First Aid Kits

My ex used to ask, whenever I took gloves or a flashlight, or some other tool out of my car, why I’m “so prepared.” My answer was always, “I have this stuff in case I need it.” I’ve also been teased by coworkers for having things in my possession for dealing with minor inconveniences like hangnails. The scanner went down needing the rollers cleaned. The manufacturer sells something to clean the rollers but the employer didn’t bother to purchase it. What they did have was a can of denatured alcohol, but no swabs. I keep a few swabs in my bag. I took them out and started cleaning the rollers so we could keep working. I travel fairly light. So I have what I consider a minimum of preps, and one of those things is a first aid kit.

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I look at things like pocked knives, pens, watches, and first aid kits as little insurance policies. They’re there when I need them, but many times I don’t. All of my workplaces have been in offices and rarely do the first aid kits stay stocked. They start out new and within a few months you’re down to one alcohol wipe and a single glove. Now some businesses stay on top of this. But usually, when I need something, it’s not there.

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I take this kit with me on the trail for my hikes. I don’t get headaches or upset stomachs very often, but there’s aspirin, ibuprofen, antacids, a couple different kinds of antibiotic/antimicrobial ointments, some gauze, bandages, alcohol wipes, scissors, tape, and tweezers. If I can’t patch up my problem with what’s in here, then I need help.

Some things expire and have to be replaced before I use them the first time. That’s the idea…the having, not the use.

Today's EDC

wpid-2015-01-23-09.26.59.jpg.jpegI’m working on a project at my mother’s house after work so I added the Leatherman Blast, Coleman Max flashlight, and Kershaw 3/4 Ton knife to my EDC. I suspect I’ll use the light more than the others.

wpid-wp-1422027730834.jpegNormally I just carry my base-level items in the Griffin earbud pouch. But today those aren’t sufficient for what I have to deal with. I am still considering doing a formal rotation, which I’ll roll out here later on.

That's a knife

This is a clip from the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee where Mick and Susan run across some muggers. One of them takes out a stiletto and demands Mick’s wallet. Mick pulls out a large hunting knife and says, “…there, now that’s a knife.” It’s a blade for use in the field, not something I’d carry for EDC. I live and work in an urban environment and a blade of that size would attract unwanted attention. But a knife doesn’t have to be very big at all to do that. I was in the post office years ago and I took a Swiss Army knife out of my pocket to open some mail. A woman walked in, saw me cutting the flap on an envelope, stopped and shuddered. She actually looked afraid of a 3-inch pocket knife. It’s a common brand, not something anyone should see as a threat. recruit_1251_generalHer reaction was irrational. The thing is, she’s not alone. It’s a form of aichmophobia, or a fear of sharp things and I believe it results from post-modern conditioning. We live in an overly convenient world. Everything is handed to us. It’s all supposed to be safe, secure, and a world where, as one blogger put it, “unicorns ride rainbows and poop Skittles.” A few years ago, I offered to sell a coworker an extra Leatherman multi-tool that I had. She said, “…No. Somebody might take it from me and stab me with it.” That’s irrational. Someone can take your pen and stab you with it. Do you keep it in your desk drawer where it is handy, or is it in a double-key locked vault with security needed to escort you to it, so you can jot down something, and then escort you back to your desk? This coworker also said that people shouldn’t have anything that is potentially dangerous. This is the same person who when she leaves work, goes and gets in a car, one of the most dangerous tools on the planet. But I guess that doesn’t count. It’s like people want a painless, padded cell existence with a Novocaine and Morphine sprinkler system in the ceiling? You’re going to get hurt. You’ll fall down. Skinned knees, scrapes, cuts, and broken bones are part of being alive. You don’t stay in doors and never come out. You just try to not hurt yourself that way again.

I’ve cut myself many times with knives. It took a while for me to realize that the problem wasn’t the knife, it was me. It happens whenever I am trying to cut something when I cannot see the blade. It was a lesson I had to learn and it took spilling some blood and using up some Band-Aids to learn it. Avoiding, or refusing to own and use blades isn’t the answer. It’s the stupid. It will hurt you. How many people have gotten cuts in the kitchen, trying to chop food the way it’s done by chefs on television? The words “Don’t try this at home” exist for a reason. That chef is someone who understands all the tools she is working with. Her knives are high quality and very sharp. She’s practiced rapid slicing of foods and has gotten good at it. I remember trying to chop a carrot on a cutting board the way the Asian chef did on his show. I never found the piece that went airborne. Then I had to carefully slice the rest.

If you use it properly, a knife is an amazing tool, and in many situations you’ll be glad to have it. The proper emotions are gratitude and respect, not fear. The gratitude is to the designers and makers, the respect is for what it can do for you, or to you, if you misuse it. It’s something I think everyone should have and know how to use.



EDC: A minimalist approach

wpid-img_20150114_110735.jpgThis week I’m carrying the miniature, or keychain versions of my tools. Urban Prepper mentioned something called a “prepper bulge” during his video on the Altoids Smalls Urban EDC Tin. As I’ve carried tools I have become intimately familiar with this concept. I have to admit, some days I don’t use some tools at all. Does that mean it’s time to remove that item from my kit and not carry it? No. For the times when I don’t use something, it’s there in case I need it.

This selection seems to be enough for the moment. I have been considering an EDC rotation but I have not yet decided how to go about that. The random, grab-and go, scenario doesn’t seem practical to me. I may add full size tools to my bag so that when I am carrying the smaller tools I have larger ones nearby.