Friday, September 30, 2011

N95 Masks

I opened a package of N95 masks to see how well one folded to see if I could put it in my mobile survival kit. Reading the enclosed literature, I learned to my dismay that it's good only for non-harmful particulates such as sanding dust. So, instead of my risking not being protected from something by taking "only a bandanna" for my air travel exposure kit, I actually wasted money by buying N95 masks instead of packing a simple cotton bandanna in my regular exposure kit.

I'm annoyed the Powers That Be advise us to buy bulky, expensive, specialty items we'll use infrequently, if not rarely, instead of inexpensive, easy to EDC items many people already use on a daily or other frequent basis.

Since N95 masks only filter out non-harmful particulates such as dust, more reasonable alternatives are cotton bandannas, those keffiyehs or shemaghs the military are finding so helpful in Iraq and Afghanistan, or cotton pareos. Shoot, when I encountered dust storms without protection, a dampened paper towel from the ladies' room held over my nose and mouth was enough although inconvenient because it wouldn't stay in place by itself.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Key Rings

Speaking of key rings, I have two because a friend had to pay a couple of hundred dollars to have her ignition switch replaced. The mechanic said it broke due to the weight of all her keys hanging from it. We each immediately got a second key ring to hold our other keys.

On my car key ring, I have the car key, gas cap key, car top carrier key, store discount tags, Fox 40 Mini whistle, LED flashlight, and a luminous Suunto Clipper compass using the webbed nylon fob from an el cheapo compass that failed during my 2006 road trip and was replaced by the Clipper.

On my other key ring, I have my other keys, ResQMe, another LED flashlight, another Fox 40 Mini whistle, Swiss Army Classic knife, P-51 can opener, Ekco Pocket Boy folding can punch with bottle cap lifter and Chapstick in a Leashables holder.

For those times when I ride in somebody else's car and leave my own car keys at home, I moved the luminous Brunton 9041 key ring compass on my traveler's key ring to my second key ring to help keep me and whoever's driving headed in the right direction when I don't need my traveler's key ring.

Seriously, it's happened twice before. Once, a van-load of us were going to Dallas on a day trip when my internal sense of direction said we were going in the wrong direction. The driver and I proceeded to get into an argument which was settled by a sign that said, "Fort Worth," with an arrow pointing straight ahead.

The other time was at night. Again, my internal sense of direction said we'd gone off. It was a lot easier convincing that driver to pull over under the light of a convenience store and gas station where we checked the map...and turned around. At the time, not only did I not have a compass, I didn't even have a little flashlight.

Although neither situation was dangerous, both were a waste of time and gas, the first much more than the second. If anybody had a compass, the waste could have been avoided.

You live. Hopefully, you learn.

[Edited on 1/1/12 to add Pocket Boy and because I moved the Brunton Glow Mate to my second key ring.]

Why I Need a Mobile Survival Kit

I haven't given up on making a personal survival kit. It occurred to me that when I'm in somebody else's car for a day or road trip, I've got nothing to help me through a bad situation except for my water bottle, key ring LED flashlight, Fox 40 Mini whistle, Swiss Army Classic key ring knife, P-51, ResQMe, and the Spark-Lite I carry in the pen slot of my purse. It isn't a bad list but it isn't enough and I know better than to rely on somebody else having a Space Blanket on hand for me or even a first aid kit (FAK).

For example, in 2004 or so, there was a woman whose trunk I saw before we took off on a day trip and there was nothing in it. Completely bare. Absolutely naked. That was before I got serious about preparedness and it made me uneasy even then.

I've ridden with others on day trips to Wichita Falls and Dallas and overnighter or longer road trips to Houston, Albuquerque, and Milwaukee, but didn't know what they had for a car kit which was probably just as well.

Also, for hiking or backpacking, although I made a hiker's survival necklace consisting of my Suunto MC-2G compass, Fox 40 Mini whistle, Mini Swedish FireSteel, (4) Tinder-Quiks in a colored key ring pill fob I bought from CVS, a key ring LED flashlight, Pro Tick remover, and Swiss Army Classic knife; if I get separated from my pack, I won't have an emergency blanket or FAK. Definitely not good.

That made me think, if I have a bag I could convert from a waist pack to a cross-body shoulder bag, I could set up one small kit as a mobile personal survival kit for hiking and riding in other people's cars and put my exposure kit in it, too. If I remove the sharp things to make it TSA-compliant, it could also be my air travel survival kit.

The trick is to keep it small and lightweight enough for me to not mind taking it along every time.

[Edited on 1/1/12 to change the title.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dead Batteries

In rotating out my flashlight batteries last week, I encountered one that had leaked and gotten stuck in the Mini Maglite LED I keep in the car.

Unable to pry or shake it out, faced with having to buy a new flashlight, I took a chance and filled the battery compartment with water hoping to dissolve the cell loose.

It worked.

After rinsing it several times to get all the battery acid out, I shook the excess water out into the sink as best I could, disassembled it as much as I could, and let it set a couple of days to air dry.

After reassembling it and installing new cells, I turned it on and was very happy to see it working as it should. Whew!

The next battery to go was in my laptop. The flashing light quit blinking a couple of days after getting my flashlight working, indicating that I was running only off the AC. All I had to do was install the replacement I bought in May.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What's the Point?

Yesterday, I took a car trunk full of plastic to a nearby recycling establishment I've gone to several times before only to be told the recycling facility they take the plastic to doesn't accept anything except recycling codes 1 and 2.

Giving the man one gallon jug, one liter bottle, a grocery bag full of #1 containers, and another bag of #2 containers that barely filled out the bottom of the bag, I left with six bags full of codes 4, 5, 6, and 7 containers.

I haven't checked the telephone book for other recycling collection points to see if this is the only one that discriminates which recyclable containers are accepted, but the disappointment has me wondering if recycling facilities aren't accepting all the recyclable plastics, what's the point of having the various codes? Are the other codes not profitable enough for the recycling facility or the collection point or is it simply a matter of the recycling facility having never been set up to process the other plastics?

The plastic recycling codes were set up to help save the planet. It's bad enough when consumers don't care enough for their children's future to recycle. What about when the very companies that are established to receive and process the materials are the road blocks?

Obviously, I've been patronizing the wrong recycling collection point. I just hope a better one is nearby.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Preparedness 2011

This is the eighth annual National Preparedness Month.

Ideally, our first priority is to prepare our evacuation kits since they may be used anywhere if stored in our vehicles where they would be easily accessible whether we're at work, home, or simply running errands.

Ideally, we'd have our stuff in backpacks, duffel bags, or other easily transportable containers in case we have to abandon our vehicles and walk.

As a traveler, I already have travel packs and wheeled suitcases I could use. However, the travel packs are too small for everything I want to have on hand and the wheeled suitcases are too heavy and bulky to easily navigate rough terrain.

My solution is to get a backpack. However, I need to figure out what capacity I need before I'm ready to shop for one. Since I'll have to go out of town to get the best fit and avoid mail-order returns, it doesn't have the highest priority. I rather research reviews online to narrow the field, first.

So, I converted my Preparedness Food & Beverage list last week to a text file and transferred it to my Kindle as a reusable shopping list for the items I need to check every six months for rotation.

All I have left to do this month are the following:

1. Go shopping and rotate my food and water supplies.

2. Replace all batteries, saving those being phased out for my electronic Solitaire game.

3. Check the air in my car's spare tire. This should be done whenever I check my tires, but I usually put it off and now I can't recall when it was last done, it's been so long.

4. Add a bottle of hand sanitizing gel to my car kit because it will also help start a fire.

Simple dimple!