Surviving the Disaster Golden Hour – Part 4, by J.M.

(Continued from Part 3.)

One piece of kit that almost everyone has with them all the time is a cell phone, and there are a number of ways it can be useful in an emergency:

  • This may sound obvious, but if the situation warrants it and you can safely do so, call for help! If you’re trapped by a fire on the upper floor of a tall building, the 911 operator can usually connect you with emergency personnel on the scene who may be able to rescue you or provide guidance on a safe route for you to take.
  • If it’s an event like an earthquake that impacts a larger area, the cell lines may be tied up (if they’re working at all). In these instances you may have better luck sending a text message, since those require a lot less bandwidth, and many 911 services have added texting support in the last few years. The FCC maintains a list of all text message-enabled 911 locations.
  • Install a mapping application download copies of relevant local maps in case you need to find an alternate route to escape a larger-scale disaster. My preference is Osmand+ since it’s based on crowd-sourced maps, but there are a lot of other options available.
  • Make sure emergency broadcasts are enabled on your phone, and install and configure some relevant emergency alerting apps. Here are some examples:
  • Install a loud sound generator app that can make it easier for rescuers to find you.

My phone these days is a Ulefone Armor 7 that’s IP68 ruggedized, waterproof and has a battery that lasts 4-5 day of normal use, all of which should increase the chances it’ll be working in an emergency. If you don’t have a ruggedized phone you should at least look into getting a ruggedized case for your current phone, since carrying it around in the back pocket of your skinny jeans will significantly increase the odds of it being broken when you need it most. And if you’re the kind of person who waits for your phone’s battery to die before charging it, you may want to consider getting in the habit of making sure it’s at least half-charged at all times.

In addition my everyday carry (EDC) rescue kit and cell phone I also put together a scenario-specific kit whenever I’m heading anywhere for any length of time. Like my EDC I make sure I always have it with me when I’m while enroute and out and about at my destination; I usually fit it into a Maxpedition Beefy Pocket Organizer or the various pockets of my jacket/smock/backpack (Note: that’s why my Leo Kohler smock is my absolute favorite 3-season jacket – 7 large bellows pockets let me carry a lot of stuff with me). What’s in it depends a lot on where I’m going and what’s allowed, but the following are the contents of my urban kit:

  • Boker Plus Cop Tool – I received this as a gift a while back, and at first I wasn’t too sure about its utility but I’ve grown to like it so much that I now frequently carry it as part of my EDC kit. From a rescue perspective it has a super-sharp serrated blade, a seatbelt cutter, a carbide glass breaker, a sharp chisel tip, and probably most importantly, it’s a great heavy-duty pry bar. I’ve tested it out prying open things like elevators, cabinets and doors, and when combined with a shove knife (see next item), I can open a lot of types of doors that might stand between me and escape. I’d love to be able to carry my Becker BK3 or Gerber Downrange Tomahawk with me, but they’re too big to be practical for most EDC situations. If you want a compact pry bar but don’t want the Boker there are other options available like the OKC Para-Pry Tool, Schrade SCHPB1BK and REAPR.
  • Shove knife – In case you have to get through locked doors to get to safety. Like any tool you need to practice with it to get the most use out of it. There are some decent videos on the Interweb on how to use it.
  • Gloves – You may have to climb or move sharp/hot debris out of your way, so I carry a set of gloves. My choice is the Mechanix Pursuit D5 cut-resistant gloves, but you could easily go with a pair of standard deerskin work gloves.
  • Headlamp – Yes, I have a flashlight with me, but there may be situations where you need both hands free. My choice is the Petzl Zipka – it provides up to 200 lumens, and the head band is a retractable line so it’s one of the most compact headlamps you can buy.
  • Glow stick – Another source of light that works even underwater, and you can toss it or attach it to a string to light up areas you can’t reach. Alternatively, you could use something like the Nite Ize battery-powered glow stick.
  • Particulate mask – This is to supplement the smoke hood I mentioned above in case I need to filter my breathing for longer than 15-20 minutes. I prefer one with a band that attaches behind the neck for a better seal, and with exhalation valves to improve breathability. If you want something that’s even more compact but doesn’t necessarily provide the same level of filtration you could go with nose filters (but you’ll need to make sure you don’t breathe through your mouth). You could also go with the standard wet bandana to cover your mouth/nose, if that’s all you have with you.
  • Goggles – I looked long and hard for a set of goggles that could completely seal around my eyes to protect them from airborne particulates but be compact enough to carry in my kit, and what I ended up with were swim goggles. If you wear glasses you can get these with a prescription, but it’s not cheap. An improvised alternative to goggles would be to cut the filter part off of your smoke hood and put a large rubber band around it to hold it over the top of your head and cover your eyes. A friend of mine suggested non-vented skydiving goggles, but I’ve never tried a pair so you’ll have to decide for yourself. Regardless of the type of goggles you use you’ll want to make sure they’re treated with some kind of anti-fog coating so they don’t fog up on you.
  • Line/carabiner – I know I’m going to get some feedback in the comments for recommending this, but I also carry 50’ of 1200lb test Kevlar line and a 12kN wiregate carabiner (supports roughly 3000lb static weight) in case I need to get down from some height. I put the carabiner through my belt and wrap the line around the carabiner and behind my back and use it to rappel. And yes, you have to use gloves if you do this. I have tested this set up out (wearing a safety line and on belay with a climbing buddy), and it supported me through a dozen 20’-30’ rappels. WARNING: THIS OPTION SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A LAST RESORT WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE IF YOU DON’T GET DOWN – DO NOT USE THIS SETUP FOR ANY OTHER CLIMBING ACTIVITIES!
  • Impulse ear plugs – These allow you hear noises at a normal level but provide some protection from sudden loud noises. I like the Safariland
  • Water bottle – I always have a water bottle with me, which can be useful for washing out wounds or cleaning debris out of your eyes.
Scanning Ability is Crucial

As I mentioned previously, having the ability to listen in on radio conversations between first responders, facility personnel, etc. can provide you with critical situational knowledge that can improve your odds of survival in some scenarios. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to install an app like Scanner Radio Pro or Broadcastify Police Scanner Pro on your mobile device. Both of these apps allow you to select from a list of public service radio ‘channels’ that are closest to your geographical location, but they’re limited to radio services for police, fire, EMS, etc. – they won’t necessarily provide you with access to radio traffic from local building/facility services. In order to access the complete range of radio traffic you’ll need to carry a handheld scanner radio, and preferably one that supports scanning of digital and trunked radio systems. Most public service agencies, especially in more densely populated areas, are moving to trunked radio systems, and a lot of building and facility management teams are moving to Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) or mixed digital/analog systems.

My handheld scanner of choice is the Uniden BCD325P2, which is a compact 2xAA handheld that lets you listen in on pretty much any radio signal (digital, analog & trunked) that’s not encrypted; other handheld options with similar capabilities include the Uniden SDS100 and Whistler TRX-1. One feature I like on the Uniden is their Close Call technology, which will automatically scan for and play the strongest signal it finds, which is frequently the closest one. If I’m going to be visiting a building or facility for any length of time or I plan on returning there I’ll use Close Call to help me identify the frequencies that the facility and security folks are using and make note of them for future reference. If I’m going to be in an area for a couple of days I’ll create a scan plan for all local emergency services frequencies using FreeScan and and upload it to the radio. One thing you need to be aware of with the Uniden scanners is that out of the box they support scanning most but not all types of digital radio protocols – if you need to be able to scan Provoice EDACS, DMR or NXDN signals you’ll need to buy a software license key upgrade from Uniden. The upgrades cost between $50 and $60 each, but I’ve found that the DMR one seems to be the most widely used.

Digital/trunking radio scanners are expensive (especially if you need to upgrade them), so I recommend that you spend some time at to figure out what frequencies you might need to cover; if you live in a less densely populated area where the emergency services haven’t invested in expensive new digital radio technology you may be able to get by with a less expensive analog scanner radio like the Uniden BC125AT. has a lot of good info for beginners and pretty much complete databases of the different radio frequencies and systems used everywhere around the world.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 5.)


  1. I got what seems a similar phone on Amazon for half the price: OUKITEL WP5 (2020).

    It is big and heavy and has an 8A battery. It is very fast and has worked well on Ting (tmobile) for a month now.

    Supposedly it works underwater, but I don’t swim much in the Winter and also I haven’t dropped it yet. They have a “pro” model for $30 more with lots more memory.

  2. It isn’t over until God says it’s over . He has the first and last Word . Do you think His sword is rusted in His scabbard ? Do you think His arms are so short that they cannot save? Do you think there is no power in the spoken Words of God ? The battlefield is the mind . Satan wants you fearful and filled with anxiety . You will notice Jesus never healed someone without faith . Faith is the key . Having joy and confidence the victory is Gods . Fear not keep faith !

    1. Thank you, Hoosier! You are abso-frickin’-lutely right!!!
      In fact, Father told me yesterday > Trust Me for the outcome!!! how can we not smile and buck up, after that?!
      Blessings to you, from AZ

  3. Plan for the unexpected………emp or a national breakdown and bingo no wireless communications period. While it’s prudent to plan in the present ……let’s also plan for the the unexpected, hard copy backup is 1st and foremost ideal plan. Hard copy maps, hard copy telephone numbers and addresses, hard copy anything that you think essential enough that you keep on your phone. Even hardcopy photos of drivers license, will, memos with direction, etc. physical currency. So many of this generation is 100% dependent on their smart phone. Be smart backup and more backup…redundancy is the job 1 goal.

  4. It sounds like you better have a pocket full of money to get the equipment this guy is taking about. It great to have all the latest “STUFF” but do you really need it? I been at this sense the 1950’s and have been up grading my bags as needed. All the new equipment is great if you can afford it. You can get by with good equipment that will get you from point “A” to “B” with out breaking the bank.

    Gods blessings to you all.


    1. Gman – The point I’ve tried to focus on with this article is that the best things you can do to help you survive an emergency are to get control of your fear/panic and learn some skills that can help you avoid/detect/escape dangerous situations – the gear is just there to help you handle specific scenarios that might come up and doesn’t have to be expensive. You can use a piece of old leaf spring and an angle grinder to make a small pry bar. A shove knife is just a thin piece of flexible steel cut in a certain pattern which you can download from the Internet. You can find deerskin work gloves for a few dollars at Wallyworld. A wet bandana over you mouth can work as an impromptu facemask. You can duct tape a small flashlight to a baseball cap to make a headlamp. The only pieces I’d recommend against trying to make yourself are the individual trauma medical components and the smoke escape hood. My life situation is such that it makes more sense to buy the components then spend the time making them, although I do try to DIY as much as time allows.

      1. The phone for example. The most I ever paid for a cell phone was $7. The one I use now was free. AND it holds it’s charge for months. Well I don’t ever turn it on unless I need to make a call and I only call my bank once a month so it holds it’s charge for months.

          1. Please don’t misinterpret this. I don’t understand why the phone was not over priced in your opinion. I get that many people use their phone all the time but the best feature of my phone is the off switch. What would make a $300-$400 phone worthwhile? I sometimes use the mapping direction feature of the phone to drive directly to a place I’m unfamiliar with but that can be done with my free phone. I can look up stores and restaurants and get phone numbers and call ahead, haven’t done it in years but I could. Would a $400 phone do it better? I truly do not know what I am missing here. I do hike in the middle of nowhere but to be fair I don’t even have cell service at the trail head never mind 6 miles in. Does an Iphone get cell service where my AT&T phone doesn’t? I know there are useful apps but I’m kind of a luddite when it comes to that. But what app do I need and wouldn’t it work on my cheap phone if I decided to download it? So, again, I’m asking because I don’t know, what is it I’m missing here?

          2. 250 – 300 Euro

            The mapping feature in a foreign city can be very valuable, as well as the information for public transport and for outdoor use i prefer an robust, dust, water and schockproof mobile.

          3. But, again, I can get that with my free phone. What can I get from an Iphone (or any really expensive phone) that I need and cannot get if I choose to from my cheap phone (I’d give the name and model but that would mean I would have to go find it and turn it on)? I do accept that the Iphone has a really good camera but the ironic thing is I carry my camera everywhere I go but usually leave the phone at home.

          4. Right after I got my phone, perhaps 5 years ago, I bought a hardened cover for it so it’s pretty shock resistant. I like the idea of a larger battery but as I said the way I use my phone the battery literally stays at 100% for months, a lot longer than 4-5 days. I would sincerely love to hear someone explain what the big buck phones (I guess Iphones are about $1200) can give me that I don’t already have with my free phone. I admit I’m ignorant on this but by the same token no one seems able to tell me anything different.

          5. No one seems to know. I suspect the big deal with the expensive phones is to show them off. I do understand the 24/7 need a couple of my kids stay up until 3 in the morning texting other friends and spend more time on their phone than on there job. I guess I’m just lucky and haven’t caught the text/call/facebook bug and prefer a phone that I control and I can leave it shut off until I need to use it.

          6. 300 € isn´t considered an expensive mobile and i like to be in contact with my family 24/7 for emergencie, communications etc and for work reasons the mobile is very practical.

            The old cable phone is for the same reason near useless at best for me

    2. Gman – I’ve tried to focus mostly on the mental and physical preparations for an emergency, but even the most prepared people may need some tools. It doesn’t have to be expensive – many of the items I discuss you could make or improvise yourself. You could make a small pry bar using a piece of old leaf spring and a grinder, you can cut your own shove knife from a thin piece of spring steel, you can use a wet bandana as a face mask, you can duct tape a small flashlight to a baseball cap for a headlamp, etc. Since you’ve been prepping for so long I’m willing to bet you have a ton of knowledge on how to improvise things.

    3. JM’s advice on scanners, RadioReference etc is very good, especially for urban or suburban dwellers.

      Plus he notes that the cheaper BC125 can be used by rural dwellers where police have not been forced to move to trunked systems because of crowded airwaves.

      You need independent sources of intel in a fast moving situation —plus one that stills works if the power grid , internet and phones systems go down. And scanners do not emit radiation or otherwise betray your location the way transmitters do. Plus their batteries/power plugs can be run off automobile 12 volt batteries. Cheap at the price, in my opinion.

      I prefer the Uniden BDC436 scanner because it can automatically receive your current location from a GPS while traveling and switch to new police/EMS frequencies when you enter a new county. Plus –most importantly — it will accept manual input of latitude/longitude if you don’t have GPS. Lat /long can be taken off a Rand McNally Road Atlas if you know your rough location (e.g, from road signs).
      The scanners (Whistler?) that require entry of Zip Code are not as useful unless you are lugging the huge Post Office zip code directry around (750 pages, several inches thick, 8.5 x 11 )

      I think AM/FM portable radios are also needed, since the government has made efforts since early in the Cold War to ensure certain powerful stations are survivable even in a nuclear war. However, while the info on those broadcasts will be useful , much will also be misleading propaganda put out to maintain the government’s control over the population. Including warning of new laws and draconian punishments.

  5. Editor: The embedded link for Ulefone Armor 7 points to the wrong target. (The airhorn link.)

    “My phone these days is a Ulefone Armor 7 that’s IP68 ruggedized, waterproof and has a battery that lasts 4-5 day of normal use”

  6. While I don’t like smartphones, they can be very useful in an emergency by linking into Google Maps over the Internet and selecting the “Traffic” option. Shows which roads are jammed up and which alternative routes are NOT. Useful even in non-emergencies when a wreck jams things up — lets you know have far ahead the traffic jam extends, estimated time to get through and how long alternate routes would take.

    1. If I understand correctly, the traffic density is directly related to cell phone pinging data. If no cell pinging, no valid data. If I am incorrect here then an actual expert is asked to please let us know.

  7. Regarding goggles. When i was on the swim team we would spit on the inside of the goggles, swish with our finger, rinse and put ’em on. That does the best job we found. Anything advertised as fog-resistant is in name only! Works on snorkel masks also.

  8. Personal Draft for an article. I started this draft for an article on the first… I feel compelled to post it before completion..

    How do we prevent tyranny? I am happy my audience is SB patrons, because you already understand what tyranny is. We have a document that guides us how to recognize it, and a history of fighting it. I would like to transcend the usual discussion. Why did James W. Rawles create SB? Not to kiss up too much, but he was thinking next level, decades ago. A higher order of prepardness. Personal preparedness is crucial. Army basic training is all about shoot, move and communicate, and then advanced training is about specific skill sets.
    There is the leadership training, and organizational training. So we all understand that. Let’s set that aside. If you were a high ranking military member, you still are missing a lot of the tools we need in this battle for personal liberty and freedom.

    We have a cold war right now, and that’s a good thing(violence is bad), it just sucks that we are losing it because we aren’t any good at it. If this cold war deteriorates into a hot war, that is bad. Violence is the lazy solution, which is why you see Anti-Thu using it.

    I keep hearing people saying if we don’t keep Trump in office, the country is lost. Trump is one man. He CANNOT be in office more than eight years, so hope for the best, plan for the worst. What needs to be done does not charge, regardless of if he wins or loses.

    Recently, we’ve all been using Rumble more. Rumble is more politically aligned with conservative values, and we realize that it is to our detriment to continue to let liberal institutions control the avenues of communication. JWR realized this years ago! Dispite many leaders in the community recognizing this, we still lag. Why? Rumble has great political discourse on it. What does it lack? A fantastic interface. Entertaining content. Educational content.

    JWR, has been informing us about beans, bullets and bandages, which cover basic survival needs, this information is gold. The value in SB is more than that, it is a medium for communication for people with like values. As conservatives, we tend to have a blind spot. Who writes comic strips? Who creates video game content? Gamer videos? Steven Crowder has spoken on this topic a little, and his message should resonate a bit more. We suck at narratives. We need to get better at this as a community.

    Narratives are how you fight cold wars. The pen is mightier than the sword, the printing press is the semi-automatic and the video stream is the rocket launcher… We need more heavy artillery in this fight. People watch a lot of that garbage media because it makes them laugh and entertains them, and for a long time there was the unspoken rule of non-partisan comedy and news.

    We know those days are over, and there is a rapidly expanding power vacuum of entertainment for conservatives. Most those liberal comedians are not even funny relying on cursing and crude behavior then interject their (disgusting narratives)ideals.

    My call to action in this cold war is this.

    -Start a comic strip.
    Write six squares a week, use stick figures, and write dialogue that is funny or examines the world from a conservative angle. Submit to local publications, and publish on an online platform, both a liberal one, and one like Rumble or Parler. You will be rejected, so despite that, continue to develop your story.

    -Start a video stream
    Do you enjoy playing video games? So do I! But I do not have time nor games! So occasionally I watch people online play… Rumble doesn’t have these videos, which means a huge content vacuum on that platform. Other things not on Rumble, electronic circuit building, or do it yourself repair… You can literally watch a YouPube video and do the exact project but film it for Rumble.

    -Make a platform
    Survival Blog is a platform. YouPube, is a platform. These platforms allow for the exchange of ideas and news. How would you get information in a country like China where the government regulates platforms? Currently, the mainstream media is private, and they can run whatever media they want, but as the government is more and more controlled, alternative media will be controlled as well. Platforms need infrastructure and that is often controlled by liberal businesses. What could Rumble do, if internet servers refused to host their content?

    How about a building a freedom satellite? Let’s for argument sake, suppose that the satellite was a Survival Blog server. Completely built by Patriots and owned by a small group of preppers? It wouldn’t be as expensive as you might initially think. Last August SpaceX got pricing down to about $2,500 a lb. for a ride share satellite launch. The price estimated for Starships is estimated to be 1/30th of the Falcon series, lowering it to about $85 a lb., and the smallest satellite of all time weighed 64grams, so the estimated cost of that would be $11! The point I’m making here is that satellite assets are no longer out of reach for reasonably sized organizations.

    People invest in weaponry in case of a tyrannical overthrow. If you believe we have had a tyrannical overthrow already, you may not be wrong. Weaponry is not the only way to prevent tyranny. There is the tyranny of ideas and beliefs. I believe the greatest aspect of being a Christian, is the release of tyranny. The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is not a tyrannical ruler.
    When society says, you need to wear a mask, all the time, even if you’ve already recovered from a desease that has a relatively low mortality rate OR you will be ostrasized, that is a tyrannical mindset. From the outset of this viral outbreak, segments of society set out to pressure individuals into acting a certain way, or to cause humiliation to those people.
    You cannot battle that with firearms, you must expose the cognitive dissonance with a counter narrative. You must have an audience to speak to, and not just “the choir”.

    So I encourage building a voice, and supporting a variety of voices and even competing voices of conservative ideas, humor and education. I hear and see a lot of “mainstream” entertainment, and you must realize your more talented than you think. Moses didn’t think he was an eloquent speaker, but realize, truth does not need to be amplified!

    Eloquent speakers of the mainstream, are simply people who have managed to work in racist narratives without using racist phrases. For instance, you might hear a person say they donated money for collages that support “vulnerable communities”, or “black communities”. I’m sure you have heard the phrase “black community”. Today I realized, that there is no “black community”, you cannot donate to a college that is in the “black community”. Community according to is 1. Properly, common possession or enjoyment; as a community of goods.
    It is a confirmation of the original community of all things.

    2. A society of people, having common rights and privileges, or common interests, civil, political or ecclesiastical; or living under the same laws and regulations. This word may signify a commonwealth or state, a body politic, or a particular society or order of men within a state, as a community of monks; and it is often used for the public or people in general, without very definite limits.

    Black people, live with the same laws as a white person. On the poor side of town, let’s say Detroit, a poor young black man likely has the same obstacles to success as a poor young white man.

    In some aspects, the poor young white man, is a minority in his respective community. Both individuals will pick up negative cultural habits, saggy pants, improper grammer and slang. These two individuals belong to the same community, in every reasonable objective aspect, and it’s not the “black community”, which would imply the black community is saggy pants and slang. Using the phrase “black community” becomes an admission that


    1. I really like this line of thinking. We need to shift beyond preparedness and go on the offensive. We need to put conservatives in central planning roles, school planning roles. The problems didn’t happen at the ballot box, from elected officials, nor from managers and administrators. There are planning groups. People who have templates that our government uses to form their unified plans. These templates have subtle socialist and immoral content.

  9. Truckers still use CB radios. The guys talk about road congestions, problems and other things; just the lonely chatter of guys away from their families. The gal truckers, seem to just mostly listen, probably because of the creepy-Joe type of guy truckers. … I still have a ‘portable’ CB radio, with a magnetic base antennae. I took it along on long road trips in case of an emergency.

    I went on a long caravan of cars once. One couple had a stash of the inexpensive Walkie Talkie radios sold at Walmart and elsewhere. They preset the frequency for the radios. … The radios were always on, but switched automatically to a ‘low energy’ use; the radios would work when someone spoke.
    …….. The personal Walkie Talkies let all the cars keep in contact; pulling off the road at the same time, for burgers and bathrooms. [We would know if someone had a breakdown emergency.]

    The personal Walkie Talkie radios can be used right now. Young kids would rather speak to their mother in the front seat of car with a Walkie Talkie, than speak directly to the back of mom’s head. “Mom, Mom! you know what I just saw?” “That burger shack has a big play area!”

  10. Smart phone……..great when working but the further in the toolies the less they work. Sat phone is the only thing I would have but seriously in the event of a major event or emp they would be another boat anchor.

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