Saturday, March 20, 2010
There are many different ways to go about preparing for tomorrow. One method that has really worked out well for me so far is kit building. Kits focus your attention on one specific area at a time, and bring into focus the strengths and weaknesses in your planning. There is something of a natural progression to it; you can start small and work up to bigger and better as you develop the means and know how.
This is intended as an overview of the concept; details for specific kit building can be found all all over the web.
EDC (Every Day Carry)
The Everyday Carry (EDC) is a "kit" that you keep on your person at all times. What it consists of is entirely up to you, and based on your personal needs. Universal items (Prep minded individuals or not) are personal identification, credit cards, cash, cell phone, keys, medications. More specialized items are knives and multi-tools, personal protection, keychain based tools, fire making devices, flash drives with important personal info. My EDC is split between my key chain and my wallet, is not cumbersome in the least and I am extremely happy with the system. For your EDC balance the things you would never, ever, want to be without, under any circumstances; with what is practical to carry. I just won't be one of those guys who carries a purse.
PSK (Personal Survival Kit)
The Personal Survival Kit (PSK) is meant to be a small supply of materials to help you survive a few days if stranded or separated from a safe place. It does not have to be expensive, large or all inclusive. This is an area to expand on your EDC and give yourself a fighting chance. The survival basics must be addressed here: Shelter, Fire, Water, Food Gathering, Identification, Navigation, Signaling for help. My kit fits into an old military surplus three-magazine ALICE Pouch, and probably cost around $40 to build. It goes with me on hunting, fishing, hiking and off road trips.
24-Hour Kit (GHB)
The Get Home Bag fills the gap between PSK and the fairly large 72-Hour Kit. A typical School sized backpack will fill the bill nicely. Include Food and Water, Clothing, a Blanket, a Tarp, Personal Hygiene products. It may be more or less than 24 hours; build yours around the maximum timeframe it may take you to get home from the farthest you usually travel from home. For most of us, this kit is probably best left in your vehicle, and need not be overly expensive. In fact, many items can be found or re-purposed for next to nothing.
The Car Kit may be the most overlooked, yet useful, assemblage of goods you can put together. Something as simple as a flat tire can leave you stranded literally anywhere. Items such as Jumper Cables, Fix-a-Flat, Air Compressor, Flashlight, Fire Extinguisher, Water/Coolant, Oil and tools can be stored in a toolbox or, as in my case, an old gym bag.
72-Hour Kit (Bug Out Bag)
"They" say three days is about how long a person can expect to wait for rescue, or help to arrive after a natural disaster. It would make sense to build a semi-comprehensive kit to last a person (or family) 72 hours. It would make even more sense for this kit to be portable, in case evacuation in called for. This is where the concept of a Bug Out Bag comes in. Whether you have a place to "bug out" to yet or not, a good sized backpack prepared to support you and your family for 3 days is a good idea. The size of this kit will allow you to include bigger and better items like sleeping bags, cookware, food and water. A weapon and ammo should be considered. One pack per family member is a good idea. Don't forget to pack comfort items like sweets and stuffed animals, especially if you have little ones! While any old backpack will do, military surplus Alice and MOLLE packs will probably hold up better and are very affordable.
First Aid Kits
Store bought First Aid Kits can be good, but are rarely comprehensive and never tailored to individuals. A good plan is to buy a large kit and then add to it with medications and other items where lacking. First Aid Kits should be in each vehicle and Pack/Kit you have, as well as the home.
We live in earthquake country, and so have an "Earthquake Kit". For us it's a plastic tub in a closet with food, water, radio, flashlights, blankets and clothes. It should be enough to last you a few weeks if supply routes are cut off, and you want to work up to a two month store as a benchmark.
Future Trade Goods
It might not be a bad idea to begin storing up what may be "Future Trade Goods". That may be .22 caliber and other common ammo, tobacco, alcohol, spices, seeds, bleach, canned goods. Things that are fairly cheap and easy to find, but could become very valuable when unavailable. Somehow, I don't think the average man is going to be all that interested in a sack of old Nickels, he wants something he can use.
These are just a few examples of some of the kits commonly assembled. You can create sub-kits for more specific tasks such as Water Purification, Food Gathering or Self Defense, it's the concept and practicality that I like. It helps you look at your preps in detail and iron out the problems. You get to know each and every component and how to use each of them. The end product is a good modular system you can build on and modify as needed, and the peace of mind that you are making progress and prepared for whatever may come your way tomorrow.
(article originally featured on James Wesley Rawles' SurvivalBlog)
This is a bit of general advice I gleaned from living through the utter anarchy that followed the earthquake, in no particular order. I write this in the hopes that it helps someone someday.
* Get to know your neighbors. You may have an arsenal, or a stockpile of food, or whatever else you think you need, but you can never be completely self-sufficient. Self-defense (neighborhood defense) is a good example of this. A lone guy with a handgun is less threating to a mob than two dozen angry homeowners with baseball bats.
* Get to know your neighbors. I insist here. One may be a doctor. Another a mechanic. One may be able to jury-rig an electric pump for a well when the electricity is gone but there are car batteries to be had. One may know how to cook great food with whatever half-putrefact crap is left to eat after 10 days.
* Keep spare water at home. They say a gallon a day per person, but if you stop bathing (which we did) you can get by on less. We had virtually no water, though, and the municipal water was cut off for two weeks in our area (in others, they still don't have any), which was a big problem. My wife and I spent hours a day scouring town for one of the very scarce water trucks that were around.
* Get to know your neighbors. You may have tons of beans but no water. They may have nothing to eat, but they may have a grill. Another may have charcoal. Yet another may have water. If you get together, you all eat nutrituiously. If you don't, you all go hungry. If there's one thing the survivalist literature I've read gets wrong, it's that you can make it completely on your own. That's mostly fantasy. You need to join together with neighbors for many things -- from everything I mentioned above to self-defense.
* Keep alternative sources of fuel at home. Our gas was cut off for nearly three weeks, gas cylinders couldn't be had anywhere, and all the stores were closed for more than 10 days, so we couldn't buy even charcoal. We used what charcoal we could gather from people's barbecuing leftovers, and then we went around the city gathering firewood. Shipping pallets work great for this. Remember, you also need to boil all your water in such a situation, so that means lots of fuel.
* A battery powered radio is vital. Rumors spread like wildfire on a sea of gasoline in catastrophes, and they can cause great harm. You need solid information -- on where water can be found, where there are riots and active looting, what parts of what hospitals didn't collapse, etc. In our case, I jury rigged a really long wire to the antenna of a radio to be able to get long distance transmissions while the local station was down.
* People will panic. People will turn into hoarding bastards, even if it means stuff everyone else could eat rots. People will have no idea what to do. I learned in this experience that most people are sheep, and many can turn into wolves if allowed to, if only due to the effects of sleep deprivation, terror, uncertainty, malnutrition, etc. If you've got even a bit of leadership in you, lead!! People need that. Assign them tasks. Keep them busy. Organize patrols. Have an official radio listener. In these situations, it's not "If I don't lead, someone else will" -- it's actually "If I don't lead, no one at all will".
* Get to know your neighbors. One of ours, who I only met after the earthquake, works for a utility company, and his small connections got our electricity back on earlier than in neighboring areas.
* If you lead, you need people to follow you. Most will, simply because it's comforting. In all other cases, just work harder than everyone else, and then even the stragglers will respect and follow you.
I could go on and on... I guess the lesson in these examples is that, in my experience, a survivalist who believes he can be self-sufficient will not do well.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Specializing in solar and wind-up power, Freeplay products were first designed for self-sufficient use in poor African countries where villages lack basic services and utilities.
"The Clockwork Radio, as the device was first known, was proposed as a means of providing better communication and education in undeveloped areas of Africa, which could lead to an effective measure in stopping the rampant spread of AIDS. Traditional radio, although widespread, relied on an electrical supply or the availability of disposable batteries - both of which were in short supply across the continent."
REI is a good place to find Freeplay radios and flashlights. Find a local dealer with this locater.
New and improved technology has seen a change from the old steel spring mechanism to a direct-charge generator, allowing the user to keep winding for as long as they like - storing all the energy they need.
The latest generation of Freeplay products are: smaller, lighter, more efficient, rugged design, lower price point.In addition to the fundamental needs of people - nutrition, hygiene, security - are the needs for communication and for light. Since the first wind-up radio was produced in February 1996, the Freeplay story has been one of pioneering and developing technology to serve the needs of humankind from all walks of life. Freeplay's success has been both commercial and societal.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
When I go hiking, I normally carry a small CamelBak pack filled with water and my survival gear: multiple ways to start a fire, first aid supplies, some snacks and energy bars, a pocket knife and a variety of other items which could include a GPS, a small camera, tissue pack, a signal mirror, and my cell phone. It's not a large kit, but there are times when I don't carry it.
The Whistle Creek Survival Kit fits in a normal shirt pocket. You can stash one in your car's glove compartment, in your hunting jacket, fishing vest, your bicycle's repair kit, at your workplace . . . any number of places and situations where you might not carry a larger 10 essentials kit.
Contents include: fishing hook and line, compass, tea and sugar, first aid supplies, duct tape, matches, whistle, signal mirror, razor blade, fire starter cube, chewing gum, salt and a safety pin.
Whistle Creek's Sardine Can Survival Kit
P.O. Box 3107
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
Phone 970 586-7310
Fax 970 586-3447
Monday, February 25, 2008
BARRICADE® Fire Blocking Gel is a revolutionary product that is changing the science of fire fighting and exposure protection. During recent years, the increasing number of out-of-control wildland/urban interface fires has made headlines around the world. These challenging incidents, such as the devastating fires in California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Florida have threatened lives and destroyed many homes, businesses and other structures. Even more unfortunate is the fact that firefighters have been injured and killed in their valiant efforts to fight these monsters. BARRICADE will finally allow us to control and extinguish these fires safely and effectively.
BARRICADE has been tested and proven in the most severe firestorm conditions and is being lauded by firefighters, homeowners and government officials for saving millions of dollars worth of property.
Retardant Gel Helps Protect Homes From Wildfires -- Fox News
Fire Gel: "Like Spraying A Wet Blanket Over Your Home" -- CBS
New Fire-Retardant Gel Can Save Homes - Washington Post
Discussion about the gel on firehouse.com.
Popular Mechanics - August 2007
There's a checklist for a well-stocked disaster kit, including items for car, home, and To-Go bag.
Take the quiz -- Are you ready for disaster? From tornadoes to tsunamis, wildfires to earthquakes and everything in between, test how prepared you, your family and your home are to survive anything.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
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