Book Review: Ditch Medicine

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Anyone can go online and order sutures, quick clot, and fish antibiotics, and a quick trip to the co-op can net you all sorts of neat medical trinkets. If your willing to spend the money you can buy all sorts of high adventure medical kits, or military medic kits, but knowing how to use them is another thing altogether.  That is where Ditch Medicine: Advanced Field Procedures For Emergencies fits in. Ditch Medicine’s author, Hugh Coffee as been in emergency medicine since 1985 – and has been a swat medic for the last 10 years. He spends a lot of

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7 Terrifying Realities Of Long-Term Blackouts (That You’ve Probably Never Considered)

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Before we get into our list, lets first describe exactly what is meant by a long-term blackout. does not characterize power outages by short and long term. They merely

The post 7 Terrifying Realities Of Long-Term Blackouts (That You’ve Probably Never Considered) appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

Off-Grid Dental Care and Emergencies!

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Off-Grid Dental Care and Emergencies!

Off-Grid Dental Care and Emergencies
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!

This  Herbal Prepper Live show explores the preventative and emergency dental care for off-grid scenarios. Preppers tend to think a lot about what life would be if there were no doctor, hospital, or pharmacy around. This week, we’re looking at strategies if there is no dentist or commercially-prepared dental hygiene products available.

Herbal Dental Care

Listen to this broadcast or download “Off-Grid Dental Care and Emergencies” in player below!

Continue reading Off-Grid Dental Care and Emergencies! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Guest Post: 5 Common Dog Health Emergencies and Tips to Combat Them

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As pet-parents our dog’s safety and well-being is the utmost priority.  Any parent’s worst nightmare would be seeing their dog in pain. But we all know that our canines are inquisitive creatures and can get themselves in trouble. They may get into a fight, suffer an injury or end up licking toxins. Panicking or stressing out in such situations can make things worse. So it’s recommended to be fully equipped mentally as well as physically to provide your dog instant first-aid. Here are five dog health emergencies and tips to combat them. Fracture Your dog may fracture his bones due

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Most Common Plumbing Emergencies and Disasters

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Plumbing emergencies are among the most expensive sources of headaches that homeowners have to deal with. Too many homeowners have discovered, first hand, what it’s like to fork out thousands of dollars to repair the damages caused by these disasters. And in many cases, prevention could have played a huge role. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid and address the most common plumbing issues. 1. Sewer System Backup A backed-up sewer system is one of the most regular plumbing issues to deal with and is never pleasant to be around. Sewage backups are almost always related to the

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Denial and Inaction – Why Normalcy Bias?

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By Denis Korn

You life depends on being awake!

In the over 40 years that I have been involved in the emergency preparedness industry one fundamental question always emerges – especially after a significant disaster – why are so many people in denial of a possible or impending disaster when to many others it seems self-evident?  Then the next questions emerge – why are so many unprepared and what prevents people from implementing the necessary actions to protect and provide for themselves, family or business?   Is it a lack of information and initiative, funding, time, fear, lack of common sense or all of the above?   Or perhaps there is something else.

The answer appears to be Normalcy Bias.

So what is normalcy bias and what can be done to address its effects?  Business leaders, government agencies, security workers, firefighters and police, emergency management personnel and anyone involved in emergency/disaster preparedness want to know – how can vulnerable citizens be motivated to take responsibility for their own safety and protection in the event of a significant emergency?


A definition and explanation from Wikipedia:

— “The normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

The normalcy bias may be caused in part by the way the brain processes new data. Research suggests that even when the brain is calm, it takes 8–10 seconds to process new information. Stress slows the process, and when the brain cannot find an acceptable response to a situation, it fixates on a single solution that may or may not be correct. An evolutionary reason for this response could be that paralysis gives an animal a better chance of surviving an attack; predators are less likely to eat prey that isn’t struggling.

The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans. Even when all these things are in place, individuals with a normalcy bias often refuse to leave their homes. Studies have shown that more than 70% of people check with others before deciding to evacuate.

The normalcy bias also causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right, while information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reason to believe there is a risk. This creates a cognitive dissonance that they then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the danger. The possibility that some may refuse to evacuate causes significant problems in disaster planning.” —


Normalcy bias can be expanded to include a wide variety of non-response/denial reactions to the events that occur in everyday life.  This is especially prevalent given the uncertainties and fears of the social, economic, educational and governmental breakdowns in our contemporary culture.  Having taught college critical thinking courses, I have studied and observed the inability of most folks to critically think through an important or serious situation – too few critically think, they react – or worst yet – they do nothing.

With so many natural and economic disasters happening currently we often witness the tragic results of normalcy bias.  People unwilling to get out of harm’s way – people unprepared to cope with the aftermath of a catastrophe – people totally dependent on the government, charity and others – fear, helplessness and misery.

We here of people being warned of impending disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires, yet there is needless suffering, death and injury because of inaction or of acting too late.  I am always disappointed with people when it is reported that at the last minute so many stores are sold out of essential survival and preparedness supplies.

A primary attitude of one with normalcy bias is that the disaster or catastrophe is truly regrettable, and it will not happen to me but unfortunately it will happen to others.  The person refuses to believe that they also are subject to misfortune and potential suffering.  Tragedy always seems to happen to other folks.

The classic example in recent history is the unfortunate suffering and death of countless Jews during the Holocaust.  During the rise of Nazi persecution, the majority of Jews could not or would accept the reality of the moment and inaction was devastating.

Those suffering from normalcy bias are unable and/or unwilling to accept the responsibility of acknowledging the reality surrounding them – and taking the appropriate and prudent action.  They are in the hands of providence.

What to do?

If I had a simple answer to this question the world would probably be beating a path to my door.  Overcoming normalcy bias, denial and lack of motivation is not only difficult, it requires a level of strength and determination that is counter to so much of the indoctrination of contemporary society – which fails to support personal responsibility and self-reliance.

I will however offer some suggestions to address this debilitating condition of normalcy bias – this is serious stuff – your life and the life of loved ones and associates may depend on understanding what it takes to act!

  1. Acknowledge that you or another you care for experiences normalcy bias or denial.  Become educated as to the effects this condition has on your life.
  2. Understand that honesty is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness or contingency planning.  Although it is difficult to confront the reality of the potential scenarios that might occur causing a catastrophe, denial will not make it all go away.
  3. Seek the support and advice of knowledgeable, compassionate and responsible friends, colleagues and industry leaders.
  4. Embrace the peace of mind that results from knowing you have taken the initiative to act on behalf of family, friends or employees if you manage a business.
  5. Pray, reflect, or meditate about the value of being prepared for the consequences of unforeseen and probable emergencies or disasters, and critically think about the specific action steps to take.
  6. Research and evaluate your options.
  7. Remember that emergency and disaster preparedness planning requires addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those experiencing a traumatic and stressful event.
  8. Utilize the guidelines, suggestions and information at Learn To Prepare.  Especially the strategy outlined in my article Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning.
  9. Attitude is Everything!  I want to encourage and support all of you who choose to move forward and be prepared and effective.

The post Denial and Inaction – Why Normalcy Bias? appeared first on Learn To Prepare – Expert Emergency Preparedness Information.

How to Use Google Earth to Make Your Home More Secure For Your Family

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how to use google earth home securityThe capabilities of Google Earth should terrify you. Input an address, any address, in this website and the location pops up in all its 3-D glory. Your vehicles may show up, your backyard with its playset, even, possibly, you in the pool or sunbathing. Without a doubt, Google’s intrusion on our privacy is just beginning. This article provides more in-depth information as to what Google Maps and Google Earth are capable of.

On a whim, I decided to turn the tables on Google Earth, just a bit, and use it for my own purposes. I pulled up our address on Google Earth, and took several screenshots — one of our entire town, a few of my general neighborhood, then a couple of my street, and 2 very close shots of my home, with the idea of using these screenshots to help with my prepping and planning.

Once I created these screenshots, I went to work to figure out how I could best secure and prep my home and our property. This turned out to be an eye-opening experience, and I highly recommend you do the same, as I explain in this article.

For the purpose of this article, I selected a general area in Glendale, Arizona, to illustrate this process as I put Google Earth to work to help with my home security and prepping plans.

SCREENSHOTS #1 and 2: Overview of town

First, grab some screenshots that provide a broad overview of your town, showing highways and other large features.

I can easily see at a glance all major highways and thoroughfares, as well as locations that tend to bring in a lot of traffic, such as churches, a college, sports arenas, a large city park, etc. Glendale, Arizona, is in a desert, so there are no lakes, rivers, dams, bridges, or other features that might have security implications.

This screenshot is valuable in the insights it provides for planning evacuations. In this next screenshot, you get an idea of how difficult, and futile, it would be to try and evacuate should a worst case scenario occur. Unless you live on the far outskirts of this massive city, you can kiss your rear end goodbye — you ain’t goin’ nowhere. If traffic on the very few highways doesn’t kill you, then the miles of surrounding desert will.

In the photo above, imagine that just 30% of the population realizes the need to evacuate. In the screenshot of your own town, take one street at a time, and mark every third house. After just 3 or 4 streets, you’ll soon realize the difficulties with any evacuation. The sheer number of people on the road, even less than 30%, will be staggering in a city the size of the greater Phoenix area.

In the second screenshot, how many routes out of town do you see? There’s I-10, heading east/west, I-17, heading north and south, the 101 loop, that kind of goes nowhere you’d want to go in a major crisis, and then the 51 that meanders through the northern part of Phoenix, again, offering no real escape route.

Take a couple of similar screenshots of your own town. What obvious routes in and out do you see? If you were a terrorist or some other really bad guy, how quickly could you block traffic both in and out of your town or neighborhood? If you aren’t surrounded by impassable deserts, what other natural features might offer challenges? Answers to these questions become more obvious when viewed from many thousands of feet above earth. Thank you, Google Earth!

SCREENSHOT #3 and 4: Zooming in to your neighborhood

This view is where Google Earth really pays off, because now I can identify more specific potential threats as well as sources of help. This neighborhood is similar to one my family lived in (same area), and I’m highlighting the house in the large red box for training purposes, as they say. Let’s review this map using the letter markings I’ve placed in a few key locations.

A: This marks the closest major highway, Loop 101. This is usually the fastest way to get out of town from this point but in a catastrophic event, the highway will shut down in less than 10 minutes. Sheer numbers of people, vehicle accidents, vehicle breakdowns — it’s just not a viable route out of town, unless I’m in front of the very first wave. A while back, I wrote this article about the importance of being in the first wave, and it would be good to review that information now.

B: In the case of this particular neighborhood, there’s a large park to the northeast. That park could become home to vagrants, but it could also become a neighborhood garden or meeting place. Unfortunately, there is no natural water source here as there would be in other parts of the country. In your own Google Earth screenshots, look for natural water features.

C: From the central point of this home, there are 2 possible directions for leaving the driveway. Pulling back a bit, you can see that leaving the neighborhood isn’t all that easy.

If this were my house, I could go to the right and quickly get on a street that would get me out of the neighboorhood. Perhaps not to safety, but at least out of the immediate area. If I turn left from this driveway, I have to take the long way around, and if the emergency is happening in real time, how many others will be pulling out of their driveaways with the same thought in mind.

Again, think about that 30% of people knowing, or being able, to evacuate. Just in this very small segment of a town, that is a LOT of people! Here is where having a few alternate forms of transportation comes in handy. Bicycles could be passed over a fence or wall, allowing for a quick exit. Motorcyles, street bikes, and even hoofing it out on foot — take all those options into consideration when looking for best evacuation routes.

By the way, this book about emergency evacuations has some of the most helpful and most specific information I’ve found on the subject.

D: I marked a cul-de-sac because these are very common features in neighborhoods. They are desirable for many reasons, but in an evacuation, you could become trapped. It’s also important to know where those cul-de-sacs are, so you don’t inadvertently make a turn into one, ending up in a dead end.

E:  This house has an apartment complex immediately behind it. I used to live in an apartment and bear no ill will toward anyone who does, but the fact that apartments are points of high density population increases the potential that criminal types of one form or another could be on the other side of this backyard fence. As well, in a food or water shortage, the obvious source of anything necessary to survival are the homes immediately surrounding the apartment complex.

One other notation I made on Screenshot #3 are red stars highlighting the homes and neighbors that I knew well and/or figured I could possibly count on in an emergency. Using another past neighborhood I lived in, the house to the left is home to a very preparedness-minded Mormon family my kids were friends with, and to the right, was a couple in their 50’s, very active in the shooting sports and also prepper-minded. Due to my keen observation skills, I happen to know that the house on the far left corner is home to a retired member of the U.S. Army — the dead giveaway being the ARMY t-shirt he wears when he mows the lawn. Across the street are 2 former policemen.

Now, there’s no way to know FOR SURE how anyone will react in a severe crisis, including myself, but by getting to know neighbors and just watching for signs of homes/individuals that have military or law-enforcement careers (past or present) as well as various tradespeople (such as the electric company lineman who lives on the next street), it’s all very helpful information to have.

Your next screenshot should be one that encompasses your own street as well as a handful of streets on all sides. Make a note of “friendlies” and, in some cases, “hostiles” — people you already know will cause problems in the aftermath of a major natural disaster or, God forbid, a longterm power outage. It’s better to be aware of this possibility than to let your guard down and become too trusting. With this screenshot, also look for entrances to your neighborhood. How many ways could someone in a vehicle or on foot, get access to your neighborhood or your street? What could you do to prevent entry to your property or, at least, slow them down?

SCREENSHOT #4: Zoom in on your own home from different points of view

In this screenshot, I’ve isolated the target home and noted windows, doors, and a couple of problem areas. To the left are massive trees and bushes that provide handy cover for intruders. In the hot Arizona sun, they also provide some shade to that side of the house, so if I lived here, I’d have to decide whether or not to trim the trees, cut them down, or enjoy the shade.

Another issue is the obvious lack of space between houses. A group of criminals could easily move from one house to the next, stealing, vandalizing, etc. Would it be possible to raise the height of these 2 block fences or take some other measure to discourage any invaders from entering the property, such as planting rose bushes or cacti?

This view is helpful when planning a home fire evacuation with the kids. Pull up this view on Google Earth and show them exactly where they should exit and where the family meeting point will be.

SCREENSHOT #5: Close shot of the house/property front

It’s easy to maneuver the Google Earth screen to focus on the front of a house or property, the back, even the sides, and I encourage you to do that in order to look for other security issues, in particular.

If this house was on a bigger piece of land, I could also look for best locations for outbuildings, a garden, fruit trees, etc.


One of the reasons I wanted to move my family from the Phoenix area is depicted in Screenshot #2 — the massive deserts surrounding the city, the high density population, obvious lack of natural water sources, and the very few roads leading out of the city.

However, none of us live in an ideal location. Our current town was devasted by floods following Hurricane Harvey in August, 2017. Although we have plenty of natural water sources now, they present their own challenges.

Your living situation is probably different — perhaps mountains with only a few roads passing through, miles of flat terrain, high-density population centers, swamps, you name it. Using Google Earth maps will show features and challenges you might not know exist.

I highly recommend using Google Earth to analyze your own prepping and security challenges. Are there any strategies I overlooked?

UPDATE: After posting this, I realized that I need to go through these same steps with my workplace location — identifying safe areas for evacuation, routes home, etc. I suggest you do the same for yourself and any loved ones who work away from home or go to school.

The post How to Use Google Earth to Make Your Home More Secure For Your Family appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Three Layers of 72 Hour Preparedness

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The first 72 hours following any disaster are the most critical, but it’s also during those intial hours that emergency services and personnel are stretched to the limit. With a system of carefully planned 72 Hour Kits, your family can be self-sufficient until help arrives. 72 Hour Kits, or Bug Out Bags, are those handy-dandy, all-in-one […]

Hurricane Items You Must Have Before It Hits

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We really need to get the word out to everyone now before we have another hurricane, and we will, it is inevitable. This year has been a rough year for so many families because of all the damage that comes with the strong winds and rain from a hurricane. We saw Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to name just two of many we’ve seen. Some people were prepared in some ways, but we can never be prepared for the aftermath so many people had to deal with this year. Some people lost their family members, homes, their food storage, emergency preps and many personal things they can never replace.

Here’s the deal, some people are still cleaning up the mess from the flooding, the downed trees, the mold, and dealing with FEMA and their insurance companies. It will take months, and possibly a few years, to restore some of the areas so they are livable again.

I still feel strongly that I need to remind people to start their food and water storage if they haven’t already. So many of us are very prepared because we get it. But, there are still people who don’t get it. You would think after seeing the news that people throughout the country would understand we need to be prepared. I was glued to The Weather Channel for weeks, talk about heart-wrenching.

We may live in areas that don’t have storms like those we’ve seen, many have fires, flooding, and earthquakes, to name just a few disasters. Please start with some of the things I have listed below, today, not tomorrow. If you are comfortable with talking with your neighbors, please get together, they may be your new best friends after an unforeseen emergency. Trust me on that one, I have personally been through a few disasters.

This is a very short list, but if you just pick and choose the ones you can do ASAP, that would be wonderful.

Hurricane Items

Important Documents Binder

Free Download Binder Contents by Linda


You know the drill, one-gallon per person per day as recommended by The American Red Cross. I recommend 4-gallons per person per day. You can never have too much water. Add a water purifier and you rock.


Survival Food Storage by Linda

72-Hour Kits

Linda’s 72-hour Kits Lists

Extra Clothing/Shoes

If you become wet, having an extra set of dry clothes, jackets, underwear, socks, and shoes would be awesome.


Mylar blankets are great, quilts are awesome.

Cash-Small Bills

If the power is out, the ATM’s will be closed, the gas pumps will not work. If you need to buy something and if anything is available to buy you will need small bills.

Keep your gas tank at least 3/4 full

Please keep your tanks as full as possible, you do not want to be in line waiting for gas and then find out the gas pumps are empty.

N-95 Masks

I have so many of these stockpiled because I learned in my C.E.R.T. class that you can never have too many masks. I listened and followed instructions.


I have so many boxes of non-latex gloves, it’s almost embarrassing, but that’s how I roll. I hate germs and bacteria.

Portable Potty

This is one thing I will not share, every one must have their own porta-potty, thank you very much, just letting you know ahead of time. Linda’s Portable Toilet

Toilet Paper

Need I say more, we all need it.

Diapers/Baby Bottles/Baby Food

You may not have a baby in your family, but your neighbor may have a baby she is unable to care for after a disaster and having a few diapers, whether disposable or cloth, would be a blessing. I would need pacifiers for a baby, I raised my girls on pacifiers and they are awesome!

Baby Wipes

Even if the baby wipe contents dry out just fill it with water, they will be great wipes again.

Paper Towels

I store some paper towels, but I started using these to save money. I love that they are thin and I wash them once a week and rarely use paper towels. Thin Cloth Diapers

Hand Sanitizer/Hand Soap

Clean hands, clean hands, clean hands. We have to be able to keep the bacteria under control after a disaster.

Portable Washing Machine

Now, this can be buckets, wash tubs or whatever works for you. If we lose power for an extended period of time, I want clean underwear at the very least. Linda’s Portable Washers

Clothesline with Clothespins

Here’s the deal, if we lose power for an extended period of time, we will need to wash our clothes and hang them up. Yup, clean underwear at the very least. Here is one Amish large folding dryer I bought a few years ago: Lehman’s Dryer.

Cleaning Supplies

Bleach is #1 and gloves to protect your hands and every cleaning product you like to use. I have all of them, trust me.

Personal hygiene supplies

Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shavers, hand soap, deodorant and anything that will make you feel awesome after getting dirty cleaning up a muddy house or another unforeseen disaster.

Women/Girls Monthly Menstrual Supplies

Tampons, menstrual pads, even if you don’t need them, I promise there will be someone who can use them if the store shelves are empty.

Flashlights-one for every family member

Be sure and have batteries if you buy the battery operated units. Solar ones are great because they do not need batteries.

First Aid Kit

Linda’s First Aid Kit

Benue mentioned: My daughter tells me that her dad recently went through 2 CATEGORY 5’s and weeks after, he is still on the island and tells her that there is an incredible amount of glass fragments in the wind, on the sand, on the leaves, etc. As he is working to clear up debris, he is getting cut up all over his body.

Pat reminded me: make sure you add tweezers so you can pull out glass shards. The ones in the first aid kits are typically not high quality.

Phone Chargers

The one in your car will work or use a solar one.

I hope we all get one new item this week to add to our hurricane emergency preparedness stash. We will never forget the horrific storms people have dealt with this year and previous storms from years past. Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected.

Frank’s Suggestions:

He has family in Puerto Rico. You really need to read his comment.

Canned Milk

Canned Meat

“C” and “D” Batteries

Battery powered fans (plus lots of batteries)

Battery powered radios (plus lots of batteries)

Power Inverters

Charge Controllers

Solar Panels

Food Storage In A Small House by Linda

My Favorite Things:

Goal Zero Solar Generators

Goal Zero Solar Flashlights

Dutch Ovens

Kevin’s Clothespins

The post Hurricane Items You Must Have Before It Hits appeared first on Food Storage Moms.

Nuclear Protection Supplies

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If you value preparedness you probably have most of the supplies you’ll need to survive pretty much anything that befalls you. The fact is, while there’s a huge variety of

The post Nuclear Protection Supplies appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

Essential Home and Vehicle Emergency Kit and Family Preparedness Information

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By Denis Korn

Franklin quote

This post -Essential Home and Vehicle Emergency Kit and Family Preparedness Information – is one of the most important posts I have presented.  I am posting it again in light of the recent devastating floods in Houston and surrounding areas.  The timeliness of this information can not be over stated!  The uncertainty of the times requires appropriate preparation and answering the questions contained in this article.  It is a valuable companion to another important post Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning – Including Vehicle Preparedness – Latest Update

I feel it is very important to also include one of my Foundational Articles titled Is your entire family prepared for emergencies at all times?  It appears at the end of this post. 

You are highly encouraged to share this post and its vital information with family, friends, business associates, church and temple congregations and other members of any organizations to which you belong.  May this post help you in your serious preparedness planning.  Celebrate Peace of Mind!

Here are the crucial questions to answer when assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag – which is essential if you must leave your home or business quickly.

  • If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
  • If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relatives house?
  • Am I clear on the circumstances and scenarios that may arise that will require me to evacuate versus the circumstances that would compel me to stay put and hunker down?
  • If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go? How far? How do I get there?
  • What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
  • What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter? What is the season?
  • Will I be alone, or are others depending on me? Family – children – elderly – pets?
  • Am I dependent on others? Who? Why? Do I expect the government to take care of me?
  • What kind of support is likely to be available?
  • How long should I prepare for?
  • What if there is nothing left when I return?
  • Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
  • Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moment’s notice?
  • What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
  • Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
  • Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
  • Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial?

To have a truly adequate emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag the above questions must be answered. Your personal preparedness bag contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, mobility, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.

Here is a list of the basic essentials for every kit. Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions. Cheap, inadequate and poorly made provisions don’t belong in a quality kit. Prepare your kit as if you and your family’s life and comfort depended on it – because it does!

  1. Water – bottled/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
  3. Medical – quality medical kit with instructions/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/sunscreen/dental medic/foot care/safety pins/dust mask/gas mask
  4. Special Needs – food/medical/children/elderly/disabled/pets
  5. Tools – multi-tool/knife/wire/cable ties/duct tape/rope/paracord/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/ /manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords/foldable or wire saw
  6. Communication – radio/hand crank – solar – battery/two-way radios/cell phone
  7. Fire – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/lightsticks
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
  11. Shelter – tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting/insect protection
  12. Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy sack
  13. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
  14. Plastic Bags/ties
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment
  18. Spare Keys
  19. Phone Numbers and Addresses – friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  20. Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  21. Cash/credit cards
  22. Pen/markers/paper
  23. Configured Compact Emergency Kit with Essential Items
  24. Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.

An obvious necessity for everyone. Know what water sources are available to you during an emergency, or in the outdoors. Plan accordingly and don’t hold back preparing for this essential category.

Determine whether or not you want to purify water for viruses.  Not all water filters are designed for this purpose – look for water purifiers that specifically state that they will kill viruses.

Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully and the quality and quantity of foods chosen should be appropriate to the anticipated length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  For shorter term scenarios foods in most situations should be nutritious and ready-to-eat; however you might want to consider some foods requiring only the addition of cold or hot water.  If you do need hot water you must plan for the appropriate means and equipment to heat your water.  Options listed have a longer shelf life and are suitably packaged for kits or backpacks.

When your health and survival during a medical emergency is at stake, you don’t want to rely on cheap or inadequate medical supplies. This is an important category to thoughtfully evaluate. Don’t forget medications or products needed for those with special medical conditions.  If your pre-assembled kit doesn’t include one, make sure you get a good book on medical emergencies.

Protection from the elements and insects is essential, especially in a harsh climate.

Numerous unforeseen situations or just routine conditions occur during an emergency or during an outdoor adventure. Be prepared and secure with the proper quality tool.

It is important to keep informed during an emergency with friends, family, and appropriate governmental agencies and emergency organizations. When in an outdoor environment, unsettled weather considerations necessitate weather alert radios. Avoid a sense of isolation during serious emergencies.  If you get lost or are separated from your group signaling can be crucial.  Since electronic items are included in this category, you may want to consider a small solar power device.

This is an essential category to address when anticipating any situation where you may be in darkness. Not only for a sense of security and comfort, but to be able to see clearly and act accordingly if emergencies occur in the dark.

Personal protection
For some this may not be an essential basic category.  Each individual must decide the extent to which they will or will not provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.

This article provides a very basic list of suggested items we believe are essential for emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation; especially if space, weight, and mobility are important.  For an expanded list of suggestions read our article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night.


  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Device to break window and cut seat belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator/other tire repair materials
  • JB Weld®/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting and backup power
  • Tow cables/rope
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts/repair kit
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate
  • Empty gas can
  • Material to gain traction if stuck in snow or ice – cat liter/sand/wood shavings/old rug

Additional critical items from the Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Pen/magic marker/paper
  • Personal documents and photo ID/registration/insurance
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Emergency radio/hand crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots/poncho
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray                                                                                                                                      
  • Refer to the Essential Checklist for other items relevant to your vehicles specific needs.


Is your entire family prepared for emergencies at all times?

Recent events have brought us catastrophic circumstances that have had devastating and lasting effects on thousands of people around the world.  I pray that you take this advice seriously.   Recent conversations have also motivated me to consider this important article as a Foundational Article.

I am reminded of a presentation I made some years back to a large gathering of preparedness professionals.  This convention consisted of folks who came from all over the country and of course this meant that they would be gone from their families for a few days.  Bear in mind that at my presentation there were a couple hundred people whose responsibilities included preparedness planning and education for very large companies, organizations, and governmental agencies.

At the beginning of my talk I asked the group how many felt completely confident that in their absence their families were prepared to deal with unforeseen emergencies or disasters – especially significant ones.  Only a few raised their hands!  Since most of these participants were the head of their households, what does it tell you about fulfilling one’s responsibility to protect and keep the family secure in difficult times?

Fortunately over the years the professional emergency management community has become more dedicated to personally embodying what they are responsible for in government and business.  What about the average household?

It appears that most head of households have some notion that their presence is security enough for the family during an emergency.  This is a dangerous assumption.  The sensible attitude is to ensure that all family members – adults – the elderly – teenagers – and young children, know:

  • What to do
  • How to respond
  • Where to go – or not go
  • Who to contact
  • Where the information and supplies are located
  • How to use and operated essential equipment
  • How to access drinking water
  • How to prepare any food reserves
  • How to communicate with family and emergency personnel
  • How to keep warm in freezing conditions
  • How to have the proper attitude
  • How to pray

Instructions should be in writing and the entire family should participate in drills and practices.  Family members – immediate and extended – should know their part during an emergency under all scenarios and given any combination of family members physically present – or absent.

  • Do your children, spouse and other family members know what to do and how to act if a serious emergency occurs and they are not at home?
  • How will your communicate with them or those in their keeping?
  • What if they are at school – what plans does the school have to communicate with parents or guardians?
  • What will the school provide for students?
  • What if they are at work – what plans does the business or organization have to communicate with other family members?
  • What will the business provide for their employees?
  • Does the business or organization have their own contingency plans?
  • Do you have contingency plans for communication and provisioning for your spouse – adult children – younger children when they are away from home at camp, business trip, etc.?
  • What if an emergency occurs while a family member is in their vehicle and in transit?
  • Is your family secure, knowledgeable and responsible?

Between Learn To Prepare and numerous internet websites, there is an abundance of valuable information for the whole family.  Study this information as if your life and your families’ life depended on it – in a significant emergency it does!

 So I ask all of you reading this post:  In your absence is you family adequately educated and prepared to properly respond and survive during a serious emergency situation?  I encourage you to have all family members read the Foundational Articles on the right column of this blog.



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The Ultimate Survival Tree That Grows on Almost Every Street in America

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This tree is so common in the U.S. that you can see it planted on the streets, in parks, and in residential areas (due to its use as a specimen

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What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies

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What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies Pine needle tea, cooking potatoes in aluminum foil over hot coals, using the bow drill method… all of these sound exciting for those looking to get into bushcraft. But little do they know that these types of experiences can teach them some very important lessons about surviving … Continue reading What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies

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Prepping on a Budget – How To Get Survival Supplies When You Have Almost No Money

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I look at the prepping lifestyle as getting your preps with as little cash outlay as possible. I spend enough of my cash just trying to get by in the

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5 Things You Need to Do When There’ll Be No Rule of Law

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Mention a dystopia to most people and they’ll probably think of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thought Police and Big Brother. That’s understandable, because there are worrying hints of it in our

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3 Major Threats Facing the U.S. By the End Of 2017

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There was a time when writing about the threats we face as a nation was little more than conjecture. Many long-winded articles often injected fear into the reader based merely

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Ditch Medicine with The Herbal Prepper!

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Ditch Medicine Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! This episode is all about “ditch medicine”. Ditch medicine makes due with what you have on hand. The idea is to stay alive (or keep someone else alive) with whatever is available, until you reach help or help finds you. Sometimes this includes herbs, … Continue reading Ditch Medicine with The Herbal Prepper!

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Why a Dutch Oven Should Be Part of Your Survival Kit

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If you’re one of those folks without power, heat, or warmth because of the recent snow storms, you probably know that you need a cooking tool that can bake, boil, fry and saute. It should also be able to function with a variety of heat sources, since you don’t know when the electricity might come back on.

My nomination for this wonder implement has been around for hundreds of years. It’s easy to find, cheap and effective. Go get a cast iron Dutch oven. This cooking tool has a proven track record, and it can use virtually any heat source.

Survival with the Dutch oven

Hurricane Katrina was due to hit land in a few hours, and my relatives in Mississippi, about 150 miles north of New Orleans, weren’t sure what was going to happen. I overheard my wife talking on the phone to her sister, Patti, of Clinton, Mississippi. In the middle of the hurricane preparation discussion, they started talking about recipes and what to cook, using a cast iron Dutch oven!

Everyone near Katrina faced a potential power outage that could last indefinitely. There was a discussion of evacuating, versus staying put. Among the urban survival necessities in any natural disaster is a way to cook and purify water by boiling, and a Dutch oven serves this purpose beautifully.

We had given Patti a hand-me-down cast iron camp oven with the lipped lid and three legs. Designed to be heated on top and bottom with campfire coals or charcoal, the camp oven was considered a necessity on the American frontier for at least two centuries. That type oven was taken on the Lewis and Clark expedition, was used by travelers on the Oregon trail, who surely used it to cook foods on this list. The oven was indispensable in countless cabins, lean-tos and soddies.

Firepans are a critical part of your Dutch oven survival kit. They allow you to cook on snow or damp ground without putting out the coals.

Technically, a “Dutch” oven has a rounded top and  no legs and can be used in a conventional oven on top of a stove, or on an outdoor propane fish cooker of grill. Here is an example of this style of oven.

Today, a camp oven is on my short list of tools for my disaster survival kit. And if you’re one of the people stranded at home because of the record snows, or are anticipating some sort of disaster, you need a Dutch oven, too.

A Dutch oven can be used to boil water, make a stew, bake bread, and cook virtually anything that can be fitted inside. And if you were forced to evacuate an area, a camp and/or Dutch oven is compact and light enough to be easily transported. My wife’s advice to her sister was to go to Walmart and get:

Put the oven, these items, and some basic cooking utensils in a square milk crate for storage, and you’re ready to bug out. If you have more than one Dutch oven (one to use for everyday cooking and another for camping/emergencies), this milk crate system is excellent. Just store it with your other camping/hunting/emergency supplies.

Must-haves for your Dutch oven survival kit

I’ve been cooking with Dutch ovens at hunting and fishing camps for decades, and on many camping trips and Boy Scout and Girl Scout outings. Beginners frequently ask for a list of tools to get started in Dutch oven cooking. So, here’s the basic, bare-bones list of Dutch oven survival kit necessities, proven over the years.

1 12-inch Lodge brand shallow cast iron oven

I like Lodge cast iron best because it is made in America and has a proven quality record, but that’s just personal preference. Other experienced Dutch oven cooks may use different brands, such as Camp Chef, so chose whatever you like. You’ll get what you pay for. A cheap, poorly-made oven won’t work particularly well, and you’ll probably end up replacing it with a quality piece. Sometimes, I take an aluminum oven on outdoor excursions instead of cast iron to save weight.

3 shallow metal pans with lipped rims

These are critical, and common dog food pans work very well. Put one pan underneath the oven to protect the coals from dampness and help regulate heat; and another pan is used to store coals. The third is a spare that is used to cover the oven and protect it from rain or snow while cooking. Here is an example of this type of bowl. See the video below to see how these pans are utilized.

1 Lid lifter

In a pinch, a pair of channel lock pliers will work. Don’t underestimate the weight of the Dutch oven filled with food or how hot it gets! A lid lifter gives you plenty of distance from the heat source when you want to check on your food or stir it.

1 Trivet or tripod

This is a wire or metal rack that holds the lid while you stir the contents of the oven or adjust seasonings. It keeps the lid out of the dirt and clean, and if you’re cooking outdoors, you may not have a nearby, heat-proof surface.

1 Knife

You probably don’t need a tactical or survival knife, (even though, in an emergency, any  knife you have is a “survival knife”), but you will need something that will work for food preparation.

1 Nylon spatula and nylon spoon

This is used for cooking, serving, and cleaning the oven.

Sources of heat and organizing your gear

Charcoal is easy to use, and generally, in good supply. But when the charcoal runs out, you can use firewood, driftwood, coal, wood scraps from a dumpster, etc. Shipping pallets, generally found about anywhere, burn quite well. If the pallets are made of hardwood, which many are, then you’ll get great coals! You can also prepare for disaster by integrating an outside heat source into your normal cooking routine. My propane fish cooker stays operational year-round on my patio because it is used constantly. Even when there is snow on the ground, we still go outside to fry bacon or cook fish.

If your plan is to use mostly charcoal briquettes with your outdoor cooking, a Chimney Starter will make life much, much easier for you. It heats up the briquettes super quickly so you have coals for cooking in no time.

This Lodge camp oven and propane fish cooker will work very well for cooking and boiling water, even when the power is out.

The lid lifter, trivet, “survival knife,” spatula and spoon all fit inside the oven. All these items fit into a nylon commercial Dutch oven holder. Another great way to carry everything is in a square milk crate. Put the metal pans on the bottom, and the oven won’t tip over. The loaded crate stacks nicely.

Cleaning a Dutch oven is easy. Take the spatula, scrape out any food residue, and fill it with water. (Never put cold water into a hot oven. It might cause it to crack.) Put the oven back on the coals, and boil the water. Usually this will be enough to clean the oven, and all that remains is to scrape out the softened food debris and wipe it dry. Rub the cast iron with a light film of oil to protect against rust.

Obviously, there are other “nice-to-have” cooking items that could be included, but this basic Dutch oven survival kit will get you by. Check out these Dutch oven no-fail recipes for getting started or even if you’re an experienced outdoor cooke!

For more information about Dutch ovens and cooking outdoors, contact:

The International Dutch Oven Society

Lodge Manufacturing

Camp Chef

by Leon Pantenburg of SurvivalCommonSense, and updated by Noah, 1/7/17. All photos by Leon Pantenburg.

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5 Strategies To Survive In The City When SHTF

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When we think of survival and disaster preparedness the images most people conjure up are basically rural. Preparedness is all about being ready to harvest the essentials from the land,

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The Ten Cent Modification You Can Do to Double Your Radio’s Range

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Some things in life you can never have too much of.  But for this article, we’ll concentrate just on radio range/efficiency! There are many ways to boost the range of

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20 Last Minute Ways To Prepare For An Emergency

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The more prepared you are for an emergency the more likely you are to get through it without any serious harm – and the thing about preparation is it’s better

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Preppers List: 5 Things to Do Immediately!

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Looking at the state of the world, being prepared is more important than ever. Terrorism is on the rise around the globe. Rogue states like North Korea become more dangerous

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You’re Right to Fear Government Interference During Emergencies

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Government During EmergenciesI’ve been watching the recent flooding in Louisiana and the response to those in need. Churches in my area have loaded up trucks and trailers and have coordinated with Louisiana churches to provide assistance. No requirement of church membership, proof of tithing, approval of lifestyle, racial quotas — none of that. It’s just, “You need some diapers for your baby? Here they are.”

That’s how charity is supposed to work. You learn about someone in need and then you find a way to meet that need. The founder of Salvation Army knew this and founded the organization on those principles. You can read his fascinating life story in this book.

“…Freely you have received. Freely give.” Matthew 10:8

So now I read an article about how the Red Cross has been operating in Louisiana, and it reeks of government interference with what most charitable-minded people would like to do. Here’s one example from Nancy Malone, an American Red Cross spokesperson regarding giving food/meals to displaced people:

“We are held accountable to state regulations. This food has to come from a certified kitchen.”

Volunteers were turned away if they hadn’t gone through Red Cross channels. In one case, a woman volunteered to come in and clean bathrooms and toilets but was turned away. Bureaucracy at its finest. In another instance, volunteers put up their own shelter but Red Cross took it over when they finally arrived in town. The goods handed out by Red Cross can only come from their approved suppliers.


In a crisis, whether a natural disaster that dislaces you from your home, war, or TEOTWAWKI, this is exactly how you will be treated by government so-called assistance. Red tape, bureaucrats, nonsensical rules that deny help because of more nonsensical rules. Nothing will come easy. The process will favor a few. Your needs will be met only on occasion and by pure coincidence.

Now, maybe you’re the type who likes to follow every rule even though it flies in the face of common sense. There are plenty of those sheep everywhere. I’m not cut from that cloth, though, and I would bet most preppers aren’t. We want to provide our own meals, our own shelter, our own water, and on and on. Hopefully, we have enough to share and when we do, or can, we want it to be on our own terms — not confiscated from us by officials who think they know better.

One of the results from large bureaucracies/government taking over charitable giving is that it removes that charitable instinct. Why should I donate or volunteer? FEMA will be along to help. The Red Cross will show up any day now. Without realizing it, we defer to faceless bureaucrats what we are naturally wired to do — help our fellow man.

The best way to do that is to actually get to know your fellow man — through social events, volunteer work, church, community organizations, etc. That way, when there’s a disaster in your area, you will know, first hand, where help is needed, who needs help, and who is coordinating local assistance. Then, you give. If you are handy with tools, you help with rebuilding. If you have a pickup truck, you help with hauling away debris. If all you have are 2 hands, you can help in so many ways. The Civil Air Patrol and CERT are two organizations that offer the type of training that comes in handy during emergency response situations.

I wish I could encourage you to join up with the Red Cross, and there are probably chapters around the country who are not quite as bound by rules and regulations as to be of limited help. One buddy of mine who has worked in emergency response for decades claims that local Red Cross groups can be effective and very helpful. However, I tend to shy away from donating to groups with massive overhead and huge salaries to their top people. That’s just me.

If you don’t want to stand in long lines for bottled water or sign a lengthy form of rules in order to have a roof over your head provided by a government-run shelter, then keep prepping. The alternative is relying on government, or government-like organizations, to decide what you need and what is best for you. That just doesn’t sit well with me.



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34 Different Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival & Emergencies

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34 Practical Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival & Emergencies I stumbled across this post and I had to share it with you all today. This miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. This handy product …

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6 Powerful Natural Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief Agents for When SHTF

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by Susan: Inflammatory diseases can affect any part of our body, from joints and muscles to our intestine, internal organs, and even our skin. Many are not life threatening, but

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10 Non-Edibles for Your Emergency Stash

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non edibles emergency stash

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


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

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

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

Bar soap

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

Zip-Loc bags of all sizes

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

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

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

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

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

Toilet paper

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

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

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

non edibles emergency stash (2)

Special Needs Preppers: The Elderly

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elderly preppersWhen it comes to prepping, age-related needs come at both ends of the spectrum. Small children and elderly parents can have very specific needs because their bodies just aren’t able to self-regulate the way a healthy adult in the prime of their life does. Elderly preppers have unique needs to take into consideration.

Even when the needs are the same, such as pureed food or diapering, they have to be approached differently when it’s an elderly person with a lifetime of being independent, or even an adult who has been dependent their entire life. They either have memories of not being this way, or they know other adults are not like this. It’s important to never make them feel like they are being made fun of for something that is beyond their control, whether that is a physical or mental attribute.  

First Steps for Elderly Preppers

Most people can retire when they are sixty or sixty-five and that’s a reasonable time to start asking more questions and thinking about putting some preps in place for your parents and other older relatives, although many are still quite healthy and spry well into their 60’s and beyond. Initially, simple steps like having a copy of their will, medical Advance Directives, such as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and other basic forms and information is probably sufficient. As time goes on and takes more and more of a toll, you will need to take more steps to help them, but this is normally a gradual process over a period of a decade or more.

The key items to do in advance are primarily paperwork. In addition to a will and DNR, try to have copies of these documents:

  • Medical and financial powers of attorney
  • The front page of their passport
  • Copies of drivers licenses, insurance, and other basic IDs

The truth is, that these are good to have on hand largely in case something happens and they lose their wallet or purse, especially while traveling. (It would be a good idea for you to leave a complete set of all your IDS and basic legal documents with them for the same reason.)

In addition to Advanced Directives/DNR for the state they live in, it’s a good idea to have one for any state you reasonably expect the to visit or travel through. (DNRs are different in different states and specify what should be done in a medical emergency in terms of pain medication, feeding, and life-extending measures.) Of course, also have copies of any prescriptions and diagnoses they have, and a complete list of all their doctors’ names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers.

A HELPFUL TIP: Create a Grab-n-Go Binder for your elderly loved one. It should be stored in an easy-to-find location and you should have copies of its contents scanned and stored in the Cloud or on a thumb drive OR have hard copies in your own binder.

Single family home

Just because your elderly prepper is well enough to stay in their own home, doesn’t mean they will take care of emergency preparedness items. After all, most young people don’t either. Even small amounts of mental deterioration may make it hard for them to realize how dangerous certain situations are and what they need to do to be prepared, and sheer stubbornness may lead them to deny obvious danger signs.

There are certain emergencies most people are prepared for. Almost everyone knows the importance of smoke detectors and being prepared for a fire. Depending on the location, preparing for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural hazards may be nearly as common place. These familiar events are a good place to start if the idea of prepping is new to them. Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier to talk about preparing for a tornado than bringing up topics like bug out bags and how they can handle two weeks without access to medical care or their prescriptions.

Smoke detectors are very nearly universal in all homes. Some, like the one linked in the last sentence, play a recorded message so you can direct family members what to do and where to go in a fire. Forgetting to check batteries in smoke detectors is almost as universal as owning them, so go ahead and do this when you visit elderly loved ones. They may find them hard to reach on their own, and testing the detector is also a good way to be sure they can still hear it. If they can’t, it’s time to switch to one with a strobe light.

We have emergency ladders to get out of every bedroom in our house in a fire. If your parents have one, can they still safely climb down it? If they fall, how hard is the surface they will land on? Even if they can still safely climb down, you need to make sure they have a safe area under their window in case they fall to minimize the chance of breaking a hip or other bones.

Once you have reviewed the preps that are in place, talk to them about any improvements you think they could use. As dull as it sounds, those might make a good gift. (Do you think they really want another coffee mug or dust collector?) A few suggestions for those are:

  • A bucket of just-add-water meals to provide food for a week or more. These meals are very lightweight and as long as your loved one can heat water to boiling, this food will provide the nourishment they need.
  • Large print road map. If the are still able to drive, this will be a huge help.
  • A “Panic Alert” emergency dialer
  • Waist pack, formerly “fanny pack”, to make sure they always have certain items with them, no matter what.
  • Small LED flashlights in each room. Velcro these to tabletops or other handy locations to make sure they don’t easily get lost.
  • Fashionable reading glasses, for the ladies.
  • A Kindle loaded with books, both for entertainment and reference. It’s easy to change the font size, so this really is a must-have for anyone with vision issues.

You can also talk about the need to improve their tornado/hurricane/earthquake/whatever preps. Even if they aren’t open to all your suggestions, they are still adults and you need to respect their choices, even ones you know aren’t smart, as long as they aren’t endangering anyone else.

Apartment living

Once your relatives can no longer care for a yard or remove snow from the driveway and sidewalk, it is probably time for them to move into a senior apartment, particularly if no one lives close enough to help. Their emergency preparedness needs will change when this happens. For example, even if they can still use an emergency ladder, it is time to replace it with something less physically taxing.

Part of moving from a home to an apartment is downsizing. They will have to get rid of a lot of stuff, some of which may be useful to you in your preps. Items I bought from an elderly woman moving into assisted living included wool throw blankets, high-quality hand-powered kitchen gadgets, cigarette lighters from back when they were daily use items, and really good gardening tools.

We all collect more stuff than we need, and your loved one may need help in sorting through their own household goods. If possible, and if there’s an urgent need for cash, help them organize and hold a yard sale.

With downsizing, it’s a good time to review their paperwork. Some of their doctors may change when they move, so be sure to check their list of doctors both right after they move and a few months later, when they have settled in a bit more. It’s possible you may be the one to seek out new doctors, so be ready to ask for referrals and do some research in order to find the best care in this new location. Sometimes transportation can become an issue at this stage, and that is something to keep in mind as new doctors are found.

In an emergency, elderly loved ones who are living on their own, should be able to pack for an evacuation, but will almost certainly need a list to work from. Create a list with them (in a large font!), post 1 or 2 copies in handy locations, then review it with them every six months or so to keep up with their health. You don’t want to have their cane on the packing list, only to end up at your destination and find that they are struggling without their walker. Put the list inside a plastic sheet protector with a dry erase pen and a facial tissue. The dry erase pen can write on the sheet protector, and the tissue can be used to wipe it off, making the packing list reusable.

TIP: The Survival Mom has written an entire, easy to read manual on the subject of Emergency Evacuations.

Assisted Living

When their condition deteriorates to the point that they can’t live on their own any more, they will need to move into assisted living. This option is for people with most of their abilities to live independently intact, just not enough to be on their own, to those with no ability to care for their daily needs. This move will also lead to another round of down-sizing.

Whatever their condition, an elderly person should be able to pack their own bag, or direct someone else to pack it. Some may need to have a very detailed checklist to follow while others may only need to be told “pack enough clothing for at least a week” and they will have everything they need, including toiletries, spare shoes, and sunscreen. You need to evaluate your loved one’s condition and give them the support they need to successfully pack themselves.

You should already have copies of all their prescriptions and diagnoses. Now it’s time to find out what medical equipment, if any, they will need. In this move, they shouldn’t need anything too large or expensive. The largest thing someone in assisted living is likely to need is an oxygen tank or wheelchair and keeping one or two spare tanks of oxygen handy. These don’t take a lot of space. Honestly, I have that much space dedicated to shoes I rarely wear.

Assisted living residents can also have their own bug out bags assembled and ready to go. These should contain copies of all the paperwork discussed in the last paragraph.

Nursing Home

By the time your elderly loved one is in a nursing home, you can’t count on them doing anything to help themselves in an emergency. At most, they will be able to pick up and carry their own emergency bag. Realistically, most people in a nursing home will be hard pressed to hold onto a bag while someone else pushes their wheelchair to the exit. You will need to have everything ready for them.

Unlike a person in their own home, their room will contain very few personal items. They will have downsized as much as they possibly can and are unlikely to have anything substantial beyond clothing, toiletries, and a few small items. You won’t need to have clothing pre-packed because you can take a bag and empty their drawers/closet into that bag as you are getting ready to leave. You can clear out the medicine cabinet/bathroom sink into a toiletries bag, making sure you have all their key medicines. The upside of having few belongings is that it takes only a few minutes to pack them up.

TIP: Prior to this move, be sure you have had discussions regarding personal belongings, real estate, and finances.

You should already have copies of their key paperwork and medications (discussed above). At this stage in their lives, you should ask their doctors and the nurses who oversee them on a day-to-day basis to find out what else they need. Will they need a bedpan, catheters, IVs, or other medical equipment? If so, you can buy those and have them ready in an emergency or at least be prepared to make arrangements as soon as possible after leaving the facility. Check frequently with facility administrators, nurses, and orderlies to keep up with any deterioration in their condition.


An elderly woman I help care for complained of “some leaking” when she woke up in the mornings. When we eventually moved her out of her apartment, her mattress showed how much she had been in denial about her incontinence problems. This is something no adult wants to admit, but it’s all too common among the elderly. If there is a chance you will be evacuating or otherwise in the car for a long time, you should pack disposable incontinence underwear for them, especially if there won’t be easy access to bathrooms.

Incontinence issues affect many people of all ages.

Before an emergency evacuation, tell the truth: You will be in the car for a long time and may not be able to get to a bathroom quickly. You have Depends, or some other brand, handy and let them make the choice whether or not to use them. If they are having problems, they will probably go ahead and use the Depends IF they can do it without being made to feel embarrassed or shamed. If they won’t do it for this reason, they probably won’t wear one for any other reason.

If you are concerned about a possible incontinence problem and they won’t use Depends, cover your seats with bed sheeting fabric. It’s about $4/yard at the fabric store, is waterproof, and feels like flannel. (It’s also great as a diaper changing pad for toddlers.)

“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

Special Needs Preppers is a complete series of articles for every family with loved ones whose needs have been overlooked by most other survival and prepper blogs and websites. Most of us can’t fathom leaving behind a pet — how much more important is a grandmother, autistic child, or a bed-ridden loved one?

If you have other, helpful suggestions for any of these special needs preppers, please leave your comments.

elderly preppers

Special Needs Preppers: Pregnancy, Babies, and Toddlers

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

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

Emergency needs for pregnant women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Potty Issues

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Food for infants and toddlers

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

First Foods and Snacks

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Naps for all!

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

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

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

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


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

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

Clothing tips for pregnant moms, babies, and toddlers

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

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

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

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

Other “Special Needs Preppers” in this series:

Preppers- Babies pregnancy toddlers

Pimp Your Bugout Vehicle on a Budget

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bugout vehicleA reliable vehicle is a very important part of our preparedness planning. Not only is it transportation out of a bad situation, but your vehicle can provide lighting, heat/air conditioning, electrical power, and shelter. Most of us don’t have the luxury of procuring a dedicated bugout vehicle; we have to make the best of what we have. The good news is that you can add important capabilities to your existing vehicle without breaking the bank, and at your own pace.

Road Clearance

One thing that will quickly defeat your bugout plan is a tree or vehicle blocking the road. In an ideal world, you could hook up your vehicle’s winch ($1,000) and pull the obstacle out of the way, or use your chainsaw ($300-$1,000) to cut up the tree so you can pass. But winches are only practical on certain vehicles, and chainsaws require significant maintenance; both also come with hefty safety issues as well.

Forestry saw

Chain saw substitute

Fortunately low-tech, cheaper alternatives to the winch and chainsaw are available, but they both require using a bit of muscle, so consider your family’s fitness level if you go this route. A good winch substitute is a cable puller, sometimes called a “come-along.” It gives you a 35:1 mechanical advantage: you move the ratcheting handle and it pulls with about 3 tons of force for about $200. Another poor man’s winch is a tow strap or chain, a fixed length of flexible material ($25-$50) that can be hooked to your vehicle and the obstacle. Your vehicle can move the obstacle, if you have the room to work.

A forestry saw ($200-$225) can cut a freshly-fallen tree or branches without the expense and maintenance required of a chainsaw. These saws are like the hand saws we’ve all used, but up to 4 feet long with huge teeth. They stow flat in your trunk with little bulk.

Staying on the Road

Just about every disaster creates debris, part of which become sharp objects that pose a danger to your tires. A flat tire during your bugout can place you and your family in danger while you attempt to repair the problem, if you are even able. Multiple flats will take your vehicle completely out of action. The good news is that you may be able to upgrade your vehicle’s tires to the “run-flat” type.

Run Flat Tire

Run-flat tire has a stronger sidewall.

The military has used run-flat tires on their High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or “Humvee” for many years. These special tires use several strategies to allow the tire to continue to support the vehicle’s weight even after the loss of air due to puncture or other damage. Cadillac and BMW widely make use of run-flat tires for their product lines, and several tire manufacturers including Goodyear, Firestone, and Continental offer run-flat tires as replacement tires which may fit your vehicle. The run-flat won’t eliminate the flat-tire problem, but it can give you up to 100 miles of additional driving to escape dangerous conditions. Run-flats will cost you an additional 10%-30% per tire.

But run-flats aren’t available for every vehicle. Alternatives include tires with Kevlar belts for enhanced puncture protection, and flat-fixing kits with a chemical sealant and air compressor. At a minimum, a full-sized spare is a critical need.

Pass the Gas

Fuel is one of your bugout vehicle’s Achilles’ heels. Not only is it important to have enough on hand, but protecting it from theft and vandalism is necessary and not always easy. In recent years a theft technique has been to puncture a vehicle’s under-body fuel tank with a screwdriver or sharp object and drain it into a bucket; faster and easier than siphoning for the thief, it also essentially takes your vehicle out of action until the tank can be repaired.

Emergency Evacuations Book CoverBUGGING OUT? Don’t leave home without this book — Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most! Small enough to tuck into an emergency kit, but with enough details and checklists to make sure you don’t overlook a thing!

One way to secure your fuel is to mount an additional fuel tank inside the vehicle, in a trunk or rear cargo area not accessible to the casual thief. Auto racing offer many sizes, shapes, and capacities of fuel tanks that can be

Protected fuel

Auxiliary gas tank

adapted to this purpose; many offer a “foam-filled” version that prevents an explosion if the tank is ruptured. Due to the mechanical and safety issues raised by adding a fuel tank to your vehicle, this modification should be done by a mechanic familiar with racing fuel systems. The tank itself will set you back $120-$250 depending on size and features. Another option, particularly for diesel-powered vehicles, is a contractor-style auxiliary fuel tank.

See Them Before They See You

The most vulnerable time for a civilian vehicle is nighttime.  Vehicles put out light, heat, and lots of noise that is easily detectable. Worse, the vehicle’s occupants are less able to detect other people and vehicles when it’s dark outside. If money were no object, a set of night vision goggles (about $5,000-$7,000) would allow an occupant of the vehicle to detect potential threats at night.

Personal Thermal Imager

Thermal Imager

For the rest of us, a thermal imager can increase your survivability. A thermal imager is a device that detects varying levels of heat in the environment and produces a video image allowing visualization similar to that seen in daylight. If your local police agency flies a helicopter, odds are a thermal imager is on board to help find bad guys at night.

FLIR Systems, makers of military and commercial thermal imagers, has a consumer-level unit called the FLIR One, which attaches to certain Android-based phones and tablets and many IPhone-and-IOS-based devices. The $250 FLIR One uses a combination of a thermal camera and a standard digital camera to assemble a fairly detailed thermal image. This device can provide a passive thermal detection capability for a vehicle or person on foot that could allow movement in full darkness without lights. Potential threats could also be identified and avoided or neutralized.

The Bottom Line

Make a careful assessment of your needs. Consider worst case scenarios but don’t assume that you will always encounter the worst case. Build your capabilities over time, as your budget and time allow.

bugout vehicle

What You Really Need in Your SHTF First Aid Kit

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One of the common things a lot of preppers  miss is a good SHTF first aid kit. Sadly, they don’t even realize it. That’s because most people have a $29.95 first-aid kit

The post What You Really Need in Your SHTF First Aid Kit appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

How to Teach Your Kids to SURVIVE a House Fire

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Did you know that in two minutes a house fire can be life threatening and in five an entire home can be engulfed in flames according to FEMA?

October is Fire Prevention Month and a time to make a plan.

House fires occur often and sadly too many children lose their lives.   A house fire can happen quickly, without warning and parents need to educate themselves and their children to the dangers.

This will hit home with every parent.

According to the National Fire Association, “There was a civilian fire death every 208 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes in 2011.  Home fires caused 2,520, or 84%, of the civilian fire deaths.”

Build Survival Confidence

Every parent needs to build survival confidence into their children. A business meeting with my friend, Nathan, this week was a reminder of how fragile life is.  In our conversation he shared how his son’s best friend, Joseph Hightower was tragically killed in a house fire in 2003.

I could see the loss in his eyes. He asked  if I knew what real fire looked like.  He proceeded to say, “it’s black” and it was hard to find the 11-year old boy.”

What You Can Do

1.  Talk about fire safety with your kids.  It matters. Knowledge and practice bring survival confidence.

2.  Keep fire extinguishers  in key locations throughout the house like in a kitchen, garage, near fireplaces and other high risk areas. You can’t have too many!

3.  Check rooms for faulty wiring that looks frayed, broken, blackened or overloaded. Faulty wiring in the wall can smolder for days before a house fire breaks out. Check your teen’s room too as mine will overload plugs next  to pillows, bedding and curtains.

4.  Make sure your entire electrical circuit is checked for fuses and short circuits by a licensed professional. Replace all old sockets with new plug points, which could be a potential fire hazard. Periodically check the circuits attached to the water heater, AC and the oven as they consume the maximum amount of power and are highly prone to short circuits.

5.   Make sure smoke detectors are working and that batteries are working properly and the detector itself is not too old.  According to The New York Times, “Consumer’s World; How Long Do Smoke Detector’s Last”  “Federal officials estimate that up to 85 percent of all dwellings in the United States have smoke detectors, but that as many as a third of them may not work.”

What YOUR Kids Need To Know

Curious Kids Set Fires

The U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA recommend the following: Children under five are curious about fire. Often what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy.

  • Children age 14 and under make up 10-15% of all fire deaths.
  • Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. These children are usually unable to escape from a fire independently.
  • At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.
  • Too often, child firesetters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers. Consequently, they repeat their firesetting behavior.

Practice Fire Safety in Your Home

  • Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
  • Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
  • Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY!
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
  • Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
  • Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
  • Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
  • Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.
  • Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Other Tips:

1. Teach your teen children to use a fire extinguisher. If they babysit, go through safety precautions about cooking.

2. If your children or teens  sleep through “anything”, teach them to respond to the sound of the smoke alarm. Tell them to NOT tune it out! Consider a “surprise” practice run.

2. Keep a cool head. At the first sign of trouble, have your children call for help.

The good news is that children who learn fire safety tend to react quicker in a situation as described here by this  fast-acting 7 year-old.

Asked your local fire department if they provide fire safety for children. The city of Milwaukee has a program called “Survive Alive House” which teaches children how to escape a fire.


Additional Resources on Children Fire Safety

Disaster Tip of The Week: Land Lines Are BEST in a Disaster!

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Do you look at your land line as a technology dinosaur? It is time to look at your land line with “fresh eyes” and new found respect after reading this.

September is National Disaster Preparedness month and your phone is your #1 disaster tool.

Don’t disconnect your land line just yet.

Many of us have chosen to eliminate the extra cost of keeping our land line since we rarely use them. We save them for sales

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calls, annoying business contacts, distant relatives who only get “this” number and lots of recorded messages. Really, who wants a personal call on your land line?

But consider this…

Your Land Line is KEY During an Emergency or Disaster….Here’s Why!

As stated in an article, “4 Reasons to Keep Your Land Line”, by Financial

While it is still possible to reach out to 911 operators with your cell phone, it may not be as quick or as accurate for the operator to tell where you are located based on the GPS alone. A land line has several advantages over the cell phone in the following instances:

  • If you have small children in the home, who may not be able to relay their address accurately
  • If you are seriously injured, cannot speak, and need to have the emergency operators know your location from just your caller ID
  • If you live in an area where calls may be incorrectly attributed to the wrong cell tower (calls that come from towers across state lines, for example)
  • During a major disaster, when cell phone lines are jammed due to everyone using them at once
  • Reverse 911 calls need land lines to ensure information reaches the public. Cell phones are not reliable.

Land lines offer access to emergency responders in rural areas where the cell phone is less than reliable. (Who wants a dropped call when you’re clutching on to life?) While the scenario seems dramatic, for those with small children, fragile health conditions, or in an area with a poorly developed cellular infrastructure, the land line is still superior.

Something else to consider…

Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion.

So if you feel having a land line is remaining in the dark ages technology wise, it’s time to give your land line the respect it deserves.