Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miscellany: Mulliga's Urban Survival Kit, Part 4

While my blog is mainly about escaping the mundane through art and adventure, this series of posts addresses "escape" in a more literal sense. Here, I present my ideas on a lightweight, inexpensive collection of items for surviving an urban or suburban disaster. Part 1 introduced the concept and went into my choice for the survival kit's container. Part 2 discussed some options for your first aid kit. Part 3 examined water and food. We also looked at some books on survival. Part 4 features some clothing accessories for your kit. Since I live in Florida, I'm mostly concerned about sun and heat protection - people in colder climes might have to think more about staying warm:


The urban jungle is filled with sharp, hard surfaces. Asphalt, chain link fences, and pieces of broken glass can slice your hands into ribbons if you're not wearing a decent pair of gloves. That's why I like to pack as many pairs in my kit as space will allow. I look for finger dexterity (can I make a cell phone call while wearing them?) and abrasion resistance (try sliding your palms on a concrete sidewalk - is the material giving way?).

Nylon Baseball Cap

Unless your workplace is in the middle of a forest of skyscrapers, the daytime sun will likely be beating down on you as you attempt to evacuate out of a disaster-stricken city. A lightweight, nylon cap will give you some shade and won't take up much room in your kit. Avoid the cheap all-cotton hats - they hold in heat and take forever to dry. Here's one cap that I highly recommend:

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap Review

The Sun Runner is the latest in a long line of legionnaire's caps. Most famously associated with the French Foreign Legion, these caps have an extra curtain of fabric attached to the brim that blocks out the sun in harsh conditions (Ivan Lendl wore a makeshift one that helped him win the Australian Open in oppressive Melbourne heat).

Here, the mesh curtain attaches positively with two button snaps - a huge plus. The curtain can hold the heat in a little at the start, but once it's absorbed a little of your sweat, it becomes fairly cool. The cap itself is a standard adjustable ballcap with a velcro strap, though the Sun Runner isn't one-size-fits-all (I wear the XL size, for instance). All in all, it's a good choice, but a little pricey - try to find it on sale.


In very high temperatures, even a baseball cap may not absorb enough sweat. You can wear a bandana as a headband or simply wipe your face periodically. There are a 1,001 other uses for bandanas, of course - you can also improvise a sling for a broken arm, staunch bleeding, or carry things hobo-style.


Most people already have a pair or two, but it's still a good idea to keep an extra pair in your kit. The fancier kinds can even double as rudimentary eye protection. If you wear contacts or prescription lenses, it's also important to carry a spare, lest you be forced into a live-action reenactment of the ending of the "Twilight Zone" episode "Time Enough at Last":

Sunscreen/Lip Balm

These items are cheap, compact, and last for awhile. They're also lifesavers if you find yourself out in the sun. The $1.00 travel size sunscreen tubes will fit in all but the smallest survival kits.


Depending on what happens, you might be exposed to some loud noises - rescuers going through concrete with bulldozers, crowds of people, large trucks, etc. Ear protection will help you preserve your hearing and your sanity. Additionally, when you do finally get a chance to sleep, it might be in an airport, a bus terminal, a public school, or some other shelter area. It'll be much easier to catch needed Zs with earplugs.

That's it for Part 4. Part 5 will hit on signaling and navigation tools. See you next time!


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