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The most important part of an emergency supply kit


There's some chatter about emergency preparedness.

Although I have no special expertise in this area, I may as well offer my thoughts on an area that people seem to be neglecting... the plan of action.  If you're a loner type, and I definitely fit that criteria, the plan may be nothing more than a few minutes of thought revisited often enough to become familiar.  But if you have family to protect, you need to be able to coordinate your actions and resources -- and that means having something more formalized.

What are the important components of a plan?  You need to think of a way to provide yourself with:
  1. Water.
  2. Food.
  3. Shelter.
  4. The ability to reach them.
  5. The ability to keep them, once reached.
Having an emergency bunker deep in the woods is understandable in the event of a complete collapse of civilization, but it's not likely, and it won't do you any good if you can't get there or have to use up all your resources traveling or fighting your way there.  So: make sure you have enough of all of those to survive for a week, minimum, in portable form.  This should be kept in your vehicle, so you will always have it, preferably in a bag or backpack that you can carry.

If you commute a substantial distance to work, figure out how long it would take you to get home on foot.  You need to live that long on what you carry in your vehicle.  It's not necessarily as hard as it sounds.  Don't forget the obvious; you may need maps and a compass if you are unable to follow the roads, you'll want to be able to start a fire if need be, and a little first aid preperation can go a long way.

Designate at least three rallying points, along with time windows.  The first is someplace close to the locations your family regularly travel to.  This may or may not be your primary shelter -- it should be some central location that everyone can find and reach easily, and your primary shelter may be a long distance away from a workplace, school, or the like.   The second is in the region, perhaps a little farther away, and serves as a backup -- it's your primary shelter if the first point was not.  The third is the "evacuate" location, in case you need to abandon the whole area; distant friends or relatives in another city. 

Schedule your time at each location based on elapsed time from disaster and travel time on foot; it may take you 4 hours to get to your primary location, 4 days to get to the secondary location from the primary, and two weeks to get to the third.  But you'll know where to go, when to go there, and so will everyone else.  If everyone knows what to do, they won't panic and do something else.  If your family members get separated, rather than fruitlessly searching through chaos, everyone heads for the same point independently.

Assume that your primary shelter may not remain intact.  That means that your stop there may be nothing more than a resupply and rallying point.  In an emergency, unless you are completely self-sufficient (and if you're reading this, you're not), mobility is the key to survival.  You won't be able to provide for yourself indefinitely.  You need to plan to get out.
But your primary shelter can hold the prepared supplies and equipment that isn't worth carrying with you constantly, and if you plan for wait time between travel stages you can ride out a disaster while preserving your ability to evacuate should it become necessary.

And one word on that that isn't obvious: you and your loved ones may arrive at your primary shelter separately, and may not have the opportunity to communicate directly.  Plan around this.  Don't specialize.  Everyone's pack should be independent of the others in a crisis as far as survival goes; you carry your own food, water, shelter, and protection.  Do what you want with luxuries.

Since I'm a gunblogger I'm going to offer some thoughts on the obvious: what firearms are best suited to this situation?

Step One: Choose a handgun

Why is this the first step?  Simple: a handgun is the only firearm you can conveniently carry with you everywhere.  In a collapse of civil order, you will be taking that firearm with you no matter where you go or what you are doing, short of a government shelter.  It needs to be something you can keep handy all the time, and that means a handgun.  It needs to use common ammunition, and it needs to have enough punch to stop a human fast and with minimal use of ammunition.  It needs to be reliable even in the face of poor maintenance.

Ideally, your choice of handgun should be something which either needs few replacement parts, or something for which replacement parts can reasonably be located during a breakdown of civil order.  That might mean a revolver (but see the next section), or it might mean choosing what the local police or military forces use, or simply sticking to a common type (eg, 1911s).  There's a good chance this is the only firearm you'll have handy, though, so it needs to fulfill it's primary mission (protecting you) and be suitable for other purposes as well.

Step Two: Choose a trunk gun

If the crisis hits, there are good odds that most people will be near their personal or family vehicle at the time.  That makes it a good place to store something a little more useful, if you can do so legally.  I would recommend a carbine matched to your handgun.  The advantage of the carbine is that it shares ammunition, and ideally magazines, with your chosen handgun; in a disaster situation ammunition is worth more than gold.  You will not be able to replace it, and you will probably need to carry your entire supply with you, but you can trade it (at high velocities) for food or survival. 

The Geek likes to recommend the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 Carbine.  I don't see anything wrong with that, except that I'll need to get a handgun in a matching caliber....

You can keep other firearms in your primary shelter if you want, and they will be available to you at need for hunting or self-defense.  But a handgun and a carbine are what you carry with you on foot in a survival situation.  Remember that you aren't looking for a fight, you're looking to get out intact or survive until help comes.

But the most important thing you need to have before disaster strikes is a plan.  If you've got that, you'll know what you need to do and how to do it, and you'll be doing useful work designed to preserve your life while most people are still frantically trying to figure out who was supposed to pick up Johnny from the day care and whether the government will be evacuating Jenny from her high school.

This entry was published 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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