Friday, March 18, 2011

Emergency Bugout Thoughts...

Back in late January, I was one of the first responders to an "explosion with injuries" call. (It was later determined to be a home that had exploded, in which two people were severely injured and one 15 month old infant died in the resulting blaze.)

One of the very first things I noted on arrival at the scene was a strong odor of gas. We had to immediately evacuate neighbors from the area. They had NO TIME to grab personal possessions from their homes, they had to run, NOW! They couldn't even get in their vehicles to escape, they had to hoof it as quickly as they could and dressed as they were. (It was later determined that where I stood to photograph the initial shots of the scene, in front of one of the evacuated homes, was greater than 95% saturated with natural gas. Sorry, my photos are unavailable as they are being used as potential criminal evidence.)

That tells me a few things to note to my readers...

A. Be prepared to bugout on an instant's notice. Don't argue with or question the emergency response personnel, follow their direction immediately. Make a plan to bugout and practice the bugout. Have available a bugout bag, which is a a bag of essentials that you'll need for a day or three until you can muster assistance. Keep that bag where it can be grabbed immediately on exit. At an absolute minimum, your bag should include:

1. Clothing geared towards seasonal conditions.

2. A toiletry bag of essential personal hygiene items you use daily.

a. Consider adding a pair of shower shoes for sanitary purposes.

3. A computer flash drive containing prized photos, phone numbers and addresses of important contacts, insurance information, etc; so that you can recover those items from another computer. The drive should be password protected for security purposes. Use a password that you won't forget. You may want to further protect the flash drive by placing it in a waterproof, crush resistant, lockable container like an OtterBox 1000.

4. Personal medications that you need daily.

5. Spare personal items that you use daily that may have been left behind because you couldn't get to them. (My personal examples of this category would include a Swiss Army knife, a good LED flashlight, a good pen, a stainless water bottle and a bandana.) If you're packing for a child or pet, don't forget some mind occupying/comforting toys for them.

6. Cash and/or a prepaid debit/credit card.

7. Spare keys / keyring.

8. You may want to include wilderness survival essentials if your bugout plan requires extensive travel or travel to or through remote areas.

Strive to keep the prepared bags as light as possible. Twenty pounds doesn't sound like much weight until you've had to tote it all day. Think minimalistic. It may be helpful to take notes for a day or two as to just what you really do use on a daily basis.

B. Install early warning devices in your home. Carefully follow the manufacturer's directions for installation of the devices.

1. You should have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home that has a fuel burning appliance AND one within 15' of each bedroom.

2. You should have a smoke detector IN each bedroom and on each level of the home.

3. You should have a gas detector on each level that has a gas fired appliance.

C. Don't ignore potential danger. If you smell gas and/or if an early warning device alarm sounds; grab your bag, get out and retreat. Call 911.

The bottom line is this - you don't know how or when an emergency situation will occur which might require your evacuation. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Practical Minimalism, Another Attempt...

In my last post, I tried trimming down to manageable levels of gear. I thought I'd done a fair job. I carried that set-up for a few weeks. I became a tad dissatisfied with the loose gear clanking in my pockets. I was displeased with having to try to remember what was where. I was also somewhat uncomfortable with miniature items and being able to manipulate them in this cold weather. I needed some organization. I felt I could trim down a bit more and add items which were easily manageable with cold, wet digits.

Enter a leather pocket organizer that I'd had Spen from JRE Industries make for me a couple years ago...

The pouch is constructed of a heavy leather front to reduce pocket signature, with a sewn on suede back which forms the three pockets. The rough side of the suede is sewn inside, in order to add friction to hold items in the pockets in place. The pouch is approximately 4" by 4", with a slight taper from top to bottom. This allows it to fit inside trouser pockets and stay somewhat stationary. It works equally well in my cargo pockets or inner jacket pockets. In the pocket, it becomes nearly invisible.

Gear selection was fairly easy. I wanted to keep it light weight, with items that supported me 24/7, whether at work or play, in town or in the field. The main (knife) pocket will support a one or two layer Swiss Army Knife or a smallish lockblade. I opted for a single layer Victorinox Swiss Army Waiter model with an added eyeglass screwdriver and straight pin. The knife has proven itself quite capable in managing day to day chores, thus far. If I feel I need more knife, the pocket easily supports an alox Swiss Army Woodsman, Pioneer or Soldier model.

To fill the middle (flashlight) pocket, I had a wide variety of single AAA battery size flashlights to choose from. All fit fairly well. I selected a Fenix E01 for it's bulletproof construction and long battery life. It is a tad short, so I added to it a Traser tritium GlowRing. The GlowRing helps me find the light in lowlife conditions and it aids in drawing the light from it's pocket.

The last pocket had originally been designed to carry the mini Light My Fire firesteel. Having broken every one of the mini LMF's I have had, I looked for a better option. To fill that pocket, I selected the ExoTac Nano Fire Striker and an Inka pen. Together they fill the void perfectly. The ExoTac Nano is my preferred fire starting device for this application as it breaks down and screws into itself, thus protecting the ferrocerium rod from damage and from premature corrosion. It also carries and protects it's own striker. The ferro rod is a tad smallish, but it strikes easily and throws a decent spark for it's size. In as far as the Inka pen, well, I had it available and it fit. I needed a pen in the mix for my work. Thus far, the choice has been a great one, I was writing tickets with it this morning in -9 degree F weather conditions. It didn't skip and it wrote very smoothly. The Inka's tip was more than sufficient to press out the two copies required.

Something was missing and I didn't know what until reading Kevin Estela's recent slideshow on Urban Survival. I needed a lanyard! I raided Care's cordage supplies and made a lanyard that would easily attach to all of the previously mentioned implements...

The lanyard rides wrapped around the pouch, affixed only to itself and protected on the inside by the two filled pockets it rides between.

I've been carrying this setup for a couple weeks and am very satisfied. It has addressed all of my concerns with my previous carry options. The gear is handy and accessible. There is no question about what is where. I like it...


Friday, January 21, 2011

Practical Minimalism...

Two long trips to and from Virginia, one long trip to and from Maine, three long weeks of 100 miles per day patrol left me with a screaming sciatic nerve. A literal pain in the ass!

My solution? Other than mega doses of Aleve, I did a complete EDC (every day carry gear) re-evaluation and an evaluation of how the gear that remained would thence be carried.

I emptied my pockets of gear and took the few things that were on my belt off. I was 4 lbs lighter than two minutes before. I thought to myself, "That's plain nuts." Looking at the pile of gear; it contained no less than 4 different knives or multitools, a cell phone, wallet, 2 bandanas, a PSK (personal survival kit), a 1st Aid kit, a bottle of breath drops, two BIC lighters and two key rings loaded with gear that was made redundant by other pocketed items. Time to trim down - especially when you consider that I have a go-bag that travels with me 24/7/365 that carries a full sized SwissTool X multitool and a Blind Horse Knives Small Tiger Knapp fixed blade knife.

What had to stay with me? Wallet, bandanas, breath drops, one BIC lighter, ONE small knife or multitool, a small PSK geared up solely to enhance the skills I have and one keyring with NO or minimally redundant items.

I took everything out of my wallet and put in only what absolutely needed to be there - Driver's license, hunting/fishing license, pistol permits, medical insurance card and ONE debit card. Bandanas were a no-brainer - they stayed because there's too many practical uses for them on a daily basis and they're invalueable in an emergency. The little bottle of breath drops stayed because it keeps my raspy voice working. The cellphone stays because it's a valueable work tool and lifeline.

It took a couple weeks to pick a knife. I spent two weeks tracking what I used on the former pile of tools I carried. I determined, based on actual use of the items, that I most needed a locking blade, a medium screwdriver, a toothpick, a super small screwdriver and it had to have a means to attach a lanyard or watch chain. The blade needed to be long enough to cleanly slice summer sausage and wide enough to plop a huge dollop of canned pate onto a water cracker. Additionally, the knife had to fit into the watch pocket on my jeans and cargo pants. Lastly, when it was placed into my watch pocket, it could not interfere with my ability to draw a pistol from the main pocket. These determinations basically meant that I needed to select an 84 or 85mm Swiss Army knife with no more than two layers. Selection then became easy, there was only one that met all of my criteria above, that being a Wenger 85mm Evo S10 with a Victorinox eyeglass screwdriver mounted into the cork screw. It's weight is advertised as 1.9 ounces, but mine tips the postal scale at 1.9 ounces with the added-on screwdriver.

My Otterbox 1000 sized PSK and Witz ID locker 1st Aid kit went by the wayside. I selected a Sparklite sized translucent container for my new PSK. Whatever I really needed had to fit in. It does. I carry a small AMK signal mirror, cylinder shaped handmade brass whistle, pico sized photon type light, three sewing awls and threader, a travel sized roll of floss, a ferro rod and striker, some tinderquick, some post-it notes, a piece of pencil, a spare cuff key, fish hooks and sinkers, a spare toothpick and a SERE compass in a box that's 2.5" x 1.5" x 5/8". Weight is 2.1 ounces. The beauty of the container is that nearly all of the contents can be easily seen from the outside. I added a homemade ranger band to secure the container from accidental opening.

Nothing gets carried in back pockets except bandanas. They're for padding while tucked away. Everything else is divied up between cargo, front and watch pockets. The only item added to the mix is a homemade watch chain to secure the SAK from being accidentally dropped. It also adds a touch of class to the mix.

In as far as my keyring goes, all of the keys that see only occassional use and all of the redundant gear was stripped off. Remaining onboard is an Egear Doug Ritter Pico light, a small traser glow ring marking light, an ID tag, and a delrin space capsule with a couple day's worth of critical meds in it. The two full sized BIC lighters were replaced by one Mini BIC.

I feel much better now. Light and Airy. Practically minimalistic...

M :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Safety Info for Glock Owners...

Let me forward this by stating what some of my closer friends here already know - I have 20 years experience as a Glock Armorer and FBI/NYSP certified Firearms Instructor...

A few days ago, I was talking to one of the members of a local organization's safety team. He had purchased a new Glock .40 cal M23. He stated that he had gone shooting and needed some help with sight adjustment. He'd fired 26 rounds of "reloads" and was hitting wide left.

I asked what the reloads were and he stated they were "lead round nose."

I immediately told him not to fire any more and to meet me this morning to get the gun checked out and cleaned.


1. NEVER SHOOT RELOADS FROM A GLOCK. Doing so voids the warranty.

2. NEVER, NEVER, EVER SHOOT LEAD BULLETS THROUGH A GLOCK FACTORY BARREL. Glocks do not have traditional rifling, but a hexagonal profiled bore. Shooting lead bullets causes lead buildup in the bore. That buildup occurs VERY quickly and can cause chamber pressures to increase rapidly to the point of blowing up the gun.

I met my friend this am and inspected his Glock. He had fired a total of 26 rounds of lead round nose bullets through his Glock. The barrel was leaded so badly that I had to use a stainless brush to even begin to see the bore profile. Approximately 1" in front of the chamber, there was a distinct buldged ring in the barrel - rendering the weapon unsafe to fire under any circumstances. If he had fired even one or two more rounds, I am convinced that the weapon would have blown. That little lesson will cost him >$100 to buy a new barrel. At least it didn't cost the gun and damage to his hand or face!

If you own a Glock, DO NOT FIRE LEAD BULLETS through the factory barrel. If you have fired lead bullets, have the gun inspected by a certified armorer or gunsmith, asap...