So, I’m back

I wonder if blogging has just fallen from fashion. I’ve certainly been busy these last couple of years, maybe a bit too busy for the internet. No one to blame but me.

I always intended for this site to be a sort of clearinghouse for quality content, and not just the ravings of the Mad Prophet of Preparedness. There is so much good stuff out there, and even more bad, that it’s hard to separate the kernels of wisdom from the dross. My goal from the beginning was to help with that.

To that end, I will be posting a lot more. My goal again is original content. There will still be the occasional commentary and repost; but more importantly I need an outlet to get my own ideas out. Since true learning always begins with repentance, and is a growing process, I ask for your forgiveness and invite you to grow with me.

Thank you.

-Bo

First Aid Kit

I have been involved with the preparedness movement for a long time. I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War during Reagan era. My dad was, and is, a big influence. He always had American Survivalist and Soldier of Fortune magazines around the house. He started getting big into the movement during the Carter administration, when many were convinced the nation would collapse under its own weight (similar to what we are seeing today). The Eighties were really the height of the Cold War tension. I know folks like to point to the Duck and Cover era of the 1960’s and the Cuban Missile Crisis; but by the Eighties, we had become inured to it. There was the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the SDI Initiative, and Chernobyl. It was frightening to anyone paying attention. Somehow, we got through it.

Recognizing the warning signs, I chose to study nursing. Reading preparedness magazines, online articles, and books on the subject, I noticed that the two subjects most lacking from most preparedness individual’s and group knowledge pools are communications and medical knowledge and skills. I sought to rectify that by getting an amateur radio license and taking nursing school prerequisite courses. With that step completed, I applied for admission to a baccalaureate-level nursing program. My thought was that no matter what else happened, I would have the bachelor’s degree; and that I could apply for a clinical graduate program after.

The thing about nursing school is that it changes the way a person thinks, the same way that law school or engineering change the way one thinks. The process is slow; but when you’re done you look back and say, “Wow, that’s what I used to think?” It colors my preparedness and adds depth to my planning.

I also took private classes offered by local trainers outside of the college or university level. One local outfitter offered shooting classes taught by members of the 19th Special Forces Group. I came to know and befriend a few of them. Their influence in my preparations continues years later. One class offered by the now-closed FBMG outfitters was a weeklong class on emergency preparedness. It included rudiments of equipment, preparing for different types of disasters, convoy operations, selecting weapons, packing a three-day bag, and radio communications. I based the first aid kit in this article upon their recommendations and experience in Afghanistan, tempered by my own experience and education as a registered nurse. I recommend anyone carrying such a kit (as simple as it is) attend a quality first aid course; and I make no guarantees, expressly or implied, regarding the contents and present the information for educational experiences only.

First Aid Kit

Here are the contents of my patrol bag (“bug-out bag”, “get-out-of-Dodge bag”, etc.) first aid kit. I built this kit because many so-called “first aid kits” are little more than glorified boxes of Band-Aids, with little in the way of treating the kinds of injuries or ailments one might see seventy-two hours into an emergency situation. I did quite a bit of research, and put together what I consider the bare minimum for a patrol bag first aid kit. When you put together your own kit, consider the types of injuries you expect to treat. Are you preparing for evacuating from a hurricane? Are you hunkering down for a blizzard or ice storm? You have likely only built your kit to last about three days, the same as your bug-out bag. What happens on the seventy-third hour? You had better be where you were going and resupplied, or be limber enough to kiss your own ass goodbye. That’s the way it is in the survival game. The situation is unforgiving; and while willingness is a state of mind readiness is a matter of fact. There are no “do-overs” in a worst-case scenario. This is not a comic book or a video game. If you die you don’t “re-spawn” at the last checkpoint. There are the usual caveats: first, this is only my patrol bag kit. I have a much more extensive kit that at home, and in the car when I travel. Second, this kit is not to be confused with the blowout kit that I carry in a MOLLE pouch on my chest rig (Look for revisions to the blowout kit entry soon). That kit is for me if someone shoots me. It is not for anyone else.

The first aid kit, by contrast, is for treating me or other people. I do not mean it to be a catchall end of the world kit. It’s only to make life easier (or prolong it) until we can get a doc to take over. It’s still mostly a “boo boo kit” or “snivel kit” and not really appropriate for dealing with trauma or serious illness. It’s just to keep one comfortable when moving to a more suitable destination, whether rally point, bug-out location, or retreat. Finally, yes, all of these things do fit in the box, snugly, yes, but without bending or lifting the lid.

First is the box. I found it stuffed with mostly Band-Aids and other near-useless crap and sold as a first aid kit. It’s a sturdy box, with a gasket seal, and says it’s made in the States (always a plus, in my book). I don’t know how waterproof it really is, and I am not that anxious to find out. I’ve seen these advertised online, with the same contents that mine came with, for about twenty Federal Reserve Notes. I found mine for twelve at a gun show. I stripped out the contents, chucked most of it, and kept the box. I really like it. I have picked up a few more; and I will gladly take more if I can find them at that price to make duplicate kits. You don’t have to use a box like this, although I do recommend one with a gasket lid. Any appropriately sized pencil box will likely be sufficient. If the waterproof box seems like overkill it is because I think soggy, ruined first aid kits are no fun.

FAK open
Here are the kit’s contents:

1.) One pair of EMT shears.

2.) Twelve generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine) capsules

3.) Two 4 in. x 41/2 in. Tegaderm occlusive dressings

4.) One bottle Visine (Tetrahydrozoline Ophthalmic) with allergy relief

5.) Twelve Tylenol Cold tablets

6.) One bottle of ibuprofen

7.) Twelve generic bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) tablets

Small Items

8.) Twelve loperamide tablets (Diamode, Diar-Aid, Imodium, Imotil, K-Pek II, Kaopectate II, Imodium A-D, Maalox Anti-Diarrheal, etc.)

9.) Five packets (two tablets each) replacement tablets

10.) One pair stainless steel fine-tipped tweezers

11.) Two pair Nitrile gloves

12.) One tube Krazy Glue

13.) One tube Blistex

14.) One Mylar space blanket

15.) One roll athletic tape*

15.) One small bottle of hand sanitizer

16.) Five butterfly bandages

17.) Assorted adhesive bandages

18.) One 1 ounce tube Neosporin (get the smallest tube you can find- a little goes a long way)

19.) One 4.5 in. x 3 yard gauze roll

FAK Items 2

20.) Two eye pads

21.) Four 4 in. x 4 in. dressings

22.) Two hemostatic dressings

23.) One Swedish military surplus pressure dressing (these are the smallest I have found)

24.) One 8-inch piece of Moleskin

25.) One elastic bandage*

* Be aware of any latex allergies you or your party may have before using these. Latex-free options are an alternative.

FAK large items

There you have it, one seventy-two hour first-aid kit, for bug-out bag or patrol pack, and suitable for treating most minor injuries in the field. About the only thing I would change at this point, I think, would be if I could find a roll of duct tape the same size as the athletic tape. I would want a roll, though, and not tape rewrapped around a pencil, cardboard, etc. I think a roll of tape is easier to use with wet, dirty, or shaky hands.

I also have four medical-related preps to my BOB, but outside the already strained kit: a bar of Phisoderm soap, a four ounce bottle of Betadine, a SAM-type splint, and four more pairs of Nitrile gloves in a Ziploc freezer bag. I am much more concerned lately with taking care not only of myself, but others in a disaster situation.

Shakeout AAR

Well, as expected, the Utah Shakeout was a farce. The department with whom I was to drill, didn’t. They conducted a first aid in-service, not that the in-service was bad, but there was no drill. I checked in with the county’s EOC fifteen minutes after the “quake” (because it was during a break in the training). Dispatch wondered where we were, that is, why I didn’t check in immediately. I told her we were all dead. That concluded my involvement with the drill.

The real highlight of the day was meeting with the observer from the county. She had a long look at my 2-meter mobile rig, saying that she wanted something like that for all of the county campuses. I have no hope that it will ever happen, mostly because it should.

To summarize, after “drilling” with the county for a day, I reiterate: You’re on your own. No one is coming for you. The system can’t take care of itself. No way is it taking care of John Q. Public.

Utah shakeout

At least an honest attempt at maybe getting ready:

http://www.shakeout.org/utah/

This purported to be Utah’s largest earthquake drill EVAR. I will be involved in some small official capacity, and am anxious to see how it goes. I will definitely be monitoring Utah ARES 2-meter nets. I was on the phone this week with a representative of Utah ARES. I asked what freqs they’d be using. He told me he was unsure at this time (less than a week before).

Frankly, I’m so busy with finals that I am unsure why I try sometimes.

I will take good notes and post an AAR after.

 

Utah gov announces earthquake preparedness week

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_78ba3218-40bb-11df-865e-001cc4c03286.html?mode=comments

The Associated Press Daily Herald | Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 7:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has designated April 4-10 as Earthquake Preparedness Week.

A Web site provides tips on what to do in preparation for an earthquake and its aftermath.

The Utah Seismic Safety Commission says about 700 earthquakes, including aftershocks, occur every year in Utah.

Roughly 80 percent of the state’s population would be affected by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment of the Wasatch Fault.

___

On the Net:

http://bereadyutah.gov

Know that this is just another effort to assuage the masses’ fears from the .gov. At best it will wake some people up to preparedness. At worst, folks that make “72-hour kits” prolong their lives by three miserable days.

The website above, http://bereadyutah.gov, is mostly garbage. Still, it might have some useful ideas.

Get that “72-hour” crap right out of your head. You’ll need a lot more than three days’ worth of food, water, toiletries, medicine, cash, etc. How much is up to you; but it should be enough to land you on your feet, without winding up at the FEMA/Red Cross camp shelter.

More craptasticness from Yahoo

So, Yahoo is saying to get your “disaster kit” in order. More pablum for the masses: “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.”

It doesn’t work that way. What did we learn from Katrina? You take care of yourself or you get an invitation to the Murderdome.

Read their tripe here: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/preparing-a-disaster-kit-2467090/

Preparing a Disaster Kit

The recent earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent fears over nuclear radiation have prompted many to turn to the Web for advice on disaster preparedness. Online lookups for “disaster kits” and “how to make a disaster kit” have both more than tripled during the past week.

In short, folks are wondering, what they should have in their kit? Opinions vary depending on what sort of disaster you happen to be preparing for. However, most experts, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross, agree that the following items are essential.

Water

This is the big one. You must have plenty of water. Just how much? FEMA, the disaster preparedness wing of the US Government, insists that you should have at least a three-day supply. A rule of thumb — have one gallon of water per person per day. If you happen to live in a hot climate, you’ll want to increase that amount. “Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed,” the site writes. Also, keep in mind that children, the elderly, nursing mothers, and people who are ill will need more water. Of course, you’ll want to store the water in non-breakable containers and keep an eye on the expiration date. Water doesn’t spoil in the traditional sense, but it can taste bad after a while.

First aid supplies

There’s no telling what you’ll be faced with in the wake of a disaster, but a few basic first aid supplies will certainly come in handy. Again, according to FEMA, you’ll want several bandages of various sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, a thermometer, antiseptic, petroleum jelly, sunscreen, safety pins, and more. You’ll also want a good supply of non-prescription medication, including aspirin, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacid, laxative, and some poison control supplies. For a full list, check here.

Food

Like water, you’re going to want a healthy supply of non-perishable food should the unexpected happen. The American Red Cross writes that you should have a three-day supply ready in case you are forced to leave your home. And you should also have a two-week supply in the event that you stay in your home. Of course, the food should be easy to open and prepare.


Clothing and sanitation supplies

This mostly applies to people in cold-weather areas. Should disaster strike, have some warm clothes at the ready. You’ll want to have at least one complete change of clothes for each person. FEMA suggests a coat, sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, gloves, hat, scarf, thermal underwear, and rain gear. You’ll also want to have plenty of blankets, sunglasses, and various sanitation supplies like soap, toilet paper, detergent, and more.

Tools and special items

Just a few things you’ll want to have on you: battery operated radio and batteries, flashlight, cash, nonelectric can opener, pliers, compass, matches, signal flare, paper and pencil, wrench to shut off household gas and water, whistle, and map of the immediate area. Important documents like IDs, birth certificates, credit card information, prescription numbers, and extra eyeglasses are also good ideas. Again, this is just a partial list. For the full list, please visit FEMA.gov.

Learn it. Live it. Love it.

http://www.rural-revolution.com/2010/08/hoarding.html

All I can say is “Amen!” (unlike many blog entries, even the comments were golden). I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately. When folks call storing food “hoarding” it’s just so much sour grapes and shame. It’s simple, buy luxuries or lay up some extra needful things. Be prepared, or get caught flat-footed and hungry because you didn’t.

I read of folks in Houston in the hours before Rita’s landfall coming to a near riot because they couldn’t get plywood for their windows. Is it that hard to keep pre-cut pieces of plywood the garage, along with the bottled water and extra batteries? (ops, I guess it is).

My patience regarding the unprepared is wearing thin. Prepare for yourselves temporally and spiritually, or prepare yourself for a world of hurt at your local REMA or Red Cross shelter. One thing is certain: I won’t be there, and neither will my family.

Once more with feeling, “Carry your damned blowout kit!”

Lots of good stuff here. My advice is to not carry one blowout kit, but to carry two. Remember that your blowout kit is only for you. If you share it, what will someone use on you, when you get shot?

So yes, carry two blowout kits. One for you, and one to share. Its evidence is manifest once again. These things save lives. Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like mine; but at least read my rationales. Even if you don’t know how to use it, carry it anyway. Someone else there might just have the skills, but not the resources.

See my kit recommendations here: http://wp.me/prx0A-2i (contains both recommendations and peer-reviewed rationales)

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, January 21, 2011; 9:57 PM

TUCSON – Some of the first deputies to arrive at the scene of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage here described a scene of “silent chaos” on Friday, and they added that the carnage probably would have been much worse without the help of a $99 first-aid kit that recently became standard-issue.

Pima County Sheriff’s Department deputies said they were dispatched to what they believed was a routine shooting. But they arrived, they found a blood-drenched parking lot that looked more like the scene of a plane crash. Sgt. Gilberto Caudillo got on his radio and pleaded, “Send every ambulance you have out here.”

“Innocent people looked like they were just massacred,” Caudillo said Friday.

He was among about 10 sheriff’s deputies who found themselves doing the duties of paramedics rather than police. In the six minutes before paramedics flooded the site, they had to stanch chest wounds, open injured airways, apply tourniquets and try to calm down victims and the blood-covered bystanders who tried to help.

“We told them, ‘All the bad stuff is over, you’re safe. We’ll stay by your side,’ ” said Deputy Matthew Salmon.

In the end, 13 of those shot survived, while six did not. One of the injured, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was the last person still hospitalized until Friday morning, when she was discharged and transported to a rehabilitation facility in Texas.

Doctors and law enforcement officials told reporters here that the incident would have been much worse without a small brown kit devised by David Kleinman, a SWAT team medic who had become concerned about rising violence.

Kleinman cobbled together the Individual First Aid Kits out of simple items used by combat medics in Iraq and Afghanistan: an emergency bandage pioneered by the Israeli army; a strip of gauze that contains a substance which coagulates blood on contact; a tactical tourniquet; shears that are sturdy and sharp enough to slice off victims’ clothing; and sealing material that works especially well on chest wounds.

The items in the kit were each inexpensive; the Israeli bandage, for example, cost only $6, but deputies reached for one “over and over at the scene,” Kleinman said.

It is unusual for police officers to carry such medical equipment, but Capt. Byron Gwaltney, who coordinated the sheriff’s office’s response to the shooting, said it proved crucial in this case because the deputies were the first to arrive.

“It would have been a lot worse” without those tools, Gwaltney said. The deputies were trained to use the kit, in a program the Pima force called “First Five Minutes,” six months ago.

The deputies who initially responded said they were not the ones who arrested the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner. Instead, their focus was conducting triage through the parking lot: figuring out who was dead, who was injured and who was simply a helpful person who had jumped in to help.

They used the tourniquets and gauze to stop the bleeding. They used a chest seal, also in the kit, to close bullet wounds. They used the shears in the kit to cut off the victims’ clothes.

“When I look back, I don’t know if we drowned out the moans to focus or if it was quiet,” said Deputy Ryan Inglett, who treated several victims with combat gauze and assisted in CPR. “This is something I will never forget.”

sandhya@washpost.com horwitzs@washpost.com

Edit: Here is a picture of the kit that the PCSD is using:

It’s a simple kit. I like a little bit more; but it will work.

2010 in review

I’m not impressed by these statistics. The intent of that M14 article was to persuade readers to email Magpul and ask for M14 Pmags. That’s it. Unfortunately, it’s become the number one draw to this blog. I do hope that folks that Google search “M14 Afghanistan” are staying to read my other writing.

To the folks that come learning to position shoot or to use an M14 sling, I salute you. Those photo tutorials remain the backbone of this blog. Continue to practice until you can proudly take the title “Rifleman”.

There will be continued medical and preparedness posts in 2011. They’re the easiest to write considering my school schedule. There will likely be additional riflery posts in the summer of 2011, but not before.

Finally, thank you to my small core of readers. I did start this blog to inform. It has become a bit of a sounding board of late. I will continue to strive for the highest quality writing, and to include well-formatted documents and including accepted rationales for all of my conclusions. I want the information I present to be excellent. Here is to a better 2011.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 45 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 4th with 53 views. The most popular post that day was Army to double number of M14 rifles issued in Afghanistan..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were m14tfl.com, blogsurfer.us, wethearmed.com, alonekingofone.wordpress.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for monster hunter international 2, m14 afghanistan, hasty sling, m14 in afghanistan, and squatting position.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Army to double number of M14 rifles issued in Afghanistan. March 2010
4 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Offhand, kneeling, squatting June 2009

3

Use your sling. June 2009
2 comments

4

Blowout kit redux May 2010

5

Me June 2009

Just-in-Time Consumerism?

“From the Wall Street Journal

Julia Robinson for The Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Seabern in her destocked pantry. She is using groceries that she already has before buying more. Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

When the economy sank two years

ago, Rebecca Seabern realized she could shrink her grocery bill just by eating into her crammed kitchen pantry.

“I had eight boxes of lasagna in there and a year’s worth of paper towels,” says Ms. Seabern, a 31-year-old accountant and married mother of two in San Antonio. Today, Ms. Seabern still has her job, but her antipathy to hoarding hasn’t changed. “I’ve stopped purchasing things just to have them on hand,” she says, preferring to make bigger mortgage payments instead.

The Great Depression replaced a spendthrift culture with a generation of frugal savers. The recent recession, too, has left in its wake a deeply changed shopper: the just-in-time consumer.

For over two decades, Americans bought big, bought more and stocked up, confident that bulk shopping, often on credit, provided the best value for their money. But the long recession—with its high unemployment, plummeting home values and depleted savings accounts—altered the way many people think about the future. Manufacturers and retailers report that people are buying less, more frequently, and are determined to keep cash on hand.

“Consumers are saying, ‘I’m going to buy what I need for a specific period of time,’ rather than loading up and buying two or three extra units just because they can get a good price on it,” says Richard Wolford, CEO of Del Monte Foods Co. He calls the phenomenon “need it now.”

Executives peddling wares from canned goods to cashmere say the shift in consumption habits is prompting them to change how they produce, package, price and deliver their goods.

Food and household-product manufacturers, including Del Monte and Kimberly-Clark
Corp., are rolling out smaller package sizes for consumers who would rather buy a week’s worth of toilet paper or dog food than stock up for a month.

Grocers are trying to accommodate smaller but more frequent shopping trips. Supervalu Inc. is changing displays more often. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. is going after a new clientele of families and individuals by selling eggs and margarine in smaller lots.

Apparel makers and retailers such as Elie Tahari and Net-a-Porter.com are changing their production and selling schedules for shoppers who increasingly want to buy their clothes in season rather than ahead of time.

The new buying behavior is expected to be on full display this holiday season, which kicks into high gear the day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday.”

Shoppers are further behind in holiday shopping compared with previous years, with just 15.7% of their holiday shopping completed as of the week ended Nov. 14, compared with 20.5% completed during the same period last year and 28.3% in 2008,
according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers.

“There’s going to be a pause before purchase: Consumers will ask themselves, ‘Do I really need this, can I really afford this?'” says Thom Blischok, president of global innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm. He expects a U-shaped purchase cycle, with big sales at the start and the end of this holiday season. “If I shop on Black Friday, I’ll get a helluva deal, and if I wait a couple of weeks, I’m going to get another helluva deal.”

So far, the impact of just-in-time buying on the corporate bottom line is mixed. Smaller unit sizes, for example, generally mean higher prices—and therefore higher profit margins for manufacturers.

Still, the phenomenon is so new it hasn’t shown up broadly in
earnings. A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman notes that potentially higher profits on smaller packages can be offset by higher manufacturing costs.

[JIT_p1]

And companies are still reeling from lower sales volumes that began in 2008 with what some dub “pantry deloading.” Over the past two years, the number of items kept in American pantries has fallen about 20%, according to a recent SymphonyIRI survey. Consumers are also cutting back on the range of goods they stock.The average household had 369 unique items in its medicine cabinets, pantries and cosmetics bags this year, compared with 404 in 2006, the survey found.

Procter & Gamble
Co. has been tracking consumers’ pantries since mid-2008, believing them to be a reliable gauge of how the recession has changed shoppers’ behavior. About one-third of consumers are changing their pantry levels, P&G’s research indicates, with about 75% of those cutting back on
inventory.

P&G expects consumers’ leaner, pickier shopping habits to last. “There’s almost a confidence and pride in the ability to make tailored choices for themselves,” says Joan Lewis, P&G’s global consumer and market knowledge officer.

The new shopping behavior is having a big effect on club stores, the ultimate pantry-filling destinations, which offer low prices but require bulk purchases. Some, including Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s, have reported increased shopping-trip frequency and decreased transaction sizes. To adjust, some discounters are rethinking
their businesses.

[JIT_jmp]

BJ’s, based in Natick, Mass., began courting new customers two years ago to expand its membership, including smaller households and empty-nesters. It began shrinking its package sizes, in part to lure shoppers more interested in weekly purchases than monthly stock-ups. Now, the chain of 191 stores
sells cartons of 18 eggs, instead of only five-dozen egg packages. It offers two containers of margarine of nearly two pounds each instead of only five-pound buckets.

The margarine change alone resulted in 46% more members who bought margarine, the company says. BJ’s credits the shift to smaller package sizes with driving an increase in membership fees of 6% in the quarter ended Oct. 30.

“This concept that club stores are only for the stock-up visit—I don’t think that’s true anymore,” says Bruce Graham, BJ’s senior vice president of food.

BJ’s is trying to make its stores more attractive and change promoted items to encourage more frequent visits. For example, it is including more seasonal products into its wall of featured items at the entrance of the store, including pumpkins, fresh flowers and amaryllis bulbs.

The changes at retail are often prompted by manufacturers. This summer, Del Monte began reducing the number of canned fruits and vegetables in multi-packs sold at club stores—and advising other retailers to reduce the number of cans required to qualify for a discount. The company realized consumers were more worried about overall cost, even if it meant a higher cost per can.

“There is a much lower incidence of pantry stock-up shopping trips and a much increased incidence of quick trips,” says Del Monte’s Mr. Wolford. Del Monte won’t comment on whether smaller package sizes have boosted its bottom line. Analysts say profit margins could rise slightly over time. But the bigger advantage may be capturing a sale from an otherwise-wary consumer.

With the smaller package size, “you don’t lose sales and you stem the profit erosion,” says Bill Chappell, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “But you don’t necessarily recoup” the lost sales and profits.

Just-in-time consumption is also disrupting long-established purchase cycles, including the annual back-to-school shopping ritual. Normally, demand for school supplies begins in early July and runs through mid-August. But this year, the prime season shifted to late July through September, says Mark Ketchum, chief executive of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. He says the company’s Paper Mate and Uni-ball pens and Sharpie markers sold well, albeit three to four weeks later than normal.

Delayed purchases affected the entire pen market. “The total market waited until later in the year and seemed to shift behind a shopper desire not to make a mistake,” Mr. Ketchum says. He adds that the premium-pen category, thanks to new-product introductions, grew in sales at the expense of the low-end market.

As a result of delayed buying, Newell overhauled its manufacturing process and simplified its product portfolio. This will enable it to better handle last-minute surges in demand for popular Christmas gifts like its Irwin pliers and Calphalon cookware. “It’s better for our inventory situation and our manufacturing to be able to produce and ship in a more even pattern, rather than all at once,” Mr. Ketchum says.

Shoppers of high-end discretionary products are shifting to just-in-time buying as well.

Kathi Toll, a 49-year-old business consultant in Chicago, used to enjoy browsing beauty counters and indulging in new products as a pick-me-up. Last year she decided to use up what she already had—piles of La Mer, Clinique and Estée Lauder products—as a way to save cash while she pursues an advanced degree. “I have boatloads of this stuff, and it’s time I used it up,” she says.

Beauty brands are taking note. Before the economic downturn, loyal users of luxury skin-care line La Prairie used to buy multiple bottles of skin creams at a time, even though the products can top $500 apiece. But two years ago, “they started waiting until their jar was empty before they bought another, about every 90 to 120 days,” says Lynne Florio, president at La Prairie, owned by Beiersdorf AG.

Noting that some consumers seemed to want to buy even less at a time, last year La Prairie began selling half-sizes of moisturizers, eye creams and serums. The smaller sizes, which cost about 20% less than full-size counterparts and are only sold for limited periods each year, help draw new and longtime users to the line when they’re not ready to invest $1,000 or more on the complete regimen.

“Did we lose customers during the economic crisis? No,” says Ms. Florio. “They’re just coming more often and buying a little less
replenishment at a time.” La Prairie’s business year-to-date is up
compared with 2009, and the company says it expects to see a gain next year.

Shoppers have long groused that the clothing and shoes in stores are often out of step with the weather outside. Now, they’re protesting with their wallets. “It was around April of this year when we really started to realize that consumers are willing to spend cautiously on things they need to have, but only when they need it,” says Mike Berry, director of industry research for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a unit of MasterCard Inc.

From 2003 to 2008, women’s apparel sales tended to peak in September, Mr. Berry notes. “When the economy is sailing high…people buy new fashions as soon as they’re on the shelf, rather than buying a sweater to stay warm,” Mr. Berry says.

But this fall, that habit changed. In September, when new fall fashions hit stores, sales of women’s apparel fell 0.2% compared with the year before, while footwear was up just 0.7% according to MasterCard. By October, when cooler weather hit, apparel and footwear sales rose 5.3% and 5.9%, respectively. Markdowns didn’t play a role in the uptick, Mr. Berry says.

To better accommodate women who want to buy now, wear now, Net-a-Porter has changed tack: It stopped heavily discounting seasonal items like boots and coats a few months after they shipped—as many other retailers do—to make sure it has goods in stock to match the weather. “There’s the challenge that other retailers are marking those items down, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take,” says Holli Rogers, Net-a-Porter’s buying director.

To maintain a steady supply of new fashions throughout each season, Net-a-Porter has been inking deals with designers for exclusive collections with later delivery dates. This summer, British label Issa will offer a line of bright, summery lace dresses on Net-a-Porter in April or May, instead of the typical delivery in February. “You want to make these purchases when you need it, not way in advance,” Ms. Rogers says.

Write to Ellen Byron at ellen.byron@wsj.com

Copyright 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

There is a lot to consider here. Is this a good or bad thing, from a preparedness perspective? It’s prudent that people are hanging on to more of their money; and buying food on credit is almost never a good idea. Still, has the pendulum swung too far the other way that people are keeping no extra food on hand? Certainly if our economy holds, and barring nationwide disaster, there will be food available. Food is still relatively inexpensive, barring continued inflation. Cash at home and on-hand is a wise decision, assuming that people aren’t spending it on iphones and xBoxes.

My advice is to meet somewhere in the middle. Don’t purchase food on credit; but still have extra food. If your only extra money every month is $1.75, buy an eighty cent can of beans. Put the change in a mason jar. There is room for both saving money and prudently buying extra food.