to reflect on those thoughts again.

For those who live in the city, civil unrest is a real concern when planning for an emergency event. However, most of us will find ourselves in a large city when visiting family, enjoying a vacation or interviewing for a new job and we must also be prepared to act should we be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I grew up in the suburbs of Newark, New Jersey. When I was young I experienced the horror and distress of civil unrest. It was during the age of race riots and people were actually sent into the city where I lived to incite violence. It was very frightening. Violence touched my neighborhood and my high school. We could hear gunfire at night and knew no one was safe on the streets. My parents bought a big dog and endured many sleepless nights with a baseball bat close at hand. Although my father had two purple hearts from WWII, we did not have a gun in the house.

Whether following or during a terrorist attack or natural disasater, your plan will be the same. There will be civil unrest after a disaster. Plan on it and plan for it. Learn what to do and then discuss it with your family. Don’t forget to have a discussion with the kids leaving for school or on a mission.

Prepare to “lay low”. Do not run out to stock up on milk or other perishables. This makes you an obvious target. You are taking home food and you evidently have cash to buy what you need. If you haven't already stocked up on food, water and supplies, you may have to do without. Of course, if you know a storm is coming, everyone you know will be stocking up, so by all means, go stock up. Only if the disaster is sudden and unexpected should you stay put.

If you do need to venture out, be as inconspicuous and stealthy as possible. You may have made arrangements to share supplies with others, or you may know someone willing to share vegetables from a roof top garden, but don't advertise it. Wear plain and well-worn clothing. Don’t look too prosperous. If you are going to be bringing home supplies, wear a backpack but don't call attention to it. It should also be well worn, a dark color and very ordinary looking.

If you should be caught in a crowd that becomes violent, do not run. Go with the flow and walk slowly. Eventually you will find yourself at the back of the pack where you will be able to duck into an alley, store or other business and get yourself out of the situation.

Be prepared to be sneaky. If you have a generator and can power a computer or your fridge, do so during the day. Use glow sticks and flashlights at night, and if you must use the computer after dark, close all the blinds so no one can see that recognizable blue light that it emits.

Even if you have plenty of supplies, make your home or apartment appear as though you are struggling as much as everyone else. Don't do anything to make your family the target of thieves. As your food defrosts, if you are going to use a grill to cook it up, fill it as full as possible and cook everything at once. Everyone will be cooking up their freezer stash in the first few days. You will want to have your food cooked and ready to just reheat after these initial few days. Nothing will cause people to show up on your doorstep more than the smell of meat being grilled.

Cover your windows so passers-by or those in the apartment opposite yours can't see what you have. I love mylar blankets for this purpose. Did you stock up a few weeks ago when that was our weekly goal at Totally Ready? I hope so. Tape them in your window and they will keep out lots of heat during the summer as well as providing privacy any time of the year. No one will be able to see into your home but you will be able to see out and the blankets will still let in the light.

If you fear roving bands of thieves, make it look like your home has already been ransacked. Scratch up the door and the lock so it looks like someone has already looted your home. You will want to build a barrier between your family and the door just in case it is kicked in anyway. Place a cupboard on its side in front of the door making it easy to peer around, but difficult to move. Now create the illusion where your home can be seen from the street that your place has been looted. Consider dressing the scene the way they would for a movie, to convince thieves that someone else got to you already.

In the hours, days and perhaps weeks following a disaster, this is the time your ham radio license will be of great value. You will know the frequencies to monitor and you will hear of dangers in your neighborhood and be able to alert the authorities as you observe lawless behavior. Ham radio also can connect you to the Red Cross and other valuable relief resources.

I am sure that by now you are wondering why I have not mentioned ways in which to defend yourself. First, if you can avoid confrontation that is always safest for you and your family. Second, I would never advise anyone on the question of weapons. I do not want the responsibility either moral or legal if an accident should occur. Some may choose to have guns, some pepper spray, some large dogs. Defending your castle is a matter for your own training, family circumstances, and moral compass.

When civil unrest hits the city, the safest thing to do is to stay put if you and your family are safe and if you have prepared and are able to meet your basic needs of food, water, and shelter. The roads will be a dangerous place as people become more desperate.

When evacuating, remember every time you have to stop you are in danger of not being able to get back on the road, and risk being hassled by those looking for food or money because they failed to plan. You are safest when you are in your car so make every preparation possible to remain on the road once you have made the decision to leave.

Planning and preparation for worst case scenarios can provide peace of mind and confidence for our families in a real emergency. Rather than standing there with that deer-in-the-headlights look on our faces, we will know what to do and when to do it, and get our families quickly in motion as events unfold around us that can change our world completely.

Contact Carolyn at Carolyn@TotallyReady.com and follow her on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady

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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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