Preparedness Missing the Point?

I spend a fair amount of time lurking on various survivalist and emergency-preparedness websites (Zombie Squad FTW!), and so am all too familiar with the idea of “every-day carry”, or EDC, of various useful tools and supplies. Now, to be fair, EDC isn’t really true “emergency preparedness”, but a lot of survivalists talk about the “get home bag” or GHB, which is, as the name suggests, a bag or backpack that you carry with you at all times, and which includes the things you think you’d need to get home of there was a disaster and you couldn’t drive, take the bus or train, et cetera.

I really kind of scratch my head at what some of these people carry, though – and especially what they don’t carry.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, but I’d guess that fully ninety percent of people who carry EDC bags or GHBs don’t have toilet paper with them, or any toilet paper analogue designated for a comparable use (i.e. wet-wipes and so on). Ever had to use leaves, or pages torn from a phone book? Toilet paper, people. It’s one of those things that help make life worth living.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people stock up on the most amazingly over-the-top medical supplies – oooh, clotting agents and trauma dressings and nasopharnygeal airways and Asherman chest seals, woo hoo. Great, if you get have to save someone’s life. But, can you do anything about someone… with a splinter in their hand? Or something in their eye?

I get it that a lot of these people want to be a cross between Rambo and a ninja, and that’s fine. But honestly, if you’re going to carry a bag or man-purse around everywhere, carry stuff that’s useful. Every time someone around you asks “hey, does anyone have blah“, and you don’t, think long and hard about whether you should.

Stuff I think you really should have with you, if you’re into emergency preparedness, EDC, or were a Scout:

A bunch of napkins: Because you can’t really effectively wipe your mouth with hand sanitizer, and because they can double as toilet paper.

Zip-ties, large rubber bands, and at least two kinds of tape: To help keep it together, man. Whatever it might be. One of the tapes should probably be light-colored, like surgical tape (I prefer Durapore, but whatever floats your boat) so you can write on it to label stuff in a pinch. Ah, you do carry a Sharpie everywhere, don’t you?

Gloves: A pair of mechanic’s or “assembly” gloves, for when you don’t want to get cut, or get your hands dirty, and a couple pair of latex or nitrile gloves, for when you really don’t want to get your hands dirty.

Ziploc bags: You never know when you might need to store something, or protect other things from water. I’m perfectly happy to walk a mile or two home in the rain – but I’d sort of like it if my camera, cellphone, and watch still worked when I got there.

I’m not trying to be an ass, but I just can’t get over all the people who are all “I’ve got a knife, a pistol, and several spare mags with me at all times, I’m ready for anything“, you know? Or the people who carry two full MREs, a gallon of water, five knives, a rappelling harness, and medical supplies better suited to a battlefield than suburbia with them everywhere, “just in case”, but can’t help fix any run-of-the-mill day-to-day sorts of emergencies.

That’s been Nemo’s pet peeve of the day, brought to you by the number one, and the letters eff, wye, and eye…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on June 2nd, 2009| 5 Comments »

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  1. On 6/2/2009 at 5:59 pm Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake Said:

    Haha, I love it. Sometimes you gotta wonder what some people’s real motivations are. I’d be a lot happier carrying all that stuff around my whole life if I got to use some of it a few times before the inevitable peak oil/corporate greed/gay marriage-caused collapse of civilization.

    I’d add a basic multi-tool to the list, but that’s about it. Gloves are a great suggestion I wouldn’t have thought of.

    As to toilet paper, there must be a surprisingly low number of ex-military lurking the survival sites, because every soldier who’s been to the field knows that wet wipes are worth their weight in gold. And the, ahem, economy of use means they take up a lot less space.

  2. On 6/2/2009 at 6:16 pm Pamela Said:

    Was going to comment on things you left out — but then I reread the suburbia part. My GHB is for getting lost in the woods in Canada, possibly in the winter. As a nurse and a Mom, my Mom has the perfect suburban GHB already – except we all just call it the bottomless purse.

  3. On 6/3/2009 at 5:06 am Simon Proctor Said:

    Don’t forget the tube of super glue, not only is it generally handy to fix stuff but it’s really useful for holding wounds together.

  4. On 6/3/2009 at 12:00 pm David Williamson Said:

    My dad would agree with you about the importance of toilet paper. I remember when people were freaking out about Y2K and buying all kinds of stuff for when the world ground to a halt the only thing my dad went out and bought was a big package of toilet paper – he figured that would be something people wouldn’t think of before and would probably sell out quickly after the world came to an end.

  5. On 6/3/2009 at 1:10 pm Nemo Said:

    Not only is super glue nifty for sticking things together, but – supposedly – it’s a good fire-starter, as well. Evidently it reacts quite exothermically with cotton, so a little disposable tube of super glue plus a cotton ball = fire. I keep meaning to try this, but the cotton balls we have in the house are actually polyester, and I’m not enough of a pyro to go buy actual cotton balls, just so I can set ’em on fire.

    When Y2K hit, my partner and I stocked up on three things: toilet paper, tampons, and cat food. We figured if society collapsed, we could barter the first two items; the cat food was because our cat at the time was a pretty fussy eater.

    Bi-Colored-Python-Rock-Snake: I was kind of assuming that most everyone already carries a multi-tool of some sort, or at least a Swiss Army knife. (Okay, I know from personal experience this isn’t true… maybe “most everyone sensible”, then.) There do seem to be a lot of ex-military types among the survivalists, but I guess toilet paper isn’t tacti-cool enough for them. Maybe if Charmin made it in ACU camo, or something, they’d get excited about it, but my feeling is that, as it stands, when gay marriage finally brings about the end of western civilization, thirty-six hours later, there are going to be a whole hell of a lot of cranky, well-armed guys in camo roaming the streets, walking a little funny and smell faintly of poop.