Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping Your Vehicle Ready for Emergencies

Keeping your Vehicle Ready for Emergencies is an important part of being ready for Crisis and Survival situations. Having a flat tire in a remote location can be devastating if you do don’t have cell phone cover can be a dangerous event if no one knows where you are. The same event doesn’t have to cause much trouble if you have told someone where you are going and if you have prepared your vehicle with some basic equipment. This article will discuss some of the aspects of traveling safely and what type of equipment you can store in your vehicle for emergencies.

In addition to equipment you can store in your Vehicle there are also features that you can add to your vehicle like extra rearview mirror for your passage so that they can help you to keep an eye out for potential dangers, extra lights to increase the distance you can see during night time conditions, a winch and just to name few examples.

Equipment for Vehicles
There are a number of knives that are especially designed to be used as Rescue Tools. Some examples are:
• The Fixed Blade Police Rescue Knife (PRK) from Fällkniven with a serrated blade with a tanto style blade.
• The Rescue Tool from Victorinox that has features like a seat belt cuter, disc saw that can be used to cut through laminated glass; a glass breaker and fluorescent yellow handles.
Benchmade has a number of different products like the Hook / Safety Cuter, Benchmade 915 Triage and Benchmade Houdini that are especially designed to be used to cut seat belts and break windows.
• The Fixed Blade Eickhorn Aviator 1 and the Eickhorn PRT-2 Folding Knife can be other interesting alternatives.
• The Gerber Hinderer Rescue Folding Knife, CRKT Neckolas and Spyderco Rescue are three other models.

For vehicles the size and weight of flashlight is normally not a big issue. The Fenix TK-70, The Fenix TK-60, The Fenix TK-41, The Olight SR92 Intimdator and the Maglite D-Cell flashlights can be interesting alternatives. Headlamps can be useful especially for repairs and if you have to perform other tasks when both hands are required like giving someone First Aid. Chemical Lightsticks can also be useful for similar tasks and signaling.

Survival Kits
I suggest that you at least include a basic survival kit in your vehicle. Equipment that can be important to include:
Equipment to Start a Fire
• Signaling; Whistle, Signal Mirror or SPOT
• Fishing Kit
• Wire Saw
• Button Compass, Compass or GPS
• Sewing Kit
• Safety Pins
• Pen and Paper
• Painkillers and Anti Diarrheal Tablets
• Emergency Blanket, Surviva Jak, Emergency Poncho, Bivanorak or Fjellduk
• Water Purification Tablets or a Water Purification Filter
• Compact Flashlight, Headlamp, Chemical Light Sticks, Emergency Strobe or Flares

Since space and weight normally is not a big problem for survival kits in Vehicles hard cases like the ones from Pelican can be a good choice since they protect the gear and make it easy to organize. An ordinary Pocket Survival Kit can also be used and stored in the glove compartment. Larger Survival Kits like the Deluxe Survival Kit and Soldiers Tactical Advantage Kit (STAK) from UST or the Comprehensive Survival Kit from ESEE can also be interesting alternatives. A Get Home Bag (GHB) or Bug Out Bag (BOB) can be interesting alternatives if you are looking for a more compact survival kit.

If you have to leave your vehicle in order to help someone how have just had a traffic accident or to change a flat tire a Signal Vest makes you much easier to spot for others how might pass you and decrease that chance that you get hit by another car or truck, especially in low light or low visibility conditions. There are also lights that are designed to be used during emergencies to warn others, the TigerFlare CR123 is one example.

Equipment to Help You Stay Warm
In cold climates the ability to stay warm is vital if you would become stranded because of hard weather or if your vehicle would break down. Equipment like a Wool or Fleece Blanket, an emergency blankets, sleeping bag, some extra clothing or Hand Warmers can be useful. If you have to travel in hard conditions some extra precautions should be made like including a vacuum bottle with something warm to drink, some food or snacks and extra clothing should be included, but most importantly tell someone where you are going, what route you are planning to take and when you expect to arrive. The Surviva Jak is a Jacket made from the same material used in Emergency Blankets and can easily be stored in small compartments. Extra Footwear and a Poncho or Rain Clothing can be also be a useful addition no matter if you live in cold climate or not.

In warm climates sun screen, a sun hat and most of all water can be just as important as the ability to stay warm in a cold climate.

Storing Water and Food In a Vehicle
A car is works a green house and the temperatures inside can become very high during the summer, an old car can even be used as a solar dehydrator for fruit and vegetables. High temperatures can prove fatal for infants or pets if they are left in a car during warm conditions. This makes storing water and food in car a problematic task since the shelf life of products are shortened if they are stored in warm temperatures; if you store either they should be rotated on a regular basis.

Choose products that cannot melt, chocolate is a typical example of products sensitive to heat. If possible choose products that do not contain water; dehydrated products, frieze dried rations, crackers; pasta etc can be good alternatives but must still be rotated on a regular basis. The same problem applies to water even if bleach or water purification tablets is added to increase the shelf life. There are some warnings regarding using plastic containers for storing water in warm conditions since the warmth can cause chemicals from the plastic to dissolve into the water. If you use plastic containers rotate the water on a regular basis to avoid this potential problem. For this reason water containers made from metal like the water bottles from SIGG or Klean Kanteen can be a good alternative to bottles made from plastic.

Equipment - Checklist
[ ] Roadmaps / City Map
[ ] Compass / GPS
[ ] Pen and Paper
[ ] Windshield Scraper and Towel
[ ] Towing Cable
[ ] Jumper Cables
[ ] Driver License, Insurance Information, Vehicle Registration and Repair Handbook
[ ] Flashlight, Headlamp or Chemical Lightsticks
[ ] Communications – CB Radio
[ ] Walkie-Talkies

Safety and First Aid
[ ] Fire Extinguisher
[ ] First Aid Kit and Cervical Color

[ ] Axe, Shovel, Machete, Parang, Kukri, Folding Saw or Chain Saw
[ ] Shovel
[ ] Leather Working Gloves and Latex Surgical Gloves
[ ] Screwdriver
[ ] Adjustable Wrench or

[ ] Spare Tier
[ ] Fix-A-Flat Spray
[ ] Tire Iron
[ ] Jack
[ ] Duct Tape

[ ] Extra Fuel
[ ] Windshield Washer Fluid
[ ] Coolant

Vehicle Safety
Speeding is a risky activity for several reasons; the force of an impact depends on the speed that a vehicle is travelling, the distance that your vehicle travels before you can react if a threat increases and the distance that your need to travel in order to come to halt if you need to break also increases. There is also another aspect of speeding; the fuel consumption of your vehicle also increases if you push it harder. Modern cars is equipped with several safety features like airbags and deformation zones designed to absorb energy in case of an accident; but even a modern car cant withstand any impact.

Around 30.000-40.000 die in traffic accidents every year in the US alone and many more are injured and disabled. The number of deaths and wounded from traffic accidents is generally higher in middle income countries where people can afford to drive, but where safety measures are less and the vehicles often has lower safety rating. The culture surrounding driving also varies from country to country; in some countries it’s more socially accepted to drink and drive. Keep this in mind if you are travelling to other countries.

Things you can do in order to avoid traffic accidents
• Keep within the speed limits and adjust your speed according to the sight
• Don’t stress or get angry while driving. You may save a few minutes from driving faster; but it’s not worth getting dying or getting disabled.
• Never use alcohol or drugs while driving; also make sure that you are well rested and alert before getting into a car a day after a party even if the alcohol has left your system.
• Keep your attention on the road; avoid talking in your cell phone if possible and if you have to use a headset. Taking your attention of the road to write text message, change CD:s in your stereo or similar activities can end with disaster.
• Never drive while exhausted or if you risk falling asleep.
• When you purchase a car check the safety rating of the vehicle.
• Make sure to keep up on main tense
• Make sure that your windshield is clean and your rearview mirrors adjusted before you leave
• Make sure that all equipment in your vehicle is properly secured; lose objects can wound or kill you if you are in accident; even objects with a low weight can be devastating.

If You are involved in an Accident
If you need to get out of your vehicle check around before you leave it so you do not step out of your vehicle and get hit by a car. Having a vest made from fluorescent materials in your vehicle increases you visibility drastically if you have to change a tire or respond to an emergency; especially in low light and low visibility situations. There are also light that are especially designed to be used during traffic accidents that can be a useful complement.

If an accident blocks your way don’t get stressed or angry; I have talked to first responders that have gotten their hydraulic tubes to their tools broken by vehicles that have driven over them by stressed drivers that did not wait for them to finish getting wounded people out of broken vehicles.

Find a Solution that Works for You
What type of equipment that you should choose for you Vehicle depends on multiple factor like your setting, climate, vehicle and storage space, budget and it may also have to be adjusted depending on what season it is. One Size does not fit all, you must find a solution that cover your needs and make sense for your situation. A setup that makes perfect sense for a remote wilderness setting during winter condition is not a perfect setup for a person that lives in a city located in the desert.

Also see:
Travelling With Vehicles During Crisis or Survival Situations

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Bug In Plan

Having a Plan is a vital part of being prepared for Emergency and Survival Situations. Two main strategies dominate the survival strategies within the Prepper and Survivalist Movement: Bug In and Bug Out. Bugging In or Bug In refers to strategy of having the capacity to deal with disruptions in the society, survival or crisis situations in the Home. Bugging Out or Bug Out refers to the strategy of having the option to evacuate if a situation would call for this approach.

First of all: No Plan is likely to survive its first encounter with reality. A Bug In Plan can help you to deal with emergencies by providing useful information, procedures for how to deal with different types of problems and critical information like maps, phone numbers etc. This is a suggestion for a framework that you can use when you make your own plan, but this is not a one-size fits all solution for making a Bug In Plan. You may face several types of problems that are unique for your setting and situation. The Plan that you make must be made for you and by you. Own the Process.

Facing an Emergency
Natural Disasters or Man Made Disasters can result in situations when one’s life, health or property is at stake. A Disaster can cause severe problems for transportation, electricity, electronic communications, the access to gas, heating and other systems that most people rely on an everyday basis and take for granted. Most modern appliances like phones, computers, lights, heating, refrigeration, air condition and even water pumps can cease to function in this type of scenarios. Bugging In refers to the tactic of minimizing the impact that such an event may have for you. Many situations do not have to result in a life or death situation if you simply have a plan and the means to deal with them.

A disaster rarely disrupts all functions in a society even if this is a possibility. Functions are often brought back relatively fast after a disaster, power companies can often be able to make repairs relatively quick etc. But some natural disasters like the 2006 Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, The Haiti Earthquake and the recent Japanese Tsunami are event that have affected and will continue to affect entire regions for long periods of time. Disasters can also have a long lasting impact on local areas. In most crisis and survival situations life may completely or partly keep on going as normal – school, work and other activities may continue even if massive damage has been dealt to a community. The magnitude of disasters is not only total devastation or normality; therefore I suggest that you try to have a sliding scale approach in your Bug In Plan.

During your everyday life you can often get Early Warnings for potential disasters like hurricanes by following the news and your local weather prognosis. How much time you should spend on following the events around the world is a matter of personal preferences; you can just make a quick check every morning and having a weather application for your Smartphone or computer; or you can spend basically an unlimited amount of time checking multiple international, regional and local news media. Another potential important source of information is your local or national crisis management agency like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
[ ] Check the Weather Forecast and News Every Morning

Increased Preparedness
Some types of disasters like storms, Hurricanes and Blizzards may be foreseen before they actually take place. In these cases an Early Warning may be given by authorities or other sources that may allow for Preparations to be made. In these types of situations it is however very common that people ignore or downplay the threat; it’s hard for people to really perceive a hurricane as a threat if the warning is given several days before it hits when the sun is shining and the weather is great.
[ ] Follow the Development of the Situation
[ ] Make a timeline for what information that you have received, at what time and from what source.
[ ] Inform Friends and Family about the ongoing Situation
[ ] What you know about this type of Situation or Threat? Make some basic research to learn more about how this type of situation and what you can do to minimize the potential impact.
[ ] Check if there are any plans made by local, regional or national crisis management agencies for how to deal with this type of situation.

At some situations it can become clear that a situation will become a real problem and that it will affect you. In this case you should make all the preparations that you can to minimize the impact.
[ ] Continue to Follow the Development
[ ] Continue to make a timeline for the ongoing development
[ ] Check in with friends and family. How are they are planning to deal with the situation? Do they require any help or is there anything they can do to help you?
[ ] Make Preparations to minimize the potential Consequences
[ ] Check Supplies and your Inventory. Is there and field where you should increase your capability?

Bug In
A few types of scenarios may make it necessary to stay indoors in the Home. A catastrophic pandemic, massive civil unrest, a blizzard or a chemical or radioactive release may make require this approach for short or long periods of time. This represents the most extreme action required; most situations are not likely to require such drastic actions.

Part 1: The Risk Assessment
I suggest that as the first part of your Bug In Plan should be your Risk Assessment. A Risk Assessment is an attempt to find and classify Risks in a systematical manner by trying to judge the potential Consequences and how Likely a certain risk is.

This Assessment will give you an idea of potential threats that you may face, how likely they are and what consequences they might have. From this perspective you can start to action in order to minimize the potential impact of the Risks and acquire knowledge, skills and equipment that may allow you to cope with them in a better way. There are always Risks that may not be possible to foresee, but making an Assessment can help you to avoid some of the threats that you may face. Your setting will affect your vulnerability to these Risks; your type of housing, how high your Home is located above sea level, insulation etc. Dependencies on gas or district heating are other examples of factors that can make you vulnerable to certain types of Risks.

After you have made you’re Risk Assessment its time that you ask yourself what kind of capacity that you want to have in order to deal with different kind of emergencies or disasters. Some questions that can be relevant:
• How long do you think that you may have to be able to cope without external assistance?
• What kind of Skills and Knowledge may help you to overcome these events?
• What type of Equipment and Gear can be useful to deal with these threats?
• What kind of solutions is most effective for your specific setting and situation?
• How much of your time and income are you willing to invest in being prepared?

Part 2: The Group
In the second part of the Plan I suggest that you gather information about the members of your household, friends and other people that are important to you. This information can help you to get in contact with them and make you aware of potential medical needs they may have during an emergency or how you should contact if anything would happen to them.
• Home Phone Number and Fax Number
• Home Address and Type of Housing
• Mobile Phone Number
• E-mail Address
• Work Address and Occupation
• Work Phone Number
• Date of Birth
• Special Medical Needs
• Blood Group
• Immunizations
• Known allergies
• Physical Description; Length, Weight, Hair, Eyes etc, a photograph can also be useful.
• Skills and Education
• Access to Specific Equipment
• What type of driver licenses does the person have and what vehicles can they operate?
• How should you contact if anything would happen to them? Write down the name of the persons and contact information like Phone Number, E-mail and Address.

Part 3: Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
How will you maintain your every day needs like Water, Food, Cooking, Trash Disposal, Hygiene and Sanitation, Light, Communications, Emergency Power during the types of Risks that you have identified? I suggest that you create Standard Operating Procedures, or in other words standardized solutions for how to deal with different types of needs. Here you can include predures for anything from where and how you can gather and purify water, how you will prepare food without electricity or gather information about an ongoing event.

Examples of SOP:s for a Bug In Plan
• Monitoring an ongoing Crisis
Create a Timeline: What has Happened? When Did You receive This Information? From what Source did you receive This Information? Multiple sources: The Media, Radio, TV, FEMA, Local Crisis Management Agencies etc.
• Communications with Friends and Family
Cell Phone, Social Networks, CB or HAM Radio, Landline etc
• CBRN Management and Preparedness
Closing Ventilation, Closing Doors and Windows. Using towels and or tape to seal cracks around doors or windows.
• Collecting and Purifying Water
Extra Water Containers, Water BOB, Water Purification Filter, Water Purification Tablets, How much bleach to use in order to disinfect water etc
• Emergency Toilets and Hygiene – Routines
Same people using the same toilets, where to put waste, hand sanitation, routines for how often to clean facilities etc.
• Loss of Electrical Power
Eat food that need refrigeration first, Light Sources, How to receive news (Battery powered radio or other alternative solutions) etc
• Fire Safety
Fire Escapes / Fire Drills / Evacuation, Fire Alarms, Where can extinguishers be founds etc
• Staying Warm
Heaters, Warm Clothing, Extra Blankets, Sleeping Bags etc

Part 4: Getting Home
Disasters may strike at any time; most people spend much of their time either at work, school or some other type of daytime activity. If disaster strikes and you are far away from home it can be good to make preparations that may help you to get back home. This Plan should not only be for you but also for other family members. If you have children, elderly or disabled members in the household how where will they be picked up and how can they be transported? I also suggest that you make some meeting points, one primary and one secondary.

Communications is another critical aspect. How would you communicate? Phones or Cell phones is normally the easiest way of communications since most people often carry their Cell Phones with them at all times. Social Networks, E-Mail, CB-Radio or Ham-Radio could be other alternatives forms of communication.

Get Home Bag
A Get Home Bag (GHB) is a tool designed to provide you with the tools you may need to deal with everyday problems, emergencies and situation when you have to make back home during a disaster. A Get Home Bag may be the bag that you carry with you at all times with some additional equipment to cope with an emergency or a specific bag that you keep at your work place on in your vehicle. Having a GHB can be a great resource, but in a worst case scenario you may have to make do with the items that you carry on your person; this is equipment is often referred to as and Every Day Carry (EDC).

Distance from Home
If you and your family members live close to your work place, school or other types of day activities getting everyone back home do not have to be a very complicated process. But if you work a long distance from Home, or possibly work in another area or town during the weeks this may be a more difficult process. How much efforts you must put into this type of preparedness depends on your own situation.

Transportation and The Routes Back Home
Getting back home during an ongoing Crisis Situation can be a very easy matter if you work very close to your home, but there are also people how commute long distances and may find them far away from home if disaster would strike. Your Every Day Life must govern your own plans and efforts. I suggest that you take the following steps when you make your plan for getting back home after an emergency.
• Start with marking potential routes on Maps from your work place back to you Home; using markers with different colors can make the routes easy to view and follow. Online tools like Google Maps can also be used to establish routes.
• Try to have both a Primary means of transportation like Vehicles available and a plan for a secondary means of transport like using public transports, bikes or walking.
• Add information about the Route. Where can you find potential shelters, access to water, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, motels, hostels, hazards, repair shops, do you have any stashes on the way etc.
• Try to identify Potential Choke Points like bridges, tunnels etc and potential ways around them.
• Identify key infrastructure on the routes that can possibly be affected by events. Bridges could possibly be damaged or collapse from an Earthquake and Tunnels or roads be flood by a dam break etc

Part 5: Budget
Having an Emergency is also a vital part of your Bug In Plan. A Disaster can cause direct economical los to your Home and other belongings; it may result in injury, destroy businesses and put people out of work. All these type of events require that you have some forms of emergency funds that can be used to cover expenses like rent, fuel, food, medical bills etc. Having the proper form of medical Insurances, Insurances for your Home that cover Natural Disasters etc may also be critical.

Reducing your Loans and Debt are also actions that give you a more solid financial situation if you have to deal with an emergency. This budget may also be of great use for other situations like a job loss, unexpected expenses or home repairs.

I also suggest that you try to keep a medium amount of cash at hand so that you can pay for your needs if you are dependent on a credit or debit card in case of black out. Make sure that you have a safe place to store your cash, other valuables and important documents to prevent theft or the loss of these from hazards like fire. A safe can be a good alternative if you can afford it, a Bank safety deposit box can be another alternative or complement.

Part 6: Inventory
Having an Inventory of your supplies makes it easy to know what you have available during a Crisis Situation and this can also help you to plan and organize your preparedness efforts. There are many ways of organizing your inventory; one way can be to organize it into different categories like:
[ ] Water and Food
[ ] Cooking
[ ] Warmth – Blankets, Sleeping Bags, Warm Clothing
[ ] Alternative form of Heating source: Wood Stove, Heat-Pal, Kerosene Heater, Candles,
[ ] Medical Supplies and First Aid
[ ] Light
[ ] Equipment to Start a Fire
[ ] Fire Safety
[ ] Cash, Important Documents, Family Photos etc
[ ] Tools
[ ] Equipment for Repairs
[ ] Emergency Sanitation and Hygiene
[ ] Energy – Generator, Extension Cords, Spare Parts and Fuel, Solar Chargers for batteries etc

For more suggestion on what kind of supplies that can be useful to have during an Emergency check out the article: Equipment for Your Home – Checklist.

Part 7: The Transportation and Logistics Plan
A Disaster can temporarily disrupt the access to fuel and other types of transportation so it can be vital to have a Plan for how to deal with your day to day transportation needs and if there would be a need to transport a wounded friend or family member to a hospital.

I suggest that you both have a Primary and Secondary means of transportations in your Bug In Plan, a primary mean can be vehicles or trucks; examples of secondary means can be motor cycles, bikes, walking or public transport. Also make sure that you know what types of public means of transport that is available in your area like subways, trains, buses, airports and make sure that you have phone numbers and contact information to these companies.

• Primary means of Transportation – Cars, Truck etc
• Secondary Means of Transportation – Public Transport, Bikes, Motorcycles, Walking etc

Fuel is one of the things that often becomes scares after a disaster and is used as fuel for vehicles, generators and heating. I suggest that you try to keep at least the equivalent of full tank of gas for your Vehicle Available. Fuel is flammable and must be stored safely; make sure to check your local recommendations and rules for storage. Fuel and Gasoline must also be rotated on a regular basis, since it deteriorates over time, even stabilizers can increase the shelf life of fuel. Diesel generally has a longer shelf life than gasoline and a lower flammability. Having some Spare Parts and Tools for Repairs available can also be a good idea.

Part 8: Appendix
In the appendix of the Plan you can gather important information like
• Map – City Maps, Road Map, Topographical Maps, Sea Charts etc.
• Telephone numbers and addresses to hospitals, your house doctor, Police Department, Fire Departments, CERT, The Red Cross, FEMA, local Non Governmental Organizations (NGO:s), The Red Cross, Insurance Companies, Power Companies, Gas Companies etc.
• Contact Information to Alternative Forms of transportation; Airports, Trains, Boats, Subways etc. Phone Numbers, Websites and Addresses to companies.
• Phone Numbers and Contact Information to friends, people at work, contacts etc. Write down information like phone numbers, e-mail address, birthday, home address and what they do for a living and if they have any specific type of skills.
• Articles, Books and other type of reference materials.

Specific Needs
Many people can have special needs like a Wheelchair for getting around, Glasses, Insulin for diabetes, Heart medication or hearing aids. Make sure that your plan Include this specific needs.

Also see:
Bug In - An Introduction
Risk Assessments
Equipment For Your Home – Checklist
Get Home Bags (GHB)

Friday, July 1, 2011


I’m currently writing on the next article for The Free Online Survival Guide – The Bug In Plan. Last weekend we had the traditional summer celebration of midsummer here in Scandinavia. For us how live at the Arctic Circle the sun never set in the middle of the summer and it never comes up over the horizon in the middle of winter. We experience large seasonal variations and right now it almost seems absurd that the sun will not be seen at all in six months. But the days will get shorter and shorter. The summers are short and the winters are long here. I thought that it could be a good idea to share some pictures to give the readers some kind of idea about what type of setting that the author encounters.

In this picture you can see four fixed blade knives, three of them with a traditional Scandinavian design. The first knife from the left is a custom made knife with a tanto style blade, not something that is traditionally used here. The second knife is a knife from the company Karesuando Kniven, the third knife is from Brusletto and the forth knife is a classical knife of the same style that is used by the Sami. Knives with handles made from synthetic materials may be more practical in some situations, but they lack some of the esthetics that a custom made knife or a knife with a wooden handle of has.