Monday, May 6, 2024

Bug Out Bag: Intro

Go Bags AKA: GOOD get-out-of-Dodge bag, battle box, BOB bug-out-bag, PERK personal-emergency- relocation-kit, 72 hour kit, QRB quick-run-bag, Grab bag, Bail out bag, AA@ bag, which refers to a military series of bags that a member is deployed with, A, B, and C. The AA@ bag is individual equipment and clothing bag. I just had a few hours to kill so I went to the first 50 sites (5 pages worth) of a Google search of “72 Hour Kits”. There were “About 89,700,000 results (0.31 seconds)!” WOW! I have been working on our personal preparedness for almost 30 years and I thought I could still learn something. I learned that if I was a complete novice at this I would be in trouble! Not only have we worked on a bug out bag for our family for many years, but I feel my experience in the military was a great plus to this preparedness. After looking at these sites I just want to throw in the towel! Sometimes going to the internet for information is like going into the jungle, I never know what’s going to happen and I’m real scared. There are too much and too many differing opinions out there and everyone, (including me!) wants to post their ideas or sell their product. The first 10 or 15 sites were devoted to selling me “the most comprehensive 72 kit you could ever own.” That was actually a statement made about a kit I thought was pretty weak. Amazon has 771 pages under 72 hour kits. Now I understand the retail world. It’s about selling a product. I must admit, most of the kits I looked at were pretty good, not perfect for me, but pretty good. Most were very similar so if you’re looking to buy a readymade kit, find the ideal ingredients that the retail world can offer, and then find the price that fits that list. I would not be caught with a store bought kit. That would not work for me. They are way too generic and I don’t think I’ve seen one that addresses security. I understand the reason; I don’t think I’d want that kind of liability in my product either. But, I’ve yet to see a company back up their product and show the results of using that product. I did see some products that I felt had some quality items, not anything flimsy or cheap. That was refreshing. None of the over 100 kits I looked at approached the first aid kit with much more than a cursory effort. I believe there are very few commercial first aid kits that are worth very much. I know that the commercial world is not going to put in certain items because that would tell the customer that “You too can put in an IV at home!” The liability is horrible and I can imagine the lawsuits over an item as simple as a suture. But it would happen. So, I can understand the challenge of putting together a first aid kit or a 72 hour kit that will work, and also “not get us sued!” But how much of a disservice is it to give someone a kit that is called a “survival” type kit which actually won’t do much for you or others with a real injury? Four aspirin and 25 band-aids and a roll of gauze are hardly a first aid kit for anyone with even a limited training. The same goes for 72 hour kits that only assume you’re not only an idiot, but an untrained, uneducated idiot! I wish some company would put out a kit that would be better based in reality and would also advise where to seek training and give some real world advice on how to use their kit, and how to improve it. I don’t think that will happen business being what it is. Some companies have blogs and articles connected to their products that I see as an attempt to train and educate. But I know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Many Americans are spoiled and want to be prepared, but don’t want to pay the price for that preparedness. What might that price be? The price of both money and especially time. “OK Burn, now that you’ve whined to us about the problems of the internet in buying a 72 hour kit or gaining information, what is your solution?” Well, dear reader, I’m glad you asked. Actually I go to the internet for information all the time. In fact, this blog is actually an attempt at some kind of sanity in the area of preparedness, though it too will probably fall short. But hopefully our ideas will spark some ideas of your own. In 1984 I was on a mobility team in the military. This was a team of 15 or so members that could be deployed at a moment’s notice to anywhere in the world to perform our particular operation. This meant always being prepared and practicing what to do if the deployment was “real world”. I had several bags that were inspected constantly and by regulation had to have certain items in them. If I was missing a specific item, I was advised that I may not deploy and could be reprimanded. The military liked to use fear to get you to act appropriately. After those specific items I could include almost anything I wanted short of some unauthorized items. I had being ready down to a science. Now, as a civilian I don’t have to worry about my “A” bag being inspected, I am my own inspector. That can be good and bad. Without a consequence, most humans tend to relax their standards. Unless discipline is employed, disaster can result. Once you get your go bag together, do not take anything out unless you have an emergency of course. Camping is not an emergency by the way. Whatever you may use from your kit while testing it must be replaced unless it is going to be removed permanently. You must be strict with yourself because your life may depend on it. As you start this go bag journey, do your homework. Look at several places you feel you can trust. Ask someone who is “5 by 5 and mission ready*”(someone who knows) and they can help you. Please don’t trust only one source. As I’ve emphasized before, find a list you can live with and customize it. Add to, or take away from it. Then practice with those items and test them. I’ve done this for years with camping equipment too. Sometimes you’re surprised at an item you thought was junk, but turned out to be great in the field. Camping is a good way to test your kit. If you don’t want to camp (some people don’t), then test it in your back yard. Your neighbors will love it! Most of what I saw of lists was on government or school sites. These lack, in my opinion, a reality check. But some may be a good place to start. I think it’s amazing that the best lists I saw were on “zombie” sites. Zombie sites refer to a pop culture idea that somehow after a pandemic or other disaster zombies come out in droves to chase and attack non-zombies. I always wondered why they don’t feed on each other? Anyway, these zombies have created a culture of preppers that are quite grounded in “reality”, believe it or not. Aside from the fictional reason to be prepared (zombies), the preparedness that these sites and groups advocate is pretty reality based. Even a government agency (the Center for Disease Control) have adopted a “zombie” attitude. They use the zombie culture to try and get people better prepared. Please use common sense in this preparation. I’ve mentioned SWB (size, weight, bulk) in other blogs. To me it is very important. I can’t tell you the times as a Scoutmaster that I took my Troop on a backpacking trip and watched boys empty their backpacks on the trail to “pick it up on the way down.” They thought they could handle a 50 pound pack for 5 miles each day for 3 days. That was also the reason we had shorter hikes before the big one and encouraged the boys to pack the same thing they would take on the longer hike. This way you get some operational intell on what will work and what will not. Do not try a long hike with your go bag. Start small and work your way up. You will find yourself talking in terms of ounces when preparing your kit. Every ounce counts and will add up quickly. Don’t be fooled by what you “think” you can handle. If you haven’t started a kit I challenge you to do it. Do it now! Get up from the computer and find a couple of items you think would be handy. Put them in a box or even a Wal-mart bag and put it in a place that you think you will eventually put a go bag. A closet near a door would be good. Do it now, we’ll wait. I hope you actually did it and that you continue to do it on a monthly, weekly, or daily schedule until you think it’s ready for a test. Making a goal is important. A small budget is part of that plan. Training is part of that plan. This is a journey but you must take that first step to see any progress. You know I don’t like to gamble. But I sure would like to win the lottery. Think I could win without playing? Probably not. By the same token, you can’t become prepared without action. Set attainable goals and then put a plan on paper. A goal not written is only a wish. Always remember that skills trump gear every time. Get training. After a goal and a commitment the only thing left is to work the plan. Being prepared is a lifelong pursuit. Being able to leave quickly is an important part of that preparedness. Semper Paratus Check 6 Burn *Five by five and mission ready refers to an old military term. In voice procedure (the techniques used to facilitate spoken communication over two-way radios) a station may request a report on the quality and strength of signal they are broadcasting. In the military of the NATO countries, and other organizations, the signal quality is reported on two scales; the first is for signal strength, and the second for signal clarity. Both these scales range from one to five, where one is the worst and five is the best. The listening station reports these numbers separated with the word "by". Five by five therefore means a signal that has excellent strength and perfect clarity — the most understandable signal possible. Five by five by extension has come to mean "I understand you perfectly" in situations other than radio communication, the way Loud and Clear entered slang, post- WW2. “5 by 5” is the opposite of “broken and stupid”

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