Roadside Emergency Kit Review by Survival Hax

I was recently sent this Roadside Emergency Kit by Survival Hax for review. It’s all nicely contained within this handy bag:

Most items are further protected inside plastic bags which is nice and all items are easily returned to the bag after removal.

Now, the first thing I went looking for, believe it or not, was an owner’s manual (yes, I’m getting old enough to WANT one even though I don’t need it, lol) but couldn’t find anything. Oh well, no big deal.

Here’s a photo of the kit contents:

And, the contents of the first aid kit bag:

They say it’s a 96-piece roadside kit which I’ll assume is correct, but a bit misleading simply because a majority of the kit contents are small items like bandages, zip ties, and safety pins.

That said, here’s my take on what’s included, starting from the top left and working more or less down and to the right:

  • Triangle signal – Although I didn’t put it together, the item above the zip ties folds together to make a reflective triangle which can then be placed on the ground behind your car. While I would have preferred flares of some sort, this signal seems relatively sturdy and would, at least, get a passing driver’s attention when lights hit it.
  • Jumper cables – These are about as basic as you can get since they’re not heavy-duty cables. Expect charging to take longer than it should but they will eventually get the job done, I’d assume so, anyway.
  • First aid kit – You can see for yourself what’s included, but it’s mostly small bandages, gauze, cleaning pads and so on. There’s also a small mylar blanket included and few other small items which may come in handy, such as tweezers and scissors.
  • Gloves – These won’t keep your hands dry for long but they will, at the very least, keep them from getting dirty and maybe provide a bit of warmth… plus they have a gripping side which is nice.
  • Assorted smaller items – You’ll also find a variety of smaller items, such as zip ties, a candle, slip wrench, small whistle, and electrical tape. I’m not sure how useful any of this would truly be. The whistle is a good addition but not very loud, in my opinion. The candle, on the other hand, is just a fire hazard.
  • Glow sticks and flashlight – Two small glow sticks are included (I didn’t try them) as well as one of those rechargeable hand-squeezed flashlights. They’re not great for long-term use but good enough for this purpose.
  • Small utility knife – Includes various knives (which could use a sharpening to be sure), saw blades, corkscrew, etc. None of it is anything to get excited about and I honestly would have preferred a better quality single-blade knife.
  • Safety escape hammer / seat belt cutter – This tool might actually be of use but won’t do you much good unless you move it to near the driver’s seat. I would have liked to see it have a strap of some sort so that it could be attached to your seat belt to keep it from flying about the car… guess you’ll have to hope that it stays wherever you stick it.
  • Firestarter – At first glace this looks decent, though, I haven’t tried it. Honestly, I would have preferred matches or a lighter to start a fire.
  • Tow straps – I have no idea what they’re rated. Regardless, I sure wouldn’t bet my life on them and I’m not sure I would bet my car on them either. Of course, I could be wrong.
  • Emergency poncho, safety vest – The poncho is rather thin material but it should keep the rain off. The safety vest is a good addition.
  • Bungee cords – A few lightweight bungee cords are included which could prove useful somehow, I know I keep bungee cords in my cars.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t pretend to suggest that this emergency roadside kit is the best that you can get. Most of the items included are basic / starter equipment. With that in mind, if you have nothing in your vehicle for a roadside kit then this one could work as a starter kit.

With that in mind, and while you’re welcome to purchase it from SurvivalHax.com, they’re offering readers a full $25 off their purchase from Amazon with the code “OFROAD50”. Enter that where it says “enter a discount or promo code” during checkout.

FREE: The Complete Pet Safety Action Plan Book, 5 Days Only

If you’ll recall, about two weeks ago I mentioned that I was looking for Kindle book review team members because I’m now writing Amazon Kindle books.

That process has been going great and I must say “thank you” again to those who have taken the time to help out.

As a result, my first book, The Complete Pet Safety Action Plan, is available on Amazon… best of all it’s currently free for download on Kindle for a limited time. 🙂

Pet Safety Plan BookHere’s what you’ll discover inside…

  1. The Two Most Important Actions You Must Take Now Before Disaster Strikes
  2. How To Ensure You Get A “Pet-Friendly” Welcome On The Road
  3. How To Keep Your Pet Safe When You’re Away From Home
  4. What If You Can’t Take Your Pet With You?
  5. Getting Your Pet Ready At Home
  6. Getting Your Pet Ready To Evacuate
  7. What If You Must Evacuate On Foot?
  8. Keeping Yourself And Your Pet From Getting Sick During Disaster
  9. Know Your Rights: The PETS Act
  10. Advanced Disaster Considerations
  11. How To Get Supplies For Free (Or Really Cheap)
  12. General Safety Considerations

Go ahead and grab yourself a copy now while it’s still free on the Kindle platform (offer ends this coming Thursday).

The only thing I ask for in return is that you leave an honest rating on Amazon when you’re done.

Thanks!

Prepping Your Wardrobe for Survival

Let’s play a game! When I say “prepping,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? What about “survival?”

My guess is that most of you immediately thought of food, water, or other survival gear. And those are great answers.  We can’t live long without food and water. But if you had an abundant storehouse of those supplies yet didn’t have other important items, your life could still be uncomfortable or, worse… in jeopardy.

There are lots of important considerations that need serious attention, but in this article, we’ll be focusing on just one: CLOTHING.

During normal, peaceful times, we use clothing primarily as a covering, a social cue, and a statement. During times of emergency when new clothing isn’t readily available, it’s often a lifesaver.

We can die much faster from exposure to the elements than we can die of starvation or even dehydration. Exposure in certain environments can certainly accelerate dehydration, but because there are threats that come from exposure during different seasons, it’s critically important that we have adequate clothing.

Where Do Clothes Come From?

When young children are asked where eggs or milk come from, they often respond, “The store.” That response would be funny if it weren’t so sad. They aren’t kidding; we’re disconnected from the source of our food. It’s just far more convenient and productive to buy our food than it is to grow it, so people move into the cities and buy what they need.

Similarly, if you asked kids — or even adults! — where clothes come from, we’re likely to respond, “The store.” That’s true for us today, but it wasn’t as true for our grandparents, great grandparents, and earlier generations. They would often buy fabric and then sew clothing as needs arose. In that era, learning to sew was a right of passage. That skill has largely been lost to recent generations.

So what would we do if clothing wasn’t available to buy for a while? Would you panic as your children’s clothes wore out and started to hang like rags from their bodies? Imagine your anxiety as snow sets in to see that your child had outgrown his shoes. What would you do if you couldn’t purchase a larger pair?

It’s hard to imagine not being able to purchase clothing off the rack since it’s so easy to do today. There are stores within minutes of most of our homes that stock all sorts of sizes, colors, and styles. Today’s ease of access to ready-made clothing could quickly change for a number of reasons, including:

  1. A pandemic could force people to stay home from work and avoid public places.
  2. Hyperinflation could also impact availability. As the value of currency plummets, people race to spend their money on necessities and tangible goods before the value of their money falls further. All sorts of goods become hard to find.
  3. An EMP could stop normal methods of production and distribution.
  4. Job loss or other financial strain could make buying clothing for your family difficult for a time.

If you have a supply of clothing on hand for future needs, however, it will ease the worry of clothing, which could really help. These scenarios don’t seem real or possible to many because we’ve had it so good for so long. The fact that most people haven’t seen times where clothing isn’t readily available doesn’t mean that it can’t happen!

Prior to the Great Depression things seemed pretty good. Prior to the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic things were probably going fine. History repeats itself, and those who stick their fingers in their ears, pretending that it can’t happen here, will be least prepared when it someday does.

Shopping in Advance of the Need

Buy and store extra clothing. Try to select quality clothing that will be as durable and functional as possible. The good news is that you can save considerable money when you buy clothing in advance of your need.

Think about it, if you wear through a pair of shoes you’ll need to go get a new pair right now, because you don’t want to go to work tomorrow with your foot hanging out the side of your shoe. 😉

Because you need the shoes now, you head to the mall, visit one or two stores, and purchase the best available combination of product and price. Right now might not be the best time to purchase a pair of shoes at a really good price. The same shoes might cost half as much in a month or two when that store has a big clearance sale. When you buy in advance of your need, you can search out and find quality products at rock-bottom prices, then buy them to set aside UNTIL you need them.

It’s a known fact that you WILL need to buy shoes again at some point, as well as pants, and shirts, and socks, etc. These things wear out over time, so buying them in advance is extremely practical. Buying clothing this way for adults is fairly easy. They typically won’t be growing taller. Hopefully, they won’t be growing much in the other direction either! Kids are a little trickier. Their growth can be pretty explosive at times. When you’re buying season-specific clothing, you have to make an educated guess on the size they’ll need when that season rolls around.

Where to Find Quality Clothing at the Best Prices

You can certainly go to the retail store of your choice and buy several sizes ahead, but a better choice may be to find more highly discounted options. Because you’re buying in ADVANCE of your need, you can take your time, finding high quality items that have minimal cost. We like to frequent yard sales, thrift shops, craigslist (or similar sites), and the really good sales at factory outlet stores. We also buy ahead for the next year when seasonal clothes go on clearance at department stores.

Black Friday is coming up. It’s THE day where Americans often go wild, buying loads of plastic things and shiny objects to give as Christmas gifts. Sometimes people buy things simply because they’re on sale. Rather than limiting your Black Friday shopping to toys and gadgets, look for really attractive clothing offerings that have a special markdown that weekend. You may find deals a specific stores, or you may have your best luck online with sites like fatwallet.com or slickdeals.net. We’ve purchased some items off eBay and Amazon too.

Stop by your local Goodwill or other thrift stores in your community to get familiar with their offerings and pricing. You could also try some of the consignment stores in your area like Plato’s Closet, Kid-to-Kid, or Once Upon a Child for lightly used name-brand clothing at deeply discounted pricing.

Yard sales have been a really great source during the summer months when they are abundant. You can frequent the neighborhoods that tend to have really nice stuff. Oftentimes, they just want to clear their extra stuff out, so you can get items at $1 or less for each piece. That’s not always the case, and there are instances where you’d be thrilled to pay more for certain items, but savings can be significant. When you show up toward the end of a yard sale, the savings get even better. People may say that you can fill a bag for $5, for example, or they may beg you to just take whatever you want (free), so they don’t have to haul it back inside.

Even if the clothing is free, you’ll want to select quality pieces that will serve you well and you’ll actually want to wear. We don’t want to cross a line into senseless hoarding, of course. Buy heavy coats, sweaters, warm socks, and boots during the hot months of the year when they aren’t needed. Many department stores will sell their seasonal inventory at up to 75% off normal prices as seasons change.

If you’re buying in advance, you can find brand-name clothes that you’re excited to wear for FAR less than you would normally spend if you were shopping in-season as needs arise. Organize and set aside items that need to be grown into or that need to wait for another season. Occasionally you may guess wrong about sizing or some other detail and won’t be able to use the clothes, but when you find a great deal, you can afford a few mistakes!

It’s also a good idea to hang onto clothing that is still in good shape and can be passed down to your younger children. To make finding the clothes easier when they are needed in the future, group the clothing by size and season if possible. If you can find really good clothing at great prices, then it shouldn’t take long to accumulate clothing several sizes ahead. This isn’t JUST emergency clothing, it’s clothing that will be worn when it fits and as it’s needed. Because you accumulate when you find the right item at the right price, you will rarely find yourself having to pay retail prices for clothing. You’ll end up saving significant money on clothing your family.

It’s Not Just About Ready-Made Clothing

In addition to storing clothes, you can also store buttons, zippers, snaps, bolts of fabric, and thread. The fabric can be used for anything you don’t have on hand that you later find you need. Denim is extremely durable, so it would be a fantastic fabric to keep on hand. Polar fleece is warm, comfortable, and dries quickly. There are many other fabrics used for different purposes. The more simple and plain the pattern, the easier it will be to use the fabric for a wide variety of purposes.

What if you can’t sew? Should you still store fabric? Yes! First of all, the fabric is an insurance policy of sorts. Hopefully your accumulation of pre-made clothing that we just discussed will get you through a crisis just fine until clothing becomes more available. If not, bolts of fabric provide some flexibility. You can certainly take lessons and practice to acquire sewing skill. It’s a valuable thing to know. You could probably learn a great deal, at least as a starting point, on YouTube. Learning to patch and repair shoes and clothing is another useful skill to pick up. If you know a few skills and have the equipment available, you can patch holes, modify hems, and address other needs to prolong the life of your shoes and clothes.

Here are a few extra items that you may want to have on hand for repairs:

  • Shoe Goo or Freesole (strong adhesives specifically used for shoe repair)
  • Replacement shoe laces
  • Leather conditioner
  • Patch fabric (which could be taken from the good parts of worn out clothing)
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Velcro

Even if you don’t WANT to learn how to sew, other people DO have that talent and could sew clothes for you in exchange for some fabric, food, or other need. If nothing else, the fabric could be an excellent barter item if ready-made clothing is too expensive or unavailable for a time.

Learning to knit or crochet is another useful still to pick up. Again, you’re likely to be able to learn those stills, at least at a basic level, through YouTube. If you have yarn on hand and know how to use it, you could make a beanie, a sweater, socks, or a blanket, for example.

Getting Started

This is a big project and these are important prepping supplies, but don’t get overwhelmed. It’s an elephant that you’ll just need to eat a bite at a time, so to speak. To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Take inventory of what your family members already have and what they currently need in terms of shoes, winter boots, clothing, coats, gloves, etc.
  2. Make a list of the sizes that everyone is your home is currently wearing.
  3. Determine the amount of money you can afford to set aside for clothing accumulation each month.
  4. Decide on a strategy for accumulation. Are you going to hit yard sales or a second hand shop, for example?
  5. Keep track of the clothing you acquire. Keeping a master list on paper or digitally will help you to know where you stand at any given moment. It will help you avoid situations where you have 24 shirts but no pants for a particular child.
  6. If you have rewards credit cards with stores like Kohls or Cabelas, consider using accumulated points to purchase quality snow boots or other clothing items with.
  7. Organize and store your collection in a place and grouping that makes them easy to access as needed.

Prepping isn’t easy, but you’re going to feel great after collecting the clothing that your family needs, knowing that you have a clothing buffer. You’ll be fine, even if ready-made clothing is hard to come by for a year or two. In the meantime, you’ll be saving a sizable sum and still wearing really high-quality, name-brand clothing, if so desired. Once you catch the spirit, it’s actually fun and your whole family can get involved in the process of watching for good deals!

Author Bio

Dave Greene is the father of six children, and a long-time Prepper. The desire to protect and provide for his kids provides him with major fuel for this passion. He founded Tools of Survival in 2012, to help families become better prepared. In the years since, Dave has taught classes on survival equipment, mindset, and techniques in a variety of venues.

15 Things You Don’t Actually Need To Survive Disasters

Last week I’d heard about a story of three family members who died during Hurricane Irma because they ran a generator inside their home. Although I couldn’t find more details, I did find this article about the incident.

Sadly, such a tragedy was entirely preventable by understanding what carbon monoxide (CO) is, how it can kill you, and perhaps most importantly: what items produce CO.

Here’s some good articles about carbon monoxide and safety:

And here’s a good article about running generators safely: How To Safely Operate A Backup Generator.

Anyway, what that tragedy really got me to thinking about was those things (or actions) you don’t actually need to have (or do) to survive in a disaster, such as with the recent hurricanes.

Now, I’m assuming that this family was running a generator to power an air conditioner because it was relatively warm weather at the time, but that’s pure speculation on my part. If they were running a generator for any other reason then it’s even worse because there are honestly very few reasons why you’d need electricity after a disaster.

Now I can hear you saying, “But, wait! I need to keep my refrigerator and freezer food from spoiling!”

No you don’t.

You SHOULD be able to do so… but you don’t HAVE to, especially if it means doing something ignorant like running a generator inside your home.

Regardless, you don’t need to have or do many things, such as:

  1. You don’t need power to keep the lights on if you have other light sources such as candles (not my first choice) or battery-powered lanterns (a better option). Heck, you could just sit in the dark but that sucks.
  2. You don’t need power to run a stove or oven or even a microwave if you have alternative cook sources like a BBQ grill or even makeshift stoves. (Note: BBQ grills can also produce carbon monoxide if charcoal-based and even propane grills can put off CO as well).
  3. Heck, you don’t even NEED to heat most foods so long as it’s been precooked, such as with canned foods. That said, some foods just need to be boiled to make them edible like rice, beans, pasta etc.
  4. You probably don’t need hot water either for any reason (except as noted in #3); this makes for cold showers and cold teas but it still works.
  5. Like I said above, food can be allowed to go bad and so the refrigerator doesn’t need to be kept cool. That said, I understand there are some cases where you’d hate to lose many hundreds of dollars worth of food and so you should be able to keep them running but it doesn’t have to be a generator that does it (hint: your car works pretty well for this purpose) and, besides, coolers and ice work well enough for a few to several days.
  6. You probably won’t need to do laundry in most cases since most of us have plenty of clothes in the closet which can be dusted off.
  7. You don’t need to bathe for weeks or longer in most cases (but I’m sure it would be appreciated by most people around you, lol). Even a simple washcloth rinse off is better than nothing.
  8. You sure don’t need WiFi or the internet or television… except then you couldn’t read this. 🙁
  9. I’d suggest that you don’t need your cell phone but it is our primary means of communication these days and so you really should try to keep it powered… and, of course, learn to text during and after disasters since they’re FAR more likely to get through jammed cell towers.
  10. You probably don’t need to go anywhere in your car if you’re hunkering down but I sure would prefer you had the option and so storing some extra gasoline with fuel stabilizer is a good idea.
  11. You don’t need almost ANY beverage (such as soda or beer) besides water to survive; sorry, you’ll live without either.
  12. You don’t need water to flush toilets or for most common household activities; keep water for the most necessary activities such as drinking, cooking, and minimal personal hygiene including brushing your teeth and the washcloth bath… and for pets too.
  13. In many cases you don’t need to air condition your home. Granted, there are some locations and times of the year where you’ll be miserable but so long as you can stay hydrated, in the shade, with a breeze,an so on then you’ll live. Of course, there are some folks who simply cannot tolerate the heat such as the elderly and so must be planned for.
  14. In some cases you don’t have to heat your home either. Yes, there are locations and times of the year where you’ll literally freeze to death if you don’t (and you know who you are) but most of us will survive by putting on more clothes and huddling under lots of blankets.
  15. You won’t need to do any dishes for weeks if you bother to stockpile some disposable supplies. Even if you want to use your dishes then items like cups, for instance, could be labeled with names and reused for quite a long time. I’d assume you could get creative too with your other dishes.

I’m sure I could go on listing items and actions you could likely do without in a relatively short term survival situation, but I’m sure you get the idea.

That said, there are some items/actions that you really shouldn’t go without. For example, any life-necessary medications or other medical equipment that literally keeps you alive come to mind. As such, it behooves you to have plenty of these medications on hand as well as the ability to power medical equipment for several days or longer if the power goes out.

Similarly, it would be silly to not be able to care for your basic needs, such as being able to heat your home if you live somewhere that you could truly freeze to death (as mentioned previously) and, of course, at least some minimal amounts of food and water. I still can’t believe people run out at the last minute to grab bottled water before a hurricane… ugh.

I’d encourage you to prepare yourself properly so that you don’t HAVE to go without… it’s not hard to do and I can show you how to get it done in only 5 minutes a day but you have to take action to make it happen.

Seriously, Why Are We Still Having Runs On Water Prior To Hurricanes?

Hurricane Irma Water Shortage, Image Credit

Recently, due to the onslaught of Hurricane Irma I read an article titled Is Hurricane Irma causing too much panic over water, and other preparedness supplies?

Of course, it’s not just water that people rush out to buy at the last minute, people buy batteries, gasoline, and apparently pop tarts to name a few items that “fly” off the shelves whenever news of an impending disaster looms large. And it’s not like this is new behavior, people have done this since forever and apparently will continue to do so because we just won’t learn from the past.

Anyway, I thought to myself: why on earth are we still having runs on water prior to hurricanes or major storms? Can people NOT make even the slightest effort to prepare in advance and have at least a little bit put away for needs like this? Can people NOT see what happened to folks in Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy?

I mean, how damn hard is it to keep a few cases of bottled water shoved in the back of a closet or under a bed or wherever works? Sure, the water won’t stay perfect forever in disposable plastic bottles, but it will certainly last for years and you’d surely be happy to have it when the water stops flowing or you can’t buy any at the store because they’re out.

The same can be said for other items like batteries and flashlights as both of them will stay good for many years without worry… heck, lithium batteries will last for a decade or longer with minimal loss of capacity.

Gasoline may be a slightly different story but even untreated gasoline doesn’t go bad in a week or even a month. In all honesty it will probably still be good in storage for up to a year without much concern and if you add preservatives such as PRI-G (which you should be) then the gasoline will surely be viable for at least a year or longer. How hard is it to do THAT? I can assure you it’s not very hard as I’ve done it for many years now myself.

None of these actions take but a few minutes of planning and forethought and maybe a few minutes to actually accomplish.

Regardless of how easy any of this stuff is, there’s now worry about people buying up more cases of bottled water than they actually need thereby not leaving enough water for everyone else who didn’t bother to prepare beforehand. Worse, there’s concern that these very people are either (1) going to sell this very water at an exorbitant markup or (2) hoard it. Gasp! None of this is newfound suggestion or behavior either.

I say hoard it… hoard it all if you were at least smart enough to beat everyone else to the punch, if you will. This isn’t socialist China after all… well, maybe… never mind.

Really, if you’re still living life by failing to have even the minimal of necessary supplies to keep yourself alive then shame on you. Don’t blame the folks who beat you to it. And don’t blame the government for not forcing them to do what you failed to do, though, I am a bit surprised officials haven’t at least set limits on what you can purchase.

If, however, you were smart enough to prepare ahead and, better yet, get out of harm’s way then kudos to you, count yourself as one of the 1%… the 1% smart enough to prepare before disaster strikes.

How to Survive After Trauma – 11 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner

How to Survive After Trauma, Image Credit

[Editor’s note: I figured this was an appropriate topic to discuss riht now considering the recent disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey. Remember that no matter how strong or prepared you feel you are, anyone could find themselves or a loved one struggling with the emotional aftereffects of a trauma, particularly a disaster.]

Would I call it haunting? Yes.

For a long time the image of the gun in front of my father’s face was etched in my mind. It’s not what you expect when you open the door for a loved one.

Intruders gained access to the premises and our safety was compromised.

The time during the ordeal is blank in my mind.

Somehow the authorities were called. Somehow my father got away. A few exceptional law men caught the perpetrators and got back our car.

No one was hurt. But how do you cope after a gun was held to your head? How do you explain the feeling of seeing a loved one in mortal danger?

How do you cope with the aftermath of a traumatic experience?

What if an attack, accident or other traumatic event leaves you with too many questions? The result could prevent you from functioning normally. If this continues you may even face medical challenges. When psychological challenges start intervening with normal functioning you run the risk of developing a psychological disorder which isn’t ideal during disasters or, worse, SHTF.

But you can stop it. Here are a few tips I know can empower you.

I Haven’t Experienced Trauma – Why is This Important?

Safety tips help to keep you as safe as possible, but nothing is guaranteed. If you really want to be prepared you must consider any eventuality. This includes possible trauma after disaster.

Surviving the aftermath (and associated trauma) is as important as getting through the disaster itself so that you can return to a normal way of life again.

  1. Accept Your Reaction as Normal

One emotion at a time is hard enough to handle for some. Now imagine experiencing many emotions all at once.

This is what happens after traumatic events. You can feel:

  • Rage at the perpetrators
  • Fear that the criminals will return
  • Hurt that someone took advantage of you
  • Embarrassment because you weren’t prepared
  • Grieving for lost items after a robbery or disaster

Some of these will happen in phases but they have the tendency to overlap and can overwhelm you easily.

This is normal.

When we believe we’re acting out of character we may fight these emotions, but they’re all necessary. You have to feel and work through them. Don’t deny yourself experiencing all of these emotions.

2. Talk About It

So how do you start dealing with the emotions? Talking is your best weapon.

You have to be desensitized from the experience. You can do this by talking:

  • Hear what happened from your own point of view
  • Hear what others experienced if they were involved
  • Hear about others’ challenges

These situations are traumatic because they (luckily) don’t happen often. When you talk about it the event becomes more general. The trauma is alleviated.

3. Know You’re Unique

Your general feelings will align with many other people’s experiences, but you’re still unique:

  • You may be upset about something no one else finds significant.
  • You may remember details no one else noticed.
  • You may take longer than others to work through the trauma.

If you don’t accept your unique reactions you’ll prevent a full recovery. You can’t rush through your recovery process if you need in depth help on a certain aspect. Your recovery process must be customized to help you with your unique challenges.

4. Forgive Yourself

My father felt guilty for months. He felt he put us in danger. He was even mad at our reactions. But some of our reactions were based on our concern for him.

What else were we supposed to do? We all did our best in the circumstances.

A lot of our anger is wrapped up in what we think of our own actions. If we stay mad at ourselves we won’t move past other psychological challenges.

5. Become Prepared

After the ordeal my father’s new found peace came from renewed vigilance.

Never again did he want to feel like “I should have done more.” This change in attitude led to changes in many aspects of our lives.

Part of being prepared includes:

  • Show you’re ready to defend yourself and your family. Criminals back off when they’re not sure of being in control.
  • Waste their time. Burglars don’t want to stay on the scene too long because the risk of getting caught increases.
  • Showcase your vigilance. If criminals expect a strong defense they will look for another target.
  • Be confident. I’m not saying be aggressive. This can lead to unnecessary conflict. But criminals want victims to submit. If they see they can’t manipulate someone they may leave sooner.

Weapons

None of us used weapons before the break in. This all changed after our traumatic event.

Today we’re kitted out. And, yes, there are legal ways of protecting yourself.

You can easily arm yourself to help be and feel prepared:

  • Keep pepper spray on your key chain. Attackers may see it and will probably go elsewhere and, at the very least, you have it readily available to use.
  • Pepper spray in your car is great too. If you know you have something to ward off someone then you won’t feel at the mercy of an attacker.
  • Place necessary items all over your home or office, such as:
    • Flashlights
    • Pepper spray (or other self defense items)
    • A baseball bat

All of this communicates to intruders you’re prepared but also helps you be better prepared too.

[Editor’s note: pepper spray and other self defense options are useful to consider–I know I have them too–but they’re no substitute for firearms when it truly comes to defending your life.]

Premises

Make sure your home is as safe as possible.

Assumptions are your enemy. Criminals can pick nearly any lock and will find a way into private areas quicky. Make it difficult for them to do so with security doors and grilles as they do wonders.

Remember: If it’s going to take too long to get past a security barrier a burglar may very well move on.

[Editor’s note: surveillance is a great deterrent too… if criminals know they’re being watched and recorded they may choose to move on as well.]

Actions

Change how you act. For example, you can be more:

  • Assertive
  • Conscious of your surroundings
  • Organized and prepared

If you’re in a rush or distracted you’ll neglect valuable safety measures, even simple ones like remembering to lock your doors each time you leave.

How did these Preparations Help us Survive After Trauma?

Part of the trauma was the feeling of being powerless. To recover we had to feel in control again. Each action helped us counter fear and uncertainty.

6. Deal With Your Dreams

Your dreams will tell you what’s bothering you:

What do you dream about?

Who are you mad at in your dreams?

Who is with you in your dreams?

Your dreams can serve as a source for answers. But bad dreams can’t keep haunting you forever. This can result in physical and psychological problems.

Learn

Learn about your concerns by writing down your dreams. You’ll identify problem areas such as:

  • Rage towards yourself
  • Rage towards others
  • Situations you fear

If you know what’s bothering you then you can find answers faster.

Any stress in your life can make these problems feel worse. You have to manage your life as well as the residue of the trauma.

How do you do this?

Stop Dreaming

You don’t want bad dreams to plague you forever. When you’re in need of some good sleep try these tips:

  1. Write down the main events of your day before you get into bed. If you know what causes general stress your subconscious doesn’t have to tell you about it in your sleep.
  2. Write down main responsibilities for the next day before you sleep. Once again this reduces general stress.

[Editor’s note: I’m not quite sure how these tips directly relate to getting over trauma but there may be something to be said for using these techniques to help alleviate general stress during a disaster.]

Lie down with your eyes closed. Don’t sleep. Let your thoughts go and see what surfaces. Write down what bothers you about your day or any traumatic event. Write down what you want to do about each problem. By bringing these problems to light then your dreams become less powerful.

7. Find an Outlet

Stress and fear are closely connected with energy in your body.

Stress and fear cause adrenaline to be secreted which puts your body on alert so it can handle pressure such as to fight or run away.

After a traumatic event (such as a natural disaster) your body can be in a perpetual state of readiness. This isn’t healthy.

When your body is overwhelmed with these feelings and hormones you may feel:

  • Pain in your head or shoulders
  • Overwhelmed by small everyday tasks
  • Emotional for no reason

Help your body expel the energy and tension. For instance, a new hobby may be in order. You can:

  • Do a sport such as running or cycling
  • Go to the gym more
  • Dance
  • Do breathing exercises

Your instinct will be to rest as you may feel fatigued as a result of trauma. You need a balance between exercise and rest to fully recover.

8. Ask the Professionals

Will your pride keep you from recovery?

Many people see it as a sign of weakness to visit a professional for help but that’s not true at all. In fact, you can ask many types of professionals for help, including:

  • Yoga instructors help alleviate stress
  • Doctors can help diagnose and medicate stress
  • Psychologist and therapists help deal with trauma
  • Homeopaths offer natural products to help you sleep

To get past the trauma as quick as possible use the resources available to you.

[Editor’s note: There’s no shame is asking for help! That said, many of these resources may not be immediately available to you after a disaster.]

9. Look Out for Warning Signals

How stubborn are you? Will you listen to friends or family’s advice? If you know you won’t allow others to tell you what to do the responsibility lies with you. What will you do when you:

  • Become agitated for no reason
  • Have panic attacks
  • Black out for short periods
  • Have to be conscious of danger signals.

Have a plan in place. Find a doctor you know you can trust. Have the doctor’s contact details on hand at all times. You never know when you may need it.

If you prefer privacy no one has to know you asked for professional help.

[Editor’s note: Again, this is good to know and do when society is functioning normally but if/when a major disaster strikes such as Hurricane Harvey, a doctor you can trust may not be immediately available. That’s why it’s a good idea to locate and even to establish a relationship with such people before disaster strikes.]

10. Stop Generalizing

Many traumatic events involved other people:

Did they attack you physically?

Was there emotional abuse?

Did someone directly cause the trauma indirectly (such as a car accident)?

It’s easy to generalize regarding traumatic events. You may feel you never want to associate with a certain type of person again if you’ve been assaulted in order to protect yourself from future traumatic events.

How will you continue relationships with people if you judge people before you get to know them?

Your recovery’s purpose is to help you function well again. If you pull away from a certain group of society you’ll miss out on many experiences. It may even hinder normal functioning at work or in social environments.

This may be a subconscious reaction. As such, you have to:

  • Be aware of your actions and reactions towards people
  • Realize when you become prejudiced
  • Consciously place yourself in the company of such people
  • Start being desensitized to that group

Your brain remembers negative impulses better than positive ones. It will take a few positive experiences to counter the one traumatic event you went through. Don’t rob yourself of healthy interactions with people.

11. Use Organic Help

All of the tension you’re feeling as a result of a traumatic event certainly has an impact on your body. Strained bodies become sick and weak. This can be because of too little sleep and/or constant strain.

Momentary trauma and prolonged stress can decrease your body’s ability to fight against sickness. Your body will handle stress up to a point before showing the effects of it, including:

  • Flu symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Your fight is physical as well as psychological. Help your body survive the physical impact by follow a nutritious diet and supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. For example, magnesium helps fight the effects of stress.

Conclusion

Do you need this now or are you preparing for possible future events? Ask yourself how much you want to return to normal functioning. Conscious decisions—that will result in positive change—are necessary. Don’t take a chance and simply believe you’ll recover. We often don’t realize the effect of trauma until it’s too late. You must make specific adjustments to ensure a worthwhile future.

Author Bio

John Stuart is a content marketer working alongside Attenborough Door, manufacture and install a wide range of automatic doors across the UK.

Live Near Water But Not Sure Where To Evacuate To? Try This…

How To Evacuate Near Water

The recent flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey got me to thinking about flooding where I live because, after all, we live very near the water’s edge along the Puget Sound. And, while we’re likely high enough that any minor flooding wouldn’t be a problem… what if something BIG happened? Where would we go?

Well, as planning would have it, I do have evacuation routes to get us well away from the area but I’ve come to realize that some of those involve driving (or maybe walking) very near likely flood-prone areas which obviously wouldn’t work out too well if the flooding occurred in relatively short order.

The other major problem I had with planning a quick evacuation due to flooding is that we’re surrounded by tall trees which makes it a bit more difficult to merely step out of my front door, take a gander, and decide which way is uphill. Where we used to live in Missouri it was no problem to look for miles on end in any direction… here that just isn’t possible.

So, I did what any good under-the-age-of-80 person would do: I turned to Google Maps. And, as it turns out, they have a handy little terrain feature which shows contour lines and elevation.

Just go to Google Maps, click the “Menu” button on the top left corner of the screen, and select “Terrain.” The map will transform into something resembling a topographical map with a bit shading denoting elevation and a few contour lines. Yes, there’s plenty still to be desired but it’s better than nothing.

What I don’t like about the Terrain feature of Google Maps is that if you either zoom too far in or too far out the contour lines and elevation markers disappear which makes it a tad difficult to use but still easy enough that I can look at where I live and figure out fairly quickly where I can go to get to higher ground in a few minutes drive… and I actually wouldn’t have thought about the particular spot I have in mind.

Anyway, I tried a few other interactive maps such as elevationmap.net which might actually be a better tool because it seems to include the same information as Google Maps but with the added benefit that you can click on a specific point on the map and click “Get informations” (yes, I spelled that correctly according to the tool) and you’ll see an altitude shown whereas Google Maps doesn’t seem to do so.

Last, if you’d like to see a more traditional interactive topographic map then try US Topo Map tool. Click on “Download Maps” on the left sidebar then you can search for your address, for example, and you’ll get a good map to make use of with contour lines, elevation, and more. The best part is that it’s all overlaid with streets so you can plan a route easily.

Hope this helps you figure out where best to evacuate to if flooding is a concern for you. Stay safe out there. 🙂

Mayor Right Not To Order Evacuation?

Hurricane Harvey Flooding Houston, Image Credit

Honestly, I haven’t been paying much attention of the Houston hurricane except to occasionally view a few photos of the aftermath and to keep up with how rescue and recovery efforts are going. I do hope these folks stay safe.

Anyway, I recently read an article in The New York Times with a similar title as this blog post (guess where I got the idea from) because it caught my eye. “Right NOT to evacuate,” I thought. Really?

After all, it seems to me that THE right action here would be to evacuate from an obviously dangerous situation, especially when you have time to do so, however, the author of the article asserts that:

“It is logistically impossible to evacuate millions of people from low-lying coastal areas ahead of a major hurricane. The disastrous evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 proved the case.”

Sure, evacuating millions sounds like an impossible task for government officials anywhere even with days to plan for and execute it. And, besides, many folks are going to ignore the call to evacuate because that’s just human nature and likely because they’ve “been there and done that” before and found nothing bad happened to them or their homes when they did heed the call.

Looking only at the numbers from previous orders to evacuate there’s something to said for not calling for mass evacuation; the author goes on to state that:

“In total, some 130 people died in that [Hurricane Rita] evacuation, more than have ever perished in a hurricane in the state’s history, with the exception of the 1900 Galveston storm. Of those deaths, about half occurred before the storm hit Texas.”

Hmmm… that does make a compelling case for not evacuating, and if we measure success of calling for evacuation or not in death toll numbers (which currently stands at 14 as of this writing) then odds are that not ordering mass evacuation was the right move:

“While we do not have any hard numbers yet, my guess is that we will eventually learn that something less than 10 percent of the homes in the Houston region have been flooded by this storm. Had a general evacuation been called, 90 percent of the people would have evacuated for no reason.”

Ok, no reason to sound the alarm bells if we don’t need to. That said, maybe something more could have been done to ONLY evacuate folks expected to be directly affected by storm surge? Perhaps authorities did so and I’m just not aware of it.

Regardless, even if authorities don’t order mass evacuation there’s no reason for individuals and families to stay put if they have the means and ability to evacuate… we know for sure they would have had the warning time to do so, at least with respect to most hurricanes.

Of course, if I’d lived in a hurricane-prone area most of my life I would probably be quite hesitant to leave for a variety of reasons.

What would you have done? Stayed put and hoped for the best or high-tailed it out of there?

There is one wildcard here and that’s the flooding caused by rainfall which is difficult to predict yet still very dangerous:

“We can predict with reasonable accuracy what areas will be flooded by storm surge based on the forecast and elevations. But flooding from rainfall is highly unpredictable and variable based on the dynamics of each particular rain event. Rarely will we know days in advance which areas will be flooded.”

And this is where it gets dicey, in my opinion, to stay put. Even if authorities can reasonably predict where storm surge will flood, they can’t do so with flooding from rainfall. So, why stay put and take the chance?

Besides, even if you didn’t perish directly from the storm you could be putting rescue workers in greater peril trying to rescue you when they didn’t need to OR you could be taking away their time and efforts from someone else who really does need their help.

My advice: during the next hurricane go visit your in-laws whom you’ve been telling you’re going to come visit for the past ten years now but something always seems to come up last minute so you have to cancel the trip, lol.

FYI, here’s another good article on Why Hurricane Harvey became so extreme that was a good read if interested.

 

EDC Kit: Back To Basics (Guest Post)

EDC Kit, Image Credit

When becoming involved in survival and prepping, there are many different ways to get started. For instance, some people start by learning about specific survival skills, while others start by buying supplies. Some people buy a few survival tools and learn how to use them, while others just spend time becoming more self-sufficient.

There is no right or wrong way to get started. Just making an effort puts you miles ahead of the average person. However, there are some misconceptions about putting together packs and gear…

3 Types of Kits

Which one of these is right for you depends on your goals and your situation, read on…

Bug Out Bag (BOB)

One of the first types of kits that you will encounter is the Bug Out Bag (BOB). It seems like every survivalist has either put together a BOB, has purchased a pre-made one, or at least knows what it is.

This bag is designed to give you the supplies needed to survive if you packed up and left your home in a hurry, often being gone for days to weeks. However, the likelihood of needing to pack up and leave your home is relatively small. [Editor’s note: It totally depends on where you live and the situation you’re in… please be prepared to bug out if need be.]

Do not misunderstand me. Having a bug out bag is important and an excellent idea. It is just that the list of scenarios in which you must abandon your home is just small.

Get Home Bag (GHB)

The get home bag is designed to be kept at work or in your car with just enough supplies to get you home. Even if you end up on foot, most people would only be traveling for a couple of hours or a day or two at most. This makes a get home bag typically smaller.

It also makes the items more focused on urban survival. Most people spend their time walking the city streets, not trudging through the woods and is a more likely scenario as most people spend their days at work several miles from home. [Editor’s note: Yes! Most of us need to think about being able to get around city streets, not the woods.]

With the majority of your supplies at home, the end goal should typically be to make your way back home. Unfortunately, you could find yourself unable to get to a bag in your car or desk which brings us to…

The Everyday Carry (EDC) Kit

By far the most important and most undervalued kit you can put together is an Everyday Carry kit (EDC) which is an assembly of tools that you can carry with you at all times. That does not mean leaving it in the car or storing it in a locker at work. You have to keep these items with you.

This is the survival kit you are most likely to use, the least expensive to assemble, and has the most valuable tools. However, most new survivalists end up focusing on extreme bug-out scenarios instead of an emphasis on the everyday scenarios that are most common.

Most people work in an environment where they want to hide their survival background. Keep in mind that when SHTF, human nature is to take what is needed from the people who have it. That is, co-workers may be inclined to take your kit if they know it is on you.

As such, for the items in your EDC kit to be effective they either need to be hidden or be able to hide in plain view.

Bag or No Bag?

One of the easiest ways to conceal your EDC kit is in a small bag of some kind. Of course, this poses some problems as it must be a bag that you can take with you everywhere — to the bathroom, to meetings, to lunch, literally everywhere.

Aside from maybe a purse or laptop bag, this can be difficult. Another problem with keeping your whole kit in a bag means that someone can steal it or you can lose it and now you are completely vulnerable. Besides, keeping your whole kit inside a bag makes it more difficult to access the items you need quickly.

For example, you can keep a tactical pen in the bag for self-defense. But do you prefer to dig through the bag looking for it or just pull it out of a pocket? For most people, I feel that doing without the bag is a better option but the decision is up to you.

Main Items to Consider

To some degree, the items that you choose for your EDC should reflect where you spend most of your time. If you work in a large city, they should reflect urban survival. If you work in the country, they should reflect wilderness survival.

Regardless, you should always first consider the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire, and shelter. Then consider self-defense, first aid, navigation, and signaling for help.

You can carry as many items as you like as long as you are comfortable with their weight, size, and appearance.

Knife

For any survival scenario, many people consider this to be the most valuable tool to have because it is incredibly difficult to replicate its capability with natural materials.

Sure, you can sharpen a stone or hone a piece of glass but it can never be as strong or as capable as a steel blade. A good knife helps with self-defense, cleaning food, cutting cordage, building a shelter, starting a fire, hunting and dozens of other tasks.

Full Tang or Not?

The tang of a knife is how long the blade extends to the handle.

In a full tang knife, the blade extends all the way to the end of the handle, this makes it incredibly strong. However, the average full tang knife is quite long since it cannot be folded.

There are three primary ways to carry a full tang knife for your EDC kit. If you can carry a knife on your belt, that is my suggestion. It allows you to take a larger blade that is better for chopping and self-defense.

If that is not an option, you can carry a boot knife or a neck knife. A boot knife is hidden in a sheath inside the ankle of a boot, while a neck knife is carried on a chain around your neck. Both can stay completely hidden under your clothing.

Folding Knives

A folding knife is commonly known as a pocket knife because that is where it is intended to stay. While the hinge makes the knife a bit weaker, you can still find quality options.

It is important for it to be a locking blade knife as this prevents the blade from folding in on your hand. You can buy folding knives with several other tools included.

My suggestion is that you stick with a single or double blade knife and save the other instruments for a multi-tool if needed.

Fire

Many people think that you only need to start a fire in wilderness survival situations. This is simply not the case. There are plenty of scenarios in which the heat could be cut off from an urban building or you could be forced to venture out into the cold winter streets.

You should always have one or two reliable ways to build a fire in your EDC kit as you can die from exposure in just a few hours.

[Editor’s Note: I prefer to keep a mini Bic lighter on my keychain for this very purpose.]

Lighters

Normally, you are going to use your EDC kit for short term survival. This means that lighters are ideal for starting a fire. A Zippo lighter is reliable, durable, windproof, and can even be refilled with any flammable liquid. If you do not want to spend the money on a Zippo lighter, a couple of Bic lighters are a good alternative. They are still reliable and cost nearly nothing.

Ferro Rods

A ferro rod is small, windproof, waterproof, and requires no fuel. I like to keep a ferro rod with me along with a fire assistance product such as Wetfire cubes. In many cases, I can build a better fire with this combination of tools than I can with a lighter. [Editor’s note: lighters are pretty darn easy to use so I would encourage you to have one on your person if possible.]

You need a striker which can be any piece of high carbon steel including your knife. By striking the steel on the ferro rod, you create super-hot sparks that ignite many types of tinder.

Water Purification

Again, assuming that you can find clean water because you are in the city is not smart. Many buildings are supplied with water through pumps that can shut down without power. You should always have at least one method to purify water.

Filter Bottle

This is the method I prefer for my EDC kit. It is a commonplace to see people carrying a bottle of water with them everywhere they go.

The difference is that my bottle has a filter built into the lid that removes 99.999% of harmful contaminants. It even makes “safe” tap water taste better. Nobody knows the difference.

Straw Filter

This filter accomplishes the same thing but is small enough to keep in your pocket. If you do not want to carry a bottle everywhere, this is a good option. The only downside is that you must get down on the ground to sip from the straw in most cases.

Iodine Tablets

I also carry these little lifesavers everywhere I go. The vial is about the size of my car key and holds dozens of tablets. Each one can purify a bottle of water. I had situations where my filter clogs beyond repair and these tablets saved my life. The only downside is that they must dissolve for 30 minutes before you can drink the water.

Cordage

This is another one of those items that are difficult to replicate with natural materials. Cordage is vital for anything from climbing to building a shelter. It can be used for cooking, self-defense, trapping, or fishing if you do not have a regular fishing rod. The key is finding an easy way to carry it with you.

Paracord is by far the most functional type of cordage. It is thin but has seven internal strands that can be pulled out and used separately. The most common option is 550 paracord which can hold a 550-pound load.

The easiest ways to carry a paracord are as boot laces, bracelets or lanyards. I always replace my shoe and boot laces with appropriately colored paracord. This way, I have about 50 feet of cordage available at all times.

I can also remove the inner strands and reuse the outer sheath for laces. You can weave paracord into lanyards and bracelets for additional options. I typically keep one of each on me at all times.

Recently, certain companies have started making survival style paracord that has additional functions, such as a flammable cord with a Ferro rod and striker for the tips of the laces.

Another has the typical seven interior strands along with a strand of copper wire, a strand of fishing line, and a strand of flammable material. These can add even more function to an already needed item.

Other Items to Consider

You can go on and on listing out potential items for your EDC kit. Here are some of the most popular we have not yet mentioned.

Weapons – I have seen survivalists carry handguns, tactical pens, ball bearings on a cord, or even brass knuckles. A tactical pen is ideal for an office setting because it just looks like a nice pen.

Before you choose a weapon, know what your local regulations are. These are especially important in urban areas.

Emergency blankets – These are small enough to fit in your pocket and reflect 90% of your body heat back to you. They are suitable for wrapping up or for building a shelter.

Multi-tools – You can often see people carry these handy tools on their belt in a leather pouch. I even have one small enough to fit on my keychain. They have dozens of functions and are perfect for projects in which you are away from your tool box.

Wallet tools – In my wallet, I carry a folding knife, a multi tool, a survival card, and a lock pick set. There are all kinds of gadgets that are designed to be shaped like a credit card.

Small fishing kit – This includes line, hooks, sinkers, floats, and sometimes lures. You can make these small enough to fit in a mint tin.

LED light – These bright flashlights are small enough to fit in your pocket, on your keychain, or in your wallet.

Checked Your Fire Extinguishers Lately? I Haven’t And That Was A Mistake…

Fire Extinguisher,

Just the other day I’d decided to check on my smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and while I was at it have my youngest son try to put out a very small (and controlled) fire in our driveway just so he had an opportunity to hold and use a fire extinguisher which I don’t think I’ve ever had him do.

Well, as it turns out the first fire extinguisher I grabbed indicated “red” meaning it needed replaced; I gave it a try anyway… it was dead as a door nail. So I grabbed another one that indicated “green” and with a quick test THAT one didn’t work either!

I thought, “Uh oh… when’s the last time I checked these?” Believe it or not, I used to keep a good list of all the prepping tasks I needed to check on and when but, sadly, I can’t find the list anymore let alone remember the last time I even looked at it.

As it turns out it’s probably been a LONG time since I’ve actually looked at one of my fire extinguishers and, sadly, I found another one that needed replaced too. Surprisingly, the extinguishers I have in our vehicles still worked even though I would have assumed they–if any of them–would be bad since they’ve been exposed to both extreme hot and cold for many years… go figure.

The good news is that this has caused me to create a new prepping tasks list and, of course, to replace my fire extinguishers too.

I did briefly look into trying to refill them but apparently the type I have can’t (or shouldn’t) be refilled because they have plastic heads as opposed to metal ones and are prone to leaks… perhaps that’s why they don’t work any longer.

Anyway, just last night my wife was cooking dinner when the kitchen smoke alarm went off which isn’t unusual and so I didn’t bother to move from the basement couch as my wife was sort of yelling something incoherent which I did my best to ignore. As it turns out one of the burners had something stuck to it and caught fire. It wasn’t a big deal but I’ll take that as a sign I need to replace my fire extinguishers sooner rather than later, lol.

My suggestion: go check on your fire extinguishers and while you’re at it your smoke alarms just to be sure they’re still in working order.