Thursday, October 27, 2016

Home Front: Home defence and preparedness.

The folks atSimpliSafe home security, have done a lot to help everyone understand the importance of protection. This month, they're having everyone think about the subject and hear how we'd survive if we found ourselves in one of our favorite scary movies or shows. I wanted to give you all my take on what items would you utilize to protect yourself and your home in the case of a zombie apocalypse or lawless nation?"

The idea being how it's hard to find accurate survival movies, and we can all agree there is nothing worse than an incompetent character trying to survive in a film. Being such an avid survivalist myself, or at least a vocal one, I wanted to give my take on protecting my home from the most terrifying of scenarios. Bug-in-style.

So first up, lets talk scenario:
Without going too supernatural, in which a lot of options are right out, I'd like to go for a grounded, realistic and scary situation, the top of my list would sit at the 28 Days later or Dawn of the Dead style zombie apocalypse: mass casualties, civil disarray, utilities slowly winding down as infrastructure collapses, total lawlessness, and fast, savage, infectious and hungry semi-living foes.

Not a lot of lead up, maybe a couple of days at most as the situation escalated from "this just in..." news on the TV to "martial law" and then "....static ..." of the fall of civilisation. Sure it would be possible to talk about "how to best make a fort, but I've covered that kind of thing before. This situation is "hey, the world just ended, how do you make your house safer?"

Aside from providing a secure wireless security system, the folks at SimpliSafe had this cool Layered Defense presentation that made a lot of sense, in a regular world security perspective, and I thought I'd build on that:

  1.  The Safe Room: safe, flashlight, mobile phone.
  2.  Inside the house: TV & lamp timers, hidden valuables, obstruction under windows, heavy drapes, wireless alarm systems.
  3.  Walls, Doors & Windows: Garage with multiple locks, solid reinforced doors, waring signs, security film, keyed window locks.
  4.  The Grounds: security lights, gravel, outdoor lighting, prickly plants, dog.
  5.  Locked gates: low level fencing, more warning signs.
  6.  The neighbourhood: Know your neighbours, street lighting, neighbourhood watch.

So that's a lot of good points. Do we have a "safe room" well, given the layout of the house, the best option is probably Tactical baby's room, which has a single window facing the side of the house next to us, and no access to it elsewhere. Protection through obscurity.

More on the neighbours houses later ...
Inside the house we have a lot of things covered, blinds and locks, including sliding windows blocked with rods dropped into the rails to prevent unwanted sliding, even if unlocked. In this situation, you wouldn't want timers switching lights ON at night, but rather, OFF, to obscure your presence, even if there were still mains power.

Our grounds could do with some serious work, but the solid wall of houses on one side acting as a double protection, the biggest concerns are the bay-window facing the street.

My plan would be to barricade this inside and out, using futon-bed slats as a basis to bar it and layers of cladding to seal it up. Higher windows aren't as much of a concern, except for noise and light discipline.  Our backyard fence is a bit rickety, but can be reinforced from the inside, and materials salvaged from our shed could also assist in reinforcing it, and barricading. In the worst case, we could just fall back, and barricade the back of the house, abandoning the back-yard. If I could rig up hurricane fencing, even on the inside of the wooden slat fence, I'd be a lot happier. as its a rental, the chances of getting the fence replaced is pretty slim.

Our front yard, with its white picket fence, and big windows presents its own problems. Not high enough or strong enough to obscure the home, or repel hordes, it does offer a buffer, and allows you some visibility as to what's going on. By reinforcing and barricading the windows, again, with shed walls, and bed-slats, you could quickly rig up a hurricane and zombie resistant house-front.

We recently replaced the aging fly-wire and aluminium frame screen door, with a steel mesh and framed security door, complete with new wooden beams to fit it to, giving us a much more secure front entrance. Coupled with our Strike Plate lock, the front door is more secure now.

Here's where my plans get devious. Given the scenario laid out, our home isn't great, defensively, but my neighbors house is. Walled in by our house, and their other side neighbors, and again at the back. Walled garden at the back. Solar power, rain tanks. Roof access between their and ours (the gap is only about 1.5m).

If the world came to a horrid, zombie infested end? We'd secure our place as best we could, and make plans to move one house over. Know your neighbors. Know your neighborhood. Be well respected, appreciated and valued. Look out for each other and be ready to help when called, and you'll be welcomed in times of adversity, AND know where the best bolt-holes are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Home Front: shipping containers

I've briefly covered the use of shipping containers as houses, but I wanted to go into them in a little bit more depth. About 80% of the world's containers are either 6.1m, twenty foot or 12.2m, forty foot standard length boxes of the dry freight design. These typical containers are rectangular, closed box models, with doors fitted at one end, and made of corrugated weathering steel (commonly known as CorTen).
Weathering steel refers to the chemical composition of these steels, allowing the steel to rust in order to form the protective coating.

The containers are typically lined with a plywood floor, but bare walled and ceilinged. Corrugating the sheet metal used for the sides and roof contributes significantly to the container's rigidity and stacking strength, just like in corrugated iron or in cardboard boxes.

Standard containers are 2.44 m (8') wide by 2.59 m 8'6" high, although the taller "High Cube" or "hi-cube" units measuring 2.90 m (9'6") have become very common in recent years.
By the end of 2013, high-cube 40 ft containers represented almost 50% of the world's maritime container fleet, according to Drewry's Container Census report.

ISO containers have castings with openings for twistlock fasteners at each of the eight corners, to allow gripping the box from above, below, or the side, and they can be stacked up to ten units high. Regional intermodal containers, such as European and U.S. domestic units however, are mainly transported by road and rail, and can frequently only be stacked up to three laden units high. Although the two ends are quite rigid, containers flex somewhat during transport.
Their standardised design, high strength and durability materials, makes the use of shipping containers for domestic repurposing quite appealing. They can be stacked, staggered and arranged. The corrugated steel can be welded, cut and shaped, and the heavy beams at each corner and the solid base give you the ability to completely cut away the sides to give a open-plan effect.

The rest of the stats of the containers give you an idea of their workability, as far as architectural use goes: A 40' container weighs 3,800 kg and has a capacity of 67.5 m³, and are typically rated to have a net load of 26,200 kg. That's a lot of capacity. The internal dimensions are 12.03m x 2.35m x 2.38m, and externally 12.2m x 2.44m x 2.59m.

Converting them into homes isn't anything new, and there are loads of resources to review plans and different configurations are widely available.
There is also some good advice about what NOT to do with your shipping container, namely burying them, because they are not designed to take loads on the sides or middles of the panels, rather than on their stacking corner posts.
There are also the issues with the containers "floating" if buried, let alone at sea, if they fall off the back of a ship, which apparently happens more often than anyone wants, but other than that, they are very versatile, and readily available, rapidly pre-fabricated units.

They are, however, not designed to be bulletproof, and the folks from Civil Advantage put them to the test in the following video.
However, if you really need that kind of thing going on, there are of course, options. However, all told, it looks like they are robust, resilient and readily available home construction alternative. I think I would really like to do this at some stage, at least a two storied construction, and in my minds eye, a horse-shoe style two-story building, which can be buttoned up securely at the ground level.
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: BladeTech TEK-LOK Belt Clamping Unit

When it comes to keeping extra gear on my person, and I am not wearing one of my PALS equipped belts, like the subtle SICC belt or the more hooah Condor GEN1 battle belt there are times when you still want to have a well mounted piece of gear, with a more regular belt, even if its the dual-purpose PM Leather hobble Belt ...

When you want to mount carry something with any really weight on a belt, there are really two things that you need to take into account, the strength and stiffness of the belt, and the weight, and method of use  of the item to be carried.

A stable platform, such as that produced by Bladetech in the TEK-LOK belt clamping unit. This is a high density polymer belt clip that allows the user to fasten virtually any kind of load to a regular belt.

The principle is simple. A clam shell hinged design allows the user to quickly and easily slip the mounting over a belt in place, and closes at the bottom, with first a pair of pinch-to-open horns and then a latch that folds up and around, locking the horns from pinching open, both of which are held against the body when worn, keeping them protected from any conceivable accidental release. Inside the clip there are a run of holes cut into the back face, into which two rubberised spacers which can be placed at a variety of spots in order to give the best hold on the belt, as well as eliminating slippage or wobble.

The business side of the clip however is the the flat faced plate which is dotted with a 3 x 3 grid of holes, through which rivets, screws and bolts can be threaded and fitted to the eyelets fitted to many of the  holsters, magazine carriers, phone holsters, knife sheaths and many other types of accessories that you will want to fit to belts and carry around with you. The inside face is recessed so your boltheads don't interfere with the belt, and ensure a safe and secure connection.

With bolts, and rubber spacers you can affix in many different combinations to allow you to set up whatever you are carrying to suit your needs, space and usage you had in mind.

The inner face of the TEK-LOK is slightly curved to marry with the body contours, the width of the top edge of the clip means it offers a stable platform, which as the load increases, becomes more and more important. I set mine up with my HHA ASOT-01 knife as an example and it ran really nicely.

One thing you'll find though is that you are at the mercy of the holster, sheath and carrier manufacturers, as the holes in the item to be mounted will determine how and where you can use the TEK-LOK, so bear that in mind, and if possible, try before you buy to ensure you get a good fit!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Grey Ghost Gear - 6x8 Utility Pouch

I took a bunch of Grey Ghost Gear pouches out for a hike up the easy daytrip, but possibly haunted Hanging Rock State Park, with my family, I wore pouches which I fitted out with a variety of hiking goods, in order to carry whatever needfulls I might have needed on the trip.

The pouches were filled with a variety of hiking goods, whatever I might have needed on the trip. One pouch I used was the 6×8 Utility Pouch .

The 6x8 Utility Pouch is designed to hold a variety of items, from medical supplies, a 1 quart GI canteen, Nalgene bottle, or other miscellaneous items. I put a 1L Nalgene in mine, as I wanted to stay hydrated on my hike up and down, as well as any clambering I'd be doing.  Up and down rockfaces, into ravines and meandering through the alpine bush.

Read the rest of the review here on Breach Bang & Clear: 

The pouch held up pretty well on my trip, and since, although I found that the 1L Nalgene bottle was a snug fit, and made for a tight zippering, which meant that a couple of times if I didn't zip it up tight it came loose, but I caught it before I lost my bottle. A 1 quart canteen fit easily enough, but I wanted more capacity than that.

Thanks to Anthony for the photography! You'll be seeing more of his work in this series...

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