The Ground is Moving: Tips for Surviving an Earthquake

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Earthquake Survival Preparedness

Imagine the ground under you is moving and you’re in the middle of an earthquake. It’s pretty scary, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not exactly possible to predict earthquakes, though they can be anticipated. The natural disasters mainly occur near edges of tectonic plates (hello, California); however, they can occur anywhere. Learning what to do in the event of a major earthquake is an essential survival skill to have, and one that allows you to walk away with hopefully no more than a few minor scratches and scrapes.

Let’s look at a few tips for effectively surviving an earthquake:

Before the Earthquake

Take inventory of your home and move any heavy objects to safe locations that don’t involve shelves. Avoid hanging heavy pictures or mirrors over sleeping areas and be sure to anchor heavy appliances such as refrigerators and water heaters. Anchor bookcases, dressers, and entertainment units to the wall as well.

Stock up on emergency supplies and store flammable liquids in a safe space. Learn how to turn off your gas, electricity, and water while you’re at it.

During the Earthquake

Stay indoors, if possible. Find a safe location, such as along an interior wall, under a sturdy desk, or under a solid table. If you’re cooking, turn off the appliances and look for cover. Remember to stay away from windows, mirrors and other heavy objects.

If you’re outdoors when the earthquake strikes, move to an open area as quickly as possible. The idea is to avoid any area where falling objects  such as buildings, trees, signs and power lines can hit you. If you’re driving, slow down and stop on the side of the road. Don’t stop on a bridge or overpass. The same is true for power lines, large signs, and trees. Stay in your car.

After the Earthquake

Check for injuries on your body before helping others. Assess building damage as best you can; if you suspect serious damage, move away from the structure and find a safe place, such as an a open field. If you’re indoors and you smell a gas leak or similar problem, herd everyone outdoors to a safe location. Stay clear of all power lines and anything else that looks hazardous.

Have you survived an earthquake? Feel free to share your best tips below!

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!

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!

7 Awesome Home Hiding Places

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diversion safe outlet Photo credit: Amazon.com

You might not realize it, but your home is actually loaded with hiding places! If wanting to hide various items around the house as part of your bug-out plan, review the following super -cool and innovative spots for keeping stuff hidden.:

Fake Plant

Maintain one or a few fake plants around the house and bury money or other essential items at the bottom of the “soil.”

Top Of Doors

Drill holes in the top of interior doors and use them to hide cash, jewelry, or anything else that’s small and valuable. Simply make the hole and insert a metal tube to keep the stuff in place.

Picture Frame

Hide important documents between the picture and the cardboard backing in a picture frame. Secret storage areas behind pictures on the wall is a classic trick; however, few think to look in the frame itself.

Rock/Aspirin Bottle

Glue a rock to the top of an aspirin bottle to make your own Hide-A-Key. Bury the bottle, but (obviously) keep the rock exposed. Use it for keys or other small items you’d rather keep outside of the house.

Freezer/Aluminum Foil

Disguise important items as food by wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them in your freezer.

Wall Clocks

Purchase one or more wall clocks that feature hidden storage components. They’re great for cash, jewelry, and other small but very valuable items.

Paint Cans

Buy faux paint cans (find them on the internet — it’s not hard) and use them to store all kinds of things. Situate them among real paint cans to throw burglars off the scent. Flowerpot safes are another option.

What are your tips for hiding stuff in your home? Any creative ideas not on this list? Share them in the comments section!

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.

The 5 Best Herbs for Container Gardening

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Inexpensive Herb GardenIs your container garden flourishing like it should, and you’d like to add a few herbs to the mix? There are plenty of options that do wonderfully in container gardens, so check a few out and enjoy using your own herbs in assorted recipes.

Basil

Ah, the popular Italian herb. Basil is a fantastic choice, as the annual is quite hardy following root system establishment. Such establishment takes about six weeks, with basil needing plenty of sun and moist, fertile soil during this time. It makes a wonderful companion to thyme and parsley, so why not group them together and create one big herb-tastic container?

Rosemary

The scent of rosemary is beloved for a reason; it smells heavenly! If you’d like to add this special herb to your container garden, be sure to grow it in its own pot. Unlike the aforementioned option, rosemary prefers to go solo. Use quick-draining soil to maintain growth, and place the herb in full sun.

Thyme

This herb is yet another culinary favorite that flourishes within a container. It’s super hardy, so you won’t have to do much in terms of maintenance, though Thyme does enjoy well-draining soil and full sun. Prevent the soil from getting too wet; thyme doesn’t like it!

Sage

Sage will grow and grow and turn woody, which makes it a great choice for container gardening. It’s much easier to prevent the herb from taking over your kitchen when it’s in a container! The herb is also celebrated for adding structure to a container garden. Use moist, well-draining soil and place the container in full sun to keep sage healthy.

Mint

Mint is a container-friendly herb that, like sage, can become invasive if left to its own devices. It does well both in partial shade and full sun, and requires well-draining soil. In addition to its culinary uses, mosquitoes detest mint, so it’s a natural mosquito repellant.

Additional Options

Other favorite herbs for container gardening include:

  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon

Which herbs are your favorite for container gardening, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

4 Tips For Not Drowning

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swimming survival skillsLearning how to not drown is pretty darn important, as death by water is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Water safety is an essential survival skill, so if planning any trips that involve the great blue sea, rivers, lakes, or any other waterway, check out the following tips so you and those you care about will stay aware and safe.

Don’t Panic

Remaining calm is one of the most essential things you can do in the face of danger. Whether unexpectedly falling into a body of water or finding yourself swept away by an ocean undertow, riptide, or huge wave, refusing to panic is very, very necessary. Many drown due to exhaustion because they start flailing around out of paralyzing fear.

If you’re in the ocean and an undertow or riptide takes hold of you, let it do its thing. You might be carried quite far from your starting point, but if you save your energy, you’ll be able to swim back to shore or have a lifeguard rescue you.

Swim at Designated Areas Only

Swimming in designated areas is a great way to stay safe. If swimming in the ocean, do so only when there’s a lifeguard present, and for goodness’ sake, don’t swim at night. The same is true of lakes and pools — it’s much better to swim with other people and lifeguards around. Rivers aren’t usually swim-worthy unless you come across a small pool free of currents. Currents in this type of waterway go every which way making drowning a very easy thing.

Remember, if you’re in doubt about any swimming area, avoid it.  

Tread, Tread, Tread

Learning how to tread water is another necessity in your fight against treacherous water. Treading water is often done in pools by those learning how to swim, but it’s helpful no matter what body of water you’re in. Currents can make treading difficult, but the more you know about staying afloat, the better. Treading takes little effort and may be the difference between life and death.

Additional Tips

 Other tips for not drowning include keeping a weather eye on your companions and having them do the same for you It also helps to respect the water you’re swimming in, especially the ocean. The ocean is incredibly beautiful and wonderful, but also a serious force of nature that demands serious respect.

 Have you any near-drowning stories? Share them in the comments section!

3 Post-Apocalyptic Skills You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

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definition-of-survival

Imagine this: You’ve spent years perfecting your survival plan, learning skills, stockpiling food, and building what amounts to a fortress that’s basically in the middle of nowhere. You’re all set to ride out almost anything the world has to throw at you. When the inevitable disaster finally does come, you’re all set. This is the idea that many preppers have as an ideal scenario, but there’s one thing missing: the rest of the world.

When talking about a disaster, is the act of surviving enough? For some people the answer to this is a resounding yes, but if you stop and think about it, surviving is only one small part of the larger picture.

Whatever the disaster is, it’s up to the survivors to rebuild and make society function once again. These may not be skills you would think about when deciding what to learn for survival situations, but without people helping to make things better, you won’t be surviving for much. There are some skills that you can learn to help make things better, and they’re probably not ones you would naturally think of.

1. Public Speaking

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When thinking about disaster survival, most people focus on doing things solo, or with a small group of people. In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, these small groups will, at some point, need to start joining forces to make any real changes.

Learning public speaking can help you lead these larger groups and direct them to get work done as a team. While most survivors may not be comfortable talking to large groups, having this skill can easily make you into a leader, which can help you practice skill #2.

2. Town/City Planning

CloverdaleTownCentreMap

Once groups start to come together to form communities again, the need to plan a town or city will be crucial to long-term survival. This can range from deciding which buildings in a deserted town to rebuild first to have basic needs met to the complete planning and layout of a new community.

This doesn’t have to be full-size buildings and roads, but instead can be tents, cabins, even hand-built shelters. Organizing people into a community builds trust and gives a feeling of normalcy and togetherness that’s crucial to keeping a group of people together.

These skills can be learned by attending local community planning meetings, reviewing common town layouts, and even paying attention to how your own town is laid out. This is easier to see when your town is smaller, but even visiting a small town can give you insight into town planning. Another great resource is this link from The Guardian where they talk about building a city from scratch.

3. Issue Resolution

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The only sure thing about bringing people together into a group is that there will be conflict. Add into the standard types of conflict a stressful situation like major disaster and you have a recipe for some very heated arguments and more likely than not, all-out fights.

By studying conflict resolution, you can help a community be better organized and work together better. Force and threat of violence will only go so far in stopping people from fighting, which is why knowing how to successfully resolve conflicts is so important.

Check out the tips in this link for a great place to start, and while it’s given in the first person, think about how these would apply to others and how you could use them to resolve other people’s conflicts as well.

Bringing It All Together

By learning these skills and more, you can be a positive force in rebuilding the communities that disaster has torn apart. Hiding away and surviving is great for when a major disaster first happens, but when you transition from immediate survival mode to long-term survival mode, it’s time to come out of hiding and start building communities once again.

This doesn’t mean that you should run up to the first person you see and invite them into your survival plan and hope for the best, but communities can and must be rebuilt, and by not joining in the rebuilding process, you actually hurt the survival of everyone.

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.

How to Collect Rainwater

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Rainwater Collection SystemIf you’re looking to save money on water for your household, consider collecting rainwater. Using rainwater has a lot of benefits, and rainwater collection systems are fairly simple to put together. Collecting rainwater also means that you are practicing more sustainable living.

There are many reasons why using rainwater is advantageous. First of all, rainwater does not go through the complex filtration and treatment process. Directly collected rainfall typically has low hardness levels and does not pick up extra minerals, salt, and other pollutants from seeping into the ground, reducing stress on underground aquifers. Collecting rainwater tends to cut down on erosion and household water waste as well saving time and money.

Moreover, rainwater can be used for a wide variety of purposes including drinking, cooking, bathing, irrigation, watering plants, and watering and washing animals. Plants especially seem to enjoy the soft, warm, chlorine-free water. Stored rainwater can serve as a handy supply in case of emergencies and/or power outages.

The most basic method of collecting rainwater is that of a rain barrel. Simply place the barrel outside and wait for it to be filled with rain. In order to minimize the number of contaminants in the water, be sure to keep the barrel clean and free from debris. Remove any overhanging branches and debris in gutters. You can keep mosquitoes out and other insects out by making sure the barrel is sealed tightly and covered on top with a fine wire mesh. You’ll probably still need to boil the water before drinking to remove viruses, bacteria, and other parasites.

Another way to collect rainwater is through a rainwater harvesting system. Also known as a rainwater catchment system, this is a must if you plan to use rainwater as your household’s sole water source. Small systems cost a few thousand dollars, or you can fashion your own. A rainwater catchment connects your house’s gutters to a center water tank; some can hold up to 100,000 liters of water.

To fashion a rainwater harvesting system, make sure that your house is fitted with gutters or downspouts. If not, you can place aluminum or plastic on the rim of the house’s roof. The rain will fall on the roof and collect in the gutters. The downspouts will funnel the water downward; you can make your own from aluminum or plastic. Place a water container or rain barrels beneath the downspouts. The containers or rain barrels are placed on top of cinder blocks for stability.

Overall, rainwater is not hard to collect, and it has a lot of advantages for use in your household. When you harvest rainwater, you cut down on water waste and improve the environment at the same time.

Don’t Get Eaten By A Bear & Other Wilderness Trip Planning Tips

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wilderness survival - trainingPlanning a long trek into the great, wide open? A wilderness trip involves a heck of a lot of planning so you don’t, um, die. Check out the following tips to ensure your adventure is one you’ll be talking about for years and years.

Research

Study the area you intend to traverse before you do anything else. Become as familiar with it as you possibly can, which includes learning about weather patterns, area wildlife, routes into and out of the woods, etc. Ensure you’re able to handle the terrain, whether it involves lots of dry desert or steep mountain passes, and learn about the region’s edible plants in case of emergency.

Let Others Know

Let friends and family know where you’ll be if you’re traveling by yourself. Tell them when you’re leaving and when you expect to return. If you will be in cell phone range at various times, let loved ones know you’ll call with updates on your trip.

Pack the Essentials

Pack what the National Park Service calls the “10 essentials.”

  1. Extra food
  2. Extra warm-when-wet clothing
  3. Compass
  4. Pocketknife
  5. Sunglasses and sunblock
  6. Flashlight with extra batteries
  7. Topographic map of the area
  8. First aid kit
  9. Matches in a waterproof container
  10. Fire starter or candle

Bring the Correct Clothing/Footwear

Face the elements by wearing layers of clothing. You can always take extra pieces off, but if you don’t have any to begin with, you’ll likely find yourself very cold and/or wet. Wool and polar fleece are two excellent materials, while cotton should be avoided, as it will keep you wet and very cold. Rain gear is another must and should include a quality raincoat, gaiters, and rain pants. Bring waterproof boots as well.

Procure a Tent with a Rain Fly

Purchase a tent with a rain fly if you haven’t already. Tents designed for three, if not all four, seasons are best.

Don’t Forget about this Other Stuff

Pack the following items for additional assistance when alone in the wilderness.

  • Ice ax (if applicable)
  • Cover for keeping your pack dry in wet weather
  • Bee sting kit
  • Water sanitation tablets
  • Garden trowel for digging catholes
  • Toilet paper
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Portable cooking station/utensils
  • Extra water bottle

What are your best wilderness trip planning tips?

 

 

 

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.

This Tiny Food Could Save Your Life

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Rice Food StorageDid you know there are more than 100,000 varieties of rice on this planet? White rice is merely one option, with brown and various long-grain rices being some of the healthiest foods you can ingest. Rice is also a highly versatile food that lends itself to all kinds of recipes, making it a fantastic dinner option in times of emergency.

Check out some of the many ways to cook with rice before buying it in bulk:

Pilaf

Make a rice pilaf using whatever spices and veggies you have lying around that blend well together. (If unaware what a pilaf is, it’s pretty much just rice with assorted spices and veggies.) For example, if you have cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, you’ve got yourself a yummy ‘lil pilaf, especially when paired with basmati rice.

Tostadas

Rice is a staple in many Mexican dishes. It’s not usually part of tostadas, however Alicia Silverstone has a yummy “tostada” recipe in her book The Kind Diet that involves the super grain. Think brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas, celery, carrots, cucumber, sunflower seeds and avocado. If all you have is some beans and cheese, they work just as well with rice and tortillas to make a hearty tostada option.

Fried Rice

Fried rice is another easy option that requires cooking a few veggies first, such as daikon root, garlic, onions, and carrots with olive oil, then adding the rice.  Again, work with what you have, and throw that rice on a skillet.

Red Beans And Rice 

This New Orleans staple simply consists of rice and — you guessed it — red beans. Brown rice is the better option, though most red beans and rice dishes feature white rice with a pile of red beans in the middle.

Salads 

There are plenty of salad recipes that incorporate rice, such as chicken/wild rice salads. Other ideas include black beans, rice, and onions with veggies such as tomato and celery.

These are merely a few of the many ways to use rice! Other ideas include burritos, cheesy-rice casseroles, and cilantro-lime rice among lots more recipes. It also simply works on its own as a side or an entire meal if necessary, and is very inexpensive!

What  are your favorite rice recipes? Share them in the comments section!

How to Survive the Cold like a Navy SEAL

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Few people would disagree that Navy SEALs are a pretty tough group. Their training alone is more than most of us will experience in our entire lifetime, and that’s only what they do BEFORE they become SEALs. As tough as they are, even a SEAL is vulnerable to the cold, especially when he’s wet. Hypothermia can affect a SEAL just as much as you or me.

So what happens when a SEAL gets wet when it’s frigid out? Well, the same thing happens to them as would happen to us: They get in trouble. How much trouble are we talking about? More than you probably can guess. If you look at the crash of flight 1549 into the Hudson River a few years ago, the 20-degree air temperature and 40-degree water temperature was more than enough to give passengers hypothermia for the few minutes they were exposed. The average person can survive in 41-degree water for only 10–20 minutes before reaching hypothermia.

While the passengers were dressed far less appropriately for the emergency situation than the SEALs were, the fact remains that the combination of water and cold made an already dangerous situation far deadlier.

So how does this relate to you? Well, you’re probably not planning on taking any outdoor baths in the winter, but it’s all too easy to fall through ice on a lake, slip into a stream while hunting, or be forced to enter water to save someone or something during an emergency. As soon as you get wet and cold, the hypothermia clock starts ticking. What do you do?

If you listen to TV survival shows, then you probably guessed that you should build a fire as quickly as possible, strip down to your skivvies, and hang your wet clothes to dry. While this seems like a great idea, it can be one of the worst things you can do.

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The Rewarming Drill

John Barkow of Sitka Gear worked with Navy SEALs on how they can survive and recover from becoming drenched in a frigid environment without any external help. He did this by convincing SEALs to drop their packs and walk into a half-frozen lake in the middle of winter during a sleeting winter storm. Any one of those would be too much for most of us, but they (somewhat) gladly did all three.

Barkow said this “was meant to mimic the scenarios you hope to never encounter.” The dunk took place after a three-hour patrol hike, far away from any quick assistance. The SEALs would stay in the icy water for 12 minutes before being allowed to get out.

Instead of stripping off their layers and building a fire like you would think, they instead followed John’s tenant of survival by “getting immediately out of the elements and gaining control of the situation.” So, how do you get control of a situation this dangerous and likely deadly?

Getting Warm

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Instead of the strip and dry method we assume is correct, Barkow had the SEALS pull their backup synthetic outer layer from their packs and put them on OVER their drenched layers. They split into pairs with one SEAL putting up a small tent and the other preparing the stove to boil water. No fires yet — just a camp stove and boiled snow.

From here, both men got into their tents and into their sleeping bags. Once the water was boiling, they made a hot drink and rehydrated some chili. Once consumed, they continued to lie in their bags and tents and wait. What they were waiting for is for their metabolism to kick into action and start to warm them from the inside out.

After a few hours, the SEALs gradually stopped shivering and were warm enough to function again. During this time, their bodies had nearly dried their base layers, partially dried their mid-layers, and their outer layers were nice and frosted. At this point, they could build a fire if necessary and dry out anything else that needed it while being completely safe without any more risk of hypothermia.

How Does It Work?

So how does this seemingly magical recovery after a 12-minute dunk work? Well, there are a few key items at work here. They are:

  1. Proper supplies carried in their packs
  2. Proper layering of clothes
  3. Warm-when-wet outer layer and sleeping bags

Synthetic layers are the key to being safe in winter weather. While down might keep you toasty when its dry, it can quickly absorb water and lose its primary form of insulation when wet. Cotton is another example of this idea. Cotton holds liquids for an extended period of time, which in this situation, would mean a much slower drying time.

Therefore, cotton and down in both layers and sleeping bags are a big no-no in winter survival situations. Here’s a great instructional piece by REI on proper winter layering. Just ignore the parts about down insulation.

By having a moisture-wicking base layer, the water/sweat is wicked away from your skin to the mid-layer. The mid-layer should be breathable as to allow for moisture to continue its path away from you to the outer layer. Here, it should collect, and if done correctly, the proof should be seen as frost on the outer dry layer.

The only additional layer you need to carry along with you is the emergency synthetic outer layer. The rest should dry with your body’s heat.

There are more “rewarming drills” including one without a tent or sleeping bag. While we strongly recommend you don’t ever try your own rewarming drill, knowing what to wear in case you’re forced into this situation is critical to surviving in cold weather, especially when you have to carry everything on your back and weight/space is at a premium. Check out the full article here and gain a little more respect for Navy SEALs.

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.

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.

How to Craft an Effective Bug-Out Plan

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When it comes to disasters, nobody truly wants to leave their home and all of their belongings, but there are times that the decision is made for you and the only safe option is to literally head for the hills.

The act of heading out from your current home to find safer conditions is known as bugging out. While bugging out means grabbing your supplies and getting out of Dodge while the getting is good, it does not mean that you should just all of a sudden throw what you think you need into a bag and run. The only way bugging out would be safer than staying where you are is having an effective bug-out plan in place. By crafting an effective plan for bugging out, you can make sure you have what you need, know where you’re going, and most importantly, know when to make the call. There are five key questions you need to ask yourself to make an effective bug-out plan, and by focusing on these, you should be able to safely and effectively bug out when the SHTF.

1. When should you leave?

When it comes to bugging out, knowing when to make the call to leave is by far the most critical decision. Leave too soon and the disaster may pass, opening you up to looting and destruction of your home, but leave too late and you can easily doom yourself to being trapped in whatever disaster you’re trying to escape.

For example, think about a wildfire. These are definitely not something you want to be around, but knowing where the fire is, how it’s spreading, and what your overall risk is all play in to your decision on staying or leaving.

2. Where are you going?

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There are few reasons you’d ever leave your home, possibly forever; you need to know where you’re going.

For natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and fires you should know where shelters are and where the best places to be in each scenario are. For example, you’d want a high spot during a flood and a place away from the woods or fields in case of wildfire.

If the disaster you’re worried about is more of the man-made variety, then you’d be wise to plan a bug-out spot that’s far from civilization. Each scenario you have should include at least two locations to bug-out to.

3. How are you going to get there?

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With the location in mind, the next question you need to ask yourself is how you’re going to get there. Are you taking your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, or are you hiking out of town on foot? Ideally the motorized means of travel are the easiest, but depending on the type of disaster you’re planning for, they may not be an option.

Roads can become clogged and fuel can quickly become a precious commodity, combining to make it hard, if not impossible, to escape to your bug-out location by vehicle. As with the other questions above, you need to come up with a few different options based on the scenarios you’re planning for.

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On top of the means of transportation, you need to have a map of how to get to your bug-out spot. While today we use GPS navigation for just about everything, this technology can easily become disabled during a major disaster, rendering it useless. What you need is the tried-and-true analog method of travel: map and compass. Plan out at least two routes to each bug-out location on a map meant specifically for your bug-out plan, and store it with your compass and any other bug-out necessities.

4. What are you bringing with you?

Speaking of those necessities, deciding on what you need to bring with you is the starting point of building your own Bug Out Bag. This bag should include everything you need to survive for 72 hours. Sure, you might be bugging out for more than that, but we’ll get to that in just a minute. For now, understand that your bug-out bag is your 72-hour survival best friend.

The basics you need to include are food, water, fire starters, a first aid kit and some additional clothing. After this there’s quite a bit you can add to make bugging out better. Check out these posts on everything you need to know about bug-out bags.

5. How long will you be gone?

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With your 72-hour bug-out bag in place, you need to ask yourself how long you plan on bugging out. If you’re just leaving to avoid the aforementioned wildfire or flood, then a few days should be fine, but if you’re planning on bugging out for longer, possibly forever, then you need to think about the bigger picture.

Maybe escaping with just a backpack of supplies won’t do. If you have the time to think about it, you should bring enough supplies to keep you going for as long as possible. This is where knowing when to bug out comes into play. By gauging this correctly you may be able to escape with a carload of supplies before the highways become crowded and people start looting those of us that are more prepared.

Think about those scenarios we discussed above and estimate how long you’d need to bug out for each. By knowing how long you plan on being gone, you can better prepare for the exact supplies you need. Too few and you run the risk of, well, not surviving. Too many and you run the risk of being slowed down or targeted for looting.

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Think about your answers to these five questions so you can keep yourself and your family alive. Who knows, maybe the idea of bugging out might start to be not so scary after all.

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.

Emergency Water Storage Ideas

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7gallon-5gallon-water-storageHumans may be able to go a month or more without food, but we’re dead in a matter of days without agua. It’s our planet’s most precious resource, and storing it in case of emergencies or a zombie apocalypse is a fantastic survival tactic. Check out a few ideas regarding emergency water storage and make sure that whatever you store the precious liquid in is clean. Very, very clean.

Water Bottles

Purchasing several packs of water bottles from your local grocery store is a pretty obvious water storage idea, but one that’s still worth mentioning. If you decide to stack your emergency storage space with water bottles, make sure they and all other plastic water containers aren’t sitting near a heat source. This causes the plastic to melt a bit, and subsequently leach chemicals into your water.

Edible Plastic Containers

“Edible” in this instance does not refer to the containers themselves, but rather what they house. Edible plastic containers are used for water, juice, milk, and soda, while inedible containers are used for soap, laundry detergent, etc. Recycle edible plastic containers and use them for water storage, but again be sure to sanitize them first.

Glass Bottles/Jars

As long as you keep them in a safe area where they won’t fall and shatter into a million little pieces, glass bottles and jars make great water storage containers. Think mason jars, glass soda jars, glass apple cider vinegar jars, and any other viable glass container. Glass jars can even take a little heat without chemicals leaching into the water because they’re, you know, glass.

Heavy-Duty 5-Gallon Containers

Heavy-duty containers capable of holding up to five gallons of water are another emergency must-have, as they make storing a whole lot of liquid easy.

Other water storage ideas include water bricks and collapsible containers. You may also want to invest in water treatment kits and filters to ensure optimal sanitation.

What are you best water storage tricks? Share them in the comments section!

How To Make Activated Charcoal, And Why You Should!

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charcoal survvial uses

Activated charcoal boasts a multitude of survival and homesteading uses. The charcoal smolders instead of burns with a flame like wood does, making it a viable alternative to tossing a log on the fire when sight discipline is a concern.

Carbon, which is what activated charcoal is made of, is also a primary component in the water filtration process. Carbon does not remove the salts or minerals present in water but does effectively filter potentially harmful organic compounds and chlorine from the liquid.

Activated charcoal can also be used to treat acute poisoning. It binds together with the poison to help prevent the stomach and intestines from absorbing the harmful matter. The charcoal also helps the poison to quickly pass through the body. If the individual is poisoned with an acid that stems from petroleum or alkali, do not use activated carbon as an emergency treatment.

Constructing an activated charcoal water filtration system is both a quick and easy process and can be done on a small scale in a plastic water bottle, or on a larger scale inside a plastic barrel to filter a larger amount of water. Powdered charcoal can be used in place of the activated variety when none is available, but it is often regarded as being far less effective.

How to Make Activated Charcoal

  1. Gathering a dense hardwood for use in making the charcoal is the first and perhaps the most important step in the process. The more dense the wood, the more charcoal you will make. Do not use pressure-treated lumber for making the activated carbon. The lumber contains chemicals that make the charcoal unsafe for poison treatment, cooking, and most definitely unfit for water filtration.
  2. After gathering the wood, chop it into blocks or chips. Chop the wood as uniformly as possible so the blocks or chips will “cook” at the same rate. The bigger the wood blocks, the longer it will take to reduce the material to charcoal form.
  3. Heat the wood in a pot with a lid. Heating the wood chips in a space with an absence of oxygen is key. You should use a cast iron pot if possible. If you can, drill about three small holes into the bottom of the pan to enhance the heating process. This allows a few of the blocks on the bottom to actually ignite. Drilling the holes is not absolutely necessary; the heating process will just go more slowly without the presence of the holes. The ignited chips or blocks will ultimately be reduced to ashes and not become activated charcoal.
  4. Hang the pot directly over a live fire and cover loosely with the lid. Smoke that is either white or light gray will appear rather quickly. The smoke is produced from the compounds in the wood and water vapor. When the smoke begins to resemble a tan color, put the lid on tightly and keep the fire beneath stoked.
  5. The level of smoke flowing from the pot will dissipate after several hours. When this happens, place the pot directly onto the fire and pile hot coals around the cook pot. If you can cover the entire pot with ashes and dirt, that is ideal. Allow the pot to continue to cool for at least four more hours or overnight.
  6. If making activated charcoal without a pot, simply wrap the wood chips or small blocks in aluminum foil. No foil handy in your survival situation? No problem. Place small pieces of wood you have chopped or shaved from a log over a fire and get them burning. Once they are burning pretty good, like getting ready to roast hot dogs on a camping trip good, cover the chips with dirt or sand. Leave a vent hole at the top to form a volcano-type mound.
  7. After waiting about two hours, carefully dig into the pile and feel around to find your pieces of activated charcoal.
  8. If you find some pieces that still remain in their original wood state, the pot was not allowed to cook long enough. If the wood pieces are covered with a substantial amount of ash, the pot got too much air. When properly cooked, the activated charcoal should be very black in color, lightweight, and easily crumble in your hand.

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How to Make an Emergency Charcoal Water Filter

  1. Once the activated charcoal has cooled completely, crush the bricks into small pieces. The pieces should be about the same size as fish aquarium gravel.
  2. Use a clean plastic bottle or fashion a cylindrical item from tree bark or other contamination-free and relatively clean material found in your surroundings. If using a plastic bottle, cut off the bottom so that both ends of the container now have openings.
  3. Push grass or a clean fabric through the smaller opening until it is packed tightly. If both ends of your container or cylinder are the same size, just choose one to hold the filler that will prevent the charcoal from falling out. If the bottle cap to the bottle is available, you can poke a small hole through the middle and place it back onto the bottle after the filler material has been put into place. Fill about one fourth of the container with the grass or fabric.
  4. Firmly pack the crushed charcoal into the container until it is packed as tightly as possible. You want the water to have to drip through the charcoal as slowly as possible so the water is filtered as thoroughly as possible. Fill the container up to the halfway mark with the charcoal.
  5. On top of the charcoal layer, push a few inches of grass and/or sand or another piece of fabric to keep the activated carbon firmly in place as the water is poured into the container.
  6. Place the container, narrow opening or grass end down, into the mouth of a clean jar or the pot that will be used to boil the water. Handle the container carefully so the layers are not disturbed.
  7. Pour the water in slowly and allow it to drip at its own pace into the new container. You should repeat this step about three times to make sure the water is filtered as much as possible before boiling.
  8. Bring the water to a boil and allow it to remain at a boiling temperature for several minutes to make sure it has been adequately sterilized.

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Allow the water to cool before drinking. If sterilizing medical equipment or bandages with the water, make sure to thoroughly disinfect the pot before using it again to make drinking water.

Large Event Safety Tips

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Staying safe in a crowdPlanning on attending a huge festival or other sizable event that’s sure to draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people? As fun as these events are, it’s important to stay safe, as various unpleasant things can occur. Rather than finding yourself in a sticky situation or facing serious injury, learn how to best protect yourself. Check out the following tips to help you get started:

Familiarize Yourself

Become as familiar as you can with the event surroundings. Most events provide maps, so be sure to obtain one and keep it on you at all times. You never know when you may need it, and it will also help you locate all exits, restrooms, concessions, first aid tents, etc.

Remember to Hydrate

It doesn’t take long to become severely dehydrated, which leaves you susceptible to dizzy spells and fainting among other problems, particularly if it’s crazy-hot out. Bring a canteen with you or other refillable water bottle and remember to stay hydrated throughout the event.

Have a Plan

If you’re going to the event with a large group, have a plan in case one of you gets lost. Designate an area as your meet-up spot, such as by the restrooms or a certain booth. Ensure everyone has their cell phones on them as well, which you can also use as part of your check-in system.

Don’t Make Yourself a Target

Forget waving your wallet around or carrying bags that pickpockets can easily stick their paws in. This makes you an obvious target! A money clip is a great thing to have since you wear it under your clothes and therefore keep it separate from other necessary items such as your phone and keys. If possible, hide important items within your car.

Remain Aware

Whatever else, make certain you stay aware of what’s going on around you. If a situation happening near you seems suspicious or dangerous, walk away from it and alert any authorities if you think it necessary.

Use these tips to stay safe during all large events you attend! Have fun!

Do you have a large event survival story? Share it in the comments section!

Dangers Rodents Present

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RodentSure, most rodents are relatively cute and cuddly-looking, but that doesn’t mean you should pick them up or keep them as pets. Rodents present a variety of dangers and are among the bigger challenges for pest control companies. Let’s review some of the dangers rodents such as mice and rats present and how to ensure they stay the heck away from your home.

Parasites

Rodents play host to a number of parasites, including mites and the dreaded ticks. Mites and ticks carry deadly pathogens.

Germs

Rodents don’t have to harbor parasites to cause trouble. Their urine and feces contain germs that wreak all kinds of havoc on human health. As if that weren’t enough, rodents are capable of depositing hundreds of fecal pellets in the span of a week. They can also urinate in thousands of areas within the same time frame.

Diseases

Rodents carry a whole slew of un-fun diseases, which are transmitted via excrement and direct contact. Examples of the many viruses spread by rodents include rat-bite fever, the hanta virus and oh yeah, PLAGUE.

Property Damage

In addition to making you and your family sick, rodents pose threats to property such as books and clothes.

Tips For Keeping Rodents Out of Your Home

Keeping any and all rodents out of your house may seem like a lost cause, but fear not. There’s plenty you can do to ensure mice don’t take up permanent residence in your home. If you have a cat, you’re off to a great start, as mice and rats aren’t going to venture where kitties are waiting. Depositing fur and even urine-soaked litter in high-traffic rodent areas of your home also helps keep the little twits away.

Other tips include sealing all holes and cracks in your home and checking your foundation for gaps. Never leave food out or keep trash cans with food in them open. Store food in sealed containers instead. Get rid of dense vegetation around your house as well as stacks of firewood against or near the home. Pick up fallen fruit from backyard trees if applicable, and never leave garbage cans uncovered. You’ll attract raccoons and possums in addition to mice and rats.

Have you dealt with a rodent infestation? Share your tail, er, tale of horror in the comments section!

[HA1]Maybe a little more detail here? How do they pose a threat? By chewing these items?

Dangerous Amphibians

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Golden poison dart frog

You may really love amphibians, or you may find them completely gross. Either way, it’s a good idea to know which ones can potentially kill you, especially if planning on visiting assorted jungle locales. Let’s review a few of the most dangerous amphibians on the planet and what they can do to you.

Golden Poison Dart Frog

Generally speaking, if you see a brightly colored frog, run in the other direction. Bright colors are a telltale sign the animal is poisonous. The Golden Poison Dart Frog, for example, is bright yellow with greenish-black legs. It resides in the rain forests of Central and South America, and features poison so toxic even small amounts of the stuff can kill you. We’re talking 0.0000004 ounces of poison. Yep. The poison attacks the nerves and muscles, and ultimately causes death via respiratory or muscular paralysis.

Colorado River Toad

This chubby toad is also called the Sonoran Desert Toad. It lives in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Both skin and venom are poisonous, with glands the main defense system. The poison is enough to kill an adult dog; however, the chemicals it emits are also used in drug consumption. They cause auditory hallucinations and euphoria when smoked, but should not be taken orally. In other words, do not lick this toad.

Blue Poison Dart Frog

The Blue Poison Dart Frog lives in southern Suriname, South America, and can be found near moss-covered rocks and small streams. The frog is bright blue with dark blue and black spots on various body parts. It secretes poison to keep predators away. While the amphibian may not be as deadly as the Golden Dart Frog, it’s still a good idea to maintain a good distance.

Other dangerous amphibians include the common toad, cane toad, Pacific newt, American toad, and Fowler’s toad, among others.

Have you had a run-in with a dangerous amphibian? Share your story in the comments section!

Yosemite Park Hiking Tips

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Yosemite National Park HikingTipsGearing up to do some serious hiking in the stunningly beautiful Yosemite National Park? Before you lace up your hiking boots, do yourself a favor and check out the following tips to ensure you don’t get eaten by a bear, suffer heat exhaustion, or just have an unpleasant trip in general.

Avoid Wearing Cotton

Among the best Yosemite-Park-related hiking tips is to leave the cotton undies at home. What you want is polypropylene underwear and clothing, as they wick moisture away from the body rather than allowing it to stick to you and creating unsightly rashes.

Go For Waterproof Options

Planning on hiking a “mist trail”? Yosemite has a fabulous waterfall that makes the adjoining trail mist-tastic, so bring a raincoat and waterproof clothing if you wish to try this option.

Keep a Headlamp With You

One of your most essential pieces of hiking gear is your headlamp, whether hiking Yosemite or anywhere else. Even if hiking during the day, it’s still a good idea to have your headlamp with you.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Don’t ever leave for a hike without plenty of agua. The National Park Service recommends drinking at least one quart of water every hour to avoid dehydration and the unpleasantness that follows.

Don’t Leave Without Sunscreen

Remember to slather on the sunscreen unless you love the lobster look. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses while you’re at it, and bring a lip balm that contains sunblock. Your kisser can get burned too!

Bring the Insect Repellent

Yosemite is chock-full of mosquitoes, so bring whatever bug spray you favor and apply it every three to four hours.

Invest in Hiking Boots

If you don’t have hiking boots, now’s the time to invest. They provide the traction and support other shoes can’t match.

Another general hiking tip to keep in mind? Hike on established trails! Failure to do so could easily result in run-ins with the aforementioned bear among a slew of other problems.

Have you hiked Yosemite? Share your experience in the comments section!

Best Survival-Based TV Shows

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survivorman

There’s a whole slew of survival-themed television series out there, some of which fall into the “reality” category. Others are fictitious, but easily serve as potential warnings about the future. Check out a few of the best survival-based television series and maybe learn a new skill or three:

Survivorman

Survivorman was a Canadian-produced television series that aired on the Outdoor Life Network starting in 2005. The last of the specials aired in 2014. The show followed host Lee Stroud as he used his survival skills to last in various remote areas for up to 10 days at a time. Stroud brought very little food, water, and equipment to each thoroughly scouted location.

Falling Skies

The post-apocalyptic/sci-fi series starring Noah Wyle ran from 2011 on TNT until August of this year. Wyle played Tom Mason, a former Boston University professor who helps lead a group of civilians out of Boston following an alien invasion. This invasion nearly destroyed the Earth some six months before the show begins. The aliens’ goals are outlined in the fourth season, which includes — surprise! — enslaving humans.

Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild is a survival series starring Bear Grylls, a British adventurer who is left stranded in various locations around the world with his film crew. Most of the time Grylls is in a jungle or forest, and he occasionally has a celebrity companion, such as Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller. The series aired from 2006 to 2011 on the Discovery Channel.

The Walking Dead

What survival show list is complete without The Walking Dead? The horror/apocalyptic series aired from 2010 to 2015 on AMC and begins with deputy sheriff Rick Grimes waking up from a months-long coma to find he’s living in a world overrun by zombies. He eventually meets up with his wife and son, and together with other survivors tries to make it in a crazy, zombie-filled world.

Did your favorite make the list? Honorable mentions go to Marooned with Ed Stafford, Extreme Survival and Survivors.

Archery Safety Tips

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Archery Safety TipsWhether you’re channeling your inner Katniss Everdeen or simply want to learn more about archery, it’s essential to take safety tips to (proverbial) heart. This is important not just for your own safety, but to avoid shooting the eye out of those around you. With that in mind, let’s review a few excellent archery safety tips so you enjoy each and every shooting session.

Inspect Your Arrows

Take a good, hard look at every arrow before you shoot it. Look for cracks and other signs of damage, as a damaged arrow could easily snap and injure you or anyone nearby.

Wait in Line

If engaging in archery practice with a bunch of other people, it’s important to know your lines. Literally. First, there’s the waiting line where you stand patiently with other archers to take your turn. Next, there’s the shooting line, or the line you stand at to shoot your bow. Finally, there’s the target line, but it’s mainly used as practice for young archers.

Don’t Point

Never, ever, ever point your bow at anything other than your target, even if there’s no arrow drawn. This will help you create correct shooting habits. While you’re at it, never draw your bow if there’s something between you and your target, even if you don’t intend to shoot it.

Load First

Refrain from pulling your bow back if there’s no arrow drawn, as it could damage the bow or you. Ouch. Load your arrow before pulling the bow back — always.

Take It Off

Take off your watch and any jewelry before you begin shooting, as such items could interfere with the process.

Listen Carefully

Listen closely to your instructor whether shooting indoors or out. Your instructor will let you know when you can shoot, when you can’t shoot, and provide plenty of other vital information.

Use these and other archery safety tips to stay injury-free during practice sessions!

Are you an experienced archer? Share your best safety tips in the comments section!

More Survival Tips From ‘The Walking Dead’

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the-walking-dead

Can’t get enough of The Walking Dead? Whether you’re a huge zombie fan or simply became enthralled with this particular show, there are plenty of survival skills to take away from the much-celebrated AMC series. Let’s tack on a few more tips to those we’ve already discussed.

Stay in a group

Take a cue from the cult series as well as any herd of wild animals and stay in a group if you can. More people equal more skills, especially if some in the group know how to wield a knife. Or a crossbow. Or a, well, you get the idea.

Remain aware of your surroundings

You might not have zombies to worry about, but that doesn’t make staying aware of your surroundings any less important. After all, you don’t want to turn around and find yourself face-to-face with a bear. If you’re lost, camping out, or otherwise wandering around the wilderness, keep a weather eye out at all times.

Don’t flip out

One of the most important aspects of survival is staying calm and cool. Freaking the heck out means you aren’t breathing properly, not to mention drawing attention to yourself and your group. You don’t want to get the attention of any nearby predators or crazy people, so remember to take a few deep breaths and think about your next move.

Use what you’ve got

The heroes of The Walking Dead know a thing or three about being resourceful. They regularly take full advantage of what they have around them and are expert scavengers to boot. Making the most of anything you find — anything at all — is a great way to keep yourself, you know, not dead.

Catalog these and other tips — such as procuring food, shelter and water — for when you’re faced with a dire situation!

Have you found yourself stranded before? What did you do to survive? Share your tips in the comments section!

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!

Prepping For a Flood

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_57013387_flooding_signNot every disaster is world ending, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less devastating to those involved. Floods are a serious threat that can ruin lives; as we saw with the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding, floods can easily decimate entire cities.

Prepping doesn’t have to be reserved for End of the World as we Know it scenarios, but instead should be used to keep you, your family, and your belongings as safe as possible in any survival situation — floods included. By knowing your risk and planning accordingly, you can keep safe and survive a flood and live to fight another day.

Know Your Flood Risk

If you live on flat land, or worse yet, in a valley, you’re probably at some level of risk for a flood. Even if you think you’re not at risk, a flood in your area can still affect you by knocking out power, gas, and water service to your home. If you live on a hill but receive your water from a valley, chances are a flood would cut the supply of water off pretty quickly.

NOAA 2014 Spring_flood_risk

The same goes for power and other utilities, too. Calculating your flood risk starts with your home’s chance for flooding but should also include your surrounding area as well. Check out the Flood Risk evaluation tool over at FloodSmart.gov to get a better idea of what might be in store for you.

Understand Flood Terminology

Just as GI Joe taught us, knowing is half the battle, and knowing when you’re at a real risk for flood is important for staying ahead of the disaster. The terminology used by weather predictors is the best way for you to know when you’re at serious risk of being flooded. 

  • Flood Watch: This means flooding is possible, but not expected.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Like a standard flood watch, this means that flooding that happens in a matter of minutes is possible, but not truly expected.
  • Flood Warning: With a warning, flooding is either already happening in areas near you or is expected to happen very shortly.
  • Flash Flood Warning: This means that flash flooding is currently happening in areas near you. If you’re on ground level in a flood-prone area, this is the time to get to higher ground immediately.

Remember, pay attention to this terminology, not only for your area, but along any proposed escape routes you may have planned. Flooding can quickly cut off access by not only covering roads, but completely washing them out.

Flood

Know When to Bug Out

By staying alert to the flood status in your area, as well as your specific risk of flooding, you should be able to keep a mental pros and cons list of staying put or bugging out. None of us like to leave our house and possessions, but a flood that’s strong enough can remove a house from its foundation and make the surrounding area toxic with washed-up waste and chemicals.

Before things get bad, give yourself a fight or flight checkpoint. Once that checkpoint is reached, it’s time to leave. Have your bug-out bag ready along with as much water as you can carry. Bring along important paperwork, money, and anything else you can safely carry and must be kept dry. Have a bug-out location that’s on higher ground selected, and make sure you’re familiar with at least two ways to get there. Knowing the flood risk of those two paths can be a big help, too.

GWB:  Flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area is visible from Air Force One Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, as President Bush was alble to survey the ravages of the storm during his return from Crawford, Texas to Washington D.C.  White House photo by Paul Morse GWB: Flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area is visible from Air Force One Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, as President Bush was alble to survey the ravages of the storm during his return from Crawford, Texas to Washington D.C. White House photo by Paul Morse

Waterproof The Essentials

Speaking of things you want to keep dry, now’s probably a good time to waterproof anything you want to stay dry in a flood. This means insurance paperwork, deeds, birth certificates, cash — anything that wouldn’t do well with a good dunk.

Simply placing these documents in airtight freezer bags is enough to keep them safe. Remember, a simple ruptured pipe could destroy all your necessary paperwork and really wreck a great prep. It doesn’t hurt to keep your bug-out bags and other supplies off the floor and put them in plastic containers, too.

Water

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” The one thing that’s not in short supply during a flood is water, but it’s that water specifically that can really hurt your ability to drink.

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As water levels rise, the chance that sewage and fresh water will mix is pretty high. The same goes for fresh water and chemicals. Once this happens, the available fresh water for drinking can quickly hit zero. As seen with Katrina, this need for clean water can go on for weeks, which is why having a 30-day supply of drinking water is critical for anyone in a flood-prone area.

By keeping fresh water on hand, you can protect against most diseases and impurities that the surrounding water supply might have. Remember, you can boil off most diseases in water, but if the chemical plant down the street flooded too, you won’t be able to boil that water enough to clean it. Just like every other survival situation, without fresh water, all your other plans are pretty useless.