EDC as a Lifestyle

I was reviewing my blog, and as it turns out, in the years I’ve been writing this, I’ve never done a post on my everyday carry. This seems strange to me, since most of it hasn’t changed in a long time.

To start with, I’ve carried a pocket knife for as long as I can remember. Starting in about the 7th grade, I carried a Boy Scout version Swiss Army knife, up until about the time I graduated from high school. Yes, in those days we could carry a knife with no comment from anyone at school. I even had a teacher borrow mine once or twice.

I changed knives in college, and then went back to the Swiss Army knife you see above, in 1992.

I added the Leatherman tool a few years ago after I received it as a gift. I particularly like it because it’s got tools I can use, like pliers and a file. But the thing I like best is that it doesn’t have a blade, so the TSA lets me take it on an airplane, and so when I travel without checking bags, I’ve got something, at least.

In the same vein, I’ve carried a flashlight for my whole career. As a chemical engineer, there are many times every day when I needed to be able to see something in a shadow or in the dark, and I started carrying an explosion proof flashlight. I still do, only this one is 200 lumens, and uses AA batteries. I keep about 6 rechargeable batteries in rotation, and when the last charged set of 2 go in, the other 4 go in the charger overnight. When I travel, I always carry a spare set of batteries, and I keep a set of 4 in the Get Home Bag.

Next is my wallet. All I carry in there is my various ID – driver’s license, Weapons Carry License, insurance cards, and the like – and my credit cards, and a few business cards. I haven’t carried cash in my wallet since I was in college, and when I do I carry it in a different pocket than the wallet. This has to do with avoiding pickpockets.

In fact, I always carry these things in certain pockets, for a reason. Here’s where:

Right front: cell phone, knives, car keys, cash, and a pen.

Left front: wallet, flashlight.

Left rear: a handkerchief.

Note I don’t carry my wallet in a back pocket, so I can avoid pickpockets. I also carry my wallet on the left side, so if I’m asked by a policeman for my ID, I’m not reaching on the same as my pistol.

I also carry my flashlight in my left pocket, so I can draw it and go to a Harries or other flashlight hold.

On a similar note, in my car I keep my insurance card and registration in a folder on the back of the driver’s side sun visor, since I can’t promise that I haven’t just been to the post office, which would mean my pistol is in the glove box. Again, no sense drawing attention to anything I don’t have to.

Now we get to the most recent addition – a pistol. In the summer I carry Liberty, my G19, IWB at 3 o’clock.

In the winter I mostly carry Bruce, my G17, on my belt OWB at 3 o’clock, with an open shirt or jacket or fleece vest over it.

Year round I carry a G17 magazine with a plus-2 extender on my left side at 3 o’clock.

So there you have it. Nothing that isn’t part of my life, for quite a while.

Having said that . . .

I will likely add a medical pack in the near future, now that Linoge has shown how to put it all in a cell phone case. Stay tuned.

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My Takeaway from the Great Crusade – Be Prepared

Order of the Day

I have been thinking today about this 71st anniversary of the D Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading social media posts about it.

One conversation with Jeff Anderson got me thinking.

Remembering

Now, when the D Day scenes in Saving Private Ryan were shown to men who were there, it was so realistic to them that many of them walked out. But today I am struck by thoughts of the whole sensory experience –

The deafening sounds of incoming and outgoing gunfire

The sounds of the wounded

The sounds of the overwhelmed

The smells – of seawater, of blood, of exhaust, of burned gunpowder

More than that, though, I am struck by the fear, and thoughts of how I would react.

Like most people, I have had some experience with fear in my life. I know that feeling, that almost sickening feeling, and that urge to freeze. I have come to know, however, that if I am trained on the situation at hand, no matter how much fear I feel, I will be okay. (Well, I will be a lot better off than if I am not trained, any way.)

I have faced situations where I have, shall we say, not reacted optimally in the face of fear. I have frozen, either physically or emotionally, and I have been of little or no use to those around me. I regret those times.

But there are times when I have been in fearful situations where I have been trained in how to respond, and I have done so, rather well, in my opinion.

In truth, this should not be surprising. After all, even the Boy Scouts knew this, when they taught me to Be Prepared. And that, after all, is why we train.

So the difference for me comes down to training, to Being Prepared. The men on the beaches of Normandy were Prepared, and they responded with valor and determination. And that made all the difference.

For me, I take this remembrance of D Day, the thoughts of the fear those men faced, as an added resolve to seek more training, not just in the situations where it would seem obvious that training is needed, but in situations less obvious – carjackings, home invasions, mass shootings. Because I know, for me, that will make all the difference.

Be Prepared, Part 11 – Chaos

zombie-hordeSeptember is National Preparedness Month, so I thought I bring you at least one more installment in this popular series, Be Prepared.

As events like the Boston Marathon bombings, September 11, and Hurricane Katrina have shown us, our world can be thrown into Chaos any time. Keeping our families safe is always a priority, and in a time of Chaos, it becomes even more important, as it becomes more difficult.

Of course, the problem with Chaos, as Jurassic Park’s  Dr. Ian Malcolm would tell you, is that anything can, and does, happen. It is, by nature, unpredictable. You cannot predict, with any degree of certainty, what will happen, or how people or systems will react to any given situation.

But that does not mean that we can’t make plans based on scenarios that we think are likely to happen. The best example of this is the reason every car comes with a spare tire and a jack. We can’t predict when or where, or even if, we will have a flat tire, but we can be prepared for it, and train for it by learning how to safely change a tire.

Most readers of this blog have also done that in a more specific way, by deciding that there is a finite probability, as Tom Givens would say, that we will encounter someone who needs to be shot. So, we carry a concealed weapon, we train ourselves in its use, and we prepare to deal with those consequences.

So, make a plan.

When we did our family plan, one thing we saw was that a lot of times we might not have a clear picture of what was happening – there would be Chaos. For us, the best way to mitigate that Chaos was to have everyone in the same place, preferably at home. So, in the event of Chaos, we need to know:

  • How is everybody? Are they injured? Are they threatened, or are they safe? If they are safe, are there threats in the area?
  • Where is everybody? If they aren’t at home, how can we get them home safely? Can they do it alone or do they need assistance?
  • What is the immediate situation, and what is the outlook for the foreseeable future? Do we need to move?

Then the plan becomes taking care of the answers to these questions – getting everyone safely home. In the course of this, here are some of the things our family came up with:

  • Every vehicle has a first aid kit, ponchos, food, and water.
  • My son goes to school with a first aid kid, poncho, food, and water. If has has to, he can walk home 5 miles. He knows the way home cross-country, avoiding main roads.
  • My daughter goes to college in downtown Atlanta, about 30 miles from where we live in the suburbs. One of the things we plan for is the possibility that she might need to evacuate downtown, but that she might be unable to do so safely by herself. As a result, I never leave my car at night without enough gasoline to get downtown and back.
  • I know 4 different ways to her college that don’t involve taking a main highway.
  • In the event of real unrest, communication is essential. For that reason, everyone in my family has a printed list of phone numbers of all the other members, plus others outside our area. We don’t rely on the phone list in our cell phones, since those may be lost, broken, or the batteries may be dead.
  • In real unrest, cell phones will be overloaded, as they were after the Boston Marathon bombing, and making calls will be nearly impossible. However, since the SMS text system uses the cell phone’s carrier signal to broadcast, if you have cell bars, you can almost always send text messages. Our family shares a text messaging plan, and we also know the codes to send emails to text messages. Look that up for your carrier.
  • Because it might not be easy or prudent to send a long text message, we all have a list of codes to use in text messages.
  • Family members outside our area are included in the system. Heaven forbid, “bug out” might get real.
  • In event of real bug out, we have a series of pre-chosen rendezvous points, depending on the direction we choose to go, which would be picked based on the threat and likelihood of threat in the direction we choose. We also have them picked based on how far we need to go.

In the end, you can’t plan for everything, but you can expect the Chaos that will come. Have a plan.

Be Prepared Part 6 – A Yellow Day

This weekend my wife and I had a few more discussions about family safety and preparedness. It started with another robbery in the news, where some people were mugged, and despite giving the robbers what they wanted, were shot and killed. Our take was that there was really no excuse for two people together to be surprised by a robber, if they were paying attention to their surroundings. That got us to talking about awareness.

There are a lot of ways to describe our levels of awareness, and maybe the best was put forth by Lt. Colonel Jeff Cooper in his book Principles of Personal Defense. My wife is not a reader of the good Lt. Colonel Cooper, so I talked a little about his color code. For those who might have missed this or forgotten, Cooper summarized those this way:

White – Unaware and unprepared.

Yellow – Relaxed but alert of your surroundings, and prepared to defend yourself if necessary. You see people and things coming in and out of your area, and you assess them for threat, almost subconsciously.

Orange – Something is not quite right and has your attention. It may be time to take furtive evasive action or other action.

Red – In an active fight. It’s time to either get away, or defend yourself if needed.

She seemed to really take to our discussion, so we talked about how we can work as a team when we’re out, watching out for each other. She immediately noted that we would be in Yellow all the time, but if one of us sensed something, we needed to be able to tell the other without alerting the threat. After some talk, we decided our code for that would be to pointedly use the word “orange,” as in “I feel orange right now, three o’clock.”

We’d had the Condition Red talk before, without using that phrase, and she has always known that if I ever had to draw my gun, it would not be to threaten, it would be because, as Tom Givens put it, there was somebody there who needed to be shot. That would be her cue to move with the kids as fast as she could away from me and away from the threat, since I then became the number one target for whoever we were confronting.

Later, we went out for a little shopping, and we talked about this again in the car. The telling time happened when we stopped to use an ATM in a part of town we don’t normally frequent. As we pulled up I talked about what I was going to do, and she agreed to watch out for anyone approaching the car.

My ATM routine is simple. Pull up as close to the ATM as I can so I don’t have to open the door. Keep the doors locked. Keep the car in gear. Don’t keep my arm hanging out of the car while I wait. As money, card, and receipt come out of the car, I shuffle them into my other hand and into the car. As soon as the ATM is done, I pull away, and I put the money and card away when I stop later.

We finished our shopping and got home with no incidents.

Now, I admit, we used to go our way in condition white, or as we also call it, Fat, Dumb, and Happy. So, did our awareness spoil the time together? Not at all. In fact, we probably felt better because we knew we were watching out for each other, even more than before.

It was a yellow day.

Be Prepared

When I was in school I was a Boy Scout, and while I never rose as far as I would have liked to (I made First Class), the principles of Scouting have stayed with me all these years. By far the best thing I learned was to live the Scout Motto, Be Prepared. Today, there are countless expressions of this concept, from Colonel Cooper’s color code, to the OODA Loop.

This is the fist in a series of postings where I plan to talk about emergency planning and what I have done. I don’t pretend that my way of planning is the only way or the best. It’s just what I have done. But I hope you can learn from it.

First, I sat down and made a list of the kinds of emergencies that my family and I could face. This was a brainstorming session, and I didn’t question the probability of any event at this time. Yes, the list was extensive, and it includes black holes and alien invasion. To me it was important to consider the larger emergencies, because when you really think about them, a lot of the preparations you make for more intimate events like a fire or home invasion would be the same you would make for them.

My wife and I then picked the most likely events, and the easiest preparations, and made our plan. We’ve been at the plan for a few years, and we are steadily making progress. Here are some of the low hanging fruit, as it were, that we found we could do right away.

Make a printed telephone list. We found that we were all relying on our cell phone address books for contact information, but, if we lost our cell phones in an emergency, that information is lost, too.

Make sure there is a family member or friend outside your immediate area who will agree to be a contact for everyone, if necessary. This came from some reports during Katrina and other emergencies, where local communications were impossible, but where people could call or email someone outside the affected area.

Make sure you have a texting plan on your cell phones. This is because text messages are sent by a different method than cell phone calls, using the carrier signal that the cell phone tower uses to keep track of where your phone is. Even if the all cell phone circuits are busy in an emergency, it may be possible to send short text messages. Make sure everyone knows short messages they can send quickly.

Make sure your guns are locked up away from any children. They should not only be out of reach, but out of the prying eyes. Our kids never knew where I kept our pistol safe until they were old enough and they were trained how to use them. Make sure all the responsible adults in your household are trained, and know how to access them.

Practice. Just as you should have fire drills, practice other kinds of drills – tornado drills, earthquake drills, home invasion drills. When you are out in public, always stay alert (Cooper’s Condition Yellow at a minimum), and practice finding the quickest path to safety.