Surviving a Natural Disaster

by Spencer Coursen, Coursen Security Group

Natural disasters cause major disruptions to our lives. Preparing yourself both mentally and physically for the harsh reality that may present itself will help you to ride out the storm in the best possible position to handle the aftermath of the disaster.

The following are 10 essential tips to follow in your own preparedness process.

1. Have a positive attitude. Your survival will often be the result of your own personal outlook. Accepting the situation for it's unfortunate reality rather than playing the victim and waiting to be rescued is most often the difference between those who survive a natural disaster and those who do not.

2. Have a plan in place. Every family should have their own Emergency Readiness Plan. Your family will likely not be together when the disaster strikes so it's important for everyone in your family to know ahead of time how you will contact one another, where to go and what to do in different situations. It's important these plans be communicated and discussed at regular intervals as circumstances and scenarios may change throughout the year.

3. Know where to go and know how to get there. Safe Havens should be identified as early and as often as possible. This means knowing where to go if you can't get home, and knowing where you can safely go if you have to evacuate your home.

4. Go-bags should be packed and ready at all times. A “go-bag” is the bag your grab when it’s time to “Go,” as in right now when the time required to plan, prep and pack will mitigate your chance of survival. The premise is such that your go-bag is always packed, ready and waiting with the essentials you will need to survive for two nights and three days in the outdoor terrain of your approximate location and in current local climate. No creature comforts; just the necessities to survive, contained in a packaged weight, affording you the ability to remain mobile. Keep in mind; your packing list may change throughout the year dependent upon the time of year, the season, your location, your medical requirements and your physical ability. You should be well versed in terms of your bag’s content, knowledgeable of item location, and organized for ease of use.

Everyone who is physically able to carry a pack should have one. Your own individual packing list may vary based on personal preference and necessity, but the contents of the one below serves as an excellent tutorial on what constitutes essentials. If you only do one thing to prepare beyond your in-home food and water storage, this is it. This is what you need. Everyone should have one. Build or buy one today. Many pre-customized options are available on-line. 

5. Decide right now what's most important. In the event you should ever need to evacuate from your home, your go-bag should already be packed, ready and waiting for you at a moments notice. If you have more than a moment to prepare and evacuate, have a contingency list of what's most important to save from your home based on you own personal priority. Whatever you decide is most important to save, list them in order of priority in case time runs out. Important documents, photographs, family heirlooms, pets and valuables you can use for barter should be considered but remember that nothing is more important than the lives of your family.

6. Have emergency rations on-hand. Food and water will become more difficult to acquire depending on the severity and duration. Safeguard yourself from future stress and stock-up on reserves of bottled water and shelf-stable food that can keep your family properly nourished for handling the inherent stress of your situation.

7. Prepare for power outages. Today, all of our communication devices require a charge and your mobile devices will be critical to helping you negotiate your way to a better day. While a few commercial venues with back-up generators may be able to facilitate the needs of the few, they most certainly will not be able to cater to the needs of the many. So skip the Starbucks iPhone-charging line and invest in this universal solar-charging unit. Goal Zero has a great selection of solar charges available for every budget. 

8. Understand the importance of ice. Have some extra bags of ice in the freezer, king-cubes will last you longer than the icemaker variety. Ice will help keep your refrigerator and freezer functional for a day or two after the power goes out. Fill up a few tuba-ware containers filled with water and freeze overnight. Keep as many frozen bricks in your freezer as you can. Ice does more than chill your drinks, there are medical uses (Blister Burn, splinter removal, oral numbness to treat tooth pain, and soft tissue injury to name a few, so having some on hand will prove beneficial to your cause. Ice will also help keep essential medicine like insulin properly refrigerated. If a natural disaster is imminent, try to make as much ice as possible before the power goes out.

9. Know the "safe-spots" in your home. Stairwells or spaces under large beams provide "survival voids" that rescue workers check first.

10. Maximize Insurance and fortify your home. This will of course require the most foresight and preparation, and will not aid you when the warning whistles blow, but looking out for things like dead-trees which may blow over in strong winds, or readily upgrading your homes doors, windows, roofs will play a significant role in the face of a natural disaster.

It's important to keep in mind that we can not often prevent disasters, but we can be prepared...and when a natural disaster does strike, you'll be glad you were ready.

Preparing today for a safer tomorrow will always be the best course of action.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?