Wilderness Survival Mistakes You Should Avoid Making

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The amount of time you spend in a wilderness survival situation will depend on how often you prepare for a wilderness survival situation. While it is important to get out into the woods and practice skills, you must also be careful that these practice sessions don’t turn into survival disasters! With minimal skills you can …

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12 Bad Strategies That Will Get Preppers Killed

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If you’re involved in the preparedness lifestyle, you’re probably into planning. Most likely, you research and study the excellent preparedness strategies put out by experts. Whether we prepare for incidents … Read the rest

The post 12 Bad Strategies That Will Get Preppers Killed appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Top 20 Prepping Mistakes to Avoid

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With the abundance of bad information out there and the overwhelming amount you need to learn, it’s easy for new preppers to make a lot of mistakes. I’ve made many mistakes myself and I’m sure I’ll make more, but that’s part of the learning process. To help you speed up this process, here are some […]

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11 Wood Stove Mistakes Even Smart People Make

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11 Wood Stove Mistakes Even Smart People Make

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Owning and operating a wood stove is like many activities: easy enough when you know how, but challenging when you don’t. Having a roaring conflagration sitting in a metal box inside your house can be a little intimidating, especially when you’re new at it.

As with most things, it makes good sense to know the basics first. This includes following manufacturer’s instructions, making sure the stove is installed correctly, ensuring that the chimney is well-designed and installed, and remembering that combustibles are, well, combustible.

But mistakes happen when people don’t know how to avoid them. Following are a few which not everyone may be aware of:

1. Remember to keep everything cleaned out. Most people know the importance of keeping the inside of the chimney clear of buildup, but don’t forget the ash pan (located underneath the firebox and fills up quickly with ashes), the stovepipe connecting the stove to the chimney, and the stove itself. Full ashpans can block airflow and keep a fire from burning well. Regular stovepipe cleanouts are especially crucial with wood cookstoves—people tend to burn cooler fires in these, especially antique models. Another factor to remember is that the longer a stovepipe is and the more turns in it, the more buildup can occur. Cookstoves often have long twisty stovepipes and require a little more diligent maintenance for this reason, as well. And stoves themselves—again, particularly cookstoves—can have spaces and crannies that build up ash and debris.

2. Remember that the weather outside affects how your stove will operate. Wind, for example, creates a stronger draw, which makes a fire burn hotter and faster. Cold air outside draws better, too. Humidity also affects the way a fire burns. It is wise to be aware that what it takes for a comfortable fire can change with the weather—literally—and to take note of how your stove behaves in various conditions in order to adjust your own actions accordingly.

3. Stoves vary greatly. What works well with one may not work in another, for reasons including size, age, style, installation, chimney, climate and more.

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And you cannot rely solely on the experiences of others—ask for recommendations, but know that there are many different personal preferences. My brother, for example, heats his house with an antique Round Oak, while my primary heat source is a modern Amish cookstove.

4. Know that firewood varies greatly. Not only do different species of trees act very differently from one another, from pitchy softwoods like white pine that burn fast and hot and loud to super-hard hardwoods like oak that burn slow and steady to many other combinations, but dryness, age, size and shape all matter, too. Smaller pieces burn more quickly, and round wood—as opposed to split pieces—tend to burn faster and hotter, too.

5. Certain woods are less safe than others to burn. Green wood—that which has not had time to dry after felling and cutting—burns cooler, which can cause creosote buildup and possibly result in a chimney fire. Softwoods burn hotter but can build up pitch, which is also flammable.

6. Never use accelerants. Adding petroleum-based combustibles like gasoline or kerosene is dangerous. There’s playing with fire, and then there’s playing with potentially explosive fire. There’s a reason the expression “like pouring gasoline on a fire” exists—it’s a bad thing to do! When facing a sluggish burn, don’t try anything risky just to speed things along. Exercising patience is better than risking injury to yourself or damage to your home.

7. Don’t throw water into a burning woodstove. At best, you’ll have a houseful of smoke and a sludgey mess under your stove. At worst, the grates could crack or the stove could be otherwise damaged. The best thing for too-hot fires is to avoid them in the first place. But if you end up with a woodstove fire that feels out of control, the best thing to do is to get out of the house and call the fire department. If you can safely close up the stove—reducing as much air intake as you can—before getting out, do that.

8. Similarly, don’t shoot a fire extinguisher into a burning wood stove.  I knew of someone who did that once, and regretted it. You will, too. Call 911 instead!

9. Avoid stuffing a cool firebox chock-full of paper. It’s okay to use a little paper to start a fire, and okay to add paper to an already-burning fire.  For me, too much paper is a summertime problem. I toss junk mail, paper towel rolls, used tissues, and other paper waste into the stove firebox for several days a cool morning comes along when it seems reasonable to burn it off. But if the firebox is stuffed full, and especially if the paper has been dampened by humidity, it is likely to smolder instead of catch fire. This will result in a very unpleasant houseful of smoke. A better way to burn waste paper is to collect it elsewhere and burn just a little at a time.

10. Don’t burn chemicals. Plastics, pressure-treated wood, and other materials can result in potentially toxic volatile organic compounds being released into the air.

11. Tell your insurance company! It’s tempting to keep the fact that you use wood for heat and cooking a secret from those would probably increase your premium if they knew. But if you ever had a fire or other damage resulting from woodstove use, recouping your loss could be pretty complicated.

Nobody is born knowing how to run a woodstove, and there is no shame in being a novice. So just stay smart, follow general guidelines, steer clear of anything that seems questionable, and don’t be afraid to ask.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Are You Making Any Of These 8 Prepping Mistakes?

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Are You Making Any Of These 8 Prepping Mistakes?

Let’s face it: Prepping is an inexact science. There’s no way we can make perfect decisions on how to prep for a disaster when we don’t know what disaster we are prepping for or when it will come. All we can do is make educated guesses, and try to look for any holes in our plans, where we might have missed something important.

That’s why I’m always checking myself, looking to see what I might have forgotten. I read other people’s articles, look around for new products and test out various scenarios, just to see where I might have made a mistake. While a lot of that time I’m not doing anything more than confirming that what I’m doing is working, every once in a while I find a mistake I’ve made, either in not seeing something I need or in not seeing it as being important enough.

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, I was watching everything that happened. I had a particular interest in that hurricane, because it narrowly missed my home. As I watched people struggle to get out of their flooded homes, I realized that I didn’t have a boat. Should I ever be caught in their situation, a $100 investment in an inflatable boat would prevent me from being stuck and waiting until someone came to rescue me. But I hadn’t made that investment.

Here are a number of common errors of that type, which I’ve found through watching this and other disasters:

Expecting to Bug In and Not Having a Backup Plan

I’ve long counseled that bugging in is the best course of action for most people. There are just too many advantages to bugging in, for that not to be most of our choice, assuming we don’t have a cabin in the woods somewhere. But you’ve got to have an escape plan in place, because you never know what might happen.

Sadly, while many of us talk about having a bug-out plan, few really have one. Instead, they’ve just got some vague idea of what they’ll do. A vague idea isn’t a plan.

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The people of Southeast Houston certainly couldn’t bug in when the hurricane put six feet of water in their living rooms, no matter now well prepared they were. There are just some things that nature can do to us, which we can’t stand up under; for that matter, our homes can’t stand up under them, either.

Not Being Ready to Rescue Myself

The inflatable boat I just mentioned falls into this category. I live in a hurricane zone. How could I have missed such a thing? Yet, if it flooded here, I probably wouldn’t manage to get out before the water got too deep for my Toyota 4Runner.

I don’t care where you are or what sorts of disasters you might face, you can’t count on anyone else saving you. While the Cajun Navy might just show up at your doorstep, ready to take you off to safety, you can’t be sure they will be. They may not be able to get to where you are.

Not Enough Water

If there’s one survival supply that most people will run short of, I think it’s water. Too many people are quoting the “gallon of water per person, per day” mantra, without stopping to think about it. But the reality is, that gallon of water is just for drinking and cooking, it’s not enough to take care of all your needs. So if you’re only planning on that much, you’re going to have some serious water shortages.

Granted, it’s hard to store enough water to meet your needs. I won’t deny it. That’s why any real water plan has to include water storage, water filtering and water harvesting. You want to be sure that you err on the side of generosity here, as you’ll probably end up needing more than you think you will.

Not Having Supply Caches

This is another one that Hurricane Harvey made extremely clear. Any preppers living in Southeast Houston didn’t have it much better than their neighbors. It doesn’t matter how much food and water they had in their homes; they had to leave it all behind when they were rescued.

The only supplies that are going to help you in a situation like that are supplies that you’ve got stored someplace else. So if you find yourself forced to bug out sometime, you’d better have a good supply cache or two waiting for you.

Tunnel Vision

Real world prepping isn’t like Doomsday Preppers. You can’t afford to be prepping for just one far-fetched scenario. Rather, you’ve got to be preparing for everything. That way, when something does come, you’ll be ready.

That has to include being prepared for some off-the-wall scenarios, as well as being prepared for the much more mundane natural disasters. Nobody is giving any of us a program, with scheduled dates for the next dozen disasters to come. This is a come-as-you-are world, and it will be a come-as-you-are disaster as well.

The sad thing about tunnel vision is that while you might be perfectly prepared for one type of disaster, you are largely unprepared for another. But a few simply changes in your thinking would have included that disaster, as well. So think broadband, and get your head around all the disasters you can.

Thinking Small

It seems that preppers fall into two categories: those that only prepare for natural disasters, with an outside window of 30 days and those who are preparing for a TEOTWAWKI event. Historically, the ones who are preparing for short-term are right … except for one thing … dice don’t have a memory.

The reality is that just because we haven’t had a major disaster in about 100 years, doesn’t mean that we won’t. Yes, chances of a natural disaster are greater, but they aren’t the only options out there. We could have that once in a century event any day now.

Prepping for a long-term post-survival world not only ensures that you’re ready if that sort of scenario does come; it also makes sure that you’re ready for the more mundane natural disasters, as well. But you can’t say the same thing, the other way around. Personally, I’d rather err on the side of caution,than find out that I was wrong, once it’s too late.

Thinking You Have Foolproof OPSEC

If you think your neighbors have no idea that you’re a prepper, it’s time to wake up. Chances are, they have a pretty good idea. Maybe they don’t know to what extent you are prepared, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an idea what you’re doing. It’s hard to keep a secret and if you have a nosy neighbor, you probably have a lot less secrets than you think.

The question then becomes: How do you deal with that nosy neighbor, when the time comes? You can be pretty sure that they’re going to show up at your door, when the time comes and they run out of food. So you’d better be ready for it.

Just Thinking of Myself and My Family

I know that most of us prep with the attitude that we can’t save everyone, so we’re going to save our family. I’m the same way. But in recent times, I’ve had to rethink that a little. While I’m really still prepping for just myself and my family, I know enough people, who know that I write on survival, that I’m sure at least some of them will be showing up at my door.

It’s one thing to tell someone I don’t know to bug off, but another thing entirely when I know them. I’m not sure how I would react to that, especially if they brought their hungry children along with them. So I’m planning for it. I have lots of extra staples, especially rice and beans. While I can’t stockpile enough to feed them like I’m going to be feeding my own family, at least I’ll be able to give them something.

There’s actually more to this than just getting soft. I’d rather avoid a major battle, with hungry people attacking my home if I can. While I might be able to survive that battle, I’m not sure how many such battles I could survive. Eventually, they’d overrun me or I’d have to bug out. Helping those who come to me, even if it’s just a little, puts off that day when I’ll be forced to fight or bug out.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Are You Making these 3 Food Storage Mistakes?

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Are you making these 3 Food Storage Mistakes? Food storage is crucial to prepping. It falls into the top three in my book. There are so many methods for food storage it becomes one of these interesting issues where you can argue about percentages of canned, dried and purchased foods. Where do you store it …

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12 Common Canning Mistakes That Even Experts Make

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12 Common Canning Mistakes That Even Experts Make

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It’s the time of year when gardeners and homesteaders are scrambling to preserve our harvest in order to enjoy the literal fruits of our labors as close to year-round as possible. For a lot of us, that means canning. Most of us know our way around the kitchen when it comes to putting up food, but there are some mistakes that beginners—and sometimes even experienced canners—make.

1. Using untested recipes. Trying new methods from unreliable sources might be fine for some things, but not for canning. If it hasn’t come from a rock-solid source that has tested the recipe for safety, it’s not worth the risk.

2. Doubling batches of pectin-added jam. It says on the package not to do it, but newbies often try it anyway. It just seems so counter-intuitive—I mean, if you double everything exactly, why wouldn’t it work? Trust me. It doesn’t. Your jam will look pretty and taste delicious, but there is a very high likelihood that it won’t set. You can still use it to pour over ice cream, but it won’t be jam.

3. Reducing or replacing sugar in jam with regular pectin. This is another one that seems like it should work, but it doesn’t. The jam recipes on regular pectin packages call for a LOT of sugar, which is understandably off-putting. But if you want to use less sugar or a sugar substitute, buy the special pectin for low sugar for successful jamming.

4. Canning low-quality product. Always remember that canning food will in no way improve its flavor and texture. If it is picked too long ago, overripe, or substandard in any other way, it’s not a good candidate for canning. Can the best and eat the rest.

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I should note that this is advice intended for a scenario of plenty. If hardship or disaster prevents you from having enough high-quality food to can, it may be necessary to can what you have available, whether it is the most desirable or not.

5. Tightening jar rings after processing and leaving them in place during storage. The function of jar rings is to keep the lids on during processing, and nothing more. After processing and cooling, the rings should be loose. Retightening them could compromise your seal, and storing the jars with the rings on will cause the rings to rust and will provide a space for food particles to grow mold and bacteria under the ring. Remove the rings and wash them for use on your next batch, and rinse off the outside of the jar before storing.

12 Common Canning Mistakes That Even Experts Make

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6. Fudging the processing time. When canning, precision is key. Use a timer and don’t cut corners when it comes to processing time. And be careful to use the time for the size jar you are using—many recipes give different times for quarts and pints. A note of caution: If you’re using those new 24-ounce canning jars, you won’t find any canning times for them. Don’t try splitting the difference, because unless you’ve tested the process in a food laboratory, you can’t know exactly how long it takes to get adequate heat to the center of that 24-ounce jar. If your recipe gives different times for pints and quarts and you’re using pint-and-a-halfs, use the time for the quarts.

7. Using alternative processing methods. We’ve all seen them—cute tricks for canning in your microwave or dishwasher or oven. And we’ve heard stories about how back in the day they used wax for jam or just inverted the jars on the counter and allowed them to heat-seal. Sure, people did it and lived through it, but why take the risk? None of these methods meet current safety recommendations, and some have made people sick.

8. Not taking headspace seriously. That space between the top of the product and the top of the jar is a key component to canning success. Too little space can cause product to squirt out during processing and get stuck on the rim, which could prevent the lid from sealing. Too much space can also prevent a tight seal, because larger headspaces take longer processing times to push out all the air and create the necessary vacuum. All good recipes give a head space measurement, and they are worth heeding.

9. Getting the temperatures wrong. Use hot jars, and place them into simmering water in the canner. Placing cold jars into hot water can cause breakage. And starting with cool water in the canner can take extra time to bring it up to boil, resulting in overcooked end results.

10. Not using the correct amount of water in the canner. It’s important that your water level is right. Too little water can expose the lids during a vigorous boil, and they may not can properly, and too much will take a long time to reach boiling. For a boiling-water-bath canner, you need at least 1 inch over top of the jars, but no more than 2 inches. It can be hard to judge ahead of time, so keep a kettle full of simmering water on standby when you load the canner, and add more if you need it. Have a long-handled scoop handy for bailing out excess water, too. Pressure canners are easier in this instance—follow the manufacturer’s directions, which will tell you either to use the fill line on the canner itself or to measure a certain depth of water.

11. Removing jars immediately after processing. It’s recommended to leave the jars in the water for a bit. In a boiling-water-bath canner, turn off the heat and remove the lid and let the jars set for five minutes before removing. In a pressure canner, allow it to completely depressurize, remove the weight or open the petcock, and let the jars set for 10 minutes before lifting the lid and removing the jars. This is not crucial, but it contributes to a better sealing rate. Then, let your jars set untouched for 12-24 hours. As much as you want to pick them up to show them off, or to put them away to make room for the next batch, or even to just press down on the lid to see if it sealed, try to leave them alone. This will improve your odds of a good solid seal for the best possible end result.

12. Pouring water off the lid. Oh, I know. This one is so hard to resist! It is super tempting to tilt the jar to pour off the excess water on the top, but don’t do it. Doing so can disrupt the seal you worked so hard to achieve. Remove the jars from the canner, set them on a towel or rack, and let the water evaporate naturally.

If you don’t get every single one of these items right every time, do not worry. Most of us don’t achieve perfection. I would encourage you to focus on product safety first, and continue to work on other possible mistakes which may affect the quality and success of your canning endeavors. And when you enjoy a jar of home-canned chutney or jam next winter, you’ll be glad you went to the trouble of doing your best.

What common mistakes would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:  

4 Food Storage Mistakes You Might Be Making

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4 Food Storage Mistakes You Might Be Making Masters call it the 10,000 rule. Bruce Lee said very succinctly that he did not concern himself with the man who has thrown 10000 kicks once; instead he feared the man who has thrown 1 kick 10,000 times. I bring up these two instances because we have …

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7 Reasons Preppers Will Die After a Worldwide Collapse

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When the chips are down, mistakes can be fatal. Even those who have spent the better part of their life preparing for a disaster are prone to mistakes. And once you make them, there’s no going back. Some of these mistakes are rooted in misconceptions, others in heat-of-the-moment errors. However, the outcomes are the same. […]

The post 7 Reasons Preppers Will Die After a Worldwide Collapse appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

I Teach Concealed Carry Classes. Here Are 3 Deadly Mistakes New Owners Make.

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I Teach Concealed Carry Classes. Here Are 3 Deadly Mistakes New Owners Make

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For more than a decade, I’ve carried concealed and competed in area matches. Now I’m an instructor.

As a practitioner and teacher of concealed carry and gun handling, there are a handful of errors that don’t surprise me anymore. Some, I made myself and now witness others doing the same.

This article is an attempt to help others learn from typical mistakes of new concealed carriers.

1. Choosing a gun that’s too complicated.

I tend to agree with a comment made in a class I took earlier this year with Rob Pincus of Personal Defense Network: “It’s 2017. You should have a gun that goes bang without you having to do anything but press the trigger.”

His comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the sentiment is valid. Safety is the result of observance of muzzle-and-finger discipline first, and a good holster that covers the trigger guard second. In light of the handful of drop-safe manufacturing issues in recent years, selecting a model with a solid reputation in that department earns a place on the safety checklist, too.

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In that high-stress moment that the gun is carried to address, the ability of the mind to tell the fingers to do things like disengage a safety lever is greatly diminished. Likewise, many people commit accuracy errors on that initial long trigger pull that is the correct firing procedure on a double/single action handgun. The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle should apply when choosing a lifesaving product.

This advice will make some fans of certain platforms scoff. I love my 1911 as much as the next person, but I’ve also tested myself with it in competition and have experienced a couple moments in which my finger “forgot” to disengage the safety lever. Lesson learned.

2. Blowing the bank on the first holster.

It’ll likely be necessary to experiment with various methods of carry before settling on one that suits your lifestyle. That holster that had great reviews in the magazine, or was praised by a friend who carries, and perhaps cost over $100, may not suit your daily habits.

What does “suit your lifestyle” mean? It means the gun/holster setup must be comfortable enough to wear for the typical hours you spend doing things typical for your day. Examples: people who have to bend from the waist a lot will find “printing” of the gun to be a problem if they carry inside the waistband, behind the midline. Women who wear dresses may find that carrying on-body means choosing a gun that’s much smaller than what they’d prefer, as models that fit comfortably and safely in thigh or bra holsters are limited.

Retention of the gun in the holster is a consideration. If your job involves climbing trees or on and off roofs, for example, the ability of the holster to not allow the gun to slide out without your help is critical. Velcro is a popular retention device, but is noisy—a potential risk in some situations.

Above all, the holster must prevent penetration of the trigger guard by any outside object, whether the gun is worn on the body or off. Choices abound; it’s wise to keep an open mind and try several rigs until you find one that’s ideal for you.

3. Yakking about your armed status.

It’s very tempting to talk about your gun, choice of holster, licensure and experiences as a concealed carrier, especially in the workplace. A few workplaces nurture a culture friendly to self-protection; many more do not. Conversations, even among trusted friends or coworkers, can increase your risk for burglary when inside-circle stories about firearms are inevitably shared outside of that circle. A staggering number of people have a close relative who is substance-dependent and possibly motivated to steal.

Likewise, boasting about your armed status via gun stickers or catchy sayings stuck on your car or front lawn also may increase the likelihood of a car or home burglary when you’re not around. In a recent survey of Oregon inmates convicted of burglary, signs like “due to the price of ammo, don’t expect a warning shot” repelled about half of would-be burglars. Others reported they view such signs as an advertisement of where to snatch guns when the homeowner is away.

Braggadocio should be reserved for supportive circles, and not T-shirts, public social media posts, or even the interior of your AR-15’s dust cover. Unfortunately, wearing or otherwise promoting somewhat tongue-in-cheek statements, the kind about self-defense commonly found in gun-owner circles, are often cited as legal evidence the gun owner was looking for a fight. While gun owners should not have to kowtow to the whims of anti-gunners, the fact is, public statements about gun use may well be used to your detriment in court.

Summary

These three “mistakes” will surely not meet with agreement of everyone. I hope it gives readers who are new to, or in their first years of daily carry, food for thought as they navigate decisions about defensive living.

What mistakes would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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 […]

The post 10 Things You Should NOT Do After SHTF appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

8 Biggest Mistakes That Preppers Make

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This week I want to share a video by Homestead Launch (formerly known as The Daily Prep). Everyone–and I mean everyone–makes mistakes. This is especially when it comes to prepping, which is a lot more complicated than it looks. Your best bet is to learn from the mistakes of others, and that is the purpose […]

The post 8 Biggest Mistakes That Preppers Make appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

A Beginners Guide to Prepping!

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A Beginners Guide to Prepping! If you’re just starting off in the world of prepping, welcome to the team! If you’re still contemplating whether to get on board, hopefully this will persuade you to the light. It may seem a like a daunting task to begin preparing for the worst, but if you know where … Continue reading A Beginners Guide to Prepping!

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8 Common-But-Foolish Mistakes Chicken Owners Make (Please, Don’t Do No. 4)

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8 Common & Foolish Mistakes Chicken Owners Make (Please, Don’t Do No. 4)

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1. Too many (or too few) roosters.

It’s true that you don’t need a rooster to harvest eggs, but a gentleman tends to keep the ladies happier and helps to break up domestic squabbles between the hens. He’ll also alert them to good forage and save it for his ladies to win favor. That said, too many roosters can cause territory disputes and lead to abused hens. A good ratio is one rooster to every 8-12 hens.

2. Inadequate protection from predators.

They don’t say “smart as a fox” for nothing. Predators are intelligent, and if they’re not they don’t make it very long. Chicken owners need to plan in advance to protect their flock. Raccoons have been known to break through mesh chicken wire, or simply reach through and kill birds through the fence. Weasels, believe it or not, can slip through the small holes. Hardware cloth is better to use for a chicken’s overnight housing. They’ll also need protection from digging predators, such as foxes and coyotes, as well as climbing predators such as raccoons, that can carry a hen with them over the fence. Make sure the coop is fully protected top to bottom, and don’t underestimate your predators. If all else fails, a trusty .22 is usually plenty to deal with unwelcome guests.

3. No access to forage.

8 Common & Foolish Mistakes Chicken Owners Make (Please, Don’t Do No. 4)

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The healthiest eggs come from chickens allowed to access forage. Chickens, while they do love their greens, are not (by any means) vegetarians. Even a brain as simple as a chicken’s brain needs stimulation from finding and hunting for food, and bugs are excellent entertainment and nutrition. Chickens living on a diet of corn/soy mush from the feed store are a sure way to harvest the status quo boring egg you can buy at the grocery store. Let your chickens forage, and they’ll thank you for it with tastier and more nutritious eggs.

4. No retirement plan.

All too often, classified ads have listings for “free chickens, 3 years old, no longer laying regularly, to a good home only, not the stew pot.” If you’re going to own chickens and raise them for eggs, you need to be realistic about their productive life span.

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Chickens produce best in the first three years of life, and after that their production drops off drastically. They generally live for 7-10 years, which is a long unproductive lifespan to feed your retirees. Trying to give away the problem to others and insisting that they go to a “happy farm” rather than the stew pot is unrealistic. If you want your chickens to live a long and happy life, you’ll have to support your pensioners yourself as pets, or know that their next best fate is the stew pot.

5. Too small of a coop.

You’ll need to plan a little extra space for chickens too young to lay while they grow into adults, but before you’ve retired out your older hens. If you retire your hens before the new batch comes in, you’ll have a long wait without eggs as the younger hens come of age. Planning for a coop that’s 1.5 to 2 times the size you expect to need is a great way to ensure that you can cycle your flock, and expand it without cost if your needs change later on.

6. Using recycled material.

8 Common & Foolish Mistakes Chicken Owners Make (Please, Don’t Do No. 4)

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While it may be tempting to hack together a nearly free structure from recycled materials, make sure you’re picky about what you use. Hens tend to peck loose or peeling paint, and those old recycled “free” boards covered in lead paint that you picked up beside the side of the road may come back to haunt your family in the form of lead poisoning. Be sure that any material you choose is free of chemical treatment, old lead paint, rusty nails, and ideally is smooth wood without splinters or rough edges, both for your safety and ease of cleaning and painting down the road.

7. Not counting your chickens.

Though they say you shouldn’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, after they’re hatched is a whole different story. Each night when your chickens are put in, they should be counted to make sure everyone has come in safely. One may have been picked off by a predator during the day, and you don’t want that to happen several days in a row before you notice.

8. Not checking local ordinances.

In most places in the country, backyard chickens are perfectly legal, but it never hurts to check your local ordinances. Many towns have rules against keeping roosters (as noise prevention) or keeping more than a very small number. To prevent fines and headaches later, check the rules, and if they don’t meet your needs, work with your town council to change them. Backyard chickens are becoming more accepted even in urban areas as people move toward self-sufficiency, and if your town doesn’t allow them, maybe it’s time for a change.

What are the biggest mistakes you have seen made with chickens? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Top 5 Bug Out Bag Mistakes

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I’ve written several articles about prepping mistakes and how to avoid them, but when I came across this video by Survival Know How I realized I haven’t talked about bug out bag mistakes. This is something most people don’t think about. How do you mess up a bug out bag? Just put the things you […]

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Prepper Mistakes!

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Prepper Mistakes James Walton “I Am Liberty” On this episode of I AM Liberty I wanted to take some time to talk about the pit falls I have ended up in or the miss steps based on starting as a prepper. You know it’s easy to get all worked up and start making decisions based on … Continue reading Prepper Mistakes!

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7 Worst Rookie Prepper Mistakes

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We all make mistakes, especially when it comes to prepping. Fear of doomsday has caused many people to make rash decisions they later regret. Believe me, I know. Fortunately, the Internet makes it easier to learn from other people so you can avoid making the same mistakes they did. To that end, SNO Multimedia made […]

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10 MORE Prepping Mistakes To Avoid

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Several years ago I wrote an article called 10 Common Prepping Mistakes To Avoid. It became one of my most popular articles, and to this day it still gets a lot of traffic. But the article was by no means comprehensive. There are literally hundreds of mistakes one can make when preparing for a disaster, […]

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The 8 Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Gardeners Make (No. 3 Could Ruin Your Entire Crop)

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The 8 Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Gardeners Make (No. 3 Could Ruin Your Entire Crop)

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There is more to gardening than meets the eye. From the viewpoint of one who has never tried growing their own food, it may appear to be simply a case of tilling up some soil, popping a few seeds in, and sitting back and waiting for the gourmet vegetables to roll in.

Usually, though, there is more to it than that. Growing food is a combination of science, art, diligence and good fortune — and it is a moving target. There are the perennial challenges to stay ahead of weeding and watering, and to protect the plants from the hungry jaws of insects and wildlife looking for a free meal. But there are a few more tricks of the trade beyond the basics, and even smart gardeners make mistakes. Here are eight ways that even the best gardeners can slip up.

1. Leaving inadequate space between plants and between rows. While setting tiny little broccoli or Brussels sprouts seedlings into the bare ground, the expanse of wide-open garden can be deceptive. Even though the directions on the seed packet expressly say to leave three or four feet of space, it takes a lot of willpower to do it.

It is so easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying and planting and then run out of garden space, resulting in the temptation to just squeeeeeeze those hills of pumpkin plants a little closer together. Because, they can’t get that big, right? Wrong. They can. And they will.

Need Non-GMO Seeds For Your Organic Garden? The Best Deals Are Right Here!

I once read that placing plants too close together is a common beginner error, but it can be difficult even for seasoned gardeners to avoid.

There are a few exceptions to the rule of giving plenty of room — most notably peppers and snap beans, both of which are happier touching their neighbors.

It is important to follow the instructions on the seed packet or in the catalog, and even get out a tape measure if necessary in order to prevent underestimating the distance between plants.

The 8 Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Gardeners Make (No. 3 Could Ruin Your Entire Crop)

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2. Losing control of succession planting. The idea behind this concept is to plant a little at a time, over a span of several weeks. This is to prevent drowning in those early summer vegetables such as lettuce and spinach and radishes and carrots and beets and chard — plants which grow quickly and require only a partial season from start to finish. It makes more sense to plant a small amount of each every two or three weeks so that they reach maturity a little at a time.

However, it is sometimes easier said than done. By the time the third or fourth planting of early season vegetables is due to go in, a gardener can be too busy with planting and tending warm-weather crops to bother with them. And then there are the warm-weather harvests to keep food-growers busy.

Gardening involves a lot of intricate timing and juggling, and succession planting adds a little extra complication to the mix. But wrapping up the harvest without a last blast of those delicious cold-weather foods leaves gardeners wishing they had followed through with later plantings.

3. Forgetting about soil health. Soil is a living entity. Without healthy soil, hopes for healthy garden plants are slim. It is important to have it tested regularly and heed the recommendations for amendments — and to follow the guidelines pretty closely. Soil only slightly deficient in nitrogen will not necessarily benefit from five times the recommended amount.

Other tenets of soil health include insuring adequate drainage and avoiding walking on it when wet so that it does not become too hard packed.

4. Recreational rototilling. Some gardeners believe in tilling, and others do not. But either way, tilling is directly related to soil health. Excess tilling can destroy organisms which keep the soil alive and vibrant, and allow the soil to become compacted and lifeless.

It is important to use a rototiller only when truly necessary and to avoid tilling when the soil is mucky and subject to too much damage.

The 8 Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Gardeners Make (No. 3 Could Ruin Your Entire Crop)

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5. Neglecting to thin rows. Directions on vegetable seed packets say to plant every half inch to an inch and then later thin them to somewhere between two and 12 inches, depending upon the species. The point is to attain a high rate of germination — because every seed does not germinate into a seedling — and then once they take root, to pull out enough to allow the remainders space to grow.

It is hard to do. Ripping out half of those green bobbing heads of radish leaves popping up in sweet little rows feels self-defeating. And destroying all those healthy-looking corn plantlets already reaching for the sky and promising to become healthy fruitful stalks — ouch!

It has to be done. It helps to remind oneself of how much healthier those remaining ones will be, and how scrunched up and unproductive the whole crop will be if they are not thinned. And the crop is guaranteed to be subpar if they are not.

I’ve tried to plant them as far apart initially as they are supposed to be after thinning, with poor results. Big gaps show up in my rows, and while it probably was possible to replant, I did not get to it. Additionally, many must-thin seeds like lettuce and carrots are so tiny that it’s nearly impossible to plant them in neat pre-thinned rows.

6. Being nonchalant about compost sources. Gardeners need to ask all the right questions of compost sellers and make sure they know what they are getting. What is the actual composition — is it cow manure, household compost, or biosolids? And does it contain peat moss and other fill material? Has it been adequately heated? Is it organic? Are there scraps of non-biodegradable materials? Has it been tested for metals?

The 8 Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Gardeners Make (No. 3 Could Ruin Your Entire Crop)

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Biosolid material, or human waste, is off-putting to some gardeners. Fill material can be an excellent addition, but not if it results in a mix that is mostly wood chips or other carbons. Unheated compost of any kind can contain pathogens. Compost which is not certified organic can possibly contain herbicides that could damage the garden.

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It is easier to be careful up front than to risk having to dig it out of a raised bed garden and haul it off later.

7. Touching plants when wet. It is never the best idea to bother any wet vegetable plants, but it really matters with beans. Picking, weeding or brushing past bean plants when wet can increase their chances of disease and should be strictly avoided. It is worth rearranging a schedule to pick or tend beans before predicted rain and even in order to work around a heavy dew.

8. Leaving ripe fruit unpicked. Fruit, in this case, is the mature result of a flowering body—vegetables such as squash, beans, eggplant, peppers and anything else which grew from a blossom and is not part of the plant’s stalk or root. These plants live to produce fruit. The more is picked, the more they produce. Plants can become stagnant and stop putting on more fruit if it is not consistently picked.

It is important to pick vegetables diligently. Even if there is too much to use immediately, it is better to do so, and give it away or even feed it to livestock if necessary, than to let it sit on the plant and inhibit later production.

Gardening is great, and growing your own food even better. Paying attention to concerns such as space, timing, sourcing and diligence can help growers save valuable resources and avoid crop loss. By following these simple guidelines, even smart gardeners can avoid common mistakes and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

What mistakes would you add to the list? Share your gardening mistakes in the section below:

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7 Not-So-Obvious Gardening Mistakes

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garden mistakesGardening is one of those fun hobbies that is never perfected – and that always includes a few annual mistakes.

So before you get too involved in your garden this year, why not ensure you’re not making the most obvious blunders?

On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio, we take a look at seven of the biggest gardening gaffes that people make every year – mistakes that are easy to overlook. Our guest is garden expert Brad Halm, co-founder of The Seattle Urban Farm Company and the co-author of High-Yield Vegetable Gardening and Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard.

Brad tells us:

  • What people often get wrong about mulch and soil.
  • Why watering is one of the most misunderstood garden chores.
  • How a vegetable’s location in the garden can impact whether it grows strong – or dies.
  • Which two mistakes gardeners often make before the season even starts.

If you have a garden and want to see it thrive this year, then this show is for you!

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Concealed Carriers Make

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes Concealed Carriers Make

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As a concealed firearms instructor I see students come through my classes from all walks of life, and they all seem to make the same basic mistakes when it comes to carrying a concealed weapon.

Here are the top five mistakes I see concealed carriers make:

1. Using cheap holsters

A lot of people will slap down $500 or more for a gun, but then feel queasy about spending $50 on a holster. That $14.95 holster made in China is nice and cheap, but, man, it’s probably not comfortable. It’s likely made from cheap nylon that sags and offers terrible retention – and will slow and disrupt your draw. Very few universal holsters actually work, and I’ve never seen a nylon model that does work.

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Holsters should be fitted – or at least close to being fitted. A good holster isn’t even that expensive when it comes to factoring in comfort, retention, and the ability to draw. There is a good deal on Alien Gear that allows shooters to get two quality holsters for $50 or one for $35. There is no excuse to cling to the cheapest thing you can find. Some cheap holsters even can be unsafe. A shoulder holster that lets the weapon rotate and spin can be quite unsafe when the weapon is pointing at your body.

2. Never training/practicing

Concealed carriers should seek some form of training. Even if it’s not formal classroom training, carriers should at least take up instruction via the Internet or DVD; something is better than nothing. But simply watching these videos, or reading these articles means nothing if you aren’t out there actually practicing these concepts.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Concealed Carriers MakePractice should involve some live fire, but a lot of it can be done dry. Dry firing is an excellent and free method of practicing trigger control, a proper grip and follow-through. You can also train drawing from concealment, drawing in different positions, and, of course, draw and dry fire. Reloads and failure drills can be done with Snap Cap dummy rounds. You take the skills you practice dry and take them to the range to confirm them, and get that live fire practice in.

3. Playing with the gun

A lot of new concealed carriers constantly play with and fiddle with their weapon and holster. They also tend to tuck their shirt over their weapon, and constantly pull on the shirt to make sure the weapon is covered. You can spot a new concealed carrier a mile away by how much attention they put to a small portion of their hip. It’s not only their hip; trust me, you can see someone with a shoulder holster, too.

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Basically, if you are having to constantly adjust your holster due to comfort or retention issues, then maybe that holster doesn’t work for you, and maybe you should consider a different one. Don’t be afraid that someone will see it printing, or see a small flash of it when you climb out of your car. Most people pay very little attention to anything, especially what’s on your hip.

4. Getting stuck on one caliber

This is a major consideration when you are choosing a firearm. People often get stuck on one caliber versus another, and this often leads to some serious issues in weapon selection. For example, the 357 Magnum people who get stuck on that round may purchase a small, J frame in 357 Magnum and find that a 357 is a bit much for a pocket gun. Instead, focus on a caliber that can penetrate 12 inches of ballistic gel reliably, and one you can shoot well. For me that is 9mm; I can afford to shoot a lot in practice, and the round is sufficient for self-defense. Shot penetration and shot placement are the two most important features for a defensive handgun.

5. Taking advice, and not gaining experience

Everything heard or read regarding firearms should be taken with a grain of salt, even if you agree with everything else someone is saying. Unless you have personal experience with the subject, do not take it as the “gospel.” If you read or hear something you agree with, go out there and actually try it out; it might work for 99 out of a 100 people, and you could be that one. For example, appendix carry has become the most popular gun carrying method to hit the Internet in the last few years, and it works for a lot of people. A lot of reputable trainers use and appreciate it, but, personally, I found it painful and uncomfortable.

My main takeaway: Never trust anything until you try it.

What mistakes would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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There are about 319 million people living in the United States, and approximately 3 million of them are survivalists, preppers, or whatever the parlance is of our times (I prefer to call them realists).

What does that mean? Well, it’s simple math: Only one person in 100 is truly prepared for a failing economy, natural disaster, regional war or pandemic – not to mention a simple job loss. Yes, we’re talking here about the top 1 percent, but in terms of situational awareness, not money.

If you’re among that group, your goal should be maximizing efficiency and reducing costs. That said, let’s look at the top eight prepping mistakes, in no particular order.

1. Not learning survival skills. The most usual frame of mind when prepping is that gear means everything. So, all you have to do is stockpile (food, water, guns, etc.) like there’s no tomorrow. But you must learn at least basic survival skills, i.e., how to fish, hunt, defend yourself, etc.

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Read those survival books, watch YouTube videos, go out camping, go hunting, fishing and so on and so forth. Basically, you should practice what you preach as a “survivalist.” Information is non-perishable, while gear comes and goes.

2. Planning for unrealistic events. For example, you may plan for a nuclear strike while forgetting that you live in a flood/tornado/hurricane/wildfire area. You must prioritize the potentially dangerous situations in your area, be realistic and don’t get lured by the hype.

3. Focusing on just one catastrophic scenario. You can spell disaster in various ways, ranging from losing your job and being unemployed for two years to, let’s say, total economic collapse in North America. You should prepare for everything and if that sounds complicated, just remember the basics of survival. In any given crisis scenario, you’ll need food, water and shelter. The rest are luxuries.

4. Failing to have a properly formulated survival plan. Even in a heist, there’s the man with a plan and the rest are executioners. The same story goes with every situation in life: First plan, then go for it. When disaster strikes, you (and your family) must know what steps are to be taken, what to do next, where to go, where to meet, whom to call and so on and so forth. There is no “one plan to rule them all.” Every plan is individually made to suit your unique situation, i.e., your climate, location, personal resources, etc.

8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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5. Storing all of your eggs in one basket. That is, all of your stockpiles in the same place. By doing that, you will lose all of your supplies/gear in one single catastrophe. You should store your “nest eggs” in different places.

6. Being a total green-horn with your survival gear. Lots of people have stockpiled all sorts of cool survival gear/gadgets, but they are completely unable to use them properly in a disaster situation. You must spend “quality time” and learn how to use your, let’s say, emergency fire-starter kit, especially in a “hairy” situation when you don’t have much time on your hands and you can’t afford to make a mistake.

7. Not storing enough water. Yes, it may sound strange to you, but lots of survivalists fail to achieve this basic goal.

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You can survive without much food for weeks, but the lack of water will kill you much quicker than that, in just 2-3 days depending on the weather. Also, don’t forget to include water purification gear and to learn water collection/creation techniques (there are quite a few).

8. Failing to rotate your food supplies. This can be a very expensive “habit” because food has a tendency to spoil over time. Yet many survivalists tend to store food indefinitely, until they end up with lots of expired stuff that may not be edible. Basically, you must store what you eat and vice versa: Eat what you store. In this way, you’ll avoid waste or potential dangers to your health.

Stay prepared, stay focused, don’t get too comfortable and everything is gonna’ be alright!

What mistakes would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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