Etiquette In Unknown Areas (How To Avoid Starting A Riot)

crowded street

 

This summer the team at SHTFSchool have been busy travelling and planning for a new range of courses. This is in addition to my routine and extensive travels for other work.  Today  I share a summary of some key things I’ve learnt in my travels on things to do (or not!) if you find yourself in a ‘new place’ or are unsure of what the social ‘norms’ of the area you are in may be. I hope it is of use and interest!

Remember, in these days of increasing ‘multiculturalism’ it is perfectly possible to get yourself into trouble breaking ‘cultural rules’ without travelling to a foreign country

The overarching consideration for this type of problem can easily be broken down into two categories. Deciding on a recommended course of action or displaying a behaviour can always be held up to this simple litmus test…

1) No harm can come from this… (Insert action)
2) No good can come from… (Insert action)

See how this applies in this list of top 10 things to consider below:

1. Be Observant

Breaking rules in other cultures can attract moderate to severe penalties. (Go to Deera Square in Saudi Arabia on a Friday afternoon to see a stark example). Due to the potential severity of punishment of what we may see as ‘slight’ or minor issues, the exquisite art of observation must come into play as early as possible. Scrutinize your surroundings and compare yourself to them and see in what ways you will/are ‘stand out’ and then take action to address those issues swiftly. No harm can come from being observant.

2. Keep Covered

This applies to men, but even more so to women. No harm can come from covering as much of the body as possible in an unknown area (See how the test works!?) If you feel you ever are realistically going to find yourself in such an ‘unknown’ situation we are illustrating, then make sure long sleeved trousers and tops are worn or are immediately available. Early observation should indicate if you need to cover your head. For shawls/scarves/head covers unless you KNOW the tribal identifiers (e.g. patterns and colour connotations on a shemagh) keep them as neutral and non-specific in style as possible. Your dapper blue cravat may look great at the cocktail bar in your tennis club but will probably cause you problems in South-Central LA.

3. Avoid Comments

Let’s face it, you are probably already ‘pinged’ by the locals or residents as being a stranger. Trying not to stand out will help, but an overheard comment (especially a negative or derogatory one), no matter how outstanding, strange, odd or degrading event you are commenting on is going to get you on people’s radar swiftly and not in a good way. No good can come from mentioning how ‘different’ these people are from you, or you are from these people.

4. Stick Within Your Gender

Do not attempt to engage, in any way, with members of the opposite sex. Full Stop (Period). Be as affronted at this advice as you want, but take it. No discussion is required. If you can’t follow it in this format you WILL be taught another way…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2350503/Dwayne-Ward-First-picture-British-teen-stabbed-17-times-tortured-stripped-naked-kissing-Turkish-girl.html

Also know this isn’t just about you. If you are introduced to a woman do not offer her your hand. Wait for her to offer. If you hold out your hand in simple politeness you may be forcing her to choose between insulting a guest (you) or touching a man she is not married to—either or both of which may be harshly punished for.

5. Steer Clear of Religious Buildings/Areas

In the absence of a professional guide, or clear acceptance of tourists, the odds of you breaking up a VERY significant rule are so off the scale it is not worth the risk.

6. Remain Clear Headed

Degenerating your ability to be observant, and cognitive ability to understand why you need to stick with these rules is a plan no good can come from… On this, please note, just because you see locals doing something doesn’t mean you can too…don’t get drunk or high in dangerous places. More strongly, NEVER alter your mental state except in a confirmed safe place.

7. Don’t Engage with ANY Solicitation

Do not give to beggars, do not feed the poor. From personal experience don’t stop the child running in to the road clearly in your line of sight (it’s bait for a trap you don’t want to be in). Don’t talk with prostitutes, even if you are ‘Just asking for directions’, avoid street vendors, touts, self declared taxi drivers… You get the idea.

If You Need Help, Ask Someone in a Public Facing Role or just ‘Back Up’ – Look for assistance from service staff, waiters, store owners etc. DO NOT stop random strangers in the street, and don’t stand in the street looking lost and/or bewildered. If you have ‘inadvertently’ found yourself in the wrong place, turn around and go back the way you came (Like if you ever accidentally take an express subway that doesn’t stop at 70th Street in New York City, but takes you straight to Harlem at 11pm at night, and you are translucent white, not American, and look like you just got a beating from Muay Thai class, get back on the Subway and head back the way you came…)

8. No Pictures

You’ve realized you may not be in tinsel town, so stop wandering around like a tourist. Unless you’re taking pictures of your teeth for dental record analysis later on, no good can come from getting in peoples way with a camera.

http://rt.com/news/protests-morsi-violence-opposition-366/

9. Don’t Display Wealth

If it’s shiny and possibly expensive looking stow it away or hide it. Dress down to the best of your ability.

Most important point last!

10. Be Polite

Not witty, engaging, entertaining, fascinated, shocked, pious, or committed to ‘educating people’, or any other way you may think I mean by ‘Polite’. Out and out, genuinely polite. You are the odd one out, you are under scrutiny, anything going wrong WILL be seen as potentially your fault, so try not to do anything ‘wrong’ (even though you don’t know yet what wrong is) so be sincere and respectful in your actions until you’ve figured out what is going on…

These 10 simple measures will hopefully ‘buy you time’ to figure out how to best act and proceed in an area previously unknown to you. Getting into trouble in an unknown area is fraught with additional risks. Inciting a mob is a situation you will very likely never escape from.

Do you have any ‘rules’ you follow when you are in ‘unknown areas’…? Please comment below and share your experiences…

Guest Post – Myth Busting Knife Attacks by Darren Laur

Recently, I read an article on surviving an edged weapon attack, where the writer spoke specific to knife wounds, as they related to unconsciousness and death, which I found quite troublesome given the fact that his numbers just did not reflect the empirical experience/data that I have witnessed over my 29yrs of being a law enforcement professional.

In this article, the author first quoted a book written by Captain W E Fairburn called “Get Tough: How to Win In Hand-to-Hand Fighting” published in 1942. On page 99 of this text (fig.112) Fairburn provides the following information specific to “loss of consciousness in seconds” and “Death” specific to knife wounds:

 

FS Timetable

Brachial Artery – Unconsciousness 14 seconds, death 1.5 minutes

Radial Artery – Unconsciousness 30 seconds, death 2 minutes

Carotid Artery – Unconsciousness 5 seconds, death 12 seconds

Subclavian Artery – Unconsciousness 2 seconds, death 3.5 seconds

Heart – Unconsciousness instantaneous, death 3 seconds

Background

I attempted to locate any medical literature surrounding the time that this book was published to support the above noted data, but I was unable to do so. If anyone reading this can provide me with the medical literature that supports Fairburn’s data from that time period, please send it my way.

Based upon the above noted Fairburn data, I began my literary review of the martial art/self-protection/combatives academia, specific to unconsciousness and death specific to knife wounds, and what I found was very surprising if not troublesome. Much of the data supplied in these books, articles, and papers that I reviewed were just a rehash of Fairburn’s numbers, and others were anecdotal at best, and more often than not just plain negligent. None, and I mean none, cited any medical literature to support their claims. Some stated that they had spoken to a medical professional (doctors and paramedics) to validate their claims, but yet they did not provide the names of these medical professionals, or their credentials, or even medical research links which would have helped validate their published writings.

Research

After reading the above noted martial art, self protection, and combatives academia, and being less than impressed with their reported data specific to unconsciousness and death as it relates to knife wounds, I too decided to connect with the medical professionals. Two of the doctors that I connected with are experts in their field of medicine; both specialize in trauma care and critical care medicine, and have a plethora of firsthand experience in dealing with those who have been injured via an edged or pointed weapon:

Dr Lorne David Porayko:

• Full time Critical Care Medicine/Anaesthesiology specialist in Victoria, Vancouver Island Health Authority
• Critical Care team leader
• Works in conjunction with Dr Christine Hall
• Martial Arts background in Judo (black belt level), MMA, Krav Maga
• Honoured to say that Dr Porayko is one of my full time students

Dr Christine Hall:

• Full time emergency medicine specialist in Victoria, Vancouver Island Health Authority.
• Trauma team leader and educator.
• Previously, program director for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary.
• Master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Calgary.
• Cross-appointed in the department of community health sciences through the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary and also the faculty of medicine’s department of surgery at UBC.

Shock

When it comes to unconsciousness or death attributed to an edged weapon attack, we are talking about what the medical community calls “Shock”. Dr Porayko defines shock as, “the development of multi-organ failure due to insufficient oxygen being delivered to the tissue to meet their metabolic needs.”

Specific to shock as it relates to unconsciousness and death, Dr Porayko stated the following to me:

“ A 70kgs (154lbs) male’s circulating blood volume is about 70ml/kg which equals about 5 litres. Cardiac output is about 5-7 litres per minute. All the great vessels of the body act as a conduit of approximately 15-20% of CO/minute which equals about 1 litre per minute. The great vessels include the innominate artery, Subclavian arteries, carotid arteries and some include the iliac arteries. The 4 atria, 2 ventricles and aorta all conduct the full cardiac output thus are well protected in the centre of the body behind the sternum and in front of the thoracolumbar spine.”

So why is the above noted information important, because hemorrhagic shock (blood loss) is based upon how much hydraulic fluid (blood) is leaked from the body. When it comes to understanding hemorrhagic shock, I would guide you to the following links that were provided to me by Dr Porayko:

http://ccforum.com/content/8/5/373
http://ccforum.com/content/8/5/373/table/T1

Dr Porayko advised that based upon the above noted link:

• A class II shock category (750-1500ml) would leave “most” dizzy and very weak
• a Class III or Class IV shock category (1500ml-2 litres of blood loss) would leave “most” with the inability to stand up right

Specific to my questions about unconsciousness and death if specific anatomical arteries or veins were cut, and given all the medical variable associated, the Doctors had to make the following assumptions first before they could answer my questions:

1. There is no compression of a lacerated artery underway. This was irrelevant for a lacerated vein due to the fact that a vein can’t be compressed

2. The subject is previously healthy with a normal haemoglobin concentration and has a normal VO2 max prior to being wounded.

3. If an artery is the target, the artery is incompletely transacted. Completely transacted arteries go into vasospasm and retract into their perivascular sheaths which markedly reduces bleeding and even stopping bleeding all together in the case of smaller vessels. On this point Dr Porayko stated that this is the reason the Ghurkhas were trained to twist their knives in the femoral artery after puncturing it- to avoid a clean surgical transaction, thus preventing the vasospasm and retraction into the perivascular sheath, and instead to intentionally cause a hole in the vessel sidewall which is much more lethal.

4. The adventitia (a saran wrap like layer around the blood vessel) does not seal the wound ( The doctors stated that this usually does happen in survivors) and/or a clot does no form after blood pressure drops.

The doctors also noted:

“although exsanguinations (death from blood loss) from a venous injury is much slower that an arterial one (because mean arterial pressure is usually at least 10x central venous pressure), the venous injury is much more difficult to treat and generally if arterial injured patients survive to hospital with manual compression, they will do well whereas major venous injured patients often die even after getting to the operating room”

Of note, both doctors opinioned that the numbers provided by Fairburn and other combative/martial arts instructors that I provided to them for review, specific to times for unconsciousness and/or death, are way too short. Both stated that they believed that these numbers are based upon “complete cessation” of all cardiac output through the involved vessel which is not the norm. In fact Dr Pryayko brought to my attention that during the French revolution when thousands of people were beheaded by guillotine, the attending doctors documented the presence of vital signs in the body for up to two minutes.

Real Numbers

So based upon the above 4 “assumptions”, here are the numbers that the doctors I consulted provided specific to a level of hemorrhagic shock taking place which would lead to unconsciousness or death in “most” situations:

Carotid Artery – Approx 2-20 minutes

Jugular Vein – Approx 15-60 minutes

Subclavian Artery – Approx 2-20 minutes. The doctors also noted: “this is a special circumstance anatomically because this vessel is protected by the clavicle and the first rib (sandwiched between them) if the Subclavian artery bleeds, the only way to compress it and repair it is to open the chest by thoracotomy. You cannot compress it. Patients usually die on the scene or en-route to hospital.

Subclavian Vein – Approx 15-60 minutes

Brachial Artery – 5-60 minutes. The doctors also noted: “pretty unusual to see these without compression by EMS)

Femoral Artery – 5-60 minutes. The doctors also noted: “Pretty unusual to see these without compression by EMS)

Aorta or any part of the heart – Approx 1-2 minutes. The doctors stated that the heart conducts 100% of cardiac output. Assuming transaction and that the hole does not seal. Ventricular holes do usually seal while the atrial ones do not due to the orientation of the muscle fibres.

Two other areas of note made by the doctors also included:

Popliteal Artery – Located behind the knee, would be similar (but slightly less) to cutting the femoral artery

Inferior Vena Cava – Can be attacked via a deep abdominal stab, similar to cutting the Jugular vein

Exceptions

Both doctors stated that these are estimates based upon current medical literature and their first hand experience, but both also stated that there are always exceptions to these estimates. Both gave examples where patients who had received severe knife wound survived even with a heavy loss of blood, some examples:

• One of the doctors has seen several patients with traumatic cardiotomies (a big hole in the heart) survive for 20 minutes before being treated

• One of the doctors treated a patient who had been stabbed in the abdomen, where the knife hit the inferior vena cava, his belly was full of blood, he was conscious, although shocky, an hour after the injury when he arrived in the ER. He survived.

The doctors stated that they have seen patients who have bled out nearly their entire blood volume, but yet are still awake and talking (although looking bad) many many minutes following an injury and survive to tell their story. Dr Porayko stated, “So it is a mistake to underestimate a person’s capacity to compensate for acute hypovolemia and anaemia (hemorrhagic shock), even when very severe. This is especially true in the younger population.

Conclusion

So why did I write this article?

1. Much of the information being propagated in the martial arts, self protection, and combatives industry specific to unconsciousness and death as a result of a knife attack, specific to blood loss, is inaccurate. I wanted to provide those who are looking to share current and accurate medical opinion with the above noted information, hoping that it will go viral in our industry. For those who don’t and continue to teach inaccurate information, shame on you.

2. Those who teach others how to fight with a knife, and state that if you cut or stab a person here or there an attacker will die in seconds, are both willfully blind and being irresponsible to their student in most cases. Those who teach others how to fight with a knife need to absorb the information in this article, and start teaching from a medically researched knowledge base.

The most important reason for this article, SURVIVAL !!!!!! Words are powerful, and can create our own reality. If you “believe” that you will die in seconds because your radial artery has been cut in a knife attack, and your instructor told you (and you believe him) that you only have 30 seconds to live before you die from blood loss, then you likely will die. As can be seen from the numbers provided by the doctors, even if one receives a severe cut or stab to a major blood vessel or organ, you can still fight for several minutes (not seconds), and even longer, and still survive. As Dr Hall stated, “The decision to survive, it is that intangible thing that cannot be measured, and I think is part of the reason that some people survive and some don’t. You have to decide ahead of time that you are going to live.”

————————————————————–

Darren Laur, also known as “The White Hatter”,  has dedicated his life to public safety, and is a recently retired and highly respected Staff Sergeant with the Victoria City Police Department with over 29 years of law enforcement experience, and is a Certified Advanced Open Source Intelligence / Social Media Investigator with a strong interest/background in on-line and social media investigations. Darren is an internationally court recognized safety and workplace violence prevention expert/advocate, award winning published author and highly sought after international keynote speaker, who specializes in the area of personal safety and self protection both on-line and off-line.

More information can be found at: http://www.personalprotectionsystems.ca/

Lessons Learnt

Recently we held a physical Urban Skills course in Croatia. I was exceptionally happy with how well the course went.

Students were there to learn various skills. Personally I found a lot of skills very important in preparing for SHTF, but what I want to highlight most, to them, and all others is that skills that they learned before and on this course need to be set ‘inside’ SHTF circumstances.

What do I mean by that?

One of the big mythbusting about SHTF is that your skills will work and solve problems in SHTF in the way that you imagined.

In reality it is clearly not like that.

As some of the students learned, when SHTF (and we tried on the course to bring conditions as close as possible to the real SHTF) every ‘learned skill’ worked different.

Just a few examples (from many):

Water Collection

Skills ‘says’ that you need to collect water in several ways, for example rain from the roofs using tarps and similar.

IMG_5364

Then you need container to ‘transport’ that water, like bottles, flasks and similar.

IMG_5353

Then you need to purify it with gauze, pills, boiling or whatever mean suit you…

IMG_5367

Traps

You set up some dangerous trap in front of your home with this you can kill any approaching ‘enemy’…

Trade

You have items that someone else needs and vice versa, you go find the guy, exchange goods and all is fine…

Weapon

You have most modern weapon and bunch of ammo and you feel safe…

But…

This list can go on and on for every item stored or every skill learned, but in reality things can and often do work like this:

You cannot collect water because simply there is no rain for weeks. You cannot set up tarps because you are hiding inside an abandoned apartment for days while there are not so friendly folks outside on the street.

The amazing trap that set up for your scenario is simply trap that will ‘injure’ the enemy in a way that he thought was there by ‘chance’ or ‘mistake’. Let’s say he tripped on some shit that looks like it was there because building was destroyed weeks ago, not something that, on reflection, he realizes was smartly set up by you, therefore he has no idea you are actually there and are actively defending.

For trade, you end up waiting waiting for correct information for days, and then after you get there, finally to the right place, you get ‘played’ by someone who trades you packs of cigarettes with nothing inside, or in worst case who shot you in the back because you assume that he is honorable.

cigs

For weapons, you find out that on 15th day of SHTF you end up with club (bat) as your primary weapon because you assume that 1000 rounds can last for months, or simply when someone attacked your home you forget to take your rifle with you when you ran. (For all those saying ‘this can never happen, events from the course prove otherwise)

One student asked me if it was true that I drank water simply from the puddle of water.

I said yes, with my shirt as a filter only.

Now that does not look like some skill for sure, not some survivalist purifying water, but it is the truth. Even if you have the means to treat water, are you confident in it? Have you thought about the water you realistically will be sourcing…?

IMG_5349

You need to understand that each and every skill you have will be ‘disrupted’ someway in real SHTF, so you will be forced simply to ‘shorten’ procedures.

Is it good?

No of course not, but it is much better than to be shot in head while you are setting up a tarp outside your home…

Skills yes, but mindset for knowing what skills to use and when, that is all what is about here.

If you do not get a sense when and how to implement each skill, there is no sense in knowing any of it.

I am promising you, that every one of your skills will be performed in a different way in real settings, when you do not eat well, do not sleep good, with a lot of fear from the known and unknown.

Our physical Urban Skills course is a truly unique training opportunity, and we are very happy to announce next years dates. For all the details click here.

In the meantime, stay safe, and make sure you are training for the realities, not the fantasies…

 

Orlando Nightclub Attack – Some Thoughts

Pain

 

I hate to write articles following terrorist attack, but here I am again. With how everything looks, I’m anticipating writing more articles increasingly based on the „newest terrorist attack“…

I wrote about terrorism and terrorist attack in some other terms, what I’d like to discuss with you here and now is more about the core of these events, What is happening inside them, and what to do, or how to survive it.

Let’s just cover some of the basics here, in terms of survival, if you find yourself in the middle of similar attack.

Where Are You?

One of the my favorite means of survival in any SHTF situation is not to be there. That goes for war and also for some terrorist attack inside some club.

Terrorism have as a goal to change our way of living, to install fear in us, so we could be in constant expecting of attack. For me,  they are succeeding in that.

Placing myself unarmed in confined space with whole bunch of unarmed people sounds like very bad idea to me. The probability that terrorist will attack whole bunch of folks in a gun convention, or at shooting range in Texas is very low, simply because their success there is very limited.

It is bad time to be unarmed together with whole bunch of another unarmed people, simply avoid that.

So that brings us to the next point:

Guns or No Guns?

All terrorist attacks ends when good guys with guns come and kill bad guys with guns. So one thing here is very clear: it is not about guns only, it is who has the guns.

Rory Quote
Clearly if other good guys (victims) had guns chances for them to finish that terrorist attack (to kill the terrorist) earlier would be much higher. Have a gun, be armed!

Terrorist by the nature do not expect to meet active resistance (firearms) from the victims, they are there to shoot as many people as possible, and even one good man with a pistol could make significant tactical change in everything.

Good people with guns brings us to the next point here:

Reality

I experienced and participated in shootings in closed (inside buildings) environment with more persons inside, and it is nothing like practicing on a shooting range, so it is something that you need to be prepared for.

Several gunshots from rifle in an indoor environment is something that could (and did) make people literally shit themselves, or to be paralyzed in shock for some time.

Add to that complete chaos, screams, panic and everything else and it is not sunset movie scene where there is attacker and you only.

You will act how you are trained, so train for that.

A few thoughts here to consider:

Building:

Know the buildings that you entering and where you are going to spend some time, especially if there is going to be a crowd. Entrances, exits, escape routes, obstacles, think where most of the folks will run, think where a possible attacker could come from and what is best position for him, for you…

Cover and Concealment:

Understand what is ‘cover’ and what is ‘concealment’.  You could read in some manual that concealment could be for example thick bush, you stand behind that and you are not visible, and for cover there is thick brick wall and behind it no bullet can kill you.

With that knowledge you find yourself in the middle of terrorist attack inside club and find out there is no bushes or thick walls and you suddenly have a flash of revelation that tells you did not learn enough about important things. There is a difference between knowledge and understanding.

Here I find movie industry very guilty for misinformation and lot of possible deaths. You know the movie scenes where people who were shot with a pistol, fly 10 meters through the air when they get hit, or, or guys who use wooden tables for cover in gunfights?

It is all wrong you know…?

Bullet from AK 47 (or any other similar characteristic rifle) can go through many things like doors, walls, shelves, cabinets, tables and kill you or even one more person. Even bullets from a pistol can go through a lot of stuff and kill you.

A good idea is to bring some stuff next time on your shooting range and test it, shoot through it so you have idea.

After that exercise on shooting range, whenever you go to your favorite places (malls, clubs, etc) together with entrances, exits, route considerations etc think, look for and identify real cover (can that big wooden bar take a rifle shot, or that big refrigerator?)

Who Survives?

Mostly guys who survived to tell story about similar events were those who use the opportunity to flee right on time, so I would not have any real deep thoughts about that, if you have chance to run, then run and survive.

If you are there, at the place, armed and have a chance to make the change (to eliminate attacker) to save yourself, then no deep thoughts again, eliminate the threat!

But again here is catch, it is not shooting range, with empty beer bottles. Attacker is shooting too, and most probably with deadlier weapon than yours…

Slight advantage here is that attacker is not expecting resistance in the form of a firearm. Again, a few suggestions. Forget any thoughts of ‘honorable fighting'(scream while everybody else is screaming in horror and then when he points in other direction shoot the asshole in back), and also do some tactical thinking about his position and your position, angles of movement, corners, types of his weapon (time to reload) and use every opportunity to win.

Conclusion

It is pretty dark conclusion, since I strongly believe that even when you entering mall you need to think about possible exits, how thick is that glass in front, covers and tactical movements in case of attack, but it is what it is, we are talking about survival anyway not about agriculture here.

Remember attacks are happening where people are not expecting it too much, that is also why are so many victims.

Be prepared!

Do events such as these change your preparedness plans or affect your training? Comment below, let us know how you would deal with a situation like this…?

Plans Without Preps

maze

 

I got asked a great question recently, and thought I would answer it with an article. A reader asks:

„I read your posts for years, I did not find myself survivalist all that time, I have read it because what you wrote about war times and similar… My question is simple, can you give couple of simple advice’s what to do in case of SHTF, without going into „prep for years“ or „build your group for years and store pile of ammo“ advices,  what if SHTF tommorrow and I do not have anything like that“?

At the first it looks like simple question, something that any of us who are into prepping should answer easily, but again we are talking about man who is not into prepping at all.

So what to do?

Whole books are written about this answer, but let’s try to be short and just stick to the basics here.

What Is Going On?

You see that something is happening outside, something big, let’s say you notice that there is an emergency broadcasting on TV, and you see a huge number of law enforcement outside, and other that that you know nothing more.

Now, at this moment, you need to make some important decisions, and you’ll have to make it based on what you know, so clearly the more information you can get, the better you can make decisions.

Two important points here you need to understand are:

1.No matter what is the real reason for your particular SHTF event, there is some common  elements of every SHTF event no matter if it’s terrorist dirty bomb attack, solar EMP or Romulans attacking with spaceships.

Panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos. So just do not expect to collect all the info. you want in that moment.

Do not wait to find out what is really happening, or let’s say do not wait to find out why things (shit) are happening. At this moment forget the ‘why’ and act.

2. Collect info. based on your small circle of options. That means (continuing from point A) that you do not need (most probably) to find out why there is looting in street next to you, why there is police force in big number, why there is no TV signal, and why there is big black smoke visible from your office few kilometers away in the city.

What you need to know is how to avoid (and what way to take) looting mob, what kind of force police is using there and what way to travel to avoid that big black smoke.

Do not get me wrong, to know why things are happening is great, but to wait too long to find out is usually bad and it is often way better to solve things in small steps.

What Actually To Do?

Go back to the basics again.  Simply try to stay away from the trouble.

We said that you are not prepper, and you are in the city.

Assess your situation and act.

Your „luck“ probably in that moment is that people will probably look more how to take (steal) LCD TVs or laptops than things for shelter or defense.

Get yourself organized into simple categories, we typically have SEVEN Survival Priorities:

  1. Fire
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Food
  5. Communication
  6. Medical
  7. Defense

Try to cover each priority as much as you can.

Again, do not spend too much time in covering each one at the expense of finding yourself in a worse situation.

As you are not prepper, and you might find yourself in the middle of working day in the office when SHTF, look around yourself and see what you can use to cover each of the priorities.

For fire you can have only a lighter maybe, and, for now, you have that priority covered, for water you going to put several bottles of water in your bag.

For shelter you gonna steal a few more jackets, or emergency blanket or trash bags.

For food you’re going to take energy bars from the vending machine, for communications you’re going to take cellphone with you (and hope there is still a signal/network), for medical you are going to „borrow“ the first aid kit from the hallway in your office building, and for defense you will take a couple of knives from the kitchen or simply smash some chair and take a chair leg as an improvised baton.

So all priorities are covered.

Yes it looks poor, but you covered sections with what you got. Improvising and adapting is key here…

Where To Go?

Bug Out or Bug In?

Simply go away from the trouble, that’s it.

We are talking here about city, so huge possibility is that you are going to go outside of the city. More people means more problems.

But first thing to keep in mind is not to run from the city, it is to escape the trouble (think in small circles-steps). Rory Miller says it nicely ‘Don’t run away from danger, run towards safety’.

If that means that you need to hunker down in office building, or in rolled over school bus or wherever in the middle of the city for two days in order to safely leave the city then you are going to do that.

First and immediate task is to stay out of (and avoid) trouble in your goal to leave the city.

Maybe you going to have to spend week hiding somewhere in city, waiting for right moment to leave it. You do not know.

Point is to avoid trouble and adapt your plans accordingly to that.

Rules

Best advice for you is anticipate that there are simply no rules, but some common things for every situations are there, so:

-Stick to your plan up until to the moment when it is more dangerous to follow the plan, then improvise, adapt and modify your plan. Be ready that your plan can fall apart right at the beginning (example: if you plan to leave the city through several pre planned points and streets, and there is danger on the way, you might choose to ‘bend’ your plan and use a longer way instead)

-Violence. Avoid violence, simply like that. Violence means chance to get yourself killed, or injured. Killed means your survival story is ended, and injured means much more trouble than in normal times, remember small cut can kill you in SHTF world.

-Violence, again. When there is no other way then to use violence you have to use it in a quick and effective way, without hesitation, without rules. You’ll think about what you did later, if you have to.

-Things are (probably, or might not be) not what they look like. Police might not be police, law is not law anymore, stealing is not stealing, honor is not honor. Survival changes things.

-Prioritize things. Systemic collapse, especially first period of it, means lot of chaos, that means lot of distractions in your planned action. Always have in your mind what is your priority in the given moment. Getting from point A to point B might look easy today, but when SHTF you may find events problems and obstacles on that way that can fill one lifetime of average peaceful citizen.

Do not find yourself pulled in situations, like say going to the destroyed pharmacy seemed like a good chance to refill your medical kit, but also its a good chance to meet couple of high junkies inside who will stab you. Choose wisely what „distraction“ you will take as a good ‘chance’.

Conclusion

As you can conclude, for non prepper advice would be develop some plan and act. Also that does not mean that plan is to run like an idiot and get yourself killed.

Sometimes what you need is just will to survive, and based on that you will adapt and build your plan.

Have you ever had to deal with a serious situation with no time to prepare for it? Please share your stories and ‘lessons learnt’ in the comments below.

Guest Article – Seven Elements of Self-Defense by Rory Miller

lucky-seven-1187052

 

Toby’s Note: While this article is written primarily as advice to Self Defense instructors, it should be noted serious students of Self Defense need to be studying and addressing all the points raised AND we highly recommend choosing their instructors in accordance with the advice given in this article.

 

There are seven things you must cover if you intend to teach self-defense. Failure in any of these areas will leave your student vulnerable.

 

1) Ethical and Legal Aspects of Force.

Self defense is a legal term, not a selection of physical skills. To teach physical self-defense without respect to self-defense law is as irresponsible as teaching someone to drive without teaching the rules of the road. Many of the systems we teach are either older than the legal concept of self-defense, derived from a military art without legal niceties, or invented by criminals.  As a rule, nice, peaceful, law-abiding people are crappy at designing functional combat systems. It is not hard to teach with respect to the law, most people’s instincts are fully in line with legal expectations. When one hears, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six” it is a sure sign of an instructor too lazy or too arrogant to do the research necessary to help the students avoid both of those options.

 

The law is the standard society will hold you to, but your internal ethics are the standards you will hold yourself to. There is always a moral dimension to any use of force and you will always be either the good guy or the bad guy in your own mind when the smoke has cleared.

 

That seems clear-cut, but it is not. Even the most necessary force often runs counter to the student’s social conditioning. Realistically, everything involved in self defense is breaking a law or, at minimum, a taboo. When you strike someone to defend yourself, even if the person is attacking you with a knife, you are committing the crime of assault (or battery, depending on how your local jurisdiction defines things.) Self-defense does not make the crime disappear, it makes it justified. Hitting someone is committing assault. Killing someone is intentional manslaughter. But even something as simple as setting boundaries is being rude to a stranger. Every last act that comprises self-defense are things most students have been taught never to do, or taught that bad people do them.

 

This social conditioning creates hesitation. It can get your students killed. One of your primary responsibilities as an instructor is to find your students glitches and work them out. It doesn’t matter how skilled a fighter you are if the small voice in the back of your head won’t let you act.

 

2) Violence Dynamics.

You must understand how crime and violence actually happen. Without this knowledge it is impossible to have a realistic and efficient defense. You will never meet a doctor who studied medicine and surgery but refused to study disease and injury. You will never meet a mechanic who practices with tools but has never looked at an engine. But it is endemic in martial arts and self-defense for instructors to have fifteen or more years of practice in “what to do if attacked by a bad guy” who have never spent a single day studying how bad guys attack. In any other field this would be considered literally insane and unforgivably negligent.

 

3) Avoidance, Escape and Evasion, De-escalation.

Your students must know it is okay NOT to fight and they must know how to NOT fight. It’s not enough to pay lip-service: “Always walk away if you can, but today we’re working on hitting people in the face…”  They must know it is the better (safer, more effective) thing to do. They must have the tools to avoid, escape or de-escalate violence, and they must practice those tools.

 

4) Counter assault.

Under the assumption that the students are smart enough to walk away from anything they see coming, it is axiomatic that they will be hit by something they didn’t expect. Or something they expected and were too arrogant to acknowledge. They need skills— simple, effective skills— trained to reflex speed to get past the sucker punch or ambush in one piece.

 

There are no perfect answers for counter-assault training, but there are some damn good ones. The technique itself must be efficient, have no decision tree (e.g. the technique is the same for right or left attacks, high or low, straight or circular, hand strikes or kicks, weapon or empty hand attacks), robust (meaning the technique still works even if done mostly wrong), and, ideally a “golden move” (prevents harm to you, injures the threat, betters your position, worsens the threat’s position or structure).

 

Proper operant conditioning can get the technique up to reflex speed.

 

5) Breaking the Freeze.

Well-trained and experienced operators still freeze, even if only to switch gears from patrol to combat mode. People freeze. It is natural. Some freeze in their minds, denying the attack is happening or trying to make a plan when there is no time for that. Some freeze chemically, getting such a dump of stress hormones that they are helpless. Many, especially in their first violent encounter, freeze because they do not know what will make things worse.

 

Your students need to understand that freezing exists, learn how to recognize when they are frozen and learn a method to break the freeze. It doesn’t matter how good they are at fighting if they stay frozen.

 

6) The Fight Itself.

Most training concentrates here and too many instructors believe that this is enough. But, obviously, you need to survive the sucker punch and break the freeze to even access this training. The good news, most things that are taught do work here.

 

The bad news, the circumstances under which those effective skills have to work will be completely different than what the student expects.

 

The student in the fight will not be the student that trained. In training, students are alert, sober, warmed up and stretched out, attentive and engaged, and not under the influence of adrenaline. Threats (bad guys) are not training partners. The threat is not trying to help you be a better person, does not care if you go to work tomorrow, and will be attacking you— fast, hard, up close and by surprise— not giving you predictable feeds to work on. And the fight happens in places with bad footing and lighting and improvised weapons and environmental hazards.

 

7) The Aftermath.

When the physical part of a self-defense situation is over, things are not over. There are potential legal, medical and psychological consequences as well as the possibility of retaliation. There is no consequence-free way to get involved in an intensely violent event, and the student unprepared to deal with the aftermath might bleed out, or say something that sends them to prison, or turn to drugs, alcohol or suicide. And that’s not a win.

 

Conclusion. All seven aspects are important, and they also affect each other. Working out your students’ ethics prevents freezes and also helps with the psychological aftermath. An event avoided has no injury, no paperwork and few internal issues. Students who have never heard “Everyone freezes” often interpret their own freezes as symptoms of cowardice and psychologically hammer themselves. Appropriate de-escalation or efficient hand-to-hand is impossible if one doesn’t recognize the dynamics of a particular act of violence. And a good counter-assault kicks in at the speed of nerve, giving you an edge before the stress hormones and freeze can even happen. All of these are important, and all work together.

To read more on these critical seven aspects you can read my book, Facing Violence

 

Post Disaster Violence

 

disaster

Today I travel back in my mind. I write a lot about my preparations and assessments since the time I got trapped in my city and views on the future, but I will just now, write some about ‘How It Was’ back in that time. Remember we were all thrown into that situation with no preparation, and found often our allies were our enemies from one day to the next…

Violence is something that people like to talk about, give theories and opinions, but at the same time few of us experience the real ‘deep’ face of violence, being trapped in a prolonged a deteriorating situation.

You may have experienced bar fights, or home invasions maybe, shooting somewhere and similar, and those events can be life changing situations for sure (or life taking) but I am talking here about violence so large scale and long lasting that it brings something like a ‘new way of living’, overwhelming violence that demands a complete change of mindset.

I often hear, and I often agree, that violence cannot solve anything, and that violence only brings more violence, but when you are faced with a man who wants to kill you, you are going to have to probably kill him in order to survive.

I hope that, in this moment, you will not care for philosophy, humanity or ethics, and that you just going do what you have to do, and survive. Later you will cope with other things, it is how things work.

As I get older I realize more and more that violence is wrong thing, but in the same time I also realize that I have to be more and more ready and capable to do violence when the time comes.

It is paradox maybe, but again it is how things works, I do not like that, but it is what it is.

 

 Violence and You

 

It is way too big topic even to try to explain it in one article, but some things I must try to show you here.

There is a man, let’s say we are talking about you here. An average citizen, a law abiding person, and suddenly you are going to be thrown into a (prolonged) situation where you are going be forced to watch and use exceptional levels of violence.

Do you think that you are going to be able to „operate“ in those conditions with the mindset you had from the time where you were average law abiding citizen?

No of course not, you will have to jump into the another mindset in order to survive.

Let’s call it survival mode.

In survival mode you’ll have to not to forget what it was like for you in ‘normal’ times, but you will have to push those memories aside, in order to operate in different mode – survival mode.

In real life situation that means for example that you ll maybe have to ignore panic, fear, smell, noises in the middle of an attack and do your steps in order to survive.

Maybe you’ll have to ignore the screaming dying kid next to you, maybe you’ll have to ignore your pride and run, or simply maybe you’ll have to ignore your „normal“ mindset and you going to have to kill the attacker from behind.

There is list of priorities in normal life, and there is list of priorities in survival mode.

Let just say that you using your different faces and „small“ mindset during your normal life and everyday business with different people around you.

Just like that, when faced with violence you’ll have to use different mindset, different face. Or another you.

 

Violence and Experience

 

There is a strange way of thinking here for me, but since I have live through the time when huge number of people did not die from old age, rather from violence, I have experience in this subject. So here are few thoughts.

Experiencing violence over a prolonged period of time does not make you superman, actually in some way make you crippled man, man with many problems, psychological and physical.

But if I put myself in way of thinking that I am in better position now then people who died next to me, or in front of me. You may call me a winner or survivor but many days that ‘title’ sounds very hollow.

Am I lucky man-yes, am I happy man – no.

But we are not talking in terms of quality of life, we are talking in terms of surviving or not.

Ethics, psychology and everything else here are matter for couple of books to be written, and even then you are not going say anything new, it is like that from beginning of the mankind.

What is more important about having experience in violence is that you simply KNOW how things are working there.

In lot of things you simply know what you can expect.

You know what chaos is, best way of dealing with it, you know what it takes to do things.

 

Preparing for Violence

 

Again nothing like real life experience, when you experience something like real violence you keep that in yourself for the rest of your life. What is best next to that? – other people’s real life experience.

So is it make sense to read about other folks real life experience? Of course, read a lot about that.

Training (physical) yourself is great thing. You’ll train to get yourself into the state that you are (physically) ready for hard tasks. So of course it makes sense to do that.

But training yourself mentally can be a hard thing.

You actually can only guess how it is going to be, how it is going to affect you.

I can tell you that it is hard, chaotic, I can describe you a situation, but can I bring you the feeling of terror in your gut when you feel that you are going to shit yourself? Can I give you smell of fear, smell of decaying body? Can I give you feeling when you realize that „they“ are coming for you?

No of course I cannot. You can read stories and real life experiences and based on that you are going to „build“ your possible mindset for violence situation.

You are going to build your „survival mindset“.

But there is a catch there. If you build it too firm, too strong, and then there is SHTF and everything that you imagined doesn’t fit the given situation or scenario and you are still pursuing and acting in the way that you imagine dealing with it you are going to have serious problems.

The situation will not adapt to your mindset; the situation will kill you if you are sticking too firm to your plan when it is not working.

You simply have to adapt.

It goes for many situation, if your plan and mindset says you are defending your home until you die, you are going to die probably.

Whenever I heard people saying „I’ll do that when SHTF „ or „I’ll do this when SHTF“ I feel sorry for them.

When SHTF you will adapt, and change your given plan accordingly to situation.

It is same with violence.

Violence is a tool that you going to use according to the situation. It is a tool, not a toy.

Now to finish with a final thought. It can sound, from what I have written, that a SHTF situation is like a Mad Max movie. Everyone running around killing, hurting, doing things with no consequences. In fact, this fantasy of a world ‘Without Rule of Law’ (WROL) is a big discussion in some circles.

For sure regular ‘law’ has gone. There are no ‘authorities’ or courts as we know them to deter or punish, BUT, during a SHTF situation you will find:

It is (especially in the beginning) like everything is possible, law is gone, you could go outside and see people looting stores, groups organizing (by street, or other facts like same job in company for example) trying to either defend part of the town, or bring more chaos just for fun, sometimes you could not say what, both could bring violence and death to you. Over time the ‘violence’ becomes more organized and ‘structured’ to start to achieve certain specific goals (although there is always ‘chaos’ as well).

After some time you look at violence you encounter in two ways. Violence happening outside your group, or inside your group (It is quite certain you will need to be in some sort of ‘group’ to stand any chance of surviving).

Outside your Group, you just wish to be very ‘small’, invisible after some time, not pay attention to anyone doing violence to others, because, quite simply you are still alive, and want to stay that way. In terms of “I am still alive, I do not care what they doing to that person, and how bad it is (your will and judging of good and bad is broken, you just care for your own life) it is like you care only for yourself while you are watching how others get killed, no matter that you feel that it is going to come to you in the end (violence) you just care for yourself.

Leaders of the “bad” group (gang) have best chances to stay leader if members fear him, so in fact he is most dangerous, vicious, sick bastard, nothing like a “reasonable” man. (Competition is huge in SHTF) Instilling discipline (through fear) and enforcing ‘your’ rules are paramount to holding your position as leader.

Various groups were interacting with the outside world and each other through fighting, exchange information, trading goods etc, but every group were more or less closed world, with trust only for those inside the group.

Forming of a group was quick mostly, because nobody expected this situation was going to happen, and so were not prepared, but very quickly were literally ‘fighting for survival’. Any problems were solved “on the way” (bad members, not skilled, not obeying etc.) Sometimes through discussion and agreement, but always with the threat of violence as an option.

To finish, and to educate, as opposed to shock you. Many folks cannot think to clear about the level of violence I am describing being involved in. Maybe you think SHTF is just like ‘Black Friday Shopping’ but every day. So let me just give examples of the how far the world I lived in descended from ‘normal’. Remember this was a regular city, in a nice country, in Europe, less than 25 years ago…

-People who never used violence before, doing some ‘hard’ violence: normal people, dads and mums, killing folks in order to save their families.

-Certain groups of people who looks like they are just waited for the SHTF so they can go out (“crawl out from beneath some rock”) so they can fulfill their own fantasies about being kings of the town, imprisoning people, raping women, torturing folks in the weirdest ways…

-Strange groups organizing in whatever the cause they choose name it, again only to gain power in order to have more resources (sometimes simply “gangs” of 50 people, sometimes whole militias of thousands people) through terror over other people or group of people.

-Irrational hate towards “other” (whoever “other” could (or might) be (other religion, group, street, town, nation) because it is very easy to manipulate groups of people through hate and fear (from and towards “others”), if someone manipulate you that your kid is hungry because “others”, he can do a lot with you.

Real life examples I saw:

-People being burned alive inside their homes (And people ‘enjoying’ watching this)

-Private prisons were made where you could go and torture other folks for fun, or simple rape women as a “reward”

-Kids over 13 or 14 years of age were simply “counted” as grown up people, and killed as enemy

-Humiliation of people on all different ways in order to break their will, for example forcing prisoners to have sex between same family (like father and daughter and similar)

-Violence was everyday thing, you could go outside and get shot not because you were ‘enemy’, but only because sniper on other side want to test his rifle.

It is a needed, but depressing realisation, that people, even regular folks can become so cruel, so fast, BUT it is an very important thing to be aware of for anyone truly involved in ‘preparedness’.

As always, its great to hear your comments and experiences on situations where you have had to deal with violence and what lessons you learned from this…

 

What To Do….?

fork

When SHTF, making the wrong decision can cost more than you will ever realize, so advice on what to do and what not to do should be sought out and heeded.

You see many articles like „Ten Things to do When SHTF“ or „ 5 most likely situations…“ or similar.

The truth is that these articles, while a great way to learn something (I’ve written posts like that too) are, very often, ‘over simplying’ situations or scenarios that most likely when SHTF are going to be dynamic and probably complex…

It is essential that you are ready to adapt because there are many variables about what to do (or not to do) when SHTF. So read these ‘lists’ but be careful of how ‘attached’ you get to them.

My main point here is this: there is only one thing worse than being without a plan (for/when SHTF). And that thing is having plan and sticking to that plan so heavily that you simply end up dead (because your plan is not working for that particular SHTF situation)

So what to do (or not to do) when SHTF? Lets look at ‘two sides’ of a couple of things:

Panic

One side:

Panic is a „plan killer“. Panic is a fearsome enemy. You may have a very good plan and preparations and end up dead, simply because you failed to understand how bad panic is going to affect you.

There is research that says that 74 % of people who, in a case of disaster and being forced to quickly leave their home would forget to take a lighter and something that could boil water in (in order to disinfect it)

We could say that research is for „non –preppers“, but be aware that in the case of panic and fear (and we ar all are going to experience some level of that for sure) you are going to make mistakes. Be ready to accept, adapt and overcome this.

The ‘Other’ side:

Fear of, or when in, danger is a powerful thing and you need to not deny it, rather go into a mindset like „s..t, of course I am afraid just like everybody else, let me use that fear and do something smart“

The good thing here is that most of the people around you are going to be in some kind of ‘panic’ (fear, confusion). Let’s work on the basis that you, as a prepper, are going to be in a lesser state of panic than these other folks.

So suddenly, panic and fear can become friends in some situations, use it in your favor.

For example while everybody else is in panic still figuring out what really happened, use the moment for a last run to the grocery shop for more food, or use it to simply to get away from the danger.

This short video offers some very powerful examples of how people react during a bad event.

 

There is also one important moment here to recognize, some researchers conclude that people actually panic much less than we imagine.

So they stated that in cases of some catastrophes (disasters in sports stadiums, factory disasters and similar) first reactions of a number of people is not to panic, rather to help other (injured) people.

I agree with this, but only to a certain level. If you find yourself in the street and see a building collapse suddenly, and hear screams from rubble, most peoples reaction who just saw the event is to go there and help injured people, but if you see (or hear) other buildings continue to collapse you’re going to panic, and other people are going to panic.

It is an example only, but in the case of a serious SHTF event, expect panic and simply use it in your favor, however you can.

Change the rules!

One side:

I’ll try to explain this „change the rules“ rules with one small, short but serious real life experience.

Just after the S. hit the fan here, a man went out to seek help. He saw a police officer, he ran towards the officer and cried for help (his wife was wounded at home) and the police officer just shot him in the head and robbed him.

End of story.

Story could be (and actually it is) longer, because I should go through the events leading to that, panic on street, no info. on what is going on and much blah blah blah.

But the point of the story here is that dead guy simply failed to change rules from the mentality of „their is a police officer“ to the „their is an armed dude in police uniform.“

When SHTF, rules are changing, all rules. Rules like“ police are going to help us, goverment is going to take care for us, there is help in hospital etc etc.

You simply do not know, rules are gone.

Other side:

Nobody said that you can not be a guy in a police uniform when SHTF. I am not saying that you have to put on a police uniform when SHTF and go out and shoot innocent people.

I am saying that you may use other peoples lack of knowledge and adaption to the new rules and for example wear EMT uniform in first day of chaos in order to go through some part of the city, or a police uniform, or act like a rescue worker or whatever you think makes sense in your particular situation and moment.

Switch yourself to the SHTF situation thinking in all ways and means.

ABCs  (Go Back to Basics)

It is again about big and small circles.

People tend to think too much (actually can be bad when SHTF initially) simply because there is no real information.

You need to look for the right information, of course, try to figure what is happening etc, but in the meantime, if you do not know what to do because you do not know what is going on, use that moment to go for your basics.

That means if suddenly something bad is happening (SHTF) and you do not know what to do, do something that is useful. Why don’t you use that moment and go to fill your bathtub with water for example?

Most probably you’re going to need it.

Or go through your equipment, or check your weapon?

Just go through the ‘basics’ if you do not know what to do when lacking real information.

We will be covering a lot of ‘decision making’ of this type during our excellent physical course in Croatia, which is happening in just a few weeks. It is a great training opportunity and one you should all consider. More details are here:

http://shtfschool.com/survival-course-croatia/

 Have you ever had to make decisions under pressure?  Please share your stories in the comments below…!

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’.