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Interstate 40 is the 3rd largest highway in the United States, running from Wilmington, North Carolina to Barstow California. Part of it used to be the old historic Route 66 that was popularized in the 1960s with a song and TV show. And I-40 runs right through my city where I work.
I have lost count how many times I have been called to assist with motor vehicle accidents on that interstate. At least 4 that I can remember were fatality accidents. (ALWAYS wear your seatbelt.) But what sticks out to me the most is just how often I came across people who simply were not dressed appropriately for the weather conditions outside.
So many times, when the outside temp was barely above freezing, (or colder) I’d pull up on an accident. Based upon the speeds traveled, the vehicles involved were usually damaged enough that they would not start. The people were not always hurt or not hurt very badly. But so many times the drivers and passengers did not have adequate clothing.
I always asked them the same thing. “Where is your coat?”
“I didn’t think I’d need one because I was only driving a few miles.” Or “it WAS warm inside my car” were the typical replies.
Normally, I would have been nice enough to let them stay warm in the back of my patrol car. But for many years, I was a K9 officer. I had no back seat as it had been replaced with metal bars/plates and a carpet for my loyal companion. And he was NOT nice enough to let anyone sit back there with him.
With all of my equipment I kept in the front seat, I had no room to place freezing passengers. (On the plus side, I never had to transport prisoners.)
Within a few moments a backup officer would arrive on scene, and the unprepared would cram into his/her back seat. People learned the hard way that they could not rely solely on their car’s heater or AC unit to keep them warm/cool. They should of had a backup plan.
Next to your need for oxygen, maintaining your core body temperature is the most important survival aspect you will face. Having a shelter from the elements is the number two priority in my opinion. It is more important than water, food, guns, or gear. Your clothing is, in a sense, a part of your shelter. What you wear and how you wear it could be the difference between life and death.
Over the past few decades, we have seen an increase in clothing made from synthetic materials. But sometimes it can become confusing as to how the material would be a boon or a bane in an emergency situation. So let me break down the main types of clothing/bedding material out there.
A very popular material on the market (at least in the America), cotton is hydrophilic. This means that it transfers sweat from your body to the material, causing it to become wet. Once cotton is wet, it feels cold and loses almost all of its ability to insulate. In the winter time, the saying is “Cotton Kills”.
Emergencies are never planned. Disaster can strike when you least expect it. So having plans and being prepared for these contingencies could save your life! Here are 8 lessons to take from a real life disaster.
May 20th, 2013 started out just like any other day. I went to work and had a rather uneventful day. I got home around 2:30 in the afternoon, and turned on the TV to see the local weather man warning people of a “Tornado Watch” issued for my area. The maps on TV showed an approaching storm cell, and it looked ominous.
The “Tornado Watch” went to a “Tornado Warning” in about 15 minutes, and by a little after 3pm, the city of Moore, Oklahoma had been hit, and hit HARD. In the end, 24 people lost their lives, and over 350 had been injured. The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, was quick to call it a disaster area. In the end, the damage from that tornado was estimated to be over $2 BILLION.
By 3:30pm, my police chief called me and asked if I could go to Moore and assist. Mary Fallin was asking for all available emergency personnel to come to the affected area. So back on goes the uniform and gear, and off I went.
Now I don’t live that far from Moore, but it took me much longer than usual to get there. The interstates were packed with vehicles trying to get TO the area. Even with lights and sirens, a few times I found myself driving on not just the shoulder of the highway, but on the outlying fields themselves to get around traffic that had come to a stand-still.
I know the back roads in that area well, but I did not take them. I had no way of knowing how many of them would be impassable due to the tornado. And I knew that I-35, the main US highway that runs right through the middle of Moore had not been damaged. (Although parts of it had been shut down due to debris on the highways.)
Eventually I made it, and was given directions to the Emergency Command Center. It was in the heart of the affected area; a Home Depot parking lot. There were a row of businesses right there that were relatively untouched, and they had vast parking areas. Plenty of room to set up operations and the needed equipment.
On a side note: The north side of that street, on the other hand, had been wiped out. It reminded me of pictures of the aftermath of WWII. Buildings were gone or gutted. In route to the area, I drove past what remained of the local hospital. My first thought when I saw what was left of it was that the death toll there would be catastrophic. Yet somehow, those in the hospital had been evacuated in the nick of time.
Lesson #1 – Have emergency routes and back up routes (with maps) established ahead of time
Like I said, I knew the back roads in that area as it wasn’t far from where I grew up. But I had no idea what sort of condition those roads were in. And were it not for the fact that I was in an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens, I could have been sitting on the interstate for hours.
For my first article, I thought I would tell you a little about myself, and the purpose of this new prepper site.
A former outdoor survival instructor, I currently work as a police officer in a suburb of Oklahoma City.
I found myself beginning to prep just a few years ago. I fought the term “Prepper” for a long time, as I believed the media had given it a negative connotation. Instead, I was “being prepared for unforeseen events”. But let’s be honest, I was merely arguing semantics.
I’m still not crazy about the term. But it is what it is.
Although I started just a few years ago, I have a long history of being outdoors and developing survival skills. It started in my teens, as I was a Boy Scout. I loved it, and made the rank of Eagle Scout at age 16. I camped every summer, including a 2 week stay in Scout Camp at Philmont, NM.
In my late teens, I attended a 3 month outdoor survival school, where I eventually became an instructor. I taught others primitive living skills such as land navigation, primitive fire making (bow drill), how to locate and secure water, how to make rudimentary shelters, and other survival skills.