Saturday, April 17, 2010

Emergency Kit for Disabled and “Over-The-Hill Folks”

After spending the day cleaning the garage and working on the garden and picnic tables, my memory has been reaffirmed.  My back is shot. 
Several of the vertebrae in my back have degenerative arthritis and the damage has reached the point that I couldn't possibly carry more the 20lbs (if that) on my back for any length of time now.  Unfortunately, my wife suffers from the same affliction. 
So what do we do about Bug-Out-Bags / 96-hour kits, water, etc.? 
A few years ago, I purchased new rolling bags for our kits.  Granted, they can be carried on your back like a backpack, but really aren't suited to that task.  They do however, work extremely well if we put the weight on the wheels and tow them behind us.
Hopefully, if the earthquake faults in near us let loose with huge trembler's, levels our house and creates a 20 ft deep depression in our orchard behind the house, we will still be able to tug them behind us to the park by the church to meet up with the rest of the neighborhood family.  
That scenario isn't going to happen ... If our conditions are that bad, the neighbors homes will all be on the ground too and the church will have been leveled long before our homes.   We'll probably all end up camping in our back yards, even though the 'Big One' will probably arrive at 2:00 a.m. on January 15th and it is -10F outside...
The wheels on our bags will get us that far if we can get them the 10ft from their storage closet to the back door.
The real use for the wheels would occur if we were forced to abandon our property for some reason and be mandated to gather in some 'safe' gathering location or building.  Assuming we can get through the bottleneck Interstate corridor in our area, odds are that our new safe shelter won't have drive up 'drop offs'.  We'd be lucky to park within a mile of the shelter if the whole Wasatch Front population was on the move too.   Wheels will save our 'day' in this scenario. 
The weight of our kits and water is far more than we can manage on our backs.  I don't care who you are ...  If you have a family, especially a young family, are seeing more gray in your hair than the color you had when you left high school or even if you have grown kids to help, the weight of all your stuff is going to be a huge limiting factor.
Some folks would be able to bug out to locations where they can obtain and treat their water with relative ease and may not take as large a supply with them as do the folks in more urban areas.  Good for them.  But even folks in that fortunate circumstance still have to contend with weight and the age and physical condition of the folks who will be carrying their emergency kits.
Two years ago, I was asked to visit the class of younger men in our church and teach a lesson on Emergency Preparedness.  I threw a couple of packs on the backs of the two youngest, brawniest fellows in the group with 10 liters of water in the bladder, two bottles on the sides and the food, minimal clothing, a super light sleeping bag and tarp and the other 'stuff' we put in light packs. 
Moving the group to the gym, I asked the two gentlemen to slowly circle the outside walls while I talked for the next 30 minutes. 
You know the results.  Neither of these basketball, softball and tennis players made it to the finish line  These to scout leaders were in trouble.  They hike in the mountains with their scouts every summer, so what was the problem now?  They don't carry 3-gallons of water with them when they go on their summer hikes.  The 25+ pounds associated with it and was a killer in addition to the rest of the weight in the packs.
Ten minutes after the first two started, I loaded up another brawny father with water and a pack for himself and water for his three little kids.  He struggled, he groaned, and to save face, he stayed walking a lot longer than anyone expected, but by the time the first two had thrown in the towel, he was approaching his own personal 'wall' and soon gave up.
Water and weight.  If we ever have to actually bug out with our families and actually have to carry our water with us, we all have a problem ahead.
How are you addressing this issue? 
The answer in our family and our children's family has been to carry a light pack on our backs and put the weight each of us needs in rolling bags.  Even our 3-year old grandsons have amazing abilities allowing them to tow their bags along for lengthy periods of time.
What is your solution to this very real problem?

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