Friday, January 31, 2014

SHTFriday: Zones of Assessment - Every Day Carry

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
Back in 1979, when I was six or seven, my family moved to Germany. My father was an active duty Army O-5, and part of his duties in Cold War Germany involved studying the Fulda Gap and other "What if World War 3 Happens?" strategies.  (Fun fact:  He was one of the brass who planned and implemented Able Archer 83.)

If you've never lived in a foreign country as a child, it's a strange experience. I had to leave behind practically everything I knew about life to go live in a strange place where the weather was different, people spoke a different language, and I was surrounded by soldiers. None of this was especially bad, just highly unusual by anyone's standards -- and paradigm-shattering for a child.

The bad part was when we were told that, due to our strategic location, the Russians could invade AT ANY MOMENT and that one day (probably in the dead of night) my dad would get a phone call, and he'd have to go off to war and probably never be seen again. Worse, if that happened, my mom -- called the Senior Noncombatant in military parlance -- would only have a few minutes to get me, my brother, my sister and herself dressed, pack a few suitcases, grab our critical documents and head off to the airport to be evacuated back to the States.

Think about that for a moment:  You're a kid, and you're told that at any moment, life as you know it could come crashing down and in the space of an hour you'd lose your daddy, your toys, your pets and your sense of security all at once.

So yeah, you could say that I've been a prepper of some sort since early childhood. It influenced me heavily (and some days I wonder how I didn't end up even more neurotic than I am now) to the point where I am practically obsessed with being prepared for emergencies and having the necessary tools for survival, and being able to Get Out Of Dodge at a moment's notice.

All of which is a longwinded way of saying "Hi, I like to carry gear with me on a regular basis." I'm no longer worried about nuclear war (believe me, I learned to stop worrying and accept that which I could not change damn quickly), but I still like to be prepared for emergencies. Living in Florida means I have lot of emergencies for which I can prepare.

To no one's great surprise, my childhood heroes were Batman, Han Solo, and James Bond. They had gear, they had training, they had confidence, and they had really bitchin' rides that could get them out of trouble. Don't get me wrong, I'm still quite fond of them, but to that list I've added preparedness experts. I watch survival shows like some folks watch sports, and one of my favorites is Canadian survival expert Les "Survivorman" Stroud.  He has a technique called "Zones of Assessment" that he uses to determine what he has (and therefore, what he needs to do/get/have) in an emergency situation:

  • Zone One: What you have on your body
  • Zone Two: What you have access to (immediate surrounding)
  • Zone Three: What you can get (accessible after a short walk)

I've adapted his technique for preparedness:
  • Zone One: Every Day Carry
  • Zone Two: Car Kit/ Get Home Bag/ Bug Out Bag
  • Zone Three: What you can get from the environment
Today's post, as you may have deduced from the title, is about Zone One. These are the items that you have on your body, and therefore (barring injury) have constant access to and positive control over. 

There are a few "Well, duh" items on this list:  
  • Your clothes, obviously. 
  • Your shoes. 
  • Your glasses, if you need them. 
  • Whatever knowledge and training you have. 
Congratulations! Unless you're naked, you have rudimentary means of shelter, mobility, and means to take care of yourself. 

Then there's gear. What you carry is up to you and should be based upon your budget, your abilities, and what you're comfortable carrying. Here are what I carry every single time I leave the house. Yes, even to church - I've had to use the first aid kit when an elderly member of my congregation collapsed during service, and I was glad to have it. 

Top to bottom, left to right:
I love my Hip Holster. It holds stuff like a purse, but I put it around my waist so my arms are free. (Also, because it carries like a thigh holster, it makes me feel like I'm Captain Malcolm Solo of the Millennium Firefly whenever I wear it.)

Here's what it carries:

Lots of cool and useful stuff, eh?  Apologies in advance for the big ol' list that's about to descend, but this is my inventory of every day carry:
  • Emergency money (zippered pouch in back)
  • Surefire EP4 Sonic Defender earplugs
  • Pen
  • SOA MT1 knife (more on this below)
  • Nebo Blueline
  • 17 round magazine with 2-round extension (meaning that I have 30 rounds JHP on my person at all times)
  • Eze-Lap pocket diamond sharpener
  • NRA-branded multitool (with driver set)
  • Bic disposable lighter
  • My wallet (made of aluminum so my cards cannot be accessed by RFID readers)
  • A tube of commonly-used medications (painkillers, antihistamines, etc)
  • A small first aid kit containing:

    • The usual alcohol swabs, band-aids, first-aid tape, ointment for stings & burns
    • Fresnel lens for magnification
    • Rescue whistle
    • Small signal mirror
    • Capsule of smelling salts
    • Blister pack of Benadryl 

And here's a better look at my tools:

The SOA MT1 is my utility knife: it's cheap enough that if I beat it to death, or lose it, or have it confiscated by TSA, I won't be heartbroken. I confess that the design is over-the-top macho, and the blade is only 440 stainless. Still, it's a decent knife for doing knife-y things, and I like the integral glass-breaker and seatbelt cutter.

My Ka-Bar is named Tamara, and you can read more about her here. Yes, she's named after that Tamara, who was the inspiration to get the knife in the first place. 

My Glock 26 is named Oleg, and you can read more about him here. Yes, he's named after that Oleg, who helped raise donations so that I could afford the pistol and carry permit. Seeing a pattern?

Now some of you may be asking, "This is called Blue-Collar Prepping. How did you afford all of this?"

Well, let me tell you that I didn't did it overnight. My EDC kit has been a work in progress for many years, and I am constantly adding to it. Also, many of the items were gifts:
  • The iPhone belonged to my brother, and he gave me his old one for Christmas after he upgraded. 
  • The Hip-Holster was a birthday present. 
  • The watch (and strap) was another Christmas present. 
  • The Leatherman and Wallet were repurposed from my father, who got them as gifts and never used them.
  • As I said earlier, my Glock was crowdfunded by gunnies who wanted to see a pro-2A blogger armed. 
So there are indeed ways to prepare, even if you have a disposable income of less than $50 a week. 

To reiterate:  this is just Zone One. Wait until I talk about Zone Two before you accuse me of forgetting anything  (although I probably have... I always forget things). 

Questions and comments are always welcome!  Please, leave feedback below. 

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Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to