Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness’ Category

EDC or Everyday Carry

January 25, 2013

EDC or Everyday Carry keeps on gaining more publicity. There are blogs that show many real life EDC kits (for example ), there are books discussing EDC items and concepts in detail (for example ), in fact there is so much interest in the topic that a simple ‘bing’ search for ‘every day carry’ produced 194,000,000 results. With so much attention to the subject, I want to share my own thoughts on the topic and take the number of ‘bing’ search results to 194,000,001.

 

From what I see, folks tend to prepare better for less likely, but high impact scenarios. However, being ready for common everyday situation is not being discussed much and potentially not being done.

 

To fill the void, here is what I carry on myself every day and how often I get to use it:

  • wallet contents
    • NRA member card – don’t use it, but I am proud of carrying one
    • Blood donor card – use it about 3 times a year when donating blood. It also has my blood type on it, which might come in handy in case of a serious emergency.
    • drivers license, auto registration card, and insurance card. I am required by my state to have those on me when driving. I also use drivers license at least once a month for identification purposes at airports, hotels, etc.
    • credit cards – use them few times a week
    • medical insurance card – use it few times a year when visiting medical offices
    • EDC kit:
      • 40 in cash. Not all places/people take credit cards and cash comes in handy few times a month
      • 1 in blade knife. Tiny folder from Gerber. I used it to sharpen a pencils for my kids the other day. Wish I had it when I needed to cleanly cut a banana to evenly split it between my kids when each REALLY wanted PRECISELY an even half.
      • swiss tool with Phillips screwdriver, blade, bottle opener. I use it couple times a month to open coke bottles, beer bottles, change batteries in toys.
      • small alcohol wipe in sealed packet and 2 small adhesive bandages. I use it every 1-2 months to treat cuts and scrapes that kids (and occasionally adults) acquire.
      • aspirin pills. I have family history of heart attacks and had one myself, when I was rather young. These pills might come in handy one day.
      • ibuprofen pills. work well for treating headaches, muscle pains, etc. I get to use these every 1-2 months.
      • tiny sewing kit with few strands and a needle. Did not need to use it yet, but can come in handy if a button on my shirt comes off before an important meeting
      • tiny pen
      • two blank credit cards to write on
      • laminated list of most important phone numbers (this came in handy when I left my phone at home and another time when the battery died and I had no access to any type of a charger)
  • Phone with useful applications (also contains less useful, but fun apps 🙂
    • flashlight app
    • first aid app with quick access to step by step emergency response instructions. It also has detailed tutorials to get ready ahead of time.
    • alarm clock
    • kindle app to read books on EDC 🙂
  • watch to know what time it is. I dislike using my phone to check time, since it might not be appropriate during certain meetings, situations, etc. I am also not going to use my phone to check time when fixing a lawnmower, in the water, etc. Watch battery (if it has one) will last much longer than my phones. How many times did your phone die on you because of a discharged battery?
    • formal watch for work in office environment or ‘a night on the town’. I do prefer and currently wear a solar watch with stainless steel case, sapphire glass, and leather band. However, for many years I wore various inexpensive formal looking watches with cases made out of mystery material, plastic glass, whatever band. Those were not as stylish, did not last as long, some even lost a few seconds a day, but overall worked just as well.
    • sports type watch that can take a beating
    • Side note: What I am seeing is that for most of us the mechanism inside the watch and even materials used are not as important as the watch design and build quality. For close to 10 years I wore a $10 Bijoux Terner I bought on a cruise ship. I was in the water with it, banged it against hard surfaces, and even let toddlers play with it. Seems that ALL modern watch mechanisms are all ‘good enough’ to keep ‘accurate enough’ time. What worked well in this particular watch is that it was designed to protect the plastic window with raised rubber ‘bumpers’ . While the bracelet got scratched, lettering on the case faded, etc. the cheap mechanism inside and the plastic window stayed intact, keeping the watch usable.

Depending on the situation (time of day or night, means of transportation, destination, surroundings, laws, who is accompanying me, etc) my carry kit might be augmented. However, out of my augmented kit, I only had to use a AA 4Sevens flashlight on a few occasions. Never did I have to use my 3″ knife, my expanded medical kit, or anything else that I might add. Let me reiterate, I am not advocating not carrying those additional items. However, I do strongly recommend to ensure that you compare my list to what you carry and how often you use it. A small adhesive bandage likely to be more handy than your Glock 17, when your kid cuts his forehead on a play ground.

 

Severe trauma kits

January 25, 2013

After viewing video by Garrett Machine from Paladin Press(very well spent $25), I decided to assemble severe trauma kits for home, range, and family vehicles. Below is what is in each of my kits. I encourage you to watch the mentioned video to learn how to use it as well as this YouTube video on use of tourniquets:

Price was important to me. I needed to assemble 4 kits within a budget of $100 and looked for products that would offer an excellent balance of price and performance. Having 4 kits in different places and always close by with B rated products is better that having one kit with A+ rated in only one location that could be too far. In my opinion I did not compromise on the safety.

TK4 tourniquet. It is very small and easy to apply. TK4 performed very well in Coast Guard tests in 2007. It is compatible to popular and much more expensive C.A.T. IMHO it is easier to apply and more convenient due to size than C.A.T. Anecdotal evidence suggests that TK4 might not be as good when applied to upper leg than C.A.T., but I did not find any strong studies to prove that. Buying 4 C.A.T. tourniquets also did not fit into my budget (I found TK4 on ebay at about $2 apiece shipped vs at least $25 for C.A.T.). Not having any latex allergies in my family sealed the deal (TK4 has latex).

Petrolatum patch with duct tape on 3 sides. I chose it over asherman type valve patch due to price and the fact that everywhere I looked suggested that it performs just as well. One downside is that it can be marginally slower and more cumbersome to apply. However getting asherman valve patch would put me over the budget in no time.

Bloodclot Sport – 25g. There is only one alternative product that I was able to find and it is more expensive. 25g packet is not big, but 50g was simply too expensive for my budget.

Israeli bandage. I purchased ones that had “expired” and saved a bundle. I do not believe that a double vacuum sealed bandage can expire within a few years. I do not think it is treated with any type of a chemical and so there is no danger of it degrading. The expiration date might be related so specific regulations applied to all medical supplies issued to military staff.

2 in wide self sticking ace bandage. Nothing special here. Just a good brand that was on sale. Happened to be Johnson and Johnson this time.

Permanent marker. I happened to buy Metallic Sharpie, because I used them before and I like them. Any good permanent marker will do. I wrapped a some duct tape around the marker’s barrel to add strength if used in an improvised tourniquet and to have some duct tape on hand if needed.

Pair of gloves (I already had a full box in the house). Not sure I would bother with them in an emergency, unless my hands are covered in dirt or I am treating someone I do not know. If attending myself or a family member, my first priority will be a quick treatment.

5 in overall length medical shears. Whatever was cheap and had over 50 good reviews on Amazon. They are cheap and won’t last, but I only need them to work once. Bigger shears might have been better, but would not fit in my kit case. 5 in long should be sufficient. While G. Machine suggests using a scalpel or a pocket knife to remove clothing, I do not trust myself to have steady hands under stress and not add severe cuts to the existing wounds. As a side note I do recommend carrying a pocket knife whenever legal and feasible.

Kit case. I used poly based zipped pouches. They are clear and let one easily see the kit contents in case one forgets what’s in it under duress. They are splash proof. They were free too, since they originally came full of kid socks from Walmart. One downside is that if left in a hot space or under a direct sun, they can soften up and even melt.

New Jersey friendly SHTF rifle

February 11, 2012

Recently I started thinking about a good SHTF rifle that would be NJ friendly. There were a number of issues to consider:

– NJ laws
– NJ opinions and feelings on “assault” rifles
– rifle price. I wanted to stay in the $500 range (as of 2011)
– rifle reliability
– rifle design especially ergonomics and features
– rifle portability
– rifle parts price and availability especially magazines
– good metal sights
– ability to customize with aftermarker parts, but keeping this completely optional
– rilfe caliber
— availability including special application rounds
— price
— total round weight
— bullet weight
— velocity
— penetration through obsticles
— stopping power
— trajectory
— felt recoil
— reputation based on military applications

Out of these concerns, I started with price and round avilability. This limited me to AR platforms, Saiga (AK platform derivative), SKS, Mosin Nagant, Ruger Mini 14, and Kel-Tec SU-16 variations.

I quickly dismissed AR platform. While there are many aftermarket parts for it and it is somewhat accepted in NJ, the platform is simply not reliable enough when looking at what is available in my price range. “Operator grade” AR rifles are great based on what I hear, but they are too expensive. ARs in the $500 are hard to find and do not have a good reputation.

Saiga is great. However, there are a couple of things that made me decide against it:
— it typically comes with only one magazine and extras are expensive
— while it is NJ legal, is not NJ friendly due to resemblance to the AK platform
— 7.62×39 is a good round, but I started leaning toward 5.56. Saiga comes in 5.56 and there is even an aftermarket part to have Saiga accept AR magazines. However, if I modify Saiga I would need to comply with Federal law and replace more parts, which will become prohibitevely expensive for me. While an attractive option, it is out of my price range.

Mosin Nagant is good. However, one needs to customize it too much to make it attractive to modern rifle platforms. This with combination of bolt action, magazine capacity, round options, etc. made it simply a bad choice within the given budget. However, if my budget was under $100, this would be the one to get.

SKS variations are very good. However, NJ law limits me to the type I can get (non detachable magazine and more). SKS also requires some customization to cut down the overall weight. It is also somewhat not NJ friendly due to some SKS variations being on the banned firearms list. This makes it for an OK choice, but not the best choice.

Ruger Mini 14 Ranch is a good rifle. However, it has a reputation of being compatavely not very precise in the MOA department. Extra magazines are expensive. On top of it, it is also somewhat not NJ friendly due to the presence of some Mini 14 variations on the banned firearms list.

This brings me to the Kel-Tec SU-16 variations. While its long term durability is questioned by some, I have not heard of any actual evidence to that regard. Alpha model has plastic sights, that I just do not want to have. Charlie model is not NJ friendly due to the threaded barrel and ability to fire with a folded stock and it lacks magazine storage in its stock. Charlie Alpha is very good, but has the threaded barrel. Delta’s design does not work for my purposes. This leaves me with the Bravo model. Besides the attractive phonetic, it is as much NJ friendly as a semi-automatic rifle can be and has all of the SU-16 platform features that I find very desirable in a SHTF rile:
– rifle price. One can be found for around $500
– rifle reliability is good based on the anecdotal evidence found on the internet (if it is on the Internet, one HAS to trust it 🙂
– rifle design, especially ergonomics and features. I saw many comments on how ergonomic it is. Ability to accept AR magazines, dissasembly without any tools, and magazine storage in the stock are all big plusses for me.
– rifle portability. SU-16 platform is extremely light and can be folded in half for transport. Overall length is under 36in.
– rifle parts price and availability especially magazines. Everything is available from Kel-Tec site at very reasonable prices. Additionally AR magazines can be used.
– good metal sights. I really like sites in the CA model, but since it is out, the aluminum sights on the B model are acceptable.
– ability to customize with aftermarker parts, but keeping this completely optional. Some interesting and not too expensive options are available directly from Kel-Tec.
– rilfe caliber. While there is now much debate about about 5.56 Nato round, I think that it is the best overall round based on my criteria.

5/17/2011

Update 06/2011
After all I got an SKS. I bet on an auction, thinking there is no way it’ll go for what I bet, but it did. It’s Chinese made carbine in a nice, practically new condition. I still think that SU-16 platform would be a better choice if I had more money. However, SKS cost me less than a third of what I would have to pay for SU-16.

Why do I prefer to say Emergency and Disaster Survival Kit (EDSK) instead of Bug Out Bag (BOB).

May 27, 2010

First, let me state that I see Emergency as a small scale harmful event while disaster is a large scale harmful event. For example, an emergency might be a broken arm. A disaster might be a hurricane with an impact of hurricane Katrina. Thus, an emergency survival kit might be smaller than a disaster survival kit in a number of items and will always be included as a part of the latter. Contents of each should stored next to each other, but in separate containers, so that emergency kit can be utilized quickly if needed.

Now, why do I prefer EDSK to BOB? Well, while BOB is a catchy name, it implies what I believe is a wrong mental approach to handling a hazard cituation. “Bug out” means quick exit, retreat, evacuation from the epicenter of the hazard. While this is almost always a good idea, I think that one should concentrate on SURVIVAL first and use “bugging out” as just one of the possible techniques for surviving the hazard. For example, if there is an immenent nuclear fallout, do you always “bug out” or do you utilize another survival technique such as hiding in a basement depending on available transportation, weather conditions, your family physical condition, etc? This is where your mental approach will matter. “Bugging out” is a tactic in a battle, survival is a strategy in a war.

Additionally, “bug out” always aims to deal with a large scale disaster. But what if a family member simply broke a finger? It is still a harzard, but will you have means of dealing with it until help arrives if you always concentrate on “bugging out” as oppose to surviving emergencies and disasters?

How to decide what to put in a first aid kit and your overall disaster survival kit

May 27, 2010

On one hand I prefer step by step instructions on what to put in your Emergency and Disaster Survival Kit (EDSK aka BOB or Bug Out Bag). On the other hand noone can know my specific scenario and so books that give you a general overview of what you might need are useful in that they make you think. I find that a combination of the two types is necessary to have as much of a complete kit as possible. Case in point: I just started assembling a First Aid Kit (FAK) for my family. I used Red Cross FAK list as a starting point since I am not an expert in this area. Then I referred to something I saw in “When all Hell breaks loose” book – “add medicine specific to your family members needs”. This is vague on one hand, but on the other it made me think. What do my family members need outside of the standard set of badages and tylenol? Well, my little kids will need kids motrine and I can often use muscle pain reliever cream such as bengay. We also leave relatively close to nuclear power stations. As a result iodine pills are part of my FAK. Iodine, bengay, kids motrine are not ususally listed in the typical FAK. This is just one example of how you should start with a recommended list of items and then think outside of the guidelines.

Similar concept applies to compiling EDSK (Emergency and Disaster Survial Kit). Refer to commonly available lists and pack a flashlight, batteries, radio, etc. Then look at your specific cituation and add items as needed. Do you have kids? Will they have books or games to entertain them and keep their mind of the hazard while staying in a shelter? What hazard are you preparing for? A wild fire? An earthqauke? A flood? A nuclear emergency? Do you expect to have to evacuate your home or do you expect to stay inside? Does it depend on the type of a hazard? The type of a hazard will depend on your geographica location. For example, area where I live is relatively close to a few nuclear power facilities. We have have occasional floods, snow storms, and sometimes hurricanes. As a result my EDSK is customized toward surviving those potential hazards.

Building a car emergency kit – what you truly need on tight budget

May 27, 2010

When I started putting together an emergency kit for a car, I decided not to go with a pre-assembled kit. I, as probably you do too, already had many components on hand and did not want to buy an expensive kit with many items that I already had. Additionally, I was suspect of the quality and completeness of many (not all) of the kits being sold. For example, I was not exactly satisfied with the cheap plastic flashlights included and especially the supplied batteries (more important notes on batteries below). I also saw most of the kits missing an important piece – a warm blanket. Additionally, I wanted to have items that would be convenient to have during non-emergency situations as well.

I started with a container for the kit. My requirements were simple: I wanted a sturdy container, small enough not to take all of my trunk space and large enough to fit basic necessities described below. While I had a few old backpacks that I could use, I decided to go with a large (27-28lbs) plastic cat litter container. If you have a cat you probably have seen or bought those from WalMart, Costco, etc. They are made by ScoopAway, TidyCats, Fresh Step, etc. If you don’t have a cat, get this container from someone who does. It is very sturdy, light weight, water resistant, has a handle, and a tight lid (note on the lid – make sure you can open it easily. If it is too tight, either have one of the corners open or use a bag with a zipper so that you can access items quickly in an emergency). If you go with a backpack or a wooden box of some sort, I would advise to line it with a thick trash bag to make it water resistant and keep some of the moisture out.

I then proceeded to think about what items I need to put in the kit. I looked at the contents of commercial kits and kits assembled by laymen and used the information to come up with a list that provides me with a good compromise between available space, money I can spend, and emergency response adequacy. Your list is likely to be slightly or very different since we all live in different weather areas and drive different distances through differently populated areas. With that said, here are the items in my kit, where I bought them, and how much I paid for them.

Large thick blanket (80% wool, 20% synthetic fibers). $8 at Harbor Freight. It takes almost half of the available space in the bucket, but keeping warm, if stranded in the car during winter, is important for where I live.

6 ft thin synthetic rope. $1 at HarboFreight. It can be used as part of a splint, as a makeshift shoe lace, or just for tying loose items together. It takes very little space.

Duct tape. $2 at Harbor Freight. Uses for duct tape are numerous: from fixing ripped umbrellas, to keeping a loose tail light in place, to making a water bucket.

Work gloves. $1 on sale at Harbor Freight (under $2 in a local dollar store). You might need to handle sharp, heavy objects in an emergency or to change a tire. Work gloves are good for that. $1 gloves are not the most comfortable, but they are good enough to work in an emergency.

First Aid Kit – $13 at Harbor Freight. First Aid kit with bandages, gauze pads and rolls, splint set, ointments, pain relievers, and a basic first aid guide is one of the most important items in your emergency kit. You can get a very decent one for under $20 if you look around. Make sure that items in the First Aid kit are not expired and rotate those pieces they do have an expiration date (pills, ointments).

Paper pad, pencil, pen. I already had those in the house. Having something to write on and with can be very useful. Pen is convenient, but have a pencil as a backup. Unless you get a specialized pen, your 50 cent Bic might not perform well when its ink freezes in cold weather. Btw, you can also get a water resistant paper, if it is important for you. It is not prohibitevly expensive when purchased on internet. Look here for more information: http://www.riteintherain.com

Ziplock bag to keep small pieces from getting lost in the bucket. Can also be used as a make shift water spray when filled with water and punctured. Already had one in the house.

3 garbage bags. Duct tape cousins, they can be used for a variety of duties – from making a quick rain poncho to storing dirty clothes. Already had those in the house.

2 bottles of water. It is very important to stay hydrated regardless if it is hot or cold outside. I already had bottled water in the house.

4 granola bars. I do not expect to be stranded for days where I live. However, I do not want to be hungry and lightheaded in an emergency either. 4 granola bars should provide enough nutrition for me for a short period of time. I already had those in the house. High calorie bars are a smart choice, but taste them first to make sure you like the taste. Also, ensure to rotate them on a regular basis.

Small pack of unsalted nuts. Same as granola bars.

Flashlight. $5 from eBay This is an important item. Choose with care. I recommend one that: has a single LED (those tend to be of a higher quality than multiple LED lights), has a sturdy aluminum body, uses 2 or 3 AA batteries, and is water resistant i.e. can be used in a rain. 2 AA LED Maglite is a good (albeit overpriced) example of what I am describing. You can find many similar lights on Ebay from sellers based in Asia. It takes a long time for the flashlight to get here (3 – 6 weeks is a norm), but you will pay 3rd or less of what you would have paid for a maglite. I like maglites, but if you are on a budget, there are better values. There is a lot that can be said about flashlights. Visit http://www.candlepowerforums.com to learn more. Lights with sturdy plastic bodies are fine, as long as they are water resistant (Inova lights come to mind). Get one that has a clip or a non round part of a body, so that it does not roll under the car if you temporarily need to to lay it on a flat surface. IMPORTANT: get lithium batteries for your flashlight. Unlike alkaline or rechargeable batteries they will work in very hot and cold weather (you are more likely to have an emergency during cold winter storm, then a nice spring day). They have a shelf life of 10+ years, i.e you do not have to rotate them frequently or worry about leakage. Lithium batteries are somewhat expensive and are only available from Energizer when buying in the USA. From what I understand Energizer currently holds patent in the US for them and so it rips the benefits to the fullest. They are still very worth it (look on eBay to save money, but make sure to check expiration date). Crank based rechargeable flashlight might be fine, depending on what rechargeable batteries are used internally. Here are a couple of interesting reads : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel-cadmium_battery and http://www.stmental.net/~dfoster/llbean_crank_light/. I already had an old AA Inova flashlight (it became a part of my kit) and a few cheap crank flashlights. I decided not to rely on rechargeable flashlights that I had. I had 3 of them for about 4 years and one no longer holds charge, even though I haven’t used it at all! This might be because they require “maintenance”, but there is no place for those in my emergency bag – I prefer “set it and forget it” items whenever possible.

Rain poncho. $5 from ebay. Get one that is at least medium duty and can be reused. Disposable ponchos available at Target for a little over a dollar can work too, but something more sturdy is likely to work better and not rip as easily.

Multi-tool with pliers, knife, screwdrivers. You might need to cut rope, shear clothing to get to a wound, use screwdriver to tighten a screw, etc. Multi-tool is a duct tape’s brother. If you can afford a brand name such as Leatherman or Gerber get them. If not, buy a cheap generic stainless steel tool. Just make sure it is made well, i.e. knife blade is straight and sharp (be careful when checking), pliers are aligned (I saw one where they were not), etc. I have 2 leatherman multi-tools for daily use, but got a generic one for $8 off ebay for the car kit. It will be enough for the scenarios I am likely to encounter. Put a light coat of high quality machine oil on blades, handles, etc. to prevent rust.

Battery operated phone charger for your phone. I got one off ebay for $3 from a seller based in Asia. Shipping time is long, but price can’t be beat. It is a 1AA based charger with many adapters for various phones. Use lithium battery! Re-read section on flashlights for more information. Do not rely on your car battery to work and charge your phone with a car charger. After all, you might be stranded on an empty parking lot during a snow storm with a dead battery and no means of calling a friend or AAA. Remember to test this device with a fully discharged phone before making it a part of your kit.

Reflective vest. $5 off ebay. It is a smart idea to wear high visibility clothing when changing a tire or trying to put something under tires stuck in snow on a side of a busy highway.

A couple of old small (10×10 inches) cotton towels that I had in the house. They are useful to wipe hands, clean side windows of dirt, etc.

Cash. There are numerous cases where cash is still the king. Some places do not accept credit cards and if I urgently need to buy something small I will be out of luck. One of the emergencies might be lost or stolen wallet and no money to pay for highway tolls or get gas. $50 covers that.

I taped a list of contents on the bucket lid, so that I can quickly figure out what I have there when under stress or when a passenger in my car needs to access it.

I the trunk I also have:
Inexpensive, but reliable electrical tire inflation pump
Inexpensive (but not cheap) jumper cables
Old floor mats to gain tire traction, when stuck in snow or shallow mud (you can utilize your existing mats, but I rather use something I don’t mind ripping or getting covered in mud). I used those with success in the past.

Important notes:
– It is essential to test your equipment prior to putting it in the kit, especially if it uses electrical power. You do not want to find out that your tire inflation pump does not work, when you are inflating your spare (spare tires can and do loose air over the years of being in the trunk).
– I did not yet get, but would recommend emergency road flares (often used by police to warn drivers of a disabled car) or a reflective emergency triangle.
– I did not care to get a radio. I can listen to one in my car. If my battery is dead, I can get by without a radio. Where I live it makes a little difference to me to know that more snow will fall on my car if stuck on a side of a road. If you need a radio to make you feel connected to the society and keep you from panicking or if you need to know that a hurricane is coming to your area, do get one by all means. If radio is very important to you, then get one that can use AA lithium batteries (see above for my reasoning). If a radio is not critical to you, but you still want one, a crank radio with less reliable rechargeable batteries inside might be OK if it offers a better value.