Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Practical Preparedness
Originally published Sept 20, 2012

Remember MacGyver?

He was the guy in the television series of the same name that could fix anything with a Swiss Army knife and a gum wrapper. He could whittle a helicopter and fly it out of an enemy prison compound and make it seem believable. I rarely missed an episode simply because he inspired us to make do with what we had and rely on our skills to overcome any adversity. For some reason it was about then I bought a Swiss Army knife. MacGyver didn’t always have the coolest gadgets, but he used what he had on hand and fashioned a solution.

Some time back there was an article in a statewide newspaper about three hikers that spent an unplanned night in the woods. Taking a wrong turn, they eventually realized they were lost. One member of the group was quoted as saying, “…I just thought: What do I need? I need shelter, I need food, I need water.” The article goes on to say he built a shelter of branches, pine needles and two towels. They had some trail mix and drank water from a stream.

After they were rescued the next day, the local Sheriff’s Department commented, “Even if you’re not planning to spend the night, pack like you are. Essentials include food, water, a compass, a knife and a form of communication.” I might add that some method to start a fire would be mighty handy as well. A fire, besides offering warmth, is good company at night. Their attitude, their refusal to panic, and their skills allowed them to survive the night. In other words, they “MacGyvered” their way through a survival situation.

There are a couple of handy gadgets to have on such an outing. One is a GPS receiver, which I mentioned in a previous column. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver would probably have helped them get back on the right trail, or possibly find another way out of the woods. The other device is something known as a SPOT locator. A SPOT locator is battery powered and fits easily in the palm of your hand. Using a marriage of GPS and satellite phone technology, it provides one-way communication to pin-point your location, signal for help, or notify friends and family that your status is “OK.” The price starts at $99, plus an annual service fee. Mountain climbers, pilots, kayakers, mushers, and all sorts of outdoorsmen are using them to give their families peace of mind and to summon help if needed. One big advantage is they work where cell phones won’t.

Now that summer is here, many of us will be heading into the great outdoors, so it’s a good time to check your backpack, gear-up and be prepared - even if you don’t plan to spend the night. As always, your comments and questions are welcome at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com (Certain quotes and information were used by permission from the Statesman Journal and reporter Emily Gillespie. Link to the original article.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson