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October 28, 2007

Go Bags
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:27 PM * 333 comments

A correspondent writes:

Dear James,

I read Making Light regularly, and I've always enjoyed your blog posts about emergency preparedness.  In light of the devastating wildfires in California, I'm interested if you'd be willing do another one that tells people exactly what they need to grab in the ten minutes they have to get out of the house.  For example, I've recently been reading the FEMA website, and while their emergency lists sound reasonable, I've figured out that there's no way I could possibly carry as many items as they list (I'd be dying from the weight of the bottles of water alone), and get myself and my cat and my husband out of the house in ten minutes.

How do you go about paring down the emergency lists so that they're not only portable, but something you can grab in about two seconds?  I can only imagine that this problem will get worse when we have children, because that will multiply the number of things and people we need to get out of the door, pronto.

Any advice you could write in a blog post would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

Your wish is my command, my friend. (I’d already been considering doing such a post for my personal first aid kit, and shall do so one day. For right now, I’m going to take and comment on each item in a couple of appropriate “go bags” I have inventoried on my Emergency Kits page. Those “Jump Kits” or “Go Bags” are things you keep by your front door, or in the bottom drawer of your office desk, for the moment when the cop or firefighter pounds on the door and yells “Get out, now!” (Also handy for when the power goes out and you have to make it home without subways or trolleys.)

Without further ado:

Urban bag

If you’re just going away for a little while, or you only need to get home from the office, and you’re in a built-up area, this has the supplies you need. If you can grab nothing else, grab this one. If you only have ten seconds, grab this one.

(Along with what’s in your pockets. I assume some pocket change, subway tokens, a pocket knife, ID, and so on.)

In a waist pouch
Sometimes called a fanny pack (and for our Brit friends, no, that’s not what it sounds like). The idea here is something small, neat, compact, that will stay with you in the press of a crowd, and that doesn’t require the use of your hands.
one AA flashlight
What the Brits call an “electric torch.” AA is a battery size. The smallest, lightest one you can find. Consider one with LED lights in it, because those don’t run down their batteries as fast. In a general urban emergency, power may be one of the first things to go, or the lack of power may be the emergency. Light will get you out of tunnels, through hallways, or allow you to signal at night. Light extends your active period.
one AA transistor radio
You’ll want to hear emergency announcements and instructions, so you’ll know what’s happening, and where to go to find help. The good guys should be putting out the word. You need a way to get that word. Radios are cheap, light, and work under a remarkable number of harsh conditions.
one spare pack of AA batteries
If you rely on battery-operated devices I promise you that the batteries will die at the most inopportune time possible. Have the radio and the flashlight work off the same kind of batteries. When you need fresh batteries for your normal household devices (remote controls, toys, clocks, etc.) take the batteries from the radio or flashlight in your kit. Replace the batteries in the radio and flashlight from the spare pack in your kit. Replace the spare pack with a fresh spare pack from the store. That way the freshest batteries in the house will be the repacement battery pack in your jump kit.
one pack moleskin
This is a thick adhesive-backed cotton felt used to protect against blisters. In an emergency situation you live as long as your feet do. With normal transit disrupted you can expect to do some walking. If you aren’t used to walking this can be a killer. Blisters on your feet can put you out of commission. How to use moleskin.
anti-chafing ointment
Particularly if you’re out of shape and overweight (but it can happen to anyone), chafing between your legs and under your arms can hit you when you’re doing a long hike. This can be cripplingly painful. Pick up some anti-chafing ointment (available at sports stores that cater to runners). Some brand names are Chafe Eez, Sportslick, and Body Glide. Bag Balm also works.
one small sharp curved scissors
These are sometimes called iris scissors or cuticle scissors. Use it for cutting the moleskin (above), or any of the thousand other things you might need a small, sharp scissors for. Trimming your nails, opening out your clothing, whatever. Just good to have.
one space blanket
If it gets cold and dark and you’re in the open, you’ll want to have this. Also good for signalling, as a wind break, and to treat for shock.
one disposable poncho
Because along with your other problems, while you’re hiking home in the blackout, it’ll probably be raining. Something small, light, disposable … because if you chose something big, heavy, and reusable you’ll probably leave it at home rather than have it with you. This also gives you a plastic sheet which, together with that pair of scissors, can let you build a solar still (fi you’re in the situation where a solar still is what you want), or anything else that a few square feet of plastic can make.
250 mL of water
Because dehydration can kill you. When you get thirsty enough, drink it all down. Don’t ration. This will make your load lighter, will help prevent blisters and chafing (both related to dehydration), and give you an empty bottle to refill next time you come to a clean water source. 250 mL is a standard size, and it’s small and light.
one whistle
As long as you can breathe, you can call for help with a whistle. If you happen to know International Morse (you mean you don’t?!) you can pass information along with a whistle (as, indeed, you can with that flashlight). At the very least, know SOS: three short, three long, three short.
$100 in ten-dollar bills
Enough for two nights in a cheap motel or an inter-state bus/train ticket. Assume that ATMs will be down or out of money, and that credit card readers will be down as well. Cash on the barrelhead is your friend. Adjust the dollar amount for common costs in your area. Ten-spots are large enough that a wad of ‘em is small and light, but small enough that there won’t be a big problem with making change if you do buy something.
$10 in quarters
The most common coin for vending machines, toll booths, and pay phones. Assume your cell phone will be down, jammed by everyone else trying to use ‘em, or you’re in an area with no cell coverage for some reason. Pay phones are your friends in an emergency. Also, if you’ve been on the road for ten hours the candy bar in the bus station at three in the morning will look mighty good, but if you don’t have coins it won’t be yours.
two disposable butane lighters
Two sources of fire are a survival standby. You may need to light candles, a kerosene lantern, or a camp stove. This is also a source of light if the flashlight dies.
one pack waterproof matches
Sometimes called “lifeboat matches.” Because butane lighters don’t always work.
one pre-paid phone card
Rotate this as necessary to make sure it’s fresh and usable. For those times when you don’t have quarters, or when you’re calling from another phone in someone’s house or office or such. Important rule: Let people know where you are, where you’re going, what route you’re taking, and when you expect to get there.
lists of phone numbers
Because you’ll want it know how to get hold of Aunt Kitty at three in the morning when the world is falling apart and she’s the only one you can think of who’ll always be home.
one pen
“A short pencil beats a long memory,” and you will want to write down any emergency instructions you hear on that radio.
one notepad
To write down those emergency instructions. Also, so you can leave a note on the refrigerator when you leave home in a hurry: “Fred: Gone to Aunt Kitty’s.” Make sure you put the date and time on the note.
inventory list
Because you’re going to be inventorying and repacking the kit quarterly.
consider: regional map
So that you’ll be able to figure out where you are, where you’re going, and if the radio says “Avoid Place AAA” you’ll be able to figure out where it is, or if the radio says “Your best route is via Bridge BBB” you can figure out the direction, even if it’s out of your usual travel area.
Consider: laminated photocopies of important documents (e.g. marriage license, birth certificate, social security card, first page of passport)
Because relief workers may need to know, you may be away for lots longer than you expect, and it’ll provide a handy way to identify your body if things go very wrong indeed.

Evacuation/deployment bag

If you have twenty seconds, grab this one too. If you have half-an-hour you can put this together from stuff you have in your closet. Sometime let me show you how to make a field-expedient backpack out of a pair of jeans and some cord. (Along with what’s on your back. I assume that you’re already wearing weather-appropriate clothing and well-fitting shoes.)

In a backpack:
Again, so you can operate hands-free. Pick something just big enough to carry the gear you’ll be packing. Small and light are your watchwords.
one or more changes of clothing (including shoes), underwear, socks
A spare shirt, a spare pair of pants. Undies as appropriate (consider mesh polypro: stays warm, easy to wash, dries fast, light). Good socks. Really, you’ll thank me. Good socks. The shoes can be a light pair of canvas sneakers (trainers, for our Brit friends), or camp sandals. Once again, you live as long as your feet do. If your regular shoes get wet you’ll want to have something dry to put on.
toiletries and hygiene supplies
Toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor, tampons, that sort of stuff. You know what you need.
outerwear, as appropriate to the climate and the season
A light raincoat, a light pair of gloves, a light wool hat, and a light wool sweater, should cover most of the continental US during most of the year.
medications
Prescription and over-the-counter, as appropriate. I recommend the Three T’s: Tylenol, Tic-Tacs, and Tums. If you’re using prescription meds, I recommend rotating them like you do the batteries in your urban bag. The freshest ones are in your deployment/evacuation bag. Use the next-oldest ones. When you get a new scrip filled, put it in the bag, take out the meds that were there, and use them.
snacks
There’s a lot to be said for hard candy “jawbreakers.” You’re looking for long shelf-life, and high calories.
reading material, deck of cards, or other entertainment
Because after three days in a shelter the boredom will be the worst of it.
pen
For note taking, as you’d expect.
notepad
To go with that pen. And, again, to leave notes for people so they’ll know that the rally point is Aunt Gertrude’s summer place on Lake Starvation.
inventory list
To make sure you haven’t forgotten anything when you pack/repack the kit.

Make a kit for every individual. Small children who can walk are capable of toting a small backpack. Babes-in-arms … there exist backpacks and chest packs for carrying the wee mite. Consider using a stroller. Diaper bags (with shoulder straps) are things of wonder and most mothers have a wide array of necessities in ‘em. For the urban bags, consider making two kits: one for home, one for office.

Once you’ve made your kit, put it on and walk for a mile or three. How does it feel?

Remember to keep your car fueled. Half-a-tank is empty. Refuel if it gets down to the mid-point. (Gas stations may run out of gas; in a power failure gas pumps won’t work.) Stay calm, think things through. It’ll turn out okay.

Inside the kits, keep things separated, organized, and dry with plastic bags (resealable Baggies come in all sizes from sandwich up to two gallons).


† Okay, here’s how to make a field expedient daypack: Take a pair of pants that has belt loops. Tie the bottom of each leg closed with your favorite constrictor knot. (I favor the Miller’s Knot, but if all you know is the Clove Hitch, a Clove Hitch it is.)

Zip and button the top of the pants. Tie the legs to the belt loops. This makes the shoulder straps for the pack. Put another cord through the belt loops. This makes a drawstring to close the pack.

There you have it: a daypack. Sufficient to allow you to carry stuff, keep your hands free, and, as an added bonus, gives you a spare pair of pants.


Copyright © 2007 by James D. Macdonald

This post is presented for entertainment purposes only. Nothing here is meant to be advice for your particular condition or situation.

Creative Commons License
Go Bags by James D. Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

(Attribution URL: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009528.html)


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Comments on Go Bags:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 05:37 PM:

I believe that the FEMA lists mentioned are here.

#2 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 05:48 PM:

This is valuable info.

Living near Houston, tropical weather would be the biggest threat, so I'll probably prepare something similar for my wife and myself. We also have a small pair of walkie-talkies, and since cell phone channels can be jammed, they could be useful.

If you can't connect on a cell phone, send a text message - they are queued up and delivered when conditions allow.

#3 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Tums and Tylenol I understand, but why the Tic-Tacs? Unless that's a "so that your breath isn't hideous after three days without a toothbrush" item, rather than some medical use I haven't thought of...

#4 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Socks:

I was just at Costco, and at least at my local Costco, they are selling 4 pairs of good wool hiking socks for $9.99. Two weeks ago I paid $8.99/pair for identical socks at a specialty hiking store. They're thick, good-quality and very comfortable, and at least 85% wool. I recommend checking it out -- don't know whether Costco's inventory is totally nationwide, but I wouldn't be surprised. These are the socks I would want in a survival situation, especially a situation where I might have to walk for a long way.

Flashlights:

I like the LED ones that work off Faraday's Principle of Induction (as can be found at ThinkGeek). No batteries needed.

Also, I linked the jump kit page in a comment on Lifehacker recently (commenters were asked to weigh in on what they'd grab in 30 minutes in the event of a wildfire). I'm a hypocrite, though, because I haven't put together my urban bag yet.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:23 PM:

My local Costco has windup LED flashlights in 4-packs for $20. One for home, one for the car, one for work ....

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:27 PM:

The comment thread at Lifehacker that Caroline mentions seems to be here.

#7 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:43 PM:

It is impossible to have too many ZipLoc bags. They're up there with the LED flashlight as the most useful thing I carry with me.

Things I've really missed while in emergency situations on the road: My written prescription for my asthma inhaler, back when they first put through the liquids and gels ban and started tossing all prescription meds without attached prescription printouts. And warm clothing, during last year's October Surprise blizzard in Buffalo, when my rental car got covered in two feet of snow and I got to dig it out wearing socks for mittens and a scarf wrapped around my head as a hat. I've been carrying a spare pair of gloves and a fleece headband in my computer bag ever since.

#8 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:55 PM:

Caroline @ 4: The induction-powered lights are great and really appeal to the geek in me but I am disappointed at Think Geek for not including the warning that the manufacturer, other retailers and reviewers mention:

NB: The charging magnet is made of anisotropic sintered ceramic containing neodymium, iron and boron. There are two other neodymium magnets inside the torch, one at either end of the case to provide a magnetic cushion for the charging magnet. Because these magnets produce such strong magnetic fields, you need to be careful around credit cards and magnetic computer media. Please read the warning information included in the box.

I doubt you'll be putting anything magnetically sensitive in your go bag prior to an emergency but I know a lot of people whose first response to the need to evacuate would be to grab the backup hard drive and shove it in whatever bag was closest. Putting the light into a pocket with a wallet containing credit cards would also be bad.

#9 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 07:53 PM:

>I've figured out that there's no way I could possibly carry as many items as they list (I'd be dying from the weight of the bottles of water alone), and get myself and my cat and my husband out of the house in ten minutes.

Well, there's your obvious 1st answer; get the cat a rucksack...

And to add to Jim's lists: Condoms. Not for the obvious. They make great water carriers, can waterproof anything they'll stretch over and they'll stretch a loooong way, keep dust out of anything pipe-like, make great tourniquets... Only limited by your imagination and take up negligable room and weight.

Also, consider a pencil instead of a pen. They don't dry up, freeze or leak and write on a much wider range of surfaces than pen including wet ones.

Finally, a length of gaffa tape. Just make your own mini reel of it from any suitable core former: a ballpoint case, film can, whatever. Gaffa will repair ripped clothes, tents, in fact anything in a pinch.

#10 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I kill flashlights. Have managed to kill an induction one and also a AA LED one in the last two years. Don't ask me what happened, I pull them out of my purse to find the car in the dark, and... they don't.

The magnet in the induction on was good for picking Canadian quarters out of my change jar, though (Canadian quarters are magnet sensitive, US quarters aren't. I don't remember about dimes and nickels.)

#11 ::: glinda, who is not necessarily good ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:07 PM:

This probably goes under prescriptions and other medications:

If you wear glasses, when you get a new pair, put the old one in with the emergency supplies. Also, those glasses repair kits are useful to have around.

I've got my stuff in a rolling small suitcase rather than backpack, as one of my shoulders is so messed up, a backpack is impossible. *sigh* If emergency evacuation happened, it'd be one hand for the suitcase, the other for the cane, and ghods help me if I need to walk more than three or four blocks, 'cause I can't.

Friends got me a two-burner propane stove for the holidays last year, after the several-days-of-no-power. If you can stay at home, but the weather's cold, having warm soup/drinks is not a bad thing.

(And yes, I do the rotate-the-prescriptions, but only every three to six months - they're still nowhere near the expiration date.)

#12 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Are wind-up LED torches available in the USA? Some of them come with a built-in radio, and have mobile phone charging connectors suitable for Nokia, Motorola and some other models. You crank the handle for a few minutes, and it produces enough power for about twenty minutes of light, one or two minutes of phone use, and so on.

#13 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:44 PM:

Here are some windup flashlights: http://www.21st-century-goods.com/page/21st/CTGY/HCKP

Keep size and weight in your thoughts when you're selecting gear.

About the heaviest thing in my urban kit is the roll of quarters, but if you leave that at home you'll wish you hadn't. Other stuff ... use your best judgment.

#14 ::: L ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 09:28 PM:

A couple of nifty things you can pick up at your local army surplus - type store: water-resistant notepads and a large backpack with a hydration system. We have one of these packs that we use as a weekender. It holds an amazing amount of stuff, has a zillion pockets, multiple handle for various carrying configurations, and a built-in camel pack for water.
I'm from Oklahoma and have been through my share of tornadoes. My family always thought I was nuts because I would grab my purse and put on tennis shoes whenever the sirens sounded. Then we weathered the massive tornado outbreak in May of 1999. They realized the shoes protect your feet from debris after the storm, and that your body is much easier to ID if your wallet is on you. Morbid, but important. Also, it's much easier to withdraw money from your bank for a hotel, new clothes, and food if you have ID on you.

#15 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:02 PM:

one AA flashlight...one AA transistor radio...one pre-paid phone card...lists of phone numbers

All of these (and GPS) are built into mobile phones - though a spare phone card (if there's still payphones left where you are) and a list on paper is probably good to have if (when) your battery runs out.

#16 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Relying on a mobile phone in a major emergency as a source of light or a substitute for a radio is great until its battery runs out. AA batteries are obtainable very easily - in a pinch they can be found (or looted) in any convenience store, supermarket, hardware store... etc. Power to recharge a mobile phone might not be so easy to come by.

#17 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Note that about $12 dollars in quarters fits nicely into an M&M Minis tube (the small one - the large one holds quite a bit more, but is unwieldy - the small one fits in a back pocket). The minis tubes are water-resistant, but not actually water-tight - they will survive casual water exposure, but dedicated submerging will eventually soak the stuff inside.

Roy Ovrebo #15 -
one AA flashlight...one AA transistor radio...one pre-paid phone card...lists of phone numbers

All of these (and GPS) are built into mobile phones - though a spare phone card (if there's still payphones left where you are) and a list on paper is probably good to have if (when) your battery runs out.

This presumes your phone is anything other that an expensive paperweight when the towers are down - some are, some aren't. It also presumes a level of mobile sophistication that is often lacking in most US-branded cell phones (US phones tend to stress smartphone tech over things like am/fm/weather receivers, or flashlights - and although the LCD on a cell can make a surprisingly effective impromptu light source, it's not very long ranged, bright, or useful for things like signaling, or putting a bit of light - right there.

The hand crank flashlights, radios, etc. are good for an evac kit (especially a more complete one intended to get you well away from the disaster site), or as part of your car's emergency kit (your car does have a separate emergency kit, tailored for your area's most common auto disaster types*, right?), but in your urban "get the hell home, and it's dark" - a micro-size multi-band radio and a pair of ear buds is likely more useful. And LED flashlights come in sizes ranging down to 'absolutely tiny' - I carry a pretty bright Inova in my back pocket (with my wallet and a Leatherman) - and it isn't even small, as such things go.

I would add another stash of money - maybe two hundred dollars - in the evacuation bag, along with another roll of quarters. Like many of the things on this list (including the bag itself) these may not be necessary - but if the situation is worse than "stabilize in a couple of days", that extra cash can make a difference between staying in a cheap hotel, staying in the public shelter - or staying nowhere at all.

*So mine has, in addition to the usual basic auto tools, spare fuses, full-size spare tire, jumper cables, and the like, a pair of winter gloves and a pullover hat, a change of footwear, wool shirt and socks, a sweatshirt, a container of ice-melter crystals, a small entrenching tool, some water, some gatoraid, a spare umbrella, and the like - covering rain, dehydration from events, and SNOW. I don't keep radiator fluid in the car, because the chances of a well-maintained auto overheating in the Rochester area is fairly minimal - but I have a jug of washer fluid, because you can go through it pretty quickly

#18 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:39 PM:

I'm fairly sure that the mobile phone networks will overload in emergency; they don't have the capacity for simultaneous calls that the wireline networks have. Still, a day or two on, a mobile phone might be useful.

#19 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:45 PM:

It has just occurred to me that in a major emergency mobile phone networks may be overloaded or damaged to some extent. CB radio may be the answer, but then we have the problems of weight, bulk and power requirements. Wind-up CB radio, anybody?

#20 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:50 PM:

A normal watch or travel clock. I know too many people that use their cell phone to tell time and are screwed without it. Important to know the time for spacing the dose of some medications; also if the news reports storm to make landfall at 7pm.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Anti-chafing ointment: you can get the dignified stuff for grownups that Jim recommends; but the stuff they sell to prevent baby diaper rash, like Balmex, will work just fine -- and you can find it in every drugstore.

#22 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:00 PM:

I don't know about wind-up CB radios, but I have a pretty small battery-operated hand-held one. It lives in the car. Tune to channel 9 for emergency transmissions.

Good lists. But not enough water.

I've realized lately that I'm less likely to need to take off to a safe place, and more likely to want to provide refuge for others at my house (way out in the desert). I keep thinking about generators. I'd like to get a solar generator for the well.

#23 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:00 PM:

You definitely need to presume that the cell system will overload/get knocked out/be nonfunctional for other reasons in any major crisis - if you have one, great, but don't count on it. Same goes for local broadband service (especially wireless, for those places that have city-wide wifi) - don't count on the crackberry, wireless push on your smartphone, etc. Alternate communication systems - and even landline phones can get overloaded in a crisis (but they do work even if all other power is shot - unless you have a wireless phone, in which case all bets are off).

#24 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:07 PM:

I'm thinking that if you can't carry the weight of water then how about the sanitizing iodine tablets for water and a good shatter proof container like a stainless steel flask.

#25 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Beth: like a photovoltaic array with battery backup? A decent setup could provide power for other applications as well (probably not enough for cooking or airconditioning).


#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:30 PM:

By the time you're carrying a gallon and a half of water you're well into the Roughing It / Camping Out mode, and well away from Get From Home To A Shelter mode.

You can get little straws that have filters in 'em that'll allow you to sip darn-near any water, if that's what's on your mind. http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2005/05/lifestraw.html

#27 ::: Allen J. Baum ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Don't some of those windup radio/flashlight thingies have a DC-out plug? They could be used as an emergency battery (depending on voltage, etc).

The solar charger is a great idea as well, and less tiring.

If you're worried about infrastructure breakdown, then some kind of water filter is a really good idea. Someone just told me about one that works via ultraviolet - and it has a solar recharging option.

#28 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:35 PM:

On water - my evac bag (coincidentally, also my camping backpack - kept topped off at all times) has both tablets and a small water filter - you can buy (semi-)expensive Katadyn filters like mine, or cheap disposable units that will clean up x gallons of water, at most camping/outdoors stores (certainly at Gander Mountain, or EMS, likely at Dick's). There are also water bottles with built-in filters (the nice folks at Britta make a water bottle with an activated carbon filter - I don't know if it will keep the giardia away, but it does a pretty good job of turning marginal water into drinkable water, and the filter is replaceable).

Nalgene bottles (made by Nalge plastics, here in Rochester, NY) are damn near unbreakable, don't contaminate water, etc. - highly recommended. They also make polypaper, which is damn near indestructible - you need a knife or scissors to cut it, it resists chemicals, even flame, but you can write on it with anything. Rite in the Rain makes a similar product, and is likely cheaper and more compatible with jump bag needs (the polypaper is available mostly in normal laser printer pages and scientific notebooks).

#29 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:45 PM:

Thanks for posting this-- I'll probably get one together soon, just enough to get to shelter. I hadn't thought of triaging the bags like this; my zombie-apocalypse plan is 'get home to family' and I hadn't amended it to include any more plausible problems. This in spite of being rather inconvenienced by a few hours without electricity.

#30 ::: Ian Ireland ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:56 PM:

re: Teresa @ #21:

As a father of two under three, I recommend specifically Desitin Original over either Balmex or Desitin Creamy. For diaper rash applications the higher Zinc Oxide content (40% vs, I think, about 15%) works (I think) as a better moisture barrier.

I don't know for certain that that's better against chafing, but I promise you it's better against diaper rash.

#31 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:04 AM:

On the batteries v mobile phones issue. One of the things I was very keen about in my antepenultimate mobile phone – an analogue Alcatel model I had to discard cos of the shift to digital – was the ability to fit it with ordinary AA batteries as well as the special rechargeable mobile ones.

I haven't yet found a more modern model with this feature in Australia. But I have used my phone as an emergency light, clock with alarm, timer, calculator, and container for useful info like names and addresses. It would be great if, even without a working phone system, I could put in batteries to keep it working longer.

#32 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:09 AM:

This isn't about emergency survival kits, but about what you want to have with you if you have to leave and don't know if home will be there when you get back.

Make a list now of what you need to be able to grab quickly, or have in duplicate elsewhere, in those circumstances. Things like family pictures, financial documents, important papers like birth certificates and so on. Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, many of these things, like the family pictures, can be recorded and stored on things like flash drives, but that's no help if you haven't taken the steps to copy them.

Stop and ask yourself now: What paperwork is essential to recreating my life? What items are truly not replaceable? What can I do to make sure thse things can be saved if at all possible? Then do something about it.


#33 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:11 AM:

FWIW, I live in the SoCal San Bernardino mountains, although we were never personally in danger from the latest round of fires. However, I took advantage of the situation to link to your previous treatises on preparedness (down at the bottom), including a link to the Doyle/MacDonald jump kit lists. Thank you so much for the info -- it does help when there's something you can do to prep for this sort of thing.

#34 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:12 AM:

Jim, I'm obsessive about water: I live in the desert. We keep two gallons in each car at all times. A human needs a half gallon a day to survive out here, and you won't find anything to use tablets or straws on, unless you are very smart indeed about desert survival.

My survival kits have hats and sunscreen in them, too. A space blanket can be rigged for shade, as well as saving your ass in a cold night. I also recommend light rope for a car emergency kit, and string for a backpack kit.

#35 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:22 AM:

Mez: you can use some wind-up LED torches as phone chargers -- they come with a set of mobile phone connectors. The "Nelson" models that you can buy at Woolworths seem reliable (I have several). The drawback is that you may be cranking the thing for a rather long time...

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:24 AM:

You'll find things like 100' of parachute cord in my wilderness pack. You'll naturally tailor your pack to your local situation and needs. Someone who lives way out in the desert will have a different loadout from someone who lives in downtown Boston whose biggest problem will be "How do I get to Cambridge (or, if the world really falls apart, Albany?)"

I'm looking for A Kit To Take if the Gas Company Guy says, "There's a Leak, Get Out!"

#37 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:44 AM:

Umm, is there some particular reason this thread was posted now instead of some other time? Should I be panicking now?

I guess I shouldn't have watched that durned apocalyptic Nostradamus show on the History channel earlier this evening. heh.

#38 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:46 AM:

De-lurking to second Fade Manley's question at #3--what is it with the Tic-Tacs?

#39 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:49 AM:

I have one of those little gadgets that allows you to charge up a cell phone with 2 AA batteries. The charge lasts about a day. A car charger never comes amiss, either--and you can use it when the power's out.

Living reasonably close to DC for 37 years, I've always operated under the assumption that a crisis will either be instantaneously fatal or merely annoying. So far so good, although after various panics over the years I have a small stash of stale stuff I've never touched.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:16 AM:

Beth, there aren't many people I think might need an area control device in event of serious social disorder, but you're one of them.

A generator would come first, though. Nothing matters more than water. Spare gasoline's also good. You're a long way from everything.

#41 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 03:19 AM:

beth@22: I'd like to get a solar generator for the well.

A hot water heater holds about 30 gallons of water. It usually has a hose connection at the bottom for draining/flushing. That should make a pretty good water storage device for the house. At least to outlast a short term disaster that puts out your power.

Whatever happened to the old hand pumped wells anyway? I think my grandparents farm had one. No electricity required at all.

#42 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:41 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 15:
This presumes your phone is anything other that an expensive paperweight when the towers are down - some are, some aren't. It also presumes a level of mobile sophistication that is often lacking in most US-branded cell phones (US phones tend to stress smartphone tech over things like am/fm/weather receivers, or flashlights - and although the LCD on a cell can make a surprisingly effective impromptu light source, it's not very long ranged, bright, or useful for things like signaling, or putting a bit of light - right there.

Fair enough - but for those of us in the rest of the world, it can be useful. And the torch and radio functions of many phones are obscure enough I suspect many people are unaware they exist.

Joy @ 39:
a crisis will either be instantaneously fatal or merely annoying

The last time we had a significant crisis in this part of Norway was from 1940-45, and there's no bag that would help for that...

#43 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:09 AM:

There's a thought: the Grab This If Nazis Are Invading Your Country kit, containing a self-inflating rubber lifeboat and a Norwegian-English phrasebook with phrases like "Please help, the Germans have conquered my country!" (which will, of course, translate to "My self-inflating rubber lifeboat is full of eels!")

#44 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:41 AM:

Found just now on ebay: a wind-up LED flashlight with built-in AM/FM radio, emergency siren, and mobile phone charger. Waterproof, natch, and it takes a 5v input if you want to charge it off a car battery or similar. Yes, I have a low saving throw vs. shiny, but this one looks useful enough that if it does as advertised, I'll be buying another one to keep in the car, and maybe a few more as seasonal presents. (I figure a present that can save your ass in an emergency is worth far more than any number of knitted socks and novelty Santas.)

I will confess to not keeping a go bag to hand, due to working in the place I live, right in the middle of a big city in a country with a temperate climate and few disasters in living memory. On the other hand, I know where to grab [nearly] everything in ten minutes flat ...

#45 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:56 AM:

Thanks for the list, but I was wondering about those of us who use meds (in this case insulin, lantus, symlin) that need to be injected and temp controlled. Insurance being what it is, I never have much of a surplus on hand and if the power goes out and it is either summer or winter I risk spoiling the meds anyway. I can live without the lantus and symlin if I have to and use the rapid insulin more frequently and in higher doses. Of course, that assumes I don't run out of test strips or the meter doesn't die. And then there is the danger of lows.

I have always assumed that in the case of a long term serious disruption of services and supplies my diabetes will simply be uncontrolled.

That said, I plan to put together the urban (or suburban in my case) kits for work and home and to have stuff in the car as well.

#46 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:59 AM:

In addition to the other chafing relief/prevention preparations, anti-perspirant also works in a pinch. The solids are best for this, I've found.

#47 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:12 AM:

AA batteries: please do not store them in the device that uses them.*

*unless you have a spare device that is empty. I've had rotten, rotten luck for the longest time with leaving any kind of alkaline batteries in anything. Also, don't get smart and use rechargeable lithium batteries. Lithium is not water-compatible. (Though if you really, really, need to start a fire, and can breathe toxic gas...)

#48 ::: P G Dudda ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:03 AM:

For cellphones in emergencies: turn it off as soon as the emergency strikes, to help extend battery life. Also, store important data on the SIM card, so you don't depend on the existence of a network to retrieve the data.

#49 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:39 AM:

amysue, #45: use a backpack cooler for your meds--in summer emergencies, fill it with ice, in winter use warm water. If possible, head for a hospital; hospitals have their own generators.

#50 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:45 AM:

This may not be the best place to mention it, but the Disaster theme reminds me of some TV ads I saw yesterday, for Wil Smith in a film version of I Am Legend. Has anyone else seen these, or did all of this crowd ignore the World Series? (Don't know how well it's adapted, but Smith certainly looks hot.)

As for the ads for the Beowulf adaptation, argh!!

And now back to your regularly scheduled serious discussion.

#51 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:25 AM:

I saw the "I am Legend" trailers too. Smith living in a post-disaster NYC, competing with the escaped zoo predators for deer and raising crops in Central Park. Makes me wonder WTF happened since he describes himself as the only man in the city, though.

#52 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:39 AM:

This might sound a bit silly, but I was wondering what it would take to have a wireless network running through an emergency? I'm thinking more of a city here, but how many transmitters would you need, of what density, and with what power source? I know nothing about it all, but can easily imagine a network of local wireless connections that overlap and can effectively replace the mobile phone services for a day or two until things get sorted out.

#53 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Paul Duncanson back at 8, you make a good point. Especially since I do have a tiny portable HD (on which I keep a bootable duplicate of my laptop HD) that I probably would take with me if I couldn't grab the laptop.

I'm trying to think of reasons that I might need to evacuate. Hurricanes are not likely, since we're inland, but in my lifetime there has been one (Fran) that made it all the way here still at Category 1. Power was out 8 days and most roads were blocked for at least a day or two. We just stayed at the house until the roads got cleared, although we did hike to the grocery store.

We do get ice storms, and I'm frankly expecting a doozy this winter because the weather has been so messed up here. You can't do a lot of evacuating in an ice storm, even though the power gets knocked out. Driving is a Very Bad Idea. Walking is almost as bad. I've got gas-heated water and a wood-burning fireplace, so it's chiefly important to keep wood around, and food I can cook over an open flame.

Both of those would come with enough warning that I would be at home rather than at work.

A meltdown at the nuclear power plant, if the winds were wrong, could force an evacuation. That would be by car. The important thing is to keep the gas tank full, which I do.

Currently impending emergency: The city is running out of water. At last count we had 67 days of water remaining, and no expectation of sustained rainy weather until next February at the earliest. I don't know what the worst-case is. I'm stockpiling cases of drinking water.

#54 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo (42):
The last time we had a significant crisis in this part of Norway was from 1940-45, and there's no bag that would help for that...
I don't know, let's see, minimum contents would be a large box of paperclips to share and a small, hideable, radio transceiver.

#55 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:17 PM:

#52 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:39 AM:
This might sound a bit silly, but I was wondering what it would take to have a wireless network running through an emergency? I'm thinking more of a city here, but how many transmitters would you need, of what density, and with what power source? I know nothing about it all, but can easily imagine a network of local wireless connections that overlap and can effectively replace the mobile phone services for a day or two until things get sorted out.

Depends a lot on how the network was originally designed - and the disaster in question. If it's all-wireless, with no/little cabling involved, and each repeater station had its own independent power source (solar panels with long-life battery backup?) then possibly. But I suspect most community-based wifi projects are not set up to be that fault-tolerant.

What might be more useful would be some sort of mesh networking system (maybe using a mix of devices - Skype-like "netphones", PDAs/laptops, etc. - possibly with centralized data repeaters, or air-droppable communication repeaters/sensors). This kind of ad-hoc network would develop organically (as devices come on line, they add to the overall coverage), and if things like the deployable repeaters are built cheap enough, could be quickly set up where necessary. You'd need to set it up so that devices not normally part of it could still tie in (set it up with an SSID, etc.) to allow non-repeater devices to connect, although ideally it would be a technology that would be incorporated into many different devices (possibly at the chipset level).

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Ian 30: As a father of two under three

My first thought reading this was "isn't two always under three?" A couple of picoseconds later I realized what you meant, but it was an interesting couple of picos there!

Teresa 40: Beth, there aren't many people I think might need an area control device in event of serious social disorder, but you're one of them.

What is an area control device, and why does beth need one?

#57 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Caroline,

I went through Fran back then too, here in Raleigh. Lost power for about 36 hours, but by the morning after the roads were cleared of trees by enthusiastic chainsaw wielders; there was just no place to go.

What was worse was the sudden ice storm that hit Raleigh a few years ago. It was very cold (sub 20 degrees) that day, and the forecast was for "less than an inch" of snow. Except, every single flake that fell didn't melt, at least until it was run over by a car. Then it did, and instantly refroze into a thin but slick sheet of ice.

Instant chaos on every single road in the region. Commutes that took 15 minutes from work to home took 10 hours or more; many people just stayed at work and slept there overnight. Every intersection had a crash; every hill had a line of stuck cars. Anyone with an emergency situation were SOL because no one could get anywhere through the stalled traffic.

We were fortunate; I had taken my wife to the dentist for oral surgery early that morning, and we were already home when the snow fell. But, for all those trying to get home or staying at work having an emergency bag would have come in handy, especially for those with small children with them.

#58 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:42 PM:

#54, John Houghton, and Roy G. Ovrebo (42):

I don't know, let's see, minimum contents would be a large box of paperclips to share and a small, hideable, radio transceiver.

Paperclips? Is this in reference to the national myth of Johan Vaaler and the paperclip patent?

#59 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I've spent a lot of time backpacking in remote areas and can chime in "foot protection!" here. Because it really sucks to have ten miles to go and you've got a blister the size of texas on the sole of a foot.

To prevent blisters:

Cover expected hot spots with a piece of duct tape -- i.e., if you know you're prone to blisters on your heels or the soles of your feet, slap a piece of duct tape there. This works amazingly well.

If you do get a blister, cover the moleskin Jim suggested with duct tape. Moleskin, at least in my experience, will come off eventually. Duct tape helps it stick.

I also wear two pairs of socks -- a hydrophilic (water-shedding) inner sock that is made of a synthetic material and is nice and smooth and thin, plus thick, comfy cotton outer socks. Note that most people should opt for wool for their outer socks but I'm allergic to it, so I use the thickest cotton socks I can find. Cotton is not as warm as wool and takes longer to dry out, but neither is a real concern in my neck of the woods ... I'm in Arizona.

Shoes should be broken in without being broken down. I keep a good pair of hiking boots in my car at all times -- they've saved my butt once when a wash was flooded and I couldn't drive through it (knee deep -- it could be waded through) and I had to walk three miles home and I had on heels. :-)

Also, for those of you including animals in your evacuation plans -- it bears emphasizing and repeating that you need a collar or harness, ID, leash, plus a carrier for small animals, for every animal you plan to take with you in an evac situation. Plus keep a copy of necessary papers -- rabies and shot records for dogs/cats, Coggins or brand inspection paperwork for horses, etc. in your go bag. Whatever you need to travel with the animal, have it ready. Microchips are also not a bad idea for valuable livestock or pets. It's not unheard of for animals to be "adopted" by "rescuers" who refuse to give them back later ...

And leave the critters behind if it comes to that. Human life is more valuable than animal life.

-- Leva

#60 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:01 PM:

midori #58: I believe Norwegians wore paperclips on their lapels as a sign of solidarity and resistance.

#61 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Hello. Long time lurker, never posted before, but, what the heck. Umm... I'm not sure how to quote...

Guthrie at 52: This might sound a bit silly, but I was wondering what it would take to have a wireless network running through an emergency?

Don't know if this is what you mean, and it's been a while since I worked for a cell-phone company, but I know that Ericsson and Lucent at least both have emergency portable cell towers. I think they call them COWs (cell on wheels). I know they were deployed in the last biggish LA earthquake; I couldn't say if they were used in any emergencies later than that.

Well, there's my first post. Hopefully, not completely useless.

Er... we now return you to your regularly scheduled posters.

#62 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Not in the grab-and-run category, but something to think about: two or three days down the line you're in a shelter, and people are getting bored. What things are there which could help pass the time?

No computer games.

A guitar is a bit awkward. Nothing that depends on electricity. But something as disposable as a penny-whistle could easily be kept in your car, maybe even a jump-bag.

And remember that the people we usually hang out with are unusual. How many people, even in the boom-time of RPGs, would play D&D? (Though a simple set of rules combined with patience and imagination could help with a group of kids. Don't forget some dice.)

Basically, there's all sorts of things that would take up no more space than a road atlas, and could help keep you sane.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Cheryl 61: Quoting is manual, and you did it just right. And that was useful information, though I read guthrie as speaking of using wireless LAN connections to make a substitute communication network when the phone services are down. Rereading him I think I'm probably wrong, and you're right.

Anyway, good first post! Welcome to the Commentariat.

#64 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Thanks for the list, Jim. I'll bump "pack go bag" up on my to-do list; it's been languishing there at the bottom for a long time now.

The question about what would keep a wi-fi network going reminded me of this article at The Straight Dope. It's quite possible I originally saw the link here, but it turns out its also interesting as a re-read.

As far as entertainment, a skein of sock yarn or two will do me nicely. We used a similar question as our ice-breaker at my knitting group the other night: what luxury item would you pack in your emergency kit? It turns out we mostly want chocolate and the-internet-in-a-bag.

#65 ::: Tamago ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Regarding babes-in-arms, anything and everything you ever wanted to know about baby carrying devices can probably be found (or found as a link from) thebabywearer.com. You can find information on nearly every kind of baby carrying device, how to make them, where to buy them, how to wear them comfortably and safely and a responsive message forum.

One of the most popular types of carriers, the wrap sling, is nothing more than a length of sturdily woven fabric that you wind about yourself to provide a safe comfy place for baby to sit or recline. The high end german woven wraps like Didymos or Storchenweige are expensive, but if I could only grab one bit of baby kit for an evacuation, I'd grab my 5.2 meter Storch. The Storchenweige site actually has pictures of one of their slings used to tow a car out of icy slush. With it I can carry my baby on my back, my front or my hip, it fits both me and my husband, it's infinitely adjustable, and folds down much smaller than a stroller can. It can also do double duty as a changing pad, swaddle blanket, toddler tether, extra warm layer, sunshade, etc...

In an emergency, though, you can fashion a one-shouldered baby sling from a folded bedsheet. It doesn't have quite the same level of comfort, but it's much, much more comfortable than having your arms drop off from carrying your baby, and makes it possible to travel with relative ease and comfort through terrain a stroller finds difficult.

#66 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Dave @ #62: I carry a deck of cards and a set of miniature dice with me everywhere in one of those tins meant for CCG decks. You've got about a billion games right there, and there's still room in the tin for a Cheapass card game of your choice. (This is really more of a life-with-small-child rather than disaster survival tip, but hey, the two aren't always so different.)

#67 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Dave Bell (#62): A standard deck of cards allows for a number of games, of course.

Other small games that are usually in my backpack, not for emergency go-bag use but just because I'm too lazy to keep removing and re-packing them: No Thanks!, Fluxx (currently Zombie Fluxx), Wizard (the Amigo Spiele edition since it has better art), and Bohnanza (also the Amigo edition; it only plays 5 players but comes in a smaller box than the US edition).

These are all small enough to fit into a small sealable plastic bag for weatherproofing, also.

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Dave 62: My friend Dave (not you, another Dave) invented a rule system called ERP! (for Easy Role Playing) that has very simple rules indeed. I ran a bunch of teenagers using it when I was in Houston. It requires a bunch of ten-sideds, and no other dice. Leaves a lot of decisions up to the GM, but that's by design; it's designed for roleplaying rather than realistic combat.

10 pages of rules, or less if you don't format them pretty like I did. Character creation fits on less than a (Letter) page.

As for music, drums are useful. They can be used as a warning signal, as well as for music. Natural-skin drums, while they give the best sound, are problematic in most disaster scenarios: if the humidity is too high, they sound like cardboard; if too low, they break unless you wet them periodically, which means they'll break if water is scarce. Fortunately there are several kinds of artificial heads which are pretty good. I have a doumbek with a mylar head that sounds as good as any natural-skin doumbek I've ever played. It's heavy, though (ceramic), but you could use a mylar head on a light metal body.

Also, any single-head drum takes up very little actual space (anyway less than it looks like) because you can pack things inside it. I can go away for a weekend with only my djembe to carry, because all my other stuff is packed inside said djembe.

I'm a great advocate of singing. I think everyone should be taught that they should sing, even if they're no more talented than Florence Foster Jenkins. I've had the experience of singing with people who I was feeling really angry at (verge-of-violence angry, a state I was in much more often when I was young), and by the time the rehearsal was over, even though none of the issues were dealt with, feeling warm toward those same people.

I think if people sang together more often (as they used to before radio and recorded music), there would be less violence in the world. Certainly in a disaster scenario it would be worthwhile.

#69 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:12 PM:

I just got an LED flashlight that recharges itself (quickly) by squeezing a handle, thus being basically self-contained (and cheap).

And yet I note that Jim speaks of D cells and matching flashlights. ;-) Aside from not being heavy enough to club attackers with, how does my hand-charged light fail to moot the classic D-cell flashlight for emergency contexts?

#70 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:14 PM:

I'd forgotten the potential of a deck of cards.

Or, for those of us of a more English persuasion, a Cricket Bag.

(Actually, you have a bunch of people stuck in a sports stadium for several days, possibly with lots of wind and rain--it seems perfect for a game of cricket.)

#71 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Steffan O'Sullivan produced an RPG called Sherpa about a decade ago, which was designed for play on the trail. Pretty much everything fits on 3x5 cards, and the randomizer used is a digital stopwatch (or any other digital readout with a stopwatch function). I'm not sure if it's still in print, but it's likely one of the most light-weight (in multiple dimensions of the word) implementations of a game system I've seen.

#72 ::: VM ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 03:53 PM:

I have a dumb question. I've got a bad knee, so walking anywhere with a backpack (or anything heavy) is hard for me. I live in an urban area. Do you think one of those wheelie carts is a good idea for emergency pack or a bad one?

#73 ::: Ian Ireland ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Xopher @ #56: My first thought reading this was "isn't two always under three?" A couple of picoseconds later I realized what you meant, but it was an interesting couple of picos there!

Thank you. I'm glad that construction had its intended effect.

Tomago @ #65 I don't leave the house without one of three different types of baby-wearing device, but it's to the level that I don't even think of "packing" it ... it's just what the girl and I wear. Because the (older) boy is so active, it's the only way I can manage to keep up.

That said, do you have a pointer to an illustration or diagram of how to do that improvised sling? I took a quick look at thebabywearer.com's Babywearing DIY links section and didn't see anything that looked promising ...

thanks!

#74 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:01 PM:

For a game -- I've had an awful lot of fun with a folding fabric frisbee intended for a dog. Dog optional, as it can be used quite well for games between humans. Handy for running the energy off children. (Or dogs.)

The fabric frisbee is light weight, indestructible, too soft to cause any injuries, throws very well.

For quieter amusements, don't overlook the appeal of reading aloud from a book.

#75 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Other man-portable items worth considering, for a "worst case" preparedness plan:

Knives
Several good utility or hunting knives can make a world of difference, even in an urban setting. Gerber and Leatherman make excellent, foldable utility and all-purpose knives, as do several other companies. And of course, there is always the classic "Swiss" pocket knife, which comes in a dizzying assortment. Just make sure the knife is of high-quality, stainless metal. A cheap knife that breaks or rusts in moist conditions will be next to worthless.

Hatchets, hand axes, and axes
Whether you're carving yourself a place in the hills, or carving your way through a destroyed suburb, the ability to split wood is going to be vital. Get through fallen housing or doors to reach trapped people. Liberate firewood from a crushed duplex. And in a pinch, an axe wielded with a firm warning can scare off looters or other people come to do no good.

Firearms
Speaking of looters, nobody likes to think about it, but what happens if the looters come to you demanding your rations or other supplies? What if they won't take 'no' for an answer? Hungry and cold people can be desperate, and for every household that plans for the worst, there are plenty that do not. And unless you've bought loads of "extra" and are willing to share same, what can you do?

Defend yourself, your family, and your belongings.

handguns, unless very high-powered, aren't much good. By the time the mob closes to handgun range, it's probably too late. A couple of deer rifles, a couple of shotguns, these will be effective. Myself? I'd throw in a couple of AR15/M16 rifles, too. While the deer rifle can actually be used for deer or livestock, the AR15/M16 has greater magazine capacity, lighter ammunition, and in the hands of a trained marksperson, can fell a crowd of bad guys in seconds.

Hate the idea of shooting to kill? At least have shotguns with rock salt or bird shot. Even the appearance of a weapon in your hands will be enough to ward off 96% of anyone desperate or dumb enough to show up and make demands of any sort.

Again, hard to think about, but preparedness is one of those asymptotic things, where you are forever striving to be fully prepared; but can you actually every be prepared enough??

#76 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:06 PM:

It depends on the size of the wheels, I guess. They'd have to be big enough to handle fairly rough terrain and fat enough not to be wedged in gratings. It would be advantageous if they were designed to negotiate stairs as well.

#77 ::: Philomytha ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Ian #73, there are some good instructions for improvising slings out of other clothes at mamatoto, and instructions for using a bedsheet are here. I've never actually tried any of these methods - my improvised sling of choice is made by knotting the ends of an old pashmina together and using it like a ring sling.

#78 ::: Tamago ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Ian @ #73

There's a video tutorial on how to use a bedsheet as a baby sling and a thread (with photos!) about using bedsheets as carriers on The Babywearer.

Hope that helps!

#79 ::: blufive ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:07 PM:

"Sometimes called a fanny pack (and for our Brit friends, no, that's not what it sounds like)"

Brits will get it if you call it a "bum bag". Though quite what North Americans will make of that is something else again...

#80 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:13 PM:

VM at 72, I think the thing to remember is what you're doing. If you have to hike from the urban center to a field somewhere, or vice versa, your priorities will change. This particular packing list seems to be for getting from wherever you are to the nearby place with more supplies-- work to home, home to next town over, and not cross-country zombie apocalypse.

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:15 PM:

We aren't talking about last-ditch survival-of-the-fittest worst-case scenarios here.

Nor am I talking about blazing a trail across the Appalachians and homesteading in the woods.

I'm talking about going to the shelter when the river rises or a chlorine train derails, or getting back to the apartment when there's a blackout and the subways aren't running.

Hate to say it, but if I were in a survival situation and someone handed me an M-16, I'd break it over a rock and leave it there. Worthless waste of time, weight, and space.

#82 ::: VM ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:25 PM:

Re: #80 Diatryma: I wasn't talking about a zombie apocalypse. For me, any walk is hard. Shopping in the grocery store is hard. I could make it from work to home, but it would take me a couple days, if I lost my car and public transit went splat.

#83 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:33 PM:

blufive 79: Brits will get it if you call it a "bum bag". Though quite what North Americans will make of that is something else again...

A stuffed handkerchief on the end of a stick.

VM 82: I wasn't talking about a zombie apocalypse. For me, any walk is hard. Shopping in the grocery store is hard. I could make it from work to home, but it would take me a couple days, if I lost my car and public transit went splat.

VM, I think you're in the category of "persons needing assistance" in such a crisis. I remember the people who carried the wheelchair user down the stairs at the WTC, and so on.

Jim, any thoughts about things we able-bodied sorts might want to include to make it easier to assist those needing assistance? VM could probably be carried piggyback, but is there any especially efficient way to carry someone who can't assist at all, even by hanging on? Anything we might add to our own Go Bag to make it easier to do?

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:44 PM:

PRV, I don't know what kind of general emergencies you've actually weathered, but in the last few I've gone through, hand axes and firearms would have been perfectly useless and a burden besides. We could maybe have used a Gerber knife to cut up the oranges our walking party shared during the last NYC blackout, but it would have been overkill.

Have you noticed how light Jim's kit is? People will carry a go bag that weighs a pound, which is his target weight, and it won't be a burden on them during an evacuation. Exhaustion is a much bigger threat than human violence.

When I was growing up, one of the scenarios I worried about was a general emergency bad enough to convince the survivalist yahoos that the law of the jungle was now in force. At that point, all the country within 100-150 miles of town would have filled up with heavily armed idiots popping away at each other and the local livestock. It would have taken months to round them up, and in the meantime they'd be getting into all kinds of mischief: the last thing the overstressed social infrastructure needed to be dealing with right then.

You're a lot likelier to survive by helping your neighbors and letting them help you than you are by waving weapons at people.

#85 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Hey, sometimes zombie apocalypses happen.

(grin)

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Teresa, no, PRV is right. I'm getting those adamantium claws installed tomorrow!

#87 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:54 PM:

re: zombie apocalypse

Google tells me that 38,300 people use "zompocalypse," while only 516 prefer "zombocalypse." I think I'm going to have to go with the majority on this one; it rolls off the tongue much better, and there really aren't so many zom- words that you risk confusion with some other sort of apocalypse.

Just, y'know, in case anyone was wondering.

#88 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:03 PM:

One other thought...

Virtually any significant item, when carried on a lengthy walk or hike, is going to seem like a 'pointless burden'.

Until that narrow-chance circumstance when the item in question suddenly becomes vital.

Like I said, emergency preparedness is asymptotic.

Sure, you will probably never need a hand axe.

But the one time you do, you'll be damned glad if you have it.

#89 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Why, the same is true of a big rock! I've used one of those a lot oftener than I've had use for a gun or a hand axe.

#90 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:12 PM:

CRV, I think the difference is that this go-bag is for power outages, ten-second emergency evacuations, et cetera. I expect to move to somewhere that will have hand axes, and my pack only has to get me there. There's a different bag for stronger situations.
I'll make one of these for "ice storm power outage" more than anything, with the possibility of "oh, crap, there's a tornado headed for the house".

Your asymptotic thing reminds me of my own example-- a hot glue gun. You almost never need a hot glue gun, but when you do, you need a hot glue gun. Nothing else will do.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:14 PM:

CRV 88 (and sorry about using your old initials before): The same is true of many things. A chainsaw. A bag of ball bearings. A can of shark repellant.

I can come up with scenarios where any of those could save your life. But they don't have a high enough ratio of probable need/weight to merit inclusion. Neither does a hand axe. Neither do firearms.

Of course, if you're very strong, you can draw the total weight line lower on the list (assuming your list is sorted by the above ratio). But pack the hand axe on the top. It will carry better that way, and also it will be easier to throw it away when you're sinking in the flood waters (or whatever), or when exhaustion overtakes even you, superman that you are. :-)

#92 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:14 PM:

True fact, Diatryma.

#93 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Diatryma 90: I need a hot glue gun! I just realized I've needed one for years and just wasn't sure what I needed. But that's it! A hot glue gun will keep me from losing my mind or dying.

Now, to find a battery-operated or hand-cranked hot glue gun and put it in my Go bag...

#94 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:17 PM:

TNH @ #89: The difference being, you can find big rocks all over. They're just laying on the ground, waiting to be picked up. Not so much with more sophisticated tules. (wink)

Diatryma @ #90: Yes, Jim's "Go Bag" is for emergencies of the lightest variety. I suppose nobody was much in mind for my 'Rambo' suggestions. I guess when I think, "Emergency!" I think no power, no water, no cops, no firemen, for days and days.

It should be noted that I've saved Jim's list along with several others I collected from a different on-line source where this precise topic came up. And believe it or not, some of the suggestions from that forum were a helluva lot more 'Rambo' than mine! (he he)

Your glue gun comment is actually quite apt. Often, when you need a tool that specific, you really, really need it, and you will kick yourself 20 times for not having it when you need it.

#95 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Did I actually write "tules"?

(smacks self)

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:22 PM:

CRV, but that would justify carrying everything you ever use for which there is no substitute! (OK, even you wouldn't suggest including the corn-on-the-cob butter spreader, but hey.)

It's like the seat belt thing. Bet on exhaustion, dehydration, or hypothermia to kill you, and take steps to keep them from doing so. Other scenarios are much less likely. Planning for those scenarios and raising the probability of dying of exhaustion is foolish.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:24 PM:

CRV 95: Yes, you did. But we know you meant 'tulles'.

#98 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Xopher @ #96: good points.

I guess a small hand axe just doesn't seem like it would be a massive pain. And there have been one or two times in my life when I've very much needed a hatchet or hand axe, and not had one, and kicked myself endlessly for it, because I had hammers and screw drivers and other tools available; just not something that can split or chop through wood, wallboard, or other stuff in a hurry.

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Oh, well, it definitely belongs in your tool box. Just not in the fly-for-your-life bag.

#100 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:33 PM:

#84: "You're a lot likelier to survive by helping your neighbors and letting them help you than you are by waving weapons at people."

Amen. You beat me to it. I was going to write:

"The most effective survival tool is a functioning community."

In his blog, David Brin mentions that he spent part of Wildfire Week banging on doors as a CERT volunteer. The next step from "go bags" should be that sort of work, not an arsenal.

#101 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:33 PM:

One other note: keep in mind that my perspective is somewhat warped by my Army Reserve experience. To me, any "emergency" pack that weighs less than 20 pounds, is probably missing one or more very-important items. And anyone unable to hump a meager 20-pound pack for at least 10 miles, needs to hit the gym!

(remember: warped...)

#102 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Is anyone else thinking that, when an emergency or evacuation happens, CRV and similarly minded folk will be part of the problem?

In the types of "disasters" that most people will face - power outage, ice storm - short term supplies are about all that is needed. From everyone I know who's been through the bigger types of disasters (such as long term living in a war zone) the support of friends and the kindness of strangers was what keeps people alive.

After that, skill at trade - clothing for cigarettes, cigarettes for food, etc. - was the next tool needed. (Given how much less people smoke these days, I wonder what a good substituted would be for cigarettes when it comes to compact and in-demand trade goods?)

Being seen as dangerous (such as running around with a gun) was more likely to get people to hide and hoard their goods, rather than share or trade with you, since they reasonably feared that you were there to steal, and wouldn't let on even if they had what you needed and could spare it.

You can't accumulate everything you need for long-term survival in hard times, so planning in terms of guarding your stash just leaves you isolated and vulnerable. While your neighbors combine their scraps for stone soup, and have a hot dinner.

#103 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Jim, Interesting!

Re: Pocket knives. I carried one around for years, having spent large chunks of my life working around computers. Now, I can't. I can't have one when I work my part-time job at the airport. I can't have one when I fly. I can't legally bring one into some of the buildings I regularly go into.

In addition to a pocket knife, I'd also keep a non-electric can opener in a go-pack. And a battery-powered radio is a life saver.

Tic-Tacs/hard candy are both helpful when you don't have access to water - both can help relieve dry-mouth.

I'm not sure anyone mentioned having a First Aid book. I might not remember every detail of how to relieve shock or help immobilize a broken bone, but if I have a First Aid book, I'll be reminded.

As I've been reading your "list of things," I realize about half of those things are in a cabinet in the kitchen, about a quarter in master bedroom, and about a quarter of them with our camping gear. I think I'll grab the useful items from our camping gear and move them upstairs (we haven't camped in many years, but we kept everything).

Most of us have never had to evacuate, but most of us who live in the north have had to stay in place due to blizzards and power failures.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:37 PM:

CRV @ 98

I'd think a hammer would go through wallboard right well, since a doorknob will if the door swings open a bit fast and the stop is bad.

(Saw: tungsten-carbide rod saw and a couple of large paper-clips or safety pins. Not as good as if it's in a frame, but it will work. You won't be able to plunge-cut, but it'll cut through bars.)

#105 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:40 PM:

101, Community Radio Vet: I can probably handle a 20-pound pack and walk 10 miles with it.

Of course, it would take me about 10 hours. And I live so far back in the country these days, it's almost 10 miles to the nearest grocery store.

#106 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Regarding #84, this is a snippet from what I originally posted to a different forum last week...

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:52 pm,

Network with local church and neighbors as much as possible. Last thing you want during a disaster is to be the stranger on the block. Knowing who your neighbors are, and whether or not they can be trusted and/or relied upon during a true emergency, will go a long way towards ensuring that you and your family make it through OK. Identify the weak links. They're the ones most likely to turn to begging/looting. Keep an additional stash of food or consumables on hand strictly for giveaway. You don't have to immediately become The Roadwarrior if someone comes wanting food. Just make sure that what you give out is not from your family supply. Get in touch with local fire and police and hospital personnel, and have an idea what their disaster plans are; if they have any. Raise disaster awareness on your block. An entire block of prepared families could last for months, even totally cut off from civilization, if everyone is on their game and is willing to work with neighbors.

#107 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:46 PM:

I just think we're (maybe) talking about two different levels of emergency: the sort where you need a little kit of handy items to get you from point A (where the danger or inconvenience is) to point B (the safe place: home or a shelter); and the sort where the streets are blocked with flood debris, or big pieces of buildings, rioting, for more than a day or so. Maybe in an urban, hostile environment, after days without services, and zombies, I might want a weapon too (mind you, it'd be safer for everyone, including me, if I didn't have one). In that situation though, there are so many things you'd really want, that your go bag becomes a go station wagon, it's not the same thing at all as the go bag with a few get-you-to-safety items in it.

During her time in a DP camp in Germany, my grandmother traded cigarettes and homemade potato vodka for various things, including food and a small cast iron frying pan, which now hangs on my kitchen wall. I reckon chocolate and cash would be good trade goods now.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Last I checked, Hormel still sold Calf Brains in Milk Gravy.

This could be a handy trade item for dealing with zombies.

#109 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Question for the group:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

#110 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Hint: I wouldn't be the guy in the Skoal cap, if that makes people like Ursula feel any better.

#111 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:01 PM:

CRV #109

Here, in rural Australia, guy a) is probably some local farmer guy. I probably do handcrafts with his wife, and had his kid over on the weekend to play with my kid. Guy b) is all kinds of scary.

#112 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:07 PM:

ema @ #111:

Ooooooooookay.

Assume you know neither man at all.

Is B still "all kinds of scary"? Compared to A?

If so, why?

#113 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Question for the group:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

In both cases, hide until the person goes away. Particularly in times of social stress. Men with guns are not to be trusted.

#114 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:12 PM:

US military presence in my tiny town? Where is the Australian Army?

#115 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Ursula, that is a fascinating response.

Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

#116 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:17 PM:

ema,

We would assume in your case, of course, that the Sergeant in question is wearing Australian military kit and his chevrons point down instead of up.

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:18 PM:

ema 111: Yeah, guy b) would be all kinds of scary in Australia! I'd find an Australian soldier in analogous condition pretty scary in a US city too.

CRV 109: It would depend on what kind of disaster it was, and on my read of both men. "Wandering around the street" is scarier than "walking purposefully down the street" in a natural-disaster scenario, especially if the wandering is unsteady (implying intoxication).

But if the disaster is that a military coup has been staged and the US is under martial law, guy b) is much, much scarier. Even if guy a) is drunk.

So much depends on context. In a natural-disaster scenario, I'd probably be relatively glad to see the soldier, though I'd certainly wonder why he was alone. Good way for a looter to dress to avert suspicion, after all.

#118 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Seconding Ursula - anyone with a visible, obviously ready-to-use gun is not anyone I want to meet in a situation of social unrest. (Men or otherwise, although men get extra scary points.)

The uniform is NOT reassuring - do you know how many batshitinsane people I've met that have access to army surplus stores and guns? (Hint: I live in Texas)

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Ursula 113: Men with guns are not to be trusted.

I might even say "Men are not to be trusted with guns." Neither are women, but their behavior is a lot less hormone-driven than men's, especially when it comes to violence.

#120 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

In general, as a civilian, active military in your area is going to be a threat. First, because you have the full range of humans (good and bad) but they're definitely armed. And also because there is the sense that a soldier has that they're justified to use their weapons. Perhaps even ordered to. And if they think that "just following orders" is any type of excuse - forget it. There isn't much that's scarier.

In times of social stress, I'd hide if possible from anyone armed. Men are more troublesome in the way that men are always a greater threat to a woman - greater odds of rape than from an armed woman, etc.

In general, I'm not going to trust anyone willing to enter the US armed forces. (Or other armed forces with similar understandings of "orders" versus human morality.) If you're willing to subordinate your own morality and duty of humanity to military orders, then I'm not going to trust you to act humanely if I don't already know and approve of your orders.

If someone is willing to do something without knowing the reason, whether that reason is moral, and whether what they are being asked to do is a moral means to a moral ends, then they can't be trusted.

#121 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:24 PM:

CRV at 109, your post is -- sorry -- silly. The answer is: it depends on the situation. If the situation is one that doesn't call for weapons, then seeing a uniformed man with a gun is not going to make me feel any safer than seeing a man not in a uniform with a gun. And your choice of stereotypes makes me crazy. Deerhunter, anybody? Cue the dueling banjos. How about if your guy with the Skoal cap exchanges it for a Sikh turban (there's a big Sikh community in my town) am I supposed to be more or less scared?

Why don't you just say what you want to say, and let us respond to it, instead of attempting a not very useful version of the Socratic method.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:26 PM:

Ursula 120: Well, I don't agree with everything you say, but certainly military on the streets is a sign that things are bad, and keeping out of the way of the military—even avoiding their notice—strikes me as entirely reasonable.

#123 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Xopher,

I am asking these questions, mostly because of what happened with Katrina. Governor Blanco eventually sent General Honore in with the Guard, and the response all around was, for the most part, quite positive. The sight of uniformed, usually armed Army troops patrolling and restoring order did much to asuage fears and the feeling that they had been abandoned.

For myself, as an NCO in the USAR, it has always been a foregone conclusion in my mind that if a huge disaster hit, and I was at home, the first thing I'd do (assuming I was whole and in one piece) was put my uniform on and, after making sure my wife and daughter were OK, get out on the block and see what was going on, see who needed help, see what needed to be done, beyond simply making sure my own home was in order.

Again, merely seeing a uniformed servicemember can and has afforded people a good amount of psychological benefit, during a disaster. When the neighborhood has the idea that a government officer (of any description) is "on the job", much good can come of it.

Yet Ursula's response gives me pause. Would people be frightened? Angered? I've always assumed that most people would appreciate it, whether I was armed or not. Lord knows I'd be happy if anyone in my neighborhood, be he a cop, fireman, park ranger, whatever, came knocking on doors and took a quick census of problems or situations in each house.

One person, deciding to act and be a focal point for direction or flow of information, could radically alter the situation for the immediate neighborhood.

As a Soldier, in a major disaster, carrying a weapon would be largely a formality; a sign to anyone that with order and organization, comes the force to protect that order and organization.

#124 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:27 PM:

111# I agree with Ema ... that's my neighbor with the skoal cap. I'd likely ask him if he'd seen any trouble around and offer him a beverage in exchange for news and gossip about the disaster at hand.

The guy in the army uniform's an outsider, likely to tell me to do things I don't particularly want to do, possibly at the point of a gun.

#125 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Laurie D. T. Mann @ 103
Re. pocket knives. I agree. Lots of times I've been "prepared" for stuff going wrong by having my Leatherman or Swiss Army knife with me. Now I'm not supposed to have even my tiny 1.5 inch folding knife or tiny tweezers with me when I fly, and I have to risk the Leatherman getting stolen from my hold luggage. It can't be part of my normal "carry everywhere" if I'm travelling. This is a real pain.

P J Evans @ 104
Embryotomy wire and two metal rings (flexible saw): lighter and easier to pack.

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:34 PM:

CRV 123: But you said at the low-ready! That's anticipating needing to shoot on fairly short notice, nicht wahr? Doesn't sound like a formality to me. Slung, maybe.

And if you put on your uniform in my neighborhood, if I knew who you were, I'd assume you were trying to grab authority, and distrust your purpose in doing so.

Leva 124: What if you'd never seen the guy in the Skoal cap before, and the guy in the uniform was your neighbor, whose kids play with yours (if you have any)?

#127 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:34 PM:

I'm with Ursula on this basically - hide first. Xopher's comment @117 is also relevant.

In the UK, seeing a policeman (no gun) would be reassuring. Seeing a policeman with a gun is worrying. Seeing a soldier on the street, armed would not indicate a good situation. And I don't want to meet the first guy either.

#128 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Side note: obviously those with an inherent or visceral distrust of the military or military personnel are never, ever going to like seeing anyone in a military uniform anywhere near their homes or their families.

#129 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:37 PM:

CRV:

People with guns, whether or not they are in uniform, may want to impose their will on you using the business end of said guns.

This goes quadruple if there has been a temporary breakdown of law and order. And don't try and tell me that a soldier will somehow be more ethical or less desperate after he or she has missed the oft-quoted three meals which stand between civilisation and anarchy. Individual soldiers might well be paragons of virtue, but anyone walking about with a thumping great firearm is a potential danger. Guns do not inspire trust; indeed, for those of us who do not see them day-to-day, they inspire suspicion and heightened caution. Even when wielded by authority figures.

So, unless I knew the person in question, I'd be with ema and Ursula.

Also, bear in mind that US soldiers on our streets would constitute an invasion. And if the government called out the Australian Army, I'd head for the bush as quickly as my Barina would carry me.

#130 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:40 PM:

CRV 128: True, but even those of us without that distrust are finding your scenario lacking in nuance. It really matters what kind of problem is happening. Under normal circumstances (that is, no disaster or social breakdown), I'd call the police if I saw any armed person other than a cop on my street.

If the social order collapsed utterly, I would hide from ANY armed person, including a cop.

Everything else is somewhere in between.

#131 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:40 PM:

And if you put on your uniform in my neighborhood, if I knew who you were, I'd assume you were trying to grab authority, and distrust your purpose in doing so. -- Xopher

What if you knew me, and you knew me to be someone who goes out of his way to avoid being "in charge" because he knows intimately that being "in charge" is simply a whole mess of headaches and pains-in-the-ass?

(grin)

Me, I'd just as soon stay home with my wife and child.

But if a big disaster hits, and there is no organization on my block, and the cops and firemen and utilities are nowhere to be found, by the end of that first day, I'd feel duty-bound, as a Soldier and NCO, to at least put on the ACU and the beret and go out and check up on people, see what people knew, what assistance they needed, etc.

Part of being Reserve means that the uniform never really comes off. Not really.

#132 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:42 PM:

@112 and following -

If it's a disaster situation, I don't want to see anybody packing heat.

Not civillians, not self-styled militia types, and especially not lawful authorities.

(When the authorities are openly carrying firearms in the street, this is an indicator that their superiors believe they have lost, are losing, or have the potential to lose control of the situation; in other words, they are looking for someone or something to take charge of. I do not want to be that someone.)

#133 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:42 PM:

This is all utterly fascinating. Keep up the responses.

#134 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:43 PM:

I have a number of friends and coworkers in various branches of the military, and my dad was a Marine (reserves, never got called up to Vietnam, but a Marine nonetheless.) It has nothing to do with "an inherent or visceral distrust of the military or military personnel," it's a distrust of men with guns. Period, full stop. Of course, (name notwithstanding) I am female, and perhaps have more to fear from men with the ability to force me to do things at gunpoint.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:44 PM:

CRV, if I knew you that well, and had reason to trust you, the uniform would just make me think you were being silly. "Go home," I'd say, "and put on your oldest clothes. We got a lot of mud to move here"—or whatever—"and that nice uniform is gonna get trashed."

Or maybe I wouldn't. But I wouldn't think "Oh, good, the Army has people here" either. I'd think "Why did my buddy CRV put on his monkey suit?"

#136 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Truthfully, I was being a bit of a smartarse, but really this isn't a scenario I can respond to in any sensible way: the stereotypes don't translate very well to Australian culture, and there are a lot of variables. I live in the country, in a country that doesn't have any real gun culture. Farmers have guns to shoot vermin, and less often to hunt. I can't imagine a situation where anyone would be wandering around with a gun, especially here in town. We're too far away from anywhere for there to be armed looters. There's no large dangerous animals, although I suppose its possible that feral dogs might be a problem. If the army are here, why, as was asked above, is he alone? Why isn't he getting busy with sandbags, or the bushfire brigade, or co-ordinating relief efforts?

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:51 PM:

ema 136: There's no large dangerous animals

OK, suppose the aggressive and carnivorous Kangaroo Rex returned, and was preparing to attack your town? Wouldn't you want the mil there?

(OK, yeah, I'm joking. I just couldn't resist bringing up the Kangaroo Rex.)

#138 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:53 PM:

I must say that in all my years of lying about dangerous Australian fauna, I've never heard of the Kangaroo Rex. But that's an excellent idea, thankyou :)

#139 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:58 PM:

138 -

It's probably a relative of the vicious Drop Bear my friends warned me about.

#140 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:59 PM:

If they haven't done one already, I'm sure SciFi will produce a terrible, boring TV Movie about Kangaroo Rex that features at least three decapitations.

(If they set it in the States, it will feature a potbellied redneck in a Skoal cap who gets his head bit off in the first scene.)

#141 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:59 PM:

#139

The drop bear, of course, is absolutely real.

#142 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Stefan,

Yes, and they will call it, "ManRoo".

#143 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:00 PM:

CRV, if the situation requires men with guns, (i.e. there are people trying to break into my house) and I hear from my emergency radio that the guys from the Marine barracks down the street are going to be showing up in my neighborhood, I will probably be happy to see them. But a lone man in an Army uniform with a gun could be a crazy, or could be someone with an authoritarian personality and an overactive imagination attempting to "take charge" of a situation that doesn't need to be taken charge of. If you came down my street in your uniform you would not reassure me. I've been in emergency situations -- San Francisco earthquake 1989 -- and we didn't the army, we needed the fire brigade, the EMTs, and a lot of volunteers willing to risk their lives pulling people out of buildings. We needed people to direct traffic. We needed people to get oxygen and medicine and food for old people. Guns? Shit, no.

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:02 PM:

ema 138: It's not mine. It's from Janet Kagan's story The Return of the Kangaroo Rex. The critter is a sort of cross (you have to read the story for it to make sense) between a kangaroo and and a Tasmanian devil (IIRC).

#145 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Drop Bear wiki

#146 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:04 PM:

CRV 142: Yes, and they will call it, "ManRoo".

No, no! They will do it as Anime and call it...Mangaroo.

*ducks shower of less-than-completely-fresh produce*

#147 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:05 PM:

On the subject of Skoal caps:

Put a nylon baseball cap in your Go Bag.

Good against sun and keeps the rain out of your eyes . . . something a poncho won't.

* * *

A guy at the Portland Saturday Market sells a cute emergency item: A wooden handle with a rod of flint (?) and a rod of magnesium attached. You need a knife to use it. The flint produces sparks when struck; it your kindling is damp, you lace it with magnesium shavings first.

#148 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:06 PM:

#144

I'll keep an eye out for it, thanks for the tip, Xopher.

#149 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:07 PM:

and we didn't the army, we needed the fire brigade, the EMTs, and a lot of volunteers willing to risk their lives pulling people out of buildings. We needed people to direct traffic. We needed people to get oxygen and medicine and food for old people. Guns? Shit, no. -- Lizzy

In the 1989 scenario, I would have been engaged in any or all of the above, assuming I'd first gotten my wife and child to a place of safety and/or security. That is still my plan, if any such event ever occurs here in SLC where I now live; which has high potential for a major quake.

I joined the Reserve, not to frighten people, not to be "in charge", but just to help and serve my country in the limited capacity I am able.

#150 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:07 PM:

#142: Careful hombre! Having written the title, you're in danger of being asked by the SciFi channel to do the script.

#151 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:09 PM:

LOL, Xopher.

Will "Mangaroo" also feature horridly mis-cast American C and D-list actors for the English dub?

#152 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:10 PM:

CRV, then in that case, you wouldn't (or shouldn't) have been carrying a gun. Had your scenario been about the reaction of people to someone in a uniform, but not visibly armed, in a disaster scenario, responses would probably have been somewhat different.

(Although maybe not much - I see half a dozen folks in camo, I think "Oh, soldiers." I see just one guy in camo, I think "oh, nutcase.")

#153 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:16 PM:

CRV 151: Featuring Dakota Fanning as the Mangaroo...Vin Diesel as Alice (the little girl who befriends the Mangaroo before it goes completely nuts and eats her)...

Oh wait, those are A-list actors.

Jaleel White as the Mangaroo. "Did I do that?"

#154 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Xopher: LOL!!!!!!

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:21 PM:

(said with Alice's blood streaming from his jaws, and her body parts all around him)

#156 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:32 PM:

CRV - In the overwhelming majority of emergency situations, there are an astonishingly large number of useful things an individual can accomplish which require neither a badge/uniform nor a weapon. The number of useful things that do require a uniform and/or firearm, while not vanishingly minute, is significantly smaller than the former.

I don't care what you're wearing, so long as you're doing something useful. But the circumstances under which you (or anyone else) walking up my street with a firearm would be considered useful are very small and remote indeed - and significantly smaller than the circumstances under which the hypothetical firearm-bearing pedestrian would represent a case of, at best, "Oh shit, this is worse than I thought."

#157 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:33 PM:

The problem with a man with a gun, is that I don't argue with a man with a gun.

I'll say it a different way: it's stupid to argue with a man with a gun. The whole point of an officer* having a gun is that they can make people do whatever they want on pain of death. Illegal, immoral, obscene? Hmm. Do I want to die, or not? Who watches the watchers?**

Uniforms aren't necessarily helpful. A uniform as identification is difficult to authenticate, particularly when the rule of law seems not to apply. (Does memorizing a badge number matter if you won't see a working legal system for two weeks? If you are dead?)

Behavior is helpful: a man with a gun who's body language is not that of a predator or a martinet I'll regard with guarded optimism. And I will watch them carefully, and agree to do what they say, for as long as it takes for me to get away from them. A holstered sidearm is better than a slung rifle. A held rifle or other long gun is much worse than a slung rifle. And so on.

A civilian with a gun is marginally more dangerous, though I'd at least expect the man in the Skoal hat to be unused to shooting people. If he's holding the gun in the manner that I've seen safety trained hunters do when they are walking, I'd be pretty happy.

Any disaster situation where people are holding weapons at the ready is one that I want to flee from. I don't know if prudence (= staying still and not drawing attention) would win out over the desire to run.

*generic sense: uniformed official, be they police, military, or three letter agency.
**Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? See Plato, et al., specifically:
that "They will guard themselves against themselves. We must tell the guardians a noble lie. The noble lie will inform them that they are better than those they serve and it is therefore their responsibility to guard and protect those lesser than themselves. We will instill in them a distaste for power or privilege, they will rule because they believe it right, not because they desire it."
Under what circumstances will people not believe the noble lie?

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Xopher @ 155... Mangaroo vs Kangaraw?

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:50 PM:

midori @ 157... Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

As for myself, I'll be watching Watchmen.

#160 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:02 PM:

My reaction to Some Dude with a deer rifle in my neighborhood: (1.) If he seems sane and responsible, he's about to get into terrible trouble. (And why is he carrying a deer rifle at all? That's just loony.) He doesn't sound like the kind of guy who has a NY carry permit, and the legal penalties for screwing up while in possession of an illegal gun are fairly harsh. Someone should warn him. (2.) If he doesn't seem sane and responsible, lock the doors and go wait in the basement until he's gone.

My reaction to a guy in uniform carrying an automatic rifle in my neighborhood: Criminently Christmas, what idiot put Rudy in charge?

In both cases, I'd have to wonder what the point was of carrying a long gun on a Brooklyn street. I can't think of any situation short of a blitzkrieg invasion via interdimensional portal where that would be an appropriate tool.

#161 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Hey, sometimes blitzkrieg invasions via interdimensional portal happen.

(grin!)

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:16 PM:

I was rather... ah... amused, when I watched Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Remember the scene where Tom Cruise and his family reach the ferry station and the place is, to say the least, extremely crowded? I found it hard to believe that Cruise was the only person around with any kind of firearm, almost as hard to believe as the fact that, until he got picked up by a tripod, nobody, not even one professional soldier, had thought of blowing things up from inside the machine's forcefield.

#163 ::: Steve Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Wow. This started off as a VERY useful thread on a topic of immediate concern to me. Then it devolved. I don't suppose there's any chance of heroically dropping "Interwebs Gun Debate Part MMCCCXVII" and getting back to the original discussion of go-bag recommendations?

I'm in Texas, and at least in the summer, a kit should contain both sunglasses and sunscreen. A hat's a good idea even if you don't normally wear one.

If you have a small Nalgene bottle full of unscented chlorine bleach, and an eyedropper, you can disinfect a lot of water at four drops per gallon. This can make you a hero to a whole thirsty group. I have read that a teabag per gallon will hide the taste. Never tried that.

I still want to hear about the Tic-Tacs and the area control device, and I am devoutly hoping that will be TWO answers and not one . . .

#164 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:36 PM:

I can not think of any scenario where our Canadian military would be deployed on our own soil unannounced and armed and alone. They work in teams and for disaster relief they need their hands free to be useful. Civilian with a gun well if conditions are settled enough for him to be wandering around doing diddly squat then the normal police are not that hard to find either and let them take care of it.

#165 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:52 PM:

The current issue of Time magazine has an interesting article titled The Things Not Left Behind. It's an overview with photos of what people evacuating from the SD fires took with them, and what the current (non-MacDonald) thought is about what should be taken.

#166 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:02 PM:

In the 'breakdown of civil order' fantasy 28 days later, the guys in uniform with guns were not the good guys.

In my 'go bag', I'm carrying a few hours of water, some granola bars at least and usually a couple of sandwiches, a couple of days of reading (usually) and some supplemental clothing. But if you're carrying it around all the time, I don't think it counts as a 'go bag'.

#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:03 PM:

midori 157: Plato's concept of a 'noble lie' is corrupt and evil. Plato's whole Republic...well, I'm with Russell on that.

#168 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:09 PM:

I would consider adding a cotton bandanna to that urban list. In addition to its use as a head covering (whether to conserve heat or to provide shade), it can also be useful as a dust mask, a tourniquet, a compress, or tinder, as the need arises.

#169 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:10 PM:

CRV --

I'm with most of the others here -- the sight of a Man in Uniform is not automatically reassuring. This is especially true if he's carrying an inappropriate firearm (deer rifle for a soldier; assault rifle for a cop, etc.)

It's been a *long* time since any disaster in the US (the 1968 riots?) has resulted in enough trouble to make guns on the street something other that Scary Bad News. Even in Katrina (a "perfect storm" of official incompetence if there ever was one), every story I've heard that involved guns would have been better without the guns.

BTW, in my neighborhood, what would *you* do if the guy across the street came out in *his* uniform (light colonel, US Army, active) and said "Come with me, soldier"? He probably wouldn't be thinking about your family ...

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:14 PM:

From one of the SD news sites last week (bold mine):
EVACUATION TIPS:

If you have time to pack - what to bring:

Important documents (Social Sec cards, birth certificates, passports)
Legal & financial records (Deeds, wills, bank info, insurance papers)
Address book
Irreplaceable items (photographs, heirlooms)
Clothing & toiletries
Medications
Radio & flashlight
Linens, towels
Laptop, PDA (and charger)
Cell phone, camera (and chargers)

#171 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:49 PM:

Sarah #87: How about zombiecalypso?

(A me wan a walk a road/A me wan a walk a road/A me wan a walk a road/Jumbie come an knock me down.)

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:57 PM:

I can't walk much more than a block, so preparation for walking out is not much use for me. The condo is set for the cats and me for two months (except for meds because Medicare only lets you have a month at a time). The van has the equivalent of a go bag, but some of it is in the cupboard-like nooks and crannies. A couple of large things are loose (a collapsible chair, for example) and the rest are in a bag. I have another large bag that I can put all the essentials in, if needed.

I have a wind-up power for the cellphone in both places, plus three wind-up LED flashlights with radios (two in the house, one in the van).

I'm on the city's list of non-mobile folks who get priority in non-vehicle evacuation. Eight of us in our condo development now. I would grab the cats' go bag and the big carrier plus my meds and then make up the bag from the van, if that happened.

Diatryma, #90, I still have my hot glue gun although I'm not supposed to use it. Burned myself badly last time, but I wasn't able to throw it and the gluesticks out.

CRV, #123, two of my neighbors are police officers and another neighbor is a Secret Service officer (with dog). If any of them had a gun out, I wouldn't worry. But strange people wandering around with guns out would definitely worry me. A census/survey? In our development, I'm likely to be the center of that with able-bodied folks actually going out and asking and doing. Nobody in uniform or with guns. And btw, I grew up in the Navy and spent most of my career working for defense contractors. I'm not afraid of guys in uniform; I'm wary of guys wandering with guns.

Jeremy Preacher, #134, do you by any chance have three sisters also with J male names? Went to W-L?

#173 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:08 PM:

Of course, in my neighborhood, people in US Military uniform are often just picking up a few things at the grocery store on their way home from work. They don't have guns, though.

The times I've seen uniformed people working emergency evacuations (toxic spills and floods, for the most part) only the police have been armed.

#174 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Marilee #172 - nope, but I'd love to meet them - I bet we could commiserate. (My sister does go by Andy these days, though - my poor mother can't figure us out :P)

#175 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:18 PM:

By the way, CRV, don't feel that your desire to be of service to your community isn't valued and appreciated. It is. But I suggest you reconsider the usefulness of the uniform and firearm in an emergency situation. Your training and ability to keep a cool head will be of great value. I don't think the uniform & gun add anything to the emergency situation, and there's a good chance their appearance could put you and others in danger. (Frex, what happens if the crazy down the street sees you with your uniform and gun and figures it's time for him to go get his?)

#176 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:29 PM:

#157, #167: FWIW, the translation of the Republic I read (Lee, 1955) considered "noble lie" to be a mistranslation. Plato is describing an ideal version of a Greek city-state, & every Greek city-state had its foundation myth, which is what the phrase refers to.

#177 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:35 PM:

Here in KC, the radio stations are frelliing useless in any kind of newsworthy way. We could have a tornado on the ground and you would not hear about it.

Seriously. All the stations, AM and FM are either Entrecom, Clear Channel, other syndicates or are religious-related. I have been out in the car, seeing wall clouds, rotating clouds, etc. and worrying about what the weather was doing and scanned channels hoping for help. I got none.

The worst thing about it is that our TV weather bunnies pretty much wet their pants when we have a thunder cloud or 1/2inch snow scattering show up. They pre-empt whatever shows for their bleats of terror over weather that usually ends up not being that bad.

#178 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:41 PM:

An "area control device" is a shotgun. And yes, it might be useful to me in the event of civil unrest. I already have to deal with the odd person-with-a-gun driving up and down my road; usually a hunter, or a group of the border militia freaks, or occasionally a drug smuggler. Did I mention that I live 40 miles from the Mexican border, and that the end of my road is the trail head for one of the oldest cross-border foot trails?

On the other hand, my neighbors have plenty of guns, and I know them pretty well.

#179 ::: Ian Ireland ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Philomytha @ #77 & Tamago @ #78:

Thanks for the pointers ... guess I didn't do to well at looking for myself. (Note to self: if you're too busy, frex with managing the kids or writing a paper, to do a quick google, you're too busy to be posting comments on teh interwebs.)

With regards the the example in the video, looks like it'll function pretty much like the Taylor-made ring sling. I'll have to practice the knot a couple time before I need it, otherwise I'll never be able to do it.

I can't find the point someone made about parenting in some ways being an exercise in maintaining a go-bag, but I know that my habit is to pare down the stuff I'm packing for my own needs in order not to have to carry so much stuff, given that the kids needs pretty much can't be deferred. Maybe not such a great idea if a real go-bag situation actually arises.

#180 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:02 AM:

#163: "a small Nalgene bottle full of unscented chlorine bleach"

Oooh, good idea. You can use another bottle to store the tea bags and eyedropper.

RE nalgene bottles, you can now get second-rate ones (the seal isn't great) for a buck. They're small, about big enough to slip into a car cup holder, which is where I keep one.

#181 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:21 AM:

The guiding principles for all of my bags are these:

All the items are small, light, cheap, and multi-purpose. (A firearm is none of those things. And a ten-dollar bill will get you a nice lunch in the Chinese restaurant across the street from the bus station a heck of a lot better than a pistol will.)

So let's leave the macho fantasies and movie plots at home, and look at any of the real domestic survival situations we've seen in the past ... fifty years. Not a single one of them involved zombies, space aliens, or the Thunderdome. Lots of them have have required a ten mile walk, sometimes a night or two in a motel, and getting rained on. So that's what we want to look at.

For anti-chafing stuff that you can find in any store, Bag Balm is great. (Desinex is just nasty.)

Tic-tacs are because sucking on a candy can help if you're thirsty. Also, if you're out of toothbrush-range of a sink, they can help with Nasty Mouth. And if you get the ones with sugar, a little-bitty sugar hit. It's important to keep up your blood sugar.

#182 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:39 AM:

I love the "Be Prepared" posts. But I'd really love to see a Red Mike review of Into The Wild.

#183 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:52 AM:

I thought it was unConstitutional for the US military to deployed against US civilians within the US borders? Excluding the National Guard which should be under the control of the governors. Besides, frankly, I can't tell one uniform from another (except for the Marines, but that's only because my sister was one), and with all the rumors I keep hearing about how Blackwater was called in after Katrina I would have no way to tell if that solider in the street was really US military or a 'private contractor'. And if law and order had broken down that far I wouldn't be trusting anyone I didn't know personally.

Now, a solider without a gun, or maybe only a holstered handgun, I might trust that person if he's with a group and looks non-crazy.

#184 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Since James is against Rambo solutions, I thought someone a ways up the thread made a good point, in regards to women and their footware. All ladies, whether they wear heels as a rule or not, should be able to access a good, broken-in pair of tennis shoes or even hiking shoes, in a pinch. Keep them in the car, and/or a pair in a drawer at work, etc. Heaven help the poor woman stuck in an emergency with stilettos on, especially if foot-miles are involved. Feminist arguments about the psychology behind the heel aside, it just 'aint a practical shoe in a tough situation. (Though it might come in handy as a weapon, or for barter?)

Another item for women: pads and tampons. I am surprised how many women still don't keep pads and tampons on their person, just as a rule. Even my wife blows that one once in awhile, and we'll be out some where, away from convenience, and suddenly she's sitting funny and giving me that look like, "Uh-oh, I goofed!"

Another practical item: baby wipes.

They're not just for babies butts. Those of us who have been in or are in the military these days, at least in the Army, swear by them. They are incredibly useful and handy in the field, and can peform in any variety of sanitation scenarios, to include wound care, hand-washing for meals, just wipin' the crust and grime off your mug, or even (yes) wiping your child's tush.

#185 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:21 AM:

I used to have stashes of the individual serving Oreos packages in places till they kept going missing by desperate thieving snackers. The car would be broken into every week just to steal the cookies from the glove compartment and nothing else. My portable first aid kit would be emptied of useful things by people looking for bandaids and not asking at work since using the official office supply meant having to fill out injury reports.
So where ever you keep your go bag check it regularly for stock levels. Little kids will help themselves to candy stashes as well.

#186 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Of course, deer rifles are childs play.

The true disaster survivalist will own a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

(wink)

#187 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:26 AM:

Happy were the days
When CRV had resolved
To not pick fights here

For the rest of the thread, I'd swap out the curved scissors (because I never figured out how to use those) for a pair of toenail clippers. Good solid cutting action that works fine for moleskin etc, and also for hangnails! Also, possibly the best tool for getting rid of zip ties.

This summer I went on a 5-week-long vacation in London and Europe, and spent a couple weeks of that living out of a backpack. Things that were so awesome to have:

--A 3 oz plastic bottle (meant for shampoo) filled with Macallan (single malt scotch whisky). You walk all day surrounded by people you didn't necessarily choose, and then they want to gab at you all evening... The thought of Macallan is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night.

--A Tilley hat: hat that is wide brimmed all the way around, and made of fabric so it's easy to flatten and jam into bags, and has straps for your chin and the back of your head so it can't be blown off. Keeps your head warm and cool both.
--One of those microfiber towels: I was dubious, but they really do work to dry you off, and their lightness and flatness is so very worth it. They take awhile to dry, but it was nice to drape a damp one over my face and stay cooler and more bug-free while I slept.
--A $100 pashmina shawl... Of the sort that gave rise to myths of dresses that could be pulled though the eye of a needle. The lighter, the warmer, somehow; and it looks nice enough that even if you're grimy you feel ok.
--2 big binder clips, so I could clip curtains shut, or clip them on the edge of a shelf or table to create a point to hang my towel or stretch a clothesline to.

Stuff that is awesome in my day-to-day-life: I have a keychain thingy that has a 1" knife blade and a bottle opener folded into it. I never have trouble at airports, or when I have to open a bottle of beer in the house of a person whose drawers I don't want to dig through.

#188 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:30 AM:

I picked fights on this thread??

(shrugs)

#189 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:54 AM:

Lizzy said, earlier, "Why don't you just say what you want to say, and let us respond to it, instead of attempting a not very useful version of the Socratic method." Echoing that: Please, leading hypothetical situations meant to trick/trap/ephiphanize the dissenter into agreeing with the oh-so-enlightened one, they just aren't useful. They come across as disingenuous and manipulative, and, as someone else pointed out, the hypothetical situation is usually constructed in a nuance-free, arbitrary way that disinclines people from engaging with it. I mean, it's not like we can't see the intended trap in the hypothetical. Not playing that game. Just, not.

But the thing that really made me go Ick? "Go on, I find your answers fascinating." Ugh. Someone I knew in college used to pull that line out whenever our arguments stopped being friendly. The condescension that it dripped with was deliberate. The message was very clear: You little naive, irrational person; how fascinating, the way you get everything wrong. How entertaining, the innovative ways with which you try to deny my God-like rightness. Go on, keep amusing me.

Struck me exactly the same way here, I'm sorry to say.

In another thread on another blog, I encountered some guy going on about how "as any woman who's ever been stalked or anyone who survived Katrina can tell you, a gun is the best form of emergency preparedness." Being both a woman who has been stalked (not, thankfully, for very long or by someone very good at it) and being from New Orleans, I wanted to grab him and say "Stop using me as your strawman!" In every way possible, guns made post-Katrina chaos worse. That includes the guns wielded by the cops. Bridge to Gretna, anyone? The alleged "snipers" shot dead on the overpass? Emergency preparedness my ass.

#190 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:58 AM:

"Mascot," that should have been. "Stop using me as your mascot! I am not your mascot!" Or maybe "poster girl."

Sorry. Yes, I do know the meaning of "strawman." Sometimes the wrong word jumps to the fingers first.

#191 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Nicole, I am sorry you had a bad experience with the phrase, "Go on, I find your answers fascinating."

For whatever it's worth, I wrote them here in honesty. The responses I have gotten on this thread have been fascinating, at least to me.

I'd always assumed people would welcome a uniformed servicemember being proactive in a disaster or emergency situation; especially one who is armed. The responses on this thread give me pause in this assumption.

I'd probably be smart to chat up my old Sergeant Major, ask him what he thinks is the best course of action for me to take as a Reservist. He is a WA State Highway Patrolman in the civilian world, and should be able to tell me what's realistically (and lawfully) expected of me, as an NCO of the USAR, if disaster strikes.

#192 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Well, CRV, you did ask everyone to respond to a fantastic scenario featuring yourself (uncredited at first) in a leading role. That's not picking a fight precisely, but it does tend to make the conversation All About You, which is not strictly friendly either.

I enjoy the occasional What If Everything Hit the Fan fantasy as much as the next guy, but in this case, I was a lot more interested in the tic-tacs.

#193 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:18 AM:

CRV at 188 -- my two cents: I don't think you picked a fight on this thread.

Good night, Gracie.

#194 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:27 AM:

CRV@75: A couple of deer rifles, a couple of shotguns, ... a couple of AR15/M16 rifles, too.

Six long guns and enough ammunition for each to "fell a crowd of bad guys" just added 50+ pounds to the currently one-pound go-bag. Not to mention the physical cumbersomeness involved in a single person hauling six long guns simultaneously makes the logistics nearly impossible. Seriously, how would you carry six long guns?


in the hands of a trained marksperson, can fell a crowd of bad guys in seconds.

If you're shooting at an unarmed, pedestrian crowd, that isn't moving very fast, and is out in the open, with little cover, and is at least fifty yards away from you so they can't close with you and go hand-to-hand, then, yeah, a guy might be able to spray and pray and follow the individuals as they scatter in every direction and manage to shoot a whole bunch of unarmed pedestrians at 50+ yards with no cover before they manage to find cover or concealment.

But then, what in gods name are you shooting at a crowd of unarmed civilians for?

On the other hand, the only historic evidence for disasters and catastrophes resulting in roving bands of armed hoodlums is Hollywood movies and invading Iraq. And Iraq has shown that anyone who thinks one guy can seriously take on a roving band of armed hoodlums with an M-16 and "Fell a whole crowd of bad guys in seconds" without getting shot themselves, is someone who's gotten their tactics from Hollywood movies a la John Rambo, not the real world like Iraq.

Even the appearance of a weapon in your hands will be enough to ward off 96% of anyone desperate or dumb enough to show up and make demands of any sort.

Good lord. The appearance of a weapon, depending on what state and jurisdiction you're in, is enough to qualify as "sudden combat" which means that if Bob flashes a gun at Charlie and Charlie had not flashed any weapon at Bob, Charlie could take Bob's weapons flash as an immediate threat on his life and Charlie could now pull out his weapon and shoot Bob, and legally claim self defense. And get away with it.

You flash a gun, you may get yourself killed, and the other guy may not even get prosecuted.

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advise.

And you advising people that waving a gun around is a good way to establish control of a potentially violent situation is completely irresponsible and could get someone killed.

And no, having your gun out and waving it around doesn't guarantee that you'll shoot him before he shoots you.

Speaking of looters,

Do a search on the word "looters" in this thread. It doesn't show up until your post at #75.

That's because you're the one who has turned "looters" into the boogeyman here, some out of control evil that needs heavy firepower to beat back.

what happens if the looters come to you demanding your rations or other supplies?

The question is not "what if". The question is "when", as in when has violent looting happened on such a consistent scale after a disaster that would justify people to stockpile weapons like David Koresh?"

Answer? Never.

Hungry and cold people can be desperate,

Historically? No. They're not. Some people liked to talk about all the rampant "looting" going on after Katrina. But there were no roving mobs of hungry, cold, desparate people with automatic weapons looking to shoot you for your bread.

Name one natural disaster or catastrophe where roving bands of armed thugs was a common, widespread problem. Hurricanes? Tornados? A million people evacuated from southern California because of fire? Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center? nada. zip. Zilch.

You've got no real world evidence to support this concept of "looters gonna git you suckah". And your advice regarding lethal force could get someone killed were they to follow it.

#195 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:31 AM:

OK Greg, I surrender.

I was both logically and morally wrong on all counts.

You win.

#196 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:32 AM:

beth meacham #178: An "area control device" is a shotgun.

Ah. I was thinking more along the lines of a cannister of bear mace (which I've facetiously recommended in the past for crowd control use at Hugo Award ceremonies).

#197 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:38 AM:

CRV - I've avoided this discussion for lots of reasons, one of which is that if I saw a stranger in uniform in my neighborhood, armed, I would probably be the crazy person Lizzy L* mentioned, and consider taking you out with my guns if you didn't satisfy me that you weren't on some "I'm in charge because I have a uniform and a weapon" kick. I'm a disgustingly wholesome, law-abiding, congenial citizen and I've had too many negative interactions with people in uniform on a power trip.

My husband was in the USAR and ANG, did the whole NCO thing. He'd say wait for your orders.

*Every time I see "Lizzy L", I want to squee like a fangirl. I hunted down one of your books for 6 years, and I can see two of your more recent ones from where I'm sitting. Thank you for being you. I like your books and your posts.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:53 AM:

CRV@115: Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

Wow. The whole objection to your "stock pile half a dozen weapons and enough ammo to fell a large group of pedestrians" was that it was stupid and dangerous.

It's stupid because it imagines a non-existent threat. Zombie-looters who roam around in ravenous bands of heavily-armed undeadness looking to eat your brains and shoot you for your bread. They don't exist. Having a contingency plan for dealing with nonexistent threats is stupid.

And it's dangerous because encouraging people to walk around after a natural disaster or some kind of catastrophe with a stock pile of weapons, and telling them to wave their weapon around if someone ever gives you any guff, is gonna get someone needlessly killed.

And rather than acknowledge that (1) ravenous bands of zombie-looters don't actually exist and (2) that advising people to wave a gun around is stupidly dangerous, you change the topic to:

"Would you feel the same way if the man with the gun was the national guard?"

That aint the point. The point is your zombie-looter hoard is an imaginary boogeyman threat invented by you. There is no historical evidence that would suggest that in the event of power going out in the entire eastern seaboard that zombie-looters will take over.

And the point is that your advice telling people to wave a gun around whenever they're threatened by potential zombie-looters is little different than telling people to go play in the freeway because it's fun. No. It's far more likely to get someone needlessly shot.

It's got nothing to do with whether or not I trust the National Guard patroling my streets. It's got to do with the fact that your advice is advocating a dangerous stockpiling of weapons to fight off a non-existent threat, and your advice to escalate situations by waving a gun around is far more likely to get someone needlessly killed.


#199 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:24 AM:

It's better to travel in groups. If you car-pool, is that a group that will be going to the same general place? Do the folks back home know who's in that group? Which home do you aim for first?

Even if your group has a vehicle, and traffic is moving, it's possibly best to settle on getting to one safe haven, as a first step.

#200 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:03 AM:

James D. Macdonald @ 181

Lots of them have have required a ten mile walk, sometimes a night or two in a motel, and getting rained on. So that's what we want to look at.

Agree - walked most of the 15 miles home after 7/7 due to all the London rail stations being shut (my mother-in-law picked us up for the last part of the journey). Mobile 'phone couldn't get through most of the time - bandwidth was given to the emergency services. I did get through (to arrange that lift) on a pay 'phone. If you're organising something like that, make sure both parties agree on what route you're taking. Comfortable shoes help a lot (no blisters). And yes, it was raining.

#201 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:37 AM:

Thanks - this is really well timed for me. Living in Phoenix I never worried much about a small emergency kit; we had camping gear, sunscreen, and extra drums of water where they were easy to grab and the pool for an extra emergency water source, but there was literally nowhere else to go that I could possibly walk to (especially in summer). However, I'm about to move to Taipei, which is prone to earthquakes, typhoons *and* tsunamis, not to mention those missiles China still has pointing at it. I think an urban go kit is a very very good idea; thank you for reminding me.

#202 ::: ewt ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:48 AM:

A few things it seems people haven't mentioned:

A headlamp (running off of AAA or AA batteries, whichever you've chosen for your other kit) is a wonderful thing. Most of the time that I really need bright light I am better off with my hands free. LED headlamps are fairly widely available and not much more money than a good torch. Alternately it's possible to get or make adapter kits designed to strap a light to your head or wrist.

It is possible to get "emergency charge" packs for mobile phones that basically consist of the appropriate connector and a battery pack that will take standard AA batteries. I think that these are a Very Good Idea.

My spare glasses are a pair of pinhole glasses; the past few years I've been wearing my glasses until they fall apart completely so I don't have any old ones to stick in as spares, but the pinhole ones, though not great in low light conditions and not sufficient for 20-20 vision with my -7 shortsightedness, are a lot better than nothing and have been very helpful (particularly, for example, the last time my glasses broke and I was waiting to get new ones). They're cheap, lightweight, reasonably sturdy and have the advantage that they can be used for just about anyone, or as sunglasses if your vision is good anyway.

Using a flint and steel is not actually all that difficult, and non-applicator tampons make wonderful tinder if you rip them apart a bit. Probably not worth packing in the small bag, and probably only worth putting into the large bag if you know how to use them, but they do have some advantages over lighters and matches.

I'd second the comment about latex condoms as being a very useful thing to keep in a go-bag.

A course of emergency contraception could be a very good thing to have on your person in case you or someone you care for has been raped. It's not a nice thing to think about but it could happen, and if things look particularly bad, it's not a good time to get pregnant.

I keep a selection of herbal teas (peppermint, chamomile, fennel, something citrusy and something fruity), they're lightweight and can be useful, especially if someone is afraid and upset but otherwise alright. Getting liquid in can be important, and herbal tea is a lot nicer than plain hot water. Normal tea, plus some powdered milk and sugar in a tin, is also useful. For the small bag, consider caffeine tablets; if you have a massive caffeine addiction then you don't want to be dealing with the effects of withdrawal during an emergency, and if you don't have a caffeine addiction you may find they help you keep going when it's crucial. Care is required in using them of course as caffeine is diuretic and doesn't agree with everyone.

If you smoke, consider that like a prescription medication. Again, you don't want to deal with nicotine withdrawal at the same time as whatever emergency is causing the lack of availability of smoking materials. Better yet, quit now so you're in better shape generally.

#203 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:54 AM:

I think there should be a good selection of hand to hand meat cleavers and crowbars to kill the zombies with too. Only a fool brings a long range rifle to a close up zombie picnic.

band-aids to cover up the wound when the zombies take a chunk out of your arm.

a spare brain to throw at them. Also wife and kids are good for this, remember to pack them.

zombie/esperanto dictionary.

fake wounds and gray makeup, when in zombieville zomb like a zombie.

#204 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:59 AM:

What is best in life.

To shoot the civilian hordes and hear the lamentations of their women.

#205 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:00 AM:

unless the civilians you kill come back as zombies, that would suck.

#206 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:10 AM:

ok seriously, I was just thinking that a lot of the go bags were too complicated and frankly somewhat ridiculous, but then I realized that it was because I live in Denmark currently. They would be reasonable in an area hit with a hurricane/out of control fires/earthquake type disaster with likely to be incompetent emergency help but I think the most extensive go bag I have to worry about is if the house burns down and then the police or other public servants see to it I get to a good hotel.

hmm, damn taxes.


#207 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:27 AM:

I've always considered the original go bag to be the pillowcase packed by Mrs. R. in The Swiss Family Robinson. She had minimal time to decide and pack, but what she packed turned out to be very useful indeed, and was praised multiple times by her husband. Interestingly, twine and thread were among her priorities (reminiscent of Sam Gamgee's appreciation for a good bit of rope). It is not recorded that a blunderbuss was included. (OK, that was snarky. The rest of her family was armed to to the teeth.)

Back to the present. I may actually pull together a go bag after this post -- already having most of the stuff is motivating -- and keep it in the car. The car is usually where I am, but that's just my lifestyle. Of course the potential temperature swings in a car may be problematic for meds, as well as other contents like batteries, adhesives...hmm. How often do you need to inspect/rotate the contents?

#208 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:31 AM:

If you get the right sort of knife/multitool, it'll have a can opener and scissors in it too - saves space and weight.

A shamagh is a good idea - you can use it as a scarf, sling, ring bandage, pillow, infant carrying sling, shawl, flag or dust mask, and even dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. Unless, of course, you're in the sort of area where there might be heavily armed nervous Army Reservists. In which case walking around looking like an Arab might not be a good idea.

One can also buy hand-cranked chargers for mobile phones which weigh about as much as a box of kitchen matches. Saves the AA batteries.

And ewt remembered the brew kit! ewt is everyone's new post-apocalypse best friend!

#209 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 07:00 AM:

Okay, just a quick question for CRV:

Which civilian (let me stress that: civilian) emergency situations have you been in?

I'm curious, because your level of proposed response far outweighs that which would have been appropriate for any civilian emergency I've had to deal with.

#210 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 07:07 AM:

hmmm

on guns - if I have to evac, and can use the car, I will have guns in it. Locked up in cases, and likely with no ammunition save that which is already in magazines (which will be locked in a separate case. This is not because I think I might need them - but rather because I'm not willing to leave family heirlooms to an uncertain situation if I have any choice in the matter. If situation doesn't permit, I won't lose sleep, however - things are transient, people (especially this people!) are not.

If I were hoofing it out, they would likely get stuffed somewhere unlikely for them to be - but they would not be going with me. I might consider the .22 - but it would not be for crowd control purposes, or using on people at all - I'd be more concerned about critters, and it would likely spend the whole trip tucked away in the ersatz scabbard my backpack has.

I certainly wouldn't be hauling around half a dozen firearms with hundreds of rounds of ammo for any other reason than "this rifle is worth more than my entire computer assembly, was custom-made by Winchester in 1898, has been in the family for four generations, and still shoots" - unless aliens, foreign invaders, or zombies really do become a problem - which I find supremely unlikely, Omega Man et al notwithstanding.

On other - one of the important things in building an evac bag is prior planning/thinking -

1 - what is my egress plan - am I hoofing it? am I driving? public transportation? Other? If I'm physically limited in some fashion, what are those limits? If I typically am not where my main evac bag is, how do I get to it? (answers - probably driving, I'm about 6 miles from evac bag typically (work), somewhat out of shape, but not actually limited, and my walking is fine, even with sizable backpack)

2 - what am I likely to be facing, in terms of disaster? (upstate NY - snow, mostly, which means most of my preparations are situated towards "socked in for a week" possibly with no power for a couple of days or so, rather than "home gone". Apartment fires. Remote possibility of tornado. Very very remote possibility of hurricane. Exceedingly remote chance of earthquake serious enough to be damaging - although if there is one, I'm likely dead anyways.)

3 - where is evac destination (a hotel room far enough away from current disaster area to be out of "blast radius", close enough to act as rallying point for friends and family.)

4 - fellow travellers? (Brother, if I can get a hold of him, and reach him in time. If not, set up rendezvous location outside of immediate city area - Spencerport, likely, since we both know the village intimately). How are they mobilizing? (my car, or foot).

After that - prioritize based on most likely scenario, breaking down into four categories -

1 - basic necessities - the stuff you're absolutely going to need. You have to have a change of clothes. You have to have appropriate headgear, footwear, and outer layer protection for your season/climate. You need two sources of light, two sources of heat, and a source for cutting.

2 - situational necessities - water supplies as needed, replenishment as needed. If you're walking out, you need more than if you're just getting to a car. food supplies. etc.

3 - comfort - aforementioned decks of cards, books, child and dog-distracting devices, etc.

4 - long-term. hygiene supplies. documents and paperwork. rebuild and vital gear for "I'm out of the disaster, set up with semi-permanent shelter - now what?" - computers, data backups, tools of the trade, etc. communication gear (whether that be networked PC, crackberry, cell phone, roll of quarters, or any/all of the above).

The goal, as James says, is to keep this as lightweight and mobile as possible. Most folks aren't going to be needing to hike a hundred miles on this - they need to get to an emergency shelter or hotel, and start up personal communications. Likely radius of evac is probably under a hundred miles (and almost certainly under two hundred) for almost everyone reading here - gasoline is as much a matter of "stuck in infinitely long line of other people going nowhere" concern as it is "need three hundred miles of distance between you and former home before safety".

Lightweight. Small amounts, not vast quantities. My bag is my camping pack for sake of ease of deployment (and to prevent keeping two packed sets of largely overlapping stuff), not because I'm likely going to need all (or even most) of the stuff in the camping pack. On top of that is my laptop bag - which covers pretty much everything I need.

The bag you have and can manage is better than the bag you should have, but can't manage (for reasons of cost, mass, mobility, whatever) - if you can't get everything on the list, get what you can together - and make a list of what you don't have.

#211 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 07:09 AM:

One of my favourite film lines ever comes from the ludicrously enjoyable Dog Soldiers.

Background: an army patrol on an exercise in Scotland is attacked and chased by werewolves through the forest. They are rescued by a local in a Land Rover and manage to hole up in a remote cottage. After getting everyone inside, the noncom in charge utters the immortal line to one of the squaddies:

"Put the kettle on - we could all do with a brew."

#212 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 07:10 AM:

bryan - does Denmark (or your corner of it) flood? I live near a tidal river, so that's always a concern.

In the UK we're used to the armed forces helping with relief efforts (and providing cover when, for example, the fire service was on strike) but they don't turn up with guns, and they turn up in organised groups. You can also see this when the Royal Navy* help with disasters abroad - there's an article at the MOD with pictures of HMS Chatham in Sri Lanka after the Boxing Day Tsunami - sailors (and marines) in uniform, no guns in sight. (Admittedly there could be half a dozen guys with rifles behind the camera man, but I think the lack of guns in the picture shows the image the MOD wants to show of disaster relief operations).

* It's usually the Navy. When I was about 10 and Navy mad, I noticed that every time there was a news story about a hurricane in the carribean, a Royal Navy ship would turn up after a day or two to help out with rescue and relief efforts. It turns out that the Navy station ships out there during the hurricane season for just that reason**, and not because the Navy is always everywhere (as I assumed at the time).
** Amongst other reasons

#213 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Neal Willcox #212: The Royal Navy stations a frigate at St John's, Antigua for anti-drug patrolling and emergency services.

That is the last vestige of the West India Station. One wonders if Hornblower (did he actually exist) would recognise it. One of the last Hornblower books has Rear-Admiral Hornblower commanding it, I seem to recall.

#214 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Oops, that should be Neil Willcox. Apologies!

#215 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 08:56 AM:

A little background on myself, for the benefit of everyone wondering whether I am stupid, maniacal, or just fucking nuts.

I spent the first half of my life living in a part of the U.S. in which gun ownership was as natural and common as owning a car. Virtually everyone owned one to several guns, and firearms were a not-uncommon component of 72-hour kits. Most males and many females, at an early age, learned to use and operate small-calibre weapons such as the .22 rifle, and none of us, I am sure, would have been surprised to see adults patrolling the neighborhood with weapons during a major disaster during which we'd been cut off from civilian law enforcement support.

I then spent the second half of my life living in places like urban Tacoma. Now, for those of you not familiar with urban Tacoma, around the area of Sprague street up on the hill, it's a, shall we say, not-terribly-inspiring area; in terms of the people being good, stand-up, law-abiding people. It's a place where you can't leave outgoing bills in your mail box because mail theft and check fraud is routine. As is drug dealing. As is petty theft. As is auto break-in and theft. To top it all off, the county jail was within walking distance of my rental house. When I road the local bus routes up the hill, the county jail's rotating clientele were a regular feature, and you can learn a lot about how much to trust your local community by listening to talk on the bus.

So if I seem to have a somewhat paranoid or otherwise "Get them before they get me" attitude about this, it's because such an attitude is not altogether unwarranted. In urban Tacoma.

Now, as to the question of how many real civilian disasters or emergencies I have been in, off the top of my head I'd have to say half a dozen at least, to include chlorine cloud evacuation, earthquake in a major metro area, major wind storms that knock all the power out for a few days, forest fire evac, and so on and so forth.

I guess my point is, the desire to keep a firearm on ones person during a major emergency is not nearly as derranged as it might first appear. If the above information is not convincing for some of you, oh well. Not my problem.

#216 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 09:11 AM:

"bryan - does Denmark (or your corner of it) flood? I live near a tidal river, so that's always a concern."

I know there are global warming prognostications of problems but I believe they are over 15 years in the future.

#217 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 09:20 AM:

How often do you need to inspect/rotate the contents?

Quarterly. (That is, every three months, at the turn of the seasons.)

#218 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Fragano @213 - that'd be the one (I had a feeling it was two, or two during the Hurricane season, but that might have been some years ago).

Captain Hornblower would undoubtedly have been pleased to command a frigate on detached duty in the Carribean; having it in constant contact with the Admiralty would probably please him less.

#219 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 09:43 AM:

CRV @ # 109: I'd hide from either of them, but I'd be more scared of #2 because I'd assume he had allies, and worry about where they might be.

Incidentally, I have several relatives currently serving in the military, and I grew up in rural Georgia, eating quail, doves and deer my dad shot. My inclination to hide from a man with a gun in such a scenario stems in part from my father's insistence that the only reason to pick up a gun is if you intend to shoot it, and the only reason to shoot a gun is if you intend to kill something. So when I see someone armed, I start wondering who/what that person plans to kill.

#220 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:09 AM:

From the Time.com article linked above:

After Hurricane Katrina, John Sorensen and his wife Barbara Vogt Sorensen, both experts in disaster preparedness, went to Wal-Mart to conduct an experiment. They divided up the emergency-supplies list that FEMA had published, then started shopping. It took them 2 1/2 hours. It cost $343 for a family of two. Theoretically, a good number of the items would need to be replenished every six to 12 months. "A family that lives from check to check can't afford to do that. It was a real eye-opener," says John, who, with his wife, works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He piled everything into a huge duffel bag, and his wife couldn't lift it. "I think there is a need for prioritization," he says.
#221 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:22 AM:

the noncom in charge utters the immortal line to one of the squaddies: "Put the kettle on - we could all do with a brew."

That line, right there, was the most realistic part of the whole film. ("28 Days Later", by comparison? All those troops holed up in that manor house, and no tea? Sorry, no.)

213: indeed. "Hornblower in the West Indies", in fact. Hornblower versus, successively, Bonapartists, pirates, renegades, and hurricanes.

#222 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:27 AM:

CRV # 215: "you can learn a lot about how much to trust your local community by listening to talk on the bus."

I can see it now:

CRV on Zombie infected bus, listening into conversation.

zombie 1: auuuah
zombie 2: braaains
zombie 1: aahuu braiiins
little old lady zombie: eeeh brainssss
little old lady zombie's zombie dog hidden in purse: grrrr
zombie 1: brrrraiiins
heavy metal zombie: urrrgh
zombie 1 and 2: braiiiiinsss
heavy metal zombie: urrrgggghhhhh
zombie 1,2, little old lady zombie: braaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssss
heavy metal zombie: urrrrgghgghh............. brains.
little old lady zombie's zombie dog hidden in purse: yip yip

CRV (thinking, hiding beneath seat): {glad I got all these guns with me.}

#223 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:31 AM:

A course of emergency contraception could be a very good thing to have on your person in case you or someone you care for has been raped

Keeping in mind that regular old birth control pills work as EC--I think it's take four of them a day for three days, starting from the beginning of a pack if it's the kind that has variable levels of hormones.

You'll be miserably sick (so make sure you have water), but if you've got somewhere to hole up or are still OK to travel with occasional puke breaks, it works.

#224 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Let me see what my little bag would cost if you bought it all new. I'm going to use Froogle to find prices.

Fanny pack (14x6x5): $6.59
AA Mini-mag flashlight: $9.49
AM/FM radio: $4.50
AA batteries (four-pack): $3.00
Moleskin: $2.13
Bag Balm (1 oz. tin): $4.79
Cuticle scissors: $2.95
Space blanket: $1.49
Disposable poncho: $1.19
Water (@ $2.50 for an eight pack): $0.32
Whistle: $3.25
Cash: $110.00
Disposable lighters: $0.50
Lifeboat matches: $3.49
Prepaid phone card: $5.00
Pen: $0.05
Notepad: $0.50
Inventory list: real cheap (can be in notepad)
List of phone numbers: real cheap (can be in notepad)
=======
Total is 159.24, of which most is the supply of cash-on-hand. Without the cash supply it's under fifty bucks. If you already have most of this stuff scattered around the house, it's cheaper still. I really do recommend having the cash.

The Mini-mag flashlight is the single most expensive item, and you can probably find a cheaper flashlight, but Mini-mags are Really Good Flashlights.

Total weight under two pounds, of which most is the water and the roll of quarters.

#225 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:37 AM:

CRV #109--twice I've been in situations where the National Guard was called up by the governor to deal with an emergency (three times if you count drving through Misouri and Illinois during the 1003 floods there). In those cases, we all knew the Guard had been called up, they went about in groups, and whether or not they went armed depended on what they had been detailed to do.

In no case were they acting without orders.

I would seriously stress that you talk with your senior NCOs about what regulations apply to your conduct in a civil emergency in detail, because just putting on your uniform, picking up a weapon and assuming authority without having been ordered to do so could have significant unpleasant consequences, legally speaking.

That doesn't mean that your military training would not be of use in an emergency, because there's a lot you have been taught hat can be useful--from first aid to remaining calm to leading by example--none of which require a uniform to do. It just means that there are, as far as I understand it, specific limits on what you can and cannot do. Failing a declaration of martial law, the regular civil authorities would be justifiably annoyed by your inserting yourself (without specific orders) into a situation in such a manner, and entitled to take steps.

Before letting your romantic inclinations run loose, get advice on the matter from someone who knows the military regulations that apply to such situations better than you appear to.

#226 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:43 AM:

ajay: As a chap who seems to have had some first-hand experience of these things, what would be your minimalist brew kit?

Hexy stove, mess tin, teabags, powdered milk/sugar? UHT packs?

Come to think of it, what do they put in UK ration packs?

#227 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:44 AM:

For a family of two, of course, that's (159.24x2) $318.48 which is about the same as the FEMA list mentioned in the article. One bag per person. But at least you should be able to lift it.

#228 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:52 AM:

For what it's worth, CRV, while I am not necessarily thrilled at the idea of people wandering around with guns as a general concept, in the specific... well.

Someone I love dearly was just this past week the victim of a home invasion. She was held at gunpoint, beaten about the head and had her home ransacked for cash and valuables. And the thing is, she's lucky that's all that happened to her. It could have been... well, I don't even like to think what it could have been.

Two days later, a friend of hers gave her a shotgun to keep in the house, and is giving her lessons on how to use it. And she told me, maybe it's only psychological, but the knowledge that it's there (and the knowledge that there is nothing quite so deterring to a would-be invader as the k-chak of a shotgun round being chambered on the other side of the door) makes her feel much, much better.

*shrug* I think it is psychological, mostly; that doesn't lessen its value. There are few things worse than that feeling of violation and powerlessness.

My roommate and I are currently discussing (largely as a result of what happened above) whether we should have a gun in our house or not. I'm scared of guns, even though (maybe because) I've been trained to use them. But I'm more scared of what could happen if the worst should occur and we have no way to protect ourselves.

And while in the abstract I agree that America's love affair with firearms is brutish and destabilizing, in the concrete - I want to be safe. I want my family safe. At this point it's not about logic.

#229 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:54 AM:

Yup, following 181 and 210, you're not trying to pack a bag that will enable you to survive the complete destruction of civilization. You're trying to pack a bag that will get you to a shelter or other place of safety, and you're operating on the assumption that help will be arriving and stability will return.

Carrie S. @ 223 -- Plan B, being over-the-counter now, may actually be easier to put in your bag than extra birth control pills for emergency contraception purposes. My insurance won't pay for me to have more than 3 months' supply of the latter at once, but I can go get a couple doses of Plan B at the local pharmacy and just hold onto them. Plan B has a four-year shelf life, so it would keep nicely in a bag.

Also, not all birth control pills can be used for emergency contraception. Here is a list of which ones can be used and how to use them.

Obviously, if birth control is one of your prescription meds, you should still keep a month's worth in your bag. But a dose of Plan B isn't a bad idea to keep alongside it.

#230 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Bryan @ 222:

Zombies aren't so bad. You just need to give them a stake* in society. Try taking them to a political rally.

speaker: What do we want?
crowd: Brains!
speaker: When do we want them?
crowd: Brains!

* there was going to be a pun about vampires here, but I'm not feeling that evil this morning.

#231 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:07 AM:

A.J. #230: a stake*

Werewolves, on the other hand...

#232 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Jakob @ 231
A.J. #230: a stake*
Werewolves, on the other hand...

Werewolves only like steaks if they're really rare. They do like them with sauteed garlic-mushrooms, tho'. Not so much on the sauteed mushrooms for vampires, for some reason...

#233 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Leigh Butler @ 228 --

I had severe anxiety for a long time, taking the form of a phobia of home invasions that didn't allow me to sleep at night. I thought, very seriously, about buying a gun -- after weeks of not sleeping, listening to every noise and bracing myself for an attack, it seemed logical. But buying a gun wouldn't have helped my fear significantly; getting treated for anxiety did.

I've been told by multiple people-who-should-know that you should not own a gun unless you are fully prepared to shoot to kill, without hesitation.

Question whether owning a gun will actually make you and your family safer, or whether it will make you less safe. On a past thread here, someone stated that "a gun is a tool, not a magic wand" (or similar -- I'm paraphrasing). Talismans that make you feel safe can be good, but is it worth the real risks that come with owning a gun?

I don't want to minimize what you and your friend have been through. As I stated, that's my worst nightmare, the thing I fear most. I guess I'm just questioning whether buying a gun is the best way to overcome that fear.

#234 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Neil Willcox #218: It might be as many as three or four (training voyages, drug indictment, humanitarian aid &c.), but there's always one on station.

I think you're right about Hornblower.

#235 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Leigh @ #228,

That's a horrid thing that happened to your loved one. And yes, they are fortunate that nothing worse occurred. Still, I imagine the psychological shadow of that attack is very, very long. If owning and knowing how to use a firearm helps your loved one regain a sense of security in the home, whether it's placebo or not, then that's a Good Thing in my book.

My mother used to work evenings and graves as a PBX operator at a hospital out in the west part of Salt lake City. One night in the mid-90's she was leaving the building and got knocked down, hit, and had her purse stolen by a group of young males. She had to pick herself up and take herself into the emergency room on her own power.

The effects of that attack linger still. And I think anyone, male or female, who has been mugged, beaten, or otherwise victimized in such a way, will struggle to overcome the psychological wounds, long after physical wounds have healed.

If a firearm or firearms training assists in the healing, so be it.

Back in lovely urban Tacoma, we spent a couple months dealing with a serial home rapist. Until he was caught and sent to prison, even my wife the staunch anti-gun opinionist, began to debate the necessity of a firearm. When I was away at work in Seattle and it was just her and our 2-year old daughter at home, with the serial rapist victimizing houses in our immediate area, what could she use to protect herself and our daughter? Beyond kitchen utensils?

#236 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Caroline @ 233: I guess I'm just questioning whether buying a gun is the best way to overcome that fear.

I'm questioning it too. That's why my roomie and I are talking about it, rather than have already gone and gotten one.

The thing is, I think carrying around a gun is insane, and very likely to get yourself and other people seriously injured or killed.

But having one in your house, with all necessary storage/accessibility precautions taken of course, is different. If someone's breaking into your house, while you're in it, there's basically zero possibility that they have anything but Very Bad Things in mind to do. At that point, it's automatically a life or death situation.

So, I ask myself, would I be willing to shoot to kill, in that situation? Because you're right, if I'm not I shouldn't have a gun.

...And I can't answer that question. I could say that I think I could, because I do think so, but I don't know. I don't think anyone ever knows, until they're actually in that moment. Not about something like that.

Which... doesn't help me solve my dilemma, really.

#237 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Going way back to before the gun discussion started (catching up late), for anyone who's a fan of cryptic crosswords they're a great way to pass the time. Yesterday I went to the hospital with my Mom -- turns out she had a broken hip, and the operation last night was successful -- and though she was taken immediately to a separate room, I did need to pass the time while she was being seen to initially. The cryptics worked great, and kept me from flipping out as well. The (UK) Daily Telegraph Big Books will fit nicely in all but teensy purses.

#238 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:45 AM:

CRV @ 235:

Two home-security options come to mind that don't involve firearms. These aren't necessarily intended to apply to the particulars of the case you cite; I'm tossing them out for educational purposes.

1) Self-defense classes: Learn how to break holds and kick nuts. Has the added advantage of getting one in better shape; bad health kills a lot more people than home invaders.

2) the "creative" option: Get an air-raid or ambulance siren in a junkyard, something really loud. Place switches or buttons for it around the house, preferably in places where the cat can't accidentally trip them off during the night. If you hear an Unexplained Person in the house, you hit the siren, causing Unexplained Person to run, the neighbors to call the police, and your cat to have an aneurysm.

The nice thing about option 2 is that if the siren goes off accidentally, it's not likely to kill anyone. Also, you can install switches in every room, which is better than stashing guns around the house.

#239 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Leigh -
So, I ask myself, would I be willing to shoot to kill, in that situation? Because you're right, if I'm not I shouldn't have a gun.

...And I can't answer that question. I could say that I think I could, because I do think so, but I don't know. I don't think anyone ever knows, until they're actually in that moment. Not about something like that.

Which... doesn't help me solve my dilemma, really.

Almost nobody really does until they are put in the situation, however. And this includes soldiers, police officers, people who spend a lot fo time on ranges (this group does not, in fact, always overlap with the first two) - until you're staring the elephant in the eye, most people don't actually know if they can pull the trigger.

Thank goodness in most situations, it doesn't actually come to that.

#240 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Almost nobody really does until they are put in the situation, however. And this includes soldiers, police officers, people who spend a lot fo time on ranges (this group does not, in fact, always overlap with the first two) - until you're staring the elephant in the eye, most people don't actually know if they can pull the trigger.

Which provides at least some practical guidance.

Is it worth spending money on weapon you're quite likely not to have the nerve to use?

Would the money be better spent on an improved lock, better windows, or a security service?

Is it worth creating the dilemma of having to choose between running to call 911 and getting help, versus running to get a gun you may not be emotionally able to use? Do you want to have one more decision (gun or phone) to make in an emergency?

Is it worth the risk of having the gun you don't have the nerve to use fall into the hands of an attacker?

Is it worth the risk of having a gun available to escalate a domestic fight, given that home is already one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be?

Is it worth the risk that a child may well get past any security measures you set, and get the gun in their hands as "play"?

Is it worth having knowing that reasonable measures to keep the gun from being misused (basic being unloaded weapon and ammunition being locked up separately) will also delay you getting your hands on it when you need to use it?

#241 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:35 PM:

A little late out of the blocks, can I just add in a vote for "tuiles", here? (Though naturally I originally flashed on these tules.)

#242 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Evacuating by car - or how to survive a six hour traffic jam with grace.

Make sure that you have a large number of plastic bags, baking soda, and a large open-mouthed container, such as a coffee can. Toilet tissue, flushable wipes, and absorbent crystals don't hurt, either. Keep the plastic bags, the paper, the crystals, and the baking soda all in the can, with lid sealed tight.

Instant in-car porta-pottie. Especially useful for having a four-year-old girl who has to go "now!" just when it looks as though the traffic might begin moving again shortly. Sprinkle some baking soda and crystals into the bag before it's used. Use double-bagging. Can also be used for anyone else who has issues during evacuation or unexpected traffic jams.

Empty contents of inner bags into port-o-john or toilet when you reach the destination, replace into outer bags, and dispose of.

#243 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:05 PM:

CRV @109:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

Yes.

(The armed redneck is an immediate threat. And the US army soldier means we've been invaded, so he's a threat, too.)

Now, if you replace (b) with a Lothian and Borders Police officer, it's a different matter ...

#244 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:07 PM:

A.J. @#258: not to mention the other benefit of self-defense classes: they teach you how to fall.

Not everyone will be attacked during the course of a lifetime. But EVERYBODY falls.

#245 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:19 PM:

CRV: Here in the UK, the army is occasionally called out on the streets to back up the usual civilian agencies in handling some abnormal situation -- for example, when the fire service goes on strike, someone has to put out fires. But they leave their guns back in the barracks; law enforcement is a Police job, and the army are there for machinery and muscle.

Troops with guns on the streets of a British town or city means troops who are prepared to shoot to kill. It screams "terrorist insurgency", on the level of the Northern Irish troubles and Operation Motorman and internment camps and hundreds of people disappearing in the night and mist.

(Likewise, even seeing a cop with a gun -- anywhere other than an airport or a nuclear reactor -- is cause for alarm: it's an armed response unit and somewhere nearby something is happening that got them called out. Because recourse to lethal force is non-routine, the mere presence of weapons implies imminent use.)

Again: there's been some sort of civil disaster? Unarmed troops on the street: great. Armed troops: absolutely bloody terrifying.

#246 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Speaking of Not Knowing What You'll Do In An Emergency, I've seen a person who did Really Well in CPR class, the first time he was faced with a real human on the ground in need of CPR being unable to act, even after being told, "Come over here and help!"

#247 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:52 PM:

James D. MacDonald @246, I think there are people who don't have the necessary "work now, freak later" bypass circuit.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:07 PM:

I can't have a supply of meds in my Go bag. I can't get a month ahead, because one of my meds is Schedule Two, and I'm only allowed a one-month supply at a time (actually a 30-day supply, which is somewhat less than an average month's).

As far as guns...if the criterion is "willing to shoot to kill," I might as well not have it. Intimidation works just as well with a fake gun, but if the intruder is armed, that could get me killed.

Not to mention Ursula's excellent questions at 240, which I answer No, Yes, and then it's No all the way down. (Well, I'm not worried about domestic fights, in my current situation, but I'll still say No.)

#249 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Ursula @ 240:

(The below, obviously, doesn't apply to everyone. I'm answering your questions as they apply to my particular situation.)

Is it worth spending money on weapon you're quite likely not to have the nerve to use?

I don't know about the "quite likely" part. The idea of someone breaking into my home and trying to rob me or worse scares me, but it also makes me very, very angry.

But as I said, no one can ever know until they're there. But somehow it seems worse not to even have the option.

Would the money be better spent on an improved lock, better windows, or a security service?

Actually, I could get the gun for free, or almost free. I don't have the money for a security system.

Is it worth creating the dilemma of having to choose between running to call 911 and getting help, versus running to get a gun you may not be emotionally able to use? Do you want to have one more decision (gun or phone) to make in an emergency?

That's not much of a dilemma, unfortunately. Given that typical hold times for 911 in L.A. were ten to twenty minutes (if you could get through at all!), and I can't imagine they're much better in New York (where I am now), if someone's busting into my place the answer is obvious.

Is it worth the risk of having the gun you don't have the nerve to use fall into the hands of an attacker?

This is definitely a very legitimate concern, though. My dad asked me the same question when I told him I had bought a baseball bat for home defense.

And on reflection, the gun actually wins over the bat, because with a gun you don't have to be within arm's reach of your attacker.

But still, yes. A concern.

Is it worth the risk of having a gun available to escalate a domestic fight, given that home is already one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be?

I live with a roommate, also a woman, who's been one of my best friends since high school. Not an issue.

Is it worth the risk that a child may well get past any security measures you set, and get the gun in their hands as "play"?

No kids in the house. Very unlikely to ever be kids in the house. Not an issue.

Is it worth having knowing that reasonable measures to keep the gun from being misused (basic being unloaded weapon and ammunition being locked up separately) will also delay you getting your hands on it when you need to use it?

Yeah, I wondered about this. However, given that I don't have to worry about children or angry spouses finding a loaded gun, I figure engaging the safety and storing it in a place where it won't be accidentally disturbed would suffice.

But that's definitely a question I would ask my instructor. I've trained with firearms before, but that was years ago; if I do get one again I'll want a refresher course, all of which include gun safety protocols.

I just don't know. The pros and cons seem almost equal to me right now. But it's good that these concerns are being raised; thanks for bringing them up.

#250 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:00 PM:

I will not have a gun in my house. That way, when the beast is eating me alive, I only have to worry about wanting to run the car into a concrete wall.

#251 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:34 PM:

No kids in the house. Very unlikely to ever be kids in the house. Not an issue.

No kids living there? Or no kids likely to ever visit?

And the gun will follow you out of the house, absent a deliberate act to get rid of it. (Assuming you aren't going to just leave it behind for the next owner/tenant.) Do you see kids, living with or visiting, as likely in your future? Visiting is the tricky one - a visitor can be unexpected, and while no one should gripe about a mess, stress about a forgotten gun being found is on a different level.

Also, are you comfortable with the legal options for getting rid of a gun, so you are not putting the gun into the hands of someone you'd rather not have it? Getting rid of something is always an issue once it is obtained, and just putting it in the trash isn't really a good way to get rid of a gun.

#252 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Ursula, I have to ask, how much practical, hands-on experience have you had with firearms?

#253 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Ursula @ 251:

No kids living there? Or no kids likely to ever visit?

Yes.

Do you see kids, living with or visiting, as likely in your future?

No, but I have no idea what the future will bring. New city, and all.

But I don't see it being that big a problem - if I can remember to whisk the couch and take out the trash before company comes over, I can remember to lock up a firearm.

Also, are you comfortable with the legal options for getting rid of a gun, so you are not putting the gun into the hands of someone you'd rather not have it?

If I got a gun, it would almost certainly be one of my father's; if I decided I didn't want it any more, it would go to another family member.

Though that does remind me to look into the rules about shipping firearms across state lines...

#254 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Leigh: if the kill/non-kill issue is what gives you pause, consider the several, non-lethal cartridges that can be used in shotguns. Namely, rock salt or the new "bean bag" round that is gaining popularity with law enforcement. These rounds will hurt or incapacitate an assailant, without necessarily fatally injuring them. You might also consider a tazer, which is another non-lethal weapon which can incapacitate.

A.J: I studied for two years under a genuine Okinawan Karate-do master, and he was of the opinion that hand-to-hand was only realistic if the assailant was unarmed and of similar mass to yourself. He used to caution the females especially on this. A 115-pound female, however well trained, would have to be pretty lucky in taking down or overpowering a 230-pound male attacker. Most of the time, in a hand-to-hand fight, mass wins. Your siren idea is interesting, in that most home invaders are nervous as hell anyway. We had a guy walk into our home in Seattle one morning after I'd gone to work and our roommmate had left the door unlocked, and all it took to scare the guy out was my wife waking up and shouting. Guy ran down three flights and out the door like the Devil Himself was on the guy's heels.

#255 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:31 PM:

CRV @ 254:

consider the several, non-lethal cartridges that can be used in shotguns. Namely, rock salt or the new "bean bag" round

Which is what I think my friend is buying for the shotgun she was given, now that I think about it...

You might also consider a tazer, which is another non-lethal weapon which can incapacitate.

A taser would be great. Unfortunately, those puppies run anywhere from $500 to over a grand, and are therefore waaaay out of my budget at the current time.

Taking the lethality factor down a few notches would definitely be nice, though. Hm. We'll see.

#256 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Our top five countdown of emergencies round here have all happened in smaller scale already in the past 10 years so I already know where issues are.

Flood and landslides too common and sadly preventable in most cases.
Power outage can cope from home with no big deal.
Riots. They shut down transit and streets so non rioters were trapped downtown with rioters. People were taking refuge in the Starbucks.
Fire. We have seasonal arsonists that set home garages on fire every year and a accident prone homeless population.
Earthquake.
I have plan and gear for all but earthquake. I guess any quake large enough to make leaving the house necessary will have already toppled the piece of crap we rent down around me.

For the first 20 years of my life I had a in case of nuclear strike plan in the back of my head. Why yes films like Threads scarred me. That's the one what if plan I was glad to ditch.

#257 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Would y'all please take the firearm discussion over to this thread?

It's totally off-topic for a go-bag discussion.

If there were any convenient way for me to port them to the other thread, I'd do so. There isn't, so I'm shutting down comments in this thread for a while.

#258 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 06:47 AM:

131: Entirely up to personal preference, I would say. Include a hexy stove, tin mug with plastic rim (so you can cook in it and then drink from it without burning your mouth), steritabs, lighter.

The 24-hour compo pack includes, if I remember, instant tea with milk 6, sugar 6, instant coffee 4, coffee whitener 4, drinking chocolate (useful for bribery) 1, powdered soup 1, stock powder (beef or vegetable) 1, electrolyte powder 1. And if you tried to drink all that in 24 hours, I think your kidneys would EXPLODE.

(Also chewing gum 2 packs, matches 1 pack, steritabs 6).

The pack's meals are boil-in-the-bag, which means that, once you've heated your meal, you have some hot water left over for a brew. An advantage over MREs, which have those chemical heater things - very neat, but the water's undrinkable afterwards.

But, as Jim says, it really does all depend on the emergency you're planning for. I'd take a brew kit into the hills or on a drive in remote country or wherever, but I don't keep one handy as a go bag. And in the event of a CRV-style apocalypse, I would not be fleeing for the hills or whatever, because I don't have any dependents to worry about, and anyway my job dictates differently.


#259 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 09:18 AM:

A box of one-gallon zip-seal plastic bags and a roll of paper towels have been part of our car kit for years ... experience gained from routinely traveling three hours and one mountain pass with four kids in order to get anywhere interesting.

#260 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Back when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida (when FEMA was useless after Bush I, as opposed to now when FEMA is useless after Bush II), a lady in Florida used GEnie to organize her own relief effort.

That was Cookie Lady, so-called from her Girl Scout connection. I was a Girl Scout leader in those days, so the Colebrook Girl Scouts put together our own send-to-Florida boxes, which Cookie Lady would put in her car and drive out to where they'd be useful.

What we put in the boxes:

An AM/FM/NOAA Weather radio (a local hardware store had a bunch of them that they had discounted, then discounted again, then reduced for quick sale), appropriate batteries, a box of tea bags, and a box of Kotex. Put the kits in boxes, packed the spaces with baby clothes, sent 'em on down.

They seem to have been appreciated.

#261 ::: Synova ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Having evacuated with a three month old during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption I'd add two things...

For each infant or child under the age of 10... a hospital style (or something similar) ID bracelet. Something that can't be taken off.

And water.

Your evacuation bag list doesn't include water.

The baby supplies are a big one. I was fortunate enough to be nursing but I got dangerously dehydrated. Still, that was better than those with infants who were using formula because *there was none to be found*. After a week it was all gone. Water and formula is more important than diapers.

#262 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 12:46 PM:

If you want to add water to your evacuation bag, I suggest you pick up a Camelbak M.U.L.E. and use it as the backpack.

#263 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Alas, my comment that was at #187 is now nowhere at all. No doubt that's partly just desserts for being an ass in haiku, which is fine; but I'm hoping the part about a tiny plastic bottle of single malt scotch might reappear? It really was nice to have that when the stress of travelling surrounded by people got to me, and I bet that's going to be an issue while walking to shelters.

I also fully endorse the suggestions of LED headlamps. The size of a walnut, but they mean you can comfortably read on planes and busses, or find what you've dropped in the middle of the night outdoors. Their straps make them easy to find and fish out of your bag.

#264 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Madeline F @ 147,

I thought your original post was a joke. Now that you're insisting it isn't, I'm uncomfortable. I have fairly regular dealings with alcoholics/AA/AlAnon, and what you're saying sounds very like the standard addict's excuse: "Hey, a stressful situation! Everyone uses my drug of choice to cope, right?"

No doubt that isn't what you intend, but that's what I hear.

In any case, I'm not sure that alcohol is going to make a stressful situation better. (I have visions of a drunk person staggering through the crowd at a shelter, for example, or a small child getting hold of the stash, with dire results, or bored teenagers finding out about the stash, with worse results.) I would want my decision making skills, such as they are, as unimpaired as possible.

Juli

#265 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 01:43 PM:

I've made the post reappear.

#266 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 01:47 PM:

I'll also comment here that, as I've posted elsewhere, alcohol and disaster don't mix.

Along with everything else (like clouded judgment), alcohol contributes to both hypothermia and dehydration, and both of those are killers.

A hat, a shawl, and binder clips are good suggestions, though. I encourage everyone to think through what makes sense for them in their situation and location, and adjust accordingly.

#267 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 02:32 PM:

ajay@143: "And if you tried to drink all that in 24 hours, I think your kidneys would EXPLODE."

British squaddies (and coppers) all come with an infinite capacity to consume Tea. It's a job requirement.

I've whipped out my emergency kit to see how it compares to the discussion so far. For a start, mine is modular. I've a number of waterproof nylon stuff sacks with drawcords about 4 x 2 x 6 inches. There are two stuff sacks that are always packed and go anywhere I might take an emergency kit:-


  • One is a first aid kit that's probably more comprehensive than most with an emphasis on stabilising one or more major casualties. It was put together originally for the 'falling off a mountain' scenario. This also contains all the blister/chaffing handling type items.

  • The second is the 'base pack' that goes with anything. It contains, in no particular order:

    • Petzl headtorch and spare batteries.

    • Leatherman tool including knife, can opener, pliers etc.

    • Compass, whistle, maglite solitaire (single AAA battery) torch and emergency signals aide memoire laminated card - all on a short loop of cord. The aide memoire is not because I'd ordinarily forget them, but because I might well forget what to do if I had hypothermia.

    • Condoms, latex, six - as previously discussed.

    • Waterproof notepad and mechanical PENCIL.

    • Plastic bags.

    • Length of gaffa tape (duct tape).

    • Disposable lighter. Lifeboat matches. Magnesium firestarting block with integral flint, knife and striker.

    • Candle. Hard wax, long burning type.

    • About 10 metres of paracord. This is the nylon kernmantle cord used for the shroud lines of parachutes. Breaking strain in the close order of 200Kg but little thicker than string.

    • Space blanket and bivvi bag. I'm surprised the latter hasn't had a mention yet. Two heavy plastic bags about 6 foot by two. One army drab green, one international signal orange. You stick one inside the other, stuff the gap between them with straw or dry leaves and you've got a waterproof, windproof shelter or sleeping bag.




  • I've a seperate water carrier (Platypus/camelbak type).

    The Scotsman in me (25% Scots, 50% Irish, 25% English) wants to add a Great Kilt to the list. This isn't the skirt of nowadays but a huge bolt of fabric as wide as you are tall and long enough to make a snug bed for a Highlander sleeping outdoors as well as a garment.

    #268 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 02:35 PM:

    Go Bags! Beat Satchels! Yaaaayyyyy!

    #269 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 02:38 PM:

    Ian, you might want to check out my first aid kit and my wilderness bag. Here.

    #270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 02:39 PM:

    Hmm, in the move of the firearms discussion, the handaxe discussion also went. I think we wound up agreeing that the items-you-want list should be sorted by the ratio of usefulness (by both degree and probability) to weight, in descending order, and then draw the line at the total weight you think you can carry for as long as you're going to have to carry the go bag.

    I also recommended putting the things with the lowest ratio on top, so you can throw them away easily should your calculations prove incorrect.

    That's the only part of the moved discussion that I found relevant to THIS discussion.

    Jim, if you disagree, please just delete this post.

    #271 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 03:04 PM:

    #149 Juli Thompson: Too true. I work in an addiction research lab, and uncles on both sides were alcoholics, so I am aware of the cliff awaiting when alcohol becomes a crutch.

    #150, 151 James D. Macdonald: Thanks. And yeah, you do have very good points.

    Let's see, the other thing I remember as useful and light was a washcloth. Solid nubbly piece of fabric, I used it to wipe out my cup, and to wipe bird poop off of me when subjected to a direct hit. Could also have been useful as a handkerchief.

    Things that were not useful: a plastic origami cup that folded flat: more trouble than it was worth, almost, though having a place to mix up instant coffee was gold. A real plastic or metal cup would have been better, though.

    4 binder clips: 2 was good, 4 was just clackety overkill.

    #272 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 03:47 PM:

    Madeline F @148: I also fully endorse the suggestions of LED headlamps. The size of a walnut, but they mean you can comfortably read on planes and busses, or find what you've dropped in the middle of the night outdoors. Their straps make them easy to find and fish out of your bag.

    These have been so useful for me, I carry one in my pocket almost as often as I carry a cellphone. I recently had the opportunity to play 'helpful stranger' for a guy who was changing a flat tire at night in a downpour. Holding an umbrella helped a bit. Having a flashlight handy... priceless.

    #273 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 03:57 PM:

    Madeline #148, Rob #157:

    My husband recently acquired a neat little ear-mounted LED, looks sort of like one of those Bluetooth phone thingies. It came in quite handy the last time the power failed inexplicably; he was cheerfully reading along while I was trying to aim my old-fashioned foldup reading light with one hand and manage the pages with the other.

    #274 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 04:11 PM:

    I have a little LED (blue) flashlight keychain thingie tethered to my purse. It came in handy the day the computer at work was replaced and they left the mouse and keyboard for me to plug in. Under the desk, against the partition, with not enough light from the open side to see the connectors.

    Now I also have a white-LED windup light in my desk (along with pliers and screwdrivers). And some tuna-salad kits.

    #275 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 08:25 PM:

    Dave Bell: My Pennywhistles are not disposable (the cheapest of them was about $90US). More to the point, cheap whistles (Generation, Oak, etc.) don’t do well for long periods in a car (the fipples get brittle and break). But they are easy to tuck into nooks and crannies. If you add a small book of tunes, you can take a few, and give lessons.

    Stefan: That gets called flint, it’s actually a mix of magnesium and some other metals. It’s handy, but a zippo and a small tin of fluid works too.

    Greg London: Ingredients to add (available in bulk) Gluten, and diastatic malt (i.e. malt powder). The first makes the crumb stronger, which make the bubbles more solid. The second provide free sugars for the yeast.

    On the other side of things, breadmaker bread tends to be dense, It doesn’t have the means to get good oven spring.

    jakob: A “compo” has a days rations. Tea, , white teas, coffee, cocoa powder, brown biccies, fruit biccies (very good) some spread for the brown biccies. A breakfast-ish meal (the pork and beans are good) a meat dish for supper, and a some form of desserty thing (the treacle tart needs heating). All of the stuff is either canned (the spreads) in tear-open packets (the biccies) or in heavy packets meant to be boiled. Most of them need to be boiled.

    It also has one veggie soup powder (quite tasty, and filling) and some bouillon powder (adequate), and some sugar.

    I happen to have a compo in my car (as well as about six MREs).

    ajay: The advantage of the chemical heater is that it only takes a small amount of water, and we don’t have to carry hexy, a stove, or a mess-kit. Trade-offs.

    James re Camelbacks: I have one of the full-sized Camelback Rucks. Yes, it adds to the cost of the kit (I spent $160 on mine). 3 ltrs water, main portion (with vertical and horizontal cross-straps; four zipper pulls, and a full race for the zippers), secondary section, tertiary section (with only a single zipper, but several smallish sections; very useful for maps, papers, reference books (e.g. first aid). It also has two small side pouches (double zippered) and a full-width bottom pouch, across the back; double-zippered. A chest strap, padded back (with airflow) and a (removable) hip belt. The drinking tube can be mounted to the left, or the right. It weighs about 4 lbs. empty.

    It's not the best "go-bag" thing, but for one of the larger sorts of disasters it might be useful.

    I use it as my primary ruck, because it is comfortable, has lots of webbing points for external attachments, and a pair of velcro-loop strips for ID, blood-type, etc.

    I also have a M.U.L.E., which has the aid kit for horseback riding.

    #276 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 09:04 PM:

    I don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but bungee cords are fantastically useful in a variety of situations. They come in all sizes, and could easily be added to a fanny pack emergency kit at little or no cost, either in dollars or in weight.

    #277 ::: DILBERT DOGBERT ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 11:08 PM:

    People found during the San Jose earthquake yesterday that cellphones were inoperable for about 15 to 30 minutes after the shaking stopped. Land lines worked fine. Our problem would be that our connection to the land line is thru our cordless - no power, no phone. We would have to crank up the generator at that point. The next line of communication would be via ham radio. Now that the code requirement has been eliminated, getting a license is easy.
    People might consider joining the local search and rescue organization. Then you would have the phone numbers and radio frequencies for you local dispatch.
    Some might find that a pain in the ass when you get called out at midnight, the usual time, to go look for a missing hiker, kid or confused old person.

    #278 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 11:22 PM:

    Jim, you pulled at least one post that wasn't about guns.

    Jeremy Preacher, #? (was 127), I went to high school with a girl named Jeffrey, and her three sisters all had male names starting with J, too. Here's the names and what non-family called them: James (Jami), Jeffrey (Fi, said Fee), Jeremy (Jeri), and Joshua (Jo). It seemed awfully mean that they were named that way.

    Faren, #136 (was 237) I'm glad your mom is okay. Breaking hips is a big deal.

    I realized Monday night that I have a Go Bag that most people don't need. I have one for the hospital, which goes with me when the EMTs take me to the ER. I have:

    - Gowns that fit me and snap both in back and on both shoulders
    - A robe that fits and snaps in front and both shoulders
    - Good slippers
    - Pen and notepad
    - A couple of paperbacks
    - An old (working) alarm clock
    - A list of my diagnoses, doctors, insurance, and meds
    - A really big three-ring notebook with my history (three-ring so people can make their own copy)
    - A list of important phone numbers (I have a cell phone now, but I still keep the list)
    - A roll of quarters (usually used for the WashPost)
    - Some money for other things I need

    #279 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 11:36 PM:

    Dilbert@162: The next line of communication would be via ham radio. Now that the code requirement has been eliminated, getting a license is easy.

    Yeah, I keep thinking I should get my ham license. I don't know why I haven't done it yet. Not just for it's survival capacity, but because it'd be cool to play around with.

    #280 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 11:44 PM:

    Marilee 163: Drew Barrymore's real first name is Andrew.

    #281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2007, 12:07 AM:

    #160: Are "compos" worth getting for stowing in your car / emergency bag? They sound more like honest "iron rations", and good as such, rather than half-hearted attempts at real food which MREs are reported to be.

    If so, is there a source to get them cheap?

    #282 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2007, 07:09 AM:

    Xopher #165: And Ann Rice's name is Howard.

    #283 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2007, 09:56 AM:

    Terry Karney @ 160 wrote:

    Dave Bell: My Pennywhistles are not disposable (the cheapest of them was about $90US). More to the point, cheap whistles (Generation, Oak, etc.) don’t do well for long periods in a car (the fipples get brittle and break). But they are easy to tuck into nooks and crannies. If you add a small book of tunes, you can take a few, and give lessons.

    For emergency music, consider a plastic recorder. Inexpensive, light weight, compact, resistant to water and cold, and with a little practice, you can get a lovely tone and play a very large range of music, including a large range of Renaissance and Baroque music written for the recorder. Also easy to wash the mouthpiece if you're going to be sharing the instrument, such as giving lessons to a fellow shelter resident.

    #284 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2007, 10:07 AM:

    160: they're on sale in civi camping shops, at least in the UK, under the "Wayfarer" brand name. You can eat them cold, too, if you want - they're already cooked. I would advise eating them in the dark. The first time I ate one in the daylight I found the colour quite startling.

    #285 ::: Kat ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2007, 10:27 AM:

    Something that I think no one has mentioned, but are brilliant anyway: sanitary napkins (yay, pads!). While tampons are great for most women's needs, a couple of pads (1) are lightweight and can lie incredibly flat at the bottom of a bag, thus making them a dandy addition if you so choose, (2) can be used for young misses you may either be related to or come in contact with if it becomes abruptly required, (3) can be used to staunch large wounds without too much worry about sterility (I don't believe they're technically sterile, but on the other hand, you're carrying them around individually wrapped in plastic), and (4) the best use: as any Girl Scout who's spent enough time at summer camp knows, can be wrapped around a stick and set on fire, creating a torch that lasts a remarkably long time while creating a lot of light (though I'm not sure whether an ultrathin pad will provide the same sort of jaunty flare as your standard thick overnight-with-wings variety. Testing time!). Kotex says

    "Our maxi pads and pantiliners are made mostly of wood cellulose fibers -- the same raw materials paper is made from. (We "fluff" these fibers to make the material absorbent and soft.) The outer cover and the moisture-proof shields are made with a moisture-proof plastic such as polypropylene or polyethylene, to help minimize leakage."

    With that sort of material, it's no surprise they burn easily. I imagine that they also make excellent fire starters for similar reasons.

    (By the way, while looking up "pad torch" on flickr, I found a pile of photos of people's go bags. Very fascinating. In further searching, I also found a youtube video of a maxi-pad and Axe deodorant fire combo, which is pretty awesome as well.)

    #286 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2007, 10:40 PM:

    Xopher & Fragrano, I always think the fathers must give the girls male names. My dad called my Ricky for 17 months until my brother was born and he got the name.

    #287 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2007, 05:02 PM:

    Madeline F @ 148 and subsequent comments (Juli Thompson @ 149, James D. Macdonald @151)

    I'm with Madeline F @148 on this one. While not wanting to minimise the risks of alcohol dependence, one miniature bottle of single-malt Scotch is not the same as "alcohol as a crutch". Neither is she recommending mixing alcohol and disaster. Rather, having a small piece of civilisation to savour after making your way out of potential disaster to at least temporary safety.

    After my disocated shoulder had been successfully reduced (after three hours!), I sighed and said I wanted a (single measure of) 18-year-old Glenlivet (I'd bought a bottle in duty free on my way to the USA, where the dislocation had occurred). My aunt and mother were both horrified, talking of the dangers of mixing painkillers and alcohol. I skipped the painkillers and went for the single malt. I didn't want it for the alcohol content - that was irrelevant. It was a piece of comfort, indicating "all is right with the world, you can relax now" - could as easily have been half a bar of really good chocolate or my favorite tea.

    #288 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2007, 06:34 PM:

    Zippos and other disposable lighters are well and good, but be aware that the fluid will evaporate, sometimes rather quickly if the lighter gets banged about.

    #289 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2007, 07:58 PM:

    On the alcohol -- I'm teetotal because I'm a supertaster, and thus the stuff holds no appeal to me whatsoever as a recreational drug. I have, nevertheless, occasionally used spirits for medicinal purposes. Usually instead of a bedtime dose of codeine after I've been taking codeine for several days during an extended bout of dental treatment, and am getting very fed up with the major side-effect of codeine. It's quite effective as a mild sedative if you're in slightly too much pain to sleep. I'd certainly think about a miniature of brandy or the like if I didn't have a bottle of codeine available.

    #290 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2007, 08:17 PM:

    Marilee #171: It's entirely possible. My father landed me with the given names I have, and got very angry when I asked him if he'd pay to have them changed by deed poll.

    #291 ::: Steve Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2007, 06:35 PM:

    Now that LED lights are so small, light, and reliable, I always carry one on my keychain. I recommend the "Sapphire" brand; it's not the smallest, but it's reliable, and when my first one quit the company replaced it without quibbling. I cannot count the number of times that a small problem has become a non-problem because I had a light in my pocket.

    Cheap plastic LED lights are common trade show giveaways, and I keep them all over the place . . . glovebox, desk drawer, travel bag.

    #292 ::: Dan Hardie ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:30 AM:

    I'd recommend iodine drops and absorption tablets, for water purification. They're cheap, small and potentially vital. You can buy them in any decent outdoors shop, and they cost about £3 each in the UK- likely to be $6 or less in the US. To use: fill your waterbottle with stream or rain water, drop the iodine in (proportions are written on the bottle, but if in doubt add extra drops), shake bottle and leave for ten minutes, add absorption tablets to get rid of the foul taste, leave for a few more minutes, and you have potable water.

    Also very useful for hiking: you can take one water bottle and refill it periodically from streams.

    #293 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:25 PM:

    Something that just occurred to me as being part of my emergency kit, but which is so basic that I generally forget to list it, is a metal cup. You can get one at any hiking store, and I never hike/backpack/etc. without one.

    Generally, I simply use it for drinking water or oatmeal. However, you can bring water to a boil in it with just a couple of burning twigs -- which eliminates the need for iodine tabs or bleach if you have time to boil several cup's worth. Save the tabs for when you don't have time. Plus, if you're freezing your butt off, hot liquid taken internally is awfully nice.

    Note: I'm not a big fan of iodine or bleach though I do use them if I don't have time to boil my water thoroughly. Under field conditions, using them properly is very difficult for the average person. I've gotten giardia after a hike when the only water I drank had a double dose of iodine in it. I suspect I didn't manage to get the mouth of the bottles purified adequately.

    Boiling water is also not sure-fire at very high altitudes but it's better than the water treatments.

    -- Leva

    #294 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:36 PM:

    Just to follow up on my previous post, the issue with "field conditions" and water treatment is the threads on the bottles. Getting them adequately sterilized is a lot easier with boiling water (dip the mouth of the bottle in the boiling water for a minute or two, then pour the boiling water into the bottle, carefully!) vs. with water treatment.

    Plus most people using water treatment tabs don't think about the threads. They'll fill the bottle with contaminated water, drop a tab in, and close the top. The threads, which are wet, are not exposed to the iodine or chlorine. Plus, even if you do swish water over the threads, they can trap dirt or spit or whatever and "protect" the nasty bug from the chemical that's supposed to kill it.

    Depending on what the specific nasty is in the water, the small amount of untreated water on the threads of the bottle may or may not be an issue.

    I like boiling the water simply because, while boiling water doesn't kill everything, it does kill most common nasties.

    #295 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:49 PM:

    Tin cups are in my Wilderness Bag. See also the tin-cup-survival-kit in the Dashing Through the Snow post.

    Tin cups are also useful for making a field-expedient traction splint. See Trauma and You Pt. Two: Sticks And Stones.

    #296 ::: Steve Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:08 PM:

    Leva - Good point about the mouth/threads of bottles. I will do my best to remember that one.

    Many published go-bag lists include a pillow. Even a small pillow is a lot of bulk. OTOH, if you have a pillowCASE, you can make a pillow out of laundry or found materials, and the pillowcase is also an emergency bag. Cf. Mrs. Robinson - the Swiss, not the seductress.

    This discussion inspired me to quit *thinking* about building a new go-bag, and DO it. I need to buy a half-dozen more things, but what I have pulled together is NOW zipped into a fanny pack where it can be grabbed. Don't just read and post; don't wait until you have time and money to do the perfect job. A paper bag is better than nothing to grab at all. Do it!

    #297 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:24 PM:

    I just went to the information session my work gave on Flexible Spending Accounts. My work offers a Health FSA where you set aside some money (up to $5,000, but take care, because any you don't use is gone in 2009) and get access to all of it on a debit card at the beginning of the year, and this is funded by taking a small chunk out of your paycheck pre-tax every pay period.

    The FSA lady talked about how you could use Health FSA money to buy over-the-counter drugs, first aid kits, even bandaids! At which point my eyebrows popped up and I started considering setting aside much more than I had been.

    If your work offers this kind of thing, the rest of this month is the time to jump on it. It's a 20-30% savings on many of the expensive parts of the earthquake kit, like anti-histamines to pass out to your co-sufferers, and bandaids and sprain wraps and Nyquil and all sorts of groovy things.

    #298 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:37 PM:

    #182: A few years back, I found myself approaching the end of the flex-med period with several hundred dollars left in my account.

    I bought a pair of glasses. Still some leftover!

    So I went to Fred Meyer and did my family Christmas shopping: A half-dozen First Aid kits.

    With what was leftover after that I bought all sorts of OTC meds and first aid supplies, ranging from bee sting ointment to Pepto-Bismal.

    Some drug stores -- Walgreen's, at least -- put a little hash mark next to items that qualify for FlexMed spending. Darn handy!

    #299 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:45 PM:

    Pillow -- don't need one. The fanny pack or daypack itself (or your own clothes stuffed into your pants) works great.

    For more on preparedness, its origin and necessity, see Of Fire, Fire, Fire I Sing (post on the Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894).

    #301 ::: MJB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 02:43 PM:

    That GoGear kit seems to be no longer available at Woot but Google lists it several other places for $20-$40.

    #302 ::: Michael Z. Williamson ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2008, 08:19 PM:

    I recommend the new OLight flashlight. 3.5X the life of a Surefire 120 lumen, and 40% brighter. Has 5 settings. Dim setting lasts 70 hours and is still 10 lumens--way brighter than most AA lights. Full bright also has a strobe setting that will stun and put someone on the ground. Full bright will also do this in the dark. They run around $60-$70. Lithium C123 batteries have a very long shelf life.

    Almost no one thinks of light as a weapon.

    If you lose something in the dark, this will find it, including things like contact lenses. It's BRIGHT. Headlight bright. Use it for signaling if lost (it even has a setting to flash "SOS"). Use it as an emergency headlight. Use it for rescues. Use it to light whole stairwells in the dark.

    #303 ::: Syona ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 03:37 AM:

    Thought I'd point out that Baylis Products. [Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio] make a MP3 media player. A wind-up media player, that can also charge phones etc, has a built in torch and am/fm band radio [for emergency broadcasts], and takes SD cards [upon which one can store all manner of information & documents]

    It can be found at:
    http://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/products/trevor-baylis-brands/trevor-baylis-eco-media-player/

    Figure that should save some room & weight in any go bag by combining several items.

    #304 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:55 PM:

    Energizer makes battery operated cell phone charges. They take a few AAA batteries (normally 4) and they normally work for about 12-24 hours and are about $20. They sell them in the South at Kroger, so Fred Meyer's, Food 4 Less and other Kroger owned stores should have them too. Also Lehman's (www.lehmans.com) sells stuff for off the grid living. And there is also a couple of companys out there that still make old fashioned water pumps for getting out well water. For other ideas on off grid living try www.maryjanesfarm.com, I know there's a lot of country girl stuff there, but there are also a lot of links if you dig a bit.

    #305 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 02:11 PM:

    I was in REI last weekend and they have hand-cranked cellphone chargers (FreePlay). Probably not a good thing for a full recharge, but good for those five minutes you might need in an emergency.

    #306 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 09:09 PM:

    Syona #191 OH NOES!
    While excitedly scanning the details of the Trevor Baylis Eco Media Player (I note that Stephen Fry's review of it was published on an auspicious day, 24 Nov 2007), wondering if there was an Australian distributor, &c, I ran into this short but devastating par:

    Compatibility
    The Eco Media Player requires a PC for use. It is currently not compatible with Mac OS.
    Sob! Can we overwhelm them with requests from fellow Apple Mac users?

    #307 ::: Resa ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2008, 04:20 PM:

    Just a note to thank you for this page. I've known about it for about a year, and repost the link periodically on my journal, as well as permanently on my website.

    In our area, fire starting is a must. And my cousin stumbled upon a rather clever idea for toting kindling. A couple of cheap-ass pencils (dollar store) and a good metal sharpener.

    The paint keeps the pencil wood dry, and you just sharpen as needed.

    Of course ... this does mean you have to make sure you have a pen for the note writing ... :)

    #309 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 07:08 PM:

    Why you want to have your bag packed, real-life example #4,897:

    Texas fertilizer fire prompts evacuation recommendation

    Officials recommended that more than 70,000 residents of the East Texas town of Bryan evacuate Thursday after a fertilizer warehouse caught fire, sending thick clouds of orange, toxic smoke into the air....
    #310 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 08:31 PM:

    Jim:
    May I recommend "Mountain Rescue Doctor : Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature" by Christopher Van Tilburg?
    He is an MD / Ski Patroller /Crag Rat at Mt. Hood, the book is about wilderness SAR (esp. high altitude / high angle / extreme conditions) from an active participant with the oldest mountain SAR team in the country.

    #311 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 10:07 PM:

    Thanks for the reminder. I really need to set up a 'go bag' for the basement because our chief issue is tornados.

    Though right now the basement is at issue because of something the city wanted us to install (wireless water meter) and it was a 'house that jack built' problem. AS yet needing the city to do something before it can be finished. (ARRRRRRGH.)

    I determined today that we have enough food in the house, both dried/canned and in the freezer that if there is a flu quarantine we'd be just fine. All in the hunt for a really really dead potato. And now the two pantry spots in my kitchen are really clean. dragonet2 at LJ has the (somewhat icky) details.

    #312 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2009, 01:53 PM:

    Hi! Thank you for this post, it's the most "doable" looking emergency kit I've ever seen, and therefore I'm finally assembling my own emergency kit.

    I have a couple of questions: I am using AAA batteries, because I found a $4 flashlight with 9 bright LED's, and I was going to buy a AAA powered radio. However, I remembered I had a AAA powered radio already. Only thing is, it's FM only, and it doesn't have speakers, I have to use earbuds with it (or carry around speakers and plug them in, which seems silly). Would it be better to buy a different one, so more people can listen to it at the same time, and so I have AM radio? Is AM radio important?

    Second question - I don't have moleskin, but I have read that duct tape works, too, and I have that. Any reason not to pack duct tape instead of moleskin?

    Third - I have a small pocket knife with scissors. Any reason to search out a curved cuticle scissors if I have that instead?

    Thanks. =)

    #313 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2009, 04:21 PM:

    Victoria, my only concern about a pocket knife with scissors instead of a pair of cuticle scissors would be that I've had multiple Victorinox scissor blades behave in a flaky manner and only perform their scissoring tasks at unpredictable times, and I wouldn't want them to flake out in an emergency. If your pocketknife scissors are reliable, they'd probably do.

    I'm not sure whether the curved blade has specific properties that make it useful in emergencies -- maybe it's related to bandage shears, which have one flattened blade, making them easy to slide between bandage and skin without risking cutting the bandage-wearer. Jim?

    #314 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2009, 06:25 AM:

    Why you need a go-bag and some planning, Part #2897:

    Evacuees grab pets, Bibles and flee

    (H/T to Cygnet)

    #315 ::: Mary Aileen notes missing comments ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 02:31 PM:

    There seems to be a large-ish chunk of comments missing from this thread, starting somewhere around #80 (note references to nonexistent comments with higher numbers than current in the thread). Probably not retrievable, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    #316 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 02:39 PM:

    Ah. Looks as if a gun debate was deleted, munching some useful-sounding comments in the process. Makes sense.

    #317 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:21 PM:

    Way up at the top of the thread, someone posted a question about insulin and other meds that need to be refrigerated.

    A company called Frio makes wallets to carry insulin in. You soak the wallet in water and there are crystals inside which absorb the water and use it for cooling. (I suppose the water would have to be relatively clean and also relatively cold.)

    The goal is not to keep the insulin as cold as it would be in the refrigerator, but simply to keep it below the temperature at which it degrades. It will also keep the insulin from freezing, apparently.

    I used one of these to transport my cat's insulin while traveling, so I can't exactly say I've used it for myself, but it did seem to work.

    Frio is a UK company, but they have resellers in the US as well.

    #318 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 03:35 PM:

    Our friends at FEMA have another handy Family Disaster Supply Kit list (.pdf) here.

    #319 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2010, 04:20 PM:

    Re: the missing comments. They still exist (they were "unpublished" rather than "deleted") and I can make them come back at any time.

    What I can't do easily is port them over to a more appropriate thread.

    I will comment about firearms:

    1) My guiding principles for survival gear is that what you take should be small, light, cheap, and multi-purpose. Firearms are none of those things.

    2) If things are crazy, the appearance of firearms makes them crazy-squared. They aren't a magic wand. If you wave one, things don't get better.

    3) If I were to see someone in an Army uniform loping along by himself carrying an M-16, I don't give a crap how "correct" his uniform is. I'll assume it's Joe from the Live Free or Die Militia (of which he is the sole member -- after Bill got a girlfriend and suddenly had better things to do with his time on weekends) who has decided that the current upheaval means it's time to overthrow ZOG (the Zionist Occupation Government, for those who don't speak crazy). When the Army shows up, it's as an army--that is to say Whole Lots of Guys with trucks and tents and field kitchens and generators and lights and radios and loudspeakers and trailers full of drinking water.

    4) If you are in the National Guard, first, get yourself and your family to a place of safety. Second, when you get a chance, check in with your chain of command. If they tell you to go to a muster point, go there. If not, sit tight unless/until they do.

    #320 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2010, 10:51 PM:

    Dam fails in eastern Iowa, causing massive flooding

    A dam in eastern Iowa suffered a "catastrophic" failure Saturday, and residents of a nearby town were given just minutes to flee approaching floodwaters, officials said.
    #321 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2010, 08:21 PM:

    I've restored the unpublished comments. This is not an invitation to re-open the Internet Gun Debate, Part #2027098734.

    #322 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 02:35 PM:

    Since it is that time of year again when snow will happen, I want to mention the most useful item when you're stuck in your car overnight due to snow:

    A shovel.

    We got stuck in the Snowpocalypse in Pittsburgh early last February. We thought we'd get home from a downtown concert before the worst of the storm hit, but the tunnels out of town closed sooner than I would have guessed. After spending about four hours driving about ten miles, we found the last road to our area closed. So, after one last failed attempt to "go around," we went into a closed gas station and stayed put.

    We had a mostly full-tank of gas, and ran the car about 1/3rd of the time. That way, we were warm. About once every two hours, I'd dig grab the snow shovel and shovel out around the car (it was snowing at more than an inch an hour during the six hours we were stuck). I also helped one or two other people who were stuck with us who didn't have a shovel.

    Without having our own shovel, I'm not sure how much longer we would have been stuck once the gas station and the road was plowed out.

    #323 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 09:30 PM:

    The Atlanta Red Cross has some more general comments, with links to "build a kit" and "buy a kit".

    Courtesy of Jennie Breeden at The Devil's Panties.

    #324 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 09:54 PM:

    Re: That Red Cross kit:

    At a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy­to­carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

    Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
    ...

    Yeah? That's 24 pounds of water right there in your evacuation bag, before you even get to the rest of the kit. You aren't going to be able to carry it.

    A Camelbak Mule carries 3 liters, and that's about the most you'll want to haul around.

    #325 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 10:24 PM:

    Maybe the "gallon per person per day, 3 day supply" presumes evacuation in a car, the way that many people experience it when evacuating in advance of a hurricane? On-foot kits and car kits are different animals, right?

    #326 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2011, 10:32 PM:

    Car kits and on-foot kits are indeed different. (If the temperature gets below freezing where you are, you don't want to leave the water in the car.) And if you have a car kit, make part of it easily detachable so that you can abandon the car and continue on foot if you need to.

    #327 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 10:02 AM:

    Why you keep a bag packed and your car fueled:

    More than 5,000 flee as winds stoke Arizona fires

    #328 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:00 PM:

    Floods are slower than fires, but a swift departure can still become a necessity. If you already have a go bag ready, you have more time to take care of other things that might be on your "Things to do before I leave the house" list. Having a plan in the first place, before you even put the go bag together is even better. Don't stop with the plan. Put the parts that need to be done in advance (like packing the go bag, making back-ups of valuable documents and such and storing them in a secure place, and so forth) in motion.

    It's hurricane season, too. The effects can be felt quite far inland--Camille caused dangerous, fatal flooding in Virginia. Also, tornado season (now twelve months a year, in some parts of the US!) all over North America. Plan and prepare. Where can you take shelter at home? At work? Along your regular commute?

    #329 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2011, 10:40 AM:

    For our friends in the UK: These fellows seem decent: Wilderness Survival Skills

    #330 ::: alan bard newcomer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:33 PM:

    plastic garbage bags are trimable like plastic sheets are to make ponchos and will also function as mini sleeping bags.
    I have an "energizer energy to go" that will run a laptop for 3 to 6 hours or a cell phone for many more hours...
    If your well has water at 25 feet you can buy a hand pump and have it ready to mount on the well head... we picked up a five hundred gallon water tank used for $150 (new about 350/400) just need to mount it up hill of your house or higher at least...
    If you can't afford a generator at 5 or 6 hundred, see what else you have... you can buy the generator part for about $200 and make it run off the motor on your wood chipper or power take off on a riding lawn mower... I wonder if you can ride a bicycle hard enough to turn over a car alternator and charge a 12 volt battery... and there have been on dash solar kits to keep car batteries topped up...

    #331 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 02:35 AM:

    'Serious flooding' hits Calgary

    As many as 100,000 residents of Calgary, Canada, face evacuation because of flooding, the director of emergency management said early Friday. "I have never experienced any flooding of this magnitude," he added.

    #333 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 10:34 PM:

    My purse, already somewhat possessed of the Go Bag nature, has been upgraded to better compliance with the suggestions. It now contains a space blanket and a new emergency rain poncho (it has had that last before, but had suffered a failure to replace) as well as any number of other Small Useful Items, many of the mending-kit type.

    The key carabiner is almost a go-bag in itself, what with the Swiss Army knife (Climber model), the mini flashlight, and the shopping bag in its own stuff sack (which can double, I have learned, as a rain hat).

    I haven't had to use much of the gear (other than the ever-useful Swiss Army knife and the ibuprofen stash, and the notebook-and-pen) but it sure makes me feel good to have it.

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