Sunday, August 24, 2014
Emergency Preparation, Part 18: Travel light, or stay heavy?
Miss D. and I moved house this month. In the process we're deliberately shedding more than half of the 'stuff' we (mostly I) have accumulated during our lives so far. We're going to force ourselves to fit into a relatively small duplex, so that when the next move comes (probably during the next twelve months) we have much less to move and are able to be more 'nimble' in responding to opportunities.
This has led me to fundamentally reappraise our emergency preparations. We've long since agreed that most of our reserve food should be things that we eat regularly, so that in effect our emergency supplies are really an 'extended pantry'. As we use up older supplies, we replenish the 'stash' with new ones, so that everything's rotated over the course of a couple of years. However, this has the notable disadvantage of being heavy and bulky. Canned goods are great if you're planning to stay put during an emergency. If you have to 'bug out', they'll probably be too bulky and heavy for your available transport - or, if you can somehow fit them in, you'll have to leave other, equally important things behind.
I'm therefore in the process of re-evaluating our emergency preparations. I still want to have two to three months food on hand, but it's virtually certain most of it will no longer be in the form of cans, bottles, etc. They simply take up too much space and weigh too much. We'll have to spend a bit more money and stock up on dehydrated vegetables, some freeze-dried meals, and dry foods such as beans and rice. Most of these will be lighter and less bulky than large quantities of cans. (We'll keep a supply of high-quality canned meat, though, as this is by far the tastiest, easiest-to-use preserved meat I've found. Textured vegetable protein is a lighter, relatively palatable alternative, but some people have adverse reactions to it.) I'm going to try to store our supplies along the lines of 'one week's food in a bucket' - it's much cheaper to make up your own bucket's contents rather than buy the pre-filled buckets or other pre-packaged supplies sold by many vendors.
The same principle applies to many other aspects of emergency preparation. Water purification chemicals and/or equipment, makeshift clothes-laundering supplies, tools . . . the list is almost endless. Big, heavy equipment is often very capable and highly useful; but it's not very portable. Can you afford to tie it, and yourself, to a geographical location that may turn out to be far from secure in troubled times? I suggest not. Better to have backup equipment that's lighter and more portable, so you can abandon the big stuff and take the smaller gear with you if necessary. If you can't afford both, or only have space to store one alternative, go with the most versatile option - one that lets you stay or go, depending on the circumstances confronting you.
This carries through to other aspects of emergency preparation such as firearms and ammunition. I'm not going to dispose of my relatively small collection of firearms, but I'm going to rearrange and prioritize it to make sure that certain cartridges and calibers are pre-packaged for an emergency, and the weapons to go with them are similarly prepared. In the event of a crisis, it'll be a matter of a few moments to take the essential guns out of the safe, grab a bag pre-packed with all the necessary magazines, holsters, cleaning gear and other accessories, pick up an ammo can and a soft case for each gun, and toss them all in the truck. The other guns and gear will have to look after themselves until we get back. (If we decide to shelter in place, of course, they may come in useful, or become worthwhile trade goods.)
A few friends and I are also discussing the possibility of storing a gun or two at each others' homes. Given that trouble can erupt at any time, we may not be able to get back to our own places for a while. If we can go to a friend's house in another suburb or town to collect a handgun and/or long gun that we've stored there, this will render us better able to get home during times of trouble - or 'get out of Dodge' if worst comes to worst. At the very least, we'll be able to help our friend defend his home and family until we can find out what's happened to our own. The old saying about there being 'strength in numbers' is still true.
Finally, think about this. You may have plenty of food and other supplies stored at home; but if widespread civil unrest erupts, it's probably going to be looted. The looters may walk over your dead bodies to get it, too. Too many possessions can be a trap, in that they come to own you rather than the other way around. If your emergency supplies can't be moved easily, you're tied down to them and by them. Better by far to have at least part of them in a form that allows you to toss them into a vehicle, or pack them on a utility trailer, and get out of the way of oncoming trouble - even if that means the loss of your home and remaining supplies. Possessions are nowhere near as important as your life and health, and those of your family and loved ones.
Take a good look at what you own. Are you so attached to some of your possessions (e.g. a nice house, or an extensive gun collection, or a well-equipped workshop, or a fancy bass boat) that you can't bear the thought of abandoning them in an emergency? If so, they own you, not the other way around. That's a fundamentally unhealthy situation - a trap waiting to be sprung. You need to start doing something about it now, before the trap closes during an emergency. The same applies to your emergency supplies. They exist to keep you secure in time of need. If, instead, you have to limit your options in order to secure them, something's cockeyed. Again, you need to start fixing that problem now, before an emergency arises.