Emergency Radio Cache

Radio Cache for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down baofeng radio cachenote: first appeared in November 2015

I’ve been asked many times, “What kind of radios should I buy?” Or, “How many radios do I need?” And, “Where can I find radios that set-up ready-to-go?” And, “What accessories do I need to get the most performance out of my radio?”

I’ve written extensively on the Baofeng UV-5RA radio. I think it is simply the best value for the most people who are looking for a good alternative communications capability. And not only that, it really makes a great radio for a variety of purposes. Some of those are:

  • Family emergency radios.
  • Hunters & campers.
  • Church service groups.Ham Radios being used by Family
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Emergency response teams.
  • Prepper groups.
  • The list could go on and on…

One of the situations that keeps coming up is buying a number of radios for a “cache” to be used as needed, properly and safely stored when not being used. Best possible answer to that is what I do right now for the group I am responsible for. If you have read my bio you know I am responsible for emergency preparedness for a 13-congregation church group; we call that group a “Stake” in our church. The 13 congregations are spread out over a three-county area.

In a perfect world each congregation would have their own cache of radios ready to go. But the world is rarely perfect. So the alternative is for me to maintain a radio cache that is ready to deploy when, where, and as needed. I thought the best way provide an answer is to show you a working example..the “8-Radio Cache”.

The mission for the radio cache is –

“Provide sufficient communications gear for two teams of four people to communicate while on the ground or traveling, and to provide that capability for a minimum of five days without the need to recharge any batteries.”

Requirements & Restrictions –

  1. Radio must be proven dependable.
  2. Radio must be able to operate on dual bands (2m & 70cm) simultaneously for use with a cross-band repeater.
  3. Radio must be able to programmable and cloned.
  4. Radio should be able to be programmed with NOAA, FRS, GMRS, and MURS frequencies.
  5. Radio should be able to receive FM band commercial and government broadcasts.
  6. Radio operations must be sustainable for five days with fully charged batteries.
  7. Radios must be operational from inside a moving vehicle by two separate teams.
  8. Radio operation must have “privacy” capabilities where no communication sounds can be heard by anyone but the user.
  9. Radio cache must have secure and protected storage capability that easily moved and transported.
  10. Radio operations must be easy to understand and easy to operate with minimal training.

The concept for our use is along the lines of the Incident Command System principle of operational teams. In this case two teams consisting of four people for a total of eight people. Each of the two teams would travel in separate vehicles. This ensures that each team also has vehicle radio operational capability as well.

However, a smaller team, say 3 people, could utilize a leader who had a radio while the remaining team members do not have a radio. This would be acceptable if all team members worked in close proximity to each other.Handheld Radio used by Firefighter

The radio needed to be sufficiently rugged to handle most emergency operational environments but not be subjected to “submersion” capabilities, etc. The Baofeng UV-5RA is a sturdy radio but isn’t made to operate in harsh environments such as structure fires, wildland fires, or where the radio is excessively exposed to the elements.

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To meet all these demands here is what the cache consists of –Baofeng UV-5RA radio for sale

  • 8 x Baofeng UV-5RA radio kits. Each kit contains:
    • 1 x Boafeng UV-5RA radio
    • 1 x charger cradle
    • 1 x AC charger adapter
    • 1 x Stubby antennaBattery - Powermall 3800mAh
    • 1 x 14.5” antenna
    • 1 x ear piece w/lapel mic
    • Baofeng UV-5RA antenna : ExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5-Inch Dual Band Antenna (144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F)2 x 1800mAh batteries
    • 1 x 3800mAh battery
    • 1 x 12vDC charger cradle adapter
    • 1 x Radio pouch
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming Software CD with cable
  • 2 x Tram 1185 Vehicle magnetic mount dual-band antennaTram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R antenna on car roof
  • 2 x MPD adapter cable
  • 2 x Tenq vehicle battery replacement adapter
  • 2 x Vehcile “4-to-1” cigarette adapter multiplier
  • 1 x Vaultz Secure Roller Case

Then there is the documentation –

  • Cache Inventory Sheet
  • Radio Check-Out/In Sheet
  • Quick Start User Guide
  • UV-5RA User Manual
  • UV-5RA Programming Guide
  • ARRL US Amateur Radio Bands chart

Then I custom programmed the radios using the RT Systems programming software. The programming meets all the requirements listed above in the “Requirements & Restrictions” section.

Here is each component in the cache –

♦  Baofeng UV-5r handheld radioBaofeng UV-5RA radio, stubby antenna, ear piece w/lapel mic, charging cradle, AC adapter, 1800mAh battery

  • Frequency Range: 136-174 / 400-479.995 MHz.
  • Full height two-color LED definition display. The screen has exquisite clarity.
  • Field programmable from keypad.
  • Programmable via computer software.

♦  ExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5-Inch Dual Band Antenna (144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F) Boafeng UV-5RExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5″ Dual Band Antenna.

  • Frequency Range: 144-146, 430-440 MHz
  • VSWR: less than 1.5
  • Gain: 2.15dBi (144-146 MHz), 3.5dBi (430-440 MHz)
  • Maximum Power Input-watts: 50 W
  • Height: 14.4 inches

 

♦  Battery - Powermall 3800mAhPowermall 3800mAh rechargeable battery. The 3800mAh battery will last about 3 – 5 days while the battery that comes with the radio will last 2 – 3 days. Of course that will depend on your actual usage, which is mostly predicated on how much time you spend transmitting.

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Baofeng UV-5RA Radioshop888 12vDC vehicle adapter♦  Radioshop888 12vDC charger cradle adapter. Radioshop888 12vDC charger adapter you now have the ability to recharge your batteries from any 12vDC source. Examples would be; vehicle cigarette receptacle, solar charger unit, portable power pack, etc.

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Military surplus flashbang grenade pouch used to carry a Motorola Family Radio♦  Flashbang Radio Pouch. The radio pouch is a really convenient way carry the Boafeng UV-5RA radio. It is a perfect fit and the pouch’s flap provides additional protection from rain. You won’t accidentally drop or lose your radio while it is secured in the pouch. The pouch is MOLLE II compatible and the same attachment can be used to secure it to your belt as well.

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RTsystems3♦  RT Systems Software Programming CD with cable. to be used effectively it also requires the ability for you to program the radio. Programming is accomplished either manually through the keyboard or via a laptop computer/software. I far prefer the computer method, but it does require software.

.Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R

♦  Tram 1185 Vehicle magnetic mount dual-band antenna. The Tram antenna is the solution for radio operation in a vehicle. Even with the ExpertPower 14.5” Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R antenna on car roofantenna on the radio, the reception and transmission capabilities of a handheld radio are greatly diminished due to the vehicles metal body. Getting the antenna outside of the vehicle’s body makes a huge difference. And the vehicle’s roof is also usually higher than a normal person holds a radio so you get the increased antenna height as well.

♦  MPD Digital antenna adapter cable. The Tram antenna mentioned above comes with a cable that is long enough to reach inside the vehicle but you need to connect that cable to the radio. That takes a special adapter cable to connect the antenna cable to the RF coaxial cable SMA female to UHF SO239 PL259 female RG58 radio itself. There are other cables out there, some less expensive. But I like the MPD Digital cable (RF coaxial cable SMA female to UHF SO239 PL259 female RG58 20 inches). They are well-built, quality materials, and made in the USA.

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♦  Tenq vehicle battery replacement adapter. Tenq® Baofeng Vps-001 Vehicle Power Supply Dual Band Car Battery Eliminator Simulator for BaofengThe Tenq power supply unit is a very handy piece of equipment. This option allows you to run the radio directly off of a 12vDC power supply. You remove the rechargeable battery from the radio, slide this unit into the radio where the battery normally goes. Then connect to a 12vDC power source via a cigarette adaptor and you are up and running. This type of operation would be very convenient for vehicle operations or while using the radio as part of the mini communications center.”

Cigarette Lighter Auto Socket Duplicator♦  Vehcile “4-to-1” cigarette adapter multiplier.

  • Plugs into car cigarette lighter! 1-into-4 12V DC auto adapter, charge all four team radio batteries at cone.
  • Includes adapter plug, 50″ cord.
  • One USB port with 5 Volt/ 1 Amp output to charge USB compatible devices.
  • Built in fuse for circuit protection.

♦  Vaultz Secure Roller Case. Baofeng radio cahce Vaultz Secure Roller Case radio cache

  • Highly mobile, with wheels and telescoping handle.
  • High-capacity locking chest.Vaultz Secure Roller Case radio cache
  • Double combination locks.
  • Rubber feet prevent skidding and surface scuffing.
  • Handles on the sides make carrying easy.
  • Large flat top is great for a working surface.

baofeng UV-5RA Radio CacheThis radio cache meets the needs of our emergency responders whether it is a small emergency or major disaster. And when a “grid-down” event occurs…we will be ready and able to communicate!

Now, let your thinking begin…design a radio cache that is right for you and your group.

 

 

 

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Where to stash your survival cache?

Hiding Your Survival Cachenote: first appeared in March 2015

There are lots of good places to hide your cache. There are lots of bad places to hide your cache. The trick is to find the places to hide your cache where no one else will find it. So the cardinal rule is – Don’t hide your cache where someone would expect to find it. The trade-off is, your cache may be harder to find and retrieve when you follow the cardinal rule.

If you haven’t read my posts 3 days ago about Survival Caches, now might be a good time Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #1 – 3

Here are some basic guidelines for stashing your cache:

  1. You must be able to find it but sufficiently hidden so others can’t find it.
  2. The area must be close enough to get to, but not so close that it can be linked to you.
  3. Cops will investigate your survival cache if they find it.If law enforcement finds it they are probably going to think it is pretty weird and you are going to be questioned about it. How will they know it is yours? Try fingerprints or DNA for starters. Also, if for any reason they think it is tied to a serious crime they will investigate it and do their best to locate you. Be ready to tell whoever finds it a very good reason why you stashed it.
  4. Remember the water, if you have water in the can bury the whole can deep enough that it won’t freeze and burst. In the frigid north you could be looking at 3’ or more to get below the frost line. An alternative could be to bury your water separately, thereby allowing you to bury your original survival cache can more shallow.
  5. I think having at least two ways in/out to the spot is important. And don’t egress the area/spot the same way you entered. Someone may have watched you and just waiting for the opportunity to ambush you as you leave.geocaching can help hide your intentions of stashing your survival cache can.
  6. The spot should be hard enough to get to but it should also not make you stick out should you be seen going there…either when you originally bury it or when you retrieve it. Have a good reason ready if you are seen and/or questioned about it by someone in authority. Remember “Geocaching” is a sport now and could be used as a good excuse.
  7. Observe the area for hours, maybe days, before finalizing a spot. What looks good today might not be good on a holiday.
  8. Don’t put it on someone’s private property, which is called trespassing. And if you put your cache there it becomes theirs by legal definition.
  9. BLM public landsIf you decide on public property it’s a good idea to know that you might be breaking the law doing so (soil & vegetation disturbance).
  10. On public lands one good thing it’s illegal to use a metal detector. Bad thing is that law doesn’t apply to the agency’s folks or law enforcement.
  11. Look the area over very carefully if you are on public lands. Should you bury your cache in an area that has any archeological value you can commit a felony by digging there.
  12. You don’t want your can to potentially be underwater when you need it. So look around for the flood plain and avoid it. Yes, dry stream beds & arroyos are inviting but think about when there is water, and it can be deep at times.
  13. Once you decide on your spot spy on it. Find a good location some distance away and just watch the area where you want to bury the can. See what you notice, see if people come roaring by on dirt bikes, how about hikers or hunters?

If you decide to bury your cache can look carefully at the ground, look really closely before you dig, maybe even take a picture first. When you are done, compare the picture to what the ground looks like in the picture. When you are done then stand back and throw several handfuls of stones, pebbles, dirt, leaves, twigs, etc. on the site from a distance. That will make it appear much more “life-like” or “natural”.

Hiding Your Survival Cache in the city

Urban environment provides a lot of opportunities. Where you might think is a great place to hide it, might be a great place for someone else to look for it if they know what they are doing.

Time to get the job done, go bury your cache can, reset the ground and vegetation around it, and as you leave cover your tracks. Use a branch or bush and wipe your tracks away as you leave the area.

Now, don’t go back and keep checking on it; you will create “tells” by doing so. Other people could get interested and start poking around. They might want to try and find what you found sound interesting in the area.

Hiding Your Survival Cache in a rundown warehouse

An abandoned warehouse is a great area as long as someone doesn’t come scavenging or taking over as their new home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If  you have two cans to bury, bury them at least 50′ apart.  Better yet, where you can’t easily see one location from the other one. That helps keep one location secure if the other is compromised.

You can also use Google Earth to scout and area without really being there. Now, do yourself a favor, don’t mark it with any software on any mapping program or setting a GPS coordinate on your GPS unit.

Hiding Your Survival Cache in the woods or forest

In heavily wooded area place next to rotted tree trunk and cover with old vegetation and dirt.

If you want to take lat/long coordinates that is OK.  Take your lat/long then write the coordinates on paper, DO NOT mark it on your GPS unit. Store the paper where you can find it and no one else will stumble across it. If you want to take one more step in the paranoia world, try to figure out a cool system to hide the numbers for the lat/long. Put it in a list of phone numbers, substitute a couple of alphabet letters for numbers, mix it all up a bit so someone hopefully won’t even recognize what it is. And if they do recognize it, they won’t have a way to figure it out since it is random based on your unique system.

Hiding Your Survival Cache in the desert

Lot’s of places to hide it in the desert. Finding it again might be tough. Watchout for snakes!

Another way to hide it in plain site is to create an overlay or cut-out out of a heavy sheet of construction paper or something similar. Take a common map, find the spot where your can is located (do not mark it on the map), then lay the piece of paper over the map. Orient the paper to something common with the map (i.e. a side, a corner, a road, etc.). Then make a small mark on the paper. Now, cut a small hole in the paper where the mark was. Write on the paper, punch a couple different holes in it that are different than your cache can hole. Then let the kids do a crayon drawing on it, play tic-tact-toe on it. Now put the paper away and remember where you put it; or post it on the refrigerator door. Leave the map where you normally would keep it.

Hiding Your Survival Cache in the neighborhood

A vacant urban lot is an option but will it be bought and developed exposing your cache?

 

 

If I were to give you two final words of advice they would be: Disguise
Distract.

 

I am sure there are some more ideas that ya’ll can come up with so let’s end it here and let you get to work.

The important thing is…build your cache…and then stash your cache!  Just do it!

 

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
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Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #3

Survival Cachenote: first appeared in March 2015

In this article I will cover items in your survival cache that will help you conserve (or at least not destroy) resources associated with the incident you find yourself in. You don’t want to destroy any resource you may need later. The items in this category will help you in that goal. Remember the mission of this survival cache:

“Safely store sufficient essential survival gear and equipment to use as a basis to survive as I acquired additional survival gear and equipment.”

In the previous article in this series, Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #2, I went into detail on items to satisfy the second LIPS priority which was Incident Stabilization. In other words, I shared with you how to keep a bad situation from getting worse.

This category is the creature comfort area; the luxuries if you will. All joking aside, these are really the items that will make your initial survival period livable. Now let’s get on with category #3 – Property  & Life Conservation :

Survival Cache - Property ConservationMountain House Granola with Milk Bluberries#1 Item – Food. I chose freeze dried food for a number of reasons:

  • Lasts forever (in relative terms).
  • Heavy duty packaging; already resists water impingement.
  • Easy to eat and move at the same time.
  • You don’t need water to eat it.
  • Mountain House is a brand I like; it just tastes good. And –
    • I chose the Granola with milk & blueberries.
    • There are 500 calories in the food pack; lots of fuel.
    • 16 grams of protein to keep you going over a period of time.
    • 19 grams of fat. Great supplement to small game which usually is low-fat meat.
    • 69 grams of carbohydrate gives you instant energy.Plastic spork for survival cache

#2 Item – Spork, yup, a spork! A “spork” is a combination fork & spoon; reduces the number of items needed to eat. For the cache I use a simple plastic spork.

#3 Item – Compass. I chose very basic compass because it is simple to use, inexpensive and will do the job just fine. All you gotta really know is what direction you are going when you are traveling during an emergency. Unless you have a specific detailed route to a specific destination.  And yes, you better have a direction and destination that you need to head; that is called a plan. And don’t think you can just go with the sun and stars, that takes an expert and a clear sky.

#4 Item – Insect repellent. This item might seem a bit silly; but have you ever been afflicted with serious mosquitoes? If Smith's 2-step Edgesport knife sharpener for survival cacheyou are trying to take a nap and the bugs won’t let you sleep, then you run out of energy pretty quickly.

#5 Item – Knife sharpener. I chose the Smith’s 2-step Edgesport. If you are using your knife then it is probably going to get dull. A dull knife is as useless as a Speedo in Alaska in the winter. I chose this particular sharpener because it is simple, easy to use and a no-brainer. You slide the blade through it. Yes, there are plenty of other kinds of sharpeners, chose whatever is best for you.

#6 Item – Backpack. I chose the Outdoor Products Packable Day Pack because it was fairly cheap, small when stored, big enough to carry everything and discreet. Here are some specs on it:simple Back Pack for survival cache

  • Ultra lightweight fabric
  • Compresses to 6 inch ball
  • Expands to 15 liter day pack
  • Great additional piece for long backpacking expeditions
  • Roomy main compartment
  • Small accessory pocket with zipper closure
  • Adjustable webbing shoulder straps

Any backpack will work as long as you can get it in the can. I wouldn’t use camo colored. If someone sees you with a camo colored pack they will go on alert. Yeah I know, if they see you. I feel you must blend in and not draw attention to yourself if you are around people.

#7 Item – Cleansing towelette. Look if you’ve never been in a situation where you didn’t take a shower for multiple days (like 5) you simply haven’t lived! A wash/wipe with this towelette will make make you feel like a new person. I chose this particular kind/size but you can chose whatever you like, just make sure it is “full body size”, in other words it has to be large enough. And remember, it too is saturated with alcohol; another fire starter source. Do not throw the towelette away when you are done, put it in your pocket or in your pack with the fire starter items.

#8 Item – Flashlight & batteries. I chose a small LED flashlight that takes AAA batteries that was about $4.50 to purchase. Make sure you pack the batteries outside of the flashlight or you will get corrosion and run the batteries down faster. Make sure that they are packed so the ends of the batteries are not in contact with each other. Yes, the batteries will eventually go bad, maybe before you ever get to use them. So be creative, go acquire new batteries and rotate them in your cache every 5 – 10 years. Yes, Duracell CopperTop lasts 10 years.

#9 Item – Hand sanitizer. If I need to tell you what this is for there might just be a problem here. Keep your hands clean, use this often, use after every potty break, use before touching your water or food supply. If you want to get stopped dead in your tacks and maybe die from dehydration then get “camp crud”. I use a hand sanitizer that is high in alcohol content. Used in conjunction with your fire starter items like the cotton balls it makes a first rate fire starter.

#10 Item – Multi-tool. I chose the Gerber “Suspension” model (22-01471). It was cost effective (priced right) and it has all the pieces/tools I thought I would need while I try to survive. Notice I chose the “open design”; again, easier to keep clean and reduces weight. Some additional info on the multi-tool:

Gerber Suspension MultiTool Model 22-01471Special Features

  • Spring-loaded pliers
  • Patented Saf.T.Plus
  • Open frame design

Technical Specs

  • Model: 22-01471
  • Overall Length: 6″
  • Closed Length: 3.5″
  • Weight: 9oz.
  • Handle Material: Stainless Steel
  • Sheath Material: Ballistic nylon
  • Pliers Type: Needlenose
  • Handle Color: Titanium grey

Components

  • Needlnose pliers,
  • wire cutter,
  • fine edge knife,
  • serrated edge knife,
  • saw,
  • scissors,
  • crosspoint/phillipshead screwdriver,
  • small and medium flat-blade screwdrivers,
  • can opener,
  • bottle opener,
  • lanyard hole.

I hope I have provided you with motivation to review you situation and the potential need for basic survival items in the event of an emergency, disaster or especially a total “grid-down” event. I think the items I listed is a pretty sound package to get a person going again should the need arise. I could have put so much more in the cache but then again, where would you stop with adding more and more? However, if you find yourself in need of more gear that is no problem. Just make more boxes for you additional stuff.

If you have a family of five, three being children, then make five boxes with appropriate gear in them. Consider two different ideas about stashing them. You can place them all in close proximity, say within 50′ of each other. Or you could bury them 1/4 mile apart reducing the chances of someone accidentally finding all of them.

Whatever you decide is right for your situation I just hope you think it through and then make it happen!

If you would like some ideas on where to hide you cache you can read about it in 3 days when I post that article.

 

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
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Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #2

Survival Cache note: first appeared in March 2015

In this article I will cover items in your survival cache that will help you stabilize the dire situation you find yourself in.  These items will be the gear and equipment that assists you in keeping a bad situation from getting worse. It won’t solve all of your problems but it will help you and your family from getting yourselves in a deeper hole.  Remember the mission of this survival cache:

“Safely store sufficient essential survival gear and equipment to use as a basis to survive as I acquired additional survival gear and equipment.”

Learn more about LIPSIn the previous article in this series, Survival Cache to Stay Alive &amp; Start Over – Part #1, I went over the basic premise and concept of the survival cache.  I outlined its mission and how to make decisions on what goes in it and why.  I briefly went over the L.I.P.S. <click here to read more> concept of preparedness. And finished up by providing details on items to satisfy the first priority which was Life Preservation / Safety.

Incident StabilizationNow let’s get on with category #2 – Incident Stabilization :

Survival Cache - Incident Stabilization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 – #4 Items – Yup, it all has to do with starting a fire. And with that fire you can create warmth, and with warmth you can keep from freezing to death. I have two different types of matches; waterproof and storm-proof. Why two? I never count on only one type/brand to work 100% of the time. It’s the old “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” concept. Use any type brand of these matches you wish. The ones I chose came out of my storage that I had on hand. I threw the fire sticks in there to assist in getting a fire going. In the desert southwest you can end up in areas that have plenty of dead twigs but no fine fuels such as grass; this just gives me a an edge. I use a magnesium fire starter kit rather than flint and steel in this situation due to the fact that I want every advantage I can get when trying to start a fire. I also threw in four cotton balls; seldom would you use these in a 1st aid situation.  However, removing your make-up could be an issue I guess depending on your situation. But, you take a cotton ball, put some of the hand sanitizer on it and you have a very fast fire starter. Well, only if you have an alcohol based hand sanitizer, and you should for this kit.

#5 & #6 Items – This is the shelter part of meeting you basic survival needs. Yup, the hooded poncho is part of that, and yes you need this, even in the desert. Rain is usually colder than the surrounding air and/or it has a cooling effect on the body. So keep the rain off your body and clothing and you will help prevent your body cooling to an unsafe level. Now, if it is 90+ degrees and it begins to rain it just might feel really nice. I chose a cheap version of a poncho to keep the package small. If you are in a time of year that you don’t expect rain DO NOT throw this away. You can use it to help build a solar still, create a distraction for bad guy pursuers, etc.

The tarp is to create a barrier between you and the elements. It might be something like the 100° sun beating down on you, or a pouring rain storm, or snow coming down quick. In any event, you will probably need some kind of shelter protection. You can get whatever color you wish; I would encourage you to use a color that matches the surroundings in which you will most likely find yourself.

#7 Item – I almost included this in the last group covering shelter, and it would have been appropriate. This item is pretty much for a summer season for all areas of the country and add spring and fall for the desert southwest.  And most of winter as well. No, you don’t want to be working on your tan during a survival situation. Sun stroke is not pleasant and sun burns can be debilitating. You can end up very, very sick from a sunburn; chills, dehydration, pain, etc. If you have no hat with you, and you haven’t created head protection, then remember to use sunscreen on your head as well. Consider using the highest SPF rating you can find. And a “sports” version that resists sweat and water is always a plus. And please, please don’t get a sunscreen that smells like Caribbean beach fruit! If you are trying to hide, that smell will be a dead giveaway to any bad guys in the area.

#8 Item – First, the packet of tuna that I chose has a 3-year “use by” date on it. I chose tuna due to its high protein value. The 6.4 ounce packet I chose has 3 servings, each serving has 25% daily requirement of protein. If you space each serving out over 3 hours or so, you can keep up a fast pace and keep feeding your biological furnace. If you have to hold-up somewhere and you need energy to keep warm, there is another food item in kit for that. And yes, this is one of those items that the spork comes in handy for. If you never rotate your kit contents, no fear! Use the expired tuna for snare bait. But me, I would eat the tuna even a year, two, or three past its “use by” date.

550 Paracord#9 Item – The beloved paracord!! But not just any paracord – 550 paracord. What I want you to use is the full-blown real 550 paracord. It is called that because the “550” part refers to the cord’s break strength pound rating. Commercial paracord can be made in whatever manner the manufacturer wishes and who knows what strength rating it has. I want you to have the best 550 paracord. I chose 20′ because it would meet most of my needs to string up a shelter using the tarp, or setting snares, or getting creative with pursuit dissuading.   I think I will do another thread soon on the different uses of paracord and that might be very informative.  Consider buying a color that matches your environment; I purchased a spool (300’) of desert color (multicolor actually).

#10 Item – Simple cotton balls. These take up very little space and are great for using to assist in starting a fire. Put some alcohol based hand sanitizer on them and voom! Instant fire. I suggest using one at a time and saving the others for when they are needed.Bic disposable lighters to start a fire

Note: My favorite, most sure way of starting a fire is with a Bic lighter. However, I think it is impractical for a cache due to the potential for leaking or otherwise becoming unusable. The methods mentioned above are more stable for a cache situation.

So here ends the second category of your basic survival cache items. Get creative, add some other items, take away those you don’t need. Think it through, make it right for you. Most of all, do something! Your survival kit might not help you every time; but not having one ensures that nothing will help you.

Better to have resources and not need them, than to need resources and not have them.

In the next article I will go over the next category “Property Conservation”

 

 

 

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Survival Cache to Stay Alive & Start Over – Part #1

Survival Cachenote: first appeared in March 2015

I have been a “prepper” most of my adult life. I have been a member of fire departments or worked for the federal government in wildland fire most of my adult life. I have learned incredible life-saving skills through my emergency services training as well as some great private training opportunities. I have taught myself a whole bunch over the years as well. So I consider myself, and my family, to be pretty well prepared and skilled. It wasn’t until about 8 or 9 years ago that I became worried about “grid-down” and the associated risks and threats. I wrote this article to address the “grid-down” scenario where I thought I wasn’t as prepared as I felt I should be.

Preparing for grid-down is a special kind of prepping because you must look at a wide range of scenarios. For a number of years I acquired long-term food storage, seeds, and multiple ways to filter/purify water, and other necessities. Then I really put some thought to what might happen if I couldn’t use the prepper items that I have put into storage. That got me a bit worried…OK, more than just a little bit.Build your Survival Skills

The #1 thing that is absolutely critical to surviving any emergency, disaster and especially “grid-down” are skills. I am OK in that area. But without some kind of gear to work with it makes it much, much harder. So that became a focus of my efforts for awhile…acquiring the right gear.

The purpose of my posting this thread is quite simple – provide you with some solid ideas on what you might need to cache solely for “survival”. Yup, SURVIVAL!

Mission –

Safely store sufficient essential survival gear and equipment to use as a basis to survive as I acquire additional survival gear and equipment.

So here is the premise of the situation used to develop the list:SurvivalCache02

  1. You are thrust into a situation where your first priority it simple survival.
  2. You have nothing with you or on you that is of any significant value.
  3. You must provide the basics of life, especially life safety.
  4. This is based on the L.I.P.S. decision and priority setting system.

Why even have a priority setting and decision making system?

Without it, how will you consistently make the best decisions and set the right priorities? L.I.P.S. provides that system; based on decades of emergency, Learn more about LIPSlife threatening, and high stress situations. A recap of the L.I.P.S. system:

  • Life Preservation/Safety
  • Incident Stabilization
  • Property & Life Preservation
  • Societal Restoration

Life Preservation/Safety – These are the priorities that must be set and decisions made to save your life. The most basic of human body needs (i.e. stop bleeding from a wound, protect yourself from an attacker, prevent death from dehydration, etc.)

Incident Stabilization – Don’t let a bad situation get worse; and potentially become a Life Preservation/Safety problem. This meets the next level of needs; examples – don’t starve to death, warmth, shelter, protection from the environment.

Property & Life Preservation – This means don’t destroy resources unnecessarily. Examples – Don’t destroy the edge on your knife trying to sharpen it on a rock, have a knife sharpener. Don’t allow insects to bother you so much that they won’t let you sleep or worse, have insect repellent.

Societal Restoration – This item means that you will restore society (or at least your part of it) back to the condition it was in prior to the event. This category is outside the scope of this discussion and will not be addressed.

So where does this come from?

  1. 40 years of preparedness experience
  2. 25 years of emergency situation experience
  3. 4+ years of military experience
  4. Teaching wilderness survival in the 70’s & 80’s
  5. Spending 4 – 16 weeks a year in some of the most remote areas in the United States
  6. Research from those people with even more experience than myself
  7. Common sense

If you don’t know and understand the L.I.P.S. system you really need to read this article

For now I will just post the list and give you time to look it over and think about it. 50cal ammo can - survival cache

Here is my list. It all fits in a standard .50cal ammo can that the military uses and you can purchase as surplus. They are available for about $12.00 each. I vacuum sealed most of the items for added protection. The total cost for all the items purchased brand new was $195.16

Don’t freak over the cost. Many of these items you may already have sitting around the house, garage, or shop. For now, just look over the list and think through it. And don’t forget to check thrift stores and garage sales when it comes time to acquire your items.

Let’s get started with the first category, but before we do I think we should review a couple things:

  1. We must have a very specific defined “mission” for this kit; otherwise, we will just wander around adding more and more until we need a backhoe to bury a decent sized trailer full of items, including a small refrigerator. So the mission of this kit is to help us survive, period, nothing more. And survive in the term of just that -basic survival- nothing more. That means you must have a plan for what to do after you get your hands on this kit. Example: Make it home, or, get to your retreat, or, meet up with your family, or, get to “______” (fill in the blank). This kit is not to provide you with a camp, to arm you for a battle, to feed your church friends and families. This is just to survive till you can accomplish the next step in your plan.
  2. With the mission defined, the next issue to be resolved is exactly what do you put into this kit. If you don’t have a system by which you make these decisions you may well overlook a life-saving item for a creature comfort item. So I fall back on a simple but highly effective priority setting & decision making system called LIPS that I talked about earlier. Without an effective and proven decision and priority setting system you will struggle to decide what items that must be in there and what items can be in there.  And that is entirely different than what items you would like to have in there.Life Preservation and life safety - survival cache

So let’s move on to the first category of items to place in your kit, “Life Preservation / Safety” :

This category is the most important and the most urgent. The items contained in this category are those items that will save your life.  I’ve listed them in order of priority. Maybe it would be better said, “…in my priority order.” My situation may be far different than yours. My idea of what’s important may be different than yours.  Then again, maybe I am just missing something that you catch and feel is more important for your situation. That is fine with me, just use LIPS to justify and validate what you are doing.

So this category is all about saving your life – period. It is about making it through the next 1 – 8 hours of your dire survival situation. At this point nothing more matters, simply surviving the next 1 – 8 hours.

Survival Cache - Life Preservation

#1 & #2 Items – First Aid items; field dressing and triangular bandage. I come from the old school of first aid…I still remember my Army first aid training back in military school…”STOP THE BLEEDING!” But, I noticed that as I continued to gain additional medical training, including Dressing12" - Medical Care - Squad Trauma Aid KitEMT, it was still pretty much the same. So here is how LIPS comes into play…

If you are bleeding and it doesn’t stop…you are going to die; so stop the bleeding. Hence, field dressings are more important than water. You can live another 10 or 20 hours without water but you can easily finish bleeding to death before you die of thirst. And you will die of thirst before you die of starvation. So you might be thinking, “Yeah, but I am in a full-on firefight and if I don’t have ammunition I will get shot!!”

You might just be right, but this is not a weapons cache, this is a survival cache.

But you might be saying, “Well, if first aid is so important then we need a whole lot more first aid items!!”

You might just be right, but this is not a first aid cache, this is a survival cache.

You see without defining the mission of this cache you could go crazy putting a whole bunch of items in it and having a small trailer full of stuff that you may or may not end up needing. But clearly defining the mission and having a decision making system (LIPS) you can figure out what you need.

Does that mean you don’t need ammo or more first aid items? Of course not. It is just not the mission of this cache to provide it. Can you have more than one container of cached items? Duh, of course you can.  You can do whatever you wish, but we can talk more about that later. For now we will stay on task.

So #1 & #2 are to stop bleeding and assist in setting a splint if needed.

portable aqua water purification tablets#3 & #4 Items – In my part of the country water is scarce and the lack of it will kill you pretty quickly. So I included a bottle of water to have on hand to consume quickly to rehydrate before delusional thinking sets in and/or to prevent imminent death. I chose water purification tablets over any filter, not because they are any better, they are just smaller and they do the job. There is water in our area but you may have to go looking (i.e. hike a couple miles) to find it. That bottle of water will help keep you alive till you find some other water source, even if it is just a cattle tank.

#5, #6 & #7 Items – You have to be able to defend yourself and be able to prepare food; to me, knives are the answer. Why not a gun? Come on, we talked about that already, this is not a weapons cache, it is a survival cache. If you want to make a weapons cache that is fine with me but that is another thread of information, just not this one. So notice the three different sizes of knives; large every day carry (EDC) knife, a smaller pocket knife, and a very small knife. Each has a job, and to me, each is needed.Gerber paraframe knife

EDC knife – this is your work horse knife. It will be used as a primary defensive weapon, then used to assist with food preparation, then other tasks as needed.   I chose a Gerber “paraframe” model. I like the weight and feel of the knife, open to ease cleaning, securely locks open, thumb assist, holds an edge and sharpens easily. And it is only $17.97!! Sure there are lots of better knives, like my EDC which is a Spyderco Paramilitary2, great knife!!! But is costs $130 vs. $18. Remember this little piece of info – YOU MAY NEVER USE YOUR CACHE, YOU MAY NEVER COME BACK TO IT, YOU MAY NEVER FIND IT or SOMEONE MAY STEAL IT. So do you want to lose a $18 knife or a $130 knife? Up to you.

Gerber model STL 2.0 knifePocket knife – this is your back-up knife, the knife that you will use in the event that your EDC is not available. You can designate it as the knife you will use to skin small animals such as squirrels and such. Or you may turn it into the knife that you integrate into a strong stick and make it into a spear. You may use it as part of a snare, trap, etc.; your choice. I chose the Gerber model STL 2.0 (black). This is a great little knife!  I really like it. It doesn’t take up any room to speak of in your pants pocket; it’s flat, strong, great blade, holds an edge and sharpens easily. It locks open very well, no fear of inadvertent closing. But I am not crazy about knives that have the locking mechanism on the cutting edge side of the blade. This knife as well as the Paraframe have such a locking mechanism, nothing is perfect. But this is truly a nice little knife. And it is only $12.97!

SOG Micron knifeMicron knife – yeah, this one may surprise you a bit, it did me the first time I saw it but know I love em and always carry one. The knife is called a micron knife for a reason; it is less that 2” closed and just under 3-1/2” open. It is only about 1/8” thick at the handle. So you wonder what you could use it for? For me it is primarily a back-up weapon. Yup! You read that right. It is small but will cut an artery just fine. But most of all it is easily concealable. I won’t tell you where you can hide it, coz I don’t want to give away my hiding places.  But think it through and get creative. Also, you can integrate it into a decent size stick and you have a great little spear. I chose the SOG Micron based on overall quality and craftsmanship. Yes, it costs $12.88 (9 cents less than the Gerber pocket knife), but it is money well spent when you need a knife the bad guys couldn’t find when they search you. I didn’t seal this in a bag because I want it available to cut open the sealed bags in the can. Yes, I could have left out any of the knives but I chose this one because it is the one that is the least operationally valuable of the three knives. The one I want to lose if I have to lose one.

#8 Item – You might think that in the desert southwest we wouldn’t be in need of something such as a “body warmer”. But truth is, nights here can get cold, even during the summer. When you are exposed to 90’s and 100’s during the day and it drops to 68 at night, that is cold. During the winter it drops to 20’s at times; that is REALLY cold! You die of exposure pretty quickly so be prepared to have a heat source that can be quickly implemented. Yes, you could build a fire. But what if you had no fuel around you right then? What if the bad guys were pursuing you and a fire would give you away? What if you were so cold, it was raining, and your hands were shaking uncontrollably? Yup, a warmer could be put into play immediately. I chose the Grabber Peel n’ Stick Body Warmer because they work, lasts for 12 hours, you can put it where it is needed and they stay there. Oh, and they are less than a $1. If you are in a colder climate you can probably add more to your cache can without using up much space. So why didn’t I place it in a sealed bag? Coz I didn’t want to be shaking uncontrollably from hypothermia and have to deal with my knife to cut open a sealed bag to get to it. Or risk cutting open a hunk of skin instead of the bag.

#9 Item – Yup, you read it right, bobby pins. There are a number of uses for them, do some research on the Internet. But most of all, a little secret, if the bad guys put you in handcuffs a bobby pin is a very good key. Really?

#10 Item – I struggled a bit putting a Pocket Saw in this category but there is a reason that it is in this category vs. the next one. Yes, this saw can be used to create fuel for a small fire but it can also be used as a very effective and silent weapon. Sorry, that may sound a bit gross or heathen-like but we are talking survival here. And you can’t survive if someone can kill you. If you want to know more about using pocket saw as a weapon let’s make that another post or thread; one best related by one of our resident experts.  I choose Coghlan’s based on quality, value and being readily available.

The Original Space Brand Emergency BagThe Original Space Brand Emergency Bag#11 Item – You can die from hypothermia rather quickly. If it is cold enough you could die within a couple hours, maybe less. I chose the Space Bag over the space blanket because it is slightly heavier weight and will completely surround you and stay in place. A blanket can be a bit unwieldy and leave gaps where cold drafts can get to you. Mostly, this is a personal preference…if you like a space blanket, by all means go for it. The point is…it will keep you warm! It will also resist other elements such as wind, rain, snow, etc. Also, if you build a fire you can use it to reflect the heat back at you, warming both your front and back at the same time. And should you have access to a sleeping bag of any kind you could potentially survive some very very cold weather.   I chose the Grabber reflective bag based on availability, quality and price.

#12 Item – Yeah, why the heck would I put camo paint on the list at all, let alone in this critical category?   Well, remember Duck Commander War Paint - cammo paint make-upwhen I was talking about defensive weapons, being able to defend yourself? One of the best defenses is being unnoticed. If the bad guys can’t see you they can’t attack you. I would have put this up the priority list if this had been a “tactical cache” but it isn’t, but it is still important. Want to know how good this can work? In normal street clothes go hide in the environment around where you live, in the woods, in the desert or wherever. Now have someone just stand there and look for you. I bet I know what one of the first things their eye will be drawn to – your face. Now, do the same thing with camo paint on your face. See what the difference is. So one minor note, if you are trying to hide in the big city and are walking around the streets with people around you – ah, you might want to hold off on the camo paint. Just as a thought. I chose Commander War Paint because it was what was on the shelf, it was decent priced and it had a mirror with it. Yup, a mirror was a selling point. One of the important things in an emergency or disaster is communications. You can see a mirror flash for many miles.

So there you go, category #1 is done. I gave you a list of what I consider the basics to survive the first hour to 8 hours. You can add to this list if you have the space, have different priorities or just want to. You can buy the items wherever you wish, just remember to get the best quality for a reasonable price.

Why a reasonable price? You may never use this stuff, you may never find it, you may have it stolen. What you put in here you may never see again. So you don’t want to cry too many tears if you lose it.

In the next article I will go over the second category “Incident Stabilization”

 

 

 

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