Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preparedness: Introducing the Fifteen Essential Systems

As mentioned in my last post, issues were raised as I contemplated my 10-day car survival kit.

One issue was whether the Mountaineers Club's list of Ten Essential Systems can serve as a blueprint for preparedness whether for the home, car, workplace, or while traveling by air or on a road trip. I think it can. After all, it's a preparedness list for climbers, hikers, backpackers, and other people who enjoy the great outdoors who sometime find themselves in adverse conditions. It only needs to be adapted to suit other people and situations.

I've taken the liberty of rearranging the Ten Essential Systems, combining and adding to them to suit general preparedness issues. The result is the Fifteen Essential Systems as follows:

1. NAVIGATION - Being disoriented or not being able to figure out how to get to your desired destination is, at best, a momentarily uncomfortable experience. At worst, being lost forces us into survival mode and requires the rest of these Essential Systems. It's best to stay found and know where you're going.

2. PERSONAL ATTIRE - Since the leading cause of death in situations requiring Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts is from exposure, everything you can wear to avoid either hypothermia or hyperthermia, from long johns to sun hat, is in this system.

3. HYDRATION - The second leading cause of death in situations requiring a SAR effort is dehydration. Not only do you need water, you need to know how to make water safe for drinking.

4. SHELTER - In most cases, this is your home, vehicle, motel, boat, or tent; but may be a garbage bag, bivy sack, lean-to, or snow cave.

5. COMMUNICATION - Not only will you want to contact other people and signal for help, you need to know what's going on in the world especially in regards to the weather.

6. FIRE - Although a system of its own, by providing heat and light, fire supplements the Personal Attire, Hydration, Communication, Illumination, Nutrition, Entertainment, and Security systems. Because fire is required to light them, stoves are included in this category.

7. ILLUMINATION - You want to be able to see in the dark, don't you? Since light can be used for signaling, this category also supplements the Communication system. If you have incandescent flashlights, except for children's flashlights, I recommend you upgrade them to LEDs or replace them simply because LEDs will make your batteries last longer for all but the brightest tactical flashlights.

8. NUTRITION - People can survive for several days, even weeks, without food, but appropriate nutrition will stave off hypothermia and help structure your day as you wait for something to change your circumstances. Too many people give up on being prepared because they don't like the waste of money when they set food aside then forget about it, instead of rotating it into their kitchen pantry and replacing it. Yes, checking expiration dates is inconvenient, but that is simply part of being prepared.

9. FIRST AID KIT - This includes personal hygiene and laundry.

10. REPAIR AND TOOLS - Stuff happens and you can& we need to do to be prepared for the contingencies most likely to interrupt us at home, work, and during our travels whether on a road trip or by air.

[The next article in this series is, "The Essential Systems: Navigation."]

[Update - as of Jan. 7, 2012, I've posted the following kits:

1. My Micro Survival Kit carried in my wallet-on-a-string.

2. My Mini Survival Kit carried in my medium-sized purse.

3. My Mobile Survival Kit carried in a pouch that can be carried as a shoulder bag or a waist pack.

4. My Car Survival Kit.]

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