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Lessons learned from recent NO bug-outs

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Preacherman, Aug 30, 2005.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    I've had over 30 people staying with me since Sunday, evacuating from New Orleans and points south in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. Only two families were my friends: they told other friends of theirs that they knew a place where they could hole up, and so a whole bunch arrived here! I didn't mind, because there were six RV's and travel trailers, so we had enough accommodation. However, I've had the opportunity to see what worked - and what didn't - in their evacuation plans and bug-out kits, and I thought a few "lessons learned" might be appropriate for the S&T forum.

    1. Have a bug-out kit ready at all times. Many of these folks packed at the last minute, grabbing whatever they thought they'd need. Needless to say, they forgot some important things (prescription medications, important documents, baby formula, diapers, etc.). Some of these things (e.g. prescriptions) obviously can't be stocked up against possible emergency need, but you can at least have a list in your bug-out kit of what to grab at the last minute before you leave!

    2. Renew supplies in your bug-out kit on a regular basis. Batteries lose their charge. Foods have an expiry date. So do common medications. Clothes can get moldy or dirty unless properly stored. All of these problems were found with the folks who kept backup or bug-out supplies on hand, and caused difficulties for them.

    3. Plan on needing a LOT more supplies than you think. I found myself with over 30 people on hand, many of whom were not well supplied: and the stores were swamped with literally thousands of refugees, buying up everything in sight. I had enough supplies to keep myself going for 30 days. Guess what? Those supplies ended up keeping 30-odd people going for two days. I now know that I must plan on providing for not just myself, but others in need. I could have been selfish and said "No, these are mine" - but what good would that do in a real disaster? Someone would just try to take them, and then we'd have all the resulting unpleasantness. Far better to have extra supplies to share with others, whilst keeping your own core reserve intact (and, preferably, hidden from prying eyes!).

    4. In a real emergency, forget about last-minute purchases. As I said earlier, the stores were swamped by thousands of refugees, as well as locals buying up last-minute supplies. If I hadn't had my emergency supplies already in store, I would never have been able to buy them at the last minute. If I'd had to hit the road, the situation would have been even worse, as I'd be part of a stream of thousands of refugees, most of whom would be buying (or stealing) what they needed before I got to the store.

    5. Make sure your vehicle will carry your essential supplies. Some of the folks who arrived at my place had tried to load up their cars with a humongous amount of stuff, only to find that they didn't have space for themselves! Pets are a particular problem here, as they have to have air and light, and can't be crammed into odd corners. If you have to carry a lot of supplies and a number of people, invest in a small luggage trailer or something similar (or a small travel trailer with space for your goodies) - it'll pay dividends if the S really does HTF.

    6. A big bug-out vehicle can be a handicap. Some of the folks arrived here with big pick-ups or SUV's, towing equally large travel trailers. Guess what? - on some evacuation routes, these huge combinations could not navigate corners very well, and/or were so difficult to turn that they ran into things (including other vehicles, which were NOT about to make way in the stress of an evacuation!). This led to hard feelings, harsh words, and at least one fist-fight. It's not a bad idea to have smaller, more manoeverable vehicles, and a smaller travel trailer, so that one can "squeeze through" in a tight traffic situation. Another point: a big SUV or pickup burns a lot of fuel. This is bad news when there's no fuel available! (See point 10 below.)

    7. Make sure you have a bug-out place handy. I was fortunate in having enough ground (about 1.8 acres) to provide parking for all these RV's and trailers, and to accommodate 11 small children in my living-room so that the adults could get some sleep on Sunday night, after many hours on the road in very heavy, slow-moving traffic. However, if I hadn't had space, I would have unhesitatingly told the extra families to find somewhere else - and there wasn't anywhere else here, that night. Even shops like Wal-Mart and K-Mart had trailers and RV's backed up in their parking lots (which annoyed the heck out of shoppers trying to make last-minute purchases). Even on my property, I had no trailer sewage connections, so I had to tell the occupants that if they used their onboard toilets and showers, they had to drive their RV's and trailers somewhere else to empty their waste tanks. If they hadn't left this morning, they would have joined long, long lines to do this at local trailer parks (some of which were so overloaded by visiting trailers and RV's that they refused to allow passers-by to use their dumping facilities).

    8. Provide entertainment for younger children. Some of these families had young children (ranging from 3 months to 11 years). They had DVD's, video games, etc. - but no power available in their trailers to show them! They had no coloring books, toys, etc. to keep the kids occupied. This was a bad mistake.

    9. Pack essentials first, then luxuries. Many of these folks had packed mattresses off beds, comforters, cushions, bathrobes, etc. As a result, their vehicles were grossly overloaded, but often lacked real essentials like candles, non-perishable foods, etc. One family (both parents are gourmet cooks) packed eighteen (yes, EIGHTEEN!!!) special pots and pans, which they were going to use on a two-burner camp stove... They were horrified by my suggestion that under the circumstances, a nested stainless-steel camping cookware set would be rather more practical. "What? :eek: No omelette pan?" Sheesh...

    10. Don't plan on fuel being available en route. A number of my visitors had real problems finding gas to fill up on the road. With thousands of vehicles jammed nose-to-tail on four lanes of interstate, an awful lot of vehicles needed gas. By the time you got to a gas station, you were highly likely to find it sold out - or charging exorbitant prices, because the owners knew you didn't have any choice but to pay what they asked. :fire: Much better to leave with a full tank of gas, and enough in spare containers to fill up on the road, if you have to, in order to reach your destination.

    11. Have enough money with you for at least two weeks. Many of those who arrived here had very little in cash, relying on check-books and credit cards to fund their purchases. Guess what? Their small banks down in South Louisiana were all off-line, and their balances, credit authorizations, etc. could not be checked - so many shops refused to accept their checks, and insisted on electronic verification before accepting their credit cards. Local banks also refused (initially) to cash checks for them, since they couldn't check the status of their accounts on-line. Eventually (and very grudgingly) local banks began allowing them to cash checks for not more than $50-$100, depending on the bank. Fortunately, I have a reasonable amount of cash available at all times, so I was able to help some of them. I'm now going to increase my cash on hand, I think... Another thing - don't bring only large bills. Many gas stations, convenience stores, etc. won't accept anything larger than a $20 bill. Some of my guests had plenty of $100 bills, but couldn't buy anything.

    12. Don't be sure that a disaster will be short-term. My friends have left now, heading south to Baton Rouge. They want to be closer to home for whenever they're allowed to return. Unfortunately for them, the Governor has just announced the mandatory, complete evacuation of New Orleans, and there's no word on when they will be allowed back. It will certainly be several weeks, and it might be several months. During that period, what they have with them - essential documents, clothing, etc. - is all they have. They'll have to find new doctors to renew prescriptions; find a place to live (a FEMA trailer if they're lucky - thousands of families will be lining up for these trailers); some way to earn a living (their jobs are gone with New Orleans, and I don't see their employers paying them for not working when the employers aren't making money either); and so on.

    13. Don't rely on government-run shelters if at all possible. Your weapons WILL be confiscated (yes, including pocket-knives, kitchen knives, and Leatherman-type tools); you will be crowded into close proximity with anyone and everyone (including some nice folks, but also including drug addicts, released convicts, gang types, and so on); you will be under the authority of the people running the shelter, who WILL call on law enforcement and military personnel to keep order (including stopping you leaving if you want to); and so on. Much, much better to have a place to go to, a plan to get there, and the supplies you need to do so on your own.

    14. Warn your friends not to bring others with them!!! I had told two friends to bring themselves and their families to my home. They, unknown to me, told half-a-dozen other families to come too - "He's a good guy, I'm sure he won't mind!" Well, I did mind... but since the circumstances weren't personally dangerous, I allowed them all to hang around. However, if things had been worse, I would have been very nasty indeed to their friends (and even nastier to them, for inviting others without clearing it with me first!). If you are a place of refuge for your friends, make sure they know that this applies to them ONLY, not their other friends. Similarly, if you have someone willing to offer you refuge, don't presume on his/her hospitality by arriving with others unforewarned.

    I'm sure I'll think of a few things to add to this list, but here it is for now. Anyone like to add anything?
     
  2. goon

    goon Member

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    Thank you.
    Your secondhand experience is much more educational than anything short of actually surviving it, which is not something that I look forward to.

    God help the people who were stranded or had their homes obliterated by this storm.
     
  3. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Member

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    A nice writeup!

    I would only add:

    Don't live in a hurricane region.

    If you do, build your house to last. I'd go with reinforced concrete in pyramidal recessing shapes. Have windows with slanted recessing panes and have matching steel plates to button down. Your home is your castle. If the city hall or neighbors protest on grounds of aesthetics, decorate the concrete with pastoral mosaics of colorfully painted tiles and plant some greenery. "Mayan temple" is the ideal style. :)

    Those who count on insurance to rebuild their flimsy wooden houses may be sorely disappointed, as the companies go bankrupt by an overwhelming number of simultaneous claims. The feds may bail them out, but I would not hold my breath. :(

    A house built to specs would also protect you and your property against looters, as they are by large lazy cowards and thus would rather hit softer targets. ;)
     
  4. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    CAnnoneer, if you'd built just such a house in New Orleans, you'd still be SOL about now - the Governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city, whether residents like it or not, and will use the National Guard to enforce it. You'd still have no power, no water, and be up to your armpits (at least) in floating sewage. So, I think I'll pass on building Fortress Preacherman, and invest in a small travel trailer instead! :D
     
  5. Hardware

    Hardware Member

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    A house built to specs under 20 feet of water might not be in a desirable location.

    Don't live in a city lower than sea level with an adjacent, higher lake. In this case it's not elevation and windage but just elevation, elevation, elevation.
     
  6. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    A couple more points that come to mind:

    15. Have account numbers, contact addresses and telephone numbers for all important persons and institutions. My friends will now have to get new postal addresses, and will have to notify others of this: their doctors, insurance companies (medical, personal, vehicle and property), bank(s), credit card issuer(s), utility supplier(s), telephone supplier(s), etc. Basically, anyone who sends you bills, or to whom you owe money, or who might owe you money. None of my friends brought all this information with them. Now, when they need to change postal addresses for correspondence, insurance claims, etc., how can they do this when they don't know their account numbers, what number to call, who and where to write, etc.?

    16. Have portable weapons and ammo ready to hand. Only two of my friends were armed, and one of them had only a handgun. The other had a handgun for himself, another for his wife, a shotgun, and an evil black rifle - MUCH better! I was asked by some of the other families, who'd seen TV reports of looting back in New Orleans, to lend them firearms. I refused, as they'd never handled guns before, and thus would have been more of a danger to themselves and other innocent persons than to looters. If they'd stayed a couple of days, so that I could teach them the basics, that would have been different: but they wouldn't, so I didn't. Another thing - you don't have to take your entire arsenal along. Firearms for personal defence come first, then firearms for life support through hunting (and don't forget the skinning knife!). A fishing outfit might not be a bad idea either (you can shoot bait! :D ). Other than that, leave the rest of your guns in the safe (you do have a gun safe, securely bolted to the floor, don't you?), and the bulk ammo supplies too. Bring enough ammo to keep you secure, but no more. If you really need bulk supplies of guns and ammo, they should be waiting for you at your bug-out location, not occupying space (and taking up a heck of a lot of weight!) in your vehicle. (For those bugging out in my direction, ammo supply will NOT be a problem... :D )

    I'm sure there are more points to come. How about others contributing to this list?
     
  7. rwc

    rwc Member

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    My wife and I talked through this over dinner. I thought of all the things THR-ers think about and Preacherman identified. My wife's first thoughts went to the family photo albums and her classic bass. All eight feet of it... My conclusion - talk to your family and figure out what their priorities are. Have a realistic expectation about what will and won't go.

    We have a Subaru wagon, rack and "rocket box" but that would get filled pretty quickly when you start adding in necessities for an 8 mo. old, a dog, and two adults. I think the small trailer is a great idea. You can priority pack so that the trailer has your "second tier" of goods, extra gas, etc. and can be ditched if necessary. When I pointed out to my wife that the only way we move her bass now (for her classic and jazz performances) is with one seat down and that between the bass, our baby's car seat, us and the dog there wasn't much room for necessities. I'm willing to triple bag the bass in poly. (saved from mattress purchases, etc.) and put it on the roof though. It's got to be love...

    An idea we had was to "team up" with a few other families who might also consider leaving. It occured to us that we could call a few friends, say we are bugging out and ask if they want to go with us. We would want a team of at least three couples. This gives us a much better work force given almost all of our friends have kids.

    Before blast off we figure we could take a day where we all ganged up and went from house to house moving everything easily mobile out of basements and up to the highest part of the house where it could be covered with a tarp and weighted down. This will provide a bit better protection for furniture and other easily water damaged goods in the event the windows blow out, the roof comes off, or the flood waters rise. Then turn off the gas, main power, and water lines. Nail old doors and spare plywood over lower floor windows and doors. Meanwhile we can also provide some positive "peer pressure" to make sure that folks pack warm clothes, non-perishable foods, and leave the 18 pots and pans behind.

    Preacherman - As a "foodie" I have to ask - was it Calphalon or All Clad? ;)

    Having a team also lets you divy up tasks. Example, one person can pool all the gas cans to go wait in line, one or two take care of all the kids, etc.

    And of course, there is always safety in numbers. Time to pick the team...
     
  8. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    My wife and I talked about this tonight. Here is what we decided:

    Don't live in a Hurricane zone.

    Don't live in a known earthquake zone (that one's harder since the New Madrid fault is in the midwest. Quake's can happen even if you aren't in California)

    Don't live on a known flood plain.

    Don't live below sea level if you are near the ocean.

    Don't live where there is a known risk of mudslides or wildfires.

    In other words, to avoid having to evacuate at the last minute, move away from those dangerous areas ahead of time.

    Yes, you can still be the victim of some other disaster, but just by avoiding known danger zones you can eliminate many of the risks. You still want to prepare for the unexpected, but you'll have less chance of actually needing to implement your disaster plan.
     
  9. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Peter - outstanding evaluation of what really matters. I really think that right now at least - ''sticky'' this - there are way too many folks who do not place enough importance on these things.

    I am again appalled at what I am seeing on the news - I thought the situation was black earlier today - it was not - it was then shades of gray.

    Now I begin to see real black - and it is appalling. :(
     
  10. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Member

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    Hehehehe, Fortress CAnnoneer would not have any windows or openings below 12 feet from the ground. We are also talking two-feet thick reinforced concrete walls and floors - they are waterproof. That's why it is a fortress. The gate would be at the top of a staircase. Like I said, Mayan style. :evil:

    What would the NatGuard do? Come knock on my gate and see the sign:

    "Gone on vacation till the end of Katrina. Beware the land mines and robotic defense turrets!"

    Are they going to knock down my door to check the suspicion that I am in? Why would they bother when there are so many other houses to evacuate? Methinks they will choose to convince themselves there is nobody home. ;)

    If you have your own generator and plenty of fuel, power is not an issue. Clean water supplies and distillation equipment are quite inexpensive and a reasonable component to Fortress CAnnoneer.

    :evil:
     
  11. SIGarmed

    SIGarmed Member

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    Thanks for this. It's a great write up. Now I'm off to get my own disaster plan in gear.

    This should be a sticky.
     
  12. YammyMonkey

    YammyMonkey Member

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    Good thread, made me start something I've been meaning to do for a few years now, make a list of Bug-Out stuff. Once I've given it the once-over I'll submit it so others can use it as a template. Keep in mind it'll be based on 1 male, 1 female adults, 1 newborn and 5 ferrets so you may need to adjust, but it would be a start.

    Have a place to go. Even if it's your mom's third cousin, twice removed, three times remarried and once in prison it beats the other alternative; just look at the Superdome for an example. Even if you run away from the area and end up pitching a tent for a while, it'll beat the Superdome or anything similar. The first major city you come to may be the obvious choice, but it's that for a reason; EVERYBODY is going to be hanging there, keep going. So what if it takes you an extra day to drive back home? If you can find food and lodging instead of living in a YMCA gym it'll be worth it.

    As stated earlier, money money money. Small bills, lots of them. When you get to a part of the country where things are normal you'll likely run into the same issues Preacherman's visitors (amd imposers) did- banks and comms down to certain areas.

    Couple other things:

    Medical supplies you know how to use. If you don't know how to use a C-collar there's no need to get one, same goes for the uber-giant first aid kits you see in some outdoor catalogs. Some things can be made much worse by a well intentioned medical hack job. Don't forget the antiseptic, I would go with rubbing alcohol instead of peroxide, more uses.

    Basic sanitary items. Woman products for the wife/girlfriend/daughter/mom. Those pads also make outstanding wound dressings. A face washing and tooth brushing goes a long way when you're dirty and otherwise very foul. Baby wipes are a good way to not use up precious water.

    Basic tools. If something breaks, you need a way to fix it. No need for the whole $30,000 Snap-On collection, but a simple assortment of screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, etc. will go a long way if you need them. Duct Tape, Duct Tape, Duct Tape. It can go bad, so keep some fresh rolls on hand. Something to fix flat tires, either one of those repair kits or a few cans of Fix-A-Flat. Your tire guy may curse you when you go in to get new rubber, but most of these disasters are going to leave a lot of building materials strewn all over. You will pick up nails, glass, etc. in your tires upon your return, or possibly while evac'ing and it's no fun driving on your rims.

    Pleasure food. Some trail mix, dried fruit or similar can have a similar effect as the brushing teeth and washing face. The survival rations can get pretty demoralizing after a while.

    If you need to carry extra gas inside your vehicle, roll the windows down or die. Simple, but oft forgotten I'm sure.
     
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    WRT important documents - an electronic copy from scanned documents is not acceptable under normal circumstances, but in a general disaster if you have birth certificates, SS cards, prescriptions, bank and credit, titles/deeds, etc saved to disc or flash you have a very compact "history" that could go a long way towards getting the meds you've run out of, establishing residence, ownership, and insurance, and generally jump starting part of the recovery process. Sure there's no power where you are, but there will be where you'll end up.

    Like the commercial says, "Have a plan". That includes evacuation routes that may be open when much of everything else is packed.

    Carry some basic "off road" gear. Rope, cross-arm straps and heavy 'beaners will allow you to set a "z-drag" to move obsticles. You'd be amazed with what you can move if all you have to move it is "enough". A small chain saw and a spair chain blade can cut a tree in half so that you can pull the parts far enough apart to squeeze through. A "real" jack will allow you to get that spare in place quickly after road debris wrecked your tire. Tire patch kit if there's anything recoverable on the tire you pulled.
     
  14. Mnemesyne

    Mnemesyne Member

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    Case in point...the 1986 earthquake in NE Ohio of all places.......



    On a side note...everyone else is leaving the NO area and the husbands work sent him and some others down there to help.....His biggest concern was not being armed....So if you pray, please say a prayer for him and all the other relief workers down there....looks like they're gonna need all the help they can get....
     
  15. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Thanks for all the comments. Come on, folks, I'm sure that you have many more suggestions - how about posting them?

    Rwc, some great ideas there. Very important point: if you're going in a convoy of three vehicles (or more), you'll need some means of inter-vehicle communication - and the cellphone towers go out very quickly! Might be a good idea to invest in a few handheld two-way radios, such as are sold for use by hunters. I'd suggest the 5-mile range sets, rather than the cheaper 2-mile range sets, so that if your vehicles are separated by traffic or accident, you can still talk to one another to arrange a rendezvous further down the road.

    I think I'll start another thread for the actual contents of a "bug-out kit" - so please post there as well.

    Chris, SIGarmed, this isn't my forum, so I won't make this a "sticky". If Jeff wants to do so, it's his prerogative.
     
  16. Mnemesyne

    Mnemesyne Member

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    A flint and steel kit for making fires....Can come in quite handy in those situations where matches or lighters are not present....I didn't think it'd actually work till the husband started our campfire with one of these kits one night at Zaleski :rolleyes: That and you can replace the items with common every day things (natural jute rope, 100% cotton balls)

    Another thing that sometimes is overlooked is a radio with either solar power or a hand crank (or both) for those times when batteries just can't be obtained easily....
     
  17. Texian Pistolero

    Texian Pistolero member

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    Great posts!

    I would just add the following:

    Don't forget to include "luxuries", like coffee, tea, and booze. If you smoke, your smokes are essential medications.

    Try to think about what skills you can offer someone who kindly gives you refuge. Try to give something back.

    Pack a Bible.
     
  18. jpthegeek

    jpthegeek Member

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    fashionable footwear & such

    Forgive the randomness:

    I would echo the steel and flint. Can also get one of those magnesium firestarter bars from Wally World or a camping outfit. I have one of these in just about every crevice of the two vehicles and the house.

    Also, good knives. Everyone who is capable should have a good one. Don't forget something to keep it sharp!

    The first on my list however, would be excellent boots, trail runners or some type of ruggedized footwear. I'm sure the vehicle thing will owrk for a while, but in the end you will probably be humping along on foot.

    Even if you don't hike or work in places that you need these, they can be had for very little cash, although sometimes you pay for what you get.

    I tend to keep my major bugout gear packed in my large internal fram backpack with a smaller box and bag with ammo, cleaning/sharpening implements. I also keep another backpack in my truck with a smaller version of what is at home.

    Although now I think my strategy needs to be revamped to include definite offsite plans with a cache or two up on the Ga mountains.

    Is it time to buy a small cabin and start stashing there?

    Do I need to start standardizing the weapons? No more new purchases? Same platform and caliber?

    Should I be allotting a percentage of the bi-weekly corporate wage to food stocks and ammo?

    This Katrina thing has got me thinking and to tell you the truth a bit worried. The local news agencies are just now starting to talk about gas shortages.

    Anyway, random Bug Out thoughts...
     
  19. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam

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    Peter,

    Some insurance companies will pay for three months of medications at one time. Especially if the medications are purchased from a discount pharmacy. They require a prescription for a three month supply, of course.

    If you do get a three month supply for emergencies and then regularly get one month supplies...you rotate the oldest out when you put in the newest.

    This is of supreme importance to many people. Do you take a medicine that you are absolutely dependent on? Heart, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc?

    Facing a disaster of the scale of New Orleans; you mignt not be able to put all the pieces for a new prescriptions together in time. Let's see: I've got to find a doctor, find a doctor who will take my insurance (does my employer still exist to pay the premiums?), maybe find money for doctor and pharmacy, find a pharmacy that's open, find a pharmacy that has my medications, find a pharmacy that accepts my insurance (if any), etc.

    All the food, weapons, and emergency supplies in the world are not going to do too much good if you die from a lack of insulin six weeks out.
     
  20. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    What I find most fascinating is that in previous bug out bag threads, people were saying that we were paranoid, and that a sufficiently large breakdown of society and gov't to necessitate the level of preparation we are discussing would not occur.

    We are watching it happen, in real-time.
     
  21. foghornl

    foghornl Member

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    GI ammo cans are great for storing stuff other than ammo...just make sure those cans are properly marked.

    Preacherman, I hope The Lord grants you an extra blessing for taking in those folks.

    On the other side, if I had arranged to make an emergency temporary stay with someone, [such as you], I would never even think of showing up with uninvited and un-previously cleared 'extras'. It is just plain rude to think that your host will want you and Cousin Jim Bob, Jim Bob's neighbor from 2 doors down, plus Jim Bosb & neighbors pets, and all the rug rats that emit 5 or 6 primal screams per minute, 24/7/365.
     
  22. LawDog

    LawDog Moderator Emeritus cum Laude

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    Have training, folks. All the tech and gadgets in the world won't do you much good if you don't have a clue how to use them to full effect.

    Take a First Responder or EMT course so that you can use the medi-kit to it's full advantage. Even better, take a Wilderness EMT course.

    Get topo maps of your area and study them before you need to. Learn how to read a topo map and teach everyone in your family the same skill.

    LawDog
     
  23. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

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    Emergency communications

    I haven't seen emergency comms mentioned yet so here's my $0.02...

    Charged cell phones along with car chargers, or your regular wall charger + a power inverter for the car. IF you are in an area where they work, a cell phone can let you call relatives/friends outside the danger area.

    FRS/GMRS radios. FRS doesn't require a license, while GMRS does (although it's just a fee, no test required, and the license covers your immediate family). Good for short range commo, e.g., between vehicles in a bug out situation. GMRS gives you somewhat longer range, though both require line of sight. FRS/GMRS radios can be picked up cheap at any of the big box stores, from Home Depot to WalMart, to Radio Shack. If you keep an eye out you may be able to find them DIRT CHEAP. E.g., I got a pair of Midland FRS/GMRS last year from MidwayUSA for the whopping sum of $6 + S&H.

    CB radio. No license required. These are still useful, although you do hear a lot of garbage, much of which is not suitable for sensitive ears. I have a portable in my truck with an external magnet-mount whip antenna. It's great for listening to truckers for real-time traffic reports and has kept me out of several jams. Also good for short-range commo. Most CBs are AM, but Single Side Band CBs will give you longer range, although you'll only be able to talk to other SSB CB users.

    Ham (Amateur) radio. Here's where it gets good, IMO. I got my ticket last month. Although you need a license, the entry-level Technician class license isn't hard to get, and the info you learn while studying for the exam can be useful. You can get a good handheld (AKA "handie talkie" or "HT") for as little as $100 which will allow you to transmit and receive on the 2M FM band. These are good for commo up to several miles if you have line of sight. I can hit a 2M repeater ~10 miles away from inside my house with my Yaesu VX-5RS. Once I get my General ticket I'll be able to use the HF bands and transmit much longer distances without relying on a repeater.

    Hams are currently in action down in the area affected by Katrina. Among other things, they've been able to direct rescue personnel to people stranded by floodwaters.

    I don't want to encourage unlicensed use, but in an emergency FCC rules about unlicensed transmission go out the window. You're allowed to use any means of communication to secure aid to preserve human life or property against immediate threats. IMO, the most important part about getting one's ham license is getting familiar with proper operating procedures, which are critical when TSHTF.

    Satellite phone is another option, although I have little knowledge of it.

    A NOAA weather radio should be in your disaster kit, if one of your other radios doesn't also pick up these channels. In my case, my Midland CB already does, so I don't have a separate unit.

    A portable AM/FM radio for listening to local news reports. If it picks up shortwave or the NOAA weather channels, it'll be more versatile. Some also allow you to listen to the audio portion of TV broadcasts. I'm currently shopping for a multi-band AM/FM/SW radio so if anyone has recommendations, I'm all ears.

    Don't forget plenty of batteries, chargers, appropriate AC adapters, and a power inverter so you can plug them into the cigarrette lighter in your vehicle.

    73,

    Dave, KB3MNK
     
  24. Mongo the Mutterer

    Mongo the Mutterer Member

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    What a great thread -- Preacherman God Bless you for helping the refugees.

    Deadeye Deb (my fiancee) and I were discussing a SHTF kit last night. The first thing she said was COFFEE, and a coffee pot to put on a grill or fire.

    Those of us with addictions have to feed them. :D
     
  25. Len

    Len Member

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    Michigan
    *Post moved to Preacherman's other thread*
     
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