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Hurricane Season- How to Survive

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Author: Richard Stoyeck -

Most researchers who study crisis will tell you that the reason people die in a crisis is because they PANIC. This is true of people lost in the woods, capsized from a boat or stuck in the middle of a hurricane. Your brain is your best asset in such a situation. Yes you want to be optimistic about the outcome. At the same time, you have to be deadly accurate in appraising the current minute by minute situation that you find yourself in.

Let's take Hurricane Katrina as an example. I have read accounts of smart, sophisticated businessmen who were stuck in the city for the duration. Did they act any differently that many of those who perished in the crisis. You bet they did.

One businessman immediately went to one of those 24 hour places where there was still some items on the shelves. He was able to buy cans of beans, nuts, limes, a small bottle of bleach, several limes, and several liters of water. In a crisis situation, water is more important than food. Your body will last several times longer without food, than it will without water. Normally four days is about it for water.

People have been known to go for weeks, even more than a month without food. The body simply uses up the fat stores in your body. This is one of the few examples we know of where the fat guy wins. The reason for the bleach is that by adding two drops of bleach to a gallon of water, it begincomes drinkable. It won't be the best tasting drink in the world, but it will allow you to survive. Put a slice of lime in it to make it more tasteful.

Wherever you find yourself stuck, you need to fill every object that can hold water with water. Fill bathtubs to the top, and sinks too. Open the refrigerator and you'll find plastic drawers. Fill those drawers with water and put them in the highest location in the facility you are in. We are talking life and death; you have to start thinking to survive. While that gentleman was in the store looking for items to help him survive, other people who weren't thinking were buying gum and cigarettes. You can guess who perished in the storm.

Start looking at anything, and everything that you can use to survive. Wood floats, find wood. You need rope, or some kind of object that can allow you to tie things together with. Strips of sheets will do, curtain ties, or bedding could work. A knife certainly comes in handy. Matches, flashlights, warm clothing, anything that you can wrap yourself in. Is there a can of paint around, and anything that can be used as a brush. You might need to paint the word "HELP" on a roof, in order to be rescued.

Warren Buffett the best investor in the word says that it's even money that this country gets hit with a nuclear weapon in the next ten years. Since he owns one of the largest insurance companies in the world, it's his responsibility to weigh out such risks.

If you have a car, never let the tank get down to empty. Keep it at least half full, and don't be afraid to store 10 gallons of fuel on your property. If the electricity goes out for whatever reasons, the fuel pumps at most gas stations will NOT work, which means you can't get gas.

While we are on the subject of cars, do you keep any emergency equipment in your trunk? Do you have a first aide kit, if not, why not? You need a flashlight, and some life saving clothing. I keep super thin rescue blankets in the trunk that will help you contain body heat if necessary, and act as reflectors of sunlight during daylight. They are no bigger than pack of cigarettes when folded up.

Now back to our Katrina victims. Our friend, who found himself alone and stuck in a hotel in New Orleans, decided to find another person who was in the same situation as he was. This allowed him to pool the resources of two people together. It gives you twice the brainpower, plus whatever the other person brings to the table. Do not pick someone who is going to be a drag, and a drain on you. This will only add to your own difficulties.

A bank card allows you to withdraw cash at an ATM machine. There are always limits on bankcards. You need cash to survive in a crisis. Call your bank, the number is on the back of the credit card and have them increase the amount you can withdraw. This is an emergency and the bank will accommodate you.

Phones that need electricity will not operate in a crisis. Forget portable phones, they will be dead. The electricity will be out. All analog phones will continue to operate. The phone company does not depend on electricity from the local utility to operate their phone lines. You are not going to believe this, but in the master plan for nuclear war drafted by our armed forces during the cold war, the plan called for AT & T to remain operational during a conflict. Orders would continue to go out over the nation's phone lines.

Finally during a crisis like Katrina, you need a plan, and you need to constantly be re-evaluating that plan. Keep calm, don't make life and death decisions while fatigued, that will get you in trouble or worse. Just keep revising the plan for what is happening in real time. Try to have contingent plans in your mind for possible changes taking place. Stay CALM, keep a CLEAR HEAD, and you just might have some story to tell your grandchildren.

In my own work running money in my firm, and picking stocks, I am constantly getting hit with unplanned events happening. Pipelines going offline. Oil supplies collapsing, weapons of mass destruction that aren't there, CEO's having heart attacks. You need a diversified portfolio to even out the risks, and you need to stay calm to figure out if the investment is still worth keeping. It's just like being in a hurricane.

Goodbye and Good Luck

Richard Stoyeck

About the author: Richard Stoyeck's background includes being a limited partner at Bear Stearns, Senior VP at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn Loeb, Arthur Andersen, and KPMG. Educated at Pace University, NYU, and Harvard University, today he runs Rockefeller Capital Partners and

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