Doomsday Preppers: Jay

JayThe last would-be survivor profiled on the Escape From New York episode is Jay (no last name, smart!), family man/stock trader worried about a second September 11-scale terror attack, possibly using a ‘dirty bomb’.To help him prepare, he enlists the guidance of Shane Hobel of the Mountain Scout Survival School.

If there’s one common thread running through all three of these people’s challenges, it’s one of resiliency. Margaret Ling was in fine physical shape but needed to focus on awareness of her environment and keeping vigilant against possible assailants, as well as finding it within herself to be able to physically harm those assailants in order to survive. Cameron Moore needed a little more physical exercise, but he also had some mental walls to break down—accomplished by ‘acquiring’ a bicycle for better transportation, and adopting a ‘spray first, ask questions later’ with regards to hostile encounters. Jay’s practice escape is no different. As a middle-aged urban man, he’s not as physically fit as he used to be, so undertaking a multi-mile hike on foot is going to challenge his endurance as well as his attitude. This is a good point to stress the pre– part of preparedness. It’s not postparedness for a reason—preparation is something that needs to be done before disaster actually strikes. One shouldn’t wait for a disaster to discover you can’t take it; get off the couch and get out there for some practical exercise. If your bug-in plan relies on heating with wood, don’t say, ‘Oh, I’ll start splitting firewood once things go south’, do it now! If you’re like Jay and are your family rendezvous point is twelve miles away, don’t assume that when disaster strikes you’ll instantly be transformed into a Tarahumaran marathon runner. These things take time, and if you wait until shit goes down, time’s up.

Since Jay is focusing on a dirty bomb attack, his mentor shows him how to use matches to determine wind direction; I’m not sure I buy it. Might as well lick your finger and hold it up in the air. Shane also tells Jay to walk into the wind, in order to get the threat behind him as soon as possible. In other words, late great Mitch Hedberg’s parade theory applied to radiation!:
“If you’re watchin’ a parade, make sure you stand in one spot; don’t follow it, it never changes. And if the parade is boring, run in the opposite direction. You will fast-forward the parade!”

After what I assume is several miles, Jay starts getting tired, so Shane takes him to a public fountain to get a drink. Of course, it’s full of algae and gunk, so Shane uses powdered charcoal and a bandana to filter the water. I don’t really buy that either. We’re told that such a filter method will remove chlorine (more on that in a minute) and sediments, which is all well and good, but it doesn’t kill microorganisms (what you should really worry about)–it just makes nasty water more palatable. The caption tells us that water can also be purified with household bleach, 1/8 teaspoon to a gallon. That’s more like it. Although personally, I prefer 2% tincture of iodine, which isn’t as affected by temperature as chlorine, and can also be used to clean wounds as well as water. To have really safe water, however, I recommend using at least two purification methods, and luckily there are lots of options. Take your pick: chemical solutions (chlorine, iodine), UV (SODIS, SteriPen), boiling, distillation, the list goes on. Once you’ve got the bugs out, then run your H2O through a charcoal filter to improve the taste.

I might’ve missed something, because Shane starts showing Jay a handy medicinal weed: Plantain! Not those starchy banana-things, but a common plant you probably have growing in your yard: plantago. I frequently use it on cuts, as the sap is great at stopping bleeding. But unlike what this guy shows, just crush up or bruise a leaf or two in your hand, don’t chew it up to get the juices out—if you have an open wound, you definitely don’t want mouth germs in it.

I can’t say the techniques this guy demonstrates are great, but it’s more than most folks know; I’m starting to think NatGeo should give Hobel his own show. Doomsday Preppers is great for looking at folks and their various approaches to what they consider survival, but there are certain basics (navigation, what to eat, how to drink, shelter, medicine, and fire-making) that people just don’t know.

In the end, Jay meets up with his family and they drive off to the Hamptons in their SUV. But not to worry, their bug-out vehicle has three bikes on the back rack! Which is AWESOME, as it’s nice to finally see someone thinking practically, sustainably, and survivably.

Looks like the next episode next week’s episode is also themed? And it’s superbunkers? Oh boy. Until next time, folks!

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