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Arlington County ACS-RACES Operator Type III Annual Recertification Unit 1. Disaster Survival Skills for the Urban Environment 1. OBJECTIVES. Why teach “survival” in the city? Catastrophes vs. disasters This is about your SURVIVAL , not volunteering Priorities for human survival

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arlington county acs races operator type iii annual recertification unit 1

Arlington County ACS-RACESOperator Type III Annual RecertificationUnit 1

Disaster Survival Skills

for the Urban



  • Why teach “survival” in the city?
  • Catastrophes vs. disasters
    • This is about your SURVIVAL, not volunteering
  • Priorities for human survival
  • Break-out sessions:
    • Shelter construction
    • Fire making
    • Signaling
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Social implications of disasters
    • Personal security concerns


disaster versus catastrophe
“Disaster ” versus “Catastrophe”
  • Disasters are short term
  • “Make do for 3-4 days until help arrives…”
  • Catastrophic events are long term
    • Katrina-scale hurricane, tsunami, earthquake
    • Major terror attack, nuclear detonation, dirty bomb
    • No help is coming soon, “you are on your own”
  • Why?
    • Complete loss of civil infrastructure
    • Minimal or no police, fire or EMS response
    • No electricity, municipal water, communications
    • Transport of fuel / food is severely impaired
    • Public safety agencies will be overwhelmed
    • Recovery is long term (over 30 days)


What the military survival schools teach:Seven Priorities For Survival:“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”
  • Positive mental attitude
  • First Aid / Sanitation
  • Shelter
  • Signaling
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Food


Positive Mental AttitudeSituational awareness, basic knowledge and a “survivor’s mindset” enable you to cope effectively
  • STOP
    • Calm down, and size up your situation…
    • Anticipate which hazards are most likely
    • Take stock of materials and resources around you
    • Orient yourself to your surroundings
  • PLAN
    • Select equipment and supplies appropriately
  • ACT!
    • Execute the plan, evaluate progress, adjust, go on.


disaster preparedness

Have an evacuation kit ready at all times

  • Don't presume that a disaster will be short-term
  • Pack essentials first, then consider comfort items
  • In real emergences, forget last-minute purchases
  • Plan for more supplies than you “think” you may need
  • Inspect / renew your supplies each spring and fall
  • Provide entertainment for young children.


when it hits the fan use these six steps in problem solving
WHEN “IT” HITS THE FAN” Use these six steps in problem solving
  • Size Up ...your Situation
  • Determine...Objectives (stay or evacuate?)
  • Identify ...Resources (either stored supplies or salvaged materials from your surroundings)
  • Evaluate…Options (use the safest way)
  • action Plan (use your head)
  • Take...Action
    • re-evaluate your action plan, adapt, improvise and overcome!


first aid and sanitation
  • Maintain personal and family health
    • Prompt treatment reduces infection risk
    • Sanitation reduces risk of disease vectors
      • Water borne illnesses, diarrhea
        • Major cause of dehydration
  • Increases your survivability!


disaster injury risk factors
Disaster Injury Risk Factors
  • Tool / equipment hazards, risk of hand, eye, head injuries, electric shock, chemical burns
  • Human factors, stress / fatigue
  • Structural instability
    • Trauma risk, falls, building collapse potential
  • Terrain, loose rock, fallen limbs, wet or insecure footing, risk of falls, puncture wounds and lacerations from debris.


disaster contamination
Disaster Contamination
  • Stagnant surface water
    • Mosquito breeding
  • Contaminated flood waters
    • Sewage treatment system overflow
    • Petroleum, industrial, agricultural chemical contamination
  • Airborne contaminant plumes
    • Smoke, dust, toxic gases,
    • or radioactive fallout.


  • Protection from the elements
  • Wind and rain resistant
  • Insulation from cold



The “Stay or Evacuate” DecisionIf evacuation is not mandatory, the same safety rules for entering a structure apply to using your home as shelter


  • There is structural damage (6 sides of the “box” are not plumb)
  • Utilities cannot be controlled
  • Structure was damaged in a fire

DO NOT occupy a floor that has been flooded, mold grows fast!


evacuation planning
  • It’s usually best to relocate with friends or relatives who live outside of the affected area
  • Don't rely on government-run shelters
    • They are an “option of last resort” for those unable to evacuate
  • Evacuation route selection is important
  • Make sure your vehicle can carry essentials
    • A huge “bug-out” vehicle is a handicap on crowded roads
    • It uses more fuel, which may be expensive / scarce in an emergency.
  • Don't plan on fuel being available en route
    • In normal times always keep your gas tank at least half full
    • Upon warning an event is imminent, conserve fuel, keep tank ¾ full
    • Carry extra fuel containers outside the vehicle



FROM NATIONAL THREAT SCENARIONuclear Detonation – 10-Kiloton Improvised Nuclear Device

  • An attack may:
  • be single or up to a dozen detonations
    • - on specific or random targets.
  • be an act of a non-state
    • -, i.e. a terrorist group such as Al Qaeda.
  • be threatened to trigger a political result,
    • - bend will of the people.
  • involve either a detonation (fission/fusion)
    • - or release via a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD)
  • occur all in one attack
    • – or recur over a period of weeks, months, years.
low yield weapon efects
  • Contamination from a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) would cover up to a few hundred acres with low-level radioactive material;

  • A nuclear detonation would affect large areas (10-100 sq. miles) damaged by direct effects and 100s to 1,000s of sq. miles with radioactive fallout.

  • Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) – a terrorist attack would most likely be a small device <10 kilotons yield, EMP effect of a ground burst would be mostly within the Moderate Damage Radius, but also propagated by conductors such as power and telephone lines, railroad tracks, pipelines, etc.
emp precautions
EMP Precautions
  • Disconnect electronics from conductors (AC mains and antennas)
  • Store small solid-state electronicshaving Field Effect Transistors (FET) or other integrated circuits (IC) in a Faraday Cage (an unplugged microwave oven)
  • Construct EMP-resistant containers constructed with a continuously sealed metal barrier (foil covered cardboard boxes)
  • Most susceptible to EMP damage are automobiles with onboard "computers" which control essential functions.
  • Feasible only if all personnel can evacuate before fallout contamination arrives and;
  • Essential functions for Continuity of Operations are transferred to an alternate facility
  • Affected area would have to be small and warning time adequate to execute the evacuation
  • Detonation effects (blast/thermal/EMP) will likely impede evacuation
  • Evacuees may be exposed and/or contaminated.
Evacuate or Stay Decision?Conclusion from FEMA Urban-Rural Evacuation State Planners WorkshopSept. 2006


● Population of the DC Metro area

● Propensity to self-evacuate, overwhelmingly

by automobile

● Wide distribution of evacuation destinations,

● Perceived vulnerability to terror attack,

and anticipation of multiple attacks


● A large-scale, chaotic mass self-evacuation should be anticipated.

shelter in place
  • Critical facilities that cannot evacuate (hospitals, EOCs) must continue to operate
  • Necessary if fallout/contamination would arrive before evacuation can be completed
  • Fallout Shelters will be needed to protect against high level radiation/detonation
  • Shelter-in-place (not necessarily Fallout Shelter) near RDD/very low level
  • Shelter stay may range from a few days to 2 weeks.
  • Authorities outside affected area can organize rescue/evacuation effort
  • Shelter occupants may be exposed and/or contaminated.
shelter in place20
  • Necessary if operations can not be transferred or if staff, patients or clients cannot evacuate
  • Necessary if needed to support operations of other response agencies
  • Must have Radiological Monitoring & Exposure Control capabilities
  • Critical Facilities may be used to shelter families of the staff
  • Critical Facilities will not be used to shelter the general public.
decontamination after a flood or attack s tart immediately even if you don t know what the agent is
DECONTAMINATION after a flood or attackStart immediately, even if you don’t know what the agent is.
  • Sandia decontamination foam (US Patent 6,566,574 B1) sold

as Scott's Liquid Gold Mold Control 500 in hardware stores.

  • Is effective against most chemical and

biological agents, including nerve, blister,

anthrax, SARS, Norwalk, avian and common flu.

  • Widely used for hospital /hotel sanitization

mold remediation in commercial buildings,

cleaning / neutralizing agricultural sprayers.

  • Moderate cost, about $30 at Home Depot.

expedient field decontamination if you are contaminated
  • Remove everything, including jewelry
  • Cut off clothing normally removed over the head
  • Place contaminated clothing in plastic bag, tie closed
  • Wash your hands before using them to shower
  • Flush entire body with cool water
  • Blot dry with absorbent cloth
  • Put on clean clothes
  • Avoid use of affected areas, to prevent re-exposure
  • If professional help arrives, report to responders for thorough decontamination and medical assessment.
nuclear attack issues
  • Structural damage to shelter from nearby detonation
  • Fire in the shelter
  • Dangerously high radiation levels
  • Severely high temperatures and humidity
  • Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide imbalance in the shelter
  • Depletion of essential supplies
  • Disease and injury
  • Unrest, anxiety, crime or defiance of order or authority
substantial barriers offer best protection
Substantial barriers offer best protection

Time - Fallout radiation intensity decays rapidly;

90% in just the first 7 hours. The less time you spend in a radiation field, the less dose received.

Distance - The farther you are from a source, the less dose you receive.

Shielding - Denser (heavier, massive) materials absorb more radiation. Greater thickness of any given material absorbs more radiation.


Protection Factors & Mass of Materials

*PF = “Protection Factor” refers to the ratio between the radiation dose rate of the OUTSIDE to that INSIDE the shelter, for instance a PF = 10 means that the inside dose rate is 1/10th the outside rate.

How Much Protection?

PF* LeadSteelConcrete EarthWater Wood

2 .3"" .7" 2.0" 3.3" 5" 9"

4 .5" 1.5" 5.0" 7.0" 10" 15"

8 1.0" 2.0" 6.5" 10.0" 15" 27"

16 1.2" 3.0" 9.0" 14.0" 20" 3 ft

32 1.5" 4.0" 12.0" 15.0" 2 ft 4 ft

64 2.0" 4.2" 13.2" 19.8" 2.5ft 4.5 ft

128 2.1" 5.0" 15.0" 2 ft 3 ft 5 ft

1000 3.0" 7.0" 22.0" 33.0" 4 ft -

2000 3.3" 7.7" 2 ft 3 ft 4.5 ft -

Outside radiation, divided by the Protection Factor, is reduced in proportion. For example, if the outside radiation rate is 1,000 R/hr, a person shielded by 3 ft. of earth would receive a dose rate of .5 R/hr. but a person shielded by 1 ft of earth would receive about 10 R/hr.

improve home fallout protection increase shielding by

1) Plan / improvise vents, ventilation & 2 entrances.

2) Add wooden shoring supports below each story.

3) Add up to 12” maximum dirt on upper floors/roof.

4) Cover window opening with plywood sheeting.

5) Pile dirt to ceiling height along outside walls & windows.

sheltering at home during an emergency for using a building without working utilities as shelter
Sheltering at Home During an EmergencyFor using a building without working utilities as shelter
  • Exhaust– candles, camp stoves, lanterns, generators, heaters, charcoal grills, all generate carbon monoxide and must not be used indoors!
  • Open flame – above ignition sources must never be left unattended!
  • Fuel – most of the above require flammable fuels to operate, which must be stored outdoors.
    • Use Fire Marshal approved fuel containers


generator safety tips from the u s consumer product safety commission
Generator Safety Tips From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

  • Carbon monoxide hazard!
    • Never use indoors or in attached garages!
    • Set up OUTDOORS in well ventilated, dry area
    • Away from open windows or HVAC air intakes
    • Under a canopy, open shed or carport
  • Electrocution Hazard!
    • Ground both the generator and equipment!
    • Plug only individual devices into generator
      • DO NOT connect into household AC!
    • UL-rated cords of gage adequate for load
  • Explosion / fire hazard!
    • Fuel vapors traveling along the ground can be ignited by switching equipment or appliance pilot lights!
improvised emergency shelters as in all real estate most important is location
Improvised Emergency SheltersAs in all real estate, most important is location:
  • Avoid low spots with poor drainage
  • Seek a gently sloped area so that surface water drains away
  • Sheltered from prevailing winds
  • Away from bodies of water (attracts insects and animals)
  • Insulated from direct contact with ground, rock, or concrete, which conducts away body heat.


avoid as shelter
Avoid as shelter
  • Areas around downed utility lines
  • In or near culverts
  • Within the “collapse zone” of a damaged building
    • (maintain 2:1 ratio of distance away to building height)


improvised shelters
Improvised Shelters
  • Sheds
  • Tents
  • Tarps
  • Vehicles


don t disable a good car
Don’t disable a good car!
  • Remove car batteries to power communications and shelter lighting only from cars that do not start
    • If a car starts reserve it for emergency evacuation, or
    • Use it as a “battery charger”
    • Salvage lighting, remove dome lights, tail lights, trunk lights, etc. & with at least 36” of wires.
    • Position batteries in shelter; attach wires & lights
    • As batteries discharge, replace with new batteries or recharge batteries.
Emergency Shelter MaterialsSalvage building materials from debris or from damaged structures only when it can be done safely
  • TYVEK building wrap
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Roofing paper and shingles
  • Siding, plywood
  • Chain link fence
  • Lumber
  • Carpeting
  • Wire, rope, and fasteners


build your shelter in layers
Build Your Shelter In Layers
  • Structural framing, lumber, plywood, fencing, metal
  • Fasteners, reinforce structural connections with nails, wire or rope ties, wooden spikes
  • Water and wind proofing, TYVEK, plastic sheeting, tarp, shingles, roofing paper
  • Insulation, drywall, leaves, tree branches, carpeting, (may also be used as ballast to hold water/wind proofing layer in place)


  • Day
    • Mirror flashes – best daylight signal device
    • Smoke
    • Brightly colored cloth flag / panel (VS-17)
    • ICAO surface-to-air signals
  • Night
    • Flashing strobe light
    • Fire
    • Signal flares
  • Sound
    • Whistle, vehicle horn

V Require assistance

X Need medical


Y Yes - affirmative

N No - negative

→I am proceeding

in this direction


signal mirror
Signal Mirror
  • Simple, inexpensive, effective
  • Doesn’t rely on batteries or pyrotechnics
  • Visible from 5 to 10 miles in daylight


  • Maintains body temperature
  • Great morale booster
  • Deters wild animals and insects
  • Boils water
  • Cooks food
  • Used as day (smoke)
  • or night (light) signal


fire making methods
Fire making methods
  • Matches or lighter
  • Flint and steel
    • Use cotton ball and petroleum jelly as tinder
  • Battery and steel wool
  • Burning lens


  • Minimum for drinking
    • 1 gallon per person, per day
  • More water is needed for
    • Cooking and food preparation
    • Personal hygiene, sanitation and decontamination
  • Store a two week supply as minimum
    • Food grade containers with screw caps
    • Away from direct sunlight


emergency water sources
Emergency Water Sources
  • Captive water in household hot water tank and interior plumbing is OK
  • Filter cloudy water to remove particulates, using an EPA-rated filter with a pore size ≤ 1 micron, then:
  • Disinfect with Clorox (6% sodium hypochlorite) add 8 drops of bleach per gallon if clear, 16 drops if cloudy, let water stand 15 minutes before use
  • Or boil vigorously for 15 minutes
  • Store potable water in clean containers.


all surface water is contaminated
All surface water is contaminated!
  • All natural sources (from springs, ponds, rivers or streams) must be boiled or chemically disinfected.
  • Chemical disinfection or boiling
    • Kills bacteria and viruses
    • Doesn’t remove particulates or chemical pollutants
  • Filtration
    • Coffee filters, etc. remove gross particulates only
    • EPA-rated filters (pore size is smaller than 1 micron) are needed to remove bacteria, viruses and Giardia cysts, but don’t remove chemical pollutants.
  • Distillationis the most effective method.


  • Lowest of the seven survival priorities
  • Need is mostly mental, because we are used to eating regularly
  • Healthy people will do OK without food for a week or more, if they are well hydrated
  • Balanced nutrition is a more important health factor for elderly and infants.


shelf life of foods stored in the home
Shelf life of foods stored in the home
  • Food in a refrigerator is safe for a day after the power goes off, either use it in 24 hours or throw it away
  • Frozen food is safe if there are still ice crystals, once thawed, cook and consume it within 24 hours
  • Next use non-perishables and dry staples
  • Canned foods are best for long term storage (up to 4 years) but are heavy to transport and bulky to store
  • Dry packaged foods are easiest to transport
  • Choose foods requiring minimal preparation
  • Eat at least one balanced meal daily
  • Include nutritional supplements in supplies
  • Drink enough water.


emergency food supplies
Emergency Food supplies
  • MREs, or Heater Meals®
  • Prepared survival rations
  • Primitive survival methods:
    • Fishing
    • Hunting
    • Trapping
    • Foraging


tools and equipment
  • Folding utility knife or multi-tool
    • Scout type, Leatherman®, Swiss Army or Mil-K-818
  • Manual can opener
  • Sturdy fixed blade
    • For chopping, digging, or as pry bar
  • Shovel
  • Hand saw
  • Axe


other supplies each person should have their own backpack of personal essentials
OTHER SUPPLIESEach person should have their own backpack of personal essentials
  • Flashlight
  • Portable radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit, (containing a first aid manual)
  • Personal medications and sanitation supplies
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • Wool blanket or sleeping bag for each person
  • Sturdy shoes and extra socks
  • Rain gear
  • Change of warm clothing and underwear
  • Items for special needs, care of infants


disaster financial planning

  • Electronic transactions, account verifications may be impossible
  • Evacuate with enough cash for at least two weeks of essentials
  • Carry account numbers, contact addresses and telephone numbers for all important persons and institutions
  • Helping one's unprepared friends and neighbors may prove expensive!


social implications of disasters cumulative psychological effects upon survivors
SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF DISASTERSCumulative psychological effects upon survivors
  • Evacuate or Stay? – Do you have a plan?

Where will you go? Is it safe to travel? Can you REALLY get there? Do you have enough resources to make it work?

  • Warn friends not to invite others to come and evacuate with them
    • They’ll overwhelm your limited resources!
  • Never allow family members to be separated
    • Even if it means waiting for later rescue and/or evacuation
  • The well prepared may be threatenedby those who weren't – get to know your neighbors NOW for a safer community later in case of a disaster
    • Make plans to ensure neighborhood security/family protection
    • Post a guard in rotating shifts, to deter roving criminals or looters
    • Keep firearms and ammunition safely secured
    • Take a home firearms safety-protection course


lessons from hurricane katrina when help arrives you may get it whether you want it or not
Lessons from Hurricane KatrinaWhen help arrives, you may get it “…….whether you want it or not.”
  • Don't believe that all rescuers will respect your property
  • Relief workers from other States often don't know local laws
  • Relief organizations have their own bureaucratic requirements that may conflict with your needs
  • Expect frustration over lack of communication and empathy by rescuers and local/State government.
in conclusion
  • Positive attitude – StopThinkObservePlan
  • First Aid / Sanitation – Maintain proper hygiene, preserve family health, and prevent illness or injury
  • Shelter – Protection from environmental hazards
  • Signaling / Communication- be heard / seen
  • Fire – Warmth,light, food prep, water sterilization
  • Water – Prevent water-borne illnesses through filtration, chemical sterilization, boiling or distillation
  • Food – Eat at least one balanced meal daily, drink enough water, include nutritional supplements
  • Equipment- Flashlight, knife, saw, axe, shovel
  • Planning – Prepare a Kit, Make A Plan!
sources for further information
Sources for further information
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department
  • Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Huntsville-Madison County, Alabama, EMA
  • Doug Ritter
  • Derek Rowan
  • Steve Willey
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension Service
  • Virginia Department of Emergency Management
  • Virginia Department of Health
  • Virginia RACES, Incorporated