Using a Tourniquet

I was an EMT 25 years ago.  Back then, tourniquets were a final option for arterial bleeding.  They were discouraged.  You had to loosen it every few minutes to prevent the limb from dying.  At some point in the past 25 years, likely due to battlefield wound care in Iraq and Afghanistan, someone realized that stopping the blood flow is the most important thing.  Tourniquets are crucial for stopping arterial blood loss in limbs.  If you don't stop the bleeding, the patient will die before they get to the hospital.

Yesterday I mentioned and linked to the three main types of tourniquets on the market today.  Here are some videos on their use so that you can compare and find the one that fits your needs best.  All of them work. They each do different things better or easier than the others.

RATS Tourniquet

SWAT T Tourniquet

CAT Tourniquet

Of course, clotting gauze is also a huge improvement to bleeding control over the past 10-15 years.  Quick Clot gauze is an amazing product.  Something to keep in mind is that you don't use it to stack on top of a wound or wrap around it.  You take your finger and shove the QC gauze down in the wound.  Pack it in there deep and tight.  Then apply 5-10 lbs of pressure to it for five minutes.  Do not remove the gauze - let the ER docs do that.


Prepper Expo

I rode up to Fredericksburg today for a Preparedness Expo held in conjunction with a gun show.  The place was packed!  I haven't been to a gun show in a couple of years, but it looked like prices were way down.  One thing that struck me was the colors available... light tan, dark tan, gray, turquoise, navy, pink, red, leopard print, zebra stripes (anyone grow up in the 70s/80s in Va. and the Carolinas remember Franc White on The Southern Sportsman show with the zebra stripe canoe, Jeep and Piper Cub?  But I digress...)  There was a good selection of prepper gear like first aid stuff, water purification, crappy knives, good quality knives, and carrying bags and packs.  There was also a fair amount of wilderness or primitive survival gear.

I bought a really cool steel target thing that kind of looks like a large caltrop with discs on each point that tumbles when you shoot it.  I'll try to get a video review out soon on it.  I also got a Rite in the Rain notebook and a R.A.T.S. Rapid Application Tourniquet System. I've carried a SWAT-T tourniquet for years, but it really is difficult to use on yourself and get it tight enough.  I've trained with a CAT tourniquet also, and it is easier to use on yourself, but it is more expensive and takes up too much room for EDC.  It is great for a car kit or in a BOB o4 72 hour kit.  Anyway, back tot he RATS... I've never used one but a friend is a former paramedic and he swears by the RATS for its compact carry, and how easy it is to self-apply.  It comes in a variety of colors, and I got orange so that it is easy to find in my computer bag and will be easily noticed by rescuers if I ever have to use it.

The Preparedness Expo side of the show was a series of speakers with presentations on everything from small scale homesteading and bee keeping to active shooter preparedness to winter car emergency kit building.  This company does gun shows almost every weekend, and has been doing several of these prepper expos each year.  This was my first, but I think I will look into trying to get a speaking gig at an upcoming event.



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My Preparedness Philosophies

So, who am I, and why do I prep?

I'll turn 49 this summer.  I grew up in the suburbs of Richmond, Va. in the 70s and 80s, and spent several summers in the early 80s with my grandparents and cousins in northern Idaho.  I read Soldier of Fortune and American Survival Guide and any gun magazine I could get my hands on.  I got my first gun, a .22 single shot that my grandparents bought in 1936, when I was 12 or so.  I read Mel Tappan and Jerry Ahern, and watched Red Dawn and The Day After.  Under my bed I had my .22 rifle, a Mossberg 500 with a pistol grip stock, and a H&R .22 revolver, along with a couple of canteens, my KaBar, some tuna and sardines, and my backpack with some spare clothes, ammo, and some lifeboat matches.  I wore t-shirts I bought out of SOF, knockoff jungle boots, and Ray Ban aviators.  I "dressed up" to go see Rambo II at the theater.  Yeah, I was "that" kid in high school.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps reserve and turned 18 on Parris Island.  At 22, my artillery unit was activated for Desert Storm and we saw brief, but heavy combat in Kuwait.  From a survival standpoint, I went almost three months without setting foot inside a building, and really tested my body's endurance.  I lost almost 50 lbs in the four months I was overseas.

Once back home, I became a cop, and got back into survivalism.  I got published as a photographer in American Survival Guide, built my firearms skills and collections, did a fair amount of winter camping, but never really set up a solid larder.

In the late 90s I was living in a 80-year-old rented farm house with a couple of other cops.  A little thing called Y2K was on the horizon.  I spent tons of money on guns, gear, food, and supplies.  Two friends and I bought a 900-number and recorded Y2K news and prep tip messages for $2.99 the first minute and .99 for each minute after.  We started our first website, www.SimplifY2K.com.  If the stuff had hit the fan, I would have been sitting pretty, and been the self proclaimed warlord of the small town where I was a cop.  Thankfully, nothing happened.

In the 2000's I got married, bought a rural home with a couple of wooded acres, and got more sensible about prepping.  I'm pretty sure that the Russians will not parachute into a high school football game, and I don't think that I'll be put on a train to the FEMA camp for "reeducation," but...

My main concern now is weather emergencies.  We lose power probably an average of 10 days a year here.  Hurricanes, ice storms, and derecho winds have messed up things around here in the past few years.  My job is about 50% emergency management and planning, so I also look at the big, community picture too.  I think my main philosophy now revolves around a moral imperative to prepare to the highest level that you are able to.  Public resources are limited, and by taking care of ourselves, it leaves more available for those who are unable to care for themselves due to income, disability, old age, etc...  Now, a lot of people who take public aid in a disaster are able to care for themselves, but don't do it because they believe that it is not their responsibility.  I don't think very highly of them.

Other than natural disasters, my two main other focuses are on active killer/mass violence attacks, and wilderness survival.  I completed a masters degree in 2015 and wrote my capstone paper on the evolution of school active shooter response.  Because of my job it is always on my radar.  Because of my background and what I have learned, I know that we can do better about preparing children, school staff, business people... everyone... to respond to an attack.  Teaching children to hide under a table in the dark is teaching them to die.  A few months ago, there was a shooting at an airport.  I don't remember which one.  The airport went into "lockdown."  Video footage showed adults in the terminal, on their hands and knees, hiding their heads under the benches.  You know they were drilled that in school.  I am putting the finishing touches on a school active shooter response training that incorporates run-hide-fight, along with situational awareness and options.  More on that in the future.

On the wilderness survival side of things, I went to Dave Canterbury's Pathfinder school about five years ago and those lessons have stuck with me.  I'm not really a camper anymore, but I enjoy being out in the woods.  Instead of hiding from the Russian invaders, now I want to be found if I get lost or injured out there.  Wilderness survival skills are for those times when the search and rescue folks are looking for you, and you have to stay alive until they get to you.  I am looking into getting involved with a local SAR team in the not too distant future.

I have been away from IfItHitsTheFan for a few years.  Graduate school took most of my time, but I also just plain got burned out from writing something almost every day.  I'm back now.  I won't be every day, but I'm going to shoot for once or twice a week.  I hope you learn something that can help you or your family.  I also hope I keep you entertained.

A couple of other tidbits of background about me... I am the director of the Clan Leatherneck Society and Foundation.  We are a Virginia non-profit corporation and are awaiting 501(c)3 charity status from the IRS.  Our objective is to Celebrate Celtic Heritage and Marine Corps Traditions, while providing aid to Marines in need.  That includes, active, veteran, families, and FMF corpsmen.  So yes, I wear a kilt sometimes.  Check us out at www.ClanLeatherneck.com.  I'm a big fan of old school pro wrestling.  I grew up with Blackjack Mulligan, Ricky Steamboat, and Baron Von Raschke in Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling.  I don't give two hoots about WWE, but I really enjoy going to the local independent matches around here.  I've got a '72 Jeep Commando that I love to tinker with and cruise during nice weather.  It is EMP proof, but in reality, I figure the roads will be so clogged that I couldn't get around them anyway.  My wife and I love our quiet, rural life.  And I still have that 1936 .22 that I got when I was 12.


Political Prepping

You might think that this post is going to be about the riots surrounding the inauguration in DC last night and today.  But no.  Other than staying the heck away (Don't go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things - Bryan Black), there is not a whole lot to prep for with something like that.

This is about reaching out to your elected servants (I hate calling them elected leaders or officials - they are there to serve us, their employers) and telling them what is important to you.

This past Monday was the traditional Lobby Day for the Virginia General Assembly.  Every year, interest groups and individuals converge on the state capital to tell their elected servants what issues are important to them and how they want their servants to vote.  This year, as I have on many other years, I was there with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, advocating for 2nd Amendment rights.  There were between 750 and 1,000 people wearing bright orange "Guns Save Lives" stickers circulating in the halls, meeting with delegates and senators, and then gathering on the capital lawn for a rally with political speakers.  This year's speakers were candidates for Attorney General, Lt. Governor, and Governor for this year's election.  Also Congressman Dave Brat was there speaking about the fight in Washington.  Nearly everyone was carrying loaded firearms, and many of the speakers commented how they were in the safest spot in Virginia right then.

Other interest groups I saw included hemophilia, alternative fuel toll road discounts, special education, motorcyclists, and of course, the anti gun people.  I'm sure there were many other points of view represented.

It is always great to be a part of Lobby Day and joining in with others for a day of fellowship and making our voices heard.  But one day is not enough.  The people in that building work for me.  If I don't tell them what I think, how will they know.  I have my state delegate, senator, AG, Lt. Gov. and Gov. phone numbers and emails stored in my phone.  I have my US representative and senators in my phone also.  Anytime I get wind of a bill that affects or interests me I call and/or email them.  I know that I waste my efforts on Kaine and Warner in the US Senate... they are opposed to everything I stand for, but it is my duty as their employer to tell them what I want and then work to ensure they lose their jobs in the future.

Even if you do not vote, you are still a tax payer and those people still work for you.  Whatever issue concerns you, let them know.  Guns, farming, home schooling, big-pharma... anything that you want them to vote a certain way on... they won't know unless you tell them.  And THEY WORK FOR YOU.

This website can get you contact information for everyone from your local elected board of supervisors or city council all the way up to the president: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials


Chicken Sitting

One of the best things about living in the country is having good neighbors.  Granted, not all are good, but the ones we have are great.  They have a flock of 22 chickens of a variety of breeds and got in to bee keeping last year.  The eggs are always great and the first batch of honey was delicious.  When they go out of town, we take care of the critters for them.  I call it chicken sitting.  It's easy.  I let the chickens out of the coop before I leave for work and make sure they are secured and have food and water when it gets dark.  That's also when I gather the eggs.  This evening, I brought home 15 eggs.  One of them was the size of a daggone duck egg!  Watch my quickee video (here) to see just how big.  And yes, it was delicious.  

Weather Update

Saturday we had 11" of snow.  Sunday it was below zero.  Today, Thursday, it was 72... Welcome to Virginia!


Last Minute Winter Car Emergency Kit

I had to make a winter car emergency kit because I have a loaner AWD from work for the next couple of days and didn't get my normal kit out of my other car.  Check out this video showing how I put the kit together with gear I have laying around the shop.  It is not ideal, but based on the circumstances, this one ought to do me fine for a couple of days.

What Magazines am I Reading These Days?

Call me old school (or old skool if you are hip and trendy...) but I still really enjoy a magazine rather than reading "e-zines" and what not.  The one downfall to magazines is that I want to save them all because "I'm going to want to use the info in that article again someday."  As a result, I save magazines and fill up boxes and bags, then about 10 years later I get frustrated with all the storage space getting taken up, and I throw a bunch of them out.  I need to start cutting out articles and filing them by subject.  But I don't know that I will ever be that organized.

Anyway, what do I read on a regular basis that might be of interest to you?

Mother Earth News: Great information on sustainable living, homesteading, gardening, cooking, with a left wing point of view.  If you can get past the politics or if those politics are also yours, this is a great magazine.

Backwoods Home: Similar types of information that is in Mother Earth News, but with a libertarian point of view.   Again, if you can get past the politics or if those politics are also yours, this is a great magazine.  The first thing I always turn to is the "Irreverent Joke Page."  They have recently spun off another magazine, Self Reliance, but I have not yet tried that one.

Backwoodsman: I love this magazine.  It reminds me of the metal detecting and old west magazines from the 50s and 60s, with a lot of the articles written by readers about their personal experiences.  It has a very homey feel to it.  The articles focus a lot on primitive living skills, improvised hunting and fishing, shelters, and homestyle foods.  In addition to the reader-written articles, they also have articles by well-known survival and preparedness writers.

American Frontiersman: It only comes out twice a year, but this is a nice magazine with lots of information on primitive and wilderness skills, living off the land, and product reviews.

In the past few years, since If It Hits The Fan has been on hiatus, my interests have shifted some.  I'm not really concerned about the Red Dawn/FEMA Camp/Zombie Apocalypse, but I really want to focus more on general preparedness and sustainability, with more "dirt time."  I think these magazines are giving me inspiration and information that guide me down that path.

What are some of your favorite mags?  Please share in the comments section.

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

We ended up with 11 inches of snow here on Saturday.  There was some radient melting on Sunday, but the temp never broke the mid 20s.  Last night we had record cold of 0, beating the 1 degree record that was set in 1940.  Today (Monday) it might hit 30, and down in the teens tonight.  Looking forward to the expected sunny and mid-60s on Thursday and Friday!


Product Review Video: Pathfinder Search and Rescue Tarp

Please go to the link above to watch our new YouTube video of a review of the Pathfinder Search and Rescue Tarp.  The tarp is very well made of a sturdy, but lightweight ripstop material with reflective edges, loops, and corner Pathfinder logos.  It is a great item to have in your day pack to provide shelter and aid in your rescue if your hike in the woods turns in to an unexpected camping trip due to getting lost or injured.

The tarp is $139.99 and is available from Self Reliance Outfitters

If you order one, please tell them that you heard about it here.


The sunny south is snowed it.  At my home in rural, central Virginia, today we got 11" of snow, and the temperature was in the mid-20s for most of the day.  The snow has stopped, but tonight it will get down in the low teens, not get above freezing Sunday or Monday, and be single digits Sunday night and in the teens Monday night.  Not a big deal for some parts of the country, but things will be shut down here for several days, at least until we get in the 50s and 60s later in the week.  Glad we have plenty of supplies laid in so we avoided the rush for bread, eggs and milk with everyone else on Friday! ;)


Haven't posted anything in a LONG time!  Since then, I've gotten a new job where I am heavily involved in emergency management and I finished my master's degree in Emergency & Disaster Management.

You are going to start hearing from me again.  Not every day, but once or twice a week.  Stop by tomorrow and see what I have in store first...