The delight of defeating

a disaster awaits you...

With this book close by, no longer will you cower under the threat of impending misfortune; for its pages will empower you with the kind of confidence and knowledge that will lead you to manage your experiences better, suffer less, and spend less money no matter how, when, or where a disaster may lay you low.

Whether you are at home, at work, visiting a public building, overnighting in a hotel, or driving somewhere, this reference could save not only your life, but those of your loved ones, business colleagues, friends, even strangers whose fate is suddenly woven with yours.

Six reasons the Disaster Handbook

is superior to any other text of this kind


It details the foods, tools, and other “calamity commodities” you will need when
Nature gets wrathful.


It recognizes that the parts of your home or workplace that will serve as shelter must be nearly indestructible. For what use is it to have everything you may need in a disaster if where you would store and use it is destroyed? The author, a fifty-year veteran of architecture and writer of five books on architectural engineering for one of the world’s largest publishers, is eminently qualified to write about this aspect of disaster preparedness.

Viewing disasters through an architectural lens has another advantage. It will shift your concerns from worrying about what on earth could happen to you to envisioning those constructions that will make you reasonably comfortable — and this will shift your thinking from fear-oriented to task-oriented; it will replace paralysis with strength; and suddenly you will have your hands on what will most clearly and directly steer your life back to normal.


This book asserts that a disaster’s biggest danger isn’t the damage it does so much as it prevents you from performing those everyday, taken-for-granted tasks that keep you alive. Hence the heart of this book describes how to cook your food, wash the dishes, clean your clothes, bathe, go to the bathroom, and keep everything sanitary all when you have no power and no pure water. When misfortune knocks your life ajar, these are the links that form a chain of survival.


It also describes what you don’t need in a disaster: You don’t need to know wilderness survival skills, and you don’t need a generator. And you don’t need an arsenal of weapons or knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. When facing the challenges of a disaster, far more citizens realize the need for teamwork and friendship, and try to help each other, and would rather be known as Samaritans than Survivalists.


To overcome a disaster you also don’t need the attributes of youth and strength. During two major disasters - snowstorm Alfred in late October 2011 and hurricane Sandy in late October 2012 - the author performed nearly every task you will read about in this book when he was past the age of seventy. Absent youth and strength, he exercised the kind of creativity and cleverness that everyone has regardless of age or stamina.


This book’s drawings are better than those in any other publication of this kind. They are beautiful, photogenically accurate, and attentively detailed. If you compare this book’s drawings with any other you will see the difference.

A few highlights of this reference are...

How to bring your family together if they are apart when a disaster happens.

Detailed descriptions of respirators, a vital subject the public knows little about.

How to build a sandbag dike.

How to prepare for an evacuation.

What to do if you will be rescued by a helicopter.

What it’s like living in a public shelter.

How to bury the dead.

How to repair your house, car, and property afterward.

Explore the Disaster Handbook

This 15-ounce volume is designed to be smaller and thinner than a folded shirt, so you can toss it in a suitcase or carry-all, slip it under a car seat, or set it in an office desk, where it will be close when you need it most.

Finally, the most dangerous disaster isn’t one that would almost kill you, it’s one that you would say in advance, “This couldn’t happen to me...”

Having this book is how you can avert this danger.

Consider how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary.


About the Author

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Since graduating from the Cornell School of Architecture in 1964, Robert Brown Butler has been involved in every aspect of architecture for fifty years. From 1967 to 1973 he worked as a carpenter in California and Colorado. Since 1973 he has lived in New York and worked somewhat chronologically as a carpenter, building contractor, registered architect, and author. In 1978 and 1979 he received two federal grants for his innovative environmental architectural designs; from 1978 to 1980 he taught environmental design and architectural drafting at B.O.C.E.S., a college in Westchester County; and in 1986 and 1989 he received two U.S. Patents for architectural inventions.

In 1981 Mr. Butler wrote his first book, The Ecological House, which describes how to design and build houses that minimize damage to the environment. In 1984 he authored for McGraw-Hill the Architectural and Engineering Calculations Manual, the first book of its kind whose algebraic formulas were formatted for easy use by computers. Between 1998 and 2002 he authored four more books for McGraw-Hill: the Standard Handbook of Architectural Engineering, a 1070-page volume that includes a computerized disk of the book’s 1,000 equations; Architectural Engineering Design: Structural Systems and Architectural Engineering Design: Mechanical Systems, two books for professional engineers totaling 1,540 pages that also include computerized disks of the book’s equations; and the Architectural Formulas Pocket Reference, a book of architectural engineering formulas. In 2012 Mr. Butler authored his seventh book, Architecture Laid Bare, a book for laymen that describes the latest environmental and technical issues that face American architecture today. As evidenced by these publications Mr. Butler has a long history of being one of America’s foremost authorities on environmental architecture and architectural engineering.

Mr. Butler’s environmental and engineering expertise as expressed in his previous publications is manifest in his present one, the Disaster Handbook —for the central nature of a disaster is that each is a clash between the outer forces of the environment and the inner forces of building engineering. Mr. Butler’s seventh book has a website:, and his typography has a website,

©2014 by Robert Brown Butler All rights reserved. Except as allowed under the U. S. Copyright Act of 1976 or for use in a review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed,or transmitted in any form or by any means or stored in a database or retrieval system including any uploading, or distribution via the Internet without prior and express written permission of the author. Photos appearing in this book are owned by the author, public domain, or licensed under the Creative Commons Attributions or GNU Free Documentation License except where otherwise noted. Neither the author nor publisher guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or validity of any information published herein; nor shall they be responsible for any errors, omissions, or damages arising out of the use of this information; nor shall this book be considered as rendering professional services. Any use or misuse of the in- formation presented herein is the responsibility of the user, who shall be responsible or liable with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to have caused by the information contained in this book.

Photos appearing above are in the public domain and licensed under Creative Commons and/or GNU Free Documentation License, and attributable as follows (top to bottom): Greg Henshall/FEMA, Wsiegmund, Jim.henderson. Photo of the author is copyright Robert Brown Butler.

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