Category Archives: Preparation

The Tsunami Dymanic – Knowledge Part 5

April 8th, 2011


There are a lot of great knots out there but you don’t need to be a sailor or a Boy Scout. There are three knots you should know and two more that are good for general use. We will look at these knots in more depth when we look at shelter but for now here is the list.

The three you must know are:

  • Siberian Hitch
  • Power Cinch
  • Prusik Knot

The two other knots that would be good to know are:

  • Square Knot
  • Half Hitch

If you tie your shoes correctly then you already know how to tie a square knot. If you tie your shoes and the bow tends to lay along the length of your foot and not across it you are tyeing a Granny which is close but not as secure.

For more “survivalish” information you can check out the videos at these links:

Ray Mears
Wilderness Outfitters

Knowledge Review

You need to know the following:

  • Where you are
  • Where the “high ground” is
  • How to get out of the building
  • Have a plan
  • How to use your comms
  • How to use shelter materials as well as improvise
  • How to make a fire
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Self defense
  • Knots

N E V E R – S T O P – L E A R N I N G

That concludes the overview of important points of knowledge.

Next is a look at mindset.

The Tsunami Dynamic – Knowledge Part 4

April 6th, 2011

First Aid and CPR

You know you should know CPR and first aid already but the Tsunami Dynamic gives you another reason. It is extremely likely that you or someone else you come across will be injured in an emergency.

A great place to start in getting this training is the Red Cross. In addition to this I recommend taking a wilderness first aid course. Stores like REI often host classes like this. If the classes are free go for it but the good classes will cost about $150. Budget extra because you will learn what gear you need and that is the time to get it.

This is not simply a step to take in preparing for a natural disaster. A class like this is an investment in yourself and your family.

Self Defense

Everyone should know a smattering of empty handed combat. Just like you don’t need to be Ray Mears to start a fire, you don’t need to be Bruce Lee to be prepared to defend yourself. For unarmed combat that is quick and dirty I suggest Krav Maga and Systema. Like any skill set you can devote your life to it but what you need is some basics so if you find yourself in a physical conflict you will have some idea about what to do. If you are a female I highly recommend taking a women’s self defense class. Many law enforcement agencies offer them for free. My wife went to Women’s Strength and thought it was a very good investment of her time. When it is free like that you have no excuse.

Weapons. The function of a weapon is to offset differences in physical strength. You should have one. Knives are sometimes better than nothing but to use one you MUST make contact with your enemy. This is where guns are superior. Having a gun guarantees you nothing. You may not be able to deploy a gun before a threat is upon you. But a gun gives you options. Thousands of people use a gun every day to fend off would be attackers and don’t have to shoot anyone. Don’t let this deceive you into thinking that you can just wave a gun at a threat to scare it off. If you draw a firearm you had better be willing to use it.

If you are willing to use a gun then you better know how. You must get training to know how to use a gun to defend yourself. This has nothing to do with plinking or putting holes in paper targets. “Ben, this is way beyond the ‘very reasonable financial outlay’ that you led off with in your introduction.” True. Owning a firearm and getting the training you need is a commitment. However, it is not a huge commitment. Places like PFI can get you squared away on how to effectively use your weapon and there are a lot of good, reliable, and affordable guns to choose from.

I am suggesting that carrying a firearm should be a normal part of your daily life. If it is, then your firearm simply augments your preparations. However, if you are not one who carries on a daily basis then you need to add it to your preps. This would make a firearm a more advanced addition to your “Go Bag.”

The Tsunami Dynamic – Knowledge Part 3

April 5th, 2011


Fire is essential. You can make food and water safe, get warm, signal, and more, all with fire.

Have you seen those guys on the “survival situation” shows making fire by rubbing wood together? I’m not talking about that. Can you make a fire at all? In your gear you’ll have matches, lighters, and/or fire steels but now, at home, with every resource you could need available, can you make a fire?

A treatise on the subject is warranted but is well beyond the scope of this article so here are some basics to get you started.

If it’s not dry it won’t light

In the equipment section we’ll discuss some exceptions to this but in every case the drier it is the better it will work. A way to get around fuel being wet is to split the wood and get the dry inside to burn. It’s also possible to get a fire going that is hot enough to dry wet wood so it will then burn but that’s not where you want to start.

Gently grow your fire

Ray Mears – How to Light a Fire

You want to start with small stuff and as the fire grows add progressively larger pieces. There are three basic types of fuel.

  • Tinder
  • Kindling
  • Fire Wood (small and large)

Before you start your fire be sure that you have a good supply of each category on hand and ready to use. You should have quite a bit more than you think you need to get the fire started and use more than you think you need when you start.

You need a balance of three things to sustain a fire.

  • Air
  • Heat
  • Fuel

If your fuel is stacked too close together there will not be enough air to burn the fuel.

If your fuel is spread out too far apart there will not be enough heat to keep the fire burning. Pulling the fire apart is a good way to put out a fire that you want to start again.

If the fuel is too big for the size of the fire then it will not get hot enough to catch fire.

Tinder is the smallest, driest, fluffiest, most flammable material. It should catch a spark or small flame and create a large enough fire to light the kindling.

Kindling is the intermediate fuel that will get your fire wood lit. I usually split the kindling from a piece of fire wood but pine cones, small dry twigs and branches can work well too. In a more urban area cardboard (corrugated and single thickness) can serve as lighter kindling.

Fire wood is what you feed the fire to keep it going. When starting the fire use the smaller, split pieces with the split face towards the flames and when these smaller pieces have caught well on fire move up to the big stuff.

There are many different types of wood and they all burn differently. In general the harder the wood, the harder it is to get it to catch fire but the longer it burns. Oak is a good example of a hard, long burning wood. Softer woods catch fire more easily but burn faster so you are feeding the fire more often and use more wood to keep it lit. Cedar is a great wood to make tinder and kindling out of. An un-split section of wood will tend to burn longer than a split piece of the same material.

Make a point of building a fire at least once a year to stay familiar with it and if making a fire is seeming easy, start doing it in worse weather (high winds, rain, cold, snow). The worse the weather is, the more likely it is you’ll need a fire.

The Tsunami Dynamic – Knowledge Part 2

April 3rd, 2011

So you are safe and sound on high ground. What’s next?

A Plan

Do you have a rendezvous? Is there a place that you know to meet up with the people you care about? Do you have a couple fall-back places? A plan like this should be very simple. You don’t know what events will happen that will make the plan necessary so be ready to adapt it. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to have one.


Do you and those you care about have a means of getting in touch? Always have a phone with you. Cell towers are likely to be overwhelmed with phone calls but text messages are much more likely to get through. Do you know how to send a text message? Do you know how to receive a text message? If you don’t know then make a point of learning how and then sending and receiving at least one text message a week.

We’ll look at other communications equipment but you need to know how to use it. We’re not looking to learn Morse code or anything like that but there are some basic essentials that you need to have covered.


In your gear you will have something to use for shelter. It may be a heavy-duty contractor’s garbage bag, it may by a Kifaru tipi. Regardless, You need to have tested it before you use it in an emergency.

Do you know how to improvise a shelter? Think about how you could find protection from the elements using what you see around you. If you are in the forest then think about using branches, boughs, and leaves. If you are in the city look for cardboard or even a recycling dumpster. Pay attention to what the bums, homeless, and mentally ill do for improvised shelter in the city (those are three distinct groups and should not be lumped in together).

Next we’ll take a close look at fire.

The Tsunami Dynamic – Knowledge Part 1

April 2nd, 2011

Knowledge. It costs little more than time to acquire and weighs nothing. You can take that as far as you want (e.g. fire by friction, first aid, self defense, and shelter building) but what I’m specifically thinking of is knowing how to get to high ground.

You’re at the beach and there is a tsunami warning. Do you know where the high ground is? Do you know how to get to it? You’re in a building and there is a fire. Do you know where the stairs are? Do you know the different ways to get out of the building? Have you used them? You’re at Starbucks and some genius comes in and is robbing the place. You are tucked away out of sight and making the call to 911. Do you know the address? How about the nearest cross street?

Do you know which way is north?

The Tsunami evacuation route might take a little digging to find but the rest are things you can easily find out and know.

So you’ve found the high ground and you’ve made it there safely. Now what? Later we’ll discuss the equipment you’ll have with you but do you know how to use it?

There are several areas of knowledge to have a grasp of once you are safely out of harm’s way. We’ll look at those next.

The Tsunami Dynamic – Introduction

March 15th, 2011

The tsunami in Japan has got me thinking. If I were there when it happened, what would I have done? I’d like to say that I would have grabbed my go-bag and headed for higher ground. The truth is that I don’t have a go-bag and I’m not positive that I would know how to get to higher ground. I also wonder what I would do if I lived right next to the tsunami affected area. What if where I lived was not destroyed or even damaged? How would I handle the subsequent food rationing and rolling blackouts? I really need to be prepared for these things.

This is not about paranoia. Do you wear your seatbelt? If not you should. I have been in a few automobile accidents, especially when I was a young driver, and I can only think of one where the seatbelt may have been helpful. However, I know that I could very well be in a wreck where a seatbelt saves my life. And what does it cost me? A bit of discomfort in the summer and a few moments after I start my car. That seems like a good trade off for possibly preserving my life. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen? If not you should. I have never seen any situation in the kitchen come close to needing a fire extinguisher but again it costs very little and could save life as well as the house.

What does this have to do with the tsunami in Japan? The tsunami shows us two responses to emergencies that reasonable people need to be prepared for. In the case of an immanent tsunami we see that we need to be able to pick up and leave at a moments notice. In the after affects we see that the other end is being able to shelter in place for an uncertain period of time. We’ll look at the immanent tsunami first.

“But I live a hundred miles from the ocean. Why do I care about being prepared for an immanent tsunami?” Good question. First, if you ever visit the ocean you are vulnerable to a tsunami. There is no way to guarantee you will survive a tsunami hitting you on your day at the beach but you can do some simple things to help shift the odds in your favor. “I will never go to the beach. I’m allergic to the ocean.” This still applies to you because the tsunami-dynamic can be created by any number of other events. There are flash floods, earthquakes, chemical/nuclear emergencies, and terrorist attacks (e.g. Mumbai) to name a few. “Ben, you’re starting to sound paranoid. None of those things are very likely to happen.” Actually ALL those things are guaranteed to happen. They are as certain as Christmas. They’re just not likely to happen to you today. Remember, I’m not advocating that everyone should be in a Navy SeAL like state of readiness. What I propose for a tsunami-dynamic situation that requires immediate action involves a very reasonable financial outlay, a couple hours to put it together, and just a few minutes per month (if that) to maintain it.

The immanent tsunami presents a threat that must be evaded immediately and will likely destroy the surrounding area. This means that you have to get out of Dodge immediately and then be able to take care of yourself until help arrives or you can get to support. That support will likely be there in hours but depending on other circumstances it could be days. What a situation like this calls for is the bare essentials. We aren’t looking to be ready to have a fun camping trip, we’re looking to live. So what do we start with? We start with knowledge.

Next we look at the rudimentary knowledge you should have.