11 June 2007

Interesting preparedness and self protection themed blog -SurvivalBlog.com. I've not read a great deal of it, but it looks promising.

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10 April 2007
The Mormons and roaches will outlive us all...

Interesting preparedness discussion my friend Alina pointed me to.

Looks like the Mormon's are marginally less kooky than I thought (or perhaps our kook-fields are converging slightly?)

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29 March 2007
Mike's Self Protection Skills Stream Of Conciousness

He's a clever man that one!

1) Dont do stupid things, hang out with stupid people, or go to stupid places.

2) Get some good OC and spray yourself to see what it can do. Get a training unit at the same time and practice some drills with a friend or friends. When in doubt, paint everyone orange and run away.

3) Work the hell out of managing unknown contacts with said friend and said OC training unit. Practice painting everyone orange and running away. When in public, visualize painting people orange and running away.

4) Get thine ass to a boxing and/or grappling gym. Lose weight, gain muscle, gain confidence, work against truly resistant opponents. Is there a downside to this?

5) Get a 5 shot revolver, old makarov, Glock or whatever. Practice with it on occasion, carry it whenever possible. Get a pump shotty for the house for heavy artillery. If you live in some rathole that doesn't allow this, move. I file such locales under "stupid places" as mentioned in point 1.

6) Unfuck your finances. From what I can tell, Dave Ramsey is as good a guy to get info from as any to start this off, and better than most.

7) Get 3+ months worth of food, emergency cash and supplies stored up. The world might not come to an end, but your job sure might. Buying in bulk saves money, anyway.

8) See your doctor and dentist regularly

9) Carry a damn flashlight and a knife or multitool. You'll be amazed at how you got along without them if you never did before.

10) Get your house/apartment as secure as is feasible. If there are blind spots, fix that. If the locks suck, fix that. A dog is one of the cheapest alarms you can install.

11) Take some red cross CPR and first aid classes. Go for EMT if you have the time/money. Carry a windlass bandana a la JJ.

12) Learn to swim. Go geocaching. Learn to canoe. Take a wilderness survival class. Volunteer with the boy scouts. Some people are so afraid of the outdoors that its a wonder they ever dare leave the city. Hardly a way to build confidence and self-reliance.

I'd rate all of those higher than running around with a rifle, however much fun that can be.

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08 March 2007
The Zombie Bag

As mentioned before, kit is, IMO, the least important part of the preparedness paradigm. However, having the right kit will make life a hell of a lot easier.

Below I'll detail the layered approach I feel is appropriate. Bear in mind that it is designed for my personal situation and what I feel are the likely risks I face in my daily life - day trips into big cities, week long stays in hotels in provincial towns and 5-6 hour drives across country.

So, we have the Zombie Bag and son of Zombie Bag. Those more used to preparedness sites will know these as Bug Out Bags. I call mine a zombie bag as it is, in essence, everything I would need when hell finally fills up and zombies attack. This faintly amusing and silly name helps explain the purpose much better for those not used to thinking about preparedness. Rather than get bogged down in debates over what is and isn't likely to happen, by using the fictional example of zombie attack it prevents thinking from getting bogged down in risk assessment and allows one to move on to risk mitigation.

Plus zombies are just so freaking cool!

Firstly I have the small bag. This is a Maxpedition Fatboy S-type. Maxpedition kit is a little pricy over here in the UK, but it is very, very well made and thought-out. The only problem I find with the fatboy is that the shoulder strap can sometimes rub a little on my neck, so I tend to use the neck strap around my waist instead. This has the advantage of making it easy to take on and off, which I need to do when getting into the car, or when sitting on the tube. I have toyed with using one of the cheapy seat belt pads you can get from Halfords for the neck strap, but that would perhaps add too much bulk.

The Fatboy contains the first line equipment I am likely to need – light, writing equipment, emergency first aid, batteries and the like:

Above - going from top left to to top right we have:
  • QuickClot
  • Moleskine notebook and Fisher SpacePen
  • Cableties
  • Sachets of sun tan lotion (important when you're as pale as me!) and Savlon antiseptic wipes
  • Inova X0 flashlight and spare batteries (I chose an AA powerd battery for this pack as it is the easiest battery type to find
  • First Aid Kit (more on this below)
  • Spoon (for yoghurts etc!)
  • Ghetto-waved Spyderco Delica
  • Small SAK - not sure what kind
  • 2 rolls of a few metres of paracord
  • Leatherman
  • Petzl TacTikka Headtorch. The camo scheme is a bit cringe-worthy but it ios the only one that offers a red filter, which is essential for protecting your night vision.
  • And the whole lot is on a bandana - one of the most useful things to have ever!
The first aid kit is a mix of boo-boo kit and blow-out kit. It has a large dressing, some smaller dressings, plasters, steri-strips and a resuscitation valve (If you have ever had anyone puke whilst giving mouth-to-mouth then this is a must!). Oh, and gloves!

In addition to the stuff not shown above I have added Ibuprofen, anti-histamines, anti-diarrhea tablets and re-hydration powder as well as mountain bike gloves, safety glasses and hand sanitizer. The gloves and goggles are from reading reports of 9/11 and 7/7 where people suffered eye irritation and hand damage getting out of the affected area. I plan to add a mask of some kind (N100?) as well.

Next we move onto the big boy - the original Zombie Bag™

The bag itself is a North Face day pack. It does the job and is comfortable enough but I think there are better options out there for a similar price. Maxpedition, Spec-Ops Gear and Boker all have better designed packs now. However it does manage to hold one shit-load of gear for such a little bag - here it is all laid out:

I'm trying to cover the basics of shelter, food, navigation, light, warmth, first aid and a few items to keep morale up under pressure.

Firstly we have Hygiene items. These are not only important for health and morale, but also as potential trades. In some reports of post-Katrina New Orleans people reported trading items like these for food, water and transport.

As you can see, I've got dry wash, deodorant, hand sanitizer, chewy tooth brushes and paper tissues.

The deodorant can also be used to help start a fire and the chewy tooth brushes are re-usable. (It's a little gross, but it works!)

There is a reason for having both the dry wash and the hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer is a little more brutal than the dry wash and may well irritate sensitive skin areas. Having both also allows me to have one close to hand (the hand sanitizer) for meal times and the like and the other stowed deeper in the pack for daily washing tasks.

Next we move on to fire and water. I have gone for a hexamine stove. I know there are better options but I am really not a fan of trangi stoves after having meths leak all over my sleeping bag years ago. I also like hexamine for the ease at which it lights (it can be used as a fire lighting aid) and because hit gives off a fair amount of smoke - potentially useful as a signal. To light it I have normal and waterproof matches and an Ultimate Survival flint and steel. I guess reading this I should have a lighter since I no longer smoke (6 weeks - Yay!) and so no longer have pockets stuffed with the things. I also have some wetfire fire lighting tablets. These things are great, and will burn even when soaking wet.

For water I have iodene, bleach and something to remove the bleach taste. Not the nicest but effective.

Finally I have a couple of candles for light and heat, and plastic bags - for no other reason than to not leave a mess if I don't have to.

A few other useful items here - duct tape, soft tape( for use on sprains and the like), paracord, a compass and a whistle. The whistle is very useful for signalling. Louder than shouting and takes less energy.

For sleeping I have a heavy duty polythene bag. Not as good as a proper sleeping bag but better than nothing and a lot less bulky. To supplement it I have a standard foil blanket. Alongside you can see half a dozen glow sticks.

I like glow sticks as they don't need power, last for ages and give a fairly soft light. Just right for dealing with camp tasks but not bright enough to really damage your night vision.

Food is next. This is one of the current issue MOD ration packs (Minus the custard-based desert - yuck!). Basically it's 3200 calories. Enough for a day of heavy activity. I chose these ration packs since they taste fine (sooooo much better than US MREs), and keep for a long time. Plus they are not bad eaten cold.

The 24 hours worth of food here is supplemented by another 48 hours (2 more packs) kept in the boot of my car, along with a few litres of water that gets drunk and replaced regularly.

The final part of this is first aid. For major incidents I have more quickclot and a blow-out kit shrink wrapped and easily grabbed. This kit has a one-handed tourniquet, dressing and nasal airway tube, along with gloves and the like. I also keep an Israeli one hand dressing to hand just in case. For less important problems I have a quite large boo-boo kit. It is stored in a German army surplus medics pouch (50p from the Sikh army surplus place in Ealing!). Contents as follows:

Multiple melanin pads of various sizes
Cotton wool (for wound packing)
Large ambulance bandage (1 pint capacity!)
gauze and a triangular bandage
Super glue (It's not surgical grade, but still works for little cuts)
Loads of anti-septic wipes,
Sun tan lotion
burn lotion
re-hydration powder
anti- diarrhoea tablets
padded foot plasters
Alcogel hand cleaner
and a load of gloves.

Finally I also have a Benchmade Pika and a CRKT Companion in there as well as a notepad and pens.

The Zombie bag normally lives in the boot of the car, along with the additional food and water, a mini-tool kit (including a Gerber multi-tool) and crowbar. Given that the car is rarely that far away from me (Whilst I am frequently far from home) that seems to be the most sensible solution.

I really would appreciate any thoughts on this, suggestions for things I may have overlooked or better ideas!

And a big thanks to my lioness, Lady T for the photos.


07 March 2007
The Utility Belt

The Utility Belt
is a fascinating blog by a Computer Geek with an interest, and a lot of knowledge of, preparedness. Go read it!

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Musings On Preparedness

Preparedness follows the same priority list as anything else - kit is NOT the most important issue. As those who have read or stdied with Dennis Martin will know, he promotes a very useful for model for prioritising factors for self protection.

This applies equally to more general preparedness. It is the mindset which will make the most impact, followed by tactics, techniques and kit. Looking back at the Kim family tragedy we can see a failure on multiple levels. Whilst Mr Kim had the mindset to struggle and fight to save his family, he did not have the prepared/preventative mindset which essentially led to the situation in which his family found themselves.

Having the mindset to prepare, to avoid the risks, to be ready to deal with the potential hardships of an emergency scenario. This is what will make the most difference. Then we have the tactics - avoiding the roads that are prone to flooding in the dead of night, telling people where you are going, taking pre-emptive action rather than waiting until it is too late.

Then we come to the techniques. There are a great number of resources out there explaining the 'how to'. I'm not planning to go over those again but, as well as the various fora I would recommend the following:

You'll notice a bias towards bushcraft skills here. Whilst what we are preparing for may be in an urban, or a rural environment, the skills are basically the same. We need the same basics of shelter, water, food and warmth regardless of if we are trying to deal with being stranded in the snow because the trains and buses can't run in central London, trying to escape a flooded city or dealing with your car breaking down when the recovery services are too stretched to respond quickly.

As in self protection we need to make sensible decisions of the risks we face and have a layered approach to our preparation.

The first factor we consider is, as always, context. In what context are you operating? Are you going to be travelling around a city by public transport? Are you driving across the country? Are you alone? With children?.

The next factor is the time which you will have to survive without help. In a large scale civilian emergency I think the minimum is 3 days. It may be less, but looking at Katrina, large scale power outages and the like, 3 days seems to be a common timeframe. For a day trip into a city we are more likely looking at hours, or at most one night.

The final factors are seasonal or changeable issues - what is the weather like? Is there a particular threat or risk?

Looking at all these factors enables you to make your personal preparedness plan – a realistic, sensible plan to deal with potential emergency situations.


01 March 2007
Tactical Torches

A quick recomendation. I've used Tactical Torches a few times now and I have had excellent service. Tony's prices are consistantly cheaper than the other UK suppliers and he is very helpful.

So, if you're looking for a reasonable, reliable supplier for torches and the like, then I'd give him a shout.

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27 February 2007
Kim Family Tragedy

I'm currently re-evaluating my safety precaustions and especially looking at things like what kit I'm carrying and how. During some reasearching I came across this account of the Kim family tragedy and started thinking about what I can learn from it.

Looking at the weather here in the UK, we are unlikely to get that kind of blizzard. Being stuck for more than a couple of days in unheard of (AFAIK) but it is entirely possible I may have to spend a night stuck in the car or even in a building without power.

With that in mind the questions that page poses are relevant and ones I will be considering over the next week or so.

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12 February 2007
Urban Preparation Kit by Schwert

Two interesting little articles on Urban Preparedness I and II.

The basic premise is of a layered protective system, with a basic on-body-kit supplemented by a coat kit, a bag kit, a desk kit, a car kit and a home kit. It is also interesting that these kits are deisigned to be used every day, not just sealed up and left for when hell finally fills up.

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25 October 2006
A Training Plan for the "Prepared Citizen"

The concept of the prepared citizen is an important one. For me, being prepared is a moral, as well as practical duty. I refuse to abdicate responsibility for my safety to the authorities, especially when they do such a poor job of it.

Preparation covers many, many areas from self-protection ability, first aid and knowing how to swim through to knowing how to store and prepare food. Simply put being prepared is knowing how to be a fully functional human animal.

Loudernhel at TPI has written the following article which gives a good idea of what is involved. Of course he writes for the US citizen but most of principles will apply equally in the UK.

This article had its genesis in a previous essay called “KSA’s for the Everyday Warrior.” I’ve decided to both revisit the topic and change the name. Unfortunately, the term “warrior,” much like its close cousin “hero,” has become so overused it is in jeopardy of having its meaning diluted. Therefore I’ve settled on the word “Prepared Citizen,” as I think this best describes the type of person I’m talking about here.

Please note that this list is merely an attempt to start a conversation, with the hopes that people who know more than me, and have a different perspective, will weigh in. It is a first draft and very malleable. I’m actively seeking comment and if you have constructive criticisms or additions, I would be honored to listen to them.

I have two goals:

The primary goal is to design a general training regimen that would prepare an ordinary citizen to survive acute emergencies such as a violent attack or "SHTF" type situation of short duration such as earthquake aftermath, hurricanes, civil unrest and etc. Survivalist, "end of the world as we know it" scenarios are beyond the scope of this, although there is certainly overlap in skills.

A secondary goal is research for a book that a friend of mine and I have talked about writing.

I’ve attempted to list a core set of skills. I’ve broken them down into “basic, intermediate and advanced” levels, because I think it is important to keep an overall perspective in our training. It makes little sense to me to spend the time, effort and money to become an “advanced” carbine shooter but pay absolutely no attention to empty hand skills, for example.

First a definition:

Prepared Citizen: Your ordinary, average person who is realizes that from time to time, life threatening emergencies may arise where the “proper authorities” may not be around to help. The Prepared Citizen is willing to step up and accept the responsibility for the safety of his or her self, his family, and perhaps his neighbors. The Prepared Citizen also enjoys side benefits of self confidence and advanced problem solving skills that come with training.

He is "Joe or Suzy Homemaker." He or she is a "civilian" not an "operator." Most of the "missions" he or she goes on involve getting a gallon of milk or taking the kids to swim practice. This is good and bad. Exposure to violence is much less likely. However, "professionals" whose job description includes dealing with violence, go forth expecting it and are generally paid to spend a certain amount of time training for it.

Any time he or she spends training is time that has to be squeezed into the demands of family, work and other expectations. Some families are comprised of warriors and may train together but most likely, he or she is the only one with an interest.

Any money that is spent has to be balanced against the mortgage, saving for the kid’s college, and orthodontist bills.

1) The Ability to unplug your ego.

You recognize the importance of self control in avoiding confrontation. You recognize that you may have some skills already, but learning is a never ending path. You do not fall victim to “The Rapture of The Shallows” and realize no matter how good you get at something, you can always improve.

The only thing worth fighting about is survival. The guy who cut you off in traffic is not worth fighting about. The guy who stood across the street and made the lewd comment about your wife is not worth fighting about.

When it comes to training, you have an open mind. For example, even if you have trained doing a tactical reload one way for years, if someone presents another, you will happily try it to see if it is better.

When it comes to the street, you are unflappable. When it comes to training, you absorb what is useful, regardless of source or preconception.

2) The Ability to blend in.
You recognize that one of the fundamentals of avoidance is to not attract special notice. You have political, religious and other beliefs but feel no particular need to advertise.

In dress, appearance and manner, you are not terribly remarkable, yet you also do not present a “victim” image.

You are the gray man.

3) The Knowledge of Use of Force Laws civil liability.

You recognize the importance of knowing your jurisdiction’s black letter and case law regarding use of force. You recognize that the moment you become involved with the criminal justice system or a civil suit, you loose, it is just a question of how much.

You had solid training in use of force and liability issues for the layman. You have a business card for both a criminal and civil attorney. If you were to become involved in a use of force incident, you would make decisions in accordance with the law, and be able to clearly articulate why you did so.


4) The Ability to be aware of your surroundings.

You recognize that the fundamental first step of avoidance of conflict is awareness of the potential. You focus on your surroundings as you go about your business.

You notice subtle clues in human behavior that are potential precursors to violence or unpleasantness in time to leave, or at least in time to brace yourself.

Little escapes your notice. You can remember descriptions of people, vehicles and events that at the time seemed unremarkable.

5) The Ability to Verbalize and Social Engineer

You recognize that your ability to talk to people is a useful defensive tool. You have perhaps read “Verbal Judo” or a similar book.

You are comfortable talking to people of all backgrounds, mental states and degrees of intoxication. You are able to firmly establish boundaries verbally without egging on conflict.


6) Skill at Strength and Conditioning

You recognize that you are fire more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure than a criminal assault. You recognize that fighting is a dynamic, physical activity and that no training, weapon or tool will make up for being out of shape. You formulate a fitness plan that includes diet and working on basic flexibility and cardio-vascular training.

You are at or within a few percent of an ideal weight for your body. Your cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength are adequate to survive a short violent encounter or emergency situation.

You are as fit as many professional athletes. You will probably out live all of us.

7) Skill at empty hand defensive techniques

You recognize that use of force happens on a continuum, and the basis for all other skills is good, solid, simple empty hand techniques. You seek formal training and begin to learn basic blocks, strikes, choke escapes, ground fighting and etc.

Instead of learning more complicated “fancy” techniques, you focus on delivering the basics with more speed, precision and power. You start integrating your empty hand with other use of force options.

You have developed speed, precision, and power in simple, direct, combat proven skills. Your transition between one type of use of force and another is seamless.

8) Skill at using OC spray.

You recognize the importance of intermediate weapons. You receive formal training in the use of OC spray.

9) Skill at using impact weapons, both designed and improvised.

You recognize the importance of intermediate weapons. You adopt some of your basic empty hand techniques (hammer fists, etc) to include a striking object such as a Kubaton, small flashlight etc.

You have formal short term training with impact weapons, such as a Kubaton class or ASP baton class. You begin long term training in one of the stick fighting disciplines. You start to integrate these techniques with your other skills.

You continue formal training. Your transition from one type of use of force to another is seamless. You could pick up just about anything vaguely stick shaped and defend yourself with it.

10) Skill at using a knife, and defending against knives.

You recognize the deadly threat that even a small edged weapon poses, and also realize that in many situations, the knife may be a better defensive tool than a gun. You can adopt some of your basic empty hand techniques to include a knife.
You attend formal training at a knife seminar and begin to integrate knives into your defensive repertoire. You may begin long term training in one of the knife based arts.


You continue training with the knife. Your integration is seamless.

11) Skill at using a handgun.

You recognize that while it is a valuable tool, a handgun does not make up for a lack of training in other areas, nor is it a guaranteed “fight stopper.” You have received formal training and can manipulate and handle a handgun without being a safety hazard to yourself and others. You are able to safely draw from a holster and shoot in a static “square range” environment.

You have received formal training on shooting and movement together. You have achieved speed with drawing, shooting, reloading and other gun related tactical skills. You are integrating your firearms skills with other use of force skills.

You continue to develop skills and integrate them.

12) Skill at using a short range long arm.

Note: The term “Short Range Long Arm” is somewhat clunky, but I wanted to differentiate between to different skill sets. “Short Range Long Arm” skills are from contact range out to perhaps 30 yards (for buckshot loaded shotguns) to 100 or 150 yards (for rifles/carbines and maybe shotgun slugs).

You recognize that if you are going to participate in a gunfight, it is best to have some sort of long gun around. You have received formal training and are able to safely manipulate and handle a long gun without being a safety hazard to yourself or others. You practice combat shooting skills in a “square range” static environment.

You have received formal training in shooting and movement together. You can transition from long gun to handgun or other use of force option.


13) Skill at using a long range long arm.

Note: Again “Long Range Long Arm” is clunky. This skill set is for shooting at ranges over 150 yards or so, out to the limit of the equipment and shooter.

You have received formal training and can safely manipulate a long gun without being a safety hazard to your self and others. You have a basic understanding of exterior ballistics and can zero your weapon for a specific range. You can reliably achieve good hits within the point blank zero of the weapon, and in calm wind conditions. You know what shots not to take.

You are developing skills for estimating range and the effects of wind, and are able to compensate for them. At this point you may actually begin to shoot at the mechanical limits of your equipment and have to upgrade.

If you can see it, you can hit it.

14) Skill at driving a vehicle

You practice basic safe driving skills, awareness and maintain your vehicle in good condition. You always leave yourself a path of escape. You recognize that the front bumper of a Geo Metro has more “stopping power” than any firearm.

You have some skill at driving off road. You take a class in evasive driving. You know the limits of your vehicle, how high a curb it can clear, how it handles on wet grass and etc.

You have received training in offensive driving and can PIT and perform similar techniques.

15) Skill at moving tactically

You recognize that there may be little call for the ordinary citizen to clear a building going INTO harm’s way, you may have to clear your way OUT of harm’s way. You have received formal training and understand concepts such as cover, concealment, slicing the pie. You have received training in low light techniques and tactical use of a flashlight.

Tactical movement, weapons skills and flashlight skills are becoming integrated with all your other skills.

16) Skill at providing emergency medical treatment

You have taken a Red Cross (or similar) Basic First aid and CPR class. You carry basic medical supplies such as a gloves and a CPR mask at all times.

You have taken advanced First Aid, First Responder, or (ideally) Wilderness First Responder training. You carry basic medical supplies such as gloves, a CPR mask and a blow out kit at all times and have ready access to a trauma kit.

You are an EMT, Paramedic, Nurse, M.D. or similar healthcare professional. You carry basic medical supplies such as gloves, a CPR mask and a blow out kit at all times and have ready access to a trauma kit and other drugs and tools appropriate to your level of training.

17) Environment survival skills

You have a basic understanding of the pricipals of survival and either formal training or some experience in back country living. You could keep your self alive by finding shelter if out alone in moderate conditions. You can reasonably expect not to get lost with a map and a GPS or compass. You can fabricate crude shelters and build a fire in moderate conditions.

If out in moderate conditions, you could actually survive in comfort for quite some time. You could survive extreme conditions for a short period of time. You can easily fabricate shelter and can make a fire in less than ideal conditions. You can reliably navigate with map and compass.

You can survive with minimal equipment for an extended period of time, fabricating your own shelter and foraging for safe food and water. You can navigate by stars and dead reckoning with survivable accuracy. You are tempted to live on a mountain with a pet bear and a cantankerous prospector as your only friends.

That’s where I’m at right now. What would you add, take away, change or move? And most importantly, why?

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