Hopefully you already have a tool like the Victorinox Tourist Swiss Army Knife.

Victorinox Tourist Pocket Knife

I have owned and used one for a LONG time.  Its been on many trips with me both in the US and overseas because it is small and useful.  In fact, mine is usually in my Camelback so I have it when I go hiking, biking, or camping.  I think its a great model that is just the right size for most people.  Some multi-tools and Swiss Army Knives are too big and bulky to be of much use, this one however is just right.

There is a downside though.  The tools are sometimes hard to open, especially as the tool gets older and the pieces holding it all together get worn.  I’ve actually cut myself a few times with this knife because of the way the open/close mechanism works.  This has never happened with the Leatherman tools I own, largely because they use a different, more modern design.  Its something to be aware of and certainly not a show-stopper though.

In my experience, I mostly use the large blade and the bottle opener.  Surprisingly, I have used the toothpick a fair amount too when I am camping.  Some of my mountain biking friends carry tweezers in their pockets in case they get stuck with a cactus while riding.  Mine has the tweezers built in and fortunately I have never had to us it to pick thorns out of my body.  The corkscrew is handy as well, not as good as a real one but when you are on a picnic with your lady it will do just fine.

Very good but not great, yet for around $30 its worth buying because it packs a lot of tools in a sleek package that travels well.  Guess that’s why they named it the “Tourist.”

Overall Rating:  7/10

Click here to purchase a Victorinox Swiss Army Tourist Pocket Knife

You are in a crowd with thousands of other people when an explosion goes off.

Credit: Reuters

What do you do?

Kevin Reeve recently wrote a helpful post on this subject, its called How to be Safe in Crowds and its worth reading.  Other than avoiding large crowds, he gives some good advice on how to develop good situational awareness and have a bias towards action.  This will help maximize your chances of survival during a disaster.  The main concept he highlights is controlling panic, as he writes:

The KEY to surviving any event in a crowded venue will depend almost entirely on your ability to control personal panic, to assess the situation, and to take immediate action.  If you panic, you drastically increase your odds of injury or death.

This is related to the concept of OODA loops in the decision-making process.  All four parts of the OODA loop require active participation (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) and the more you practice these in everybody life, the more finely-tuned they become.  So keep these concepts in mind and put them into practice.  Who knows, someday you may need to react quickly to a disaster so develop your bias towards action now.

HT to Kevin (again).

Confession time, I haven’t been feeling good over the last day or so.  That puts a damper on both thinking and posting, which is why the blog has been a bit quiet lately.

Weapons-grade Vitamins

I rarely get sick, mostly because I take good care of myself by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising.  However there are times when stress as well as other factors overwhelm the immune system and force you take a break in order to recover.  For me, that time is now.

In a larger sense, this bout of illness (head cold) serves as a reminder about how important good health is.  If there was an emergency now, I’d be suffering and operate at a lower performance level than if I was well.  Illness makes everything more difficult so its best to take steps to avoid it.  If you get sick, its important that you return to health as quickly as possible so that you will be physically ready.

For me, that means taking a few days off from writing so I can get more rest and drink lots of fluids.  If you get sick, I suggest you do the same.  Illness is often a sign that your body needs a rest, so listen to it and take time to heal.

As Smart Suburban Survival evolves, we will add new features from time to time.  Lately, I have added a few selected shopping sites that offer products that readers may benefit from.  Don’t consider this an exclusive or exhaustive list, like preparation its a constant work in progress.

This blog is brought to you by…

More shopping-related links will be added to the Resources page in the near future so keep coming back on a regular basis.  I hope to make it easier for anyone to get the products they need to prepare, which will mean changes and updates along the way.  Stay tuned…

Unlike in Old West movies, the posse may not get there in time to save the day.

Credit: Tucson Citizen

Which means, until the good guys arrive, you are your own first responder.  That’s a scary thought, but its reality and needs to be accounted for.  There won’t always be a policeman, fireman, EMT, or other first responder on-site to offer immediate assistance when things go wrong.  That means you have to be prepared to be your own first responder.

In a mass shooting or terrorist attack, police departments now recommend taking action instead of being passive.  This can take many forms but the key concept is to take action immediately.  It may take several minutes for police units to arrive, which is plenty of time for a criminal to do a lot of damage.  As Police Officer Jack Dumphy writes:

…in the event of a mass shooting, the police may not arrive until it’s over, as was the case in about half the incidents examined.  The average police response time in the 84 shootings was three minutes, which may seem fast until one considers how much carnage a committed and well-armed gunman can bring down on a school, office, or shopping mall in three minutes.

This holds true for natural disasters as well.  Just the other day in China, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck in a rural province, which caused over a hundred deaths and over ten thousand injuries.  In some parts of the affected area, it took hours for assistance to arrive.  Due to the narrow roads and landslides, some areas may not get help for days…  Until help arrives, the survivors are on their own to manage as best they can with the aftermath.

Keep in mind that as more municipalities at all levels struggle with their finances, response times will get longer and there will be fewer resources available.  Being your own first responder will become a necessity along with building networks outside of governmental agencies to handle emergencies.  In one respect, this is a return to an earlier era in America where self-reliance, neighborhoods, and communities took care of each other instead of municipalities.  Taking the initiative to prepare is a gateway towards greater independence and freedom, which will ultimately benefit the neighborhoods we live in.

HT to Kevin over at Misfires and Light Strikes.

This is the little tool that could…and does.

Leatherman Micra®

I’ve owned a Leatherman Micra for many years and LOVE it.  Its a great tool that packs a lot of functionality into a small package that you can take anywhere.  The manufacturer puts it in their “Keychain” category of multi-tools but it is at home in your pack, purse, desk drawer, tool chest, or anywhere else you need a small, versatile tool.  If you are looking to buy your first small multi-tool, this is the one to start with.

Most of the time, my Micra® is in the desk drawer of my office because I use it to open packages a lot.  The scissors get a lot of use and about the only bad thing I have to say about mine is that the blades have been pitted over the years.  I don’t know if that’s because of the metal they use but its the only fault I have identified in this tool.  Its held up remarkably well over the years even though the outside case bears a lot of scratches and some wear marks.  I’m going to get the scissors fixed and pick up one or two more to have around.  For a small multi-tool, you can’t go wrong with a Micra®.

Overall Rating:  8/10

Click here to order a Leatherman Micra Multi-tool

Let me echo what my friend Kevin has to say about Thinking Through the Unthinkable:

For starters, even if you or your loved ones haven’t been hurt in the blast, you can still become casualties if a stampede breaks out. It’s not unheard of for incidents like this to turn into a human stampede that leads to a loss of life far beyond what the first incident causes. Knowing where the exits are and having more than one escape route beforehand helps you avoid the mindless rush to get out if a panicked fear breaks out in a crowd.

Secondly, while you may not have a first-aid kit on you, you can have one nearby. An IFAK (Infantryman’s First Aid Kit) gives you the basics to save a life in a such a situation, and they’re small enough to go just about anywhere. I have one in the back of my car and I’ve got a couple more on-order to toss into range bags whenever I go shooting.

Thirdly, learn how to save lives, IFAK or not. For me, taking a good, solid emergency trauma and first aid class has just shot to the top of my training priorities list since the incident at Boston…

The objective in writing about incidents like the Boston Marathon Bombing is not to scare but to to prepare.  All of us (myself included) can learn and do more that will better equip us for when the unthinkable happens.  Start taking steps now, even if they are small ones, because nobody knows when the next disaster will strike.

As we saw during the Boston Marathon on Monday, terrorism can happen any time, any where with devastating results.  Sadly, industrial accidents like the one outside of Waco, Texas on Wednesday can be even more devastating.

Credit: KWTX.com

The Waco chemical plant explosion killed over sixty people and injured hundreds on Wednesday evening outside of Waco, with people as far as 40 miles(!) away hearing the explosion.  Within the city of West, hundreds of people had to be evacuated outside a one-mile radius due to the risks posed by additional explosions.  All of this happened suddenly and without warning.

The good news is that events like this are rare because both companies, workers, first responders, and government agencies at all levels work together to prevent events like this from happening.  Even with all the precautions and safeguards in place though, accidents do happen.  The question is, what can you do to be prepared for a disaster like this?

The short answer is to prepare a “Go Bag” with items you need in case you need to evacuate quickly.  When sheltering in place is not an option, you will need to leave the area with what you can carry.  Having a Go Bag with the proper items in it can make a big difference in an emergency.  I’ll cover this subject in more depth in upcoming posts but for now, click on the links I included to get started.

Bad things happen and when they do you will need to be ready.

Even though I am not Mr. Fix-It or a Bear Grylls wannabe, I like having various knives and multi-tools around.  Depending upon the activity, I may have a couple in my pack or on my key-chain.  In fact, I have owned a Buck 759 (Whittaker 759T to be exact) for several years that looks just like this one.

Buck Whittaker 759T

Its a well-made tool that fits easily into your pocket or pack.  This particular knife doesn’t have any edges that will get caught and its shape works well on a key ring too.  The blade is small and stubby, however its adequate for small cutting jobs where a long knife isn’t necessary.  However, what I use it for the most is opening beer bottles while camping.  The bottle-opener is very strong and durable, you won’t have to worry about bending it.

That said though, this is more of a vanity knife/tool for me than anything else.  More often than not, I either use my Leatherman Micra or a Swiss Army knife when I’m out on the trail because those tools can do a lot more.  The limited functionality of the Buck 759 series is what makes it more of a curiosity than a regular contributor.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like mine but also realize that there are better and more useful tools that you should buy before this one.

One discovery I recently made is that Buck makes a never version of this knife called the Metro™.  Its a few dollars more expensive than my version but the Metro™ is Made in the USA whereas mine was produced in Taiwan.  While both are made by free people, its encouraging to see Buck bringing knife production back to America.

Overall Rating:  5/10

Click here to order the Buck 759 Metro, Blue

When bad things happen, first responders can become overwhelmed during the initial phase of a mass casualty.  As we saw yesterday in Boston, a horrific terrorist attack injured over 170 people in an instant and left several dead.  There will be times when police, fire, and rescue personnel will be delayed in coming to your aid if you and others are injured, meaning you are your own first responder.

Image courtesy of The Telegraph

This means taking steps to prepare for unlikely yet traumatic events like a terrorist attack.  I wrote yesterday that disaster can strike Any Time, Any Where so you need to plan accordingly.  What steps can you take?  Well, consider the following and see what you can apply today.

Your Person – Items you carry with you or on you:

Your Office – Some things to have at work:

  • Food
  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Cell phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Athletic shoes and socks
  • Reflective tape
  • Extra cash and coin ($20 should be enough)
  • Water bottle
  • Paper towels or napkins

Your Home – Products you should have where you live:

Your Car – Keep these items in your car:

  • Food (MREs, Datrex rations, granola bars)
  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope
  • Spare tire (inflated and in good working order)
  • Chemlights
  • Electrical and/or duct tape
  • Lighter
  • Signaling mirror
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Space pen
  • Pad of paper
  • Batteries (fully charged)
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Rags
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Extra wiper blades
  • Tools (screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, etc.)
  • Quart of oil (get the correct viscosity for your engine)

Other useful items to have handy include:

  • Applicator-less tampons (read this for reasons why)
  • Maxi-pads (see above)
  • Tape (athletic for non-waterproof, duct or electrical tape for waterproof)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hard hat
  • Leather gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Lifehammer
  • Respirator

In time, I’ll go into greater depth on how to prepare various kits and what each one should contain.  Consider this post a quick and dirty starting point, the key is to begin today because you may need these items tomorrow.  I encourage every reader to do what I do, search for information from a wide variety of sources and make adjustments over time.  This is an ongoing process and will never be “done” since new information will emerge over time.

The good news is that most of us will never experience a terrorist attack, massive earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic event.  However, bad things can happen unexpectedly so its wise to prepare to mitigate the damage they can cause.  Take steps now to increase your preparedness and remember that the journey you embark upon will reward you even if you never have to employ what you have learned.