Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Man and Nature, what we've forgotten

If you've been following the news you know that yesterday the body of Mr. Kim was found, two days after his wife and two daughters were rescued from their car.

I knew this was going to happen - though I really hoped I'd be proven wrong. He took off lightly dressed, in cold and wet weather, trying to find help for his family.

His wife and daughters were found and survived. My wife (staunch member of La Leche League) is wryly amused that the news heads seemed fascinated that she breast fed both of her girls, one infant and one four-year-old. Like what else would she do?

"Speak no ill of the dead" and indeed I salute the man's devotion to his family - but he did the wrong thing and paid a high price for it. Survival experts tell you, if you are stuck in your car or survive a plane crash - stay with it. For searchers, a car or a plane is a hell of a lot more conspicuous than a person from the air.

They did the right thing when they burned their tires, but he should have had more patience. That's hard for a man, when your every instinct is screaming "do something!"

In this day and age, our fat, happy and secure people have forgotten what our fathers knew: that nature is the enemy, animals aren't from Disneyland and strangers should be viewed with suspicion until we know better.

I'll do the philosophical aspect of this later. For now, I'd like everyone to consider what they'd do if their car broke down in bad weather and they had to spend at least one night in it.

We've got an ancient Honda Accord. With one 5-year-old and one infant, it gets pretty crowded in there. But we have in the trunk at all times: an Army surplus entrenching tool, flashlights, a hand axe, knives, cans of sterno, lighters and candles.

We like to take long road trips and get off the interstates as much as possible. You see more of the real America and find the better burger joints that way. When we do, we take a few gallon jugs of water, packaged food such as jerky, trail mix and juice and sleeping bags/ blankets.

I've never taken formal survival training, but a lot of the information is freely available in books. I have the Air Force survival manual, which is the most comprehensive I've seen. And in this day and age a lot of stuff is available at Wal-Mart for cheap. I just bought a combination flashlight/ radio (with a weather channel setting) that runs off batteries and has a hand-cranked generator. Price - about $20. Flannel blankets and sleeping bags that can be zipped together cost next to nothing. And check out the sports/ hunting/ fishing section for cheap serviceable knives and tools. And have you seen those hand-cranked cell phone re-chargers?

I keep thinking of what I don't have. What do you think, did I miss something?

How about a length of rubber tubing to siphon gas out of the tank? Any suggestions folks?


  • At 10:21 AM, Blogger Gilmoure said…

    I went through Air Force air crew survival training 20 years ago (Fairchild AFB, WA-near Rocky Mts.). It pretty much sucked. As soon as I heard he left his family and was gone for more than a day, figured it was over for him.

    I've been doing winter camping in the Sandia Mountains, here in New Mexico, and you really have to be careful. I'm just glad the Sandias are 20 minutes from the states best trauma units and have almost full cel coverage. A busted ankle 3 miles out with below freezing temps and rain can really ruin your day.

  • At 6:30 PM, Blogger Eduardo said…

    He was nine days in the car, wasn't he? That's a long time to wait. Especially if you don't know if you are being looked for. At some point you have to decide if staying and dying is better than taking a chance to rescue those you love.

  • At 9:50 PM, Blogger Saint in Exile said…

    "Any suggestions folks?"

    Piggybacking on your earlier point that strangers should be viewed with suspicion... a handgun and a magazine of ammo.

    Don't be a victim. Buy a gun.

  • At 11:46 PM, Blogger Lastango said…

    You may have to walk out. For instance, someone may be injured any you may need to get help. What's missing from your kit is gear that lets you get safely on the move.

    If the weather is warm you'll probably be OK - unless you get soaking wet. The real danger comes when one has to stay on the move in the cold. To deal with this one might carry:

    - boots with a felt insert liner (for warmth) and rubber lower (for water proofing). Wool socks. (Even if you're staying with the car, you'll need them if you'll be gathering firewood or fetching water through the snow.

    - a backpack, to carry supplies and gear.

    - emergency shelter. Mine is a 2-man, space blanket type.

    - 40-hour candles and a tin can. When pausing to rest, sit down, wrap the shelter around your shoulders (with your head outside), put the tin can on the ground between your legs and a candle in it. You'll stay toasty warm. This works inside a car too. Wrap a blanket around yourself covering your legs and put the can on the car floor. Be sure to ventilate. If you use it inside the emergency shelter, ventilate that too.

    - a foam pad to sit or lay down on.

    - a big puffy down jacket. (Find one second-hand... it doesn't have to be pretty.)

    - a rain suit. These cut wind well too.

    - mitts. Good, big ones for you.

    - wool socks and wool or fleece hats for everyone. They'll stay much warmer that way, even inside the car.

    - maps that cover the area, and a compass. Buy a book on how to use it if you don't already know, and practice. Besides the technical aspects of compass-using, there are many practical tips and traps to know about finding your way with one.

    - if you're nearsighted, a spare pair of eyeglasses.

    - Duct tape. Have a whole roll in the car. Whether closing a wound, covering a broken car window or fixing torn gear, there's nothing like it.

    - lightweight backpacker's hand saw.

    - backpacker's water purifier.

    - a couple of large plastic bottles with screw-top lids.

    - two spray cans of bear repellant, one to carry and one to leave with the people in the car. Tip: in cold weather, store it handy but close to the body or it will lose pressure. Put a piece of duct tape (in a way that's quick to tear off) over the trigger guard.

    - toilet paper.

    - something for the people in the car to read while you're gone.

    One other thing: the ultimate piece of survival gear is a handheld satellite telephone. I recommend the Globalstar GSP 1600. Works all around the world.


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