Disaster Eye Care: Protection + Treatment + Trauma

**NOTE**  This is a GUEST POST from Dr. Ballon.  Dr. Ballon has been in private practice for 20 years since completing his residency at Duke University Eye Center.  He is President/CEO of The Harman Eye Clinic, in Arlington, Washington.
 

For those of us who are blessed with good vision, ultraviolet (UV) and safety protection are the main issues.  A good wide brimmed hat cuts out 50% of UV rays, and even may help block tree branches from hitting your face at dusk.  Wrap around sunglasses can help provide further protection, or glasses with a wide temple to block sun from the side.  I used to practice ophthalmology in Hawaii before moving back to Washington state, and a growth on the surface of the cornea called pterygium or “surfers eye” was a very common condition due to glaring sun reflected off the water.  Native Americans in the plains used a feather to block the sun from the side.  Please be aware that eagle feathers are protected, so other feathers must be used in a survival situation.

 

Creek with Primitive Style 'Sun Visor'

Creek with Primitive Style 'Sun Visor'

 

For those who wear corrective lenses, shatter resistant lenses are preferred.  Polycarbonate can withstand a 22 caliber bullet fired from 15 feet, but the plastic is soft unless coated with a scratch resistant coating.  Glass lenses are much more scratch resistant, but are heavier.  Both polycarbonate and glass have UV protection.  Photochromic lenses (that turn dark in UV light) are UV protecting, and come in plastic (transitions) and glass (photogrey) brands.  A sturdy frame is important in a disaster situation.  It is important to avoid frames with a nylon string (rimless on the bottom frames) which although stylish, may break and be difficult to repair.  Polaroid sunglasses can improve vision when on the water for fishing, but may interfere with use of LCD devices such as GPS locators.  For contact lens patients, I always suggest back-up glasses.  It is not advisable to make homemade saline solutions due to the risk of acanthamoeba infection.

Laser vision correction is great for those who are good candidates; LASIK may be slightly better in a disaster situation, because PRK (advanced surface ablation) makes the eyes more susceptible to UV light which may cause corneal haze or regression.

Glaucoma is a common eye disease where pressure damges the optic nerves causing tunnel vision.  A cold LASER called SLT is equally effective as eyedrops in lowering the eye pressure and may be an advantage if medicine is difficult to obtain.  It is a good idea to have a list of medications and allergies, and if possible spare medications to keep as rotating stock in a BUG out bag.

A  stye  (blocked oil gland) can be painful, and is best treated with hot compresses.  You can make your own hot compress with a clean sock or bandana and a few smooth stones or river rocks that are gently heated when the campfire dies down.  Be careful to test them on the back of your hand before placing them in the sock and near your closed eyelids.  When the stye drains, there may be a lot of mucous in the eyes.  You can boil water in a stainless water bottle or canteen, let it cool fully then use it to rinse the eyes.  A 1/2 tsp of salt dissolved in the water may be more soothing, but is not essential.

River Rock + Stainless Cup + Bandana

River Rock + Stainless Cup + Bandana

Heated River Rock + Bandana

Heated River Rock + Bandana

Eye Compress made from Heated River Rock wrapped in Bandana

Eye Compress made from Heated River Rock wrapped in Bandana

 

Corneal foreign body may occur when sawing or chopping wood.  If the foreign body is superficial, you may wash your hands and grasp the lashes of the upper eyelid and pull it down over the lower lid.  If it is lodged inside the upper eyelid it may brush off.  If it does not seek the care of an eye care professional.

Quick tip:  Establish a professional relationship with an eye care provider.  If you have an eye problem after hours, the emergency department is usually not very helpful.  In a disaster, the ER may be overwhelmed and if you can call the eye doctor’s office directly and see the doctor on call, you can save time and money.

Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 70.  Lutein is a key factor thought to help prevent this condition.  Green leafy vegetables are a good source of lutein.  Dandelion is universally recognizable and may be a good source of nutrition in a pinch!  One cup of green tea is like a serving of vegetables.  Green tea in teabags is light weight and has vitamin C, lutein and other antioxidants.  You can even use it make an eye pad compress after it cools.

For penetrating corneal injuries or severe eye trauma, it is important to see an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).  In the field you can make a temporary eye shield to protect the eye with a half of a plastic cup and duct tape.

 

Paper Cup Eye Shield

Paper Cup Eye Shield

 

Here is also another Eye Shield made from a Stainless Cup.

 

Eye Shield made from Stainless Cup and Tape

Eye Shield made from Stainless Cup and Tape

 

**NOTE**  This is a GUEST POST from Dr. Ballon.  Dr. Ballon has been in private practice for 20 years since completing his residency at Duke University Eye Center.  He is President/CEO of The Harman Eye Clinic, in Arlington, Washington.  Web-site: http://www.20better.com

 

My Tactical Dry Box: An ammo heavy mixed-lot survival chest

My favorite part about going to the dentist as a kid was the Pirate’s Chest of toys my Brother and I got to sift through after the appointment.  There were all kinds of little trinkets to choose from: bouncy balls, spinning tops, rubber figurines and little parachute men.  Well, years later, I now keep a little chest of my own except it’s full of ammunition, knives, tools, first aid items and survival supplies.  The two chests are alike in that they both make me happy but that about where the similarity ends.

My Tactical Dry Box

I picked up this chest (18″x12″x10″) at a local Gander Mountain.  It’s got a latch and rubber gasket which makes it water proof – hence the phrase ‘dry box’.  When sealed it also floats.

WHAT & WHY

The basic premise behind my keeping this box is to have a nice little compact ‘ready-to-grab’ box of ammunition in a variety of calibers.  This box is rugged and keeps everything dry.  Most of my ammo I keep hidden or locked up and I like the idea of having a few hundred rounds of mixed-lot ammunition at the ready.  Even if it’s for a day at the range or plinking in the back yard, having a grab-n-go box of ammo has its advantages.  Toss it in the truck and go.  I also look at my dry box as my Bug Out Bag’s combat trained body guard.

So what’s in the box?

Well, not just ammo.  I keep a variety of survival supplies in there.  It’s almost like a survival kit that’s heavy on ammo.  There is a secret compartment under the lid which is a work in progress.  Now, I just have some cash, a ferro rod, a multi-tool and some wire.

There is a removable shelf once you open the lid.  I keep an entire first aid kit on this shelf.

Then, in the main compartment I keep a headlamp, an emergency blanket, a pair of wool gloves, 100 foot of 550 paracord and 425 rounds of ammunition.  This kit is still a work in progress and there is room for more items – I just haven’t decided what else to include just yet.

I hate cardboard ammo boxes!

I picked up a few of these plastic ammo organizers from a dealer at a gun show.  The brand is Berry Mfg. and I love these things.  Here is a link: http://www.berrysmfg.com/products.aspx?c=3  They were only a couple bucks each.

I leave the .22 rounds in the plastic containers they came in.  Here’s my ammo breakdown:

  • 9mm – 100 rounds
  • 12 gauge shotgun – 25 mixed rounds
  • .22 long rifle – 150 rounds
  • .223 – 50 rounds
  • .38 special – 50 rounds
  • .357 – 50 rounds

SUMMARY

A nicely organized tactical dry box allows you to quickly grab a variety of ammo rounds – whether during a full on Bug Out, an afternoon hunt or just some plinking in the back yard.  Everything is protected, dry and compactly stored in a durable, affordable and ready-to-go container… just enough, just in case.

This dry box in it’s current state weighs in at 17.25 lbs.

 

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

The CORE FOUR: Managing Your Top Survival Priorities

Inevitably, when I tell people that I teach Survival & Disaster Preparedness Skills Courses, they always get a funny look on their face like they are not sure what to ask next.  Many of them reference the extreme survival television shows and say something about the end of the world or zombies.  Even though it’s not really a laughing matter, I always chuckle along with them for a few moments and then I say, “Well, no, not really…  though the skills I teach can certainly help someone in an END OF THE WORLD scenario or a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE,  I spend most of my time focusing on survival and disaster scenarios that actually happen to people all the time – things like natural disasters that threaten entire towns and regions or sudden survival scenarios like being lost or stranded for a few days – you know – the stuff you see on the 5 o’clock news every night.”  By this time, they aren’t chuckling any more (and neither am I).

I then ask them about their back up survival plans for their family in the event of a large scale disaster – food & water storage?  power?  heat?  survival priorities?

My point?  This “stuff” matters.  It really matters.  To many in our not so distant history, not knowing what to do in a survival scenario has cost them their life.

If you’ve been to any classes here at Willow Haven then you already know how much time I spend on what I call “The CORE FOUR” or C4 for short.

C4 represents your Top 4 Survival Priorities: SHELTER, WATER, FIRE & FOOD.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the different aspects of studying survival related topics and lose sight of what is really important at the end of the day.  So, for this post, we are going to get back to the basics of survival  – The Core Four.

Typically, your survival priorities will be in this order: SHELTER, WATER, FIRE & FOOD.  However, the details of a scenario ultimately dictate the final order.  This order is loosely based on survival’s 3 rules of 3:

In extreme conditions…

  1. You can live 3 hours without shelter.
  2. You can live 3 days without water.
  3. You can live 3 weeks without food.

Below is a brief visit back to the survival basics.  Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.

C1: SURVIVAL SHELTER

Our most basic of survival needs, SHELTER protects us from the elements and over-exposure to extreme cold and heat.  Shelter is not just about the physical structure itself – it is just as much about the location choice.  The best shelter in the worst location can be a recipe for death.  For example, setting up camp in a flash flood area or beneath ‘widow-makers’ can be a deadly oversight.

Shelter becomes an immediate survival priority in extreme conditions – especially cold.  Hypothermia is the #1 Outdoor Killer in the United States and can develop in temperatures as high as 50 degrees – especially when combined with moisture and wind.

God didn’t give us thick fur or feathers to stave off severe cold.  Instead, He gave us an advanced and innovative mind to think creatively and improvise shelter solutions when we need them.  Survival shelters, though, don’t need to be complicated.  Oftentimes, the best shelters are the simplest ones.  Time, energy and materials conservation are all important considerations when creating or choosing a survival shelter.  A survival shelter should:

  • Protect you from wind and precipitation
  • Insulate you from the ground
  • Be away from natural threats (i.e. flash floods, drainage areas, widow makers, insect mounds, rock cliffs, etc…)
  • Be close to resources such as water, building materials, fire wood, etc…
  • Be southward facing to capture as much sun as possible (in cold conditions)

When it comes to natural shelters, it’s funny how Mother nature works.  She typically provides you with what you need when you need it.  For example, in the fall and winter when you need insulation materials, there are typically plenty of fallen leaves or dead grasses available.  Or, in the summer when you just need an overhead canopy, big green leaves are perfect for waterproofing roof-tops.

 

C2: SURVIVAL WATER

There is a reason why streams, rivers, ponds and lakes are hot spots for animal (and human) activity.  Our lives revolve around access to water.  There are 3 important aspects to consider when it comes to Survival Water.

The Ability to Find Water

Sometimes, water is easy to locate – such as in ponds, river or streams.  Hopefully we are all that lucky if ever faced with a survival scenario.  You need to also know how to locate water in it’s unlikely hiding places.  Whether underground, within plants and trees or in the form of dew, water can be an elusive resource.  To the trained eye, finding water involves studying the landscape.  Knowing what to look for is critical.  Green vegetation is often a sign of water nearby.  Animal activity can also provide clues to water sources.  Water travels down hill and often collects in low spots and depressions.  Water can also be extracted from plants and trees through transpiration.

Some plants such as Thistle can be a source of water.  At the right time of year, Maple trees can be tapped for their drinkable sap (the source of Maple syrup).  Below is a photo from this past winter when I tapped a Maple while thirsty in the woods.  All I had on me was a little packet of granola.  I ate the granola and used the packet as my collection container.  This big sugar maple filled that 8 oz. package about every 15 minutes.  With it’s natural sugar content, it was just the energy drink I needed.  Of course, you must be able to identify trees (with and without leaves) to do this.

The ability to find and source water embodies a collection of critical survival skills.  Finding water, though, is only the first step.  Purifying water is often more of a challenge.    If you are in a survival scenario, you’d better be 100% certain that your water is safe to drink – it is a LIFE & DEATH decision.  Sickness from contaminated water kills 100s of thousands of people in the world each year.  Overwhelming thirst can cloud even the best survivor’s judgement.

Boiling is the most obvious way to kill biological threats such as viruses, bacteria and cysts.  Boiling, however, requires your 3rd Core Survival Priority – FIRE.

 

C3: SURVIVAL FIRE

The list of functions that FIRE provides a survivor is literally endless.  Obviously, it can be used to boil and purify C2: WATER.  It can also be used to signal for rescue, provide warmth, create light, make tools and coal burned containers, smoke and cook foods, stave off predators and make natural adhesives.  The list goes on and on…

Fire, though, doesn’t just happen.  It must be planned, prepared, coaxed, labored, fed and watched.  The ability to make fire in varied conditions with varied tools is a critical survival skill and one that involves practice, trial, error, failure and patience.  From natural materials to modern tools, it is wise to be knowledgeable in a variety of fire starting methods.

As I always say, 90% of your fire-crafting is done before a spark is even cast.  Gathering, collecting, preparing and arranging fire building materials and fire tinder is critical to a successful 1st go at it.  Rushing this process leads to failure – almost always.  When your life (and maybe those with you) depends on getting it right the first time, resist the temptation to rush – even if cold is getting the best of you.

The best way I find to practice my fire starting skills is to start every fire I make using a different method with a variety of tinder materials.

Sometimes I’ll use modern ignition devices such as ferro rods and bic lighters, other times I’ll get creative and use batteries and wire or even primitive methods such as a bow drill set.  Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed but every time I learn.  Fire crafting skills only come with practice.  It’s just one of those skill sets that requires dirt time.

 

C3: SURVIVAL FOOD

Food takes 4th place in the list because it’s not an immediate life-threatening need.  However, we have become accustomed to eating at the slightest hunger pang.  Whether we swing through the drive through, reach into our desk drawer for a granola bar or pop some quarters into a vending machine, food is AMAZINGLY EASY to get.  It requires virtually no effort, thought, or energy to fill our tummy quickly.  

Our drowsiness, headaches and light-headedness are signs that WE NEED THAT SUGAR!  So…we take our dosage until the effects creep back upon us and then we repeat the cycle.

In a survival situation, this pattern quickly catches up to us – and the effects can be quite disturbing.  Primitive (and less spoiled) cultures don’t have these dependencies and can therefore handle hunger and lack of food much better.  After a couple of days without sugar, carbs, calories and the like, our decision making abilities can be down right dangerous.  And, in a situation that might require ALL of our BEST wits, one bad decision can be devastating.  My point?  While food is the last CORE 4 – it is still very important.

Ultimately, finding food in a survival scenario comes down to hunting, fishing, gathering or scavenging.

 

  • HUNTING: Hunting involves killing something to eat – that can be any variety of critters: frogs, squirrel, insects, snakes, and the list goes on and on.
  • FISHING: This one is pretty self explanatory.
  • GATHERING: Most people think of wild plant edibles when they think of gathering – things such as berries, nuts, roots and greens.  I would consider shellfish and eggs to be a part of this category as well.
  • SCAVENGING: I’ll never forget when my Dad and I were in the woods one day and heard a crying moan.  As we ran toward the sound we jumped 2 coyote who had just killed a baby deer.  This would have been an incredible scavenged meal for 2 survivors.  Scavenging also has it’s place in URBAN SURVIVAL as well.  The homeless community in cities use this category as their PRIMARY method of getting food.  It certainly has it’s place in survival.

 

Unless you are lucky, each method requires some practice.  Traps, gigs, spears, arrows, fishing tools, nets – they all take practice to get right.  The subtle nuances that make primitive hunting tools effective to use can only be learned by trial and error.  Identifying wild edibles certainly takes time, practice and effort.  I’ve spent 100s of hours studying field guides – cross referencing them with plants and I still get stumped from time to time.  Fishing is an art all of it’s own.  The preparation of this food to eat is a whole other sector of learning.

When’s the last time you ate something that you hunted, gathered, fished or scavenged?

 

CONCLUSION: FOCUS ON THE BASICS

If getting some survival skills is on your 2012 TO-DO List, focus on these areas.  Become adept in 2-3 skills in each category.  Learning skills associated with THE CORE FOUR will be your best investment in survival knowledge.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

How to Build a Get Home Bag (GHB): When you’re away from home and things get CRAZY!

What if disaster strikes and you AREN’T AT HOME?  Maybe traveling or at work – and far from your BUG OUT BAG?  That’s simple, just grab your GET HOME BAG!

Check out my GUEST POST EXCLUSIVELY at ARTOFMANLINESS.COM titled HOW TO BUILD A GET HOME BAGhttp://artofmanliness.com/2012/05/10/how-to-build-a-get-home-bag-book-giveaway/

ARTOFMANLINESS.COM is also giving away 3 copies of my new book – see the details in the post on their site: http://artofmanliness.com/2012/05/10/how-to-build-a-get-home-bag-book-giveaway/

Has anyone EVER been in a situation when they needed (or even used) a GET HOME BAG?  I (and I’m sure many others readers) would like to hear your experience in a comment below!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

12 Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Bug Out Bag: Series Post 5 of 12: Fire

Series Introduction

This post series is for anyone who has an interest or curiosity in building their own Bug Out Bag.  In the next 3-4 months leading up to the release of my book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, my publisher has authorized me to write a series of 12 posts outlining the 12 Supply Categories needed to build the perfect Bug Out Bag and WHY they are important and necessary.  Each post in this 12 Step Series will highlight a separate Bug Out Bag Supply Category.

In my book I elaborate on each of these supply categories in great detail with 100s of detailed photos, instructions, practice exercises, recommended gear and specific supply check-lists.  The purpose of this 12 Step Series is to identify, define and explain why each of the 12 Supply Categories I outline in my book are critical elements of a well-thought out Bug Out Bag.  I will not get into recommended gear, survival instruction or specific check-lists – I have to save something for the book!  This blog series isn’t as much about pitching my book as it is about selling the idea of building a bug out bag.  I truly believe that every person should have their own 72 hour disaster survival kit – especially in the uncertain times we live in today.  You can almost look at this post series as 12 Reasons Why People Need a Bug Out Bag.  It is my hope that this series motivates people to begin building their own kit that may very well serves as their survival life-line one day.

Supply Category # 5: FIRE

This post is going to be short, sweet and to the point.  I can’t say enough about the importance of Fire Starting Supplies in a Bug Out Bag.  Fire is without a doubt in a survivor’s TOP 5 Survival Priorities.

A Bug Out Bag without a GUARANTEED way to start a fire is incomplete.

Why is FIRE so important to a survivor?  First and foremost, fire is a tool that can be used to regulate your core body temperature and stave off hypothermia in cold weather environments.  It can dry wet cloths and heat rocks for radiant heat while you sleep.  It can provide light in dark conditions and can boost the morale of those who become emotionally exhausted.  Fire can also boil and disinfect your #1 Life-Saving Resource – Water.  In addition, it can heat and cook your meals.  Use can use fire to make tools, containers and harden spear tips.  Furthermore, you can signal for rescue with fire.

Countless survivors have been saved by their ability to start a fire.  It’s their ability and knowledge that saved them – not the fire.

What is GUARANTEED FIRE?

Guaranteed Fire means that you have the tools and resources in your Bug Out Bag to start and build a fire in virtually any condition you can imagine – wet, cold, damp or windy.  Your FIRE KIT should be comprised of 2 components: 1) An Ignition Device and 2)Fire Starting Tinder.  I review a variety of ignition tools and fire tinders in my book that I would rely on in a Bug Out Scenario for GUARANTEED FIRE.

 

Heat + Fuel + Oxygen

Just igniting your fire tinder doesn’t mean you’re ‘out of the woods’.  Building a healthy self-sustaining fire requires experience and know-how.  From the Fire Platform through several stages and sizes of kindling, preparation and planning are critical.  Unfortunately, in many instances when you really NEED a fire, you typically NEED IT RIGHT NOW.  Resist the temptation to rush through the important first stages of fire building.

CONCLUSION

Can your Bug Out Fire Kit pass the test?  Try starting a fire in ‘not-so-perfect’ conditions to see if you need to reevaluate your choices.  As we enter into the famed year of 2012, I’d like to end this post with a quote from the opening chapter of my book:

You’ve heard the phrase “If you build it, they will come.” When discussing Bug Out Bags and disasters, my survivalist motto is “Build it, they are coming.”

Build YOUR perfect Bug Out Bag with the help of my no nonsense book: Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag – available on AMAZON and everywhere books are sold.

creek-stewart-book-cover-low-res

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

4 Light-weight Collapsible Survival Water Storage Containers

There  is a reason why I post so much about WATER.

WATER IS CRITICAL TO OUR SURVIVAL!

Some experts say that the next greatest world resource shortage will be WATER.  In many parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is already almost nonexistent.  The ability to source, carry, store and disinfect water should be at the top of your survival preps and skill sets.

There are all kinds of different skills and products that are relevant to a discussion about SURVIVAL H2O.  Today, I’d like to discuss 4 SMALL Collapsible Containers with BIG Potential.

First, why COLLAPSIBLE?

In many aspects of survival, portability is key.  Containers that are collapsible make sense to the survivalist for several reasons:

  • They weigh less
  • They take us less space
  • Can be carried easily in a BOB or BOV
Collapsible containers, however, are typically not as durable as their rigid counterparts.  You will have to decide when portability outweighs durability.

Below are 4 Collapsible Water Containers that I own – each have a slightly different place and purpose in my survival tool chest of products.  I detail why I own them, what I plan on or currently use them for, and where you can get them should you decide to add them to your survival preps.

The Water Bob

As you can see in the photo above, the Water Bob is a collapsible water liner that fits in your bath tub.  In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, the Water Bob can be deployed in a matter of minutes and holds a staggering 100 gallons of water.
The Water Bob also comes with a siphon for drawing out smaller portions of water.  Sure, you can just fill your bath tub up with no liner if you are desperate, but the food grade liner protects the water from A) Your nasty bath tub and B) Dust, debris, insects and air-born particles.

If you are limited on space for water storage in your house or apartment and you have a bath tub, the Water Bob might be a good solution for you.  If you see this fitting into your survival mix, you can order one at http://www.waterbob.com/  for $24.95.

The 5-Gallon Collapsible Container

I bought this container from http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/MLT4945-1.html for $9.97.  Versions of this style container can be found in almost any camping section at any big box retailer.  I’ve seem them in hunting stores like Gander Mountain and even Wal-mart.  These are a great light-weight, portable solution for toting water from a water source back to camp or a Bug Out Location.  They can also be frozen.  This one is fitted with an easy ON/OFF spigot which is a nice feature.

The Jolly Tank

The Jolly Tank is my new favorite survival water storage container.  My friend (and occasional Guest Author on this site and owner of www.realitysurvival.com)  JJ Johnson recently introduced me to the Jolly Tank.  I’ve been in the survival biz for 15 years and have never seen this particular product.  It holds 2 gallons of water or fuel (6 hour limit on fuel) and folds down to about the size of your wallet.  And, it only weighs a few ounces.  I’ve added one of these to my BOB, my Bronco and also to my in-home safe room.  Trust me, I need one in my Bronco – that thing SUCKS THE GAS.
JJ has done an excellent review on this item at http://www.realitysurvival.com/jolly-tank/.  He also sells them for $10.  Other than his site, I don’t know of anywhere else to get them.

The Platypus Water Bottle

I’ve used a Collapsible Platypus Bottle ( http://cascadedesigns.com/platypus ) for as long as I can remember.  I use it as 1 of my 3 Bug Out Bag water containers.  I have the 2 liter version and it literally rolls up into nothing when empty.  It’s the best use of space I can think of in a BOB.  I’ve used the same one for over 10 years so I can attest to its durability.  I love that I can reduce the bulk in my pack as I consume the water in this bottle.  It is just one of those items that makes sense.

The Big Drawback

The obvious drawback of collapsible containers in their thin walled design.  Though most of them are surprisingly durable, they are definitely more susceptible to being cut or punctured.  This needs to be taken into consideration when using and packing these types of containers.  In a survival scenario where weight is critical, the pros of these containers certainly OUTWEIGH the cons.

Are you using a collapsible container that the rest of us should know about?  If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,
Creek

12 Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Bug Out Bag: Series Post 4 of 12: Clothing

Series Introduction

This post series is for anyone who has an interest or curiosity in building their own Bug Out Bag.  In the next 3-4 months leading up to the release of my book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, my publisher has authorized me to write a series of 12 posts outlining the 12 Supply Categories needed to build the perfect Bug Out Bag and WHY they are important and necessary.  Each post in this 12 Step Series will highlight a separate Bug Out Bag Supply Category.

In my book I elaborate on each of these supply categories in great detail with 100s of detailed photos, instructions, practice exercises, recommended gear and specific supply check-lists.  The purpose of this 12 Step Series is to identify, define and explain why each of the 12 Supply Categories I outline in my book are critical elements of a well-thought out Bug Out Bag.  I will not get into recommended gear, survival instruction or specific check-lists – I have to save something for the book!  This blog series isn’t as much about pitching my book as it is about selling the idea of building a bug out bag.  I truly believe that every person should have their own 72 hour disaster survival kit – especially in the uncertain times we live in today.  You can almost look at this post series as 12 Reasons Why People Need a Bug Out Bag.  It is my hope that this series motivates people to begin building their own kit that may very well serves as their survival life-line one day.

Supply Category # 4: Clothing

My previous post in this series raised awareness around the need to include SHELTER & BEDDING in your Bug Out Bag.  Shelter & Bedding is a secondary layer of protection from the elements – your first and primary layer is CLOTHING.  Clothing, however, isn’t universally the same for everyone like FIRE and WATER.  Your clothing needs and considerations will vary depending on where you live.  Obviously, someone who lives in Northern Minnesota will have different clothing needs than a person living in Southern Florida.  There are several considerations, however,  that are true regardless of geography.

 

LAYERING FOR WARMTH

Layering is critical when it comes to warmth.  With strategically chosen clothing layers you can stay warmer and dryer with half the bulk and weight of a large oversized coat or parka.  You can also better control your body temperature by adding/shedding layers during times of exertion or rest.  You cannot do this with 1 large bulky overcoat.  Several clothing layers is also more efficient when it comes to burning energy.  It’s easier for your body to warm multiple layers than just 1 layer.  Heat loss is much slower through layers.

THE FABRIC MATTERS

Cotton kills.  100% cotton clothing items such as blue jeans are horrible survival fabric choices.  Cotton is heavy when wet and very slow to dry.  It also provides almost ZERO insulating properties when wet.  Wool, however, maintains a very high percentage of it’s warming and insulating properties even when wet.  Wool is also a naturally wicking fabric.  Nylon and nylon/poly blends aren’t the best insulators but they are very quick to dry which is key.  All of these factors should be considered when assembling your Bug Out Clothing.

CLOTHING ISN’T JUST FOR COLD WEATHER

Overexposure to the heat and sun can be just as dangerous as hypothermic conditions.  Severe sun-burn and heat exhaustion can cause debilitating set-backs.  A simple wide brimmed hat or quickie tarp sun-shelter can be life-savers in environments with limited protection from the heat and sun.

IF YOUR FEET ARE SCREWED, YOU ARE SCREWED

Remember, you may have to travel by foot.  A nice solid ‘broken-in’ pair of waterproof hiking books is essential for a Bug Out.  Plan on wearing them out the door.  I’ve found that wool socks are also an irreplaceable necessity when it comes to rigorous and extended hiking.  They are durable, breathable and much less likely to cause blisters and irritations associated with socks made from other fabrics that I’ve used in the past.

EVERYTHING PERFORMS LESS EFFICIENTLY WHEN DIRTY

Clothing is a tool.  Just like any other tool you own, it does not perform at it’s peak when dirty.  Especially when layering, it’s important that your clothing items remain breathable.  Dirt, grime and body oils effect clothing performance.  For this reason, packing an extra of some key clothing items is a good idea.

MULTI-USE CLOTHING ITEMS

As all of you know, I am a huge fan of multi-use survival items.  Clothing is no different.  If you choose the right items, they can also be used for other survival needs.  For example, a military style poncho can double as an emergency shelter or ground cloth and a shemagh scarf can be used for 100s of survival tasks.  I review several of these items in more detail in my book.

 

Conclusion

Nature provides animals with fur, feathers and blubber for warmth.  We’ve been given a brain for warmth.  Think and plan ahead by having weather appropriate clothing at the ready for a potential Bug Out.  This, combined with your shelter and fire pack items, should prepare you for a wide variety of inclement weather scenarios.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

How do I get started in Food & Water Storage?

If you are asking this question, I’m going to skip all the fancy survival talk about grain mills and meat rabbits and oxygen absorbing packets and heirloom seeds and mylar bags and and food grade buckets and shelf life and all that jazz.  This stuff has been hashed and rehashed on countless other survival blogs.  Maybe I will do a post here sometime titled “LONG TERM FOOD AND WATER SELF-RELIANCE” that deals with securing food and water in addition to your storage items.  I could discuss in more detail the systems I have in place to deal with these issues.  This, though, is not that post.

Researching Survival Food and Water Storage can get a little overwhelming if you let it.  If you are just starting, I’m going to help you Keep It Simple.

If you are asking this question to begin with, chances are that you have LITTLE to ZERO food and water storage in place at this moment.  It’s OK – don’t panic.  But also, don’t wait any longer to get started.  Disasters give NO WARNING and show NO MERCY.

This post is for those who have NO CURRENT FOOD AND WATER STORAGE.  My answer to your question about how to get started is very simple and to the point.

Skip the fancy survival prepping dictionary and BUY YOUR FOOD & WATER STORAGE ITEMS.  That’s right, buy them.  I’ll tell you where.   And, order them now – within the next 24 hours if you can afford to do so.  Once you have a 1 month supply of Food and Water storage on hand, then you can relax and research about how to expand your bounty in a more economical way.  However, you will find that it’s not really that much less expensive…

I keep 1 year of Food and Water Storage on hand.  This means that I have ALL of the FOOD and ALL of the WATER stored on a shelf that I need for 1 ENTIRE YEAR.  I recommend a minimum of 3 months.  But to get started – focus on getting 1 month crossed off the list.

What do you need for 1 month of Food Storage?

Answer: Easy to prepare, nutritious, long shelf life, turn-key full meals.

Go to WiseFoodStorage.com and buy a 1 Month Food Storage package and have it shipped to you.  Their web-site is www.wisefoodstorage.com.  You can select from a variety of packages that will fit your needs.  Their food is good and the cost per meal is very reasonable.  CALL IN YOUR ORDER because often they have deals that aren’t listed on the site.  I don’t get a kick-back, this is just a company I’ve dealt with in the past and know them to be the real deal.  They are ‘just add water’ meals that are individually packaged and easy to prepare.

 

Another good web-site for Food Storage products is BePrepared.com.  Their selection of items will make you dizzy.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Remember, you just need to to start with 1 month of turn-key easy to prepare long shelf-life meals.

Buy what are called ENTREE MEALS.  This is a complete Meal-In-A-Bag and you don’t have to worry about buying side dishes, main courses, ingredients, etc…  KEEP THIS SIMPLE!  It’s easy to get caught up in all the details.  Right now, you just need SIMPLE & FAST FOOD STORAGE – an easy solution.  Trust me, I hate spending my hard earned money on food storage too, but I have to say, there is a certain sense of peace and satisfaction that comes from knowing you are not immediately dependent on our JUST-IN-TIME food supply chains.  Our food supply is dependent on SOOOO many factors.  When disaster strikes, it screws with pretty much ALL of these factors.  99% of the food you see in a grocery store is ON THE SHELF.  Their back rooms are filled with empty cardboard boxes.  The food arrives on a truck and is immediately stocked on the shelves.  If the truck doesn’t come today, guess what?  No milk and bread today – that’s what.  Will it come tomorrow?  Not if the roads are covered in ice or if their is a fuel crisis or if someone starts dropping bombs or if a tornado shreds half of your city.  1000s of factors can affect our food supply chain.  Do you think the milk was delivered to this neighborhood in Joplin, MO on the day the picture below was taken.  Heck, do think it was delivered that week even?  That month?

1 Month Food Storage – DONE – check it off the list.

What do I need for Water Storage?

First, how much water per person?  My rule is 2 gallons per day.  I tested this theory for 3 months and it comes out about right.  I could have probably gotten away with less.  This is enough for food preparation, drinking, personal hygiene and cleaning.  Obviously, it needs to be rationed accordingly.  Want to know your exact amount???   … buy 20 gallons of bottled water at the store and turn your faucets off for a week.  Use a rain barrel to gather water to use for flushing your toilet and washing your clothes.  See how long 20 gallons lasts you and your family for food prep, hydration and hygiene.  Take a ‘spit-bath’ in the sink.  Sure, it’ll suck, but it’s also fun at the same time.  Your friends will think you’ve gone crazy.  Who cares?  At the end of the week, calculate up how much water you’ve used (and how many of the empties you had to fill back up!) and that’s your number.

In the mean time, order one of these water storage kits shown below:

 

You can get them on the Sams Club Web-Site for only $68.88 : http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod1842032&navAction=

Or, direct from the manufacturer for more $$$ at: Auguson Farmshttp://www.augasonfarms.com/preparedness-supplies/Water-Storage-Kit

This is what I use for the bulk of my water storage.  These are 55 gallon food grade drums.  The kit comes with a 2-part water purification/storage chemical which you dump in while you fill the drum.  It also comes with a pump siphon for getting the water out into more manageable containers during an emergency.  Just a note, only fill these puppies up in the place where you want to store them because once they are full – forget about moving them.  55 gallons of water goes a long way.  110 gallons goes twice as long 🙂  These kits are a small price to pay for fresh water when the grid goes down.

1 Month (or more) Water Storage – DONE – Check it off the list!

Don’t get intimidated by photos and videos from other preppers showing off their food storage!

Your storage doesn’t have to look like a well organized bulk foods store.  Much of my own doesn’t look this way.  While the bulk of my food and water storage is through the 2 vendors listed above, I still have shelves packed with a bunch of miscellaneous water containers, dried foods, MRES, etc…  Here is a photo below.

As I’m making routine trips to the grocery store I like to grab a few extra items here and there to add to my food stores.  You’d be surprised how fast you can build up a descent back-up pantry with just a few dollars a week.  This method does take time, though.  I would strongly suggest that you get something turn-key in place and then supplement with this trickle-storage method.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

That’s a tricky question and I guess the answer would be “It depends.”  In the event of a complete economic collapse, severe depression, global disaster, viral pandemic or foreign invasion (all of which are completely possible) you cannot have TOO MUCH food and water storage.  Any of these large scale events would change the world as we know it – and certainly how we access food and water.  When people ask me “How much is too much?”, my answer is always the same: “Do you have friends or loved ones?”  Prepping for survival is just as much about taking care of your loved ones as it is yourself and many would argue that their primary motivation for prepping is to take care of other people in the event that the grid goes down – Mom, Dad, Kids, Wife, Husband, Brother, Sister, Grandma, Grandpa…  At the same time, spending all of your disposable income on storage products isn’t the best option in my opinion either.  You have to find your own happy medium.

An important consideration, however, is spoilage.  You don’t want to store an excess of food items with relatively short shelf lives.  I love buying organic food items and fresh local vegetables and meats for my daily meals, but when it comes to my survival rations I buy SHELF LIFE.  Wise Food Meals (listed above) have a shelf life of 25 years.  I really don’t have the time or interest to constantly be checking expiration dates on my food stores.  This, though, is a personal choice and like most things when it comes to survival – you can do it YOUR WAY.  It is the DOING IT that’s important.  A different approach to accomplish the same goal still equals success.

Creek – Do you ONLY store FOOD and WATER in preparation for a WCS (worse case scenario)?

No, I have storage of many items.  Food and Water, though, are the top 2.  Cross these off the list first and then we can discuss ammo, fuel, batteries, etc…  Totally different post for another day.

Tell us about your storage products/ideas/methods in a comment below.  1000s of readers visit this site and are eager to learn for your experiences in Food and Water Storage as well – so am I.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

12 Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Bug Out Bag: Series Post 3 of 12: Shelter and Bedding

Series Introduction

This post series is for anyone who has an interest or curiosity in building their own Bug Out Bag.  In the next 3-4 months leading up to the release of my book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, my publisher has authorized me to write a series of 12 posts outlining the 12 Supply Categories needed to build the perfect Bug Out Bag and WHY they are important and necessary.  Each post in this 12 Step Series will highlight a separate Bug Out Bag Supply Category.

In my book I elaborate on each of these supply categories in great detail with 100s of detailed photos, instructions, practice exercises, recommended gear and specific supply check-lists.  The purpose of this 12 Step Series is to identify, define and explain why each of the 12 Supply Categories I outline in my book are critical elements of a well-thought out Bug Out Bag.  I will not get into recommended gear, survival instruction or specific check-lists – I have to save something for the book!  This blog series isn’t as much about pitching my book as it is about selling the idea of building a bug out bag.  I truly believe that every person should have their own 72 hour disaster survival kit – especially in the uncertain times we live in today.  You can almost look at this post series as 12 Reasons Why People Need a Bug Out Bag.  It is my hope that this series motivates people to begin building their own kit that may very well serves as their survival life-line one day.

Supply Category # 3: Shelter and Bedding

 

As fun and cool as it looks, building a natural shelter should be your LAST option in the midst of a Bug Out Evacuation.  Natural improvised shelters are labor intensive, time consuming and calorie draining – all of which you want to avoid when getting to a safe destination is your # 1 Priority.

Shelter solutions MUST be included in your BOB and they MUST be tested to work for you and your Bug Out Crew.

Exposure to the elements is the #1 Outdoor Killer – period.  A sudden and violent natural disaster (natural or man made) can force you and your family from your home with little to no warning.  When the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck Japan in March of 2011 it forced TENS OF THOUSANDS of people from their homes with as little as 30 minutes warning.  There wasn’t an ‘evacuation safe-haven’ for these people to stay in and no one was waiting at the city edge to cradle them with warm blankets and hot chocolate.  Many of them fled to  the mountains with what they could carry on their backs.  Did you know it was also freezing outside?  Can you say BUG OUT BAG?

In extreme conditions, SHELTER can be (and often is) your #1 priority.  Humans can die in as little as 3 hours (or less) in extreme cold or hot conditions.  There have been countless instances of hypothermia in temperatures as high as 50 degrees.  Combine water, wind and cold temps and you have a recipe for death.  Besides your clothing, the shelter and bedding you HAVE WITH YOU is your best defense against fighting the battle against exposure.  While not very glamorous, this chapter in my book is extremely important.  Shelter and Bedding is a critical supply category that should be carefully considered in EVERY Bug Out Bag.

It’s so important, in fact, that I encourage redundancy when it comes to Bug Out Sheltering solutions.  Even if you pack a lightweight tent in your BOB, the knowledge and supplies to construct a quick tarp or poncho shelter as a wind or rain break can save your life.  I discuss many of these shelter options throughout this chapter.  Your main shelter system might get damaged, lost or stolen.  Back-up solutions to critical supply categories are important because NOTHING is guaranteed.  The survival gain from a light-weight backpacking tarp is well worth any space and weight sacrifices you might make to include one in your BOB.

A roof over your head is only 1 aspect of shelter.  In a disaster Bug Out you must be prepared for worst case scenarios.  No shelter system is complete without bedding that can keep you warm in the worst of climates.  Besides FIRE (which I will discuss in a later post) BEDDING is a key component to keeping your core temp in check during frigid night-time sleeping conditions.

Bedding consists of not only what is ON TOP of you but also what is UNDERNEATH YOU.  Conductive heat loss into the cold earth below can render even the best sleeping bag and shelter system virtually useless.  Understanding HOW the body loses heat in a wilderness environment is critical to selecting Bug Out Bag Shelter and Sleeping Gear.  Even the simplest short-comings came prove deadly in extreme environments.

As with any critical Bug Out Supply category, what works for you may not be the best solution for the next guy and vice versa.  Selecting gear is only the first step and it is very personal – there are no RIGHT or WRONG answers.  However, all human survival needs are the same and SHELTER is at the top of the list.  Your shelter and bedding systems MUST be tested to work and must meet your expectations.  If they do not, then it’s back at ground zero.  Mother Nature & Mankind can be brutal and merciless adversaries.  It’s important that now, during moments of peace and normality, that you invest the necessary time into selecting gear that will withstand the conditions that only a Bug Out situation can present.

Build YOUR perfect Bug Out Bag with the help of my no nonsense book: Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag – available on AMAZON and everywhere books are sold.

creek-stewart-book-cover-low-res

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Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

12 Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Bug Out Bag: Series Post 1 of 12: Water and Hydration

Series Introduction

This post series is for anyone who has an interest or curiosity in building their own Bug Out Bag.  In the next 3-4 months leading up to the release of my book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, my publisher has authorized me to write a series of 12 posts outlining the 12 Supply Categories needed to build the perfect Bug Out Bag and WHY they are important and necessary.  Each post in this 12 Step Series will highlight a separate Bug Out Bag Supply Category.

In my book I elaborate on each of these supply categories in great detail with 100s of detailed photos, instructions, practice exercises, recommended gear and specific supply check-lists.  The purpose of this 12 Step Series is to identify, define and explain why each of the 12 Supply Categories I outline in my book are critical elements of a well-thought out Bug Out Bag.  I will not get into recommended gear, survival instruction or specific check-lists – I have to save something for the book!  This blog series isn’t as much about pitching my book as it is about selling the idea of building a bug out bag.  I truly believe that every person should have their own 72 hour disaster survival kit – especially in the uncertain times we live in today.  You can almost look at this post series as 12 Reasons Why People Need a Bug Out Bag.  It is my hope that this series motivates people to begin building their own kit that may very well serves as their survival life-line one day.

Supply Category # 1: Water & Hydration

Sourcing Water from Open Sources

Sourcing Water from Open Sources

One of our most critical survival needs is WATER.  The human body is comprised of approximately 65% water.  Our brains are upwards of 85% water.  From digestion to circulation – water (or the lack of) affects everything.  Naturally, when we deprive ourselves of water, bad things happen.  First, just annoying discomfort like headaches and dry mouth.  More severe symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, light headedness, poor concentration, weakness, fatigue and nausea.  Severe dehydration then starts screwing with our vision, brain function, circulation and muscles.  Your body basically starts to shut down after about 10-15% of water loss.  That’s not that much.  Water is CRITICAL.

Make-Shift Rain Catch with Trash Bag

Make-Shift Rain Catch with Trash Bag

A common survival mantra is the Rule of Threes:

In extreme conditions, you can live 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

 

Needless to say, water is at the top of your list of priorities in ANY survival situation.  When prepping a Bug Out Bag, you MUST include 72 hours worth of FRESH DRINKING WATER.  Disasters (both man-made and natural) can decimate fresh drinking water supplies.  During and following almost every disaster, local water facilities are often off grid and well pumps will stop working once the electricity goes out.  Combine this with failing sanitation facilities and you’ve got a recipe for a shortage of drinking water.  When Hurricane Katrina struck, for example, bottled water had to be shipped in by the semi-truck load and emergency crews still couldn’t keep up with the demand for fresh water.  Almost all of our natural waterways have been polluted beyond the point of no return – making them unsafe to drink without treatment and filtration…which brings me to my next point.

 

Filtration and Purification

In addition to a 3-Day supply of drinking water, you should also be prepared to gather, filter and purify more water from other sources in the event that you need to do so.  This equipment and/or treatment option should be packed in your kit and you should know how to use it without instructions.  There are countless scenarios that can require you to need more water than a 3 day supply.  Below are just a few:

  • Extreme heat or travel
  • Water is lost or stolen
  • Water gets contaminated
  • Container(s) broken
  • Traveling for longer than expected
  • Personal hygiene needs
  • Charity (giving water to someone else who needs it more)

Without question, one of the first supply categories that needs to be checked off the list when prepping a Bug Out Bag needs to be WATER and THE MEANS TO GATHER, FILTER AND PURIFY MORE OF IT if necessary.  I spend a lot of time in my book about the latter.  From the containers you choose to the water filtration and purification process you use, every decision and choice must be intentional and, ideally, many of your kit items should also be multi-functional – serving more than 1 survival purpose.

Prefiltering Water with a Bandana

Prefiltering Water with a Bandana

I know that packing 3 days worth of fresh drinking water seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people I speak to tell me that water is too heavy and they’ll just find some along the way.

If a disaster strikes my home and I have to Bug Out, I will be packing water.

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Build YOUR perfect Bug Out Bag with the help of my no nonsense book: Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag – available on AMAZON and everywhere books are sold.

creek-stewart-book-cover-low-res

 

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek