Category Archives: Transportation

Coastal Survival

If you live near the coast, you’re in a unique position allowing you to utilize resources from both land and sea. Since there have been and will be many land survival articles, I will focus on the sea aspect in this one.

We’ll start with water. Of course you can’t drink seawater,dis_process until you take the salt out. So how do you take the salt out? There are 3 principle types of desalinization, electrical, thermal, and pressure. Electrical desalinization is a process utilizing an electrical field to remove the salt. It’s technical and papers have been written by universities about it. Due to its complexity it’s really not a helpful process for the average person. Pressure desalinization is the act of using centrifugal force to pull the salt out of the water. Thermal desalinization is the oldest and most natural form of removing salt from seawater.desalinazation So natural, that it occurs by the sun everyday around the world. The water vapor forms clouds and then is released back to earth as rain. We can simply replicate this process a couple different ways. Either using a heat source and distilling the water, or utilizing the suns radiation in a solar still to evaporate the water.

Shelter on the ocean is a serious problem. If you’re in the ocean, you have two serious concerns hypothermia and shark attack. Hypothermia is when the bodies core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. hypothermiaDue to water being an excellent conductor of heat, it can pull the heat out of a body, and since we lose like 80% of our body heat through our head and neck, keep them out of the water. Also don’t shed clothes, they will act as a barrier and your body will heat the water between your skin and your clothes acting as an insulation layer between you and the outside water. On a long enough timeline everyone’s survival rate drops to zero. If the water temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit the danger for shark attack is elevated. The lower the water temperature, the greater the risk of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure, when exposed to cold water the Coast Guard’s 1-10-1 rule applies. The first stage in cold water exposure is Cold Water Shock, you have one minute to control your panic. Studies show that 20 percent of people exposed to cold water die in the first minute; they panic when they are first immersed, breathe in cold water and drowned. The next phase is Cold Water Incapacitation, over approximately 10 minutes you will lose effective control of your body, fingers, hands, legs and arms. You need to deal with self rescue during this brief phase because your ability to swim will become greatly reduced as time passes, if you aren’t  wearing a life jacket at this point and are unable to get out of the water, the odds are pretty good you’re going to drown. The last phase is Hypothermia, you have approximately 1 hour, depending on water temperature, and physical condition until your body shuts down, you lose consciousness and die.fishTrap

Another thing the ocean has in abundance is food; in the form of fish, shellfish and water fowl. Since this isn’t a hunting or fishing article, I won’t get in depth into gathering food but will touch on a few gathering techniques. You can of course always fish with a hook, line and pole. But there are several ways to harvest fish without a line and hook. There are several different types of commercial fish trap available for purchase, but you can also make one from sticks and twine, or using sticks in the sand you can make a tidal fish trap.fishspear16 Making a fishing spear is also an option, it’s a little more complicated than just sharpening a stick, but still not very technical.

When you live near the ocean, like coastal dwelling people throughout history, you must master the sea and to do so you’re going to need a boat. I’m going to talk about boat building next week, but will talk this week a little about some aspects of their use.

When you’re standing on the beach and looking out to sea, due to the curvature of the earth, the horizon is only 8 miles away. You can see larger objects such as cruise ships or aircraft carriers out to 10-12 miles depending on their height but a small motor boat or row boat, you would be lucky to see at 8 miles. If you were sitting in a canoe or kayak out in the water your horizon would be down to perhaps 5-6 miles. This comes into play when we start talking about navigation.N-chart_11451-9

Whether you’re navigating on land or on sea, before you can plan where you’re going; first you must know where you are. To know where you are, you need a map or chart, a compass, and a straight edge. There are a few different grades of certainty that I want to talk about. If you look on your map and find a tower, an antenna, or even a notable landmark or pier that you can see from your location; take a bearing to the object and lay it out on your map with your straight edge, what you have now is a line of bearing. Find another object that is like 50-60 degrees off from the last, and lay it out on your map, you now have an estimated position. Repeating the process and at the point where the 3 lines meet is a fix, for most of what we’re doing here an estimated position will work for what we need, if you’re navigating a deep draft ship in close proximity to shoal water, knowing your exact location is crucial, however if you’re in a row boat, and you know where you are within 100 or 200 yards, you will be fine because from there you can visually navigate to where you want to go.


The Old World Revisited


I read a popular blog post last week that posed the question, “Is living within 100 miles of a city of 1 million people safe after an SHTF event?” After posting my opinion. We had my son and his family at our house for the Christmas holiday and I started thinking about family separation in an SHTF event… I live northwest of Fort Worth and my son lives southeast of Dallas, in other words my concern is that I have over 7 million people separating us! I also have 2 daughters and grandchildren in Southern California, a grandson in Washington and a son in Utah. In an event such as a nuclear or EMP attack, travel of thousands of miles would be difficult and deadly, but even hundreds of miles with certain obstacles may as well be thousands!


To start with, in an EMP/nuclear attack all distance communication would be wiped out. Any vehicle with electronic ignition and fuel injection would be absolutely useless. Any vehicles that still work would be subject to confiscation by governmental officials under martial law or by outlaws. Horses or other pack animals would be desired not just for their use to ride but as meat for starving people, since hunting/trapping has become a lost art to the common city dwelling modern human. Even with a car, how far could a person get? 5 or 600 miles then what? What happens when the gas runs out? What happens to families like mine that are scattered around the country, to kids that are off at college, dads that are truck drivers or moms that are flight attendants or on a business trip in New York when it hits? How many of us are prepared to walk hundreds or thousands of miles to get home? Do you have a plan in place for your family to execute in your absence?


There’s no question that large population centers will be a dangerous obstacle when traveling. Whether they are run by a government official, military force, or former criminal boss turned ruler, what he/she/they see as most beneficial may be at your expense with very little you can do about it! Whether by vehicle, horse, ox cart, or on foot large population centers should probably be avoided!


If you travel on a regular basis, have and know how to use paper maps. Large scale maps of where you are and possible routes home and small scale maps of the area you are visiting and any points of interest/concern in your proposed path. A thought worth mentioning on this subject however… Any points/routes plotted on a map will be subject to compromise if the map is lost or stolen! If you don’t want your bugout location or families location known, plotting them on the map is probably not a good idea! Besides look at it from an outsiders point of view, someone who has a map and a plan is noteworthy and probably has resources worth taking.


Many possible threat events could push us back 150 years or more. The problem is that travel in the ways of the old world is only the beginning of our problems! 150 years ago there was an infrastructure in place that was based on a technology that has been antiquated and replaced many times since then. How do we go from cell phones and robotics back to pony express and carrier pigeon; from supermarkets and fast food to hunting, harvesting and non refrigerated food storage? Do we have the knowledge and skills to survive without modern conveniences?


Putting the Right Foot Forward

I have to confess that after 22 years of marriage; getting into my wife’s car and finding an empty gas tank still irritates me beyond words! I have been preaching to her for years that allowing it to get below a quarter tank, lets dirt and debris get into the fuel line and clog the filter and worse yet, any that gets through, is extra wear and tear on the engine. No matter how much I talk, lecture or complain, it makes no difference; periodically I get into her car and see “20 miles to E”.  I suppose it irritates her that I start looking for gas stations when my truck is on a half tank…

Since we’re discussing survival techniques, I think this, needs to be talked about, and few give it the attention, I feel it deserves! When I was young and broke I have to admit I was guilty of it as well… Nothing is as frustrating as running late and having to stop to get gas because you’re on empty! What if, it wasn’t something as simple as running late to work or an appointment? What if, your kid broke their arm or leg and you can’t get to the hospital until you get gas? That’s 10-15 extra minutes of pain your child has to endure because you failed to do something you’re going to have to do anyway, put gas in your tank! Ok, now let’s take it to the next level… What if you and your family were in the path of a tornado, wild fire or some other life threatening disaster? Now you have to wait in line at the gas pump with all the other people that have procrastinated getting gas until they have no other choice! It’s true that I will have to get gas in an emergency too, but even worst case scenario and my truck is as empty as I let it get, I still have 250 miles to empty.scooter

I’ve been thinking a lot about transportation lately… I think in part, due to the book I have been reading. The book is, “One Second After” by William Forstchen, if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it and have had trouble putting it down (that’s why I’m writing this on Sunday night so I can meet my Monday deadline), if you haven’t read the book I won’t say more than it’s about an EMP attack on the United States. I’m not going to discuss the unique challenges that an EMP poses to transportation, because I have a full article scheduled for discussing EMP survival later in 2016.


Everyone has different transportation needs. Living in Texas, as I’ve mentioned, I own a truck. While my youngest daughter lives in southern California and drives a Prius. I’m sure there are many people that live in places like NYC that don’t own a car at all. To some people their vehicle is a symbol of their status or success, while others see it from a more practical angle. Regardless of your transportation needs, you have primary, secondary and tertiary means of transportation. The beauty of this blog is that I can’t possibly tell you what yours are, but by discussing it, it causes you the reader to think and examine your own situation and hopefully setup your own transportation plan.

Your primary mode of transportation, is the mode you use most often and you should allocate the necessary recourses to protecting it, if it goes down you drop one level in preferred transportation. If it’s your car, you should take time, every time you get gas, walk around it and conduct a visual inspection. Check your tires, for wear and the pressure, including the spare and know how to change a tire. Check oil and other fluids and change them when required. If you don’t know how, ask a mechanic what you should check regularly, most will be glad to point it out. If your primary mode is public transportation, identify alternate routes/busses/stations, always have an exit plan.

Your secondary mode, is the one that you use when the primary fails. This could be public transportation, a second car, a bicycle… whatever. The point is to identify it and know its condition before you need it. If you don’t have one maybe it’s time you identify what you do if you get in your car and it won’t start or there’s a fire or bomb threat at your subway station and trains aren’t running. This is a good time to mention, if you live on the coast, a lake or river, boats are a great means of transportation! In normal everyday life they can be a source of entertainment and enjoyment but in an emergency they give you access to waterways that contain fish and water fowl a very real food source. Small kayaks and canoes are relatively inexpensive and don’t take much space.


The tertiary mode for most of us is walking. In the immortal words of the comedian Steven Wright, “any where is walking distance if you have the time”. I’m talking here about everything has gone down, you have to get from A to B and staying put isn’t an option. Like I used to tell my children when they were teenagers, “ I guess you’ll be using your Chevro-legs”. Ensure you have a good pair of broken in hiking shoes in your closet. They should provide good foot and ankle protection and support with a slip resistant, high traction tread.

Many governmental agencies and private foundations recommend having fire drills at home so your children will know what to do in, and be able to escape a fire. They tell you, that you should have a primary and secondary escape route. Well in my opinion your town or city is no different. Have an egress destination in mind and primary and secondary route plans to get there. Keep a map in your glove box/bugout bag (don’t rely on GPS!) Plot the destination and the routes. Identify potential obstacles that could hinder your way. We’ll talk more about maps and using them in a future article.

I hope this has given you cause to pause and consider the importance of transportation and having a plan for it! See you next week…