Got an e-mail from the California Rifle and Pistol Association with this in the subject line.

But I’ve seen it several places lately so I can’t give them all the credit.  It’s a good premise to expound upon and another word of caution regarding media bias.

74743_BLOGJPG_20130123182248544We love our first-responders.  We have elevated their status to where we now frequently lump them in with our military forces.  But there is a big difference between a soldier and a paramedic.  You and I can’t do what the military does.  The military has a specific duty outlined in our Constitution.  When you join the military you cease to be a civilian and vice-versa.  Not true of the people we call first-responders.  You certainly can’t do everything a paramedic, policeman, or firefighter can.  But there are some things you CAN do during those minutes while you are waiting for them to arrive.

Everyone needs a hobby.  I submit to you that at least one of our hobbies should be something that can assist or protect us in an emergency.  Rather than dwell on all of the bad things that might happen to you, remove some of those fears by preparing your mind to deal with them.  I had a conversation a while back on Twitter with a woman who flies a lot.  She was worried about the weather or something related to an upcoming flight.  I went through a checklist of basic things every airline passenger should know when flying.

Simple stuff like wearing natural fibers and counting the number of headrests between you and an exit.  She thought I was crazy.  All I did was read a little.  The things I told her were things every frequent traveler should know.  Why people avoid talking about unpleasant situations like that I do not know.  Bad things happen.  It’s not a question of if.  It’s a question of when.  Now I’m not suggesting you go full-on doomsday-prepper.  But there are relatively simple and inexpensive things you can do to make YOU a first responder instead of a first casualty.

Here’s some simple stuff you should carry with you always:

  1. Leatherman2Some kind of knife –  I prefer a small Leatherman-type multi-tool.  But carry whatever you like.  It should be big enough to cut open packages, seat belts, and beer bottles (that last one may be less important to some of you).  A blade longer than the width of your hand might get you in trouble.  Use that as a guide.
  2. A reliable flashlight – I’m not talking about a giant D-cell Maglite.  My everyday flashlight is about the size of my middle finger and is brighter than any of those old dinosaurs.  Modern flashlights use very bright LED’s and run in multiple modes (high-beam, low-beam, strobe, SOS, beacon).  Get one that uses common batteries like AA and AAA.  The light should have a tailcap switch so you can grasp the light with your entire hand and still use it.
  3. stabby-mcfountainpen2A stabbing weapon – Especially important for you ladies out there.  A friend told me about the UZI Tactical Pen a few months back and I’ve since purchased two of them.  Handy writing instrument by day.  Eye gouger by night.  One of them even doubles as a glass breaker.  Handy if you live near a lot of water.  Some of you are old-school and like the keychain Kubotons.  Fine.  Whatever works for you.

In my car, I have one of those flexible bucket doo-hickeys. In it I have assembled an assortment of stuff that might be useful in an emergency.  Let’s see what we’ve got in there:

  • Gloves – In case I need to change a tire on the way to a fancy dinner and I don’t want to show up with filthy hands. Also, knee pads.
  • Plastic shopping bags – To hold stuff.  To catch puke.  To suffocate an annoying passenger.  Thousands of uses.
  • Paracord – To tie up unruly passengers or tie down stuff on your roof.  Bungee cords work also.
  • Jumper cables – Duh!
  • duct-tapeDuct Tape – or if you prefer, Duck Tape.  When applied to a child’s mouth, instant silence.  Also for emergency hair removal.
  • Small fold-up shovel – I know what you’re thinking.  Shallow graves.  NO.  For digging out of snow or dirt.  Better than using your hands.
  • Safety glasses – In case you have to open the hood when there’s stuff spewing out of it.  Or maybe your child is the one spewing.
  • Multi-tools – There’s one with sockets and one with screwdriver bits.  Carry both. They don’t take up much space.
  • 10-15 foot extension cord – Grab when everyone at Starbucks is hogging the one outlet and you need to charge your laptop.
  • Medical kit – These are sold everywhere in every possible size.  Get what you can afford and carry without taking up too much space.  Mine is the size of a child’s lunchbox and can treat anything from a splinter to a bullet wound.  Replace the perishables inside every few years.
  • Emergency kit – This is your stranded-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/bug-out bag.  Do you live in flood, wildfire, or earthquake country?  Then you need one of these.  I bought mine pre-packaged on Amazon and augmented it with a few things.  It has four days of food and water, a medkit, glowlights, thermal blankets, and a bivy sack.  The entire thing is no bigger than a five-year-old’s backpack.

The subtle message implied by our media is that emergencies can not be handled properly until first-responders arrive on the scene.  This of course is ridiculous.  Unfortunately, because of our litigious society, you must prepare yourself for the legal ramifications should you inject yourself into any emergency situation not involving you or your loved ones.  But you can take charge of you and your family and determine to be as little a burden as possible when stuff hits the proverbial fan.  Don’t be that guy or girl on the evening news with the 1,000 yard stare and no clue where he or she is gonna get their next meal.  We’re Americans and we’re better than that.

We have a comments section here so you can tell me what I missed.

P.S. Since I write a lot of gun-related articles on this site you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned firearms as part of your emergency kit.  Naturally I assumed you already had that part taken care of.  Let’s save that for another time.