5 Most Important Survival Skills To Have After SHTF

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If you could only learn five survival skills, which ones would you learn? That’s the question I’m going to answer in this article. It’s a tricky question, though, because it depends on the scenario. For example, surviving in the wilderness requires a different set of skills than surviving in an urban area after an EMP […]

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Read This Before You Buy a Ham Radio

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Ham radio has become an increasingly popular tool for preppers and people living off the grid. While it is a fairly inexpensive hobby to get into (you can buy surprisingly good imported handheld radios for under $30) there are a few things you need to know before you purchase a ham radio. Get a License […]

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5 Disaster Movie Scenarios That Probably Won’t Happen

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Thanks to disaster movies and survival TV shows, most people have a very unrealistic idea of what will happen after the shit hits the fan. You know what I’m talking about: The power goes out, and immediately people flood into the streets and start rioting and killing each other while the police are nowhere to […]

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How to Deal with Cabin Fever When Bugging In

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The term ‘bug out’ apparently gained popularity during World War 2, the term being inspired by cartoons of bugs scattering underfoot when discovered. As for bugging in, that refers to doing the opposite: staying put. It’s something you might have to do if there’s a natural disaster like a blizzard, tornado, heavy rain or snow. […]

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10 Items to Grab When The SHTF

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I recently discovered a fairly new Youtube channel called The Prepared Wanderer who in just one year has already made nearly 100 videos. His focus is on camping and bushcraft and he’s been a Search and Rescue Team Leader for over a decade. This video is his response to a viewer who wanted to know […]

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Survival Psychology: How to Never Surrender

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Canadian Prepper is probably the best survival-related channel on Youtube. He’s made hundreds of high-quality videos on a variety of topics. This particular video is on a topic that isn’t discussed often enough: survival psychology. People in the first world live such easy, cushy lives compared to everyone else. Yes, even those of you who […]

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10 Things That Could Cause the S to HTF

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SHTF is by far the most popular acronym in the prepper community, but what exactly would cause SHTF? What sort of crises should we be on the alert for? In this video by Reality Survival, JJ Johnson talks about 10 realistic disasters that could happen at any time. If nothing else, this list will remind […]

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Will You Have Enough Caffeine After SHTF?

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Several months ago, I got a terrible case of the flu. I was running to the bathroom all night, and in the morning I couldn’t even get out of bed. After a few hours, the nausea subsided, but I started to get a headache. It gradually got worse, and worse, and worse, until by lunchtime […]

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Managing Complicated Inventories

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2_dozen_prepper_goodiesAs prep counselors and advisors, we get endless questions and inquiries about how much “stuff” to buy.  But even more importantly and often a question of inquiry is how to organize it all, then keep it all in order and up-to-date.  For many that is the hard part.  Just this week, I got a call from a prepper friend making the statement about his having to spend the upcoming weekend going through his “prepper” closet just to see what all was in there.  He laughed saying that every time he digs in there he finds stuff he had totally forgotten about, or did not even know he had.  That is the essence of this issue.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & SurvivalCache

Prepping is, of course, all about prepping or preparing for any potential SHTF event natural or unnatural.  Whether the option is to stay put with a Bug In strategy, or decide (or forced by circumstances) to escape to an alternative Bug Out location, either plan requires food, water, medical, supplies, gear, tools, defensive materiel (guns, ammo and support gear), and all the “stuff” of survival.

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That’s a given, but what is often not a given is how you maintain all of this material, supplies, and gear in an organized fashion.  Care also has to be given not to overdo the purchase of multi-multiples of one thing or another in favor of budgeting funds for more necessary or critical items.  For certain, this is a tough issue to balance, but it has to be done as best as can be possible.  

So, ask yourself this simple question.  If the lights were to go out at home right now, where are your flashlights?  Do they work?  Where are extra batteries kept and do you have plenty of fresh ones?  Where are all those candles stored away?  The matches?  

shotgun_stock_ammoLights out, power off, water gone, where is your camping cook stove?  Do you have fuel for it?  When was the last time it was fired up?  Now, where is that hand crank can opener?  Can you find your defense guns and extra ammo in the dark?  Such questions can go on and on.  You had better be able to answer every one of them, quickly and positively. If you make a total assessment of your prep stuff status now to determine that your inventory of goods and supplies is way too complicated, or there is likely no real recorded inventory at all, then now is the time to get organized to simplify and get back on track.  

Get Organized

1_XB-24_in_FlightAdmittedly I am old school, but I come by it honestly.  First, I am old, but more importantly I was raised by a father retired from the Army Air Corps after flying a B-24 over Germany for 25 missions in WWII.  He came home to Missouri to open his own agricultural flying business.  He was so organized it hurt.  His prevailing philosophy in life was “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  He drilled that over and over and my brother and I both learned it well.  

He was also big on redundancy, another lesson I learned too well.  I’ll discuss that later.  Dad’s aircraft hangers were lined with pegboard for hanging tools.  Every tool was outlined with a black marker.  He could scan those walls to see what was missing and there was hell to pay if a tool could not be found.  There are a lot of lessons there for preppers.  

One person’s organization plan is another person’s headache.  However you do it, do it! I am a list maker.  All my prepping gear is listed, noted, and in a file folder close at hand.  I review it often.  When I use up something entirely, that is noted on a “to buy” list to keep up and know to buy more.  So, I don’t go to the garage storage closet to discover I am out of tape or glue, or trash bags or whatever.  Like Walmart I am rarely out of something, but it happens.

I also use the pegboard method to organize tools, hand tools, garden tools, and a ton of stuff I hang on the garage wall.  I try to keep up with everything we have so long as my spouse partner can remember to put it back after she uses something.  That is a trial all its own.  

I fully utilize numerous storage containers to keep and organize all kinds of gear.  Each box is labeled, so I know what is inside.  Forget trying to remember all that.  Be careful where you store what you have if you have humidity issues or insect issues.  My storage boxes have good lock down lids.  Stored in the garage though, I regularly inspect the contents to make certain no issues or problems have popped up.  

4_secure_this_houseIf you keep gear inside as you should, then organize it too, in a closet(s) or dedicated room if possible.  Don’t just open the door and throw stuff on the shelves or floor as my friend does.  Keep everything in order, categorized, and in labeled boxes as appropriate.  You’ll be glad you did when the time comes during an emergency to lay your hands on something you need or when you suddenly find out you have very limited time effect a Bug Out elsewhere.  

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

packing_light_gear_minimumConfession time, I am as bad about this as anybody.  It is part of the redundancy issue, but how many cases of quick fix foods do you really need?  Now many cases of bottled water?  How many bottles of aspirin, other meds, or even first aid items.  Fifty packs of gauze and ten tubes of antiseptic ointment might be overkill.  A prepper friend of mine keeps 50 cases of bottled water on hand.  Is that excessive?  These are hard issues and often dependent on how big your family or group is.  Stock up according, but one or two brands or types of anything may be sufficient.  Having more consumable items may seem reasonable, but apply common sense.  

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We’re often asked in this regard about defensive prepping firearms.   If you have three shooters in the family, then each person should have their own handgun, rifle, and shotgun.  They should be standardized to the group in terms of brand, caliber, gauge, ammo, magazines, and such.   It is much easier to train and have weaponry reliance when the arsenal is standardized.  The same goes for ammunition and gun cleaning supplies.  

If you go with a 9mm for example, then everyone should shoot the same 9mm pistol to interchange magazines and ammo.  Consider 1000 rounds of standardized ammo for each firearm.  Match up optics, slings, holsters, and other accessories.  Every person should be able to grab any gun of any type, and be familiar with how to load it, use it, clear it, etc.  Likewise every shooter should know how to clean and maintain every gun in the defensive arsenal.

This principle goes for any survival gear you own.  All gas lanterns should be the same.  Flashlights should be the same using the same batteries.  Go with cook stoves that everyone knows how to use.  Two tents for camping or bugging out?  Make them the same.  Etc. Etc. Redundancy is fine to a limit, but match, don’t mix.  It’s just easier for everyone to deal with.

Recycle and Refresh

canned_miscellaneous_prepPerhaps just as important as taking and keeping an inventory of every prepper related piece of gear and supplies is the routine use and refreshing of all consumable items especially foods, water, and medicines.  Many survival items are touted to last in storage for the end of times, but don’t expect that box of Twinkies or those cans of soup to last endless years.  Just use them and replace them on a regular basis.  Try to make much of your everyday stored foods your survival foods as well.  Don’t hold back a case of pork and beans for an unknown future SHTF.  Just eat them occasionally and then buy more.  

If you are redundancy crazed like me, then having 3-4 or more of some things is great, so long as they do not expire, deteriorate, or become contaminated.  Even factory boxed ammo can get damaged if not stored properly long term.  Keep ammo from heat and humidity exposure.  Store paper boxed ammo in sealed heavy plastic or metal containers.  Label it.  

Get your complete prepper inventory of goods, supplies, equipment and gear onto a permanent hard copy list or computer file with a portable back up, but keep them secure.  Review it often.  Include a note pad for passing thoughts or ideas of tasks to accomplish, other items to purchase, or skills to acquire, etc.  If you are older like me, do not rely on your memory.  Don’t rely on it anyway.  We are never really ever fully prepared for survival.  It’s an on-going process.  

Prepping cannot be a happenstance event.  It has to be thought through, organized, orchestrated, practiced and executed.  Otherwise, your survival just might be just as equally happenstance.  Don’t make your survival a chance circumstance.  Work it.  Win it.

How To Build An Underground Survival Bunker From Scratch

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The whole underground shelter thing is not as cut and dry as you may think. I have serious reservations about long term bunker living. How effective would it actually be? How mind-numbing would it be? Having a short-term bunker or storm shelter, on the other hand, is an idea that I can get behind. Even […]

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15 Ways to Repel Bugs Naturally

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2_tiger-mosquito-mosquito-asian-tigermucke-sting-86722Having a healthy insect population in your garden is a good thing, but when you’re camping you can run into all sorts of things like mosquitoes, flies, spiders, ticks, fleas, ants and mites. If you’re an avid gardener, you might also want to keep the insect population on your lovelies in check. Pesticides and insect repellents can contain harmful ingredients (or you might not have access to them), and you might want to opt for a natural way that doesn’t harm you, your family or the bugs in question.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog.com

Here are some of the most effective ways to repel bugs naturally…

#1: Crushed basil leaves

What’s homemade Italian cooking without some basil? It’s an essential addition to any herb garden – as most chefs will tell you! Fresh, crushed basil leaves placed on a table will keep flies away while you’re eating: This is especially handy for camping trips, picnics or hot days.

#2: A solution of yeast, water and sugar

Yeast is something you should always have in the house. A solution of yeast and sugar – to feed the yeast and attract the bugs – will keep flies away. This is the natural version of the bug-zapper. Just remember to change it out every couple of days – or hours, depending on how huge your fly problem is.

#3: Homemade fly strips

1_fly_bug_repellentThere’s no reason you should have to buy fly strips. (If you’ve ever tried getting one down again without sticking hundreds of fly corpses to yourself, you might not want to buy them again….). Boil some sugar water (or water with a bit of money in it) and add strips of paper. Hang these up, and they will attract flies pretty much just like a fly strip would. Again, change and dispose of these periodically.

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#4: Clove essential oil

Flies (and some humans) absolutely hate the scent of clove oil, so if you’re trying to get a handle on a fly problem, get some essential oil to make a spray with and spray in the areas the flies happen to frequent. Keep clove oil as part of your natural arsenal anyway, as it can also be used as a natural and very effective (though temporary) remedy for toothache: If you do not have the oil, bite down on a clove.

#5: Yellow globes

Yellow light naturally repels bugs (including moths and mosquitoes) at night, so if you have an ongoing problem with either, start by changing your lights – and, it should go without saying, getting a mosquito net to go with your bed. They’re cheaper than getting treated for malaria, or, y’know, being buried.

#6: Burning coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds can be burned – over a fire, like you would incense or dried herbs – to get rid of mosquitoes. If you’re a regular camper, it’s likely that you love the smell of coffee by a campfire, so it doesn’t cost you anything to do this as part of your process anyway.

#7: Rose geranium for ticks

Ticks can carry diseases like tick bite fever, and if you’re going to the woods or African bush you’ll want to check your body regularly. Rose geranium, in an essential oil on the skin (or diluted in a spray), is commonly recommended to get rid of ticks. This works on both man and beast, by the way, so it’s even great for your dogs.

#8: Black pepper for ants

1_pepper-pepper-mill-pfefferkorn-pepper-ground-39069Black pepper, sprinkled where you don’t want them to go or diluted in a spray, will keep ants in check and away you’re your food. Of course, don’t leave open food lying around for ants either – get containers that seal (and seal properly). Cayenne pepper works just as well, but you don’t want to get that in your eyes.

#9: Vinegar

Vinegar is commonly recommended as a repellent for spiders: Diluted, spray it if you don’t want to follow the spiders. Apple cider vinegar (again, diluted in water) will also keep away ticks and fleas on both humans and animals. Keep in mind that cats hate the smell of vinegar (and it’s also a cat repellent), so dilute pretty well if you plan on using it on your cats. Internally, it’s given to cats and dogs to treat a bladder infection.

#10: Caffeine for mites

Caffeine is a naturally occurring pesticide, and a weak coffee spray on plants will keep all sorts of pests away, including mites.

#11: Garlic

Garlic keeps away more than just vampires. You can also increase the amount of garlic in your diet to keep away mosquitoes: They really don’t like the smell of it. (If your camping mates don’t either, chewing on some parsley will neutralize the smell of garlic on your breath after some buttery garlic bread.)

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#12: Mint leaves

3_mintMint leaves, fresh and crushed, in an oil or in a spray will keep away mosquitoes – and a range of other bugs including moths. Catnip is technically family of mint, and much of the same properties that apply to mint apply to catnip. (For those with heart problems, take care when ingesting mint.)

#13: Lavender for moths

Lavender has been recommended for years as a remedy for calm and aiding sleep, but it turns out that dried lavender pouches work just as well for keeping moths out of your clothes. (This tip comes courtesy of Martha Stewart – the queen of homemaking hacks.)

#14: Citronella for mosquitoes

Citronella candles or oil should always be part of your camping kit as a bug repellent. It’s commonly recommended for mosquitoes, and is a great natural replacement for mosquito coils.

#15: Sage

Both sage and rosemary can be burned over a fire to get rid of mosquitoes naturally. (And again, both are great additions to whatever you’ve got cooking on the fire, too!)

What have you used as a natural bug repellent? Use the comments to let us know.

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Are Millennials Ready for SHTF?

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The further we get from the days of the pioneers, the more helpless people become. It’s gotten to where most young people (millennials and generation Z) have no basic survival skills. To them, cooking dinner means putting a frozen entree into the microwave. Many of them have never cooked a meal from scratch in their […]

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10 Steps To Take After The SHTF

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There are many things you can do at the onset of a disaster. Most people panic. But when you panic, it leads to drastic and dangerous decision making. Panic leads to the type of radical actions that get people hurt or killed. Another thing people do at the onset of disaster is freeze. They haven’t […]

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10 Things You Should NOT Do After SHTF

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There must be a million articles about the things you should do after the shit hits the fan, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about things NOT to do… until now. I really enjoyed reading this article by Bob from Preppers Will and I’m happy to share it with you guys. The […]

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8 Basic Skills You Need To Master Before The SHTF

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You don’t have to be an expert at every survival skill to survive a disaster–very few people have mastered all the skills. However, there are a handful of skills that everyone will need in a true SHTF scenario, especially if they’re on their own. In this article from Modern Survival Online, Ryan explains what he […]

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Bicycles: The Ultimate SHTF Ground Transportation

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The term “bug out vehicle” gets thrown around a lot in the prepper community, but it almost always refers to a car or truck of some kind. That is great if you have a family, but if you’re single and in good shape (or have a partner who is also in good shape) and don’t […]

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Close Up Footage of Man with Hungry Polar Bear

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In a truly frightening moment, a large female polar bear came face to face with a BBC camera man. While the bear seems initially curious, it becomes apparent she has intentions to eat the camera man. After all, BBC camera men are probably easier to kill and eat than seals. During the ordeal, the camera man sits in a large apparatus of metal and glass. Despite the best efforts of the hungry bear, the camera man’s shell remains intact.

Larger female polar bears can reach up to 1,000 pounds. Even a small polar bear would have no problem mauling a grown man. The idea of sitting in a glass apparatus while a hungry polar bear tries to break in is not appealing to me. In fact, I think you have to be partially insane to tempt fate like that. Either way, kudos to this camera man for documenting this experience. This is about as close as you’re gonna get to see a hungry polar bear without dying.


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5 Survival Reality Show Screw Ups

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accident_truck_fear_factorReality TV shows generally tend to go two ways: Either they turn out to be partial or complete fakeries behind the scenes, or in some cases things veer a little too close to reality and people get hurt – in 2011, a contestant was involved in a massive crash on the set of Fear Factor, and that’s not the only case by far.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here are some of the worst survivalist reality show screw ups yet…

1. Kid Nation

kid_nationKid Nation first aired in 2007 as a reality show by CBS, and it goes down in history as one of the worst ideas for a reality tv show ever to make it to the airwaves. The premise of the show was simple: Forty kids were placed in a reconstruction old Western town and, well, told to run it by themselves with absolutely no adult intervention. This involved all of the tasks you’d expect from keeping a town going, from milking the cows, making the food, doing the dishes and establishing some form of government. Please note that these were kids, with ages ranging between eight and fifteen.

The show was subject to serious controversy right from the beginning, and it didn’t take long before things got completely out of hand: It became a power struggle almost immediately into the show, and saw older kids heavily abusing their power. (Doesn’t that remind you of a little something called the Stanford Prison Experiment?)

There’s even someone on Reddit who says they were one of the show’s contestants.

2. Koh-Lanta

koh-lantaKoh-Lanta is better known as the French version of the popular reality show Survivor. You can check out the intro for Koh-Lanta on YouTube over here. Back in 2013, while filming a new series, contestant Gerald Babin (aged 25) suddenly got sick during the first task in Cambodia – a game of tug-of-war between teams – and then, well, died from cardiac arrest.

The season of Koh-Lanta was cancelled immediately, and it raised a lot of questions about the safety of contestants on reality shows. French authorities immediately launched an investigation into Babin’s death to see whether or not it could be ruled manslaughter.

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That, however, is not the end of the story: The show’s on set doctor (Thierry Costa) committed suicide shortly after the event, feeling – according to his suicide note – that the media attention arising from the event had brought irreparable damage to his name.

(Interestingly, this is one of two cases where a contestant has died on international versions of Survivor, and is not by any means the only occasion where contestants in any version of Survivor have been hurt enough to be removed from the game.)

3. Bear Grylls’ The Island

bear_gryllsBear Grylls is a well-known name: He’s had several of his own TV shows, written several books on his version of the art of survivalism, has the Bear Grylls Survival Academy and generally has no idea what he’s doing. (Yes, he has been forced to apologize for faking it on reality TV, and we wouldn’t trust his advice – period.) This particular mishap happened during Season 3 of The Island with Bear Grylls, a show where regular people are made to participate in survival set-ups. (That already sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?) Patrick Dauncey (then aged 19) fell off a cliff during filming – a spectacular thirty foot drop. You can see the video from The Guardian.

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Needless to say, he was airlifted to hospital – seriously injured, but it could have been worse. He can now be found on Twitter, for some reason.

That would have been the end of the story, at least until The Island with Bear Grylls got in trouble again – this time, a crocodile was stabbed to death. In another case, contestant Mike Tindall had to be…well, airlifted due to serious injury. Again. Really nice, Grylls.

Oh, and applications are open.

4. Steve Irwin

steve_irwinIt’s been more than a decade since his death, but most people still remember Steve Irwin as The Crocodile Hunter: He’s either seen as a man with a unique touch for interacting with wildlife, or someone who shouldn’t have gotten that close to wild animals in the first place. Whatever your opinion, he remains, at least, notable. While filming his tv show The Crocodile Hunter in September 2006, Irwin got a little too close to a stingray: A move which resulted in his death. It was widely publicised, and we’d be lying if we said it didn’t raise more questions about what should and shouldn’t be part of reality television.

His family continues his legacy in education and conservation. You can find the official website for The Crocodile Hunter here.

5. The Jump

jump_reality_showThe Jump is a Channel 4 (British) reality show that takes various celebrities and puts them against each other to compete in winter games-themed tasks. This sounds like a great idea until you realize just how dangerous the premise of this show could be. For example, here’s an article on The Huffington Post about how many celebrities have had to be removed from the game due to injuries…so far.

Just some of the injuries courtesy of The Jump include Beth Twiddle’s neck injury, Ola Jordan’s potentially permanent leg injury and Heather Mills’ injured thumb and leg. Surprisingly, the show made it as far as a 2017 season, with contestant Spencer Matthews taking home a prize we’re not sure should have been up for offer in the first place.

What’s the worst reality TV show injury you’ve heard of so far? How about the craziest reality show overall? Link us to it in the comments: We love getting in touch with readers!

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Everyday Cures for an Aching Tooth

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It may still be true that most people just don’t like going to the dentist.  That remains the case even today although modern advances in dental care, techniques, and pain medications can take care of most tooth ailments.  Maybe it is just the sound of that air drill cranking up in your ear.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

lion_home_teeth_acheIn the old days before dentists were as common as bus stops at city corners, grandmas would go into the kitchen or on the back porch to brew up some tonic to chase just about any pain away.  All those herbs and spices hanging swinging by strings from the rafters where not for scaring werewolves away.  In those pioneer days those dried plants were the only medicines available.

For the most part those old log cabin remedies are long gone, but some basic mixture cures can still be found among books and articles on primitive medicines.  Some of them can still be used today with some effects.  

Related: Five Best DIY Toothache Remedies

Here are seven of the most basic, common home remedies for a toothache.  Now, understand that relieving pain in the short term is far different from a permanent cure.  These toothache pain suspenders are just more or less temporary.  If you have a cracked tooth, or other serious dental issue, then I’m afraid there is a dentist in your future.  But, meantime, try one of these.  You never know, it just might make a permanent fix for some issues.  

Oil of Cloves

When I was a kid, my mom kept a small bottle of clove oil in the bathroom medicine cabinet.  I remember taking the cork out just to take a whiff of the clove smell.  I liked it.  She used it on toothaches and as I recall it did a pretty good job.  She would just dab a bit on the tooth with her little finger.  The pain was gone and the taste lingered.  

Put the oil of cloves on a cotton ball or a small cotton roll like dentists use.  Let it soak in, but don’t overdo it.  Then place the oil soaked roll or cotton ball next to the affected tooth.  Leave it there until the pain subsides.  Repeat as needed.  

Ginger-Cayenne Paste

toothache_ginger_pasteUse this home remedy in small amounts, because the combination makes for a hot mixture.  Form a paste with ginger and ground cayenne pepper flakes using a small amount of water.  Mix until the consistency is like a glue or pudding like substance.  Dab the mix with a cotton swab.  Place the paste directly on the tooth, but try to keep it off the gums and cheek inside your mouth.  Leave it there as long as you can stand it.  

Either spice can be used by itself, so if the pepper is too hot, try the ginger by itself.  

Salt Water Gargle

salt_toothachesPractically everybody knows this remedy, but its use may have gotten lost in the sands of time.  You can use common table salt or even sea salt, but add a tablespoon or so to water and heat to dissolve the salt.  After it cools to a warm solution, simply gargle the salt water for 30 seconds or so.  Repeat several times to ease the tooth pain.  

Peppermint Tea

ache_tea_toothVarious teas have long been known to provide pain relieving benefits.  Peppermint tea in particular seems to work well, perhaps because people simply like the taste of it.  Peppermint though has other properties to help with aches and pains as well.  The tannins in tea also assist with reducing swelling.  Brew the tea and swish it in the mouth to help knock the edge off the tooth pain.   Some even recommend placing a wet tea bag right against the tooth.  

Hydrogen Peroxide

toothache_hydrogen_peroxideThis is an easy remedy for toothache, but use it with some caution.  Use a 3 percent solution to swish around the impacted tooth.  Do not swallow the hydrogen peroxide but spit it out.  Repeated applications can be used, but again, be certain not to swallow the mixture.  

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are of course frozen and the super cold tends to deaden nerves.  Application can be done in various ways, chipped or cubes can be placed into a sealed plastic bag, then wrapped in a piece of cloth.  This pack is applied next to the tooth.  The same ice pack can be placed outside the mouth along the cheek near the affected tooth.  Use until the pain is numbed.  

Tincture of Myrrh

myrrh_toothache_Commiphora_myrrha_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-019Bought on line or at specialty vitamin stores, myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from small trees of the Commiphora species.  The resin or oil acts as an astringent which reduces inflammation.  Make a mixture of the myrrh by simmering a teaspoon in two cups of water for about 30 minutes.  Then use a tea strainer to separate the material from the solution. Let the solution cool.  Then put one teaspoon of this solution into a half cup of water to further dilute it.  Rinse in the mouth over the tooth 5-6 times a day.  This should help reduce the pain and ache of the hurting tooth. Again, everybody gets different results from these various home remedies.  Continue to monitor the condition of the tooth.  Finding a dentist during a SHTF or any disaster can be a problem.  If the tooth gets worse, then begin a search for one.  Right now, find out if one should happen to live close to where you live or near a potential bug out location.  

Check Out: Making Maple Syrup

This is even more reason to pursue regular medical care as a preventive measure.  See your family doctors regularly, and a dentist at least twice a year.  If you take care of business, maybe you can avoid troubles later on.  
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Making Maple Syrup

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2_tappedinsnowMaking Maple syrup is an annual celebration of spring, as it is one of the first wild plant foods of the year and the rising of the sap marks the beginning of the spring harvest.  For the do-it-yourself tapper, it is not so much about calculating (the work to syrup ratio turns many a woodsman to purchase rather than boil, and perhaps even to the manufactured, corn syrup based, imitations) as it is about experiencing the full spectrum of early spring weather while communing with the forests and partaking in one of the most quintessentially American traditions.

By Nathaniel Whitmore, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

For me, cooking sap is a way of remembering my first mentor who taught me of wild edibles and medicinal herbs.  It is also a time to remember the Native Americans who taught early colonists how to tap Maple trees and boil the sap into syrup and sugar.  It is also a great way to start off a new year with an act of self-reliance.  Even if you don’t have the time or lifestyle to make syrup every year, you should be familiar with the basic principles and practices in the case of necessity.  The process is rather simple, but there are several things to know and be aware of.  This article will explain the basic steps of making syrup, including some information you should know about trees, the season, and the process of cooking.

When to Make Maple Syrup

When the dormant sap of trees first rises in the late winter and early spring, its sugar content is high and it is free of many of the stronger tasting constituents of the sap of a fully awakened tree.  It is this sap, that rises and descends back to the roots with the warm and cold of early spring.  Once the trees bud, the sap takes on bitter flavor and remains suspended in the tree, while the hole you drill to receive the sap through starts to heal up.

This year, because of regular warm spells, the sap is very watery.  I have not counted the gallons I boiled or the syrup resulting from it, but I have heard a couple people say that a local paper reported that the ratio was around 70 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  Good cold winters followed by ideal spring conditions (such as a March, in my area, with lots of warm days well above freezing alternating with cold nights well below freezing), produce much sweeter sap than warm winters.  We had sap flow all year and by mid February people were tapping trees and getting good sap flow.  Often, it is still much too cold in February for much sugaring.  Generally, a good year starts off with Sugar Maple yielding around 1 gallon of sap for 35 gallons of syrup.  The average for Sugar Maple is said to be 40 to 1.  The average for Red Maple is 60 to 1.  In spite of the watery sap, the syrup still tastes delicious!

Which Trees to Tap

Generally, syrup is made from Maple trees.  However, many other types of trees were tapped by Native Americans, including Birch, Ash, Hickory, and Black Walnut.  The ideal tree is Sugar Maple.  Quite a lot of syrup is made from Red Maple.  Silver Maple, Ash-Leaf Maple (Box Elder), and others can also be used.  

9_maple_leaf_imageMaple trees are relatively easy to pick out.  One distinct characteristic of Maples is that they have opposite branching.  When looking at the buds or branch silhouettes, you can see that the buds are formed directly opposite each other and the branches tend to remain that way (of course, here and there one of two opposite branches breaks off, but overwhelmingly the opposite branch arrangement is obvious).  Most other trees have alternate branch arrangement, where the branches come from one side then the other, or spiral around, so that they are alternating, rather than opposite.  A third type, such as is seen in many evergreens, is the whorled arrangement, in which several branches spread out from a certain point, or node.

The only other trees in my area besides Maple that have opposite leaves are Ash trees.  Ash are easy to tell apart because, having compound leaves, the branches are rather stout (the smaller branching taking place in the deciduous stem of the compound leaf).  Since Maple have only simple leaves, they need more finely divided branches.

Maple bark is distinct, but difficult to describe and highly variable.  Red Maples develop a much more shaggy appearance in older specimens, while Sugar Maple has its distinct folds.  Red Maples have large red buds, while those of Sugar Maple are smaller and brown.  Sugar Maple prefers upland, more exposed areas.  Red Maple prefers moist areas and is also known as Swamp Maple.  (Sugar Maple is known as Hard Maple and Red as Soft Maple because of the density of the wood.  Sugar Maple is good firewood.)

Besides the sugar content of the sap, Red Maple often doesn’t flow as well as Sugar because of the cooler shady areas it tends to grow.  Generally, people try to tap on the south side of the tree of trees with good southern exposure.  This is because on an average year, the trees that warm up the easiest run the best for syrup productions.  However, if you are tapping the same trees year after year, you will want to spiral around the tree with the taps each year to avoid damaging the “sweet spot”.

Tapping the Trees

9_dropofsapI use a non-electric drill to make the holes for my spiles.  It is a traditional tool, works well, is much more peaceful than a power drill, and doesn’t run out of battery power.  The holes are drilled so that they are a little deeper than the spile will need to go (you don’t want to smash it into the back of the hole) and at a little bit of a downward slant so the sap doesn’t stagnate in the back of the hole. When you hammer the tap, or spile, into the hole, take care not to split the tree.  If you split the tree, sap will run out of the crack and less through your spile into the sap bucket.  I listen for a change in tone as I tap.  When the hollow thud turns to a crisp note, I know the spile is seated tightly.

Hang your bucket, cover with the lid, and, if the weather is right, enjoy the pings of the drops of sap landing in the empty buckets.

Boiling Maple Sap

Cooking of the sap is best done in a shallow pan, for surface area.  Bring the sap to a good boil.  As it gets cooking and for a little while after it is boiling impurities will rise to the top in the form of foam.  Use a sieve to scoop the foam from the boiling sap. Repeat this until it is cooking well without abundant foam production.  Every time you add sap, you will need to repeat the process of removing impurities as they foam to the surface.

3_3_goldenelixerAnother type of foam marks the end of the process.  Once the sugar concentration gets to a certain point, which depends also on the temperature, it turns to foam.  This is a very important point, for if you are not carefully watching towards the end, you could miss this stage as the syrup all turns to foam and bubbles out of the pan.  Many people like to finish the process inside.  It is particularly dangerous to leave almost finished syrup unattended in your home.  It could foam over and cause some problems.  This second foam, which marks the sugar concentration of syrup, is not to be removed with the sieve – it will simply calm back down to syrup once taken off the flame.

Finishing Steps

Once cooled, the syrup should be poured into large jars and let settle so that the sediment can sink to the bottom.  You can then pour the clear syrup off the top.  It might then be left to settle again, to remove any more sediment or sugar sand.  Often, people like to filter the syrup.  It can then be jarred.

With time, and sometimes quite quickly with watery syrup, mold can develop.  In order to recover moldy syrup simply bring to a simmer again and skim the mold off the top.  Let it simmer for a bit, being careful not to let it foam over, and skim repeatedly to make sure the syrup is heated up well and the impurities are completely removed.


4_buckets on Red MapleI use the old fashioned galvanized buckets.  Many people today use plastic equipment, including plastic hose linked together to replace buckets at each tree.  I have often wondered about ways to make syrup without these specialty spiles and buckets.  Natives would sometimes collect sap through “v” shaped cuts, rather than holes with spiles.  It is, of course, possible to fashion spile with wood, bamboo, or other plants.

The process of cooking becomes much more challenging without metal.  The large, flat, pans used for sap boiling are perfect for the job.  I can’t easily imagine trying to boil without it.  Native people used hot rocks to boil sap, and apparently for making sugar.  I am sure they had ingenious ways for doing so, but any quantity of production will be much easier (and still plenty of work) with metal.

Drinking Sap

5_maplesyrupWhen I first began making Maple syrup, I was warned not to drink the sap.  However, this old knowledge was either misguided or the wisdom, for better or worse, has been forgotten.  Today, there are many companies bottling the sap itself for commercial sale.  It is being promoted as a sort of northern version of Coconut water. Sap, especially the first of the season, is indeed delicious.  It has a noticeably sweet taste and is otherwise clean and crisp like water.  Besides sugar, it has significant mineral content. It is also enjoyable to use the partially concentrated sap for making tea and oatmeal.  So, really, there are many ways to enjoy Maple sap, straight from the tree, during the cooking process, and as syrup.

Even if making Maple syrup is not much of an option, sap is a potentially important clean water substitute.  Weather permitting and without a good water source, it could be possible to tap a tree in the spring and collect the sap for cooking and drinking.  I mostly use 3 gallon buckets on the trees and on good days they can overflow.

One year I made some syrup from Black Birch when boiling from a stand of Red Maple.  The Maple ran for a couple weeks before the Birch started.  The Birch continued after the Red Maple had stopped.  The Black Birch produced copious amounts of sap.  Similarly, the Black Walnut that we tapped this season, though it dripped a little when first drilled it did not run much at first, when the Sugar Maple were productive, but then started to run well.  So, the staggered timing of the various tree’s sap flow is significant.  Knowing when which trees tend to run could help you collect sap beyond the season of any one species.

Pancake Ideas

pancakes_syrupOne final thought about Maple syrup- pancakes!  Since much of the delight in Maple syrup is in gathering food from the trees, I especially like to include other ingredients from the trees when eating it.  One of my favorites is acorn pancakes.  Properly prepared acorns are delicious and make very tasty pancakes.  I also like to use Slippery Elm powder as an ingredient.  (Sometimes, I simply make a gruel with Slippery Elm and Maple syrup.  It is very delicious.)  Walnuts can be added for additional flavor and nourishment from the trees.

The obvious drawback to Maple syrup is its high simple sugar content.  For this reason, I also like to use Cinnamon at times in my pancakes.  Cinnamon is known to help with blood sugar problems.  Blueberries (and other dark-colored fruits) are also good, as their high antioxidant content helps offset the sugar concentration.  Using such healthy ingredients makes enjoying Maple syrup a more wholesome and nourishing experience.

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Want To Disappear From The Grid? Here’s What You Need To Know

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You might be thinking, “Why disappear?” There has long been speculation that the government is playing more of a role in our lives than ever. What we learned about the NSA and the inherent spying in the name freedom is that we are compromised. All Americans are compromised by the digital footprints they have created. […]

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Are You Drinking Radioactive Water

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water_chernobyl_ruins_radiationWhether around the world or in small town America, there seems to be an undeniable truth in that any news of detectable radioactivity discovered in drinking water will be 1) suppressed and 2) the quantity of radioactivity will be underreported when the news does go public. From Chernobyl to Fukushima, and especially to Texas, the story is the same. The following video, A matter of Risk: Radiation, drinking water, and deception, chronicles the poor drinking water conditions in central Texas.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Disturbingly, there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest central Texas water supplies have been compromised by radioactive contamination. What’s almost as disturbing: Texas officials have been slow to respond to the crisis. In some instances, the actions of officials seem to be negligent.

A matter of risk: Radiation, drinking water and deception . from Keith Tomshe.

The particular type of radiation of concern here is called ionizing radiation. Ionizing or charged particle radiation is different from sunlight that has commonly understood radiation such as ultraviolet and infrared radiation. The sun is often pointed at as a source of safe radiation in order to muddy the contaminated waters by those who have a selfish interest in underreporting the risks of radiation.

250px-Alpha_Decay.svgThe radioactive contaminants that we are concerned about in water are mostly alpha and beta particles. Alpha particles are from radioactive decay where essentially a helium 4 nuclei is released. Alpha particles are relatively large consisting of two protons and two neutrons but can only travel an inch or two in air. Paper can block alpha particles as can dry skin. Unfortunately if alpha particles are ingested or contact mucus membranes, they make a real mess of things especially cells and DNA.

Beta particles, on the other hand, are smaller than alpha particles and are either an electron or positron. The smaller mass of the beta particle allows it to travel further from the source, up to a few yards in air. Beta particles zip right through skin and a few sheets of paper, but can be blocked by thick plastic. However, the main risks from beta particles are from when they are ingested.

Yea, but…

lead_water_infrastructrure_jackson_flintThere are many natural sources of radiation in water, and groundwater sources are often more at risk than surface sources like reservoirs. There are also plenty of man-made sources and actions that increase the natural amounts of dangerous radiation in drinking water supplies. What makes this go from bad to worse is that the presence and quantity of radioactive materials in water are often either not measured in the first place, averaged over time or a cluster of wells, or wildly underreported through statistical and legal gymnastics. The bottomline is that the science does not lie, but the sources of the science can manipulate and withhold the facts when it suits them. And history has shown us over and over that it suits them.

Read Also: Lead in Your Water

Bone-seeking radioactive particles are no joke. They are cumulative and do cause cancer. There is no safe minimum consumption or exposure limit for them, and you absolutely cannot trust a government agency to monitor water systems for radioactive concentrations or even notify you if they are detected.  Even worse, if you are informed that there is a problem, it is very likely a long-standing issue and what you are told is most certainly underestimated. In fact I would bet that any reported level of contaminant in a water system that is barely under the threshold of concern is a fake number. There are statistical tricks and legal parkour maneuvers that provide any necessary adjustment to avoid expensive fixes in the name of public safety.

Sound the Alarm

It has been demonstrated many times over decades and continents that radioactive contamination in the water supply will be unreported, underreported, or downplayed. So it is up to the drinker of water to be vigilant and take precautions when necessary. And that’s you.

Geiger_counterWhile there are 10-minute tests for other water contaminants like lead, testing for radioactivity takes a special piece of equipment as well as a deeper understanding of what the results mean. In fact, the geiger counter comes in handy to test your water filter, if you have one and know how to use it. But sadly if you do detect radiation yourself, your life just changed; both inside and out.

Related: Epic Water vs Brita Slim

Most traditional water filters are limited in their capabilities to handle radiation. But some are better than others. Since water itself does not become radioactive, the radioactive particles can be filtered out similar to other contaminants. But unlike a clogged filter filled with sediments, metals, and parasites, a filter filled with radioactive particles is itself now, to put it bluntly, a component that could be in a dirty bomb.

Activated carbon can remove a common radioactive element found in water namely iodine-131. But when the load capacity of the filter is reached, you might not know it. It seems the best bet for the consumer is a combination of active charcoal and a reverse osmosis filter like the Epic Pitcher.

In the News

Water_Radiation_hotspot_JapanOne would go crazy worrying about invisible radiation in water given the amount we need to consume, cook with, and let flow across our skin every day. But there are indications when worry might be more necessary. Such as when there is a nuclear event in the news. Fukushima was a big one, but provided a test not unlike when a volcano spews ash and we can see how much lands and where. Globally, radioactive fallout from Fukushima was detected everywhere one looked. And even right here under my Big Sky. In this article from The Japan Times it is clear that the Fukushima situation is far from over. In fact the February 2017 article states the radiation level in reactor 2 has reached its highest radiation level since core meltdown in 2011.

So even if you have no immediate concern about radiation, you should have a plan and the supplies to act on that plan.

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11 Amazing Apps for Urban Survivalists

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Your Android phone is one of approximately 1.4 billion worldwide according to a Google Nexus conference in 2015. We’ve come way past the point where all a phone could do was make a phone call and send a text: Now, you can turn your cellphone into a full-on survival kit containing everything from a compass […]

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Lead: The Perilous Poison in Your Tap Water

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lead_water_infrastructrure_jackson_flintLead is a killer.  To that statement, nobody is surprised.  The shock may be perhaps just how silently lead slips into our systems, not only in terms of its delivery often by aging public utility works or other modes, but also how it becomes absorbed into our human bodily systems.  More often than not, the serious harm of lead poisoning has long taken its toll on the physiology of a person before it exhibits itself overtly via a plethora of symptoms finally manifested in multiple forms of chronic illness.  It is a dastardly manner to get sick or die.  

So, as prepper’s intent on surviving this world’s outward disasters in the form of natural and unnatural events, how does one protect against the potential infusions of poisoning by lead sources?  First is to understand it, know it, then begin to practice cautions to guard against it, identify it, and recognize the threats and how to ward off its impact on our health and that of our family especially small children, who are more highly susceptible.  

Lead the Toxin

lead_poison_toxic_drinkJust for the sake of basic scientific information the chemical symbol for lead on the chart is Pb.  It is a highly toxic metal considered to be a very strong poison.  It builds up in the human body sometimes not exposing itself in terms of medical symptoms for months or even years.  Children are the most susceptible, because in their very youngest years they are still developing their brains and nervous system which lead attacks. Lead is primarily a neurotoxin in that it mainly targets the nervous system as well as the brain.  It causes a number of maladies and disorders within these physiological systems.  Lead poisoning can also cause blood disorders that can be equally terminal in nature.  

The Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

The list of lead poisoning symptoms in the human body is lengthy.  The listing includes abdominal pain, cramps, aggressive behaviors, constipation, sleep disorders, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia, and kidney dysfunction.  

doctor_medical_SWOT-2Additional symptoms often displayed are vomiting, muscle weakness, stumbling, seizures, coma, and encephalopathy, which is a form of confusion often combined with coma. The real trick is to not only to identify these symptoms or illnesses, but to prove the link of these ailments to actual lead poisoning.  Thank goodness for us, this can be proven by a series of appropriate specific blood tests.  In theory then the links to lead poisoning can be shown so that treatment regimens can be prescribed by the medical profession.  

Lead Delivery Threats

graveyard_water_towerRemember Flint, Michigan?  I am certain there are numerous other examples of both isolated and widespread excessive concentrations of lead having been delivered to the citizen population via municipal water systems.  Lead poisoning is after all caused by the ingestion of the material into the human body and thereby absorbed into the tissues. Though as we know, lead poisoning can also come from lead paint that was quite common in older residential housing construction as well as huge metropolitan housing complexes, apartment buildings and other dwellings.  Lead was also prevalent in older toys, and other items that children might have put in their mouths over extended periods.  Those sources of lead have now long been cleaned up and removed from society for the most part.  They no longer remain a threat to human health, but drinking water sources are another matter entirely.  

Lead sources can also exist within our soils, ground water, and surface waters and are considered environmental contaminates.  These are often quite prevalent in areas where lead is mined or exists within the earth structures naturally. Towns and cities all over the country are under the threat of aging water piping systems. These were constructed of lead pipes and soldiered joints and are still a widespread threat in America.  Rural water systems are not exempt either from lead poisoning.  Threats of lead in water also exists in private wells as well.  

Every drinking water source is subject to government regulations regarding the amount of lead registered as PPB’s or parts per billion.  The Federal Government’s EPA has established acceptable standards for lead and all chemicals in drinking water.  These sources are supposed to be tested and certified on a regular basis, but sometimes are not.  Are your sources tested?  Is the water coming from your tap right now safe to drink?  This, you better know.  

A Case in Point

sink_water_drinking_contaminationJust last year a municipality near my location, Jackson, Mississippi, experienced issues with elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water sources.  After extensive sampling of water in 58 city sample sites, 22 per cent of the locations showed lead levels exceeding the accepted Federal levels. The Feds say that a water lead test above 0.015 or 15 ppb exceeds safe levels.  Jackson’s water tested at 0.017 to 0.02 ppb, which is above the Federal standard for safe drinking water.  The source or blame was reported to be the individual home internal samples, not originating from the city’s water distribution network.  And who exactly believes that?  City officials reported that homes built before 1988 were susceptible to lead contaminated water.  Corrosive (city supplied) water can cause the lead in older pipes and commonly soldiered joints to leach out thus causing the excessive high lead levels in the water tests. Action by the city was to correct the inadequate corrosion control in the city water piping systems.  Water chemistry reacts to home pipes and fixtures thus increasing lead levels.  One suspects aging city water systems also contribute to the leaching lead.

It was also noted that the summer heat experienced in the south causes higher lead uptake than in the winter months.  One assumes the external environmental heat raises the temperature in the piping systems thus increasing the temperature of the lead in those pipes furthering the leaching potential into the drinking tap water.  

Treatment and Protection

red_cross_first_aid.svgThere are medical treatments for proven lead poisoning caused from ingestion and absorption.  Blood tests can reveal this as well as other medical tests to assess damage to tissue and organs. The human body can be purged of excessive lead levels.  The process is referred to as chelation therapy.  The treatment binds the lead to be evacuated from the body through urination.  One of the medicines used in the chelation process is known as dimercaprol.  Far be it from me to discuss the medical implications and complications of lead poisoning any further.  Consult other medical information, physicians, or medical experts on the subject.  

Protection is by working to prevent the ingestion of lead.  There are numerous lead filtering systems available for home use to reduce or eliminate the threat of lead in your drinking water.  Have your water tested professionally or purchase a home water testing kit to verify if lead is in your drinking water.  Just knowing one way or the other may be of some relief.  This should be done on a periodically recommended schedule as things change in water delivery systems, even a home well.  

Lead is a noxious substance.  It makes people sick and can eventually kill them.  Part of prepping is to also protect ourselves at home or work or life in addition to being prepared for other SHTF events.  If you have any reason to suspect your drinking water sources are contaminated with lead, then test it, then filter it to be on the safe side.  

Always monitor local area news reports and public service reports on municipal water system safety.  Make certain public waters are tested on schedule.  

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The Islamic State’s Barbarity Defies Our Understanding of Genocide

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IS_beheading_execution_barbarityA new paper published through the University of St. Andrews, Dehumanisation in Religious and Sectarian Violence: the Case of Islamic State, explores the uniquely horrific practices of the Islamic State. The author, Dr. Gilbert Ramsay, explores how the Islamic State does not dehumanize their victims in traditional ways. In fact, the Islamic State will often attribute a great deal of humanity to those massacred. This can be seen most explicitly in the videos IS publishes. In one instance, Dr. Ramsay notes IS employs editing in their execution videos that offer: “a window into the thoughts of the penitent victim prior to death”. Through their publications, IS seeks to create an intimate bond between the viewer and the victim. The religious content of the Islamic State ideology is so potent, the dehumanization of massacred individuals is sometimes unnecessary.  According to IS, Infidels and Shiites must be killed or submit to their ideology. As evidenced by the callous nature of their videos, this is done unapologetically.

By D-Ray, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

To be sure, Ramsay also notes the Islamic State will, from time to time, use dehumanizing methods. However, compared to other genocidal organizations, IS does not employ dehumanization nearly as frequently. Notably, the Nazis found found ways to dehumanize and shield themselves from profoundly depraved actions. The implications of the Islamic State’s ideological nature presents a terrifying possibility: we are dealing with an entity that does not find genocidal activities to be morally unconscionable.

Related: Zero Footprint

The Islamic State represents a truly unique and horrible evil. Although they are materially weak, the ideological power of IS is potent. It has been often said that you can kill a man but you can not kill an idea. While I agree with the sentiment of this maxim, the West must begin to attack and kill the ideology upon which the Islamic State is premised. If this new study is any indication, combatting the Islamic State’s cancerous belief system will be incredibly difficult.

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Tree Bark as an Emergency Food

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bark_piecesAn almost forgotten food from the wild is that which comes from the bark of trees.  Once a staple, now it is barely known even as a coarse survival food.  I myself have been slow coming to it even with wild edible plants as a major preoccupation since my teens.  An obvious possibility for why tree bark has not been found much in modern cuisine is that it doesn’t taste good.  The modern imagination easily responds to the notion of tree bark as food with images of gnawing on trees – not exactly as exciting as fishing, hunting, picking mushrooms, or picking berries.  However, perhaps that assumption is wrong.  Maybe delicious foods can be prepared from tree bark.

By Nathaniel Whitmore, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

I have in front of me eleven books on wild edibles.  At first glance at the table of contents of each book, or the text or index if the plants weren’t listed there, I found nothing in ten of the books  related to tree barks as edibles.  Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus) and others discuss Black Walnuts and Hickory for nuts.  Lee Allen Peterson (Edible Wild Plants) discusses the leaves of Basswood.  Bradford Angier (Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants) discusses the seeds of Maple and, of course, that the sap is boiled into Maple syrup.  …And the list goes on of other foods from the trees.  Only in one, A Naturalists Guide to Cooking with Wild Plants by Connie and Arnold Krochmal, did I find that the authors went on to discuss harvesting and preparing Maple bark.  They have a recipe for Maple bark bread that uses, along with other typical ingredients for bread, only ½ cup of all-purpose flour to 2 cups of ground Maple bark.  Another recipe for porridge is a typical porridge recipe with only Maple bark (cooked like farina, grits, or oats), along with a suggestion to spread it out to chill and thicken before browning in oil.

Cuisine and Nutrition

maple_treeI have not yet tried Maple (Acer spp.) porridge.  I have made porridge from Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) but only because I have acquired out-of-date stock from herbs stores here-and-there that I worked for.  The powdered bark is quite costly to eat like a breakfast cereal.  It is sold mostly for home-made lozenges and to add to smoothies.  Because the bark is quite mucilaginous, it is a great ingredient for do-it-yourself lozenges for sore or dry throat.  I like to always keep some in a convenient storage spot.  When I have plenty, I like to cook the powdered Elm bark with Maple syrup (and a little salt) for a real breakfast from the trees.  I have not yet attempted to powder the bark itself, though I do intend to.  Powdering bark is one of those things that is high up on my list of things to do that I never get around to doing.  Again, a survival situation might just re-prioritize that list.  The shredded bark is also readily available through commercial sources and is prepared as a cold infusion to produce a thick, moistening drink or ingredient.

Related: Food to Stock for Emergencies      

According to Daniel Moerman in Native American Food Plants, Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) was cooked by the Ojibwa.  Apparently they believe it tastes like eggs.  I have chewed it and infused it for “tea”, but will certainly have to try to prepare it like scrambled eggs!  I doubt it is all that similar, but I do not doubt that it can be prepared so that it tastes good.  Remember, much of foraging is about timing.  Not only is bark easier to peel off the tree in the spring (when the sap is flowing), but it also is thick, juicy, and milder tasting than other times of the year.  Certainly, timing is important for Ash bark and the others.  Though, if starving to death you might eat tree bark even if it wasn’t the ideal harvest season and even if it didn’t taste like eggs.

white_pine_barkWhite Pine (Pinus strobus) and other evergreens were vital survival foods for Native Americans in cold areas.  Although they often have too much astringency and pitchy consistency to be ideal foods, they also have vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and many important medicinal constituents.  It would be interesting, and potentially important in a survival scenario, to look into the nutritional constituents of various barks.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand that Pine bark has lots of vitamin C, but what about the macronutrients?  Are barks able to provide sufficient sugar, protein, or fat?  Sugar seems the most notable macronutrient from bark, but I still wonder how much is there.  Certainly, Maple bark can taste remarkably sweet, like Maple syrup.  Clearly it has sugar in it.  The benefits of bark as a survival food are at least partially illustrated by the Natives formerly feeding Cottonwood (Populus spp.) bark to horses.  Certainly, humans have different nutritional requirements than the four-legged grazers, though I still think it says something that the deer, other wild animals, and horses can glean nutrition from bark.

Basswood (American Linden, Tilia americana) is unique as a food tree in that it produces large broad leaves that are edible right off the tree.  Young twigs and buds were cooked by Chippewa.  By this I would assume that the bark is also mild and edible.  However, I turned to Moerman’s book Native American Medicinal Plants to learn that the Cherokee used the bark for diarrhea and the Iroquois used as a diuretic, which has me wondering if the bark is too astringent and drying to use as food.  Of course, many such remedies are mild enough to eat or can be prepared to be more food quality and less medicinal.  Generally though, diarrhea remedies are astringent and can cause constipation when not needed for runny stool.  Moerman did also report that the Cherokee used during pregnancy for heartburn and weak stomach and bowels.  If it was used during pregnancy, I imagine it is mild enough to eat.  Basswood bark is now bumped up to the top of the list of wild foods to try out this spring.

Medicinal Uses of Tree Bark

Medicines from tree barks are many.  Though this article focuses on edible barks, it would not be complete without mention of medicinal uses.  In addition to those already discussed above, the medicinal barks included many categories, such as astringents, cough remedies, blood-moving medicinals, and pain relievers.

aspirin_vintage_advertisement_willowWillow (Salix spp.) was an original source of a well-known medicine known as salicylic acid (named after Willow).  Like the drug Aspirin (which is named after Meadowsweet which is currently Filipendula, but formerly Spiraea), Willow is used for pain, to thin the blood, and for fevers.  Salicylic acid is commonly used for acne, dandruff, and warts.  Poplars (Populus spp.) are closely related to Willow both botanically (though many people confuse Poplars and Birch, or Betula spp.) and medicinally.  Poplars have largely fallen out of use in modern times, but formerly were commonly employed as medicinals – the bark used like Willow, and especially the resinous buds used for coughs.

Oaks (Quercus spp.) and many other trees have bitter-tasting astringency.  Astringents tone tissue, remove inflammation, and stop discharge.   They are important medicines that are indicated for damp, inflamed conditions like diarrhea, rashes, bleeding wounds, and sore throats.  Astringents are also used for daily maintenance like washing the face and brushing teeth.  In small quantities, they are used to maintain tissue integrity of the gums and digestive system.

Read Also: Bushcraft Mushrooms

Like Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), our Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is used to stimulate circulation and clean the blood.  The bark is delicious as tea, and can be combined with other root beer ingredients like Black Birch (Betula lenta).  The leaves of Sassafras are mucilaginous as well as spicy and can be prepared as food.  They are used in gumbo.  As an aromatic, blood-cleansing medicinal, Sassafras is used to treat skin disorders, arthritis, and to warm up the body.  The FDA has a controversial ban on Sassafras and the oil derived from it, safrole.

cherries_cherry_treePerhaps one of best-known cough remedies, Cherry Bark (Prunus spp.) has been used for ages.  My guess is that Cherry became a standard flavor for cough syrups largely because the bark was a standard medicine for coughs, even though the bark does not exactly taste like the fruit.  It does have a distinct Cherry flavor, but even more distinct is the cyanide flavor, especially in the fresh bark.  Because of the toxic properties, the use of fresh Cherry bark has been discouraged in the literature.  Though, the fresh bark is used medicinally and is significantly stronger than the dried bark.  The dried bark is available through commercial distributions.  Especially the wilted leaves have been known to cause poisoning in farm animals, so it seems the toxic properties spike during drying.  There are also various ideas about the best time to harvest.  Since I am not a chemist, I cannot say much with authority about cyanide content.  Consider yourself warned, however.  I encourage you to do your own research (before you find yourself starving or coughing to death in a Cherry forest).  Since this is such a valuable medicine I do indeed recommend learning about Cherry bark.  In my experience it is a top remedy for coughs and I assume it has many other uses in line with how Peach (Prunus persica) is used in Chinese medicine, which is extensive.  If the medicinal barks were not strong-natured and somewhat toxic, they would have been discussed earlier as edible barks.  It is precisely because they are strong that they are medicinal.  

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) bark is very medicinal.  It is one of the strongest antifungal herbs and is well-known as a remedy for intestinal parasites.  The inner bark stains yellow, as do the green hulls and leaves.  These parts also give off a distinct aroma that can help with identification and are doubtlessly related to the medicinal virtues.  Of course, Black Walnut is also known for its nuts, which are important survival food.     

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Poison in the Water? Trace Pharmaceuticals and Your Faucet

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Vicodin5mgThe issue of pharmaceuticals showing up in public water systems is gaining more and more attention in the media, and for good reason—because it’s there! While it isn’t entirely clear what these drugs are doing to your endocrine system, it isn’t positive. Moreover, your exposure to trace pharmaceuticals is probably greater than you imagine. Consider these news articles:

I could go on citing more and more articles on the subject, but what’s the point? These are all legitimate news sources, not quack “fake news” and conspiracy theory sites. The issue is real. Do your own research and you will quickly see for yourself. Believe it or not, you are exposed to trace chemicals from the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals. 

By Danger Dave, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & SurvivalCache

But what exactly are “trace pharmaceuticals”? Denver Water states:

Trace pharmaceuticals are sometimes called microconstituents or emerging contaminants. They are products that enter the water supply through animal-based agricultural runoff or from human sources. A high percentage of pharmaceuticals in wastewater enter the water supply when people dispose of medicines in the sink or toilet. Most, if not all, pharmaceutical products — whether used in animals or in humans — are used in doses at which some amounts are passed through the user and back into water systems. 

New York Legislator Burke (from the first article) said, “I heard someone make sort of a glib joke the other day that they’re feeling depressed, so instead of going to the pharmacy they’re just going to drink a cup of tap water.” Funny, but no laughing matter.

From Prescription to Drinking Water

glass_of_waterHow is it that when we turn on the tap water we get a refreshing glass of… drug-tainted water? Well, what do people do with unused and expired drugs? Chances are they get dumped in the toilet and flushed. The water system is a circular system. It all comes back around. What is more, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that the flushing of drugs is only part of the problem.

“The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies,” says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert at FDA. “Many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through wastewater treatment plants.”

So drugs are getting into the water system simply by the fact people are taking drugs and then using the bathroom as they always do.

Drugs in our water is no easy problem to solve, and it’s the reason the FDA, in partnership with the DEA and community organizations, developed community-based drug “take-back” programs. (Click here to find a take-back program in your area.)


doctor_medical_SWOT-2Everyone agrees that trace amounts of drugs are in the water. As we established, this is not “alternative facts” or theory. It is undeniable. What is not clear is to what extent it may cause harm to individuals consuming the water. According to WebMD, while scientists do not know the extent of the threat to our health, of particular concern is the presence of synthetic hormones, because “hormones work at very low concentrations in the human body.” They go on to say, “We know that kids, including babies and toddlers, as well as fetuses, are more susceptible to environmental exposures because their bodies are still developing and their exposure on a pound-per-pound basis is higher. And they lack the detoxification system adults have. So it is not unreasonable to expect they would be at a higher risk.”

Soooo… if it is of particular concern for kids, and the science is still out on the effects their presence in water has on adults, I am inclined to err on the side of safety.


So there is no denying the research and concern. Drugs in drinking water is very real. While solutions for preventing the drugs from entering the water system prove somewhat elusive, there are concrete ways to get trace pharmaceuticals out of your water.

“Boil it,” you say? Nope. Boiling it does not solve the problem. “Then bottled water,” you argue. Not likely. Twenty-five percent of bottled water comes from the tap. Your best bet at addressing the problem? Filtering it between when it leaves the tap to when it reaches your mouth.

water_pitcher_epicPreppers are familiar with a few of the common water filtration available to them because they have purchased them as insurance against an environmental or man-made catastrophe to allow them access to safe drinking water. But why wait until catastrophe strikes to use them when those very filters could be used right now to clean your drinking water for safe(er) consumption? If you own the products already, why not use them on a daily basis now? If you don’t own the products, consider getting one, for the sake of your family’s health. A few that we recommend for prepping purposes also remove trace pharmaceuticals:

  • Black Berkey Filters
  • Epic’s Filtration Pitcher

From my view, any “prepper” product that can get used now is a must get. It makes far more sense to purchase these products before products that will sit on a shelf for a “just in case” situation that may not come.

Lastly, you can do your part to help combat drugs entering the water supply by following the drug disposal guidelines from the FDA found here.

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Wilderness First Aid Guide

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red_cross_first_aid.svgAdministering the right first aid correctly can help save lives and reduce discomfort when you are out in the wilderness.  Understanding the common challenges you may face and how to react under such conditions will help remove uncertainties and improve patient outcome. Having your first aid kit with you is the first step to handling emergencies. Here are some steps to take when faced with health emergencies or accidents in the wilderness:

By Ryan, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

1) Survey the Area: Before you jump in to help the patient, take a second to survey the area for any potential danger. It’s important you keep your instinct to help immediately in check and ensure that the area is safe for you. There is no need rushing in only to increase the number of patients by falling victim to whatever danger created the emergency in the first place. Watch for signs of dangerous animals, uneven terrains that maybe due to an avalanche, and so on.

2) Approach the Patient: Approach the patient and try to determine the cause of the injury or medical condition, and put on your gloves before you touch the patient.

3) Determine the State of Your Patient: Tap the patient on the shoulder and shout “are you ok?” If you don’t get a response, use 10 seconds to determine if the patient is still breathing (occasional gasps is not breathing).

4) If the patient is not breathing send someone to call the emergency number immediately. Get the patient lying face-up and ensure the neck, head and back are in a straight line. If it’s a child and the parent or guardian is around, ask for consent if you haven’t already. Then give rescue breath. The right way to give rescue breath is to tilt the patient’s head, raise the chin, pinch the nose, and then breathe in through the mouth till the chest expands. Give rescue breath one after the other.

5) If the chest doesn’t rise after two rescue breaths, start CPR immediately. If you witnessed the patient collapse, skip rescue breaths and start CPR immediately.

6) If the patient is still breathing, keep the airway clear by raising the patient’s neck and tilting the head.

Dealing with Bleeding

medical_bag_packedIf the patient is bleeding, it’s important you stop the bleeding immediately. Raise the wounded area above the heart level and apply direct pressure with gauze, clean cloth, sphagnum moss, or dried seaweed. However, if it’s a head injury, apply several dressings and press gently because the skull may be fractured.  If you feel bone fragments, depression, or a spongy area, DO NOT apply direct pressure. Use diffused pressure to control the bleeding. 

Related: First Aid Training 

For non-head bleeding that fails to stop after application of direct pressure, consider applying pressure at the pulse point between the bleeding area and the heart.

Once the bleeding is controlled, flood the area with water to wash out dirt and contaminants. If there is any dirt still visible the water can’t remove, use tweezers to remove it carefully. Clean the area around the wound with alcohol wipe if you have one in your first aid box. Ensure you do not clean the inside of the wound with the alcohol wipe. Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound, and add clean gauze, and then a wrap to keep it in place. 

Dealing with Bone and Joint Injuries

cast_orthopedicBone and joint injuries may be strains, fractures, sprains, or dislocations. Although it can be difficult for an inexperienced person without BLS certification to tell one from the other, the care to be given is similar. Check for symptoms such as deformity, tenderness, swelling, an inability of the patient to use or move the injured part without pain, loss of sensation, or open injuries to confirm you are dealing with a bone or joint injury. 

Also Read: What not to do When Lost in the Wilderness

Help the person rest the injured body part and immobilize it on the ground or with a splint if you need to move the person. Apply a cold pack if available on the body part, separating the skin and the cold pack with a gauze or clean cloth to avoid damaging the skin. Leave for 20 minutes. Use cold water if ice is unavailable. Elevate the fractured body part above the heart level if it won’t cause pain or discomfort. You can administer aspirin if the pain is severe.  Arrange for evacuation of the patient as soon as possible.

Apart from the above basic precaution, do not attempt to fix bone damage or a dislocation if you are not trained to do so as permanent damage may occur.

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Get Out of Debt and Survive With Less After TSHTF

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tv_impressionsOn TV the other day (I was streaming a news broadcast off the Internet – I don’t have cable TV) I saw a commercial that settled in my mind and it gnawed away at for me awhile. I didn’t realize until later why it bothered me so much. Here’s a synopsis of the commercial: Dude1 walks out of his house over to his neighbors house in a suburban neighborhood, where his friend (Dude2) is admiring a new car. “Nice car!” Dude1 says and Dude2 beams and starts to talk about its features. Dude1 listens politely, then hits the button on his key fob and the brand new ultra fancy pickup truck in his driveway chirps and he walks over to it with a look of smug satisfaction on his face while Dude2 with the car stands there with his mouth open, obviously wishing he had the fancy truck.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

The American Dream is being forced down our throats, people.  Marketers know how we think and they target our desires to warp us into wanting more.  Not only do they convince us to want more, we need whatever “it” is to be bigger, faster, and more powerful! Buy, buy, buy!  It keeps the economy going and the markets inflated.

nice_house_elite“They” want us to consume so they can continue to make their Porsche payments and live in their fancy houses with body guards. Meanwhile, we’re stuck with five-hundred dollar a month truck payments we can’t afford because we’re suckered into The Dream.  I’ve noticed the same trend in prepping. Someone shows off the latest AR-15 or M4 with a super-scope or laser sites and there’s oooh’s and aaaah’s and people wanting to rush out and get one for their arsenal. Or maybe someone got the latest land rover, RV, or a hardened Hummer. Hey, if you can afford the stuff more power to you, but most people I know are in debt trying to keep up with their house payments and student loans, much less a hardened hummer with three new AR-15’s in it.

Get By With Less

car-refill-transportation-transportIt’s ok to plan on getting by with less. As a matter of fact that’s exactly what we’ll need to do if and when TSHTF. The more knowledge and experience you have about survival and getting by with less the better off you’ll be. Once the balloon goes up finding gas for that thirsty Hummer will be a chore and way more expensive to boot – if you can even find any. There’s been a movement lately about getting by with less called minimalism. I’ve done a little reading and decided that it’s perfectly fine to cut down on the amount of stuff in my life that takes up valuable space and time thinking about it. I went from fifteen dress shirts to six. A whole pile of t-shirts to five. A huge pile of camping gear to just what I need for me and my family. What good is five packs full of gear if I can only use one at a time?

I wound up selling a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace (one of the few things Facebook is good for) and haven’t regretted it at all.  How do you decide what stuff to get rid of? That was actually the easy part for me. I went through my gear and if I hadn’t touched it in the last six months or a year I put it in a pile mentally labeled “Sell or Donate.” If you decide to give it a try you’ll be surprised at how fast that pile will grow.

Letting Go

I admit that at first it’s a little hard getting rid of stuff that you love, but after awhile you realize it’s not the stuff you love, but the idea of it. You buy junk you don’t need because it makes you happy. It gives you a little dopamine hit when you walk out of the store with a new item. Pretty soon you have twenty-five pairs of shoes you don’t wear and two closets worth of clothing that just hangs there.

I probably had two or three hundred movie DVD’s sitting in my basement collecting dust. Now I’m down to about twenty of my favorite all time movies that I watch over and over again (Billy Jack for example), but are hard to find online.

book_shelfAnd books. If you love books like I do this was a hard one, but I went through my books and if I hadn’t read it in a year or ten and it didn’t make my heart bump in that special way it went in the pile. My goal was to cut back to one bookshelf (about five shelves from floor to ceiling two feet wide) instead of books taking over every available space in the house. This was actually way easier than I thought it would be. First to go were all the books I’d picked up at lawn sales or had given to me. You know what I’m talking about; you pick up a book on a hot summer day and it marginally grabs your interest, but hey! It’s only a quarter, so you pick up seven or eight because you have a few extra bucks on you and throw them into the back of your car. They ride around there for a week or so until you carry them in the house and try to cram them into that bookshelf that’s already overflowing and then you forget about them.

Where I notice it the most is on my dresser. It used to be covered with cameras, computer gear, pieces of paper, change, flashlights, knives… you get the idea. I have one of those that opens up like an armoire, so there are actually three shelves where I could keep stuff. In the morning I’d go crazy trying to find my EDC.

Now it’s clean. All the extra books are gone, I’m down to a couple of cameras I actually use, change goes into a special place in the kitchen where it can be used.  How did my wife react to this new mode of thinking? She was ecstatic! By nature she’s always been a minimalist, so when I started getting rid of extra junk she was happy as could be.  So how does that carry over to prepping? For one thing it allows you to focus on those things that are really important such as good quality food.

Instead of opting for ten guns how about buying one or two that will really get the job done?  Instead of a brand new sixty thousand dollar range rover how about taking care of the vehicle you already have? Treat your vehicles right and they’ll treat you right. People are so willing to throw something away today instead of taking care of it that it blows my mind.

I see people treating trucks like computer tablets these days. Once it’s a couple of years old they’ll trade it in for a new one instead of taking care of the one they have. Of course a tablet goes for a hundred dollars these days and a truck costs anywhere from twenty-five to seventy-five thousand depending on what kind you get. Friends of mine who didn’t have the money went out and bought an expensive SUV, but didn’t have the money to pay for it. Now they’re stuck with a huge vehicle payment and regret it.

Avoid Debt

Today my wife and I avoid debt like the plague, which is a great thing to be in agreement on.  If we can’t afford to pay cash for something we don’t buy it. And living as minimalists we typically don’t want it anyway, which makes it far easier to cope with those emotions that spring up when we see some shiny new car or gizmo that would be wicked awesome to have, but can’t afford or will never use.

money_debtYears ago my phone was ringing off the hook with companies wanting their money and I finally did this to get out of debt.  It’s hard to do, but so worth it in the end!  Don’t get me wrong, I still see stuff I want and think, “Ooooh! I’d love to have that!” But I’ll sit on it for a week and if the feeling goes away I know it was just a passing fancy. (That Korean era officer’s military mess kit I saw this summer for $300 springs to mind.) I thought about it for awhile and decided I didn’t want it because of its authenticity, but because it would be fun to whip something like that out at the campground and actually use it. I then decided that if I wanted something like that it would be far easier and cheaper to build one myself. It’s still on the back burner, but if I decide to move forward it will be a fun project and one that will really mean something to me.


I’m not saying to sell all your stuff and live in a tent or a yurt (although a yurt might be kinda cool when I think about it.)  What I’m suggesting is to take a look at your lifestyle and possessions and see if there’s anything you can cut back on or things you can sell.  Almost everybody has extra stuff and the average American has tons of extra stuff they don’t use.

If you have debt, selling some of that extra stuff and not buying more can help you drive that debt down a little. Thoreau said to “Simplify!” and if you take that advice to heart you can live a rich life while staying out of debt.  Let go of the stuff you don’t need and take a good hard look at the stuff you have.  You’ll be a happier person because of it.  Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

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Pandemic is an Inevitability

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ebola_outbreak_in_gulu_municipal_hospitalIn the summer of 2014, the media and state actors panicked over the emergence of an ebola epidemic in Western Africa. The panic was understandable and entirely warranted. After all, ebola kills around 50% of those infected.  Moreover, a cursory examination of ebola’s symptoms are terrifying. Among other things, ebola can induce blood vomiting, severe rash, and liver inflammation. After the disease was reigned in and Western African States declared their health crises under control, health departments around the world began to reflect on their response to the ebola epidemic. Although the ebola epidemic was regionally contained, it was not due to the competence and quick response of state governments. The implications of the lackluster response to the epidemic are far more disturbing than ebola itself. In a globalized world, we are entirely unprepared to quickly address the outbreak of a horrific disease. At this point, a pandemic isn’t a possibility, it is an inevitability.

By D-Ray a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Say what you will about the politics of Bill Gates but he is right about one thing: we are entirely unprepared to contain and address a potential pandemic. We lack the resources, funding, and state cooperation to adequately address an epidemic that has the potential to become a pandemic. In his Vox interview, Gates mentions an anecdote worth discussing: the 1918 Spanish Flu was almost equal in human devastation to World War II. It seems safe to assume that a pandemic today would only be accelerated by globalization.  An infected individual could board a plane in Dubai and be in New York 15 hours later. We live in a time where we are uniquely vulnerable to pandemic.

Until governments properly fund health programs, it is entirely up to the individual to manage risk. In the case of a lethal, infectious outbreak, the best strategy is to go into isolation. Of course, any period of extended isolation will require a considerable amount of prepping. Most obviously, you will need food and water. Don’t count on clean tap water. In the event of a cataclysmic pandemic, it is likely infrastructure will deteriorate. This will lead to worsened water quality and the potential of infection by waterborne disease. Invest in quality water filtration systems.

Do your emergency plans include contingencies for plague? If they don’t, they should. The probability of such an event, over 50%, certainly warrants preparation. Do not be caught unprepared. What are your plans for pandemic? Will you attempt to bug out or follow a strategy of isolation at home?

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Home Remedies for a Toothache

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leo-animal-savannah-teethTeeth are one of the most important parts of the human body, but they are also unfortunately very vulnerable to wear and tear. Regularly in use, teeth are exposed to substances that cause damage, and, can eventually lead to toothaches. It is important to know how to take care of a toothache in the absence of medical professionals and prescription drugs. Fortunately, there are many home remedies for toothaches and plenty of preventive care you can take to avoid toothaches all together.

By Derrick of Prepper Press

First, brush and floss. Doing so now can prevent problems you might not be fully equipped to deal with in an emergency situation down the road. Brushing at least twice a day is the most effective and efficient way to prevent toothaches before they start. Commercial toothpastes can be effective nearly two years after the expiration date listed, and there are ways to make your own toothpaste so you do not have to be dependent on commercial products in the case they are not available or have passed their effective date. A simple paste made out of baking soda and water can make an effective toothpaste, and add some crushed peppermint leaves to flavor it if you prefer.

Essential Oils, Herbs, and Spices

peppermint_tooth_ache_remedyPeppermint does a lot more than add flavor – it can also serve as an effective way to ease a toothache. You can use peppermint essential oil to remedy for a toothache simply by rubbing a bit on the area where the toothache is. A q-tip works well for this application. You can also make a tea of mint leaves, and depending on how severe the toothache is and how you know temperature affects it, drink it either cold or lukewarm.

Related: Five Best DIY Toothache Remedies

Cloves are another effective way to ease a toothache in the absence of dentists and painkillers. Like peppermint, you can use either the essential oil or plant form to treat your pain. Apply clove oil directly to the hurting area with a q-tip, cotton ball, or other like product, or just chew on clove buds to release their healing properties. Cloves are an especially good home remedy for toothaches because they are a source of eugenol, which is an anesthetic and anti-bacterial. If your toothache is being caused by bacteria, cloves and clove oil can not only ease the pain, they can help eradicate the source of the toothache. However, be careful not to put too much clove oil on at once, as it can cause side effects when swallowed. For this reason, if you are treating a child’s toothache, be sure to carefully apply a minimal amount yourself. Don’t let them apply the oil as it would be easy for them to accidentally ingest some of the oil if too large an amount is applied and there is excess to swallow. Like cloves, vanilla extract contains eugenol. If clove oil is too strong for you to handle, try using vanilla instead.

Oregano oil and oregano leaves are another natural remedy for toothaches that is easy to have on hand when medical care might not be available. Oregano has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help to soothe and combat toothaches. As with other herbal oils, apply it topically to the toothache area using a q-tip or cotton ball.  You can also use crushed up leaves as a paste to apply topically. A mortar and pestle works well for making a paste out of oregano leaves.

garlic_toothache_remedyGarlic also has anti-bacterial properties, and so is useful in fighting a toothache. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it soothes the pain while it is helping to heal what is causing the pain. And, as an extra bonus, garlic can also help fight tooth decay. Garlic can be used by simply chewing it. Before you chew the garlic, though, you should rinse it off to ensure it is clean and will not transfer anything into your mouth that could potentially cause further infection or damage. When you have chewed the garlic enough to get juice out of it, at which point you may feel your mouth or tooth go slightly numb, spit out the garlic and rinse with water. Your breath might not be great after chewing on garlic, so you can also try chewing on a peppermint leaf right after the garlic. This will not only freshen your breath, but give you a double-dose of toothache remedies.

For another slightly unpleasant smelling, but effective, toothache remedy try chewing on onions. Like garlic, onions are anti-bacterial. Prepare and chew the onion in the same way as the garlic to treat your toothache.

Ginger is another commonly available spice that can help you deal with the pain of a toothache. It’s also generally helpful to have on hand in any medical supply kit you are compiling, as it also helps with everyday health issues such as nausea and headaches. Ginger can be used as a home remedy for toothaches that have not yet progressed to the point where it is too painful to chew. In order to use ginger for a toothache remedy, you should cut a piece of ginger root, peel the brown skin off, and chew on the peeled piece of ginger. Try to focus your chewing on the tooth where the pain is centered so that the juice from the ginger root gets on and around the tooth and gum area that hurts. You can also try brewing a cup of ginger tea, waiting until it is lukewarm, and swishing it around.

Like ginger, apple cider vinegar is effective both at calming nausea and soothing toothaches. As a result, it is a valuable addition to any medical prep kit. Apple cider vinegar also has a long shelf life – up to five years for peak effectiveness, but is still safe to use, albeit less effective, after that time. To ease a toothache with apple cider vinegar, apply it with a cotton ball or q-tip as you would for essential oils.

If you have it available, a sip of alcohol that you swish around in your mouth before swallowing can help with your tooth pain. Not only will it help you tolerate the pain, but alcohol’s antiseptic properties will help to attack the toothache itself.

Essential oils, bottled goods, and dried herbs and spices need to be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure they are at peak effectiveness. You also need to be aware of the length of time they have been sitting in your stores. After a period of time, the effectiveness of these products can wear off. Thankfully, you can grow many herbs and spices that are useful for toothache home remedies either in a garden or indoors with the proper light. A garden or indoor pots that are carefully maintained to encourage the healthy growth of plants means that even in an emergency you can have fresh food, and a supply of plants that are useful in easing the aches and pains of your body.

Simple Remedies

pexels-photo-30492In addition to essential oils, herbs and spices, there are some simpler home remedies for toothaches. One is as simple as an ice pack. Ice is easy to make if you have a freezer, or even if you simply live in a cold environment. There are also many ice packs available for purchase that you can store and activate when needed if you are in a situation where electric freezers are not an option, if water is at a premium, or if the climate isn’t cooperative. Ice can ease swelling and numb pain, and so is good for easing pain as you fight a toothache caused by bacteria with garlic, oregano, or another plant. When you are using ice, though, you must wrap the ce pack or ice cubes in a cloth or towel before holding it against the painful area. Applying ice directly to the skin can cause burns. When you’re trying to solve one health issue, there’s no need to cause yourself another unnecessarily! You should also be careful not to apply ice for more than 15 minutes at a time, but after a break in the application you can reapply it several times throughout the day.

Read Also: Top 5 Worst Incidences of Martial Law in the United States

Another simple home remedy for a toothache is rinsing your mouth with saltwater. Dissolve a small amount of salt, a teaspoon or so, in warm water, then swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. Repeat a few times until the glass of water is gone, and then repeat again later in the day. Saltwater is effective for fighting toothaches because it’s alkaline, and as such discourages the growth of bacteria that thrive in acidic areas and can cause toothaches. Salt also has healing properties, so if your mouth also has sores or other discomfort, the saltwater will help to expedite the healing process of those and increase the overall health of your mouth.

Take Care of Your Teeth

toothbrush-toothpaste-dental-care-cleanMany of the home remedy options for toothaches are based in supplies that are useful for other medical or health issues, and so should be kept at hand anyway in order to ensure you are prepared for any eventuality. However, toothaches should not be taken lightly as they can lead to infections and further problems. As such, in a situation where professional medical and dental care is not readily available, it becomes especially important that good dental hygiene is practiced in order to stave off tooth decay and tooth pain as much as possible.  You need your teeth to keep the rest of your body healthy, so take care of your teeth, be prepared, and know how to deal with a toothache appropriately.

Derrick Grant is the founder of Prepper Press, a publisher of post-apocalyptic fiction and survival nonfiction. Follow his Facebook writer page for all things dystopian and apocalyptic.


Toughen Up and Take the Pain!

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participation_trophy_sad_cultureThe United States has become a nation where  the pursuit of happiness and the absence of discipline has turned us into a land of politically correct, overweight, sissies intent on pointing the finger at someone else as the source of the problem rather than looking in the mirror like we should.  All the kids get trophies now.  Used to be that a kid got the idea of what it took to be a winner either by winning something and knowing what it took to get there. If they lost, they’d appreciate what it took to get a trophy. Collectively, we used to know that if we put in the long hours and the hard work, it would pay off and we would be successful.  Not enough people know this now. It would seem as though we’ve lost something in our culture that we used to rely on to win. At some point in time, we became soft.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

We go through our lives now from one carefully controlled environment to the next.  Not many people want to work outside in the cold winters or hot summers anymore.  We wonder why immigrants are taking our jobs – it’s because not many people are willing to show up and work in the fields or do the menial jobs any more.

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you don’t have this attitude.  Why?  If you’re here, you’re probably interested in surviving a catastrophic event.  Anything from a national power outage to a nuclear war; we prepare for it all.  You also know that survival will mean hard work and suffering – something many, if not most Americans don’t want to experience.  I’ve talked with people in the past who have actually said, “If the power went out forever I wouldn’t want to survive.”  So much for the pioneering spirit our ancestors brought with them.  They would roll over in their graves if they saw what has become of our spirit.

If a little pain and suffering makes you quit, good luck when times get tough.  To those with weak mental fortitude: all I can guarantee is pain, suffering, and uncertainty.  If society collapses, nobody can say how others will react.  Some people riot and others band together to help each other.  Hopefully you live in an area where people help each other out.  If society takes a nosedive, most visitors of this site will at least be somewhat prepared. Those who fail to see civilization is premised on a fragile infrastructure will be in a world of pain when conditions deteriorate.

Take the Pain!

Obese or overweight?  Out of shape?  Terrible diet?  On a ton of medication?  I’ll bet that if you lost some weight a lot of those ailments would disappear.  If the idea of giving up McDonald’s food and exercising daily makes you cringe, good luck when the balloon goes up.  Ask yourself this question and be honest:  if you had to bug-out twenty miles right now – right this second, could you pick up your bug-out bag and walk the distance?  Could you walk it without your bug-out bag?  If the answer is no, then you must consider getting yourself back in shape.  It could save your life several different ways.  One, by making you healthy again allowing you to get rid of the medications and living a healthy life. Two, by giving you the ability to do physical, potentially life saving activities.  Go to your local shopping center or mall and stop in the middle of a bunch of people and look around.  In your opinion, how many could walk or run five miles in an emergency?  I’ve done this exercise many times and I’m always surprised at how few would be able to do this.

People are more interested in a magic pill will allow us to eat and drink whatever we want. Most people avoid entertaining the idea of exercise and diet.  We want all the stuff, whether that’s food, drink, drugs, or electronic toys, that will give us that little dopamine hit instead of working our asses off and being healthy.  We now have a national epidemic of people taking opioids. It’s been around for a long time and it seems to just keep getting worse.

A lot of times improving yourself involves some kind of pain, whether it’s the pain of going without alcohol or drugs, or of denying yourself that extra piece of cake.  Maybe it’s the pain associated with learning something new instead of watching three hours of T.V. every night. Sometimes you gotta sacrifice for the greater good.  Take the pain!

No Easy Road

flipping_burgers_self_sufficiencyThere’s no easy road to success.  If you want more money find a better job or get better at the one you’re doing.  A lot of young folks out there today don’t even have jobs and a good number of millennials are happy to live at home with mom and dad.  If you’re one of these kids, I say get off your ass and get a job that will allow you to help pay the rent.  I don’t care if you’re slinging burgers at McDonald’s or working on Wall Street, you need to be grown up and self sufficient because mom and dad aren’t always going to be there wiping your nose for you.  Check out this crazy story about a 28 year old man who killed his parents because he didn’t want to move out and fend for himself.  Sick eh?  Granted, it’s the millennial mindset taken to the extreme, but it’s telling that this happened at all.  As if all that was bad enough we’ve got rich companies skimming whatever they can off the top and people who don’t want to work skimming off the bottom.  Pretty soon there won’t be enough left over for the guy in the middle.

What Can We Do?

First, our kids have to know that hard work and pain is ok.  It’s part of the human condition.  If you make sure that your kids never feel any pain, they’ll never have a chance to grow.  You’re doing them a disservice.  Now don’t go around saying, “Jarhead says to starve my kids!”  Let’s not be stupid here.  What I’m saying is that if your kid comes up to you fifteen minutes before a meal and says they’re hungry, it’s perfectly fine to tell them to wait instead of giving them a candy bar.  If you give in, they’ll never know what it’s like to wait a few minutes.  Teach them discipline.

youth_football_goals_painA friend of mine came over with his son and we were all working out.  My son (seven years old) gave up after ten minutes and started upstairs.  He asked his friend to come with him and the friend said no, he wanted to try out for the football team.  I said, “That’s because he wants it”. My boy came back downstairs and started working out again.  I didn’t berate him.  I didn’t yell at him, but I opened the door to hard work by pointing out that his friend was working to achieve a goal.

Later this season my buddy called me up and told me his son was killing it on the football field.  When he mentioned to his son what a great job he was doing, his boy said, “That’s because I want it, dad!”  My buddy had to call me up and tell me what an impact my words had on his son.  He was willing to take the pain to get what he wanted.

You don’t need to be friends with your kids.  You should love them, but your children need someone who’s going to show them right and wrong and enforce it.  Not a mom or dad who wants to be friends and will give in because they don’t want the kids mad at them.  Guess what?  If your kid has never been mad at you, you either have one hell of an exceptional kid or you aren’t doing your job right.

Set a Goal

finish_line_goalsFind something you want and set a goal.  If you want to change the world you’ve first got to change yourself.  I don’t care what it is, but when you set the goal follow up on it.  Maybe you want to lose twenty pounds, write a book, walk five miles with your bug-out bag, race in a 5K, or give up drinking beer and eating hotdogs.  Whatever it is, this is how you do it:  set a realistic goal and a completion date.  Remember, a goal without a due date is just a dream and will never happen. Next, take instant action on whatever that goal is.  If you want to quit drinking, pour all your booze down the drain.  If you want to write a book, make a goal to write a thousand words a day or whatever you can produce.  Whatever it is you want to do make a small advance towards that goal every day.  Your kids are looking to you as an example. If you set a goal and abandon it a week later, guess what?  They’ll do the same thing.

Take Responsibility For Your Actions

When I went to Marine Corps bootcamp, one of the first things the D.I.’s pounded into us was to take responsibility for our actions.  If we did something stupid or screwed up, we were expected to own it.  They didn’t want to hear excuses or lies, they just wanted to hear you say, “The Private screwed up, sir!”. We were then expected to do whatever we could to make it right.

I think if more people – adults and kids – were held accountable for their actions, we’d live in a different world.  Then again, maybe not.  If you lack integrity, all the rules in the world won’t make you a better person.  What do you think? Am I way outta line here? Questions?  Comments?  Sound off below!

Photos Courtesy Of:

Daniel Lee
AZ Hook

Interested in writing for us? Send a sample of your work and an introductory statement to joel@survivalcache.com. Please use subject line: ‘Write for SurvivalCache/SHTFBlog’. If you’re a good fit, we’ll publish your work and compensate you accordingly.

50 Affordable Gifts for Survivalists

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There is now less than a month until Christmas! If you know a prepper or a survivalist and you’re looking for gift ideas, we got you covered. And if you’re a prepper yourself and looking for some cool survival items to put on your wishlist, we also got you covered. Below you’ll find an alphabetical […]

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10 Widespread Disasters That Could Happen At Any Time

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When preparing for a widespread disaster, it’s helpful to have a specific type of disaster in mind. Envisioning a particular survival scenario helps you to be more focused and think of preparations that might not have occurred to you otherwise. How would a pandemic play out in your town? Or a terrorist attack? Or an […]

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Voaching and Mall Ninjas: Survival Lessons From the 2016 Election

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big_game_hunting_electionLuckily American presidential elections always fall in the middle of hunting season so for many Americans few things make a better election detox than long walk in the woods with a gun. As I was doing just that, I considered if Donald Trump would need to wear any hunter’s orange. Bad joke I know, but it did pop into my mind. And there’s more. Some of the greatest opportunities of discovery begin with the unexpected. And many things “unexpectedly” unfolded between the evening of the 8th and morning 9th of November.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of SHTFBlog and Survival Cache

So as one with survival/prepping bends, I embraced the unexpected as a chance to learn. A social experiment, if you will. Rather than placing value judgements on people or results, I studied the behaviors, reactions, and counter-reactions. Like when there’s a natural disaster, instead of critiquing the evacuation, I study the events as they unfold and use them to refine my personal survival models. They are a picture of reality whether you like it or not.

Poll Dancing

According to the polls, its a proven fact that the readership of this blog and SurvivalCache are 50% Democrats, 50% Repbulicans, 30% Libertarian, 25% Green Party, and 71% Independent. At least 75% of the readers are male and 46% are female. Overall they voted 3% for Trump, 3% for Hillary, with the remaining 99% voting for someone or something else that may or may not have included anyone officially on the ballot.

trump_articleAs with Trump’s season of unscripted reality TV shows, it became clear that it had all the makings of a blockbuster thriller with none of the budget or stunt doubles. When each weekly episode ended we were left with a humdinger, a cliffhanger, or a key player was “killed off” the show. Sometimes there was a mind boggling plot twist that left America’s collective mouth agape and drooling. Red, blue, or purple, it made no difference. Everyone watched, listened, joked and talked about the show. But the biggest reveal, the one shocking the fans to their core and immediately becoming the most the defining moment of the entire first season, was when the audience was allowed to vote for the celebrity of choice. While it had long since been discovered that neither candidate could sing or dance, the followers of the show turned out in record droves. And then America became the star of the show. Yea, there was that tall guy and that shorter gal who were in the news, but for a brief moment, it was us, the citizens. It was our turn to take the spotlight. And trust me, we provided our own shock and awe.

Beware the Unknown unknowns

We have models for civil unrest, martial law, prepper percentages, mob behaviors, marauding, and natural disasters of all kinds. We make educated guesses on duration, when to call it a bug out, and any number of variables based on personal experience that we each individually believe will give us an advantage. The problem here: demographics data was wrong and Trump proved it.

Related: Trump Respect, not Understanding

Now I’m not one to give Trump any unearned sophistication, but he sure seemed to squeeze votes out of people and places that politicians had not drilled into in decades. The massive immigration of Americans flooding into the electoral system overwhelmed the poll vetting process to the point where it was clear we had no idea who would vote, and for whom they would vote.

Poker Face

In many ways, the election unfolded like a game of poker. Who’s hand was the best, who was bluffing, and most of all who was watching the game. So on Tuesday night, Hillary laid down the most important poker hand in her life, a straight flush (royals are unAmerican), all hearts, followed by smile and a Shoulder Shimmy™.

poker_hand_electionOn the other side of the table, Trump hesitantly dropped his cards down on the green felt one at a time and looked just as surprised as the rest of America when his hand won. Who knew you could beat a straight flush with five-of-a-kind, all deuces. So how did Trump’s hand bite Hillary in the pantsuit? Because the media didn’t know there were more than four of each suite in a deck of cards since they never played polling poker with the entire deck.


Trump Voached, or poached votes, plain and simple. Nothing in the illegal sense, but definitely with the same tactics as professional poachers. Trump’s Voaching included attracting voters with bait. Trump Voached votes out of season by addressing topics formerly thought off limits to candidates. Trump Voached well over his limit of certain demographic groups leaving less game for the rest of the candidates to hunt. Trump viciously Voached votes by attacking fellow hunters in the primary and again during the general election. A Voaching Trump did not throw back the bottom feeders, trash fish, and other nuisance pests who still counted towards his limit because they are Americans. In many cases he even proudly hugged them for a selfie while simultaneously looking confused as to who they were.

Cape of Fear

ak_47_pro_2aA bright spot in all this disagreement that grows in intensity every day since 11/9 (although some compare it to 9/11) can be seen in a convergence of gun rights. Many traditional Republicans have wrapped themselves in the a 2nd Amendment cape strutting around like superheroes. Until recently, that cape was to give the common folk a fighting chance for when the government goes all tyrannical. Until recently, the fear of such tyranny was based upon ancient history and paranoia, at least according to the stereotypical Democrat. But on the 9th of November, 2016, a sizable swath of the those in the popular vote got a taste of that paranoia. And it was quite bitter. Now that the blood is drying and dust is settling, and the grieving process has moved away from rants and alcohol, a healthy respect for the power of the people has emerged. An unlikely consequence of this election: liberals may have a new perspective on the second amendment. Maybe there’s something to this well regulated militia stuff after all,” they’re thinking.

Read Also: The Free Marketplace of Ideas is Dead

In other words, the Right to Bear Arms looks a little different today to the “only-for-hunting” crowd. Not that Trump is the real enemy, but instead the very real chance that the undeniable rights of Americans might be infringed upon is the foe at the door. Exactly what those rights are has yet to be determined, but the Second Amendment is the Sheepdog, and there are a lot more blue sheepdogs today than this time last year.

But do you Operate?

There are at least two big survival takeaways as 2016 winds down. The first is that the Unknown Unknowns are alive and well. This means that there are significant concerns based in reality so there’s no need to waste good space adding bigfoot, Area 51, and chemtrails to your conspiracy of threats. There are very real threats which provide ample exercise for prepping and survival. Unfortunately the data we use to forecast imminent threats are incomplete at best. So, the downstream results of the threat gain an even greater margin of error.

To any serious survivalist, the so-called Mall Ninja has been the public face of the anti-operator or unprepper. If society collapsed, the purebred Mall Ninja would be little more than an irritating fly in need of swatting. Mall Ninjas are more of a threat to themselves than to others. With this being said, their abundance of gear and lack of skill means they shouldn’t be ignored, but rather treated like a drunk driver on the highway.

If Mall Ninjas are the public face of the prepared to the unprepared, and that face is used to generalize across society as a whole (or at least the portion of society that will attempt to survive), then our war planning is about to get a reality enema. If an unpolled, non-vocal segment of American society can Swiftboat a presidential election, just imagine what is waiting for you when the lights go out.

hollywood_election_signThe second takeaway is the need to model our survival scenarios on more than popular demographics. The personal quantity of perceived threats in any competitive survival situation is probably based four factors: Hollywood, expendable income, ego, and the desire to remain sane. Hollywood is the generic term for fictional accounts of a disaster played out for entertainment. For many, the fiction is limited to the catastrophic event, but the reaction of the populace or the hero is often filed away by the consumer as a reasonable strategy should such an event ever unfold.

The expendable income aspect is that one cannot have it all so one must temper the universe to fit within whatever the pocketbook can afford. While there is positive correlation between gear and survival, it seems there is no lower threshold as to what constitutes “gear.”

Further Reading: Survival Psychology 

Ego is a survival strategy. Not just that you can survive something, but that you deserve to survive. However, ego has been known to get some folks killed as well. Ego can lead you to do things like not asking for help, getting in over your head to avoid admitting you don’t know what you’re doing, or even thinking you have absolute Constitutional rights in the face of professional authorities.

And finally, one must navigate the turbid waters between imminent global catastrophe and a relaxing afternoon. Too much of either is unhealthy from a survival perspective, but one without the other rots your perspective.  Applying the four aspects to the 2016 election should shift the mainstream American out of park, and the survival/prepper into high gear. Unfortunately, some people, including politicians, now plan on shifting into reverse. I can see their slogan now…  “Make America Great Again Before It Was Great Again!”

The election results provide unvarnished insights into a portion of the fabric of society that rarely becomes measurable, but will certainly be fighting with you or next to you for scant resources when the overextended aspects of society collapse under their own weight. This is nothing short of Preparedness 2.0: an edgy remix with more cowbell. Just remember, a mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open but when it’s open you are a slower moving target that is easily visible from the ground.

Photos Courtesy of:

Doc Montana
Jennifer Nass
Ray Rivera
Dan Leach 
F. Sigorski

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Surviving Alone

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static_tv_survive_shtfWhat if SHTF?  You are the only one home at the time when it hits.  Your kids are grown and gone.  Your wife is gone at work.  It is dark outside.  You hear nothing; see nothing.  There are no cars on the streets. When you finally venture out of the house early the next day, you see nobody on your neighborhood street.  The following day you find no one on any streets in your entire neighborhood.  You retreat back home and lock down in earnest.  There are no cars on the streets.  Normally you can hear 18-wheelers on the interstate highway just two miles away. Now, nothing.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Since it hit the fan, the electricity has been off.  City water is still on, thank goodness.  The natural gas stove still works.  For now, that is. Cell phones are dead.  FM and emergency radio channels yield only a static buzz. The police scanner scans and picks up….nothing. What do you do now?

The New Routine

It is time to execute your Plan A, the Bug In Option. Now you fully secure the house and implement your PDWs (personal defense weapons).  Everything is locked and loaded. Various firearms are stationed near primary exterior doors with loaded mags or pouched ammo within reach.  Your CCW weapon of choice is on your waist and an AR is nearby at all times now. Time to focus.  You break out all your prepper emergency gear and supplies. You lay it all out in plain view. Water, food, candles, flashlights, meds, batteries, extra firearms, survival knife, ammo packs, first aid and all else. Everything is organized, grouped, and put within easy access.

ar_resizedYou hydrate, eat, bathe, and rest.  You watch out the windows, moving quietly and judiciously around the house.  At night it is mostly a total blackout, so as not to draw attention from outside.  If you want light to read, or study, or rest, you use an interior room with no windows like a bathroom, closet or laundry room.  All noise is kept to a whisper.  Later, you elect to slip out a back door, well-armed, to recon the yard, street, neighborhood, venturing as far as you dare.  After sundown, that night vision scope really comes in handy.  You stop often to listen, smell, peer, and move cautiously.

The next night you spot a dim flicker of a light in one house down the street. In another house a form of a shadow moves across a corner window. There are still no cars on the streets, no police, no national guard, no planes overhead, and no more highway noise off in the distance. You vow to knock on those two doors the next day, but you change your mind.

Related: Top 5 Worst Incidences of Martial Law in The United States 

Days later the FM radio blares on. The announcement is like a weather warning but not the same. It is recorded and orchestrated. The news is confusing without many details, but some kind of an explosion or more has occurred and this caused a massive grid shutdown. There was no clue given about how extensive it was or how it has affected your general area. It is frustrating.

You learn that this final announcement that came before the full extent of the SHTF event warned everyone to stay put wherever they were and not to venture out. You missed that report, but it explains a lot. You worry again where your wife is and if she is OK. You worry the same for your kids hundreds of miles away. There is no way to know their fate.

Status Observation and Investigation

This worry emboldens you to visit the two houses where you spotted signs of life. As far as you know, the air is not toxic. Birds are flying and squirrels are playing in the yard as usual.  For a moment you see a dog run across the end of the street. Still no people or cars.

Now you wish you had at least met your neighbors down the street, but at least you have the neighborhood directory and look up the names of the residents in those two homes before you knock. You think, at the very least, it is best to be able to call them by name.

In the daylight no evidence of residence can be seen. There is no answer at the first house and no sounds come forth. At the second try a meek, scared voice asks your name. You speak your name and they recognize you as an administrator from the local college. That gives you some credibility, but the guns you carry are a bit discomforting to them.

bug_in_bag_shtf_woodsYou assure them you are no threat, because you are not. They know your wife, so they open the door just enough to peek. It is a relief and a welcome comfort to see another human face. The family inside is from Japan, here now as the husband is an engineer with the nearby automotive manufacturing plant. You are invited in. They exhibit signs of fear and caution, which is expected given the circumstances.

Their supplies are meager as the event has caught them completely by surprise.  With two smaller kids, they have a lot to manage.  They never ask for anything from you.  They have city water, too, with filled vessels in plain view as well.  You note a pan of rice on the stove.  They have one flashlight, but the batteries are dead. You promise to bring them more and some candles.  They are receptive of your visit. They become trusting and kind. You reciprocate.

Read Also: Bug In Contingencies

The man of the house speaks English quite well.  He was coming home when he heard the radio announcement.  He locked up the house and hunkered down.  The guy is smart and displays common sense.  They have no firearms, but you note a golf club at the front and back doors.  Work with what you have,’ you think. You ask about the other house across the street. They have nothing to report.  Their only radio is in the car which they listen to daily.  You assure them of your support and offer to visit them again the next day with some supplies.

On the walk back home, you round the corner and coming down the street is a military vehicle with some personnel walking alongside.  They spot you, armed.  They display their weapons as the vehicle comes to a halt. For moments you stand there staring each other down.  What do you do now?  Fiction or reality to be?

Photos Courtesy of:
Dr. John J Woods
Alex Watson 

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Exos Bravo Tactical Military Assault Backpack

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Bravo Tactical Military Assault Backpack for free from Exos, in consideration for a gear review. The Exos Bravo Tactical Military Assault Backpack About 6 months ago I got my hands on a new little assault pack that I’ve been using a lot. It’s the Exos Bravo Tactical Military Assault Backpack. I […]

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7 Stupid Things People Do In Survival & Doomsday Shows

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Over the past few years, the number of survival-related TV Shows has grown by leaps and bounds. On the one hand, you have the survivalist shows like Alone, Dual Survival, and Doomsday Preppers. And on the other hand, you have doomsday shows like The Strain, Falling Skies, and of course, The Walking Dead. Perhaps it’s […]

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Let’s Have Victories Again

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A coalition of mutinous Republicans have emerged from their elitist holes to join Democrats in a whining Trump for Presidentchorus of: “Never Trump!”. Quite frankly, I’d like to know where these Republicans have been during eight years of a disastrous Obama Administration. Where was the contrived moral outrage during Attorney General Eric Holder’s botched mishandling of the Fast and Furious scandal? When Obama insisted on a wasteful, poorly managed stimulus package, where was Senator Lindsey Graham? I’ll tell you where they were: quietly sniveling in the shadows of Capitol Hill. Suddenly, when GOP Leaders face a historically flawed opposition, Republican leaders speak up in order to sabotage their own candidate.  John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and Lindsey Graham have all co-opted a mendacious, liberal narrative because their god is cowardice.

By D-Ray a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

CNN Would Hate Reagan

These false conservatives insist on referencing Ronald Reagan. “How did Reagan’s party end up in the hands of Trump,” they wail. Here’s a newsflash: if Reagan ran in 2016, CNN would characterize him as an unhinged racist and misogynist. The only reason the media is having this infantile fit over Trump is because they are scared. For the first time since Reagan, a conservative with a spine has made a bid for the Presidency. Trump possesses the audacity to do what McCain and Romney never could: challenge the left’s cancerous, politically correct culture. Trump and a resurgent GOP threaten the fragile existence of a deeply flawed, social marxist narrative.trump_thumbs_up_low_res

As a millennial, let me tell you what my generation thinks of Republicans. We think they’re losers. For my entire life, Republican incumbents have acquiesced to the hyper-left agenda of the Democratic Party. They have allowed Democrats to push this country towards the precipice of socialism. American constituents, not just conservative millennials, are sick and tired of leaders paralyzed by fear. Our leaders would rather avoid controversy than stand up for the interests of their constituents. This is disgusting and wrong.

See Also: A Toxic Brand & Trump’s Most Heinous Sin

If Donald Trump doesn’t win in 2016, it is proof that the GOP’s soul has been sold to the timid and stupid. Reagan would have difficulty weathering the libelous reporting Trump has endured. For those who believe Trump is a racist, where is the evidence? The media’s arguments against Trump are more dishonest than Bill Clinton perjuring himself under oath. Americans are erroneously conflating conservative confidence with immorality because we’re not used to this. We’re not used to rallying behind a winner. When we’ve got Paul Ryan as the Speaker of the House, how could we be familiar with a winner? We haven’t had a winner since Reagan left office in 1989.

Vote To Win

If you don’t vote for Trump this election, you are giving this country over to Crooked Hillary and a league of spineless, Republican worms. The Supreme Court will assume a leftist majority, unvetted refugees will come to this country by the millions, our foreign policy will be compromised, second amendment rights will be curtailed, and the middle-class will grow weaker. But hey, if Trump loses, at least Paul Ryan will be able to smirk on MSNBC and pat himself on the back for his self-destructive, puritanical stand. More importantly, Ryan’s donors, the same lecherous lot that fund Hillary Clinton, will be ecstatic. Ecstatic because they convinced Republican voters to turn their backs on a great candidate and surrender this country to the loathsome hands of globalism and political correctness.fullsizerender_1

Related: Election Thoughts From a Survivalist

Trump’s message resonates with so many because he’s right. We don’t have victories anymore. I do not and will not accept this status quo of decline. The United States has never shied away from adversity. Paul Ryan, Hillary Clinton, and their contemptible ilk are gross deviations from a rich history of perseverance, bravery, and success. Let me be totally clear, they are failures. With Trump in the White House, the United States will win again. Paul Ryan can make flawed decisions premised on a perverted conscience; I will vote to win.

About D-Ray:
D-Ray is a recent graduate of CU Boulder and currently enrolled in a law school on the East Coast. By day, he is a mild mannered content writer; by night, he banishes unruly drunks into the black purgatory of night as a bouncer. He is passionate about the Constitution and First Amendment Rights. 

Disclaimer: These opinions are not necessarily representative of SHTFBlog or its affiliates.

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Donald J. Trump For President

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Vehicles Used As Defensive Barriers

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Remember back in 1935 when the .357 Magnum round was introduced? It was selected for use by defensive_vehicle_prep_urban_survivalmany law enforcement agencies across the country.  The new magnum was highly touted as being able to shoot through the block of a car and stop the engine dead.  Well, I’m not sure if that is true.  A vehicle’s engine and compartment makes for a pretty formidable bullet stopper.   That’s a good thing when using a vehicle in a defensive position.  We more or less expect (or hope) that our car, truck, or SUV will shield us somewhat during SHTF escapes, bug outs, or other defensive maneuvers.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Is the composition of a vehicle enough to protect you from incoming bullets? Some recent field trials bring new light to this question.  The results are both good and bad.

A Thin Veil 

First, understand that the exterior skins of nearly all conventional vehicles will not stop bullets from most handguns.  The field trial did not test rifles, but it did test 12-gauge shotgun buckshot and slugs.  Other reports suggest some rifle calibers such as the 5.56/223 fair no better, but the .308 does have some penetration success.

Interior Construction

The good news is that inside the doors and panels of a vehicle are a conglomeration of parts, defensive_door_survivalwindow winding mechanisms, radio speaker magnets, crash beams, wiring, and other fixtures.  These components seem to deter, slow down, or stop bullets quite well.

The field trial I studied used traditional bullets and loads in the .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 12 gauge.  None of the pistol bullets had much success in fully penetrating a vehicle if the bullets struck an auto component.  The exception to this is with certain types of .45 ACP bullets.  Full metal jacketed bullets in the .45 produced some level of success in busting through a vehicle door.

Related: Best Handgun Calibers For Survival

If these bullets ferreted past one of these structural fixtures or parts, then the occupant could be struck, albeit to a lesser damaging threat.  Engine compartments including the radiator, water pump, and manifolds resisted penetration.  Wheel wells provide a good defensive position, although exterior coverage is far from complete.  It is difficult for an adult to huddle behind a car wheel and tire without being somewhat exposed.

I was recently instructed that the door beams between the front and rear doors offer a fair deflective structure for most handgun bullets.  In fact, the reason low-riding thugs are crunched down in their seats with their heads positioned behind this middle door jamb component is to avoid bullet penetration to the head.  Considering this part of the vehicle can stop incoming rounds, this strategy makes sense.

The Shotgun Conundrum 

Likewise, the shotgun buckshot did not perform as well as one might believe.  I think most of us rely upon a good 00 buckshot load to sail through just about anything.  Maybe we have been watching too many movies.  The buckshot pellets passed through car skins, but were then caught up by crash struts, electric window motors, door locks and other mechanisms.

The 12 gauge slug was extremely effective.  These loads punched right through both theinside_vehicle_protection_urban_survival exterior and interior panels of the test car, entered the ballistic gelatin and passed completely through the entire mold.  Bad news bears for those inside a vehicle.

Read More: Tru-Bore 12 Gauge Chamber Adapter

The shotgun slug should prove a highly viable choice, if you have to be shooting at an individual inside a vehicle.  While this strategy may be effective, keep in mind the skill it takes to properly shoot a slug load from a shotgun.  It would be wise to consider using shotgun slugs in a self-defense scenario.

Keep in mind that the recoil and muzzle blast can be abusive.  Decide if you need to go to a full 3-inch shotshell slug or if the standard 2 ¾ -inch can do the job.  The field report I studied did not specify this.

Auto Glass Resistance

Now let’s get some clarity on glass.  Today’s automotive glass is far superior to auto glass of the past.  Contemporary windshields, side windows, and rear glass are more durable and crash resistant. Moreover, modern auto glass produces cleaner fractures. This is a plus for armed interactions and for passenger protection.

Current auto glass is much more likely to deflect pistol bullets shot from various angles due to the composition of the materials and the rake of auto glass panels.  The “rake” of a windshield is the angle at which it rests inside the car frame.  For example, a sporty car or pickup truck has a windshield with a sharper rake.  By contrast, some Jeep models have front glass that stands square to the frame.

A severe auto glass rake helps deflect bullets and may prevent penetration inside the vehicle cabin. front_glass_vehicle_survival_urbanOf course, this is often contingent on the angle of the shot.  In the field trials report, most of the pistol bullets did not completely penetrate the plate glass panel.  The glass may have cracked and fragmented, but the bullets did not pass through.

So, while modern auto glass cannot be relied upon to provide complete passenger protection, it certainly affords a better barrier than older auto glass.  When engaging an adversary, putting several layers of glass between yourself and incoming bullets offers extra protection.

In practice this might mean hiding at the rear quarter panel of the vehicle thus putting the rear glass, side glass, and a windshield between yourself and an assailant shooting from a position in front of the vehicle.

Also Read: Urban Survival Food Strategy

So, there you go.  A vehicle is a reasonable barrier against oncoming gun fire unless the attacker happens to be using shotgun slugs.  If a pistol bullet dodges mechanisms inside a door, the passenger could certainly be wounded.  The same would occur if the bullet’s pathway hit glass just right.  However, I would rather have the structure of a vehicle in my favor than be standing out in the open.

Photos By:
John J. Woods

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7 Things To Expect After The SHTF

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In the survival community, the term “SHTF” (shit hit the fan) get’s thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? The truth is, there is no single meaning. It just depends on how you want to use the term. If world war 3 has started, the shit has hit the fan. But if […]

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SHTF Armorer: Magazine Maintenance – Part 1

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Best Survival Gun

The AR-15.  AK-47.  M1A.  Glock 17.  SIG Sauer P226.  Colt 1911.  S&W M&P.  CZ-75.  Beretta 92.  Ruger 10/22. The Best Survival Gun H&K MP5.  Walther P22.  All of these firearms each have an army of diehard pundits in the firearms world.  You probably have at least one of them incorporated in your SHTF plans.  It’s possible your very life and chances of survival will depend on one of these some day.  However, they all have a common weakness, a vulnerability that can reduce these fine pieces of weaponry to single-shot, barely useful clubs: the detachable magazine.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
This post is Part I of a series.

Modern Flaws

Even though modern magazine designs, construction methods, and materials are top-notch, they can still fail.  Neglect, slightly bent or damaged feed lips, worn magazine springs, sloppy followers, and/or just plain, simple dirt will positively destroy the functioning of an otherwise flawlessly-working gun…and these problems can be virtually undetectable if you don’t know what to look for.  Therefore, magazine maintenance should be of the utmost priority – just as important as the cleanliness of the firearm – for anyone who plans on relying on an autoloading firearm when the chips are down.

Related: PMAG Torture Test

However, firearms with detachable magazines aren’t the only problem guns – your grandfather’s trusty old Winchester 1894 .30-30 lever action could have magazine problems.  So could the Remington 870 you leave with a loaded magazine in the closet in case of emergency.  If your gun is a magazine-fed repeater – detachable or fixed – that feeding system needs to be taken care of. It’s your gun’s lifeblood…and by extension, that means it could be your lifeblood as well. Magazine maintenance is probably the most purposely neglected (“I’ll get it later…”) and/or forgotten aspect of gun cleaning, but it could be considered one of the most important. (We’ll address fixed magazine guns in a future article.)

The Detachable Magazine

The detachable magazine comes in a myriad shapes, sizes, lengths, capacities, colors, and methods of Best AR15 Magconstruction.  However, the vast majority of “box” magazine designs have similar components: the magazine body, the magazine follower, the locking plate, and the baseplate.  Rotary type magazines (such as the Ruger 10/22’s nifty little cartridge feeder) are a bit of a different animal, but the principles are the same – they just keep the cartridges in a circular holding pattern inside the magazine, instead of in a straight vertical stack.  Generally, magazines are very simple in design, and really, with just a bit of semi-regular maintenance and cleaning, they will be virtually trouble-free.  Most of the parts don’t require replacing or fixing; the only component that may need to be replaced is the magazine spring if the magazine hasn’t seen any damage.

Concerning the spring: you’ve probably heard/read the age-old debate: does leaving magazines loaded for an extended period of time weaken the springs?  The general consensus from magazine manufacturers seems to be that leaving them loaded, even over years, does not induce spring failure.  Far and away, the most common cause of spring failure is the fatigue caused by constant loading and unloading.  Nobody can put a finger on an exact number of rounds that it takes to make a magazine spring fail, so a good way to keep an eye on things is to get a paint marker or silver Sharpie and number your magazines.

Also Read: SHTF Armorer AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

Try to keep a general round count of the number of rounds that have been put through them if possible.  When one of your magazines starts to fail or cause firearm malfunctions, (this usually takes thousands of rounds) check the magazine’s round count and use that as a guideline for the other magazines of the same make and capacity.  Replace the magazine spring accordingly, at appropriate intervals.  Some of us may never run enough rounds through a gun to have to worry about this issue…but it’s always good to have an extra magazine spring or, even better, extra magazine(s) kicking around, just in case.

Another issue: If you drop your magazine on the feed lips and bend them, you have a problem.  Most magazines I’ve run have never had a spring failure, but have suffered damage from being dropped onto the feed lips.  If you have a polymer magazine like a Magpul PMAG, chances are pretty good you’re still in business.  However, steel magazine bodies that have damaged feed lips are probably not worth keeping.

Related: Survival Armorer Basic Kit

You can try to bend them back to factory spec, but the metal has been fatigued, and now has an excellent starting fracture point for future breaking or malforming.  If you’re not in a dire SHTF situation, pull the magazine apart, keep the baseplate, spring, and follower, and junk the magazine body. It’s not worth the headache and possible failure to try making the old magazine work.  A new magazine is a few bucks – a failure in a survival situation could mean death.  Don’t hedge your bets if you don’t have to.

The Body

The same goes for the magazine body: if you accidentally step on a steel/aluminum magazine, check the sides of Survival Rifle Magazinesthe magazine for dents or damage, and try to run some rounds through it.  A pinched magazine body might not have clearance to allow rounds to be loaded, or to be fed.  This has happened to me before with metal bodied GI-issued AR magazines…all the more reason to look into polymer magazines like the excellent Magpul PMAG.

Also Read: Boston Shooting Bible Review

An excellent basic test, especially for AR magazines, is to load the magazine up to capacity, and then turn it upside down and briskly smack the baseplate at the bottom of the magazine.  If rounds fall out, chances are excellent that your feed lips are out of spec or your magazine spring does not have sufficient strength to keep enough tension on the rounds to feed the gun reliably.

Related: Review of Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum

You will find some older or smaller gun designs have steel bodied magazines with welded or silver-soldered fixed baseplates.  For these, there’s not much you can do but baby the magazines you have and keep spares.  They’re probably from an older design, so for the purposes of a SHTF gun, I might consider going a different route with a modern firearm platform design that utilizes magazines that can be disassembled for cleaning and parts replacement.

Likewise with many older .22 rifles with tubular magazines under the barrel or in the buttstock. The magazine spring and follower are encapsulated in a (usually) brass tube that slides down into the magazine body, over the cartridges.  This is a well-used, much-loved and reliable system, but if that follower tube gets dented or bent, you’re out of business.  Maintenance on the follower tubes is also difficult, and replacement parts are getting harder to find.  It might be worth looking into a more modern design like a M&P-15/22 or Ruger 10/22 for a SHTF gun.

Stay Tuned For Part II

All Photos By Drew

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U.S. States Most And Least Likely To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

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Here’s something fun for a change. The writers over at estately.com made a chart that lists every U.S. state in order from most to least likely to survive a zombie apocalypse. They used 11 metrics to figure this out: Active Military Personnel Military Veterans Physically Active Martial Arts Enthusiasts People with Survival Skills People with […]

The post U.S. States Most And Least Likely To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Free or American?

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Happy Independence Day and Long Weekend! (for the Americans in the house anyway) One year ago, I was visiting my parents down in the red rock country of southern Utah. We were getting ready to go to their small town parade, and then a BBQ at the firehouse. Pretty American right?  Just before we took off […]

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How to Communicate When The World Goes Silent

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Alternative methods of communication are easily overlooked since we rarely use them in our day-to-day lives. Cell phone networks have gotten so reliable that most people feel like their smartphone is all they’ll ever need. But if a widespread disaster strikes, cell phone towers could be jammed or stop working altogether. If you still don’t […]

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How To Grow Paw Paw Trees In The West [New Video]

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What the heck is a Paw Paw? While some of you may be familiar, there are likely many of you that have never heard of one before. Well…. I’ve never actually eaten one myself, but from everything I’ve read and heard, they taste like a cross between and banana and a mango, with select properties of […]

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Best of PrepperCon 2016

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Last week I went to PrepperCon here in Utah. Even before I pulled into the parking lot, I knew exactly what it was going to be like–tactical tough guys, multi-level marketing essential oils salesmen, fear-mongering, apocalypse talk, and over-confident but under-informed business owners throwing facts around. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, there was actually a […]

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20 Worst Things About Life After The SHTF

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If you’ve ever told anybody about the things you’re doing to survive after the SHTF, you’ve probably been asked why. “Why would you want to survive the end of the world?” There are plenty of reasons. The human instinct to survive, for one. The folks who say they’d […]

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8 Diseases To Beware Of After The SHTF

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After the SHTF, there are going to be many challenges. Our generation has been rather spoiled with easy access to clean water and modern medicines that help fight infections. After a major disaster, clean water will be extremely limited, sanitation systems will be down, and waste disposal companies […]

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15 Survival Skills You’ll Need After The SHTF

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It’s not enough to have lots of supplies after the SHTF. Sure, they might get you through a temporary disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, but what if someone gets hurt? All the medical supplies in the world won’t help if you don’t know how to use them. […]

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42 Wild Flowers You Can Eat

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If you have a large supply of survival food, you probably won’t have to resort to eating flowers for nourishment. So what’s the point of this article? The point is the big “if” at the beginning of this paragraph. There could come a time when you have to […]

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True Stand Alone Off the Grid Energy Sources Compared

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Depending the definition used for “off the grid”, certain power sources may not live up to its name of being truly off the grid.  This post will sort out which power sources may not be fully off the grid due to certain degrees of reliance on any aspect of a larger infrastructural network , as well as identify power sources that are genuinely stand alone, and self sustaining in the long term.


Most of us have a basic understanding of how the grid works.  Basically, energy is generated at power plants, then heads to substations before being split up by smaller, lower voltage, local distribution systems that connect to homes and businesses.

It goes without saying in the prepper community that the main disadvantage of the grid is a vulnerability to fail without notice due to a plethora of reasons.  The potential threats include weather (being by far the most common), cyber attack, terrorist attack, failure from wear, commodity prices, political and economic stability, and yes, even squirrels.  The US power grid is aging and becoming more expensive to maintain and upgrade.  From the user end, those threats translate into potentially deadly scenarios, especially if a potential outage is occurs becomes prolonged and hits a large population or city center.


It’s not surprising then, that more people worldwide, (over 1.7 billion and growing) are opting to trade in the grid for alternative power sources.  The problem is, that if the strict definition of “off the grid” is applied, many power sources may be mistaken for being off the grid, when technically they are not.  If survival is at stake, it’s important to make a clear distinction between stand alone power sources and those that rely on grid infrastructure.

power plant stacks

The below list of power sources does not make the grade for being truly stand alone off grid, because they rely on a large scale infrastructure support network in order to be reliably delivered to the consumer.  As you will see, each of these sources rely heavily on energy, transpiration (roads, bridges),  and communications infrastructure network.

Natural Gas  is used in nearly 70 million homes and businesses in the US to for heating, cooking, and generating electricity and for a wide range of industrial uses.  The process for extracting, processing, and transporting natural gas is quite complex and relies on elaborate network thousands of miles of turbine compressed pipeline to be delivered to homes.   While natural gas can be stored in tanks around your home or business and used during short term supply outages, it would eventually run out if any point along it’s complicated infrastructure network were compromised and brought down by natural disaster, attack, etc.

Propane is produced from natural gas processing and petroleum refining as a byproduct, and is stored in massive salt caverns in Canada, Texas, and Kansas.  Delivery is handled via pipeline, truck, ship barge and railway.  It’s commonly used for heating and cooking due to its low boiling point which makes it easy to store and use without a vaporizing device or carburetor.   It works great as a backup for generating electricity in remote areas because it transports easier than natural gas without pipeline, and is a popular home heating fuel.  Because it relies on natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it’s production and distribution networks are equally complex and susceptible to potential supply interruptions for any given reason.  Not an ideal SHTF power source in the long run since it’s bound to run out on site.

propane tank

, also known as lamp oil, is easier to produce and store than natural gas and is commonly used for lighting, heating, and cooking when electricity is not available or desired.  Kerosene relies on the same complex production network used for crude oil, using “fractional distillation”.   Crude oil must be extracted then distilled, then it needs to be purified using a series of chemical kerosene lamp
reactors, then further purified to remove secondary contaminants.  Like natural gas, if any point in this chain where to fail kerosene delivery would halt.  If you’re relying on kerosene as your off the grid SHTF solution to energy, head caution, because your tanked stores would become depleted in the case of infrastructure failure.

Gasoline is a common fuel for back up electricity generators around homes, businesses, and  in “off grid” locations, and is used in 255.8 million passenger vehicles in the US.  Again, gasoline production may not be tied directly to the electric grid, but it has a production and distribution infrastructure grid that is arguably as complex.
Like natural gas, kerosene, and propane, gasoline relies on crude oil or petroleum refinement.  This expensive process requires exploration, drilling, recovery even before it’s refined.  The main distinction between gasoline and the previously mentioned fuels is the voracious demand for it, which add additional supply risk during shortages.  There will be more people will want it, so there would be less to go around during a supply interruption.

pile of coal

Coal production is simpler than the four previous types of fuel production, but it also runs into its own version of complexity.  While coal is easier to extract and process than other fossil fuels due to it being closer to the surface and needing less refining before it’s delivered to market, it relies on mining and transportation methods that require gasoline or diesel.  Heavy excavators are used to mine coal, and 60 percent of coal is moved through the US by rail. The remaining portions are transported by waterways on barges, and trucks.


Complexity and Inter-connectedness

Each of these four fuel sources have two main traits making them less than ideal for standalone, off the grid use: complexity and interconnectedness.   The processes required to deliver these fuels to the end user require immense amounts of specialized skill, capital, mechanical and chemical processes, and coordination to all work in harmony and with the timing of a symphony.  If any point in the process, (and there are a lot of points) ,where crude oil production were impeded, gasoline, propane, and natural gas production could also be interrupted.

Stand alone power sources are those that do not rely on constant supply inputs from large, grid-dependent infrastructure networks such as those described above.  Sure, substantial material and skill inputs may be required initially for design, parts manufacturing, assembly, installation and training of users to implement, operate and maintain them, but once they are set up and running, they can sustainably generate power without major material and skill inputs for the long term, as we will see.


Micro hydropower is a lesser known method to generate small scale off grid energy.  Advantages of micro hydropower is it’s level of efficiency and reliability.  It has the potential to deliver micro-hydropowerconstant energy day and night and it requires as little as two gallons per minute of water flowing up to a mile away from the user.  It’s also more cost effective than other stand along technologies, costing between $1,000 and $20,000. The main drawback of micro hydropower is it relies on a source of water running from high to low ground, such as a river or a stream, to generate electricity.

It works by diverting water to a water conveyance, such as a pressurized pipeline or channel where the water is forced through a turbine.  The turbine spins a shaft that turns a generator or alternator to generate electricity.  Or, the shaft can be connected to a mechanical process such as to pumping water, for example.

Solar has become widely known as a reliable and increasingly cost effective method to generate off grid power.  Cost per kilowatt has dropped by roughly 100% since 2008, and is forecasted to continue dropping.   With no moving parts it’s also cheap to maintain.  Basically, photovoltaic cells generate electricity from sunlight by stripping electrons from atoms in the titanium dioxide (TiO2) layer, using light particles, or photons from the sun.  Solar panels create an electric field from alternating positive and negative layers of cells that feed these particles through metal conductive plates that transfer the electrons to wires.

The major drawback of solar is its dependence on weather and may be limited to variations in sunlight exposure from region to region.  Solar cannot generate power at night either.  Solar energy can be stored, but a few days of no sun will impact it’s performance.

solar panel

While solar panels do age and eventually need to be replaced, their lifespan can reach 20 to 25 years before needing to be replaced.  While this could qualify solar as less than stand alone, 25 years buys a lot of time to source and implement a different  energy strategy, if the option of replacing the panels is not viable.  Plus, by the end of a solar panel’s lifespan, energy continues to be generated at 20% of its original output which is still useful in emergency situations.

wind turbinesWind energy is growing at a similar pace, with the costs decreasing nearly as rapidly as solar.  While wind generators have moving parts, the complexity is relatively low.  Blades mounted on a tower catches the wind that turns a generator to create electricity.  However, wind generators require scheduled routine maintenance to keep the blades turning.

Gearboxes and bearings wear out and require rebuilds, bolts need to be tightened, and the moving parts lubricated.   With the stresses of varying wind gusts and storms, the gearbox is the Achilles heel of the wind turbine.   With maintenance, the lifespan of wind generators is still about 20 years, leaving plenty of time to switch energy sources if your wind source goes down during a SHTF period.  Additionally, while wind generators require specialized skill to maintain, the likelihood of sourcing that skill is far greater than the pool of skill and resources required to manufacture a new solar panel or refine petroleum for fossil fuels during dire circumstances.

Geothermal  energy is often overlooked as a standalone energy source for heating and cooling a structure.  It works in almost any location by transferring  temperatures that remain at a consistent  50 to 60 degrees from below the fist 10 feet under the earth’s surface, into homes or businesses.   It does this by using a thermal heat exchange that loops underground to “catch” and transfer the temperatures using a  liquid mixed with antifreeze that is pumped through the system.   The energy is delivered into the structure using a pump to remove it from the heat exchange system and into a network of ducts to blow air into rooms.   Often times a geothermal system is not powerful enough to cover all heating or cooling needs, but it can significantly reduce costs.


There is over 50,0000 times more energy at earth’s surface than all natural gas and oil resources in the world combined, and it’s thought the earth will not be cooling down for millennia!   It certainly makes sense to utilize this energy source, and consider using other stand along energy sources, such as wind, solar, etc, as supplemental to geothermal.

Maintenance of geothermal systems could potentially be contracted out to easily accessible skillets, such as a local HVAC company, or anyone with knowledge of pumps, air ducts and piping.   Maintenance is less even less than air conditioners, and  furnaces.   If you’re serious about stand alone off grid energy, due to is low maintenance requirements and long term reliability, geothermal should seriously be considered as main component in a hybrid system coupled with solar, wind, hydropower, or as we will see next, wood.

Wood burning may seem primitive and minute compared to other energy sources, but it is no doubt, stand alone and reliable.  Any able bodied person can cut wood to use to cook and generate heat . All that’s needed is a way to start a fire.  While on a mass scale over time it harvesting wood for energy would not be sustainable, nearly 30 percent of earths’ surface is covered by trees, so they are readily available for any short-term SHTF scenario.  Wood burning could at least buy more time to develop another energy strategy.  Wood could also be used in barter transactions if necessary.


Please leave your comments below and let me know if I missed mentioning other stand alone energy sources, or energy sources that are less stand alone.  I hope you enjoyed reading this and got something out of it.

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11 Stupid Things That Every Prepper Hears

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One unfortunate thing about being a prepper is all the negative stereotypes. Thanks to Hollywood and reality shows like Doomsday Preppers, the average joe thinks of preppers as paranoid kooks who spend most of their time hiding in bunkers. It’s a shame because everyone–and I mean everyone–ought to […]

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Complete List of SHTF Prepper Lingo (Terms, Abbreviations, Acronyms)

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shtf-prepper-lingo-termsEspecially for newbie but also veteran preppers alike, the multitude of the jargon used in the prepper community can be confusing.

For your easy reference, (and my own), I decided to create what I’m proud to say should be one of the most comprehensive lists of the most commonly used terms, abbreviations, and acronyms used in the SHTF prepper community.

If you think any terms are missing that should be added, please comment on this post and I will add them.

72-hour kit
This is a kit that contains useful materials that would enable you survive an emergency situation for 72 hours, that is, 3 days. From this definition, we understand that ’72-hour kit’ is a vague and relative concept and could really include anything depending on the situation.

ALICE pack

ALICE is an acronym for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment and is a pack system invented by the military to create efficient carrying of items so that carrying materials is only convenient but you are enabled to effectively carry everything you could possibly need on the go.

medium alice packAR-15 Cleaning
The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 or M-4.’ AR’ in this context does not stand for “automatic rifle” or  “assault rifle” contrary to popular conception; It stands for “Armalite rifle”, which is the name of the first company that started manufacturing it in 50s. Today, AR-15 is common rifle, even used in sporting events.

Bugging Out
This means to move away from a current position and move to safer location. It is a military term which directly means to retreat, or more specifically, to flee in panic.

Bugging in
Bugging in means to stay at a specific current location until it is safer to move out. Although, it depends on the kind of SHTF situation, when in crises, bugging in, alongside bugging out, is among the first actions preppers consider.

BOB is acronym for Bug out Bag. Bug out bag refers to a bag which could be a backpack or a duffle bag or whatever style as it is not the bag itself that is important in this context but its content. It mainly consists of emergency materials that you can use to survive during or after a disaster. If it comes with a time frame of 3 days, then it is referred to as a 72-hour kit, however, B.O.B tends to contain materials that can keep you going indefinitely. These materials includes a first aid kit, ammos, cash, water, water filter, sleeping bags, emergency medicine, clothing, means of identification, the lists goes on. Also, BOB tends to be a relative concept and could involve different things for different people.

B.O.L is acronym that means Bug out Location. This includes a place other than a home in which the survivalist can retreat in terms of danger or crises. These retreats are supposed to be very dependent and sufficient so that you are not stranded while you secure yourself from danger. Normally, it is located in rural areas with scanty population as BOL involves having a safe place to retreat to hide from the dangers that is certain to plague urban areas.

B.O.V stands for Bugged out Vehicle. It is a car that the prepper has that is already packed and ready in case of emergency evacuations. Technically, B.O.V is the wheeled variation of the BOB with larger space to pack in more emergency materials like food and supplies. SUV’s are mostly preferred for this task as they have great road abilities.

Carrington Event
In 1959, there was a geomagnetic storm that hit earth’s magnetosphere. Numerous sun spot were first noticed in August 28 to September 2, 1959 and Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson, who were amateur astronomers then, noticed the first solar flare. It was one of the largest geomagnetic storms to hit earth as Aurorae, that is colored polar lights, which is a result of solar wind disturbing the earth’s magnetosphere, was seen everywhere, making night become as bright as day.

It was referred to as Carrington Event and Preppers use this term to refer, generally, to solar storm events. Although, little effect was recorded at the time of the event, however, subsequent geomagnetic storms have revealed that this disturbance on our magnetosphere can cause huge impact on our civilizations, especially in the aspect of terrestrial communications, telecommunications to be precise. Also there would be drastic effects as these disturbances would also affect electricity, capable of sending an entire area into darkness for several hours.

C.M.E stands for Coronal Mass Ejection. It is one of the harbingers of Carrington events, including flares and aurorae. C.M.E is observed by coronagraph and is a huge surge of magnetic energy generated from the corona of the sun and is being released into the solar wind.

E.M.P which stands for Electromagnetic Pulse can be a natural or artificial occurrence. It usually occurs in a radiated, electric or magnetic field and is usually hazardous to electronic equipment and other infrastructure depending on the magnitude of the energy.

edc pack contents 1E.D.C
This is automatically translated to “Everyday carry”. It refers to the things a person carries on them on an everyday basis. E.D.C included items that you carry on you at all times, or very frequently. Depending on the individual, it might include anything from a fire arm to stuff as basic as a cell phone, or even a handkerchief.

Faraday Case
This refers to a metal casing that protects a person’s electronics from an E.M.P. It is formed from conductive materials and used to block electric fields.

This is an acronym that stands for First in; first out. It is a method used in food storage and food rotation and it involves serving out items that are first stored before serving out the recent ones.

This is slang for generator.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). This involves the use of genetic altering techniques to alter the genetic mutation of organism. This is done in organic food to improve certain qualities like size and taste.

Get out of Dodge (GOOD) is a term that refers to the process of getting out of a bad or/and dangerous situation.


This refers to High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse. It is an electromagnetic field that is caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at a high altitude which results in a gamma radiation that reacts with the atmosphere. It does not have an effect on human beings but it does damage on electronic equipment and computer circuits. Depending on the altitude and the power of the nuclear surge, HEMP can reach several miles as they travel swiftly through metallic conductors and cause more devastating effects that lightning.

Ham Radio
A term used to refer to amateur radio operators. It is a term used to refer to people who use the equipment provided by amateur radio station to create a two way communication with other people in other amateur radio stations on radio frequencies that is being assigned to the amateur radio service.

budget ham radio

This is an acronym that stands for Individual First aid Kit. They include medical supplies that help prevent preventable deaths or treat deep injuries. Examples of the contents of IFAK are: Personal Protective Equipment like hand sanitizers, nitrile gloves and cleansing wipes; Band aids; Sterile roll gauze; Water proof medical tape; glue, clotting agent; Cravats, etc.


This is an acronym that represents a short message code for your family and/or friends in case you have to Bug out. It means “I’m never coming Home’’.

inch bag essentials-2J.I.C
This is an Acronym for “Just in case”.

Junk Silver
This is a term used in referring to silver coins in circulation in the US around 1964 or earlier. The coins are 90% silver. It does not have any collectible or numistic value apart from the value of the silver contained in it.

M.A.G is an acronym for Mutual Aid Group which consists of people who meet to discuss ideas, plans and strategies on emergencies in that particular area.

Multi Tool
This is a tool that combines the functions of several other tools and is usually powered by batteries. The tool integrates the function of sawing, sanding, cutting, polishing, scraping, etc.

This is an acronym that stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat. It is a self-contained ratio n with lightweight packaging that is meant for the individual and is served when organized food is unavailable.

OPSEC, like M.R.E originates from the US military. It is the abbreviation for Operational Security. Its general idea is to keep whatever you are doing or any other vital information as far away as possible from the enemy. The basic purpose is to deprive the enemy of any helpful data.

Prep is a shortened version of the word “prepare”.

This is a term to describe an individual, who is always prepared. A survivalist.

Peak Oil
Peak Oil is term used to describe a period in which the peak of the extraction of oil is reached, and what follows is a steady decline, until there is no more oil to be consumed. It follows a basic path; an observed rise in the aggregate production rate of oil, and then there is the period where the rise gradually climbs to a peak period, and after that there is a gradual fall into depletion.

This is an acronym for Personal Emergency relocation kit. This is a variant of a BOB that is used for an emergency relocation, maybe a retreat from imminent danger. Although preppers usually carry about E.D.C which includes things needed in day to day activities, bugged out Bags (See BOB above), and Personal Survival Kit ( See PSK below), PERK is set of items that are needed for an emergency retreat.

This is an acronym that means Personal Survival Kit. It involves items needed to survive in harsh conditions. The kit consists of lists of signaling items which includes rescue reflectors, emergency whistles, Rescue laser flare, and emergency devices in which a pocket chainsaw, survival candle, fishing kits, sewing kits, amongst other things are all included. Basically, there are two types of P.S.K: Military or tactic P.S.K and Civilian P.S.K.

Although the two types of kits contain similar groups of items, the major differences between them is that while the civilian kits contain colors that aid visibility for rescue purposes, the military kit has more of dull colors that would enable preppers easily blend with the environment as they retreat from danger.

Sh*t Hits the Fan (SHTF) is a term that preppers use to describe events that are catastrophic. Examples of such events are natural disasters like earthquakes, terrorist attack and/or financial collapse.

TEOTWAWKI is a term mostly used online by survivalist. It means “The End of the World as we know it”. TEOTWAWKI is often synonymous with SHTF, with a few exception in some cases.

WROL is a term that is used to describe a situation in which the police and every institutional body that functions to uphold the law have lost control. The Police and other organizations in this category have lost all functions in this situation and there is a lawless environment. The term is an acronym for “Without Rule of law”. These situations mostly occur after intense catastrophic happenings.

This is a slang that is used to refer to people who are often not always prepared and are aggressive enough to want to take the resources of preppers when SHTF.

This is an acronym that means Sh*t out of luck. It is used to describe a helpless situation, and it is a variation of the phrase “out of luck”.

Golden hoard
This term is synonymous to Zombies and is used to describe a group of fleeing people who are unprepared and desperate so that they loot everything in their path in a WROL situation.

This is a person who is optimistic, even when there is trouble or when SHTF. The term is originated from a classic novel of 1913 in which main character, Pollyanna, is an optimist in the face of adversary.

Sheeple refers to people who always follow the crowd and are mostly unable to think for themselves.

MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment and it is a convenient system invented by the military for Bugging Out. It replaced the ALICE system.

This is an acronym that means End Of The World Buddy For Life.

4WD means a four wheel drive. This type of vehicle and the SUV are mostly used in BOV.

90% Silver
90% silver is a synonym for Junk Silver.

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9 Life Threatening Situations You Forgot To Prepare For

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When preparing for a disaster, preppers set aside all the basics: food, water, firearms, medical supplies, bug out bags, and so forth. They do this with the goal of being ready for almost every type of disaster and life threatening situation they can think of. But what about […]

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How to Start A Fire With Your EDC Knife And A Shoelace

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“If I was lost in the wilderness  I’d just take my shoelaces and make a bow drill and start a fire.”  I’ve heard people say it time and bobbowdrill14again and I roll my eyes every time I hear it.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard someone say it who could actually back it up with a fire.  Most folks have just watched a video or two and think it would be easy to make a bow drill and get a fire going if they got lost.  Easy to say when you’re sitting at your desk or standing around the water cooler with your hands in your pockets trying to impress your coworkers.  Much more difficult when you’re actually in the woods with just a pocket knife and your shoelaces on you to hopefully make a fire.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author at SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

After listening to a blowhard at work expound on how he’d do just that I decided to give it a go to see how hard it would be.  Here’s what I learned.

Basic Skills

First of all, I can start a fire with a bow drill.  Here’s a video from an earlier post:

bobbowdrill1I’ve done it a fair bit and understand the principles, but with something like this you really need to practice a lot in order to become proficient at it.  Check out how I do it in the video.  That fire was accomplished with a set made from dry cedar, which is fairly easy to get a coal from as long as you’ve done everything right.  I’d also like to clarify something else; for every coal I get I usually wind up making three or four attempts with the bow drill before I get it right.  I’ve practiced enough, but things happen.  Maybe the string is too loose, or too tight.  The notch might not be deep enough, the lubrication might not be right, or any number of things could be just a little off.

Related: Easy Tarp Shelter

It takes a lot of persistence and trial and error when conditions are good before you have a chance at doing them when condition are bad.  As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect!”

Raw Materialsbobbowdrill6

The first thing you need to do is find the right materials you’ll need for your drill set.  The tools I used were my Camillus folding knife and my bootlaces.  I was able to whittle the materials I needed from a standing dead tree I found sticking out of the ground.  Pretty much anything lying on the ground up here Maine is going to be useless given the dampness in the ground.  Ideally a small standing dead cedar or fir tree is a good source of materials you’ll need to build your bow drill kit with.

You need to make the following pieces:  spindle, fireboard, bow (which can be a small sapling), and then use your shoelace.  If you really want to try it the hard core way you can make your own cordage rather than using a shoelace.  The next thing you’ll need is a “bird’s nest” of tinder to start your fire.

Spindle and Fireboardbobbowdrill7

I found a small standing (leaning in this case) dead fir tree that suited my needs perfectly.  I broke it to a manageable size and trimmed it by hand as best I could.  The spindle needs to be as straight as possible, which is why a standing fir tree is perfect.  The very top of the tree is ideal for making a spindle as it’s usually very straight.  The piece right underneath it can be whittled into the fireboard.

After I found the right tree I harvested the parts I wanted and took it back to camp where I started working on it with my EDC knife.  First I shaped the spindle to where I could use it then I shaved down the fireboard to where it should work.  I made the bearing block out of a piece of oak and used a branch from the same oak to make the bow.  Then I pulled out my shoelace and attached it to my bow and I was ready to start.

Using the Setbobbowdrill2

Here’s something I noticed when working with this set.  The smaller the knife the more natural your set becomes.  For example, instead of making the bearing block a perfect hand-held size chunk of wood I broke it off as close as I could get it and called it good.  It wasn’t pretty, but it worked great.  You’ll be surprised at how close to it’s natural form you can leave some of this equipment and still have it work.

 I tied my bootlace to the bow and hoped it didn’t snap before I could form the coal.   If doing something like this is really a part of your survival strategy I’d highly suggest replacing your bootlaces with paracord.  It’s much tougher and more versatile than regular bootlaces.  Mine did work, but if I’d had to depend on them in a real survival situation I’d have been worried.

Also Read: Sphinx Compact 9mm

The first task is to “burn in” the set, which means to make guidelines on the bowdrill set and then use it so that all the pieces fit together properly.  After I got it burned in I cut the notches in the fireboard and got ready to do it for real.bobbowdrill4

As mentioned above it can sometimes take several tries before everything comes together and you get a fire.  In this case it took about six attempts before I got a good coal.  Like I said before, in order to get a coal you need to be persistent and don’t give up.


I feel that I answered the question posed at the beginning, “Is it possible to start a fire with your EDC and a shoelace?”  Yes, it is.  The caveat is that before you do it you need to have the skills already in place.  If you’ve never started a fire with a bowdrill before and think you can walk into the bush with a knife and get a fire going you are deluding yourself.  It takes a fair amount of skill and knowledge of the right kinds of wood, how to cut the notches, where to get lubrication, how much pressure to use, and a dozen other factors that need to line up before you’ll get it right.bobbowdrill9

The one thing I’m going to change is the knife I carry for an EDC.  While I don’t usually care for serrated edges, it would have made life a little easier when cutting my notches and cutting some of the smaller limbs off.  If not something with a serrated edge a good multi-tool will do the trick.  In my case I’ve stated carrying the Leatherman Skeletool because it’s small enough to fit in your pants pocket and comes with a pocket clip like many pocket knives today.

Starting a fire with what nature provides is a great feeling and a good skill to have, but if you’re seriously planning on going out in the wilderness take a small survival kit with a lighter and/or matches with a wax coating.  A small survival kit can make the difference between an unexpected night out camping when you get lost or injured compared to a survival trip where you might not live.

It was a fun experiment and I’ll do it again in the future using natural cordage next time.  That will add a new level of complexity bobbowdrill11to the mix.  If any of you woodsmen out there have done something similar I’d love to hear about it.

All Photos & Video by Jarhead Survivor

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!
Jarhead Survivor

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What Is Your Thin Red Line?

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Survival SHTF

“The closer you are to Caesar the greater the fear” is a famous line from the timeless movie “The Thin Red Line.”  The movie Doomsday Preppersdepicted the horrific battle for Guadalcanal in WWII against the Japanese Army.  The fighting conditions shown were beyond inhumane requiring the American soldiers to fight for hours or even days without basic supplies including water.  If you ever want to see on film what real war looks like then rent this movie. Listen closely especially to the narrations as these comments are philosophically overwhelming.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Translating to today’s world we all face the potential of our own thin red line though hopefully nothing like the one our soldiers encountered in Guadalcanal.  Our red lines can occur during SHTF events, personal threats to our safety, active shooter incidents, natural disasters of many kinds, industrial accidents, economic peril, investment declines, oppressive laws or regulations, job insecurities, and a myriad of other circumstances.

As the narrator in the movie asked, “What is this thin red line?  Who is doing this?  Who is killing us, robbing us of life and might?” In many cases there are situations or circumstances that we can control or manipulate to some level of survival. In other cases there are external factors that impact our lives over which we have little domain or sway.  How we react or prepare to react is paramount.  This is the essence of prepping and thus, survival.

Age Old Adages

How do you get better at golf or shooting that concealed weapon you bought last year, but still languishes in the nightstand drawer with the owner’s manual pages unturned?  You meant to rework that section of the garage installing shelving to provide much needed space to store prepping equipment.  But that was last summer.  That new reloading bench is still in the shipping carton. No, you never did put up the new tent in the backyard did you?

That adult education course flyer from the local community college came again.  You saw the programs offered for first aid classes, active shooter response, making homemade jerky, simple car mechanics, welding, beginner carpentry skills, homeowner electricity, and several more.  Where did I put that brochure? Is it too late to sign up I wonder?

Remember these? “Practice makes perfect, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, time is of the essence, an inch is as good as a mile, there is no time like the present, don’t get caught with your pants down?”  If you really are a prepper, then get with the program.

Organize, Prioritize, Initiate

You have to get started somewhere.  You sit and you ponder what to do, what to do, wringing your hands and constantly SHTF Blogdebating the same questions over and over.  But still you sit.  What will it take to get you off center? How much reality do you need to shock you into action?  What if the bank closes, what happens during a riot and the grocery store on the corner is burned down, what do I do if a truck load of despicable characters pulls up in my driveway, what if I lose my job tomorrow, hey, the power is out and there is no water?

None of these incident examples are that farfetched given the turmoil in today’s world.  You may have already experienced some of them.  What did you do?  How did you react?  Did you react?   Getting started is not all that complicated. Just push yourself off center and do something.  It is easy to sit in your comfy lounger chair with a notepad in your lap. Heck, you can still watch the game and write notes during the beer commercials.

Begin to craft a plan.  Write it down.  Fill in the blanks as you think of action items to accomplish your goals.  Such as?  Buy more water to store in the laundry room, get several cases of canned foods the whole family will eat, buy that first aid kit, pick up a couple bug out bags at that war surplus store, shop the pharmacy for OTC meds and other supplies.  Put some cash in a zip bag and hide it in a book on the shelf that you hollowed out.  Shop for that new pistol and maybe you should add a shotgun and/or an AR rifle.  How much ammo should I put back?  I need to call Bob and get out to the shooting range.

As the lists develop, number the items in terms of priority. You can’t do everything at once, or this week, but you can certainly begin to whittle the list down. Put the most important things first. Water and food are tops. Security is a high priority. Go from there.  Then don’t catch yourself lounging in that chair staring at the list and never doing anything about it. Get off your duff and do it. Baby steps first, then congratulate yourself for milestones achieved. Build your confidence as you build your skills.

With every step you take, you learn to better deal with those thin red lines. As you approach Caesar, your fear retreats, because you have prepared for it and learned how to deal with it. With cause and determination you have become a survivalist. All it takes is that first step. Take it now.

Photos By:
Dr. John J. Woods
The Thin Red Line

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Top 100 Best Survival Movies

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I don’t watch as many movies as I used to, but I still enjoy a good survival movie from time to time. They’re usually not very realistic, but I don’t care about that. I’m not trying to learn survival skills from movies, anyway. The main reason I enjoy […]

The post Top 100 Best Survival Movies appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

I Think I Got It!

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I Think I Got It! This is just a quick follow up from yesterday’s post regarding the security of the site. It seems that after pouring through the thousands of files that compose my website, I got the bugs out. Yeah! I take the security of your devices seriously so I am adamant about removing any … Continue reading I Think I Got It!

The post I Think I Got It! appeared first on The Prepared Ninja.

How and Why to Pick a Lock

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Most people don’t like to think about this, but during a disaster there are many moral gray areas. Obviously stealing is wrong, but what if you’re doing it to save someone’s life? For example, what if your child has an infection and desperately needs antibiotics, but the only […]

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200 Items You Can Barter After The Collapse

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Imagine a scenario where cash has become worthless. It could be hyperinflation, where it takes a wheelbarrow of cash to buy a loaf of bread. Or it could a devastating act of terrorism such as a bioweapon or an EMP that sets the country back 100 years. Whatever […]

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17 Ways You Can Stay Warm When The Power Goes Out

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A cold snap accompanied by strong winds and heavy snow or ice often results in the power going out. This can be very dangerous for people who rely on electricity to heat their homes in the winter. It’s important to have a plan in place to keep yourself […]

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7 Things You Can Do If People Find Out You’re A Prepper

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You’ve been outed! Maybe they found you online. Maybe they saw you carrying supplies into your house. Maybe a close friend or family member spilled the beans. However it happened, the word is out and now everyone knows you’re a prepper. This shouldn’t affect your day to day […]

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3 Ways To Start Your Off Grid Transition

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When the subject of off-grid living comes up, the average person pictures guys with scruffy beards living in makeshift shelters in the woods. But living off-grid is simply about liberty, independence, and shunning the corporate/government machine that wants to control every facet of your life. The less you […]

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High Tech Prepping: How To Get Free Topographic Maps Using Your Computer

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Best Maps for Survival

Are you using available technology to help you with your preparations for when TSHTF?  If you’re a Luddite then this post is not Top Survival Blogfor you; however, if you own a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer then this post will show you how to obtain and use free topographic maps.  You might ask the question, “If we’re using high tech why not use a GPS?”  Great question.  The way I use technology is to assist me now while the grid is still up.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

The way I use technology is to assist me now while the grid is still up.  Creating lists, downloading and printing maps, using online resources such as SHTFBlog and Survival Cache, looking at gear reviews, etc.  If you’re planning on using your GPS endlessly after the grid goes down I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck somewhere up a river without a paddle.  The batteries in your devices will eventually die.  Are you prepared for that?  There’s a hundred uses for technology if you have it available and you’re not afraid of it.  Let’s get started.

Stuff You’ll Need

Here’s a list of software that I use.  I’ll lay it out and show you how you could also use other software.  First, I’m using Windows 10 on a Microsoft Surface 3 Pro.  I use Windows Edge or Internet Explorer as a browser, and Microsoft OneNote to capture and manipulate images.  This could easily be done on Windows 7 or Windows 8.  You can use Google Chrome or Firefox as a browser, and there’s a free tool in Windows 7 under accessories called the Snipping Tool, that allows you to capture images off the screen.

OneNote is awesome for a bunch of different reasons.  It’s a free download and all you need is a Microsoft account in order to use it.  This is one of the few pieces of software out there that I really recommend.  I basically run my life off OneNote.  If there’s enough interest I’ll write another post about it in future and how I use it for prepping if anybody is interested.  There’s also a similar piece of software called Evernote, which is just as awesome.

Free Topographic Maps

Who doesn’t love free stuff?  I like Google maps and use it fairly extensively, but I still like topographic maps when I’m out doing Land Navigation.  As is true with nearly everything these days there are other ways to do what I’m about to show you, but the following method works best for me.

To get topographic maps follow this link.  This link should bring up the following page.



Use your mouse (click and drag) to get to the area you want then use the scroll button on your mouse to zoom in.  You can use the pinch method on a touch screen if you’re using a tablet.  Here’s what Maine looks like as I start to zoom in:




The red squares are quadrangles that indicate areas that have corresponding maps.  Zoom in some more until you get to the level of detail you want.  Here’s a screen shot of West Rockport in Maine in an area in the hills I’ve hiked often:




This is smaller than what I can see on my screen, but now you can see roads, lakes, contour lines, etc.  Basically all the details that make a topographic map what it is.  Now it’s time to actually get a screen shot and paste the pictures into OneNote or whatever software you use.  When you download and install OneNote you should see a another tool called “Send to OneNote”.  It’s small icon that looks like this:




If you’re running Windows 7 and didn’t download OneNote you can always use the Snipping Tool under the Accessories menu.  When you have the map just the way you like it click the Send To OneNote icon on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen and it will pop up a screen like the one below.  Click “Screen Clipping” and the screen will darken up a little.  That’s Windows way of telling you that it’s ready for you to make a selection.  I start at the top left corner of the area I want to highlight then click and hold the left mouse button and drag down and right until the area I want is highlighted.





Let go of the left mouse button and a screen like the one below will appear.  I usually choose “Copy to Clipboard”, which takes your selection and stores it in memory.





You can paste it into just about any word processor or graphics program.  Again, I like OneNote for it’s versatility so I’m going to paste it there.  I go to OneNote and create a new page, then I can either Right Click and choose paste or just hit the Ctrl – V shortcut on the keyboard and paste it in.



In the above graphic you can see I’ve named it Spruce and Ragged Mountain Map.  The cool thing is that you can copy and paste as many maps as you want then print them out when you’re ready to use them on a trip.  Below is a printed version on my black and white laser printer.  If you print these out on a color printer they look great and work great too.  I’ve got many of these black and white maps of various areas here in Maine.




Magnetic Declination

We now have the map of our area, but we aren’t quite done yet.  If you’ve used a map and compass before you know that you have to adjust for the magnetic declination in your area.  To find out what it is in your area click here.

Enter your city and state,  click SEARCH MAP and you’ll get a screen back like this:



In the white information portion on the map you’ll see where it says Magnetic declination:  -15 degrees 51’

I’m just going to use 15 degrees as my declination, so I write that at the bottom of my map.  I can even put it in the same type of graph you’d find on a real map.




It’s a little crude, but it conveys the necessary information.  Now I know what I need to use in order to convert from grid to magnetic and vice versa.  If you don’t know how to do this don’t worry.  I’m getting ready to write a series of posts about map reading/land navigation coming up.  You might also want to check out my YouTube channel for more info on this topic.

Use It!

You now have a perfectly good map to use when you’re out on your land nav trips.  Many of you probably use a GPS when out hiking, but I encourage you to start taking a map and compass when you go out and track your progress on a real map.  That way when the batteries die on your GPS you’ll have a backup and the knowledge on how to use them to get where you’re going.

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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Permaculture Design Course Videos from Permaskills.Net

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Those of you that have been with me for a while may or may not remember my talking about the PermaSkills’ permaculture design videos last year. It was a Kickstarter project that I decided to fund, and turned out wonderfully! What It Is: Olivier A. and his group of filmmakers shadowed 2 permaculture design courses […]

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Escape From Richmond

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In June of this year I put an announcement out on our website for suggestions of a city that would be suitable for an urban escape scenario. My intention was to walk to safety with a small team from a major metropolitan area during a simulated emergency situation where the freeways and public transit system were shutdown. The scenario was designed to test equipment, fitness, route planning and to have some fun in the process! My goal was to add real world data to the often speculated and opinionated world of 72 hour bags, and urban survival preparedness.

My little home town of Boise, Idaho does not fit the bill for conducting a real world urban survival scenario soIMG_2670 it was necessary to reach out. After the announcement I received about a dozen suggestions for cities ranging from Phoenix to Atlanta. Although most offered logistical advice no one seemed like they were willing to conduct the scenario with me. Then along came John from Richmond, Virginia. I could tell from the beginning that John was super pumped to be a part of the scenario and had a group of friends that were equally excited. Within 24 hours of communicating with John he furnished a detailed escape route from his office in downtown Richmond to a safe zone approximately 25 miles away in Chester VA. The route included a 2 mile hike to a boat dock then an 8 mile boating leg on the James River to an isolated river bivouac site for the first day. The second day would require a 15 mile hike through urban and rural neighborhoods to make it to our safe zone. The city of Richmond met all my parameters so an easy decision was made. After speaking with John on the phone I knew I had made the right choice. John is a former Navy sailor and active competitive pistol shooter. He has an infectious energy and a gift for logistics. This guy was all over it Escape 2and made my part of planning very easy, just show up on Richmond on the designated date and start walking!

On October 19 I flew from Boise to Richmond. That evening I met with my five teammates for dinner. I was a bit nervous meeting five strangers that I would be spending the next two days and walking nearly 20 miles with. However they all turned out to be outstanding men and patriots. We hit it off right away and soon were eating, drinking, and laughing like old friends. John provided manila envelopes to the team with detailed route instructions and maps. No one had an ounce of ego or attitude and as the evening progressed I knew the trip would be successful based on the group’s collective mentality and attitude. Everyone was excited for the challenge and to learn from one another. So right up front I learned perhaps the most important lesson of the whole trip; the people (team) you choose to associate with are more important than gear, route planning, firearms etc. Your most valuable asset in an emergency situation is your teammates. This lesson has been repeated to me over and over throughout my life and was reinforced many times during this urban escape scenario. Now is the time to reach out and build relationships with like-minded individuals. Foster and build a strong team that you can count on during hard times and for god sake do your part to never let them down!

I met John at our established safe zone and dropped off my car. We shuttled to his office in downtown Richmond and parked. We met our other team members at his office and took a pre-adventure photo. My teammates all had different pack and dress configurations, but all of them stuck to the low key “grey man” concept. We did not want to attract any more attention than six dudes with packs walking through downtown Richmond would generate. We stepped out of the lobby and began the first leg of the journey at approximately 16:00 hours. escape 3

We crossed under Interstate 95 and walked through the Shockoe bottom district on our way along the river to the dock. At 1600 hours on a Friday downtown was bustling with people. We walked casually but with a purpose and talked as we walked. I thought people would definitely notice and react to six men walking through downtown with backpacks on, but no one seemed to care what we were up to. I did not notice a single second look and I was purposely looking for them. The grey man concept works and is a must if your emergency escape route takes you through an urban area. Had we been decked out in camouflage with military style packs we would have surely been noticed and probably stopped by law enforcement. escape 4

The amount of information on the internet about what should and should not be in a bug out bag is mind boggling! My recommendation is to keep it very very basic to start with. You can always add items to increase capability and comfort later, but having something put together is better than nothing. A simple kit can be built with any budget in mind. You cannot know how your kit will work if you have never used it. Your back yard does not count! And remember you are far more likely to use your bug out bag to spend the night at a hospital with a loved one or to help other people in times of need than to need it running into the wilderness away from the blue helmets, so keep your preparations based solidly in reality.

This trip gave me the opportunity to observe 5 different bug out bags in action. I’m happy to report that all of them perforescape 5med very well. Besides a cold night sleep for some teammates everyone had the basic gear to comfortably spend a night out and walk 18 miles to safety.  The way of knowing how things will or will not work can only learned through real conditions testing. I know all of my teammates and myself included, will be adding or subtracting gear based on this trip and making their kits better, lighter and more catered to their specific needs.

We walked the two miles to the boat dock without incident. Everyone seemed to be doing well under the load of their packs. All team members carried relatively small packs that were easily maneuverable. In my experience a pack that is less than 30lbs with water is essential in staying light and fast. Anything beyond that weight really takes a toll on most people regardless of fitness and will slow you down after a few miles. One older woman asked us what we were up to as we walked down to the dock. We told her we were out for a hike and she seemed happy for us.

We loaded our packs aboard John’s boat and departed the dock at about 1730 hours. Once we were under way on the James River thescape 6e bustle of the city instantly went away and we were almost alone on the water. Our preplanned camping area was a large peninsula tucked off the main channel of the James River downstream from the Dutch gap boat ramp. The peninsula offered flat camping and almost 360 degree security by water. When we arrived we did not have much day light remaining. The team quickly worked together to gather firewood. There was a great impromptu fire building instructional session that developed and soon we had a great warm fire to gather around. The preferred fire starting option was a flint striker to ignite a dried grass tender ball.  During a real situation we likely would have forgone the fire for security reasons but for a training scenario it was wonderful.

The evening was clear and cool with temperatures falling into the 40’s and what my western skin thought was high humidity, but my eastern brothers thought was no humidity. Mid 40’s is a great temperature to test a survival shelter set up, cold enough that you have to get it right to sleep well but not so cold its dangerous if you screw it up. Once all of the shelters were up we ate various meals around the camp fire, MRE’s, freeze dried, protein bars etc. One member of our team had never experienced the joy of eating an MRE. I think it only takes one to realize you have not been missing much! After eating we sipped some rum talked and laughed before putting out the fire and retreating to our shelters to sleep.

In a nutshell most of my teammates did not sleep due to the cold. The two hammock sleepers John and Justin had it particularly baescape 7d as the cold crept in from underneath them during the night. I was awoken very early in the morning by them building a fire to try and warm up. Once the fire was going, everyone got up and gathered around the fire. I was still warm and cozy in my nest so I rolled over and enjoyed a bit more sleep! I write this now not to disrespect my teammates, but because it really drives home the point that you must have a durable, repeatable, lightweight and easy to pitch shelter if you are going to survive an emergency situation where you have to sleep outdoors.

Here is what I think is a great lightweight shelter set up for an emergency pack that covers most environmental situations. First a high quality rain poncho. Not the two dollar cheapo sold a Walmart but something purpose built like the Equinox poncho sewn in the USA or a GI style military poncho. The poncho of course works as rain protection while on the move but it can also serve as a ground cloth and a pitch-able shelter to sleep under if needed. They take up very little room and a good quality one can be used over and over again. Also if for some reason you have to sleep in an office space or temporary shelter during a disaster the poncho can be set up as a privacy curtain indoors.

Next you need something to insulate you from the cold ground. Inflatable mattresses are the standard and serve the role well in recreational settings. For an emergency pack I think they are bulky, fragile and overpriced. I have found that a small piece of closed cell foam pad works great. I cut a piece about 10×20’’ foam pad that can slide in or rolls up easily into my pack. The foam pad is virtually indestructible, and provides a place for my shoulder and hip to rest on the ground. I usually put my feet on my pack to keep them off the ground. IMG_2670

You need some kind of full body insulation. Emergency foil blankets suck and are not a good option. I have tested and shivered in them to many times. They can add some additional heat and wind protection to a shelter set up but should not be counted on alone. Most of them are pretty fragile and will not stand up to repeated use. Instead I think a better option is a lightweight sleeping bag or poncho liner. You get so much more warmth and versatility from it and with modern insulation and compression stuff sacks they take up very little room in a pack. I also think a good warm fleece cap and some kind of thermal long underwear are a must in an emergency pack no matter the season.

Once everyone was up we gathered around the fire and made breakfast and coffee. Spirits were high as we packed our gear and prepared for the short but cold boat ride to the Dutch gap boat ramp and then the 15 mile hike to our safe zone! We loaded into John’s boat and began the cold ride back to the Dutch Gap boat ramp. When we arrived at the boat ramp another member of the team named Dean was there to load the boat. We quickly strapped on our packs to begin the 15 mile journey on foot to our safe zone. John had planned the route to keep us off of major streets and away from less than ideal neighborhoods. He had initially looked at walking power line and utility condors but then changed his mind after seeing how overgrown and brier clogged they were. Also the sight of six men with packs walking in the corridors would have guaranteed a stop by authorities. During a true emergency it may not have been to out of place. The lesson here is having multiple familiar routes planned to reach your destination. If one does not work out the ability to quickly reroute is crucial.

Without telling the world where my friend John lives I’ll say our route took us due west then northwest from the James River through the towns of Chester and Chesterfield, VA. We mostly walked on suburban streets and on the shoulder of busier roads. The previous days experience was the same for day two. No one obviously noticed us or cared what we were doing. One guy in a truck plastered with gun stickers honked at us as if he knew exactly what we were up to and would have loved to join us! A few people out doing yard work waved at us but other than that most people did not give a second look. Many of the neighborhoods we walked through were middle class to upper middle class which I would highly recommend as a measure of safety.

Chris, the Army Ranger beast in the group, took the lead and kept us going on a steady 3mph pace pretty much for the entire trip. Fitness levels varied throughout the group but everyone did great. We stopped about every five miles to rest and eat. Everyone was diligent about checking on the health of their feet. Shoes and socks were pulled off and fresh socks and powder ensued. At about mile seven the first blisters began to form on John’s feet. Moleskin was applied and he soldiered on. Near the end of the trip the blisters on one of his heels ruptured and caused him to grimace in pain. We were close to our safe zone so John toughed it out and finished the trip.

In regards to fitness, like I mentioned everyone was able to cover the prescribed 18 miles in two days without much issue which is an awesome accomplishment. By the end of day two we were all walking with a bit of a limp. During a real disaster where our loved ones were without us we likely would have walked through the night and not stopped to camp. The motivation of getting home would have kept us going. Make no mistake though if you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded don’t think you’ll be able to rise to the occasion in an emergency especially when you add a heavy backpack to the mix. A basic level of fitness is paramount. I believe in functional fitness, in this case if your emergency response plan includes walking a significant distance it makes a lot of sense to incorporate hiking into your weekly fitness training. Throw on a pack and go walk for 30 minutes to an hour once a week. You will be very glad you did!

About 24 hours after we started our walk out of downtown Richmond we could finally see the last turn where we would enter John’s neighborhood and reach our safe zone. After a 18 mile walk we are all relieved to see the end so near. We walked up the drive way to John’s house triumphantly and posed for a picture. Packs and boots were shed and a few celebratory shots were taken. John’s lovely wife had prepared an awesome dinner for the team. We sat around a fire in the backyard and talked and laughed about trip. I could not have asked for a better team, or better experience. This trip was absolutely 100 percent successful and exactly what I was looking for when I set out to do it!     

I’d like to thank John, Justin, Jason, Chris, Glen and their families for making the trip possible, educational, and fun. I had worked in federal law enforcement for 10 years prior to starting Zyon Systems. I was forced to leave law enforcement after an injury that left me blind in one eye. I think I’ve adjusted to civilian life at this point. I do not miss the agency, the politics, or the calls. What I miss are my team mates. I miss the camaraderie, the trust, and the banter that you can only know if you have worked as part of a team in a job where your actions could have serious consequences. I was not looking for that when I started planning this trip, but I found it if only for a few days and it was awesome! I only spent a few days with the guys in Virginia but they have a place in my heart and home and hopefully our paths will cross again. To echo a point that I made earlier, building a strong team is the best survival / emergency tool you can have. Make people your biggest investment and you will thrive if things go bad. Plus your life will be that much better if things stay normal, which is what we can all hope for. 

13 Things You Can Scavenge From Cars After The SHTF

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Cars are everywhere. If you’re anywhere near a city when the SHTF, you’ll come across thousands of them. And if the disaster is severe enough, many of these vehicles will be abandoned. Why does this matter? Because there are many survival items you can scavenge from abandoned vehicles. […]

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Sovereign Man Blacksmith Camp in Lithuania

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My quest for “real education” has taken me to some interesting places in 2015. Mexico. Kansas City. Vermont. And yes…. even Lithuania. That’s right, this last August, I was one of 60 young entrepreneurs from around the globe invited to attend the Sovereign Man “Blacksmith Camp” this year. The event was 5 days long (with […]

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Are You Getting REAL Education in 2015?

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A few weeks ago, I made a video about “Escaping Modern American Life.” While I maybe haven’t always had it as distilled or front of mind, that’s what this entire thing has always been about. The journey to gain more control over life, escape the crappy options in front of us, and lay hold of […]

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Just Finished Your “2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Preppers”

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Are you guys gift shopping for a prepper this Holiday season? I just finished putting together a pretty sweet holiday guide for the 2014 season. This year it focuses mostly on the funny, “gag” gifts for preppers, but towards the end of the guide, I give you guys a handful of REALLY legit ideas for […]

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What Was Your Preparedness Aha?

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Today’s prepisode is a simple question, “What was your preparedness aha?” You know exactly what I’m talking about–that moment where you actually realized that it’s a good idea to be prepared for disasters. Our preparedness ahas come in different forms. To some of us, it’s a natural disaster. To others,  a riot. Some preppers began […]

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