Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pack a Bug Out Bag for disasters.

Whether you call it preparing for the year 2012 or getting ready for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or simply a 72 hour Personal Emergency Relocation Kit (PERK); having a small set of tools and gear packed and ready to go on a moments notice helps prepare you for escaping from a disaster. Let's just call it a Bug-out bag for now.

Most recommended Bug-out bags consist of a backpacks worth of supplies and equipment. Fine if you drive to work and can leave your Bug-out bag in your nearby car, but what if your job requires you to leave the vicinity of the employee parking lot? Or car pool? Or commute via train or bus? Obviously we all can't have a backpack with is at all times. Here's a solution to that problem.

A Bug-out bag is a portable kit containing items you would require to survive for seventy two hours after a disaster. The more gear you carry the bigger and heaver your Bug-out bag will have to be.

The best Bug-out bag (like the best First Aid Kit and the best Survival Kit) is the one you have WITH you when you NEED it. The smaller/lighter the kit is the more likely you'll have it handy if the time ever comes.

Having all the tools and gear you might possibility need to keep you going for 72 hours would require carrying a large backpack everywhere you go so might want to use the Matryoshka doll (AKA Russian nested doll) stratagem and have successively larger kits in place. That way you always have at least one kit with you. Each of the smaller kits could help you get to the next larger kit or, if necessary, serve as a bare bones Bug-out bag if events conspire to keep you from the next larger kit.

Your personal Every Day Carry (EDC) kit is just that; things you carry with you every day. Don't kid yourself that you're going to start lugging around a big bag of stuff. Your resolve will wane just like all those New Years resolutions you've made in the past.

You can't have everything physically with you at all times, but you can have everything packed and ready to go and nearby. The contents of your personal belt/purse survival kit will hopefully help you make it to your vehicle survival kit which then would aid in get home to your big kit.

With the Matryoshka doll method each successively larger kit contains backups of essential items from the smaller kit plus larger/heavier items. One way to do this would be with a belt or purse kit, then a car kit and finally a home kit.

You don't need to buy all this gear today, but you should start building your kits (at least earmarking items you already have for one or another of the kits) soon.

EDC Kits

My own EDC/Survival Kit starts with the genuine Swiss Army knife
that's always on my belt when I leave the house. That's "Wenger S.A." or "Victorinox A.G." brand Swiss Army knife. Period. Accept no substitutes.

Most all red handled copies of the Swiss Army knife are made in China or Pakistan, yes, even the ones with the little white crosses on them. Get the real Swiss Army knife, the fakes are made of cheap metal and will fail when you need them the most.

If you want to carry a few more tools carry a genuine Leatherman Multi-tool. Again, get the real thing or don't bother.

I cannot stress enough the desirability of getting a REAL Swiss Army Knife or a REAL Leatherman Multi-tool. You're buying a survival tool here, not making a fashion statement. In a survival situation it HAS to work.

Other items you might want to add to your EDC personal kit could be an extra $20, $50 stuck in the back of your wallet earmarked for emergency use only. Cash could come in handy if credit card systems are down when you desperately need something. A length of 550 cord (again try to get the real military stuff not come cheap knockoff) could be used to bundle a makeshift kit together if all other options are closed.

Obviously if you normally carry a Messenger bag or purse of similar size you can add more items like waterproof matches or a small lensatic compass to the 550 cord in your personal survival kit.

Vehicle Kit

The next step up in your Matryoshka doll system would probably be a small to medium sized backpack stowed in your vehicle. Since you won't be lugging it around all the time you can put some heaver and bulkier items in here. A crank, solar or battery powered portable radio, first aid kit etc. This would be a good place for a compass (or backup). Even a cheap toy compass will do if it reliably points north.

You should seriously consider having a spare (or larger) genuine Swiss Army knife and/or Leatherman in your vehicle kit.

Buy water in pint bottles which will be easier to distribute about your person than a one gallon jug if you ever have to walk out without your car. Stow the bottles (upright) in the vehicle.

You may want some canned food. Try to buy foods that don’t need to be cooked and in pop top cans like Spam, Vienna sausage and Sardines or Kipper snacks. Store them, right side up, in zip-locked plastic bags so there won't be a mess if one of the cans leaks.

Also include a light jacket in summer and a heavy one in winter. You can change out the water bottles and food at the same time you exchange the jackets, twice each year.

For 72 hours some of y'all up north would need a serious sleeping bag too. Sleeping bags are preferred to blankets since they preserve more warmth than an equal weight/volume of blankets.

As to cooking gear, I'd stick with a Sierra cup. A real Sierra cup's cool rim lets you drink directly from the cup even after boiling water or heating soup in it over an open flame. You'll want to stuff the cup full of paper match books in sealed plastic baggies to get that fire started unless, you're practiced in the art of fire starting via rubbing sticks together.

Sierra cups can be used for cooking, boiling/ purifying water, or simply for drinking from. In a pinch your Sierra cup can be used to dig in snow or soft dirt. Again buy the real thing. The cheap Chinese copies only look similar and will burn your lips if used like a real sierra cup.

Spare clothes and walking/hiking shoes should be in the vehicle Bug-out bag too. But not everything necessarily needs to be in the Bug-out bag. I know of one person who travels a lot who keeps a one tenth ounce gold coin stashed somewhere in his car in case he needs gas to get home (he tries to keep his gas tank at least half full at all times) and the station attendant can't or won't take credit cards or paper money.

Home Kit

Your largest Bug-out bag will probably reside in your home. You'll want backups of all the essential gear from the other two Bug-out bags to include a compass which I would consider essential if you're forced to travel off road, particularly at night or in fog.

It needn't be a liquid filled military lensatic compass delineated in mils. You ain't gunn'a be building roads or laying in artillery. A small simple Silva compass is relatively cheap and will help you navigate over the river and through the woods to grandma's house.

All the stuff you were thinking of putting in the other two kits, but decided not to for one reason or another can go here. Also, a note pinned to this bag can remind you to gather other items (like medicines that don't do well when stored in hot cars for long periods) that you normally need for everyday use.

The airport stores sell an internal frame backpack that doubles as a wheeled suitcase for those who don't want to look like Rambo with a camouflage assault pack. They come in black, gray & tan which helps with the visibility issues associated with brightly colored backpacks.

Good carriers for your GO Bags are (building up from personal through vehicle to home) a sheathed Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool, Purse, Messenger bag or Fanny Pack for each family member; a Medium backpack in each vehicle; and a Large internal frame backpack at home.

Resist the temptation to cram too much nonessential stuff into your bags; someday you may have to actually carry them. Keep a list of hard to replace papers (passports, deeds, birth/marriage certificates) so you can take them with you if you expect your home to be destroyed.

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How to Survive TEOTWAWKI

TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) will mean the end of police, fire and emergency medical attention as the government ceases to exist. To survive you'll need water, food and shelter.

Pay attention to the news. The local and national broadcasters will carry news stories that may help you recognize TEOTWAWKI if it ever comes.

Buy extra of the foods you normally eat so that you'll have a few days supply if something happens to the normal food delivery chain.

WATER about one (1) gallon per person per day. That's just for cooking and drinking; not washing or flushing.

FOOD in emergencies, if you think there's a danger of loss of electricity or that you may be forced to leave your home eat all the frozen and refrigerated food first.

SHELTER can be your home, your car or your clothes. In any case it must be enough to keep you warm and dry.

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How to Prepare for TEOTWAWKI

TEOTWAWKI what's TEOTWAWKI? For those who don't know TEOTWAWKI is an acronym for "The End Of The World As We Know It."

TEOTWAWKI refers to a total breakdown of government, financial systems and society. Think the Mad Max movies or, more realistically, the book/movie "No Blade of Grass" to get an idea of what the term means.

If you Google TEOTWAWKI and do a bit of research you'll find TEOTWAWKI adherents generally break down into two groups: gun "nuts" and sustainable food storage/growing supporters.

The food adherents point out, correctly, that you can't eat guns.

The gun "nuts" point out, correctly, that a guy with a gun can get pretty much anything he wants from a guy without one.

(This is not an idle argument. I'd once just met a man who, when the subject of Y2K came up, opined that he wasn't storing any food because he had a gun. This man was a sergeant on the local police force.)

Realistically both groups are correct. A rational person who believes TEOTWAWKI is coming will want stored food and a way to protect themselves from those who have weapons but no food.

The term TEOTWAWKI became popular during the run up to the Y2K (Year 2000) nonevent in 2000 but its roots go back before that.

If you feel yourself becoming enmeshed in a desire to prepare for TEOTWAWKI keep in mind that beyond a certain reasonable point preparation for TEOTWAWKI hinders or even prevents preparation for other, more likely, events.

Yes, in the year 2009, a recession or depression seems likely in our future, but the actions that make you more prepared for the MOST LIKELY scenario of 2010 or 2012 is to pay off debts and buy canned food that you normally eat by the case when it's on sale.

Some extra cash on hand and some canned food will see you through smaller events like blizzards, hurricanes, tornados and the aftermath of earthquakes.

Of course if TEOTWAWKI really comes you can run down to Costco or Sam's Club and buy cases of everything with your paid up credit card. If it turns out that Orson Welles' grandson was having a bit of fun at your expense, well, Costco is famous for its return policy.

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The Best Seeds for Your Survival Garden

You'll need: Sunlit space to grow your plants. Heirloom seeds that will grow in your area. Some basic gardening tools

Whether you're preparing for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or a Depression having your own low or no cost food supply will help you get through hard times. In a Recession a properly run garden will help keep your food bill down. You don't need expensive chemical fertilizers or non-hybrid seeds, just a few simple tools and maybe a compost pile to go with some heirloom seeds.

Heirloom seeds are important because with Heirloom seeds you can save seeds from one year to plant the next year. Non-heirloom or Hybrid seeds often don't breed true from one season to the next giving you no or low crop yields from plants grown from their seeds.

Before buying your seeds you'll want to determine what seeds grow best in your area. You'll also want to locate low cost sources for Heirloom seeds. You should concentrate on seeds for plants that grow foods that you normally eat.

Learn which crops grow best in your area. Soil conditions can be corrected, but weather patterns and the area's growing season may favor some varieties of plants over others in your locale. Local gardening clubs know about the growing season and will likely have heirloom seed enthusiasts who can help you pick your future crop and may even share some seeds. A few knowledgeable gardening friends can jumpstart your crop growing efforts.

Learn the growing season in your area. Your growing season can be extended if you sprout early spring seedlings indoors next to a window (You can use a 12 or 18 cup foam egg carton on the windowsill. Cut the top off. Poke a tiny hole in the bottom of each egg cup for drainage. Toss in some soil & seeds. Water sparingly. Line the inside of the carton top with a sheet of plastic or aluminum foil and place the carton top upside down under the carton bottom to catch the water draining through the tiny holes in the cups.) or in a greenhouse you can make from clear plastic and a wood of metal frame. Your local Agricultural Extension Agent (look them up in the phone book or check with your state college) can give you detailed information about growing seasons and the best plants to plant in the area. They may also be able to direct you to classes being offered at no or low cost.

Stock up on the heirloom seeds that your research has shown will thrive in your area. Plant a small garden to get some practice and experience gardening and also to provide a source of heirloom seeds for you and your friends next year.

Tips Remember plants take time to grow, plan and plant ahead. Sprouting seeds indoors can extend your growing season. Start with a small garden of foods you like the most. As your confidence and competence grow you can expand your garden as needed. A Compost pile will help you grow bigger crops.

Warning There are some companies on the Internet selling heirloom seed packages for $99 to $165 which are purportedly packaged for long term storage. There is no guarantee that those seeds are best for your local growing area.

If you plan to plant soon such seed packages may not be worth the money to you. On The Other Hand If you plan to keep the seeds in the freezer "just in case" they offer a one stop shopping point for you, but be sure the seeds being offered are for plants you like to eat.

You'll need to fend off bugs while your crops are growing. Birds can be harmful to your plants; they'll eat sprouts in the spring and ruin your produce in the fall when fruit ripens.

Saving seeds

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Defining Terms: TEOTWAWKI and WTSHTF

Perhaps it would be helpful if we were to start off by defining our terms. This is what I mean when I use the acronyms TEOTWAWKI and WTSHTF.

TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)
• Governments collapse: there is no help coming.

WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan)
• Disaster which disables only local government and/or infrastructure i.e. help is on the way.
• National or international event (depression, pandemic, economic collapse à la Argentina in 2001) which cripples governments but does not destroy them i.e. help is slow & inadequate, but on the way.

I envision two likely TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) scenarios:

Slow onset TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) i.e. there's warning.
• An asteroid is detected weeks (days, hours) before it strikes Earth.
• A regional Thermonuclear War breaks out and spreads à la WWI.

Rapid onset TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) i.e. there's NO warning.
• An undetected asteroid strikes the Earth.
• Global Thermonuclear War breaks out à la December 7th, 1941.

I envision two likely WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) scenarios:

Slow onset WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) i.e. there's warning.
• A hurricane is headed for the coast.
• Our inept, greedy, self-serving politicians manage to devalue the dollar faster than expected.

Rapid onset WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) i.e. there's NO warning.
• An earthquake (à la 1994 Northridge earthquake)
• Terrorists set off a dirty bomb.

While it is true that an earthquake in LA would have ramifications as far away as NYC (mainly Wall St.) for most of the country it would be something to watch on FOXNews rather than something requiring the tearing of sheets into bandages.

If you are in Enid Oklahoma it really doesn't physically affect you all that much if NYC is a smoking hole in the ground and vica versa. However there will be consequences as government adjusts to the new reality caused by the smoking hole and the new reality that caused that smoking hole.

To me that's the main difference between WTSHTF and TEOTWAWKI; with WTSHTF law enforcement, utilities and the social order have been interrupted, but will soon be reasserted i.e. help, and return to normalcy, is on the way. With TEOTWAWKI there is no government reaction because there is no longer a functioning government to react. help is NOT on the way.

When seconds mean life or death the police are only minutes away.-- John Connor

When seconds mean life or death you are the police.
-- Desert Dave

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