The Value of Every Day Carry (EDC)

The concert hall was packed and local parking was limited and in high demand. Nonetheless, we found parking in a levelled building site within walking distance of the concert venue. Paying the entrance fee, we were directed to one of the few parking spots left. We were assured that all vehicles were parked in such a way to allow easy access and egress. We found out that such assurances were misplaced.

Returning to the fenced parking area a couple of hours later, we noticed that a white Ford SUV had parked along the fence line but too close to a small blue Honda Civic. As a result, the SUV had blocked the only route for others to leave.

Attempts to contact the police and Traffic Department were met with the same response- contact the parking company owners.

Another couple arrived and were faced with the same problem. They too were parked in by the white SUV. The concert was only scheduled to end in over three hours’ time but there was no means of communicating with the SUV driver. The parking attendants had left for the night.

Looking around, our options were limited. A fenced in area, cars parked with their handbrakes engaged and a white SUV blocking the only route out. Smashing the SUV front passenger window with my special tactical pen did cross my mind. The purpose was to gain access to the vehicle’s handbrake and move the SUV out of the way. This was an emergency, after all.

But, there had to be another way.                                                                               

Looking at the Clear Vu™ metal fence, I wondered if we could somehow get to the road on the other side. As with all fences, the options are to go over, under or through. We could not drive under or over, and the wire mesh was too thick to cut, even if I had a pair of bolt cutters.

However, examining the fence posts, I noticed that the fence panels were attached to the fence posts with Allen bolts.

I asked the other couple if they had an Allen key. The husband said that he was an engineer and had a set in his company toolbox.

We selected a # 9 Allen key and in 4 minutes had removed the bolts attaching a fence panel to the post. We pulled back the panel, drove through to the road and replaced the fence panel, before heading home.

So, a hugely inconvenient situation was avoided by an EDC item.

From now on, I have included a # 9 Allen key in my EDC bag and suggest that you do the same.

Join one of our courses to learn what you should carry every day and why.

Or, share your experiences about when an EDC item has saved the day…or night

How to Survive a Prison in Africa

Prisons are one of the most hostile environments on the planet. Whilst some institutions have televisions in the cells and good food in the canteen, the majority of prisons in Africa pose a serious threat to one’s mortality.

When Diwani (a suspect in his wife’s murder trial) fought extradition to South Africa on the grounds that the country’s prisons were brutal, his lawyers were not exaggerating. Sexual abuse of juvenile prisoners is common, malnutrition common and overcrowding endemic. Many detainees awaiting trial are on remand for several years before their cases are heard. 

Yet, other African prisons offer far worse conditions. Gitarama Central Prison in Rwanda was built for 400 prisoners. Today, there are almost 7000. Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Kenya holds several political prisoners but they still have to suffer from beatings by the guards, cholera and malnutrition. Black Beach Prison in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea offers inmates a choice on their birthdays: hands or feet. The amputation of one or the other is a hard choice to make on the morning of your birthday.

6 ways to survive prison

  1. Understand your rights and what you are allowed before you go to prison. Some prisons allow you to bring food or open an account to buy food during your incarceration.
  2. During processing, you are strip searched and must hand over all your possessions. You will sign documents that you cannot read or understand.
  3. Each prison has its own cash economy. Tea, coffee and food are universally accepted trading items. In the United Kingdom, where smoking is banned, nicotine patches are in high demand. 
  4. Make friends quickly. Introduce yourself and make it apparent that you are either a thief, sex offenders or a threat.
  5. Do not give anything away but rather trade.
  6. Develop a skill or reputation for being able to get things done. Mix with the guards and build an inside network of contacts.

       Attend one of our courses and understand how to behave when arrested and protect yourself in prison.

      H. E.A.T. tip:  Do not do anything illegal once inside. You can get your sentence reduced for good behaviour.


Prevent getting attacked in your car or home.


The number of home invasions is rising. Whilst the FBI reckons that there are 15 000 home invasions each day in North America, Other figures suggest that a forced door entry occurs every 12 seconds. Whilst these figures refer to North America, similar figures have been reported (as proportional ratios) in more benign countries such as England or Switzerland.

Whatever the reported figures, criminals are becoming more involved in home invasions because they are efficient. Burglarizing a home when the owners are out is safe but not necessarily profitable. Kicking in the front or backdoor causes fear and confusion for the occupants. After being threatened or actually tortured, most victims explain where the safe is or where they have hidden cash and jewellery.

6 ways to protect yourself against a home invasion

  1. Ensure that your perimeter is strong. Whether your perimeter extends to the boundary line or your front door, you need to provide an effective barrier against unauthorised access.
  2. Install a wide-angle peephole in your front door with a three point Mul-Ti- lock. If the door is strong enough, you will create a delaying mechanism for further attacks.
  3. Be wary of home invasion by deception. Uniforms and clipboards are no guarantee that the wearer is genuine. Always ask for a positive ID and ring the caller’s boss if you have any submissions.
  4. Be very cautious of a distressed caller preying on your compassion. If they request access to make a call or to use the bathroom, deny access.
  5. Install an alarm and keep a dog as a pet. Both the device and the animal will provide you with an early warning system and act as an effective deterrent.
  6. Consider creating a mutual aid organisation in your neighbourhood. Everyone is looking out for everybody else and your security, but not your privacy, is maintained. Have a list of your neighbours by name and contact details. Maintain regular contact and build a profile of the criminal activities in your area. Share this information and empower others.

Join one of our courses and learn about the threat of home invasion and what you need to do.

H.E.A.T. tip: If you are alone in the house when the door is knocked, call out loudly: “I will see who it is”. This will create the impression that you are not alone.

6 Ways to Protect Yourself against Nerve Agents

In Chemical Warfare, nerve agents are the most prevalent weapon. They affect the transmission of nerve impulses in the nervous system.

The UK Intelligence community has confirmed that a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter were recently killed in an English town by a nerve agent called Novichok. The bodies of the Russian’s son and wife are now being exhumed to determine their cause of death.

Whether the assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was ordered by the Kremlin, FSB or the Russian mafia will be the subject of conjecture for months to come. But, the concern for corporate travellers is more immediate and they need to understand the nature of the threat.

All modern nerve agents belong to the chemical group of organic phosphorous compounds. They are easy to make with readily available materials. Not only are they highly toxic but they are stable and several have been aerosolized. The effects are rapid when absorbed by the skin or from breathing.

The most common nerve agents are Tabun, VX, Sarin, GF and Soman. Novichok includes a range of nerve agents that are similar to Satin and VX.

Unfortunately, Novichok agents are not listed on the banned product lists of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention because their existence was only made public after the treaty was signed.

6 ways to protect yourself against nerve agents

  1. Recognise the symptoms such as increased saliva, chest constriction, loss of bladder control, vomiting and skin sweats. These lead to muscular paralysis and death by suffocation.
  2. Invest in a mask to protect your face, eyes and respiratory tract. The use of a mask is improved with a charcoal filter.
  3. If you hear a warning about the release of a nerve agent, swallow a diazepam tablet. This will enhance the effects of other antidotes you might be given and protect against permanent brain damage.
  4. Swab furniture, equipment and tools with a 5% chlorine bleach solution. Use a 0.5% chlorine bleach solution to wash your body and extremities.
  5. Make a decontamination powder by mixing equal parts of chloride of lime with magnesium oxide. This powder will absorb and neutralise most nerve agents.
  6. Carry a Swedish auto-injector containing 2 mg of atropine and a reactivator.

Attend one of our courses and learn how to survive any nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

H.E.A.T. tip: Before you offer help to others, make sure that you are safe. Decontaminate the victims and then cordon off the affected areas.




6 Steps for your Password Security

Your level of online privacy is only as good as your level of  online security.

Your password is the first line of defence when securing your identity against potential fraudsters, scammers, organised crime and others wanting unauthorised access to your private information. Yet, most people surf the Internet for the convenience it offers and do not consider the security implications. 

Even if companies have data security policies and insist on passwords to protect sensitive proprietary information, away from the workplace many people are less compliant regarding their own password security. Yet, your personal security starts with the password. That password is the front  door key to your life. 

6 steps for your password security

  1. Beware of password entropy. Do not use all lower case or upper case characters. Rather, select a combination of characters, numbers and symbols for your password.
  2. Do not over analyse your password selection. Rather, choose a word or a phrase that you can use by adding symbols and numbers.
  3. Improve your security by ensuring that you have different passwords for different accounts. Group your accounts together and use a number or alphanumeric set of characters to choose different passwords for those accounts. For example: all your bank account passwords  will start with the phrase LivingWealth, followed by a number and symbol- 123£££. This would represent one bank  account. Other accounts could be LivingWealth, followed by 456$$$ or other numbers and symbols connecting the password to the account.
  4. Use multifactorial authorisation. After you logo- in, you will receive a text message with a randomly generated number. This number provides access to your account.
  5. Do not rely on security questions as they can be easily compromised. If you opt for this system, add another password for enhanced security.
  6. Remember that email was never meant to be secure. Be prepared for the content of your private emails to be displayed in the public domain. If you want to send private information, use encryption.

Learn how to protect your data when travelling. Attend one of our courses and improve your online security with some simple, but effective, techniques.

H.E.A.T. tip: Sign up for a virtual private network (VPN) service. Your VPN service provider will route your encrypted data via its own secure servers.


Hostile Environment Cooking

For many individuals preparing for a hostile environment, food is critical. But, you do not need to pack a lot of rations to survive.

Many bug out bags are heavy because of ration packs and food supplies. Yet, you can survive many days without food, albeit uncomfortably.

However, to carry extra food is not necessary, especially in an urban environment where the local population will continue to have access to food and some supplies.

Rather than carrying specific rations, such as freeze- dried or retort pack meals, consider taking the means of cooking tasty food based on ingredients you will find.

Your bug out bag should contain a selection of items including hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, stock cubes, sugar, tea, coffee, curry powder and cooking oil. These items will enable you to prepare quick, easy and tasty meals to enhance your morale.

6 Easy Bug Out Bag Meals

  1. Caramelised donuts

    Combine some powdered milkshake to a pancake mix and add water. Form into balls and boil in oil until golden brown. Heat a tablespoon of sugar over a flame and drip over the donut.

  1. Mixed fruit salad

Open two tons of mixed fruit and drain off the juice for future use. Chop an orange, apple and another fruit to mix with the drained fruit. Squeeze a lemon onto the fruit and mix.

  1. Fruit crumble

Crush four biscuits in a plastic bag. Add  milkshake powder and bind with the crushed pulp of some fresh fruit. Press flat on the base of a metal pot and gently roast over a low flame for 15 minutes. Serve with a brew.

  1. Fish curry

Clean, scale and cube the fish. Heat oil in a pot and gently fry chopped onions before adding the curry powder and making a paste. Add the fish, small cubes of parboiled potatoes, a tomato, stock cube and a full cup of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, add salt and eat with a spoon. 

  1. Afroturk

Boil 4 litres of oil in a large pot or bucket. Rub a mixture of  lemon pepper, Cajun spices and garlic flakes onto a 6 kg turkey. Place turkey in boiling oil and cook for 40 minutes. Remove charred turkey, carve and add  salt. The blackened skin insulates the flesh whilst it is cooking and produces a moist and flavoursome meat.

  1. Pot bread

Add a 330 ml can of beer to a 500 g packet of self- raising flour. Mix together and leave in a container for an hour in a warm place. Knead the dough for five minutes and let it rise again. Take the risen dough and press it  down into an oiled pot, put on the lid and place coals on the top and the sides. Bake for 40 minutes.

Learn more about survival cooking and how to make deliciously simple meals in any hostile environment by attending one of our courses.

H.E.A.T. tip: If you want a party, make some raisin beer. Add half a cup of raisins and half a cup of sugar to a 2-litre plastic bottle and fill with water. Close the lid but periodically open it  to let any fermenting gases  to escape. Leave for 7 days before drinking.

How to live out of your bug out bag

The general rule of thumb is to carry no more than 25% of your bodyweight. Are you fit enough?

Every  hostile environment will involve the collapse of local infrastructure. Whilst private cars and trucks might be available, there is a very real possibility that you will be relying on your legs for personal transport.

If you weigh 80 kg, you should be able to carry 20kg. The question is: for how long? Whilst you might weigh less, any pack that is heavier than 10kg will weigh you down and prevent ease of movement over difficult urban terrain. Also, for some of your family members, 10 kg is still too heavy and you will need to help with the load or leave items behind.

Although it is accepted that everyone is going to be facing the same challenges in a hostile environment, you must realise that what you do not pack, you will not have. Your bug out bag (bob) needs to contain everything you need for survival, but only you can determine which items are required.

The 6 tips for living out of your bug out bag

  1. Once you have chosen your bag, make sure that it has sufficient pockets, compartments and straps to store everything you need.
  2. Constantly revise what you need to carry. Shelter, water and communications might be priorities for some, whereas others will select more food, water and clothing.
  3. Your outer pockets should contain water. Have an effective  water filter system in your pack so you can purify and replenish supplies on the move.
  4. The bottom section of your pack should store a sleeping bag, bivi/ shelter and clothes.
  5. The middle section can be for your kitchen with a pot, cup, spoon and cooker. Carry 200 ml of cooking oil and some condiments ( salt, curry powder, stock cubes and honey) to cook any opportunity food that you will find.
  6. Pack your other items so that they can be found without making a noise, have a specific location and do not become too cumbersome. Heavier items should be packed high in the main pack and closer to your back.

Attend one of our courses and learn how to select, pack and carry everything you need to survive in a hostile environment.

H.E.A.T. tip: Use safe, secure and memorable locations to cache extra supplies for future use. Caching items will enable you to travel lighter,faster and further when bugging out.

6 Steps for Evading Dogs

There are approximately half a billion dogs in the world. How do you evade them after escaping from unlawful custody?All dogs bite and any dog can alert others to your presence. The military, law enforcement and private security companies in Africa often  use them as both watchdogs and bloodhounds.Irrespective of breed, such dogs share common characteristics.  They are about 60 cms tall;weigh about 40kg; can run about 40 kph over a short distance;  and tend to have a faithful and courageous temperament.

Typically, the preferred breeds for guarding and tracking are Dobermans, Alsatians, Mastiffs and Labradors. Although, the dog that accompanied S.E.A.L. Team 6 which killed Osama bin Laden was a Belgian Malinois named Cairo.

By understanding how dogs function you can practice successful evasion.  Dogs have good vision and are attracted to movement. Yet, their primary senses are hearing and smell. 

Dogs hear better than humans but their hearing is impaired by industrial noise, traffic and bad weather. But,  their sense of smell is 700 X that of humans, and dogs ” see” smell- both air scent and ground scent. Disrupt their primary senses and you can evade dogs.

6 steps for evading dogs

  1. If a dog sees you, freeze in place. As you are not moving, the dog might lose interest.
  2. If you are in a group, split up. Agree a time and place to rendez- vous and go your separate ways.
  3. Run at a steady pace. You will not be able to outrun the dog but you could tire it’s handler.
  4. Climb up, over and along physical features before dropping to the ground.
  5. Cross a body of water or an area that experiences heavy pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  6. Confuse the handler by repeatedly crossing over an obstacle for no apparent reason. Your erratic actions might persuade the handler that the dog has lost your scent.

During our Urban Escape and Evasion courses, you will learn how to: escape from a variety of restraints, get out of any building, scale perimeter fences and defend yourself. 

H.E.A.T. tip: The most effective weapon for disrupting a dog attack is a fire extinguisher. 

6 Step Workout for Optimal Fitness

Most people cannot run a mile ( 1600 metres) or do 10 push ups. Are you fit enough to survive in a hostile environment?

A hostile environment is characterised by a natural or man-made made disaster; no rule of law; collapsed infrastructure; unexploded landmines; sectarian violence and armed militias. Generally, you face two choices in such environments: evacuate to a safer location; or stay behind. Either way, you need to be fit enough to run away from danger, dig through rubble, carry water and climb obstacles. 

The benefits of being fit in such environments go beyond your ability to carry heavy loads. If you are unhealthy and have to rely on medications, realise that pharmacies will not be operating and there will be a ruthless black market for critical drugs. So, you should start conditioning yourself before you find yourself in an environment where you cannot drive, the shops are closed and the grid is down.

After a 5 minute warm up of skipping or a cycle of arm circles, jumping jacks, squats, press ups, burpees and leg scissors, start your workout. 

6 step workout for optimal fitness

  1. Pull

Complete a set of reps that includes pull ups, inverted rows and chin ups

  1. Lift

Complete a set of reps that includes handstand negatives, 

  1. Push

Complete a set of reps that includes push ups, tricep dips and one- arm outrigger push ups 

  1. Squat

Complete a set of reps that includes goblet squats, lunges and burpees

  1. Explosive

Complete a set of reps that includes floor heaves, squat to push opress

  1. Core

Complete a set of reps that includes sit ups, leg raises and crunches

Each set should include 15 to 25 reps with a 30-second rest after each set. Build up to 6 sets.

Combine the above workout with 400 metre repeats and 100 metre shuttle runs.

Attend our Travel Preparedness courses and learn how to develop functional fitness, increase mental toughness, train without a gym and eat well when travelling.

H.E.A.T. tip: Develop a tolerance to pain with the Corsican Twins technique. Imagine that your pain is being felt by someone you do not like and work harder to punish them.


How to Blend in When Panic Reigns.

Hiding in plain sight is a useful defence strategy. Common in the natural world where chameleons look like twigs and fish lie on the sea bed, it is also useful when you find yourself in societal collapse.

Experience of various hostile environments in Africa has shown that mobs sometimes target specific ethnic groups. Government troops have been known to intern foreign nationals at will; and expats have become victims of home invasions, abductions and assaults.

Given such situations, you need to consider what to wear and what to carry with you.

Observe the local street scenes and determine a baseline of activities at a certain time of day. Dress as a local but favour neutral or dark colours in the local style. Do not wear camouflage or carry a military daysack unless absolutely necessary.

Always carry a 24 hour grab bag. The contents must sustain you for a day and provide the basics on which to build a larger kit. As such, the bag should include items for your protection, communications, navigation and some supplies.

6 items in your grab bag

  1. Depending on the local circumstances, arm yourself with  lethal and less- than- lethal weapons.
  2. Create a means of knowing where you are, where you want to go to and how. A map, compass and small GPS will help. 
  1. Keep an emergency stash of nuts and raisins.Other foodstuffs include powerbars, GU, raw chocolate and whiskey.
  2. Develop your communications protocols using paper and pen ( Sharpie), whistles, mirrors, flares, hand-held PTT radios and satellite phones. This provides you with various options when the cellular networks are taken down by the government.
  3. Carry a means of illumination. A torch can be used for signalling, lighting up an area and as a distraction weapon. Always carry spare batteries.
  4. Carry a lightweight and waterproof jacket. Often, hot days are followed by cold nights during certain seasons in Africa. Keep a pair of gloves and shemagh in your pack to protect your hands and face, especially in a riot.

Attend our Escape and Evasion course to learn more about what to carry every day, different types of weapons and covert movement by day or night.

H.E.A.T. tip: As tear gas is actually comprised of synthetic halogen compounds that are solid at room temperature, simply rinse your eyes and clothes with cold water. Do not use hot water. This will open up your pores and cause more irritation.