Thursday 07/07/16

There’s no doubt about it; Old Man Winter has us in his icy grip. Along with the cold weather come the thicker clothes and sturdier shoes. I appreciate winter on the east coast because we get to enjoy a few weeks of cooler temperatures before returning to the next long, hot summer.

Another reason I enjoy winter is the opportunity to comfortably wear long pants and jackets. Recently I was in the city and had to wait for an appointment, so I passed the time by watching the people on the street. At first, the crowd was just a blur of winter fashion. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to individuals that I saw some of the impractical clothing choices they had made.

Long coats were the first thing I noticed. As much as I like long coats, they aren’t very practical, especially if they touch the ground. Not only do they drag over things you wouldn’t touch with your bare hands, they drag through puddles. Unfortunately, not all of those puddles are clean, wholesome rainwater. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

Jeans are a practical clothing choice if they fit you properly. In the space of twenty minutes I saw at least a dozen men wearing pants that looked like they belonged to a younger sibling. The legs were so tight it looked like they were wearing leggings, and they were so short the waistband sat below their bum cheeks. Even if these are the height of fashion, they will restrict your movement in an emergency situation.

Hooded jumpers. I have mentioned these before, but during my trip I saw someone step out in front of a car, so I’ll mention them again. Hooded jumpers eliminate your peripheral vision, and restrict your hearing. Hooded jumpers are great for keeping warm when you’re out camping, but they are not a good choice for walking around the city (especially if your face is buried in the screen of your smartphone).

I was glad to see that boots are very popular this year. Well I was, until I noticed the thin flexible soles that so many people have chosen to purchase. Smooth leather soles seem to be the sole of choice. Having worn business shoes I know from experience just how slippery these soles are. You’ll need sturdy, non-slip soles to keep you safe; save the smooth soles for dance floor.

I know my advice won’t help you win any fashion awards, but it will help you avoid slipping, tripping, getting run over, or dragging something gross onto your carpet. If you know someone who could use a little help choosing more appropriate attire this winter, please share this blog with them on your social media page.

Thursday 02-06-16

By now, you probably have a fairly good idea of what you intend to do when disaster strikes. Your evacuation plan should include: throwing your Bug-Out Bag, food, water, other essentials, and your family into the car and heading to your predetermined safe area. It is a little more complex than that, but this is the crux of what to do. We can’t plan for every little thing that might go wrong, but you should give some thought on what to do if your car is removed from the equation.

“Why would my car not be available?”, I hear you ask. Maybe it broke down at the worst possible time because you don’t get it serviced as often as you should. Perhaps you only have 1/10 of a tank of fuel because payday isn’t until the end of the week. Or it might have been stolen after you pulled up outside the house to pick up your family and your gear. The reason is irrelevant; the important thing is that you are suddenly without transport. Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to catch a taxi, and it is unlikely anyone else will have room in their vehicle for you, your family, and all your stuff. (On a side note, if a complete stranger in a big empty van pulls over and offers you a lift, it may be wise to decline their offer).

Not having transport doesn’t mean you just give up, go home and wait for the Zombie Apocalypse to hit. It just means you’ll be doing a lot more walking than you had intended to do. If your evacuation plan didn’t include lots of walking, your preparations may need a little tweaking, and it is better to do that now, rather than in the middle of a disaster.

Basic Fitness
Even if you are a master strategist, you have to accept there will be at least some physical labour involved. If you are out of shape, you are going to struggle to put your plans into action. You don’t need to sign up for the next pseudo-army boot camp (in fact, I’d advise steering clear of them). Instead, get your body used to walking and doing simple bodyweight exercises. Being able to hike cross-country with your backpack is far more important than being able to bench-press 400 pounds, or do 100 kipping pull-ups (in fact, avoid those too).

Is Your Bug-Out Bag Too Heavy?
You have probably put some thought into your Bug-Out Bag, and packed it in a way to make maximum use of the limited space available to you. Working under the assumption you were going to have access to a vehicle for your evacuation, the type of bag you chose was mostly irrelevant; as long as it was sturdy and weatherproof. If you have to walk to the evacuation point (or whatever safe place you have decided on), you are going to have to carry your Bug-Out Bag. If you’ve chosen a standard sports bag, now is the time to change your mind. It is far easier to carry a backpack cross-country, than lug a heavy sports bag.

The other thing to consider is the weight of the bag. Can you actually lift your Bug-Out Bag, put it on without any help, and carry it further than through the house and out to the car? There’s no point having a Bug-Out Bag if you can’t carry it. Remember: Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain; or Kilos are killers. If your bag is too heavy for you to carry for more than a few minutes you need to review how much gear you want to carry. You don’t want to resort to dumping gear as you walk, just to lighten the load. Be realistic about the amount of gear you are capable of carrying.

Learn how to find North
If you’re in a vehicle, you follow a pre-set route to arrive at your destination, making minor alterations as needed. When you are on foot, following the road isn’t always the shortest path to your destination. You might cut many miles from your journey if you cut across country. But you can only do that if you are sure you aren’t going to get lost. It is unlikely you are going to be able to see your destination from your starting point, or even during your journey, so you need to know how to find north, south, east, and west to reduce the possibility of getting lost. During an evacuation, it is very unlikely anyone will notice you are missing. Even if someone reports you as missing, and there are enough people to go looking for you, where should they start?

Knowing the compass points might sound like a very basic skill, it is one that far too many people lack. For example: if you live on the east coast, and can see the water, it shouldn’t be too difficult to point to east. At least; that’s what I thought. No, in the last four days I have had to provide five different adults with directions (which I kept simple with left/right), which they easily understood. But when I told them the building they were looking for was on the west side of the street; that was where I lost them. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was setting, but they couldn’t find west.

Solid boots designed for hiking are the only footwear you should consider wearing during an evacuation. You have no idea how far you’ll have to walk, or what sort of terrain you’ll have to cross during your journey. You change your shoes before you leave the house. Not in the car. Not when you get there. Before you leave the house. Rolling your ankle is painful and incapacitating. You don’t want to be an extra burden on your family in an already stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous situation.

Blending In
Camouflage is important if you are going to an evacuation area with a big group of people you don’t know. You’ll need to blend into the crowd. If you look like you are well prepared, or have plenty of supplies, you are going to draw attention from a lot of people in your immediate vicinity. All of them will be people who did nothing to prepare themselves in case of disaster. There will be predators hiding in the crowd who will view you as an easy victim. There will be misguided do-gooders who might decide that you are selfish and should be forced to share what you have with the rest of the group. Regardless, the less attention you draw to yourself, the less likely you are to encounter trouble. You have to remember the people you are going to encounter during a disaster aren’t all going to be filled with the altruistic vision of “We’re all in this together”. They’ll only be looking out for themselves, not you.

These tips should help you prepare for difficult times. Please share this post with your friends and family on social media.

Thursday 05/05/16

Let’s face it; most people have little-to-no interest in disaster and emergency preparations. Realistically, disaster preparations are just another form of insurance. Would you drive your car on the road if you didn’t have insurance? Of course not! Would you feel comfortable not to have home & contents insurance? Again; of course you wouldn’t. Then why would you feel at ease if you didn’t have a simple plan keep you and your loved ones safe during a disaster?

I have found the way to get someone interested in making disaster preparations is to change the threat from a bushfire/flood/cyclone/etc into a horde of zombies. People aren’t interested in planning for mundane (but life threatening) dangers. If I ask someone what they would do when facing the Zombie Apocalypse; suddenly they start getting creative.

They start listing off the food, water, and medical supplies they will pack into their vehicle. Then the other gear they will need; clothes, camping gear, fishing gear, torch, radio, etc. And the weapons! Don’t forget the weapons (which always includes a Samurai sword, for some unknown reason).

I sit there and smile, giving gentle prods in the right direction for things they may have overlooked, or encourage them to leave out things they really don’t need (and won’t use). In ten to fifteen minutes they have usually come up with a comprehensive list of equipment, food, and which route to take to escape the urban jungle and its horde of marauding ghouls.

If you take away the Samurai sword, the guns (that people seem to believe will simply materialise from thin air), and the zombies, the average person is more than capable of concocting a reasonable disaster preparedness plan. From here, it is up to you to act on these plans. Have you packed your Bug Out Bag yet? Do you have your car regularly serviced? Are you familiar with the routes into and out of your town or city? Do you have non-perishable food that is packed into boxes and ready to take at a moment’s notice?

If you are still having trouble motivating yourself to start planning for emergency situations, why not invite a few zombies to the planning stage? Zombies might just provide you with the incentive to actually get started. The sooner you start, the easier your life will be during a disaster.

Perhaps you are ready, but are having trouble motivating your loved ones. This information might be the inspiration they need to take that first step toward being prepared. Please share this post with your friends and family on social media.