The 7 Rules Of How Not To Become A Target

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There’s a military axiom which says,“The best defense is a good offense.” I have my own, modified version of this. It goes, “The best defense is not becoming a target.” What I mean by that is that if nobody has a reason for attacking you, you won’t have to worry about being attacked.

You’ve got to realize that in the aftermath of any crisis, people are going to be on the prowl. You’ve seen it on the news reports; people looting, stealing, breaking into homes, even rooting around in garbage dumpsters for the things that they need to survive.

You’re going to see it again; only this time, you’ll see it much more up close and personal. That’s why you need to learn how not to become a target.

While there are no accurate figures as to how many preppers there are in the United States, estimates put it at somewhere between two and three million people. The rest of the people out there are expecting FEMA to come to the rescue, riding on a white horse and with federal government funds (otherwise known as your tax dollars) in their hands to solve all their problems.

Since most people only have less than three days’ worth of food in their homes, it won’t take long for all those millions of people out there to get desperate. Then they’ll start hunting. They’re first stop will be the stores, which will be cleaned out of anything useful. Then, they’ll start preying on each other.

There will only be two basic ways to prevent being attacked. The first is to look so strong to the attacker that they decide to leave you alone and find somebody else to pick on. Not only is that rather expensive to accomplish, it’s just about like putting up a billboard on the roof of your home that says, “Preppers Live Here!”.

The other way is to fool people into thinking that there’s nothing to be gained by attacking you. Poor people generally don’t think of stealing from other poor people, unless they see that the other poor person has something that they want.

The general assumption is,“They’re as poor as I am, it’s not worth attacking them.” Instead, they go looking for somebody who’s going to have something worth stealing. That somebody else is you, unless of course, they don’t realize that you have anything worth grabbing. Therein lies the secret; making it look like you’re not worth bothering with.

You’re home defense problems are going to be greatly lessened if they don’t come to attack you. So, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure that they don’t know who you are, what you have, or that you are living any better than they are.

If you’re living like everything is hunky-dory, that will be like putting up that billboard again. Many of the things that you are doing to prepare for a disaster can very easily make you and your home stand out, making you into the target that you don’t want to be.

Even while you’re enjoying your stockpile of food and drinking from your well, using the light produced by your solar panels, you don’t want others to know.

Find out more on how to improve your layered home defense to survive disaster! 

How Does OPSEC Help You?

All this is called Operational Security, or OPSEC. In the military, it’s the idea of denying the enemy information about who you are, what you’re doing, what your capabilities are and what your plans are. That’s really no different than what you need to do with your prepping. You need to deny the same information to all the people around you who might want what you have.

Light Discipline

One of the easiest giveaways that you are in better shape than your neighbors is having lights shining out of your windows, when everyone else’s power is out. Most preppers have alternate sources to provide their home with power in the case of an emergency.

Even so, if people see that light shining through the windows, they’re going to be wondering where it is coming from, and why you are the only one who has electricity. To stay safe, use low wattage electric lights, that won’t be so obvious.

If you have a battery backup system, you can run wires through your house to run 12 volt automotive lights. These may not be as bright as what you’re used to, but they will provide enough light for most activities.

The best thing to do is to install blackout curtains. These are dark, heavy curtains, which are designed to prevent light from escaping through the windows. They need to be made of heavy fabric and be larger than the window, so that they cover the window and can seal the space around it.

Don’t forget about flashlights either. While there will be other people with flashlights, the longer the disaster lasts, the less batteries there will be available for them. If you have to use a flashlight, use it sparingly, and do whatever you can to hood the light and keep it from being obvious.

In the military, they use a red lens on flashlights, with a light blocker behind it. The light blocker is a solid plate, with just a pinhole in the middle. Between the two, very little light escapes, keeping it from being seen from far away.

Video first seen on SensiblePrepper.

Cooking

Unless you’re one of those fortunate people who has a propane stove or a cast-iron one, you’re probably going to be doing your cooking outdoors, which means cooking on your grille or in a fire pit. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a good alternative for when your kitchen is out of order, but there is a very high risk that your neighbors are going to know exactly what you’re cooking. If that’s a pot of beans and rice, it won’t be such a big deal, but if you’re cooking steaks every night, everybody will know about this.

The longer you go without power, the greater a problem that’s going to be. The first couple of days after the power goes out, you’re probably going to smell a lot of steaks on the grille, as people try to use up what they’ve got in the freezer before it can go bad.

But once that first few days are over, there won’t be too many people with steaks to grill.

This is one of those cases that you can cover up with a bit of subterfuge. Hopefully, you’ve got a good enough relationship with your neighbors, that you’ll be helping each other out in a crisis.

So, if you go hunting and get a deer, it would seem normal that you would pass on some meat to your neighbors. Hopefully, the next week one of them will go hunting and share with you as well. If everyone in the neighborhood is grilling meat outdoors once a week, it won’t seem all that strange. The rest of your meat can be turned into jerky, and used in soups and stew that way.

Spices are another thing that can give away your abundance of food. When people are eating the most basic of foods, their sense of smell for well-seasoned food can actually be increased. If they smell well-seasoned food coming from your back yard, that will serve as another indicator that you have food.

I firmly believe in stocking spices, and I like well-seasoned foods. However, if my spice rack is going to cause me trouble, I’ll put a padlock on it and throw away the key. My family’s survival is more important to me than having gourmet meals.

Trash

Simple things can give everything away, especially to people who are looking for them. If you have a bunch of trash piling up at the curb and somebody is going to take a look in it and find a bunch of empty food packages, they’re instantly going to know that you have food while everyone else is starving.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to burn your trash. You’ve got to be careful about that, though, as burning trash could be a give away in and of itself. However, if you’re cooking outside over a fire, there’s nothing to say that you can’t use your trash to start the fire and burn some more of it as fuel. That will serve two purposes for you; get rid of the trash, and save your stock of fuel.

The same can be done if you’re using a fireplace to heat your home. Since you’ll be burning wood in it anyway, throwing some packages in there as well won’t be a problem. Once again, this can serve to dispose of the trash, while helping provide heat to your home.

If there’s no other possibility, then hide your trash in your basement or backyard, being sure to separate edible garbage from trash. The edible garbage can go into a compost heap, eliminating it, which will also help cut down on the stench from storing so much trash.

Appearance of Your Home

If you are in an area that was hit by a hurricane, there will be a lot of damage to homes and other buildings. While there might be a few which avoid any major damage, they will be few and far between. If your home is the only one in the area which doesn’t look like it sustained any damage, then it might look suspicious to people passing by. Likewise, if you manage to get it repaired faster than anyone else.

An easy thing that you can do to make your home look more damaged and increase your physical security in other ways, at the same time, is to put plywood over your windows. Some people who live in hurricane prone areas have pre-cut pieces which they can install whenever needed. If you have these, or can make some out of plywood, it will help make your home appear abandoned.

At the same time, those pieces of plywood will prevent anyone from seeing what’s going on inside and help keep any light from your lamps indoors. Should anyone decide to attack your home, plywood is fairly hard to break, making it harder for them to come through your windows.

Any gardening for fresh vegetables or livestock you have needs to be hidden in the back yard, preferably behind a privacy fence. If people don’t see it, hopefully they won’t think it’s there.

Noise Discipline

Noise can be another dead giveaway. The average person doesn’t realize how much noise they create, just doing everyday chores. That noise will show that your home is occupied. If you want to appear like an abandoned home, you’ve got to control the noise.

Even besides that, if you’re not trying to present the image of being an abandoned home, you still want to watch your noise levels, especially any sounds made by electronic devices.

If you have music playing in your home or your kids are watching a movie on the TV, it can probably be heard from outside your home. People hearing it will wonder how it is that you have electric power, when they don’t.

It’s not too much of a leap of imagination from there to wondering what else you might have that they can use.

Kids can be a real problem when it comes to noise discipline. If you have children, especially small ones, you’ll need to watch them constantly to keep them quiet. The best way to do this is to keep them busy with tasks that don’t make a lot of noise. Get them to help you and your wife around the house as well, making them a part, rather than just leaving them to play.

Activity

You’re going to be more physically active in the aftermath of a disaster, than you are today. Just trying to survive is going to keep you and your whole family busy.

Pretty much everything you do will have to be done manually,without the benefit of modern conveniences. That’s going to be a lot of hard physical work.

Trying to hide all this activity will be virtually impossible. Even so, there are a few things that you can do to camouflage your actions. More than anything, you can try and make your actions look like those around you. They’ll be busy trying to survive as well, so your actions to look like you are trying to survive shouldn’t look all that different.

Many things, like going to collect water from a nearby stream or lake will be the same as your neighbors are doing. Here again, you have a great opportunity for cooperation. If you can work together to collect and haul water, then you’ll just be part of the group.

You’ll also make the job easier for both of you, as you can help each other out. Of course, you’ll be the one with the water filtration system, so maybe you can help them out with that, in exchange for them helping you out in other ways.

Keep as much of your survival activity in your house or backyard as you possibly can. That will limit the number of people who can see what you’re doing to your immediate family and your immediate neighbors.

Here again you can co-opt them in your plans, by helping them. If they see you working in the backyard, growing vegetables, offer to help them get their garden started too; possibly in exchange for some labor.

Personal Appearance

With food shortages all around you, there’s a good chance that people are going to be losing weight. If you’re not, this could be another sign that you’re in much better shape, supply-wise than anyone else. In a town full of malnutrition, a chubby person is going to stand out like a sore thumb.

Of course, if you’re already thin, you’re not going to have a problem with this. It’s only those who are currently a bit on the heavy side that are going to end up looking a bit strange to others. They might want to go on that diet that they were talking about for years, as part of their OPSEC routine.

In addition to weight, there are other considerations about your appearance that you should keep in mind. Clean clothing, shoes that are in good condition, shaving, haircuts, and nail polish are all things that will stand out like a sore thumb, if nobody else around you has them.

Once again, this is one of those things that’s going to get worse with time. At the beginning, everyone will look fairly normal. But as the lack of soap and water make an impact, people will wear their clothes longer, even though they’re dirty, wash their hair less frequently, and let their beards grow.

To some extent, you can get away with not looking like everyone else in this case, as long as it is easily explainable to the people around you. If they see you hauling more water than anyone else, they won’t have a problem with you wearing clean clothes.

If they see your wife cut your hair, they won’t think much of it. As long as there’s an explanation, they won’t worry about it.

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This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia. 

Survival Kitchen: How To Revive Cast Iron Cookware

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SVP cast iron skillet final

Want to know the best thing about cast iron skillets and pots? They’re practically indestructible and will last literally hundreds of years.

I used to have a couple that were well over a hundred years old. When they were stolen, I was heartbroken. Yes, that’s right. Somebody stole them. And that, my friends, is about the only circumstance from which you can’t revive your cast iron cookware.

Another great thing about cast iron is that, unlike most other kitchenware, you can use it on an open camp fire without damaging it. As a matter of fact, Dutch ovens were designed for just that use. They’re suitable to bury in the coals and use them as an outdoor oven.

Since you can use them outdoors, they’re excellent for making one-dish meals in and come in sizes that can accommodate a meal for one or a meal for ten depending on your needs.

How to Find Quality Cast Iron

I absolutely love this part – I have 6 different pieces of cast-iron cookware and I only bought one of them new. I found each of the other pieces at yard sales and junk stores.

Actually, I found the two skillets that were stolen at an old “antiques” store (translate junk shop) that sat along the highway leading into Mt. Airy, NC. I bought each of them for $5. Best 10 bucks I’ve ever spent.

This is the most important investment you can make to your well prepared survival kitchen!

I live in Florida now, and I still see them at about a quarter of the yard sales that I go to, and probably three quarters of the estate sales, and most of the time they’re listed at less than $5. The salvation army and Goodwill frequently have them, too.

You can, of course, also find them used online from places like eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, and Letgo, and you can buy them new at any home goods or super store. Basically, cast iron cookware is about as easy to find as toilet paper. Well, almost.

What to Look For

The good thing about cast iron is that even if it’s got some surface rust, it’s usually redeemable. What you want to watch for, though, are integrity issues.

Check to make sure that there are no cracks, and rub your fingers along the sides and bottom to check for uniform thickness. Set it flat and make sure that it doesn’t rock. Test the handle and make sure it’s sturdy.

Make sure that there aren’t too many cooked-on rough spots because, though you CAN get usually get them out, it’s a lot of work considering how easy common pieces like skillets and griddles are to find. If it’s a good one and you’re willing to invest the elbow grease and the time it will take to re-season it, then use the rough spots as a means to talk them down on the price.

Just make sure that it’s actually a cooked-on rough spot, though, and not rust that’s been painted over. I’ve seen it, believe it or not.

If you flip the cast iron skillet or pot over and there’s a lipped ridge or rim around the bottom of it, it’s an old one. That lip was used to keep it steady on top of a wood burning cook stove, so you can figure it’s a good 100 years old, at least, and likely older.

There will also likely be a seam visible across the bottom. Don’t let on like you know what you have because, if it’s in good shape, you’ve found a gem!

How to Revive Old Cast Iron

Now that you’ve got your gem at home, it’s time to bring it back to life! What I’m about to tell you may earn me some frowns from “those who say so,” but I’m speaking from 30 years of experience finding, reviving, and using cast iron cookware.

  • If it has rust that won’t just rinse off, sticky stuff, or baked-on crusties, use a steel wool pad to scrub all of the rust off. All of it. Inside and out. Yes, I’m aware that they say not to do this, but who are ‘they’?
  • Now that you have a clean, rust-free surface, it’s time to re-season it. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the piece until it’s almost too hot to handle.
  • Remove it and apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, olive oil, or solid shortening inside and out. No butter or cooking spray. You may want to put a cookie sheet under it in the oven in case it drips, but you really shouldn’t have that much on it.
  • Put it back in the oven and bake for an hour, then allow it to cool completely and repeat the process. I like to repeat twice, at least, so that the seasoning really has a chance to set.

Remember that this is just the beginning of the seasoning part and unless you were fortunate enough to get one that already had a nice seasoning to it, it may take a few uses for the seasoning to completely cure and build a hard, non-stick coating on the inside of the pot or skillet.

Video first seen on Tasty.

The first few times I use a new skillet, I like to cook fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, or other meats in them so that they can absorb the fat and really get a nice non-stick coating going. Before you know it, it will be the best egg skillet you have. Seriously.

People differ in how they like to clean their cast iron. Some say not to use any soap, ever – just wash it out with water and call it good. I have a bit of a problem with that because of silly little things like salmonella and other creepy crawlies that make people sick. I use soap, but make sure that I rinse it WELL.

I definitely do not use steel wool on any of my skillets or pots after they’re seasoned. You shouldn’t have to. If food becomes cooked on, I just put a bit of water in the skillet and if it won’t soak off in the sink after a few minutes, I place it on the stove with about a half-inch of water in it and bring the water to a boil. That usually works to get off any stuck-on food.

Once you’ve washed it, place it on the stove on low heat so that it dries completely, then add a thin layer of oil (I just put a drop in the middle of the skillet and wipe it around with a paper towel) and let it cool. Done.

I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to let your cast iron air dry. It promotes rust, plus each time you heat it and add oil, it helps keep it non-stick so that your great-grandkids can enjoy it long after you’re gone. They will appreciate it as much as we appreciate the knowledge that we’ve inherited from our forefathers.

We still have a lot to learn from our ancestors. Click the banner below to discover more of the secrets that kept them alive!

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Design Your Own Weapon, In These 14 Steps

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Survivopedia Design Your Own Weapon In These 14 Steps

Weapons are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Having the proper weapon makes self-defense much easier.

You don’t have to ruin your budget on the perfect gun, but you can challenge your skills and build your own homemade weapon. Learning how to build your own weapon is a handy skill that will serve you well in a survival situation.

It may be time consuming, but you will have a weapon that will perfectly fit your needs. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to build a knife that can be held better in arthritic hands or you want to design a super gun that breaks all the rules insofar as barrel length and projectile launching methods.

This article covers a step-by-step guide on how to build your own self-defense weapons.

If you follow these steps carefully and take your time with each phase, you will produce better weapons that will meet your needs.

Choose the Purpose of Your Weapon

Start off by deciding what you want to use the weapon for. Are you planning on building a self-defense weapon that will be used within arm’s length, or do you want to be able to attack something several feet to several yards away?

When considering this question, decide how lethal you want the weapon to be. If you are the kind of person that believes you cannot kill, there is no point to making a weapon that has a high chance of taking a life. In these cases, focus more on weapons that act as diversion, or those that will wound long enough for you to make your escape.

At this stage, it is also very important to decide how much you want to reveal about the weapon when you are carrying it. Do you want something that you can completely conceal regardless of where you are? If so, then you will need to list that as a priority so that you can fully evaluate which materials will meet your needs.

Click here to get your Green Beret’s Guide To Combat Shooting Mastery & Active Shooter Defense!

Choose a Relevant System to Study

Once you know what you want the weapon to do, look at systems that have already been developed.

For example, if you know that you want to make a bladed weapon, study knives. If you want something more lethal, then go ahead and study systems that include adding poisons to the knife.

During this stage, try to find at least 100 designs so that you know as much as possible about what has been developed through time. If you are combining systems, such as a knife and a poison delivery system, make it a point to find 100 designs for both.

Narrow Your Selection to One Design

Out of 100 designs, you may only find 5 or 6 that have sufficient appeal to work with. You will need to find one design that has the most appeal, and then keep detailed notes on the other systems that may work for your needs.

Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each design.

Create Your Own Design

When it comes to developing new personal defense weapons, many people are tempted to start here instead of studying other systems first. If you did your research well, you will find this step easy.

Take the time at this stage to make sure that you have all the best ideas in place for each part of the weapon. If you are going to innovate or bring in ideas from other weapons systems, make sure you understand how all the pieces will fit and work together.

At this stage, it is also very important to figure out how you will make allowances for wear, repair, and making changes based on available materials.

You should also make sure that you know what tools and skills will be required to make the weapon, use it, and maintain it.

Make a Blueprint with Scaling and Measurement Notes

There are few things worse than building a weapon without a detailed blueprint. When you don’t have a solid pattern to follow, it can be very hard to make precision parts. You will also find that it becomes all too easy to go off on a tangent.

No matter whether you get hung up on adding a style element, or you cannot seem to get the right shape for a part, a fully scaled blueprint can help keep you on track.

Make a List of Materials and Tools

Once you have a clear idea about what you are going to build, it is time to start assembling the tools and materials. You should also have a list of alternatives on hand in case you cannot obtain the items that you identified as ideal.

This list will also come in handy if you find out that you first choice wasn’t as good for one reason or another.

Create a Production Timeline

Before you begin working on the actual weapon, it is important to know how much time you plan to spend building the prototype, and then a full working version. This can help you save time as well as ensure that you make enough room for this task.

The last thing you will want to do is try to build something at the last minute, and then find out you needed far more time than expected.

Test the Materials

From polymers to metal and wood, there is a definite learning curve that you must go through. Simply reading a package or some instructions will not prepare you for all the things that come up when you work with the materials.

It is very important to know that you are comfortable with each material so that you know exactly how you are going to work with it while making the weapon.

This will also give you a chance to see if you need additional tools, or if you would be better served by using a different material.

Build a Prototype

Many people do not build a prototype because they think it is best to just aim for something that will work. When you don’t have a prototype, you waste material and time.

When you build a smaller working version, it gives you a chance to build and test your skills as well as see how everything will fit together. Even though a prototype won’t detect all your design problems, it can still be very useful.

Build a Functional Weapon

If you have been eager to build your weapon, then this stage is bound to be your favorite. Now is the time to put everything you learned plus your skills into making the finest weapon possible based on your plans.

Do not rush through this stage. Make sure that all the modules work correctly, and redo parts if they don’t come out right. Remember, your goal is a final product that will work to save your life, not put it in danger.

Test the Weapon

Once the weapon is built, you will need to test it out for strength and functionality. Each weapon design will require different testing strategies.

Do not test on live animals or other human beings. There are many ways to use dummies, blocks of wood, or other materials to see if you have a weapon that works properly.

When testing weapons, do not forget to wear adequate safety gear. Never assume that the weapon will work correctly. It is best to be well protected in case you made a mistake in the design, or something unexpected happens to turn the weapon against you.

For example, if you are working with poisons, gases, or liquids, make sure you are wearing full eye and face protection as well as an appropriate coverall and footwear.

Store the Weapon

After you know the weapon works, set it aside for a while. Give yourself some time away from the active development and building phase so that you can go back later and look at it with fresh eyes. This will also give you a chance to see how the materials change over time.

If a material is going to degrade over time or lose its usefulness, then it is best to find out before you need to use the weapon for self-defense.

Continue Testing and Studying Your New Weapon

From time to time, it is very important to test the weapon out and practice with it. This will give you confidence in using the weapon and help you find design and material flaws.

Make Modifications as Needed

If you find a problem with the design or materials, it is important to go back and fix them as soon as possible. In some situations, you may have to go back to the design and development stages and then build another version of the weapon.

As time consuming as this may be, it is better to take these steps with care and come out with something better the next time around.

Remember that a personal defense weapon should be something you feel comfortable carrying at all times. Learn from the experts the secret of self-defense. Click the banner below to grab your guide!

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Read This Before Start Building An Utility Trailer

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Survivopedia Read This Before Start Building An Utility Trailer

Even though there are plenty of pre-built new and used utility trailers on the market, they may not meet your exact needs. If you are going to use the trailer for any kind of prepper application, it is best to make sure you have everything you want in the design.

As with so many other things, this means you will more than likely need to design and build the trailer yourself. While this may cost more in terms of time and labor, in the end it may save your life and make living in the post crisis world easier than expected.

If you are looking to expand or upgrade your DIY skills, building a utility trailer will give you plenty of practice.

Stages of Building Your Trailer

These brutal financial times make it difficult to justify building a utility trailer that may or may not be needed to address some kind of major future crisis. Surprisingly enough, you don’t need to build a utility trailer years, or even months in advance of a major social collapse.

By keeping the following points in mind, you can build a suitable trailer in just a few days, or even do so after a major crisis happens.

As you think about how long it will take to build a utility trailer, keep the following points in mind. You can divide the timeline into five main parts:

1. Planning and designing the trailer

You can plan and design a trailer at little or no cost. Make your basic plans on paper, and then do your research for free online. Look at other designs on the market, find out what materials are available, and get a good sense of how much all the parts will cost. Once you have the blueprint, parts list, and projected assembly plans, just about everything else can be done in a matter of days.

When of making up a parts list, include as many recycled or salvage parts as you can, and add at least 2 or 3 alternatives that suit your needs. This will make it easier to choose parts later. If you run out of time before acquiring all the building materials, you can use this list during and after a major crisis as a guide to viable materials.

2. Obtaining raw materials

Before you buy materials, purchase any tools that you might need. These tools can also be used for many other household and travel needs, so they won’t go to waste. The more time you spend using basic power and hand tools, the better off you will be in any situation.

The more time you have for obtaining building materials, the better. Aside from being able to budget more easily, you will see if there are reusable materials in flea markets, junk yards, or estate sales that might be of use.

Individuals that are building and maintaining comprehensive bug out plans should take the salvage and alternative material list along on test excursions. This is an excellent time to take note of what items may be available on the way to your bug out location.

3. Building the trailer

Preparing for an emergency is never easy, especially when you are concerned that all your hard work will be stolen by rioters or others. An utility trailer can be a bit hard to hide, and just about everyone that sees it will know what it is, or remember that you have one. Once a major crisis occurs,these people will be looking for you and ready to take anything of value that you might have.

This is the main reason why I don’t recommend building a utility trailer from the top down and having it all ready to go. Rather, it is better to build the trailer in units, test them out, and then be ready to assemble them at a moment’s notice. Many systems are small enough to be hidden in your home or garage, and then assembled later on when the need arises. If you make fast assembly and modular system designs part of your plans, this process may be easier than you would expect.

 4. Testing everything out

There is a definite trade off between testing out a completed trailer and keeping its existence as secret as possible. Doing your best to test specific modules may not be enough when you actually assemble the trailer.

Your best option will be to try and assemble the trailer in a quiet location where no one will know. Once you know everything works together as a unit, you can always take everything apart and then reassemble it in time of need.

5. Maintenance

As soon as you begin keeping supplies on hand, or materials to build the trailer itself, you will always need to be concerned about maintenance.

For example, if you purchased aluminum for the sides of the trailer or other parts, they may still need painting, lubrication, or other routine care to prevent them from being ruined.

Where to Get Materials From

Have you ever gone to a local hardware store, home improvement store, or automotive shop only to be disappointed by the inventory? You may find some items in these stores to get you started on a DIY product, while other items may not be available (thicker aluminum, for example).

Be careful how you shop online, and you should be able to keep your building plans secret.

Here are some other places where you might find building materials at a more reasonable price:

  • Local auctions and surplus events. Newspapers and websites dedicated to your town or city may list these venues as well as what kinds of materials are available.
  • Watch the classified ad listings in supermarkets, department stores, or other areas where estate sales, flea markets, or other private sales might be listed.
  • Military surplus outlets may also be of some use.

Check the end of the article for a list of websites that may help to salvage or find construction surplus materials.

Basic Parts

The absence of a means of propulsion doesn’t mean utility trailers are simple, or that you can build them with a lack of care and consideration. A poorly designed or constructed trailer can spell disaster. Do not cut corners or reduce quality if you want to build a reliable trailer!

Wheels, Axle, Suspension, and Braking Systems

The axle and suspension system must be able to support the entire weight of the trailer and everything in it. These parts must also have the flexibility to absorb shock as the trailer moves without bending excessively or breaking.

Many utility trailers have smaller wheels, but bear in mind that you might take the trailer off road or into areas with deep ruts, mud, or broken pavement. Spend a bit more on larger wheels with deeper and heavier treads so that the trailer passes more easily over these areas.

Basic Frame

The frame must work in conjunction with the suspension, axle, and braking system to provide a solid foundation for the rest of the trailer. No matter whether you choose an open design or a closed one, the suspension must be sturdy and durable. A frame that is built independent of the suspension will give you more options and also much better performance.

Coupler and Tongue Jack

If you do not have a good quality coupler and tongue jack on the trailer, it can lead to a number of problems including:

  • The trailer may break way from the vehicle pulling it along.
  • It may sway from side to side or be very hard to control when the pulling vehicle turns.
  • A poorly designed coupler may be difficult to connect and disconnect as needed.

Wall Frame

The wall frame must still be study enough to keep all of the items in the trailer secure no matter whether you design an open trailer or a closed one. Choose frame material that will not bend or buckle if objects inside the trailer hit it.

It is also best to choose a frame material that is sturdy enough to accommodate the weight of a roof and enclosure if you decide to make these changes later on. Even if you decide on low walls now, make sure that you can bolt on taller pieces later on without sacrificing on frame strength.

Roof Frame (optional)

Try to make the roof frame sturdy enough to accommodate the roof covering and storage for other items. It never hurts to create a roof top frame that can also be used to house solar panels, small wind turbines, or other devices used to generate electricity, gather water, or carry out other tasks.

Enclosure

If you are looking for a cheap easy way to enclose the trailer, start off with canvas, and then keep a vinyl covering for times when you need to keep the interior as dry as possible. As time and budget allow, enclose the trailer with aluminum or some other more permanent and durable material. As long as the roof is made from a solid material (polymer or resin might work), you could also generate power and still use canvas for the trailer sides.

Access Points

Most people that build low walled trailers do not worry about doors or windows. On the other hand, even if you plan to live in a canvas covered trailer, you’ll need to enter, exit, add to, and remove items from the trailer.

Ventilation and adequate air flow are also important so that you don’t wind up with moisture, mold, and mildew buildups inside the trailer. Doors and windows on solid side, enclosed trailers can also make it more comfortable to live in.

Security System

When all your worldly possessions are going to be packed in a trailer going a long distance, security systems are crucial.

You can use electronic surveillance systems as well as specialty locks and bolts. Just remember that these systems are only as good as the materials used to build the rest of the If the sides are made of canvas or vinyl, there will not be much sense in installing locks. Instead, think about what kind of weapons you can use to defend the trailer as well as any devices that can be used to deter people from approaching it.

Internal Features

Shelves, seats, tie down areas, and privacy enclosures are all important for a multi-purpose utility trailer. Keep weight down by using plastic furnishings or ones that can be packed away easily.

For example, beanbag chairs are lightweight and can be put together to make a bed. Alternatively, use plastic tubs to store your items and then put an air mattress on top of them. Just because internal features need to be light weight and simple, that does not mean you have to be uncomfortable or unable to enjoy whatever time you may need to spend in the trailer.

Electricity

Aside from running computers or other devices that store important data, electricity is important for power tools used to fix the trailer or build parts that were not complete before started using it. There are many devices that can be used to power a utility trailer, like different wind turbine designs that will lend themselves well to sitting on top of a trailer. As long as the trailer is in motion, the turbines will spin.

You can make a series of smaller turbines that are housed in other parts of the front of the trailer and then combine them into a single battery pack. This is especially important if you want your trailer to look as inconspicuous as possible. A few fans hidden behind grills will not be as noticeable as solar panels or a shell design turbine sitting on top of the trailer.

Make your home 100% immune from future power outages or blackouts with this DIY Home Energy System! 

Water and Sanitation

Many people that don’t plan on living in a utility trailer after a major crisis occurs think they can ignore water and sanitation issues.

On the other hand, you are always going to need clean water. As such, you should at least have some tools on hand so that you can purify water or pull it from other resources. Even if you store away plastic and a shovel so that you can retrieve water vapor as it evaporates from the ground, you will be ahead of the game.

Setting aside a small part of the trailer for sanitation and privacy needs is more important than you realize. At the very least, bring a few items along that you can use to meet these needs once they are assembled.

Tools and Skills You Need for the Project

You will need common tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, metal cutters, drills, and hand saws for building your trailer, but also other items. These tools require electricity to operate, but it’s not impossible to make a sturdy trailer without them.

  • Welder – you need a welder to join together steel rods used in the trailer frame. Even though welding is not especially difficult to learn, you need some practice before you weld the rods together. Remember to wear a welding hood, gloves, and an appropriate apron. No matter how fascinating welding and the sparks it makes may be, remember that you are working with very high temperatures and a light source that can blind you in a matter of seconds.
  • Circular saw, jig saw, and hand drill – these power tools make cutting boards and other materials much easier and faster. Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned in my preference for corded tools, however I have yet to find battery powered tools that lasted as long or provided as much power when I needed it most.
  • Hydraulic Jacks – you need at least 4 to support the frame while you are mounting the axles and wheels.
  • Hoists and Pulley Systems – if you start building in modules, hoists and pulleys make it possible to assemble completed parts in a matter of minutes.

Equipment and Furnishings: Buy or Make Your Own?

When you make your own racks, shelves, and other furnishings, it’s easy to create what you need and in the size that you need it. But if you don’t have the time or patience to make furniture, it can be a very tedious task. Unless you upcycle free wood palettes or other materials, you’ll find that the cost of making your own furnishings is about the same as buying pre-made models.

Research on camping and RV gear, and you’ll find all sorts of things that can be used to make the utility trailer more comfortable and convenient. In many cases, this equipment may not meet all of your needs. You may not be able to repair the items if they break down, or they may not be as durable as you would like.

If you want cutting edge designs or newer technologies, those devices may also be more expensive. For example, if you want to include a wind turbine, it may be impossible to find the best in a pre-fabricated form, so you’d better look at different bladeless turbine designs, and build something that meets your needs.

Newer polymers and other materials on the market can make this task as simple as working with a 3D printer and a few well designed templates. Aside from cost and innovative concerns, when you make your own equipment you can always add room for adaptability. If you need to scavenge parts or build systems that are easy to repair, there is nothing like developing your own designs.

DOs and DON’Ts When Building an Utility Trailer

Building an utility trailer is like many other things in life. There are some basic things you should always do, and others that you should avoid.

Here are some of the most common practices that lead to building a trailer that will be durable and useful or one that will not be worth the effort you put into it.

  • Do not cut costs on critical components such as the frame, suspension, axle, and coupler. Everything in the trailer depends on how sturdy and durable these items are. If you don’t know how to weld, or don’t have enough practice in metal working, make sure that you know what you are doing before you tackle building these parts.
  • Do seek training for everything you need to do. From wiring the trailer for electricity to installing windows and shelves, it never hurts to take a few courses on these and other building oriented topics.
  • Never work on the trailer when you are tired, angry, or sick. Most of the time, you will be working with power tools, chemicals, or something else that can cause injury or death. Exhaustion, excess emotions, and illness can make you careless and impatient. Even if you are not injured, the mistakes you may make can come back to haunt you when you put the trailer on the road and discover these “hidden features”.
  • Always observe safety precautions. Goggles, ear protection, gloves, aprons, steel toed boots, dust masks, and respirators are all necessary safety gear that should be used. While many people today recognize the need for goggles, far too many do not wear protective ear plugs and respirators. Never forget that everything you are working with will create some kind of dust, smoke, or gas. None of these fumes or dust are good for your lungs or your health.
  • Give yourself plenty of room to work. Over the years, I have seen many accidents caused by a simple lack of working space. Make sure that you have plenty of room to lay all the parts and tools out. Keep your work area neat and clean. No matter whether you are working indoors or outside, it is all to easy to take a step backwards and trip over something you forgot was back there.
  • Make sure that others working with you observe safety and good working habits. If you work with a team, it is all too easy for you, and others to put things where they can pose a risk to others. If everyone makes it a point to put things back where they belong, it will be much easier to avoid accidents.
  • Always keep detailed records of everything you did and how each system fits together. Later on, if you need to diagnose problems or make repairs, these notes will give you a valuable point of reference. Include photographs taken during the construction process, these will make it easier to orient and prepare for making any required changes. Do not forget to update your notes and photos once you are done.
  • Never use drugs or alcohol while working on the trailer. As soon as you lose any kind of control of yourself, both the tools you are using and the materials can also get out of control. This can lead to cuts, bruises, burns, and other serious injuries. If you must have a drink or take some kind of medication, stop for the day and then go back to it when your thinking and your reflexes are in better condition.

Take the time to design and build a custom utility trailer, and you’ll develop a perfect prepper solution!

While this task isn’t as difficult as it seems, you will need to put in a considerable amount of time, effort, and money. When a disaster strikes and you are able to move and live comfortably in the trailer, you will see that it is well worth the effort.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

References:

http://www.americanbuildersurplus.com/

http://www.salvex.com/

http://www.contractoryardsale.com/

http://www.bmomn.com/

http://www.govliquidation.com/Scrap-Metal.html

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6 Self-Defense Tactics For Weak And Small

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Self Defense

If you qualify as a small person, you may look as the perfect victim but when it comes to defending yourself, you have a couple of advantages that may make up for your stature.

First, the smaller you are, the more an attacker is going to underestimate you. They’re going to be more likely to assume that you’re an easy mark just because you’re smaller or perhaps physically challenged.

Second, they’re going to expect you to be afraid. If you don’t show fear, it’s possible that you can throw them off-kilter long enough to buy yourself a few extra, precious seconds. There are a few things that you can do to make this time count.

In this article, I am going to talk about some of those measures as well as share some other tips to help you defend yourself and your castle.

1. Take a Martial Arts Class

Martial arts are great both for self-defense and exercise. The health benefits of martial arts are out of this world. They help prevent muscle atrophy and bone loss and keep your connective tissues healthy. They also have the added benefit of giving you some extra skills that you can use to defend yourself if SHTF.

No matter what your fitness level is or what your physical abilities are, there are martial arts classes designed to meet your needs. The secret is to find a good trainer.

A huge advantage of martial arts or self-defense classes is that you’ll meet other individuals interested in learning to defend themselves. It’s likely that some of them will be doing it for the same reason that you are – prepping for SHTF.

Put out some feelers and you may just find some valuable allies that will be willing to join forces with you. That can be invaluable.

2. Learn to Use Your Brain as a Weapon

If your home is invaded in a survival situation, it may be more pertinent to use your head rather than your fists to defend yourself until you can gain the upper hand. For instance, trick the person into believing that you’re weaker than you really are.

Find non-traditional weapons that are handy such as your cane, a lamp, or even an ashtray. Make your first attempt count because you may not get another shot.

Offer to get your “money” from your purse and reach for you weapon instead. Don’t bother pulling it out; a gun will fire just fine though the bottom of your bag.

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3. Bring as Little Attention to Your Place as Possible

Wood cooking stove If your place is already boarded up and unattractive-looking, don’t bring any more attention to the fact that you’re there than necessary.

Make trips outside during times that nobody is likely to see you. If you can, build a path that’s blocked from public view in advance.

Using shrubbery or fencing will allow you a greater amount of privacy to come and go on your property undetected.

4. Take a Weapons Course or Join a Shooting Club

Knowing how to use you weapon is one thing but being comfortable with it is another. Taking a weapons course is a great way to safely learn how your gun works and how best to use it. You’ll also learn its shortcomings, which is just as important as knowing its strengths.

Joining a local shooting club has a few advantages. First, the more you load and fire your gun, the more comfortable you’ll be with it when it comes time to defend yourself. Gun clubs are also great places to meet like-minded people.

If you’re interested in being part of a community prepping network, chances are good that you’ll meet fellow preppers at a gun club. Just cautiously feel around. If nothing else, you might make some friends.

5. Plan Your Defense in Advance

The worst time to figure out how you’re going to respond in any given situation is when you’re actually in that situation.

Have an action plan based upon numerous scenarios and practice what to do in each situation. By doing this, you’ll identify possible holes in your plan and you’ll also be prepared to act instead of react when faced with the real-life problem.

Stockpiling ammo and guns is an important part of your survival plan. In order to determine your ammunition needs (or lack thereof), consider the following:

  • Are you planning on needing to defend yourself and your property aggressively?
  • Do you have plenty of excess storage space?
  • How long do you think the survival situation will last?
  • Are you planning on supplementing your food supply with game?
  • Is the disaster that you’re planning for a local event or a global one?
  • Do you have the funds to store enough ammo to get you through the disaster?
  • Do you plan on using ammo as barter?

Let’s take a look at these questions one a time.

First, are you healthy enough to operate a weapon? If you don’t have the physical or mental stamina to actually shoot another living being, then perhaps stockpiling weapons isn’t for you.

If you pull a gun on another person, especially in a desperate situation, you have to be prepared to use it and physically capable of doing so. Otherwise, you run the risk of your attacker disarming you and using your own weapon on you.

Next, if you don’t have enough space to store the amount of ammo that you think you’ll need, perhaps you should consider reloads instead.

If you’re only planning for a local disaster, remember that the rest of the world is going to continue to produce ammo so stockpiling it probably isn’t necessary and may even be a strain on your space and your finances.

Even if you’re planning on a global event, you may not need to stockpile more than a few boxes if the disaster is going to be a temporary situation that will be followed by a rapid recovery.

If, after you’ve considered all of these options, you still believe that you need to stockpile ammo, here are a few tips to help you do it.

  • Figure how long the disaster will last, then figure how many bullets you think you’ll use per day based upon what you’re going to be shooting at. Use those two figures to roughly estimate your ammo needs.
  • Make sure that your storage space is cool and dry, and likely to remain that way.
  • Store your ammo in containers that are airtight.
  • Rotate your ammo just like you do the rest of your stockpile. Make sure that you have the proper types of round for your weapon and for what you’re going to be shooting at.
  • If you still have kids in the house, store your ammo in a place that isn’t readily accessible to anybody who isn’t trained.

Sometimes the best self-defense is to back down and escape. It’s OK to run if you need to; if you’re faced with certain death or the need to leave your home, by all means, leave! If evacuation is part of your plan, you may want to hide a stockpile away from your home in a place such as a storage unit.

Try to protect yourself and your loved ones, as Brian M. Morris says in his “Spec Ops Shooting” guide to combat shooting mastery and active shooting defense.

Also, pack a bug-out bag with all of the necessary supplies that you’ll need to get you to your bug-out location.

6. Consider Buying Non-Traditional Weapons

In addition to your standard guns, there are common items that have now been weaponized. There are stun canes and that look like a regular cane but actually have stun-gun capabilities when engaged. There are cell phones like that, too.

Just about anything can be used as a weapon. Canned food, keys, a pen, lamps, rocks; really whatever you can get your hands on will be better than nothing but again, make your first move count by aiming for the throat, nose, head, groin or eyes if possible.

Carry your standard weapon, too. Pepper spray or your gun won’t do you any good if they’re in the upstairs drawer. It’s time to survive so be ready at all times.

There are many ways to learn how to defend yourself if you are weak and small, but the most important thing to remember is that you need to stick to the plan of attack (or escape) once you’ve committed to it.

This decorated former Green Beret shares a lot of lifesaving advice from his 25 years of service in this book. Click the banner below to grab your guide to gun mastery.

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This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia. 

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7+ Tips To Survive When Camping In Winter

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Survive When Camping In Winter

For the average Joe out there, myself included, winter camping usually means renting a cabin somewhere nice in the mountains and spending the holidays with friends, family, and a few bottles of booze while chatting, listening to CCR and enjoying the downtime. (Still I would survive out there without these, if I have to.)

However, there are hardcore outdoors aficionados who actually resent the idea of camping in a heated cabin by a romantic wood stove. That’s not camping – it’s glamping.

Moreover, there are adventurous folks who prefer to grab their backpack, rent a snowmobile, and go somewhere in the wilderness away from the mad world, the rush, and the insanity of civilization for a few days or weeks.

Regardless of what your pleasure is about camping during winter, there are a few tips and tricks you should know before going out in the cold.

Hypothermia is a very “cold” (pun intended) fact to consider if camping outside in extreme weather conditions. If you want to return home in one piece, with all your thumbs and toes in working condition, then keep reading, as I will share with you some important information about how to stay warm even in -45 F. Okay, maybe not toasty warm when it’s that cold, but you got the idea.

To begin with, you should be realistic and realize that winter camping is not for everyone. However, if you’re properly equipped and trained, you may very well have the time of your life even on Everest.

Let’s begin with the basics: pre-trip planning. Pre-planning prior to any type of endeavor is the key to success, especially if we’re talking about camping during winter.

If you remember that old Bob Dylan song, you don’t need a weatherman to tell you where the wind blows. In other words, regardless what the weather forecast says, you must always prepare for the worst winter conditions possible. Better safe than sorry, right?

1. Plan Your Trip

Even if it may sound like overkill, make sure you’ll be packing all the emergency supplies you’ll ever need in a winter survival situation, such as extra food and water supplies (or means to procure water by melting snow and ice), extra clothes, etc., especially if you’re going somewhere remote.

Also, if the weather conditions are likely to bad, as in dangerous bad, you should play it safe and postpone your trip, that is, if you don’t want to win the Darwin award, if you know what I mean. If not, Google it. It’s fun in a macabre sort of way.

Pack light, but don’t scrimp on essential gear, like a camping snow shovel, plenty of lighting, spare batteries, a first-aid kit, ski poles/walking poles and always go for a strong/sturdy waterproof tent.

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2. Take a Friend With You

Another crucial rule when it comes to winter outdoors survival is a rule I’ve learned from a Jack London novel. Never travel alone. Period.

3. Research the Campsite

Research the area you’re going to visit, check the surroundings, see if there’s a forest nearby (read firewood), see if there are any villages or small towns around, learn how long it will take to get from point A to B, etc. We’re living in the age of Google Maps and satellite imagery, so you don’t have any excuse not to get proper intel before going in!

Choose the right campsite (the sun is your best friend during the winter, so check out where it rises), start your fire first thing, before anything else, plan ahead, and stay warm folks.

4. Inform Your Family & Friends

Also, remember to inform your friends and family about your whereabouts, i.e. where you’re going to be for the next couple of days/weeks or whatever, thus making sure you’ll be able to get help if SHTF. If you can give them a detailed map of your route, that’s even better.

5. Keep Warm

Now, let’s talk about keeping warm. Obviously, the main thing to consider when camping outside during the winter is the right clothing. That’s the detail that will make all the difference in the world.

Dress in Layers

Layers is the word. Wear layers of clothing, as layers are the outdoors explorer’s best friend, besides a good fire. Layers work by trapping air between them, thus insulating your body from the cold. A few layers of clothing are more efficient than a single one, regardless of how thick it is.

Also, stay away from cotton clothes, because cotton absorbs moisture (you’ll get sweaty at some point during your trip) and damp or wet clothes are your worst enemy when it’s cold outside.

Basically, you should use three layers of clothing: the base layer, something like a second skin which helps you trap the body heat (synthetic materials/merino wool are the best for the base layer), the mid layer, which works as the main insulator (you can go for fleece lined trousers/heavy fleece) and the outer layer, which must be waterproof.

Dress In Layers

Keep Your Feet Warm

Feet are the infantry’s secret weapon, as my old drill sergeant used to say, so when you go out camping during the winter, pay extra attention to your feet.

To avoid cold feet, keep your cotton socks at home and go for polyester socks or wool socks. Specialty stores stock special foot gear (read socks and boots) designed for hiking. Obviously, the boots are very important too, as they must be waterproof and grippy, especially if you’re going to hike through the snow or ice.

Never Neglect Your Head and Your Hands

A huge amount of body heat, almost half of it in fact, is lost through the head during the winter, so make sure you wear a hat that’s going to block the wind and keep your heat in. Finally, don’t forget a nice pair of gloves.

6. Know Your Gear

The sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear when it comes to winter camping, so know your gear well if you want to survive low night-time temperatures. The idea is that you’ll require a high-quality sleeping bag if you want to be comfortable during the night and wake up healthy.

Or, double up your existing one just in case by putting one inside the other. Remember to always put a foam roll mat (or 2) under your mattress.

The idea is that shelter is pretty important when camping during the winter, as you may experience snowstorms, strong winds, and the whole palaver. Don’t get cheap on your tent, nor on your sleeping bag. They can make the difference between waking up relatively warm and safe and having somebody find your popsicle body.

7. Know Your Body

Together with knowing your gear, knowing your body is very important. Some folks sleep cold, others sleep warm. There are variables, like your age, sex, fitness level, experience, the amount of body fat and lots of other factors, which differentiate between the comfort levels achieved by different people using the exact same gear.

If you’re not familiarized with winter camping, it’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. I am talking about layers of clothing, sleeping bags, and just about anything else that counts toward survival.

Go to Sleep Already Warmed Up

Always remember to go to bed, (inside your sleeping bag that is) already warmed up. The idea is that warmth cometh from within, while the sleeping bag is playing just the insulation part, so if you’re freezing and sleepy, do a few press ups/sit ups or just jump around a little before getting inside your sleeping bag. You’ll thank me later.

Eat Late

Another trick for a good night’s sleep while winter camping is to eat late, ideally a hot meal just before going to sleep. The ideal meal would be fatty (as opposed to carbohydrates), as fat gets metabolized slowly by your body (it lasts longer) and, needless to say, you’ll require fuel to make heat, right? Cheese, olive oil, bacon, pork; you know what I am talking about.

Eat high-energy food at all times, preferably in the form of warm meals. If you can’t, go for nuts, chocolate, and energy bars. Cover your exposed skin in animal fat or vaseline, just like the Inuit have been doing forever, thus preventing frostbite and windburn.

Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry

Keep your sleeping bag dry at all costs, add more layers outside eventually as you need them. This doesn’t have to be clothes; it can be as simple as putting a metallic survival blanket over your sleeping bag.

This Emergency Survival Blanket helps retain 90% of your body heat. Get yours now! 

Video first seen on Survival Frog

Avoid breathing into your sleeping bag while sleeping (it introduces moisture) and sleep with your boots in your bag. Put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag so they don’t freeze during the night.

Leave your water filter at home and concentrate on boiling the snow. Chemical filters work painfully slow in the cold while mechanical ones may crack/fail due to the cold.

Hydrate

Don’t forget to drink enough water, even if you don’t have your usual thirst reflex, which is common in extreme cold. However, dehydration is a serious danger in sub-zero conditions, especially if you’re sweating. Also, a lot of moisture gets lost while breathing in and exhaling the cold air, as the air is very dry during the winter.

Try to prevent your water supply from freezing, but that’s easier said than done.

If you have other ideas or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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How To Choose Warm Clothes For Cold Days

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survivopedia_how-to-choose-warm-clothes-for-cold-days

Cognitive function begins to be impacted when you lose just 2 degrees of body temperature. In temperatures below freezing, that can happen in just a matter of minutes if you’re not dressed properly.

The right clothing can quite literally be the difference between living and dying if you’re caught outside in bad weather.

Of course, keeping all of your fingers and toes and avoiding freezing to death are benefits of choosing the right clothes for cold weather, too!

Today we’re going to talk about the top considerations to keep in mind when choosing your winter clothing. Your primary goals are to stay warm and trap body heat inside.

Dress in Layers

The first and most important step to keeping warm is to dress in layers. This helps in several ways.

First, it allows you to shed some clothing if you get too warm. There’s nothing more miserable that sweating so much that your clothing gets wet, then being exposed to cold. Staying dry is extremely important if you’re planning on surviving long enough to warm your toes by a fire somewhere.

Layers also serve different functions. Your inner layer (or layers) should be made of something that wicks away sweat. A middle layer should be warm and insulating, and the outermost layer should block the wind. It’s also good to make this layer waterproof.

cold-weather-dressing

Now, most people make the mistake of only thinking about a coat; if you’re going to survive, you need to cover as much as your body as you can, while still maintaining mobility. You lose most of your body heat through your head, hands, and feet, so make sure that you keep those well-insulated.

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Layer One

The first layer, your long underwear, should wick away sweat. There are any number of synthetic and natural fibers out there, but the best wicking fabric is wool. Of course, it’s also itchy. Merino wool is much softer than other wools and wicks well, but it’s a bit pricey.

Of course, you can always get really into the project and raise your own sheep and make wool yarn so that you can knit your own long underwear, but that’s not an option, or a preference, for many people.

A cheaper, less time-consuming option may be to choose something other than wool.

Polypropylene doesn’t absorb moisture at all, which makes it a great material for your bottom layer, but it’s flammable. Just keep that in mind around the campfire at night.

Silk feels great but it doesn’t wick very well. Stay away from cotton and flannel because they hold moisture. That’s bad when it comes to staying warm, because that wonderfully soft fabric that felt so good on your skin when it was dry turns into clingy, heavy material that sucks out all of your body heat when it’s wet.

Oh, and anything that sucks your body heat out is promoting hypothermia, which, if you don’t know by now, is a bad thing. It also creates a petri dish for bacteria.

Speaking of which, there are several synthetic blends out there that actually have compounds in them that inhibit bacterial growth. This isn’t really a big deal if you’re going to wear it for a day or two, but if you’re going to be in it for several days or more at a time, it’s a concern.

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The Middle and Outer Layers

Your coat may serve as both the middle and outer layers if it’s stuffed with insulating material and has a wind-proof outer shell. The stuffing is the middle layer, and the shell is the outer layer.

Coats that are made to keep you warm as you go from your car to the office often offer more aesthetic incentives than functional ones. They keep you warm, but they’re not built to keep your heat in long-term or to really block wind or keep you dry.

When you’re choosing a coat for serious warming power in the real outdoors, go for a coat that has baffling – those little layers of pockets full of fluff that are sewn together, sort of like a quilt.

It’s good because it helps hold the down in place and create what coat folks refer to as loft. We normal people would probably just call it fluff or puffiness. You don’t need as much stuffing if your coat has plenty of loft.

Down coats are great, especially if you choose a good one, and they’re light. Cheaper varieties often use feathers instead of down, which aren’t as insulating. It’s all about the density of the down that traps the warm air in. You can tell how many feathers are in it by giving it the pinch test. If you can feel quills, there are feathers.

There are also good synthetic blends that offer great insulation as well as breathable yet waterproof shells that block the wind. Two common ones are polyester and nylon.

Since polyester is basically made from plastic, it has great value as an insulator and a windbreaker. Nylon is tough and doesn’t absorb much water. What it does absorb, it doesn’t hold. Instead, the moisture evaporates, making it great outer shell material.

Gloves/Mittens

You absolutely have to have gloves – think of them as a coat for your hands. For that matter, you want your gloves to have the same properties as your coat.

Mittens are the best option because they keep all of your fingers together in one warm little pocket, whereas with gloves, your fingers are isolated. It’s important that your gloves have great insulation if you choose to use them instead of mittens. Gloves do offer much more mobility than mittens.

What type of fabric you choose depends on your activity. If you’re going to be sweating, you want something breathable that wicks moisture away while keeping your hands warm. If you’re not going to be active, you may want to go for something with more insulation.

Socks and Hat

Cold feet are miserable. Not only that, they can be deadly. If you get frostbite, you run the risk of developing gangrene too. No fun. Wool socks are, again, the best because of their wicking and insulating properties, and cotton socks are the worst. Just as with coats, there are blends that work wonderfully, too.

If you want, you can always buy a coat with a hood. There are some limitations when you’re wearing a hood versus a hat, though, so if you opt to go with a hat, follow the same rule as you do with socks. Wool is good because it’s both insulating and wicking.

Oh, and don’t forget to cover your face. Your nose is one of the quickest appendages to freeze, so cover it up! A good wool balaclava will keep your head, face, and neck warm and toasty.

Choosing winter clothing that will keep you warm every day and alive if SHTF doesn’t have to be difficult, but you should consider your environment and assess your needs (durability, flammability, etc.) before investing in good outdoor clothing.

Some things you can skimp on, but this probably shouldn’t be one of them. Buy the good stuff – your life may depend on it at some point.

Make your home 100% immune from future power outages or blackouts with this D.I.Y. Home Energy System. 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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11 Reasons To Stockpile Castor Oil For Survival

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Castor Oil For survival

Old timers used castor oil for everything from colds to parasitical worms, but recent generations have pretty much forgotten about it. That’s a shame because, if our elders are to be believed, it’s one of those multi-purpose items that deserve a place in your stockpile.

Read the following article, and you will see why our ancestors were so right about this natural cure!

Castor oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the castor plant and is composed mostly of the fatty acid ricinoleic acid. That’s the ingredient that is responsible for the healing, analgesic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties associated with the oil.

Though most of us don’t keep it at home any more, it’s still a common ingredient in cosmetics, soaps, massage oils and even textiles.

I’ve done some research and, though there isn’t a ton of formal research available to support its effectiveness as a home remedy, there’s usually something to be said for centuries of use by entire civilizations.

As you probably know, in order to garner our attention, an item has to do more than treat constipation or hydrate dry skin in order to make our list. We need products that can be used for everything from treating sunburn to sharpening scissors, and castor oil fits the bill.

Note: The treatments outlined here can also be used on your pets.

1. Skin Care

We’ll start with this one because, in addition to keeping your skin soft and youthful, it’s also used to ease the pain of severely dried and cracked skin and lips. In a survival situation, this is a condition that can quickly lead to gangrene, so it’s a big deal.

Castor oil is also a good base ingredient for soaps, lotions, and cosmetics because of its hydrating properties. It has omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, both of which are often used to promote healthy hair, skin, and nail growth. Some claim that it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that can help get rid dandruff and possibly athlete’s foot.

It has been shown to have analgesic properties, so it’s good to treat sunburn, rashes, bug bites and other minor skin conditions. It’ also used to treat ringworm. Just rub it directly on the skin.

Finally, the anti-inflammatory properties are great for treating cystic acne. The best thing is that it works fairly quickly. Swab it onto your clean face at night and you should notice improvement by morning.

2. Digestive Issues and Parasites

This is one of the most commonly-known uses for castor oil. It helps your bowels move. Be careful that you don’t use too much because it works remarkably well for this condition. You don’t want to become dehydrated, so start with a tablespoon and give it a few hours. Take more if needed.

If you want to just “take your medicine” and get it over with, just swallow it straight. If not, you can mix it with juice or a food. Apple juice would be good, because it also helps relieve constipation.

Castor oil is also a common home remedy for intestinal parasites.

3. Arthritis, Muscle, and Joint Pain

This is another common reason that it was used by our elders because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some say to make a poultice with other herbs and rub it into aching joints for relief. You can also take a tablespoon internally. If you have diarrhea, you may want to try the rub.

Video first seen on Ancient Current

4. Gets Rid of Corns, Moles, and Warts

The fatty acids in the oil are purported to dissolve these conditions. For corns, simply dip a cotton ball in castor oil and tape it over the blemish. Change it out once a day, but in a week, the corn will be gone. For moles and warts, add a bit of baking soda to the cotton ball, too. It may take a couple of weeks for this method to work. You can also try just dabbing it on regularly.

5. Get Rid of Yard Pests

Apparently, moles and other yard pests find the smell of castor oil as repugnant as people do because if you mix 1/2 cup of castor oil with a couple of gallons of water and sprinkle it around your garden or yard. It won’t kill them, but it definitely encourages them to find a better place to live.

The upside to this is that ferns and other greenery respond well to castor oil. It helps them look greener and lusher.

6. Hemorrhoids

Because of the anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil is often used to treat external hemorrhoids. Dip a cotton ball in the oil and apply it over your hemorrhoids. Leave it on for 15 or 20 minutes a few times a day if possible. If not, just applying daily will provide relief.

7. Lubricate Just About Anything

Because of its viscosity, castor oil doesn’t freeze, so it’s great to use to lubricate hinges, scissors, meat grinders, motor parts, and anything else that gets sticky.

8. Boosts Immunity

Because of the fatty acids in it, castor oil has been shown to boost your immune system by increasing white blood cell production. The odd part about this, though, is that it does it when you apply it topically. That’s right – just rub it on your skin and, according to the study, your white blood cells may increase by as much as 20 percent.

9. Treat Infected Cuts or Rashes

The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful in healing a mild infection. Just dab it on with a cotton swab or dribble it directly onto the wound a few times daily until the infection heals. There are also many herbs that you can add to it to help even more.

Along the same lines, you can use it to help treat vaginal infections.

10. Treat Aching Feet

This is a treatment that waitresses have been using since, well, since before they were called waitresses. Just warm a bit between your hands and rub directly into your feet. You can also help lessen the pain throughout the day by rubbing some on your feet before you go to work, then wear cotton socks.

If you have extreme pain, you may want to try generously applying castor oil then wrapping the effected body part in plastic wrap before you go to sleep.

11. Pilonidal Cysts

I’ve read several testaments where people swear that a gauze coated in castor oil works to get rid of the pain and inflammation of pilonidal cysts. It may also help draw out the infection so that the cyst opens, drains, and can heal. Lay the gauze over the cysts, then place a heating pad over it and keep it there for an hour. People reported tremendous improvement just after the first treatment or two.

There are many uses for castor oil – these are just a few of the big ones. I’ve combined several of them under the skin care and digestive issues section because there are so many different uses for it for those particular areas.

Click the banner below to discover more natural survival remedies that helped our forefathers survive harsh times!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Survival Lessons From The Old: One Pot Meals

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For eons, entire meals from stews to casseroles have been made in one pot.

The cowboys and settlers did it because they only had the luxury of one pot on the trail, and we do it today because of the convenience and simply because there are so many recipes out there that are delicious as well as fast.

We follow their example, and learn from their knowledge. Here’s what we should know about this old way of cooking!

As preppers, it’s important that we know how to cook without electricity, and though I’ve included slow cookers in this article, the rest of them don’t require anything other than fire and the vessel.

There are some rules for cooking in a single pot if you want the meal to be delicious and safe to eat, but for the most part, they’re quick and easy to prepare and clean up.

Adjust Cooking Times of Veggies

First, you want your vegetables to cook evenly, so if you’re standing over the pot, you may want to throw hard veggies like carrots in 15 minutes or so before you add the rest.

For soft veggies such as cabbage and broccoli, put them in at the last minute since they only take 10 or 15 minutes to cook in a pot. This isn’t a necessity, if you’re throwing something in the crockpot and leaving, so just know that some veggies may be a little mushy if you put them in all at once.

Sear Your Meat

Next, searing your meat adds flavor to the meal. This is especially true of large pieces of meat such as roasts, pork chops, beef tips, and other meats that are thick and solid. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, it will add an extra layer of flavor. Hamburger and Salisbury steak has a crispier texture if you sear it beforehand.

Beware of Pathogens

You must make sure that your meat cooks all the way through, especially if it’s poultry. This isn’t such a big deal with red meat as long as you don’t mind it a bit rare in the middle, but birds carry salmonella.

Trust me – one bout of food poisoning from that and you’ll make sure it never happens again! USDA guidelines say that red meat should be cooked to 145 degrees F, ground meats should cook to 160 degrees, and poultry should be 165 degrees.

When you’re finished eating, make sure that you refrigerate it. Bacteria begin to grow quickly between the temperatures of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so too avoid the risk of food poisoning, refrigerate your food within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees) after it comes off the heat.

Cold foods, especially ones that contain mayo or eggs, should be kept at 40 degrees, so just put them in a bowl of ice if they’re going to sit out, and stir it frequently to keep the entire dish cold.

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as their stored in containers, and can be frozen almost indefinitely, but they’ll begin to lose flavor after a month or so depending upon the food.

Types of Cookers

There are several types of cookers that you can use depending upon the dish and the circumstances. Especially if you’re cooking over a fire, you’ll want to cook as efficiently as you can, and one pot meals are certainly the best way to do that.

Since our primary concern is cooking in a survival situation, we’ll start with those methods.

Dutch Ovens

This is one of my favorite ways to cook outside because you can quite literally cook anything that you want to in them. Whether you want to make stew, chopped steak, or breads, a Dutch oven will do the trick. They steam the food internally, which keeps it moist and tender. You can buy aluminum and cast iron Dutch ovens, though the cast iron, in my opinion, is far superior in nearly every way.

The history of the Dutch oven is believed to date back to Holland in the early 1700s, and was brought to America with the first settlers. They were popular with settlers and other people, such as ranch trail cooks, and were used in work camps during WW1. Paul Revere improved the design by adding a flanged lid and made some other modifications, likely to improve the strength and consistency of the cooking.

Joseph Lodge built a cast iron foundry in Tennessee that still produces arguably the highest quality Dutch ovens and iron skillets available today.

They come in different sizes and two primary designs – the bean pot or kitchen oven, best for use indoors or placing on a rack over an open fire, and the camp or outdoor oven, which has a flanged lid that can also serve as a skillet. It also has legs, a flat bottom, and a sturdy wire handle so that you can hang it or lift it from the coals.

They’re great for cooking indoors or out and can be used in the oven, over a campfire, or buried in the coals, depending upon your needs and what you’re cooking. Cooking with a Dutch oven is simple, too, once you get the hang of it.

Solar Oven

Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, here’s a recipe written specifically for that cooking method. You will surely love this pot roast cooked on your solar oven.

Ingredients for this tasty recipe are:

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes).

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Stop asking yourself if the solar oven works during winter, because it does, and here’s the proof!

Video first seen on jnull0.

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Iron Skillets

Thank you again, Joseph Lodge for making iron skillets of the highest quality readily available in the US. The original iron skillet dates back to 1707, when Abraham Darby invented a process to make cast iron in large quantities so that they could be produced for common use.

Iron skillets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often with lids, and are great for cooking one pot meals in smaller quantity. They’re not quite as versatile as the Dutch oven, but certainly have value, especially for cooking quick meals such as breakfast scrambles and meals that don’t require a deep pot or long cooking times, such as Salisbury steaks, cornbread, camp biscuits, and fried chicken.

Slow Cookers

Ahh, possibly one of the best cooking inventions of modern times. Just as with man, the slow cooker started as something quite a bit different than what it is today. In 1952, West Bend came out with the electric bean pot, which was just a ceramic pot that sat on top of an electric heating element. This wasn’t much different than cooking on a stove, but was perhaps the first commercial attempt at a portable cooking vessel.

Enter Irving Naxon. He had developed the idea of a portable cooker that would have a crock sitting inside a casing that contained a heating element, thus providing even heating. He applied for the patent on May 21, 1936 and received it in January of 1940.

Naxon credited the idea to his Lithuanian grandma, who told him about how she used to cook dish called cholent after hours at a local bakery. She would prepare the meal, then place it in the oven so that the fading heat would slowly cook it overnight. This provided his inspiration for “low and slow” cooking.

He brought his idea, called the beanery, to market in the 50s and in 1970, Rival manufacturing hired Naxon, rebranded his product as the Crock Pot, and put it on shelves across America for $25. Surprisingly enough, that price hasn’t increased by more than a few dollars for a standard version since then.

There are, of course, improved versions with fancier technology and higher capacity that cost more.

Slow cookers are absolutely fabulous for all sorts of meals from stews to ribs that you want to cook slow and low while you’re away from the house or busy doing other things.

Canning

As survivalists, we would be remiss to leave out this method of preparing one pot meals.

We’ve discussed in another article how to put these together and, like our other cooking methods, canning is a great way to prepare both meals and desserts. You can also dry-can meals using dry ingredients that only require that you add water.

The one benefit that makes canning stand out is that you can eat the meal right out of the jar. It is, of course, more delicious if you heat it up, but if you’re without power and don’t want to draw attention to yourself with a fire, eating straight out of the jar may be your only option.

Another benefit here is that you can prepare the meals years in advance as opposed to cooking them on the spot. In a survival situation, that’s a huge plus.

The Beauty of One Pot Meals

There are a ton of reasons why a one pot meal is so appealing, but from a survival perspective, the ease of cooking is probably the biggest one.

You can cook a pot roast complete with all the fixings in a Dutch oven and you can even cook such meals as chicken and dumplings. They’re not just for soups and stews.

Having a variety of delicious meals is a huge morale booster as well as a way to get all of your nutrition out of one pot. Though beans and cornbread are delicious and filling, it gets old after a few days and isn’t a well-rounded meal.

One Pot Cooking Ideas

A quick internet search will net you a ton of great ideas for one pot meals, but you can always just use your imagination. There are also some recipes that you should know by heart. They aren’t necessarily one pot meals, but they are essentials that will help you keep your crew full and nourished.

  • Want fried potatoes, eggs, and sausage for breakfast? Toss your potatoes in first, then add your sausage and cook both til they’re done and throw in your eggs. Scramble them all together, and you’ve got a delicious one pot meal.
  • How about beef tips with gravy and a baked potato? Toss your beef tips into your crock pot or Dutch oven, wrap your potatoes in foil and toss those in with it. When they’re done, remove the potatoes and add some flour and milk to the beef tips. Cook it for a few minutes until the gravy thickens and you’ve got dinner.
  • Soups and stews, of course, are obvious, but how about ribs with corn on the cob and roasted potatoes? Easy peasy. Cut your potatoes into cubes and toss them in your seasoning. Wrap them in foil packs. Do the same with the corn after you break the ears into halves, or cut it off the cob. Put your rub or sauce on your ribs and toss them all into your Dutch oven or crock pot and you’re good to go. You can also do the potatoes and corn in the coals.

One pot meals are, for the most part, only limited by your imagination. They’re easy to throw together, toss into your cooking vessel of choice, and forget about. Also, you’re getting many more nutrients than you would if you only cooked a single item. That makes them a great survival food.

There is a great opportunity for Survivopedia readers to prepare for cooking in the sun, so grab this offer available only for a few days!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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10 TO DOs In Winter For Your Survival Garden

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Winter Gardening Dos

You’ve worked hard to improve your soil, pick your seeds, and plant your survival garden. But now temperatures are dropping. Winter is here.

You don’t want all of your gardening efforts to be wasted during this harsh season. There are steps you can take to maintain and protect your survival garden this winter.

Taking care of your garden and orchard in the winter takes a little work, but it’ll be worth it in the spring when your overwintered plants are still alive.

You’ll have a head start on next spring’s planting, and you will be able to provide more food for your family.

Keep a close eye on the temperature during the winter months—the lower the temperatures, the more work you’ll have to do.

1. Care for Perennial Plants

If you’ve planted perennials like asparagus or rhubarb in your garden, you’ll be overwintering some plants. These will need protection from the freezing weather.

Once the ground has gotten cold, ensure that you’ve cut back these plants. Then cover them with four or five inches of a natural mulch. You can use:

  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Leaves
  • Wood that’s been chipped
  • Shredded pine needles

The mulch will protect your plants from the temperatures that can change rapidly in winter. You don’t want your plants to constantly freeze and thaw throughout the winter. Mulch helps keep their temperature more constant.

It also provides warmth for the roots. By protecting the roots of your plants from freezing, you’ll give them a much better chance of winter survival.

In addition to protecting your plants, the mulch will also provide nutrients to your soil. Just be sure to uncover your plants when spring comes. Then, you’ll want the mulch to be around the plants instead of on-top of them.

You’ll also need to continue watering your plants if you aren’t getting precipitation regularly. While plants don’t need as much water in the cooler temperatures, they do need some. Plan on a deep watering session at least once a week if the ground has begun to thaw and you don’t have a snowpack.

2. Start Your Seedlings

If your growing season is short, you’ll want to maximize it by starting your plants indoors this winter.  Before planting, you’ll want to ensure you have containers that drain well and good soil.

You’ll want to time this step right so your seedlings can be transported directly to your garden when they’re the right size. If you have gardening neighbors, ask them for advice on when to start plants. Otherwise you can check with your county extension agencies or online resources.

Start Your Survival Garden And Never Worry About Food Again – Read More! 

3. Keep Pests Away

Winter’s freeze doesn’t eliminate the threat of pests to your garden. Some insects, such as the tomato hornworm and squash vine borer, burrow underground for the cold season. If you had a pest problem before winter, you might find yourself with an even bigger one come spring.

One strategy to eliminate these underground pests is to till your garden before the hard freeze, but after small freezes. Turning over your soil will expose the pests to the cold and decrease their survival odds.

Bugs aren’t the only pests you’ll encounter in the winter. Hungry deer and rabbits will be searching for anything they can find when the snow is covering what they normally eat. Make sure your garden fence is solid to protect your overwintered plants.

If you have an orchard, you’ll also want to have wire around the base of the trees. This will keep animals from gnawing on the trunk. This video shows an easy way to keep animals away from your trees with stakes and wire:

Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.

4. Know Your Plants’ Hardiness Level

Not all plants can withstand the same levels of cold. Be sure you know the hardiness for your plants and trees. If the weather in your area drops lower than it typically does, you may need to take additional action.

When planting with overwintering in mind, always select hardy plants for your zone. You should know when your typical first frost occurs, and how low the average temperatures are when selecting seeds.

If colder than usual weather is predicted, ensure your plants have a thick layer of mulch. New plants and trees will need more protection than established ones.

Hardiness zone map

5. Protect Your Orchard

Trees can be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, especially if they’re not very hardy. Water that’s in the tree can freeze, causing limbs to break off and other damage. Here are some ways to keep your orchard trees from freezing this winter:

  • String some of the big, old-fashioned, non-LED Christmas lights through the branches. Though they let just a tiny bit of heat, it’s enough to protect from a light freeze.
  • Place a blanket around your tree. This obviously works best for small trees.
  • Don’t fertilize in the winter. This extra food boost will encourage your trees to grow, which is not what you want happening in the winter. Those new shoots will be extremely susceptible to damage.
  • Apply a frost cloth to your trees.
  • Mound the soil up high against the base of the tree.
  • Light a fire on the ground nearby to help warm it up and provide heat to the branches. You can save what you trim each spring to burn over the winter.

If you wrap or bank the trunk of your trees, be on the lookout for insect infestation. The bugs like a warm place to live as well.

A buildup of snow can also cause problems with trees. If you notice that the branches are bowing under the weight of the snow, help them out by knocking the snow off. This will keep your branches from breaking off.

6. Bring Plants Indoors

Some plants that don’t respond well to freezing temperatures can be dug up and potted for the winter. Just bring the pots inside, and care for them by providing water.

Here are some plants you can bring indoors for the winter:

  • Banana plants
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender

You can also dig up starts from other plants, and bring the shoots indoors. But, you’ll want to do that before the deep freeze occurs to help avoid transplant shock.

Winter is also a great time to start a small garden indoors. You can grow a variety of food indoors, which will help lower your winter grocery bill and provide fresh, local produce to enjoy. Just remember to keep an eye on your indoor garden and keep it in a room of your house that isn’t going to freeze.

7. Inspect & Organize

Since you won’t be using your gardening tools as often this winter, take time now to inspect them all. Your goal is to make your life easier once you jump into the gardening season again.

Sharpen your pruners, hoes, and any other tools you use with blades. Repair or replace any handles that have cracked.

Also, take time to walk your fence and make any repairs that are needed. If deer were a problem, consider adding another layer to increase the height of your fence.

Organize your garden supplies and make note of anything you’re running low on. Now is a good time to reorder supplies so you have them on hand when spring comes along.

8. Keep Your Compost Going

You’ll want compost in the spring to help get your garden growing again. If your compost pile is exposed to the elements, you can use a tarp to cover it. This will help keep the center warm and encourage the organisms to continue working.

The cover will also keep your compost from getting too wet. Too much moisture isn’t good for your pile.

You can save your food scraps throughout the winter to ensure your pile continues to grow. If you’re letting your compost pile go dormant for the winter, you might consider starting a small secondary pile. Just remember to keep adding carbon.

Video first seen on Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable

9. Plan for Next Year

Winter is the perfect time for planning your next year’s garden. Take time to sketch out your current garden’s layout so you can remember where each crop was planted. This will help you more efficiently plan crop rotation.

You can use the cold months to study new gardening techniques, research the best varieties for your area, and reflect on last year’s harvest. There’s always something to learn when it comes to gardening, so pick up some reading material at the library, and enjoy planning your garden.

10. Harvest Edibles

If you’re overwintering carrots, onions, cabbage, or other plants that will continue to produce in your climate, be sure to harvest the edibles. There’s nothing like farm fresh produce in the middle of winter.

For plants that grow underground, the freeze will eventually kill off the tops. This makes your edibles less visible. Be sure to mark where these plants are located so you don’t forget when your garden is covered with snow.

If you typically enjoy milder winters, the number of edibles you can grow significantly increases. You can also extend your growing season with cold frames or greenhouses. Remember to water the plants you have in there, and keep weeds at bay.

This way  you can have your own survival garden no matter the season. Click the banner below and learn how to grow an endless supply of nutritious food in your backyard with no effort and in extreme conditions.

Venezuela is in shambles. People were unprepared. How will you feed your family? 

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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3 Remedies From Medieval Europe To Heal The Common Cold

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Remedies For Common Cold

I think it was Hippocrates who said something along these lines: “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”.

Today’s article is about trying to find a cure for the common cold or, more precisely, reviving ancient remedies from medieval Europe.

And speaking of cures for cold, there’s another saying in my neck of the woods: if you take cold medicine, you’ll get better in seven days, otherwise you’ll be sick for a week.

Do you see where this is going?

Let me tell you another interesting little story: despite the fact that there are only a small number of basic ingredients to be found in OTC (over the counter) cold-medicine—around ten, give or take (ephedrine, ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin, pseudo-ephedrine etc.)—the number of cold-related drugs in your pharmacy is in the hundreds.

Each major pharmaceutical company that has a hand in the cold industry typically has at least 10 different types. Many have 20 or 30 or even more.

That’s pretty confusing, especially when you’re knocked out by a bad case of flu or cold, you can’t think straight, and you just want something to get you out of your misery. You’ll gladly spend a bunch of money to feel better.

Little do you know you’re wasting it on pure crap. Do you think I am exaggerating?

Basically, in the cold medicine racket, the name of the game is making money via marketing and brainwashing. Have you noticed the huge number of drug-ads on TV? 70% of the money a television is making outside an election is from Big Pharma, so let that sink in really well.

I am writing this article because last week I suffered from a bad case of cold, which rendered me pretty much useless until I started making and drinking an old cold/cough remedy that I learned from my grandmother.

Onion tea

It worked from day one, put me back on my feet, allowed me to think straight, to breathe and to write; you know what I mean.

And then I realized that for us preppers, knowing ancient remedies for a disease that is wreaking havoc this time of the year would make for an interesting article. So, if you’re into staying healthy without taking drugs, keep reading.

Let me tell you how it all began: awake at 4 AM. Can’t think, can’t write, can’t breathe, stuffy nose, sore throat. Does it sound familiar?

Well, I managed to crawl to my car and hit a local pharmacy. I bought some stuff pompously titled “cold medicine”, got home, medicated myself, hit the bed, and woke up 3 hours later still feeling horrible.

Then, it hit me: my grandmother used to make onion tea when I was little and I had a bad case of cold. I remember it smelled awful and tasted like rotten pig guts, but if I was a good boy and drank a lot of it, it worked.

With these things in mind, I went to the kitchen, gathered 3 onions, washed’em up pretty good, and put them in the kettle to boil.

The idea is to take 2-3 small onions and boil them slowly in a full kettle until the water is reduced by half via evaporation, then drink the tea as hot as you can stand it.

Trust me folks, it really works: sore throat-gone, stuffy nose-gone, I was alive again. It does taste hideous, unless you’re a die-hard onion lover, but it’s a small cost to pay.

Basically, with this magic potion you’ll be able to function, to be active: to be alive, so to speak, from day 1.

You must drink two 3/4 cups of tea per day, essentially one in the morning and one before bed, that’s important.

If you manage to squeeze 3 more in during the day, it will work like a Swiss watch.

If all you have in the house are big-fat onions, you’ll just have to cut them in half before boiling it, but remember: don’t remove the peel. That’s essential; just wash the onion thoroughly.

How does onion tea work? I really don’t know. There aren’t any “official” studies that I know of, probably because you can’t patent onions and sell them for 5 bucks a pop. It just does, provided you drink it hot as hell and you follow the recipe above.

Vitamin C

Besides onion tea, supplementing with vitamin C and D3 is also very important when it comes to mitigating colds and flu (these vitamins play an essential role in immunity overall), but it’s important to take big doses. The RDA is a joke.

For example, I am talking about 2-3 grams of vitamin C per day, together with eating lots of fruit: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, kiwis, apples and, again very important, raw onions and garlic (natural antibiotics).

The RDA is the minimal amount of Vitamin C (or whatever) to be taken daily in order to avoid getting scurvy (speaking of vitamin C). To be healthy, it takes for much more than that; remember that.

Vitamin C

Tomato Tea

Another way of naturally treating a stuffy nose/nasal congestion is tomato tea.

The recipe is:

  • 1 cup of tomato juice, (but I’d use 2-3 tomatoes cut in half instead of tomato juice)
  • a teaspoon of fresh garlic (basically a clove)
  • half a teaspoon of chili sauce (I’d use a small red hot chilli pepper instead)
  • one teaspoon of lemon juice (again, I’d use a whole fruit instead).

Add a pinch of salt into the mix and heat them together in the kettle until they start boiling, then drink the tea as hot as you can take it.

During the day, you can drink a mix of green tea and ginger tea with honey, as these ingredients boost the immune system and they break up phlegm naturally (the drugs are called expectorants).

Streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat is a common occurrence when it comes to seasonal colds and flu, and besides my aforementioned magic onion tea recipe, you should try 2 additional tricks if you want to get better ASAP: first, gargle with apple cider vinegar after you dilute it in a glass of warm water (1-3 teaspoons of vinegar in 8 oz of water).

Second, gargle with salt-water and if you’re hardcore, you can try rubbing your infected tonsils with salt (using your finger that is). It’s not a pleasant experience, but it works amazingly well. You can boost the recipe’s effectiveness by adding powdered cayenne pepper into the mix.

Add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper plus one teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz. glass, and mix well together, obviously. Gargle vigorously with this formula until you get better. It will definitely break up the bacteria coating in your throat so expect to spit profusely for a couple of minutes afterwards.

It’s very important to use high-quality, organic salt; not refined/processed stuff. I would recommend Himalayan salt (the pink variety), or salt-mine salt (the one that looks dirty). Processed, refined, snow white salt doesn’t work too great as it’s stripped of its essential trace elements.

I hope the article helped and I can’t wait to see your comments in the dedicated sections below, AFTER trying my onion tea, obviously.

Stay healthy folks and click the banner below to discover more ancient secrets that helped our ancestors survive harsh times.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Moving Your Computer Off Grid

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Moving Your Computer Off-Grid

More than a few preppers feel that as long as they can provide food, shelter, water, and basic medical needs for themselves and their families, nothing more is required. Other preppers may feel that self defense, power generation, education, and machine repair are skills that will be required in the post crisis world.

Sadly, many preppers and also off-gridders tend to ignore or underestimate the need to have a computer that can be used to help make it easier to survive.

In all likelihood, these are also the people most likely to have serious problems in the post crisis world because they do not have a computer available to help meet a range of goals.

Computers and Prepping Can Get Along

A computer cannot hunt a deer for you, boil water, or make a pair of shoes, obviously. On the other hand, any computer with a connection to the internet can help you find out how to do these things and much more. When you find good information, it is also very easy to store those files on your computer so that you can read them and work with them whenever you want.

And if you are in a situation where internet access is still available, you can use your computer to contact friends and loved ones as well as people that might be able to help you get through a crisis. Then you can certainly relate to the quandary of many preppers that are finding out it is becoming impossible to make or obtain raw materials that would be needed in a major crisis scenario.

On the other side of the equation, many of the items you need for basic prepping can still be purchased online. All you really need is a prepaid debit card and an internet connection so that you can find websites where you can place your orders. Not only will you be able to get the supplies you need, you will also have a much wider selection of other goods to choose from.

Regardless of whether you are interested in the best quality gun cleaning kits, need a certain type of fishing reel, or need good quality vintage hand tools, you can find them all online. In fact, even if you are disabled, you may be able to find customized materials and tools that have been modified to meet your needs.

Most people don’t realize just how important it is to network with preppers from diverse geographic regions and make plans for bugging out that include those friends and connections. Consider what would happen if an earthquake or hurricane strikes your area.

If you only have friends and family in a local, or small area, chances are everyone will be affected. If you have friends in other states that might be able to offer temporary shelter or help you make a new start, then you will be well ahead of the game.

In these times and beyond, both money and barter systems are vital for exchanging needed goods and services. A computer is very important for expanding your trade and marketing options. It is also very important for securing alternative currencies that may play a vital role in remaining solvent in the face of currency collapse.

Most people would be truly amazed at how easy it is for the average consumer to secure foreign currencies, keep a good supply of them, and even use them as down and dirty form of currency trading or flipping.

The Tough Choice on the Best Device(s)

Off grid devices

Obsolete devices may still be very useful because certain older technologies are easier to work with and may be safer than newer devices that are routinely overclocked or are based on unstable hardware platforms.

If you are interested in newer devices, here are some categories, brands, and models that you can start off with for each category of device:

Desktops

If you are primarily interested in a conventional desktop computer, my own experience leads me to believe the best option is to build the computer yourself so that you know exactly what parts are being used and how best to optimize the BIOS (this is where you can determine how fast the computer will run, whether or not the system can boot from a USB drive, and other aspects of basic operation) settings.

Since modern computer chips tend to run hot, it is very important to provide plenty of ventilation and cooling options inside the case. If your CPU and motherboard kit come with sub-par heat conducting gel, do not hesitate to find the best on the market.  It is also very useful to add extra fans and other cooling devices right inside the case.

Always remember, the cooler you can keep the chips during operation, the lower your chances of erratic freeze-ups or even ruining the chips.

Insofar as other vital parts such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and video cards, it truly depends on your personal tastes.

You will need a dedicated video card to gain access to these specialized chips that will reduce wear on the CPU and enhance computer performance at the same time. Be sure to study gamer forums and video editing forums to find out which video cards work best with specific CPU and motherboard combinations. A bad fit between these parts can truly be a disaster.

Memory cards (RAM) are yet another tricky, yet vital area of the computer that you will need to think about. This is also one area where only the best will do. It is better to go with the fastest cards that the motherboard will take, and also from the best rated vendor.

Laptops

Unlike desktop computers, you will have far less control over what parts are found inside the case. Before purchasing a laptop, be sure to find out the model number of the CPU and motherboard. From there, you will need to look up the chipsets to find out what the optimal clock speeds are.

I have seen more than one laptop burn up at around the 1 year mark because a sub-part mother board with a slower timing chip was paired with a faster CPU. Since most buyers do not ask about the motherboard model, there was no way for them to find out that they basically had an overclocked system that was going to fail very quickly.

Overall, I can safely say that I don’t recommend spending 3 – 4 times as much money on a laptop when I can choose a much cheaper tablet and optimize it with less intensive apps. The only advantage a laptop might have over an off grid tablet is that it is easier to customize the programs.

Tablets

An unlocked tablet will give you just about everything you need for basic document access and communicating with others. You can also choose apps that will enable you to create your own apps and carry out other more complex tasks.

Tablets also have the advantage of taking far less  power than a desktop or laptop computer. They can easily be recharged on a portable solar pack, and it is also fairly easy to bypass the battery.

Insofar as brand names, I tend to favor Lenovo, but have also found Alldaymall tablets to work well. The Alldaymall tablets are also a good bit cheaper, so you can purchase more of them and put them in your bug out bag as well as other locations.

Smart Phones

When it comes to a comfortable viewing experience combined with relatively low power usage, larger tablets will work much better than smart phones. That being said, in a “something is better than nothing” or a vital tool for your EDC, few things can rival a good quality unlocked smart phone.

While I recommend a 10” tablet for bug out gear, a 5” smart phone is truly  more than enough for EDC. Not only a phone this size fit easily into a purse or backpack, it is even easier to power than a larger tablet.

They also work well for reading a range of documents and will give you a good sized window for viewing videos. You can also hook up a folding keyboard and be able to carry out a number of tasks that would be difficult using the screen keyboard.

The Challenge on Providing a Steady Source of Power

Today, the vast majority of computers have sub par power supplies that make them more susceptible than ever to fluctuations in power coming into the system.

As our electric grid continues to crumble, rolling blackouts, brownouts, and line voltage fluctuations caused by excess usage during peak hours will shorten the life cycle of many computers. If you are generating your own power, it is just as important to make sure you know how to keep the current going into your computer as steady as possible.

There are some things you can do now, as well as consider when building a power system that will help you get the most out of every computer that you own. CLICK HERE to subscribe to Survivopedia’s newsletter and get the free report on how to take your computer off grid.

Understanding the Impact of Utilization

No discussion about preparing your computer hardware for off gridding would be complete without at least touching on the resource cost involved in each program that you run on the system. For example, if you have a simple word processor program with no fancy graphics, it will take up far less processor and memory resources than one that has funny critters dancing around all over the place.

Apps that automatically play videos or programs that automatically play music also shorten the hardware life of your computer. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the best computer for your off grid or prepping needs, it is always important to study benchmark tests and hardware longevity tests under certain loads.

Once again, you will find some of the best and most accurate information in the gaming forums.

Important Parts to Keep On hand

For each device in your EDC, bug out bag, or other location, there are some important parts that can help double or even triple the useful lifespan of your computer. Even if you lose some functionality, the main parts should still work for 2 – 3 decades on desktop units, and up to 10 years on laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

  • Start off by buying all of your devices brand new and with the maximum warranty available. If something breaks down during the warranty period, let the manufacturer or repair center take care of the problem.
  • Buy at least 3 to 5 non-functioning devices that are compatible with the make and model of each device. Usually, you can pick these units up for around 10 to 20% of the cost of a brand new device. You can choose different manufacturers as long as the parts are fully interchangeable with your device. You will use these devices to learn how to make repairs, and also for spare parts if something breaks down on your main device.
  • Since RAM chips take the most abuse on any computer system, keep a few spare ones on hand.
  • Have at least one extra power supply for desktop units. Unlike other parts of the system, you should never open up the case on the power supply unless you have a good bit of experience working with electronic devices. Never forget that the capacitors inside these power supplies may not be fully discharged, and that touching them or a live circuit can cause death or severe injury.
  • Keep at least 2 USB hubs handy that also have the capacity to power any device you hook up to them. When connecting devices to the USB ports on your computer, try to never at least one pair of ports.

What Happens When the Battery Dies?

If you have been thinking about using a smart phone or tablet as a place to store important survival information, you may hesitate because you know that the battery can easily be ruined by over charging, or that it will wear out sooner rather than later.

While some devices will continue to work while the battery is “charging”, others will not. If you have a device that will not work while charging, you will need to remove the battery and apply current directly to the device.

In this scenario, you must know how to keep the voltage and amperage as stable as possible before they reach the device. You can make your own controllers for this purpose then hook them up to solar panels or anything else that you will be using as a power source.

Just remember that you power controller may also need to go safely from AC to DC current as well as match the voltage and amperage needs of the device. If you aren’t sure how much power to provide for laptops, tablets, or smart phones, just go by what the battery is rated for.

Video first seen on PrepareForTheUnexpected.

Basic Toolkit

It will not be of much use to have plenty of parts on hand, and then no way to install them or make good use of them. Here are the most essential tools you will need for building computers or making repairs:

  • chip extractors for chips that are installed in sockets
  • high heat conducting gel
  • anti static grounding strap
  • precision and larger size screwdriver kit
  • magnifying glass
  • low wattage solder iron, solder, and flux suitable for computer parts
  • desoldering bulb
  • pliers and wrenches
  • wire cutters
  • anti-static bags and mats for placing boards on while you are working
  • multi meter, port testers, and digital logic probe

If you become especially proficient at scavenging and rebuilding electronics parts, it may be to your advantage to include a copper board etching kit. You can use these to make new circuit boards in a time of need.

Scavenging and Repair Skills

If you take good care of your devices, they may last for several years without need for repair. Once they break down, however, you will need to put your toolkit and stored parts to use. Here are some basic scavenging and repair skills that you can use to fix your own devices, or trade as service with others:

  • understand hardware part numbers so that you know which parts are compatible across different manufacturers
  • be able to solder and desolder chips or other parts without damaging the parts
  • know how to diagnose problems and figure out the best way to solve them
  • how to recognize which parts (example what a melted down chip looks like) need to be replaced or repaired
  • how to use software diagnostics, driver programs,  and BIOS programs to resolve problems
  • how to find viable parts in a junk yard or other locations where discarded electronics may be found.

Video first seen on The Off Grid Family.

Where to Get More Information and Training

Overall, you will find it easiest and cheapest to build and test your skills on desktop computers. If you go to a flea market or do some research online, you can easily pick up dozens of obsolete motherboards, CPUs, power supplies, and just about anything else for a few dollars.

Start off by trying to build a complete and functioning system. This will give you plenty of practice with identifying basic parts and help you overcome any hesitance you may have in working with computer parts.

While you are exploring these parts, take a course on basic electronics and then one on computer hardware. You can also find plenty of good books on this subject. In total, you should spend about 4 months on this part of your skill development.

Once you master desktop computers, you can go ahead and choose the parts for, and build your own system. If you do not want to build a desktop unit, then go ahead and start working on building your stockpile of laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

You can always practice your skills on non-working units as well as get to know more about working with smaller devices that require a good bit more patience and care.  If you develop a particular interest in these smaller devices, it will be to your advantage to take courses on how to repair them.

Without a question, the first time you bypass a battery during a major crisis or repair a failing laptop monitor you will see why these skills are every bit as important as anything else you may be learning and practicing for a time of need.

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This Article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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5 Things To Know About Bleach Storage

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Things To Know About Bleach Storage

We’ve recently had a question from a reader about bleach storage. She lives in a warm area of the US and had a problem with leakage that ruined some of her other preps.

Starting from this question, today we’re going to take a look at proper storage of bleach as well as discuss some viable options for it that will suit your needs at least as well as bleach.

Why is Bleach Important?

Though many people think short-term of looters and thieves, one of the biggest risks to your survival when SHTF will be disease.

Because there may no longer be public water sanitation systems, water supplies may become contaminated. People won’t understand the need to keep waste away from water.

Another reason disease will be an issue is because of poor sanitation. Somebody with cholera will leave the bacteria behind and you may touch whatever is contaminated.

If you become contaminated, you’ll then have cholera. Those of us in the know and prepared won’t have as much of a problem, but the largest portion of society may not fall into that category.

Bleach kills 99 percent of disease-causing germs and you only need to have it in a ratio of one part bleach to ten parts water to create a cleaning solution that will kill germs.

You can also use bleach to sanitize your drinking water. For that, you use 8 drops of bleach per gallon of clear water and 16 drops for cloudy water.

You’ll also need to learn how to bathe without using contaminated water too, because some germs can permeate your skin while others will get to you when you lick your lips or get some in your eyes. It’s not OK to bathe in bad water. It’s better to not use water at all if you don’t have clean water.

However, you have other alternatives for sanitizing water that we’ll get to in a bit.

5 Things to Know about How to Store Bleach

First, it’s important to understand that bleach expires. When you buy it, use a black sharpie to write the date.

It’s a good idea to also write 8 drops/1 gallon because in an emergency situation, your brain may not be able to pull up all of the numbers you need. If you really want to be prepared, tape a plastic eye dropper to the jug, then when the bleach comes up in your rotation, just remove the eye dropper and tape it to the next new jug of bleach that you buy.

The ideal storage temperature for bleach is between 50 and 70 degrees F. At those temperatures, bleach maintains its full strength and efficacy for between 3 and 6 months. After that, it loses about 20 percent of its strength per year. If it’s stored in hotter temperatures, it loses its strength even faster.

The best way to store bleach is in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Because the containers can sometimes be a bit fragile, you may want to store them on a piece of old linoleum, and keep them out of the way so that the bottles aren’t inadvertently kicked or knocked off the shelves.

It’s my guess that this is what happened to our reader’s bottles because they don’t generally degrade.

Just as with all of your prepping supplies, use the first-in-first-out rotation so that you’re always using the oldest product, and when it reaches its 6-month date, you don’t necessarily have to throw it out. You can still use it in the laundry, and if SHTF, as long as it’s not more than a couple years old, you can still use it to fight odors and germs in waste areas or to kill bugs in the garden.

The reason that it stays good for that is because when bleach breaks down, it turns into salt and water. Even if it’s completely degraded, salt still inhibits many bugs and kills others.

Because of its short shelf life, bleach isn’t the ideal stockpiling item because it’s not like spaghetti sauce – you may only use a gallon every few months in everyday life.

Though it’s definitely good to keep around, there are other safer, space-saving options with almost indefinite shelf lives that you can stockpile for water purification.

Note: If you’re storing ammonia for any reason, keep it well away from the bleach. Should a spill happen, you’re looking at toxic gas formation, or even, if enough ammonia is present, an explosive product. It’s a bad idea to blow up your laundry room.

Using Bleach for Water Purification

Bleach can absolutely be used for water purification, but it’s not your best option. We’ve already discussed the issue of short shelf-life, but it’s also not good for you to drink bleach. Yes, if you’re drinking city water, it’s chlorinated, but the maximum amount of chlorine is 4 ppm. That’s a heck of a lot less than 8 drops per gallon. Make sure that your bleach is unscented!

Another reason why you should only use bleach to disinfect your water is that when sodium hypochlorite (bleach) mixes with the organic contaminants in the water, it causes them to oxidize, which create carcinogenic trihalomethanes.

Video first seen on MySurvivalGear.

Boiling is the best option, but if all you have is bleach, then using it is better than drinking contaminated water by a long shot.

Because you have no idea what may be in a pond or a stream after an event, it’s a good idea to have your own water collection and storage systems in place. There are even natural contaminants that can make you sick. That will give you a leg up on your water sanitization needs. We have a few good DIY water collection/filtration ideas here.

Bleach Alternatives

OK, so we’ve determined that bleach may not be the most viable option for long-term storage, so what DOES work? You have a couple of options.

Steramine tablets – are often used in restaurants, daycares and other places that need to sanitize hard surfaces. One tablet sterilizes 1 gallon of water and there’s 150 tablets in a bottle. A case of them on Amazon is about 30 dollars. So, that’s pretty cheap. You can’t use it for drinking water sanitization, though.

Portable filters – for portable water sanitization, there are several different types of portable filters that you can buy (LifeStraw is one example), and you can also carry drinking water sanitization tablets. They’re a bit pricey compared to some other options, but then again, anything “convenient” usually is. The cheapest ones I found on Amazon were about 17 bucks for 100 tablets.

Calcium hypochlorite aka pool shock – this is my favorite drinking water sanitization method. It comes in dry granules and has a shelf-life of 10+ years. The best part? It’s SUPER concentrated – one 1 lb. bag treats 10,000 gallons of water – and it’s just as effective as household bleach for both sanitizing drinking water and sanitization of surfaces.

I wrote an article awhile back that explains how to use pool shock. Oh, and did I mention that you can buy that 1 lb. bag for about 12 bucks? Doesn’t get any cheaper than that. I’m not much on math, but off the top of my head, that’s like 1/10 of a cent per gallon of drinking water. That’s about as close to free as you can get.

Well, we veered a bit away from the original question about how to store bleach in hot climates, but I think that the best answer is, “You don’t have to store bleach at all because there are better alternatives.”

I hope that this information was enough to solve the problem. If any of you have more or better ideas, please share them with us in the comments section below.

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How To Survive Eating Wild Winter Edibles

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Recently, we’ve been asked a question about what types of foods are good sources of carbohydrates in the winter.

The reader was specifically worried about his son, who is going on a military survival retreat in Maine and can’t afford to lose the 20 pounds that the program has warned him that he will likely lose. His question was about sources of carbohydrates.

My son will be sent to Maine in the winter for a 3 week military survival course. Others who have experienced this say that the participants will lose an average of 20 pounds during that time. He can ill afford to lose 20 pounds, so I was wondering if you knew a good source for carbs that can be found in abundance in the winter? I think he is fairly good at locating small game for protein. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
Best regards,

Everett

Though there are many great wild sources of carbohydrates to eat in Maine, I’ve had a problem finding exact nutritional values of wild plants. Go figure. Since the main goal is preventing weight loss, we’re looking for plants that can be found in a great enough quantity to thrive, versus simply survive.

Therefore, we need plants that are both high in calories and found in enough quantity to make a substantial meal. The first part was easy, the second part, not so much. So, I’ll share what I’ve found.

Cattails

It turns out that these plants are considered a pest by many because they grow so prolifically in marshy areas and around ponds.

Fortunately for somebody foraging, cattails are a great source of carbohydrates and nutrients year-round. In the winter time, the best parts of the plant to eat are the rhizomes, or roots, and the corms, the little shoots that are the beginnings of next year’s plants.

You probably won’t be able to just rip the cattail out of the mud; you’re likely going to have to dig for it a bit. Just run your hand down the stalk of the cattail and into the mud. Feel for the roots, then follow them down a bit and PULL!

Don’t stop with just one plant; grab several at a time because they’re not that heavy and you can carry them or store them in camp. No need to get wet more than once if you don’t have to.

Now, you’re going to notice little shoots around the base of the plant, which are older corms and are the beginnings of next year’s plant.

You’ll also find little pod-like pieces on the rhizomes and around the bottom of the stalks. These are less mature corms and are also edible. You can eat both types of corms raw. Just peel off the outer fibrous part and eat the delicate interior.

The rhizomes are going to look sort of hairy. Wash them as well as you can, then peel them just like you would a potato. Your goal is to extract the starch from the rhizome and there are a couple of ways to do this.

You can break up the rhizome and then put it in a small bowl of water and squeeze the rhizome pieces in the water until the starch is remove. The water turns a milky white. Let the water settle for a couple of hours and the heavy, starchy flour will settle to the bottom. Pour off the water and spread the flour out to dry.

The second way is to use your knife to squeeze the starch out onto a rock. Just lay the rhizome flat and slide your knife down the rhizome, sort of like you’re squeezing toothpaste from a tube. The starchy paste will collect on the rock.

Either way, you can let the paste dry and smash it with a mortar and pestle into a flour, or you can toss it in the pan and toast it as-is, toss it into a soup along with the corms, or you can eat it raw.

Of course, you can always make a bread with it by mixing it with other ingredients, but in a survival situation, you’re probably not going to have access to yeast and all that good stuff.

rose-hips

Rose Hips

These pretty berry-like plants not only add a pop of color to the winter landscape, they’re also a good source of nutrition and can be found in enough quantity to be worth the effort. Rose hips are the fruits of the rose plant and are usually red or orange but can also be dark-colored. Just open them up, pop out the seed, and eat the flesh.

One cup of rosehips has 206 calories, 49g of carbs, and 31g of fiber. It also provides 110% of your RDV of vitamin A, 901% of your RDV of vitamin C, and more than 20% of your RDV of calcium and magnesium. Eat more rose hips!

Pine

They’re not just for Christmas anymore! Pine trees provide a couple of different sources of food. If you’ve ever eaten pesto, you’ve eaten pine nuts, which are found in pinecones. There is some work involved for the amount of food that you get, but there’s also a tremendous amount of calories and nutrition in them.

Just one cup of pine nuts has 909 calories, 92 grams of fat, 23% of your RDV of potassium and 84% of your RDA of magnesium. They’re also a good source of fiber, so that you have a slower digestion process. You’ll feel full longer.

All pine trees have edible nuts tucked into the pine cones, but only about 20 species produce seeds that are large enough to warrant the effort. Still, in a survival situation, something is better than nothing. Fortunately, there are often many different types of pine trees in the same area, so if you don’t get decent-sized nuts from one, try another.

Wild Berries and Fruits

Even if there’s snow, it’s still possible to dig through the snow to get to fruits, and if you’re lucky, you may even find some grapes or berries, especially cranberries in Maine, above the snow.

One of the advantages of having thumbs is that you can dig through the snow a bit if you find a bush to see if there are berries buried. Apples are another great resource that you can find under the snow.

Yes, they’ll be frozen, but they’re delicious, nutritious, and packed with carbs. They also drop late, so it’s probable that they were frozen before they rotted. Other fruits to keep an eye out for include peaches and pears.

Grass and Grains

Believe it or not, most (99%) of all grasses in the US are edible. They’re often tough for your body to digest, but they’re better than nothing. This includes wheat, oats, and wild meadow varieties. The best part to eat in the winter is the starchy base and the seed heads.

1% of the seeds are toxic and need to be cooked before being eaten, and if seeds are blackish or purple, avoid them because that’s a sign of poisonous fungus. Eat them if they’re green or brown.

I often consult a man very close to me when I have questions such as these, because he’s actually been there, done that as part of his army survivalist training. He made it all the way through the training and has described in great detail (and to my dismay) exactly what a bug feels like when you eat it. He says the trick is this – crunch (chew), crunch, crunch, crunch, swallow!

Aside from his advice about how to eat a bug with minimal “biting back”, he also says that the most crucial step to survival is knowing the plants, animals, and insects of your area. Know what’s edible and what’s not, and most importantly, know what will kill you if you eat it.

If you have a problem with being too thin, it’s important to realize that your body uses more than just carbohydrates for energy – it can also use protein and fat. The bottom line is that your weight isn’t dependent upon eating carbs. It’s a matter of calories in versus calories out. It doesn’t matter if those calories are in the form of carbs, fat, or protein.

There will likely be some energy dips while you’re transitioning from carbs to protein, so if you’re planning to use protein as your main source of energy during a retreat, you may want to do that before you leave. In real life, of course, you won’t have that luxury, but until then, do what you can to survive the survival training.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Help – It’s Illegal to Live Off-Grid!

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Living Off-grid illegal

It seems like every politician spouts rhetoric about how they support sustainability and promote the use of clean energy, but it’s mostly bunk. In fact, it’s illegal in some states, such as Florida, to live off the power grid.

Even if you have enough solar or wind juice to run indefinitely, you are still required by law to be connected to the power grid and to pay your electric bill, even if you don’t use a single iota of power from the utilities company.

Your home must also be attached to an approved sewer and a clean supply of water, but this is often fairly easy to work around. It’s the power that gets you.

Now, just to be clear, it’s not illegal to power your house with solar panels or use your own water filtration system or composting toilets; it’s just that you still have to pay the money to Big Utilities, too. Any way that you look at it, it rubs. At best, you’re paying money you don’t need to spend. At worst, you’re chained to the electricity grid whether you want to be or not.

We’ve recently had a question asked of us by one of you, dear readers:

How can you live off the grid if it’s illegal in Florida? Can you homestead and still go unnoticed? How can you do it and still stay safe?

I have an answer to these questions, but they’re not exactly ideal. First, do your thing. If you want to run your house off of solar panels, then by all means, do so!

If you want to use rainwater and a filtration system to meet your water needs? OK, what are you waiting for?

Just Because You Are Connected, Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It

The laws only say that you have to be connected; not that you have to use it. For the most part, there’s no reason that you can’t homestead if you live in a state that requires this. Yes, it’s true that you’re not allowed to have a permanent dwelling that isn’t attached to the grid, and many city regulations disallow the ownership of livestock in city limits.

Right now, unless you’re willing to buck the system (I believe somebody should), you’re just going to have to suck it up and do it, as long as you want to live on the right side of the law. You can always have the electricity connected, then not pay the bill, but if you do, it’s legal for them to revoke your certificate of occupancy.

In essence, these regulations are simply devices used to protect Big Utilities under the guise of consumer protection. As usual, they know better than you what’s best for you.

Unfortunately, there was a case a few years ago that was used over and over again to support this fact, but the bottom line is that I lived in that city at that exact time, and it wasn’t her right to live off-grid that was what got her shut down.

You have to live in a manner that promotes health and well-being. In other words, you have to have clean water and you can’t just dump your sewer down the drain, which is what was going on in that situation.

But some misguided, misinformed people got ahold of pieces of information and ran with it before they had the whole story. It didn’t do anything to help the cause other than just make people look dumb by those who know what really went down.

Still, it’s true that, by law, you have to be hooked to power and have a clean supply of water and a sanitary waste disposal method if you follow the rules in Florida.

Now that you know that you basically have no legal rights when it comes to refusing public utilities, let’s look at what you can do within the scope of the law. You always have the option of saying the hell with the laws, but do that at your risk.

Living off the grid

Trust me – if you do decide to go off-grid in Florida, or anywhere else you aren’t allowed to free yourself of the strong-arming, you won’t be alone. Many people in Florida live successfully off the grid – they just do it right so that they don’t get caught. They don’t go pouring their waste down public sewers.

My advice? Keep your house hooked up, but have your off-grid methods in use. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t use them because you can. Unfortunately, you’ll still have a nominal bill for the pleasure of looking at the wiring at the end of the month, but you won’t have the same expense as if you’d use it.

I’m not going to say “living off-grid” because that’s not legal, but you can certainly live independently and sustainably.

If you have property that’s out of the way and you’ve decided to say to hell with the law and do as you please, you may want to build an outhouse, collect rainwater and filter it properly to meet your drinking, cooking, and hygiene needs, and find a way to stay cool or warm. Many choose solar panels to meet that need.

One Step Further

The next thing that you need to do in order to successfully live off-grid is to fight the laws that restrict you.

For example, there’s a proposed Amendment to our constitution that supposedly advances the use of solar power, but in reality, it’s setting the Big Utilities up to continue their monopoly on power in our state. Start by voting NO on 1, and on any other proposed law changes that take more of our rights and give more power to the government or Big Utilities/Pharma.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that you own your life. If you want to live off the grid completely and risk getting caught, then do so. If you want to work within the parameters of the law and pay a few bucks per month for utilities that you don’t use, then go for it.

Regardless of what decision you make, make it for the best interest of yourself and those you love, because it’s a sure bet that you’re the only one who will.

There will come a time when you will face severe environments without power, water, fuel or means to buy food. The only way to survive is to learn how to live independently and sustainably.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Survive With Kids In Small Spaces

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Survive with kids

If you and your family are stranded in a small space or hidden shelter, you’ll need to have a plan to keep your kids entertained. Otherwise you’ll all end up on each other’s nerves and the already serious situation can quickly become much worse.

It’s essential to be as prepared as possible, so take time now to integrate some of these ideas. That way they don’t seem as strange to your children.

If you have a shelter or panic room already in place, practice spending time there. That way your kids aren’t dealing with both a brand new environment and a crisis.

Don’t Leave Your Kid in the Dark

If you’re in hiding, the kids are going to figure it out. Do them a favor, and tell them the truth. You don’t have to get into all the details, but definitely talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way.

Share what’s going on and what you have to do. That way your kids know your expectations and you can work as a team to survive.

Kids are perceptive, and will often pick up on emotions they’re parents are exhibiting. Taking time to talk about the situation will help ease their fears. They’ll know what they need to do, and most of the time kids rise to meet our expectations.

Have a Variety of Activities on Hand

You won’t be able to bring much into small quarters, but by being prepared you’ll make your shelter more enjoyable for everyone.

The age of your kids will definitely impact the activities you plan. Here are some ideas that’ll work for a large range of ages. Of course you know your kids best, so be sure to pick somethings you know they’ll enjoy.

Games

Surviving with children

Having a variety of games on hands is great, but if space is tight you probably won’t have that luxury. The good news is with a little creative thinking you can create your own games with some basic items.

Games are a fun way to keep the family engaged. You’ll help distract your kids from what’s going on. Games are also relatively quiet activities, which helps if you need to stay hidden.

Here are some things to keep on hand for game time:

  • A deck of cards
  • A couple of card games that don’t take up much space such as
    • Tell Me a Story
    • Uno
    • FastWord
    • SkipBo
    • Phase 10
  • A couple of dice
  • A pack of index cards and a marker or two

With these items, you can create hours of entertainment. A plain deck of cards gives you everything you need for dozens of games. Here are ten popular games that are easy for kids to pick up.

  1. Solitaire
  2. Speed
  3. SlapJack
  4. 21
  5. King’s Corner
  6. Crazy 8s
  7. War
  8. Snap
  9. Golf
  10. BS

If you start learning one of these games a week as a family, you’ll build great memories now. You’ll also be familiar with them in the event of a crisis. Then playing cards will seem familiar instead of like a foreign activity.

In addition to playing the card games according to the traditional rules, you can experiment with adding rules or changing game play completely. With the boxed card games, you’ll have plenty of variety to create your own family favorites.

For instance, you can use SkipBo cards to play Go Fish. You can hide all of the wild cards from the Uno deck and have your kids go find them. The letters from FastWord can be used to see who can build the longest and shortest words.

You can use the dice to learn about probability, to roll for a treat, or to create new games. The index cards and marker will give you everything you need to create customized cards. Perhaps you’ll write words on them and use them to play Charades or Pictionary.

The possibilities are endless!

Pen & Paper Games

With a stack of paper and a pen, you can create a variety of games. Like the card games, take time to learn these now. That way you’re all set if you need them. Here are five favorite pen and paper games for kids:

  1. Hangman
  2. The Dot Game (where you try to make boxes out of dots by drawing lines one at a time)
  3. Tic-Tac-Toe
  4. Categories (everyone writes down a word from a named category)
  5. MadLibs (write a story but leave some words blank. Then have your child name a color, a noun, a number word, etc. to fill in the blanks.)

Games with No Materials

If you didn’t have time to grab any supplies, or you just need some fresh ideas, these games are perfect. They don’t require any materials.

1. Guess Who

One person secretly selects a character or person. The other players take turns asking yes or no questions to figure out who the mystery character is. You can ask:

  • Are you a female?
  • Are you in a TV show?
  • Do you wear fancy shoes?
  • Are you a real person?
  • Have we ever met you?

And all sorts of other questions. Once someone guesses the identify correctly, another player takes a turn. This game can keep everyone entertained for hours.

2. The Alphabet Challenge

Work together to name an object from a given category that starts with each letter of the alphabet. You can try to name:

  • Animals
  • Food
  • Vehicles
  • Boy Names
  • Girl Names
  • Verbs

You can decide in advance that you’ll skip a given letter if no one can think of an answer. That way you don’t get discouraged.

3. Math Drill

You can take turns giving math problems to each other. They’ll help keep your brain sharp. For younger kids you can ask them to count to a certain number. Older kids and adults can tackle multiplication or division questions, or problems with multiple steps.

4. I Spy

This classic is a great game for young kids. One person secretly picks an object in the room and then says, “I spy with my little eye something…..” and says the color of the object.

Everyone else takes turns guessing what the mystery object is.

White Boards

Since space will be tight, you won’t be able to bring an arsenal of art supplies. But, a small white board and a couple of markers for each child will help. Remember to throw in an old sock to use as an eraser.

On the boards you can have your kids:

  • Draw
  • Practice writing their letters or words
  • Write a short story
  • Practice math facts
  • Play any of the pen and paper games

They’re can be used individually, which makes them an ideal silent activity. If you’re able, you can have your kids take turns sharing what they worked on. That’ll help them feel connected.

Books

Kids Activities While you can’t fit your whole library into your survival space, you can select a couple of books to bring.

You can either select read alouds or family favorites, or bring a couple of each.

If you bring enough books for everyone to have one, you can implement a daily reading time.

If you’re reading aloud, you can encourage your kids to draw something from the story on their white boards. Keeping their hands engaged will help them listen and stay quiet while you read.

Depending on your situation, you might have your kids act out a part of the story. Bringing books to life is a fun way to pass the time.

Simply talking about what you’re reading will encourage reading comprehension. After all, you don’t want to stop learning while you’re in your shelter. These discussions will also help draw you closer as a family.

Simple Sewing or Needlework

A needle and thread along with some scrap fabric is all you need to help your kids learn a new skill. They can practice sewing squares and then take the seams out and try again.

This Survivopedia post shares how to recycle an old pill bottle into a sewing kit. That doesn’t take up much space.

If you bring some yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks, you can teach your child a skill that’ll help keep them quiet and engaged. They’ll be able to practice, and can always undo what they’ve created and make something new.

A Family Journal

When the crisis passes, you’re going to want to remember some events and feelings from your time in your survival shelter. Keeping a simple spiral notebook and a pen around can help preserve these memories.

Encourage everyone to write in the journal regularly. Your younger kids can draw a picture about how they’re feeling or what they did. Writing is therapeutic for many people. This process might help provide your children with an outlet to share the thoughts they’re having.

Fun Distractions

kids activities

There will be times when everyone just needs to hit the reset button. When the kids are fighting and everyone’s temper is short, it’ll help to have a few fun distractions to bring out.

You shouldn’t use these things regularly, but instead save them for when they’re needed most. You can pick up most of these items at the Dollar Store or around the house, so you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money on them.

  • Glow sticks
  • Stickers
  • A pack of bubbles
  • A coloring book to rip pages out of
  • A sheet and some clothespins to create a fort
  • A new game
  • A puzzle book like Crosswords or Word Searches
  • A toy car

Once everyone’s mood is lifted, you can put the special items away for another day.

Encourage Activity

Sitting for extended periods of time is rough on the human body. Break up your positioning if possible. Roll a die and see how many jumping jacks everyone should do. See who can do the most sit-ups in 1 minute. Take time to do this several times throughout the day.

You’ll help improve blood flow, and will help keep your muscles from getting stiff.

Food

Of course you’ll need food in your survival space. If at all possible, ensure it is food that your family is used to eating. You don’t need any battles in your tight quarters.

In addition to your food reserves, you’ll want to have a few treats on hand. These can be pulled out to boost morale, to use as bribery in the event of immediate danger, or simply as a reward for something.

These foods make good treats for kids, and the adults:

  • Candy
  • Chocolate chips
  • Raisins
  • Small crackers
  • Dried cereal with fun shapes or marshmallows
  • Fruit snacks

While these aren’t the most nutritious foods, they can help provide a sense of normalcy to your children.  They’ll also help break up the routine of survival food and feel even more special.

Water

Be sure your survival space has plenty of water on hand. You’ll need water for drinking, and also for hygiene purposes. You don’t want to run out of water!

A Place to Relieve Oneself

Kids have to use the bathroom, just like adults. Be sure you’ve thought through how this will work in your survival shelter. You’ll need a way to dispose of your human waste.

If you have babies, you’ll need diapers and wipes on hand. You can use cloth diapers and wipes if you have enough water to keep them clean.

You’ll also want to have toilet paper or substitutes on hand. Also bring along a bottle of hand sanitizer to help keep germs from spreading.

If you’re able to hang a sheet or something around your bathroom area, it’ll help add a sense of privacy to your shelter.

Give Your Kids Jobs

Kids love to feel useful. In a tight space, there might not be much that needs done. But, any job you can give your kid will help them realize that they are playing an important role in your family’s survival. You might be able to ask them to:

  • Dry dishes
  • Entertain the baby
  • Pick up the trash
  • Organize the supplies
  • Count the different items to help you take inventory
  • Dust

These jobs might not seem critical, but they’ll help your children embrace the situation.

Your Attitude Matters!

Your kids will know how your feeling. If you’re getting sick of being in the tight space, they’re going to pick up on that attitude and amplify it.

Even if it’s hard, try to have a good attitude for the sake of your kids. Look at it as an exciting adventure. Be cheerful about the activities you’ll do.

A little bit of enthusiasm on your part will do wonders in helping the family survive this tough time. This is especially true if the crisis lasts for an extended period of time.

What Ideas Can You Add?

Keeping kids entertained in tight spaces can be challenging, but it’s definitely possible! What ideas can you add to this list? Please share them in the comments section so everyone can have a solid list remember if they ever need it.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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7 Bartering Rules To Write In Stone

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Bartering Rules

In old times, people were exchanging goods, today we barter with paper money issued by the government. Whether people realize it or not, the bartering system is still alive and well. We do it every single day, when we go to the grocery store, the gas station, and when we pay the rent.

In a SHTF-type of scenario, paper money is completely and utterly useless. If you think that having a pig pile of supply will save you, think twice! You’ll still need to be able to barter with other survivors to get the supplies you and to survive.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to bartering with other survivors in a SHTF situation. Keep in mind that your life may depend on your ability to barter and acquire food and other supplies, so take these to heart.

Do I Really Need to Know How to Barter?

In case you aren’t familiar with the barter system, it’s pretty easy to understand. It can be defined simply as the exchange of goods or services between two people. For example, if you needed your car repaired, you would go to a mechanic who would require some form of payment in exchange for his services to fix up your automobile.

Most people today feel safe and sound in the current government issued currency situation, and don’t believe that anything is going to happen to upset things. However, all one needs to do is look at what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. People were stuck without any access to funds or outside help, so they were strictly on their own for survival.

For a barter economy to take over, we have to assume a major disaster; something that is serious enough that people aren’t confident in the government’s ability to back the value of the dollar.

Most disasters, such as natural disasters, martial law or civil war, won’t create a situation where a barter economy is needed. People will still use cash for their transactions, as long as they have cash to use. They will only resort to barter when they are out of cash.

That paints us a pretty ugly picture, one in which much of what we depend on to survive is lost. But that’s the ideal situation for those of us who are prepared and who have taken the time to learn the necessary skills to survive. We can take care of the opportunity to trade our skills for what others may have that we can use.

So, what sorts of skills will be useful for bartering in that time?

  • General survival skills – If power is down, something as simple as starting a fire or purifying water will be a valuable skill as many won’t know how to do those things.
  • Medical skills – Medical skills of all kinds will be in high demand, as normal medical services will be overrun. Sickness and accidents will increase, making these skills highly valuable.
  • Midwifery – Midwives will take over from medical doctors for most childbirths. The difficulty of getting to a doctor will make this necessary.
  • Gardening – Yes, something as simple as gardening will be valuable, as there won’t be enough food. Your vegetable garden will become very valuable. Being able to help your neighbors start their own gardens, which would mean having seeds for them to use as well, could be the key skill to build a neighborhood survival team, with you as the leader.
  • Animal husbandry – For the very same reason that gardening will be valuable, being able to raise livestock to feed yourself will become valuable.
  • Any sort of repair skills – With the loss of electricity or a market, products will become unavailable. People will need to keep what they have, getting it repaired if it breaks. This includes anything from repairing small appliances to vehicles and heavy machinery.
  • Small engine repair – Most mechanics are somewhat baffled when faced by small engines. But there will be a greater need to repair power tools, than cars.
  • Mechanics – When the economy is in trouble, people don’t replace their cars. They have them repaired and keep using them longer.
  • Building trades – While there won’t be as much demand for this as some of the other skills I’m mentioning, rebuilding society will require the ability to build new buildings or more likely, rebuild existing buildings to accomplish new purposes.
  • Blacksmithing – In olden times, the blacksmith was the local hardware store, tool manufacturer and general repair man. As people adjust to the new lifestyle, we will see a need for those skills resurface.
  • Practical engineering – From communications to pumping water, a host of infrastructure will need to be created, for those who survive. If the current communications network is destroyed by an EMP, some sort of communications will be needed for local governance and defense.
  • Clergy – Many people will have a struggle with adjusting to their new lifestyle. Clergy and other counselors will be needed for those who can’t make the transition on their own. Clergy will also be needed for the functions of baptisms, weddings and funerals.
  • Military – With any sort of breakdown of society, there is an increase in lawlessness. Some will gather together, forming gangs to prey on others and steal the necessities of life. If you can’t defend yourself or your neighborhood can’t defend itself, then you’ll become victims.

Determining the actual value of your skills will be challenging. It’s challenging enough trying to figure out the value of goods and services in normal times; in those decidedly abnormal times, it will be much harder to calculate.

Basically, we’re talking about the law of supply and demand here. If there’s a lot of clean water available, then purifying water isn’t going to be all that valuable. But if the city water supply is known to be contaminated, that same water will go up extensively.

Which Items Are Absolutely Essential?

The type of items you need to make it through a SHTF situation can be broken down into two groups. The first group is made up of items you absolutely must have in order to live. The second group is creature comforts.

Two things you must have in order to survive are food and water. These two are your number one priority. Since you need these items to live, that means others do too. If you have livestock and crops, these can be as good as gold in a bartering situation. By trading food and water you can almost guarantee you will get whatever you need from someone looking to trade. Make sure that you have a way to replenish your supply before you begin to trade these items, otherwise you will be in big trouble.

Another important group of items you will need is camping and hunting gear. Hunting will be one of your main sources of getting high protein food to eat and sustain your strength. Any item that can be used to survive away from urban areas will be great for trading with other people. Be sure to visit local hunting and outdoors shops and stock up on supplies when they are putting items on sale. This will make sure that when things go south, you will have “currency” to trade with those who don’t have the means of hunting or finding suitable lodging.

Creature comforts make the second group of items both to barter with and for are comfort items. These are items that aren’t necessary to sustain life, but they do make things more comfortable, and a little less dark.

Hygienic supplies like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper are some of the best supplies to trade with. Staying clean is incredibly important to your health and safety. In a SHTF situation, a cut or scrape that gets infected could lead to death. Stock up on soap and toothpaste and you will have commodities that everyone needs, making you “wealthy” in this type of world.

Another comfort item that is good for barter is alcohol. People love their booze, even in a world that’s fallen completely apart. You will be surprised at the great lengths individuals will go to in order to get a cup of moonshine.

Video first seen on 7 TRUMPETS PREPPER.

7 Tips to Know for Bartering Safely

The value of everything will shift during that time period. Today, we value gold, silver and jewels. Those may retain value, but they won’t be very easy to barter. That’s because they won’t be useful for survival. The only people who would be interested in trading for gold and silver will be people who have enough excess that they don’t need to have in order to survive.

1. Be selective

While you might be thinking that a silver teapot isn’t worth as much as a ham, you have to realize that you’re thinking from the viewpoint of someone living in normal times, where food is plentiful. But that teapot won’t help you survive, while the ham will. When there is a serious food shortage, you might be willing to make that trade too.

2. Be fair

Try to be fair as much as possible. I know that some people would say to take advantage of the situation and get as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean you should. The problem with that is that you may just succeed in making an enemy. The best deals are those where both parties walk away from it feeling as if they won. A win-win is an especially big win for you.

3. Control your emotions

If you are bartering with someone, it’s like playing a game of poker. You don’t want to give away too much information in your body language or facial expressions. Keep a straight face! Do not let the other person see that you are in desperate need of the items they have. If someone sees that you need something badly, the price of the exchange will go up.

4. Don’t make yourself a target

Always ask the individual you are bartering with what type of items they are looking for. You do not want to show off your entire inventory to someone you don’t know. Start with the items that are of lesser value and work your way up to the valuable ones. Showing off the best you have first could cause you to be harmed by someone who is desperate for that item.

5. Don’t trade with weapons at first

Avoid trading with weapons at first. While items like guns and ammunition can be extremely valuable in survival situations, they can also be deadly. Trading with someone you don’t know well could lead to someone taking the weapon and using it on you. At that point they will also have access to your entire inventory, leaving you with nothing.

6. Make sure your deal is worked out

Always make sure that your “deal” is worked out before you start working. That way, there won’t be any surprises later. Granted, they could still refuse to pay, but at least they won’t be able to claim that it’s because they didn’t think it would be that much. Often, if people aren’t planning on paying, they will act disinterested in the negotiating process and look for an opportunity to take advantage; don’t allow them that.

7. Bring a friend

Speaking of taking advantage; it’s never safe to make a deal alone. You should always have someone there to protect you, preferably behind the people you are talking to. That way, if things turn sour, you have someone positioned to take them out, before they can take you out.

While no one wants to have a situation like this occur, the reality is that we never know what is going to happen day to day. It is better to learn these skills and be prepared, so that if that day comes, you aren’t the desperate one roaming around for the basics of life.

Stay well supplied and stocked with the materials mentioned above, and you will be well ahead of the curve when the SHTF. Remember to keep things simple, as our ancestors did. In fact, barter is one of the skills that we have to re-learn from them!

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This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: Ultimate Survival Tips

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Ultimate survival tips

As preppers, not a day goes by without learning something new, isn’t it?

Even if you have just started prepping or you have years of experience behind, you still have to prepare for different survival situations. Thus, you have to develop certain skills, and a certain attitude, but also learn from your others’ experiences.

These days we stumbled upon some great articles on survival tips. We are eager to hear more from you about this topic so feel free to drop a line in the comment section below.

  1. Lessons Learned After Six Years Of Prepping

 

hits-and-misses-lessons-learned-after-six-years-of-prepping

“As someone who has been prepping for six years, I have learned a lot along the way. During these six years, my survival skills, food and water storage, and general knowledge have grown exponentially to the point where I have grown comfortable, if not complacent, with my preps.

Alas, the world has changed a lot since 2010. Things I prepared for on day one are now far less important in the big scheme of things than the things I prepare for today.  Things I prepare for today are more far-reaching than issues associated with geographic isolation, the next big earthquake, or a regional food shortage.  What I now prepare for is a Venezuela-type economic melt-down, or a Cyprus-like seizure of bank assets and depositor bail-in.  I also prepare for an extended power outage lasting a year or longer.”

Read more on Backdoor Survival.

  1. How to Use You Smartphone As a Survival Tool

Phone survival tool

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

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

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

Read more on Off The Grid News.

  1. What Emergency Fuels To Store For Survival

Emergency fuels

“My favorite emergency fuels to store for survival is one of my favorite topics to talk about, just so you know. I have a small yard, so I am not able to store as much as someone with a large piece of property. If I had a large parcel of land I would have a large truckload of my favorite charcoal/coal delivered. (I do not own a truck). I purchased several red five-gallon buckets with red Gamma lids to store my Ozark Oak hardwood charcoal. The reason I chose to purchase this brand is because I read about the chemicals in the barbecue charcoal briquettes you buy at the grocery stores or large box stores. I am not a scientist, but I will give you some tips that I have researched.”

Read more on Food Storage Moms.

  1. How To Build A Fire For Primitive Survival

How To Build A Fire

“At 1:20 am on February 20, 1997, on the floor of my small bedroom I began my nightly firemaking ritual, holding my bow drill in my left hand, and moving it back and forth feverishly until I ran out of energy completely. In front of me, lay a pile of smoldering ashes.

The ashes smoldered as they had done many times before when I had tried to build a fire. There was something different about this pile, however. It kept smoking.

Could it be?

I looked closer at the pile and, sure enough, a coal about the size of my pinky fingernail rested at its bottom. I had never seen this before!

I carefully picked up the piece of aluminum the coal rested on, and tipped the coal on my tinder pile, which consisted of dry cedar bark. I blew on the coal in the pile.

Poof – I had fire.”

Read more on ExxoGear.

  1. The Ultimate Collection Of Kickass Survival Ideas

Survival ideas

“If you are reading this, then chances are you have done some prepping already. If you are just getting started, then you can read about basic preps and bugging in vs. bugging out. The focus of this article is prepping ideas that go beyond the basics.

When I was thinking about how to approach this topic, it occurred to me that the best way to look at it is this—if you already have some prepping under your belt, then you probably have your food and water stores and medical supplies set up. You have decided whether you are bugging in orbugging out. You have learned a few basic skills to help with your survival. You might even have some weapons training under your belt.

But what comes next? There is never an end to prepping, and once you have the basics down, you need to move on to more advanced prepping and that means taking the basics and making them better! Here is a collection of kick-ass prepping ideas that cover a number of prepping categories. You can choose the ideas you like the best and implement them to help bolster your preps.”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

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9 Myths About Surviving On A Budget Debunked

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Surviving on a budget

While it’s true that you can certainly build a stockpile, and even a bug out destination, inexpensively if you’re resourceful, there are some myths out there about surviving on the cheap that I really have to debunk.

I Can Live on Less Food and Water

This is absolutely not the way to go. As a matter of fact, if you have to run, survive without heat or air conditioning, or expend any more energy than you are now, you may need even more calories than you’re surviving on now in order to maintain and survive. Even stress burns calories.

Store enough for at least 1500 calories per day if you’re a woman and 2000 calories per day if you’re a man. Cutting back on calories is not the way to go if you’re prepping on a budget.

I Can Live on Cheap Foods

Though this is true, cheap foods tend to be low-nutrient, high-carb, high-trans-fat foods that will not only NOT sustain you but will actually make you sick. Buying inexpensive food may be necessary to accommodate your budget, but there are ways to stockpile healthy foods for the same amount of money, or even less, than what you’d spend on garbage.

Couponing is an excellent way to get healthy food on a budget. Many grocery stores offer BOGO sales that, when combined with coupons, can result in huge savings. If you find a really good deal, buy a couple of extra to add to your stockpile.

Regardless of whether you’re living day to day in the world as you know it or in a post-collapse scenario, you need to eat a variety of nutritious foods.

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Expiration Dates Don’t Matter

This is only partially right. Law requires that all foods have an expiration date, so many products that may be good for a decade or longer may have an expiration date of tomorrow. Much of this depends upon how the food is stored.

If it’s canned in glass or steel containers, the expiration date isn’t so important. If it’s preserved in plastic or paper, then the expiration date is likely closer to accurate. Another consideration is whether or not the food is preserved in an air-tight container. If so, the shelf life is extended considerably.

Gardens Equal Free Food

No. They don’t. Seeds cost money and so do plants. There’s also value in your time, and you’ll be investing quite a bit of that. You’ll also need to invest in or create fertilizer and natural or chemical pesticides. After the plants have grown, you’ll need to buy jars to can them, along with canning equipment if you don’t already have what you need.

Gardening is certainly cheaper in the long run than buying either canned food or fresh produce to can yourself, but it’s not without expense. The biggest advantage is that you know exactly what’s in your food. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a good article about the most nutritious, basic foods to start your garden.

I Can Build It Cheaper Than That

As a prepper, this is a great mentality to have, but if you don’t have at least a drip or two of the skills and knowledge required to complete the task, then you’re better off saving up, buying used, or asking for help.

While it’s true that many commercial items can be recreated (and often improved upon) by somebody who knows what they’re doing, that doesn’t mean that anybody could, or should, do it all the time.

For instance, I can most definitely build my own shed and save a ton of money by using upcycled and scrap materials, but I’m not going to build and install solar panels because I have absolutely no experience in that area, and it would be a dangerous waste of money for me to do so. It’s better to spend the money to buy them and pay somebody to install them.

I also wouldn’t use old, lead-paned windows in my building no matter how cheap they were because they’re a hazard and they wouldn’t hold up to hardly any stress. Would I rather find double-paned, safety-rated windows used or on clearance? Yes, and that’s likely what I’d do, but I would still pay the extra for the quality.

There’s a huge difference between saving money and cutting corners. To get an idea for some DIY projects to get you started, check out our current DIY page.

You Can Build a Bunker from a Shipping Container

I’m not sure where this one got started (probably from a movie or from somebody who was thinking with the mentality described in the last few paragraphs) but it’s not entirely true.

Shipping containers are built to be stacked and lined up together. That means that they’re reinforced around the edges and corners. If you put them in a hole and cover them with dirt as they are, the tops and sides will collapse.

We do have several ideas for building bunkers on a budget. Here is an article to get you started.

I Can Live off the Land

Doubtful, unless your land is lush with ripe berries, fruit trees, fresh vegetables and animals that will stand still and let you eat them. And that’s assuming you have the stuff to cut your firewood, skin the animal, build the fire, and complete the cooking process.

Oh, and do you like unseasoned meat? I hope so, because meat doesn’t come seasoned on the carcass, which is how you’ll have to eat if you’re living off the land.

Instead of picturing yourself in a Rambo scene, roasting a rabbit over a spit, you should probably picture something more along the lines picking up rocks and eating bugs. Seriously. You may need to check out our survival hacks article.

Even the most highly trained military personnel will tell you how difficult could be to live off the land, and they’ll also tell you that they might not do it again by choice. As a matter of fact, if you’re a former (or current) seasoned member of our military, please feel free to chime in about this in the comments section below.

I Have to Spend Money on a Bug Out Spot

No, you don’t. As a matter of fact, chances are good that if something catastrophic were to happen, you wouldn’t be able to get to it, anyway. Even if you do need to leave your home, you’re better off if you have limited resources to plan to stay with family or friends if you need to leave.

If you’re trying to prep on a budget, your money is better spent on stockpiling, upgrading your house if you own it, or saving your money to buy your own house so that you’ll own your own bug in home. Here’s a good list to help you prioritize.

I’m Only Prepping for Me

I know that there is a good portion of people out there who follow the construct that every man is an island, but I don’t happen to believe that. Many hands make light work and, especially if you have limited resources and funds, networking may be your best friend.

There are very few disasters that would actually cause as societal collapse, and even if that occurred, new societies would develop. Having a like-minded, prepared group of people ready to face disaster with you is much better than doing it alone.

I’m not saying that you should shout it to the heavens that you’re prepping for disaster, but I am saying that you may want to get a feel for your neighbors and pack back some extra ramen and vegetables for them just in case. After all, it’s cheap and extra food is always good – you can trade it or share it.

Prepping on the cheap isn’t that difficult, though it may certainly take you a bit longer than if you were rich. However, there may be some benefit to having to work harder for it; you’ll learn how to do things for yourself and you’ll develop an appreciation for what goes into the process. There are also a lot of survival secrets to learn from out ancestors, so click the banner below to find out more about them!

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Because we’re naturally people who love to save money and find better ways to do things, I’m sure that there are many of you who have more to add to this article. Please do so in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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7 Mouth-watering Recipes To Cook In The Sun

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Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Just remember there are some big differences between the different types of solar ovens available on the market.

With just a little practice, cooking on a solar oven is a piece of cake, and these seven recipes are exactly what you’ll need to prepare a good meal.

And if you’re wondering how could I proceed all these mouth-watering recipes without a proper oven, keep reading the article below, because we have a great offer up for grabs!

Follow These 10 Advice for the Best Solar Oven Cooking!

Since there are so many variations of solar ovens, it’s hard to set any hard and fast rules but there are some dos and don’ts that are applicable to pretty much all of them.

Don’t Assume you’re Invisible

One of the reasons that solar ovens are good is because they’re smokeless; they operate solely off the power of the sun. However, most ovens depend on a shiny surface to reflect the sun to cook the food (think 80s-style tanning with the silver tray under your face).

This means that you have a reflective surface that is easily seen from up to miles away depending upon how flat your geography is. Though there won’t be smoke, there will be shiny, so make sure that if you’re using your oven and trying to hide that you are completely surrounded in such a manner that it can’t be seen from a hilltop or anywhere else.

You won’t be able to do much about planes and you can’t (generally) use it in the dark, but you may be able to position it in such a way that you can use it without giving away your location. Just plan carefully.

 

Don’t be in a Hurry and Start Early

Many solar ovens don’t get super-hot, so you’re going to need to allow plenty of time to warm it up and then more extra time to cook. Food will likely take longer to cook in a solar oven, though that won’t always be the case.

If you’re planning a meal such as beans or stew that takes hours to cook, you need to start the meal early. Remember that you can’t typically use your solar oven after dusk because, well, it’s powered by the sun.

 

 

weather-for-cooking

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Remember, you’re counting on the sun. If it’s raining, you better have back-up rations if solar cooking is your only heat source. As a matter of fact, let’s make that a subsection here: Always have a backup cooking method.

If it’s smoggy or hazy, your food won’t cook as quickly and you’ll have to pay closer attention to make sure that your oven is pointed in the right direction.

Don’t Waste Food or Heat

Don’t waste food scraps or that precious heat – if you’re cooking supper tonight and planning a soup for tomorrow, use the leftover veggie and meat scraps to make a stock for tomorrow’s soups.

Put them in a jar or two, add salt or some vinegar or wine to pull the calcium out of the bones and into your stock, season it and toss it on the cooker

Don’t Forget to Level Your Oven

You’ve bought a super fancy oven, and you’re all excited to give it a shot. It’s set up and ready to go and you’re going to try something quick and easy – cookies.

You warm up your oven, you mix up your dough, you place the cookies on the sheet and slide it into the oven. Now all you have to do is wait, and you’re going to have ooey, gooey, deliciously crispy cookies.

You come back 20 minutes later and you have long, oval, thin cookies, which are crispy and delicious, but ugly as a mud fence in a rain storm because you forgot to level your oven. Now, the end result here is just ugly cookies, but if you were cooking cornbread or a pie, you would have had a mess on your hands.

So, the moral of the crooked cookie story is this: Level your solar oven!

Do Turn Your Cooker

Especially if you’re using a box cooker, it’s important that you turn it as you cook in order to increase efficiency. This isn’t as important if you’re cooking something quickly but if you’re cooking for longer periods of times (more than an hour), you definitely want to turn your solar oven in order to get the most out of it.

If you have to be away from your cooker for more than an hour or so and your food is going to take a few hours, point it to where it the sun will be directly on it in an hour and a half or so. As with all things survival and homesteading related, use your head and adapt to how long you’re going to be away.

Do Cook in Black Pans

Because you’re using reflection to direct your heat, it only makes sense that you use a non-reflective, heat-absorbing cooking vessel. A thin, black metal is best because it’s lightweight and dark colored. Cast iron is also good for a couple of reasons. First, it’s black and absorbs heat. Second, the iron holds heat for a long time.

As a matter of fact, even when I’m making cakes or cornbread in my iron skillet in a regular oven, I take it out a few minutes before it’s completely done because it holds so much heat that it keeps cooking for several minutes after the heat source is eliminated. The downside to iron skillets is that they’re heavy.

If you can’t use black cookware, use glass. Using aluminum or stainless steel is counterproductive. Never cover your food with foil.

Add Reflective Panels to Cook While You Bake

If you really want to crank up the temperature to fry foods, add additional reflectors that reflect the sun directly onto the food as well as the ones used to heat the oven. Elevate a shallow pan so that it touches the glass, then attach the three-panel reflector to aim the extra light onto your food. You can even do this while baking other products inside the rest of the oven.

Build Your Oven According to Your Needs

If you’re still experimenting with solar cooking, get the function down before you worry about a solid, permanent form. Also, if you just want to cook for yourself, you won’t need a full-sized cooker.

Do you want it to be portable? Do you want to cook for a large family? What size pans will you be using? Your cooker needs to have at least an inch headspace above your pot, including the lid. Build according to what you need.

Do Build in Security

If you’re building your own solar oven and it’s going to be substantial (not made from a pizza box) build in a way to padlock it to something larger. For example, you could build a place to attach a padlock to the hinges of a box cooker.

Time Your Cooking Accordingly

Just like when you’re cooking inside, don’t add carrots and spinach to a soup at the same time and expect them to cook evenly. Add hard vegetables first, and if you’re cooking more than one dish, start the one that takes longest to cook before you start the faster-cooking one.

dos-and-donts-of-cooking-on-solar-oven

Just use your cooking common sense that you use in the kitchen. If you don’t have any yet, you quickly will, as we help you cook your first meal on a solar oven with these 7 recipes.

And Finally, 7 Survival Recipes to Cook on Your Solar Oven

Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, these recipes are written specifically for that cooking method. Some of these recipes for solar ovens are basics, and some are for more luxurious dishes, but even in a survival situation, tasty treats can go a long way toward boosting morale.

After all, who doesn’t feel a little better after eating a good brownie?

Remember that times are going to be different depending upon how hot your oven gets. Some can get as hot as 425 degrees while some can barely break 325. Because of that, take the times with a grain of salt and start checking your food 5 minutes of so before the time listed to see if it’s done.

Fresh Baked Bread

This recipe will yield two loaves of bread or about 24 rolls. Remember that, unlike biscuits, the more you knead bread, the better it will be because kneading activates the gluten, which provides the elasticity.

  • oven-bread6 c bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 1/2 c very warm water (not hot!)
  • 2 packets quick rise yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and set aside so that it can activate.

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar, than add the butter or oil and the yeasty water. Stir together, then mix in the remaining water 1/2 cup at a time until your bread is kneadable but not sticky. You can do this in a bowl or on a lightly floured surface.

Continue to knead by folding the dough in half on itself and pushing together until your dough is elastic and shapes easily into a loaf. If you need to add a bit more flour or water to reach a good consistency, do so. Count on kneading for at least 5 minutes, and maybe even 10.

Place in a warm place, rub a tsp of oil over the top, and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until it doubles in size, then punch in down, knead it just a bit more, then divide your loaves or rolls, place in bread pans, and allow to rise again. Place in your sun oven, which is hopefully around 300 to 325 degrees F, and bake for about 45 minutes.

Tap on your bread and if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Pot Roast

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes)

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Meatloaf

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¾ c rolled oats or breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly then place in a loaf pan. Bake in solar oven at 350 for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until meat reaches 160 degrees inside.

Barbeque Chicken

Great served with fresh vegetables, corn on the cob and cornbread. You can also serve it with rice to feed more people. However you want to serve it, it’s delicious!

  • 6 chicken quarters or breasts, or a dozen legs
  • 1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for chicken. Just FYI, this is a good sauce to make ahead and can! Place chicken on a baking sheet and paint the sauce onto the chicken. You could marinate it in it for an hour if you’d like.

Place the chicken in the solar oven at about 325 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, saucing again about half way through. Chicken should be 165 degrees F in the center, not on the bone. A good tip is that the chicken will pull easily away from the bone.

Solar Brownies

Brownies are one of those comfort foods that will definitely boost morale with very little work, time, or special ingredients. Makes 1 8×8 pan or 4 pint jars.

  • 2 c sugarbrownies
  • 2 c white all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c dark cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

Cream sugar, shortening and vanilla together in a bowl, then beat in the eggs.

Add dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth – about 2 minutes.

Fold in nuts if you’re using them. Feel free to toss in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, or whatever else you like in your brownies. Batter will be thick.

Pour into a greased and floured 8×8 pan and bake in solar oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.

Note: If you’d like to make these ahead in pint jars, simply combine dry ingredients well and add to jars. Write complete recipe on an index card and attach to the jar. To extend shelf-life, dry-can.

Apple Crisp

Apple trees grow naturally and prolifically in every state in America, so this is a dessert that will barely touch your food supplies in the fall. It’s also extremely easy to make and, except for the peeling process, it’s not difficult to make enough to feed many people. You can also rehydrate dried apples to make it.

Filling:

  • 6 c apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/3 in slices
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 c water
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

I always keep apple pie seasoning on hand and use this in replace of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Topping:

  • 1 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c cold butter

Place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle in the lemon juice. Toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to coat the apples. Pour into an 8×12 pan and cover with a lid. Bake in solar oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until apples are almost tender.

Combine topping ingredients by cutting together into pea-sized pieces with a fork or pastry cutter. Remove the lid from the apples and sprinkle the topping evenly over them. Put it back in the solar oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and crispy and the apples are tender. Warm, homey, nutritious (for a dessert) and comforting.

To make peach crisp, simply substitute the same amount of peaches for the apples.

You can also make this by using your canned apple pie filling and skipping the first stage of cooking.

Cornbread

This is a dish that every survivalist and homesteader should know. It can be used as a bread or as a dessert – serve it with butter as a savory side for meals, or slather it with jam as a delicious dessert.

  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c milk or buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients thoroughly then add butter, eggs, and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake in solar oven at the highest temperature for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your oven doesn’t get that hot, just extend cooking time until it’s done. The top should be a good indicator of when it’s done as it will brown fairly evenly as it cooks.

Buttermilk adds tenderness and lightness to batter because the acids chemically interact with the baking powder or baking soda. If you want the tang of buttermilk but only have 2 percent or whole milk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to it and let it set for a few minutes before adding to the mix. It won’t have the thick creaminess of buttermilk, but will function the same.

Remember that for all of these recipes, you can use dry milk, canned or dried meat, fruit, or vegetables, and powdered butter and eggs. Just reconstitute according to directions and you’re good to go!

For the most part, cooking with a solar oven is extremely similar to cooking with a regular oven, except you may have to cook things longer. Nearly all of your favorite recipes, especially crock pot recipes, will translate right over.

Don’t think that you’ll have to skimp just because you don’t have a “real” oven, because this problem is now easier to solve that you have ever imagined. We have the best deal for you if you decide to buy a solar oven, and it’s now available on Survivopedia.

Click the banner below to take advantage of this incredible offer!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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8 Dangers After Floods You Need To Know About

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Dangers After Floods

We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t drive across flooded roads or stay when you’re told to evacuate, but what about after the water recedes? You just go back in, clean up the debris, and start living again, right?

Well, no. Flood waters are full of disease-carrying bugs, and there are other dangers after floods you need to know about, too.

1. Bacteria

Flood water is nasty. It’s full of chemicals, garbage, animal waste, biohazardous waste (think about other people with bleeding wounds and open sores wading in it and often sewer and septic waste, too. It’s sort of like walking through a toilet that ten thousand people have used without flushing.

Then all that nasty stuff soaks into your belongings, your ground, and the surface of everything on your property that it’s touched. It’s imperative that you wear rubber boots, heavy rubber gloves, and follow other safety protocols when you’re walking through your property or touching anything that was in contact with flood waters.

Especially if it’s warm, pathogens breed like crazy, so just because the water is gone, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the yuck went with it.

2. Drinking Water

During flooding, city water is often contaminated due to broken pipes or leaks caused by collapses, breaches, or facility flooding. This means that basically, you’re drinking flood water. That’s how you catch such diseases as cholera.

The same holds true for well water. Flood water seeps into the ground and can contaminate your well. It’s important to test your water after flooding.

To ensure that your water is safe to drink, boil it at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. If you’re above 6000 feet in elevation, increase that time to 3 minutes. I always at least double that just to be sure. You can also use purification tablets, bleach, or iodine to kill pathogens in your water.

3. Standing Water

Standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria and disease-spreading insects such as mosquitoes. After flooding, standing water is an issue in low spots and in places such as planters and buckets. There may also be standing water left in basements or other parts of your house.

Empty all containers that you can and use a sump pump or wet vac to get as much water out of your house and buildings as possible. Even sweeping out the water is often effective, though labor-intensive.

Open windows, assuming it’s not raining, and put in the corners to help floors and walls dry faster.

4. Unsafe Bridges and Structures

Flooding often causes structural damage to bridges, roads and buildings that may not be obvious to the naked eye. Don’t cross closed bridges and inspect your house and buildings closely before entering. Better yet, have your property inspected by a professional.

Remember, too, that even weight-bearing walls can be damaged during flooding, so if the dry wall is damaged, assume that the inner framework may be, too.

5. Mold and Mildew

This is a HUGE issue after flooding because mold and mildew hide in places that you can’t see. As a matter of fact, they thrive in dark areas. Both are ugly to look at, but more importantly, they can cause serious health issues including respiratory problems that can lead to death.

Black mold in particular can be deadly. In tropical areas where it’s humid most of the year, black mold is a critical issue that can actually cause a house to be condemned because the health risk is so serious. Since flooding occurs most often in the summer, all types of mold and mildew should be a consideration when moving back into a space.

Drywall or paneling that has gotten wet should be closely inspected for mold and mildew. Bleach in a 1:5 ratio to water will kill mold and mildew but you need to make sure that you kill it all. Again, a home inspection is in order just to be sure and you really should just replace drywall and paneling that’s gotten wet.

Here is an infographic from Heiton Buckley to help you make mold removal easier.

Mold Removal Infographic

6. Electrical Lines

One of the biggest safety issues following any disaster is downed power lines. Since many powerlines are now run underground, things can get particularly tricky. NEVER, under any circumstances, approach or try to handle power lines. It may seem like a common sense thing, yet people continue to die because they don’t heed that advice.

To be fair, many times downed power lines aren’t immediately obvious. Think about a tree that was swept over in the woods behind your house. You fire up the chainsaw to clean it up and don’t realize that there’s a powerline tangled up in it until it’s too late. Be extremely aware of what you’re doing and what’s around you.

If you’ve used alternate methods to power your home during a flood, don’t abandon it until you know for sure that the power is on and will stay on.

7. Stray Animals

After a flood, there are going to be stray animals that range from cats to even cows. Be careful when you see them and don’t approach them if at all possible. Remember that though they’re adorable, they’ve been out in the flood waters and could be carrying any number of diseases. It’s best to call animal control.

Stray Dog

8. Garden Dangers

As homesteaders and preppers, this is a huge consideration because we’ve invested so much time, effort, and money into our gardens. So what’s safe to eat and what do you need to throw away?

This is a concern especially for people susceptible to illness because of weak or compromised immune systems such as small children, the elderly, and the sick. Because flood waters carry so many health risks, it’s better to err on the side of caution no matter how healthy you are.

There isn’t just one easy answer to whether or not you can eat produce from a flooded garden. It depends upon how it was flooded – was it just standing under water that built up in your yard during a heavy rain or did water rush in from other places and cover it?

How far along was your garden when it was flooded? Had the seeds just been planted? Were the plants young? Did they already bear fruit? Are they above-ground, or root veggies?

First, if your plants were just waterlogged by clean, standing water in your yard, you likely don’t have to worry about much more than washing the veggies before you eat them.

If your garden was recently planted and the ground was flooded by overflown rivers or flood waters that cover large areas, you may still be OK. If the plants won’t be ready for at least 120 days, they will be considered safe to eat in most circumstances.

Early season plants that were already bearing fruit and will be eaten within a few weeks of the flood will be OK to eat as long as the fruits remained above water and the veggies are peeled and/or cooked.

Any produce that is damaged or has cracks that could let in contamination should be discarded.

Rotting Potatoes

 

A good guideline to use to determine whether your crops are safe to eat is the National Organic Program guidelines for harvesting food from soil that was fertilized with non-composted manure. If you’re using liquid manure, you may already be familiar with these rules.

This is because research suggests that food that’s been fertilized with non-composted manure may present more health hazards than food contaminated by flood waters.

Basically, the guide says that there should be a 90 day period between planting and harvesting produce grown in soil fertilized with manure that wasn’t composted. If the edible part of the plant came into contact with the non-composted manure, there should be 120 days between contact and harvest.

If the produce is ready to harvest when it’s flooded, I personally would count it as a loss and health officials agree with that sentiment. However, if the flooding happens part of the way through the growing season and you’re going to starve without the food, you have the option of cooking it.

Though cooking will kill most microbial sources of illness, it won’t do anything about chemical contamination. Again, in a life or death situation, produce that can be peeled should be.

Floods present many health and safety issues that must be dealt with immediately. Safety issues such as mold, pathogens, and structurally compromised buildings can’t just be ignored; you have to deal with them immediately.

Because every flood is different, consult with your local health department and department of agriculture for more accurate guidelines. Remember that if you evacuated, you shouldn’t go back until your area is declared safe, because there’s much more to consider than whether or not the water has receded. Water has to be checked, electric lines must be secured, and a thousand other details looked after. Be smart and be safe.

One of the best ways to get a head start on your flood cleanup is to prepare properly for a flood in advance. You can’t prevent everything, but you can protect yourself and your property as much as possible. You need to be prepared to face this emergency as no one – including doctors – might be there to help you out.

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If you’ve experienced a flood or have anything else that you’d like to add, please do so in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia

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Here’s The Right Way To Build A Chicken Coop!

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If you have a hammer and nails or a good drill, and a weekend afternoon, you can build your own chicken coop, spending less than the price of a new one or even for free.

Craigslist and local retail outlets are often a good source of used pallets, empty wooden crates and other scrap wood that you can get for free or at a minimal cost. You just need to know how to do it!

Chicken wire can be affordably sourced at a local hardware or farm supply store, along with a few hinges and a lock. With an afternoon of labor you can have a secure chicken coop for a handful of laying hens.

Here’s a really cool infographic from Urban Chickens Network about steps to take when building a chicken coop!

chicken coop

This article has been written by Gabrielle Ray for Survivopedia.

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7 Intimidating Home Defense Alternatives

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cold weaponsAt the time of this writing, our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms are under serious attack. Obama and others have vowed to take our guns away, supposedly making the world a safer place. In reality, it’s not about making anyone safer, it’s about giving them total control.

Mankind was killing one another long before the invention of the firearm. Ever since man first realized that sticks and stones could hurt, they have used anything they could find as a weapon.

There are choices to be made, but don’t rely on Hollywood movies when estimating what using them means. Learn your limits, as it takes a lot of skills and practice to use them for your defense.

Bows

Bows were the most common distance weapon in use throughout the world for centuries. There are many things to like about bows, as they are lightweight, accurate and can shoot a fair distance. With practice, one can become extremely accurate with one and even learn to shoot it rather rapidly. On top of all this, they have the advantage of being a silent weapon: other than the “twang” of the bowstring, there’s nothing to hear.

I personally like bows and if I were to find myself in a situation where I felt it was necessary to leave my home and go hunting for adversaries, I would probably pick a bow over a rifle. To me, the advantage of being able to attack my enemies silently, without them knowing where the shots are coming from, surpasses the superior firepower of the rifle. Of course, I would take a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol with me for close work.

Most bow hunters will only use a bow to kill game at up to 40 yards, although the bow itself will easily kill out to double that distance. That makes it possible to use a bow for most outdoor home defense scenarios, although it isn’t anywhere near as effective for use as an indoor weapon. The amount of space one needs for drawing a bow makes it almost impossible to use it effectively indoors.

If you choose to buy a bow for a secondary weapon, then practice, practice, practice. You can’t get good with a bow anywhere near as fast as you can with a rifle or even a pistol. This is a weapon which requires much more skill to use effectively; but with that skill, it can be quite effective.

Knives

Knives have a great psychological impact on an adversary. Something about looking at a sharp piece of steel in an opponent’s hand, knowing that it might be residing in your guts in a few minutes, is enough to make even the stoutest of heart waver. Even so, using a knife effectively as a weapon is difficult. Unless you have had extensive training, don’t think you can use one to defend yourself.

Having said that, I still recommend having a knife. When everything else stops working, that knife might just take out your last adversary. Besides, there is nothing you would need more if you find yourself in a disaster situation: you’ll need it for catching and preparing food, building a shelter or making your way out.

For a knife to be effective as a weapon it needs to be the right knife and it needs to be used the right way. True fighting knives are much different than hunting knives, which are single bladed, although some are sharpened partially down the back side.

The best fighting knives are double-bladed, being sharpened down the whole of the back edge. This type of knife is known as the Fairburn, named for its inventor, Bruce Fairburn, who came up with the design while serving in China. The advantage of the Fairburn style knife over other styles is the ease of penetration that it offers. It can also cut in both directions when slashing. These may seem like small differences, but in an actual knife fight, they can be enormous advantages.

True knife fighters always hold the knife low, with the point of the knife upwards. Stabbing someone from above is another Hollywood invention. The human body is fairly well armored for protection from stabs that come from above. Between the shoulder bones and the ribcage, the most that a stab from above can do is muscle damage. On the other hand, the human body has almost no natural armor from stabs from down low. You can much more easily stab an enemy in the gut, causing serious damage, by stabbing from below.

Never try using a folding knife for a self-defense weapon. There’s too much of a chance of it folding on your fingers, hurting you instead of your assailant. Even lock-blades can’t be counted on, as there is always the possibility of accidently triggering the lock.

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Throwing Knives

Throwing knives has a lot of sex appeal, mostly because it’s showy. However, as a means of self-defense, it doesn’t hold much value. Hollywood has always shown victims who were attacked by a throwing knife as being hit in the chest or the back. Once again, the body’s natural armor comes to the victim’s aid. Considering how a throwing knife flips when it is thrown, it’s almost impossible to penetrate the rib cage with one.

I learned how to throw knives years ago, thinking it would be useful for self-defense. That was before I realized how hard to target a human body really is. The only place that it would be effective to hit someone with a throwing knife would be the lower abdomen, hitting the stomach from the front, or the kidneys from the back. This greatly limits the utility of a throwing knife.

Swords

A sword can be a fearsome weapon in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. Of course, in our modern world, there are very few people who have any idea of how to use a sword effectively. Unless you are a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, you have probably never held a real sword in your hands, let alone tried to hit an opponent with one.

Learning how to use a sword requires even more practice than learning how to use a bow or knife. Having said that, if I was up against an opponent armed with a knife, I’d rather have a sword in my hands. The greater reach of a sword does hold some advantage over a knife.

Using a sword requires an incredible amount of upper body strength. The soldiers of olden times, who were limited to the use of the sword, instead of an assault rifle, had to be incredibly strong, especially to manage to wield a sword for an entire day’s battling. Unless you are much stronger than I, you won’t be able to use a sword for a prolonged engagement.

For most people, knives, swords and other such weapons are actually more of a liability than they are an asset. Their lack of ability to effectively use these weapons means that they are ineffective against their enemies. On top of that there is always the risk that the enemy can take the weapon away from you and use it against you. For that reason, avoid these weapons, except as a last resort, unless you have the time and resources to train in using them properly.

Sticks, Staves and Clubs

This category of weapons are referred to as “melee weapons” and can include anything that can be put on a stick, including axes and maces. The really great thing about this category of weapon is that it really doesn’t require any training. Simply grab what’s available and start swinging.

While you’re not going to accomplish much against a pistol-wielding bandit with an axe or stick, you will against one who doesn’t have a firearm. I saw an interesting demonstration once, done by people who were experts in the use of medieval weaponry. One man with an axe was able to hold off four men armed with swords. His advantage was that he could just go wild with that axe, while his opponents needed to look for an opening in which to attack.

If it comes down to the point where an intruder gets into your home and comes at you, while you’re unarmed, grab whatever is at hand and start swinging. If he’s got a gun, you’re not going to do real well, but if he’s got a knife, you’ve got the advantage.

Throwing Stars

Throwing stars, more properly called “shuriken” are another weapon that Hollywood has glamorized. In the movies, people get killed by expertly thrown metal stars, thrown by some martial arts expert or other. In reality, it’s almost impossible to do more than cause a scratch with one.

The shuriken was invented as a distraction weapon. In other words, to distract someone long enough to run away. If a ninja was caught in the act, they would throw a couple of shuriken at whoever discovered them, and dive through the closest window to make their escape. Used in that way, they are highly effective.

The other problem with shuriken is that it takes a lot of practice to become proficient enough to use them effectively. Having experimented with them, I know how hard it is to throw one accurately. If you’ve only got seconds to act, it’s better to fill your hand with something that’s going to be able to do your adversary some real harm.

Martial Arts Weapons

Most of the martial arts weapons started out as tools. In ancient times, farmers and artisans were forced to figure out how to use these tools as weapons, as they were denied ownership of any real weapons. Used by an expert, they can be very effective, but used by an amateur, they’re a good way of getting yourself hurt.

These weapons require lots of training and practice to use effectively. Swinging a pair of nunchuku (commonly called “nunchucks”) around to impress your friends isn’t going to prepare you to use them against anyone who manages to break into your home. When that happens, you’re more likely to hit yourself in the head, than you are to hit them.

Having anything in your hand is better than having nothing. Unless you are so highly trained in martial arts techniques that you can kill a person with your hands alone, you’re better off using almost anything, including these cold weapons. And if you have to chose one, do it wisely, according to your skills and abilities.

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This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.

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10 Secrets To Choose Your Tools For Homesteading

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ToolsWhen you are on a tight budget, it is very tempting to buy the cheapest tools you can find. For example, if you need handsaw, you may be inclined to pick one up in a dollar store and then hope that it will get you through a few projects.

While these, and other tools may get you through a small project, they can also be very dangerous and of little or no use in a crisis situation.

The tools you have on hand may well need to last for decades or even be passed along for generations before suitable replacements can be made and distributed at an affordable price. That’s why, when choosing tools for your homestead, or other bug in needs, you should keep the following ten points in mind.

1. How Versatile Is the Tool?

If you live in an apartment or a tiny home, then you are always going to be worried about how much room to allocate for tools.

In some cases, you will be best served by looking for tools that can accomplish a wide range of jobs without being ruined.  At other times, you may need a tool that can be used for some applications, and then have a second tool that will do something similar.

Unless you need a particular tool for a specialized job, aim for the most durable multi-purpose tools you can find. Here are the factors to consider, especially when buying drill bits and cutting blades:

  • A drill bit or cutting blade listed for use on wood or plastic will most likely be ruined if you try to use it on metal.
  • Simply choosing the cheapest metal working bits isn’t much better than buying bits and blades for wood. For example, a drill bit designed to go through corrugated aluminum may not even go through a tin can.
  • When choosing bits and blades, you are best served by getting the best possible metal working bits and blades. These will cut and drill through just about anything, and also last far longer than other types.

While you’re assessing tool versatility, think about the range of applications and how well it will perform each task.

In some case, a few less specialized tools will actually be of more use. For example, you might think that a large toothed, large saw blade is the best option for all your woodworking or metal cutting needs. On the other hand, if you need to cut curves or work with a smaller, more delicate piece of material, then a coping saw will be of more use.

And there are always going to be times when you need socket wrenches to get into places where you cannot use a monkey wrench. There is a newer wrench on the market that basically uses a set of bearings to create an adjustable socket wrench. Keep one of these onhand for survival needs since it can be adjusted to both large and small socket sizes.

There is simply no telling how quickly this particular wrench type will wear out or how much strain it can take. If you want to keep one of these onhand, then work with it and put it through as much testing as possible, and then keep a brand new one aside for survival needs.

You should also keep good quality conventional metric and standard socket sets on hand just in case the multiple socket wrench fails.

2. How Long Is it Guaranteed to Last?

Do you remember the days when vehicle engines, transmissions, and drive trains were guaranteed to last well over 100,000 miles? If so, then you may also remember that a four year old car was considered relatively new instead of at the end of its best years.

As with cars, the warranties on many tools made today is much less. While you can still get good quality tools that will last a long time, nothing says trust in quality like a manufacturer that will guarantee the tools for life. Even though the manufacturer may be driven out of business by a major social collapse, neither you nor they will know when that will happen. Therefore, lifetime warranties can be used as one of the indicators of tool quality.

If you have a choice between a cheaper tool with a limited warranty and one with a lifetime warranty, go for the latter even if is a bit more expensive. Remember, you might use this tool for decades on end or even pass it along to the next generation. No matter whether the tool in question is a screwdriver bit set, pliers, or other hand tools, buying the best will pay off in the long run.

3. Are There Older Versions of the Tool that Might Be Cheaper and More Durable?

As with cars and just about everything else in stores these days, you will find that things just aren’t as durable as they used to be. From that perspective, you may actually be able to save some money and get good quality tools by visiting the local flea markets.

In some cases, older, well maintained tools may actually be more durable and work better than newer ones. Just stay away from ones that are excessively worn or show signs of deep rusting. Here are some tools that you can consider purchasing second hand in the vintage section:

  • Hand power drills. These devices can truly last for decades and beyond even if they show some signs of wear. Make sure that you can get drill bits into it, and that they will not slip when you apply pressure from the crank or other hand levers.
  • Coping saw frames and hacksaw frames.  As with other tools, make sure these are free of rust and that they are solid across the entire frame.  Try to fit a new blade into them and make sure that the handle and blade holding areas will not give way under a work load.
  • Any hand tool that has screws or other tightening apparatus that can be adjusted. Check that the adjusters have not been sheared off, are rusty, or stuck in place. In some cases you may be able to revive these tools, however it may be best to look for something in better condition.

4. What Kind of Maintenance Does It Need?

Even the best quality tools may require oiling, cleaning, and other kinds of maintenance, so you’ll need to store away appropriate cleaners and lubricants. Other details may also be overlooked:

  • Some types of steel blade need to be stored away from humidity. While they may work fine on a daily basis, storing them in a pre-crisis situation can be a bit difficult. For example, if you don’t oil them once a month or use them on a regular basis, they may rust and be nothing but reddish dust when you open your survival bin. Even if you feel that your tools will resist rust and corrosion, examine them on a monthly basis even if you aren’t using them.
  • Blades, drill bits, and other tools are apt to wear down and need replacing. Depending on the blade type, you may be able to sharpen it several times before having to discard it. Have a good quality sharpener onhand, and use it as often as needed.

5. Does the Tool Require Replacement Parts?

If you visit a hardware store, you are sure to be amazed at the growing number of variations on common tools. For example, where you may have once bought a simple set of Philips and flathead screwdrivers, now you may be faced with an array of bits, ratcheting handles, power screwdrivers, reversible drill screwdrivers, and cordless screwdrivers.

When it comes to your survival toolkit, don’t put all your reliance on power tools. Aside from problems with EMPs, battery operated tools will never be as strong as those with a power cord. Power tools are truly wonderful to use and very convenient, but they will be worse than useless if you do not have electricity to power them.

Oddly enough, even the most simple hand tools these days may require replacement parts. For example, even though you can buy screwdriver bit sets with dozens of bits in them, they tend to be less durable than full bodied screwdrivers.

When it comes to bit sets, even high quality ones will shear or wear down very quickly. You can, and should keep a high quality set onhand plus a ratcheting handle, but do not overlook full bodied screwdrivers. At the very least, you should have a few of the most popular sizes plus the short shank counterparts for tight areas.

Saws, drills, and other key tools also require replacement parts from time to time. If there is anything that you should stockpile, these items will be more important than anything else. Without a spare blade to replace one that is worn or broken, it will be impossible to complete a number of tasks. When it comes to bugging in, this is truly one place were storing more is better than storing away less.

6. What Kind of Activities Will Ruin It?

Have you ever used a screwdriver to open a can of paint, or the back of a glass cutter to rap on a stubborn jar lid? If so, then you know that some tools are only limited by your imagination.

On the other hand, there are many woodworking tools that cannot be used on metal or plastic. There are also many metal working tools that cannot be used on solid metals or denser metals than they were designed for.

Always read manufacturer specs carefully so that you know what the limits of each tool is. In addition, before adding a tool to your survival stores, be sure to test it out. Try a number of different materials and see how much wear accumulates on the bits or blades.

Pay careful attention to the cutting surfaces. Do they appear darker as if they have been exposed to heat? Did the surface of the blade become even or appear worn?  If any given tool cannot pass these basic tests, then return it to the store immediately and go up to the next highest priced tool. There is absolutely no sense in storing away tools that will wear out after one or two uses when you can replace them now and have confidence in their durability later on.

7. How Best to Use the Tool?

One of the worst things you can do is buy a tool and then figure you will know how to use it when the time comes. For example, even as you read this, you may have hammers, pliers, wrenches, and all kinds of other tools laying around the house. Even though a hammer may seem very simple to use, that does not mean you know how to get the most from it.

Among other things, you may be the type that has to whack a nail several dozen times just to get it through the wood. On the other hand, professional carpenters may be able to drive those nails with a single blow.

Take the time now to learn how to use tools efficiently. Not only will you save wear and tear on the tools, you will find it much easier to complete tasks.

8. How Skilled Are You With the Tool in Question?

Simply reading about how best to use a tool is not the same as actually knowing how to do the job. Consider a situation where you feel that you know how to use a handsaw. Here are just a few things that you may overlook in a time of need. Aside from producing low quality, crooked cuts, some of these problems may actually lead to serious injury.

  • Forgetting to wear goggles when using tools. No matter whether you are cutting, drilling, or shaping wood, metal, plastic, or some other substance, bits of the material will go all over the place. While much of the material may fall as dust at your feet, other bits can very easily get lodged in your eyes. You may at first feel that a bit of sawdust in the eye is a minor inconvenience, but it can scratch the cornea of the eye and leave you with permanent scars that reduce the clarity of your eyesight. If that scratch becomes infected, it can also lead to blindness. Tiny bits of metal can also scratch and do serious damage. If the pieces of metal are big enough, they may also be able to cut blood vessels on the outer portion of the eyeball or in the eyelid.
  • Forgetting to wear a dust mask. If you thought the damage from sawdust or metal bits was bad for your eyes, then you may not realize that it is just as bad on your lungs. Remember that the working parts of your lungs are very fragile, tiny little sacks that allow the exchange of air between the lung tissue and blood vessels. Dust of any kind can ruin them and leave you with steadily decreasing breathing capacity. Though you may not feel it right away, constantly breathing in saw dust or any other type of dust is a true danger to your health.
  • Failure to apply blades and cutting edges in the right direction or angle. Many people feel that as long as the blade is cutting, they are doing things right. On the other hand, adjusting the angle will actually make the work go a lot faster and also prevent damage to the blade itself.
  • Failure to use proper grips and fasteners. Have you ever tried to cut a stick or dowel by bracing it on your leg or the floor? If so, then you may already know that you are wasting a lot of motion and energy trying to keep the material from moving. Always take the time to secure items you are working with using a good quality vice or other fasteners as needed. This is also good practice if you decide to use power tools. Needless to say, if you slip with a hand saw or other hand tool, it can do some serious injury to your hands, arms, or any other body part that gets in the way. If you have the same kind of accident with a power tool, it may well amputate that appendage. In a crisis situation, either type of injury can also  lead to a life threatening infection.

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9. Can You Safely Use the Tool Now as Well as if You Are Injured or Disabled?

As time goes by, an aging body often loses the ability to do many things. For example, arthritis or other joint problems may make it harder to turn a screw driver, use a saw, or hammer nails.

Choose tools that will age with you and still be usable if you become disabled or injured. In this case, you should look for aftermarket grips or other accessories that will make the tool easier and safer to work with. Just make sure that you are as comfortable using these grips as you are a tool without these additional parts.

10. Can You Think of Projects and Ways to Use the Tool Now?

One of the best things you can do when assessing tools for survival needs is to use them now as much as possible. Choose a wide range of projects so that you can get plenty of practice as well as find out how durable the tool is. Here are some projects to use on the tools you plan to keep for survival needs:

  • Build wooden toys with many moving parts. This will help you establish a good level of precision with everything from saws and chisels to screwdrivers and nails.
  • Build cabinets, and then shelves that will need to accommodate fairly large amounts of weight.
  • Build toys or other small items from metal. You can start off by building toys from tin cans. This will help you practice bending and cutting metal as well as learn how to gauge the strength of metals. When working with metal, always take extra care to wear gloves in order to protect your hands from sharp, thin bits that are bound to occur.
  • Build a small shed or some other structure where you must assemble an inner frame and then add a roof, floor, and sides.  From there, you can also try building decks and ramps.
  • Take apart an old lawnmower engine and rebuild it to working order. This will help you learn how to clean grimy parts and recognize those that are worn. You will also learn some important things about dissembling and re-assembling basic engines.
  • Take apart an old motorcycle engine and put it back together. This will be an excellent place to learn how to make replacement parts if needed as well as repair and clean basic engine components.
  • Try taking apart and re-assembling a car from bumper to bumper.  While this may take a few years for the weekend hobbyist, it will truly be worth your effort.

As you can see, choosing tools is about far more than having a nice shiny set of sockets and saws hanging on the back wall of your work room. It is about having a small set of tools that you can rely on to help you get any job done and in any situation.

Take the time now to buy good quality tools and then practice with them as much as possible so that you will have both confidence and skill in a time of need.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Winter Survival: How To Snow Shovel Like A Pro

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Shovel ProAfter the record breaking blizzard that has put the mid-Atlantic states under snow we were faced with a new set of challenges. Sure, we talked about insulating your home and making sure no energy is wasted. We also covered how to use snow to insulate your home and how to deal with your car and driving under similar circumstances.

But what do you do when you are practically paralyzed by the heavy snowfall? When flights get cancelled and roads get closed and when nobody even bothers to make sure these roads are accessible to the ambulance and the fire fighters?

Some may say that residential roads fall in the owner’s care and they are the ones who should deal with the snow on those portions. But what happens when the owners are elderly or disabled people, unable to shovel this kind of snow and sometimes unable to pay for this service? We all know that this storm proofed to be deadly to many, but did you know that a significant part of the deaths were caused by heart attacks linked to shoveling snow? So our concern, and yours I hope, is legitimate.

You might not think of it this way, but shoveling snow is a pretty intense physical exercise that can prove to be fatal for those at risk. The categories considered to be at risk in this case are those with a poor physical condition, people like you and I who work at the desk, on a chair, all day long and don’t get to do a lot of sports, those with high cholesterol and of course those over 55. Actually, doctors recommend staying away from shoveling snow altogether after the age of 55.

The stress of the intense physical activity, coupled with the cold air that constricts the blood vessels, could cause blood to thicken and become prone to clotting, are a fatal mix for many.

How to Stay Safe 

Besides the risks described above, the more common health risk shoveling snow poses is that of low back injury. So whatever your age and your health condition, when dealing with this task you must take precautions.

First thing before getting to the shoveling part, start with a 5-10 minutes warm up. Move your arms slowly forward and backward, hold a body hug for 30-60 seconds, gently stretch your legs and back and take a brisk walk to help your muscles heat. If you have a bad back or you are over 55,  you better ask for help than risk your health and your life!

Picking a good shovel is also something you must pay attention to. If you choose an ergonomic one, with a curved or adjustable handle, it will take a lot of the effort off your back and your knees. Take care, when holding the shovel, keep your hands distanced on the shovel’s handle in order to distribute the force equally. When digging up snow make sure the force comes from your legs and not from your back, keep your knees slightly flexed in order to help with that.

Preferably you should push the snow aside, instead of lifting it and carrying it from one place to another. But if there’s no other way, make sure you keep your loads light and your knees flexed while doing so and don’t ever try to throw it over your shoulder!

Stop for two or three minutes every other 10-15 minutes, and stretch your back, arms and shoulders. While tackling snow, remove the top layers first, instead of going in depth. It’s much easier this way and especially for your back! And also consider removing the snow during 3-4 days rather than in one.

Other recommendations would be: layer clothing in order to keep warm throughout the process and also to be able to remove them one by one as you heat. Hydrate as needed and avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking that will overburden your heart and will increase chances of frost and hypothermia.

How to Build Your Tools for Snow Shoveling

Now that we’ve discussed some tips on how to handle the snow without ruining your health, let’s take a look at some really cool tools that will help you with your task. And that’s because not everyone was prepared for this type of downfall!

1. Homemade Snow Shovel

You won’t need much for this DIY tool, just a durable garbage can lid, some screws and a screwdriver, a single-edged razor blade or a box cutter and a wooden broomstick.

Use the blade (or box cutter) to cut the lid in two pieces with the cut edge acting as the scooping side, while the raised outer brim will keep the snow in place until deposited. The broomstick will become the shovel handle, that you will secure to the lid with three screw. Get the details here.

2. The Plow Wow

It’s available for order, but if you take a closer look at this contraption, it wouldn’t be that difficult to DIY. And if you feel like it, you could even help a neighbor or two and make a buck out of it!

Video first seen on Tyler Selph

3. Snow Shovel for Your Car

Watching this “bad boy” in action makes you want to give it a try even just to test your DIY skills and you car’s abilities. Imagine being able to remove snow from the comfort of your car, listening to your favorite CD and not having to freeze throughout the process. Here’s another plan of the same idea.

Video first seen on Rich In MN 1975

4. Human Powered Snow Plow

Now, I’m not sure this is actually easier than shoveling snow, but if you like riding you bike it sure is more fun and it seems more efficient. So why not give it a try?

Video first seen on Bob Beechy

5. The Redneck Snow Plow

This is the quicker and easier DIY version of the snow shovel for your car. Just try not to steal the parts you need to put it in place as recommended by the video!

Video first seen on gjvmnd

What’s the Easiest Way to Shovel Snow?

The option we saw above are great, but our favorite must be the following two.

Video first seen on Snow Granny

I am not sure exactly how this guy managed to fold the snow like that, but he got our respect for it!

Video first seen on Joshua Jordan

Now that you’ve seen how these folks used their imagination and whatever they had on hand to deal with the snow, let us know in the comments below how are things in your area and how are you handling the situation?

This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia

References:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blizzard-2016-snow-shoveling-proves-deadly/

 

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Winter Driving: 5 Tips For Your Fuel Economy

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winter driving

You might not have heard of this, but last weekend Eastern Europe has been hit by a wave of snow and really low temperatures. So much so that roads were closed for over 12 hours.

Maybe this doesn’t seem so unusual, but what capture my attention was the survival story I stumbled upon. This guy managed to stay alive for 3 whole days after the facility he was working in was left without electricity. He got water from the already too much snow, he had some food supplies and his shelter? Well, his car!

It’s almost a miracle that he lasted for so long and he didn’t even need medical care after this ordeal. And although the rule of 3 played an important role in his survival, there is one thing without which he would have tragically failed: fuel. If your fuel reserve won’t last enough, you won’t stand a chance, so you must know how to stretch it as much as you need to.

You don’t have to get to Europe for harsh winter, heavy snow and winter traffic jams. Just take a look at Washington D.C. these days instead.

Is common science that cold weather reduces the range for all vehicles. Fuel economy tests show that a conventional gasoline car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 32°F than it would be at 73°F, and it can drop as much as 19% at 0°F comparing to 73°F. As for very short trips (3 to 4 miles of city driving), the fuel economy drops to 22%.

Take a good look at the facts below, as they could really change your perspective when you rely on your bug out vehicle and your winter driving skills for survival.

How Is This Happening?

Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids. The engine needs more time to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature, which explains why a shorter trip “costs” more fuel than a longer one. How much would you lose of your economy because of the less efficient components? Up to 14%! Combine trips so you could drive less often with a cold engine.

As for the battery, its performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. Drive at least 5 miles between start cycles to fully recharge the battery.

Everything you do to prepare your car prior to driving out of your alley increases fuel consumption, because you use additional power. Heating the cabin, window defrosters, and heater fans are the most “expensive” in terms of fuel, as they all use additional power. And more power means more fuel, which goes your economy down to 15%.

And remember that winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.

Also, colder air is denser, which will increase aerodynamic drag on your vehicle (especially at highway speeds), and decrease your fuel economy up to 5%. Even tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance and reducing the range up to 4%.

Icy or snow-covered roads decrease even more your tires’ grip on the road, wasting energy. Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph. And remember that using four-wheel drive increases fuel consumption too.

How Can You Solve It?

Now you wonder what can you do about it. We have some clues for you below.

1. Start Your Preparations with a Good Vehicle

First, having the proper vehicle spares a lot of effort. Most preppers agree that less time you spend on the road, less danger you’ll face along the way. You need a vehicle that is not only fast, protective, and off-road capable, but gas-efficient as well. Whether you go with the family’s sedan or opt for a terrain vehicle, your main goal when bugging out is to get far away as quickly as possible. With that in mind, larger and heavier vehicles are bound to come with a drawback in the fuel department.

More, these types of vehicles stand out like a sore thumb when compared to your everyday cars, trucks, and vans. The ability to remain unnoticeable and safe when navigating through heavily populated and hostile areas, is just as important as your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Still, your vehicle of choice will be largely dependent upon your environment. The choice remains yours whether to purchase a designated bug out vehicle or update your daily commuter car for a SHTF contingency. But regardless of choice, the biggest concern for any bug out vehicle is fuel range. Above all other aspects, a bug out vehicle should be prepared and maintained to provide the best possible fuel economy.

2. Weight Control

For starters, weight is one of the biggest factors deciding a vehicle’s fuel range: an extra 100 pound could reduce your MPG by 1%. Removing any unnecessary equipment, supplies, or people from your car will inevitably translate to lower fuel consumption. That also means stripping the vehicle itself down of any unneeded aftermarket parts. These things reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamics and add weight, which translates to fewer miles.

Some preppers advocate that a bug out vehicle should contain as much food, water, and gear as you can carry. However, your chances of consuming everything on route are quite slim. So is your possibility of taking what’s left with you upon reaching your destination. For that reason, a 72-hour bug out bag for each family member is all the gear you’ll need in the car. Everything else can be found along the way or upon finding safety.

Removing hauling cargo on the roof, for example, reduces wind resistance, and increases fuel economy by 2% to 8% in the city driving, and 6% to 17% on the highway. If you really need to use it for your luggage, opt for rear-mount cargo boxes, which “costs” only 1% to 5% of your fuel economy.

3. Acceleration Control

You can also save on fuel by easing your pressure on the accelerator. Slamming the pedal to the floor every time you accelerate consumes significantly more fuel than applying less and gradual pressure. Most vehicles are also at their most efficient when cruising in their highest gear at a moderately low speed (40-50 mph).

Though your goal will be to get out of dodge as quickly as possible, you should still pay attention to your rate of acceleration and cruising speed. Driving fast may serve to get you out of dodge quickly, but doing so could stop you short of safety if your pedal’s to the metal.

Use cruise control if your car is equipped with this feature, and avoid aggressive driving, as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking waste more energy.

Avoid excessive idling too, considering the fact that it can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and other features that you use at the moment. Actually, turning your engine off when you are waiting in your car saves your money, because it takes only 10 seconds to restart when you need to drive off compared to how much fuel is burned while idling.

4. Tires Pressure & Maintenance

Despite seeming trivial, under-inflated tires can significantly lower a vehicle’s fuel economy by miles per gallon. Keeping them properly inflated will improve your vehicle’s fuel performance. It will also make for much safer travel across on and off-road terrain.

You should always strive to stay current with preventative maintenance on your car. This means the normal fuel, fluid, and filter changes in addition to addressing any engine problems indicated by the light on your dashboard. What may seem like nothing could be a dead oxygen sensor or related emissions problems that keeps your vehicle from performing.

5. Fuel and Engine

In today’s economy, most drivers opt for whatever gas is cheapest at the pump. Though some modern cars suggest using higher-octane fuel, most can still run on regular without any consequential long-term effects.

Cars with superchargers and modified intake systems usually mandate the use of premium gas. But if your car is rated for regular gasoline there’s reason to pay more at the pump.

Diesel engines are something to be considered, as they have much greater lifespan than typical engines and can be run using homemade bio-diesel fuel. In a long-term survival situation, gas could become a scarce commodity and mandate the use of alternate sources of fuel. However, it’s still advised that bug out vehicles running on regular gas carry one or two jerry cans of extra fuel that gets rotated into use regularly.

fuel

And Few More Cold Weather Tips

Remember not to use warmers and defrosters more than necessary. Scraping ice every morning makes you sick? Look for natural, low cost solutions, like parking your car facing east or using a vinegar solution for defrosting your windshields.

Video first seen on Ken Weathers.

Locks freeze, windows and mirrors ice over, tires get stuck – ice and snow are just miserable to deal with first thing in the morning, or at any other time of day for that matter. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Protect your rubber edges with cooking spray to keep them from freezing shot.
  • Blow some hand sanitizer on your car’s lock to defrost it.
  • Use a lighter to heat your car key a little bit before sliding it in the lock.
  • Don’t leave you windshield wipers up overnight so they won’t become stuck to your windshield. Cover them with socks to prevent snow and ice buildup on the wiper blades.
  • Dress your mirrors in plastic bags overnight to prevent them from frosting.
  • If your tires are stuck in the snow in the morning, place a piece of cardboard or your car mats beneath to help them roll.

Deciding to brave the roads during harsh winter, will confront you with challenges along the way, making it necessary to choose a vehicle capable to handle a variety of contingencies. Compromise has to be made, as no bug out vehicle can have it all. There is no such thing as the perfect vehicle, everybody has his opinion and makes his personal choices. Finally, the only thing that makes the difference is your skills.

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This article has been written by Michael Martin for Survivopedia.

References:

https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/powerSearch.jsp

In Cold, Electric Cars Save You Even MORE Money

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Survival Knife Misuse: How To Wear And Tear Your Knives

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Knives misusesRegular knife users have learned to appreciate the versatility and usefulness of their blade. A knife is an essential part of your survival gear. It’s an investment much more than it is a purchase, because when properly taken care of, it may end up lasting a lifetime.

Though not all knives share the same quality standards, one thing is true about the majority of survival knives: they’re designed to withstand regular use for long periods of time. The question is: how should you care for your blade and what are the mistakes to avoid when using it?

12 Common Mistakes When Using Survival Knives

Even the most rudimentary of knives needs to be taken care of, but more often than not, knives become damaged because of improper use and maintenance routines. This may be the result of distraction, inexperience, a lack of proper instruction or carelessness.

But make no mistake: a blade that isn’t properly taken care of will surely become an unusable blade. Let’s first discuss some of the most common mistakes that beginners make when using their knives. What are the bad habits that shorten the lifespan of your knife?

Not Knowing the Limits of Your Knife

Each material has natural limits that it cannot surpass. Knives are not exceptions of this rule. Yes, we may have been brought up in the confidence that knives are wondrous tools capable of withstanding absolutely everything. Similar to Japanese katanas or Thor’s magical hammer, we expect them to perform a plethora of tasks and have completely unrealistic expectations.

Make no mistake, knives are made of steel and steel should also be used with caution. Different knives are created for different purposes. It’s simple: you really can’t use a fillet knife to skin a deer.

Though you may try your hardest, the knife wasn’t designed for that task and will not only perform poorly, but will also have to suffer as a result. So instead of choosing the wrong knife (or an all-purpose-blade for any and all tasks), read up on useful guides on choosing the right knife and work from there.

Not Oiling Your Knife

Many knife enthusiasts regularly oil their blade to ensure that it remains in pristine conditions. You may already be doing this for folding knives (springs and joints), however, you may also apply oil on the blade of your knife. Just use a cloth to apply the oil evenly across the blade. This step is particularly useful in humid areas, where rusting is a concern.

Though the oil you use is subject to personal preference, I recommend Dri-Lube for folding knives. You can find it in any firearm store. Aside from drying on contact, it’s also easy to apply, doesn’t drip or run and will not attract dirt or lint. You’ve surely experienced this with folding knives: they’re simply lint magnets. Be watchful of overspray though.

Failing to Clean Your Knife

Just because you use your knife regularly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also regularly clean it. Running water is often enough, but you must always ensure to dry the knife thoroughly. This is a step that most beginners ignore and end up paying the price for. A knife that isn’t completely dry will never be rust free. Ideally, you should use a cloth that’s used specifically for this purpose.

Also, make sure to not forget your knife in water for longer periods of time.

Depending on your knife’s handle, you may have to also perform other maintenance tasks. Wood handles should be treated with linseed oil while leather handles should be cleaned with leather cleaner. If you own a knife that features a bone handle, never soak it in water.

Knife Abuse and Misuse

There’s a specific purpose for each tool in your toolbox, but this simple concept seems to be lost when it comes to knives. Most people ruin perfectly beautiful knives by substituting them for screwdrivers. Don’t get me wrong, there are emergency situations when there’s no other solution and, despite some whispered objections, such substitutions may be understandable. Anything else is nothing short of abuse.

The tip of your knife is its most delicate part. It’s also the most useful because it makes precision tasks particularly simple to complete. That’s why you should always try to protect the tip. But more often than not, even when a screwdriver is readily available, knives are used in their stead.

Good quality knives won’t wear so easily and may withstand multiple substitution rounds, however, they will become damaged in the long run. Opening cans is another such example. Granted, some multi-purpose knives may be used to open cans, but a high-quality hunting knife, for instance, will certainly suffer.

Steel is a sturdy material, but as previously mentioned, it has its limitations. Steel has certain elastic capabilities, it resists abrasion, corrosion and vibration. But this resistance is limited and you’ll surely damage your blade if and when those limits are exceeded. When a blade is made to pry in small spaces, it is forced in the direction in which its structure is less resistant. This may result in the blade being curled or damaged.

Failing to Sharpen Your Knife

While it may be true that any survival weapon, even a dull knife, is better than none in a situation that demands it, there’s no excuse for not properly sharpening your survival knife. In fact, let’s get one thing straight: even if you own the best survival knife that money can buy, if it’s dull, it simply won’t cut.

A dull knife is just as useful as a fork in a survival situation. This only leads to frustration. Now, in such a sticky situation, there are things that you can do to sharpen your knife. In all others, use the multitude of tools that ensure proper sharpening.

Whetstones are the oldest (and perhaps simplest) way to sharpen knives. Your father, his father and his father before him used whetstones. You’ll want to make sure that you always maintain a consistent contact angle between the whetstone and the knife and respect the angle of sharpening that your knife came with.

Video first seen on How To Make Sushi

Sharpening rods are another popular sharpening system because you only need to position the knife vertically on the sharpening rod and swipe it down while pulling the knife towards you.

Never attempt to sharpen your blade on power-driven grinding wheels, as they burn the temper from your blade. Another common mistake that beginners make is pressing too hard when sharpening their knives against diamond sharpeners. Make sure to read about the best ways to sharpen knives or ask more experienced knife users to show you how it’s done.

Extreme Temperatures

Steel doesn’t only sustain mechanical damage. Extreme temperatures are also harmful to your blade. Sub-zero temperatures can make the steel brittle and increase its sensitivity to vibration and impact. On the other hand, extreme heat may damage the hardening of your blade.

You know that something’s wrong when your blade doesn’t return to its normal color after being cleaned. If it displays shades of dark brown, yellow, or even worse, blue and violet, you know that the hardening is lost. In those portions where the discolorations appear, the steel of the knife is softer and can be damaged with ease.

Ignoring Environmental Influences

Environmental agents are just as likely to corrode a blade, especially if the steel is non-stainless steel. Some knives come with their own holster, but consider protecting your blade if you don’t want it damaged.

Overlooking the Handle

Your knife’s handle is also important: water, glues, humidity and chemicals can all damage it. More importantly, in the case of folding knives, failing to regularly inspect the pins is another mistake that beginners tend to make.

Improper Storage

Knives are meant to be used, however, there are moments when you simply don’t use your knife. Simply abandoning a knife in a shelf will do a lot of harm. Ideally, you should store a knife in a shaded and protected area.

Make sure that it’s not exposed to direct sunlight or humidity (as moisture affects the blade) and don’t store the knife inside a leather sheath as it attracts moisture and creates pits on the blade.

Failing to Repair Your Knife

A knife is bound to take the occasional beating, however, most knife owners will hurry and repair the blade themselves instead of taking it to an authorized technician. Note that some high-quality knives have a lifetime warranty that becomes void when you attempt to repair them.

Using the Blade as a Makeshift Fire-Striker

Granted, we already cautioned against using a knife for anything other than its intended purpose, but this particular case is worth drawing attention to. I’m what you call a knife elitist: knives are tools that must be cherished and taken care of, however, there are some who believe that they are mere instruments to be used however their owner sees fit.

This is something I strongly disagree with. I’ve seen people using the blade of their knives when lighting a fire with ferro rods. Damage to the blade is guaranteed. More importantly, it’s a shame to disrespect a blade like that.

Using the Knife as a Makeshift Shovel

This also happens. But chances are that your knife will come into contact with hard rocks that will end up chipping your blade. You’re better off avoiding this altogether.

Did we miss anything? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Interested in improving your safety? CLICK HERE to find out more!

This article has been written for Survivopedia by J. Thomas Roberts from Knifeista.

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The DOs And DON’Ts Of Gun Cleaning

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Gun CleaningDo you really want to give intruders or others with harmful intent an opportunity to harm you or your family members just because your guns are so dirty they misfire or jam up at the worst possible moment? I bet you don’t.

Make time to clean your weapons and get into the habit of doing so regularly. And take a good look at the article below so you could do it right and safe!

Never Use Gasoline and Kerosene to Clean Guns

Gasoline and kerosene are two very flammable and dangerous chemicals to clean your firearms with, because using them can cause a fire hazard and also damage the metal finish.

Gun bluing and other metal finishes can be damaged or removed from all metal parts of the firearm. On rifles, pistols, and shotguns, the use of gasoline or kerosene to clean the stocks can remove the stock finish if it is painted or lacquered.

In the past, I have personally seen people who have clean their weapons with gasoline or kerosene and forgot they were smoking. These individuals were very lucky because when the firearms flash fired, they weren’t burned too badly, but they did singe the hair off their arms and hands.

The only good thing about this incident was that it burned off all the useless oil and soften the cosmoline on the outside of the weapons. Unfortunately the weapons sustained minor burning of the stocks and slight damaged to the gun bluing.

Also the use of very strong solvents or strippers can remove the finishes on all metal parts and all wooden or plastic stock parts. In some cases, the solvents or strippers can damage the plastics of the stock furniture set and make them soft or worse, even dissolve them.

Remember that dumb moment from “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” movie when the old lady soaked the pistol in the kitchen sink because it was all greasy and “full of dirt”? Well, never ever do this with you gun!

Hot water and dish washing detergents will cause rusting of the metal parts of the action and the barrels. If you were to soak wooden stocks for a long time to remove grease, dirt, grime, or cosmoline, there is a good chance of warping the wooden stock.

Cleaning Cosmoline

When buying new guns or surplus rifles, pistols, or shotguns it is very important to remove the cosmoline or other metal and wood protectors that are used to shield the weapon from moisture and rust. When removing these protectors on new weapons, it is much easier because in most cases it is nothing more than a thin coating of a lubricant to protect all of the surfaces.

In surplus weapons that have been stored for many years, the cosmoline or other protectors may have turned almost into a solid heavy waxy substance. There is no easy way to remove this cosmoline. To clean these weapons, you must do it slowly and take your time to have the job done, and use one of the following ways to remove this substance.

WD-40

Use WD-40 and spray it heavily on the metal and the wooden parts. WD-40 will easily strip any cosmoline that is on the stock or the metal parts of the weapons. Simply spray on the WD-40 and then just wipe off the cosmoline.

You will need lots of rags or paper towels that can be used to remove the cosmoline as it is dissolved from the wood or metal. A plastic scraper will also help you when cleaning the stock. The plastic scraper will remove large quantities of the WD-40 and cosmoline mixture at one time saving you rags and paper towels.

Remember to clean not only the outside the stock but the inside as well. At this point, a good safety check of the stock, the action, and barrel assemblies would be a good idea. When cleaning the barrels of surplus and modern weapons that have cosmoline on them, you must be sure to get all of the cosmoline out of the barrel.

Failure to get all the cosmoline out of the barrel can cause a barrel obstruction that could lead to the damage of the barrel or physical injury to the shooter.

Another way to clean cosmoline off surplus weapons that are heavily preserved is to use mineral spirits. When using mineral spirits, it is safe for all wood parts of the weapons and also the metal parts. Mineral spirits, like WD-40, will dissolve the cosmoline on all wood and metal parts. The mineral spirits are a little bit expensive but it will work quicker then WD-40.

When you have removed all the cosmoline with mineral spirits you need to oil all metal parts when finished. For the wooden stocks just wipe dry and then air dry to remove any vapors from the mineral spirits. When finished, oil all wooden stock parts with a good stock oil of your choice.

Using a Heat Gun

heat gunThe use of a heat gun is another way to remove cosmoline from firearms. For the heat gun to work effectively on removing the cosmoline, the heat gun must be set at approx 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best way to use the heat gun is to go back and forth over an area and then wipe off with paper towels or rags. The heat gun method can also be used on metal parts by going back and forth over the cleaning area.

When using a heat gun to remove cosmoline be ready to spend a couple of hours cleaning the wooden and the metal parts properly.

Using Plastic Bags

There are some people who use black plastic garbage bags to help soften the cosmoline on surplus weapons. To do this you first wrap all the wooden parts in paper towels. Be sure the paper towels are tight and every nook and cranny of the underside of the stock.

After the paper towel layers are about three to five layers thick use masking tape to hold the paper towels in place. Next place the wooden stock parts that are wrapped in paper towels and place them in the black plastic bag.

You can put this black plastic bag in the bright sunlight where the sun will heat the black plastic bag. As the temperature in the bag rises, the cosmoline will soften.

After a few hours, take the wrapped wooden stock parts out of the bag and remove the paper towels. Wipe the excess cosmoline off all the wooden parts. The amount of cosmoline on the wooden parts will determine how many times you must wrap up the wooden stock parts and place them in the black plastic bag.

Using the Oven

In the past, I have also used an old oven to bake off the cosmoline. I would not recommend doing this with your primary cooking stove because cosmoline can be very sticky, and when melted, the odor will be hard to remove without a good stove cleaning.

Set the heat at 150 to 175 degrees and put the rifle stock on the middle rack of the oven. To keep the oven clean, I recommend putting aluminum foil to catch any drip of the cosmoline. When the wooden stock begins to sweat and the cosmoline is loose, use rags or paper towels to remove the cosmoline from the wooden stock or other wooden parts.

While using this method it is very important to stay with the stove and keep an eye on it to make sure that no wood or the cosmoline catches fire in the stove.

I have seen people who were cleaning surplus weapons with heavy cosmoline just do a light cleaning. They didn’t realize that the cosmoline was still in the lands and grooves on the rifling of the rifle barrel.

After they cleaned the action and stripped the wood, they took the weapon to the firing range to shoot it. Because the weapon was not cleaned properly, when they loaded the weapon for test firing, they forgot to check the barrel before firing the rifle.

For safety sake a string was tied to the trigger to fire the weapon, which was tied down to a rifle rest. When the rifle was fired, there suddenly appeared a large bulge in the rifle barrel, and the rifle was blown into many pieces because of a grease obstruction in the barrel.

Most people do not realize how high the pressure is in a center fire rifle when it is fired. If the owner of the rifle had been sitting behind the rifle when it was fired, the odds are that he would have been killed!

Because nobody was sitting behind the rifle on the test fire bench, nobody was hurt or injured. The only thing that was damaged beyond repair was the surplus rifle. It was not a very expensive lesson, for the surplus rifle was only worth about $75 at the time.

Why It Is Important to Clean All the Parts of Your Firearm

Every major firearms manufacturer provides detailed information on the proper methods used to disassemble, clean, and reassemble the guns they produce, and this information is usually packaged with the firearm.

If this information is not present with the firearm at the point of purchase, it is advisable to ask the manufacturer for this info or where it may be obtained. For safety reasons, the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning, maintenance, and care should always be followed.

Be sure that you clean all the recommended parts of the weapon, because this is not the time to be lazy or to take any shortcuts. But don’t jump to the other extreme, and go below disassembling the firearm beyond what the manufacturer recommends.

In some firearms, going beyond what is recommended can void your warranty because the weapon cannot be reassembled without special tools, and can possibly pose a danger to the shooter if the weapon is not correctly reassembled.

It is very possible that the weapon looks like it was reassembled correctly, but was not. Aside from maiming or injuring the shooter, there is a possibility of breaking parts or destroying the weapon.

Sometimes when people get lazy or do not clean a semiautomatic action correctly, some problems may occur. The ordinary action of a firearm releases fine particles of gunpowder, metals, and other contaminates into the receiver and barrel of a firearm, which may cause malfunctions. In rarer cases, extreme buildup may cause the firearm to explode upon being fired.

Slamfiring is a malfunction caused by a heavy buildup of dirt, grime, and other contaminates in such a way that a semiautomatic may temporarily and involuntarily become fully automatic – ie it will fire repeatedly without another pull of the trigger until the firearm is out of ammunition.

10 Tips for a Safe Gun Cleaning

  • Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded. It seems like every few weeks there is an article in the paper, or a story on the news about an accidental death from a firearm. Many times this occurs when the weapon is being cleaned, when the person did not realize it was loaded, and it went off. To avoid this happening to you while cleaning your gun, always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
  • Never point at anything you wouldn’t shoot at to begin with. Even if you have removed the magazine and emptied the chamber, only point your gun at things you are okay with shooting at.
  • Disassemble your gun in a safe place. Interior walls don’t stop bullets, so know what lies behind them. Safely cleaning a gun means making sure that if an accidental firing were to happen, nothing you value would be damaged.
  • Slow down. Cleaning your gun is not something you rush. When you rush, mistakes can happen. Clean your gun when you can give it your full focus and attention. Be methodical. It is best to clean your gun when you can be alone, without interruption or distraction from others.
  • If you don’t want to kill, injure, or maim, don’t let the muzzle of the gun point at a living thing even if in your mind you only think you are in the process of cleaning your gun. The gun is like any other machine, it will do exactly what you make it do within the limits of its mechanical tolerances and condition: if you pull the trigger and there is a bullet, then the gun will fire at whatever the muzzle is pointing at. This seems like common sense, yet many gun owners point the gun in irresponsible direction while cleaning; and then spend the rest of their lives wishing they could take that bullet back.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed at the ground during any kind of transport, and pay attention to what would be hit if the gun were to fire.
  • When cleaning your gun, keep your hand away from the trigger. Once you are ready to clean that area, deliberately pick a target (even though the gun is empty), and keep your gun aimed there while cleaning. In other words, if the firearm was to fire, where would an acceptable place be for a bullet to go? Aim it there before you ever allow your finger near a trigger.
  • Reassemble with care. Keep ammunition away from the gun while reassembling, and reassemble with the same care and precision used to disassemble. Again, only point the gun at something you are okay with destroying.
  • Return to safe or case immediately. Do not leave a gun out after it has been cleaned. The sooner it is returned to a locked case or safe after cleaning, the lower the risk of accident and injury.
  • Sometimes when people are cleaning 22 caliber rifles or pistols with a multi-section cleaning rod they push the cleaning rod too far out the front of the muzzle of the rifle or pistol. This could cause the crown at the end of the barrel to be slowly chipped and damaged over time in such a way that it can cause loss of accuracy. The spot that actually does the damage to the crown is where the jag on the cleaning rod is screwed in. Push the cleaning rod to the end of the barrel crown, and then make sure that only the jag (but not the area where the jag is screwed in) exits the rifle barrel.

cleaning gun

What Are the Golden Rules of Gun Cleaning?

Definitely, the first golden rules of gun cleaning is safety.

  • Always handle any firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Always make sure your firearms are not loaded before cleaning, storing or traveling.
  • Always be sure that the gun is unloaded with the action open and a magazine out. Remove all live ammunition from the cleaning area. This includes any ammunition that might be in the magazines.
  • Be sure you know how to disassemble the firearm you are working on. If you do not, review the manufacturer’s manual for the weapon you are working on before you start to disassemble the weapon.
  • Before loading any firearms be sure that the barrel bore, chamber, and action are clean and clear of obstructions.
  • Always wear safety glasses when cleaning firearms.
  • Always keep and store your firearms and ammunition in locked receptacles out of reach and sight of children and untrained people.
  • Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used or by the number of rounds that the manufacturer suggests.
  • A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
  • Remember to only lubricate those parts of your firearms that require it.

What Are the Killing DON’Ts in Gun Cleaning?

  • Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while cleaning your firearms. Alcohol, as well as any other substance that is likely to impair normal mental or physical function must not be used before or while handling or cleaning firearms.
  • Never indulge in “horseplay” while holding your firearms.
  • Never take anyone’s word that a gun is unloaded.
  • Always make sure that your firearms are not loaded before laying it down, or handing it to another person.
  • Never abuse your firearms by using it for any purpose other than shooting.
  • Never leave a firearm cocked and ready to fire unattended in the cleaning area.
  • When reassembling a firearm after cleaning be sure not to force parts back together. If they do not fit, disassemble the parts that you tried to assemble and look for the proper fit.
  • After cleaning your firearms do not forget to use the proper lubricant on the slide rails, the barrel, or any other internal parts that need to be lubricated.
  • If your pistol has a bushing, be sure that the bushing is properly seated in the slide of the gun.
  • If you don’t clean your pistol or revolver after every range shooting session, then you should at least lubricate them. If you do not, you may cause over heating or freezing up of the pistol or revolver.
  • Not keeping your firearms lubricated can cause excess wear of the metal on metal contact points of the pistols and other firearms.

It is crucial that when you are cleaning your firearms, do not make the common mistakes that sometimes occur when people are distracted or don’t know how to disassemble the firearm they are working on. Gun cleaning –same as shooting – is a serious task.

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This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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