Category — Reviews

Field Test Report of the Midland WR-300 All Hazards Radio

As of August 2011, there were 1,665 tornadoes across the country resulting in 549 fatalities.  There have been 14 named storms from the National Hurricane Center this year so far and predicted storms for the remainder of the year have increased to 19.   Hurricane Irene alone caused 46 fatalities across 13 states.  Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th, but, like tornadoes, hurricanes can form anytime of the year. With a hurricane there is at least an advanced warning of a few days, whereas tornado warnings average only ten minutes notice. Just this week, tornadoes touched down here in Central and Northern Virginia.  These events come on the heels of our region’s first 5.8 magnitude earthquake since the 1800’s which continues to produce after-shocks – the latest being just last night. Having adequate warning of an impending hurricane, tornado, severe snow storm, and flooding is crucial if we are to mitigate such events in our lives or in the lives of those for whom we are responsible. Therefore an All Hazards weather radio equipped with S.A.M.E. technology is a good investment. The Midland WR-300 All Hazards Weather Radio makes a lot of sense in keeping you, your family, and workplace informed.

While broadcast radio and television do an excellent job of keeping you aware of severe weather activities, such resources are crippled during a power outage and are limited when we are involved in many of our daily activities – sleeping, working, enjoying leisure activities – when such devices are often not accessible or simply powered off. Oftentimes people can be caught unaware to the point where it becomes too late to react.

Read complete Field Test Report

October 19, 2011   1 Comment

The New National Terrorism Advisory System [NTAS]: Out with the Old and In with the New

Our prayers and condolences are extended to those affected by the deadly rash of tornadoes that spread wanton destruction across the United States from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Alabama and up in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please support the American Red Cross and/or a faith-based disaster relief effort to help out our fellow Americans in desperate need.

It would seem that with all that is going on in the world over the past week or so, that an important and equally newsworthy item may have slipped by many Americans. The old Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) has been ushered out, and the new system replacing it the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) is now active. The multi-colored coded terror alert system is no more, and the new NTAS system now only has two “Alerts”. Secretary Napolitano announced the new National Terrorism Advisory System, which would more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats to the American public, on April 27, 2011.

An “ELEVATED ALERT” warns of a credible terrorist threat against the U.S. and its territories that is general in both timing and target, or details significant trends and developments in terrorism such that it is reasonable to recommend implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate against an attack.

An “IMMINENT ALERT” warns of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the U.S. and its territories that is sufficiently specific and credible to recommend implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate against an attack.

“Alerts” can be specifically directed … meaning the alerts may go either to the general public and/or may go to specific groups (i.e. law enforcement, Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR), certain cities, certain geographical areas, etc.)  This will be determined by the nature of the threat. Effectively the new NTAS is designed to give the public greater confidence in our government’s ability to warn us of a terrorist threat. It also now includes institutions so they can be better informed should those institutions be the subject of a direct or in-direct terrorist threat. The NTAS alerts are both to the public and/or law enforcement, critical infrastructure assets, etc.

Staying Informed

For you social media types and millions of email users, you can receive NTSA critical information feeds direct via:

The seven page National Terrorism Advisory System Public Guide is also highly recommended for “light bedside reading” (it’s not War and Peace) and/or distribution in your organization to keep everyone abreast of current anti-terrorist protective measures being taken to protect public safety.

Now if travelers at airports can just get over the body scan and pat down issues and realize we all just want to get to our destinations safely and alive, the stress of airline travel could be reduced as flying anywhere is no fun anymore!


May 2, 2011   No Comments

Leatherman “Crunch” Tool: A Multi-Tool For Emergency Preparedness

FIELD REPORT PERIOD: February/March 2011

PRODUCT:  Leatherman Crunch™ Multi-Tool

LOCATION: Washington State

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Windy, Rain with Snow

EVALUATORS: John A. Larsen and ICE PACK® Emergency Preparedness Systems LLC Staff

OBJECTIVE/PURPOSE:   Test and Evaluate the Leatherman Crunch Multi-Tool for use in emergency and disaster response situations.


There are numerous multi-tools in the marketplace with new ones being introduced nearly every year. Some are fairly general in nature, yet others are designed for specific activities. The “Crunch”™ is one of the family of Multi-Tools made by Leatherman selected by ICE PACK<® product developers to be included in our Disaster Sustainment Systems. The Crunch multi-tool comes packaged with operator instructions and a black ballistic nylon belt pouch. It has a total of 12 tools that include:

  1. Locking Pliers
  2. A 420 HC (High Carbon) Stainless Steel, Serrated Sheeps Foot Knife Blade (2.2 inches long)
  3. Wire Cutters
  4. Hard Wire Cutters
  5. Wire Stripper
  6. Three (3) Flat-Head Screwdrivers (small, medium and large)
  7. Phillips Head screwdriver
  8. Metal/Wood file
  9. Bottle opener
  10. Ruler (inches and millimeters)
  11. Lanyard Ring
  12. Hex Bit Adapter

The Crunch is four inches in length closed and weighs a mere 6.9 0zs.


For the last month I have used the Crunch in a series of simulated emergency situations, as well as two real world incidents. First, I tested the signature tool of the Crunch, the “locking pliers”. The ability to tighten the pliers down on an object and let go of the Crunch is a definite asset in an emergency situation, especially one where you may be the only person there. After opening the two halves of the Crunch simply rotate the pliers’ head out of the handle, and place the base of the jaws into the top of the second handle. Incidentally, this is pretty intuitive to do, as for some reason I had an instruction sheet that did not cover the Crunch; however, I was able to go on to the Leatherman Web site ( and download the instruction sheet. This is a handy capability, as instruction sheets have a way of being lost. The pliers can then be used as normal pliers, and also by tightening the round screw head in the base of one of the Crunch handles, lock the pliers onto whatever object (up to a 1-inch diameter) you are working on.

Around your home what emergency situation could you use the Crunch for? If you are in a home that has uses natural gas, and for some reason (e.g. earthquake structural damage, etc.) you have to turn off the supply of gas to your home, do you have the appropriate wrench to do it, or can you access it? Another situation involves some catastrophic occurrence (e.g. frozen pipes due to a utility outage during winter, etc.) where water pipes burst in your home. Do you know where the master water value is? How many times a year do you turn it off and on? It may be very stiff, if like in my home, it has not been turned off for about eight years. With the Crunch Locking Pliers, you should be able to turn the water off, saving your home from serious water damage. Under extreme conditions, are you heating up canned food or melting snow over a fire? You can use the pliers head to remove the hot can from the fire without burning yourself!

Not all emergencies happen in the home, and having the Crunch can often prevent an emergency from happening on the road. I carry a Leatherman in both of my vehicles and have had two occasions that I needed them. First one we had driven to the Oregon Coast, and were returning home on a late Sunday evening. After stopping at a small, roadside restaurant and eating we were preparing to leave when I noticed my driver’s side headlight had burnt out. I had recently replaced the other headlight so had a second bulb, popped the hood and found that to get to the driver side bulb I had to remove the battery. I had a screwdriver with me, but without the pliers on my Leatherman, I would have been in trouble, as nothing was open and we were about three hours from home. As it was, I was able to quickly remove the battery, change the light bulb, and continue our drive home.

The second incident was easier to correct. Another Sunday drive, heading home from visiting a good friend, again in Oregon, and we were heading into bad weather. I turned on the windshield wipers, and of course the driver’s side wiper did not work. It was a simple matter to use the large flat head screwdriver to pop off the plastic cap, and then use the pliers to tighten the nut on the windshield wiper arm and continue on. A much preferable outcome than driving for an hour and a half down twisting country roads, and then another two hours on a major interstate, all in a driving rainstorm, without an operating windshield wiper. Not a safe situation!

The Crunch has three different sized (small, medium and large) flathead screwdrivers, and Phillips head screwdrivers. This multi-tool pretty well covers all your basic needs when it comes to tightening or loosening various types of screws.

Nearly all multi-tools have a knife blade and the Crunch has a serrated sheeps foot blade. I was able to quickly and effortlessly cut through a thick piece of plasterboard, as well as using for mundane tasks such as cutting up branches for kindling wood, opening cardboard boxes, and preparing meals.

The tip of the file is also the large flat head screwdriver and one side of the file is for metal the other side is for wood. Both files worked well, and I could see a situation where you had a round pipe that you could not get a sufficient grip on with the pliers head, but you could file two flats, one on either side of the pipe, then the pliers would be able to grip.

I found four different types of electrical wiring in the garage and had no problem cutting any of them using the hard wire cutters in the jaws of the pliers head. When stripping wire it worked best to crimp the wire, then rotate the wire, crimp again, then using the jaws of the pliers you could easily pull the plastic covering off of the wire. If you have an emergency generator at your home, the ability to cut and strip wiring is a definite plus. Do not work on electrical wires (house or office wiring) that are connected to electrical sources, you could be shocked badly!

The black ballistic nylon belt pouch is well made and can be worn either vertically or horizontally on your belt, and has a large Velcro™ closure that is quite secure. There is a lanyard loop that you could tie in a length of cord, ensuring you will not lose the Crunch. In addition to the tools in the Crunch ™ you also have the option of using ¼-inch Hex driver tools (typically screw driver, Torx, square and hex head). Simply grasp the knurled, round knob that controls the tightening of the pliers head, unscrew it and remove it from the handle (be careful not to lose this large screw as its critical to the operation of the locking pliers) and you can now insert any ¼-inch hex head into the opening at the base of the handle.

All the tools in the handle of the Crunch lock into place when opened up to be used, which is a nice feature, and to release them you just have to depress the grooved section of the locking device. It is a very simple operation. The ruler has measurements both in inches (3 ¾-inch total) and in millimeters (95mm total). The ability to make precise measurements is always a plus.

Durability. The Crunch is very solidly built and I experienced no failures during testing. I left the Crunch out on our deck for 48 hours in a typical Pacific Northwest rainstorm and close examination showed no corrosion, and all tools and the screw head operated smoothly. Maintenance of tools may not be possible during a protracted emergency situation, so it is nice to know the tool you selected can withstand severe weather conditions and keep working.


The Crunch™ will not replace wire cutters, files, multiple screwdrivers, pliers that you may have in your garage tool box. What it will do is give you all those capabilities in a durable, compact, and reliable tool. I would recommend storing the Crunch in one of the ICE PACK® six-gallon, yellow plastic containers where you will know where to find it during an emergency situation. It is also a tool that would make sense to keep one in each of your motor vehicles as all emergency situations do not happen at home. In addition to all of the grasping, cutting, screwing operations described above the Crunch can also act as an effective glass break tool and seat belt cutter inside your vehicle. Accessibility of course being the key!

SUITABILITY 5-shield rating
QUALITY 5-shield rating
EASE OF USE 5-shield rating
RELIABLE 5-shield rating
EFFECTIVE 5-shield rating
COST 5-shield rating
5-ShieldsExcellent w 4-ShieldsVery Good w 3-ShieldsGood w 2-ShieldsAverage w 1-ShieldPoor


Right click (Mac = Cmd. + click) to download the report in PDF format.

March 28, 2011   1 Comment