06/26/09 — Marsh -- Finding survival gear challenges outdoorsmen

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Marsh -- Finding survival gear challenges outdoorsmen

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 26, 2009 1:46 PM

Pat McHugh invented the Space Blanket, an amazing piece of survival gear that has changed the face of emergency care for decades. McHugh said millions of Space Blankets were sent to help victims of the Indonesian tsunami a couple of years ago.

But such large-scale disasters form only part of the basis of survival and outdoors gear McHugh has designed and represented. One of my favorites is an MPI outdoors backpack with a single shoulder strap that allows shooting a rifle while wearing the pack. But, while he said hunters and fishermen usually possess all the gear they need to survive, having a plan and getting that gear into a single location for a fast getaway is even more important.

"The devastation to one's home and psychological well being that can be caused by the wrath of Mother Nature, brought forth by an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, has forced many people to become unwilling urban campers," he said. "Barring serious physical injuries, the main problems will be matters of comfort and personal protection until the situation can begin to return to some semblance of normalcy.

"Natural disasters can occur at any time, in any place, and even though we can do little to prevent them from happening, we can prepare for them. The biggest part of preparation is assembling survival supplies. You should also know the location of your local emergency shelter.

"One big advantage you can have in addition to the physical preparation of supplies is to ensure you and your family are mentally prepared for an emergency situation."

McHugh's disaster survival tips are common sense as long as implementation begins ahead of the event. He said talking to your family, especially children, about what it would be like to experience an emergency situation was important in developing a family disaster plan if you live in an area like we do where disasters such as hurricanes and floods occur.

Talking helps familiarize family members with potential emotions and develop a teamwork understanding for dealing with a disaster.

McHugh said to above all remain calm because keeping calm keeps you safe. Moods can become extremely contagious during a disaster. If a disaster occurs he said to remember the acronym STOP -- (S)ize up the situation, (T)hink what you have to do, (O)bserve your surroundings and if they're not safe, institute the (P)lan you discussed with your family.

"Everyone of us has most likely been in a situation where we did not plan ahead," said McHugh. "Most of the time this lack of planning results in an inconvenience that can be resolved quickly. But not planning ahead for the potential of a natural disaster can have grave consequences.

"That's why planning now can make all the difference in the world. Having the right survival supplies on hand can make your unfortunate situation somewhat more bearable. Surviving among concrete and steel in urban areas is not really that much different than spending a night in the rugged wilderness mountains or backcountry, so having the right gear makes all the difference.

"As with supplies for any outdoors trek, the key elements for use in the aftermath of a disaster are storability, portability, usability and sensibility. The operative word is 'ability.' Know what you have and how to use all the things that you pack. Personally design, purchase, pack and become familiar with all your survival gear."

McHugh's Disaster Evacuation Kit

* Pack items inside a 5-gallon bucket with a tight lid and handle, preferably a hard-sided kit that is easy to transport;

* Replace items every three to six months and log when they were updated;

* Two flashlights without batters inserted and three sets of batters for each flashlight;

* Duct tape, work gloves, basic tools (screwdriver, claw hammer, pliers);

* Chemical light sticks (8-12 hour variety) at least four (longer lasting light for kids);

* Portable radio with two sets of batteries stored outside radio;

* Basic first aid kit;

* Toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, denture adhesive, soap, washcloths and wet wipes;

* Water (follow safety guidelines for bottled water);

* High-energy snack bars, multi-grain cereal bars;

* Pre-sweetened drink mixes, salt, pepper and sugar packets;

* Plastic cups;

* An emergency telephone number list;

* Pen and small notebook;

* Cash;

* Personal medications.


Don't forget important personal papers, laptop or backup hard drives. Turn off the gas and electricity before leaving your home. Lock the doors and windows, and remove any outside objects that may become airborne in high winds or wash away in floods.