What's in your pockets?

"What's in your wallet?" asks a credit card company. Far more important is the question "What's in your pockets?" because it turns out that a credit card might not be the best survival tool after all. During a crisis situation, you might not be able to use your credit card if the power is out, if the stores and restaurants are closed, or God forbid, the banks themselves go down due to a nationwide or regional emergency. Recently, a man was trapped for 41 hours in an elevator. Our best bet is to avoid an emergency situation, but life is unpredictable and crises and emergencies happen. All we can do is be prepared. That brings us to plan B: the contents of your pockets and the items you carry with you on a daily basis.

What's in your pockets?

While many people have a 72-hour kit at home, or even in the car, few people have supplies laid back at work, and even fewer carry what they need to survive a short-term crisis with them at all times. Sure, you are very limited to how much you can carry into China Mart for your next shopping excursion, but that doesn't mean you should be unprepared.

In the "urban jungle" you still need to be able to defend yourself, as two-legged predators take advantage of any opportunity they get. The more things you have (including supplies), the more they want them. A concealed handgun license or permit will enable you to carry an effective fight-stopper with you anywhere it is legal to do so. It could very well save your life! Pepper spray and a small, sturdy, sharp knife are a couple more tools that you should not be without. And how about light? That 99-cent keychain light finds your car key all right, but it won't do you much good when you really need illumination. Lights that are small, bright and durable can be had for less than $20 - get one.

Some other things to consider carrying with you: duct tape (fold a foot or two of it up into a square and stick it in your wallet - it can be used to patch a hole in a raincoat, to cover a wound, repair a strap or a shoe, etc.), a bandaid (sometimes you just need one), a few tablets of your OTC pain reliever of choice, a loud whistle (to signal for help), a couple of Imodium or Pepto Bismol tablets, any daily prescription medication you need, a list of important phone numbers, cell phone (charge it daily), some cash ($50-$100 is reasonable), a few dollars in coins, a couple "strike anywhere" matches or a lighter, a handkerchief (to cover your face if there is dust or smoke, or to put on a wound), a CPR face shield (medical emergencies have a way of happening far away from the medical kit) and a couple of antibacterial wipes. A multi-tool or small screwdrivers can be carried in a pouch on your belt, or a small multi-tool can be attached to your key ring. Add to the list anything else you personally feel you would need to survive or escape a dangerous situation.

Women seem to have the advantage as to what they can carry because it's not socially acceptable in this country for a male to carry a handbag. Men, however, can still carry what they need, even without carrying a purse. Many stores carry leather coin or key pouches, and these are perfect for a small "always with you" survival kit. There are several pouches that attach to your belt, as well: PDA and cell phone cases come immediately to mind. If you have a lot to carry, a fanny pack might also be an option, as it would allow you to add some water and perhaps a day's worth of food, a poncho, and an emergency blanket.

Preparedness isn't something you do once then forget about. It's a mindset, a way of thinking about the possibility of bad things happening and it's about your will to survive those bad things. Training is important. Read everything you can about disasters, crisis events, and survival. Get as much training as you can in disaster response, first aid, self-defense, and firearms if you intend to carry one. Get a 72-hour kit at home, in the car, at work, and have some basic tools on your person to get out of sticky situations, or at least live through them.

-C.A. Rice


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