Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Survivalist Boards Giveaway – Count Me In!

This month The Survivalist Boards have a giveaway called “Count Me In” where you can win some Free Survival Equipment. The Survivalist Boards was founded by Kev how also written the “Survival Gear Reviews and Forum” Blog. SB is most likely the largest forum on the web about Survivalism and Prepping.

The Blog has been doing well since I put The Free Online Survival Guide together and I would like to thank some of the blogs that have helped me and published some of my articles. A special thanks of course goes out to Kev and SB, but I would also like thank American Preppers Network (APN), Bug Out Bag Quest, Survival Top 50 and the Swedish Blog “Preppers”. I also thank all the readers that have recommended the blog to your friends on Forums, Facebook and E-mail.

Survivalism and Prepping seems to be an increasing trend internationally and its great being able to provide whatever assistance that I can to those how are looking for information. I wish all the actors the best of luck and hope that more people will come together and expand the base of knowledge even further.
Sibi Totique

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bug Out Bag – Example of a Setups

I have often gotten the response concerning the recommendation what to pack in a Fully Equipped Bug Out Bag that this is a setup so heavy that no one could possibly carry it. In order to provide some reference concerning the weight I have put together an example of a setup focused on light weight items to show how one can build a Bug Out Bag that have all the essentials that one could need but still keep the weight of the BOB light enough to be carried. This setup is based upon the article Bug Out Bag and Checklist.

This setup does not include your clothing that should ideally consist of Hiking Boots, Merino wool socks, Heavy Duty Pants, A Base Layer Shirt from synthetic materials or merino wool, Gloves, A Hat or Watch Cap, A Sweater and Shell Jacket. Other equipment that is expected to be carried on your person is your watch, cell phone and wallet.

Setup 1: Light Weight Setup - Bug Out Bag
Total Weight including Water: 28 Pounds

Backpack and Drypacks 2,5kg
[ ] Backpack – Osprey Aether 85 – 2300g
[ ] Drypacks from Exped M (8 liter), L (13liter) and XL (22liter): 55g+66g+82g

Clothing Inside the Bag 1,244kg
[ ] Short Sleeve Base Layer 200g
[ ] Change of Underwear 100g
[ ] 2 Pair of Socks 100g
[ ] Buff, Merino Wool 54g
[ ] Klättermusen LIV 290g
[ ] Hilleberg Bivanorak 500g

Shelter 1,765kg
[ ] Tarp - Hilleberg Tarp -10 700g
[ ] Sleeping Bag - Western Mountaineering SummerLite 525g
[ ] Sleeping Mattress – Theremarest Ridgerest Large 540g

Light 0,1kg
[ ] Fenix LD-10 Flashlight and one extra AA battery (54g + 23g + 23g) 100g

Equipment to Build a Fire - 0,054kg
[ ] BIC Lighter 14g
[ ] Matches- 15g
[ ] Fire Steel – Light My Fire Scout with Striker (20+9 g) 29g

Survival Knives 0,285kg
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife: Fällkniven F1 150g
[ ] Swiss Army Knife: Victorinox Climber 85g
[ ] Sharpener: Dianova Lapstone Mini 50g

Pocket Survival Kit 0,17kg
[ ] BCB Combat Survival Kit 170g

Water 3,785kg
[ ] Water Bottle - 1 Liter Nalgene (160g+1000g) 1160g
[ ] 2 Liter Bladder Nalgene (545+2000g) 2545g
[ ] Water Purification Filter – Aquamira Frontier 30g
[ ] Water Purification Tablets – Lifesystems Chlorine Dioxide Tablets 50g

Food – 1,065kg
[ ] 6 DryTech Freeze Dried Rations 1000g
[ ] Salt and Pepper (From Restaurants) 15g
[ ] 10 Tea Bags, Sugar, Powdered Milk 50g

Stove, Fuel and Cup – 0,5kg
[ ] Esbit Cookset 585ml (Stove, Wind Shield and Cooking Vessel) 200g
[ ] 12 Esbit Tablets 185g (4 per day) 185g
[ ] Spork – Optimus Titan 17g
[ ] Folding Cup (2,5 dl) 28g
[ ] Steel Wool, Washing Up Liquid 50ml, Half Mop 70g

Map and Navigation etc 0.233kg
[ ] Map in Waterproof Case 100g
[ ] Compass - Silva Ranger SL – 23g
[ ] Passport and Immunization Card 50g
[ ] Rite in the Rain Notebook and Pen 60g

Hygiene etc 0,515kg
[ ] Half a roll of Toilet Paper in plastic bag 100g
[ ] Half a bar of Soap 25g
[ ] Tooth Brush, small tube of Tooth Paste 50g
[ ] Razor 20g
[ ] Hand Disinfection – BCB Stridex 20g
[ ] First Aid Kit: Lifesystems Pocket + Blister Plasters (200g)
[ ] 550 Paracord 50 feet – 100g

Other Items
[ ] Secondary pair of shoes: Merell Barefoot Trail Glove – Ultra light Trail Running Shoes 350g

The total weight of the Setup lands on 12,72kg (28 pounds)

I would argue that this is a weight that most people can carry without difficulty even if they are not extremely well trained.

Building a Light Weight Setup is all about trying to keep the weight of every item in the kit down. In this example an Ultra Light Sleeping Bag, Light Weight Sleeping Mattress, a Bivanorak that can be used as both a Poncho and Bivi-Bag in combination with a light weight quality tarp provides a light weight shelter with multiple options. The Ultra Light Trailrunning Shoes from Merrell also provide an additional pair of shoes, The Klättermusen LIV Down Sweater and Merino wool Buff some additional protection from exposure.

The weight of the Water and Water Containers is a post that is hard to reduce further. The Freeze Dried Rations provides light weight meals in combination with an Esbit Stove that includes a cooking vessel and windshield.

The main disadvantage with an Ultra Light Sleeping bag is that it will not provide enough heat if the weather is cold. How easily people freeze depends very much on the individual, some people freeze easily. Try your sleeping bag and make sure that it functions well for your climate and your terrain.

This setup could easily include some extra food like additional frieze dried rations, flapjacks, energy bars, chocolate bars, tools, one extra bottle of water, a heavier water purification filter, some additional batteries and extra fuels tablets for the stove without being too heavy.

Setup 2: Comprehensive BOB / I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) / Cold Weather BOB

Total Weight including Water: 58 Pounds

Backpack and Drypacks 4,2kg
[ ] Backpack –Norona Para Ranger (120l) 4100g
[ ] Drypacks from Exped M (8 liter), L (13liter) and XL (22liter): 55g+66g+82g

Clothing Inside the Bag 1,344kg
[ ] Long Sleeve Base Layer 300g
[ ] Change of Underwear 100g
[ ] 2 Pair of Socks 100g
[ ] Buff, Merino Wool 54g
[ ] Klättermusen LIV 290g
[ ] Hilleberg Bivanorak 500g

Shelter 5,34kg
[ ] Hilleberg Soulo 1 Person Tent 2200g
[ ] Sleeping Bag – Carinthia Defence 4 1850g
[ ] Sleeping Mattress – Exped Downmat 9 LW 1290g

Light 0,484kg
[ ] Headlight: Fenix HP-20 230g. 10 AA batteries 230g
[ ] Flashlight: Fenix LD-10 54g

Equipment to Build a Fire - 0,083kg
[ ] 2 BIC Lighters 28g
[ ] Matches in Waterproof Bag 15g
[ ] Swedish Fire Steel Army 40g

Survival Knives 1,585kg
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife: Fällkniven A1 305g
[ ] Multi Tool: Leatherman Charge TTi 232g
[ ] Sharpener: Dianova Lapstone Mini 50g
[ ] Axe: Gränsfors Small Forest Axe 1000g

Pocket Survival Kit 0,29kg
[ ] BCB Ultimate Survival Kit 290g

Water 4,305kg
[ ] Water Bottle - 1 Liter Nalgene (160g+1000g) 1160g
[ ] 2 Liter Bladder Nalgene (545+2000g) 2545g
[ ] Water Purification Filter – Katadyn Pocket 550g
[ ] Water Purification Tablets – Lifesystems Chlorine Dioxide Tablets 50g

Food – 1,665kg
[ ] 9 DryTech Freeze Dried Rations 1500g
[ ] Salt and Pepper (From Restaurants) 15g
[ ] 10 Tea Bags, Sugar, Powdered Milk 50g
[ ] 3 Powerbars and 3 Chocolate Bars: 600g

Stove, Fuel and Cup – 0,902 kg
[ ] Esbit Cookset 985ml (Stove, Wind Shield and Cooking Vessel) 417g
[ ] 24 Esbit Tablets 370g (8 per day) 370g
[ ] Spork – Optimus Titan 17g
[ ] Folding Cup (2,5 dl) 28g
[ ] Steel Wool, Washing Up Liquid 50ml, Half Mop 70g

Map and Navigation etc 0.263kg
[ ] Map in Waterproof Case 100g
[ ] Compass - Silva Ranger SL – 23g
[ ] Passport and Immunization Card 50g
[ ] Rite in the Rain Notebook and Pen 60g

Hygiene etc 0,715kg
[ ] Roll of toilet paper in plastic bag 200g
[ ] Half a bar of Soap 25g
[ ] Tooth brush travel, small tube of tooth paste 50g
[ ] Razor 20g
[ ] Hand Disinfection – BCB Stridex 20g
[ ] First Aid Kit: Lifesystems Pocket + Blister Plasters (200g)
[ ] 550 Paracord 100 feet – 200g

Other Items 0,50kg
[ ] KwikPoint Translator 60g
[ ] Secondary pair of shoes: Merell Barefoot Trail Glove – Ultra light Trail Running Shoes 350g
[ ] Speedy Stitcher 90g

The total weight of the Setup lands on 21,619 kg (48 pounds)

This Setup is considerably heavier than the first setup that was presented. The Setup includes a sturdier backpack with a larger storage capacity, A high quality four season one man tent, Cold Weather Sleeping bag and an Inflatable Sleeping Mattress with down loft. The Setup also includes some sturdier tools like the Fällkniven A1 Fixed Blade Knife, The Leatherman TTi Multi Tool and A Medium Sized Axe from Gränsfors. The Setup also includes additional food, fuel tablets, a high quality headlamp and the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter. This setup may be a more attractive alternative if you have to deal with a cold climate or travel longer distances with the access to vehicle. The setup also includes a larger stove that can use alcohol as fuel in addition to fuel tabs.

Since the weight of the pack is considerable you must be a well trained individual if you are going to be able to carry it longer distances. Another option is to load the content of the bag into bike bags and onto a bike trailer and use a bike as a Bug Out Vehicle (BOV). If you have the access to a motor vehicle the weight of the bag does not present a very big obstacle.

The Two Suggested Setups
The two setups represent a Mini and Maxi approach to a comprehensive Bug Out Bag. The items suggestion could easily be exchanged or replaced with other items from different companies; this is just an attempt to give the reader an idea of possible setups. Exactly what that should be packed in an emergency pack depends on a number of factors like your local climate, terrain and season. Your personal fitness and skills is also an important factor for deciding what should be packed and not.

How much can an individual carry? This is a very individual trait. Physical fitness, training, age, training and individual characteristics all come into play. People can have an overweight that well excides these packs but still be able to move around with any great difficulty. But the more you pack the harder a march will be. Experts disagree upon this topic but some suggest that 1/3 of the body weight as a maximum for men and ¼ of the body weight for women.

There are no easy answers that fit every climate, setting, terrain and person. You must find a concept that works for you, these list are simply suggestions intended to give you some inspiration and ideas for your own setup. One Size does not fit all.

Also see:
Introduction to Evacuation and Bug Out Bags
Bug Out Bag and Checklist
Light Weight Bug Out Bag
Bugging Out as a Group

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What can be learned from the Japanese Crisis?

A few days ago one of the most powerful earthquakes in modern time struck outside the eastern shores of Japan. The Earthquake resulted in a massive Tsunami that resulted in a massive loss of lives and massive damage to the infrastructure leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Japan is most likely the most well prepared country on earth to cope with this type of events and had early warning systems in place the loss of life has been great.

This natural disaster would also result in another disaster: damage to the nuclear power plant in the country. The information about surrounding the event has been field with contradicting information, uncertainty and rumors have been circulating. This event has resulted in a combination of a Manmade Disaster and a Natural Disasters. And will most likely become a textbook example of a worst case scenario.

So what can be learned?
Only after a few days the shelves in stores are empty and many of the survivors have a hard time getting access to food and water. A relatively small storage of food lasting only a few weeks and a basic storage of water could have made a great difference for many. Some are also homeless and have hard time shielding themselves from the elements as they search for lost friends and family members.

Another thing that can be learned is that everything can be lost without a moment’s notice. If anyone living next to the shores had made preparations in their homes they may have lost them if it was hit by the tsunami. Having a comprehensive Every Day Carry or a Get Home Bag may be the only tools that you have available after such a scenario.

The development with the nuclear power plants is yet another example that even systems that are believed to be safe can collapse. There were multiple backup systems in the plants but they have all failed. Of course one can focus on the design of the plants and lay blame on individual persons or the company owning the plants. And this will take place after the crisis over.

Our modern societies are dependent on a number of complex systems that makes our modern lives possible. Electricity, Telecommunications and The Internet is only a few examples. This event is an example of what can happen when just one of these systems collapse for a short time.

Many also blame the media and people in charge for not providing accurate information and misleading the public. It is possible that all information has not been provided but one should most importantly reflect over the Dynamic of a Crisis Situation. A crisis is always a situation when the information about the situation is incomplete. Even with the access to modern communications, video and the internet it is impossible to take in and find all information that is available. This may become clear after a crisis but is never completely clear during a crisis. Decision must be based on incomplete information. The situation affected by an enormous time pressure. There are great values at stake; lives, homes, infrastructure, people’s health, economic values and prestige.

Not even the expert on this subject make the same assessment on the situation, we have seen different assessments made by different government agencies from different countries. The recommendations that have gone out by the Japanese have recommended an evacuation zone of 20 km surrounding the Fukushima power plants, but other countries have recommended their citizens to evacuate to a distance of minimum 80km.

What to do if you feel worried?
• Stay informed. But understand the information is incomplete, contradictory and will continue to be so for a long period of time. Also remember that the assessments made by experts are based upon incomplete information.
• Read up on the subject and learn more about radiation and previous events.
• Learn what agencies in your country / region that measure radiation and where you can find this information.
• Create routines for closing ventilation, securing windows etc.
• If you live in Japan, increase the distance between yourself and the plants if possible until the situation is under control.

How would a situation of this type be handled in the US? There are extensive plans for handling this type of events in the US and a system for triage and mass casualty events have been developed. You can find the “The RTR Medical Response System for Nuclear and Radiological Mass-Casualty Incidents” here.

What will happen?
It is impossible to say how this crisis that is still ongoing will end. If there is a complete meltdown radioactive fallout may affect only the local area. During the Chernobyl meltdown the explosion was very powerful and fire that followed in the graphite would result in severe fallout far away from the plant. The circumstances in these plants see to be very different and the reactor design different from the case of Chernobyl. But there is still no telling with certainty what will follow. The cooling may be restored or the development may continue. What the long term and short term effects will be is impossible say right now. But the problem is Dual. Both the damage from the earthquake and the following tsunami plus the situations in the Japanese Power plants must be handled in what has become of the most complex crisis of our time.

During this crisis we have also seen other reactions like people stocking up on Iodide tablets. Iodide can prevent the body from taking up radioactive Iodide if inhaling or digesting radioactive particles. But it does not offer a complete protection from radiation. Do not TAKE iodide tablets unless this has been ordered by a government agency. Also make sure to follow the instructions if you do, taking too many tablets can result in severe consequences. People with allergies to iodide, taking certain medication and people with certain types of disease should not take Iodide. There are also special considerations for pregnant women, children and other groups. Talk to your doctor if you have bought this type of tablets. This form of tablets are now selling for very high prices on sites like E-Bay, a similar reaction could be seen during the Swine Flu pandemic with Tamiflu. At this point this seems like an overreaction to me, especially for those how live far away from the plants, like people living the US.

By the time I write this some or all of this information may have been proven wrong or incomplete, this is my take on the situation right now.

Information is the most critical aspect during any CBRN event – stay informed.

Also see:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Building a Bug Out Bag on a Budget

Putting together a fully equipped Bug Out Bag (BOB) with high quality items can be a project that may cost you thousands of dollars if you want top of the line high quality items. Just buying high quality clothing with base layers, mid layers, shell jacket, pants, cap, gloves, scarf, socks and hiking boots may set you back a significant amount of money. The reason for putting together a relatively cheap Bug Out Bag may be many: You might normally not engage in outdoor activities and have little use of the items in your everyday life or you may want to build an additional bag for another family member or friend. The most important aspect of Bug Out Bag is that the concept as whole provides you with the necessary components that allows you to make it through an evacuation scenario.

What clothing you need is very dependent on your climate. There is no clothing that is ideal for all situations so you simply have to find clothing that works where you live. Military surplus can be an interesting alternative since the clothing is often designed to have a long life span. Base layers that dry quickly made from synthetic materials or merino wool are the best but if you can afford pack some extra t-shirts so that you can change the layer closest to your body if you get wet from rain or sweat. A shell jacket provides good protection from wind and rain, Gore-Tex is excellent but there are similar cheaper systems that work well for a much lower price. If you don’t have shell clothing make sure to pack a poncho so that you get some protection in case of rain and bad weather.

The Bag
The most central part of your Bug Out Bag is the Bag itself. It must be big enough to hold your items, it must be durable enough to withstand a few days hike without breaking apart and it should have a carrying system that is comfortable so that you can carry the bag on your back for a few days. I write should because if you are planning to use vehicles during an evacuation a trunk or travel bag could do just as fine as a backpack or even be a more suitable alternative.

A new high quality backpack from companies like Norrona, Berghaus, Klättermusen or high quality military style backpack with Molle Attachments and some additional pockets may set you back hundreds of dollars. An old high quality hiking bag or military surplus bag may offer the same function as new bag for only a fraction of the price. Another method could be to search E-bay and the second hand market for products. It’s important that you can keep the gear inside the bag dry, having waterproof compression bags is an excellent alternative but they are rather expensive. Normal heavy duty trash bags provide some protection for equipment and come at a very low cost.

Survival Knife
A knife is one of the most important survival tools you can have during a survival situation. It’s important that the knife you choose can perform the tasks that you require it to. A high quality survival knife can be a very expensive investment costing hundreds of dollars. Some of the best cheap knives available come from the Swedish company Mora. Mora makes knives with high quality but still with a reasonable price, you can find a good knife from this company for 10-30 dollar depending on what model you choose. If you want a larger knife you can find Machetes with a reasonable cost.

What kind of shelter you need depends on your local terrain, your climate and the time of the year. For cold weather conditions it can be very hard to make it without a sleeping bag and sleeping mattress but in warmer climates you can make it with less shelter. No matter the situation you should have some kind of shelter that can shield you from wind and rain. A second hand tent might be bought cheap. A Light Weight Tarp does not cost many dollars but even a Shower Curtain may used. If you use a tarp you need some kind of rope or Paracord that can allow you to secure it properly.

High quality Flashlights from companies like Fenix or 4Sevens can provide great light in a compact format but for most situations a cheaper flashlight will do just as well. The Old AA or AAA flashlights from Maglite, a cheap LED light or a Shake Light is sufficient for most situations. Simple key chain lights can sometimes be given away for free by companies and other organizations.

High quality water bottles from companies like Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Camelback and SIGG are both light weight and strong but comes at a hefty price. There are cheaper copies of these bottles that perform just as well, another alternative can be military surplus water bottles. If you want a really cheap alternative soda bottles will perform well in most situations, just get the most solid type of bottle you can find. A water purification filter is useful but often quite expensive. Coffee filters is cheap and can be used to filter water, bleach can be used to sterilize water if you do not have the time or means of boiling the water.

Ordinary Matches is one of the easiest methods to build a fire. Make sure that they stay dry by storing them in a plastic bag. Simple BIC lighters are also a cheap and reliable method to start a fire, buying a few boxes of matches and lighter is a relatively cheap investment. Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline are a cheap way to improvise tinder.

Cooking and Food
An alcohol stove is quite cheap and effective solution since it provide both cooking vessels and stove in the same kit. An Esbit Stove is low price, low weight and can be used together with a simple cooking vessel. The Esbit tablets are also excellent tinder and fire starters. Freeze dried food is low weight, takes up little space and is very practical if you can find water in your local terrain. The main drawback is the high cost of these rations. Rice, Pasta, Lentils and Oatmeal stored in a Waterproof Container works well for food during a hike even if the solution is not as practical as freeze dried food in portion sized bags. Tea Bags, Sugar, Salt, Canned Food, Peanut Butter, Raisins are other types of food that can be used for an evacuation food kit.

Make sure to include some Soap and Toilet Paper in your pack. Toilet Paper can also be used as tinder to start a fire. Washing Up Liquid can be used as soap, to wash clothing and to clean your cooking vessels.

Other Equipment
A Map and Compass are vital tools that allow you to navigate and find your way in your local terrain. A top graphical map is the best but a road map, city map that you can find for free or a printed map from the internet is better than nothing at all. A compass is a very important tool and I do not recommend that you get a low quality model that does perform or risk breaking. Decent quality compasses from Silva can be found for around 10-20 dollars. First Aid Kits is important to have if you would hurt yourself or have to provide care for someone else, complete kits can often be found cheap at supermarkets or as military surplus. A simple pen and some paper in a waterproof bag can be used to make notes and leave messages.

Testing the Equipment
The only of telling for sure if you’re Bug Out Bag will work or not is to test it. Your items do not have to perform perfectly as long as they provide what you need. Buying second hand equipment like backpacks and clothing presents risks since the bag may break in a critical situation. By testing the equipment before a real crisis situation you will get a better understanding of what the equipment may do for you and most importantly learn how to use it. Backpacks or clothing may need repairs or be maintained, by carting a small sewing kit, a tube of superglue duct tape and paracord you can repair equipment and clothing if this would become necessary.

[ ] Backpack or Bag
[ ] Heavy duty plastic bags to keep clothing and equipment dry

Extra Clothing
[ ] Extra base layer or T-shirt
[ ] Warm long sleeve shirt
[ ] Socks
[ ] Cap or Hat
[ ] Poncho

[ ] Tent or Tarp
[ ] If the climate makes is necessary a sleeping bag or blanket and sleeping mattress

Survival Knife
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife
[ ] Back-up Knife
[ ] Sharpener

Pocket Survival Kit
[ ] Matches

[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Snare wire
[ ] Wire saw
[ ] Sewing kit
[ ] Button compass
[ ] Safety pins
[ ] Whistle
[ ] Candle
[ ] Compact LED lamp
[ ] Compact knife or razor blade
[ ] Fishing kit
[ ] Pencil
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Painkillers
[ ] Anti Diarrhea Tablets
[ ] Antihistamines
[ ] Antibiotics
[ ] Condom or Alok Sak

[ ] Flashlight or Headlight
[ ] Spare batteries

Equipment to build a Fire
[ ] Matches in plastic bag
[ ] BIC lighter
[ ] Tinder

[ ] Water Bottles and Water Containers
[ ] Coffee Filters
[ ] Bleach in a small bottle

Equipment for Cooking
[ ] Stove
[ ] Cooking Vessels
[ ] Fuel
[ ] Cup
[ ] Plastic Plate
[ ] P-38 Can Opener
[ ] Fork and Spoon

[ ] Rice, pasta, noodles, lentils, canned food or peanut butter
[ ] Teabags and Sugar
[ ] Salt and Pepper

[ ] Soap
[ ] Toilet paper in waterproof bag
[ ] Washing up liquid and Mop
[ ] Toothbrush, Tooth paste and Dental Floss

Repair kit
[ ] Sewing kit
[ ] Super glue
[ ] Duct Tape
[ ] Paracord

[ ] Passport or ID and Immunization Record Card

[ ] Map and Compass
[ ] Pen and Paper
[ ] First Aid Kit

People have survived in the wilderness for thousands of years without the comforts that modern clothing and high tech fabrics provide. The market for outdoors equipment is very big and you can find very useful high quality items, but these often come at a high cost. Keeping the cost down for Bug Out Bag does not have to be very complicated but might require some research in order to find the items required. By choosing cheaper products and solution you can quite easily build multi kits for the price you would otherwise have to pay for a single Bug Out Bag. This can also be a good alternative if you want to have an extra kit in your Vehicle, at a secondary location or if you want to build a kit for another family member. This post can also be used as inspiration if you want to put together a kit for hiking, hunting or camping activities.

Also see:
Bug Out Bag and Checklist
Light Weight Bug Out Bags
Bugging Out As a Group

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Survivalism for Dummies

Starting to prepare for survival situations, disasters and crisis situations is a complicated task. It is very broad field with thousands of factors, threats that must be taken into consideration. This post will address some basic considerations for those how’s thinking about starting to prepare.

Start with Yourself
The best survival tool there is isn’t any particular piece of gear or equipment. The most effective tool is yourself and this is where I suggest that you make the biggest effort. By training on regular basis you can reduce the chance of heart disease, diabetes and other types of illness that is related to overweight. This will not only make your life in general easier and increase your wellbeing; this can also mean the difference between life and death if you ever need some extra endurance or strength. Start to exercise on a regular basis at least three times a week, find an activity that fits you and that you like. Also try to eat healthy and avoid tobacco, alcohol and other harmful drugs.

Also learn basic skills like First Aid and CPR, How to build a fire, Orienteering and How to construct Shelter. If you never been camping or hiking before go for a trip with some friends or family. Start with an easy trip and then move on to harder activities. Make sure to tell someone where you going, when you plan to come back and how they can contact you before you go.

Identify Risks and Threats
Why should one prepare for risks and threats? For me this is a question about reducing the negative impact that events can have both for myself, my friends and family. Many people can go almost their whole lives without having to deal with a medical emergency or a survival situation. But life can change in heartbeat, missing to look out in traffic one time can lead to devastating consequences. Not knowing what to do can mean that you can’t save the life of partner, family member or friend. A forgotten candle can cause a fire that cost your life if you don’t have a fire alarm or a mean of evacuation. A fire extinguisher can sometimes prevent the fire from spreading and insurance can compensate for the economic loss of the event. All risks can’t be identified and foreseen, but some can and with very little time and effort.

So what I suggest that you do is to first identify the risks that you can think of. Start to list these risks and then first give them a number from 1 to 5 depending on how likely you think it is that this risk may take place. 1 means it is very unlikely and 5 quite likely. After you done this think of the consequences this risk may have and list them from 1 to 5; 1 means that the event would have quite limited consequences and 5 that the consequences would be devastating. After you have done this multiply the How Likely it is that the risk would come true with The Consequence of the Risk. This is the Risk Factor. This can give a general idea of what risk may present the largest danger.

Coping with the Risks
At this stage you have now identified the risks, tried to understand how likely they are and what consequences they may have. This is a beginning but what can you do about them? Now start to analyze the risks more specifically.

• What knowledge do you have about this type of risks? Where has this type of events taken place in the past and what has the consequences been? Is there any events that have taken place in your region and what can be learned from this events?
• What type of skills can help you overcome this type of event and do you have these skills? If you don’t have these skills how can you learn them?
• What kind of equipment can be needed to overcome this type of risk? Do you have this type of equipment? If you don’t can this type of equipment be improvised or bought? What would the price for this equipment be?

Rate you capacity for each of these three factors; Knowledge, Skills and Equipment from 1 to 5. 1 means that you have a very low capacity or knowledge 5 that it is very good.

Now you have made an assessment of both the risks but also your own capacity to deal with these risks; how can you reduce these risks and where should you get started? This is a personal decision that you must make yourself. Update this assessment on a regular basis and try to identify additional risks that may have manifested because of changes in your personal conditions or other changes resulting from external factors.

So what are the Basic Needs for Survival?
For short term scenarios the ability to stay shield from the elements is very important. A person can die very fast from heat or cold if subject to exposure. Clothing and Shelter can provide protection from this type of dangers. Try to keep some extra blankets, sleeping bags or some type of heater in your home.

Water is absolutely critical for survival and human will normally not survive for more than a few days at maximum without the access of water. Normally the absolute minimum need of water is around 5 liters per day for drinking and cooking as an absolute minimum, but if the climate is warm this amount may have to more than doubled. I suggest that you store a minimum of 15 liters of water per person in your household. If you add water purification tablets and store your water cold it will last around 6 months without having to be rotated.

Most people will make it quite a long time without food. If you don’t have any access to food you will however quite fast lose endurance, stamina and your energy level will go down. Making it a few day without food is normally not a big problem but after around three days stops being an uncomfortable situation and will start to become an obsession. Many people will become ready to steal or hurt others in order to get food relatively fast. The just in time system of today’s supermarkets with a minimum of products being kept in store mean that problems in transport etc can leave the stores empty in only a few days. Having a week or two of food available in your home is enough for getting through most problems caused by natural or man-made disasters. Few people today have ever had to go hungry for long period of times so the risk might be perceived to be quite low for most people.

So what should you store?
The easy answer is to store what you normally eat. For example: Instead of buying small packages of rice, pasta, salt, cooking oil, washing powder etc buy it in bulk. This way you will both get a lower price and also have some extra in store. In a long term perspective this will not become a cost: It will save money, especially if wait until there is a sale when you get a particular good price. The most critical aspect of your food storage is that you will eat it and then buy more so that you rotate your storage. If not your food storage WILL become a ROTTEN investment.

Emergency Sanitation
If the water and sanitation system stop working for even short periods of time it’s very good if you have a simple emergency toilet available. A simple bucket can be used but I suggest that you get a stronger purpose built emergency toilet. If you live on the countryside an outhouse is an excellent alternative. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be a practical alternative to soap and water.

Make sure that you have the proper insurance so that you and your belongings are properly insured in case of fires, accidents or medical emergencies. Make sure that you make serious check for different alternatives; you can often save quite some money by choosing the right one.

Emergency Budget
I suggest that you constantly try to save 5-10% of your income into an emergency budget. Unexpected cost like if you break a tooth, lose your job, have to move, repair your car, motorbike or home may suddenly arise. Having a budget so that you can deal with these types of events is very important. Investing some of your budget into silver or gold can be a good idea if you want to have a physical investment.
It can be hard to svae 5-10% but even if you only can save 1% it is a start.

Now You are a Prepper / Survivalist! Or are you?
If you have taken the steps described above you have taken quite a few steps towards becoming more self reliant and ready for various types of disasters. You have started to identify risk, reduce these risks, work on your physical fitness, you have learned some basic skills, you have an emergency budget, a basic water and food storage and insurance. You are now more prepared for a crisis than most other people.

The End of the World As We Know It and Shit Hit The Fan
Within the Survivalist movement the terms The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) and The Shit Hits Fan (SHTF) are common terms to describe a more or less sudden event that can mean the end of our society and everything that we enjoy in it. Is this even a possibility? Can the world that we take for granted come to an end? This is not an easy question to answer. For most people this seems like a more or less absurd scenario. I will give three examples of possible events that can result in collapsing societies.

1.) Nuclear War, Electromagnetic Pulse and Solar Storms
Some events could with certainty result in a collapse of the contemporary world. A full scale nuclear war is one of the most frightening scenarios that one could imagine. Such a scenario could directly result in the deaths of hundreds of millions, maybe billions. A nuclear war head that detonated in space can disrupt the electrical grid and all unprotected electronics by creating a High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse. Extremely powerful solar storms could also have similar effects. This type of events could result in a sudden collapse of the electrical grid and thereby knocking out computers, telecommunication and other key systems that is the foundation of our modern day society.

2.) Collapsed States and Civil War
Human conflict is another type of events is another type event that can cause a society to collapse. Modern Civil Wars like the genocide in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq are examples when the government no longer can control the country and different factions go to war against each other. Even if this type of events is often described as civil wars they can also be described as collapsed societies. Fixing this type of situations is extremely complicated something that can be witnessed at all locations where peace building and state building missions is taking place. This type of events is most common in relatively developing countries but has also taken place in Europe; the international community has still not been able to completely withdraw from the former Yugoslavia.

3.) Long Term Threats
Many modern researchers focuses on the combination of the depletion of non-renewable resources, environmental destruction, Peak Oil and Global Warming in combination with the ongoing population explosion as the most complicated problem for human societies to overcome. This perspective has been lifted by in the National Geographic Documentary “2210: The Collapse”, “Home” and by others like Michael Ruppert. The perspective is not new and was highlighted in the report “The Limits to Growth” by the Club of Rome back in the 1970:s. This type of scenario stands in direct contradiction to most political ideologies and most people’s basic perception of the world, most people assume that growth will go on forever and that technical solutions for problems will be found. If this will be the case or not is impossible to say, but this type of scenario could put an enormous stress on human societies in a short and long term perspective.

How does one prepare for this?
This type of threats presents extreme scenarios that may seem like more or less impossible to be prepared for. Within the Survivalist Movement two basic strategies dominate: The Bug In and The Bug Out Approach.

Bug In
The Bug In Approach basically means that one plans to stay in place if this type of event takes place. By storing massive amount of supplies and becoming more or less self sufficient the idea is to ride out the event in the home. This approach requires both planning and some serious considerations regarding what equipment that should be stored, storage solutions, how to gather and purify water, long term sanitation, food production etc.

Since disasters may strike when one is not at home tools have also been developed for every day preparedness. The Get Home Bag is a system indented to provide the necessary tools required in order to make it back to the home during an ongoing disaster. What the Get Home Bag (GHB) should contain is a debated subject and depends very much on your local terrain, how far you normally travel from your home and many other factors. A Pocket Survival Kit may also be a useful addition to always carry with you in your jacket, clothing or bag. The items that you carry with you on an everyday basis, known as your Every Day Carry (EDC) is also very important.

Bug Out
The Bug Out approach focuses on evacuation in a SHTF / TEOTWAWKI scenario. In order to accomplish this one can prepare escape routes and prepare specific evacuation kits that are ready to go on a movements notice containing all the supplies the one could need to survive for a few days in the wild or on the move. This type of kits are often referred to as Bug Out Bags (BOB), Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bags, I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) bags or 72 Hours Kits. These kits is often combined with some type of vehicle like a car, 4 wheel drive truck, motorcycle, sailing boat or airplane. This Vehicle is often referred to as a Bug Out Vehicle (BOV). The BOB and BOV is designed to bring the person to location that has previously equipped with supplies called a Bug Out Location (BOL) normally located in a rural or wilderness setting. A Bug Out Bag may be fully equipped, be designed to be as light as possible or somewhere in-between. If one would evacuate with a group there is also special consideration that should be taken into account.

Getting a basic preparedness for disasters and unexpected events can help to minimize the negative impact or allow an individual to avoid threats. Getting a basic ability to handle a crisis or disaster does not have to be hard. But many Survivalist / Preppers are trying to prepare for events with massive consequences. Preparing for this type of scenarios is generally based on two basic tactics: The Bug In and The Bug Out response. During Civil Wars and in Collapsed States it’s not uncommon that 75% of the population or more are forced to flee their homes to avoid violence, torture and ethnic cleansing. Staying in place during this type of events is most likely not a successful tactic. A full scale nuclear war can leave areas devastated and force an evacuation in order to avoid radiation and other dangers. What response that would be the most appropriate depends on the situation; having a means of evacuation can be critical in some situations and unnecessary in other situations. In short: even if you favor one tactic it may be good to have the ability to employ both.

Other more complex threats like the combination of Peak Oil, The Depletion of Natural Resources, Environmental Destruction and Global Warming could require a more gradual adaptation by focusing on local food production, a reduced dependency on carbon fuels for transport and learning how to make do with fewer resources. Most types of disasters do not call for an evacuation or the ability to make it by yourself in your home for months without external assistance so the Bug In / Bug Out may not be the most appropriate way to prepare. This does not mean that the concepts cannot be valid in some situations and provide tools to deal with other types of situations. But it is also very important to focus on the type of scenarios that does not fit this approach like Fires in your home, Unemployment, Health Problems and Disease, Accidents, Unexpected expenditures and Natural Disasters.