Thursday, February 19, 2015

That Nagging Feeling- The Extreme Cold

The last few winters here in the midwest have been brutal to say the least. The last 3 years have seen enough extreme cold weather that most of the people I know with ponds on their property have had to restock due to all the fish dying when the water was covered in ice too deep for too long. Last night was one of those nights that makes you want to curl up by the fire and not move. -17 for a low with -26 wind chill. We only have about 4 inches of snow, luckily.

Unfortunately, I was tasked with my regular scheduled class at a site 20 miles from my home. Normally this wouldn't have bothered me, but I've been remodeling a few rooms in my house and had my bags removed from my truck in order to carry fragile items inside the cab. They are still in the truck due to ice in my driveway. So there I was, 20.6 miles from home, no bags, not much cold weather gear, and the only survival gear I had were the tools in my tool box and a flex fuel stove.

On the drive home, I was fixated with my unprepared situation. It really bugged me that I wasn't ready in case of an accident or incident. The extreme cold would generally suppress civil unrest or a possible car jacking, but an EMP or car accident would have really ruined my day. My nearest Cache (Grey Man) is about 9 miles from the class location and about 5 from the current location. In -7 degree weather, nearly impossible to walk to without injury. It would also take me further from my  home. It would add 4.5/5 miles to my walk home to go there first. It's also not outfitted for this situation. It has no food or water. Quite the conundrum I had myself in had something happened.

I challenged myself to determine what I would do if an EMP had hit and disabled my truck about a mile from where I was at the time, right in the heart of a major city. Shelter would have been my biggest issue. The stretch of interstate I was on had high banks and a large fence surrounding it. I could get through it, but the residential neighborhood in that area is a crap shoot. I'm sure I could have found an abandoned house somewhere in the mix and built a fire from the structural wood with the tools I have available. One of my favorite tools is the Dead On wrecking bar. Dead-On-AN18-Annihilator This and a few hand tools (11in 1 screwdriver, channel lock pliers, side cuts) would have gotten me into a house and to obtain enough wood to heat a small room, as well as bust an opening for smoke to exit. I would have used a bathtub or sink as the fire pit. My small propane torch would have done a great job lighting the fire. A refrigerator door or any metal appliance door or panel can be used to contain the fire. I could make a sleeping system from insulation batts and the contractor trash bags from the truck. I would have been ok for the night.

The next morning, long after sunrise, I would have headed back tot he truck to grab a few more personal items and headed out to my next closest Cache location, right about 6 miles from my truck at that point. 4 miles would have been walking down the highway and the rest would be side roads. Once I was at that location, I would fuel up with some mountain house meals and coffee/water. My kit there has everything I need to melt the ice or snow for a needed drink. I'd have used small amounts of snow in my mouth to minimally hydrate. The walking/jogging would allow enough heat to do this without lowering my body temp substantially. After assessing the condition of the situation at that location, I could decide to either take those people to my house for refuge, or strike out for home alone, 6.6 miles away.

On the way home, I'd hit the grocery stores that area adjacent to the road. There are 3 of them and one is a member only store. This comfort Cache that I have access to is relatively small and only has a couple hundred dollars in it and no weapon. My good old LCP in my pocket would have to do. I'd grab any groceries I could and would roll a cart right towards home. I'd wrap the groceries in a black contractor bag to disguise them as much as possible. Once home, I'd put my plan into action and batten down the hatches for a rough ride. The bad thing about this situation is that I'm in the middle of cycling my fuel. I have 1/2 my regular fuel load for my generator. It might last 2 weeks. Unprepared because my dumb self decided it was too cold to pump gas into the containers.

The point of this exercise was to challenge myself to overcome a situation with what I had at hand. Had my regular kit been in the truck, things would have been much easier. Not all situations are ideal. I'm sure there are times when you've had to leave your kit at home to fit large items into your vehicle for transport. Maybe you take a ride with a friend who's not prepared. Life is full of choices and situations that we cannot always dictate or prepare for.

The fact that my kit wasn't in the truck unnerved me, and changed my mindset a bit. I was more cautious than normal and didn't deviate from my course until I was near my neighborhood. I then grabbed a few groceries and headed home, less than a mile away. I might have also spent a few more dollars than I normally would have.

I've also decide to keep a few extra things in my truck from now on. I'll be keeping a stainless bottle in it all the time. I'm also considering keeping a burner phone in there as well.

Challenge yourself in order to keep yourself from becoming complacent. When that little voice in the back of your head speaks, listen. Something needs to be addressed if your subconscious mind notices there is a problem. Complacency can make it hard to recognize the issues you may run into until the incident happens. I read a lot of survival fiction (about 50 books last year) and constantly put myself in the shoes of the characters to see the different choices I would make, or what different gear I would have to help me deal with the situation. Your imagination can be your biggest asset while planning for trouble.

You can even make a game of it. Write down all the places you regularly go, then write down all the possible scenarios that can cause you trouble. Be sure to include every day issues like flat tires, broken down vehicle, sickness and any other inconveniences. Write down your Caches and kits on slips of paper. Fold all the slips of paper and put the places in one pile, major issues in a second pile and regular issues in another pile. Draw one of each and consider how you would deal with them. It would be like- Aunt Mae's house/80 miles from home, Civil unrest, Engine trouble, Get home bag. Make a plan to deal with those issues. If your family can get involved, this is a great game to help them understand the mindset and get them started in doing their own thinking on the subject of preparedness.

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