One Man’s Tool

…could be another man’s weapon, or different kind of tool.

I was recently reading over a BOB list put together by a co-worker of Sarah’s (it was distributed for September National Preparedness Month). We preppers frequently look at others’ lists and compare them to what we have ourselves. As I read it through, I mentally checked off each item he listed thinking of the equivalent I had in my bag. At the end he mentioned that he keep all his stuff in a pack near his garage door, except his crowbar which he kept under the bed. Crowbar? I don’t have a crowbar. And under the bed? Oh, he’s keeping it there as a weapon…

The crowbar, in it’s current form, has been documented since the 1400s. Also known as a wrecking bar, pry bar, or by the British as a prisebar.

I decided a crowbar would be a good idea. So a trip to the hardware store and $15 later I had a 30 inch iron crowbar for my BOB.

Since we have to be prepared to carry our BOBs, it is helpful if the items we bring along have multiple uses. A crowbar can be used:

  • as a lever to move heavy items
  • to pry things apart
  • to open a damaged car door
  • to open a house door or window
  • to safely break glass
  • as a support anchor
  • as a leg splint
  • as a cane
  • to remove nails
  • as a hammer
  • as a pick axe
  • to break the hasp on a padlock
  • for smashing things

Or as a weapon. I’m not wanting to advocate or predict violence, but desperate times frequently bring out the very best or the very worst in people. I see the crowbar as a defensive weapon, holding it in two hands across your body with the curved portion on top in your dominate hand. It can be used to defend against other blunt weapons, punches, or to create a physical barrier. Offensively, if necessary, holding it the same way and striking with the curved portion using the straight end for a follow-up strike. I would avoid using it like a baseball bat because it’s heavy to swing around, and the momentum could throw you off-balance and out of position. Likely it’s just going to be a psychological weapon. If you’re standing there empty-handed, you look vulnerable; if you’re holding a relatively large crowbar, not so much.

Weight is it’s biggest disadvantage. Five pounds may not seem like much, until you have to carry it in hand for any distance. Strapping it to a pack is an option, but it’s not as accessible. I’d happily deal with the extra weight in an urban setting where I felt defenseless, but in a rural area–especially if I needed to walk for long–I’d likely leave it behind.

The humble crowbar, a tool of many uses – something I hadn’t thought to add to my kit, and now wouldn’t want to do without.

(Wednesday: Soap and Water)

No, You Can’t Take It

five basic needs: 1) food, 2) water, 3) shelter, 4) SECURITY, and 5) energy

Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime.

There’s a story of a prepper moving into his new home. As he’s unpacking all of his preps and food storage in his garage the nosey neighbor wanders over, looks at all stuff and ‘jokingly’ says, “If the shit ever hits the fan, I know who I need to come and kill.” The prepper looks at the neighbor and says, “That’s too bad. Before you said that, I would have shared with you if you were in need.”

Now that we’re starting to build our preps, what do we need to do to keep them secure? It’s a tough, but real question. There are people out there who’s shit hits the fan (SHTF) scenario is to take others’ stuff by force (“I don’t need to store food, I just store ammo”). To share, or not, is a personal choice; however, the decision is one you should be allowed to make, not forced into.

Our neighbors and those around us know that we’re preppers. They see into our garages; they hear us discuss our projects and stores. Some in the prepper community express concern about others ‘knowing too much’; but I believe, with the appropriate caution, we should share our knowledge and set an example, and build community around us.

“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Lack of water kills us in a few days; lack of security can kill us in seconds.

Security involves many technical skills: personal defense, weapons, firearms, and first aid. Almost all require some degree of initial training, and then continuing education to maintain proficiency. It encompasses a lot of things viewed as the ‘Cool Guy’ exciting stuff. Many of us, myself included, enjoy training in personal defense, shooting guns, or learning to treat a trauma wound. But these skills become very serious when lives depend on them.

Being aware of your environment and actions is also a big part of security. Know who’s around, have escape routes in mind, look for potential weapons. Do what you can to avoid dangerous places and situations. Frank Sharpe Jr., of Fortress Defense, teaches “We don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, and do stupid things.”

In addition to the practical skills, there are the moral aspects. While most would agree with defending yourself, and others around you, what about defending your ‘stuff’? Where is the line, how much of your preps (‘stuff’) can you lose before that loss threatens your life?

The Second Amendment affirms our right to “keep and bear Arms.” Firearms ownership in the prepper community is overwhelmingly approved of and encouraged. I believe firearms should be a part of your preps. But everyone must decide what is appropriate for them. If you do choose to use firearms, ensure you have the proper training in safe use and handling.

Whether you choose to use firearms or not, I also highly recommend carrying pepper spray on a daily basis. It’s a non-lethal option that is easy to carry, requires no special training, it’s inexpensive, and very effective.

And finally, first aid training–to keep us secure if/when someone gets hurt– is a topic near and dear to me. After working as a paramedic for almost 10 years I appreciate what can, and can’t, be done.

Firearms, other weapons, and first aid will be the topics of future posts. At this point I simply want to raise awareness. As we strive for self-reliance we know that systems fail–especially in disasters. It is up to us to protect our five basic needs, our homes, and our families.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)