Friday, November 16, 2018

What's In Your Trunk?

     Yesterday's sleetstorm in Indianapolis -- which has turned into record snows in the northeastern U.S. -- prompted me to return my "winter kit" and "responder kit" to my car, along with the nice FEMA-type emergency-supplies knapsack I won at a recent industry conference.

     You should carry a few things in your car, no matter where you live.  Just what depends on what you encounter, but there are some basics.

     My basic winter kit or "crash bag" is similar to a bug-out bag.  It's a small canvas duffle or large gym bag, black, a bit beat-up. There's a change of clothes (two changes of undies and socks, plus extra heavy socks) and a nightgown, toothbrush and toothpaste plus grooming supplies, a pair of work gloves, a penknife, a few band-aids, some cough drops and a silly "survival kit in a tin" that takes up little room.  I used to keep a paperback book or two in it and I still should -- you can't always charge a Kindle or smartphone.

     The "responder kit" is related to my job.  In the wake of the devastating hurricanes that hit the East and Gulf Coasts, emergency management agencies and industry groups realized that the people who maintain radio and TV transmitters, wireless internet providers and cellular towers sometimes needed to get into areas that were otherwise off-limits due to natural disasters (etc.), so that these communication services could be kept running or restored to operation.  In my state, it resulted in a program that includes training in FEMA's "modular" emergency management system, itself a result of working to correct muddled chains of command and areas of responsibility in the aftermath of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina,* sessions with the State Police on how to interact with emergency personnel, a background check and an ID card.  We're obliged to wear basic safety gear if we use the card -- hard hat, high-visibility vest, gloves, boots -- and I keep that all in a bright orange bag in my trunk.  I keep a nice crowbar strapped to the outside: I got locked out of the North Campus one day; it didn't happen to be an emergency, but what if it had been?  Stanley sells the answer!  Also in that bag, surplus binoculars: sometimes you need to get a look at something far away.

     The FEMA-type kit...I'm still learning what's in it.  I need to lay it all out on my bed and take inventory.  (I ought to add written inventories to each bag, too.)  A lot of First Aid supplies, from bandaids to slings.  Heavy  gloves.  Latex or nitrile gloves. Hard hat (yes, another one).  Adjustable wrench and pry bar.  Flashlight.  Emergency radio covering AM/FM/Weather bands.  All packed to occupy minimum volume in a decent-quality nylon backpack (dark green and a bit nondescript.  This prize is from a presentation by a County-level Emergency Services manager, a very hands-on guy who's read some of the same books I have).

     That pretty much occupies the back half of my trunk.  I keep bathroom tissue (the North Campus doesn't get a lot of attention from Facilities) and bottled water in there, too, though the water supply is minimized in wintertime and I check it for freezing.

     There are things that aren't in the bags, because they live on my belt, in my purse or in my pockets -- a lighter, pocket knife, multi-tool, two-way radio (work and ham frequencies), sidearm, pencil and paper, phone/Kindle charger (a lighter-plug adapter), spare lipstick and a flashlight (prior to the FEMA kit, I didn't have one in a trunk bag -- I don't like long-term battery storage; you need to check them monthly for leakage and change them out twice a year) plus other small items.

     I have been snowed in at work a few times and on a couple of occasions, problems with remote-control equipment have effectively stranded me at an isolated location until I could get it working.  Having the basics always on hand can be a big help.  I had unloaded my old car after it was wrecked and hadn't put the bags in my new car until the bad weather yesterday reminded me.

     If you don't carry an emergency kit, ask yourself what you might need on short notice -- and why you don't have it already.
* It's easy to poke fun at FEMA but they're serious about their work and the midlevel people who do the heavy lifting (and their staffs) are actually good at it and were allowed to apply their planning skills after the hurricane response made headlines.  The modular management setup provides a flexible framework with clear areas of responsibility and reporting paths.  Properly applied even a little, it makes a big difference in getting help where it is needed and avoiding jurisdiction squabbles.  It is obviously the work of people who never want to have to deal with unsnarling another huge cluster of fail again.


Carteach said...

Each car has the usual small niceties. Flashlights, fire, knives, blanket, hats, gloves, charge packs, etc. The big first aid kit gets slung in whatever car I'm driving at that moment. My Change-of-everything bag for work, that needs to get transferred.

I need to rebuild that work bag. It needs freshening, and some additions. LED lantern, folding wood saw, folding shovel. The road flares need updating as well.

My tool bag also needs going over. It's more geared towards electrical at the moment, rather than breakdown repair.

Whee..... more chores.

RandyGC said...

Sounds a lot like my vehicle, except my start was my aircrew survival vest and military bug out gear (clothing, shelter and other stuff) that came in handy during SERE school from the Cold War era, updated/replaced as needed.

Primary "response" bag is my CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) kit with first aid and SAR supplies, as well as PPE. MA)

Add in spare ammo,holster and cleaning kit for primary CCW piece, and a spare amateur HT (to supplement the HF and VHF/UHF gear in the truck)with accessory kit (including AA battery cases, with batteries NOT stored inside).

Vehicle breakdown gear standard since I started driving (in a vehicle that gave me lots of practice in rigging stuff up to limp back home).

I always enjoy these kind of threads both to get ideas for my kit and as reminder to inventory/update it.

Lyford said...

Jumper cables, tow strap, flares, flashlight, good first aid kit(NOT the usual prepacked rubbish), high-viz coat are year-round. For winter add sleeping bag, hat, gloves, boots, shovel.

Drang said...

You know this post was going to bring out all the preppers and crypto-preppers, right? :-)

Those USB battery packs are handy for charging phones, Kindle, and certain flashlights, hold a pretty good charge, and hold it a long time. And are small enough to fit in an EDC type of bag you can take in the house -- mine holds my lunch, and comes in when I get home -- so the charger can recharge over the weekend or sit on your desk, if you have one. (Mine's shared...)

Nitrile gloves over latex, smaller pores, more durable, and less likely to cause allergic reactions. (They happen, but most who have problems with them are actually having problems with sweating in non-porous gloves, and should either go up a size or wear a liner glove.)

I have a couple of packets of lifeboat rations, and put them in the car bags.
And BTW, a couple of posts I made back in August that might be relevant:
I did not know that.
Oral Rehydration -- a PSA

A nit to pick: The Incident Command System actually originated with CalFire, when multiple jurisdictions showed up to a wildfire and had to spend an inordinate amount of time un-screwing incompatible communications systems and un-common terminology. And FEMA saw it and it was good.

Roberta X said...

Whoever originated it, FEMA is certainly spreading the gospel. It's a good system and CalFire is to be commended.

Ken and Deb said...

If you get stuck out someplace it would be good to have something to nibble on. Walmart sells MRE type sandwiches made by Bradford. I keep barbecue and a brown sugar cinnamon breakfast type. Couple of each. Change them out yearly. I am not a fan of the lifeboat type rations. Taste is not too bad, just the texture. But for long term hot or cold they last a long time.

RandyGC said...

Speaking of traveling in winter weather, are you going to be at Ft Wayne tomorrow?

John in Philly said...

And an Esbit folding stove with extra fuel tablets.
As Carteach said, time to go over the emergency gear in the cars.
Very good post.

waepnedmann said...

+1 for D.W. Drang
I just started transitioning from summer to winter gear.
Last week I did a "junk on the bunk" with the small packs (Maxpidetion Jumbo Gearslingers)
This week I will do that with the plastic tub I keep the every day driving stuff (tools, flares, jumper cables, burner phone w/ prepaid card, blankets, maps, etc.)
I keep a change of clothes, including a hoodie, rolled up around a pair of Converse high-tops and cinched down with a belt. The roll fits nicely in a five-gallon bucket with a screw on lid. There is room for a gloves, wool socks, a watch cap, a baseball cap, and a windbreaker/raincoat on top of the roll in the bucket.
The bucket has many uses from hauling stuff to a field expedient stool or even an emergency toilet.
The bucket fits, with room to spare, into a G.I. Surplus duffle bag with shoulder straps if I need to move any distance.
I keep a bag with cleanup supplies: a roll of paper towels, disinfectant wipes, alcohol based hand-sanitizer, T.P., plastic bags for waste disposal, bar soap, two washcloths and two towels.
An ice chest (reduces the occurrence of freezing) with bail-type carry handle that holds sixteen 1/2 liter bottles of water.
I try to keep things modular, so that if I have to load or unload it is not complicated.
First aid kits need checked and updated.
For winter I have a new woobie on the way. :-)
BTW: I feel like part of a tribe amongst you folk.
I know only one other person that has any type of kit in their vehicle to get them through an unexpected situation.

FrankC said...

All you folks with first aid kits of whatever kind KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.

Roberta X said...

RandyGC: nope, Ft. Wayne is a no-go. Just too far to drive and we have guests in town.

RandyGC said...

I understand. If this hadn't become a tradition to get out of town with wife and friends, we probably woulnd't be doing it either.

Lots of the usual stuff. I accomplished my primary mission to meet up and chat with folks I don't get to see except at Ft Wayne and Dayton. Turns out the ARRL Section manager and I worked for the same guy in the radio business at different stations back in the 70s.

Best deal of the day was I scored 3 Peltor 6s electronic headsets for $20.00. Claim is they were from a shooting range that upgraded. Now to put fresh batteries in and see if they work.

Maybe sometime later.