5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice

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I’m a skeptic of just about everything. My wife will tell you I was born disgruntled and contrary, so when I hear certain pieces of prepper advice, again and again, I can’t help but question it. In no particular order, here are 5 pieces of overrated prepper advice that drive me crazy.

  1. Stock up on lots and lots of wheat. Okay, we did that and then realized that our family eats very little bread and we feel a lot healthier on lower-carb diets. My wife buys one loaf of Ezekiel bread (tastes like sandpaper to me, but she likes it), keeps it in the freezer, and it lasts for 3-4 weeks. Here I am, sitting with 10 5-gallon buckets of wheat, almost ready to open a commercial bakery, because that was “the prepper thing to do” when we first started out. Yes, if there is ever a total economic collapse or EMP attack, we will eventually make it through that wheat, but in the meantime, it takes up a lot of space in my food storage pantry. Preppers who have since discovered they or someone in the family is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease could have spent that money on something else. Stocking up on a lot of wheat? Totally overrated advice.
  2. Focus on preparing for worst-case scenarios. Some time ago I received an email from a woman asking, “How do I prepare for when we don’t have electricity anymore?” Huh? I think someone has been reading too much prepper fiction. Yes, an EMP attack could take out the power grid for quite some time, but focusing on that as a prepper is short-sighted. I mean, people with this point of view aren’t interested when I recommend something like rechargeable batteries (this set can be charged using any USB charger) because they’re convinced we will shortly be living in the stone age, so why bother. “The end is near” — yeah, probably not. You’re a whole lot more likely to get stranded by the side of the road, flooded by a massive rainstorm or hurricane, or have to shelter in place for one reason or another. Get fully prepped for those, first, before you follow this particular piece of prepper advice.
  3. Stock up on “survival food”. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s scammers, and there are plenty to be found in the prepper/survival niche. They prey on people’s fears. My wife’s aunt is one example. Somehow, she got on the mailing list of a well-known “survival food” site and began receiving emails that terrified her. Naturally, she began forwarding them to us asking, “What should I do??” The text and videos in the emails were designed to scare her into spending thousands of dollars on so-called survival food — freeze-dried meals in pouches. Now, I’m not against this type of food and we have a bit in our pantry, but the truth is, freeze-dried meals are usually not the very best type of food to store. These meals have their place, but you are limited to those specific recipes — spaghetti with meat sauce, turkey tetrazzini, mashed potatoes. You’d better love those foods more than life itself because you’ll be eating the same things meal after meal after meal.
  4. Better get a bug out location or you’ll die. This one really kills me because in reality, a “bug out location” is a second home. If you’ve ever owned a lake house, a cabin, or another second home, you know it can be a real financial burden. You first have to buy the house/property, make payments, get insurance, furnish the house, pay certain utilities even when you aren’t there, worry about vandalism and other property crimes, and, as a prepper, equip the house and property with everything from stored food and water to medical supplies, fuel, self- and home defense, and so much more. It’s just not practical and for many people, not even desirable. Now, the pro bug-out-location people are going to say, “You’re not supposed to just visit your BOL, you’re supposed to live there.” Well, again, if it’s that easy, most preppers would do it. The truth is, most of these armchair survivalist warrior types work regular 9 to 5 jobs like you and me, and very few of those jobs are possible from some remote BOL. Better advice? Have a number of “safe houses” in mind, varying from 5 or 10 miles away to 100 miles or so. These could be homes of relatives/friends or familiar campsites. Just anywhere you could head to if you really do need to evacuate your home for a few days. After Hurricane Harvey hit, people living in flooded 2-story homes simply moved everything upstairs during the mucking-out and rebuilding so their kids could continue with school and they could continue with their jobs. Their BOL was right under their noses, so to speak.
  5. Read prepper fiction to get some really good prepper advice. Here’s yet another overrated piece of advice because what tends to happen is that people read these books and then take them as gospel truth. Try to convince a die-hard fan of One Second After that most vehicles will continue to run just fine after an EMP and that airplanes won’t fall out of the sky. William Forstchen wrote a compelling book that tugged on their emotions so everything he wrote must be true. There are millions of variables at work in the scenario portrayed in One Second After, and many experts agree that, perhaps, just 30% or so of vehicles would be fully disabled with the others experiencing no effects at all or just needing a quick turn of the key to restart. All prepper fiction comes from the imagination of authors who are only human. They do their research, some more than others, but their main purpose isn’t to provide training but entertainment. Entertainment equals sales, which is very smart on their part. Enjoy prepper fiction but before you stake your life on any particular piece of advice, weigh it against information from experts and your own common sense and experience.

Is there any prepper advice that has rubbed you the wrong way? You know everyone believes it, authors and bloggers pass it on like it’s truth with a capital T, but you aren’t so sure it’s 100% reliable and something everyone should follow without question. What’s on your list of overrated prepper advice?

The post 5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice

I’m a skeptic of just about everything. My wife will tell you I was born disgruntled and contrary, so when I hear certain pieces of prepper advice, again and again, I can’t help but question it. In no particular order, here are 5 pieces of overrated prepper advice that drive me crazy.

  1. Stock up on lots and lots of wheat. Okay, we did that and then realized that our family eats very little bread and we feel a lot healthier on lower-carb diets. My wife buys one loaf of Ezekiel bread (tastes like sandpaper to me, but she likes it), keeps it in the freezer, and it lasts for 3-4 weeks. Here I am, sitting with 10 5-gallon buckets of wheat, almost ready to open a commercial bakery, because that was “the prepper thing to do” when we first started out. Yes, if there is ever a total economic collapse or EMP attack, we will eventually make it through that wheat, but in the meantime, it takes up a lot of space in my food storage pantry. Preppers who have since discovered they or someone in the family is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease could have spent that money on something else. Stocking up on a lot of wheat? Totally overrated advice.
  2. Focus on preparing for worst-case scenarios. Some time ago I received an email from a woman asking, “How do I prepare for when we don’t have electricity anymore?” Huh? I think someone has been reading too much prepper fiction. Yes, an EMP attack could take out the power grid for quite some time, but focusing on that as a prepper is short-sighted. I mean, people with this point of view aren’t interested when I recommend something like rechargeable batteries (this set can be charged using any USB charger) because they’re convinced we will shortly be living in the stone age, so why bother. “The end is near” — yeah, probably not. You’re a whole lot more likely to get stranded by the side of the road, flooded by a massive rainstorm or hurricane, or have to shelter in place for one reason or another. Get fully prepped for those, first, before you follow this particular piece of prepper advice.
  3. Stock up on “survival food”. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s scammers, and there are plenty to be found in the prepper/survival niche. They prey on people’s fears. My wife’s aunt is one example. Somehow, she got on the mailing list of a well-known “survival food” site and began receiving emails that terrified her. Naturally, she began forwarding them to us asking, “What should I do??” The text and videos in the emails were designed to scare her into spending thousands of dollars on so-called survival food — freeze-dried meals in pouches. Now, I’m not against this type of food and we have a bit in our pantry, but the truth is, freeze-dried meals are usually not the very best type of food to store. These meals have their place, but you are limited to those specific recipes — spaghetti with meat sauce, turkey tetrazzini, mashed potatoes. You’d better love those foods more than life itself because you’ll be eating the same things meal after meal after meal.
  4. Better get a bug out location or you’ll die. This one really kills me because in reality, a “bug out location” is a second home. If you’ve ever owned a lake house, a cabin, or another second home, you know it can be a real financial burden. You first have to buy the house/property, make payments, get insurance, furnish the house, pay certain utilities even when you aren’t there, worry about vandalism and other property crimes, and, as a prepper, equip the house and property with everything from stored food and water to medical supplies, fuel, self- and home defense, and so much more. It’s just not practical and for many people, not even desirable. Now, the pro bug-out-location people are going to say, “You’re not supposed to just visit your BOL, you’re supposed to live there.” Well, again, if it’s that easy, most preppers would do it. The truth is, most of these armchair survivalist warrior types work regular 9 to 5 jobs like you and me, and very few of those jobs are possible from some remote BOL. Better advice? Have a number of “safe houses” in mind, varying from 5 or 10 miles away to 100 miles or so. These could be homes of relatives/friends or familiar campsites. Just anywhere you could head to if you really do need to evacuate your home for a few days. After Hurricane Harvey hit, people living in flooded 2-story homes simply moved everything upstairs during the mucking-out and rebuilding so their kids could continue with school and they could continue with their jobs. Their BOL was right under their noses, so to speak.
  5. Read prepper fiction to get some really good prepper advice. Here’s yet another overrated piece of advice because what tends to happen is that people read these books and then take them as gospel truth. Try to convince a die-hard fan of One Second After that most vehicles will continue to run just fine after an EMP and that airplanes won’t fall out of the sky. William Forstchen wrote a compelling book that tugged on their emotions so everything he wrote must be true. There are millions of variables at work in the scenario portrayed in One Second After, and many experts agree that, perhaps, just 30% or so of vehicles would be fully disabled with the others experiencing no effects at all or just needing a quick turn of the key to restart. All prepper fiction comes from the imagination of authors who are only human. They do their research, some more than others, but their main purpose isn’t to provide training but entertainment. Entertainment equals sales, which is very smart on their part. Enjoy prepper fiction but before you stake your life on any particular piece of advice, weigh it against information from experts and your own common sense and experience.

Is there any prepper advice that has rubbed you the wrong way? You know everyone believes it, authors and bloggers pass it on like it’s truth with a capital T, but you aren’t so sure it’s 100% reliable and something everyone should follow without question. What’s on your list of overrated prepper advice?

The post 5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

How to Use Google Earth to Make Your Home More Secure For Your Family

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how to use google earth home securityThe capabilities of Google Earth should terrify you. Input an address, any address, in this website and the location pops up in all its 3-D glory. Your vehicles may show up, your backyard with its playset, even, possibly, you in the pool or sunbathing. Without a doubt, Google’s intrusion on our privacy is just beginning. This article provides more in-depth information as to what Google Maps and Google Earth are capable of.

On a whim, I decided to turn the tables on Google Earth, just a bit, and use it for my own purposes. I pulled up our address on Google Earth, and took several screenshots — one of our entire town, a few of my general neighborhood, then a couple of my street, and 2 very close shots of my home, with the idea of using these screenshots to help with my prepping and planning.

Once I created these screenshots, I went to work to figure out how I could best secure and prep my home and our property. This turned out to be an eye-opening experience, and I highly recommend you do the same, as I explain in this article.

For the purpose of this article, I selected a general area in Glendale, Arizona, to illustrate this process as I put Google Earth to work to help with my home security and prepping plans.

SCREENSHOTS #1 and 2: Overview of town

First, grab some screenshots that provide a broad overview of your town, showing highways and other large features.

I can easily see at a glance all major highways and thoroughfares, as well as locations that tend to bring in a lot of traffic, such as churches, a college, sports arenas, a large city park, etc. Glendale, Arizona, is in a desert, so there are no lakes, rivers, dams, bridges, or other features that might have security implications.

This screenshot is valuable in the insights it provides for planning evacuations. In this next screenshot, you get an idea of how difficult, and futile, it would be to try and evacuate should a worst case scenario occur. Unless you live on the far outskirts of this massive city, you can kiss your rear end goodbye — you ain’t goin’ nowhere. If traffic on the very few highways doesn’t kill you, then the miles of surrounding desert will.

In the photo above, imagine that just 30% of the population realizes the need to evacuate. In the screenshot of your own town, take one street at a time, and mark every third house. After just 3 or 4 streets, you’ll soon realize the difficulties with any evacuation. The sheer number of people on the road, even less than 30%, will be staggering in a city the size of the greater Phoenix area.

In the second screenshot, how many routes out of town do you see? There’s I-10, heading east/west, I-17, heading north and south, the 101 loop, that kind of goes nowhere you’d want to go in a major crisis, and then the 51 that meanders through the northern part of Phoenix, again, offering no real escape route.

Take a couple of similar screenshots of your own town. What obvious routes in and out do you see? If you were a terrorist or some other really bad guy, how quickly could you block traffic both in and out of your town or neighborhood? If you aren’t surrounded by impassable deserts, what other natural features might offer challenges? Answers to these questions become more obvious when viewed from many thousands of feet above earth. Thank you, Google Earth!

SCREENSHOT #3 and 4: Zooming in to your neighborhood

This view is where Google Earth really pays off, because now I can identify more specific potential threats as well as sources of help. This neighborhood is similar to one my family lived in (same area), and I’m highlighting the house in the large red box for training purposes, as they say. Let’s review this map using the letter markings I’ve placed in a few key locations.

A: This marks the closest major highway, Loop 101. This is usually the fastest way to get out of town from this point but in a catastrophic event, the highway will shut down in less than 10 minutes. Sheer numbers of people, vehicle accidents, vehicle breakdowns — it’s just not a viable route out of town, unless I’m in front of the very first wave. A while back, I wrote this article about the importance of being in the first wave, and it would be good to review that information now.

B: In the case of this particular neighborhood, there’s a large park to the northeast. That park could become home to vagrants, but it could also become a neighborhood garden or meeting place. Unfortunately, there is no natural water source here as there would be in other parts of the country. In your own Google Earth screenshots, look for natural water features.

C: From the central point of this home, there are 2 possible directions for leaving the driveway. Pulling back a bit, you can see that leaving the neighborhood isn’t all that easy.

If this were my house, I could go to the right and quickly get on a street that would get me out of the neighboorhood. Perhaps not to safety, but at least out of the immediate area. If I turn left from this driveway, I have to take the long way around, and if the emergency is happening in real time, how many others will be pulling out of their driveaways with the same thought in mind.

Again, think about that 30% of people knowing, or being able, to evacuate. Just in this very small segment of a town, that is a LOT of people! Here is where having a few alternate forms of transportation comes in handy. Bicycles could be passed over a fence or wall, allowing for a quick exit. Motorcyles, street bikes, and even hoofing it out on foot — take all those options into consideration when looking for best evacuation routes.

By the way, this book about emergency evacuations has some of the most helpful and most specific information I’ve found on the subject.

D: I marked a cul-de-sac because these are very common features in neighborhoods. They are desirable for many reasons, but in an evacuation, you could become trapped. It’s also important to know where those cul-de-sacs are, so you don’t inadvertently make a turn into one, ending up in a dead end.

E:  This house has an apartment complex immediately behind it. I used to live in an apartment and bear no ill will toward anyone who does, but the fact that apartments are points of high density population increases the potential that criminal types of one form or another could be on the other side of this backyard fence. As well, in a food or water shortage, the obvious source of anything necessary to survival are the homes immediately surrounding the apartment complex.

One other notation I made on Screenshot #3 are red stars highlighting the homes and neighbors that I knew well and/or figured I could possibly count on in an emergency. Using another past neighborhood I lived in, the house to the left is home to a very preparedness-minded Mormon family my kids were friends with, and to the right, was a couple in their 50’s, very active in the shooting sports and also prepper-minded. Due to my keen observation skills, I happen to know that the house on the far left corner is home to a retired member of the U.S. Army — the dead giveaway being the ARMY t-shirt he wears when he mows the lawn. Across the street are 2 former policemen.

Now, there’s no way to know FOR SURE how anyone will react in a severe crisis, including myself, but by getting to know neighbors and just watching for signs of homes/individuals that have military or law-enforcement careers (past or present) as well as various tradespeople (such as the electric company lineman who lives on the next street), it’s all very helpful information to have.

Your next screenshot should be one that encompasses your own street as well as a handful of streets on all sides. Make a note of “friendlies” and, in some cases, “hostiles” — people you already know will cause problems in the aftermath of a major natural disaster or, God forbid, a longterm power outage. It’s better to be aware of this possibility than to let your guard down and become too trusting. With this screenshot, also look for entrances to your neighborhood. How many ways could someone in a vehicle or on foot, get access to your neighborhood or your street? What could you do to prevent entry to your property or, at least, slow them down?

SCREENSHOT #4: Zoom in on your own home from different points of view

In this screenshot, I’ve isolated the target home and noted windows, doors, and a couple of problem areas. To the left are massive trees and bushes that provide handy cover for intruders. In the hot Arizona sun, they also provide some shade to that side of the house, so if I lived here, I’d have to decide whether or not to trim the trees, cut them down, or enjoy the shade.

Another issue is the obvious lack of space between houses. A group of criminals could easily move from one house to the next, stealing, vandalizing, etc. Would it be possible to raise the height of these 2 block fences or take some other measure to discourage any invaders from entering the property, such as planting rose bushes or cacti?

This view is helpful when planning a home fire evacuation with the kids. Pull up this view on Google Earth and show them exactly where they should exit and where the family meeting point will be.

SCREENSHOT #5: Close shot of the house/property front

It’s easy to maneuver the Google Earth screen to focus on the front of a house or property, the back, even the sides, and I encourage you to do that in order to look for other security issues, in particular.

If this house was on a bigger piece of land, I could also look for best locations for outbuildings, a garden, fruit trees, etc.

FINAL OVERVIEW

One of the reasons I wanted to move my family from the Phoenix area is depicted in Screenshot #2 — the massive deserts surrounding the city, the high density population, obvious lack of natural water sources, and the very few roads leading out of the city.

However, none of us live in an ideal location. Our current town was devasted by floods following Hurricane Harvey in August, 2017. Although we have plenty of natural water sources now, they present their own challenges.

Your living situation is probably different — perhaps mountains with only a few roads passing through, miles of flat terrain, high-density population centers, swamps, you name it. Using Google Earth maps will show features and challenges you might not know exist.

I highly recommend using Google Earth to analyze your own prepping and security challenges. Are there any strategies I overlooked?

UPDATE: After posting this, I realized that I need to go through these same steps with my workplace location — identifying safe areas for evacuation, routes home, etc. I suggest you do the same for yourself and any loved ones who work away from home or go to school.

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15 Ways to Put Ratchet Straps to Good Use

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Ratchet straps… most of us have them around in the garage or car trunk. I’ve kept one in the back of my truck for a couple of decades now! Over the years, it has come in handy more than I ever thought it would.

Ratchet straps come in a variety of strengths, widths, lengths, and hooks. The weaving of ratchet straps is similar to that of a seat belt, designed to keep things secure and in place.

Types of ratchet straps

There are three types of tie down straps

Lashing StrapsThese have a gator clip and are fairly easy to use for light weight objects. They usually have a 100 lb. working load and 200 lb. break strength. They are great for grouping small cargo, hanging light weight items, staking and securing trees, or use as a rope to tie things together. Very handy when bundling up firewood to transport.

Cam Buckle StrapsCam buckle straps are more of a medium weight. They typically have a 500lb working load and 1,500 lb break strength. They are good for medium-sized loads like ATVs, dirt bikes and toys of similar size. These straps are easy to use and you can quickly tighten and release them.

Ratchet StrapsRatchet Straps use a ratcheting technique to secure substantial items. This strap is easy to use and can quickly be tightened. Ratchet straps generally have a 5,000 lb working load and 15,000 lb break strength. They are used to produce a snugger and more secure hold on items. These are the straps you want to use for heavy and dense loads, ideal for solid, heavy loads.

Types of Hook Ends you’ll want to use

S-Hook -The most standard type of hook end, S-hooks fit just about any hole to remain secure when a simple strap would not.

Snap Hook – Snap hooks are similar to an S-hook, but feature a latch that snaps closed around the tie-down point to provide a more secure grip than an S-hook.

J-Hook – J-hooks, also known as wire hooks, are typically used on one end of a ratchet strap to tightly grip onto an anchor point.

Flat Hook – Flat hooks feature a low-profile, versatile design to go over the rub rail of a trailer, and can use other tie-down straps as anchor points.

15 Uses for ratchet straps

  • Strap down cargo/luggage in top of a car or van. We have used them to secure luggage bags on our van.
  • Secure items and prevent them from sliding around in the back of a truck.
  • Use them in place of clamps when wood working.
  • Wrap them around something that my need a handle or two to lift. In our garage, we have big plastic bins that hold emergency supplies, with 2 straps around them. Keeps them closed and secure and easy to quickly move/carry.
  • They are studier and safer than bungees and ropes for transporting items. Bungees are good for absorbing shock, not as good as securing items.
  • Use to store things up high, like containers, bikes or a canoe in a garage. Look for ways on walls or ceiling to make more storage.
  • Use them to hoist up large or heavy items. (Check the weight load first)
  • Attempt slacklining. It is like walking on a tightrope, but a strap instead. You can determine how high and far you want to walk. They are portable, so when the desire and location show up, you are ready.
  • The are great to use if you are out of rope.
  • We once used a very heavy-duty strap to pull a car out of the mud.
  • Ratchet straps can make a great netting over the back of a pickup truck or over items on a vehicle luggage rack.
  • Quick repairs. I have seen a bumper to two being held up by straps until the vehicle can get into the shop.
  • Use them to secure bikes on a car bike rack. Or items on a hitch carrier.
  • Straps are perfect to use when moving. They can secure items in a moving truck with a S or J hook.
  • Straps can be used to move heavy furniture. Place the strap under the furniture and lift. We have used this method for our big China cabinet and piano.

Straps are a must have for your preparedness gear. Store some in your cars and garage. Remember to use the correct type of strap for the weight load and job you are doing. What could you use ratchet straps for?

 

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Is Firewood a Part of Your Emergency Preparedness?

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We all know that water is the Number One consideration when it comes to survival. Three days without the wet stuff, and you’re pushing up daisies. Besides water, have you ever thought of the availability of wood as a survival must-have? Have you stocked up on firewood for survival?
firewood for survival
Back when we lived in the Phoenix area, I realized one day how desperate that city of 1.6 million would be without any fuel sources during a longterm grid failure. There are virtually no trees in that city that provide the right kind of firewood, and those that do, would take months to dry out and season. No easy source of fuel to heat a home, to cook with, to use for purifying water — what a nightmare that would be, and all because of the lack of good firewood.

To survive, we need to stay warm when it’s cold, and even in hot weather, we still need a way to cook food on cloudy days when the solar cooker just won’t work. In areas where trees are sparse, people might have to start breaking apart furniture and pulling up floorboards within days of a major power outage.

Start with fuel-efficiency

Our family a very fuel-efficient rocket stove to cook when we’re camping. The Silverfire Survivor Stove is, in my opinion, the best on the market. It only takes a few twigs to cook an entire meal. A highly efficient rocket stove is one prep I highly recommend. We’ve used the Silverfire, StoveTec, and the EcoZoom. Of the 3, I still prefer the Silverfire (a little more expensive), but the other 2 are certainly adequate. Read this review of the Silverfire to learn more.

Using an open fire for cooking and heating is another option, whether in a fireplace or a contained, outdoor fire, but, again, think efficiency. What types of wood will produce the most heat with the least amount of waste? If you can get your hands on it, these woods have the highest heat value:

  • Apple
  • American beech
  • Ironwood
  • Red Oak
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Sugar maple
  • White ash
  • White oak
  • Yellow birch

With these varieties, you use less wood, but get a higher level of heat output. Again, these varieties don’t grow everywhere, so you will need to do some research into the type of firewood in your area — which varieties are available and, of those, which will burn best with the highest level of efficiency.

The USDA Forest Products Laboratory produced this handy chart with more information about the fuel efficiency levels of different woods. You want the highest amount of heat per cord and one that doesn’t give off a lot of smoke.

How much to keep on hand? Plenty!

Again, back in Phoenix, I liked to have a supply of firewood, in spite of the fact that we didn’t even have a fireplace, and the grill out back was connected to our gas line! I just wanted to know there was another source of fuel should the power go out and all other fuel sources become scarce.

If you live in a similar area and circumstances, it might sound crazy to insist on having some firewood, but maybe it’s smarter than you think! Most people will never think about having a stash of firewood for survival.

Someday a cord of wood just might make the difference between your family’s survival and a daily struggle to stay warm and eat hot meals. How much wood provides the right amount of safety margin? There’s no one right answer, but I’d suggest starting with a half cord.

Chopped wood is measured, and purchased, by the cord, which is an official unit of measurement.  The length, height, and width of the chopped wood is measured.  A “cord” is 128 cubic feet.  One cord is a heck of a lot of wood. Years ago, I lived in the far northern plateaus of Arizona, and wood burning stove provided all my heat. Less than half a cord of wood was plenty to see me through the winter.  Of course, I was living alone in an 750 square foot house!

Look on Craigslist for firewood sources. Once you know the types of wood that are available and are the best woods for burning, then it’s just a matter of shopping around. Don’t order wood sight unseen, since it takes many months for it to season properly. Check out pieces of the firewood you are planning to buy. The pieces should have cracks on the end and the seasoned pieces should weigh less than fresh, green wood. When you hit 2 pieces of the firewood together, you should get a hollow sound. If the sound is more dull and solid, the wood isn’t seasoned enough.

The “right” firewood for survival

In order to burn well, wood must be dry and seasoned. Even if you have live trees on your property or in a nearby city park, I can guarantee that wood from those trees will be very difficult to burn, give off a lot of smoke, and not be an efficient fuel until it is seasoned. It takes several months for this to happen. This is why rural families spend so much of their spring and summer days chopping and stacking firewood for the winter.

Even if you don’t ordinarily have a need for firewood, start thinking about the fuel you will use if the lights ever go out long term. You may want to start buying small quantities of firewood, and even invest in a splitting wedge or specialized wood splitting axe or maul. A supply of firewood might be a smart, life-saving idea. Just be very aware of fire prevention, as explained in this article written by a former fire marshal.

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Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps?

UPDATE: The tactical laser linked to in this article is completely sold out and due to changing regulations, it will not be returning for sale. I’m leaving this article up for informational purposes, since you may very well find a similar product elsewhere, if interested.

Most guys I know tend to focus on 2 categories of self-defense weapons: firearms and knives. On this blog, plenty has been written about both categories, and it’s interesting how some guys identify themselves, “I’m a knife guy,” or “I’m a gun guy.”

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps via Preparedness Advice

Well, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m a laser kind of guy,” but with this Tact Laser, it’s something that’s worth checking out.

Not many people consider a laser when it comes to defense, but they are used by the military very effectively. In most cases a military-grade tactical laser isn’t something you can easily find on the marketplace. In fact the Tact Laser is in very limited supply because of changing regulations. By the time your read this, it may already be sold out.

Just as a firearm, knife, walking stick, slingshot, and heck, a flame-thrower, for that matter, are all most effective in trained hands, so is the Tact Laser. The good news for those of us with limited time to master yet another self-defense skill, is that this laser is about the size of a smaller flashlight, just a little over 6 inches long, and is as easy to use as flipping the switch and pointing. In a woman’s purse or backpack, it would pack an effective and powerful punch against an attacker.

Because the Tact Laser uses a particularly powerful beam, bright enough to light up a dark room and certainly bright enough to overpower an attacker, it’s easily effective without a lot of training and without the expense of additional ammo. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, so you don’t even have that cost to cover.

It’s not a toy, though, and therein lies my one caveat. Kids are used to seeing lasers and bright lights sweep over the skies of Disneyland — nope. This isn’t that type of laser. This is the type of laser that can cause blindness, which is why it comes with a key-lock. And, since it looks like an ordinary flashlight, a lot of inquisitive kids would probably leave it alone.

Currently, Survival Frog is including safety goggles with the purchase of each Tact Laser, just as a precaution.

As I’m writing this, the biggest gift-giving season of the year is drawing closer and closer. I’m not a genius when it comes to buying the perfect present for anyone, ask my wife!, but the Tact Laser is unique and intriguing. It would be really hard to go wrong with this choice.

 

 

The post Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps? appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps?

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UPDATE: The tactical laser linked to in this article is completely sold out and due to changing regulations, it will not be returning for sale. I’m leaving this article up for informational purposes, since you may very well find a similar product elsewhere, if interested.

Most guys I know tend to focus on 2 categories of self-defense weapons: firearms and knives. On this blog, plenty has been written about both categories, and it’s interesting how some guys identify themselves, “I’m a knife guy,” or “I’m a gun guy.”

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps via Preparedness Advice

Well, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m a laser kind of guy,” but with this Tact Laser, it’s something that’s worth checking out.

Not many people consider a laser when it comes to defense, but they are used by the military very effectively. In most cases a military-grade tactical laser isn’t something you can easily find on the marketplace. In fact the Tact Laser is in very limited supply because of changing regulations. By the time your read this, it may already be sold out.

Just as a firearm, knife, walking stick, slingshot, and heck, a flame-thrower, for that matter, are all most effective in trained hands, so is the Tact Laser. The good news for those of us with limited time to master yet another self-defense skill, is that this laser is about the size of a smaller flashlight, just a little over 6 inches long, and is as easy to use as flipping the switch and pointing. In a woman’s purse or backpack, it would pack an effective and powerful punch against an attacker.

Because the Tact Laser uses a particularly powerful beam, bright enough to light up a dark room and certainly bright enough to overpower an attacker, it’s easily effective without a lot of training and without the expense of additional ammo. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, so you don’t even have that cost to cover.

It’s not a toy, though, and therein lies my one caveat. Kids are used to seeing lasers and bright lights sweep over the skies of Disneyland — nope. This isn’t that type of laser. This is the type of laser that can cause blindness, which is why it comes with a key-lock. And, since it looks like an ordinary flashlight, a lot of inquisitive kids would probably leave it alone.

Currently, Survival Frog is including safety goggles with the purchase of each Tact Laser, just as a precaution.

As I’m writing this, the biggest gift-giving season of the year is drawing closer and closer. I’m not a genius when it comes to buying the perfect present for anyone, ask my wife!, but the Tact Laser is unique and intriguing. It would be really hard to go wrong with this choice.

 

 

The post Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps? appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps?

Click here to view the original post.

Most guys I know tend to focus on 2 categories of self-defense weapons: firearms and knives. On this blog, plenty has been written about both categories, and it’s interesting how some guys identify themselves, “I’m a knife guy,” or “I’m a gun guy.”

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps via Preparedness Advice

Well, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m a laser kind of guy,” but with this Tact Laser from Survival Frog*, it’s something that’s worth checking out.

Not many people consider a laser when it comes to defense, but they are used by the military very effectively. In most cases a military-grade tactical laser isn’t something you can easily find on the marketplace. In fact the Tact Laser is in very limited supply because of changing regulations. By the time your read this, it may already be sold out.

Just as a firearm, knife, walking stick, slingshot, and heck, a flame-thrower, for that matter, are all most effective in trained hands, so is the Tact Laser. The good news for those of us with limited time to master yet another self-defense skill, is that this laser is about the size of a smaller flashlight, just a little over 6 inches long, and is as easy to use as flipping the switch and pointing. In a woman’s purse or backpack, it would pack an effective and powerful punch against an attacker.

Because the Tact Laser uses a particularly powerful beam, bright enough to light up a dark room and certainly bright enough to overpower an attacker, it’s easily effective without a lot of training and without the expense of additional ammo. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, so you don’t even have that cost to cover.

It’s not a toy, though, and therein lies my one caveat. Kids are used to seeing lasers and bright lights sweep over the skies of Disneyland — nope. This isn’t that type of laser. This is the type of laser that can cause blindness, which is why it comes with a key-lock. And, since it looks like an ordinary flashlight, a lot of inquisitive kids would probably leave it alone.

Currently, Survival Frog is including safety goggles with the purchase of each Tact Laser, just as a precaution.

As I’m writing this, the biggest gift-giving season of the year is drawing closer and closer. I’m not a genius when it comes to buying the perfect present for anyone, ask my wife!, but the Tact Laser is unique and intriguing. It would be really hard to go wrong with this choice.

This page practically screams out the details of the Tact Laser, it’s a little over the top (although a fun read), but the bottom line is that this is a quietly effective self-defense tool that has multiple uses and is a pretty cool piece of gear to own.

*Survival Frog affiliate

 

The post Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps? appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps?

Most guys I know tend to focus on 2 categories of self-defense weapons: firearms and knives. On this blog, plenty has been written about both categories, and it’s interesting how some guys identify themselves, “I’m a knife guy,” or “I’m a gun guy.”

Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps via Preparedness Advice

Well, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m a laser kind of guy,” but with this Tact Laser from Survival Frog*, it’s something that’s worth checking out.

Not many people consider a laser when it comes to defense, but they are used by the military very effectively. In most cases a military-grade tactical laser isn’t something you can easily find on the marketplace. In fact the Tact Laser is in very limited supply because of changing regulations. By the time your read this, it may already be sold out.

Just as a firearm, knife, walking stick, slingshot, and heck, a flame-thrower, for that matter, are all most effective in trained hands, so is the Tact Laser. The good news for those of us with limited time to master yet another self-defense skill, is that this laser is about the size of a smaller flashlight, just a little over 6 inches long, and is as easy to use as flipping the switch and pointing. In a woman’s purse or backpack, it would pack an effective and powerful punch against an attacker.

Because the Tact Laser uses a particularly powerful beam, bright enough to light up a dark room and certainly bright enough to overpower an attacker, it’s easily effective without a lot of training and without the expense of additional ammo. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, so you don’t even have that cost to cover.

It’s not a toy, though, and therein lies my one caveat. Kids are used to seeing lasers and bright lights sweep over the skies of Disneyland — nope. This isn’t that type of laser. This is the type of laser that can cause blindness, which is why it comes with a key-lock. And, since it looks like an ordinary flashlight, a lot of inquisitive kids would probably leave it alone.

Currently, Survival Frog is including safety goggles with the purchase of each Tact Laser, just as a precaution.

As I’m writing this, the biggest gift-giving season of the year is drawing closer and closer. I’m not a genius when it comes to buying the perfect present for anyone, ask my wife!, but the Tact Laser is unique and intriguing. It would be really hard to go wrong with this choice.

This page practically screams out the details of the Tact Laser, it’s a little over the top (although a fun read), but the bottom line is that this is a quietly effective self-defense tool that has multiple uses and is a pretty cool piece of gear to own.

*Survival Frog affiliate

 

The post Have You Included a Tactical Laser in Your Preps? appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Cloth Toilet Wipes: The Prepper World’s Worst Idea Ever

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On April 17, 2017, I went to Costco and filled my huge shopping cart with a total of 180 rolls of toilet paper. Double rolls. I felt like a king walking out of there with the cart piled high.

Cloth Toilet Paper The Prepper World's Worst Idea Ever via Preparedness Advice

Now, in early November, we have about 16 rolls left in a household of 2 adults and 2 older teenager. Two guys, two gals.

Not a bad investment, and I’ve always been the kind of guy who likes to stock up anyway so I can avoid shopping. In prepper circles, though, a TP stash is looked down upon and most survival types worth their salt will say something like this, “Forget stocking up on toilet paper. Use old t-shirts to make personal wipes, and just run them through the washing machine.”

On the surface, it sounds ideal. None of us want to go back to the days of using corn cobs, leaves, or phone books. I understand that. But think for a moment about what is involved with using cloth as toilet paper. Saving and cutting up old t-shirts is the easy part.

Cloth toilet wipes — a REALLY bad idea

First, used cloth wipes will have to be kept somewhere in a location that will not attract flies, pets, rodents, and other pests of all kinds. You may think that little bucket with a lid will do the job, but you haven’t met Lacey, our foster Great Pyrenees. We’ve had to place a filled water jug, the gallon size, on our kitchen trash to Lacey-proof it. She and her other four-legged friends would love nothing better than to wallow around in poop and pee smelling t-shirts.

Oh, the glory of it all!!!

Slightly off topic — a few weeks back, my wife and I pulled up to a CVS and right there on the sidewalk by the Redbox machine was a young couple washing down their 2 large dogs. The dogs were covered with suds and it was quite a sight. I asked why they were washing their dogs in front of a CVS store and was told, “We were out jogging on the trails and the dogs found some armadillo carcasses. They started rolling around on them and now they stink too much to take home.”

Animals love foul-smelling things, so if you go the cloth toilet paper route, keep that in mind.

A lot of preppers who took the cloth diaper/diaper pail route, swear that it’s the same thing with cloth wipes. To a point, they’re correct, but in a typical home, there is only one baby producing dirty diapers. In a household with many people, God only knows how many cloth wipes you’ll have on your hands in just a week.

Not all “greywater” is the same

I hope you aren’t planning on reusing the water from your loads of cloth wipes.

Reusing greywater makes a lot of sense as a practical way to both lower water bills and to manage scarce resources. Most people think all greywater is the same and can be used for gardening, laundry, and irrigation. However, water that has come into contact with feces, even water from washing machines if the laundry load included underwear, is not safe to reuse as greywater.

So, once the used cloth toilet wipes are ready to launder, you will have to use clean water for washing and then that water becomes unsafe to use in any other way. Also, I’d like to point out that a load of cloth wipes is going to be significantly dirtier than a typical load of laundry with a few random pairs of tightie-whities.

Once your cloth wipes have been washed, that greywater cannot be used for anything. If you aren’t able to drain the water into your septic tank or the city water system, then you’re left with having to find a draining location that is going to be as far away as possible from any groundwater source or well, and, you won’t be able to recycle that water by using it for gardening or for irrigating crops.

What about the washing process without power?

With the grid alive and well and your washing machine putting out plenty of hot water, I suppose right now is the best time to experiment with cloth wipes. However, from a prepper point of view, the plan is to use these wipes when the toilet paper runs out, right?

In that case, consider this. You’ll have to keep those dirty wipes in a tightly closed container between washdays. I hope you’ve stocked up on plenty of air freshener.

Next, you’ll need the biggest metal container you can find to fill with water, bring it to boiling, and then mix in the wipes using a huge utensil of some sort. I don’t know exactly how long it takes for that boiling water to thoroughly sanitize the wipes, and my guess is there are very few preppers who do. The longer you boil the water, the more fuel you’re using, but if you cut the boiling time short, will it leave dangerous bacteria behind? How is that a good idea in a survival scenario?

In the winter, how are you going to boil that water in the house? How quickly will those cloth wipes take to dry, and don’t kid yourself if you think that in a chaotic SHTF scenario, everyone is going to be only using their color-coded wipes. It’s going to be every man and wipe for himself.

Is there a better option?

The plain truth is that cloth toilet wipes could be a catastrophically bad idea to the tune of cholera, typhoid, and diseases that are pretty much unknown in modern America. Perhaps you have an effective plan for dealing with feces-tainted water, but does your neighbor? Imagine how many times in a day toilets in your neighborhood are flushed. Now imagine all those households without the ability to flush, toilet paper is running low, and it will be a matter of a week or two before your neighborhood becomes a stew of awful smells and dangerous bacteria.

So is there a better option? The first best option is to do what I’ve been doing — stock up on a year’s worth of TP. I’m thinking that if those 170 rolls are going to last about 9 months, about another 50 would have given me a generous year’s worth. So for about $225, I could avoid going to the store for TP for an entire year, and be sitting pretty with my favorite brand of TP should the S hit the fan.

For prepping purposes, plan on making that Costo shopping trip every 5-6 months to stay on top of keeping that awesome stash intact.

TEOTWAWKI, the absolute worst case scenario you can think of, will probably last longer than a year (I’m talking about a Venezuela collapse). But even then, with a year’s worth, that gives me time to, first, establish rules about how much TP can be used per person. Next, I have a margin of 12 months to develop other plans, including a DIY composting toilet, which is the best way to go. A community compost toilet is one idea that beats the heck out of mounds of dirty cloth wipes.

It would be difficult enough to maintain even the lowest standard of sanitation by today’s standard without exacerbating the situation with cloth wipes. There are better ideas and plans out there, so let’s put the cloth wipes idea where it belongs — deep in the nether regions of “Really Bad Ideas”.

 

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2 Prepping Principles to Remember

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prepping principlesTumultuous times don’t exactly portend a prosperous future. When I was in college and then into the early years of my career, it seemed that my income would continue to increase. The value of our house would always go up, year after year, and by the time I hit 65, I’d have more than enough money to retire and live the good life.

I’ve wised up, though, and the world has become more and more chaotic. Right now my retirement funds are looking good, but that wasn’t the case just 7 or 8 years ago. It’s been a wild ride, financially, and I don’t feel particularly secure about the future.

With this in mind, I made the decision some time back to always buy the best quality products I possibly can. In a way, it seems counter-intuitive. Since the Great Recession of 2009-2012, our income has had quite a few ups and downs, so shouldn’t we be switching to the cheapest off-brands on the market?  Not at all. Going, “cheap” is often more expensive than buying quality in the first place, which is a smart prepping principle.

When our son was in his rough and tumble years, pretty much from age 3 up until just recently!, my wife switched to Levis jeans for him after his knees had poked their way through the eleventh pair in a row of off-brand jeans. I remember her buying the Levis on eBay in order to save money, and sure enough, that more expensive brand turned out to be tougher than he was, and that’s saying a lot!

When my daughter needed a pair of hiking boots, she found a pair she liked that was made of faux leather. We knew the cheap materials wouldn’t keep her feet warm and dry, nor would they stand up to much wear and tear, so, just before a family camping trip, we purchased a pair at REI for just shy of $100, and those boots have stood the test of time. A pair of $39 boots that are scuffed and ruined in a month are more expensive per wear than a $100 pair that ends up being worn for years and then sold at a garage sale for $10! That’s the real bargain and a much better way of being prepared.

A partner principle to buying quality is taking care of what you own. “Oh, well. I’ll just get another one!” was a common statement back in the day when something I owned was lost or broken. That was back in the days when my parents bought most of everything I needed — a childish point of view, to be sure.

That’s not how I think anymore. I can’t think like that anymore! There is no guarantee that I’ll have the extra dollars to buy a pair of replacement sunglasses, for example. Instead, the habit of always, always putting my sunglasses in the same place every time, insures they’ll be there when I need them and will be far less likely to disappear. When the lenses are scratched, I take them to an optical company to be buffed. I buy a good quality pair of sunglasses, and they typically last for years, so I get the benefit of better quality along with the longer lifespan since I take care of them.

Over the years, we’ve been teaching our kids to take care of what they own. After a game of Uno, we make sure that every Uno card makes its’ way back into the box and that school books are kept in a bookshelf. There are plenty of bookshelves in the house, and that’s where our books belong.

This mindset harkens back to the days of my grandparents and the Great Depression when the rhyme, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” wasn’t just a quaint quote but a way of life.

As preppers, it’s important to have quality gear, clothing, tools, etc. so when we really, really need them, they are there to do the job. I’ve had nightmares of being in a dire, life and death scenario only to find out that all the “Made in China” gear in a storebought “survival kit” turned out to be nothing but cheap crap. You can bet, my own kit has high quality everything — I just can’t take the risk.

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These Crimes Against Harvey Victims Will Make You Angry — and teach you how to avoid becoming a victim

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crimes against harvey victimsHurricane Harvey put a huge dent in my hometown, with close to 200 businesses and 20% of the homes here flooded, some up past their rooflines. It’s been a tough couple of months. Our home was spared but if the flood waters had continued to rise for just a few more hours, we wouldn’t have been so lucky.

Piles and piles of “house guts” as I called them quickly lined the streets, and in some cases are still there, waiting to be picked up. Needless to say, the mounds of wet carpet, sheetrock, furniture, clothing, and every type of belonging you could imagine drew flies, rodents, bred mosquitoes, and, unfortunately, attracted a certain group of human predators who focused on bedraggled families as their next victims.

You can see from this photo how many, many people have lived in the weeks, and now months, post-Harvey.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The community here was and continues to be outstanding in their level of support. Our church was one of the leaders in organizing work crews who went into homes and helped shellshocked owners do what had to be done — dismantle the remnants of their secure lives, leaving them with nothing but concrete floors and wall studs. It was backbreaking work, but “Texas Strong” was a reality, every single day.

The worst in human nature came in the form of those who had no shame in taking advantage of my community in every possible way. Looters, of course, arrived to go through homes that had been temporarily abandoned, taking off with what very little the homeowner had salvaged. I now completely understand the sentiment, “Looters will be shot.”

Homeowners, in their rush to gut their homes and start the drying process, piled things in the front yard to sort through later, but soon discovered that ANYTHING left outside was considered fair game. At different hours of the day and into the night, cars prowled these neighborhoods, with human vultures looking for anything with potential value.

Along with piles of house guts, people had no choice but to put out piles of soggy paperwork, mail, and files of family and financial records. Incredibly, the dregs of society soon found those and began putting them to use, creating fake identities, complete with drivers licenses, checks, and credit cards. In some cases it was the work crews who found the documents and sold them to other criminals. Here’s an example of one identity thief who was caught. I’ve heard of many instances of mail being stolen out of mailboxes once mail delivery resumed. With so many homeowners unable to stay in their homes and check their mail in a timely manner, it was there for the taking.

Speaking of work crews, as you can probably imagine, our town soon attracted construction workers and contractors of all kinds who took advantage of flood victims in every possible way, from demanding large deposits and then never doing the job to doing shoddy work that had to be re-done by actual professionals. Anti-mold companies sold products and services that weren’t necessary, and one experienced construction professional sent this plea on a Facebook page,

As you look for your homes and properties to be repaired, PLEASE don’t tell contractors, bidders, and handyman you’ve just received your insurance check unless you absolutely need to. And please don’t tell them how much it was. I’ve seen several areas become devastated and people will be looking to get the most money from you. Telling them you received your check and how much it was, tells them just how much to bid the job for! Whether or not the work is worth that amount. People unfortunately, are not as honest these days. Do not be afraid to ask to see a portfolio of pictures of their work, request references, and by all means… ask questions! Keep all quotes to yourself, unless using it to negotiate a lower price. This will ensure your quotes and estimates are truthful and honest. Don’t be afraid to get multiple quotes either. This will make the money hungry bids stand out. And last but not least… cheapest isn’t always the best. Some people will cut corners to cut costs.

On Facebook pages and in community forums, I’ve seen multiple examples of scammers, hired by desperate people but, in the end, leaving them even more desperate, betrayed, and a lot poorer.

My wife very actively kept track of people in need and worked to connect them with donations, but in a few cases, she saw that some individuals whose homes had NOT been flooded, were joining in with requests for everything from furniture to appliances, clothing, you name it. One woman posted a variety of sob stories on different Facebook pages, until the community began to catch on. Many of us began requesting more information from those posting needs, like asking for an address so we could make sure there was an actual need, their home had actually flooded, and they weren’t just someone looking for a handout, leaving less for the true flood victims.

And then there were those who used the telephone and a computer to try and defraud:

I just received a call from someone saying they were with FEMA and that I was being offered $9k. They wanted my banking info. They could not tell my name or address. They hung up when I asked if they knew my name. It was from a 202 (DC) number. Don’t give banking info over the phone. FEMA should already have it if you applied for relief.

Here’s another example of the lengths criminals go to in order to defraud victims:

There are individuals out there that are using addresses of homes that have been vacant due to flooding for purposes of obtaining governmental services (i.e. Unemployment Benefits and/or Government Assistance). How can you tell? When you receive mail addressed to strangers with your address and a lot # after the street address. Watch out for this as it has happened to me from about 4 strangers. I contacted the TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) and reported them. I then returned the mail to the Post Office marked RETURN TO SENDER – DOES NOT LIVE HERE. This could stem from strangers driving the neighborhood to Contractors working in the neighborhood.

We asked our community about other crimes they had experienced during this horrific flood, and here’s just a sampling:

  • (People are) selling flooded cars or other items with out disclosing the damage.
  • My friend got her purse stolen at Lowe’s. The police told her a lot of people have come into town to steal. Because everyone is so distracted, we become easy targets.
  • Someone in the streets where I’m volunteering asked me for donations. I talked with other volunteers, asking about help to find donations for him and they said he was selling the donations.
  • There are people selling items they collect from donation points. I see it all over Facebook. Huge stockpiles of diapers, cleaning supplies, clothes, purses, etc.
  • I have had friends have AC companies quote for new AC unit ($10k a pop) and then sent my repair man out to say the units are fine and may need a new coil at $1400 max. Also had a general inspector confirm units were fine.
  • (My husband’s) warehouse was broken into during the hurricane. They took almost everything valuable from his office including his signed print of The Alamo.
  • People trying to return our donated items to the store for cash- we were told to cross through the bar code with a thick black marker so this couldn’t happen.
  • Price gouging! I got quotes for drywall replacement from $20K to $41K!
  • A picture of my collapsed townhome was posted on FB as if it was someone else’s home. They used it so they could garner sympathy and collect donations for a boy who wasn’t living in any of the Townhomes and his home wasn’t flooded. The post was eventually taken down but not until they bragged about getting all kinds of money….for example $5k from someone and $250 from State Farm.
  • The Red Cross hasn’t even been here yet and all I hear is them asking for donations.

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the level of crimes and scams that happened across the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey. I have to admit, I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime and, in fact, lived for more than 20 years in a part of the world where typhoons were a regular occurrence, but seeing up close the impact a record-breaking flood has on families and businesses and then hearing about the lowlifes who saw opportunities to commit crime — well, it’s been discouraging. Life for these families will forever be divided into, “before the flood” and “after the flood,” and they didn’t deserve to be victimized twice, first by Mother Nature and second by their fellow human beings.

Not everything post-Harvey has been terrible. In fact, on our partner blog, The Survival Mom, you can read inspiring examples of how the communities, including my own, pulled together in extraordinary ways. “27 Creative Ways to Help Disaster Victims” and “50+ Ways to Help the Victims of Harvey (and other disasters yet to come)” are encouraging because just about everyone in our community found a way to help out.

There’s no doubt that the crimes listed here are happening again and again across the country, wherever vulnerable people can be found. With these examples from my own experience, I hope you’ll be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from the human scum who see you as their prey.

 

 

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Common Mistakes Nearly Every Prepper Will Make (If They Admit It!)

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prepper mistakes

After years of prepping, I’ve been reflecting on what I would do differently if I were starting to prep right now. I’ll bet some of my mistakes are pretty common among all preppers and survival-minded people. These are some of the mistakes I made. Do any of these sound familiar?

1)  I read too much Survival Blog when I should have watched more how-to videos on YouTube.

Survival Blog gave me a big kick in the pants for getting started in preparedness, but it also sucked my wife and I into near-panic attacks and bouts of despair. One day I came home from work to find her at my desk, still in pajamas, hypnotically reading article after article on Survival Blog. Doom and gloom articles had her frozen with fear, and although that blog and others like it motivated us, they also didn’t encourage us to learn more skills. It was all about stocking up and being afraid.

YouTube is filled with massive amounts of great information but in smaller doses and often accompanied by a friendly face and voice. I would have learned more about waxing cheese, bushcraft skills, primitive water filters, and stocking up on veterinary antibiotics, all of which would have been more practical than reading tips for buying property safe from rifle fire.

James Rawles is one of my prepper heroes, but for a beginner, YouTube videos would have been more helpful and encouraging. Just one of many prepper mistakes I made early on.

2) I should have bought less crap and more high-quality products.

Preparedness is best done in this order: awareness, education, and then action. In our initial panic, we steered clear of education and jumped right into the action phase. That’s my style, I guess. Early on I bought a lot of cheap “survival” products that were recently sent to a thrift store as a donation. My wife was quite the couponer and because she had a stack of “awesome” coupons, she bought bottles and bottles of salad dressing we never used. After a year or two, they turned all sorts of weird colors and she threw them out. I didn’t argue with her.

I’ve since figured out that buying the best quality we can afford is smart, even if we have to wait until we have the money. A high-quality pair of walking shoes could make the difference between life and death someday. We want tools, supplies, and even food that is meant to last for the long haul, not bargain basement specials that are cheaply produced and quickly fall apart.

3) I wish I had spent less money early on

I imagine that most preppers start off in a panic mode and begin amassing enormous quantities of stuff, just for the sake of having stuff. However, I have learned that doing a fair amount of research first is the smartest way to go.

We didn’t know much about food storage conditions, for example, when we first began buying extra food and soon found ourselves with packets and boxes of potato flakes infested with tiny black bugs.

4) We should have networked with others sooner

It’s always hard feeling as though you’re the, “only one”. The, “only one,” with a certain health condition or the, “only one,” going through a personal crisis. Feeling as though you’re the only prepper in town is just as hard. You feel isolated, a little paranoid, and yet there’s a deep need to talk with others who are on the same wavelength, but everyone you know isn’t a prepper for any number of reasons.

I felt very alone, year after year. A couple of fledgling prepper MeetUp groups began around that same time, but I didn’t take advantage of their meetings, and I should have. Joining in on forum discussions is a good option but it can’t take the place of face to face conversations. It would have helped me identify more quickly what my priorities should have been, and it would have been comforting to know that I wasn’t the, “only one.” Preppers University live classes offer one of the best ways to network with others who have the same survival perspective and get an education at the same time.

5) I should have kept my mouth shut around family and close friends

To this day, no one in my family or my husband’s family is on board with preparedness. In short, I could have saved myself a lot of awkward explanations and times of feeling defensive if I would have stayed quiet.

Eventually, preppers “self-identify” when they’re around people they know and trust. They are suddenly familiar with names like Gerald Celente and Alex Jones. City-dwellers develop an odd interest in raising chickens and turning their backyard pools into tilapia ponds. It’s not hard to figure out who’s prepping if you pay attention, and keep your mouth shut until you’re pretty darn sure they’re on the same page as you.

6) And, we should have focused on financial survival first instead of third, or fourth

In the beginning I felt a mad rush of urgency to buy, to stock up, to preserve, to read. I wish I had felt that same urgency when it came to money. I should have doubled down on paying off debt, saving money, learning about and buying precious metals. We did these things eventually, but it would have made life easier if we had taken financial survival a little more seriously from the get-go.

As an experienced prepper, I now realize the importance of financial prepping. In fact, you could almost say that it sets the stage for all other prepping steps but it’s overlooked by most prepper writers and websites, and that’s a shame. From finding ways to earn extra money to creative ways for cutting back on expenses, it’s possible for just about anyone to come up with enough extra dollars each month to afford a good first aid kit, freeze-dried food, a Sun Oven, and many other helpful products. I’m also a big fan of having extra cash on hand for emergencies.

Looking back, what prepper mistakes did you make?

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8 Reasons Why People Refuse to Prep

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I’m always fascinated to hear the many reasons why people don’t prep. In our neighborhood, my wife learned from a friend that a mutual acquaintance was planning on coming over to our house in the case of a dire emergency. My wife has met this woman exactly once. So why doesn’t she prep herself? Apparently, she’s just too busy.

Too busy to look out for her own family but not too busy to make the calculated decision that she, her strong, young husband, and their 3 kids will drive a few blocks to our house and, basically, steal from us.

So what other reasons do people have for not prepping? Well, in no particular order, here’s what I came up with:

Sheer stupidity

Yep. In a world filled with vapid video games, celebrity worship, and a shallow understanding of how anything works, anything at all, there are people who have simply never considered doing something today to prepare for tomorrow. They’re the same ones who couldn’t handle a $500 emergency and have to run to the store hours before a hurricane hits to buy milk, bread, and eggs. We know them as “French toast people.”

Their IQs are probably adequate for getting through the mild ups and downs at life, but when thrown a curve ball of any magnitude, their choice is to sit back and wait to be taken care of.

Denial

“It can’t happen to me.” “It’s never happened here.” We’ve all heard these sad refrains and can only pity the people who believe them. If all emergencies came with a 1-month warning, they wouldn’t be emergencies, would they? No matter your income, education, status, or title, sooner or later bad things will happen to you, but, for now, it’s easier to remain in denail than actually think about those scary scenarios and prepare for them.

Fear

We know from basic human psychology that when the human brain is confronted with something terrifying, it sends 1 of 3 signals to the body: freeze, flee, or fight. For Americans who have never had to deal with much out of the ordinary, thinking about a nuclear war, an economic collapse, or a geography-changing earthquake causes them to often freeze. Acknowledging potential and possible scenarios like these is too difficult and they remain frozen in their inaction.

People in this category would do well to read Gavin De Becker’s best-seller, The Gift of Fear, and understand that very often, fear makes us do some pretty smart things, and that includes prepping.

Peer pressure

Now here’s a weird one but I’ve seen it in my wife’s family. Back in the days of Doomsday Preppers, I heard some of them make fun of the preppers depicted in the show and then laugh at a couple of relatives who had thought of prepping themselves. Those folks backed down, as in, “Well, I guess it is kind of silly, huh?” when facing ridicule. Hard to imagine that mature adults, with kids, mortgages, jobs, and other responsibilities would back down, but they did.

Procrastination

I’ve heard it said that TEOTWAWKI has a date. You just don’t know what it is, yet. That dire medical diagnosis, news of a loved ones death, the loss of a job, a Category 5 hurricane, “the storm of the century”, they will all happen at some point. We just don’t have the ability to peer into the future to know exactly what will happen and when. So, most people procrastinate. They’re busy, money is short, the spouse isn’t on board, or maybe they just aren’t all that worried, but for whatever reason, they don’t prep because they’re rather put it off for another month, anothery year.

Normalcy bias

Normalcy bias differs a bit from denial because denial is a conscious choice. Normalcy bias is a little trick our brains play on us. It’s a survival mechanism that causes us to believe that everything will be okay. The Survival Mom writes about witnessing a tragic traffic accident and, to her eyes, seeing a scarecrow fly through the air. In fact, that scarecrow was a human being who had been jettisoned from the car’s window, but her brain insisted, “It’s a scarecrow. Humans don’t fly, silly!”

Our brains for survival and normalcy bias is one way it prepares us for the most traumatic life events. So, for those who insist that really, really bad things will never happen may just be suffering from normalcy bias.

Sense of superiority

If your above average intelligence, wealth, and overall superiority naturally places you in a lofty position, high above the riff-raff, then you probably also scoff at the idea of stocking up on cans of beans. After all, you know best and those dummkopfs on Doomsday Preppers are just a bunch of redneck hillbillies. What could they possibly know that you don’t? Right?

I know people with this attitude, and maybe you do, too. It seems to be a combination of arrogance and denial, a dangerous blending of 2 potentially lethal beliefs. You quickly learn to not even try to reason with these people. After all, if you had their bank balance and degree from a fancy university, you, too, would realize your own invincibility. You poor sap.

Life’s overwhelming burdens

I don’t have much patience with people in the previous categories, but this one, well, I’ve been there — burdened down with a stressful job, behind in paying taxes, rowdy and loud kids, a wife always behind in household chores while trying to keep a smile on her face.

Sometimes life just seems to keep you under its heavy boot and the last thing you need to hear is, “Hey, you’d better start prepping for the end of the world, man.”

Where will the money come from? Where will I get the time when I’m already working 50 hours a week, plus some weekends? On top of everything else, the last thing I need is to start worrying about an economic collapse, a civil war, nuclear bombs going off — I just want to take a nap and maybe escape for a while in front of the TV.I understand and sympathize. I really do.

In the past 9 years, my wife and I have gone through some of these mindsets, or excuses, depending on your point of view. A lot of preppers do but since we understand the need to be ready for when the S really does hit the fan, we eventually get back on our prepper feet and keep going, a little at a time.

With others, though, I don’t nag or even talk anymore about prepping. I don’t want my friends to start avoiding me and in the case of co-workers and family members, I need to maintain a positive relationship with them. They know where to find me if/when they change their mindset about being prepared.

Have I covered all the reasons people avoid prepping or have I missed one?

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America’s Power Grid: Vulnerable or Not?

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The current threat posed by North Korea can be debated back and forth, but one thing we know for certain is that the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un, has weapons capable of of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack. This thought is terrifying and we citizens have no way of knowing how far those capabilities go and whether or not we might live in a targeted area.

Not very comforting, and I tend toward paranoia in the best of times. A war here on American soil is a terrifying thought.

Dictators are more interested in self-preservation than anything else, and, perhaps, that’s the one thought that gives me a bit of comfort. All the same, America’s power grids are not all that secure and definitely not hardened against this type of attack.

America’s power grids

America has 3 separate power grids, the Eastern grid, the Western grid, and the Texas grid, which is owned by Texas. These 3 networks are not connected with each other. Therefore, if one should go down, it cannot get energy from the other two.

These grids connect power generating plants with giant transformers that, once installed, weigh over 800,000 pounds. From these primary transformers, power is transmitted along high voltage lines that connect with smaller transformers and substations, which ultimately bring power to homes, businesses, and industries.

As impressive as our generating stations are and as complex as the system is, there are numerous weaknesses that make it vulnerable to an EMP, as well as sabotage, cyberterrorism, and a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

The giant transformers that collect the initial power generated would be rendered inoperable by an EMP. These transformers are not built in the United States. Our country no longer has the forging equipment to make something that large. It generally takes a couple of years to build transformers this size, and that’s assuming current infrastructure is in place and functioning. In a big enough crisis, it might be possible for a power station to procure one of these giant transformers more quickly, but that isn’t something anyone should count on.

Even though many power plants have backup transformers, these, too, could be disabled by an EMP unless they are protected in some way.

Another weakness in our power grid system is the reliance on backup generators for the continued operation of our power plants. The concept is great and will work during a typical catastrophe, such as a hurricane, earthquake or short-term blackout. However, the pulse generated by an EMP will affect most of the systems that keep these plants running, and that will most likely include the backup generators. Even if some of the generators remain in working order, they will still need an indefinite supply of fuel to maintain a level of energy production, and the production and transportation of that fuel will be just as affected by EMP than the generators themselves.

Finally, there is the human element. The people who run these power plants also have children and loved ones that they will want to protect and provide for in the event of a catastrophic event. In fact, they, more than most of us, will quickly realize the implications of the power grid failure. It’s unreasonable to expect them to continue on their jobs, against all odds and in constant danger, in order to make Herculean efforts to restore power – if that would even be possible. Without the necessary staff on hand, the plant cannot continue to operate.

Why no protection against EMP?

A number of years ago I spent some time with a relative who had worked on a task force as a police officer in a large city. He was aware of the vulnerability of the 2 large, local power plants but said, “The people who run these plants know about EMP and other threats but don’t care to spend the money in order to harden their systems.”

Why doesn’t that surprise me? Congress hasn’t shown much interest, either. Two Congressional EMP reports are almost a decade old, and yet, nothing has been done to protect the power grids the entire country relies on. (Do take some time to read this report — it’s more readable than most other government documents.) As recently as 2015, members of Congress have known of the threat but with no action.

This emphasizes the need of every household in the country to go full-on YOYO, You’re On Your Own. It’s pointless to sit and wait while those in power dilly, dally, and collect contributions to their so-called War Chests before making the decision to discuss an issue. With Kim Jong-Un at the helm of a rogue country with nuclear weapons and 25% of the population participating in his military. We can laugh at the rotund dictator, but with his pudgy finger near the nuclear green-light button, it doesn’t pay to ignore the menace.

Wondering what to do first to prepare? These articles are a good starting point:

 

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This One Simple Strategy Will Make You a Better Prepper

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a better prepper

Many preppers and survivalists that I have known reach a level of arrogance, sooner or later. They have all their preps in place, they know multiple survival skills, and have a solid foundation of knowledge from everything from trapping small game to canning venison. However, if there’s one thing I know about any crisis scenario, it’s that they are 100% unpredictable. The very event you thought you were completely prepared for can go sideways in a moment, with your best laid plans in shambles.

Maybe it’s time for a new strategy with your prepping, one that goes beyond what the prepper pundits teach. What if you purposely put yourself in situations where you might not have all the right survival gear or there are unexpected twists that require quick thinking and adaptation. Here’s what I have in mind:

Become a better prepper by making things hard for yourself. On purpose.

Bugging out

We all have well-equipped bug out bags and intricately detailed plans for getting out of Dodge, but what if you purposely made a bug out drill far more difficult by driving a route at night, in the rain or fog, with the recording of your screamng 2 year-old in the background?

Think that might put some hair on your chest? For sure, you would have to focus with an intensity that isn’t called for on a sunny day, with temps in the low to mid-70s, but how likely is it that you’ll have those ideal conditions when the S really does hit the fan?

How about driving that route until approaching a choke point, such as a bridge or the entrance to a tunnel, and quickly make a detour, as though that point was a roadblock? Is that a realistic scenario? Yep, so why not create the scenario for yourself now, rather than simply making a mental note that roadblocks, man-made or not, could happen on the way to your bug out location?

Any difficulty you can set up to thwart your carefully laid bug out plans will serve you well by testing your ability to think, accept, and adapt to abrupt changes in circumstances.

Your food storage stash

Challenge yourself and your family to eating only what is in your food storage for 2 days, 3 days, or longer. After all, isn’t that the exact same scenario you are planning for? What if half your food was destroyed by a house fire? Move 50% of your food out of the pantry/kitchen and that is what you’re stuck with.

Now, mix things up a bit and make the situation even more difficult by requiring food to be cooked only using a solar oven (Cloudy weather? Too bad!) or only a charcoal grill. How about a scenario that mimics the real thing by having beans and rice 3 times a day for at least 2 days? You will learn so much more about the pratical applications and realities of food storage by putting yourself through these tests than you ever will by reading a prepper forum.

Have a difficult conversation

You’ve probably given some thought about how you would like your family and closest friends to continue if something ever happens to you, but have you ever sat down with them and discussed it?

No one likes to talk about death or the possibility of a loved one being so far from home they cannot ever make it back, but now is the time to think this through. I am on the road quite a bit with my job, not terribly long distances but long enough to know that the path that leads back to home may become so dangerous and/or my health and physical strength at risk that my family would have to move on with their survival without me.

All of us do our prepping with the assumption that we’ll be there when the worst happens, but what if the worst is not coming home at all? There’s plenty I want my family to know, such as how to secure the house and who I personally trust the most as prepper allies. I may have talked about this in passing but not nearly as in depth as I should — even if my family doesn’t want to think about a future without their husband and father.

If you’ve ever wondered what you would do in this scenario, this article has some excellent insights.

Push your shooting skills to new levels

It’s no secret that Preparedness Advice is very pro-2nd Amendment, and I have done more than my share of shooting over the years. Even if your shooting skills are far above average, make things a little more difficult the next time you go to the range by shooting strong-arm/weak-arm, using your non-dominant eye, shooting leaning against something, or shooting in a squatted or seated position. (If your range doesn’t allow for some of these, then find one that does, head out to the boonies to do your shootiong, or find a class that includes these other skills.)

Take a tactical class where you’ll be shooting while moving, at moving targets, and with live ammunition. I did that a few years ago and the level of intensity and non-stop adrenaline was something I never experienced before in previous classes. A lot of ranges offer classes in low-light shooting and one that challenges you with new tactical scenarios.

Again, make a purposeful decision to make things hard for yourself in order to ultimately improve your skills and become a better prepper.

Family finances

At this moment I have a great job with really good benefits, doing something I enjoy, but an economic collapse is a scenario that is always a possibility. I could hone my own survival skills, and that of my family, by whittling down our unnecessary expenses to just a few dollars a month, or even zero. What would we do for entertainment if we cancelled our subscriptions to Netflex and Amazon Prime? If we had to worry about ever gallon of gas used, that would change our lifestyle and decisions. Our eating habits would change, the temperature of our house would change, and we would get a realistic picture how an economic collapse would affect our everyday lives.

This wouldn’t be fun and we would all hate it, but what a great opportunity to not only test our preps but also learn how to cope with few, if any, luxuries that make our lives comfortable. This is something you could set up, even if only for 48 hours.

If you’re not giving yourself challenges and taking risks conscioiusly, then you may be setting yourself up for failure in a real life survival scenario. Become a better prepper by doing something VERY different. If you’re really good at something, then change it up in a way that makes it very different, requiring different knowledge and skills you might not have.

Take risks NOW, ahead of a crisis. You’l learn a lot about yourself — how easily and how quickly you adapt (or not). These tests will also give you invaluable insights as to how your family members and even prepper group members will behave when everything hits the fan.

I’ll leave you with a true story about my wife. A few years ago we both took a concealed carry class. Although she was less experienced than I, she was determined to pass the final test to become qualified. I knew she could pass the written test and was fairly certain she’d pass the target shooting test as well.

As it turns out, she almost didn’t pass the shooting test! Why? Because in all the months and months of practice, she had never had to shoot in front of a large group of spectators. She said, “I was so rattled that I was using my non-dominant eye! I was lucky to have hit the target at all!” Fortunately, she figured out what she was doing wrong, made the correction, and passed, but this is a prime example of why and how we should put ourselves into scenarios and in circumstances that bring physical, emotional, and mental discomfort in order to grow.

How could you purposely make things more difficult in order to grow as a prepper?

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6 Habits of Highly Effective Preppers

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In 1989, Stephen Covey published his timeless book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and launched not only a “7 Habits” empire, but changed countless lives.

I was reviewing his list of habits and was struck by how many of them directly apply to preparedness and survival, from everyday emergencies to worst case scenarios. Here are 6 of Covey’s habits and how they apply to prepping.

1. Be Proactive

To be frank, none of us have all the time in the world to get prepped. Even folks on vacation have to be concerned about sudden emergencies like this recent event in North Carolina. Even small emergencies catch most people unaware, and even fewer people are ready for the truly big crises that life has to offer.

It’s not enough to just know about impending catastrophes, such as a worldwide depression or the possibility of an EMP, and neither is it enough to spend hours researching survival topics. If you and your family are to survive and thrive well beyond any crisis, it requires being proactive right now, today. Steven Covey was right to have this as his first Habit.

2. Begin with the end in mind

What do you want your family and home to look like following a major catastrophe? Do you want to have enough food, water, medicines, and supplies to last at least six months? A year? Do you want to have cash, gold, and silver cached in case of a banking collapse? Do you want to be strong, healthy, and fit, able to do plenty of physical labor and take care of the family? Do you want your home to be the one in the neighborhood that survives because it is surrounded by sandbags that protect it from flood waters?

Develop an actual picture in your mind of what your optimal survival scenario will look like:

  • Who will be with you?
  • How will you all arrive at that destination?
  • How will you make sure that your survival situation is secure?
  • What will you have in terms of gear and supplies?
  • How will tasks be delegated?
  • What will a typical day and night be for the duration of this scenario?

With a crystal clear picture in mind, you can then set goals in order to achieve it. Without that clear goal in mind, you’re taking a gamble on something where every day counts.

3. Put first things first

The basics of survival are water, food, shelter, and warmth. Wherever you live right now is where you must begin. That off-the-grid survival retreat may or may not become a reality (and may or may not be desirable – but that’s the subject of a different article), so don’t put off becoming as prepared as you possibly can be right were you are today. Fully cover the basics first.

4. Effective preppers think win-win

Too often, survival minded people circle the wagons and include only their immediate family and, maybe, their very closest friends. But history has shown repeatedly that it’s groups of people who do best when it comes to survival. Neighborhoods and towns who band together following a tornado, for example, recover more quickly than someone trying to do everything on his or her own.

Look for ways to connect with others in your survival plans. No, you shouldn’t tell anyone everything, but sharing ideas, strategies and being supportive of others will increase the chances of your own survival, and that’s smart. If the people surrounding you also have plans and supplies for survival, it’s a win-win for everyone.

How to find those people? Well, as author Jim Cobb says, “Go places where preppers tend to hang out.” Gardening classes, prepper Meet-Ups, fishing and hunting clubs, and so on.

5. Seek first to understand, and then be understood

Not everyone has the same level of concern for survival as you. Some relatives and friends may even seem hostile when you mention food storage and being prepared for emergencies / disaster. Normalcy bias is the default setting for nearly everybody, and since our brains are already wired for that response, it’s no wonder that so many people cringe when “prepping” is mentioned.

There are many reasons why people are oblivious to impending dangers from health issues to hurricanes. Rather than try to force someone to change their mind, spend time listening and asking questions. You may discover that the reason they don’t want to hear about preparedness is because they are frozen with fear and your lectures force them even further into a fear-filled corner.

6. Sharpen the saw

It takes far more effort to cut down a tree with a dull saw than a sharp one. You’ll be able to set clearer goals, stay focused, and accomplish more when you take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Always remember that you are a pivotal factor in the survival of your loved ones. When you don’t take care of yourself, they become more vulnerable. Who will protect them if you can’t or are untrained or unfit to do so?

Find time to decompress. Read a book just for entertainment, pray, get into a regular exercise routine, do some of the things you know you should do, but don’t. In a crisis, you’ll need to be prepared in every way to respond quickly, decisively, and with authority. That won’t happen sitting in front of a video game, regardless of what level you’re on in League of Legends.

Based on these 6 Habits, where do you stand as a prepper?

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Are Your Local First Responders Ready for an EMP?

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first responders ready for empOn April 21, 2016, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discussed an issue that many states and local governments aren’t addressing: The possibility of a widespread grid power outages that would cause people to be out of electricity for long amounts of time.

According to an article in SC Magazine, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.), told members that they need to start helping states and local governments prepare for such an event. During the same meeting, Craig Fugate, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said his agency was working with the Department of Energy to develop federal plans to respond to long-term power outages. Part of this operational plan, he said, would address national safety threats caused by long-lasting electrical power outages.

While congressional committee meetings on this subject demonstrate that federal authorities are starting to think about such a disaster, not enough discussion is happening at the state and local level.

Are Agencies Talking about ‘Grid Down’ Scenarios?

As a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff still involved in the law enforcement community in California, I have posed a scenario of a national ‘grid down’ event to dozens of police officers and firefighters in the western United States. I’ve asked if agencies have any kind of plan to deal with the civil unrest of extended power outages either statewide or nationwide. The answer I get is often a quizzical expression and a resounding “No.” The next question I ask is whether or not this subject is even being discussed. Again, the answer is “No.”

There have been numerous books and articles written about the aftermath of a grid outage and the chaos that would ensue in every community. One of the best known is One Second After, a book that has propelled thousands of everyday Americans to prep. Even Ben Carson, during his bid for the presidential nomination, talked about how unprepared our nation is if the electric grid was brought down for an extended period of time. He noted that, as a nation, we should be doing more to safeguard our electric grid.

However, none of the current articles, books, or any of the Congressional reports dealing with the aftermath of such an event mentions the role of local police or fire departments. It is assumed, and taken for granted, that police and fire would be able to respond to emergencies. Agencies must keep in mind that during such a disaster, gas pumps would not work leaving many firefighters and police officers stranded and unable to report for duty. In southern California, for example, most police and firefighters live more than 50 miles away from their duty stations, and many of the deputies I worked with lived more than 70 miles away from the station.

So why aren’t police and fire departments doing more to train for this event? Why aren’t they having discussions about the implications of a grid down scenario and how their response would have to be modified? While many public safety professionals are aware of such a scenario and the dire consequences it would have on a community, why are these conversations not happening?

If such a disaster did happen, police and fire departments would remain the primary responders. Federal agencies like FEMA would likely be just as paralyzed as the general population and local first responder agencies. No phones, vehicles, or aircraft would be working during widespread power outages, especially if it’s nationwide. Even in the best circumstances, FEMA wouldn’t be able to move resources or respond to every community all at once. FEMA simply does not have the resources to assist small or large cities on a national scale. Therefore, every community, neighborhood, and home would be largely on its own and forced to be self sufficient until order is restored.

How First Responders Can Become Ready for EMP

Police and fire departments are doing their community a disservice by not including this scenario in their disaster planning process. It’s not just an EMP that could take the power grid down but also sabotage, cybersecurity, or a solar event known as a Coronal Mass Ejection.

I have a suggestion that I hope police and fire agencies will resurrect and reconsider. More than 30 years ago when I was a deputy, my sergeant told us in a briefing that in an emergency or disaster we should report to the nearest sheriff or police station. However, in a grid down situation, that may not happen because police and firefighters may not leave their families alone.

Police and fire departments should consider taking a page out of oil refinery maintenance workers’ playbook about reporting for duty during a disaster. In an emergency, maintenance personnel have to work around the clock to get the oil refinery back in production and repair all the damage to the refinery, which could take a week or more. During that time, the maintenance workers must stay at the refinery and cannot go home to be with their families.

To avoid maintenance workers being worried about their relatives’ safety, family members go to a preassigned location where food, water, communications and other resources needed to weather the disaster are in place for the group. The oil company takes care of the maintenance workers’ families because they value the job the maintenance workers do in getting the refinery up and running again.

This is true of other critical industries, such as banking. Large banks have plans in place for this type of scenario, including off-site structures that allow the families of critical employees to purchase low-cost groceries and fuel.

First responders should stop and think if their fire or police department has made such plans for their families. In order to keep personnel on the job if the grid goes down, station commanders must consider ways to keep officers’ families safe and taken care of, too.

It’s time for police and fire to have a plan, or at least start talking, about what to do to maintain a semblance of order during widespread national power outages.

Read more in these articles

About the Author: Dennis Porter has more than 38 years of law enforcement experience with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and trainer. Dennis holds a master’s degree in Homeland Security with an emphasis in Emergency Disaster Management from American Military University.

Additional information provided by Noah, Preparedness Advice editor.

 

 

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7 Reasons to Bug Out in the First Wave

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One of the more challenging decisions you may be faced with is when to bug out. A lot of us who consider ourselves seasoned preppers with a good number of survival skills might be tempted to wait until the last minute because we’re not convinced the situation is so dire that we couldn’t survive. Also, admit it, we don’t want to look foolish in front of our friends and neighbors if the crisis turns out to be a big, fat nothingburger.

However, if any of the following scenarios are a part of your life, it would be prudent to be in that first wave of people heading out of town.

  1. You have a loved one with special needs. Recently I became acquainted with a middle-aged, single lady who lives with her elderly parents. Her father has dementia and her mother has mobility and health issues. She, herself, uses a CPAP machine. I wondered if this family would make it if they ever had to evacuate their home or city, as they live deep in hurricane country. Packing up medical equipment, remembering which prescriptions to pack (and then getting refills if necessary), and helping elderly and ailing loved ones into a vehicle is going to take time, along with energy and physical strength.
  2. There’s a baby in the family. Similar scenario. When I think of the road trips we took when our kids were little, the logistics were nearly mind-boggling. The strollers, toys and other diversions, the travel cribs, diapers, breast-feeding paraphernalia, blankets, clothes and then even more clothes — the list goes on and on. You can’t fully pack what you need to evacuate when you have an infant unless you have plenty of time. In that case, start your bug-out prepping a few days before you think you might actually need to leave.
  3. You have kids. Infants or not, kids are going to slow you down, guaranteed. When they’re little, they won’t be able to find their left shoe or they have a meltdown because it’s time to watch Sesame Street. When they’re older, they’re going to argue and question everything — why do we have to leave now? Can I take my best friend? I have to text my girlfriend/boyfriend first. And on and on and on. Then, once you hit the road, there will be frequent potty stops, “You need to burn off some of that energy” stops, and before you know it, you’ve been on the road 8 hours and have driven only 100 miles. So, yes. If you have kids, plan on bugging out at least a couple of days earlier than you might otherwise.
  4. You have nowhere to go. Think about it. If you wait too long to evacuate, you’ll be competing with thousands of other people for scarce hotel rooms, campsites, etc. If you don’t have any bug out location in mind, and let’s face it, that applies to most preppers, then by getting out on the road early you’ll have first dibs at the best locations. (By the way, take a look at sites like Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner for places to stay in a pinch. Both require deposits of varying types and dollar amounts, but if you really do have nowhere else to go and don’t care to live out in the wilderness with the wife and all the kids, these might be a much better option.) This book, by The Survival Mom, has a list of some very creative bug-out location options and expert advice for planning an evacuation.
  5. There’s a chance you may not be able to return for a very long time. In this case, you’ll need time to pack several month’s worth of supplies. Not necessarily months worth of food — you can buy more wherever you’re headed, but you’ll want to pack clothes for different seasons, maybe homeschooling supplies, and important documents (marriage license, professional resume/certifications for future employment, medical records, birth certificates, insurance policies, financial papers, etc.). You may also want to liquidate such things as insurance policies, retirement funds, and investments, and possibly sell things to add to your cash stash. Wherever you end up, you’ll need funds to survive until you can get another job. All this is going to take a good deal of time, so once you’ve made the decision that you’ll need to leave and may be gone for many weeks, get started and then move out.
  6. You have pets and/or livestock to care for. On one cross-country move we had 4 cats and an elderly incontinent dog with us. Good times. It wasn’t easy to find hotels that were THAT pet friendly, and we had to make sure we packed their food, water/food dishes, disposable litter boxes, and litter. Abandoning our animals is unthinkable — first, I’d have to fight off the kids and wife, but second, and more importantly, those animals then become someone else’s problem, and that isn’t fair to anyone. If you have animals to consider, then you need to make those plans and preps right now to either take them with you or find somewhere for them to stay until the emergency has passed.
  7. You’re going to be part of a larger caravan. The more people who are involved in anything, the more likely there will be delays. We learned this with a sports team carpool recently. All it took was for one kid or one parent to wake up a few minutes late or unable to find their uniform to make the whole lot of us to arrive late to practice. This truth is going to be multiplied exponentially when your group is under extreme duress. This bugging out isn’t a rehearsal — it’s the real deal. You can bet a paycheck that once adrenaline sets in, some won’t be thinking straight, mistakes will be made, arguments over minutiae will slow everything down. So, as soon as you and yours are all set to go, head over to the group’s meet-up place, even if you arrive a few days early.

As always, the big question is, “How do you know when it’s time to bug out?” You may want to head over to our partner blog, The Survival Mom, and read this series of articles about when to know it’s time to bug out, as adviced by folks such as Jim Cobb, James Rawles, Claire Wolfe, The Apartment Prepper, and a dozen or so others. This article by Howard Godfrey contains more good advice.

The post 7 Reasons to Bug Out in the First Wave appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

3 Other Ways to Use Wheat Besides Bread

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Lots of us like to store wheat as part of our long-term food storage. It has a long shelf life, it’s nutritious, and you can use it to make that beloved staple of Western Civilization: bread. In fact, in Medieval Europe, all other foods – meat and vegetables – were considered, “stuff you eat with bread.” However, the ovens the Medieval Europeans used to make this bread were huge, required enormous amounts of fuel, and took most the day to heat up.

We are certainly spoiled with our nice little electric ovens that come up to temperature in less than twenty minutes, but without modern conveniences, how would you bake that bread? Most of us don’t have Medieval bread ovens out in the backyard. And even if you did, what would you use for fuel? It would be a shame to let all that wheat go to waste.

Bread is a staple but it’s also something that takes quite a lot of time to make. I’ve been working on my ow bread-making skills and

Fortunately, bread is not the only thing wheat is good for. If you have a grill, or at least a cast iron frying pan, a manual wheat grinder, and just a few extra ingredients, you can make a wide variety of meals. I’m not even going to mention cracked wheat cereal, which brings to mind thin, sad faces, gruel, and Little Orphan Annie. I mean meals that you would actually want to eat, like pancakes and biscuits.

Even without a modern oven or range, you can place a frying pan over your outdoor grill or over a campfire. This method is perfect for making things like pancakes and tortillas, and can also be used for other quick breads like flatbread and biscuits (you will have to flip them).

Knowing alternative ways to cook, and having the tools to do so, is important for short-term power losses and even a long-term failure of the power grid.

Pancakes

Any pancake recipe can be converted into a whole wheat pancake recipe simply by substituting whole wheat flour for white flour. For very best results, use buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use reconstituted powdered milk and add a tablespoon of plain yogurt. Here is my children’s favorite recipe:

2 Eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/5 cup milk or buttermilk

2 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp brown sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients, cook as you would any other pancake recipe. Makes 6-8 pancakes, depending on size.

Tortillas

We eat a lot of tortillas at our house in the form of fajitas, enchiladas, soft tacos, burritos, and so on. I went through a lot of tortilla recipes trying to find one I like, and this one is pretty fool-proof. I usually double it for my family of five:

2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

3 Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients and mix by hand until it forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour a little at a time until the desired texture is reached. Let the dough rest for about twenty minutes, then divide into six portions. Roll out each ball and cook about a minute on each side. Makes 6 tortillas.

Biscuits

This recipe is adapted from a recipe book that used to belong to my great grandmother.

2 cup whole wheat flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

4 Tbsp shortening (the amount can be decreased to 2 Tbsp, but I prefer the flakier texture that comes with more fat)

3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients together, cut in the shortening. When adding the buttermilk, do not overmix. Instead of rolling out the dough, save time and form the dough into a log, then cut the log into biscuit-shaped slices. Allow 4-5 minutes per side on medium heat, taking care not to let them burn. For best results, cover the pan. Makes 12 biscuits.

 

You’ll notice that none of these three recipes require more than two cups of flour. That is because I assume that if you don’t have your electric stove, you probably don’t have your electric wheat grinder, either. Have you ever tried to grind six cups of flour at once with an ordinary hand-powered grain mill? It’s incredibly tedious. You’ll be having flashbacks from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter for days. Two cups at a time, however, is entirely doable. You’ll be able to finish in less than a half hour.

I hope you will be inspired to test out these recipes. I was skeptical about the idea of skillet biscuits on the grill, but was pleasantly surprised by how they turned out. What are some other non-bread ways you have used wheat in your home?

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33 Things to do with old jeans

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things to do with old jeans

Blue jeans are the classic go-to for millions and millions of us. Pretty much, jeans and a t-shirt is my standard, daily wear. No fuss, not fussy, and both can take years of wear. Every once in a while, though, I’ll wear out a pair of jeans and, I have to be honest here, it’s tough to just put them in the trash.

When we can, we patch them up and a local seamstress repairs belt loops that I somehow manage to rip on a regular basis. But, then, there are times when a pair of jeans is beyond repair, so I did a little research for ways to recycle them (“going green”, right?) and here’s what I came up with.

  1. Hand me downs — If a pair of jeans, and I’m thinking kids for the most part, aren’t full of  holes, they can be used by younger/smaller members of the family.
  2. Store for TEOTWAWKI — Since jeans are so rugged and last for so long, keep larger sizes for clothing storage as kids eventually grow. They could also be used to sell and/or barter.
  3. Make a tote bag or purse — I’ve seen totes, backpacks, satchels, and other bags made out of jeans.
  4. Rifle sling — With a buckle, its length could be customized. The one in this image is a little on the fancy side, but is a good example.
  5. Use denim to make a quilt — With my sister’s help, my young daughter made a denim patchwork quilt. The sewing was basic and simple and the finished quilt is very heavy and warm
  6. Sew a denim “ruffle” to the bottom of a dress or skirt to lengthen it — Modesty has made a comeback in the fashion world for a lot of girls and women, so this would be a way to get more wear out of a skirt or dress that has been outgrown.
  7. Make hot pads — Cut out 8-10″ squares of denim, layer them with Insul-Bright (an insulated, padded lining), and then stitch up.
  8. Make a hot rice pad for sore muscles — This is a simple project, makes a great gift, and who doesn’t appreciate some applied heat to sore parts of the body?
  9. Make a draft dodger to put along the bottom of a door or window — This is similar in design to the rice pad, but use sand to make it heavier.
  10. Cut offs — These were in fashion back in the 70’s. Not really fashionable anymore but when you need a pair of shorts, they take less than 5 minutes to create.
  11. Heavy duty apron — Tool aprons, kitchen aprons — they are all possible projects with old jeans.
  12. Herbal heat wrap — This is similar to the hot rice pad. Just add either dried herbs, like lavender or rosemary, or mix several drops of essential oil with the rice.
  13. Sew cut off legs together to create seat covers for home or vehicle
  14. Picnic quilt — denim, padding, plastic tablecloth or other waterproof material. The Survival Mom has these instructions for a picnic blanket — denim layer on one side, a plastic tarp on the other.
  15. Bibs — One pair of old jeans could give you 3 or 4 good sized bibs for babies and toddlers of different ages.
  16. Drawstring bags — dirty clothes bag, shoe bags, etc. Cloth bags like these are easy to roll up tight and have as an extra backpack if/when I ever need one.
  17. Cut off legs, sew end, fill with sand, sew top. Sandbag.
  18. Cut off the pockets and use them in different ways to hold things
  19. Pillow covers — This is a good use for several pairs of old jeans.
  20. Use old jeans to make patches for clothing, tarps, other heavy clothing. I always keep at least one old pair around to use for this purpose.
  21. Use fabric to reinforce other pieces of clothing — knees, elbows, etc.
  22. Painting or gardening pants — I have an old t-shirt that’s my “painting shirt” and the same with one old pair of jeans that I use only when I’m repairing a car, painting, or doing some other dirty work.
  23. Cover a tree stand seat
  24. Plastic grocery bag holder — I never know what to do with all those plastic bags but this would be a good use for one of the legs on a pair of jeans.
  25. Gardening apron — sew on additional pockets from other old jeans. This would be a good plan for an egg collecting apron, too.
  26. Charcloth — If nothing else, give this project a try for handy tinder.
  27. Cut up jeans, dip into melted wax for firestarter — Another creative survival use for old jeans.
  28. Strips of denim for tourniquets — Know your first aid before trying this, but tourniquets are back in favor as a way of saving a life when there’s no other way to stop blood flow and a life is in danger. These are the tourniquets our family’s kits are equipped with, but if there’s nothing else available, it would be necessary to find a creative solution.
  29. Dog bed cover — Use the instructions for the denim pillow cover — just triple or quadruple the size, depending on your dog.
  30. Rug from waist bands — Something innovative and useful from a part of old jeans that usually ends up in the trash.
  31. Part of patchwork fabric for other items — vest, stuffed animal, etc.
  32. Insulated curtains/window covering — We’ve not made these but if a denim quilt is as heavy and warm as I know it to be, denim curtains would be a really smart strategy to insulate windows from either the cold or heat. Line them with fleece or some other insulative fabric for even more protection. They would also act as blackout curtains if need be.
  33. Pockets as trivets — Double up on the insulation layer to protect table and countertops.
  34. Coasters — This would be a good way to teach sewing skills to kids, and the final project looks to be useful and fun.

The post 33 Things to do with old jeans appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

33 Things to do with old jeans

things to do with old jeans

Blue jeans are the classic go-to for millions and millions of us. Pretty much, jeans and a t-shirt is my standard, daily wear. No fuss, not fussy, and both can take years of wear. Every once in a while, though, I’ll wear out a pair of jeans and, I have to be honest here, it’s tough to just put them in the trash.

When we can, we patch them up and a local seamstress repairs belt loops that I somehow manage to rip on a regular basis. But, then, there are times when a pair of jeans is beyond repair, so I did a little research for ways to recycle them (“going green”, right?) and here’s what I came up with.

  1. Hand me downs — If a pair of jeans, and I’m thinking kids for the most part, aren’t full of  holes, they can be used by younger/smaller members of the family.
  2. Store for TEOTWAWKI — Since jeans are so rugged and last for so long, keep larger sizes for clothing storage as kids eventually grow. They could also be used to sell and/or barter.
  3. Make a tote bag or purse — I’ve seen totes, backpacks, satchels, and other bags made out of jeans.
  4. Rifle sling — With a buckle, its length could be customized. The one in this image is a little on the fancy side, but is a good example.
  5. Use denim to make a quilt — With my sister’s help, my young daughter made a denim patchwork quilt. The sewing was basic and simple and the finished quilt is very heavy and warm
  6. Sew a denim “ruffle” to the bottom of a dress or skirt to lengthen it — Modesty has made a comeback in the fashion world for a lot of girls and women, so this would be a way to get more wear out of a skirt or dress that has been outgrown.
  7. Make hot pads — Cut out 8-10″ squares of denim, layer them with Insul-Bright (an insulated, padded lining), and then stitch up.
  8. Make a hot rice pad for sore muscles — This is a simple project, makes a great gift, and who doesn’t appreciate some applied heat to sore parts of the body?
  9. Make a draft dodger to put along the bottom of a door or window — This is similar in design to the rice pad, but use sand to make it heavier.
  10. Cut offs — These were in fashion back in the 70’s. Not really fashionable anymore but when you need a pair of shorts, they take less than 5 minutes to create.
  11. Heavy duty apron — Tool aprons, kitchen aprons — they are all possible projects with old jeans.
  12. Herbal heat wrap — This is similar to the hot rice pad. Just add either dried herbs, like lavender or rosemary, or mix several drops of essential oil with the rice.
  13. Sew cut off legs together to create seat covers for home or vehicle
  14. Picnic quilt — denim, padding, plastic tablecloth or other waterproof material. The Survival Mom has these instructions for a picnic blanket — denim layer on one side, a plastic tarp on the other.
  15. Bibs — One pair of old jeans could give you 3 or 4 good sized bibs for babies and toddlers of different ages.
  16. Drawstring bags — dirty clothes bag, shoe bags, etc. Cloth bags like these are easy to roll up tight and have as an extra backpack if/when I ever need one.
  17. Cut off legs, sew end, fill with sand, sew top. Sandbag.
  18. Cut off the pockets and use them in different ways to hold things
  19. Pillow covers — This is a good use for several pairs of old jeans.
  20. Use old jeans to make patches for clothing, tarps, other heavy clothing. I always keep at least one old pair around to use for this purpose.
  21. Use fabric to reinforce other pieces of clothing — knees, elbows, etc.
  22. Painting or gardening pants — I have an old t-shirt that’s my “painting shirt” and the same with one old pair of jeans that I use only when I’m repairing a car, painting, or doing some other dirty work.
  23. Cover a tree stand seat
  24. Plastic grocery bag holder — I never know what to do with all those plastic bags but this would be a good use for one of the legs on a pair of jeans.
  25. Gardening apron — sew on additional pockets from other old jeans. This would be a good plan for an egg collecting apron, too.
  26. Charcloth — If nothing else, give this project a try for handy tinder.
  27. Cut up jeans, dip into melted wax for firestarter — Another creative survival use for old jeans.
  28. Strips of denim for tourniquets — Know your first aid before trying this, but tourniquets are back in favor as a way of saving a life when there’s no other way to stop blood flow and a life is in danger. These are the tourniquets our family’s kits are equipped with, but if there’s nothing else available, it would be necessary to find a creative solution.
  29. Dog bed cover — Use the instructions for the denim pillow cover — just triple or quadruple the size, depending on your dog.
  30. Rug from waist bands — Something innovative and useful from a part of old jeans that usually ends up in the trash.
  31. Part of patchwork fabric for other items — vest, stuffed animal, etc.
  32. Insulated curtains/window covering — We’ve not made these but if a denim quilt is as heavy and warm as I know it to be, denim curtains would be a really smart strategy to insulate windows from either the cold or heat. Line them with fleece or some other insulative fabric for even more protection. They would also act as blackout curtains if need be.
  33. Pockets as trivets — Double up on the insulation layer to protect table and countertops.
  34. Coasters — This would be a good way to teach sewing skills to kids, and the final project looks to be useful and fun.

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7 Reasons to Stock Up On Canned Beans

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stock up on canned beans

Beans, bullets, and band-aids. A classic combination for survival. The beans most people store are dried beans, usually stored in big buckets. I have a few of those buckets myself, but over the years, I have also stocked up on plenty of canned beans. I use them in my chili to make the recipe come together faster, but it’s a smart idea to stock up on canned beans.

  1. Long shelf life — Canned beans have a long shelf-life and can be stored at room temperature. I’ve had canned beans on the shelf for at least 5 years, and they were plenty edible when it came time to use them. You want to make sure that all your stored food is in the coolest part of the house, if you want to maximize the shelf life. Old beans won’t suddenly become poisonous, but they will lose their color, nutrients, flavor, and texture. Still edible, just not as appetizing.
  2. High nutrition levelBeans provide plenty of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, potassium, and various trace nutrients, such as magnesium. During the canning process, a small amount of nutrients may be lost due to the added heat, but overall canned beans remain a nutritious food for storage. Add a tablespoon or two of oil and a bean meal will stick to your ribs for several hours.
  3. Pre-cooked — This is a biggie, to me. In a crisis, I may not have time to cook a meal or even heat up water for a Mountain House dinner, but for sure, I’ll be able to open a can of beans. They’re already cooked, so I don’t have to use up my fuel and won’t have to soak them overnight and then cook them for a several hours as I do with dried beans.
  4. Eat cold or hot — I’d rather eat canned beans heated up with some chopped onion and sliced jalapeno, but if I had to, cold canned beans aren’t a bad way to get a good dose of nutrition. It would also be a way to eat a quick meal without giving away your location due to the scent of food cooking.
  5. Variety — I’ve stocked up on canned beans of almost every color and size: lima, navy, pinto, black, garbanzo, kidney, red, and if I ever see any different varieties on the grocery store shelf, I’ll buy those, too! Not all beans contain the exact same nutrients and calorie amounts, so I figure that with a variety, I’ll have all our nutritional bases covered.
  6. Inexpensive — Usually I wait until I see beans on sale, but I also look for coupons to make them even cheaper. Canning dried beans is another very inexpensive way to get canned, cooked beans, and if you have beans you’ve been storing for 5 years or so, start canning them because sometimes dried beans reach a point at which they will never fully soften when cooked — no matter how long you cook or what kind of trick you use to get them to soften up. If you think that in an emergency, one can of beans would be a “meal”, then you really are getting a bargain when you stock up. I’ve also noticed that bean-based meals tend to be very economical — Cajun beans and rice, for example, or a bean burrito.
  7. Versatile — We put canned beans in my chili (I usually use 2 or 3 different kinds of beans at a time), add them cold to taco salad, and years ago, my wife even made some cookies that called for mashed pinto beans. We use garbanzos in stew and once my son learned how to make hummus, we’ve been going through a lot of cans of those beans.

A final reminder to keep your food storage in a dark, dry, and cool location. Fortunately, with canned beans, you don’t have to worry about insects chewing their way through the metal — or, at least I’ve never seen that happen. But you do need to worry about rust if you live where it’s humid, as I do.

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A Game Plan For Surviving An Arena Attack

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I’m paranoid, no doubt about it. I hate crowds and can’t remember a time when I felt comfortable being around big groups of people. So, when I heard about the Manchester, England, terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert and the questionable arena safety, my first thought was, “I wouldn’t have been caught dead there, anyway.”

Yeah, I had to first look up “Ariana Grande” — not impressed, but even if I had been a big fan, I still wouldn’t have been at that concert among those thousands of people. Why? To me, a crowd that size in a building that forces the maximum number of humans into the smallest amount of space possible scares the bejeebeers out of me. I’m not sure total arena safety is even possible.

Imagine you’re sitting in such a space, probably not to listen to Ariana but, more likely, enjoying your favorite team and a cold beer with friends. A very loud explosion goes off somewhere close by and instantly, every single person in the arena panics.

I’ve been in panicked crowds before and it gets ugly very fast.

Arena safety issues

Now imagine you want to escape yourself — but maybe your wife and kids are with you. The first thing you have to do is get out of your ROW and make it to the AISLE. You know how little space there is in those rows and they’ll be clogged up instantly be people trying to grab their purses, their kids, their souvenir cups, or their half-eaten hot dogs. It’s going to be insane.

If you’re lucky enough to get to the AISLE, now you have to decide whether or not which exit is your best bet to safety and fresh air. Here is where it gets dangerous because you have multiple rows exiting into just a few aisles. Some people will be going up the steps to an exit, others will be racing down the steps — if a single person trips, they could be trampled to death. Only 3 or 4 people who are moving slowly, freeze in terror, or fall to the ground will clog up the aisle for everyone else coming along behind.

Terrorists often plan secondary explosions to create even more panic and death, so imagine the reaction of the crowd in that scenario. Rushing like panicked wildebeests from one explosion only to encounter a second one as they try to escape.

Most arenas are designed for every aisle entrance/exit to empty into a circular concourse area where restrooms, snackbars, and the like are located. Before and after a game or concert, these become highly congested. In a terror attack, this is just one more area I would want to avoid, but in order to escape the arena entirely, there’s no choice but to navigate through the crowd and find the closest exit. If you can, amidst screaming, wild-eyed people, and, perhaps, smoke and debris from a bomb blast.

Any of these choke points must be avoided at all costs, but when the adrenaline is rushing, you’re looking to make sure the family is still with you, you may or may not be able to make the right safety decisions, such as looking for a secondary exit that most people don’t notice.

Have a plan, put it in place

Still want to go to that football game?

The way I see it, you either choose to not go and stay home to watch it on TV (pay the extra for the NFL cable network — it’ll be a lot cheaper than buying game tickets, paying for parking, beer, and hotdogs) OR stay paranoid the entire 4 quarters.

Along those lines, then, if you have no choice but to go to an arena, choose carefully where you will sit, where you’ll park, and make situational awareness a top priority.

When making plans to attend a game, rodeo, concert, or some other big event, look for police presence. Not all venues have the same level of security. You want to attend events at locations with law enforcement in full view and lots of it. Some venues make a point to have large city buses blocking the main entrances from anyone crazy enough to try and ram an explosive-filled vehicle into the main pedestrian areas.

Take some time to view exterior shots of the arena location, street names, parking areas, multiple driving/walking routes to the arena itself. Keep in mind that the Manchester attack happened in an area near the box office and one of the main entrances, presumably to allow the terrorist to escape. In fact, he was able to escape unharmed. Unless the terrorist is suicide minded, the attack may very well happen in an area that provides a fast and easy escape route, such as a main entrance, the box office, a pedestrian area, and the like.

Once you have the lay of the land, study the floorplan of the interior of the arena. Do a little reverse engineering and on a map of the arena, find your preferred main entrance. Then, follow that entrance to the section of seats you can afford, look for seats at the end of a row, near an aisle exit, and pull out your credit card.

On game day…

To help everyone remember which entrance you use, play the role of a tour guide, “Here we’re entering the South Entrance. Now, right across the street is the Hard Rock Cafe. That will help you remember which entrance we used.” Identifying landmarks can go a long way to cement in memory a route to follow.

Everyone in your group should know where to meet in case someone gets separated, and, in a terror attack like the one in Manchester, you have to know that’s a very real possibility. Outside of most modern arenas there are eye-catching monuments, art work, and other displays. When your group is entering the arena, select one of those as the family or group meeting point, and it wouldn’t hurt for everyone with a cell phone to take a quick pic of that spot. In a panic, it would be easy to forget.

Young kids should have in their pockets an ID card with contact information for parents. I’ve heard of writing mom or dad’s name and cell phone number on a young kid’s arm with a Sharpie, but I haven’t done that myself.

On the big night, get seated strategically. A principle we use when we’re out on family hikes or bike rides, is to have one adult or responsible teenager lead the way with the strongest family member coming along behind the group, ready to help or even pick up and carry the smallest/weakest person, if necessary. This is easy to put in place when selecting seats — make sure the kids are seated in between the strongest/oldest family members. and make sure everyone with you knows where to find the exit and agree to all exit together, following the same route. If one of your kids ends up heading toward a different exit or gets lost in the crowd, the nightmare experience will intensify tenfold.

At this point, buy that beer, get popcorn and hot dogs for the kids, and sit back and enjoy yourself as much as possible. Every day and night around the world millions of people attend events just like this one in relative safety. It’s just guys like me, born paranoid, who can’t fully relax because that’s the way we are.

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How to Save Seeds For Optimal Vitality

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As summer begins rolling into autumn, it’s time to get busy saving seeds from your summer harvest.  Remember that HEAT and MOISTURE are the enemies to seed viability after storage.  In other words, just the things that make a seed germinate when planted are the things that will kill them during storage and prevent germination later when planted.  Even if the poorly stored seeds germinate, they may produce weak, spindly plants that do not produce fruit or vegetables.  You may get carrot sprouts but never any root bigger than a thread even after months of growing.

When stored properly, some seeds can last 5-10 years, but this depends on the type of seed.  Some seeds don’t do well the second year no matter how good the storage conditions.  Seed banks use climate controlled environments (temp/humidity) to store their seed banks and grow them out every second or third year.

Fedco Seeds has a great chart on Seed Saving for Beginnners which gives great information including seed longevity. Most seeds store well for 2-3 years. Onion will only last one year and leek will last two at the most. Cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes can last up to ten years.  I have successfully grown tomato plants from seven year-old seeds. Remember the younger the seeds, the more vigorous the plants will be.

If you are faced with an emergency where you had to get a garden in and survive off what you produce, you will also need to harvest seed from that garden so you don’t use up all your precious seed bank and have nothing left for the next season. If your emergency is such that you have enough time to grow a garden, you may need to do it for more than just one season. There is no substitute for experience in the garden.

I recommend a fantastic book by Steve Solomon called Gardening When it Counts: Growing Food In Hard Times. His premise is that you are gardening because you are going to live on what you grow so you cannot afford to waste money or to fail. This book was not written specifically for any particular state or zone and is not for the Square Foot Gardening crowd but it is full of extremely valuable advice gained from decades of experience with subsistence gardening. He also discusses seed longevity and seed saving.

In an ideal situation, you would be growing your seeds every year and saving seeds from the most vigorous plants and the best fruits. Watch for the plants that produce the biggest and best leaves and fruit. Tie a piece of yard around the stem, so you’ll remember those are the plants whose seeds you want to save.

By saving seeds from each harvest season, your seeds will always be fresh. Even if you live in an apartment, you can practice growing seeds on your balcony in pots. That said, you may purchase seeds for your garden and only plant some and save the rest for the next years. I do this. It’s a great money saver.

Seeds should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. A mason jar in the refrigerator is ideal and easy. I store seeds from each type of plant in small, labeled paper envelopes. (These small packets make it very easy to trade seeds, too.) Adding a desiccant, oxy pack, or pumping down to vacuum would also improve shelf life. Do not store seeds in a frost free freezer without making sure the container is airtight. Ever seen an ice cube left too long in a frost free? It evaporates. This will kill your seeds. Seeds need to maintain a low level of moisture to survive, and if you’re packaging seeds yourself, that desiccant packet could make a huge difference in whether or not the seeds remain viable.

If you buy your seeds in a #10 can, keep it in the refrigerator. Every 10 degree F increase in temperature above standard conditions combined with a 1 percent increase in the moisture content of the seed, cuts the storage life of the seed in half.

Last but not least, make sure you purchase good quality seeds to begin with. Some seeds are nearly worn out when you get them. If you purchase seeds that have been stored in an outside nursery with the lovely trays of flowers under a mister system, they are in trouble. I was at a “big box” garden center the other day and the seed envelopes were under the shade cloth outside, in the heat, near the flowers.  The packages had been so damp they were bent over. They had probably been out there all summer. I checked the envelopes and the seeds were loose in the packet and not inside a foil pack inside the envelope. At a “supercenter” I went to, the seeds were inside the air conditioned part of the store and well away from any moisture.  These would be a much better bet. The best place to get seeds for storage is through mail order or order online from a reputable dealer. My favorite is Fedco Seeds for quality, price, and customer service.  There are several other good ones as well.  These seed dealers store their seeds appropriately and test germination each year for each lot.

Growing food is a big enough challenge but can you imagine trying to do that with old seeds that may or may not be viable? Take the time to not only learn how to save seeds but then store them so they will retain their optimal vitality.

Marta Waddell contributed to this article.

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Make a Common Sense Survival Kit for Everyday Carry

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common sense survival kitOne aspect of the prepper philosophy is common sense. After all, it is just common sense to plan for the future, regardless of what may or may not happen. That’s why we have retirement funds, car, home and health insurance and regular well-checks with the doctor. Planning ahead is also why you may stick an umbrella in your brief case or carry a light jacket on a sunny day. And it would be stupid to not carry a spare tire and tools to change a flat!

So when it comes to wilderness or urban survival, being prepared is just common sense, and you should insert a healthy dose of that commodity into any disaster or emergency planning.

So, I propose that you, a prepper, should also make a compact, easy-to-carry wilderness and/or urban survival kit to include with all your other survival gear. One that is based on common sense, not necessarily what survival sites and forums tell you that you must have.

Are you committed?

common sense survival kit

Carry survival gear in your wallet. I always have (from left) firestarter, charcloth (in a waterproof, plastic bag) and a signal mirror with me.

 

What’s “common sense” for me, may not be common sense for you!

Your goal for this common sense kit is based on what makes sense for YOU to carry, not a former Navy Seal living in Costa Rica who has a popular blog. Toward that goal, then, start by asking yourself:

  • Can I dunk a basketball?

I can’t. Never could. But watch any NBA game and you’ll see the guys slam the ball home at every opportunity. If you watch the survival “reality” shows, you may also see incredible techniques done routinely, under the worst circumstances. So what? Use the common sense filter. Just because somebody can dunk a basketball or perform wondrous survival techniques on TV doesn’t mean you can, or might be able to learn. Don’t rely on gee-whiz technology or esoteric aboriginal survival techniques. The idea is to survive, and during a disaster you won’t have time for on-the-job training!

  • Do I know anything?

Be honest! It doesn’t matter how much survival stuff you have. It’s worthless if you can’t, or don’t know how, to use it. Take a good look at your skills and abilities, and face your inadequacies. (See on-the-job training, above.)

  • Will I make a commitment to learn?

Again, be honest, and don’t put this off. If you don’t know how to perform first aid or make an emergency shelter, learn now. Sign up for a community college course, read good survival books, and talk to folks like the Search and Rescue people who are actually using these skills. If a disaster happens this afternoon, maybe all you will have to work with is what you’ve got.

If you can, sign up for a course with Preppers University and their small group classes with live instructors. I’ve taken 2 of these courses and have learned a great deal from ultra-wilderness survival expert Toby Cowern, urban survival expert Selco, pandemic researcher and author Steve Konkoly, and Tammy Trayer who lives off-grid and explained in detail how I could set up my own solar system. Being able to ask them questions, face to face, was priceless.

  • What gear is practical?

I am honored to serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout Troop in Bend, Oregon. Over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed a lot of “survival gear” that is nothing more than expensive junk. Before buying this kind of stuff, talk to someone in the know, and find out what urban or wilderness survival gear they use. Assess those items with your skill level and then decide what you need.

  • Will I make a commitment to carry this survival kit with me?

The best gear in the world does you no good if you don’t have it with you! Your survival kit must be compact and convenient to carry or it will get left behind. If it’s too heavy, too bulky, contains things you don’t think you’ll ever use — it will likely end up in the garage or a closet.

Now start making that common sense survival kit

Here are a few suggestions, once you’ve made a survival kit commitment:

  • Make your own

Commercial kits may include cheap and worthless things in them to keep the cost down. You don’t ever want to be in a situation where your life is in danger, grab a tool out of your pack that could save your life, only to have it break after 2 minutes of use. The components in my pocket-sized Altoids tin kit would cost about $50 to $60 to replace. My life is worth that to me!

Is a pre-fab kit worthless? Not entirely, but they are generally filled with low quality items. However, if you start with one of these and then begin to diligently work to improve and customize it, it may be a helpful way to get prepped in a hurry.

  • Can you use everything in the kit?

Using some suggested items may be beyond your skill levels. Remember that dunk shot? Your choice is to learn how to use everything, or replace that particular component. YouTube videos, including this Survival Common Sense channel, is full of instructions for using survival gear. Just be sure to weed through videos from questionable “experts”.

common sense survival kit

Here’s one way to keep some of the basic survival tools with you at all times. On the keyring: LED flashlight, fingernail clippers, whistle, Boy Scout Hot Spark firemaker and Classic Swiss Army knife. The other knife rides in a pouch on my belt, wherever it is legal.

  • Don’t let your survival kit give you a false sense of confidence.

Gear doesn’t replace knowledge. I guarantee you that most everyone who buys a pre-fab “survival kit” from Amazon, packs it in the trunk of their car or in their house and doesn’t give it another thought. Survival kit = survival, right? Nope. Keep learning and practicing using the tools and gear in your kit and don’t assume that just because you have it, you have some sort of cloak that makes you invincible.

Every survival book or website has some variation of this basic list of essential outdoor tools. Some of the items are common sense, such as a survival knife (read this to identify the one that is best for you), fire-making gear, extra clothing, and a map and compass. Always make sure you have all the recommended items with you!

Finally, apply the common sense filter to anything associated with your survival. Beware of “survival experts” websites, TV shows and articles. Just because someone has a website, logo, book or magazine column doesn’t mean they know anything! Use the tips in this article to identify true experts in the areas of survival and preparedness.

View any information with your eyes open and apply the common sense filter. If your BS alarm starts to go off, there is probably a good reason for it! And how about that dunk shot!

Article contributed by Leon Pantenburg of Survival Common Sense with additional commentary by Noah.

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Should You, Could You, Prepare For World War 3?

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world war 3I can’t ignore the ominous tone of headlines on Drudge Report as well as articles across the internet that a “surprise” nuclear war, a World War 3, is a possibility. Admittedly, with the current leader of North Korea heading up a standing army of 1.1 million strong, with another 8.3 million in reserves, anything is likely.

Oh, yeah. Those pesky “failed” missile tests. No doubt some of them were actual failures, but what if the goal was only to see how far into the atmosphere the missile could reach? Armed with a nuclear warhead, that launched missile may have a chance of creating an electromagnetic pulse near, or over, the American homeland. Read One Second After by William Forstchen to get an idea of what life in a post-EMP world would be like.

It’s all too easy to mock Kim Jong-un — his haircut, portly build, somewhat vacant stare, but as I’ve taught my kids, someone with an IQ of 48 can kill you just as easily as someone with an IQ 3 times that. Kim Jong-un has managed to have his brother assassinated, has brutally cleansed his government of the tiniest sign of dissent, and seems fully in charge of an isolated country of some 25 million citizens.

As of this writing, residents of Hawaii are being told to take this threat seriously and some top leaders in the military are suggesting installing a missile defense there.

Why is it so difficult to imagine him taking on the United States via a missile attack? And if Kim Jong-un backs down, there are significant threats brewing in the Middle East, and Putin’s Russia continues to play its role as America’s arch-rival.

The main problem as I see it is a world that is more unstable than at any time in my lifetime, with war being a very real possibility. Sometimes it even seems there are some in our federal government pushing for war.

World War 3 ushers in more than war damage

When my family first began prepping some 9 years ago, a third World War wasn’t on my list of prepping priorities. Back in late 2008, an economic collapse seemed far more likely, and it is still near the top of my own threat analysis. (If you haven’t made your own threat analysis, follow these instructions.)

What’s important to remember, though, if war hits our homeland, it would result in war related deaths and damage, sure, but virtually everything would be affected: shipping of virtually all products, including medicine, access to healthcare, jobs, the power grid and delivery of power, municipal water and sanitation systems, even relationships. Take a look at the devastation in Venezuela over the past several months to get an idea of a country in crisis.

War here in the homeland would be equally chaotic with the addition of unimaginable damage done by conventional and (likely) unconventional weapons. What would be destroyed? Well, consider what holds our country together: bridges, water/sanitation plants, government buildings, highways, airports, military bases, internet, banking, phone service, you name it.

Additionally, your daily routine will change. You may not have a job to go to, school may not be in session, dentist and doctor appointments may be difficult to come by. Everyone who depends on you now will continue to do so, including pets and livestock animals.

So how do you prepare?

Over the years, I’ve heard survival-minded folk talk about SHTF, WROL, and TEOTWAWKI as though they are something to look forward to. They can test out their cool gear, get to their bug out locations, and live out in real life the survival fantasies they’ve only read about in books.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh, but no matter how well prepped any of us think we are, the reality of a worst case scenario will absolutely be more than we can imagine and there are a multitude of variables that no one can anticipate. One significant step I’ve taken with my prepping is a course at Preppers University. I couldn’t always attend the live classes, but when I did, the chance to ask questions of survival experts was priceless. When I had time, I went back and watched the recordings, too.

Obviously, I’ve been considering this particular worst case scenario for a while and have determined the best course of action for me and my family: prep to maintain the best level of normalcy possible. Think of it this way:

If my income is interrupted, I can prep by:

  • Save money
  • Pay off debt
  • Possibly pay ahead with property taxes
  • Learn additional skills that could generate income
  • Set a goal of paying off our house
  • Teach my kids skills that could be used to earn money

My thought process here is to become as financially independent as possible on my average, middle class earnings. By being very careful with our money we can meet most/all of these goals. If war does come, I’m not going to count on the mortgage company telling me I can continue living in our house if I can’t make payments. Even if the dollar becomes devalued, I’d rather have $10,000 in savings than nothing at all.

If supply lines cause scarcity, we can:

  • Continue stocking up on food, medicine, and other hard goods
  • Get in the habit of cooking meals from scratch in order to utilize the least expensive “survival foods”, individual freeze-dried or dehydrated ingredients
  • Make sure my kids know how to cook from scratch
  • Keep track of these preps so there’s no shortage of anything critical

No one can stock up on multiples of every single item they might ever need, so I’ve been working on covering the basics and covering them very well. Every month we buy a little more food specifically for our food storage pantry. My wife looks for coupons and sales on non-food items, like OTC medications, household cleaners, paper plates, pretty much anything that would come in handy and has a good long shelf life.

If we aren’t able to leave our house, I can have these plans in place:

  • Have supplies on hand and plans in place to homeschool our kids.
  • Keep in mind that entertainment isn’t a luxury but a way to wile away time and take the focus off hardships.
  • Become as self-sustained as possible within the walls of our house and on our 1/3 acre suburban lot.
  • Keep track of the services we use throughout the month and plan to either not use them at all or have the supplies and good-enough skills to take care of them ourselves.

Here, I’m thinking about a nuclear event or pandemic that might turn a quick errand into a deadly trip with no return. Another possibility is active warfare in and around our town and everyday violence and civil unrest (see Venezuela). Are you ready for a quarantine if biological warfare is used? Stuck at home, we would have to rely on ourselves, our preps, and ingenuity. With or without kids, a schedule and routines will be important to maintain sanity, a bit of normalcy, and chores to keep the home in order.

If medical and dental services aren’t available, we can prep by:

  • Stocking up on the over-the-counter meds we use most often
  • Keeping up to date with dental and vision check-ups
  • Annual physicals are on our calendar and we follow up with anything the doctor recommends
  • Working toward eating clean, healthy foods and reaching/maintaining healthy weights.
  • Working out on a regular basis to build muscle strength and stamina
  • Taking as many classes as we can related to medical care and health, and encourage our kids to do the same. (This is possible through Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol, to name just two resources.)

This is an area that is so important but I fear it’s overlooked my many preppers, unless you’e talking about how to gouge out a bullet from a body! If you’re a couch potato, who wants to get up and work out? My wife pointed out to me just last week that I’ve gained a few pounds, and I have. With my job getting busier, I haven’t been exercising like I used to. All the preps in the world, though, won’t do you any good if you’re sickly, weak, unable to lift/carry/walk, etc. While preppers with various health issues definitely CAN survive, if you’re able-bodied but just lazy, there’s no excuse!

I’m not going to minimize the impact of a World War 3 on our homeland. When Selco talked about having to scavenge for edible weeds and not having a working toilet, it was very sobering. With the kind permission of Preppers University, you can listen to that talk at this link. Take a listen and in the comments, let me know how you would prep for World War 3.

 

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Are Preppers Crazy or Is It Crazy to Not Prep?

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Are Preppers Crazy or Is It Crazy to Not Prep via Preparedness Advice

What do your friends and family say when you tell them you’ve been storing food, growing your own produce or that you subscribe to Mother Earth News?  When they find out that you’re considering raising chickens in your suburban backyard, do they think you’re crazy?  My own friends get this uneasy look in their eyes, and then slowly back away as if they hear the opening notes of  “Dueling Banjos”!

The fact is, human beings have been survivalists, or preppers, for nearly our entire existence.  Foraging, hunting, and gathering wasn’t just an alternate lifestyle for our ancestors but the only means of survival.  Each day, each season brought the possibility of having no water, no food, no medicinal herbs, and no shelter.  Storing as much food as possible, yes, stockpiling!, wasn’t radical, it was sensible.  There was no option to self-sufficiency.

Fast forward thousands of years, and self-sufficiency, by and large, is a thing of the past.  We have forgotten essential, practical survival skills.  Why take the trouble to grow your own food when there’s a grocery store on every corner?  The produce department displays not just one variety of apples but a dozen, all shiny clean and not a worm in sight.  Discount stores offer shoes and clothing at a price much lower than anything handmade.  Most of us revel in the quality and variety of goods that are so easily accessible, but will this era of plenty last indefinitely?

It really is no wonder that preppers seem out of step with most everyone around us.  There are obvious, ominous storm clouds on the horizon, and to us, it just makes sense to stock up on groceries,  learn long-forgotten skills, and make plans for any number of emergencies.

Friends and family may question our sanity, but our ancestors would be proud of our efforts to prepare for an uncertain future.

Want to become a crazy prepper? Check out these articles!

Plant These Edible Flowers in Your Garden Now!

34 Foods You Need in Your Food Storage Pantry

8 Exit Plans Every Serious Prepper Should Have in Place

How to Prep for a Quarantine

The Best Footwear For TEOTWAWKI

Free Manuals to Download on Survival and Edible Plants

 

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Should You Plan to Barter in a Collapsed Economy?

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prepper barteringIf our economy ever does collapse and the dollars we’ve saved become worthless, one thing is for sure, a system of bartering will emerge, along with a black market. As you stock up on food and other goods, you may have had the thought, “This would be good for bartering.” Prepper bartering is a very popular topic on most prepper forums and blogs. But is it something worth planning and prepping for?

The weaknesses of barter

Most people think barter is merely “I’ll trade you this for that.” In a pure, simple sense that is so. However, where the rubber meets the road, where theory smacks hard into the face of reality, it isn’t nearly that simple and easy. There are definite drawbacks.

Let’s use the realistic example of a parent in search of an antiobiotic for his child. If he’s lucky enough, he’ll come upon an acquaintance who happens to have a stash of antibiotics, maybe even fish antibiotics that are available in livestock stores or on Amazon. The parent explains his need and requests a week’s worth of amoxicillin.

The owner of that antibiotic now has to make a tough decision. His own loved ones may be in need of those pills somewhere down the road. It may be impossible to purchase any more in the near future, but perhaps this desperate parent has something of value to trade.

Here is where bartering gets interesting because now the parent has to think of things he’s willing to give up in order to acquire amoxillin. Food? A Berkey water purifier? Gold or silver? A firearm? Ammunition? What?

He can offer any number of items in trade but until the owner of the Amoxicillin decides he wants something that is offered, the trade isn’t going to happen. In my situation, I’d be thinking:

  • Food? We already have a year’s worth, and I don’t need any more.
  • A Berkey? Got that, plus a few other water purifiers.
  • Gold or silver? Maybe, but how much am I willing to lose?
  • A firearm? I could always use another but look at what I’m giving up: a drug that could save my own life or my child’s life someday. Not sure it’s worth it.
  • Ammo? Same reasoning as above.

The trade for amoxicillin in this case may be dead in the water and the parent in search of the drug may have to move on and find someone else with that drug stashed away somewhere.

So is prepper bartering something you can count on as a survival strategy? Obviously not. There’s no substitute for being very well prepared yourself and thinking ahead to what you might need.

By the way, if the proposed barter runs into a dead end, guess who is vulnerable to robbery or worse? Yep. The guy who let it be known that he has a supply of life saving drugs. Not smart and may very well become a major reason why many people simply won’t turn to barter. It reveals what they have during a time in which scarcity is the rule.

If you DO want to prep for barter…

First, make sure you are stocked up with the basics for yourself and your family before worrying about adding items for barter. Consider these points:

  • Do you have extra funds to purchase barter goods?
  • What percentage of your prep budget will go into buying barter goods?
  • Do you have room to stock up on items specific for barter?

The next steps are:

  • Review lists of barter goods and consider costs. What items can you most afford and do you have room to store them?
  • Think about which potential barter goods can double as useful items for you if you need to raid that stash. Example: if you never, ever drink alcohol, then maybe you shouldn’t stock up on dozens of bottles of liquor.
  • Consider stocking only items whose uses you know very well. The more you know about them, and thus their usefulness and value, the better a deal you can haggle.
  • Prioritize your shopping list, but be prepared to deviate if a great deal pops up.
  • Look for your chosen items on sale, clearance, or have coupons. Over the counter drugs, nutritional supplements, and cosmetics often show up in clearance aisles.

What to buy for your barter stash

Most barter items fall into two main categories: comfort/luxuries and survival essentials.

Imagine living for weeks or months without a bar of soap or a bottle of shampoo. After weeks without electricity, imagine the incredible value a pack of matches might have. Other suggestions in the comfort/luxuries category are:

  • Nail polish
  • Lipstick
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Paperback books
  • Hygiene supplies: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo
  • Candy, chocolate, chewing gum
  • Anything that will help make life more pleasant
  • Coffee
  • Baby wipes
  • Spices
  • Candy, chocolate

Among essentials that would be welcome in a barter exchange:

  • Ammunition
  • Long-term food
  • Water filter/purification
  • Seeds (Read this article about mini seed banks specific for bartering.)
  • Batteries
  • First Aid supplies, many are on this list
  • Tools
  • Vitamins
  • Over the counter medications and medical supplies
  • Baby supplies: diapers, formula, baby clothes
  • Camping gear
  • Insect repellant
  • Matches, fire starters

You can read long lists of barter-able items here. Remember that skills and knowledge are great for bartering and won’t impact what you have stored away.

The bottom line is to give this some thought, don’t over-spend, and keep your eyes open for bargains.

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6 Key Things to Do Before, During, and After a Terrorist Attack

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terror attack survivalThey say evil never rests and as we’ve discovered here in the U.S., evil at the hands of terrorists has become more common. We’ve been told by our “betters” that this is the “new normal”, and that we must accept it. So, if our leaders are willing to foist this “new normal” on us, then it behooves us each to learn as much as we can about the tactics of terrorists and how to respond in a way that could save lives. Terror attack survival is no longer reserved for citizens of hot spots like Israel.

A terror attack can take many different forms, and that’s the main reason preparing is difficult. After all, with the randomness, say a lone individual stabbing a complete stranger waiting in line at a Burger King, what do you do, other than wearing a stab vest everywhere? Recent attacks on pedestrians using a truck makes me wary of attending public events.

However, it’s completely possible that future terror attacks will be of an even more lethal variety, with far-reaching consequences and fatalities.

In the case of a CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive device) event, preparing for and responding to these is a challenge, since it depends on the type and size of weapon or device used, weather conditions, and the target (high-rise, mall, school, sporting event, city, etc) among other things.  However, there are a few key things you can do that could potentially save your life.

  • Watch & listen — Sounds simple and it is. Start making a habit of being aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious ~ just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places. Also watch for suspicious activities and anything that is out of place, like someone wearing a heavy coat on a hot day or unattended bags and packages. Situational awareness can be both taught and learned. Begin using the strategies in this article in order to develop this skill.
  • Learn where to go — Find out in advance where you could shelter-in-place at the common places you go (e.g. home, office, school, mall, etc). Most city and county web sites list emergency shelters online or it’s available upon request, then use Mapquest or Google maps to locate ones closest to you. Ask your employer, schools, and other facility officials what their evacuation and sheltering plans are. Then choose a room in your home or building where you could hunker down with supplies and a radio for several hours or days if needed. If you are normally out and about a good deal of the day, then think about the homes of friends, relatives, acquaintances and buildings like churches and any organizations you have a connection with. Call these your “safe houses”. Mark them on maps for your loved ones, memorize addresses and directions, and take shelter there when/if you need to. For more details about safe houses, read this.
  • Get KI, KFM kits and dosimeters. — These are VERY worthy investments in the event of a nuclear incident.
    • KI (potassium iodide) basically fills up the thyroid with good iodine so your body doesn’t absorb the radioactive iodine. Children (including unborn babies) are most susceptible since their thyroids are so active. KI can be purchased inexpensively from Amazon. From the CDC, here are the correct and most currently recommended dosages:
      • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.
      • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
      • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
      • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
      • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
  • KFM kits (Kearny Fallout Meter) measure radiation more accurately than most instruments since they’re charged electrostatically. Free plans are available online or can be purchased as a kit ($45-$75).
  • Dosimeters are pen-like devices you can wear that measure the total dose or accumulated exposure to radiation as you move around ($45-$65 – needs a charger, too). You cannot see, feel, taste or smell radiation so detection devices are extremely important.
  • Expedient shelter — Nuclear fallout is deadly and you may only have a few moments to protect yourself since it starts falling minutes after a blast so learn how to make an “expedient shelter”. Taking shelter underground with shielding is best since it reduces exposure by 90%, but if you don’t have that option:
    • Find a spot away from windows in the center of home or building. Note: if the rooftop of a building next to you is on that same floor, move one floor up or down since radioactive fallout would accumulate on rooftops. Avoid the first floor (if possible) since fallout will pile up on the ground outside.
    • Set up a large, sturdy workbench or table in location you’ve chosen. If no table, make one by putting doors on top of boxes, appliances or furniture.
    • Put as much shielding (e.g. furniture, file cabinets, appliances, boxes or pillowcases filled with dirt or sand, boxes of food, water or books, concrete blocks, bricks, etc.) all around sides and on top of table, but don’t put too much weight on tabletop or it could collapse. Add reinforcing supports, if needed.
    • Leave a crawl space so everyone can get inside and block opening with shielding materials.
    • Leave 2 small air spaces for ventilation (about 4-6″ each) – one low at one end and one high at other end. (This allows for better airflow since warm air rises.)
    • Have water, detection devices, radio, food and sanitation supplies in case you have to shelter for days or weeks.

After 7 hours, radiation levels drop tenfold, and if you stay put at least 2 days you’ve greatly improved your chances for survival. After 2 weeks, radiation levels will be very low. Time, distance, and shielding are critical components of surviving any type of nuclear attack or accident. (Note: Radiological incidents using an RDD or dirty bomb would not be as devastating or deadly since they use low-level radiation. The blast would probably cause more injuries and panic then the radiation.)

  • If you’re trapped — If you get trapped or buried in rubble from an explosive device (or natural disaster for that matter), try not to panic. Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing to help filter the dust. Do NOT use a cigarette lighter for any reason since there could be gas leaks! Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you. (Yelling may cause you to inhale a lot of dust.)
  • Avoid crowds — During or after an incident stay away from large gatherings or crowds since they may be targets for subsequent attacks of one sort or another.

Again, this just barely scratches the surface on this topic, but doing some of these things could potentially help with your survival. We all should learn what to do during many types of disasters and emergencies and share the data with family members, especially our kids and grandkids. Knowledge is power. You may never need any of these steps or items listed here, but it never hurts to prepare for the unexpected.

Janet Liebsch, co-author of It’s a Disaster, contributed to this article.

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9 Reasons Why a Garbage Bag is the Best Emergency Shelter

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Okay, maybe a black trash bag isn’t the BEST possible emergency shelter, but a few bags kept in the trunk of your car or in a bug out bag could save your life, and here’s why. These trash bags are:

  1. Inexpensive
  2. Waterproof
  3. Lightweight
  4. Takes up little space
  5. Do not need special skills or tools to utilize as a shelter
  6. Takes a minute to “set up”
  7. No skill required
  8. Can by used by any age, level of fitness, etc.
  9. Versatile: Use a bright color of bag to be found or camouflage with black or brown

I’m not sure how the early settlers along the Oregon Trail or the western frontier got along without duct tape, WD-40, or trash bags, but life surely would have been easier with them! Trash bags, in particular, are included in all my survival kits. They have a multitude of uses, including being containers for picking up trash! But in an emergency, when correctly used, trash bags can prove a quick, temporary shelter from the elements.

I first noticed this trash bag shelter use at winter time football game years ago. The weather got really bad during the last half, with snow, rain, and wind. But one row of die-hard fans pulled out a roll of plastic trash bags, cut holes for their heads and arms, and weathered the storm. I don’t recall how the football team did!

Since then, I’ve taken shelter in trash bags on a variety of outdoor activities. Trash bags are particularly valuable on hunting trips, because a large bag gives you a place to lay meat while you’re butchering in addition to being an improvised shelter, if needed.

This 55-gallon trash can liner can provide a quick emergency shelter. (All photos by Peter Kummerfeldt)

Obviously, if you anticipate bad weather, be prepared for it, stay home or take along with you a lightweight, four season backpacking tent. But, c’mon, how many of you are going to lug around a tent on every outing? Most of us will carry it a time or two, and eventually, the tent will end up getting left at the trailhead. Then, one day, late in the afternoon, you’ll realize you’re lost or in a survival situation and will have to build some sort of shelter before it gets dark.

Reality shows to the contrary, you probably won’t be able to build a shelter out of natural materials, says survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt.

“I believe it is impossble for the survivor to build a waterproof, windproof shelter from natural materials,” Peter writes in Surviving a Wilderness Emergency.  “Shelters made from natural materials require time, natural resources, a cutting tool and a fully-functional survivor who has practiced building emergency shelters in the past! The survivor needs a waterproof, windproof shelter now!”

Large, heavy grade (3 or 4 mil) 55-gallon drum liners can make a good short term shelter. But don’t just crawl in and hunker down. Like any survival technique, you need to prepare and practice to use this shelter.

“Totally encapsulating yourself inside a plastic bag is not a good idea,” Peter advises. “Apart from the need for oxygen, the water vapor in the air you exhale, and your prespiration, will condense on the inner surfaces, and you will get quite wet.”

Include an insulated pad for sitting upon, because the plastic bag doesn’t have any insulation.

To avoid this problem, cut an opening in the closed end of the bag with your survival knife or the scissors  on your multi-tool  just large enough to allow you to pass your head through. The bag is then passed over your head until your face aligns with the hole and the moist air is exhaled outside.

To make the hole, Peter advises cutting the plastic at a 90-degree angle along a seam about five inches below one corner. The hole should be just big enough to pass your head through when you are getting too warm.

This shelter technique works very well. In the Boy Scout Troop I work with, we keep a roll of 45-gallon plastic bags from one of the local tire stores. Each scout takes one on hikes or campouts, in case they need to improvise a shelter, rain poncho or pack cover. The smaller bags are just the right size to cover the little guys from head to toe. Since they’re lightweight, it would be a very easy matter to tuck one inside your kid’s backpack, a school pack or otherwise. Be sure they know how to utilize the bag in an emergency.

Trash bags for shelters are easy to come by. Your local hardware store will probably have contractor-grade 45 and 55 gallon bags. You can also look in the storage area. I found 55-gallon, 3-mill bright yellow bags, designed to cover furniture  for long term storage, that will work quite well as shelters.

Color is another consideration. I prefer blaze orange or bright yellow to help rescuers find me. But if you want to avoid being found, just get the standard black color. Get in the shade of a tree, under a black bag and you will be pretty well camoflauged. A large white bag, also in the shade of a tree, will allow you to blend in well with snow.

I carry several tire bags, along with an orange 55-gallon heavy duty bag as part of my survival kit and my hunting gear. My orange bag already has a head hole cut. In a pinch, per Peter’s advice, I’ll stick my feet in a smaller bag, pull it up around my waist and pull the orange bag down over me. In the wilderness, a sudden rain or snowstorm can happen in an instant and this saves time so I don’t end up getting drenched while digging around for my trash bag, knife, and then preparing the shelter.

Also, as recommended by Peter, I always carry a piece of insulite foam for sitting upon. The plastic bag provides no insulation, and the cold ground will suck the heat right out of you. The padded, warm seat will make waiting to be found much more comfortable, and

Obviously, an emergency shelter is just that. It is designed  to be used in an emergency, and nobody ever claimed that a trash bag shelter is the best choice under any and all circumstances. But a trash bag is lightweight, will give you a waterproof shelter from nasty weather, and is compact and light enough to be taken anywhere. Remember this thought when you’re putting together a survival kit, bug-out bag or a set of wilderness or urban survival tools:

No piece of survival equipment is worth anything if you don’t have it with you!

Article contributed by Leon Pantemburg of Survival Common Sense.

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28 Spices & Seasonings to Avoid Food Fatigue

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spices and seasonings to storeWhat would it be like to eat bland food every day? Besides not being much fun, it could lead to slow starvation due to food fatigue. For those who are ill-prepared for a disaster, that could be their reality, especially if supplies were difficult to procure. If you think about what kind of spices and oils are important to have on hand for survival cooking, there are a few that would be on my ‘must have’ list.

Spices & seasonings to store

  1. Kosher salt (we also store Celtic sea salt)
  2. Herbes de Provence
  3. Ground Pepper
  4. Ground Cumin
  5. Ground Chili Powder
  6. Garlic Powder
  7. Ground Cinnamon
  8. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  9. Ground Ginger
  10. Thyme
  11. Baking Soda
  12. Italian seasoning
  13. Chili powder
  14. Paprika (different varieties if you really like paprika)
  15. Onion Powder
  16. Dried Parsley
  17. Ground Turmeric
  18. Dried Onion Flakes
  19. Dried Cilantro
  20. Celery Seed
  21. Celery Salt
  22. Beef bouillon
  23. Chicken bouillon
  24. Dried Basil
  25. Poppy Seed
  26. Sesame Seed
  27. Black pepper
  28. Curry powder

I also recommend storing these supplementary ingredients to add even more variety to your use of these spices:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil
  2. Canola oil
  3. Molasses
  4. Corn Starch
  5. Brown sugar
  6. Hoisin Sauce
  7. Balsamic vinegar
  8. White and apple cider vinegars
  9. Soy sauce

This is a wide variety of seasonings, spices, and herbs that lend themselves to mixing sauces, marinades, rubs, dressings, and so much more.

Create something new

With spices and seasonings, you can mix and match and come up with new flavors again and again. Chili powder on its own might become humdrum, but mixed with cumin, salt, garlic powder, paprika, a little cayenne, and you have an awesome, spicy rub. Experiement with chili powder and come up with something totally different, just by combining different herbs and spices.

Picture a plain pot of beans, a meatless meal if there ever was one. Those beans can become a pot of Cuban Beans, Creole Beans, Mexican Beans, West African beans…I could add more to the list, but you get the idea. Mix up the spices and you might barely notice you were eating beans for every meal!

Beans are a staple in most preppers food storage, so here are instructions for storing them. Another staple, rice, can be stored in a similar manner and also is extremely versatile. Here’s a recipe for skillet-cooked Mexican rice that can be doctored up with a different combination of spices every time.

Mix up your own

My wife used to buy envelopes of Schilling and McCormick spice mixes but a few years ago started mixing up her own. I’ve mixed up my own meat rubs, put them in labeled spice jars (we re-use spice jars), and they last for months. When my son needed a gluten-free diet, we got away from all commercial spice mixes, which typically contain gluten, sugar, and too much sodium.

Here’s a good article with spice/seasoning mix recipes if you haven’t made your own before.

Grow and dry your own

When we first got married, my wife had a herb garden that belonged on the cover of gardening magazines. Basil bushes so huge that we had to prune them back as though they were rose bushes. The cilantro alone could have supplied a chain of Mexican restaurants for 6 months.

Growing herbs is simple and dehydrating them is even easier. Right now we have oregano growing in a shady spot in the backyard where nothing else wants to grow. You can dehydrate herbs with a dehydrator like this one (Excalibur is the best brand) or simple by laying the herbs out on a screen and allowing them to dry until crispy.

These dried herbs will need to be stored in smaller containers and in the shade. Light and oxygen cause them to deteriorate and lose color and flavor.

 

Pricey spices

Remember centuries ago when spices were very, very expensive? So pricey that only royalty and nobles could afford spices? Even salt was dear and hard to get. Yes, spices can get expensive even today, but if you order in bulk and split the spices and shipping cost among spice-ordering friends, your wallet won’t hurt as much.

I’ve found that Amazon is a good place to look for spices. I’ve been able to buy my personal favorites in bulk and smaller packages of spices and seasonings I use just on occasion. They also have organic spices and herbs.

So, how is your pantry looking? Are you prepared? Or do you need to spice things up still?

 

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4 Secret Languages That Will Allow You to Communicate Anywhere

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My mom was an American Sign Language teacher while I was growing up, and learning how to sign and fingerspell was just a part of my childhood. Even today, it’s not unusual for Mom to start finger spelling and signing to me in public places. My wife and kids also know some sign language and we can all fingerspell.

It occurred to me that every family or close-knit group of friends should have at least one way to convey information and messages to each other secretly.

American Sign Language/Fingerspelling

American Sign Language has become very commonplace over the years. High schools and colleges accept it as a foreign language credit. It’s not quite the rarity that it was when I was growing up. Start signing to someone while sitting at a restaurant or in a store, and you may very well see at least one pair of eyes “eavesdropping”.

Now, my family mostly fingerspells. My young daughter is very nearly fluent in ASL but the rest of us, not so much. What we’ve developed over the years, though, are “secret” signs known only to us. For example, we have a sign that means, “I’m going to the restroom”, and we use it when we’re out in public. It’s super simple, doesn’t interrupt conversations, but I know where one of my kids has gone if I look around and don’t see them. Finger spelling is very, very easy, and this chart shows all the letters and numbers.

While ASL is definitely worth learning, it can also be a tool for anyone who just wants to invent family-only signs to convey important messages, such as:

  • Let’s go NOW!
  • Be careful.
  • Get away from that person/place.
  • I need to talk with you.

What other vital, survival type messages might you want to create signs for?

The easiest way to do this is to select one letter from this fingerspelling chart, and that sign conveys the whole message. Another option is to learn random, quick signs and then assign them to messages. For example, the sign for “question” is just bending the first finger up and down a couple of times. That sign could be assigned any message at all — “Are you okay?” or “Let’s leave.” The important concept is to choose a simple to remember sign or ASL letter that everyone can learn, assign it to a message, pratice, and then use it when you’re out and about.

This ASL dictionary could help you decide what signs to use.

Learning how to fingerspell is really easy. This video gives very clear instructions. Hint: Precise finger and hand positions will help you avoid “misspellings” and miscommunication.

Gregg Shorthand

Boy, you don’t see this around much anymore, but that is precisely why you should learn it! For many, many years, “taking shorthand” was commonplace in offices where one person would dictate a memo, note, or some other document while another person jotted it down, word for word, in shorthand. A really good stenographer can take dictation at well over 100 words per minute.

I lerned some shorthand from a retired teacher who taught it in high school in the 1960s and 70s. There are also videos on YouTube that teach the entire course, and it’s a brilliant way to leave written messages anywhere — on paper, on a dirty windshield, in dirt or sand, you name it.

This is what shorthand looks like, if you’ve never seen it before! (Born after 1980 or so, you probably haven’t.)

Again, if you’re concerned that others might recognize shorthand and then decipher your message, you can always create phrases that only you and your family know. It’s important to not only learn how to WRITE shorthand but READ it! For me, that was the hardest part, but when I got used to it, I could read it rather fluently. Here is a link to a pdf of a beginner’s handbook to learn shorthand.

By the way, aside from writing secret notes, or note in a family code, shorthand is awesome for students to learn in order to quickly take lecture notes.

This lesson gives some basic instruction for getting started but you may want to work with a well-organized lesson book like this one.

Learn an obscure language

At one time, if you wanted to learn a foreign language, you either had to sign up for a class or buy Rosetta Stone. Right now, I’m using an excellent online program, Mango Languages, to learn German and expand my Spanish vocabulary. My wife has been working on learning Hungarian, and her lessons gave me the idea of our family learning an obscure language that no one around us would ever recognize.

With this criteria in mind, Mango Languages offers online courses in:

  • Armenian
  • Bengali
  • Cherokee
  • Icelandic
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Tamil

There are many other languages on their list of 71 that would be great to use as a secret, family second language. There’s no need to become completely fluent, either. Just learn words and phrases that might come in handy in an emergency or the type of things you’d like to communicate in public but wouldn’t want others to overhear and understand.

Learning a foreign language together as a family or group would be fun and practical.

Mango also has a phone app that is great for practicing anywhere. Duo Lingo is another website and phone app that is helpful, but for solid instruction, Mango is by far the better.

Of course, if you want to go low-tech, there are outstanding language instruction series you can buy. I prefer being able to read AND hear when it comes to learning a language. I noticed that Audible has Armenian language lessons and they probably have other languages as well.

Spruce up on Morse code

I’ve been taking the Advanced Prepping Intensive with Preppers University, and one of the assigned DIY projects was to create a Morse code key and begin using it to practice the code. It’s likely that the only people alive who know and use Morse code are ham radio operators, and old-timers, at that. When the FCC dropped the requirement to learn Morse code as part of the ham radio license in 2007, I’m sure a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief! However, this code is a practical way to communicate when you’re visually separated from other people or just want to tap out a few words in code that will likely not be noticed, much less understood, by the people around you.

This would be a fun project, either as a family or as an individual. Learn Morse code and then communicate with each other using the code. The author of this page says you can learn it in one minute! I’m not so sure about that but, for sure, you’ll want to follow some type of organized lessons.

You’ll be able to tap messages with your fingertips, click messages by snapping your fingers, tap with a pencil. Visually, you can send messages with Morse code using a flashlight, laser, or signalling mirror, and, if you can touch someone, pass along messages by using finger pressure. There have been cases of miners communicating via Morse by tugging on a rope. It’s a versatile language to learn.

An official Morse code practice key runs around $45. My little DIY key looks something like the one in the video and was quite easy to construct. Either way, do work with a key in order to build muscle memory with this tactile language.

One last secret language, sort of

Our family jokes that our secret family code phrase is, “The black cat crows at dawn.” In reality, we have a handful of codes that are more versatile than a sentence. I have a certain phrase/nickname for my handgun, and my kids know that if they ever hear me use that nickname, they are to immediately pay attention and follow instructions.

We have another phrase, the name of a foreign candy, and, again, if I ever use that phrase in conversation or writing, as in an email or postcard, for example, they know something is going on and it’s vital to pay attention. It’s kind of like, “Alas, Babyon!” in the book, Alas, Babylon. (Well worth reading.)

I strongly encourage you to create some sort of secret language for your own family or group, preferably more than one. Work towards having coded messages that can be communicated visually, verbally, or audibly.

Is there another type of secret language you can suggest?

 

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25 Unusual Lessons From Long-Term Camping

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long term camping

If you’ve ever gone long term camping, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement, and then will have plenty more observations to add to this list. The more camping and outdoor skills you have, the better. Just a few days ago, I was contacted by a man who is now homeless and plans on living in his car as well as a tent, when the weather is conducive.

  1. Snails can CEMENT themselves to nearly anything, and often they will do it in the least expected places.
  2. You MUST make peace with the giant spiders. They eat mosquitoes.
  3. Raccoons have no respect for personal property. They can taste pretty good, though!
  4. If you fall asleep in in the open, don’t be surprised if you wake up with wildlife curled up with you or on you. Of course the wildlife could range from a squirrel to an ant swarm.
  5. Nothing shiny is ever safe in the open from raccoons.
  6. Armadillos like to lick plastic and exposed toes.
  7. Make peace with skunks or your life will stink (literally).
  8. Always look where you’re taking a squat (answering nature’s call) at least three times before going. You’re pretty vulnerable in that position, so you want to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises.
  9. Make sure you know what bull thistle looks like. Sharp thorns but, surprisingly, quite edible.
  10. Don’t allow people to throw cigarettes in the latrines, if that’s what you’re using.
  11. Cedar smoke may be hard to live with, but mosquitoes are much harder to deal with. Burning cedar bark is a natural insect repellent.
  12. Don’t camp by still waters. If you do, you’ll only do it once. (See #11 above.)
  13. Clear well the area where you put your tent. Rocks, briars, and twigs don’t disappear just because you put a tarp over them. If your camping is truly long term, weeks or longer, every bit of gear you have needs to be treated with care. You may not have the money or opportunity to get it replaced.
  14. Racoons will chew through things they cannot open easily. It’s easier to appease the raccoon than to keep buying new things.
  15. Given time, mice and rats can chew through things you might think were rodent proof. Be on the lookout for telltale signs of their chewing.
  16. Shake your clothes and shoes well before putting them on.
  17. Wet tobacco makes fire ant stings stop hurting.
  18. You may not react to the first, second or 100th fire ant bite, but someday you will and get huge welts from them. Chigger bites are almost as bad.
  19. Don’t camp anywhere near fire ants and know what their mounds look like. You’d be surprised by how many problems can be avoided just be carefully selecting your campsite.
  20. No matter how awesome that spot in a valley looks, and no matter how much your significant other likes it, don’t camp there. Water ALWAYS goes to the valley.
  21. Do not attempt to burn American literature books. It won’t work. However, over time you’ll develop survival hacks that DO work, or you can just buy a book like this one from expert Creek Stewart.
  22. Raccoons can chew through sterilite containers. (Yes, raccoons again.)
  23. You cannot protect your valuables from raccoons unless you half bury a box in the ground and set a small boulder over it.
  24. Dont piss off blue jays. They remember and have no inhibitions in attacking you.
  25. ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS check your shoes before putting them on.

What do you have to add?

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Why a Dutch Oven Should Be Part of Your Survival Kit

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If you’re one of those folks without power, heat, or warmth because of the recent snow storms, you probably know that you need a cooking tool that can bake, boil, fry and saute. It should also be able to function with a variety of heat sources, since you don’t know when the electricity might come back on.

My nomination for this wonder implement has been around for hundreds of years. It’s easy to find, cheap and effective. Go get a cast iron Dutch oven. This cooking tool has a proven track record, and it can use virtually any heat source.

Survival with the Dutch oven

Hurricane Katrina was due to hit land in a few hours, and my relatives in Mississippi, about 150 miles north of New Orleans, weren’t sure what was going to happen. I overheard my wife talking on the phone to her sister, Patti, of Clinton, Mississippi. In the middle of the hurricane preparation discussion, they started talking about recipes and what to cook, using a cast iron Dutch oven!

Everyone near Katrina faced a potential power outage that could last indefinitely. There was a discussion of evacuating, versus staying put. Among the urban survival necessities in any natural disaster is a way to cook and purify water by boiling, and a Dutch oven serves this purpose beautifully.

We had given Patti a hand-me-down cast iron camp oven with the lipped lid and three legs. Designed to be heated on top and bottom with campfire coals or charcoal, the camp oven was considered a necessity on the American frontier for at least two centuries. That type oven was taken on the Lewis and Clark expedition, was used by travelers on the Oregon trail, who surely used it to cook foods on this list. The oven was indispensable in countless cabins, lean-tos and soddies.

Firepans are a critical part of your Dutch oven survival kit. They allow you to cook on snow or damp ground without putting out the coals.

Technically, a “Dutch” oven has a rounded top and  no legs and can be used in a conventional oven on top of a stove, or on an outdoor propane fish cooker of grill. Here is an example of this style of oven.

Today, a camp oven is on my short list of tools for my disaster survival kit. And if you’re one of the people stranded at home because of the record snows, or are anticipating some sort of disaster, you need a Dutch oven, too.

A Dutch oven can be used to boil water, make a stew, bake bread, and cook virtually anything that can be fitted inside. And if you were forced to evacuate an area, a camp and/or Dutch oven is compact and light enough to be easily transported. My wife’s advice to her sister was to go to Walmart and get:

Put the oven, these items, and some basic cooking utensils in a square milk crate for storage, and you’re ready to bug out. If you have more than one Dutch oven (one to use for everyday cooking and another for camping/emergencies), this milk crate system is excellent. Just store it with your other camping/hunting/emergency supplies.

Must-haves for your Dutch oven survival kit

I’ve been cooking with Dutch ovens at hunting and fishing camps for decades, and on many camping trips and Boy Scout and Girl Scout outings. Beginners frequently ask for a list of tools to get started in Dutch oven cooking. So, here’s the basic, bare-bones list of Dutch oven survival kit necessities, proven over the years.

1 12-inch Lodge brand shallow cast iron oven

I like Lodge cast iron best because it is made in America and has a proven quality record, but that’s just personal preference. Other experienced Dutch oven cooks may use different brands, such as Camp Chef, so chose whatever you like. You’ll get what you pay for. A cheap, poorly-made oven won’t work particularly well, and you’ll probably end up replacing it with a quality piece. Sometimes, I take an aluminum oven on outdoor excursions instead of cast iron to save weight.

3 shallow metal pans with lipped rims

These are critical, and common dog food pans work very well. Put one pan underneath the oven to protect the coals from dampness and help regulate heat; and another pan is used to store coals. The third is a spare that is used to cover the oven and protect it from rain or snow while cooking. Here is an example of this type of bowl. See the video below to see how these pans are utilized.

1 Lid lifter

In a pinch, a pair of channel lock pliers will work. Don’t underestimate the weight of the Dutch oven filled with food or how hot it gets! A lid lifter gives you plenty of distance from the heat source when you want to check on your food or stir it.

1 Trivet or tripod

This is a wire or metal rack that holds the lid while you stir the contents of the oven or adjust seasonings. It keeps the lid out of the dirt and clean, and if you’re cooking outdoors, you may not have a nearby, heat-proof surface.

1 Knife

You probably don’t need a tactical or survival knife, (even though, in an emergency, any  knife you have is a “survival knife”), but you will need something that will work for food preparation.

1 Nylon spatula and nylon spoon

This is used for cooking, serving, and cleaning the oven.

Sources of heat and organizing your gear

Charcoal is easy to use, and generally, in good supply. But when the charcoal runs out, you can use firewood, driftwood, coal, wood scraps from a dumpster, etc. Shipping pallets, generally found about anywhere, burn quite well. If the pallets are made of hardwood, which many are, then you’ll get great coals! You can also prepare for disaster by integrating an outside heat source into your normal cooking routine. My propane fish cooker stays operational year-round on my patio because it is used constantly. Even when there is snow on the ground, we still go outside to fry bacon or cook fish.

If your plan is to use mostly charcoal briquettes with your outdoor cooking, a Chimney Starter will make life much, much easier for you. It heats up the briquettes super quickly so you have coals for cooking in no time.

This Lodge camp oven and propane fish cooker will work very well for cooking and boiling water, even when the power is out.

The lid lifter, trivet, “survival knife,” spatula and spoon all fit inside the oven. All these items fit into a nylon commercial Dutch oven holder. Another great way to carry everything is in a square milk crate. Put the metal pans on the bottom, and the oven won’t tip over. The loaded crate stacks nicely.

Cleaning a Dutch oven is easy. Take the spatula, scrape out any food residue, and fill it with water. (Never put cold water into a hot oven. It might cause it to crack.) Put the oven back on the coals, and boil the water. Usually this will be enough to clean the oven, and all that remains is to scrape out the softened food debris and wipe it dry. Rub the cast iron with a light film of oil to protect against rust.

Obviously, there are other “nice-to-have” cooking items that could be included, but this basic Dutch oven survival kit will get you by. Check out these Dutch oven no-fail recipes for getting started or even if you’re an experienced outdoor cooke!

For more information about Dutch ovens and cooking outdoors, contact:

The International Dutch Oven Society

Lodge Manufacturing

Camp Chef

by Leon Pantenburg of SurvivalCommonSense, and updated by Noah, 1/7/17. All photos by Leon Pantenburg.

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How to Prep For a Quarantine

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All too often, the world is shaken by a new flu bug or the resurgence of an old one. This article caught my eye, as it’s about a mutated version of avian flu H7N2 that was transmitted from a cat to a human, quite a rare occurrence. I also have a long enough memory to recall the Ebola panic just a couple of years ago and shaking my head at the incompetence and poor decision making by those in authority, including the CDC.

The history of Ebola, as detailed in this book, is helpful to know and understand how a deadly virus originates, mutates, and spreads.

With an eye on the future and knowing a little about how quickly certain viruses can spread, I have put into place a number of preps that would see my family through the duration of a widespread outbreak, similar to the ones described in Steve Konkoly’s The Jakarta Pandemic. I know Steve personally and the massive research he put into this book, although a novel, is spot on. Read it to learn even more strategies to keep your family safe.

So, if we can learn anything from past epidemics, we can fully expect to see many more viruses of every kind spread, to one degree or another. And, naturally, there will be even more cases of overwrought hysteria by the media and public officials. Another very concerning development where these viruses are concerned is the flood of immigrants from all parts of the earth whose health issues are unknown. Some carry highly contagious diseases, like tuberculosis, which have previously been very rare here in the U.S.

That said, imagine for just a moment that you and your family have been placed under an official quarantine lasting seven days, fourteen days, or even longer. No one goes to work, no one goes to school. You won’t be eating at restaurants, going to church, the bank, to the movies, or visiting friends. During a quarantine, you will be expected to be self-sufficient for everything except for your utilities.

How will you cope?

Prep now for a quarantine

Preparing for something like this is a good excuse to really get going with your prepping if you’ve slacked off or are pretty new to the idea. Basic prepping for anyone begins with food and water. If you haven’t yet started storing food, here’s a list of some basic foods to begin stocking up. One simple strategy is to begin buying extras of the groceries you use more often and do that each time you go grocery shopping.

If you’re the one who’s sick and possibly very contagious, you’ll need to have on hand a couple of week’s worth of things like canned soup, freeze dried meals, and other simple “open and serve” type meals. Make sure everyone in the family knows where this food is and how to prepare it.

Add essential non-edibles

In addition to food, you’ll need essential non-edibles that are a part of your daily life but also a few items more specific for dealing with a quarantine and pandemic. Those would include soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, black trash bags (the really heavy duty contractors bags), rubber gloves, N-95 face masks, medical quality disinfecting wipes, and medical disinfectant spray.

An official looking quarantine warning sign would be a good idea. Keep in mind, in a true epidemic or pandemic, you will want to quarantine, even if no one in your household is sick. Hunker down at home and let the virus run its course, far from you and your loved ones. A quarantine sign will be a reminder to outsiders that you’re aware of the health scare and are taking necessary precautions within your 4 walls. At the same time, if any potential intruders are casing your home, that sign could possibly scare them away if they believe the virus is alive and well inside your house.

Now would also be a good time to make sure you have a working thermometer or two, extra bottles of pain reliever, at least one humidifier, diarrheal medicines, and electrolyte drinks or dry mix as detailed in this article. If the virus is affecting the upper respiratory system, the humidifier becomes even more important, along with decongestants, many boxes of tissues (be sure they are immediately disposed of in something like this), lots of water for rehydration, possibly natural remedies you have found helpful (we use Boswellia tablets for coughs). The CDC has a helpful article that details complications from the flu — good to review, take notes, and plan to have on hand supplies to deal with this type of common virus.

Once the quarantine is in place, you will probably not be able to go to a drugstore or pharamacy. In that case, you need to make sure you have an adquate supply of prescription drugs. I’m thinking, in particular, of asthma inhalers, since a number of flu viruses focus on the upper respiratory system. This could be particularly dangerous to an asthmatic.

Depending on how severe the illness, you may need contractor-grade bags to hold refuse, biohazard bags, barf buckets, even gauze (or maxipads) to absorb blood. (Remember pictures of people with tuberculosis coughing up blood in old movies?) In the case of Ebola, the virus was found in bodily secretions of all kinds. That’s where rubber gloves, goggles, disposable Tyvex suits (not as expensive as most people think) and a biohazard clean up kit should be added to your supplies.

Most people don’t give much thought to the pathogens that could be present in vomit, saliva, urine, and feces. They’ll probably grab some paper towels and maybe a bottle of Clorox spray, but an actual biohazard spill, or clean up, kit provides most everything you need to clean up and then dispose of potentially dangerous substances. Speaking of disposal, adding biohazard disposal bags provides you with a safer option for disposal of used medical supplies and even clothing worn by the sick person.

Clothing, towels, and sheets used by the sick person will have to be quarantined away from those used by everyone else. Launder them separately and once the patient has recovered, throw them away. This is true of everything else used by the patient: cups, plates, silverware, etc.

Lest you think it impossible to deal with a deadly virus like Ebola within your home, a young Liberian woman did just that by using low-tech supplies to keep family members alive during the worst of the outbreak:

Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Fatu put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.
She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.
It was an arduous and time-consuming process, but Fatu was religious about it, never cutting corners.
You can read her entire story here. If a pandemic becomes so widespread that professional medical care is impossible to access, you can still do quite a lot with basic medical knowledge and the right supplies.

Maintaining sanity within your home

A quarantine will require that everyone stay home. If you have kids or grandkids, then you’ll want to make some plans now to keep them busy and entertained.

First, they should understand basic quarantine rules:

  1. Wash hands after every time they use the restroom.
  2. Immediately dispose of used tissues in a biohazard container.
  3. Stay away from the “sick room” without specific instructions from an adult.
  4. Know to wear protective clothing, including goggles and a face mask, around the sick person.

Very young children who tend to not always follow instructions may need to be kept behind a barricade, such as a kiddie gate.

Having the kids at home 24/7 may drive everyone batty, so it will be worth your while to tuck away a few books on CD, DVDs, books, and even school workbooks. Amazon carries the BrainQuest workbooks for various grades, and at over 300 pages each, surely they’ll keep kids busy for a long while. Also, have plenty of pencils and a good pencil sharpener handy. Puzzle books, board and card games, and indoor physical activity supplies (jump ropes, exercise videos, etc.) can help create a routine that, in turn, helps everyone stay sane. This article provides many more examples of how to set up a shelter-in-place routine.

Finally, if no one is working during the quarantine, it’s possible your income might suffer. Your mortgage company, landlord, and utilities must still be paid right on time, so do a little financial planning to be sure that money is set aside in case the worst does come to pass. As always, it pays to be prepared in more ways than one.

This 7 minute video from Dr. Bones gives more helpful tips for setting up a quarantined home:

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When the Economy Collapses, What is “Money”?

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It seems like every year there is talk of an imminent economic collapse. 2017 is no different. With the economic deck stacked against Trump, I don’t have much confidence that he, alone, can turn things around. After all, the national debt is completely out of control and has doubled in the past 8 years. Sooner or later, the piper must be paid and preppers who breathed a sigh of relief when Trump was elected, may want to think again, as I wrote about in this article.

So, with continued predictions of economic collapse, I asked Mac Slavo over at SHTFplan blog to share with my readers his insights into how a family might survive following a collapse of our money system.  Here is his answer, in his own words:

Economist Mike Shedlock defines money through the eyes of Austrian economist Murray N. Rothbard as, “a commodity used as a medium of exchange.”

“Like all commodities, it has an existing stock, it faces demands by people to buy and hold it. Like all commodities, its “price” in terms of other goods is determined by the interaction of its total supply, or stock, and the total demand by people to buy and hold it. People “buy” money by selling their goods and services for it, just as they “sell” money when they buy goods and services.”

What is money when the system collapses and the SHTF?

In disaster situations, the value of money as we know it now, changes, especially if we are dealing with a hyperinflationary collapse of the system’s core currency. This article discusses money as a commodity in an event where the traditional currency (US Dollar) is no longer valuable.

In a collapse of the system, there will be multiple phases, with the first phase being the “crunch”, as discussed in James Rawles’ book Patriots. The crunch is the period of time directly preceding a collapse and the collapse itself. Too often, preppers prep for “the crunch” and fail to realize they will have to be ready to survive for many months, if not years afterwards.

Traditional Currency

Initially, the traditional currency system will maintain some value, though it may be rapidly depreciating in buying power. For those with physical, non-precious metal denominated currency on hand (paper dollars, non-silver coins), spending it as rapidly as possible is the best approach. In Argentina during that country’s many economic collapses, if someone received a check in payment, the immediately rushed to cash it, knowing that it was losing its value minute by minute. This short Kindle document, written by a survivor of that time in Argentina’s history, details that event.

It is during the crunch that ATM machines around the country will run out of currency as people aware of the rapidly devaluing dollar will be attempting to withdraw as much money as possible. This immediate increase in money supply, coupled with the population’s general knowledge of the currency depreciation in progress, will lead to instant price increases for goods, especially essential goods.

And, forget the classic “run on banks” that have been depicted in old movies, including “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A modern day “run” simply won’t happen. Rather, the electronic system that moves money from a billion different points to another billion points will simply be turned off. In a split second, all access to funds will cease, and there will be no point running to a bank to get cash, since banks will be in lockdown mode and, in any case, they hold very little actual cash.

If your physical cash has not been converted into tangible assets, this would be the time to do so. Acquiring as much food, fuel, clothing and toiletry items as possible would be the ideal way to spend remaining cash before it completely collapses to zero, as it did in the Weimar inflation in 1930’s Germany or Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation in recent years. This family survival and prepping manual has in depth advice for preppers at all stages.

Precious Metals

During the initial phase of the ‘crunch’, precious metals will be a primary bartering tool, but this may not last long. The old survivalist adage, “You can’t eat your gold,” will become apparent very quickly. In a total breakdown of the system, food, water and fuel will be the most important tangible goods to acquire, and for beginners, this list of where to start with food storage is invaluable.

Consider someone who has a two-week or one-month supply of food on hand. Do you believe they would be willing to part with that food for some precious metals? The likely answer is no. There will be almost no bartering item that one would be willing to trade their food for once it is realized that food supply lines have been cut. At that point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when supplies, food and otherwise, will be replenished.

That being said, since most will not barter their food, not even for fuel, the next recognized medium of exchange by merchants, especially those selling fuel, will be precious metals. For the initial crunch, silver coins, especially recognizable coins like 90% silver quarters, dimes and half dollars, along with one ounce government mint issued silver coins, like US Silver Eagles, will be accepted by some, probably most, merchants. For those trying to flee cities to bug-out locations, silver coins of the aforementioned denominations may be a life saver, as they can be used to acquire fuel. While it’s recommended to have gold as well, the issue with gold is that its value is so much higher than that of silver. Breaking a one-ounce gold coin into ten pieces just to buy a tank of gas will not be practical. It is for this reason that having silver on hand is highly recommended. Packing at least $25 – $50 worth of silver coins in each bug-out bag would be a prudent prepping idea.

In a total SHTF scenario, silver and gold may eventually break down as a bartering unit, as contact with the, “outside” world breaks down. One reason for this, is that the fair value price of precious metals will be hard to determine, as it will be difficult to locate buyers for this commodity. As well, the vast majority of people will not have precious metals of any kind for barter, so other forms of currency will begin to appear.

This, however, does not mean that you should spend all of your precious metals right at the onset of a collapse. Precious metals will have value after bartering and trade is reestablished and once the system begins to stabilize. Once stabilization begins, the likely scenario is that precious metals will be one of the most valuable monetary units available, so having plenty may be quite a benefit. At this point, they could be used to purchase property, livestock, services, and labor.

Water as currency

Water is often overlooked as a medium of exchange, though it is one of the most essential commodities for survival on the planet.

For those bugging out of cities, it will be impractical to carry with them more than 5 – 10 gallons of water because of space limitations in their vehicles. Due to the weight of water, 8 lbs. per gallon, it’s very difficult to carry much if getting out on foot. Thus, having a method to procure water may not only save your life but also provide you with additional goods for which you can barter

An easy solution for providing yourself and others with clean water is to acquire a portable water filtration unit for your bug-out bag(s). While they are a bit costly, with a good unit such as the Katadyn Combi water filter running around $170, the water produced will be worth its weight in gold, almost literally. This particular filter produces 13,000 gallons of clean water! It’s a must-have for any survival kit.

Because we like reserves for our reserves, we’d also recommend acquiring water treatment tablets like the EPA approved Katadyn Micropur tabs. If your filter is lost or breaks for whatever reason, each tablet can filter 1 liter of water. In our opinion, it’s the best chemical water treatment available.

Clean water is money. In a bartering environment, especially before individuals have had time to establish water sources, this will be an extremely valuable medium of exchange and will have more buying power than even silver or gold on the individual bartering level.

Food as currency when SHTF

In a system collapse, food will be another of the core essential items that individuals will want to acquire. Survival Blog founder James Rawles suggests storing food for 1) personal use, 2) charity, and 3) bartering.

Dry goods, canned goods, and freeze dried foods can be used for bartering, but only if you have enought to feed yourself, family and friends. They should be bartered by expiration date, with those foods with the expiration dates farthest out being the last to be traded. You don’t know how long the crunch and recovery periods will last, so hold the foods with the longest expiration dates in your posession if you get to a point where you must trade.

Baby formula will also be a highly valued item in a SHTF scenario, so whether you have young children or not, it may not be a bad idea to stockpile a one or two weeks supply. (For parents of young children, this should be the absolute first thing you should be stockpiling!). In addition to water, baby formula may be one of the most precious of all monetary commodities.

Another tradeable food good would be non-hybrid produce seeds, but the need for these may not be apparent to most at the initial onset of a collapse, though having extra seeds in your bug-out location may come in handy later. If you currently have a productive garden, check out these instructions for creating your own mini seed banks for barter or sale.

Fuel as currency in a post-SHTF world

Fuel, including gas, diesel, propane and kerosene will all become barterable goods in a collapse, with gas being the primary of these energy monetary units during the crunch as individuals flee cities. For most, stockpiling large quantities will be impractical, so for those individuals who prepared, they may only have 20 – 50 gallons in their possession as they are leaving their homes. If you are near your final bug-out destination, and you must acquire food, water or firearms, fuel may be a good medium of exchange, especially for those that have extra food stuffs they are willing to trade.

Though we do not recommend expending your fuel, if you are left with no choice, then food, water and clothing may take precedence.

For those with the ability to do so, store fuel in underground tanks on your property for later use and trading, and this article provides vital instructions for storing fuel safely — a major consideration.

Firearms and Ammunition

Though firearms and ammunition may not be something you want to give up, those without them will be willing to trade some of their food, precious metals, fuel and water for personal security. If the system collapses, there will likely be pandemonium, and those without a way to protect themselves will be sitting ducks to thieves, predators, and gangs.

Even if you choose not to trade your firearms and ammo during the onset of a collapse, these items will be valuable later. As food supplies diminish, those without firearms will want to acquire them so they can hunt for food. Those with firearms may very well be running low on ammunition and will be willing to trade for any of the aforementioned items.

In James Rawles’ Patriots and William Forstchen’s One Second After, ammunition was the primary trading good during the recovery and stabilization periods, where it was traded for food, clothing, shoes, livestock, precious metals, and fuel.

Clothing and Footwear

We may take it for granted now because of the seemingly endless supply, but clothing and footwear items will be critical in both, the crunch and the phases after it. Having an extra pair of boots, a jacket, socks, underwear and sweaters can be an excellent way to acquire other essential items in a trade.

As children grow out of their clothes, rather than throwing them away, they will become barterable goods, and one possible way to earn an income during this time could be running a second hand clothing store.

It is recommended that those with children stock up on essential clothing items like socks, underwear and winter-wear that is sized a year or two ahead of your child’s age.

Additional Monetary Commodities

The above monetary units are essential goods that will be helpful for bartering in the initial phases of a collapse in the system. As the crunch wanes and recovery and stabilization begin to take over, other commodities will become tradeable goods.

Another important monetary commodity after the crunch will be trade skills. If you know how to fish, machine tools, hunt, sew, fix and operate radioes, fix cars, manufacture shoes, or grow food, you’ll have some very important skills during the recovery period. It costs very little, if anything, to acquire skills and survival knowledge, and, in the worst of times, those are things that cannot be taken from you.

Guest post by Mac Slavo from SHTFplan, updated by Noah, 1/2/17.

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11 Professions That Will Make You a Millionaire In a Post-SHTF World

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When I look at today’s young people, majoring in things like video game design and gender studies, I have to shake my head. Many expensive degrees today almost guarantee a life spent as a Starbucks barista. As well, in a post-SHTF world, those degrees will be worse than useless. The years spent in classes such as “Games and Culture”, “Gender and Representation of Asian Women” and “The Invention of French Theory”…oh, my. Those hours could have been so much better spent studying things that are real, meaningful, and have true significance in the world around us, as well as having practical applications that might be of some actual help.

But, I digress. In the future, as we see the value of our dollar decline, increased civil unrest (although that may provide occasional income opportunities for gender studies students), and a chaotic world, there are a few “professions”, if you will, that could reap huge benefits and income. Just to name a few:

Gunsmith — In a world where violence becomes more common place, armed defense and offense are going to become the hallmarks of a survivor. Want to protect yourself, your family, and your property? Then your firearms had better be in working order 100% of the time. In a future in which law enforcement agencies are disbanded or barely functional, a citizen’s firearm will be his or her own first line of defense. What better career for such a time, and a cool hobby for right now, than becoming a gunsmith? The NRA has information about the trade and suggestions for gunsmithing schools at this site. If you’re not able to attend a school, then a good manual or two, like this one for getting started and this one for learning advanced gunsmithing skills, and a set of basic gunsmithing tools can help you get started.

Midwife — As long as there are men and women who coexist anywhere near each other, there’s going to be a need for midwives and, actually, anyone with the skills to help birth a baby. In a real TEOTWAWKI scenario, life expectancy will decrease and the lives of a mother and newborn will become more precarious. Midwife training is available across the country, including community colleges. Even a single class to learn more than just the basics of childbirth could easily save lives, and if nothing else, a good midwife’s guide to pregnancy and birth is worth adding to your library.

Herbalist — As Obamacare has made the medical field a virtual landmine for medical professionals with onerous regulations of every type imaginable, many have left the field. Now, imagine trying to find a random physician for a major medical crisis when everything hits the fan. That’s when alternative medicine will truly come into its own. My family has experienced good results with certain herbal treatments — slippery elm lozenges for my daughter’s cough, for one. My wife takes Boswellia to help with a chronic cough during allergy season. It works nearly as well as an OTC drug like Delsym. I’m very aware that herbs can and do cause side effects, which is why becoming a trained herbalist would be a darn good profession in a SHTF world. Additionally, start growing medicinal herbs that help with common ailments, such as headaches, stomach aches, and to boost overall immunity. Right now, my family buys herbs in capsule form, and occasionally teas, but in the future, Amazon Prime won’t be there for that quick 2-day shipment, so one of my goals is to build up our backyard herb garden.

Beautician — Now, hear me out on this one! A few months ago, as a student in Preppers University, I had the chance to hear a Bosnian war survivor, Selco, talk about the realities of trying to live life on the front lines of a war. He was asked if, during that time period, the women still tried to look attractive. He chuckled and said, “Yeah, the women still did their best to look good.” Now, in my own personal, albeit somewhat limited experience, I’ve noticed that women always, always want to look their best. Before the birth of our second child, my wife found an attractive nightgown that would look good in photos and after he was born, she fluffed up her hair and put on some mascara. Crazy? Yes, but you can’t argue with the multi-billion dollar beauty business and chances are, no matter what happens, women will still want a haircut and, if possible, color and highlights. Men, too. (Some of them. Maybe.)

Forager — One other piece of information I picked up from Selco’s talk was the importance of foraging. In his town, one old woman knew how to find a few edible plants and was able to forage for them to provide food. Depending on where you live, start researching the edible plants in your area but be very careful with this. On some plants, the leaves may be edible while the roots are poisonous or, in other cases, the plant parts aren’t edible until cooked. Learn more about foraging in this book, one of the best and written by a local Texas foraging expert. Whatever you can forage can be either dried/dehydrated or canned to preserve it for longer term storage.

Seamstress — If you’ve ever traveled in very poor parts of the world, you undoubtedly noticed the well-worn clothing, to put it politely. Modern laundry facilities aren’t usually available, so clothing quickly becomes faded, tattered, and frayed. In such a world, what if you could alter clothing to different sizes or use old jeans to create a brand new pair. Not many have these skills anymore, and they would be worth learning. It’s also a good reason to stock up on sewing supplies like thread, needles, pins, fabric, bobbins, and a treadle sewing machine.

And now for the vices…

The vice businesses, think gambling, drugs, liquor, and prostitution, have always done well, regardless of economics. There will always be customers for these things and, sadly, as times and people get more desperate, those who make a living this way will thrive at the expense of those addicted to their products.

Obviously, I’m not recommending any of these professions, but it’s good to keep them in mind if and when you see society deteriorating. You’ll see an increase in the business of vice and, along with that, a rise in crimes of all types, including organized crime. Hey, with law enforcement scattered or out of the picture altogether, what else would you expect?

Gambling — People either hooked on the thrill of the roll of the dice or in dire need of just one lucky roll will provide plenty of customers for even primitive gambing establishments.

Drugs — Across the globe and throughout time, people have found ways to get high on one thing or another. Back when I lived in the Pacific islands, chewing on a betel nut gave a good buzz, if you were into that sort of thing. Mushrooms and plants of all kinds have been used to produce hallucinations, euphoria, excitement, and a host of less positive effects. This article explains that homemade heroin may become a reality. TEOTWAWKI absolutely will bring an increase in drug production and sales, along with more addicts.

Liquor — I suppose this may not be a vice, depending on which side of the aisle you sit, but I included it in the category because that’s where it has typically belonged. Back in the 30s, my wife’s hillbilly relatives had a front porch still, and as far as I know, they may still be producing homemade moonshine. However, home brewing has come a very long way since then, and if you know how to make a decent beer, wine, or some other alcoholic concoction, you could be set for life. Of course, historically, organized crime usually wants a piece of this type of action, so that life could be shorter than you might expect.

Prostitution — As a dad, this one bothers me a great deal. I’ve seen the devastating consequences of child prostitution in East Asia and human trafficking here in the United States. In a desperate world, one’s body becomes a form of currency and many families have sold their sons and daughters simply to stay alive a few more months. In many parts of the world, this isn’t a “lifestyle”, it’s survival. Knowing this, prepping and moving toward a self-reliant life becomes even more important. I never want one of my family members faced with no other option just to stay alive. In a SHTF world, you’d better believe pimps and prostitution rings will flourish.

Pornography — Yet another soul-stealing “profession”. I see no reason why it wouldn’t continue to thrive in a world with little law enforcement and individuals of all ages willing to risk anything in exchange for food, water, and shelter.

How will you earn a living post-TEOTWAWKI?

There are many skills and professions that will be in demand in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. I’ve listed just a few

 

 

 

 

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7 Reasons to Keep Prepping Because Donald Trump is President

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prepping-trump-presidentI well remember the election of 2008. It came at the beginning of the crash of the housing bubble, which affected my family business in a big way. With a President Obama on the horizon and the economy going down the tubes, I felt very uncertain about the future. So, my wife and I became preppers, and it was a smart move.

Now I’m hearing of prepper-minded folks who think they can relax their prepping because Donald Trump has been elected President.

Like Obama when he was elected, Trump doesn’t have much of a record when it comes to actual governing but he speaks with confidence about making America great again. I guess that’s enough to convince a lot of people that the “good old days” are here again and they can put away their bug out bags and freeze dried food.

Me? I’m not so sure, and I’ll keep prepping, thank you very much. I’ve given this some thought and here are the reasons my family and I will continue on as preppers.

  1. S finds a way of hitting the fan in our personal lives, no matter who the President is. Whether it’s a job loss, devastating family illness or injury, or a house fire, it pays to plan ahead and prep for those kinds of events. Not ready for these types of events, this is the best overall family prepping book I’ve read.
  2. Natural disasters and extreme weather events will continue to happen. Right now, the story in the news is wildfires, something this blog has covered in dept in articles like this one.
  3. There are world events that no President can prevent. This what concerns me the most. There are too many wild cards out there. Belligerent countries, such as Iran, have become stronger and more confident in their boldness toward the U.S., and I’m not so sure they’ll back down easily just because another man sits in the Oval Office. I can’t remember a time when the Middle East was so unstable. Right now, it’s a powder keg that, I believe, has been lit. It’s a matter of time, maybe just months, before we see the explosion.
  4. A massive financial crisis looms and Trump has inherited it, and there’s no way of knowing how he will manage the coming crash. Mind-boggling debt cannot continue piling up forever. I worry for the future of my kids and the huge tax burden they’ll assume when they become adults. There’s no way to avoid it.
  5. The world balance of power has changed since 2008. China and Russia have been flexing their muscles, looking to expand their influence and borders. China has actually built artificial islands in order to establish military buildings and airstrips. Sounds like they may have long-term, aggressive plans for the region. The balance of power that existed for so many decades has changed and the world stage is very unstable.
  6. America has radically changed since 2008. The country is more divided than I have ever seen in my 4 decades here on earth. Black Lives Matter isn’t going away any time soon but will continue to cherry pick events they can exploit for the purpose of stirring up rage. The country is racially divided, perhaps beyond reconciliation. Hordes of immigrants have overcome our education system and stretched the limits of our country’s social services. Nothing good can come of a nation that is so fractured within.
  7. It seems that Trump’s political foes aren’t going to accept and move on. I fully expected the riots that followed the election and there’s more to come. At some point, growing civil unrest will affect many of us in ways we can’t yet imagine. Also, it seems there is a movement to upend our political process with pressure to remove the electoral college system and change long-standing process and rules. Wherever there is instability, chaos is the result.

I’m very interested to watch the Trump Presidency unfold. In a way, it’s exciting to see someone in office who has never been a politician, a group of people I hold in complete contempt, as they do me, coincidentally.

There you have it. My 7 reasons for prepping in spite of Trump being elected. I’m not going to sit back and assume that with this new President all my worries for the future were for naught. If anything, the future is more precarious and dangerous than ever.

Your thoughts?

pc-iceberg

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8 Exit Plans Every Serious Prepper Should Have In Place

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exit plans preppersMatt Drudge created a bit of a stir a couple of years ago with this Tweet:

drudge-exit-plan

I’ve been a Drudge Report reader for over 20 years and have often said a prayer of thanks for Matt’s consistent dedication to exposing corruption. That Tweet, though, that has been stuck in my head ever since I saw it. “Have an exit plan…”

As a prepper, I suppose I have a number of exit plans. Some are quite thorough and have become reality with marked up maps and a few bug out bags. However, Matt’s warning has recently caused me to think twice about my preparedness. Is there only one type of “exit” — one that involves hitting the road, or should I be considering other types of exit plans for preppers?

After giving this some thought, I’ve come up with 7 exit plans that every serious prepper needs. Ultimately, the plan is to get out of the matrix by as large a margin as possible.

8 Exit Plans for Preppers

Physical location

This is the type of exit we preppers know all about — bug out locations, bug out vehicles, bug out bags, etc. Here you can read some best tips for selecting a bug out location.

There’s nothing wrong with planning for this type of exit, and hopefully, you have this fairly well covered, even if it’s just simply getting out of an unsafe neighborhood, an apartment complex that is going downhill, or moving from one area of a city to one further out along the edges of that city. They are are all examples of exit strategies. That remote cabin in Montana isn’t your only choice and for many, not advisable.

Your job

I’m not suggesting that everyone quit their job, but you definitely need to have an exit plan in place — other ways of earning an income. A economic collapse, EMP, massive civil unrest, war, and other devastating events could make it impossible for you to continue with your job. For most of us, no job equals no money. Earlier this year I made the effort to get a license so I could legally work, using skills from a previous trade. I believe everyone should have a backup when it comes to earning money, so get at least one in place (preferably more than one) should everything hit the fan and your job disappears.

Here’s a good combination of streams of income:

  1. A blue collar trade, such as plumbing, home construction, laying tile, carpet repair, electrical work, etc.
  2. Learn technical skills, such as coding, website or app design. Sites such as UpWork make it possible for freelancers in computer related skills to work for people all over the world.
  3. Working the land skills. By raising chickens, goats, and/or bees, you can earn an income selling eggs, milk, honey, and homemade cheese. If you have a growing garden, you can sell it at farmers markets. One urban homesteader we know raises goats and chickens and has a super-productive garden growing on her small city lot. She earns money by delivering what she grows to upper income families who want organic, locally grown produce.
  4. Whatever job you’re doing now.

If you maintain your current job and income and begin adding other skills, such as the ones I’ve listed, gradually, you may be able to wean yourself off that full-time job, if you want. If you stay with that job, at least you’re developing other income sources — that all-important exit plan.

Besides setting up another income source or two (more is always better), your exit plan could also involve saving money like crazy and having that as a safety net. Funds from retirement and investments and the sale of property might also allow you to exit a job.

Public schools

In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, your kids won’t be heading out the door to school every day. It will be up to you to homeschool them or join with other families and create a 21st century one room schoolhouse. It might be smart to stock up on school supplies when they’re really cheap (sales in August and September), textbooks (you can find them at used bookstores), books on Kindle (we have hundreds), and maybe even download instructional videos to teach advanced concepts in algebra, chemistry, and writing. The exit plan is either getting your kids out of the public school system now or having the supples to continue with their education if everything collapses. Just one more exit plans for preppers that makes sense.

Financial institutions

As I mentioned earlier, savings, retirement money, and investments can all allow you the option of exiting your job, but they also rely entirely on an electronic financial system. The safest way to exit this particular system is to simply not need it anymore.

This exit plan is the trickiest for nearly everyone. Since most of us now do banking online, receive our paychecks via direct deposit, pay our bills online, purchase just about everything with a debit/credit card, then how do you get out of this financial matrix?

It won’t be east, but do whatever is possible. If your employer only pays by direct deposit, then withdraw cash to pay bills and pay them in person. Go back to paying cash for as much as you can. You might want to cash out insurance policies, 501(k) accounts, and investments — taking the tax hit now and figuring that at least you have what’s left of the money. Use that money to buy tangibles, such as property for farming, developing a homestead, food storage, a water catchment system, etc. Not only will this step help you step away from the financial system, but you’ll be developing a more self-reliant lifestyle at the same time.

A severe financial crisis here in the U.S. could usher in capital controls, the government skimming money directly from your account, or certain accounts being frozen. In an economic collapse, your money will disappear overnight, anyway, so you might as well be thinking of what you can do now to preserve the wealth you have.

I’m not a financial advisor — I’m just mentioning this as a possible way to exit financial institutions.

The power grid

I’m convinced that sooner or later, our power grid will falter and fail. Hopefully, that outage wil last for just a few weeks, but between frequent occurrences of sabotage, the ability of multiple nations able to take out our grid via hacking and cyberterrorism, and coronal mass ejections, I’m kind of surprised that we still have a grid!

What ties you to the power grid? Keep track of things like how often you wash dishes, do the laundry, watch TV, listen to music, charge batteries — everything both large and small that requires electricity. Then, take steps to reduce that dependence. You won’t be able to disconnect entirely, but if/when the grid goes down and you have less reliance on it, the better you’ll be able to survive. It’s just one more exit strategy and can be done no matter where you live.

Electronics that can snoop on you

A few weeks ago on one of my job sites, I noticed that the high-tech programmers all had pieces of masking tape over the webcams on their laptop computers. What do they know that you and I don’t? They know how easy it is for some outside entity to watch YOU via the very convenient spyglass you have on your laptop computer. If you have a webcam connected to your desktop computer, it’s vulnerable, too.

I rely on my iPhone for work and, as part of my job, I have no choice but to use it, but I’ve been thinking of how I can exit the electronic matrix and take steps to protect my privacy and that of my family. On Facebook, I’m not even there, except to occasionally post an article on the Preparedness Advice page. I avoid all social media otherwise. I’m careful about my email addresses and my wife recently set up a secure email account for our family at Unseen.is.

I’m not sure it’s possible to disappear from the internet altogether, but you could always try these extreme ideas if you’re interested. At the very least, you’ll make it more difficult for anyone to track you down or harass you via the internet. This is one exit you should begin putting into place now.

Food supply

Government agencies regularly make decisions based on money and politics, not what is truly in the best interest of American citizens. This often happens with food. You’ve probably heard of the USDA’s insane decision to allow American-raised chickens to be shipped to China and then back here to sell to consumers. Then there was the time the FDA ruled that walnut producers couldn’t make the true and verified claim that their product has certain health benefits.

These same government people look the other way, though, when food producing corporations deceive the public. For example, high fructose corn syrup is now labeled by some companies as “isolated fructose,” in a blatant attempt to fool health conscious consumers — but God forbid that a suburban mom in Colorado purchases a gallon of raw milk. The purchase of marijuana — no problem, but raw milk? Nope. (You can check out your state’s raw milk laws here.)

Most grocery store foods are loaded with dozens of unhealthy ingredients, our population is fatter than ever, in spite of the half-hearted efforts by our government to guilt us into losing weight. It’s almost as if the government WANTS us fat and unehealthy. After all, that same government has, over the years, issued all manner of food “information” that has done absolutely nothing to make us healthier and in many ways, made us fatter and far less healthy than our grandparents.

Fortunately, we can begin to exit this particular matrix by growing as much food as we can, buying meat, eggs, and produce from local farmers, and stocking up on food storage items that are healthy, such as those sold by Thrive Life. Read the labels of the foods that are sitting on your kitchen shelves, and you’ll see what I mean. This is one exit you MUST make for your kid’s and grandkid’s sakes.

Exit the healthcare matrix

Do you have health issues? What can you do to exit our country’s healthcare mess? It’s become too expensive for most of us to afford the “insurance”, much less high deductibles, and cover fees we still have to pay for copays and drugs.

Learn about herbal healthcare. Sam Coffman in San Antonio runs an excellent herbalism course. Learn from someone like him and begin to minimize your dependence on our healthcare system.

Essential oils aren’t just for the ladies. When we diffuse lavender oil at night, I sleep more soundly than I would with an Ambien, and one oil blend, Raven, helps my breathing during allergy season. When my daughter burned her wrist with hot cooking oil, it was lavender oil that helped it heal quickly and with only the tiniest scar. Many essential oils have been proven in lab tests to be effective. There are dozens of brands out there, but we ususually buy Young Living, Sparks Naturals, and I just learned about Rocky Mountain Oils, which we’ll be trying.

Increase your own medical knowledge. Take a first aid class, know CPR, take wilderness first aid. Sign up for an EMT class at a community college. The more training you have in this area, the better off you and your loved ones will be. I have a handful of medical books written for preppers and rely on them — The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, is extremely helpful and written for the non-medical layperson.

Even more exit plans for preppers

Think about the bills you pay each month and which ones can be eliminated or greatly decreased. This isn’t just about saving money but by becoming more independent. The water bill you pay each month represents total dependence on another entity for your water. Instead, can you set up a rain catchment system and bury a couple of large water tanks in your backyard? Less reliance in a single step.

What about gift-giving season? Rather than pour money into “the system”, get out of the retail matrix and begin crafting your own gifts — handmade knives, homemade soap, honey from your own bees, jars of canned produce, homeade jams, jellies and your homemade hot sauce, metal work, etc. The retail world is designed to suck you in and then drain you of your money. It’s a pretty easy world to exit, though, if you avoid malls.

What other exit strategies can you think of?

Thanks to Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, for her assistance in writing this article.

 

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A Simple Way to Protect Your Child’s Second Amendment Rights

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protect-childs-second-amendment-rightsAfter reading Howard’s article about the new gun control laws in California, it struck me how the left never really gives up on any of their goals, no matter how unpopular they might be with the majority of the population. Gun control is a prime example. In spite of liberal politicians claiming they won’t touch our guns, these recent examples show that to be a lie.

Even if the citizens of California vote to overturn those laws, there is surely other restrictive legislation waiting in the wings. I’m convinced the legislation and regulations are written in advance by far-left activists, are filed somewhere handy, and then dragged out whenever the political climate might allow them to become reality. Of course, a liberal judge is always right there, ready to wield his or her power in support.

The fact that there are hundreds of millions of both firearms and firearm owners is immaterial. Enemies of the 2nd Amendment can and will come after our Constitutional rights from every conceivable angle. They’ve been doing that for decades. While we stand firm on the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution, they are chipping away at the foundation with fervor and focus.

This has lead me to wonder if my kids will be able to buy firearms when they reach adulthood. This California law, in particular, worries me:

Assembly Bill 1135 and Senate Bill 880 would make changes of monumental scale to California’s firearm laws by reclassifying hundreds of thousands of legally owned semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons.”  This legislation effectively outlaws magazine locking devices, more commonly known as “bullet buttons”.  As of January 2017, all AR-type of firearms and even some hunting rifles will no longer be legally sold in the state. There is still a lot of confusion about the law. Depending on the way it is interpreted, it may even cover M1 carbines.

If you register your gun as an assault weapon, there are draconian limitations on how you own and transport the gun. You can never sell, give, lend, or trade an assault weapon to another person. Nor can you hand down an “assault weapon” to your spouse, children, or grandchildren. Upon your death, it is turned over to the state for destruction. If you move out of the state, you cannot move back into the state with your guns.

This law focuses on the “assault weapon”, but what’s to stop other categories of firearms from being included in similar laws down the road? I can easily envision a future in which the purchase of firearms and ammunition become so onerous that few will make the attempt. As well, if simply giving firearms to our children becomes outlawed, then the 2nd Amendment dies by the time they come of age.

So what can we do now to insure that our children and grandchildren have access to firearms in the future?

First, we need to make sure the next generations fully understand the importance of the 2nd Amendment and why it was included in our Bill of Rights. In fact, a good education in our Constitution and Bill of Rights is vital. If you’re looking for a good book to use with your kids or grandkids at home, this one is highly recommended.

One of my life mottos is, “There’s always a work around.” In the case of these draconian laws, with more on their way, it might be very wise to begin equipping our kids with a selection of firearms and gifting them now, rather than wait until additional laws are passed which would outlaw that simple gesture.

Most of us would probably agree that the following firearms are the basics:

  • .22 rifle
  • 12-gauge shotgun
  • Pistol of a common caliber (9mm, .40, .380, etc.)
  • Revolver of a common caliber
  • AR15 Et al.

We can quibble over specifics, but overall, this is a decent selection, along with plenty of accompanying ammunition. If you’re concerned that your children and grandchildren may not have the chance to purchase firearms, why not begin making those purchases now? Private sales if at all possible, of course.

The firearms could be locked away until the kids come of age, but they would be there, nevertheless. Think of it as a sort of 2nd Amendment Hope Chest.

This solution isn’t for everyone and may not be your cup of tea, but our 2nd Amendment rights are under fire every single day and in every way. Liberals/progressives will never, ever stop. Yes, I know how many gun owners are in the U.S. and how many guns are out there, but laws such as these recently passed in California show the very creative, imaginative ways our rights can be limited and, eventually, extinguished.

If you agree with me, how would you put this plan of action into place, and if you disagree, explain why. I welcome your comments and opinions.

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Surviving a Super-Typhoon

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Surviving a Super-Typhoon

As part of my somewhat colorful past, I have the dubious distinction to have lived through at least 2 dozen typhoons. Sounds impossible, right? Well, when you spend more than a decade in the area of Micronesia, typhoons happen. A lot.

These massive storms, called hurricanes everywhere else but in the Pacific, rip through the islands, bringing devastation and, sometimes, irreversible damage. In my part of the world, they happened so frequently, we became a little too nonchalant at times.

When news of an oncoming typhoon hit the airwaves, we only had a few preps to put in place. Because of frequent power outages, as well as earthquakes, having a few shelves of canned goods wasn’t prepping. It was just a way of life. Nobody used electricity to cook, ever. Instead, we all used propane stoves on a daily basis, and a lot of families used hibachis, barbecue pits (55 gallon metal drums cut in half), or grills.

So, when a storm was approaching, we had the food we needed, as well as a way to heat the food and purify water, if necessary. When I was a lot younger, buying bottled water wasn’t a thing, so we filled up all our bathtubs with water. Consequently, we didn’t bathe much in the storm’s aftermath!

We were on an island, so when the power went out, there just wasn’t anything much blacker than being in the middle of the Pacific, without even a single lightbulb. Most families used kerosene lanterns, which I highly recommend you stock up on, candles (although my parents worried about dripping wax and unprotected flames), and we only used battery-powered lights for real emergencies. A couple of gallons of kerosene lasts for weeks, but batteries can run out quickly if you’re relying on them to power your light sources.

I can’t over-emphasize the importance of having forms of entertainment, like board games, to keep everyone occupied. My sister would read books, but reading books by kerosene lantern wasn’t my idea of fun. Who needs that kind of eye-strain?

Washing clothes was about ten times more difficult than you can imagine, unless youve done it yourself without any form of power. My mom did it but sometimes she would conscript me into service. I would have to wring clothes by hand, very difficult!, and then hang them up to dry. In our humid climate, it took a very long time for them to thoroughly dry. On one island, the washaterias would have their own generators, so we would wash our clothes there and then bring them home to dry on clotheslines.

We were fortunate to live right near the grid the hospital was tied to, so we usually got our power and water before most other people.

During the days following a typhoon, school would be out, and this could last from a few days to several weeks. If the running water was affected, there was no school until it was restored. My mom was a schoolteacher, so she would invent school assignments for us to do. I guess nowadays with homeschooling being so popular, it’s a lot easier to find textbooks and school supplies of all kinds.

Everybody on the islands owned at least one machete, and this was the primary tool for clean up following a typhoon. Those machetes were everything from military surplus to cane machetes. These islands didn’t have huge trees, so the clean up involved mostly cutting up branches and clearing debris. No one waited for the government to come and clean up. They did it themselves, including the clearing of roads.

I guess there are a lot of prepping lessons here that go beyond surviving a super-typhoon.

  1. Spam is your friend. I love Spam to this day.
  2. Canned goods may not be the most healthy food, but they’re a survival/emergency necessity. Eating Dinty Moore stew from the can isn’t all that bad.
  3. Water, water, water. Living without running water is far more difficult than doing without electricity.
  4. Additional water sources can be priceless. We regularly took our baths in the ocean.
  5. Don’t rely on batteries in a long-term survival scenario. Take a look at other sources of light that rely on different fuels.
  6. Nowadays, I’d stock up on solar powered lights, in particular.
  7. Plan to deal with insects, maybe more than you’ve ever encountered. Mosquitoes became a big issue in the days and weeks following a typhoon. We stocked up on mosquito coils.
  8. Adjust your mindset that you’ll eat and drink food and water at room temperature, or warmer.

Living through and then surviving the aftermath of a super-typhoon is much like any TEOTWAWKI event. Our lives just stopped for days or weeks, while we dealt with this new reality. I expect a future worst case scenario will be very similar.

 

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OPSEC: It’s Not Just About Loose Lips

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OPSEC-I’ve always been a little on the paranoid side. It started when I began working for the military back when I was almost 19. There was a lot of reconnaissance/intelligence work being done on the Naval Air Station, and I had opportunities to interact with Navy SEALS, cryptographers, intelligence specialists, naval aviators — but there was a heavy recon presence there. What they said they did and what they really did weren’t always the same.

Being in this environment for almost 6 years rubbed off on me.

Sometimes, I would get a call late at night to open up the facility where I worked. My instructions were to open the door, let people in, and then keep my mouth shut about who was coming and going. I was naturally reticent, so this was easy to do. I also learned to keep my mouth shut about an awful lot of things and this worked its way into my everyday life years later.

If this intrigues you, you may want to read an official Air Force manual outlining their basic OpSec practices.

What I learned about OpSec from these experiences is that:

  1. It’s not enough to just tell people to be quiet. What other people actually can see becomes part of the issue. If they can see it, they can talk about it.
  2. This is a biggie. It’s not so much who you tell, it’s who THEY tell. My father-in-law is a great man. He’s kind, generous, and he loves to talk. Every morning he gets together with a group of old men at the McDonald’s near his house. They talk about all kinds of things. Gossip about their families, and, naturally, pass along any interesting tidbits they’ve heard. I’ve always known that whatever he knows could easily be spread among this group of men and, in turn, they’ll almost certainly spread the word on down the line.
  3. You may confide in someone you totally trust but they may confide that information to someone else not as trustworthy or someone who is unscrupulous.
  4. Be aware of who’s around you, even if they’re just passing by. Keep an eye out for behaviors that indicate someone didn’t just coincidentally pause near you while you’re talking on the phone or pulling out a credit card.
  5. Cell phones are notorious for causing people to give out personal information, including things like PIN numbers, addresses, or travel plans as though no one can hear.
  6. I never throw away anything with personal information, even if that information is benign. I shred things like junk mail, just to mix it up with other mail and documents that I want to keep out of the wrong hands.

Bottom line, stop being so trusting. When it comes to prepping, no one needs to know specifics, including people in your survival or prepping group, if you have one. The other day, my verbose boss, Ronald, said to me, “After 3 years, I still don’t know you, do I?”

I purposely smiled slightly, to add to my mystique, but he’s right. He’s a talker. I’m a listener. OpSec is easiest for us listeners. If you can train yourself to listen at least twice as much as you talk, not only will that benefit you but you’ll gain the trust of those around you. Just my two cents.

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Human Nature: The most dangerous survival lesson of all

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Human Nature- Dangerous LessonI grew up and spent a good deal of time with petty criminals, a handful of whom had a dangerous human nature. Maybe that doesn’t say much for me, or maybe it does, because it quickly hit home with me that I preferred being a law-abiding citizen rather than a law-breaker. For any number of reasons, the law enforcement career I had planned on just didn’t happen, but over the years, I’ve spent more time learning about and observing criminals than most civilians.

It’s been eye-opening, to say the least. As a psychology major, I was able to learn even more about how the criminal mind works, as explained in this excellent book by a former FBI profiler.

The other day, my wife mentioned a Facebook article she had read and said it had really hit home what we could be facing as the fabric of our society continues to break down. The author, Greg Ellifritz, is a veteran police officer and tactical trainer for his central Ohio agency. He knows more than a thing or two about the criminal mind. He writes:

Our thief today is homeless. He’s 32 years old and overweight. He’s a regular consumer of crack cocaine. He has no job and no place to live. He sometimes stays at friends’ apartments, but his permanent address is a local homeless shelter. The sum total of his possessions consisted of a change of clothes, a broken phone, and less than $4 cash.

When I asked the man why he stole the bike, his comment was enlightening:

“I took it because I have the chance to stay at my friend’s place tonight instead of the shelter. My friend lives in (the next town over) and it would be about a four hour walk to get there. It rained all day yesterday and it looks like it’s going to rain some more today. I just didn’t want to spend four hours walking in the fucking rain and getting soaking wet again. I figured a bike would be faster.”

He continued by saying: “I knew it was wrong to steal the bike, but I just don’t care. I didn’t want to get wet no more. I saw an opportunity and I took it. I’d do the same thing all over again if I got the chance. Biking is just faster than walking.”

A petty crime, important to no one, really, except the owner of the bicycle. The point that Greg is trying to hit home, though, is how criminals never give a thought to the person whose life is affected by their actions. If they see something they want and you own it, you become just an obstacle in their way. They may violently push you aside, if you’re lucky, or kill you. What they want at that moment is more importat than your life will ever be, to them.

Greg goes on to explain:

This is what most folks don’t understand about serious criminals. The fact that the victim of the crime would be affected in a negative manner is not even an afterthought. Your feelings and concerns mean absolutely NOTHING to the criminal. He doesn’t care if you live or die, let alone how “inconvenienced” you will be if he takes all of your stuff or beats you within an inch of your life. If you literally had ZERO concern about the well being of your neighbors and fellow humans, what kind of atrocities would you be capable of committing? That’s something that few people consider.

Unfortunately, the majority of the hard core criminals I encounter feel the same way. You are literally nothing more than an obstacle they must overcome to achieve their goal. Most of the serious criminals out there think you and I are merely pawns on the chessboard of life. They will destroy everything you know and love if it means that they will benefit in the wake of the destruction. You are completely expendable in their eyes.

Recognize that. Recognize also that we aren’t going to be able to “fix” many of these criminals. They are out there among us every day and can’t be avoided.

This worries me when I consider TEOTWAWKI type scenarios, because during those days, months, or perhaps years, there may be no law enforcement at all. Some people like to use the acronym WROL, Without Rule of Law, to describe such a world. Those who have criminal impulses, maybe even instincts, but have been held back because they fear arrest and prison, won’t have those restraints anymore.

Today we mostly have to worry about a relatively small number of criminals, some petty, some hardened. We can add a security system to our homes, be constantly aware of our surroundings, teach our kids situational awareness and self-defense — but what if, someday in the not too distant future, ordinary Americans join these ranks because their families are starving, and they have lost absolutely everything? Might you become expendable in their eyes?

This is a depressing scenario to think about, much less discuss, because most of us want to believe that during hard times, like the Great Depression, most people will rise to the occasion and nobly help their fellow man. One of my favorite books about that era tells real life stories of a people who gave selflessly, were optimistic, and banded together to endure har times.

Based on current trends, I don’t think we live in that country anymore, except for specific, isolated areas. Even a greater level of danger when you consider who has crossed into America — members of ISIS? Members of the most violent gangs in South America? Hardened drug criminals from Mexico? No one really knows.

Greg did provide a very small ray of hope with a few suggestions for avoiding becoming a victim to criminals of all types:

  1. Harden anything the criminal might target. Put a fence around it, post a home security system sign, do anything to cause a criminal to think that the risk isn’t worth it.
  2. Make all targets appear undesirable. Maybe having the fanciest looking house in the neighborhood wasn’t such a good idea. When we bought our current house, what I liked about it was that it’s a one-story, surrounded by very nice looking two-story houses. It’s set back from the road a way and is painted in muted colors. That doesn’t mean we’ll never be targeted, but honestly, from the outside, we sure don’t look all that attractive to thieves.
  3. At a personal level, make yourself look undesirable as a target. Make eye contact. Walk with a strong, confident stride. NO electronics when you’re out in public. No flashy jewelry or expensive looking clothes. Getting killed for a pair of expensive Nikes just isn’t worth it.

We need to teach our kids these practices as well. I have one kid who has been a “gray man” since she hit 8 or 9 years of age and another one who loves the flashy lifestyle and impressing people with cool clothes and electronics. We use stories in the news and that we hear about from other families to gently explain to our kids how to avoid becoming a victim. I’ve also used the example I read a while back in this article to teach my kids to identify potential predators.

Above all, acknowledge that evil exists. I don’t worry too much about hurting someone’s feeling by recognizing what they do is evil and some people are just evil to the core. It’s normalcy bias, as explained in this article, that tries to convince us a certain person, group, or event is just fine in spite of our gut saying that it’s not.

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Reading About Prepping Isn’t Enough

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ad-500x500Over the years as a prepper, I’ve noticed the huge increase in INFORMATION. It’s everywhere. Blogs, forums, websites, products, books upon books, and even scams. Preppers have never had more INFORMATION, and yet, preppers have also never had a more confusing maze to wander through.

Freeze dried food? Dehydrated? Is canned food okay, but what if the ‘Best by’ date has expired? What about nutrients, calories, and servings?

Which water filter? There are so many and comparing microns and the number of gallons a filter can process — which one is best?

Then there’s the rule of back-ups. You should always have a back-up to your back-ups, but where does that end? A person could become a hoarder just by adding back-ups to their bacck-ups to their back-ups!

So, this summer when I had a chance to attend a few webinars with the new Preppers University and check out their Prepping Intensive course, I thought, “This is the missing piece!” We preppers have more than enough information to be ready for a full-blown nuclear war, but how many of us have actually followed through, day after day? For some, it’s been a lifestyle, ingrained since childhood, but for most of us, we’re new to the prepping mindset.

In my case, I admit that i get sidetracked by work, projects to do around the house, helping my wife with the kids and their activities — you name it. Weeks can go by without me consciously doing much prepping. Thank goodness my wife usually stays on track with food storage and keeping our bug out bags and gear up to date.

Enter the 10-week Prepping Intensive. Reading through the course outline, pretty much everything is covered:

  • Water and Sanitation
  • Food Storage
  • Power Outage Readiness — Dr. Arthur T. Bradley is a guest speaker. Pretty impressive.
  • Natural Disasters
  • Survival Away From Home
  • Health & Fitness
  • Setting Up a Survival Retreat
  • Worst Case Scenarios

There’s even a week where students are given their choice of several drills to run through. The one I picked was “No water for 24 hours”. Having a week of drills about halfway through the course seemed pretty smart to me — you can check on your progress and know what still needs to be done.

In the students-only area, I read through weekly To Do lists, the Weekly Challenges, a few of the assessments students fill out, and then saw the schedule of webinars — at least 2 each week. I know there’s a lot more that I haven’t included here, but this website will give you the complete overview.

The course isn’t cheap. It’s priced at $169 for the 10 weeks, but when I saw how I could actually talk with people like Dr. Bradley or someone like Selco, who writes about his experiences during the Bosnian war, or FerFAL who talks about living through Argentina’s various economic collapses — I’m not sure how to put a price tag on that.

Lisa Bedford, who has helped me here at Preparedness Advice, is The Survival Mom and is one of the founders of Preppers University, along with Daisy Luther. Daisy has written the book about water for preppers and she has 2 websites: DaisyLuther.com and TheOrganicPrepper. Both these ladies also teach some of the webinars.

Lisa and Daisy gave me a coupon code good for $20 off the registration fee. If you take a look at the course and decide to go for it, use code FANDF20 for the discount. I’m not an affiliate with them — I’m just passing along this code.

This is something new in the world of prepping and maybe some people won’t want the restrictions of weekly assignments or the accountability of being part of a group, but to me, this really is what a lot of preppers have been needing.

 

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You’re Right to Fear Government Interference During Emergencies

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Government During EmergenciesI’ve been watching the recent flooding in Louisiana and the response to those in need. Churches in my area have loaded up trucks and trailers and have coordinated with Louisiana churches to provide assistance. No requirement of church membership, proof of tithing, approval of lifestyle, racial quotas — none of that. It’s just, “You need some diapers for your baby? Here they are.”

That’s how charity is supposed to work. You learn about someone in need and then you find a way to meet that need. The founder of Salvation Army knew this and founded the organization on those principles. You can read his fascinating life story in this book.

“…Freely you have received. Freely give.” Matthew 10:8

So now I read an article about how the Red Cross has been operating in Louisiana, and it reeks of government interference with what most charitable-minded people would like to do. Here’s one example from Nancy Malone, an American Red Cross spokesperson regarding giving food/meals to displaced people:

“We are held accountable to state regulations. This food has to come from a certified kitchen.”

Volunteers were turned away if they hadn’t gone through Red Cross channels. In one case, a woman volunteered to come in and clean bathrooms and toilets but was turned away. Bureaucracy at its finest. In another instance, volunteers put up their own shelter but Red Cross took it over when they finally arrived in town. The goods handed out by Red Cross can only come from their approved suppliers.

Really?

In a crisis, whether a natural disaster that dislaces you from your home, war, or TEOTWAWKI, this is exactly how you will be treated by government so-called assistance. Red tape, bureaucrats, nonsensical rules that deny help because of more nonsensical rules. Nothing will come easy. The process will favor a few. Your needs will be met only on occasion and by pure coincidence.

Now, maybe you’re the type who likes to follow every rule even though it flies in the face of common sense. There are plenty of those sheep everywhere. I’m not cut from that cloth, though, and I would bet most preppers aren’t. We want to provide our own meals, our own shelter, our own water, and on and on. Hopefully, we have enough to share and when we do, or can, we want it to be on our own terms — not confiscated from us by officials who think they know better.

One of the results from large bureaucracies/government taking over charitable giving is that it removes that charitable instinct. Why should I donate or volunteer? FEMA will be along to help. The Red Cross will show up any day now. Without realizing it, we defer to faceless bureaucrats what we are naturally wired to do — help our fellow man.

The best way to do that is to actually get to know your fellow man — through social events, volunteer work, church, community organizations, etc. That way, when there’s a disaster in your area, you will know, first hand, where help is needed, who needs help, and who is coordinating local assistance. Then, you give. If you are handy with tools, you help with rebuilding. If you have a pickup truck, you help with hauling away debris. If all you have are 2 hands, you can help in so many ways. The Civil Air Patrol and CERT are two organizations that offer the type of training that comes in handy during emergency response situations.

I wish I could encourage you to join up with the Red Cross, and there are probably chapters around the country who are not quite as bound by rules and regulations as to be of limited help. One buddy of mine who has worked in emergency response for decades claims that local Red Cross groups can be effective and very helpful. However, I tend to shy away from donating to groups with massive overhead and huge salaries to their top people. That’s just me.

If you don’t want to stand in long lines for bottled water or sign a lengthy form of rules in order to have a roof over your head provided by a government-run shelter, then keep prepping. The alternative is relying on government, or government-like organizations, to decide what you need and what is best for you. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

 

 

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Civil Air Patrol For Prepper/Survival Training

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Civil Air Patrol survival training

When our young teen son told us he wanted to join the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), I thought my wife was going to lock him up in a cage. She had visions of him marching off to war on his 18th birthday and her mom instinct kicked in, I guess.

A year later, she is proud of her newly promoted Technical Sergeant and all the training he has received in just little more than a year.

Civil Air Patrol is the auxiliary arm of the U.S. Air Force and is run by volunteers. The organization is open to boys and girls starting at age 12. Adults can also join as Senior Members and receive much of the same training available to the younger members. In fact, Senior Members are very welcome to join as many of them become regular attendees at meetings and volunteer at events to help coordinate.

Just some of the training available in CAP is an initial Encampment, which is their version of boot camp. My son learned teamwork, critical thinking, how to work and think under pressure, and a more regimented life than he experiences at home. When we picked him up from Encampment, he was beaming. My wife had worried that being yelled at by his senior officers would be traumatic, but the opposite happened. He thrived under pressure. As a dad, that was good to see.

Since then, he’s gone on to get training in basic and intermediate first aid, ground search and rescue, building wilderness shelters, knot tying, rapelling, water purification, setting up campsites, campfire cooking, and much, much more. He’s flown in a tiny 4-seater airplane and has crawled across a river, hanging from a rope.

I’m impressed with the variety of training CAP offers, and many classes teach skills and knowledge important for survival and preparedness. One series of classes teaches the basics of air traffic control, another teaches communications. Wilderness First Aid, wilderness survival, emergency response training — these are just a very, very few of the trainings and classes offered, and all at very low prices.

Our son spent a full week in training for ground search and rescue, and we paid just a little over $200. He came home a little more confident, a lot more informed about search and rescue, and covered from ankle to waist in chigger bites from a nighttime crawl through the woods. He had a blast and was darn proud of those bites!

If you’re looking for some excellent, high quality training in numerous areas related to survival and prepping, take a look at Civil Air Patrol. Along with what you get out of the deal, you’ll end up trained to help out as a volunteer in all types of natural disasters and other emergencies.

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The Importance of Multiple Fuels in Your SHTF Cooking Plans

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Fuel SHTF Cooking Heating Plans (1)In our household, we have a Sun Oven and a Solavore, SilverFire and StoveTec rocket stoves, and a dual-fuel Coleman stove, which uses both unleaded gasoline and Coleman fuel. I have the supplies for putting together an improvised cement block rocket stove, and a backyard full of trees, pinecones, and leaves. We purposely chose a gas stove for our home in order to have the ability to cook in a power outage.

In the emergency cooking department, we have numerous bases covered. Looking at these different types of stoves, it’s not enough to just have alternative cooking methods. You also need to make sure each one uses different types of fuels.

When we lived in the desert, sunshine was not an issue and we could use a solar cooker pretty much every day. In the forest, it’s a different story. We still haven’t found the ideal location for solar cooking, and I may have to chop off extra limbs on numerous trees to allow enough sunlight into our backyard.

However, with this limitation, I’m not too worried. Those same trees are providing massive amounts of fuel for our rocket stoves, a campfire, or a fire pit. In my part of Texas, it would be a very long time before I had to worry about running out of this particular fuel type, and yet, it could happen. In a very long term power outage, the problem would be ending up with a lot of unseasoned, green wood.

In that case, I have propane tanks and stored gasoline. In a pinch, I could use the propane with a gas-powered grill and the gasoline with the Coleman stove. Of course, there are safety issues with gasoline storage as detailed here.

Here’s the bottom line — your multiple cooking methods must have multiple fuel sources, so if you run out of one, you’ll have others to rely on.

A solar oven is highly recommended, since the only fuel you need is the sun. In some parts of the country, you may only have a few days a month for solar, but on those days, use it! You’ll be able to preserve the other fuels you have for days when solar cooking isn’t an option.

One thought I had when we lived in the desert and didn’t even have a fireplace, was to buy a half cord of wood or so, just to have it as a fuel. In most desert communities, it’s rare to find a large expanse of trees suitable for firewood. Our backyard had exactly 5 trees, and although they were all nearly full-grown, we would have had to wait several months for the wood to become seasoned before we could use it. In a power grid loss, I wouldn’t be the only desert rat out there trying to scavenge firewood.

Multiple cooking methods + multiple fuel sources, and you’re golden, and if the fuel is either renewable (biomass) or solar, that’s the best combination.

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How to Protect Yourself When You’re Not Allowed to Have a Weapon

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Protect Yourself Not Allowed WeaponWhen I see and hear about terrorist attacks, in particular, in countries where people are not allowed to have any weapons, it makes me angry. Protecting yourself, protecting your family and your home — isn’t that a God-given right? If a government takes away your right to protect your own body, then what other rights, really, do you have? How do you protect yourself when the law denies you the right to have a weapon of any kind?

We have friends in Europe and I’ve wondered how they might possibly defend themselves in a terrorist attack. I know one guy in England who told me that he worries about sharps — knives, machetes, even swords, as attack weapons. No guns? No problem for criminals and terrorists. Knives are easier to hide, anyway.

At the most basic level of self-defense, situational awareness can keep you out of a lot of trouble. Israelis have been living under the very real threat of terrorism for decades and the Israelis I know have a sixth sense when it comes to noticing anything out of place — people, clothing, eye contact, movement. That has to become second nature and thankfully, it can be learned, and taught. Two books that have been helpful to me and my wife are The Gift of Fear and Left of Bang. If you have kids and want to learn more about protecting them, read Protecting the Gift.

(The author of The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift is, ironically, very anti-Second Amendment. Normally, I’d never recommend a book promoting that viewpoint, but he’s so right about everything else, that the books are worth reading.)

Being aware of surroundings is important, but there may come a time when you have no choice but to physically defend yourself. A single mom I know challenges her teenage daughter every so often, “Look around and tell me what you could use as a weapon RIGHT NOW.” She does this everywhere. Restaurants, grocery store, everywhere! I’ve played this game many times myself and look for not only weapons but exits, places to conceal or cover, in the case of gunfire. I’ve measured the thickness of a table top with my eyes — could I pick it up and throw it? I’ve been in bed, ready to doze off, and thought, “What would I do if I heard glass break on the other side of the house and heard someone in the kitchen?” Then, I have trouble going to sleep.

It can make you crazy sometimes to think like this, but mental rehearsal is part of physical training.

Martial arts, such as jujitsu or taekwando, are other options that will train you to defend yourself and you’ll learn how to control your own fear and aggression. Some martial arts studios offer low cost self-defense classes for women.

Along those same lines, you just gotta be in the best physical condition as possible. A fat cop chasing a 20-something, strong young man will be lucky if he doesn’t keel over with a heart attack, and the thug will go on to victimize others again and again. Remember that criminals and terrorists have watched and planned and played out in their minds over and over just how, when, and where they will attack. They’ll be looking for vulnerable people — those who are distracted (Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, for example) and if you’re in that segment of selected victims AND you can’t run or have the physical power to fight back, you may end up being another body covered with a sheet.

Vulnerability. How do you make yourself less vulnerable when you’re out in public? Here’s a suggestion that may not be popular with some — avoid alcohol. I’m a beer guy. I like beer. But in my lifetime, and I’m well over 40, I have seen some spectacularly foolish and dangerous things done by people whose judgement and physical abilities were impaired by alcohol. If you have a concern about crime and terrorism, why increase the size of the target on your back by staggering down the sidewalk, barely able to stay upright, much less notice warning signs that something bad could be going down?

If you’re still thinking that maybe a weapon is needed, I know one fellow who swears by his bow. He says it’s a real deterrent and a 38-inch arrow notched on his bow makes people think twice. He happens to use a tripod bag for transporting his bow and arrows and made that choice because it’s innocuous looking.

Tactical pens are another choice and one that I happen to know is used by many, many guys in my particular line of work. It’s a pen AND a weapon. If you have it in hand and know how to use it, it can be a handy weapon, and better than nothing. When you shop for a tactical pen, you’ll see a number of them that look like REAL weapons but if your intent is to have something handy for self-defense that doesn’t attract attention, then look for one that just looks like a very sturdy ink pen and not a pen on steroids.

Pepper spray is popular but can cause problems for asthmatics. Again, if you live outside the U.S. or are traveling to other countries, find out what is legal there before packing pepper spray, the tactical pen, a kubaton, etc.

Depending on a country’s laws, using even something like a tactical pen for defense can land you in hot water. Many years ago, an Arizona man had to appear in a British court because he defended himself from an attack by using a pocket knife he had with him. He got in more trouble than the man who attacked him. Hard to think of anything more messed up than that, but the last thing you want is to end up in prison when there may have been other ways to avoid a dangerous situation, such as situational awareness, not getting drunk in foreign bars at 2 in the morning. Common sense first and maybe, just maybe, you won’t have to worry about remembering your jujitsu moves or fumbling for the tactical pen in your pocket.

Whatever tactic or strategy you choose, practice, practice, and practice. Nothing beats automatic muscle memory.

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Why You Must Take Advanced Shooting Classes

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Advanced Shooting Classes I didn’t grow up with guns in the house because my family didn’t live in the continental United States. Due to my Dad’s job, we were all over the globe and living in places that didn’t exactly have Second Amendment rights. However, during my high school years, two of my older buddies were finally of age and could legally go through the process to purchase firearms. We started target shooting. Not advanced shooting classes, but just shooting for fun.

Living near the ocean, we would sometimes go out to remote places where we could shoot into the water. We’d throw empty gallon milk jugs into the water and then do our best to shoot at them while they were bobbing on the waves. This, by the way, wasn’t exactly legal! At other times, we went out into the boonies and shoot at anything we could: soda cans, bowling pins, and even lizards. Those were not easy to hit! They were skinny and constantly moving!

My first advanced shooting class

During this time, I didn’t have any formal training. I just went shooting for the pure fun of it and the personal challenge of getting better each time. That changed during my college years, though, when I was allowed, as a civilian, to participate in a semester-long police firearms training academy. The other civilian was my lizard-shooting buddy, Paul.

It was during this semester that I learned, in a more formal setting, the fundamentals of shooting, and how to effectively shoot shotguns and pistols. This was probably the best firearms education a person could ever have. Our group went out every single Saturday for four straight months. We spent 8 hours on the range, getting about an hour of instruction and then 6-7 hours of shooting drills. I don’t think I even ate lunch on those days! I would be starving on the drive home.

Our 2 instructors were Mr. Hill, with a background in the prison systems and the main firearms instructor for this shooting academy, and Mr. Dennis, a former police/narcotics officer. Mr. Hill was a behemoth of a man and very effective with a shotgun, in particular. Both these instructors lived to shoot — maybe they were married and had families, but guns and shooting seemed to be their first loves. They were determined that not a single student would leave the class without being highly competent in shooting skills and comfortable with their “use of force” decisions.

The muscle memory developed from dozens and dozens of hours of (mostly) handgun shooting remains with me and is ingrained in my body, even after all these years. Techniques I learned to improve my accuracy are still effective, and I’ve taught them to my wife and kids. I feel very, very comfortable with a firearm in my hands, but it wasn’t until I took another class many years later that I was challenged on a whole other level.

Advanced shooting class with a military twist

This time it was, again, my buddy Paul who invited me to join him in an all-day class on a military base where he worked. The invite was irresistible. I would be spending the day with a group of Air Force combat personnel who were preparing to be deployed and were required to take this class in urban warfare. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and nobody questioned my presence or credentials. I kept my mouth shut — definitely a don’t ask, don’t tell situation!

For the first time in my life, I was in a scenario in which live fire was being used and I wasn’t exactly behind the firing line. There was no firing line! We performed exercises in which we were constantly moving and engaging targets, tactical reloading while moving, maintaining communications with team members, and doing all of this under non-stop pressure by the instructors who were screaming and cussing and deriding us. One guy’s gun jammed and the diatribe by the instructor was merciless and, I have to admit, very funny at the time.

Initially, I had the jitters because this was very exciting to me and the setting unfamiliar. I had always wanted to be in a scenario like this — but without being a target by a real criminal with a real gun! Been there, done that.

After a few minutes, my mind and body became accustomed to the adrenaline and excitement. My nerves calmed, my breathing slowed down and became more regulated, and I was able to make the quick decisions and reactions being demanded of me. By the end of that day, even though I had been shooting for years and had received so much instruction and practice, I knew my shooting expertise had reached a new dimension.

Without the many years of casual and formal practice and instruction, there’s no way I would have been ready for such an intense training experience. A few of the Air Force guys in the group left that day realizing they needed more practice. When I think about the low training requirements of nearly all law enforcement officers — this is what they actually need, each and every year as our cities and streets become more dangerous and hostile to police officers, in particular.

Reasons every shooter needs advanced classes

So, why must you take advanced shooting classes? In a real life situation in which self-defense is necessary, you need enough practice hours behind you so that muscle memory is there each and every time you pick up that gun. You won’t be standing behind a line with your pistol on a bench and with a motionless paper target. You need to spend hours under some kind of pressure, so you become comfortable with all aspects of shooting. You’ll have to make lightning quick, on the spot decisions. Everything about shooting, from stance to grip to aim should all be so familiar that the only decision to make is whether or not to pull the trigger.

In my case, my upbringing and where I lived in the world was a little different. I happened to be at the right place and, apparently, had a connection or two that allowed some unique experiences to come my way. However, a good shooting range will offer advanced classes, and I encourage you to take as many as possible. When you find a good instructor, take every class he or she offers. Classes you might consider are concealed carry classes (if allowed in your state), defensive handgun, defensive shotgun, and tactical firearm classes. Courses that integrate mindset, marksmanship, and individual/team tactics under realistic conditions will not fail you.

Prepare to be challenged in every way possible. Your physical endurance will be tested. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how you react under extreme duress — something that most people never experience in their entire lives. One more tip: be sure to get a good night’s rest the night before. You’ll need it.

Disclaimer: Know your local, state, and applicable federal laws. Shooting at lizards may not be legal where you live and I don’t recommend it anyway!

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Taking the Reins From Howard

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Hi everybody. Noah here.

Howard let you know that I have taken the reins of this popular blog and will be the new owner and manager moving forward. I’m still digging through the incredible amount of articles, and wisdom!, that Howard leaves behind.

Not to worry…your favorite articles will still be here and Howard will occasionally drop in from time to time with something new to share. My plan is to keep the great info available, make it even easier to find what you want, and add new stuff as we go.

I’m not one of those know-it-all survival types and this blog isn’t going to turn into a super-macho, guns a-blazin’ style blogs (although I do love me some guns). With my family, I’ve learned that survival is all about balance and common sense. Sometimes you need a gun, sometimes you need to blend in with the crowd and disappear.

I’m more of a gray man, myself, just naturally.

I have degrees in both psychology and criminal justice. I’m a law and order type of guy but am willing to bend the rules if it keeps my family safe. Fortunately, my wife is a prepper and my kids have grown up knowing how to shoot a rifle, how to grind wheat, how to use a solar cooker, how to set up a campsite — they’re little mini-preppers!

The overall appearance of Preparedness Advice will change in the days to come. I’d like to update its organization and will probably change things like the photo at the top, the colors, etc. just to spice things up a bit.

Thanks for your welcoming comments, so far. Howard has created something of significant help here in the prepper world, and my intent is to continue it for many years to come.

Noah

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