Detailed warning information on upcoming weather threats and other hazards

Welcome to the third week of 2020 National Preparedness Month! This week, we will be addressing how to prepare for specific disasters.

Compared to other weeks where we talk about general topics, plans, and maybe some things in your kit, we will be talking about how you can get stuff ready for each type of emergency or disaster.

So to start out, let’s talk about information about upcoming disasters.

A solid tool that is almost indispensable is…..your cell phone!

That’s right, that little computer/smart phone in your pocket is a GREAT way that you can discern information and better respond to the emergency.

One easy way is to download the FEMA app.

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The FEMA app has a ton of features that could be beneficial to your specific area. Specifically in the notification for five of your identified cities/county.

This feature provides the ability to see what’s going on in a certain area of the country. And since I travel, I always have the first slot in my list for home. This allows me to get any notification on stuff that could be happening at home.

The second, third, and fourth slot are for my family in Los Angles, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Gotta keep an eye on the family no matter where they are. Plus an extra set of eyes from another part of the country is beneficial esp if they are sleeping at 0300 and it’s 0800 here.

Since I travel a fair amount, I usually reserve slot #5 (the last slot) for my work travel. Even though I may not be from Central City, I will always know the latest in dangers in my travel city.

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From critical tornado warnings or immediate evacuation tsunami warnings – I know I’ll be prepared for my location(s) specific disaster or emergency.

All of the information provided to you….FREE. That’s right-all the details are available to you for free. App is free. No charge from FEMA to download the app. No monthly fee. No recurring administrative charges.

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Ahhhh, safety for free.

I got your back.

More free tips tomorrow addressing specific hazards.

Reporting live from the third week!


My well labeled mugs for coffee and hydration

Last and final day of 2020 National Preparedness Month. All the best time to talk about your kits and stuff you gotta have in case of an emergency/disaster.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am a staunch supporter of good travel mugs. My oldest mug is a Nissan Stainless mug from Japan that is about 25 years old and yes, it still keeps the coffee hot. However, I needed something that is spill proof as I usually keep things in my bellows pockets.

And the last thing I needed was to spill coffee in/on my pants.

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Stanley mugs that have been traveling and deploying out with me for the past 5 years. I usually carry two – one for my black coffee and the other for my water (also backup for coffee).

Best part? They have a lifetime warranty. LIFETIME BABY!  I can attest that if something breaks, Stanley has committed to replacing things for free. I’ve had several tops of the travel mugs mechanically fail from normal use. Stanley has replaced each of them immediately and for free. No question from me that they definitely stand behind their product.

It is worth noting that you should consider labeling all of your stuff. ALL of your stuff. Something that is easy to spot in a large area and unique.

Stuff gets lost or acquired or stolen….so make sure your stuff is labeled and easily identified.

I can spot my things from across a large room…even in the dark.

Hope this week’s tips helped you plan out a better kit and equipment.

Reporting live with my favorite preparedness kit…


Enhance your kit with these individually wrapped things

Almost done with the 2nd week of 2020 National Preparedness week – so let’s enhance your preparedness kit a little more.

As you know, this week has been dedicated to your prep kits and diving into several avenues of that works and of course ways you can enhance your kit to make you more agile/nimble…give you a better chance.

Want an easy one for today?


In this day of trying to find better ways to be a bit more clean (thanks COVID), we need to be more aware of our hands and the things we touch. Therefore we should act like an advanced society and really use our utensils to max capacity.

Why You Should Let Your Baby Get Messy While Eating

Since all of us are doing our part and eating out a bit more (hopefully more local), take a moment and utilize those plastic utensil sets for your kits. Don’t decline or throw them away, USE THEM!

Most of them come individually wrapped and often are filled with a knife, fork, spoon, napkin, salt, and pepper. In fact, the fancier ones come with a wet-nap of some sort to help clean you up a bit.

(hint wing joints usually send their to-go orders with wet naps.

Now, let’s step up to the big leagues. Check this out from my friends at Mount Prospect Emergency Management (Illinois).

Handy dandy AND reusable. Legit sturdy utensil set that all packs up nicely in a ready to go pouch.

Look closely, you can see Mount Prospect EM subscribes to the Built a Kit – Make a Plan mantra.

Look, however you want to do it, having an extra set(s) of utensils could be a lifesaver for your preparedness kit. (FYI-the Mount Prospect EM utensil set legit lives in my preparedness kit)

Heck, if you use chopsticks, that’s totes fine with me too.

IntereSTING...: Goodbye, Mr. Miyagi

So get those extra utensils in play and enhance your kit!

Reporting live from the Village of Spork…HA!


What does HumpDay have to do with your kit?

As we are in the middle of the second week of 2020 National Preparedness month, we should continue to talk about your preparedness kits. While yesterday’s kit was part of my deployment loadout, there are similarities between personal preparedness kit and professional deployment kits.

How timely of a topic since today is HUMP DAY!

One such item that is replicated in all of my kits is cash.

That’s right, dolla holla yo!

And quite literally, it’s specifically dollar bills y’all. All dollar bills! Look, before you start asking about the singles that are ready to mingle, think about it like this:

During the first outsets of a disaster where infrastructure is non-existent, power is not working, and cell service is out…all your precious credit cards, debit cards, and touchless pay methods will not work. Period.

So tried and true, cash talks. I deploy out with at least $200 in cash to supplement our operations.

Additionally, businesses may not have the capability to provide change so dollar bills will allow you to provide close monetary values for most products.

My esteemed colleague MaryJo Flynn is right, $2 bills would be good because it reduces your weight by 50%…aka 6 ounces. But regardless (or irregardless-eek), small bills/denominations are critical when prepping your kit.

Most definitely, don’t carry two $100 bill and expect change.

Some parts of the country still prefer cash so take that into consideration as you plan on the safety of your family and being able to provide for them during the first 72 hours of a disaster.

Now would be an excellent time to go to the bank and get your singles.

More easy tips tomorrow on your prep kit.

Reporting live and making it rain…..


Without a doubt, you want to add this to your prep kit

Don’t bother looking, it’s still 2020 National Preparedness Month. As we start this work week, I realize many of you already have kits ready to go that include food for at least 72 hours.

GREAT!!!!! So proud of you.

Previous years, we’ve stressed the importance of having shelf-stable food per person for at least 3-days. And these MREs or Meals-Ready-To-Eat is a great example.

However, let’s be honest, MREs are NOT that delicious.

Well, maybe this one might be my new favorite.

(Special shout out to my Brothers from FEMA USAR Ohio Task Force-1 (OH-TF-1) on my new first out MRE)

But we also need to think about how you are going to augment that. An easy way to help support the lackluster food options in any disaster? Hot sauce.

And only one hot sauce supports weird 24-hour dietary needs with questionable shelf-stable requirements…Sriracha!

Sriracha has been supporting the palate needs of collegiate students for decades.

Here’s a quick video history on the Sriracha brand.

So this stuff is kinda magic on disasters and deployments. Basically anytime/anywhere.

How do I do it? If I am off to a stable deployment with more structure, I just take a simple bottle and throw it in my large duffel bag. Off we go!

However, if we are going into a contentious location where things may not be…the best, I will likely pack these guys.

Awwww yeah – single serving packets that help any meal anytime of the day. They can be carried on my person and discretely added to any meal. Additionally, the single serving can be helpful since carrying an entire bottle around might not be so….cool.

I see srircha as a necessity with the same importance of a can opener.

During our 2005 deployment to Hurricane Katrina/Rita, I remember food being quite terrible as our Task Force worked Louisiana’s Lower 9th Ward – St. Bernard Parish. Food was quite terrible and good hot sauce to mask bad tasting food was hard to find esp since everything was demolished there.

So get your self some hot sauce to augment your preparedness kits with your 3-days worth of shelf stable foods.

Keep it spicy folks!

Reporting live with my bag of deployment Srircha


My big deployment duffel? Sure thing! #NatlPrep #kit

During this second week of 2020 National Preparedness month, we’re going to talk about kits.

Get Ready To Live Out Your 'Knight Rider' Fantasies With This KITT Car  Rental

Not that one, your PREPAREDNESS KIT!

For those that wanted to know on deployments, we are required to have “stuff” – lotsa stuff. But being light and lean is also required as we are tip of the spear personnel in the disaster operations directorate.

Deployment out timeframe? Hours. Not like deploy out in a few weeks, like hours as in “get to the airport now” hours.

Specs on the types of bags can be found here. But the contents are more important right?

I’ve talked about my backpack before, but I wanted to talk about my large duffel bag. My rugged Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 30 has been great for these 10 reasons

There is a whole built-in separate pouch for my boots! Yep, there is a separate pouch that is waterproof that keeps my grimey boots separate from my other gear. At the start of the incident, it’s kinda chaos and often, we find debris and sharp objects as we roll into a disaster location. I have said repeatedly time and time and time again, get yourself some good boots to wear. Pros always have good boots. Period.

The bag holds a myriad of power support like in the top outside pocket with my PowerSquid. It has 5 different plugs, all separate to allow for all sorts of plugs/adapters to fit. Each one is independently able to align toward a different device and help reduce strain on the wire attachments. The actual length is helpful as I can’t deal with a measly one-foot extension from the wall. A generous 10 feet is much appreciated so I am not tied to any wall.

The main compartment is protected by waterproofing zippers with a cavernous main compartment. It has mesh side pockets which is great because typically everything gets wet. We are often deployed out to adverse conditions and are frequently drenched. These mesh pockets help air out my stuff in the bag. To help aid in the smell, I do keep a bar of Irish spring soap in a box in one of the compartments. The luck of the Irish right?

Irish Spring Bar Soap

Additionally in the side compartments, I keep my ancillary cables there in heavy duty ziplock bags.

  • iPhone lightning cable with plug
  • HDMI cable
  • MiniUSB cable with plug
  • Reflective vest
  • Baby wipes
  • Q-tips
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gloves
  • Small first-aid kit
  • General aviation helicopter adapter to 3.5mm plug (for flight comm)

And if you were going to ask, no, my flight helmet doesn’t fit into the bag.

At the heavier bottom of the bag, I carry my secondary coffee cup/water bottle. This supplements my primary water bottle and acts as my backup coffee traveler. I am totally invested in Stanley products as they have been a staple in my numerous deployments over the years. Each Stanley product has a lifetime warranty and wholeheartedly honor that. guarantee. It is worth noting that all my stuff is label and marked with easily  identifyable reflective tape. This way, my stuff is never lost, misplaced, or stolen.

At the top of the bag, I hold my rolled up LL Bean sleeping bag. Yep, that’s right, I deploy with a sleeping bag. Often times, the disasters do not have locations for us to sleep/bed down so we have to make do. This same sleeping bag I’ve had since I worked at the fire station. Flannel interior, it’s been great. Easily washable and completely zips open, this sleeping bag is cozy, lightweight, and comfy.

I carry an extra set of notepads, note cards, and an old pencil case with pens, markers, highlighters, and pencils. This way, in case I get separated from my primary pack, I have a backup set ready to go.

Gifts for Kids at Paperchase - Unique, Fun & Just For Them | Paperchase

And finally, my secondary tripod resides inside or strapped to the outside molle. This is a backup to my primary monopod/tripod that lies on the outside of my pack, but I can use it to support those live shots back to the studio.

Additionally, if I do have to carry my flight helmet or my USAR helmet, the outside of this bag has a built in helmet retainer that can hold my flight helmet or my USAR helmet.

The bag itself rolls easily with it’s heavy duty wheels and with lots of grab handles on all sides helping me move it from place to place.

That about gives you the basics for my large duffel bag.

Hope this inside look at one of my deployment bags helps you assess your bag(s) and gets you better prepared for any emergency/disaster.

Reporting live with all my preparedness kits…


Rethink your preparedness plans. Thanks #COVID

What can you do to improve your plans in 2020 National Preparedness Month?!?

With this COVID thing going on, we must be cognizant of new things in our preparedness plans. New challenges, esp in planning, make us rethink our orig plans.

But this is a good thing. A fresh set of eyes and new parameters that could help us enhance our preexisting plans!

I would say that we all need to add a few masks to our plan. Yep, add a few masks in your car, your work bag, etc….

Coronavirus Spurs Demand For Face Masks — But They're Surprisingly Hard To make : Goats and Soda : NPR

If you happen to work in close proximity to or a high contact environment, consider wearing a surgical mask over an N95 mask.

Rising Coronavirus Cases Put Fresh Strain on Mask Supplies - WSJ

Simple things like this could help enhance the protection and extend the life of your equipment. Not all places will be as prepared as you so I would take the time now to plan accordingly.

Aside from masks, I have changed my plans to have hand sanitizer in various locations. Not only car, but bags, pouches, belt loops, etc…

Funny Fruit Food Silicone Mini Hand Sanitizer Holder Travel Portable Safe Gel Holder Hangable Liquid Soap Dispenser Containers|Refillable Bottles| - AliExpress

(Disclaimer-I don’t own jeans)

This kind of proactive behavior allows me and those around me to be less at-risk of contracting COVID.

I can’t trust the places I go to have a fully-stocked hand sanitizer dispenser right?

Creative Nose Funny Practical Hand Sanitizer Bottle Nose Gel Dispenser – Pink-Always

I know you may be prepared, but the company you keep may not be as prepared as you.

So consider augmenting your plan for double masks, more hand sanitizer, extra set of gloves, etc….

nitrile gloves | Tumblr

Be even more prepared for stuff to happen!

Reporting live from 2020 National Preparedness Month!


Plan for shelter and outside meeting location with your family #NatlPrep

We’re still in the first week of National Preparedness Month, we need to examine shelter locations. Yes I said planning for shelter locations.

Because if this is your shelter idea…

…you might want to rethink your plan.

If you plan for a proper shelter location WITH your family, you’d likely be rewarded with a more comfortable situation. Food, water, etc….are nice things to have. But the last thing anyone needs during a crisis is more things to think about and burden you down.

No one has time for that!

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That… – Danny Dainton

Interior rooms with no windows is always a good shelter location esp during a tornado strike. Not only is it interior, but you can seek further shelter/cover underneath the counter top.


After the danger passes, a simple meeting place outside is a good idea too.It should be a relatively easy to find location that everyone knows and can rally up. Also be identifiable from great distances. Something tall and unique could be used too.

Don’t be the bearer of bad news…make sure everyone knows the plans!

Since most of you are home, consider taking the time to assessing your situation, evaluate your options, and make good decisions. But no matter where it is, be sure to tell the rest of your family where to go in case of emergency.

Plan for stuff to happen right? Just look at us now.

2020 Sucks - Year 2020 - Sticker | TeePublic

Worst. Year. Ever.

Reporting live from the first week of National Preparedness week!


How I find out the latest deets on stuff #NatlPrep

Since this is only the second day of 2020 National Preparedness month, we needed to focus in on your plans before, during, and after an emergency.

On the regular, I get TONS of calls/inquiries from people trying to figure out what’s going on. Many of our friends/families can glean this same info I get from the mass notification systems already in place.

The City of Chicago (IL) Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has an easy system called NotifyChicago.

By inputting your information and particular way to be contacted, you can get the most up-to-date information about any part of the city. This includes warnings, hazards, and of course major street closures due to riots, protests, or other weird things that happen in Chicago. Choosing to be notified via text message ensures that no matter where you are, you can be alerted to dangers in your area 24/7. Subscribe for free here:

At the county level, DuPage County (IL) Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM) uses the Smart911 system which is a mass notification system to alert anyone on issues at the county level.

This could include severe weather, road closures, as well as critical information for anyone living/working in the area. You can sign up here:

From the region:

I rely heavily on our partners from the National Weather Service. While not the primary way, I think their social media work on Twitter is excellent and pull lots of info from them using the alert feature (notifications on) function on Twitter.

Consider following Mike Bardou and the crew from the NWS Chicago or follow your own local NWS office for immediate weather info. There are 122 Weather Forecasting Offices across our great nation.

More details can be found here:

And finally, with the amount of info and the onslaught of information being pushed to our mobile devices, it’s good to know that IF it’s too much, you can always unsubscribe to any these services.

IF you have family in other parts of the country, consider subscribing to their area notifications. Doesn’t hurt to help a loved one out as they maybe be too busy, sleeping, or incapable of understanding the severity of their situation. More on that tomorrow.

Keep it safe during this first week of National Preparedness Month by making your plan!


2020 National Preparedness Month!

Welcome to the 2020 National Preparedness Month!!!

As described by so many, this is the most perfect year to plan for the unexpected.

Join me and my esteemed colleagues as we help share preparedness tips all month and help get you through this rotten year.

Reporting live in my favorite month…..