Back in February of 2015 I posted a ramble on what it means to be a prepper, and, though I personally don’t consider myself to be one, how being prepared for emergencies just makes sense to me. In that same vein, I’ve recently been asked at various gun & knife shows about items for what is referred to as a “Bug Out” bag or kit which has sent me thinking.
As I mentioned in my previous ramble, I really don’t expect the government to suddenly go into a melt down leaving us stuck in some weird post-apocalyptic world straight out of a Mad Max movie or maybe Stephen King’s “The Stand”; but you don’t have to be that paranoid to see the advantages in a properly prepared emergency kit. Just as an example, let’s say you and your family are out camping in some area similar to the Nantahala Gorge area of North Carolina and you break an axle on your car. There’s no cell phone service in most of the gorge, and you could very well be looking at a hike of 30 miles or more to get to someone’s house where you might be able to convince them to let you use their phone. Or maybe you find yourself stuck in a bad winter storm like they say is going to hit most of the eastern seaboard tonight and you run off the road into a ditch out in the middle of nowhere. I can almost guarantee that EMS is going to be overloaded; and even if they’re not, no ambulance driver worth his name is going to go tearing around at 80 miles an hour during a storm like that! In either case you could easily find yourself stuck with only the things you have with you for anywhere from an hour or two to a couple of days, and then a bug out kit won’t seem so silly now will it? Well, okay, the name still seems a bit out in left field so let’s call it an emergency kit. When all’s said and done, that’s really what it is after all. But what should you have in your emergency kit? That’s the real question now, isn’t it.
Personally, I feel one should start with a first aid kit of some sort. Of course I’ve been in the medial field in one way or another for over 35 years now, so that may influence my thinking in some small way, LOL. Still, it does make sense to start with a first aid kit. After all, if you or some member of your party is hurt, that can seriously jeopardize any chance of survival; not only for the one hurt, but for the entire party as well. But what short of things should go into a good first aid kit? That depends in part on you, but only in part. For starters, a good first aid kit should be able to cover any possible injury you are likely to receive, which is what makes it depend on you. If you are a single person who never leaves the city, a small collection of band aids and a bit of Neosporin (or other antibiotic cream) might serve you just fine. However I suspect that particular type of person is not a regular reader of my rambles. No, what I suspect is that you love the out doors and are normally heading out on your days off with either your family or a group of friend to do some outdoor related activity, whether that be camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, or white water rafting. And if I’m right, then you’re going to need a first aid kit as rugged as you are. So what should you look for? Well for starters, forget band aids and dinky little 2inch x 2 inch gauze pads. About the only use you’ll have for them are to cover any splitters you might get unless you happen to have a small child in you group. Instead look for a kit that has a decent number of 4 inch square gauze pads as well as some rolls of gauze bandaging for when medical tape just ain’t gonna cut it! It wouldn’t hurt to have some bigger stuff as well, such as 8”x10” multi-trauma pads, plus a few triaglar bandages for when you need a sling or to tie together a splint. Another item would be some ace bandages for when someone sprains an ankle or twists their knee. Then there’s such things as handiwipes to clean off you hands, alcohol wipes for cleaning woulds, and the never to be forgotten triple biotic ointment. A decent pair of bandage scissors and maybe a pair of tweezers shouldn’t be sneezed at, but if you have a good EDC knife you could get away without them. Some pain killers are a definite must though, and it wouldn’t hurt to have some water purification tablets as well.
So, you’ve got your first aid kit ready now (or at least know what to look for), but what else should you have in this emergency kit? Well the fastest killer of people lost in the geat outdoors is hypothermia, and it doesn’t have to be winter for that to happen. All it really takes if for you to get wet when the temperature is on the cool side and have no way to get warm or to dry off. So in the interest of saving space and weight, I’d add either a “space blanket” or one the new biviacs based on that same material. Either one will give you something extremely light and easy to carry that will also keep you warm even when the temperature drops below freezing. For the same reason I would add either a good heavy fixed blade knife that could be used to bolide wood, a machete, or a good camp ax, a container of dry material that will serve as kindling, and either a bic lighter or water proof matches.
So now we’ve got a first aid kit to take care of any injuries, and a way to get shelter and a fire going; is that all we need? Not hardly my friend. There’s still such thing to consider as food, water, how to figure out where you are and which way to go if you need to hike out, a way to signal searchers if and when someone comes looking for you, and communications. However this ramble is starting to get a bit ling, so I’ll let you think about this a a bit and hopefully I'll see you next week in this little corner of mine here in cyberspace. Until then keep safe, and remember, anything worth doing should be done with attitude!
Here it is, just one short week after being discharged from the hospital after being treated for Respiratory Failure, and I find myself sitting in my mother's dim hospital room listening to her cough and waiting for her to finally fall asleep as the hour slowly creeps farther and farther past midnight. At the same time my daughter is home suffering from strep throat and my son is asking his mom why his daddy isn't home again. Doesn't daddy love us as much any more seems to be the way his mind is trending, and I'm at a loss to explain things to him.
Time and again we are reminded that actions speak louder than words, but when your child is on the Autistic Spectrum this blithe little truism that we give so much lip service to without ever really considering it's reality takes on a whole new meaning; for when a child struggles with verbal communication the way my son does actions really do mean more to his world view than words ever could. So how do I explain to him how sick I was, or how sick grandma is? He can't see respiratory distress in a way that allows him to understand how serious it is unless he gets that sick himself, and even then he might or might not be able to make the connection between what he experienced and what others are going through. If he does, that still leaves Grandma's obvious confusion. It's a somewhat distasteful fact of life that illness in the elderly often causes what is referred to as "Altered Mental Status". Indeed, more patients over the age of seventy come in to the emergency room suffering from serious confusion as a result of a urinary tract infection than do those who have suffered a stroke! Admittedly, it is a huge relief to know that your loved one will recover as the underlying illness is treated, but oh the agony of listening to a loved one who was just days ago more articulate than anyone around struggle to find the words they need to express even the simplest need or want. Even worse is when they start getting paranoid and accuse you of trying to put them away for some reason that makes absolutely no sense to you at all. You know that they don't really mean what they're saying and that it's just the illness talking. You tell yourself to just be patient and maybe they won't remember all the hateful things they've said when they recover, yet all the while each word is another knife to your heart; a sly, stiletto like cut that slips through your defenses like a master assassin. And you wonder how much worse hearing such things from his beloved grandmother could be for your poor, bewildered son who has always known his grandma as a pillar of peace and tranquility in a world often run a muck. And as the clock softly strikes 1:00, you prayerfully bow your head in shamed relief that the late hour has kept that scenario from coming to pass as of yet, a relief tempered, perhaps even poisoned in a way by the knowledge that this all could repeat itself tomorrow when your son is around to hear it.
Then there is the question of what happens when they discharge her home. Will she be recovered enough that the outbursts are just a bad memory, or will she still get worse as the sun goes down and the long shadows of days end stretch before you just as she's done each night she's been a patient here? And what of those hours when both you and your wife must be at work at the same time? Up until now you could relax in the knowledge that if something happened while you were away, she would be there to handle any emergencies and see that her grandson was safe and unharmed. But now? Will she be recovered enough that you can once again feel secure in the safety of your autistic child? Or will you need to find a sitter that can handle both of them while you're away? And if you do, how are you going to pay for it? Yes, Medicare will pay for a certain amount of in-home care; but their definition of what is necessary and appropriate will almost certainly not include your child's needs, or yours for that matter. And so you peer blurredly at web sites of sitters on your smart phone, and silently curse at the $15.00 an hour rate charged by the cheapest of the sitters who are bonded and have the necessary background to set your mind at ease; for at those rates you may as well call off from work since most, if not all, of your after tax pay will go directly to the sitter. Yet no matter how understanding your boss, there will come a time when you'll either have to go back to work or become unemployed at a time when fewer and fewer full time positions are to be had in any field.
And so your mind continues in a worn out circle, like a broken down merry go round as your body reminds you that you still haven't recovered from your own illness yet. Well aware that you're probably making a mountain out of a mole hill, but too weary to stop. And that dear reader is where you find me now, grimly determined to find a way out of this even though I know I'm slowly driving myself right back to where I was just a week and a half ago. But the soft, even breaths coming from my mom's bed tell me she's finally asleep, and so I must bid thee adieu and get what sleep I can tonight. With luck, the break of day will bring new ideas and new hopes on how we can deal with this. So fair well until we meet again in this little corner of cyberspace.