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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