Preparedness On The Fly: Gear

If the site is slow, or you had a hard time getting here, my apologies. Right now, my traffic is bouncing between normal small/mid-size blog levels and large blog levels. We think we have things steady for now, but it looks like we may need to add resources, which costs money. I may also need to hire someone to check and redo some of the code. Since things are beyond tight, and bills are due, it may be a while before I can upgrade further. Meantime, to help with that, or to help me pick up a few preparedness items myself, please hit the fundraiser! My thanks to all who have or will pitch in! And, yes, if I could move tomorrow I would.

As Alton Brown is with things in the kitchen, I try to avoid gear that can only be used for one thing. If you’ve read the other articles in this series, or any of my other writings on preparedness (start here and work forward), it is a song you will hear over and over again. For practical preparedness, I want things that will enrich as many areas of my life as possible.

But, many of you reading this series are new to preparedness, and rightly worried we could find ourselves in a nuclear war. I hope that sanity prevails, but I’m not prepared to bank on it. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

As I noted at the start, there is no one perfect master list of what you need. Circumstances vary. Finances vary. Local options vary. The posts give you an idea of what you should consider for each category, but what you need to get for each is up to you.

And so we come to my least-favorite topic: gear. There are people out there who are going to cheerfully tell you that you have to have this, that, or the other thing including that combo shelter, decon shower, and sauna that they just happen to sell. Reminder, if I mention it I do not sell it and I make no money off of it. Getting an honest opinion based off experience.

For preparing for a possible war, let’s start with some general gear that can have other uses. Maybe. First up, rolls of medium to thick plastic, and good tape. Large tarps also come in handy. Back when I owned a house, each room had a container with plastic, blue tarp, tape, nails, tacks, hammer, box cutter, chem-lights, and few other things tucked away in it. Why? Because if a storm or accident took out a window or windows, the last thing I wanted to be doing was trying to remember where things were, retrieve them, and then start trying to get the weather back outside. Everything needed for that, inside or out, was in the container.

In a fallout situation, you want to pick out an interior room and line it in plastic. Fallout isn’t an evil creature determined to break in and kill you. It is floating and falling out of the air. You want to use the plastic (or sheets, blankets, etc.) to encourage any that makes it into where you are to fall away from you. The more weather tight your home, the better. Bit late right now, but I’ve been pointing that out for a few decades now.

Provided your home isn’t damaged, and you have worked on making it energy efficient/weather tight, congratulations! That’s going to be a huge help. If your home is damaged, you need plastic, tarps, and other delights to seal it back up as best you can. Inside and out. Even if you are near a detonation, you have minutes to hours (depending on distance, wind, and other factors) to make repairs and take other steps. Use that time wisely.

If you don’t already have some basic hand tools (not power) such as hammers, saws, axe, mattock, pry bars, etc., get them. You may need them to get out of your home, work, or wherever you are when it goes off. You may need them to clear and make repairs. You may need them to rebuild. Good hand tools are an investment.

Now, back to gear. In this case, I would recommend a geiger counter, dosimeters, and either a gas mask or a full-face respirator. If things are bad, it helps if you can check the radiation levels around you, and monitor total exposure to you and others. Also, while you can spend a lot of money on either, the geiger counters and dosimeters that don’t do all the fancy downloads and online stuff work just as well. You are talking well under $100 for a box of dosimeter badges, and $100-$200 for a geiger counter, some of which even claim to be EMP resistant.

Now, remember that fallout isn’t an evil creature, it’s just something that will fall out of the air. Until it does, you not only want to keep it off you, you very much want to keep it out of you. Protect your mouth, nose, and eyes. There are disagreements over whether a full-face respirator or a gas mask is best. At this point, however, you are probably going to have an easier (and cheaper) time finding a decent respirator at the home supply or industrial safety store. Get spare filters.

Money tight? See if anyone is still giving away N-95 masks. That and some safety glasses or goggles (military, sport, whatever) are better than nothing. In a real pinch, keep in mind that 2-4 layers of t-shirt actually does surprisingly well in an emergency. That clear plastic you got? Tape some of it to a hat so that it hangs down a foot or so all around your head. Walk carefully so as not to kick up dust. You can also use it to improvise a poncho for going outside. Make that your outer layer, so that you can wash it and get most of the fallout off of you if you have to go outside. Remember that simply by taking off the outer layer, the experts say you can be removing 90 percent or more of any fallout that fell on you.

Another bit of gear is an emergency ventilation system. It can be a pipe with good filter, it can be something store bought and fancy, it’s up to you. But, in that secure space in the interior of your house, it’s good to have a way to bring in filtered air. I always admired Robert Heinlein’s house in Colorado, where the stair rail was a pipe with holes drilled into the bottom, which fed down to the filter and crank. Since fallout falls, having the holes on the bottom helped reduce the amount that the filter would need to deal with. There are a number of plans and products out there you can go with, just remember that if making your own or improvising on the fly it helps to have the materials ahead of time.

Oh, before I forget, one other bit of gear that if you don’t already have you need to get: a “standard” first aid kit and a trauma kit. If you need them, you are really going to need them.

Now, it’s not gear but seems to fit here as it will help you determine what you need: where are you? Are you in or near a target? Are you downwind of a target? A lot of preparation depends on the answers. There are some maps out there that can show you possible fallout patterns for the U.S. They are not guaranteed (hence having the geiger counter and dosimeters no matter what is smart) but can give you a good idea.

Clear area? Not going to have to worry as much. Under a red plume? You need to be prepared to hunker down for about three weeks according to Uncle Sugar. You are going to need more extensive prep and even materials that can block at least alpha and beta particles. Also, if you live in or near a target, remember that an air burst will be pretty much a zero-fallout event (just the neutron and then general radiation pulse from a radiation standpoint, nothing long term). Ground burst is going to kick up lots of fallout. Bunker busters/penetration bombs are nasty, but since a good bit of the explosion is underground the nasty fallout is mostly local. Yes, some over-simplifications there but accurate if not precise.

There is other gear we could talk, and I’m sure someone somewhere is going to complain about my not talking about/recommending MOPP gear, silver suits, and the like. Yes, if some of that gear showed up here, not going to object. I also think it expensive and might be hard to get on short notice. Also, MOPP gear really requires training (not so much a silversuit) to use effectively. Other than the geiger counter and dosimeters, really trying to keep this to things you can get local, hopefully easy, and not too expensive.

Now, there is one special type of gear that we will talk about later under the heading of protection. Not talking against fallout either. Yes, that is coming, perhaps even tomorrow.


Preparedness On The Fly (Food)

Preparedness On The Fly: Water

Preparedness On The Fly: Light

Preparedness On The Fly: Cooking


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.