20Sep/12

The 72 hour kit…

Ah, the illusive 72 hour kit. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance that you’ve seen recommendations to keep 72 hours worth of provisions on hand in case of emergency. But why 72 hours? It is suggested that the time frame for extended family, police, and emergency responders to reach people in a disaster is approximately 3 days, or 72 hours.

Picture for a moment that you’re sitting at home on a Friday evening watching some TV or reading a book. You’re planning on going to the grocery store the next day as part of your regular shopping routine. It’s raining heavily and it suddenly goes quiet. The lights flicker and then are gone. Seconds later you hear a rash of loud crashes, and within minutes it’s over.

You’re town has just been hit with an unexpected tornado, and the devastation spans miles. In the aftermath you realize you were lucky and your home was spared. This has come at a cost. There is no power, no phone, and no running water. Then it hits you, help is probably not just around the corner. Aren’t you glad that you have your 72 hour kit at the ready? Without it, you’d be out of necessities like food and water. You’re shopping trip was canceled after all, the grocery store won’t be opened for some time.

As you can see, when disaster strikes it just might pay off to have some minor preparations. This is where the 72 hour kit comes in. We look at this as the ideal starting place when it comes to preparedness supplies. It’s not overwhelming, overly cost prohibitive, and it doesn’t take up that much room. Most of the items can simply be picked up at the grocery store, or ordered online. There are even completed kits (a service we offer) that you can buy.

So what’s in it? The options are endless, but we have some pretty standard items we think should be in every 72 hour kit. What we’ll describe is for 1 person, so you’ll need to keep this in mind when you’re thinking for a family, and don’t forget your pets. Let’s take a look.

-Food, glorious food. Without it we don’t get the nutrients and sustenance we need to survive. The average adult male should consume 2,000 calories a day in an emergency situation. With that in mind, we’re going to want to look at food to make up meals and snacks for the 3 days we’re preparing for. While it might be nice to pack away some fruit and fresh veggies, it’s just not feasible. Things that are ideal are shelf stable products that are relatively low in salt, and don’t require cooking.

Some people recommend using meals ready to eat, or MRE. Those are fine. They have a high calorie count, are light, and have a long shelf life. The problem we see is that sometimes the taste of a MRE leaves something to be desired. We prefer using things like canned fruit, soups, canned vegetables, peanut butter, jam, low-salt crackers, cookies, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, and canned meats. This allows you to use some things you are likely to use on a daily basis giving you the ability to rotate them out periodically. Another benefit is that you can create some pretty tasty meals that you can’t get in a MRE. With that said, a MRE will certainly be lighter, and will typically be more compact. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration in the event that you need to leave wherever you are.

-Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Just like food, a person can’t survive very long without water. A widely accepted idea is that you can go about 3 days without water, and the unpleasant effects can be noticed much sooner. Of course there are exceptions, but we aren’t looking to just survive. So we need to ensure we have the water we need, and the ability to clean addition water should it become available. We can’t assume that there will be running water, or if there is that it will be potable.

At a minimum we believe that you should have 1 gallon of water, and if possible upwards of three, with the ability to purify more. Two good options for purification are water filters and water purification tablets. If you’re going with a filter, don’t skimp, it could mean the different between life and death. One thing to consider when thinking about water is that it’s not just for drinking. It can be used for cooking, cleaning, and hygiene, so the ability to increase what you have is ideal.

Some other things to consider when talking food and water are luxuries and special needs. Some luxury items you can add are juice, canned milk, coffee, candy, beef jerky, etc. These should be in addition to the staples, not to replace them. Also pay special attention to dietary needs. For example, food allergies or special diet needs for infants or seniors.

Now that we have food and water out of the way, we can talk about the other things that you should have on hand that can help you through the duration of the event.

-PEDPAK – This was covered in this article, and is another essential thing to have on hand.

-First Aid Kit – This is a no brainer. If it’s possible that you may be waiting for help to arrive, it’s also possible that you may be injured. Having a quality first aid kit is essential. We’ll elaborate on the contents in a later article, so stay tuned. One thing to point out is that you don’t need a major medical kit. If you don’t know how to use the equipment, but you try anyway, you may do more harm than good. Simple repairs until help arrives are often the best.

-Light – No power typically means no light. Having a good flashlight and batteries can bring comfort in the dark, and may be the difference between finding something you need and going without. Keep in mind, these should be used sparingly, batteries won’t last indefinitely. With this in mind, having a candle and matches is also a great idea.

-Radio – Having a good portable radio, hand crank or battery powered, can provide you with essential information and yet another level of comfort. Many models will come with weather bands as well, giving you even more insight into what you need to be prepared to face as you get through the days.

-Hygiene kit – Being able to brush your teeth, or clean your ears is a comfort that can be taken for granted. We recommend keeping a standard hygiene kit with simple toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, ear swabs, toilet paper, soap, and any specialized items you may require like contact solution.

 

-Extra Clothes – Depending on when the emergency happens, and whether or not you have to leave home in a hurry, you may not be in the ideal clothing to endure the event. Having a change of clothes, some sturdy shoes, a jacket, and a warm hat can mean the difference between a warm and comfortable hike and a frigged and uncomfortable walk. Don’t forget the underware and socks. These things need to be changed more often than the outerwear.

-Personal  necessities – Whether it be a diaper for an infant, or an inhaler for an asthmatic, there are personal considerations that need to be taken into account. Consider whether or not you wear glasses. Would an extra pair be of benefit? As the name suggest, this is personal so you will need to determine what, if anything you need to add.

-Odds and ends – Some other things that should be included are:

  • good knife
  • extra house and car keys
  • sewing kit
  • map
  • batteries
  • whistle
  • dust mask
  • Pen and Paper
  • Tape
  • Rope

-Comfort items – These are things like books and cards. Things that aren’t necessary, but would make getting through the day a bit easier. Again, this is something personal, so you will need to determine what to add.

 

This all has to go into something, and for that something we suggest some type of quality backpack or hiking pack. You can certainly use a bucket, box, or some other case, but a backpack makes it much easier to grab and go if you need to leave the house. There should be one for each member of the family, and they should be kept in a place where they can be gotten to easily if in a hurry.

We must all try to keep in mind who we are packing for, and we must not forget our beloved pets. Family members and pets who can’t do the job themselves must be considered as well, and thoughtfully taken care of.

One last thing before we close. Take some time to go through your kits routinely, and keep them updated. Rotate out old food and water, update clothes to the appropriate sizes, check batteries, and the devices they run. Preparing isn’t a one time thing.

19Sep/12

To be prepared is to be informed…

Touching on the point of knowledge, information is vital to being prepared. What kind of information do we need, though? How do we know what we need to focus on? Is there anything that we simply don’t need to worry about?

To start, there are many items that can easily be seen as universal, a foundation that you can build on. You learn them once and you benefit from the knowledge using them as building blocks in multiple scenarios. The act of planning is just as much of a skill as first aid, and it can be honed over time. It’s universal when considering any event, whether personal or more wide spread. Another example is first aid. You may be reacting to an accident at your child’s soccer game, or the after affects of a tornado, the skills learned will be invaluable.

Once you’ve got some of the basics down, you need to start getting more specialized. This is where knowing your history is hugely beneficial. Do you live in tornado ally? Maybe you’re on the coast and prone to seeing hurricanes. Are you in a large metropolitan area that may be more susceptible to a terrorist attack? Perhaps you’re close to a large nuclear power plant, and you need to be prepared should there be some type of catastrophic accident. No matter where you are, there’s something that you should prioritize above the rest.

Lastly, we don’t think that there’s anything that we shouldn’t worry about. As with anything in life the possibilities are endless. We’ve already talked about prioritization, but that doesn’t mean we should just stop when we’ve prepared for the likely scenarios. Imagine for a second that you are living in the middle of the country, say in Nebraska, and spent your time preparing for flooding. What if you’re on vacation skiing in the Swiss alps? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have some knowledge about avalanches?

Of course, you can certainly go further and prepare for some even more sensational things. The zombie apocalypse, the 2012 Mayan prophecy, super volcanoes, coronal mass ejections, etc. The list goes on and on. I use the zombie apocalypse as my muse when trying to bolster my preps. It just adds a level of whimsical fun to it.

So, now we’ve got an idea as to what likely event may happen, and we need to start figuring out how to be prepared for the event. Fortunately for us in the U.S. our government has some pretty decent information available to beginners. http://www.ready.gov and http://www.fema.gov are both great resources and will get you started on your journey.

Your local news website typically has archived articles that you can use to see what disasters have happened. As they say, history repeats itself. Take some time to peruse the site and look for patterns in the weather. Historical disasters. Traffic reports. They will all give you insight into what may happen again. The traffic reports can be used to plan your evacuation routes. More importantly give you the information you might need to get home to your supplies without being stuck in traffic for hours which is especially important if you need to evacuate for an indeterminate period of time.

Another hugely valuable resource is your local library. Not only are the books and archived newspapers there, but most provide access to the internet as well. You can see old news shows and even check out some self sufficiency related magazines. One often overlooked resource is the librarian. I have found that they typically know quite a bit about the area they live in, and are willing to talk about it.

The last resource I’m going to talk about is what you’re looking at now. A public venue to share information on the internet. Whether it be a web log (blog) like this, or an internet forum, people love to share the information they have. This allows you to profit on their hard work and research. You can learn from others mistakes as well. Along with the good comes the bad. There’s a lot of opinion, conjecture, and purely false information out there that you will need to weed out. It’s just good form to use the information as a primer for your own research, and not to rely too heavily on anything that doesn’t have substantial and solid backing.

So, get out there. Decide what you want to be prepared for, and start researching. Get the information so you know what to do should something happen. Have fun, and revel in your new found piece of mind.

“All men by nature desire knowledge.”
~Aristotle

 

18Sep/12

What if you can’t stay close to home? Evacuation plans…

Imagine for a second, it’s three in the morning and your fire alarm is going off. You quickly realize that it is not something you can control. You’re prepared, you grab your PEDPAK and emergency kit, and you get your family out of the house. Once outside, you call 911 and the fire department shows up to take care of the rest.

Now what?

Well, lets assume that your emergency kit contained some cash, and you have your wallet and a credit card, you can go to a hotel. You have your emergency contact list, so you can call your family and friends and let them know you’re safe, and possibly find a longer term place to stay. You’ve got your insurance so you can rest assured that over time everything will work out, and this little bit of discomfort will soon be behind you.

What happens when the disaster is not as personal or local? Most of us can remember more widespread disasters such as hurricane Katrina or the World Trade Center catastrophe.  These are events so widespread that the ability to stay locally is removed from your list of options. In these instances you may have to go quite a distance to find a hotel or shelter, and the entire way you’ll be competing with others affected by the disaster. This is where conscious decisions and planning will be of an utmost benefit.

In this type of scenario that your previous planning and preparations would benefit from additional augmentation in the form of evacuation plans. Things like rally points should you be separated from your loved ones at the onset of an event, different locations where you could stay for the duration of the event, and different routes you can take.

Let’s look at separation at the onset of an event. It’s not unrealistic to believe that you might not be with those you plan on taking with you. You may have kids or a spouse in school, at work, at a friends, or elsewhere. It’s also quite possible that they may not be able to make it home to meet up with you. This is why you need to plan out a couple of rally points where you can meet up at and continue on with them together. Having more than one is very important. Remember, you need to have a rally point because your home, which could be considered rally point 1, may be inaccessible to all parties. The odds are that one or more additional point could also be inaccessible.

When considering rally points we would suggest using landmarks that everyone is familiar with. Things like large gas stations, shopping centers, and rest areas on the highway may be viable options. Beyond location, things like order of use and time to wait should be brought into account. It seems pretty obvious to us to use the home as the primary rally point, and then extend out from there with a series of additional places along the way.

You also need to limit the amount of time you wait at a single point before moving on, and you need to stick with this time unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person you are waiting on is en route. The reason for this is two fold. First, you don’t want to get stuck where you are. If you’re trying to leave, then there’s a reason for it. Second, and probably more importantly, the person you are waiting for may not be able to make it there. What we would suggest is extending the waiting time the further away from the event that you get. This gives time for others to make it to the previous point, in case they get there after you, and then get to where you are. If you do it in exponential increments, they are going to catch up if they can. An example of this would be staying at rally point A for 15 minutes, rally point B for 30 minutes, rally point C for an hour, and so on. Of course, if you’re together at the start or you meet up with them at one of the rally points you can skip the rest.

The next thing we have to consider is where we are going to go. Some of the simple options here are extended family, a second home, a hotel, or a shelter. Having more than one option is idea, as the ability to get there can be affected as easy as the ability to reach a rally point. Deciding where to go in advance if possible is crucial if you’re not planning on sharing a FEMA shelter. You don’t want to just show up on your family’s doorstep without some prior understanding in place. That would just be rude.

Now that we have a place to go, and places to meet up with our family/friends along the way, we need a way to get there. This is where route planning comes in, and it’s probably the most vital part of the whole plan. If you look at a roadway as an artery like that within our own bodies, having a single path that gets blocked can be fatal. Roadways are no different. Most of us have seen disaster movies where the road out of a city is packed, inpassable, with empty cars, victims of a chain reaction started by a breakdown or accident or both. Having an alternative for this will allow you to quickly reroute if necessary. It’s best to have these routes go through both major and back roads. Sometimes you can get around a blockage on a major highway by simply taking an exit onto a back road, going a few miles, and getting back on the highway.

So, to recap, it’s a great idea to come up with a few places that you would go in the event of an emergency that will displace you for a period of time. You should plan multiple routes to those locations, and multiple rally points along those routes.

Now, there is the possibility that someone traveling with you, using the same plan, will not be able to make it to the same destination as you. This makes it important to have an order of priority for each of the final destinations as well as good contact numbers for each. This way you can check in to see if another party made it to a subsequent destination or report that you were unable to reach a primary destination, and keep everyone from being more worried than they already are.

Once you have a plan together, it’s crucial to go over it with anyone you plan on evacuating with so that they understand the ins and outs of the plan, the rally points, and the destinations. It’s also very important to revisit the plan from time to time to keep it updated with any information that may have changed over time. A great place to keep this is in your PEDPAK, and it’s not a bad idea to keep a copy of it somewhere in your car, in case you may not be able to make it home to get your PEDPAK.

“The most prepared are the most dedicated.”
Berry, Raymond

17Sep/12

Cost vs. Value…

When some people shop for gear they look for the cheapest thing they can find that looks like it will meet there needs. Others will search out the most expensive item, under the illusion that cost is directly related to the quality of the item. Neither of these approaches are, in our opinion, appropriate, nor are they sure to yield you gear that will endure the test of time.

Let’s take a look at the idea of buying the cheapest item you can find. It seems as though the perception is that if the purchase is not going to be used very often, the level of quality isn’t all that important. When this may be true at the onset, everything tends to deteriorate.

For example, let’s assume that a cheap low quality backpack was purchased to be used to house your personal emergency documentation package, so that you can quickly grab it and go when the need arises. You pull your information together, put it in the pack, and throw it in a closet. This is where the deterioration starts. Even without regular use, it’s going to get bumped and knocked around, and covered with dust. Now lets couple with that the need to keep your PEDPAK updated, and you’ll be pulling it out routinely. As mundane as this may sound, it can and will have a negative impact on cheaper packs. The seams will begin to tear, the zippers will snag, the liner will deteriorate, and over time it will become unserviceable.

In the same scenario, a higher quality pack may be a little more expensive, but it will hold up better over time. It’s the “over time” thing that often becomes the sticking point. The idea tends to be that if you spend less you’re better off if you have to replace the item. The inherent flaw is that when these things break, it’s typically at in inopportune time when you’re not going to be able to replace it with something as cheap, or even with something more expensive of higher quality.

So, does this mean that you need to buy the most expensive item available? The answer is an unequivocal no. Many people tend to equate cost with quality, and that’s just not the case. There are many superior quality items out there that aren’t the most expensive when compared to other products that serve the same purpose. This happens for a multitude of reasons such as manufacturing and material cost differences, location, and perceived value. The foremost issue with perceived value is that some companies out there tend to think that because they label their product as being “luxury” it is immediately worth more. Again, this is simply not the case.

So, as you can see, cost doesn’t equate to value. We’ve outlined two pitfalls that people fall under, but this doesn’t mean that all cheap (i.e. inexpensive) items are of low quality, and that all expensive items are over priced. This is why we have to look at the quality of each item we’re considering as well. It’s our opinion that a combination of cost and quality equal true value, and true value is what needs to be used when shopping.

Only you can truly assess value when looking for gear, but its made infinitely easier by using the internet. We urge you to search out reviews, different manufactures, and sales when you’re preparing to make a purchase. Go so far as to contact the sellers or manufacturers and ask any questions you may have. If they are unwilling to speak with you, or don’t have an answer and won’t get you one, you may want to find another place to shop, or product to buy. It’s your hard earned money, spend it well.

“The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.”
~H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

14Sep/12

Point 1 – Knowledge…

One of the three points we at Tri-Point Outfitters believe is essential in being prepared is knowledge.

Starting at birth our minds begin learning, filling our brains with useful, and sometimes not so useful information. At first it’s due to instinct, and then as we grow we add desire and necessity to the list or reasons why we search out specific information.

It is with this knowledge that we are able to do things from the mundane, such as eating, to the more difficult like computer programming, and everything in between. This same knowledge is necessary to prepare for every day life as well as emergencies that may present themselves.

You can give a person all the best gear in the world, but without the knowledge on how to use it, it’s just a waste. Even worse, it could be dangerous. Encountering things for the first time without any knowledge of what they are can be just a futile. Can you imagine walking up to a door and not knowing how to turn the knob? You could be trapped for eternity. What about going camping, pulling out a brand new tent just before it starts raining, and realizing you don’t know how to put it up? Of course these examples are far fetched, and they can likely be overcome by trial and error, but I think you can see what I’m getting at.

This is why we view Knowledge as the key point, without which nothing else matters. With the advent of the internet, it has never been easier to obtain knowledge about practically anything for free.

One major misconception is that the only way to obtain knowledge is through formal education. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Friends, acquaintances, the internet, schools, trial and error, instinct, etc. are all viable sources of knowledge. I think that the key to becoming knowledgeable is determination. Without it most quickly give up and walk away. With it people can do almost anything. Let’s face it, determination to obtain knowledge put us in a car, provided us with the ability to make electricity, cured polio, and put us on the moon. The same resolute determination can help us be prepared for day to day life as well as any emergencies that should arise.

We urge each and every one of you to seek out knowledge. Whether it be related to the things we talk about here at Tri-Point Outfitters or not, fill your mind. Revel in it. Be determined. Build a wealth of knowledge, then share the wealth with others. Most of all, enjoy it.

“Knowledge is power.” 
~Sir Francis Bacon

 

13Sep/12

Personal Emergency Documentation Package

 

Who are you? Is that really yours? How do we know?

The average person has a paper trail that follows them through life. It gives you a virtual identity, tie your assets back to you, reflects specific health needs, and more. This is something that most people take for granted, something that they just have available when they need it. If they readily can’t find it they can usually get a replacement or copy without too much fuss.

Let’s imagine for a minute that you have to react to an emergency. Maybe you have to leave your home in a hurry, maybe you’re on vacation, or maybe you can’t make it home for some reason. How can you ensure that you have some of the essential documentation you need to handle the issues that may arise?

It’s pretty simple, really. You just need to keep copies of select documents together so that they are easy to grab and carry with you if necessary. This is what we like to call a Personal Emergency Documentation Package, or PEDPAK for short.

Some people will keep paper documents in a folder or binder, while others prefer a digital format. I tend to err on the side of caution, and have mine in both formats. An encrypted thumb drive for every day grab and go, and paper copies should I need to grab them when I don’t think I’ll have access to a computer.

Considering that these PEDPAKs can be thrown together for little or no money, and how vital they may prove to be, this is an easy way to get started in your way to being prepared if you haven’t already started.

At this point, you might be asking yourself – what should I have in my PEDPAK? Well, we can’t tell you specifically. What we can do is give you some basic suggestions, and you can tweak it to meet your needs.

One thing we need to do before we give you the list is point out some security considerations regarding the information you keep. Let’s face it, there are nefarious individuals out there who do less than honorable things, and if they get a hold of your personal information they’re likely to do bad things with it. It’s this reason that I carry my data on an encrypted thumb drive. The encryption is a second level of defense with physical control being the first. Only you can determine what you’re comfortable with in regard to security. The same goes with the actual information. While we have some suggestions below, they may or may not be right for you.

Suggestions:

  1. Drivers License
  2. Emergency phone numbers and addresses
  3. Passport
  4. Concealed Carry Permit
  5. Social Security Card
  6. Insurance information
    1. Homeowners
    2. Auto
    3. Health
  7. Copy of a voided check
  8. Copy of Deed to home
  9. Copy of Will

In addition to the PEDPAK, it’s also a good idea to carry on your person a basic emergency sheet. I carry, in my wallet, a card that has my emergency contact information along with my blood type. If I had any medical conditions or allergies that I needed an emergency worker or doctor to be aware of, I’d have them on there as well. This, to me, is not sensitive information so I don’t have any fear of it falling into the wrong hands. Again this is a determination that only you can make.

“For all your days be prepared, and meet them ever alike. When you are the anvil, bear – when you are the hammer, strike.”
~Edwin Markham

12Sep/12

A different view on preparedness…

“Preparedness
: the quality or state of being prepared”

That’s the definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Simple and to the point, right? Why is it, then, that the act of preparing seems so difficult? More so why is it that the idea behind preparedness seems so alien?

I believe that the answer to those questions is as simple and to the point as the definition itself. I think that we tend to sensationalize the event that we’re preparing for. With the media and doomsday movies continuously talking about and portraying wide scale disasters and global catastrophes it’s no wonder that these events are normally the first things we think about when we hear the word preparedness. The problem with this is that it often seems overwhelming and even futile to try and prepare for such events, and with that many people believe that any effort toward preparing is simply wasted.

What if I were to tell you that the average emergency is much more localized and distinctly personal? Would that change your outlook?

The idea that we only need to prepare for large disasters is ludicrous, especially when you broaden your view. As I see it, the average person is more likely going to experience a personal event, the impact of which could be lessened by simply having some simple preparations in place.

One example of a personal event is a kitchen fire, which I think certainly counts as an emergency. Let’s assume for a second that you’re prepared for a minor fire and have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You could quickly avoid a much larger scale disaster, such as a whole house fire, by simply using that to extinguish that fire. Of course, there may be some additional clean up required afterwards, and additional preparations could be useful as well. What if the fire destroyed the cabinets or appliances? Having savings in place, another simple preparation, can ease the burden of having to eat elsewhere while waiting on your insurance company to come through with the repairs.

Now let’s look at a different, yet every bit as personal, event, job loss. Lets face it, with the economy bouncing around like a super ball, companies often have to reduce their workforce to stay afloat. I’d hazard a guess that being let go from a company is typically going to be somewhat unexpected. So, if this were to happen wouldn’t a 1 week supply of additional food ease the financial burden while searching for a new job? What about a month’s worth? How about having an extra bar of soap or another tube of toothpaste? All of these are relatively simple and innocuous things to put aside, yet they can have a huge impact when needed.

So, as you can see, you can quickly get beyond that overwhelming feeling if you simply scale back outlook. It’s in this light that you can start to see your own needs as being more manageable. Then once you’ve got a start, it’s easy to allow them to build and expand on their own. Keep it simple, and remember, every little bit can help in a pinch.

When emergencies strike…strike back!