Tag Archives: prep

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 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.