What is Normalcy Bias and why should I care?

 

Why do people sometimes make irrational decisions during a disaster situation.  It is known as the normalcy bias.  It is a mental state people enter when facing a disaster.  People understimate the chance of a disaster actually happening or the severity if it does happen.  People assume that because a disaster has never happened before it will not happen now.  Look at New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  The entire city is below sea level and yet many residents refused to leave in the face of a huge storm.  When asked why they did not leave many residents stated that the levee’s had not failed before and they expected the same outcome again.  Another example is the Jews during the Nazi genocide.  Why had so many stayed in Germany even after they were required to wear identifying objects and many laws were being enacted that were anti-semitic.  It is the same answer.  Things had never been like this before and they couldn’t believe that it could really be happening now.

What can we do to counteract normalcy bias.  First I would say is concise warnings about the possible risk.  Second is preparation.  Third is training.  If you train enough for any situation you are more likely to revert to that training in an emergency.

Barter? The what and why

Barter is defined as the the direct exchange of goods or services without the use of a  medium, like money.  Barter is used in most countries, but usually on a small scale.  Throughout history when barter usually becomes much more prevalent is during hyperinflation or deflationary periods.  We have all heard many times about Zimbabwe or Weimar Republic.  Those are two examples of hyperinflation.  The Great Depression is an example of the other extreme.  I don’t know if we will see anything like those, but with the out of control money printing going on now it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see the writing on the wall.  Barter is a way for us to bypass the monetary system to get the goods and services that we need. 

What are the types of things that will be in high demand in a barter economy?  Lets start with skilled services.  If you are a skilled mechanic or machinist or something like that you will be able to trade your services for goods.  If you don’t have any in demand skills you will be left to barter goods for other goods or goods for services.  So let’s look at the types of goods that I think will be in the highest demand.

-Food.  Most Americans don’t have enough food on hand to last more than a few days.  You may be able to trade of few canned goods for a lot more in return.  Today you can buy a dozen eggs for a few bucks, but imagine what you may be able to get for that same dozen eggs if the person wanting it hasn’t eaten in 3 or 4 days.

-Ammunition.  There are different types of ammo that can be used in different areas.  In a more urban area handgun ammo may be higher in demand while in a rural area shotgun and rifle ammo may be.

-Alcohol.  People have been drinking alcohol forever and people will still want if after an event.  I would keep popular name brand liquors on hand.  I bet a fifth of Jack would get you quite a lot in return when you can’t run down to the local liquor store and pick some up.

-Tobacco.  The prison system is an example of the value of tobacco.  In prison tobacco is the currency.  An item to relieve some stress and make people feel a little more normal will be very important.  Another plus for tobacco is it already comes in denominations.  Think of a single cigarette as a dollar with a pack as a twenty and a carton as a hundred.  It is also easy to store and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

This isn’t an all inclusive list by any means, but these are the items I see as being in high demand and easy to store.  If you see items in your area that everyone seems to need then that may be something you want to store for bartering.

Can you really be prepared if you’re a fat-body?

Can you really be prepared if you’re a fat-body?  I was thinking about this today when my own fitness level put me at a disadvantage at work.  I was tracking some individuals in the brush for quite awhile when I came upon them.  At that point a foot pursuit began.  My lungs began to burn sooner than I expected as I gave chase.  We came upon a barbed-wire fence and all the subjects bounded up and over.  Me and my partner were next to reach the fence and over we went.  About 20 yards beyond the fence the brush thickened up quite a bit and we lost sight of the subjects.  This gave me a chance to stop for a minute and assess the situation to determine which way they were probably going to go.  It was at this time that I realized how heavy I was breathing.  My physical fitness level was not where it needed to be.  It is hard to admit sometimes that you are not in great shape or not the best whatever it is, but a true self evaluation is vital to your survival.  

For the majority of my life I have always been involved in some sort of organized sport or activity that kept me in pretty decent shape, but over the last few years I have focused more on other things and kind of expected to still maintain the level I was at before, simpy because I was used to being at that level and expected it to stay.  The truth is that it has probably been deteriorating over the past few years, but since I haven’t been engaged in as many activities I haven’t noticed quite how much it has changed. 

I started thinking, “would I be able to win a physical altercation if need be in this state?”  Then my mind switched to a survival perspective and I started thinking how would physical fitness affect me and my family in a SHTF scenario.  I realized that fitness is just as important as firearms proficiency and primitive skills are.  Maybe more so.  Your body is an amazing machine that if maintained can handle many adverse situations.  On the other hand, if it is not maintained, it is prone to break down.  Just like your car, your body needs routine maintenance to run efficiently.  Exercise and diet are the oil and filter changes for your body.  By maintaining your body it will be more resistant to sickness and injury.  This could be the difference between life and death in a situation where modern medicine is not available.

What can we do to maintain this level? To start we can exercise.   I like to be as productive as possible with my time and think that exercise should be incorporated into other activities whenever possible.  Chopping wood for example.  This is giving your body a good workout while also preparing wood for your fires.  Another example (and one of my favorites) is boxing.  Boxing is great for cardio and has the utilitarian aspect of training self-defense techniques.  It is also a great stress reliever.  You don’t even have to have anyone else around.  I like to put on a CD in the garage and use each song as a round.  I hit the heavy bag for one round.  After a thirty second break I jump rope for the next round.  The third round is back to the bag and so on and so on.

Next is our diet.  In modern society with all of the fast food and GMO’s out there we are not getting the quality of foods that we need.  So this is another utilitarian solution we can use.  If you have a garden you are not only securing a food source in case of a breakdown situation, you are also giving your body the high quality that you just can’t get at the big box stores.  This is the same for raising livestock at home.  The quality and the taste are so much greater.

I will be do a follow up post on some other exercises I would recommend in the future, but for now, if your not doing it already, give boxing a try.

Bug-out Bag(72-hour bag)

This is the Camebak BFM. This is the bag I use as my BOB.

 

Depending on how long you have been in the survival movement you have probably heard about a bug-out bag.  It goes by many names, but they all refer to the same thing.  A pack with supplies to help you get by for 72 hours or so.  There are many lists out there of what people say you should have, but the truth is your specific situation is going to dictate what needs to be in your bag.  That being said, there are some things that most people can agree should be in your bag.  That is what we will cover today.

Let”s start with why we should have a BOB(bug-out bag).  To do that let’s define what a BOB is intended to be.  It is a portable pack containing supplies to help you evacuate a disaster for 72 hours.  It is not intended to give you all you need to survive indefinitely in the wilderness.  It is designed to allow you to evacuate quickly in response to a disaster.  The 72 hour suggestion comes from a FEMA recommendation to have that amount on hand  due to the chance that it could take up to 72 hours for FEMA to respond to a disaster.

There are many groups that recommend having a BOB.  A few of these include:

FEMA

The Church of Latter Day Saints

Canadian Red Cross

ready.gov

 

What needs to be included in your bag.  Specifics are going to very depending on your geographic location and personal needs, but lets stick with what everyone could probably use.

-72-hours of food and water.  This could be MRE’s, freeze dried foods or any other non-perishable foods.  Remember that if your bag is kept in your car the heat can effect the life of your foods.  The U.S recommendation for water is 1 gallon per day per person.

-I would also pack some sort of water filtration device.  I like the new water bottles with filters built into the top.

-Weather appropriate clothing.  I like to change out my bag contents every six months.  I replace the food and water at this time and I change out some of the clothing depending on the upcoming seasons.  I like to change mine in March and   also in September.  I like these months because they are before the temperatures change too much.

-A good first-aid kit.  I would probably make one yourself instead of using the premade ones in most cases.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need 8,000 different adhesive bandages.  I actually do like to buy the pre-made ones, but what I do is take out the contents and fill it with what I feel is more important.  I take all of the left over items and set them aside for home use or to refill  my kit if needed.  At least for me, using  the case with the big red cross on it dummy proofs knowing what that particular container is for in my bag.

-I always want to have multiple fire-starting tools.  This normally includes: matches, lighter, and a ferrocerium rod.  Steel wool is another great option.  You can use steel wool and a 9-volt battery to get a fire going very quickly.

-I always like to have a map included.  I think you should include maps that are detailed enough that they show all of the county roads and have contour lines so you know the terrain.   A good compass is also something that needs to be included.  Being able to orient your map to your compass and get you a directional azimuth is a skill that is easily acquired and can be a lifesaver.

-Medication.  This isn’t included with the first-aid kit because I am referring to prescription medication.  If you need medication you need to make sure you have enough on hand in the event of a disaster.  I would recommend getting a few months supply instead of filling it monthly.  It may seem a larger expense up front, but you need to remember it is still the same basic price broken down monthly and it gives you that supply upfront.

-Radio.  I would recommend a hand crank/battery combo radio with weather bands.

-Lighting.  I like to include an LED flashlight.  I prefer LED for the battery life.  I also like to have some emergency candles and glow sticks.

-Duct tape and 550 cord.  These are two irreplaceable items in any bag.  They are both so versatile and don’t take up a lot of space.

-Firearm.  I really think you need to include a firearm, but check with your local laws and see what is allowed.  I carry a compact automatic pistol, but there is nothing wrong with a good revolver.  It is up to what you are most comfortable with.  I would also like to include a .22 caliber rifle.  It wont necessarily fit in your bag, but would come in very handy if things stretched out a little longer.

-I also try to keep some cash in my bag.  In a disaster situation you may not have access to your money if it is in a bank.  I would recommend a few ounces of junk silver as well.

-Certified copies of important documents.(birth certificates, wedding certificates, bank account information, etc…)

-An emergency plan.  Everyone in your family needs this in there bag.  It needs to include emergency phone numbers and addresses and directions to at least 3 rally points.  Evacuation routes to all of these rally points and a backup route for each.

-Knives.  I always include two knives.  This is for two reasons.  First off is redundancy.  Remember 2 is 1 and 1 is none.  The second is that I always like to have a good fixed blade knife and a good folding blade also( on a side note I have a review of two excellent fixed blade knives on this site).  I like to keep the folding knife on my person and the fixed blade in the bag.

-Small fishing kit.  I use an “Altoid” can.  Include some small hooks, fishing line, small weights, a small bobber and a few small lures if there is enough room.  This doesn’t fit with fishing, but I also like to include some wire for making snares.

-Signal mirror.  You can learn how to use a signal mirror in a relatively short amount of time.  There are video’s online that will show you this.  For me the easiest way to do it is hold the mirror near your eye and get the reflected light to shine on your other hand.  Make your hand into a “C” shape and have the majority of the light pass through the C with just a little on the side to show you that it is still in the right place.  Once you have it in place move your hand, while keeping the light in the C, until you can see what you were trying to signal is visible through the C as well.  At that point slightly turn the mirror back and forth.

Comparison of the Gerber LMF II vs. SOG Seal Pup

Recently I had a chance to compare the Gerber LMF II Survival versus the SOG Seal Pup.  Both knives are excellent knives in their own niches.  Lets start with the Gerber LMF II Survival.  The Gerber comes in three versions.  The Infantry, the Survival and the ASEK.  The knife itself is the same in all versions.  The difference comes with the accessories.  The LMF II was engineered  by former military man Jeff Freeman and was field-tested by military personnel   in the field.

Features:

-10 inch overall length

-Pointed stainless steel buttcap

-Overmolded handle

-Lashing holes

Sheath with built-in carbide sharpener

-MOLLE compatible

The first thing you will notice when you grab the LMF II is the weight.  It is a heavy knife that feels very sturdy.  This comes in handy when chopping small sapplings.  It could get a little heavy after along day, but I haven’t really noticed much while wearing it.  I was very impressed with the multiple ways it can be worn.  It can be worn on your belt with thigh strap, worn on your calf or it is MOLLE compatible which gives more versatility.  The blade is 4.84″ in length made of 420 HC stainless steel.  The blade is partially serrated.  A lot of survival knives come with straight blades, but I think a real case can be made for the serrations.  Both options have there pluses and minuses, but I like the fact that in a long term survival situation gives you a portion of the blade that will stay sharp a lot longer.  The blade holds it’s edge fairly well and the built-in carbide sharpener in the sheath will bring back a useable edge fairly quickly.

For a sub $100 knife you can feel comfortable trusting this blade in a survival situation or just a short hike in the brush.

 

The second knife in this comparison is the SOG Seal Pup.  It is very different from the Gerber, but a nice knife in it’s own right.  Like the LMF II the first thing you will notice when you grab the Seal Pup is its weight, or lack there of.  If the Gerber is a broad sword this is a scalpel.  The overall length is 9 inches with a 4.8 inch blade length.  The weight including sheath is under 10 oz.  I really like the blade.  It is a modified bowie design that gives the knife a very classic look.  The handle is small, but fits well in my medium sized hand great.

Another sub $100 knife that is a great choice as an EDC.

Features:

8 inch overall length

glass-reinforced nylon (GRN) handle

AUS 6 blade material

multi-mounting nylon sheath

The Seal Pup features a full tang design that makes a very sturdy knife.  The raised diamond design on the handle gives good retention in wet and dry conditions.  Like I said in the review of the Gerber the SOG has a partially serrated blade which I personally like. (if you aren’t a fan you can get the Seal Pup elite with a straight blade).  The knife comes with a nylon sheath that I surprisingly liked more than expected.  Like the Gerber it gives you a variety of ways to attach to different gear.  For a knife this light I was able to do a fair amount of chopping and batoning.  The AUS 6 blade is softer than the AUS 8 used in the Seal Pup elite due to a lower carbon count, but this allows the blade to be sharpened a little easier in the field.

This is another knife you can pick-up for around $50 that really can’t be beat as an EDC (everyday carry).

After spending time with both of these knives I am a little more confused.  The Gerber appears to be the knife I would like to have in a survival situation if I could only have one knife, but during everyday situations the SOG is the one that usually ends up in my hand.

I am glad to have both of these knives in my collection.  They both are great knives that you will be happy to have.  If you want just one knife I would recommend getting your hands on both and see which one feels best to you.  You will be happy either way you go.

 

Thanks for joining us!

I will have my new podcast posted within the next few weeks.  I bring my own experiences from the last 20 years of military, law enforcement, and time spent in the great outdoors and present it in a way anyone can enjoy and understand.  I have wanted to do this podcast for a number of years now, but life got in the way and I put it off.  With the way the economy and the political climate are headed now I realized I can no longer sit on the sidelines.  I am going to start with one to two podcasts a week and we will see how it goes from there.  I will also be doing product reviews and some interviews as well.  And finally, welcome!