A DIY disaster kit. A twelve part series to make your own kit.

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by DKR, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    This section is a bit more chatty. I wrestled with this for some time. I could have simply included the RC FAK and ended it there as liability has become an issue. Everybody, it seems, is looking for that magic lawsuit akin to winning the lottery. I'd appreciate some feedback on this. Again, this is intended to go into my WoC books as an annex is Books 1 thru 3.

    Chapter Five
    First aid and medical

    "Baby, you put me stitches..."
    The DKR Rockers

    Summary -
    As a former licensed EMT and having worked (while in the Air Force) as a small unit military medic, the focus here for you should be on First Aid training.

    I'll outline a basic First Aid Kit (FAK) and let you know why this basic kit is important. I describe an advanced FAK, one that is layered - so that the supplies you do buy are appropriate and may be inexpensive.

    The types of injury you can treat with the FAK are discussed as are the issues related to Over the Counter medicines. While you can build yourself a very nice FAK for less than a commercial offering, training is one area where you are advised to obtain commercial training. I've listed sources for hands on training and give you sources on the 'Web for follow-on and self-training.

    Every first aid kit begins with TRAINING!

    I find one of the better training providers here in Alaska is the American Red Cross - a National organization. They are a good first place to check for your training. I'm providing this listing of classes for your convenience. Current information can always be found at www.redcross.org.

    Online Blended Learning
    The American Red Cross program blends web-based technology with traditional classroom learning. Complete the online tutorial at your pace and the written test online. Then complete your skills session in two hours. all your local office for more information.

    Wilderness First Aid - 2 Year Certification
    This two-day class consists of hands-on activities about how to respond to emergencies when away from the EMS system. Co-developed by the Boy Scouts of America, students will learn a variety of topics including advanced wound care, head and spinal injuries, shock, environmental illnesses and winter survival. Includes free first aid kit. Wilderness First Aid is valid for two (2) years. Check for current fees.

    Adult CPR/AED with First Aid PLUS Child and Infant CPR
    The CPR/ AED component of this class includes conscious and unconscious choking, rescue breathing, and CPR for adults, children, and infants, and AED . CPR/ AED certificate is valid for two (2) years. First Aid includes caring for sudden illnesses, bleeding control, caring for burns, etc. First Aid certificate is valid for two (2) years. Check for current fees

    Adult CPR/AED with First Aid
    The CPR/ AED component of this class includes conscious and unconscious choking, rescue breathing, and CPR/ AED for adults. CPR/ AED certificate is valid for two (2) years. First Aid includes caring for sudden illnesses, bleeding control, caring for burns, etc. First Aid certificate is valid for two (2) years. Check for current fees.

    Standard First Aid
    First Aid includes basic care for sudden illness, bleeding control, care for burns, poisoning, allergic reactions, etc. This is the Minimum training that should be taken by everyone. First Aid certificate is valid for two (2) years. Check for current fees.

    Self-aid and Buddy Care
    Military (USAF) first aid training found on-line. http://capnhq.custhelp.com/ci/fattach/get/399/0/filename/afh36-2218v2.pdf

    The Red Cross recommends that all first aid kits for a family of four include at least the following:
    • First Aid Manual - a must have.
    • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
    • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
    • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
    • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
    • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
    • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
    • 1 blanket (space blanket)
    • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
    • 1 instant cold compress
    • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
    • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
    • Scissors
    • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
    • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
    • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
    • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
    • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
    • 2 triangular bandages
    • Tweezers
    An excellent First Aid manual I recommend to anyone is the A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Dr. Eric A. Weiss. is available at no cost on-line. Use the title as a search term.

    The most current edition of the printed manual is available from Amazon (new ~$20 and used for under $10) or from Adventure Medical Kits directly. I recommend the paper manual be kept with your FAK.

    Alternately, if you have had some training, Army Field Manual FM 8-230 (720 pages, be warned) dated Aug 1984 can be found on line. Note the techniques and data are somewhat dated. Find the manual at:
    http://www.webpal.org/SAFE/aaarecovery/7_medicine/Medicine - Severe/FM 8-230.pdf

    The newer 68W Advanced Field Craft: Combat Medic Skills is 602 pages and found on line (some as a free download) at several sites. The Kindle version is $131, but is formatted to work with your Kindle.

    Okay, that covers the basics. Now what?

    In my experience. many first aid kits seem to have been built with either a limited vision or a lack of foresight regarding their use in a disaster situation. Worse, some kits contain items that if misused or improperly used can further injure a person, permanently cripple, or even kill the ‘patient’. Hence my emphasis on professional training, it is easily as good an investment as any you'll ever make.

    What do I really need in my First Aid Kit?
    I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to receive training from both the military and the EMT community to provide field medical support and to work in military hospital ERs for several years. I was a State licensed and Nationally Registered EMT for many years as well.

    Using this field and clinical experience, I have some ideas on First Aid Kits that I think may be of use to you. I'll make suggestions on how to build a multi-layer kit, offer some specific advice on items not normally found in First Aid Kits and the reasoning behind the suggestions.
    Finally, I've posted an image of a multi-layered kit, just to you can see what I've been going on about.

    DISCLAIMER - I am not a doctor, and I've never played one on television.

    Always seek consultation with a medical professional whenever possible.

    If you have not been trained on certain procedures, do not attempt to perform the procedure. You can harm, permanently injure or worse, cause a lifelong disability.

    This information is for educational purposes and for discussion.

    It will hopefully get you started on your own training program and help you to build a First Aid Kits that will support you, your family or group.

    No first aid kit, no matter how advanced, well stocked or massive is ever going to substitute for training.

    The multilayer approach in building a layered kit is focused on supporting you, your family or small affiliated group in a short term abnormal situation. The kit should provide the means for you to provide escalating support for different types of injury and illness found in a situation with limited or no routine medical care access, such is found in disaster areas.

    Each kit supports or provides items to be used with the next level kit. Modular in nature, this allows for the medical supplies to be carried by multiple members of a group, should displacement occur.

    Kit Limitations

    Some injuries are so grievous that without surgery, drugs, specialized medical equipment and techniques, the odds of patient survival are extremely limited. Likewise, some injuries while non-emergent, require very specialized treatment; for example, a detached retina. Finally, some diseases require special testing in a lab setting to determine the course of treatment. All of these fall well outside of what I and many others would consider 'first aid'.

    You can, however, provide real first aid care for an injured or sick person that will allow them to recover from their injury, with or without advanced medical intervention. You will find this the driving focus here. Items listed are suggestions, feel free to change or add as you see fit to match your level of training.

    Multi-layer - what does that mean?
    It means you have a series of medical resources (First Aid Kits) or modules if you prefer, each with different levels of items and equipment to match possible treatment of what the patient is presenting to you, the care provider. Simply put, the modules are designed to support the treatment of different levels of injury.

    These levels are:
    · Minor injury,
    · Minor trauma, individual with limited bleeding
    · Expansion module for minor trauma kit to deal with significant bleeding
    · Major trauma - as bad as it gets
    · Clinical or ‘sick call’’ type issues

    Minor injury
    Failure to care for even a seemly minor injury can kill you. Really, really. Dead.

    How's that? My Grandmother was very alert to minor problems - she often told me that “The President's son died from an untreated blister” just before dosing me with some noxious concoction. As it turns out, she really had remembered a tragic death in a Presidential family, that of Calvin Coolidge Jr in 1924, from an infected toe blister. You got to love Grandmas...

    Now, in real time - I worked with a youngster in the ER who presented advanced sepsis (blood poisoning). His knee was swollen, with ‘angry’ or bright red lines running up the leg. He was in pain with an elevated temperature. We used a large bore syringe to remove over 90cc of pus and cloudy liquid from the swollen knee before a drain was installed. He was given IV antibiotics. After a hospital stay, he was released and made a full recovery.

    What happened? He fell while playing, scraping his knee. His folks washed the area but did nothing further. Even as the child complained of pain in his knee, no further ‘first aid’ was attempted. On the morning of the second day after injury, he presented a swollen knee. Again, nothing was done until late that night, when his now frightened parents brought him into the ER. A string of bad moves that could have easily killed the child.

    A simple Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) would have been enough to properly treat this child for what began as a minor injury. In a multi-layer system, the IFAK is the first of four layers. The IFAK should have items that will:
    -allow you to thoroughly clean an injury,
    -provide some antibiotic ointment and
    -give you something clean to cover the injury.

    I keep one of several IFAK at hand, work or play. The size factor is focused on something small enough so that you always have it hand - in a pocket, purse, briefcase, or toolbag.

    ISSUE - One per individual, extras for workspace.

    Suggested contents: (you can have whatever you want, these are just suggestions)
    Case - something to hold it all together. The case should be as waterproof as you can manage. Anything from a glasses case, to a Ziplock plastic bag to a small bag or pouch will work just as well.

    Inside are:
    Several adhesive bandages - both strip and ‘dot’
    4 Providone-Iodine prep pads
    2 foil packets of Betadine antibiotic ointment
    2 foil packets of ‘triple antibiotic ointment’ - also sold as Neosporin
    2 individual doses of eye drops in individual ‘tear-off’ dispensers
    1 foil packet of lip balm (Blistex brand)
    1 packet of Aspirin (2 tablets in packet)
    1 2x2 sterile gauze packet
    1 2x3 no-stick gauze packet
    1 steel splinter tweezers
    1 small LED‘squeeze’ light (optional)
    1 book of military waterproof MRE matches (optional)
    1 card with 5 ft of duck tape wound upon the card. - one ‘stripe’ of tape is 1/2 in wide, the other 1.5 in wide. The card itself is an old ‘credit card sized’ plastic card

    The kit also has a ‘manual pencil sharpener’ which looks like a small folding barber razor. Small, it has a two inch ‘razor’ blade that folds into its handle for safety. It's just the thing for scraping off cactus needles and the like. There is room for a flat Fresnel lens to spot splinters. I keep one of these lenses in my wallet to save space.

    The case is secured with a large rubber band, which helps keep the case inside of a pocket and can further be used as ‘tinder’ if a fire is needed.

    A Minor Trauma kit is the next level in the multi-layer approach.
    Minor trauma may be falls, twisted or sprained joints, cuts or minimal depth penetrating injury. This is not adequate for large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries, it should do for the risk posed by your day to day outside activities.

    ISSUE - One per individual, extras for the work area. Works with ‘expansion’ module listed next.

    Why? On summer breaks from college, I worked for a geophysical exploration company. In remote Montana, one of our field crew was struck just below the knee with a chainsaw in a brush cutting operation. The saw cut deep, into the bone. The location of the injury allowed us to both treat and self-evacuate while treating. The crew person required surgery and a hospital stay but thanks to the care given in the field, was able to fully recover with no permanent loss of mobility. The module described here would meet the needs of this type of accident.

    The basis (container) for this is the well known military Individual First Aid Kit, Field (NSN 6545-01-521-8502).

    Still small in size (4-3/4 inches high by 2-3/8 deep by 4-1/2 wide) the kit pouch was designed to accommodate a waterproof plastic insert box which contained the components of the military Individual First Aid Kit. The first pattern (preferred) has snaps to fasten the cover flap. The case can be attached to any belt via two ALICE clips. This makes a good platform to build upon. The nylon cover is larger than the ‘insert’ allowing for additional items to be added. This container is available from multiple surplus sources on line.

    This is for dealing with minor trauma with limited bleeding. Inside the nylon case you can place:
    8 Providone-Iodine prep pads
    2 hand wash packets (commercial - to clean your hands before or after)
    1 aluminized mylar ‘survival blanket’ - this to wrap the patient should shock or cold be an issue
    1 gauze eye pad
    1 set (or more) latex or Nitrile gloves in Ziploc bag, not sterile, but clean
    1 Insert, First aid (plastic)
    The plastic insert box holds:
    3 Dressing, First aid, Field, Individual Troop, 4x7 inches
    (Better but more expensive option - 2 Israeli trauma compression bandages)
    1 Bandage, muslin, compressed - a triangular bandage, or cravat
    2 Band-Aid brand bandage 2x3 in (larger than the 1 x 2 in ones used in simple kits)
    1 Band-Aid bandage, extra large
    6 adhesive bandages - 4 ‘normal’, 2 small
    2 foil packets, triple antibiotic
    2 foil packets, burn get (Lidocaine)
    4 large safety pins - for use with the cravat
    1 packet electrolyte tablets
    1 eye drops in tear-off dispenser

    If you will support an industrial type operation, you may wish to add a pair of tourniquets. Keep in mind, any use of a tourniquet will require you to seek advanced, professional medical care at a hospital or trauma center as soon as possible.

    This expansion module is for the above listed kit. It is for more extensive trauma, with bleeding. This should be adequate for large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries - but not penetrating chest injuries which result in a tension pneumothorax or those resulting in evisceration.

    ISSUE One per two group members involved in industrial or dangerous activity with a high risk of injury minimum - one per person is better.

    For my kit, this module is housed in a soft-sided nylon case 8 x 6 x 3 in deep. It has a strap handle and a clip to hold the case, should that be required. Color is optional, mine happens to be bright red with a First Aid logo on the exterior, but almost any waterproof container will work.

    We had a call to respond to where a person had pushed their hand through a plate glass window. The person had severe and deep lacerations to the hand, with soft tissue avulsion (‘meaty’ parts of one finger removed to the bone). This kit would be adequate to deal with this level of injury.

    This module contains:
    2 sets of latex or nitrile gloves in Ziploc bag
    1 package of 10 cotton applicators (Q-tips)
    3 5 x 9 sterile combination dressing
    2 Dressings, First Aid, Field 4 x 7 in
    5 3 x 4 in non-adhering sterile gauze pads (Adaptic brand)
    2 tongue depressors/splits
    1 bandage compress, muslin - also called triangular bandage or cravat
    1 non-stick gauze pad
    1 eye patch
    1 Band-Aid - extra large
    1 roll, 2 in self adhering bandage
    1 roll, 2 in bandage gauze with 2 safety pins
    1 tourniquet
    1 set steel tweezers
    1 ‘travel sized’ vial of 200mg Ibuprofen (22 tablets)
    1 vial of spray Neosporin
    3 swabs, tincture of benzoin for use with SteriStrips
    2 packages of ‘SteriStrip’ wound closure strips, butterfly bandages are a substitute
    15 Providone-Iodine prep pads
    30 adhesive bandages (1x 2)
    Plastic hard case insert (3.5 x 4 x 1 in deep)
    5 2 x 3 non-stick gauze pads
    1 3.5 x 5 in moleskin patch
    5 eye drop doses in ‘tear off’ dispensers
    4 large safety pins
    1 #10 sterile scalpel blade
    2 foil packets triple antibiotic ointment
    2 foil packets ‘burn gel’ (lidocaine)
    6 tabs Imodium (OTC)
    2 packets electrolyte tablet (2 tabs per packet)

    Major trauma is the next level module .
    Mine is housed in a surplus M-3 Medic bag, it has supplies for dealing with major trauma, heavy bleeding, crushing injury. At this stage any injury you treat will require professional medical care found at a hospital or trauma center.

    This level of kit is designed to provide pre-hospital treatment of large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries which may result in a tension pneumothorax or those resulting in evisceration.

    These kits are normally built based on the advice of a trauma physician and include items not covered in training at a level below P-EMT.

    As such, I will just list some items to provide an idea of the level of care that might be provided -
    4 sets latex or nitrile gloves
    2 N-95 masks
    1 set eye protection
    1 SAM brand splint
    2 Quick-clot gauze, large
    2 Quick-clot gauze, small
    20 5 x 9 sterile dressings
    20 4 x 4 sterile non-stick pads
    2 hot packs (hand warmers are fine)
    2 cold packs
    2 6 in Ace bandages
    2 4 in Ace bandages
    2 4 in self-adhering bandages
    4 rolls 4 in Kerlex
    2 Israeli Emergency Bandage 6 in with slider
    1 Israeli Abdominal Emergency Bandage - 12"
    1 Silver "H" Compression Bandage (optional as it is specialized)
    1 set of OTC meds (ASA/INN/antacid/Sudafed) 10 packs of tablets in OTC doses
    1 headlamp - LED - stays in kit.

    This is a sample - I strongly suggest you discuss the items for this module with your own medical professional and factor in your level of training, location and risk exposure. I don’t discourage the view that having more ‘advanced’ supplies is a good thing, if for use by medical professionals to treat your group members in case the pros supplies are exhausted.

    I will caution you about those 'advanced' supplies. In some States suturing, for example, is considered surgery, and requires professional licensing to perform. If all goes well, fine. If things go badly, you can expect trouble on many fronts. The Good Samaritan laws I am familiar with do not cover you if you perform advanced medical procedures without the documented training and licensing required by the local authorities. In the unlikely event society collapses, this is most likely not going to be an issue. If this ‘system’ is for disaster support, it will become an issue. You can make that decision for yourself. Do not make it lightly.

    Both so-called M-3 and M17 based “Medic kits” are offered online. The M3 bags are far smaller and easier to carry and work with in the field.
    Prices range from under $30 to over $300.

    You must examine the offered contents closely! The “trauma items” offered by some vendors includes such items as a 100 count package of Q-Tips, 100 adhesive strips (Band-Aids) and so on. These items are quite useful, but are not normally considered in the same class as pressure dressings or tourniquets.

    Other vendors offer “Medic kits” as surplus and may include IV setups, IV solutions and other advanced treatment items. All of these advanced items have “use by” or expiration dates and may have issues with packaging that has not kept the items sterile. Use common sense or ask a professional. The medic bags may be purchased empty and filled as you deem appropriate. This is usually the best option. Consultation with a professional can save you money by not purchasing unnecessary, outdated or overpriced items.

    The clinical treatment module is the final layer.
    Here is where most of the ‘hardware’ resides. For me, it is a two part setup. I use a large tackle box which provides water resistant protected storage and a means to organize the items. The other is a commercial ‘first aid’ bag that folds out presenting many pockets to hold items. These are used to provide follow-on treatment and treat ‘sick call’ type complaints - earaches, foreign object in the eye, colds, hay fever and so on.

    Typical contents are:
    1 box of latex or nitrile gloves
    Surgical soap or Betadine or Hibiclens Soap for cleaning your hands and any wound areas that require cleaning. Check with your medical professional on cleaning tips.
    Eye protection and masks
    5 x 9 sterile pads for wound dressing changes
    Adaptic pads for still draining wounds or burn dressing changes
    Steri-strips for reclosure of lacerations, if needed, when changing dressings
    Multiple swabs, tincture of benzoin. for use with SteriStrips
    Several oz of medical saline solution for wound cleaning, eye wash and so on.
    · -Several 2 oz squeeze bottles of saline are better then one big container.
    Commercial dental kit + several teabags. Ask your dentist what is best for you.
    Stethoscope and sphygmomanometer to monitor blood pressure in long term care, monitor for pulmonary sounds (like rales) and to check for distal pulse sounds.

    Note - while the simple ‘nurse’ type stethoscope is just fine, the slightly more expensive Rappaport (two headed) type, with changeable diaphragms, offers better sensitivity.

    A quality otoscope, for ear examinations, is an important item if your group includes small children. Some are sold with booklets containing color photos of different ear conditions.

    A UV or Cobalt Blue light for in use in conjunction with orange dye (fluorescein)
    to detect foreign bodies in the eye or damage to the surface of the eye.
    Used with saline solution eye drops, it can be used to confirm all debris has been removed from the eye. Ask your medical professional to demonstrate correct use before you use these items.

    I'll suggest adding a set of ‘hobby’ headband magnifying lenses - very handy in most examinations - and allows hand-free use.

    Some kind of notebook or other means of recording treatment. These records can be important in the long run, certainly valuable to medical professionals if you seek care after treatment.

    Activated charcoal and syrup of ipecac are not included in this module. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that ipecac syrup not be stocked at home, the same for the charcoal. Activated charcoal can cause ‘concretions’ in the intestines, an often fatal condition.

    You should closely examine those items your group will carry and consult with a poison control unit to determine risk and treatment if the substance is ingested, now. Examples include water treatment tablets, prescription medicines and so on.

    A separate Over The Counter (OTC) carrier. These may hold:
    24 Aspirin, 325 mg Tablet
    24 Acetaminophen, 325 mg Tablet
    24 Ibuprofen, 200 mg Tablet
    24 Diphenhydramine, 25 mg Capsule
    24 Diamode, 2 mg Tablet
    24 Diotame Tablet
    24 Alamag Tablet
    24 Sudafed Tablet
    3 Cera Lyte 70, 50 g Packet, Lemon
    24 Loperamide tablets (Commercial name - Imodium)
    12 Triple Antibiotic Ointment
    12 Hydrocortisone Cream 1%
    Printout - of all OTC meds, showing reactions, contraindications and safe dose levels
    (Consult a PDR guide if unsure on OTC meds and interactions)

    Checking with a medical professional on your selection of OTC meds is a good idea if you have members with prescription medicines or long term health issues.

    Prescription drugs and antibiotics are best discussed and obtained from your health care professional. In many jurisdictions possession of prescription items without the accompanying script is a felony.

    Do not carry any medicines or pills in unmarked containers. Period.
    Why? Officer Friendly and his trusty canine companion just may not understand all those pills you carefully stored in baggies to save space in your BoB…. Avoid that dirty boot on the neck and those cold steel bracelets - ensure all items are in the original and marked containers. I buy my OTC meds in the foil packets that are fully labeled. I've worked with Officer Friendly, so, you know, a word to the wise.

    I have covered a module based approach for first aid treatment of:
    *Minor injury, individual
    *Minor trauma, individual with limited bleeding
    *Expansion module for minor trauma kit to deal with significant bleeding
    *Major trauma - as bad as it gets
    *Clinical or ‘sick call’’ type issues
    In layers that provide for mutual support, ease of carry and distributed carry - avoiding a ‘all eggs in one basket’ for medical support.

    A milti-layered kit does not need to be expensive or massive - it does need to be tailored to you, your family or group. Check with your local health provider and get training before you need a FAK.

    First aid supplies for your DIY kit should be determined by your level of training.
    Dunerunner and AxesAreBetter like this.
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    :eek: This should be a forum resource... Wow!!
    DKR likes this.
  3. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Six
    Personal and clothing hygiene

    More men were lost in the Civil War to poor sanitation than were ever killed in battle; this is true for the Boer war as well. I'll cover basic field sanitation, describe ways to wash your clothes in a disaster situation and list several ways to bathe while in less than ideal conditions. Being clean isn't about smelling bad, it is a health issue. This chapter assumes you have been forced from your home, and are not at a developed campground or shelter - that is to say, worst case. I'll cover in-home issues as well.

    Field Sanitation Oveview
    Sanitation in the field can be problematic. Water is normally in short supply and unless you are staying at a shelter or developed campground, there are no toilet facilities. If you cook your food, disposal of the wash water (and food scraps) will quickly become an issue as well. The U.S. Army has a manual, FM 21-10 (Or FM 4-25-12) should you wish to look at how the Big Army handles this - unfortunately, almost none of the material is of use for a small family or individual.

    Since we've already covered 'Water' in a prior chapter, we'll move onto some of the more gritty aspects of the subject. Remember - DO NOT DRINK UNTREATED WATER!

    Field Sanitation:
    Personal items and equipment.

    Some of the personal items that you should have in your kit (for each individual) are:
    -Toilet paper and baby wipes - put these in a plastic bag to keep them dry (toilet paper) or from drying out (baby wipes).
    -Lip balm and sun screen. Your skin is an entry point for disease, protect it.
    -Foot powder
    -Insect repellent - bugs will drive you crazy and some carry disease.
    -Hand sanitizing gel - several small bottles are better than one large container.
    -Toothbrush and toothpaste or tooth powder - good dental hygiene is important.
    -Large hand towel or microfiber towel
    -Hand soap - several brands are sold for camping, like Dr. Bonner's.
    *If you live in tick country, a small container of baby oil or Vaseline
    *If you live in a very bug/mosquito prone area, a headnet and square of bug screen are a big plus.
    *If you have the space, a hand-pump spray bottle or fold-up solar shower will come in handy.

    Equipment items:
    You will need at least a trowel or small shovel for individual use. For a family group, you'll find quickly that you need a real full-sized shovel if you will be on your own for more than a couple of days. A modern 'tool, entrenching, folding' should be more than enough for a couple of days.

    *Metal buckets - if you think you will be forced from your home for an extended period, a set of 3 gallon metal buckets are worth their weight in gold. I'll explain why, even if they don't make into our short term DIY disaster kit.

    Bears poop in the woods, what about me?
    Human waste must be deposed of properly as it poses a tremendous health hazard. If you do not have access to a cesspit or outdoor toilet, you will need to dig your own latrine or slit trench for human waste. ALWAYS bury your waste. This helps to keep it out of the local watershed and reduces the spread of disease.

    Why? Simple - During the response to the Haiti earthquake, a single response team from Nepal started a cholera outbreak - from their toilet faculties leaking into the Meye river. In 17 months cholera had killed more than 7,050 Haitians and sickened more than 531,000, or 5 percent of the population. Lightning fast and virulent, it spread to every Haitian state, erupting into the world’s largest cholera epidemic despite a huge international mobilization still dealing with the effects of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

    What should I do if hiking to a new or different location?
    If you are on the move, you can dig a fast 'cat hole' (see image below) to bury your waste on a individual basis. The hole should be about a foot (8 to 13 inches) deep and about a foot across. If you are on grass or sod, cut the sod and lay it back, you'll use it later; set the evacuated dirt to one side. Once you have finished your business, I have seen recommendations to burn your toilet paper before burying the waste. After cleaning your hands, use the evacuated dirt to bury the waste and restore the sod, if at all possible.


    Okay - what about a campsite with no facilities?
    If you are forced to camp in an unimproved area, you will want to dig a slit (saddle) trench for disposal of human waste. The trench should be about 2.5 feet deep and as wide as your shovel. Pile the dirt at one end to cover your waste after each use of the facility.


    (From Field Manual 21-10)

    Is a squirt of hand sanitizer good enough to clean up after a bowel movement?
    Wash your hands carefully after a bowel movement or face the consequences.

    I recommend washing with soap and water, and then use a hand sanitizer to ensure your hands really are clean. Adults need to monitor children closely to ensure they clean themselves well and wash their hands as described. Locate your latrine well away from any water source and your camp.

    What about my camp? What do I need to do there?
    Food scraps and wash water.
    These attract animals and insects. Wet garbage/food scraps may be disposed of in the slit trench if buried immediately. Dig a dry well (French well) and use it to dispose of your wash and rinse wastewater.

    Gather and dispose of all garbage as it is generated, ensuring your disposal methods meet local laws/ordinances in this regard. Garbage is an attractant for animals and can pose a health hazard. If you are forced to bury your trash, dig a deep pit and cover the garbage as it is pitted. Burning of garbage may reduce bulk, but check local ordinances to ensure you remain legal. I'll have a bit more on this in the next section.

    Food storage.
    Store food away from your camp area and secure it from insects. Inspect food closely prior to cooking to ensure it is free from contamination. In the case of your DIY disaster kit, a simple inspection to ensure the food container has not been breached should be enough.

    Okay, I have everything for the camp - what about me?
    Personal hygiene is important, no matter your circumstances. Washing your hands is the best defense against disease, and being clean is a major morale factor.

    Brushing your teeth is not just polite; it can prevent larger medical problems, so pack a toothbrush and toothpaste or toothpowder for each member of your group. Mom was right, brush after every meal.

    Concentrated "Camp soap" can be used for everything but brushing your teeth. Consider putting a bottle or two in your kit. Dish soap will do for hand washing, but remember, over time it can cause issues with your skin. If you don't carry camp soap, several of the smaller hand soap bars, often found in hotels, will work just as well. Shampoo in travel sized containers is a real morale booster - clean hair just helps you to feel better.

    You said something about a shower?
    You can take a 'shower' with very little water. I can assure you from personal experience, even cold water will work to clean your body, but tepid or even warm water makes for a better experience. Children fuss less with warm water. So, how do you take a field shower with little water?

    Having been in short water situations, I first make a small 'basin' in the soil and put a plastic bag in the basin to catch the wash water runoff.

    Add a couple of cups of hopefully warm water to your spray bottle. Strip and stand in the basin, then wet yourself with water from your spray bottle.

    One cup of water (less, actually) will make a standard size washcloth more than dripping wet. Add soap or place bar in cloth work into a lather.

    Wash. That is to say, scrub away. (If you are going to bathe more than one person, put the soapy washcloth in a baggie/plastic bag to keep it both wetted and clean(er).

    Use the remaining water in the spray bottle to rinse.

    As dumb as this may sound, if you've never taken this kind of shower, practice at home first. Tell the children it's a science experiment. Measure how much water you use to wet and rinse yourself. If water is not an issue, then the so-called Solar Showers that hold anywhere from 4 to 5 gallons of water provide a more familiar experience. I keep one for camping and love it for showers.

    The metal buckets, used over a stove or campfire, will heat two to three gallons of water for bathing, dish washing or even laundry.

    Why make a basin to stand in?
    Capturing your wash and rinse water allows you to recycle it for washing your clothing. Yes, I know, ick! Think of it as a pre-wash - to get the worst of the dirt out before you hand wash and rinse the clothing. This kind of rough clothes washing isn't much of an issue with your DIY disaster kit, as we're aiming for no more than 4 days of support.

    The metal buckets I mentioned earlier are just the thing to warm your water, use them as clothes washing tubs and to do your dishes. Obviously, they won't fit inside your DIY kit.

    At Home Sanitation.

    Most people are completely dependent on municipal water systems for their water supply. One item that I recommend to everyone with a bathtub is a bathtub bladder. These bladders will hold 100 gallons of pre-disaster water, presumably safe to drink. (SeeWaterBoB or bathtub bladder on-line).

    Human waste disposal:
    If you are on a septic system, you will likely have no issues, outside of a flooding situation. If you are on a city sewer system, you may have real issues and more quickly than you realize. Many of these systems use lift pumps to transfer sewage and when the power is out, the sewage will quickly back up, sometimes into your living spaces.

    If you don't already have a backflow preventer, you should check to see how your local sewer system is configured, then decide if a back flow preventer is a good investment. I would recommend it in any case.

    If you are on a septic system, use your kitchen and bath wash water or any other gray water to flush your toilet. Don't waste potable water - you need it for drinking!

    If you are unable to use your home sanitation system, you need to decide how you will deal with human waste. Sneaking out at night to dump your waste into a storm drain or runoff ditch will not make your neighbors happy.

    A simple 5 gallon bucket, some trash bags and kitty litter will work, but again, you will need to have some way to dispose of the waste that is...call it ethical.

    My best suggestion is to check with your local authority for what your best and or legal disposal options are in a disaster, before the need arises. Begin with your local Emergency Services Department or Emergency Operations Center. Don't be surprised if they cannot offer any specific plans to restore basic services as it is hard to plan for an event that hasn't yet happened.

    A metal 55 gallon drum equipped with a wire hardware mesh cover to prevent embers from escaping may be your best bet for disposal of trash that will burn. Several holes in the bottom and sides of the drum will aid in the combustion of the trash. Cans may be crushed after burning to save on volume. Again, check with your local authority for trash collection locations in a disaster. Use caution when burning your trash.

    Wash day:
    Washing day need not be too terrible, but it will be work, make no mistake about it. A pair of plastic bins that hold several gallons of water as well as some kind of agitator will get you started. If clean water is in short supply, you will have to decide what will need washing the most.

    Rather than re-invent the wheel, so to speak, I'll direct you to this excellent Brit site

    History - Washday

    Current non-electric cleaning offerings may be found at Lehman's on line.


    Kit items:
    Personal hygiene items listed above.

    Optional - Collapsible buckets or washbasin. Check camping stores for possible sale items.

    I would recommend spending some time on sites labeled about camping at the Burning Man resistible. Trash disposal, waste water disposal and showering are all big items anf the folks have come up with some very clever ways to make this happen in a responsible manner.....
    Dunerunner likes this.
  4. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Seven
    Communication and signaling

    Communication is more than a cell phone. In this segment, I cover communications planning, alternate means of communication and the 'how it works' of commonly available communication equipment. Specifically, MURS, GRMS, CB, FRS and Ham radio are all discussed. I'll discuss crystal radios for fun and battery free listening.

    Why do any planning?
    Years ago, I lived in Las Vegas and at the time (mid to late 80s) the gangs and their seemingly non-stop drug trafficking turf wars were making the area quite dangerous to just go out and about. We had driven down a major road late in the evening, and the tires began to make a crunching noise. I stopped and used my searchlight to see what was making the noise. The road was covered with spent center-fire cartridges.

    I saw mostly 9mm, but with a sprinkling of 7.62x39 brass thrown in for good measure. It seemed odd but at the time, I wrote it off as maybe someone had dropped a bucket of range pickings off the back of their pickup truck. As we drove on, we heard a mass of sirens approaching.

    The next day, I mentioned this odd occurrence to a buddy of mine who worked for the local PD. He asked the place and time and then turned pale. We had driven down the street in the quiet spot between when the shooting stopped and the cops showed up from a 911 call.

    A few minutes earlier and we could have driven into the middle of a firefight.

    I had just purchased a new ICOM 2SAT handheld, a nice ham radio and one with a wide-band receiver. I was able to receive NOAA weather broadcasts and participate in the Air Force MARS system as well.

    My wife was unhappy with the expense of the radio, and I have to say, in retrospect, she had a right to be unhappy. To her, it was just an expensive toy.

    After this 'near death' experience, I quickly found I could monitor the local police dispatch calls on my new radio. One day shortly after that, we were on our way to a local computer store to pick up a part when the scanner reported an armed robbery in progress - in the very store we were going to visit! We were in the parking lot of the strip mall. Quickly pulling up to a big box store, we ran inside, stopping in the paint isle. When folks asked why we were crouching behind the cans of paint, we explained about the armed robbery going on next door.

    Okay - neat story. So why does it matter?
    By having and using the radio and the real time information it could provide, we were saved from walking into an armed robbery in progress. After that, we didn't go anywhere without the scanner. Period. As a bonus, I never take any static on the purchase of new rigs, if they include a scanner function because now my wife sees that radio not as a toy, but a important information gathering tool.

    So what does all this have to do with my planning?
    I had never taken the time to assess my needs for communications and what, if anything, the comm equipment I did have could provide me in the way of information in a disaster. I knew about the NOAA weather radio stations, but hadn't given it much thought past that.

    I see this planning effort as a two part process, how do I gather information of use to me and how do I communicate with the people I need to contact?

    So, it was time to reassess my needs and see what I could live with and without. Here's a look at what communication assets are out there for information gathering, and how those assets can assist you.

    Asset - Public communications.
    I define this as broadcast reception of public / commercial AM/FM stations and NOAA broadcasts. These are a good source of information, but for the most part, rarely provide detailed information in real time.

    For traffic reports, weather and weather alerts, a Sony SRF-M37W Walkman sport radio more than meets this need. Easy on batteries, and headphone only, it is a digital AM/FM/NOAA weather compatible and is without a doubt the best low-cost portable (and small) receiver I have seen for this band set. It runs on a single AAA battery, the only radio I own that uses this battery.

    Planning issues -
    The plus on these sources is that they are wide area; generally high power (easy to receive) and also provide an entertainment component.

    The minus is that the 'news' and reports are rarely in real time and for the most part commercial radio stations just regurgitate whatever the local police and fire 'press releases' contain. It seems like nobody has old school reporters anymore.

    Another down side is that of trust. Has the information released to the public been screened to prevent embarrassment of a public official or action taken by a political entity? You have doubtless seen the many and recent instances of bad or erroneous information put out over these outlets. Can you trust them for good data in a disaster?

    You can decide if these outlets are good enough for you. They most certainly are a source your neighbors will be listening to in a disaster.

    Asset - Pulic Service communications.
    This isn't just the cops anymore. Police, fire and utilities - here the power, water and sewer utilities are owned by the Municipality. They may be in your area as well. All of these services can have a direct and immediate impact on my life and that of my family. By monitoring these comm channels, I can gather additional information normally not contained in public press releases. I'm also experienced enough to know these comms may be less than accurate as well. But, just the same, it is information I want and nearly always in real time.

    Planning issues -
    You will need a wide-band scanner to receive these communications, and in many areas, the local government has used Homeland Security grants to add encryption to their everyday communications. You can check any number of scanner sites on the web for frequencies and technical characteristics of the comms in your area that are of interest to you. Some of these comms may be on so-called trunked systems, using a digital (P-25) common air interface. While scanners are sold that can easily receive trunked P-25 (and other) digital comms, they are not inexpensive and have a steep learning curve. Please note that thanks to large DHS grants, many areas have encrypted PS communications. Thus a scanner will have little real use - check before you buy?

    Radio Reference.com is a good source of local public service communication systems. Shop around and read reviews before purchase.

    Asset - Specialty communications.
    All the wealth of other comms carried by radio is out there - air traffic control, railroad, private security, and on and on. While I don't normally monitor these, I do have a 'book', listing the frequency, owner and the technical specs should I think these communication links are something I want to monitor.

    Planning issues -
    You may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of licensed radio users in your area. Sorting out what can be of use to you is also a bit troublesome. For example, is the chatter between taxi drivers of any worth to you - day to day? Here it may be worth your time to see if there is a scanner club or like organization in your area to check with. Ham radio clubs often (but not always) have members knowledgeable on and willing to share about the local communications 'scene'. It doesn't hurt to ask.

    CHECK LOCAL LAWS before carrying a scanner in your automobile. Some jurisdictions have made it illegal to carry a scanner in your car.

    Asset - Amateur (Ham) radio.
    I have enough portable equipment to cover all of the bands and modes of interest to me. Again, while information on a disaster might be carried on the ham bands, I also realize that the information may still be suspect or incomplete. To be sure, if I lived in tornado country, I would have the SKY WARN channels selected to monitor in any bad weather.

    Planning issues -
    Amateur radio operators are, by law, not allowed to encrypt or otherwise disguise their communications. A basic scanner will allow you to listen in on any comms that are on going. A side note is that ham radio is a dying hobby in many areas, due in part I believe, to inexpensive cell phone service. Just the same, if you have a scanner to listen to police/fire/ambulance calls, a little bit of work will provide a list of all the active ham radio repeaters in your area. The Radio Reference site mentioned earlier has a tab for ham radio.

    How can I talk with others if the cell service/telephone lines are down?
    Talking with other people requires several things. A receiver, a transmitter, power for the equipment, an antenna and any required license to legally use the transmitter. The person you wish to communicate with must have equipment that is compatible with yours. You must have an agreed upon frequency or channel where you will meet and you both should know how to operate the equipment both lawfully and in a technically competent manner. Wow - sounds like a lot, eh?

    This can be as simple as both of you agreeing to meet on a CB or FRS channel at a certain time.
    Looking at MURS, GRMS, CB, FRS and Ham radio shows:

    MURS - The FCC website pretty much says it all:
    The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is in the 151 – 154 MHz spectrum range. The most common use of MURS spectrum is short-distance, two-way communications using small, portable hand-held devices that function similar to walkie-talkies.

    Similar services include General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS).

    The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) dates back to when the FCC changed the rules for five industrial/business frequencies known as the “color dot” frequencies. You've likely seen this kind of radio in use at big box stores.

    The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is licensed by rule. This means an individual license is not required to operate a MURS device. You can operate a MURS device regardless of your age and for personal or business use so long as you are not a representative of a foreign government.

    If you are interested, the FCC service rules for the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 95.

    There are five MURS channels and the channels are either 11.25 kHz or 20.00 kHz each.
    151.820 MHz (11.25 kHz)*meets new narrow band requirement
    151.880 MHz (11.25 kHz)*meets new narrow band requirement
    151.940 MHz (11.25 kHz)
    154.570 MHz (20.00 kHz)
    154.600 MHz (20.00 kHz)
    Operating a Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) Device
    You can operate a MURS device in any place where the FCC regulates radio communications. A MURS device must be certified by the FCC. A certified MURS device has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer.

    None of the MURS channels are assigned for the exclusive use of any system. You must cooperate in the selection and use of the channels in order to make the most effective use of them and to reduce the possibility of interference.

    No MURS unit, under any condition of modulation, shall exceed 2 Watts transmitter power output.

    Unlike FRS, you are allowed an external antenna, which will extend your range considerably.

    Bottom line -
    So, MURS - No license, 2 watts, VHF, no-restrictions on and external antenna okay. For non-hams, likely your best bet for limited range VHF-FM communications. You can lawfully use high gain antennas and there are no height odious restrictions for the antenna. A wide range of commercial equipment is available. See my note below on the new FCC rules.

    GRMS - The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is in the 462 - 467 MHz spectrum range. The most common use of GMRS spectrum is short-distance, two-way communications using small, portable hand-held devices that function similar to walkie-talkies. Bowing to reality, in 2010, the FCC proposed to remove the individual licensing requirement for GMRS and instead license GMRS “by rule”. As with MURS, this means that an individual license would not be required to operate a GMRS device. This proposal is still pending. There are currently 23 GRMS frequencies or channels.

    Operating a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) System
    A GMRS system consists of station operators, a mobile station, often comprised of several mobile units and sometimes one or more land stations. A base station is a radio that has an antenna no more than 20 feet above the ground or above the tree on which it is mounted and transmits with no more than 5 watts effective radiated power (ERP).

    None of the GMRS channels are assigned for the exclusive use of any system. You must cooperate in the selection and use of the channels in order to make the most effective use of them and to reduce the possibility of interference. You can expect a communications range of five to twenty-five miles.

    Bottom line -
    So, GMRS. Maybe no license, 5 watts, 23 channels, UHF, limited external antenna okay. For non-hams, likely your best next best bet for limited range UHF-FM communications. Remember, today, a license is still required. A wide range of commercial equipment is available.

    An important note on GMRS and MURS. Radios manufactured after November 13, 2000 are not legal on MURS, unless it was a purpose built for MURS (Type Accepted). Why? In an effort to promote greater spectrum efficiency, the FCC is requiring all Public Safety and Industrial/Business licensees using 25 kHz VHF and UHF radios systems migrate to minimum 12.5 kHz efficiency by January 1, 2013.

    So here we are. A lot of older commercial radios are currently flooding the market - and at very attractive price points. Before you buy anything, ensure it meets with current FCC bandwidth rules.

    FRS - Family radio service. Mandated low power (0.6 watt) and no external antenna allowed relegate this to the 'toy' category. Also known as "kiddie-talkies", they may be of some limited use in and around a campground to keep track of family members.

    CB or Citizen Band. Operating at the top end of the HF spectrum (27 Mhz), this service has been around, well, almost forever. Limited by law to 4 watts on AM modulation and 12 watts on SSB, it offers a solid choice for low-population rural areas. External antennas have no restrictions, offering a low-cost way to extend the range of your 'system. While expensive, I would say that a SSB system is the only viable type of CB to own or operate and have any expectation of communication with others in your family/group.

    Amateur Radio.
    This is the preferred disaster communication system. Entry level licenses are simple, code-free and easy to obtain. In many areas, ham clubs offer free testing. Licenses are good for 10 years. You will have access to multiple bands and impressive power levels. With this also comes the responsibility to operate your equipment within the rules and in a technically competent manner.
    Visit the www.arrl.org website for more detailed information - it is far more than can be covered here.

    What other things should I worry about?
    No matter what equipment you decide on for your use, consider the following.

    Battery type. All of my equipment runs from "AA" batteries and I have the adapters/cables to run from 12VDC auto systems as well. If you have a piece of equipment that has a NiCAd or NiMH battery pack, ensure you can run it from a secondary power source. Most personal communication radio sets have an "AA" battery tray to replace the NiCad or NiMH battery. Buy it when you purchase the radio, you won't be sorry.

    Antennas - Or, rather, antenna connectors. No matter what you end up buying, get adapters to allow use of both BNC and so-called UHF cable plugs.

    Have a plan! All the radio equipment in the world is of no real use if everyone in your family/party cannot operate the radio. Plan ahead, write down the plan and practice with the radios. Children as young as 8 years old are more than capable of operating complex equipment, if you take the time show/train them. My son got his ham license - back in the day with the code test, at age nine.

    I was looking at ham radio equipment and man, is it expensive!
    I guess this is how you define expensive. Quality gear will cost some real money. Don't expect that Big Box store bubble pack radio to give you much in the way of good service - they are low cost for a reason. Quality, but older VHF FM radios can be had at a very good price point if you just look a bit. If you are not a real gear head, enlist the help of someone who knows their stuff, just as you would for any purchase of used equipment - chainsaw or radio.

    Why do you say the FRS a no-go?
    Originally pushed by Tandy/Radio Shack, they were aiming for a UHF, no-license rule to sell low-cost radios. There are so many restrictions, from power to antenna types that the range is abysmal and there are so many users that in many areas, the service is all but useless. You have better choices - take them.

    Is CB any good to stay in touch while we travel?"
    Yes. Yes, it is. Even though I have an Extra Class ham license, I carry and sometimes use a small CB set to stay in touch with others as we travel, very convenient. Listening to the truckers adds an element of entertainment not often enjoyed. I have a quality magnetic mount external antenna I leave in the rig.

    What can I do to keep my communications on the ham bands private?
    Nothing. Any attempt to disguise your communications is expressly prohibited by law. The FCC has absolutely no sense of humor. I would add that fines start at $10,000, for each infraction. Bad idea.

    That said, you can reduce the number of folks listening into your communications and do so quite legally. ICOM sells a series of D-STAR radios that feature digital communications.
    D what?
    The D-STAR stands for Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio. It is an open-source standard digital communication protocol established by the Japanese Amateur Radio League. Since it is an open source standard, it is legal to use. I don't know of any commercially made scanner that has D-STAR capability, so your communications will have a low probability of intercept as we used to say in the military.

    For HF, the AOR corporation sells the ARD series of 'voice modems'; a vocoder that goes between your mike and the SSB radio. You need a pair of these, one at each end, to work. Without the proper equipment, your communications are unintelligible. Again, perfectly legal. Both of these modes are expensive, so it is no cheap fix. In my book "World of the Chërnyi - Going Home" I have the characters use other, legal, means to communicate and reduce their chance of intercept.

    For the technically adept, FreeDV is an open source sound card based digital voice system worth a look. It requires two sound cards to operate. A small device is now for sale that will do the same thing, no PC needed. Called the SM 1000 Smart Mike, they sell for around 200 dollars each. You'll need at least 2. Look up Rowetel on line.

    One last thought related to secure or private communications. Unless you are prepared to invest in a pseudo-random frequency-hopping, direct-sequence, spread spectrum radio system, legal by the way for hams, you are not going to have 'secure' communications.

    If you emit any electromagnetic radiation (EM), over a very wide range of frequencies, you can be tracked and your location pinpointed - quickly. Face it; if an EC-130 Compass Call is out looking for you, you've already lost.

    Stay within the law and be a good communicator.

    If you want a fun no-battery, non-EM emitting radio receiver, look back in time to the crystal radio set. When set up, they do not need batteries, can be made to cover shortwave broadcast frequencies and are completely inert - that is to say, they do not emit any radiation. FM reception is not possible with a basic crystal set.

    Build your own or buy a kit. I once took a group of Cub Scouts out into the desert around Las Vegas and we found everything needed to build a radio in the junk that people had thoughtlessly dumped out in the desert.

    Kits can be found here - http://www.midnightscience.com/kits.html
    The XS-402 The Little Wonder Crystal Radio Kit is one of the smallest crystal radio kits I've seen, just the thing for your Bug Out Bag.

    My suggestion for a disaster receiver?
    A Sony SRF-M37W Walkman sport radio in water resistant bag
    A wide-band scanning receiver. I have found older units for as little as $15 at garage sales.
    Ganado and Dunerunner like this.
  5. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    I'll pause here to see what comments are made.
  6. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Didn't know about D-STAR, going to look into one from ICOM. Ouch!! They start at $560....for a hand held. Coms are going to be important, though. Guess i'll be shopping the garage sales, but at least I will know what I'm looking for.
  7. john316

    john316 Monkey++

    a very good read DKR,THANK YOU
  8. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Eight
    Tools and Repairs

    In this Chapter, I'll briefly discuss the common, lightweight tools you should have on hand for use in a disaster.

    The classic saw of "A stitch in time saves nine" is more correct than not. I'll describe a small but comprehensive sewing kit and a larger tool for use in repairing large tarps, backpacks and the like.

    Since this DIY disaster kit is designed to support you for about four days, absent access to a shelter or other infrastructure, you should have some simple equipment in your kit.

    Recommended DIY Disaster Kit tools:
    Common pocket knife, folding.
    Your fingernails and teeth are with you all the time, but won't be of much help you try to open a can of food. So, a quality knife is called for as a priority. One I have found useful is a Camillus brand US Stainless Steel Knife. This knife features a 2 3/8" blade, can opener, punch, and screwdriver/cap lifter. The blade doesn't lock, so some care in use is required. If you choose to add a locking blade knife, check your local knife laws!

    Another good choice is a classic Swiss Army Knife, one with a can opener, but not much more.


    Camillus brand knife

    If a folding pocket knife doesn't seem like it provides enough flexibility, there are several multi-tools on the market that include everything up to and including a socket set. I have found that a 'real' pliers and a pocket knife provide more functionality than a multi-tool. YMMV as they say. There are many, many types and brands of multi-tool on the market today, use care when purchasing.

    A minimal sewing kit.
    This may be a simple as a single needle pre-threaded and stored in your first kit to a dedicated sewing kit with multiple needles and a variety of threads, buttons and scissors in a small case all by itself.

    A commercial kit, say one sold by WebTex, has needles, thread, scissors and a folding case, you can build your own for less, but sometimes a pre-built kit has the advantage of saving you time to gather and case the items yourself. I'll describe how to build one in a bit.

    *Sewing awl.
    This is a heavy duty tool for repairs of webbing, backpacks, even your shoes. Optional.

    A knife sharpener.
    A simple tool used to keep your knife sharp. One I have found to be both effective and easy to use is marketed by Gerber as their "Pocket sharpener". Under four dollars each, they work well. Lightweight, they can be attached to your keychain.

    Hand trowel.
    In an earlier chapter, I listed a trowel or small folding shovel. I wouldn't recommend a plastic trowel, but there are many good choices in your local garden section. True surplus folding shovels should provide good service as well. I checked the price of new, USGI issue folding shovels today (1/12/13) - they are priced at $80.61! Just so you know.

    Heavy leather gloves.
    Yes, I consider these to be a 'tool'. I have listed these here as a pair of good quality, heavy leather gloves should stay in your disaster kit. They will go a long way to protect your hands, because if you injure your hands, you will find life becomes much more difficult. You need these to handle hot pots, firewood - if you have a fire, and other rough chores. Consider carrying a set in your vehicle as well.

    Means to start a fire.
    I suggest that both a disposable lighter and a ferrocerium fire starter be in your kit along with a small container - say, a 35mm film can, with a few cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. While I have strongly suggested that an alcohol stove is your best bet for disaster cooking, many will want the psychological support that a campfire offers.

    LED headlamp.
    A flashlight is nice; a headlamp allows you to have both hands free to perform a task. One that has multiple light (output) settings and an adjustable headband is best. I would avoid those lamps that use so-called button batteries, an AA or as a second choice, AAA battery powered units generally provide better service.

    Duck tape.
    Yes. Duck tape is the Universal fix-it. Tear your pants? A strip of duck tape will keep things together until you have the time to break out the sewing kit. Wind several feet on an old credit card.

    Hatchet or axe?
    For the most part, no. It is unneeded. Most of the wood you would burn will be small enough to break with your foot, and if too large for that, burn it in half and push the ends into the fire. Many jurisdictions consider this as a potential weapon, most shelters will deny admission if you have one in your possession.

    Water tote.
    Unless you know you will have a nearby source of good water, a means to carry up to a gallon of water is something you should consider. This can be a pair of 2 liter soda bottles or a folding water bag. Remember, one gallon of water weighs eight pounds.

    Can opener.
    A military P-38 or its larger cousin, the P-51 take almost no space, but work a wonder at opening cans. Even if you don't have canned food in your kit, I still recommend having one at hand. I have found them useful for any number of things.

    *Earlier I mentioned a small AM/FM/NOAA radio set with headphones and a spare battery. Since it is equipment, I'll list it again hear as a 'must have' - consider yourself nagged.

    Car kit
    I add more equipment in a 'car kit' as an outgrowth of this personal DIY disaster kit.

    I'll mention a so-called Pioneer Tool Set. Common to the military, it is something to consider for your truck/Jeep or other off road vehicle.

    This set is a full sized axe, a full sized shovel and a mattock or pick-axe. Often added to this is a 20 pound double jack and a 'Hi-Lift' jack. Others have added a come-along or hand winch, rated at two tons or more. If you are not trained in the use of an axe - and it is a skill, a bucksaw or hand chain saw will work well. Always include a file and a stone to keep the tools sharp.

    Any number of websites provide a massive number of lists of 'must have' items in a disaster kit. These authors offer any number of reasons why you need such and such an item - and these may be valid reasons. Since this kit is designed to pretty much sit in a closet until needed, I would think that cost is a major driver in both the quantity and quality of the items you select to put in your kit. I'll make suggestions, you make the choices, as you and only you know the needs you may have and the skills you pisses.
    * * * * * *
    A simple sewing kit.
    You can purchase any number of pre-made kits, but you can build your own for a lot less. Start with an old gift card or other flexible plastic card about the same size. Make two small cuts - slits, really - about 1/4 in deep at the end away from the end where you will wrap your tape.

    Wrap one end -twice - with duck tape. This will allow you to place a #1 Sharps (a type and size of needle) on the card by pushing it into the tape. Sharps are normally sold as a set for a few dollars - so shop around. A #1 Darner needle may be a good substitute. I suggest adding a second, smaller needle. Thread both before you add them to your sewing kit. Now you can wrap more thread - both thick and some thin, around the card using the cuts in the card to hold each end of the thread.


    A credit card sized sewing kit.

    One thing to consider adding to your sewing kit is a thimble and a threading aid. This kit is small, has everything you need to make a simple repair in the field and should fit into one of your Individual First Aid Kits with room to spare.

    Again, these are suggestions for equipment items to have in your disaster kit, items of most use to you will be driven by your location and where you plan to shelter if forced to leave you primary residence.

    Capstone items-
    Everything listed in this section.
    Ganado likes this.
  9. john316

    john316 Monkey++

    if you have hundreds of cans of food
    you should buy 100 P-51 openers
    to lose
    to give away
    1 to go with the 6 cans of food you trade or give away
    AND backup for you

    this is just great ,DKR
  10. john316

    john316 Monkey++

    When this is done,will you fix it to show up as the first entry in 'General Survival and Preparedness'

    I know we have "resources" ,also a great place, but

    for the newby……….it would be a GREAT introduction to survivalmonkey

    a project to start on

    something for the newby to trip over

    a check list for old-timers

    Done... BTPost
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    One or another of the staffies can fix it up. Probably not a guaranteed first in line, but for sure a sticky.
  12. john316

    john316 Monkey++

    Ch 2

    “Conduction is the loss of heat from physical contact with a material or object that is colder or warmer than your body.”


    Conduction is the loss (or gain) of heat from physical contact with a material or object that is colder or warmer than your body.
  13. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Nine
    Safety and Personal Defense

    This Chapter is a brief discussion of safety issues faced by those displaced by a disaster. I'll list some ways to protect yourself and family members, your valuables and offer suggestions on ways to avoid problems before they impact you. A brief discussion covers the pros and cons of carrying a firearm - since laws in the US vary so wildly, I cannot offer specifics for your area.

    The safety issues faced by people displaced by disaster are multifaceted. Even if you seek shelter in an 'approved' Red Cross or other organizational sponsored shelter, you need to remember - "Safe" is relative term.

    For this reason, I'll begin by saying, if you don't have to leave your home, don't.

    Some climate related or technological accidents (man-made disasters) will leave you no choice. Flooding, long term loss of utilities or the releases of deadly toxins from a transportation accident are just a few of the reasons you might have to leave home. You should have a plan and "Know Where to Go" should you be displaced. Your County, State or maybe even a local Emergency Services department should have a list of pre-approved shelters and who is slated to run those shelters. That is no guarantee that the shelter will be, open, habitable or livable, but it is a starting point and one you should know.

    Weather extremes - hot or cold, are the primary reason I suggest knowing where your nearest shelter is located. These normally have at least minimal facilities for heating/cooling and basic sanitation - normally.

    What if a shelter isn't available or is full/uninhabitable? Friends or relatives used to be the place to go, but as many families are scattered across the Nation, this option has become less of a choice for many - especially if transportation is difficult or impossible and distances to relatives are great. A nearby motel is a possibility, but if the disaster is widespread, likely these facilities are damaged as well. Last choice would be a developed campground. These will usually have basic sanitation (cesspits) but water may be an issue in the best of times.

    Living out of your vehicle in a parking lot or on the street is the ultimate last resort. You'll find no relief from the heat or cold, face the lack of water and no sanitation will soon show this option is the worst of all possible options. If you own an RV, things may be acceptable for a short period, but without a sewer dump station and fresh water, even these soon become unacceptable.

    Bottom line - if you are forced to displace from your home, you will likely need to travel some distance to find a place to live until and if things return to normal.

    Once you leave your home, you have become a "refugee".

    What do I do now?
    Once you have found shelter, you need to decide how you will ensure your own safety. Few public "shelters of last resort" will have an assigned security staff or police and are intended for very short term use. This means you are on your own. Determine where the exits are located and if they are actually operational. If you are traveling/sheltering as a family, plan on one adult staying awake as the others sleep.

    Most shelters have no food or water, if the public water system fails. In my research, most jurisdictions tell you to bring your own food and water to a shelter. Most people won't. If you travel by car, I would suggest you leave any food items in the auto trunk. I'd hate to be the one person with a packet of cookies surrounded by a mass of unprepared folks who haven't eaten all day...

    Rarely do public shelters have cots, bedding or blankets. More organized areas and Red Cross shelters do have cots and may even have blankets. This is why you have a blanket in your DIY kit.

    Sanitation will be a big issue, so bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Putting these in a small bag or purse makes it easier to carry. Understand now, that at unstaffed shelters, the sanitation faculties will get nasty - fast. Women may want to consider carrying one of any number of available 'sanitation devices' or female urination device (FUD) (this is how they are found on the Internet) which will allow use of the facility without the need to make personal contact with a filthy toilet surface.

    Water from public sources (water mains) may be compromised after a disaster. Unless you know the water has been treated, any water obtained from drinking fountains, facets or hose bibs must be treated. The water tote in your DIY disaster kit will make a great 'holding tank' for the time it takes for your treatment method to take effect.

    Public shelters may or may not serve cold meals.
    Consider the following. If you can't wash your hands with hot, soapy water after a bowel movement - neither can the food handler. Unless the food is pre-packaged, I would exercise extreme caution on eating anything served. Life may be miserable, but life in a shelter while fighting a bad case of diarrhea from contaminated food or water is a far more miserable existence. Use some sense, and have at least some packaged food in your kit.

    A shelter will be noisy. A few sets of foam earplugs will go a long to allow you to sleep when it's your turn. For the same reason, a set of earbuds for your radio will go a long way to reduce tensions in a shelter area.

    Finally, most shelters are in public schools, so find a comfortable corner, set up in the corner and be prepared to make the best of it.

    What about my valuables?
    Real valuables, that is to say cash, money, precious metals and so on should go into a lock box at your bank. I've not seen any bank vaults wash away in a hurricane. Paper items should be sealed in a plastic bag just in case the vault floods.

    Banking with a large bank or credit union - one with branches far outside of your local area, will provide the best bet to have or retain access to your bank account information and the money it represents.

    Contact your insurance agent to confirm what documentation you need to file a claim - and gather the necessary paperwork or photos/images now.

    Your paperwork and copies of your insurance documentation can go into your lock box - again, protected from moisture. But before you lock the papers and photos up in your lock box, take the time to scan them and then store the data on a so-called USB thumb drive.

    RENTERS SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE RENTERS INSURANCE! Sorry, didn't mean to shout, but a basic policy is only about $100/year. Just to replace your clothing and kitchen 'stuff' would cost many times that much. Spend the money, you won't regret it. No, call your agent right now. Don't wait.

    You may not have the paperwork in hand, but a digital copy is normally enough to at least get started on the claims process. The price and size of these storage devices have fallen, so more than one copy is not only possible, but recommended - but take the time to put some kind of simple encryption on the device is case you lose or it is stolen. The internet has many, many sites that describe just how to encrypt this kind of data. Find one that matches your operating system and hardware. One last thought - save your 'paperwork' as an image file onto a SD chip device. If needed, a one hour photo can 'print' out your paperwork for claims...

    Carrying large amounts of currency after a disaster is almost a necessity - if the electricity is out, credit cards are worthless.

    Avoid displaying large amounts of cash! In private, put different amounts in different pockets. Remember, small denominations are best, a mix of one, fives and tens are best. If few places will take a hundred dollar bill now, even fewer still will want to bother with them in a disaster. One exception to that would be to pay for lodging. Combo lock car safes are available that bolt under a seat. Give this some real consideration if you live in an area where frequent evacuations are required. Money belts are an old school solution worth considering as well.

    When I say security, most folks I know think of some kind of firearm. And while being armed can provide a sense of security, please take the time to think things through. Once you pull the trigger, you own that bullet until it stops. And forever after. Don't believe that a shooting event in a disaster will be treated differently - it will not. In the afterwards, and there will always be an afterwards, you will have to face the results of your actions.

    Having said that, there are predators that inhabit disasters, so check you local gun and knife laws now to fully understand what is legal and more importantly, what is not. If you haven't received professional training of the safe handling of firearms, get the training now.

    What about safety once I return home?
    Safety equipment.
    Heavy leather gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, dust masks and thick soled leather boots should be part of your clothing choices if you will be doing any kind of cleanup or demo work at home. Debris will be scattered and present sharp surfaces that can injure you. If you are planning on doing any backhaul/salvage of home contents, you still need the gloves and good hard-soled shoes.

    If your community has a debris removal/disposal plan, ask for a copy of it now. If they don't, consider bringing up the subject at a planning or Emergency Services meeting.

    Sanitation -
    If you are on a septic system you generally won't have a problem, if on a city sewer system, check to see that it is operational before using your home facilities, if they are even available.

    I've covered water and food in an earlier segment.

    Home security.
    This is another area where folks might think a shotgun is all that is needed. I would suggest a bright search light/floodlight and someone to use it will provide a lot more security for your belongings. Thieves will generally stay away from an area they know is being watched. So, again, one adult should plan of being awake all the time until things return to 'normal'.

    Here is where knowing your neighbors and watching out for each other is golden. If you belong to a Neighborhood Watch, it is worth asking about what actions are planned, post-disaster. It is certainly worth asking. If you don't have a Neighborhood Watch, at least consider asking your closest neighbors what might work for your area.

    I hope this segment has given you some things to think about now and the push to add these items to your overall planning.

    So, are you saying a having a gun is a dumb idea?
    No, I am not. What I am saying is that security is a lot more than having a firearm. And depending on where you live, the laws covering firearms can very - wildly - from city to County to State. So if you chose to carry a firearm, ensure you know the laws in your area. A jail cell is a crappy place to shelter. I am also saying that you ensure you know how to employ that firearm, legally, before you start packing. That means professional training. Get some - training. Again, a jail cell can be a lonely place to be.

    So, where is a good spot in a shelter?
    If you are forced to stay in a public shelter, find a small space, with a fire exit, or window. A corner is better, as you have two walls to your back. Some spot as far away from the toilets as possible, for obvious reasons. If you can snag a couple of chairs or a table to use with your blanket to make a 'tent', you will find it easier to sleep and have a tiny bit of not-quite privacy. The reality, of course, is that there is no 'good spot' inside a public shelter.

    What services can I count on in a public shelter?
    That's an easy one to answer. NONE.

    Okay, what options do I have?
    Do you own your own home? I've built a 10 x 12 'shed' in my back yard, and set it up to support a stove, if needed. It is insulated and has a small sleeping loft. This shed can be pressed into service as a shelter should my primary residence be so damaged as to be unlivable. My fall back is a 5th wheel RV. Both are expensive options, but I live where it is both cold and suffers from earthquakes. I look at the shed as dual use, holding my gardening equipment now and the RV is our summer escape vehicle. If you rent a home or duplex with a yard, the landlord may allow a small storage shed. A camping tent may allow you to at least stay near the remains of your home as you recover what belongings you can.

    Man, you seem pretty hard over on renter insurance, why?
    I've seen people burned out of their rental unit, with the loss of everything they own. Then it hits them, with no insurance, they are starting all over again - from scratch. Basic policy coverage starts at under $100 a year, the least expensive coverage you can buy. Well worth the ten bucks a month. The landlord's insurance won't cover you, so you need to cover yourself.

    Refugee? Are you kidding me?
    A person who has been forced to leave their home or country in order to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. Homeless and without support.

    Do you want to be that person? I don't.

    Where can I learn more?
    FEMA has on line lessons covering, among many things, shelter operations.
    See: training.fema.gov/is/
    Course IS-7 A Citizen's Guide to Disaster Assistance
    Course IS-22 Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness are recommended as your first courses. There is no cost for these on-line courses. I've complete most all of the courses. This training will help you understand better what the Federal Government will for you and to you in a disaster.

    Capstone items-
    USB thumb drive, encrypted. Encryption software is on the drive as well.
  14. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Ten
    Travel and Navigation

    If you can't tell the players without a program, you'll find travel far more difficult without a map. I'll discuss common map products, then provide a listing of where and how to obtain free or low cost map products for your use. I'll cover compasses, and point you to free, on-line training sources for the use of your compass. While a GPS receiver is nice, it does have some real-world drawbacks, I'll discuss those drawbacks.

    Just like at the baseball field, if you can't tell the players without a program, you may soon get lost if you lack a map to keep you on track. So, let's start this discussion with why have a map in your DIY disaster kit? Simple, you need one.

    Why do I need any Maps?
    If you're like most folks I know, you have a favorite route to get places. If asked to give directions, I suspect you'll use phrases like, "Turn at the gas station" or "Go two blocks past the school, then turn right." You drive or travel places everyday - to work, the grocery store, to see friends and even over the river and though the woods to visit grandmother. For your everyday needs, this kind of landmark based navigation it works great.

    What happens, though, when the river overflows its banks and wipes out the bridge you always use? Where is the next bridge up or downstream? Is a ferry available? How do you even get to the next bridge? Where are the low spots most likely to get flooded when the river escapes its banks? Is there even a long way around to get home? Well, if you had the right set of maps, and understand how to read the maps, you would have a lot less to worry about. Tornadoes can remove familiar landmarks, a map will help you navigate in this circumstance.

    What kind of maps do I need? Are there different kinds?
    There are many styles and types of maps - almost too many to list. So, for this DIY disaster kit we will examine just a few. Back in the day, gas stations would give away or sell at low cost a variety of travel maps. These provide a basic layout of a defined road system and give a general idea of distances between fuel stops or towns. These fill a legitimate need and for what they are, do a good enough job, if everything is going along normally. Many do not show secondary roads and may have outdated information. Nothing ruins your day like finding a bridge that been washed out for two years or a highway under construction stopping your journey cold. The older the map, the more likely you are to be surprised - in a bad way.

    Several vendors offer trip planning services with current information and a map printed just for your trip. Many people find this service useful enough to support a minor industry. Other vendors offer travel guides that are updated yearly, One of the more famous travel guides is the "Milepost" magazine - it details, mile by mile, the ALCAN highway and several side trips. The magazine says it is updated yearly, but as with any published guide, it's best to check in advance for price and availability for lodging, repair services and so on. Businesses come and go all the time, so any published guide is just that - a guide. The older it is, the more suspect the information within. "Lonely Planet' offers a series of guides that enjoy wide popularity.

    Are these guides any good for a disaster kit?
    I would suggest there are better products.

    The better choice would be a Gazetteer for your State/Providence or a select series of topographical (topo) maps. The DeLorme series of maps are nicely bundled for each state and contain both topographical type maps and well the road system for major cities. Each book, or atlas as they are called, runs about 20 US dollars and for the information they contain, are a wonderful bargain. At 11 by 15.5 inches they are handy without being too large to handle. (http://shop.delorme,com) Each of the atlases has a key to explain the sometimes cryptic marks on the map.

    A dedicated topo map of a specific area, usually sold by the US Geological survey (USGS) gives the most data at scales varying from 350,000 to 1 all the down to 24,000 to 1. Put another way, at the 1 to 24,000 scale, one inch equals 2000 feet. The maps are sold by Quadrangle and section. They may also be referred to by how many minutes they cover - that is 7.5 minutes, 15 minute and so on. USGS map products do show cityscapes, but as with most any printed document, can suffer from the lag time to print - and therefore may be less than accurate in a fast growing area. The more development in an area, the more all maps suffer from this lag.

    (US Topo to order maps from the USGS)

    To obtain free (and current) USGS topo maps go to - US Topo and select the map for your area of interest. You can print these at home. I must warn the scale will not be exactly as listed owing to how your printer works.

    Are you kidding me? Free maps?
    Yes, indeed. Your tax dollars at work. They are free because you print them out. If you want a map that the scale matches the printed product, then order the paper product from the USGS, the instructions are on the same page. About 10 dollars per 7.5 minute map.

    Will this work for everyone?
    The free maps download to your computer as a .pdf product. It will work as well as any other (large) .pdf. Be warned, most files start about 18 Megs in size, not for the faint of heart or those with dial up modems.

    What if I don't have a printer or want a full scale map?'
    Stores that sell and service drafting plotters often offer a print service for customers. Take your .pdf file down and see if they will print it for you - expect to pay for this. You may also have your map printed on opaque mylar or Tyvek, both offer a durable and water resistant product. Finally, outfits like REI offer custom printing of maps for a reasonable fee.

    I use (brand name) maps on my (iphone/android phone/gadget) - why should I use USGS maps.
    The USGS is the standard for map accuracy. Software based maps have so many issues; I will not recommend them to anyone.

    What's will all those lines? Are they of any use?
    That data, those lines, are what make topo maps so valuable. The USGS page has an explanation of what each line represents. This information is both on-line and too long to cover here. Go, read, learn.

    What is a compass and why do I need one?
    For a quality topo map to be of the most use, it should be oriented, that is to say, lined up north to south the way it is drawn. This alignment makes it easier to relate terrain features you see to the map in front of you. To navigate - travel - using a map as a guide, a compass is a necessary tool.

    What kind of compass should I get for this kit?
    There are so many different kinds and styles of compasses, from cheap button compasses to pocket transits costing several hundred dollars, the new user can get confused. Let me list a few simple things to remember -

    -Real Quality costs real money. There is a reason that 'Chinese marching compass' or 'military style' compass will not work as good as a US made, milsurp prismatic compass - Quality. That is why one costs 5 dollars and the other costs 60 dollars. Just as there is no free lunch, there is no 'cheap and accurate' compass. The world just doesn't work that way.

    -The best compass is one you know how to use to get the most from your map. Each compass has a purpose. A hand bearing compass works differently than a Pocket Transit - both can be used to navigate. I'll narrow this down in a bit

    -If you will use the compass in North America, buy one made to work in North America. Don't pay extra for a so-called World Needle - it's legit, you just don't need it.

    -In my opinion, a compass that will allow you to set declination (offset between the real Geographic North pole and the Magnetic North pole) is a worthwhile extra cost feature. You will make fewer mistakes.

    -A compass that has some kind of sighting system will allow you to navigate more precisely.

    - Get a compass marked in degrees unless you plan on running a field artillery unit. (360 degrees vs 6400 mils found on military units)

    So, now what?
    So - lets look at a very expensive compass - and some better suited to your kit.

    First is a Brunton Pocket Transit. Arguably the most accurate hand-held compass you can buy. At several hundred dollars copy, it is certainly expensive. While in college, I worked for a GeoExploration company and we used these Pocket Transits to lay out mining claims. I would love to have one for the cool factor alone, but it is serious overkill. What's next?

    Next is a Cammenga brand military prismatic compass. Cost - about 60 dollars or so. The dial is marked in degrees (in red) and mills, the needle is glow in the dark and as you can see, East and West are highlighted. The outer dial is marked in one degree notches, so you can use it in the dark.
    An excellent bit of kit and is well worth the money. Okay for your kit, but still a bit of overkill. What's next?

    The Silva brand 'Ranger' compass. This item is listed at 51 US dollars on the Silva website.
    Rugged, has a sighting system, can be used to quickly orient you maps and has map scales on the base plate. Huummm, almost prefect. This model allows you to dial in the declination. And then?

    The Silva Guide model 426 - ahhh, just right. About 15 dollars on-line. Comes a variety of colors, and it floats. The sighting mirror has a Vee notch at the top of the mirror’s sight line. The compass needle itself is made out of tungsten steel with a friction free sapphire bearing -so it moves freely. The compass is filled with clear antistatic liquid, so no annoying bubbles inside the dial or needle flutter. You can fold the cover back behind the compass if you want it be out of the way, say, while using a map. 2.5 inches square, it takes up little space. Did I mention, it will float? The dial is divided in 2 degree increments.

    There are other compasses out there. Many are well made and a quality product. I've been using Silva and Suunto products for over 5 decades and they have never failed me. I'm writing this, so the Silva Guide is my recommendation. You can make your own choice, of course. Please take the time to compare features and quality, and then worry about the cost. Because if your cheapo compass fails or is inaccurate, how big a bargain is it in the end, really?

    Okay, now I have a compass. How the heck do I use it?
    Books have been written on this, so I'll point to several on-line resources and let you pick the one you find easiest to understand.

    Field Manual 3-25.26 Map Reading and Land navigation. The Army way of using a compass. A good read covering all the basics, and them some. Features a prismatic compass as seen above

    How To Use a Compass
    A series of lessons on orienteering, itself a kind of race requiring navigation to precise locations. An oldie but goodie

    Easy to read illustrated guide for the beginner or advanced field person.

    Compass Basics
    Short version for folks wishing to brush up on old skills.

    The only way to be comfortable using a compass - is to use one. Buy a map of your local area and then use the compass that will go in your kit to navigate from point to point! It can be a fun family activity. Try it.

    Is a (brand name) compass better than...
    Some compasses are priced higher than others. More money doesn't always better quality, but Quality does cost. Sapphire bearings cost more than those without, and so on. There are a number of Indian knock-offs of the Brunton Pocket Transit made of brass that are great paperweights. I'd never count on one to find North.

    Do I really need to orient my map?
    When you are doing so-called paper exercises, planning, measuring distances, identifying hazards like low lying areas - no. In the field using the map to get from Point A to Point B, I would argue that you do need to orient the map for best results. Any one terrain features may look the same as another if you aren't sure of your exact location.

    I don't need a compass, I have a GPS!
    I'm happy for you; I hope you live to tell your friends about your adventure. Most GPS units offer a heading feature - acting like a compass. I know the compass I use is accurate to + / - 1/2 of one degree.

    What about your GPS unit? Good luck on finding that information for your unit. I have a nice GPS unit and use it when doing photography overseas for industrial operations, marking the place I captured the image in a database and log. This is different than land navigation - a lot different.

    Are you saying a GPS is no good?
    No. I am saying - be careful.

    Printed maps and GPS coordinates may not always agree. Some map products - mostly outside of North America anymore, may be 'off' by upwards of several miles. The older the map data, the more likely this is to happen. Why? Because some products are using data obtained before the GPS system was in place. I have maps based on 1950s data, the data on the map is good. Think about it, mountains haven't moved, but the geophysical coordinates don't match up to my GPS - all owing to systematic surveying errors from back in the day.

    You've likely heard to the stories of people blindly following their in-car 'navigation system' and driving into lakes, rivers or even the ocean. A map requires a bit of care and should always be considered an aid to your travels. The older the map, the more care should be exercised, items build by man may be removed by nature, so any map you use to navigate from your home to a place of refuge should be vetted.

    Pick and drive your primary and alternate routes at least yearly. City road maps should be replaced on a regular basis, especially if you live in or near a fast growing area. Use your maps in advance to find choke points - bridges or overpasses/railroad bridges that could collapse and block the roadway. Mark and know the low lying areas that may be prone to flooding.

    Maps are a wonderful tool, once you know and understand how to use them. Take the time now to do that before the need arises.

    Capstone items-
    Local maps
    Military lensmatic compass - simply because I have one. ANy compass you are comfortable with is fine - but you need a compass.
  15. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Chapter Eleven
    Morale and Mental Health

    If you have children, you already know dealing with a bored child is almost as bad a dealing with a bored adult. I discuss some low cost and light weight items to carry that can make a difference in the inevitable down time faced when away from home and familiar surroundings.

    The pounding on the door in the middle of the night, the fire crews shouting - "Get out, get out now!" You throw your kit in the car, grab the kiddos and head down the street. Listening to the radio, you discover where a shelter is located and now here you are, happy and lucky enough to be sitting on a cot, amongst rows of cots, in school gym or large indoor sports complex.

    Now what? Well, if you have the items listed in this kit, you should be good for a couple of days, but that about the fire/flood/earthquake/disaster? Is your home/condo/apartment/hovel safe, or even still there? How do you get news, and keep the kids occupied?

    Morale - What is it and why does it matter?
    Morale is often defined as the mental and emotional condition of an individual or group with regard to perform the function or tasks at hand OR the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future. If you're worried sick about your home and contents, it may be hard to impossible to focus on the simple day to day tasks in front of you.

    For this I can offer scant advice. Having valuables, certain papers and negatives or photo files in a safe place like a bank lock box and good, quality insurance will go along way to reduce the worry.

    Keeping your mind occupied will help. Not knowing and boredom can quickly wear a person down. This is the primary reason for having a small portable radio with headphones or earbuds so that you may listen for local news.

    I have a radio, but what else can I do?
    Having a book (or two) to read can help reduce what will quickly become a forced idleness. A small notebook and a ball point pen to journal your thoughts will also go a long way to help reduce the tension.

    Some folks will argue that modern cell phones have a multiplicity of games and other entertainment, and I will agree, up to the point of the ability to keep that device charged. I would also caution that display of an expensive device in a public shelter may not be the smartest thing in the world. Keeping these simple caveats in mind, I will agree that a good cell phone is a valuable asset, for both entertainment and for gathering data.

    Other small and inexpensive items, like a deck of common playing cards, a small cribbage board or an inexpensive multi-game 'travel kit' take little space but will yield hours of entertainment.

    What about my children?
    Children in a disaster situation pose some unique issue sets. Past diapers, cleaning wipes and formula that should always be in a diaper bag - babies are not 'easy' to keep entertained. As a grandfather, I enjoy watching young families as I move through airports on my travels. Air travel is the closest thing I can relate to a shelter situation. You have limited space, may well be in crowded public areas and cleanliness for your child is always a concern. Infants may be kept in their car seats, but once they become active, that choice becomes limited.

    A urethane or vinyl coated 'painters tarp' cut into squares may offer the best of many choices. Cut into 4 foot by 4 foot squares these can laid on the floor to offer a clean and waterproof play space or clean area for your small child. A single 8x10 'tarp' will give you two play squares and two 4x6 floor ground covers for keeping you blanket clean. If you find yourself outside, these will make nice picnic table covers should you find yourself in a campground.

    For older children, a small backpack - for just that child, with a change of clothes and a couple of their toys will go a long way to reduce tensions caused by boredom. If you are one of the folks that count on the television to entertain your child, be forewarned, you will have problems. Children that watch a lot of video - TV or movies, tend to have shorter attention spans and as a result may become easily bored. I would say observing the child at play with the toy you plan of taking will give you an idea on suitability. Don't forget, as children age, their needs and taste in toys will change.

    Important note - Noisy toys are never a good choice in a shelter situation.

    Mental health
    Volumes of books have been written about mental health during and after disasters. If you have a family member or are a full-time caregiver for a person with mental health issues, consult with your professional health care provider. Take the time to describe those hazards that your planning has led you believe will cause displacement and the shelter/refuge you plan on using. Checking with local authorities to determine what, if any, special needs shelters or similar spaces are available should be part of any planning. If there are no special needs shelters, consider asking your local authorities to designate one as such.

    Capstone items-
    Paperback book
    1 set of miniature playing cards

    Chapter Twelve
    Important Documents

    What should I do about my important documents (passports, insurance, license, etc)
    It's a fact of life that we all have a paper trail following us through our life. If your home is damaged, or destroyed, having the right papers can make a major difference in how rapidly your life can be restored. Take a few minutes now to determine the documents you should have with you, and what other measures you can take to safeguard important documents such as birth certificates, DD-214s from military service, marriage certificates, insurance papers and so on.

    I'll begin with a service most political entities (State or County) offer - recording of documents. This is where the document is 'recorded' by the State, so if needed, an 'official' document may be produced for legal use should the original document be lost or destroyed.

    What can be recorded? Here where I live in Alaska - the State will record.

    The following list indicates some of the various types of documents that are recorded in the official records of the state of Alaska:

    Deeds, Mortgages,
    Notice of Liens,
    Claim of Liens,
    Release of Liens,
    Uniform Commercial Code Financing Statements,
    Security Agreements,
    Judgments and Decrees from courts,
    Federal and State Tax Liens,
    Child Support Enforcement Liens, Satisfactions and Releases of such liens.

    We also, from time to time receive Last Will and Testaments, Birth Certificates, Military Discharge papers (DD-214),Death Certificates and Marriage Licenses.

    However, we are not the normal and customary place for filing these records, if they meet minimum acceptance criteria, they will be accepted and placed in the public record

    County offices often offer such recorder services. I took the time, and paid the fee, to record my military discharge paperwork. The title to my home has also been recorded. Items such as replacement auto titles and the like are usually covered by the division that collects taxes on the item.

    I've made digital copies, as both .pdf and .jpg of other important documents and placed them on an encrypted thumb drive. ALWAYS ENCRYPT any such storage device. This allows me the option of printing the document or having it produced as a photo. The documents are then stored inside a thick (6 mil) zip bag, inside of my bank lock box.

    Take the time now to ask your insurance agent how the claims process works for the company you have chosen for your insurance coverage, if this is a document, it is worth taking the time to scan and store in your lock box. Check yearly to see if the process has changed. Knowing where to start and a road map of the claims process can reduce the pressure after a disaster.

    Another important document often overlooked is photographs or images of your property. Literally thousands of high quality images can be stored on a USB thumb drive or SD card for use in filing an insurance claim. Having dated images of your furniture, clothing and other household goods will go along way in the claims process. Check with your agent for the type and quality of images needed for a claim. Getting that information in writing is even better. Store the thumb drive or SD card in your lock box or someplace off site. The data will do you no good if it is destroyed as your house burns down.

    A color copy, laminated, of your main passport page - the page with your image, may allow you to leave that document in safe storage, and use the copy. Having the page copy will make replacement less stressful.

    A complete listing of all credit card numbers, company contact information and related data stored in a safe place at home will be more than handy if you lose your wallet/purse and there may be legal reporting requirements involved - check with the card issuer.

    In closing up this chapter, I remind you that the cloud of paper you are surrounded with is an inevitable by-product of modern life. Protecting that paper, keeping copies of that paper and having a means to reproduce the paper documents is now longer a luxury - it is a necessity. Take the time to examine your personal cloud of paper and protect those most important.

    Capstone items-
    Credit card listing
  16. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    And this is it.

    MODS - you can set this as a resource....
    Dunerunner likes this.
  17. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I agree... Way too much good information in this thread to have it remanded to thread zombie land. [winkthumb]
  18. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @ DKR We made it the Top Sticky Thread in this forum... If you really want it as a Resource, PM @Brokor... and see what he can do...
    Dunerunner and Brokor like this.
  19. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Just let me know when it's completed and I can make it into a .pdf for download in the resource section, no problem.

    I just need a confirmation in case you wanted to add anything or make changes.
    Merkun and Dunerunner like this.
  20. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories


    There is a snippet on working up the "Capstone Project" I never intended to post.
    Please add a note to the pdf that the material is copyrighted and may be seen in the World of the Chernyi book series found on Amazon. I'll go back and tweak the first post.

    I have this in Word and can make a pdf - where do I send it?

    I had hoped for more feedback, but what it is, is. Thanks to everyone that read along.
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