Urban Vs Wilderness Bug Out Bag: Choosing The Right Gear



If you were born in the 70’s or earlier you probably remember when the term Bug Out Bag was virtually unknown. Nowadays at least three out of four people you meet in a social context are likely to be familiar with the term. It’s a sign of the times in which we live.

However, we don’t hear a lot about the concept of varying the items in one’s BOB depending on whether it’s an urban or rural environment the person will be dealing with. I won’t spend time going over all of the items one should have in his/her pack as I suspect this is well covered ground for most reading this article (CLICK HERE to make your custom bug out bag list & have it sent straight to your inbox!).

Whether one is in the city, countryside, or deep in the wilderness, much of the pack contents should be the same. Much, but not all.

Choosing The Right Tools For The Job

I have read advice about the best items to select for a BOB as if the general environment where it will be used is irrelevant. In my view this is akin to having a handyman show up to your home with only a small tool box without telling him whether it’s a plumbing or an electrical problem he will be addressing!


urban bug out bag

Having the right tools to survive can mean the difference between life and death! Choose wisely…

As a cop working in the greater Los Angeles area for over two decades, I’ve spent some time observing the kinds of scenarios typically encountered when things go awry in urban and suburban environments. Some were accidents, while others involved intentional violence. The point is that all of these events are likely to occur during and following a major disaster, with two major differences:

  1. The effects of these incidents will be exponentially larger, and
  2. Any resources available to respond to same will be overwhelmed, and possibly unavailable altogether.

Worse yet, in my opinion there is likely to be a synergistic effect if the scope of the disaster is severe enough to severely impact the infrastructure (including police response). Those who live their lives as predators (i.e., gang members and others) will in all likelihood become aware of the lack of first responders far more quickly than the rest of society, and will take full advantage early on.

I would like to be proven wrong, and perhaps I will, but don’t count on it.


urban bug out bag

A disaster doesn’t tell you when it is coming

Disaster Planning: Know Your Environment

Making a Bug Out Plan that is specific to your locality is vitally important. You want to include the intricacies and potential dangers that are local to where you are going to be operating.

Urban Disaster Planning

If one should find himself/herself in an urban environment after a catastrophic incident that essentially collapses the infrastructure, the primary objective should be to get out of the heavily populated area ASAP. This is one of the major differences between bugging out through an urban area and doing so in a rural location. Time is a much bigger consideration in the former. With this in mind, one should prepare so that he/she can:

  1. Be equipped to determine alternate routes while on the move (or at least with little time to make route changes).
  2. Have the means to defeat the varied physical obstacles potentially to be encountered.
  3. Have the tools capable of extricating one’s self or others from confinement due to structural collapse, vehicle collisions, or other situations more common in urban disasters.
  4. Be equipped to create large holes in interior walls to facilitate escape from threats present inside the building.
  5. If escape/avoidance is not possible, have an effective means to defend against violent attack.

wilderness survival kit

A wild fire can move incredibly fast and destroy EVERYTHING in its path

Rural Disaster Planning

Contrast the above with the typical priorities for a short duration rural or wilderness survival scenario, such as:

  1. Capability to process wood for starting and maintaining fire.
  2. Means to put together basic (short term) shelter.
  3. Less important, but worth mentioning, is the means to fashion additional crude tools (e.g., hunting devices) to aid in survival conditions should the scenario turn into a longer term one.
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Urban (and Suburban) Pack Items

Maps

A map of the city where one works (as well as where one lives if not the same city) is imperative. Unlike as is often the case when traveling through rural or even wilderness locations, urban travel after a disaster can present fluid situations chock full of potential extreme danger requiring sudden and unexpected route changes. No matter one’s skill and/or type of weapons he/she may have, avoidance of conflict at virtually all costs is going to be the better option. And in the process of changing direction (perhaps multiple times as part of evasion), even the best of us can find ourselves disoriented. Pack a map! And have at least one (preferably two) reliable light sources to study the map during darkness. I have found that unlike when navigating through wilderness, a small inexpensive compass will suffice for city map work.


Map Reading Skills

Click on the image to brush up on your map reading skills

 

Downplayed Appearance

Unlike when hiking through wilderness locations, having/wearing high quality state-of- the-art gear while walking through heavily populated areas when the infrastructure is down is a mistake. Wearing the latest “tacticool” pack can be an equally big mistake.

Since two-legged predators will be aware of the increased opportunities the conditions have created for them, the less attention one invites, the better. I know from experience that many street smart bad guys have a surprisingly keen eye for quality gear, even when it comes to items they know almost nothing about.

Don’t advertise your cool gear if you can possibly help it. Wearing a pack is likely to draw at least some extra attention no matter what—this is largely unavoidable. But donning a pack that appears to be very used, or even dirty, is a better option than a brand new pack. And a “plain Jane” civilian pack is more likely to ride under the radar than a tactical pack. Ditto all of the above when considering the clothes you will wear during these conditions—especially shoes! Learn and practice your Gray Man/Woman Skills now to fly under the radar when a disaster strikes (Click HERE to learn how).


gray man theory

Click on the image to learn how to be a Gray Man or Woman

Large Knife VS. Tomahawk

On many occasions I have watched other first responders use a variety of tools when handling emergencies. I have also used some of these tools personally to gain entry into semi-fortified homes during the course of police work. Other than issued weapons (police) and medical equipment (fire department/paramedics) the tools used most often were those designed to defeat barriers typically encountered in cities (everything from car doors and windows to steel home security doors).

Although you might convince yourself you would not stop to help another in need if it delayed your bugging out from a dangerous environment, you really never know until faced with that scenario. Moreover, you just might need the means to get yourself out of a jam.


bushcraft tools

Each has its place…

With the growing threat of terrorism and active shooter incidents, being equipped to create a travel path (breaking out a hole to crawl through) between a building’s interior rooms is a reasonable preparation. There are many scenarios that could prompt the need to bug out through an urban area—a massive terrorism incident is certainly one of them.

I am trying to make the case for not including a large knife in favor of a rugged tomahawk. Never mind that many “experts” insist on having a large hard use survival knife in any and all BOBs. A person is better off with an affordable tough tomahawk for urban scenarios any day of the week. And a suitable “hawk” can be had for about half the price of any survival knife capable of doing other than traditional knife chores!

 

Estwing’s Black Eagle Tomahawk fits this bill. It is not very attractive, and the workmanship shows only minimal attention to finish and fine symmetry, but I can personally attest to the tool’s capability. I have used the spike end to break car window glass, punch through heavy steel mesh and car trunks, as well as breaking a six-inch diameter hole in a cement cinder block (I encountered no steel rebar however). I have also used this “hawk” to pry apart two-by-fours fastened with 16D nails. After all of this, the business ends of the hawk’s blade are still not much worse for wear (cosmetic damage only). Does anyone think any of the better quality survival knives out there could perform these tasks without causing damage, or even breaking, the blade?

 

I once watched a fellow patrol officer show off his $250.00 tanto bladed knife by punching through the steel door of a typical gym locker. Worked fine. He repeated the feat an hour later to show off his new knife to another observer. This time it significantly damaged the blade’s tip. He was so angry we couldn’t talk to him for over an hour. Knives simply are not meant to be used to defeat steel, concrete, or even glass! Check out our article on Picking The Best Tomahawk For Your Bug Out Bag HERE.


Best Tomahawk Survival Tomahawk

Click on the image above to learn how to pick the best tomahawk

 

I have no financial interest in Estwing, and there may be other equally well-performing hawks out there for a similar price (about $35 HERE on Amazon), but I have not found them. I have discovered far more expensive hawks but never purchased or tried them. And I have tried a couple of the lighter hawks sporting plastic handles, but found their performance lacking—seriously so! The only real downside to the Estwing is its weight. At 27 ounces it is admittedly heavy. The Becker BK2, a popular hard use survival knife, weighs about 10 ounces less, but the capability of the Estwing hawk makes it well worth these extra ounces in an urban environment.

 

I would feel adequately equipped If my urban BOB cutlery items were limited to a robust hawk and my multi tool (a must for any BOB, regardless of setting, check out our Guide for Picking The Best Multi Tool HERE). The former could handle any rough cutting tasks, while the latter’s small blade could deal with finer cutting chores.

If someone absolutely insisted on carrying another knife for more traditional cutlery chores, a Mora Kniv would fill the bill for about twenty dollars. And it’s doubtful the Mora’s extra 4 ounces (including sheath) would be noticed.

 

Finally, a hawk can be used for protection against a violent attack when all else fails. As for whether a hawk or a good knife would serve this purpose better…well, that really depends on the individual as well as the circumstances. After all, neither is the best tool for self-defense, for more reasons than one (a topic for another article). Let’s just leave it with the idea that a hawk can be used as an effective self-defense tool in a pinch.

 



Lightweight Wire Cutters

Being able to cut through standard chain link fence could prove to be the difference between escaping a very bad scenario and falling victim to one. I can conjure up a half dozen scenarios where a person might need to escape a threatening situation, seek shelter, or simply shave off valuable travel time by cutting through a fence.

Chain link fencing is ubiquitous in virtually any urban area. Unfortunately, I have found multi tools fall short of being capable of cutting chain link in a reasonable manner of time and effort. Find the smallest/lightest tool capable of cutting chain link in one clipping action (Tekton makes a good pair, see them HERE). Bending or sawing through wire takes too long under most scenarios that would warrant cutting fencing in the first place.


Rural / Wilderness Pack Items

Knife vs Tomahawk vs Hatchet

You’re probably asking, “Didn’t he just cover this issue?” I did—for the urban setting. However, after spending a good deal of time in the wilderness (including several nights without a tent), both recreationally and as a search & rescue volunteer in the California Sierras, I prefer a good large knife in any environment other than an urban/suburban one.


wilderness survival kit

Surviving in the wilderness doesn’t have to be hard…IF you have the right tools and skills.

Hundreds of years ago, the tomahawk’s philosophy of use was multi-faceted. Only one of these intended functions involved the processing of wood for structure building or building fire. The hatchet (hand axe), on the other hand, was designed for one purpose only—processing wood. As one could predict, the hatchet proved to outperform the tomahawk for wood processing, while the hawks performed better as weapons. I have tried many a “woods hawk” over the years, but in the end I have found quality hatchets of similar weight simply do better with wood chores.

Given the points made in the “Disaster Planning” section of this article, the hatchet gets the nod over the tomahawk for a rural BOB.

All of the above notwithstanding, I prefer a large survival knife to a hatchet for my rural BOB. The hatchet will almost always out chop a knife of similar weight, but this isn’t the end of the story. When it comes to cutting wood a small lightweight folding saw offers a better choice than a tool that chops the wood to the desired length. But the primary element of fire wood preparation involves splitting the pieces for fire building.

 

A quality knife with a 7 to 9 inch blade can be used very effectively to split wood using the “batoning” technique. And in my opinion it is a safer means of splitting wood than swinging a hatchet to accomplish the task. When “batoning”, only the piece of wood used to strike the knife spine is being swung through the air. The odds of a catastrophic accident are greater when using the hatchet for the job. This can be ever more the case when working in cold climates outdoors. As for the argument that “batoning” to split wood constitutes abuse of the blade, I call B.S. I have split at least a cord of wood over the years with my Ontario SP50, and other than destroying the black blade coating, the knife is still in great working shape. Check out this video to see how batoning works:

I know there are many (far more than hawks that can compete with the Estwing) quality large survival knives that can also perform well when it comes to wood prep. I would, however, urge anyone selecting a fixed blade knife for his/her wilderness BOB to go with a seven inch blade or larger. This makes splitting wood of three inches or larger diameter much easier than using a shorter blade. To see our comprehensive guide on choosing a fixed blade CLICK HERE NOW.

 

Compass

When travelling through areas where there are no street signs, or even no streets, a higher quality compass becomes very important. Land navigation where there are no streets is a skill that demands time and effort to learn. Knowing how to navigate through these types of surroundings using a topographical map is not for the novice! If at all possible, stay on a road, or at least keep the road in sight. In any case, a rural BOB should always include a high quality compass.

Fire Starting Kit

This should be a “no brainer”. When bugging out through an urban setting under circumstances where you might have to spend some resting hours in the dark, it might or might not be advisable to make a fire. Fire attracts the urban predators, while it tends to repel the four legged type.


survival after bugging out

Furthermore, having a fire in a location where there is no man made shelter available is uniquely important. In addition to heat and minimal light, it is well documented that a small fire can provide a significant psychological boost for the solo survivor/traveler.

Having established the greater importance of being able to create fire in a rural setting, ensuring one has the ability to do so becomes paramount. Having multiple means to create fire is a must for the rural/wilderness pack:


everstryke pro review

Don’t forget to Include a few petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls as well. They will ignite with a decent spark (paper and many other tinders requires actual flame) and continue to burn for several minutes. If you want to learn 6 ways to start a fire WITHOUT matches, CLICK HERE.

Steel Water Bottle

Any BOB will include a container to carry water (I’m assuming this goes without saying), so why not have one that can also be used to heat or boil water? A single walled stainless steel water bottle like the Klean Kanteen (or similar design) products can be placed over open flame or coals to heat water.

Boiling water is a dependable way to kill any pathogens (chemical contamination is another issue). I once used a heated steel water bottle as an improvised hot water bottle to ward off hypothermia in a snow cave. Not sure if it was literally a lifesaver, but I was sure glad to have it. Make sure to remove the cap before heating water to avoid a pressure build-up and the subsequent likely explosion.

Conclusion

My experience has convinced me that for urban applications, escaping the locality as fast as possible should be the key objective in a SHTF scenario. Sheltering in place, even for a short time is likely to be catastrophic. In my view a robust tomahawk, coupled with a good multitool and small wire cutters, is close to the perfect set of BOB tools—but this could be surpassed with a new invention at any time.

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For rural/wilderness environments, night travel is far less desirable and sheltering through the night(s) becomes a priority. Creating fire and crude shelter is paramount for the wilderness trekker under any circumstances. For this application, a large survival knife becomes the tool of choice, edging out both the tomahawk and hatchet in the versatility and safety categories.

The very fact that those reading this article have probably already put together a bug-out bag at all places them way ahead of most. Having a readily accessible BOB, even if not perfectly constituted, is 90 percent of the game in itself. However, it’s still a good idea to evaluate equipment choices every so often, keeping a philosophy of use mindset while doing so.



If you are ready to build your custom Bug out Bag List, click on the button above now.

Further Reading

For more info on this topic you can check out these articles:

Your Thoughts?

Do you have an item that is a “must have” for your urban or rural bug out bag? Can you think of any other big differences between what you would pack for these scenarios? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About The Author

Frank LaFlamme spent almost a quarter century in law enforcement in the Los Angeles area serving for three local agencies as well as an assignment with the DEA Los Angeles office. His assignments included uniformed patrol in one of the most violent areas in California, narcotics investigation, gang enforcement, robbery and homicide investigation, high risk warrant service, and a terrorism liaison officer position. Upon retiring, Frank volunteered as a Search & Rescue “ground pounder” with a sheriff’s department in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Yosemite National Park. Additionally, he started a small disaster preparedness consulting business called F& D Consulting. In 2014 he published a novel titled EMP Los Angeles (an Amazon best seller for a while, CLICK HERE to see it), a raw and gritty cautionary tale of a post EMP attack Los Angeles.


EMP Los Angeles

Click on the book to go check it out on Amazon!

 

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active shooter survival tips

How To Survive An Active Shooter or Mass Shooting


active shooter survival tips

Mass shootings and Active Shooter incidents have seen a steep rise in the US and across the world in recent years. To many people this is one of the most terrifying situations to imagine and prepare for. Most modern mass shootings seem to have an element of randomness and primal rage rolled into them which only serves to heighten anxiety. What can an average person do if they were in church, at work, and a shopping center or elsewhere when bullets suddenly started flying?

What is an Mass Shooting?

What is an Active Shooter?

Mass shooting refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence The Congressional Research Service uses a definition of a “public mass shooting” if 4 or more people are actually killed. (source) An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. (source)

What Would YOU Do?

Given the massive increase in these incidents, it is something we should all think about and prepare to survive. I encourage everyone to sit down and have a serious think about what you would do if you were in an area that was under siege by an active shooter bent on doing the most damage possible. Would you run? Would you fight back? Would you barricade yourself in a “safe” place and wait for help?



The upward trend of Mass Shootings continues, sadly

Increasing Your Odds Of Survival…

To help answer these questions I reached out to Robert Richardson, an experienced prepper and author who has written about this topic on multiple occasions on his site Off Grid Survival. Robert was very helpful and gave us some practical strategies and tips for maximizing the odds of survival should you ever find yourself under attack from an active shooter.

What can a person do to prepare themselves for the possibility of being involved in a mass shooting?

 

The number one thing a person can do is realize that the danger is real; this alone already puts you ten steps ahead of the rest of the public, because at the very least you will start to become a little bit more aware of your surroundings and the possible dangers that exist.


active shooter survival tips

Active Shooter Preparedness Drills are becoming more common

Modern day shootings seem to have an element of randomness, what can a person do to reduce their chances of getting caught in the crossfire?

 

While this might be true in some cases, if you look at a vast majority of these shootings many of them have a couple things in common.

First, a vast majority of these shootings happen in what are known as gun-free zones. For me, I try not to frequent any establishment or area that limits my ability to defend myself. Most of these mass shooters want a large body count and they want easy victims; that’s the reason most of them target gun-free zones. They know they will meet little resistance.

Second, they tend to target events that will get the most media attention; large public events, grand openings, and opening night premiers are all higher-risk situations. I’m not saying you should live your life in fear, but you should be more alert in these types of situations.


active shooter survival tips

If a shooting occurs what is the first thing a person should do?

 

The first thing you should do actually begins before the shooting ever takes place. Whenever I enter a new place, I make sure I know exactly where my exit points are; that way should something happen, I know right where to head once the danger strikes.

And for those that think this is being overly paranoid, remember this one strategy can save you not only during mass shootings but also during threats like earthquakes or fires. You should always have an exit strategy.

When should a person run vs fight back?

 

You always want to make escape your number one priority; fighting back is a last resort option, but an option you must be prepared for. Remember this isn’t the movies; all it takes is one bullet to end your life so escape is always the best option.


active shooter survival tips

Should a person who decides to move to safety run as soon as the bullets start flying or hunker down and wait for an opportunity?

 

It really depends; it’s something that you’re going to have to decide at the moment, based on what’s going on – there really are too many variables to say for sure. But in general, hunkering down or sheltering in place is almost always a death sentence. I really hate when businesses or schools suggest that sheltering in place is an actual strategy for survival; it’s not!

Your number one priority is to get as far away from the danger as possible.

You Should ALWAYS Have An Exit Strategy



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If they decide to fight back, how do they identify their opportunity to strike?

 

Your best chance might be during a temporary pause, or when the gunman is reloading. It’s really going to depend on the situation, and you may never have a good window of opportunity. That means if you have no possible route of escape, you need to act. That is your window.


active shooter survival tips

Stat Shot: There were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870. (source)

How would you convince random strangers in the same area as you to rush an attacker?

 

It’s probably not going to happen; most people panic in this type of situation because they never prepared for the possibility. The best you can hope for is yelling “GET HIM!!!” or something like that and hoping others instinctively follow.

What if there is more than one shooter? What should I do differently?

 

More than one shooter definitely changes the equation, but again these things happen so fast that you really aren’t going to have the opportunity to change things up. You will have to be more aware of where the shooters are, but in general your options are about the same; escape if you can, fight back if you have no other options.


active shooter survival tips

If you had to hunker down how would you signal the outside world for help?

 

If you can quickly dial 911, without taking your eyes off the danger, then yes. And remember, when hunkering down there’s a difference between cover and concealment. You need to take cover behind something that’s actually going to stop a bullet. Real life is not like the movies, and things like chairs, cars, etc. are not going to stop a bullet.

What should you teach kids to do if there is a shooting at their school?

 

I would tell them the same things as I would an adult; your best chance is to escape. I don’t care what policy the school has in place, if they tell your kids to shelter in place inside a classroom they are wrong, and I would have some serious doubts about sending my kid to that school.

Make sure your child knows where the escape routes are, and if possible download a map of the school and show them where to go.

Robert’s article Protecting Your Children from Active Shooters & Mass Shootings covers this topic in detail.


active shooter survival tips

From an Active Shooter drill, too late to make a plan now…

How do we increase our level of Situational Awareness to be able to detect danger?

 

Part of it is just starting to make a conscious effort to look at your surroundings on a daily basis.

Take note of the types of people that are around you, what they are wearing, what your environment normally looks like, etc… that way if something odd happens you will instantly recognize that things aren’t right. And don’t be afraid to trust your gut, we have these feelings for a reason.

If you have kids, point things out to them when you’re out in public. Teach them what to watch out for, where exits are when you enter a business, and encourage them to look around at the world. Make them put down the electronic devices! If your face is staring at your phone you’ll never see anything!

What are some areas/events to avoid if you want to minimize your chances of being a victim of a mass shooting?

 

  • Avoid opening night events or premiers.
  • Avoid politically charged rallies or anything that has a planned protest around it.
  • Avoid high profile events like championship games etc…


active shooter survival tips

Top Priority: Know where your exits are

What big mistakes are we told to do by the media and authorities if we are faced with this type of situation?

 

The biggest mistakes, or downright lies and misinformation spread by the media, include telling people to shelter in place, and not mentioning the importance of carrying your own firearm protection. The simple fact is, these shooters want easy victims, and there is no way the police are going to be able to respond in time to save you. You can be a sitting duck, or you can even the playing field and give yourself a fighting chance.

You can be a sitting duck, or you can even the playing field and give yourself a fighting chance


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Conclusion

Active Shooter Situations are a cold, hard reality in modern day life. We need to face this reality and prepare for it like any other. As we see from Robert’s advice, there are a few simple things we can do to increase our odds of survival:

  1. Avoid high profile events if possible
  2. Know your exits whenever going someplace new
  3. Practice situational awareness to get a gut feeling of any situation
  4. If a shooting occurs evacuating the area should be a the priority
  5. Fighting back or sheltering in place are distant second options but may be necessary
  6. If you choose to fight back look for an opportunity where the attacker is distracted or reloading
  7. If you choose to shelter in place find something solid (preferably concrete) that you can hide behind and call for help

Further Reading

Robert has two articles on his site Off Grid Survival that cover this topic. They are great resources and if you want more info I encourage you to check them out:

Here is a fairly good instructional video on what to do if caught in an Active Shooter situation:

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any suggestions for how to survive an Active Shooter scenario?  What would you do if you were caught in the crossfire?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About Robert Richardson

Robert Richardson is the founder and head writer at OFFGRID Survival, one of the top emergency preparedness/survival websites in the world. He is preparedness and survival training expert with over 20 years of real-world experience, and a licensed ham radio operator with over 20 years of emergency communication experience. He is a hunter, fisherman, & extreme backpacker. He writes about his hunting and fishing adventures at monsterfishandgame.com

Robert Richardson is the Author of the Book: The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World. You can check it out on Amazon HERE.



Get more great survival strategies from Robert here.


Active Shooter Survival Tips

 

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gun safety for kids

How To Teach Kids About Gun Safety


gun safety for kids

When you own a firearm around kids, you NEED to take time to think about safety. There are no two ways about it, kids need to be kept safe. That doesn’t mean fear, however. And that doesn’t mean not owning a firearm. There are just a few things to teaching kids about gun safety that we will talk about.

1. Know the 4 rules of firearms

Rule #1 A firearm is always loaded.

“Always” means…ALWAYS. We taught our children to respect a firearm as loaded, even when we were cleaning it. Any firearm they look at is loaded and ready to shoot. So, it’s important they think on those terms and treat firearms with that respect.


gun safety kids

People like this give responsible gun owners a bad name.

Rule #2 Never let your barrel point at anything you are not willing to destroy and take responsibility for destroying.

That is just another reason for rule #1, really and shows the consequences of not taking that seriously. Remember, you are 100% responsible for all shots fired, including those “unintentional” ones. Even at the range, you don’t point the firearm at anything you aren’t wanting to shoot at.

Rule #3 Know what’s behind your target.

Simply put, what’s behind that deer, that duck, that target? That’s the main reason we wear orange or neon colors when hunting. It’s a signal that you are there to other hunters and to not shoot that deer you are standing behind. Imagine if the shot went through the animal, or just above or below it and hit the target BEHIND the intended target. That could be tragic. Know what’s behind what you are shooting at.


kids gun safety

In a well set up range there is no doubt that missed shots are not a problem

Rule #4 Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

This is very important, as accidents happen. If your finger isn’t on the trigger, the firearm isn’t going to go off. At the range, we teach our children that you don’t put your finger on the trigger until you have aimed, know what’s behind the target and taken a deep breath first. Taking a breath not only will steady the aim, it allows you to really see the target and have a better chance at hitting it the way you want to.



2. Keep it locked up and out of reach when not in use.

This is not only for their safety, it’s for those times when their friends are over. You can teach your kids to not touch a firearm without you present (as we have) but you can’t necessarily control how their friends will react. We use a trigger lock, store it in a locked cabinet and away from any ammunition.


3. Along those lines, we also chose not to make a firearm in the home a mysterious thing.

Our kids were part of our decision to own one, as well as part of the decision where to keep it stored. It made them less “curious” about the firearm, and less likely to want to play around with it. Of course, it’s still locked up when we are not at the range, and we go as a family often to practice.

Kids younger than 3 years old got ahold of guns and shot someone at least 59 times in 2015 according to The Washington Post

4. Practice with your kids at the range.

Often. We go at least bi-monthly to our local indoor range. Since we own a firearm, it’s not of any use to us unless we know how to use it properly. So, we practice. Our kids know how to load, aim and fire each firearm safely. My oldest son is actually a better shot than I am, and reminds me of that often, “An amateur will practice until they get it right, a professional will practice until they can’t get it wrong” is our mantra with firearms.


kids gun safety

Practice at the range can be a fun activity for the whole family

5. Allow your kids to help you clean the firearms after use.

They will garner a respect for them, as well as learn more about safe handling. It’s our kids’ job to clean all the firearms after the range, with my husband and I being there to guide and help them. If they are going to use it, know about it, they need to know how to care for it.  Check out the video below for some basic tips on cleaning firearms safely.

Conclusion

Keeping kids safe around firearms only requires you to use common sense and some basic standard measures. If you can’t follow them, then please don’t own one. Too many tragedies are caused by adults who didn’t follow the basic safety rules.

 

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any tips for parents who want to educate their kids on proper gun use and safety? How did your parents teach you to be a responsible gun owner? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!


 

About The Author

Heather Harris and her family live in Northern Indiana where they strive to raise 75% of their own food on their 1/5 acre. You can follow their crazy adventures at The Homesteading Hippy

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tactical watches survival

Are Tactical Watches Useful For Urban And Wilderness Survival?


tactical watches survival

Survival situations can arise in the blink of an eye, so we are always looking for ways to increase preparedness. However, carrying all of your survival gear on a daily basis simply is not practical for most people. Therefore, we also try to find lightweight gear with multiple functions that can be carried discretely as you go about your day. With so many features available, tactical watches are a survival tool worth investigating.

The tactical watch is possibly the most impressive form of wearable technology. With many practical uses, as well as specialized functions for extreme operations, tactical watches can provide you with a wealth of information to aid you in survival. The key to making the best choice is to determine how you are most likely to use it and finding the features that best meet those needs.

Survival Features Of Tactical Watches

Sure, a tactical watch sounds like an awesome piece of must-have gear but choosing one will be based on exactly what you will be doing. Completing a threat assessment will help you decide which features will most benefit you, then you can look for the watch with the best design for those features. No matter how you plan to use your watch, a secure comfortable fit and ease of use will play an important role.


tactical watches survival

Telling Time

In a world where we rarely use phones to talk, it isn’t too far-fetched that the primary function of a watch is the one least considered. How the time is displayed is a matter of personal preference. Digital or analog, military or standard 12 hour, or any combination may be available, depending on the specific tactical watch.

In addition to simply displaying the time, there are useful features that come into play in a post-disaster situation, such as a full calendar and sunrise/sunset indicator. Having a sense of how much time has passed when bugging out will provide a sense of stability and continuity. You can be sure the water boiled for a full 10 minutes, plan when to check your traps, or figure out how far your bug out party can travel during daylight. It is especially useful to know the exact date if you are tuning into emergency broadcasts for instruction, such as when and where relief efforts will commence.

Standing Up To The Elements

Tactical watches are built tough to withstand rigorous activity and a variety of conditions. Some have extra features to deal with special situations, such as diving, parachuting, and high impact activities.


tactical watches survival

The face will typically be made of a scratch- and shatter-resistant material, such as sapphire or mineral crystal. Stainless steel is a common material for the bevel and casing, due to its durability. Anodized aluminum is a lightweight alternative that does not compromise strength.

Tactical watch bands come in a variety of styles of materials, including nylon, rubber, leather, and steel. There are advantages to each material, depending on intended use and personal comfort.

Other areas to consider that are specific to your needs are low-temperature resistance, submersion, impact resistance, and dust resistance. You’ll want to make sure that the construction is solid and will keep out anything that could damage the internal mechanisms.

Finding Your Way

Navigation features range in accuracy and capability. For simple orientation, you might get by with compass points on a rotating ring to give you a general idea of the direction you are heading. Some tactical watches have an actual button compass integrated into the watchband, while others use a digital or analog compass display.


tactical watches survival

Altimeters are usually displayed as a real-time reading but some tactical watches are able to record elevation data. Tracking your elevation is very useful in conjunction with topographical maps, making it easier to know if you are on the correct trail.

For more precise navigation, you can choose a watch with a digital GPS readout so you are able to pinpoint exactly where you are. This can be very useful if you need to share or record your specific location coordinates, such as for search and rescue, locating your bug out camp, or coordinating a gathering point for your bug out party. For day to day use, approximate location may be sufficient but if you spend a lot of time in remote areas, you may want to go with a tactical watch that has GPS.


tactical watches survival

Monitoring Your (Or Someone Else’s) Health

For daily use, a heart rate monitor can be used to track your activity. This is a great feature for fitness training but it also has survival applications. Unless you pack a stethoscope into your bug out bag, a heart rate monitor is the next best thing when you or a member of your bug out party is sick or severely injured. For conditions such as disease, loss of blood, and shock, keeping track of the person’s heart rate and being alerted to accelerations or decelerations can be life-saving.


tactical watches survival

If you are a traversing high-altitude region, an altimeter will also help with health maintenance. Altitude sickness can occur at 8000 feet above sea level and if left untreated, can result in death. The first warning signs are headache, nausea, and fatigue and should not be ignored. Breathlessness, caused by fluid in the lungs, is a sign of High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) and can be accompanied by fever and a frothy cough. Drowsiness, clumsiness, and irritability are signs of fluid on the brain, known as High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE). Both of these conditions are fatal. Therefore, paying close attention to your altitude is especially important to your survival.


tactical watches survival

A thermometer can assist you in making sure that your shelter is warm enough, knowing when to avoid being exposed to extremely low temperatures, or conversely, extremely high temperatures. The general safe temperature range for humans is 40F-95F. Spending prolonged time on the low end of that can result in hypothermia or on the high end of the range, hyperthermia. Being aware of the temperature will help you make decisions that favor your survival.

Top 5 Tactical Watches

#1 Garmin Tactix Bravo


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

This watch is built tough for handling rigorous field operations. A high-strength domed sapphire lens is mounted in a stainless steel bezel and rear case plate. The buttons are knurled for ease of grip and are also PVD-coated stainless steel. The display is non-reflective and night-vision compatible. Two interchangeable nylon straps are included.

The high-resolution display turns the watch face from an analog clock to a personal GPS device, with TracBack technology for finding your way back to your starting point. You can view your precise coordinates or switch to map view and follow your progress point to point. Mark locations along the way, such as water sources or dangerous terrain, and share them using Bluetooth or ANT+ wireless connections.


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

The Garmin Tactix Bravo also has great features for training purposes, such as monitoring stride length, cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. The heart rate metrics provide a stress score, performance condition, and lactate threshold readout so you can track how your body is handling physical activity. It also tracks sleep patterns to create a record of your overall health.

One of the coolest features of the Tactix Bravo is the ability to download additional screens to customize to your specific needs. You can even set it up to receive alerts from another device, such as emails and texts from your smartphone.

The battery life depends on which mode you are using: 20 hours in GPS mode or 50 hours in UltraTrac mode. A USB charger is included.

#2 Casio G-9300-1 G-Shock Mudman


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Casio G-Shock Mudman on Amazon.

Named for its resilience to mud and debris, the G-Shock Mudman has internal gaskets on all of the buttons and screws that are designed to handle dirty work. A sapphire crystal face protects the digital display, which features 12 or 24 hour time, date, temperature, pressure, and directional readouts. It also tracks the phases of the moon in a visual graphic.

The Mudman is shock resistant and water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, making it a suitable diving companion, as well. For navigating on land, use the digital compass with full 0-359 degree range, corrected for magnetic declination.

Since it is solar-powered, the G-Shock Mudman does not need to be charged or wound and it can last up to 8 months on a full charge even without exposure to light. This is a great feature for backcountry survival.

#4 Timex T49859 Intelligent Quartz Tide-Temp-Compass


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass on Amazon.

With several key nautical features, the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass is ideal for boating, swimming, and snorkeling. Behind the mineral glass lens is a quartz analog clock with concentric rings that include analog tide tracker and temperature displays. The digital thermometer reads air or water temperature, and the watch is water resistant to 100 meters. An Indiglo light allows you to view the full face in low lighting.

The stainless steel case has a slide-rule bevel with directional indicators. A fourth hand on the clock serves as an analog display for the digital compass. The sturdy stainless steel band features a deployment clasp for a secure fit. Overall, this is a rugged watch by a trusted brand, and more economical than others in its class.

Conclusion

Tactical watches are far sturdier than other electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets. If you rely heavily on your smartphone to provide tactical information, keep in mind that it may cease to function in a disaster scenario and it likely wouldn’t survive 100 meter submersion, even in the toughest protective case. The convenience of having a wealth of information at your wrist and the extreme durability of tactical watches makes them a useful tool for survival situations.

Your Thoughts

Which features do you think you would be most likely to use in a survival situation? Do you think tactical watches can replace other survival gear? Share your opinions in the Comments section below, thanks!

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3 Ways To Solve Your Long-Term Water Storage Problem


long term water storage

Water is one of the essential elements of life. Without water, there is no survival. Ensuring you and your family have access to clean, drinkable water in the case of emergency or disaster should be at the top of your survival planning list. There are many ways to ensure access to clean drinking water in an emergency, one being long-term water storage. The most ideal situations for emergency long-term water storage are when you are planning on bugging-in or sheltering in-place and need to stock up or when trying to decide what supplies are needed for the bug-out location you’ll be evacuating to.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics for storing water long-term and examine the three options for long-term water storage.

Survival Water Storage Basics

In a crisis situation, having access to clean, drinkable water – and enough of it for your entire bug-out crew – will be key to surviving. Whether you plan on bugging-out or sheltering in-place, here are the key fundamentals you will need to know to ensure you’re storing water properly for the long-term and will have enough to last you through the crisis.


long-term water storage

How Much Water To Store

According to the U.S. government, the ideal amount of water to have stored is one gallon per person, per day, for at least three days. The average person needs ¾ gallons of fluids for drinking each day and up to ¼ gallons for hygiene and sanitary purposes. If you’re located in a hot environment or have children, nursing mothers, or people that are ill in your bug-out crew, you will need to store more water. Following those guidelines, a family of four would need to store twelve gallons of water to ensure survival over three days. If you consider the amount you would need for any amount of time beyond that, you can see how quickly your water needs can add up.


long-term water storage

Your long-term water storage should allow for at least 1 gallon per day for each member of the family.

Ultimately, the decision of how many days worth of water you decide to store for survival will be based on the type of emergency you are planning for. For instance, long-term water storage for an emergency expected to last a few days is quite simple, whereas planning for an extended period or stockpiling for a large group can get quite complicated. Before beginning to prepare your long-term water supply, take some time to consider how much you will need, for how many people, and for how long before getting started.

Storing Survival Water

The best place to keep your emergency water is in a cool, dry place. Basements are a great choice, although it is prudent to split your supplies up in different areas of your home in case one area becomes flooded, damaged, or otherwise unaccessible. A good practice is to ensure there is water stored in every closet of your home, or at least in one closet on each floor.


long-term water storage

If you live in an area where flooding is a high risk, storing the majority of your water supply above ground is prudent.


long-term water storage

Conversely, the basement is a safer place to store water in areas at high risk for tornadoes.

How Long Can Survival Water Be Stored

As long as the containers have been properly sanitized, water that has not been commercially bottled should be safe to drink for up to six months. Commercially bottled water will typically have a ‘use by date’ printed on the bottle that will provide guidance on how long it will be safe to drink.

Things To Be Aware Of

When choosing containers, avoid any plastic containers that are not safe for food or anything that contains BPA. Containers that have had fruit juice or milk in them should be avoided as fruit sugars and milk proteins can’t be fully cleaned out and create an ideal environment for bacteria growth when used for water storage. Plastic is a much preferable choice to glass as glass is heavy and can break. Water is also very heavy, make sure to use proper lifting technique, such as lifting at the knees, when transporting it.

If you’re ever in doubt about the safety of your water, boil and treat it with purification tablets (such as these) before drinking. Each year, waterborne pathogens kill approximately 3.4 million people, better to be sure and stay alive!


long-term water storage

Water purification tablets kill bacteria and viruses, and are especially important when harvesting water in nature. Click the image to view Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets on Amazon.

Three Options for Long-Term Water Storage

There are three options for proper long-term storage of water: buy pre-bottled water; collect and sterilize containers and fill them up; buy purpose-made containers and fill them up.

Buying Your Water Supply

Purchasing cases of bottled water is by far the easiest solution for building an emergency water supply, but also one of the most expensive. However, when employing this option, money can be saved by buying large, water-cooler sized jugs (although these can be quite heavy to carry around).


long-term water storage

Image credit Steven Depolo on flickr.

In terms of purchase options, they’re abundant. You can buy cases of bottled water at almost any local grocery store, Costco, or even HERE on Amazon. While simply purchasing bottled water is the easiest option, it’s also the most expensive and takes up the most space. If you need to buy a large supply, you’ll need to buy shelving to properly store your emergency water. If you stack bottled water too high, the lower cases can get crushed.

Bare Bones DIY Solution


long-term water storage

Jugs like these can be sanitized and used as long-term water storage containers. Image credit Lisa Risager on flickr.

For this long-term water storage solution, you will need to collect plastic bottles, such as those used for soda. You will need to sanitize the bottles and fill them on your own, so this is the most time consuming of all the options, but also the most cost-effective. If you have some extra time and need to save money, this is the best option. Review the following instructions for properly sanitizing and filling your own long-term water storage containers:

1. Clean out your containers using soapy water, ensuring they are well-rinsed and all soap is removed.

2. Add one teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach to one quart of water.

3. Pour the solution into your containers and shake the bottles until the solution has touched all surfaces (make sure the cap is on while you’re doing this so that it gets sanitized as well).

4. Rinse out the sanitizing solution.

5. Fill your containers with tap water (only if the tap water has been commercially treated, such as a city’s water supply).

6. If you’re using non-treated or well water, add two drops of unscented household chlorine bleach to the water and let it stand 30 minutes before drinking.

7. Screw the caps tightly on your containers, being careful not to contaminate the insides with your fingers when closing.

8. Your emergency water storage containers should be able to store water for at least six months after being treated this way.

The Happy Compromise Solution

For someone needing a large volume of water and not wanting to deal with the hassles of sanitizing or storing dozens (maybe hundreds) of soda bottles, this is the ideal option. The happy compromise is the best option for storage with the least hassle. It involves buying purpose-made, food safe, water storage containers (check out the Water Brick, our personal favorite) and filling them with water yourself. While this option costs a bit more than the DIY solution, it costs much less than buying water bottles from the store.



The Water Brick is our preferred option for the following reasons:

● Holds 3.5 gallons, which is a large volume but not so much as to make them too heavy to carry

● There is a handle which makes them easy to carry

● Water Bricks are stackable and take up as little space as possible, making shelving unnecessary

● There is a large opening, making them much easier to clean than soda bottles

● The large opening also makes these containers viable for storing dry food, documents, or even ammo (try doing that with a soda bottle!)

● They are food grade and BPA-free

The time-saving features of this option come from the ease and speed of the sanitization process. Basically, you will purchase the appropriate amount of containers (Water Brick or otherwise), sanitize as above, fill them up, and forget about them! To illustrate the convenience of the sanitization process, consider that it would take seven standard two liter soda bottles to make up the same quantity as one Water Brick. Which process do you think is faster?


long-term water storage

The interlocking design allows for greater stability when stacking multiple Water Bricks.

To learn more about Water Bricks and to get your own, CLICK HERE NOW.

To make the process even easier on yourself or to avoid handling bleach, simply purchase water purification tablets or drops (such as these). However, the container will still need to be properly sanitized.



More Resources for Successful Long-Term Water Storage

If you’d like to learn more about preparing your long-term water supply for an emergency or disaster, check out these helpful resources:

Surviving a Drought: Learn How To Harvest Water From Natural Sources

Bugging-In vs. Bugging-Out: How To Decide in an Emergency

Going Off the Grid: How To Make Your Home Self-Sufficient

Conclusion

Having access to clean, drinkable water (and lots of it) is something many of us living in first world countries take for granted. But in a crisis or emergency situation, finding safe drinking water will become a priority for everyone. When water stops running and stores sell out of water bottles, having a prepared supply of water on-hand at your bug-out or bug-in location will be an invaluable asset.

Whether you choose to buy your water ready-bottled or bottle your own, always remember that the most important factor is to ensure you have enough. Think carefully through how many people will potentially need to access the water (including pets, if applicable) and how long your supply will need to last. A little planning and forethought ahead of time can save much aggravation, and maybe even lives, down the line and ensure you have an effective long-term water storage solution.


long-term water storage

Don’t forget to include pets in your long-term water storage plan, about 1 ounce of water per pound of your pet’s weight.

Your Thoughts

Do you have a water storage solution that you like, or know of an innovative way to purify your water supply? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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