Monday, July 23, 2012

Preparedness and Coffee.

This post from FrugalPrep sure brought back memories.

It was the early 1990's, and I'd gone up into Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a bit of backpack camping and free-range shooting.

All was well the first day, as I drove up, parked my truck, took up my pack and rifle, and headed off down the trails towards my intended campsite that night.

The next morning, I awoke with an overall case of the blahs, and with a headache coming on that was getting progressively worse. Fellow hard-core coffee drinkers will be able to relate to this. You see, I routinely drank as much coffee as I could get my mitts on back then. I worked the night shift as a fire department paramedic and I practically mainlined the stuff between calls, usually adding ice to my cup so I could drink it down faster and have another one before heading back out. Over time, I'd developed a caffeine addiction. I functioned just fine if I kept my level up, but when all of a sudden I didn't have any more--like on the first morning out on this trip--I quickly became borderline non-functional. Laugh all you like, but the headaches were real and debilitating.

Now my truck was several miles away. My pack had no coffee, instant or otherwise. (See the lesson looming, kids? Murphy's Law is learning something here.) And on this beautiful morning, I felt like total hell and my head was pounding.

I broke camp and headed cross-country via compass towards a rural highway intersection about a mile and a half away where I knew there to be a small country store. (And yay for me, I hit the highway just a couple hundred yards from that intersection. Map-and-compass practice pays off!) I walked into this little store just as it was opening, and I was a sight I'm sure as I was decked out in my camouflage BDUs, complete with 782-gear ALICE pack and LBE suspenders and a short CAR-15 rifle slung around my neck. (The M-4/M-Forgery craze was several years away yet.) I walked in, located a small jar of instant coffee. (Maxwell House--I'll never forget it's blue twist-off top.) I took this jar of coffee over to the cooler where the bottled water was, took out a bottle of water, and looked for something to mix my coffee in. Seeing nothing, I took a map from my pocket, made a funnel, and poured the coffee crystals into the water bottle. I shook it well, then guzzled the whole bottle, not even minding the gritty feel of the coffee crystals between my teeth as I knew that caffeine salvation was just seconds away.

Sure enough, the headache and listlessness disappeared right then and there, and I was ready to go by the time I got to the counter and set the two empty containers down in front of the cashier, who'd been watching me the whole time with undisguised amazement.

Lesson learned: Caffeine withdrawal can seriously affect your ability to think clearly and operate at high speed in an emergency. So if possible, taper off caffeine use before going into situations where if might not be available, and always have a ready back-up supply, even if it's instant coffee mixed with cold water. And should we find ourselves in a survival situation, whether bugging out or hunkering down in your place and maybe hosting others, a source of caffeine should not be overlooked, either for yourself, those in your party who need it, or as a barter good if it comes to that.

Remember folks...they walk among us.
Be prepared for them.


  1. I keep 'spare' coffee in my desk... AND in the truck! Caffine withdrawl sucks!

  2. The guy in the warning sign looks remarkably like my husband from time to time.

  3. I gotta admit I'm blessed in this department. My caffine comes in the form of Diet Coke - LOTS OF DIET COKE - each day. Yet, when I hit the Boundary Waters or pack trail I never have any withdrawl symptoms.

    That said - nothing wrong with a ziplock of coffee "tea bags" in the lid of your pack.

  4. Tablets. Easy to pack. easy to store.

  5. I've heard from serious coffee drinkers who gave it up for Lent that it can take a week to get through the withdrawal, the headache and loggynes.

  6. I know exactly how you feel with those migraines and general "blah and y'all can go to hell" listlessness. Navy life got me hooked on Mt.Dew and thick Navy coffee (the stuff you could float a wrench in, and dump down a drain to clear clogs), although I had to spruce up my coffee with a little creamer, sugar, and Navy hot chocolate. Never liked the aftertaste of black coffee, although I did try. After the Navy, I was talked into switching to Diet Coke (as a supplement to the regular Dew), but still had the migraines. Finally got off of caffeine altogether (except the natural caffeine found in tea). After two hellacious weeks, I noticed the migraines were pretty much gone. Zombie Apocalypse, have at it. I'll be awake and aware, and if someone tosses me a Dew, I'll be so jacked up I'll be cycling the Mosin's bolt fast enough to keep pace with an M246.

  7. For years I had a bugout bag, and honestly I always threw in sunblock. Low and behold I was talking to another prepper and talking about gear. When I mentioned in passing I preferred 70spf or better, and he smacked his head and told me he didnt have any,even though he was from Texas.

    Its amazing what you will forget,even though it maybe important. Perhaps we need a proof bugout bag checker?

  8. Coffee is Life

    More is Good

  9. I'm gonna have to post that sign up in the office!

    Hi, my name is Andy and I am a caffeineoholic. I have been caffeine free for 5 minutes.

    Fortunately, caffeine addiction goes away in a couple of days, so in a real emergency grid-down situation I'm not concerned. But, yeah, putting spare coffee in my pack, my desk, my car, etc is not a bad idea.

  10. If you are going to quit caffeine you have to taper off or you will get one hell of a headache. Probably take about 2 or 3 weeks to quit without the headache.