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.

EDC on a budget – The Surplus Store

Picking up on Thursday’s post on the whys of EDC, I visited the State Surplus Store, which is where some confiscated items from TSA end up. I didn’t take any pictures in there. Think of any swap meet/flea market/mass garage sale and you have a pretty good picture of what it all looked like. There were several bins and tubs with knives and multi-tools in piles, roughly separated by type.

The best way to shop here is to go in knowing more or less what you want. It’ll look like several piles of junk at first, so you’ll need to spend some time looking through the bins. My guess is that the pricing is on a par with most pawn shops and ranges from $1 to $25. Your lower priced tools are going to be the generic and lesser known brands with the full-size multi-tools costing $25.

I bought a knife and a keychain multi-tool for $4 + tax. Any used tool needs to be cleaned thoroughly once you get it home and the cleaning can take some time.

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Metro Whitaker by Buck.

Knives – Things to look for:

Chipped blades
Modified blades
Blades with play

Chipped blades can be professionally ground. It won’t look like the original but you won’t see the chip. It’s a knife, not  a prybar. But people forget that. Modified blades can have added or custom serrations, sharpened swedges, custom jimping added to the back. A sharpened swedge can make the knife illegal to carry in your city or state. Check the laws on this. Blades with play may have been used for prying. This can sometimes be adjusted or repaired but it lowers the overall performance of the tool.

Bear in mind that you’re buying a used blade for $1-8 which retails for $20 or more. The cost of repairs could exceed the price of a new one. Sometimes it’s best to save up and buy new.

The Metro Whitaker by Buck lists an MSRP of $25.95 on their website. It retails for around $18-20. The blade is 420HC steel. The frame has decent jimping and a lanyard hole. This one looks like it had only been used to open packages.

Note: I saw a pile of CardSharp folding credit card knives. That tells me they’re not slipping by TSA in people’s wallets as easily as some might think.

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The Micra by Leatherman

Multi-tools – Things to look for:

Tool blades missing or broken
Modifications to tool blades
Tool blades with play

These tools have their limits. They’re useful for quick fixes but aren’t the answer for every job. As a result, sometimes a blade will break. If you’re paying $3 for something you might forgive an imperfection like a missing tweezer. A full-size tool priced at $25 at this store needs to be well inspected.

The Micra by Leatherman retails for around $20. It falls in the category of an introductory, or keychain tool. It has tweezers, a file, screwdrivers, a knife, a ruler, and it’s primary tool is the scissors. The Surplus Store has them priced at $3.

If you’re thinking of buying something, to “fix it up” and resell it, this is not the place for that. You’d be better off checking garage sales as the people usually just want the stuff gone and will charge less for it.

Get a tool. Carry it. You’ll find many answers to the question, “What would I use it for?”