goTenna: Texting and GPS Without Cell Phone Service Reply

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YIf you have a smartphone and a goTenna device, you can send text messages even when the cellular phone system is down or overcrowded.  The goTenna partners with your phone, like a headset or your car’s hands-free phone system via Bluetooth, and then uses its built-in miniature 2-way radio (MURS) to transmit your text message to other goTenna devices in your vicinity.

When combined with a “goTenna Plus” subscription ($10 annual), it provides topographic mapping and routes. And, it can show you the location of the other goTenna users that are part of your group so that you can rendezvous with them or help them if they are lost. (Assuming that GPS satellites are functioning.)

Yes, it’s true that a cell phone may be able to send text messages even when voice communication doesn’t work. But in reality, during a major disaster or emergency situation, cell phone systems routinely become overcrowded, making it impossible to connect with loved ones by either voice or text.

If you want to be able to communicate during these stressful times, you will need an alternative communication method.

Don’t depend on a mobile phone for emergency communication.  There is a good chance that it won’t work.

The ‘goTenna’ is an innovative device that is worth considering for emergency communications, and for when you are with friends or family in a rural or wilderness area which does not have cell phone coverage.  But first, you’ll need to understand how the goTenna works, so that you can evaluate if it will meet your needs.  For some, a GMRS walkie-talkie or an Amateur (Ham) 2-way radio will be a better choice (see below).

Think of it as a third option. Your smartphone is already designed to work using both the cellular phone network and Internet wi-fi.  This just adds a third option, a 2-way radio (151.820 – 154.600 MHz).

How Does the goTenna work?


Once the antenna is extended, the goTenna is automatically turned “on” and is ready for use.

When you combine a ‘goTenna with your iPhone or Android smartphone, you bypass the cellular network and its inherent unreliability.  The goTenna is essentially a 2-way radio that is designed to work with your smartphone–but only for sending and receiving text messages. It does not work for voice communication.

Using your phone’s Bluetooth connectivity, the goTenna app, and the goTenna device itself which is essentially a text-dedicated walkie-talkie, you have the power to communicate.  Even when you are off-grid you can pair this device with your phone to send text messages to those who are nearby–as long as they also have a goTenna device.

 goTenna’  Positives

Ease of Use:  The ‘goTenna is easy to use. Since even young children are often comfortable using smartphones, this add-on device for mobile phones gives both kids and adults alike, an alternative communication method. This is particularly useful during an emergency situation when cell phone towers are busy or unavailable, or when the user is in a no-coverage rural area.  No license is required to use this device, nor is there an age requirement. (U.S.)

Range-Boosting Capability: Another advantage of the go-Tenna is that when multiple devices are in use, the radio signal can be automatically relayed by the other goTenna devices which are operating in the same geographic area. This increases the effective transmitting range.

Encryption: The standard signal of the goTenna is encrypted to provide communication privacy, but this feature can be switched off, giving the user the ability to broadcast an emergency text message to all goTenna equipped phones in the immediate area.

GPS and Mapping:  The goTenna app can also be paired with your smartphone’s GPS, a feature which adds yet another level of usefulness.  With this ‘location’ feature enabled, the goTenna can be used to find a user who is lost.  Or, you can use it to send your own location to another goTenna user.

Optional Subscription Service:  For those who have opted for the optional “goTenna Plus” service, which requires a modest annual subscription fee, the ‘location’ and ‘mapping’ functionality is expanded to include some additional useful enhancements such as:

  1. Up to four topographic maps of regions of your choice, to help you with land navigation, and to make it easier to find another user.
  2. It can be used to repeat-send the same message again-and-again over a 12-hour period, at a timing frequency of your choice. That way, if your initial message was not received, the device will keep resending it, so you don’t need to stop and physically resend your message.
  3. It can be used to chart your route, which makes it easy to retrace your steps, or you can send your routing information to another user.
  4. The “plus” subscription lets you ‘group chat’ with up to six users, and it provides ‘message received’ confirmation.

The primary advantage of the ‘goTenna’ is that it is:

  • a) simple to use,
  • b) compact in size (5.8 x 1 x .5 in. / 147 x 25 x 13 cm),
  • c) lightweight (1.8 oz. / 52 g), and
  • d) you can learn how to use it in under five minutes.

 goTenna’  Negatives

Cost:  Though less expensive than a GMRS radio with a built-in GPS, and cheaper than a single brand-name mobile ham radio, the goTenna is still relatively expensive. (Later in this post, you will find specifics on 2-way radio options.)

The “goTenna MESH” is a cheaper version of the standard, 2-watt “goTenna.”  But in our view, it is a waste of money since it has half the power (1-watt) of the standard goTenna, which is already an underpowered device.

Limited Functionality:  Though the features of the goTenna are robust, its usefulness is nevertheless limited since it can only be used for texting, and its range is limited to a few miles, maximum.

Professional Versions:  The goTenna Pro devices use a different radio technology to extend the operating range of the unit, but they are substantially more expensive. This added cost diminishes their usefulness for the emergency communication needs of most people, which is better served by more robust texting + 2-way radio options such as the Garmin Rhino 755t radio (no license required) or a ‘ham’ (amateur radio operator’s license required) 2-way radio.

Range:  The biggest downside of the goTenna is its limited range.  In a downtown city environment, don’t expect to communicate at a distance greater than ½ – 1 mile.  If you are in a nearly flat, unobstructed rural environment (or if you get to a higher vantage point), you might be able to communicate with another goTenna user at a distance of 2 – 4 miles.  Despite the fact that users have claimed successful communication at much greater distances, such success is highly unusual and cannot be expected.

Note:  Both the sender and receiver need to have a goTenna and a smartphone, and have them switched “on.”  The goTenna will probably not work from inside a concrete, masonry or steel structure, and it will have limited connectivity when used from inside a vehicle.

Short of hacking the device, there is no way to extend its range, other than to make sure it is not in contact with the human body when in use.  For best reception and to achieve the greatest range, carry the goTenna on the outside, very top of a knapsack, or hold it by its strap over your head while transmitting. The unit itself will not operate properly if held in the hand or next to the body.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YOther Considerations

Battery Life:  The built-in Lithium-Ion battery of the goTenna has a useful life of about 20-hours, but this can be extended by switching the device and your phone “off” when they are not needed.  To further maximize the battery life of the goTenna and your smartphone, switch your phone to “airline” mode, followed by turning “on” the phone’s GPS.

Like most mobile phones, the goTenna’s battery can be recharged in about two hours using the supplied USB power cord. Unfortunately, the device cannot be re-powered using disposable batteries, but a battery powered recharger can be used to recharge the unit partially.


When in use, the goTenna should be attached to a backpack or held high by the strap. It will not work properly if held in the hand or next to the body.

Durability:  The goTenna is not waterproof, but it is water-resistant so it can be exposed to rain. The goTenna is reasonably durable, but it is not ruggedized to military specifications.

GPS & Mapping Features:  The GPS and mapping features are dependent on the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, which can be damaged, turned off by the government, or intentionally misdirected when the U.S. Government has identified a threat which might utilize the GPS system to coordinate an attack.  Therefore, even elaborate GPS devices cannot be relied upon as your only navigation tool.

Legal Issue:  It is technically illegal to use the goTenna outside the U.S.   However, since these devices have such limited range and look innocuous, their use may not create a legal problem for the user. Nevertheless, some governments may consider them illegal-tech.

Electronic Devices:  Electronic communication devices like mobile phones are inherently unreliable and subject to damage, as well as exhausting their battery power, so a backup communication method is essential.  Therefore you will need more than a goTenna, but this device may still be a viable backup communication tool that is worth considering.  It is included here due to its ease of use by adults and teens alike, and because it is a lightweight add-on which can transform your phone into functioning texting device, even when the cellular network is inoperable. We have also included it here because we consider it to be a “kid friendly” device that phone-savvy children can quickly learn to use.

Click Here for additional ‘goTenna’ details.


Other Emergency Communication Options

Midland_GMRS_2-Way_RadioFRS/GMRS 2-Way Walkie-Talkie Radios.  (In the U.S., no license required, but regulations in other countries vary greatly.)  The inexpensive hardware store/sports store models of these radios are rarely adequate, and in our testing, none of them came even remotely close to being able to communicate over the distances claimed.

Nevertheless, a higher quality GMRS radio such as those made by Motorola, Midland, Uniden, or Cobra, are worth considering. These will have a similar operating range to that of the goTenna, but maintaining a stable voice connection over a radio is more difficult than the digital signal of the goTenna so it can have a greater effective range than most FRS/GMRS radios.

FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies for voice-only communication, are available at a fraction of the cost of the goTenna. But those with the same transmitting power of the goTenna (2-watts) will typically have 15% less operating range.  However, high-power GMRS radios are readily available, such as the Midland GXT1000VP5, which boasts the maximum legal power of 5-watts.

Garmin_Rhino-Trio-ModelsIf the GPS features are important to you, the Garmin Rhino 755t also has a built-in GPS.  Since it also provides the capability of voice communication and text, rather than just text, it is far more versatile than the goTenna. It can even monitor NOAA weather frequencies.  On the downside is the high cost, it’s not quite as easy to use, and the map screen is smaller (3-inch), which is far smaller than some cell phones.

Notwithstanding, detailed and purpose-specific maps can be uploaded to the Rhino 750 series devices. The 755t comes with color topographic maps for the United States, preinstalled. Yet, you may want to add detailed local maps for the area where you will be operating.

If you buy the Rhino 750 rather than the 755t, and later decide you want to add the Garmin U.S. 100K map that comes with the 755t, the cost is $ 100. For both the 750 and 755t, add-on maps are available for specific purposes such as marine and aviation, city maps, and unique maps such as the $80 Garmin “HuntView” maps for each State (2 for TX and CA). These include added features such as landowner names and boundaries, fuel locations, and land boundaries, all applied to a digital topography map that is equivalent to 1:24,000 scale U.S. Geological Survey maps. The HuntView map also includes Garmin’s BaseCamp software. This makes it possible to tether a Rhino 750-series device with a laptop computer to establish a command center for charting the position of the devices operating in the area.

Another plus is that the Rhino 750 is far more durable than the cell phone/goTenna combination required for the goTenna system to work. And, the Rhino 750 is sufficiently waterproof to withstand submersion in 1-meter of water for 30-minutes (IPX7).

The Garman Rhino ‘700′ is less expensive, but it has a B&W screen which negates many map features, and maps cannot be uploaded to the device. Garmin also makes similar-looking devices which are GPS-only, without the 2-way radio features.

BaoFeng_Ham_RadioAmateur (Ham) Radio (Requires a license).  These radios come in various sizes and transmitting power, but a budget radio such as an 8-watt BaoFeng can be purchased for under $50 (each). Whereas a radio capable of transmitting around the world will be larger and be connected to a larger antenna, as well.

If the need is for greater operating range, nothing beats an Amateur (Ham) radio.  These 2-way radios can be used for both voice and digital communication, and they can be operated over impressive distances. With the right equipment and environmental conditions, they can be used to communicate to those who are on the other side of the world.

Even a budget Amateur radio, such as the miniature-size BaoFeng UV-5R Tri-Power (8-watt) 2-way radio, or the improved version of the same radio, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (8 watt) which has a stronger case, larger battery, and improved antenna, are capable of voice communication at 5x+ the distance of a goTenna–and they are less expensive.  Even when you add in the cost of an external magnet-mount antenna such as the Nagoya UT-308UV which vastly improves radio communication from inside a vehicle, the total price can still be less expensive than a goTenna.  However, these radios do require a license, and advanced features beyond voice communication require more expertise and add-on equipment. For more information about Amateur radio and licensing, visit

Reminder:  To communicate with family and friends, they will need to also be equipped with a goTenna, or a walkie-talkie which uses the same radio frequencies.


You do have choices when it comes to emergency communication. But to communicate with family and friends during a major disaster or emergency situation, you will need something other than your mobile phone. Don’t expect your cell phone to work during a widespread emergency. A communication device such as a goTenna or 2-way radio is a necessity.

KOP Kit (Keep-On-Person) Emergency Every-Day-Carry Supplies Reply

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veWhether you call it a KOP Kit, EDC Kit (Every-Day-Carry), COP Kit (Carry-on-Person), or by some other name, these pocket-size mini kits contain a collection of small but essential items that can be a godsend in an emergency situation. Requiring only the space of a hip-pocket wallet, this little collection may save your life.  It has for others.  For example, during the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001, occupants used small KOP Kit items to save their life or the lives of others.

While the Twin Towers burned, several occupants used pocket knives, another a can opener, to cut escape holes in the sheet-rock walls when fire or debris blocked their office doors. Others used wet handkerchiefs to filter smoke to aid breathing. A menstrual pad was used on an injured leg to stop severe bleeding.  A thin rope/cord was used to help lower people when a stairway collapsed. Small keychain-size flashlights were used to navigate interior hallways and stairs. And, when a trapped person lost their voice after prolonged yelling, they used a whistle to get the attention of firefighters. Simple little items such as these can save lives.

Our KOP Kit list (below) is slightly broader because it is designed to be useful in a wider range of disaster-related situations. But whatever you choose to include, the keep-on-person (KOP) aspect is essential.  For commercial airline travel, except for items which have a blade, FAA regulations allow passengers to carry all of these items.

This isn’t a GO-Bag or Survival Kit. It isn’t a kit which contains everything you might need.  It is an “essentials” mini kit that includes little items which can make a big difference.

These supplies can be bundled in an extra wallet or coin purse, or you carry them in an Altoids or mint tin, or a passport pouch or security pocket, or, you can divide up this collection of items and carry some on your key chain and others in your wallet and a pocket. The method used for carrying these emergency supplies isn’t important; what is vital, is that you have these items with you. So, your carry method does need to be convenient—so you don’t leave home without your kit.

Contents of Your KOP Kit

Select contents to match your circumstance and lifestyle. To help you get started, here are the items we recommend.

Pocketknife – Option #1 – A small serrated-edge knife with one small blade; or,

Pocketknife – Option #2 – Medium-size multitool pocket knife such as the Victorinox brand, Swiss Army ‘Explorer’ model pocketknife; or

Pocketknife – Option #3 – Larger-size knife/multitool. A standard multitool such as the Leatherman OHT will not fit into a wallet-size container with your other items. And, its weight may exceed that of all your other supplies combined, but it is a versatile tool that you might find useful in an emergency situation as well as in your daily life—as long as you don’t leave home without it!

Flashlight – Option #1 – Streamlight 73001 Nano will comfortably fit on a keychain since it is only 1.5-inches in length.  Unfortunately, it uses non-standard batteries (4xLR41) which makes it a less desirable choice than a slightly larger model which uses a single AAA-battery. It does have an impressive run-time of 8-hours, but it only produces 10-lumens of light. Nonetheless, in our opinion, it is the best of the ultra-small flashlights. Its best use is as a backup flashlight kept on your keychain.

Flashlight – Option #2 – The Maglight Solitaire uses one standard-size AAA-battery. It is our first choice for key chain-size flashlights as it is bright (47 lumens), has a 1-hr 45-min run time, is waterproof to 1-meter, it can be switched from spotlight to flood-beam, and it can be used like a candle by removing the tip to illuminate a 360-degree area. If you can accommodate the 3.2-inch x 1/2-inch size, which is only slightly larger than an AAA battery, we regard it as a better choice than a Nano light.

Flashlight – Option #3 – The Nitecore Defender SRT3 is an example of the new generation of flashlights which are durable and multi-talented. Most people are not willing to daily-carry even a small pocket-size flashlight like this one, but if you are, this is a light you might want to consider.  It is only 4-inches long and it is lightweight (2-1/2 oz), so it will fit in a pocket and in many coin-purse size pouches. Yet, it can generate a blazing 550-lumens of light and is capable of illuminating objects that are more than a football field distant. And yet, the beam can be dialed down to just enough light to read a map, a setting which provides 150-hours of run time. In addition to its red and green beams which save your night vision, it has a strobe which flashes a constant S-O-S signal. Plus, the Nitecore Defender is waterproof to 2-meters (IPX-8 standard), and it can be operated using an assortment of batteries, ranging from a sleeved Alkaline AAA-battery or standard AA-battery, to a high-energy CR123.

* If you have space in your kit, also include a spare battery for your flashlight.

Compact Liquid-filled Compass – Option #1 – It is easy to get disoriented when you are forced to take a new route, during inclement weather and dusty conditions, and when land-features have changed due to a disaster. Unfortunately, a small compass such as those selected for KOP Kits, are not precision instruments. Still, they can point you in the right direction and keep you oriented as you travel along your route.

Compass – Extra Small – Option #2 – Suunto ‘Clipper’ or similar.

Compact whistle; flat models and small whistles are easier to pack into a KOP Kit. A whistle is an important part of your kit as it makes it possible to signal for help when you can no longer yell.

Breathing Protection – Option #1 – Medical face mask, a flat style which you can fold to fit inside your kit.  These do not provide the protection of an N95, N100, or biofilter mask, but these don’t require nearly as much space either, and importantly, they can be folded to fit into your KOP Kit.

Breathing Protection – Option #2 –  Cotton bandana/handkerchief, 24-inch+ to use as a face mask. If dampened with water before use, it will increase the cotton cloth’s ability to filter particles out of the air. Neither of these options will protect the wearer from chemicals, smoke, and serious airborne threats, but they can be better than nothing. A bright-color bandana can also be used for signaling.

Water Purification – Chlorine Dioxide water purification tablets. We have found the Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets to be superior to all other brands of purification tablets, and for KOP Kits, they provide the added benefit of being very small. The Katadyn Micropur MP1 is the only tablet or liquid, which is effective against viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium in all water conditions. One tablet is used to treat one quart/liter of water.  Do not open the foil packet until ready to use as once opened; the tablet has a short shelf life.  A KOP Kit should contain at least 4 of these small, foil packets. Note: This method is far more effective for water purification than the popular and much larger, LifeStraw.

Water Transport – Option #1 – Collapsible Water Bag.  Even a small collapsible bottle will not fit into a KOP Kit, but if you do have space in a briefcase or computer bag, this Sawyer SP-108 Water Reservoir is a compact easy-to-carry solution.

Water Transport – Option #2 – Using a Condom as a Water Container. Made for durability, a non-lubricated condom is sturdy, watertight, and they are stored in a small package.  A standard-size condom will hold 16-20 fl. oz. (.5 L) of water and can still retain structural strength. In tests conducted by a major university, the Trojan ENZ was identified as the most durable. Insert the condom into a sock to stabilize it for filling, and to transport it more securely. A twist-tie, such as those used in grocery stores and bakeries to close plastic bags, are ideal for closing-up the top of the condom after filling it with water. In addition to the twist-tie, also include a plastic straw for drinking.

* If you are not sure that the water is pure, add a Katadyn tablet before filling the condom/container with water.

Fire Starting – Option #1 – Mini cigarette lighter; or,

Fire Starting – Option #2 – Flint and magnesium fire-starting tool.  Starting a fire may seem like an unnecessary task, but in various setting it may be needed for heat, cooking food, for light, signaling, and to help keep animals away.

Can Opener. If it becomes possible to scavenge food, you don’t want to be without a small can and bottle opener.  Yes, a knife can be used to open a can, but it’s dangerous.  It’s much better to have a small military-style can opener like a P-51 or P-38 in your KOP Kit. If you enlarge the hole in the P-51, this miniature can opener can be carried on a key ring. Tape the blade to the body of the can opener so it doesn’t snag or cut.

Band-Aids – A couple of Band-aids take up almost no space in your kit, but can be helpful for covering a blister on your foot when you need to walk a long distance, as well as to protect minor cuts from infection. Disasters are environments that are often filled with germs and bacteria, so protecting a simple cut can be important.

Cash Money – During an emergency situation, credit cards often don’t work so cash is needed to make purchases. Small denomination bills may be best as vendors may not be able to make change.

Optional Items

Inexpensive Make-Shift Compact Bandage – In a pinch, a feminine Ultra-Thin Pad can be used as a bandage for the temporary treatment of injuries. For this purpose, it must be a pad without odor inhibitors, lotions, or other additives.  Select a brand that has each pad sealed in a waterproof envelope, as the envelope itself can also be used to seal a small diameter chest puncture.  Since these pads are very compact.

Pepper Spray – If legal in your area, a pen-size container of pepper spray can be a formidable but non-injurious weapon. These are not legal for travel on a commercial airliner but they are legal in many areas, so carry one on your key chain if you can do it legally. We recommend pepper spray made by a manufacturer which supplies these products to police departments. The contents should be a 10% concentration of the chemical Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).

Plastic Garbage Sack – Useful for carrying supplies, for use as a sleep sack to increase body heat or protection from insects, for making an emergency shelter, and as a rain poncho (cut holes for head and arms, and wear it like a pullover jacket).  An ordinary trash bag has many uses.

Signal Mirror (optional).  A small signal mirror has multiple uses in addition to using it to flash signals using sunlight.

750 Paracord – It isn’t practical to carry even a short length of rope, but Paracord as used for parachutes, is extremely strong, thin, and lightweight. The diameter of “750” paracord is only 5mm (.2-inch) but has a break strength of 750-pounds. (That does not mean it will support 749-pounds.) The interior of military-grade paracord has 11 strands, and these are also suitable for sewing, repairing clothing and gear, and emergency suturing. The space limitations of most KOP Kits limit the length to around 12-feet.

Pen and Paper – If you have room in your kit, a write-on-anything “Space Pen” and maybe even a few sheets of weatherproof paper can be valuable when you need to leave notes or make notes. To save space, use just a Space Pen refill rather than the whole pen.

Sewing Needle, 1-large, and 1-small.  A large needle that can be used with a paracord strand, and a small needle to use like a nail or to remove splinters.

Paper Clip.  One large and one small clip. These can be used as wire for an assortment of repair and electrical purposes.

Micro SD Card. Us this to store essential data and records such as contact information, identification, ID photos of family and friends, medical records, insurance information, property titles and other key records. Use encryption for sensitive and confidential information. Your SD Card ‘Adapter’ and ‘Reader’ can be stored separately, but the card itself should be kept on your person. For physical protection, wrap the card in three layers of plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) and then three layers of aluminum foil. This will help prevent damage if it is exposed to water, and it will disrupt RFD probes and help isolate the chip from electromagnetic pulses. To avoid loss of the chip, use duct tape to attach the wrapped chip to the back of your wristwatch, or your KOP Kit container.

Pocket-Size Containers for Your KOP Kit

How to Carry your KOP Kit? Cloth passport pouches and metal wallets are favorite containers for these supplies, but some people prefer carrying a few items in a small tin such as an Altoid or Sucrets box, with other pieces of their kit are carried on their key chain. Some people prefer to carry certain items, like a pocket knife, loose in their a pocket or purse. It doesn’t matter how these things are carried, but that they are kept close at hand.

Altoids Mints – Re-purpose the metal box. If you are interested in this carry method but aren’t acquainted with these breath mints, or you can’t buy them at your local grocery store, this link is provided. You might be able to find some other product which utilizes a similar, rugged little pocket-size box.

Security Pocket / Hidden Pocket – These fabric pouches can be carried in a pocket or purse, or worn on a belt and then flipped inside your skirt or trousers, to keep it invisible. These are often available in travels stores as they are popular for hiding cash and passports.

Credit Card Wallet / Zippered Coin Purse –  Available in various sizes, these can be carried in a pocket or purse.

Key Wallet – Smaller than a credit card wallet or coin purse, these small pouches often have zipper closures to keep items secure.

* It may not be practical to keep every item in one container such as those listed above, but it is sensible to keep most things together in one package to avoid loss and damage.

Paracord Survival-Bracelet: Depending on the knots used to make the bracelet, these can condense 1 to 1.5 feet of paracord into each 1-inch of bracelet length. (i.e., an 8-in bracelet contains 8-14 ft of paracord). These can utilize a buckle which contains a fire-starter or knife as well as a compass. The bracelet itself can conceal such things as fire tinder; a P-38 can opener; a ceramic knife; micro SD card; fishing line & hooks; mini signal mirror; large, curved sewing needle; a mini glow stick, and a Nano flashlight. If you want to use a survival bracelet as a portion of your kit, look online for one that has the features you want. Or, you can make your own using D-I-Y instructions found online.

The ‘Minimalist’ KOP Kit for every-day-carry

At the very least, make it an every-day-carry habit of keeping a few essential items with you every day, wherever you go, whatever you are doing. A ‘minimalist’ collection of supplies might include a Swiss+Tech tool/mini knife, a micro LED flashlight, and a compact whistle, all carried on your keychain. Plus, in a pocket, a small cigarette lighter and large handkerchief.  Add to your watchband, a compass.  In your wallet, store a P-51 mini can opener, four water purification tablets, and a non-lubricated condom to use as an emergency canteen.  Just these nine little items may someday save your life—they did for people inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.


Dogs & Pets: Turning a Problem into an Asset Reply

Dogs n Cats - TSA imageWhether you love or just tolerate your pet, now is the time to consider what you will do with them when you are facing an emergency situation. It is irresponsible to leave a pet behind except in the direst of circumstances. (And, by the way, your convenience is never a dire circumstance.) So, you need to formulate a plan. You need to decide now, how you will handle it.

Unfortunately, most pets, except some dogs and a few other animals, increase your problems during an emergency situation. But if you leave them behind to fend for themselves, a domesticated animal, like a pet dog, will probably either starve, become injured and die a horrible death, or join a pack and become dangerous to people, especially children.

On the other hand, if you take them with you, then you will need to feed and care for them. This can make evacuation more difficult, but it is a responsibility of ownership to care for your pet during both times of ease and periods of hardship.  A medium-to-large size dog can be trained to carry a saddlebag backpack so that they can carry enough food and water for two days.

As mentioned earlier in this book, when facing a disaster or emergency situation, don’t plan on leaving your animal at your favorite pet boarding kennel, veterinarian, animal care services center, or with a family member or friend, either. You are just handing off your problem to them, and that isn’t fair.  You can’t shirk your responsibility.

Furthermore, in the U.S., if you take your pet with you to a federal or State sponsored shelter, they will separate you from your pet, and though they may not tell you, the official protocol calls for euthanasia.  They will kill your pet.  Do you think I must be wrong?  Read the confidential (but not Classified) U.S. Government document, FM-39.40  Internment and Resettlement Operations.”  Of course, you may encounter a shelter operator who loves animals and ignores this directive, but are you willing to gamble with your pet’s life?

So, what are your options?  In my view, you have three choices.

  1. Either keep your pet with you and stockpile/carry the food and water they will need, and hope for the best; or,
  2. When that time comes, humanely euthanize your pet(s); or
  3. If your pet is a dog, turn them into an asset. These benefits are enjoyed today, and you will be ready to face tomorrow with your loyal companion as a valuable partner.

Unfortunately, the third choice is not available to owners of cats and most other pets, but it is a great option if your pet is a healthy dog.  If you’re up for 20-minutes of training 3-days a week for four months, Option #3 is the best choice. I heartily recommend it.

In any case, we can’t avoid facing the truth.  Dogs tend to be either a security problem or a security asset, and they require extra work and supplies that may be difficult to provide.

Today, if you unleash your dog and it runs off, or it barks without sufficient provocation, the animal represents a security risk. This problem is most glaring with yappy little dogs. During an emergency, a barking dog attracts attention and miscreants do not perceive small dogs to be a threat, so the animal generates dangerous, unnecessary risks to you, the owner. Importantly, the unwelcomed attention may make you a victim of a crime. No one likes yappy dogs, including violent criminals.

When we asked a FEMA dog trainer, “Why are little dogs so often barkers?” Her answer, “Because their owners allow it.”

Yes, a barking dog may be an unrivaled asset, but only if you are the one controlling that response. A well-trained dog that barks in accord with your training can provide valuable early warning, but a dog that indiscriminately barks may create added risks for you and your companions.

A dog’s fine-tuned hearing and sense of smell can provide far better early warning than can the most sophisticated electronic alarm system.  But, these amazing attributes are only helpful if the animal is properly trained.

Unfortunately, most people do not know how to turn their pet into a service dog; an asset which can be valuable during ordinary times as well as during a crisis. Thankfully, this lack of knowledge can be overcome.

The first step in transforming your dog from liability to asset is obedience training. Yes, it is easier to train a young dog than an old one, but both can be taught if you are patient and know what you are doing. You need to teach your dog to not bark without provocation and to obey immediately.  Basic training must include both voice and signal commands for: heel, come, stay, down, growl, bark, and silence.

Once these problem-erasing basics have been handled, you are ready to start transforming your dog into a working-dog asset, a partner.  This will require the professional help of an experienced dog trainer who has done this for the government or a private security agency. Or, use the online training offered by a company such as Remnant K9 (

An ordinary dog trainer cannot take the place of one who has extensive experience in the behavior you are trying to model.  My recommendation is to not waste time with YouTube videos produced by self-promoting people without serious credentials, nor kindly dog-trainers who are well-meaning but lack the specific skills necessary for this task. If you don’t have access to such a trainer or can’t afford to hire one, use an online training program such as Remnant K9 360.

Use an expert.  In the long run, you will not only save time and money, but you will also be far more successful.

Whether evacuating due to an emergency, or living at your safe-haven retreat location, or leaving a place of safety to help a friend or family member who is in need, don’t discount the benefits that a well-trained dog can provide. If you live in a place where you cannot carry a gun, a well-trained medium or large-size dog that is properly trained can be both a reliable low-tech security system and a source of unparalleled defense.  Even if you do have a gun and know how to use it, a dog can still be an indispensable partner.