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When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival Paperback – November 16, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


There are few books that summarize what families need to do to be truly ready for disasters. Certainly, there are good books in print about first aid, food storage, outdoor survival, the martial arts, and amateur radio. But there are precious few that succinctly summarize numerous topics in terms that are understandable to a layman. You are holding one in your hands now, and I hope that you appreciate its significance. It could literally mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.--Foreword by James Wesley Rawles

"If every family in the country would simply take the time to study one chapter in this, as a family project each month--what a stronger, more prepared country we would be, and able to face the many hazards in our communities. Great job!"--Rick Tobin, President/CEO, TAO Emergency Management Consulting

"Self-sufficiency and survival skills are essential following disasters or unforeseen events, which can be as simple as getting lost in the outdoors. For major disasters, the government has advised everyone to prepare with a minimum of supplies sufficient to survive for three days and preferably one to two weeks until aid can reach individuals in the affected communities. Mathew Stein has drawn together a unique compendium of information from various disciplines including disaster preparedness, wilderness survival, and living "off the grid." This book has specific lists, instructions, and techniques, and will satisfy people with very different interests and needs-both the people who want to purchase the necessary items for the most common disasters and want to be more self-reliant for the long term, and those who prefer improvised and natural solutions to commercial products."--Howard Backer, MD, MPH, Emergency Physician and Disaster Planner; former President of the Wilderness Medical Society

"Mat Stein did an amazing job on this book! When Disaster Strikes is an outstanding compilation of emergency preparedness information. This is the one book I want on the bookshelves of all the people I care about, including my children."--Kathy Harrison, author of Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens

"Mat Stein offers a sure and steady hand through turbulent times. When a storm threatens or the earth trembles,you'll be glad you have When Disaster Strikes close at hand."George Noory, host of Coast-to-Coast AM and author, Journey to the Light

"When Disaster Strikes is an important tool for you and your family, as well as your business and community, to avoid costly mistakes during times of crisis. Stein's common sense guide provides valuable tools and lessons learned so you can be prepared ahead of time, and won't have to learn them the hard way while going through a disaster."--James Lee Witt, Chief Executive Officer of Witt Associates and Director of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from 1993-2001. www.wittassociates.com

"When Disaster Strikes is not your typical survival book. Not only is it packed with critical information, but also with the real-life stories explaining the topic at hand. It keeps you interested and begging for more."--Steve Thibeault, founder, www.survival-gear.com

"If you need to know how to use emergency gear, make rope, run a generator, give first aid, or make colloidal silver, these and many more survival skills are explained in When Disaster Strikes along with clear illustrations and photos throughout. This is clearly the work of an author who knows his topic and who has taken the time to research it well."--John Egan, proprietor, prepperbooks.com and preppergroups.com

"Concise yet comprehensive, When Disaster Strikes gives good advice for just about every disaster situation imaginable. Medical preparedness is covered in a well-written and conversational manner that anyone can understand, with a focus on alternative remedies. Unlike some authors who just talk the talk, Mat Stein really walks the walk!"--Joseph and Amy Alton, hosts of Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy's Doom and Bloom ShowTM

"Every day, disaster strikes someone, somewhere. When it does, only a handful have the wisdom and foresight to be prepared. Mat Stein has done one hell of a job of accumulating the tremendous vault of knowledge that can set you apart as one of the few who elect to care for themselves and not wait around for someone else to do it. This book will help you prepare for just about any catastrophe that might strike-from basic first aid at the scene of an auto accident to coping with the devastating effects of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which would shut down society as we know it for months or years."--John McPherson, survival instructor, US Army special forces S.E.R.E. survival instructors, and author, Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills

"With his book, When Disaster Strikes, Matthew Stein has put together one of the most comprehensive emergency preparedness manuals I've ever seen. From the smallest emergency to a total societal collapse, this book has it covered. Highly recommended!"--Jim Cobb, disaster readiness expert and cofounder,www.SurvivalWeekly.com

"Matthew Stein has been way ahead of the curve in recognizing the multiple fiascos we face in late-stage industrial society. This book is a concise, comprehensive, and deeply intelligent manual for getting through all that in one piece.... It's a darn good book--the kind of thing I actually need!"--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, and the World Made By Hand novels

"Mat Stein's new book tells the reader exactly what to do in the midst of disaster. It is extraordinarily practical and empowering. Read it, share it with friends, give it as a gift, and keep one in the home and one at the office or in the car. This book could save your life or the life of someone you care about."--Carolyn Baker, PhD, author, Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition

"Natural and man-made disasters can happen anywhere at any time, and Mat leaves no stone unturned-from surviving at home without heat or power, to coping with full-blown nuclear disaster and other large-scale catastrophes. When Disaster Strikes is a must-have addition to any survival library!"--Ed Corcoran, editor, Survivalist Magazine

"A full-spectrum, highly readable resource...an entire bookshelf in an invaluable one-volume guide. Stein's personal experience and practical knowledge animate each topic."--Charles Hugh Smith, author, An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times, and writer, oftwominds.com

"I write survival books. Mat Stein has written a survival encyclopedia. Every survival topic I have ever heard of is covered in depth, breadth, and detail. This is a survival library in a single volume."--Bruce D. Clayton, PhD, author, Life After Doomsday

"Comprehensive and delightfully overwhelming, When Disaster Strikes hits the mark that so many miss. Authentic, real, and dependable. A must-own resource."--John L. Chunta, PeakOilResources.com

About the Author

An engineer, author, and building contractor, Matthew Stein has built hurricane-resistant, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly homes and designed consumer water-filtration devices, commercial water-filtration systems, and automated assembly machinery among other things. He currently resides with his wife, Josie, in the High Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe, California. His websites are at www.stein-design.com and www.whentechfails.com.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (November 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160358322X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603583220
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author, engineer, designer, and green builder, Mat Stein was born and raised in Burlington Vermont. His parents started him walking on skis at age three, hiking at age 5, backpacking at age seven, hunting at age 10, rock climbing and extreme skiing at age 11. The Green mountains of Vermont, White mountains of New Hampshire, and the Adirondack's of upstate New York were his four-season childhood play grounds. After graduating from MIT in 1978, the lure of the "real mountains" of the west drew Mat across the country to California.

Always enjoying work with his hands, and being outside in the wilderness, Mat found it stifling to go to work as a design engineer in Silicon Valley, pushing pencils day after day. So, he took breaks from engineering off-and-on for several years to be a carpenter, climb the vertical walls of Yosemite, and teach skiing and High School math. In the mid eighties, after lots of stress and lost hair, he bailed from designing disc drives in Silicon Valley to a ten-acre homestead in the foothills of the Sierras. Mat has built hurricane and earthquake resistant, energy efficient, environmentally friendly homes. He has also designed, among other things, consumer water filtration devices, solar PV roofing panels, medical bacteriological filters, emergency chemical drench systems, computer disk drives, and portable fiberglass buildings.

A thirty year interest in alternative healing got its start while Mat was still a freshman at MIT, after he witnessed the miraculous remote healing of a crippled friend (big shake up to his scientific "Billiard Ball Theory of the Universe" way of thinking). Over the years, this interest expanded to the use of herbs, homeopathy, and other alternatives to heal medical conditions that weren't responding to western style medicine.

Eventually he and his wife Josie wandered farther into the mountains to Truckee, where have their current home in the High Sierra Mountains of California (Truckee is where the Donner Party had their infamous barbecue about 150 years ago). About a decade back, they took a three year break from the deep Sierra snows to build energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes on Maui. The engineer, carpenter, and backwoodsman sides of Mat found peace, harmony, and synergy through renewable energy, green building, and self-reliance. Today, Mat owns and operates Stein Design and Construction, providing product design services, engineering analysis, and green building.

It was a true epiphany that started Mat firmly on the path of self-reliance, emergency prep, and sustainability. Around Thanksgiving of 1997, during his morning session of prayer and meditation, in answer to a simple request for "guidance and inspiration", Mat received a fully developed "story board" type of pictorial outline that popped into his head instantaneously. It was the outline for a massive handbook to help people be more self-reliant, live more sustainably, and prepare to weather the coming storms as we pass through this age of uncertainty and change. After three years of work, this "cosmic download" crystallized into his first book, When Technology Fails.

Mat still enjoys playing around in the vertical world of rock walls, though since suffering (and recovering from) a serious injury in a 50 foot ground fall (gravity sucks!) he no longer "pushes the envelope" quite like he used to. Wintertime finds Mat volunteering as a guide and cross country ski instructor for the blind with the Sierra Regional Ski for Light program.

For more information, see www.whentechfails.com and www.matstein.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After spending the last 30 years of my life living in an extreme alpine environment, I've come to realize the importance of having a book like this as an important part of everyone's household library. Mat has apparently chosen to try to tackle a huge topic and attempt to condense the most important aspects of surviving a huge assortment of possibilities into one compact book.

What separates Mat's book from others is his inclusion of alternative technologies and modalities to this attractive mix. For most of my life I have been utilizing many of the alternative healing methods he recommends, to great success. It is amazing that more of the population is unaware of what simple, inexpensive, yet effective options of maintaining optimum health there are out there.

For trying to tackle such a broad assortment of topics and compiling them into this compact volume, Mat did a great job.

Several of the topics covered are situations which people don't expect, yet find themselves thrown into. As I suggested at the beginning of my review, I live in an alpine environment which has the majority of homes as vacation homes. During the winters and the summers, these vacation homes are full of people from all sorts of climates (from all over the world). In my 30 years of living here, I have experienced several week long power outages due to snowstorms, and evacuations due to wildfires in the summer time. For someone from a warmer climate to have to endure being isolated from "civilization" due to a massive snowstorm, and power outages, a book such as this would help lessen the effects of the situation.
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This book has a great deal of information form When Technology Fails the authors other book. Where the book is a mix is that it is both strong and weak. Strong on hand to hand combat but weak on food storage and energy preparations. I was a little disappointed that Mr Rawles raved about this book so glowingly with such large holes in the subject matter. Having said that it is not a bad book, just not a great one.
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I may have all the stuff in the world to use in an emergency but if I don't have a plan, all I have is STUFF; a pile of junk with no map to follow for their effective use in a crisis.

I have STUFF. I know how to use my STUFF. And I keep buying more STUFF. But, I put off making a plan because I didn't know where to start and the task seemed overwhelming. I like simple. When I found this book, I felt that I found simple and basic guidelines on making my emergency plan. I am not an authority on this stuff and there are likely better resources but, of those I have researched, this one works for me.

Pages 22 through 33 lists things to consider in your plan, short term planning guides and the top ten survival skills. The rest of the book supports these and long term survival techniques and planning as well as hunting, first aid, living off the land, self-defense, starting a fire and much more . . . a book worth having in hand when something happens. It reminds me of my old Boy Scout Handbook on steroids. I took the overall essence of pages 22-33 and created this Microsoft Word document which you may use to start you own Emergency Plan at have-a-plan.com. Permission to post this document for free distribution was granted to me by the Author (Mat Stein) and the Publisher (Chelsea Green Publishing).

Now, when I find another resource, on a particular topic that makes things clearer to me than this book, I print 3 copies and paste them, as separate pages, into my 3 books where the book topic pages are located. For example: Pages 213-214 describe the construction, and use, of a Solar Still.
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"When Disaster Strikes" is a wealth of information packed into the ideal resource.
Matthew Stein's book is concise and formatted to be an accessible reference for us who strive to learn self-sufficiency in this ever-changing existence.
It is easy to take the conveniences of modern society for granted and to underestimate how vulnerable our fragile, high-tech., consumer based infrastructure would be in the event of a major crisis. The resulting communication breakdown and the over-whelming need for assistance from over-burdened emergency services is a convincing reason to learn preparedness and survival skills. The more educated and informed we are of the impact and resulting dire straits caused by potential disasters, the more proactive we can be in recovering from the devastation and helping ourselves as a community.

The author's genuine writing style has a mentoring quality, is to the point and sincere.
"When Disaster Strikes" by Matthew Stein is a great resource for learning the essentials of self-sustainence necessary to care for ourselves and our loved ones during a crisis.
Yes! I highly recommend this book!

Karen Frances
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