I left my phone at home the other day. I didn’t get a good night sleep the night before, and was so groggy in the morning, I simply didn’t remember to take it with me. This happens once every few years. But instead of turning around to go back home and get it, I decided to make my first meeting on time and to see what it would be like navigating my day without constant email, text messages, phone calls, games, GPS, Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds… you get the picture.
My first thought was “What if I need to call home?” Then I remembered I had a desk phone (:-0), and gave my wife a quick call. Win! Now she knows my office number. In the last decade or so, I guess she’s never needed to call it, since I always have my cell phone. Now she has a backup number for me, so that’s good. But it’s not the most interesting part.
I also thought “But what if it’s an emergency and I’m not at my desk?” Then I thought about our personal emergency communication plan, and realized that the only way it was going to get used is if we both have the same emergency at the same time, e.g. something catastrophic like an earthquake. I didn’t think to ask her to turn a radio on, set to monitor throughout the day. Our plan clearly needs more tweaking. Since my commute isn’t that long, it’s really not a big deal. And if you remember back in the <gasp> 20th century, there was a time when nobody had a cell phone, and somehow we survived… But that’s still not the most interesting part.
The most interesting part of my day was what I noticed about the people around me.
I work at a high-tech company where most employees have smartphones, the kind that consume lots of data and have many, nifty apps, in addition to being used for work and personal email. Can you guess what it looks like on an elevator, walking between buildings, or in the cafeteria? The thing I noticed most is how many people were oblivious to the world around them because they were heads-down, focused on their phones! Even driving, when waiting at a light, I looked around more than before, and saw many drivers taking a break to surf the Internet or send a text message in the seconds between lights. Of course, it wasn’t everyone. But a lot of people were heads-down. Take a good look around, next time you’re in a crowd, or waiting at a light. What do you see?
And I lied. While that was definitely interesting and got me thinking, it wasn’t the very most interesting part. The most interesting part was… you guessed it: all about me. I hadn’t noticed this before because my head was always buried in my phone! Fail. That’s what you call “inadequate situational awareness” or “condition white” for the more martial among you. If you leave your phone at home for a day and suddenly you notice some big, different things, you definitely weren’t paying enough attention before. Just like me. So don’t fail. Pay attention.
Set down your whiz-bang phone, tablet, iPod, or other gadget for a minute and look around. You may notice something you never noticed before.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that our local government upped the ante in their disaster prep recommendations! What appears to be a loose coalition of Emergency Management Offices here in Western Washington (“Make it Through” – see link below) is making more extensive recommendations than you’ll see at the federal level.
No longer are they recommending the minimal three days of food, water, and other emergency supplies. They’ve more than doubled the recommendation to seven days (actually “seven to ten”). Good for them!
They must have seen my previous article, and realized that three days of food and water just isn’t adequate.
But that’s not all. They’ve altered the FEMA guidance of “Make a plan, build a kit, be informed.” And it’s a critical twist I wholeheartedly endorse. If you go to http://makeitthrough.org/, you’ll see this guidance:
Assuming that people will be informed anyway (if they have a radio in their kit and pay attention otherwise), helping each other is far more important.
In many disaster scenarios, most people won’t have access to the standard array of government emergency services, so we must assume that police, fire, medical and other services will not be available. So who will be available? Each other.
And how can you become more useful, or help others become more self-sufficient?
Back to the latest, greatest government guidance. As it turns out, unfortunately, their “Make a family emergency communication plan” is the typical “write down some phone numbers, including an out-of-area contact” advice. It’s not bad advice, but you can do far better with very little effort. Check out www.emergencycommunicationsblog.com for more details, or if you want the best communications-focused, disaster prep resource out there, get my book! On sale now at Amazon.com :-).
The new contest is here! Here’s the link — all the details are on our sister site here: http://emergencycommunicationsblog.com/free-book-free-first-aid-kit/.
Happy posting, and good luck!
I’m happy to announce that my next book is now available! If you have family, friends or anyone else you care about and want to be prepared to weather the next power outage or even a natural disaster, Personal Emergency Communications is a must-read.
Written for the layman (no radio interest or expertise required!), I’ll walk you through the technology, the equipment you’ll need, and how you can make your own realistic, simple emergency communication plan, far more advanced and useful than the insufficient “have an out-of-area-contact” plan you’ve probably heard before.
I wrote this book for my friends and family, and for anyone who *isn’t* interested in radios at all, but who is interested in taking care of loved ones when the chips are down. Have you have ever wondered “What will I do if my cell phone, land-line phone, and the Internet don’t work?” or “How will I call [insert important people here] to know they’re safe?” Or do you only wonder now, since I asked the question? In any case, this book is for you!
Here are comments from Ward Silver, author of “Two-Way Radios and Scanners for Dummies” and “Ham Radio for Dummies”:
This is a very useful book for someone interested in communicating in a disaster or emergency but who has little or no experience with using radio equipment… I like the book’s approach of “you can do this” and how it emphasizes thinking about what you want to accomplish, having several backup plans, and the need to practice. Andrew manages to explain the basics of different radio technologies while keeping a lot of the technical details from obscuring the basic points. To be sure…to get the most out of your radio and communicate effectively you’ll need to learn some of the technology but not all at once right at the beginning. The sections on personal prep and “go kits” is welcome and can’t be repeated enough. Going though his provided templates will help anyone think about planning and their personal circumstances which is a good thing – not enough people do it and are then unprepared. He provides on-line resources that will help the reader learn more about whatever technology they wind up deciding to use. This keeps the book from becoming an encyclopedia and makes it easy to read all the way through instead of getting sidetracked by details.
Give it a read and be much better prepared for an emergency.
Is sleeping part of your disaster plan? I’ll bet it’s not. Of course we can’t predict when we’ll be able to sleep in a life-or-death or otherwise high-stress situation. But we will all need to sleep eventually, so how will you ensure you’re able to get a minimum amount of rest?
We all know what happens if you don’t get enough sleep. At first, you get a little… stupid. You can’t do simple things as well as before. Your short-term memory starts to fail. You get clumsy and irritable. And you start making mistakes. Worst case, you make big mistakes. Long-term sleep deprivation is even worse, eventually resulting in mental breakdown and worse.
What do you think will happen after a day or two in a long-term emergency or disaster situation? Not only will you have a lot of additional problems to stress over, you will probably also have a compromised sleeping situation. Why? Maybe it’s because the rest of your family is not sleeping regularly, your home is damaged, you have unexpected guests, loud disturbances (sirens, gunfire, voices dogs barking) in your area, or any of the many other things that could make it difficult to sleep. And that’s not assuming you’re pulling a night watch shift because looters are busy in your neighborhood.
We can make one assumption safely, however. You must eventually sleep. If you don’t proactively decide when to sleep, you will fall asleep at the worst possible time, according to Murphy’s Law. This is one of the most troubling scenarios to the single person in an unsafe environment, so if that’s your scenario, you better find a place to hole up. But for most of us, we will have someone in the area we can trust to not plunder (or worse) while we sleep. And in that case, the goal will be at least a few (ideally several) hours of rejuvenating, uninterrupted unconsciousness.
Ensuring you are able to get to sleep after a disaster, short-term emergency, or even a stressful day is critical for your mental and physical well-being. Consider these options as part of your planning.
We all think about shelter, food, water, and other “basics” in a disaster preparedness context, but also make sure you give some thought to how you’ll maintain your sanity! You can thank me later.
“Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, 2nd Edition” is one of the best disaster preparedness books on the market and I interviewed the author, Dr. Arthur Bradley. He generously agreed to answer some questions I think we all care about, for example:
These and other interesting practical prepping questions and answers await you below. Enjoy!
My message would be to keep your preparations simple and effective. Avoid getting caught up in hype or paranoia. Start with a simple threat assessment, identifying the disasters that you are most worried about. This assessment might be drive by likelihood, severity, or special vulnerabilities. Once you have identified the threats that are of greatest concern, determined their impacts (e.g., food shortages, loss of electricity, lack of medical care, etc.). With the impacts clearly understood, it then becomes possible to take steps to mitigate their effect on your family. For example, if you’re worried about losing electrical power during a hurricane, then equipping your home with a backup system (such as a generator or battery/inverter system) would be near the top of your list of preparations. By working through this logical process of threat assessment, impact identification, and targeted preparations, you can effectively prepare your family for a wide range of disasters.
I’ve always been interested in disaster preparedness and wilderness survival. When I was a child, my father was a big survival advocate. I remember sitting around as a family studying maps of probable nuclear blast zones and discussing where we would retreat to. What really drove me to action, however, were the terrorist attacks of 9/11. As I watched the Twin Towers burn, I decided that my family was terribly underprepared for the kinds of dangers that we might face. This led down a long road of reading every book on the market, taking appropriate training, assessing my own family’s needs and preparations, and then taking concrete steps to get ready. It also motivated me to put my research together into a handbook that I hope others will find useful.
The most important aspect is to consider the needs of your entire family. Too many people forget about their family’s special needs, whether they are the needs of children, pets, an elderly parent, or someone with a medical condition. A disaster preparedness plan should be tailored to each family. A family with five kids that lives in rural Nebraska is very different than a retired couple living in a high rise apartment in downtown Los Angeles. There is no one right answer that fits everyone.
I find that it’s easier than most people think to invite others to join the cause. The hard fact is that we all want to survive. When people see a viable threat, they pay attention. A clear, level-headed proposition to get better prepared is usually met with some understanding. Nearly all of us have been affected (or know someone affected) by widespread disasters. That often serves as a good jumping off point for forming a disaster preparedness network.
I personally think that there’s a movement underway in the US (and perhaps globally) to get better prepared. It’s likely due to the unprecedented number of disasters that occurred in 2011. Consider that in 2011, there was over 265 billion dollars worth of damages globally! Just within the US, there were nine disasters that caused at least 1 billion dollars of damage, not to mention the horrific loss of life from tornadoes.
I tell people to start by storing 30 days of food and 14 days of water. Next would be to set up a backup heating system (if appropriate to the climate). These simple steps can help families get through many commonplace disasters.
Simply to start paying attention. My motto is Stay Alert = Stay Alive! Getting a weather radio is a good example of a paying closer attention to the threats around you.
I’d start with first aid training. Everyone should know life-saving first aid, whether it be how to stop bleeding, recognize the symptoms of a stroke, or administer CPR. CERT training, firearms instruction, and HAM radio licensing are also valuable.
Like many parts of the world, we’ve grown fat, dumb, and happy. Many people are complacent and live under an imaginary umbrella of protection that our government provides. I feel that we need to return to our roots and recognize our own responsibility for our family’s safety. More grit, less handouts.
Arguably, it’s the electrical power infrastructure. The electrical grid serves as the lifeblood for nearly every other infrastructure (i.e., food harvesting and distribution, water processing and distribution, banking, transportation, telecommunications, petroleum and natural gas, emergency services, and government). If it goes down, everything else quickly fails. By all accounts the power grid is old and prone to systemic failure. Consider the widespread and lasting effects of a long term failure – such as from an EMP attack or solar storm.
As you know, I currently have two books out. The Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family is a comprehensive book that helps individuals and families understand the process of getting better prepared. The newest book that I have out is Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms. As the title would imply, it hopes to address these two very important threats by analyzing the likelihood and ramifications of the events. It also outlines how individuals can prepare and protect themselves from these dangers. My next book will likely be an Advanced Prepper’s Manual, discussing more advanced topics when preparing for truly world-changing events.
Dr. Arthur Bradley is an Army veteran, father of four, martial arts expert, and dedicated homeschooler. He is active in volunteer youth organizations, including the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. He holds a doctorate in engineering from Auburn University and currently works as a senior engineer for NASA. Having lived all across the United States, Dr. Bradley writes from personal experience about preparing for a wide variety of disasters, including earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, house fires, and massive snowstorms. He prescribes to the philosophy that preparedness should always be motivated by love and concern, never by fear and paranoia. His practical approach to family preparedness has received widespread praise from individuals, emergency preparedness experts, and religious organizations.
Thanks for your time, and illuminating comments, Dr. Bradley!
Do you have the “recommended” three days of food and water set aside for an emergency or disaster? Is your plan to go to a government shelter after a disaster, even if you have your own shelter or your home is still habitable? If so, you should think again.
You can find recommendations on emergency food storage from the Red Cross, your local government, disaster preparedness gurus, and many others, and the recommendation looks like this: “Set aside three days of food and water in case of a disaster.”
Of course, it’s not difficult to put this much food aside, and it’s definitely not a bad thing to do. Many people already have more than three days of food in their cupboards and pantries (although the usual recommendation is to have this three days of emergency food set aside in a separate location, ideally in a box that’s easy to move, so that you can take it with you if you need to evacuate). Please note one more issue that is occasionally addressed: You can take that box of food and (since it’s portable) simply give it to someone else who needs it (e.g., an unprepared neighbor), assuming you have enough yourself.
But is three days of food and water for an emergency a realistic amount for you and your family? I can’t answer for you and your family, but I’ll give you the answer for me and mine: “No!” Why do I think three days of reserve food and water insufficient? When I’ve heard this recommendation in the past, the logic behind it (which I only recently heard called out explicitly) is that three days of food will give you enough buffer to get by until you are able to get to a government shelter. What is your plan in a serious emergency or natural disaster? Do you not have a plan? Uh oh! Let’s back-track for just a moment. While this article isn’t about creating a full disaster plan, let’s look quickly at the angle. If nothing else, ask yourself these questions:
Three days is a minimum, and of course you should have that ready to use or give away. But let’s look at some better, convenient options. Quickly, let’s review the types of food you can store. Of course, fresh food isn’t an option for a power-out situation, unless it’s coming from a local farm or garden.
The easy way to set aside one, two, or three weeks (which should be the minimum, in my opinion) worth of food is to regularly set aside a small amount of canned and boxed food (even if it’s just one can or box), every time you come back from the grocery store. If you don’t have a big budget to set aside food right now, this approach allows you to gradually grow your emergency food supply, maybe only an extra day of reserve at a time (or even less), until you reach your goal.
Another way, if you have a little more cash set aside, is to buy free-dried. In my opinion, this is the easiest option for long-term, “buy-and-forget” emergency food storage. You can buy a one-week, one-month, or even one-year (if you have the $, space, and that much concern) supply, store it and be done with it for the next 20-25 years. That is convenient! Freeze-dried food is my favorite option for those reasons:
A downside, at least at first glance, is price. However, give it a little thought anyway. Storing a significant quantity of freeze-dried will probably look quite a bit more expensive at first glance, but when you compare to a can or bucket of wheat, rice, beans, spices, etc. and factor in the cooking time and facilities necessary to make them edible, the additional water and other ingredients you’ll need to consider, weight (if you ever need to move your food), etc., the option that seems less expensive now may feel much more expensive later when you need to use those supplies.
Note: Canned freeze-dried food will last far longer than mylar pouches by themselves (with the exception of the Wise foods mylar bags that are sealed again inside a plastic bucket). The Mountain House, Alpine Air, or other brand mylar-bag-packed food you can buy at your local sporting goods store usually lasts five to seven years, whereas the same meal in a #10 can (the usual size, typically Mountain House brand, but there are others) will usually last 20-25 years.
Of course, three days of food is a nice start, but regardless of how you want to store emergency food, consider at least three weeks. It’s easy!]]>
If you haven’t read my first article on Setting up and Running a Map Your Neighborhood Program, you should read it first, here.
The quick version: the Map Your Neighborhood is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters, with a specific curriculum and workshop materials. I tracked down and reviewed materials, invited neighbors, offered dessert, and…
After all of the preparing I did, the program went just fine. Most neighbors showed up on time, and some even brought their own chairs (as I had requested). And even though we had prepared pie and ice cream for everyone, people brought more desserts anyway! We had a lot left over, and nobody left hungry. How can you go wrong with extra dessert?
We walked through the Map Your Neighborhood standard content, which was quick and easy, and had a little bit of Q&A along the way. We briefly walked through additional Red Cross content I had brought. I demonstrated a water and gas shutoff wrench, showed some food storage options, showed a water can when talking about water storage, etc. I also mentioned some of the content in the CERT class I was taking at the time. Unsurprisingly, there was some significant overlap. And given my background, I probably spent a little extra time on emergency communications. You can expect an article later if I am able to set up the emergency communication plan I have in mind for the neighborhood.
What went well?
What could have gone better? We had a couple of false starts as people trickled in, but I guess that is to be expected. Also, I didn’t use the training DVD. Why not? Personally, I thought the program went much quicker without it, and not taking a lot of time was one of my goals. I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone, however. One of the benefits of the DVD is that the training is standardized — everyone sees the same material.
Also, two neighbors couldn’t make it, and I could have tried to reschedule again, but I was getting tired of trying to pin down a date that would have worked for everyone. I did drop off the materials with both neighbors afterward, and they did provide me with contact info for our map (see below), so that ended up OK.
About a week later (it should not have taken that long, but I was busy!), I sent out the map, which I put together as a PDF. It looks something like the picture below.
You’ll note that I asked for certain key pieces of information:
What I didn’t ask for: Emergency contact number, especially out of area. I’ve been thinking about this and think it’s a good idea, although I’m a little concerned that people might find the request invasive. Maybe I’ll ask what people think when we all get together next.
You can see how it turned out. It looks a lot like the sample I made, which you can see to your right. Here’s how you can make your own map:
If you would like a larger copy as an example, I saved one as a PDF for you to review: Sample Map Your Neighborhood PDF map.
What I didn’t put on the map: Resources, like chainsaws or generators. It seemed like it would be more work and I was running out of room on our map, although I do have notes from the meeting. The good news is that we neighbors all know each other well enough now, and the group is small enough that I think we would all be relatively comfortable asking for help from the guy who’s good at plumbing, construction, first aid, etc.
What’s next? We had a neighbor move away just a couple weeks ago. When that house is occupied again, I’ll introduce myself, try to get a read on the new neighbors, see if they’re interested in reading some disaster preparedness materials, and when it feels comfortable, I’ll ask them for some contact info. If the other neighbors are sufficiently comfortable with the new neighbors (or trust my judgment), we can share all of our contact info. I won’t give anyone’s contact info to anyone else without permission.
Another thing I’d like to do when the weather is better is to have a simple “block party” type of gathering – a pot-luck or barbecue or whatever. Even though we’re neighbors and even though we’ve met each other, had conversations, and even shared some stories, there is still a lot of opportunity to get to know each other better and ideally increase our mutual trust and comfort level. This is what I think will make the biggest difference in a pinch.
I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions or comments, please post below!]]>
Aside from your brain, one of the key every-day carry tools is the popular folding knife. Most of us can use one effectively to open boxes and bags of chips, but how can you use a knife for self-defense purposes? Take a course like “Defensive Folding Knife” – then you’ll know.
Do you carry a folding knife? Have you thought about carrying a folding knife but just aren’t ready yet? And why do/would you carry one?
If your reasoning includes self-defense, in a very bad situation, keep reading, because I learned some things you should know too, at the Defensive Folding Knife course at Insights Training in Bellevue, WA.
A few basics for those of you who aren’t sure about why you’d carry a defensive knife (credit to Ralph Mroz for his article in Tactical Knives magazine) in the first place:
As you read further, you’ll learn even more about why a knife can be very handy in a pinch.
Let’s start with a couple things: 1) Why I took the course and 2) Who are these Insights folks?
I took this course for a couple reasons. I took a similar course previously several years ago, from Eric Remmen. It was good stuff. When I saw one of the InSights Training Center flyers at the local gun store, it looked like similar curriculum, already knowing that their training would be very high quality, I decided to give it a go. That’s one reason – because I like to learn, am interested in self-defense stuff, and I knew this instruction would be good. How good? Here are the bios for a couple of their instructors:
Greg M. Hamilton, Chief Instructor: “Greg is the Founder and Chief Instructor for InSights. He is internationally recognized as one of the best firearms and tactics instructors in the world. He is a veteran of the US Army Rangers and Special Forces, and is certified by the Army as a Close Quarters Combat Instructor and Anti-Terrorism Instructor.” And two more paragraphs with more details…
John Holschen: “John Holschen is a frequent guest instructor with InSights. John served for over 20 years in the Special Operations and Intelligence branches of the U.S. Army. He is a former US Army Special Forces Weapons Sergeant and Special Forces Medic. John taught at the JFK Special Warfare School and was the Senior Hand to Hand Combat Instructor/Master Instructor for 1st Special Forces Group.” And two more paragraphs with more details…
They are bona fide bad-asses, and at the same time, easy-going (at least with this civilian crowd), excellent teachers. How could I help but learn a lot?
The other reason for taking the course is that I often carry a folding knife, and use it to open boxes, bags, bubble-packed stuff, and the hundred other things that seem to come up regularly when you have such a tool available. The techniques used to open & cut stuff in this context are relatively easy to acquire intuitively. However, when it comes to using a knife for self-defense purposes, critical behaviors and actions are not so intuitive for many (even for some martial artists, who are taught some wacky concepts sometimes). I thought I had a good foundation with what I learned in my previous course, but wanted to be a little more sure, since I would be relying on this training to potentially save my life or the life of a loved one. I wanted to be able to use this tool to protect myself, at least somewhat effectively.
So I showed up at about 8:00 A.M., ready to go, wondering what I’d find. You may be a a little surprised. While there were a few more men than women, the class was not full of ex-military, muscle-bound, buzz-cut-sporting, tough guys itching to fight, but “regular folks”, from the overweight woman in her late 60’s and her 30-something daughter to the couple in their 20’s who wanted to take better care of each other. And my wife. I dragged her along. She loves to learn too, and is generally a real trouper when it comes to indulging me. (Thanks Baby.) Essentially, it was a little cross-section of society. I wondered how they would be able to tailor their curriculum to fit this group, most of whom were not “fighting-fit”.
One of the wonderful things I learned about a simple folding knife in a life-or-death, self-defense scenario is that it can be used very effectively by weak and strong, tall and short, young and old, with devastating effects. And Insights set up the class so that anyone could take it. Kudos to whoever owns the training plan – it seemed to work well for everyone. Their fitness level didn’t matter much.
Let’s talk about what we learned. I’m not going to give you a minute-by-minute description, even though the course was sufficiently content-packed to do that. You’ll need to take the course yourself to get that level of content (and I recommend the course to anyone interested in taking care of him-/herself). We covered the following topics (and other stuff I don’t have room to include):
You’ll notice something that our instructors didn’t actually call out in the class (that I recall). The listing above is generally covered in order of importance, from most to least important. For those of you who think having the super-cool knife is all you need to defend yourself in a life-or-death situation, you are dead wrong. You should know when it makes sense to use a knife, practically and legally, what your mindset should be, how you can avoid a dangerous situation and using a knife altogether, the basics of how to use the knife in a variety of situations, and lastly, some good knife options. All of the information leading up to which knife you want is much more important.
Again, this material will NOT replace taking this course or a similar course. THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, and anything you decide to do with this information is at your own risk. Consult your doctor, lawyer, local law enforcement, law-books, etc. before you do anything with a knife where you live.
Let’s go over some things I learned.
As I referenced above, you must know the laws in your city, state, province, and/or country. And aside from what your local laws allow, what’s covered in this course is only defensive in nature. Do your research – your and your family’s well-being (at least) could depend on it. You can’t defend your loved ones if you are in prison, and your opinion of what’s right and wrong may not matter to your local lawmakers, law enforcement & judges. According to many laws, the following conditions must exist before you can use deadly force (which you should also learn in any self-defense-related shooting course):
Most firearms courses out there teach these color codes, or one of the few variations on them. Here is the quick version.
We spent a solid chunk of time on this material – what you see above is only a basic outline. Go learn this material and the accompanying scenarios from a pro.
This was the most fascinating part of the course for me, and that’s saying a lot, because the whole course was fascinating! The instructor obviously knew what he was talking about, and the amount of information he had to offer made me feel like I was drinking from a fire-hose. This was all about psychology. But not the psychology you’d get from your textbook in Psych 101. Instead, this was the psychology of behavior on the street, in a bar, wherever you put alphas and betas. We discussed submissive vs. aggressive behavior, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), verbal and non-verbal communication. Here are some key pieces of info I remember. (And there was a lot more content we covered that I’m not going into. This part of the course was well worth the entire cost.)
We started with drawing and deploying from the front pocket or concealment (I describe my personal preference below), learning how to do it quickly and under stress. Then we did about 100 other things. We were busy, and did wreaked some real havoc with our training knives.
I won’t attempt to describe what grip to take, where you should target, how to cut, or the variety of techniques you can use for knife retention, escape from grabs, chokes, locks, holds, how to use a knife when ground-fighting or how to integrate knife and handgun. Not only am I not qualified, but reading won’t matter. Doing will.
I will say one more thing about technique: If you’re wondering what it’s like using your knife on something made of real meat – you’ll get to experience that too. (No people or animals were harmed during this course :-).)
This is the fun part for many folks, especially the gear-heads and people who use the words “everyday carry” :-). I said it before and I’ll say it again: the knowledge is more important than the gear. You need to get out of your recliner and go get the knowledge and hands-on, what-it-feels-like training. But of course, the gear angle is still fun.
1) The quality is high. The steel is good, the grip is easy to hold, and the ergonomics are great for most hands.
2) A Delica is easy to retrieve and open – that hole in the blade is patented for a reason. They made it very easy to open quickly with one hand, with no extra springs or gadgets – simply functional.
3) The blade length is appropriate, and the blade length (approx. 2 7/8”) is legal in most areas (do your research).
4) It is lightweight and slim – will not weigh down one side of your body, pull down your running shorts when you run, or cause unusual bulges. The slim clip is sturdy and positioned in the right place on the handle to make it easy to conceal. In addition, the clip is reversible two ways – top or bottom, and left or right side, which makes it easy to carry any way you chose, whether your right- or left-handed (see #2).
5) They are not very expensive as compared to many high-quality folders: $50-$60. You won’t have to give up meat for a month to afford it. If you lose it, you won’t be crying for a week.
6) And if you care, you can get a variety of colors and steels (e.g. blue or green with ZDP-189), versus the plain black body with VG-10 steel. Of course, the fancier versions cost more. I got one with a medium blue handle, which matches the color of most of my jeans. Not because I care about the color of my socks matching my shirt, but because I want it to not be very visible. There’s a difference!
Of course, you may prefer another brand or style, which is fine. If you can conceal and retrieve it effectively, the blade is legal, it can be opened under stress with one hand, and you can afford it, you’re set! There are many great, solid folders out there from Benchmade, SOG, Kershaw, Gerber, and Emerson, just to name a few. And Spyderco makes many other folding knife variations.
This is something they didn’t teach in class, that I have personally found to be convenient. I carry my pocket-knife* in my waistband. Why? It isn’t easy to see by everyone and their brother. I can go to work, out for a jog, to the grocery store, or wherever, without identifying myself as “the guy with the knife in his pocket.” You know who they are (if you notice it once, you’ll always notice it), and may be one of those people yourself. The clip is easy to see on the front of someone’s pocket. And much of the time, that may be perfectly appropriate for you. But I prefer to keep it low-key.
Here’s another reason. Often you can use that visible knife clip that’s on the front of someone’s pocket as an indicator to look a little further, for the accompanying bulge of a concealed handgun. Gun guys are also often knife guys. Am I wrong? Please send me an email and let me know what you think.
Note: If you have a big belly, keeping a knife on your waistband will probably not work for you.
*Did you notice the non-tacti-cool, unobtrusive, tool-focused words I used? It is just a tool after all, not a “combat-folder” or “zombie-stopper” or any kind of “dangerous weapon”. It’s just a tool. Along those lines, here’s another tip (from class): if you’re out in public and need to open a bag or box or delicately slice off a piece of Camembert to go with your crackers, consider slowly retrieving your knife, opening it slowly with two hands, versus going for the speed-draw and seeing whose attention you can draw with the sudden “snick” of the shiny blade locking open. Gray.
There you go – this was the very quick version, which will certainly not be sufficient for you to adequately defend yourself with a folding knife, but will give you an idea of what you should be able to do with one, if you can find good training in your area.
If you live in or travel to the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend InSights Training Center. I’ve taken a few classes from them, and they’ve been top quality. Their website is here: http://www.insightstraining.com/
It’s hard to go wrong with a folding knife as part of your everyday carry, because these tools are so versatile. If you want to have your knife realistically available as a self-defense tool also, please get some training.
I decided to run this program in my neighborhood, and decided to provide you with my personal experience and resources that will make it easier for you to do it too! But what is it? Why do it? Keep reading.
What is it? “Map Your Neighborhood” is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters. With it you can increase your odds of survival in a disaster. It covers these topics and more:
Why do it? As you can see in one of my first CERT classes, the question is raised – “What can I do about helping my neighbors?” And I add the second part of the question – “So that they can take care of themselves versus relying on my resources?” In addition, you may have neighbors with special needs, and these should certainly be identified before an emergency.
Finding the educational materials wasn’t as simple as I thought it should be. I had to look around for a couple weeks to find what I needed. Although some resources were available online for download, there was no clear description of what specific resources were actually needed to do the training. And when I did eventually determine what materials were needed (it took a couple phone calls), I wasn’t able to find them in one place.
How did I do it? We don’t have this program in my city, so I didn’t have a local contact. I tried the county emergency management office, and found nothing. I tried the state, and they put a DVD in the email for me, along with one sample handout. At the time, I didn’t ask for more copies, although I probably could have.
And then, since I was taking a CERT course in a neighboring city (since my city also doesn’t do CERT :-(), I asked about finding the Map Your Neighborhood student handouts and found some. You may need to be creative, and don’t hesitate to check with neighboring emergency management offices! People in these roles are usually (and certainly should always be) very helpful and generous with educational resources.
Additional materials are available here: http://www.emd.wa.gov/myn/myn_resources.shtml
I reviewed the video, handouts, and teacher’s guide ahead-of-time. The good news – I learned a couple things. That’s the great thing about teaching/guiding a group – it’ll force you to learn things yourself!
Now that I knew the basic curriculum, I knew how to summarize with neighbors over the next week. Whenever I saw one of them, I mentioned “Expect an invitation taped to your door soon, for the disaster preparedness program we’ll be running at our house. It won’t take long and you’ll learn something!” I also tried to get a feel for when they would be available, so that I could propose a time/date that would get the best attendance.
One of the neighbors was clearly interested in what it was about, so I gave a few more details. Aside from wanting to help him out with the information, I wanted to gauge his reaction, so I’d have a better idea how other neighbors would react. He was quite interested, and also didn’t know how to do some of the things we discuss, e.g., turn off his natural gas line. Just the type of student I’m looking forward to working with!
Later that week, I finished drafting and printed out a “Howdy Neighbors” letter, and handed it to the neighbors in person in the evening, or taped it to the door of the couple that weren’t home.
I got a variety of responses:
I had a few concerns at this point. Could I get them to show up? Can I fit them in our living room? Can I keep them comfortable? Will they find the material interesting? Will they ask a bunch of questions I don’t have answers to? And worst of all, by doing this, would they now view me as their “disaster plan” for an emergency, instead of preparing for themselves?
Do you want a template to use for your neighborhood? Free for my readers – you can use this one or modify it as you see fit: download doc here. Simplly fill in the [bracketed] areas and you your own, personalized letter, ready to go.
To see how the meeting went, read Part 2! (coming soon :-))