Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting Home

Many of us have BoBs. If you don’t know what one is – scroll down, way down and educate yourself. Some also have what are called GMHBs (Get Me Home Bags) which are what I think of as BoB-lites. This is a kit designed with the specific purpose of assisting one getting home from one’s place of work in the event of some emergency/calamity.

We (as preparedness folk) love kits. We love making them, we love talking about them and we love show and telling them. I have gone on and on in the past about our love of “stuff”. That horse is dead.

But you need more than a GMHB when the Interesting Times arrive. In addition to stuff – you need to think. THAT is the subject of this article.

The Plans

First, you need a plan.
You need several plans, actually.
PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency)

Let's say you work in an office 20 miles from home.
Plan A (Primary)for getting home is probably to walk out to the parking lot, get in your car, and drive home.

Okay. Do you keep your keys on your person? Where is your coat? What about your GMHB? What is your route from the desk to the car? What is your alternate route? Yes, you need PACE for everything. What is the excuse you will use to suddenly depart? (It may be a false alarm and you will probably want to keep your job in that case). How will you get out of the parking lot? Is it secured? How much gas is in the tank?

What routes will you take home? You should have at least 3. You should drive these three routes regularly to maintain awareness of changes, developments and so on. What are your decision points for choosing Route A over Route C? Where will you make those decisions? Where are potential choke points? These are things to think about NOW.

Plan B (Alternate) may be to have your spouse or a friend meet you at a link up point and carpool home. What are your contact plans? What is your alternate link up point? Communication means. Security.

Plan C (Contingency) may be to take the bike home. What bike? Routes? Flat tire procedures. What will you carry with you? (Less than in the car) And so on.

Plan D (Emergency) may be to get home on foot. Your routes are probably different than the driving routes. Have you scouted them? How long will it take to walk? How do you know? Proper clothing/footwear? Hide/hole up positions. Will you be navigating cross country?

Notice that each plan is completely independent of any other plan. Notice that each is not just a different version of another plan. Notice that each is viable.

Abilities and Tools

Once you have plans (please note the multiples). You need to make sure you have the needed abilities (physical prowess for one) and tools (keys, bolt cutters, shoes, kit, raft) as well. Now you need to test your abilities and test your plan. If you plan on cutting a lock with the bolt cutters - what kind of lock is it? Buy one just like it and cut it - it may be harder than you thought. You need to drive, bike, swim, walk your routes - with the gear you plan on using and taking.

Think your 4WD vehicle will surmount any obstacle in your way? I laugh (mean of me, I know) at sheeple with shiny clean, no scratches ‘cause it never leaves pavement 4WD SUVs tricked out with all kinds of off road gear – that is never used. If you plan on going over obstacles or cross country I highly suggest you start four-wheeling. It is a fairly steep learning curve. Pun intended.

Gonna hoof it cross-country? I was watching "The Alaska Experiment" on Discovery and it took a crew of three IT professionals forever to hike a few miles cross country to their cabin. They went in a big circle at first. These are seemingly pretty good folks with excellent attitudes, good fitness, and some skills. Land navigation was not one of them. This stuff sounds easy reading about it with a frosty one in your hand. It’s different out there. But it is doable – if you take the time to learn and practice.

I know one guy who has a raft in his car and plans on “blowing it up and swimming across the Potomac River if the bridge is blocked”. Uh-huh. I used to regularly swim with a rucksack. Yes, I did. This is not something that the average couch potato or cubicle rat is going to be able to do. While it is probably not advisable to practice on the actual Potomac, one could find a calm body of water like a lake or even a neighbor’s pool and practice – in the clothing and toting the gear one planned on having. Heck, how about practicing blowing up that raft?

What about the children?

That's just you. What about those in your household? How will THEY get home? What are their plans? They need them too – in multiples. What are the link up procedures? Practice them. What do we do at the link up point if we have no communication (cell phones are terrible in large emergencies) and one person doesn't show up? How long do we wait? Then what? Who's in charge?

What about if, on your way home, the situation at home becomes untenable and the person in charge at home decides to leave? How is that communicated to all interested parties? See, Plan A was to go home. And we have several sub-plans for how we are going to do that. We also need additional plans for where we are going.


That’s a lot of “what ifs”. How do we keep track of them all? Heck, how do we make sure they are all viable? It does not good to have an alternate plan if that “plan” is unworkable from the get-go.

First you have to spend some quiet time thinking. Just sit back and think. No distractions. We don’t do enough of this. Start jotting things down. Make some notes, make some lists. Look at some maps. Walk around some buildings, some parking lots and so on. Revise your lists.

Start outlining your plan. Put it on paper – this will help you to start cementing it together and follow logic trails. Just remember PACE and alternates for everything.

Start asking yourself “what if?” questions. When you are driving Route C home from work on Wednesday and get to the rail road crossing, ask yourself, “what would I do if the crossing was blocked by a dead train?” Actually think through your answer. If it works, add it to the plan.

Once you have a working plan start exercising it. Practice it. Give it a few test runs. You will discover things you never thought of. That’s great! Better now than during some crisis. Adjust your plan accordingly.

Can you see that just having a magic bag full of goodies (useful as they are – and I have such bags myself) may not be enough?

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. - Mark 13:14 - 16

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Friday, May 16, 2008

Welcome Elvis and Skunk

Last weekend our small goat herd increased by two - Elvis and Skunk. Well, that's what I call them - my wife and kids call them something else. It matters little - they won't be around for long (read on). Both are Alpine/Alpines from our new buck and two of our does. We are now on our third generation of goats so I think we have most of it figured out.

We got goats a while ago to help out on our quest for self sufficiency. Goats can provide milk and meat. From the milk, my wife makes cheese. They are very easy to care for and really, pretty pleasant to have around.

Originally, my wife planned on milking both moms and bottle feeding the goatlings - you get more milk this way and the goatlings grow up a bit tamer. But after a few days those early morning feedings got old and so both goatlings now think our eldest doe is their mother and nurse off of her. The younger mamma goat will have nothing to do with the little kids. My wife milks both mammas twice a day - the older one isn't giving much now as the kids are pretty much drinking her dry.

Both Elvis and Skunk are males. With males you either leave them intact so they grow up to be billy goats or you castrate them to make them wethers (goat steers). We did it ourselves this year and it was very easy. My wife (who really does most of the work vis a vie the herd) held the little goatling in her lap and spread his hind legs and I applied a special rubber band around the base of the little guy's scrotum with a device that spreads the band open so you can slide it in place. Oh, they didn't like that and both walked away a bit stiff legged. But after a couple minutes they were acting fine.

Our billy came to us young and small and in just half a year he has put on significant size and gotten pretty ornery. He also urinates all over his face and beard - real fun when it comes to leashing him out to feed in the woods. He is currently for sale.

Next year we are going to breed the alpine females to a Boer male so we have milk/meat crosses. Elvis and Skunk won't really put on enough weight to make it worthwhile (in my opinion) to kill them for meat so we have already sold them to a family who wants them for pets/companion animals and brush eaters. As soon as they are weaned we will deliver them to their new home.

Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth: Genesis 27:9

This whole chapter (Genesis 27)is pretty good - I recommend it to you. There is more there than meets the eye at first.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Got Light?

Yeah, yeah – it’s been a month since the last blog entry. Sorry. Reason – I’ve been really busy. We launched the new forums and are still tweaking them a bit; I was teaching a military combatives course every morning at 0530 which meant I had to get up early for the commute, which meant I went to bed early every night; I worked with another outfit and put on a SERE II course; I’ve been working with the bees (and have not been stung again, thank you very much); we were getting the garden in, putting up more fencing, and dealing with new goat kids. So, yeah, I’ve been a bit busy to get on the computer and blog. But now I’m back. I resolve to try and do better.

Read any disaster preparedness supply list you want – somewhere therein you will find “flashlight”. Take the time to inspect any pre-made (in China, natch) Prep Pak and amongst it’s cheaply made contents you will also find a flashlight.

Let me tell you brothers and sisters, “there are flashlights, and then there are flashlights”. I recently posted on the forums about hammers. There are a bazillion types of hammers and they are all designed for fairly unique purposes. Same thing with flashlights. While a particular light may fulfill one role just fine, it may be largely unsuited for another.

Take the first one on the left up there. It is a rechargeable job that puts out 1,000,000 candlepower of light. It’s bright. It’s also heavy, large, and relatively fragile. It works well for spotting coyotes out near the chicken pen, lighting up large areas of the grounds around the house and signaling UFOs. It’s probably not the light you want in your BoB. It is rechargeable – which means you need a means to do so if you want to use it again when the batteries run down.

While that light is good for spotting hungry coyotes, it’s not great for shooting them – unless one person holds the light and another holds the firearm. No, for shooting it’s best to have a light mounted on the weapon. The two pictured are old. The current unpleasantness has seen an explosion of weapon-mounted lights. There are many good ones out there. The folks providing them for sale are mighty proud of most of them. I will tell you this – you need to realize how much light is enough. Consider the distance you will be firing with said light.

Some people have lights mounted to their handguns. I am not one of them. I like little handheld lights with the switch on the end – like SureFires, although I also have a small Streamlight that cost half as much and works just as well. These lights are small – small enough to operate simultaneously with one’s pistol. And that switch on the back makes them very useful for pistolcraft. Some readers may remember the days when we shot handguns with full sized Maglites and Streamlights like the two pictured. It can be done. I’m glad we no longer have to. These lights are also very bright. Remember that phrase about the candle burning twice as bright but only half as long? Yeah, it’s like that. The batteries in these puppies burn out quickly – like 30 minutes of use quickly. Again, not a great light for the BoB.

Better choices for BoBs are small mini-Maglites and the wide variety of led lights out there. I especially like headlamps for hands free use. There are some very bright lights that run a long time on one set of batteries. See that little black light just to the left of the GI angle head flashlight? That is an led light, very bright, has been running a long time on the batteries provided with it and I paid all of $5 for it at an auto parts store. It works great, it’s cheap and after using it for about a month – I bought everyone in the family one. You don’t have to spend $100 to get a decent light.

Everyone should have a small personal led light on their key chain. Most people have their keys most of the time. Therefore, they should also have a light for when darkness unexpectedly falls. I like Photons but again – there are lights just as good for significantly less.

I put the GI angle head flashlight in there because I hate them so much. They are large, they are heavy, they are not bright and the switch becomes inop fairly quickly. As soon as the mini-Maglite came out with different color lens filters, the old angle head became obsolete. Don’t buy one. The mini one down there is my daughters – I don’t know why she has it or where she got it. It seems to run okay but Lord knows I’ve bought her a whole bunch of better ones.

Like the PAL light knock off just below the rifle’s forward handgrip. This is a very bright led light, waterproof, and has a few different light modes – bright, very bright, off, and “ready”. In the ready mode it barely glows – but bright enough to find in the dark. In this mode it supposedly will work for a bazillion hours. We have been testing them since Christmas and they are still working on the original battery.

How many lights should one have? A lot. You should have one in every vehicle – I like full sized Maglites for that. They are bright, the batteries last a good amount of time, they are tough, and they make a decent improvised weapon. I keep reflective tape wrapped around mine to increase my visibility when operating roadside. You should have one on your key chain. Everyone should have their own light next to their bed. You should have a light by every door. Keep one in the garage. Keep one in the basement. Keep one at work. Keep one in your coat pocket. Keep one in your purse (or murse).

Flashlights make great presents because no one can really ever have enough. I like giving away Maglights. Everyone likes them. When I see them on sale, I buy a few and keep them in my “gift bin” so that I have a gift if I need one at the last minute.

It is good to test your batteries. If it’s a light that you don’t use a lot, make sure to test it every time we switch the clocks back (twice a year). If it’s not too much of a pain, keep extra batteries with the light. If not with it – at least have them available.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America