Why Personal Survival Stories Are So Important

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personal survival storiesHere on the Survival Mom blog, some of the most popular articles have been real-life stories of survival. When I wrote my book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family For Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, I included several stories from moms who had survived both natural and personal disasters. When the reviews started coming in, so many people mentioned how they loved these stories!

Maybe my own interest and fascination with personal stories of survival began back when I was a kid, reading through my Nana’s issues of Reader’s Digest. In most every issue there was a harrowing, exciting tale with titles like, “Alone. Injured. Almost Dead.”, “Free Fall Above Death Canyon”, and “How a Man Survived 438 Days Stuck at Sea.”

Who could resist stories like these?

Listening to survivors tell about life in a war-torn country, eye-witness accounts of an economic collapse, and surviving weeks without electricity is both instructional and inspirational. After all, if this ordinary human being can survive a worst case scenario, then so can I!

It’s important to know the specific skillsets that made survival possible and the mindset that made the difference between one person surviving while others perished. Survival stories also serve as warnings — What should the survivors have done? What gear would have made survival easier? What mistakes did they make? Is the survival education you’ve received truly up to the type of challenge these people experienced?

What if you could chat with survivors in real time?

When Bosnian war survivor, Selco, speaks. People listen. I’ve had the chance to listen to him speak on 2 occasions, and believe me, when you hear what life was like in Bosnia during the war that spanned 3 years, you will forever be grateful for such common conveniences as running water and toilets. For more than a year, Selco’s community was in constant danger, food supply lines were cut, and the average citizen, people like you and me, did whatever it took to survive just one more day.

I asked Selco about skills people needed during war time, and it seems that living by your wits and trusting very few people were key. Sure, knowing how to do a bit of foraging was helpful as was knowing the fine art of bartering to survive, but overall, it was a mental game — a hyper-awareness that the person walking toward you could have you in their crosshairs, just because you are wearing a coat warmer than theirs.

Another survivor I’ve come to know is Fernando Aguirre, known to many preppers as FerFAL. Now living in Europe, Fernando lived through some of the worst days of Argentina’s economic collpases. I’ll never forget his telling of families digging through dumpsters for their meals and his learning to never walk out the door without being armed.

Fernando and I have chatted about the similarities between America’s economy and that of Argentina, prior to and during its collapse, and I’ve been able to ask for his opinions about a few of my prepper plans.

Chatting with survivors and experts like Selco and Fernando is something you can do, too, during the next session of Preppers University’s live courses. It’s a whole different experience than just reading words in a book or on a computer screen. When Selco talks movingly of his family and neighbors and their struggle for survival, you almost feel as though you are there, and you get a deeper understanding of survival in a world of chaos, violence, and scarcity.

There’s no shortage of prepper and survival books and websites, but small group, live classes with true experts and real life survivors are another thing altogether. No doubt during your own research into food storage, survival sanitation, herbal medicine, bugging out, and so on, you’ve had questions but no chance to personally ask the author or expert.

Well, beginning on Sunday, May 14, you CAN ask all the questions you want! Check out the schedule of speakers and topics here, and you’ll notice the 2 courses are expansive. They’re also unique in the prepper community. Where else can you sit down in the comfort of your own home and join a small group of like minded people AND prepping experts?

Time is running short for registration, and I know you’ll want at least a couple of days to review the orientation materials and take the self-assessment that will let you know where your prepping most needs help.

Use coupon code TAKETEN to save $10 off the registration fee of $139. I am personally in most of the classes and even teach 3 or 4. Here are a couple of links where you can get more information:

Compare the curriculum for both courses

Review the calendar of webinars (Price includes 24 webinars; everything is recorded and you have lifetime access)

Register here (includes a 3-payment option)

When you hear these gentlemen speak, I know you’ll be inspired but also challenged — how would YOU cope under those circumstances? What can you do right NOW to prepare for something like that? I hope you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity to expand your prepper knowledge in a way that no book or blog can provide.

personal survival stories

10 Prepper Actions You Must Do After A Big Move

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Our family was not planning on moving so far away from California. The West Coast had been our home for almost 3 decades. It did not take long before we found ourselves in the deep south of Georgia. Good bye salty air, hello bugs!

As we were adjusting to the new culture, unpacking and getting settled in our home, my thinking was still in California mode. Pictures and shelves were not being hung over beds, fragile items were placed in enclosed cabinets and my thoughts keep going back to earthquakes. In California I had things strategically placed and tacked down. Mentally, I was still thinking of “the big one”. I obviously had to think about prepping after a big move. Now that we are in Georgia, we have some great art work hanging in places we never would have before. I needed to learn about the types of disasters that occur in my new area and how to best prepare for them.

10 Easy Steps To Help You Prepare

  • Each city has its own set of hazards. Gather those that you may live with and make a list of the disaster risks that you are aware of. First list the ones that are most probable. Think of the places that you will be going to on a regular basis. These would include places of employment, worship, schools, and shopping centers. Spend the next month observing your new area. As you drive around, notice any tunnels, rivers, bridges, power lines, railroads, trucking routes, chemical plants or refineries. Look for alternate routes to work and ways out of town. It does take a while, but learn your way around your new city without needing GPS. Have a paper map of your area in each car and at home.

  TIP: You can read about 5 steps to making a personalized threat analysis here.

  • Locate where the closest CERT class is in your area. You can find classes on the FEMA’s website. If you have already taken CERT classes, but it was quite a while ago, a refresher would not hurt. You can learn, in the classes, what the major risks are in your area, how to prepare yourself and how your community is prepared to handle emergencies. CERT classes are the perfect opportunity to ask questions and be with people, like yourself, that want to learn more about preparing. It is a great place to connect with others and you may find yourself happy to be a volunteer for your new town.
  • Your local city and county web sites may have an emergency preparedness section. Some cities allow their residents see the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The EOP lists any risk assessment, available resources, continuity of government, and mutual agreements with other agencies. You will learn how your city responds to emergency and disaster situations related to national security, technological incidents, and natural disasters. The local city and county web sites also have information about local utilities, phone numbers, evacuation places, and emergency instructions.
  • Start connecting with neighbors, people at your church and coworkers. Those that have lived in your area for a while can be a wealth of information. They have an in depth knowledge of the town and its history. These are the people you may be depending on if something happens in the near future. They may also know places to shop to get any preparedness items you may need.
  • Local prepper groups are another way to get information about your city’s hazards. Preppergroups.com, PrepperLink.com and Meetup.com are sites you can go to in your search for a group to belong to. Some of these groups vary in their purpose. If there is not a group nearby, there are many sites that help you form a prepper group in your town. Chances are, there are others who are prepared or want to be and would love to join other like minded people.
  • One of my favorite places to go is Usa.com. Just enter your zip code and you have a ton of information about your new town. On the left side you can click on “Natural Disasters and Extremes”. There is a 60 year history of the disasters in your area and how often they occur.
  • As important as it is to know the potential dangers in your area, there are the hazards that can happen anywhere you move to. Check your new home for any fire hazards, have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed and/or checked. Inspect the area around your home. Trim any trees in areas where they could cause problems or call to have the utility company trim them. Check your home for good security, maybe an alarm system or additional locks. Learn what the laws are concerning firearms in your state. Have adequate home, life, and auto insurance to help you get through a disaster.

TIP: Keep your family safe by creating a fire escape plan.

  • Check social media! The Red Cross and other government agencies have a presence on social media. There are more people than you realize who are reaching out to others through Facebook and other sites. I have chosen to receive updates from our local county emergency management office and the US National Weather Service on my Facebook. My phone alerts me about any upcoming storms headed my way.
  • Evaluate your primary risks and see if there is a secondary risk that could affect your family. You may not experience the earthquake, but you may be in the line of the tsunami. The fire did not get to your home, but the coming rains could cause a mud slide in your neighborhood. Think about the disasters that could happen and look for the secondary risk. If you are a business owner, there are also first and secondary risks that may abruptly slow or stop your livelihood. Gauge what options you have to minimize the effects a disaster could have to your employment.
  • Civil disturbances are more than the rioting in big cities that we see on the evening news. It also includes acts of war and terrorist attacks. While some civil disturbances are out of our control and unpredictable, being prepared is still necessary. No one saw the attacks in San Bernardino or Orlando coming. Again, look at what is probable for your area and do your best to have a plan. You can educate yourself about civil unrest and how to stay save with this Survival Mom article.

Moving is stressful, don’t make prepping after a big move add to your stress. Unpack, find the lamps and register the cars first. Work on this project in baby steps if needed. Do your best to not become overwhelmed. Look around and make decisions based on what is truly probable. Remember that you are prepping for you and your family. Though there may be some similarities with others in your area, you have to tailor prepping to your needs.



Coping With Life-Threatening Allergies in a SHTF World

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Coping With Life Threatening Allergies in a Post SHTF World via The Survival Mom

We have lived in our home for nearly a decade and I love it. I truly love my yard, but the feeling is not mutual. My yard is trying to kill me. After a lifetime of thinking of myself as allergy free, I have been proven wrong. Oak trees, along with other things, cause me to have an extreme allergic reaction. Care to guess where I live? Yes, in the middle of a 150 acres of forest.

I had no idea that this could be a life-ending allergy for me. Huge portions of this country have primarily hickory and oak forests.  I would need to drive at least a twelve hours to be somewhere that doesn’t have oak trees. If you or someone in your family struggles with seasonal allergies, please go to an allergist to find out what they are. In a truly catastrophic event, it is critical that you know the type of environment you can live in.

My Story

I have had chronic bronchitis and other coughing-related problems since Junior High. At one point, a doctor prescribed an inhaler, and another mentioned I might have asthma. When I lived on the West Coast, my coughing problems subsided and I thought I had outgrown my allergies.

After I moved back East, the coughing problems returned. After a few years, seasonal allergy flare ups became a problem, so I started taking over the counter antihistamines. Things got worse and I was now using a nasal spray and prescription medication. I remembered my inhaler and tried it. It helped, a lot.

When I developed an allergy to onions, I realized that I needed to see an allergist. When I told her I had used more than 3/4 of a rescue inhaler in three weeks time, she was shocked. Clearly, it was the wrong treatment and I should have been in sooner.


As per normal procedure, I had stop taking antihistamines for a week before the testing, to ensure they were all out of my system. Thankfully I could still use an inhaler. The allergist tested nearly 30 different things on me using prick and intra-dermal methods. I came back as allergic to all of them. I reacted as a 4++, with 4 being the highest, on oak trees. My body was also very reactive to many other common substances such as ragweed and dust mites.

I had no idea how severe my allergies were. There were times I had difficulty breathing and that should have caused me to seek immediate treatment. But it crept up so slowly over a long period of time, I did not think about it. So please get check out by a allergist if you have symptoms that you can’t control. It may be worse than you realize, even potentially life-threatening – like mine.

Medication and Other Steps

There are many steps to help reduce your allergies. If you know you have a pet allergy, accept it and do not get another pet that will trigger your allergies. When you see an allergy and asthma specialist, they will give you a specific plan with remediation steps to take.

One simple step is to use a face mask. I strongly prefer the machine washable, reusable “Breathe Healthy” face masks because I can wear them for hours without the discomfort that cheap disposable masks cause.  There are a variety of fun patterns to choose from. Cleaning the inside of you home can stir up dust, pet dander, and other allergens. Cleaning outside can stir up pollen. Wearing a face mask and possibly even goggles reduces how much of the allergen enters your system.

Neti pots can also be a great help, but be careful with the water you use. Buying distilled water is a great choice, although boiling and then cooling water before using it is also popular.

With the severity of my allergies, I will be getting immunotherapy shots. Immunotherapy is a weekly commitment for about five years. It isn’t something that everyone can do, even if they are a candidate for it. I know that I cannot avoid oak trees and I am going to keep my pets. For me, the sacrifice and time of immunotherapy is worth it.


The week leading up to my allergy test, I was wearing a face mask any time I went outside and most of the time I was inside. There were moments when it was difficult for me to breathe, and it wasn’t even peak pollen season.

My doctor prescribed Singulair, antihistamines, a nasal spray, and an asthma inhaler for daily use. I also rely on a rescue inhaler in case of an allergy induced asthma attack. Many allergy medications are available over the counter. It is important to know what medicine is best for you and to keep a good supply on hand.

If a severe allergy sufferer is without their medications for more than a day or two, their condition could degenerate from healthy to life-threatening before help arrives. For example, antihistamines only stay in your system for 2-7 days. Consider keeping extra medication at work, in the car or other places where you might need it.

Local Honey

Local honey can help with allergies for weeds, grasses, and anything else bees pollinate. But bees aren’t big pollinators of trees, so it can’t be a solution for everyone. It didn’t even occur to me that the reason the honey was improving, but not eliminating, my allergy problems was that I had multiple allergies to some things that bees don’t pollinate.

Local honey operates on the same principal as allergy shots. When ingested, your body is exposed to small amounts of an allergen to help it develop a tolerance. Honey has the potential to reduce the user’s overall “allergen load.”  An allergen load is the total amount of allergens your body is dealing with at any point in time.

Reducing Exposure

Once you know what you are allergic to, it is important to take steps to reduce your allergen load. You may be able to reduce your total exposure below the allergic threshold, which is where symptoms start. Since it is the total exposure to all allergens that leads to being symptomatic, it makes sense to reduce anything possible.

If you have a cup, and you pour some milk in it, some soda, some coffee, and a little bit of tea, it will eventually overflow. It doesn’t matter that there are lots of different types of drinks in it. The cup will overflow the same  if you held it under the sink and filled it with just water. The same is true of allergens. If sufferers can remove or reduce even one or two triggers, it can make a difference.

Certain foods, such as onions, garlic, corn, and wheat, are common and seemingly impossible to avoid entirely. Others, such as passion fruit and quinoa, are fairly simple to avoid. The same is true of non-food allergens. Mites are almost impossible to avoid entirely and oak trees are incredibly common wherever there are deciduous forests.  While most of us won’t part with a family pet easily, horses and orchids are pretty simple for most of us to avoid.

Bugging In versus Bugging Out

As a prepper, keep at least one extra month or two supply of your allergy medications, including local honey if you use it. Asthma inhalers are prescription only, making it hard to have extras on hand. Keep a supply of over the counter medicine, including simple anti-histamines, even if they aren’t part of your daily regimen. Remember that having your gear and supplies to keep allergens off you is also a must. A scrub cap (they make scrub caps specifically for long hair), no rinse shampoo, and the  “Breathe Healthy” face masks can help keep pollen away from your eyes and nose. Pollen is designed to stick to things, so it will be carried in on the surface of anything that goes outside. Being able to clean your clothes without electricity will let you have pollen-free clothing, when you or anyone in the family has to venture out into nature. Pollen will also attach to your pets (waterless pet shampoo is a good idea), so be prepared to clean a lot during pollen season and in an emergency.

I know my allergies has forced us to change some of our preparedness plans. I am a big proponent of bugging in versus bugging out. In the event of a disaster, my family will have only  a month or two of bugging in at our home. We will need to move away from any oak trees before I run out of medications. I will also need to be careful around fires because the smoke triggers my asthma.

As difficult as it is to have allergies, knowing what they are, how to treat them and what to do in an emergency, has given me more control over my health and preparedness plans.

Coping With Life Threatening Allergies in a Post SHTF World via The Survival Mom

How Training For a 5K Race Taught Me To Be a Better Prepper

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When I sat down last December to write down my goals for the year, I knew one of them had to be getting in better shape. Many preppers know they need to be in good shape to survive hard times. I decided 2016 would be the year I would try to become a runner. There is an annual 5K/10K/half/full marathon race near us every fall, so I registered for the 5K in January and started on the path to better health. I also learned several lessons along the way that taught me how to be a better prepper.

Part of my motivation is the extra baby weight I carry from having children. I’ve spent many years just focusing on the number on the scale and have realized that it wasn’t a great motivator. My weight would fluctuate, and I would feel discouraged rather quickly. Also, I wasn’t getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis and that made it hard to work out consistently.

So, my goal changed from losing weight to increasing activity. Running is an activity that should be done consistently and constantly. It requires a commitment of a few days of every week to see improvement. I started focusing on my health and knew that the weight would eventually come off.

The first thing I had to do after registering for the 5K was to decide how I wanted to train. There are many programs out there that work for a lot of people (Pinterest is full of them). Couch to 5K is a very popular training plan. However, I didn’t think that would work well for me. I wanted to train to become a runner, not just run one race. I decided to just start running and add to my time bit by bit. I planned for 30 minutes on the treadmill and I started with jogging for 3 minutes and walking the rest of the time. Then, when that got easier, I tried jogging for 5 minutes, but not less than 3. Then for 7 minutes. At about that point, I realized I was jogging for half a mile. That was then my baseline and I added distance and increased speed.

I was careful to only increase my time, distance, or speed in small increments. I would stay at the same rate for at least a week before moving on to the next increment. There were times due to lack of sleep or sickness that I stayed at the same rate for 3-4 weeks, but I never went lower than my most recently established baseline. I did this to not get discouraged and also to avoid injury. I wanted to do my best to insure I would reach my goal.

And I did! In September, after training for eight solid months, I ran a full 5K. There was a hill I wasn’t expecting, but I ran up the whole thing. I did have to walk for 30 seconds a few times, but I think the hill cancelled out those walking times. I felt so good finishing the race.

Throughout my training, I realized there wre several lessons I learned along the way that also apply to being a good prepper.

Learn what works for you

I chose to train in a different way than most people do for 5Ks, but that’s because I realized I had different goals than most people do who want to run a 5K. I also knew I couldn’t focus on the number on the scale anymore or I would lose motivation very quickly.

Every situation preppers face and prepare for is different and unique. One family’s plan for a hurricane may be different from another family’s but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Each person and family has to decide what is best for them after evaluating the type of threat using a threat analysis like this one, the resources on hand, and what the family can handle financially and otherwise.

Equipment matters

When I first started running, I only had loose workout pants, old tennis shoes, and sports bras meant for walking. I quickly realized that I needed the right equipment if I wanted to succeed. Blisters and backaches were not going to help me achieve my goal. I spent the most money on a good pair of shoes at a store that looks at your feet and gait – it was worth every penny! I found good deals on workout clothes and supportive sports bras. Some runners swear that something like a FitBit that tracks their calories and steps is invaluable, while others use a simple pedometer. The right clothing made the running more enjoyable, which encouraged me to continue.

With prepping it’s key to prepare for situations with the right equipment, too. If the spare pair of shoes under your bed are the old pair that gave you blisters, then you’re going to get blisters if you have to use them in an emergency. It can be an investment to have the proper equipment, but it will make surviving easier.

Friends make it easier

I had a support group through Facebook that helped encourage me as I was training. We offered each other encouragement, tips, and motivation. I tried running a practice 5K by myself early in the summer, and I found myself running too fast and then stopping to walk too much. When I ran the 5K in September, a friend ran with me and kept me at the right pace and encouraged me to keep running when I wanted to stop. A group like Skinny Survival Moms can encourage you, too.

Having friends to help you prepare can be encouraging, too. I have two friends that I talk with often and we share tips and things we’re noticing in the world to help us all be better prepared. It’s nice to not feel alone when you’re facing a big task.

Baby steps accomplish goals

As I explained, I took my time training for the 5K. I knew I wouldn’t be going from walking 30 minutes three times a week to running a 12-minute mile in a few weeks. I made small goals that I could attain and then set another goal. Having small accomplishments along the way made me feel good and kept me motivated.

The same can be true of prepping. You probably won’t have a ton of skills and three months of food storage in a matter of weeks. It takes time, but you can set small goals of learning a skill or getting a single week’s worth of food and then feel good about meeting that goal. Then you set the next goal and keep going. After time, you’ll look back and see that you’ve accomplished a lot. Running is something that must be constantly done to maintain or improve and prepping is the same way. There is always something to do!

TIP: Use this list of prepper baby steps!

In the end, determination makes a difference

Being a successful runner is more than just a physical endeavor. It is also a mental and even spiritual game. I did a lot of talking to myself, doing mind tricks to run farther, and I did a lot of praying. I really, really wanted to accomplish this goal and that sense of determination kept me going on the days I felt like skipping the workout.

If there is a skill you truly want to learn, you will find the determination to make sure it happens. If you want to become a HAM radio operator, your desire will ensure you find the time to study and pass the test for your license. Saving money to buy extra food and equipment can also require the sense of determination. The stronger the desire, the more determination you’ll have.

TIP: Many Survival Moms use the 52 Week Savings Challenge to meet savings goals. You can read all about it here.

You don’t have to train for a 5K in order to learn how to be a better prepper, but in my case, I realized how important it is to customize my prepping, get encouragement from others, invest in the right equipment, and, above all, never quit.

how to be a prepper

38 Over The Counter Medications & Supplements You Should Have On Hand

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Do you have these essential over the counter medications and supplements on hand at all times? If not, you should.

The post 38 Over The Counter Medications & Supplements You Should Have On Hand appeared first on Vigil Prudence.

Cold Weather Survival: Survive in a Stranded Car

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survive stranded carI’ve experienced that gut-jolting feeling more than once, and you have too. You turn the key to your car expecting to hear the roar of the engine…and…nothing. Or, you’re cruising along the highway when you notice that the gas pedal isn’t quite working right, and it dawns on you, you’ve run out of gas. Or, a nail in the tire leaves you stranded miles from home.

Even on a pleasant, balmy day, these scenarios are frustrating but on a cold day with freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions, they can become deadly.

Dress for the occasion

Any time you’ll be traveling in a vehicle through winter weather, you should first dress for that type of weather. You can always change when you get to your destination or remove a layer or two, but if you are well and truly stuck in snow and ice conditions, that business suit, party dress, fancy shoes will be the death of you. Atlanta drivers were reminded of this fundamental truth a few years ago when snowstorms hit their city and stranded thousands of commuters, many in warm-weather business attire.

Your main challenges will be moisture from precipitation and the cold, so plan for both.

If you can’t dress for the weather, then have these items in a waterproof pack or maybe one of those storage bags that allows you to squeeze all the air out so the bag takes up less room — like these.

  • one pair of wool socks for each person in the family
  • sturdy walking shoes or boots, waterproof if possible. If you have hiking boots but rarely wear them, why not keep them in the trunk of your car or underneath the back seat?
  • a tube of Shoe Goo to seal the exterior of shoes against water (You should have a tube of this in your emergency kit, too.)
  • hand warmers
  • warm, waterproof gloves
  • rugged work gloves (In case you need to change a tire, clear a road, or do some other manual labor in freezing temperatures.)
  • foot warmers
  • knitted wool caps (These are my favorite for keeping my head warm, key to keeping the entire body warm.)
  • rain ponchos with hoods (large “contractors” trash bags are an okay substitute)
  • wool long johns

If you are packing these things for multiple members of the family, make the entire pile easier to organize by separating out each person’s set of clothes/gear and keeping them in separate bags. This way there’s no need to dig through a huge bag of clothes to find one pair of socks.

Keep your feet, hands, and head warm and dry at the very least. You can find more good cold-weather clothing tips here and in my trip report from Iceland.

Stuck in the car, with nowhere to go

If the weather is so bad that you can’t even get out of the car, then you’ll still be needing those warm clothes. The temperature inside your car will quickly drop to just a few degrees warmer than outside. The warm socks, caps, clothes, and hand/foot warmers will help a great deal.

To that, add a small heater that is safe to use inside a vehicle. This portable, small space heater runs on propane and would be a safe choice. Store a couple extra propane containers in your vehicle to insure you have a supply to last a few days, just in case.

Since body heat counts for something, even in very cold weather, you will probably need to run this heater for just a few minutes every hour or so. If your car has plenty of gas, you can turn on your car’s heater every so often as well. Just make sure that the exterior exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with mud or snow. If it is, clear it out completely before turning your car on, otherwise carbon monoxide can build up inside the car, causing another deadly problem worse than being stranded. This carbon monoxide detector for the car looks intriguing, although I haven’t used it personally.

Another heating option is one that uses a couple of cans, a roll of toilet paper, and a bottle or two of alcohol. This DIY emergency heater will require some practice using it. I recommend watching this video to see how the heater is put together, reading the results of actual use in a car, and then reading through the comments on this site to learn from others’ experiences. I file this in the “emergency use only” category, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have it put together with a bottle or two of alcohol — just in case.

You probably have some spare blankets around the house, so go ahead and roll those up, store in a space-saver bag and add them to your supplies in the trunk. I’ve kept spare blankets and towels underneath my Tahoe’s back seat for many years, and they come in handy, no matter the weather.

If you have sleeping bags that are rarely use, toss them into the trunk of the car. You might as well store them there as in the garage or attic. Caught in cold weather, they could very possibly save your life.

Along with resources to stay warm, food, water, and a toilet (of all things!) are going to become necessities. This article details how to store water in a vehicle during the winter. It’s important to know that eating snow, while technically is water and life-saving, can also work against you by lowering your core temperature. Granola or energy bars, crackers, beef jerky, lollipops — all do well when stored in cold temperatures. Sugary and salty snacks, though, will increase your thirst, which leads us to the toilet situation.

Most likely, you’ll need to just hop out of the car, do your business, and then hop back in. A child’s training toilet can be stored in the trunk, along with some plastic trash bags and toilet paper.

Finally, think about  how you will wile away the hours before getting rescued and put together a sanity-saving kit. It might contain a charged and loaded mp3 player with earphones, a book you’ve been meaning to read, paper and pen, coloring books and colored pencils for the kids, hard candies, and so on. Your “adventure” may last just an hour or two but you could also be stranded for much longer. If so, you’ll be needing these supplies.

By the way, do stay in or very near your car. Unless you are 100% certain that a well-traveled road or occupied home/building is within a very short, easy walk and the weather allows, you will be found much more quickly if you’re with your vehicle. Exertion that causes a lot of sweating (moisture) will only make it more difficult to stay warm and you’ll become dehydrated.

For a very complete list of what to keep in your car, this printable is ready to download!

Getting help

Obviously, getting stuck in your car is a situation that isn’t desirable! Even if you’re toasty warm, the kids are napping, and you’re listening to your favorite Pandora channel, you want to get home!

A charged cell phone is a necessity, as is an external battery pack. A charged battery pack like this one has saved my bacon on many occasions when my cell phone was nearly dead. With your phone, you can utilize Google maps, emergency scanners, first aid apps, and even this winter survival app. This survival manual app has extensive information at your fingertips.

In a winter landscape, bright colors are easy to spot. Imagine a bright red cardinal against white snow and bare, gray tree branches. If your vehicle is off the main roads, you may need to figure out how to make it more visible for rescue workers or the casual passer-by.

A mylar emergency blanket can be stretched across the top of your car and secured in place with your car doors. Brightly colored clothing can be tied to an antenna. A mirror can be used to flash passing cars or airplanes and honking your horn can attract attention as will flashing your headlights. If you’ve told someone where you are going and when to expect you back home, it won’t be long before an active search will be called and help will be on its way.

survive stranded car winter

Surviving Iceland: My #1 Survival Concern

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surviving iceland

When my family spent 2 weeks in Iceland this past fall, surviving cold weather was my top concern. Coming from Arizona and now Texas, I tend to go overboard when it comes to preparing for cold weather and packing for this trip was no exception. I knew that our first and most important prep was our bodies — packing the right type of shoes and clothing to keep us warm from the skin out.

Start with your skin

No matter what the temperature and weather conditions are, get ready at the skin, or base, layer. My favorite base layer is made of silk — my ancient “silkies” from REI. They’ve been in my dresser drawer for about 30 years and still get the job done. Silk is an excellent fabric for a base layer and when used as long underwear, they’re comfy. I like the fact that the next layer of clothing glides over the silk fabric. The one downside to silk is that it’s best for moderately cold temperatures, as I learned in Iceland. There, I layered my silkies with fleece lined tights and kept pretty warm.

If you opt for a different fabric, consider synthetic fibers or Merino wool. Of the 2, I greatly prefer wool. As I learned with my wool socks, you can wear them again and again and again without much worry about body odor, a feature you won’t find with synthetic fibers or silk. However, Merino wool can be very expensive. I bought my Merino base layer top on clearance at REI, and even then, it was about $50. If you tend to get and stay cold or spend a lot of time in cold weather, it would be a worthy purchase.

Caps, scarves, jackets, and longjohns!

One final consideration with this base layer, or layers, depending on the weather, is your own tendency to be cold or on the hot side. My poor daughter had a tougher time in the chilly Iceland outdoors than I did because she is pretty much permanently cold! In her case, a heavyweight base layer would be best. Just read the labels and look for the words “heavyweight” or a “midweight”, if you’d like something slightly lighter.

I mentioned fleece lined tights and these are a wonder! From the moment I put them on, I knew my world was permanently rocked. Not only did they feel great, but I could wear them under jeans, my silkies, ski pants, or anything else. They even look good worn with a skirt, and, if worn as leggings, they’re suitable for cool weather just about anywhere. No need to hoard them for Arctic blasts!

Not all brands are the same, so try one brand first before buying additional pairs. We started with an and actually prefer those to the Muk-luk brand we purchased later.

Your feet are next

If your base layers are keeping your body warm, socks and shoes are the next most important consideration. If you were to splurge on any one thing for cold weather survival, it would be socks and shoes. You can trudge an awful long way if your feet are warm and comfortable, and you can pick up good quality coats and jackets at second hand stores, but that isn’t nearly so easy when it comes to shoes.

surviving icelandI highly recommend getting waterproof boots, even if you aren’t anticipating being in wet weather. If you buy a great pair of boots or heavy walking shoes, they’ll last for years, if not decades. You never know what weather conditions you’ll encounter in that time, so you might as well plan for protection from wet weather.

When I bought my most recent pair of boots, I knew I was making an investment. I went to 2 different stores, tried on maybe half a dozen different pairs and settled on a pair of KEENs. I love them. Now that I’m back in civilization and far from fjords and glaciers, I still wear them every chance I get. I paid right around $165 for them and expect them to last until I die. Seriously. My daughter’s Vasque boots are as beloved to her.

Shopping for these boots, I asked the salesperson to point out which boots were waterproof and we based our decisions on those. You’ll also need to decide if you want low or high tops. I wanted a little more ankle support, so I went with high tops.

If you already have boots but they aren’t waterproof, pack a tube of multi-purpose Shoe Goo, or spray them with a waterproofing spray. I recommend keeping these in your emergency kit or glove box, since you’ll most likely encounter wet conditions away from home.

Add 2 or 3 pairs of wool blend socks, and you’re set. Personally, that’s my first and only choice. They are soft and cushy, incredibly comfortable, and I can wear them for days without them stinking. That’s pretty remarkable. Smartwool is an excellent brand, but on the expensive side, and as you’re shopping for them, you’ll find some pretty cute vintage designs. Wool blends usually include some spandex, a little nylon, but steer away from blends that include cotton.

Now for the rest of you

If your feed are solidly shod in wool socks and comfortable, waterproof boots, you are well on your way to comfortably endurng chilly, winter weather. Now it’s time for layers of clothing.

Around my house, jeans are #1 for every single season. Right now as I type this, I’m wearing jeans and without looking, I’ll be at least one other family member is, too. For cold weather, though, we had to change our tune. My husband and daughter packed one pair of jeans and wore them with base layers, Propper longjohns for him, but most of the time was spent wearing lighter, quick-dry pants.

surviving icelandThose lightweight pants over our base layers did very well for this particular autumn trip, and on the coldest days and nights, we wore 2 base layers each! The lighter weight pants allowed for freer movement. Since we weren’t in full winter weather yet, we didn’t need anything heavier, but if we did, I’d opt for wool pants and a pair of waterproof pants. Iceland has thousands of waterfalls around the entire island and hiking to them can be a wet adventure. Another popular activity is glacier hiking which, again, brings the opportunity to be cold and wet!

Those wool pants should be maybe one size bigger to allow for some shrinkage as well as the layers you may wear underneath. Here’s some more excellent advice for choosing cold-weather pants.

Surviving Iceland from the waist up!

Looking back, it’s funny that I never tired of gearing up every morning for cold weather. I naturally like chilly days, but growing up in the Southwest and most days wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops, you might think all the layering would grow tiresome, but it didn’t. It was just a part of our day, getting ready to enjoy something new in the gorgeous Iceland countryside.

surviving icelandPrior to our trip, my final investment piece was a water-resistant softshell jacket lined with a very thin fleece. Made by Marmot, it has numerous features that helped me adapt to wet weather and super chilly nights. It even has an inner band that snaps around my hips to prevent cold air from traveling up through the bottom of the jacket. Bright raspberry red insured that I couldn’t get lost from my family, at least not easily!

A softshell jacket is breathable, wick sweat away from your skin, and are comfortable in all kinds of temperatures. My son’s Marmot jacket was pricey but it built to last, even with growth spurts. The fact that it was a bright tomato red helped identify his location on so many occasions. He was entranced with being outside in a gorgeous environment and tended to wander away, down the sides of cliffs, up mountainsides, enjoying some solitude.

surviving iceland

As far as other layers went, we wore combinations of t-shirts (both long sleeve and short sleeve), wool tops, and anything else we happened to have. I knew that our base layers, socks, boots, and jackets would do most of the work in keeping us warm, so we were more casual with our shirts.

Finishing off our daily ensembles were warm gloves, knitted caps and scarves. As a souvenir, I purchased an Icelandic wool scarf and wore it constantly. I was amazed by how warm it kept my neck. This is that exact scarf! Caps kept our heads warm — a necessity, and was the final piece of clothing I put on every day. Since we were sleeping in a camper van, I often went to sleep at night with it on my head! Here’s a pick of the inside of that van. GoCampers was the company we selected, and they were terrific to work with.

surviving iceland

If you can stay warm in Iceland…

…you can stay warm anywhere! If we ever really want a cold weather challenge, we’ll head over there during the winter where icy winds are powerful enough to knock cars off the roads! In fact, on our first night in our camper van, the winds howled so loudly that I was convinced we were in the middle of a hurricane.

surviving icelandThe payoff for all this cold weather preparation? Incomparable beauty. Again and again and again we commented to each other how no photograph could ever capture the beauty that we discovered every mile along the way. On 3 special occasions, we were treated to the indescribable experience of the Northern Lights, once from our airplane flying in to Keflavik. Yes, we got to see endless miles of the lights. What a great memory.

surviving iceland

Life is about making memories with the people you love, and what made this trip so special was not only the beauty and being with family, but the fact that we were equipped and prepared to fully ENJOY the experience and not huddled in front of a tiny space heater!

On to the next adventure…

Avoid the Fake News Trap: 9 Tips to Get Accurate Information

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fake newsMany of us in the prepper world feel like the news is biased, or at best, incomplete. Lately, “fake news” has been in the headlines, reaffirming that we can’t believe what we see or hear when it comes to the news fed to us by mainstream media.

One prime example happened toward the end of December, 2016, when The Washington Post reported with the sensational headline, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to electrical grid security, officials say.” Wow. In the prepper community we are more aware than most of the grid’s vulnerability. Immediately, this story raised concerns — but then just as quickly, fell apart. Turns out that a laptop computer belonging to the Burlington Electric Department had acquired malware. The malware may have been written by a Russian — but malware is readily available for sale on the open market and most computer owners have had malware issues many times. The laptop wasn’t connected to the grid, the malware was removed, end of story. There was never a “Russian operation hack” — not even close.

So why would an established newspaper of record rush to publish a story that was so quickly debunked? Basic fact checking would have saved The Washington Post from much embarrassment, especially after having published this article, condemning “fake news” and listing “fake news” websites.

Even without fake news as an issue, it’s hard to get the full picture in a 30 second “story” or a brief headline. Additionally, many of us assume that when SHTF, mainstream news sources will be unreliable or consist of pure propaganda. And there’s just so much information out there that it seems overwhelming at times. It’s tempting to just ignore it all, and, if you’re smart, you’ve figured out that there’s very little “news” that’s completely believable.

But making wise and effective preparedness decisions means having a somewhat accurate view of what is, and is not, happening. After all, how will we be able to discern an accurate picture when it really matters if we don’t practice discernment now? If you can’t rely on the accuracy of information, then what do you base your survival decisions on?

Avoiding the fake news trap

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you watch or read the news:

What has geo-political significance?

In my history classes, I tell my students to think of this in terms of what might be in history books 40 years from now. In other words, the type of events that could change history. A celebrity marriage or divorce? Unlikely. Two countries ending portions of a nuclear containment agreement? Very likely. Pay attention to those things with geopolitical significance, and ignore the rest. Not every news story is worth your time, and this is a fast way to decide what to pay attention to.

Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

Every story, no matter how short, should cover these bases at a minimum. If, for some reason, the information isn’t available yet, the aspect should still be addressed. For example, if the police are still looking for the bank robber, the “Who?” can’t be answered just yet, but the story should still say they are “following several leads” or something similar. Identify what pieces of the story are missing from the reporting. It’s possible the missing information has been purposely left out.

What part of the story is missing or leaves basic questions unanswered?

If you find that a story is missing some aspect of basic reporting, try to find the missing pieces from another source. For example, many recent domestic terror attacks have involved people of a similar religion or origin, but many mainstream news reports were leaving out this information in reporting, even if it was known. This was an instance where alternative news sources were reporting the information immediately. Details like that could matter immensely when it comes to identifying or categorizing threats (or lack thereof) to your family or personal situation, and you should try to find them.

One very popular strategy by many in the media is using unnamed sources. “An unnamed source reports…” Who is the unnamed source and why isn’t their name being disclosed? Is it possible the source doesn’t exist and the information being passed along is the author’s own opinion? Or maybe the unnamed source is the journalist 2 cubicles over or the political enemy of the main person or cause presented in the story. Be very wary of news reports that frequently resort to this tactic.

What are you observing on the ground and how does that line up with the story that is being reported?

In the most recent election cycle, my friends and I kept counts of political yard signs and bumper stickers. Although our counts weren’t statistically accurate, there was a significant discrepancy between our observations, and polling numbers reported. If a political poll as reported just doesn’t match up with what you are observing, then you might wonder if the polling is accurate. ALWAYS trust what you observe over what you are told. This skill will be absolutely crucial if the SHTF, as most “official” reports are going to be untrustworthy.

Find the original quote or document–what does it say in context?

It’s very common for headlines to say one thing when, in context, the meaning of a statement is completely the opposite. If a statement being reported seems particularly shocking or hard to believe, take a few moments to find the statement from its original source and read it in context. You might be able to find the original speech or interview on YouTube, for example. Watch or read as much of the original context as you can, and decide for yourself what the person meant by the statement. Always trust your own interpretation of any original source over a second-hand account or third party interpretation of what happened.

Are the same descriptors used in similar cases?

A friend of mine just shared an article about political corruption where the political affiliation of the accused was left out. This is a detail that is directly related to the nature of the story, and its omission may indicate a bias on the side of the reporter or news agency. Be alert to missing details, and allow them to tell you something, too.

Similarly, be aware of optics. Images can be used to sway opinion, even if it doesn’t exactly reflect the facts in the news story itself. Journalists know that most people will read the headline, glance at the image, perhaps read the caption, and then draw their conclusions. One particularly obvious example was in the unfortunate shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman back in 2012. Even when the facts emerged that Trayvon was a very tall and mature looking 17 year old, media reports continued to publish a photo of the young man when he was 12. In comparison, they used a mug shot of George Zimmerman taken 7 years earlier and continued to use that photo for weeks. Neither photo was accurate and that did a disservice to readers and viewers everywhere.

Who or what benefits?

This might also be known as “follow the money.” Recently, there have been major headlines about various pharmaceutical drugs becoming very expensive, literally overnight. Why is this happening? The answer to those situation and many others can be answered by asking who benefits from these changes. One caution: it’s not always so obvious as saying, “The greedy companies, of course!” You may have to go back a few layers. Sometimes, alternative news sources will do this for you.

How has the narrative changed?

In the book 1984, George Orwell wrote, “We’ve always been at war with Oceania.” For news stories that have been going on for a while, compare older stories with more recent ones to see how the terminology or perspectives have changed. For example, at the beginning of the Syrian war, there was a “refugee” issue. More recently, the news stories refer to these displaced peoples as “migrants.” Sometimes, the change is because more details have emerged, but more often, it’s because the story is being spun a certain way.

Why now?

In an election year, this question is easy to answer: the information is likely coming out at a certain time in order to hurt a particular candidate or sway voters. But in other times or situations, it may be harder to discern. For example, 24/7 coverage of police shootings overshadowed passage of CISPA, while arguments over flags and bathroom signs covered up the release of 28 pages from the 9/11 report and news of coup d’état’s around the world, and so on. Did you wonder why all the evil clown stories were suddenly in the news? Gotta wonder what was going on at the time that we weren’t supposed to know about. In many (perhaps most) cases, inflammatory issues are probably just being used as a distraction from something that is actually more important.

Action steps to get accurate information and avoid fake news

  • Pick just one or two of these questions posed above and apply them to every news story you hear or read this week.
  • Find a few alternative news sources including at least one overseas news source just for the different perspective. Even if they don’t align with your personal political viewpoints, you will still get information from a different perspective. Then, judge that information next to news from another source or two. For example, you could try:
    • ZeroHedge
    • The Daily Sheeple
    • Stratfor
    • Drudge Report
    • Federalist
    • Slate
    • Shadow Stats
    • InfoWars
    • Blacklisted News
    • The Jason Stapleton Program
    • Storm Clouds Gathering
  • As for overseas sources, you could try the BBC, UK Telegraph, Canada Free Press, or similar. While I’m not necessarily endorsing these sites or their contents, they can at least provide alternative information or perspectives, and get you thinking more critically about news in general.
  • Read books like James Rawles novels, or any of the Economic Hitman booksThe Fourth Turning, or The Next 100 Years. These books offer new perspectives, and they could certainly help shift your paradigm on news reporting and current events.
  • Learn how to recognize false arguments. The Fallacy Detective makes this very easy and helps you identify such tactics as strawman arguments, faulty appeals to authority, an ad hominem attack, and many others. With this information in hand, watch a political debate on YouTube and try to identify the false arguments made by the candidates.

Eventually you will find that single sentences or even phrases in new stories will pop out at you as significant, and you’ll be more comfortable relying on your own observations and conclusions.

Having a more accurate view of the news, and being able to identify what is and is not important, could one day be the difference between your timely decision to act, or missing a critical window of opportunity.

What steps are you going to try this week?

fake news

Prepare, Don’t Panic: Part 1, Join the 10%

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(A big thank you to Bob Mayne of Today’s Survival podcast for

When I first began researching survival and preparedness, I can’t tell you how many hours were spent in shock and panic.  I read about the “golden hordes” who would soon, very soon, descend upon my suburban home shooting, stealing, and raping, although not in that particular order.  According to some survivalists, we’re approaching a tipping point at which our world will begin to run out of oil, and we’ll be thankful to have two rocks to rub together to create heat.  Our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression will have nothing on us.  There were days I wasn’t so sure I even wanted to survive such scenarios.

Anyone who has known nothing but generations of security is in for a shock once they

In the October issue of Popular Mechanics magazine,

10% panic

80% do nothing

10% act

My popcorn situation.  I panicked.  My little brother, age 6 calmly put a lid on the popcorn.

Listening to Bob’s podcast, the thought occurred to me, my kids can’t afford for me to be part of the 10% that panic or the 80% who do nothing.  We moms do not have the luxury of panicking or breaking down in tears.  Picture that situation.  You and your children are in the middle of an intense emergency.  They are already scared, perhaps even hysterical.  They don’t need a mom who has lost all sense of reason.  You must be the adult in charge.  The options< otherwise< aren”t pretty

So how do you get to a

First, decide that you WILL be in that 10% who takes appropriate action when faced with an emergency or drastic change.

1.  Do your thinking and planning now.

What would I do if we

Communicate with your spouse and family.

2.  Put your plan in writing.  Post it in more than one place.

3.  Review the plan.

4.  Practice the plan.  i.e. emergency evacuation, medical emergency, a sudden intense weather situation

5.  Evaluate.  What worked?  What didn’t?

Your first priority is your family.  Your children will feel reassured when they see you acting decisively and with confidence.

How can you get a grip on your emotions when ?  the almond thing in your brain that fires in a fight or flight.  Begin counting.  That activates the ___ side of your brain and helps that side gain control.

The Essentials of a Well-Made Daypack & GIVEAWAY!

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well made daypackIt seems like the daypack, in one form or another, has become ubiquitous in the United States as well as in other parts of the world. However, the daypack in its early form was an elementary affair. Mostly used by settlers and colonialists, Native Americans, trappers, and mountain men when the United States was young.  John Hart, author of Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking, writes,

The traditional daypack is simple. A tough fabric bag, a couple of wide shoulder straps, and you’ve about got it.

At its core, not much has changed; the basics of what constitutes a daypack remain the same. However, through the years – particularly the last 25 – it has morphed into designs which serve us in some very new ways.

Whatever your profession, trade, sport, or activity, there is a daypack made with you in mind. There is, in fact, a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, colors, constructions, and configurations to choose from and of course, quality and price point too. This article focuses only on the core elements, the basics of what constitutes a well-made daypack; form, fit, and function. Beyond that, only you know what the specific needs are for you and your family. Moving beyond the old canvas satchel and weaved basket with two leather straps that my grandfather used on his trapline as a boy, here are some important things to consider before purchasing a daypack, today:

Form — The Body of the Daypack

In this instance, when you think form, think materials and construction. Specifically fabrics, straps, buckles, webbing, padding, sewing, and general, over-all  construction. These are key to the design and manufacture of a well-made daypack.

Materials: There are many fabrics to choose from depending on the type of daypack you are looking for. You want the body of the daypack to be made from synthetic materials, not cotton or blended fabrics. A quality rip-stop nylon , nylon oxford, or cordura are all great choices. Another important consideration is the thread count or denier of the fabric you choose. Make sure the fabric is sturdy enough to withstand the usage you have in mind. Lastly, for most daypacks, you will want the fabric to have a waterproof coating, either polyurethane or silicon based.

A daypack made of quality material doesn’t have to be expensive, as this example shows.

Straps: The shoulder straps are an all-important consideration. The majority of the load is transferred to your shoulders there. (Do you remember the feeling of your overloaded daypack or bookbag shoulder straps digging into your shoulders while you walked to and from school?) Straps should be made of a thick closed cell foam material covered in an abrasion resistant fabric like a dense nylon material that is tough but won’t easily chafe you. The padded shoulder straps should have strong flat nylon webbing tails attached to the bottom with box-x stitching, which is inserted into a strong buckle and tab attached to the bottom of the daypack. Make sure there is lots of adjustability for your body type. The top of the straps should be secured to the body of the daypack using bar-tack stitching as well as being integrated into the top seam.

Padding: The padding I’m referring to is more than just what is found in the shoulder straps. Depending on design and use, a daypack may have a padded bottom in the main compartment, a padded sleeve in the inner compartment to park a laptop, other electronics, or even a hydration bladder in some. The back may have extra padding and mesh to add support, cushion, and ventilation. If your’s is a slightly larger daypack, it may have a padded waist belt as well. Theses should all be made using dense closed cell foam material.

Here’s another example of an inexpensive, but high quality daypack with comfortable padded straps, made with high qualaity material.

Sewing: Throughout the daypack, heavy duty thread should be used. Seams should be double stitched and key stress points should be bar-tacked or box-x stitched. As much as possible, bias binding should be used on material edges. You should see raw edges heat sealed (hot-cut) and finished with a zigzag stitching. In cheaply made packs, the material is cut using a stat-cutter, not heat sealed and rarely zigzag stitched. Under heavy use, this leads to fabric fraying and seam separations. Not really what you want when toting your $500 laptop around. Take a few minutes to inspect the stitching.

General overall construction: Other considerations are closures, loops, D-rings, handles, and buckles. Most daypacks will have some kind of zippers, velcro, snaps, or shock cord. All should be made of tough durable materials (Are the zippers YKK on the pack you are considering?) and securely attached to the main body of the daypack using reinforced stitching. Buckles should be made of high-impact plastic with some give at closure points. D-rings and loops should be ergonomically placed and bar-tacked in place. The fabric for the main body and pockets of the pack should be coated to provide a measure of waterproofing.

This Swissgear daypack is an example of one that combines multiple features, making it an extremely versatile and budget-friendly choice.

Fit (size and ergonomics)

Whether you are buying a $9.99 back-to-school special from a big-box store for you kids to tote their books back and forth from school, an every day carry (EDC) or get-home bag to keep in your vehicle, or contemplating a rugged mountaineering daypack for your trek in Nepal, if it doesn’t fit right, the pack can be miserable to use and in some instances unsafe. Things to consider:

  1. Is the pack the right size for your intended use? Do you really need a $200 military-grade rucksack-style daypack for your college books? (Yes, I know it looks cool.)
  2. Are the buckles, webbing, D-rings, and zippers  on your daypack designed for ease of use and security in mind?
  3. Does the daypack fit your frame well? No two bodies are the same, and no two daypacks are either. There is one that will fit you well and meet your needs. Be picky, it will pay off in the long run.

Function of the daypack

What are you getting this daypack for anyway? Begin with the end in mind and think about what you really need versus what you want. Are you looking for a general-duty daypack or one specifically designed for your get-home bag? One specifically tailored to a woman’s build or one for your preschooler? Are you a climber, hunter, hiker, or runner? Participants and practitioners of each activity have their special requirements to consider when finding the daypack that will work best.

The Daypack Test Drive – Don’t be Nice!

When you have finally found the daypack you are considering, don’t hesitate to take it for a test drive at the store and don’t be easy on it. Turn the daypack inside out and check the coating on the material, the stitching, seams, and bar-tacking. Bring things that you will carry in the pack and load it up and walk around! How do your shoulders feel carrying weight and your hips, if you have a waist belt to help distribute the load? Do all the buckles lock and unlock smoothly? How easily do the zippers work around corners and can you close them one-handed? Are the pockets and exterior strapping configured the way you need them? The hit list goes on… You get the idea.

A daypack may be a relatively small purchase, but it fills a big need for many activities you and your family do. Don’t settle for less than what fits you and your particular requirements.

There are many other things to consider when choosing a daypack. Most have to do with the specific requirements you have or activities you do. If you want to delve more deeply into the finer nuances of daypacks check out the articles and videos below.

Additional Resources


Daypacks: How to Choose – REI

YouTube Reviews

Preschool Daypacks

Laptop Daypacks

Hiking Daypacks

Travel Daypacks

Hydration Daypacks

Running Daypacks


This giveaway is really something special. From our friends at Flying Circle, the Brazos Backpack could be a daypack, but it is also suitable for a whole lot more. Made of military grade materials, it’s the high quality pack you’ve been wanting, with multiple pockets everywhere, including a small pocket on the strap, a handy place to stash a small flashlight, cash, or keys. It also features padded compartments for a laptop or tablet, and even a hidden “pass through” compartment, perfect for carrying a concealed handgun.

You can read more about its many features here.

Flying Circle will send this extra special pack to one lucky winner! Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway begins on December 29, and ends at midnight on January 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Carry These 11 Items In Your Car to Survive a Wildfire

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items-in-car-survive-wildfireI’ve been watching recent video from the horrific wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Friends of mine owned a home there, now destroyed by wildfire, and many other friends and acquaintances enjoyed the area during family vacations. As of this writing, there hasn’t been much relief in the way of rain to put an end to these firestorms.

This video gives a vivid picture of how quickly these fires grew, as this man drives through them to safety. Wildfire safety is no easy matter, as I explain in this article.

(Warning: Strong language.)

In a Facebook discussion about the video and the fires, a reader, Carolyn, commented on having a couple of items in the car to help deal with the heat and smoke. I began thinking along those lines and came up with this list of items, all on the small and inexpensive side, you should keep handy in your vehicle, especially if you live or travel in areas that are prone to fires or could become that way due to drought conditions.

Driving through a fire like this is very, very dangerous. Smoke and fumes can quickly fill a vehicle and rubber tires can melt on the hot asphalt. As important as it is for all passengers to remain calm and with a face mask, even a wet bandana tied around the nose and mouth is better than nothing, it’s even more important that the driver be able to maintain his or her focus.

Just as flight attendants instruct parents to first put on their own oxygen mask in case of an emergency, the driver of a vehicle must protect his or her own eyes and respiratory system, in particular. A Readi-Mask is one product that does both, is one-use only, and so compact it fits just about anywhere. Respirator masks are more bulky, range in price from quite reasonable to very expensive, and most will not include eye protection. However, a pair of swim goggles or tightly fitting shooting-range goggles work very well for this purpose.

If the vehicle’s air circulation system begins to allow in too much smoke or fumes, you can close it down and use a small battery-powered fan to move air around. In the case of this video, the driver’s dog was beginning to show signs of overheating. Between the flow of air and water to drink, or squeezed with a cloth over an animal’s tongue, a pet will have a better chance of surviving the very hot environment.

At one point in the video, it appears that the driver has to get out and move branches. Between eye protection, a respirator, heavy work gloves (this pair is also fire resistant), and a sharpened ax or hatchet, there’s a good chance this type of road clearing can be done quickly. However, again, the driver should remain in the best of health since the survival of the entire party depends on it, and the task of clearing a road may best be left in the hands of another able bodied adult.

Many of the items typically carried in an emergency kit can help with wildfire survival, and those kits should already be packed somewhere safe in each vehicle you own. I prefer to make my own kit and assemble it from products I know are all high quality, but a Mombies bag, which I’ve owned for a few years now, is unbeatable for women. Otherwise, well-equipped bags like this one can be found online and in retail stores. Just be sure to check out all the items and add anything specific to your own family’s needs.

Fires invariably darken the sky and turn daylight into night. A few LED flashlights are a necessity and can be used to signal rescuers, if necessary. At least one headlamp would allow you to use your hands and should also be included.

Finally, be aware that elderly people, those with chronic health issues, and very young children and babies will have the most difficulty with breathing in conditions caused by a wildfire. Take time to insure you have well-fitting facemasks for them. They should spend some time wearing a face mask, even if it’s one that is a simple dust/particulate mask, to get used to the sensation. Many people feel suffocated wearing something over their nose and mouth, so it can take some getting used to.

In the case of the Gatlinburg fires, a combination of multiple arson-set fires, dry conditions, and hurricane force winds combined to create a lethal scenario that caught even emergency responders by surprise. Typically, wildfires are tracked for hours and days, giving residents ample warning to evacuate to safety. However, as we’ve learned from similar fires in Israel, fire can be utilized as a weapon to destroy and terrorize. This article explains how wildfires can endanger your preps, your family, and your own life, and this book is a complete guide to planning and carrying out an emergency evacuation.

If you find yourself driving anywhere near a wildfire, have the radio tuned to an emergency news broadcast. There are handy police scanner phone apps that will also keep you up to date, and the American Red Cross Wildfire app comes with active wildfire warnings and survival tips. Not being at the wrong place at the wrong time is the best prep of all.


Get Family & Friends On Board With Prepping

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Whether you are forming a small neighborhood group, a disaster preparedness club or a prepper group there are 8 steps which will help you get started and begin the path for the success of your group.

  1. Before beginning you need to define what area you want to organize your group in. It could be a housing development, an apartment complex, a city or county boundary or a one block area. When you have defined your boundaries, check to see if there has been a neighborhood group before. You do not want to duplicate what is already being done or cause confusion with any other groups. This inquiry will give you information about those in your city who can help you as you help others prepare. Make telephone calls to the local Red Cross office, the County office of Emergency Services, local fire department and Humane Society, along with the closest chapter of RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services). http://www.usraces.org/  These organizations can give you information about the communities’ emergency operation plan. They may be happy to attend your meeting and share some of their advice.
  2. Select a location and time for your first meeting. Choose a place and time that will be convenient for most people to attend. If you are holding a meeting for the neighborhood, find a neighbor who is willing to have it held in their home. If it is a community type meeting, find a public place, like a community center, restaurant or conference room in a library. Making the first meeting casual helps make others feel at ease and openly talk. Offer snacks and a drink. It makes it less of a business meeting.
  3. If it is a small group of people, hand deliver the invitation. If it is a larger group, send out fliers, use social media, local newspaper and magazine advertisement. Many are leery of the phrase “prepper groups”. Unless that is what you are really trying to create, use phrases like self-sufficiency, self-reliance or family preparedness. It is less intimidating to beginners.
  4. Have people sign in beforehand and let people socialize a bit. To begin, introduce yourself and share a story about your interest in disaster preparedness. If you do not feel like your story is compelling enough, invite someone in advance who can share their experience. You want others to feel a desire to prepare themselves, but not fear it. People remember stories. If available, have the local fire department or someone from the office of emergency management come and speak.
  5. Have information packets available to all who attend. Whether they come back to another meeting or not, you have given them valuable information that they can use. They may run into the packet months later and decide to get involved. Becoming prepared is a personal decision and you cannot force others to participate. Keep the person updated with any new information that they may find helpful.
  6. With your group, discuss their concerns and establish preparedness goals. Involve any in the group that have helpful skills. Most people love to teach others a skill they are good at. Not only have you created a group of volunteers, you have found a way to create a closer group.
  7. Do not forget those with special needs. The disabled, elderly, single parents, ect… Remember that everyone has different needs and may not be able to prepare at the same pace as others.
  8. Decide with those attending what the next steps are and when the next meeting should be. Find others who are willing to help you with the next meeting, be a liaison with community services and reach out to those who were not able to attend.


Helpful hints for having an effective meeting-

  • Maybe half of the people you will invite will show up. Do not get discouraged. Just walk into this endeavor knowing this. You can invite more people, see who shows up, adjust your expectations or expand your target area. The attendance may fluctuate in the beginning. Hang in there, so not get discouraged. After some time, you will know the approximate number of your attendees.
  • Keep sign in sheets and notes from all of your meetings. They will help you know what to tweak to make future meetings even better. You can track attendance and topics discussed.
  • Once you have found a day, time and place that works for your meetings, keep it. Be flexible in other things, but not the meeting schedule.
  • Keep the meetings on track. One crazy story or odd comment can derail the meeting. Learn how to get the topic back in a polite manner.
  • Share what you envision this group to accomplish, but keep the details open. You will want the ideas of your group. People want to feel like their opinion is heard and validated. They will keep coming to meetings if feel useful and that their contributions are valued.
  • Everyone is part of the group. If a neighbor invites a person outside of your designated area, it is okay. Be thankful that someone is interested and willing to contribute or learn.
  • Do not have the meetings go over 90 minutes. People may lose interest or feel that they don’t have the time to attend meetings if they are long.
  • Be sure to thank those who may have helped you. The home owner where the meeting was held, any volunteers with food, hand outs and those who were invited to speak.
  • Send a letter and contact those who were so willing to volunteer to help as liaisons or in any other capacity. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and needed.
  • Reward your hard work! Have a one year party of your group, have a small celebration or BBQ together when group goals have been accomplished.

If you are asked by someone to prepare a group or do a preparedness presentation, many of the above advice will still apply. But when asked, it means that you have someone who may have something specific planned.

  1. Whether it is a church, club or business you will be helping, find out what the main goal is. Is this a one-time presentation, a monthly or yearly meeting? Is there a certain topic that need to be taught or discussed? Will follow up meetings be needed?
  2. It is important to know about those you will be speaking/training? Seniors have different preparedness needs than college students. The disabled may require different solutions for their questions than a soccer mom.
  3. Know the area you will be helping in. Big cities, rural areas and suburbs have different community services, transportation, communication methods and resources. Adjust your information according to the area where you are going to be at.
  4. Ask if there is specific material that you should be using as resource or should be handed out to your group. You may be required to gather your own information. Use reliable resources. You may be able to ask other local experts to contribute.




Beyond Zombies: Survival Lessons From The Walking Dead

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lessons from the walking deadThe Walking Dead is one of those rare TV shows that, like prepping, captures the zeitgeist of its time. No, not that the dead are actually rising, but rather that we cannot rely on the government to save us and the modern infrastructure we rely on so heavily is all too easily disrupted, broken, or even destroyed.

For those who haven’t watched the shows, TWD focuses more on living humans and their actions and interactions than with zombies, per se. Zombies are part of the setting, just as starships and other planets are the setting for science fiction movies. Just as Star Trek isn’t about the Enterprise itself, TWD isn’t about the undead except when it impacts the living. (TWD usually calls the undead “walkers” because they are the walking dead, but never, ever refers to them as zombies.)

You can survive anywhere – or die there

The series started in 2010 and has a recent spin-off called Fear the Walking Dead that takes place in Los Angeles and Baja California. The original series starts in Georgia, eventually moving to the DC suburbs. People who choose to bug in survive in all kinds of places on both coasts. Survivors are found in remote cabins and farms, but also in towns, cities, and even a prison. As time goes on, the survivors find walled suburbs and fortified towns built or modified to keep danger out.

Whether it’s Father Gabriel hiding in his isolated church with the windows boarded up or Tara and her family hiding in a small apartment building in a small town, those who survive are the ones who gathered supplies and locked themselves into a safe place and stayed there while the initial danger raged outside their doors. They didn’t get complacent, they didn’t take unnecessary risks, and they didn’t give up when things looked bad.

As the series continues, the main characters come across many places where those fortunate circumstances didn’t happen. In one suburb with a pre-apocalypse brick wall, the residents gathered supplies and locked themselves in for safety. Unfortunately, someone died and came back to life as a walker. Everyone in the community died because they assumed once they shut those gates, all was safe inside. They weren’t prepared to defend themselves from threats within their walls, to run, or even to hide somewhere else until they could escape.

It’s never “all safe”, not even before an apocalypse. Being physically and mentally capable of defending yourself and your family, and having the knowledge and equipment you need to do so, can make the difference between life and death in the worst disasters and between having looters, and worse, take what is yours in even a short-term situation, such as a localized natural disaster.

Mindset, knowledge, and the right goods don’t always trump location, but they can make the difference between a good outcome and a bad one in most places.

Rationing and bingeing lessons from TWD

Rationing is a logical action to take when food, water, and specific goods are scarce. If you are traveling, be careful how much water you drink because you never want to run out of water. (Also, carry a water filter and know how to find water using techniques like plant transpiration, but that’s a different topic.)

However, there are also times to binge. When you are next to a stream, purify the water and drink your fill. There is more water in that stream than you can carry, even if you wanted to. If you have a #10 can of chocolate pudding and will be moving on soon, go ahead and eat the whole thing because, really, who can carry a #10 can of pudding without spilling it and keep their eyes peeled for danger on the road? No one. Opportunities to really eat your fill may be rare, so enjoy the ones you find.

You never know how long you could be stuck, or when you will be forced to flee in a hurry. I lived in Los Angeles for years and was always struck by how little notice people were given to evacuate in front of forest fires or mudslides. Things can happen fast, so be prepared. In addition to your bug out bag, store some food in a grab-and-go container for an emergency evacuation. Those just-add-water meals in a lightweight bucket like this one, are easy to carry and the meals are super quick to prepare.

Scavenging goods

In one of the first episodes, the main group of characters are looking around a store in Atlanta, gathering things they need. It hasn’t been that long since things fell apart and they aren’t thinking long-term. No one grabs a hat to shade their head and neck, sunglasses, or even a backpack, nor do they grab spices and other food. It makes me a bits nuts every time I see it, but they are in the beginning of the end of their world and aren’t thinking ahead to what supplies will be most important.

If you are able to think about what you need long-term from the very start, like right now, you will end up in a much better place than those who don’t. That store is far from the last one these characters will enter during the series, but by the time they get there, most have been cleaned out by looters. In that first store, when they had the opportunity, the group left resources there that could have made their lives easier. They just weren’t thinking in terms of survival and priorities.

A time may come when you will need to travel through a dangerous area or neighborhood in order to acquire an item you need immediately, such as medication. You won’t need to cover yourself in zombie guts to walk through the undead, but dressing to blend in is a great way to remain safe if you have to make your way through a hostile crowd. Camouflage is your friend in a disaster.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between scavenging and plain old theft, read this.

Surviving other survivors

As we learn in TWD, sometimes other survivors are willing to help you. Sometimes they want to eat you for dinner. Sometimes they fall apart at the worst possible moment, in the worst possible way. And every now and then, they are better than you ever imagined possible.


When you meet new survivors, it’s almost a given that they won’t give you all the relevant information right away. Their priority is to protect themselves. In the second season of TWD, the group arrives at an operational CDC facility with plenty of food, comfortable beds, and hot showers. The lone remaining CDC staffer lets them in with a warning that they can’t leave.

This survivor neglects to mention the generators are almost out of diesel fuel and the system will automatically lock everything down and blow the place to kingdom come within twelve hours. The stress and loss destroyed him, and he truly believed all was already lost, so it didn’t really matter. By withholding some pretty crucial information it was too late, the group almost died as a result.

Of course, there are times when other survivors provide helpful information. One survivor, Aaron directs the group to safe roads and provides directions to the walled town he lives in.

One thing is for sure, reliable information is going to be one of the first casualties in a big enough crisis and being able to contact others via ham radio or have a heavy duty, reliable shortwave radio on hand (with extra batteries!), will go a long way in providing not just information but peace of mind when you know what’s going on “out there”.


Sasha laying on a pit of dead bodies. Father Gabriel’s guilt over not letting his flock into the church with him. Rick hallucinating phone calls from his dead wife. Shane.

The end of the world as we know it is stressful. Some people don’t show the worst effects for longer than others, but it hits everyone eventually. Even the strongest reach their breaking point eventually, and PTSD can become the norm if the situation goes on long enough. (There is a theory that one reason the wild west was so wild was because a lot of Civil War vets were suffering from PTSD.)

It is important to look after your own mental health and that of those around you. Getting caught up in survival to the point that you neglect your mental health is all too easy. Don’t! No matter how hard it is, find time to take a break and to enjoy any family and loved ones around you.  Know the physical and emotional limits for you and your loved ones. When you have reached them, tell those with you that need help before you fall apart. If you see others reaching their limit, help them if you can, even if they haven’t asked.

During stressful times, even when you’re not hiding in abandoned buildings on the lookout for walkers, you might want to treat yourself and your loved ones to a favorite comfort food, or pull out a hidden package of cookies. These can be a good bribe to keep kids, especially, quiet and on task. As we learn in TWD, noise discipline can be one of the biggest factors in some survival scenarios.

The important concept is to monitor yourself and members of your group for signs of PTSD and take steps to avert it, if possible. This book explains how to do that in more detail.

The Walking Dead

I’ve watched this series from the beginning. Yes, it’s unrealistic in that it’s about the undead, but it is hugely popular among preppers, in part, because of the survival lessons it teaches. Danger comes in many forms. A crying child or lowing herd of cattle can bring unwanted attention and danger. House windows and doors are easily broken. But the two things that bring the most danger are panic and carelessness.

What lessons have you learned from The Walking Dead?

lessons from the walking dead


21 Things to Look For Every Time You Go To a Yard Sale or Thrift Store

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Best Of the survival mom

I should have known that anything related to both prepping and saving money would be popular! This article from the archives has been read close to 300,000 times! So, in honor of National Preparedness Month, I bring you…

yard sale thrift store

Sterling silver flatware

Even if you can only afford to buy a spoon or a fork at a time, sterling silver is known to have antimicrobial properties. Some people believe that simply using silver flatware as everyday eating utensils can ward off harmful microbes.  Typically, a single piece of silver, such as a spoon, will run about $50.  Buy from reputable sellers, such as established estate sale agents and thrift stores.

Survival related reference books

Peruse Amazon lists such as this one and become familiar with titles, authors, and subject areas.  Books about homesteading, gardening skills, primitive camping, wilderness survival, and so much more are very often found for just a couple of dollars, or less.  Other books to look for: Boy Scout manuals, Foxfire books, and issues of Backwoods Home magazines and anthologies.

Grain mill

A good mill can run upwards of $300 and more, but it’s not uncommon to find them in yard sales and thrift stores.  Familiarize yourself with good brand names, ask to test the mill with actual wheat (if possible), but otherwise, I’ve found mills in very good condition for less than $50. One of my favorites and the #1 manual grain mill I recommend, is the Wondermill Junior. You may not find it at a yard sale, but then again, who knows?

Camping equipment

Good quality tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, lanterns, cots, etc. are often sold at very low prices by people who thought camping was a great idea, tried it once or twice, and decided to stick with hotels!  Their loss is your gain!

Good quality knives

Look for brand names such as K-Bar,  Cold Steel, and Gerber and know how to spot quality.  A Swiss Army Knife is also a good find and you can never go wrong with the Mora brand for a low price, all purpose knife — if you need to buy one.

Homeschooling supplies

In a crisis, you may end up being your children’s teacher.  Workbooks, classic literature, flash cards, math manipulatives, textbooks, and even school supplies are very often for sale by homeschoolers who are moving up a grade or have decided to liquidate their stockpile of school supplies.

Winter wear

I once picked up a super heavy duty men’s winter coat for ten dollars.  I was thrilled because it looks like it’s never been worn and came in a dry cleaner’s bag.  Look for snow boots, winter gloves, and other pieces of winter wear, and if you have kids, buy this clothing in a size or two larger for future winters.


Work boots, riding boots, gardening boots, mucking boots, military boots, motorcycle boots, cowboy boots, hiking boots, desert boots — who knew there were so many different kinds of boots?  Check for quality construction and material as well as wear and tear.  When it comes to taking care of your feet, always go for quality.

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There’s just something about old tools from the 40’s and 50’s that beats the heck out of today’s “Made in China” label.  Some sellers are savvy to the higher quality of their tools and may ask a bit more, but in the long run, it will be worth it.

Battery-operated appliances

I get a lot of questions about survival following an EMP or long-term power outage.  If you find battery powered fans, important appliances, and other tools, buy them, just to be ready for a power-down scenario.  Be sure to stock up on the appropriate batteries as well. Students in our Preppers University who purchased battery powered fans for the first time, claim it’s the smartest purchase they ever made — so these, you may not find at  yard sales!

Food dehydrator

No need to be a snob about this.  I still use the inexpensive American Harvest dehydrator I bought a few years ago on Craigslist.  I spent $30 and got extra trays, fruit leather trays, and even a couple of screen trays.

Fishing equipment

I’ve seen top-quality fishing poles, nets, enormous collections of flies, rods, reels, you name it.  If part of your survival plan is to go fishing for food, estate and yard sales are prime sources for supplies.

Emergency supplies

I’ve picked up emergency radios, lanterns, backpacks, water purification tablets, and paracord.  Most of what I have in my Vehicle Emergency Kit was found at these sales.  By the way, here’s a tip: often the best survival related supplies will be found out in the garage, if you’re attending an estate sale.

Tough kids clothing

Believe it or not, when my son was quite young, I discovered that Gymboree made the toughest jeans on the market.  I don’t believe he ever wore a hole through the knees of his Gymboree jeans.  Kids are notoriously tough on clothes, so when you’re looking at second hand clothing, go for brands and fabrics that will stand up to serious wear and tear.  Buy them in larger sizes, so you’ll be ready for growth spurts.

Canning jars and supplies

Look for Ball brand jars in all sizes.  You can always buy the lids and rims at a grocery store or on Amazon.  Also look for things like a magnetic lid lifter, funnel, jar tongs, and large pots.  It would be a good idea to know prices of new canning supplies.  Once I was at an estate sale, found a nice large water bath canning pot, but when I checked the price on Amazon, the yard sale price was higher!

Manual kitchen and household tools

Do you have a manual egg beater?  A flour sifter?  Enough manual can openers?  A manual meat grinder?  I’ve seen all of these and more at estate and yard sales.  During a long-term power outage, you’ll be glad to have them!

Cast iron cookware

Guess where I picked up my two best cast iron skillets?  Yep, at garage sales! I recommend frying pans in 2 or 3 different sizes, a couple of Dutch ovens in different sizes, a griddle, and then whatever other shapes and sizes you care to add to your collection, such as this biscuit pan!


Specifically look for cookbooks that provide recipes for outdoor cooking, canning, Dutch oven cooking, and cooking with basic ingredients. Collecting old cookbooks is an enjoyable and rewarding hobby.

Good quality gardening tools and supplies

Often, in urban and suburban settings, gardening is a fad that comes and goes.  You will likely find everything you need for your garden just by shopping yard sales and Goodwill.

First aid and medical supplies

Boxes of surgical gloves, bandages, butterfly strips, surgical scissors, sterile gauze and entire well-equipped first aid kits are sold at bargain prices.  Once I even saw an old Army first aid kit with a snake-bite kit and ammonia inhalants, circa 1955!  I prefer estate sales, and very often, the owner of the home was taken care of by a visiting nurse service.  I’ve found massive amounts of medical supplies in just these types of sales.  Don’t worry, I didn’t buy everything!  I left some for you!

Hunting supplies and firearms

In some yard/garage sales, you just might get lucky and spot hunting rifles and even handguns for sale.  If you see lots of hunting related items, quietly ask the homeowner if he/she also has firearms for sale.  There are plenty of other hunting supplies out there, though, including gun cleaning kits and decoys.  If you hit the right yard sale, you might feel like you’re in Cabela’s!

Print out a simplified version of this list here.

The Well-Prepped College Student

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prepper college students

Having the kids away from home without parents is inevitable and a source of worry for all parents. For preppers, there are even more worries because your home is likely prepared for any number of disaster scenarios. If your kid is already preparedness-minded, getting them into a prepper mode for college, or just moving out, will be easy because they share your point of view. Even kids who may think you’re daft for preparing, though, can also be prepped with a few handy supplies.

Car emergency bag

College students need more than one emergency bag because they need one for their room and one for their car, if they have one, or for travel home if they don’t. In addition, they need a car emergency kit with jumper cables, a flare, and other basic items that they may not have yet, especially if they have never driven far from home before. If they travel home another way (train, airplane, carpool), modify this list of supplies to suit those needs and be sure to consider TSA requirements.

For a college student, I strongly recommend matches over a lighter because it is very obvious when you are almost out of matches but they might not notice that a lighter is damaged or low on fluid.

Quik Clot is not a “basic” item to most people, but the reality is that a car accident is the most likely emergency a car-driving young person will face and having a pack or two could quite literally save a life. Having had a friend die from bleeding out in an accident, this is a bit of a personal quirk, but I strongly encourage you to include it, and possibly even a tourniquet. These have come back into favor in a severe injury case, where the choice is either to save a limb or save a life. More information about tourniquet use is here.

It is a rare place, in this day and age, that emergency vehicles can’t reach in 10-30 minutes, but having those two items to reduce massive blood loss in that time could make a critical difference.

I also keep EMT shears in my car, and I love them. Your college student probably will as well because they are GREAT for cutting off the wristbands that you can get at special events. If you can find a stuffable sleeping bag or down jacket to include, that would be great because even big kids (young adults) tend to go out without a warm coat. Additional optional items include:

Include in the kit better food than standard emergency rations because they are less likely to turn up their noses and go hungry if they like the food. (Yes, in a real emergency they’ll eat anything – but it’s your child. Do you really want them going hungry because you gave them a beef stroganoff and they hate mushrooms?)

If your student is leery of GMO ingredients and perfers more natural meals, check out these.

Dorm Room emergency bag

The suggested items in this bag are in addition to the car bag. This kit should include a safe way to heat food, a mess kit they aren’t likely to pull out to use in their room (an empty plastic container with disposable utensils is good), and a face mask to help reduce viral infections.

Medical supplies

College kids may be far from home, but they’ll still get sick and injured. Travel size bottles of ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, etc. only contain a few pills and a big wad of cotton, but small bottles are better suited for small spaces. You can fill them from larger bottles.

Think about what medicines your child routinely needs at home.

  • cough and cold
  • fever reducing
  • headache medicine such as Tylenol
  • ibuprofen
  • Gas X
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Benadryl
  • thermometer

This may seem like overkill, but you won’t be there if, and when, they get sick. Include Benadryl even if your child doesn’t have any known allergies because they will be encountering new food and new airborne allergens.

In college, I remember going to work at a temp job with a fever that was easily 103 because the office had air conditioning, my apartment didn’t, and it never even occurred to me or my roommates that I could get medicine to reduce my fever. (I also lacked a thermometer.) If I had had medicine in my room, I would have taken it and stayed home.

They will need bandages of all sizes including knuckle and large sizes, and at least one Ace-style bandage, preferably two. A topical antibacterial for cuts should also be included. Neosporin is popular, but raw honey is increasingly popular and at least as effective.

Food and water

Best of luck keeping emergency food and water in a college student’s room, especially food. The reality is that they will end up eating it as a snack or because they either don’t want to go to the dining hall or are rushing to meet a forgotten deadline.  That doesn’t mean impossible, just challenging. On the other hand, if you restock them every time you visit, at least you know they have something other than (or in addition to) Ramen for those meals.

If they are like most kids, especially freshman, they will be on a meal plan and it will not allow them to take food back to their room from any all-you-can-eat buffets. (Again, good luck with that.) However, most will have other options that allow them to take their food with them, possibly including pre-packed options. If there is a true emergency and they need to evacuate, using their meal plan to get as much food as they can carry (and their plan allows) from one of those locations right before they leave is a smart plan.

A turkey sandwich won’t last long on a hot day, but it will last a lot longer when it’s cool outside or an insulated bag is used to carry it. If they have a supply of food, then they can share with friends going in the same direction. Easy to carry fruit, especially apples, is readily available in meal lines, as are oatmeal, breakfast cereal, and assorted meal replacement bars.

A stash of canned food under the bed isn’t a bad idea, either.

New areas, new natural disasters

Many young people go to college hours from home. Living in a different time zone isn’t unusual, and some students spend time abroad. All of this means they’re vulnerable to new types of threats. The new location may bring new natural disasters as well, and even the ones they grew up with may require a different response, especially if the new area is lot more urban or rural. Making sure they know the basics of how to handle these disasters should be your first step, and you should start working on it with them as soon as they graduate from high school, if not sooner.

The big headline-inducing disasters are the ones that come to mind first. If your child is moving to the Gulf Coast, hurricanes pop to mind. If they are going to California, then earthquakes bcome a new concern. Did you ever consider what they will do if there is a mudslide near their new home? Or a wildfire or flooding shuts down the highway? You may live in an area with four seasons, but if they go several hours farther north, are they really equipped (in gear and mindset) for how much colder the winter can be?

It is well beyond the scope of a single post to cover every possible natural disaster, but spend a little time searching for information about the area where they will be living. A chart of average monthly temps will give some good information, but a search on “school closings” for the local school district will tell you much more of what you need to know than simply looking at a map. Schools, especially elementary schools, close whenever the weather is considered too dangerous to drive or be out in. If the only closure was for weather at -15 degrees, that is a very different situation than a school district that closed for “poor air quality” due to wildfires or one that closed for excessive cold at 5 degrees (above zero) and heavy snow (4″).


College students need an evacuation plan beyond a mere dorm evacuation in the case of a fire. If your child had been in New Orleans when Katrina aproached or in Northridge when the quake hit, would they have known where to go and how to get there? Probably not. This book is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know when planning for an evacuation.

Work with your student to create a plan for them to get home if they have to evacuate ahead of an impending disaster and alternate routes to use if one is no longer safe. Laminate the evacuation routes and put it in their emergency (car) bag, along with physical maps (not electronic ones) for their entire route. They will undoubtedly think they don’t need paper maps because they have an app on their phone and GPS, but those can go down, or run out of batteries, in an emergency.

AAA provides free state, area, and city maps to their members. These are great for planning evacuation routes, as is a printed version of a MapQuest or other online set of directions. A topographic map is an outstanding resource for this because it shows terrain features as well as parks, campgrounds, and more. If there are places for them to stop en route, friends and family, campgrounds, public parks, etc., be sure to mark them on the map and talk about them in advance with your child. They may not remember, but at least you’ve tried. These NatGeo topographic maps are free and can easily be printed.

Before you laminate the map, write down how they should communicate with you, as described in this article about establishing a Disaster Communications Hub. Cell lines are usually clogged in an emergency. Text messages are far easier to get through, but I know I wouldn’t want to be checking every cell phone in the house for possible text messages from an out of state child. Telling them a specific phone to text, and an alternate if no one replies within a set time (ten minutes, an  hour, six hours – whatever you agree is reasonable) should make it easier to get in contact.

Just because our kids go off to college or move out on their own, doesn’t mean we ever stop worrying about them. If they’re prepped for a variety of emergencies, mom and dad will be able to rest just a little easier.

Prepper College Student


Welcome to National Preparedness Month! Now Get Ready!

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 National Prepareness Month

Every September is the official National Preparedness Month in the U.S. If you don’t have one of these special dates in your country, you can either establish one for yourself and your family or begin a letter-writing and petition campaign to convince  your government that one is needed.

Over the years of encouraging people to get prepared for everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios, I’ve always known that most people give the idea lip service. Knowing the importance of “getting prepped” is not very different from knowing that it’s better to be a healthy weight, eat right, drink lot of water, and exercise. We all KNOW that stuff. We just don’t all DO it.

And right there is what makes the difference between a family who is ready to quickly and quietly load up the car with supplies, the kids, and the pets and hightail it away from danger to one who either scrambles at the last minute, deep in the black zone and forgetting what to pack, like these folks did during the huge Fort MacMurray fires. Worse are those who are totally unaware until there IS  no escape. Honestly? Most people fall into those 2 latter categories.

I don’t want even one of my readers to be caught unaware by fire, flood, extreme weather, or any other type of disaster. (Take my 5-question Threat Assessment Quiz here to figure out what are the most likely dangers you face.) This blog is chock full of over 1700 articles, my family survival manual, Survival Momshould be on every family’s bookshelf (no kidding!), and my second book, Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When it Matters Most, details exactly what, when, where, and how you should evacuate from a dangerous situation.

I’ve worked hard over the years to provide you with the very best advice I could, but this last spring, I realized it hasn’t been enough. Most of you know you should prep, you read about prepping, maybe put a few things in place, and then get distracted by life, as I did myself earlier this year. When  that happens, you still are not ready, especially for a true worst case scenario. And what could those be? We don’t have to look very far to see examples all over the world — and please don’t lapse into normalcy bias and think, “It could never happen here.”

  • Venezuela, once the most prosperous country in South America, utterly collapses in economic turmoil, with empty food shelves, food riots, and desperate people.
  • Random terrorist attacks in places most would have considered safe.
  • A rising tide of anger and unrest, resulting in extreme and violent riots that sometimes last for days.
  • A government that can be slow to respond to true and desperate calamities, such as the flooding in Louisiana this summer. Did you realize this disaster is the third worst to hit our country after Katrina and Hurricane Sandy? I’ll bet you didn’t, since only scant attention was given in mainstream media. Federal response was described as “pitiful”.

I’m determined to never be one of the hungry, desperate moms lining up, or rioting!, just to get some bottled water and a bag of groceries. I’m far too independent-minded for that, and I’ll bet you are, too.

The Prepping Intensive

So, here’s what I’ve done so that you and your family are prepared for all types of scenarios. I created a 10-week live course, complete with actual classes, assignments, assessments, and…accountability! If you’re serious about getting yourself, your family, and your home prepped, you can’t afford to NOT take this class.

The timing is perfect! Not only is it the start of National Preparedness Month but the kids, and grandkids, are back in school. It really is the perfect time to direct your attention to something of vital and life-saving importance — and, you can teach what you learn to your other family members and friends.

The course covers just about everything:

  • Water and sanitation
  • A complete food storage education
  • Power outage readiness
  • Natural disaster preparedness
  • Survival when you’re away from home
  • Health and fitness for survival
  • Setting up a survival retreat no matter where you are
  • Worst case scenarios

We’ve covered all the bases but then we’ve brought in some amazing guest speakers for you:

We have more speakers scheduled, but you get the idea. If you’re wondering if you’ll be able to attend all these classes, each one is recorded and will be available to you, 24/7.

Here’s the Sneak Peek

I don’t expect you to plunk down  your registration fee without actually seeing what you’re buying. I’ve written too many articles about the importance of frugal living to want you to do that! So, if you would like to see a sample of one of our training modules, here you go!

And, we’ve expanded just a bit to offer more than a 10 week course (which you have access to for a year!). We’ve also created a separate Student Center for members only. This separate site has a forum, webinar recording archive, a Book of the Month Club (all prepper/apocalyptic/survival books — I promise!), and coming this fall, mini-courses you can take any time, 24/7. You get a 1-year membership to the Student Center with your class registration!

Check out the Student Center at this Sneak Peek link. Since this is all so new, we have a lot of room to grow, with lots of ideas for things that will help you get fully prepped. Just talking and thinking about it will never help you and your family survive.

We start on 9/11

Someone asked me if our start date of September 11, was significant in any way. The answer is no! We want you to take this course and take action, every single week, and then take a break just before Thanksgiving and the holiday season arrive.

However, this doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to sign up. Registration closes for good on September 18.

Click Here to Register

If you’ve ever wished  you could just TALK with someone about prepping and ask all your crazy questions, get expert advice on your own special circumstances — this was designed for you. Not only am I very active in the course, teaching a handful of classes myself, but Daisy Luther, author, blogger, and homesteader, is right there, too.

We want to help you get fully prepared for an uncertain future. Join our group of students today and start working through our Student Orientation to be ready for launch day, September 11. This is the perfect time for this!


*The course is fully detailed at this link, Preppers University.

P.S. If you can’t join us this time around, we have another session starting in January. Sign up here to get updates whenever new classes are starting AND to get our Prepping To Do List every month!

Define Your Disaster

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define your disasterUntil I seriously became a prepper, the most likely disasters in my life involved my nail tech quitting or my husband insisting on a homemade dinner! How times have changed. Now when I think of disasters, I’m thinking more along the lines of The End of Days scenarios with an unsettling feeling they could happen now, in my lifetime.

For which disaster, or disasters, should I prepare? These days of hard, uncertain times it’s a little like playing the odds. Hmmmmm, should I prepare for a nuclear attack? If so, I’ll need an enormous amount of sheet plastic, duct tape, and I read somewhere that you’re better protected from fall-out if you have a few feet of earth piled up against your outside walls. Our HOA would just love that!

But, really, is my very first concern a nuclear attack? No. The odds are much better for a dramatic increase in crime and riots in certain parts of our city or peaceful protests that suddenly become very violent. Even better odds favor a continued deep decline in our incomes, higher taxes, and possibly losing our home to foreclosure. It just makes sense to, first, define the most likely disasters, and then prepare for each as best you can. A comprehensive survival guide like this one makes this easy.

Define your disaster with this first step

Since the catastrophic event most likely to affect us is loss of income, that’s where my focus has been. Some time ago, I turned our spare room into a pantry, and my goal has been to store at least six month’s worth of food. This translates into a 6 month margin in which I wouldn’t have to spend money on groceries. I’ve also fought hard to save every penny I can.

If we lived in an area prone to earthquakes, that would be near the top of my priorities. Urban dwellers may put personal and home protection at the top of their lists.

If you’ve been into the survival mode for a while, life changes over time and so will your concerns and priorities. It’s worth taking a second look, now, to see if your prepping needs adjusting.

Here are a few possible disasters to consider.  Which ones are most likely to affect you?

Natural disasters — Mother Nature at her worst: wildfires, floods, earthquakes, drought, hurricanes, and more

Personal disastersloss of job, decreased work hours, illness or injury affecting your ability to work, your mother-in-law moving in

Nuclear events — including, but not limited to, an electromagnetic pulse and actual mushroom clouds

Terrorist attacks — use your imagination. Terrorists certainly do!

Social unrestriots, car-jackings, increased violent crimes of all types, prison escapes

War of any kind

Biological catastrophe — spread of diseases, either purposely or the natural spread of something contagious like Ebola

After thinking it over and talking with my husband, here is the list I wrote for our family.

1.  Loss of income
2.  Loss of home
3.  An event of any kind that occurs while my family members are scattered at different locations around the city
4.  Violent crime against my children, my husband, or myself
5.  Flooding
6.  Massive failure of the power grid

With some planning and prepping, you realize you have more control over how these events will affect your family than you might think. The key is to identify likely calamities and then take action. Fortunately, prepping for one event gives you a head start prepping for additional events, thus saving money and time.

Simply taking this step puts you light years ahead of millions of people, and I believe it will give you and your family some peace of mind no matter what happens.

What is Number One on your list?

Take this 5-Question Threat Assessment Quiz

Click here to download and print this assessment. This will walk you through the steps of identifying which disasters are top priority for you and then narrow them down to which one you should prepare for first. By the way, this assessment is just one feature offered at Preppers University. Click here to learn more and sign up for our next course!


Start getting prepared by defining the disaster that most threatens you and your family. 5-question quiz included.


Stock Spare Toilet Parts

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toiletsToilets are something that nobody talks about but that everyone needs. Oh sure, you could dig a hole in the back yard and do your business there, but who wants to do that? I mean you may have to do that, but why not plan on using that toilet as long as you possibly can. […]

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Seven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Prepping

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smart preppingHave you gotten bit by the prepper bug? Millions all over the world now consider themselves to be preppers.

I bet you’ve spent hours on the internet searching for the ultimate solar radio, the most comprehensive food storage inventory list or maybe which water filtration system to use. We have all been there, usually late at night by the warm glow of the computer screen.  I get it. I was and still am the same way. As with all new endeavors, we learn as we go and gain knowledge from our experience. There were some things I do wish I had known when I started.

  1. Rotation, rotation, rotation

I do not want to think about all of the food I have thrown away. Is life really that busy that I forget to rotate? I do not remember even buying minestrone soup 6 years ago! Rotating food is one thing I really struggled with. After time I have found what works for our home.

  • Store 3 months of food that you normally eat in easily accessible places. Kitchen cupboards, the pantry and extra shelves if you have the space for them. This way, you don’t forget what you have, as in “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Move large items (crockpots, holiday kitchen items, etc.) to a different part of the house to make more room for food in your kitchen. If you see it, you will cook with it.
  • Plan meals from what you have in your cupboard. It will remind you of what you have and need to use.
  • If you have an additional freezer, organize it by food type. Chicken on one shelf, pork on another, fruits and vegetables in the bins. This method will let you know what you eat more of and allows you to adjust your shopping and menus accordingly, and yes, I do keep some ‘food storage’ food in my freezer.
  • Rotate the items in your car kits, bug out bags and work bag. Extreme hot and cold can make some items go bad, taste odd or expire earlier than thought.
  1. Smart prepping is trying it out first

Speaking from experience I can tell you that putting a new camp stove together in the dark with hungry kids around is not fun. How hard could it be to put a new stove together, right? After a few frustrating experiences with new things, I have learned to try things our first. Some things we have learned to try out:

  • Food that looked good on the label were not always as tasty. Certain brands we no longer buy. Store what you like to eat, but be sure to try it out first.
  • Try new foods out at home, not over the camp fire or in an emergency. If it works, you know right then and there! If it does not, you can prepare something else for dinner or enjoy take out.
  • Directions on the box are not always as clear when assembling anything the first time. We have made purchases where there were no directions included or they were in a language none of us spoke. That is when the internet came in handy. You can download and print out instruction manuals but this would be difficult, if not impossible, under duress, such as a power outage.
  • Sometimes parts are missing. It is better to take something back to the store sooner than later.
  • The first few times you practice an evacuation drill, it will be a disorderly mess. It is during those drills that you learn what you are forgetting and gives you the chance to practice. This drill is what now reminds us to store our computer files and pictures on an external hard drive.
  • Eat a meal or two from your bug out bag. It can be life changing. Eat a meal or two without your kitchen appliances. Use your grill, solar oven, etc.…
  • Wash your clothes by hand. Learn how to dry and hang clothes on a clothes line properly. Here are tips for taking care of laundry during a power outage.
  • Camping/survival gear should be used first in a non-emergency situation. The four room tent that we purchased was easier to set up in the back yard in the middle of the day than it would have been if we were in a stressful situation. I keep at least one tent on hand for possible using indoors during a winter power outage. Here’s more info about that.
  1. Store more water than you think

Water has been stored in every room in my home. Under sinks and in closets are the usual hiding places, but I’ve been pretty creative in finding other spaces. What is surprising is how often they have been used.

Water to our house has been turned off for repairs, more times than I want to remember. During these time we have always been shocked at the amount of water we used. Thankfully it was not in a time of emergency. Nevertheless, we opened more bottles than we thought we would. It was a real eye-opener at the amount of water needed to support a household. Even if there is an emergency and you conserve the amount of water used, you will need more than you realize. We found that during our non-emergency times, water was used for:

  • Washing hands after bathroom use
  • Flushing toilet (only #2)
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Wiping down counters, stove, table, sink
  • Washing hands during meal prep, especially after touching meat
  • Drinking, making drinks
  • Water needed for making food and rehydrating freeze-dried and dehydrated food
  • Washing hands that just got dirty

Lesson learned. You use more water for more things than you probably realize.

  1. Remembering to pack and update bug out bags

I remember being so excited to have our bug out bags organized, labeled and perfectly packed. I was beaming with pride as I put them in the closet. And that is where they stayed for a very long time. Cleaning them out years later was a bit discouraging. So we came up with a plan!

The first weekend of April and October we update our bags. In April, we replace anything that is close to its expiration date. This is usually food and medical items. In April the warmer winter clothes are replaced with summer clothes. In October we go through again and put back our winter wear. During this time we go through the home and check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and stock up on batteries for our radios and flashlights.

Print out this list of things to consider packing in your bags/kits.

  1. Set money aside each month

It is easy to let your enthusiasm for prepping take over your bank account. Looking back, I would have set a specific amount of money aside each month. It gives you the opportunity to save for larger items if needed. Having money for this purpose allows you to take advantage of clearance items or great sales you may run across. Once we practiced this in our home, my husband and I felt we were more in sync with each other on preparing our family.

Buying that four room tent, on clearance, was much more thrilling because we knew the money was already there for the purchase. It does not matter how much you can afford to save. Every bit counts and it adds up. Find time to go over your budget and decide how much of your funds you can put in an envelope towards your prepping.

  1. Store books

I have realized that the more I learn, the more I forget. The internet is so dependable when I need answers, so why try to remember everything? But what happens when there is not electricity or access to the internet?

Over the last 15 years I have been collecting books that I can lean on when an emergency happens. The books vary in topic, preserving food, medical manuals, old cookbooks, knot tying, animal trapping, psychological health and physical fitness, and making shelters. Included are books that can help me mentally and emotionally get through difficult times. Some of these are self-help and motivational books, a journal, a Bible and other religions materials. Many of these books are inexpensive and can be found at thrift stores and online. The Red Cross has a lot of their manuals on their web site that you can download and print out. Some cities also offer free materials to the community.

Dr. Joe Alton’s book, The Survival Medicine Handbook is a must-have, as is this complete family survival guide.

  1. Teach/train family

Having five kids, it did not take long to figure out that I can do things faster without help. Not only faster, but the right way with less mess. Much of the preparedness took place after they were in bed and I could get something done, uninterrupted. Looking back I wish I would have involved my children even more in preparing. Around the age of 8, they were helping with bug out bags and little ones were helping in the garden. But I did not include them in other areas of preparedness. If I could go back I would include them more in:

The kids have turned out fine, considering their lack of involvement in the beginning. Though difficult and time consuming, it is better to include them in as much of the preparation as possible. Habits are created and lessons are learned during those moments that cannot be re-created at other times.

Check out this list of 32 practical skills for kids and urban survival skills.

As the children became teens, they lost the child-like enthusiasm to help. Not surprising. Involving the family in outside activities that teach your kids preparedness skills can help to. Thankfully, the Scouting program was there for my sons to reinforce the “Be Prepared” things we were doing at home. Classes and service projects in your community can provide an occasion to learn new skills and put into practice the ones you have. Remember to include your children when doing:

  • Home repairs
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Gardening/food preservation
  • Laundry and sewing
  • Menu planning and shopping
  • Budgeting and some financial matters

smart prepping



10 Non-Edibles for Your Emergency Stash

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non edibles emergency stash

While not exactly edible, stocking up on these ten items will make everyday life more comfortable, whatever your emergency.


Picture this.  You’ve been in your bunker for three weeks.  Sponge baths are a rare treat.  Then you remember your stash of Secret anti-perspirant.  Ahhhh….. instant morale booster, especially if shared.

Feminine products  
Periods don’t stop for something trivial like a nuclear war.  A six month’s stash of tampons, especially o.b., won’t take up much room, and will greatly improve your quality of life. However, a much better option, by far, is a menstrual cup, such as the Diva Cup that I review here.

Small items for entertainment
Choose multi-use toys and games.  Playing cards or Play-Dough, for example. Yard sales, dollar stores, and thrift shops are all very good places to buy these. They’ll keep kids busy during stressful times and will provide diversions for the adults in the group.

Bar soap

In a pinch it can be used for shampoo and even laundry. Buy a variety of soaps, including some that do not have a lot of extra dye or perfume added. You should also stock up on classic laundry soaps, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. These are terrific as stain removers and as an ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.

Zip-Loc bags of all sizes

These can’t be beat for everything from a tooth for the Tooth Fairy to containing nuclear waste, aka dirty diapers.
Rope for a clothesline and clothes pins.  Air-dried laundry smells and feels so clean and crisp.  It may become your preferred method of drying, even after the electricity comes on, and of course there’s the added benefit of being oh-so-Green!

A pack of never-before-opened underwear for each family member

This is something that most folks will overlook in their zeal to stock up on freeze-dried food and ammo, but sooner or later, the kids are going to outgrow theirs and mom and dad will appreciate having a nice, fresh set. Ditto for bras.

Battery-powered CD player & CDs
There’s just something about beautiful music for defusing tension and calming nerves. I put this in the category of “Sanity” when it comes to packing emergency kits and making survival preps at home.

Tylenol PM
Seriously.  Do you really want to be 100% conscious wrapped up in your silver emergency blanket, huddled in the back seat of your mini-van for hours?

Toilet paper

While it’s true you can’t stock up on enough toilet paper to last indefinitely, but you can stock up on a year’s worth. I’ve done it. Use coupons and store sales to bring the price down. Keep track of how many rolls your household uses in a month, multiply by 12, and you’ll know about how many rolls you’ll need. Some have argued in favor of using cloth wipes in lieu of TP, and this isn’t a bad idea in general, but it will require the ability to bring a few gallons of water to a boil at least 2-3 times per week, and then dispose of the resulting “black water” in an area that won’t contaminate ground water or growing, food-bearing plants.

Preparing for natural disasters, nuclear war, complete societal breakdown, doesn’t mean we have to lose our sense of humor. In fact, your sense of humor should be #1 on this list! Don’t ever hunker down in your bunker without it!

This article was originally posted in June, 2009 and has been updated.

non edibles emergency stash (2)

The Year I Stopped Prepping and Why I Started Again

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stop preppingI was the first person to become a prepper in my fairly large family. Among my husband’s family and huge extended family, he was the first prepper.

As far as I know, after almost 8 years, we are still the only preppers, with one lone exception.

It’s not something we talk about with anyone. Loved ones on both sides are busy with their own lives, playing computer games, dealing with office politics, and all the thousands of distractions that are a part of daily life for all of us.

For the past year or so, I, too, became a non-prepper.

Yep, The Survival Mom, “Queen of the Preppers”, as I’ve been called, just didn’t prep. If it hadn’t been for my monthly auto-ship from Thrive Life, my food storage pantry would have been neglected completely.

Why? Life got in the way. I took on the task of coordinating a new co-op for homeschooled high school kids, got involved with my kids’ sports activities and driving for hours each week taking them to practices and games. I was busy running the blog and writing about prepping, but in total honesty, prepping became the furthest thing from my mind and I didn’t do any prepping.

There’s a huge difference between reading about survival and preparedness and actually taking action.

You would think that I would have noticed the gathering storm clouds. During that year, the economy did not get better. The political status of our country became more volatile than ever. My small city was surrounded by historic flooding — and there I was, as much of a non-prepper as the average fun-seeker at Disneyland.

Temporary insanity? Possibly.

What kicked me back into gear

Facebook can be a funny thing. I have a love/hate relationship with it most days, but it was a post featuring an interview with author Matt Bracken that reminded me of why I started prepping and why I’d better get back into the game.

For a few years, I have been a fan of Matt. He’s written a number of common sense books and essays about possible collapse scenarios right here in the U.S., and because his thought process is logical and he pays no heed to political correctness, I pay attention when he talks.

I’ve never forgotten his vivid description of a potential scenario in which innocent commuters become trapped by angry rioters in a scenario of economic collapse because it’s one I can easily envision:

Rioters will throw debris such as shopping carts and trash cans into the intersection, causing the more timid drivers to pause. The mobs will swarm the lines of trapped cars once they have stopped. Traffic will be forced into gridlock for blocks in all directions. Drivers and passengers of the wrong ethnic persuasions will be pulled from their vehicles to be beaten, robbed, and in some cases raped and/or killed. It will be hyper-violent and overtly racial mob behavior, on a massive and undeniable basis.

Some of those trapped in their cars will try to drive out of the area, inevitably knocking down MUY (Minority Urban Youths) pedestrians and being trapped by even more outraged MUYs. The commuters will be dragged out of their cars and kicked or beaten to death. Other suburban commuters will try to shoot their way out of the lines of stopped cars, and they will meet the same grim fate once they run out of bullets and room to escape.

The mob will be armed with everything from knives, clubs and pistols to AK-47s. A bloodbath will result. These unlucky drivers and their passengers will suffer horribly, and some of their deaths will be captured on traffic web cameras. Later, these terrible scenes will be released or leaked by sympathetic government insiders and shown by the alternative media, which continue to expand as the traditional media become increasingly irrelevant.

Grim, in the extreme, but as Matt continues developing this scenario, he describes how quickly social media and the use of technology can bring these crowds together and, just as quickly, disperse them, sending them to a different intersection far enough away to elude law enforcement, who arrive too late. You can read his entire essay, “When the Music Stops — How America’s Cities May Explode in Violence.”

Even if he’s just half right…

The riots at recent Trump rallies have made his scenarios even more believable.

So, several weeks ago, when my Facebook newsfeed featured an interview with Matt on the Alex Jones show, I settled down in the corner of my sofa to listen. His observations were pretty much what my gut had started to tell me. The current tumultuous political season is likely to grow worse with demonstrations, riots, and violence becoming more frequent andd extreme, with the status of the U.S. economy teetering on the brink.

As Matt talked, I began to feel again that old “fire in the belly”. An urge to get up and do something — anything to make my family and our home more secure. So, I told my son to go around the house and round up all our flashlights! Yeah, it wasn’t much, but it was a tiny step to begin checking up on all the preps we have in place. We checked the batteries of those flashlights and then made sure every room in the house and each emergency kit (bug out bag) had at least one of them in place.

We next took out our bug out bags and began going through them. My daughter had packed hers last year before she lost a few pounds, and we found that she needed a different change of clothes in a smaller size. My walking shoes needed new shoelaces and snacks we had packed so long ago, just needed to be thrown out and replaced.

It wasn’t so much that the flashlights were a do or die for our future survival and my daughter could have easily worn those too-big clothes. What was important was the change in my own mindset and then, taking action. Starting with small, basic steps clears the way for more small steps, and, ultimately, that’s what prepping is about.

Priorities, priorities

Just about the same time as Matt’s interview attracted my attention, I was able to step away from the co-op that I had helped found. It’s on solid ground now, with some excellent teachers and eager students ready to start classes in the fall. I’m blessed that I was able to help construct something that will impact dozens of young lives, but my role in that venture ended, and, really, the timing was perfect.

Matt wasn’t the only voice I heard that urged me into a new phase of my prepping. Others have contacted me with insights into our economy and political status and their warnings ring true.

So now I’m back. I’m in the phase of evaluating our preps. What are the steps we’ve taken so far? What have we neglected? Have we done too much in one area and not enough in another?

As I’ve gotten back on track, it occurred to me that there must be hundreds of thousands of other preppers who also have seen warning signs. They don’t expect the government, at any level, to come to their rescue in a big enough crisis. They figure they’ll be on their own, whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or devaluation of the dollar that hits.

And they’re right.

Help is on the way if you’ve stopped prepping

Probably the smartest people right now in America and beyond are those who have realized that it’s their responsibility to have the plans and preps in place to survive. If you’re in that group, congratulations! While much of the world is focused on the drama of the day served with a smile by the mainstream media, you’re focused on learning about water and food storage, growing your own food, and how to not be a victim, if at all possible.

Like me, though, maybe you’ve lost your way. Your good intentions have been neglected because of life, or maybe you forgot why you were prepping in the first place. Maybe you look at your buckets of wheat and Berkey water filter and feel a little guilty because that money could have been spent elsewhere.

You need a nudge to get going again.

Because of my own return to prepping, I wanted to find a way to help others like me, including brand new preppers. The idea of a summer class, kind of like a prepping boot camp, was born and with the help of my friend and fellow blogger, Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper, we developed 10-weeks of prepping classes we’re calling “Summer Prepping Intensive” (SPI).

This course isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for those who are ready to commit to attending 1 or 2 training webinars a week and then checking in with their fellow preppers in an interactive Sunday Night Check-In. It’s for those who will take the weekly To Do lists and determine to complete as many of the activities as possible. Maybe SPI is for you.

You can learn all about the benefits of becoming a member of SPI at this website, and for about the cost of one fast food meal per week, you’ll have access to everything: Facebook chats, weekly giveaways, printables, article resources, Q&A with experts such as Michael Snyder, Tess Pennington, herbalist Cat Ellis, Fernando Aguirre (FerFAL), NRA instructor Cherie Norton, Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, and more.

It’s a unique program and comes at a great price, $99.

If you’ve wandered away from prepping, for any reason, I encourage you to pause and assess where your time is going. Has the busy-ness of life distracted  you from the need to prepare your home, family, vehicles, and yourself for an uncertain future? You’ll find thousands of resources right here on this blog, but if you need accountability and desire interaction with other preppers and experts, please check out SPI. Latecomers are welcome, but our first session is on Sunday, June 19.

stop prepping


Life Happens: How to Prep Again When You’ve Lost Everything

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When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.

I remember the night so clearly. It was the end of an emotionally exhausting day. My husband and I were lying in bed, holding hands, feeling like it was the only thing we had to hold on to. He sighed and said, “The life that I am living doesn’t seem like mine. Everything we are going through seems like something that happens to someone else, not us.” I could not argue with him, he was right. We were watching much of our life around us crumble and there was not much we could do to prevent it. We had to wait until the crumbling stopped and we could re-build.

Our family was experiencing hardships of almost every kind. We had to move from our home, close a business, and we had nowhere to live. The foster child we were in the process of adopting mentally went off the deep end. For the physical safety of our family, we immediately moved him out, and this caused more legal and emotional trauma than we could have imagined.

One of our cars died; it was not worth fixing. A friend loaned us an extra vehicle he had. We stayed at my sister’s home until we could find a place to rent. Moving to a new area where we didn’t know anyone was just another stress. Our other car was beginning to have problems. Our savings were low. We were living paycheck to paycheck and our food storage was almost depleted.

Some of the chaos was our fault. We did not prepare as much as we thought we had or think some decisions through completely. The other chaos was called life. We had no control over the economy, other people and their actions, nature, or health issues. Even thinking about that time brings back some of the overwhelming feelings we had. Our family was working on getting our footing first, then rebuilding our emergency supplies. We learned many difficult and painful lessons along the way, and we came out of it much smarter and stronger than we could have imagined. Life will always throw us curve balls, but we are more prepared to handle them now. As a family we have become the “better prepper”.

How to start prepping from scratch

1) You can never have too much money saved.

There will always be something unexpected come up, and it will come up at the worst time, always. We kept a mason jar around for loose change. I remember using it to buy $85 of groceries. As things got better, we worked our way up to a dollar jar. We were surprised to see how fast the jars filled up. Those jars were what helped us build up our emergency money. They are still in use and are a reminder to keep change and cash on hand. Not only in our home, but also in our bug out bags and cars.

To raise additional funds, we sold items we did not need. We started cleaning out what we had and decided what we could live without. At the time, it was difficult to see some things go. Knowing that we were doing everything we could eased some of the pain. It was a few years later that I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. Being prepared means having a healthy savings account and we decided to try his baby steps plan. That was the beginning of the way we now handle our finances. Go over your finances and make certain you have enough to get you through an emergency.

Here are a few Survival Mom resources for you:

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Print out my collection of tracking charts at this link.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 3600 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

2) Have 3 months of food stored.

Money was tight and we ate our food storage. Our meals were inexpensive and home-cooked. Everything was used, nothing was thrown out. Soups were made with left over vegetables, meat was stretched by putting it in casseroles and salads. Knowing how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch was a skill I possessed, but had taken for granted.

To supplement our food storage, I took advantage of additional opportunities. Many communities have some type of food co-op program where food is exchanged for volunteering hours or food is deeply discounted. The local university offered in-season produce grown by the students at $90 a year. My husband put in a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and bell peppers. Our neighbor was more than happy to give us oranges and lemons from her trees. Lemons were prepped and kept in the freezer for future meals.

DON’T MISS THIS: Survival Mom’s guide, “Simple Food Storage Meals“.

As things improved and finances allowed, we purchased meat and canned goods that were on sale. Our 3 month food supply of food, water, and everyday living supplies was built up a few items at a time. Nothing causes you to evaluate your food storage than having to use it. Store food you are going to eat and enjoy. This includes cake mix!

3) Education: I attended the local adult education school.

After only a few months I was employed as a certified nursing assistant. A few months later I was a certified EKG technician. This experience slowly morphed into a small business. Being self-employed allowed me to make good money and go back to school for my BA. I knew I did not want to do this type of work as a career, but I do not regret the certifications.

Being a prepper, I understood that it was an education that could someday benefit my family and others. Always look for ways to increase your education and preparation. It could be an Amateur Radio license class, CERT classes, and local adult education or community classes. Adding other streams of income is the key.

4) If full time employment is not possible, look for a short term solution.

Something as simple as a dog-walking, house-sitting, substitute teaching, or other temporary jobs can get you through a rough patch. If you already have a full time job, look for other part time income streams. Is there a skill or hobby that you teach to others? What knowledge or experiences do you possess that can be turned into a small business?

5) Physical and Mental Health

Even though we did not go through a natural disaster or suffer extreme trauma, we still experienced a large amount of stress. Stress takes a great toll on your body. Glucose levels and blood pressure can increase. Our immune systems can take a hit, making you at risk for auto-immune and cardiac disorders. To off-set the negative impact of the stress, our family focused on cutting out processed foods and switched to a whole food diet. We spent time walking, swimming and hiking outdoors.

Mental health is sometimes overlooked in the prepper world. The pressure of trying to put life back together can be overwhelming. The effort used to get through or get by can push aside feelings of anxiety or depression. Sundays have always been used as a day to decompress for our family. When there were times of difficulty, we focused even more on keeping Sunday low-key. We attended church and did not obligate ourselves to anything else. We read books, watched uplifting movies, played games together and rested. This down time allowed us to face the next week with a renewed attitude.

Along with family time, my husband and I continued to have our weekly date night. Since there was not much money, we could often be found having a picnic at a park or attending free activities in town. Maintaining strong and healthy relationships is part of being prepared. Two people, or a family of more, can work together and get through trying times if their family has trust and communication between each other.

6) Faith

We are a religious family, it is part of who we are and it is our family culture’s main ingredient. During the good and bad times, we pray. This simple act has sustained us, and has given us the strength to get through difficult times. It has also given us hope that things will get better and that we are not alone in this journey. Prayer holds us accountable. When I pray for guidance, I am reminded that I need to be doing my part. Am I a wise steward with my money, time and resources? Prayer helps put things in their proper prospective and reminds us of the blessings we have been given.

For those who are not religious, it is important to take time meditate or connect with one’s self. There is much to be thankful for, even in trying times. Center yourself and be open to opportunities and possibilities. Great ideas and solutions can come when the world is quiet and we are alone. Write down any ideas, even if they sound a bit crazy. They can transform into brilliant ideas.

Life Always Happens

Through all of this, we were able rebuild our food storage, savings and emergency supplies. Our financial situation was good, and education and jobs were going well. Life was to be going great! And then another curve ball was thrown. My husband’s employer was replacing all management employees. We had a little bit of notice, but not as much as one would hope. After a brief moment of panic, we realized that we were going to be okay. Together we had been through such challenging times, this did not seem as difficult. Because of the experiences we had many years earlier, we were better prepared. During those four months of unemployment, we adopted a daughter, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, witnessed our son’s wedding, had a beautiful reception on a shoestring budget, and prepped two kids leaving for college. We were able to enjoy all of the happy family events because we were prepared.

When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.


What Are Your Prepper Limitations?

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prepper limitationsMany years ago I was in an entirely different career in which I managed and trained more than 200 sales reps for a national company. As part of my position, I attended some truly excellent executive training sessions, intended to help me become more efficient and effective.

One principle I learned that I’ve never forgotten is this:

Identify your weaknesses and hire people to do those tasks for you. Concentrate doing what you do best.

Well, I’ve finally figured out how to apply that principle to prepping and dealing with my own prepper limitations: Figure out my strengths as a prepper and look to others to provide the support I need to shore up weaknesses. When I fret over what I don’t have or what I can’t do, prepping begins to look like it’s too hard, takes too much time, or is impossible in my circumstances.

However, anyone can prep, and I do mean anyone. No, not everyone will have the bug out bunker in Idaho, equipped with a year’s worth of food, but that isn’t the best scenario for most people, anyway. I know a very smart, fully prepped single woman in her early 60’s, who lives in a fortified condo! She’s confident she can protect what she has, and when it comes to food and supplies, she has plenty!

So what prepper limitations cause you to feel intimidated or even stall you on your journey to be prepared for everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios? Do any of these sound familiar?

Time limitations

Few of us can truthfully say, “I have way too much time on my hands.” Each of us have exactly 24 hours in a day. Divvy that up between sleep, household chores, a job, caring for kids, running errands, preparing for and cleaning up after meals, take care of pets and other animals, and no, there really isn’t a whole lot of extra time each day!

Another aspect of time limitations when it comes to prepping is feeling as if there is so much prepping to do and you may not be fully prepared when one disaster or another hits.

Skill limitations

Once you venture into the prepper world, you quickly learn that having an extensive skill set is pretty much required. It’s impossible to have too many skills but the problem for many of us is, which are the most important? After all, we don’t want to jeopardize our lives or those of our loved ones because we are missing that One Vital Skill.

“We would all still be alive if only our prepper had known how to ….”

The truth is, no one single person knows all the skills necessary to survive any and all perilous scenarios. The most rugged mountain man living off-grid for decades might find himself at death’s door because he didn’t know how to properly can food.

WHICH SKILLS TO LEARN? Click here to read my exhaustive list of important prepper skills.

Knowledge limitations

Along with skills, knowledge is a key to being prepared. While most knowledge leads to skills, the practical application of know-how, there’s a lot to be said for just having head knowledge. Knowing which foods are best to store, where to pitch a tent, and how to homeschool kids of different ages.

Naturally, no one can ever know everything, and that can be frustrating when it comes to prepping and survival. Do you know enough to survive and, if not,what should you learn first?

Physical limitations

One limitation that affects most every family is that of physical ability. We’ve all experienced a sprained ankle, broken bone, strained back, or some other injury that affected our ability to accomplish everyday tasks. When those limitations are long-term, even permanent, it definitely affects the ability to handle emergencies.

Hearing and vision impairments, chronic illnesses, and even the affects of aging limit what we can do to prep. The fact is, physical strength and energy are needed to be prepared and then to survive.

Financial limitations

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work and families are scrambling to make ends meet. Prepping doesn’t require spending money, but, let’s face it, at some point there are expenses. No, you don’t need an expensive water filter or premium freeze-dried food, but even less expensive options require money.

READ MORE: Faced with financial limitations? Check out my super-frugal tips series:

The “I just don’t want to do it” limitation

Finally, there may be something you know you need to do, but you just don’t want to do it! Maybe you loathe canning (I’m not a big fan, myself), maybe you’ve always hated fishing, or maybe, you just feel lazy! That Grab-n-Go Binder? You’re in no mood to track down dozens of different documents that are scattered all over the house and in the attic.

There are probably important prepping steps you know you should take but you’ve procrastinated.

You just don’t want to do it!

Fair enough, but it’s a limitation all the same.

Pick a solution to your prepper limitations

Regardless of which limitation, or limitations, are your biggest hurdles, the work-around solutions are fairly simple:


It’s highly possible that all of the must-haves and must-do’s on your list may not be all that important. For example, buying that expensive Berkey, which is recommended by every prepper expert, after all, may not be the most important next step for you if you just don’t have the money. Learning how to can is a great skill to have, but if you don’t have the time, buy store-bought canned food, for now.

If you’re feeling pressured because you don’t have the time, the money, the space, the skills…take a step back and catch your breath. Maybe whatever it is that you’re feeling pressured to do isn’t necessary after all.

If your To Do list seems a mile long, pick just 1 or 2 tasks to take care of and forget the others, for now.

Hire someone

Although I’ve been blogging for 7 years, there are many, many important technical skills that I don’t have. I couldn’t code if my life depended on it. So, I hire people to do those things for me. My daughter creates all my graphics and earns $8 a piece.

If you identify the limitations that are most bothersome, ask yourself, is this something I could delegate to someone who does have the time, the money, the skills, the space, etc? You don’t necessarily have to pay cash, either. Could you swap childcare or offer the talents and skills you have in exchange?

Train kids/family members

If you have good friends and family members, there’s no need to go down the prepper road alone. Enlist their help, even if you don’t care to share why a certain task is important.

In his book Will to Live, Les Stroud shared the story of a family stranded out in the ocean. For unknown reasons, the father refused to teach his son or wife how to catch or clean a fish or do any number of other tasks that would help the family survive. Like that dad, you may be highly competent, but at some point, you’ll need assistance and teaching others the skills and knowledge you have will help overcome the limitations of time and physical ability, in particular.

Decide if expectations are too high

Is it possible that you’ve set a bar too high in your diligence to become prepared? Are your expectations unrealistic? Ask yourself, “What is the bare minimum we need to survive a natural disaster or some other likely event?” Make sure that “bare minimum” is in place first before fretting about having a rural bug out location or some souped-up vehicle to get you and your loved ones out of Dodge.

One chunk at a time

You may not have the money for a year’s worth of freeze-dried food, but could you afford 2 or 3 #10 cans per month? Maybe you don’t have time to take a master gardening class, but how about signing up for a Udemy class to learn some new gardening skills? You might not be physically fit enough right now to walk a long distance, but could you start an at-home walking program for beginners?

Any task becomes easier when it’s broken into small chunks. This is helpful for procrastinators, like me!

Find an alternative

If you really don’t like canning, then learn how to dehydrate food. Don’t want to take an in-depth first aid class? Then assign that to a family member or two while you take a class in a different area.

Final step: What do you do best?

By now you know what your prepper limitations are, but what are your strengths? Go ahead and delegate, hire, re-prioritize — do whatever needs to be done, but remember to keep doing what you do best! Your strengths might even open the door for a way to earn extra money, either by teaching others that skill or by producing a product or service that others need and will purchase.

There’s no need for prepper limitations to jeopardize your safety and well-being when an everyday emergency or worst case scenario hits the fan.

Learn more about prepping with these resources

prepper limitations

BBC’s Wartime Farm: A Preparedness Review

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wartime farm review

If you love modern history, homesteading, and all things survivalist/ preparedness, and have run out of series to binge-watch on Netflix, may I humbly suggest to you BBC’s Wartime Farm?

Wartime Farm is an eight-part documentary series released in 2012 that chronicles the adventures of a team of archeologists and historians who run a farm in Southampton, England, the way that it would have been run during the early 1940s during the second world war. They wear period clothing, use period machinery, and eat period meals. Along the way, the main cast explores rationing, the technology available during the period, as well as the socio-political aspects of the war. If you are interested in emergency preparedness, even if the war itself has no interest for you, this show is a goldmine of wisdom. History tells us that if it can happen once, it can happen again, and there but for the Grace of God go we.

This type of show is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to admit that it takes a certain degree of talent to make plowing, sewing, and laundry interesting – especially eight hours of it.

Other topics covered:

  1. Washing hair with soapwort
  2. Raising rabbits
  3. Building a temporary structure out of bales of hay
  4. Making silage
  5. Cooking lots of depressing 1940s-era meals (this era must be where Britain got is reputation for cuisine)
  6. Plucking chickens
  7. Rat extermination

All this, and more! And it’s engaging and interesting enough that I was inspired to actually go out and buy soapwort seeds so I could copy what I saw on television.

Reliance on Farming During the War

“The plow was the farmer’s principle weapon of war.”

Every episode opens with this statement from one of the cast members. Farming became a reserved occupation during the War, which meant that farmers were exempt from the draft. Prior to the War, two-thirds of all Britain’s food was imported, so when the German submarines enforced a blockade, the British knew they’d have to more than double food production or starve.

Britain’s farmers had many tricks up their sleeve in order to meet the demand. These included using prisoners of war as agricultural workers and plowing up any teeny bits of irregularly-shaped land that could be found. Because farmers could not grow hay, they fed their animals things like beet tops, nettles, and the weeds that grow in churchyards.

In modern America, people choose to be thrifty in order to save money. In Wartime Britain, people had to be thrifty because there were no other options, period. You had to make every last scrap of everything count because even if you had money, you could not go out to the store to buy more of it.


“Make Do And Mend”

If you could condense the series into one phrase, it would be this one. Here’s a perfect example: the farm simulated preparations made for receiving evacuees from London. To do this, the cast had to fix up some of the out buildings and make them habitable, but the roofs had holes in them. Buying tiles for repairing the roofs was out of the question because all the factories that used to make tiles are now making munitions. So what do you do? You pull out some rusty machines that were obsolete in the ’20s and make tiles in your backyard! And then you distill some hard cider while you’re at it. Most of the show seems to consist of dealing with rusty machinery, come to think of it. And the rest of it entails resurrecting trade skills – like blacksmithing – that hadn’t been used in decades.

In this way, the series almost serves as a call to action. The way Wartime Farm tells it, possessing skills that were widely considered “obsolete” is what saved Britain. If there hadn’t been people around who knew how to use those ancient tile-making machines and how to build a kiln to fire them, what would you have done? With little clothing available for purchase, how else would you have clothed yourself or your children if you didn’t have any sewing ability?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my son’s favorite segment. As part of the Christmas episode, one of the guys makes a toy airplane out of a tin can and some roofing nails. My six-year-old thinks this is the height of technology, and has often asked us to make him an identical plane out of our many empty #10 cans. That we lack the tools and knowledge to do so makes us, in his view, somewhat lacking as parents. But more importantly, the necessity of having to make a toy out of a tin can at all highlights the differing attitudes towards toys between then and now.

Today, children have more toys than they know what to do with, and people make jokes about how a child’s playthings reproduce at night until the house is completely overrun. Many children in 1940s Britain witnessed their homes being destroyed and their families torn apart. Something as simple as a tin can airplane would have been an absolute treasure.

Not All Was Sunshine and Rainbows

The final episode briefly touches on some of the negative consequences of the farming methods employed during the war. British farmers couldn’t afford to use their land to grow feed for livestock because it was needed to grow food for humans. As a result, a great number of animals were culled. In agriculture today we refer to “rare breeds” of livestock – this event is why so many breeds of farm animals are considered “rare.”

The war also introduced a number of government farm-related regulations that were arguably necessary given the circumstances, but in the United States we would consider them abhorrent examples of government overreach. The Ministry of Agriculture had the power to grade farms based on their efficiency, and if you failed inspection, the government had the power to take your farm away and give it to someone else. After the war, people had the opportunity to vote on whether to keep the new regulations or dispense with them. The voters ultimately decided to keep the regulations.

In addition to the TV series, the cast wrote a book entitled Wartime Farm, which is alsoavailable for purchase. The series itself is only available as a set of region 2 DVDs on Amazon, but and can be found on YouTube. If you enjoy Wartime Farm, you should also check out additional series done by the same people: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Tudor Monastery Farm.


wartime farm review

5 Steps to Creating a Culture of Self-Reliance in Your Family

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teaching self-relianceWe have all known people who save everything. My grandmother is one of them. If there are four green beans left in the pot, she puts them in the freezer. I remember one specific visit with her, 27 years ago, where she asked me to get her a bowl of ice cream. What I thought was the container of vanilla ice cream was actually a container of saved bacon grease.

Fast forward to today. She is now 96 years old, and still saving every last morsel and dollar. Grandma grew up during the Great Depression; those habits, ingrained in her when young, are still manifest today. The family snickers a little bit about it, but we know she will not outlive her money or her things. Isn’t there something reassuring about that? She has always worked hard at being self-reliant. Will our children be able to do the same?

As I watch the news and look around me, I wonder if another Depression wouldn’t do us some good. It wasn’t too long ago when life wasn’t so convenient. Many in our society have lost the mindset that our grandparents had. We have instant and immediate food, entertainment, communication, and information. Many feel that things will always be as good as they are now, but history does repeat itself. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do is prepare the next generation for whatever may arise.

Like those who have habits from the depression, you can make self-reliance and preparedness a part of your family culture. One of the most effective ways to do this is to live it every day. Whether we have children of our own or are involved in an organization such as a church or school, we have the power to instill preparedness values. Now is the time for us to equip the younger generation with skills that will help them be confident and prepared for anything life may throw at them.

READ MORE: Volunteer organizations and the 4-H Club are excellent choices for instilling values of self-reliance in young people.

If you have children I recommend that you have a weekly family council. Along with normal family business, make goals on implementing these principles of preparedness into your family. If you are part of another organization, teach classes or organize projects that encourage preparedness. Set the example by your actions.

Five Preparedness Principles

There are five principles that can generate a preparedness mindset:

Thriftiness and frugality

The longstanding adage “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, still holds true today. The importance of being thrifty and frugal is often forgotten. Clothes can be mended, altered and remade into other items. I have seen curtains reused to cover chairs, a table cloth became pillow covers and adult size clothes were remade into clothes for a younger child. Learn ways to take other household items and re-purpose them.

Another way to pinch pennies is to find out where all of your pennies are going. There are many forms online that can be used to assist in budgeting. Record your family’s expenses for one month and then gather together to review them. Are there any non-essentials that can be eliminated? Involve family members in creating a budget. Teach them to differentiate between wants and needs and set financial goals together. Save money for a vacation or purchase that the whole family can enjoy. Budget additional funds to be set aside for large purchases and for emergencies. Teach your kids now that it is not worth “keeping up with the Joneses”.

For more ideas:

Strive for independence

This would include independence from anything that prevents us from living to our full potential. Avoid any habits or addictions that restrict your body and mind. Eat healthy, exercise, surround yourself with good friends, and strengthen yourself spiritually and mentally.

Look at your finances. What can you do to be financially independent? Do not get into the habit of using credit for purchases. Many people look at the monthly payment amount versus the real amount of an item. If you have debt, pay it down now. There are many websites available to help accomplish this.

Time is another area where you can be independent. Choose how to prioritize and use it wisely, which would include helping others. Teach this next generation the importance of being kind and charitable. Donate money and time to projects you feel are worthwhile. There are many opportunities available in your own community or help out with a need on the other side of the world. Either way, you will develop a deeper empathy towards others and an appreciation for what you have.

Become industrious

It sounds odd to tell someone to work at being industrious, but it does require energy to be creative and find balance in life. Look at your life and see what circumstances are around you. Search for ways to be resourceful. You may discover talents you did not know you had.

Are there any enterprising opportunities available that you could take advantage of? Another source of income could benefit you and those around you. Find ways to increase your marketability in the workplace. It may be finishing that degree, taking community classes or a free online classes (many are available). Look in your community. See if there is a need that could be filled by a skill that you possess. Teach those around you the importance of an honest work ethic.While industriousness is good, remember that wherever you are at in life, be there completely. When you are at work, work. When you are at home, leave work alone and enjoy your time with family and friends. If you need down time, take it.

READ MORE: How did people earn money during the Great Depression? You might be surprised by their creativity and industriousness!

Strive for self-reliance

I am sure you know people who seem to be able to do, make, or fix anything. Chances are, they had to work on those skills often before they mastered it. Like them, you need to continue to learn and put what you learn into practice. The internet is a great resource. We can learn how to do basic car maintenance, repairs on our home, first aid, and taking care of what we already own. Not only can you save money by doing these things yourself, you are free from depending on others to do them for you. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from doing and mastering new tasks. Planting a garden is another way of developing self-reliance. Not only will you save money on groceries and enjoy fresh produce, there are benefits much greater. Gardening, along with other tasks, allow you to spend time with those close to you. Working together as a group builds stronger relationships, whether it is between parent and child, as friends, or in a community setting. There is a sense of togetherness and learning that you cannot get anywhere else. If you do not teach those around you how to work, who will?

Aim towards having a year’s supply of clothing and food

Don’t let this overwhelm you. Take baby steps. Make a list of the amounts of food and commodities that your family normally consumes in one day. Take that list and multiply it by 7. That is your one week supply. When you have a one week supply stored, continue until you have three months supply. Use and rotate your 3 month supply. Then focus on long term storage.

Many foods, such as grains, beans, and pasta can have a shelf life of 30+ years. Clothing can be a bit of a challenge if you have growing kids. Looking at clearance racks and thrift stores can be an inexpensive way to work on storing clothes and shoes. If you sew, fabric is also be a great addition to your years supply. Do not forget to include any notions you may need.

GET STARTED: Read this comprehensive list of food storage basics.

As you begin to create a culture of self-reliance, you will feel more confident about your ability to withstand almost any hardship. We cannot depend on the government or charities to provide services and care for the millions of people across the nation when a disaster happens. It is essential that each individual and family do all they can to be responsible for themselves when needed. If we are wise and careful with our resources, we will be able to sustain ourselves through difficult times.

Learn more about Great Depression survival

self reliance culture

150 Reasons to be Prepared

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If you’re someone who thinks a lot about prepping, but you don’t have enough reasons to goad you into getting started, maybe this article will help. Jane from MomWithAPrep.com made a list of 150 reasons to be prepared for the many unexpected emergencies that happen during a disaster–and during life in general. Some of them […]

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Preparing for Economic Collapse

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downturnPeople prepare for many reasons, be it a zombie apocalypse, EMP, nuclear war just to name a few. Personally I think the most common forms are disaster are weather related, such as floods, hurricanes and such and financially related, such as a full blown economic collapse to a personal financial crisis. This is why I […]

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9 Reasons Why Every Prepper Should Have a Stash of Alcohol (Even if you don’t drink)

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prepper stash alcoholBottles of wine, beer, vodka and rum aren’t exactly what first comes to mind when preparing for emergencies, but there are several reasons preppers should consider having a stash of alcohol on hand, even if you don’t drink.

For those who do drink, that purpose is obvious. Yet, alcohol also has value and uses that go beyond personal enjoyment. Here are nine reasons why every Survival Mom should consider having a stash of alcohol.

1. Disinfectants in your stash of alcohol

Alcohol that is higher than 35 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), or 70 proof, can disinfect, but not sterilize, wounds and tools. Disinfecting an item eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores. Sterilization eliminates all forms of microbial life. To disinfect, you’ll have to look at having vodka, brandy, rum, gin or pure vanilla extract on hand. However, if a wound is disinfected with alcohol, it can also kill the good tissue around the wound, so it should be used as a last resort. You could also use this kind of alcohol to wash your hands to disinfect them, and in the absence of other cleaners, you could use them to clean surfaces, cooking tools and dishes. Surgery and childbirth are two scenarios in which medical tools need to be as disinfected as the situation will allow. In a pinch, alcohol could be the best way to minimize the possibility of infections.

2. Medicinal uses

In addition to the medical uses mentioned above, tinctures are created using an alcohol base. Tinctures are herbal remedies where herbs are concentrated in an alcohol and water mixture. For example, a cough suppressant can be made using whiskey, honey and lemon.

Alcohol does not help with hypothermia. You often see in movies and on TV a person who has come in from the cold get offered a stiff drink to help warm them up. They may feel warmer afterward, but ultimately, that drink will serve to lower the person’s core temperature because alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate.

Alcohol can also help calm an upset stomach, temporarily help with tooth pain, and help calm an anxious person. A little bit can help a person fall asleep faster. Poison ivy and bug bites can also be relieved by rubbing some alcohol on the affected area. Alcohol can be a muscle relaxant, too.

3. Barter 

Some people value alcohol more than others and it will fly off the shelves in several emergency scenarios (riots, power outages, impending snowstorms or hurricanes). Having some on hand might give you the upper hand when trading for food or household supplies. Consider stocking up on both large bottles as well as the tiny “airplane” sizes.

INTERESTED IN BARTERING? Barter may not be the simple transaction many preppers envision. Here’s what you need to know about bartering before planning on it becoming your survival solution.

Bottles of highly prized brands of alcohol have also come in handy as bribes. Not recommending this. Just making note of it!

4. Celebrations

Despite the situation or emergency, life will continue – babies will be born, people will marry and funerals will take place. Many of these occasions bring people together to celebrate or remember. Wine or champagne can add to the celebration and help give people a sense of “normalcy,” which can be a powerful element in who thrives during difficult circumstances and who doesn’t.

5. Religious

Some religions use alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or rite. Continuing these traditions can mean a lot to people of those faiths. During Prohibition, one of the only ways for a winery to stay in business was to make wine for religious reasons.

6. Fire and defense

As with wound care, alcohol is not the first choice in sustaining a fire, but it does work if needed. Much care should be used if using alcohol around any kind of fire. Do not pour alcohol on an active fire, but soak something and put it in the kindling/coals before setting the fire.

If you find yourself in a situation where your home or family needs to be defended, you could create a fire bomb using alcohol. Extreme care needs to be taken if alcohol is used in this manner and in no way are we recommending this!

LEARN MORE WITH THIS DIY PROJECT: Make a mini-stove with Altoids in alcohol.

7. Cooking/preservation

There are plenty of recipes that call for wine and other forms of alcohol, but one of the best reasons to have alcohol around is to preserve items from the garden. Soaking herbs or plants in vodka makes extracts, like vanilla, peppermint, and lemon. Fruit can be preserved in alcohol for long-term storage. Ginger and turmeric can be preserved in alcohol, too.

8. Stress relief

Alcohol can help a person relax a bit or “take the edge off.” There will be a lot of stress in most survival situations and having a small vice is one way humans deal with stress. The social aspect of having a drink at the end of a long day is often what helps people deal with stress the most.

9. Everyday emergencies (cooking/gifts)

Sometimes the emergency isn’t dire but is still stressful. Having a few bottles of wine on hand for recipes or for a hostess gift when you’re invited to a dinner party is a good idea. Even if the hosts are non-drinkers, they can still put the bottle to good use.

Tips for storage

Alcohol needs to be stored in a cool, dark place. As a liquid, it can evaporate if the bottle has been opened. The shelf life varies depending on the type of alcohol. Beer and wine will generally last about six months to two years depending on the way it was made. Liquors vary widely, but also tend to break down by the two-year mark. Spirits and moonshines do not expire due to their high alcohol content.

Learn To Make  Your Own Prepper Stash of Alcohol

Another option to having alcohol on hand is learning to make your own. Home beer brewing and winemaking are becoming the new fad hobbies with supply stores showing up in many cities, as well as online. Many of these stores offer classes and will help you on your brewing journey. You can also use a still to make distilled water, spirits and alcohol that can be used for fuel. State laws vary on home brewing and distilling so make sure to check what is allowed where you live.

MAKING HOMEMADE WINE: This is a handy skill and not as difficult as you might think. Your final product may not win the blue ribbon in a wine competition but can still be enjoyed for what it is — a DIY project you can drink!

Preppers with a stash of alcohol can only benefit in the long run. If you’re not sure about how much and exactly what you want to have on hand, start with a variety of small bottles. Make sure to keep them out of the reach of children or possibly hidden or locked up if you have teenagers. It’s an item that can have a multitude of uses and doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.

STOCKING UP TIP: You’ll often see grocery carts filled with bottles of alcohol in the liquor department of your grocery store. Browse through those and, if you aren’t sure where to start, pick up vodka, rum, gin, or whisky, as they have many multiple uses and longer shelf lives.

Want to learn more about prepping?

prepper stash alcohol


You Should Have Incontinence Products

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oopsNobody wants to talk about incontinence, it is just not a pleasant subject no matter how you look at it. After all, incontinence is the inability of the body to control the evacuation functions of urination or defecation.

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Thirteen Severe Weather Warning Preps

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lightingSevere weather could happen at any time. Most of us don’t think anything about those weather warnings because, let’s face it, most of the time it is just a bad storm, sure, there may be some leaves and small limbs blown down, maybe you are without power for a short period of time, but normally it is no bit deal

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Special Needs Preppers: Pregnancy, Babies, and Toddlers

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Preppers- Babies pregnancy toddlersMy children are big enough to not need many special accommodations, but when they were younger, just keeping their emergency supplies up to date (in other words, clothing that fit and food they would eat) could be a challenge! The truth is that little kids end up with a lot of emergencies, most of the potty, food, and otherwise messy variety. Parents already carry a lot of “emergency supplies” with them!

In a larger disaster, the challenges are determining what you need for a longer period, quite possibly away from home, and ways to keep your little one comfortable and content away from home. If you’re an expectant mother, you have your own set of unique needs.

Emergency needs for pregnant women

Given how swiftly needs change during pregnancy, your Bug Out Bag or emergency kit may not be up to date. You’ll probably want to add a month’s supply of prenatal vitamins, a portable water filter (hydration is extremely important and you may end up in an area with questionable water), a few Mylar pouches of water, high calorie nutrition bars, and antacid tablets. Another good addition is a small bottle of acetaminophen, deemed to be safe for pregnant women, Benadryl (can be helpful as a mild sleep aid, too), a laxative, and any other medications your doctor recommends.

Nutrition will be an extremely important consideration, so carefully consider the emergency food you have on hand. These store especially well:

  • Canned or dry beans (naturally high in folate)
  • Lentils and lentil soup
  • Freeze-dried bananas for potassium and energy
  • Freeze-dried and/or canned chicken (quick meals, great protein source)
  • Eggs — dried eggs are handy and store well
  • Oatmeal — Make your own “instant oatmeal” by briefly processing oats in a blender and adding dried fruit, dried milk, and a little sugar.
  • Freeze-dried spinach — a good way to have a leafy green that stores long-term
  • Orange drink powder — I don’t love the sugar content, but the Vitamin C is necessary and the sugar can give you a quick energy boost.
  • Almonds, walnuts — a healthy source of fat
  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit

If you’re pregnant and have strange cravings, it wouldn’t hurt to add a few servings to your kit. If it’s something like Taco Bell Quesaritos, well, I guess you’ll just have to keep on hand a map of all Taco Bells within 100 miles or so!

Whatever you pack, it’s smart to keep a basic list with notations of where to find the items in case someone else needs to pack for you because you either aren’t home or aren’t feeling well. Pregnancy brain is infamous for making women forgetful, and so is sleep deprivation, which continues until at least when they start school. Lists are your friend!

Along with food and water, at a bare minimum, you will need pre-natal vitamins, any other medication, doctors’ diagnosis, and comfortable clothing with room to grow. If you have any kind of sleep or comfort aids, including wedge pillows, belly bands, etc. note it. If you have any medical issues, have up-to-date copies of your prescriptions and medical charts. It’s also a good idea to bring something from your doctor, like an ultrasound picture, that shows your Estimated Delivery Date. There may be restrictions (and extra assistance) once you reach a certain gestational point and the last thing you want is to be unable to prove either that those restrictions don’t apply to you or that you do rate the assistance (if needed) because you don’t “look” the way someone thinks you should.

If you are pregnant, part of your emergency preparedness should also include a “Plan B” for your birth. Few things are as scary to a pregnant woman as the prospect of birthing in unfamiliar or dangerous conditions. Mothers-to-be are busy enough making “Plan A” for their birth, most of us never even consider a “Plan B” that involves giving birth elsewhere because of evacuation or inability to get to a hospital. Even if your “Plan B” isn’t meticulously planned out, it’s helpful to have a general idea.  Many birth classes go over what to do if you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of an unplanned unassisted birth.

Potty Issues

Some women have pregnancy-related bladder leakage problems. If you are one of them, pack accordingly. Even if you aren’t, be prepared for your water to break, even if you don’t think you are far enough along. A few extra maxi pads don’t take much space and if you don’t need them, you might help out another woman.


If I could go back in time I might not make the same decision, but I only used disposable diapers. Even so, I kept a pack of cloth diapers on hand, just in case of emergency. We still use them as dust-rags. If you don’t use them, you  know they will definitely be in the bag in the event of a true emergency. After all, would you rather use a cloth diaper or dad’s shirt? It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about it.

READ MORE: Want to learn more about the pros and cons of cloth diapers vs. disposables? Read this.

Diaper wipes and rash ointment are the other obvious needs. Even if your child rarely (or never) gets diaper rash, you could end up in a situation where you aren’t able to change them as often as you normally would or are forced to use a different brand of wipes or diapers, resulting in a rash.


If your little one is in the middle of potty-training, or has recently been potty-trained, the stress may cause them to regress, so be prepared. Bring plenty of diapers, pull-ups, wipes, extra big-kid or training underwear, and resealable bags for soiled clothing. A reusable wet bag is very helpful for containing all types of messes.

THINK ABOUT THIS: Pack a roll of dog waste bags in your emergency kits and diaper bag. One roll usually has 40 to 50 bags and these have infinite uses.

In an evacuation or other emergency situation, accidents can be even more of an issue. No one wants trapped in a car for hours with the smell of poopy diapers or vomit. Kids ‘n’ Pets is a great solution for that. There are foldable travel potty seats, although you may just want to bag the one they are used to and bring it along. Don’t forget a stool to help them reach the seat safely!

Food for infants and toddlers

If you are pregnant and have had cravings, try to plan for that. Some foods are easy to find, like the burritos I craved during one pregnancy. Others, not so much, especially regional or seasonal treats.


I joke that I was designed to be a wet nurse. When my son needed 20 ccs of milk, I was pumping 12 ounces. The amount of leakage was no joke. I was wet and uncomfortable for the first three months of my sons’ lives, then engorged and intermittently uncomfortable for at least another three after that before everything settled down. (For a more in-depth discussion of breast-feeding, keep your eyes out for a forthcoming post on subject.) If you are like me and produce lots of milk, pack lots of both disposable and reusable nursing pads, every bra that fits, and about four times as many shirts as you normally would if you have to evacuate. As long as you can do laundry, that should work out.

READ MORE: In a time of major crisis, the concept of wet-nursing may make a comeback. Read more here.

Whether you produce a lot of a little, definitely pack at least some nursing pads, whatever you use for privacy while nursing, your breast pump, bottles, and a bottle brush. If your breast pump has an option for a car power plug, buy and bring it along. That gives you more choices about when and where to pump, especially if you have a solar power source that has a similar power outlet. For a more portable option, consider a simple hand pump. It’s smaller and requires no electricity, but the trade-off is that it is not as efficient as an electric pump.


Bring two or three times as much as you think you’ll need. It is all too easy to spill or lose items, especially away from home. This is especially important if your child is picky or has dietary restrictions. If they do, make a note of places you can order more online, chains that often carry it

It may sound obvious, but don’t forget water to mix the formula, and a small bottle of dish detergent (with a bottle brush) to clean everything after each feeding. Bonus points if you bring a small dish basin, which can also double as a small toy corral. Double bonus points if water can be heated on that basin to allow warming bottles. (Grills are available at many rest-stops and campsites.) Depending on the situation, you may also need a way to filter and treat the water to make it potable.

READ MORE: Wondering about all the different water filters out there? Read this for more information.

For at-home emergencies, you still need a way to heat water both to warm formula for feedings and to adequately clean and sterilize all parts of the bottles in case there is a power outage. A Sun Oven can heat water to pasteurization temperature and is also helpful for heating and cooking food when the power is out.

First Foods and Snacks

With small children, pickiness definitely comes into play at meal and snack time. If you know your toddler will absolutely melt down if they do not have Honey Nut Cheerios mid-afternoon, be sure to grab an extra two or three boxes as soon as any potential weather disaster enters the forecast. Include these on your packing list because they are as essential as diapers and formula for your sanity and well-being.

Small amounts of snacks can be kept in Ziploc bags or sealed using a Food Saver. Try giving your kids various freeze dried foods, such as freeze-dried yogurt bites and get them accustomed to the taste and texture. When you purchase these in either pouches or the smaller #2.5 size cans, they are lightweight and very packable when it comes to getting an emergency kit ready or having extra food on hand for the duration of an emergency.

If you make your own baby or toddler food, bring the basic equipment you need. Don’t assume it will be available wherever you end up. This may be as simple as a stick blender, scooper (or one of the new “spoonulas” – a great invention in my humble opinion), and a bowl.


Back before most audio music was purely digital, we old-timers listened to our favorites on CDs and owned small carrying cases to hold our favorite disks. These same carrying cases can hold DVDs, and that makes them take less space while still protecting them. As soon as it starts looking like you may need to evacuate, select the DVDs the kids will tantrum without, along with some family favorites to enjoy as “family movie” time. If you have time, a brand new DVD is a great way to provide a fun surprise and a few hours of quiet time for mom and dad.

CHECK THIS OUT: Our list of survival movies with a romantic edge.

Pack a portable DVD player or a laptop with TV connector cables so you can watch them. If you have Amazon Prime, toss in the Fire Stick and remote, but know that you may not be able to access it when you get where you are going. Favorite books (especially for bedtime), read aloud chapter books, coloring books (including adult coloring pages for older kids), and electronic devices also go a long way toward making long trips less unpleasant.

If you have time, create a few new music playlists for the trip – or have the kids do it! Then they’ll have something fun to listen to. You may even want to download some new tunes to surprise them. Perhaps a soundtrack you don’t hate from one of their movies?

Naps for all!

Babies are often quite content to nap either on a blanket or in their car seat. A blanket that blocks out the light and dampens the noise can be thrown over a stroller or car seat in a pinch. I’ve always kept small Gymboree blankets and a few towels rolled up and stored beneath the back seat just for this reason.

If your baby is used to sleeping in a Pack ‘n Play on a regular basis, those are fairly easy to pack and move.

Toddlers may not be quite as easy to put down for a nap as babies. They are infamous for being picky about when and where they nap. In an emergency, there will probably be a lot of commotion and stimulation making napping difficult. At the very least, there will be a new environment, which is not relaxing or safe-feeling for a young child.

The easiest solution is to have a small tent or shelter for them to sleep in. Let them use it at home, too, so it is already familiar. The Privacy Pop is a great solution is you want something that goes over an entire bed, including the mattress. An inexpensive tent or play space works, too.


Bring them. You don’t want to abandon them and the kids will probably flip out if you try. They may even endanger themselves and others by going back into a dangerous situation to rescue their beloved pet. This will require some advanced planning, and is the subject of another post, but a few advance phone calls should help you find a place where your pet is welcome along with the family.

READ MORE: Pets have always been a popular topic on The Survival Mom blog. Here are a few articles that will help you get your beloved pets ready for emergencies:

Clothing tips for pregnant moms, babies, and toddlers

Finally, remember that babies go through about six to seven outfits per day. Pack your 72 hr kit accordingly. They’ll also need blankets. If you have to bug out on foot, ditch the 40-lb baby carrier/ carseat. Invest in a wrap, or make one yourself. Wraps are more comfortable than other baby carriers because they put the weight of the child onto your hips instead of your shoulders and upper back. Wraps have the added benefit of leaving your hands free and any other adult or older child/teen can also “wear” the baby.

If your toddlers suffer from what we call “sock bump anxiety disorder,” make sure that you have non-bumpy socks in their kids. Whatever their size, check their bug out bags regularly to make sure their clothing, socks, and shoes are a good fit.

For a pregnant mother-to-be, loose clothing, socks, and comfortable shoes are a must. If you find that your feet swell during the day, plan on wearing socks or slippers and bring along a firm pillow or small step stool to elevate your legs. Some pregnant women tend to be cold, no matter where they are. If this describes you, store a sweater or another warm and cozy outer layer with your emergency supplies.

Preppers come in every shape, size, age, and physical condition. It’s smart to consider now, ahead of a crisis, what you will need to prepare so that each of your loved ones is equipped to handle an everyday emergency or a worst case scenario.

Other “Special Needs Preppers” in this series:

Preppers- Babies pregnancy toddlers

Six Traits Of A Good Leader During An Emergency or Disaster

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leaderThere are those who step up and take charge. Who speak with authority and cause others to look to them for direction. They have a proven track record of leading family, friends, coworkers in all kinds of situations from day-to-day functions such as running a household to emergencies and disasters.

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18 Over the Counter Meds You Should Always Have On Hand

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otcIt is very important to insure you have a good stock of the following OTC or over the counter, medications or treatments in the house, in your bug out bag, your get home bag. Many of these items should also be carried as part of your EDC (everyday carry). Most likely there isn’t a person […]

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Staying Safe in a Crowd

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safe in a crowd

Love them or hate them, large crowds cannot always be avoided and they have inherent dangers ranging from pickpockets to riots. It’s good to be prepared for those dangers and keep in mind crowd safety. You just need to use your head in order to stay ahead of the game, so to speak.

Do you need it with you?

Whenever you attend large crowd gatherings, the fewer belongings you have with you, the less there is to keep track of and potentially lose. And the less weight you are carrying around for no good reason. It doesn’t normally matter that I have three tubes of lipstick, four pens, etc. in my purse – but if I know I’ll be walking around and carrying it for hours, I cut that down a lot.

You do need to keep your keys, but they don’t have to be in your purse. Where can you carry them with the least possible risk of losing them? Even if you lose everything else, if you still have your keys, you should be able to get home. Remember that many cars have lockable glove compartments. You can leave some items locked in there while you are at the event. Unless the day is going to be really hot, I regularly leave my GPS and Kindle locked in the glove box. Sometimes I even leave my house keys there, too, but I make certain there is nothing with my home address on the key chain or anything else I leave in the car.

As you get ready to leave your home, sort through what you normally carry and reduce it to the minimum you need. Most of us have extra credit cards, reward cards, and all sorts of small things we carry every day that we can leave behind when we go to a special event. The less you carry, the less you risk losing.


Many years ago, a tour guide recommended carrying a purse with the strap running across and in front of your body, rather than just off one shoulder, and the actual bag in front of you, possibly even with your hand on it. Keeping the strap running across your body, not over one shoulder, makes it harder for a thief to grab your bag and run with it. In addition to grabbing, his experience was that some thieves cut the strap in crowded areas and stole purses that way. Keeping your bag in front of your body, with your hand on it, makes that more difficult.

Another option is a thin pouch on a neck strap that you can keep underneath your shirt. This keeps your hands free and your belongings out of sight, yet easily accessible.

TIP: There are purses designed to deter thieves, and one, in particular, has slash-proof straps and a RFID-proof compartment that will protect your credit card information from being scanned and stolen. Check out the Travelon bag here.

Finally, take steps to deter thieves from literally picking your pockets. Put your phone, camera, cash, and other valuables in front or inside pockets where you’re more likely to notice someone grabbing for them. If you have pockets that zip, use and zip them. (This is more common in menswear, which is a great reason for women to own at least one mans jacket.)

Many women keep their cell phones in a back pants pocket, and many men keep their wallets there. In a large, close crowd, that phone or wallet could be snatched or fall out in an eye blink and you might not even notice. Someone could be gone with your things before you even had time to turn and look for them, and you would have no idea who it was.

Staying together in a crowd

Wearing bright or unusual colors can make it easier to find one another. When my kids have on neon green or orange shirts, it is FAR easier to find them than when they wear black t-shirts with jeans. However, if things go horribly wrong, this could have the effect of making you stand out to the bad guys. Carrying a dark jacket or hoodie you can put on over top can negate this problem.

When you arrive at your big event, before you jump into the activities, decide on a meet-up location and make sure everyone in your group knows where it is. It should be outside of the busy main area, but not so far that you can’t get to it easily or have to completely leave the area to get there. It should also be easy to see from a distance to help everyone find their way, and it should be distinctive. A lamppost is tall, but hardly distinctive. Unless, of course, there is one lamppost that happens to be an entirely different color or style from the others.

Make a mental note of where emergency exits are located and likely paths of least resistance. If there is a good meeting spot near there, use it – but be sure it is just far enough that it won’t be in the middle of the exodus if the emergency exit actually needs to be used in an emergency.

Take a digital photo of each member of your party, including every child, before leaving the house or just after arriving at the event, and a photo of the meeting location, as a reminder. This way, if someone turns up missing, you have a current photo to show authorities. In various jobs I’ve held over the years, I’ve been part of search teams looking for missing kids and I can tell you that many parents have trouble remembering what their children wore that day. It is far easier to find a person if the searchers know what color shirt or hat to spot.

LEARN MORE: Your cell phone camera can be very useful in emergencies. Read these “50 Emergency Uses for a Cell Phone Camera“.

Make certain everyone has the phone numbers for everyone else in the party with a cell phone. If you are separated, this will help you re-connect.

If you are unwell or injured

When you arrive, take the time to find a map with all the bathrooms, water fountains, and rest areas. Out of the way bathrooms often have the shortest lines, so make a special note of these.

At outdoor venues, personal experience has taught me that the Port-a-Potties about 2/3 of the way down the line are the cleanest. Many people simply go to the first available, while others go to the very last one. This leaves the ones 2/3 of the way down least used, therefore the least stench-filled. This is particularly important if someone is nauseous.

If you begin to feel faint or in any way unwell, let your group know right away and try to get out of the crowd. Find someplace where you can sit down, take stock of the situation, and have some water. This is important because if someone’s health suddenly takes a turn and paramedics need to be called, it can be extremely difficult for them to fight through the crowd to reach you.

Drinking water is a good idea because a lot of problems are caused or made worse by dehydration and almost nothing is made worse by drinking some water. Staying hydrated is a great way to prevent problems.

The same goes if you are injured. This could be a simple twisted ankle or minor cut, or something far more serious like having a golf cart run over your foot or a rioter beat you. If you need a paramedic, try to send another adult or responsible teen for help and keep anyone younger or infirm with you. They are less likely to be distracted or get lost if they stay with you and can still help you, even with things as small as carrying your bag(s) or dialing a cell phone.

Potential riot and crowd safety

There is no way to go to a large event and both stay at the outer edges the whole time and actually enjoy the event. If you are at the edges, then you are…at the edges. Not fully immersed and participative, and what is the point in that? Of course, if things take a turn for the worse, at the edges, with as few people as possible between you and “open territory,” is exactly where you want to be. But what warning signs do you need to watch for?

Some elements clearly make a riot more or less likely. Crowds, alcohol, and strong feelings are all big contributors to riots. Crowds and alcohol are fairly obvious. Strong feelings can be about politics, justice/injustice, or sporting events. The cause doesn’t matter, but the presence of strong feelings does.

Can you imagine a riot over Starbucks having green cups with a white logo instead of the reverse? Not easily, because it’s hard to imagine anyone caring that much. If there are two groups somewhere and one group gets white cups while the other gets green, they might start a riot if one already feels like they are being treated worse, somehow.

If the crowd unexpectedly starts growing, or there is a noticeable change in police/security, those are warning signs. If the mood changes and people are becoming angry or frustrated, it is time to leave. Start making your way to the exit, or at least the edges of the crowd.

READ MORE: “15 Tips for Staying Safe During Times of Civil Unrest

If you can’t move away fast enough and find yourselves caught up in a demonstration or some other moving crowd, the best thing to do is link arms and move perpendicular across the group of people. You’re not going to get very far trying to walk in the opposite direction but by cutting across the crowd, you should be able to get to a sidewalk or side street. Linking arms is far better than trying to just hold hands.

While the safest course of action would be to avoid crowded events entirely, we cannot and should not live our lives in fear. If your favorite band is playing at a local venue and you have the means to attend the show, go for it! Just take a few common sense precautions so you can be sure to enjoy the concert.

Staying Safe During Civil Unrest

safe in a crowd FB size

Jim Cobb contributed to this article.

Special Needs Preppers: Severe Disabilities

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severe disabilities

Preparing for people with severe disabilities is a topic that isn’t covered much, because I feel like the general consensus is that the sick and disabled will, in fact, be the most susceptible and first to go.

image by PaulEisenberg

image by PaulEisenberg

I have twins with cerebral palsy. One son is highly functioning, and if something were to disrupt his care, the worst that would come of it is that the bracing we have to continually re-adjust would not be done and he could wind up with less than perfect growth, but he could live and survive.

The other is another story. He is total (think nursing home) care. We’ve worked hard to stock additional supplies, back up for electric and electronic supplies. We have started buying more of our equipment as permitted financially, but that is mostly preparing for a rationing of care type situation. I know that because he doesn’t “add” anything back to society, he will be one of the first to have services and supplies cut, when/if that happens.

5 Tips for Prepping for Severe Disabilities

To anyone who is preparing with family with limited functions, I have very few words of wisdom other than these.

1. Stock up on medications – I have as many generic medications as I can get. Insurance will only permit a refill every 25 days on most (14 days on respiratory treatments), so I fill as often as I am able, and rotate what medications I can purchase (yes you can purchase additional refills. The limit on refilling is only limited to what you file through your insurance). My pharmacy works with me to work out a rotation plan. The reason I give them is that I want to have a 30-60 day on hand supply in case of tornadoes/heavy snow/ice. They understand and appreciate my forethought in this so there is less pressure on them in an emergency situation. Might I recommend a small locally owned pharmacy? They are usually easier to work with in these instances.

2. A Nursing Med book – Get one so that you can properly ensure you administer any stocked up drugs… or maybe that fish-mox you picked up in your preps.

3. Medical supplies– Anything you need to care for your loved one. For us, it’s pulse-ox probes and 4x4s and gloves, and diapers and feeding tubes (with foley caths as backup to mickey buttons for feedings). Set up with a durable medical supply to auto fill those EVERY month. You might not use all of it every month, but that is how you start your surplus. I currently have 20 boxes of both medium and large medical gloves. You can NEVER have enough.

4. Our insurance replaces our nebulizer every 5 years, and I do that faithfully. I also stock up on nebulizer masks (They are like $3 in most drug stores, or at least they are where I live.).If your insurance gives you 4 a month, try to make do with 2 (you can soak them in a vinegar/water bath to disinfect them) for a few months to have a back up. We can make ours last A LONG TIME just by taking care of them. Find out what your insurance will allow to be replaced and how often.

5. Try to find natural alternatives to medications, how to grow them and how to create the medication out of the plant. This is where I am now. I can puree regular food down and put it down a tube for him (have 2 years worth of tubes backed up), so right now my focus is getting a handle on what herbal remedies and medicines I can obtain and use.

One other thing I’ve done is look for acceptable alternatives. For example, Dylan (my more profound boy) is on Pediasure, but I looked into the nutritional content of Ensure, and in a pinch, I could use it. The reason I looked at Ensure is that it comes in a powder formula, where Pediasure does not. For his 72 hour kit, I packed Ensure powder (in case I am not able to grab a case of Pediasure on my way out the door) and the Sawyer water filter kit so that I know he has nutrition.

As far as our family is concerned, I know the above things to be true and these are the things I have done. I can’t speak for other states, or even counties within my state, or all insurance companies. Please don’t take this as hard and fast truth for you. I just know these things have helped us in our plight to be able to take care of our family. These are merely suggestions to get you started, thinking strategically, figuring out ways to make do with what you have to stock up for the future.

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Guest post by avgokiemom.

Special Needs Preppers: Single Moms

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single moms

In the world of preparedness, most all information is aimed for an audience that includes a network of supportive family members, a spouse in particular. All of the tasks are daunting and the future scenarios gloomy beyond belief. Enter single moms who are responsible for the welfare of her children. If her income is the only one keeping the family afloat and there are few, if any, close friends or relatives in the vicinity, she is truly on her own.

How can single moms prepare for the future?

Moms, if you’ve ever been faced with a car breakdown on the side of the road, alone, and without a cell phone, you have an idea of what it would feel like to be a single mom facing an uncertain future. At some point in that scenario, you have no choice but to seek out help from strangers or anyone willing to help. Therefore, I believe that the first step for single parents is to start creating their own survival/prepper web of supportive people. This is the most important step because it takes a lot of time to find like-minded people who are also trustworthy and with whom you are compatible. In the preparedness world people are often suspicious of others, which adds to the amount of time you’ll need to create that web. Single moms can start by:

  • Checking out Meet-Up groups on topics related to preparedness and survival, such as camping, gardening, hiking, backyard chickens, organic produce, couponing. Some towns have groups labeled, “Survival” or “Preppers”, so it’s worth a search. Single moms, in particular, need to use a lot of common sense and caution when meeting with strangers, but these groups usually offer a safe way to get to know others who share your interests.
  • Finding a supportive church. Maybe church hasn’t really been your thing, but if you’re looking for a large group of people who already have a lot in common, this can be a great avenue. Often their activities include childcare as well as single parent social groups, which immediately connects you with others. And, don’t discount the importance of having a strong faith when faced with challenges that include the everyday frustrations of motherhood as well as potential worst case scenarios.
  • Checking out the state forums at American Preppers Network. Some states have very active groups, others not so much, but it’s one resource that will have local people who can steer you in the right direction for joining prepper groups.
  • Joining hobby clubs, such as ham radio or gardening clubs. The members of these clubs are already a little on the fanatical side and will welcome newcomers. (I base this claim on the number of ham radio operators I have met and who are active in their clubs. The dog club people were worse, maybe!)

Once your “preps” are pretty well established, consider joining A.N.T.S., a prepper network of folks ready to help others in the network in times of dire need. You need to be able to provide that help, if called upon, but then, someone will be there to come to your aid if necessary. As you connect with other people, there’s no need to tell them whether or not you have food storage or firearms or any other personal information. If someone starts asking too many questions, then that person or group isn’t the one for you. I’ve found that preppers respect the privacy of others and expect the same in return. Above all, trust your instincts. If a person, group, or situation seems to be not-quite-right, walk away. There are thousands of solid, trustworthy preppers out there who would open their arms to a single mom and her kids. You just have to find each other.

Training and knowledge on the cheap

Thanks to the Internet, and YouTube in particular, there is no shortage when it comes to information and training of skills in the survival and preparedness niche. You could easily become Super Prepper, simply by learning from YouTube videos and then practicing what you learn. Just a few skills to look for:

  • Canning
  • Pickling
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Fire starting
  • Growing ______. (Name your fruit or vegetable.)
  • Packing dry food in buckets.
  • Sealing mylar bags
  • Storing water correctly
  • Purifying water
  • And on and on and on

I highly recommend that you spend some time in the Skill of the Month area on this blog. Every skill is suitable for the entire family to learn and at some point, single mom, you’re going to need  your kids to assist in order for the family to pull through during tough times. If you’ve given them the gifts of skills and knowledge, that will be a blessing to all of you.

Besides YouTube videos and resources here on The Survival Mom blog, it’s almost as easy to find free or very cheap training locally:

  • Sign up for classes that relate to preparedness. Community colleges are one of the best resources for this and you might qualify for reduced tuition. Be sure to talk with the admissions office, since they will know about scholarships and discounts. Do NOT take out a loan for this, since so much information and training can be had for free, but if these classes are in your budget, you not only will accumulate college credits but also meet other people with the same interests.
  • Community colleges also offer non-credit classes in the evenings and on weekends, and these are generally very inexpensive.
  • Find out if your city offers community classes. These will probably include things like guitar and interpretive dance but might also include skills you’re looking for as a prepper.
  • County and university extension classes are free or low-cost. You can usually learn about gardening, canning, food prep and other useful skills.
  • Retail stores often offer free classes. Cabela’s, ProBass, REI, craft stores and other specialty retail stores want buyers to learn their skills and, therefore, purchase their products. If a store offers classes for kids, that’s even better. Involve your kids with your survival learning every chance you get.
  • CERT classes. I’ve talked about my own experiences with CERT classes in my podcast. These are completely free and even furnish attendees with a basic emergency kit. Go to this site to search for classes near you.
  • Red Cross offers free and inexpensive classes online as well as in-person classes, which usually have fees.
  • FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers free online classes and these can be excellent sources of information on everything related to disasters from learning about hazardous materials to dealing with animals in a natural disaster.
  • Many libraries offer classes of all kinds and almost always, they’re free.

 Include the kids whenever you can

image by photogramma1

image by photogramma1

A single mom’s most immediate group of allies and support are her own children. At whatever ages they might be, start training them for everything from how to put out a small fire to calling 911 to administering CPR. Go through this list of 32 basic survival tips for kids to see what your children need to work on.

Fortunately, survival and preparedness involve knowledge and skills that are very easy to learn and lots of fun. Together, make a list of disasters that are likely to occur where you live. For example, if you live in the Midwest, you probably won’t need to teach them what to do if there is a hurricane, but knowing what to do in case of flooding may be more useful. Then come up with activities that will help your children learn what to do in that type of disaster.  You can do this on a regular basis in the same way that some families do a family game night.

A great resource that helps teach kids about preparedness with games and other activities is Ready.Gov/Kids. Another fun way to teach survival skill is to go camping. Let your children practice what they’ve learned in an environment where those skills are needed instead of just a “let’s pretend” situation.

Stock up on supplies as you can

Right along with learning and connecting with others, is the need to stock up on the food and supplies you’ll need to weather any storm. The best advice I have for you is from my book, Survival Mom.

Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, and
other supplies requires money. However, the good news is that a master
To Buy list will help set priorities, keep you on budget, and even provide
a shopping list when hitting the garage sale circuit.

Without a To Buy list, you may very well find yourself (a) spending
money on things you later discover tucked away in a back cupboard
or (b) snatching up purchases in a panic. This list helps save money
as well as time.

If your income is limited, you’ll need to become very creative. Estate sales, yard sales, going-out-of-business sales, Craigslist, Freecycle, and even programs like Swagbucks and MyPoints will need to become your new best friends. Also, try apps that help you earn money on your normal purchases. SavingStar helps you earn cash back on certain grocery store purchases. You get new offers each month and when your account reaches $5 you can request a payout.

Walmart has a Savings Catcher app that looks for better prices on your purchases and gives you a refund of the difference on a gift card. While none of these will pay out big bucks, they can help you save money towards preps without spending more money out of your pocket.

Some creative preppers use their skills to earn extra income by teaching those skills to others. One woman runs an ad on Craigslist for small canning classes she conducts in her home. Her classes each month are always full. This is a great way to make some extra money to buy supplies and may also give you the opportunity to network (and build friendships) with like-minded people in your community. Depending on the circumstances, you could even consider bartering supplies for classes.

An awful lot of survival supplies are extremely inexpensive. You can find used water barrels for less than $20. Wash out empty 2-liter soda bottles and refill them with water for cheap and easy water storage. For more expensive supplies, establish a savings plan, even if it’s just a few dollars per week.

The important piece, though, is to know what you need and then set priorities for your purchases, and that To Buy list will keep you on track and save you from impulse buys.

Take care of yourself

It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day struggle to make ends meet along with the constant need to feel like you and your children are ready for every possible disaster that may strike. That’s why it’s essential to take time to take care of yourself as well. If you are using all of your energy to be prepared, you’ll have no energy left to handle an actual emergency situation. And if something happens to you, you don’t have a spouse to take over.

Allow yourself time to rest and schedule in occasional alone time as well. Keep yourself health by eating right and keeping yourself fit as much as possible. And above all, make time for fun. If you’re always stressing over “what if” you can’t enjoy “right now” and that will have a big impact on your children.

The prepared single Survival Mom

Single moms can be every bit as prepared as any other person in the survival/preparedness community. In fact, they have an advantage over a prepper whose spouse is not on board and might even try to prohibit any type of preparedness activities or expense.

Single parenting is no easy job, but when there are plans and supplies in place for various emergencies, there will be less panic and a lot more peace.

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Survival Bartering: The Pros and Cons

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Survival Bartering-BarterTo trade by exchange of commodities rather than by the use of money.

Much has been written about the use of barter in a post SHTF/TEOTWAWKI* scenario. Barter is presumed to be the norm for conducting common transactions, especially at the beginning of the event (see Chile 1982, Argentina 2001). None of these discussions describe the true difficulties of using barter for containing daily common supplies and needs. This is survival bartering – when your very life may depend on your bartering skills.

Most people think barter is merely “I’ll trade you this for that.” In a pure, simple sense that is so. However, where the rubber meets the road, where theory smacks hard into the face of reality, it isn’t nearly that simple and easy. “Barter” is plainly not the same thing as “money” — just using things like matches, seeds, clean water, rounds of ammunition in place of coins and paper money.

The difference between survival bartering and using money

Like it or not, good or bad, “money”, as we have come to know it, is an effective means of exchange. We exchange money for the product and services we want. “Money” is very effective is because it is very generic. The currency we receive (or pay out) in exchange for products and services can be used to obtain whatever other products and services we want, when we want them (all other things being equal). We do not need to know exactly what we are going to use the money for when we receive it.

We can exchange money for food or clothing or medicine or fuel or transportation or entertainment, or simply hold on to it (save) for another day. “Money” doesn’t get stale or expire or simply go bad after some period of time (ignoring inflation and devaluation for the moment).

By contrast, when you are considering a barter exchange, you must consider at that exact moment what it is you reasonably expect to do with whatever item(s) you are receiving in the exchange. It is highly risky to accept an item whose usefulness to you isn’t clear.

This has obvious draw backs

You may not need an item today but need it tomorrow and now the opportunity to acquire it is gone.
You may take an item in exchange thinking it will useful but turns out it isn’t.
You may take the greater risk of accepting an item in exchange hope to re-exchange it later for something else, but that doesn’t pan out either.

For example, many web sites and blogs state that .22 ammunition will be the “new currency” in a post SHTF environment. To me, .22 ammo is only good if I have a .22 firearm. If not, I either don’t accept the exchange, or take on additional risk by accepting something I may (or may not) be able re-barter later for something I do need.

Another example: Consider a post-natural disaster scenario like Katrina. Suppose someone comes to you with a brand new big screen TV wanting to trade it for food. In more normal times the TV has value because you can use it right away. But after a disaster it might be weeks or even months before power and cable is restored to your area so what good is a big screen TV?

What exactly to store as barter items?

The answer is simple: It largely doesn’t matter.

There is no real way of know what exactly will be of exchangeable value in a post-SHTF scenario. Some items will probably always have a level of demand such as food, water, medical, defenses, fuel, etc. But those would likely be the last things you want to trade instead of keeping for your own use.

Websites and videos are full of suggestions for this or that  to accumulate for barter such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunition, salt, sugar, batteries, candles, needles and thread, even tooth brushes and dental floss!  In one video I recently saw the guy claimed to have over 50,000 (yes!) nails of all kinds stored for both his own building use and for barter. On another website it was posted that someone had stored so much TP in anticipation of Y2K problems that it took several years after Y2K to use it all up! Imagine the storage space need for all that!

There is also geography to be considered. Some items may have greater value to people in urban areas while people in rural areas put greater value on different items. Someone in a more Northern location will value warm clothes more than someone in Florida.

The reality is you simply cannot turn your home and pantry into an extension of WalMart. No one has enough money and space to allow that. If you are going to collect items with the intention of using them for barter, be sure they are things you can use yourself in your own life should the exchange value not be as significant as you imagined pre-SHTF (not to mention if a SHTF event never occurs at all).

Barter exchange has been around since the start of humanity. There is no reason to think that would change. But bartering for products and services is far different from our present currency exchange systems that requires a very different understanding of how markets work in order to be successful. It should not be thought of as just the same as using dollars or other paper currency.

Guest post by Master Po, originally posted February 7, 2011.

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23 Must-Have Kitchen Items for Any Survivalist or Prepper

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kitchen must havesRegardless of how many #10 cans of “just-add-water-ready-to-eat” stuff you have, at some point you’re going to have to learn to use a kitchen in much the same way as your granny or your great-granny did, so we’ve put together this list of 38 essential kitchen items for any survivalist.

1. Matches

If you don’t smoke, why on earth would you need matches? Well, if you’re going to learn to cook like granny, that will probably include cooking on top of a wood heat stove or on a wood cook stove with an oven. I know there are ways to start a fire with a magnifying glass, some straw and some kindling, but believe me, matches are easier.

If you’re really good at starting and keeping a fire throughout the three daily meals, you could use as little as one match a day. If you’re not, 20 may not be enough. We have found that the most economical matches are book matches, like you get with a pack of cigarettes. They come in a box of 50 books, 20 matches per book, for about $1.50 in many stores. That’s a lot of lights for cheap. Wooden kitchen matches go for about $3.50 for 250 matches. See the difference? When you’re living off the grid, every penny counts.

2. Can-Opener

As an off-gridder, I’m definitely not talking about the kind of can opener that plugs into a wall. Have at least two good, sturdy hand operated can-openers. The newer ones from China do wear out. We’ve worn out quite a few. We also have an Army C-Ration P-38 can-opener. It takes a little practice to use this device, but once you get the groove going on it, you can open a #10 can in a few seconds.

3. Hand Grain Mill

We personally like the Wondermill Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill. (Read The Survival Mom’s review here.) For the money, it’s the best we have found. What can you do with it? Grind wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye, lentils into flour. It can also be used to make nut-butters, like pinion butter, walnut butter, chestnut butter. It will also make cornmeal. The uses are virtually endless, especially if you eat a lot of whole, natural foods. Not all grain mills can be used for this many purposes.

4. Cast Iron/Stainless Steel Cookware 

If you are going to be cooking over a wood stove of any kind, you need durable stainless steel or cast iron cookware. Aluminum (besides not being good for your health) tends to warp on wood cook stoves. Black, cast iron pans heat evenly, hold the heat for a long time and do not warp – not to mention giving you a little dose of iron in your food.

READ MORE: Check out all these uses for cast iron and this set of cast iron essentials.

5. Roasting Pans

Enamelware is best, and so is stainless steel. Make sure the roasting pan will fit into your oven! Wood cook stoves don’t have the same huge ovens as gas or electric stoves.

6. Tea Kettle 

Stainless steel or copper works best for this archaic kitchen appliance. In the winter, a steaming tea kettle on the wood stove not only serves as at-the-ready for tea or coffee, the steam warms and moisturizes the air. Just don’t let it boil down all the way before refilling it.

7. Colanders

Metal (stainless steel) is best. If you have or want some plastic colanders, understand that they will break over time, and most of them are made with BPA in the plastic.

8. Cookie Sheets

These versatile sheets can be used for breads, biscuits, cookies, for drying fruits or veggies. Avoid Teflon coatings or aluminum cookie sheets – get stainless steel.

9-21. Hand Utensils

Again, my recommendation is metal (stainless steel). It’s much better than plastic, and with stainless steel and cast iron cookware, you don’t have to worry about scratches:



Serving spoons

Serving forks

Slotted spoons

Pastry cutter

Rolling pin

Sharpening steel

Cheese grater/slicer


Potato peeler

Meat tenderizing hammer

22. Measuring Cups and Spoons 

Once again, stainless steel is the best choice for these. A 4-cup glass measuring cup with a pour-spout would be a nice addition, too. Pay attention to the measuring spoons and cups you use most and have at least one or two backups. Those also come in handy on days when you’re doing a lot of cooking and/or baking and reach for the same measuring tools over and over again.

23. Good knives

Good knives are ones that will keep a sharp edge for a reasonable amount of time, not go dull instantly upon use. If you can find old, carbon-steel knives in yard sales or flea markets, they are best – Old Hickory, Old Timers, Imperial are some brands to look for.

READ MORE: Check out The Survival Mom’s list of things to look for whenever you go to a thrift shop or yard sale.

Updated article originally authored by Sheila at SurvivingSurvivalism.

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Choosing Your Survival Shelter Location

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survival shelterThere you are, lost in the wilderness. You zigged when you should have zagged and have finally come to terms with the thought that you’re going to have to spend the night in the rough. With only an hour or so of daylight left, it is past time to choose your survival shelter location and get going on building it. Thankfully, you have a few supplies with you, such as a knife, an emergency blanket, and some paracord. You’ve also taken the time to study a bit about wilderness survival so cobbling together a small debris hut or lean to shouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming.

Before you begin construction, though, you should take the time to find a truly suitable location for the shelter. Doing so will help to avoid adding to your list of woes. Keep in mind, too, that all of these suggestions apply whether you’re in an actual survival situation or if you’re just out camping for the night. More than one casual hiker or Scout troop has been caught unawares and had a bad campsite turn a fun outing into a bad experience, or worse. Not to be dramatic, but your survival shelter location could determine if you survive or not.

Building materials.

First, if you are building some or all of the shelter from natural materials, such as a debris hut, you will probably want to locate your shelter near said supplies. It makes little sense to carry branches, logs, and such great distances if you don’t have to do so. Hopefully you’ll only be staying in the shelter a single night but, just in case, if you find a water source in the area, position your shelter near it, but not directly on it. We’re talking about conservation of energy, here. The less energy you expend having to harvest water, the more energy you’ll have for other necessary tasks.

You may also choose to use a natural cave or boulder to shelter, or  gather rocks together to form a wind break for your shelter. Gathering rocks has the secondary purpose of leaving a more comfortable area for you to lay down and sleep, as does gathering sticks for a debris hut or fire. The area under large trees is often sheltered from rain and snow, making it worth at least looking around under any large trees. Be careful of roots both in terms of where you are sleeping and where you build a fire. The last thing you want to do is accidentally set an entire tree on fire because the roots were in your fire pit!

You may also choose to gather materials such as dried grass, fir branches, or other softer materials to put down inside your shelter as a softer, warmer place to sleep. Bare ground is generally cooler than people, especially at night. The cooler temperatures can make sleeping uncomfortable, so putting an insulating layer (such as those listed above) can do a lot for your health and comfort.

Shelter location.

Next, take a moment to look above your chosen location. If you see any large dead branches, find a different spot. Those branches are called “widow makers.” You probably won’t want to be underneath one should it break loose and come crashing down. Sheltering under a large tree may give you a bit of added protection from the weather. There is a reason there is often a dry spot under large trees after even a heavy rain or snow fall.

Take a look around and see if there is evidence of large amounts of rain runoff. While the sky might be clear now, who knows what the night might hold. If you’re in a gulley or ditch, it might turn into a fast moving stream after a sudden downpour. If there is a log, line of rocks, or other natural structure, it could funnel water in a particular direction and you won’t want to put your shelter at that spot, but one side of it could also be less windy – and therefore warmer.

There is an awful lot of wildlife that is nocturnal, meaning the critters are most active after sundown. If your shelter is smack dab in the middle of the forest’s version of an interstate highway, you’re going to have a lot of visitors. Some of them might not be very happy that you are blocking traffic. While in a true survival situation we might be looking forward to bagging one or two Happy Meals on legs, you probably don’t want them crawling into bed with you or bumping into your shelter all night long. Remember to keep an eye out for buys when you choose your location.

If there is a patch of poison ivy, oak, etc. in the area, put your shelter in a place where you won’t be likely to walk straight into the poison. This is more of an issue for middle of the night bathroom pit-stops because you won’t be able to see anything and you want to minimize the chances you will walk through it, or use it for toilet paper.

Shelter orientation.

You should also plan out the orientation of your shelter. The sun may shine straight into it and wake you up. Do you want that? (The answer may be yes, or you may need to sleep longer.)

You don’t want the prevailing wind coming directly into the mouth or opening of the shelter, unless you know the night will be hot and the breeze welcome. This is doubly important if you’re building your fire near the opening of the shelter! The last thing you want is to have smoke and burning embers blowing in your face. If warmth is a concern, and it almost always is, build a reflecting wall of logs near the shelter opening, then make your fire between that wall and your shelter. You can use your Mylar blanket, if you have one, to reflect more heat toward you.

By giving just a little thought ahead of time, you can dramatically improve your situation and avoid further risks of injury.

Jim Cobb contributed to this article.

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Four Family Related Disasters Your Should Prepare For

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firedpreparing for the things that are more likely to happen to you such as a job loss, a long illness or broken bone. Other things to prepare for is a divorce, death of a loved one including a pet. It is the day-to-day things that we need to prepare for first before preparing for the large events such as a EMP, global economic collapse or some other national or global event.

The post Four Family Related Disasters Your Should Prepare For appeared first on Vigil Prudence.

20 Quality Prepper Gifts Under $20

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20 Prepper Gifts under $20Most preppers have so many things on their wishlist that it may seem like only those with a lot of spare money can manage it. Starting out, most of us have bought cheap items, not realizing just how low-quality they really were.

You don’t have to be a victim of cheap and poor quality survival gear and supplies — not when your life could depend on it!

Each of these prepper gifts is under $20, but the are still solid quality items, not cheap dime-store items.

These items are a solid foundation of items to get started, or a great round of upgrades for anyone who has been preparing just a bit longer. They are also a great place to get kids started. I still remember getting my first pocket knife (a knife I still own) as a kid, and my eldest loves his new mess kit.

Food and Water

1. Herb Terrarium Small, portable, easy to use, and herbs are good for both cooking and (sometimes) herbal medicine. What’s not to love?

2. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – The LifeStraw is only for one person, but provides water immediately, no fire or anything else needed. It’s easy enough that even very young children can safely use one.

3. Mess kit – In addition to the standard bowl, cup, and utensils, this kit has a small cutting board and container for spices. My teenage Scout loves having the spice shaker.

4. Pie Iron Sandwich Cooker – I’ll admit it. I just like hot sandwiches. This makes it easy to make them over a campfire. It’s just like when I went camping as a little girl.

5. WAPI (WAter Pasteurization Indicator) – Tiny, effective,  and a great way to purify water, the WAPI makes a great addition to any emergency kit. It is roughly the same amount of work for a cup of water or a big pot full of water.


6. Dryer balls and / or soapnuts – Dryer balls last for years. Once you have a set, you don’t need to buy dryer sheets again. Soapnuts don’t last nearly that long, but they are an all-natural, easily portable alternative to “regular” laundry detergent.

7. (Small) Emergency kit: mylar blanket, meds from home (small container with six to ten tablets each of ibuprofin, headache tablets, and antihistimine), water bottle, food, water tablets, trash bag, fleece blanket – This combination covers the most basic immediate needs in an emergency. Having a mylar and fleece blanket may seem redundant, but it will be softer and warmer than either one alone possibly could be.
(Note: Some items are in a multi-pack but you only need to include one in the kit.)

8. Flash drive – Use one just to store copies of all your critical documents (that’s a plural you – everyone you are responsible for, whether that’s your family or another group) and any other important files you need, such as .pdfs or even copies of e-books.

9. Solar flashlight or UVPaqlite – Batteries die, and we run out of them. Everyone, prepper or not, should have at least one flashlight (prefably a few) that does not rely on batteries. These are both great options.
(Note: The solar flashlight here is over $20, but it’s for a two pack, making each one under $20.)

10. Crackle Finish Zippo Lighter – Sure, you can buy a lighter for $0.99 in the check out line, but can you rely on it? When it counts? This is the classic Zippo lighter. It’s refillable, with a lifetime “fix it free” warranty, and Made in the USA.

11. Paracord belt or bracelet – It’s no secret that paracord has a ton of uses, so a paracord bracelet or belt is a natural gift. You can even make one yourself, if you want.

12. Work gloves – Inexpensive leather or disposable gloves have their place, but higher quality gloves that fit are just so much nicer to wear.

Health and First Aid

13. Breathe Healthy Face Mask – Face masks can be hard to breathe in, but the Breathe Healthy face mask is different. The fabric (tons of fun choices for kids and adults) has an anti-microbial coating that kills germs, but it still breathes well.  I have personally worn them for four hours straight on multiple occasions with no difficulty.

14. Essential Oils – This is a huge, potentially complicated topic, but it’s easy to get started with a few essential oils. Four Thieves is a popular choice for fighting off illnesses. Depending on personal needs, Muscle Relief, Anxiety Ease, or Breathe Easier might be good choices. Lavender and Tea Tree are also popular first choices. (I used Young Living oils for years and recommend them. However, I’ve recently discovered Edens Garden and they are excellent with lower prices.)

15. QuikClot – It’s small, unlikely to ever be needed, but if it is, it could save a life. Isn’t that worth under $20 and a little space in the glove compartment?

Camping and Outdoors

16. 2 Pack Edible Wilderness and Wilderness Survival Playing Cards – It’s easy to overlook the importance of entertainment, but a good set of playing cards can be a sanity-saver in an emergency of any size, even if it’s just to distract you while you wait to be seen in an emergency room. Having all those tips and that information just makes it that much easier to survive and thrive in a real wilderness survival situation.

17. Fixed Blade and whetstone – As great as pocket knives are, a longer fixed blade is better for some tasks. For example, a pocket knife is great for whittling the point on a stick for campfire cooking, but food can get stuck in the folding hinge and that’s potentially just all kinds of bad news. But a dull knife can be a danger and a frustration, so add a good whetstone or sharpening kit to help you sharpen it. (Pocket knives need one too.)

18. Pocket knife and sheath – A good pocket knife can help with cooking (sticks for food), entertainment (whittling), medicine (cauterizing – OK, I wouldn’t really recommend that), and all kinds of things. Fixed blades come with sheathes. Pocket knives don’t, but you still need one. It makes it easier and safer to carry one.

19. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad (Small, Silver/Sage) – This is a definite upgrade from the cheap big box store sleeping pads, but is not prohibitively expensive.

20. Wood splitting wedge – A simple tool, a solid wood splitting wedge massively speeds up splitting wood for fires or drying out (to use later for fires).

20 Prepper Gifts under $20

How Indecision Can Endanger Your Life

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How Indecision Can Endanger Your Life via The Survival Mom
My karate instructor often makes us do “kill me” drills. We, the students, have to stand with our eyes closed, wait to be “attacked” by a partner, and then execute a self-defense technique within one second of being attacked. If, when we open our eyes, we freeze or merely shriek in dismay, then my instructor says, “You took too long, you’re dead. He got you.”
My husband and I have been taking karate lessons for a very long time, and there are times that we still don’t do very well with this drill. Sometimes the most difficult part isn’t the execution of the technique or the timing, but trying to decide which cool technique out of all the many cool techniques in our arsenal we should use, because all of them are pretty awesome and have exciting-sounding names like, “Tiger Climbs the Mountain” and “Monkey Beats the Drums” and “The Dizzy Dragon.”
For the purpose of the exercise, it doesn’t matter which one you do, you just have to pick one. By the time your partner is stepping forward for the attack, it’s too late for hemming and hawing. The time for, “Umm?” and dithering has passed. It’s time to react.

Sometimes indecision doesn’t matter

Even during normal times it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision, especially in regards to the little things:

What color shirt should I wear today?

What flavor of ice cream should I buy?

Should I order something I already know I like from the restaurant’s menu, or branch out and try something new?

We dither, go back and forth, ask others for advice, etc. (“What do you think about this new entree? Is it good? What do you recommend?) Ordering lunch is hardly a crisis. A restaurant is (normally) a perfectly safe place to sit and think “umm” for as long as you need to.

However, in a real crisis, that indecision could realistically cost lives, including your own. I could cite many, many examples of this: fatalities as a result of Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, and Ike; or little Mary Ingalls who, when the chimney of her house caught fire, sat in a rocking chair gaping at it until her younger sister Laura saved her.

The time to make decisions is now

This is the “preparedness” part of “emergency preparedness.” If you know ahead of time what to do in a crisis and plan for a variety of contingencies, you will be much more likely to get through it to the other side. Think of things you must know immediately and instinctively to react in a sudden, possibly dangerous crisis. What decisions should you make now so there is no question at all when you must respond?

Every person’s list will be unique, but here are a few questions to get you started:
  1. Where do you keep our Go Bags and what should you put in them?
  2. Where is there always a set of spare keys?
  3. Which compartment in your purse has the pepper spray?
    Imagine, if you will, needing it right then but having to dig to the bottom of your purse first, having to pull out extra diapers, little Johnny’s collection of toy cars, and a box of crayons.
  4. Is there a specific place in the house where you keep band-aids and antibiotic cream?
  5. Who are your emergency contacts, are their numbers pre-programed into your phone, and can the kids find them?
  6. If you have specialized emergency gear (HAM radio, water purification gadgets/ tablets, solar-powered cell phone charger), do you know how to actually use them?
  7. If you have to evacuate when you’re at home and the kids are at school, where/ when/ how will you meet up?
  8. What, besides, your Go Bags, should you take?
  9. In the event of a planned evacuation,at what point will you pack up and leave?

Practice, practice, practice.

In a lot of ways, answering the questions on your list will involve not just thinking things through but doing dry runs. This is why evacuation drills are so important. American embassies and military bases do evacuation drills on a regular basis for this very reason.

BUY NOW! Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most by Lisa Bedford.

If you must execute an urgent evacuation and have 15 minutes to load up your car, buckle your kids, and get on the highway, there will be no time for panicking, and no time for “umm.” If, however, you have practiced, you will know what to do, where to go, what to say, etc. These things should be automatic and mindless.

Some decisions, like the ones listed above, can be made well ahead of time. Training yourself to react when you have fractions of a second to make a choice is more difficult. And there will be times when you will have to choose to do something, even when the pros and cons of each choice are not clear. Do you swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the deer, or take your chances with the deer? Do you evacuate into dicey conditions to avoid the hurricane, or stick it out, not knowing exactly how your neighborhood will be affected by the storm?

If you wait too long to decide, the decision will be made for you, and it may not be the one you really wanted. And there won’t be any take-backsies, either: You will have to be committed to your decision and its consequences.

Being prepared

Back to the discussion about the karate drill. Ideally, in the seconds before the attack comes, as far as the drill is concerned, you’ll be able to think, “OK, I’ll do such-and-such and it will be fine.” But what if, in the heat of the moment, you find that your opponent is coming in at the wrong angle for your chosen technique to be effective? Or he’s moving too slowly? Too quickly?

If you’ve practiced your martial arts techniques enough, in the heat of the moment your training will take over and your muscles will know what to do, even if your brain is still a few seconds behind. This may mean altering the technique to your circumstances or choosing a different technique at the last nanosecond. You’ll be able to adapt to the unexpected, without consciously realizing it, thereby effectively defending yourself.

Put another way: The time to prepare is not in the seconds before the attack, but in all the time you’ve been taking karate lessons up to that point. (Ever thought of becoming involved in the martial arts? Here’s how to choose a dojo!)

If you haven’t discussed things with your family, sit down with them and do it as soon as possible. Pick a time and have an evacuation drill. Thinking ahead and planning out your overall plan for a crisis will not only make the experience more effective, it will also make it less stressful on all concerned.
How Indecision Can Endanger Your Life via The Survival Mom

Let The Sun Do The Cooking!

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Use the free heat of the sun to cook your food. It is easy and energy efficient. It saves on fuel cost and  in the summer helps to keep you cool by not having to heat up the house with your stove. With solar cooking it is cooked with lower temperatures that will not burn the food and makes it easy to just let it cook away without stirring or checking all of the time. Set it in the heat of the sun and come back after a few hours to a well- cooked meal.

A great idea is to set it up on a table that can spin so that you can make it follow the sun during the day. Makes it easy for us with bad backs, also. Don’t have to pick up the whole cooker, just spin the table the bit that it needs turned.You can easily cook all year long with a All Season Solar Cooker.  You can bake bread, cookies, and cakes in a solar cooker. The best thing to make , since it is set and cooking all day, is stews, beans, soups, and casseroles.

You can easily make one. The links below have plans for making them and recipes.

Having a solar cooker is great for kids , also. They can learn to use one easily and be cooking in one in no time. My son was 7 years old when he made one out of a pizza box. It worked pretty good. He baked cookies in it and did some hot dogs. It was fun for him and he learned a lot about the sun and how it works.
Get the whole family involved.


Start prepping… I have no idea what to do???

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how to start preppingSo you want to delve into the world of preparedness? Welcome… and prepare to be overwhelmed. It is not your fault. We have all been there. With good intentions, you will plan and plot to prepare yourself for any disaster your imagination can contrive. Like you, we had no clue what to do.

Do not distress! Below are four easy steps to get you started.

1. Do a personal risk assessment

Domestic risks: Look at your home and home life. What are the possible events that could occur? Some examples may be a health crisis of elderly or disabled family members, a medical emergency, or unemployment. Consider safety in your home. Carbon monoxide, fire, property damage from fire, burst pipes, etc.
Geographical risks: Where do you live? Tornado alley, hurricane territory, fire or earthquake areas, maybe areas of extreme heat or cold? Check to see if you are at risk of mudslides, overflowing rivers and dams.
Local risks: Observe what is outside of your home. What disasters could happen in your area? Consider civil unrest, chemical plants, refineries, hazardous materials transported by rail or road.

2. Food and water

Even if it is enough to get you through 72 hours of any emergency, go get it. Water is an inexpensive, yet life essential. Use your risk assessment as your guide. Purchase food that you will be able to prepare and eat according to your possible risks. Don’t forget food for any pets you may have. They will be hungry too.

3. Medical and personal items

• Start with those in your home with medical or health issues. Take into consideration, medicine and medical supplies. In addition to specialty drinks/food and equipment, this may include incontinence supplies and other daily disposable items.
• A good quality first aid kit also needs to be on hand. It should cover the basic OTC medicine, along with bandages, gauze and medical tape.
• If you have a baby in the home, remember to have extra diapers and wipes. Also stock up on additional menstrual supplies.

4. Basic survival

• Basic items would be toilet paper, batteries, flashlights, a radio, matches, and cash. Again, go over your risk assessment and decide what you will need.
• Have fuel on hand. Make a habit or filling your gas tank when it gets to half empty. Have fuel on hand to cook with, heat your home and any light source.
• Make copies of important papers. Prescriptions, family contacts, insurance information, doctors’ numbers, etc.

These four steps can get you off to a good start into a prepper’s world. You will have some peace knowing that you can get through a small emergency. All of these steps can be looked into at a more expansive and deeper level. As you continue to work on being prepared, you will develop skills and confidence you did not know you had.
how to start prepping

Water Storage 101

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Water Storage 101We all need water. In as little as three days without it, a person can perish. Water is a vital part of being prepared. How much do you really need? How should you store it? How often should you rotate water storage? What can you do at the last minute? Let’s explore what experts say on those topics.

How much water do you need?

The American Red Cross recommends that you store 1 gallon of water per person per day. However, The Survival Mom recommends 2 gallons per person per day. Why? Think over a typical day and what you use water for – drinking, preparing food, washing clothes, washing dishes, taking a shower, brushing teeth, watering plants, filling pets’ water dishes, flushing toilets, making coffee. You could even take a gallon of water around with you for a day and see if that is really enough.

In a survival situation, you will also need water to sanitize and clean if you can’t use a dishwasher or washing machine. There can be a difference between the amount of water you absolutely need to have and the amount of water you need to make life comfortable. Consider, too, that babies and pregnant and nursing mothers often need more water than others. If you live in a hot or dry climate, take that into considerations as well.

After you figure out how much water you want to have on hand per person per day, then you need to decide how many days of water supply you want to have on hand. The basic recommendation is for three days (72 hours), but there are disaster scenarios that will have you wanting to have water on hand for more than three days.

How should you store water?

One of the easiest options is buying bottled water. It will require doing a little bit of math to figure out how many bottles you need, but generally about 8 bottles of water equals one gallon. If there are four people in your family, you’ll need at least 32 bottles of water per day. Cases usually have 24 bottles for a few dollars. For a basic week’s worth of water, you’d need just under 10 cases. Double that if you want 2 gallons a day per person.

If you want to store water in containers, make sure they are food grade containers. They should be thoroughly cleaned before being filled. Two-liter soda bottles are another option after they’ve been cleaned. Milk and juice jugs are not recommended for use because the sugars and milk proteins cannot be completely washed off the containers and can lead to bacterial growth. Glass containers can be used, but are heavy and can break. You can sanitize containers by soaking them for at least 30 seconds in a mixture that is 1 teaspoon bleach in 1 quart of water.

Water stored in containers may need to be treated by adding some bleach before storage.

How often should you rotate?

For water bottles, you can rotate them by the expiration or use-by date. For water you store yourself, rotate the water every six months.

Keep scent-free, dye-free bleach on hand for treating, sanitizing and purifying water. (Basically, you don’t want any additives in the bleach that could end up in your drinking water.) Bleach has a shelf life and starts to break down after six months. It needs replaced every 16 months. Rotate your bleach bottles frequently to ensure you have effective bleach on hand.

Other sources of water

If you haven’t stored up any water and the emergency is happening now, there are still some steps you can take. Start filling containers and bathtubs with water. If you don’t have a Water BOB to hold the water, clean the bathtub first, if at all possible. You can find more water in the hot water heater. Ice cubes can be melted and liquid can be found in canned goods. Do not consume any water or liquid that has a very unusual odor or color.

Potential outside sources of water include rain water, ponds, streams, lakes and springs. Outside sources of water need to be purified before drinking. Depending on your resources, timing, and the contamination of the water, boiling and/or iodine will treat many pathogens.

If the emergency involves contaminated water, you may need to shut off the main water valve to your home (Do you know where it is?). Be sure not to drink any possible contaminated water unless it has been purified, assuming that is possible. In the case of a chemical spill, it may simply be too dangerous to drink the water until the situation has been contained. And children are more susceptible to contaminated water than adults.

Last-minute tips

You don’t spend all your time at home so be sure to store water at work and in your vehicles as well. I always have a case of water in our minivan, and, with little children, it has come in handy for every day life, not just traffic jams and emergencies.

If you end up facing a long-term power outage, you may not have water flowing in your home. The generators that run city water could run out of fuel and well pumps that run on electricity won’t work. Every drop of water will be precious. Consider storing containers to hold water that can be re-used for sanitation, washing dishes and washing clothes. Look into having a rain barrel or storing water in 55-gallon drums so you have a long-term water solution. Water purifiers intended for multiple people to use repeatedly, rather than something like tablets or bleach that will run out far more quickly, are also a good investment.

For more information and details on water storage, visit:



FEMA and Red Cross

Disaster Preparedness Plan – Think Beyond The Moment

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mindWe live in troubled times, if you don’t think so just look what the people in Paris have gone through lately. So much can change in a second, be it a terrorist attack or something simple like an escalator stopping. What? Prudence, how can you include the attacks in Paris and an escalator stopping in […]

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Situational Awareness: Staying Safe When Life Gets Dangerous

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situation awarenessMy eldest recently received his learner’s permit, also known as his “temps” in these parts. When you’ve been driving for almost 30 years, there’s a whole lot of stuff that is just second nature. You don’t give any real, conscious thought to looking both ways before proceeding into an intersection, lighted or otherwise. Keeping one eye on the traffic coming your way so as to ensure none of those cars are veering into your lane is just a matter of routine.

To a new driver, though, all of that is new and can be confusing. How do I keep an eye on the road in front of me, the cars around me, the speedometer, and the fuel gauge, while keeping track of where I am and where I’m going, all at the same time? After a while, all of it becomes second nature, though, right? It just takes some time and some practice to develop the appropriate habits.

The same can be said about situational awareness.

What is situational awareness?

For those not in the loop, situational awareness is simply being very aware of your surroundings, and any potential danger around you. Many refer to it as keeping your head on a swivel, always looking around to see what’s what. I like to think of it as taking the blinders off. Entirely too many people are rather oblivious to the world around them. Either their eyes are glued to their phones or they are just lost in thought, sort of drifting through their day. Given the ear buds that are often in place as well, these people may as well be blind and deaf.

In other words, they are easy targets.

By lifting your head and watching the world around you, you’re in a much better position to not only detect and avoid possible threats but react to them quickly and efficiently. I don’t necessarily mean leaping into action like a super hero but rather walking around the open manhole rather than falling into it. Or maybe crossing to the other side of the street so as to avoid the group of questionable looking youths huddled together on the next block.

For many people, the hardest part of situational awareness is putting their phone away and turning off the music, or at least turning down the volume. And just like when you started driving, it might seem as though you’re overwhelmed at trying to pay attention to everything. That will subside after some time and you’ll become used to actually seeing the world, rather than experiencing it through the screen of a phone.

What if you don’t see the danger until too late?

The sad truth is that sometimes you can’t see danger until it is too late. I can’t imagine the horror of being in a place like Charlie Hebdo, the Twin Towers, or the Parisian concert hall that was attacked. Any signs were probably visible to those outside, not inside, if at all. Nonetheless, some people were better situated to survive than others.

One man recounted how he was able to escape from terrorists while the gunmen reloaded. First of all, he had the presence of mind, like the American heroes on a train mere months earlier, to act while they were reloading and able to shoot as quickly. Secondly, he had a seat that was near the front of the theater – near an exit door. He helped at least one injured person to escape with him. Some of his friends managed to find a small room in the building to hide in. Their quick thinking and action may have saved their lives.

When you enter somewhere like a restaurant, seat yourself with your back to the wall, able to see the doors (if there are multiples, watch the main door), and make note of where any exits are. If you can, mentally make a plan for how to get from your seat to each exit with your whole party. Be sure to take into account any obstacles, like a hostess stand or walls. (Some restaurants have half walls that you may not notice if your situational awareness is truly offline.)

If something does happen, you will be better prepared to react. If you have half an eye on the door and notice the tip of a rifle poke through ahead of a black ski mask, how do you think that will affect your response time versus that of someone sitting with their back to the door whose first warning something has gone wrong is either the sound of gunfire or shots, or the expression of someone else in the room?

If you have been practicing situational awareness, then you have a far better chance of realizing what is happening quickly and finding a way to escape or hide until it’s over. That”s not a guarantee, of course, but it’s far better than being one of the sheeple.

Why bother?

An added benefit to exercising situational awareness is that it gives you an air of confidence. Muggers and other ne’er do wells like to choose victims who look timid, afraid, or unaware of their surroundings. Those who keep their heads on swivels are, or at least appear to be, none of those things. They are also more likely to notice a mugger or ne’er do well long before they are able to cause trouble for them.

At least as importantly as noticing bad people on a normal day, being aware of your surroundings means you will notice uneven sidewalks before you twist an ankle or break a heel, friends you would otherwise pass without speaking, and all manner of public notices – including clearance sales and warnings of upcoming road closures. Practicing situational awareness automatically means you aren’t online all the time. If your whole family is doing this, you have automatically cut down on your kids screen time, possibly dramatically. You may even have increased how much you are all talking to each other, although teens are notoriously bad about talking to their parents.

If it isn’t already clear, the idea here is not to behave as though every trip to the post office is a dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines. Rather, it is just to keep your eyes focused on what’s around you, instead of watching for the latest Facebook status updates. We live in a beautiful world, take the time to actually experience it when you’re out and about. And if something bad happens and it helps you survive, all the better.

Test yourself

With a friend, go somewhere with a lot of people, like a park or a mall. Take a few minutes to observe what is going on around you. Have your friend ask you questions about what you saw, heard, smelled, and possibly felt. Try this under different circumstances, such as going to a quieter place. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature.

Now that you understand what you need to do, do it. Don’t use headphones when you are out and about – save them for the house, or when you are a passenger in a vehicle.  Keep your head up. Most importantly, simply pay attention to the world around you. As an added bonus, you’ll start really noticing the (literal) roses, sunsets, and other beautiful sights you have been walking past every day.

Thanks to Jim Cobb for providing insights for this article.

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Down and Dirty With Cloth Diapers

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cloth diapersIn discussions of infant-centered emergency preparedness, the topic of cloth diapers inevitably gets brought up.

“They’re good for 72 hour kits because you can reuse them,” is what I hear most often.

“So good for when the SHTF,” is another one.

There’s just one problem – I’ve noticed that the people gushing about the emergency preparedness applications of cloth diapers don’t actually use them, themselves. This creates the false impression that one could simply go out, buy some diapers to put in your B.O.B, and have done with it.

Yeah, that’s not really how it works. There are a lot of good things to say about cloth diapers. I’ve been using them for a little over four years, now, with three children, so I have at least some knowledge base here. We did save some very real money by opting for cloth; the initial cost will tend to turn your hair white. Our preferred brand tends to run about $18 per diaper, but in the long run we saved at least $1000, if not more.

Many people choose cloth diapers for their babies, and for a wide variety of reasons. Some parents are concerned about carcinogens found in disposable diapers, others favor the physical appearance of the diapers. Whatever reason you may have for looking into cloth diapers, there are some things you need to know about how to use them before you choose to rely on them in an emergency.

Before I continue, I should clarify what I mean when I say “cloth diapers,” because there are many different kinds. Most people hear the term and think of the old-fashioned prefolds that were worn with plastic or rubber pants. Those are certainly still around and are available for purchase, but doesn’t represent the current landscape of the cloth diaper market. Most people I know (myself included) prefer one-size pocket diapers – these have adjustable snaps, and must be stuffed with a liner, usually made of microfiber or similar. My kids have worn them from about three weeks after birth until potty training. And yes, they have lasted that long, too. There are also “snap-in-one” diapers, “all-in-one” diapers, and hybrid diapers. And with the invention of the snappi and polyurethane laminate covers, even flats and prefolds have experienced advances.

Reasons Why You Might Want To Think Again

  1. Cloth diapers are re-usable, but require a large amount of water to wash them. This should be a major consideration when packing your Bug-Out-Bag. 72 hour kits are for evacuations – will you be evacuating to a place that is guaranteed to have laundry facilities? If you don’t have access to a washing machine, will you at least have a bathtub, and will you be okay with doing diaper laundry by hand? These are important questions you need to ask yourself.
  2. Using cloth diapers can involve something of a learning curve. There are many different brands of cloth diaper, and depending on your baby’s physique (e.g. chubbiness of legs in proportion to the circumference of their waist) some brands may be more prone to leaks than others. Some problems can be solved by fiddling with the diaper itself, but other problems may require that you purchase another brand altogether.
  3. You will need more than just the diapers: wet bags, diaper sprayers, and special detergent. If you attempt to make the switch to cloth without the use of these accessories, it will be that much harder for you. It is absolutely essential that you use only cloth-diaper-friendly detergent on your cloth diapers. Regular detergent can lead to a build-up of soapy residue that will negatively impact the diapers’ absorbency and consequently shorten the life of the diaper.
  4. Cloth diapers require time and maintenance. I’ve had at least one child in diapers, and sometimes two, for four years. In that span of time, I have had to do an extra load of laundry at least every three days. When I had very young babies, it was closer to every other day and, at times, even daily.

So what’s in my own 72-hour kits? Disposables, known to my kids as “paper diapers.” They don’t take up as much room as cloth diapers, and don’t require any maintenance. They are a good solution to have on hand for times that require quick and easy diaper changes with little fuss.

You’ll probably read the above and be sworn off cloth diapers forever, because of how dull and dreary-sounding it appears. I hope you decide to keep reading, though, because there are more points to consider.

Reasons Why You Should Make The Switch to Cloth Diapers

  1.  A short-term emergency is one thing; what about a long-term emergency? Say there’s a tremendous disruption in shipping, and Costco’s inventory runs dry and you can’t get disposable diapers anywhere, not for love or money. Having cloth diapers on hand could be a real blessing, especially if you are already familiar with them. Even without the SHTF scenario hanging over your head, you won’t ever run out of diapers if you have a stash of “fluff.” Gone will be the days of midnight runs to the store to get more diapers.
  2. Cloth diapers last a long time. I got, on average, about two and a half years of use out of each of my posh bumGenius diapers. They don’t last forever and do wear out, but are extremely cost effective in the long run. “Old-school” diapers – prefolds and flats – have been known to last a decade or more.
  3. Yes, you do save money. Lots of money. I only wish I kept track of exactly how much money we’ve saved over the four years we’ve had our cloth diapers. We did need to purchase additional cloth diapers when my daughter was first born, and that set us back about $250, including the cost of detergent. Compare this to the average estimated cost of disposable diapers in a child’s first year, about $600. Our electric and water bills have not been significantly impacted since we began using cloth.
  4. Less trash in the landfill. Take a walk down the diaper aisle at any grocery store. Everything in that aisle is going to go straight into the trash.

A note on the Mommy Wars

The Cloth vs. Disposables debate has been at times heated and bloody. Rather than engage the rhetoric from either side, I’ll try to be a little diplomatic: as you’ve seen above, both kinds of diaper have their pros and cons. Circumstances change, and your situation may warrant one over the other. Some children develop horrible rashes in response to cloth diapers, in which you could argue that disposables are in the best interest of the child, if you have a choice. Other babies, however, get rashes from disposables.

My two boys loved their cloth diapers, but my daughter (now on the cusp of potty training.) starts crying if I try to put a cloth diaper on her. To be fair, her skin is more sensitive than her brothers’, and she breaks out in hives. It’s a battle that I have ceased to fight; after four years of exclusive cloth diapering, wherein I have battled a myriad of rashes and yeast infections and all kinds of things, I bought a big ol’ pack of disposables last week. I felt a little like I was abandoning my principles, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Have any of you had any experience using cloth diapers in during an emergency? What was your experience?

Cloth Diapers

Post-EMP Survival: What If You Can’t Get Home?

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Post-EMP Survival: What If You Can't Get Home via The Survival Mom
One of the most haunting emails I’ve received this year is from Mallory:
I recently started reading your blog (love it!) and have your EMP First 15 Steps PDF. I have a couple more business trips planned for the rest of 2015, and some are quite a distance from home. I wondered if you could give any advice at all on what I should prep for, gear-wise or even mentally?
The thought of an EMP happening when I am NOT at home, maybe not with my spouse and children, it scares me.  I just want to be as prepared as I can be, because who knows when something like this could happen — 2 minutes from now or 2 years from now?
Once you’re aware of a power grid failure due to an EMP, cyberterrorism, or a solar event, you can’t help but share Mallory’s worries.
This past month I’ve been reading Ted Koppel’s newest book, Lights Out, and, frankly, it has done nothing to ease my concerns. In fact, in this book, he clearly lays out how our nation’s leaders have done virtually nothing to protect our power grid from any type of attack, nor are there effective plans in place to help the millions of citizens who will be completely unprepared.
He knows because as part of his research, he interviewed those who should know, such as Janet Napolitano, Leon Panetta, and Admiral William Gortney, who provided a Pentagon news briefing earlier this year on the topic of power grid vulnerability.

You can never get home, or can you?

One memorable example from Lights Out that might provide at least one solution for Mallory and others in her position is Craig Kephart’s plan.
Craig is an avid bicyclist and a prepper. They live in an upscale area of St. Louis and his business requires that he make frequent business trips around the country. From the book:
“Craig worries that he may be trapped out of town and that all conventional forms of travel could be shut down. He always carries enough cash so that, no matter which city he’s in, he would be able to buy a bicycle, biking shoes, and whatever other equipment he would need to take him back to St. Louis.”
“Craig assumes that he could ride 150 to 200 miles a day. He’s thought about this a lot. “Last place I want to be is in a major metropolitan area during a time of national crisis.”
Craig’s plan might be a very effective one for him, in the case of a cyberterrorist attack. This type of attack on our power grid would disable the grid itself but wouldn’t be as devastating as an electro-magnetic pulse.
Craig has realized that getting home from hundreds of miles away when the world has erupted into chaos won’t be easy and he’s come up with a plan and is training for that possibility. If this should happen, there will be countless scenarios which he may not have anticipated, but at least he has a plan for getting home. Your plan should include:
  1. Transportation. Planning on hoofing it home? Better start getting into super-shape now!
  2. Water. Where you’re stranded and the terrain between you and home will determine if you will be able to find a plentiful supply of water on a regular basis. If you’re not sure you can, stay where you are.
  3. Food. Can you set traps? Hunt and fish using alternative methods? Can you identify edible and medicinal wild plants? Do you know which parts are edible and which are poisonous? Do you know how to start a small fire for cooking and purifying water, and, if so, what will you use for a cooking pot? These are just a few of the issues to consider.
  4. Shelter.  Putting up a lean-to is one thing, but surviving the elements within that shelter is quite another.
  5. Security. You may be surrounded by people more desperate than you. More fit, more strong than you. Can you survive on your wits alone? What self-defense skills do you have?
  6. Weather and terrain. Those will both change as you travel. Are you ready for all possibilities? Do you know of alternate routes that might be easier or would allow you to avoid populated areas?

5 Possible ways to survive post-EMP when miles separate you and your loved ones

In my view, being stranded from home in a post-EMP world would leave you with few options. As part of my own research into EMP survival, here are a few viable options in case the worst really does happen and you are dozens, if not hundreds, of miles from home.

  1. Head home regardless, carrying with you the basics for survival, or whatever you can acquire. Survival novels are full of tales of determined men, making their way home to their families over hundreds of miles. This option might work if you are in good physical shape, have no health issues, and are blessed with an enormous amount of luck. It wouldn’t hurt if the terrain between you and your family has multiple supplies of water. Forget it if you have more than just a few miles of desert to traverse.
  2. Stay put and lay low. If you have the skills and knowledge, set up a wilderness camp and use your ingenuity and Boy Scout skills to live off the land. You’ll end up dying a pretty quick death, most likely, but this is an option.
  3. Stay put and try to become an indispensable part of another household or group. If you have a bank of life-saving skills, such as knowing how to grow and preserve food, medical training, or can help guard your new group of fellow survivors. When the infrastructure begins to be rebuilt, you can then begin heading home.
  4. Stay put and start a new life. This option isn’t necessarily pessimistic. Given the circumstances, you may have no other choice.
  5. Do a little bit of both. Combine stints on the road, always heading homeward, with time spent staying with a community or with a family. They might be grateful for the additional help with physical labor and whatever practical skills you possess may help get them through a difficult time until you’re able to travel again.
A number of my readers mentioned seeing Ted Koppel on various news shows discussing his book and the very likely event of a significant cyberterror attack on the power grid. My guess is that this weekend there are thousands of new “preppers” who suddenly realize their comfortable lives are built on a very shaky foundation and that the very government they pay taxes to, has no plan to save them if the worst happens.
I recommend Lights Out as an informative and very well researched book on the topic of grid failure and the likelihood of cyberterrorism.
Direct link to Lights Out on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Hl7Jw4 (affiliate)
Here’s a free excerpt from the book: bit.ly/KoppelExcerpt
Post-EMP Survival: What If You Can't Get Home via The Survival Mom

Boil Water Alert

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bwaA boil water alert means that you should not consume water from your normal municipal water source until you boil it to a rolling boil for at least a minute. Consume means, drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing dishes and pet bowls. Without water you and I as humans won’t last much longer than three days. […]

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Preparing For Spiritual Warfare

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armorThere was an article posted on The Blaze last week about a man who entered a church with the intend to do harm. Now for this article the religion of church he entered doesn’t matter nor does the profession of the religion of the bad guy. The point of this article is a reminder that […]

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Simple Rain Water Catchment System

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waterbarrelsNext to air, water is the most important thing you need to sustain life. You can only live about three days without water. Regardless of the area you are in, it is always a good idea to some water stored water or better yet a source of continuous water such as a well, stream, pond, […]

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Six Tips For When Communication And Information Go Silent

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radioInstant communication. If you are like me, you have become used to it, actually expect it. You have instant communication with your family and friends not just through phone calls, but email and text messages. In addition to that, if you are like most, you also communicate instantly what you are having for lunch or […]

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MRE For Lunch

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MRESome may think that a MRE or Meal Ready To Eat, is something that you have in case of a disaster or during a some sort of survival situation. Those who say that would be correct. MRE’s, however, can be eaten for any occasion, such as a MRE for lunch. Let me explain. As any […]

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Prepare For And Adjust To A Financial Collapse

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njnmnwThere is a lot of talk about the possibilities of a financial collapse. There are a lot of indicators that a financial collapse is possible. In my humble opinion, I believe a financial collapse is probable, but this blog isn’t about the indicators of what leads me to that opinion.  No, today I want to […]

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The Right Shoes

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gphsDisasters.   Sometimes you get warning, such as a big snow storm or hurricane approaching.  Most of the time they come as a complete surprise with little to no warning.  Think of the Boston marathon bombing….no warning at all.  What about a natural disaster like a tornado, very little warning or time to prepare. One […]

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Four Things To Consider Before Buying A Bug Out Location

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bolWe have all heard about the need to have a bug out location. I actually prefer to call it a second home as I don’t intend to use it only when I need to bug out.  After all, this is an investment, why not use it on a regular basis. Regardless, there are four important […]

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