Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tsunami: Epic Bug-out Fail Pt 1

I'm going split this into two posts.  This one, the first, is kind of a lessons learned post.  The next will be more of an overall bug-out experience.

Alright, this post is going to be a bit more wordy than usual.

Last Saturday night, I was watching a movie and noticed this strange sound.  I muted the TV and the sound was still there, almost sounded like one of those old air raid sirens.  So I pulled out the laptop and checked the local news.  Turns out Hawaii was under a tsunami warning.

I went back to watching the movie.  The last three times we had a warning you could have stood in the surf and not noticed the 'tsunami' when it arrived.

Then I thought about it a little more and decided to "bug out" to high ground for two reasons; 1) it would be a good practice run, and 2) I can just see my obituary "Newbie Prepper Dies, Surrounded By His Supplies, Because He Stayed In The Tsunami Zone".  With that irony I'd never be able to rest in peace.

Lets just say that this was an eye opening experience for me.  Here is a list of the many thoughts, lessons, and issues that I came up with during my two hours "bugging out" in my car.

  • I need to have a radio on or something as an early warning system.  If they hadn't rung the air siren I wouldn't have known we were in a 'Tsunami warning'.
  • I need to keep my bags bug-out ready.  I thought they were until I actually went to bug out, that's when I went through a mental checklist of my BOB and started coming up short.   I have all of the essential items for my BOB but I'm constantly putting in new things, taking out others, repacking it... and then when I needed my bag I had to run around my apartment piecing it all back together.  Things I realized were missing: food, water, an emergency radio (waiting on dehydrated meals, canteens, and radio from Amazon), ax, sheath knife, and a tarp.
  • There were a bunch of things in the BOB that I didn't need: a stove without fuel, empty water bottles, and bedding (I could just sleep in my car)
  • In this situation, a BOB was kind of over kill.  I already have a GHB in the car, which already has most of the essentials, adding the BOB meant I had three or four of everything I might need.  I'm now thinking that I might need to put together some kind of 'intermediate' bag, something for short-term natural disaster preparation.  It could be a small bag with extra clothes, water, and food.  Kind of an add-on to the GHB.
  • BOB accessibility is an issue.  I have too many smaller bags inside my BOB, makes finding an individual item a pain in the butt.  I'll need to figure out a better way of organizing it.
  • I realized during this 'emergency' that there were a lot of things that I should have been keeping in my car all along.  I mean, I've got a GHB but I don't have a general vehicle emergency kit?  Flares, tools, jumper cables, a spare set of clothes, a good jacket, Fix-A-Flat, spare vehicle fluids, a couple gallons of water, hatchet, folding shovel... there are a lot of practical things that I should have been kept in my trunk.
  • I was lucky that my car was gassed up.  At the first whiff of an emergency the gas stations were packed.  I'm not very good about keeping it full, it was purely luck that I filled the tank the day before.  I need to be better about that in the future.
  • My cellphone, kindle, and laptop were all at half a battery.  At the very least, I need to get a car charger for my phone to keep it going in an emergency.
  • I need to eat food more regularly.  I'm sure that sounds odd, but I usually only eat two big meals a day.  When I heard the siren I had just been trying to figure out what to do for dinner.  So, I need to eat more often during the day.  It's always better to start an emergency with a full belly.
  • I had about $20 in my wallet.  I don't usually keep much cash on hand (I spend it), I need to pull out some cash and either keep it in my car or in my GHB/BOB for emergencies.
  • A motorcycle might be a good idea for an urban Bug Out Vehicle.  I saw a lot of people on motorcycles and the flexibility of a motorcycle over a car or truck.  In a real emergency they could get through stopped traffic and park pretty much anywhere.  It would limit the amount of gear, I can fit a lot in my car, but it would be really nice to have that flexibility if I need it.  Food for thought.
  • My BOB is pretty big.  That didn't seem like an issue when it was sitting in the corner, but walking around my apartment building?  I got a lot of funny looks, it was the opposite of subtle.  Looking like an idiot on the average day isn't that big of a deal, standing out during an emergency could be.  Nothing screams "I have lots of supplies" like an over flowing back pack. 

This was a pretty good example of how planning will only get you so far, you need to actually practice.  You can only plan for so much, reality always throws us curve balls.  I packed my BOB for any Bug out situation, for this mini-disaster scenario a lot of that stuff wasn't really needed.  Especially considering that I already had half of the stuff in the Get Home Bag.  

Overall, my biggest frustration was that I wasn't set up to step-up or step-down my bug out, it was either take too little or too much.  I definitely need to figure out how to add more flexibility to my bug out supplies, that way I can adjust to the situation quicker and easier.

I'm really glad that I decided to run this little practice bug out instead of going back to watching TV.  One of the last things I grabbed was a note book and some pens.  I took notes through pretty much every step of this bug out and I ended up with over two pages of issues, problems, ideas, and things to think about.

Laugh at my slapstick bug out all you like, I hope my embarrassing mistakes can help some others in their own disaster preparations.

Stay tuned for a follow up post about some more Tsunami adventures and thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. That was indeed an eye-opening event. Disasters like tsunami and natural catastrophes cannot be predicted. The best we can do is to prepare and make a strategic plan to increase our chances of survival. Being prepared is the way to go to lessen the damage of any unfortunate events. [Kisha Kitchens]