I have a LifeStraw I keep in my 72 Hour Bag and I’ve written about it in the past, but there’s one issue with the LifeStraw I don’t think you can ignore. Below are some pictures I found which show off the LifeStraws ability to allow its owner to drink from a literal cesspool and not only live but actually be completely unaffected by the little nasties living in there. As you can see from the pictures below the LifeStraw is an amazing water filter which has a great design, allowing it to filter 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water and weighs only 2 oz.
The commonality in all the photos above are that the people have water. The major issue I have with the LifeStraw is that you must have access to water and drink it at the source to make it worth it’s light weight feature. The fact that it is a straw makes it difficult to hook up to a hydration bladder and make use of it’s water filtering ability. As seen in the photo below, if you live in an area with access to water then it’s probably not much of a concern.
However, if you live in an arid area where water is scarce and you’re going to need to collect your water and take it with you then you must take further steps and not rely solely on the LifeStraw. You can’t just throw this item in your 72 Hour Bag and go blindly forward thinking you’ll sort it out when the time arises. Figure out how you’re going to collect water and take it with you. Something as simple as two gallon zip lock baggies may be enough for you to double bag a gallon of water and go. I’m not saying this is the answer I would choose, but for some simplicity is the key… I assure you there are going to be complications with the zip lock baggies, but at least it’s a back up plan. A good quality dry bag can be used backwards and used to carry water as well, old Gatorade bottles are some of my favorites because they are pretty strong, last a long time, carry a good quantity of water and have a wide mouth so filling is easier than a regular plastic water bottle.
With all these limitations of the LifeStraw I still carry it in my 72 Hour Bag but I keep it as my backup. My primary water filtration system is the Sawyer Mini. Remember: “One is none, and two is one.” Out of the box it’s pretty much exactly like the LifeStraw with it’s capabilities. Yeah, yeah, it ain’t exactly the same and the LifeStraw surpasses it’s filtration by a squeak, but at that level of filtration I don’t think it is really going to make all that much difference. Here’s the Mini:
Here is the comparison chart between the two filters:
Out of the box it’s designed to attach to a water pouch which you squeeze to get the water to flow through and into your mouth, but with some very simple steps you can cut the hose on your hydration bladder, add a couple little zip ties and you have an in line water filter stowed and ready to go in the 72 Hour Bag.
I take this filter system from my 72 Hour Bag and use it for all my backpacking trips. The ability to take my hydration bladder to a stream, fill it up and not have to take any time to process the water is invaluable and one less bit of work I have to do or stress about when trying to enjoy the outdoors. The fact that the Sawyer Mini will filter out 100,000 gallons of water makes it a much better bang for the buck, is 1/3 the length and it weighs exactly the same amount. I’ve attached mine to the Platypus Big Zip and find is the best bladder on the market, it’s zip lock opening make it a cinch to refill and clean and it’s got an antibacterial coating to stop nasty things from building up over time. Here’s what the Big Zip looks like:
In the end, the LifeStraw goes for about $20. The Sawyer Mini goes for about $25. For the extra $5 I think the Mini is a much better way to go especially seeing how you can filter out 378 times the amount of water!
This week I’d like to go over the FEMA marking system for buildings, searches and victims. Building markings should be made by structural engineers so it’s not something the average person should be putting on to a building, however, knowing what the markings mean will aid you during an emergency situation. The marking system I’ll be reviewing here is the CA OES/FEMA marking system which is very slightly different from the federal FEMA marking system but close enough – and since I’m in California that’s the system I know. Knowing these markings will aid you during a disaster if you are seeking shelter or aiding in search and rescue.
Building Markings are always done where they can be easily seen from the front of the building and not necessarily at the front entrance. The marker will use arrows to point to the safest entry point into the structure or safe haven. The markers must be two feet by two feet so you can see them from a good distance. Building markings look like this:
A building labeled Good will have cosmetic damage, there could be debris without structural damage and the utilities are probably still functional.
A building labeled with a single slash signifies that it has problems and evidence of structural damage. This could mean cracks around the foundation, door and window frames and other structural damage which could need bracing or shoring up. It is a structure which you need to access the risk versus reward to entering the building – get in, do what you need to do and get out because if there is an aftershock the structure may fall.
A box with an X means this structure is in bad shape, it could fall and has structural failure. Do not enter a structure such as this.
Main Entrance Markings start with a single slash /. Later when the search is completed the slash will become an X. Knowing this, at the top of the slash the date and time of search is written, on the left of the X is what team checked it. On the right of the X is what was found I.E. chemicals, etc. At the bottom of the X is if there were victims found.
The X marking system is also used at the entrance to each room or apartment within a building. This way search and rescue teams know which interior rooms have been checked allowing them to pass and know not to waste time on places that have already been checked.
The last important markings are for Victims, there are four marks. If there is a victim trapped under debris and the initial search team is waiting for a recovery team the team will mark the wall with a V and an arrow pointing to the location of the victim. A V with a circle around it means the victim is alive. A victim (V) with a circle around it ( O ) and a single slash ( / ) means the victim is known to be deceased. When the recovery team removes the body they will then create another slash through the circled V creating an X.
The full CA OES/FEMA PDF can be downloaded here: BUILDI~1Rev1
The National Urban Search & Rescue Response System PDF can be downloaded here: usr_23_20080205_rog
In addition to my signature 72 Hour Bag I keep in my car I always carry an EDC bag. This is the bag I carry to work everyday and it has an extra layer of clothes, pens, sunglasses, etc – all the junk you generally use on a day to day basis. Because in the film industry we don’t have a desk or a usual place of work our location and environment changes daily. One day we may be going to work in the morning for a 7am call time and the next day we may be heading out for a 4pm call time and working all night. Because of these variables we never know what the conditions of the days work will bring so it’s a good idea to have a catch all bag capable of sustaining you with little planning or forethought.
In the EDC I have experimented with various containers to hold the essentials to bridge the gap between my ever changing work place and my 72 Hour Bag which can be up to several miles away locked in my car at crew parking. I started out on the Altoids tin bandwagon and crammed some good items in there, I liked the size but felt I wanted a little more versatility. I then went to a Condor Pocket Pouch I got from LA Police Gear but it was always getting hung up on the outside of my bag and wouldn’t ever really fit in an internal pocket of my EDC bag. Also when I would open it things would spill out. Because it had so many pockets I would forget what I had where and inevitably have to dump the entire pouch out to find what I needed anyway.
After a little research I discovered this handy little unit, it’s available at Amazon and goes for about $15. Because it’s metal it will work as a device to boil water in, and it slides in and out of an internal pocket in my EDC easily. Let me walk you through what I keep in here.
You can see things go inside very neat and organized. I took off the top few bandaids so you could see under them.
In this picture I have a ReadyMan Survival Card my buddy gave me, it has a lot of options for saws, hooks and arrowheads all on a flat card. Not sure if it works in the field but its a nice addition, weighs almost nothing and lies flat at the bottom of the tin so I figured what the heck. I also carry Steri Strips instead of sutures because sutures have way too much risk involved in an emergency situation and a Navy SEAL Corpsman buddy of mine says he would use superglue or steri strips any day of the week over taking the time to suture in the field. Note to self, add dental floss and super glue to this kit (I used my last single use tube of super glue during a minor emergency at work and never replaced it). Also, you can see at the top of the picture the P38 can opener I always have one on me.
Below is a picture with some jute for tinder and a tampon which has many uses and you can read that article I wrote here.
Also in the pack I carry an unlubricated condom, which looks like it needs to be switched out and you can read about the uses of a condom in a survival situation here. I carry two large safety pins, a swiss army knife, a 9 volt LED light which is freaking awesome. I got them off Ebay – the one in the link is about $5 but I think I paid about $1 each so if you hunt a little you can find them cheaper.
As you can see I carry two Altoid mini tins to hold smaller items and keep them organized. One caries a whistle my buddy whittled down to its smallest size possible while still being functional – just don’t swallow it. There is also a button compass and some matches, if you look closely I have two brass brads. These are the perfect size to defeat a Master Lock that we commonly use in the film industry. Occasionally we need to get into some locked places where we actually have permission to go but the owner of the lock can’t be contacted to get the combination so instead of destroying the lock we’ll just defeat it. On the top left of the pic I carry the mini leather man squirt tool – it’s actually the driver I use to suture but its small and fits nicely in this kit. Just next to it is my pocket lock pick set and in the Altoids tin at the bottom contains some cotton balls with petroleum jelly in a tiny zip lock baggy and also a supply of my daily meds in case I can’t get home.
So there you have it, that’s the tin I carry on a day to day basis in my EDC.