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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stuff, stuff and more stuff, stuffed everywhere...

By now you are all accustomed to hearing about being prepared and having stuff available that can be used when it's needed or when times get tough. Just what exactly are tough times? What stuff will you need or perhaps find useful as opposed to not having any stuff at all?

Over the next few days, I'll expand on the idea of having stuff, where it should be kept, how and when it can be used and a good way of organizing all this stuff. As you read through these posts, please keep in mind that these are minimum recommendations only. Your situation may dictate that you have some stuff that I don't specifically mention. Your daily grind many prove that some of this stuff can be of great value to you. You may never use any of this stuff, or you may find that having it available affords you the opportunity to use it often.

I will break this set of posts into the following categories:

a) Stuff you carry with you everywhere, everyday
b) Stuff you have in your "get home kit"
c) Stuff that should be in your "bug out bag"
d) Stuff that you have in your vehicle
e) Stuff you need to store at home

Some of this stuff flows logically from one category to the next. If you have something already, because you faithfully carry it every day, you don't necessarily need to put another in your get home kit, but having more than one of any truly important item (I will specifically point these items out) is not a bad idea. Things break, get lost or otherwise sprout legs around kids, so being prepared also includes ensuring that if a single item is lost or broken, the whole ship doesn't sink.

Preppers generally prepare for those disruptive events that can logically be perceived as being possible maybe even probable, but the timing or certainty of occurrence for these events is undetermined. As an example' it's kind of like locking your keys in the car. Sooner or later it's going to happen. In response to and in preparation for this event, some hide a spare key stuck somewhere under the car. Some have a spare key at home and some even go so far as to carry two sets of keys. Generally speaking, preparing for life's larger disruptions is no different.

Today, let's start with Every Day Carry Items (EDC):

I envy some women. Not the women who I see walking around town with a suitcase thrown over their shoulders, but the women who have a functional purse with them. Purses are great except when some man wants to find anything contained there in :-) Fashion dictates that men shy away from purses. A briefcase is a different creature than a purse and while both can hold items, the purse is a much better carrying container for life essentials. A briefcase is often not readily in hand like a purse and a briefcase often contains work and work by products, none of which I am keen to save when disaster strikes.

The idea behind every day carry items, is just that - items that you have with you, on your person all the time when you are not physically located on your home property. This is a very short list and all items need to be small enough to fit in your pockets without pulling your pants down.

1) A knife. A small folding or fixed blade knife in case you need to cut the seat belt in your car or a piece of string/rope if your shoe lace breaks. **This is a must have item**

2) A small clip-on l.e.d. flashlight **This is a must have item**

3) A cell phone.

4) A way to start a fire - a lighter, waterproof matches or a fire steel etc.

5) Some cash, a $20 bill and two quarters tucked into the sole of your shoe or someplace else that a mugger wont get it and someplace where you wont inadvertently spend it. You have it primarily just in case. **This is a must have item**

6) A small canister of pepper spray in case a dog charges at you (wink, wink say no more eh?).

7) Pencil and paper. **This is a must have item**

8) A Whistle **This is a must have item**

That's about it. My everyday carry flashlight is a Surefire E1L. It is bigger and more powerful than a small clip on flashlight but both will light your way out of a dark building, a subway station or can signal rescuers from within a burning building. Both can help you find the keyhole when it seems to be moving around in the dark.

My knife is also a little bigger than a small Swiss Army key chain knife because I can get away with carrying it in a sheath on my belt without causing too much consternation. Professional women will turn heads in the office with they show up with a Rambo knife dangling from their pendant. All you are looking for here is a quality blade that can cut through most material without too much effort. A Swiss Army pocket knife with some scissors, a file, a tooth pick is ideal. Don't spend a lot of money (or spend as much as you want) on these items, they are primarily items intended to give you quick solutions to most everyday situations that you could find yourself in. A Snagged seat belt is a good example. If you can't unbuckle your seat belt you can't get out of the car. You can try chewing through the seat belt material, but trust me, it wont work, a knife does.

A cell phone. "Yes dear, I'll bring home some milk", "Don't worry dear, I'm running late, should be home in an hour" or "I'm on the highway and the car died, please send a tow truck" are all situations where a means of reaching out and touching someone can be important. There are many other situations where a cell phone will prove handy to have.

Cash is cash. If you ever need it, you have it, if you don't need it, you have it.

Fire. I love fire. When I can't think of anything else to do, I usually burn something. Fire gives me a clarity of thought, light and keeps me warm. I'm not suggesting that you start another fire in your office building when there is a bigger inferno burning 3 floors below you, but in some situations, usually at night, being able to start a fire might prove useful or at the very least it can be comforting.

I prefer pencils rather than pens. You can buy "space pens" that write upside down, work when wet and don't freeze but you can probably buy a 1000 pencils for the cost of one super pen. If the pencil breaks, your trusty pocket knife can make it write again. You need some paper so your pencil has something to do.

Pepper spray. Good for deterring the unwanted advances of dogs that are no longer on their own property. While the use of these sprays against people is frowned upon, I cannot see any charges being laid, if it was used to thwart an attack or a mugging. You primarily carry it for dogs, you explain to the officer, but in this situation that might have resulted in injury to you, it was available so you used it.

A whistle is a good attention grabber. If you need to become the centre of attention, start tooting on your whistle.

These are the basic items that you should have. I don't care if you carry $50 instead of $20. It doesn't matter if your flashlight will illuminate the room or 300 yards to the other side of the park, at times you need light and sometimes you need extra money. I don't care if you carry a multi-tool instead of a Swiss Army knife nor does it really matter what type of cellphone you have. You just need something that fulfils the purpose of each of these tools. If there is something else you would like have available should you need it, by all means add it to the list. Just keep in mind, all of this stuff should be in your pockets or on your person ready to use at any time day or night.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about a "Get Home Kit".

[What have you done today to prepare?]


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