The Survival Vest

As another option for carrying needed gear during a bug out, consider putting together a survival vest.

Start by purchasing a vest. They are commonly sold as “photographer vests” or “fishing vests.” They are lightweight and have tons of different pockets in various sizes and configurations. Getting one with a mesh back is ideal as that will keep you cooler in the summer months.

I purchased mine off of Ebay a few years ago. I think I paid about $12.00 including shipping. So yes, you can find them fairly cheap if you hunt around a bit.

You can fit a surprising amount of stuff in these vests and still not feel weighed down. In mine, I have a small first aid kit, knife, fire starting kit, a few granola bars, water purification tabs, paracord, aluminum foil, a couple different self-defense items, duct tape, compass, pencil and small notepad, and a few other odds and ends.

Most of the time, I keep the vest right alongside the bug out bag in my car. Takes just a second to put the vest on and it easily fits underneath even my thickest coat. If for some reason I had to ditch my main bug out bag, I’d still have enough supplies in a pinch to get me where I’m going.

Garden planning

My wife is buried about hip deep in seed catalogs lately. Laying out plans, mapping out new garden beds, deciding what she wants to grow where. When it comes to gardening, I’m the manual labor. I dig where she points.

Now is the time to get into the nitty gritty of garden planning. Ideally, you should be able to start some seedlings in the next few weeks. Years ago, I built a HUGE plant stand for my wife. About seven feet long and six feet high. Four shelves, each lit by two shop lights. The shelves are deep enough to accommodate the plastic trays you often get when you by plants by the flat. It is large and cumbersome, but it does the job very well. We put the lights on timers and drape the entire thing in plastic to keep heat in. By the time the ground is thawed and warm enough to plant, the seedlings are ready to go.

Having a garden allows you to provide your own food a lot cheaper than you will find it in the produce section of the grocery store. It is healthier as you know exactly what was put on those plants while they were growing–no nasty and gross pesticides. Maintaining the garden provides for some degree of exercise and gets you outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

Now is the time, folks. Get your garden planned and your seeds ordered before it gets too late to plant ’em.

The Importance of Training

Any time you get a group of people together working toward a common goal, you are going to have some degree of conflict. We humans just can’t seem to get along for long periods of time without at least a little bit of friction.

During an emergency situation, emotions run high, stress levels go through the roof, and as a result there may well be more conflict than usual. It gets even worse if there is no clear leader in the group. With no one to tell the group what to do, there is confusion adding to the stress. Time after time, history has shown us that during disasters, people often “shut down” mentally and resort to either rote training or being led by someone who can take charge of the situation.

Rick Rescorla knew this. He was the Director of Security of Morgan Stanley on September 11, 2001. His insistence on frequent evacuation training prior to the terrorist attacks directly resulted in his saving all but 6 of the 2,700 Morgan Stanley employees. His leadership provided for a safe and orderly evacuation. People knew what to do as they had practiced it time and again. Sadly, Rick lost his life when the tower collapsed with him inside. He had made it out, then returned to the tower to look for others who needed help.

I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing ahead of time what you are supposed to do during an emergency. Train regularly in evacuation procedures. Know where supplies are kept and inspect them frequently. Delegate responsibilities to those you can trust to carry them out when needed. Don’t be the guy standing there during a crisis with a dumbfounded look on his face, wondering what you should do.

It is disaster time, do you know where your supplies are?

How long would it take for you to find a working flashlight in your home right now? How about spare batteries for it?

Your emergency supplies do you little good if you can’t find them. Stumbling around in the dark during a power outage really isn’t the best time to try and find the flashlight you just know you put in the kitchen junk drawer last year.

As you acquire supplies, or find the stuff you’ve already purchased over the years, put it all in a central location. Maybe the back of your coat closet or under the laundry room sink. Use a plastic tote or some other type of carrier to keep it all organized.

I’m not talking about your pantry items, nor your bug out bags. I’m referring to those items you’ll probably need quickly during a local disaster, such as flashlights, first aid kit, work gloves, eye protection, and dust masks.

Keep it all in one place. Keep it organized. Check your supplies periodically to ensure the flashlights work, water isn’t leaking, and your teenager hasn’t pilfered batteries for his mp3 player.