Today’s Prep: Refining Gasoline Storage Plan

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There I was, with a 5 gallon plastic gasoline container hoisted up on my shoulder, spout down into a funnel which was in my truck.  Glug glug glug….pause, glug glug.  PAINFULLY slow transfer of my storage gas to the truck, I made the decision right there that I would no longer use plastic storage containers and migrate to all Eagle Safety cans (metal).  I have one can which I keep in the bed of my truck at all times and with the provided funnel mated to it, I can dump gas into my truck relatively quickly.  I’ve used it to help others on the side of the road and I like the fact that it’s nice a robust and won’t swell in the heat like pastic cans.

The one thing that stopped me from transitioning was price, the Eagle cans are between $50-$60 locally and part of me just didn’t want to dump (no pun intended) $200 on 4 cans for storage.  Off to Amazon I went and behold, the cans are there with free shipping for $33 each.

Here is a description from the manufacturer.

Eagle Mfg UI-50-FS Gasoline Can, Type-I, 5-Gal

“Type I Safety Can, 5 gal. Capacity, Red, Used For Flammables, Material Galvanized Steel, Height 15-1/2 In., Outside Dia. 12-1/2 In., Standards FM, UL, ULC, OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106, NFPA Code 30, Includes Polyethylene Pour Funnel.

Eagle 5 gallon Type I red safety cans (UI50FS) are constructed of 24-gauge hot dipped galvanized steel, are the only deep drawn seamless can made, have a double interlock no-weld bottom seam, a baked on powder coat finish with a trilingual label, have a spring closing lid with neoprene gasket that vents at 5 psi internal pressure, have a non-sparking flame arrestor and pour spout and are 100 percent made in the USA. Eagle Manufacturing Company’s 5 gallon, Type I red safety can (for flammable liquids) meets OSHA and NFPA Code 30 requirements and are UL and ULC listed and FM approved for safe handling and storage of gasoline and other flammable liquids (Accepted Under CARB).”

The Bottom Line

I’ve been rotating gas out for a number of years now, I like to keep it stored on site for generators or other emergency situations.  Yet one thing I always found annoying were the plastic containers, the now impossible “safety” spouts and even when aftermarket spouts were purchased the ridiculously slow pour rate. Not to mention I feel like plastic just is not as safe as metal, call it a hunch.  If you can swing it I suggest moving to metal can storage as well, even if it’s just one single can.  Remember to store the gas in the appropriate place (read these tips on storage) and cycle through it frequently!

 

Bugging OUT is for REAL

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I’ve written some articles in the past and shot some video related to bugging out, there are always the naysayers who scoff at the idea.  I think what needs to be understood is that the concept of bugging out needs to be kept in context, I’m not talking about some fantasy out of a prepper book where one narrowly avoids government opporession and with $200 of REI gear heads to the woodline to foster a community and live off the land.  Um….right.  What I AM talking about is the fire that’s burning approximately 2 miles from my location and the level 1 evacuation emergency that has just been put out by local officials.  Mostly likely this 2+ acre fire (which I believe was started by lightning) will be contained, I count 2 helicopters, 2 airplanes and who knows how many are on the ground currently.  Yet, there could be a real need to pick up and leave in a short amount of time, hence….a bugout.

Currently around the country there are many who have faced bugout situations, some on much shorter notice than others.  Hurricanes coming up through the center of the country, massive flooding on the east coast and oh by the way a volcanic eruption still ongoing in Hawaii.  Get your stuff, get out and you may or may not be able to come back to your home.  Decisions must be made, what’s important and what’s not, how much space and time do you really have.  Will roads be closed and are there alternate routes, where is the final destination and much more.  Having stated all that here are a few considerations I’ve come up with, this is not an all inclusive list.

Bugout Considerations

  • Tiered bugout strategy, by that I mean have a 1 day, 1 hour, 5 min strategy to get out.  This is all time driven.
  • Have essentials pre-staged or at least identified, know what you need to take…what you want to take…and what gets left behind.
  • Yet another reason why you never park your vehicle with less than 1/2 a tank of gas in it just in case
  • Talk through with your family what to do if everyone is home, everyone is not or you are split up
  • Rally point primary and alternate (where are you bugging out to)
  • Consider a safe deposit box at a local bank for critical documents just in case you are not home and can’t get out what you need
  • Rehearse and validate load plans, do all of those containers actually fit in the back of your SUV along with the dog(s) and other items?
  • Sign up via your smart phone for text alerts from local agencies, this is helpful in many instances

There are more considerations but those are just a few, please feel free to add your own in the comment section.  I think more than anything we just need to acknowledge that, driven mostly by natural events / distasters, the need to bugout could certainly arise and we mut be prepared.  I’m happy to report that in my instance the smoke seems to have died down but the planes and helo’s are stilly flying, hopefully it will be all contained in a few hours.

 

Preparedness Foods: 10% Off Coupon at Rainy Day Foods

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I’m pleased to annouce that I’ve partnered with RainyDayFoods.com to bring you all a 10% off Coupon to be used on their website.  Storage foods / supplies are an essential part of the preparedness process, be it for short term outages or the localized natural disasters that we see manifesting themselves throughout the country.  I have personally spoken with the owners of Rainy Day Foods and vetted them before presenting them to you all, they have been in this business for decades and have sent semi truck loads of food storage supplies time and time again.  They live what they preach and I do hope to continue to do business with them going forward, a owner/operator company vs one of the larger big box store types I’ve worked with in the past.

COUPON CODE: “BEPREPARED” for 10% Off!

Please use this coupon code while on their website to save 10% off your purchase.  They have all sorts of food and water storage products, grinders / mixers, dryers, emergency medical and other supplies.

RainyDayFoodsWebsite

Rainy Day Foods

Soup and MRE’s

I was able to secure a few supplies for my own prep stash while working with the folks at Rainy Day Foods.  I needed a new box of MRE’s because some of the supply that I have are currently coming up at the end of their shelf life (5-7 years or so).  Additionally I do like buckets, they store easily and have a nice (longer) shelf life, in this instance I went with a soup mix which will compliment the other supplies I have nicely.

ABC Soup Mix and MRE’s

The Bottom Line

Storage and emergency supplies are just one part of a balanced prep plan, but an essential part nonetheless.  As I type this folks are facing serious flooding in some parts of the country and wildfires and other disasters are waiting just around the corner.  Stay ready and have what you need on hand, don’t be the guy standing in the long line at the grocery store trying to snatch that last case of water or canned food.

 

Climbed Pikes Peak: Lesson’s Learned

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Around 13,500 ft, close to the summit

Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs and the Barr Trail to the summit: 13 miles, 7500 ft elevation gain (to over 14k ft) and the last few thousand feet fighting snow and ice.  Many folks who do this trek take 2 days choosing to overnight at the Barr camp about 7 miles in from the trailhead.  Why make it easy, we decided to do it all in one day stepping off promptly at 6 am.  10 hours later (including breaks) we made the summit which was no small miracle.  I have often said that a cornerstone to preparedness is mental toughness because when the chips are down and all the cool gear purchased at REI is lost and the realization that nobody is coming to save you sets in, the mental game begins.  Only those who can steel their mind and push through the suck will persevere, and the older I get the more of a reality that becomes.

The Plan

We would step off at 6 am, take a 5 to 10 min rest stop at each mile marker and a 20-30 min stop at Barr camp to refuel on ramen noodles and hot cocoa.  We had our small backpacks with the essentials and crampons for the snow and ice that awaited.  Everything going as planned the summit would be hit before the road closed at the top and we would catch a ride down around 3:30-4pm.  Back in town for dinner, no big deal.

Tossed these on around 12,000 ft

Murphy’s Law

I knew there would be struggles with the altitude, especially above 10,000 feet and admittedly I’m not as  young as I once was but I’ve made it through worse in my military career.  What could go wrong?

Mile 6 is when I started to feel the ache in my knee, an ache I hadn’t felt in many years and originally developed at a rather rigorous military school I had attended in my younger days (torn meniscus was the end result).  I could push through I told myself, discomfort and “hurt” are different than “injured”, I had to keep going.  By the time I reached 13,000 feet I was almost dragging my right leg and trying not to get caught in the snow or move laterally, otherwise stabbing pain would hit.  I resorted to walking in a peg leg fashion, more hips and almost no knee bend.  The go was slow and the pain, if I slipped or stumbled into deep snow, was terrible.  All this time my hiking buddy was stopping to throw up every few hundred yards between bouts of dizzyness (he had flown in from sea level), we were a hot mess.

Someone to Lean On

If you haven’t done work at altitude I’m here to tell you there are very few folks, probably sans olympic type altheletes, who are immune to the thin air.  Physical prowess and how “in shape” one is usually doesn’t matter, your body just has to work super hard to complete the most basic functions.  It’s exhausting and some do throw up, fight dizzyness and have other debilitating symptoms.

As previously stated I was fighting knee pain and my buddy was hurling his lunch at every opportunity, we suffered and persevered together.  It was surreal, for a few hundred feet I would be motivating him as we moved along.  Another 50 feet, let’s get to that next bend in the switchback.  We can do it.  Then seemingly the tables would turn and I would be in pain struggling to walk, he would take the role of motivator despite stopping to hug a rock.  Heck, we both would stop to lean on big rocks every 50 feet or so to catch our breath, especially the last 1500 feet up which took us almost 2 hours to complete.

In Retrospect

There was very little celebration when we got the top, we were just glad it was over.  Bear in mind this isn’t something we typically do, and other mountains in CO over 14k have trail heads that start at much higher elevations, so a much quicker hike.  Pikes Peak made us earn that one but I did have some thoughts on the whole experience.

  • Age is just a number: FALSE.  Broadly speaking I tend to disagree with the whole age is just a number.  If that’s the case why don’t we see any 75 year old NFL players, or 3 year old stock brokers, or issue driver’s licenses at 8 years old.  You get what I’m saying.  As we get older the body is capable but not quite as capable, my 40 year old self is definitely not my 20 year old self.   Like Toby Keith said, I’m not as good as I once was…but I’m as good once as I ever was.
  • No such thing as a one man army.  I made that climb because my buddy was with me, I have no doubt about that.  I have often said that the whole one many army is a fallacy, after all you have to sleep sometime (think security).  In addition when the times get tough having someone to help motivate is absolutely critical.  Buddy team for the win.
  • The Bugout on foot fantasy.  “When the SHTF I’ll leave my suburban home, toss my BOB on my back (that I’ve rarely worn) and hike into the woods – live off the land and cover 20 miles a day.”  Right.  I don’t care if you are a hardcore Infantryman who has done countless roadmarches in a controlled environment the reality of the wilderness would no doubt be different.  Combine that with other factors like altitude and injury and all of a sudden that sweet plan just turned sour.
  • Mental Toughness.  I cannot emphasize this enough and I believe that as I have gotten older and my body has worn down my capacity to push through mentally has indeed enhanced.  Those of us who have been around for a bit have experience to call upon and a mental toughness that has been forged in the fire, it really is an asset that can be called upon.

The Bottom Line

Get out there and challenge yourself once in a while physically and by that I don’t mean going for a PR on the bench at the gym.  Do something that pushes your personal limits for an extended period of time, understanding  each of us are at different places in our lives.  I climbed Pikes Peak which wasn’t exactly easy but others might scoff at that and need to do something much harder.  Or maybe you are that guy who has 40 lbs of beer gut hanging off the front end who carries a gun because hey, a 1911 solves everything (or so one might believe).  Maybe a walk around the block is in order.  In any event I think soley relying on supplies as a preparedness strategy without giving thought to the physical and mental is a massive miscalcuation.  Take care and stay safe.

 

Apartment Prepping: Not Optimal BUT Possible

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I recently helped someone set up their apartment,  someone who understood the value of preparedness but was just not at a point in their life where a home away from things on some land was possible.  Let’s face it, some might not even want that in their lives or other circumstances could force them to live in an apartment.  Personally I had to live in an apartment just outside of Washington, D.C. for a year, it was not optimal but I made it work the best I could.  I had several systems in place in my apartment, routes identified locally for egress and a storage unit within walking distance which had quite a few necessary supplies contained within.  Making due with what I was given, it’s what we do right?

Let’s take a look at some of the problems apartment living poses to the prepper.

Security

Literally surrounded by people, living above / below / next to you.  Parking usually open to the public and at any given time who knows what type of guests (invited or univited) might be in or around the facility.  Some complexes strictly regulate what you can and cannot do, cameras or even a simple security system could be disallowed.  Other folks (read: maintenance) have the keys to your door, not exactly a castle on a hilltop if you know what I mean.

Population Density

This is what I always cringe at and it bleeds over into the security and privacy aspect, the fact that apartment complexes are literally a place where the most people are crammed into the smallest areas in order to maximize revenue for the management group.  Depending on the type and caliber of complex you could have multiple families living in one unit, usually foreign nationals.  When I lived in D.C. I bet there were 1000 people within one square block, here in the mountains there might be 20 people within 1 square mile but I highly doubt it.

Privacy

This is the biggest issue,  at any given time a notice could go out for whatever reason and there will be folks coming into the apartment to repair something, check something, whatever….and there is nothing you can do about it.  “Make sure dogs (if allowed) are secured, maintenance will be in the change filters and genereally snoop around between 9-5.”  I hated it but there was nothing that could be done, think about any preps or even firearms that might be secured or otherwise.  Not an optimal situation.

So What Can Be Done?

I have made the best of a bad situation and have helped others to do so as well.  Sometimes living in an apartment is a necessary evil, here are a few tips that I have passed along.

Security System:  If possible and allowed try something easy to install like Simplisafe or others.  Many of these systems have duress signals which can be enabled and panic buttons, great for notifying the authorities.  Also use those door bars that go under the knob, truly prevent unwanted entry and are around $20 at Home Depot.

Dedicated Parking:  If possible pay extra for the garage or carport.  Having to drive around looking for a space, especially at night which might include a long walk is not optimal.

Dog:  Get a dog and put a beware of dog sign up.  Dogs are wonderful companions but also great deterrants for the average crackhead.  Nobody, myself included wants to get bitten by a dog.

Off Site Storage:  A small storage unit will typically run less than $100 a month and can be very useful in the event of a natural disaster or simply a backup plan.  Extra clothing, food and water, your imagination is the limit.  Piece of mind is what the storage unit is all about and if things went sideways and the apartment burned to the ground what would you need in the storage unit that was absolutely essential?  Take it from there.

Detectors:  This is the easy stuff and by that I mean don’t trust your neighbors.  In this other apartment I set up I installed CO2 detectors, additional Smoke Alarms and added things like fire extinguishers.  When you live around 50 other people in one building you never know what could spark off especially in the middle of the night so additional detectors are a must.

Firearms:  Use your best judgement, obviously one of those things that someone must be comfortable with.  Personally I prefer 00 Buckshot over trying to beat an intruder with a wooden spoon.

Egress:  Know how to get out and more than one way to do so.  Know were to go (read: rally point) if it’s the middle of the night and you are clad in boxer briefs and sandals.

The Bottom Line.

I have to believe that given the option there is no prepper out there who would willingly live in a crowded apartment complex versus a home out on some land.  However life happens and there are instances where apartment living is necessary and unavoidable.  Given that we have to make due with what we have, doing the best that we can.  Take some of the tips listed above and add your own, it will only make the experience more manageable.

 

The Daily Prep: Winter Preparedness Tasks

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I’ve been traveling but am home now, a few tasks to accomplish as the weather has definiely changed from mild to extremely cold.  The only snow that we have gotten has been sporadic but in this area we are one front away from getting dumped on by the feet.  A few key tasks that I have on my agenda today are:

  • Drain all gas cans, refill at pump.
  • Run generators, make sure that I turn them off by cutting the fuel source instead of just hitting the off button.
  • Charge devices in vehicles, the jump start / extra power packs.

I typically try to rotate through my gasoline, at any given time I’ll have 25 to 30 gallons on site in containers but this time I got lazy and all of them need cycled through at once.  The annoying thing about it is actually holding the can up while it slowly dumps into my truck’s tank, although I have started migrated towards safety cans which have a better flow rate.  These cans are much more robust but that comes with an extra cost obviously.

The generators are definitely something that I need to conduct regular maintenance on, they are my short term / power out SHTF solution.   Being that I have a wood burning stove I wouldn’t really need them to heat the house but keeping all of the meat that I have in my freezers cold as well as running the lights (via a transfer switch) is definitely a must have.  In my mind I could probably run the generator for the house around 4 hours during the day in an outage and then shut it down for the evening.  Hopefully we won’t have to test that theory but having options is a good thing.

With respect to the powered devices in the vehicles, we all have variations of a jump start pack in addition to the standard jumper cables.  These devices will drain over time if not used and especially in the cold so I try to dig them out every few months and plug them in until back to green status.  Quite honestly I’ve never seen anything jump a vehicle as well as another vehicle and standard cables but once again it’s nice to have options just in case.

With that the sun is just beginning to expose itself over the mountains, time to get started on the chores and finish another cup of coffee.  Better to do the extra work now and not have need for the efforts in the future than to unexpectidley get in a tight spot without recourse.

 

Thanksgiving 2017: Prosperity, Collapse and the Future

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I’m sitting here on my deck looking out over thousands of acres of wilderness, a cool breeze blowing and my dog at my feet.  Today being Thanksgiving I sat here for a while pondering what I am thankful for, and also wondering why we need a specific day to remind us to be thankful altogether.  Nonetheless I thought back over the last couple decades and the ebb and flow that my life and that of my family and I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am today.  As a matter of fact I am thankful for that fact every single day, although sometimes the rat race clouds my vision and things that probably don’t really matter at all get way too much attention.

I shot a text to my family earlier and mentioned that although there are many issues, we are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.  Our freedoms are unparelled, our ability to succeed or fail is tied (mostly) to our own willingness to grind.  This allows for great success but also provides none if not very little in the way of a backstop when failure occurs.  I prefer it that way actually, having been on the serious struggle and hustled into a better position (no doubt not totally of my own volition, I believe in Divine help as well) over time.

The Calm Before the Storm

With the exception of a few outliers the audience for this type of publication is rather narrow I would suspect, this because folks are enjoying the times of plenty.  The harvest is in so to speak, the barns are full, the outlook is promising.  Yet throughout history times of plenty are always followed by times of want, need and desperation.  Folks get lured into thinking that prosperity will last forever and when it stops they are left wondering how things crashed so quickly.

Who among us even considers that what happened during the last crash could happen again and maybe even to a greater extreme?  Could the market continue to rise without end?  Consumer confidence and the economy forever expanding?  Limitless profits and prosperity for decades to come?

To believe the above is rather foolish in my opinion, but who am I as I certainly do not fall into the economic expert category.  Granted I do not have a crystal ball but we all know the best indicator of future performance is past performance.  Or…what goes around comes around.  Or….what cannot go on forever, WILL STOP.

Decisions Decisions

Here’s what not to do:

1- Live every day in fear of what may or may not happen.

2- Completely ignore the future and the potential for disaster that it holds, with no plans / preps in place.

What do to:

1- Be the squirrel, stack the nuts.  Supplies, monetary items, etc.

2- Educate those you live with and care about, as to the potential that exists.

3- Control what you can, what happens 1000 miles away in Wall Street certainly is out of the span of control but the 2nd and 3rd order effects can and will eventually trickle down.

4- Enjoy the good times because they could last for another year, 5, decade or more.

5- Understand when the bad times come, it will be every family for themselves.  Have a backup plan, and then a backup to that backup.

Final Thoughts

There is a great amount for all of us to be thankful for on this day, of that I’m certain.  I have often stated that our greatest threats are localized distasters and stand by that statement.  Yet another “big one” is on the way, when it actually occurs is anyone’s best guess.  Today take the opportunity to reflect on where you are and where you want to be if/when things go south and what actions you can take to mitigate those risks.

 

The Daily Prep: Firewood, water, tires.

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Woke up this morning to some ominious looking clouds over the mountain horizon, snow inbound.  The wind was such last night that it (once again) wreaked havoc with my tarps covering the wood pile, among other things.  I’ve learned quite a bit since moving to the mountains about managing wood for the stove, it turned out to be a little more complex than I thought.

  • 2 cord would be plenty for the cooler weather I thought, I was wrong.
  • Stacking the wood nice and neat satisfied by OCD, but not that practical.  If you don’t pull from the pile evenly it starts to get a nice lean to it, resulting in frustration.
  • Original tarps with bungee cords was great, but as the pile shrank constant adjustments and moving of anchor points was also a pain.
  • New approach was to build a big box to hold 1 cord (this will make a total of 3), just cover that box with a tarp and toss the wood in there any old way.  We’ll see how that goes.

With the wind last night and weather moving in I knew I had to adjust my tarps and also cover the new wood box.  Some old sandbags came in handy to keep things secure along with some well placed deck screws and bungee cords, this between constant requests to throw a log down the hill from my dog.

With respect to water I’m refilling (via well) the large basin / stone pool that is near the house, I’d say it easily holds more than a medium hottub but every few weeks need to add more water as it gets lost to evaporation and animals drinking out of it.  I have a pump that keeps it constantly moving so that’s a good thing.  The reality is I have a well and plenty of storage on site but it’s always nice to have this as a backup to the backup plan because…you never know.

I inspected my tires on my truck and am due for a new set of 2, I’ve staggered purchasing and rotate on a consistent basis but these are not going to get me through the winter.  Something like having good tires on a vehicle is essential to preparedness, can’t tell you how many folks I see on the side of the road when the big snow comes because they neglected to shod their vehicle with the appropriate tires.

That’s pretty much it for now, maybe I’ll include a daily prep segment once a week or so as it’s always good to get folks thinking and keep focused.

 

91 Gallon Gasoline Storage Project for Emergencies

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Preparedness is always about improving your foxhole, going from where you are to the next level bit by bit based on prioritization and available resources.  I currently have multiple 5 gallon containers on site which I cycle fuel storage through, but with three vehicles with a total tank capacity over 70 gallons plus two generators I need more improve my position.  We all store food, water, medical supplies and more but tend to neglect fuel which is a life source for many in times of need.  Granted unless one has a thousands of gallons on site it’s not a long term solution but for immediate needs when faced with natural disasters having a fuel source beyond that of the standard 5 gallon can be an enabler.  Here are a few factors that I considered when building my fuel storage plan.

  • Affordable (Less than $1k total).
  • Mobile, not buried in the ground.
  • Relatively easy to build, instead of buying a more expensive all inclusive option.
  • Minimum of 50 gallon storage capacity which does not require cycling through every few months.

My plan involves taking my existing 5×8 trailer which I bought from Lowes a number of years ago and adding a tank and pump to it.  This 91 gallon tank will weigh around 675 lbs full and that’s easily accomodated with the 1600lb trailer capacity, it will be a unit I can keep on the property or take with me if I need to go mobile.

The Trailer

 

The Fuel Tank

Concept

I plan on mounting this fuel storage container to my trailer, but only after laying wood down on the trailer to create a more sturdy surface.  This container will be able to provide a reasonable amount of fuel storage on site and will also be portable in case we have to bug out with multiple or even one vehicle.  In instances were gas stations are out of fuel or lines are long this would be a a huge advantage, along with having more storage on the trailer for other items.

Bottom Line

Self reliance is a massive advantage when it comes to preparedness, whether it be generating one’s own food or having a fuel source on hand.  While not the best solution possible this project will provide my family with some piece of mind knowing that we do not have to rely on local sources (in the short term) in times of need, and should the power go out for a few weeks at a time we will be able to run our generators with no problem.  Anyone else have a fuel storage plan or project?  Let me know!

 

Hurricane Irma: This is why we PREPARE.

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I’m preaching to the choir but it had to be stated.  If you take a look at what is going on right now in Florida it is a classic case of why preparedness should be a critical part of one’s life.  Folks are lined up around the block for bottled water that they will never get a chance to buy because the shelves are already empty, the next opportinuty to collect supplies probably coming when the National Guard sets up a distro point.

Long lines form at Costco in Florida as residents brace for Hurricane Irma. Image @ KITV Channel 4

Think about these components of preparedness and how they could apply in this situation.

Bugging In:  Having the necessisary supplies (food, water, even gasoline) on hand to stay in place for weeks even without power and without having to rely on outside sources.  Even if the water supply became unusuable for a period of time it would not be a major factor.

Bugging Out:  Having all of the necessary supplies to quickly displace, be self sufficient while on the move knowing that critical items were along for the ride.  Ability to move without having to stop to refuel until out of the danger area, secondary location already identified and ready / willing to accept visitors.

Security:  Understanding that in long term power down scenarios there will be no shortage of folks looking to take advantage of thin law enforcement coverage.  Having a security plan in place in order to address this.

First Aid: Folks could get hurt, not only having the equipment on hand (not just a first aid kit, but things like IFAKs, IV kits etc) but the training in order to employ these properly.

Communication:  Cell phone coverage most likely will go down, having a secondary and tertiary plan (HAM radio).

I could go on and on but the main point is this:  taking initiative and remaining proactive while times are good so that when the tough times come, the only difference is this is now a time for execution and not rehearsals.  I’ve stated this many times, if one is primarily prepping for EMP strikes and WW3 / Martial Law, priorities are misplaced!  The greatest threat all of us face come in the form of localized or even wide spread natural disasters.  Hurricanes, flooding, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes etc.  It’s too late for the folks who are just now lining up hoping to catch a case of bottled water at the grocery store but hopefully many will learn from this experience….sadly most will not.

 

The Danger of Too Much Preparedness

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I know a guy who entered into the prep world maybe 6 years ago, and boy did he ever. He absorbed every bit of information from all of the alt news websites and prep blogs, ran up his credit cards over the course of a year buying up stacks of supplies and guns and knew without a shadow of a doubt that SHTF would be happening in the next year (but surely not more than two). One year passed as he bought more storage food and other supplies, two years passed and then three. Fast forward to year five and he began selling his guns and preps as other priorities in his life came into play. Now 6 years later he is no better off than when he started and probably still has quite a bit of debt. Too much preparedness and not enough balance / perspective and this is what you get.

The story above is not dissimilar from many out there, folks who jump out of the gate at full speed gobbling up supplies and knowledge almost in the hopes that some sort of catestrophic event will take place in order to justify their actions.  In contrast if my body of work, in the form of many years of preparedness, results in no action take and dusty emergency supplies I’ll happily take it.  That would mean that my family never had to endure the hardships which I was preparing for, that I got it wrong and those who live their lives only worrying about the next day were right (or lucky).  Yet as demonstrated by the hurricane that is pounding the gulf coast as I type this and those who will be facing lengthened power outage / bugout situations, the need for balanced preparedness comes around more often than many like to acknowledge.

The Need for a Baseline

There are basic prep needs that are readily known to most in the community, some people probably meet these needs without even calling themselves preppers as most are/should be common sense.  While it won’t require one tuning into Alex Jones and maxing out the Visa card at the prepper convention, a certain mindset and acknowledgement that one could end up in at bind is necessary.  Those facing the aforementioned hurricane would have done good to have a few days of food and water, a decent first aid kit stocked with necessary meds and a vehicle with a full tank of gas / a few extra full gasoline cans.  Basic stuff.  Folks actually can go from zero to having a good baseline in one afternoon with a couple hundred bucks and a trip to Costco.

Analysis and Prioritization

This is where things get a little sticky and folks tend to go overboard.  What are you preparing for?  “Everything!  EMP, Nuclear War, Supervolcano, Martial Law, Drought, Stock Market Crash and ohbytheway that thing were the poles reverse.”  While I must admit there have been a few times where I got spun up (if you recall Ebola) for the most part I’d like to believe things remained practical with respect to preparedness around here.  Sure one can acknowledge the EMP threat and war game it, but to dwell on it seems like a waste of time and energy.  What we don’t want is to be like my friend where things spiral out of control and we get burned out in a sprint, disappointed and disollusioned when the big one doesn’t take place.  If you’ve been around this for a while and have checked some other blogs / alt news sites you can go back 10 years and without exception predicitons of calamity / collapse are in no short supply.    “There is no way we get through _______ (whatever year) without a major collapse and here are the key indicators!”  5 years later…

In order to avoid all of this it becomes essential to conduct an analysis of YOUR situation and prioritize accordingly.

  • What are the biggest high probability threats in your local area?
  • What resources do you have: Time, Money, Friends etc?
  • How can you mitigate the top 3 threats via 2 courses of action?
  • How can you monitor if those threats are going to manifest themselves?
  • What’s the 6 month, 1 year, 3 and 5 year plan to shore up things, acknowledging all at once is not an option?
  • Taking all of the above into account, is there a numbered checklist which prioritizes efforts toward the goal?

The above is just a sample I came up with but as an example, my threat list would include forest fires and being snowed in without power for a few days or weeks at time.  Flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes not so much.  Based on my threat analysis I would begin to prioritize and plan in case I had to take action..and on it goes.

The Long Game

I believe one of the shortfalls that we all can fall victim to is not taking account the long game and by that I mean years or even decades.  Unfornately there are those out there who want to justify their preps, hoping for an EMP to hit (yes, those morons exist) or some similar calamity to befall their area.  We need to play for the long game, constantly shoring up our preps / skills / relationships / resources over an extended period of time understanding that yes indeed at some point something could happen.  This is why preparedness should be a lifestyle and a balanced one at that.  Enjoy life, take the family out, don’t be afraid to travel beyond a 20 mile radius of the homestead.  The long play wins in this scenario and it probably always will.

The Bottom Line

All of this circles back to one thing: practical preparedness.  Once a baseline is established this is a race that the tortise is poised to win, not the hare.  Sound discipline, logic and a good plan of action are key in a successful preparedness journey.  Those who jump out of the gate and overload themselves with “I’m a prepper!” are only setting themselves up for disappointment.

 

Water Storage Tips and Techniques

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I typically store my water off of the ground, whether it be in the basement or garage.  The main reason I do so (no matter the type of actual storage device) is primarly to avert the leaching process: concrete to plastic to water.  If you search the internet there is no shortage of folks who believe in mitigating the leaching process and others who say it’s not true, in any event it doesn’t take much to elevate storage containers off of the ground like so.

Method 1: Wood.

I like to cut 2×4’s for my large 55 gallon drum containers, usually 4 per container.  The wood is obviously very sturdy and helps to distribute the weight of the drum which can come in around 380 lbs (each).

Method 2:  Foam Boards.

Local big box improvement stores have foam project boards which can be purchased for cheap, I use these primarily for water bottles, jugs and water bricks.  Truth be told there could be chemicals leaching from the foam boards into the chemicals from the plastic into the water, I try to mitigate all of this by simply cycling through my water storage supply.

I recently had an experience which made me very thankful that my items were up off of the ground.  We had a clog in our septic system which resulted in a backup and rather disgusting overflow in our garage.  While it flowed out of the garage and into the rocks outside it passed right under my water storage.  All of the items which held the water bottles / jugs etc became rather soaked with the nasty liquid but the bottles remained unscathed.  I was able to toss out all of the nasty stuff, clean the floor up with bleach and put the storage items back in place.

If I had to wager a guess I probably have around 600 gallons of water stored on site, while I do have a well if the power goes out and the generator runs out of fuel we’re screwed.  I cycle through my water and also protect it by keeping it up off of the ground using two methods.  Think about this when you address your own storage needs.

For more tips on food and water storage for emergencies check out the FEMA website here.

 

Building a Preparedness Community from Scratch

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I am in the preliminary stages of building a preparedness community, assembling a contingent of like minded individuals / families which can trust each other when times get tough, be it a localized disaster or something greater.  The reality of the situation is that no matter how much training or preps you have, a community will be more of an asset than trying to go it alone.  The time to find out if your neighbors can or cannot be trusted or might have skills which are valuable isn’t after a major event has occured.

My journey to start this process began a few weeks ago with a handful of people around a table sipping on coffee and discussing likely vs unlikely events and how we could address them.  I hope you will follow along as I continue to document the progress we make and setbacks we face.  What follows below is a brief synopsis of how I got the whole thing off the ground to begin with.

Putting out Feelers

I rather dislike social media but also understand that it can be a good tool for open source communcation, I also understand that big bro also knows most everything about me anyways so whatever.  I put out a feeler on a local community FB page asking if folks would like to meet to discuss preparedness with the caveat that this wasn’t some doomsday / anti government type of thing, but rather a practical exercise with hopes of meeting some folks who would like to chat about some of our threats and what we can do to address them.  I had an overwhelming response to this post and it was mostly positive, we set a time and date and went from there.

Meet and Greet

We decided to meet for coffee at a local shop, turns out there were about 10 of us that showed up.  Not bad for strangers all unsure of who else might attend or the actual intentions of the person who set the whole thing up (me).  There was a feeling out period where we shared information about ourselves, backgrounds, why we thought preparedness was important and what some of the largest threats were that we faced.  While there was some mention of low probability, high impact events (WW3, Supervolcano) we mostly agreed that things like fire and localized power outages were top of the list.  From there we took a look at wasy to mitigate those risks (brainstorming).

Path Forward

In the hour or two that we sat at that table we weren’t going to solve the world’s problems but we could prioritize a list of what we could address on the local level immediately.  One thing we decided was that we needed to have consistent meetings, we also needed a better way to communicate other than social media.  Another longer term goal for all of us was getting set up on HAM so that we could have consistent communicaiton and situation awareness (SA) with our surrounding community and even outlying areas.  We agreed to work on many of these things and exchanged contact information and called it a successful meeting.

The Bottom Line

I have no idea if I can trust any of these people quite yet, nor do I know if any of them actually truly want to put in the work to do what it takes to build a solid community.  What I can tell you is that by establishing gates with solid action items it will weed out those who are actually about doing something, and those who are in it for the free coffee.  What I know to be true is that there are folks like me with other skills who can be an asset to my family and together we can be an asset to the community as a whole.  This time will be filled with trial and error but if say, 6 to 12 months from now we have just 3-5 families who have started to work together toward a common goal it will be more than we started with.  I hope to keep everyone updated on the progess as we move along.

 

A Comprehensive Bugout Strategy

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I’ve written about bugging out in the past, it’s a popular concept with many relevant ties to everyday life and unfortunately it’s also a concept rooted in many prepper fantasies.  Realistic bugouts happen quite frequently due to localized natural disasters, folks have to leave their home with very little notice hoping that it will be there when they are allowed to return.  Forest fires, flooding or even chemical spills come to mind when considering the need to get out and quickly.  Many folks prepare for these scenarios and many do not, those who do not are usually the ones on television telling the news how all they could salvage was what they could grab in a few minutes.

I should dedicate at least one paragraph to the prepper bugout fantasy, the one where martial law is declared and the suburbanites pack up the pickup trucks and head to the woods to establish a community.  Crops are gown, shelters are built and the resistance war is waged in a glorious effort, something something et al.  It’s a good fantasy but not one grounded in reality, I’ll just leave it at that.

My Bugout Necessity

I’ve you’ve been following along recently you’ll know I’ve relocated to a pretty remote area of the country, one where fire is certainly the biggest threat to our existence.  Fire can happen quickly and when it’s dry, as it is now, it is a huge consideration which must be taken very seriously.  Evacuation (read: bugout) plans are standard in this part of the country and one must be ready to execute at a moment’s notice.

Time Sensitive Plans

In speaking with my wife we have determined that we should have layered plans in place which are all predicated on the amount of time available.  Certainly if we have a day to leave there are actions we would take and also items we would pack which would far exceed those determined necessary if we only had 5 minutes to leave.  The point is that we have gone through the home and identified those items and also the load plan (single or multiple vehicles) associated with taking various items.  Generally we lean towards irreplaceable things (photo albums, heirlooms) and vital documents as top priority and work our way down from there.  In a zero time available scenario its ourselves and the dogs, everything else can meet the fate of the flames.

Multiple Courses of Action

Our first choice would obviously be vehicle transport out of our location.  However there is truly only one way in and one way out, so if that is blocked moving on foot has to be an option.  We have scouted this possibiliy and included it in our plan and a second course of action should the road be blocked and impassable.  It is important to consider the highly unlikely and plan for it, never assume that because something has always been….that it always will be.

Off Site Storage Redundancy

I suggest this for everyone reading this post.  Have multiple sites away from your primary residence were you can store goods and supplies or vital docments.  We have a backup storage facility as well as a safe deposit box where we keep vital documents, never keep all of your eggs in one basket so to speak.  If we were away from the home and it all went up in flames we would have redundacy off site.  This is a crucial capability which ties in to continutity of operations.

General Preps

It should go without saying but there are some generalities that go with being prepared to bugout which transcend location.  A list of these follows, this is off the top of my head so it is not complete.

– Vehicles never parked without a minimum of 1/2 tank of fuel

– All family members briefed on bugout strategy

– Rehersals of bugout strategy

– Predetermined linkup or destination points

– Items identified and staged for quick loading

– Load plan (how you will pack) rehearsed and understood

– Multiple Egress points identified and understood

– Communication plan understood and rehearsed

The Bottom Line

The necessity for bugouts is a very real one and should not be overlooked.  Have a comprehensive bugout strategy which ties in more than one way to get it done.  Speak with your loved ones about it and conduct rehearsals, it could save your life one day.

 

SHTF Gear Box Unvieled: $154 worth of stuff for $89

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Two bladed instruments which were in the box

I finally got around to opening the gear box from SHTFClub.com and was pleasantly surprised at the contents contained within.  Remember, this is a subscription program and there are three tiers:

  • Basic Plan: $19.99/mo
  • Pro Plan: $49.99
  • Elite Plan: $89.99

Originally I was a bit skeptical because after all, why would I pay to receive a box of unknown items when I could simply go to the store and do it myself.  The reason I believe is threefold.

1- Convenience.  Every month you’ll have a box arrive on your doorstep of items which adds to your stash, many of these items you probably would not get for yourself in the first place.  Additionally since you can cancel at any time, let’s say you don’t want to continue after 3 months it’s no problem.

2- It’s like Christmas, every time.  I’ll admit there was a part of me that enjoyed opening the box and then being surprised at what was contained within,  the crossbow pistol had the little boy inside of me ready to plink at trees all around the house.

3- You get more than you pay for.  I added up the individual retail cost for all items contained in the Elite ($89) box and came up with $154.  That’s a pretty decent savings if you ask me.

Full Contents of SHTFClub Box

Pictured above are all the contents of the box, what follows is a list of each and the retail price which I found online.

Cobra Crossbow: $32
S&W Field Watch: $22
M48 Sling Bag: $29
Survivor Knife: $14
Tomahawk Axe: $17
Splint: $10
UV Glostick: $6
Keychain: $5
FM 5-31: $13
Kale Seeds: $2
Wise Foods: $5

Total: $154

Some general thoughts about the contents of the kit are that while not  the most highspeed ever, almost all of it could be useful.  I’ll admit the crossbow is sort of a novelty item but the watch would make a great backup and the Sling Bag is already in my wife’s car as a replacement trauma kit bag.  Both blades are backup and not primary tools but the UV Glostick is something that I have used successfully in the past on backpacking trips, I’ll definitely strap it to the outside of my wife’s pack.

Over the shoulder bag

The real question is, do I think there is value in this program and would i continue to participate in it going forward?  The answer is yes, but I would have to see what the second and third box contained before deciding to move forward with the subscription, or maybe scale back to the Pro ($49) program.  If you are on a tight budget this might not be for you, but if you have a little bit to spend knowing that you will get more than you pay for I’d say give in a shot for a month or two.  I was pleasantly surprised at the contents of the box and I think you would be too.

 

SHTF: High probability low impact vs Low probability high impact

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What are you preparing for and how do you prioritize accordingly?  There are some very real threats out but all of us are limited on time and resources.  Even the independently wealthy prepper with all the time and money in the world could not prepare for and mitigate risk for every potential disaster which exists in the world today.  With that in mind there must be a calculated balance, prepping for threats in a common sense way which does not over extend our resources or take up too much time (read: getting bogged down).

I see this two ways: High Probability / Low Impact vs Low Probability / High Impact.  Where you are in the world and you current state of readiness determines how you break the threats out and prepare for them.  A few examples follow.

High Probability / Low Impact

  • Bugout necessary because: forest fire, flooding, train wrecks and spills chemicals etc.
  • Storm causes power outage for a few days or even a couple weeks
  • Job loss
  • Stuck on the side of the highway broken down in winter storm
  • Droughts cause water shortages

Low Probability / High Impact

  • Supervolcano in Yellowstone erupts
  • Total financial collapse globally
  • Asteroid strike on earth
  • WW3 with nukes
  • EMP Strike destroys the grid

From the list above (and there are many more) you can see that “impact” to us is relative, you might think a job loss is tough but indeed it is relatively low impact compared to the Supervolcano erupting (especially if you are in the fallout zone).

I’m sure at some point most of us used to watch the OPSEC fail show Doomsday Preppers, where people would state which disaster they were preparing for.  Countless time and efforts were being poured into prepping for that one thing but what if that one thing never came to fruition?  What if all that time and money toward an underground bunker could have been redirected toward something(s) which would have a better impact to mitigate more plausible scenarios?  Granted there is some definite crossover with respect to preps but all of those hand crafted Faraday cages probably won’t come in handy as supplemental income if a job loss happens.

There are no guarantees with respect to preparedness.  You could be that guy with seemingly everything going right: community, preps, land, crops, animals, et al and that flood / fire comes through and wipes it all out.  With that in mind I think it is important to strive for excellence but also have the mental agility to be flexible, to adjust and prioritize as necessary in order to remain effective.  All of the items I listed above could happen so I’m not discounting any of them, yet as stated time and resources are limited so use them wisely.  Make your own high prob / low impact vs low prob / high impact list and plan accordingly.

 

2016 Predictions

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted but thought to come back strong with some 2016 predictions.  Let me know what you think!

1- There will be no economic collapse.  The stock market will not crash, at least not in 2016.

2- Hillary will be president.  Read that again.  Hillary will be president and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  She has been anointed by TPTB and quite frankly I believe that none of our votes matter, the whole thing is an exercise in futility (read: sham, rigged, smoke and mirrors).  She will advance the agenda, not of the people but of those who are truly in charge.  I should note it is my personal belief that all of the other candidates are assholes and would do no better.  If I am wrong and Trump / Cruz et al gets “elected” we are equally as screwed.  Trump is an elitist D bag of the highest order and if you think he gives a damn about you…

3- Gun Control will move forward slightly and then gain even more traction.  The current President will do what he can with Exec action which probably won’t amount to much, but after bullet point # 2 happens….

4- A run on all things guns and ammo, believe it.  If you don’t have it stock up now, you have been warned.  Once she is elected guns and ammo will fly off the shelves like nothing any of us have ever seen before.

5- Terror attacks.  I hate to say it and I don’t want to believe it but the reality is we as a nation are vulnerable.  Look for more terror attacks by assholes screaming about their god in 2016.

6- People like you and I will take the above into consideration but continue to prep wisely and in moderation.

Any thought to add, leave them in the comment section below.

 

This Week’s Best Survival Posts – December 20th

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At Expert Prepper we’re committed to bringing you the best survival posts and preparedness information. There was a lot of great stuff out there this week, from survival gear reviews to breaking news and the latest and greatest survival tips. Check out this weeks best survival posts below: Basic First Aid Bushcraft is generally a […]

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