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Friday, February 13, 2015

The 12 C's of Preparedness

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
(A shorter version of this article appeared on Episode 23 of the Gun Blog Variety Cast. It has been written at the request of readers who desire a written record.)

I have mentioned before that I enjoy watching survival shows. Some of them I legitimately enjoy as a source of quality instruction (I will watch anything with Les Stroud or Mykel Hawke in it); some I watch as a kind of "survival sitcom" to laugh at the scripted scenarios (Bear Grylls might be competent but he's bought into his own hype) or poor choices (Naked and Afraid); and some (like Doomsday Preppers) I watch for reasons I can only call "Prepping Penance" -- or possibly I just have a masochistic streak and enjoy grinding my teeth.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I watched Dual Survival back when it was Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin (I called it "Odd Couple Survival"), and that I preferred Dave's crusty military approach to Cody's hippie-drippy barefoot style.

Dave left/quit/was fired from the show after two seasons due to a disagreement with the producers, and while his claims of badassery in the Army have turned out to be false, I still like the guy and feel he has some good ideas regarding survival. One of those ideas is a mnemonic he calls "The 10 C's of Survival."

The 10 C's, like the name suggests, are 10 things that will keep you alive in the wilderness, and they
all start with the letter C to help you remember them. They are:
  1. Cutting Tool
  2. Combustion
  3. Container
  4. Cordage
  5. Cover
  6. Candle
  7. Cotton
  8. Compass
  9. Cargo Tape
  10. Canvas Needle
Many of these are good things for preppers to have in their cars or Get Home Bags, or even for Every Day Carry. However, some are a bit specialized, and so I replaced some and added others to come up with what I call the 12 C's of Preparedness.

1) Cutting Tool: Obviously a knife of some sort, they have various uses form opening packages to self-defense. The best kinds are full-tang knives (where the metal of the knife extends all the way to the back without narrowing), although for lighter use a rat-tail tang is acceptable.
  • For EDC I recommend the Ka-Bar TDI. Designed by a law-enforcement officer and made by a company that sells knives to the Marine Corps, it's a great full-tang, all-around knife that you can get in a variety of sizes, shapes and blade profiles. 
  • For a GHB, the Mora Clipper is a great all-around knife that is inexpensive without being cheap. It's not a full-tang knife, but the tang is reinforced by the very strong plastic of the handle -- I wouldn't put my entire weight on it, but it's strong enough to handle most abuse, including batoning. 
  • For a BOB I endorse the Cold Steel Kukri Machete based on years of experience with it. Its shape gives it amazing chopping power, and it's made from 1055 carbon steel that can take any kind of punishment you care to dish out. 
2) Combustion: The ability to start a fire should never be underestimated. Not only can it keep you alive. you never know when you might need to light a candle or burn off a stray thread.

While there are a variety of options out there, from Fresnel Lenses to Sparkies, to my mind nothing beats a good old disposable Bic lighter. Get them by the package at the grocery store and put one in every bag. 

3) Container:  A fancy way of saying "water bottle". I recommend the following characteristics:
  • As large as you are comfortable using, but at least 24 ounces.
  • A wide mouth -- makes it easier to fill from shallow streams, easier to clean, and easier to add/remove items if you store survival items inside it when not using it.
  • Stainless steel (or titanium) and not aluminum -- stronger, and no worries about chemicals leaching into the water.
  • Unlined, single-wall construction -- so that you can boil water inside the bottle to purify it.
  • Unpainted -- some paints will either catch fire, or insulate against the heat.
A good example of all these characteristics can be found here

4) Cordage:  Paracord has so many uses that I can't list them all. Just get some and carry it with you: wrap it around your water bottle, replace your shoelaces with it, wear a bracelet of it; just have some. 

5) Cover: "Cover" is a bit of a catch-all term, as it encompasses both clothing and improvised shelter. But put simply:
  • Always dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Always have a warm jacket, rain gear and waterproof boots in your vehicle.
  • Always have something like a tarp in your car, so you can make a lean-to.
    • Alternately, have something like an Army poncho with you, and it can serve as both rain gear and shelter.
    • Add a poncho liner (aka "woobie") and you have an excellent way to stay warm and dry. 
  • Always have spare socks in your bag, preferably wool as that material stays warm even when wet.
  • Always have some trash bags with you, as they can be used to make improvised cold/wet weather gear and shelter, along with a variety of other uses.

6) Candle:  Not literally a candle -- although they are great things to have in a BOB or GHB, because the first thing you should light with your match or lighter is something that will burn for a long time, like a candle -- but in this case, anything that will provide light. Since we already have heat from the Combustion source, I interpret this to mean a portable light source like a flashlight. My recommendation is a Cree Ultrafire Mini, as it is small, powerful (over 100 lumens), affordable, variable in strength, and takes a single AA battery.

7) Cotton: The only time I will recommend cotton in a survival situation is in the form of a shemagh;  it can be used as a sling, a filter, a mask, and more besides. Just make sure you don't get one in gang colors, or a pattern associated with a political entity like the PLO; stick to tactical colors like olive drab, coyote brown, foliage, etc. Check out the GBVC show notes for more uses and links on how to tie one.

8) Caliber:  This is where I diverge from Dave Canterbury. I'm not going to tell you what kind of gun to carry, as that's an intensely personal choice based upon finances, hand size, body shape and local laws; I'm just going to suggest that you have the largest pistol you are comfortable carrying and operating. That last bit is most important; if you don't like practicing with it, then you won't, and what you end up with is just an expensive weight on your hip.

9) Cartridges: A gun is useless without ammunition, so carry as much as is comfortable for you. Personally, I never go anywhere without at least 30 rounds of ammo for my pistol.

10) Cell Phone: Not only is it a critical tool for keeping in touch with your family or calling 911 in an emergency, a smartphone can hold a staggering amount of information in PDF or ebook form. Load it up with info on first aid, knot tying, wilderness survival and other goodies, as well as compass and map apps, and you've tripled its usefulness.

11) Charger: A dead phone is like an empty gun, keep your alive with a spare battery pack. The Intocircuit charger has high marks and is very affordable.

12) Compression Bandage: In other words, a trauma kit. As has been pointed out elsewhere, if you carry a gun for self-defense you need to accept the possibility that you or someone else will be shot at some point, so prepare for it. I am fortunate it that I've never needed to use one, so I have no practical experience in this matter, but from what I have read I firmly believe that the Adventure Medical Trauma Pack is the best one to buy, as it is small enough to fit into a cargo pocket and is full of goodies such as:
  • 5x9 trauma pad
  • package of Quick Clot
  • nitrile gloves
  • triangular bandage
  • gauze
  • antiseptic wipes
  • and even some duct tape!
Pair with an Israeli Bandage and you've got an impressive kit that will help keep someone alive until the ambulance arrives. 


These are my 12 C's of Preparedness, and I have them with me wherever I go. How many do you have?

The Fine Print


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