Prep Monday—What to Keep in Your Vehicle

All of our vehicles have an emergency bag behind the seat or under the floor. And I’m not talking about salt or litter for winter, or flares, or the typical things people consider an “emergency car kit.” This is not for your vehicle, but for you.

Think about the important things you’d need for survival: water, food, shelter. Of course, just like a car kit, this is dependent on weather, so you’d probably want to seasonally change things up.

Next, think about where you could be stranded and where you have to go—how far is it? What are the conditions between here and there? Would you normally be alone or with your family or group? How many?

Because there are two of us and we usually aren’t more than a few hours’ driving distance away, under normal conditions, I keep four bottles of water in each vehicle. That’s half a gallon, which is only enough, under emergency conditions, for one person for half a day—that includes washing and cooking, neither of which you’re probably going to be doing if you’re focused on getting home.

The biggest consideration, of course, is how long it will take you do that.

With a three-hour drive on country roads, we’d probably still have a three-hour drive. If you’re in the city and trying to get to those country roads, you might have to add a lot of time to that commute. Even if you’re just going to the ‘burbs, it could take close to a day—particularly if you’re reduced to walking.

A three-hour drive, walking, could take two days or more, which is why our kits also contain water purifying tablets. Much easier and lighter to transport than water itself, and in the country, you’re much more likely to find water sources. If you live in an urban area, I’d recommend two gallons per person.

We keep granola bars, dried fruit, and beef jerky, hiking staples, in our vehicles. You’re going to need energy, and the convenience stores and gas stations and fast food joints are likely to be shut down or looted during a SHTF event. Or be in the process of being looted, which is a whole other issue.

You won’t be full, you won’t have an actual meal, but you’ll be able to keep going.

Right now, you’re probably picturing a nice, sunny day, about 70 degrees or so. Think about that heatwave the last couple weeks—could you keep going when temps are close to 100? No, and you shouldn’t try. That extends your travel time, and especially your water intake. You could travel at night, which means you should also keep a flashlight and batteries in the car, and check/test/replace as needed, as well as matches.

You could also keep a sun hat (or rain hat) and a couple bandanas in your bag. Bandanas can cool you off, bind a wound, keep smoke or gasses or smells away, and filter water, among other uses.

We have two reflective blankets in each vehicle, because, on the other side of the coin, it could be 20 degrees. Plus, you can make a dandy shelter, fairly warm. Bandanas again: they’ll help warm the air you breathe and keep frostbite off your face. We also, at all times, keep various gloves in our vehicles; work gloves, winter gloves, they can all be used regardless of season.

We also have knives in our bags. Get one, learn how to use it, keep it sharp. Its uses are endless, and not only potentially for defense: cutting branches for a shelter or fire, making a splint in case of injury, cutting cloth, opening packages or cans, and so on.

You don’t have to Tetris a ton of things into your car, but you do have to have the basics, just in case. Just in case of what? A blizzard, a heat wave, mechanical failure, an EMP, SHTF, even a major road blockage from an accident. Remember, though, that you may have to pack out whatever you can carry, so make sure you pack smart and light—and make sure you’re in good enough shape to carry what you need.




Fan Friday—Rich vs. Poor

I was reading a discussion the other day about healthcare, and how Sanders’ plan relies on a $15 per hour minimum wage. Now, I haven’t really been involved in a political discussions, although if you can’t tell, I’m a conservative. Always have been. To me, that means we don’t adjust the budget after the money is spent, but use a budget as a limit for those dollars, and government should butt the hell out of probably 75% of the things it’s involved in.

Once upon a time, I was a single mom and worked fulltime as a waitress. Someone could have made a sitcom of my life; or maybe a docudrama. Yeah, probably that. Anyway, I had no health insurance; my kids were covered under Medicaid except for counseling and dental.

I always thought that was dumb, because if parents can’t work due to illness or injury, the kids will be in even worse shape and welfare will only increase. I still think it’s dumb.

As I said, I worked fulltime; as the only parent, I didn’t feel as though I could work 60 or 80 hours a week, although I did that before I had kids. And I still think that the vast majority of adults can do that, particularly those in two-parent households and those with no children at home. But I also made sacrifices.

Adults need to make choices. Yes, the cost of living has risen since those days, some 25 years ago, but it seems that today people want things right away—the nice home, the nice car, vacations, clothes, etc. And they’ll pay for those, but then claim they can’t afford necessities.

This is the problem.

If you work at minimum wage for 40 hours a week, you earn $15K. If you work 50 hours, you earn almost $19K. If you work 60 hours, you earn nearly $23K.

So if you use the standard one-third of income for housing in my former situation, you’d pay about $400 a month for rent. Doable in many markets, but not all; some of those expensive cities have higher wages, some don’t. Sometime you can move, sometimes you’re stuck. I get all that. I’m looking at generalities, not exceptions.

I had just moved from an apartment to a rental house and I was paying $650 in rent, or about half my income. That was my choice. I was able to pay bills and feed us.

But I didn’t go shopping or take vacations and no, I didn’t have health insurance because I didn’t NEED it—I had one, maybe two doc appointments a year. Was I just lucky? Maybe. I was also pretty tough, and by that I mean I didn’t whine about being sick or run to the ER for everything little thing. I used that scarce commodity, common sense. Same with the kids.

Of course I realize everyone’s different, and this was several decades ago. Even then, I thought the government should stay out of a lot of things. Insurance is one of them.

Insurance is to “insure” you against catastrophe, whether medical or property. It wasn’t meant to cover exorbitant costs associated with either, or even small costs like $100 for a doc visit. And by the way, the reason for that $100 doc visit is because of the costs of medical school (college), malpractice insurance—yet another kind—and overhead, mostly for all those people in the office to process the insurance payments.

Insurance companies are, IMHO, the single biggest money suck of all time.

If I were running for president, THAT would be my platform: ditch them all.

I have no idea how to implement this regarding healthcare—we’d probably be better off if actual presidential candidates admitted that, and other things, as well—but I do know that costs have little to do with skill, knowledge, experience, and amount of time spent on appointments and surgeries.

Think about it—without an office staff of twenty, or ten, or whatever, how much of that actual $100 for the appointment could be reduced to say, $25? I used to go to a clinic that charged that. They provided any information for the patient to file an insurance claim, if they wanted to and had insurance, but otherwise you came in, saw the doc, got a scrip if you needed it, and paid $25.

And no, he wasn’t a quack. He was a retired med school professor.

Charge everyone with a driver license maybe $25 a month in case of accident. With 214 million licensed drivers in the US, that comes to $5,350,000,000. Surely enough to cover any accidents.

I haven’t had an at-fault accident in a very long time, and honestly, I don’t remember the procedure. But, in spite of the law, the government mandate, the guy who hit my car while it was PARKED IN MY DRIVEWAY had no insurance; he didn’t even have a license. Guess who got screwed?

Even though I’ve always paid car insurance, for the last thirty-some years.

Homeowners insurance? Well, that’s a little trickier. But in spite of having that, guess who got screwed when a creek rose and the sewer company responsible for it refused to pay? Yep. Me again.

Put limits on claims. Eliminate civil claims that get tagged on to insurance payments. Nothing gripes me more—okay, that’s not exactly true—than those lawyers on TV, the ambulance chasers, who say GET WHAT YOU DESERVE when you’re involved in a car accident.

Sometimes, an accident is just that.

What it boils down to is that no one NEEDS insurance—it’s there to cover your butt just in case. And even so, with health insurance, so much is still your responsibility that people with coverage still end up filing bankruptcy or paying off bills forever.

People need healthCARE. Most need to drive. Most will need a little help if a tree falls on their house.

But someone is getting all that money we’re paying in, and it isn’t us. Someone is getting money from the cost of groceries, and it isn’t us and it isn’t the farmers. Someone is getting money for medical care and it isn’t doctors and staff.

And I doubt we’ll ever know who that is.