Monday, November 18, 2013

The making of an action hero, PT3

I like being prepared. I was a worry wart first and an eagle scout second…but either way I’ve never liked getting caught by the unexpected. My parents pushed me to be self-sufficient from a young age. As I’ve grown older I’ve noticed a growing blasé public attitude when it comes to emergency readiness. You can attribute most of that to the growing urbanization of America. It’s difficult to conceive of a time when you won’t be able to drive five miles and find a fully stocked retail center with everything from home repair essentials to household staples. Police, Fire, and EMTs are but a phone call away. Katrina, Sandy, and the recent Colorado flooding are the exceptions that prove the rule that it’s unlikely citizen Bob will ever have to deal with a FEMA-worthy emergency. Ok, I can imagine such a time, but many of my peers lack my inborn respect for Mr. Murphy. Of course there’s the other side of the coin. The zombie apocalypse meme has well and truly taken root. Many of the boards I read devote thousands of words to the consideration of preparing for a potential doomsday scenario—one in which society collapses and all meaningful infrastructure is lost. I enjoy disasterbating as much as the next guy—postulating how all my sociopolitical views will be validated when X happens and I will be able to scream “I told you so” as I giggle maniacally. “Muhahahahahaha!” Bunkering down with a few tons of guns, food, and like-minded friends sounds great…in theory. The reality of society completely devolving would be terrible left for dead notwithstanding. Does anyone really want to live in the world left after toilet paper runs out? I’ve done a fair dincum of research regarding preparedness challenges. They break down into four categories from the likely to the improbable. First we’ve got the everyday inconvenience. This covers things like minor accidents, quick fix requirements, headaches, getting stuck in traffic, bottles to be opened, packages to be cut, children to be distracted, objects to be found in darkness…etc. You can handle most of these issues by leaving a simple first aid kit in your car/home/desk, keeping a good multi-tool on hand, stashing a few rolls of duct tape, and leaving a flashlight on your keychain. Since I love gadgets, kits, and bespoke panoply, I usually have the required implement for these sorts of issues. My keychain sports a small Swiss army pocket knife and a steel bottle opener. My day pack/lunch bag carries a Swiss army multi-tool, Dug ritter first aid kit, pen, mag light, and combination corkscrew. I swear the bottle opener gets used every time we go to a friends’ gathering. I’m that guy; the one everyone knows will have a bottle opener—to the point where they don’t even bother asking the hosts for one. My multi-tool sees regular use filing sharp edges on toys, opening/assembling various projects, trimming X, cutting Y, punching holes in Z…etc. Whenever MX gets a boo-boo, Beast has a band aid handy. Whenever there’s not enough light to do something, beast has a flashlight. It honestly surprises me that more people don’t have a variant of this set up as often as mine gets used. Second, there’s the short term emergency. This includes things you can’t patch up in five minutes—your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, a stitch worthy cut requiring immediate attention, your water/power going out for a day, getting lost on a hike, encountering a major accident…etc. Basically this is any situation that isn’t likely to last more than 24-48 hours that you can’t patch over with the normal contents of your pockets. Here your requirements are going to vary by activity and location. Someone hiking in the desert may want an anti venom kit, sunscreen, extra water, and a reflective poncho. Someone walking through the Rocky Mountains will have very different requirements. Generally you’ll want portable nourishment worth at least 2,000 calories, a quantity of water or purification tablets, short term solutions to heat and shelter, first aid, and general purpose survival materials. In addition to previously mentioned items, my day pack carries 50 feet of paracord, a pocket survival pack, duct tape, a disposable lighter, a miler survival blanket, water purification tablets, and a large insolated steel water bottle. That pack goes with me most places. When I’m going to work the main compartment carries my lunch. When I’m going out gaming it carries my dice. When I’m out hiking it carries a snack and sundry essentials. It’s not what I’d call glamorous, but no matter where I go I have the means to deal with a small scale emergency. In future I plan to add high strength cable ties, tissues, hand sanitizer, and a tube of super glue. The beast survival pack™ is always evolving. Next we have the major emergency. Natural disasters, quarantine, and civil unrest come under this heading. The big difference between minor and major emergency is duration. You’re not just trying to endure a day or two of hardship; you’ve got to survive a week or more under adverse conditions. Some people will want to shelter in place—bunkering down at a fixed location. Others will have a plan to evacuate, often called “bugging out.” I prefer to have both options available as you never know what kind of adversity you could face. Here you want enough food for 2,000 calories for at least a week, water and water purification, hygiene products, first aid supplies, and communication. The assumption is that you’re going to have to provide for yourself for a while either waiting for life to get back to normal or while making your way to a fallback position. We keep a couple cases of bottled water, a full stock of canned vegetables, canned soup, and various nonperishable foods on hand. One of the goals for 2014is to use some of our tax return to grab a full kit from: We keep a selection of survival tools and literature on hand as well in case our home becomes the fall back position for friends. The fourth and most disastrous option is the end of the world. This is one where society as we know it is destroyed with no chance of reconstruction. Here surviving for a couple weeks won’t be enough. You’ll need a means of growing/hunting food, low grade industry, replacing consumables with sustainable local products, alternate power sources…etc. If this happens, I’m going to find some like minded people, who aren’t afraid of a little work and steak a claim to an area while prepping like crazy for a long-hard-season of chaos. I don’t ever expect to have to face this situation, but if it happens there’s not much I can do to prepare for it right now. I have to prepare for options 1, 2, and 3 before worrying about doomsday. Astute readers will note that I haven’t mentioned self-defense yet. Defending yourself, your loved ones, and your property may or may not be in your plans. I could spend several thousand words on the subject and barely end up covering the basics. Put simply, your requirements are going to vary depending on which emergency you are preparing for. States have different laws on what one can and can’t own/carry for this purpose. Employers limit what employees can take on premises. A person guarding against bear attack has different needs than someone on a college campus. There’s the question of whether or not to use tools to fill multiple rolls, survival knives, hunting rifles…etc. There’s the question of how much one wants to stand out—walking around like Rambo will likely draw the wrong kind of attention. There’s the question of what you are qualified and willing to use if defense is required. This is one of those areas where careful thought should be applied. Movies, video games, and books teach us that the answer is to have as much iron-mongery on hand as possible. In reality, guns are only a part of a larger preparedness kit—one that may or may not be appropriate for everyone. Weight today=282.6 pounds. Breakfast=A health shake and a cup of coffee. Work Meal=a pepper turkey wrap, an apple, and a bag of trail mix. Dinner=Leftover chicken potpie stew, biscuits, and banana bread.

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