Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bug Out Bag vs Get Home Bag

            In many parts of the country, they have this thing called “seasons.” It’s an odd sort of thing where temperatures increase or decrease dramatically, crazy rainfalls occur and sometimes this cold white stuff falls from the sky. OK, I’m being a tad under-dramatic, but the fact is here in the San Joaquin Valley of CA, we just don’t get many extremes. It gets cold (low 30’s) in the middle of winter and we get some rain and on rare occasions some hail. Fog prevails in mid-winter through early spring. You just don’t see snow chains in many trunks in Bakersfield.
            That being said I was looking at the Bug Out Bag I keep in my car the other day, going through all the things I have for survival-on-the-go if I ever need it. It dawned on me what a huge waste of space this was in my little car. Sure, I have a commute of 35 miles each way to get to work. If something happened like a major earthquake or an EMP, I would likely have to walk home. Physically, I could do it. It’s a long way, but it’s flat land. I could shorten up the walk a bit by leaving the freeway and cutting through the orchards. Also, my parents’ and my brothers’ houses are only about 20 miles away and along the route I would take. So it is not a real serious problem. Why take my heavy Bug Out Bag, filled with all manner of equipment for keeping me alive for weeks, everywhere I go? Sadly, taking it out of the house means there is a greater chance of it being stolen.
            So, I plan on scaling down to a smaller bag. I keep the car goodies in the trunk including jumper cables, battery booster, tools, belts, emergency radio, solar blanket, gloves, etc. My “Get Home Bag” will be designed for getting me home or at least to safety, within a day or two. Also, bear in mind the oppressive heat in Bakersfield in the summer which reaches well over 100 degrees outside the car and way over 100 degrees inside the car. That kind of heat can play havoc on some common survival equipment.
            My plan is to put only the essentials in the bag and if I need to I can take things from the car. Clothing like gloves, rain gear, socks and a hat should always be in the trunk already along with a solar blanket and an emergency radio. I can cherry-pick from these items. So in the bag I will put a few granola bars, 4 bottles of water, a Leatherman-type tool, a lighter, a small first aid kit, a small sewing kit, some tissue paper, and a flashlight with extra batteries. I know it is small time thinking, but I really don’t need much more than that for a one-day walk. It also leaves plenty of space in the bag for cherry-picking items from the car.
            At work I have already got some supplies started in case I have to stay there for an extended period. My next big purchase will be a bicycle to store there. Maybe one of those folding jobs if I can find one cheap. I read an article on a while back where a guy keeps a folding scooter in his office. Well, a scooter might be good for urban travel, but not so much cross country.
            What about if I travel further away? In that case, it’s back to the regular Bug Out Bag. I don’t often go further than 40 miles from home, but if I do I’ll take the full gear.
How about if I go on an  even longer trip? I’ll take the Bug Out Bag, but I could also store a foot locker of essentials at a friend or relatives house that is on the way. Hmm, diversifying your Prepper supply location? Sounds like another blog to me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

“Lucifer’s Hammer”

            I have been reading through the list of fan favorite survival book on lately. I have already read many of the titles listed, but I was looking for another good book last month and came across a book called “Lucifer’s Hammer.” Written in the late 70’s, it is about a cataclysmic comet strike that destroys much of the world’s population and the resulting survival that goes along with it. I absolutely loved this book.

            The first third of the book is the lead-in where all of the characters are introduced. The second act deals with the comet strike and its immediate carnage. The last act deals with the drive to assemble and survive in the short term and long term. If ever a mini-series needed to be made, this is it.

            Why do I love it? I love seeing the reactions of people to this type of situation. Certainly it is fiction, but the authors delve into all the possible reactions by using all the characters reacting differently. There is, however, no one character that is great and bold and macho and MacGyver-ish. All the characters are flawed and highly dependent on modern convenience.

            The coolest part of this book is that it takes place in my neck of the woods. Los Angeles doesn’t last long, so all the participants move to what is left of the Bakersfield/Porterville area. The only problem is the author’s lack of confidence in the typical Bakersfield resident. Even in the 1970’s a small gang of LA thugs could never take control of the remains of the city.

I highly recommend the book both as a beginning survival manual and a fun read. 

(Yes, I find survival fiction fun to read.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Radiation Monitoring

            Ever wonder what your ambient radiation levels are? I know you have. With the nuclear trouble in Japan and unreported nuclear testing around the world, it would be nice to be able to see if there is any elevated nuclear radiation around the country. Radiation Network is a website that incorporates a network of radiation monitors from all over the country and the rest of the world in real time.

Keep in mind that elevated doesn’t necessarily mean dangerous. Also, there are many more radiation monitors around the country, especially in larger cities, so this is not a comprehensive list by any means. In fact, every so often we get radiation spikes in a big city and Homeland Security freaks out (as they well should).