The Importance of Illumination

Candle

In a previous article we discussed details of Everyday Carry Items (EDC) We started with the premise of a ‘layered’ EDC system, distributing items between pockets, small containers and bags etc depending on their importance and access requirements.

 

I, like many, am constantly reviewing, revising and amending my EDC, not least of which because of the amount I travel but also due to the extreme environmental fluctuations we have here in the far north of Scandinavia! Every year sees the long lazy summer days pass, the dismal vestiges of late autumn then break to a dark and cold winter, not only here, but in many other regions as well. Even if you are not entering a winter phase, it cannot be lost on us, as sure as the sun rises it sets, and dealing with the dark is a topic often overlooked in defensive circles. In this article I’m going to briefly but comprehensively take you through some of the considerations when it comes to the Importance of Illumination and some EDC options.

 

As a serious minimalist when it comes to equipment carry, to the extent I am very rarely subscribed to the ‘multiple redundancy carry’ mindset often espoused  (I do genuinely have my reasons) a review of my Level 1 and 2 EDC (On my body or within arms reach) reveals 4 separate illumination devices(!) This may seem extreme, so what am I carrying and why?

For an overview I am carrying, in order:

  • A small red LED light on a paracord neck chain. (Left of Picture)
  • A small blue LED light on my keychain. (Centre Left of Picture)
  • A Tactical Flashlight (Eagletac P20C2) in my pocket (Centre Right of Picture)
  • A (Petzl brand) Headtorch in my small ‘Manbag’ (Right of Picture)

 

illumination 1

 

Before I continue, I want to highlight a twofold advantage of this approach. Not only does this EDC offer a good, robust and resilient approach to many issues, both small and large, but it has proved, to date, to be one of the best ‘conversion strategies’ I have had in terms of spousal/family type ‘buy in’, not only for my family but for students of mine as well. While this is a significant issue of its own that I will write about further in a separate article, it definitely is worth mentioning here at this time!

 

So why am I carrying this? This I’ll answer by item, but in reverse order:

 

The Headtorch (or Headlamp)

Not only in my capacity as a professional outdoorsman, but on numerous occasions throughout my regular daily activity, I will need to illuminate a specific area AND want to keep my hands free. While deepthroating a maglite is eminently doable, I can’t say it enables one to focus well on any given task. That, combined with the fact this action, when performed at extreme low temperatures will result in your mouth being frozen to the flashlight for ‘some time’, normally ensures alternatives should be sought (I reserve the right to provide no further detail on this particular ‘fact finding story’, thank you very much) However you get to this end result, we can be happy with the idea that being able to provide light and keep our hands free is often a very good thing. From writing notes, changing a tire by the roadside, tying and untying knots, using tools, sharpening knives, or fiddling in the fuse box to fix the ‘blackout’ and much, much more not having one hand ‘occupied’ holding a light is a tremendous bonus.

 

One other, slight aside, but VERY useful tip on the headtorch. Look at the picture again. You see on the right hand side of the torch pictured the ‘battery box’? You see between the battery box and the light itself a small green colored object? This is a complete set of spare batteries secured to the strap of the headtorch with cloth tape. More on this a little later, but this tip has helped me more times than I can now count!

 

The Tactical Flashlight

For those of us living under heavy legal restrictions ‘weapon carry’ is exceptionally problematic. Even small folding knives in some countries will be dealt with in the most draconian way. A tactical flashlight has travelled with me through numerous countries, multiple security checkpoints, including American airports, and has never once been questioned or raised concerns. As well as offering a good, solid, white light source, useful for a wide variety of things. The strobe effect, hardened metal body, size and shape of this tool do give it some valuable ‘weapon level’ features. A lot of this tools power lies in its ‘pre-emptive’ ability. A good bright, light shone to the face is, at worst, distracting, can buy time and distance if used properly and can be used to conceal a whole bunch of other movement if you need it to. This is if you use the light when when directly facing a threat, but the ability to search an area more thoroughly (especially indoors) indicate or mask your location and clearly indicate your ability to see something are all additional and valuable uses. Even if living in a permissive environment where additional weapons carry is allowed, I still carry a tactical flashlight (as do many others I know) because of the advantages it offers.

 

The LED Keychain Light

In the first instance this is most useful when trying to find the right key and access locks. Having a light, right there on your keychain, prevents a whole lot of ‘fumbling around in the dark’. We are aware approaching our residences and vehicles is a time of particular risk, so minimizing any ‘faff’ time in these areas is highly desirable. I particularly like a ‘non white’ light here so it is not overly conspicuous and is not compromising my eyes adjustment to the dark as much. In this regard red or green light is preferable, but I am using blue for now for a specific, but separate reason.

 

The LED Neck Chain Light

Having a small, discreet, easy to access light source is very useful. I typically use this light for signaling short distances at night when I want to remain quiet, or if I have a quick job I need to complete and do not need or cannot access my headtorch. You will see from the close up picture this LED light not only works by being squeezed (typically between finger and thumb) but also has an on/off switch.

 

illumination 2

 

So it is simple and easy to switch ‘on’ and be held lightly between the teeth to illuminate an area immediately to your front but also keep the hands free. Why not use the headtorch? It’s a good question, and I’ll tell you a little, frequently occurring experience of mine. I’m using my headtorch very often, now ask yourself, when are the batteries most likely to ‘die’?  Why when it’s in use of course, is the obvious answer! Now think, is it typically light or dark when using it? Hmmm, dark… And herein is the problem. Changing torch batteries in the dark is not the easiest of things, so with this set up, a battery change becomes easy, especially when I know exactly where the spare batteries are (Taped to the torch strap, remember!?!) As and when my illumination device fails, I use the small LED light that is immediately available to complete a quick and easy battery change. The same method could be used for any number of similar, small tasks.

 

I mentioned earlier the ‘spousal conversion’ benefits of this EDC setup. To touch on that again, briefly. Many of us committed to learning and training for conflict, face varying levels of resistance or concern from our families and frequently little ‘buy in’ from our spouses. This may be a general lack of interest to an active vilification of our lifestyle choices (“What do you need another (insert defensive tool name here) for, you already have so many???” is a frequent refrain heard by many)

 

While I will address this more in a separate article, I’ve found illumination devices a great ‘start point’ in getting greater understanding in families as to some of the benefits in EDC, and with these type of ‘small wins’ the stepping stones to greater acceptance and involvement are paved. I typically ‘gift’ these small LED lights to friends and family (especially kids), and often will actively put them on the keychain for them, so they ‘have it right there’. To date, no one has ever failed to understand the value in doing so. For a few this has then led the conversation to, ‘what would you do if you need a better, slightly more powerful light source, for instance in a blackout or if you had to quickly step out the house, for example to check something?’ Again, this logical progression makes sense to many and can quickly lead to the purchase (or gifting) of a tactical flashlight, especially given there are many excellent priced ‘entry level’ models now on the market.

 

Once they have become a proud owner of a tactical flashlight, almost everyone I know has enjoyed and been fascinated by it features and potential additional uses and most are very satisfied at the idea of carrying something that has ‘more than one use’. From this point, often, more ‘small steps’ can be taken in a positive direction. A number of people within a short time of owning a tactical flashlight have come back with some story of how it proved to be ‘so useful’ in some sort of situation they have faced, and this is one of those great occurrences that can lead to even more productive conversation and understanding of some of the benefits not only of EDC but development of a well rounded ‘resilient mindset’.

 

I’ve highlighted the main uses for my illumination devices and the details of my EDC here, but remember the possibilities are limited only by your imagination! I’ve left LED lights on and ‘discarded’ too lure students into ambushes, attached them to foliage for navigational way points, performed an impromptu shadow puppet show to calm a child after first aid treatment and seen the slickest deployment of CS gas ever, masked by a flashlight. As always, we should be challenging our equipment and our minds to perform above and beyond our expectations.

 

If you have a great story too share with regards to your use of an illumination devices be sure to post it in our forum or the comments below, as we love hearing from our readers and learning from their experiences!

 

“Stay Tuned“

broken-news

„In the last 48 hours, 4 people have died in a local hospital from flu type „xyxz“. Hospital representatives state that there is no reasons for panic, and they have formed a special committee, that will closely monitor the ongoing situation and keep the public informed.

From our anonymous sources, we have found out that 4 more people are in same hospital, currently in a very bad condition. These patients are suffering from the same type of flu virus. Our source states „they (hospital managers) do not know really what’s happening or how dangerous the developing situation is“.

Experts we have contacted, state that people need to protect themselves with masks and avoid public places with large crowds.

Stay tuned…

Our channel will give you latest updates about the situation…“

 What Does it Really Mean?

Imagine this news shows on your local TV station, and background images show people in BIOHAZARD suits carrying some heavy looking objects in big black bags, and a man who is supervising burning a big pile of something.

You are a prepper (obviously) and this news story causes you great concern, you may conclude that it is time to get „out of the town“, go to your Bug Out Location (BOL) wearing your masks, or bio suit if you have it, ready to shoot at whoever may try to stop you.

Nothing too bad with that, if you feel it is time to run, then you run, that’s it…

The likely reality to this ‘story’ though, is that 4 people did die from flu, but just like every year. A huge number of people dying from the same annual flu, mainly older folks with chronic illness (not mentioned by media), or patients in already poor condition.

The Hospital did really form a special committee to take contact with media, simply because the media pushed the hospital staff really hard with a lot of questions about ‘this situation’.

The „Unofficial source“ in these stories is often some guy who wants to have his piece of „fame“ by telling simple fact that there is „more people in the same bad condition“ (just like in any hospital, anywhere, anytime).

The ‘expert’ who the media contacted talked about simple and common sense fact that „you should have mask on and avoid public places“ if you want to stay healthy, and protect against flu or cold or anything similar.

But if you put that statement with background pictures of people carrying big bags in bio suits, the same statement now has a completely different ‘sound’, yes?

You’ll likely find the background pictures were a couple of years old, showing some dead cows being disposed from a local farm, because of cow disease.

The point of this story is not to tell you to ignore ‘news’ if you hear that people start to die locally, but to think first about two key points:

 

  1. Research or try to research what is really going on. Have your sources, or know people (trusted) who have their trusted sources.
  2. Understand that media is usually not there to help us, they are there in order to make more money, and nothing is more cool like big fat headline of ‘dramatic’ news.

 

Sometimes reasons behind running such a story can be really simple and „funny“, like selling 100,000 masks that someone have stored somewhere, or to provide vaccines etc, sometimes it is nothing, just big ‘headline’.

And yes, sometimes it gonna be real. If you do not have other sources then yes, trust your instinct.

But please, do not „stay tuned“ in front of the TV waiting for the next update… Go  research on forums, ask friends, find sources… do something, or just run, just do not „stay tuned“  as popular media understand it.

Timing , Places, Reasons and Examples of (Mis)Information

One of my fears and at the same time an essential ‘decision point’ when I (and you) should go into full survival mode is not when SHTF, but when folks realize that Shit Is really hitting the fan.

From that moment rules are changing, and you can expect anything.

What does that mean?

It is good when you realize, as a prepper, that the SHTF ‘moment’ has occurred, and act accordingly, even if other people did not realize that yet. It is not so good when you realize this fact later, at the same time as the ‘general population’.

I have seen people burning other people houses, sometimes with people inside, just because they like that: They had an expression of joy and happiness on their faces,they wanted to do that for their whole life, but of course they did not had chance for that, simply because system was there to punish them hard even for trying to do similar things.

But they did that and similar things when they realized that SHTF, and there is nobody to punish them.

They enjoyed it.

You want to be there when they realize that?

So, an example would be that you could (and should actually, as a good prepper) realize that SHTF way before those kind of people begin to realize.

Use of that timely information could save your life, the big difference between you (prepper) and a non prepper is that you should have that information before them and react to it.

And you are most probably not going to get that information by using „regular“ media,  at least not in time to have advantage over the other folks, especially bad kind of folks.

You should plan to use the maximum information in the best time, to go into the let’s say „stealth“ survival mode and leave the area, while there is not yet a need to go to the ‘full’ survival mode of needing to do bad things to achieve your objective.

At least that would be the most desirable outcome.

Information and misinformation have value, value of it can rapidly change depending of the timeline when you get it (or give it). Just to repeat ‘valuable information’ is often very ‘time sensitive’.

Let’s say the story from the beginning of the article is true, in that a pandemic is really starting, and you received that information before chaos happened, before everything fell apart, all city services stopped, before people start stampede out of the town.

In that case you could have enough time to easy leave the area to your BOL, or to even stop by the stores and buy everything that you need in case you did not prepared enough.

You know that S. Is going to hit the fan in 3-4 days and you can prepared very well for that, and watch from your BOL how world is going to shit through the chaos.

Or you know that the pandemic ‘news’ is serious misinformation, you could just go and buy huge amount of face masks, and sell it to the folks who think pandemic is really happening if you want to make that kind of money.

In both cases information is valuable because (again) you get it before others did.

(Mis)Information (Rumors), Myths and Fear

Fear is a thing that moves people in different directions. It is natural thing and let’s say that almost everybody has fears or gonna experience fear in some situations.

In terms of SHTF fear can be „coped“ or minimized with activities like training, confidence (in your skills, preparedness etc), or simply some of us gonna experience more fear than others.

One of the biggest fear that I experienced and saw other people going through,  during the SHTF was fear from the unknown.

That „unknown“ was many different things, but most of the time it was induced by lack of the information or wrong information.

What does that mean?

It  works on many levels.

For example, some time after the SHTF, rumors started that poison gases were used in some parts of the region.

You could not point out clear sources who was their or experienced it, but everybody talked about it, and people feared this a lot.

As a result, in one period you could easily „conquer“ one building full of folks by throwing in a smoke grenade only, they all just run of the building in panic.

In some cases people just set rugs on fire in order to make smoke.

Yeah, it sounds stupid now, but what do a bunch of civilians know about poisonous (military) gases and how they look or work?

Fear is big thing.

In your case it can be something else, do not underestimate power of misinformation and fear when you are thrown into the collapse.

When SHTF, myths and rumors take places, because people use it as a advantage. For example in situation when information is planted that 500 armed people coming to your part of the town and that they killing everybody they find.

Or like popular myth, like „fact“ that drinking strong alcohol will help you not to freeze in cold environment.

Local „warlords“ used to plant rumors in order to take business from each other in things like selling smuggled food, or smuggling people out of the town in exchange for gold.

In among all this you will also be strongly tempted to lie to yourself, by telling yourself that everything is going to be OK, things are not going to go to shit because the  world cares what is going on, and little babies can not die because lack of simple medicines at the end of 20 century.

As a conclusion, false and real information are there before and after the SHTF.

And it is weird, but sometimes it is harder to find good info. in „normal times“.

Point is that you need to follow what is going on, but not just run for the information, rather to carefully choose and check every piece of it.

When SHTF you are gonna work based on small pieces and bits of info’s, and errors are gonna happen, you cannot avoid it.

What you can avoid is your need to trust in some information simply because you are too well prepared for that.

You are gonna know how to survive in the cold and be ready for that. You are gonna know what are the poisonous gases and how they work, or simply you are gonna have your small garden somewhere and you are not gonna have a need to go and check some suspicious info about guy who is selling food somewhere.

Preparing is (again) the key, and in many scenarios Knowledge truly is ‘Power’.