Whether you stay at home or get as far away from your regular routine as possible, holidays are a great opportunity to forget about your troubles for a week or two. But don’t get too relaxed, you’re only on holiday from your job, not everyday life. Have you ever given much thought to what would happen if disaster struck during your vacation? Of course you haven’t; I doubt many people have.
If you’re holidaying at home when disaster strikes; no problem. You grab your Bug Out Bag (or BOB) and go. If you’re enjoying a camping trip when disaster strikes, then you’re way ahead of everyone else. You’ve already got all the gear, food, and supplies you need, and you’re miles away from any major population centre. But what do you do if disaster strikes while you’re stuck in a strange city or country?
Obviously, you can’t travel with your BOB if you’re not driving to your holiday destination. In fact, the security team at the airport may be less than impressed if you try to bring your BOB onto the plane (especially if you have included a hunting knife or other similar items in your kit).
If the resort/suburb/city your staying is ordered to evacuate due to an impending disaster, you’ll have to do so very quickly. You won't have time to pack your suitcases before you leave; remember how long it took you to pack them in the first place? And you sure as hell aren’t going to be able to lug them very far – especially if you are stuck with hundreds, or thousands, of panicky tourists. So; what is the solution?
A fold-up backpack.
“A what?” I hear you ask.
A fold-up backpack is a lightweight nylon sack with thin shoulder straps that can be rolled or folded down to the size of a pencil case. They are inexpensive, don’t take up much room, and can be used as an emergency BOB.
What goes into the bag? Essentials only. A change of underwear, a couple of pairs of socks, your medicines, hygiene supplies, sunscreen, bug repellent, your phone’s charging cable and plug, a roll of toilet paper, and as many bottles of water as you can find. Don’t forget a jumper or jacket. If it is hot, tie the arms around your waist (this will save room in your emergency BOB).
Leave your laptop, expensive camera, and souvenirs in your hotel room. This stuff will only slow you down (and you will probably abandon it anyway). You can go back and claim your gear when the danger is gone.
Don’t forget; every person in your party needs their own fold-up backpack. Due to their size they can’t hold much gear, so each person needs their own bag. The good news is the price; they only cost $5 - $10 each, and they’re available at just about every chain department store.
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It’s not that I’m technophobic, but it worries me when people leave home for the day with nothing more than a smartphone and an EFTPOS card. These are only two of your everyday carry items. In addition to these items, you should never leave home without a watch, a small amount of cash, and a pen.
Always wear a watch. “My phone just died; does anybody know the time”? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard this question over the years. Smartphones perform a lot of functions and as a result they quickly chew through their batteries. Unfortunately, many people fail to charge their phone before leaving home for the day. Although smart watches have their place, they suffer the same battery issues. A good quality analogue watch is a smart addition to your wardrobe and should last many years, if not a lifetime (unlike smartphones). Obviously, you can tell the time with your watch (and maybe the date and/or day), but did you know you can also use your analogue watch as a compass?
Always carry cash. A little while ago I enjoyed a quiet Sunday lunch in a usually busy café. This wasn’t due to lack of customers, it was due to the chalkboard sign outside the front door “EFTPOS DOWN. CASH ONLY”. While I ate I watched at least twenty people arrive at the shopfront, read the sign, then walk away. It was disturbing how few people carry cash with them anymore (not even $20). During a natural disaster (bushfire/flood/cyclone – all are common in Australia), EFTPOS infrastructure may fail so petrol stations and other retailers may implement a temporary CASH ONLY policy (especially if they are profiteering). Do you carry a small amount of cash with you when you leave the house? If not, how would you cope if you were out for the day and EFTPOS was suddenly unavailable? You don’t need to carry enough cash with you to do your weekly grocery shopping, but $20 should be enough to catch a taxi ride away from trouble.
Always carry a pen. “Hang on, I’ve just got to turn my phone on to take notes”. That’s ok if you aren’t in a hurry; but if it is an emergency, you don’t have time. If you’ve witnessed an incident that requires details to be noted, a pen in your pocket is instantly accessible. “What could be so damned important that it can’t wait for two seconds while I get my phone”? Good question. If you witness something like a hit & run, the perpetrator will be long gone before you can snap your first photo. You need to start writing details immediately, before your brain starts merging or forgetting them. No paper? No problem! The skin on your forearms and legs make great notepads.
And there you have it; three everyday items that will save you lot of grief during your day-to-day activities. If the information in tonight’s blog was helpful, please share it with your friends and family on social media.
Beyond the urban environment, there is a basic set of rules that everyone familiar with the outdoors will follow religiously; that is The Rule Of Threes. And you should follow them too.
Don’t panic! It isn’t anything as foreboding as memorising an ancient incantation to stop an undead army rising from their graves. ‘The Rule Of Threes’ is an easy way to remember the fundamentals for survival away from home.
“What are these rules?’, I hear you ask.
- Cold: If you fall into icy water, you have approximately three minutes to escape the water and warm-up before hypothermia sets in.
- Oxygen: If you are unable to breathe (ie: due to drowning or asphyxiation), you only have a three-minute window to receive help (ie: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) before permanent brain damage or death occurs.
- Blood loss: If you damage/sever a major blood vessel, you will bleed to death in three minutes if the bleeding is not stopped.
In extreme cold, you can only survive for three hours without shelter. Hypothermia and frostbite will soon make their presence felt if you do not have shelter. Do not disregard this rule if you live in a more temperate climate. Sunburn and heatstroke can do terrible things to your body in a survival situation. Depending on your environment, shelter can be anything from a solid structure (like a building) that will protect you from blizzards, right down to a simple lean-to made from palm fronds that will provide shade from the harsh midday sun.
You can survive for three days without water before your body starts to shut down. Renal failure isn’t pretty, and it can’t be fixed with anything in your First Aid kit.
You can survive for three without food before your body shuts down. If you don’t eat, your body will cannibalise itself to get the kilojoules it needs; and not just your fat reserves, it will break down your muscles too. (Coincidentally, this is why starving yourself to lose weight doesn’t work). The longer you go without food the weaker your muscles become, and the less reliable cognitive abilities become (leading to poor or dangerous decisions). This rule has more leeway than the other rules. In this situation, people carrying a few extra pounds will survive for a little longer than someone with little-to-no body fat.
There you have it. Four simple and easy to remember rules to help you survive in the outdoors. As always, if you found the information in this blog useful, please share it with your friends and family on social media.