Carlsbad Wildfire, Preparedness and Personal Defense
Natural disasters like the Carlsbad wildfires, and the rest of the fires in Southern California this week bring out the best in most normal people. The outpouring of support, donations at the emergency shelters, and offers of assistance is what make this country great! Conversely, it also provides opportunity for the criminal element to take advantage of people and the situation. As disgusting as the opportunists are, they do not surprise me. I am however continually surprised by the lack of preparedness for these predictable events on the part of many of my fellow citizens.
As soon as I smelled smoke, I went out side to see some fairly dark fires, that appeared to be pretty close. I went inside, picked up the keys and my wallet and drove to the gas station to top off the truck (which was at ¾ of tank, but why not have a full tank?). I grabbed a sandwich from the store for lunch, some fruit and a few other items and went home. When I got back there were a few people standing in the street looking at the plumes of smoke and discussing leaving.
Here is a conversation I had with a guy who lives in my neighborhood on the day the fires started:
Him – “The wildfires are getting pretty out of control, I didn’t expect this in Carlsbad.”
Me – “Yeah, I’m surprised at how quickly this one seems to be growing.”
Him – “Do you think there will be an problems, like looting or theft, or – you know – armed robberies or anything.”
Me – “Yeah, probably.”
Him – “Seriously, you think people will do that?”
Me – “Yes, if this goes on long enough, the dregs of society will take advantage of this situation and exploit the opportunity to prey on those who are not prepared.”
Him – “Yeah, probably… Well, I’m coming to your house if it gets bad.”
Me – “Why?”
Him – “You’re – like – ready for this stuff, you do – like – guns & stuff right?”
Me – “I am prepared to take care of my family.”
Him – “Well – you’d help us out too – right?”
Me – “Sure, how about you and the rest of the block, or maybe the neighborhood? How about the whole city? Look XXXX, I’m not Donald Trump and I had to draw the line when I was stocking up somewhere, and unfortunately, my family is the only ones that made the cut.”
Him –“Really, you wouldn’t let us in?”
Me – “XXXX – don’t show up at my house with your wife and kids in tow and your hand out at two o’clock in the morning – you won’t like the response. Go to the store, buy some canned food, fill up the tub, (etc….).
Him – “Well then, can I borrow a gun?”
Me – “Why?”
Him – “I don’t have one.”
Me – “Do you know how to use a gun?”
Him – “Well…. you could show me…”
Me – “No XXXX, you can’t borrow a gun…”
My suspicion is that XXXX thinks we aren’t friends anymore. I am not advocating that everyone have a 5 year stock pile of food, water, ammunition and spare parts for their firearms. I am advocating that people learn from this, and past experiences. Go get and learn to use the things and the skills you wish you had on Tuesday night. Don’t wait for the next disaster to make you feel helpless. None of you or your neighbors are helpless, and everyone is capable of contributing to their own safety and security!
My conversation with XXXX reminded me of another conversation I had with an individual on the plane to New York to speak at the CT symposium. I was reading the final edition of Preventative Defense written by Steve Tarani. He was a nice enough guy, little nervous about flying, perhaps a bit overly talkative, but a legitimately nice guy. When he asked what I do, I explained it briefly and he actually was pretty surprised and told me he felt no obligation to be prepared to defend himself what-so-ever. The most notable quote from that conversation “That’s what I have an attorney for”. I gave him the copy of Steve’s book as he clearly needs it more then I do.
The power outages last year produced a similar “what do I do” response in many people. Here we are almost a year later, and many still have no ability to plan or prepare for the inevitable. It would appear that we are on our way back to the norm in Carlsbad – at least for the time being. The fires have burned most of the available brush, and my suspicion is that we will have a relatively safe fire season in comparison to the areas that remain untouched by the fires. Now is the time to prepare yourself for the next disaster that may cause you to have to fend for yourself for a few days (or longer).
A week or so of canned goods, a trauma and first aid kit, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, a shotgun with plenty of buck shot, a few gallons of water in a go bag of some sort and a family link up plan will alleviate nearly every fear expressed by the people I spoke to this week. The problem is not one of means; all of my neighbors can afford the $500.00 – $600.00 to get the above items. The problem is one of mindset. The attitude that it will never happen to me is not something you can purchase a solution to. The concept that borrowing or buying a shotgun without the ability to use it effectively makes you somehow safer is equally ridiculous.
Every one of you can take five minutes to make to make a list that will help prepare you for a wildfire, a black out, an earthquake or any other natural disaster. Those of you that had some preparations made should take a few minutes to make some notes on what to improve on. It will take less then an hour to make a list, gather the things you need, and start the process of being a confident part of the solution during the next disaster. The alternative is to be a drain on state or others resources that could be deployed or used to support the emergency, or people who lost their homes, or others in dire circumstances…
Being an unnecessary drain on resources is actually considered quite rude in some circles.
Most of you reading this are probably already prepared, but feel free to share this with those who are not. We choose to be dependent on government services for our survival, our government does not impose that dependence on us – unlike some places in the world. Here in America, we can choose not to be dependent on government support and services when and if necessary. To me that is the responsible choice that leads to safer and more productive communities.
Here is a link to wildfire preparedness, with a short checklist and there are ton of resources out there. The checklist is a nice tool. What we really should be working towards is a culture of community safety and personal responsibility. Don’t let something as routine as the Carlsbad Wildfire or the next natural disaster throw you into a state of panic.
Stay safe, have fun & plan to do something to increase you independence this month!
– Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary company, specializing in training special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.