Survival Gardens: Strawberries & Slugs

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from Rebecca to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

With a compact size, particularly in ratio to annual yield per plant, strawberries fit into all lifestyles, from an apartment rail or window, to sprawling acreage. They’re relatively inexpensive as potted starts, they’re even more affordable as bare-root bundles or seeds, and there’s a wide world of suppliers with varieties that are well adapted to many climates. The nice, long harvest periods – compared to fruits that are a one-off with only a few weeks per season – add to their value. Once growing, strawberries can be quickly and easily propagated, which adds to their value both as a homestead crop and as a sale sideline.

It’s not hard to see just why strawberries are such a favorite. Unfortunately, local birds, squirrels, raccoons, and slugs also really love ripe strawberries. Understanding strawberries and their hardest-to-beat admirers will help ensure we continue to harvest the sweet treats of spring and summer even in a disaster.

Wilds & Weeds

Just as strawberries are cultivated around the world, a “false” strawberry has become an international presence. The most immediately noticeable difference between domestic varieties and diminutive wild Fragaria species, and the mock indian strawberry “weeds” Duchesnea indica are the flowers. Domestic and true wild strawberries have white petals most often (some have rose-mauve hues). Those petals are also wider with only slight gaps, whereas mock strawberry petals are yellow, more oblong, and distinctly separated.

There’s also differences in berries. Mock strawberries are covered with protrusions the same texture and color as the rest of its skin. Like domestic strawberries, the tiny wild woodland and alpine varieties are dappled with seed-containing ovaries on the surface of the fruits.

We don’t have to be haters, though. Mock strawberry fruit are dry and bland, but they are edible and contain valuable vitamins. Likewise, the leaves can be used for the same teas and topical poultices as both wild and domestic true strawberries and the other rosaceae brambles. Leaves make excellent additives for rabbits and chickens, too. Their early flowering also makes them important survival plants for pollinators in some areas.

If you have to have a weed, it might as well be a useful one. We have to control them, but they work well as edging around mown spaces, at the base of fences, buildings, and foundation plantings, as groundcover for well-established fruit trees and shrubs, and in chicken graze boxes.

Wild woodland and alpine types of Fragaria require less sun and have fewer pests and specific needs than domestics, but the mock indian strawberries are even more resilient, which makes them suitable for deeper shade and more soils. Unless we’re replacing them with something with higher yields or more uses, there’s no need to kill off the invaders this time around.

Strawberry Needs

In addition to the true wild varieties, there are three primary types of strawberries – day-neutral, everbearing, and Junebearers. All types fruit from buds they developed in a previous season. The separated budding-fruiting seasons contribute to strawberries’ increased productivity in the years after transplant. Trim runners and blossoms the first year so the plants’ energy goes into a stronger plant and root system. After that, root the runners into cups for transplanting or plan beds so staggered replacements can be rooted in-situ.

Strawberries will be happiest in a well-drained, loamy soil with slightly acidic to nearly neutral pH, typically 5.5-6.5 but some types will edge up into a 7.0. They need 6-10 hours of good light. If it’s particularly hot or dry, try to arrange shade directly overhead or blocking the hottest afternoon sun.

Strawberries are highly versatile and with their relatively shallow root systems and compact size, they can be grown in all aquaponics, hydroponics, and aeroponics systems: nutrient mist, NFT, flood-drain, floating raft/DWC (without pumps and aeration, even, although they need some water changes), and sponge or mesh media drip types like the clamshell ZipGrow or PVC DIY versions. They’re also adaptable to good ol’ dirt systems and herbicide-free straw-bale beds.

Strawberries in hanging planters, gutters along rails or laddered up walls, bottle towers, vertical pallets, and the gaps in CMU/cinder block need fertilized and watered more than in-ground and composting-tube tower and bin systems. Elevated containers do have advantages, though. Berries stay cleaner and it can be easier to keep them out of pests’ ranges.

Vertical bottle and bucket/barrel tower, PVC, and hanging pocket systems also allow us to use slug barriers on a small footprint compared to a wider tub, bed or row. That lets us use fewer resources and spend less time protecting our berries, while also keeping the deterrents that would bother pollinators well away from plants and blossoms.

To overwinter, trim plants to 1-2” and cover them with 2-4” of mulch. If we’re using containers, we can lay them flat or stack them between beds, beside and under porches, or on decks and patios and give them an insulation barrier. If we’re in one of the environments where freezes are lighter and shorter, just tenting them in floating row covers may be sufficient. In warmer-yet climates and hothouses, we can keep everbearing and day-neutral varieties cycling year-round.


Mulching always serves to retain moisture, prevent weeds, and protect soil from erosion and compaction. There’s also the benefit of preventing fruit “ground rot” and splash-up soil, which keeps harvests cleaner.

Strawberries are susceptible to some of the same diseases as many tree and shrub fruits, so source disease-resistant varieties and avoid planting near or using mulches made from diseased cousins. Straw, pine needles, and wood chips are all excellent options. Using wooden pallets as a planter or garden bed also limits exposure of and to the soil.

Leaves can be iffy. I do it, but only in places where I’m keeping ducks or have weedy islands and undisturbed areas for fireflies and other predatory and parasitic insects and small critters. See, using leaves encourages the one pest I really fight for my berries: slugs.

Slugs will also take advantage of boards, newsprint and cardboard on the surface. They work for me as an exclusion barrier under other mulches or to collect for birds, but on their own and left in place, it’s too much breeding and safety grounds for slugs and with not enough habitat and access for their predators.

Companions & Bad Buds

Strawberries sometimes get a rap as not getting along well with others. Sometimes there’s a root-zone and nutrient competition issue – like sticking greedy sunflowers or voracious chives somewhere and having everything around them stunted. The runners and thick mat that can form can cause problems for some plants, but for the most part strawberries are compatible with both our perennials and some annuals.

Exceptions are brassicas, peppers, and tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant/aubergine, and okra. For the latter, it’s a case of mutual Verticullium susceptibility. Peppers are just picky, period. Cabbage-family plants are the only ones actually impaired by strawberries.

There are plenty of plants that can share with strawberries. Edible wild violets and violas can make for lovely arrangements, helping to camouflage our food production and enticing pollinators. Borage is one of the most common companions and is also edible.

Beans, onions, garlic, peas, and lettuces can all share with strawberries. The legumes will help replace nitrogen used by berries by the end of the season. We can interplant N-fixing flowers like lupin and crimson clover for the same benefits.

Biodiversity is its own wonder for health and pest resistance, but sharing beds with aromatic perennial herbs adds a layer of protection by masking them. Spinach is also touted as repelling strawberry pests. If root nematodes are a problem in the area, a 1:1 ratio of marigold biomass to our desired plants can help.


Little is more frustrating than watching healthy, happy plants start blushing handfuls of berries only to find slugs have hollow them out the day before harvest. There are lots of ways to combat them, although some of the things that get passed around either just don’t work, or are highly conditional.

Coffee grounds, chipped pecan shells, and fine-ground and large-flake eggshells are commonly touted. They deter slugs a bit and sometimes work for other crops, but not ripe berries.  This video might help dispel the notion that sharp edges are total deterrents.

Coffee grounds, high-tanin walnut shells, and eggshells are useful, so there’s no harm, but they’re not a guarantee and don’t work long. Sevin dust and spray work for a while, but rain and even dews decrease the effectiveness after a couple of days, and Sevin and DE represent risks to earthworms, pollinators, and other beneficials.

I find Epsom salt pretty effective until rain or 3 days of heavy dew, too. Since I use it as an amendment, it can do some double duty.

Bait traps using either beer or a flour-yeast-sugar mix are pretty effective at lowering the slug loads. They can be used in pans set level with the ground or mulch surface, or be combined with bottle traps made similar to a tiny crawdad or fish basket trap.

We can also set up boards and inverted pots in garden areas, then flip them in the afternoon when slugs seek shelter and dispose of our berry-raiding nemesis.

Copper rings and ribbon are also effective, although pretty expensive. However, it is a more permanent, all-season solution that should only have to be purchased and applied once.

Slug collars are another effective and lasting option, although if our plants hang over the edges, slugs can use the leaves as a bridge to the interior and suck our berries dry. We can use larger plastic bottles or wire hangers and plastic bags to DIY similar.

Pest Exclusions

For berry-raiding birds and squirrels, simple netting can work. I use rolls of permanent plastic or metal 12-24” hex chicken fencing or free salvaged cut hurricane/blizzard fencing around some beds to protect from dogs, rabbits and turtles, and lay white garden mesh across those. In other cases, I use hoops or stakes to suspend the mesh. The tighter mesh is my go-to just because it cross-purposes as insect exclusion and frost protection, and I already have it at hand.

The thinner, looser mesh of deer or bird netting “disappears” at fairly short distances if appearance is a priority. We can also repurpose laundry bags and some types of baskets to create exclusions. Remember to leave access for weeding, fertilizing, pest control, and harvesting, whatever type of exclusion we use.

A set of solar “predator eyes” or garden terriers can help with more destructive and determined pests like raccoons. A pair of good garden ducks, leaving weed islands and some native shrubs to encourage predatory insects, amphibians, and reptiles, and encouraging bats can help, too.

Spring & Summer Sweetness

Wild, mock or hybrid domestic, strawberries are compact and versatile enough to suit the needs of preppers at any stage, urban or rural, apartment to wide acreage. They offer us berries, but also leaves that can be used for teas and our livestock. The ease in propagation means we can start with just a handful and increase our stock with cuttings, divisions, seed, or their natural runners every season.

However, we’re not the only ones who love them. Some of the most common and persistent threats like slugs, rodents and deer affect the rest of our gardens and orchards, so finding deterrents that will be available should we face widespread disaster is a priority for preppers. We don’t want to find out during an emergency that something from a book or internet doesn’t work as well as we thought it would.

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Everyone Starts Somewhere – How to Prep for the Future After a Disaster

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Laure Marie Johnson to The Prepper Journal. Everyone has to start somewhere and the most quoted on this matter is of course Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), also known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu. As a Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure his teachings are preserved in the Analects. He obviously was a practical man, one who knew that nothing is ever accomplished unless it is broken down into practical steps AND that first step is taken. So, with that in minds, here are some first steps from Laure in a planned journey for those who are new to prepping.

As you know Preppers are people who prepare for an impending disaster. They gather the basic supplies needed to survive while that disaster is happening around them. With food, water, a first aid kit, and other necessities, most people should be able to make it through their current situation. However, what most preppers fail to do is prepare for life after the disaster. How can people prep for what comes after the impending doom has come to an end and left the world in shambles? Some specialty equipment and supplies are going to be necessary. You’ll need far more than the basics kept in most typical packs.

Purchase Welding Gear


I have almost always had a pair of welding gloves but I have never welded anything. I have then to handle things that are too hot for my delicate little fingers. A radiator cap after a boil-over – yes, safety dictates that we wait until it has cooled BUT releasing the steam slowly, and more quickly, shortens the length of time we are hobbled on the roadside and minimizes the danger of further cracks and leaks from over-pressurized lines and hoses. And yes, my vehicles have the more modern systems BUT even those plastic caps can result in burns. Cutting down some iron fencing recently, in 105 degree temperature, changing the blade on my saw was a job for welders gloves. Somewhat clumsy but better than the expensive specialized designer heat gloves that can almost do the same job and who I payed so much for I don’t want them stained. Living in the desert you can dispatch a scorpion with welders gloves safely.

And if you do weld when they are indispensable to make repairs after damage has been done or weld together some metal to make something useful again or unique to help in your circumstances. Things your should have on hand are welding gloves, safety glasses, not to mention the welder itself, if you have a power source or fuels. Just because there are troubling times doesn’t mean people shouldn’t use precautions when handling equipment. Gloves and glasses help keep you protected while they work.

Gather Gardening Supplies

The food kept in the average prepper’s pack will only last so long. If people are left in a world they need to rebuild, no new food will be available unless people have the ability to make it. Beginning Preppers should gather gardening supplies to have waiting so they can grow their own fruits and vegetables if necessary. A good bag of soil is important to ensure the food can grow. Some seed packets of various options are also vital. While they aren’t completely necessary, some gardening tools and gloves will make the process easier as well as reading the many articles here on The Prepper Journal on gardening and food growing and storage.

Buy Canning Jars

The food grown in a personal garden will never remain edible if people don’t use precautionary measures for keeping them safe to eat. Fruits and vegetables especially go bad quickly, and without a refrigeration system there wouldn’t be much of a chance to preserve them for any longer. Canning jars are ideal in this situation. Preppers should buy as many canning jars as they can to store for later use, as these jars act as a preservation method for food items. Mason jars with screw-like tops seal foods inside and keep them edible for months or longer. The jars can remain sealed until the contents are ready to be consumed at a later date.

Get Weather Prediction Tools

Most people wouldn’t think twice about the weather when there are more pressing matters on the mind. However, people nowadays rely on meteorologists on the weather channel or an app on their phone to tell them what the weather will be like each day. If a tornado is about to sweep through the city or a hurricane is on its way, people are still going to need to know this so they can prepare.

Without someone to tell them, people are going to need to have weather prediction tools available so they know when to expect major weather problems that could be even more deadly than the original disaster they just went through. Weather prediction is just one of the top survival skills people need to have. A barometer, thermometer, and anemometer, or a portable radar system should be included on a prepper’s packing list.

Have Monitors and Filtration Systems

Depending on the damage left behind, many homes and buildings could now have carbon monoxide pouring into the air. Water sources could be filled with bacteria. There may be damaged electrical wires producing sparks. People need to have proper monitors and filtration systems that can help them handle safety issues such as these that arise. A water filtration system is key to ensure survivors can filter out any contaminants and have a safe drinking source. Monitors that help detect carbon monoxide should also be kept on hand, as well as voltage testers that let people know if there is a strong electrical current nearby.

Pack Camouflage Clothing

(Editors Note: the hat is a FAIL!)

Most people realize they should have some changes of clothes packed and ready to go in case of an emergency. They often think about the need for comfortable clothes that they’ll be able to move in easier, but fail to acknowledge the colors and patterns they should be choosing. It’s best to have dark-colored or camouflage clothing that will make it easier to hide from others. Staying hidden at times may be the best way to stay safe in the situation. Brightly colored clothes should never be included in a prepper’s pack.

Get a Sewing Kit

Clothes don’t last forever, especially if people are wearing the same ones over and over again while living in the wilderness. A sewing kit could come in handy to repair holes and keep the clothes people do have in the best condition possible. Warmth is vital when living off the land, so having holy clothes with no way to repair or replace them could be troublesome.

Learn Some Valuable Skills

Surviving a disaster takes more than having the right equipment and supplies. People also need the skills necessary to survive. Knowing how to start a fire, how to administer basic medical care, which berries are poisonous, and how to hunt are just a few valuable skills people should work toward achieving. You never know when a certain skill could come in handy, so it’s best to become a jack of all trades and become well-versed in all areas of work. Without knowing when a disaster could strike, it’s important people start using all the time they can to make advancements in their learning.

Being fully prepared for a disaster is more than gathering granola bars and bottles of water. A truly disastrous event could change the world as we know it, making advanced supplies far more necessary to keep on hand and at the ready. With welding gear, gardening supplies, canning jars, weather prediction tools, monitors and filtration systems, camouflage clothes, a sewing kit, and some valuable life skills, preppers will be as prepared as possible to begin rebuilding life after the catastrophe.

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How to Cope with a Psychological Shock While You Are Still in Danger

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Olivia to The Prepper Journal. For Preppers, the initial effect of a disaster/SHTF event will need to be processed as we try and cope with the everyday challenges of life and how it has changed. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Psychological shocks are the results of traumatic events. But how do you really know when a traumatic event has ended? People who’ve experienced psychological shocks agree that the impact of the traumas never stop being a burden. They will always feel susceptible to attacks, in a continuous state of alert, vulnerable and impotent in the face of danger. “When you are there, it’s all about surviving,” relates Lola Underwood, victim of sexual assault.

There are certain ways to cope with psychological shocks even when you experience the aforementioned emotions. Liberating your mind from that constant state of anxiety is challenging, and for irresolute individuals, nearly impossible. However, if you are determined to improve your life, this is a good place to start.

Take Your Time

After you’ve experienced a trauma, take some time to figure out your feelings. In case you are still in danger, it’s crucial to take a moment and decide on the next thing you must do. When we are trying to solve problems under pressure, the outcomes are worse than expected. Even when there is an imminent danger approaching, thinking about the issue and trying to find the perfect solution is the only smart thing you could do.

  • Be aware of what is happening and stay connected to the present
  • Don’t fight your feelings
  • Think of solutions rather than worry about the past
  • Focus on your breathing, and realize that the outcomes will be positive as long as you don’t freak out
  • Don’t let the situation control you. You control the situation.

In times of danger, structuring your thoughts is crucial. If your mind is haphazardly distributed, your brain will shut down. Make sure you breathe in, breathe out, and take everything step by step.

Write Down Your Emotions

People living with constant fear are usually paranoid, continuously afraid, and obsessed with taking revenge for what has happened to them. Even when they are not in an insecure place anymore, they might feel threatened by various sources, and act irrationally.

Dana Johnson, Psychologist at UniPsych Inc. and Writing Leading Specialist at CraveToWrite, a research paper writing company, shares her opinion. “Righting down your feelings and emotions after a traumatic event is crucial. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much writing helps us overcome different obstacles in our lives.”

A different approach:

  • When you are feeling down, take a pen and a paper and write down the reasons
  • For each feeling you’ve described, write down a number from 1 to 5 (1: the feeling is not that powerful, 5: the feeling can barely be borne)
  • Underline the most negative emotions, and write down what you feel when you experience those specific emotions
  • Ask yourself why you are afraid of those specific things (at least 7 times in a row)
  • Take a break, and come back to the exercise the next day

This exercise helps you realize what you are afraid of, and what is your level of anxiety.

Take a Look Behind the Curtains

It’s not enough to know what you’re scared of, you must know why too. Thus, try this:

  • Close your eyes
  • Breathe in, breathe out
  • Let your emotions flow
  • Imagine yourself in that place again
  • Even if it hurts, revive your emotions and let them flow into your brain
  • Now, stop right where your emotions are at their highest peak
  • Open your eyes, and write down exactly what you felt reliving that moment
  • What are the most vivid memories you have? What place or person do you recall the best?

If you review, pause, and write, it will be easier for you to identify the exact reasons behind your fears. Taking a look behind the curtain and understanding your own emotions and anxieties is crucial. That’s how we treat the causes, and not only the symptoms.

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself is truly important when it comes to your own safety, that’s why I am really glad that you are here. However, reading articles is not enough.

  • Acknowledge the fact that the same situation might happen again
  • Learn how to protect yourself and your family
  • Stay confident in your own defense mechanisms
  • Start taking self-defense classes
  • Always wear a pocketknife/paralysis spray with you

Remember: Better safe than sorry! Always.

Get Support

It’s truly important to recognize that we need help, whenever we do. Asking for therapy is not shameful, yet quite the opposite: it’s indeed very courageous. Taking about your problems with somebody else can be very challenging, especially when your experience has led to a burdensome trauma.

Reach out to the first person you trust, whether it’s a close friend, or a family member. If you don’t really trust anyone anymore, a psychologist is an even better option. They have worked with similar cases before, and they’ll know what type of support you need. And remember: if you feel uncomfortable, you can always leave.

Wrapping Up

In case of a shock, take your time to think about your next decisions, write down your emotions, understand your feelings, educate yourself on possible, future dangers, and reach out to a trustworthy person. It’s always good to know that somebody’s got your back.

About author: Olivia is a passionate blogger who writes on topics of digital marketing, career, and self-development. She constantly tries to learn something new and share this experience on various websites. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Why You Should Write Down Your Emergency Plan

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Why written emergency plans (EP) are better than just having one on your mind

Terrorism attacks, accidents or natural disasters can occur any time and if you are unlucky enough, leave you dead or in a hospital and in a dire financial situation. Fortunately, most emergencies are somewhat foreseeable such as flooding, wind and solar storms and hurricanes and to some extent, health problems. As it were, constant disaster preparation is a life philosophy of every prepper, and one of the ways to prepare for an emergency is to have a logical emergency plan for you and your family.

The purpose of this post is to analyze why written emergency plans are better than just having one on your mind. But before we even go there, why do you need to plan for emergencies in the first place?

  • It reduces potential losses and damages – Emergency planning may involve, for instance, buying and placing fire extinguishers all over your house and teaching family members how to operate them. Thus, they will be able to stop fires before they spread and raze the whole house.
  • It’s a confidence boost – With an EP, you and your family will know what exactly to do in case of an emergency. In the event of a disaster, they will be calmer and organized as opposed to the panic, chaos, and feelings of helplessness that accompany unpreparedness. Isn’t that what makes preppers ‘better’ than other people? Well, more dependable for sure.
  • Helps you get through emergencies – Planning for food, clean water, and medical supplies for sick members of your family makes it easier to go through difficult situations and saves you much-needed money.

Having said that, we can now agree that emergency plans are too important to be stored in memory or on your phone or laptop. You need to put it in writing for the reasons discussed in the next section.

5 Reasons Why Your Emergency Plan should be in Writing

Below are some reasons why hard-copy emergency plans absolutely rock:

  1. For Easy and Fast Reference

Keeping your EP in hard copy and making enough copies for everyone enables them to quickly check what to do or who to contact in an emergency. On the flipside, keeping emergency phone numbers or procedures in your memory may cause panic when, in the face of disaster, you forget some numbers or steps. As a matter of fact, it is quite hard to focus or remember things in such occasions. Additionally, when your family members are not privy to your plan, they might get panic attacks or get hopeless when faced with a calamity, which can, in turn, affect your psyche and your reflexes.

It is even worse if you keep your plan on your phone or computer as it could go off exactly when you need it the most. You might also not be in a position to access your electronics and as you know, emergencies and time wait for no man. With printed copies, which by the way should always be in your and every other family member’s sight, you won’t have a problem with communication and managing disasters as they happen.

  1. Writing Keeps You Focused and Self-Aware

When you write, your brain is focused on the act of writing and strives to create a logical flow. As such, you are able to write what’s on your mind without filtering any thoughts. Most importantly, old-school writing (using pen and paper) will help you remember disaster preparation concepts that you’ve learned whether from life experiences or government programs. You will also retain knowledge by noting it down as your brain will go into overdrive trying to decide the words to use, committing to long-term memory in the process. In an unfortunate situation, you will be able to remember at least some parts of your plan even without referring to the binder.

When it comes to emergency planning, we recommend that you first write all your concerns and aspirations in case of emergency on a draft paper then compile them into an organized document.

For Fast Review and Corrections

When you plan things in your head, the chances are that you won’t be able to see any faults in your thoughts. On the other hand, when noting down your plans, you can always review later to check for mistakes and do corrections. In this context, you can do further research and consultation with experts, authorities and your family and compare their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions with your plan. Also, keeping a hard copy of your emergency plan close to you gives you the chance to read it over and over at different times and with time, you might be able to see some mistakes you overlooked and amend them in time.

It’s Easy to Make Helpful Noted and Schematic Drawings While Writing

As mentioned in the first point above, the act of writing focuses your thoughts on one idea at a time. Sometimes, as you jot down a fire management strategy, for instance, you can almost ‘see’ a certain thing or action in your mind that would be convenient in such a situation, such as an available door for quick exit.

Depending on the clarity of the mental image, you can make a drawing to show how one can move from different rooms in the house to the exit door and on to safety. Whether you are a good artist or not, as long as you can focus on a single image and make a draft, it can always be improved and polished by another person. Furthermore, it would be easier explaining to your family the movements and procedures to follow in case of a disaster using images and drawings as opposed to only words

If Something Happens to You, Your Family Can Use Your Plan

Keeping everything to yourself or on your phone, which probably requires passwords for every action, will only make things difficult for your people in case something bad happens to you. For one, they probably won’t be aware that you had an emergency plan in the first place. Secondly, if they can’t access your plan, they will come up with their own which could be ineffective due to panic. Sadly, statistics from the US government show that only 33% of Americans have communication plans in case of emergencies.

In essence, by writing a comprehensive emergency management plan in an easy to understand manner, you not only make things simpler for yourself but to your family, neighbors, and friends too. They will know exactly what to do in case of anything and everything and who will be in charge of what, thereby minimizing confusion, chaos, and stress.


It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail and as a prepper, it’s hard to argue with that. Emergencies and disasters are messed up by themselves. You don’t want to add disorganization and disorder to it. Create a plan for such occasions, put it down on paper and circulate it to every member of your family and close friends. With that, you will be able to at least minimize the disastrous consequences of those bad days on you and your family’s lives.

About the Author: Lucas Cappel is a writer and an educator from Ohio. Graduate from Ohio University, he has a deep-rooted interest in education and sharing knowledge – interest that he shared in his work as a writer/editor at and a philosophy tutor.  

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Upcycling for Preppers – Maintaining Organization

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from R.Ann Parris to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

One of the challenges when we get into preparing for disaster is keeping everything neat and organized. In some cases, we’re trying to maintain our own or a spouse’s sanity and keep some of our preparations neat, tidy and organized without being in plain sight while short on space, either square footage or because we rarely allow something to leave our grasp. Beyond the ease in counts and condition checks, and avoiding a hoarder’s larder, organization can help us with both rotating supplies and in some cases even rationing our supplies should we fall on hard times.

Happily, there’s lots of stuff out there that can help us. Repurposing some items that are inexpensive, commonly found curbside and at flea markets or yard sales, or that we might already have laying around can help us maintain that organization without breaking the bank.

Maps & Rolls

Keeping our wrapping paper neat and tidy might not appeal to preppers, but we can steal some of the ideas out there for keeping our maps, charts, and our property plats accessible and tidy. There’s one where you take an old wire shelf and affix it vertically to a wall or door instead of horizontally. The 250ml wine boxes are ideal for keeping both maps and wrapping paper contained and neat, and most alcohol retailers are simply delighted to let you have boxes.

Cutting the bottoms out of hanging shoe organizers lets us customize height. That one has added benefits because you can leave pouches intact to keep map pens, sprays, and dry erase markers and erasers right there with them. It also allows some mobility, so they can be re-hung by a work board, in a radio or control room, or at the desk and table where you do your planning.

Hanging Shoe Organizers

You have to watch the weight in these guys, but otherwise, the sky is the limit. They can hook us up in pretty much all wedges of our preparedness “health” wheels. I’ve got some in use for “daily” life, too.

One’s in the kitchen keeping small packets of instant cereal and snack foods and the last bar of one kind or another from either getting lost in the abyss or from having the boxes continue to eat up space. One’s for winter, and keeps hats, scarves, and gloves neat and organized. The bottom row holds some quick slip-on slippers for household members and the dogs’ various booties. There’s another set up with each person’s preferred garden and yard work sets of gloves and pocket detritus.

For preppers, the value goes up further. With stick-on labels or clothespins, we can use them to track dates for at-a-glance organization. We can also take a space where we would be limited to boxes or shelves and turn it into basically a rack for them. A couple of freebie curbside-pickup filing cabinets, a bar or two to go across the top, and we can string our organizers on dowels or sturdy branch/sapling trimmings.

The filing cabinets here are actually reading nooks, but it gives you an idea of how the addition of a plank (freebie-pickup shipping pallets, walls/shelves from curbside bookshelves) and a curtain (surviving sheet from a wrecked bedding set) can keep it from being “ugly” even if it’s out in a home where somebody cares. If appearance is less of a concern, some suit hangers and any ol’ pole can be hung in sheds, basements or a storage room to accomplish the same – a flip or slide-through storage area for small items.

Those items can be anything. It can be a great way to keep veggie seeds separated by planting/growing season and year. We can use them for sewing supplies or art supplies. Instant drink packets, seasoning packets and shakers, granola bars, little packets of vitamin-rich gummy treats, boxes and packets of pudding or gelatin mixes, and other kitchen items fit easily. We can arrange them to be a general category like snacks or spices, or we can set each up by expiration or best-by date.

Educational goodies, supplies for the radio room or office, entertainment items, hygiene items, and especially first-aid and medical items that do start separating or losing efficiency are all other options for storing someplace we can find and see them easily and check those dates without pawing through boxes.

We can use hanging closet organizers much the same way to buy some extra space, although they’re not as handy for the tiny little items and still have the weight restrictions.

We can also use them to help us ration, just like we can with canning jars. We can pack each with a week, a month, or a quarter’s “goodies”. That can be seasonings or instant helpers like gravy or dressing mix. It can also be things like chocolate chips, tea bags or a brick of coffee, smaller packets of cookie, edible cake decorations, or Slim Jim’s. Some of the shoe organizers are big enough we could even seed them with fresh games like Qwixx or Dog Bites Man, new decks of cards, some specialty feel-good lotion or chap stick, or something seasonal to brighten the mood.

Another option is to use a shoe organizer as a pre-staging area. Rather than those things that jump in buggies getting tossed in a box or drawer for a while, they can get slotted by category. It can also help with those items that seems like a great idea but then hide when we want them. That can be everything from eyeglass repair kits and those mini sewing kits, to things like outlet and light-switch wall plates, overhead pull cords, and those plastic twisty-cap wire connectors that like to multiply in drawers and tool rooms.

Curtain Rods

While we’re hanging things to improve our organization, we can keep an eye out for curtain rods. With some rings and-or big S-hooks, they can help us in all kinds of spaces. We can mount them in our bathrooms – and our outdoor camping/solar showers – to drape bathroom organizers and avoid having stuff sit on ledges and floors. With hooks affixed to light baskets and tubs, what we can hang for easy access increases even further.  Those baskets can easily be the bathroom organizers or oddball dishwasher or silverware baskets that show up here and there or wire or plastic bins form the dollar store, and get used for school and office supplies, kitchen spices, each individual’s hankies and bandanas, or anything else we like.

We can arrange them under cabinets or against walls to keep items like spools of thread, bungee cords, and weed-eater wire accessible. With hooks or loops, we can add our extension cords, gloves, and tools. By our doors, they’re another easy way to keep hats and gloves organized, and the airflow they’ll get will let them dry faster.

While I specified curtain rods, be flexible while we’re upcycling and repurposing. I see swingsets and bed frames on freebie listings and by the curb on a regular basis. Tree trimmings can yield nice, straight pieces. The scrap guys in town will let us have pretty much whatever we want at about a halfway between their cost and sale price. Be flexible.


Garage & Shed Storage

We can use all kinds of oddball wrecked, found, used, or inexpensive items for storage, although the garage and shed where we don’t have to hear anything from family members really shines. We can use coat hangers and hooks with a piece of looped rope, chain, or bungee cord to keep heavy extension cords, hoses, and heavy rope neatly coiled and off the flat surfaces. A wrecked binder offers three rings that can hold anything, from our bungee cords to cleaned cans with a hole punched that can then hold our paint brushes, garden pruners, gloves, or safety glasses.

You have to pretty much murder somebody to find them now, but a plastic 2L soda bottle is awesome for allowing us to stack and move bottles and for keeping stuff in a pickup or van right where you want it. They can also be screwed flat to a wall to use the holes as shallow storage nodes, but they’re too shallow to have much value for me there. Instead, see if a plumbing outfitter or company has PVC scrap. It’s usually deeper and you can cobble that into a honeycomb with some screws and get a lot more use out of it.


All kinds of things that hit our recycling and trash have other uses, particularly in keeping our storage neat and tidy. The cardboard boxes that soda comes in get a lot of play for upcycling into soup and veggie can organizers, but we can also just slit the top off entirely. Swiffer pad tubs are awesome for stacking and labeling the sides, but really only for lightweight stuff. Old-school laundry detergent boxes with the flip-up lid and the little plastic handle are sturdy, stackable, and you can hook that handle around a screwdriver on your belt or a carabiner for hands-free carrying. Plastic coffee cans, jugs, powdered parmesan shakers, and creamer tubs are hugely versatile.

Indoors or out, they can help us organize absolutely anything. Arrange packets of Lipton and Knorr sides, seeds, Heartgard and Frontline, or spice blends. Keep extension cords, tow cables, tie-down straps, or Christmas lights neat and tidy, and ready to deploy again (which buys time and space for other stuff). They can also help us keep kits of commonly replaced items together.

The plastic options can help us keep pests out of dry pantry goods and little packets of drinks or boxes of pudding. Those plastic bottles are also handy for rationing out things like brown and white sugar that last forever in storage, or once we bust into bulk bags or buckets of snack foods and dry goods.

Drink bottles get a lot of play for organizing wire, ribbon, and cord. If you have access to wide-mouth juice or sports drink bottles, those make excellent ways to keep some ammo in a bag nice and dry – but don’t try it with narrow-neck water and soda bottles, not even with .22 LR. There’s nothing wrong with using them for beans or grains, either, since they stack up like cordwood well.

Mostly, though, I think people seriously underestimate how much water they need. I may be the only person affected by Uncle Murphy on a regular basis, but you need water stored even with a well, because you need time to hunt down the problem and repair it if the pump goes down. So, for the most part, I’d rather see soda bottles get used to store water, everywhere, in homes and in vehicles.

Organizing Preparedness Supplies

The time spent in organizing not only makes maintaining our storage a little less daunting and time consuming, but also allows us to better visualize gaps. The sanity boost from neatness and not being overwhelmed by our piles o’ stuff can’t really be overstated, either, and less-involved family is less likely to add to our stresses when they’re not overwhelmed by it all, too. Since there’s so many items out there that we can scrounge for free or little outlay and repurpose, we really don’t have any excuse not to keep our storage organized.

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Travel Apps You Must Have For Your Next Trip

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Rachel Summers to The Prepper Journal. If only there were an app to beam us past TSA. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

The smartphone has revolutionized the way we travel. In the old days, you’d be snowed under with maps, travel guides, and other accessories to get you through your trip. These days, all you need is your phone and a Wi-Fi connection. Here’s 10 of the best apps you should be downloading before you travel.

  1. Uber

Need a ride? This popular taxi/ride sharing app has you covered. You can use your phone to summon a driver, and you can see exactly where they are on the map. You’ll even have their name, picture, and license plate, so you know who’s coming. Share your ride on social media too, so you’re safe when you step in the car. This is especially helpful if you’re travelling alone.

  1. Skype

If you’re going to be away for a long period of time, at some point you’re going to get homesick. Back in the day you’d have to send a postcard, or make an expensive long distance phone call. These days, all you need to do is fire up Skype and chat to your loved ones at home. It’s free too, so it’s not going to make any dent in your travel budget.

  1. Google Translate

If you’re going to a country that speaks a different language, it’s advisable to learn at least some of the language yourself. There are even language apps like Best Australian Writers and Grammarix, which are among the top 10 learning tools out there. However, you’re not going to be perfect. Google Translate will handle translations for you, so you’re never stuck. You can even use the app to scan writing and have it translated in real time.

  1. Hopper

Flight shopping is one of the most frustrating experiences for travellers. Search around and prices vary wildly. When’s the best time go? This app will help. It searches all available flights and gives you a list depending on your needs, whether that’s cheapest first, or in a certain time frame. It’s a good way to know you’re always getting the best deals.

  1. XE Currency

‘Currency rates are always fluctuating. If you don’t keep on top of them, you won’t know what you’re paying when you’re away’ says travel manager Janet Ducal from Australian Reviewer. ‘It’s best to have an app that can tell you exactly what you’re spending.’ XE Currency is the best way of doing this. This well respected app will show you up to date currency rates, so you know exactly what you’re paying out while you’re abroad.

  1. Wi-Fi Map

These days you’ve got to have Wi-Fi, wherever you are. Many businesses are realising this, and are offering Wi-Fi to their patrons. This app is how you find them. Boot it up, and it’ll use your location to search for Wi-Fi locations around you. You’ll then be able to find the nearest hotspot to you, so you can get work done or upload those holiday snaps without eating into your data.

  1. Triposo

This app is designed to be used offline, so even if you can’t find a nearby Wi-Fi signal, you’re in luck. It’ll pull travel guides and other useful information from thousands of different sites online. When you’re out in the Wi-Fi wilderness, you can still pull on the information found there, thanks to this app.

  1. Snapseed

Your travel pictures are great, but some of them aren’t as good looking as you want them to be. That sunset is a bit washed out, or that photo of you in a club is slightly too dark. This app will help you edit them so they’re perfect. ‘This app was great was I was on the go and needed to upload pictures’ says travel blogger Gerry Henderson from Elite Assignment Help. ‘I could edit a picture in a few minutes on my phone, and it’d be ready to go.’

  1. Pocket

When you’re out on the road, you’re going to need some reading material. You’ll be spending time on planes, buses, and waiting rooms as you make connections. Pocket helps you collect and save reading material online, so you can read it when you’re ready. It’s brilliant when you find yourself with an hour layover and nothing to do.

  1. AirBNB

Many travelers swear by this app if you’re looking for a place to stay. An AirBNB can be a lot more comfortable than a hotel. They’re a good option if you’re travelling with a large party too. ‘The best part is they’re often very affordable’ says traveler Fiona Morgan from Revieweal. ‘It meant I could afford to see places I couldn’t have otherwise gone to.’

Give these apps a try the next time you travel. They can make the process a whole lot easier, and more enjoyable.

Rachel Summers is a veteran writer, living and working in the UK. She specializes in education, working with companies such as UK Top Writers. She aims to make education easier for everyone, and to help students find the best ways to tackle their studies.

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Learn How to Manage Your Sleep for Optimum Health and Increased Longevity

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

As a prepper, you need to learn diametrically opposite things when it comes to sleep. Both are useful for different situations.

On one hand, you need to learn how to get a good night’s sleep–because this is useful for everyday performance. Without adequate levels of rest, humans deteriorate both physically and mentally to the point where our very lives are at risk. For example, extreme exhaustion can lead to impaired judgment, something nobody wants in a life or death situation. Furthermore, lack of sleep can do damage to the immune system, making us especially susceptible to illness and infections which may be difficult to treat in an environment where resources are limited.

On the other hand, you’ve got to learn about the benefits of sleep deprivation in training–because this will help you remain alert and able during an emergency when you’ve had little or no sleep. Despite the health risks posed by not getting enough sleep, the human body and mind can continue to function for a surprisingly long time without proper rest. You’ll be able to perform well despite sleep deprivation if you’ve undergone the necessary training beforehand.

Since both are topics that can be discussed at length, for the sake of focus, let’s talk about how to sleep well first and why it is essential that you understand how to get a good night’s sleep and why it’s important. We will address the benefits of learning to function better in spite of a lack of sleep in a follow-up article.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Here are three ways to make sure you sleep well:

Sleep on a good mattress: A good mattress is essential for getting a good night’s sleep. A good bedding/mattress store will offers mattresses from top manufacturers like Serta, Simmons, TempurPedic, and Taylor & Wells. So the first place to start when it comes to troubleshooting how to improve the quality of your night’s rest is with a good mattress. One that is right for you. This is one of the things that, well, getting a bargain is never a bad thing, but sacrificing comfort and function for a few buck is NOT a smart decision.

Keep your bedroom dark and quiet: Our Stone Age ancestors slept in dark, quiet and cool caves and caverns. Consequently, we may be biologically primed to respond to these conditions. When a room is dark and quiet, and when it isn’t hot and stuffy, we sleep deeply. Darkening your room is as simple as turning off bright electronics in your bedroom, like your digital clock,  computer, and television, adding window coverings and closing doors. If, for some reason, you can’t reduce the noise in the house, buy a white noise machine. And, finally, adjust the thermostat for the right temperature.

Enjoy a hot shower or bath before bed to calm your mind and relax your muscles: Although you’ll sleep better in a cooler room than a hotter one, your muscles relax more when you raise your body’s core temperature with a hot bath. Also, consider adding a few drops of a calming essential oil like lavender to the bath or as a mist on sheets to help trigger drowsiness.

Why You Need to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Here is a quick list of the seven benefits you’ll get after a good night’s sleep:

You’ll get smarter: A good night’s sleep improves alertness and cognitive function. Additionally, sleep helps you remember important information. If you study before sleep, a process called Memory Consolidation helps your brain make connections, find contextual relationships, and build long-term memories.

You’ll be less stressed: When you’re sleep deprived, your blood pressure and stress hormones spike. Observable symptoms of stress from sleep deprivation include irritation, anger, and overwhelm. People who have not had a good night’s rest are more likely to lose patience with their spouse and children, yelling at them for trivial issues. They are also likely to be disinterested and unmotivated in things that they previously found engaging. 

You’ll live longer: Studies have shown that there’s a direct correlation between the overall quality of sleep you get every night and your longevity. Every major physiological system and organ appears to be compromised when a person does not get enough sleep. For instance, they find difficulty in thinking clearly, heart variance rates are higher, and their immune system is compromised. When you get enough sleep, it will improve your overall health.  Sleep helps your body heal from the pain of a recent injury, and it also boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, controls blood sugar, and regulates heart rate. 

You’ll be in a better mood: If you get enough sleep every night, your serotonin levels will soar, promoting a sense of peace and a feeling of well-being. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex play a critical role in mood regulation. Connectivity between these two brain centers is higher when you’re well-rested and much lower when you’re suffering from sleep deprivation. This enhanced connectivity results in more effective executive functioning, better reactivity, and reduced impulsiveness.

You’ll be more attractive: When you sleep, your body begins to repair your skin, adding collagen protein and regenerating cells. Collagen prevents skin from sagging, and when you have plenty of collagen your skin is plumper. Conversely, insufficient collagen causes wrinkling. 

You’ll control your weight: Weight control is managed by the hormones leptin and ghrelin. When you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of leptin go up, which, in turn, stimulates your appetite, making you overeat. Insufficient sleep also spikes up ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, reduces how many calories you burn, and increases how much fat you store. So, when leptin and ghrelin levels go up because of insufficient sleep, it becomes almost impossible to lose weight. 

You’ll be less accident-prone:  Although clumsiness caused by drowsiness might just result in bumps and bruises or dropping and breaking things, some accidents are far more dangerous. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving causes fatalities. In 2014, they reported 846 deaths were due to drowsy driving. Although much attention has been paid to fatalities and injuries due to alcohol, sleepiness has also played a significant role in poor decisions and slow reaction times behind the wheel.   

The one lesson we probably all wish we’d learned years ago would be how to get a good night’s sleep. When you get good at figuring out how to get enough sleep, you’ll feel alert and ready to deal with anything that comes your way during the day. Good sleep allows you to feel happier and be healthier. You’ll be at your best the next day, ready and able to perform mental and physical tasks well.

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Grid-Down Intel: Finding Resources

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from R.Ann Parris to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Information is hugely important to success in any endeavor. We have to know what’s going on to best respond. There are all kinds of clues we can take from our surroundings and the skies to fill in some of the gaps the loss of the internet leaves, but a biggie is going to be just finding things. Many of us know our immediate towns well, although we might not be intimately familiar with all the back alleys of every community and crossroad in our county. If the grid is down for any amount of time, locating resources in less-known or new places is going to get a whole lot harder.

There are any number of reasons we might go looking for something – or anything. We might develop a community that ends up needing a resupply, be part of a nomadic community that forms, or be hoofing it home from afar.

Information about where we are and what’s around us can dictate which roads we parallel or which direction we head. Never having been in an area before, we can still find places to seek refuge and supplies, as well as areas to give wide berths.

For example, I might think it’s a great idea to hit a park with old Indian caverns since there’s water, fishing, foraging, shelter, and maybe still canoes. However, I might not if I know they have their own zoo or are right beside a big cat sanctuary, given the number of caretakers who might release their charges to give them a chance.

I for sure do not want to tromp through the vicinity of a drive-through safari park that uses hot lines, chain link, and moats if there have been storms dropping trees. I walked in on that episode of The 100. I do not want to annoy a gorilla.

(The 100, by the way, is gorier than I’d have expected a CW show for/about young adults to be, and did not in some hit-and-miss scrolling appear to actually have any useful survival tips, if it was on your watchlist.)

Depending on the type of disaster – its speed, duration, and effects – schools and various correctional facilities might be excellent locations to aim for. If they were evacuated and have not yet been re-occupied, they can be great sources for food, bottled drinks, hygiene and medical supplies, clothing, weapons in many cases (guards, but also confiscated items), and tools.

The flip side is that some inmates are really bad guys, and some schools are shelters. Depending on the time of year and even the day of the week and their delivery schedule, there may or may not be anything left in them as far as foods go, either in cafeterias or in the staff room or snack carts and vending. Still, if I’m in month/year six and have assimilated a group of refugees or a growing compound, it might be worth checking for cleaning supplies, trash bags with their many uses, trash cans for water catchment or container planting, and windows to extend the season.

So how do we find these, and check for risks or other useful locations that might be near them, without our handy smart phone and computer? We pass the answers on pretty much every shopping trip, and can keep an eye out for them when we’re “shopping” after a disaster as well.

Phone Books

A local-area phone book can be a goldmine of information. Sometimes they contain only bare-bones, general maps, but there are sometimes more detailed sections. Some of the ads will actually have maps on them, too. They’re small and bare-bones, too, but usually there’s a reference from a major roadway nearby.

Those ads are particularly useful, but we can also check the white and yellow page listings for things like animal control (live traps, sometimes to regularly buckets and catch poles, radio equipment), hardware stores, hotels, schools, distribution centers (the places where semi trucks pick up and deliver all the things that make it to our store shelves), assisted living and nursing homes, seed and feed distributors, restaurants (we’ll detail that a little more in a minute), lockups, and various factories.

The books themselves have a ton of uses (now as well as later), but the information they offer is an enormous resource, too.

Brochures for Area Attractions

At the front of hotels and welcome centers, there’s usually a rack of glossy pamphlets. Those can give us a big boost for things to hit – or, as mentioned previously, to avoid. With them, we can find parks with fishing, camping and RV locations, some of the restaurants in the area, and oddballs like a wine trail or microbrewery, “Tigers for Tomorrow”, and an unclaimed luggage store.

Museums might get marked “skip it” as a resource center, but they have concessions and sometimes cafeterias and are unlikely to be on the top of the list for others to scavenge. Casinos, too.

Ball parks are among the many that now get a lot delivered fresh and may very well be an evacuation shelter, but they also have shelf-stable cheese and chili for the dispensers (freakish, I know) and other canned goods, powder mixes and bottled drinks, team shower facilities, tons of coolers and cleaning supplies, team-logo clothing and blankets, and umpteen paper products.

One of the charming aspects of those brochures is that most of them still include a map or turn-by-turn directions from a major roadway or the compass points. That can be super useful in a world where our phones and cars no longer give us directions on command.

There’s also usually a stack of phone books somewhere behind hotel reception desks. That desk area can also be a source for a pretty nicely detailed map of the area – even at the Motel 6 and Knight’s Inn level of lodging.

Freebie Publications

In front of all kinds of storefronts but especially supermarkets, there are stands with freebie papers and magazines. Some of them aren’t overly useful, but there are a few that can be huge helps whether we’re working in our local area or just passing through.

There are usually some vehicle-sales and real estate oriented books in there with them. A rental or a bank-owned/foreclosed home that was uninhabited at the start of a disaster stands a better chance of not encroaching on anyone’s territory, making for a safer temporary abode for foraging, resting, getting out of weather, curing game or fish, or recovering from an injury. Most private sales aren’t going to give you more than a phone number these days, but the dealerships can also be places to scout for a replacement part for our vehicle that can be salvaged or traded for, or net a vehicle that can actually be driven without a key (in dire emergencies with few survivors anywhere).

We commonly need a good map to take advantage, but if we can find one or make a list of cross streets to remember, we can find some useful locations in those freebie paper listings and advertisement pages. That can include locations of restaurants that may have less-obvious food sources the average looter overlooks, oil for biofuel, mechanics, and stores where the foods and drinks at most counters will have been overlooked, like a Marshal’s, Hobby Lobby, or Petco.

What, Where and When

By type of disaster and the type of scrounging being done – a person or a handful on foot or in a single vehicle, or a convoy going out for a surviving community – the risks and needs change. So will the locations with the most possibilities for us. If we’re avoiding attraction and well into a disaster, we’re more likely to skip over some of the “obvious” locations and those in dense areas. We might work outskirts instead, and focus on locations that were probably hit for one thing, but maybe not another or everything.

An example of that would be heading for a fuel processing plant or distributor instead of a gas station, or hitting that gas station with a sledge hammer to go through the CMU brick (as opposed to using weed eater cord to defeat the metal plate or trying to pick a high-value lock – not my best skillset) to check for food, drinks, tools, and bags in supply rooms instead of trying to siphon fuel from empty tanks with my handy garden hose and bike pump.

I might opt to skip a zoo in most situations. On the other hand, if I have buddies to watch my sides and back with a .3-something caliber repeater and I’m pretty sure I’ll survive the mental trauma that’s waiting when animals get locked up and abandoned, that zoo might be a handy source for animal feed, concession or vending locations, and hunting opportunities. Almost all of them will have buckets, tools, and cleaning supplies. If it’s empty, there’s fencing and barbed wire. There may still be veterinarian supplies.

I might even luck out and some of the petting zoo or tamable critters have survived the loose lioness or hippos, and I can convince them to come live with me since I’m there anyway (with my armed guards in case the gorillas survived, too).

Some of the locations to consider scouting for supplies are:

– Veterinarian offices, to include racetracks and sanctuaries

– Distribution centers – both manufacturer goods and end-point retailers (Mars and Buffalo Rock, as opposed to Target), or something like a Wakefield that services distribution and warehousing for other companies

– Construction and renovations sites and companies

– Towing and vehicle maintenance services

– Vehicle fleet services, especially with heavy diesel ratios or rental trucks/cars but including the power company, pest control companies, internet providers, and others that maintain a fleet

– Hotels, casinos, museums, civic centers

– Rental storage units (vehicles and sale supplies; contents vary wildly)

– Clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities

– Zoos, sanctuaries, petting zoos, animal control, humane societies

– Animal, automobile, and antiques auction houses

– Building and earth-moving equipment rental companies

– Restaurants, cafeterias, caterers, and vending supply companies

– Nurseries, you-pick orchards and berry farms, nursery suppliers

– Universities, junior colleges and high schools; elementary grade schools

– Rental homes, foreclosure/bank-owned real estate

Remember, what we’re looking for isn’t always the obvious. Hospitals might be devoid of drugs and have run through generator fuel, but that generator may still be there and I might be after buckets, cleaning supplies, and linens. I might have my fingers crossed for a ride, but a vehicle fleet is also “just” a source of fuel, tires, oil, coolant, and batteries as well as other supplies whether it’s Enterprise, Verizon, or Bubba-Bob’s Construction.

What’s useful changes by our specific situation. How worth it a trip is varies, too, on our situation and the most-likely yields waiting for us. Worth an overnighter or if it’s in a direction that’s as good as any other? Maybe. But I’m not kidding about having buddies and the right firearms if it’s near a zoo.

On the other hand, if bad guys get me and I paid attention to the information around me and thus know there’s a zoo within a reasonable distance, I’m totally leading/sending them there and rooting for the gorillas, gators, and bears. Intel has all kinds of uses. We just have to collect and apply it.

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Often Overlooked Things

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from The Redneck Prepper to The Prepper Journal.  As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

We as preppers tend to always be prepared for the worst scenarios possible, but what if we are caught in a bad, but not worst case, scenario? As a man who has lived through a few disasters of different descriptions, I would like to share some thoughts with you all.

Imagine the following scenario if you will:

You have just survived a disaster without any casualties or major damage. Your generator is gassed up, plenty of oil and gas to keep it running, non-perishable food, medical supplies, etc. You have your own water well, and with your generator, you are not worried about water supply. You have power, but nothing happens when you turn the faucet on. Why? Because the wind/water/etc. Has damaged your plumbing. Now what?

This is the exact scenario my family faced after hurricane Rita in 2005. The force of the wind shifted the pump house, moving the water tank and breaking the plumbing. Thankfully pvc pipe can be patched relatively quickly. However, as a recent freeze taught us, you must be prepared to potentially replace ALL of the plumbing in your home. Always have extra pipe and fittings on hand in the appropriate sizes and materials for your home plumbing system. Do not forget primer and cement if you are working with pvc.

And what of electrical? A disaster can seriously damage your electrical system. Perhaps it will be as simple as capping off an unnecessary leg of a circuit. Perhaps you will need to rebuild a vital part of the system. Either way, having extra wire on hand is a great idea. Not to mention the correct tools for the job, as well as wire nuts and electrical tape.

I am ashamed to admit this, but there was a time when certain among us were caught without a manually operated can opener. Not everyone was born a prepper. Make sure to have extras.

A bathroom can be damaged too. It never hurts to have trash bags and toilet paper stored away. I speak from experience when I say that toilet paper is a wonderful luxury after a disaster.

Something I have not yet obtained, but fully believe everyone should have is a small boat. I lived through the flood of 1994, and did not think the water could every be higher. Harvey taught us all a lesson. Myself and my family were blessed enough to not have to be rescued, but it was 1” away. Literally, 1” from the threshold. I will be adding a boat to my supplies.

Now lets think about that generator. You probably have many gallons of fuel stored away, of course with the correct amount of stabilizer mixed in. There are probably cases of oil stored in a safe location as well. But what if this turns into an extended outage? Do you have spark plugs? Spare air filters? Oil filters (if your model uses one)? What about carburetors? From years of being the local guy everyone brings small engines to, I can tell you that carburetors often fail with today’s fuel. Even those that are cared for in the best manner possible. Ignition coils can fail without warning as well. It is worth it to know your machinery and have spare parts on hand. You only want to use your backup generator for the few minutes it will take to repair your main unit.

Having your chainsaw in good working order is also very important. There have been occasions where it is imperative that you be able to clear fallen trees or large wooden debris quickly. I have seen outbuildings mostly toppled after storms, and sometimes it is better to just cut them apart in a controlled manner and eliminate the danger of them falling the rest of the way. Assuming you can’t yank them down with your truck in the redneck style, that makes it go faster. The point is, you should always have fresh fuel for your saw, a spare chain, spare spark plug, and plenty of chain oil on hand.

There are some smaller jobs where the hassle and fuel consumption of power tools is just not warranted. For those moments, I always like to have a few sharp axes, machetes, hatchets and the like on hand. Most people have them stored away somewhere, but when was the last time you checked the edge on it? It is easier to sharpen them now with power tools than it will be to take the time and file sharpen them in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

Perhaps these things I have mentioned do not apply in every circumstance. Or perhaps some of you have already taken the steps I have mentioned. My hope is that my experiences may be able to keep even one other person from having to learn these things the hard way. In the end, that’s what it’s all about. If the prepper community does not endeavor to support and educate each other, we will all suffer in the long run.

This brings me to my final point: people. We all attempt to educate and inform friends and family regarding the world of preparedness. And that in itself is a good thing. But do we talk too much? What if a young child mentions it to his/her friends? Or a good friend talks to outsiders? Even a spouse with a random comment? This poses two distinct issues. First, people know where to steal from. But have you ever considered political correctness? What if the powers that be consider your guns/knives/attitude to be a threat? I hope this inspires you to be very careful before discussing your plans. As sad as it is, you must consider all possibilities in today’s society. Which may in the long run be the biggest threat we face. Nature will do as nature does, but people are the most unpredictable thing there is!

Also worth note, I am not a writer by trade, so all mistakes in grammar are my own (Editor’s Note: None were found.) Until next time, keep your knives sharp, your guns clean, and your ammo dry.

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Urban Preppers: Five Things You Should Know About Community Gardens

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Sarah to The Prepper Journal. All things garden and growing your own food this week as planting time is upon us.  And, as always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Community gardens have grown globally in recent years, from 1960’s onward. Perhaps, this is due to the growing number of us living in skyscrapers in cities, with little opportunity to take in the fresh air and get our hands dirty. Or perhaps it is because, in an increasingly digital world, we long for something to bring us together in the real world. Regardless of the reason why, community gardens have become more popular, and here are five things you need to know about them.

What is a Community Garden?

A community garden is any plot of land that is used by a number of people, either by separating the plot into individual lots or sharing the plot as one large lot, for gardening.

There are many community gardens across the world, and most are used as:

  • Gathering places
  • Showcases for ecological and art awareness, and
  • Food production

More European-style gardens consist of allotments where individuals or families can grow their own food or flowers, although these have normally evolved from “victory gardens” from the Second World War.

Plot sizes can vary from as tiny as 1.5 squared meters (4’ 9” x 4’ 9”) in inner city gardens or art gardens to as large as 15 squared meters (49’ x 49’).

Communal gardens have a variety of uses, such as:

  • Providing green space
  • Providing habitats for smaller creatures
  • Growing flowers rather than food
  • Providing education to local schools
  • Providing gardens for those who otherwise wouldn’t have a garden, such as the homeless, the elderly or recent immigrants.

The Right Gardening Tools

Before getting started in gardening, it’s important to have the right tools. This will make your time much more productive, and could actually be beneficial to your health! How many of us remember our moms and dads digging out flower beds or weeding the garden, and then being full of aches and pains for a few days? It all comes down to having the right tools.

You shouldn’t have to worry too much about heavy machinery. Most community gardens will supply training and guidance on using specialized tools. In one garden I recently visited, they even had a community table saw to build fences and wooden containers! In others, I’ve also seen that they provide access to a lawn mower for large plots with plenty of grass, and chainsaws or tree pruners for plots with large trees.

However, you should still have a variety of your own tools best suited to your own needs, such as:

  • A reliable string trimmer, if your garden doesn’t allow for “free growing” and prefers the look of neatly trimmed yards with food or flowers growing within
  • A heavy-duty garden brush, to clean up any mess you would make on paths etc
  • A rake, to help you spread evenly compost or soil
  • A composter or rubbish bin, although there may be a community composter or bin you can use
  • Garden clothing such as boots or gardening gloves
  • A bird feeder or table, to give the surrounding nature a helping hand
  • Plant food, grass seed, bark or compost depending on what you would like to use your plot for
  • Pest control or weed killer, although some gardens do not allow you to use chemicals
  • Starter plants or seeds
  • Depending on the weather in your country, you may need your own hose, but this could be provided.

You don’t have to have everything on this list, or you may think of other things you might want. The important thing is to get out there and have a great time.

Types of Gardens

There are four main types of gardens, which are:

Neighborhood Gardens – The most common garden, where people work together to grow fruits and vegetables. The plots inside them are usually rented for a small fee.

Residential Gardens – These gardens are used by the people in block communities, assisted living and affordable housing in cities or towns. They are organised and maintained by the people living there.


Institutional Gardens – These are attached to public businesses such as hospitals or private communities like prisons to improve mental health and physical health as well as providing skills for employment.

Demonstration Gardens – These have educational purposes, and often offer classes about gardening, and can help in setting up a community garden.

Administration of Community Gardens

Most community gardens are:

  • Inclusive
  • Diverse
  • Pro-democracy
  • Community-driven

But all gardens have an organization structure of some kind. This depends on whether the garden is “top down” e.g. a management team at the top, or “grass roots” e.g. the individual members make the decisions. Either way, you’ll find one that suits your style.

Health Benefits

Everyone knows that keeping physically active helps keep us healthy. However, community gardens have also been linked to various factors such as:

  • Reduced rates of obesity
  • Availability of affordable fruits and vegetables
  • Consumption of fruits and vegetables

So there you have it, community gardens are great for you, your family, your community, and the local wildlife. So if you haven’t joined a garden yet, why not do it now?

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Orchestrate Your Orchard for Success

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Nigel to The Prepper Journal. With Spring even breaking across our norther border with Canada the time to be doing this is NOW, or as soon as possible anyway. And, as always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Orchards are a great way to get ready for long-term survival. They are sturdier than most crops, and don’t need to be replanted. They can offer a large amount of produce for a relatively low input of energy, and the options are broad in most climates.

Especially in cold areas, orchards can provide food that supplies vital nutrients and keeps longer than most vegetables. Apples, for instance, can be wrapped in newspaper, straw or other carbon-based material and stored for months on end without losing their flavor and nutritional value. Stored fruit easily can or cook down for a flavorful addition to the potentially meager meals of winter. Fruit from your own orchard can be a great addition to your other food stores.

By planting a variety of types of trees in your orchard, you reduce the risk of losing most or all of your crop if a parasite or dry spell occurs. Dwaft trees in your orchard can mean that you get more varieties in a small space and also extend your harvest season. Having a variety of fruits will prevent boredom, too.

Caring for a Variety of Fruit Trees

While it is nice to have the variety, peaches, pears, apples, cherries, and nectarines all have different needs. If you are further south, you might have citrus trees that are even more specific in their care. Most people know to trim their trees back slightly in the fall. You should also clean up any fallen fruit- if it is diseased or develops certain fungi, it can “mummify” and infect your trees in the spring. You should also clean up leaves, especially if you have cool summers- leaves can keep mold and fungus spores alive over winter.

In the spring, there is a little more work to do.


Now is the time to add compost and reinforce your tree wells. Fish and tea compost is beneficial at this early stage of the game, although shredded leaves and trimmings are also helpful. Be sure not to apply this too thick, or it can instigate mold issues.

You can also apply copper or neem oil to trees at this time. Coat the leaves and branches alike in an even layer. This will go a long way towards preventing disease and insect infestation.

Fruit from the previous season shouldn’t be used as fertilizer. You might use it for your vegetable garden. However, when applied to the type of tree it came from, mummified fruit is likely to start disease or encourage insects to move in.


The simplest first step is to whitewash the trunks of your fruit trees. They were protected from the stronger summer rays of the sun in the previous year, but the spring can be difficult. The lack of thick shading from leaves opens up trunks and larger branches to sunburn. You can use a traditional paint or you can use specially formulated or homemade paint. The goal is to add a physical barrier between the trunk and the sun.

You should also use this time to trim away any diseased or damaged wood. Shoots near the base can harbor borers, which will kill an orchard in a short amount of time. Dying wood can also hold disease and should be removed.

Pruning and Trimming: Emergency Cutting

With the exception of peaches, fruit trees should be trimmed and pruned during the dormant season. However, taking care of any “emergency pruning” in spring is essential to the success of any tree. Taking a day to trim away any wayward growth in the spring can increase your harvest by almost double, because energy and nutrition aren’t being redirected to unnecessary branches and offshoots instead of your fruit.

Only allow growths at strong angles to grow. Branches at very wide or narrow angles invite splitting due to fruit weight or weather later on, and make it difficult for fruit to hang in such a way that the greatest number can reach maturity. Aim for angles of 10 or 2 o’ clock, with the main trunk being 12 on the clock.

Similarly, if you are allowing buds to grow, stay within an inch of the bud. If you cut a branch down too close to the bud, it will likely grow in an unwanted direction. You will then have to trim it, losing both your original branch and the desired bud. If you cut too far from the bud, the branch will grow back, eating up resources the tree could use elsewhere.

Finally, trim at the point where a sprout is aimed in the direction you desire. It will continue to grow in this direction. Using these general guidelines will provide optimum shaping.

In case of a power outage, the best pruning tools are either a manual pruner saw or gas-powered pole saw. Electric tools require the additional, fuel-wasting step of a generator were there a disaster- your fuel will last longer than a power plant will likely stay on. Gas-run pruners and saws make your work easy without gambling that they could be rendered essentially useless with one outage. However, if you have an alternative electricity source like solar power you may opt for an electric pole saw option.

Pruning and Trimming: Peach Trees

Peach trees will need a stronger saw, as their wood is fairly dense. However, the rules for cutting back and shaping peach trees is very similar to other fruit trees. Aim for 10 or 2 o’clock angles, cut an inch from the bud, and cut in the direction you desire growth.

Peach trees are unique in that if you cut them before they bud, their production will suffer. Winter pruning signals distress to a peach tree, and it will divert resources to fixing this “problem” rather than growing fruit. Instead, waiting until spring means the tree has already begun the start of the fruiting process (budding) and will more readily accept pruning.


Again resist the temptation to use trimmings from your pruning days as compost material. You should similarly avoid adding leaves from your trees, unless they are thoroughly broken down. Otherwise, you create a breeding ground for diseases that can wipe out a tree or an orchard.

Instead, use a chipper mulcher to chip completely dry pruning. These can be placed around the tree to help it retain moisture in the summer. Leave a space between the trunk and the mulch of a few inches at least, so that you do not smother the tree or encourage mold.

Starting or Expanding an Orchard

When starting or expanding an orchard it can be tempting to plan the seeds of fruit that you have on hand. Maybe the seeds of fruit you purchased from the market or even from one of your existing trees. This can be hit and miss and is not usually advisable. Modern day fruit trees are a Frankenstein’s monster of different hybrids and often a graft of a good fruit baring variety on a different but good hardy root system variety. If you are new to fruit trees it is easier to buy and plant them as bare rooted fruit trees. If you want a DIY approach to propagating fruit trees you may want to learn about grafting.


Grafting can increase your orchard’s pollination options and increase fruiting success. Grafting different varieties to an existing tree can also give you a wider variety of flavor options in your harvest. However, grafts need a clean cut. The smoother and more even the branch stem and the adjoining graft are, the more likely they are to succeed. While your sugar or sap glue mixture will connect the two parts, a greater contact surface area means a higher rate of success.

Overall, your spring work will likely require about a day for each five to ten trees you have. Larger trees take more time, so plan accordingly. It is important to do this before the last frost but after budding, so plan accordingly.

Author bio: Nigel William writes about topics like camping, survival, gardening, DIY, and home improvement among other things.

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Bags for Survival

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Written by John Hertig on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from John Hertig to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

It seems that everybody (or nearly everybody) has heard of the “BOB” or “Bug Out Bag“.  Some may have heard of other “bags” and concluded they are all the same.  They are similar, but not the same.  The “bags” we will consider are:

EDC Every Day Carry

GHB Get Home Bag

GOODGet Out of Dodge bag

BOBBug Out Bag

INCH I’m Never Coming Home bag


Survival Kit

The Rule of Threes

Whenever thinking about survival, it is good to keep the “Rule of Threes” in mind.  This is a set of guideline about what can kill you fastest, and provides a guide for the priority of survival equipment and tasks.  Simply stated, this is:

In any extreme situation, a person usually cannot survive for more than:

– 3 minutes without air (or blood circulation or with arterial bleeding)

– 3 hours without shelter

– 3 days without water (or treatment for some medical conditions)

– 3 weeks without food

Note that lack of food will kill you just as dead as lack of air; it just takes longer.  That does not mean that considering food in your survival planning or tasks should not be done, just that it should not be done first.  Also, this is not a guarantee.  Depending on conditions, these problems could kill you sooner, or even later.  Again, this is merely a guide to priorities to be used in choosing equipment and supplies in advance of need, and scheduling tasks in an emergency situation.

Note that “darkness” is not on the list as a killer, but it kind of should be.  Not because darkness itself can harm you, but not being able to see what you are doing or where you are walking can kill or harm you.  A source of light should be high in every list of survival supplies.

Survival Kits

These are designed for PERSONAL emergencies, not major disasters affecting a large number of people.  As such, they should have a significant focus on signaling for help.  With good signaling capability, usually this situation will only last for a day or two, so your primary focus is on severe bleeding and shelter, with water and other medical supplies secondary.  Food should be a distant third priority.

A survival kit can fit in your pocket if there is very little chance you’ll need it (around town), in a belt pack if you are close to civilization, or in your backpack when you are really heading into the wilds.  In addition to light and signaling, it should include something which can be used to stop severe bleeding, and a way (better is a couple of ways) to start a fire and a basic sewing kit.  As space permits, add a “space blanket” or even better “bivy”, other materials to aid in building shelter from the elements, and then water purification tablets and a container to use them in, or a container in which to boil water.  And so on, until the likely scenarios are covered, or you reach your size goals.

Every Day Carry

This is what you “Carry” on your person “Every Day”, or at least whenever you leave your house.  It is not so much a “survival kit”‘ as a “life kit” with survival applications.  For more details, see the article on EDC.

Get Home Bag

If you are at work or shopping or otherwise not at home when disaster strikes, everyone in your family should have getting home as a priority.  That is where your primary preparations, or your means of getting to your primary preparations are located.  It is also a place where your loved ones are or can be.  You may be able to get in your car and drive home, but don’t bet your life or your family’s lives on that.  The car might not work, or the roads may be jammed or the bridge might be out.  You may need to “hoof it” home, and if you are not dressed or equipped for that trek, your odds of succeeding will be lower.

In the car is a good place for your GHB.  This will contain or be with the clothing and shoes you need to walk home in the most severe conditions likely, as well as PPG (Personal Protection Gear – air filtration mask, goggles, gloves and weather specific gear), an appropriate survival kit, and to the degree practical, defensive weaponry.  The survival kit need not be heavy on signaling gear, as in a wide-spread emergency, the odds of getting help are lower then usual, and the odds of attracting predators is increased.  A key aspect of your GHB is “knowledge” – knowing several routes home from wherever you happen to be, knowing which areas to avoid (gang territory, nuclear or chemical plants, flood or fire hazards and so on) and likely “choke points” where the disaster or human action can cut off or restrict travel.

Bug Out Bag

A lot of people talk about “bugging out” if there is a disaster.  And the bag of equipment and supplies they plan to take with them is called a BOB.  The problem is that many of these people don’t know the actual definition of “bugging out”.  It was originally a military term describing what happens when a position is in danger of being overrun by the enemy.  The personnel at the position are moved from there to another position which is currently safe(r).  The key here, is not the “leaving” but the having a safer destination.  Thus a “true” BOB is designed to specifically get you from where you are bugging out from, to where you are bugging out to. You may be able to do it by vehicle, in which case you can carry a lot more stuff.  In case you can’t go by vehicle or your vehicular movement is permanently interrupted, you should have an actual BOB, usually a backpack, which you can carry as you walk to your bug out location.  Ideally, you have supplies at that location, or you can carry them in the vehicle as long as you can and hopefully not have to abandon them.  If you are limited to a BOB, you won’t be able to carry long term supplies for your new location.

Unlike a survival kit, where you tend to stay put and wait for rescue, when bugging out, you will be on the move.  You’ll need lots of energy, so food is rather more important.  “Life boat rations” or energy bars are compact, or freeze-dried meals can be tasty and light but need cooking (water boiling) capability.  Of course, you still need first aid supplies, weather appropriate clothing and the capability of making shelter when you are not moving.  And water and the capability to get more.  Probably some defensive capability is in order.  Depending on the distance you need to go, you may not be able to carry enough stuff to get there, in which case you might need the capability to scavenge abandoned supplies.  See the article on scavenging. Another option is to set up “caches” of supplies along the way.

Unless you have a stocked location to bug out to, bugging out is not a good scenario, bordering on “fleeing”.

Get Out of Dodge Bag

This is something I came up with, or perhaps saw somewhere in the past.  No matter the source, this GOOD bag is what many people really mean when they talk about BOBs.  This is what I call a bag which is designed to make “fleeing” less of a disaster.  You don’t have a place to go to, but where you are is too dangerous to stay there, so you leave and search for a safer place.  Perhaps outside the disaster area, or a cave or some place which can provide you with shelter, water and food, and some isolation from predators.  As such, the contents are oriented towards short term movement, self defense and long-term acquisition of water and food from likely areas.  It’s a BOB without a designed schedule or destination.

I’m Never Coming Home Bag

I’ve heard of these, but can’t really understand why a person would have as a primary goal, never coming home.  Unless they were trying to avoid capture by people (the government perhaps) who knew where they lived and have the resources to wait there for them for a really long time.  In every case I can conceive of, I would hope that coming home eventually would be a possibility, unless there was a high probability that home wouldn’t be there.  Basically, I’d consider it a “minimal move”, so I would concentrate on what I needed short term, and what I could not replace long term.

How Many Bags Do I Need?

Ideally, since all of these bags (should) have different goals, you would have all of them available.  You leave the house, you have your EDC.  You step away from the pavement, you have a survival kit.  Something happens while you are away from home, you have your GHB.  And if you have to leave your home, you have either a GOOD bag or BOB depending on whether you have a location to go to.  If you are running from the mob or the law, or your house is about to be destroyed, you have your INCH bag.

The problem is, there is a high degree of commonality among these, and most people can’t afford the cost of all of these, or the space to store them, or the effort to keep them stocked with fresh items.  So lets consider how to minimize those factors.  One key is modularity.  If you have the items for each facet of your bags packaged separately, you can quickly assemble the needed bag.  It is best that your GHB stays in your vehicle, completely separate from your other bags.

First of all, EDC is a no-brainer.  Unless you spend all day on the couch in your underwear, you already HAVE an EDC kit of some sort.  The trick is to optimize it, not only for your life, but for emergencies.  Next you will want a decent survival kit which will fit into any of the other bags.  Because of how basic this is to all the bags and how much trouble it would be to move it around a lot, you might want to have at least two of these, one in your GHB in the car, and one or more in the house to go into whichever other bag it is needed for.  It is most convenient if these are identical; and since signaling is not a need in any but a personal survival event, you can save money by having a separate signaling module to add for non-disaster survival scenarios.  There is no reason to have both a GOOD bag and a BOB, since they have different, mutually exclusive goals, but having the appropriate one is critical, since no matter where you are, no matter what happens, you cannot guarantee that you can stay in your home.  Nature and/or man is entirely capable of making it unlivable.  Personally, I do not bother with an INCH bag, but I do have critical stuff in my BOB just in case my home is destroyed or stripped.

Don’t forget, each of these bags is for one person or possibly one person with a small child.  Each person in your group should have as similar a setup as they can carry.  If some members of your party are significantly less able to bear a load than others, you’ll have to “spread the load”, with the people who can carry more, carrying more.  Just make sure each person has enough to get by with in case they get separated from the group.  Make sure each person (this includes you) knows how to use the stuff they are carrying.

Choosing Your Bags

There are three components of any bag.  These are the bag itself, the contents of the bag, and the knowledge and experience to use the contents of the bag.

When choosing a bag, you need to consider size, weight, durability and long term comfort.  And there is another concern.  Keep in mind that YOU have made the effort to be prepared for this disaster, but a large percentage of the people around you have not.  And some of them are eager to, and some of them feel forced to, take advantage of your preparations for their profit or their family’s needs.  Thus, you want to remain as unnoticeable as possible, having a “gray man” persona.  Any pack you choose should have dull, unobtrusive colors, with no obvious brand name marks or designs.  For in-town use, you want to use packs like “everybody else” uses, and for bigger bags for out of town travel, ones which look “distressed” (dirty, duct tape “patches”).  Camouflage and black are “dull” colors, but they, as well as military style or “tacticool” packs, tend to bring to mind “government” or military, and everybody knows those guys are loaded with cool stuff.  Obviously, don’t have anything desirable or attractive hanging on the outside.  You don’t want to be noticed, and if you are noticed, you don’t want to be an (or the most) attractive target, and if you are a target, you don’t want to appear to be worth much effort.


There are two paths to follow:  you can find a pack you like and then put into it what you can, or you can figure out what you will carry, and then choose a bag which will hold it.  Either path will force you to make compromises.  I prefer to compromise on the bag rather than the contents.  In the case of a GHB or BOB you should have a good idea how long the trek is likely to take, and this allows a decent guess at what items and how many of each should be included.  All size estimates need to be accompanied by weight estimates.

When choosing a bag, size is the first concern, and that is determined by how much stuff you need to put into the bag.  Packs often are rated in “liters” which for the metrically challenged can be estimated by dividing them by four to approximate “gallons”.  If you have a guess at the size you will need, it is best to choose a pack which is a bit bigger, because you can put nine gallons into a ten-gallon container, but you can’t put eleven gallons into that container.  However, the bigger the bag, the more stuff you will be tempted to put into it, and the more it will weigh.  Be prepared to lower your size estimate if your weight estimate gets to be too high.

And that brings up the other key concern, the weight.  A person in good physical condition and trained up for it, can probably carry a load of 25% of their body weight.  People in poor condition will be able to carry less.  Keep in mind that pretty much anybody can carry more than they should, briefly.  But can they carry it all day, for several days sequentially?  Can they hike or climb uphill?  Are they able to avoid tripping, or developing foot or ankle injuries?  Can they run short distances?  Jump over narrow obstacles?  As you can see, ideal load weight is a matter of experimentation, and the entire party should work at increasing their capabilities.  But at any point in time, there is a practical maximum weight.  When you hit that, you have to stop packing things in.  If you don’t have enough stuff, you will have to exchange things already in there for things which are lighter (and probably more expensive).

Now that you have an adequate size and not too much weight, consider the comfort.  A pack which distributes the weight and rides well will make your trek less of a torture.  For a large pack such as a GOOD, INCH and most BOBs, you will want to transfer as much of the weight as possible to your hips.  This requires an internal or hybrid frame and a padded waist belt.  External frames should be avoided; they tend to get caught on things. and usually are less comfortable.  A few BOBs and many GHBs may not be that heavy and can get away with using a smaller, frameless pack.

Frankly, if you can find a pack which meets all these criteria, durability may not be a major concern.  The longer the trek and the more rugged the terrain, the more important it becomes.  Keep an eye out for the material.  Nylon, canvas and leather are durable; plastic and cloth are not as durable.  Thick is more durable than thin.  But thick and canvas and particularly leather tends to be heavy, and every extra pound the pack weighs is a pound of stuff you can’t carry.  Thus generally, a mid-weight nylon is best.  You want it to be water proof or highly water resistant or have a water proof cover.  If not truly water proof, make sure that any contents which can be affected by getting wet are packed in water proof bags and even if the pack IS waterproof, you want your critical stuff in their own waterproof protection.

Finally, there is organization.  Having everything you need is great, but being able to find it or access it as needed can be important.  A bag which has lots of pockets may be handy, but every pocket adds more material and thus more weight.  This is a trade-off, and fewer pockets can be somewhat compensated for by intelligent packing.  If you need something quickly, you want to get right to it, and if you use something a lot, you don’t want to take everything else out to get to it.

Maintaining Your Bags

As mentioned, your GHB is best kept in your vehicle, so you will always have it with you when not at home.  Except what if you are not taking your vehicle?  That is a conundrum, and assuming you “have” to go and can’t take your car, you have three options:  risk going without it, taking it with you, or taking a subset with you in your pockets or other containers.  As for your other bag(s) and modules, you need a storage location which is readily available but not in the way, protected from casual access, where they won’t get mixed in or blocked, and are not subjected to environmental extremes.

Some things you put in your bag(s) will have expiration dates.  You need to keep a record with each bag or module stating these dates, and it is a very good idea to put in fresh things before the old ones “expire”.  This usually does not mean they become useless or dangerous, so if you happen to be a month or two late, it’s not a big deal.  But going years past the date is not wise.  Be aware of the storage conditions where you keep each bag (most particularly the trunk of your car) and its effect on the items in the bag.


Finally, do NOT take stuff out of your bags for “temporary” use.  If you take something out of one of your bags, the odds that you will remember to put it back (and replace anything partially used up) are depressingly low.  Which reminds me.  I can’t tell you how many fancy flashlights I’ve lost to battery leakage.  Keep the batteries out of your emergency gear until the emergency happens or is right around the corner, or use lithium batteries, which so far have not leaked on me.

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How to Rebuild A Business Organization After a Natural Disaster

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Herman Davis to The Prepper JournalAs always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

A natural disaster can occur at any time without warning and have a devastating impact, not only on homes but businesses as well. For owners, this could end up feeling like a Hollywood movie or a nightmare, but the reality, however, is that this is something thousands of businesses experience every year. A natural disaster can affect your company in a number of ways. To make matters worse, your employees, customers, vendors, competitors, and the local community can also be impacted by the chaos.

Assessing the damage done to your organization, of course, will help you put a plan together so you can clean-up and make the necessary changes to get your business up and running again. Having an emergency plan is your best bet because research shows that 74 percent of all small businesses don’t have disaster recovery plans to help their company survive the aftermath. The same study shows that another 84 percent don’t even have disaster insurance, which could leave the company paying for everything out of pocket, forcing them to close their doors permanently.

Remember, disasters come in all different shapes and sizes. Even a malfunctioning sprinkler system could lead to a company being forced to close their doors for weeks or months to come. If you’re already dealing with a disaster, then time is something you can’t waste. However, if time isn’t against you and you have a chance to prepare your company for an emergency, then be sure to look at things from a different perspective.

In other words, don’t just focus on small tasks; instead, take everything into consideration. Evaluating your threats is just one of five ways to protect your business income, which means there are plenty of other areas (like customer service) you’ll need to develop a plan for. That said, make sure you keep the following in mind:

Contact Your Insurance Agent: After a natural disaster has occurred, what’s the first thing you should do before cleaning up and removing items? The answer: contact your insurance agent. Even if you don’t know how many items were damaged while you were away, the insurance company will tell you everything they need to know to further support your claim. Some insurance companies — like Progressive, for example — requires you to make a list of everything damaged, lost, or destroyed. You might even be asked to take photos or record anything that’s been ruined. Other companies might send their own agents out to document the damage and get an estimate of the overall cost. Taking photos of specific valuables and assets BEFORE there is an emergency and filing them with your insurer is a good start to an emergency plan.

Whatever the case, always follow the instructions your insurance agent gives you, especially at a time like this, so you aren’t stuck paying for everything yourself. During that time, you should also get familiar with their policies. Most insurance companies have policies in place that require owners to take reasonable actions ahead of time to minimize as much damage as possible. For instance, if your roof is broken from a flood, your agent might encourage you to put a tarp over it as soon as possible to prevent any more leaks from happening. If you have furniture that hasn’t been damaged, then they’ll more than likely ask you to store it somewhere safe.

If insurance documents get lost due to the high winds from the disaster, don’t panic. Insurance companies keep electronic copies of policies at their location; therefore, all you need to do is confirm who you are — the business owner. If your organization isn’t covered by insurance, then see if you can make a claim under your income insurance protection.

Reach Out to Your Employees: Going digital truly does grant a fresh perspective, which makes it easier for organizations to stay in contact with customers, vendors, and most importantly, employees. A company’s ability to recover from a catastrophic event typically depends on how quick their employees can get back to work. If you’re in the marketing industry, for example, recovering might be a little bit easier since employees can still find ways to improve your business right from home. If you’re in the construction industry, however, then things could be a bit more difficult. As a general rule, construction companies should make sure that all employees, supervisors, and superintendents have everyone’s contact information.

This will make touching base with your employees a lot easier — not only to discuss work projects but to check on their family’s and communicate emergency news as well. If everyone is safe and out of harm’s way, the next thing you can do is reach out to customers, and vendors to let them know where the company stands at the moment. This will help you and your employees determine if there are any projects that need to be postponed or delayed.

Save for the Unexpected: It should come to no surprise to hear that every business strives to be successful, but is it possible to save for an emergency while trying to build up your company? Of course, as long as you’re willing to put in the time. Although planning for a disaster isn’t easy, starting a solid plan for your business early on is key to your success, and that includes smart budgeting.

As a general practice, you should have at least three months worth of savings to cover any expenses. Why? Well, because setting aside emergency funds can help your company get by in case the building needs any urgent repairs. If the idea of putting thousands of dollars away into a saving account is foolish, just remember, this is an investment that will help your business in the long run.

As owners, there are things you can control — like your organization — and there are things you can’t — like mother nature. So, taking steps to create an emergency account should be a part of your business plan. What’s equally important is knowing how to spend it — the when and why. To help with this process, create a sheet that has sufficient reasons why you should pull from your emergency funds. Some reasons might include things like:

  • Disability
  • Disasters
  • Injuries
  • Increase in material cost

Not every event has to be a natural disaster for owners to dip into their emergency account, but let’s imagine it is. The most common question regarding emergency funds is: “How much should I have stored away in my savings account?”

As stated before, you want to have at least three months minimum to help cover those unexpected bills. In order to do so successfully, calculate your monthly budget, and make sure you include payrolls, all bills and additional expenses (like property cost). Once you have those numbers all figured out, the last set of numbers you need to add in are from your salary. This will help you figure out your goal when it comes to saving.

Think of your savings account as another utility bill. Depending on your income and the company’s expenses, it might take you eight months or two years to reach your financial goal. But you’ll get there as long as you stick to your budget plan. The success of your business depends on how much time you’ve invested in the preparation. After all, an emergency fund could make the difference between your business rising or it closing its doors for good.

The author loves taking advantage of the sunny weather outside. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him out playing football with friends or cheering on the Boise State Broncos. You can follow him on Twitter at @Davis241.

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The Unexpected and Unawares

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A contribution to the Prepper Journal Writing Contest from Charles McKelroy.

The wind picked up in the afternoon on a cloudless day. Nothing unusual for the area, we have windy days all during Spring and into early Summer. The dead tree in the backyard had been an eye sore since last winter, but it wasn’t hurting anything and the cost of removal was not in the budget. When it fell, it took out the main power supply line to the house, yanking it from the pole and in turn, yanking the service drop off the side of the house. The electricity was now off and luckily there was no fire or injuries. The tree falling while taking out the power line was definitely an oversight.

After three days of repairs, with no electrical service, and city inspections to bring the old house up to code, the cost came to 4 times the cost of removal of the tree. Looking on the bright side, the old house is now up to code with new breakers and wiring. The tree was cut up and hauled off by a friend in a barter deal. Having been through a few hurricanes, we were prepared for the power outage and having a safety net for emergencies, were able to cover the expenses.

The lesson learned was that anything can happen, anytime, unexpectedly, as we all know. Being prepared; we had batteries and lanterns for lighting, food that could be prepared without electricity, and a safety net for funding the unexpected, in our case, a credit card with a sufficient amount of credit available to cover the cost. We were able to barter for the tree removal. Luckily, our freezer and refrigerator were not very full, so the amount of loss there was minimal. We keep two 48 quart ice chest in storage for power loss during storm season, that took care of needs for a few days.

This is just one example of what prepping is all about. It is not what the skeptics think about us like we are some doomsday advocates or end of times promoters. We are realistic people who do not want to be caught in a predicament without a way out. Being prepared, the scouting motto, is what it is all about. Have enough common sense to know that things happen and having enough forethought to render a solution when they do. Emergencies and accidents are going to happen, and it is next to impossible to be ready for every one of them. If that were the case, then we could avoid ever having any in the first place.
Little things like keeping a basic first aid kit in the car as well as a small fire extinguisher and a small first aid kit in the glove box for minor injuries. Even the smallest cut can become infected. So it is always important to give attention to any and all accidents that cause any physical discomfort no matter how small. Just because the little cut or bump on the foot or hand might not seem important at the time, in a few days, without treatment, it could become serious. Just use some common sense and pay close attention. You do not want to get an infection or find out that sprain is actually a cracked bone when you are in a SHTF situation.

There are hundreds of list of essentials on the internet. The Red Cross has some expert advice and sells many of the items needed to make a bug out or bug in bag. Also, FIMA has some real good study materials worth checking out. Having taken a number of the FIMA courses and spending a lot of time on their web site looking over the disaster preparedness information they offer for free is advisable. Besides those two, there many others that offer free e-books and pamphlets for downloading. Amazon occasionally have their FIRE readers on sale for a very reasonable price that can store a lot of folders and flies in PDF or Word format. That is a way to have all the free materials handy, and the good part, is you won’t need internet access if you have them downloaded and saved in the tablet’s memory.

One other item that can be a real lifesaver that have come down in price over the past couple of years are solar chargers. A compact solar charger can be rolled up into small pouch and carried in your bug out bag. They come in many different capacities, so check which one will fit your needs. Add a USB battery charger and keep your rechargeable AA & AAA batteries charged up as well. It is also nice to have a Power Bank that will deliver enough power for emergency equipment or for when the cell phone needs a charge. Solar lanterns are an inexpensive asset these days as well. A couple of them were very handy while the power was out during the last thunder storm power outage. Leave them setting a window when not in use to charge.

Being prepared is a commonsense thing to do. It is about thinking of all the things that might happen around you at any time. Watch the local news to see what is regularly reported for your area during the different seasons and during the everyday course of events. Things as simple as tossing a small blanket in the truck of the car along with the first aid kit just in case someone is in shock at the scene of an accident. Small things like placing some band aids, little packets of ointment and whatever else you feel necessary in an empty plastic cream cheese carton and toss it in the glove box. Include a small pocketknife or safety razor blade. These small kits are sold on Amazon and other stores for a few dollars if you don’t want to make your own.

Hopefully this will help you to get the thought processes working. Being prepared for the unexpected by taking it seriously may just save your life or that of someone else one day. If you are ready, but never use what have prepared for, you are much wiser than those not prepared at all. Search around and get all the free stuff out there that is available is easy and even fun. Shop around to find the best deals on what you feel you might need. Play around putting it all together in your bug out bag. Make it fun, while keeping it serious.

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A Quick Guide to Creating a Preppers Financial Plan

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest submission from Megan Nichols to The Prepper Journal. The next Prepper Writing Contest Award is coming! As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as being entered into the Prepper Writing Contest AND have a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Whether you’re a committed prepper or just thinking about living more strategically, creating a financial plan is essential to prepare for a time when you may no longer have a job, and the banking system — and perhaps the government — no longer function like it does today.

Why might you be facing such a time? Because threats pile up every day. Cyber crime and cyber theft are on the rise. If hackers can steal your identity, is it really a stretch that they could cause a collapse of the banking system or the government?


ATMs could become disabled around the globe as cyber-hackers gain control of your accounts. Governments could be disabled and unable to function — and that’s just the beginning.

Let’s face it. We’ve already seen situations where people have lost their homes in natural disasters, like floods and hurricanes. Others have become sick and unable to work because of radiation, like those in Japan.

Job loss alone is a reason to have a financial plan, but across the world, people have been displaced by war, bombs and carnage. Think it can’t happen here? Think again.


On top of that, approximately half the people in the United States wouldn’t be able to come up with $500 for an emergency.

What would you do if any of the crisis scenarios above occurred? You need a financial plan. Here are three tips on how to create one.

Get a Handle on Your Expenses

Your first order of business is to create a budget. If you don’t know how much you spend every month, you can’t plan to either cut expenses or save.

If you don’t already have a budget, start with a spreadsheet. Enter all your fixed monthly expenses, like mortgage, utilities, groceries and any debts. Then, assess your budget. Sometimes, people find their budgets are fine and have disposable income to allocate to savings. But other times, people find they need to cut back on spending.


There are many ways to reduce your expenses. Simplify your cable package and stick to Netflix, or rent DVDs and books from your local library. Start a garden and grow your own food to cut back on grocery bills. Always shop on sale. Sew your own clothes. Reduce the number of times you eat out each week. Choose less expensive get-together and recreational activities. Can you hike with your family instead of going to a fancy lunch, for example?

The more you consider less expensive ways, the more cash you’ll be able to save. Plus, many of these methods will benefit you as a barter skill later on.

Create a Prepper Budget

Once you get a handle on how much you’re spending, you’ll need to create a prepper budget — that means you’re going to start saving and preparing for upheaval.

First, if you don’t already have a category for saving, start one. Your first goal is to have a three-month cash cushion in case you lose your job or banks are inaccessible. And, by the way, when we say cash, we mean cash — not digits in your bank account. Long and green and in a safe place.

Second, focus on paying down debt. You can either use the debt avalanche method or the debt snowball method. If you do a debt avalanche, you pay down the smallest amount of debt first. As soon as that is paid off, you move the debt service money to the next-smallest debt. If you do a debt snowball, you concentrate on the debt with the highest interest rate, as those cost more over the long run.

Third, start putting money toward what you’ll need to survive. Most people put between two and four percent of their income toward prepper activities. If you absolutely cannot save, consider taking a second job to generate income or relocating to a less expensive living area.

Stock Up on What You’ll Need

Once you’ve got your finances under control and a prepper budget started, it’s time to start stocking up on what you’ll need when a crisis happens.


Although the banking system and the very governments that issue money may collapse, the fact is you’ll need some money, at least at first. Think about World War II in Europe, for example. People who had money to pay for transportation and even to bribe officials were better off than those who didn’t. If cities become uninhabitable here, you may need money to get to where it’s safer, to buy a home there and to buy whatever food and other supplies are available.

After your first three months of savings, keep your saving in cash. Ideally, you want at least a year’s worth of expenses.

Be sure to keep it in a secure place. It’s best to save a combination of small bills — for smaller purchases — and large bills — for deposits and more substantial expenses.

Precious Metals and Jewels

In times of peril throughout history, precious metals like gold and silver and precious stone jewelry have come to people’s aid. Why? Because you can use them as currency. Gold, silver and jewelry like diamonds hold their value throughout time, so you can trade them for items you need. Plus, they have a universal value — every society accepts them, no matter their currency.

You can save gold or silver in bars or coins. Silver is cheaper than gold, but both can be bought in small amounts. If you have jewelry, such as diamond rings or other precious stones, store them in a very safe place.


Bitcoins are coins that can be used to pay for goods and services through a ledger called block-chain. Bitcoins are one of a class of crypto-currencies that rose considerably in value last year. They have been more volatile since then. Preppers who buy and hold bitcoin and other crypto-currencies do so because these exchange mediums are independent of government control. Although few merchants accept them as payment now, their usage might rise in the future.

Barter Skills

Banks and lending institutions like credit unions are, right now, the way we get what we need. We get money to pay for food, clothing, shelter and everything else. But what if we don’t have banks? What do we do when the money runs out, or if we’re trying to save for a more significant emergency?

The answer is simple. We will barter to get what we need. Bartering is a system people have used for centuries. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, people traded chickens or produce in exchange for doctor visits.

Think about something you can offer other people in a crisis. Some examples are:

Food and Other Supplies

Stock up on food and other supplies, as well. Ideally, you should have a year’s worth of nonperishable food items. Other supplies include:

  • First aid kits and expendable contents
  • Hunting gear, to include spare rifle and pistol parts and ammunition
  • Survival gear like flashlights, binoculars, tents, solar batteries and rechargers
  • Water and food
  • Mobility gear, walking shoes, boots, walking aids
  • Knives, sharpening stones

A strong financial plan will see you through any crisis that comes. Stay strong and follow these three tips to always be prepared!

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Why Even Start Prepping?

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from SignalSergeant to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

Many people start out with just a vague idea that they need to have a little preparedness in their lives. Maybe (like me several years ago) they just suddenly realize that they are completely unprepared for even the most minor disaster or emergency (let alone a major catastrophe!).

Take Responsibility

Most people don’t want to believe that they will ever have to use survival skills or rely completely on their own preparedness. It’s easy to be complacent when everything seems great. However, the harsh reality is that existing emergency services are quickly overwhelmed by even modest disasters, let alone during major natural or man-made disasters. Talk to people who survived hurricane Sandy, or Katrina, or Harvey. Don’t be at the mercy of others for your safety and survival! Take ownership, take responsibility, and don’t be a victim.

Take the First Steps

Here are some simple steps to begin on the path to taking your safety and wellbeing into your own hands:

  1. Define YOUR goals. Once you delve into the prepping rabbit-hole, it’s easy to get lost. “Prepping” encompasses an insanely-large amount of territory, and one can dip a toe in the prepping water, or dive into the prepper ocean. So, ask yourself a few questions about your motivations and goals. Discuss your intentions with your family, if you have one. Put it in writing. Write down your prepping goals, your budget, and come up with a plan. This will save countless hours in the long run and will give you a method to track progress.
  2. Do YOUR own research. At the time of this writing, a quick web search of the term “prepping” turns up over 22 million results. There is a nearly endless amount of material out there. The sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. That’s why one should define their goals and search for a narrower set of topics. Every journey begins with just a single step so make sure that is a step in then right direction.
  3. Get YOUR family involved early. If you have a family, then it is imperative that you include them from the start. Explain your reasoning for doing something which may seem unusual to them at first. Again, clearly defining your goals ahead of time will help a lot. From my personal experience, it’s a good idea to keep the doom and gloom to a minimum. You’re not trying to scare them. Instead, you want their enthusiastic support for your efforts to keep them safe.
  4. Create YOUR Bug-Out Bag (BOB). The bug-out bag is the low-hanging fruit of the prepping effort. This kit will contain everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours in a disaster situation. Every member of your household should have their own BOB, and you should prepare them for your pets as well.
  5. Make an evacuation plan. If there is a SHTF (“Stuff” Hits The Fan) situation, you grab your BOB and go! But where are you going? Who is going with you? Does everyone know the plan? Think about the logistics of getting where you want to go. Create a Plan B, and even a Plan C and D. To paraphrase Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Life will punch you in the face, so be adaptive.
  6. Get in shape. You are the most important piece of survival gear! What good does it do to have detailed plans and all kinds of cool toys if you can’t make it up a flight of stairs without taking a break? Put on that 72-hour pack and get used to the weight of it. Eat right and exercise. That goes for your pets, too! Do you really want to be stuck carrying your 120 lbs Labrador Retriever because you give them lots of treats and not enough walks?
  7. Extend YOUR network. Discuss with extended family and friends. Once you have a plan, started making some actual preparation, and have your own family on-board, it’s time to reach out to others. Spread the word among people you trust. First, you will include them because you care about them. However, there’s a more practical reason: Safety in numbers! It may seem like it will be difficult to “herd the cats” and get everyone on the same page in an actual disaster situation. But that difficulty is far outweighed by the benefits of numbers. A larger group is far less likely to be the victim of attack, plus everyone can pool their talents and resources.
  8. Get YOUR vehicle ready. You may leave on foot, or a situation may dictate that you have to “bunker down” in your home. However, it is very likely that at least the first leg of your disaster plan involves driving to some other location. Suddenly, your life may depend on the proper functioning of your car. Keep it maintained, inspect it once a week (tires, tire pressure, oil, coolant, belts, hoses, etc.). Don’t take it for granted that it’s in perfect shape just because it’s a newer vehicle. Murphy’s law doesn’t care if your vehicle was made one week ago, or ten years. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, as well.
  9. Adapt and change. Keep your readiness up-to-date. You have the basics in place: A good plan (well-rehearsed), a bug-out bag for each family member, your car/truck/SUV is in top-notch shape. As you learn more, refine your plan and check your kits. Make changes where necessary. Did you move from Seattle to Phoenix? You might want to adjust your plans AND your equipment. The same holds true if the nature of a likely disaster changes.
  10. Work YOUR plan. Practice your emergency plans and stay sharp. Continue to learn and grow. The best way to master any subject is to teach it to others. When sharing your knowledge with friends and family, encourage them to ask tough questions. Then find the answers. Incorporate your learning into your prepping.

Stay Focused, Be Rational, Stay Motivated

Keep in mind that you are prepping to live, not living to prep. However, preparedness should be an integral part of your life, and you should take it seriously. That means dedicating a set amount of time each week to learning and teaching others. Just like diet and exercise, it’s an insurance policy. Planning and training alleviate panic, and panic can be deadly. The military has taught me that, in a stressful situation, everyone reverts to their most basic level of training.  In other words, in an emergency, whatever you practiced is what you will do. Keep that in mind.

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What is an “Assault Rifle”?

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Written by John Hertig on The Prepper Journal.

The news these days is full of the debate about assault rifles.  But what exactly are we talking about?

Many people claim that an “AR-15” is an “assault rifle”.  And they are about “half” correct, because there are three possible definitions of assault rifle:  the technical one, the legal one and the functional one.  They also think that “AR” stands for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle”, but they are completely wrong on that.  It stands for “Armalite Rifle” after the company which invented them.

– Technically, an “assault rifle” is defined as “an intermediate-range, magazine-fed military weapon designed to be fired with two hands from the shoulder that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire”.  Those who don’t know what they are talking about and those who want to get rid of guns and don’t mind lying to do so, have extended this to include “or semi-automatic versions of these”.  Everyone agrees that the M-16 and the AK-47 are assault rifles.  Some people insist that the AR-15 and the semi-automatic only version of the AK-47 are also “assault rifles”.  Note that true (fully automatic) assault rifles are already very highly regulated.  None can have been manufactured for civilian use since 1986, which means the limited and dwindling supply of existing registered ones has resulted in ridiculously high prices (up to $60,000).  To get one you have to pass an extensive federal background check, pay a $200 transfer tax, and wait for many months.  And once you have one, there are restrictions on what you can do with it which do not apply to semi-automatic only firearms.

– Legal definitions are what are specified in laws which specify “assault rifles” instead of the more accurate and politically ineffective “Modern Sporting Rifles” (MSR) or the marginally accurate “assault style rifles”, and vary from Federal to State, and from State to State.  Of course, true assault rifles are already covered by the NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934), the GCA (Gun Control Act of 1968) and the FOPA (Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986), so any law about “assault rifles” only apply to the semi-automatic versions.  And these laws sometimes list specific models (such as AR-15 and AK-47) and typically (also) refer to “semi-automatic rifles which can accept a magazine removable without opening the action (or a capacity of over 10 rounds), AND have one or more ‘features’ such as a collapsible or folding stock, a thumb hole stock or pistol grip, a vertical forward grip, a bayonet lug, or a flash hider.  In other words, how it LOOKS, not how it works.  Under these laws, an AR-15 is an assault rifle, and a Mini-14 is not an assault rifle even though it does exactly the same thing; it just looks “less military” (even though it is a shrunken version of the M-14 military rifle).

Note: This is NOT an assault rifle “by definition” though the Editor would gladly take this into any combat situation against any other rifle.

Functionally, if a person uses a rifle to assault someone, it is an assault rifle.  Even if it is a single shot, black powder, muzzle loading rifle which is considered a “curio or relic”, is not regulated and can be ordered through the mail.

So an AR-15 is not an assault rifle by the original, unpoliticized technical definition, is usually an assault rifle by the legal definition, and is very seldom is an assault rifle by the functional definition.  Oh, and guess what:  No matter how any law defines “assault rifles”, there will be a way around it.  So then all semi-autos will need to be addressed.  And after they are no longer a factor, we will find that lever action rifles and pump action rifles and revolver rifles are pretty quick firing as well.  Step by step the people will be pushed further and further into being prey for anyone who wishes to subjugate them.  Just keep this in mind while we continue to discuss “assault rifles”.

Should Assault Rifles be “Banned”?

Whenever an AR-15 or other MSR is used by some fame seeking psychopath, there is a call to “ban assault rifles”.

At first glance, it would seem that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution would prevent this.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.  This was written after the United States had just rebelled against a tyrannical government to achieve freedom from the same, and was primarily intended to make sure that as a people, we would never be in a condition where we could not rebel against tyranny.

Thus, let’s dissect this.  It starts with a “justification” clause (the reason for the amendment) and ends with an “effect” clause (the purpose of the amendment).  The justification was to “ensure the security of a free (from tyranny) State (the political entity covered by the document, that is, the new United States)”  And how were they going to ensure this security?  With a “well regulated Militia”.  In those days, the militia was considered to be every able bodied white man between the ages of 18 and 45.  Under normal conditions, these people  would not be actively IN the militia, but they could be called together and trained and lead (thus well regulated) if the conditions warranted.  And the only way to practically do that was if “all” of them had their own personal arms and experience in their use.  This means arms which are at or near to the level of sophistication of those weapons likely to be used by the tyrant’s forces.  Today, the militia would include all races and probably at least some women.

Thus the “effect” clause is the most important part of the Amendment.  And the effect is a “right” and the group to whom that right applies.  The right is “to keep and bear Arms”, with Arms meaning weapons suitable for defense against a tyrant or tyrannical government.  Otherwise, the purpose of the amendment is without value.  The target group is “the people”, that is citizens of the United States.  That has been massaged to be interpreted as the subset of those people who have not proven themselves to be a danger if in possession of firearms, including released criminals and the mentally unbalanced.  If the justice system really did a reasonably effective job of rehabilitating criminals, than it seems obvious that after “paying their debt to society”, criminals would be able to restore this right, particularly those whose criminal acts were non-violent.  Under our current justice system, current restrictions on this restoration of rights can have a case about it made both ways.  As for the mentally unbalanced, they are sick and should be cured before they have ANY right which will affect the rest of society.  But without ANY valid indication of danger from a person, any restriction of gun rights appears to be prohibited (“shall not be infringed”; that is limited, undermined or encroached on).

“Arms” have always been interpreted as “personal” weapons.  I don’t imagine anyone, including the founding fathers, thought that squad or higher level weaponry (cannons in their day) would be either appropriate for individuals, or likely to be effective if used by an individual during a rebellion against tyranny.  In 1934, the violence of prohibition resulted in the first real attack on the Second Amendment, when they decided that machine guns, sawed off shotguns and rifles, and silencers were “not appropriate for civilians“.  They did not prohibit them, just regulated the heck out of them and added a ruinous tax, about half the price of a Model T car for each one transferred.  They wanted to include handguns in the law, but in the end, left them out.  Eventually, this law (NFA) was “gutted” for being unconstitutional.  Not for violating the Second Amendment, oddly enough, but the Fifth Amendment against self incrimination.  Since the weapons specified in the NFA had to be registered, and the act of registering was sometimes admission of a crime, in 1968 a new law was passed which eliminated the need for “registration”.  In fact, there was no longer ANY way to register an unregistered NFA weapon after the effective date of the GCA, making all of them which were not registered by that date, illegal.  The new law, which was approved by the court as being Constitutional, was the requirement for every transfer to go through a special class of dealers, ensuring that the new owner would be known to, and vetted by, the BATFE, the governmental agency tasked with administering federal firearms law.  To eliminate any question of self-incrimination, it was prohibited from using the information from the transfer for any criminal indictment.  With the passage of this law, any NFA weapon found in the possession of any person other than the one it was last transferred to was considered “unregistered” and resulted in $250,000 in fines and 10 years in jail for that person.

So back to the original question.  Again, we need to look at the word, “banned“, being used.  Technically, it means “prohibited, not allowed”.  This would make possession by law abiding, non-crazy people illegal, which would seem to be an easily shown violation of the Second Amendment.  Even if it could get over the hump of apparently violating the Constitution, many of these “assault rifles” are fairly high in price; often over $1000 and sometimes over $2000 or even $3000.  When you add in accessories which would become useless without the rifle, you are talking about a potentially huge hit to a person’s net worth.  Not to mention dealers and manufacturers and accessory makers and importers; an entire industry.  Taking someone’s (previously) legally owned property without just compensation would seem to be yet another Constitutional problem.  A way around this might be to “buy” them, but then you get into a mess with valuation, which is not just market value prior to the new law.  And the potential for fraud would be extreme.  There would be some people who just would not give them up, giving a healthy boost to the percentage of our population who would be criminals.

So it seems that banning assault rifles according to the actual meaning of the word “ban” would cause more problems than it could possibly solve.


So What Other Options are There? 

There actually WAS a federal “ban” implemented.  Of course, it was not REALLY a “ban”, because every existing weapon which fell under the ban could continue to be owned and used and transferred.  The law specified “no more can be made or imported except for use by the government”.  What was the impact?  On use of these weapons in criminal acts, not much, since there were so many of them and they were not used criminally that often.  Because of the complete stop to any more being produced or available, the price went up.  The law had a “sunset” clause in it, and when the specified time period had elapsed (2004), the law was not renewed.

So one option would be a similar law which “grandfathers” in existing “assault rifles”.  This would probably be even less effective than the last one, since the popularity of these rifles has exploded and there would be a huge supply still available.  I’m sure the politicians and those who hate guns (or at least gun ownership; they don’t seem to mind hiring armed guards) will celebrate this “ban” even though once again, they misuse the term and have provided no significant effect on violence.

Another option would be to add “assault rifles” to the NFA list.  I imagine the BATFE would have to get a lot bigger to handle this.  And any minor reduction in violent crime would be wildly overshadowed by the loss of effectiveness of a militia called up without most of the people having any exposure to about the most effective personal weapon.  Also it would be a major shift in the BATFE mission, since currently they administer the NFA law; and a new law covering “assault rifles” would need to be passed and put in their mission.

Controlling People Rather Than Things

Frankly, the “best” option would be to do nothing about “assault rifles”, because despite all the rhetoric, the GUN has nothing to do with these acts of violence.  If we could just look at things clearly, we could see where really effective measures could reduce these horrible acts.  First of all, quit making “gun-free zones” which are highly attractive to psychos because they may be crazy, but they are not stupid enough to ignore that if they have the only gun, they can’t be stopped.  Next, I’d guess at least half these nut-jobs do it for the fame or to “make a statement”, and if it was illegal to publish their name or picture or any information about them except in the most general, non-identifiable and derogatory terms, the number of these incidents would plummet.

But although the guns are “innocent” of these events, gun OWNERS are not without some blame, by leaving guns where psychos can get them or by selling them to those who should not have them.  It is not a huge problem, but it does happen on occasion.  Background checks on commercial sales are fairly useful, and the current methodology is moderately effective.  But it is only as effective as the databases which are used, and these need work.  There are too many cases where people who should be in the database are not, and some cases where people who should not be in the database are (leading to false rejection).  So, “fixing” the databases should be a high priority (this does not mean adding people who are not actually a danger, such as people who have someone else do their income taxes).  There are those who claim that private sales not requiring a background check is a “loophole” to the law.  As usual, these people misuse a term for their own benefit.  A “loophole” is an UNINTENTIONAL misuse of a law.  The exception of background checks on private sales is deliberately allowed in the law, because legal ownership of something includes the ability to sell it when it is no longer wanted or if money is suddenly needed.  It is not currently possible for a private seller to do a background check, and involving a FFL is difficult and often much too expensive.  Also, the checks COULD be used for an underground registration system, and that would be a problem someday (universal registration always has led to confiscation).

That being said, I would support an “instant universal background check” to include private sales IF AND ONLY IF, 1) it could be done by a private individual for free or small fee (preferably usable as a tax credit; we would be doing this for the country, not ourselves), 2) the background check was strictly on the person attempting to buy and had no indication whatsoever what gun was being purchased, 3) that any approved buyers would have their records deleted after 30 days or other reasonable time period, and 4) that any agency which maintained any records after that time period would have every employee of that agency fined, except any employee who reported the transgression would be rewarded.  Any elected official which requested or required the agency do this, would be removed from office.

Alternatively, do away with background checks and issue a “good guy” card to those who undergo a background check, top level safety training and basic firearm operation training.  This should be affordable for all, and would be confiscated if the person was shown to be dangerous.  Then any transfer would require inspection of a current card before proceeding.  Or have both systems, with the background check done for those who don’t have the card and the card used instead of the background check (like a concealed carry permit is today) for those who have it.


Basically gun control has limited effectiveness in reducing violence, because the gun is merely a tool of a violent person.  The only people who are affected by gun control laws, are those who obey the law, and don’t commit acts of violence.  And the effects on those law abiding people can be quite onerous.  Any law passed will only create more victims (who no longer can be armed) and more criminals (formerly law abiding people who rebel against the new law).  When the last gun is removed from civilian hands, violence will not cease; violent people will still have knives and baseball bats and hammers and fists.  And they have ready access to items which can cause much more damage than guns.

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Things That Drive Preppers Crazy

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Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: This post might be better titled “ramblings from a mind turned to mush by our “information highway”. I had the luck to be on ARPANet before it was opened to the public in the great “explosion” of information (the “dis” being optional but applicable in the too many cases.) As people, and especially as Preppers we make decisions based on the facts we are presented and our interpretation of their accuracy, so this hits us at home every minute of every day.

I still tell a story I heard from a Civics Teacher in High School that goes like this – There was a horse race between a Russian horse and an American horse. The American horse won and the newspaper headline the following day at the New York Post read “American Horse WINS!” Pravda’s headline that same day read “Russian Horse Places Second, American Horse Finishes Next to Last!”  – both are factual, both tell the truth. (The story was told to me with the American newspaper being the New York Times but I just could not bring myself to type that. It was awhile ago, when reporting the news was their agenda and the means by which they promoted their circulation.)

I am sure you have also all read or been told the theorem that if you put enough monkeys at enough keyboards eventually they will turn out the….Bible, or The Works of Shakespeare, or some other great historical accomplishment. I contend that the “internet, information highway” has disproved that theory.

My notes on what to point out, just the notes, are about to exceed 2,000 words so I will just put a couple in here and save the others for another day.

My Top Two: The Media and History

The Media, the Fourth Estate.

“It used to be that the media was called “the Fourth Estate” to accentuate the freedom of the press, not to be confused with the term “fourth branch” which proposes that they are not free from the government. The press is called the fourth estate in the United States usually because they observe the political process.” No longer, they are the political process, I believe they own the DNC as opposed to the other way around, but that may be the mush I alluded to earlier.

I know I am speaking to a lot of like minded people on this matter and won’t bore you reaffirming things we all know about the quality, or rather, the utter lack of journalistic integrity in America from the Fourth Estate. What you may or may not know is that it singularly poisons the world. I make no secret that I have traveled the world, been to every US state but one (Iowa), have been to 6 continents (I can see penguins in zoos), dipped my toes in the five major Oceans (though they are really just one), been to 7 Muslim ruled countries and on and on AND their news sources about America, and Americans, are AP (Associated Press) and all the alphabets – CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and on and on as well a Reuters and all the others services.

Fox News and Breitbart and Drudge might as well not exist as they don’t really outside of North America and that isn’t 100% bad, I will expand on that in a little while. And yes, I know about Fox News Europe, and Breitbart Europe, but their market penetration in those markets is very low.

The media is a business and it sells content, period. It is just another channel on the TV or the internet trying to garner viewers to get improved Google Analytics to be used to sell advertising. Anyone who thinks that the Fourth Estate in America is doing it for any other reason is a candidate for, well, you fill in that sentence. Their are journalists with integrity, and a passion for what they do, I am sure, but if you want to succeed, you are an employee of the corporation and instructions come from the top like everywhere else. And there are shows hosted by people who care here and there, but it is still all show business and all about capturing advertising dollars. Am I cynical? Most likely but only from years of the droning, mock debates and the news outlets spinning news stories out of every current and over-the-hill celebrity’s tweets. Since I don’t spend a lot of time on the alphabets I will use Fox News and Breitbart as examples for this.

Any celebrity of any status in any industry is given the stage by them, their national pulpit as long as they can be quoted saying something that will infuriate their base, as determined by the Google Analytics they track and use as a determining factor in the generation of their SEO – Search Engine Optimization:


  1. the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
    “the key to getting more traffic lies in integrating content with search engine optimization and social media marketing”

This is taught at the college level, degrees in SEO are available from major universities across the country. In fairness I have taken college level courses in it to bolster my market penetration to reach more people. It is a normal business practice of all media outlets to have producers write incendiary comments on their posts on social media just to increase the number or responses they get as this too is a Google Analytics measure of success. When you see a post about say a successful NASA launch you can bet the comments on the post that go right to politics and attacks on politicians and have no relation to the subject matter are that producer looking to increase the number of replies to show that their content brought value to the business. It IS that crazy. It is spin in my opinion.


Fox News just today put out posts from members of the ensemble casts of the TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory as “news” because they sent out tweets against the NRA and against Conservative reporters in this weekends trending analysis. THIS is what is being spun as “news” and promoted as a “fair and balanced” alternative to the lock-step mindset of the mainstream’s slighted view. Just how does one fathom this as news in the first place, and, as an American, how does one defend this as the historians of our age, because that is how our history will be recorded. And to that point, I’ll go a little deeper.

When I was an avid skier I subscribed to the big industry magazines – Skiing, Downhill, Ski and on and on and like all sports they put out their “annual review of what’s new” for the coming season. For skiing this was an August release. None of the products reviewed were ever given any criticism as the advertising for that issue of the magazine and other issues as well, was from these same manufactures. The beginnings of my skepticism (Yes, I can be a slow learner.)

I could go on and on about this as I am sure we all could. My hope is that we never take things at face value, that we do our own due diligence, that we question even when we see something that “exactly” expresses what we were thinking. The enemy of my enemy is NOT necessarily my friend. Be open, but never accepting without your own due diligence.

History: What is No Longer Taught

I asked the question of a learned friend last week “Just how does one learn from the past when they are never taught the past?” The measure of an education after all is that you acquire some idea of the extent of your ignorance. By this measure our education system is excellent.

The teaching of History at every level of the American Education System now leaves a lot to be desired. I apologize to that singular history teacher that is out there a voice in the wilderness, they do exist and we should exalt those that do and try. When my two children were in high school “history” was the assistant football coach showing PBS reenactment movies of historical events and people. I almost got arrested for my reaction to this, more correctly my reaction to the stonewalling and apathy I got when I tried to change this. I lobbied in vain through the PTA and directly to the district. At the time I was a single father with two kids in high school and did not have the financial means to put them in private school, but had the sense to know when they were being severely limited in their ability to compete for college with peers who were receiving a well rounded education. In hind sight at least there weren’t taught from the viewpoint that our founding fathers were rich white elitist slave-owning murderers, that came after.

Today I come across people almost daily who look at me like “who?” when I mention some historical figure and then they go right to their smart phones and Google the information, getting those same impeachable media sources I ranted about above. My laptop has the words “Who is John Galt?” on it’s top and whenever I bring it to a meeting I can see the strangers in the room googling John Galt.

I was a scientist, I have the periodic table app on my iPad called “The Elements” which was done by Theodore Gray. The graphics are amazing. Click on “U Uranium 92” and arrow to the description and here is the first sentence “It is impossible to discuss uranium without acknowledging that the first atomic weapon used in anger was a uranium fission bomb, built in secret lab deep in the deserts of New Mexico and detonated over the unsuspecting city of Hiroshima on the Honshu island of Japan.”  While it certainly is possible to discuss this element, in the same context as all the others are discussed as opposed to the author’s revisionist view of historical events, it is of interest that there are blatant errors in this first sentence alone – there was a warning, it was ignored by the Imperial Japanese Command, just when was the first atomic weapon NOT used in anger used, Los Alamos is on a mountain top in north west New Mexico, I have property near there. BTW it has one of the most interesting interactive museums you will ever visit in the town itself. I have skied Pajarito Ski Area while visiting, it is managed by the labs, both my late wife and I did business with the labs which are still owned by the University of California. And following the first sentence you get 7 more paragraphs so laced with opinion and incorrect “facts” that no one could really learn much from this other than mankind is evil. This is just one obscure writing in a iPad app that probably isn’t on a lot of devices. But it is published as the truth. I almost suspect I will find Bitcoin mentioned in the description on Au Gold 79.

We have all seen example of how revisionist history is being taught, I can only imagine what it must be like to have kids in school today and seeing what they are taught, what homework assignments they are bringing home. Weekly we can read about yet another classic piece of literature “being dropped because it is offensive or non-inclusive.” Again, I don’t want this to be an indictment of teachers as there are great ones out there.

In my opinion the REAL power in America is wielded by educators. Period. They create and control everything your child sees, hears and reads in school and are only aided by the Fourth Estate which controls everything else they see, hear or read. Parents have been reduced to the lone voice in the wilderness. Once they enter the education system the education system gets the majority of their waking hours. In order to compete they must conform. If they question they may be subjected to ridicule, or worse. Most major school districts have an almost 1:1 ratio of administrator to classroom teacher.

My point is again, “Just how does one learn from the past when they are never taught the past?”

Sometime my rants run away with me….I look forward to your comments.

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How to Cope With Temper for a Happy Life

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest submission from Anthony Schultz to The Prepper Journal. Since I have been working on an article for later in the month titled “Things That Drive Preppers Crazy”, and two of the things I looked at yesterday were the American Education System and The “Media”, I felt like this would make an appropriate post. I will need to reread it often as I finish the aforementioned post. There are a lot of points here that would serve us well everyday as well as in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as being entered into the Prepper Writing Contest AND have a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

It would be wise to say that there comes a time when it’s tough to hold that fiery rage which burns inside of us when someone bullies us or hampers our self-esteem. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to control that rage, as, in an array of situations, before we could really control our tongue, we generally end up regretting the blunt snide remarks. We all regret it afterwards, don’t we? Well mostly. Anger is that emotion which has the potential to bring out the real us.

What comes as an uncanny fact is that anger is socially frowned upon. When we talk about anger management, it’s different from that of stress or even anxiety. In most of the cases when you fight with somebody, anger is the reason behind all the embarrassment. Always remember that your temper can bring out the worst side of you. It can be said that you make the worst speech when you’re angry and you might regret the same forever. It is one of the most common regrets sited at funerals.

That said, let’s dig deeper and know more about the ways to cope with temper for the purpose of attaining a happy life:

Controlling the Reaction:

Consider a heated moment and you’re burning with rage, an array of people would end up immediately responding to the situation, right? Well, let’s flip the coin, showing any reaction acts as a catalyst, rather than stopping the argument, it only ignites the rage further. We can say, the best possible approach to deal with the situation is to stay quiet. Always remember that rage is only temporary and you shouldn’t feed the same. Just try to control yourself for a minute or two, and you’ll not only save the embarrassment but staying quiet can be your best face forward to maintain your self-esteem.

Scribble The Unwanted:

According to various scientific publications, writing down the thoughts or simply scribbling them on a piece of paper can help your temper in significant ways, can act as the release needed. When it comes to expressing our emotions in a constructive way, writing them down can be your state of the art pick. In simple terms, when you tend to write what you feel on paper, you grasp your anger in the best possible way. Not only will you cope coup with the depression, but you will attain some measured control over the pain/pressure caused by this linguistic trauma. When you start writing, think about the prime reasons that made you angry, select the quietest place in the vicinity and take your time to get normal, to again gain control of your emotions.


Do you know, exercises like Jogging can help your temper management endeavors in a great way?  Well, we all know that exercise can create an ever-lasting array of positive benefits for both the mind and the body. Jogging can help you control those racing emotions, giving you time to fully process your emotions and analyze your possible next steps. Exercise is like a low-dose aspirin for a heart patient. When you exercise, you not only burn the excess energy, but you really get a chance to think about the reasons as to why the event annoyed you.  When we take the time and think about the aspects that hamper our happiness we can usually work out temper management by ourselves.


Meditation is an excellent way to get back to center, to let other thoughts push this singular-issue to where it should be as opposed to it being omnipresent. And you don’t need to assume the lotus position or hum to do this. When one meditates, they just need a peaceful image, real or remembered. Have you ever walked on a beach anywhere and NOT seen someone sitting their staring at the ocean, watching and listening to the waves or other people there. Realized or not they are meditating and processing images and thoughts and experiences. It is a much needed-break or time to themselves. Benefit are pretty obvious.  Replenishing and refocusing the human brain, calming that rage, meditation is available at your tips. Some people, mostly happy people, look forward to pulling themselves from reality for some time. Doing yoga is a personal choice and may work for you. The bottom line is this helps to acknowledge what you really feel and let it go. Swap the rage with constructive thoughts and see the magic. This would only make your present pleasant and tomorrow easier. Drifting away and escaping the temper void is our best possible pick.

Rage and Efficiency?

Ever heard about reshaping your rage into motivation to achieve something? What comes as a lucid fact is that, you can turn your rage into motivation and, through this, you can improve your efficiency. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your professional life or personal. You can use your temper as a fuel to accomplish the array of the task in a splendid way. Having a tough time with your family? Well, go out and help the community. Rage and Efficiency are highly related, the endeavors capitalize when you have physical tasks in hand to be done. Always remember that you can volunteer for hard work and get rid of the temper by literally burning the rage. When we’re angry, our mind can compile a mountain of a workload in no time.

Just Breathe:

Breathing and our emotions are closely related. Breathing controls emotions like sadness, happiness, fear and most importantly, anger in various ways. When you’re angry, you tend to breathe quickly. The science behind this is simple; you’re raising the blood pressure with abrupt breathing patterns and hence further fueling the rage (like Ferdinand the Bull when it finally dawns on him that he is NOT a sheep). When you’re angry, it’s always advised to breathe in a calming manner and maintain a constant rhythm. After effects? Well, in most of the cases, you end up with negligible to no anger inside of you. Do you know, when you breathe from the right nostril, it oxygenates the left part of the brain and vice-versa? Forcing an alternating breathing habit for few minutes can induce a balancing as well as a calming effect on your brain.


Life is a grand journey when you hold on to anger; you’re simply grasping a piece of burning coal with the intention of throwing it on somebody. If you don’t throw it, you’re the one who gets burned. Letting it go is a symbol of superiority, always remember that you can’t just afford to lose precious moments of your life just because you were angry.

I am Anthony Schultz, an independent author and as of now working for a thesis writing service. My aptitudes and ability and attitude have helped me a great deal.

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Making Medical Preparations

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest submission from Red J to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as being entered into the Prepper Writing Contest AND have a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

An Additional Editor’s Note: I need to point out that this is good information and that it should be read and considered from your own point of view and that is why I have decided to publish this guests post. As it pertains to methods of stocking up on prescription medications there are some legitimate issues you must consider. As presented your interactions with your medical professionals are between you and them. Most insurance companies will not authorize prescriptions for more than 30-days. Shopping alternative pharmacies is a practice oft used in the illicit drug trade and EXTREME caution is recommended here as this may indeed get you on a list you never, ever want to be on. Some meds HAVE TO BE REPORTED at the time of sale and this is built into the software that runs a pharmacy. They will ask for a valid ID and submit it to their systems. This is a touchy subject as human weakness and human greed and government control all come together to possibly produce the worst of all outcomes. TPJ

Like many middle-aged Americans, I have a number of health conditions and rely on the medical system to manage my health concerns.  So I am very concerned about making medical preps.  I expect that many people’s health will get worse in an extended grid-down situation.  Stress on everyone will be extremely high.  A nutritious diet and sufficient sleep may not be consistently available.  Such living conditions will make people more susceptible to common ailments such as cold, flu; offers help for colds, flu, and a broken ankle.

Others will be more vulnerable and possibly life-threatening.  Imagine a COPD patient without her oxygen pump or a diabetic patient without his diabetic medicine, or someone with chronic pain who no longer has access to pain medicines.  Untreated high blood pressure will damage a person’s arteries, leading to buildup of plague, reducing blood flow and eventually heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.

Does anyone in your family or prepping group take medicine for arthritis, thyroid, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, heartburn or acid reflux, asthma, diabetes, depression and/or anxiety?  These are some of the most common American health issues.

This article will help you and your household or group make medical preps.

Stock up on OTC Products for Your Specific Conditions

I’m not going to recommend first aid items to stock because they can be found in and

These are somethings to stock for muscular pain or fibromyalgia – handheld massager, capzasin gel, salonpas patches, lidocaine patches, Stopain, Biofreeze.  Potassium tablets can also reduce muscular soreness.  A hot bath with Epsom Salt can also reduce muscular pain.  My pharmacist told me that Vitamin B-12 that’s dissolved under the tongue, can reduce nerve pain; it must be the kind dissolved under the tongue (sublinqual) and not swallowed.  An electric handheld massager can also help reduce muscle soreness; see below on how to prepare to use it after a grid-down disaster.

If you have diabetes, do you have an extra blood sugar monitor, spare battery, test strips, and alcohol swabs?

Will anyone in your family or group need a cane, crutches, walker, or wheelchair in the future?

How to Stock Extra Prescription Medicines

One way to stock up on your prescription medicines is to call in refills 4-5 days early.  Do this every month for 6-7 months, and you will have one extra month’s supply of your medicine.  I’ve been told that one can also do this with mail order prescriptions.  Exaggerating your symptoms may also get your doctor to prescribe a larger dose (or a battery of new and expensive tests). This ma result in allowing you to store the difference in doses.

Another way is to consider reducing your dose 1-3 days per week, and storing the difference.

Another way to stock up is to ask your doctor or PA (Physician’s Assistant).  Explain to him/her why you believe things will get very bad.  Depending on his/her response, ask if s/he would consider prescribing a larger dose.  Wait to do this until you have been seeing your doctor regularly for at least a year, to establish a trusting relationship.  Do not ask for extra opioids because of widespread concern about opioid abuse and addiction, and U.S. states are passing new laws making it harder for doctors to prescribe opioids.  As a patient, recognize that when you ask your doctor for extra medicine, you may actually be asking him/her to accept additional risk to his/her ability to continue practicing medicine.  So be discerning in what you request. There is a possibility he or she may have some pharmaceutical samples that they can dispense.

When I first considered asking my doctor for extra med, I was skeptical about ever finding a doctor who would agree to that.  So I didn’t ask for several years.  Then one day, I remembered that a doctor or PA is bound by doctor-patient confidentiality; so asking would not blow my OPSEC (operational security).  I thought the worst my PA could do was say no; what did I have to lose?  So I explained my reasons for believing things will get bad. My PA responded in an understanding manner and then asked me what I wanted, to my surprise.  Now I didn’t want to take advantage of his willingness to do so (and by that time, I had a good supply of most of my prescriptions); so I asked only for an extra dose of my diabetic medicine.

If your doctor agrees to this, I recommend going to a different pharmacy, one that does not have your insurance info in their system, and I would not give them your insurance info, as your insurance company will not approve a second dose and likely identify you as a possible unethical user (since those who abuse or sell their prescriptions often use more than one pharmacy.)

As you stock up on your prescription medications, keep them in a secure, discreet place in your home.  Do not tell friends that you have them or where they are.  If word gets out that you have a supply of prescription meds in your home, drug thieves may target your home.  A US military study showed that medications in pill form will last 15 years. (This is very general – as a lot of meds may require refrigeration or do have short potency life spans.) A medicine in capsule form will last 1-2 years, and liquid meds a year or less. You will want to keep some in your bugout bag and get home bag, rotating them periodically.

How to Power Electric Medical Equipment in a Grid-down Situation

Do you use a CPAP for sleep apnea?  Does someone in your group use a heating pad for arthritis or sore mucles?  Does anyone use a TENS unit or muscle stimulation unit for chronic pain?  Does a family member use an oxygen pump for a breathing ailment?  Does a disabled person use an electric scooter?

If electric medical equipment are to be used in an extended grid-down situation, plans must be made for an alternative power supply.  Options include wind power and water power, although most preppers choose a solar system. describes a solar power system that can be used to power electric medical equipment. describes a solar power system that can be used to power electric medical equipment. offers guidance on setting up a solar system, a backup generator, and a supply of batteries.  You can also find portable solar battery rechargers on amazon. is a review of a small portable solar system.  Look at your current and future needs for electrical power, and consider options before choosing one.

Physical Things You Can Do

When my PA recommended exercise a couple years ago, I chose to join a local gym and go 3 times a week.  I needed cardio exercise for my heart, exercises to strengthen my low back and core muscles, and weights to add some upper body strength.  Regular exercise has increased my energy, endurance, and strength. It has also improved my memory and quality of sleep.  I feel years younger.  My low back and hip problems meant I could not jog outdoors, but using an elliptical, step machine or stationary bike are low-impact cardio workouts.  Once I got past some initial muscle soreness (my PA recommended bananas and/or a potassium supplement), exercise makes me feel years younger.  To limit possible soreness when you begin exercising, ease into it; stop before you feel worn out.  Regular exercise can help you improve your health and prepare physically for the stresses of a disaster.

Exercise can reduce your chronic pain because exercise releases endorphins in your body that act as natural pain relievers.  If you suffer from low back pain, do some exercises to strengthen your low back and front core muscles; this will reduce your back pain by letting your muscles take some pressure off your spine.  I have found this to be true for my low back pain.

It is possible learn to do spinal adjustments on your own back, which will be important for those of us with spinal issues.  Here are some resources that show you how.

As you make your medical preparations, consider the medical needs of your household or group.  What do you need now and in the next 3-5 years?  Customize your medical preps for you and those closest to you.  Hard times are coming.  Will you and your family or group be medically ready?

If you reply with a question, I will try to help, and maybe others can help too.

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The post Making Medical Preparations appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Mother Nature Has A Way of Bringing Us Back to Center

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Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Have you ever been to Cherry Creek Mall in Denver? Great shopping, great restaurants all around, lovely even in a blizzard. I know because I almost got trapped there for 3 days, alone except maybe for that someone who was probably going to lock me in or throw me out in the blizzard, in dress shoes, thin slacks and a leather jacket (which quickly assumes the ambient air temperature.) This crossed my mind as I scurried, slipped and slid out of there to catch a taxi driven by one of the greatest cab drivers to ever make a fair fare.

It was late October in 1997, a Friday night, and I was in town on business, with just the aforementioned leather jacket and business casual attire. I had a second office there in downtown Denver and was on a quick business trip from sunny Southern California.

I write this as there are actually a lot of great lessons from that weekend for Preppers. Not wearing leather and dress shoes in Denver after August 15th or before June 15th being one of them. I had been previously been a victim of a September 4th snow storm there and I could not have been less prepared for what was about to happen if I were a space cadet from Southern California, which I was.

It started snowing late Thursday night. But this was Denver, the Mile-High City, Gateway to the Rockies, the beacon along the Front Range. If they weren’t prepared for a little winter weather then who was? I wasn’t. Again, nothing but dress shoes, one pair, wool slacks – the dressy lightweight stuff from Nordstrom’s as opposed to some woolly chaps that looked like you had a sheep tied to each thigh. That short-waisted leather jacket, and some fancy gloves that looked great but would let the moisture soak through to your hands after making maybe two snowballs.


When it dawned upon me that I better take some action as the snow wasn’t stopping and it was getting dark and local people far smarter than I had already headed for cover I found that taxi driver and we did Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride back to the Embassy Suites downtown. After he left me I just watched as he slid sideways out of the drop off area and off, I hoped, to a warm home, a hot meal and a loving family as he had earned it for this stranger and the meager fare.

Obviously not yet a Prepper, but a world traveler who was just a few hundred miles from the warm sandy beaches of home, the fun began.

Back at the hotel it was basically lock-down. Power and heat were on, staff, as captures as the guests were doing well at wearing their smiles, though they did thin as time passed. Anyone who has worked in the service industry dealing with “guests” will understand immediately.

Out at the fairly new and “weather proof” Denver International Airport (DIA), the reality came home. 4,000 travelers stranded, flights cancelled, airport shut down. This was NOT because of the Airport, which was prepared for such weather, but for the Municipality of Denver, the Airlines Employee’s Union and Federico Fabian Pena, the former Clinton Secretary of Transportation and later Energy.

The Municipality of Denver could not keep the roads to and from the airport open, no new flight crews could come in and none who had finished their shifts could get out and Union Rules, valid safety rules for sure, grounded them all after 10 hours, no matter how they spent the time. Pena Blvd., the main road in and out, named after that Stallworth of Clinton politics was named such because it crossed land that was formerly owned by the Pena family, not that it was any consideration in the planning of the new airport location while he was the Democratic Minority Leader of the state’s legislature.

But the people of Denver were resourceful. The Bronco’s had to fly out for an away game so some bright people organized a snowmobile caravan. Gathered up all the players from their homes and got them across the snow covered foothills to their chartered flight which was the only airplane cleared and allowed to depart during the closure. Rest assured that lawyers among the waiting at the airport made note of the event and sought to profit from it.

At the airport the First Horseman of the Apocalypse came in the form of food vendors running out of everything in the first 8 hours. This was a supply chain nightmare as it focused on minimizing shelf inventory to save energy costs. And no resupply cavalry was on the way. Plus, anyone with a child still on formula was suddenly thrown into rationing or going back to a more natural method of feeding, and this certainly had an impact on the yet-to-come Fourth Horseman.

The Second Horseman of the Apocalypse came in the form of there being significantly less than 4,000 chairs/seats in the terminals. Three days on concrete floors would even make Superman cranky.

The Third Horseman of the Apocalypse came in the form of supplies of things like soap, toilet paper and other cleaning supplies which were normally delivered every other day and lock down came at the end of the last delivery cycle AND being the modern example of business practices, they were very much into the “just in time” stocking of supplies to remain cost effective (less storage space needed, smaller deliveries requiring less labor to handle.)

But the one thing that people will remember the most is the arrival of the last and Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse – the travelers with small children who ran out of disposable diapers in less than 8 hours of a 72-hour gathering from hell. This was something that NONE of the vendors at the airport carried and with Pena Blvd closed none could be brought in. The burning question of just how many diapers should the average parent carry when making a short flight with connections through a major hub prone to winter weather was finally answered – more than you could ever get through TSA. If one entrepreneur had loaded up his or her snowmobile with disposable diapers and followed the Bronco’s brigade in they could have made enough to buy season tickets, for life.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel the staff was putting in herculean effort to keep things running, the guests from killing each other and their facilities intact. We as preppers talk about the 72-hour rule and we were nowhere near 72 hours at this point yet.

Knowing that they had finite food, no expected deliveries and a kitchen staff that was working non-stop they did amazing, though Sunday nights buffet looked more like the stuff children’s nightmares are made of as opposed to a meal. All veggies, some I suspect were formerly green, maybe, and I am sure some were formerly garnish under the salad bar bowls from the night before. To quote everyone who’s ever lived mother “there are children starving in (fill in the blank) who would kill for a meal like this!” That thought started to cross everyone’s mine.


The saving angel? The bar and all the room mini-bars were well stocked and the hotel gave away what ever you needed from the mini-bar. I suspect this was to prevent a gathering of guests 10 deep at the lobby bar. Smart marketing on the hotel’s part.

So What Were My Take-Aways?

  • Always dress for the possible weather as opposed to the predicted weather; layers can always be removed
  • Italian shoes are only suitable for indoors, anywhere and leather, if you are not riding a motorcycle, is best left on the animal as an outfit
  • That disposable diapers are definitely valid barter after the SHTF (literally)
  • That people will come through in a pinch and those that don’t can be found later, after the snow melts and you are long gone
  • That fancy gloves are only good at preventing you from leaving fingerprints as in the point above
  • That “weather proof”, along with bullet proof, is a misnomer. Only weather resistance can be achieved, and never bet against Mother Nature
  • That being unprepared, as both I and the Municipality of Denver were, for dealing with a predictable emergency had REAL consequences for 4,000 people suddenly stranded, driven to travel light due to government and airline regulations
  • That politics really does infect every part of our lives and it’s consequences are unending.

Be kind to cab drivers in Denver, be safe out there, stay situation aware and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!












Nothing like expensive Italian dress shoes in 3 feet of snow.

Buffett – all veggies the third night.









The National Weather Service describes the storm that hit Denver on October 24 and 25, 1997


Several major and interstate highways were closed as travel became impossible. Red Cross shelters were set up for hundreds of travelers who became stranded when they had to abandon their vehicles. Four people died in northeastern Colorado as a result of the blizzard. None of the deaths were in metro Denver.

At Denver International Airport…4 thousand travelers were stranded when the airport was forced to shut down. At least 120 cars were abandoned along Pena Blvd….the only arterial leading into and out of DIA. The blizzard cost air carriers at least 20 million dollars. Thousands of cattle died in the storm over northeastern Colorado…resulting in losses totaling 1.5 million dollars.

Some of the more impressive snowfall totals included: 51 inches at Coal Creek Canyon; 48 inches at Silver Spruce Ranch…near Ward; 42 inches at Intercanyon…in the foothills southwest of Denver; 37 inches at Sedalia; 35 inches at Aspen Springs and Conifer in the foothills west of Denver; 31 inches at Eldorado Springs… Southeast Aurora…and Englewood; and 30 inches on Table Mesa in Boulder. Snowfall totaled 21.9 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport…setting a new 24-hour snowfall record of 19.1 inches for the month. Snowfall totaled only 14 inches at Denver International Airport where north winds gusted to 39 mph on the 24th.

High temperature of only 21 degrees on the 25th equaled the record low maximum for the date first set in 1873. Low temperature of only 3 degrees on the 26th set a new record minimum for the date.


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Practical Preparedness: Sanity Savers

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Sanity is important. Really. It’s easy to think that in a disaster we’ll just make do because we won’t have any choice. That’s adding a lot of stress to our bodies and minds in an already stressful situation.

People die and are brutalized as a result of today’s stresses, and various reactions to them. We are not all going to be immune should something occur – income loss, natural disaster, or nation-altering event. However, we can make some sanity-saving preparations to ease those stresses rather than increase them.


We’re used to a great deal of privacy in most Western cultures. It’s no longer the norm to have 3+ generations in a single household. It’s no longer the norm to have even a nuclear family live without separate bedrooms and usually at least one family room to choose from and “get away”.

People make it through boomerang children and sudden house sharing. Flip side: Consider how many conflicts (and separations) occur when folks retire. Sometimes, two people are “suddenly” exposed to each other 24/7/365 and discover they actually only liked each other in small doses.

When we share tighter spaces, or share with more people than usual, conflicts tend to arise. Being able to retain even a minor visual escape from fidgets and from annoyances can be huge.

Cubbies can be arranged for tiny reading nooks, as well as to create smaller rooms or block off a bunk to provide some escape space. All we need to maintain some privacy and individual space are some sheets or fabric, and some screws, screw-in hooks, or some heavy-duty staples. You might also want to snag something like garden mesh or tulle that can be doubled up to provide a visual barrier but not block as much airflow.

Ear Plugs

As with getting out of sight, getting away from sounds can be enormously sanity saving. I prefer the Rite Aid-brand of soft orange foamies ($5-$8/50). They fit a variety of canals, fluff out fast, aren’t scratchy, and you can sleep on your side. They can also be used in conjunction with over-the-ear and around-the-ear headsets, which can further reduce the intrusion of outside noises.

Music & Headsets

Many of us like music, but don’t want to hear somebody learning to play the harmonica and singing may require those earplugs. Within my family, various infidels think Skillet is a pan, Pitbull is a breed, Celtic Woman is plural, FFDP=5FDP, and it’s normal to howl to country music. There’s audio torture in there for pretty much everybody.

Happily, we have options that will allow us to all dance to the beat of our own drummers.

There are umpteen music and video download services for smart phone or tablet. MP3 players have become wicked inexpensive. Phones are media storage devices, giving those old electronics we replace frequently new life. Terabyte external hard drives not much bigger than a wallet run $10-$20. They all fit compactly in Ziploc and EMP boxes and shields

Even more happily, there are these handy things called “headsets”. This is different from earbuds. Headsets go over your ears or fit all the way around the ear, sealing off even more of the outside world. Plus, you can wear earplugs with a headset.

You’ll want to make sure you’re also stocking multiple power options. There are rocket stoves that can produce electricity. Small solar chargers are inexpensive. Some are barely bigger than an old flip phone, some are the size of smart phones and tablets, and some that are still in the $20-$50 range take up the space of a laptop – some of which expand to 2-3x times that for collection. Most will handle cell phones and mp3 players easily.

Cough Drops & Syrup

It may seem ridiculous, but somebody repeatedly hacking really will get on others’ nerves. It can also be disruptive to sleep – theirs and others’. Sleep deprivation is one of those things that generates emotional outbursts and bad decisions. It’s an easy fix.

Books, Games & Entertainment

Don’t ignore entertainments just because you think you’ll be working and then sleeping, and won’t need light or distractions. We watched and listened to stories and played sports and games even during pretty tough, lean periods of history.

There are compact card versions of a lot of board games, quickie fun like Man Bites Dog, and games like Qwixx that can cross purpose into Farkle, Yahtzee, and other dice games with some pre-printed instructions. We can create holiday, seasonal, and educational versions of Pictionary, Last Word, BINGO, and Scattergories. (Budget extender: home-print prompts and draw for letters instead of buying the game/alphabet die.) Notebook-sized dry erase boards provide reusable playing and scorekeeping.

Books run the gamut from the usual suspects (crosswords, Sudoku, search-a-word, “Brain Busters”) to fiction in line with family’s TV or gaming interests. Large-print versions will be easier to read in dim light. Some of the free papers in front of supermarkets have a puzzle page (don’t forget to snag the next addition for answers, and pencils).

There’s nothing wrong with adding books to our electronic media, but have some hardcopies.

Places like Oriental Trading Co. can be great for nabbing tiny jigsaw puzzles, finger-fidgets, all kinds of crafts, brain teasers, small activities, dominos, and bead mazes, for less than $5-$10 per lot of 4-24. Watch for their free shipping with no purchase limit specials ahead of holidays.

You can have jigsaw puzzles made out of favorite photos, or print your own. A dozen with their pictures fit in a shirt box. Some Nerf or airsoft guns and home-printed targets can make for an all-ages pirate or zombie party. Indoor bowling sets, non-pokey dartboards, mini indoor basketball goals, homemade bean-bag tosses, and similar are all ways to keep boredom and stress from boiling over even if we’re not trapped by weather or in a bunker/compound situation.

If there are adults and adolescents, don’t forget the condoms. Especially if you don’t plan for other entertainments.


For some, books, games, movies, music, and the internet are vices. For others, it’s nicotine or booze, chocolate or caffeine, popcorn or chips. Some people are pretty well addicted to their sports, watching or playing. Socializing and shopping will be a hard loss for others.

Loss leads to stress, and we’re already looking at stressful situations. We can either add to losses, or mitigate some. People “Jonesing is only going to further stress them and those around them.

Vices can absolutely be poor choices, especially in contained spaces. Still, weigh them out. Some aren’t so bad. Many addiction vices can be stocked for an initial transition period. Other types can be stocked to be a once-in-a-while treat or easily, inexpensively indulged.


Heat can be the straw that breaks a camel’s back. Heat can also cause actual medical stress, so combating it checks extra boxes.

One easy, fairly inexpensive helper are battery-operated fans. Some of them are tiny little AA and AAA mini’s we clip to strollers and dashboards. Box fans come in 6”-10” and 12”-20” ranges, running off 4-8 AA or 1-4 C or D batteries. Many can now be charged directly via USB.

Some of them generate a fair bit of breeze, which can help tremendously with perceived temperature. Even the less-effective ones can help a little. You can increase effectiveness by sticking something cool or cold in front of them, like a frozen water bottle, wet sponge, or one of those crack-cool ice packs (especially wrapped in a damp cloth).

Dunk-snap bandanas and soak-activated neck coolers (those start to get slimy after multiple uses) can also help significantly.


The loss of friends and family, the loss of purpose after losing a job or retiring, loss of social outlets, and injuries already cause people to spiral into depression. It’s a common problem as-is, and is fairly guaranteed to increase if our worlds are ripped away. Anything that can fight it will be a big help – exercise is one of those things.

Exercise also helps with stress. It’s going to be a necessary outlet for active folks who are suddenly “trapped”. It allows some to release some of their frustrations – some, not everyone. It can also ease anxiety.

Physical therapy and senior citizen exercises can be helpful even for young, healthy bodies. We can leave mat space for calisthenics and Pilates, have chairs sturdy enough for exercise props, and stock resistance bands. There’s also the option of sticking a bike on a rack – which has the advantages of potentially being connected to a grinder, a laundry machine, or a generator. Hand bikes, rowers, or reclining bikes have their own advantages.

I personally wouldn’t install a boxing bag or treadmill somewhere everybody has to hear it getting pounded, since that’s only going to create more conflict and frustration.

Dealing with Conflicts

Anytime you increase stress, problems are going to start showing up. It’s not like preexisting issues go away, either. Especially in situations where you’re doubling-up in homes, living in RV or camping conditions, or in a bunker-barracks scenario, conflicts are going to arise.

Study, train, and stock material related to anger management, stress, grief processing, PTSD, forgiveness, passive-aggressive tendencies, abuse/assault, compromise, divorce, loss specifically related to parents and kids and miscarriages, for-real conflict resolution, and both assertiveness and sensitivity training. Get training on listening – specifically listening to family members – for as many as can attend.

We see divorces, PTSD, business partnership dissolutions, and family meltdowns every day. Thinking that high-stress will only bring our people closer, not crack some and create fissures, is delusional.



Sensory Processing/ Perception Disorder can manifest in a range of ways. Some “feel” and “see” certain sounds – sometimes like corduroy rubbing in the ear, or that awful sensation of a pencil eraser’s metal scraping paper and desk. I don’t actually recognize background noises – clocks ticking, ceiling fans whirring, dogs panting, conversations behind a door, and rubbing of a callous are as prominent to me as face-to-face words. It has advantages and frustrations.

Other common and regularly undiagnosed sensitivities include misophonia (triggered by picking at nails, whistling breath, chewing, sucking on teeth, flicking and tapping pencils, thumbing pages of books) and misokenisia (many of the same, plus twiddling thumbs, jerking feet, bouncing knees, etc., especially when the repetitive motion is at the verge of peripheral vision).

It’s not just “get over it” territory or being appalled by bad table manners and fidgets. The mis-wired brain triggers extreme flight-fight reactions. It can make sufferers want to cry, scream, or stab someone. People have grit their teeth so hard they crack fillings, and dug nails so hard into their own thighs and earlobes that they draw blood.

Providing escapes and being cognizant of bad habits, sensitivities to bad habits, and finding resolutions is going to be important. Especially since being trapped for a long winter already causes people to go postal (hello, cabin fever) and so many people have weapons handy.

Other sensitivities to note now, especially for tight, closed quarters, are things like somebody wheezing from Vick’s or Aspercreme, somebody sneezing and sniffling until aerosol deodorizers dissipate (and that person not covering their mouth/nose properly), regular detergents making somebody itch, improper hand washing (“Gross!” & “Don’t touch food/dishes!” tiffs), and the smell of certain cleaners turning somebody’s stomach. There’s usually a work-around.

Anytime there’s nowhere to flee – trapped together by a hurricane or frigid weather, or in a bunker-type situation – the reaction to stressors is going to be to fight.

Pay attention, learn sensitivities ahead of time, and figure out ways to prevent and mitigate them. Distractions and mini-escapes will help tremendously.

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Homes For Heroes Is Tackling America’s Veteran Housing Issues

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Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from Chrissy McDonald to The Prepper Journal. Published under my name because I am adding my 2 cents at the end. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

A note about our author in her words: “This is personal to me because my grandfather, father, two uncles, and three brothers have all served in the military with many relatives going in to law enforcement or becoming firefighters.”

Between 2016 and 2017, the number of homeless veterans increased by 1.5 percent. This means that our military men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve America now make up approximately nine percent of the homeless in our streets. This matched the rise in overall numbers living without a home. For the men and women that we consider our heroes, it seems like they are facing an increasingly harsh reality when they return home from serving. In June, 2017 the government announced plans to halt one of the country’s major homelessness programs aimed at veterans, and faced a major outcry from politicians and civilians alike.

In the face of increasing hardship for our heroes, there has been an organisation that has rapidly become a household name and trusted resource for our military men and women. Homes for Heroes has quickly risen to become one of the nation’s fastest growing charities, and a highly rated one as well. Launched after the 9/11 attacks, the national non-profit has expanded to 49 states across America and has shown its support for veterans in a number of ways. Here are some of the ways the organisation is helping to combat veterans homelessness.

Building Homes for Heroes

Homes for Heroes has announced its goal for 2018: to gift a home every 11 days. Its longer term goal is to house 200 veterans with homes by 2020. Judging by the past two years, it is certainly on its way to achieving that goal. For the past two years, Homes For Heroes has provided 57 homes to injured veterans and their families.

The Foundation

Through the organisation’s foundation and support of programs like the AREAA Housing Assistance Program, Homes for Heroes has granted over $400,000 to deserving veterans and their families. In December 2017, Homes for Heroes also donated $5,000 to the AREAA Education Foundation that will go towards helping veterans with housing repairs, amendments and any down payment assistance. The program has been praised by many including Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth who stated, “Your efforts and generosity, not only benefit the men and women who have served our country, but you are an example of leadership for the next generation of Americans”. The organisation also supports and promotes self sufficiency for those injured veterans readjusting to their life changing injuries and life after serving.

The collaboration with local businesses and other non profits continue to be seen with corporate organisations Chase and Madza joining forces with Building Homes for Heroes in September to assist three veterans during Military Appreciation Day. Two of the families were awarded new Mazda vehicles and allowed to choose a car of their choice. 

Hero Rewards

As of 2017, the Homes for Heroes network has grown to include over 2,200 affiliates across 49 states. Since its launch over 10, 000 heroes have been helped with reduced fees and red tapes when purchasing a home through the Hero Rewards Program. The 25 percent reduction in fees and donations from clients are funneled into the Foundation, essentially helping more heroes in need.

Homes for Heroes continues to find new ways to say ‘thank you’ to the men and women who serve the country during its time of need in Iraq and Afghanistan. The organisation is proud to have achieved its goal of one home every ten days in 2017 and 93 percent of its income goes directly to its causes.

Editor’s note: How does this help Preppers? Well, while it still doesn’t answer the open question of “just how do you REALLY make arrows off the grid” it is along a subject line that permeates our current news. And the comments following are from some research and seeking to know exactly what the business model is behind this enterprise because we, as Preppers, respect our veterans, a lot of us are veterans, and want to see them given a helping hand when needed.

Be clear, realtors view this as a for-profit business. That is an opinion that is prevalent on the web site Active Rain which is a real estate blog. I don’t buy it but leave it up to you to research. CharityNavigator states the following:

“Building Homes for Heroes has received a perfect 4-star rating from CharityNavigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator and independent watchdog for nonprofit organizations. Building Homes for Heroes was also awarded a perfect score of 100 in the category of Accountability and Transparency.” – Wikipedia defines this group as “An American independent charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States.Wikipedia”. It is a 501(c)(3) business headquartered in Glen Rock, NJ.


So is it or isn’t it a charity? The affiliates are real estate agents who have signed up for the program as a promotional advertising method. They agree to provide a 25% discount on all transactions associated with the home sale to Homes for Heroes in exchange for using their branding and advertising. This is what they are in most states, from their website “Hero Rewards offers are limited and/or restricted in Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.” I believe this to be more a matter of state regulations on real estates transactions, for example Texas allows agents to reassign commissions as they deem fit. 

From Active Rain: Where do they make money? They charge the “affiliates” $120 a month. Yes, that’s $120 a month, just to be called an affiliate. That gets you NOTHING! Let me also explain that Homes for Heroes will remind you over and over that they are not a lead generating company. That further means that you could be paying that $120 a month each and every month throughout the year, and never get a Hero referred to you. This is simply the reality of the business. They are straight forward about what they do and are providing a service to Veterans, but like every other prepper, I like to look under the hood and kick the tires. So just another consideration when you might be transacting real estate.

I will go one step further on the vein, I am currently trying to sell a home and was not aware of this organization. I have opted for a flat-fee realtor to represent me and it is working just fine…so far. The business model of giving away 6+% of your home value (3% on each side of the transaction) is really an amazing thing. Does the documentation change in difficulty on a real estate sale of a home priced at $122,500 vs one priced at $855,490? Maybe the extra ink to print numbers with a larger footprint, but toner and ink prices aren’t that high.

My realtor recommended not putting a restriction on “the going rate” in my listing for the buyers agent because “most agents will pass on showing your home unless they get the full commission, their brokers insist upon it.” I see it as a selling point if I am a buyer as I can tell the seller the agents fee for both ends of the transaction are $6,000, total, as opposed to 6% of say $300,000. Keeping $12,000 of what was your money in the first place is NOT a bad thing. This model is catching on so look for the large brokerages to start copying the DNC on negative information generation. I will shut up now as I wait to see if the buyer on my house, sold in one day, really thinks I am going to pay for a whole new roof for THEM to live under. I admit that I did not budget that into my pricing.

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How to Use Vodka as a Prepping Supply

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from Valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. Try as I might I just couldn’t keep from offering comments as I claim to have extensive experience in this particular substance, er subject. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

Vodka is one of the highest concentrated alcoholic drinks available. It’s relative tastlessness makes it a favorite for combining into mixed drinks, and it’s possible to find relatively inexpensively in almost every grocery store in America. Vodka, if used and stored correctly, is also a very important supply to have for prepping, because it has a wide range of possible uses and it never goes bad.

Vodka as a Bartering Supply

When the SHTF scenario finally occurs, one of the surest things that will happen is that alcohol’s value will skyrocket. People crave their vices, even if the vice is not one that causes a physical dependence, and they are usually willing to give up quite a lot to get even a drop of what they know and love.

It’s also a fairly sure thing that, as much as we prep for the future, we cannot possibly deal with every eventuality. You may think you’ve got enough to keep you and your family fed, until you suddenly realize that you have ten boxes of noodles, but no pasta sauce to make a meal with.

Since vodka stores indefinitely, and since it has such a high concentration of alcohol, it’s possible to get a buzz with a very limited quantity of alcohol, and in an SHTF situation, where dependents have been without for so long, it will take very little for them to get drunk. Therefore, you should have little trouble trading a bottle, or even a few sips, for something very valuable when that time comes.

Vodka as a Medical Supply

Like all alcohol, vodka can be used in place of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol in medical applications. Obviously, as a designed food item, the vodka is not quite as good of an alternative as the real thing, but in a pinch, you can certainly use it to disinfect wounds, or rub it on the body over an area you may wish to cut into or sew to reduce the risk of infection.


You could use it to clean your knife or other supplies as well, paricularly needles, or tweezers. Vodka won’t be as effective as other forms of made-to-use medical supplies like hand sanitizer or medicinal alcohol, but it will work well enough.

Alcohol is also useful as an analgesic for tooth pain, and can be rubbed on your skin to treat itches or poison ivy.

Vodka to Make Tinctures

If you grow herbs, or use herbal medicine in any way, then vodka should already be part of your fall purchase list so that you can use it in creating tinctures to preserve herbaceous medicines. The process is simple – in a small, dark and opaque bottle or jar, fill the bottle or jar with herbs (leaves, flowers, roots, or whatever piece you’d normally use). Top off the bottle with vodka, and let it sit for a week or so in order to have the medicine steep into the liquid. After you’ve allowed the mixture to steep, you can strain out the liquid tincture, and store it in dropper bottles, which take up less area and have an adequate measuring system included.

A few tips: you must ensure that your alcohol is at least 80 proof (40% ABV – alcohol by volume) so that the alcohol content can successfully break down the essential plant matter. You must make sure that your storage solution is opaque, as sunlight can damage the medicinal qualities of the tincture. Making a tincture is a method of storing herbal medicines nearly indefinitely if you preserve the bottles in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

To take a tincture, you simply add one full dropper to a beverage, or apply underneath your tongue. Because the tincture is an alcoholic product, it will allow the medicine to be absorbed quickly in to your bloodstream, and work quickly and powerfully to fix your ailment. Some herbalists recommend rubbing tinctures into your skin, although this is probably less effective.

Sage leaves, chamomile flowers, and willow bark are easy-to-grow plants that are common in many areas, and have a variety of useful effects. They make great starter tinctures.

Vodka as an Accelerant

Vodka is very high in alcohol content, and as anyone who experimented in chemistry can tell you, alcohol burns hot and quick. You can use vodka as an accelerant for fires (similar to lighter fluid). It does not create a steady, long burn, but it could help you catch a few twigs on fire, and is especially useful if you’re not all that skilled with bushcraft.

Vodka as a Gun Cleaner

If you’ve got a rag and a bottle of vodka, you have all the materials necessary to clean your gun. The alcohol in vodka can break down most of the buildup and gunk that accumulates inside gun barrels and can get all the moving parts cleaned and shined up well.

Vodka as a Weapon

With a rag, a bottle of alcohol and a fire, you have an effective Molotov cocktail, an exploding fire grenade that can deal massive damage to crowds, a vehicle or a building. If you’re in a one-on-one fight, a broken bottle is a very menacing weapon. But beware, glass bottles either do not break easily or shatter completely, depending on a lot of factors. Once again, the movie and TV stereotypes are a myth. On the upside, anyone you injure with this will appreciated that you were kind enough to use a weapon that will fight infection.

Vodka to Keep Warm?

Alcohol in general can make you feel like you’ve increased your body temperature, and therefore, it is often thought of as a way to keep your internal body temperature high. In fact, alcohol does the opposite. You feel warm when you drink alcohol because it actually lowers your internal temperature, causing you to feel like you just walked out on a warm summer day wearing a winter coat. Drinking in cold temperatures can be very hazardous to your health. However, that false feeling, along with the numbing effect, can be an effective method for calming agitated people.

NOTE: Almost any of the applications here use vodka in unconventional ways, and in almost all circumstances, it is not the primary or ideal way to perform the action. Also, any high proof alcohol will do the job, but vodka is the most accessible and least expensive in my experience. Brandy, Ever-clear or moonshine will all work quite well. When buying vodka, it’s probably best to buy it in glass, not plastic, bottles, and you may wish to choose an organic brand. The higher the concentration of alcohol, the more effective it will be in almost every circumstance listed above.

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Putting 2017 in the Rear-view

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

There’s no shortage of people who are delighted to put 2017 in the rear-view. I’m one of them. Mine doesn’t even revolve around politics or the major disasters that struck over the course of the year – and they were legion. I was lucky enough to weep only for strangers.

Mine comes from the repeated “small” one-two punches from nature. It was a tough year here, but it was only tough. We didn’t make national news (thank heavens). I am also lucky enough that, right now, I don’t need the things that were impacted. However, 2017’s local effects will resonate for years. As preppers, it makes a good case study. So…

Leading Up To 2017

I’m not “new” to my area even though I only moved back in 2016-2017. (Shoutout to my peeps – ‘twas BAD moving prepper+plants+animals…again.) With close family ties and multiple visits per season, I’ve stayed in touch with our lands.

Some of the property I acquired had actually been in our family up into my lifetime. It’s land I walked as a child and teen. I’ve been solely and actively managing some of it for 10-12 years. In some cases, I know it far more intimately. It’s where I finished growing up. I’ve visited for the 20+ years I was away. I’ve had my hands in that dirt and boots in those woods for most of my life.

Even when we intimately know our area and planting-harvest cycles and needs, nature can throw us curveballs. It doesn’t take a major disaster to wreak havoc.

The Opening Acts of “Nature’s Wrath-2017”

My area has been in a long drought. We set local records for droughts and heatwaves that finally ended in 2016. Soils and plants are still recovering. Domestic perennials that had been fine in past years and decades slowly failed or are stunted. The wild edibles and forage have shrunk in some cases, expanding in others, or disappeared entirely.

Then Winter 2016-2017 was a particularly weird one. It was plenty wet, but it never got really cold, and it didn’t stay cold long. The drought and the warm, wet winter combined to magnify some of the one-two punches 2017 delivered to our little neck of the woods.

The Main Events

Long-range forecasting held true for the back-end freezes and frosts leaving 2017. However, the last frost in spring is usually March 15-30.

It warmed then as usual. Then a 22-degree, three-day freeze hit us in late April.

Anything not covered froze. Now, thanks to our modern weatherman, we knew this was coming back at normal planting time. You can’t always adjust, though. See, autumn-sown wheat is the healthiest and highest-yielding here. There are also frost-sown peas and grains that had hit the soil in winter expecting the norms to hold true. You can’t cover whole fields.

Ignore the veggies. Ignore the delay in planting for spring-sown crops. I lost two-thirds of my usual calorie harvest 2-10” above the ground, frozen tips to roots. I wasn’t alone.

We already knew that some of the chill-hour dependent trees would be a wash entering 2017. Now we also had extensive damage to leaf and flower buds. Early-cropping berries were totally lost. In some cases, we lost trees and shrubs themselves, or they died back to the ground and will start almost completely over. Few here have smudge pots, fewer “enough”. Spraying only saved some from the freeze.

Nature followed with a one-two punch of month-long soaked periods.

The first, in late spring, was bad enough just delaying haying and planting, and from seed-crop loss. Then, straight-line winds barreled through. The sodden ground couldn’t hold. The whole area lost mostly the big, mature specimens – both evergreen and deciduous, in yards, in nut orchards, and in our woods.

The second period of constant wetness struck in normally dry August-September. That’s grain, bean, and oil seed harvest season. I had dry beans sprouting in the pods on the vines and sunflower seeds sprouting in the heads.

My usual harvest methods didn’t work, nor did my usual threshing. I had to find space to dry beans, grains, and oil seeds so they could be inspected for mold (sadly, I plant many dark and spotted pods). The labor alone impacted how much I could salvage. Tree and grass haying was nightmarish. We sheltered some, fermented some, rotated pasture faster (remember: hoofs/claws+wet = mudpit instead of field), gifted lots to neighbors, and left some to seed for wildlife.

Lingering Effects

2017’s pains aren’t limited to 2017. More things had to stay covered longer, and later. That delayed plantings where I needed the frost screen for pollination or pest prevention. Wet + heat = insect, bacteria, and fungi weather. Preventatives, treatments, and amendments had to be applied – repeatedly and far more often than usual, due to washout. That lowers those stocks, and creates soil vulnerabilities.

With the edible grains and legumes from the frost death and wetness, went seed for future planting. (The soaked seeds may have broken dormancy, and just not advanced enough to see splitting and dimples). I collected a tenth of the seed I anticipated for landrace projects. Luckily, growers harp “keep 2-4 generations of seed”. So I have backups, but no expansion planting on those fronts.

My Wounded Woods

Had 2017 been a “Bad Thing Happened” year where we lost purchasing capability as individuals or as a region/nation/world, culling and rationing would have gone into effect in June. See, it’s not just the ag side. My woods and river are impacted, too. My heart truly breaks for those places impacted even more.

There are some benefits, but it’s mostly future challenges. Timber, posts/rails, and firewood harvest will have some boom-bust, but that’s pretty easy to mitigate. My wildlife habitat took some nasty injuries, though.

That may sound like it’s solely yuppy-greenie-eco-freak nannying, but I use my wildlands. I harvest mast for birds and hoofstock. I hunt and forage those woods. Waterfowl and fish need the woods to keep the river and creek clear. Small birds, raptors, rodents, and cats provide pest control.

Future boom is coming, from all the growth that will spring up inside deer and rabbit reach in the next few years. However, there are a lot of pines, oaks, walnuts, pecans, elms and maples that didn’t drop seed this summer and autumn.

2017 was a boom acorn year where oaks still stand, happily, but trees we lost won’t yield anything in 2018, 2019, 2020… 2025… 2028… 2032… That’s going to affect the deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits, quail, doves … although the latter might boom if enough there’s small seed perennials and grasses in the verges and openings.

A lot of young saplings came down with the behemoths, and won’t be standing for nibbling tips and stripping bark Winter-Spring 2018. A lot of mature-tree tips and buds won’t be feeding deer, raccoons, and porcupines. If too much of the young growth that’s standing now gets eaten as an alternative, it will take longer yet to get my woods back to former levels.

Change the Circumstances

Had my 2017 been everywhere, and 6 months into a widespread disaster, many preppers and survivalists would be in pretty dire straits – the homesteader types this first winter, spring, and summer, the survivalists maybe a little later depending on how hard-hit foraging, fishing and hunting already “was” at 2017’s opening salvo. Had January or March 2017 been the zero-hour for a disaster, many of them would still be in dire straits with the loss of farm and garden yields.

We can’t beat nature. We can prepare for her, though. The just “bad” years, anyway.

Our storage goals should cover not just to our planting season, not just to the following harvest season, but include a year when our staple grains and beans are lost, as well as the seed from them.

Ideally, we have alternatives, not just backups. Should drought, lingering spring wetness, or a late freeze a month removed from our averages and records hit us, alternative crops might not yield as much, but they will take some of the burden off our storage.

To prepare for insect hordes, summer-autumn floods, and early first frosts that may take our main harvests, we can stagger our plantings, and plant with a variety of harvest dates in mind. It can make crop rotations “funtastic”, but it’s workable.

We can also apply the cycles we see. Really bad single-year droughts seem to regularly be followed by crazy wet springs or really nasty winters that cling and hold on. Droughts and lingering wetness change the compositions of field and pasture, so we need to reseed that or be prepared to wait it out.

We know that drought means dry. Dry means increased fire risks, individual and widespread. We can increase our watchfulness.

A tangibly, visibly bad drought, a several-year drought cycle, or a wildfire uphill or upstream, and flash flooding and mudslides become pretty predictable. We may not know when they’ll hit, but we know it’s a risk, and can limit exposure to risk areas and prepare to evacuate in heavy rains.

If we’re planning to hunt and forage, knowing the patterns of nature and wildlife lets us anticipate the booms and busts. We can adjust what we take, when we take it, how much we take, and increase preservation of wild bounty to mitigate later disappearances.

Nature can be capricious. Surviving her “sudden” outbursts can be hard enough. Surviving when we depend utterly on her day-to-day mercy takes some planning, resilience, and perseverance. It can be done, however. We’ve just sometimes lost touch with how we did it throughout history.

We have time to learn right now, though. And, thanks to some of the technology that also makes us vulnerable and forgetful, we have a whole world’s resources to apply to preparing for it.

2017 in the Rear-view

I had nowhere near the tragedies that occurred in the rest of the world. I lost no family or friends. My home stands strong, whole, and warm. My hill and my river are not burned or buried under mud. My town wasn’t endangered by wind, water, or warfare. No madman or terrorist put us in the news.

I do not make light of this year’s pains. The people affected by 2017’s human-caused and natural crises have my heartfelt sympathy.

It doesn’t take a single-point disaster, though.

Our local farmers took the same repeated hits I did. One re-tilled six times without a single market-sale or silo-filling yield to show for the expenditures in fuel, time, and seed … and now he must purchase what he didn’t harvest. Some had to sell off a chunk or whole herd because they can’t feed them this year. Some have to sell land they can’t afford without one harvest or another. Disasters were small, but disasters all the same. For every tree cutter banking overtime here, there were farm-related laborers with no work. Some have lost their homes.

For them, the world as they knew it has ended. A lot of people are in that position entering 2018.

2017 will continue to affect the road ahead. I am very, very, very grateful not to have been the victim of any of the heart-wrenching moments that peppered this year, all around the globe. She wasn’t just hardships for me, though. She was also learning opportunities, a chance to evaluate, and a reminder that I am just as vulnerable to the non-crisis disasters as I am the biggies.

So, I’m happy to wave bye-bye, but I owe her a thank you, too. My heart breaks for those to whom 2017 was not as kind.

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Helpers for Preppers’ Hands

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from R.Ann Parris to The Prepper Journal. Whether this is you, a parent or grandparent, it is all something we should prepare for as either helpers, or eventually having to accept help. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the next Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

I had an odd epiphany while I tried to change a saws-all blade in heavy gloves this winter. “Sweet, this is how my father lives his whole life … okay, minus the pain.”

My father has beautiful hands. They’re swollen thick as sausages, rough, bent and gnarled from arthritis and a long lifetime of broken and dislocated bones and knuckles. They’re usually nicked up. There’s years’ worth of stains in the callous that covers them. Some of the fingers never bend. Some of the fingers never straighten. He can barely feel them.

I see them, and I see them sneaking my Baby Boo away for a bottle he was supposed to be weaning off. I see them building a doghouse and working overtime for another stray his wife/girls saved. I see them laying intricate brickwork for my mother’s flower gardens. I see them hauling and cutting for what was supposed to be a beef calf before his girls fell in love (Ollie the Ox passed at the ripe old age of 20, and we still get harassed).

When I see those abused hands, I see love. But I also see the constant daily struggles with things that used to be automatic and easy.

I see them fighting to assemble the annual Lego train, frustrated by packaging, actually working to turn the page of a catalog. My mother pre-opens the pickle jars now. He has a bag and a tray handy pretty much everywhere, because he needs a cane and that leaves only one of those beautifully scarred, swollen, twisted hands for carrying things.

This is a man who built half his home from scratch and spent a lifetime making repairs, fixing and maintaining the family vehicles, erecting the fences, fishing and hunting, pollinating squashes, rewiring the attic, jerry-rigging tractors and tow-behinds, getting ATVs and animals out of mud and pits, building models, maintaining his firearms, braiding hair, and teaching not only his children, but his grandsons, how to do it, too.

Luckily, he’s also stubborn. His hands don’t stop him.

Our hands are one of the two tools that make us the most adaptable creature that has yet walked this earth.

Not only are the hands important, but the joints and limbs leading to them. Should we find ourselves in a chair or on a walker, crutches, or canes, permanently or temporarily, we’ll also find that we can’t carry quite so much, and that our reach is seriously curtailed.

Some of us are already starting to look at our own useful, able-bodied existence due to injuries and the ravages of age. Some of us are still young but want to help keep our parents and aging friends active and independent. Some of us are also looking at examples around us, and considering the high likelihood of an injury in an even more physical world.

Happily, we live in a modern world, where there are handy gadgets that can help us stay a little more independent and capable of contributing.


The #1 go-to tool that sits around all areas of my father’s house – and now his daughters’, ‘cause we learn well – is simple pliers. Sometimes needle-nosed are the ticket, because they can close so firmly, but usually they’re there in pairs with a blunt-nosed pair, usually arc-nose.

The arc-nose are pretty darn handy, because they can help with bottle tops, small jar lids, and are a little less likely to deform the child-safety lock on my Federal HP ammo boxes and cold meds. Our arc-nose pliers all have enough of an angle and “lip” at the front that you can use them to get into a lot of blister packs that want to give you a hard time (like Advantix, and of all things, Midol – because that’s NOT a good time to make something difficult to get into).

Either can help with getting zippers up and down, pull boots on, peel tape off/up, and as a combo, can help somebody thread their zipper. They open zip-top packaging, and with careful manipulation, can help seal them, too. They can be used to snag the pull tabs on coffee tins and soda/beer cans. They can help you thread a new tag on a dog collar, or hold onto a watch band to get the buckle tongue through (I had to look up what that was called). Needle-nosed pliers can scrape/punch the holes in the back of cardboard blister packs of batteries and gadgets.

Pliers of any type can help somebody with bad hands or little hand strength, little ability to throw their upper body into providing torque, especially when glue or a gorilla was apparently involved with putting your oil or coolant cap on, or tightening your tire air nozzle.

My daddy actually carries a small pair of arc-nosed pliers even when he’s not carrying a multi-tool or going to work. It’s just part of his pocket detritus now. That’s because pliers can do the job of a lot of the things on this list, or work in concert to help the gadgets do their jobs.

Psst … Pliers are HUGELY helpful with slippery and numbingly-cold-weather tasks, no matter who you are. Also, for opening the twist-pull Henry drop-feed tube mags in freezing temps. (Editor: Amen!)

Button & Zipper Pullers

These are just what they sound like. There’s a few styles and types, with some small enough for a dress shirt or suit coat pocket and some that are longer. There are some that are even more discreet, and tuck into a pocket-knife style housing.

The ones with a loop and a hook do both buttons and zippers. If it doesn’t have the hook, it’s only going to do buttons.

You can help zippers along by adding the metal loops from keyrings, “cutesy” zipper pulls like compasses and cartoon characters – which can be bought as such, or as mini keyrings – and for some discretion with jeans and pants, a small loop or fabric tab.

Also, shake-out and pop-in multi-tool pliers will get most pants zippers up and down pretty quick.

Jar & Can Openers

These come in several styles and general formats. I call them “jar pliers”, “fabric” or “mesh” thingies, “can hooks” and “coaster-cup” thingies. Happily, you can add “jar opener” to a search and actually find them all. The mesh thingies are sometimes called manual floppy sheets and mats, too.

The most-used types in our house are the jar pliers, and Papa’s can “hook”. His hook is also a grippy that fits wide-mouth canning jars and some of the commercial pickle and pasta jars, and it has a small-bottle lid opener and a bottle cap popper. We tend to keep two of the wrench-plier types handy, because you can use one to hold a slick jar and the other to crank on the lid.

There’s a jar “key” type out there, too. It might just be us, but we can’t get them to work.


Only having one hand – or none – available for toting makes you reliant on others, or highly inefficient. With carabiners and a light laptop or musette type bag, somebody with a hand problem or who is on crutches, canes, or a walker can gain a lot of their self-reliance back – around the house, out shopping, out in the yard.

My father’s hands also make it tough for him to dig around in his pants pockets. Instead, he can clip things to carabiners and his (sturdy) belt, and his change, phone, mints, and little pocket detritus, and things like nails and bolts, stay handy in wallets and pouches he can snag, open, and tip out into his palm.

Push Cart

Got somebody who needs a cane or crutches, or has a hard time telling if they actually have a good hold on something? No need for them to feel bad about watching groceries and animal feed get hauled, or others doing the work of rearranging when bookcases are involved. No more sitting out of decorating for holidays, or getting frustrated by dropping half a fistful of utensils while setting a table. Get them back into being the grill master – without somebody toting and fetching for them.

Get them a utility cart.

Ours handle 2” steps and ruts without a hitch, are light enough and sturdy enough to be tipped for 4” rises, and have indoor-outdoor wheels that can be hosed off. Also make sure that it’s narrow enough and short-bodied enough to take the corners in the house (and consider pool noodle “bumpers”).

Reach Extenders

There are all kinds of extended-grabbers for indoors and outside, and they get used at our houses. My mother (5’5” in heels) has been using grill tongs and coated kitchen tongs for dusting and reaching shelve and cabinets for pretty much my whole memory, and they work just fine – better in some cases.

The other unexpected hero for keeping my father from losing his mind? The pole extensions and all the crazy attachments for the Ryobi battery-powered weed eater. It’s a 3’ or 9’ mini chainsaw, a 7’ saws-all, a blower, and a roto-tiller. The trigger shape makes it easy to activate and release, and he can prop it or himself against various things to use it.

Thread Helper

Look up “automatic needle threader” and “thread guide”, and if you have a machine, “sewing machine thread helper”. There are some simple, flat metal types, too. They’ll help keep you in the sewing game, but they’re also handy for beading and stringing popcorn and dried berries. Neck-hanging or clamp-anywhere magnified mirrors are also super handy.

Sock Helper

When your hands are going or gone, or if there’s a back, shoulder, or arm injury, even the basics of getting dressed can be time consuming and difficult.

There are sock helpers, some of which are intended for compression stocking, but a good quality boot sock can stretch over them, too. It seemed to me like it would be as difficult to get socks over the frames as to pull them over toes, but apparently my father takes half the time to get socks on now/again.

He also used a shoe guide, even though he typically wears construction or hiking boots. Some styles won’t hold them well enough to shove duck feet past tight ankle gaps, but it turns out, others work just dandy.

Another contraption out there, which I own just for the convenience at my muddy-boots door, is a shoe remover aid. (Editors Note: Every cowboy/cowgirl has a “boot jack!”) It lets you “toe” off your shoes by the heels without getting your sock or hands wet, grassy or dirty.

Our Hands

I’ve lived a pretty lucky existence. I learned permaculture and aquaponics from a man in a wheelchair. I learned livestock keeping from a sheep farmer with one arm and a 70-year-old woman who can’t afford her dogs if she can’t keep up with what the goats, rabbits, ducks and chickens need from her property. I live one door down from two near-retiring people who are used to doing for themselves, around pain and injuries and tight budgets, and who thus find a way to toddle along, taking care of each other as they do. The way they handle their physical “adversities” has been absolutely invaluable to my preparedness.

All the gadgets in the world won’t ease the frustration of my father’s hands, his decreasing mobility, his increasing reliance on things. But those gadgets are already in my stock, for injuries as well as age- and time-driven ravages. Because they do help, hugely.

Whether you’re older and losing strength or dexterity, looking at parents and friends who are aging, or just trying to stock for a sick room and med bay, those gadgets can be a good investment. They’re not all that expensive, they don’t have a shelf life, and they’re pretty darn sturdy.

What they can bring to us in terms of self-reliance, efficiency, and time savings is pretty priceless.


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A Second Language is a Prepper Must

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Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Actually a third and fourth and fifth as basic sign language and Morse Code are just assumed to be in your basic preparedness skill set.

There is an old joke about a new Iranian spy who meets up with his controller in a Midwest restaurant and immediately launches into Farsi and the controller reaches across the table and slaps him across the face and yells “You are in America now! Blend in, speak Spanish!”

Americans have always had a well-earned reputation of being less than excellent at any language, even the British still claim we don’t even speak English. But English is taught world wide as the language of “business” and all those people learning know at least one other language as well. When I went to the University of California there was a minimum entrance requirement that you had to have had 2 years of a Foreign Language credit on your high school transcripts and ALL degrees, no matter the school within the University, required 2 years of a Foreign Language at the University, in order to graduate. Sad that this was dropped so many years ago, as the results  were easily predictable.

As an aside, if you watch films in a foreign language with English subtitles and understand the spoken language you would be amazed at how inaccurate the subtitle can be. This can be written off to dialect as, for example, Spanish spoken in Spain is different from Spanish spoke in Mexico is different from Spanish spoken in Cuba and on and on.

The richness of English, remember Professor Henry Higgan’s “…in it are captured all the greatest thoughts of man….” is something we are spoiled by, yet there is an efficiency in some languages, like Russian and Spanish, that is to envy. Russian dispensing with the endless “articles” and Spanish economizing by not having 25 different ways to say a simple thing like “danger”. Then there is Chinese with it’s endless dialects and words like “Ma” that have three very different meanings determined by the deflection of the speakers voice, a common thing in languages that were spoken long before they were written. Or Hawaiian, as Hawaii had no written language but adopted the “English” equivalents of the five vowels (Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu) and eight consonants (Hh, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Pp, Ww, ʻokina). Efficient. Throw in the cumbersome French which stubbornly insist on adopting as few new words as possible, the Scandinavian and African languages which defy logical definition and you have a world full of people, here in the “melting pot” of America, who can talk in front of you without you understanding a word.

Translate that to being in a SHTF situation and crossing the path of a few armed people with this advantage, who DO understand when you and yours speak English in front of them. There is a value in having the same ability among your family, those you will depend on most. The silence of basic sign language will be invaluable as long as you have eye-contact. I would propose you “adopt” your own variation, like baseball teams do, but with less touching of the genitalia and the elimination of the sign that says “ignore all these foolish gestures and just execute on the next one or the last one or the one I repeat twice in a row…” Unlike baseball you need efficiency.

This is not hard to do, though it can get way more complicated than one might think if you overthink it. Approach it like any business problem. Write down the basic set of signals that you need to have ready. For example:

  • fear (I fear these people) – should be your first reaction
  • food (they are after food/water/supplies) – probably always true
  • trigger (I see their fingers within their trigger guards)
  • size (how many do you count) – A number of ways to do this – subtract one from a basic show of fingers, if you see four, use three fingers – downside is it is obvious, but the upside is it is clear and sends a signal that you are taking inventory. You could also use a touch method – touch wrist for one or thigh for two, and touch up for each additional person. Yes, you may run out of “up” and again it will become clear you are giving signals – same down and up side. This is valid as any small disciplined force will have a few members melt into the background and take up sniper positions if they came across you and yours by accident, wouldn’t you? So if there were six and now there are five, or less, it is time for YOUR fingers to be in your trigger guard while you are taking cover.

You can see that the challenge is to keep it to as few as possible, and simple signs. There should be one other signal:

  • open fire – the world is your oyster as to what this should but it should have a one second delay, if you are afforded that, so you all do it at the same time and engage the closest target.

It Really Isn’t Too Late

The good news is that can learn, you can learn Spanish, for instance, even if you are not currently in school. No matter what your age or what you do, learning at least some words in a new language is something that is almost necessary in order to be prepared for the ever shrinking world, as well as any threats you may face daily or after the SHTF. I focused on Spanish as it is the worlds second most common language – though China, by sheer population size, could make a valid challenge to that claim. The point is a few simple words, in addition to the silent hand signals, will be of great value…especially if you chose a language less common than most with words simple to pronounce. Obscure as opposed to common is best, the Scandinavian and African languages may actually become of value, well a small subset anyway.

If you do decide to learn more the most important things that you can do is to practice your listening skills. Watch movies, videos, and listen to music in that language. Do not worry about understanding at first, just focus on learning the sound of the language. There are also full immersion courses where you spend a week or two in a Spanish country living with a family that will only speak Spanish. You can do this as well in France but I cringe at the thoughts of what they would feed me at meal times to “bring home” the true meaning of my American destruction of their language.

Cultural Understanding

Finally, a lesson learned from years of international travel is the benefits of learning a second language is you can’t possibly do it without learning the culture. For example, the respect and leeway given elders is inseparable from life for those in India who speak Hindi or Tamil, or again, the Spaniards who’s family structure is NOT to be violated. These help your understanding and your blending when your life may depend on it.

As preppers I suggest one start small and focused and expand based on need and comfort. And practice.






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