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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tunnel vision during planning.

When talking about planning some folks get tunnel vision on just one issue. Sure, focusing on one issue could be due to having dealt with the issue in the past. Maybe having gone through a severe storm you now focus all your energy on preparing for the next one. Nothing wrong with this as a starting place. For most of us something happened and we started thinking about preparedness after the event occurred.  



Let's use this motivation to be prepared for one situation and turn the motivation into preparedness for as many situations as we can. Why? To give us the ability to have options when something unplanned for comes up. Maybe your motivation comes from being on a sinking boat. Now you spend what resources you have making sure your boat is ready for any emergency?



The most obvious one of these tunnel vision planning scenarios is.......... "Gun Heavy" planning. What is that? Well lots of fellas, some ladies, center their planning around the need for lots of ammo and weapons.........  


Get a pad of paper and something to write with, go on we'll wait........ yes you can just open up a blank document on your computer........ Let's make a list of things which could happen in our area. here is a sample one:

EVENT
WATER
FOOD
SHELTER
STAY
GO
OTHER
Earthquake






Fire






Tornado






Car issues






Lost job






Hurricane






EMP      






Zombies







This list is just a list to give you an idea of what we are talking about. Remember we have to tailor all of our planning to our personal situation. Now let us take an item, say three days worth of food, and plug food into this chart to see what we can use it for. 

EVENT
WATER
FOOD
SHELTER
STAY
GO
OTHER
Earthquake

XXXX

XXXX


Fire

XXXX

XXXX


Tornado

XXXX

XXXX


Car issues






Lost job

XXXX

XXXX


Hurricane

XXXX

XXXX


EMP      

XXXX

XXXX


Zombies

XXXX

XXXX



If the food we are talking about is just kept in the pantry or cupboards we can use it for a lot of issues. In this case the only item we can not use the food for is if we have car issues. Why? Odds are we will be away from the food when the car has issues. Yet maybe the money we do not spend on food, because we have some, allows us to use the money to fix the car? 

Now of course we are assuming in this part of the planning none of these situations have completely destroyed your home or apartment!!!! Losing everything is a different planning session!! 

When we are going to use our limited resources (money) to purchase emergency items or tools we need to pick up items which we can use in as many of these situations as possible. This is the difference between having tunnel vision on one scenario and giving yourself the tools to adapt to many situations. Take the humble tarp, you can buy a tarp because the tarp is on a list you picked up. Which said you have to have one for a Bug Out Bag. 

  
Later, when you open the tarp you realize you are not going to get much use out of it for anything other than shade for one person, maybe... But you were focused on the list and the list said TARP, ONE..... 


Instead we need to broaden our focus and think of multiple uses for items. Taking the time to buy a larger tarp with grommets, made of more durable material, allows you to use the tarp for basic shelter and maybe even covering that leak you have in the roof?


Now is a leaking roof an emergency we have put on the list and planned for? Nope!!! But we can improvise, adapt and overcome from the situation because in our prior planning we gave ourselves flexibility!!! Now let's take the tarp and throw it in our little chart......

EVENT
WATER
FOOD
SHELTER
STAY
GO
OTHER
Earthquake


XXXX * temporary shelter outside if people are scared to go in.
XXXX
XXX
XXX  * Let neighbors use
Fire


XXXX * cover part of a burned home to provide shelter
XXXX
XXX
XXX * same 
Tornado


XXXX * same as the last two
XXX
XXX
XXX * same
Car issues






Lost job



XXX
XXX

Hurricane


XXXX same as the others
XXX
XXX
XXX * same
EMP      


XXXX same as the others
XXXX
XXX
XXX * same
Zombies







Ok I got nothing for using a tarp during a Zombie attack????? Maybe someone out there who watches the Zombie shows can tell us? 

I am sure you are getting the idea here. Let's bring this back around to the number one tunnel vision issue I see with folks....... Ok if you think all you need is ammo and guns let's have a talk....... BUT WITH GUNS I CAN GET ALL THE OTHER THINGS I NEED!! 

Yeah, yeah I have heard this one before, two things......... 

First, if you are reading this I hope you are not the type of scumbag who would rob others during an emergency!! I would hope your planning does not focus around making victims of other people.

Second, if you do not broaden your vision and keep looking through the tunnel of guns and ammo you might have to turn into a scumbag to feed your family........ which is great if the whole world turns into a Mad Max movie but not so great if you have to face charges after the emergency is done! Such as in a Katrina type event. Sure you needed food for your family. Days later the authorities show up and notice you robbed your neighbors for food..... Let's see armed robbery is what five years in the state joint?

Why not take the money you were going to use to buy nine thousand more rounds for your rifle and buy some food to feed your family for a couple of days? Your family would do better if you did not have to go out and find food during an emergency. Plus they are going to be worried when you do not come home from your "food hunting trip"!!!! Why wouldn't I come back?   

  
Because you ran into him. He has spent more time training and preparing than you and when you showed up at his door......... well he also owns a shovel, lye and knows how to use them!!!!



This is getting long. What we are trying to get across to everyone here is, do not focus just on one thing. If you are planning for the Zombies to show up, also plan for retirement incase they don't! When you purchase equipment buy items you can use in multiple situations. If your skill set is narrow, broaden your skills. Do not go through life looking through a cardboard tube! 

Sit down, write your list and see what you can cover with what you got. You might be surprised how many scenarios you can cover with some thought put behind how you prepare!!! 

As Always,

Stay Safe!!

(p.s. go out and buy a good, large tarp, with grommets this week!) 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Planning #5 - Lighting

Time for another trip down the rabbit hole......... Once again we will slid into a subject which can drive you insane if you are not careful!! All it takes is one situation of you sitting in the dark and next thing you know you are trying out every new flashlight and hoping to never be caught in the dark again!!!


For the train of thought we have been going with here, something happen and you are staying at the house. So far we figured out all kinds of stuff but now the sun is going down and we have to prepare for the night. A night when no lights come on when you flip the switch......................


Hopefully we have a few flashlights around the house. Hopefully we have good batteries for the flashlights. Yet the flashlights are not good for lighting a room up. We can not sit around and play monopoly or cards easily by the beam of a flashlight. We want to be able to push the darkness away if we can. We, people in general, do not enjoy the darkness. We can not see what is around us and most of us fear, even if we do not admit it, what is out there in the night.

 
Doesn't matter how cool you are during the day...... something goes bump in the night, you want more light.

Most of us do not really remember how dark it can be without electricity being brought into our homes. The kind of dark where there is no glow from the router, microwave or digital clock. The kind of dark where there are no streetlights or the reflection of those lights off the clouds. For most of us even if we turn all the lights off in our house, there is still the glow from the neighbor's house or other light sources. Here we are talking about options when it is dark, dark........

 
Candles are a good place to start. Most of us have candles somewhere in the house. Even lighting just one candle will push the dark back enough to allow you to sit around a table or in some cases light a room enough to comfortably see what is around you. Keep in mind being able to light a room is of great comfort to the little ones when something is happening.


Gentleman or Ladies, if your significant other has a "thing" for candles you can use this to your planning advantage! Buy them candles as if you are indulging them but know you are secretly stockpiling for an emergency. Heck even scented candles burning brightly in the dark are better than sitting in the dark!!! Just do not burn to many scented candles at once. Why? Because you never know who they might attract................... hehehehehehe


Before we go any further we have to remind everyone about the dangers of having an open flame inside of the house. Does not matter if it one candle or several hurricane lamps. You have to safely use the sources of light or you can end up burning your home down and adding to your problems! Here are a few basic rules to follow when using open flames inside the home.

NEVER, NEVER PUT THEM NEXT TO A CURTAIN!!! Not even if you pull the curtains back and think you have tied them in place. The heat rising from the flame can travel several feet and still cause things to catch on fire!

NEVER, NEVER PUT THEM WHERE KIDS WILL KNOCK THE FLAME OVER!! If something can be knocked over kids will figure out how to do it. Like moths, kids are drawn toward the flame!

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER LEAVE A FLAME UNATTENDED!! Fire has a mind of it's own, ask any firefighter, if you leave the flame alone it will find a way to burn something! You do not want to wake up to the sound of your fire alarm (you have smoke detectors right?) or to the heat and smoke of a fire out of control! You could find yourself going from a bad day to a horrible situation quickly!


Oil lamps, hurricane lamps or other lamps using liquid or gas are something most people seem to have or are something most of us can afford. Maybe you have something you use for camping? Camping items can quickly be utilized during an emergency and hopefully you have experience using the items. During an emergency you do not want to be trying to put together and fuel up a lamp or something you have never used before! If you do have a lamp try to ensure you have a lamp with a cover of some type. Do not leave an open flame like in the above photo if you do not need to! It is too easy to get burned, plus glass covers or other types of covers magnify the light. You can light more area with less energy.


Containers like these for candles are a great idea!


An easy, inexpensive tool for lighting during a power outage is the Luci Inflatable Lantern. We have talked about these before and for a while now my Better Half has kept one in the kitchen windowsill! I literally got up from the table I am typing at, walked into the kitchen and grabbed the lantern to remind myself of the brand name.

Other options you can think about.


Some folks sell items like this. I bet some of us out there have already figured out how to make their own? Looks like a good weekend project. Maybe I will give it a try myself..... if I can ever clear the To Do List!!!

A lot of people have these small LED lamps in the yard or maybe your apartment building utilizes these. These will work good  if charged during the day and brought in once it starts getting dark. Only issue I have had with items like these. They seem to only hold a charge for a few hours and the ones I have used seem to stop working all together after a few months.


My personal favorite non-emergency emergency lighting system is Christmas lights!!! Over the last few years we have changed out our regular plug in lights for these. Not only have we saved on the electric bill during this time of year, we also have ready made emergency lights! I have found the same issues with these as the garden lighting. some last only a few hours and some stop working all together. Yet we have enough working lights I feel good about being able to festively light up the house if we needed to!

A little prior planning can really help out when the power goes off. You can comfortable sit in your little circle of light and keep the Boogie Man at bay!!! Once you have done this going outside and looking up might be an interesting idea..... You might be surprised how many stars there really are out there without city lights. You might also gain more appreciation for why our ancestors thought more of the sky than we might do now..................

 
As Always,

Be Safe!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rock, Paper, Scissors

I am not sure how this works...... When I talk to people about preparedness the conversation a lot of time drifts towards something like this;

"Can you start a fire with sticks?"
"Yes"
"What is your favorite method?"
"A lighter." Usually this gets a weird look in reply.
"Yeah but if you were doing it with sticks, what is your prefered method?"
"Stick matches."


Some people I talk to are focused on being able to do things the hard way. Having a bow drill can be useful and the only option in some cases. Yet why would you want this method to be the one you are going to count on during a bad day? Carry two lighters and some matches as a back up.

Learning how to start a fire with a bow drill is an outstanding idea! Starting a fire this way is not easy, this takes longer and is harder than what you might think by reading a book or watching a TV show. If you and the family are huddled in a shack, freezing and in desperate need of heat do you want to spend time trying to use friction to start a fire? NO, you reach in your pocket, pull out a lighter and lite a fire!

Think of the childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beats Paper and Paper beats Rock. Lighter beats matches, matches beat bow drill. Take this idea to other items, house beats tent, tent beats emergency shelter, emergency shelter beats jacket and jacket beats being butt naked!


Let's try another example. Quality beats check the box. You can buy ponchos which are basically one use items and check poncho off the list. They are thin and barely keep the water off you. If we buy a decent poncho, one which is well made, has grommets and is brightly colored. We can use the quality poncho for a temporary shelter, signaling and do this multiple times! Multiple use beats one time use.


Using less time and energy beats showing off skills. Need a shelter from the blazing sun? String the poncho up between two bushes, no need to gather building material to make an emergency shelter. Having thrown up a quick shelter, you now have more time to use toward other needs.


Of course you could take the time to gather up material to build a shelter. Then spend more time carving a container out of a gourd, using a piece of flint stone you napped. After which you could take some time to use your bow drill to make fire, then carefully boil the water utilizing hot rocks from the fire.


Prior planning beats roughing it. Maybe you pull out the extra money you had stashed in your Bail Out Bag or Get Home Bag. Walk up to the cheap hotel, secure a room for the night. Utilize the heater in the room to keep your family warm, drink water from the tap, eat junk food out of the machine down the hallway, while making a phone call to someone to come get you guys in the morning. Those pieces of paper beat quality gear and skills in most situations we are likely to find ourselves in.


Having the skill set to take care of yourself in a worst case scenario is good. Having the skill set to take care of yourself and the proper gear to assist you beats the skill set alone. Having the skill set to take care of yourself, the gear to assist you and the resources to better your position beats skills and gear. Do not let yourself get caught up in the romantic idea of surviving by utilizing primitive skills to answer every situation. There is a reason people invented easier ways to do things.........

As Always,

Stay Safe.    
    

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Jack of Some Trades or One Trick Pony?

All of us have something we are good at or something we do for a living. You might be a carpenter, plumber or a nuclear scientist. Something we specialize in, something not everyone else does as well as we do. This is usually how we pay the bills and if we are real lucky this job allows us to make ends met at the end of the month.


For emergency planning your daily job is a good place to start. If you crunch numbers all day odds are you are going to be organized. If you work with your hands, odds are you going to have tools to work with. From this starting point we want to broaden our knowledge base and skill set.Why? During an emergency situation there is going to be a time period you are on your own. Might be anything from a few minutes, hours or days. Although you might be able to send rockets into space, if you do not have some knowledge in other areas odds are it is going to be a very long day when you are faced with some sort of emergency.


Skills go with you everywhere. Sure you can start a fire with two sticks but can you change a tire? Once you have an idea how to do something nothing can take the knowledge away from you. Tools enhance skills and allow you to do things you might not be able to do with your bare hands. Need to build a shelter to get out of the sun? Doing this with tools is easier and saves energy. The trick is you have to know how to use the tools. You can fill your home with tools or a bag you carry with you everyday. Problem is you have to have some idea how to use the tools or they are useless.


Your emergency might be a car wreck, can you get yourself off the freeway? Can you treat yourself if you are injured? Can you help others? Do you know how to use the flares and reflective panels in your trunk? Sounds kind of silly right? Being on the freeway a lot I personally have seen people with no idea how to do any of this! Your emergency might be a simple disabled car where you have to wait twenty minutes for a tow truck. Your emergency might be a natural disaster and you have to wait several days before the authorities get any help to you. In either situation you are responsable for YOU during this time period. What skills you have will make the difference during this time period.



The broader your planning and skill set the better odds you give yourself to deal with situations. first on the list of skills to try to learn... First aid! Being able to perform even the basics of first aid could be the difference between life and death for someone.


Knowing how to use some basic tools, saws, shovels and other hand tools are a vital skill. Some of you might be giggling at this idea...... Some people have no idea how to properly use a shovel let alone a chainsaw if needed. During an emergency is not the time to figure out how to use tools. Why? Because the odds of someone getting injured rises due to the stress and lack of experience.


We all should try something new! Maybe you never cook at home? Maybe you never cook on a BBQ? This is a skill set everyone should have some knowledge in. BBQ'ing means you can properly build a fire, be safe with fire hopefully and cook under "primitive" conditions. If you can BBQ try learning how to do more with an open flame.



Cooking a whole meal using a Dutch Oven is not as easy as one might think!

Knowing how to communicate is another skill folks should learn. Maybe using a HAM radio is not something you have time to learn. Knowing S.O.S. is the international symbol for distress is something we all should know! Having an understanding of how to communicate with aircraft could come in handy.


These people were able to tell a helicopter where the bad guys were without having a radio!


Maybe you need to learn a few skills involved with counseling others? Not all the skills we could work on are physical.


Maybe you need to learn how to organize events for large groups of people? Being able to organize kids is a whole skill set in it's self!!! Something which can come in handy during a situation!


Maybe you need to learn to use a new set of tools to protect your loved ones?


Maybe you need to learn to be more aware of the news and events in your area? Gathering intelligence and being able to use the information is a vital skill to everyone.


Maybe you need to learn more about the law? Understanding what you can legally do during situations is also vitally important knowledge we all need to better understand.

All of us have a skill base, something we can start from. From this skill we should work to broaden our personal base of knowledge or skill sets. Not just for emergencies but for life in general! Sit down, grab a piece of paper and make a list of what you are good at or have knowledge in. Next, write down what you have no idea how to do. The list of things you should know how to do needs to include;

First aid
Utilizing hand tools
How to BBQ
How to change a tire
Self defense
How to build a rudimentary shelter

The list can go on and on. There is really no limit to the things we can learn or new things we can try our hand at. In the end having a little knowledge of a broad range of subjects will serve you better than being a specialist in just one subject. Knowledge gives you the ability to come up with different answers to problems and allows you to be more flexible in your response to situations. Adaptability is a great ability to have and a broad base of knowledge gives you this. Besides learning new skills is kind of fun!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bugging Out - Ounces Equal Pounds, Pounds Equal PAIN!

Ounces = Pounds = PAIN!
This is a saying some of us might have heard before. Anyone who has spent some time living out of a backpack will know the truth behind this. Add in a long walk, couple of hills and the sun following you, you might even take this to the level of misery.


Before we move further along let's clarify the situation we are discussing here. We are not planning for "The End Of The World As We Know It" instead we are planning on having to leave our home to a place not affected by the situation.This means we do not have to pack the start of a new civilization on our backs!! The reason to leave can be anything from natural to man made. We just need to get out of the situation we are presently in.

Weight can be a surprising thing in the way it quickly will add up on you. Small items add up and everyday items are shockingly heavy if you have to move them any great distance. A good example of this is water. Something most of us use and carry around everyday without giving it much thought.


For this post let's say you and the immediate family need to change your position or "Bug Out". You want to take water of course, you give everyone four, one liter bottles to take with them for personal use. These they drop into their packs. Of course your trip might take two days and the daily recommended amount of water per person is one gallon........ you do some quick math...... 3.7 and some change makes one gallon, four liters of water per person covers one day with a little extra. Now you pass out another four liters of water, everyone is set for two days of travel and you are a genius!!

Of course you just added 16 pounds of weight to what your five year old is expected to carry. Each gallon of water weighs 8 pounds....... 4 one liter bottles of water weigh 8 pounds. Add into the pack clothing, food, shelter and everything else you want to take with you and the pounds sneak up quickly.

You might be able to haul this pack around....... me, not so much any more and my little ones are not going to be able to. The SMOKING HOT, SUPER INTELLIGENT, ALLURING AND DOWN RIGHT SEXY women who graces me with her presence in my life, well......... she ain't getting any younger, only better and I know she has never tried to live out of a backpack...... So when most of use think of bugging out we should think first of using a vehicle.

"Of course! Duh, we can carry everything we want in the car! You're an idiot and the problem is solved!"


Yeah you might have a solution there...... The weight of everything and everyone you are taking will suddenly go away..... Oh dang it, gravity still works on your car..... For those of us who commute or drive trucks or spend a lot of time on the road odds are we know how much gas it takes to get us where we want to go. Now add in the weight of the family and all their stuff. Your gas milage will decrease the more you are hauling around. Maybe you plan on hauling gas also? The gas has weight...

Alright, we load up the car, we head out and suddenly we find ourselves in gridlock. Everyone else had the same idea. Of course someone ahead of you did not plan correctly and their car is sitting in the middle of traffic out of gas and now you sit, burning the gas in your car at an idle. Maybe the road is blocked? Mother nature has decided you can not use the road or your car simply breaks down? You need to plan for worst case situations and what if's. You decide you will just take the bags you packed for everyone and get to walking!


Of course some of you might look more like this..........


I really would like to know how far he walked with all of that on him? If you have to go and you have another means of carry your stuff utilize it. Maybe the car is not an option? Having someone else carry your gear would be great!


Remember to make horse sounds as you skip along. Of course using a real horse might be a better option.


Take a moment and look how he has the gear spread out between the two horses. You can tell he has spread the weight out. Without even opening the bags you can bet money he has the items situated to allow him to get at things he would need most often first. More on packing later. The point here is to be able to improvise a means of moving you and your gear outside of what you might think of as 'normal'.

 
You gotta go, you pack the car and go! You get stuck, you start reshuffling gear to address the new reality of the situation.


Reality comes a knocking and does not go along with your plans. Otherwise known as Mr. Murphy showing up. You have to change plans and you can only use what is available to you.

Take a moment and look how these real life refugees are dealing with the situation. The man with the child seems to have the best chance of hauling his stuff. The rolling bag will work great on cement or asphalt, of course how well made the bag is will come into play. To his left, the couple with the child.... I hope they are not going far! The baby is going to get heavy and they do not appear to have enough to sustain themselves through the next few hours. To the man with the rolling bags right, notice the man with the yellow shirt and the two women with him? They have already appeared to have had to take a break. Notice the two bags sitting on the ground next to them?


Here is a different group of people who needed to change locations. Notice the repurposing of the bicycles by the man in the middle of the photo? Take a look at the children, they are not carrying anything. Kids get tired quickly, they are little, and tired kids will slow you down.


Take a look at how this man has improvised a way to keep moving. For those of use in the big cities shopping carts are everywhere! Ever notice how much stuff the homeless move around with a cart or two? Let's take a look at a few more photos of people who have been faced real life situations and what they did......




Did you notice they are not carrying a lot? They are not weighed down by 50, 60 or a 100 pounds of gear. Why? Because this is reality! These people are moving by foot where every pound counts. Their possessions are decided by necessity. The ladies in the center photo are dressed differently than the folks in the other photos, the things they are carrying seem to be driven by the environment they are moving through. Sure they might want to be carry tents, stoves and a case of MREs but reality tells them to bring blankets, warm clothes and you move faster carrying the little ones instead of more gear. The people in the bottom picture. Seems the ones old enough to be expected to carry something are carrying a small back pack. Why? Because the reality of the situation dictate they can not carry more on the small boats they are using to change positions.

We could bet some of these people started out with cars, maybe riding a train or a bus. Somewhere along the line they had to change their plans and put one foot in front of the other...........

 
Knowing how to pack a bag is very important. Packing properly makes the weight ride right and cuts down on the pain the pounds bring. Carrying extra clothes in properly packed bag beats the hell out of carrying extra clothes in a plastic bag! Taking a properly packed bag and putting it in a shopping cart on on a horse's back makes it even easier to carry!


This cart can be useful when you start to pack. Gives you an idea of how much weight you should stuff into the pack. But this cart is only useful if you let reality come into the equation. Looking at the chart you see your body weight is somewhere in the middle, let's say 175. Now you have to be honest, is the 175 pounds you carry around everyday useful weight or just more weight you have to carry around? Are you 175 pounds of 20 year old muscle or are you 175 pounds of 50 year old couch potato? Remember we have to tailor our plans to the reality we live in.


You may think you can step out of the house and hike fifty miles to your brother's house geared up like this and maybe you can. Can the wife? Can the grand kids who were visiting you? What happens if you have to cross a border or check point?


In reality this might be the better way to travel. Light, faster and with less pain per pound!

Your planning will be situational drivin. You can do a few things to help you prepare for having to relocate. Pack a bag and take a nature hike. Pack enough for a picnic, gather up the family and walk a mile or two to a place to have a picnic. Let a reality come into your prior planning. If the time comes you have to go, the roads are out and you have to walk is not the time to realize you packed to much and to high expectations of yourself. Remember improvise, adapt and be ready to dump what you do not NEED to make it to your destination!!!!  

As Always,

Stay Safe.