Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Brace Thyself/Break Thyself Part Two: GTFO

In the first part of Brace Thyself/Break Thyself Josh spoke a little about the practical side of staying in shape... let's put that to use shall we? Oh and I'm going to add a disclaimer; STAY LEGAL, STAY SENSIBLE, STAY SAFE! I am not taking responsibility if you decide to use some of these tips and tricks and get busted or end up full of, you're on your own there people. It's quite easy, if it looks wrong, if it looks dodgy, think again. If it still looks wrong and dodgy DON'T DO IT. So yeah, if a cop sidles up as you run down the street and shouts 'STOP' that's just what you do kid. Nor do you think it'll be fun to take a jog over the local military firing range and see if you are faster than bullets and bombs. Find some nice place out of town and do it there, it's not hard. Over to Josh...

You've got your preps all sorted.
You're in good shape.
All dressed up and nowhere to go, right?
Continuing the car metaphor from part one, why not take it for a test drive?
Yes, escape and evasion.
If you have a good place and some friends, go somewhere and take off running and see if they can track you down and get you.
Or get the cops to chase you and see if you can get away. If they catch you, practice more once you get out of jail.

A few general tips for not getting caught by your buddies/thrown in jail:

            Wear dark, neutral colors. Brown, green, and gray all appear in nature, but won't make you stick out as much at night as black will (black is TOO dark, and you tend to look like a shadow). The key here is to remember you aren't going for full on camoflauge, you just want to make yourself stand out less. Go for darker colors because you ideally want to have to get it on under the cover of darkess, and if it's daylight, it'll be easier to see you no matter what. You don't really want legit camo because you don't want to look weird in the light and make yourself a target, but if camo is acceptable in your area, by all means, go for it.

            Don't wear your clothing too tight or too loose. If it's too tight, it'll restrict your movement at worst, and just be uncomfortable at best. If it's too loose, plan on getting caught on LOTS of things. You don't wanna be the person that gets caught because your baggy pants got caught on a fence and you fell off and busted your head.

            Stick to the shadows and areas with plenty of cover/concealment. You're going to want to try to avoid large, open, and/or well lit areas. If you're in a residential area, try to stay behind houses, away from the streets. Most searches begin with the searchers in vehicles, and you don't want them to see you. Utilize cover/concealment (houses, sheds, trees, bushes, etc.) as much as possible. If you see headlights on the road you're moving parallel to, hang back out of sight until you see taillights. Even if they have a spotlight or a flashlight, under darkness, you can really only see maybe a meter past the edges of the light, so try to stay in the shadows AND behind things. If you can move in a ravine or down a hill parallel to the road, even better, but make sure there are plenty of things to hide behind if they look down into it.

            Keep moving! Start off running to get the maximum distance between yourself and your persuers, but don't wear yourself out. The key is to KEEP moving. If you can lose them initially, their chances of finding you are lowered drastically. It takes a while for a search to be organized, and for backup to arrive. Even longer for K9 units to show up. Once you get your distance, as far as they know, you could go any way from the last direction they saw you going in. That makes it much harder for them to pinpoint your route and set up any kind of block. After you get that intial distance, slow down. Don't wear yourself out. Keep in mind that a person moving fast makes more noise and draws the eye more than one moving slowly and steadily. Someone running at a dead sprint looks more suspicious than someone just walking along.

            Pay attention! This kind of contradicts the last part, but all will be made clear. If you keep moving TOO much, you'll miss things. If your heartbeat and heavy breathing is all you can hear, 1) you won't be able to hear the people persuing you, and 2) bet your ass they'll be able to hear you. Pause to listen and watch. If you have police cars cruising the streets looking for you, it's not going to help much if you're moseying through a yard or something when they drive by shining a light on you. It's also not going to help very much if you're so intent on getting to your location that you run right into a block they set up. Try to plan your route based on what you know about the area, and what you can see. You don't want to have to swim across a river or go through an open field unless you absolutely have to. Paying attention can help avoid this with minimum time wasted.

            Don't get too caught up on kit. Honestly, the only shit you really need to get away is already attached to you, and in your skull. Your EDC (every day carry) should take care of the rest. If your escape route is going to take more than a few hours, the best things you could have would be money and a cell phone. You could even do without the cell phone. All the extra stuff is probably going to slow you down and get you hung up on obstacles. If your route is going to take more than 12 hours on foot, then you'd want to bring some bare essentials to make it, based on the amount of time it'll take, but if it's 12 hours or less, you'll survive. Just make sure where ever you're trying to get to has the essentials and you can tough it out.

This was one of the first results I got on a Google image search for "edc madness":


 Josh H is our over caffeinated chain smoking American Corespondent and the contents of his portable hard-drives were recently declared illegal in 12 countries; an achievement he is proud of.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Brace Thyself/Break Thyself Part One: Functional Fitness

In my last post I talked about keeping it real and all that sort of stuff. In that respect I hereby without much futher ado introduce the Brace Thyself/Break Thyself series during which both Josh and I will discuss various topics designed to give you a good grounding in realistic, useful and practical skills before we start messing around with some of the more technical stuff. Here is Josh with 'Functional Fitness'.

So, you're a salty prepping machine.
You've got all your kit squared away.
You're set, right?


Alright, cool. You've got your MREs field-stripped, a dozen different ways to start a fire, half a dozen ways to catch and purify water, enough ammo to cut down a zombie army, four different methods of shelter, more knives than a Ginsu factory, and who knows what else.
Can you actually carry all that shit?
How about in varied envrionments?
What about under stress?
How long can you carry it all for?
What effect does it have on your movement?

It doesn't matter if you have the newest and bestest toys available, if your ass passes out a block away because you're in terrible shape, there will be guys like me around, like vultures, to pick you clean.

Functional fitness does NOT mean going to the gym, oiling yourself up, and doing curls while you stare at yourself in the mirror. Unless your disaster plan involves standing around picking up heavy objects and setting them back down, stick to methods that won't leave you in the dust.
Pull ups and climbing rope are good. If you have to pull yourself over a fence or wall, will you be able to?
Hiking, jogging, running, and cycling are good too. Nothing tells you how many miles you can put on the ol' Black Cadillacs (means your feet) without needing a time to take a break and fill 'em back up.
If you can, practice in your environment. Practice climbing trees, jumping fences, climbing walls, things like that. Practice it loaded up. Practice it after running.
It doesn't matter if you can do 100 pull ups in a row if under stress, you try to climb a fence, fall and bust your head open.

I'm not saying don't ever do any other exercises, nor am I saying don't go to the gym or lift weights. All of that is good business and you'll feel and look better as you go along. However, don't rely on those exercises. Mix them in with your functional exercises.
Your body is like a car. It doesn't matter so much how it looks, it's what's under the hood, and no matter how finely tuned of a machine you have, you gotta get some work done on it now and then and keep it up.

Josh H is our over caffeinated chain smoking American Corespondent and the 'well adjusted one' on this blog. Figures...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Getting started... its not just about the toys

So... you have your Gucci kit, your bug out bag was personally designed and fitted out by the SAS and SEAL Team 6, turns into a tent and can fly. Your house has enough food to last 6 years, you've got a bunker in your garden, solar panels everywhere and a secret passage to the nearest hypermarket.

What's missing from this picture?

Well, what you have is a 'hobby', a nice hobby but a hobby all the same. Like collecting teapots, trainspotting, breeding goats or my personal favorite, collecting books, you are just 'collecting' some cool equipment and effectively displaying it around your house. You need a 'survival mindset' if you're going to put your display items to good use.

Arguably the survival mindset is key to everything. In the 1740's, four Russian sailors marooned in the arctic survived for 6 years with the clothes on their backs, a musket with twelve balls and twelve charges of black powder, a single knife, a single axe, a small kettle, twenty pounds of flour in a bag, a tinderbox and a little tinder, a pouch of tobacco, and one wooden pipe each. No SAS/SEALS backpacks for them. Why? Because these men were Pomori — literally "seacoast dwellers," hardened and resourceful sailors born and bred in the Russian north. But most importantly they had the survival mindset.

What is this mindset though? Well, that's quite hard to say but let's take a look at our Pomori sailors; they had two vital things that made up for the fact that they had only basic equipment.

First, they had the skills to survive and use their basic kit to it's greatest potential.

Secondly and more importantly they had the willpower to survive those 6 long years; whatever drove them it drove them well and kept them alive far better than any amount of equipment ever would.

It is vital that you all acquire this mindset as you progress and it's something I and the other writers will come back to time and time again. It's about finding the skills to put your nice shiny kit to use, putting those skills to practice in your everyday life, practicing using them, testing yourself, your limits and finally finding the willpower to not give up when the worst of the worst happens. It's probably the hardest part of 'prepping', prepping your mind, but it is possible and, once again, it's not all work and no play. I promise you we will have fun with this one! Seriously, once you have found the joy of, for example, being able to survive by yourself out in the jungle/forest/desert for a week you will never turn back. I promise.

So to round off, this really is a sort of 'introduction' to a set of articles Josh and I wrote and will release over the coming two weeks, covering some very basic aspects of the 'mindset' and giving you a few skills to start you off. We've got a bit on getting fit, some stuff on getting out of a bad situation alive and even a little on what to do if someone decides they'd like to steal your lunch money.

See you there


Saturday, 11 June 2011

Getting started... a few things to note before you begin

When it comes to prepping fools rush in and in the world of prepping there are a lot of fools. Fools like the ones who blow thousands on really expensive kit they will never use. Other fools who fall prey to the multitude of scams out there that are just ready to reel in the gullible idiot and sell them some snake oil in the shape of a few tones of outdated 'lifeboat rations' and a spork. Yet more fools not only rush in but they rush out again, with their 'lifeboat rations' and spork as all they have to show for it. You don't want this do you?

Yes, the world of prepping has produced a lot of fools.... so, before you begin your journey here are a few things to note:

The first is that prepping is not easy.

The second is that it's not hard either.

It's somewhere in the middle.

Nice huh?

But seriously it's not easy but it *is* doable. I'm going to prove via this blog that anyone can do it, even me, and they can do it without breaking the bank, mortgaging the house and spending the kids college fund. I don't have much cash floating around myself and damn it if I'm spending it all for you (I love you all really). I'm also, I promise, going to make it fun.

Anyway, where were we... ah yes, a few things to note. Well, it's not going to be easy as I say, it's also going to be fun but there are going to be some boring times too. There are also times where you are going to want to give up big time for whatever reason so be ready for that. And don't expect instant gratification, doesn't work that way people. You're going to have to sink some time into this new hobby, not a huge amount but time none the less.

You are also going to get some funny looks when you start storing two months of food under your bed and carry a bag of useful stuff around. Trust me, I get stares when I bring my First Aid Kit out and so will you ('what?! You have stuff so you can save someones life in your backpack?? How stupid!!'). Ignore it, people just can't understand your awesomeness.

That's not to say everyone will laugh, you'll make some friends too. I will be setting up some sort of club in the near future so all us 'weirdos' can get together and compare lifeboat rations and sporks. And we can, I don't know, go hiking? Camp? It'll be like your National Service all again but without goofy uniforms and leaky tents and food poisoning (I hope).

But yes, before you start you have to realize that this will take some commitment. You have to prepare your mind and body as well as your surroundings and it will not be easy. Think about that before you read any more of my stuff.

There really is a lot of prepping to do before you can prep isn't there?


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Starting your First Aid Kit

Introducing our first guest writer Josh H. Josh is a man of many talents and will be writing a lot of articles in the near future on a variety of topics; for this article he runs over the basics of setting up your own First Aid kits. I've left most of it untouched and unedited but please, I want to stress that this is only about setting up your kit. 

You wanna know how to use this stuff without sticking holes in yourself or gluing your eyes shut? Yes, I do know of people gluing their eyes shut! Just contact your nearest Red Cross/Red Crescent/St Johns/Scout Troop/Girl Guides/ or whatever and get yourself a decent First Aid course before you do anything stupid. They are normally cheap if not free, easy to accomplish, a bit of a laugh and these days you don't normally even have to do mouth to mouth with a plastic doll (a vital skill if you want to be prepared BTW, you have no idea how many plastic dolls get injured out there). If you have trouble finding a course in your area contact me and I'll try and sort you out. 

Anyway, over to you Josh...

            Depending on where you live and what you do, your chances of getting shot range from "very slim" to "take cover". Regardless of where you live, though, the probability of you being injured at some point in your lifetime hovers somewhere between 99 and 100%, unless you live in a bubble (stay away from hills and stairs).

            Your needs are going to differ depending on the skills you have, and whether you go hunting, to a shooting range, or live/work in or around an area that can easily turn into a two-way range.

            For those of you that go hunting, to a shooting range, work in law enforcement or live/work somewhere that's less than stable (if the country is single digits on the Wikipedia list of failed states, that's a pretty decent indicator), you're going to need something capable of plugging the holes in yourself so you can stay alive and keep sharing the love and returning the favor.
Kits of this type are commonly referred to as BOK (Blow Out Kit) or IFAK (Improved/Individual First Aid Kit). If you aren't at risk for being shot, skip ahead. However, it's a good idea to read all this anyway since lots of this stuff can be used for other wounds.

            Here's what you'll need (besides the training in how to use this stuff so you don't do more harm than good):

1) Something to carry all the stuff. Usually a small-mid sized MOLLE pouch suffices. You can't really go wrong with a 100 round SAW drum pouch, but there are more specialized pouches out there, if you've got money to burn.

2) Two or three tourniquets. There are a few kinds that are really proven and those are SWAT-T, CAT, and TK4.

3) Trauma bandage. At least one. Preferably two. Can't go wrong with the old school Israeli dressing (except they have some new PC name now), but there are other options, such as the Oales, which has more options at a similar price point.

4) 2x gauze. Or, if you've got the chops, money to burn, and a real need (or just money to burn) you can score some QuikClot Combat Gauze and cut down on your need for an extra hemostatic.

5) Chest seals. HALO seals are the new seal of choice, but Ashermann seals are still around. In a pinch, you can even use the wrapper from the bandage and some duct tape.

6) NPA + lube. That stands for nasopharyngeal airway. You can take these out of the wrapper to save space and use a rubber band to keep the lube with the NPA (you can also use spit, blood, or water if you don't have any lube).

7) 14g angiocath. If you need this, make damn sure you know how to use it, because if someone was shoving catheters into MY chest and didn't know what to do, they had better HOPE I don't make it. Make sure it's long enough to fit into the pleural cavity. 3" should suffice.

General/optional (but suggested) kit:
-Sharpie; black or blue.
-Trauma shears; 7"
-Duct tape
-Alcohol and Iodine prep pads (two of each should suffice)
-Safety pins
-Nitrile exam or dishwashing gloves (sure, blue, purple, or yellow aren't super tactical, but it's a lot easier to see if there's blood on your hands from a swipe)

            For everyone else that's at less of a risk for getting shot, you can skip most of the above stuff and pick up here. To give you an idea of a relatively comprehensive, compact FAK, this is my bicycling FAK.

I use a County Comm pocket organizer for mine.
I have a pair of 7" trauma shears behind the pouch and a SAM splint in the front mesh pocket.
Contents from top left are as follows:
1x sunscreen
1x bandage
2x Steri-Strips
7x butterfly closures
1x roll of Coban wrap
1x hydrocortisone
2x non-aspirin
1x antibiotic ointment
1x roll of gauze
1x bug juice
1x fingertip bandage
5x bandaids
2x Benadryl
1x 5x9 dressing
2x knuckle bandages
1x condom
The cigar tin and small bag are for holding all the stuff inside the pouch
1x Waterjel
1x Biofreeze
2x alcohol prep pad
1x insect sting relief
1x poison ivy/oak/sumac towelette
5x Pepto
2x 4x4 gauze pads
2x foreceps
1x tweezers
1x bandage scissors
1x cigar tube (aspirin)
Various pens, pencils, and markers

That's not to say, though, that everything I have there is what you need to carry. When it comes to general FAKs, you don't really need as specific of a list as for a BOK/IFAK because you're not getting shot at, and your potential injuries are more dependant on your environment and what you're doing. If you have no idea where to start still, you could go to Walmart or a sporting goods store, pick up a wilderness first aid kit, and then just add and subtract as needed.

Some of you might be thinking "Yeah, well, hey. That's cool and all, but I don't really feel like carrying a man purse or backpack around with me all day, and I'm definitely not gonna go rockin' the fanny pack or a bat belt. Whacha got for me?"
Well. Okay. Let's get bare bones.

Go down to your local gas station. Look for a plastic cigarette case with a top that slides all the way off and has no dividers. They're about two bucks.

What we have here is the cigarette case, two 4x4 gauze pads, a roll of Coban, a pack of Steri-Strips, two 2x2 combine dressings, a 1" roll of gauze, burn cream, sprain cream, antibiotic cream, and a packet of aspirin.
Fold everything (but the Coban) up inside of the 4x4 gauze pads.
Stick it all in the case.
Wrap Coban around the case.

Congratulations. You now have a bare bones first aid kit that's about the same size as a pack of smokes that'll fit easily in a pocket and hold up to being sat on.
Sure, the last two aren't much good for severe trauma, but if you require more than what's in them, then the best thing you could have is a cell phone, because you need an ambulance.

Josh H is our over caffeinated chain smoking American Corespondent

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Getting started... what is prepping and why should I prep?

Prepping is, as mentioned before, the 'art' of preparing yourself for an disaster and giving yourself a fighting chance to survive if something bad happens. For instance, 'preppers' may stockpile food and other supplies in their houses in case they get cut off during an earthquake, they may ensure their car has enough food and water if they get stuck somewhere becuase of a flood or it may be something as simple as carrying a first aid kit in case they come across an injured person. They also learn skills that will help them if something bad does happen and many preppers provide a service to their community through, for example, joining volunteer agencies such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent society or local Emergency Radio clubs, both to add additional skills and from a want to help others who are less prepared.

But why should you prep? The simple answer is that the world we live in is unfortunately not a very stable place. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, riots; these are all examples of large scale disasters that can turn our lives upside down. And the trouble is, they can happen at any time of the day, anywhere and anyhow. Look at Japan recently; a developed nation torn apart by a disaster that was over in seconds, that no one expected to happened to them and that took the lives of many, destroying the lives of many more it didn't kill. The Boxing Day Tsunami a few years ago? Some communities never recovered from that tragedy. Earthquakes and floods in Pakistan? Again, devastation on a huge scale. How about, just these few weeks, the huge tornadoes in the USA? Again, lives ripped apart by an act of nature that no one can control.

You may not be able to control nature, but what you can do is control your survival once everything goes upside down. Contrary to popular belief, and please correct me if I am wrong, most casualties and deaths from a disaster are not from the disaster itself, rather they come in the days and weeks that follow as people die or get injured trying to survive in their shattered communities. You can prevent this by preparing yourself should this happen to you. And let's be blunt here, it can happen to you.

But prepping doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, it can be, dare I say it F-U-N. Yes, really! You can integrate it into your life and make the most of it, it can become a very addictive hobby. For instance, lots of prepping is about making sure you have the skills to survive, for instance first aid, repair skills and so on. You can easily take an interest you already have and add it to your prepping adventure. For instance I love first aid, biulding electronics and fixing stuff so I've spent time learning how to look after casualties, maintain a radio set and fix car engines, all of which will be useful skills should my community be hit by an earthquake. Prepping also involves a lot of outside stuff in many cases, so if you're that sort of person it's defiantly for you. And even if you are not, plenty of preppers chose to spend their time inside, maintaining stockpiles or learning skills. There is, I think, something for everyone.

So, join me on our little prepping adventure, I'll try and keep it fun, you can all laugh at my stupid mistakes and we can all learn something that, just maybe, will save our lives should the worst of the worst happen.