Residents learn safety, survival skills

Preparedness begins at home



NORTH FULTON, Ga. – When there is an emergency, how many of us can say we are prepared? It’s with that question in mind that the people of the American Heritage Society of Georgia held a survival preparedness retreat Sept. 8 at the Milton Center on Old Milton Avenue in Alpharetta.

Experts in fields ranging from beekeeping to radio to gun rights gave lectures and demonstrations to the assembled students.

But don’t think everyone was arming themselves against the end of the world. That was not the point of the classes, said Vesta Smith, with the American Heritage Society of Georgia.

“People need preparation,” Smith said. “We’re not doom-and-gloom. We just want to prepare. In times of crisis, you need to know the basics and provide for yourself and family.”

Mike Rainwater, of Archangel Tactical, an Alpharetta-based defensive training company, agreed. He set up a booth at the event to highlight the need to be prepared.

“It doesn’t have to be a total governmental collapse,” said Rainwater. “If you’ve thought of something ahead, you’re more likely to do it.”

He said no one could have expected the collapse of civil structure in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, or the devastating tornadoes in Alabama or even the week here in Atlanta last year when the roads were covered in ice. A disaster comes in many forms, and forewarned is forearmed.

“It’s better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it,” Rainwater said. “That doesn’t mean I’m building a bunker in my backyard. But it’s like planning to go on a trip. Make a copy of your vital documents and put them in a waterproof safe. Keep a spare tire in your car.”

Members of the North Fulton Amateur Radio League (NFARL) taught a class on Morse Code and the importance of keeping radio nearby.

“When Hurricane Katrina hit, all the public safety people went in with their handheld radios,” said NFARL member Jim Stafford. “But their batteries ran out and the nearest charger was 30 minutes away.”

He said amateur radio operators were able to jimmy-rig radios to car batteries.

“When all else fails, amateur radio comes into play,” Stafford said.

Hand-crank radios that double as flashlights and cellphone chargers are cheap and readily available and can be useful if power is out for days at a time.

Marsha Elliott, owner of Wildwood Forest, a honey company in Roswell that keeps bees, said the value of honey has been known for thousands of years.

“[Bees] are very important to crops and pollination,” Elliott said.

An estimated 80 percent of all insect pollination is due to honey bees.

“Honey will last indefinitely,” she said, so long as it is kept in a cool, dark place.

There is also a medicinal effect.

“Honey can be used to treat wounds as an antibacterial agent [whose effects] will last for weeks after it’s applied,” she said.

Honey can reduce inflammation, stimulate cell growth and is full of antioxidants, all of which will help with healing a wound and keeping it clean.

It’s also good to eat, she added.

The classes were popular, with attendees coming from throughout the metro area to the Milton Center. Smith said next year she hopes to have a true retreat – a camp out under the stars that includes campfires and astronomy classes.

For more information on the American Heritage Society of Georgia and for upcoming events, visit them online at

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