23 Items (Besides Food & Water) FEMA Says You Should Stockpile

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23 Items (Besides Food & Water) FEMA Says You Should Stockpile

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Editor’s note: This is the second story in a two-part series about what the federal government says should be stockpiled. Read part 1 here.

Perhaps surprisingly, the federal government has been part of what has driven the prepping movement.

FEMA’s “ready.gov” website was developed with the idea of helping people to prepare for a natural disaster so that they would have a better chance of surviving it. While FEMA isn’t the definitive source for survival information, a number of things that are widely accepted in the prepping community trace their roots right back to Ready.gov.

The most glaring example of this is the three-day food rule, which defines that bugout bags, otherwise known as 72-hour bags, have three days of food in them. Just about everyone talks about having three days of food in their bug-out bag, without anyone taking about the “why” behind that figure. But here’s the why: because the government said so.

Personally, I carry five days of food in my bug-out bag, and have another couple of weeks worth in a secondary bag, with even more food in other portable containers. The idea is to take as much food with me as I can, and use the food from the other containers first, leaving what’s in my bug-out bag for last. That way, if I have to abandon my vehicle and the other food, I’ll at least have that five days’ worth.

So, where did FEMA’s idea of three days’ worth of food originate? It came from their master plan, which states that they will have relief services in place in three days. Forget that they haven’t been overly successful in accomplishing that in the past, but it’s still their plan.

We can extrapolate a very important point from this. That is: everything that the government says about disaster preparedness is based upon the assumption that the Nanny State government will be there to help you. If you trust the government, that’s fine; but if you don’t, then it’s not a good idea to put too much stock in what they offer as survival advice.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at FEMA’s list of “Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit.” This printable list is what FEMA recommends having on hand, mostly with the idea of surviving a natural disaster.

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In addition to food and water, the list includes:

  1. Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
  2. Flashlight and extra batteries.
  3. First-aid kit.
  4. Whistle to signal for help.
  5. Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place (better to use a medical grade mask to keep out pathogens, too).
  6. 23 Items (Besides Food & Water) FEMA Says You Should StockpileMoist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  7. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  8. Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
  9. Local maps.
  10. Prescription medications and glasses.
  11. Infant formula and diapers.
  12. Pet food and extra water for your pet.
  13. Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  14. Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
  15. Emergency reference material such as a first-aid book or information from ready.gov.
  16. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  17. Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color-safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  18. Fire extinguisher.
  19. Matches in a waterproof container.
  20. Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
  21. Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels.
  22. Paper and pencil.
  23. Books, games puzzles or other activities for children.

Before going any farther with this, we need to understand exactly what this list is. By looking at it, it is immediately clear that the items listed are for sheltering in place, in your home, while waiting for government relief. That, in turn, assumes that the government will be able to bring relief, that they will be able to do it in three days, and that they will physically be able to get to you. Those are some pretty big assumptions.

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, one of the many problems that delayed the arrival of relief into the New Orleans area was the trees and other debris scattered on the roads. There were many places where the roads had to be cleared before the trucks carrying the relief supplies could make it to those who needed it.

FEMA’s inability to deal with the situation in a timely manner was obvious and examined in great detail. So, it would be natural to think that they would have been ready seven years later when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. But they didn’t even put out requests for quote (RFQs) for the supplies they needed until the day after Sandy hit. It doesn’t look like they learned a whole lot.

While there are many other examples we could use, I’ll just mention one other. In 2016 there was a massive flood in Louisiana, affecting about 30 parishes (what the rest of us call counties). In that case, it wasn’t FEMA that rescued people and brought relief, but rather the people of Louisiana helping each other. Some used their boats to rescue people stranded on their roofs, while others set up emergency shelters and cooked meals for those who were displaced by the flood. It was a great demonstration of community outpouring to help one another out.

23 Items (Besides Food & Water) FEMA Says You Should StockpileSince it’s clear that there are many cases where the government can’t get in place fast enough to truly make a difference, accepting the idea that three days’ worth of food and water is enough, is ludicrous. But even if they could, that three-day figure doesn’t take into account any long-term or national disaster scenarios.

Long-term disasters are those that last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. In such a case, it’s clear that we’d need a whole lot more food than the three days mentioned in FEMA’s list; or, we need to grow our own food.

Situations like terrorism taking out the grid or bio-warfare would mean that we’d all have to be self-sufficient for months.

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Many writers have undertaken to write complete lists of what you’ll need in these sorts of situations, myself included. Take a look at the article on “22 Things Besides Food and Water That You Should Stockpile” or “21 Surprising Items You’ll Need when the Grid Is Down.” The truth is, there is no way of knowing for sure everything we’ll need, so we need to plan for everything and hope that we didn’t miss anything.

But let me take a moment to make a quick case for what’s missing from the government’s list. To determine what we need, we always have to start out with the basics for survival. Those are:

  • Ability to keep warm.
  • Clean water.
  • Nutritious, high-energy food.

To support that, we need to add:

  • The ability to defend ourselves.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • The ability to start a fire.
  • Tools.

Just looking at those seven areas, it’s clear that the FEMA list is missing a lot of things. They mention matches to start a fire, but they don’t talk about fuel for the fire. Their list assumes that everyone has a stock of firewood sitting behind their homes, as well as a government-approved wood-burning stove to burn it in? Incomplete answers to survival problems, like this one, get people killed.

They do mention the ability to purify water with bleach, but that’s the only water purification method they mention, and they missed the part about shaking up the water once you put the bleach in it to make the bleach dissipate, and then allowing it to sit for 20 minutes to kill the pathogens. But why not mention some other methods of water purification? Water is such an important part of survival, that depending on only one method is not safe.

Two of the “supportive” areas that I mentioned above are totally missed by FEMA: the ability to defend yourself, and tools. One of the things you can count on in the aftermath of any disaster is the criminal element coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of the situation.

The fact that they missed tools can be forgiven, if we assume that the plan is to shelter in place, in your home, awaiting the arrival of government aid. But then, if you were one of those people, you wouldn’t be reading this website. The fact is that many survival tasks, from building or repairing shelter to preserving food, are going to require tools of some sort. Of anything that FEMA has left off their list, this is probably the biggest omission. Yes, you can make it three days without those tools, but not a whole lot longer.

All in all, the only true value that the FEMA list has is as a starting point. For someone who hasn’t done anything about emergency preparedness, this list is an eye-opener. But the sad thing is that many will take this list as being the definitive word on survival and not go any farther.

Simply put, it is not wise to put our survival in the not-so-capable hands of the government.

What is your reaction to the FEMA list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The First 10 Foods That Disappear From Store Shelves During Disasters

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The First 10 Foods That Disappear From Store Shelves During Disasters

mage source: Flickr / Chris Waits / Creative Commonsf

I live in a hurricane zone. While we don’t get a lot of hurricanes that actually hit us, we do get a lot of threats from them.

So, I’ve seen how people react to them, time and time again. The funny thing is, the same people go to the store and buy the same things each time one is heading for us. They never seem to prepare or even improve upon their last-minute preparations.

Setting aside the lack of wisdom that goes with their decisions, there’s a huge problem with how they are approaching disaster preparedness. That is, they aren’t thinking ahead.

Their lack of planning explains, at least a little, the poor decisions that they make. When you’re in a hurry to make a decision, the natural tendency is to fall back on the things you know the best. That can be rather problematic, especially when you consider that the things which we would normally use when everything is going fine are not likely to be all that useful when the power is out. As we all know, whenever there is a disaster, especially a natural disaster, one of the things you can count on is for the lights to go out.

Knowing how people react, the local stores have made their own provisions. When a hurricane warning comes, you can see the local Walmart stores rolling out pallets of flashlights and batteries. Extra shipments of some food items come in, and emergency items are “stocked to the roof” in anticipation of extra sales. Even so, they still sell out of the same things every time.

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Of course, the biggest thing that people are stocking up on is food. But, since they haven’t planned it out, they usually buy the wrong things. I’ve seen it over and over.

Here are the first 10 foods that tend to sell out in the stores when a disaster is imminent:

  1. Water
  2. Bread
  3. Beer & alcohol
  4. Canned fruits & vegetables
  5. Canned soups
  6. Peanut butter
  7. Eggs
  8. Meat
  9. Coffee
  10. Frozen prepared foods

If you look at that list, you can spot a number of very important errors. First of all, the meat and frozen prepared foods require refrigeration. Likewise, bread won’t usually keep more than a few days without going bad. Yet, the one thing we can always count on is the power going out. So, what they are doing in buying those foods is either preparing for a feast or preparing to throw the food away.

On the other end of the scale, there are some things on that list that really make sense. Water is going to be the number one “food” need for most people, so stocking up on it is always a good idea. Unfortunately, the stores never have enough water and sell out of it quickly. Only the first 100 or so people to get there manage to buy water.

Soup, peanut butter and other canned goods are always good survival food — the types of things that most preppers stock up on. However, most last-minute shoppers don’t buy enough of them, so it won’t be long before they’re scrounging for food.

Finally, we find beer and alcohol rather high up on that list. Contrary to Maslow’s Hierarchy, most people put their vices before the basic needs for survival. This is especially true in times of crisis. Many people drink to forget their problems, and a disaster definitely qualifies as a problem. So, they’ll stock up on beer (and cigarettes too, but we’re talking about food here) to make sure that they have enough to keep themselves distracted from the destruction all around them.

Do you agree with our list of 10 foods that disappear from shelves first? Share your observations in the section below:

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6 Clever, Off-Grid Ways To Cook When There’s No Electricity

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6 Clever, Off-Grid Ways To Cook When There’s No Electricity

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You may not think of it this way, but the vast majority of the food we eat is cooked. Oh, it may not actually be cooked in your kitchen, but it was cooked somewhere. Frozen foods, breakfast cereal, cookies, bread, potato chips, dry-roasted peanuts, candy, spaghetti sauce, lunchmeat and even some canned goods are all cooked somewhere — probably in a factory.

Of course, those factories save us from having to cook all of those things ourselves.

But what if you couldn’t get all of that food anymore? What would you do? Could you come up with enough food to eat if you had to bake your own bread and can your own vegetables? Even worse than that, what if you had to do it without electrical power?

The sad reality is that our infrastructure is very fragile. As long as it works, it’s great. But it doesn’t take a whole lot to take it down.

That’s why it’s important to have alternate ways of cooking your food. Fortunately, there are a wide range of options that we can choose from … if we take the time to be prepared to use them.

1. Wood fire

Mankind’s oldest means of cooking was over an open fire. For much of human history, this was the only way that people could cook. Even today, there are places in the world where cooking over wood is the norm.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Mexico. While the cities can be quite modern, once you get out in the sticks, it’s not surprising to find people doing things much as they have been done for centuries. The country is in transition and because of that, you’ll see the old ways and the new ways in use side by side, even within the same household.

When we talk about cooking with a wood fire, we’re actually talking about several different cooking methods. The common factor is the wood, but how that wood is used and how the food is cooked can vary extensively. Some possibilities include:

  • A fireplace.
  • A wood-burning stove.
  • A fire pit.
  • A clay oven.
  • An open fire.

2. Dutch oven

The Dutch oven is often used in a wood fire, but it still deserves special mention. Originally, Dutch ovens were cast-iron affairs, with feet to hold them level in the coals. The lid looked inverted, with a lip, so that coals could be piled on top, too. This gave the ability to bake foods, long before our modern ovens were invented.

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6 Clever, Off-Grid Ways To Cook When There’s No Electricity

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Most of what’s called Dutch ovens today wouldn’t survive use in this manner. They’re typically thin, stamped metal, with an enamel coating on the outside and Teflon on the inside. If you tried to set them down in the coals of a fire, the enamel would burn and the thin metal would probably be weakened.

3. Barbecue grill

One alternate means of cooking that almost everyone has is a barbecue grill. While we normally only use it for cooking steaks and hamburgers, you can cook just about anything on a grill, with a little practice. Pots and pans can be placed on the grill, although once again, you’d be better off with cast-iron ones.

If you have a gas grill, you should keep at least one spare tank of gas on hand at all times. That way, you’ll have a ready means of cooking, when and if the power goes out. For charcoal grills, you can use wood, although you’ll have to allow it to burn down to coals to get the best results.

Learn to start a fire in your charcoal grill without lighter fluid. That way, you can always have the ability to cook your food, as long as you have fuel for the grill.

4. Camping stove

Those who like to go camping probably already have a camping stove. This makes a good alternative when you can’t use your regular stove. However, most camping stoves today work off of those little bottles of propane gas. Unless you’re going to stockpile a whole lot of little bottles, you’re going to be somewhat limited.

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Coleman

One solution to this problem is getting an adapter which will allow you to refill those little propane bottles from a regular propane tank, such as the ones used for barbecue grilles. That’s also a great way to save money, as the little bottles are quite expensive.

If you can find it, Coleman still makes a camp stove that doesn’t use propane. Called their “dual-fuel stove,” it’s the same model that I remember using as a kid. You put the fuel in a tank and pump it up to pressurize it. They named it “dual-fuel” because you can use it with both the canned Coleman fuel and regular gasoline.

That adds a lot to the utility of the stove, as the one fuel which will be easiest to find during an emergency is gasoline. You might have to siphon it out of a car’s gas tank, but at least you’ll have fuel.

5. Solar oven

If you’ve never used a solar oven, you should try it. But unless you know what you’re doing, I’d really recommend buying one rather than making your own. The commercially manufactured ones are much better than just a box covered with aluminum foil.

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The idea behind a solar oven is that the sunlight is converted to heat by striking a black surface inside the oven. Reflectors increase the amount of sunlight that comes into the solar oven, helping to augment the temperature. Most are covered with a glass or plastic cover, which helps to hold in the heat.

Cooking with a solar oven is much like cooking in a crockpot. It takes a little time. But beware: It is possible to overcook with a solar oven. I’ve burned roasts and potatoes in mine.

6. Solar Fresnel cooker

If you’ve ever used a magnifying lens to torture ants or light a leaf on fire as a kid, you already know how to use a Fresnel cooker. Fresnel lenses are the flat plastic magnifying glasses, which look like they have fine concentric circles molded into the backside. You can find them at dollar stores and other places, usually marketed for reading small type.

The old big screen televisions, prior to the flat screen TVs we now have, all had a Fresnel lens inside, just behind the screen. You can salvage one right out of one of those televisions, or if you can’t find one, try checking eBay. They usually have them.

Your Fresnel lens will need to be mounted in an adjustable frame, both to hold it and to adjust the angle. The food you want to cook is placed at the focal point of the lens, which is usually about two feet below it. So, you’ll need a stand of some sort to hold the frying pan or pot you’re going to put the food in.

I’ve seen Fresnel cookers generate enough heat to fry an egg in one minute or actually melt pennies. If you want to cook something quickly, this will do it. As long as you’ve got clear skies, you can cook just about anything you can think of. Just be careful not to burn your food.

What off-grid cooking methods would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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The 12 Foods The Government Wants You To Stockpile (But Is It Enough?)

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The 12 Foods The Government Says You Should Stockpile (But Is It Enough?)

Photographer: Mike Mozart / Flickr / Creative Commons

It’s hard to quantify, but the modern prepping movement has at least, in part, been caused by the government. I am not referencing fear in the government doing something stupid that would force us into survival mode (although that is possible), but instead in promoting the idea of disaster preparedness.

FEMA’s Ready.gov website contains a host of information on how to prepare for a pending disaster, and radio commercials promote the idea, too. While not the best information in the world, it’s a good starting point for the novice prepper.

Of course, many if not most preppers don’t pay much attention to the FEMA website. Part of that could be because few of us trust the government all that much. But a much bigger part is that the government’s idea of prepping really doesn’t go far enough.

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Let’s take a look at the list of Suggested Emergency Food Supplies that FEMA has on their website:

  1. Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  2. Protein or fruit bars
  3. Dry cereal or granola
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Dried fruit
  6. Nuts
  7. Crackers
  8. Canned juices
  9. Non-perishable pasteurized milk
  10. Vitamins
  11. Food for infants
  12. Comfort/stress foods

That’s it — a dozen things. While all of those are good choices, there’s no way that I would consider them enough. But then, I take a much different view of survival than what FEMA is promoting.

The 12 Foods The Government Wants You To Stockpile (But Is It Enough?)

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FEMA takes the stance that you only need to be ready to take care of yourself for three days. That’s their target reaction time. At the end of the three days, FEMA supposedly will have assistance in place. There’s only one thing … FEMA has a very poor track record of meeting that goal.

So when FEMA talks about stockpiling food, they only talk about stockpiling three days of it. That’s probably where the idea of a bug-out bag only having three days of food originates. Personally, I don’t feel that three days is anywhere near enough, especially since I have no intention of ending up in a FEMA camp, waiting for the government to decide to let me go.

There were people digging in dumpsters, looking for food, six weeks after both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy (which occurred in Republican and Democratic administrations). That doesn’t give me a whole lot of faith in FEMA’s abilities. But I’m also concerned that whatever FEMA gives out, comes with a price. The price of government meddling in our lives. That’s a much higher price than paying for my own food, to build a descent stockpile.

Let’s go back to that list for a minute. While the foods contained in it are all good choices for a survival situation, there really isn’t enough there to create actual meals, unless you stockpile canned goods that can be put together to make a meal. While that is possible, it’s not anyone’s first choice. Canned foods do provide nutrition, but they are severely lacking in flavor.

If all you’re talking about is surviving three days, that’s not really an issue. You can live on peanut butter crackers and dried fruit for three days. For that matter, you can live without it for three days, just about as well. But you can’t simply buy more of the foods mentioned on this list and expect to have a three- or six-month stockpile. You’ll have to add other foods to it. I’m not going to talk about what other foods you should stockpile, as I’ve written other articles about it. Try this article or this one for more information.

Another problem with the list is that not all of these foods will store for a prolonged period of time, without rotating your stock. While some, like canned goods will last a long time, there are other things, like breakfast cereal and crackers, which will quickly become stale and unpalatable.

FEMA also suggests that you “choose foods your family will eat.” While that may seem to make sense, most of our families aren’t going to go for a healthy diet of survival food; they’re going to want something tasty. In other words, they’re going to want the same sorts of junk food that they’re used to eating. That doesn’t work, and it’s actually totally contradictory to the list of foods they’ve put together.

I prefer to say, “Figure out how to make the foods you are going to have to stockpile for survival palatable for your family.” This requires figuring out how to take the foods that you stockpile and adapting their flavor to meet your family’s tastes. While not easy, this is actually possible. All you need is a stock of the right spices, plenty of salt and maybe a few sauces, like spaghetti sauce.

You’ll have to do some experimenting to find ways of preparing the survival foods you’re going to stockpile in ways that will be palatable to your family. Take the time to make up some recipes, and make a small batch and test it on your family. If it doesn’t work, try modifying. That usually means adding more spices to give it more flavor.

I stockpile plenty of spaghetti sauce and cream of mushroom soup, as well as the spices used in making my own spaghetti sauce, so that I can restock from tomatoes I grow in my garden.

So, yes, the FEMA list contains a few items that should be in any stockpile. Just don’t stop there.

What do you think of FEMA’s tips and list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

The Silent-But-Deadly Weapon Missing From Most Survival Caches

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The Silent-But-Deadly Weapon Missing From Most Survival Caches

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If there’s anything that will bring up controversy in the world of survival and prepping, it’s a discussion about weapons. Everyone has their own ideas about what’s the best, and most of those ideas are based upon some pretty sound reasoning.

The truth is there is no one perfect weapon or even set of weapons that is the perfect solution in all situations. What is ideal in one scenario might be the worst possible choice in another.

Then there are the individual factors that have to be considered. Not all survivalists are created equal. Each is an individual mix of skills, abilities, thoughts, needs and capabilities. Something that might be an excellent weapon for one person might be the worst possible choice for another, simply because he or she doesn’t have the strength to use it properly. What might be ideal at one point in our lives may turn out to be less than ideal as we improve our skills.

This probably has a lot to do with why many of us have an entire arsenal, rather than just the few guns we need. Granted, we like collecting guns, as well, but as our ideas about defense evolve over time, we decide that the tools we’ve selected to use aren’t the best for our needs and go in search of others. Of course, we keep the old ones, too, as there’s always the possibility that we can use them.

Even so, there are weapon options that we rarely consider, even though they are excellent choices. At times, our prejudices or our addiction to modern technology overwhelm what could be sound reasoning. Such is the case of the bow.

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The bow is one of the two oldest weapons in continuous use in the world today; the other being the knife. While there are examples of other weapons that have been around longer than the bow, they don’t fit the criteria of being still in use. Yes, you can find swords and spears, even real ones, available for sale, but they are considered novelty items more than actual weapons.

The Silent-But-Deadly Weapon Missing From Most Survival Caches

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In my way of thinking, any survival arsenal is incomplete without a bow. While you can survive just fine without one, there are times when a bow would actually be a superior choice over any firearm you could pick.

The bow has two things going for it that firearms don’t have. The first is that it is a silent killer. Even a heavily suppressed pistol is going to be far louder than a bow will be; and adding silencers to pistols makes it hard to shoot them accurately, regardless of what the movies show us. Typically, you can’t use the pistol’s sights if there is a suppressor installed.

If you are trying to hide from marauders or other two-legged predators, the last thing you want to do is advertise your presence by firing a gun. While you may find that necessary, you have to realize that it will attract the attention of every bad guy within a couple of miles. At least some of them will hear the shot and begin looking for supplies that they can steal – your supplies.

The second advantage that bows have over firearms is that you can make your own ammunition. Many ancient people groups used the bow, and they all made their own arrows. In a long-term survival situation, ammunition for guns is probably going to become scarce.

Now, I know that many are stockpiling ammo. But no matter how big your stockpile is, it has limits. Personally, I’d rather save as much of that ammo as I can for times when I really need it, such as when I have to defend my homestead from a hungry gang.

Using a bow, whether to hunt or for self-defense, means that I save the ammo I have. Then, when the time comes, I’ll have that much more available to me. I may never use all the ammo I have, but I have no way of knowing that. During a societal collapse, where I have to depend on what I have to survive an unknown length of time, there is no way to guarantee that I have enough ammo.

With practice, a bow is a very effective weapon. That’s why it’s been in use all around the world, throughout human history. But I must say: Our modern compound bows may not be the ideal survival weapons — at least not if they have more than 60 pounds of draw weight. Past that point, they shatter wood arrows, making it impossible to use them. Last I checked, making carbon fiber arrow shafts in a disaster situation – with stores closed — won’t be easy. So, you’ll either want a compound bow with a lighter draw weight or a simpler recurve bow.  Either way, it will be an excellent addition to your survival arsenal.

Do you believe bows should be a part of survival and self-defense arsenals? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

If The Grid’s Down And You Don’t Have Ammo, What Would You Do? Read More Here.

Prepping For An Evacuation: How To Be Ready When The Gov’t Says ‘Get Out’

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Prepping For An Evacuation: How To Be Ready When The Gov't Says ‘Get Out’

Mother Nature has incredible power available at her fingertips — much more than we humans do. With water alone, she is able to destroy some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Water leveled the city of Miyako, Japan, in 2011, as a tsunami brought a wave surge 128 feet high. Water also destroyed much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.

Currently, Northern California is closely watching the destructive power of water, as the spillway for our nation’s highest dam, the Lake Oroville Dam, is crumbling.

What has caused the damage to that dam’s spillway? Just water. Erosion has created a 200-feet-long by 30-feet-wide rupture in the spillway, opening the way for more erosion. The emergency spillway is being eroded away rapidly, as well, as waters rise above the lake’s capacity.

Fortunately for residents downstream, the dam itself is holding. But should either spillway fail, which is a very real possibility, a 30-feet-tall wall of water could go rushing downstream. While that isn’t as bad as a 700-feet-tall wall of water, it has caused mass evacuations of the towns in the path of potential flooding. Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered from their homes, with no promise of when they’ll be able to return.

Were They Ready?

When events like this happen, I always find myself asking how many of those people were truly prepared. How many had an evacuation plan in place? How many had a place to go while they waited out the disaster? How many even had a bug-out-bag packed, so that they would have the basic necessities of survival?

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Prepping For An Evacuation: How To Be Ready When The Gov't Says ‘Get Out’ While flood warnings were given to the major cities downstream, the towns closest to the dam itself only received an hour’s notice to evacuate. That’s barely enough time to gather up your family and jump in the car, let alone leaving in anything that resembles an organized manner. It literally meant grabbing what you can and running out the door, so that you can sit in traffic, as the highways aren’t built to accommodate an evacuation. Some invariably had to abandon their cars and proceed on foot once they ran out of gas.

The vast majority of those people ended up packed in shelters, set up by charities or the government. This left them with no privacy, little comfort and no way of protecting their property. Had they had plans in place for an emergency, they would have been able to go to a much better place, where they could be more comfortable as they awaited their fate.

What’s Different About an Evacuation?

Normally, when we talk about bugging out, we’re talking about escaping from the aftereffects of a calamity. More than anything, we’re talking about escaping a breakdown in society. But an evacuation isn’t that. An evacuation is intended to protect you and your family from a natural or man-made disaster. In such a situation, it’s easier to survive in an urban environment than it is to head for the hills. Staying within the area also allows you to get back to your home quickly and survey any damage when officials allow it.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that bugging out in an evacuation has to include going to a government-run shelter. In fact, I would avoid that at all costs. You’re much better off trying to make it on your own than you would be packed into a refugee shelter that’s set up in some gymnasium.

Planning Your Evacuation

Planning for an evacuation is much like planning for any other bug-out. But there is one major difference. That is, the fact that you don’t need to plan on heading into the wild. That affects the things you carry with you and the destination that you seek.

You should start your planning with a destination. Where can you go to find a safe place from a pending disaster? For the people in Oroville and the other nearby towns, there are several options. The best is to head uphill from where the lake is. That can mean heading directly up the nearest mountain, but I really mean to head for some other town that is at a higher elevation. That would put them out of the path of the water.

Most people will stop at the first safe haven they can find, which means nearby towns fill up fast. Stopping there could very well put you in one of the shelters that we’re trying to avoid. Instead, pass through that first town and go farther down the road. The farther you go, the less you’ll see of other evacuees. That will put you in a better situation when you do decide to stop.

We can clearly see what happens to the roads in such an evacuation. As many have predicted, the roads leading away from the danger area have turned into parking lots, filled with slow-moving traffic. Abandoned cars litter the roads, left behind by those who ran out of fuel.

So it’s best to have escape routes planned out that don’t involve the major highways. Find the back roads that will take you where you need to go. While those might not be the fastest way to go somewhere in normal times, you’d probably be flying down those roads compared to the people sitting on the highways.

Work out an escape plan that includes many routes, with interconnections, so that you can jump from one route to another, as the situation may dictate. There’s no way of knowing how many others know of those routes and might try using, too, so you want to have as many options open as possible.

The other part of avoiding a traffic jam is making sure that your vehicle is ready for the trip. That means keeping your car or truck in good shape, mechanically, so that it’s ready to roll. But it also means having a supply of gas on hand so that you have something to go with. Most of us don’t keep our gas tanks filled. But in a time of evacuation, you’ve got to have a full gas tank, or you risk being one of those people who are forced to leave a car on the side of the road.

Grab and Go

The bug-out-bag is a great starting point, but as I said earlier, I wouldn’t want to leave with just that if my house might be destroyed by a 30-foot wall of water. I’d want to take anything and everything I could, realizing that I might never see the things that I didn’t take with me.

But what to take? In such a moment, you’re not going to be thinking clearly. So that’s not the time to put together a list of everything you want to pack. Besides, you’re going to have mere minutes to grab what you can, not hours to neatly fill your suitcases.

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Prepping For An Evacuation: How To Be Ready When The Gov't Says ‘Get Out’ With that in mind, it makes sense to prepare yourself a checklist, so that if you do have to go quickly, you’ll be sure to grab the most important things. Those will have to fall into two categories: things to help you survive the aftermath, and things to help you rebuild your life. Both are equally important, although we don’t think of it that way in most bug-out scenarios.

Your bug-out bag probably has the majority of the things you need to survive. But I’d like to add a few items to that, if you don’t already have them packed:

  • Extra clothing, especially rugged clothing.
  • Coats, hats, gloves, boots (especially during wintertime).
  • A tent and sleeping bag (if you have them) or blankets.
  • Whatever cash you have on hand.
  • Extra food and water.

For rebuilding your life, there are a number of other things you’ll need:

  • More clothes, for job interviews and for working.
  • Any valuables you have in your home.
  • Your computer (especially if it has valuable information on it).
  • Tools for your profession (which might include the above-mentioned computer).
  • Copies of all your important documents (birth certificates, marriage license, property deeds, car titles, diplomas and degrees, licenses, kids school records, health records). These can be scanned images on a thumb drive or CD.
  • Photos and other important memories.

Of course, you’re going to be limited in the space you have available, so you’ll have to be selective about what you take. But by taking the time to plan it out before-hand, you will make it much easier to evacuate with everything you really need, when and if the time comes.

Plastic bags are a great way to pack soft items, such as clothing. You can literally grab armfuls of clothing and stuff them in the bags. Being soft and flexible, they can then be stuffed in the trunk of your car or corners of the back seat, without a problem. You’ll find that you can pack more, by using plastic bags, than you can by using suitcases, boxes and plastic bins.

What advice would you add on evacuating a disaster? Share your tips in the section below:

When The Grid Goes Down, Will You Be Ready? Read More Here.

The First 15 Foods You Should Stockpile For Disaster

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The First 15 Foods You Should Stockpile For Disaster

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A good stockpile of food will go a long way toward helping you survive the aftermath of any disaster or life crisis, especially when grocery stores are emptied.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there are people who are not preppers who nevertheless instinctively know to stockpile food. This really isn’t surprising when you consider that through most of mankind’s history, stockpiling food was essential to survival — specifically surviving the winter months. During those months, wildlife is bedded down trying to stay warm and plants are dormant. If one didn’t have a good stockpile of food, their chances of survival were pretty darn slim.

But knowing to stockpile food and knowing what to stockpile are two different things. The vast majority of what the average American family eats is unsuitable for stockpiling, because it falls into one of three categories:

  • Junk food – Lots of carbs, lots of sugar, lots of salt and lots of chemicals, but not much nutrition.
  • Fresh food – Foods that won’t keep without refrigeration.
  • Frozen food – It will begin to spoil within two days of losing electrical power.

So we need to come up with other foods — foods that will give us a lot of nutrition and also have the ability to be stored for a prolonged period of time. Here are what we consider the 15 most important ones:

  1. Beans – This is one of the more common survival foods. Not only are beans plentiful and cheap, but they provide a lot of protein — something that’s hard to find without meat.
  2. White rice – The perfect companion to beans. An excellent source of carbohydrates, and it stores well. [Note: Don’t store brown rice, which contains oils and will spoil.]
  3. Canned vegetables – A good way of adding micro-nutrients to your survival diet. Canned goods keep well, long past the expiration date on the label.
  4. Canned fruit – For something sweet, adding canned fruit allows you a nice change of diet. Being canned, they keep as well as the vegetables do.
  5. Canned meats – Of all the ways of preserving meat, canning is the most secure in protecting the meat from decomposition. While it doesn’t typically have as good a flavor as fresh meat, it still provides animal protein at the most reasonable price you’ll find.
  6. Honey – As long as you can keep the ants out of it, honey keeps forever. Plus, it is beneficial during cold season.
  7. Salt – Nature’s preservative. Most means of preserving foods require the use of salt. In addition, our bodies need to consume salt for survival.
  8. Pasta products – Pasta is a great source of carbohydrates, allowing you a lot of variety in your cooing. Besides that, it’s a great comfort food for kids. Who doesn’t like spaghetti?
  9. Spaghetti sauce – Obviously, you need this to go with the pasta. But it is also great for hiding the flavor of things your family doesn’t like to eat. Pretty much anything, with spaghetti sauce on it, tastes like Italian food — whether you’re talking about some sort of unusual vegetable or a raccoon that you caught pilfering from your garden.
  10. Jerky – While expensive to buy, jerky is pure meat, with only the addition of spices. Its high salt content allows it to store well, making it a great survival food. It can be reconstituted by adding it to soups and allowing it to cook.
  11. Peanut butter – Another great source of protein and another great comfort food, especially for the kiddies. It might be a good idea to stockpile some jelly to go with it.
  12. Wheat flour – For baking, especially baking bread. Bread is an important source of carbohydrates for most Americans. Flour also allows you to shake up the diet with the occasional batch of cookies or a cake.
  13. Baking powder & baking soda – Also for making the bread, cookies or cakes.
  14. Bouillon – Otherwise known as “soup starter,” this allows you to make the broth without having to boil bones on the stove for hours. Soups will probably be an important part of anyone’s diet in a survival situation, as they allow you to eat almost anything. Just throw it together in a pot and you’ve got soup.
  15. Water – We don’t want to forget to stockpile a good supply of water. You’ll go through much more than you expect. Experts recommend a minimum of one gallon per person per day, but remember: That’s just for drinking.

While this doesn’t constitute a complete list of every type of food that you should stockpile, it’s a good starting point. You’ll want more variety than this, but in reality, your family can survive for quite a while with just the 15 things on this list.

As your stockpile grows, add variety to it. One way of doing that is to create a three-week menu, with the idea of repeating that menu over and over. If you have everything you need to cook everything on that menu, you’ll have a fair assortment of food, and enough so that your family shouldn’t grow tired of it.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

The Single Biggest Problem Lurking In Most Survival Preps

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The Single Biggest Problem Lurking In Most Survival Preps

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Prepping can easily become an all-encompassing activity, affecting every area of our lives. That’s why many preppers refer to it as a change in lifestyle, and not simply adding something to their already full plates. That actually makes sense, as the attitudes one needs to develop for prepping require looking at life in a different way and establishing a different set of priorities.

The basic concept of prepping is to make sure that you have everything you need to survive, no matter what comes your way. That’s a pretty broad concept, but one that is actually achievable. After all, our ancestors lived a prepping lifestyle as a matter of course, and they didn’t have as much available to them to work with as we do today.

But the problem with such a broad definition is that it’s easy to have blind spots — areas that we haven’t thought about which could affect our survival. Ultimately, we need to seek out and find solutions to those blind spots so that they don’t come up and bite us at the wrong moment.

One such blind spot is the area of debt. In our modern, materialistic society, we are accustomed to living in debt. In fact, I’d venture to say that there are many preppers who have built their prepping stockpile with credit cards. While that might be okay to get started, if someone doesn’t have the cash on hand, in the long run, it can be devastating.

Debt and Disasters

Here’s the problem, and it’s a problem which comes from a blind spot we all too easily have: The likelihood of a societal-ending event is much lower than is the likelihood of a regional natural disaster.

So, how is that a problem? Because many of us easily slip into the thought pattern of surviving such an event. As such, we don’t think of having to pay off that debt. After all, if an EMP attack were propagated against the United States, all the computers which house the records of our massive debt would be fried. Nobody could collect, because they wouldn’t be able to prove that we owe the money. And if the company is several states away, with no mail delivery, how could we pay anyway?

Emergency Seed Bank Provides THOUSANDS Of Pounds Of Food

The Single Biggest Problem Lurking In Most Survival Preps

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But a regional disaster isn’t going to do a thing to make those records disappear. So, in addition to trying to survive and rebuild our lives, we’ll have the problem of trying to pay for our homes, our cars and just about everything else we need, simply because we bought it on credit.

In such a situation, a family easily could lose their car or even their home if they didn’t have the cash reserves necessary to continue their monthly payments. Rather than helping them to survive, that would make their survival problem infinitely more difficult, as they would lose their shelter and probably a whole lot more.

A Potential Financial Collapse

But there’s another potential disaster that could prove even worse for those preppers who are in debt. That is, a financial collapse. The little hiccup we had in 2008 to 2009 caused millions of families to lose their homes. What would a nationwide depression do?

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate hit a whopping 25 percent, meaning that one out of every four families had no income. Many of those families lost their homes, leaving them on the streets and searching for shelter. In the process of losing their homes, they lost many of their possessions, as well.

The same would happen again were we to be hit by another such depression. Considering that financial analysts have been predicting a collapse for years, we need to be ready for it. Perhaps the government and the financial community will be able to prevent such an event, but that’s not something that we can count on.

Your home is your single most important piece of survival equipment. It not only provides your family with shelter, but it is the place where you store your stockpile and other survival gear. When a disaster comes, it will be your home that will protect you. But as long as you owe money on it, there’s a chance you could lose it.

Getting Out of Debt

Granted, paying off a home – or even a car — is a difficult undertaking. This isn’t something that you can solve in a month or even a year. But it does need to be part of your survival planning. Until you own your home, free and clear, you will always have the risk of losing it. From a survival point of view, let alone any other, that’s unacceptable.

The Single Biggest Problem Lurking In Most Survival Preps

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Part of the problem is that most of us have more home and more everything than we can actually afford. The average American family lives off of 110 percent of their income, counting on credit to make up the difference. So, instead of getting out of debt, they’re actually getting more and more in debt.

The first step in getting out of debt is restructuring your finances. No, I’m not talking about restructuring your debt, but rather restructuring your budget. You’ve got to find a way to get to a positive monthly cash flow, rather than a negative one. That will probably mean cutting some things out of your life, and may even include downsizing to something that you can more easily afford.

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There are three major areas of debt that most of us have:

  • Credit card debt.
  • Vehicle debt.
  • Home mortgage debt.

Of the three, the credit card debt is the least important, although that’s the one that experts on debt reduction tell you to get out of first. Their reasoning is that it is smaller than the other two categories, and the interest rate is higher. But from a survival point of view, failing to pay off your credit card isn’t going to cost you anything, simply because there is no collateral for you to lose.

On the other hand, both vehicle debt and home mortgage debt do have collateral, the items you used the loan to buy. So, those are the ones you could lose the fastest. But even there, we can see a distinction between their relative importance, as you don’t necessarily need your car to live, but you do need your home.

So, the number one thing you need to come up with is a plan to pay off your mortgage. That may include paying off the other debt, as well, but the goal isn’t just paying off your cars or your credit cards; it’s paying off your home. Only then will you have the security of knowing it won’t be taken from you at your time of greatest need.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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14 Winter Survival Items Everyone Should Store In Their Vehicle

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14 Winter Survival Items Everyone Should Store In Their Vehicle

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I live in a warm part of the country now, so winter isn’t a big deal. Actually, it’s my favorite time of year, because it’s not hot. But it wasn’t always that way. I grew up and learned to drive in Colorado, where the mountains make it so that a winter blizzard can sneak up on you and leave you stranded before you know it. I can’t remember how many people I rescued; they simply were good drivers who were trapped by winter weather.

I don’t care how good of a driver you are — there are situations where you can’t keep on trucking. I remember an icy parking lot that put me in a snow bank, simply because I couldn’t get enough traction to overcome gravity (the parking lot was sloped, and the exit was uphill). I’ve seen the same happen to truckers, who literally had to bail out of their rigs when gravity overcame friction and their trucks started sliding backwards, down the mountain. Then there were the times when blizzards cut visibility to the point where I or someone else drove off the road, thinking we were driving on it.

That’s why I always kept my car prepared to deal with emergencies, especially the emergency of being stuck in the snow. I never could afford a fancy four-wheel drive, so I was stuck trying to make do with a sedan — and that was in the day when sedans were rear-wheel drive, not front-wheel drive. So they were even worse in the snow.

Preparing my car for winter weather consisted of two basic areas: preparing the car to survive and preparing so that I could survive. Both were necessary, because in the wintertime, that care was an important piece of survival gear.

Preparing The Car To Survive

I’m not a big fan of playing mechanic, although I’ve done more than my fair share through the years. Even worse is having to play mechanic in the cold and snow. I replaced more than one frozen thermostat in below-freezing temperatures before I learned that lesson. After that, I always made sure my car was mechanically ready for the winter.

Wintertime is hard on cars, so they need to be in good shape. The old cars I was driving didn’t automatically have that going for them. So I had to make up for what they lacked. That meant going through the car from end to end, before the first real freeze hit. I checked all the fluids, the rubber on my tires, the battery, and the condition of all of the “regular maintenance” items, like hoses and belts. Better to spend a few bucks replacing one when it’s convenient, than getting stuck because you didn’t (which will cost more).

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The next important thing was the gas tank. In the wintertime, I’d always keep a minimum of half a tank of gas. That way, if I did get stuck somewhere, I could use the engine for heat. Used cautiously, running the engine only in short bursts, that half a tank will last the night.

In addition to those two items, I’d put some things in the trunk, to help my car or the car of someone else who was stranded:

1. Sand – The extra weight of two bags of sand made a huge difference in traction. Of course, that was rear-wheel drive, so it’s not so important today. But if you drive a pickup truck, you’ll need to add some weight over the back wheels, where they are notoriously light.

2. Chains – If your state allows chains, get some. Just be sure to take them off, if you get to dry pavement or even spotty drive pavement. Otherwise, they’ll break.

3. Shovel – You never know when you might have to dig your own car out.

4. Tow strap – I prefer the nylon straps to a chain, but to each his own.

5. Basic tools – For emergency repairs.

6. Spare battery – Batteries are one of the things that go out easily in the cold. I’d carry a spare, as crazy as that might sound. Today, I’d use a lithium ion backup battery pack, such as a Pocket Power X.

I also carried the following:

7. Plastic bags – To use as a makeshift toilet. You don’t want to have to go outside for that. Just do it in the bag and set it outside.

14 Winter Survival Items Everyone Should Store In Their Vehicle

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8. High energy food – High calorie food bars will help your body produce heat.

9. Water – The trick here is keeping it from freezing. I kept mine in the passenger compartment.

10. Flashlight — With extra batteries.

11. Rope – Avoid getting out of the car. But if you have to go outside for some reason, tie one end of the rope to the steering wheel and the other to your wrist. That way, you can always find your way back, even in whiteout conditions.

12. Blankets – A couple of wool blankets makes a world of difference. I carried a couple of old Army blankets. Wool is the only material that maintains some of its insulating value even when wet.

13. Gloves, hats and scarves – An extra set you won’t wear anywhere else.

14. Space blankets, duct tape, candles and matches – More on that in a moment.

Additionally, I carried a full survival kit. Since I didn’t have to carry it on my body, I carried a rather robust one, more along the lines of a bug-out bag. That way, I had enough with me to use, in case I was actually caught in a situation where I would have to walk out. That never happened, but there were places in the mountains where my car might not have been seen if I went off the road.

As part of that kit, I had a portable stove and fuel. That allowed me to prepare warm drinks. You don’t want to eat snow for water, as your body has to warm it. Better to melt that snow and drink hot water, which will add heat to your body, rather than take it away.

Preparing For My Survival

Even with the best driving practices and a properly equipped vehicle, you still might end up off the road in a ditch somewhere. I remember once when the snow had drifted up over the road and I couldn’t get through. So I turned around. But by then the snow had drifted up a couple hundred yards behind me, as well. I was trapped on the road until the next day, even though I had done everything right.

Whether you’re off the road in a snow bank or sitting on the road as I was, you want to stay with your car. While a car isn’t the best shelter there is, it will protect you from the snow, wind and to some extent from the cold. When you’re trapped, you can help it to keep you warm by improving its ability to hold in heat. You’ll need:

  • At least three space blankets.
  • Something to cut them.
  • A roll of duct tape or other strong tape that will stick in cold weather.
  • Some large candles.

Line the inside of the passenger compartment with the space blankets. If you’re alone or just a couple, you can line just the front seat, allowing one of the space blankets to form a curtain behind the seat. So, you’d use one for the dash, down to your feet; one for the roof and curtain behind you; and cut one in half to cover the doors. If you have a family, just extend to include the back seat, as well; but you’ll need a couple more blankets to do that. Fortunately, they’re cheap.

What else do you carry in your car during winter? Share your tips in the section below:

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15 Documents You’ll Need To Rebuild Your Life (Post-Disaster)

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15 Documents You'll Need To Rebuild Your Life (Post-Disaster)

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A big part of survival and preparedness is focused on the big event – like a supervolcano erupting or an EMP attack taking down the grid. But the reality is, we’re much more likely to face those smaller, regional disasters than we are something that takes down the country.

If that’s the case, then one thing that we have to think of is what’s going to happen after the event. Much of our focus is on surviving the disaster itself and its aftermath, when the power is out and supplies are hard to come by. But there will be a time when we recover from that disaster and either return to normal or some new definition of normal.

When that time comes, we need to be ready to rebuild our lives. Not rebuild it as Grizzly Adams — living in a log cabin in the woods — but as normal people, living relatively normal lives: going to work, evenings in front of the TV, and taking the kids to their activities.

Should that happen, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to be able to prove who you are and what property is yours, in order to claim it after the fact.

Documents You Need

So the question is: What documentation do you really need? That’s a tricky one, as none of us know exactly what we’re going to face.

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15 Documents You'll Need To Rebuild Your Life (Post-Disaster)

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We also have to consider the necessity of rebuilding our lives in another location. So, we won’t only need ownership documents for our home and cars, but records of every facet of our lives.

  1. Personal identification — Driver’s licenses, school IDs, passports and anything else that defines you and the various members of your family.
  2. Current ID photos of all family members – Both headshots and full length.
  3. Home title – The ultimate proof of home ownership.
  4. Car titles and registration – For each car, truck, camper, boat, motorcycle or trailer that you own.
  5. Marriage license – Make sure it is a real copy and not just the decorative one that some weddings use.
  6. Birth certificates – For every member of the family.
  7. Licenses – If there is anything you’re licensed or certified to do, then you want to be able to prove it. This includes driver’s license, concealed carry permit, trade licenses, computer certifications, and anything else that you might have to prove to someone.
  8. School records – If you have children in school, make copies of all their records and include them. Make sure you add records of your own education, especially higher education, whether in a university or trade school.
  9. Health records – This one will be a bit difficult, but your doctor’s office should be able to supply you with them. Some medical records can help in identifying people. If you are taking any medications, be sure to have records of what they are and why you are taking them.
  10. Investment records — Copies of stocks, bonds and other negotiable securities.
  11. Bank records — Information on all bank accounts and online financial accounts. You might want to put that in some sort of code, so that others can’t read it easily.
  12. Passwords – Once again, possibly in some simple code.
  13. Tax records – You can be sure that the IRS, like a vampire, will survive.
  14. Work history – If you have to rebuild your life, that might include finding a new job.
  15. Contact information – We no longer learn people’s phone numbers and addresses, counting on our smart phones to remember them for us. Create a list of everyone who is important to you. You may need to find them or call them for help.

Make It Safe And Secure

Obviously, you can make paper copies of some of that, but carrying copies of all of it would require a pretty good size notebook. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue, providing us with the compact means of carrying all of it.

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15 Documents You'll Need To Rebuild Your Life (Post-Disaster)

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I refer to the flash drive. You can put all that, and more, on a flash drive that weighs less than an ounce and easily slips into your pocket. They now have flash drives that will connect to tablets as well, with a micro USB connector on them, in addition to the regular USB connector. Those are better, especially if you are taking a tablet or smartphone along with you.

Scan everything onto your computer and make copies. It would be best to put them into a .PDF format, rather than a .JPG or other image format. Be sure to label them accordingly and create a file system on your flash drive that makes sense. If you ever need those documents, you’ll probably need to be able to find them quickly.

I’d also recommend making a second copy, either on another flash drive or on a CD. This copy should be carried by another family member, so that if one backpack is lost, you don’t lose both copies. Like everything else in survival, redundancy is important.

What would you add to our list? Do you disagree with anything? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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7 Reasons You Gotta Keep Prepping Under Trump

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7 Reasons You Gotta Keep Prepping Under Trump

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The Left has been running scared ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election. Thanks to the media narrative throughout the campaign, they are convinced that Trump is the atheist version of the devil incarnate, out to destroy their god (big government) and everything the progressive left has done to warp the principles of this country.

Liberals, by the droves, are joining the prepping movement: buying guns, stockpiling food and other essential supplies for an expected, coming disaster. Of course, they can’t define the disaster, other than to say it’s the incoming president, but to them, that’s a disaster.

On the other hand, many conservative preppers have put their prepping on hold, as if Trump could single-handedly stop a natural disaster or a terrorist attack on the grid.

A change in the president doesn’t make the world much safer than it was before. Oh, he might be able to enact some laws and initiatives which will eventually make the world a safer place, but only in some ways. Nothing that any president can do will stop a hurricane from hitting our shores. Nor is there much likelihood that any president could truly put a stop to terrorism, no matter how hard he or she tried.

The world is still a dangerous place and is likely to stay that way for as long as we live. Here are seven reasons you should continue prepping:

1. Natural disasters didn’t go away

The most likely disaster that any of us prepare for is a natural disaster. Statistically, we are all likely to live through one or more of these in our lifetime. While not as “sexy” as a nation-crippling EMP, natural disasters are what started the prepping movement. They are the foundation of all that we do.

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No president can stop a natural disaster, at least, not with our current level of technology. We will continue to see natural disasters strike various parts of the country and see people lose their lives and property to them. About the only thing the government can do is improve their ability to react to those disasters — something that I won’t hold my breath waiting for.

2. The power grid is still at risk

The most vulnerable part of our country’s infrastructure is the electrical grid. In pretty much any natural disaster or even a large storm, you can count on the power going out. And it doesn’t even require a storm. Remember the 2003 Northeast blackout that took out power for 55 million people in the Northeast? It all started with a software bug at one utility in Ohio. Then there’s the danger of cyber threats. Gary Davis of the California-based Intel Security said representatives from other nations at the United Nations have told him that their biggest concern is that a “teenager could take down” their country’s power grid. Speaking of cyber threats …

3. Cybersecurity

Worldwide, the problems of cybersecurity have steadily increased. In his New Year’s address, President-elect Trump said that there is no such thing as true security over any electronic means of communication. He recommended putting things on paper and using good old-fashioned snail-mail or couriers, if you want security.

Any country’s power grid is susceptible to hacking. Both China and Russia have invested in this area of warfare, with China being the clear world leader. All it would take is a decision in Beijing, and the lights would go out nationwide in the U.S.

Netflix, Twitter and Amazon all went down in 2016 due to hacker attacks. LogRhythm, which helps companies guard against cyber threats, is predicting the entire “internet will be shut down for up to 24 hours” in 2017 due to cyberattacks.

4. A Carrington Event

The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

Image source: NASA

Our sun is extremely active, with massive solar storms and sunspots appearing and disappearing regularly. We nearly were hit in the 2014, when an extreme solar storm sent electromagnet waves, known as a coronal mass ejection, in our direction, narrowly missing the Earth. Had those waves gone out at a few degrees in different direction, they would have hit us squarely, shutting down not only our grid but every electrical grid in the hemisphere.

The largest solar storm in modern history, knows as the Carrington Event, took place 1859. Since there was no grid and virtually no electronic equipment to be damaged, the storm had little effect other than to damage some telegraph machines. But if it such a thing happens again today, it will be devastating.

5. EMP attack

Then there’s the risk of an enemy attacking us by EMP. As best I know, neither Iran nor North Korea are running scared of Trump. Both of those countries are hard at work on both their nuclear programs and their missile programs. The only question is whether Iran would attack Israel or the United States first.

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Similar to a Carrington-type event, a properly run EMP attack would shut down the grid for the foreseeable future, with devastating results. According to a report to Congress by the EMP Commission, as much as 90 percent of the population would die in the first year following such an attack.

6. The threat of terrorism

While Trump says he takes the threat of extremist Muslim terrorism seriously, it will take time for any of his initiatives to make a dent in terrorism, let alone bring it to a stop. The cancer of terrorism is loose in the world — and it’s not going to go away quickly. As the United States and countries throughout Europe and the Middle East have discovered, it is difficult to prevent lone wolf terrorists.

7. A possible economic collapse

There have been rumors of a pending economic collapse for years, ever since the national debt spiraled out of control. Yet the collapse hasn’t yet happened. But the conditions which create the concern of a collapse have not gone away.

The globalists control much of the world’s monetary supply, giving them a huge amount of leverage to control world events. It is they, more than any other group, who create economic rises and falls and can even orchestrate a financial collapse. If they decide a financial collapse is in their best interest — not the best interest of the USA, mind you — they will make it happen.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

hydrogen peroxide report

19 ‘Must-Haves’ Most Everyone Forgets To Stockpile

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19 ‘Must-Haves’ Most People Forget To Stockpile

Image source: BlueMountainFoodPantry

For the dedicated homesteader or prepper, stockpiling isn’t something with a beginning or an end, it just is. You start your adventure by building a stockpile of food and you never really end it. While the heavy push for stockpiling might come to an end, the reality of stockpiling never does. You just find more and more things that you should add to your stockpile, wondering why you hadn’t thought of them before.

The thing is, without knowing beforehand what sorts of emergencies we might be faced with, there’s really no way of knowing everything we are going to need. So, we have to make some assumptions and build our stockpile based on them. But those assumptions can change with time, which means that our need for certain supplies might change, as well. So, we just keep adding and adding, making sure we have what we’ll need, when the time comes.

There are countless lists out there of things you should stockpile. Most have more or less the same things on them — perhaps because we tend to learn from each other. That’s good on one hand, but it means that everyone is likely to be forgetting the same things.

That’s where this list comes in. I’ve been at this for a while, and I’ve collected some things in my stockpile which I’ve discovered others tend to forget. So, I’m going to try and plug those holes. Hopefully, you’ll find a few things on this list which you hadn’t thought of before. Even better would be to find that you’ve thought of the same things that I have, and you don’t have any holes in your stockpile. Either way, I expect this to be useful for you to check yourself against.

Food

Food is where we all start, but have you thought of these?

19 ‘Must-Haves’ Most People Forget To Stockpile

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1. Spices. Your meals are going to get awfully bland if you don’t have spices to flavor them. What you have in your kitchen might last a few months, but that’s about it.

2. Salt. Everyone has salt in their stockpile, but do you have enough? Salt isn’t just necessary for flavoring our food; it’s also for preserving meat. If you’re going to hunt at all, you need a couple hundred pounds of salt on hand for meat preservation.

3. Bouillon. Otherwise known as soup starter, mixed with water, this provides you with the stock. Somehow, I think soups are going to be a big deal in any post-disaster menu.

Food Production

Most of us are planning on producing at least some of our own food, if not all of it, in the wake of a disaster. But do you have everything you need to expand your garden to that size? A 20-foot garden plot isn’t going to be enough; you’re going to need to turn your entire backyard into a garden.

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4. Fertilizer. Few people bother stockpiling fertilizer, but if you’re going to have to expand your garden rapidly, you’re going to need a mountain of it. The best, of course, is a mountain of compost.

5. Animal feed. Those chickens, rabbits or goats you have are going to need to eat — or you won’t be able to eat them. Few people bother growing feed for their animals. So you’d better have something on hand.

6. Insecticides. The wrong bugs could cause you to lose your entire garden. I don’t want to think of how much I’ve lost to grub worms, let alone other types of pests. You probably won’t be able to find the insecticides – organic or otherwise — you need after a disaster.

Health

We all know we need a first-aid kit, although most don’t go far enough in stockpiling replacement supplies for theirs. But there are a few other key items you might want to consider.

7. Vitamins. If your diet isn’t going to be as well-balanced as it should be, a good quality multivitamin might go a long way towards keeping your health up.

19 ‘Must-Haves’ Most People Forget To Stockpile

Image source: Pixabay.com

8. Spare glasses. For those who wear prescription glasses, this will be a necessity if they are going to do anything to help keep their families alive.

9. Reading glasses. Even if you don’t need them now, don’t assume you never will. Reading glasses are great for any close-up work or working with small things.

10. Activated carbon (sometimes called activated charcoal). This is useful for a variety of things, such as making your own gas masks and purifying water. It also can be taken for stomach problems.

11. Spares for your first-aid kit. I know I just said this, but it can’t be overstated.

Repairs

We all have pieces of equipment that we’re planning on using to help us stay alive after a disaster. But what if something happens to that equipment? Are you prepared to make even simple repairs? If not, that wonderful tool or other gadget might just turn into a paperweight.

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12. Coleman lantern pump rebuild kit. If you have the old style Coleman lanterns or their dual-fuel stove, you know about the pump in the fuel tank. These last well, but eventually need new seals. A rebuild kit doesn’t cost much and can keep that equipment working.

13. Small engine parts. If you’re planning on using any gas-powered tools, such as a chainsaw or a roto-tiller, you’d better have at least the basic parts, such as spark plugs, air filters and priming bulbs. That way, you can keep them running.

14. Specific parts for critical equipment. Everything has critical parts and short-life parts in it. The manufacturers should be able to tell you what those are and be selling spares. Make sure you put in a good supply.

15. Water filters. If you’re using any sort of water filtration system which has filter cartridges, figure out how many filters you need to have and then multiply it by about 10. You can’t have enough.

Clothing

Few people think about stockpiling clothing — which means that there will be a lot of people wondering what to do when the time comes. A few specific things you need to think of are:

19 ‘Must-Haves’ Most People Forget To Stockpile

Image source: Pixabay.com

16. Kids’ clothing. Kids grow a lot, and you need to have larger sizes on hand than what they are using now.

17. Work gloves. I guarantee you, you’ll need them. But they tend to wear out, so have some spares.

18. Rough clothing. Most of us don’t wear very rugged clothing. If you don’t, stock up.

19. Work or hiking boots. Especially important if you have to bug out.

That’s our list – what would you add to it? Share your tips in the section below:

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7 Overlooked Forms Of Shelters When Society Collapses

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7 Overlooked Forms Of Shelters When Society Collapses

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Most of us are planning on “bugging in” when a disaster strikes. Generally speaking, that’s a much more practical solution for people who don’t have a survival retreat off in the woods somewhere. Not only does your home provide you with shelter, but it has all of your survival equipment and supplies, as well as your other possessions. But what do you do if something happens to your home?

There is always a risk of your home taking a hit during a natural or man-made disaster. Some disasters, like earthquakes and tornadoes, are known for destroying houses. If that should happen to you, then you will need an instant replacement. If you haven’t thought about it beforehand, then you might not have an idea of where to go or what to do.

To start with, evaluate the condition of your home. If part of it is still standing, then you might be able to take shelter there, at least on a temporary basis. You only want to do this if the part that is standing is structurally sound, though. If it is likely to fall, you don’t want to be trapped inside.

If you find that you have to abandon your home during a societal collapse, there are a number of places around you, many of which may very well be excellent shelters to use. While they may not be as nice to stay in as your home, neither is a makeshift shelter or a tent off in the woods somewhere.

1. Outbuildings

If you have outbuildings on your property, that might be a good starting point. Surprisingly, a shed or detached garage might survive a situation in which the house is destroyed. While that building may not be as well constructed as the home was, it might have been sheltered by the home itself.

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7 Overlooked Forms Of Shelters When Society Collapses

Image source: Pixabay.com

Granted, a shed or garage isn’t a very comfortable or even nice place to lay your head to rest, but it has the advantage of being close to your home. That means you can stay close to your possessions. If you are going to begin salvage operations — to get what you can out of your damaged home — then it helps to stay close. Besides, those salvaged items can be used to make your temporary shelter more comfortable.

2. Your place of business

If you own a business, then you probably have an alternate shelter that you have legal title to, even if it is rented. Your office or store may very well survive something that damages your home, simply because commercial buildings are often stronger than residences. Their simpler construction, lack of windows and need to support more weight on the floor leads to a more robust building design.

If you have such a place, it would be good to stock some emergency supplies and equipment there, so that in the case of a disaster, it’s easy to move your family to the workplace. While you probably won’t want to abandon the equipment and supplies you have at home, what you keep at your business will help your family to survive while you are salvaging whatever you can.

3. Abandoned homes

Whatever makes your home uninhabitable may make it so that many other people flee. If that happens, then there will probably be a good assortment of abandoned homes available in the neighborhood. (Note: Use this option only as a last resort in a societal collapse.) The problem with this is that you would technically be trespassing and if the person came back, the situation could become a bit sticky. For this reason, I wouldn’t be too quick to move into someone else’s home.

If forced to move into someone else’s home, it is wise always to treat it as if it were theirs and not mine. In other words, I would take care of their home, leaving their possessions alone as much as possible. While I would use their furniture and kitchenware, I wouldn’t remove anything from their home or rearrange things any more than absolutely necessary. That way, if they were to come back, I could at least show that I’ve cared for their home.

Having said that, moving into an abandoned home is probably the most comfortable option you have for an urban survival shelter in an emergency situation. While it wouldn’t be your home, it would be a home, with all the comforts to be expected.

4. An abandoned business

There are always abandoned buildings around that were once stores, warehouses and other businesses. Any of these provide the basics necessary for a shelter. They can keep the weather out and protect your family. At the same time, businesses usually have a lot of open space, which you can configure as you need for your family. They also often have bathrooms, which might still work if there is water service.

While I wouldn’t hesitate to use an abandoned business as a survival shelter, I wouldn’t expect much more of it than it to be something to help protect me from the weather. I would operate under the assumption that anything I need would have to be brought in.

7 Overlooked Forms Of Shelters When Society Collapses

Image source: Pixabay.com

One nice thing about abandoned businesses is that you can pre-plan. Just by keeping your eyes open for businesses that close in your area, you can know which businesses would be available in the case you need an emergency shelter. A little further investigation could show how you can get into those buildings if you have to use them as a shelter.

5. A vehicle

This may sound a bit unusual, but survival situations are unusual. A vehicle can actually be a fairly good, although small shelter, in times of need. I lived in a motorhome for a number of years, traveling the country. Although the space was limited, I had everything I needed. In a pinch, I could have lived in a much smaller vehicle if needed.

A prepared vehicle is easier to live in. But even if your vehicle isn’t prepared ahead of time, there are things you can do to make it work. Adding a shell to the back of a pickup or removing the back seats from a van creates a living space. A mattress in that area makes a comfortable sleeping area. Camping equipment, such as a camp stove, can quickly turn that makeshift vehicle shelter into something rather comfortable and workable.

6. An abandoned basement

Basements are the part of any structure that are most likely to survive. As such, they can be used as a place of refuge, even when the rest of the building has been destroyed. Often, the floor above the basement will remain intact even when the rest of the building is destroyed. That can turn the basement into an underground home.

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During World War II, much of Europe was destroyed. As the various armies battled across the landscape, defenders would take refuge in buildings, using them as makeshift pillboxes. The attackers then had to destroy those buildings, clearing out the soldiers. The residents of those buildings often took refuge in the basement.

While a basement isn’t a very comfortable shelter, it worked for the Europeans. At a minimum, it protected many of them from being killed by shrapnel and gunfire. Once the fighting moved on, many stayed in the basements because the houses and apartments above were destroyed. While it wasn’t as comfortable as home, it was shelter.

7. The underground

Speaking of basements, underground structures of many types have been used as shelters at one time or another. The catacombs of France are probably the most famous of these. But those aren’t the only underground shelters that have been used. Governments often build underground bunkers to hide activities, simply because they are well hidden.

Of course, you won’t be able to get into an underground bunker that the government is using, but many cities nevertheless have some sort of underground. This could be a storm sewer system (like the catacombs) or a subway system. Some cities even have commercial areas that are underground. Regardless of why the structure is underground, it is much more likely to survive many a calamity than anything above ground is. That makes it possible to use as an emergency shelter.

What type of shelter would you use? Share your tips in the section below:

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15 Things Cowboys Carried With Them In The Wild West To Survive

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15 Things Cowboys Carried With Them In The Wild West To Survive

Those of us who are fascinated with life in the “Wild West,” beyond what Hollywood shows us, realize that our pioneering forefathers had it hard. True history, not the kind shown on Netflix, isn’t filled with gunfighters and stick-up artists, but rather hard-working men and women who faced deadly situations on a regular basis. While some succumbed to the dangers of the West, many more survived.

We can honestly say that each and every person who took part in settling the West was a survivalist — especially those who chose to live outside the city. Whether they were farmers, ranchers, prospectors or shepherds, their first job was to survive. So everything they did and pretty much every item they owned was centered around that need.

The average rancher had few permanent employees. A few hands to check the herds and ride the range to look for dangers that might hurt or kill the cattle were all he needed. Many would try to pick terrain to settle on, which would naturally mitigate against the cattle wandering. One of the best things for this was water.

Cattle, of course, need water, and few will wander beyond a day’s walk from that water, unless being driven by men or predators. In much of the West, where water is scarce, laying claim to land with a spring or creek on it gave ranchers access not only to much-needed hydration, but an easy way of keeping their cattle home where they belonged. That reduced the labor they needed to hire — an important factor in a land where cash money was hard to come by.

But there were times when cattle operations needed more hands than the few semi-permanent staff. That was at roundup time and for a cattle drive. For these all-important events, ranchers would hire some of the many “drifters” who roamed the West, moving from ranch to ranch, often riding the “grub line” until they could find a job.

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This made the cowboy’s life one of survival. He literally lived out of his bug-out-bag. Of course, they didn’t call it that back then. Rather, they called it their “bed roll.” His bed roll, his saddle bags (which served as his survival kit) and his saddle were about all the worldly goods that most cowboys owned. Many didn’t even own their own horses, but rather rode those that belonged to the ranches they worked.

So, if the cowboy’s blanket roll and saddlebags were respectively his bug-out-bag and survival kit, what sorts of things did he carry in them?

1. A good knife

The first thing that any cowboy had was a good knife. They didn’t have hatchets, machetes, wire saws and multi-tools like we carry in our bug-out bags today. Their only tool was a knife. So it was important to have a good one. This would usually be a mid-sized sheath knife, which was used for everything from cutting wood to skinning game.

Few had a honing stone, but the cowboys would often sharpen their knives on whatever stones they could find. A good chunk of granite or a piece of sandstone — it didn’t matter. Either one became a honing stone in turn.

2. Guns and ammo

15 Things Cowboys Carried With Them In The Wild West To SurviveFew cowboys roamed the West without a firearm. While they weren’t all laden down with guns, as we see in the movies, they pretty much all had something. It might be a pistol, but in most cases it was a rifle. The pistol was more convenient, but the rifle was better for hunting game or fighting Indians.

Many of the cowboys had been soldiers in the Civil War. When they were discharged, they were allowed to take their guns with them. This meant that most had long guns, even if they didn’t have a pistol.

Rarely did the cowboy carry his gun on him, unless he was on the trail. It was too cumbersome and got in the way of handling cattle. But when on a trail drive, they pretty much always went armed. In the case of a stampede, that gun might be the only thing to save your life.

3. Fire-starting

A tinder box was an essential piece of every cowboy’s kit. In it, he would store bits of tinder that he gathered along the trail, always ensuring that he had some with him. He’d also keep a piece of flint in it, often sewn into a leather cover, thus improving his grip on it. If he had matches, they’d be in the tinder box, as well.

4. Canteen of water

The canteen was an essential piece of equipment, especially in terrain where water was scarce. The typical canteen was about 2-1/2 quarts. It would be covered with layers of scrap fabric, usually hand-sewn by the owner. By soaking that fabric in water, when he filled his canteen, the cowboy could keep his water cool.

The first thing that a cowboy did when he stopped at water was to fill his canteen, even before drinking. That way, if he had to leave in a hurry, he had a full canteen to take with him. It didn’t matter if he was only going to town, he’d stop at the water trough and fill his canteen, often dumping out the old water to replace it with fresh water.

5. Cookware

A cowboy’s cook set was pretty minimal, but he usually had one. This would consist of a small pot, a coffee pot, a tin plate and a cup. That was enough for him to cook anything he needed to, out on the trail. Coffee was prized, and having a coffee pot to make coffee was important to men who spent 14 or more hours per day in the saddle, in all kinds of weather.

6. Food

A cowboy never left the bunkhouse without taking some food with him. He never knew what the day would bring or even whether he’d make it back to the bunkhouse that night. So, he kept a little bit of food in his saddlebags at all time. This could include:

  • Bacon — a favorite staple in the West.
  • Biscuits or hard tack.
  • Coffee & sugar.
  • Dried fruit (if they could get it).

Range eating usually wasn’t all that good. The food that the cowboy carried was intended to keep him going if he couldn’t make it back. Beans and bread were common fare, along with just about any type of meat imaginable. But they rarely carried that with them. Those were things kept in the chuck wagon or back at the ranch.

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It was common for cowboys to hunt their meat in order to avoid eating the cattle they were raising. It’s not that cowboys had anything against beef, but rather that those cattle were worth money. If they killed one, it was highly unlikely that they could preserve the meat, so much of it would be lost.

7. Fishing line & hook

15 Things Cowboys Carried With Them In The Wild West To SurviveMany cowboys carried some line and a hook, so that they could catch fish when they camped by the water. This wasn’t a given, but it wasn’t uncommon, either. They’d dig up worms to use as bait, or find grubs, crickets and other insects.

8. Piggin strings

Piggin strings are thin strips of leather or rawhide, like leather boot laces. Their main purpose was for tying the feet of the cattle when thrown for branding or castration. However, they became the cowboy’s equivalent of paracord, using it wherever they needed cordage. A typical cowboy kept a few pieces of piggin string in their pockets, along with a ball in their saddlebags.

9. Rain slicker

Storms could come up suddenly in the West, especially for those who were in the mountains. Those could be dangerous for cowboys, drenching them and causing hypothermia. They’d keep their rain slicker tied behind their saddle, either in a small blanket roll or alone, where it was ready at hand. That way, they could put it on, without having to dismount.

10. Blankets

An actual blanket roll was much bigger than what we are used to seeing in the movies. It could be as much as a foot in diameter. That was too big to carry while riding the range. On the trail, the cowboys would leave their blanket rolls in the chuck wagon, retrieving them at night. In the morning, they’d roll up their blankets once again, with their other possessions inside. At the home ranch, those possessions were in the bunkhouse.

But no matter what, a cowboy would have a couple of blankets tied behind their saddle. Call it the predecessor to the sleeping bag. Few would only want one blanket, as that wasn’t enough to deal with the fall and winter chill.

11. Coat

Just as today, coats were seasonal things. But you’d never find a cowboy leaving the home ranch, without a coat, if there was any chance of it getting cold. If they didn’t wear it, they’d tie it behind their saddle, along with their blankets and rain slicker.

Those that could get them would have gloves, or more likely mittens. A slit would be cut in the mittens, allowing the index finger to slide out when they needed to do something that required some dexterity. But mittens were safer than gloves, as they would allow the fingers to share heat, lowering the chance of frostbite.

Few cowboys could afford work gloves. Rather, their hands became as tough as leather from the work that they did. It’s not that they wouldn’t have used the work gloves, if they had them; but a cowboy’s wage wasn’t enough to afford many luxuries.

12. Bandana

The bandana was a useful part of any cowboy’s kit. More than anything, it was used as a dust filter over the nose and mouth. This was especially important when “riding drag” behind a herd. But the bandana served many other purposes, as well, including protecting the neck from the sun, being a handy washcloth and serving as an emergency bandage.

13. Tobacco

cowboys-1-cm-russellEven cowboys who didn’t smoke tended to carry tobacco. At that time, tobacco was the ultimate trade good. Offering someone a smoke was often the start of many a conversation, especially out on the trail.

14. Books

Surprisingly, many cowboys carried books with them. A large number were much more highly educated than you’d expect, having come from the East and being products of eastern schools, even universities. They were drawn to the West for a variety of reasons, and many gave up a life of wealth and position for the opportunity to travel.

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Reading material was highly prized in the West. Cowboys would carry books along with them, trading them with each other as the opportunity arose. In this way, they were able to experience a wide variety of reading material while not having to carry much with them.

15. Extra clothes

Cowboys didn’t change their clothes and bathe every day, like we do today. Nevertheless, having a bath and getting cleaned up was one of the joys of coming off the trail. While they didn’t have an extensive wardrobe, most had a couple of changes of clothes, including one nice suit. They’d keep that in their blanket roll, taking it out for church and other important events.

A Final Word

When you compare this list to our modern bug-out-bag, there seems to be a lot missing. But the cowboys of the past could stay alive with the things in this list. Few carried more, as their horses would tire too quickly if they were overloaded. And few cowboys could afford a pack horse, in addition to the one they were riding. So, they were limited in what they could carry by their lifestyle.

Nevertheless, the cowboy had the essentials. Of course, they were a much hardier breed than we are today. For them, hardship was a daily occurrence, and danger was their constant companion. They were better suited for survival than we are today. Maybe if we lived our lives on the back of a horse, instead of sitting in front of a computer, we’d be, too.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

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Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Celebrate Christmas Like You Do

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Artist: Edmund Restein

Artist: Edmund Restein

As we enjoy the Christmas season, many people are thinking about tradition. For us here in America, Christmas has become a time of family traditions, where we look back to a simpler time and rekindle memories of our youth and imagined memories of our grandparents’ youth, as well.

But the traditions we think of as “old traditions” aren’t as old as we like to think. The Christmas celebration, as we know it, is much different than Christmas of old. While many of the symbols we recognize as being part of Christmas existed in the beginning of the 1800s, they weren’t all widely used. It was through the years of the 1800s that our Christmas traditions, as we know them today, became widespread American traditions.

This was actually an important part of American history, as the country was very divided through the 1800s. Not only did we fight the Civil War during that time, but society as a whole was fragmented. Cultural groups were widely separated and geographic distance made it difficult for there to be any cohesion in a land as vast as the United States of America.

But communications also were growing during those years. In 1860, the Pony Express connected the East and West Coasts in a way that had not previously existed. The very next year the Pony Express was supplanted by the first intercontinental railway, allowing people to travel from coast to coast in three and a half days. All this happened at the same time as an ever-faster means of communication – the telegraph. The first telegraph lines to cross the continent were strung by the railway right of way.

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This increased communication heightened the need for unifying the country, but it was war that found us first. On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Four long years later, it ended, and the people of the United States started on the even longer road to healing. A part of that healing process was the unifying of our Christmas traditions.

Solely A European Holiday?

While Christmas existed as a holiday before this time, it wasn’t celebrated by all. Basically, it was a European holiday and so was only celebrated by those whose ancestors had come from Europe. Even then, not everyone joined in the celebration. The early Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Christmas, because they didn’t see it mentioned in the Bible. Of all of the European countries, Germany made the most of Christmas; many of our traditions can trace their roots to that country.

Those early Christmas celebrations weren’t the mass-marketed, highly commercialized festivities we have today. Rather, the Christmas celebration was something done in the family, in the church and in the neighborhood. Church was an important part of the celebration, with many people going to church both on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day.

Gift-giving was always a part of Christmas — for those who could afford it. But the gifts that were given were largely homemade. Being personal, they were considered superior to anything store-bought. As with clothing, store-bought gifts were only for those who couldn’t do any better.

Your Great Grandparents Didn’t Celebrate Christmas Like You Do

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Eating a feast was an important part of celebrating Christmas, much as it is today. Cooking started weeks in advance, as mincemeat and plum pudding needed time to ferment. Christmas cookies and pies were common, as people ate the best of what they had. For those who could afford it, that meant beef or a ham.

Christmas became a very social time, with carolers going from door to door, singing. It would be impolite not to invite them in for a warm cup of wassail, turning every caroling event into a moving party, with time taken at each home to visit and wish the inhabitants a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Gets Commercialized

The commercialism of Christmas didn’t really start until after the Civil War and was stronger in New England — where much of the country’s wealth was concentrated — than it was in other parts of the country. Merchants responded to the needs of those celebrating the holidays first in providing factory-made ornaments for the home, then Christmas cards and finally the gifts that people gave.

Commercial gift-giving also lent rise to the idea of wrapping gifts, increasing the suspense and thereby the recipient’s joy. Large retailers began offering simple wrapping as a way of making those gifts more special, so that they could compete with homemade gifts. Eventually, the tradition of wrapping gifts became the norm and wrappings were developed specially for that purpose.

But even then, gift-giving was much more limited than what we have today. Our English and German ancestors brought to those stores the idea of Father Christmas, who eventually became our beloved Santa Claus. Children hung stockings for Father Christmas to fill, which at that time were real stockings.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), the creator of Little House on the Prairie, wrote of her Christmas treasures in one year’s stocking. She was delighted to find a shiny new tin cup, a peppermint candy, a heart-shaped cake and a brand new penny. In that time, that was a treasure trove of wealth on Christmas morning.

Your Great Grandparents Didn’t Celebrate Christmas Like You Do

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Christmas cards were a unique American invention, albeit by a German immigrant. Louis Prang (1824-1909) brought the idea to the forefront as a substitute for inexpensive gifts. Originally, these cards were small works of art, intended to adorn the home after the holidays were over. Prang even had art contests every year, seeking our original artwork to put on his cards.

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Early Christmas trees weren’t bedecked with commercial ornaments. That didn’t come about until the 1870s and later. Instead, families would decorate their trees with what they had on hand. This often included the bounty they had gleaned from nature, as fruit and berries were the early ornaments, following after the Jewish tradition of decorating the Sukkah for the Feast of Tabernacles. Ribbons, cookies and hard candies were added to the fruit, nuts and berries, making those trees into a multi-colored joy.

The lights on the tree were originally candles. While dangerous, they were normally only lit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The idea was started by Martin Luther, the same man who started the Reformation. He had been in the woods praying at night and saw the beauty of the starlight reflecting off the icicles on the pine trees. Wanting to share this with his children, he put candles on the family tree. When German Christians immigrated to the United States, they brought this tradition with them.

All of these traditions, most of which have survived to today, helped to bring the American people together, not as separate ethnic groups living in the same land, but as Americans. Celebrating a common holiday, with common traditions, helped to make us one common people.

Sadly, there are those who want to squash some of those traditions, taking Christmas, and especially Christ, out of the holiday. Yet it was the celebration of His birth which helped our country to heal and brought people together after the Civil War. The destruction of such a unifying celebration can do nothing to bring us closer together, but rather the opposite; it could become one more wedge, used to separate the American people into smaller and smaller groups, driving a wedge between us.

Let us continue to celebrate Christmas as what it is. Better yet, let us revive some of the old customs, sharing time with family, friends and neighbors. Let it become once more a unifying force, bringing the nation back together again.

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Emergency Heat: The 6 Best Ways To Stay Warm When Disaster Strikes

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Emergency Heat: The 6 Best Ways To Stay Warm When Disaster Strikes

Because they are a fire hazard and a source of toxic fumes, it is a bad idea to use an oven to stay warm. Image source: State Farm. License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Anyone who has ever heard of the “rule of 3s” knows that one of the most important survival needs we all have is heating. It doesn’t matter if you are hiding out in your basement or have bugged out to a secret location in the woods, you’ve got to have heat. A number of the survival things we do, such as building shelter, wearing clothes and, of course, starting fires, are all part of fulfilling that need.

That’s why many homesteaders have fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. We recognize this need and try to prepare for it. But what if something goes wrong? What if something happens to the wood-burning stove, rendering it useless? Or what if someone lives in an apartment or home without a stove – and the electricity goes out? What can be done then? Are there other options?

Fortunately, there are always other options.

Let me say here that you shouldn’t limit yourself only to one option on anything. If your Plan A to heat your home is to use your fireplace and you don’t have a Plan B, you’re looking for trouble. While there isn’t much that can go wrong with a fireplace, strange things happen. Damage to your home might make it impossible to use the fireplace or even to use the room that the fireplace is in.

So, what alternate heating can we use for our homes, besides heating with wood?

1. Propane

One abundant fuel source that people use for heating their homes is propane. I’m sure you’ve seen houses or even house trailers with a propane tank out back. The gas company comes and fills it up once a year, and the family has a constant supply of propane gas to power their heat, warm their water and even provide a fire in a fake fireplace.

The great advantage to that system is that you have control over your supply of propane. With the tank in your backyard, it doesn’t matter if the electricity goes out – you’ve got gas.

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You can even improve on this by having the gas company install a second tank. It might take a little talking to get them to do that, but it will be worth it. That extra tank of gas will give you enough time and heat to keep your home humming along, even in the event of something catastrophic happening to the power grid. (Note: Never use an oven to heat your home. It is a fire hazard and a source of toxic fumes.)

2. Catalytic heater

The best way of using propane is with a catalytic heater. These come in various sizes and use a ceramic element. The propane burns more on the level of coals in a fire, rather than an open flame. This makes it safer and helps to prevent using the propane up too quickly.

These heaters are highly efficient. They also come in smaller versions, which will hook up to the top of a portable propane tank, such as the type used for a barbecue grille. That makes them usable, even if you don’t have a 500-gallon propane tank in the backyard. Simply get a few portable tanks and fill them up. You’ll have enough heat to last a while.

3. Kerosene

Emergency Heat: The 6 Best Ways To Stay Warm When Disaster Strikes

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Kerosene heaters are another excellent way of heating, without using electricity or wood. Of course, you only want to use kerosene heaters in areas of the country where kerosene is readily available. In some places, you can buy it through gas stations, but in other parts of the country, the only source is a paint store. That makes it too expensive to be practical.

I used a kerosene heater for my office when I lived in upstate New York. My office was in an unheated, uninsulated attic, but with the kerosene heater, I was able to keep it warm. It didn’t cost me a whole lot to use it, either.

4. Passive solar

Passive solar homes are designed and built specifically to harvest sunlight and convert it to heat. But even if your home was not built as a solar home, you can still take advantage of solar power. If you have a number of well-insulated south-facing windows, you may be able to use the sunlight streaming through those windows to (somewhat) heat your home.

You need something black for the sunlight to fall on. If you have black carpet or a black flagstone floor, that would be perfect.

5. Solar heat exchanger

Another option to make use of that solar power coming in your windows is to make a solar heat exchanger. This is nothing more than a plenum for air to pass through, where it will be heated by the sunlight. The plenum needs openings at both the top and the bottom, so that cool air can enter in the bottom and warmed air can exit out the top. This will happen with natural convection, eliminating the need to use any electrical power.

Many people make these plenums by cutting the tops and bottoms out of aluminum cans and gluing them together. The cans are then painted flat black, so that they will absorb the sunlight well. Aluminum is a good material for this, because it has one of the highest thermal conductivities of any material you could use.

If you don’t have access to a good stock of aluminum cans, you can accomplish the same thing by closing off the window opening from the inside, leaving about an inch of space at the top and bottom. The side facing the sun has to be painted black, preferably flat black. Whatever material you have available would work, such as plywood or cardboard. But ideally, you’ll cover the side (the side facing the sun) with aluminum, painted black.

6. Ceramic pot heater

Another option is to create a heater from ceramic flower pots. Two pots can be put together, with one upside-down on top of the other. This creates a container with empty space inside. Put a candle, oil-burning lamp or a candle made out of a can of vegetable shortening inside. When lit, it will heat up the ceramic, which will radiate heat into the room.

Don’t Forget to Dress Warm

Your body is generating heat all the time. If you’re trying to survive, don’t take for granted the heat that it is generating. Be sure to dress warmly so that you can keep that heat in rather than having it radiate into the air around you and then trying to replace it. The single most important part of keeping warm is to wear a hat, as about one-fourth of the body’s blood supply goes to the head. If you don’t wear a hat, too much of that heat is radiating out of our head and away from the body.

What advice would you add on emergency heat? Share your tips in the section below:

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How To Start A Survival Fire When It’s Cold, Wet & Miserable

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How To Start A Survival Fire When It’s Cold, Wet & Miserable

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With winter weather finally here in most of the country, it’s a good idea to keep yourself ready to start a fire. We aren’t normally warned about pending survival situations, so it’s important to carry an EDC bag or survival kit with us at all times. That ounce of prevention really is worth much more than a pound (or three) of cure.

If there’s ever a time when starting a fire is critical, it’s in cold weather. The biggest survival danger we face in the wintertime is hypothermia. Cold weather is bad enough on its own, but if you happen to fall in a river, or otherwise get wet, your chances of survival drop from difficult to very iffy indeed.

But starting a fire in cold weather isn’t anywhere near as easy as it is in warm weather. Not only are you fighting the difficulties of heavy clothing and your body being made stiff from the cold, but finding dry fuel and a good place for a fire are much more difficult in the cold. On top of that, it seems like most fire-starters just don’t want to work as good when it’s cold outside.

Locating the Fire

Finding a good location for your fire is even more critical in cold weather than it is at other times. To start with, the ground may not be dry. Chances are, things will be covered with snow, making it hard to find good, clear locations. If they aren’t covered with snow, then you might find that all you have is frozen ground. That won’t work well, either, as the fire will melt the water in the ground, which will then try to extinguish the fire.

Your best bet is a bed of stones — not just a circle of stones around the fire, but stones under the fire, as well. That will not only protect your fire from the wet ground, but also from any water from melting snow that decides it wants to try and run through your fire pit.

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You can easily make a broom out of pine branches to clear off an area and find the stones you need for your fire. If no pine trees are available, then you might want to try pulling up a handful of long dried grass.

Finding Dry Fuel

Fuel can be deceptive in the wintertime; that which looks dry might not be. The problem is that any water in the wood is probably frozen, making the wood seem dry. Unless it is coated in snow or ice, a branch laying on the ground will look dry, even if it’s filled with ice.

Always check the weight of any branches you pick up. With experience, you’ll soon have a pretty good idea how much a dry branch of a certain size should weigh. Try comparing dry branches to freshly cut, green branches sometime, and you’ll see that the green branches weigh considerably more. So, if the branch is heavier than that, it’s most likely not a dry branch.

Look for dry branches in the same places you would if it were raining. That means sheltered areas where the rain won’t fall directly on them, while being off the ground so that they don’t soak up water from the ground. One of my favorite such places is the underside of deadfall trees. There are usually a whole bunch of dry branches which can be broken off easily.

Dry Tinder

How To Start A Survival Fire When It’s Cold, Wet & Miserable

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The bigger problem is going to be in finding anything you can use as tinder. Tinder, by definition, is dry stuff. But you’re not going to find much dry stuff around, unless you happen to find an abandoned bird’s nest somewhere.

This is why our ancestors carried a tinder box with them when traveling. Rather than having to look for tinder when it would be hard to find, they were able to use the tinder they were carrying with them. Then, when they found something that would work as tinder, they replenished their stock.

This is what you should do, as well; carry your tinder with you. Whether that’s in the form of char-cloth or a commercial “fire-starter,” having something that will readily ignite with you is a great guarantee of your survival. You could find everything else you need in nature, but if you can’t find something to use as tinder, you’re going to have trouble making a fire.

I carry a commercial fire-starter with me, as well as cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. Either one will work, even with damp wood, so I’m always sure that I can start a fire. Between the two, I have enough in my bug-out bag to start 50 fires and enough in my EDC to start 20. Why? Because I want to be sure that I can get a fire going, if I need one.

Starting Your Fire

This isn’t the time for impressing people with your ability to start a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together. Nor is it a good time to try and get a couple of sparks from a Ferro Rod into some dry tinder. If you need a survival fire in the winter, then you can’t afford to waste any time. Forget finesse and go for the sure methods of fire-starting, matches or a butane lighter.

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Butane lighters are my favorite fire-starting technique. The best are the ones which have a piezo-electric igniter. Not only will those work every time you strike it, but they continue striking, so that if the wind blows the flame out, it reignites immediately. A waterproof butane lighter with a piezo-electric igniter isn’t anywhere near as cheap as a disposable Bic, but they are worth the investment.

Now, I’ve got to say something about butane lighters here. That is, they don’t work in cold weather. If the weather is cold enough that you’re wearing a coat, it’s cold enough to keep the butane in your lighter from turning into a gas. But, there’s an easy way to overcome this; that’s to keep the lighter inside your clothing, where the heat from your body will makes sure that the butane can flow.

Of course, matches will work as well, especially if you spend the extra money to buy stormproof ones. The only problem is that you’ll be more limited as to the number of fires you can start.

A Final Thought

One way to eliminate the problem of having to start fires in cold weather is to carry one with you. The American Indians did this, carrying hot coals in a cone made out of tree bark. If you’re in a survival situation, you might want to consider doing this, too. Not only will this keep your fire going, but it makes an excellent hand warmer, as well.

What winter fire-starting advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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7 Things Our Ancestors Stockpiled To Survive Winter

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7 Things Our Ancestors Stockpiled To Survive Winter

Life was hard for our ancestors — much harder than it is for us today. Most of them didn’t have running water and electricity to make their lives easier. These modern conveniences have changed our way of life, to the point where we often forget what people had to do throughout history in order to survive.

We look at survival today as something needed in a time of emergency, but to many of them, survival stared them in the face every day of their lives. That was especially true in the wintertime, when it wasn’t possible to glean what you needed from nature. Basically, if you weren’t ready for winter, you didn’t survive.

So our ancestors all became experts in stockpiling. They’d spend the warmer months preparing, so that when the cold winter months came around, they’d be ready. You could tell a lot about a family’s wealth and industry by that, as there were those who struggled through the winter and those who didn’t.

I remember my grandmother, who lived though the Great Depression. She was a hoarder if you ever saw one. While her home wasn’t one you’d expect to find on one of those reality shows where they dig through a house filled with junk, she didn’t let things go to waste. If there was any utility she could get out of something, it didn’t go to the trash; it was saved for that proverbial rainy day.

Not everyone saved all the things that my grandmother did, but I imagine a fair percentage of those who lived through the Depression did. Even those who didn’t knew the importance of stockpiling for winter. The idea of “saving up for a rainy day” wasn’t just a figure of speech — it was a way of life.

So, what did they stockpile? Let’s take a look.

1. Food

Of course, the most important thing to stockpile for winter was food. Everyone would “put up” food — canning, smoking and drying it. The modern grocery store is actually rather new, with the first real supermarkets opening exactly a century ago. Before that, you could buy foodstuffs from the general store, a local butcher or a local greengrocer (produce only). But there weren’t grocery stores as we know them.

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The majority of the population at the time was involved in agriculture. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that the vast majority of the population shifted to the cities. And while people who lived in the cities have always had to depend on store or market-bought food, before that time, they were in the minority.

2. Feed

Feeding yourself wasn’t enough in those days. You needed to be able to feed your livestock, as well. Even people living in the city had to take this into consideration, as many had horses and wagons.

Early garages weren’t attached to homes, because they were converted barns and stables. Before the automobile became common, that’s how people moved around. So, they’d have a stable behind the home and had to make sure the loft was filled with hay and grain to feed their horses. Granted, they always didn’t harvest that themselves, but they still had to buy it and stockpile it to take care of their horses.

If that hay and feed was the “fuel” for their transportation back then, and they stockpiled it to get through the winter, perhaps we should follow suit. While our modern cars won’t run well off of hay, few of us have enough fuel to keep them running for more than a day or two. In a blizzard or power outage, that could prove to be a costly mistake. (Click here to learn how to stockpile gasoline.)

3. Firewood

7 Things Our Ancestors Stockpiled To Survive WinterCutting wood for the fire in the wintertime is much more difficult than it is in the summertime. So our ancestors needed to take advantage of the warmer weather to cut their wood and stack it for winter. Granted, living in the city made that hard for some, but cities were smaller back then. They could still take a wagon out to the country to cut wood, if they didn’t want to pay someone for it.

It would take several cords of wood to make it through the average winter, and – prior to electricity — there wasn’t any other option. That is, unless you happened to live in an area where you could heat with coal. Coal produced much more heat per ton than firewood did, making it a great improvement; but you couldn’t cut or mine it yourself.

In addition to the firewood, our ancestors always made sure they had a good stock of tinder. It’s all but impossible to find anything that can be used as tinder in the wintertime. So, most families filled up their home’s tinderbox to overflowing during the warmer months. That way, they could always start a fire if it went out.

4. Extra blankets

Keeping a home warm was difficult, especially a larger home with lots of rooms. Few actually could afford a fireplace in every room, even if they wanted one. So they’d heat the main living area of the home and leave the doors open to the bedrooms. Whatever heat managed to make its way in there was all that they’d get.

Since they didn’t have much heat in the bedrooms, they counted on body heat to keep them warm at night. That was part of the reason why kids would sleep together — so that they could keep each other warm.

But the other thing they did was pile blankets high upon the beds. It wasn’t uncommon to have a chest at the foot of the bed, which was used to store these extra blankets in warmer weather. Then, in the wintertime, they’d be brought out and piled on the bed. A good quilt was laid on top to make it all look good.

That’s part of why goose down quilts were so popular. Not only are they warm, but they don’t weigh a ton. It’s much nicer to bury yourself under a couple of goose down quilts than to have the weight of six wool blankets on you all night long. So save those goose feathers; it’s time to make another quilt.

5. Medicine

Most people kept a pretty good supply of medicines in the home — not the medicines that you can buy over the counter in the drug store, but home remedies. Doctors weren’t all that common. Some communities only had a visiting doctor come by a couple of times a year when he was making his circuit. So, they needed to be ready to take care of themselves. That’s why home remedies were so important. When that’s all you’ve got, you want to make sure you don’t run out.

6. Candles

Candle making was a summertime activity. You had to make them when the bees were active, collecting pollen and making honey. That meant you made them during the warmer months, when there were lots of flowers in the fields and on the trees. In the winter, bees stay in their hives, living off the honey they stored up in summer.

Harvesting honey, for those who had hives, also meant harvesting the beeswax. That meant it was time to make candles. While some were made by professional candle makers, it wasn’t uncommon for people to make their own, especially those in rural communities. Those candles would have to be enough to get them through the winter.

7. Reading material

Wintertime was a time to stay indoors as much as possible. The harvest was in and it was too early to think about plowing for spring. So, people would work inside the home, repairing harnesses, sewing clothes and reading. Few had time to read during warm weather, as the work on the farm kept them going from “can see” to “can’t see,” but in the wintertime, gathered around the warmth of the fire, reading was common.

People would literally save magazines and newspapers for months, waiting until wintertime to read them. While that would make the news a bit out of date, life didn’t move as fast back then. News was slow to get to rural communities anyway, especially out West. So, winter made a good time to catch up.

What would you add to our list? Share your winter stockpiling tips in the section below:

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No, Your Walls Are Not Bulletproof … But They Can Be

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No, Your Walls Are Not Bulletproof … But They Can Be

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There are a lot of false ideas floating around about what works as cover — in other words, what sorts of things will protect you from getting shot. We’ve all seen actors on television turn a table on its side and hide behind it to shoot, or duck behind a corner and see the bullets hit the wall, but not penetrate it. This has left us with a false idea of how well common items will protect us from the damage caused by flying bullets.

Your Home Isn’t Bulletproof

In reality, there is little in a home that will stop a bullet. Appliances are often made of sheets of steel that are much too thin to stop a bullet, even a smaller caliber bullet like a .22 LR. Furniture is made of materials that don’t stand a chance against a bullet, even if it’s “heavy” furniture. Interior walls aren’t much better. Made of drywall and studs, a typical bullet can pass through several interior walls before losing enough energy to stop.

It is rumored that in the Old West they said that a .44 bullet (supposedly the most common round of the day) would pass through six inches of pine. If you think about it, that’s quite a bit. My personal testing has shown that a 9mm FMJ, which has more penetrating power than just about any round available, will just barely make it through that six inches. But to be honest, I used stacked-up pieces of plywood, which probably was harder to penetrate.

When you compare that to your home, you see that there is little chance of anything in your home coming close to stopping a pistol round, let alone a rifle round that has much more penetrating power.

Some might say, “But the brick of the home would stop bullets!” I used to think that, too. But then I stuck some bricks together and shot at them. Sadly, I found that the only bullet a typical brick will stop is a .22 LR. Everything else, from a .380 on up, busted through the brick. You see, the air holes in the brick weaken it tremendously. If it was solid, it would probably do much better.

Now, to be fair to the brick, let me say that I had stuck them together with construction adhesive and I didn’t have the weight of an entire wall. It is possible that the weight of the wall above the brick that is hit by the bullet would help hold the brick together, reducing the penetrating power of the bullet. But I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it.

Why Bulletproof Walls? 

So if your home isn’t bulletproof, what can you do? I mean, if you’re stuck in your home and have a bad guy outside, how do you fight effectively, without getting shot? Or if you live in a neighborhood where, sadly, there may be drive-by shootings, is there a solution?

Fortunately, the U.S. Army solved that problem long ago with an extremely low-tech answer. That is, the humble sandbag. Sandbags are effective at stopping anything and everything, up to and including .50 caliber machine gun bullets. Granted, enough machine gun bullets would tear the sandbags up, destroying their defensive capability, but that’s not likely to happen to you.

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A one-foot-thick sandbag wall is enough to stop any rifle and pistol bullet. Any home that is built to meet the requirements of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) will have floors strong enough to support a three-foot-high, one-foot-thick sandbag wall. Actually, they’ll probably support a bit more than that, but that’s all we’re concerned about. In a crisis situation, if you built such a wall below your windows, you’d have perfect firing positions to use in the defense of your home.

Something a Bit More Permanent

No, Your Walls Are Not Bulletproof … But They Can Be The only problem with the sandbag wall is that it’s a bit unsightly. I mean, who really wants sandbags stacked up in their living room or bedroom? That’s best left for emergencies only. But there are solutions which can be used more permanently, building the protection into your home.

Fiberglass

One solution is to buy the fiberglass panels that they use for making the walls of a safe room. They’re made of woven roving and high shear strength epoxy. Depending on the thickness of the panels you buy, these will stop anything up to and including 7.62mm rifle fire.

While an expensive option, this is one that is highly effective. These panels can be installed underneath the drywall inside the home, hidden away but still offering protection.

Ballistic Steel

Another material option, other than the fiberglass panels, is ballistic steel plate. Please note that for this to work, you need to buy ballistic steel, not just any steel. The steel you can buy in the hardware store or your local steel supply is what is known as “cold rolled steel,” which isn’t anywhere near as strong as ballistic steel.

A one-quarter-of-an-inch thick ballistic steel plate will protect you from rifle fire, up to 5.56mm x 45 NATO and .308 Winchester ammunitions. It will not protect you from any armor piercing rounds or larger calibers, like .50 cal.

Once again, the steel plate can be hidden under the wallboard, making it a permanent but unobtrusive addition to your home. But, like the fiberglass panels, it’s going to be an expensive option.

Sand

There is one inexpensive way that you can make your walls at least somewhat bulletproof. That is to fill them with packed sand. A home wall usually has 3 ½ inches of empty space in it, except where there are studs, wires and pipes. If you were to remove the insulation and fill that area with sand, it would stop at least all pistol rounds, although that isn’t enough sand to stop rifle rounds. Please keep in mind that the sand would have to be packed for this to work; loose sand isn’t as effective.

In order to fill walls with sand, you have to cover both sides with plywood. They can’t be covered with drywall or with the foam sheeting that is commonly used as sheathing on homes. The plywood should be screwed to the studs, rather than nailed, so that it can’t pull out.

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Trump Won – Now What?

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Trump Won – Now What?

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The 2016 general election has been a big win for the Republican Party. Not only did Donald Trump beat out Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, but the Republicans managed to hold on to both houses, as well. Even though there was a lot of concern in the Republican Party that they might lose control of the Senate and possibly even the House of Representatives, they have managed to maintain that control, with a very strong majority in the latter chamber.

This is the first time in quite a few years that we’ve seen Republicans gain control over two of the branches of government. With the need for Trump to nominate a Supreme Court replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, this could actually give the Republicans control over all three branches of government. That’s even more than Obama had in his first two years of office.

Trump’s win can be largely attributed to the conservative vote. Throughout his campaign, he shifted more and more conservative on the substantive issues. This brought out many conservatives to vote who wouldn’t have bothered leaving their homes for someone like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.

But the question that faces the country now is: What does that mean?

When Obama took office with a Democratic-controlled Congress, he made good use of it, crafting and pushing through the massive Obamacare law. This law passed along purely partisan lines, with all Democrats voting for it and all Republicans voting against. Quite literally, it was shoved down the country’s throats, and has become a large part of Obama’s legacy.

Many people were upset about Obamacare, especially middle-class conservatives. Republican lawmakers responded to this by going to the voting public, complaining that their hands were tied – that they couldn’t do anything because the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. So, the voters gave the Republicans control of the House in 2010.

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Yet nothing happened. Republican lawmakers still complained, because the Democrats controlled the Senate. So, once again voters made their voices heard, giving control of the Senate to Republicans in 2014. So, for the last two years, the Republican Party has had control of both houses of Congress. What do we have to show for that? Nothing.

Basically, Washington has been in gridlock for the last six years. People on both sides of the political spectrum have said that Congress wasn’t earning their keep, although the loudest voices have come from those on the left. Their idea of Congress doing its jobs is for Congress to do whatever President Obama told them to do. But that’s not Congress’ job.

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Even so, time after time, we’ve seen the Republican-controlled Congress cave to Obama’s wishes, often after clearly stating that it wouldn’t. His threats to shut down the government, as he did in 2013, were enough to make them cave every time. Republican lawmakers were more interested in avoiding bad press than they were in doing what their constituents wanted.

But now, things are different. Now there will be a Republican in the White House. Republicans have control of both houses of Congress and don’t have to worry about President Obama’s veto pen. They should be able to go forward, passing legislation and giving the American public the change they are demanding.

The big question is, will they do so?

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The Republicans have been feeding us a steady diet of excuses for years now. Well, those excuses have been eliminated. So now it’s up to them to do what they’ve said and fulfill the promises they made on the campaign trail. If they don’t, they’ll prove themselves to be nothing more than a bunch of charlatans who are living off the government dime.

There is one big problem facing the Republican Congress: They are divided. Not all Republicans are conservatives, and many of them are moderates. So while they tout themselves as being the party of the conservatives, they really aren’t. All too often, enough Republicans vote with the left to give that side control.

So now is a time of consolidation. Trump and the congressional leadership need to be working on getting their ducks in a row. While I don’t advocate the entire party marching in lockstep, it’s time for them to stand together. If any real change is going to be made in the federal government, it’s going to have to happen in the next two years, before the next election.

This is where you and I come in. We’ve done half our job, putting them in office. Now it’s time for us to do the other half of our job — keeping them accountable. We need to be like hawks, looking over the shoulders of our elected representatives and making sure they do their jobs. More than that, we need to tell them what their job is.

What I mean by that is that we need to be contacting their offices on a regular basis, letting them know where we stand on the issues. (Find the contact information for your representative here, and for your senator here.) Every lawmaker’s office tracks those calls and e-mails, so that they know what their constituency believes. Every lawmaker is briefed on those figures, especially when it’s time to vote. They know that their continued employment rides on the votes of those constituents, and even though that may conflict with their financial supporters at times, they can’t ignore it.

Trump was voted in as president because people wanted change. We, the American people, the silent majority, are tired of the direction the country has been going in the last few years. So we made our voice heard. That doesn’t mean we can crawl back into the woodwork and hide. If we want the government to do our will, we’re going to have to continue making our voices heard.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Why We Should Never (Ever) Abolish The Electoral College

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Why We Should Never (Ever) Abolish The Electoral College

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Some things become so predictable. Every time there’s a presidential election, I hear friends and family who say that it’s time to abolish the Electoral College and go to a popular vote. They claim that the system created by the Founding Fathers is fundamentally unfair and was created merely as a means of overcoming difficulties in travel and communication in the 18th century.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

When the Constitution was signed, America consisted of the original 13 Colonies, nothing more. That means that traveling on horseback, one could make it from Concord, N.H., to Washington, D.C. in 16 days. Or, coming from the other direction, from Atlanta, Ga., to the capital in 21 days. That’s reason to delay the declaration of a win, but nothing more. Either way, someone has to make it from the state capitals to the national capital to carry the popular vote or carry the electoral votes.

Here’s what those who decry the Electoral College may not understand: We don’t have a national presidential election. We have 51 separate but consecutive presidential elections (Washington, D.C. is the 51st). There’s an excellent reason for that and it has to do with fair and democratic elections.

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In a normal democrat election, each citizen gets one vote. If we had a nationwide election, then the votes from lower population states wouldn’t be as important as those from higher population states. Politicians would quickly realize that if they won the vote in the 10 most populous states or the 50 most populous cities, they could win the election. So, they would focus their attention on those states or cities and ignore the rest.

Why We Should Never (Ever) Abolish The Electoral College

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In a nationwide popular vote, the 5 million who live in Colorado don’t mean as much as the 25 million who live in Texas. Nor do the half million people in Wyoming mean as much to a politician as the 37 million who live in California.

So, it would be easy for politicians to ignore the lower population states, or even worse, use them to fund projects to help the high population states, robbing from Peter to buy votes from Paul in a sense.

The Electoral College ensures that all the states have a voice in the national election. It is impossible for a politician to gain the 270 votes needed to win the election by just concentrating on the states with the largest population. They need to create a coalition, which means that they need to pay attention to all the states — or at a minimum, most of the states.

Some ask: “But doesn’t the election come down to the swing states?”

Not really. What makes the swing states different isn’t that they are more important than other states; it’s that they are more evenly divided politically than the other states. California, which has the most electoral votes (currently at 55), is 43.9 percent registered Democrat and only 28.9 percent registered Republican. So, it’s not surprising that it’s not a swing state. The state, as a whole, votes overwhelmingly Democrat in every election, even though there was a time when California was mostly Republican.

On the other end of the spectrum we have little New Hampshire, which is a swing state. But it only has 4 electoral votes. How, then, can it be so important? Simply because prior to 1992, the state was staunchly conservative. But since 1992, there has been a shift, with citizens voting Democrat more than Republican in all but one presidential election. With New Hampshire being divided politically, it is now a swing state.

Politicians concentrate their campaigns on the swing states because those are the ones where there is a greater chance of swinging the vote one way or another. Trying to make California vote Republican or Texas vote Democrat is a major undertaking, worthy of Hercules. But Iowa, a swing state, has voted Republican twice and Democratic twice in the past four presidential elections.

The swing states are such because the vote of those states swings back and forth between the two parties. Eventually, they will likely settle one way or the other and no longer be a swing state. At the same time, other states will move away from their party affiliation to a more centrist position and become swing states.

Getting rid of the Electoral College would be the same as turning the election over to those states with the highest populations. That would mean that unless you happened to live in one of those states, your vote wouldn’t matter. Are you sure that you want to do that? After all, what’s citizenship, if you don’t have the power to vote? For that matter, what’s freedom if you don’t have the power to vote?

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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It seems that everyone has their ideas about survival kits and must-have tools. I’ve probably read through at least 100 different lists in the last few years, and in reality, what I find are the same ideas being reiterated over and over again. The new ideas I find in those lists are all too often impractical — either too heavy or too bulky to carry.

With that criteria in mind, I’m always going back and rethinking my kit, looking to see if there is something I can improve. While a lot of time that doesn’t accomplish much more than assure me that I’m doing alright, at times I find something else that will serve me better. Recently, I’ve made a few changes in my tools, seeking to have a set that will serve me better if I ever find myself bugging out and having to survive on what’s in that bag.

The tools in your survival kit will probably be used for two main purposes: building shelter and gathering firewood. Both of those tasks require a lot of wood cutting. So, one of the biggest needs for my tools is to be able to cut a lot of wood, quickly and easily. If the tools can’t do that, they are essentially worthless.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some common categories of tools and see how well they will work in a true survival situation.

1. Knife

Everyone agrees that the knife is the most important tool you can carry for survival. I’m not going to argue that. In fact, I just added a second sheathe knife to my bug-out bag. My basic bug-out plan calls for me to have one on my belt. But what happens if that one gets lost? The answer most people go with is to have a folding knife as a backup. I have that, too, as a folding knife is part of my everyday carry (EDC). But I really wouldn’t want to depend on a folding knife in a survival situation, hence the second sheathe knife.

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I’ve had a number of different knives through the years, which has led me to appreciate what I feel makes a good survival knife. First of all, it has to be quality. More than anything, that means being made of quality steel, with a full tang. Good steel will stay sharper longer, increasing the knife’s utility and reducing maintenance.

As for knife design, I’ve settled on a length, from 3 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches. My main knife is the longer length and my backup is the shorter. For survival tasks, anything longer is too hard to work with and anything shorter leaves you struggling to get things done. Avoid a sharply pointed knife, like a severe clip point or dagger, as the point will break easily. But be sure to have a point, as they can be useful. A drop point is just about ideal. Tonto points leave you without the ability to use the knife as an awl.

2. Saw

If there is any one area where I think most of us have missed it in our survival tools, it’s with the saw. Most people carry a wire saw. Some have replaced that with the pull strap chainsaw. Have you ever really tried cutting a tree branch with a wire saw? Forget it. Besides, in a true survival situation, the wire saw is probably going to break. Forget any saw which is part of a knife blade or multi-tool, too. They are just too short.

I was tempted to add a bow saw to my bug-out bag for a while, although it’s really too big. But if you want to cut tree branches, that’s about the best manual saw for it. It’s definitely faster than anything else you can find, and cuts with minimal effort.

Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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But I found something almost as good. That’s the pruning saw. No, I’m not talking about the type that are on the end of a pole, but rather a folding pruning saw. Looking much like an oversize pocket knife, these will have a saw blade from 8 to 12 inches long and are razor sharp. Lightweight, they’ll still cut through a tree branch in a few minutes of work, rather than an exhausting half hour.

One other option is to combine your need for a saw with a machete. Some manufacturers make machetes with a saw blade on the back side. I have one of these, and while it doesn’t cut as good as my bow saw, it’s almost as good as the folding pruning saw. What it lacks in tooth design and sharpness, it makes up for by being longer.

3. Machete

Since we’re on the subject of machetes, let’s talk about them. Maybe it’s the time I’ve spent in Mexico, but I’ve grown to really appreciate the general utility of a machete. Not only are they about the only tool you can use to clear underbrush and blaze a trail, they’re excellent for cutting down saplings and cutting off small tree branches. Properly sharpened and used, they are better for cutting small branches than a hatchet.

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The machete also makes an excellent short-range weapon, should you find yourself in a melee and need something better than a knife. Using one against a knife-wielding attacker definitely gives you the advantage of reach, all but ensuring that you’ll win that confrontation.

All this and the machete is actually a rather light tool. It’s much lighter than a quality hatchet will be and even lighter than most tomahawks. Considering the importance of keeping the weight of everything you carry down to a minimum, the few ounces a machete saves is worth it.

4. Hatchet/tomahawk/machete 

Somehow, the tomahawk has become a very popular option within the preparedness community. Granted, it’s a cool weapon, much cooler than a hatchet. Yes, the hatchet can be used as a melee weapon, and, yes, it can be thrown. But if it came down to that point, I wouldn’t want to be throwing my tomahawk and perhaps giving a weapon to an enemy.

Many think of a tomahawk as a hatchet with additional benefits. But a tomahawk can’t do everything a hatchet can. More than anything, it can’t be used as a hammer, something that any good hatchet does very well. And while you can cut wood with it, it doesn’t cut wood as well as a saw or a machete.

Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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Actually, although I still have a hatchet strapped to the side of my bug-out bag, it’s lost a lot of its prestige to the machete. The main reason I still carry it is that the one I have has a hammer head and a pry bar built into it. Both of those can be useful tools to carry. While a rock can do service as a hammer, there’s really nothing else I’m carrying that can do double duty as a pry bar, without breaking it.

5. Shovel

When I was in the Army, we carried a shovel (more properly called an “entrenching tool”) as part of our field gear. The main purpose of that was for digging foxholes. Considering the effectiveness of foxholes in warfare, that made sense. But do we really need one for survival?

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There are a few places where a shovel is useful in survival, such as digging a latrine, making a fire pit and digging a trench around your tent to divert water. While those tasks could be done with a knife or other tool, that would probably dull the tool — not something you want.

Thus, a shovel is part of my kit. What I’ve found is that the longer the shovel, the better. When it comes time to dig, a handle that’s a few inches longer gives you more leverage, making the job easier. Look for length, rather than the added whistles and bells that some companies try to include. You don’t need your shovel to double as a saw or a compass; they won’t do that well.

6. Multi-tool

Ever since the multi-tool hit the market, they’ve been included in survival kits and bug-out bags. Perhaps that hearkens back to the days of the Swiss Army Knife or the multi-purpose knives that we carried as Boy Scouts. I’m not sure.

But there’s a big difference between today’s multi-tool and those knives of the past. That difference is that the multi-tool is intended to be a compact tool kit, with screwdrivers and pliers as the main focus. Yeah, they usually have a saw blade and a knife blade as well, but not some of the more useful survival blades, like an awl.

The thing is, you’re not likely to need to strip down a piece of equipment and repair it when in the middle of the wilderness. You’re more likely to need to make clothing out of a hide that you tan yourself. So, why are you carrying that multi-tool along? What are you going to use it for?

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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7 Survival Things You’re Better Off Buying in Mexico (No. 2 Will Save You TONS Of Money)

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7 Survival Things You're Better Off Buying in Mexico (No. 2 Will Save You TONS Of Money)

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I live real close to the Mexican border. While that usually elicits questions about the dangers of the drug cartels coming over the border, that’s not something I worry a whole lot about. The cartels are smart enough to know that Texans believe in concealed carry, so chances are that if they tried to start a firefight here, they’d get more than they bargained for.

But living so close to Mexico has its benefits — like giving me another source for my survival supplies. While there is little you can buy in Mexico that isn’t available in the United States, there are a number of things that are more readily available. Not only that, but some things are considerably cheaper in Mexico than they are in the United States. So with some careful buying in Mexico, I can make my prepping budget go considerably farther than buying here at home.

1. Antibiotics

I would say that the number one reason to go to Mexico for your supplies is to stock up on antibiotics. Here in the U.S., you have to have a prescription to buy them. But most antibiotics are available over the counter in Mexico. Not only that, but you can buy them in bottles of 100, and the price will be much lower than it is here at home.

7 Survival Things You're Better Off Buying in Mexico (No. 2 Will Save You TONS Of Money)

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As best I know, there is only one antibiotic that there is any restriction on bringing back to the United States, and that is ciprofloxacin. The reason why that can’t be brought across the border is that ciprofloxacin is the antibiotic of choice for treatment of anthrax. As such, its importation has been outlawed so that terrorists can’t bring it in for their own use.

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While you’re at it, don’t forget other emergency medicines, such as the EpiPen, used for the emergency treatment of anaphylactic shock. While expensive in the United States, the Mexican equivalent sells for about $12. Now, it isn’t in an automatic injector, like the EpiPen here is, but rather a syringe, needle and small vial of epinephrine. So, it’s a bit harder to use, but you don’t need a prescription or have to shell out hundreds of dollars.

2. Prescription medicine

If you have any family members with chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, they are probably taking medicines daily. That creates a serious problem when it comes to prepping. Most doctors won’t write a prescription for extra medicines.

But you can buy many of them in Mexico. Every winter, the states bordering on Mexico are inundated with retired people who escape the cold months back home. Here in Texas, we call them “winter Texans.” Besides escaping the cold, coming to Texas allows them to go into Mexico and buy their prescription medicines for the entire year. Not only are most of those medicines much cheaper in Mexico, but you don’t need a prescription to buy them.

In my personal experience, Mexican pharmaceuticals are excellent. I’ve been buying mine over there for more than 15 years, and have never had a problem. The quality has always been excellent.

Mexico is also a good source for medicines that have not been approved by the FDA. Some “orphan drugs” haven’t passed FDA approval yet because of the high cost of testing and approval. For people with rare diseases, that causes problems. They either have to use veterinary versions of the medicine or go without. But they may very well be able to buy them in Mexico.

3. Dental services

While visiting Mexico to buy your medicines, make sure to take care of your teeth. Dental services are expensive in the U.S., but not so in Mexico. At the time of this writing, a filling is going for about $35, the same for an extraction. My wife recently needed a root canal, post and crown. The entire package was $410, rather than the $2,000 or more it would have been here at home.

4. Veterinary supplies

7 Survival Things You're Better Off Buying in Mexico (No. 2 Will Save You TONS Of Money)

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If you raise animals for food, you had better count on having medicines on hand. Farmers do this so that they can care for their animals rather than having to call a vet all the time.

There are veterinary pharmacies in Mexico that specialize in the medicines you would need for livestock and for pets. As with the human medicines, prices are much better in Mexico.

5. Homesteading tools & implements

Speaking of raising animals, you’ve probably noticed that here in the U.S., everything is done electronically. If we could invent an electronic shovel to dig a hole in the ground, we’d do it. But if the power is out, all of our electronic wizardry will be nothing more than expensive paperweights.

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I have found that it is hard to find many manual tools and farm implements here in the U.S. Mostly, that’s because other than the Amish, we don’t use them. But in Mexico, many farms don’t have dependable electricity, and so they still use the manual methods. That makes it much easier to find those tools and implements there, and it makes them much less expensive, too.

This really doesn’t apply to just tools. Other related things, like saddles and tack for horses, are readily available at reasonable prices.

6. Water tanks

Water tanks are actually rather easy to find in the U.S. That is, if you either want used plastic barrels (which have chemical residue in them), used bulk liquid containers (same problem), or want to pay a fortune for shipping.

I got frustrated looking for a couple of water tanks for my home. Considering that I intended to use them for drinking water, I didn’t want anything that had been used for chemicals. But buying a new water tank online means paying more for the shipping than the tank costs.

In Mexico, pretty much everyone has a water tank on the roof of their home, except the poorest of the poor. That’s so that they’ll have water, even when the local utility is experiencing difficulties pumping the water. As an emerging country, that’s rather common. These water tanks are made there in Mexico, are designed for drinking water and are cheaper than they are here in the U.S.

I bought two 750 liter water tanks (200 gallons each). One is on the back porch and the other is in my garage. Rather than having to pay shipping on them, I simply loaded them in the back of my pickup truck (I could only carry one at a time) and brought them home.

7. The local blacksmith

7 Survival Things You're Better Off Buying in Mexico (No. 2 Will Save You TONS Of Money)

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How many times have you wished that the old village blacksmith was still around? I know I have. There are times when you need something made, and a blacksmith would be just the person to have around. Well, you can’t buy a blacksmith in Mexico, but you can find them. So, if you need something made, you might be better off taking your design to Mexico and looking up a blacksmith rather than taking it to a machine shop here.

It’s amazing what these blacksmiths can make. I know a man who had a leaf spring break on his car. There were no springs like he needed, where he was, but there was a blacksmith in Mexico. The blacksmith made him a spring, just like he needed. It was so perfect that the car sat level once it was installed.

I had the axle shaft break on my motorhome, inside the axle housing. When it did, it overheated and literally welded itself into place. I had to drill out the messed up axle shaft and then look for a new one. However, I couldn’t find exactly what I needed. So I took what I did find to a blacksmith, and he modified it to be what I needed.

Have you ever purchased items in Mexico? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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The Surprisingly Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

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The Surprisingly Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

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Let me start this out with a bit of a test for you. Try to answer the following questions:

  • The last time you stopped for gas, how many other cars were getting gas?
  • What color socks was your boss wearing today?
  • What did the people in front of you and behind you at the grocery line look like?
  • How many of your neighbors left this morning, before you did?
  • Were there any unusual cars parked on your street when you got home today?

If you can answer any of those questions, without it being pure guess work, you’re doing good. The truth is, though, that most of us can’t. We become used to the situations around us and then just stop noticing them. Then, when something new or different comes along, we don’t even recognize it for what it is.

Instead, we’re looking at our smartphones — checking email, texting friends, or posting pictures to Facebook.

“So, what?” you might say. “Who cares about my boss’s socks or the other people stopped in the same gas station?” If that’s your reaction, trust me, you’re not alone. Most of the adults on this planet would say more or less the same thing. But then, those same people would step on a land mine, without even realizing it until it went “boom.”

The thing is, not being aware of what’s going on around you can be deadly. Just about every dangerous situation we can find ourselves in has some sort of warning. But like the intelligence before the attack on Pearl Harbor, ignoring those warning signs can have grave consequences.

What we need is situational awareness. Situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of what is around you and what the people or things around you are doing. It is being so aware of your surroundings that when something changes, you notice it. It’s knowing what to expect, so that the unexpected stands out. More than anything, it’s seeing things that could be a threat, and analyzing that threat before it can manifest.

Without situational awareness, we’re more likely to get mugged, to get carjacked, to get pickpocketed.

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I recently re-watched one of the Sherlock Holmes movies, starring Robert Downey, Jr. At one point in the story, his female companion asked him, “What do you see?” To which he responded, “Everything. That’s my curse. I see everything.” That’s part of what made Sherlock so successful. He saw things that others didn’t see. Had he been a real person, rather than just a character in a story, his situational awareness would have served him well.

Ask any soldier who has been in war, and they’ll tell you how important situational awareness is. Seeing things that can be a threat, before that threat manifests itself, can be the difference between life and death, especially in the close environment that is urban warfare.

The Surprisingly Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

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But situational awareness goes totally against our nature. We are creatures of habit, and we normally go through life without noticing things around us. Few of us can remember details of what happened in the television shows we watched last night, let alone tell what the person in front of us ordered at our favorite coffee house. Thus, we’ll never be a Sherlock Homes and if we are ever put into a position where seeing is survival … we might not make it home.

Developing Situational Awareness

So if situational awareness is so important and is against our nature, how does one acquire it? What can we do, to make ourselves more aware of our surroundings, than we are today?

To start with, we must make a decision to become more aware — not a wishy-washy decision, but a firm one. That, in and of itself, will make a huge difference, simply because we’ll be thinking about the need to be aware. We’ll open our eyes and start looking around us, just because we know that we should.

Still, that isn’t enough. It’s just a start. Building situational awareness requires practice. We’ve got to train our mind to pay attention to what our eyes are seeing. So, we need to develop a series of exercises, which will help us to see. Things like:

  • Make a habit of knowing how many people are within 100 feet of you, where they are and what they are doing.
  • Count the number of cars of a particular color as you drive somewhere.
  • Look at what a co-worker wears to work every day and try to remember it. See how many days’ worth of attire you can recall, and if you can recall the last time they wore a particular shirt or outfit.
  • Learn what cars your neighbors drive. Then, make it a habit to look for new or different cars, every time you step out of your home. Look for patterns, to see if certain cars show up at certain times.

Once you are more aware, it’s time to start putting that awareness to use. Start looking at people to see what they are doing and try to evaluate how much of a threat they are. Use a scale from one to 10, with one being no threat at all and 10 meaning it’s time to draw a gun to protect yourself. Rate each person, even if there are many people around you. Then, keep track of those with a higher score, updating your score as you go.

Ultimately, that’s what situational awareness is all about — finding threats. Once it becomes a habit, it will help you in countless ways.

What advice would you add on becoming more situationally aware? Share your tips in the section below:

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10 Often-Overlooked Medical Supplies To Stockpile For A Societal Collapse

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10 Often-Overlooked Medical Supplies To Stockpile For A Societal Collapse

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There are certain mistakes I see made over and over again among those in the preparedness community. Most of them are understandable. We live in a society where we have a plethora of resources and support available to us, and breaking out of that mindset and thinking of how to be truly self-sufficient is hard, even for those of us who are trying.

But if we are going to survive a major natural or man-made disaster, we’ve got to be ready to make it on our own. That means having both the knowledge and the supplies to do everything we need, for ourselves.

One area that is commonly overlooked is the area of medicine. Oh, we all have first-aid kits, and I’ve even seen some pretty good ones around. But that’s not the same as medical preparedness.

Let me enumerate some of the problems:

  • Medical facilities and personnel becoming overwhelmed with the large number of people who get injured in the crisis and its aftermath.
  • Lack of transportation making it difficult to get injured or sick personnel to medical facilities.
  • Modern medical doctors and facilities not having electricity. Many hospitals only have about 48 hours of fuel for their generators.
  • Breakdown of the supply chain, making resupply of even the most basic medical supplies iffy at best.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that we need to be ready to take care of our own medical needs. That means much more than just having a little first-aid kit on hand. First of all, most first-aid kits can’t take care of a serious injury. And even those that can will quickly get depleted.

Here are a few of the top items you’ll need to stockpile, and stockpile well.

1. Bandages of all kinds (in bulk)

Injuries are common and will be even more common in a survival situation. When medical care is difficult to come by, any injury is serious. Injuries create openings in the skin by which bacteria and other pathogens can enter.

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So, it’s important to clean, disinfect and protect even the smallest of injuries.

  • For smaller injuries, cloth adhesive bandages are great. They stick better than the plastic kind, so they protect you better. That makes them worth the extra money they cost.
  • For large injuries, one of the best bandages you can have is a sanitary napkin. They are sterile, and designed to absorb a large quantity of blood. They are also much cheaper than other sterile bandages.
  • The new “cohesive” medical tape is much better than other types, in that it sticks to itself, rather than the patient. So, when you take it off, you won’t be pulling any hair out and causing the patient any extra pain.

Bandages really should be changed every 24 hours, or faster if they become blood soaked. So it’s easy to see how you could go through a lot of bandages quickly. It’s not unreasonable to think in terms of a few hundred of each size.

2. Gauze (in bulk)

Gauze is great for larger injuries, for times when you have to soak up blood or for cleaning off a wound. You can buy it in several forms, but probably the most common and most universally useful is in four-inch squares. These come in both sterile and non-sterile varieties.

When bandaging a wound, you need to use sterile dressings directly on the wound. But the second layer doesn’t have to be sterile. So, if you have a bleeding wound, you can use those four-inch non-sterile gauze pads on top of a sterile one, and save a lot of money.

Stretchable gauze is also useful, especially in cases where you need to protect the skin, but not necessarily soak up a lot of blood. Skin rashes are such a case. Once you medicate the rash, you should cover it for protection. Stretchable gauze is an easy way to do this. It can also be used in place of medical tape, although it doesn’t work quite as well.

3. Antiseptic cream, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide (lots of it)

Any wound needs to be cleaned and disinfected. The first step is to flush it with a sterile solution to remove debris. This could be clean drinking water. If it’s safe enough to drink, it’s safe enough for cleaning out a wound, too. But after that, something that will kill bacteria and other germs must be used.

Many people clean the wound with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and then apply an antiseptic cream. This is ideal, as it provides the maximum protection. You really can’t be too careful where the possibility of infection exists.

4. Clotting agent

Image source: QuikClot

Image source: QuikClot

Clotting agents, like Quikclot or Celox, help to get wounds to stop bleeding and scab over quicker. This can be very useful in a situation where a wound is bleeding quickly. The more blood a person loses, the longer it takes them to heal. So, using a clotting agent helps to reduce their recovery time. It also can prevent them from bleeding out and dying.

These clotting agents are available either in a granulated powder that is sprinkled on the wound or embedded in bandages of various types (including a sponge). Either will work. The powder is useful for smaller wounds, but larger wounds require the bandages with the clotting agent included.

5. Personal protection equipment

It is important to do everything possible to prevent the spreading of infection and disease. For this reason, medical staff wear masks, gloves and eye protection. Well, if you’re going to be treating patients, you’ll need the same. Non-sterile gloves, which are sufficient for everything short of surgery, come in boxes of 100, in a variety of sizes. Buying them like that helps ensure that you’ll have them when you need them.

The most common place for pathogens to enter the body is the face. You have more naturally occurring openings in your skin, there in your face, than anywhere else in your body. That makes it necessary to protect your face from splashing blood and the droplets of sneezes. A medical face mask and simple plastic goggles is sufficient for this.

6. Sutures

Gaping wounds need more than a bandage; they need the skin brought back together and held there for healing. In a hospital, they accomplish this with stitches. You can do the same, although it’s recommended to practice beforehand, as sewing up someone’s body is different than sewing on a button.

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But there’s an easier way — adhesive sutures. 3M’s Steri-Strips and butterfly bandages both work well for this. While both are good, the Steri-Strips come in a package of five, which makes them much easier to work with.

7. Elastic bandages

Elastic bandages are useful for a host of things, especially dealing with broken or sprained limbs. Keep an assortment of sizes on hand, so that you have the right size for every need.

In order to be able to splint broken limbs, you’ll need something to use with the elastic bandages. In a pinch, sticks will work. But a Sam Splint is even better. This is a sheet of foam rubber-coated soft aluminum sheet, four inches wide. You can form it to fit the limb, and then attach it in place with the elastic bandages. Properly done, this will work almost as good as a cast.

8. Pain relievers

There are several different over-the-counter pain relievers available; if you consume mainstream medicine, stock them all. Different ones work differently with different people. That’s why ibuprofen might work well for one person, but not for another. You should have as a minimum:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

While it would be nice to have some stronger pain relievers on hand, those all require a prescription. If you have a good enough relationship with your doctor, you might be able to get some; but if not, you can’t even buy it in Mexico.

9. Antibiotics

10 Often-Overlooked Medical Supplies To Stockpile For A Societal Collapse

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Antibiotics are another thing you usually need a prescription to buy. That’s mostly to protect people from misusing them. So if you do stock any, make sure you have written information on how to use them properly, specifically information on dosage and which one to use for which ailments.

Many homesteaders buy veterinary grades of antibiotics, for which you don’t need a prescription. They usually come out of the exact same factories from which human antibiotics come. Another way is to buy them in Mexico, if you happen to be traveling that way. In Mexico, you can buy them in any pharmacy.

10. Over-the-counter medicines

Finally, stock up on all of the common over-the-counter medicines you use. Remember, you won’t be able to get them during a disaster, and even though they don’t actually cure most things, they do alleviate the symptoms, making it much easier to carry on and do the things you need to be doing. Specifically, you should have:

  • Antihistamine (Benadryl) — for runny nose.
  • Decongestant — for stuffed up nose or sinus headache.
  • Loperamide (Imodium) — anti-diarrheal.
  • Meclizine (Dramamine) — helps prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • Hydrocortisone cream — to help alleviate itching, such as from poison ivy.
  • Omeprazole (Zantac) — for heartburn
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin cream) — for fungal infections on the skin

When the next crisis hits — or the next snowstorm or flood – don’t be left wishing you had the right medical supplies on hand. Stock up now.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:  

hydrogen peroxide report

What Survivalists Get Wrong About ‘Living Off The Land’

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What Survivalists Get Wrong About ‘Living Off The Land’

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As I’ve talked to various people about their survival plans, the same themes keep cropping up over and over again. That makes sense, as we all need the same things to survive. On the other hand, some of these common themes contains some really bad ideas.

The bad idea I’m referring to here is those who think that they can just go hunting to feed their families. If what they mean as “hunting” is what they do every fall, then their families are going to starve. But the fact is that while you can’t feed your family by hunting, you can augment your food supplies with it.

The biggest problem is that what most people think of as hunting is sport hunting, not survival hunting. While it’s always nice to get some game while sport hunting, it’s not necessary. If you miss your shot, that’s OK, you can always pick up some steaks at the supermarket. But when you’re hunting for survival – or “living off the land” for meat — a missed shot might very well mean that your whole family goes hungry.

Today’s sport hunting really isn’t all that fair, either. When I was growing up, we weren’t allowed to use feed corn as bait. In fact, we weren’t allowed to use anything as bait. But now, most of the people I know use corn all the time. Without it, I doubt they could get anything.

So, what’s so different about survival hunting? What do you have to do that you wouldn’t normally do?

Hunt for Whatever

In sport hunting, the idea is to go hunting for a particular type of game. In deer season, you hunt deer. In duck season, you hunt duck. But when you’re hunting for survival, you hunt for whatever you can find; even if what you can find is not something you’d normally hunt for. You’re after food and if it can be eaten, then it’s fair game. This could include domesticated animals.

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Actually, this points out a huge moral dilemma that few of us have thought about. There are many things you and I can do to survive which may not be strictly legal. The question is, where do we draw the line? That’s not an easy question to answer, especially when you consider that there will be an “after” to the crisis, in which people will be charged with crimes they committed during the crisis. You sure don’t want to put yourself in the position of having to go to jail for feeding your family.

Size Matters

While you will need to be hunting for whatever you can get, you want to avoid hunting for small game. That doesn’t mean that you want to cross small game off the menu, though. Rather, you want to try and trap small game, so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. You’ve got to get enough for your time to make it worthwhile.

I recently went dove hunting with a couple of buddies. While we did fairly well, I couldn’t help but think that we couldn’t have fed our three families one meal with the meat that we’d harvested on that hunt. Dove aren’t very big and you don’t get much meat off of them — maybe a taco or two worth out of each dove. If we had been hunting for survival, that day would have been a net loss.

Accuracy

What Survivalists Get Wrong About ‘Living Off The Land’ Few hunters actually practice shooting with their guns. Most of them dig their hunting rifle or shotgun out when it’s time to go hunting, and then put it away for next year. How do any of them expect to be able to shoot accurately, without at least some practice?

I’m an avid shooter who goes to the range about once per week. As such, my shooting skills are fairly descent. This showed in that dove hunt I just mentioned, as I got the first three doves before either of my buddies bagged one. It wasn’t that they didn’t see any birds or didn’t take any shots, but it was that I had been practicing.

Every bullet has to count in a survival situation. Back in the pioneering days, the standard was one shot, one kill. It didn’t matter if dad was out hunting or one of the kids were. Each bullet needed to bag something for the pot. Bullets were too precious to waste.

Knowing the Game and Their Habits

In survival hunting, you can forget about baiting the game with feed corn; you won’t have any. Nor will you be able to spend days on end hunting for one deer. Hunting will mean going out in the morning or evening and returning with game after a couple of hours. Anything else would be an inefficient use of your time.

Survival is too demanding to spend the entire day on one task. Many different things need to be done each and every day. Finding food is one of those things. But it can’t take over the day. So, you’ll need to learn how to hunt efficiently, bagging what you’re after in just a little time.

That means knowing the animals and their habits. Where do they sleep? Where do they eat? What watering holes do they use? When can you expect to find them at those watering holes? Those are important things to know so that you’ll know where to find the game that you so desperately need. The easiest of those to know is when they water. Most animals will water near daybreak and dusk, so those are the best times of day to hunt.

Fortunately for us, most animals are creatures of habit. They will often have a daily circuit where they water and feed in certain areas at certain times. So once you know their habits, you’ll know where to find them.

Don’t Waste a Thing

The Native Americans were great hunters. They were great at making use of what they had hunted, as well. There was no waste, as everything was used in one way or another. The meat they didn’t eat was dried, the skin tanned and even some of the internal organs that weren’t eaten were put to use.

You and I are going to have to learn that, as well. More than anything, we’ll need to be ready to preserve any meat that we bring home if it isn’t eaten immediately. That generally means smoking or drying it, although it is possible to can meat. We’ll also need to know how to tan the hide, as we’ll need that leather for shoes and clothing.

A Final Thought

Mankind domesticated animals because it was more efficient than hunting. And that was back when there was much more game available. In today’s world, finding game is nowhere near as easy. That’s going to be especially true in a time when everyone is out there hunting, because the grocery store shelves are empty.

If you expect to live off of hunting alone, you might have a very unpleasant surprise waiting for you. Unless you live in a very remote area, where there aren’t many others hunting the game, you might very well have trouble finding enough meat for the pot.

What advice would you add about survival hunting? Share it in the section below:  

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Would ALL Wildlife Be Wiped Out If Society Collapses? The Answer May Surprise You

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All hunters complain, at least one, about having to buy a hunting license. For that matter, they’ve probably complained that they were limited to hunting only during a few short weeks a year. But in fact, there is a very good reason why we need hunting licenses and we need a hunting season. That is, that without the restrictions that hunting season and hunting laws place on “We the People,” there wouldn’t be any game.

The History

When this country was first settled, it teemed with game. Early explorers were unanimous in their praises for both the quantity and the quality of wild game, ready for harvest by European long guns. Who hasn’t heard the reports of buffalo covering the Great Plains? The herds were so vast that they went on for miles.

Yet where are those vast herds of buffalo today? What has happened to the deer? The truth is that there have been times in our nation’s history where the game were all but extinct due to overhunting. Without proper controls, it could easily happen again.

In the early days of our country, wildlife flourished, especially deer. Reports dating from the early 1800s indicate that there were more deer in Illinois than there were when the nation was founded. Wolves and other predators had been hunted ruthlessly by farmers in order to protect their livestock. This allowed deer populations to grow, as the predators which killed them were nearly hunted to extinction.

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But by the late 1800s, the deer population in Illinois had dropped to the point where they were virtually eliminated. Hunters, who were allowed to hunt year-round, without a bag limit, had killed off the deer. [1]

It took a major conservation effort on the part of the state of Illinois to repopulate the deer in their state, including importing white tail deer from other parts of the country. Now, deer are plentiful once again and hunters are once again harvesting deer in the fall. But restrictions are in place to ensure that overhunting doesn’t happen again.

Illinois isn’t the only state where this happened. As settlers moved westwards, they cleared out much of the wild game population in state after state. This was the result of not only hunters harvesting the game, but also of farmers taking much of the game’s natural habitat. Time and time again, animals were killed nearly to extinction, before conservation efforts were put in place.

The Problem Today

Would Wildlife Be Wiped Out If Society Collapses? The Answer May Surprise You

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Many survivalists and preppers talk about living off the land, following a societal collapse. But the population of the United States is much higher than it was in the 1800s. In 1800, the entire U.S. population was only 5.3 million people. A century later, it had grown to 76.2 million people. But today, we have about 319 million people.

Less than two percent of our population has a stockpile of food in their home. So, it’s reasonable to assume that most people will be looking for whatever food they can find. Without their normal food sources to depend on, people will be looking for everything from stray cats to edible house plants. Many, having heard of our ancestors hunting for food, will naturally assume that they can, too.

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To even think that the current game population could support the current population of people is somewhere on the far side of foolish. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, we have more than 13.7 million hunters in the United States (as of the 2013 hunting season). With that number of hunters, it wouldn’t take long at all to lower game levels to a near-extinction point once again; and that’s without everyone else out there trying to hunt for food as well. (This is why it is so important to grow and raise your own food.)

But we have to remember: Not all gun owners are hunters. With somewhere over 300 million privately owned guns in the United States, there are many more people who will be out there trying to hunt, than the “real” hunters in our society. Even if those people are ineffective hunters, their mere presence will make the game go deeper into the woods.

Let me throw one more monkey wrench in the works here. The vast majority of our population is concentrated on the East and West Coasts, especially the Northeast and Southern California. Yet those aren’t the areas of highest game density. In fact, the areas of highest game density are where the population is lowest. So, the people with the greatest need will find that they will have the least possibility of hunting for their food.

This means that if anyone in the country would have a chance of living off the land, it’s the people who live in the lowest density areas of the country, especially Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Perhaps those people can depend on game to help them survive, but the rest of us are going to need other sources for our food.

What is your reaction? Do you think there is enough wild game to support America, post-collapse? Share your thoughts in the section below:

[1] http://web.extension.illinois.edu/deer/historyofmanagment.cfm

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The Smartphone As A Survival Tool? 9 Ways It Can Literally Save Your Life

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The Smartphone As A Survival Tool? 9 Ways It Can Save Your Life

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Modern man seems to be permanently attached to the smartphone. For that matter, modern woman and modern teen are just as attached, and modern child is catching up. Basically, the smartphone has become an inseparable part of most lives.

It also can be a vital survival tool. Used properly, it can help you through a wide variety of calamities — saving your bacon before you fall into the frying pan.

We can break the ways a smartphone can help you down into two different generalized categories — things that it can do while intact and things that a broken smartphone can still do.

The Intact Smartphone as a Survival Tool

When I refer to an intact smartphone, I’m referring to one that is still functioning. Some of this will be via using the phone as intended and others will be via apps. If you are out of range or your phone service provider is out of service, your phone will still run local apps. Some of those can be of great help, even if you can’t communicate through the phone.

One thing to remember is that if the phone is not connecting to a tower, it will constantly try to do so. That will kill the battery. To prevent this, you have to shut the phone down when you’re not using it or turn it to airplane mode. You should also have an alternative power supply for your smartphone, either one of the battery packs or even better one of the various solar chargers available on the market.

1. Calling for help

The first and most obvious survival use for a smartphone to help you survive is to call for help. It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck in a snowstorm or you fell down a mountainside, as long as you have a signal, you can make a call and let someone know where you are and that you need help.

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You should always let someone know where you are planning on going and when you are planning on getting back. That way, if you don’t make it back, they can get people looking for you. Many phone have a “find my phone” feature for such emergencies. Teach your family members how to use this.

2. Survival library

Most people don’t bother using their phone as an e-book reader, probably due to the small screen size. However, you can get e-book reading apps for all smartphones, regardless of the operating system. With that, you can read whatever books you want in electronic form.

Build yourself a library of useful survival e-books. This should contain books on bushcraft, wilderness survival, urban survival, food preservation, fire-starting techniques, finding food in the wild and identifying wild plants for medicinal and edible purposes.

Make sure you download these books to your phone; otherwise you can’t access them when you are out of range or the phone company’s system is down.

3. Locating yourself

Don’t know where you are? Let your smartphone help. To start. turn on the GPS function and get your location. Unless you are really out in the boonies, it should be able to plot you a route back to the nearest civilization. While you’re at it, look for any streams or bodies of water, so that you can take care of yourself while you are walking out.

You can also download a compass app, which will allow your phone to act as a compass for you. That will be a big help if you forgot to bring a compass with you. Instead of having to look for moss on the side of a tree or use your watch and the sun to figure out where south is, you can just use your smartphone.

4. Flashlight

The screen of your smartphone will work somewhat as a flashlight, but you’re best off if your smartphone has a light (often the camera’s light) that doubles as a flashlight. It will produce much more light than the screen will and will be enough to light your way.

5. Binoculars

The Smartphone As A Survival Tool? 9 Ways It Can Save Your Life

Image source: Pixabay.com

This only works on smartphones that have high pixel cameras in them. If you can’t see something clearly, such as looking down the valley and trying to determine if there’s a town down there, take a picture of it. Then, zoom in on the picture and get a more detailed look at it than what your eyes can provide.

The Broken Smartphone as a Survival Tool

While an intact smartphone will do a whole lot more for you than a broken one, don’t throw it away if it breaks. You can still use various parts of the phone to help you survive and even be rescued.

6. Starting a fire

Believe it or not, there is more than one way you can use your smartphone to start a fire; it all centers around the battery. Open the phone and take the battery out. If you have 0000 steel wool, take a small piece of it and spread it out, then then brush it over the battery’s contacts; it should start burning. You can do the same thing with a gum wrapper, depending on the type you have.

The gum wrappers that work are the ones that are waxed paper with aluminum foil on one side. Cut a strip of the wrapper that’s about ¼ of an inch wide and make a spot in the middle that’s about 1/16 of an inch wide. This will work like a fuse. Attach one end of the strip to the positive terminal and the other end to the negative. The “fuse” should burn, igniting the waxed paper.

Another way is to find a wire inside the phone and cut it loose from wherever it is soldered. Strip off the insulation in the middle so that both ends and the middle are bare. Then, attach one end to the positive battery terminal and the other to the negative. This will cause the wire to heat enough that you can ignite some tinder with the bare spot in the middle.

If all else fails, the battery will burn by itself. All you need to do is stick a knife into it and it will ignite, producing a thick smoke. Just make sure you’re ready with your tinder when you do so.

7. Signaling for help

The Smartphone As A Survival Tool? 9 Ways It Can Save Your Life

Image source: Pixabay.com

The LED touch screen for your smartphone is reflective. You can use it to signal airplanes and rescuers by reflecting the light of the sun. To aim it, start by aiming at your hand. Move your hand to be in front of the person you are trying to signal and check that the sunlight is still being reflected onto it. Then simply remove your hand, without moving the mirror. The same light that was on your hand will be shining on the person, attracting their attention.

8. Cutting

There are several parts of the phone that can be used for cutting, with a little sharpening. The green fiberglass circuit board can be sharpened on a rock, making a cutting tool that is good enough for soft materials, such as rope, fabric and meat.

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By shaping and then sharpening the circuit board into the shape of an arrowhead, you can attach it to a stick with wire from the phone or plant stems, making a spear for catching fish.

Most smartphones have some sort of a metal panel in them, which is used for holding things in place. Remove this panel and break off an edge by bending it back and forth. That broken edge will be sharp and work as an emergency knife.

A broken glass screen is already sharp enough to cut with and may be the best knife you can get out of the smartphone. However, if your screen is intact, you’re probably better off using it for signaling.

9. Finding your way

You can make a small compass out of items from your smartphone. Take out the speaker and a small piece of wire. All speakers have magnets in the back. Take the wire and rub one end of it on the back of the speaker to magnetize it. Set the now magnetized wire on a small leaf and float it on a puddle (you have to have water that isn’t moving). It will turn the leaf until the end that you rubbed is pointing north.

What are other ways that a smartphone can be used as a survival tool? Share your tips in the section below:

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6 Popular Survival Strategies That Will Probably Get You Killed

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6 Popular Survival Strategies That Will Probably Get You Killed

Being part of the preparedness community doesn’t guarantee your survival, and it doesn’t mean that you are incapable of making a fatal decision. It doesn’t even mean that you’re automatically going to know what to do and have the things you need to do it with. All it means is that you’ve made a decision to do what you can to prepare yourself and your family, so that when disaster strikes, you’re as prepared as you can be for it.

Granted, going through the process of preparing for emergencies will greatly increase your chances of survival. But that assumes that you don’t make any fatal mistakes. It also assumes that you’re not going to make the wrong decisions about how to prepare.

You’ve got to be careful in this realm, because not everything you hear will be right. While there is some excellent material out there, there’s also some really poor information. You’ll find information written by one expert which directly contradicts what another says. When the supposed experts can’t agree on something, it makes it real hard to figure out what the right answer is.

Part of the problem is that there is no one right answer. There is no one perfect solution for every survival problem. You’ve got to figure out what’s going to work for you, and then you’ve got to do it. But you want to make sure you avoid the deadliest mistakes, such as these:

1. Being a “lone wolf” survivalist.

Survival is hard work — there’s no two ways about it. There are just too many different things that need to be done to ensure that your needs are met. If you try and do it all on your own, you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed with work, without enough hours to do it all.

That’s why we come together in society. Working together, the tasks of survival can be split up, allowing each to concentrate on one part. That makes for greater efficiency, and it reduces the amount of knowledge that each person has to have. In the end, everyone ends up better off.

Rather than trying to make it on your own, find a survival team you can join or start your own. If your extended family or even your circle of friends are like-minded, you’ve already got what you need to have in order to put a survival team together.

2. Planning on living off the land

There was a time when our ancestors lived off the land. Those early pioneers and settlers came to a land that was rich in resources and teeming with game. While living off the land was work, it was possible.

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Things have changed since then. No longer is the land and the game so plentiful. While there is no shortage of game in the woods, many hunters return home empty-handed from their hunting trips. That’s OK when you can stop at the local supermarket and pick up steaks and burgers, but if there’s a breakdown in the supply system and you’re depending on shooting a buck for dinner, you might have too many hungry nights.

America’s population has grown too much to realistically plan on living off the land. Considering that preppers and survivalists make up less than 2 percent of our population and there are more than 300 million firearms in the country, it seems to me that there will be a lot of people out there trying to hunt, and many for the first time.

3. Ignoring the need for a bug-out plan

Most survival writers, myself included, recommend trying to bug in, rather than bug out. There are several reasons for that, most notably the fact that few of us have a good survival retreat to bug out too and even fewer have the bushcraft skills to make a long-term shelter in the wild. Besides, staying home keeps you where your stockpile is, as well as providing you with shelter and familiar surroundings.

6 Popular Survival Strategies That Will Probably Get You Killed

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But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a bug-out plan. Things can happen which make bugging in impractical or even dangerous. If that happens, you’ll need to be ready to get out of Dodge and take your family to a safer place. Hence, the need for a well-thought-out, well-organized plan.

4. Not having a survival retreat

If there’s a chance that you’re going to have to bug out, and there is, then you need a destination that you can reach. Whether that’s a cabin you own in the woods, a friend’s home in a rural community, a cave you found in the wilderness, or even a state park, you need a place that you can go. Actually, you need more than one such place, as not all disasters will treat you the same.

The idea of heading off into the woods and building a log cabin with your tomahawk and wire saw is fantasy, not reality. If you’re going to build that log cabin, then you’re going to need better tools than that. You’re also going to need supplies to keep you going, until you can get to the point where you’re growing your own.

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If you can’t afford that cabin in the woods and don’t have a family member who lives in a rural setting, then you’re going to have to find something else. But more than anything, you’re going to have to pre-position equipment and supplies, so that when you get there, you can survive.

5. Waiting too long to bug out

This is a tricky one, as each disaster is different. Therefore, it’s all but impossible to say with any level of security when you should bug out. You’re going to have to look at the likely threats for the area where you live and try to determine a trigger that you can watch for, which will tell you that it’s time to leave.

Generally speaking, it’s better to bug out when things start looking dangerous, than to stay home. I realize that sounds contradictory to what I said a moment ago, about it being better to bug in, but it really isn’t. Yes, it’s better to bug in, but if you’re going to have to bug out, then do so quickly and don’t waste any time. You want to beat the rush, especially if it’s the type of situation where everyone will be leaving the city and blocking the roads.

6. Having the wrong people in your survival team

I mentioned earlier the importance of having a survival team. But I need to add a word of precaution to that. That is, having the wrong survival team is worse than having no survival team. The last thing you need is to be burdened with are people who don’t have much to contribute when you’re trying to survive.

I’ve seen a number of survival teams through the years, and I see two mistakes being made over and over again. The first is to ignore the personalities of the people who are invited to join the team. If you can’t get along well together, it doesn’t matter what skills they have; it won’t work. Worse than that, if they are lazy and complaining, expecting you to do everything for them, they’ll be a burden.

The other big problem is to concentrate on the wrong skills or accept only skills without preparation. Some skills are more valuable than others, and that needs to be taken into consideration. Someone who is a trained medic is worth a lot to your team. Make sure that each member has skills that truly are to the team’s benefit. In addition, make sure that they invest in the equipment and supplies necessary to put those skills to work when the time comes.

What survival and prepping advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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Stockpiling is the life of the homesteader and survivalist, and it seems like there’s always something new that we find we need to add to it. For many, this means mostly food, but you shouldn’t stop there.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in stockpiling food that we forget other important things. So, I’m going to share with you some of the top needs I’ve seen — many of which are way too easy to overlook in our stockpiling process.

1. Medicines

We all get sick from time to time. Fortunately, our bodies are pretty good at healing themselves from a lot of that, but sometimes they need help. A few common medicines in your supplies could help ensure your long-term survival, as well as helping you deal with more common problems.

Start with over-the-counter medicines. There are a number of things you can buy which will help you deal effectively with day-to-day colds, the flu and those aches and pains we all face. For those, you’ll want to be sure you have:

  • Antihistamine
  • Decongestant
  • Cough suppressants
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Pain relievers
  • Loperamide or Imodium for diarrhea

In addition, you want to make sure to stock up on antibiotics, if you can. Although you usually need to have a prescription to buy antibiotics, you can buy veterinary versions without a prescription — or if you go to Mexico on vacation, you can buy them over-the-counter in any pharmacy.

Don’t forget any prescription medications that family members need. Those are even harder to stock than antibiotics, and will probably require the cooperation of your family doctor. But many will cooperate, if you explain why you want them. They understand the need and are likely to support your efforts to protect your family.

2. First-aid supplies

Medical help is typically overwhelmed in any crisis. Not only that, but it’s often much more difficult to get to where the medical personnel are. With the chances of injury increased, you’d better be ready to take care of them yourself.

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The good thing is, learning first-aid isn’t really all that hard. A few lessons from your local Red Cross or in online tutorials will go a long way toward helping take care of any injuries your family might experience. Supplies, without knowledge, are all but useless.

3. Batteries

Most people think about batteries, but they don’t think about them enough. Consider how many things you have that use those batteries.

You also need to think about the odd-sized batteries that you use. More and more, we find compact electronics using lithium-ion button batteries — what we once called hearing-aid batteries. If you don’t have a stock of those batteries, as well, then the devices that use them will eventually become useless. Take an inventory of all the different types of batteries you use and make sure you have a stock.

Another thing to look at is rechargeable batteries. Most of us have at least some solar power. If you do, then make sure that you can recharge batteries off of it, especially for your most-used electronics, such as radios and flashlights.

4. Candles

22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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Regardless of what light sources you might have, you will probably end up resorting to using candles at some point in time. Candles have the distinct advantage of simplicity, meaning that we can make them ourselves, if needed. All we need is a source of wax, such as a beehive.

The problem with candles is that they only burn so long. You actually need quite a few candles to make it through even a short blackout. So, this is one of those items that you might want to just keep on collecting.

I buy candles at garage sales, where they go for a dime on the dollar, or less. I then melt them down and pour them into spaghetti sauce jars, making my own “survival candles.” Most of these are made with multiple wicks, allowing the candle to put off more light.

5. Candle wick

Speaking of candles, stockpile a spool of candle wick, as well. A couple hundred feet of candle wick will allow you to keep making candles. Regular cordage doesn’t work so good, so for the minimal investment this takes, it’s worth it.

6. Firewood

Most homesteaders and survivalists are planning on heating and cooking with wood in the event of any disaster that takes out the grid. Wood is a renewable resource and one that we can harvest ourselves. But it takes a lot of wood to make it through a winter. You really need to have about six cords of firewood in order to have enough. Of course, if you’re going to be cooking on wood all-year long, then you’ll need more.

7. Fuel

Firewood isn’t the only kind of fuel you’re going to need. While that might be your main heating and cooking fuel, what about everything else? Not only will your car be parked without gasoline, but your chainsaw, your lawn mower and your roto-tiller, as well.

While we may have to get used to living without cars and trucks, those other tools will be even more critical in a survival situation. Having fuel to roto-till your backyard and turn it into a garden will be a critical survival need. So will being able to cut down trees and convert them into firewood.

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But gasoline isn’t the only fuel you may need. If you have kerosene heaters or oil lamps, you’ll need fuel for them, as well. How about propane? Do you have a propane barbecue grille? Are you planning on using a propane camp stove? Granted, there are other options for any of these things, but they aren’t easy ones.

8. Butane lighters and fuel

It has taken years, but I’ve finally moved away from matches as my standard fire-starting tool. I’ve come to realize that a butane lighter is much more efficient, allowing me to light about 1,000 fires and being more compact than a waterproof match container that holds less than 20 matches.

22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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But while many people have opted for disposable butane lighters, I’ve chosen to go with quality. There are a number of reasons for this, most especially because I like having a lighter that the wind can’t blow out. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had more frustration from wind blowing out a lighter that I was trying to use to start a fire, than I care to remember.

A quality, windproof lighter is about the best option around. Most of these are piezo-electric, striking constantly while the gas supply is on. That’s how they make them windproof. Even if the wind tries to blow them out, they relight immediately. They are also refillable. So, a couple of cans of butane lighter fluid will keep you striking a light for years.

9. Flashlights

I have to confess, I’m a bit of a flashlight collector. I don’t know why, but I’ve got flashlights everywhere. I’ve even gone though my house, putting holders in closets and cabinets, so that there is always a flashlight in every room. That way, if the lights go out, nobody has to go stumbling around to find a flashlight.

But no flashlight lasts forever, not even the modern tactical lights. While I haven’t had any problems with high-grade tactical flashlights, I have had a number of med-grade and el-cheapo tactical lights go dead. And by dead, I mean really dead.

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So don’t think that having a flashlight is enough. Have several. Have several spares. That stockpile of batteries isn’t going to take care of you if you don’t have the lights with which to use them.

10. Building materials

This one may sound like an oddball to some, but I’m a firm believer in including at least some building supplies in my stockpile. That’s because the most likely disaster that any of us will face is a natural disaster. Those tend to damage homes, meaning that you need to be ready to make emergency repairs.

Now, when I’m saying emergency repairs, I’m not talking about fixing the trim. I’m talking about drying-in your home in the case that a tree branch comes through the roof. You can do that with a minimal of materials. It may not be pretty, but it will keep you dry.

11. Hardware

This one goes hand-in-hand with the building materials. If you’re going to fix things, you’re going to need hardware – screws, nails and such — to do it. There are also a lot of other things you can fix, even without the building materials, if you have the hardware. Put in a goodly stock, making sure you have lots of variety.

12. Hand tools

22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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In today’s society we’ve become dependent on power tools. Like everyone else, I’ve got a good collection of them in my workshop. But I also have hand tools for just about everything, so that even if I don’t have electrical power, I can keep on working.

It’s not unusual in a survival situation to find yourself having to build things to help you survive. Having the right tools, to go along with the building materials I just mentioned, makes it possible for you to make shelter, furniture and a host of other things.

13. Sandbags

There are few places in the country which are immune to flooding. Even areas which are extremely arid flood at times. Whether due to hurricanes, or flash floods upstream, we are all at risk of the possibility of flooding.

Of course, there are a lot of different ways of dealing with flooding, but the most basic is with sandbags. Stacked sandbags have stood the test of time, both for their convenience and their effectiveness.

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In a time where flooding is expected, many municipalities have centralized sand piles that are usable for filling your sandbags. But you can stock your own sand, too, simply by building the kids a nice big sandbox. Make sure it’s big, so you’ll have plenty of sand; that way you’ll be able to fill all your bags.

14. Repair tarts

Speaking of repairing, you need to look at all of your survival equipment from the viewpoint of making repairs on it. It’s great to have a pump for water; but if the pump breaks down, it’s no more valuable than a paperweight. You’ve got to be able to repair that pump, as well as your chainsaw, your roto-tiller and your solar power system.

In most cases, the parts that can go bad in these devices are usually fairly simple things, like seals. Such things are referred to as “maintenance parts,” simply because replacing them from time to time is considered part of normal maintenance. Manufacturers will often sell kits of these common parts, which is an ideal way to make sure you have what you need.

Of course, having the parts is only part of the battle. You’ll need the tools and knowledge, as well, in order to make those repairs. So, make sure you have the necessary information on how to work on the device, as well as any specialty tools necessary.

15. Clothing

Few people think of stockpiling clothing, mostly because we all have closets full of them. But the clothes we wear every day may not be appropriate for a survival situation. If you wear jeans and work shirts all the time, then you’re set, but if you work in an office, you aren’t going to have clothes that are rugged enough for the work you’ll need to be doing.

So you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of:

  • Jeans
  • Work shirts
  • Work jackets (for winter)
  • Work gloves
  • Wool socks
22 Survival Items (Other Than Food And Water) Your Stockpile Needs

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The other big issue here is children. They have this bad habit of outgrowing their clothes, at times just about as fast as you can buy them. You need to have at least a couple of sizes of clothing larger than what they are wearing now in order to be sure that you have enough to keep them going until a good barter system can be put in place.

My wife used to buy our children’s clothes a couple of years ahead-of-time when they were small. Part of this was that she was a consummate garage-saler. So she’d buy what she could, knowing that the kids would need it later. We had boxes of clothes in the attic, all broken down into sizes by child.

A similar system would be ideal for your needs, if you have children. Instead of buying them the clothes they need now, work your way up to buying them the clothes they’ll need in two years. When you take the next size out of the attic, start filling a box with one size bigger than what you have. That way, you’ve always got clothing for them, for at least a couple of years.

16. Sewing supplies

Speaking of clothing; that stuff has a bad habit of tearing, especially when you’re doing hard physical work. So you’ll want to make sure you have a good stock of needles and thread on hand for making repairs. You’ll also want buttons, zippers and other such goodies, to keep your clothing in repair.

If the lady of the house is one who sews, make sure that you get a treadle sewing machine sometime. You can still find them at antique shops and (every now and then) even Goodwill stores. Between that and a stock of fabric, you’ll be in good shape for clothing.

17. Sturdy boots

Few people wear hiking boots on a daily basis. If we wear boots, they’re more the decorative kind. About the sturdiest shoe we ever wear is a pair of tennis shoes … not really all that sturdy. But in the case of survival, good sturdy boots are essential, especially ones that will offer you good ankle support. The last thing you will need is a broken ankle from twisting it on rough ground.

Don’t just depend on one pair of boots, though; they can wear out. Have a couple of pair, and alternate using them, so they will both break in well.

18. Water filter systems

Many of us have some sort of water filtering unit as our primary means of water purification. But once the cartridge or filter has purified the number of gallons of water it is intended for, it’s dead.

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There really isn’t an “ideal” number of filters to have. Just make sure that whatever you have, it’s plenty for your needs. Then add a couple more, just for good measure.

19. Personal hygiene supplies

Someone once said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” I’m not so sure about that, but I am sure it is next to good health. While it is both possible and fairly easy to make soap, that requires a source of lye. If you don’t have that source, then you can’t make it. So, even something that simple needs to be considered in your supplies. But soap isn’t the only personal hygiene supply you can make. Take a look around the Internet and you’ll find a plethora of recipes for anything from deodorants to cosmetics.

20. Cleaning supplies

One of the best ways to keep bugs and rodents out of your home is to keep it clean. Both are attracted to food residue, especially sugar. This is a common means for the spread of disease, so you’ll need to watch out for it.

You’re best off buying commercial concentrates and stockpiling those. Not only do they take less space, but you’ll find that by buying them by the gallon, you’ll save money. Just make sure to have a good stock of spray bottles (which are cheap) to go with them.

There are many recipes on the Internet for making your own cleaning supplies, too — some from natural ingredients. Once again, you’ll need to make sure that you have access to those supplies, but some may actually be growing in your garden already.

21. Heirloom seeds

Most homesteaders and survivalists are already gardening. In a situation where you have to be able to depend on the produce you are growing, heirloom seeds are the only way to go.

As part of your gardening efforts, you should be trying to harvest the seeds from your garden. Those seeds will be the beginning of next year’s garden. In olden times, farmers commonly saved seeds from their harvest so that they would have it for next year. When you can’t run to the local store and buy seeds, that’s the only way you’ll get them.

But I want to mention one other thing here. That is, if a major disaster strikes, where you’ll have to live off of what you grow for the foreseeable future, then one of the first things you’re going to need to do is to expand your garden. That means you’ll need enough seeds on hand to do that. It will already be too late to buy more. So, how many seeds will you need to turn your entire backyard into a garden?

22. Ammunition

This one is kind of obvious, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Many people out there talk about having 10,000 rounds of ammo. That’s great — if you’re planning on fighting a small war; but if your focus is hunting, then you may be stocking the wrong thing.

Think this one through. Yes, you need ammo for home defense. You also need ammo for hunting. You may even need ammo for training your children and other members of your family. So take the time to figure out how much ammo you’ll actually use for each of these needs — and then double it. That should see you through.

In addition to teaching your kids, think in terms of skills that you’ll need to learn. You’re probably working on those right now, and that’s great. But if you’re anything like me, there’s never enough time for all you want to learn. So, stock up on some good books to teach you those skills when the time comes. That way, you won’t be without them.

What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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Flee The Cities: The Biblical Case For Bugging Out

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Flee The Cities: The Biblical Case For Bugging OutMany survival writers and instructors have tackled the problematic question of bugging out versus bugging in. For the most part, we all say that the average person is better off bugging in, than they are bugging out. I’ve taken that stand myself on more than one occasion, but I’m not so sure that the Lord agrees with me.

Jesus Himself actually addressed this issue in the Gospel of Matthew, saying:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) 16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. (Matthew 24:15-18)

This is about as clear a description of bugging out as you can ask for, taking into account biblical language, as compared to today’s language. The term “bugging out” wasn’t part of the ancient Hebrew language, nor was it part of their culture. Nevertheless, we find Jesus admonishing those who were listening to Him to flee when the abomination of desolation should appear.

The first question that this section of Scripture begs is: What is this abomination of desolation? There are many ways that that phrase can be understood, both in a cultural context of that day, as well as taking it to be in reference to End Time theology. The fact that reference is made to Daniel’s prophecy makes us quickly jump to thinking of End Time theology, but Daniel’s prophecies actually started being fulfilled long ago. So, it could refer to events in Jesus’ time.

If you look at most commentaries, you’ll find that this abomination of desolation refers to the Roman army and their destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. That would tend to close the story, showing us that prophecy had been fulfilled and we need not concern ourselves with this verse — except for one thing … the context.

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When we talk about context, we are asking ourselves two things: Who was he talking to and in regards to what? This is extremely important, especially when we are talking about biblical prophecy. It is always imperative in biblical interpretation to take context into account. Most false doctrine comes about from failure to obey this one precept.

Earlier in the chapter we find the answer to those questions. It says in verse three that “…the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’”

This then answers the question of who Jesus was talking to and in what context. He was talking to His disciples, in private, responding to a question about His return and the End Times. This is important, because even though He hid many things from the crowds who gathered to hear Him speak, Jesus was always honest in answering His chosen disciples.

Flee The Cities: The Biblical Case For Bugging OutSo, while Jesus might have made reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in this passage, we also know that He was talking to His disciples about His return and the End Times. That puts the verse into a totally different timeframe. This is no longer something that just referred to the Jews or to His disciples, but it is something that applies to every believer from the time of Christ up until the End Times have been completed. Since that hasn’t happened yet, that includes us as well.

Before giving this instruction, Jesus gives His disciples a number of “signs” that the end is coming:

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:5-8

These signs have been used throughout the ages to say that the time of the Lord’s return is near. But tell me, when in the history of the world have there not been wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes? There always have been and there always will be. That isn’t the answer. In fact, right in the middle of all that, Jesus said, “all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

Jesus refers to those times as “the beginning of sorrows.” What an apt name. Whenever any of those events happen, they bring sorrow, regardless of whether they are connected to the End Time prophecy or not. No, they aren’t portents of the End Times; they are just the problems of life.

So, what is the sign of the end coming, then? If we go back to verse 15, we see it; the “abomination of desolation.” Jesus is clear. He says that when we see that sign, then we are to flee; then we are to “bug out.” But what is the abomination of desolation?

That we don’t know. If we were to take it as the Roman Army, as many have, then we could say that UN troops rolling down the road would be that sign. But UN troops have rolled down many roads around the world in the last 50 years, without the end coming. So, I would have to say that this would be a false sign, nothing more.

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In reality, we don’t know what this name refers to. We just know that it is associated with End Time prophecy and that when it comes, it’s time to flee.

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Historically, mankind has been very poor at interpreting prophecy before it happens. Perhaps that’s because we’re not supposed to be able to identify it before it happens, but rather, as it’s happening. We can look back and see prophecy fulfilled, but when we look forward to see it coming, we tend to misinterpret it. Even our greatest End Times theologians are probably making mistakes in their interpretation. We will never know until those events come to pass.

We do know the end is coming. We also know that it will be a worldwide event. We also know, from what Jesus said in these verses, that when it comes, we’d better get out of town. So I would say prudence is our best course of action. When a worldwide catastrophe comes, it’s time to grab out survival kits or bug-out bags, and head for the hills. For that matter, we’d better have our bags with us, because Jesus warns us not to go into our homes to grab them.

Why would Jesus say this? Clearly He knows things that we don’t. He has already foreseen these events and knows exactly what is going to happen. In the light of this, He is giving us a warning: Get out.

So, I don’t know about you, but if I see a worldwide event unfolding around us, I’m fleeing. I’ll figure out if I’m right or wrong later.

In the larger sense, there is some wisdom in bugging out. In almost any disaster scenario you can imagine, city dwellers will have a harder time than those in the suburbs, and those in the suburbs will have a harder time than those in rural areas. So, maybe it’s time to rethink our philosophy. If the Lord says it’s better to flee than to be caught in the city, who are we to argue?

Obviously, that means having a plan, a destination and the proper preparations in place to survive, once we bug out. While Jesus may say run, without returning to the house to grab your coat, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared. Yes, we must put our trust in Him, but we are responsible for doing our own part as well.

Do you agree or disagree with the writer? Share your thoughts in the section below:

6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

The American culture survives on a lifeline of electrical wires. This power grid crisscrosses the country, bringing electricity to homes, offices, factories, warehouses, farms, traffic lights and even campgrounds. Pretty much everywhere you go, you can count on being able to plug in and have electricity to use.

It’s a good thing we have the grid, as we use it extensively. Pretty much everything we use today requires electricity in one form or another. Our homes, places of businesses, entertainment and shopping are all made possible by electronic devices. Those devices do everything from pump our gas to heat our homes. They bring us information through the Internet and entertainment through our televisions. They keep our food from spoiling and cook it when we’re ready to eat. Without electricity, we could do little that we do today.

Granted, there are non-electrical means of doing many things that we depend on for electricity. Carpenters built homes before having electric power tools. Homemakers cooked food for their families without the array of electric appliances that we use today. Businesses were able to run without computers. But that was years ago. Today, we are dependent on those thin wires, carrying much-needed electricity into our homes and businesses.

It’s clear that damage to the power grid, whether the work of enemies or due to some natural disaster, would be disastrous to our country. According to the report of the congressionally funded EMP Commission, loss of the power grid for one year would result in the death of nine out of every 10 Americans.

Here are six reasons all of us should be concerned about the power grid:

1. The age of the grid.

Our electrical grid is old. Originally designed to last 50 years, many parts have already surpassed that. There are even parts that are about 100 years old. Yet little is being done to replace the aged parts. This has resulted in the American Society of Civil Engineers giving the power grid a D+ for reliability.

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6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Part of the problem is financial. Currently, the grid needs an estimated trillion dollars worth of repairs and upgrades. Power companies, many of which run on a narrow margin, say they can’t afford to replace aged equipment, so they keep patching it up and using it. This is especially true of the companies who own the oldest equipment.

The other part is governmental. Everything from installing a new power pole to building a nuclear power plant requires an enormous amount of red tape. A wide number of government agencies have their finger in the pie, making the job all that much more complex.

2. Increased blackouts.

According to statistics gathered by the Department of Energy, major blackouts are on the upswing. Incredibly, over the past two decades, blackouts impacting at least 50,000 customers have increased 124 percent, according to DOE data. This is mostly the result of our aging grid; with equipment staying online longer than its programmed life, chances of problems increase.

But we’re not just talking about power plants here. Much of the thousands of miles of wiring that makes up the grid is old, too. The weather takes its toll. Pretty much every major storm leaves people without power, and work crews rushing to make repairs. However, in recent years, those repairs have been larger and have taken longer to accomplish.

3. The war on electricity.

6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Most people have heard of President Obama’s war on coal – which Hillary Clinton supports — but the liberal war on power is much older than that. For decades, they’ve been waging a war on nuclear power, claiming that it is dangerous and that it pollutes.

While both of those are true, the reality of it is nowhere near the hype that is used to demonize nuclear power. In fact, it is one of the cleanest forms of power we have. It is also one of the cheapest sources of electrical power there is, mostly due to the fact that there is almost no “fuel” consumed for the huge amount of power that a nuclear power plant can produce.

Yet government agencies, particularly the EPA, have been holding up the works on building new nuclear power plants.

The war on coal compounds this, working to take away our most plentiful means of electrical power production.

4. Risk of an EMP or solar storm.

One of the biggest dangers our power grid faces today is that of an EMP attack or solar storm. A high-altitude EMP, created by a nuclear device exploded 300 miles over the center of the country, could kill the entire grid, as well as destroying the vast majority of our electronics. Almost nothing has been done to prepare for this threat. Additionally, a major solar storm – such as the 1859 one that took out telegraph machines – could wipe out the power grid.

Both North Korea and Iran have publically stated a desire to destroy the United States. North Korea has nuclear bombs and is working hard at improving their missile technology.

Either of these countries, both of which are enemies, could destroy the United States with one EMP explosion, launched from a cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Even with missile technology as simple as the SCUD missile, which dates back to the German V2 rocket at the end of World War II, a large part of the country’s grid could be put out of commission. With two to three simultaneous attacks, using these simple missiles, the entire country would go dark.

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We have no defenses against an EMP – or protection against a solar storm. Some parts of the military are protected, but not even the government is properly protected, let alone the rest of us.

The transformers within the power grid are custom built for each substation, meaning that there is no inventory of replacements. If several are taken out, it could take months to replace them.

5. Possibility of cyber-warfare.

6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Every day our power grid is “tickled” by foreign hackers, attempting to infiltrate and find ways of taking control and cutting off our power. The cutting edge of cyber-warfare is in China, with Russia close behind. Our defenses against cyber-attack are weak, something you can be sure our enemies know.

It is believed at the highest levels of our intelligence community that China could shut down our power grid at any time. This has already been done in other countries; one example was when Russia shut down the grid in the Ukraine. If they can do it, you can be sure that China can, as well. They started the idea of cyber-warfare.

6. Direct terrorist attacks against the grid.

It wouldn’t take anything as sophisticated as cyber-warfare or an EMP to take down the grid. In 2014, an attack was conducted on a power substation in San Jose, California. While the perpetrators were never caught, many think this was a practice run for a direct terrorist attack.

In fact, taking out as few as nine critical substations in the country could destroy the entire grid, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report. While the locations of those particular substations are a tightly held secret, our enemies certainly are trying to learn where they are.

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The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

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The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

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Probably the biggest problem associated with bugging out is having a place to go. A few survivalists or preppers have a cabin in the woods or a bunker buried somewhere, but most of us don’t, simply because we can’t afford it.

Please note that I don’t consider just bugging out to the wild a viable alternative. Few people have the necessary skills to play Grizzly Adams and live off the land. And trying to do that, with what you can carry in your bug-out bag, is a recipe for disaster. You just can’t carry the tools you need to be able to build a cabin and cultivate crops in the wild. Nobody can.

What if I were to tell you that you can build that bug-out retreat and you can do it relatively cheap? Now, let me define “cheap” here. I’m talking about building something for a few thousand dollars, maybe as much as $5,000, but definitely less than $10,000. Compared to what a cabin in the woods costs, that’s cheap.

There are two basic things you need in order to create a bug-out retreat: land and a shelter. With that as a starting point, you can work on putting together the rest. So, let’s start with those.

Land

Overall, land is expensive. But it is still possible to buy land cheap, if you aren’t picky about what you buy. Land values are based upon the land’s utility, so the key is to find land that doesn’t have any real utility. While that land isn’t going to have electricity, water, phone service and city sewer, that doesn’t mean it’s totally useless. In fact, if you can come up with those things on your own, then that land becomes ideal for a bug-out retreat.

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What makes this land (usually referred to as “junk land”) so attractive for a bug-out retreat is that it is in places where people aren’t likely to go. We’re talking about land that’s out in the middle of nowhere — not close to any body of water, not close to any major highways, and you can just forget about finding a local electric company, let alone getting them to run wires out to your property.

But because this land is so unattractive to other buyers, you can buy it for next to nothing. I’ve seen land like this go for as little as $160 per acre. At that price, a 5- or 10-acre lot is still cheap.

The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

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The biggest problem with this land, from a survival point of view, is water. You’re either going to have to count on rainwater collection or drilling a well — unless you want to haul water in. So, before buying any junk land, you want to figure out a water plan. That means doing some research — specifically into the annual rainfall and how low the water table is.

Surprisingly, the first layer of water-bearing sand isn’t usually as deep as most people think. If you talk to a well driller, they’ll tell you it’s hundreds of feet down. But they’re looking for really good water, as well as the bigger fees that come with those deep wells. There are ways that you can put in 20- to 100-foot wells yourself, without paying a fortune.

Preparing Your Land

Before going much further in preparing any bug-out shelter, you’re going to need to do some preparation of the land. More than anything, this means developing some means to get water, putting in a rudimentary septic system, and coming up with some way of producing electrical power.

Water

Of these, finding water is the hardest, which is why I listed it as a deal-breaker on any land you explore. But if you can get enough water on your land to survive, then you can do the rest. Keep in mind that you’ll not only need water for drinking and cooking, but also for cleaning and gardening. So forget about the “gallon of water per person a day” that some people reference. Even with being cautious of your water usage, you’re probably going to need somewhere between 20 to 50 gallons per day.

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But that’s doable, even from a shallow well. Remember, our ancestors lived without wasting 100 gallons a day watering their lawns and running their washing machines, and we can, too. In many parts of the world, there are still families living on five gallons of water per day.

Sewage

Sewage is easy. At its simplest, you need to dig a hole in the ground. If you want to do a little better, you can create a two-tank septic system out of 55-gallon drums and a leech field for it out of plastic pipe and some gravel. That would merely be a scaled-down version of what is used for a home.

Part of the reason you can use a scaled-down septic system is that you can reuse your grey water. Every drop of water you use for washing clothes, dishes and bodies can be reused, either for washing something else, or for watering your garden. That will do wonders to reduce your water usage. I’ve watered my garden for years with grey water and it hasn’t hurt the plants a bit.

Electricity

While electricity production isn’t really a requirement, we live in a society that is highly dependent on electricity. Having some electrical power production capability on site will make life easier in your bug-out retreat, even if that capacity is limited.

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Actually, in the case of many types of disasters, your own electrical power production will be more reliable than depending on the grid. So, be sure to put in a wind turbine or some solar panels, whichever will work better in your area, along with a battery backup system. That way, you’ll be able to use your electronics.

Shelter

The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

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Okay, so now that you’ve got your land and you’ve done some work on it, the next big issue is shelter. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about a lot of different sorts of survival shelters over the years, and most of those are good. But personally, I’d rather be comfortable.

There are people who build a cabin out of 100 percent scavenged materials. Those are impressive. I’ll have to say that I’ve seen some amazing things built out of scavenged materials, like the cabin that a couple built with a front wall made of scavenged windows. But that requires a lot of time that you dedicate to scavenging the materials and lots of time to turn them into something usable.

There is another option that I’d like to show you — one that you may not have thought about. That’s to use a travel trailer. Now, before you tell me that travel trailers are expensive, take a look on eBay or Craigslist. While there are plenty of expensive travel trailers there, you’ll also see some older ones which can be bought for a song … or maybe two songs.

Look for one that needs some tender love and elbow grease; that’s how you get a trailer cheap. Add a little patience to that recipe, so that you don’t rush out and bid on something that’s beyond what you can afford. Remember: If you don’t win the bid, another one will come along.

A little elbow grease and a few hand tools will go a long way toward saving you thousands of dollars on a travel trailer. Buying one that needs work makes for a good project to work on evenings and weekends, and you can even turn it into a family project that you work on together.

The biggest advantage of this means of building a shelter is that you don’t have to change your entire life to do it. The change from living in a house to living in a trailer is much easier than that of moving into a yurt. At least you’ll have beds you recognize, as well as real cabinets to store things in. You’ll even have a real bathroom with a real toilet you can use.

Putting it All Together

Obviously, there are going to be a lot of other details you’ll need to discuss and work on to finish out your bug-out retreat. But these are the two biggest expenses. If you think about it, everything else is going to be pretty much the same, whether you bug out or bug in. So, those expenses are mostly identical.

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Little-Noticed Septic Tank Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Little-Noticed Septic Tank Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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I happen to be fortunate that I live in a somewhat undeveloped bedroom community. I call it somewhat undeveloped because we don’t have all the things that you would normally expect a community to have. I have to drive six miles each way to the grocery store, about the same to the hardware store, and a mile if I need a gallon of milk. One other thing about this community: While we have running water, we have no sewage system.

Many of my neighbors are actually upset about this — complaining to our city government, because they haven’t invested however many millions of dollars it will cost to put in a sewage treatment plant and then another so many million dollars to tear up all of our streets and put in sewage lines. But to me, it’s a blessing in disguise.

Remember the Carnival Cruise Line ship that was adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days, after an engine room fire, in 2013? Passengers testified that not only did the running water give out, but that human waste was running down and seeping under the walls, due to the lack of running water.

During a disaster when the electricity is out and there is no running water, can you imagine how wonderful your neighborhood will smell when everyone’s sewage is backed up, due to a lack of running water? If there isn’t enough electrical power to run the pumps for our water, I can guarantee you that there won’t be enough power for the sewage pumps, either.

Without running water and in some cases pumps to pump the sewage, there is literally nowhere for it to go … at least, not for most people.

But for those of us who are still on old-fashioned septic systems, well, that’s another story. While my septic system still requires water, it doesn’t require anywhere near as much water as the city sewer system does. As long as I have enough water to flush my toilets, I won’t have to dig an outhouse or bag up human waste for disposal.

How a Septic System Works

But first, let me explain how a septic system works. Most home systems consist of two 500 gallon tanks, connected together and buried in the backyard. All the drain water from the house enters the first tank, where the solids settle out of it. The effluent (the liquid part, after the solids settle) flows through a short pipe mounted near the top of the tank and enters the second tank. When that tank reaches full, the water flows out of it to the leach field.

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The leach field is the secret of any septic system. The two tanks are there to collect solids and allow them to break down. Bacteria in the water attack the solids, doing their work in the recycling process. With two tanks, all the solids manage to settle, even the paper.

Little-Noticed Septic Tank Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Four-inch pipes carry water from the tanks to the leach field. These pipes are perforated along the sides, allowing the water to flow out and into a gravel bed, where it can dissipate. Unfortunately, those holes also allow tree roots to find their way in.

The water entering the leach field is actually fairly clean, if you ignore the discoloration and the slight odor. Since the gravel bed is only a couple of feet below the surface of your yard, it can water the grass, trees and rose bushes. But most of it evaporates into the air, turning it into perfectly clean, pure water vapor, that falls to the ground once again as rain.

What Can Go Wrong?

The thing that most people don’t like about septic systems is that they have to be pumped out every two to three years. That’s to remove the solids which gather in the system. While the two tanks have a combined capacity of 1,000 gallons, you really don’t want more than about 300 gallons of solids, before the tanks are pumped out. That way, the water going into the leach field will be fairly clean.

Failure to pump out the system regularly could lead to solids going into the leach field and plugging up the pipes. My system actually had that happen. The builders had connected all the pipes from the house to the second tank, rather than the first, so the solids had a much easier time of finding their way to the leach field pipes than they should. Nevertheless, the system still lasted 32 years before the leach field had to be rebuilt.

It’s recommended to not use bleach with a septic tank system, because the same bleach that whitens your clothes and kills bacteria on surfaces, also will kill the bacteria in your septic tank, if you let it get in there.

The other big thing that can go wrong with a septic tank system is for tree roots to get into the leach field, the pipes and even the tanks themselves. I also had this happen to mine. Most contractors don’t use PVC cement when connecting drainage pipes together. This offers an opportunity for tree roots to find their way into the pipes. But that’s not the worst. If the drain pipes aren’t connected to the tank properly, then roots can get in there.

Roots in the pipes or in the entrance to the tanks will plug up your drains, eventually causing them to back up. The solution is to kill off the roots and clean out the lines with a power snake and a root cutter.

But tree roots are even more likely to get into the leach field than they are into the sewage pipes and septic tanks. While a few roots aren’t a problem, eventually they will reach a point where they can plug up the leach field pipes and prevent the water from actually reaching the gravel bed. When that happens, it’s time to replace the leach field.

Using Your Septic System as Part of Your Survival Plan

If your survival plan is to bug in, sheltering in place, you’ll want to make sure your septic system is ready for it. That means being sure to have the septic tank cleaned out on a regular schedule, perhaps even more often that necessary. That way, it will have capacity when you need it most.

The other thing you need to do is ensure that your leach field is in good shape. If your system is draining slowly, with the water not soaking into the ground as fast as it should, then it’s possible that you need to replace your leach field. The newer technology for leach fields is actually better, replacing the four-inch pipe with a two-foot wide leaching chamber. This has much more capacity, is cheaper to install, doesn’t require gravel and is more or less impervious to the problems caused by roots.

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15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

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15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

We tend to think that stockpiling food and supplies for an emergency is a modern invention. But it’s not. It actually started thousands of years ago, with people stockpiling food for a snowy day. Those ancestors of ours knew something that most of us today have forgotten: the fact that winter comes every year and you can’t grow crops or hunt game very effectively when the freeze hits.

In fact, the earliest recorded instance of stockpiling is in Chapter 41 of Genesis, in the Bible. Joseph, a son of Abraham, correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and instituted a system of stockpiling grain in preparation for the seven years of famine.

To the pioneers, stockpiling had to be a way of life. When Old Man Winter came to call, the only thing that would keep them alive was the food and fuel they had stored. If they were not ready, chances were that they wouldn’t make it through the winter.

Those who stockpile are returning back to the roots that our pioneering ancestors established, taking matters into their own hands.

So what sorts of things did the pioneers stockpile — and why did they stockpile them?

We can really break down the pioneer’s stockpiling into two categories — things that they bought and things that they raised, hunted, preserved or prepared themselves. The things from the store were precious to many of these people, as they didn’t have much cash money to spend. It was only when they sold a cash crop that they were actually able to pay off their account at the local general store and buy themselves a few new items.

Things the Pioneers Bought and Stockpiled

A trip to the general store was a big deal in those days and something that a pioneer might only do once a month, or less. It might be an all-day affair, which took time away from working the farm. Nevertheless, they had to make it to town once in a while for supplies, or they were stuck with living solely off the land.

1. Wheat flour and other grains

While many farmers raised grain, they usually didn’t eat their own. Their grain would be sold and then they’d turn around and buy flour and other ground grains from the general store. A few people would have their own hand-operated mills for grinding grains, but those were for grinding cornmeal, rather than flour.

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Going back in history, we find that grinding grain was a major part of a woman’s housework. In Medieval times, a woman might spend as many as six hours per day grinding grain so that she could make the bread of the day. Being able to buy ground wheat was one of the first true kitchen conveniences.

Bread was an important staple in the diet. It was a great source of carbohydrates, giving them the energy they needed to burn during the day. Of course, the breads they ate back then were very different than today’s, being much harder and heartier than our modern bread.

2. Baking soda

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

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You couldn’t bake bread without baking soda, unless you happened to have yeast. Of course, many people made sourdough bread, always saving a bit of the dough to act as a starter for the next batch. But sourdough starter doesn’t work for biscuits, pies or bear sign (what they called donuts). So a stock of baking soda gave them much more variety in their diet.

3. Salt

Salt has always been highly valued. In fact, in the Roman Empire part of a soldier’s pay was given in salt. That became the root of the word “salary.” We need salt in our diets to survive, as well as to preserve meats. While some pioneers would harvest it themselves from salt licks, that only worked for those who had a natural salt lick on their property.

4. Sugar

While not an absolute necessity, sugar was an important item to stockpile. Not only is it used as part of the process of canning fruit, but even the toughest of cowboys and miners wanted a sweet treat every now and then.

5. Rice

Like grains, rice was an important staple for many people. But it wasn’t grown in many parts of the country, making it an item pioneers picked up at the general store.

6. Bacon

Bacon managed to become the default travel meat of choice in pioneering days. Cowboys would carry a chunk of bacon in their saddlebags, wagon trains carried it, and most families had a few slabs on hand. If you had bacon, you had meat to eat.

7. Coffee and tea

Who doesn’t like a good cup of coffee? Actually, coffee drinking in this country started with the Revolutionary War, in response to the Stamp Tax. Rather than pay the tax for British imported teas, many people switched over to coffee. Whereas before the revolution most people drank tea, after it the nation switched to coffee. By the time of the revolution, tea was mostly drunk only by the wealthy.

8. Dried beans

Just as it is for the average homesteader today, dried beans were a favorite staple for the pioneers. Chili con carne became a popular dish, starting in Texas and then moving north along the cow trails. Eventually, it was eaten all across the west.

Beans also could be eaten alone, or with tortillas. The Southwest culture had a strong Mexican influence, including the eating of refried beans as a staple. Many a meal was beans and biscuits or beans and bread. Even when they had meat, beans were often served on the side.

9. Dried and canned fruit

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times Some people grew fruit. When they did, they’d can it or dry it. But not all kinds of fruit can be grown in all parts of the country. Besides that, not everyone was a farmer. The general store would stock dried and canned fruit, making it possible for people to buy these foods.

Since it kept well, dried fruit was another popular trail food, both for wagon trains and for drifting cowboys. It helped give variety to an otherwise dull diet, as well as providing them something sweet to eat.

Things the Pioneers Grew, Hunted, Preserved and Prepared

Many pioneers were involved in farming and ranching. Those who were grew as much of what they ate as they could. Since cash money was so rare, being able to hunt, gather or grow your own food was a real advantage. Even townspeople would have a garden patch behind their homes, growing their own vegetables and herbs.

10. Smoked meats

One of the signs that you’d “made it” was to have a smokehouse on your property. While the ability to smoke your own meats was incredibly useful, not everyone could afford the time or expense to build one. Those who could were usually well-established families who already had their homes and barns built. By then, they were producing enough that it was worthwhile to be able to smoke meats when it was time to slaughter a cow or pig.

11. Jerky

The pioneers learned how to make jerky from the Native Americans. While smoking was great, not everyone had a smokehouse. Plus, jerky lasts longer than smoked meats and is much more portable. Drifting cowboys and other travelers would often take jerky along just to ensure they had some meat to eat. A few strips of jerky and a couple of campfire biscuits made a pretty good lunch in the saddle.

12. Corn

Many pioneers grew their own corn, even if it was just enough for their family. They might grow wheat or some other grain for sale, but they’d put in a small patch of corn, as well. That corn was usually dried and kept for making cornmeal.

13. Vegetables

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard TimesA vegetable garden alongside or behind the house was almost a requirement for pioneer families. Without it, their food would be bland and repetitive. Not only did they grow their own veggies, but their own herbs, as well.

Most vegetables were harvested and kept in a root cellar, not canned. Canning required owning a goodly supply of canning jars, something that most people didn’t have. It wasn’t until later, when towns were well-established and trade was more regular, that canning jars became common in the west.

14. Feed for the animals

Anyone who had animals had to consider their needs. Whether horses, cows or chickens, they were a valuable part of the homestead and needed to eat. Just like the family would stockpile food to get themselves through the winter, they’d stack hay and other feed for their farm animals.

Most hay was cut from wild grass growing near the farm. It would be cut by hand with a scythe and stacked in towering haystacks for the winter months. Some farmers who had larger barns with lofts would stack the hay in the loft. But that required hay bales, which meant having the equipment for baling hay. So that only happened in well-established areas on well-established farms.

15. Firewood

The only heat that most homes had was from the fireplace or wood-burning stove. That created the need for a wood pile, which was started in the spring so the wood could dry through the hot summer. In some places, they would stack their wood to act as a defensive breastwork for the home, giving themselves a good firing position for any attacks from Native Americans.

What items would you add to our list of what the pioneers stockpiled? Share what you know in the section below:

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9 Ways To Survive Off-Grid Without Air Conditioning (Just Like Our Ancestors Did)

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9 Ways To Survive Off-Grid Without Air Conditioning (Just Like Our Ancestors Did)

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It’s common to talk about keeping warm as part of survival, but few people actually bother to talk about keeping cool. Yet, for those of us who live in the south, keeping cool in the summertime can be as much of a survival issue, as keeping warm is for our northern cousins.

We solve that problem in true American fashion, by staying indoors and keeping our home, places of business and even cars air conditioned. But what about when the power goes out? What can we do then? Air conditioning consumes a lot of electricity to operate, so without electrical power, we have no readily available means of cooling … or do we? After all, our ancestors survived this sort of climate; so if they could do it, we should be able to do it, too.

The trick, as with many other parts of urban survival, is to look at how our ancestors did things a century or two ago and figure out how to adapt that to our modern-day lives.

Obvious Means of Cooling

1. Stay in the Shade

While the ambient air temperature in the shade isn’t really any cooler than it is in the sun, the apparent air temperature can be quite different. The sun beating down on our skin turns to heat, adding to the heat we’re receiving from the air around us. So, judicious use of shade is a valuable tool.

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This needs to be a factor in how we design our homes, as well, especially in our use of landscaping. Building a house where it is overshadowed by large trees is a great way to keep it cool. Those of our ancestors who could do so built their homes where shade already existed. Those who couldn’t often planted trees as soon as they moved in, especially on the south side of their home.

Another manifestation of this is the wrap-around porch. These weren’t built so much as to give people a place to sit outside in the shade — although they did do that — but to keep the sunlight from coming through the downstairs rooms. At the same time, the sun wasn’t heating the ground up right around the home, causing the breeze coming through the windows to heat up before entering the home.

2. Use Fans

Sweating is the body’s natural means of shedding excess heat. When the sweat evaporates, it absorbs large amount of heat from our bodies, cooling us. Wind, in any form, helps to improve that cooling process by speeding up the evaporation process.

Homes built in the south were often situated in such a way as to catch whatever breeze was available, especially the homes of the wealthy. A good breeze can make any home seem cooler than it actually is — and make it rather enjoyable to live there.

The whole idea of building summer homes along the beach stems from this idea. An offshore breeze will often be cooler, simply because of the evaporation of seawater. By building a summer home on the shore, wealthy people were able to escape the stifling heat of the city.

3. Go for a Swim

Of course, the other advantage of those seaside homes was the ability to go for a swim anytime you wanted to cool off. Water absorbs heat from our bodies faster than air does, especially already hot air. The cool water will cool your body off, and then you can get a bonus from the wind when you climb out of the water all wet.

This is why building a swimming pool behind a home is such a popular addition for those who can afford it. Few of those people have ever used their swimming pools to swim laps; rather, they use them as a quick and easy means of escaping the heat.

4. Have a Cold Drink

This one is so basic that we do it without thinking. Entire industries have been created around the idea of giving people something cool to drink when they are hot. Of course, we don’t just drink when we’re hot, but most of us try to be sure to get our fair share when it’s hot out … and don’t be skimpy about the ice, either.

The Less Usual Means of Cooling

Okay, so those are the obvious means of cooling, but that’s not all they used. While our ancestral architects took advantage of nature as best they could in designing homes to stay cool, there were other methods that people used on a regular basis, which can serve us well.

5. Go Underground

One of the easiest ways of keeping cool in hot weather is to go underground. It doesn’t matter what the above-ground temperature is; it will be cooler beneath the surface. For that matter, it will get cooler and cooler, the farther underground you go.

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People who had natural caves on their property were considered to be fortunate. Not only would they use those caves as a means of escaping the heat themselves, but they would use them as natural root cellars, taking advantage of the natural refrigeration that nature offered. Those who weren’t blessed by a natural cave would often dig one, more for use as a root cellar, but it wasn’t unknown to go underground to cool off on a hot day.

In the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, there are countless underground caves, called “cenotes.” These have hidden lakes in them, so they give an extra measure of cooling, over and above the cooler air. The air temperature itself can be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit on a day where it’s 105 outside, but then the water will be another 10 degrees cooler. Talk about a quick way to cool off.

In much of the Great Plains, settlers built half-underground homes, called “soddies.” They would dig out an existing bank and then face it with blocks of sod, cut when they were breaking up the ground for farming. Being underground, they were cool throughout the summer. At the same time, the earthen construction made for great insulation in the winter, keeping them comfy warm in the coldest of storms.

6. High Ceilings and Second Floors

Basic physics tells us that heat rises, so giving it a place to rise to helps. That’s why the ceilings in antebellum mansions are high. As the heat rose, the space beneath it was kept cooler. Granted, it was only a few degrees cooler, but it stayed that way for many hours, even into the heat of the afternoon.

Cathedral ceilings do the same thing. That’s why those mansions always had a grand entryway with a wide staircase leading upstairs. While it was great for impressing visitors, it also gave the hot air someplace to go, besides bothering people in the living spaces of their homes.

The second floor of these homes worked hand-in-hand with the high ceilings, acting as a buffer between the heat of the sun beating down on them and the people trying to stay cool. Have you ever tried to go up in an attic during the heat of day? It’s stifling. Well, that attic is doing the same thing, separating you from the roof and the heat the sun is creating by beating down on your shingles. Adding another floor in-between helps improve the effect.

Judicious opening and closing of windows is important in this as well. They didn’t want to open the windows until it was warmer inside the home, than it was outside. Then, once it was, they’d open the windows, which would allow the breeze to flow through. At night, they’d leave the windows open until the coolest part of the night, before closing the house back up.

7. Careful Selection of Building Materials

We’ve looked at several ways that the building of homes was planned to take advantage of whatever cool air was available. But what we’ve done here in the United States can’t hold a candle up to the homes of Latin America.

Mexicans and other Latinos learned long ago that a home with thick walls worked extremely well to keep out the heat of day. The walls would also radiate off whatever heat they had, during the nighttime, so that they could absorb heat during the day. Thus, the adobe home was invented.

Adobe is a clay brick, made with poor quality clay (lots of dirt in it) and straw to hold it together. The bricks are baked in the sun, and more of the clay mixture is used as mortar. Building in this manner, homes had walls that were two-feet thick or more. They served as great heat absorbers and radiators, helping to equalize the temperature during the day/night cycle.

The lower overall mass and thickness of modern-day cement blocks doesn’t come close to providing the natural cooling of adobe, although it does last much longer.

8. Learn to Use the “Cool of the Day”

The Bible tells us that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. You don’t really understand this until you have lived in a hot climate. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that this is referring to the evening, when the sun is going down and the day starts to cool off.

But for those of us who chase cool weather, the coolest part of the day is early in the morning, before the sun starts heating things up. If I have to do anything outside in the summertime, I get up early in the morning and do it before the day has a chance to heat up. That way, I can do the work while it’s easier for my body to take it. Then, when it’s hot, I can stay in the cool house, hiding from the heat.

9. Store a Little Bit of Frozen Lake

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Finally, anyone who has little girls is bound to remember the opening scene of the movie, when the ice cutters are on the lake, cutting ice blocks to store in the ice house. Some ice houses were built above ground, but the best were always underground, where it was naturally cooler.

A well-run ice house would gather ice all winter, storing it up and insulating it with straw. Then, in warmer times those ice cutters would load up their closed and insulated wagons and go house to house, selling ice for the people to use in ice boxes.

While that “technology” may seem arcane today, were we to suddenly lose all electric power, that would be the only refrigeration available to us. Those of us in the south would be jealous of our northern cousins, who had refrigeration available to them in the form of ice boxes, when all we had for our ice boxes would be warm milk.

What advice would you add on staying cool during summer? How did your ancestors keep cool? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Gardening Wisdom From The Native Americans

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Gardening Wisdom From The Native Americans

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

When we think of the Native Americans of centuries ago, we tend to think of a nomadic warrior people, living in teepees and following the buffalo herds. This image comes mainly from the Plains Indians, who depended on bison for their survival. But not all tribes were the same. Many were quite stable, living in the same place for years and augmenting the game they hunted with crops that they grew.

We need look no further than American history to confirm this. The Pilgrims, arriving at Plymouth, nearly died of starvation their first winter. But although some did die, many more survived. Their prosperity that next year was largely due to the local Native American tribe, which taught them how to successfully farm.

But the farming techniques of Native Americans were different than that of Europeans. They didn’t use draft animals and they didn’t plow the soil. This has led many to believe that their farms were simple slash-and-burn operations, where they cleared an area in the forest by killing off whatever was there and planted crops until their efforts depleted the soil, at which time they would move on to start a similar operation elsewhere.

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Nothing could be farther from the truth. A slash-and-burn operation would go contrary to the Native American’s way of life, which was much more in harmony with nature than Europeans or Anglo-Americans can imagine. To kill plants, merely to plant others, would be beyond their understanding.

Rather, the Indians farmed in harmony with nature, planting in many small beds. Their farms were sustainable as well, mostly depending on perennials that aren’t cultivated today. But by using perennials, they were able keep their gardens going, with less effort and greater yields. In some places, they cultivated over 250 varieties of plants, using the plants for everything from food, to construction, to building canoes and producing dyes and glues.

native americans -- FerdinandDeppe

Artist: Ferdinand Deppe

In fact, the yields of the Native Americans in the Northeast part of what is now the United States were so great that their corn (or maize) production regularly out-produced that of the wheat farmers of England. Part of this was due to the higher yield that corn produces, but part was due to their superior farming techniques — techniques that did not require plowing or draft animals.

So what can we learn from the farming style of Native Americans who lived nearly 400 years ago? Here’s just a few tips:

Start With the Soil

Any gardener knows that the most important part of any garden is the soil. Without good soil, no garden is going to produce well. In this, Native Americans in the past had an advantage, as the soil was deep and rich. In most parts, the soil had a high biomass content, which is essential to replacing the nutrients.

Native Americans also knew how to care for that soil. They didn’t plow the land like European farmers. Recent experimentation is proving that plowing is not healthy for the soil. More than anything, it brings the subterraneous microorganisms to the surface, where they die. By not plowing, you keep the soil healthier by keeping these microorganisms alive.

One of the most important subterraneous organisms in any garden are mycorrhizal fungi. These attach to the roots of plants, forming a symbiotic relationship with them. While the fungi feed off the plant, they also extend the roots system, drawing in water and nutrients for the plant. A garden with a good network of these fungi will grow faster, produce healthier plants, and bring higher yields of produce.

Fertilization

Any soil is going to need added nutrients to replace those used by the plants growing in the garden. Native Americans understood this and were constantly providing nutrition to the soil of their gardens.

Compost

Composting wasn’t a separate activity for Native Americans who farmed. They didn’t have a compost heap or compost bin. Rather, their gardens were their compost heaps. Leftover plant matter was cut up and placed directly in the garden to break down and provide nutrients.

At the same time, adding plant matter to the soil functioned like mulch, covering the soil and preventing weeds from growing. This basically eliminated the need to weed, preventing one more activity which would disturb the soil.

Potash

Potash is essentially wood ash. But the potash used by Native Americans went a bit farther than that. They would throw the bones from their kills in the fire, as well as the shells from bird eggs. This allowed the bones and shells to burn, breaking them down so that they were ready to add to the soil. Ashes were regularly spread on their vegetable gardens, providing valuable nutrients, especially calcium.

Urine

Urine is an almost perfect fertilizer, containing many of the essential nutrients that plants need for growth. However, in its natural state, it is too acidic. So Native Americans would mix urine with water to dilute it. The acid was still there, but it was not concentrated. Added to the garden, the potash, which was alkaline, would counteract the acid in the urine and bring the pH of the soil back into balance.

Urine also served the purpose of “marking” the garden, helping to keep some pests out. Animals regularly mark their territory, warning other animals. While this doesn’t serve as a warning sign to you and I, it does to raccoons and other animals who would love to feast at our gardens.

Fish

Gardening Wisdom From The Native Americans

Three sisters gardening method. Image source: USDA.gov

Another thing we should all remember from our elementary school lessons about the Pilgrims is the use of fish as a fertilizer. Not all tribes used fish, and those that did usually didn’t use the whole fish. Rather, they used the leftover parts from cleaning and eating the fish. Like urine, fish contains all the necessary nutrients for plant growth, making it one of the best fertilizers around.

No Chemicals

With the use of natural fertilizers, one major source of chemicals was eliminated from the Native American garden. Another way that they avoided chemicals is not using chemical pesticides. Granted, they didn’t have modern pesticides, but the point isn’t whether they had them or not, it’s whether they used them or not.

Not using chemicals in their gardens had another advantage. It made the garden a great habitat for toads, turtles, praying mantises and birds, who ate the insects which would otherwise destroy the plants in the garden.

Planting

Almost everyone who has grown a vegetable garden has heard of the “Three Sisters” – corn, beans and squash. This traditional means of planting was common for Native Americans. Each of these three provide benefits for the others, making them an excellent combination to plant together.

But Native Americans didn’t just plant the sisters together. Their gardens were a mixture of many different things. By mixing plant types, rather than making neat rows, they prevented insects from traveling from plant to plant, destroying them.

I mentioned earlier that Native Americans planted for sustainability, using many perennials. They also harvested in a way to prolong the life of the plants. Rather than dig up a plant and take all its fruit, they’d only remove what they needed at the time. With a potato plant, for example, they’d only take a few potatoes, covering the roots back up so that the plant could replace them.

Aquaculture

Although not as commonly thought of as part of gardening, aquaculture is an important aspect of farming. Some tribes depended greatly on freshwater water life as a part of their diet. The salmon in the Northwest, as well as fresh water shellfish, were consumed by various Native American tribes.

While they left these water creatures to thrive in the wild, they did cultivate them. Mostly, this was by improving their environment so that they could grow well. They moved rocks to create the most productive clam beds and transplanted salmon eggs to new stream beds. In this, they increased their yields of these creatures, helping to ensure an abundance of food.

What would you add? Share your thoughts on how Native Americans gardened in the section below:

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9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails

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9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails

Artist: Jim Carson

 

To read the first story in this series, click here.

The modern homestead is heavily dependent on electricity and gasoline – for everything from lawnmowers to tractors to chainsaws to electric drills.

But during a power outage, particularly a long-term one, we probably won’t have any of those modern conveniences.

Fortunately for us, we have to look no further than our country’s history to find ways of doing things without electricity. While those aren’t going to be as efficient as our modern methods, they will allow us to do many things which we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. From carpentry to food preservation, the methods of our ancestors, including the methods of the pioneers, could end up becoming commonplace once again.

Of course, that means that we need to have the necessary tools and equipment on hand — the same ones those pioneers used so many years ago. In fact, you may find that you’ll want to use some of these unique tools right now, even with all the lights still on.

1. Shoulder yoke

Pioneers had a variety of ways of carrying things. It wasn’t uncommon for a homestead to have more than one cart, a wagon and means for carrying things in hand. Amongst these was the shoulder yoke.

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If you think of a yoke for oxen, you’ll be well on your way to understanding a shoulder yoke. The main difference is that a shoulder yoke is for carrying, not pulling. It’s also designed for human use, not the use of oxen. The yoke sits over the shoulders, with a cutout for the neck. Being wider than a person, buckets can be hung from both ends, allowing the user to carry two buckets and whatever is in them.

2. Hoof trimmers

For centuries, horses were one of the world’s most common means of motive power, second only to the feet.

But if you’re going to ride a horse, you’re going to have to take care of it. More than anything, that means shoeing the horse every four to six weeks. Even if you can’t shoe the horse (for lack of horseshoes), you’ll need to trim its hooves. That requires a trimmer. You should also have a horseshoeing rasp for trimming the hooves and a hoof pick for cleaning rocks, mud and anything else out of the horse’s hooves.

3. Sickle

9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails Horses tend to eat a lot. Of course, if your body was that big, you’d eat a lot, too. So if you’re going to have a horse, you’d better be ready to start cutting hay for it. For that matter, if you manage to get your hands on any livestock, from goats to elephants, you’d better have a way of cutting hay.

There have been a wide variety of sickle designs through the years, some smaller and some larger — each designed for its own particular use. At a minimum, you’ll need something that you can use to keep the grass under control, even if you aren’t feeding a milk cow in your backyard.

4. Bucksaw

You might be able to fell a tree with an axe, but once it’s on the ground, you’ll need to cut it into manageable sections, regardless of whether you’re using it for building or for firewood. That means having some sort of saw to use. While there are many styles to pick from, the bucksaw was one of the best. The bow kept the blade under tension, allowing it to cut in both directions. About the only thing you can’t do with a bucksaw is to cut logs into boards.

5. Wood-splitting wedges

Cutting logs into boards is fine — if you’ve got a sawmill to cut them with. But most people didn’t own their own sawmill. For them, there were two options: use a two-man saw, with one man in a pit to cut the logs into boards, or use wedges to split the log into boards.

Wedges were actually much more efficient for this, although the boards wouldn’t be all that smooth. But to make a split-log floor or to create a half log for use as a bench, splitting was the preferred way for most. Wedges could also be used to split wood for the fire, especially in cases where the chunk of log was too big in diameter to split with a maul.

6. Log jack

The log jack was the lumberjack’s way of getting a handle on a log and move it around. It didn’t matter if they were moving it in the river or just trying to roll it, a log jack made the job a whole lot easier. While not in such common use today, if you’re planning on harvesting your own wood, especially for building, this is a very useful tool to have around.

7. Gimlets

9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails When most people think of drilling holes into wood by hand, the first thing they think of is a brace and bit. That was a great system, and you would never find a carpenter without one in their kit. But the average person couldn’t afford to have a brace and bit around the homestead. Instead, they used gimlets (and no, I’m not talking about giblets in gravy).

A gimlet is a small hand-held and hand-powered drill. It has an oblong loop handle, with a drill bit sticking down from it, making a T with a fat-top beam. Only created in small sizes, these tools made putting holes in boards easy. While they were limited, they weren’t as limited as trying to burn a hole through a board with a hot ware (another method they used).

8. Adze

The adze is probably the first tool to grab when trying to move from the realm of logs to the realm of wood beams and boards. This is a cutting tool, used to square logs for homes, as well as making the beams used in building sailing ships. While the average person didn’t have one in their tool kit, you can be sure that any carpenter or boat builder worth their salt had one.

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The adze consists of a slightly scooped blade, mounted at a right angle to the handle. It was swung in a down and back motion, chipping off wood to square logs. An experienced carpenter or boat builder could square and fit a dozen such logs in a day’s work.

While this may not be the first tool you add to your kit, having one allows you to make a squared log home, rather than a log cabin. The difference is impressive, as properly squared logs will make a much warmer home, need less chinking and last much longer.

9. Spokeshaves and draw knives

Speaking of shaping wood, there are times when it is necessary to shape wood much smaller than what you can do with an adze. Simple chair spindles, wheel axles and even a handle for an axe need to be shaped by something. In those cases, draw knives and spokeshaves were the tools of choice.

The two are often thought to be much alike, but in fact they are quite different. A draw knife is an open blade, with handles at 90 degrees to the blade. That allows the user to pull the knife toward them, shaving off layers of wood. How much is shaved off is controlled by the angle of the blade. It actually takes a bit of practice to gain the finesse necessary to work a draw knife well.

The difference between a draw knife and a spokeshave is the same difference between a chisel and a plane. The plane’s body controls the depth of the cut, while the carpenter has to control the depth of the chisel’s cut. Likewise, the spokeshave’s body allows for a controlled depth of cut. That makes it a much better tool for fine work, such as making wheel spokes that are round.

What pioneer tools would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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7 Survival Foods The Pioneers Ate That You Wouldn’t Recognize

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7 Things The Pioneers Ate That You Wouldn't Recognize

Food has long been a focus of society. While our modern way of life includes regular trips to the grocery store, where there is more variety than we know what to do with, our ancestors didn’t have it quite that easy. We are literally only a few generations away from a time in which people hoarded their food, both on the westward trail and in their root cellars, just to make sure they would make it through winter.

Other than the last century or so, the need to stockpile food has been the main effort of people the world over. With harvest times coming only once a year, the size of the harvest and how well it was preserved determined whether the next year would be one of lack or plenty. When drought occurred, it would be a serious enough event to destroy villages, major cities and even entire cultures.

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Going west, a Conestoga wagon or a converted farm wagon made into a prairie schooner was mostly filled with food, as well as other necessities. While some families started out with expensive furniture in their wagons, that was soon left by the wayside, lightening the load, so they could keep their all-important food. A typical load of food would consist of the following for each adult in the family. Similar provisions for children would be brought along, with the quantities adjusted for their size.

  • 200 pounds of flour (could be any type of flour, not just wheat flour)
  • 30 pounds of pilot bread (otherwise known as hardtack)
  • 2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
  • 10 pounds of salt
  • Half a bushel of corn meal
  • Half a bushel of parched and ground corn
  • 25 pounds of sugar
  • 10 pounds of rice
  • 75 pounds of bacon
  • 5 pounds of coffee
  • 2 pounds of tea
  • Half a bushel of dried beans
  • 1 bushel of dried fruit
  • A small keg of vinegar

Once leaving Independence, Missouri, there would be little chance of resupply. That food would have to last them, augmented by whatever they could hunt and any berries they could find. While there were a few military posts with Sutler’s stores (general stores that provided the military), they were few and far between.

So, what did our ancestors do with this and what did they really eat? Well, a lot of it would seem rather normal to us, but there was also a lot that was not normal. Some things that we wouldn’t even recognize. However, it all had one thing in common: Food that the pioneers ate had to be non-perishable, as they had no way of refrigerating it.

1. Buffalo, bear, cougar and squirrel

7 Things The Pioneers Ate That You Wouldn't RecognizeOne of the easiest ways for pioneers to restock or stretch their food supplies was to hunt. Hunting provided them with fresh meat, something they had no chance of bringing with them. But that meant they ate whatever they could find. Crossing the Great Plains, buffalo were common, so they were eaten. When they got into the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming and points west, the buffalo were replaced by bear, cougar and deer. They would even eat squirrels, if they couldn’t find anything else.

Jim Bridger, the mountain man, claimed that cougar meat was the best there was. While cougars weren’t anywhere near as common as deer, when one came along, it was often eat or be eaten. You’d better be quick with your rifle, or you just might end up as dinner.

Shooting a squirrel was difficult, as the size of the bullet would destroy much of the usable meat. They didn’t have .22 caliber rifles back then. So instead of shooting the squirrel, they’d “bark it” by shooting the bark of the tree, just beneath it. This would knock the squirrel off the tree, unconscious, saving the meat.

2. The insides of the animals, too

They couldn’t afford to let anything go to waste. So, it wasn’t unusual for pioneers to eat parts of the animal which we would turn our noses up at. Brain, heart, tongue, liver and even intestines were eaten, often cut up and put in something.

This practice is still common in much of the world today. While we don’t eat much other than the muscles of the animals, in Mexico they eat the tongue, cheek meat, heart, liver, intestines and stomach. Some of these are used for special recipes, which are considered near delicacies by the Mexicans.

3. Frying pan bread

Baking bread on the trail was nearly impossible, so instead, they made frying pan bread. This was basically biscuits, cooked in a frying pan, rather than in an oven. Biscuits and bacon were one of the staples of the trail.

While you might think that breads are breads, breads were much different back then. You might not recognize them for what they were. First of all, most flour was whole grain, not our white pastry flour. While white flour did exist, it wasn’t common, except in the larger cities.

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They also didn’t have the same types of leaven that we have today. Most women “made” their own yeast, by leaving a container of “sourdough starter” open for bacteria to invade it. This would then be saved, allowing them to make bread every day.

But these breads were much heavier and heartier than the breads we know today. A loaf of bread on the frontier probably weighed two to three pounds, even though it was smaller than our common one pound loaf. But that bread stuck with you longer, providing more nutrition and calories than our modern breads do.

4. Salt pork

7 Things The Pioneers Ate That You Wouldn't RecognizeWhile bacon was the most common preserved meat they’d eat, those in the military usually had to make do with salt pork. This is much like bacon, but without as much meat. Essentially, a piece of salt pork is a chunk of fat, with a little pork meat running through it. Soldiers would be issued salt pork as their version of combat rations, whenever they were on the move. They’d slice it and fry it, eating it with pan bread.

5. Yucca root

The root of the yucca plant is something like a potato. As the southwest was settled, this became a staple for many of the people, as the land was already littered with yucca plants. Tougher than our potato, and more fibrous, it was nevertheless a good source of carbohydrates. Cut up and boiled in water, it would soften up and make a great filler for soups and stews.

6. Pine nuts

The pine cone we know so well really isn’t the seed of the pine tree, but rather the husk for that seed. Hidden deep within its many scales are pine nuts, which are the seeds. These can be removed by simply banging the pine cone upside-down on a hard surface.

Pine nuts can be eaten raw, or toasted, much like many other nuts. They have a distinct, but pleasant flavor. Like many nuts, they are an excellent source of fats, which they needed. Little of what they ate had much in the way of fats in it. Wild animals don’t grow anywhere near the amount of fat that our domesticated animals do, and they couldn’t go to the store for a bottle of cooking oil.

7. Acorn bread

Acorns, the seeds of the oak tree, are plentiful in some parts of the country. A seed, they are much like many other nuts. Gathered, they can be roasted to dry them and then ground, making flour out of it. Like the flour of any other grain, this can then be turned into bread. For some pioneers who didn’t have access to resupplies of wheat flour, acorn bread and cornbread were the only breads they had available.

What would you add to our list? Share your knowledge in the section below:

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4 Ways The Pioneers Stayed Healthy Without Modern Medicine

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4 Ways The Pioneers Stayed Healthy Without Modern Medicine

History is amazing — not the dull, dry history you may have experienced in school, but the history of how people lived their day-to-day lives. We are so accustomed to our modern conveniences that we often have no idea how our ancestors did things. We look back through the years, and are often mystified about how they even survived.

Some of the things that medical science proposed in the past are laughable today. Take head bumps, for example. There was actually a time when the cutting edge of medical diagnosis, in some quarters, was reading the bumps on a person’s head. This was supposed to tell about chronic health problems that the person suffered. We can place that alongside “bleeding” a patient to release the evil spirits from their body, and bury the two of them in medical history.

Modern medicine has years of medical research behind it. While it is not yet perfect, the ability of our medical community to deal with trauma, sickness and chronic health issues is much greater than that of a few short generations ago. Treatments for diseases that were previously known as killers are available now, and emergency room techniques to save lives have progressed exponentially.

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All of that is enough to make us wonder how our ancestors even survived. Looking back in history — say to the pioneering days — one has to wonder how the people dealt with sickness, disease and injury, especially when you consider that most towns didn’t have a doctor. Yes, many died, but many more lived, and lived through things that we wouldn’t think they could have survived.

The conventional wisdom today is that people in the 1800s lived far shorter lives, but that is mostly not true. The average life expectancy has grown because of lowering infant mortality rates. In other words, for people who did survive childbirth, many lived to old age – 70s, 80s and even 90s.

The very fact that they survived tells us that we study what they did. We may yet see a day when all the fancy pharmaceuticals and medical laboratories are gone. Should that happen, the health techniques that our ancestors used may very well be the only thing left to us.

So, what did they do? Let’s take a look.

1. They ate healthier

When you talk about “American food” in other countries, the first thing any of them think of is McDonalds, Burger King and Coca-Cola, perhaps adding Starbucks to that list. This is the food that we are known for. Most of what we consume is either fast food, junk food or otherwise unhealthy food.

Our bodies need an incredible number of different nutrients to maintain health. Theoretically, we are supposed to receive those nutrients from what we eat. But donuts, greasy burgers and a side order of fries don’t supply those nutrients. Some people try to make up for this by taking vitamin supplements, but there’s a real question about how well those supplements absorb into the body. Some brands don’t dissolve properly and merely add to the waste our bodies process.

4 Ways The Pioneers Stayed Healthy Without Modern MedicineWhile the diet our pioneering ancestors enjoyed wasn’t as varied as our own, it was a whole lot healthier. Essentially, they ate meat, beans, vegetables and bread. Fruit was considered a delicacy, and things like sweets were extremely rare. Their favorite drink was fresh spring water — not sugar dissolved in carbonated water.

Not only did they eat a healthier diet, but the foods they ate were healthier than today’s equivalent. Cattle and hogs weren’t fattened up to the extent they are today, before slaughtering. Often they were grass-fed. But many pioneers ate game meat, which has always been leaner and lower in cholesterol. Even chickens were healthier, as they free ranged and fed off a more varied diet. The ground hadn’t been overworked, and so the vegetables that they ate had a higher mineral content, improving their nutritional value.

Nobody overate in the Old West. There just wasn’t enough extra food to even think of overeating. Besides, they burned a whole lot more calories wrestling steers or plowing with a horse-drawn plow, than we do punching keys on a computer.

2. They performed physical work

Our bodies need a certain amount of physical work to maintain health. Yet, except for those who go to the gym regularly to work out – or do hard labor on the job — few of us get that physical work.

Many of our chronic diseases were all but unknown in pioneering days. The physical work that people performed on a daily basis was enough to help their bodies regulate the critical balance of these key health indicators.

Even today, the best advice for a diabetic, whose blood sugar is high, is to take a walk. That allows their body to burn off some of that excess sugar, reducing their sugar level to normal. Yet most of us expect the doctor to fix our problems with medicine, rather than having to do anything to takes us out of our comfortable chairs.

3. They were leaner and more muscular

The combination of diet and exercise affected their bodies greatly. More than anything, if we were to look back in history, we would see a people who were leaner and more muscular than we are today. This came from a combination of hard physical work and diet.

4 Ways The Pioneers Stayed Healthy Without Modern MedicineEven housework was harder back then. Women had to have the physical strength to wring out clothes by hand, carry a dead animal to the kitchen to slaughter it, and draw their own water from the well. Most jobs that men performed required much more strength than what we have today. In fact, the average worker today probably couldn’t make it through a day of work back in pioneering days.

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We face a chronic nationwide obesity crisis, something that could not have existed back then. Oh, there were very fat people, but they were rare. Their lifestyle just didn’t offer much opportunity to store energy as fat. You were much more likely to find fat people in the settled areas of the east and west coasts, where there were more people who worked in sedate offices and stores.

4. They had more knowledge of natural medicine

Humans are very adaptable creatures. When we don’t have one thing we need, we tend to try and find something to use as a substitute. Our ancestors did this with medicine. Since they didn’t have all our modern medicines, they used what they had … what nature gave them.

Actually, many of our modern medicines are substitutes for what nature supplies. All medicines start in nature. Pharmacies, though, didn’t exist in the Old West. The only medicines around were in the doctor’s office (if there was a doctor) or the general store. So, people did what their ancestors had done and used what nature provided. In many cases, those medicines were just as good or even better than the ones we have today.

It wasn’t just doctors who had knowledge of herbal medicine; most people had at least some. It was not uncommon for a woman to grow medicinal herbs in her garden or for a cowboy to pick up plants along the way, when they had a toothache or upset stomach. Herbal medicine was as much a part of life as anything else.

What would you add to this list? Share your insights in the section below:

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Imagine, A World Without Taxes (Here’s What It Would Look Like)

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Imagine, A World Without Taxes (Here’s What It Would Look Like)

Imagine living in a world without taxes. Granted, that’s a bit unlikely to happen, considering mankind’s long history with taxes. It seems that taxes and government go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the old European feudal system — where Barons and Earls taxed the serfs and merchant caravans crossing their lands — or you’re talking about modern socialistic and democratic governments. All governments tax. Not only does it give them a source of revenue, but it gives them a way of controlling the people.

Nevertheless, let’s indulge our imaginations for a moment and think about the difference that would make to live in a tax-free society. While I don’t expect ever to find such a utopia, seeing what it would be like will show us what taxes are doing to our society.

The first thing we’d all see is more money in our pockets. While the figures from various government watch agencies vary, right now, the average American family pays about 43 percent of their income out in taxes of one sort or another. That’s a lot higher than we expect, mostly because our tax bill is broken into many different pieces. We see the obvious ones like income tax, property tax and sales tax, but there are many, many more.

With an average family income of about $53,657 in 2015 (according to census bureau data), that works out to the average American family paying $23,073 per year in taxes. While this number rises and falls with the political winds and the unstable economy, just knowing that some of us pay out more than $23,000 per year in taxes is shocking enough.

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So, if we were to eliminate all of those taxes, you would suddenly have an extra $23,000 that you could use, assuming that you are the theoretical average family. So, what would you do with it?

I’m sure if we polled ourselves, we’d find all sorts of noble sentiments about how we would use that extra money. Some would talk about saving for retirement, putting their kids through college, giving to non-profit organizations and otherwise making the world a better place to live. But let’s be honest, while all those things are great ideas, the reality is that if we had an extra $23,000, we’d probably spend it.

Imagine, A World Without Taxes (Here’s What It Would Look Like)We’re all much better at spending than we are at saving, and we can always find something that we need to spend extra money on. No matter how many noble intentions we have, a raise in income generally means a raise in our standard of living, not in our standard of saving.

Now, that’s not all bad. Spending money is actually good — good for the economy, that is. One of the major reasons that our economy has been stagnant since the 2008/2009 housing bubble crash is that people and businesses have been afraid to spend money. If there’s one thing that Obama has been good at, it’s getting people to stop spending.

That lack of spending is costing people jobs. If it continues, it could lead to an even worse economy. You see, it’s not the amount of money that exists which make the economy work, but how much of it is moving around. We need that money moving around, creating millions of transactions per day where people buy and sell products and services, so that the money gets into other people’s hands and they can spend it, too.

Let me put it this way. Let’s say that someone has $1 billion dollars and they use it to stuff their mattress, instead of spending it, investing it or even putting it in the bank, so that the bank can invest it. That money does nobody any good. With no goods and services being purchased, that money doesn’t do a thing to help the economy … worse, it doesn’t do a thing to give people jobs.

Okay, so there are somewhere around 116 million families in the United States (2007 figures). If each of those families had an extra $23,000 to spend in a year, it would work out to $2,668,000,000,000. That’s $2.68 trillion dollars; enough to buy more 85 million cars, 7,473 brand new 747 jumbo jets, 2,151 new cruise ships, or to build the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa 1,778 times. We could even pay off the national debt in a little over seven years or pay off the combined student debt in less than six months if we so chose.

How many jobs would be created by all of those purchases? There’s no real way of telling. But it’s clear that the number of new jobs created by that much additional cash flowing through the economy would be significant. Granted, the government is putting that money through the economy right now, paying for a myriad of different products, services and entitlements. But no government spends money efficiently. They don’t have to; after all, it’s taxpayer money, not real money.

The point is, every dollar the government takes out of our pockets in increased taxes has to come out of something else. It doesn’t come out of some untapped pool of money that people are sitting on. That doesn’t even happen with the wealthy. Taxing them more, a favorite Democrat tactic, just means that they don’t invest that money in other money-making ventures. In other words, they don’t give people jobs.

Imagine, A World Without Taxes (Here’s What It Would Look Like)Ultimately, it is the government that controls the economy and thereby controls jobs. Not by the Fed’s discount rate, as everyone assumes, but by the policies that they make, taking money out of our pockets in the form of taxes. They also control inflation, taking more money out of our pockets by creating money out of thin air in schemes like quantitative easing. So, when people complain about the lack of jobs; what they’re really saying is that the government is hurting the economy too much.

Taxes — all taxes — have a negative influence on the economy. But we really can’t get rid of them. We need the government, although we probably don’t need as much government as we have. Yet governments don’t shrink on their own; they only grow. New departments are created, requiring funding and causing more tax increases. Eventually, the people revolt or the economy reaches a point where it can’t support the government — and it collapses.

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Since we need our government, that means we need taxes, too. In fact, the Constitution gives the federal government the right to collect taxes. It says, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

So fine, let them collect their taxes and let them use them for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States. But that’s it. Let’s put an end to pork barrel spending, research grants for useless things and other wasteful government spending. Let’s stop giving millions away to our enemies, so that they can chant “Death to America.” Let’s stop with all the departments of the government that only exist to take away our freedoms and so that the bureaucrats can tell each other how important they are. Let’s have a reasonable government and reasonable taxes.

Maybe then, our economy could return to the robust, growing economy of our parents’ generation. We would see our children have a better life than we have and we could expect their children to have an even better life than that. Maybe then, the people of the United States of America would become prosperous once again.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts on taxes in the section below:

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‘Bullet-Proof’ Rural Home Security When You’re Miles (And Miles) From Police

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'Bullet-Proof' Home Security When You're Miles (And Miles) From Police

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Keeping your home safe in normal times really isn’t all that hard. Install a deadbolt or two, call your local alarm company and make sure your windows are all locked. That will take care of you for most situations. Of course, that’s in the city, where police can get to you rapidly, and it’s working under the assumption that the criminals you want protection from don’t want to attract attention.

But move out into the country and go off-grid, and the equation changes drastically. An alarm system isn’t going to bring police running, and neighbors probably won’t see what’s going on. Criminals won’t be worried about being caught, because they know that there’s no way the police can get there in time. Add in a disaster situation and you can forget about the police altogether.

People in these situations need to take care of their own home security. Actually, I have to say that we all do, considering that it takes an average of 11 minutes for police to respond to a 911 call, and the average home break-in is over in about 90 seconds. So, in a sense, we’re all off-grid when it comes to security.Start with the Right Alarm

Start with the Right Alarm

The typical alarm company will install a silent alarm, which will call the police if your perimeter is breached. Sensors on doors and windows activate if they are opened (and the alarm is not turned off). Some systems have motion detectors for the interior, as well, in case an intruder manages to bypass the perimeter sensors.

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'Bullet-Proof' Home Security When You're Miles (And Miles) From PoliceThe big fallacy with this sort of system is that it doesn’t activate until the intruder is already entering the home. You don’t want to wait that long. That’s why natural alarms are much better. Dogs, donkeys and guinea hens will all start making a racket the moment that an intruder steps foot on your property.

These aren’t silent alarms that call the police; they are noisy alarms to let you know what is going on. Hearing your natural alarm go off gives you an opportunity to take action, before the intruder enters your home.

You might also want to consider some sort of perimeter alarm, such as trip wires. The problem is that you need to build the trip wire in such a way that you’ll be able to hear it from within the house or anywhere on your property; otherwise, the trip wire doesn’t accomplish a thing.

Harden Your Home

The second step in this process is making it hard for any intruder to get into your home. There’s an old saying that “locks keep honest people honest.” The way that works is that if it is hard enough to break into your home, most people will give up. So, don’t just depend on a deadbolt to keep your home safe; make your doors and windows harder to break through.

The weakness for most entry doors is that the deadbolt goes into the door frame, with the striker plate held in place by ¾-inch screws. The average man can kick through that door, breaking the deadbolt out through the door frame, without much effort. But by changing out the normal striker plate out for a security striker plate, installed with 3 ½-inch long screws, you make it much stronger. Use the same screws for the hinges, and the door becomes very hard to kick open.

Of course, there are other things you can do to strengthen your door, like using a prop against the door. This old-fashioned method of securing a door is as effective today as it ever was. Simply cut a 2×4 or 2×6 to the correct length, to go from below the door knob to the base of the opposite wall. I don’t care how strong someone is — they aren’t going to get that to move.

'Bullet-Proof' Home Security When You're Miles (And Miles) From PoliceWindows are usually the weakest access point on any home, simply because they are made of glass. It doesn’t take much to break through a piece of glass, and any rock sitting around will do. But you can make windows much stronger by adding burglar bars or by installing security window film on the inside of the windows. While the film can’t totally stop them from breaking out the window, it will take them long enough that you’ll have time to stick a gun up their nose.

Finally, Be Ready to Repel Boarders

Ultimately, you yourself are the best security for your home. Unless you spend the money to build an indestructible bank vault for a home, there’s always a way to get in for someone who really wants to. Alarms and hardening your home are merely means of giving you time to react. Yes, those things might scare off some intruders, but the really serious ones will come on anyway. That’s when you need to be ready.

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Firearms have been called the great equalizer. With them, a small woman becomes able to defeat a large man. When you have firearms and are trained in their use, you become the best security system around. Even if they do manage to get through your hardened door or window, if you meet them with a gun in your hand, you’ve probably already won.

Most criminals aren’t proficient in the use of firearms, but you can’t count on that. Even though they mostly use firearms to intimidate, there are a few that enjoy target shooting, just for the fun of it. So, you can’t count on them being poor shots. What you can count on is your own training. Take the time to learn how to shoot well so that you can beat any criminal at their own game.

Keep in mind that a criminal isn’t going to stand there; they’re going to move and there’s a chance they’re going to shoot back. So, your training must include shooting at moving targets, shooting quickly, shooting while moving, shooting in low light and shooting from cover. Then, and only then, are you truly ready to defend your home from an intruder.

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What advice would you add to this story? How would you protect a rural home? Share your home-defense tips in the section below:

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without Refrigerators

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A Refrigerator

Stockpiling food and other supplies is central to being prepared for an emergency, but there are some foods – such as meat — that are harder to pack for long-term storage than others.

I’m sure there are some people out there who think that they can live off of rice and beans, getting all the protein they need from the beans. While that may be technically true, I, for one, don’t want to try it. Not only am I not a huge fan of beans, but I also am a huge fan of meat. So, I need to have ways of preserving that meat and ensuring that I’ll have it available when a disaster strikes. Fortunately, there are actually a number of ways of preserving meat which work quite well — ways our ancestors used.

The Key to Preserving Meat – Salt

If there’s any one key ingredient for preserving meat, it’s salt. Salt is one of the few natural preservatives, and it works ideally with meat. Salt draws the moisture out of the cells in the meat in a process known as osmosis. Essentially, osmosis is trying to equalize the salinity on both sides of the cell wall (which is a membrane). So, water leaves the cell and salt enters it. When enough water leaves the cell, the cell dies.

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This happens with bacteria, as well. Any bacteria that are on the surface of the meat go through the same osmosis process that the cells of the meat do. This dehydrates the bacteria to the point of death. Unfortunately, the salt won’t travel all the way through the meat quickly, killing off the bacteria, so salt is usually used in conjunction with other means of preserving.

1. Canning

Probably the least complex form of preserving meat is canning it. Canning preserves any wet food well through a combination of killing off existing bacteria in the food and container, while providing a container that prevents any further bacteria from entering.

Canning uses heat to kill off bacteria. All you have to do is raise the temperature of the bacteria to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and it dies. This is called “pasteurizing,” so named for Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist who discovered the process in the mid-1800s. To kill viruses, you raise the temperature a bit more, to 174 degrees Fahrenheit.

The only problem with canning meat is that it has to be canned at a higher temperature than fruits and vegetables. This is accomplished by canning it in a pressure canner, essentially a large pressure cooker. The higher atmospheric pressure inside the pressure canner causes the water to boil at a higher temperature, thus cooking the meat.

Meats that are canned tend to be very well-cooked. You have to at least partially cook them before canning, and then the 90 minutes they spend in the canner cooks them further. That makes for very soft meats, but they do lose some of their texture.

2. Dehydrating

Dehydrating takes over where salt leaves off, removing much more moisture from the meat than just salting it will. However, dehydrating of meats is usually combined with salting the meat with a rub or marinating it with a salty marinade. The salt on the outside of the meat attacks any bacteria that approach the meat once it is dehydrated. Meat that is dehydrated without salt won’t last, as the bacteria can attack it.

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A RefrigeratorThe American Indians used dehydrating as a means of preserving meat, making jerky. While a very popular snack food today, jerky is excellent survival food. Not only will it keep without refrigeration, but it can be rehydrated for use in soups and stews. That takes it beyond being a snack and makes it possible to use jerky for part of your meals.

Dehydrating can either be done in the sun, in an electric dehydrator or in a solar dehydrator. The American Indians used the sun, hanging strips of meat on poles. However, there is a risk in dehydrating meat as they did, in that the meat may start to spoil before it dries. All fat should be removed from the meat, as the fat can turn rancid.

3. Salt fish

Salt fish is another means of dehydrating meat, something like making fish jerky. It has been done for centuries and is still a popular dish in some countries. Salt fish uses the concept that the salt draws the water out of the fish, starting the drying process. This is accomplished by packing the fish fillets in alternating layers of salt and fish. Then, the fish is sun dried to complete the process.

4. Smoking

Smoking is another method that combines salt with a secondary method of preservation. For preserving, one must use hot smoking, which cooks the meat, and not just cold smoking, which is used to flavor the meat. Typically, the process consists of three major steps: soaking the meat in brine (salt water), cold smoking and then hot smoking.

When meat is smoked, the proteins on the outer layer of the meat form a skin, called a pellicle. This is basically impervious to any bacteria, protecting the meat. However, if the meat is cut, such as to cut off a steak from a chunk of smoked meat, the open surface can be attacked by bacteria.

In olden times, this problem was solved by hanging the meat in the smokehouse once again. In some homes, the kitchen chimney was large enough to be used as a smokehouse, and meat was hung in it, where the constant smoke helped to protect it. Most of the fat was usually trimmed off the meat, so that it would not turn rancid.

5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A RefrigeratorOne nice thing about smoking meats, besides that it adds that lovely smoke flavor, is that the smoking process is a slow-cooking process, much like cooking meat in a crockpot. This helps to break down the fiber in the meat, turning otherwise tough cuts of meat tender.

5. Curing

The deli meats we pay top dollar for today are actually cured meats. Curing is a process that combines smoking, with salt, sugar and nitrites. Together, these act as an almost perfect preservative, protecting the meat from decay-causing bacteria. Technically, smoking is a type of curing, but normally when we talk about curing, we’re referring to what is known as “sausage curing,” which is the method used for making most sausage and lunch meat.

The curing process is all about killing the bacteria and is done mostly by the addition of salt to the meat. For sausage curing, the meat is ground and then mixed with fat, spices salt and whatever else is going to be used (some sausage includes cheese). It is then allowed to sit, in order for the salt to permeate all the meat and kill the bacteria. Cooking or smoking is accomplished once the curing is done.

Curing meats, like smoking, tenderizes it. So, traditionally, the tougher, lower grade cuts of meat were usually used for the making of most of what we know today as lunch meats. One nice thing about properly cured meats is that they can be left out, with no risk of decay, even when they have been cut. That is, if it is properly cured. I wouldn’t try that with commercially prepared lunchmeats, as they are not cured with the idea of leaving them out.

What meat-preserving methods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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Little-Noticed Survival Lessons From History’s Hobos And Vagabonds

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Little-Noticed Survival Lessons From History’s Hobos And Vagabonds

As long as man has organized into society, there have been those on the fringe. These were people who, for one reason or another, just didn’t fit into polite society.

Such were the hobos of our nation’s past. We tend to think of hobos as bums who stole rides on trains and lived in shanty towns. But in some cases, they were traveling workers who would go where there was work and move on when the job was done.

Building this country required a huge amount of manpower, especially when you consider that much was built by human hands rather than power equipment. Projects like the Transcontinental Railroad and the Hoover Dam required workforces numbering in the thousands, and hard-working men who came and went with the job. They lived in shanty towns, because that’s all there was at the end of the tracks and they carried little with them, because they knew they’d be moving on.

These were tough men, accustomed to backbreaking work and long hours. They survived and endured, becoming a forgotten part of our country’s history. Yet the work that they did has often survived and become part of making our country what it is today.

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Looking back at the lives of these men we can see that their lifestyle was built around the need to survive. Basically, everything they did was based on that one need.

There are quite a few lessons we can learn from them:

1. Be tough

Physical toughness is essential for surviving in adverse circumstances. A lot of us in the survival  movement aren’t as physically fit as we need to be (me included). But toughness goes beyond just being physically fit. A boxer learns to take blows, just as he learns how to give them. Strength and agility allow him to give them, but toughness allows him to take them. If you’re not tough, you’re not going to be able to take the blows that life gives you; you’ll fold and just wait to die.

There are two types of toughness: physical and mental. Of the two, mental toughness can be harder to develop than physical. If your mind can’t take the blows and bounce back, you are at a disadvantage. Your mind has to be able to accept the changing reality of a crisis situation or a disaster, quickly overcome the grief, and move into survival mode.

This is all about training. The better trained you are, the better you can adapt. Training also gives you confidence, so that you know you’re able to survive.

2. Learn a variety of useful kills

Little-Noticed Survival Lessons From History’s Hobos And VagabondsHobos did whatever the job called for. While they may not have been experts in any one trade, they were capable of working in a number of them. One month they might be busting broncos and the next swinging a double jack in a mine.

Today’s society has become so specialized that in some cases one engineer can only work on one part of a project. He’s lost when he looks at the rest. But in Henry Ford’s day, the guy who designed the engine could also design the body.

In a survival situation, you need to have a wide variety of skills. If your home is damaged by a hurricane and you need to make it safe to sleep in, you don’t have to be a master carpenter. But you will probably need to be able to cut boards and nail them together. You’re probably also going to need to know a little plumbing and electrical work.

3. Develop a minimalist lifestyle

When you’re on the go, you can’t take a lot of extra baggage with you. You’ve got to cut things down to what you really need. Our modern lifestyle is so cluttered with stuff that we’d need a backpack the size of a semi-trailer to bug out.

Learn what you need and then cut down to that point. If you’ve got stuff in your house that you never use, then why do you have it? Really, if you haven’t used it in a year or two, you probably won’t. So, pass it on to someone who can use it and make room in your life for what you need.

I remember the nine years my wife and I lived in our motorhome, with our three kids. We couldn’t accumulate a lot of stuff, because there really wasn’t anywhere to keep it. We had to limit ourselves to what was important, and if something wasn’t important, we had to let it go.

4. Community is important for survival

Hobos typically gathered together in communities, wherever they were working. That way they could help each other out. Cooking for 10 people is easier than cooking for one, and by doing so, everyone doesn’t have to carry a pot around with them. One would bring the pot and the others would bring the ingredients.

When you’re part of a community you also tend to watch out for each other. If you’re by yourself, you might not see what’s happening to you. For example, hypothermia can set in in such a subtle way that you freeze to death, without even realizing what’s happening to you. But if other people are around, they’ll likely notice you’re not well and help.

5. Learn to live off the land

Little-Noticed Survival Lessons From History’s Hobos And VagabondsMost hobos could recognize edible plants and those which could serve as medicines. While they bought food, they augmented what they bought with what they found. Knowing what you can eat can mean the difference between a full belly and starving to death. Knowing what you can use for medicine can also save your life.

God has provided a wide range of foods and medicines in nature around us. But you’ve got to know what to use and how to use it. When you’re living that minimalist lifestyle, you really need that knowledge.

6. Nothing is beneath you

Throughout history, there have been people out of jobs because they wouldn’t take one that’s beneath them. While I can understand that to some extent, that pride can be deadly. When things go bad, such as in a financial collapse, we’re all going to have to do whatever we can, no matter how much education we have or what we did before.

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There’s no room for pride when it comes to surviving a crisis.7. Quit Worrying and Do What You Can

7. Quit worrying and do what you can

Part of the reason that hobos are seen as lazy and shiftless is that they weren’t worriers. They did what they could and left the rest up to divine providence. We could all learn from that. Yes, there is always a part that we are to do. If we don’t work, we’re not going to eat. But on the other hand, worrying never added a day to anyone’s life. When you’ve done what you can, just hope and pray it’s enough. The rest is beyond your capability.

Worry causes incredible health problems. High blood pressure is caused more by worry, than by any other reason. Why do you think they call it “hypertension?” That literally means, “too much tension” or “too much stress.” Quit stressing out and get to work. Do your part and then follow the example of the hobos, putting the rest in God’s hands.

What survival lessons would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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How To Build A Long-Lasting Bargain-Priced Stockpile At The Dollar Store

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How To Build A Long-Lasting Bargain-Priced Stockpile At The Dollar Store

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With many Americans and homesteaders living from paycheck to paycheck, it’s often hard to find the extra money necessary for stockpiling.

One great help is the local dollar store. While not everything in the dollar store is actually cheaper than it is in big box stores, there are some things that are significantly less expensive. The trick is to do your research and know how much the same or comparable item costs elsewhere.

I recently took a run through a couple of my local dollar stores just to see what I could find. Here’s the smart buys I spotted:

1. Cardboard boxes for the fire

I’ve found the local dollar stores to be the best source of cardboard boxes. Many of their products come in low-quality cartons, which are actually better for my purposes than the rugged ones. Shredded and soaked in water, they can be compressed into bricks in a homemade mold, just like newspapers. This is a cheap way of coming up with fire-starter or fuel for your fireplace or wood-burning stove. The store may even thank you for hauling them off.

2. Anti-bacterial hand cleaner

I’m a big believer in anti-bacterial hand cleaner as a survival supply. In a situation where water may be at a premium, washing your hands before eating may seem like a luxury. But it’s much more than that; it’s a means of helping to halt the spread of disease.

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If there’s not enough water around, then anti-bacterial hand cleaner may just be the way to go.Personal hygiene supplies

3. Personal hygiene supplies

Some personal hygiene supplies are much cheaper at the dollar store, especially when you buy their brand. I was shocked to find razor blades for about a third of the price they are in other stores. Granted, they don’t have a brand name on them, but they still work just fine. Another good find was toothbrushes. You can buy packs of cheap toothbrushes and similar personal care supplies cheaper at the dollar store than anywhere else.

4. First-aid supplies

Some dollar stores have a fairly good collection of basic first-aid supplies, especially adhesive bandages and medical tape. I was even able to find knuckle bandages in one local store, much to my surprise. First-aid supplies can be rather expensive, so it’s nice to find them at a low cost. I do suggest you buy a test box so you can try the bandages before stocking up. Some of those bandages don’t stick all that well.

5. OTC medicines

How To Build A Long-Lasting Bargain-Priced Stockpile At The Dollar StoreI think the dollar store is the only way to buy antihistamines, decongestants, cough drops and other over-the-counter medicines. These are generic products, which means that they are made of the same ingredients as name brand ones. But they are not made to such exacting standards. In other words, if something is supposed to have 50 mg of the active ingredient, the generic brand might have slightly less of that amount. But that’s close enough that it will still work just the same.

6. Duct tape

You can buy duct tape pretty much anywhere, and I try to buy the best. But there’s one thing I’ve found about dollar store duct tape that’s unique; they sell little rolls of it, rather than the big ones. Those little rolls are much better for survival kits.

7. Plastic dishes and cups

I’ve found some great survival gear in the kitchen section of the dollar store. They have cheap plastic bowls, cups and plates, which are perfect for camping as well as survival.

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They also are the cheapest place around to buy Nalgene water bottles, which is what everyone recommends using instead of the cheap water bottles that you buy bottled water in. Nalgene doesn’t release chemicals into the water.

8. Plastic storage containers

I’m a big fan of storing my survival supplies in plastic bins and even plastic food containers. I live near the Gulf of Mexico, so one of the survival scenarios that is central to my planning is hurricanes. Storing things in plastic bins makes it water repellant and can even help it float. That helps protect my food and other supplies in case we have flooding.

9. Food

Buying food at a dollar store is a bit of an iffy proposition. There are some products which are the same as you buy in the grocery store and others which are off brands. Some of those off brands can really taste kind of off too, in my opinion. But one thing I’ve found is that dollar stores tend to have pre-packaged meals or main courses, which don’t require refrigeration. These are usually very hard to find and make great survival food.

What would you add to the list? Share your advice in the section below:

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8 Frugal And Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Made It Through Hard Times

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8 Frugal And Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Saved Money

 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that life has gotten more expensive. I’m not talking about the almost-natural increase of inflation; that’s to be expected. No, what I’m talking about is the way that lifestyle choices make things more expensive. Things that are considered the “norm” today were considered luxury 20 years ago.

This has been brought home to me in a number of ways, mostly through my own, now grown, children. When my youngest graduated from college, she came home and bought a car a few months later. Now, that’s not unusual in and of itself, but she bought a Buick. When I was her age, we saw a Buick as being a rich man’s car, not one for someone working a low-paying job just out of college. Yet, that’s what she had to have, in order to get the luxury options that she wanted.

This same theme repeats itself over and over in everyday life. We carry around $600 cell phones as if they were nothing; and if it drops, breaking the screen, that’s OK. We wanted a new one anyway. We eat at fancier restaurants, and even fast food joints carry more elaborate selections than they once did.

I remember Dairy Queen being a treat, but today, it has to be one of the fancy frozen yogurt places. Everyone has big screen televisions and you have to have either satellite or cable to get the selection of programming you want. Yes, life has definitely gotten more expensive.

We’re so busy spending money on things that have become the norm in our society, not even realizing that we don’t need those things., or that we could get by just fine with much less. I mean, does anyone really need a $7 cup of coffee that much more than a dollar one?

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My parents’ generation couldn’t even think of paying for many of the things we think are normal today; for that matter, the younger version of me couldn’t. But as we go back in time, we find that our grandparents and great-grandparents were even more frugal. Why? Because they had to be. They didn’t have the disposable income that we have today and what income they did have, they didn’t consider disposable.

8 Frugal And Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Made It Through Hard TimesWe could learn a lot from our grandparents and great-grandparents; especially in how to live frugally and make our money go farther. Then, we might have more money to spend on the things that really matter, like giving our families some security.

Here’s how they saved money and made it through hard times:

1. Do you really need it?

Let me finish ranting about all the expensive stuff we buy today. The real question is; do you really need it? Do you need that $5 cup of coffee or will you be just as satisfied with the $1 one at the convenience store? Shoot, my convenience store even throws in the fancy, flavored creams, so you can have flavored coffee for a buck or a buck and a half.

It’s fun and special to go out someplace expensive or to eat fancy ice cream. I enjoy it just as much as anyone. But, I leave it to be something special. Rather than buying all of my ice cream from Marble Slab, I buy it at the grocery store. If I want it fancy, I throw some fruit, nuts and chocolate syrup on it at home. Then, I can save the trip to the fancy ice cream store for special times, making the trip special, rather than making the special ordinary.

2. Don’t be in a rush to replace it

Henry Ford’s Model T was probably one of the most boring cars in history. Compared to its contemporaries, it had little to attract attention to it … except for one all-important feature: the price. You could buy a Model T much cheaper than any other car out there.

But the T lacked in some things that might attract buyers today. There weren’t a long list of “standard options” that you could order. For that matter, there weren’t any options. When you bought a T, that’s what you got. If you wanted something different, you had to do it yourself. You could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black.

As cars became more commonplace, the automotive industry realized that they were going to have to do something to keep people buying their new cars. So, they came up with the idea of model years. Now, you can buy the exact same car, with a few insignificant but highly visible details that are different, and you’ll have the latest and greatest. You could snub all of your neighbors and friends who didn’t have the current model, like you do.

This is actually one of the greatest marketing victories in history. In fact, it’s been so great that everyone else is copying it. Everything from can openers to rocket ships now has model year changes. Electronics are the worst. Why do they do this? To entice you to buy the new model. That way, they get more of your money.

Let me ask you something. Does your old cell phone work? If it does, why would you need to replace it? I keep my cell phones for an average of seven years and then finally replace them when they break. But most of the people I know replace theirs every year or two. They just can’t wait to get the new model, with all the new whistles and bells.

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Break the habit of replacing things so quickly and you’ll find that you have more money. It’s amazing how that works.Think twice, buy once

3. Think twice, buy once

Impulse buying is another way that marketers have found to separate us from our hard-earned wages. If they can get us to buy it on the spur of the moment, we’ll probably buy it. But if we decide to think about it overnight, chances are that we’ll decide we don’t need it.

This is what our grandparents did, but it’s gotten lost in time somehow. I remember my parents telling me to always wait a day before making a major purchase. But you don’t see many people talking about that today. In our instant society, we want it now and we’re going to get it now, even if that ultimately hurts us. Let’s just say, that’s not the smartest thing we can do.

8 Frugal And Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Made It Through Hard TimesIf anything, the Internet has made this worse. I’ve been offered countless items on Facebook, which I just looked at on somebody’s website, especially Amazon. They want to make sure I buy it, before I lose my desire for the item. If they can get me to do that, they win and get my money. It’s not about good customer service; it’s about getting you and me to buy.

Taking your time to make buying decisions is one of the easiest ways there is to save money. Not only that, but your home won’t be filled up with stuff that you don’t use. You’ll actually have things that you want to have, instead of things that someone else wants you to have.Reuse, repurpose, recycle

4. Reuse, repurpose, recycle

Our grandparents and especially our great-grandparents were experts on reusing and repurposing things. They rarely threw anything away. Anything they had, including the packaging from things they bought, was reused for something else.

I can still remember my grandmother’s kitchen with its stacks of plastic storage containers. Only … those containers weren’t made by Rubbermaid or Tupperware; they were old margarine and Dream Whip containers. She’d clean them out and use them to store food in the refrigerator or any number of other things.

Back in the pioneering days, everything got reused. Burlap bags became towels (even though they are a bit scratchy), old clothes were either remade into clothes for children, cutting out the good parts of the fabric, or turned into rags. Barrels and casks were used for anything from storing grain for the horses to water tanks. If it would hold something, they’d find a way to use it.

We still see this in Third World and emerging countries. I’ve bought containers of candy to give to kids in Mexico, and had their mothers ask me for the container, once I passed out the candy. To them, that empty container was just as valuable as the candy that their children had eaten.

5. How much do you really need?

Here’s another subtle marketing trick that our grandparents didn’t fall for. Have you ever noticed how much of a product is typically used on a television commercial?

Take toothpaste, for example. There’s always a point in the commercial where they squeeze out the toothpaste onto a toothbrush. It’s a nice long line, covering the whole top of the brush, with a nice curl on the end. So, when we go to brush our teeth, we do the same. We don’t realize it, but we’ve unconsciously gotten the message that we need that much toothpaste.

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But how much do you really need? Can you get by with half of that and still get your teeth clean? I won’t tell you if you can, because I’m not a dentist. But I will tell you this; I do.

We use countless products every day, without thinking about how much of that product we really need. That ultimately causes us to use more of the product and sends more of our money into those companies’ coffers. Why not figure out the least you need and use that?

6. Be willing to wait

Another result of our instant society is that we expect everything now. We can’t even wait one minute, once we decide that we want it. After all, why should we wait? We’ll just charge it.

I think my grandparents would have fainted at the idea of buying things on credit, especially my mom’s parents. Back then, if you wanted something, you saved your money until you could afford it. If that meant you had to save for years, you did it. If that item was really that important to you, you’d make that sacrifice and save. You’d also be willing to wait.

Do you have any idea how much of an interest rate your credit card company charges you? If you’re like most people, you don’t. Credit card debt is one of the most crippling things for a family’s finances.

Believe it or not, there are actually forms of debt that are worse than credit cards. Those payday loan places where you can borrow $1,500 for six months are murder. Their interest rate is so high, they don’t even tell you. That’s not a problem, as the only number most people want to hear is the monthly payment. Hock shops are worse, but that’s because it is short-term, high-risk loans.

7. Do it yourself

We don’t even have to go back to our grandparents for this one, although I’m old enough to qualify as a grandpa. When I grew up, a man taught his son how to do things for himself. Therefore, the average boy would grow up learning how to change their car’s oil, do common mechanic’s work, be a fairly good carpenter, know a bit about plumbing and maybe even know how to shoe a horse (if they lived in horse country).

This training for self-reliance has somehow gone by the wayside. When I look at my children’s generation, so many of them don’t know how to change the oil on their own car, let alone swap out a bad alternator. The average person’s understanding of plumbing is to look down the drain and say, “Looks like it’s time to call the plumber.” Somehow those skills haven’t been passed on.

8 Frugal And Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Made It Through Hard TimesPaying someone else to do everything is expensive. They need to eat, too, so you’re covering their life expenses. Don’t get me wrong; that’s fair. If someone works for you, you should pay them, and pay them well. But let them work for someone else and learn how to do it yourself.

Through the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of tools. Over half my garage is actually my workshop and I use the other half when I’m building large projects. But even with all the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on tools, they’ve saved me more than what they cost me. Buying tools becomes part of every project; and as I buy them, I guarantee myself savings in the future.

8. Repair it, don’t throw it away

Speaking of those tools, they also help with repairing things, rather than throwing them away. We’ve become a disposable society, but as I mentioned earlier, our grandparents weren’t that way. They would fix things and keep on using them as long as possible, not throwing them away.

This is another marketing ploy, which is taking money out of our pockets. By making things hard to repair and parts hard to find, manufacturers ensure that we’ll throw things away, rather than repairing them. But that old vacuum is really just as good as a new one, if you can find a new switch and put it in.

I get annoyed about this, especially when I’m trying to find parts for things that I own, which have broken down. Few manufacturers still offer replacement parts, except for things that are considered maintenance items. But if they can use the part in the factory, I can’t see why they can’t package some of them for sale as replacements. That’s usually one of the most profitable parts of any manufacturing business.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got an engineering background. So, I’m pretty good at repairing. If I can’t find the right switch for my belt sander, I’ll find one that will work (I did this). It may not be as pretty, but I’ll save myself a bunch of money.

By the way, don’t use the fact that you’re not an engineer as an excuse to not try and fix something. I’m a self-taught engineer, even though I worked at it professionally for 15 years. If I can teach myself, you can, too. After all, I didn’t have YouTube or the rest of the Internet to help me.

What frugal, money-saving tips would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

More Than 90 Percent Of Customers Won’t Get Their Money When There’s A “Run On The Banks.” Read More Here.

11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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Stockpiling food can be expensive. But there is some good news for those of us on a tight budget – you don’t have to spend a fortune to be prepared.

You may not have all the food you want, but you’ll have food to keep your family alive. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

The most expensive part of any food stockpile is meat. While I’m a carnivore, I do recognize that I can survive without it. I also recognize that of all the types of food in our diet, meat might be the easiest to come up with in the wake of a disaster. You can hunt for meat, but last I checked, you can’t hunt for a loaf of bread.

With that in mind, here are my top foods for stockpiling, based on the nutritional bang you get for your buck:

1. Dry beans

On a worldwide basis, beans are one of the most common sources of protein. If you spend any time in Mexico, you’ll find that you get beans with pretty much every meal. That’s because beans pack a lot of nutrition into a small space, and there are a lot of different types of beans. They also store very well, if you can keep moisture and bugs away.

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11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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Maybe beans aren’t your family favorite; that’s OK. A lot can be done to doctor up the flavor of them, especially by using spices. Chili con carne and soup are both excellent places to hide your beans and actually get your family to eat them.

2. Rice

Rice is also a staple in many parts of the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Colombia, and rice is also typically served with every meal. Beans and rice are a common dish in many countries and territories, such as Puerto Rico.

As with any food, the more processed rice is, the more nutrition is lost. Brown rice can be mixed with just about anything and fried, making your own version of fried rice. But many survivalists prefer white rice because it stores longer.

3. Whole grains

We normally think of wheat when we think of grains, mostly because that’s what we usually use to make bread here in the U.S. But just about any type of grain can be used. When you buy some specialty breads, such as rye bread, you’re buying a bread that is made of a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour. When you buy “seven-grain bread,” it’s literally a mixture of seven different types of grains.

Having a stock of grains, especially a mixed stock, will allow you to experiment and break up the monotony of your diet. You’ll also have more nutritious bread, as wheat flour isn’t the most nutritious grain you can use.

You’re better off buying whole grain, rather than flour, as it will keep longer. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy whole grain you will need a mill to prepare it.

4. Cooking oil

In order to use those grains, you’re going to need to have cooking oil. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive unless you buy pure olive oil or something similar. Oil keeps well for prolonged periods of time as long as it is sealed. There is little risk of insects or bacterial forming in it.

5. Peanut butter

As an inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to beat peanut butter. Besides, what American child hasn’t grown up eating peanut butter sandwiches? That makes it a good comfort food as well. Peanut butter keeps well, is inexpensive and provides a lot of nutrition – so stock up.

6. Pasta

Pasta, like rice, is a good source of carbohydrates. The nice thing about it is that there are so many different things you can do with it. Besides throwing some sauce on it and having spaghetti, pasta forms a good base ingredient for many types of soups and casseroles. You can mix pretty much anything with it and turn it into a tasty dish.

7. Bouillon

Bouillon is your basic dehydrated or freeze-dried soup stock. If you buy it in the grocery store, it’s rather expensive. But if you buy it packaged for use in restaurants, it’s very cheap. With bouillon and pasta to start, you can turn most any food into a flavorful pot of soup.

8. Salt

Salt is necessary for your health. While doctors talk about not eating too much salt (to avoid high blood pressure and other health issues), a lack of salt prevents your body from retaining enough water.

11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile More than that, salt is the main preservative used for meat. If you happen to kill a deer or even a cow, you’re going to need to preserve a lot of the meat. Whether you decide to smoke it or dehydrate it, you’re going to need salt … and lots of it.

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Don’t buy your salt in the one-pound containers you see in the grocery store. Instead, buy it in 25-pound bags. You’ll get it for about one-eighth the cost per pound. Considering that you want to have a couple of hundred pounds of it on hand, that’s a nice savings.

9. Sugar

Sugar is more than a sweet treat. For example, it works as a preservative for fruits and helps bread dough rise so you can bake a nice, fluffy loaf.

Like salt, sugar will keep forever. The only problem is keeping moisture and ants out of it. Store it in a five-gallon, food-grade bucket and you should be able to keep it without any problem.

10. Powdered milk

Milk is one of nature’s most complete foods. It’s also needed for most baking. Unfortunately, in liquid form it doesn’t keep well and that’s why stockpiling powdered milk is wise. While powdered milk might not taste as good as regular milk, you’ll get used it and be glad to have it. Plus, powdered milk is very inexpensive.

11. Seeds

Admittedly, seeds really aren’t food. But they grow into food, and that makes them the best single food item you can stockpile. Eventually – no matter how many bags of beans, rice and other foods you stockpile – you are going to run out and will need to grow your own food. Stocking up on seeds is a great way to ensure your long-term survival.

What low-cost foods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

The Overlooked Reason You Should Never Freeze Meat

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The Overlooked Reason You Should Never Freeze Meat

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Of all the different means we have at our disposal to preserve meats, the most common is freezing. In our modern society, we either cook our meat fresh or put it in the freezer until we are ready to use it. This makes sense in an industrialized society, where normal utility service can be counted on and the electricity only goes down when there is an emergency.

For those of us who are stockpiling food and preparing for the unknown, what’s considered “normal” isn’t our norm. The fact of the matter is that our electrical supply is very unreliable in times of crisis or disaster. Even a brief storm is often enough to blow power lines down. Something more serious, like a hurricane, can leave us without power for weeks.

Considering that a freezer can’t keep frozen meat frozen for more than two days without electricity, keeping more than three or four days worth of frozen meat on hand means that there’s a good chance you’ll lose it in a power outage. (Yes, there actually are survivalists who never freeze meat.)

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The only way to prevent that meat from going bad in a survival situation would be to take it out of the freezer and preserve it by some alternate means. The big problem with that is that being thrown into a survival situation is going to overwhelm us — and we’ll likely have other, more urgent tasks. The last thing any of us will need at that moment is to have to deal with a freezer full of meat.

Alternate Means of Preserving Meat

What are some alternatives? I’d say that canned meats are safe. The canning process itself, if done properly, will ensure that the bacteria contained in the meat has died, making the meat safe for storage and eating. What about smoked meats? Most smoked meats are only cold-smoked for flavor, and not hot-smoked to keep for a prolonged period of time. Unless you’ve smoked it yourself and know that it was thoroughly hot-smoked, I wouldn’t count on it.

Commercially processed jerky isn’t even all that reliable. I’ve bought jerky at my local supermarket that has developed mold. That either means that the meat wasn’t properly marinated or that the salt concentration in the marinade was too low. If the salt concentration is high enough and the meat is properly marinated before dehydrating, there’s no way that it should go bad.

The Overlooked Reason You Should Never Freeze MeatThe fact of the matter is that meats are the hardest thing to preserve, especially for long-term storage. Canning is the most reliable, but canning will affect the taste and texture of the meat. If you’ve ever eaten canned beef, it is usually so overcooked that it will fall apart easily. If it isn’t cooked that well, you can’t be sure that the bacteria is killed.

I’ve had problems with both smoked and cured meats going bad. If you are planning on using either method for preserving meat, then you should use it in conjunction with refrigeration. But that puts us right back in the place we were with freezing.

What About Drying?

Drying meats – whether by dehydration or freeze-drying – is fairly secure as long as the salt concentration is high enough and the moisture content of the meat has been brought down low enough. Properly salted and dried meats provide a very hostile environment for bacteria to grow in. The salt alone is enough to dehydrate the bacteria and kill it.

So, how much salt is enough? From my personal experience, not all jerky recipes have enough salt in them for good preservation. I generally dehydrate five pounds of thinly sliced beef at a time. Regardless of the recipe I use for the marinade, I always add an additional heaping teaspoon of salt. Doing it that way makes the jerky rather salty, but I have yet to have any jerky go bad when I add the extra salt.

To keep jerky for a prolonged period of time, it needs to be sealed in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I also add a silica gel pack. One pound bags are good for a survival stockpile and a number of them can be put together in a five-gallon bucket for storage.

Re-freezing Meat

There’s another problem with freezing meat that I want to mention. And that’s the problem of re-freezing meat. Freezing meat doesn’t necessarily kill the bacteria in it. In many cases, the bacteria just become dormant. Then, when the meat is thawed, it becomes active again. As long as the meat is cooked to a high enough internal temperature, that bacteria is killed and any problem is eliminated.

But if the internal temperature of the meat isn’t high enough to kill the bacteria – for example, cooking a medium-rare steak – then you have live bacteria in the meat.

Not only is that bacteria alive, but the metabolism of the bacteria increases as the temperature rises. So, the bacteria will multiply faster, infecting the meat even more. If the meat has been properly refrigerated or frozen, this usually isn’t an issue. But it can be if the meat is heated and cooled repeatedly.

The other issue is that some bacteria put off toxins as waste. The higher temperature and higher metabolism increase the amount of these toxins that are released. Thawing out meat and then re-freezing it provides an excellent opportunity for the bacteria to produce these toxins, making the meat dangerous to eat. For this reason, meat that has thawed should never be re-frozen and then eaten.

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What advice would you add on preserving meat? Share it in the section below: 

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9 (More) Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That We’ve All Forgotten)

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9 (More) Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That We’ve All Forgotten)

A while back, I wrote an article called “Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew.” It turns out that it was one of the most popular articles that has appeared in Off The Grid News, which got me thinking. What other skills have we lost — skills that were part of our ancestors’ day-to-day lives?

Personally, I think we’ve got to hand it to our grandparents and great-grandparents. They managed to do everything they needed, and they did it without smartphones, YouTube and Google. They were much more prepared to survive than you and I are, simply because life demanded it of them.

Here’s a few more skills that were common years ago:

1. Hitching a team

What are you planning on doing for transportation if there’s a disaster and the gas pumps are down? For a large part of our country’s history, the horse was the main motive power used. Not only did people ride them, but they hitched them to wagons, carriages and plows.

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Of course, the first problem is finding the horses, but even then, how do you put that horse to work? I seriously doubt you’ve got a set of harnesses hanging up in the garage, and even if you did, would you know how to put them on the horses? We’ve lost the art of saddle making, harness making and even the knowledge of how to hitch a team up to a wagon.

2. Shoeing a horse

9 (More) Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That We’ve All Forgotten)We tend to think of taking a horse to the blacksmith to get it shod. Blacksmiths, or more correctly, farriers, did shoe people’s horses in town. But on the farm or ranch most people did their own. It took too long to ride into town just to get your horse’s shoes shod. Considering that it needed to be done about every six weeks, it was easier to learn how to do it yourself than to keep interrupting your work.

Shoeing really isn’t all that hard and only takes a couple of specialty tools. Most farriers use factory-made shoes. The first automatic horseshoe-making machine was invented in 1835, but factory-made shoes predated that. Shoes could be bought at the local feed store and most horse owners kept a couple of sets on hand.

3. Birthing a calf

Most animals give birth pretty well on their own. After all, when a baby decides it’s time to come out there’s not much you can do to stop it. But what happens when the baby isn’t coming out correctly? Just like with people, calves and colts can be turned the wrong way, causing the equivalent of a breach birth.

When that happens, you’ve got to know how to go in and turn the calf or colt around, and you’ve got to do it quickly. If the baby isn’t turned, it may not be able to come out, causing it to die in the mother’s uterus. That usually causes the death of the mother, too.

4. Felling a tree

There’s a true art to properly felling a tree. If it’s not done correctly, that tree can end up landing on your chicken coop or your newly restored ’57 Chevy. Not only that, but you want to do the job in such a way that you waste as little wood as possible. Felling a tree incorrectly can actually cause the tree to split, damaging much of the wood you were hoping to harvest.

5. Turning that tree into boards

Felling the tree is one thing, but turning it into usable lumber is a whole other thing. If all you want is firewood, that’s not such a big deal. But if you want building material, you’ll want to be able to turn it into boards.

Today, just like 100 or even 300 years ago, it’s the job of a sawmill to turn those logs into boards. Before sawmills or in areas where sawmills weren’t available, people used wedges to split the tree’s trunk, making boards out of it. The boards could then be cleaned up with an adze. The adze also was useful for squaring logs into beams or flattening the top and bottom surfaces of logs, making a tighter log cabin.

6. Milking a cow

This one might not seem like a big deal, but it’s amazing how many people today don’t know the right way to milk a cow. It takes more than just pulling on the nipples. You’ve actually got to first close off the nipple with the thumb and forefinger to keep the milk from flowing up into the udder, and then squeeze the nipple to force out the milk.

7. Making butter and cheese

9 (More) Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That We’ve All Forgotten)Fresh milk is great, but it doesn’t keep long. Our forefathers and especially our foremothers solved this problem by turning the milk into butter and cheese. Since one cow gives more milk than the average family can use, this was a great way of preserving that milk in other forms.

It was not uncommon for families who owned a milk cow to churn butter once a month and have cheese aging pretty much all the time. Both are fairly easy to make and retain nutrients from the milk. Butter and cheese can both keep for an extended time without refrigeration, although keeping them cool does help them to last longer.

8. Wearing fabric

What are you going to do when your clothes run out? Make more, right? But what if you can’t find fabric? Can you weave it? For that matter, can you make thread or yarn from natural fibers so you have something to weave?

Few people have any idea of how to use a spinning wheel or a loom. Even fewer know how to build these machines.

9. Sewing clothing

Sewing clothes – or even making repairs to clothing – is fast becoming a lost art. A generation ago, all girls grew up learning how to sew. Today, few people even have a sewing machine, let alone know what to do with it.

When you consider how fast children grow and how many clothes they go through, the ability to make your own is a valuable skill.

What skills would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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How To Find The Best Place To Dig Your Own Well

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How To Find The Best Place To Dig Your Own Well

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Drilling a well is a rather expensive operation, often costing several thousand dollars. But if you’re going to drill your own well, the first question you’re going to need to ask yourself is: Where? Where is the best place on your property to get what is called “sweet” water, rather than highly mineralized water?

In much of the country, anywhere you drill is going to yield pretty much the same results. Groundwater tends to run in aquifers, which are layers of water trapped in porous stone or sand. But if your underlying geology is rock, it may not be porous enough to allow water to flow through the rock. In cases like that, groundwater is going to be flowing through cracks in the rock, and these cracks are a much harder target to find.

So before drilling, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of actually finding water when you sink that hole.

First of All, Things to Avoid

There are a few things you want to avoid in your well drilling. These things can cause you problems, both in putting in your well and in getting clean water from it.

Septic tanks and leach fields — One of the common methods of spreading disease is what is known as the anal-bocal route. Feces from people who are infected with bacterial or viral infections also contain the viruses or bacteria that have infected those people. And bacteria can travel as far as 100 feet underground. So you want to avoid any wastewater to ensure that you don’t contaminate your water supply.

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Rock outcroppings — Surface rock, especially partially-buried boulders, is a great indicator of subterraneous rock as well. Often, the surface rock is merely an extension of what is to be found underground. Small rocks aren’t really much of an issue, but large ones will slow your drilling progress.

Where to Research

How To Find The Best Place To Dig Your Own Well

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A lot can be determined by some good old-fashioned research. There’s actually a fair amount of information about groundwater available online. The first source to try is the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They publish quite a bit of data about groundwater, including a groundwater atlas of the country which shows all the aquifers. There also are a number of maps that can be useful.

The USGS also has a network of several thousand test wells that they monitor on a constant basis. These wells provide data on water table levels and aquifer levels. They can provide you with information about what the exact water level is at the time of drilling and whether it is dropping.

In addition to federal information, many states also have information about groundwater availability. What exact information is available will depend on the state you live in. But many states require a permit for well drilling, which means they have a database of all wells, their depths, the water quality and the amount of water flow they produce. This information can be useful in determining what the average depth is in your area. Simply look for several wells that are nearby.

One way this data may be presented is a “water availability map” which shows how much groundwater availability there is for any one area, as well as the depth of that water. This is the type of information that a hydrologist would use in creating a study of your land.

Of course, well drilling contractors have a pretty good idea about the water conditions in your area, where water can be found, the underground geology, and how deep of a well you’ll need to reach good water. While they would rather drill the well for you, most will act as consultants for a fee.

Water Dowsing?

There is an incredible amount of controversy over the subject of water dowsing, often referred to in the negative sense as water witching. This ancient practice is seen by many to be just to the left of witchcraft. But the practice has been in use for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Water dousers use a forked stick, a pair of bent wires, or a plumb bob to find where to drill a well. When using the forked stick, the stick bends towards the ground when they pass over water. With the wires, the wires cross. So there is a clear indication of where water can be found.

The idea has been studied scientifically, with surprising results. A lot depends on how the actual test was conducted. In tests where they are expected to find water in underground pipes, water dousers are unsuccessful. But when they are asked to find naturally-occurring water in the ground, their success rate is much too high to be mere coincidence.

There is a nationwide organization of water dowsers, called the American Society of Dowsers (ASD). The society has more than 4,200 members and may be the best source for finding a dowser in your area.

Related:

How To Install Your Own Off The Grid Well

What is your preferred method for finding water underground for drilling a well? Share your tips in the section below:

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11 Forgotten ‘Antique’ Appliances Your Great-Grandparents Used Every Day

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11 Forgotten ‘Antique’ Appliances Your Great-Grandparents Used Every Day

The modern, industrialized world revolves around a myriad of electrical and electronic gadgets. Little is done anymore which doesn’t require electrical power.

We’ve harnessed this power for tasks to make our lives easier, as well as more interesting. The electric motor is at the core of many of these devices. By using motors, we eliminate the need to provide the manpower for these devices ourselves. This saves both work and time, allowing us to accomplish more, with less effort. Such is modern progress.

One of the major areas where this technology has been applied is in the home, specifically in making homemaking chores easier. Back before electricity, many household tasks required considerable muscle power to accomplish. Women had to work a lot harder in the home and usually for many more hours to get their work done.

While these gadgets do make things easier, our ancestors got by just fine without them. Learning about their appliances can be useful, whether it’s simply to use as a backup in case our electronic versions break, or it’s to use during a power outage.

1. Wood-burning cook stoves

Many homesteaders already use stoves for heat, but that doesn’t mean that they can cook on them. Unlike the older designs, few modern wood-burning stoves are designed to allow their tops to be used as a cook stove. Also, modern wood-burning stoves generally are not in the kitchen.

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The difference is that a cook stove is designed for cooking, rather than heating. It provides burners for cooking food in pots and pans, as well as an oven for baking. If you can find one, they’re worth picking up, as new ones are often running over $5,000.

2. Wood-fired water heater

An add-on option to the wood-burning cook stove is a wood-fired water heater. These were a metal tube, installed in the cook stove, above the firebox. Filled, they would hold about five gallons of water, enough to heat a bathtub, when brought to boiling. A spigot on the front allows easy removal of the heated water into a pot or pail.

3. Fireplace crane

11 Forgotten ‘Antique’ Appliances Your Great-Grandparents Used Every Day

Fireplace crane. Image source: Chimney Direct

Those who couldn’t afford a cook stove were stuck with cooking in their fireplaces. That may seem excessively rustic to us today, but it was very common throughout much of history. All a cook stove did was make cooking more convenient, but just like cooking hot dogs over a campfire still works today, so does cooking over a fireplace.

One common means of cooking over a fire in a home was to use a fireplace crane. This is a metal hook, mounted to the side of the fireplace, which allows a suspended pot to be swung over the fire and then swung away for stirring and serving. The fireplace crane adds a lot of safety to cooking in a fireplace, as well as convenience.

4. Oil lamps

Maybe this one isn’t really an appliance, but oil lamps are a vast improvement over using candles for light. They don’t require the time it takes to make candles, can be used with any oil, and provide much more light. This increase in light comes from their larger wick. When used with mineral oil, lamps are smoke-free, helping to keep the air in your home fresher and cleaner.

Surprisingly, few homesteaders and survivalists have oil lamps in their stockpile, mostly opting for candles. But a few oil lamps will serve much better over the long run, ultimately providing much better lighting. Since they can burn other oils than just mineral oil, they will probably still be usable after paraffin for making candles runs out.

5. Washboard

Yes, washboards do have a purpose other than a hillbilly band. The old-fashioned washboard made washing easier, if you can believe that. The corrugated surface provided agitation to the clothes, breaking loose dirt so that it can be rinsed away. While this may not seem easy, it’s better than not having one.

11 Forgotten ‘Antique’ Appliances Your Great-Grandparents Used Every Day

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Washboards come in two sizes, a smaller one that is 18 inches x 9 inches and a larger one that is 24 inches x 12 inches. They are also made in a variety of different materials. While zinc-coated steel is the most common, they can also be made of copper, brass and even glass. Of the various materials, glass outlasts the rest.

6. Clothes wringer

If you’re going to have to wash clothes by hand, then it would be nice to be able to wring them out by hand, as well. Of course, you can do that totally by hand, building muscle and making your hands tired, or you can do it with a clothes wringer.

These wringers are most often associated with the early electric tub washing machines, which usually had a wringer mounted on the edge. However, some people had the wringer, without the tub washer. Either way, the wringer still does its job, making it much easier to get the majority of the water out of your clothes, without having to wear out your hands.

7. Kerosene clothes iron

People started ironing their clothes long before the electric clothes iron was invented. In colonial America and the pioneering days, the most common clothes iron was the cast iron, which was literally made of cast iron. The iron was placed on a wood stove for heating, and the mass of metal held the heat for ironing.

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The cast iron was ultimately replaced by the kerosene iron. This had a small fuel tank and an internal burner, making it totally self-contained. The tank would be filled with kerosene and the burner lit. Within a few minutes, the iron would be producing enough heat to iron your clothes. While nowhere near as convenient as a modern electric iron, this was a vast improvement over the cast iron.

8. Meat grinder

The meat grinder wasn’t something that would be found in all homes, but it was fairly common in farmhouses and butcher shops. At that time, grinding meat for hamburgers wasn’t all that common. Instead, meat grinders were used for grinding meat to make sausage. Usually, the meat grinder would be able to be used to stuff the sausage into the skins as well.

This was an important means of preserving meat, as all types of sausage and lunchmeats fall into the category of “cured” meats. The high salt content was the main curing methodology, as salt is a natural preservative. Much of this cured meat was also smoked, forming a skin of collagen around it, which would keep bacteria out.

9. Meat hammer

11 Forgotten ‘Antique’ Appliances Your Great-Grandparents Used Every Day You can still find meat hammers in use in kitchens today, although many people have no idea of what they are. The meat hammer is the original meat tenderizer, predating MSG by centuries. Not only does it predate MSG, but it’s much better for your health. The pointed surface of the meat hammer was used for breaking down tough meat, by breaking its structure. This made the meat much easier to chew and digest.

Game meat is generally considerably tougher than domesticated meats. If you are planning on eating game meat as part of your survival plans, then having a meat hammer on hand is going to make your meals much more enjoyable.

10. Apple peeler/corer

People who have apple orchards or even a single large apple tree need to be able to make use of their apples. In olden times, apples were squeezed for cider, dried as apple rings, turned into applesauce and made into apple butter. Some of these products required peeling and coring the apples, as these parts were not wanted. The job could be done by hand, but if you had a lot of apples to deal with, a peeler/corer was much easier.

This is a hand-crank device, which worked similar to a wood lathe. The blade would peel off the skin as the crank was turned. The core was easier, as putting the apple on the appliance actually meant pushing it onto the corer. A twist as the apple was removed, and the core stayed behind.

The same tool could be used for peeling potatoes, so it was useful in more than one way, although it was still referred to as an apple peeler.

11. Dutch oven

People who didn’t have that fancy wood-burning cook stove we talked about earlier still needed a means to bake. Pies, cakes and bread were all popular parts of their diets. But these require an oven. That’s where the Dutch oven comes in.

The Dutch oven of our grandparents day was different than most of what you buy today. What we call a Dutch oven now is nothing more than a medium-sized pot. It can’t be used in a fireplace well, and if it is, it will not last long. But these older Dutch Ovens were made of cast iron, making them much more durable and much better at resisting the damage of the fire.

A true Dutch oven will have feet cast into it, allowing it to be placed in the coals of the fire and still stand upright. The lid will have a rim on it as well so that coals can be piled on top, without falling off. In this manner, the food inside is surrounded by heat, something necessary for baking.

What old-time appliances would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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12 Winter Survival Items That Should Be In Your Car Right Now

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12 Winter Survival Items That Should Be In Your Car Right Now

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I vividly remember growing up in Colorado. We lived in Lakewood, a suburb on the west side of Denver, which put us right up against the mountains.

We used to have a saying in Denver: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes, it’ll change.” Anyone who has ever lived there understands what that means. The thing is, the weather in Denver comes over the mountains, and we’d get little warning of what was to come. I could literally leave my house in the morning with clear skies and find it raining or snowing by the time I got to work.

Maybe the weather can’t sneak up on you quite as quick where you live, but the truth is that the weather you leave behind when you walk in the door at work may be very different than when you walk out the door eight hours later.

With that in mind, it only makes sense to stay prepared for winter weather, as long as there’s a chance of it showing up. That means more than just dressing for cold weather; it means taking along what you need to ensure your survival. A simple drive to a friend’s house out in the country could easily turn into a dangerous survival situation, especially if you end up spinning out on the ice and go off the road.

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Survival in this case means surviving until someone can come rescue you, and we’re assuming you already have a cell phone. We’re not talking full-blown wilderness survival here. Call someone, stay with your car and allow them to come rescue you. That’s your best chance for survival.1. Shovel

1. Shovel

A shovel gives you the chance to dig your way out of being stuck alongside the road. While that won’t always be possible, there are many situations you can get out of with a quick 15 minutes of digging. A simple folding shovel, like an entrenching tool, is enough as that doesn’t take up much space and is small enough to get under your vehicle.

2. Sand (or, something for traction)

I remember many a time when the only problem was getting enough traction to get up a slight hill or even out of a parking space. Keeping a bag of sand in the trunk, or something else to give you traction, may be all you need to get unstuck and back on your way. Of course, if your state allows studded snow tires, that will solve the problem for you as well.3. Space/rescue blankets

3. Space/rescue blankets

With three or four of the cheap rescue blankets, you can create a cozy cocoon in your vehicle. Line the roof, windshield, rear window and doors with the blankets, taping them in place with duct tape. That will reflect the heat back to your body, rather than letting it all escape.

Rescue blankets don’t provide insulation, so you need something between you and them. They are heat reflectors. However, as a heat reflector, they are excellent and will help you to stay warm.

4. Candles & matches (or other heat source)

12 Winter Survival Items That Should Be In Your Car Right Now

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A couple of large candles will help keep the inside of your car warm, even if you can’t run the engine. Granted, it won’t be summer on the beach warm, but it should be enough to keep the ambient temperature above freezing, when used in conjunction with the rescue blankets. While that may not seem comfortable, it will help you survive.

In a pinch, those matches can be used to light your spare tire on fire. The rubber will burn, providing you with heat. It will also provide a lot of smoke, so keep it on the downwind side of the car. Let the air out of the tire before trying to light it so that it doesn’t explode.5. Blankets

5. Blankets

If you’ve got an old blanket or two, one of the best places to store them is in your car. That will help keep you warm while you’re waiting to be rescued. And at other times, keeping a couple of blankets in the back seat can help keep the kids or any other passengers from complaining about the cold.

6. Hats and gloves

There are a lot of people who don’t like wearing hats or gloves in the wintertime, even when it is cold out. But those are important for keeping you warm. A quarter of your body’s blood supply goes to your head, so wearing a hat will go a long way toward keeping you warm. Keep some spares in the car, just in case you left home without them.

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Please note that I’m assuming that you always wear a coat when you leave your home in the wintertime.7. Charger for your phone

7. Charger for your phone

Actually, I carry two: one for the cigarette lighter and a battery-powered one. That way, I can recharge no matter what, even if my car battery is dead. That call for help is important, but it’s not going to go through if your phone is dead.

8. A full tank of gas – even extra gas

Maybe this one seems a bit simple, but it’s amazing how many people run out of gas in the wintertime. You tend to use more in the winter, simply because of the time you spend waiting for all the other people who are driving slow or slipping on the ice.

But even more important than that is having that gas if you get stuck somewhere. As long as your engine is still running and your exhaust pipe is clear, you can run your engine to keep you warm. I’d recommend running it every 15 minutes, for about 10 minutes, to make your gas last as long as possible. That may not be enough to keep you really warm, but it will be enough to keep you from freezing.9. Energy bars

9. Energy bars

12 Winter Survival Items That Should Be In Your Car Right Now

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Your body needs sugar to burn and turn into heat. Keeping yourself well-fed is an important part of keeping yourself warm. Don’t count on your body using fat reserves; those take time to convert to sugar. Some high-energy bars will give your body that extra burst of energy needed to help keep warm.

When eating these, take lots of time to chew them. Sugar begins being absorbed into the body at the mouth and carbohydrates are broken down into sugar by saliva. So, by chewing thoroughly, you’re getting some of that sugar into your bloodstream immediately, where it can start helping your body produce heat.

10. Plastic bags

In order to avoid having to go outside to go to the bathroom and expose yourself to the cold, keep several plastic bags in the car. You might want to keep some toilet paper, too. While it’s inconvenient to try and go in the car, at least it’s warmer than outside. Then, tie the bag closed, open the window or door slightly and put the bag outside.11. Flashlight with extra batteries

11. Flashlight with extra batteries

A bright flashlight might make it possible for you to signal anyone who passes by on the road. Make sure you have spare batteries, as high intensity flashlights go through them rapidly.12. Piece of rope

12. Piece of rope

You’re best off if you don’t have to get out of your car. But you might need to get out for something, such as clearing the snow from your tailpipe. If you do and you fall in a blizzard, you might never find your way back to your car.

This problem is solved quite simply the same way that astronauts accomplish their space walks. Simply tether yourself to the car, each and every time you need to go out the door. Tie one end of the rope to the steering wheel and the other end around your wrist. That way, if you get lost in the snow, all you have to do is follow the rope back to the car.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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8 Foolproof Ways To Heat Your Home When The Power’s Out

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8 Foolproof Ways To Heat Your Home When The Power’s Out

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It’s wintertime and the power goes out. If you’re like most of us, you’re not all that worried – you trust that the power will come back on soon. But when 12 hours goes by and you still don’t have any electricity, you start getting concerned. It might be days before the power comes back on.

For many of us, the quick solution is to turn to wood. Heating with wood is historically the most common means of keeping your home warm. Throughout the centuries, people used wood to warm everything from tents to palaces. It has withstood the test of time quite effectively, providing warmth for millions of people. That makes it a survivalist’s number one choice for a backup heat source.

But it takes a lot of wood to keep your home warm. In a long-term crisis situation, you might run out of wood before the power comes back on. Or, perhaps your wood-burning stove is unusable. Whatever the case, you’re going to need another alternate heat source. Here’s a few to consider:

1. Propane

Many people living in rural areas already heat with propane. Unfortunately, their forced-air propane heater won’t work any better without electricity than anyone else’s does. However, there also are ceramic heaters, commonly referred to as “catalytic heaters,” that can be tied into the home’s propane. These allow you to burn the propane for heat without having any need for electricity. They are extremely safe for use indoors.

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These catalytic heaters also are available for connection to a portable propane tank, such as the type used for a barbecue grill. I actually heated a motorhome through a couple of winters with these, as they were much more efficient than the furnace that the motorhome was equipped with.Kerosene

2. Kerosene

8 Foolproof Ways To Heat Your Home When The Power’s Out Kerosene heaters provide a considerable amount of heat, without needing electricity. I used to heat my office with a kerosene heater, back when my office was an uninsulated attic in upstate New York. If you live in a part of the country where people use kerosene for heating, then the price is quite reasonable. But if not, avoid this one, as buying kerosene at the paint store is just too expensive.

3. Passive solar

Anyone who builds a home without giving it at least some passive solar capability is missing out on a great opportunity for free heat. Even if passive solar can’t heat your whole home, you will still save money on heating costs. Passive solar is reliable, cheap and plentiful, especially if your home is designed for it.

If your home isn’t designed for passive solar heating, you can still take advantage of it. Open the curtains on all your south-facing windows during the day and put something dark colored on the floor to absorb the sunlight and convert it to heat. While not a perfect solution, it will help.

The big problem for most people is having a thermal mass. This is a mass of rock or concrete that becomes warmed by the sunlight striking its surface. The surface, which must be dark, is called the absorber because it absorbs light and converts it to heat. If your home has concrete floors and you cover them with dark-colored floor covering, then you’ve got a basic passive solar system, even if the concrete isn’t thick enough to absorb much heat.Solar convection

4. Solar convection

Another way you can take advantage of solar energy is to build a solar convection heater. The easiest and cheapest way to make one of these is to cut the tops and bottoms out of a bunch of aluminum soda or beer cans. Glue them together, forming tubes out of the cans that are the height of your windows and leave an opening at the top and bottom. Connect several of these together, side to side, to fill your window opening and paint the whole thing black.

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Since warm air rises and cool air drops, the cooler air at the bottom of the window will enter into the bottom of the solar convection heater and exit out the top, warming as it passes through.

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5. Coal

There are still many homes in the northeast which have coal bins and coal chutes into the basements, even though they are no longer heated with coal furnaces. Coal burns hotter than charcoal and will burn a long time. Essentially, coal is petroleum-filled porous rock. So what is burning is the petroleum, leaving behind the rock, which is referred to as coke. The biggest problem with burning coal is keeping it lit. It needs a lot of oxygen to burn, so you’ll have to have good airflow to the fire. It burns slowly, making it perfect for heating, but does produce a lot of soot.

In order to use coal, you’re going to have to use it in a fireplace or a wood-burning stove that is lined with fire brick. Please note that this is only an emergency measure, as the coal will damage the fireplace or wood-burning stove. A coal insert in the fireplace is better and will allow the coal to burn more efficiently. Don’t use coal in a metal, wood-burning stove without fire brick since it can get hot enough to soften the metal, distorting it. You absolutely have to have some ventilation, or your home will fill with the coal smoke.

6. Animal dung

Dried animal dung has been used by a variety of cultures throughout history for heating and cooking. While not anyone’s favorite, it works well. If you have livestock, you have a regular source of this heating fuel. Just allow them to dry naturally in the field and collect them. Surprisingly, dried animal dung burns without stinking up your home.

7. Burning flammable fuels

Gasoline, diesel, oil and other liquid fuels can be burned for heat if you are careful. The problem is controlling the burn rate. This is fairly easily accomplished by pouring the fuel into a sand-filled container, such as a number 10 can. The sand will act as a wick, controlling the burn rate.

There also are oil heaters. Some of the simpler ones control the burn rate by dipping the oil from a tank into the burner. The Army used to use heaters of this sort, with gasoline, to provide hot water for field kitchens. So you might be able to find one of those heaters at your local army surplus store.

The big problem with this is that you’ll go through a lot of fuel quickly, so this should be considered only if no other option exists. Ventilation is essential.

8. Compost

The natural act of composting produces quite a bit of heat as the millions of bacteria eat the organic material, breaking it down into its basic elements. You can tap into this heat source by burying pipes in your compost pile. Those pipes can carry water to be heated or you can push air through them to be heated. As long as the compost pile has a continuous source of organic material and is kept moist, it will continue to produce heat.

What tips would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

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The 10 Very First Foods You Should Stockpile

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The 10 Very First Foods You Should Stockpile

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Those of us who have been storing food for a while probably have a pretty good assortment of food in our stockpile. We may have started out with just a few basics, but over time, we’ve been adding to it. In some cases, our survival pantry has reached the point where we’ll probably eat better in an emergency than we do on a day-to-day basis.

But none of us started out that way. Whether we started out by buying a few bags of rice and beans or some prepackaged survival foods, our budding stockpile really didn’t have all that much selection. It was about survival, not about taste.

The thing is, those first foods we stockpiled were probably the most important foods that we have. Why? Because they are the ones that will keep us going when we run out of everything else. Yes, it’s nice to have foods you enjoy in your stockpile and I wouldn’t try to dissuade you from that. But more than anything, you need foods that will give you the nutrients you need when there aren’t any other food sources available.

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With that in mind, we should always go back and check our stock of these basic items. Since they are the most important, it makes sense to have more of these on hand than we do of the others.Basic Survival Nutrition

Basic Survival Nutrition

When we read what nutritionists say today, we find a lot of talk about omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and other micronutrients. Those are all-important for maintaining our health. But when we’re talking about survival nutrition, it’s not about those micronutrients; we need to focus on the macronutrients. If we can fit the micronutrients in too, that’s good, and they will help keep us healthy. But more than anything, we need the macronutrients to keep us alive.

So, what are these macronutrients?

  • Carbohydrates — should make up about 60 percent of your intake
  • Fats — should account for about 25 percent of your intake
  • Proteins — should account for roughly 14 percent of your intake

Carbohydrates are broken down by our bodies into simple sugars, which are the basic fuel our muscles burn in order to move. In a survival situation, we are going to have to be more physically active, so we will need lots of carbs. That makes them the single most important part of our survival diet. In the wild, these are hard to encounter. But in the grocery store, they are very easy.

The 10 Very First Foods You Should Stockpile

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Once the body has consumed carbs, it will turn to breaking down fats to turn them into simple sugars. This includes both fat in our diets and fat in our bodies. Since fats take longer to break down than carbohydrates do, this will work sort of like a time-released energy boost, giving our bodies the energy necessary for a second wind.

Proteins can be broken down into sugars as well, but we really don’t want that to happen. When the body starts breaking proteins down into sugars, we’re literally at the point of starvation. What actually happens is that the body starts to cannibalize itself, specifically skeletal muscles, in order to get those proteins. Since the body is always building new cells, a constant supply of proteins is needed to keep the body from cannibalizing old cells in order to make new ones.

If it is possible to get micronutrients in there, that’s great. Most of them come from fruits and vegetables, which also are great sources of carbohydrates. They also are the easiest forms of food that we can grow ourselves. So make sure you have a vegetable garden so that you can have carbs and micronutrients.

The First 10 Foods

Now that we have a little better understanding of survival nutrition, let’s look at what foods are the most important to stockpile. I’m going to look at this as if I was just starting out. What foods are absolutely the most important for me to stockpile?

1. Water

Most people won’t consider this a food item, but I don’t want to leave it off. The saying is that you can live 30 days without food (personally, I think most of us could go longer), but only three days without water. So in terms of importance, water clearly trumps food.

The other issue with water is that you need so much of it. Most experts say you need a gallon of purified water per person, per day for drinking and cooking. But that doesn’t include what you need for washing and tending to your vegetable garden. You’re actually going to go through a whole lot more than just a gallon per person.

2. Salt

Salt is more than a seasoning. It is necessary for survival because it is what holds the water in our bodies. It also is a natural preservative. If you happen to bag a deer while hunting, you’re going to need salt to preserve the meat, regardless of how you preserve it.

Many survivalists and preppers don’t stockpile enough salt because they don’t think of it as a preservative. But it’s more or less impossible to preserve meats without it. Whether you smoke meats or dehydrate them to make jerky, you have to have salt. You even need it for canning meats, although you don’t need as much. Stock up well on salt and if it turns out you have too much, you can always use it as trade goods.Brown rice

3. Brown rice

Brown rice is somewhat of a universal food, providing an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber and other nutrients. While rice doesn’t make for all that exciting a diet, rice and beans are a staple for a large part of the world’s population.

4. Dry beans

Together with rice, dry beans are one of the world’s staple foodstuffs. They are an excellent source of plant protein, as well as carbohydrates. Beans keep extremely well as long as you can keep moisture and insects out of them.Cooking oil

5. Cooking oil

Cooking oil is necessary for cooking just about anything. Your rice and beans will need oil for cooking. You’ll also need it for baking bread. This is your prime source for fats in your diet, as game meat won’t provide you with much.

6. Sugar or honey

natural honey or manufactured honeySugar and honey both keep indefinitely; some say forever. Like salt, sugar is a natural preservative. We use salt for preserving meats, but sugar for preserving fruits. Both work in the same way to kill off harmful bacteria that would otherwise eat the food that is being preserved.

Sugar and honey also are excellent sources of energy, when you need it the most. Since they are complex sugars, they break down into simple sugars faster than any other food source. That provides an instant boost of energy when one is exhausted.Peanut butter

7. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is another excellent source of protein, as well as fats and carbohydrates. In fact, it provides the best mix of the three macronutrients of anything on this list. Canned, it also keeps very well and is relatively inexpensive. That makes it an ideal addition to your survival stockpile. Of course, if you want peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you’ll need some bread and jelly to go with it.

Peanut butter also is a good comfort food for kids and most American kids grow up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As a result, not only will it be easy for them to stomach, it will give them a feeling of normalcy in the midst of disaster.

8. Whole red wheat, unground

Bread is the Western world’s most common source of carbohydrates, while the Eastern world is more accustomed to rice. However, flour doesn’t keep well for long periods of time. The solution is to store unground flour and grind it yourself. This means having a grinder as well, preferably a high-quality one that can be operated manually without electricity.

Whole wheat not only keeps longer, but will provide more fiber and nutrition than our typical white flour does. In olden times, breads were much heavier and heartier due to an increased use of whole wheat and a reduced use of yeast.Powdered eggs

9. Powdered eggs

In order to bake bread, you have to have some sort of protein. It’s the protein that actually holds the bread together. The normal means of providing that protein is with eggs. If you don’t have chickens you can count on, you’ll need to have a goodly stock of powdered eggs on hand. Don’t even plan on eating these plain, as nobody really likes them – just keep them for baking.

10. Heirloom seeds

While seeds aren’t really food, any food stockpile should have a good selection of vegetable seeds. Be careful to buy heirloom seeds rather than hybrid or GMO. Only heirloom seeds allow you to harvest the seeds of the plants you are growing so that you can replant and harvest the same plant next year.

No matter how big your stockpile is, it will eventually run out. By adding these seeds you give yourself the ability to produce your own food, extend your stock and make yourself more self-sufficient. Just don’t wait to start planting; either start your garden now or as soon as the disaster hits.

What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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4 Forgotten Ways Your Ancestors Stayed Warm During Winter

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4 Forgotten Ways Your Ancestors Stayed Warm During WinterYour home’s heating is an essential part of your survival in cold weather. Even if your house is insulated well, it will eventually get dangerously cold if your heating system is off or the power grid goes down.

Many homesteaders have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves in their homes, an idea that has plenty of merit, considering that wood has been the most common heating fuel throughout history.

On the plus side, wood is a renewable resource that one can harvest on their own. On the minus side, a fireplace or wood-burning stove is limited as to the area that it covers. You can’t heat an entire home with a fireplace.

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Our ancestors solved this problem in a variety of ways — many of which we can adapt to our own use. Knowing what they did and why they did it gives us some insight into how to keep our own homes warm without electricity, even in the midst of a winter storm.

American homes have grown through the two centuries of our country’s existence. The average home size now is 2,600 square feet, which is large enough to be considered the home of someone wealthy 200 years ago. Wealthy people could afford more than one fireplace and many of their homes had them. Some even had a fireplace in every room.

4 Forgotten Ways Your Ancestors Stayed Warm During WinterIt’s difficult to retroactively install a fireplace in every room of your home, even if you have the money to do so. It probably would be easier to build a new home designed for all-wood heating. But if that’s not an option, then we need to look at other options.

If we look at our country’s Colonial period and the westward expansion of the pioneers, we see that homes were much smaller. A one-room home was much easier to heat and a single fireplace was enough to do the job. So most people lived in one-room homes.

The fireplace became the focal point of the home, much like the television set is today. People would sit around the fire, talking and working on small tasks. Much of the handicrafts of the day were done sitting around the fire in the evening.

As homes grew, one of the first rooms added was a separate kitchen. This helped keep the rest of the home warm, as well as providing a larger work area for processing food. It also helped to keep the rest of the home cooler in summertime, as the main fireplace would not have to be lit. Kitchens always had their own fireplace or a wood-burning cooking stove.

Many homes had a loft where the children slept. Since heat rises, the loft would be the warmest part of the home. Mom and dad’s bed would often be located below the loft, so that they could have some privacy from the prying eyes of the children.

Here are a few “forgotten” ways our ancestors kept warm that we can borrow, either now or in the future when the electricity is out:

1. Thick bedding and curtains

The classic down comforter was intended to allow families to sleep in comfort, holding in their body heat. Beds were piled high with quilts and comforters in an attempt to keep warm.

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Quilts and comforters weren’t the only thing that beds were piled high with; they were piled high with bodies, as well. While mom and dad usually had a bed to themselves, the children often slept all together. As the family grew, there might be a boy’s bed and a girl’s bed to provide more room.

4 Forgotten Ways Your Ancestors Stayed Warm During WinterWarm night clothing was common as an additional layer of insulation against the cold. Most people even slept with stocking caps on, to protect themselves from losing heat through the tops of their heads.

The idea of bed curtains also traces its roots to trying to keep warm in cold weather. The extra layer of fabric used for the curtains would help hold a person’s body heat in the bed area.

2. Bed warmers

Before retiring for the night it was always a good idea to warm up the bed. This was done with a bed warmer. These are covered copper or brass pans, with a long handle. Holes would be punched in the lid, forming a design. The pan was filled with rocks that had been heated at the edge of the fire and then slid between layers of bedding using the long handle. This would warm the bed quite effectively.

3. Foot warmers

Foot warmers are both similar to and different than bed warmers. Typically, they were a wood-framed tin box with a wire handle on it. Like the bed warmer, heated rocks were placed inside the foot warmer, which could then be placed by the feet, under a blanket.

This was most commonly used as a heater in the family wagon, when going to the store or church. Wealthier churches had boxed-in pews, which allowed the families to bring in their foot warmer and lap blankets to keep warm in church. In many churches, this was the only heat to be found on a cold Sunday morning.

4. Soapstones

An alternative to the bed and foot warmer was a soapstone. Soapstones would be placed in the fire to heat and used directly, often wrapped in rags to prevent anyone from burning themselves on the hot stone. They could be used as bed warmers or foot warmers.

Due to their mass, soapstones were often more effective than a foot warmer. The more massive the stone, the more heat it can hold.

Have you heard of other ways our ancestors kept warm? Share your advice in the section below:

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8 Ingenious Off-Grid Ways To Split Wood (Without An Ax)

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8 Ingenious Off-Grid Ways To Split Wood (Without An Ax)

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I’ve had a pile of firewood sitting in the backyard for a while — actually for a few years. This pile was made up of branches that I’d cut off our various trees, either because the branches were dead or I needed to cut back branches of the trees because they were spreading too far. Regardless of the reason, there was a stack of tree limbs that needed to be dealt with.

Finally, though, I got around to building a firewood rack, so that I’d have a place to put all of that wood. Setting the rack beside the garden shed, I started stocking it. So far so good. Some logs had to be cut to length, “bucking” them for firewood, but that wasn’t much of an issue, either. The problem came when I tried to split them.

Now, I haven’t split firewood for a few years, so I expected to be a little rusty. But rusty wasn’t exactly the term for it; the Three Stooges comes more to mind. Even though I (supposedly) knew what I was doing, all I could manage was to split small chunks off the sides of the log, not really splitting it into usable firewood.

In my own defense, I need to mention that this wood was all hardwood and had been sitting for some time. Had it been freshly cut, I might have been able to do a better job. It’s usually easier to split wood when it’s somewhat green, not once it’s sat there for a few years.

I can’t blame the axe I was using, either. Actually, I wasn’t using an axe, but a maul. For those who don’t know the difference, a maul head is wider than an axe head, even though they look pretty much the same. The wider head makes a better wedge, specifically for splitting wood. An axe really isn’t the tool for splitting wood; a maul is. Oh, and I sharpened it before starting, too.

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Splitting wood is a pretty basic survival skill, particularly during cold weather. But as I’ve recently re-discovered, that’s not as easy as I remember it being.

The solution is to find other means of cutting wood. While I won’t claim to be an expert on everything, I will say that there are some rather innovative ways to do it, as well as some that have been around for a long time. The point isn’t whether the idea has been around for a long time or not, but finding one that will work for you, allowing you to get your firewood ready for winter.1. Hydraulic Firewood Splitter

1. Hydraulic firewood splitter

The first and best known option is the hydraulic firewood splitter. These come in a variety of sizes, made by a number of different manufacturers. They use a hydraulic cylinder (think hydraulic bottle jack) to push a wedge through the wood. You can buy these splitters in either manual pump models or ones with an electric motor and pump, depending on how much wood you’ve got to split.

While hydraulic splitters work well, they can be rather expensive. Even the smallest cost a few hundred dollars, while a large one can run as much as $9,000 or more. Of course, that’s a commercial unit. But to me, they all seem a bit like commercial units, in that I wouldn’t feel justified in the expense if I wasn’t either selling wood or heating my house with it full time.

2. Auger splitter

The auger splitter is another one that has been around for a while. They come in several varieties, some of which are designed to bolt onto a lawn tractor’s axle, while others work independently, powered by an electric motor. The idea is that the auger is like a big screw that is driven into the log. However, this screw gets wider very fast. So, it ends up acting like a wedge, pushing against the log from the inside, just like a wedge, ultimately breaking the wood.

While very effective, auger splitters, like hydraulic splitters, are a bit expensive. If you have a good motor sitting around, you can save yourself a lot of money by buying just the auger screw and using it with your own motor or axle.

3. LeverAxe

The LeverAxe is a totally redesigned ax, designed to make splitting wood much easier. This tool just recently came off of one of the crowd-funding sites and the price went up quite a bit. But even at the higher price, this tool is well worth the money, making the job of splitting wood much easier.

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The off-center head of the LeverAxe acts as a much wider wedge than it actually is, simply because of the way the weight acts against it. In videos I’ve seen, the person operating the LeverAxe didn’t even lift it all the way, like a regular ax or maul. They were only lifting it about two feet above the log to be split. This looks like a much easier way to split wood, especially if you are splitting larger logs, like I was.

4. Kindling cracker

This is another new invention, coming from a teenage girl in New Zeeland. The log is set into a holder, sitting on the ax head. When the back end of the log is struck, it pushes the log down onto the ax head, splitting it. This is great for people with a poor aim or who don’t have the strength to swing a maul with the necessary force for splitting.

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While it may need several strikes with a sledge hammer for some people to split a log, it will work.

5. Wedge and hammer

If you want to simplify things and not buy a special tool for splitting would, you could split logs with a wedge and hammer. The wedge is placed on the end of the log and driven in with a heavy hammer. While a slow method, for someone who doesn’t have a lot of wood to split, it is still effective.

6. Table saw

Some might call this cheating, but you can split a log easier by cutting it partially through on a table saw. Simply cut along the log’s length, “ripping” it in several spots. Then, when you hit it with an ax, maul or wedge, the wood is already partially split. All you really have to split is the center part of the log, where the blade couldn’t reach.

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Be careful pushing the log through the saw. You don’t want your fingers to find the blade accidentally. Nor do you want the log to start twisting as you push it through. Doing so could cause the log to bind up the blade, acting as a brake. This could either bring the saw to a stop or cause the log to be thrown by the saw’s blade.

7. Smart splitter

The Smart Splitter is a simple device which uses a weight as the driving power to split logs. The device needs to be mounted to a stump or log that is being used as a work surface. Logs to be split are then set on the work surface, end up, with the wedge of the Smart Splitter on them. The weight is raised and dropped, driving the wedge down into the end grain to split the log.

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Like the wedge and hammer, this isn’t the fastest means of splitting wood. The weight won’t provide as much force to the wedge as swinging a maul would, but it will get the job done. Chances of injury are very low with this sort of log splitter

8. Build a counterbalanced splitter

One of the most ingenious methods of splitting logs I’ve seen was in a video on YouTube. A man took a maul head and mounted it to a counterbalanced frame that he built. This allows him to pull the head down, having it strike the wood and split it, very efficiently. Little actual muscle strength is actually expended, as the work is being done by the device he built.

This idea is not commercially available, so you’d have to build your own, just as he did. However, I’d say it’s one of the most ingenious wood splitting devices I’ve ever seen. I’m even considering building one myself, especially If I don’t do any better the next time I try splitting wood with my maul.

What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below: 

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9 Items You’ll Need To Survive The First 72 Hours Of A Crisis

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9 Items You’ll Need To Survive The First 72 Hours Of A Crisis

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It finally happens … the crisis you’ve been preparing for. All that training and stockpiling you’ve been doing is going to start paying off. What you do during the next few days might decide whether you and your family make it through this crisis unscathed. Having the right tools and supplies on hand is going to make a huge difference, but so is using them in the right way.

Depending on the crisis, you may not know it is coming. Some natural disasters, such as hurricanes, give us lots of warning. But other things, such as an earthquake, sneak up on us with no more than a second’s notice. Then there are the situations which aren’t supposed to be a crisis but become one when the storm ends up being bigger than forecasted. Of course, there’s also the chance of a man-made disaster or terrorist attack. At times, our first warning that there’s a problem is when the power goes out.

There’s often a time of confusion at the beginning of any crisis. Rarely do we have all the information at our fingertips about what is happening, nor do we know if it will be a short-term or long-term crisis.

So, what do you do? How do you react? What are the first things you need to use and the first actions you must take to ensure your survival? Obviously, some of these items will be in your survival kit or bug-out bag.

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Let’s take a look at what you should have:

1. Radio

Your very first need is going to be information. Without it, you may not even be able to tell what is happening around you. You definitely won’t be able to make a judgment call as to how serious it is. That’s necessary for making decisions about bugging out or bugging in, recalling your family to the home and whether you need to put your disaster plan into effect.

While there are many sources you could use for information, radio is the most reliable. While information also is on television, there aren’t all that many battery-powered TVs around. Plus, such TVs drain batteries.

2. Cell phone

Chances are the crisis will hit when your family is scattered all over town. The modern American family has a busy schedule, with kids scattered around at different activities and both parents working. Once you know what’s going on and make a decision to go into survival mode, you’ve got to get your family together. That means contacting them, letting them know what’s happening and explaining your plan. The cell phone is the most efficient means of doing this, assuming that cell phone systems are still up and running.

As a secondary consideration, you might want to contact your extended family to check up on them and let them know that you’re all right. This can wait until you have your immediate family gathered up, but it might give you something to do while you are driving.

3. Vehicles

If the family is scattered around, you’re going to need vehicles to gather them up. Keep in mind that schools may not be all that willing to let kids go in a crisis situation. As part of your plan, let your kids know that you expect them to leave their classrooms and meet you at the school’s entrance (or possibly an alternate exit point), regardless of what the teacher says. Short of physically restraining them, your kids should be able to get away.

4. Clothing

Once you have everyone at home, you need to immediately go into survival mode. If your electricity is out, you probably don’t have lights, and the refrigerator and heat will be off as well. Since your number one survival need is to keep your body heat in, have everyone change their clothing to something that is more appropriate for keeping them warm. Of course, if the crisis happens in the summer, you’ll need to put on cool clothing to prevent overheating.

5. First-aid kit

first aid emergencyHopefully none of your family gets hurt in the crisis, but that’s not something you can count on. Chances of injury increase during these times and someone in your family could be hurt. You’re going to have to be ready to switch hats at any time, grabbing the first-aid kit and taking care of their needs.

Medical facilities tend to get overloaded in crisis situations, due to the high number of accidents. So try to take care of the small stuff at home and only go if there’s a serious enough injury to warrant the care of a doctor.

Of course, that means having a first-aid kit that can handle the rough stuff. If you don’t have a good trauma kit that’s big enough for dealing with large injuries, you’re missing out on an important part of your survival preps. At a minimum, your first-aid kit should provide enough to treat gunshot wounds and broken bones. If it can’t do that, it’s time to add to it.

6. Water and food

Once a crisis hits, you won’t have any idea how long your utilities will last. Therefore, you have to assume that everything will go out and go out soon. While some may last a while, you can’t count on it.

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Water is going to be one of your biggest needs and one which you will constantly need to be seeking. While you probably have a bunch of water on hand, it’s not going to be enough. Therefore, you should have portable water filters, such as a Paratrooper Filter.

Food with a long shelf life that doesn’t require refrigeration is essential.

7. Alternate heating

What if the disaster takes place during winter? Before your house gets cold, you’ll want to start using your alternate heating. For most of us, that means wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Start burning some wood, just to get it going. It’s easier to keep your home warm than it is to warm it up once it’s gotten cold.

Your stove or fireplace is only going to be able to keep one room warm, probably your living room or family room. So you want to isolate the heated room from the rest of your house. If you don’t have doors to close it off, hang extra blankets over doorways, blocking out the cold air and holding in the warm.

8. Flashlights/candles

Christmas_candlesBy now it’s probably getting close to nightfall, so you’ll want to break out the flashlights, candles or oil-burning lamps. Our modern society is not used to stopping our work at sunset and you’ll probably find you have a long list of things you need to do once the sun goes down.

Be sparing with your use of your light sources. You don’t know how long they are going to have to last you. Don’t just keep a flashlight on so that you’re not sitting in the dark. Use the light when you need it and then turn it off. Your eyes will adjust to the dark, allowing you to see well enough to walk around your home and do some simple tasks.9. Guns

9. Guns

It is unlikely that many major acts of violence will happen within the first 72 hours after the start of a crisis. Most people will be in shock, trying to deal with the situation and just survive. It won’t be until they run out of supplies that the serious fear will set in and they will start acting irrationally. However, there is always the possibility that someone will snap early, either because they are a bit unstable or because they are already criminally minded and think that stealing is the way to survive.

You’ll want to be ready to defend yourself from the beginning. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary. But in a time of crisis, some people won’t be all that picky about other people’s lives. Your family’s survival may depend on how quickly you react to an attack.

And One More To Consider

When the power goes out, you can count on your refrigerator/freezer keeping things cold for about two days, but that’s it. After that, you either have to consume the food or let it spoil. Of course, there’s another option too: finding some alternate means to preserve it.

A solar dehydrator will allow you to turn any meat you have into jerky, which is probably the best and easiest way to preserve meat. Properly prepared jerky, with enough salt, will last a long time, even without refrigeration. Meat also can be canned if you have a pressure canner. For that matter, just about everything in your refrigerator and freezer can be canned. Better to do that, than to see it go to waste.

What would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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8 Personal Items That Should Be In Your Safe Right Now

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8 Personals Items That Should Be In Your Safe Right Now

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There’s many things that people miss when preparing for the unknown – be it a natural or man-made disaster. But one that always surprises me is when people forget to add a safe to their list.

Perhaps our oversight is due to thinking in the terms of major disasters, rather than personal ones. But even then, a safe has its place. If your home is destroyed by an earthquake or tornado, the items in your safe would probably survive. We can’t be so sure about the rest of your stockpile.

For you, a personal disaster can be as serious a problem as a regional or national one. Ignoring this fact could lead to unnecessary suffering for you and your family. Imagine, for example, that your home is lost to a fire. This likely will be as much a disaster for you as if a hurricane hits – perhaps even more so since a hurricane might just damage, not completely destroy your home.

Safes are rather robust structures, designed to be able to withstand a lot of abuse. In addition, most home safes are fireproof to a certain temperature or for a certain amount of time. So anything you store in a safe is likely to survive whatever happens, as long as you can still find the safe.

Home safes aren’t all that big, so you’re better off buying the largest one you can find. With a large part of the space taken up by the thickness of the walls, the interior is much smaller than the exterior. Once you start putting things in it, you’ll quickly discover how small it actually is.

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So, what should you keep in your safe? While it would be nice to be able to put your entire prepping stockpile in there, that just isn’t going to happen. Instead, you’ll need to carefully select key items.

1. Important documents

 

8 Personal Items That Should Be In Your Safe Right Now

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Generally speaking, the most important thing to keep in your safe is the documentation that makes up the legal part of all of our lives. That documentation will be key part of being able to rebuild your life after many types of personal or community-wide disasters. In our modern world, if you don’t have the paperwork, it doesn’t matter if you own the item or not. Some documents you should store in your safe are:

  • Home and property titles
  • Vehicle titles
  • Marriage license
  • Birth certificates
  • Copies of degrees and other awards
  • Military discharge papers
  • Insurance policies

More than anything, these documents are being stored in the safe to protect them from fire. If you have some other fireproof place in your home to save documents, you may want to move them there and keep the safe for other items.

2. Account numbers and access

Many people have multiple accounts in multiple places rather than just one bank account. If something happens to you, your family is going to need to know where those accounts are and how to get into them. A list of all account numbers that you have, along with access codes, bank names, and other key information needs to be in the safe.

Of course, for your family to be able to use this information, they’re going to need to be able to get into the safe. Make sure that they either have or can access the combination or are input into the biometric lock.

3. Contact information

With everyone using cell phones, nobody bothers memorizing phone numbers anymore. But in the wake of a crisis, it may be necessary to get in touch with a lot of key people in your life. What are you going to do if your phone is destroyed or lost in a crisis? Keeping a contact list in the safe ensures that you will always have this information, no matter what happens.

4. Computer backups

The best place to keep your computer back-ups is offsite somewhere. Many people keep theirs in the cloud now. But if you have to keep your data files onsite for some reason, the best place for them is in your safe. Copy the data on a removable hard drive and store it in the safe. That way, it’s protected from fire. Better yet, print it out.

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This is especially important if you run a business out of your home. All your records are probably on your computer. Proper storage of your data is a critical part of maintaining your business.

5. Cash

8 Personal Items That Should Be In Your Safe Right Now

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It’s always a good idea to keep as much cash on-hand as possible. In the wake of a disaster when the power is out, the money you have in the bank is inaccessible. You will surely need money to buy things and make repairs to your home. Having cash allows you to start immediately, while everyone else is arguing with the bank to get access to their money.

6. Gold and silver

If you are investing in gold and silver – an excellent idea considering the state of the economy, in my opinion – then store it in your safe. That’s probably the safest place you can store it, and will ensure that your investment is available in a crisis scenario.

One nice thing about gold and silver in your safe is that even if dollars become worthless, these precious metals will likely retain their value. In fact, in such a situation their value might increase.

7. Handgun and ammo

Keeping a handgun in your safe spurs images of fighting off a robber that is forcing you to open up your safe. But that’s really not the reason that I’m recommending it. The main reason is to have at least one gun in your home, which is protected from damage. Ammunition and firearms can be damaged in a fire, leaving you suddenly unarmed and unable to protect yourself and what’s left of your home.

That one handgun in the safe will survive a fire or just about any other disaster. And you’ll have something you can use to protect yourself, your family and your belongings.

8. Survival kit

This one may sound a bit odd, as it is not considered an item of high value. But if you lose everything else, having a survival kit will give you the basics you need to get clean drinking water, start a fire and otherwise take care of yourself. This doesn’t need to be a huge kit, but make sure you at least have the basics. That way, you won’t have to scrounge around looking for them.

What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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6 Natural Ways To Make An Unheated Greenhouse Warm

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6 Natural Ways To Make An Unheated Greenhouse Warm

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For most people, gardening is limited to the summer months, when the weather is warm. However, commercial growers don’t always depend on the weather being cooperative. While most farmers are limited by the weather as well, there are some who manage to grow their produce most of the year, if not all of the year.

Having extra growing seasons or even growing year-round has some distinct advantages. More than anything, it can ensure a year-round food supply, rather than having to depend on the food that one has canned in harvest time. It also evens out the workload, rather than working a huge garden in the summertime.

The key to this is a greenhouse. Greenhouses were invented by the ancient Roman Empire for the purpose of growing vegetables 2. Considering that Rome is at a higher latitude than Denver, if they were able to grow vegetables there during the winter, we should be able to do the same in most of the country.

Although professionally built greenhouses are very expensive, made with aluminum framework and glass windows, you can build a homemade greenhouse quite cheap. A quick search online shows countless examples of homemade greenhouses, mostly made out of PVC pipe or 1 inch x 4 inch dimensional construction lumber and visqueen plastic sheeting. Of the two, building out of PVC is the easiest, although PVC pipe will become brittle after a few years if you have a lot of sunlight.

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The key to using your greenhouse year-round is to maximize the heat produced inside it. Your goal has to be to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse above freezing. If you can keep it even warmer, that will be better for the plants. There are a number of things you can do to help accomplish this; not all of them need to be done, and you’ll need to pick a combination that works for your situation.

1. Use a double layer of plastic for the “windows”

Insulation helps, but most insulation blocks the light. So, instead of insulating the south and west sides of the greenhouse, use a double layer of plastic for the windows. That will double the R-value of the greenhouse. It may not seem like much, but it will help tremendously.

2. Use compost

The natural breakdown of organic material to make compost generates a lot of heat. Specifically, it is the bacteria that is breaking down the material which generate that heat. So, topping your garden beds with fresh compost before the cold weather hits will help to keep your plants, especially the critical roots, warm. Make sure that you add a good layer, two to three inches thick, as the bacteria like a warm environment. The thicker layer helps the bacteria create that warm environment.

3. Use black wood mulch for the walkways

6 Natural Ways To Make An Unheated Greenhouse Warm

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The space between your planting beds is prime real-estate for absorbing sunlight and converting it to heat. This can either be left as bare dirt or covered with black wood mulch. Whatever you do, make sure that it is black or at least dark colored, as dark colors absorb more sunlight. Black-colored cement would be even better, although it would add a lot of cost to your greenhouse.

4. Add heat-absorbing barrels

One of the best things you can do is to place black plastic barrels, filled with water, inside the greenhouse, where the sun can strike them. The sunlight entering the greenhouse will be absorbed by the black plastic and converted to heat, warming the water inside. That water will act as a thermal mass, holding the heat like a battery, until it is needed. Then, usually after the sun goes down, that heat can be radiated into the air.

You must be careful about the placement of these barrels, so that they do not block the sunlight from reaching any of your plants. Remember that the sun will be lower down on the horizon, so sunlight will be blocked easier. The best place to locate these barrels is along the north wall of your greenhouse. For that matter, you can make the north wall out of them and then cover them up with white fabric in the summertime, so that they don’t create extra heat in your greenhouse.

5. Insulate the north side

6 Natural Ways To Make An Unheated Greenhouse Warm

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The north side of your greenhouse isn’t going to generate any heat for you. That’s because we live in the northern hemisphere and the sun is always south of us. So, there’s really nothing to be gained by having the north wall be clear plastic, like the other walls and roof. You’re better off insulating it with Styrofoam sheets, helping to hold in the heat and blocking any wind.

6. Build your greenhouse partially underground

Probably the hardest, but one of the most effective strategies is to build the greenhouse partially underground. The deepest you’ll want to go is about 4 feet, with another four feet of roof sticking up above the ground. By building it underground, the earth around the greenhouse will act as an insulator from the cold outside air. The lowest that the ground temperature can reach is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you have colder air in the winter, the ground will actually be warmer.

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This works extremely well if you can build your greenhouse into a south-facing hillside. The sun coming into the greenhouse can warm the earthen wall on the north side, just the same as it warms the ground. Between the two, it will produce more heat.

Add a heater, if you must

When all else fails and these ideas don’t keep your greenhouse warm enough, you might have to add a heater. This becomes more likely the farther north you go. A small space heater inside your greenhouse may be just enough to break the chill, especially at night. Don’t worry about producing too much carbon dioxide, as your plants will consume that, converting it to oxygen.

Finally, grow cold-weather plants. All plants are assigned a “growing zone” in which they grow best. These zones come from a map produced by the USDA and equate to the temperature encountered in those areas of the country. During the winter, pick out plants that grow best in the northern part of the country. This will be indicated by a lower growing zone on the seed packet.

Do you have a greenhouse? What tips would you add to the list? Share them in the section below:

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The Best (And Safest) Way To Stockpile Gasoline

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The Best (And Safest) Way To Stockpile Gasoline

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Stockpiling supplies for an emergency is at the very core of survival. Unfortunately, though, not everything stores well, especially when we’re talking about months and years. Most food items don’t store well, but we are able to make up for that by the way we preserve and package them. Other items aren’t quite as easy.

Gasoline is one of these items. I think we all would agree that a good stockpile of gasoline will be extremely valuable in just about any survival scenario. The problem is in finding a way that we can store gasoline without it going bad.

What Makes Gas Go Bad?

Gasoline is not a simple chemical substance, such as ethanol or citrus acid. It’s a mixture of a number of different hydrocarbons, with the actual carbon ranging from four to 12 in a single atom. The fractional distillery which refines gasoline from petroleum also mixes in various additives, intended to help a vehicle’s performance.

Most of the chemicals in gasoline are highly volatile. Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn’t mean that they burn easily, but rather that they evaporate easily. It is the gasoline vapor, not the liquid gasoline, that we burn.

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Typically, the most volatile parts of the gasoline mixture are also the most reactive or most flammable. As gasoline sits, these volatile parts evaporate, leaving the less flammable parts in place. While an internal combustion engine will still burn those parts and work, some efficiency will be lost.

The second thing that can go wrong with gasoline is that certain parts of it will oxidize, mixing with oxygen in the air to form new compounds. These new compounds are not as reactive as the original ones and, in fact, can cause problems in an engine. These new compounds congeal together, forming particles of a gum-like substance that can plug injectors and fuel filters. Fortunately, these are visible and filterable from the gasoline. They also cause the smell of the gasoline to change to a distinctly sour one.

Finally, the third culprit in the process of making gas go bad is water. The heating and cooling of the gasoline causes water to condense on the inside and outside of the container. The water condensation then mixes with the gas, reducing its reactivity.

What About Ethanol? 

Stockpiling Gasoline The Right WayIn recent years, there has been a push to add ethanol to gasoline, in order to extend gasoline supplies. Typically, the gasoline we buy is 10 percent ethanol, or grain alcohol.

Chevron states on their website that adding ethanol to gasoline has no discernible effect on its life expectancy. However, ethanol is known to draw water out of the air, so it would seem that gasoline augmented with ethanol would absorb more water than pure gasoline would.

With all this, it would seem that it is virtually impossible to store gasoline for a prolonged period of time. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done in order to make it possible to store gasoline for months or even years.

To start with, gasoline needs to be stored in truly airtight containers, whether metal or plastic. I prefer metal myself, as plastic containers can allow some small amount of oxygen to pass through. Generally speaking, the seals on plastic containers are made of plastic and there is a mold line running right through the sealing surface. Metal containers, on the other hand, do not have a mold line to contend with and use rubber seals.

During World War II, one of the ways that gasoline was shipped to the South Pacific was in five-gallon Jerry cans. Even with months of storage and shipping, the gas wouldn’t lose any of its potency. I use a 55-gallon drum, which seals tightly and has a non-sparking brass valve. The bung has been reinserted in the hole with Teflon tape to ensure that there are no air leaks.

The fuller the container is, the less air there is in it to react with the gas. This will reduce the possibility of evaporation, oxidation and water contamination. However, a gas can should not be filled completely because some space needs to be left for expansion of the gas when it is hot.

It is safer to store gas outside the home, perhaps in a shed. But it is better for the gas if you can store it in a cool, dry place, such as a basement. The more consistent temperature will eliminate the expansion and contraction of the gasoline, allowing the container to be filled more. This also will reduce the likelihood of condensation by not allowing the gas to get cold enough to cause it.

Gas additives, such as Sta-bil, work well to extend the life of gas as well. They claim that they can add an additional six months to the life of the gas, without any other additives or change. Sta-bil works by replenishing chemicals that may have evaporated from the gas, and also reduces oxidation.

Another aid in storing gas for prolonged periods of time is to rotate your stock. Every month use five or 10 gallons of your existing stock and replace it with fresh gas. That ensures that you always have fresh gas on hand.

Finally, always be sure to filter any old gas, when using it in an internal combustion engine. That will allow you to remove any of the oxidized solids which have formed in the gas. This one step can make it possible to use gas that otherwise wouldn’t be usable.

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8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive

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8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive

I have a lot of respect for Native Americans — those who populated this land before the first European white man set foot on these shores.

History rarely mentions it, but countless thousands of those Indians were killed by disease and carried in the boats of those early traders. But before that, the American Indian had a thriving culture, in tune with nature and appreciative of the beauty around them.

Of all the cultures referred to as “primitive” by supposedly civilized society, this is the culture we know the most about. Yet at the same time, we know very little about them. Sadly, history and Hollywood has not treated the Native Americans fairly, portraying them as a barbaric culture, mostly responsible for attacking white settlers and committing atrocities on them.

There are probably countless things about survival that we can learn from the American Indians. Here are several:

1. Nature Has Everything You Need

The Indians had to get everything they needed from nature, and they did. Whether it was flint to start a fire or animal skins to make clothes, they found everything they needed in the world around them. Few of us would be able to survive if we were just dumped in the wilderness with nothing. But for the Indians, that was just everyday life.

It is important to note here that the Indians were satisfied with what nature provided. While many Indian cultures used gold and silver, they were not seeking to amass wealth to themselves. They were satisfied with the lives they had, and not wanting anything more.

2. Fathers, Teach Your Children

Survival was an all-encompassing task for the Indian. One of a father’s responsibilities was to teach his sons how to survive. There wasn’t a school to which they could send their children; they had to teach them on their own. If a father was negligent in teaching his son, the son would most likely die.

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The number of skills the average American Indian needed to learn was actually rather extensive. Since they had no trade centers as we know the term (although they did have trade), they had to make everything they needed. An Indian who needed a canoe had to know how to build it himself. Same for his bow, his arrows and his knife.

8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive

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If you and I don’t teach our children the survival skills we are learning, we are preparing them for failure. You won’t be there forever to protect them. At some point in time, they will have to make it on their own. That will be the test of whether you’ve trained them well or not.

3. Live in Harmony with Nature

If there were ever a people who lived in harmony with their surroundings, it was the American Indian. They took what they needed from nature, but did so without destroying nature. They learned the sounds and movements of the animals and could read their signs. More than anything, they studied everything around them.

There were always tribes which were friendly to the white man. We all know the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant and cultivate. Had it not been for the knowledge of the Indians, and their understanding of nature, the United States would have died aborning. Their knowledge of nature was unsurpassed and became the foundation of many learned works, written by scholars who learned from them.

4. Waste Not

When American Indians killed an animal, they used every bit of it they could. They were not wasteful. You never saw an Indian village with a garbage dump beside it. Everything had its use and the Indians were amazingly clever in finding those uses. Even internal organs from the animals could be used, making containers out of them to carry water or to store medical herbs.

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The Indians also understood that what they had today may not be there tomorrow. When they had food to eat, they ate well, banking up extra for the time when they would not have food. Winters were hard on them, but they made do mostly by preserving food in the summer and fall.

We see this in the westward expansion as well. The early pioneers didn’t throw anything away. An old shirt which couldn’t be repaired anymore became a rag. A burlap sack became a towel. People brought their baskets to the General Store to go shopping and they used everything they had. The waste in our modern society, especially the ideas of disposable items and planned obsolescence, simply add to our ultimate downfall.

5. Make it Yourself

Probably one of the worst things that white men did to the Indian was to teach him to be dependent on manufactured goods. While those goods were in many ways superior to what the Indians had, that dependence played a part in their ultimate downfall.

Indians made what they needed; they didn’t buy it or trade for it. If a man needed a knife, he would make one. If he needed a teepee, he had to kill enough animals to have the skins. In a culture where everything is handmade out of materials gleaned from nature, one can survive alone, without the huge infrastructure that we depend on today. We would be better off at surviving if we were able to do more for ourselves, rather than depending on others.

6. Be Aware

The Indians may have been the inventors of situational awareness. They knew when enemies were about by the reactions of the birds and squirrels. They could tell when a storm was coming. Indians would see things in the world around them that you and I would pass over, without a moment’s notice.

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Living in harmony with nature requires knowing her moods and truly seeing what is happening around you. Survival makes this a requirement. Often, the only difference between the living and the dead is who sees who first. This is true for animals and it is true for humans, too.

7. Blend In

8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive

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The Apache Indians were masters of guerrilla warfare. Stories have been told of Apaches who crept up on a man dozing, holding the reigns of his horse, and stealing the horse, while leaving him sitting there sleeping. How could they do this? By blending in with their surroundings and moving slowly.

The whole idea of camouflage is one that came naturally to the Indian. Their skin color and attire lent itself to hiding in the environment. They knew how to move without attracting attention and had the patience to move slow enough so as not to catch the eye.

Blending in helps us to avoid attracting attention. In a survival situation, that can be invaluable. Just avoiding being seen by others can greatly increase chances for survival. That means learning how to look like the environment around you, as well as moving as part of that environment.

8. Learn the Medicinal Value of Plants

The only medicine that the Indians had was the plants around them. While they had their medicine men who were experts in using those plants, most Indians had at least some rudimentary knowledge of herbal medicine. After all, they would be observing everything the medicine man did.

Modern medicine is an evolution of herbal medicine. In the past, doctors gathered herbs and plants which they used as medicines. Many of today’s modern medicines are merely artificial copies of things found in nature. Many of the medicines we need are there waiting for us. We just need to learn which plants to use and how to prepare them for treating our needs.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts on the Native Americans in the section below:

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How To Guarantee Your Survival Even If You Can’t Get Your Bug-Out Bag

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How To Guarantee Your Survival Even If Your Bug-Out Bag Is Destroyed

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The need for making sure you have the necessary equipment and supplies for survival can’t be overstated. While it is theoretically possible to survive off of what you simply find, the reality is that the less you start out with, the worse your chances are of survival. That’s why people store items in survival kits.

But what if you can’t get to your survival kit, bug-out bag, everyday carry bag or get-home bag? What then? While we like to think that we keep ourselves equipped and supplied at all times, the reality is that there are always times when we’re not. What do we do in those times? Or what do we do if our home is destroyed and we can’t get back in to pick up our bug-out bag?

A lot would depend on the disaster that was happening and how much warning you’d have. But there are some cases that would make it impossible. Maybe they’re not very likely, but they do exist.

Take a nuclear war, for example. Granted, we’re not living in the Cold War anymore and the chances of a nuclear confrontation have been reduced drastically. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Both Russia and the United States still have large stockpiles of nuclear weapons, with other countries having considerably less. Rogue countries would like nothing more than to detonate such a bomb in America.

But there are many other things that could make it impossible to get back home, such as an earthquake, a chemical spill, a major storm or certain acts of terrorism. In any of these instances, you might suddenly find yourself without your bug-out bag or the ability to go home and get it.

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That’s why you need at least one spare bag or kit, hidden in an alternate location. This set of gear might not be quite as good as your main bug-out bag, but it should still cover all of the bases, giving you enough to live off of. It should also have the necessary food and other supplies that you’ll need to stay alive. Ideally, it would be a mirror image or your bug-out bag, but the reality of cost will probably force you to go with some lesser expensive options.

For that matter, why stop at one? If an extra set of gear is a good idea, why not have two or three of them, secreted in different locations? Not only will that help ensure that you have access to them, but that you have access no matter where you are.

How To Guarantee Your Survival Even If Your Home Is Destroyed

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Your spare kits should also include at least one good sturdy set of outdoor clothing, a jacket and a good pair of walking shoes. Odds are that when you are away from home, you won’t be dressed for heading out into the wilderness, so you’d better make sure you have what you will need. Bugging out into the wild in a shirt and tie or a short dress just doesn’t work out all that good.

The other thing to consider hiding with your spare kits is weapons. If you have a concealed carry license and are carrying every day, then that might not be much of an issue; but if you don’t, then any weapon you stash with your backup kit would be the only one you’ll have.

Find a Good Place to Stash It

Stashing your backup kit too close to home totally negates its purpose. On the other hand, you don’t want to stash it so far from home that you can’t get to it within a day, even if you’re on foot. So, you need to pick the location or locations carefully, making sure that they are someplace you’ll be able to get to.

If you own a business that’s a ways away from your home, that might be an excellent place to make a stash. For that matter, you might want to do more than just stash a bug-out bag there, splitting up your stockpile and keeping part of it at your business. That gives you a secondary bug-in location, if you can’t use your home.

Another option is at someone else’s house if you have a like-minded friend who lives in an appropriate area to leave your stash. That could even be a reciprocal agreement, where you keep a kit at their house and they keep one at yours. Doing it that way will motivate them to say yes and probably to leave your kit alone, so that it’s ready when you need it.

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How To Guarantee Your Survival Even If Your Home Is Destroyed

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A third possibility is a storage rental. These are available all over the place and some of them are quite inexpensive, especially if you’re just renting a small one. Like your business, this would provide you with a place where you have room to store more than just a bug-out bag, for a small monthly fee. While most of these places say that they’re only open during the day, if you can get over the fence during an emergency, you can pick your stuff up at night, too.

Finally, you can always consider burying your spare kit in the middle of nowhere. There are a number of ways of waterproofing equipment that you want to bury underground, such as using PVC pipe or a five-gallon bucket. Burying it will make it hard for others to find so that it hopefully won’t be bothered. Just make sure that nobody sees what you are doing so that it won’t be stolen. (Recommended: How To Build A Waterproof Underground Cache On A Budget.)

There are two problems with burying a stash. The first one is making sure that you have good landmarks to find it once again. Remember that some landmarks may disappear, such as trees that die. So have more than one set of landmarks that you can use. Secondly, you’ll need something to dig it up with. That can be a problem if the soil has a lot of clay in it or is difficult to dig in for some other reason.

Don’t Stop There

Having a spare set of gear is probably the most important reason to set up a survival stash. But let me give you one more. That’s to stash extra food. A typical bug-out bag has only three days worth of food in it. That’s not enough, as far as I’m concerned. So you might want to create some stashes which are just food.

These stashes will be easier and cheaper to set up, because you don’t have the cost of all the equipment. You can easily stash five days worth of food in a five gallon bucket and bury it somewhere, giving you accessible food when disaster strikes.

Do you have secondary caches? What advice would you add? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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The Lifetime Stockpile: What You’ll Need To Survive Past The First Year

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The Lifetime Stockpile: What You’ll Need To Survive Past The First Year

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One of the biggest questions facing anyone who is trying to prepare for disasters is that of time. How long will the crisis last? How long will it take for society to get back to normal? This question drives everyone’s stockpiling efforts — most especially, the decision about how much to stockpile.

What do we do if the disaster and its aftermath outlast our stockpile? Wouldn’t that normally put us in the same boat as all those people who didn’t bother to stockpile anything? Once our supplies run out, we’ll be faced with the same problems that they have. It might even be worse, because they will already have used up any available resources.

That’s why more and more people are turning to homesteading. By homesteading, we’ll theoretically be self-sustaining – not needing any outside help.

The real question is, whether we can truly make ourselves self-sustaining. If we go back in U.S. history, we find that our ancestors who settled the west were at the most about 95 percent self-sufficient. They all had needs for which they had to go to town sometimes. Unless we plan for the same things that they needed their local general store for, we could fulfill that little bit of poetry that says for want of a horseshoe nail, the war was lost.

So, what are these things and what can we do about it? Let me answer the second part of that first. The obvious answer is to either create systems which don’t need to be renewed with purchased parts or to stockpile enough to last us the rest of our lives.

Your Garden

The first thing that most of us think of when we think of making ourselves self-sufficient is gardening. A good vegetable garden will go a long way toward providing us with something to eat. We’ve all seen stories about people who fed their families entirely off of what they grew in their backyards and we’re sure that we can do the same.

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Heirloom seeds are the basic building block of that gardening. But did you know that seeds have a shelf life? The longer you keep them, the lower the germination rate. The solution to that is to use the seeds and harvest seeds from what you grow. That will give you an ongoing supply of fresh seeds.

Of course, we need more than just seeds to grow a garden. We need good soil, some way of keeping the pests under control, and water. I like keeping my garden as natural as possible, using carnivorous insects like lady bugs and the praying mantis to keep destructive bugs under control. My favorite fertilizer is a fish emulsion and I compost. By doing these things, I eliminate the need to buy fertilizers and other chemicals.

The Lifetime Stockpile: What You’ll Need To Survive Past The First Year

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Raising animal protein is a little more complicated. We have to provide the animals with something to eat. That means either growing enough food for them or buying feed. Unless you have a lot of land to work with, it seems to me that the only livestock that is practical to raise is something that can be fed off the scraps of what you can grow in your garden, such as rabbits and chickens.

Canning Supplies

Then there’s the need to do something with all that great food you grow. As we all know, unless you live in a really warm climate, you’re not going to be growing much in the dead of winter. So, you’ll need to preserve the food. But are you prepared for several years of preserving food?

Fortunately, canning jars are reusable. But the lids for them are not, at least not usually. Some survivalists have done some experimenting and have succeeded in reusing their lids, but even if you succeed, how many times can you reuse them? That’s one of those items that you will need a mountain of, to last you through the years.

Here’s another item that few people think of – salt. Back in the pioneering days, there were still salt licks that animals used. Pioneers also would go to those salt licks and harvest salt for their use. I seriously doubt there are any left today, as most of our salt is mined underground. So what are you going to use for salt to cure or smoke meat and for your canning? Better stock up now, while you have a chance.

Woodcutting

That pile of firewood you have in the backyard is hopefully going to be enough to get you through the winter. But what are you going to do next year? Do you have the capacity to cut and haul enough wood to heat your home for another year? Can you do that without gasoline?

Cutting firewood with a chainsaw and hauling it with a truck is bad enough. What about when you have to cut it with an axe and a saw? Do you have the tools for that? Do you have something you can haul it with that doesn’t require a gasoline engine? Unfortunately, few of us have horses so we won’t have their strength to help us.

Getting the right tools, along with a means to haul the cut wood, needs to be somewhere on your sustainability list. Otherwise, you’re going to face some really cold winters.

First-aid and Medicine

Few of us have the capability to do much about making our own first-aid supplies. Granted, any cloth can be used as a bandage, but that’s about as far as we can go. Medicines are even worse. And there’s no real way of knowing what you’re going to need, just that you’re going to need something.

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I’m not sure it’s possible to stockpile enough medicine and first-aid supplies to last, but somehow we’ve got to try. At the same time, we should look for options which will allow us to get by without those supplies. Fortunately there are things in nature that will help our medical efforts.

Herbal medicine has existed far longer than modern medicine. In many ways, modern medicine is merely an offshoot of herbal. Many modern medicines are simply artificial synthesis of naturally occurring chemicals. Learning how to go back to nature on this, can give us the needed medicines when they aren’t available.

Sewing

The Lifetime Stockpile: What You’ll Need To Survive Past The First Year

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We’re so used to going to the store and buying clothes that few of us even think about making them anymore. Yet if we have growing children, we should be thinking about it. Granted, there will be clothing available for barter, at least for a while, but what about after that? Then what?

Making natural fibers into thread or yarn to make fabric and then turning that fabric into clothing is a long process, requiring special equipment and knowledge. But if the supply chain collapses and stays that way, that may be the only way of keeping ourselves and especially our children in clothes.

Spares for Critical Systems

The last item I want to mention is also the simplest on this list. That is to have spares for all your critical systems. What do I mean by critical systems? I mean anything and everything you need to have in order to survive, especially if it won’t be available in that time.

There are plenty of things we all have included in our survival strategy which are modern-day tools for survival. Take solar power, for example. That’s a great aid, allowing us to use at least some of our modern-day electronics. But what happens to your solar power system if it’s hit by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)?

Supposedly, the panels themselves will survive, although their efficiency will be reduced by about 10 percent. But that’s not the big issue. That power won’t do a bit of good if your charge controller and your voltage inverter are dead. You better have spares stashed away in a Faraday Cage if you are expecting to use solar power after an EMP.

What Else?

Obviously this list isn’t complete. I give you these ideas more to get you thinking than for any other reason. If you’re just starting out, get your basic stockpile of supplies in place first before starting on this. As you’re doing so, start thinking about long-term sustainability. How can you roll over from living off your stockpile to living in a self-sufficient way?

Take a look at each and every area of your survival plans. Do you have a sustainability plan for that item? If not, what can you do to make a change, making it possible to live many years past what your supplies will last?

What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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8 World War II Survival Lessons We Must Never Forget

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8 World War II Survival Lessons We Must Never Forget

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Our ancestors simply were better equipped for survival than the people of our generation. Just look at it this way: Could you imagine your neighbors heading out cross-country in a covered wagon to settle “out west” somewhere?

For most of us, the answer to that question would be a resounding “No,” probably with a few laughs thrown in. Yet there was a time in our country’s history where that was happening all over. People would pack up what they could and take out across country; sometimes with hardly any notice at all.

How is it that they could do that and we can’t? Basically, it’s because their lifestyle caused them to do many things on a regular basis, which we would call “survival skills” today. Their lives were very different, and those differences helped them face a crisis and come out on top.

When we talk about survival lessons that our ancestors learned from World War II, we really have two different groups of people to consider. There were the soldiers fighting overseas, but there were also the families left back home. Both groups had different lessons they had to learn, specific to their situations.

1. Learn to do without

To a large part, World War II was a war of industrial might. Many things were rationed during World War II, in order to ensure that there were enough raw materials to fuel the war machine.

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So, civilians learned to do without all sorts of things, like silk stockings and rubber tires. As a consumer society, we are not used to doing without anything, especially things that a generation ago would have been called luxuries. In a survival situation, many of those things will no longer be available.

2. Plant a garden

By the start of World War II, American society had moved away from being an agricultural society and into being an industrialized one. The Industrial Revolution had been going on a good long time, along with the migration from rural areas to urban ones. But as the war got going, the government encouraged people to plant victory gardens at their homes, so that more of the produce from the farms could be sent overseas; either for our troops or as aid to our allies.

Many people went beyond planting victory gardens and also built chicken coops, raising chickens either for eggs or to eat. These were mostly women, many of whom also worked a job during the day and took care of their families as well. Yet, they still found time to garden and raise chickens.

3. Go back to walking

Amongst the things that were the most tightly rationed was gasoline. Vehicles which were considered “non-essential” could only get three to five gallons per week; and those weren’t fuel-efficient cars either. So, if people wanted to go someplace, they either had to walk or use public transportation.

Walking is an important survival skill. Not only is it a great mode of transportation, but does a lot to increase our stamina. If you can’t walk all day, carrying a pack, how are you going to bug out? For that matter, how are you going to tend your garden or chop firewood? Most of us aren’t in good enough shape, physically speaking, to do what we have to do to survive.

4. Women can do physical labor, too

8 World War II Survival Lessons We Must Never Forget

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One of the unexpected outcomes of World War II was the Women’s Liberation Movement. Before the war, the general consensus of society was that the woman’s place was in the home. With so many men overseas fighting, there was a need for women to enter the workplace, especially working in the factories that were turning out war material. Rosy the Riveter carried a lot of the load of the war on her shoulders.

Once women left the home to enter the workplace, it affected how they thought of themselves. Yet, even today, women look at themselves and society looks at women as weak. Ha, tell that to the two women who just graduated from the Army’s elite Ranger School. Those two aren’t weak. Women can do most physical tasks, if they decide to. Oh, they might need to train their bodies to have the strength, but they ca.

5. It’s better to expend things, than people

The United States has a unique war strategy, which is largely based upon our nation’s wealth. We spend more on weapons than any other country in the world, producing some of the finest military weapons there are. A lot of that has to do with our Judeo-Christian roots, and the value we put on life.

In any survival situation, we must operate under the same concept, that it is better to expend things, than expend people. Things are always replaceable, no matter what they are. But once we lose a member of our team, they are gone forever. The whole idea of how we operate must be built around the concept of keeping every team member alive; whether we are talking about food or defense.

6. When fighting, make sure someone is defending you

The Army Air Corps were the first part of our military to attack NAZI Germany. They sent wave after wave of bombers from England, seeking military and industrial targets in Germany and the occupied countries. But those bomber planes didn’t go alone; they had fighter planes with them. The bombers attacked the enemy, while the fighters protected the bombers.

This is an expansion on the idea of having a “wingman.” The lead plane attacks the enemy, while the wingman covers his back. Actually, the idea is even older than that, going all the way back to fighting with swords. During that time, the armor bearer of an important captain or prince would stand back to back with his master, protecting his back.

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Never take on a fight, without having someone there to cover your back. The enemy will be looking for your weakness and that could be it. While you are fighting somebody who wants your food, who is sneaking around to outflank you or to get in the back door? Make sure you have that covered.

7. Recycle and repurpose everything

Recycling became a big thing, for the first time, in World War II. Many an American airplane was built out of cookie sheets and muffin tins. Today, we live in a disposable society, where we throw things away and replace them. That can’t be done in a survival situation. You either fix it, repurpose it or use it as raw material to build something else; but you don’t just throw it away.

Even something as disposable as plastic could be reused. Most plastics are thermosetting, which means that they are formed by heating them. So, broken plastic items can be ground down into plastic chips, melted and then molded into something useful.

Resources could become very limited, so things that we would normally call garbage could actually become quite valuable as raw materials. All we’ll have to do is figure out how to make something useful out of them.

8. Attitude is paramount

In combat, like in a survival situation, your attitude greatly affects your ability to survive. The United States Armed Forces recognized this and created the USO during World War II. The whole purpose of the USO was to raise the troops morale, so that they would be able to fight more effectively.

Every military manual, as well as every serious book on survival, talks about the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude. You must make sure that your survival plans include some means of keeping yourself “UP” emotionally. Otherwise, the you’ll lose the motivation to keep trying. That could be fatal.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

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15 Grocery Store Foods You Can Stockpile Virtually Forever

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15 Grocery Store Foods You Can Stockpile Virtually Forever

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Preserving and stockpiling food is a cornerstone of homesteaders and off-gridders. Not all foods, though, preserve well, no matter what you do to them. Some are just bound and determined to deteriorate with time. But there are enough foods that will last and last extremely well, if we take the time to select and pack them in the right manner.

Part of the problem is understanding what enemies are out there – the ones that want to destroy our foods. Once we know that, we can prevent them from having access to our food stocks and thereby can prolong the life of those stocks. The enemies I’m referring to include:

  • Critters – Rodents, insects and especially bacteria, all of whom want to eat our food before we can get to it. The best solution is a combination of killing any that might be in the food (especially for bacteria and insect eggs), while making sure that more critters can’t get in.
  • Heat – Heat, even minimal, will cause many foods to start breaking down. Keeping foods in a cool area helps preservation.
  • Oxygen – Some nutrients in our foods will oxidize when given the chance and enough time. Ensuring that the foods are packed without oxygen or with oxygen absorbers is the best protection against oxidation.
  • Light – Yes, light can damage foods as well, although mostly it is by discoloring it. Light also has an effect on changing the chemical composition of some vitamins. That cool storage place needs to be dark as well.

There is some good news in all of this. And that is that ancient people were successful in storing foods for very long periods of time. Many ancient tombs more than 1,000 years old have been opened to find useable grains and other foodstuffs.

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Foods That Naturally Keep Forever

There are some foods that just naturally keep pretty much forever. Those are always a good starting point if you want to make sure that your grandkids get to eat your survival stockpile.

beans1. Dried beans – A great staple and a source of protein, beans are a cornerstone food for survival. It is important to keep insects out of them, but with that one precaution, they are unlikely to be bothered by anything else.

2. Coffee & tea – While coffee and tea will both lose some of their flavor with time, they are still usable after years of storage. Coffee does best if left unground until use. Tea stores best for long-term if it is loose leaf tea and not bagged tea. The more airtight the container, the better it will preserve the flavor.

3. Dried corn – This is probably the most common preserved food of ancient people and the most common to find in their tombs. Dry corn is pretty much impervious to attacks by bacteria and insects will generally leave it alone. But rodents love it, so you have to have it in a thick enough container to keep them out.

4. Cornstarch – As long as it doesn’t get any moisture in it, cornstarch will last forever. Keep it in a cool, dry area.

5. Corn syrup – High in sugar, corn syrup will last for many years. Like pretty much all liquids, it needs to be kept in a well-sealed container to prevent evaporation. Believe it or not, there is organic corn syrup.

6. Honey – Honey stores indefinitely, as long as it’s stored in a sealed container. Keep it in a cool, dark place. If it crystallizes, simply heat it up to melt it again.

7. 100 percent pure maple syrup – Left in a sealed container, pure maple syrup holds up extremely well. If it should get mold on it, simply skim off the mold, boil the syrup and re-can it.

8. Powdered milk – Yes, that powdered milk that nobody likes to drink is one of the longest lasting foods around. While it may not be our favorite now, when we don’t have any other milk to drink we may find that we like it.

Rice9. White rice – White rice will last a good 30 years if stored in a container without any air in it. Pack it well with an oxygen absorber and you can be sure that you’ll be able to eat it later… much later.

10. Salt – Must be kept free of moisture. Salt is a natural preservative, so it makes sense that it will last well too.

11. Soy sauce – Due to its high salt content, it is virtually impossible for bacteria to grow in soy sauce. Just make sure that the container stays sealed so that it can’t evaporate.

12. Sugar – Like salt, sugar is another natural preservative. You will have to protect it from bugs though, who are attracted to it. But if the bugs don’t get to it, it lasts forever.

13. Pure vanilla extract – Since vanilla extract is alcohol based, it lasts forever. About the only difference you might notice is a slightly stronger flavor, caused by evaporation of the alcohol.

14. Vinegar – Vinegar is another natural preservative, due to its high acid content. It is often used in making pickled foods. As such, it keeps forever. If a film develops over the surface, don’t worry, that is merely the vinegar “mother,” which is the bacteria used to create more vinegar. You can filter it out or use it to make a fresh batch.

15. Unground wheat – Wheat flour doesn’t have a very long shelf life and can attract insects. But unground wheat will easily keep for 20 years or longer. Wheat has even been found in ancient tombs, left there for the dead king’s spirit to eat.

Packaging Makes the Difference

While these foods naturally last for an incredibly long time, packaging is an issue. You probably noticed that I mentioned special packaging and storage requirements for just about everything on the list. Ultimately, the packaging you use – more than anything else – will determine how long your foods will last.

Canned foods are among the very few foods that you can buy that are truly packaged for long-term storage. While they all carry an expiration date on them, those dates are based upon worst-case situations. Nobody really knows how long properly canned and stored foods will last. As long as the can’s integrity is intact, you can assume that the food within is still safe to eat.

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This goes for foods that we can ourselves, too. It doesn’t matter if the food has been professionally canned in a cannery or canned in mason jars in your kitchen, the results are the same.

There is one exception I have found to this. Foodstuffs that have been canned in plastic jars, rather than glass ones, don’t seem to keep as well. Apparently, some small amount of oxygen can make it through either the plastic of the jar itself or the lid. In either case, that causes the food inside to start oxidizing.

There is some evidence that certain canned foods will lose nutritional value over time. This is specifically referring to the vitamins in the food. However, that doesn’t mean that these foods no longer have value. Canned vegetables and fruits are high in carbohydrates, the most important survival micronutrient. Losing some quantity of micronutrients doesn’t ruin their usability.

Considering that dried grains have lasted several centuries when packed away in clay vessels, I think we can safely say that we too can store those grains for about as long as we want. The only problem is keeping them protected from insects and rodents. If we do that, then we can count on them literally forever.

What foods would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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Life After An EMP: What It Will Take To Survive

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Life After An EMP: Why Most Americans Wouldn’t Survive

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Of all the possible disasters we face today, an EMP or major solar storm are two of the scariest. Few truly understand how devastating they would be to our way of life. We depend on electricity and electrical devices so much that life would be set back about 100 years, technologically speaking.

An EMP occurs when a nuclear bomb is detonated high above the atmosphere. Since there is nothing to absorb the explosion and convert the energy into blast energy, it all goes out in its original form, as electromagnetic energy. Hitting the atmosphere, that energy is actually amplified, speeding towards the surface of the earth.

Upon arrival at the earth’s surface, all of that electromagnetic energy is absorbed into electrical devices, the power grid and any metal it encounters. That which hits solid-state electronic devices overloads the circuitry, destroying it. Metal can protect those devices, having the effect of a Faraday Cage, but if the electronics are exposed, the EMP will hit them with a surge of power that is too much for them to handle.

The electricity that enters the power grid will flow along the wires, reaching transformers and substations. Many of them will also become fried by the high energy burst traveling through them. But some of the energy will get through. It will then overwhelm surge protectors, destroying any electronics that managed to survive the initial surge because of being protected by metal cases.

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A major solar storm would do similar damage to America (and the world), and actually did so in 1859 during what is known as the Carrington Event. It destroyed telegraph machines, the most advanced technology of the time, although Earth has dodged similar solar storms since then. A Carrington-like solar blast nearly hit Earth in 2012. (Recommended: How A Simple Solar Flare Could Doom America – And The World.)

Within seconds of either an EMP or major solar storm, all solid-state electronics and computer-controlled devices will cease working forever. However, that’s not to say that all electronic devices will die. Surprisingly, simple electronics will survive, although there won’t be any power to make them operate. (Recommended: 5 Surprising Items That Will  Survive An ‘End-Of-The-World’ EMP Attack.)

Pretty much all of the infrastructure we depend upon will be destroyed. Airplanes will fall out of the sky, mid-flight. Gas pumps will stop working. The entire electrical power grid will go down. Most of us will be without water, as the pumps and water treatment plants won’t have the electrical energy they need to purify the water and get water to us. All commerce will be on a cash only basis at first, eventually morphing over to a barter system.

Will Anything Be Working?

One of the surprising things that will survive an EMP is solar panels. While the EMP will reduce their efficiency somewhat, it won’t really be enough to make much of a difference. Electric motors will function, too, so wind generators will still work and appliances may still be usable. Of course, with the grid down, the only way they would be usable is if you have your solar panels or a wind turbine to produce power.

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The people who will be the best off after the EMP will be those who live in rural communities, especially rural farming communities. They will have food available to them, even though transporting that food to the cities will be almost impossible.

We will see people dying off from the very beginning. There are a large number of people who depend upon medicines to keep them alive. Without the ability to distribute the medicines, many of those people will pass away once their personal supply of medicine runs out.

The big killers in the aftermath of an EMP will be starvation and hypothermia. This will be the second wave of deaths from the EMP and it will be so enormous that it will make the first wave pale by comparison. Without the ability to transport supplies, cities will become death camps. Those who can escape the city will actually have a better chance than those who stay behind.

Of course, people who have a food stockpile will have a much better chance of survival.

What Can You Do?

Preparing for an EMP is just like preparing for any other disaster, with one major difference. That is … there will be no turning back. As things stand right now, an EMP or major solar storm will be so devastating that it will take decades to recover from, not just years.

You can’t count on a year’s worth of food getting you through the aftermath of an EMP. About the only way you can be sure of surviving is to turn your home into a homestead. You’ll need to produce your own food in order to survive. That means an extensive vegetable garden, as well as raising chickens and other animals for eggs and meat. You will need to produce enough to feed your family for the whole year, not just enough to make it through a few months.

The ability to produce your own electricity could help as well, but only if you have electronic devices hidden away in a Faraday Cage. Make sure that you have a spare charger for your battery backup and a spare voltage inverter as well. Otherwise, those solar panels won’t do a bit of good.

What do you think the aftermath of an EMP will look like? Share your opinion in the section below:

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7 Items Your Great-Grandparents Stockpiled That You Should, Too

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7 Items Your Great-Grandparents Stockpiled That You Should, Too

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It’s easy to think that the modern preparedness movement is a unique phenomenon. Most of us grew up during a time when the economy was growing, the government seemed to be more responsive to the will of the people, and everyone was busy chasing the American Dream.

But if we go back farther, to the time of our grandparents or great-grandparents, we find that what some call “prepping,” they called life. They didn’t have a movement, they had a lifestyle. And that lifestyle assumed that bad things would happen, so they’d better be ready.

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So it is useful to understand what others did before. After all, they had generations of experience backing up their actions, not just the voices of a few survival instructors and writers. Many of the things they did came out of years of experience, as generation after generation faced calamity and learned from it. So, when we learn from our grandparents, we learn from that accumulated knowledge.

1. Heating fuel

Anyone who heated with wood learned to start stockpiling it early. Felling, bucking, hauling and splitting trees for firewood is a long, difficult process. They couldn’t get by with having just a little on hand, either; they needed a lot. When wood is your only way to heat, you want to make sure you’ve got enough.

Working on the firewood pile was something that was done whenever there was time. Once the spring crops were in and there was a break in the farm’s schedule, they’d start cutting. That would continue, as their work schedule allowed. The earlier the pile could be built, the better, as the wood needed time to season and dry before it could be used.

This meant that they always had an ample supply of firewood available for their cooking and heating. It was rare to find a home without a stack of firewood behind it, and that stack was often piled up to the eaves of the home.

2. Candles

candlesWhen your only light is coming from the fireplace or from candles, you don’t want to run out. Past generations largely relied on sunlight and went to bed earlier. And people slept more in the cold winter, simply because of the shorter days and lack of light. But there was still the need for additional light, and candles were important.

Candle making, like cutting wood for the fire, was something that was done whenever there was an opportunity. You never knew how many candles you needed. So in a sense, there were never enough. When you had the necessary materials, you’d look for an available opportunity to set aside time to build up your candle stock.

Some people would actually set aside a candle-making area, keeping their wax melted so that they could dip them every couple of hours, throughout the day. Dipped candles take time and by interspersing that task with others, they would get more out of their day.

3. Tools

This may not seem much like a stockpiling item, but it is. In our modern society, we are used to having other people do things for us. We call a plumber when we need one and hire a carpenter when the screen door is broken. And few of us know how to change the oil in our cars, instead asking a mechanic to do it for us.

In the generation of our grandparents, people did more for themselves. While there were plumbers and mechanics around, they were hired by the wealthy, not by the average person. They would try and do it themselves, unless the job was more than they could handle. Hence the joke among plumbers about charging a higher hourly rate for jobs where the person tried it themselves first.

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It was normal for a boy to grow up learning a little bit of plumbing, a little bit of carpentry and a little bit of auto mechanics from his dad. By the time he reached adulthood, the average American boy had his own tool kit built, ready to tackle those jobs on his own. Then, when disaster struck, he was ready.

4. Scraps of stuff

I clearly remember my grandma and other women of her generation being hoarders. They would save all sorts of things, from scraps of fabric to candle stubs. It wasn’t so much that they wanted to have those things, but that they could still see value in them. That old shirt could be cut up and the good parts used in making a quilt, while the rest could be used for a rag. The candle stubs could be melted down and used to help make new candles.

Throwing containers away was almost unheard of. Few people bothered buying plastic storage containers for their kitchens. Instead, they would use a container that something else came in. Everything from barrels to burlap sacks had a use, making the containers almost as valuable as what had come inside them.

This also greatly eliminated the pollution caused by throwing things away. When old things can be turned into useful things, there’s no reason to throw them away.

5. Money

spend money without being trackedMaybe you’re not old enough to say this, but my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They were children then, but nevertheless it impacted them greatly. They knew what it was to be without and they knew how hard it was to live without money. So they were careful with its use, never wasting.

The idea of spending seven dollars for a cup of coffee would probably give most people of that era a heart attack. Even the dollar and a half or two dollars they charge in a restaurant for a normal cup of coffee is a lot. They’d order water and enjoy that, having their coffee when they got back home.

While this attitude of frugalness may seem a bit strange to people today, there was good reason for it. There also was great benefit from it. Those people always had money. Maybe they didn’t make a lot and maybe they didn’t live like kings, but they always had money. When a need came up, they had the money in the bank to pay for it. I’ve seen those people buy cars and pay cash for them.

6. Food

The idea of stockpiling food is probably older than civilization itself. As long as mankind has been able, we have stockpiled food to get through the winter. In many parts of the world, one’s very survival depended upon having enough food stockpiled to make it through the cold and snow of the winter months, until game animals were out in abundance again.

All of our food preservation techniques were developed as part of this annual challenge. Food that couldn’t be kept was just about as bad as food that had never been found. While preserved foods may not be as tasty as fresh foods, they will keep people alive.

As far back as ancient Egypt we find evidence of people preserving food. The tombs of the pharaohs always contained food for them to consume in the afterlife. The Bible records this, showing how Joseph was promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt for interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream and his wisdom in knowing what to do to prepare for the oncoming disaster.

At a minimum, canning food was common in our grandparents’ day. They would can produce from their garden or produce that they had purchased at the store. Many also would smoke meats as well as making their own sausage. These were all means of preparing foods, so that they would have enough to make it through the winter or whatever else came.

7. Goodwill

Finally, the most important thing I remember my grandparent’s generation stockpiling was goodwill. What? That doesn’t sound like something to stockpile to you? Well it is. You see, when you stockpile goodwill, it’s like money in the bank. Then, when you befall a calamity, people run to help.

As a society, we have become more self-centered in general. We don’t bother ourselves with other people’s problems. We leave them to take care of themselves. Oh, occasionally we hear a story of a community gathering around someone who is hurting, but those stories are too rare. In my grandparent’s generation, that was common. When one person was hurting, everyone who could lent a hand.

Lending a hand like that is how you stockpile goodwill. Then, when you have a need, others remember what you’ve done for them. They are more likely to help you out, simply because you have done so for them.

What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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