Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Short Term Prep

An observation on something I've noticed: there's a lot more to prepping than stocking up on rice and ammo.

I look at my preps in stages- Short, Medium, and Long term. These vary greatly in application and type, but a well balanced approach is my goal (while admitting that I am trying to improve some drastic deficiencies in all categories). I define my time ranges a bit differently than some, so I'll sketch them out as I go.

Short- for these purposes, short term prep is my term for for time spans lasting from seconds to hours. Many people consider this the Emergency Preparedness portion of our discussion. These are things like blow-out kits, heat sources, and survival gear. Emergencies don't call ahead- I keep these with me or in my vicinity at all times. Not every emergent situation is a life-threatening emergency, of course- this why most first aid or blow-out kits rapidly run out of Band-Aids but the sterile gauze packs are all faded and old.


The Big City where I live has a Saturday Market downtown, which is mostly an artists market, with food stands and craft brewers, street performers and panhandlers. From a situational awareness standpoint, it's a mess, but its quite a bit of fun, all the same. Our last sojourn to this land of hipsters, ne'erdowells and bums was an outing with My Lovely Wife's parents, and my Father-in-law managed to very slightly injure his hand while using, most unfortunately, a portable toilet. Of all the injuries I've sustained in my life, those while using the bathroom facilities are the most awkward; one is quite embarrassed to tell of it, yet they are of great concern to prevent infection. Perish the thought of what nasty little germs are living in the porta-Johns of the Saturday market. Despite his mild protestations (it really was fairly minor, though bleeding freely at the time) we adjourned to the nearest flat surface, and his cut was shortly disinfected and a small bandage applied. Time involved: less than 45 seconds. Life threatening probably not (although we will never know what infection may have occurred without cleaning). Having a blow-out kit in my pack meant more time to enjoy the day and quickly erased a minor inconvenience.

The next example involves my own parents, and happened this past weekend. Four years ago, approximately, my mother very badly broke her ankle, which resulted in some surgery and a lot of therapy. Since that time, she has had trouble with blood pooling in her foot and ankle; circulation problems, coupled with scar tissue and half a junk drawer worth of hardware in her ankle, has forced some veins to run very shallow in her lower calf. This past weekend, she sustained a cut that, for some reason, bled in a most disturbingly profuse manner. Within a matter of moments, my home kit was produced, pressure dressing was applied, and the situation was soon remedied. Scary? Yes. But soon fixed, and no harm done.

While both these examples deal with minor medical issues, the same level of instant readiness applies to other situations. A minor fire, left unchecked in the absence of a fire extinguisher, can be the difference between the loss of a meal and a few minutes of clean-up or the loss of your home, most of your worldly possessions, and very possibly your life or your loved ones. In cold winters, it takes remarkably little time to die of exposure. The presence of a warm coat and good boots in your car, and a small shovel to dig out with, can be life, with a few minutes lost to extraction or death, either waiting for help that doesn't arrive in time or foolishly trying to walk out, in gear not fit for the situation.

Short term prep means being ready for life to arrive at a moment's notice. Short term prep is having the skill and supplies to turn a life-threatening situation into a momentary inconvenience. It turns an emergency into a nuisance, and a nuisance into nearly nothing. After all, all the year's rice will not avail you if you freeze in your car, bleed to death on a hike, or fail to extinguish an out of control candle.

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