10 Prepper Uses for Chapstick

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chapstick-survivalWhen it comes to items necessary for a prepper to include in his or her planning, lip balm isn’t typically one that comes to mind. Chapped lips are bad, but when you’re talking about surviving a major disaster, it’s an ailment most people could deal with.

While yes, chapped lips are far from a prepper’s first priority, these little sticks of balm are worth far more than their ability to heal lips. That tube of lip balm can do everything from protecting your knife from rusting to helping you start a fire. Let’s look at some of the ways lip balm can help you in your planning and prep.

1. Chapstick

Ok, we might as well start with the actual use of lip balm and how well it handles chapped lips. While we may think of chapped lips as a minor annoyance, when you’re dealing with an emergency scenario where you may be outside in the sun for extended periods of time, possibly with little water, your lips can start to chap pretty quickly.

Chapped lips that go unchecked can lead to bleeding; without proper medical care, open wounds can easily become infected. It would be a real shame if after all your prepping and planning that you’d be taken out by chapped lips, now wouldn’t it?

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2. Fire Starter

The issue with starting a fire often isn’t finding something to catch on fire but rather something that will hold a flame for an extended period of time while the larger items catch. If you were to light a Q-tip on fire, it would burn out in seconds, but add some lip balm to the tip and you’ll get minutes instead of seconds out of it. This means you can build an amazingly simple fire-starting kit out of Q-tips, lip balm, and a lighter or flint and steel.

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3. Blade Protector

The thing about using knives in a survival situation is that everything you do with them is bad for their longevity. It’s hard to keep a knife oiled when you’re using it to eat with as well as cut kindling, right?

Rub lip balm directly onto the blade to keep it from rusting while saving its ability to be used for food. Sure, you might get a light peppermint taste to your food, but it’s better than oil.

4. Zipper Fixer

Zippers have a real knack for getting stuck at the worst time possible. When stuck, it’s nearly impossible to get them un-stuck without breaking the zipper entirely, which while fine for your workout sweatshirt, isn’t very good for your bug-out bag in an emergency.

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Rub lip balm along both sides of the zipper run to lubricate it and keep it from sticking. Once lubricated, your zipper will run smoother and even gain some water resistance.

5. Sunscreen

Most lip balms include an SPF 15 to keep your lips from getting burned from being in the sun all day. Lucky for you, there’s no difference between the SPF in lip balm and the one in your favorite beach sunscreen.

While it may not be comfortable, you can use lip balm as an emergency sunscreen anywhere on your body. Best of all, if you’re already burnt, the balm will protect while helping ease your burn.

6. Blister Protector

You can keep blisters from forming where your shoes, bag, belt, or anything else rubs constantly. Rub some lip balm onto the area to keep a blister from forming.

The balm will lubricate the area as well as soothe any irritation that may still happen.

7. Leather Conditioner

Just as lip balm protects your skin, it can protect leather and keep it from cracking. Whether you’re talking about leather on your boots or shoes, your belt, or a sheath for your knife, some lip balm can help keep the leather moisturized and ready to work.

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8. Hiding Spot

When you’ve used all the balm up in your tube, don’t throw the tube away just yet! You can use it for hiding small items in something that few people would think about stealing. Cash, notes, medication, even small survival items can all be stored in the empty tube.

9. De-Fogger

If you wear glasses or goggles and can’t stand them getting fogged up whenever it gets wet or hot outside, you can run some lip balm on the lenses and polish it off with a fresh, clean cloth.

Doing this will put a high polish on the lenses but will also leave an invisible film on the lenses that won’t let fog form on it.

10. Lubricant

We’ve covered this one in a few of the tips above, but lip balm can be used as a general lubricant. Tools, folding knives, hinges, and even thread, screws, and nails can all be helped by adding some lip balm to them.

Screws and nails will go in more easily, threads will flow smoothly, and other items will move with ease all thanks to that little tube of balm in your pocket.

As you can see, lip balm is far more useful than it seems. Hopefully these tips convince you to add a tube or two of lip balm to your everyday carry and your bug-out bag. For its size, lip balm may be one of the most useful tools you can have.

Keeping PACE with Your Survival Plan

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Throughout our lives we use acronyms to learn and remember a variety of things. From NASA to AWOL to SEALs, we certainly do love our acronyms. When it comes to survival there’s a wealth of acronyms to help you be as prepared as possible. Take, for example, PACE. Typically pace is a word that’s more at home in the realm of car racing or running, but in the survival world, PACE is a way of making sure you’re ready for whatever the world has to throw at you. This can be a bug-out plan, a get-home plan, or a home-defense plan. Whatever type of prepping or survival plan you’re thinking of, PACE can make it better.

So what is PACE? Simply put, it’s a way for you to build a plan with multiple contingencies in place. PACE stands for:

  • Primary
  • Alternate
  • Contingency
  • Emergency

Using this 4-part method of planning and prepping will give you the best chance possible of getting out of whatever you’re into. Let’s take a look at each part of the PACE method and see what it can do for you.

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P – Primary

This refers to the plan you consider to be your best and most efficient method for getting things done. Think of this as your “Plan A.” An example of your primary plan could be that at the first sign of an emergency, you get into your truck and drive out of the city to a cabin in the woods to wait it out. Obviously you’d have a lot more detail to your plan, but think of this as what you’d do if it’s possible.

Another example of a primary plan could be in regard to your drinking water. The best method might be for you to utilize the water you’ve stored in your basement. This is a simple and effective plan that you’ve prepared for, so it’s what you would try first.

A – Alternate

It’s rare that things go according to plan, which is why you always need your backup, or alternate plan. This is the second route you’d take to accomplish the task or event you’re planning and prepping for, also known as “Plan B.”

Referring back to the bug-out plan example, your primary plan might be to escape in your truck, but your alternate plan would be to use your motorcycle. To effectively prepare for using your alternate plan, you’d have riding gear like gloves, a helmet, and boots with you. Your alternate plan is meant to run alongside your primary plan so you can switch to it in an instant.

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C – Contingency

So what happens if your primary and alternate plans fail? While this may seem far-fetched, it can happen. Looking at the bug-out plan example again, what if your truck AND your motorcycle won’t run, or you’re nowhere near them when you need to bug out? This is where your contingency plan comes into play.

Sure, your contingency plan is probably not the quickest or easiest method to get things done, but it’s there for you in case both your primary and alternate plans fail. Sticking with our example, your contingency plan for bugging out might be to hike where you need to go. Your contingency plan should include the gear, clothing, and route planning needed to get out on foot. You probably don’t want to ever use your contingency plan, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.

E – Emergency

What if all your plans fail or aren’t able to be implemented? This is definitely a long shot, but it’s possible. That’s why you prep — to be ready for the improbable when others are not. If all else fails, the final last-ditch effort has to be put into play, which is where your emergency plan comes into action.

Unlike the other three plans, this one should have quite a bit of wiggle room built into it to account for whatever happened to your other three plans.

Your emergency plan will most likely take the longest, cost the most, and give the lowest quality result, but it’s better than nothing at all. Finishing up our bug-out plan example, your emergency plan may very well be to not leave at all, but to shore up your defenses wherever you are and ride out whatever is happening until you can take more action.

By sticking to the PACE method of planning, you can make sure a change in a situation or plan doesn’t ruin your chances at survival. Run a PACE report on your current survival plans and see if you have what it takes to keep PACE with an emergency.

How to Seal Your Food for Long-Term Storage

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freeze dried blueberriesEvery prepper, both beginner and expert alike, knows the importance of sealing food for long-term storage. Sealing your food properly will ensure that it lasts a long time and is able to be consumed in the future. Even families and individuals who don’t consider themselves to be preppers can learn about these techniques to make their food available and edible in emergencies.

There are a variety of methods for sealing your food. Some of these include vacuum sealing, dry ice, canning, and freeze-drying/dehydrating.

Vacuum sealing – This method of food storage is both economical and effective. Vacuum sealing removes oxygen from the food package, and therefore slows down its deterioration. Foods won’t dry out, plus you can conserve space for more storage. Foods that have been vacuum sealed last 3 to 5 times longer when compared with conventional methods. Vacuum sealing can be combined with other storage methods, like freezing, for better results.

Dry ice – Believe it or not, dry ice can be used for food storage. Simply place the dry ice in the bottom of a dry food storage container and then pour in the dry food. The dry ice will replace the oxygen in the container with carbon dioxide. Once that process is complete, the container can be sealed. There are, however, safety considerations when handling dry ice. This storage method works best with dry goods including legumes, grains, powders, and seeds.

Canning – Canning is a preservation method in which food is processed and then sealed in airtight containers. Most of us probably purchase canned food at the grocery store, but you can also do it yourself. The only equipment you need are cans, lids and a canner. There are two kinds of canners: water bath and pressurized. Canned food can last anywhere from one to five years.

Freeze-drying/dehydrating – Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are widely available for purchase, but you can also make your own using dehydrators and freeze-dry systems in your home.

There are also different containers in which to pack stable shelf foods.

Plastic buckets – Plastic buckets are convenient for storing large amounts of dry foods. They store well, are compact, can be carried easily, and are stackable. Plastic containers are also fairly cheap and can hold up under rough handling.

Metal cans – Metal cans with proper sealing are ideal for long-term storage because they can remain free of oxygen indefinitely. They also can withstand rough handling.

Glass – Glass containers are good for long-term storage as well. They are non-permeable and difficult for animals to get into. However, they are fragile.

Pouches – Pouches are nice for storage because they come in many different sizes and are portable. Pouched foods can last anywhere from three to ten years but can be easily damaged.

No matter what your preference is for food storage, the important thing is to get started. Find the method that works best for you and your family!

Why Your Everyday Carry Needs a Reality Check

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One of the easiest and most personal forms of prepping is your everyday carry, or EDC. Your EDC says a lot about you as a person and as a prepper, which is why there’s never a single answer for how to build one properly.

Sure, there are tips and tricks for building out your EDC, but at the end of the day it’s all about you and what you might need on a moment’s notice. Trying to build your EDC based on specific advice from someone else can be maddening to say the least, and for anyone who’s tried, you probably know the end result is a mishmash of tools and items that you’re not sure you’ll ever use.

This is why it’s time to give your EDC a reality check. Whether you’ve carried your EDC for a few weeks or a few years, something you carry with you every day could always use a check-up from time to time, so consider this your yearly physical for your EDC.

Instead of giving you specifics, we’re going to look at three key elements to keep in mind when building or refreshing your EDC to make sure it’s both useful and portable.

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1. Self-Reliance

The core of a proper EDC is self-reliance. The items you choose to carry with you every day should all serve the end goal of helping you rely on yourself to get out of most situations. This should cover the basics like:

  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Bottle opener
  • Cash
  • Multi-tool
  • Lighter/Fire starter

Your list of self-reliant necessities may differ from this, but you get the idea. If you’re building an EDC for the first time, think about what items you could possibly need on any given day. While you can’t plan for everything, especially when talking about items you have to carry on you daily, you can prepare for the majority of needs fairly easily when thinking about self-reliance first.

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2. Convenience

Beyond the basics, a good EDC should have items that make your life convenient on a daily basis, too. Convenience items include anything that’s not typically needed for survival, but help you complete your day with a little extra comfort. These items can include:

  • Phone charger
  • Bandana
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Headphones
  • Water bottle

Basically, think about the things that you wish you had on an average day, and these are what you should start keeping with you at all times.

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3. Personal Items

When you have self-reliance and convenience items figured out, any leftover space in your EDC should include personal items. Personal items can often cross over into the self-reliance and convenience categories, but this should go a little deeper than that. Some personal EDC items to think about include:

  • Watch
  • Mobile phone
  • Chapstick
  • Glasses/Sunglasses
  • Comb
  • Wallet pictures
  • Kindle/Book
  • Tablet
  • Computer

The list here goes on and on. The idea is that even though a typical EDC is all about self-reliance and preparedness, you don’t want to forget the personal touch.

By following this three-part outline, you’ll start to integrate your EDC into your daily life, making it more than a form of prepping, but an integrated piece of your daily routine that’s as familiar as carrying a wallet. When preparedness becomes second nature to you, you truly start being ready for anything.

10 Odd but Useful Items to Include in Your Survival Kit

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zip tiesPutting together a survival kit is not all that difficult. There are some items that just make sense to include in your kit. Things like extra food and water, first aid items, a multi-tool, a fire starter and cooking devices are essential.

There are other items to consider putting in your survival kit that you might not immediately think of. However, these things could still help you out in a pinch.

1. Zip ties – Zip ties are neat little tools that can be used in a large variety of situations. Plus, their holding power and strength are incredibly impressive. You can use zip ties for just about everything including making handcuffs, keeping items secured, building a snare, repairing backpacks and tents, attaching to a splint or using as a tourniquet, and attaching items to bags or shelters.

2. Tampons – Tampons have many survival uses beyond what they are originally intended for. Tampons can be used to fashion an emergency water filter and a weapon. Tampons can help start fires, plug up a wound, clean teeth, lure animals, and produce light like a candle.

3. Carabiners – Carabiners are extremely helpful for carrying stuff around. If you need to carry something but don’t have room for it in a bag, simply clip the item to your bag using a carabiner. Carabiners are also handy as key rings or to hold other smaller items together. They can make good emergency zipper pulls for bags or shelters as well as fishing and constructing a shelter.

4. Tea tree oil – Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties that can treat infections, but it is also good for treating problems with critters such as lice, scabies, and ringworm. Additionally, it helps to keep mosquitoes and parasites away.

5. Paper clips – The mighty paper clip is not only cheap, but it also has survival uses. Use them to make an emergency compass and get your sense of direction, attach bait to a paper clip for fishing, and use one to repair a zipper pull.

6. Small candle – Get some light and keep warm with a small candle. Candles will eventually run out and you’ll need something to light it, but a small candle can make a big difference in a survival situation.

7. Super glue – If anything breaks in your survival kit, as something most likely will, keep a small tube of super glue for repairs.

8. Glow sticks – Glow sticks don’t require batteries, and you can simply hang one around your neck with a string. They are much easier to carry around than most flashlights.

9. Cash – Although it is less common to carry around cash these days, it’s always handy to have a little bit on hand for emergency situations. When credit card machines are down, you never know when a little cash will help.

10. Panty hose – Panty hose can help in many ways. They can keep you warm as well as reduce friction to keep blisters at bay. They also work as emergency water filters for removing larger debris.

Stick some of items in your emergency kit, and you might be surprised what you can use them for!

5 Survival Tips from “10 Cloverfield Lane”

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I’m a sucker for a good monster movie. Not only are they entertaining and suspenseful, but they also speak to the prepper mindset. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching “Godzilla” or “Pacific Rim,” the stories all basically start the same.

Life is mostly good and going on as it always does until a monster appears seemingly out of thin air and starts wrecking the place to the point of complete societal collapse. It’s at this point that those that are well prepared for a variety of situations step up and help lead humanity to a victory.

Ok, so maybe it’s hard to prep for a monster attack, but it’s not impossible. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is an ancillary movie to the 2008 found footage monster movie “Cloverfield.” It takes place alongside the events of the ’08 movie and is far more focused on suspense and interpersonal conflict than the actual running from monsters that its precursor was all about.

The majority of “10 Cloverfield Lane” takes place in a survival bunker that a prepper had built in case of a variety of disasters. For the survivalist, there were some definite lessons to be learned from “10 Cloverfield Lane,” both good and bad. If you haven’t seen the movie and plan on doing so, you should probably stop here and finish this after you see the movie as there are spoilers ahead for sure. Here are the five survival tips I learned from “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

1. Bunkers are pretty convenient

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This pretty much goes without saying, but a well-built bunker that’s fully stocked and made to be comfortable is a pretty great thing. From storing the basics like food and water to giving you somewhere to hide from just about any type of disaster, bunkers are simply useful.

Sadly we don’t all have a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere to build said bunker, and even fewer of us have enough disposable income to build a proper bunker, but the usefulness of one can’t be ignored. If it weren’t for the bunker in this movie, none of the protagonists/antagonists would have survived the first 15 minutes of the movie.

2. Survival should be comfortable

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Survival doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Sure, your overall comfort is definitely going to be different in a survival situation, but a little extra effort would go a long way in making a bunker more comfortable.

Whether it’s music like the jukebox in “10 Cloverfield Lane” provided, the comfort of his grandparents’ table, or some games and puzzles, make sure to have some comfort items with you to make surviving a little better.

3. Knowing is half the battle

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It doesn’t matter if you have the best survival plan ever created; if you’re not aware of what’s going on, not only around you, but in the world as a whole, it won’t do you much good. The reason Howard (John Goodman) was able to get to his bunker was because he paid attention to what was going on in the world.

Sure, you probably don’t have equipment to listen in on “satellite chatter,” but watching the news and paying attention to the little things that happen can help you get the big picture. Knowing about a disaster even an hour before it’s in full effect can mean the difference between life and death.

4. Help when you can, but carefully

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It’s hard to see someone in need and not want to jump into action to help them right away, but in a survival situation you have to weigh this automatic desire to help with the understanding that whomever you help might be looking for a little bit more.

Even if they’re not actively looking to hurt or rob you, the act of helping them could put you into a situation where you end up in need of help, too. Whether that’s climbing down a cliff to help someone, diving into the water, or saving someone from a car crash, be careful who and how you help.

5. Medical skills are a must

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Chances are that when the SHTF there won’t be too many MedExpress locations open to give you stitches or set broken bones. That means that something as trivial as slicing your hand while making dinner can become a real life-threatening ordeal.

Having a few medical books (real, physical ones) as well as a general understanding of the basics of medicine can really help you out when things get tough.

Bonus tip: Be careful who you trust

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If you’ve seen the movie, you know that tips 1–5 above paint a very different picture of Howard than ends up being true. The fact of the matter is that even if someone offers you help, you might not want to take it.

Sure, Howard took Michelle and Emmett into his fully-stocked bunker to wait out the Cloverfield attack, but at what cost? In the end Emmett didn’t fare much better than if he’d been fending for himself, and Michelle had to fight for her life, literally!

Basically, the big tip this movie has to offer is this: Accept and give help whenever you can, but do so carefully and with an exit strategy if at all possible.

How to Avoid a Gator Attack

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One of the risks of recreating outside is that of encountering animals and possible animal attacks. Those encounters hardly ever go well for the parties involved. Take, for example, the death of a two-year-old boy in Florida after he was attacked by an alligator in June 2016. Not only was the boy killed, but officials also hunted down and killed the animal that was most likely responsible.

However, there are things that parents can do to make sure their children are safe from alligators and other dangerous animals. First of all, it’s important to remember that alligator attacks are still relatively rare. There have only been 24 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948. Plus, authorities say that humans, especially young children, are often easily mistaken for prey.

Know the Risks

It’s essential to know what animals you might encounter when heading outside, and more specifically, how to avoid attacks. Alligators, in particular, inhabit freshwater lakes and canals in certain parts of the country. It’s safe to assume that alligators are present in every body of fresh water in Florida and that they travel.

Despite their chunky appearance, alligators can move at speeds up to 20 mph, and they are masters at ambush. They camouflage themselves in the water and can thrust their bodies up to grab prey. Alligators then drag their prey underwater to drown it. They are most active from dusk until dawn, so it makes sense to avoid the shores of lakes and canals during those times.

Avoiding Attacks

The best way to avoid a gator attack is never to approach an alligator or attempt to feed one. Stay as far away as possible and avoid swimming or wading in fresh bodies of water. Always take serious “no swimming” signs. If you’re close to a lake or pond, keep your eyes out for large swirls in the water, as that’s a sign an alligator is beneath the surface.

Keep children and pets away from the edge of lakes and canals, and don’t allow them to sit or wade in shallow water. Always know where your children are around water and stay close to them.

What to Do During Encounters

If you do encounter an alligator, there are things you can do to avoid an attack. For the most part, humans are able to outrun gators on land. If someone puts up a big enough fight, it’s possible that the gator will let go. Gators try to avoid people, so the more noise you make, the less likely gators will be around.

Always seek immediate medical attention for an alligator bite and report any alligators that are threatening humans or property.

Photo credit: Andy Lidstone / Shutterstock.com

5 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

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saving money on entertainmentWith the cost of living on the rise, it seems like families are always on the lookout for ways to save money and live more frugally. One of the areas to consider cutting back on is entertainment. The reality is that you don’t have to spend much money to have fun.

  1. Ditch the cable – To save money on at-home entertainment, it makes sense to get rid of your cable TV. Many cable providers offer their services at decent introductory prices but then up the ante after a certain period of time. The result is that you end up paying way more per month than you originally thought you would. There are several alternatives to cable TV, including putting up a digital antenna or subscribing to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Sling TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and Streambox are other alternatives.
  2. Rent, not buy, movies and TV shows – It’s unlikely that you’ll watch a movie more than once or twice. Instead of buying DVDs and Blu-ray discs, which can be pretty expensive, rent them at much cheaper prices. Some services that allow you to rent movies and TV shows include Vudu, Redbox, Gamefly, Amazon.com, VidAngel and Google Play. Better yet, become a member of your local library and borrow movies and TV shows to watch for free.
  3. Opt for cheaper dates – Instead of going out all the time, opt for cheaper dates by staying at home. At-home dates don’t have to cost anything when the focus is on spending quality time with your significant other. Other cheap date ideas are taking bubble baths, volunteering together, singing karaoke, having a picnic, stargazing, getting outside, cooking and going for a drive.
  4. Shop for the holidays in the off-season – Start making a list of gift ideas weeks or even months in advance of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. That way you can take advantage of sale prices when you see them. Another way to save money is to do your holiday shopping right after the season is over when retailers have deep discounts on all kinds of items and seasonal decorations. Not only does this help save you money, but it can also cut down on holiday-related stress. Then use the money you saved for holiday celebrations and entertainment.
  5. Take advantage of happy hour – If you find yourself spending too much on going out for food and drinks, take advantage of happy hour at a bar. Try to limit yourself to one drink, and enjoy the discounts on food. This is a good option for sports lovers, especially when watching big games and tournaments.

With a little effort, you can cut back on entertainment and still have loads of fun!

3 Ways Animals Can Help You Survive

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Attracting Birds to Your GardenCan watching animals help you survive if stranded in the wilderness? Absolutely. Animals know a thing or two about survival, after all. They let you know when stuff’s about to go down! Here are some of the many ways animals will help you stay alive until it’s rescue time:

Danger

Keep a weather eye on the animals around you, as they’ll tell you when a huge predator is about to make an entrance. Birds make great emergency alerts, as they’ll often squawk like crazy when danger is near. Blue Jays in particular do this, while any quail, pheasant, or similar bird that runs out of a bush or other brush in a hurry is a sure signal something unpleasant is nearby. If you weren’t the one to cause the bird to vacate its previous area, you can be darn sure something else did.

Birds and other animals will also fall silent when a big, bad predator is close. If you notice one or several animals doing what they normally do and then stopping for seemingly no reason, something is amiss.

Bad Weather

Use animals to let you know when inclement weather is on its way so you can find shelter as soon as possible. Cows are notorious for lying down when it’s about to seriously rain, while birds flying lower than usual and skimming the ground are another indication that bad weather is about to manifest itself. Birds normally fly high in the sky, but changes in air pressure make them zoom towards Earth.

Another way to tell there’s a bad moon, er, storm on the horizon is when animals disappear. Again, a drop in pressure lets them know it’s time to head home and that you should do the same (even if it’s a makeshift shelter).

Water

Let animals help you find sources of water.  You can tell there is water nearby when you see lots of animal tracks in conjunction with swarming insects and bird flight paths.

Animals can also help you find food, as they usually aren’t going to chow down on stuff that’s deadly. However, it’s important to remember animals are willing to try any number of foods, including stuff that may be toxic. Use your best judgment in these instances to avoid getting sick.

What else can animals teach us about staying alive in the wild? Share tips in the comments section!

DIY Treatments for Sunburns

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homemade sunscreenSummertime is an excellent time to get outside, but with hot temperatures, there comes the possibility of getting sunburned. Since the Earth’s axis is tilted, the sun’s rays hit the planet at a steeper angle during the warmer months, increasing the amount of light that strikes at a given point. Plus, the longer daylight hours mean that there’s more time for the temperatures to rise.

Consequently, there’s the potential for you and your loved ones to suffer sunburns. Depending on their severity, sunburns can be extremely painful. They can also lead to blisters, swelling, infection and even headache, fever, chills, and fatigue requiring medical attention if the sunburn is serious enough.

Most minor sunburns, however, can be treated at home using items you already have around the house. There are a few different options.

  1. Use compresses – Immediately after getting sunburned, the skin is often inflamed. You can minimize the inflammation by applying a compress. Try dipping a cloth in cold water and applying for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. For inflammation, you can also apply witch hazel with a cloth or cotton balls. For relief from itching, apply a powder with aluminum acetate.
  2. Apply natural remedies – For pain that often accompanies sunburn, you can apply several natural remedies either directly on the burn or via a cloth. These household items include water and oatmeal, boiled lettuce, yogurt, tea bags soaked in cool water, cornstarch with enough water to be mixed into a paste, and fat-free milk mixed with water and ice cubes.
  3. Take a bath – It’s important to never use soap following a burn. Soap dries and irritates the skin that’s already been damaged. Avoid bubble baths and soaking in soapy water. Instead, rinse the skin with cool (not hot) water, and consider soaking the affected area in cool water. You can also soothe the pain by adding baking soda or vinegar to the bath.
  4. Use Moisturizers – Sunburned skin is dried out, so it makes sense to add moisture back to your skin by applying moisturizing lotion. (Lotion with aloe is a plus.) Be sure to drink lots of water to add moisture back into your body as well. It also helps to eat a balanced diet to provide the nutrients your body needs to heal.
  5. Get some rest – Your body will need lots of rest in order to heal. However, sleeping on a sunburn can be a challenge. Sprinkle talcum powder on the sheets to make your bed more Plus, satin sheets can help provide relief to dry, itchy skin.

Of course, prevention is the best way to minimize the damage that sunburns can do. Use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 when going outside. Reapply sunscreen as necessary, especially after sweating and swimming. Wear protective clothing like hats that shade your face and lightweight fabrics. Try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest.

Biography of a Prepper: Lisa Bedford

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lisa bedfordAlso known as the Survival Mom, Lisa Bedford has made a name for herself in the world of prepping. As a suburban wife and mother of two children, Lisa got her start as a prepper because she wanted to protect her family and their way of life after the family business was hit hard by economic troubles. Today, she is a well-known prepping blogger, author and speaker.

It was the economic collapse of 2008 and resulting loss of financial security for millions of people, including her family, that introduced Lisa to prepping. At first, she really only focused on topics that could apply to her situation, but her research eventually evolved into a blog at a time when prepping grew into a big trend.

On her blog, Lisa offers a unique female perspective on prepping. The articles are geared towards moms, helping them worry less and enjoy peaceful homes. She includes articles on survival, emergency preparedness, homeschooling, important skills, and having a balanced work-family life. Her website also offers a store, videos, podcasts, guides, and checklists.

Lisa and her website have earned widespread attention. She appeared in an article in Newsweek magazine just four months after her blog began. Her tricks and tips have also developed into a best-selling book called Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios. Lisa even appeared on National Geographic’s prepping show Doomsday Preppers and other national TV programs like the Today Show.

Lisa strongly believes that there’s power and peace in being prepared, and that is something that every family wants. With so much uncertainty about the future, we live in a world where one major event could rip the rug right out from under us. Millions of people are realizing that events like an economic collapse, terrorist attacks, and catastrophic natural disasters are not so unlikely anymore.

Stay Put, Stay Alive

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What to do if you are lost when hikingDid you know the majority of people stranded somewhere in the woods/jungle/desert/etc. are rescued within 72 hours? This means staying where you are is a great, great thing if you find yourself alone in the wild. Review what you need to do while awaiting rescue to help yourself as well as those looking for you.

Don’t Panic

To quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t panic. Panicking will not help you in any way; it simply leaves you upset and likely a bit dehydrated from hyperventilating. Take a few deep breaths, tell yourself that you’re making the best of the situation until you get rescued, and remind yourself you have the survival skills necessary to remain alive in the wild for a day or three.

Build a Fire

Building a fire is the key to warmth, keeping large predators away, and letting rescue teams know where you are. There are’s numerous options for making fire in the wilderness without matches or lighters; however, if you have such items with you, you’re already one step ahead. Place green vegetation on top of the fire to create smoke and alert people to your location.

Use Reflective Materials

Reflective materials such as mirrors, metal, and anything else that sunlight bounces off of is another way to alert rescue teams to your whereabouts without having to move an inch.

Make Noise

Whether using whistles, pieces of metal, or your own voice, making noise is also key in letting people know where you are. This doesn’t mean you should scream your head off within the first 20 minutes and lose your voice, but any noise you can make will help your cause. As with fire, it will also keep animals away, as our four-legged friends tend to steer clear of loud noises.

Remember, save your energy and avoid dehydration by staying where you are.

Have you ever been stranded somewhere in the wild? What did you do to let rescuers know where you were?

Make Your Own Survival Knife

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In a survival situation, a knife is a critical piece of gear to have. A good old-fashioned knife can do all sorts of things. It can help cut wood for a fire, fashion traps to catch food, fight off predators, make tools, drive in stakes, cut bandages for first aid and much more. Consequently, it is an essential part of an emergency kit and/or survival pack.

So what if something happens and you don’t have one on hand? Your best bet is to make one yourself.

The materials and tools you’ll need for your DIY survival knife are:

  • A hacksaw blade
  • Paracord
  • An electric grinder
  • A file
  • Scissors
  • A lighter
  • Hand, ear and eye protection

Start by gripping the hacksaw blade in your hand. This will give you an idea of where the grip will be. Make a mark where your index finger is and begin grinding away with the electric grinder. Cut into the blade about 1/4” and taper the handle back. Then sharpen the edges of the front of the blade down to a point.

For the handle, take an inch of the paracord and place it against the handle near the top. Hold this piece in place while wrapping the paracord around itself all the way to the bottom of the handle. Pull the last little bit of the cord through the last round, snip it, and then burn it.

Take an arm’s length of the paracord and use a strider weave running along the handle. See the video for detailed instructions.

Once this is complete, you can then sharpen the knife and it’s ready to go!

5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill this Summer

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lower power bills

For most families, summer is a time of the year when they see their electric bills spike. Of course, the air conditioner is one of the biggest culprits of this increase in energy usage. Just a few degrees higher in temperature outside means that your air conditioner is working harder to keep the indoors comfortable; next thing you know, you get a (not-so) nice surprise in your electric bill.

There are, however, ways to save money on your electric bill this summer.

  1. Keep your air cooling system in top shape – Be sure to have your air conditioner and/or cooling system inspected before the hot temperatures arrive. This will ensure that it will be operating at peak efficiency. Be sure to check your air conditioner’s filter and change it regularly throughout the summer. The unit has to work extra hard when the filter is dirty.

You may need to install a programmable thermostat so you don’t have to constantly mess with the temperature in your residence. There are even self-regulating models that learn your home and away patterns and adjust the temperature accordingly.

  1. Install air conditioners in the warmest rooms – This may seem like a no-brainer, but individual air conditioning units in the warmest rooms of the house can help save money. Older homes especially have one or two rooms that don’t cool off as well as the rest of the house. Use the unit when you’re in the room and turn it off when you leave again.
  2. Take advantage of ceiling fans – Ceiling fans can go a long way in keeping your cooling costs lower this summer. When used properly, ceiling fans can save you as much as 40 percent! Make sure the ceiling fan is running in a counterclockwise direction in the summer to keep the cool air circulating. Only use it when in the room, and turn it off when you leave.
  3. Check around your windows – Windows can be a major outlet of cool air in the summer. In order to minimize your loss, make sure to check for leaks and cracks around windows and doors. Caulk or insulating foam can be used to fill the gaps. Also consider keeping blinds and curtains closed to minimize sunlight coming in through windows.
  1. Cut down on using appliances – Appliances around the house have a tendency to make the temperature inside creep up. Two popular culprits are the oven and clothes dryer. You might want to hang your clothes outside to dry during the summer and plan your meals so that you don’t have to use the oven as much.

Although it takes some effort, cutting down on energy costs in the summer means extra money for other things. You can use your savings to splurge on an exciting family activity or road trip!

Prepping Like a Pirate Part 3: Protecting Your Survival Cache

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The last major part of creating a useful survival stash is keeping your cache protected. Since you’re meant to bury your survival cache and leave it by itself for a rainy day, there’s no active defense against it being found or damaged, so after you’re sure it’s buried somewhere secure, you have to take steps to keep it safe and sound until you need it.

*Prepping Like a Pirate is a 3-part series on creating and hiding your own survival cache. Each part will cover a specific topic about survival caches to get you started with building your own cache.

Protecting Your Survival Cache

Now that you have the contents laid out and have a great place to hide your stash, how do you keep the contents of your cache and the cache itself safe? It’s best to start with how your cache is stored. Even if it can be perfectly hidden from people, it’ll be just as useless as a stolen cache if your container leaks and the contents inside break down.

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Waterproofing – If you want the contents of your cache to stay safe, focus on waterproofing as much as possible. Every item in your cache should be in its own sealed plastic bag to make sure a failure in one bag doesn’t affect other items. These then should be stored in some form or watertight container.

Anything that’s made of metal should be heavily oiled or greased and packed away fully disassembled, including guns. Pack items that must remain dry with desiccant packets as well to absorb any remaining moisture.

Safety from Discovery – Once you have your cache waterproofed and sealed up, you need to make sure nobody discovers it. While this is mostly done by choosing a great hiding spot, you need to give it good offensive measures, too.

You have to try to think of all the ways someone might come across your cache and be proactive in stopping them from finding it. For example, how do you keep someone with a metal detector from finding your cache? This may not even be someone trying to loot your cache, but just a kid having fun looking for coins that finds something they weren’t expecting.

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Avoiding Metal Detectors – This is a fairly common means of discovery, and thankfully it’s easy to avoid. Bury your cache at least four feet deep, then find a piece of metal like a license plate and bury it above your cache about two feet from the surface. This way, anyone that hits on that spot will dig down two feet and find the junk metal, put the dirt back, and move on to the next spot.

OpSec – As with any other part of prepping, you want to practice operational security as much as possible when hiding your cache. What you don’t want is for someone to see you walking into the woods with a large sealed tube and a shovel and leaving with only the shovel.

It’s best to hide your cache at night if you’re heading into the woods or an urban building, making sure to keep your light dim and down as much as possible to avoid attention. If you’re hiding a cache in your backyard, it gets a little trickier. Neighbors love to snoop, and as such, they’d probably notice you digging a hole at 2 a.m.

Try finding another reason to dig the hole to cover your tracks, like planting a new bush or flower bed. Nobody should notice you digging the hole extra deep or a little wider than normal. Leave the hole till dark, carry your cache out, and you’re all set.

Everything Else

As for the specifics of how to build your survival cache, that’s a topic deserving of its own article. There are a variety of specific options for choosing just the right gun, knife, food, water, and especially the container for your cache; that’s just too much to cover here.

Hopefully you now have the basics of what a survival cache is and how to get started with your own. You could definitely start your own cache with this information and be far better off.

A great point to end on is that water is your enemy. Somehow, some way, you’ll always have some moisture to deal with in your cache, but the goal is to minimize it as much as possible. By packing your cache correctly and using a non-metal, waterproof container to store it in, your own version of pirate treasure will be waiting for you when you need it the most.

How to Keep Your Kids Safe around Water

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keep kids safe around waterChances are that you and your loved ones will want to keep cool this summer by being around the water. Beaches, pools, water parks, and lakes are all popular destinations for families wanting relief from hot temperatures. However, the water can be dangerous for children. About 1,000 kids die each year by drowning, and it’s the second leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5 to 24.

The good news, however, is that there are many precautions that parents can take to ensure that their kids are safe around the water.

  • Never leave your children unattended. They need constant supervision when in or near water including places you’d least expect it like ditches, fountains, inflatable pools, the bathtub and even the sink. It doesn’t take much for a child to drown. In fact, babies can drown in as much as an inch of water.
  • In public areas, always swim in areas supervised by lifeguards and use the buddy system.
  • Have children older than four take swimming lessons. Those older than age one might also benefit. Adults in the family should know how to swim and consider taking a CPR class.
  • Invest in flotation devices for each child, and have the kids wear them when near the water. These devices should fit properly. For kids younger than five, use a vest with head support and a strap between the legs.
  • Teach your children to never play in the water without your supervision or that of a trusted, responsible adult.
  • Build a fence around your home pool. Use a gate that is self-closing and self-latching with the latch out of the kid’s reach.
  • Bring a cell phone with you when watching kids playing in water. However, keep conversations brief so you won’t be distracted.
  • Make sure kids wear foot protection in ponds and lakes.
  • Know which rides are appropriate for your children at water parks.
  • To cut down on waterborne illnesses, take your kids on bathroom breaks often and shower before entering the pool. Babies who are not potty trained need swim

The water is an excellent place for staying cool in hot temperatures but there are dangers, especially for children. Keep your kids safe by taking precautions to ensure their safety.

Prepping Like a Pirate Part 2: Hiding Your Survival Cache

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So where do you hide your cache? Think about where you are on a regular basis and where it would be safe pretty consistently. Your hiding spot should be somewhere you’ll always be able to access, and it should be somewhere that isn’t going to change in a significant manner for a very long time.

Just like the old infomercial for the rotisserie oven, when it comes to a survival cache, you should ideally “set it and forget it,” meaning you should build your cache and hide it somewhere that you’ll be able to get to in an emergency, but you won’t be checking on it every day or even every month. Ideally, it should stay in place; unless there’s a good reason for it, you shouldn’t see your cache again until it’s needed.

Part two of the Prepping Like a Pirate series covers where to hide your cache and ways to make sure your cache is still there and in working order when the time comes to use it. I’ve collected some basic tips that could make the difference between your cache being there or not when it comes time to grab it and go.

*Prepping Like a Pirate is a 3-part series on creating and hiding your own survival cache. Each part will cover a specific topic about survival caches to get you started with building your own cache.

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Choosing a Survival Cache Location

Guarantee Access – When it comes to hiding your cache, you don’t want to choose a random field to dig a hole and drop your cache into. It would be a shame to need your cache and find a shopping mall where the field used to be. Instead, think of places like established parks, forests, and other protected areas that, for the most part, won’t be changing anytime soon.

Think about what might happen in the months and years after you hide your cache, and plan accordingly. Protected land is great, but even that isn’t guaranteed. Steer clear of traveled trails and natural clearings, as these are prime spots for construction and changes to the environment.

Urban Environments – If you’re in an urban environment, this gets a little trickier. You want to hide your cache somewhere that you’ll be able to access but not be noticed. Abandoned buildings are great, but they tend to catch fire and be torn down, or be remodeled and used again. Any of these scenarios would separate you from your carefully created cache.

Watch for Flooding – Finally, you want to pay attention to the environment around your proposed cache location. Even if your cache is waterproof, you don’t want to keep it somewhere that’s prone to flooding. Water damage is always a concern, but the land can change dramatically during a flood, causing the area to look very different, or even washing your cache away forever. Worse yet, it might still be where you left it, but now it’s under 20 feet of water.

If you’re opening up your cache, that means things are pretty dire, so you don’t want to be searching unsuccessfully during an emergency.; you want it to be right where you left it and easy to grab.

First Aid for Heat-Related Illnesses

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Heat Exhaustion

With warmer weather fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about ways to stay cool this summer.  There are a variety of heat-related illnesses that can strike you and your loved ones. These illnesses are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures, typically occurring in the summer months.

It’s important to remember that the elderly, the obese, children and those who work outside are at a greater risk of suffering from hyperthermia, an elevated internal body temperature. Athletes who exercise in hot weather are also at an increased risk. Those who live in humid environments may be more susceptible as well.

Here are some common heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

  • Overheating – Overheating is an elevated body temperature that occurs when the body tries to cool itself through profuse sweating. The first symptoms of overheating that many people experience is muscle cramps. Cramps are caused by the loss of salt and other minerals through sweating. If you experience heat cramps, drink water with a snack or consume a sports drink with electrolytes. Seek medical attention if the cramps last more than an hour.
  • Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion occurs with the loss of an excessive amount of water and electrolytes through sweating. This loss can cause problems with circulation and brain function. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches, nausea, irritability and the decreased ability to urinate. You can treat heat exhaustion by moving the person to a cooler location and having them lie down. Loosen their clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to their body. Have them take small, frequent sips of water. If they lose consciousness or have slurred speech, call 911 immediately.
  • Heat stroke – The most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke, can cause death or permanent disability without emergency medical treatment. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature. Sweating stops and the body can’t cool itself. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion or an altered mental state, a loss of consciousness, hot/dry skin and seizures. If someone around you is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler area and try to reduce their body temperature with cold cloths or submersion in cold water if possible.

Being proactive can decrease the risk of overheating and heat-related illnesses this summer. When the temperatures warm up, there are some things you can do like wearing loose, lightweight clothing and drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid alcoholic beverages and other drinks that dehydrate you.

If you plan to be outside, let your body acclimate to the heat and avoid sunburns by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen. Never leave children or pets in a parked car. Remember to pay attention to your body and seek a cooler location if you experience symptoms related to heat exposure.

Prepping Like a Pirate Part 1: Survival Cache Basics

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Pirates are rarely used as role models, and for good reason. They’re known for theft, murder, and all-around bad behavior, so how exactly can they be used to help you prep for a disaster? It’s not their love of rum or treasure that matters to the modern-day prepper, but rather it’s what they did with their treasure that should interest you. Pirates buried their treasure in various locations to keep it safe and allow it to hide in plain sight. By burying their treasure, they could spread their wealth across multiple locations so it was available to them wherever they were should an emergency come up.

Today you probably don’t have a treasure chest to bury, but instead you can create a survival cache for yourself and bury it for a rainy day. Don’t let the name fool you; a cache is just a group of things hidden in a secret place, and it’s these hidden stores of weapons, supplies, and sure, even a little treasure, that can get you back on your feet in a hurry after a disaster strikes.

*Prepping Like a Pirate is a 3-part series on creating and hiding your own survival cache. Each part will cover a specific topic about survival caches to get you started with building your own.

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Items to Include in a Survival Cache

A survival cache is defined by what is included in it. There are different routes to take based on what you intend the cache to be used for. There are large caches that can include weeks of supplies, medium caches that include a few days of supplies, and there are small, directed caches that include a weapon, some ammo, and enough water and food to get you moving on quickly.

When talking about directed caches, these are focused on specific items, including mostly food, mostly weapons, or mostly general supplies. For example, if you have a cabin in the middle of nowhere you plan on using as a bug-out spot, you’d probably want food, water, and weapons there waiting for you. However, leaving them in the cabin is just asking for them to be stolen. Instead, you could build a few hidden caches around your property for these items to keep them safe and hidden.

General Cache – A good general cache should have everything you need to get up and moving. The only thing that will change is the amounts of the items you include to increase or decrease its size. Think of these as you would your bug-out bag. You want everything to keep you moving for at least the next 72 hours. This should include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Change of clothes
  • Boots
  • Knife
  • Gun
  • Ammo
  • Cash or precious metals
  • First aid kit

The general cache is a mixed bag of everything you need to survive.

Directed Cache – These types of caches are far more difficult to describe, as they are built with your specifics in mind. Maybe you want a weapons cache in your backyard so they’re hidden from intruders and accessible even during a large-scale emergency or house fire. Maybe you want a cache with your precious metals in it to keep them safe from the prying eyes of your neighbors or even the government. Or, maybe you want a cache of fuel hidden for you to bug out with.

Whatever the case, these are built to fit your specific needs. Just remember that it’s probably smart to include a little food and water in most caches as well as a weapon in all non-weapon caches so you have that little bit of extra help, just in case.

How to Survive a Drone Attack

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drone attackDrones, or unmanned, remote-controlled flight vehicles, are proving to have many uses. In the past, they have been used mostly for military operations and intelligence gathering. However, we’re seeing more and more uses in everyday life. They can be used for everything from surveillance, scientific research, and rescue operations to food delivery, photography, and monitoring the weather.

The FAA predicts there will be over 30,000 drones in U.S. airspace by 2030. The bad news is drones can still be used for deadly force. Could terrorist groups use drones to launch attacks against Americans? What happens if criminals get their hands on drones?

In the future, drone attacks could become more commonplace. The average American doesn’t really have to worry about being attacked by drones, but drone technology could eventually find its way into the wrong hands.

So what kinds of things can you do to protect you and your loved ones from a drone attack?

The first key is to make it more difficult for drones to find you. It’s harder for drones to identify a person when they are under thick cover from trees and brush. Consider camouflaging your home, property and vehicles by covering them with foliage and mud.

Drones are incredibly effective because some of them use infrared detection. That means that they see heat, like from human bodies, a warm home, or a fire. However, certain materials will block a drone’s capacity to detect body heat. These materials include aluminum, gold, plexiglass, and several types of pigment coating. These substances can be used as coverings for people as well as animals and dwellings.

It’s also always a good idea to have an underground shelter in which to hide if you know a drone attack is imminent. These underground shelters need to be made of materials that will keep the occupants safe from the bombs or missiles and the resulting fire from the explosions. Drone attacks have been known to cause severe burns.

Of course, these underground shelters will need to be outfitted beforehand with everything you need to survive until the threat has passed. Stock an underground shelter with emergency supplies like those found in a 72-hour kit like extra food and water, a first aid kit, radio, and so on.

Unfortunately, drone attacks are hard to detect. They often catch people unaware. Moreover, most people are not familiar with the sights and sounds of drones. Maybe, as drones become more common, we will be able to recognize them and develop advanced warning systems.

5 Knife Myths and the Truth Behind Them

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Myth |ˈmith| (n) – A widely held but false belief or idea; a misrepresentation of the truth.

The problem with myths is that they often come from people that seem to know what they’re talking about and are often intermixed with the truth. When talking about knives, it’s all too easy for us to accept myths because it’s often what is offered up to us.

Knives are an essential part of survival and prepping, so getting your facts straight on them is crucial to proper prepping. Let’s dispel the top five myths about knives and finally set the record straight.

Myth #1: Forged Knives are Stronger

In the world of knives, there are two key production techniques: stamping and forging. Stamped blades are literally stamped out of a sheet of metal by a machine before being ground, sharpened, and assembled. Forged knives, on the other hand, are heated and hammered into shape before the finishing process turns them into actual knives.

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While it seems like a forged knife would be stronger thanks to the heating and cooling process and all the handmade love it receives, it’s simply not true. In the past, forging a tool helped to remove impurities in the metal, giving the finished product a much stronger makeup. Today, however, the metal used in the stamping process is surprisingly hard and strong.

Sure, low-quality knives are made in the stamped production process, but that doesn’t mean ALL stamped knives are ineffective. It does mean this is a way for you to save some money over a forged knife and still get a great, long-lasting tool.

Myth #2: More Expensive Knives are Better

Speaking of the price of your knife, it stands to reason that the more expensive a knife is, the higher quality it is too. When talking about knives, the difference in price from highest to lowest is staggering.

Sure, a $30 knife is almost guaranteed to be leaps and bounds better than a $10 knife, but is that $200 knife really that much better than, say, a $50 one?

When it comes right down to it, what you need to do is try a few knives out at your local outdoor store and read the reviews online. There are amazing knives out there for $30 that rival $100+ models, but in the end it’s all about what you like the most and what will last. Just remember, more money doesn’t always mean more quality.

Myth #3: Some Knives Never Need to be Sharpened

Back to the cost of a knife, it’s a commonly held belief that expensive knives require less sharpening due to their hardness. While yes, a harder metal will hold a blade longer, in the end every blade requires regular sharpening to stay effective.

There is no such thing as a blade that never needs sharpening, no matter how the knife is marketed. To keep your blade in top working order, it should be sharpened on a regular basis, regardless of the price or quality of the knife.

Myth #4: Stainless Steel Never Rusts

The name of stainless steel can be a little misleading, as it’s not truly stainless at all. Given enough time and mistreatment, even the best stainless steel blade will rust and stain.

Stainless steel blades are definitely highly resistant to rusting, but that’s it — just resistant. That means that even the best stainless steel knife must be maintained routinely with sharpening and oiling. Keeping your knife clean, sharp, and oiled is the only way to stave off rust and stains and keep it like new for years to come.

Myth #5: Assisted Open Knives are Switchblades

This myth is often held by those who are not super familiar with knives, but it’s still worth repeating. Automatic knives, or switchblades, are knives that are commonly used as weapons due to their ability to quickly deploy with the press of a button. While not always used as weapons, they are often illegal to carry and considered very dangerous by law enforcement.

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Assisted open knives, on the other hand, have springs inside them that help a blade to open more easily once you start the opening process yourself. These knives cannot open on their own and are made to make one-handed opening a breeze.

Assisted open knives are definitely not meant to be weapons, and they are rarely, if ever, classified as such by law enforcement. They are efficient, easy-to-use tools that open easily and quickly for immediate use.

Wrap-Up

Knives are such an important part of survival and prepping that knowing the facts about them is crucial to your overall survival plan. Not only do you need to have a solid knife to depend on in an emergency, but you also need to make sure you’re not wasting your money on something you don’t need.

Know the facts and buy your next knife with confidence. Remember, the knife in your pocket could very well save your life, so know the facts and treat it with respect.

5 Tips for Having a Successful Garden

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Organic GardeningSpring is a popular time to get outside after a long, cold winter. It’s harder to stay inside on a beautiful, sunny day. One of the ways that you can get outside in the nice weather is to plant a garden, and gardening has many benefits. By growing your own food, you can control what you eat, save money, and protect the environment.

However, many people I know complain that gardening requires too much effort. Between work and family, a lot of people just don’t have the time to put in the work that gardening takes. Or they’ve tried gardening in the past and failed miserably. Perhaps they jumped in without adequate preparation.

The good news about gardening, though, is that it doesn’t take that much effort. Once the seeds are planted, the gardener can step back a little and let Mother Nature do her thing. Plus, gardening isn’t hard to learn. Millions of people have discovered the satisfaction of this hobby.

In order to have a successful garden this year, consider the following tips.

  1. Plan ahead – This is the most crucial stage of your gardening efforts. Many people start gardening without planning ahead and then wonder what went wrong. The planning stage is the part where you determine what will be planted, when, and where. Of course, this should be done well in advance of the growing season. Location is important. Successful gardens need at least seven hours of sunlight a day and should be located close to a water source.
  2. Choose the soil – The foundation of a good garden is the soil. Most vegetable plants need rich soil. However, your yard might not be ideal for what you want to grow. It’s a good idea to discover what is good for growing in your local area and what isn’t. If your soil isn’t the best, though, you can use framed beds for planting in your own soil mix or a store-bought variety.
  3. Use your own fertilizer – Even though there are a variety of fertilizers available for purchase, making your own is a win-win. You keep kitchen, yard, and garden debris out of landfills, and compost enriches the soil for your plants. In general, organic waste from around the house makes the best compost ingredients.
  4. Rotate your crops – It’s not recommended that gardeners grow the same crops in the same place year after year. The soil needs time to regain its fertility. Plus, crop rotation reduces problems with diseases and disease-causing organisms.
  5. Control for weeds and pests – Weeds and pests can pop up at any time and lay waste to your garden. Don’t let your garden be susceptible; tend to it regularly. By being proactive with some TLC, you can avoid disaster. Chances are you will discover the pleasure of gardening after a successful growing season.

Coyotes & Bobcats: Small(er) Predator Encounter Tips

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coyote predatorCoyotes and bobcats are among the smaller predators in our world, but that doesn’t mean they can’t rip you apart if they have the inclination. We’ve already discussed what to do should you encounter a cougar, bear, moose or shark, so let’s take a brief look at how to handle smaller predators without serious injury.

Coyotes

These members of the wolf family are known for their cunning and adaptability. They generally keep to themselves unless gathering to howl at the moon. They have no issue being brazen should they realize humans aren’t a threat. If you happen upon a coyote, do not try to feed it unless you want a wild animal sniffing around your property a whole lot. Throw rocks or yell at it to scare it away, and don’t keep garbage or pets outdoors. If you are walking your dog in a coyote-heavy area, put it on a leash.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare, but they do happen.

Bobcats

The wild kitties are increasingly present in urban areas thanks to their adaptable natures. They possess the ability to attack and take down animals up to eight times their weight; however, they will likely flee the scene if you come upon them. If a bobcat takes up residence on your property, you don’t have much to worry about unless you have pets or livestock. If that’s the case, block as many entrances to your property as you can, and never leave food out, whether it’s pet food, garbage, etc.

As with cougars, you don’t want to run if you see a bobcat, as it might mistake you for food and begin a pursuit. Back away slowly and make a lot of noise instead.

Other small predators include badgers, but they pose little threat to humans despite their somewhat ferocious-looking appearance. The honey badger is especially amazing, as its thick, rubber-like skin is one of the many reasons the animal has been dubbed “the world’s most fearless creature.”

Have you encountered one of the above animals? What was your experience?

3 Tips for Surviving a Knife Attack

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self-defense-knife-laws

The old saying goes, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight,” and while this is pretty solid advice, the odds of being attacked by a knife-wielding attacker in a survival situation is very realistic. When the SHTF, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be more people out there with knives than with guns, making a knife attack an all-too-real possibility.

Whether you’re out of ammo or you’re taken off guard, a knife attack can be a very dangerous situation to be in — doubly so if you’re unarmed. Knowing this, there are some steps you can take to fend off a knife attack and hopefully escape unscathed. By following these tips, you can keep yourself safe and live to fight another day.

1. Stay Mobile

When dealing with a blade-wielding assailant, your greatest protection is distance. There’s a reason boxers’ stats include their reach, because that’s the effective distance of their punches. Add a few inches to that and you have the same measurement including the knife. If you can keep outside of arm’s reach, you can keep yourself from being cut.

Keep your distance, move around a lot, and run whenever it’s possible. Since he’s following you, the attacker can only move where he or she sees you moving to, so there’s a chance he or she will trip and give you the chance you’ve been waiting for.

2. Use Barriers

Anything that isn’t attached to you can be considered a barrier. These can be static objects like benches, tables, pillars, signs or mobile objects like swings, cars, or even a fire.

By placing a barrier between you and the assailant, you give yourself a head start and some advanced warning when the attacker is moving in. They need to clear the obstacle to get to you, making it significantly more difficult. Once you get a good barrier between you and the assailant, it could even give you the chance to pull a weapon of your own or make your escape.

3. Don’t Fixate on the Weapon

The knife in an attacker’s hand is the farthest thing from his or her rotation point in their shoulder, making it the fastest-moving piece of the puzzle, yet their hand is exactly what we almost always focus on, since that’s where the knife is. Instead of focusing on the blade and hand and trying to react to them, train yourself to pay more attention to the attacker’s sternum.

Any movement his or her arm makes will start in the upper torso, meaning you can see an attack starting before it ever makes its way to the blade and possibly to you.

This doesn’t mean you should fixate on the upper torso either. Instead, use your peripheral vision to watch for any movement and act accordingly. This can give you the briefest of advanced warnings, but when dealing with a knife fight, this tiny head start can mean the world.

Everything Else

Escaping from a knife attack isn’t always possible, and sometimes you may have to stick it out and do your best. In these cases, you should protect your vital organs and block with your arms.

A slash to your arm might not be the best option, but it’s far better than taking a blade to the throat. Know that the chances are you will end up being cut one way or another, and try to minimize the severity of these cuts instead of avoiding them completely.

Keep a cool head and you might just get out of a knife attack alive.

Fight Off a Home Invasion with These Tips

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Protecting Your HomeOne of the scariest situations to find yourself in is being a victim of a home invasion. A home invasion is defined as an illegal, often forceful entry into a private dwelling with the intent to harm the occupants. Home invasions include the threat of violent crimes against homeowners including burglary, assault, murder, rape, or kidnapping. According to the FBI, about 135 home invasions happen every day in America.

So what can you do to fight off a home invasion and protect yourself and your loved ones? The first thing to do is call the police and/or trigger your home’s security alarm system. If you don’t have a security system for your house, a good alternative is to use your vehicle’s alarm system. Keep your car keys in your bedroom and trigger the alarm. Purchase a bull horn or trigger the fire alarm in life-threatening cases.

Experts say that noise is the best deterrent in a home invasion. Try yelling through a window or getting a noise box that blasts loud sound effects — anything that gets a neighbor’s attention so they can call the police. If you hear someone trying to break in, it might be best to get yourself and your family members outside and to a neighbor’s house. Sleep with all your bedroom doors open so you can hear what’s going on.

Another option is to try disabling the attacker. The attacker might be disabled by using some sort of weapon. For example, you can try spraying him or her with a can of wasp spray. Wasp spray is more powerful than mace and can reach up to 25 feet. Any intruder hit with wasp spray will be temporarily blinded. There is the option of using a handgun for self-defense in a home invasion. If you choose this option, however, be sure to know how to use it and any laws that govern its use.

Of course, the best option is preventing an invasion in the first place. Here are some suggestions for deterring a criminal.

  1. Keep the doors and windows locked. About 30 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked door or window.
  2. Set up a wireless alarm system. The majority of convicted burglars report that they intentionally avoided homes with security systems, and if these alarms were triggered, they would flee immediately. Plus, a wireless system is less vulnerable because there are no wires to be cut by the perpetrators.
  3. Plant thorny bushes around windows.

Remember that no material possession is worth your life or the lives or your loved ones. In a life-threatening situation, it might be better to cooperate with the invaders rather than risk harm.

Bet You Never Thought Of Doing This With Your Coffee Filters

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alternative coffee filter usesDid you know coffee filters are capable of much more than filtering coffee? That’s right! The stuff you use to make your morning brew offers a plethora of little-known uses, many of which are helpful in survival-esque situations. Let’s check out some of these many uses to help you strengthen your survival/homesteading skills.

Window Cleaner

Use coffee filters to clean windows without the lint. Mix together ¼ cup vinegar with 1 cup water and use the filters as a cloth to clean windows, chrome, mirrors, or anything else that needs to shine. No annoying paper or lint specs left behind. They even clean glasses, CDs, and DVD players.

Tea Bags

Turn coffee filters into tea bags when necessary. Simply place loose tea in a filter and close the opening with string.

Potted Plant Liner

Line the bottoms of planters with coffee filters to stop fine dirt particles from making their way through the planter holes and creating a mess.

Shoe Polish

Crumple a coffee filter into a little ball and use it to shine the heck out of shoes.

Shoe Deodorizer

Deodorize sweat-filled shoes by pouring baking soda into a coffee filter, tying it with twine, and placing it the offending footwear.

Facial Blotting Paper

De-grease your t-zone with coffee filters if you don’t have any actual blotting papers available.

Laundry Static Reducer

Place a drop of lavender or another favorite essential oil on a coffee filter and add the filter to your washing machine. Clothes come out static-free and smelling great.

Food Holders

Use coffee filters as food holders for little hands. They work well with tacos, pita sandwiches and hot dogs, and they also serve as drip catchers when placed underneath frozen pops and around ice cream cones.

What are your favorite alternative uses for coffee filters? Share them in the comments section!

Could You Survive Like “The Martian”?

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martian survival skillsThe science fiction novel “The Martian” is a thrilling tale of survival. The best-selling book by Andy Weir tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney after he is abandoned on Mars and manages to survive long enough to be rescued. “The Martian” has most recently been made into a movie starring Matt Damon.

Even though the story is a work of fiction, there are several important survival lessons that we can take away from it.

  1. Problem Solving – As a scientist and astronaut, Watney is exceptional in his problem-solving abilities. His expertise as a botanist means he’s able to grow his own food, and his engineering background gives him a leg up in fixing and rigging equipment to suit his purposes. It seems that there is no problem that Watney cannot overcome with a little bit of ingenuity.
  2. Using What’s at Hand – Watney has to rely on a variety of different materials he already has on hand for his survival. For example, he establishes communication with NASA by using a lander from a previous Mars mission. He makes use of space suits, human waste, and even good old-fashioned duct tape to stay alive. Watney demonstrates that it’s essential in any survival situation to use whatever is available.
  3. Communication – One of the keys to Watney’s eventual rescue is his ability to establish communication with NASA. There are many individuals who work together to come up with a successful plan to save Watney once they know he’s alive. However, this partnership wouldn’t have been possible without Watney being able to communicate with Earth. His communication with NASA also provides a psychological and emotional boost. When Watney loses his link to NASA in a freak accident, he suddenly finds himself desperately alone and flying blind.
  4. Relying on Others – Even though Watney is alone on Mars, there is a whole team back on Earth that will do anything to see him rescued before he runs out of food. This team involves members of NASA, the crew that left him behind, and even space agencies in other countries. Watney has to depend on others to get himself home.
  5. Not Giving Up – As the first human being to be stranded on Mars, Watney faces a series of problems that no one has ever had to deal with. These include making water, having enough oxygen, and encountering Martian storms. However, he does face similar problems that those of us back on Earth deal with in emergency situations: getting enough food, staying warm, and waiting for rescue. He encounters problem after problem, and it’s difficult not to be impressed by Watney’s survival mindset. He is determined to live despite the odds against him. This might be the most important aspect of survival: perseverance.

How to Survive a Gunshot Wound

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edc gunWould you know what to do if you or someone near you were shot? Gunshot wounds aren’t that common. In fact, usually only soldiers, law enforcement personnel, and maybe hunters need to worry about what to do if they are shot. Still, random shootings can and do happen. Probably no one in the Aurora, Colorado theater on July 20, 2012 expected to be suffering gunshot wounds that night.

Fortunately, advances in medical technology have dramatically increased the chances of surviving a gunshot wound. If you or someone else is shot, the most critical factor is getting professional medical attention as soon as possible by calling 911. Of course, your ability to call for medical attention, and also survive the wound depends heavily on where the bullet entered your body.

In general, gunshot wounds to the head and the trunk or torso are more deadly than a gunshot wound to an extremity. The most dangerous place for a gunshot wound is the head, and wounds to the heart and liver cause a serious amount of bleeding. In order to increase your chances of survival, it’s important to assess where the wound entered the body, and then take steps to control the bleeding and prevent infection before medical help arrives.

Here are some guidelines of what to do when gunshot wounds occur to these specific parts of the body:

  • Head – If a bullet lodges in the brain, it’s unlikely that the person will survive. However, if the bullet just grazes the head or hits a non-vital area, chances of survival are better. The key to survival in these cases is controlling the bleeding. Head injuries tend to bleed profusely, and you’re likely to bleed to death if the bullet pierces the carotid artery in the neck. Be sure to apply direct pressure to the wound.
  • The chest – The chest contains many vital organs including the heart, lungs, and spine. Try not to move if shot in the chest. There will probably be internal bleeding. Plus, if the bullet is near the spine, any movement could cause paralysis. The only thing to do is to try to plug the entrance and/or exit wounds with a solid object to make it easier to breathe.
  • Abdomen – Injuries to the abdomen are incredibly dangerous because of the risk of bleeding and the potential for infection. A bullet wound to the intestines can cause massive damage. Don’t drink or eat anything until medical help arrives and places a dressing on the wound.
  • The arms and legs – When shot in the arms and legs, it’s important to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure and elevating the appendage above the heart. Arteries in the arms and legs can bleed significantly.

Thankfully, we live in an age where it is more likely to survive a gunshot wound. However, there are a lot of variables to surviving a gunshot wound including proximity to professional medical help and location of the wound. With some basic medical training and calling for help right away, you are more likely to survive.

Mental Health First Aid

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Mental ToughnessMany of us know and can apply the basics of first aid. We understand that to stop bleeding, we put pressure on the wound. A sprained ankle is treated with RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. But less of us understand the basics of mental health first aid, or even recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse in the first place.

It is important to at least know the basics of mental illness, because, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, one in five Americans has a mental illness. What makes mental health first aid more difficult is that the symptoms of mental illness are often hard to detect. Moreover, the person with the condition is usually hesitant to seek help. A lot of stigma surrounds mental health, so the person who is suffering might not know where to turn for help.

That’s where we can come in. Learning mental health first aid means that you are able to recognize the symptoms of mental illness, provide initial help, and connect the person to a wide variety of resources. A mental health first aid course teaches the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses including depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance abuse disorders.

By taking a class, you’ll be able to help a person experiencing things like hallucinations, panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, and an overdose of alcohol or drugs. The mental health first aid plan includes the following steps.

1. Assess for risk of harm or risk of suicide – Anyone in a mental crisis needs to be assessed for risk of harm to him or herself. This includes thoughts of suicide. Some of the warning signs of suicide include threats to harm oneself, talking about death or dying, hopelessness, irritability or anger, withdrawing from friends or family, and risky behaviors. Be sure to ask the person if they have a plan to harm him or herself. If they do have a plan, seek out emergency medical services right away.

2. Listen to their story – If the person is not in immediate risk, ask the person to describe what’s going on. It’s important to listen nonjudgmentally and use active listening skills. It also helps to treat the other person with dignity and respect and not to blame the person for their illness. Blaming only increases the stigma surrounding mental illness.

3. Encourage professional help – During the conversation, help the person explore his or her formal and informal resources. Formal supports include doctors, counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals. Informal resources include family, friends, and other places of emotional support.

4. Develop an action plan – An action plan sets out what the person is going to do next in order to get help. It could include coping strategies such as relaxation techniques, exercise, meditation, and participation in support groups. It helps if the individual comes up with his or her own action plan.

To find out where you can take a course in mental health first aid, visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

4 Changes You Can Make for More Sustainable Living

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Sustainable livingMost people would agree that helping out the environment is a good thing. After all, most of us want to make sure our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy the places and natural resources that we enjoy today. On the other hand, actually living a more sustainable lifestyle — one that reduces our individual and societal impact on Earth’s resources — is sometimes more difficult. Sustainable living means giving up some of the conveniences of modern society and doing things differently than we’ve already done.

The good news, though, is that sustainable living is not overwhelming or hard to do. It just takes a few simple changes to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are some tips for more sustainable living:

  • Just say no to plastic – Plastic has a tendency to end up in landfills, and they are not biodegradable, so it takes 1,000 years or more to break down. Plastic spoils landscapes and waterways. Instead, use containers for food and water that are reusable. Glass or ceramic containers for food as well as metal for water are more eco-friendly. You can also switch to reusable grocery bags and then recycle plastic bags if you end up using them now and then.
  • Cut down on water waste – Washing the dishes with a free-flowing faucet wastes a lot of water. Cut down on water waste by filling up two sinks, one to wash and one to rinse. If you only have one sink, try picking up biodegradable metal containers. Fill one with hot, soapy water and the other with clean hot water. After you are done washing and rinsing the dishes, you can use the leftover water to hydrate plants as long as the soap is biodegradable.
  • Make your own cleaning products – Cleaning products can be expensive, and the chemical agents in them can be harsh on the environment. Cut down on their environmental impact by making your own cleaning products or purchasing organic cleaners. You can make your own all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent and hygiene products.
  • Cut down on electronic waste – Most electronic devices continue to draw energy even when they are turned off. You can cut down on electronic waste by unplugging your cords when not in use or by plugging the cords into a power strip and turning it off.

Ultimately, sustainable living does take a conscious effort on our part. It means making a few small changes now in order to reduce our larger impact over time.

DIY: 5 Common Seasoning Mixes

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DIY seasoning mixesFor many of us, we want to be independent and have control over what we eat. This desire leads us to hunt, fish and garden — all activities that can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. But have you ever thought about making your own seasoning mixes? Seasoning mixes and spices are used in a wide variety of delicious, everyday recipes. Most of us don’t think twice about picking up seasonings or spices at the grocery store, but there’s an alternative that can save you money.

Making your own homemade seasoning mixes has many advantages to store-bought packs. First of all, making your own seasonings cuts down on expenses. Certain spices are extremely expensive to buy at the grocery store. A 1-ounce container of pumpkin pie spice costs around $5.00! Making your own spices also cuts down on trips to the grocery store if you need only a little bit for a particular recipe. This can be especially helpful for moms who don’t want to go through the trouble of bringing along their kids.

In addition, making your own seasoning mixes means that you can control what ingredients are added to them. Take a look at seasoning mixes or spices at the store and you’ll see ingredients like MSG, sugar, modified food starch, gluten, and silicone dioxide. Plus, making your own spices and mixes is simple. All the tools you need are the ingredients, measuring spoons, and glass jars. Just mix the components together and store in an airtight container.

Here are some simple DIY recipes for popular seasoning mixes and spices:

  1. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients:
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash cayenne

  1. Poultry Seasoning

Ingredients:
2 3/4 tsp. rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper

  1. Chili Powder

Ingredients:
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Allspice

Mix equal parts of:
nutmeg
cinnamon
cloves

Overall, it pays to make your own seasonings and spices. You can control what you put in there, and it saves you time and money from not having to pick them up from the grocery store. Seasonings and spices also last a long time so they are a good addition to any prepper’s storage or emergency supply. Try it for yourself!

Off Grid Cooking Methods + Dutch Oven Recipe

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dutch oven cookingCooking is an essential life skill. Everyone must learn the basics of cooking at some point. And when it comes to survival, knowing how to cook off the grid is a must. Being able to boil water and cook meat using primitive methods can mean the difference between life and death in some emergency situations.

Off-the-grid cooking is more challenging and time consuming in the absence of electricity and modern conveniences. However, it can also be more rewarding. There is nothing more gratifying than making a full, hot meal for yourself and your family by cooking like the pioneers did two centuries ago.

The basic foundation of cooking off the grid is learning how to build an outdoor fire. In a pinch, a fire serves as a cooking method as well as a source of heat for staying warm. Fires can be fueled with wood, charcoal or even dung. Place a Dutch oven or reflector oven on the fire pit and you can make casseroles, pies, cobblers, cakes, bread, beans and stews.

Dutch oven cooking, in particular, is extremely popular; whole cookbooks are dedicated to it. Here’s a simple recipe for baked beans using a Dutch oven.

Fortunately, modern technology has made off-the-grid cooking even easier through the use of stoves that employ many different kinds of fuel sources. Outdoor camping stoves are lightweight, extremely versatile in terms of fuel, and great for boiling water or reheating. Some of these stoves have internal battery packs and can even charge cell phones! Other types of off-the-grid cooking methods include propane grills, solar stoves, and woodstoves.

The trick to off-the-grid cooking is finding a method you’re comfortable with and then practicing. The more that you practice, the more you will grow in your confidence, knowledge, and skills.

Have You Made These Essential Updates to Your Long-Term Storage?

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emergency-food-storage-canned-foodWhether or not you consider yourself to be a prepper, it’s always a good idea to have a food storage supply for emergencies. You’ll want some extra food and water on hand that will last for a few days or weeks when natural disasters, power outages, severe winter storms, and man-made calamities occur. In these situations, you might find yourself without the basics of survival.

Even if you do have an emergency food and water supply, it is recommended to take an inventory of your food storage items at least once a year. That way you can assess your current state of readiness and update your food and non-food items as needed. Chances are that you’ll need to remove some items and add others.

Here are some things to look for when updating your long-term food storage items.

  • Expiration date – Almost all food items have an expiration date. Check the date on the item or package. Get rid of those items that are expired and replace them. There are a few food items that will never spoil including honey, salt, sugar, baking soda, instant coffee, bottled water, white rice, and powdered milk. Consider investing in these particular items because they can last a lifetime using proper storage methods.
  • Nonfood items – Even though nonfood items will never expire, check the condition of these things. Items like knives, guns, tents, clothes, stoves, radios and tools might need to be cleaned and/or repaired. It’s always frustrating to discover that the item doesn’t work right when you want it. Make sure these items are still in working condition and have fresh batteries if applicable. Check the supplies in your first aid kits and replace any medicines that have expired.
  • Storage containers – When taking your inventory, it’s helpful to check the condition of food storage containers. Containers can get damaged or break down over time. Check for holes, decay, and broken seals. Your food storage supplies can last longer with proper containers that keep out moisture, insects, and are resistant to damage.
  • OrganizationBesides the items themselves, it might also be time to update how you organize your items. You can use your own methods for organization or adapt someone else’s. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for you to find items in an emergency. Consider making an updated list of supplies that lets you know what you have on hand and what you still need.

Even though it might be overwhelming to update your food storage, it’s important to do a little at a time. Set small goals for yourself throughout the year so that the process is not tedious but actually enjoyable.

Guess How Many Americans Have a Financial Backup Plan?

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budget 101It’s a fact of everyday life that the unexpected can, and often does, happen. Gathering emergency supplies and being prepared for the worst helps your chances of survival. But it’s also worth asking yourself if you and your family are prepared financially to survive the unexpected. Do you have a financial backup plan or an emergency fund to help you weather the storm?

A backup plan or emergency fund is a financial safety net to help cover unforeseen expenses or financial challenges. These include things like:

  • The loss of a job
  • Major medical problems
  • Expensive repairs
  • Rebuilding in the aftermath of a natural disaster
  • A death in the family

Studies have shown that fewer than half of American families have a financial backup plan. That means that the majority of us are only one incident away from ruin or bankruptcy. Emergency funds are needed to help when the unexpected happens.

A financial backup plan usually means putting money away. Experts recommend having a savings account that can cover at least eight months of living expenses. However, you might need more depending on the number of people in your household. That amount should also be enough to cover other expenses like taxes and payments on outstanding debts.

Developing a financial backup could also mean having an additional source of income and adequate insurance coverage. In order to save some each month, it’s always helpful for families to create a budget and then stick to the plan.

Here are some ways to get started developing a backup plan or emergency fund:

  1. Cut Back – It’s always surprising how much you can live without. Some of the conveniences of modern life can be gotten rid of in order to save some money. These include things like cable TV, magazine subscriptions, and new books and movies. Find low-cost or free alternatives like borrowing books, magazines, and movies from the local library.
  2. Filling Out Your Tax Forms Correctly – Many people miss out on hundreds of dollars in tax deductions every year. Then they spend their refund all at once. How about using that tax refund to jump-start your backup funds?
  3. Seasonal Employment – Temporary or seasonal employment can help you ride out financial storms and save for emergencies by offering an additional source of income.
  4. Trick Yourself into Saving – Setting up automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers into savings accounts means that you don’t have to handle those funds.

However you go about developing your own financial backup, just remember that it’s worth the effort. When those funds are needed, you won’t regret it!

How To Find Water In Emergency Situations

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Wilderness Water PurificationThe body might be able to go for up to a month without food, but it won’t last more than a few days without water. The liquid is easily our world’s most precious resource, and finding it during an emergency situation is essential. Let’s review where to find water in emergency situations, both in the home and out.

In The Home

There’s actually quite a few water sources within your own home. Your water heater is one example; it requires turning off the circuit breaker or closing the gas valve before emptying the tank. Keep in mind your heater will sustain serious damage if you leave it on with no water.

Draining pipes in your home is another way to procure water. It requires shutting off the water lines in your house, then using the lowest faucet in your house to drain the pipes. Other options include melting ice cubes, using the liquid from canned goods if you’re really desperate, or the water in your toilet tank. Use the water in your tank, not the bowl, and only if it has not been chemically treated.

Boil or otherwise treat all water before you use it to avoid making yourself and friends/family members sick. Additionally, steer clear of the water in your waterbed if applicable, as such products generally contain additives so mold and mildew don’t flourish.

Outside The Home

Rainwater is one of your best options when looking for water outside the home, and it is easily contained in buckets and bins. Melting snow is also an option, as are garden ponds. Water is available in green bamboo shoots; simply cut them at their base to drain. Another possibility is tying tufts of grass together with clean rags, then squeezing the dew out of the rags after sunrise. Wells, springs, and other non-salt bodies of water also work in emergencies.

 As with water in the home, it’s essential to boil outside water sources or use water purifying drops or tablets.

 What are your best sources of water in an emergency? Share your tips in the comments section!

5 Ways Being a Runner Makes You a Better Prepper

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trailrunning

More often than not when prepping we take great care lining up the proper food, water, and other supplies and completely forget about the most important weapon you have in your prepper arsenal: your own body.

Your body is by far the most important piece of any prepper plan because without it, the rest of your work really isn’t worth much, now is it? By keeping yourself physically fit you give yourself the best chance to carry out any plans you have and to react to any surprises that you might encounter.

When it comes to general exercise, running gives you the most bang for your buck. It builds muscles, helps strengthen your cardiovascular system and, of course, helps you put the most miles between you and whatever disaster you’re trying to avoid. By becoming a runner, you gain health and become a better prepper. Here are some of the benefits you can gain from being a running prepper.

trailrunning2

1. Greater Health

This one is a pretty big no-brainer, but running makes you healthier, and health is quite possibly the single-most important prep there is. Health is why you store food, water, and medical supplies, so why not bolster your health now by running?

Cardio workouts like running increase the strength of your heart and total blood volume, giving you a larger, stronger heart. This helps you withstand more illnesses and injuries, and overall just keeps you feeling better.

2. Better Endurance

Your bug-out plan might include a 4×4 truck, motorcycle, or ATV, but there are scenarios in which those things would either be out of commission or unreachable. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t still have the need to get out of Dodge in a hurry though, which is why becoming a runner now is so important.

Knowing how your body copes with running longer distances can help you gauge how far you can hike, and if need be, flat out run. Being able to sustain a solid running pace for an extended period of time is something many people cannot do, so if you can do it, there’s a good chance it’ll put you ahead of those trying to do you harm.

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3. Stealthy Prepping

OpSec is an important part of prepping. You don’t want the neighbors knowing that you’re a prepper, lest they come to your house when the SHTF. This means that any prepping you can do without attracting attention is the best kind of prepping.

Nobody that sees you avidly running through your neighborhood will think you’re doing it to be a better prepper, making it the most OpSec-esque piece to your prepping plan. You can train as much as you want without anyone giving you a second look. For those of us in apartments or heavily populated areas, anything that doesn’t raise an eyebrow should make you very happy.

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4. Space Blankets!

If you decide to get out there and enter some longer-distance races you’ll often be given a Mylar sheet, or space blanket at the finish line. These are meant to keep you from getting chilled from the sweat and enormous strain you just put your body under. While these are great for this purpose, they’re even better for prepping!

Save these blankets and use them in emergencies. Keep a few in your car/truck and make sure a few are in your bug-out bag as well. These are great as emergency blankets and make even better insulation in makeshift shelters.

5. Stronger Muscles

Running not only builds your overall health, but it builds important muscles, too. While you’ll need to go to the gym to get that heavy bag easily on your back, running gives you the muscles you need for long hikes and runs, which in a world without power or gasoline, will come in very handy.

Leg muscles are what will propel you through a world that’s post-EOTWAWKI, and while others are trying to build these muscles on the fly, as a runner you’ll already have them and be faster and more agile than the others.

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Overall, health is vital to survival, and just like any other resource used for prepping, you should gain it now while it’s still easy. There won’t be gyms and half marathons and protein drinks when the SHTF, so get healthy now while the getting’s good. Start running today using a program like the Couch to 5K program, or C25k. It’ll get you running a 5K in 9 weeks and is good for anyone that is fit enough to start an exercise program. Start today and you’ll be even more ready for what the world can throw at you.

Make a Life-saving Water Filter when You’re in a Pinch

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activated charcoal water filterIn any emergency situation, it is imperative to know how to filter water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. Earthquakes, floods, fires, and even government officials, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, may cause your water supply to become contaminated and unsuitable for use. In these situations, your Brita filter won’t cut it. It is always a good idea to invest in a quality filtration system, but the price can keep many people away.

There is, however, the option of fashioning your own filtration system using everyday household items. There are many methods to do this but the easiest DIY filter involves an athletic sock and a nylon stocking or pantyhose made out of fine mesh. Simply insert the foot of the nylon stocking or pantyhose inside the athletic sock and slowly poor the untreated water into the opening. It’s important to position the sock so that the filtered water drains into a clean water container. If you don’t have a nylon stocking or athletic sock, use several layers of clean cloth or clothing items to accomplish the same purpose.

Another option for water filters involves two 5-gallon buckets and lids, a filtering element, a spigot, and some household tools. The first step is to drill a 1/2” hole in the bottom of one of the buckets. This will be the top bucket. These types of buckets can be found in restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. Take the bucket and place it on the lid of the bottom bucket.

Using the hole you just drilled, trace a circle onto the bottom lid with a marker. The next step is to drill another 1/2” hole in the lid with the circle mark as a guide. Then, install the filtering element in the hole you made in the top bucket. This filtering element could be made up of a candle or ceramic filter or even a homemade filter. After installing the filter, take the bottom bucket and drill a 3/4” hole on the side near the bottom. Install a spigot in this hole.

The last step is to assemble the system by placing the top bucket onto the lid of the bottom bucket and making sure that the filter element aligns with the hole of the lid of the bottom bucket. Fill the top bucket with water and you’ll have filtered water in about an hour.

Of course, it is always a good idea to purify water before drinking. You can use common household items for this as well. Liquid bleach is one of the most cost effective methods for purification. For one quart of clear, clean-looking water, add two drops of bleach. Stir the water and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Do You Leave Yourself Vulnerable Daily?

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Have you ever been so focused on a task that when someone walked up and said hi, it scared you? While we’ve all experienced this before, whether playing on our cell phone, reading a book, or just focusing on something and thinking, this is a great example of poor situational awareness.

Situational awareness is defined by the U.S. Coast Guard as:

The ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.

Having poor situational awareness can increase the potential for mistakes and can put you in harm’s way from threats both accidental and deliberate. Below, we’ll look at some common causes of loss of situational awareness and how to fix them. Before we do though, let’s look at what exactly situational awareness means and why it’s important to you.

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Situational Awareness

The age of smartphones in every pocket has brought with it a true lack of situational awareness. Think about it: How many people do you see with headphones in and their heads down looking at their phones on any given day? Once you start looking for it, the number will surprise you. Sure, this act itself is not damaging, but the lack of awareness can very easily cause them harm.

From the innocuous walking into a sign to the far more dangerous walking in front of a car or falling into a hole, not paying attention to the world around you can definitely hurt. These accidental sources of harm are bad enough, but what about deliberate acts of violence? Not paying attention to the world around you opens you up for direct, deliberate attacks from those who would hurt you or take what belongs to you. Visibly not paying attention makes you a perfect target.

Widen the scope a little more and think about large-scale danger like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Paying attention to the world around you can give you valuable seconds that could easily save your life. From seeing someone setting a backpack down and running away from it to noticing the water receding from the beach as the precursor to a tsunami, paying attention matters.

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The Loss of Situational Awareness

More often than not, the loss of situational awareness is caused by what’s known as “the bubble” or “tunnel vision.” The bubble refers to the imaginary bubble that surrounds each of us and holds our perception and awareness of the world around us.

For example, as I sit and type this in a coffee shop, my situational awareness bubble is often no wider than the small table and two chairs. My focus is on my computer and the 1–2 feet around my table. The rest is just white noise. As I type, my focus draws in even further to only what’s happening on my screen. This tunnel vision keeps my situational awareness down to only the tunnel of vision between the screen and me. While this is great for writing, it’s absolutely terrible for situational awareness.

In this example, the best I can hope for is to keep my bubble as wide as possible, but remove the tunnel vision. By doing this, I can notice who walks in and any emotional talking or sounds that could signal a stressful situation.

Other than focus on a task, common causes for loss of situational awareness include:

  • Complacency
  • Overload
  • Fatigue

Most of us fall into the complacency category, as it’s the common assumption that everything around us is under control and working as expected. Planning for the worst-case scenario and practicing are both great ways to avoid complacency. Don’t worry excessively, but know that the world around you can change on a dime.

Overload can be a major cause of distraction. In an emergency it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with the disaster, which causes you to overlook closer, more direct threats. Think about it this way: If you experience a riot break out around you, you can be so caught up in it that you don’t see the car coming down the street right at you. Practice, plan, and think about what’s in your bubble.

Fatigue affects us all. You can practice being able to function on lack of sleep, but when it comes down to it, you miss things when you’re tired. Not only does lack of sleep itself hurt your situational awareness, but being “on” constantly can mentally fatigue you, too. Even soldiers in wartime environments take time to stand down every now and then, as this gives their brains time to reset and their situational awareness to get back on track.

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Having Better Situational Awareness with Mindfulness

The key to having situational awareness is to be mindful. This art that is often practiced in meditation has its uses for prepping, too. By taking the time to be mindful, you place yourself in the moment, which is what situational awareness is all about.

Going back to my own example above about the coffee shop—while, yes, I do pay attention mostly to my writing, I take the time to be mindful and look around from time to time. This helps me to take note of who’s around me and what the general temperament of the room is. Are there people running past outside? Is anyone staring at me, my computer, or my bag? Does the staff look more stressed than they should? These are all small pieces to the larger situational awareness puzzle.

By collecting these pieces, we can all become more aware of the world around us. By doing this, you can avoid dangers large and small while keeping calm. Listen to music, look at your smart phone, and write your articles, but take the time to be aware and in the moment while you do it. Don’t fool yourself; when it comes to disaster, minutes and even seconds matter, and these minutes and seconds are gained with proper situational awareness.

Preparedness Goals for 2016

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plan-b-headerThe beginning of a new year is always a good time to stop and evaluate your goals. It’s common to make resolutions related to health and fitness in January and February, but what about making preparedness goals?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Americans are woefully unprepared for natural disasters and emergency situations. A 2015 survey found that only 40 percent of participants have developed an emergency plan, and 60 percent of American adults have not taken part in a disaster or emergency drill within the last year.

In general, getting you and your family prepared involves three stages. The first stage is determining what your goals are and gathering information. The next step is to create a plan and hammer out the specifics of who, what, where, and how. Then, you and your family will be able to start collecting and assembling emergency supplies like a 72-hour kit plus extra food, water and other necessities.

Figuring out what your preparedness goals are should be the number one priority to begin with. Preparedness goals could include things like:

  • Finding out what natural disasters are most common in your local area
  • Discovering what the best evacuation routes are in case of an emergency
  • Developing a workplace emergency plan
  • Learning basic CPR and First Aid
  • Participating in an emergency evacuation drill
  • Collecting enough essential supplies to last at least 72 hours
  • Learning about emergency plans at your children’s schools and/or daycare centers
  • Identifying emergency contacts
  • Making copies of important documents and storing them in an emergency kit
  • Discussing your emergency plan with family members and responding to any questions they might have

When choosing your disaster goals, keep in mind that they need to be as specific and concrete as possible. Vague or unclear goals typically never get accomplished. For example, many people choose losing weight as a goal at the beginning of the year. However, these goals are usually never realized because they aren’t specific, and a concrete plan isn’t made for completing them.

For preparedness, it’s also helpful to evaluate the current state of readiness for you and your family and go from there. That way the process of setting goals for the year won’t be too overwhelming. You can always start by taking an inventory of what supplies you already have and then purchasing other necessities for emergencies.

When Looting Becomes Survival

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One of the biggest fears many of us have in an emergency situation is the all-too-real danger of looting. All it takes is a protest to get out of hand, and before you know it, people are breaking into businesses and homes to take what they want. This only gets worse when you add in a true disaster that may never be recovered from. It’s times like these you have to ask yourself if what’s going on is simple looting or if it’s for survival.

Take, for example, Hurricane Katrina. This SHTF-level event laid waste to an entire city, leaving thousands of people stranded for days without help. In this situation, would you consider taking supplies from local businesses for looting or survival? Is there even a difference?

Looting vs. Survival

The truth of the matter is there’s a very big difference between taking supplies for survival and merely looting. Sure, for a typical riot your best bet is to steer clear as best you can and avoid the area until it’s done with, but what about a city-wide event that you can’t avoid?

Most people that would be considered looters take for fun or for their own gain. They look for items that are far from necessary like televisions, stereos, computers, and of course, money. It’s these people that you need to be guarded against and avoid at all costs. These people fall under mob mentality and lose their sense of right and wrong. To them, it’s considered fun to run amok, break anything, and take what you want.

Taking for survival, on the other hand, is very different. In a case where you must take supplies without a method for payment, taking only what you need and damaging as little as possible is key. The act of taking an item that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, no matter what the reason, but in the case of a major disaster in which your life is in danger, it’s understandable.

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Now, don’t take this as me telling you to go ahead and steal if you need it. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you is a crime no matter the reason. If you take something, even if it’s for survival and are caught, you will be charged with theft, plain and simple.

That being said, cases of extreme duress shouldn’t be made worse by not taking what you need. The difference in this case is taking what you need versus taking as much as you can carry. For example, let’s say a major earthquake has struck, and all safe paths out of your city are cut off. You should have supplies at your home, but if you’re cut off from home base, or your home is destroyed, you should feel justified in heading to a grocery store and taking 72 hours’ worth of supplies. This includes clothes, food, water, and medical and travel supplies.

The medical supplies are one of the most important aspects here. In a major survival situation there won’t be a hospital to go to if you need stiches, so you need to plan ahead. Don’t forget to check out the pharmacy for supplies, too. While most people will loot pain pills and other narcotics, you should focus on antibiotics and other helpful medicines. Pain relief pills are important too, but while you can bear quite a bit of pain, you can’t convince yourself you’re not getting an infection.

Remember, someone with a family full of kids won’t play by the rules and wait for help to come, so why should you?

Where NOT to Loot

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Food, clothing and travel supplies are all great items to “liberate” in an emergency, and with these in hand, the next logical step is to head to a gun shop to get a weapon and some ammo, right? This is not something you want to do. Remember, anyone in that shop probably doesn’t want to share, and they’re all heavily armed and possibly well-trained. Instead of a dedicated gun shop, think of a big box store to get what you need, as these aren’t as likely to be as dangerous.

Remember though, this is still stealing, so all bets are off once you do. Don’t attempt to loot from any location you don’t feel is safe, and don’t loot unless it’s absolutely necessary for your survival. You may have to account for your actions at some point, so make sure you feel comfortable with whatever you do.

Wrap-Up

Simply put, looting is illegal. Nobody likes a looter, which is why you probably cringe every time you read that word. Looter. If things go from bad to terrible, however, you may not have a choice in the matter if you want to survive. Think about the consequences of looting and how they align with your need for survival and your want to be a good person.

Looting is far from safe, too. Expect to meet some resistance to varying degrees when looting, and understand that while you may not want to do it, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) calls for drastic measures.

So, what’s the difference between looting and survival? It’s the crossing of a line that only you can draw to know when you must act. Draw that line now and act on it when you must; just be prepared for what comes next.

Prepping Effectively in an Urban Environment

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The chances are pretty high that if you’re reading this you don’t live on a pristine prepper compound with a year or more of food and supplies saved up. If you are, then kudos to you — you’re living the prepper dream. The rest of us, however, have to find a way to fit prepping into our daily lives and, most likely, smaller spaces.

This means the best ways for urban preppers to always be prepared is to stick with smaller, more manageable prepping techniques. By working with what you have at hand, you can be a more effective prepper and overall be ready for a variety of disasters without needing any extra space.

Bug-Out Plan

Simply having a plan on how to bug out if a disaster is more than you can handle will put you ahead of the curve. The plan should be compiled by asking five basic questions, including:

  1. What is the signal that you need to leave?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. How are you going to get there?
  4. What are you bringing with you?
  5. How long will you be gone?

In other words, you need to lay out the basics.

Anyone that’s driven in an urban environment during peak construction season knows how quickly detours and closed roads can mess with what would otherwise be a simple trip. Keeping this in mind, you need to know what your escape route out of your urban area is, and have a few backups as well.

Think of ways to get where you’re going that don’t involve major roads, as those will most likely be the first to be impassible. Unlike directions given to you by GPS, you’re not looking for the quickest or shortest ways out, but the most effective and least likely to be jammed with traffic.

When you have your routes determined, outline them on a map and keep it in your vehicle at all times. Make sure to outline at least one walking route as well. If you don’t have a car at all, outline three or four walking routes for safety.

Stay Gassed Up

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This is possibly the simplest tip in the entire list while being one of the most effective. By keeping your car/truck/motorcycle topped up with fuel at all times, you can be ready for a disaster that could cut off fuel to your area. Something as simple as a multi-day power outage could make it hard to get fuel, which is what you need to escape if things get bad.

Never let your vehicle drop below a quarter tank unless you’re on a long trip — then never below a half tank. Consider everything under a half tank to be for emergencies only. Depending on your vehicle, that should be good for at least 150 miles or so.

Understand Riots

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When disaster strikes, riots are often soon to follow. Riots can break out for a variety of reasons, ranging from general social unrest to major court decisions to true TEOTOWKI scenarios. The most important tips for understanding and surviving riots are to blend in by becoming the grey man, never going against the current of moving people, and steering clear of law enforcement.

For more on how to deal with a riot, give this post on riots a read.

Home Security

Bugging out isn’t always the best option. There are many times your best bet is to hunker down and weather the storm, so to speak. In situations like this you want to make sure your home security is up to the challenge.

Extra deadbolts and protection for ground-floor or fire-escape side windows is critical. If you’re in an extremely urban environment like a downtown apartment, your best security in a bad situation can be blacking out your windows to avoid attention. By securing the major point(s) of entry and making it appear as if nobody is there, any potential threats will most likely move on.

Along with these passive forms of security, you need to have some active ones, too. These include weapons like a handgun, shotgun, and even baseball bat or other striking weapon. As always, abide by any local laws concerning weapons in your home.

However you secure your home, make a plan. Know what you’re locking, where you’re placing your guns for easy access, and how you’ll black out the windows to hide the light in your home. In a case like this, the plan is almost more important than the acts themselves.

OpSec

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When you’re living in an urban environment OpSec can be very difficult to ensure. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, OpSec is short for Operational Security. This refers to how well you hide your prep operations from others. This is critical to survival because if everyone around you knows you’re prepping, you’re the first place they’ll go for help or to “liberate” supplies from.

Thin walls and shared ingress/egress points means anything you bring in will most likely be seen and talked about. Keep conversations about plans quiet and bring in supplies late at night when you’re less likely to be seen. Whatever you can do to keep your prep as quiet as possible is a very good idea.

Water and Food

In a small urban home it can be difficult to store more than a few days’ worth of food and water, but even this can be a major help in an emergency situation. Pay attention to the free space you have and use it wisely. Plan for 3 days’ worth of food and water for each person in your home to start with and go up from there, adding a day for each person as you go.

Physical Fitness

One thing you can control no matter how small a home you have is your physical fitness. By staying in peak fitness you can rest assured that any emergency hikes or escapes will be within your physical ability. You don’t need to be extremely outwardly muscular but should be able to hike for an entire day without too much pain, and should be able to do so with a full pack on.

Start becoming fit now and you’ll be ready later.

Everyday Carry

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Finally, having an effective everyday carry (EDC) will help you be ready for emergency no matter where you are. A standard EDC should include a multi-tool, knife, fire starter, weapon, and anything else that you might need to survive on the fly.

Check out this post to fine-tune your EDC and get it ready for real-world use.

Prepping in an urban environment is tough. Small space, people everywhere, and countless added threats make it a tough place to be safe. If possible, a prepper should not live in an urban environment, but sometimes this is unavoidable. By following these tips you can be as safe as possible when prepping for an urban environment.

How to Survive a Riot

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Social unrest is something that is becoming more and more common, and while these incidents range from people justly speaking their frustrations to greedy looting and destruction, riots are something you want to avoid at all costs. As people increasingly feel the need to protest and riot over any perceived injustice, the danger of a full-blown riot becomes more real.

By being prepared for a riot and knowing what to do to stay safe, you can effectively avoid them and the dangers associated with being caught up in one. Check out the steps outlined below and see how you can be more aware and better prepared for a riot.

The Warning Signs

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Depending on the type of riot that is breaking out, specific warning signs can vary, but the key idea of “sensing” something bad is nearly always there. If you see a crowd of people carrying protest signs and chanting or yelling, this can be the start of a peaceful protest or all-out riot.

Having situational awareness is crucial to surviving a situation like a riot. Knowing what is happening in the news in and around your area is important, too. Keep a close eye on anything that seems to be emotion-filled or tied to local or national events.

The Easy Way Out

If you can find an easy way out before rioting starts, take it. If your situational awareness is telling you something bad is coming, don’t wait around to see it. It’s all too easy to think that something is happening a few streets over, so it’s no big deal. Don’t get caught up in the moment by watching. Get out as soon as you can.

Be the Grey Man

Even though you’re not part of the riot and just looking to get out, you need to make yourself look like part of the crowd while you make your escape. Blend in and don’t make it appear that you’re just trying to leave.

Don’t do anything illegal or stupid to blend in, but chant along, mirror what others say, and if anyone asks you a question about it, just agree with the general consensus. The worst thing you can do here is stand out. This can make you a target even if you’re indifferent and just want to leave.

Blend in to take attention away from yourself, but only do this as you find a way out. The goal is still to get out as quickly as you can while still being safe.

Go With the Flow

A large crowd of people can be compared to a raging river. The water all flows one direction, making it easy to move with the current and nearly impossible to move against it.

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Never go against the flow of a crowd in a riot situation. Not only does this take longer to escape, but it draws unnecessary attention to yourself. Instead, move with the flow of people while aiming yourself at the edge.

Don’t cut across the crowd either, as this is a sure sign you don’t want to be there. By moving forward as you move to the side, it appears you just want to see more of the action. Go with the flow and you’ll be safe while getting out as fast as you can.

Avoid Law Enforcement

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Even though you’re not part of the riot and just got stuck in it, law enforcement doesn’t know that. If they were to see you approaching them, it could be considered an attack and they would most likely return your gesture with some form of violence.

Never try to escape past a guarded police line. Sure, you know that you’re just trying to get the hell out of Dodge, but they don’t. For the time being at least, police are not your friends. Get away from them as quickly as you do from the rioters and you’ll have a far better chance of safety and survival.

Prepare for an Attack

Finally, you need to be ready for an attack at any moment. Before, during, and after a riot, emotions are at an all-time high. “Mob mentality” kicks in, and people that would otherwise let many things slide become enraged and ready for a fight.

Simply stepping on someone’s foot or looking like you’re not part of the protest/riot is all it takes to incite violence. It’s tough, but you need to be the grey man while keeping full situational awareness until you’re well outside the danger zone.

When talking about self-defense in a riot situation, things get even more difficult. Depending on the size of the crowd, pulling a gun or other defensive weapon can cause far more harm than good. If you’re perceived to be a threat to the riot itself, everyone around you will work to take you down, and you can’t fight everyone.

This is why escape and evasion are the only truly safe ways to avoid a fight in a riot. Now, if you’re currently being attacked, all bets are off. Do whatever you can to survive if you’re actively being attacked, including pulling your gun. Just remember you’re in a crowd and the chances of an innocent being hurt are extremely high. Basically, consider it your very last resort.

By preparing for an attack, and for a riot as a whole, you can be as safe as possible when civil unrest happens. As these protests are televised and showcased to the world, expect them to be more and more common and pop up more quickly than ever before.

DIY Cold and Flu Remedies

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Peppermint Herb Uses

One of the downsides of cooler weather is the arrival of the cold and flu season. As people head inside because of rain and snow, it is easier for cold and flu viruses to spread. Even though you might take preventative measures like hand washing and getting plenty of sleep, there is still the risk of getting sick.

While many people turn to prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines at the first sign of a cold or the flu, there are several do-it-yourself remedies to try in order to relieve symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms and homemade treatments.

  • Sore Throat – Having a sore, painful throat is never fun but often accompanies a cold or the flu. If you come down with a scratchy throat that makes talking a chore, try gargling with items you already have around the house. These include honey, salt, and peppermint. You can also try hot chicken soup. Be sure to add some pungent spices like garlic or curry powder to thin the mucus in your throat.
  • Stuffy Nose – Clear up a stuffy nose or throat with steamy water enhanced with fresh ginger or a few drops of eucalyptus oil. You can also try taking a warm shower and using a saltwater spray to rinse out the nostrils. Be sure to get plenty of hot liquids, and try to avoid coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks while you’re feeling bad.
  • Running Nose – A common yet annoying symptom of a cold is a running nose. Running noses occur when there is an increased production of mucus as the body tries to rid itself of a cold or flu virus. Treat a running noise with garlic soup or ginger tea. You can also drink a warm glass of milk or water with turmeric added to relieve a running noise.
  • Coughing – Raw honey is a natural antibiotic that helps to keep your throat moist in order to relieve coughing. Try taking 1 tablespoon of honey 1–3 times a day in order to alleviate coughs. Thyme also helps to open up the airways and relax the muscles of the lower respiratory system. Make a thyme tea by combining 2 tablespoons of dried thyme with 8 ounces of boiling water.
  • Fever and Muscle Aches – Get plenty of rest to combat a fever and muscle aches. Your body needs rest in order to heal. Drink lots of liquids. Water, clear soups, broth, and even electrolyte replacement drinks work the best to promote immune functioning to combat a cold or flu.
  • Nausea – Relieve nausea with peppermint. It helps to relax the stomach muscles so that food can move through. Peppermint can be taken in many different forms, including tea. It’s also extremely safe during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: We are not health professionals and nothing we write is intended to cure or diagnose. You should consult your doctor or other health professional for your healthcare needs.

Top 5 Survival Medicine Preparedness Tips

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Calling 911 will most likely not be an option during a massive or long-term disaster. Medical preparedness is often considered the most difficult obstacle when forming a well-rounded and thorough survival plan. Enhancing our first aid skills by taking a course is one important way to increase the chance of surviving a SHTF scenario. Learning how to use available items to naturally prevent, treat and cure common ailments is an equally important aspect of medical prepping readiness.

We often delve into home remedies, over-the-counter alternatives, and natural health tips on Survival Based. This roundup of the top 5 survival medicine tips offers yet more insight and resource material for use when expanding your medical prepping plan.

Top 5 Survival Medicine Tips

Wound Care

Stop bleeding fast by using a few pinches of hot pepper powder. Drop the hot pepper directly onto the small cut or wound, and the bleeding should subside in about 20 seconds. Native Americans often used cayenne pepper in a host of first aid remedy recipes. If attempting to stop a larger wound from bleeding, pour about one teaspoon of red pepper into a glass of warm water and drink the rather unpleasant tasting mixture quickly. The components in the pepper are believed to rapidly equalize blood pressure and prompt the clotting of blood. Pepper is also often thought to contain disinfecting properties.

Oral Health

Gum and tooth health should not be neglected now, before disaster strikes, or after a TEOTWAWKI scenario when you can’t call a dentist. I did not delve into the issue of dental health preparedness until after reading several James Wesley Rawles and Dr. William Forstchen books, which referenced SHTF tooth loss. It was then that I fully realized that my family did not have a detailed plan to protect our teeth and gums; that lack of prepping had to change. We had stocked up on toothpaste and toothbrushes, but little else.

Receding gums loosen the bond with the teeth and often lead to tooth loss. Unless you have a dentist in your tribe (my favorite term for mutual assistant group) or live a safe distance from a dentist that can fix your problems without electricity, you could be left with a mouth filled with rotten or loose teeth that will soon fall out.

Drinking green tea is often regarded as a natural way to combat and correct receding gums. Drinking a glass of tea twice each day is the recommended manner of treatment. The catechins in the tea help to strengthen the bond between the gums and teeth and foster tissue health. Aloe vera has also been used to naturally treat receding gums. Drinking aloe vera juice as a daily mouthwash and/or gently brushing your teeth and gums with the liquid from the plant after regular tooth brushing may also help prevent and treat receding gums.

Oil pulling with sesame or coconut oil has also long been used to treat receding gums and to enhance overall oral health. Simply warm the oil slightly and swish it around in your mouth once each day. Keep the oil in your mouth for at least one minute and attempt to increase the pulling time to up to 15 minutes over time.

Arthritis Pain

Sore joints are not only painful, but they can also prevent necessary work from getting accomplished around the homestead or prepper retreat. The amount of manual labor required to maintain just the three basics of survival (food, water and shelter) will be a significant change in daily habit for many Americans.

Tea tree oil is not only nature’s antibiotic, but is also useful in treating sore joints, tendons and muscles. Massaging the oil onto the affected area typically offers temporary relief sufficient to lessen stiffness and continue on with the chores.

Magnesium is another great natural arthritis pain reliever. Rubbing magnesium onto the joints will help to relieve tensions. You can also take oral magnesium supplements and add more of the component to your diet to reduce flare-ups.

Epsom salt can also be helpful in the treatment of arthritis pain. Pour one cup of salt into a standard-size mixing bowl filled three-quarters full with warm water. Soak the sore area in the bowl until the water turns cold and then massage the area.

Gout

Gout is not only painful, but the condition will also likely prevent you from completing your security perimeter patrol on the prepper retreat and thwart efforts to milk the cow during a disaster scenario. Gout is caused when more uric acid is present in the body than can be metabolized. The acid crystalizes in the joints and prompts acute pain, which can ultimately lead to arthritis. Gout pain most often presents in the feet, toes or ankles.

Eating too much processed pork, such as hot dog and bologna, has been known to cause gout in some individuals. Diet adjustments could be key to preventing gout outbreaks.

Cherries and apple cider vinegar have been known to help break up the uric acid crystals and reduce the time that gout pain keeps the sufferer confined to a chair or crutches. Eating black cherries or drinking black cherry juice is highly recommended when the first signs of gout begin to appear.

Mixing 1/2 cup of baking soda with 8 ounces of water and drinking it down will also quickly help relieve gout pain for many folks. This process might need to be repeated up to three times a day for up to two days to break up the uric acid crystals enough to move about with ease.

Natural Flu Shots

Getting the flu is a miserable experience. Colds and flu can spread rapidly during a disaster when family and tribe members are living and working so closely together. When resigned to bed due to a fever, chills and overall body ache, you will not be able to pull your weight on the homestead.

Flu shots, like many vaccines, can be a controversial topic. Every time my father-in-law convinces my husband Bobby to get a flu shot, he gets a mild form of the illness and still gets sick later in the winter because the almighty shot was not designed to protect you from the latest strain. Even if you are a flu shot loyalist, running to the local pharmacy or health department to get pricked will not be possible during a power grid down or similar significant disaster.

Making natural flu shots is easy, and they taste good too.

Natural Flu Shot

Ingredients
1 cup hot tea or apple cider
2 cups warmed, not boiled, fruit juice
1 ounce or four packets of gelatin
1 ½ teaspoons of your favorite healing herbs (You can use just one, or use ½ teaspoon of one herb and 1 teaspoon of another. Due to their health-enhancing components, I most often use ginger root, cinnamon, mint, orange zest, lemon zest or turmeric.)
2 tablespoons honey, optional (Honey not only tastes yummy, but it also boasts copious amounts of healing properties.)

Directions
1. Put the herbs, cider and juice in a medium saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. If you opted to use tea instead of cider, brew the tea and allow it to steep for ten minutes before pouring into the pot with the juice and herbs.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin into the pot and stir until it is fully dissolved.
3. If using honey, pour it into the pot.
4. Stir the mixture once more to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly intermingled.
5. Pour the flu home remedy into a 13×9 pan and allow to cool. If possible, place in the refrigerator or other cool place for three hours.
6. Once cooled, cut the flu shots into 1-inch cubes and give them to the folks you want to help protect from the flu.

Building the Perfect Campfire

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A big part of prepping is not only having the right equipment to survive, but also knowing the proper skills as well. One skill that’s critical to survival in the outdoors is building a proper fire. We’re not talking an emergency fire that you have to start with what’s on hand, but a good, solid campfire that can be set up properly to give you maximum efficiency.

The trick to building an impressive fire is making sure the flames have ready access to oxygen. Building your fire in a way that easily feeds air to it will ensure success.  Ready to learn how to build the perfect campfire? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Safety First

The first step in building any fire, emergency or not, is making sure the area around where you’re building the fire is clear of anything flammable for about 8 feet in any direction. This means leaves, garbage, kindling, and of course any fuels should be outside the 8-foot range.

Once the fire is established, you can return items like logs or camp chairs to sit on, but for now take the time to clear them out.

Step 2: Build a Cabin

Building a good fire starts with the base. You want the base to be larger logs to give the fire a solid base while pre-feeding in the fuel that’ll keep the fire going once the smaller wood burns off.

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Three logs will form the base of the fire. Lay them with space between each, but not much. The logs should be about as big around as your forearm, and the space between them should be about half of that. Next, stack two more logs on top of this, with two more crisscrossed on top. When done it should look like the start of a

Finally, fill the inside of your new log cabin with kindling and tinder before topping it with a “roof” of small to medium-sized sticks. Make sure the roof isn’t too tight or air won’t flow.

Step 3: Top it with a Tepee

Make a mound of fire starter, like dryer lint or some other flammable material, on the roof of the log cabin and top it with very small twigs and tinder. This will be your spot to light the fire.

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Next, take 7–10 small- to medium-sized sticks and build a tepee of sorts on the roof of your cabin. Make sure there’s enough space between the sticks to allow for air flow. We’re trying to protect the fire from wind while still allowing air to flow to the new flame.

Alternatively, you can also build the teepee in the middle of your log cabin setup, placing the bottom of the teepee on the ground.

The other big reason for using the tepee method is to give your fire the medium-sized fuel it needs after burning through the kindling without smothering the fire. This allows the medium-sized wood to automatically add itself to the fire when it’s ready.

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Step 4: Light My Fire

When you’re all built and ready to start your fire, light the kindling inside the tepee and let it burn. The tepee will eventually collapse and fall into your log cabin. This will take the fire from burning the small kindling to burning the medium-sized wood from the tepee.

Once the tepee wood burns through, the inside of the cabin should be burning very well, and the side of the cabin should start to burn evenly. Once these start to darken and burn, the fire is fully established and you can increase the size of wood added to it incrementally if you’d like.

Wrap-Up

Knowing how to start a successful fire is important to survival, not only for warmth and cooking, but for peace of mind. Having a fire helps to keep spirits up, animals away, and give an overall better feeling to the camp.

Practice your fire building skills on your next camping trip and perfect your log cabin before you need to use it in an emergency.

How to Build a Quick Holiday Get-Home Bag

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As we move into the holiday season, it’s more and more common to find yourself far away from home. Whether you’re flying to meet up with your family or heading out for the day to celebrate with some friends, travel is almost always involved.

As we travel more, the danger of a disaster or emergency situation happening when you’re away from home becomes all too real. Sure, you have your bug-out bag and possibly even a full-home prep waiting at your house, but that doesn’t do you any good if you’re not there to use it. What you need is a way to get home and deal with the situation at hand. Whether that means bugging-in or bugging out and hitting the road again, home is truly where the heart is.

Because of this, you need what’s known as a get-home bag. We’ve looked at get-home bags before for basic use and for vacations, but things change when you’re traveling around the holidays, especially during colder months. Let’s take a look at how to make a quick yet effective get-home bag to use for all your holiday needs this year and beyond.

Before Your Start

When building a get-home bag, you need to know how many people would be trying to get home with you. If you’re on your own, your bag will look very different than if you have a few people you are responsible for. The best case scenario is to put together separate bags with necessities for each person to help spread out the liability in case a bag is lost or damaged. Plus, they’re easy to carry. Have a backup of the slightly less important items if possible and have a second person carry them as added insurance.

Remember, we’re not looking to make this a foolproof survival bag, but instead a way to get you home to your real prep without looking like you’re packing an entire suitcase of things just to go to Grandma’s house. This isn’t meant to keep you surviving for a long period of time, but instead solely to get you home safely.

The Contents

Because we’re just trying to get home, a get-home bag will have much less than a traditional BOB. This being said, the makeup of both the Get Home Bag and the BOB can be very similar.

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Water

You should have one liter of water for every person you’re prepping for. This should be enough to get you going for a day or two. Longer distances mean more water.

Energy Bars

The need for long-term food isn’t very important since the goal is to get home to your supplies, so the plan is for 3 energy bars per day for each person. Think about how long it would take to get back home by walking or driving, and plan accordingly. Mind you, this is far from a well-rounded diet, but it’ll be enough to get you home, and that’s all that matters. If you’re traveling from farther away than 3 or so days walk, this still applies, but know that you will definitely need to find supplies on the way home, as it’s simply not feasible to carry enough food for weeks of travel time while going on a trip.

Headlamp

The hurry to get home means there will be a lot of walking at night, so having your hands free to eat, climb, and use a weapon are vital, and a headlamp will give you just that.

In a perfect world each person would have a headlamp, but to keep the pack small, one should be enough for two people.

Flashlights

The flashlight goes to whoever isn’t using the headlamp because you should have a second light for backup. Light can mean the difference between walking safely at night and falling into a ditch, breaking an ankle or worse.

Map and Compass

This is possibly the single most important part of a good get-home bag. You should have a map that covers the area from where you’re visiting to your home.

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On the map should be two plotted routes: the path you’d take with a car and the best path for walking. Remember, the highway might not be your best bet for walking, so plan that out now while you have the Internet as a resource. Make sure you’re prepared to use a map and compass, and finally it doesn’t hurt to learn how to navigate without a compass, too. As stated above, it’s best practice to give one person the map and the other the compass; in case you get separated, you would each have at least something to help you get home safely.

Paracord

It should go without saying that you basically always need to keep paracord close at hand. You should have about 100 feet of the amazing rope in your bag to use for everything from lashing a shelter together to sewing up damaged bags and clothing.

Multi-tool

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Ideally you should have your multi-tool on you at all times as part of your EDC, but since we’re talking about a family trip where you may be dressed nicely, it’s OK to keep this in your bag, as long as it’s easy to get to. Best practice here is to have a knife/multi-tool for each person you’re traveling with.

Related: 5 Multi-Tools to Trick Out Your EDC

Personal Defense

This is a tricky one. Since many vacations take you across state borders, you need to know the laws regarding the transportation of weapons.

More often than not you should be safe transporting a handgun if it’s unloaded and partially disassembled in your bag. Some states require it to be locked in a box as well, so just check the laws to make sure you’re working inside of what’s legal while staying prepared.

Take Note: It’s critical that you know the laws of transporting weapons in the states and municipalities you’re traveling through. Simply having a weapon in the car can mean jail time in some states.

Survival Knife

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Your survival knife definitely needs to come along for vacation and will be indispensable in an emergency. Make sure your knife is sharpened and ready for use before leaving. If you don’t have a good survival knife, check out this post on choosing the perfect survival knife. Only one survival knife is necessary for this, even if you have multiple people. If you have room for two, that’s even better.

Fire Starter

A simple flint and steel will do wonderfully and take up very little space. You can store these without fear of combustion unlike lighters and matches. Your get-home bag should have two of these so there’s a backup.

First Aid Kit

All you need here is a basic first-aid kit that aligns with where you’re going. If you’re heading down south, you should make sure it has bug repellant and sunscreen in it as well as the other basics like bandages. Since the holidays are typically colder months, consider including some instant hand warmers.

Rain Poncho

Finally, you definitely need to include a rain poncho. This will keep you dry in the case of rain and give you shelter for sleeping at night. Each person should have their own.

As you can see, everything you need to hopefully get home safely can fit into a standard, nondescript backpack, which is exactly what you want. By blending in, you won’t attract the attention of anyone that sees you carrying it. Leave the camo and military-style bags behind and opt for a traditional backpack that’s both confortable and has great storage capability. Your stuff will be safe and nobody will know what you’ve got.

The Over/Under Mistake and How It Could Be Wrecking Your Prep

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Desert-Rat

When talking about survival, there’s a lot out there that can kill you. So much so that it can seem like the world is out to get you at times, which in a way it kind of is. This is why prepping is so vital to successful survival. There are thousands of mistakes you could possibly make when prepping for survival, and many of those are covered right here on this site. Whether it’s how to store your food, where to find water, or how to prep the ultimate bug-out bag, prepping is all about, well, being prepared.

So what mistake could single-handedly be wrecking your prep if all these other possible issues exist? It’s actually far simpler than any of these pitfalls; it is simply a mindset that can be changed.

In any survival situation, most people will overestimate their abilities and underestimate the risks. These two form the over/under mistake. So what exactly does this mean? In short, it’s thinking you know more than you do while believing the problem is not as bad as it seems. These ideas together can wreck your prep and even get you killed. Let’s look at how to fix this seemingly simple problem before you fall victim to it.

Overestimate Abilities

With all the prepping you do, it’s easy to fall victim to this falsity. Reading about bugging out at a moment’s notice is great, but have you actually practiced it? Knowing the ideas behind hunting, fishing and gigging is crucial to proper survival, but do you have any actual experience?

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The biggest part of prepping is doing, not reading. Sure, you have to read something first to learn the basics, but to actually say you have the skill, you have to do it countless times until it becomes second nature. You need to learn to draw your concealed carry from the holster until it becomes as easy as walking. It’s all too easy to understand the basics of a skill and claim it as one we then know.

Thinking you have abilities that you truly don’t possess can get you into quite a bit of trouble. If you go off trail while hiking because you “know” you can find your way back without a map or compass, you could easily get lost and possibly die in the process.

The same goes for overall prepping. Remember, prepping isn’t just planning; it’s doing. If you believe you have a certain skill, get out there and try it out. Go bug out for a weekend and see how it works, just have a backup plan in case it doesn’t. Go try to fish with simply a hook and fishing line. Go build a snare and see if you can catch anything. It’s better to underestimate what you know than believe you can do more than you truly can.

Underestimate Risk

Nobody likes to think about risk. We plan and prepare for the worst, but evaluating risks associated with our plans is also important. Even if you accept risk and evaluate it frequently, it’s all too easy to go light on the overall risk assessment. If you underestimate risks, you can get into a lot of trouble.

When talking about survival, not accounting for the level of risk with a given situation can hurt your chances or even end them completely. The goal here is to acknowledge the risks and threats of a given situation and plan for them accordingly.

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To be more specific, a prime example of underestimating risk comes from driving long distances. In the age of highways and fuel-efficient vehicles, we often don’t think twice about driving a few hours for something as simple as visiting a friend, but in actuality there is quite a bit of risk involved. What if you broke down at night in the winter? What if you ran out of gas or oil? When you’re talking about being hours away from civilization these are all real risks. Worse yet, what if a disaster struck while you were driving, how would you get home? This risk can be planned for and prepped for by use of a Get Home Bag, or just packing a few extra supplies in the trunk or behind the seat.

Risk comes from more than just basic situations, too. Think of the risk of poor sanitation, hygiene, and first aid treatment for starters. These are real killers that are rarely taken into account. Don’t overthink your planning, but assess the risks in a real, honest manner and then act on them.

Combined, this one-two punch is easily the biggest area of improvement for just about every prepper out there today. They both come down to one key idea: Be realistic. By being realistic in your skills and the risks involved with an area, idea or action, you can truly prepare in the best way possible. In short, be honest with yourself and you’ll be in a much better place when the SHTF.

Cooking Like a Boy Scout

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The Boy Scouts of America are a pretty great group to be a part of. They teach young boys the basics of survival. When taken seriously, this training gives boys skills they can bring into their adult lives for not only emergencies, but for everyday use, too.

Cooking is something that must be done even if there’s an emergency going on. Just about every food requires some type of cooking, and during or after a disaster you’ll be cooking everything you eat, so knowing how to cook is pretty important business.

Just like almost every other survival skill, there’s a lot we can learn from the good old BSA, AKA The Boy Scouts of America. From quick measurements to tried-and-true recipes, cooking like a Boy Scout could be the thing that saves you someday down the road.

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Quick Measurements, Sans Utensils

Last time I checked, my bug-out bag didn’t have a set of measuring spoons in it, and I’m willing to bet yours doesn’t, either. While these useful kitchen utensils are easy to ignore, being able to cook without knowing how much spice or other ingredients you’re adding to a recipe is a quick way to ruin some much-needed food.

If you’re cooking without anything to measure with, just use this Boy Scout chart and you’ll be just fine:

  • One open fistful = 1/2 Cup
  • Five-finger pinch = 1 Tablespoon
  • Four-finger pinch = 1 Teaspoon
  • One-finger pinch with thumb = 1/8 Teaspoon
  • One-finger gob of shortening = 1 Tablespoon
  • Center of palm = 1 Tablespoon

Along with these, write down some basic standard measures and you’ll be able to measure anything with nothing more than your hand.

  • 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
  • 16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 ounces
  • 2 cups = 1 pint = 16 ounces
  • 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 ounces
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon = 8 pounds (128 ounces)

Now, you can measure with some level of certainty without having to carry a full set of kitchen measuring utensils into the wild with you.

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Substitutions and Equivalents Make it Easier

When you’re in an emergency or disaster situation, chances are you won’t have any food you want readily available. What’s more, you probably only want to store the bare essentials in your larder so you can maximize how long you can survive from your supplies.

With this idea in mind, knowing some basic substitutions can help you make more from less while using the proper amounts of the replacement food.

Substitutions:

  • 8 ounces sour cream = 1 cup of low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 ounce baking chocolate = 3 tablepoon cocoa powder +1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs = 4 slices of bread, or 26 saltines
  • 1 tablespoon instant minced onion = 1 small fresh onion
  • 1 cup honey = 1 cup molasses

Equivalents:

  • 1 pound of butter or shortening = 2 cups
  • 1 pound flour = 3 1/2 cups
  • 1 pound sugar (brown or granulated) = 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 stick of butter = 1/2 cup

There are obviously hundreds more substitutions and equivalents, but this is a great start that can get you pretty far.

Do the Duty Roster

When you’re out in the wild fending for yourself, it can get tricky keeping everyone honest about what job he or she should be doing. To keep things fair and civil, creating a duty roster is the best way to share responsibilities and keep everyone contributing.

The key areas of cooking are:

  1. Water
  2. Fire
  3. Cooking
  4. Cleaning
  5. Securing food

With these major areas covered, just about any meal can be made. Laid out in a grid it would look something like this:

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Your duty roster can change based on how you want to split up the chores, but with this in mind you can simply set daily expectations. Whether you keep people on the same task for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day or cycle every meal, it’s a visible way to show that everything is fair and to hold everyone accountable.

It’s All About the Menu

Finally, all of this would be for naught unless you had some recipes up your sleeve. What recipes you use specifically are up to you and the supplies you plan on keeping. Try to keep your recipes close to what you eat now, to give a sense of normalcy, but also to avoid any shocks to your system. If you never eat rice and then you try eating it three times every day, bad things are probably going to happen.

A good way to organize your meals is to create a menu for each meal. This keeps you organized and makes planning meals far easier, especially if you just look back at something that already worked for you and do it again. Here’s an example of what the Boy Scouts use:

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As you can see, there’s a column for cost here. In a survival situation, this probably won’t matter too much, so you can cut that out. The important column that most people wouldn’t think about is the “equipment” column. This column makes sure you have whatever you need to make the meal available. So if you’re away from camp for a day, you know what to take with you. This is also great if you want to plan meals ahead of an emergency, as you’ll know what equipment needs to be purchased and packed. Depending on the number of people you’re planning for, the amount column can change dramatically, too.

In short, this helps you make sense of a difficult task when you’re trying to survive. By taking after the Boy Scouts and always being prepared, you can make cooking in emergencies as easy as possible.

Survival Tips From Animals

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PorcupineSurvival skills are pretty darn important, and there’s much to be learned from the animal kingdom. Most animals have several very effective ways to protect themselves from predators, with methods ranging from the practical to the bizarre.

Let’s check out a few of the many ways the animals in our world protect themselves from harm and how their skills can help you out of sticky situations:

Flee From Danger Like Zebras

The black-and-white-striped African members of the horse family flee from predators by staying in groups. If you’re going to flee, doing so with a bunch of other people is usually the best way. However, if you’re turning and running from a large animal such as a bear or cougar, it’s probably not going to end well.

Fight Back Like a Porcupine

When faced with a predator such as the aforementioned cougar or bear, it’s sometimes necessary to fight back. Running will only make them think you’re food, but if you fight back, they’ll realize that maybe you aren’t their post-lunch snack. Porcupines fight back via their oh-so-sharp quills, which rise up at the first sign of danger. While you might not have quills to defend yourself, using your fists, any nearby branches, and anything you have or can reach will certainly help.

Blend In

Many animals use camouflage to protect themselves, such as the chameleon, octopus, and squid. Wearing clothing that blends into your surroundings can help you survive, as can taking steps to blend, such as rubbing mud or dirt on yourself. While you don’t want to get mistaken for a deer and get shot, the ability to blend and subsequently disappear can be a very great thing when trying to survive.

What are your favorite survival tips from our animal friends? Share them in the comments section!

Essential Swimming Skills for Survival

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One of the most neglected areas of survival preparation is that of water safety training. According to the American Red Cross, only half of adults in the United States can perform the essential skills they would need to survive in the event of a water emergency. These critical skills could ultimately save lives.

Certain swimming abilities are necessary in order to live through water emergencies, like being stranded in open water. Situations that could leave you stranded in open water include being swept out to sea by strong currents, plane crashes and sinking boats. The swimming skills that could help you survive in these situations include:

  1. Treading Water – Treading water involves moving the hands and feet in particular ways to keep oneself on top of the water. Usually only the head is above the water to allow for breathing. Although there are many floating techniques, the most popular one is to move the hands and arms horizontally across the body while flutter kicking with the legs. Treading water allows a person to recover their breath if they’ve swallowed water and to stop and orient themselves in the middle of a swim.
  2. Survival Floating – In any water emergency, it is critical to stay afloat. This can be accomplished through many different kinds of personal flotation devices, some of which can be improvised. However, if you find yourself without a raft, lifeboat or other flotation device, you can use floating techniques to conserve energy. The most common way to float is on the back, but this should be done only in calm waters. In rough waters, lie facedown in the water, lifting your head to inhale and then exhale back into the water.
  3. Rising to the Surface – When immersed in deep water suddenly, it is important to be able to get to the surface quickly in order to breathe. It is helpful to activate one’s flotation device for the best results. However, you might find yourself without one. In those cases, orient yourself in the water by moving toward light. Flutter kick with your legs, and use your arms by pushing down against the water all the way to your hips.
  4. Front Crawl – The front crawl is the fastest, most efficient way to move in the water. The front crawl is performed by flutter kicking with the legs and using the arms to scull the water. The arms and hands enter the water thumbs first out past the head and then pull horizontally along the length of the body. The swimmer breathes by turning the head to one side and then exhaling into the water.

As always, it is a good idea to practice these techniques before a survival situation occurs. Check your local area for swimming lessons in order to learn these essential water safety skills.

Top 26 Vinegar Survival Uses

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Distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are dual-use and inexpensive products, making them a perfect item for preppers to stockpile. The plethora of ways vinegar can be used now in our daily lives and after the SHTF will not only save money, but also provide a non-toxic alternative to many cleaning chores.

Vinegar has been used for home remedies, cooking and cleaning for centuries around the globe. Folks from ancient Rome to the early inhabitants of China held vinegar in high regard for its medicinal and disinfecting properties. In 5000 B.C. the Sumerians used vinegar to preserve and pickle food. Helen of Troy was said to pour vinegar in her bath water to help her relax. In 247 B.C. the famed military commander Hannibal drenched massive boulders in scalding hot vinegar so the rocks could be cracked into small pieces. Once the heavy obstacles were reduced to rubble and could be easily removed, his army was able to continue on its journey through the Alps.

Vinegar Survival Uses

  • Sore Throat – Pour 1 teaspoon of white vinegar into a standard-size glass of water and gargle the mixture.
  • Propane Lantern Wicks – Make wicks burn longer by soaking them in vinegar for 3 hours and then allowing them to completely air dry.
  • Wart Removal – Apply a mixture of equal parts glycerin and apple cider vinegar to the warts until they shrivel up and go away.
  • Psoriasis Control – Wash the area where psoriasis is detected with white vinegar several times per week until it is no longer visible.
  • Smell Discipline – Reduce the smell of smoke when cooking or burning wood by placing bowls of distilled white vinegar around the outdoor fire or camping stove.
  • Fleas – Add a few drops of white vinegar to a gallon of water to help remove fleas and other pests from the coats of pets and medium to large livestock. Rub the solution onto the pets and allow their fur to air dry – do not rinse.
  • Food Preservation – Pickle nearly any vegetable that can be canned using either apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. *Vinegar pickling recipe included at the end of this Survival Based article.
  • Boiled Eggs – Prevent eggs from cracking during boiling by putting 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into the pot with the water.
  • Disinfect Wood Kitchen Tools – Wipe wood cutting boards and cooking utensils with distilled white vinegar to disinfect and prevent the spread of disease from raw meat and potentially tainted produce. Do not clean wood floors with the same mixture; it will dull the finish and its high acidic content can discolor the wood over time.
  • Stomachache – Mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and drink to help cure an upset stomach.
  • Hair Care – Reduce the impact of hard water and remove dandruff from hair by rinsing your locks with a mixture of 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. The vinegar smell dissipates as the hair dries.
  • Dentures – Soak false teeth in straight white vinegar overnight, rinse with warm water and brush before use to clean the dentures and remove any food stuck between the teeth.
  • Sprains and Strains – Soak a piece of a paper bag in apple cider vinegar, squeeze out the excess vinegar, and wrap around the injured body part. The vinegar will help reduce inflammation and soreness.
  • Insect Trap – Pour apple cider vinegar into a mason jar to make a trap for fruit flies and other insects. Poke a few holes in the metal lid so the gnats can get into the trap. The apple smell will attract the insects, which ultimately drown inside the jar.
  • Vehicle Windows – Clean windows with a 3-to-1 solution of white vinegar and water to prevent the glass from frosting over and to thoroughly clean the surface without streaking.
  • Wool – Make those sturdy and warm wool blankets a lot less stiff and itchy by adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
  • Shaving Razors – Soak razors in equal parts white vinegar and water for an hour to remove residue and to disinfect to allow the disposables to be used for an extended period of time.
  • Blood Sugar Levels – Help keep blood sugar levels under control by drinking apple cider vinegar four times per day.
  • Skunk Stink – Pull a Helen of Troy and soak yourself or your pets in a white vinegar bath to rid the body, hair, or fur of the pungent stench left behind after encountering a skunk.
  • Stings – Dabbing bee, wasp, and other insect stings with apple cider vinegar may help reduce swelling and soreness.
  • Homemade Baby Wipes – Cut a paper towel roll into thirds and then slide out the cardboard roll. Mix together water, natural soap, white vinegar, tea tree oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Use ½ cup each of the water and vinegar and about 1/3 of a cup of each of the other ingredients. Pour mixture over the paper towels after they have been placed in a storage container with a tightly fitting lid. Cotton fabric scraps can also be used to make the baby wipes.
  • Vegetables – Help revive wilting vegetables by soaking them in a mixture of 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar for about 3 minutes. Rinse the veggies with fresh cold water after the soak.
  • Tools and Equipment – Remove sticky residue and rust from metal tools, scissors, and too-tight to turn equipment parts by scrubbing with distilled white vinegar. For particularly rusty or sticky components, soak them in the vinegar overnight before scrubbing.
  • Gardening – Pour white vinegar onto unwanted weeds around home and in the garden. Pour carefully to prevent any splashing that could also kill the food crops growing nearby.
  • Disinfecting Cleaner – Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water for a germ-killing cleaning solution. Toss a few orange or lemon peels into the mix to add a bit of fragrance to the cleaner. The vinegar cleaning smell dissipates as the solution dries. During a long-term disaster, illness or disease will spread quickly. Keep the home or bug-out retreat clean to prevent the flu or common cold from infecting your entire family or mutual assistance group. Never mix vinegar and bleach; the release of toxic chemicals can result.
  • Foot Care – Soothe sore and blistered feet by soaking them in a solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.

Vinegar Pickling Recipe

Ingredients

  • Vegetable of choice
  • 1/2 cup dried or fresh spices such as mustard seed, cumin, peppercorn, or coriander
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon non-iodized salt

Instructions

  • Wash and cut vegetables and place them in a mason jar.
  • Pour in the spices.
  • Pour the water, salt and vinegar into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Pour the boiling solution over the vegetables in the mason jar.
  • Place in the refrigerator for three weeks.
  • The pickled vegetables should last for up to six months when stored in a refrigerator.

Five Multi-Use Survival Items to Carry

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get home bag multitoolIt is every outdoor adventurer’s dilemma: How can I carry the items I need to survive an emergency yet cut down on weight? Those who venture into the wilderness miles away from help must be prepared with the skills and tools to cope with survival situations. Yet, being far from civilization means that they must carry all the essentials on their backs, and extra weight makes things more difficult.

The answer to this problem is to invest in items that have more than one use. Knowing how to pack a survival kit with items that have multiple uses is key to adequately preparing and cutting down on pack weight. Here are five survival items that have multiple uses:

1. Knife – A good knife can be used for many different things that can come in handy for emergency situations. Practical uses include killing and cleaning game for food, making fire, splitting wood, cutting bandages and making strips of cloth, digging, making shelters and self-defense.
2. Multi-Tool – There are some uses that large survival knives are not made for, and for everything else, a multi-tool can come in handy. Some of the features multi-tools are equipped with include a small blade, scissors, a can opener, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, pliers and more. There are many different brands and types of multi-tools so be sure to hunt around for the one that fits your needs the best.
3. Garbage and/or Plastic Bags – Garbage bags and plastic bags can be used for just about anything you can think of. They are helpful for storing food, keeping clothes dry, collecting water, fashioning shelters, marking trails, keeping medical dressings dry, and collecting and disposing of human waste.
4. Duct Tape – Duct tape has a wide variety of wilderness uses. It is especially useful for first aid in securing a splint or being used as an emergency bandage. It can also be utilized to start fires, build shelters, and waterproof a tent or a backpack. You can use duct tape as a temporary repair for just about anything. Plus, you can use it as a tie or adhesive to fashion basic weapons. Duct tape is light and easy to carry. Easily wrap a portion of duct tape around a trekking pole or tent stake to take it with you.
5. Paracord – Survival bracelets made out of paracord are popular for good reason. In case of emergency, paracord has many different uses. Paracord is a sturdy material that holds up well under the strain of wilderness living. It can be used for making slings and splints, tying a tourniquet in the case of severe trauma, making shelters, hunting, and starting fires. No extra room is needed in a pack, as they are carried on the wrist.