Are You Ready: Your Questions for John Soloman

Thursday, April 24, 2008

John Soloman at WNYC Preparedness guru John Soloman has been our guest for the month of April. We open the phones and the comments page to get your questions for John.

Sample Question: Why exactly does John wear a hardhat to a radio interview?

Comment below. Anything goes!


John Solomon

Comments [34]

Jesse Lemisch from upper West Side

Go-bags/50s Civil Defense
Rent "Atomic Café" -- clips from the post WWII Red Scare period: "Duck and Cover" -- kids hurling themselves under their school desks; Girl Scouts preparing food for shelters; Dad leading the family into the shelter, where tranquilizers are stashed.

As historian, I know what many of us knew then: the shelters were useless, intended to send a message to the Russians that we were ready for atomic war. As for Go-Bags: yes, we should have our little kits with flashlights etc. Brian asked what we would do if the catastrophe struck when we were away from our Go-Bags. The answer seems to be that we should always have our Go-Bags, as in the George Carlin routine about taking your stuff on vacation to Hawaii and then taking a selection of your stuff when we are invited to visit our friend on Oahu. Carrying around mini Go Bags is finally, comedy, with a little bit of tragedy.

There may be acts of God, but most of them aren't. The damage from Katrina was an act of the Army Corps of Engineers. Terrorist attacks will be the fruit of the War of Terrorism. How can it be that week after week, we hear no mention of the fruitlessness of the Go-Bag project and the necessity to take more realistic steps to protect ourselves? This series contributes to an illusion and takes us away from the important tasks that might bring us closer to real security. Let's stop acting so passively and reactively.

Apr. 30 2008 01:30 PM
Capt.1 from Los Angeles

I was listening to your interview and thought you did a good job. I agree that the average citizen hasn't really grasped the concept that Emergency Personnel are going to be completely overtaxed during a disaster. Also, I am currently the Commander of the LAFD CERT Program and we are training over 4,000 citizens/year. We are, as you know, the leaders in this area. If you have any questions or need anything, please feel free to contact us.

Apr. 28 2008 01:25 PM
Mike from NYC

Harry #3 -

If you'd like to join your local CERT team, visit here:

Suffolk County

Nassau County


Info on the general program

- Mike

Apr. 24 2008 03:18 PM
jds from jersey city

I asked my doctor for samples of medicine my family takes to keep in our go bags, particularly my husband's inhaler since air quality might affect his asthma. And while this is more controversial, and obviously a personal choice, I put birth control in our go bags. Especially if there has been some kind of chemical or biological exposure, it might not be a safe time to concieve.

Apr. 24 2008 01:44 PM
b Lynd from NYC

I do have go bags, one at home, one at my office and I gave one to my husband for his office. Made them up a couple of years ago. (Just haven't made a photo of any of them.) I had a bit of a struggle with my insurance company to allow an extra Rx supply for the bag. Keeping things up to date in the bag, whether it's meds or copies of our apt. and life insurance face pages etc. is the most difficult thing to remember. I wonder if just having an older copy of the face pages if we haven't added anything or changed any coverage would be sufficient.

Apr. 24 2008 11:26 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

About telephones and power outages, any phone that has a part that relies on power from an outlet, such as a cordless or even the internet phones (eg: modem device is plugged in or the new FIOS setups have a "box" that is plugged in) will NOT work in a power outage. The old style phones that only have one wire, the telephone wire connected will usually function AND it WILL ring. The telephone company supplies it's own voltage (48Vdc) for the phone system along the two wires that it utilizes, commonly known as "Tip and Ring". It's still no guarantee that after a disaster natural or otherwise that anything will be functioning, but an older generation phone would be a good back up.....if you are old fashioned enough to have a land line!

Apr. 24 2008 11:13 AM
Calvin from Staten Island

To assure phone service in the event of a loss of electricity, connect your cable modem and telephone to a UPS - one UPS for your Phone and One UPS for your cable modem - this will provide power to your phone in the event of a power outage.

Apr. 24 2008 11:05 AM
justen from Tampa, FL

Re: Bill's email about co-ax cables don't require electricity...

while that is true, your modem and router do require electricity. Chances are, if you use VoIP for your home phone, when the power goes out, so will your internet and phone.

Apr. 24 2008 11:00 AM
kathi from Port Washington

FYI: You still get full phone service...I just lost my electricity and I could hear the ring etc

Apr. 24 2008 10:58 AM
Kevin from Charlotte, NC

I'm listening via the web stream through ITUNES. You made a comment concerning electronic phones and cordless phones still working during a power outage. Even though there is a battery in the handset, it will requires on a base using with power to transmit the wireless signal to pick up the phone.

Also on the phones with electronic components that still have a wired headset, usually they are wired in a way that won't work if there is no power.

The best thing is, as you said, have a "old fashioned" phone. Perhaps not even need it plugged in, but somewhere you can find it.

Apr. 24 2008 10:58 AM
jeff from manhattan

Do you recommend getting potassium iodine in case of radiological attack and if so where do you recommend getting it?

Apr. 24 2008 10:56 AM
Harry from Huntington, NY

regarding food storage for a short term emergency, the best food to store is what you normally eat. This way you naturally rotate through the stock. If you buy long shelf life "survival food," you need a system to make sure that you remember when it expires and replace it before then, otherwise you think you've got food stored away, years go by before you have a real emergency, and then when you go to dip into it, the food has gone bad.

Apr. 24 2008 10:56 AM
maura from uws

I am confused about the routes out of town in case of a hurricane. The signage isn't too good if you are driving. Will everyone be able to get out of lower Manhattan? Upper Manhattan...

Apr. 24 2008 10:56 AM
Robert from NYC

Verizon and all the old bells supply their own electricity for their phones so you can use your phone and receive calls too in case of a blackout. You should always keep a base cord to receiver phone even if you keep it in the closet for emergencies like this. But if you're in NYC you will have to be with Verizon.

Apr. 24 2008 10:55 AM
Micheal from Manhattan

The telephone system is powered by batteries at the central office and should continue for several days in teh event of a power outage

Apr. 24 2008 10:55 AM

Shortened --

Do you know of any evacuation plan for Manhattan, involving boats and Homeland Security, in the case of another disaster?

Apr. 24 2008 10:54 AM
chestinee from Midtown

land line phone that isn't portable.

I have cold packs frozen in my freezer and coolers so I won't lose the food in my freezer (which doesn't need to be cooked)

Apr. 24 2008 10:54 AM
Greg from NJ

In a real terrorist attack (or natural disaster) that requires an evacuation, Manhattan would be in gridlock for a week. I've always thought we should develop an air inflatable causeway to NJ two blocks wide. Sounds like a solution from a bad movie, but really our island needs a way off...

Apr. 24 2008 10:54 AM
David from manhattan

If there is a disaster, will the city be locked down, as far as exiting the city by bridge and tunnel, or will the city be trying to facilitate getting out?

Apr. 24 2008 10:54 AM
hjs from 11211

val 8
one of my more worrying friends actually keeps a life preserver in the car, if u can believe that!

Apr. 24 2008 10:53 AM
tom from harlem

When growing up, I always wondered what that 3 brick thing was in my basement-- my dad's bomb shelter till he thought, "what the hell am I doing." But that's a bomb shelter. A Go Bag is perfectly reasonable.

Cash is the hard thing to keep.

Food is a pain too... cause the things that keep are the things I don't eat. And I have to replace them in a year or so.

In my carry bag though I always have my leather man, medical gas rated mask, light sticks... who knows.

Apr. 24 2008 10:52 AM
Karl from Manhattan

Who has priority at a shelter, the pet dog or cat or someone like me who's very allergic to them?

Apr. 24 2008 10:52 AM
*heather* from lower east side

oops, i meant to write, "as he works".

Apr. 24 2008 10:51 AM
*heather* from lower east side

just in the last week i've listed a host of items on ebay to earn extra cash to help me buy a ticket to australia to stay with my boyfriend as works. i can only stay 6 months at a time on a tourist visa and will continue flying back and forth as long as i can to 1) be with him; 2) not be in nyc/america should anything bad happen! yes, that was in my thoughts and is part of my plan. plus, i'll soon be stocking up on canned goods and grains!

Apr. 24 2008 10:50 AM

A few years ago during the power outages I was assuming that Homeland Security would be activating a system I had assumed they had established after a couple years in existence -- which entailed private and government boats to evacuate folks from Manhattan to "mainland." After all, I can't imagine what *else* this homeland security could even do. Silly me -- but do you know if such a system is yet in place?

Apr. 24 2008 10:50 AM
Carol from Brooklyn

I can never figure out how to pick a place to meet. My husband and I live and work in Park Slope. Our son lives in Bushwick and works in DUMBO. Getting out of Brooklyn is probably harder than most places to get out of if there is a major emergency.

Where to meet?

Apr. 24 2008 10:49 AM
val from brooklyn

what about a bridge collapse?
i often sit in traffic on the Williamsburg bridge with the jmz going by and think to myself 'this bridge is going to collapse' just in case it does.... what should i plan on doing?

Apr. 24 2008 10:48 AM
antonio from park slope

Does he know why the emergency management system that was supposed to sound during 911 did not?

Apr. 24 2008 10:48 AM
maria from manhattan

Question: I just took the Time Warner cable phone/cable/Internet package. What I didn't realize was that the phone would be dependent on the cable--and that if there's a brownout or somesuch, I would lose phone service. How do I compensate for that?

Apr. 24 2008 10:47 AM
a woman from manhattan

Yeah, really. A "go bag"? Like we're all going to be near our "go bag" when we need it? Won't many of us be in the park, at the shopping mall, doing the laundry somewhere, visiting friends in Jersey, whatever.

You'd have to have one wherever you go, at work, in the car... And what about us freelancers? I work in three or four different midtown offices every day, and have no right to leave anything in any of these places.

It's a little bit of a security blanket for bourgeois people (or paranoid nuts), if you ask me. It's better to be mentally prepared. Know what you'll do, and how you'll get what and where you need.

Apr. 24 2008 10:13 AM
hjs from 11211

maybe it would be helpful if you could tell me when and where this terrorist act/natural disaster/alien invasion will hit so I can be out of town that week. in lieu of this I won't make a 'go bag.' I'll just diet if there's no food after the invasion.

Apr. 23 2008 05:45 PM
Harry from Huntington, NY

I missed the show last week, but have you talked about requirements for joining CERT and how people can find their local division?

Apr. 23 2008 03:59 PM
David Rittinger from Clinton Hill

John I am a skeptical fan, and was wondering if you can validate the authenticity of you self proclaimed preparedness expertise status by giving a personal example of an emergency situation you have encountered where your ideology has paid off more so than the common sense of the general public.

Apr. 23 2008 11:44 AM
Mary from Culemborg, the Netherlands

My boyfriend and I are US citizens living in the Netherlands. Neither of us have a car and rely on public transportion to get every where. Last night after watching a documentary on bombings in Northern Ireland, I told my boyfriend that we needed a plan on what to do if we are not together and one of us is near or in a some type of disaster. How do we make contact? Do we stay put and wait or do we plan a safe location to meet?

Apr. 23 2008 11:41 AM

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