Published by Tessa Bertoldi
Copyright 2017 Tessa Bertoldi
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You Are the Most Important Prep for Your Survival!
By A Woman Living in Earthquake Land
I’m close to sixty and consider myself to be in good shape, mentally and physically. I recently tested my physical readiness as part of my get fit resolution. I knew my employer would complete a disaster training drill with the Coast Guard and the Department of Fish & Game. The drill would end earlier than my normal work schedule. I’m in a car pool and I would be stranded in place and needed to plan on how to use what turned out to be an extra thirty minutes. It wasn’t enough time to catch a ride back to my office and start working. I had the idea to “test” my physical limits without actually training specifically for it. I should be able to knock out the mile plus distance to meet up with my car pool, no problem!
I called my carpool driver and let her know that I was walking to her so she wouldn’t drive by me. I already had my laptop with me in a backpack with good straps. I added several bottles of water to make up a weight of about 40 pounds. The pack wasn’t much in the preparedness world but, enough for this experiment. I had on sturdy shoes with excellent support and a pair of cotton/wool blend hand knitted socks from Hooked on Fiber. The weather was misty earlier in the morning and cool and clear when I started out. I suited up in my black wool coat, backpack, purse and a travel mug of coffee. What did I learn from my experiment?
Lesson One: Secure the load!
It’s not a good idea to have your hands full or have anything hanging off your arm. Coffee dehydrates and is not a good beverage for bugging out or even hiking. You will stay thirsty if you walk and drink coffee so free up your hands and stop and properly hydrate along the way. I also started out with loose backpack straps. The wool coat protected me from chafing, but my back quickly became fatigued from the constant shifting of the heavy pack. Muscle strain can sideline you quickly. I stopped and stowed my travel mug and tightened up my straps, straightened up my posture and began again. My back felt better after approximately 100’ of concentrating on my body alignment and placement of my steps.
Lesson Two: Eyes on Path!
The surface I walked on to get to my car pool location was extremely uneven. This was something I was not prepared for. I expected a city street to be even with few obstacles. What I actually experienced was a long hazardous stretch with gravel the size of a child’s fist as well as smaller grit in other places. The road pavement was a good 6 to 8 inches grade with no walking shoulder, mud and puddles and a narrow bridge. A turned ankle, slip or fall would negate all my positive efforts and planning.
Lesson Three: 360° Awareness!
In addition to eyes on path, constantly scan the area around you for hidden hazards and path selection. You don’t want to waste time back tracking or face an injury that could have been avoided. Portions of my travel included hazardous areas where there was high vehicle traffic. The less traveled roadway had areas where someone could easily catch me unaware from a hidden advantage point. I also observed a hidden food source under an unsafe abandoned bridge as I walked down a dead end road in an older industrial area. Surprise, there were juicy ripe blackberries, four months out of season! That meant the local game knew it was there as well. My path departed from the established roadway in places. Looking ahead as well as behind became key to my successful trek.
Lesson Four: Weather Ready!
Fail on this one as I did not plan for the weather. My good wool coat kept me plenty warm, but I had no head gear and rapidly lost body warmth. The very misty rain didn’t bother me; but my hair was wet, which also quickly wicks away body heat. The lack of head gear was not critical on this day because the ambient temperature was within tolerable limits but five degrees lower and I would have been in trouble.
Lesson Five: Get in Shape!
Going to the gym three times a week is not the same as walking with a pack out-of-doors. I felt the two mile walk in my core muscles and lungs immediately after the walk and the next day. The muscles from my waist down seemed to hold up as expected, in good shape. An actual disaster situation (like the training class I had just finished) would require me to carry more gear in addition to my laptop, phone and water. I would need to carry food or snacks to last until the logistics team was called out and a supply chain was established (2 pounds). I would also need to carry my USGS ICS guidebook, several notepads, various forms of identification (TWIC, employee badge, driver’s license, possibly my passport), pens, pencils, highlighters and flip chart markers, a set of printed ICS forms, and some cash (3-4 pounds). That is an estimated extra 6 pounds, if someone else is providing me with and .
My beloved was often heard to advise someone that if you can’t haul your own water fifty feet on any day, you will be dead in a year. I used to think it meant the ability to get yourself somewhere. Hauling your own water means getting there as well as the one gallon per day you will need. That’s an additional 8 lbs. per gallon per day. I was only carrying four 16 oz. bottles of water at an additional four pounds, half of my daily water requirement. If this was a real response situation and not a drill, my pack would be at least 60 pounds. That is still only one gallon of water, minimal food, a change of socks, appropriate weather gear, sun block, a head covering, sunglasses, 50’ of multipurpose paracord, any personal protective gear required and the lightest weight personal tarp in case shelter or a wind break is required.
I challenge you to conduct your own experiment with your BOB, grab-and-go or similar prep. We talk about being ready in a case scenario, but this was a case scenario in which I found multiple areas for improvement. Remember, the number one item to include in your preps is you, make sure all your preps are in good shape!
This book is dedicated to the three people who always believed in me:
My Father, my Beloved and my beautiful brainy daughter.
About Tessa Bertoldi
Tessa Bertoldi has been in love with reading and writing her entire life. She is currently employed as a Technical Writer, translating Engineer speak into plain English. Tessa’s previous assignments include composing technical documents to keep employees safe, while working with explosives. She has a background in Risk Management and investigating claims fraud. Her published work includes corporate documents, policies and procedures, Memories and Milestones-A commemorative book on the refinery and its employees and a work in the anthology, Inspire Joy. Two short stories “No Loving Men” and “Perfect Love Brings Change” will be published in Inspire Love late 2017. She is passionate about writing and is a staff volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference, Writing for Change and is the Solano County Municipal Liaison for the National Novel Writing Month. Tessa’s current projects include two science fiction novels, a “rescue yourself” romance and an educational guide that attempts to fill in the holes for her adult foster children.
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