You don't actually need to avoid weather balloons. I have a strong suspicion that the media and government are making a big deal about these balloons simply to drum up support for conflict with China (or in the case of the media, just to make hay while the sun shines). Think I'm wrong? Call your parents. They're worried about these balloons. I bet you a dollar it's the first thing they'll say.
This conflict doesn't need to be hot for the government's purposes: it only needs to be scary enough for us to support more defense spending. It's what makes the United States' wheel go around. And because the media is largely complicit in whatever narrative the government wants to spin, people that are fed the mainstream media diet are hearing something that reminds them of their childhood during the Cold War, and this creates in them an existential fear. Existential fear makes a lot of allowances for otherwise egregious conduct.
But here's the thing: the United States and China are inextricably linked through the economy. If we were to start an actual war with them, both of our economies, and the world economy, would spiral. It behooves no one for open conflict to ensue–which puts Taiwan and Hong Kong in a bind, but that's a bigger can of worms than this newsletter. So before you go thinking you need a bunker (not that I'm necessarily opposed to bunkers), maybe consider something more plausible.
The East Palestine Evac-Bag
I live a non-metaphorical stone's throw from railroad tracks, and a couple stone's throws away from the highway. A major accident that would require me and my family to evacuate double-time is not out of the realm of possibility. With East Palestine still fresh in everyone's mind, I think now is the time for some old-fashioned practical prepping.
This is not exactly the same as the normal prepper's bugout situation, in which we may have to run from FEDRA soldiers or what have you, but it's also not very far off. This bag is basically one you'd have packed living in fire-prone areas–it's not so much based on survival as it is continuity. Where survival comes in is that this bag is ready to go when something explodes, and you don't have to search around while a plume of toxic smoke is billowing toward your home.
Put this bag someplace out of the way so you don't wind up relocating it in a rush, but easy to access and known to everyone. A hall closet near your primary exit and entrance door is a good bet for storage, if applicable. The bag itself can be anything but you probably want something at least bookbag-sized. The items to include are as follows:
-Important documents: Deed, insurance information, a home inventory, birth certificates, etc. Avoid keeping identifying information in this bag when possible. Make digital copies of these documents if you can, and keep them both in the cloud and on a thumb drive in the bag. Remember, this is not just about survival, but continuity.
-Clothes: a couple changes of clothing updated seasonally.
-Masks: In the event that you are caught downwind or stuck enroute, pack, at least, N95s. Goggles aren't a bad idea, either, as blinking away smoke while driving is gonna give you a hard time.
-Medicine and toiletries: Self-explanatory, but pack for at least a week if you are able to set that much medication aside. Remember contact solution, bath wipes, tampons, etc. A small first-aid kit is also helpful if you don't already have one in your car.
-Water and food: You won't be able to meet the standard metric of 1 gallon/person/day, and you want to be able to heft this bag around for at least a block or two, so don't overload on water or food but do make sure you include some of both. No cans, no big bottles.
-Radio: May sound silly if you're getting into a car, but most emergency radios these days are all-in-one. A weather radio like this one also has a flashlight and acts as a (very small) battery bank for your cell phone–basically enough of a charge for a couple emergency calls. They're small, light, and too useful not to include.
-Pet supplies: This is a big one, depending on your pet(s). You may need a separate bag or pet carrier(s), but do not not include these items for lack of room in your main bag. Scenarios like what happened in East Palestine are lethal, and even if you think you're only leaving your pet for a day or a matter of hours, this can mean severe illness or death (and also, what the fuck is wrong with you? Bring your pet). In my case this means having at least one pet carrier on hand and totes ready to go for keeping my chickens. Yes, I'm taking my chickens. No, I will not be taking questions.
Practically speaking, this may be your average person's bugout bag–and there's nothing wrong with that. You don't need to think of yourself as the prepper's-prepper who keeps knives and tools and water filters and chest seals to be prepared for these situations. Sometimes clothes and a little food and water and some kibble for your dog is enough for you to survive a situation with minimal inconvenience that may have otherwise meant a brush with death. Preparedness comes in a spectrum, not levels, and any improvement over your current situation is worth making, and starting today is better than tomorrow.