LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
PLAN - Escape Pod
Let's start with the 60 Second Checklist. You won't have time in the 60 Seconds to read the checklist, but let's have it for reference. If survival is not a kit, it's not a checklist either. The checklist is just a tool we use to organize our thoughts and make our plans efficient. Here is the 60 Second Checklist. It's part of our Workbook.
We're going to create our 1 Hour Checklist as we go along. The 1 Hour Plan is still an escape plan. We are trying to leave as fast as possible, but we have some additional time to secure our homes. The first order of business, actually, is to talk about your Escape Pod - your car. In some circumstances - like living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, you aren't going to be going anywhere. The considerations for your vehicle will be minor - unless you have a big yacht, but we aren't going to cover that here. For most of us who need to drive away - like to get away from hurricanes - our vehicle becomes our escape pod. It also becomes our home away from home.
I do not personally own a dedicated BOV. I will be leaving town in the same car I drive every day back and forth to work - and so will you. This is assuming that you have a car at all. If you do not, then your mode of transportation will control the shape that your 1 Hour Plan takes. I know people who do not drive. I know people who cannot drive. If you fall into those categories, it is wise to make some kind of arrangement to get a ride with someone who is like minded. Otherwise, you will have to depend on the Federal Bus Tour, and we already know how reliable that is.
I use a car, though, and so I'm going to talk about that for a little bit.
Your car, as I said, is your Escape Pod. That's kind of funny because I own a Ford Escape, and that's the vehicle I used to evacuate for Katrina. My wife owns a Honda Element. Both are good BOVs in a pinch. When you buy any vehicle, look at it with the idea in your head that this may be your escape pod. Is it suitable for the purpose? Is there room for your entire family? Some families are larger than others...
Your vehicle represents wealth. It has cash value, no matter how small, but it also has the value of being able to take you away from a disaster zone quickly. Transportation is a kind of wealth. Taxi companies would not stay in business otherwise. You should always maintain your vehicle so that you are comfortable that you can put it on the road instantly, and you can get at least 100 miles out of it. Before I bought the Escape, I always had crappy vehicles but they were mechanically sound, and I never had a problem driving long distances in them. You should learn to maintain your vehicle. You should learn where the dip stick is. You should know how to read it. You should know how to add oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. These things are not difficult to learn. Read your owner's manual.
If we are going to use our vehicle as an escape pod, it is a good idea to have certain things in it at all times, ready to go. If you have more than one vehicle in your family, try to plan to take as many of them as you can. This goes against the government recommendation to only take one, but there are several reasons which we'll cover before too many more pages go by. For now, plan to have what we are talking about for every vehicle.
The primary thing to have in your vehicle is fuel in the gas tank. Trying to buy gasoline while everyone else is trying to buy gasoline is a real nightmare. Conventional wisdom says to never let your tank drop below 1/4. I don't usually let mine drop below 1/2. Sometimes, though, it happens. You drive around after a hard day at work, get the kids, go to the store, and by the time you manage to make it home you just don't feel like stopping to get gas. So, for every vehicle you own, you should have a 5 gallon gas can full of gasoline so that you can fuel your vehicle as part of your 1 Hour Plan. You should rotate this gasoline every so often - at least once a year - by pouring it into your tank and then refilling it with fresh gasoline.
Let's talk about our BOV Checklist. This topic is done ad-nausea everywhere. There are whole websites devoted to car 'kits'. We already know, however, that SURVIVAL IS NOT A KIT! I can't believe I'm actually going to do it, but let's go over provisioning your car. I'd hate for you to go somewhere else and get bad information. As previously, however, what I do works for me in my context and location. It doesn't snow here. Black ice in the hammer lane just isn't a problem that I have to deal with. If your conditions are radically different than mine, then modify the checklist. This is not an exhaustive list. If there is something you think you need, then get it. Avoid gadgets, cheap junk, and the temptation to buy things off QVC.
1. Vehicle well maintained.
This is key. A vehicle that doesn't go anywhere isn't much of an escape pod. If you break down on the side of the road, you will be at the mercy of strangers. Know your vehicle's maintenance intervals. If you cannot afford to pay someone you trust to maintain it, learn to do it yourself. Replace your battery every five years, even if it seems fine. Maintaining a vehicle can be expensive sometimes - but failing to maintain it and ending up in a government camp is even more expensive.
2. 5 gallon gas can, full.
If you do nothing else, do this. A car with no gas isn't much of an escape pod either. Do not ever travel with the can (full or empty) inside the passenger compartment. Putting it in the trunk may be OK, but it's better to attach it to the outside of your car somehow. A roof rack is good for this...
3. Good spare tire, jack, and tire tool.
Or two. Post Katrina, the #1 vehicle problem was flat tires from all the roofing nails. There is no reason not to have a good spare, jack and lug wrench. Cars are supposed to come with them.
4. Fix-A-Flat and/or portable air pump. Tire plugs.
Fix-A-Flat is a product that comes in a can. You screw the little hose onto the valve of a flat tire, and the can will inflate the tire and plug the leak - if the leak isn't too large. They're cheap. Have two. I also like to keep a small, portable, 12 volt air pump that runs off the vehicle's cigarette lighter receptacle. If the air pump does not have one, you will want a tire gauge as well. These things can all be had at any auto parts store on the cheap. Tire plugs can be bought as a kit with the tools. Read the instructions. Tire plugs are a Grace of the Lord. Get some.
5. Jumper cables
Everyone should always have jumper cables. You should read your owner's manual to make sure that you know the proper connection points. Spend real money and get good ones. I've seen cheap ones melt under load... In a pinch, jumper cables make a handy torture device, so you can always threaten the children if they won't shut up with the, "Are we there YET!?" stuff.
6. Small tool box with assorted tools
If you are a natural born auto mechanic, you will already know what you need. If you are not good with tools, have some pliers, screwdrivers, a good wrench, and a decent socket set.
7. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid
Again, the natural auto mechanics will know what to do. You should have at least two quarts of oil, two quarts of transmission fluid, and at least one gallon of coolant. Refer to your owner's manual to find out the right kind to buy. I like to keep all these in the back of my vehicle in a milk crate that I got from the neighborhood milk crate fairy.
8. Spare fuses, radiator hose tape, and other parts that you are comfortable changing.
Refer to your owner's manual. If you are very handy, you can buy whatever you like. Having spare belts and hoses is never a bad idea. If nothing else, you should get at least one roll of hose tape - available at auto stores. Some people will want to add to this list. I once changed a head gasket on the side of the road in my Honda Civic when I was young and industrious. If you don't know what a head gasket is, then you shouldn't mess with it.
For me, rain is a consideration, so I like to keep at least one good umbrella in the car. Climatic conditions in your area will dictate to you what you want to keep in this regard. Snowshoes? I have no idea. Tire chains, and all kinds of other snow and ice gear don't mean anything to me here. If you don't know what to do, find a local survival nut and ask him (or her).
You may also want a rain suit, poncho, or something else, but I have always found the umbrella handy.
I like to keep a medium to large backpack in the car. This is a second BOB, and contains a change of clothing for each member of the family. You can use a duffel bag or small suitcase. If we escape the house naked, we'll have something to put on. Running around wrapped in a sheet and trying to say that you are going to a toga party isn't really funny when SHTF. The backpack has other uses. If you end up on foot, the backpack can carry items of value. Some people call this a GHB or Get Home Bag. You may put additional items in this bag, but avoid catching the Go-Go-Gadget backpack syndrome. It's handy if your laptop bag fits in the backpack.
Two kinds. One, a sturdy pair of work gloves. You should also have a few pairs (or a box) of surgical gloves. These are very handy for changing tires, checking oil, and to help you clean up your 3 month old daughter's vomit out of the car seat. Mmmm... Corn... These can be had cheaply almost anywhere. You can always steal some on your next doctor's visit. They also are great for inflating like balloons and drawing faces on. This serves the dual purpose of entertaining the kids and also making the people at rest stops think you are some kind of freak and so they leave you alone.
12. Baby wipes
Before I had children, I did not appreciate the utility of baby wipes. They are useful for just about everything, and when you end up with monkey butt* from not having a bath for a day or three, they can provide a certain freshness. You didn't really want to hear that, did you? Whatever kind you get, try to get them without perfume or lotion. As plain as you can get. Keep them in a Ziploc freezer bag so that they don't dry out. They are constantly handy. Just don't try to clean windows with them.
13. Claw Hammer
You never know when you will be invited to a hammer party...right? A hammer is one of those ubiquitous tools. There's just something inherently useful about a chunk of steel on a stick. A hammer can get you into places, get you out of places, and ranks second only to the ubiquity of a hatchet. Get one. I like a good claw type framing hammer.
14. WD40 & Duct Tape
As the theory goes, if it moves and shouldn't, use the tape. If the doesn't move and should, use the WD40. I don't actually carry WD40 any more. I carry Break Free CLP. Miracle product.
15. Road flares or triangle markers.
I carry triangle markers now. Road flares might cause a fire, or even better, an explosion. Or is that supposed to be 'even worse'? I get confused... Some kind of warning and signal device can save lives. There are some battery powered warning 'flares' now, but the cheap ones are too cheap, and the good ones are too expensive. Get some triangle markers, and you're good to go.
16. MREs.(Meal, Ready to Eat)
I addition to providing calories, MREs have gum, matches, and instant coffee. MacGyver would know what to do with that.
17. Fire Extinguisher
Don't escape a house fire just to watch all the stuff you saved burn up in your car. Keep a good one, and keep it handy. If you have to fish around in the trunk for it while the car burns, that's not going to end well.
Useful for snow and mud operations. Remember: Friends know where the bodies are buried. Good friends bring a shovel. You can get a 'trench' tool from army surplus on the cheap.
19. Piece of old carpet.
Line your trunk or back of your SUV or station wagon with a piece of cut carpet. I like to use shag in crazy colors. It is useful for sitting on, crawling under the car on, or for getting you out of snow and mud in a pinch.
20. Cell phone charger.
Keep those comms running!
21. Windshield washer fluid.
Maybe. I don't carry this. I'll put plain water in if I need to. Some people say this is useful in areas where they put salt on the road.
22. Insect repellant
If you wind up in a buggy area, they will eat you alive before you ever get the tire changed.
23. Roll of plastic-wrap (such as Saran-wrap)
If a window motor gives out, or gets stuck open, or a window is broken somehow, you can wrap plastic wrap around the door to cover the opening. Use the whole roll. Yes, it's temporary, but it beats driving home in the rain or snow with no window.
24. Drinking water.
This is very important in arid regions, especially in the summer. I carry a little at all times, but I don't have any danger of thirst. I'm less than a mile from the largest source of fresh water in the Americas. If I don't want to walk, I just wait 15 minutes and it rains. It's raining now...
25. Two towels.
Not optional. Get some.
26. Tow Strap
Be aware that not all tow straps are created equal. Make sure you get one that is rated for the weight of your vehicle.
I prefer LED headlamps, like the Princeton Tec Aurora headlamp. A headlamp is a very useful light because once on your head, both hands are free to do things that hands do.
I realize at this point that I need to take a bunch of pictures and insert them into this page, but it's nearly midnight and raining outside so that will have to wait.
Let's talk about what you should not do, because that's important too. Don't just dump all of this crap into your trunk and let it all roll around in there for the rest of time. It's not going to do you any good like that. You also shouldn't assemble it as a 'kit'. Put things where you need them. The fire extinguisher should be handy at all times, for instance. Resist the temptation to buy 'gadgets' for the car. They waste money and you don't need them. We'll come back to the actual organization of the car as we go through the rest of the Plans. For now, just start working on the checklist and we'll come back to it. For now, let's get into the 1 Hour Plan, and see where that leads.
Some people are going to go beyond this, and some way beyond this. If you have a Winnebago or other travel camper, that can obviously work for you. So can a small travel trailer, or even a little utility trailer. Most people do not own those things, though, and neither do I. I have kept this simple because I want to take baby steps with everyone. If you already have your armored bus put together, that's great. The rest of us, though are still working on HYST on the cheap.
*The most clever description of monkey butt that I have ever seen is, "monkey butt = ape a$$, it is a condition when sweat has maxed out on the dark side of your back side. The moisture no longer is wicked from the skin but remains in the valley of thunder and wind. The friction/heat created between the hills that make the valley of thunder and wind dries the surface on the valley floor to the extent that the floor is worked painfully dry. Some common factors that may cause this anomaly range from excessive thunder and wind in the valley floor to a misguided wipe by the sacred valley cloth. But the over riding factor in the cause of ape a$$ and monkey butt is moisture." If you have your ass cradled in a leather seat for 15 hours, you *will* experience this.