Book Review: Cooking With Home Storage

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Cooking With Home Storage is one of the first prepping books I bought, and one of the few books that I have bought more than once. The authors, Layton and Tate are masters of home food storage. I would recommend a prepper buying any book on this subject written by either of these smart ladies. They are the food storage equivalent to Jeff Copper in Firearms. Cooking With Home Storage has useful guides to long term food storage, great recipes, and other tips to make life a little easier, and more comfortable. You would be well served with having this book

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How to Build a Totally Self-Sustaining Home

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Is there anything more alluring than that self sustaining home. The home that has the solar power system, wind energy, green house, big garden, livestock and so much more. Its a dream many of us have and its a common path that most preppers follow. You know, in the beginning you find yourself in a …

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What kind of community member are you?

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What kind of community member are you?

Each one of us would like to think, we are the good neighbor. My question to you is, “do you really know your neighbors anymore?” Who lives next door, who lives across the street, do you know all these people?

I grew up in a small town, I kid you not, my family knew everybody on our street. If something happened to your house the neighbors were there. You started working on your car, people came over to offer assistance. We used to sit on the front porch and wave at the passing cars and talked with people that walked past.

Now days people don’t even know who lives next door to them. People don’t know who lives behind them, or across the street from them. Even people that live in apartment buildings don’t know many people that live on the same level! This is not how society should function.

Now I am not talking about liking everyone, that’s just not going to happen. But knowing our neighbors, being involved in your community, is what we should be striving for.

If the lady down the street goes to the hospital and somebody has to feed her cats, is there anybody to do it? Do you trust your neighbor enough to come in your house, and help you pick something up and move it if you can’t lift it by yourself?

We talk about self-reliance, but sometimes we can’t do everything for ourselves. We need an extra set of helping hands. Sometimes we need somebody to cheer for us, or give us some friendly advice. You never know, some person down the street might be able to teach you something, but you will never find out, if you don’t know who that person is.

In a community wide, self-reliance situation, you may not get much help, if you do not know whom the “community” are.

You should be ascertaining the assets of individuals in your area. You should be finding the strength and weaknesses in your community.

Yes “you”, should be knocking on the doors, handing out cookies, walking down the street and talking to neighbors. Get to be known as “that nice person in the neighborhood”. The one people can rely on for honesty and truth and a helping hand.
In the old days we said this person had “integrity”, this person was “okay”, and that this person was “good people”.

It may sound strange to some people. I know not everyone was raised like I was. When I come across a harvest of good vegetables, I will actually put them in bags and hang them on my neighbors doors. I can’t tell you how many friends this made. Every year I always have an oversupply of tomatoes, onions and peppers. Handing them out in my neighborhood, cracks the ice and opens quite a few doors, to make new friends.

So this year I have a challenge for you.
Go make friends in your neighborhood. It doesn’t cost anything to smile at people, and wave, and say hello. Now if you have the chance to hand out some goodies, like fresh baked bread or something home cooked, do it. Inviting neighbors over for a grill out, hot dogs are cheap. Go introduce yourself to the elderly people down the street, see if they can use a helping hand.

The more your community comes together, the better it makes your community.
The better your community is, the more self-reliant it will be.

Rich@AroundTheCabin.com
3/8/2018

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Book Review: The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook

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This is a good complement to a disaster medicine library.  When I bought The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook I thought it was a listing of medicinal plants. I was wrong. While there are some listings of specific plants and their uses, this book  deals with the mechanics of actually making medicine. This book has very specific techniques to show you how to make tonics, poultices, creams, salves, and other preparations. It also deals with harvesting, storage, and handling of medicinal plants. While not what I was expecting, I am glad I purchased this book, as it gives information on the techniques of

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A Smart Financial and Defensive Move – Protecting Your Family and Home When the Doorbell Rings!

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Protecting Your Family…

And Doorbell Rings!

 

You feel it and you know it, our world is becoming less safe.  In the preparedness community, we talk about situational awareness, OPSEC, carrying concealed, firearm training and more.  This isn’t a fear based article, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that I’m telling the truth.  We are living in curious times and some may even say dangerous times.

I believe part of this is due to the mainstream media’s willingness to focus on crime and sensational stories. They do that because they need the ratings.  Remember when the news would close out with a positive story?  I haven’t seen too many of those lately!

I also believe the increase in crime is due to our economic situation.  Although the stock market is going through the roof right now, the great financial numbers haven’t really hit main street. I left the grocery store yesterday with 4 small plastic bags that cost $75.00.  Remember when that would buy you a basketful of food!

But life goes on.  We still go to work and the kids still go to school and we hope to make the best life we can.  We use our brains.  We spend less than we make.  We prepare.  We protect. We are aware.  We try to teach our kids to do all the same.  Again, we try to make the best life we can.

A Safe Life

One of the things that I try to ensure for my family is a safe life.  Yes, you can’t always shield them from everything.  But wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to make their world the safest?

I recently took the plunge and purchased a RING Doorbell.  I had looked at them in the past and decided against it because I thought the video storage feature was too much.  But after a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that I was wrong.  When I found out that the video storage was only $30 a year, I bit the bullet and made the purchase.  I’m glad I did!

 

Ring Package

The RING doorbell is one of the easiest hi-tech home safety layer someone can install.  Anyone who can install an APP and follow the directions of a video can do it!  And the great thing is that it comes with everything you need to install it!  The only possible thing that you might need is a drill if you are installing it in brick.  But even then, they provide you with the drill bit.

The RING doorbell comes with all the hardware you need!

In a nutshell…

  1. Download the APP to your phone.  Install it and make an Account. You can download the APP without purchasing the RING and see videos from your neighborhood.
  2. Connect the APP to your Wifi.
  3. Open the RING package and click the orange button on the back of the RING doorbell.
  4. Walk through the connection process that takes a few minutes.
  5. If you have a doorbell, remove it.
  6. Use the level and mark the holes to screw in the base.
  7. Screw in the base and connect the doorbell wires to the base.
  8. Set the RING doorbell on the base
  9. Screw in the security screws at the bottom of the RING doorbell.

 

That’s it!  All along the process, there is a video (see it below) that walks you through the installation, step by step.  They have made this thing foolproof!

Another cool aspect of this is that every member of the family can have the APP installed on their phone.  And, you get a running activity record of who comes up to your front door along with video and sound.

Pairing the RING doorbell with my phone.

The level and base getting screwed in. Doorbell wires are still exposed.

Doorbell wires screwed in and ready for the RING doorbell to get placed on the base.

Screwing in the security screws into the base.

This was too easy!

This is the video that I watched (on my phone) to install the RING. The only thing I didn’t do was turn off my electrical breaker. I like to live on the edge! 🙂  Ok not really….

 

 

The Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell is under $140 on Amazon.  It has 4 STARS and almost 30,000 reviews!  That is right, 30,000 reviews!

I believe the investment in this hi-tech, easy to operate device is worth it.  Just watch some of the videos below.

 

 

Peace,
Todd

My video on the Ring Wireless Doorbell. Check out the article in the Profile Link.

A post shared by Prepper Website (@prepperwebsite) on Feb 18, 2018 at 5:13pm PST



Book Review: Home Workshop Explosives

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ECSC5ameA I like to joke (not really a joke, but more of gallows humor) that I am on several “lists” due to my eclectic and controversial book purchases.* However, as I used to tell my college kids (in intro to terrorism) if you don’t know the bad guy tactics then you can never hope to catch them. you will hear more about that when I get around to reviewing The Monkey Wrench Gang, The Mini-manual of the Urban Guerrilla, and Turner Diaries, The author claims to be a chemical engineer, but I cannot verify that due to his use of

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Book Review: Home Cheese Making

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Some of my first online videos dealt with me experimenting with home cheese making, and I get a lot of questions about making cheese. I am no expert in making cheese. Ricki Carroll, the author of this book, is an expert. She is a pioneer in home cheese making, when she started the only way to get cheesemaking cultures and other ingredients were to purchase items packaged for factories, and I doubt someone who wants to try their hand at making cheese would start out buying a 20 pound bag of culture, when each recipe only takes ounces…. Ricki saw

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Book Review: The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OqXijap-YU I discovered The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing at a local discount book store, and now that I own it, I would happily pay full price for a new copy if I should ever lose or destroy this copy. This is not a recipe book, although it does contain some recipes. This is a troubleshooting guide, as well as a reference packed full of charts and tables. If you want to know the chemistry behind your brewing, become consistent in the flavor of your finished product, or just start brewing, then I recommend The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing. I personally

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Practical Home Defense Plan

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Let me preference this by stating each state and local jurisdiction have different laws concerning self-defense.  Any article cannot give you a complete strategy.  You must research the laws of your particular jurisdiction before you create your practical home defense plan. I live in Tennessee, and my state’s laws allow the assumption that if someone […]

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What You Need To Know When You Buy A Home

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When you are thinking about buying a home there are some things you need to know before you get started. I used to own a mortgage company and I’m also a realtor so I have a few tips for you. Both of my licenses are inactive at the moment but I keep up to date on my continuing education classes. I can activate my licenses at any time. I owned a mortgage company for about 15 years and was actively selling and listing homes for over ten years.

Before you get started looking for a home, you need to get your affairs in order. I know that house you just saw around the corner is darling and you want it. Today. Well, you need to be prepared before you start looking for a home. Before you start looking online or cruising neighborhoods for the perfect home, you need a plan.

When You Buy A Home

  1. Save for a down payment/closing costs (or ask the seller to pay the closing costs-when the offer is submitted)
  2. Get pre-approved for a loan
  3. Find a real estate agent
  4. Start looking for a home
  5. Submit an offer on a home (make a copy of the earnest money check), your loan officer will need it
  6. Real estate agent will order inspection
  7. Loan officer will order appraisal  (required to determine value) and termite inspection if needed
  8. Close on your home

Home Loans Available

Here are few types of loans, your loan officer will explain the pros and cons to each. Your loan officer will get your VA Certificate of Eligibility if you qualify for a VA loan.

  1. FHA as of today requires a 3-1/2 percent down payment, this loan has PMI (private mortgage insurance)
  2. VA government insured loans requires zero down, this loan has a VA funding fee but no PMI
  3. Conventional loans are the most popular with 5, 10, 15 and 20% or more down payment (under 20% down will have PMI)
  4. ARMS-adjustable rate mortgages, this means the rate is adjustable, the rate will go up typically
  5. Rural Housing is 100% financing and has PMI
  6. Loans available can be 10, 15, 30 and 40-year loans

Good Credit for Home

This is when you need to be prepared to have good credit when you apply for a home loan. Your FICO credit score is critical because it will determine your interest rate. The credit scores you have access to are different than the ones we use as loan officers. We pull three credit bureaus, not just one like the credit bureaus we have access to check on the Internet.

Please do not apply for unsecured credit, car loans, furniture stores or have your credit pulled until you know the loan officer YOU really want to use. If you have applied for credit in the last 90 days the lender will wonder if you are out buying “stuff.” Right before you close on your loan they pull credit AGAIN and check to make sure your ratios are acceptable to the lender.

The lender will also call your employer to make sure you are still employed the day the loan is funded. In other words, don’t go shopping for that big TV, furniture, car, or get 10% off at the checkout counter at your local store if you open a credit card to save 20%. No, no, no. If you want a home you must be careful with credit inquiries. Please do not quit your job, yes I have seen this happen. One of my loan officers had a buyer quit his job a week before he was supposed to close on his mortgage loan. Of course, that loan didn’t close.

Please pay your rent on time, the loan officer will send out a rent verification letter to your landlord. You may not have any credit, but this is a great way to show you pay your rent on time, therefore you have great credit. If you have a car loan that is a better loan than unsecured debt. The reason being the loan is a “closed-ended” loan. It will eventually be paid off. If the car is within so many months of being paid off, the lender may not count the debt because it will go away.

If you are wondering about student loans, yes they will be counted depending how long they are deferred. Yes, loan rules will change so be aware. Your loan officer if she or he has the experience, they will know the changes.

Paperwork for Home Loan

Here are a few items you will need to take to your loan officer:

  1. Start gathering bank statements (three months-every page)
  2. IRA’s or 401K statements, stock statements (three months worth)
  3. Paystubs (30 days)
  4. W-2’s and 1099’s (2 years)
  5. Personal Tax Returns-every page (2 years)
  6. Business Tax Returns if applicable (2 years)
  7. Overtime is typically averaged for two years
  8. Self-employment income will be averaged over two years
  9. Driver Licenses
  10. Social Security Cards

Expectations of Your Home

Please remember a few things, never buy the biggest most expensive home in the neighborhood you are looking at because it may not appreciate enough to help you buy your next home. If the prices are $200,000.00 to $300,000.00 typically the next wave of buyers will be looking at the lower priced homes and you’ll have an easier time selling when the time comes.

I suggest you and your partner, if you are buying a home together, write down your expectations you want with your new home before you go looking. For instance, 2 bedrooms, 3 bedrooms, how many bathrooms, yard size, carport, garage size, the distance of the commute to work, to name a few things. Ask the realtor if the home has an HOA, this will really impact your budget and parking that trailer on the side of your home. An HOA, homeowners association, will have a monthly fee depending on the common areas, whether they mow your lawn, replace shrubs, etc. You may have to have the color of your front door, entryway lights, home color, garage color approved by the HOA if you plan to make any changes after you move in.

If your home is in a flood zone, that will add a monthly fee if you can even get flood insurance. If you can see a creek, river or culvert near the home, it may be in a flood zone. Be wary of vacant property adjoining the home you are looking at because that may become a commercial building, shopping strip mall or apartments looking directly into your backyard. I always pointed that out to my buyers because you don’t know what is zoned for that plot of land today, and it could change next year.

If you walk into a home with purple walls (my favorite color), remember you can paint the walls, paint is pretty cheap, so don’t get too discouraged with some features you may want to change. On the other hand, look at the floorplan, the size of the rooms, the moldings. the ceilings (for cracks-settling), the cabinets, etc. since some repairs could be more expensive. Things like the lights can be replaced later as desired. Ask when the furnace/AC was serviced, I usually did that as a realtor. I look at the windows, the window screens and the roof (not with a ladder) the inspector will do that.

Check the bathroom for caulking around the tubs and showers, has it been maintained? I’m a clean freak so I look for clean homes. If the home is immaculate then the house has probably been maintained properly. Remember, once you buy, you no longer have a landlord to replace the dishwasher, water heater, etc. As a realtor, I always checked the date on the water heater, hoping it showed the date it was installed.

Ask how old the furnace and the AC are, they may be the original ones when the home was built. Remember, an inspector will check some of this stuff, but it can still break down a month later. As a realtor, I always bought a home warranty for my buyers. Trust me it was used twice, once on Christmas Eve when the furnace went out and another buyer when the AC went out. Those were the most expensive ones that were replaced, whew, it saved my clients $4,000-$5,000 each.

Choosing a Realtor and Home Mortgage Loan Officer

Oh my gosh, these are the most important people you will use to help you find your dream home. I know you may have a cousin who has a best friend with a twin sister that does real estate every once in a while. STOP. I can hear you say, but I need to help her, I get it. But this is the biggest purchase you will make for your family. You need someone who knows the area, has extensive expertise and is looking out for you, not their pocketbook.

They may not know a commercial building is going in on that lot right behind the house you are looking to buy. An experienced realtor with integrity will be looking for a home’s flaws or positive features. When I owned my mortgage company before I took the classes to be a realtor, I knew the good realtors and the not so good ones. You want a realtor that is looking out for your best interest.

Typically a really good realtor knows the best loan officers. They may not be at a bank. They may be a mortgage broker like I was or a direct lender. Check references and ratings. Reputable title companies know the best realtors and loan officers. Trust me, if you have a moving van loaded, that loan better close on time.

Home Moving Expenses

Sometimes realtors provide moving trucks to help their buyers. You can hire a moving company, but it may be more be expensive than you planned on. Get a bid in writing if that is your only option, and check references. Just expect several hundred dollars to rent a truck if you are moving clear across town. Moving a few items in a personal truck is expensive and annoying to people helping you. You can buy used boxes with used paper for packing online or at moving companies. We bought and sold our boxes online before and after we moved once.

Here is a post I wrote on maintaining a home. Maintain Your House by Linda

Changing the Home Locks

Please have your home locks changed once you move into your home. I always gave my buyers a $300.00 gift card to a reputable locksmith so they could have new keys made or the locks replaced. It’s all about safety.

Please remember, buying a home is the biggest and most important purchase your family will make. Take your time and enjoy that home with your family. It’s all about the memories.

My favorite things:

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke Alarms

Copyright picture: AdobeStock_64479058 by Andy Dean

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7 Off-Grid (And Overlooked) Ways To Heat Your Home

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7 Off-Grid (And Overlooked) Ways To Heat Your Home

Image source: FireSpeaking.com

The most common methods in the United States for home heating are electricity, gas, oil and wood. However, when it comes to keeping your home warm in the winter, there are countless options available — especially for those who live off grid.

Corn Burning and Multi-Fuel Pellet/Corn stoves

If your parents or grandparents were alive during the Great Depression, chances are they burned corn during the winter to stay warm due to the much lower cost of it compared to coal. Today, true corn burning, and multi-fuel stoves, are making a comeback.

Shelled corn burns at roughly 8,000 BTUs which is similar to wood pellets, and depending on where you live, a bag of shelled corn for heating may actually cost you much less. If you live in an area where the cost of both is about the same, consider a multi-fuel stove that allows you to burn either one, giving you greater flexibility, particularly if there is an unexpected price hike.

Masonry Heaters

Masonry heaters are a very old design that are being re-imagined for today’s green homes. Built of brick, tile, soapstone, natural stone or a combination of those materials, a masonry heater consists of a firebox and channels or partitions used for heat-exchange.

Get Free Backup Electricity — That Works Even During Blackouts!

Because of the way the materials absorb the heat and release it, the heat itself only burns wood for a short time and then radiates it back into the home for up to 36 hours.

Wood-Burning Furnaces or Boilers

If you like the idea of a wood stove or fireplace but want the convenience of a complete home heating system, you many want to look into the ever-expanding market of wood-burning furnaces. Some are easier to retrofit on to an existing home then others, so be sure to do your research. Both indoor and outdoor units are available.

Rocket Stove Mass Heater

Rocket stove mass heaters were developed from the highly efficient wood burning rocket stoves, and masonry heaters. The idea behind it is that the wood fuel is burned at extremely high heat while a large thermal mass absorbs the heat from the exhaust gases. There are a variety of videos and tutorials online, and they can be built in just a few days.

Air-to-Water Radiant Heat

The concept of using hot water to heat your house isn’t new, but these two ideas may never have crossed your mind.  If you have a backup generator that uses liquid cooling to keep the engine cool during use, one idea would be to plumb the cooling system through a radiator inside your home and possibly have it selectable to only use an outside radiator during summer and the inside radiator during the cooler months.  A second idea could also be to use a small pump to circulate water through solar heating tubes outside and then plumb those water lines inside the home to the radiator.  This could work on those sunny days when the temperature is cold, but the sun will heat the water or fluid used to transport the heat inside.

Air-to-Air Radiant Heat

In a similar manner to the previous idea on radiant heat, a system could collect cooler air from outside and pass it through a solar heat collector that would heat the air before being piped into your home. Again, this would work on cold days that had sun that can heat the solar tubes before a pump pushes the air inside.

Solar Window Boxes

Depending on where you live, Solar Window Boxes may be more of a supplemental heating source than a whole house solution. The idea behind them is pretty simple; they are an airtight box made of translucent materials which allows for the sun to warm the air. In turn the warm air enters the home via ducting or other openings into the window of your home.

Solar Window Boxes can be constructed fairly cheaply, although there are also commercially made products available. Several good videos and tutorials are available online.

There are many ways to heat your home. The true limitation is just the depth of your imagination.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Defending Your Home Part 2!

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Defending Your Home Part 2! Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below! A famous line from a movie once quoted, “This is my house. I have to defend it.” Last week we all learned that we have behavior problems and that we need discipline. We discussed ideas for Light, Sound, Smell, Sanitation, and Appearance discipline. In … Continue reading Defending Your Home Part 2!

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Defending Your Home!

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Defending Your Home. Part 1. Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below! A famous line from a movie once quoted, “This is my house. I have to defend it.” Well folks, it’s time we circle the wagons and develop a battle plan for defending our home. We will learn how to play a disaster like … Continue reading Defending Your Home!

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4 Ways to Keep Your Home and Property Safe and Secure

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Home security is a huge topic in the media today and even among friends and neighbors. Burglaries and vandalism are real threats, and nobody wants to own the house on the block that is targeted. In fact, four burglaries are committed every minute in the United States. Thankfully, homeowners can beef up their security without spending wads of money and even without hiring professional services.

Sturdy Windows and Doors

Choose solid core wooden doors for outer doors, or pick steel or fiberglass options, which are difficult to break. Windows should have secure locks, and individuals living in crime-prone neighborhoods may want to invest in break-proof glass. Casement windows are often seen as the most secure options. Be sure to protect valuables inside from peering eyes by installing window blinds or shades, particularly on lower level and basement windows.

Smart Shrubs

While shrubs should not grow so tall around doors and windows that they help burglars hide, they can actually protect homes when trimmed to the correct height. Shrubs near doors and windows should grow no higher than three feet tall. A smart choice is a thorny bush beside a door or window, which will reward any unwelcome visitor with pain.

Security Cameras

Security cameras can easily be placed at key points around the property by oneself. The best places to install them would be by doors leading outside, including patio doors, as well as by the garage door and the sidewalk or driveway entrance to the street. Some companies, like Infrared Cameras Inc., know that these are the most strategic places to place cameras. Homeowners should invest in infrared cameras, which provide excellent night vision, as well as in a large hard drive to store hundreds of hours of footage.

Plenty of Lights

Well-lit pathways, porches and driveways deter burglars and vandals from staying on the property. Motion sensors can turn on lights when tripped and can help guests see their way to the doors. Even solar lights along pathways and around landscaping by the home can deter anyone from lurking on the property. While professional security services can be useful in some instances, most homeowners will benefit significantly from do-it-yourself tips and tricks that can be set up in a few hours or less. Many of these security devices can be seen from the outside of the house and may deter burglars or vandals from coming close to the doors or windows. Plus, they can add exponentially to the feeling of calm and security that families have as they relax behind their locked doors and windows.

About the Author: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber

Hardening Your Home Against Home Invasion

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Hardening Your Home Against Home Invasion As far as my understanding goes it seems that deterrents are one of the most powerful weapons in prepping and safety. I know there are people out there who have been beaten by life and they are hoping that someone breaks into their home one night so they can …

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Family Vacation & Still Prepping

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Family Vacation & Still Prepping Host: James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! I know we dedicate a lot of time and money to prepping and survival but I am a firm believer in balance. I think as important as it is to be prepared it’s just as important to hit the road … Continue reading Family Vacation & Still Prepping

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Fortifying Your Home

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featured_home_safety

2_house_safety_robberyIf a burglar, kidnapper, or home invasion robbing crew targeted your home, it would be good if your home were a hard target, like a castle for fortress of the ancient days, but the reasonableness of your security measures must take into account the likelihood and severity of the risks you might face. Let’s go over some ways to make your home more secure, focusing on hardware and structural changes, not skills or techniques to learn.

By Kurt Martin, a Contributing Author to SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Most people have already considered moderately-effective security improvements such as getting an alarm system, installing deadbolt locks on exterior doors, installing exterior lighting all around your home, trimming trees and shrubs around windows, and getting a dog.  Almost everybody reading this article will already own one or more “home defense” firearms.  These are all good steps, but so much more can be done.

For the purposes of this article, let us acknowledge that unless your home is built from the foundation up as a fortress, you cannot expect any security measures to stop a determined team of burglars who are willing to take some time and make noise to get inside. If they come when you are home, your security precautions can give you a warning, so that you can put your defensive plan into effect.   If you are not home, your alarm and other security measures could give cops or your neighbors time to respond.

First Objective: Know They’re Coming

In order to defend your home and/or quickly send other people to defend your home in your absence, the first thing you need to know is that an attack on your home is beginning. It would be desirable to see the arrival of the criminals on your property.  For this, you want windows or cameras looking out into your yard from every direction– the street, the sides, and the back yard.

3_high_window_securityWindows and cameras. Every side of your home should have windows from which you can see out. Upper floor windows make for safer viewing out and are less vulnerable to being entry points for intruders. Windows are also potential defensive positions for you and your family to try to drive off or repel the attackers. Virtually all security-sensitive businesses, government offices, and the homes of VIPs, have a camera surveillance system as part of the security plan. Today’s security cameras often come with infrared lights to workwith limited rangeeven in total darkness. We would all be safer if we had them for our homes. A peephole can be more useful than a window sometimes. All your exterior doors should have one-way peepholes in them, preferably with wide-angle lenses so you can see people standing to the side of the door.

Exterior lighting.  Motion detector activated lighting is important, as are floodlights that you can also turn on with a switch.  They should be positioned to shine away from your home, so that you can see out without getting any glare, and without the lights making you visible from the outside. If one side of your home has no windows, consider mounting a camera there.  Studies show that good lighting of your home and yard at night is one of the most cost-effective methods of home security to discourage burglars.

Perimeter motion detectors.  Another way of knowing when somebody is coming onto your property is to use a perimeter warning circuit in your home alarm system. Most home alarm systems will accommodate this kind of addition, but most homeowners do not upgrade to this level of protection.  Perimeter detection can be either of two popular types: wide area motion detectors or beam-break detectors.  Both kinds are available with two kinds of underlying technologies: passive infrared light, or microwave signals.  

Related: Handling an Active Shooter Situation

3_perimeter_safetyPerimeter warning units mount outdoors around your home and yard, on posts, tree trunks, or the side of your home.  Wide area motion detectors will alert to a human or large animal’s movement in your yard, within a cone-shaped zone. Beam-break type detectors come in sets of two units, and one projects a beam toward the other, and the line between the sending unit and receiving / reflecting unit is the “beam” that is being monitored. If anything crosses that line, its body will temporarily block the beam of infra-red light, and the alarm is triggered.  The more common models that you might buy at a big box home improvement store use IR light, and they have a range of about 50-75 feet. The commercial models used by businesses are more expensive, but reach out to over 300 feet.

Perimeter alarm systems work best in conjunction with physical barriers around your property, such as fences, and a gate across your driveway to slow the approach of unwelcome vehicles. These barriers serve to give you more of a warning, as the criminals approach will be slower and noiser.

Second Objective: Block Their Entry

If criminals attack your home, you want them to find all your doors and windows closed and locked. They may try to break through one of these points of entry, probably a back door, where they cannot be seen from the street or may not be visible to the neighbors. You want your doors to resist being pried-open or kicked-in.  Here is how you can make your exterior doors stronger:

2_castle_securityStrong exterior doors.  Not all doors are equal when it comes to construction. Some are thin molded plastic glued to a wooden frame. Others have steel sheet metal over a wooden frame.  Wood is weaker than fiberglass and undesirable in a high-security door.  Even solid wood doors, though strong across the middle, are weak where they are drilled-out for the lock components. Commercial fire-rated steel doors are stronger than ones made for residential applications, but they’re a lot more expensive. Choose a door that does not have windows in it, especially if that glass is located close enough to the lock mechanism that a criminal could smash the glass and reach through to the lock.

The weakest link of the door itself is where it has been hollowed-out for the lock sets– the door material here is pencil-thin and easy to rip away from the metal lock components.

High-security locks and door-mounting hardware.  A standard exterior door lock has a short bolt that only engages a tiny bit into a recess in the door frame. A deadbolt, mounted several inches above the standard doorknob, gives you a second bolt with a much longer range of motion; it will often reach over an inch into the door frame. Make sure the fit of the door to the door frame and strike plate is good, with a very small gap. Many locking doors have a lockset that is supposed to prevent easy opening with a stiff plastic like a driver’s license, but in the real world sloppy installation or the loosening of the door frame over cause misalignment that will allow anybody to “jimmy” the lock.

To address the inherent weakness in doors and door frames due to flimsy and thin wood components that surround the lock parts themselves, buy door security hardware that lets you screw steel reinforcing plates or “wrap-arounds” over the part of the door that has the lock mechanism. You can also reinforce your strike plate, which is the rectangular metal piece surrounding the hole in the door frame into which the bolt of the lock will enter.

In addition to bolting steel plates to your door around the lock mechanism, as reinforcements to the door itself, you should use bigger, longer screws in and around your door. Replace the short, skinny nails and screws that your door was installed with. Use deck screws, which come in lengths of over 3.5 inches.  

Augment your door’s locks with an external bar.  Remember, no matter how good your door’s locks are, the bolts can be cut with modern cordless power tools. Criminals have been known to use such battery-powered tools to cut chains and locks. Another way to prevent a door from being forced open is to use a locking bar that is propped against the door at a 45 degree angle. Some such bars require a slot or stud hole in your floor, but others use a rubber-coated end and friction to prop the bar in place.

1_burglar_barsReinforce your windows.  As for windows, the most obvious problem is that a criminal can break the glass, reach in, unlock the window sash, open the window, and climb in.  To make your windows stronger, consider putting up another layer of barrier in addition to the glass panes. Some people use rigid panes or sheets of clear plastic, and this is good if the type of plastic is polycarbonate, such as the brand Lexan. Do not use cheap acrylic plastic, it is not particularly strong nor shatter-resistant. There are also “security film” window treatments on the market. They are tough but flexible wraps of clear (or tinted) plastic that apply to glass doors and windows just as one would apply tint film to car windows. This security film will hold the window together even when the glass underneath is broken. It is tough enough and energy-absorbing enough that it can’t easily be ripped away to create a big opening for an intruder to climb through.

However, a window’s sashes or frame can be smashed-through, just like a door. That’s why some people in high crime areas fortify their windows (and sometimes doors) with burglar bars. These bars cover the entire window opening with a cage or screen. They are much less attractive than clear plastic. Although they look “ghetto,” they are high security.  One risk that comes from covering your windows with burglar bars is that it will often prevent the window from opening.  You should consider whether you might need to use that window for ventilation or for an emergency escape, such as in case of a fire. Some burglar bar sets have a quick-release system, accessible only from the inside of the home.

Third Objective: Have Hard Cover in Your Home

If intruders made it through your doors and windows and get into your home, while you and your family are there, one or more of you may want to fight off the intruders, while others escape, either by leaving the home or locking themselves in a safe room.

Safe room.  A safe room is a place inside your home for you to stay out of sight and out of reach of intruders, even if that means the intruders can steal anything they want from the rest of your home. It should be a room that is very hard to break-into, and one that is equipped for you to comfortably stay there for a long time. The door to the safe room should be an exterior grade door, or a fire-rated door suitable for commercial construction. It should have good locks and lock-reinforcing hardware installed as described previously in this article. The door should have a one-way, wide-angle peephole.

If you were building or remodeling your home, I would suggest making the walls of one of the smaller rooms in your home (a guest bedroom, big bathroom, or a large walk-in closet) extra strong for future use as a safe room. For this room, you may want to put steel mesh screen across the studs before you enclose them with sheetrock (drywall). A good type of screen for this purpose is “remesh” made for reinforcing poured concrete driveways. You may want to have the studs placed at 8” center to center instead of the normal 16” spacing, to make it impossible for an intruder to rip through the flimsy sheetrock and step into that room by passing his body in between the 2×4 studs. Or you could use sheets of plywood to cover those walls first, and then use drywall.  

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The safe room should also have weapons inside it to deal with the intruders should they manage to break into that room. You should also have an axe and pry bar in that room so that you can break OUT of it, if necessary, if for some reason that strong door was blocked or its lock jammed so that you could not open it.

KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-tactical-magpul-aimpoint-comp-ml3-fenix-pd35-troy-magpul-dissipator-stramlight-tlr-1Consider what is “cover” inside your home. If you had to grab a gun and fight intruders, would it be to your advantage to position yourself behind bullet-resistant cover? Of course it would. Every tactical shooting course and every instructor on the topic of combat arms shows you how to make use of cover while engaging your adversary. Inside your home, think of what you have, or could that would serve as cover. Keep in mind that cover is not the same as concealment. Concealment just hides you from sight. Doors are concealment. Even the interior walls of your home only “conceal” you from the bad guys, but interior walls will not stop incoming bullets. Cover is defined as something that effectively blocks or deflects bullets.  

With your knowledge of the layout of your home, you should anticipate the likely point of entry for intruders, and you should choose a few defensive positions in your home.  Don’t count on the corners of walls, or doorways, as reliable cover. All popular handgun and rifle bullets, as well as buckshot or slugs from a shotgun, will go right through interior walls easily, with lethal velocity as they emerge on the other side.  The only parts of an interior wall that can stop or significantly slow down handgun bullets are the wooden wall studs– and there is only one stud per 16 inches of wall length in most walls. If the bullet hits any of the other 15 inches along that section of wall, it encounters only a couple layers of drywall. Bullets go through drywall like a knife through butter.

A bookcase whose shelves are filled with books and other paperwork can stop bullets. A refrigerator full of food and beverages will stop handgun bullets and buckshot from a shotgun, and some small, high velocity rifle bullets. The same applies to ovens, washers, and dryers– consider them “cover” as to most common handguns, but not for rifle rounds. Furniture is no good as cover. Wooden chairs and tables don’t usually stop even pistol bullets, and upholstered furniture like sofas and reclining chairs are only “concealment” if you duck behind them, not cover. Your bedroom dresser, with the drawers full of clothes, makes better cover than the mattress and box spring of your bed.

Conclusion

In times of peace and relative safety, certain security measures are more “worth it” than others. It all depends on the risks you and your home face, and how much peace of mind you would attain from having a fortified home with a good security system. Because conditions in our society could change rapidly, it may not be unreasonable to beef up your home now, when you have easy access to all the hardware at the local shopping center. In times of trouble, the roads may be more hazardous for travel and the hardware and home supply stores could be closed or sold out of the products you need. It’s better to prepare now.

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Is Your Home SHTF Ready?

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Is Your Home SHTF Ready? Host: Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps “ Audio in player below! Is your home SHTF ready? We will find this out and perhaps give you a few ideas of what you could do or expect if you’re not “Home Ready”. With the growing threat of everyday random violence even the best … Continue reading Is Your Home SHTF Ready?

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Why are chimneys on the outside?

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Why are chimneys on the outside?

Why are chimneys on the outside?

Unless you live in a very tropical or year round warm area, you will need a way to keep your home warm. For many of us, that means having a wood burning stove or a fireplace. Have you ever noticed that chimneys are often built on the outside of the house? Ever wonder why?

There are very good reasons why chimneys are often built on the outside. It had a twofold purpose, one was safety. Originally chimneys weren’t lined with anything, just a stack of barely mortared rocks, you might even be able to look through the cracks and see the flames on the inside.

There was always a risk of fire, back in the early days there was not a fire department to come put out a fire, nor was there insurance to cover any loss, and losing your home, especially in winter could have been a matter of life and death assuming you survived the fire. People had to take care of themselves, if there was a chimney fire, if it was on the outside of the house, you could lasso the chimney and pull it down, allowing it to burn itself out in the safety of the yard instead of burning down your home.

The other issue is space, many of the cabins built back then were small but functional. They needed to keep as much room free in the main room as possible, you couldn’t have a fireplace taking up valuable room elsewhere in the house, so it was put on an outside wall. I understand that issue, our place when it was first built was a very small, 16×16 room, we made the front door a sliding door rather than one that would open into the room, that saved us some very valuable floor space.

Watch this video to learn more about chimneys and their location.

https://youtu.be/IrtcgXREz-Y

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5 Ways To Heat Your Home For Free

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5 Ways To Heat Your Home For Free Staying warm for free… I love these projects! With all things that involve flame, please remember to be responsible and do not leave these burning with no supervision. The last thing I would want is you to burn your house down. That being said, in a SHTF …

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Pellet Power: Fossil-Fuel-Free Heating

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Pellet Boiler, Wood, Heating, Renewable, Self Sustaining, Carbon neutral, cheaper,

Pellet boilers beat oil for price and efficiency

A clean, cheap and carbon neutral way to heat your home – sounds good. Its a reality for thousands of families and businesses in Europe and North America.

Pellet boilers are growing in popularity; with grants and incentives offered by various states and governments – often in the form of financial assistance towards equipment and installation, depending on location. Ecoheat Solutions, a pellet boiler provider, have put together a summary of incentives for US based consumers here.

Why a pellet boiler?

Pellet boilers function exactly like an oil or propane burner with fully automatic operation. The only difference being instead of oil, wood pellets are being used as the fuel. Pellets are a cleaner source of fuel, being completely carbon neutral. The reason for this is that for every tree burned as pellets, another tree is planted to take up the carbon released. Not only this but wood pellets are readily available in North America and Europe – a local renewable fuel source. This not only bolsters the local economy but pellets are also much less volatile than oil or propane. Pellets are also much cheaper than fossil fuels – try 60% cheaper. One pellet boiler owner cited a saving of upwards of $1,500 per year on fuel – you can watch the full video of their boiler experience here.

There are a couple of downsides to pellet boilers. Fuel tends to be a little bulkier to store than oil and the ash bin(s) from the boiler need to be emptied every month or so. However, due to this ash by-product containing natural minerals, it can be spread on lawns, gardens or back into the woods; acting as a mineral fertiliser. Some pellet boilers also have motors, just like a pellet stove, and so some noise can be heard. However if the boiler is housed in a boiler room or basement, the noise levels can be much reduced.

The upfront cost of a pellet boiler is also higher than an oil fuelled counterpart. Depending on the model chosen; average prices for a pellet boiler come in at around $15,000 compared to a more conservative $10,000-12,000 for a fossil fuel boiler. However, with the pellet fuel being much cheaper in comparison (and don’t forget those state grants), the long run savings will more than make up for the initial investment.

What’s the difference between a pellet boiler and a pellet stove?

These two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably because they use the same fuel, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. Pellet stoves are room appliances, meaning they heat the room they are in. Of course, depending on the size of the house, this could be an ample heat source (tiny houses I’m looking at you).  A pellet boiler however, replaces an oil boiler and is connected to a heating system and so is more suitable for larger houses and commercial properties.

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How To Make Soap With Fat and Ashes

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How To Make Soap With Fat and Ashes Sanitation is one of the most overlooked aspects of survival and people are more concerned about stockpiling large quantities of food and water. While gathering the essentials to survive an emergency situation is highly recommended we shouldn’t ignore the other necessary items that make survival tolerable. Maintaining …

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Taking your Home Back!

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Taking your Home Back! Host: James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! If you have lived through a terrifying survival situation the disaster itself could only be the beginning. This is especially true in urban areas. Are you prepared to be under siege by multiple attackers in your home? You may or may … Continue reading Taking your Home Back!

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5 Strange Ways Your Ancestors Saved Fuel During Winter

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5 Strange Ways Your Ancestors Saved Fuel During Winter

Our first home was built in 1907 and boasted drafty windows and a minimal amount of insulation. Before our first winter came to an end, we knew changes had to be made if we were to survive in any amount of comfort. Staying warm at the expense of draining our savings account was not an option. And although we have since moved on to a well-insulated home, we still employ many of the fuel-saving practices we learned many years ago.

Our ancestors knew how to conserve energy. Whether it was using nature’s colder temperatures for food storage or keeping the house warm without turning the thermostat up a single degree, they utilized ordinary objects to conserve fuel.

Below are some time-tested methods to put into practice this winter.

1. Window coverings

Windows are points of entry for cold air, and although new windows are certainly more effective, they still cool the room. Foam tapes, clear films and other products abound at big box home improvement centers, but these are unnecessary and may in fact cause damage to your home. Foam tapes are often difficult to remove completely, damaging the finish of the casement and sill.

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Clear films have been known to cause cracked window panes, particularly on south-facing windows. Years ago, homeowners used quilted window coverings to block drafts, raising the temperature of a room by several degrees. In addition to windows, glass patio doors also can be covered with an insulated curtain to reduce the amount of heat lost.

2. Straw bales

Using straw bales around the foundation of your home may not increase its’ curb appeal, but it will help to keep your fuel costs down by adding an extra layer of protection against cold winter winds. Place bales where they can absorb the greatest impact from winter’s worst weather. The bales also may help to prevent heat loss. Straw bales may later be used as livestock bedding, mulched for compost or used elsewhere on the homestead, provided it is dry, and mold- and mildew-free.

3. Humidifiers

We are not talking about the commercial humidifiers that release moisture in the air, but rather, the strategic use of space on an indoor burner. Cast iron kettles filled with water will release moisture in the air when safely situated on a fuel-burning stove. Even if you do not have an indoor wood burner or corn burner, you can utilize other appliances as humidifiers.

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For example, once you’re finished using your kitchen oven, place a dish of water in it while leaving the door ajar. As the oven cools down, it will heat the water enough to release moisture into the air. Indoor air that has the proper level of humidity feels warmer.

4. Cover bare floors

Bare floors keep a room from retaining heat and contribute to an overall chilly feeling. Using area rugs to cover wood or tiled floors will not only keep your feet warmer, but also will raise the ambient temperature by a few degrees. Rugs can, of course, be purchased, but old quilts, toweling, and scraps tied into rag rugs work just as well.

5. Door rolls

From a unique design that matches your interior to the thrift store quilt, a roll of material stopping drafts from entering your home is essential to any fuel-saving plan. Scrap material can be fashioned into a tube that can be filled with numerous things to block cold winter air. Fill the tube with densely packed material. Rice or sand are both common options, but materials such as recycled quilt batting or scraps of denim are also very effective.

Do you know of other time-tested ways to keep the house warm? Share your tips in the section below: 

Turn Oil Tankers or Grain Trucks to SHTF Homes

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Turn Oil Tankers or Grain Trucks to SHTF Homes There are many marvelous ideas for turning old buildings into new habitable structures, but unless the existing units are modular the plans can rarely apply to multiple similar structures over time. A creative variant on the now-classic cargo container home concept, this rather brilliant design idea …

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How To Insulate Your Home With All-Natural, Off-Grid Materials

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How To Insulate Your Home With All-Natural, Off-Grid Materials

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When choosing insulating materials for your home or building, the options are more numerous than they first appear.

A visit to the hardware store will yield only a few options: foam board, fiberglass rolls, and perhaps spray foam. These materials, although widely available, contain many synthetic chemicals that you may not want to have in your home or around your family.

If you’re attempting to construct your building with all-natural materials, these conventional options may seem disheartening. But don’t lose hope! There are several eco-friendly, chemical-free alternatives for insulating your home that will be effective and safe for both you and your family.

The first option we’ll explore is sheep’s wool. Sheep live in some of the harshest and coldest climates in the world. They thrive there because they have a thick coat of wool that has natural properties to retain heat, even when damp. You’ll often find native sheep living high in the mountains, where it is extremely wet and cold, and yet they’re perfectly content.

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How To Insulate Your Home With All-Natural, Off-Grid Materials

Image source: Pixabay.com

For the same reasons that sheep’s wool does a great job protecting sheep from weather conditions, a roll of wool insulation will do wonders to insulate your home. When wool fibers are compressed down into a roll of insulation, the crimped nature of the fibers creates millions of tiny air pockets, which provides great insulation, keeping warmth in the winter and out in the summer. In addition, wool has a tremendous amount of breathability, as it absorbs and releases moisture in the air. When wool absorbs moisture, it actually generates heat, preventing condensation in cavities by keeping the temperature above the dew point. This property creates a natural buffering effect, using relative humidity to stabilize the building temperature.

Old denim and cotton clothes also can be a great alternative to conventional insulation. Many cotton insulation rolls made today are constructed from recycled blue jeans and other textiles. Some companies even will let you donate your own old denim. Although cotton insulation made from recycled textiles is about twice as expensive as fiberglass insulation, it is incredibly safe to handle, has a longer useful life than fiberglass, and has superior soundproofing qualities. For some homeowners, the knowledge that they aren’t putting potentially harmful chemicals in the walls of their living space is worth the extra cost.

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If you are constructing your home from scratch, using straw bales to construct the walls is a great insulation option. Straw bale homes typically have an R-Value (a measure of materials’ resistance to heat flow; the higher the number, the higher the insulation value) of more than 10. This is comparable to the insulation value of fiberglass. This, in addition to the huge cost savings compared to traditional insulation materials like fiberglass, makes straw bale walls an excellent option when building natural structures.

Straw bale walls can be finished with a wide variety of materials to make them look and feel exactly like a normal home wall. Most people who visit your home will have no idea that the straw bales are there! Straw bales also provide great sound insulation for walls and are very fire resistant when packed tightly and covered with an appropriate skin.

Don’t be fooled by the lack of variety when you visit the insulation aisle of your local hardware store. There are great alternatives – if you just know where to look.

Aryn Young lives in Homer, Alaska, running a small farm and sustainable land clearing operation. 

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The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal Collapse

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The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal Collapse

Rising out of the high desert landscape of New Mexico are dozens of futuristic-looking homes that are part of an ongoing experiment in off-the-grid living.

Some of the 70-plus home are almost buried in the earth, and some rise a story or two above it. Some are tiny one-room dwellings, and others are designed to shelter and to feed a family of four. All of these so-called “earthships” require no electrical grid, no water lines and no sewer systems.

The Greater World Earthship Community, the brainchild of architect Mike Reynolds, includes nearly 700 acres of rural property. The closest town is Taos, a small artsy and ski community that has a population of less than 6,000.

Reynolds began his experimental community of self-sufficient homes in the 1970s. However, it hit some bumps with permits and regulations before the county government designated the community as an “illegal subdivision” in 1997. Government officials eventually changed their position.

Today, the community is thriving again and even includes a school for training students who want to learn how to build self-sufficient housing. The county also gave the organization two acres for designing and building homes that do not meet its building code requirements.

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It is at that experimental section of “The Earthship Project” that video producer/reporter Kirsten Dirksen begins her interview with Tom Duke, an earthship builder and a long-time resident of the earthship community.

Duke, a former professional volleyball player from Los Angeles, and his wife moved to New Mexico about 18 years ago. Intrigued by the idea of an earthship home, they purchased some land and built and lived in a tiny earthship – a pod, as Duke calls it – for five years while they built their dream home nearby.

Today, that pod is their storage shed, and the Dukes and their two young sons live in a custom two-bedroom self-sufficient home. Like all earthships, it follows the following four principles:

  • Harvests water.
  • Uses and reuses sewage.
  • Uses thermal mass for heating and cooling.
  • Uses recycled and natural materials.
  • Uses solar and wind power
  • Produces food

With rainfall in the high New Mexico desert averaging only about eight inches a year, efficient use of water is a major part of an earthship home.

Reynolds designs the homes to collect and use water four times. Water that is first used for washing or drinking goes to plants in an indoor greenhouse that then filters the greywater and sends it back to the toilet. Then the blackwater is sent outside to four feet below ground where it feeds the roots of plants and trees.

“You don’t smell it. You don’t see it,” says Duke of the blackwater as he gestures to the thriving plants and trees surrounding his desert home. “But you are able to have this beautiful landscaping.”

With both the indoor and outdoor water systems in place, earthship residents only need to water plants to get them established. After that, they are sustained by the home’s water system.

In addition to recycling the water, the plants provide a natural heating and cooling system for the homes and produce food, as well. For example, the master bedroom in Duke’s home boasts a diverse garden, including tomato plants, mint and rosemary. His living room has a tall fig tree.

The newer homes can maintain a consistent year-round temperature of 71 degrees with their use of thermal mass and ventilation.

Duke is already teaching his young sons how to build a home “from trash,” and he points out the mounds of glass bottles, tires and aluminum cans that earthship builders use in home construction.

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Glass bottles are cut and fit together for “bricks.” Cans provide the framework for cement walls and stairs. Tires are used for many purposes, including as seats in an outdoor amphitheater for students, as planters for trees and as structural support.

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Duke estimates that earthship homes cost $225 per square foot to build, with the price decreasing the more work you are able to do yourself. He says he pays only $300 each year in utilities — $100 per year for propane and $200 a year for a supplementary water delivery.

“We really cherish water here,” he says. “What I have found is that living on eight inches (of rainwater a year) is hard, but I think every American could live off 12 inches of rain.”

The Secluded, Self-Sustaining Neighborhood That’s Prepped For Societal CollapseDuke also shows Dirksen an earthship “nest” designed as a simple and inexpensive dwelling for the developing world, and a large custom home designed to feed and shelter a family of four. With more square footage allotted for growing food than for living space, this intriguing home features trees and plants growing in nearly every available spot, a chicken pen outside and a tilapia pond in the greenhouse.

“We are a highly experimental green building operation here,” says Duke. “We are always pushing the envelope, always getting better.”

He is particularly proud of The Earthship Army, the teaching part of the Earthship Project. “We are sending out an army of knowledgeable students who can take this (information) out to the rest of the world.”

He adds that people sometimes ask if the earthship community is a cult. “If it is, it is a tire-pounding, beer-drinking cult, and that’s about it,” he says with a laugh.

Duke, who admits he did not know much about building or living self-sufficiently when he moved to New Mexico and learned “from the ground up,” offers that it is empowering to be able to build your own home.

“I feel I can go anywhere in the world and build a house out of trash – people’s tires and bottles and cans.”

Would you want to live in such an earthship home? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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16 Ways To Keep Warm And Reduce Your Bills In Winter

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16 Ways To Keep Warm And Reduce Your Bills In Winter This winter is turning out to be a cold one. Just 4 states are without snow this year, so far. Thats crazy! If money is tight and you want to save some by not using your heat as much, this article is for you. …

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These Mistakes Can Ruin Home Security: Protect your family by avoiding these pitfalls

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pitfalls

Editor’s Note: As Prepper’s, we are usually looking for some big SHTF event coming in and disrupting our way of life.  However, it is more likely that your life would be disrupted by a more localized event, like a power outage, flood or some other natural disaster.  But there are other events that happen that we don’t always consider as having the ability to cause problems until they happen.  For example, having your house broken into, having a family member slip and hurt themselves or just plain not feeling safe in your house can cause problems for you and your family.  These events, with a little preparedness, can be minimized.  This guest post makes some good points and will provide some food for thought.

When it comes to planning your home layout, home security can be easy to overlook. The placement of furniture and lighting can improve or detract from the security of your home. It is possible to design a layout that not only makes the most out of available living space, but also keeps the family safe. Here are some tips to an effective and safe home layout:

Clutter Can Kill

In times of crisis, clutter can prove to be problematic. Consider the maneuverability you will need during a natural disaster, or when an intruder enters your home; if you feel you would be uncomfortable navigating around your home under these circumstances, it is time to reevaluate your setup.

Consider the flow of foot traffic, and position furnishings so they don’t create sharp turns. Forcing guests to perform acrobatics to navigate around the room can lead to slips and injuries. Furthermore, it can be a liability in cases of emergency. If a piece of furniture blocks the exit during an emergency, it can cost someone their life. Clutter can also make it difficult to clean, leading to worsening allergy and breathing problems.

Streamline the room as much as possible. Consider what the space needs are, and make a list of spaces that are needed. Estimate the square footage for each area. Then, organize the home so that these spaces are connected in a logical manner.

Not only do cluttered rooms look messy, but they can be dangerous to the elderly and disabled. Paths of travel should be a constant consideration. Avoid creating an obstacle course with furniture.

Avoid Blind Spots

Don’t create blind spots, and keep windows within view of seating areas. It is not necessary to place the couch against the wall, but seating should give a full view of foot traffic and all entrances. Not being able to see action happening in the room makes people instinctively uncomfortable. Family members might also be interested in knowing if someone is lurking out the window. Obviously, valuables should not be in clear view from any window.

Lighting is one of the more important design aspects for safety. There needs to be enough lighting to ensure that guests can transverse room-to-room at any time of the day without risk of personal injury or property damage. Stairs especially need a proper amount of lighting, as they cause an accident if too dark.

Creative planners can use light defensively. For example, an outdoor motion sensor connected to an indoor light is a clever way of dissuading criminals from entering a home. Finally, if security cameras are in use, areas under surveillance must have an ample amount of lighting.

Eliminate Hiding Places Outdoors

When planning the outdoor layout for security, there are some important rules to follow. Lighting plays an important role in security outdoors. Criminals are less likely to enter a home if it is adequately lit.

Prevent creating potential hiding places near lower-level doors and windows. Decluttering the home indoors has clear advantages, but one should also keep things uncluttered outside as well. Overgrown bushes and shrubs can offer convenient places for potential criminals to hide in waiting without being seen. Patio furniture can also create this same problem.

There are other measures one can take outdoors to improve the security of the home. Tree branches that are close to second-story windows can be undesirable access points, so be sure to keep trees maintained. While they are not necessary in most neighborhoods, homeowners may choose to invest in alarms, security cameras, or even bolster security with smart tech. With proper planning, it is possible to design a home layout that minimizes the risk of injury and bolsters security without sacrificing an appealing design

Every possible precaution should be made to protect our homes. Making the right decisions in home layout can contribute to the safety of our loved ones.

About the Author: Cody Hill is passionate about security and technology. His hobbies include traveling and sports. If he isn’t busy blogging about the latest gadget, you will usually find him shouting at his TV during an NFL game. 
Peace,
Todd

Securing Your Home – Necessary Steps to Take Before the Economy Completely Tanks!

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Securing Your Home – Necessary Steps to Take Before the Economy Completely Tanks! As the economy becomes more unstable and the “REAL” unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket, people are going to become more desperate.  Survival mode will begin to kick-in and those without, will do whatever they need to do to put food on the table, …

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22 DIY Projects That Will Increase the Value of Your Home

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22 DIY Projects That Will Increase the Value of Your Home If you own your own home you will know that the slightest improvement could dramatically impact the value of the property. Sometimes for the worse so be sure you are adding value, not taking it away with your DIY. I found a pretty cool …

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Book: The Backyard Orchardist

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See larger image The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers. Appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar, a trouble-shooting guide for

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The Off-Grid Home That’s Fire-Retardant, Inexpensive & 75% More Energy Efficient

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The Off-Grid Home That’s Fire-Retardant, Inexpensive & Super-Energy Efficient

A straw bale home in New Mexico. Image source: PajaConstruction.com

 

Are you in the market for a new home and considering starting from scratch with all-new construction? If so, then you are most likely considering ways to make your home as energy efficient as possible while still maintaining a strong aesthetic appeal.

One of the best ways to do this is with a straw bale home – a design that is growing in popularity among homesteaders and those who prefer an off-grid and rural life.

Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

1. Superior energy efficiency.

Straw bales are an extremely dense material that act as a tremendous insulator. In general, most walls constructed using straw bales have an R-value of around 26, which is almost twice what most local codes require. This high level of insulation capability means that homes constructed using straw bales as the basis for their walls can save you up to 75 percent on heating and cooling.

2. Fire retardant.

Straw bales are an extremely dense material when packaged correctly, making oxygen – the fuel for a fire – touch to reach. A home which utilizes straw bales in its construction stands a far better chance when faced by fire than a traditional stick-built home. The density of the bales themselves makes these walls difficult to burn, as only the outside of the bales will char while the center remains intact.

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3. Inexpensive.

If you can find a local farmer from whom you can source bales, then the cost per bale should be minimal. As it is a secondary product found on most farms across the lower 48 states, chances are that there is a ready supply, close at hand.

Discover More Than 1,000 Off-Grid-Living Tricks!

If you are able to source your bales locally, then you also have the added benefit of supporting the local economy as opposed to one of the large corporate chains.

4. Easy to use.

With a little research, many people find that straw bale construction is relatively easy. The general practice, depending on your intended purpose, is to stack the bales atop one another and secure each in place by means of rebar or other materials. The wall is still framed in the traditional manner, although the studs are spaced out at different intervals.

Cons

1. Uncommon building material.

Straw bale construction, although an ancient practice, is still relatively new to many people today. That being said, many contractors have little to no experience in working with straw bales and may therefore be hesitant to undertake any project requiring their use. Straw bale walls also will require a strong plaster exterior in order to ensure their durability. Plaster work is less and less common these days, and may likewise deter contractors who are unfamiliar with how to work with this material.

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2. Weight.

Straw bales can be extremely heavy – especially when having to move them over a considerable distance. If your idea is to use a construction material that is both environmentally friendly and affordable, but you cannot find them locally, then you may incur substantial costs by having to source them from distant regions.

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This weight can make shipping straw bales not only an inconvenience, but a financial concern, as well. Another concern regarding the weight of straw bales is that they can become difficult to stack as walls become taller. Specialized machinery may be needed.

3. Water issues.

While straw bales are a wonderful fire retardant, they are highly susceptible to the ravages of water. When a straw bale becomes wet, it can quickly develop mold which can then further damage a home. Straw bales are also a less-than-desirable option for areas of high moisture and humidity. It takes special sealants to ensure that the walls contain the correct amount of ventilation as well as remaining impermeable to water. Although any home can become severely damaged by water, the issue is more problematic with straw bales.

4. Permits.

Due to the unfamiliarity of using straw bales in construction, some town officials may be hesitant to issue permits or to pass inspections due to this material. Some local codes do not take into account the use of straw bales as an effective building option, making securing the needed documentation all the more difficult for contractors and homeowners.

Considering all of this information, straw bales may or may not be the ideal material for you to use in your new construction. If your building plans align with the positive aspects for using straw bales in your construction, then consider them as a strong contender for their unique capabilities. However, if you have concerns and are unsure of a supply, you may want to continue to seek out either locally qualified professionals or find an alternative material to use.

What advice would you add about straw bale home? Share it in the section below:  

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

The $70,000 Solar-Heated ‘Earthship’ Home That’s Completely Off Grid

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Off-Grid Life In a $4,500 Converted School Bus

Imagine living in an off-grid home and not ever receiving a utility bill – no electric bill, no water bill, no sewer bill. Even better, you don’t have to stockpile firewood, because your home is heated by the sun.

Sound impossible? It’s not. It is called an earthship home, and on this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we take a look at these unique houses that are revolutionizing what it means to live off-grid. Our guest is Craig Cook, who lives in an earthship home with his wife Connie in Canada – where temperatures in the winter often hover around 0 degree Fahrenheit.

Incredibly, their home cost only $70,000.

Craig tells us:

  • How his house stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, without a stove or AC.
  • What is different between an earthship home and a typical homestead house.
  • How he and his wife have all the water they need – without a well or utility hook-up.
  • Why his home incorporates hundreds of used tires … that he got for free.

Craig also shares with us the pros and cons of an earthship home for those considering making the transition. If you’re a homesteader, off-gridder or simply someone who enjoys fascinating people, then don’t miss this week’s show!

Basic Fraud – AUSTRALIA – THE CONCEALED COLONY.

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As per the saying “The Truth Will Set Us Free”!

Please feel free to investigate and do your own due diligence of our website – especially the documented evidence.

We have verified information concerning:

* How all the Prime Ministers and all the Politicians appointed within Australia since 1919 have been invalid and their positions illegal and that most of these politicians have known this fact, but hidden the truth from the nation.

* Why every Australian Federal & State Politician, Judge, Magistrate, Defence Force Personnel, Federal & State Police Officer, Sheriff, Local Mayor have all been committing Treason against the Australian people.

* Why the appointments of the past Governors-General since 1919 have been invalid.

* Why Queen Elizabeth II has NO legal authority or power over the government’s of Australia, Canada or New Zealand (and in reality, very little over Her own government).

* Why most of the Australian politicians and judges have continued for decades to defraud the people of Australia.

* How the Australian Taxation Office has no legal authority to collect taxes.

* Who really owns the Reserve Bank of Australia?

* Why the Australian Banking system is ripping off the Australian people and deliberately profiteering from their financial misery.

* Why politicians in countries like Australia, love complicated Tax Systems.

* What is a Debits Tax, what it would mean to the average person and why the Government avoids discussing it?

As we will be continually updating our information, we recommend that you constantly refer back to our website.

The Farm In Photos – Gardens, Flowers, And A Home Begins

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June is flying by, and it is hard to believe that July is just a few weeks away! For the last month, the farm has been a whirlwind of activity.  We dubbed this the “year of chaos”, knowing that the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Preparedness Principles

There are five principles that can generate a preparedness mindset:

Thriftiness and frugality

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

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

For more ideas:

Strive for independence

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

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

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

Become industrious

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

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

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

Strive for self-reliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Great Depression survival

self reliance culture

The Best Way To Store Guns From Kids – While Keeping Them Ready To Access

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The Best Way To Store Guns From Kids – While Keeping Them Ready To Access

Image source: AlienGearHolsters.com

For many of us, owning a gun is all about being able to defend ourselves and protect our loved ones if needed.

But how do you follow the conventional rules of gun safety – keeping your firearm unloaded and secured until ready to use – and still have the weapon ready for self-defense?

If you have children, roommates or you frequently entertain and have guests over, you don’t want to leave your handgun loaded and laying on your nightstand. By the same token, it will be of little benefit if left unloaded in a safe in the garage or basement when a home invader kicks in your door at midnight.

We all too often read about children getting their hands on a firearm and catastrophic events follow. The child shoots a friend, a family member, or even himself. Sadly, these too often result in a death.

Do You Know The Best Way To Hide Your Guns?

There are various child locks and wall or closet safes that can safely contain a handgun and keep it out of the wrong hands while still being accessible when needed.

Biometric safes have evolved by leaps and bounds and can be activated only by the user’s fingerprints. This gives quicker access than the various keyed and combination locks common to most safes and lock boxes. Best of all, the technology behind these is no longer prohibitively expensive.

The best recommendation, however, is to keep your defensive handgun in a comfortable holster and wear it at all times or as often as you can.

That way it is always completely under your control while remaining easily accessible.

The Best Way To Store Guns From Kids – While Keeping Them Ready To Access

Image source: Pixabay.com

Most children who pick up a firearm and have an accident do so because they think the firearm is a toy or they do not grasp the reality of the outcome of a gunshot.

To help teach children about gun safety, the National Rifle Association has a program called “Eddie Eagle.” The program is designed to teach children how to act if they come across a firearm.

It is a simple mantra, not unlike the one most children are taught to protect themselves from burning in a fire: Stop, drop and roll.

This is designed for preschoolers through fourth graders and, in my opinion, should be mandatory for all children. Even if they don’t have a firearm in their home, other family and friends may have firearms in theirs. Here’s what the NRA teaches children to do if they find a gun:

  1. Stop: The first step is the most critical. A mental note to stop gives the child a cue to pause and remember the rest of the safety instructions.
  2. Don’t touch: Firearms are not sentient and capable of acting on their own. If a firearm is left undisturbed it will not be fired and thus poses no risk.
  3. Leave the area: This takes the child away from the potential source of danger. Your child may not pick up the firearm, but another child might.
  4. Tell an adult: Children are taught to find a trustworthy and responsible adult such as a neighbor, relative or teacher if a parent or guardian is not available.

These four simple steps are only the first layer in a network of safety to prevent a child from having an accident with your firearm.

What advice would you add? How do you keep your children safe? Share your tips in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns. Read More Here.

15 Bee Sting Home Remedies & Tips

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15 Bee Sting Home Remedies & Tips 15 bee sting home remedies for the spring and summer season. These remedies work well. Getting stung by a bee is no fun and the pain can last for a few hours, here are a bunch of home remedies for pain relief as well as some interesting tips …

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43 Super-Frugal Tips for Cutting Down on Household Expenses

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cutting down household expensesHome is where the heart is, but for too many of us, it’s also where the debt is and where paychecks go to die. It’s also one area in which small savings steps can really add up and where everyday spending decisions can make a big difference. Here are a few tips that have helped my family get out of debt and stay out for the past 8 years. You can save money on household expenses starting today.

  1. Buy used furniture, but make sure it’s great quality. You’ll have a much better chance of finding high quality furniture at resale and consignment stores. Once you get used to older, well-made furniture, you’ll be shocked by the low quality stuff found at new furniture stores, and the prices will leave you gasping for breath!
  2. Find out when the best discount days are at Goodwill and thrift stores and shop on those days. Ask about discounts for veterans and senior citizens, too. You’ll soon find your own set of favorite thrift stores — those with good prices and excellent quality, gently used clothing and other goods. I also recommend seeking out specialty thrift stores. When you’re in need of baby furniture and kids clothes, a kids-only resale shop will make your shopping easier since you won’t be wading through every other type of merchandise out there.
  3. Before calling a repairman to fix an appliance or a car, look for YouTube videos and do it yourself. Repairclinic.com is a site that sells thousands of parts for such things as lawn mowers, power tools, appliances, and much more. Between the easy ability to get the necessary parts and training videos online, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repair bills every year.
  4. Your insurance agent won’t thank me for this, but each year, try to get better prices on all your insurance policies. In fact, mark “Insurance Review” on your calendar. Review coverage, deductibles, and ask about discounts you might qualify for. Compare companies, and don’t limit your shopping around to only the Big Names in the insurance business, such as State Farm and Allstate.
  5. Do the same thing with all your other bills: internet/phone packages, cell phone packages, electricity, etc. Be sure to compare not only prices, but features and benefits.
  6. Kids grow quickly, so organize a toy and kid clothing swaps with other moms. This is a true win-win scenario: moms get to socialize, kids get new stuff, and everyone is saving money!
  7. Depending on where you live, this might be tough, but if you can postpone using the air conditioning or heater for as long as possible, you could save a good amount of money in a very short time. Growing up in Phoenix, I know a few tricks about staying cool in hot weather (read my tips here) and staying warm on a cold day requires layers of warm clothing and, perhaps, shutting off rooms that aren’t being used.
  8. Use a space heater and keep the central heat turned down to utilize heat in a way that continues to save money. There’s no need to warm up an entire house when you typically spend most of your daylight hours in just 2 or 3 rooms. Those are the rooms to keep warm.
  9. Consider extreme changes to your lifestyle, such as moving to a much cheaper neighborhood, city, or state. Other extreme steps: selling an expensive house and renting for a while, living with relatives for a while, or in an apartment with utilities included in the rent. Very often, these moves help a family rebound financially, save money, and prepare for moving on with their lives.
  10. Use a magicJack in place of a landline phone and continue to use your landline phone number. You’ll need to buy the magicJack device itself and pay a year’s service fee. Combined, this is under $60, and you can do away with any other landline phone service. Before jumping into the no-landline trend, though, you should know that a power outage will disable all types of plug-in phones, including cordless.
  11. Use plastic grocery bags as liners for small size trash cans. These bags can also be placed over ripening fruit and vegetables to keep the birds away, used as a type of “glove” for picking up dog poop, or as packing material. They’re also handy as a daily compost collector. Just remember to empty the contents each day in your outdoor compost pile!
  12. Stay home more. Every time you go out there are temptations to spend money, but this doesn’t have to mean life becomes unbearably boring. Here’s a list of more than 100 things to do that are free and fun.
  13. Be a one-car family. It will take some getting used to and juggling of schedules sometimes but the savings in insurance, vehicle wear and tear, gas, repairs, etc. will add up. However, before you sell that extra vehicle, park it for a week or two to get an idea of what life will be like once it’s gone forever. How will its loss impact doctor and dentist appointments, school and sports activities, etc.? It’s better to find out now, while you still have that second car!
  14. Begin using cloth diapers, if you have a baby in the family. New styles are easy to use and most moms who make the switch from disposables say they’ll never go back. If you have an adult family member who may need incontinence pads, use baby diapers for their super-absorbency.
  15. Become familiar with what your dollar stores usually stock and when you need those items, go there rather than other retail stores where you’ll pay full price.
  16. Start drying your clothes on a clothesline and wash them cold water.
  17. Unplug electric items when not in use. One homeowner told me that he saved a few hundred dollars per year doing this.
  18. Weatherstrip doors and windows. For just the low cost of some new weatherstripping, you can keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If you’re not sure if a particular window or exterior door needs new weatherstripping, hold a lit candle near its edges. If you see the flame flicker, air is coming through the cracks around the door or window.
  19. Buy next year’s clothing at end of the year clearance sales. This is particularly helpful with higher priced items like winter coats and cold-weather boots.
  20. Gradually replace lightbulbs with LEDs. My electrician husband swears by LED bulbs.
  21. Run the dishwasher right after dinner and set a timer for when the washing cycle has ended and the drying begins. When the timer goes off, open the dishwasher door and let the dishes dry overnight.
  22. Go for long hairstyles and get a trim twice a year. Some stylists claim that a long hairstyle is more youthful!
  23. While your kids are young, learn how to cut their hair. If you mess up a bit, hey, they won’t even notice, and by the time they’re old enough to care, your skills will be advanced!
  24. Cut back or eliminate expensive activities for kids. Find cheaper or free alternatives – classes at Home Depot, REI, Cabela’s, Minecraft classes online, the library, and so much more. Remember what your own childhood was like, with far fewer extracurricular activities, lessons, and busy schedules? There’s a good chance that your imagination thrived and you turned out okay. So will your kids.
  25. Gas prices go up and down, but try to get in the habit of walking or riding a bike on nearby errands. Carpool when you can. Not only will this save on gas but also on the wear and tear of your vehicle. Add the health benefits of walking or bicycling, and it’s a winning combination.
  26. Stay away from stores that tempt you most. They have such an enormous variety of products that you’re bound to find something you absolutely need — or do you??
  27. If you need money in a hurry, go through one or two rooms of your house, garage, and/or attic, and look for items you no longer need, want, can’t wear, etc and sell them on a local Facebook page, Craigslist, etc. This is quicker than a garage sale, with no need to set up or price items.
  28. Grow a garden. Even an herb garden is a huge, frugal help if you regularly buy fresh herbs for recipes. Watch your expenses, though, because store-bought mulch, fertilizer, seeds, supplies to build boxes, etc. add up quickly.
  29. Begin your own compost pile out in the backyard. It’s a great way to enrich your soil, with no expense at all.
  30. Knit dish cloths from inexpensive cotton yarn. You can make several from just one large ball of yarn. These make great gifts as well, and it’s a great way for kids to learn this useful skill.
  31. Don’t know how to knit? Learn this skill and hundreds of others on YouTube! Free training and, in many cases, even the supplies are extremely cheap.
  32. Ditch napkins and paper towels Use small washcloths for napkins instead. You’ll be using these for years, versus continually buying the paper products.
  33. Make inexpensive homemade cleaning solutions from vinegar, baking soda, small amounts of liquid soap, and so on. For years, I used just vinegar and water to clean my stained concrete floors. You can’t beat that for being frugal!
  34. Cut up old t-shirts for cleaning cloths and save old, worn-out towels for really messy jobs, such as cleaning up after pet accidents or wiping up anything that might stain one of your nicer towels. I keep a large stack of these towels in a cabinet in my laundry room, handy for all the uh-ohs that occur on a regular basis.
  35. During cold weather, wear layers around the house, socks, and turn the heat down.
  36. Collect blankets and use them to cover windows, doorways, and add triple and quadruple layers of warmth to beds! I always keep blankets handy in our living and family rooms.
  37. Never buy new vehicles. Ever. Let someone else drive that brand new car or truck out of the dealer’s showroom and enjoy the quick depreciation in value! You can lurk in the background, waiting for them to grow tired of their shiny new toy, either sell it or trade it in, and then you can leap into action, grabbing that vehicle at a huge discount.
  38. Maintain your vehicles with regular oil changes, keep the tires inflated, and take care of minor issues before they become budget-destroying expenses. This becomes especially important when you want to sell your used vehicle.
  39. Don’t postpone visits to the dentist and taking care of small cavities. Dental problems can become very expensive if ignored.
  40. Do your workouts at home, not a gym. Sooner or later, you’ll grow tired of the trips to the gym but will probably forget to cancel your membership. This will result in paying for something you aren’t using.
  41. If you have pets, find the best priced pet insurance. It may make the difference between saying goodbye too soon to a beloved pet and being able to afford expensive medical treatment.
  42. Ask doctors for samples of pharmaceutical medicines. Many are willing to do this — no problem at all. Not only will it help you to know if you’ll have any negative reactions to the medication before buying it, you’ll also save money. Years ago when we didn’t have health insurance, my husband’s doctor gave him a supply of one prescription for over a year.
  43. Do your own yard work and housecleaning, or pay the kids to do it. Be sure to thoroughly teach them how you want the job to be done. This is vital to developing their work ethic, attention to detail, and ability to follow directions. If you don’t believe in paying kids to do household chores (above and beyond their typical duties), then don’t!

Here are even more resources to help you save money!

cutting down household expenses

DIY Scalable Solar Power System – On a Budget

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DIY Scalable Solar Power System – On a Budget Get a DIY scalable solar power system on a budget…. I recently discovered a website that has lots of great info, I have spent a few days now looking at articles and hand picking awesome tutorials and great info we all, including for my own use. …

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All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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Although they are small, mice can cause big problems when they enter your home. They can carry and spread disease and, since they breed quickly, they can do damage to your home and your belongings if left unchecked.

No one wants to think a mouse infestation is in the home, but if you are seeing any of these signs, you may have a rodent problem:

  • Unexplained tears, holes or shredding in clothing, fabric, insulation or other materials.
  • Small holes in desk drawers, kitchen cabinets and other furniture.
  • Mouse droppings; these are black, granular in shape and are three to six mm in length.
  • Strange rustling and scratching noises in the walls, especially at night.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mouse poisons account for thousands of calls to poison control centers each year, and research shows that remnants of these highly toxic substances can linger around your home for years, posing a danger to your family members, your pets as well as plants and wildlife.

Diatomaceous Earth: Get Rid Of Bugs The All-Natural Way!

You have probably seen cartoons throughout your life of mousetraps wedged with bits of cheese, but you may be looking for other ways of removing these pests from your home and then keeping them out.

As is the case with many pests, including insects, ridding your home of mice can be a bit of trial and error. However, here are some effective – and natural – ways to get rid of them.

Peppermint oil is a natural product that is safe for both humans and animals, but mice hate the smell. Simply place a few drops of 100 percent pure peppermint oil on some cotton balls and then leave the cotton balls in areas where you have seen evidence of mice.

All-Natural, Poison-Free Ways To Rid Your Home Of Mice

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Other options for deterring mice with mint are to place mint plants or mint leaves around your home or even to smear mint toothpaste along baseboards or cabinet corners where mice have been. Another idea is to brew some strong peppermint tea and place it in a spray bottle. You can then spray the tea in areas where mice have entered your home.

The smell of mint will lose its effectiveness in a day or two, so be sure to replace the oil, mint or toothpaste several times a week for best results.

Bay leaves also have a strong odor that mice dislike. Try scattering some bay leaves in your pantry, kitchen cabinets and on shelves where mice have been active.

Mice also detest the smell of cloves. As you did with the peppermint oil, you can put several drops of clove essential oil on cotton balls and place the cotton in areas mice have gathered. Another option is to place whole cloves in a cotton mesh bag and set or hang the bags in trouble spots.

It may sound a little unusual, but mice do not like aluminum foil. They cannot chew through it easily, and they do not like the sound it makes when they walk on it. Therefore, you can place aluminum foil in areas mice have entered, or cover areas they have walked with sheets of aluminum foil.

Similarly, scented dryer sheets are a good mouse deterrent. You also can use them to seal cracks and crevices where mice may have entered or place them in areas where you suspect mice congregate at night.

Another safe way to deter mice is with baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda in trouble areas. You can sweep or wipe it up in the morning and reapply in the evening for best effectiveness.

Now that you have gotten rid of the mice that have taken up residence in your home, let’s look at ways to keep them out.

Beet Powder: The Ancient Secret To Renewed Energy And Stamina

The bad news is that mice can enter your home through gaps, cracks and openings in your home that are as small as a dime. Your first line of defense is to find and seal these openings. Be sure to examine areas where utility wires (such as for cable TV or the phone) enter your home. Also, look at areas around exhaust fans and dryer vents as well as the edges around windows and doors.

You can stuff steel wool into larger gaps before sealing them with caulk. Mice have difficulty chewing through steel wool, so it serves as a deterrent.

Mice are nocturnal and are constantly foraging for food and for bedding materials. Here are some tips for making the interior of your home less attractive to mice:

  • Store food –including cereals, rice and flour — in airtight containers.
  • Wipe down counters and sweep floors of crumbs at least once a day.
  • Pick up pet food bowls after feeding.
  • Keep sink and counters free of dirty dishes.
  • Empty kitchen trash at night.
  • Keep outdoor trash cans away from home entrances.
  • Remove and recycle old newspapers and magazines.

Finally, one of the best ways to keep mice away from your home is by adopting a cat. Cats are natural predators of mice.

Additionally, mice have strong aversion to the odor of cat urine and stay away from a home when they detect the smell. In fact, even if your cat is lazy at hunting mice, placing tubs of used kitty litter around the perimeter of your home can do the trick of keeping mice away.

What all-natural tips would you add for keeping mice away from your home? Share your advice in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

Critical Items Needed for Survival Shelters And Home

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Critical Items Needed for Survival Shelters And Home We often miss or over look critical items needed when prepping. Get a great head start today! There are so many lists going around right now on the internet and over Facebook I think I should make a statement. Lists are always down to you, your needs, …

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Off-Grid Life In An Underground House

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Living underground may sound like the realm of Hobbits and Hollywood movies, but for many off-gridders, it is day-to-day reality.

These homesteaders and off-gridders have chosen to ignore the conventional path and instead live in earth-sheltered or earth-berm homes, which are covered in dirt, with only one side of the home typically exposed to the elements.

On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we talk to Helen Ettlin, a resident of Missouri who lives in an earth-sheltered home and who tells us all of the benefits and drawbacks of a life “underground.”

Helen shares with us:

  • How an earth-sheltered home saves her family money, not only on energy costs but also on home insurance.
  • Why an earth-sheltered home may be the perfect residence for families who often face threats from tornadoes and other major storms.
  • How her home’s unique construction provides enough indoor sunlight, despite being surrounded by dirt.
  • Why earth-sheltered homes may be the perfect residence for off-gridders who want a house that is not so easily found.

Helen closes the show by telling us why her family chose to live in an earth-berm home, and what advice she would give people who are looking for such a house. Don’t miss this amazing episode that will give you a glimpse of a self-sufficient life underground!

Best Home Fortification Secrets That Criminals Worry About

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Home Fortification - Glass On Top Of A Wall - Home Defense

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Few human initiatives are as ancient and respectable as home fortification.

We separated ourselves from the animal kingdom by the strength of our wits, and our knack for self-defense. So in order to defend our family from others, we need to become home fortification experts.

Especially if the world we know collapses and desperate people want to take what’s ours.

Now good home fortification doesn’t require a full castle moat and a mangled barbed wire fence ringing your lawn. Creating a secure home can be done by adding up a lot of simple tactics. It all depends on how far you want to take it.

So first you must ask yourself:

  • Do you want a secure house that looks as normal as possible?
  • Or are you trying to remodel the structure you live in to resemble a bunker with maximum defense capabilities?

The bottom line is this: The more difficult your home is to penetrate the more likely a criminal will choose an easier target.

That’s the ultimate goal. Make it an absolute pain-in-the-ass for the enemy, and he’ll move on to easier targets. (a.k.a your neighbors).

So with that said, I’m going to share my very best tips to help you put your own personal home fortification plan in place.

Free Bonus: Is Your Neighbor More Prepared Than You? Download This Free Report To Find Out Now.

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Security Cameras 2

Security Cameras Are Excellent Deterrents – Even If They Don’t Actually Work

Start With the Obvious – Security Cameras

A simple Google search will provide a large variety of home security and surveillance options. Systems you can purchase and have installed directly into your home.

Usually, these security services allow you to “arm” your home when you are not there or after you have gone to sleep. Once the system is armed, any windows breaking or doors being forced open will trigger an alarm that notifies local authorities.

They basically call 911 for you when someone breaks in. However, this constant monitoring is not cheap.

DIY surveillance systems are cheaper and can be set up with relative ease. However, you can’t personally watch them 24/7.

So you have to decide which home fortification option is right for you…

The good new is a potential intruder doesn’t know if that security camera is tied to a monitoring system or not. They just see cameras and will likely just move on to an easier target.

However, if you’re not willing to take that gamble and have the dollars to spend here are a few home security and surveillance systems you could look into:

There are a whole lot of security systems to consider so we recommend you do your homework. However, Frontpoint is our home security system of choice because 1) Easy DIY setup 2) Its a portable system that can move with you 3) they have a 30-day money back guarantee.

So they are worth checking out if you want a full system with 24/7 monitoring capabilities.

But honestly, this is just one security measure you can take to fortify your home. So if money is tight then worry about the following options first. 

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motion sensor lights under roof line

Add A Good Set Of Motion Sensor Lights At Every Corner Of Your Home

Simple Ideas That Can Compound Your Home Fortification Efforts

Home defense does not have to be complex booby traps and unaffordable technology, to work effectively. How about some simple solutions? Like these:

Motion triggered lights – These handy motion sensing illuminators are available at Amazon. They are a cheap, simple way of detecting when intruders are intruding. Fair warning, though: you will doubtlessly catch some unsuspecting wildlife by surprise from time-to-time.

Bells or Chimes – Hang a bell on your door, or some chimes just inside your door. Your mind will become accustomed to the jingling sound of your doors opening and closing. If you are asleep, and wake in the middle of the night to jingling and jangling … you know something unusual is afoot.

Dogs – Whether you like them or not, these furry German Sheppardcompanions serve as one of the most effective home protection. Big dogs are better, for obvious reasons, but even little dogs can serve as an alarm, or perhaps even a deterrent.

Other Pets – While a dog can be a good option, sometimes more exotic pets can offer an extra level of intimidation. If someone breaks into a house and comes face-to-face with a Bengal tiger living it, there is no way they are going to follow through with their villainous intentions.

But proceed at your own caution. Wild animals don’t always understand the difference between “good guys” and “bad guys”.

Fences – The age-old technology of the fence is one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. They simply keep people out of places you do not want them to be. Install one if you are concerned with home security. Just be smart about it, they can create a false sense of security and even make you a target.

It’s just one tool you can use to make it harder for someone to snoop on your property. Most home fences can be easily scaled.

Free Bonus: Is Your Neighbor More Prepared Than You? Download This Free Report To Find Out Now.
Hedges Around House Make Good Home Fortification

Thick Trees and Hedges Help Block Potential Criminals From Seeing In

Natural View Blocking Solutions

Big flamboyant houses with exuberant features and huge fences make for excellent targets.

It shouts, “We have lots of expensive stuff. So expensive we put up a huge fence.”

Not all fences are bad but most fences are mere child’s play for an experienced criminal or a desperate mob. But are ways to help conceal your house and naturally protect your privacy and provide security.

Mother nature has got you covered. Criminals won’t be able to scope your property out and develop a solid game plan if they can’t see in your windows from the street.

Trees and Shrubs – If you are lucky enough to live in a house with a lawn or acreage, make use of it. Planting a lot of trees and shrubs around your home is not just good for property values; it is also effective at concealing your privacy.

They can also help block windows and driveways, front doors, patios, or backyards from view.

And the fewer prying eyes to roam your home, the better.

Shrubs can be planted strategically to funnel invaders into defined areas that are easy to keep watch of. There are also many thorny bushes like blackberry and raspberry vines that can act as physical barriers against threats.

Which brings us to the next thorny category:

Cacti – These are nature’s barbed wire fences. In the days of Spanish colonization of the Americas, Spaniards would plant Mesquite around the perimeters of their homes.

This gangly, wild looking cactus would grow to well over 8 feet tall. It can serve as a perfect means of protection against unwelcome intruders.

Don’t underestimate a well-placed thorn bush or Cacti beneath your first-floor windows. I don’t care how motivated you are to break in, nobody wants to get stuck with a bunch of thorns trying.

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full length window blinds

Don’t Allow Anyone To Peer In Your Windows When You’re Not At Home and At Night

Blend In – Don’t Stick Out

Eye-catching, expensive looking houses are more likely to become targets. So do your best to keep your home flying under the radar.

You do not have to paint the house in a camouflage green to achieve this (actually that would stick out worse in most neighborhoods). Just avoid bright colors and stick to more natural hues. Park your vehicles in garages, around back or hide them under tarps.

Also, use window blinds or curtains to keep outsiders from seeing valuables or expensive items you might have.

Train Your Family

No sane individual would knowingly break into a house full of highly trained, sharp-shooting badasses?

Not only does a well-trained clan deter potential intruders, it ensures that every member of your family is capable of self-defense. This alone will grant you some semblance of peace of mind. But before you ship your relatives off to an army boot camp, do everything you can to prepare them with simpler means first.

Take Your Family Shooting – It can be BB guns, .22’s, .357’s or AK-47’s or even a survival bow. As long as you get your loved one’s to understand how guns work, how to use them, and how to stay safe with them you’ve done your job.

Shooting is a great skill everyone should learn. It is useful for hunting and imperative for effective self-defense.

Martial Arts – Enrolling in a martial arts school is one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for a home invasion.

I’d rather have a firearm than not, but I won’t be a sitting duck if I end up unarmed.

Picking a specific style can be difficult. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Mui Thai and Jiu Jitsu are all decent options to get started.

Melee Weapons – A simple kitchen knife, baseball bat or golf club can become an effective self-defense weapon. But only if it’s in the hands of someone who knows how to use it effectively.

Bottom line: Your entire family should be both physically and mentally prepared to keep intruders at bay.

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Dead Bolt Locks 2

Don’t Go Cheap On Front Or Back Door Locks

Fortify Your Home Focus On The High Risk and Weak Points First

It might seem intuitive to you, but you’d be surprised how many people are shocked when burglar’s gain access to their homes. Normally it’s through an unlocked window or a fragile sliding glass door!

Let’s break it down statistically and take a look. Here are the top seven common points of access criminals use to invade homes:

  • 34% – Through the front door
  • 23% – Through the first-floor windows
  • 22% – Through a back door
  •   9% – Through the garage
  •   6% – Though unlocked storage areas
  •   4% – Through basement or window
  •   2% – Through second-floor window

Obviously, the most important places to fortify are the front and back doors. Next, is all the first-floor windows.

But don’t stop there, you should reinforce all possible points of entry for maximum security.

Reinforcing Front/Back Doors – Install some big solid doors, preferably built for reinforcement. You can buy these at hardware stores like Home Depot, and they are worth the investment.

Regular hollow core wooden or glass doors do not hold up well against a determined intruder. While you are working on your doors, it is always a good idea to install some quality locks. Add a deadbolt or two if you don’t have one already.

Class 2, one-inch deadbolts are recommended (at a minimum).

Ordinary doorframes are not the most durable security mechanisms, either.

By installing some three-inch screws can improve stability and durability by a factor of ten. This will help make it much harder to break through.

You might also want to buy a few of these devices for “extraordinary” times such as a SHTF event. Buddybar Door Jammer

Securing Windows – Large glass-covered holes in your wall make for intuitive targets. Windows are easy access points and one of the first places an intruder will attempt.

Planting cacti or thorny bushes beneath windows can make it harder for home invaders to get through.

You can also add “stoppers” to make access even harder. These are just pins, nails, or screws that fasten the window down permanently. Anyone trying to gain access through a stoppered-window will waste time and make noise doing so.

Burglar bars and security film can also make it nearly impossible to gain access through a window. Burglar bars are bars that are fixed over the window so that, even if someone breaks the window, they still cannot gain access.

Security film is a thin layer of plastic that can be laid over the glass to keep it from shattering completely. Much like car windshields, this clever mechanism makes sure an intruder would have to break the entire window to enter. This is a loud and time-consuming effort most criminals prefer to avoid.

Securing Your Walls – Usually, walls do not present a problem … unless the hulk is trying to break into your home (in which case: GOOD LUCK). But if someone decides to start shooting at the exterior of your home, drywall, and wooden studs are not going to save you.

Brick or stone walls are the best for mitigating this threat. But leave yourself “loopholes”. These are small openings from which you can see and shoot, without being seen or shot at.

Block Up Those Chimneys – Who knows, right? Maybe someone is so intent on breaking into your home they decide to take the ash-tunnel route.

If you are in extreme danger and need to fortify to the greatest extent possible, then block up your chimney. You don’t want any bad Santa’s coming down the pipes.

Tactitcal Walls

You’ll Want To Have Significant Fire Power At The Helm At All Times

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Make sure that you are well armed and equipped to manage a home invasion situation. Planting trees, painting the house and getting a German Shepard is great, but it is not always enough on its own.

You need to outfit your home fortification with as much firepower and ammunition as is necessary.

If you are serious about home defense (and you should be), set some booby-traps on your property. Simple things like trip wires with bells attached can be enough to alert you to intruders. But please, do not set up any lethal traps inside of your house.

First off, the are highly illegal. People have died at their own hands because they set off a booby trap they themselves set. Be careful when you set traps, if you are not vigilant you might just catch yourself.

Free Bonus: Is Your Neighbor More Prepared Than You? Download This Free Report To Find Out Now.

Warning SignA Final Warning

Here is the rub: if someone is 100% determined to enter your home and rob you (or cause bodily harm) they probably can.

That is unless you have a well defended, best-prepared bulletproof home it can be broken into if a large enough group coordinates an attack. So you have 2 choices.

  1. Work towards making your home bulletproof.
  2. Have a backup plan if you’re not willing to get it up to bulletproof standards. Specify a “bug-out-location” with your family or roommates so that you have a place to regroup should your defenses fall.

Which leads to the next dark truth. You may not be able to stay in your house forever if you’re not prepared enough. This is especially true if you find yourself in high population density area during an End Of The World As We Know It scenario

Areas with higher populations are more susceptible to violent riots and high levels of crime. So if you live in a big city or around a lot of people it is certainly in your best interest to develop a backup plan.

Evacuation doesn’t have to be a bad thing, change can be overcome, if you plan for it.

With luck, you’ll never have to defend your home from anyone or anything. That’s the hope.

But if things go south and you need to defend your home, you can make sure that you are prepared to the highest degree.

– Will Brendza

The post Best Home Fortification Secrets That Criminals Worry About appeared first on Skilled Survival.

How To Protect Your Home And Family If You Live In An Area With Extreme Weather

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Winter weather has many challenges for homeowners. This is especially true for those who live in areas of the country where there is extreme cold weather. They face freezing rain, power outages, blizzards and ice storms. Taking measures to ensure that you have the resources to deal with winter’s challenges before it gets into full swing is very important. Basic necessities to protect your family include stocking up on warm blankets, extra supplies of food and water and a transistor radio with fresh batteries in the event of a power failure. There are also five important precautions to take to protect your home from the ravages of cold weather that will result in saving you time and money.

Outside Winterizing

Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and debris so that ice does not form in them. Caulk and weather strip doors and windows to keep heat from escaping your home. Make sure that the siding and shutters are secure in the event of a storm. Spray an ice repellent or use sand or rock salt on the walkway and steps before the storm. This will help reduce tripping hazards.

Inside Winterizing

Check that pipes in unheated areas of your home are wrapped in insulation to prevent them from bursting or freezing. Be sure to have a supply of flashlights, matches and a portable generator in case of a power outage. Equally important is to be sure that there are working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, as well a fire extinguisher. Do a pre-winter maintenance of your furnace and water heater and have your chimney swept and cleaned. Be sure to include a fresh supply of firewood.

Trim Tree Branches

Check that overgrown or dead tree branches are trimmed or removed to prevent them from breaking and damaging your home. Do not underestimate the extra weight of snow and ice.

Replace Old Windows

Don’t wait until the weather gets cold to replace old and drafty windows. Consider replacing them with double pane energy efficiency windows. Fas Windows and Doors offers high quality windows that are hurricane resistant. Find windows that can protect against outside intruders and hold up in storms. Depending on the size of your home and the number of windows, replacing them will be a well worth investment for many years to come.

Water Heater Insulation

Similar to insulating your walls, cover your hot water tank during the brutal winter months with an insulation blanket. This is an inexpensive way to save money each month by improving your homes energy efficiency.

Early prevention is the key to keeping your home in good repair and being well-prepared for the challenges of the winter season. These tips can help make sure that your home and family are protected when a big storm hits.

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She enjoys writing about home, family, business and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys spending time with her family and reading a good book when she isn’t writing.

How To Heat Your Home Using Only The Sun

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How To Heat Your Home Using Only The SunPassive solar is a building design approach that incorporates certain materials into the roof, walls and floors that collect solar energy to heat a home in the winter, cool it in the summer, and heat water year-round. It’s called passive because it requires no electric devices or mechanical devices to operate and performs various functions.

This is not about collecting solar energy through dedicated solar panels to generate electricity. It’s about temperature management. In its simplest form it involves the use of windows with a southern exposure that simply allow the sunlight to enter the home in winter, and are shaded with blinds or window shades in the summer. Many people take advantage of that sunlight by installing special, thermal tiles in their floors to absorb the heat during the day, and release it slowly during the night. There are also wall panels that perform the same function. Certain types of floor tiles and wall boards collect the heat.

You have to be able to shade windows in summer. Otherwise, you can get something referred to as passive/aggressive solar heating. The result is a house that is too hot during the day, especially in summer. You want that “Goldilocks” factor, where the temperature is just right. Shades and shading can help you manage variable heat and sunlight conditions.

Hot Water Heating With Solar

A rooftop set-up for hot water heating involves a series of tubes encased in a black box on the roof and covered with a sheet of glass or plastic. The sunlight enters the black box through the glass and heats the interior to allow the enclosed water to heat.

 

Often, there is a tank above the arrangement that allows the hot water to rise into the tank, and the water is drawn by gravity down into the house. The temperature varies depending on the amount of sunlight and the ambient temperature outside, but the water can range from hot to warm with no effort, other than pumping cold water up into the tank.

Southern Exposure Is Necessary

The key to successful use of passive solar is the orientation of the home, its windows and the rooftop solar water heater. An unobstructed, southern exposure is ideal for heating, in addition to generous windows both in size and number.

New Solar Oven Is So Fast It’s Been Dubbed “Mother Nature’s Microwave”

It’s not just about staying hot in the winter, but also about staying cool in the summer. There’s one simple solution: trees. Trees have leaves in the summer to shade a home, and they lose their leaves in the winter if you live in a temperate zone. The result is that sun passes through the bare branches of trees in winter, and is blocked by the leaves of summer.

There are also ceramics that absorb cooler temperatures at night and continue to cool during the day. It’s the old thermos joke: “How do it know?” Many solar tiles have this characteristic.

 

 

There are some simple and remarkable DIY projects and even new technologies that allow you to cook a variety of meals with solar power. The critical success factor is bright, direct sunlight focused directly into the solar oven. Once again, these are passive solar approaches that require nothing more than direct sunlight to effectively function.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Any passive solar heating set-up assumes that you are going to collect and release heat. What’s essential is to contain the heat in a properly insulated structure. It’ s easy to get complacent, especially if you have a high-efficiency wood-burning stove blasting out the heat. But passive solar is different. The heat that is collected and stored will vary depending on cloud cover and time of year. Unfortunately, winter months have the shortest duration of sunlight when we need it most.

As a result, high-efficiency insulation is critical. This is especially true around door frames, windows and electrical outlets facing the outside. The idea is to trap and collect heat, and insulation will give you a better chance to do that.

Related:

How To Convert Your Home To Passive Solar

Have you heated your home with passive heat? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Are You Prepared For Blackouts This Winter? Read More Here.

4 Off-Grid Alternatives To (Traditional) Wood-Burning Stoves

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4 Off-Grid Alternatives To (Traditional) Wood-Burning Stoves

Pellet stove. Image source: hearthstonestoves.com

Traditional heating systems are powered by electricity and often accompanied by heat that is generated by natural gas, oil or propane. All are expensive options and typically require at least an electric-powered fan to force the air through heating ducts throughout the house.

The benefit of any forced-air system is even distribution of heat. Wood-burning stoves lack this feature and depend on “radiant” heat, or heat that is simply radiated from the stove itself. But the downside of forced-air heat is its dependence on the grid.

There are alternatives, though, to not only electric systems but also to the traditional cast-iron stove. Let’s explore them.

1. Masonry stove

These stoves burn wood but are made from materials like fire bricks and concrete, and some even funnel smoke through a chimney system that is embedded through a brick wall. The advantage of a masonry stove is that it holds and exchanges heat better than cast iron and typically can produce significant heat with a slow, burning fire.

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4 Off-Grid Alternatives To (Traditional) Wood-Burning Stoves

Masonry stove. Image source: inspirationgreen.com

One of the significant advantages of a masonry wood-burning stove is in the wall feature. By circulating heat through a brick wall, it can effectively deliver heat to a second story bedroom or bathroom to some degree. The biggest problem with wood-burning stoves is that they depend on radiant heat. The good news is that heat rises, but on particularly cold days it may not rise enough to sufficiently heat rooms upstairs. A masonry stove does both, imparting heat not only through radiance, but also through brickwork upstairs.

2. Pellet stoves

Another alternative is a stove that burns things other than firewood. These stoves can burn dried corn cobs, wood chips and even peanut shells. Pellets are the result of a manufacturing process that also requires a supply-chain distribution system. That can be a problem in an off-the-grid scenario.

Another consideration with alternative burning fuels is their availability in quantity. Burning corn cobs is a good idea assuming you can store and accumulate enough corn cobs to last the winter. But unless you plant a significant amount of corn or have a resource close to home from a local farmer, you might run out of corn cobs pretty quick. The same is true for wood chips and peanut shells. It sounds like a good idea, but do you have a ton or two of wood chips and peanut shells? If so, you may want to consider such a stove.

3. Passive solar

Passive solar involves the collection of heat from the sun in tiles or wallboards designed to absorb heat during the day and radiate it at night when it’s colder. It may be inaccurate to call it an “alternative” system, but think of it as a complement to another home heating system. It’s an excellent way to provide heat to parts of a home that are beyond the reach of radiant heat.

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However, there are a few parameters.

  1. It requires a significant southern exposure with large windows that will allow sufficient sunlight to hit the tiles or wallboard so they can absorb the heat.
  2. It is ineffective on cloudy days. Even though solar panels can absorb some radiation from the sun on a cloudy day, passive solar tiles require direct sunlight to capture heat.
  3. The tiles can overheat a room in the summer and even in winter. There’s no thermostat you can dial up or down. Your only solution is drapes or shades to prevent the sun from striking the tiles. It’s a simple solution if you don’t mind covered windows in the summer.

4. An underground home

This is not for everyone, but where and how you live can make a big difference when it comes to maintaining and sustaining heat in winter. One of the best solutions is based on the geo-thermal principle. The ground stays warmer than the air during winter, so build your house underground. This gets to the basic laws of thermodynamics. The average ground temperature is around 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you live. Rarely above or below. Do the math. You’re never freezing and never over-heating. Few people consider this option, but it’s a good alternative solution. In an underground home, you won’t have to use heat until it really gets cold outside – and even then, it won’t take long to warm the place.

What alternatives would you add to the list? Share your tips in the section below:

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“Home” Considerations for getting there!

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“Home” Considerations for getting there!

HomeWith so much focus on bugging in and out scenarios, I feel that not a lot is being said about those crucial moments when disaster strikes and you’re away from home. When you’re away from your preps, your bug out bag and your stockpile, things will be that much tougher. In what follows I want to give you a few common sense tips that go beyond assembling a get-home bag list.

It’s hard to anticipate what you’ll be doing when it hits, the distance from home and where your spouse and kids will be and many more details (see below). The more you think about these possible scenarios, the better the solution your mind will come up with… so let’s see if I can challenge you on an intellectual level.

Don’t Leave Your EDC Kit at Home

Ever walked away from home and decided you don’t really want to carry your EDC items “just this once”? You’ve had them with you so many times and nothing happened that you get this feeling of “well, it’s not like anything’s gonna happen today”.

Well, what if something does happen? If you’re out there and you get a phone call from your wife asking you to come home ASAP, having a knife, a flashlight or an extra cell-phone battery could make a world of difference.

Explore Your City

What does this have to do with getting home in an emergency? Depending on the type of disaster that will affect you, you probably won’t be able to get home using the route. As we do our daily chores or go to work, we always take the shortest route possible, right?

Only thing is, that may not be the safest one in a disaster. A bridge might have collapsed, there might be checkpoints on the main arteries, riots or a protests could block parts of the city. The more you know your city, the quicker it’ll be for you find alternate routes without the need for a GPS or someone guiding you over the phone.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have printed maps of your city. On the contrary, you should improve those maps by marking shortcuts and keeping copies inside your car and your get home bag.

Prepare For Mini Get-Home Scenarios

Scenarios aren’t just related to Doomsday. You may very well be forced to rush home to handle personal emergencies. Here’s a few things most preppers never consider:

  • the transportation system could be halted for whatever reason, forcing you to go back home on foot
  • your car could be broken into
  • your cell phone battery could die
  • there could be a heavy and prolonged rain or even a hail storm
  • you could get a flat tire
  • you could get sick as you’re driving home
  • your get home bag could be stolen or you might be separated from it for whatever reason
  • …and many more.

How would you prep for each of them? It’s not that hard. You can add an extra cell-phone battery or cell-phone charger inside your GHB, you could learn how to fix your flat tire, you could add a few basic OTC meds inside your EDC and get-home bag etc.

Ask Yourself: Is It Safe To Get Home?

People talking about get home scenarios see themselves coming home in record time when it finally happens. The only problem is, their home could be compromised, which means they won’t be able to bug in, they won’t have access to their bug out bags or any of their preps.

You have to prep for every possible scenario, including bugging out without a BOB and losing our stockpile and guns. This is why having a fully-packed vehicle and one or several bug out locations is important.

Keep this in mind: the more time you spend away from home, the more likely it is you won’t be there when disaster strikes.

Is It Safe To Go Inside Your Home?

If your wife called you because there’s a burglar in the house, you probably don’t want to barge in there like Chuck Norris. You don’t know the current status and, even though things look quiet on the outside, on the inside, things could be bad. Real bad.

Think about how you would approach a home invasion that happens when you’re not at home. Would you call the police? Would you call your prepper friends? In case you have to do this alone, do you know alternative ways to get inside?

What ELSE Could Affect You In a Get Home Scenario?

A devastating earthquake just hit. You expect people to be crying in the street, maybe some of them trying to get their relatives from under the rubble. There’s panic everywhere and you need to get home right away because your wife’s not answering the phone.

Do you think it’s that easy? Any number of things could go wrong and they have nothing to do with collapsed buildings or blocked roads. For example:

  • you find out your kid’s also trapped under the rubble at school so now you have two family members that need your help
  • you pass a downed building and there are people trapped inside asking you to help them
  • you come home to find that 3 thugs are looting your home
  • the earthquake also caused a gas leakage which lead to a house fire
  • when you reach your wife, you realize she’s injured, you may need to get her to a hospital
  • …and on and on.

Final Word

When disaster strikes, if anything can go wrong, it probably will. Tragedies come in threes and it’s easy to lose your mind when chaos unleashes. There’s only way to prepare now for the myriad of outcomes and that is to ask yourself questions today. The more questions you ask, the more problems and holes you will uncover in your survival plans.

The post “Home” Considerations for getting there! appeared first on The Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Off-Grid Family Of 8 Evicted For Not Installing Smoke Alarm?

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Off-Grid Family Of 8 Evicted For Not Installing Smoke Alarm?

Image source: WQOW.com

Government officials in Wisconsin tried to force an Amish family to choose between their faith and a building code.

Amos and Vera Borntreger and their six children were nearly evicted from their off-grid home because it lacked, among other things, smoke detectors as mandated by the Uniform Dwelling Code or UDC.

A judge actually issued an order evicting the Borntregers from their home in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, before common sense prevailed, Wisconsin Watchdog reported. The Borntregers are Old Order Amish who believe that some modern technologies, including electronics, should be avoided.

County building inspectors tried to force them and 400 other Amish residents to install battery-operated smoke detectors in their homes as mandated by the UDC.

“Eau Claire County has the unfortunate distinction of being the only county in the United States that has used placard eviction to put an Amish family out of their home,” said David Mortimer, the spokesman for the local chapter of the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom.

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Mortimer was referring to Henry and Sara Mast, an elderly Amish couple evicted from their home in 2012 because they refused to install smoke detectors. Unlike the Masts, the Borntregers were not actually evicted, but the county tried.

“To ask a county to waive or to exempt someone from state code is an odd situation in and of itself,” said Lance Gurney, Eau Claire County’s planning and development department manager. “Nowhere else do we have the authority to waive or exempt someone from complying with state code.”

State Legislature to the Rescue

The Borntregers were able to stay in their home by following a waiver process approved by the Wisconsin state legislature that applies to all residents. State Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), who represents Eau Claire County, authored legislation creating the waiver after hearing about the Borntregers’ plight. Under the new law, residents can appeal to the state Department of Safety Professional Standards for a waiver if the rules conflict with sincerely held religious beliefs.

“Now that they have the waiver and are exempt from having to comply with the parts of Uniform Dwelling Code that violate their religious beliefs, they can follow the remaining procedure to comply with the permitting process,” the Borntregers’ attorney, Matthew Krische, told Wisconsin Watchdog.

A number of Amish families in Eau Claire County, including the Masts, have gotten around the UDC by installing smoke detectors for inspectors and then having someone remove them after the inspector left, the website said. But the practice is controversial among Amish, many of whom consider it deceitful.

What is your reaction to this story? Is this government overreach? Share your views in the section below:

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Six Steps for Protecting Your Home from Snow

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As your family prepares for the upcoming winter season, you might be excited about the prospect of the first snows. The cold white flakes can be a beautiful sight, and a promise of the holidays and activities to come. Although snow provides an opportunity to spend more time in front of a warm fireplace, it can pose hazards to your home. Snow storms can damage your home’s roof, gutters, and siding in extreme conditions. Here are a six tips to help you protect your home from harsh snow this winter.

Wrap Your Pipes

During the winter season, pipes have the tendency to freeze. When this happens, there can be serious financial consequences since frozen pipes can burst and cause significant water damage. Protect your pipes from freezing by wrapping them in insulated wrap. Another thing you can do is to keep water flowing through them. If you know you won’t be using that downstairs bathroom much, consider wrapping those pipes or cutting off the water supply temporarily.

Remove Snow from Your Roof

Depending on the condition of your roof, accumulated snow can cause damage over time. The heavy snow can burden struts if the roof isn’t slanted and allows for melting. If you notice a large amount of snow on your roof, call a company for help with removal.

Purchase New Windows

Most windows have a life expectancy of 10 to 20 years. If you have older windows, protect your home from snow damage by installing new ones when possible. This will be an airtight solution to keep winter snow and drafts from coming into your home and zapping the heat you try to keep inside. Companies like Gilkey Windows can often help install new ones on many different window frame types.

Seal Cracks and Holes

Homes that have cracks and holes in the walls or floors have the potential to be damaged by snow, not to mention bothered by pests. The water from melted snow often leaks through these holes and can cause structural damage. Protect your home by sealing all cracks and holes.

Check Your Windows

The frozen icicles that form on the window can provide the setting for a perfect winter portrait. However, icicles can accumulate quickly and become large and heavy. Make sure you knock down big icicles when you can, and if they aren’t melting fast enough.

Secure Roof Shingles

Winter preparation begins months before the first snowfall. If you have shingles that are loose, call for repairs as soon as possible. Make sure everything is secured and ready for the first storms.

If you follow these tips, you and your family can enjoy the snow without any problems this year.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Four Ideas to Make Your House More Damage Proof

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Your home is an investment and the last thing you want is to lose your home to a disaster like a hurricane, flood, or fire. You need to take direct action to prevent these risks as well as taking out insurance. Know the dangers in your area and get to know good prevention and emergency plans. You should consider these four ideas to make your house more damage proof and last longer.

Get Reinforced Exterior and Garage Doors

Typical exterior doors aren’t very good at resisting the impact of flying debris or even high winds. Your first step should be to replace any doors leading outside with impact resistant ones. These doors can resist incredibly intense impacts from the heaviest debris thrown around by a storm. They will barely dent, and will almost never break. If you live in a high wind area it’s a great investment and can save you money on heating and cooling if they are properly sealed as well. You should reinforce your garage door as well with kits or even new doors altogether.

Put a Sump Pump in the Home

Water can do more damage to a home than a fire in certain cases, and if you’re area is a risk for flooding, you’ll want to put a sump pump in your home. The pump goes at the lowest point in the house and will turn on when water starts collecting. It will automatically pump the water back outside. A sump pump can prevent water from ruining your home and get you a head start on clearing out a flood. It is usually best to install a backup sump pump just in case there is a problem with the primary unit.

Install Storm Shield Windows

Your windows are a major vulnerability. It is suggested you install storm shield LLC windows all around your house if you live in an area prone to hurricanes. These hurricane windows from Naples FL are made to withstand being hit with fast-moving and heavy pieces of debris even during powerful hurricanes. They will not shatter and send glass all over the inside of your home. Storm shield windows also prevent damage without affecting the appearance too much.

Keep Your Property Free of Debris

An important step to take in any home is to keep your property free of debris. Items like fallen branches, dead trees, and piles of junk can all potentially damage your home in a disaster like a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or could even ignite a fire. You might even have to contend with destructive pests living in junk you have laying around. Always keep your property clean and free from anything that could potentially damage your home.

Properly prepared homes are able to weather storms, hurricanes, and other disasters with minimal to no damage. The amount of time you put into preparing your house will pay off in the end. You should start taking steps today make your home more damage proof and will last you a lifetime.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Shelter, Food & Busy Hands

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We all know how a shelter is very important not only for cover but also for protection from the elements. I think that it is always a great challenge to me how to build a shelter whether making a simple or complicated one.

Here are some types of shelters:

Types of SheltersTypes of SheltersTypes of SheltersTypes of Shelters

Shelter always gives you that “homey” feeling of protection and comfort. I know that this is how I feel personally. I walk into the wilderness that is so big and so open that I feel so overwhelmed and lost. But whenever I make a shelter… it feels good like my homemade comfort zone :) my own little corner where I can be safe and rest.

Having your own space helps the mental thing a lot! It is very important to me to feel secure especially being a lady. :)

Don’t forget the FIRE! Shelter and Fire is a perfect combination! Food comes after remember? :)

Just look at these men what they had accomplished. It’s just the beginning of something great but still was a lot of work. When building shelters, it’s always worth it; it brings a sense of accomplishment. Now when these men go hunting in the fall, they will have a place to stay that will be warm and cozy after waiting and freezing patiently from the top trees! :)

Types of SheltersTypes of SheltersTypes of Shelters

Paul & Jeremy are brothers, young men from our church who go out with Mike sometimes. They worked hard to build this shelter, not very far from their hunting spots. Now remember what comes after? FOOD…. I LOVE FOOD!!

Building Shelter and CookingBuilding Shelter and CookingBuilding Shelter and Cooking

Whether you are with a family or friends, I think that it brings a smile to everyone’s face. Good memories are made!

CARVING

You may have seen Mike many times carving a spoon, just relaxing. Personally I like to see the hunt for that piece of wood before he transforms it into a spoon. The work that goes into it and the many hours spent carving it; perfecting every corner and edges.

Carving A SpoonCarving A SpoonCarving A SpoonCarving A Spoon

That is patience that I don’t think I have!  I tried, but I simply don’t have the gift to carve! :( I’ll just cook!

It is almost a perfect scene… a good shelter in front of a warm fire, meal cooking, water boiling for a coffee while Mike is finishing up a spoon. Amen!

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The sound of the wood cracking as it slowly burns and is being consumed by the fire is so relaxing to me. I am blessed that I have enjoyed many experiences like this with Mike. I am grateful and by God’s grace I am not DONE YET! :)