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#5074 - 03/27/02 08:46 PM urban PSK?

<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>In a related (I hope) vein - we seem to be somewhat complacent about urban situations - not trying to be Chicken Little or alarmist, but is there a significant role for a PSK in urban settings? Does a PSK for the unskilled or unpracticed carried in an urban situation ("daily carry") need different crib sheets than a wilderness PSK or a general purpose PSK?<p><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>The urban situations that may remove us from our routine are very different from the wilderness situations. This forum has not really had a decent discussion on these differences so, in an attempt to spur a discussion I wanted to list the characteristics of an urban emergency.<br><br>People are abundant.<br><br>Infrastructure is disrupted but not missing<br>-- there may be downed power lines to worry about<br>-- there is a greater risk of structure fires<br>-- there may be leaking gas<br>-- there may be leaking water<br>-- there may be roads that are usable<br>-- there may be supplies available<br>-- -- there may be price gouging<br>-- -- there may be bartering<br>-- -- there may be sharing<br><br>Law enforcement will be disrupted or more inadequate than usual<br>-- The abundant people may pose a threat<br>-- The community may be a protective resource<br><br>Some thoughts on gear:<br>In an urban setting primitive signalling devices such as mirrors and whistles. We can usually tap the nearest person on the shoulder. OTH, in an urban setting we may have more need of concealment, evasion and defense if the emergency is social in nature.<br><br>In an urban setting most uses of fire would be a bad idea. The increased fire threat posed by damaged structures and the increased attention that the fire will bring may both negative. OTH we may have access to community responses that supply all the food and water we need after a relatively short time and long before things return to normal.<br><br>In an urban situation you could certainly use a snare to catch pigeons, squirrels, cats or dogs and stay well fed but this behavior is frowned upon by the locals and most of the non-domesticated urban stock is of questionable edibility. You might be better off including some mainstay rations in the vehicle / briefcase / purse rather than a snare in the psk.<br><br>In the urban setting during anything short of a complete disruption of civilisation with no expectation of a return to normalcy, money is useful for just about every need. In the wilderness paper money is kindling and metal money is dead weight to carry. I wouldn't expect to use a credit card in either situation during an emergency due the effect on the communications required to process credit cards.<br><br>From the write-up on urban survival that Doug put together it seems that the defense from bipeds is the primary concern for urban survival so-far expressed. Short of keeping you "urban psk" in you holster and wallet, what does one really need in an urban setting during:<br><br>earthquake,<br>fire,<br>hurricane,<br>flood,<br>industrial chemical spill,<br>terrorist caused disruption of the infrastructure.

#5075 - 03/27/02 10:38 PM Re: urban PSK?
Schwert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 905
Loc: Seattle, Washington
Urban needs.<br><br>My preparations center around 3 main areas of concern (in order).<br><br>Earthquake or other natural disaster like Volcanic eruption, glacial melt, tsunami.<br>Terror<br>Civil Unrest<br><br>I live in Seattle. In the last 18 months We had a 6.8 deep Earthquake, WTO riots, MardiGras street violence resulting in one death, and recent Bomb threats against my worksite.<br><br>My planning centers around my responses to these primary needs. Here is my list of needs as I see them:<br><br>PrePlanning for earthquake awareness at home and work.<br>Evacuation routes and plans.<br>Basic medical attention for myself and others.<br>Shelter after building evacuation.<br>Communication with my wife.<br>Communication with my neighbors and contact persons.<br>Transportation options to my wife and then home, including known alternative bus and car routes to avoid problems with bridges, riots etc.<br><br>Once these are under control, I turn to making my immediate environment hospitable and safe for the duration of the need. This includes securing longer term shelter, water, fire if appropriate, etc.<br><br>My PSK (the actual pocket box) is similar to Doug's etc., but my Urban PSK concept includes the clothing and shoes I select EVERY day. The coat I have at my desk EVERY day even if it is nice out. The On-Body "Don't Leave Home Without" stuff in my vest. The leather gloves tucked in my belt beside the Leatherman and SureFire. The ID badge around my neck with a Fox 40 beside it. The Daily Carry Bag which includes communication options (Ham radio, Shortwave radio, batteries), and Shelter (Basha sheet, paracord, poncho, rainshell, firemaking tools and water purification options including a cook pot and 750mL of water). My under-my-desk items including a 3' prybar, hardhat, and water.<br><br>My evaluation of risk changed after Sept 11, but the basics of my thought processes to respond to an Urban emergency did not have to undergo major changes. Study of this site has been very helpful in planning and preparing with basic supplies that will make responding to an Urban or Wilderness emergency much easier.<br><br>Randy<br>

#5076 - 03/27/02 11:23 PM Re: urban PSK?

miniMe,<br><br>Sorry for the length of this post.<br><br>I’d be very interested in such a discussion. We’ve skirted around it a couple of times, and I think I’ve even made some of the points that you just did. I agree wholeheartedly on the value of money in the urban PSK (UPSK?), and have said so once or twice. I also agree on the apparent limitations, and the jarring change in emphasis of the urban section of this site relative to the rest of it- but I got the distinct impression that it was not open to discussion. I also agree with your remarks on fire.<br><br>My own perspective is that of a commuter, and hence, for me, the emphasis is staying alive in the short term, and getting out of the city, possibly on foot.<br><br>Even if I was a resident of the city, I wouldn’t worry much about snares and traps. If food shipments were cut off to a major city for more than a week, you’d be competing with literally millions of other people for anything edible. I certainly don’t have snares in my UPSK. I do have water purification tablets, but they don’t take up much room in that tiny 20-tablet flask. I also carry a whistle- think “trapped in the rubble” as opposed to “lost in the woods”.<br><br>Here are some subjects that might provide fodder for discussion:<br><br>The fact that most urban emergencies tend to be amazingly localized. A few blocks away from where it seems like the end of the world, shopkeepers are open for business as usual.<br><br>The urban imperative to "bug out" (leave the trouble area quickly) vs. the wilderness strategy of "stay put". The enormous risk of staying to watch the drama unfold. The almost-unique urban need to be able to recognize a potentially life-threatening situation EARLY and react quickly and positively, even if it makes you look foolish 95 percent of the time. How many in the WTC on 9/11 didn't take the situation seriously enough soon enough- didn't think the problem could possibly reach them, didn't think trouble in one tower made it worth leaving the other, didn't think the buildings could possibly collapse- I have seen people work at their desks through fire alarms and evacuations, simply because they had work to finish and there had been too many false alarms recently.<br><br>The value of battery-powered (hand-crank?) radios, and of having one (or maybe even a TV) in your office, to know what's happening and WHERE even if the power goes out, and one that can be carried for evacuation. This came to mind again while watching the recent special on the fire departments at the WTC during 9/11. They didn’t know about the second plane or the first tower collapse until after. They said again and again that people watching TV from home knew more about what was going on than people on the site. How many times, in how many emergencies, have we heard that? Is there any excuse for it, in this day and age?<br><br>Arguably the most potentially valuable survival resource of all in an urban situation, something that if used freely and intelligently can accomplish seeming miracles, is something that's completely useless in the wilderness: cash. <br><br>The value (and limits) of using cell phones in an emergency, and possible alternatives.<br><br>The possible survival value of a phone calling card (I don’t use them- wouldn’t the numbers be enough?)<br><br>The value of thinking in 3 dimensions in an urban setting.. that potential threats, resources, or escapes can be either above or below ground level.<br><br>The value of having road maps, and of learning possible exit routes beforehand, for both vehicle and foot.<br><br>The potential value of taxicabs in an emergency situation.<br><br>The high relative value of information; names and phone numbers, emergency numbers, evacuation routes, nearest hospital, nearest police station, nearest ATM, taxi companies, nearest seller of bottled water, nearest seller of warm clothing.<br><br>The value of taking the stairs and knowing them well. Always in an emergency, but also routinely if feasible.<br><br>The value of having access to some type of athletic shoes if you must wear dress shoes.<br><br>The value of a basic compass in staying oriented in unfamiliar areas of a city, where line of sight is usually limited.<br><br>The value of flashlights in "urban" situations as opposed to wilderness.<br><br>The unique challenges of carrying useful survival gear if you must face metal detectors and x-ray machines.<br><br>The fact that, unlike the wilderness, potential fire tinder and water containers (if not exactly sanitary) are everywhere. The relatively (compared to wilderness) low utility of fire.<br><br>The fact that you might still have to deal with wind, weather and exposure, but unlike wilderness situations, you're much less likely to be dressed properly for it.<br><br>The fact that there's no place on earth where you're more likely to desperately need a weapon, nor anyplace where the law is more determined to keep you from having one.<br>

#5077 - 03/27/02 11:45 PM Re: urban PSK?

P.S.- how about the HUGE potential value of NEVER letting your vehicle's fuel tank get low? I was almost caught by this once- the situation could have been a lot worse on just chance- but I'm still not very good about filling up more often.

#5078 - 03/27/02 11:55 PM Re: urban PSK?

One of the things I've noticed with people talking about UPSKs is that thier thinking is focused on the large scale. Terrorism, riots, earthquakes (the whistle would be good here, if you are in rubble), etc. Not the little things, like loosing your keys, having your car stolen/vandelised, flat tire, or your pocket picked- these are statistically much more likely to happen. <br><br>While a flat tire might not seem like a crisis, it can be. Trust me, I had one on the way to a job interview once.<br><br>For UPSK and it's cheatsheet, I'd reccomend some of these items:<br>-bus/subway tokens and a list of the stops (or better, a route map)<br>-change for the phone or a phone card, and a list of numbers (with the phone card, just right down the dialin number and the access code, smaller that way. BTW, include the number for your personal MD, insurance egents w/ the numbers and your lawyer, if you have one on retainer)<br>-spare keys<br>-enough cash for a cab ride and/or a burger (if you need to call a friend for a ride, you can get hypothermic waiting outside. Reserants are open at odd hours, and for ladies, they are public, but the management gets funny if you don't order anything)<br>-basic meds, especially anything improtant, but a pepto-bismal/immodeum, a non-drowsy allergy/cold med, and an anelgesic at a minimum<br>-screws for glasses and the right driver (if you have a PST of one type or another, you can use the smallest driver in that)<br>-mirror (something in the eye!)<br>-band aids (keep crude out of the wound)<br>-pair of nitrile gloves (stronger than latex and a longer shelf life)<br>-cotten swab<br>-if in a city where English might not be as common as you think, a small phrase list (make it phonetic, with the basics- shouldn't need more than 10-15 lines)<br>-a pencil stub and paper<br>-spare debit/ATM card and photo ID (even if it is old)<br><br>As always, this figures you are carrying a pocket tool/SAK, a light, and have medical dog tags/medical alert if needed. If you want more, carry you normal PSK in the other pocket of your jacket. <br><br>Most of this, other than the spare debit card and the gloves, should fit into a stripped mini-altoid tin, with the phrase list/bus scedule/phone list laminated and hot-glued to the outside. Slip the card into your PSK, and all you need to find a home for is the gloves. If you carry a pocket mask for CPR, you've got that piece down.<br><br>So, that means a PSK, a mini-tin UPSK, your EDC items in your pockets, and maybe a PMK on your person. In you bag or brief case, cell phone (if you want), a water bottle, spare glases if you need them, a dust mask, a map or two, and the PMK if you don't carry it on you. Not much, but if you can dress right and don't panic, you can deal with any minor medical issue, keep someone alive until the ambulance shows, get home if you are suddenly carless, communicate to those around you and on the other side of the world, and do all the stuff we normally do with a PSK on top of it. <br><br>Not bad for less than two pounds of stuff that can be worn with a suit without showing.

#5079 - 03/28/02 12:32 AM Re: urban PSK?
RayW Offline

Registered: 12/06/01
Posts: 552
Loc: Orlando, FL
As Cyber pointed out even a flat tire can be a crisis. Usually the crisis is that unless it has been checked lately the spare tire has less air in it that the flat. Check the spare tire at least once a year.

#5080 - 03/28/02 01:59 AM Re: urban PSK?

With respect, I'm not sure I agree with all your points.<br><br>I started down that path myself, but I decided that while there are a lot of "important" things to have available during the day, I still think it's better to not dilute the concept of the urban PSK. It really is intended for life-threatening situations, and it just grows out of control if you start adding convenience items- and you raid it too often.<br><br>Not that they're not important- as you point out with the tire example, a job can depend on such things. I had a boss once who kept an entire spare suit, shirt and tie hanging behind his office door. I have a container I keep in my office desk drawer that has a sewing kit, nail clippers, disposable razor, safety pins, pain pills, disposable cutlery, napkins, folding comb/brush, duct tape, tweezers, and that sort of thing... but I wouldn't consider grabbing it if the building shudders.

#5081 - 03/28/02 03:09 AM Re: urban PSK?
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
Hehehe - all the discussion so far greatly fascinates me and has all sorts of gears turning in my head. This is great - new viewpoints, new thoughts, new problems, new solutions - I'm learning stuff.<br><br>Chris, Doug - do we need to cart this thread off to the Campfire Forum, or is it OK to leave it here? I vote for leaving it here, but I'll support your decision either way.<br><br>I disqualify myself from making informed contributions - I live close enough to my office that most of this discussion is academic to me, and I jumped horses a year ago to something that makes business travel strictly on my terms (rare). BUT - I have family members who share many of the environmental concerns being voiced here, and I hope to learn enough to pass on to them.<br><br>Do any of us who work (or perhaps also live in) "big" urban areas keep a big walking stick at work? Or perhaps commute with a smaller "walking aid"?<br><br>Tom

Edited by AyersTG (03/28/02 03:11 AM)

#5082 - 03/28/02 03:55 AM Re: urban PSK?

Well, I'm not sure that I'd consider any item that I listed there as a convience item. I'm very curious to find out which ones you would consider to be such. There are/were those here who considered matches a convience item.<br><br>In explination, not knowing which items you are speaking of, and in the order I mentioned them:<br><br>-Bus/subway tokens and map: If I have my own vehicle, I probaly won't know where most of the stops for mass transit are, except for those I might use when driving is a hassle. Being suddenly without vehicle can be a real emergency, or just a major pain, just like a busted compass. (Most of us can find north without a compass, but most of us pack one in our PSKs.)<br>-phone money and numbers: A signalling device, to put it bluntly. The number list is no different than having a frequency list if you have a two-way in a plane or on a boat<br>-Spare keys, for the obvious. Yes, you can get a locksmith, just like you can make a fishline from fine roots, and hook from thorns.<br>-Cash. For a UPSK, I do and will argue that cash is the equivelent of fire starters in a PSK.<br>-The meds are as much a luxury here as they are in any survival kit. I admit that. Most of the time. A bad belly or an allergic reaction can screw you as badly as a busted foot. Not leathal, but enough to put you in worse situations that you already are.<br>-Glasses screws. Without my glasses, I can't find my feet without feeling for them, so this is a critical item for me.<br>-band-aids: the crud in the woods is cleaner, in my opinion.<br>-gloves: ditto. Humans are an infectious substance, plain and simple. <br>-mirror & swab: here, you have the room, so I use it for these. Eye contamination and injury resulting from the contaminate were one of the most common problems at either of the Trade Center attacks, Oklahoma City, the Kobar Towers, and various and sundry building collapses and fires not started by wackos.<br>-Phrase list: another signalling device. It's like lighting three fires- one is just a fire. Someone speaking in a languageyou can't understand is just someone you can't understand. They could be wishing you good luck on this holiest of days, or telling you your backpack is on fire. :)<br>-Debit/ATM card: again, cash. This is a second form of it.<br>-ID: If there is ever a massive, multitarget attack in America, odds are that anyone who gets routed into a "refugee center" or whatever they call it will need to be able to show ID to leave. And if there is a curfew, it will be doubly important to be able to show a real ID that says you are you who you say you are, and yes, you really do live just down the block. If you can do that, the gentlemen with automatic weapons might let you go, rather than arresting you.<br><br>All emergencies can become life or death. We carry and build our kits to keep them from becoming so. Use it right, and keep your head, and a forced march through the 9 pits of hell just seem like a minor inconvience. :)<br><br>

#5083 - 03/28/02 12:40 PM Re: urban PSK?

Sorry, didn’t mean to offend- I think that we actually agree on a lot of points… but… Pepto Bismal? :-)<br><br>From your message:<br><br>“the little things, like loosing your keys, having your car stolen/vandelised, flat tire, or your pocket picked- these are statistically much more likely to happen… While a flat tire might not seem like a crisis, it can be. Trust me, I had one on the way to a job interview once.”<br><br>“basic meds, especially anything improtant, but a pepto-bismal/immodeum, a non-drowsy allergy/cold med, and an anelgesic at a minimum”<br><br>You have to admit that this set more of a “coping with life in the city” tone, rather than “avoiding immanent death in the city”. <br><br>No offense, but I’m not currently considering a bottle of Pepto-Bismal for my UPSK, no matter how useful it might be in the normal course of things. Partly that’s just me- I’m not oriented toward first-aid, and as I’ve said of the wilderness kits, I tend to be skeptical of how essential any med supplies that can fit in a PSK and are legal to carry can be. Also, the potential hassle of carrying prescription medicines out of a prescription vial in the city is pretty daunting.<br><br>I tend to draw a very firm mental line between “important” in a career/avoiding hassles sense, and “important” in a life-or-death sense.. especially since it was driven home by that incident I mentioned where co-workers refused to heed a fire alarm because of an impending deadline.<br><br>One of my uncles taught me about the “Malay monkey trap”. It may be apocryphal (not qualified to say), but I consider it one of life’s great lessons.<br><br>As for items in your most recent message- well, yeah, the cotton swab and mirror aren’t in my kit, nor the gloves or band-aids.. my orientation again. As for the glasses screws, I have no argument as to it’s importance, but I opt for a very small pair of multi-fold reading glasses instead- a lot can happen to a pair other than a loose screw. I consider this so important that it’s about the second-largest item in my UPSK, and I don’t care. However, I recently saw some new folding designs that were even more compact.<br><br>No argument on the compass- I can find North much more easily in the woods than in the city. As a matter of fact, my “wilderness” PSK's carry button compasses, but I put a somewhat larger watchband/wristband compass in the “urban” PSK, on the principle that in the city I’m much more likely to be in a real hurry, with my hands occupied, while needing to check orientation on the move. Stopping and putting things down to dig something out of a pocket and get my bearings on a crowded sidewalk during an emergency doesn’t appeal to me.<br><br>Thanks for the clarification of the subway route maps. In the city I’m closest to, the “subway” maps are mostly useful for choosing trains, pretty much useless for finding stations from street level (they’re copied from the Paris Metro style). I agree, finding the station is more important- once you’re on the system, you can get oriented quickly. <br><br>Personally, I’d want more cash than you mention. My father was better at solving problems with money than I’ll ever be, but people (and cab drivers) will often come up with amazing ingenuity on your behalf for a $100 bill, offered courteously and with respect.<br><br>By far the most important (to me) item that’s in my kit that’s not on your list is the tiny FM radio with earphones. I consider that essential to my UPSK, and I plan to order one of Sir Clive Sinclair’s coin-sized FM radios soon to see if I can reduce the bulk further. I’ve been in the dark about what or where the problems were more than once, even with the news choppers hovering in sight (Rodney King riots, San Francisco, springs to mind).<br><br>I also have a Gerber LST lock-blade folder in mine. Usually it's a backup, but it fits in an Altoids tin, and I know of no place in the US where it would be illegal to carry, other than on an airliner.<br><br>Of course, you could argue that my P-38 can opener is a convenience item, and you may be right... but it’s so small, and so effective, that I would feel very silly trying to open cans with a knife instead.<br>

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