Archive for October, 2010

Immediate readiness

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

The simplest part of immediate readiness is assembling a readiness kit. The government website Ready.gov has a good list for a basic kit, and a quick Google search can reveal hundreds of variations on the theme. That said, everyone’s kit is going to contain different things based on each person’s views, approach, and the kind of changes the person might be planning for. I tend to follow the advice presented by Laughing Wolf in his “Readiness Week” posts at the blog Blackfive because he has assembled quite a bit of information and experience all in one place. Whatever list someone might use, it should contain, as a minimum, the following:

  • Three gallons of water per person involved in the plan.
  • Enough preserved food to last each person involved in the plan for three days.
  • Flashlights and batteries (a hand crank radio with a built-in flashlight is really the better way to go).
  • A portable radio with batteries (a hand crank radio with a built-in flashlight is really the better way to go).
  • Weather appropriate clothing and footwear for each person.

In addition, some other things to consider as part of immediate readiness kits that do not always come up in lists:

  • A good quality multi-tool. I prefer multi-tools from Gerber, but brand is not so much of an issue as quality, but it needs to have pliers, a knife, and a flathead screwdriver as a minimum.
  • At least 100 feet of rope. I prefer military grade 550 cord because of its versatility.
  • A length of malleable wire (such as electric fence wire or steel ground wire). Wire can be used for all sorts of purposes, and even a short coil can prove to be infinitely useful.
  • A roll of duct tape.
  • A backpack big enough to hold all of your immediate readiness supplies.

The previous two lists are far from complete, but they are a good place to start. In my opinion, the best way to start an immediate readiness kit is to buy one of the ones someone else has already put together. There are as many kits as there are places that sell that kind of thing, but my personal preference right now is the Personal 72 Hour Emergency Kit with MREs from Emergency Essentials, to which I would add a Pocket Survival Pak (or a Pocket Survival Pak Plus when they become available), an emergency blanket, an emergency sleeping bag, a multi-tool, a 100 foot coil of 550 cord, a 100 foot coil of wire, and a roll of duct tape. My kits also tend to collect a variety of other things along the way, but pay attention to how much you put in the bag because they can get really heavy really quick.

I also take my kits one step farther by trying to stock one kit for each person in my house and another in my car, that way, even when I am away from home, I know I have at least a three day kit nearby. I also always carry a small pocket knife with me and will probably add some sort of survival key chain to the mix at some point so even if I cannot get to my kits, I am not without resources.

An important part of a complete immediate readiness plan is having an evacuation plan. Some sudden changes, like a natural disaster or a political upheaval, may require people to relocate, sometimes very suddenly and very quickly. Evacuation plans should include the following considerations:

  • Make sure there is enough fuel on hand for vehicles that may be used in an evacuation.
  • Make sure that some part of the readiness supplies are easily portable in case evacuation means walking.
  • If evacuation means walking, make sure you have appropriate clothing and footwear available. This idea is especially important if you find yourself needing to evacuate from work where you might not be wearing walking appropriate clothing and shoes.
  • Make sure that portable readiness supplies include supplies to weather being outdoors, possibly for several days.
  • Establish several rally points at increasing distances from the sites of potential changes and discuss those rally points with anyone involved in your plan.

Immediate readiness can be a lot more complicated than these simple considerations depending on the specific events someone might plan for, but starting at this simple point is a good way to establish a baseline from which more complex plans can be built.

DLH

    An aside: who the hell is Dennis L Hitzeman and why is he lecturing me?

    Monday, October 11th, 2010

    At some point, someone is going to ask who the hell I am and why I think I can lecture other people on readiness.

    Frankly, I’m nobody more important than anyone else. My readiness experience is average and some of my qualifications are tenuous at best. A lot of what I am repeating here, I have learned from other far more qualified people, and to them we all owe a debt of gratitude.

    Yet, while I am not some sort of super-secret-squirrel-ninja-ranger survivalist, I am a halfway intelligent person who can read and learn and observe the world around me, and what I have read and learned and observed over the past several years leads me to believe that it is very likely that you are not ready for whatever comes next at all. In fact, I used to not be ready at all too, and frankly, I still have a very long way to go to be ready in the way I think being ready should work for everyone.

    So what makes me think I’m qualified to be saying what I am saying and doing what I am doing? Mostly, because I care enough to say something even as I do the something I say.

    Five years ago, I was part of the Ohio National Guard’s assistance task force to the state of Mississippi as part of the response to Hurricane Katrina. One of the images that sticks in my mind more than most is the clear difference between people who were as ready as they could be and the people who plainly weren’t.

    Among those memories was a sign tacked over the door of what was otherwise an innocuous ranch style house in Waveland, Mississippi. It read: “We’re fine and don’t need help. We are armed. Please help those who actually need it.”

    Later, I discovered that there were as many as 10 people in that house: its original residents and probably family, friends, or neighbors who banded together for common survival. As far as I know, those people never took more from the relief workers than some water and ice.

    That image and those people changed me, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Then, just two years ago, the freak windstorm caused by Hurricane Ike knocked power out to the area I was living for almost two weeks. While not everyone lost power, many, many people did, and I was without power for ten days.

    So, I began planning in earnest and have learned quite a lot along the way. And what I have learned is that, even if I do manage to get ready the way I think I should be, in all likelihood you won’t be, and what good will that do me? I want everyone to be ready because, if we’re all ready, then even if something bad does happen it won’t be as bad as it could have been.

    Hence this blog. I may not be an expert and I may not know everything, but I do care enough to try to get you to think about something I think is very important. If I succeed, then we will all be better for it.

    DLH

    Getting ready Part 4: What does readiness look like in the end?

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    For me, the end state of readiness is that my everyday life won’t change much if local, national, or international circumstances suddenly change. Of course, that kind of readiness is almost impossible to achieve, especially in the face of an event like a natural disaster, but I believe it is possible to come close, and that closeness is what readiness should look like in the end.

    This end state will look different for every person based on each individual’s outlook and priorities, but I think that every ready person’s end state will share several things in common.

    First, true readiness is local. Even if someone is not growing his own food, building his own house, or making his own clothes, if he is getting those things from people geographically near him, it is far more likely that those things will continue to be available if circumstances change than if those things are coming from far away. What local might mean is different for every person, but everyone must consider things like the availability of fuel and personal fitness when considering that range.

    Second, true readiness is sustainable. If someone needs something now, he will also likely need it after circumstances have changed. Of course, identifying needs is the tricky part, but once someone has identified them, then he must also identify how to keep having them. Developing sustainable systems for everything from food production to energy generation must be a central theme for true readiness or someone is not truly ready.

    Third, true readiness is flexible. An old military axiom is that no plan survives the moment of first contact, and readiness plans are no different. If someone is ready, then his plan is flexible enough to be able to adapt to a variety of contingencies.

    Now, applying these standards can mean a lot of different things to different people. How I might plan and implement readiness might not work for someone else, and someone else’s plans might not work for me. Yet, if everyone is working toward readiness, then we can establish the kinds of networks that allow our plans to be local, sustainable, and flexible.

    DLH

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